T Nation

What's the Process for Bodybuilding/Physique Coaching Like?

When working with a client who’s new to stage competition, what’s the process like?

How does an aspiring bodybuilder or physique/classic physique dude know if they’re ready and how long does it usually take?

Does somebody meet up with a coach, get feedback, work on whatever for a specified period of time and then decide on a show?

I’ve seen some coaches offer “lifestyle” coaching too - which I assume is looking good without being on stage - how would this work?


Sorry I overlooked this question, let me see if I can touch on everything you mentioned.

When I first start working with anyone, I have a pretty in-depth questionnaire I have them fill out. People all come to me with different backgrounds, goals, and ideas about training and nutrition that can be pretty accurate, or pretty off base depending on each situation and what they’ve been exposed to. A real concern if we’re dealing with someone who wants to compete, is how realistic they are with their own starting point. Some, have already built an excellent foundation on their own, while with others, it might be better at least in my opinion to postpone getting on stage until they actually build something to display. There have been times with certain clients where we actually took six months to focus on adding more quality size before even considering dieting down. Both Brad and Rob Were clients of mine where we did something like this.

As far as progression goes, there is a weekly check-in routine that involves constantly providing me with feedback. This involves scale weight, body composition, strength and energy levels, sleep and of course tracking reactions to training routines, dietary changes, and cardio protocols in a large scale manner. This allows us to the detect patterns in the individual responses, as well as not get caught up in overreacting if a single week doesn’t provide the movement we had hoped for.

Timeframe is always an issue, especially if it’s the first time a coach and client are working together. When Rob and I worked together for his first contest season, he did amazing, taking second at a very difficult show. However, we were still figuring out a lot of issues as to how his body responded. As such, when we began our prep for the next year’s contest season, we knew exactly what buttons to hit right out of the starting gate, and the results truly speak for themselves.

“Lifestyle coaching” To Me sounds like a complete scam from people who read way too many self help books. In fact, plenty of the people I see billing them selves as lifestyle coaches are leading lifestyles that would make most successful people shake their head and wonder when these individuals are going to get their stuff to gather.



Thanks for your answer! It’s always been something I been curious about


Or when they’re going to sound like adults.


Lol how many wanna be coaches and gurus preach to us the basics of life on a daily basis through their social media? Good thing I follow so-and-so, or else I might go out without tying my shoe laces properly!



I thought lifestyle coaching was more getting a sustainable look year round without going on stage, but following a similar approach

Stu, I have been meaning to ask you this regarding diet. I am currently dieting down however this question is more for just general curiosity.

When a new client comes in do you have different diet strategies based on their body comp (say a guy with a pot belly vs a guy with jiggly subdermal fat) or is it based more deeply on other factors. This would be given that both of these fellas had the same goal, same overall size but carried bodyweight differently.

Hope that makes sense. Glad this thread popped up I really didn’t wanna create a thread to ask this question. Lol


Getting rid of certain problem spots is really a matter of sticking it out. I knew my love handles would be the last to go. For others it’s the legs or the gut.

“Hi, I’m Joanna. I’m 22 and like I can help you to have it all.”

“You decided to start working with me? Great! We are going to have so much fun together. I can’t wait to start”

“Okay, can you spell mortgage for me?”

Yeah my lower abs and sides never want to get leaner. Lowest I’ve ever dieted Down to was 11-12% and upper abs shown well lower non existent still. I don’t have aspirations to compete but I thinking about dieting down to sub 10% just to say I’ve done it.


Sub 10 is very close to it.

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Yeah I’m dieting down now getting back in shape. I’m 17 lbs down as of this morning but I have that much more to go or more.


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Hey, sorry for the delay, lately my weekends don’t always let me pop online (5 year old son, cat, new puppy, house construction…)

I don’t have a set strategy based solely on their body comp, there are too many variables at play for that, but like I mentioned previously, I"m very reliant on finding out what the individual has done in the past, what they’ve most recently been doing, and of course what results each approach has yielded.

That said, I have read plenty of perspectives that where someone stores their fat can be dependent on just one or two factors, but as someone who tried to always keep things as simple as he can, signs of insulin insensitivity and a typically sedentary lifestyle often point to a lack in ability to handle carbohydrates, and that will factor into where my thinking would be in devising a starting dietary approach.

Of course, there have been instances where someone who is notably “soft” can handle plenty of carbohydrates (provided you’re giving them sufficient activity and reason to utilize the glucose), just that they previous “carb heavy” diet was more an excessive calories diet keeping them fat than just the inability to tolerate high intakes of one macronutrient.

Hope that answers?


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How much does this service typically cost? Industry wide and for you personally if you don’t mind me asking. Just no idea what the ballpark figure is and I realise if I ever actually want to get properly lean I’d need it.

Yes that’s what I was curious about. I’ve seen different trainers/articles stating basically “if you carry your fat like this then it means X”

I was curious if it’s really that cut and dry or are there other factors.

Honestly, I’m routinely amazed at the range I see. You’ve got coaches that charge ridiculous amounts, but everyone knows it’s only because they’re giving drug advice, as one extreme.

The other extreme is usually individuals who may have competed once or twice, taking a personal trainer online course, and are intentionally charging as little as possible to attract any clients they can, in hopes of building up testimonials to build their business.

Something I’ve always explained to my wife is that at the end of the day, you can only charge so much for a certain service. In my case, sure I have a solid educational background and plenty of experience (my own and plenty of clients), BUT I also realize that I’m not spending hours and hours every week on each client. Even with answering a few emails and text messages throughout the week, assessing a weekly update and making necessary adjustments, I don’t typically spend more than an hour each week on any client. With that said, as much as I do love doing this, it has to be at least somewhat worth my time or else why would I be taking time away from my family to even do it?

So while I don’t want to look like I"m hawking my own services on here, I will say that my rationale is that if you’re paying less than the cost of a single session with a commercial gym personal trainer to get weekly advice from an educated and experienced professional so that you aren’t wasting your time, then it’s a pretty darn good deal -lol



On the lines of dieting and being natty.

John actually touches on what Stu said about drug advice a little here as well in regards to cutting weight.

I plan on watching this video later.

I don’t want to be sarcastic. However I’m amazed by the title alone, “can you get ripped naturally?” Huh?!

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I guess it can come down to what you define as ripped, with a potential argument that natural you can get to a certain level of lean, but need drugs to take it further, but I’ve seen supposedly natural guys as lean as any Olympia guy so I guess put me down for a HUH?!? as well.