Despite more exposure, Toney Freeman believes there are less opportunities to make money as a bodybuilder. Here’s why.

In many ways, professional bodybuilding is bigger than it ever has been before. The expos have more fans attending year after year and the prize money has increased across the board. Yet Toney Freeman believes it’s actually overall harder for a bodybuilder to make money. The reason? Over-saturation and too many people giving away their product (physiques) for free. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Toney Freeman goes into detail about why he thinks bodybuilders make less money now than they did in eras past.

Even though prize money for competitions is higher than ever, bodybuilders can’t just rely on prize money to make a living. Unless you are winning the Men’s Open Mr. Olympia, you’ll likely need supplementary income. There are various ways to do this. A bodybuilder can get sponsored. They can start their own company – whether it be supplements, merch, or perhaps personal training. Some bodybuilders even keep their day job – like Ronnie Coleman staying a cop during his pro years.

But Toney Freeman sees a problem in modern bodybuilder. He believes that bodybuilders are having a harder time making the same kind of income as bodybuilders from past eras. He thinks the main reason for this is overexposure via the internet. A bodybuilder’s epic physique is ultimately their product. It’s what sells them to the crowd. For example, if they sell a supplement they need two things. A good product of course but also power behind their name to help build consumer trust and sales. This example can be applied to most endeavors for a bodybuilder’s financial future.

Certainly, there are new opportunities to make money via social media and the internet. We’ve seen people succeed in this avenue. But as Toney Freeman sees it. There are too many people giving away their “product” for free. Social media has given fans unlimited access to top tier physiques. You can watch a guest posing routine for free online the day after it happens. Back in the day, you had to physically be there or own a magazine to see it.

This kind of limited access created a different kind fo demand. And it made it so that bodybuilders had more power when it came to how much money they get for a sponsorship or guest posing appearance.

In fact, over-saturation seems to be a big issue in the bigger picture. There are more supplement companies than ever. Most of these companies can now be direct to consumer through the internet. There’s basically more of everything. More choice means the money is spread out thinner. In some cases for certain individuals this can lead to more opportunity for success. But in general, it also leaves many others in the dust that perhaps would have had more value in previous eras of the sport.

Times always change. And in many ways we are in the middle of a major sea change not just in bodybuilding but in the world. Perhaps we are too close to the situation at the moment to really know if things are better or worse. Toney Freeman sees a problem – but maybe it will pass. Only time will tell.

You can watch Toney Freeman’s full comments in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above!

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.