How to Get Your Bodybuilding (IFBB) Pro Card
A Gruelling Path to Success
If you’ve spent countless years putting yourself through hell at the gym, you might be wanting to take things further and earn a genuine reward for all the muscle-tearing sessions. Sure, you probably look and feel fantastic from your devotion to lifting weights and eating well; but for some, this isn’t enough. You’ve seen others prosper in this world of heavyweights and now you want a taste of the action. A career in bodybuilding is your wish; you want that IFBB Pro card. But how do you go about getting it?
The Reality of Professional Bodybuilding
Gaining your IFBB (International Federation of BodyBuilders) Pro Card means you are part of the elite. At this point you’ve made it, and have the opportunity to follow a genuine career as a professional bodybuilder, earning a decent income by competing and winning. But before you begin thinking of a car upgrade or that dream house, it’s worth considering the reality of doing this for a living.
Getting to a professional level is tough—extremely tough. Out of many hopefuls who give it their all to fight the odds—as well as the competition—only a small handful reach the summit every year; it’ll require perfection to get there. Most bodybuilders will need another source of income to survive while they train and compete, such as a corporate 9-5.
Despite the uphill challenge, some bodybuilders are mentally and physically primed for the top. It’s not good enough to just turn up with the perfect body; the best have bucket-loads of competition experience and stand out from the crowd. If you want to give this a real shot, enter in some smaller contests to test the waters. There are many areas you’ll need to master pre-contest as well as during; from perfecting your diet to posing, oiling and shaving. When you’ve competed many times, you’ll begin to see what works well and how to change things that don’t. Nothing beats competitive stage time; and the more you compete, the more you’ll know if this is for you.
Choosing the Right Division
Before even embarking on your mission to become a pro, you’ll need to consider the four different divisions available at Mr Olympia. This choice will have a huge bearing on your training and diet. Find one most suited to your bodybuilding aims and physique, so you’ll have a solid end-goal in mind.
The Open Division is for the big boys—the top competitors go head-to-head here; Men’s Physique pays close attention to an aesthetic look with less muscle; whereas the Classic Physique is somewhere in between—more muscle than Men’s Physique but less so than the Open Division. Finally, the 212 Olympia is recommended for shorter men who may not be able to put on as much muscle. More details about the divisions can be found here.
How to Earn Your Pro Card
Once you’re convinced that this is the path you want, it’s time to throw everything at it. All the smaller contests—although hugely valuable—were just a warm-up for the real deal. You’re now on a journey to achieve your dream, and it’ll test you to the max.
The first stage for any aspiring bodybuilder is to enter and win or finish high in a regional contest for your weight class. Those lucky enough to get through this phase will be invited to take part in the National Championships contest for their country. These championships will then see overall winners for different weight classes. Only the very best remain now, and the competition goes up yet another level when the winners compete against each other to claim their crown as the champion. The victor will earn the ultimate prize and pick up an IFBB Pro Card. Depending on the country you’re competing in, it’s possible to earn a Pro Card from winning your weight class, even if you don’t end up as the overall champ.
Embrace the Positives
Attempting to get an IFBB Pro Card will present a journey-and-a-half, and at times may feel like you’re walking a tight-rope in the dark. But don’t let that put you off. The experience you’ll gain from pursuing this will be thoroughly rewarding and massive for your bodybuilding life. Just remember that only a select few get their hands on a Pro Card, so go into it with an open mind and a backup plan. Don’t be afraid to give it a crack if you truly believe—this could be your time.