I love bodybuilding, I’ve been training since I was 15, competing since 18 and still am to this day. I’m 34 now, not old by any means and have plenty of year’s competing yet. In this time I have competed in about 30 contests ranging from my local gym club show, to the Nabba Mr Universe.

I have been with my wife now for 15 years, and have a 12 year old son, we met whilst I was on contest prep so they have pretty much been through all aspects of the competitive bodybuilding lifestyle with me from the start. I feel that this subject is very relevant and that I’m in a good position to give my views on this.

From starting training to this point now, I have had a few training partners who have also competed but have also seen many others in the various gyms I’ve trained in going through contest preparation all with varying degrees of success and various methods used to do this.

One overriding factor I have heard a lot over the years is that a lot of peoples relationships and family life have suffered as a result of this, and it’s easy to see how, bodybuilding is a 24/7 lifestyle, eating, training, rest, supplementation to name but a few factors and it’s easy for some to take all of these to the extremes in the pursuit of their ideal physique.

By nature bodybuilders can be very selfish and have to sacrifice some parts of their life to be successful, after all our physiques are our skill. It’s not like a golfer who can put his clubs away, or a football player who can take his strip off at the end of the game.

I believe and tell everyone who asks me for advice that we need to have an equal balance between chasing our goals to spending quality time with the family and keeping a happy, healthy family life, bodybuilding may be a lifestyle but after all it’s YOUR chosen lifestyle and hobby, no one forces you to do it, it’s your choice.

Your main support network isn’t someone from the gym, or some on line coach, it’s your loved ones and those close to you who spend every day with you, if they support you, the stress levels are reduced your chances of success increase.
I’m sure you have all heard or know of someone who’s relationship has suffered, or even ended during a contest preparation stage, whether it be for the person being moody, angry or being too selfish in what they expect their partner to do for them. I even know one person whose wife made him move out into a rented flat during his contest preparation so she did not have to be around him, imagine that?? The person supposed to be closest to you doesn’t want to be around you!

To me balance is key, and a happy family life should be more important that a trophy on the mantel piece!

This is how I manage mine:

I train 4 days per week, approximately 1 hour per session straight from work, my cardio is done first thing in the morning. Food prep (excluding breakfast) is done whilst preparing the evening meal, which we always eat together as a family. This leaves plenty of free time.

Weekends to me are time off, so regardless what stage prep or off season Saturday and Sunday are always off days, if I do an extra training session on these days I choose to do this early in the morning so the full day is then free.

Don’t spend all your money on supplements or “other” bodybuilding supplements, just because someone else is using a certain product, doesn’t mean you have to!

What’s the point of having a cupboard full of products if you can’t afford to eat or at worst pay for your house!

Enjoy time away, holidays, days out breaks with those closest to you, time out to take your mind off “macros” (which I never count I’d rather put my effort into training) means you will be happier and when your happy your trainings better therefore better progression.

Remember those who mean most to you, I’m very lucky that my wife and son support me 100% (or nothing) sorry dad joke.
I’d hate to be doing this and both of them resenting me for it and not supporting me at contests, remember after all this is your choice to do this and your choice to eat this way, don’t expect that because you won’t eat a certain food the rest of your family shouldn’t, those who are closest to you give you the best support.

Chris O’Neil