Updated: May 14
Has bodybuilding become your obsession? Perhaps you find yourself always talking about the subject, always aiming to gain new knowledge to apply during workouts, and your favorite movie is definitely Pumping Iron. Becoming an IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) Pro is a dream for many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. The IFBB Pro League is the premier professional bodybuilding organization in the world, and earning a pro card is a significant achievement for any bodybuilding athlete. It is a very competitive and difficult process, that only a few are willing to undertake. For those that believe they have the genetics, discipline, and burning desire, here are the steps you can take to becoming an IFBB Pro:
Build a Strong Foundation:
The first step to becoming an IFBB Pro is to build a strong foundation of knowledge and experience in bodybuilding and fitness. This means learning the proper form and technique for exercises, understanding the principles of nutrition and dieting, and developing a consistent training routine. The best bodybuilders have a strong knowledge of the fundamentals of physiological processes, kinesiology, and perhaps biochemistry. Many IFBB Pros have been bodybuilding for many years, it takes time to build a knowledge base and a physique that you can be proud of and prepared to show off on stage. Breaking the seal of competition is the first hurdle for a bodybuilder. Competing requires a lot of time and resources, particularly at the beginning of an athlete’s career. Even professional bodybuilders partner up with more experienced coaches to help advance them forward in the competition stage. As cliché as it may be, the important thing here is to just do.
Compete in Local Shows:
The next step is to compete in local bodybuilding and fitness shows. This will help you gain experience and build your reputation within the industry. It's important to start with smaller shows and work your way up to larger, more competitive events. This will allow you to gain experience with the structure of bodybuilding competition, and the posing involved during a show. There are many things involved in leading up to a show such as dieting, water weight manipulation, and even training changes during this process. Not to mention, Local shows also allow you to meet other like-minded individuals and network with them. There are many organizations such as the NPC (National Physique Committee), which is the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the USA, that hosts local competitions. The NPC requires its athletes to hold a registration.
Win a National Qualifier:
To earn an IFBB Pro Card, you need to win a national-level competition. This means competing against other top-level bodybuilders from around the world. Winning a national qualifier is a significant achievement and requires a lot of hard work and dedication. By this point, the athlete has proven their experience through multiple local shows and has shown growth and competitiveness amongst their peers. To enter into the pro-qualifying events you must either place top five at a national qualifier (gets you into the North American Championship) or place top three (gets you into the USA and National Contests)
Attend IFBB Pro Qualifying Events:
Once you have won a national qualifier, you will be eligible to compete in IFBB Pro qualifying events. These events are highly competitive and require the best of the best to earn a pro card. The competition is advanced at this level, but if you’ve made it this far, you deserve to be here. There are three contests held by the NPC: North American Championships, USA Championships, and The National Championships. The qualifying events will involve bodybuilders from all over the world fighting for the chance to compete for a pro card. They are held in various countries from the USA to Brazil, Korea, and Japan to name a few.
Win an IFBB Pro Show:
This is the pinnacle of professional bodybuilding and requires the highest level of dedication and skill. Winning a pro show automatically gets you a ticket onto the Mr. Olympia stage where only a small percentage actually get to step on. Pro shows work on a point scale where at the end of the season the top 5 athletes with the highest number of points qualify to compete on the prestigious stage. At the level of an IFBB Pro, the prized payouts are significantly higher and worth competing for.
It's important to have a strong work ethic, discipline, and mental toughness to succeed in the highly competitive world of professional bodybuilding. At any level, a committed bodybuilder can be supported by endorsement deals. Only those with the best genetics, muscle development, and definition can achieve an IFBB pro card, and compete for big payouts. It's also important to work with a coach or mentor who can help guide you through the process and provide support along the way. For those that think they have what it takes, it can be a fulfilling career path.