Personal trainer, fitness model, published fitness writer, former US Marine, and an entrepreneur Clark Bartram gets real about functional tactics for bodybuilding success.

For those who don’t know the name Clark Bartram, you certainly know his face and physique. He’s donned the cover of countless fitness magazines, not just as a model, but also as knowledgable fitness trainer and accomplished writer within features of many magazines. Bartram found immense success not by following the pre-determined paths bodybuilding and fitness provided – but by forging his own and looking at fitness through a marketing mind. In Generation Iron and Barbend’s latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show, Clark Bartram talks about the essential truths all bodybuilding hopefuls must face in order to achieve true success.

Clark Bartram isn’t successful because he has a great physique, he’s successful because he forged a unique path to make him essential in the bodybuilding and fitness world. Yes, having an impressive physique is mandatory to end up on fitness magazine covers. But there are hundreds of bodybuilders all pushing for shredded physiques. The key to sustainable success has everything to do with creating a unique story that brings attention to you. It’s about transforming yourself into a brand.

This notion isn’t anything new to many young people of today. In the modern world of social media influencers, making your personality and life story a brand is almost commonplace across the globe. Clark Bartram understood this decades earlier – before the internet was ubiquitous and YouTubers were asking you to “smash” the subscribe button.

This proves how the core values behind success remain the same regardless of how the medium shifts. Which is why Mike O’Hearn invited him onto the podcast this week to discuss the most vital techniques that are often overlooked in the bodybuilding world in regards to turning it into a career you can live and flourish on. Let’s jump into it.

“That was my calling card – I’m always in shape.”

– Clark Bartram


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Competitive bodybuilding trophies are not the only way to success in fitness

The IFBB Pro league is bigger than it ever has been. It’s the leading pro bodybuilding federation and is a fantastic platform for the fitness-obsessed to make a name for themselves. Whether you are into more model looks like Bikini and Men’s Physique or want to hulk out in bigger divisions such as Classic Physique and Men’s Open – there’s a platform for every kind of fitness lover on the pro bodybuilding stage.

There’s no denying that success in bodybuilding, especially shows like the Arnold Classic and the Olympia, can lead to greater success through sponsorships and business opportunities. It’s often seen as the most direct path to living off of bodybuilding without working a “day job.”

However, this path is also too often leaned on by many bodybuilders today. Many believe that earning a pro card is the same as becoming a pro athlete in the NFL. Instant cash, big income, and big time living. This is far from the truth in pro bodybuilding. But that doesn’t mean you can’t become a massive success and live off of your love of the bodybuilding lifestyle.

Clark Bartram understood very early on that he didn’t want to be a competitive bodybuilder, despite his impressive physique and hard work put in. This was due to the long periods of time he would have to be off-season bulking up and being out of shape. Bartram was already making his way into magazine covers. But instead of doing it the normal way (waiting to be noticed via his competition successes), he made opportunities for himself.

He decided that he would be in shape 24/7 – so that he can jump into a magazine cover shoot at a moment’s notice. Over time, his preparedness and instant availability became well known. Add onto that the fact that Bartram is a certified master trainer – and he was able to parlay his magazine cover appearances into featured articles in the magazines.

For Clark Bartram, he understood early on that having a marketing mind about his own self was paramount to success in bodybuilding media. He turned himself into a brand. His x-factor was always being in shape 24/7.

Clark Bartram warns young rising bodybuilders that they need to think beyond just competing. Winning pro bodybuilding shows can’t be a means to simply become famous. That alone won’t work – and you don’t even have a guarantee that you will win enough to even make an impression. Bartram advises all bodybuilders to try and understand their personal story. If it was a movie, what are the most interesting parts? And how can that be parlayed into a brand that stands out among the crowd?

“I was never asked to be on a magazine cover. I made it happen. That’s the difference between me and you [Mike O’Hearn].”

– Clark Bartram


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The two most important questions to ask yourself as a bodybuilder

This leads us to the two most important questions that Clark Bartram asks his clients when they train under his tutelage. These questions are designed to change the way you perceive success in bodybuilding. To look past the pre-set paths.

First, Clark Bartram wants you to ask yourself – why do you want to get your pro card? This exercise helps to understand what your end game is. Because sometimes your end game might not need a pro card or bodybuilding competition success. It’s just the track you convince yourself is needed – but instead it might be better to define your own path.

This leads to the second question Clark Bartram wants you to ask yourself – how will you set yourself apart? How will you define your path? Following what other people did to succeed will only lead to diminishing returns. Every other successful bodybuilder before this moment got there through forging their own path. Being the next good looking person isn’t unique enough. You need to have a unique story. A unique angle. It’s not easy to figure out – but it’s important.

Wrap Up

Clark Bartram and Mike O’Hearn go into such incredible detail during their interview – there’s simply too much to mention all in one article. That’s why you should make sure to watch the full podcast episode – especially if you are an aspiring bodybuilder looking to make the passion your life.

You can watch Clark Bartram’s full comments in our latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show above. Make sure to check back every Friday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.