10 Things I Wished I Knew About Bodybuilding

10 Bodybuilder Facts
  • May 5, 2020

Bodybuilder and Personal Trainer

My name is Jessa Rica Arevalo. I’ve been a personal trainer for 8 years and been bodybuilding for 6 years. I’ve been Nationally Qualified in the NPC and have goals in becoming an IFBB Pro. I am also a demo representative for 8x Olympian Ronnie Coleman.

Jessa on Bench Press

Live And Lift

Jessa Workout Session
Bodybuilding Coaching is fundamental

Coaching Is Fundamental

What I Wish I Knew

1. If you already have body image issues.. this may not be the sport for you. Why do most people want to compete? Oh, that’s right.. you want to lose x amount of pounds.. you want to look like that girl/guy in fitness magazines, you want to push your body to new heights? Everyone sees the results us competitors get after prep.. not many of you know the mental battles we have with ourselves.. especially women. I’ve done 3 bodybuilding shows, and every single prep. is torture. You work your butt off for 6 months or so, and see your body at its absolute best only to go back to what you perceive “is average” (but, it’s really not). If you already have underlying body image issues, keep this in mind because it can get much worse post-show.

Jessa Bodybuilding BTS

2. PEAK WEEK is when you will look your absolute best but, it comes with 7 days of extreme hunger, fatigue, hormone imbalances, and weakness. For those of you who don’t know, peak week is the week before you step on stage and normally most competitors will be drinking loads of water and even cut carbs to achieve the “dry” or “shredded” look. We look lean as possible, but, deep inside, we just want to crawl in the corner and sit there. Most competitors try to front about feeling great during peak week, but we are all at a low caloric intake at this point. And I’ll speak for all the women; OUR BODIES ARE NOT MEANT TO BE THAT LOW IN BODY FAT. You are going to feel super uncomfortable.

3. COACHING IS FUNDAMENTAL. Do your research. Make sure they have the right credentials and experience. Just because someone does a particular show doesn’t make them qualified to  Coach you for bodybuilding. There’s a science to everything. You need to really know your stuff. I get asked all the time if I can train someone to compete for a show and I always tell them NO and refer them to someone that I can trust. I don’t have experience with coaching someone for a bodybuilding competition, and if someone is going to step on stage, I want to make sure they invest their money in the right place. I had my own bad experiences with just trusting just anyone who wanted to train me. (I was young and didn’t know any better).

4. YOU WILL INVEST THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS INTO BODYBUILDING. If only I could really break down the expenses a competitor will spend on themselves if they don’t obtain a sponsor. It gets even more expensive the more serious you get with it. Some people have to fly out to different states and get hotels. Bodybuilding is an investment. I never minded spending on myself because it’s my passion, but keep that in mind before you want to give it a shot.

5. POSING. Posing was something I had to learn. People see competitors step on stage and think it’s easy to just freeze in a certain position, but when you’re tired and hungry – and in heels – OOOOH BOY! The one thing you try to worry about the first time around is not falling on stage and falling over. ?

Bodybuilding takes work

6. If you are going to join this sport, please understand that all the people you look up to (those that have your dream body) had to invest a lot of TIME to build it. Don’t go into bodybuilding expecting yourself to be an overnight success. Don’t come into a show thinking you won’t lose because you have good genetics or have been more fit than your inner circle. It’s a different playing field out there. Humble yourself and understand building your body and sculpting it takes time.

7. DON’T EXPECT IT TO MAKE SENSE TO ANYONE ELSE BUT YOU. Bodybuilding is a selfish sport. It’s all about you. You are in your own lane. You will make your own sacrifices; skipping family dinners, avoiding trips to keep yourself on track for a show. Fitness competitors will invest 2 hours of cardio to the gym and additional hours for weight training. Some people will be like: “you’re crazy! I love food too much. You’re torturing yourself”. No, we are not torturing ourselves. We get the satisfaction of finishing what we started and doing things 95% of other people wouldn’t do. We love this!

8. LIVE AND LIFT, DON’T LIVE TO LIFT. One thing I wished someone would have brought to my attention is all the time I lost with loved ones in my life because I was doing a show. And when I do a show I tend to have tunnel vision. I am an all-in kind of girl. I go 100% or none at all. I can be so focused on a show that I will avoid all people at all costs because that’s how driven I can become. But to what expense? To look good for a day and win a trophy? As you compete for a good minute, you’ll eventually learn and understand competing isn’t everything. :: Your family :: Your friends :: Living life to the fullest :: Those are the most important things

9. YOU WILL BREAK YOURSELF LITERALLY. You have to lift heavy. Do sets you’re uncomfortable with in order to achieve the look it takes to win. I started off skinny. I had to eat a certain way, and I had to lift heavier. Lifting heavy can do a lot for and to your body. Bodybuilding is an awarding sport, but the journey to get there is not rainbows and butterflies. It takes work. It takes passion. It takes determination. 

10. Every prep will be different. EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE. From my experience, each prep feels as if it gets a little more challenging every single time. Your body won’t be losing fat the same way each time. It’s always going to adapt and adjust. Don’t be frustrated if you compete one year and the next year it takes 8 months to cut compared to the 3 months prep you did before. Our bodies are unpredictable, and this is exactly why I always go with a Coach that knows their stuff.

All of these things took time to learn, but once I understood them I enjoyed bodybuilding more than ever. And the results are always fantastic. I usually do what I can to find a photographer to capture these milestones because each year is different than the last. Finding photographers can be tough because of the complexity of the body structure and the art behind the beauty of it. Check out some shots from my session below, and be sure to check out some key points to know when looking for a photographer in fitness and bodybuilding.

Fitness Photography with Emilia

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