Have you read our post on deciding whether you are ready to start a bodybuilding prep yet? Whatever you goal, whether it is a cut or bulk, you may have decided that you want to take on a coach to guide you. There is a reason why plenty of top coaches have coaches themselves. No matter how educated you are on nutrition, programming, supplements, it can be difficult to look at yourself objectively. Having someone that you trust take responsibility saves a lot of stress and allows you to put your energy into other aspects of your life.
First off, here's what not to do when choosing a coach:
- Go for the cheapest coach. You are literally putting your health into this persons hands.
- Pick someone just because they work at your gym or are local. If you have an excellent coach local to you, perfect. But there are lots of of coaches who have mastered online communication and check ins. Don't go for convenience.
So with those two massive no nos in mind, here's what you should be looking for.
How responsive are they?
This is where it's useful to exchange a few messages with the potential coach before deciding to work with them. Do they take 5 days to respond to an enquiry? Do they seem willing to have a thorough consultation or do they just want to take your money immediately? Deep into a prep, things can change dramatically day to day. Ideally, you want a coach who will receive your check in and respond within a day, and be fairly easily to get hold of to answer smaller day to day questions (assuming you're not crossing the line, they're a coach, not a therapist!). You are going to have a lot of back and forth contact with this person over the following months, there needs to be a good rapport.
Do they use a specific style of dieting?
If you enjoy a flexible, macro based approach, you're probably not suited to a coach who prefers to dish out a strict meal plan. Be clear about what you've found works for you and any dietary needs you have (vegan, gluten free, lactose intolerance) in the initial contact stage.
What is their education/experience balance like?
This is a tough one, as someone can have lots of one, but be lacking in the other and neither automatically make someone a good coach, but they help. It helps to go with a coach that you have been aware of for a while so that you know, from the content they put out, what areas they specialise in (digestion, hormones, programming, etc) and what client transformations they share.
How have their past clients done?
Keep in mind the previous point, now look more specifically into their experience. A coach may have worked with a string of successful bikini girls, but if you are a class 1 bodybuilder, can they adapt to suit your individual needs? You may want to contact some of their previous clients to ask about their experience.
How adherent and ready are you?
You could have the best coach in the world, but if you're going off the plan, you're not going to get the results you want. If you are not coachable, be honest with yourself and focus on getting your mind right and hitting more general targets, such as gym 4x a week, no more than 2 'treat' meals a week, X amount of steps, etc. A coach can only help to keep to motivated to a certain extent, the majority needs to be internal.
Keep in mind that, when you have a coach, you are representing them and their business.