The Harsh Reality: Victor Martinez’s Biggest Do’s and Don’ts For Making Money In Bodybuilding

In the latest episode of the Generation Iron Podcast, Victor Martinez and the GI crew discuss the harsh realities about making money in bodybuilding. Is it realistic to expect pro bodybuilding to be your main career? What are the odds of turning bodybuilding into your day job? And is social media now a mandatory component to gaining bodybuilding success?

In addition to this topic, Victor Martinez also discusses whether or not protein powders are overrated and a waste of money – as well as discussing the recent controversy surrounding the bodybuilding film Magazine Dreams.

As always, Victor holds nothing back with his honest and transparent truths in the world of bodybuilding. Let’s dive in!


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Best Ways To Make Money In Bodybuilding

Transitioning from a passion for bodybuilding to a full-fledged career is a common aspiration, but the hosts shed light on the realities and challenges of such a pursuit. How does one turn bodybuilding into their day job? Their main source of income?

Unlike many other professional sports – you don’t get a salary for simply being pro. You have to win and earn prize money. So what’s the safest way to build a path towards bodybuilding as a career?

Victor Martinez started the discussion by emphasizing the importance of learning through experience. He encouraged aspiring bodybuilders to dive into the competitive arena early, noting that waiting for the perfect moment might hinder progress. The best learning is doing – and jumping into your first bodybuilding show headfirst can teach you a lot.

Martinez’s advice extended beyond physical training, emphasizing mental fortitude and self-awareness. Being critical of one’s progress, combined with a positive mindset, contributes to success in a field as competitive as bodybuilding. By jumping into your first bodybuilding show – you’ll be humbled immediately. You’ll have the most objective understanding on your progress and how much more you need to improve.

Contrary to the traditional belief – winning competitions is not the sole gateway to a bodybuilding career. Martinez highlighted the potential of building a brand and business through social media. Charisma, digital media skills, and a love for bodybuilding can carve out a niche in the industry without necessarily being a competitive bodybuilder.

Victor mentions this because the truth is that it is very hard to make competitive bodybuilding your career and main source of income. Unlike many other sports, you only get paid if you win. And the difference in prize money between first place and second is a big one.

Victor notes that you can barely compare bodybuilding to any other popular pro sport. Bodybuilding simply isn’t even close in the scale of income it can provide athletes. He notes that even the worst NBA player makes more than the average pro bodybuilder:

“Get the worst, worst, absolute worst NBA basketball player that averages 20 points in the season, not in a game, and he still makes more money than a pro bodybuilder.”

– Victor Martinez

More importantly, Victor Martinez and Ehsan Farahi both point out that getting a pro card is easier today than it was decades ago. So simply being a pro bodybuilder does not guarantee that you will make good income off of it. Back in the day, gaining a pro card was hard, less were given, so getting one meant that you truly are entering the best of the best.

Today, many more pro cards are given out – and many competitors get their card and then don’t ever win a show on the pro stage. So going pro is just a very early step in finding bodybuilding success competitively. The next and harder step is to start winning shows, particularly winning notable shows, and earning a reputation for yourself to attract sponsors. This is harder in the pro divisions now more than ever – because there are more pros now than ever before.

Ehsan also points out that once you become a pro bodybuilder – no one is paying you to train in the gym or paying you for “practice.” Everything leading up to a bodybuilding show from the training, diet, and supplements – is all on your money. That’s not a career. That’s just putting in the work. The “career” part is when you have a big name sponsorship and the responsibilities that come with being the face of that brand.

Is Social Media A Mandatory Part Of Succeeding As A Pro Bodybuilder?

Addressing the necessity of social media presence, Victor Martinez affirmed its importance in a visually-driven sport like bodybuilding. While there may be some who do not enjoy using social media – it certainly makes a big impact in how successful you can be in the sport of bodybuilding.

No social media won’t help you win shows – but it will play a large part in building your brand, your reputation, and your ability to get attention from sponsors (or building a business on your own).

Vlad Yudin asks Victor Martinez if he would consider social media a mandatory part to finding success in bodybuilding. Victor believes that, yes, you must use social media if you want to succeed in this sport. For better or worse, social media is now a part of mainstream life – and it’s certainly a big part of bodybuilding.

If you choose to not use social media, you’re simply removing a tool you have to find success in the sport. Everyone else who does choose to use social media will have that advantage over you.

Whey Protein: To Powder or Not to Powder?

Victor Martinez tackled a fan’s question that has likely crossed the minds of many fitness enthusiasts: Is whey protein powder a waste of money? Victor Martinez responded with insights that emphasize the importance of aligning protein supplementation with individual fitness goals.

Martinez highlighted that protein powders, specifically whey, effectively aid muscle recovery post-workout. However, he emphasized the need for a nuanced approach, suggesting that the decision to incorporate protein powder should be based on one’s fitness objectives and overall dietary plan. Whether it’s an off-season bulk, a pursuit of mass muscle, or a toned physique resembling Men’s Physique, the appropriateness of protein powder usage varies.

Martinez’s advice is clear – protein powders are not inherently wasteful; instead, their efficacy depends on the synergy with an individual’s fitness goals and dietary strategy. He strongly recommends post-workout protein intake as a fundamental component of bodybuilding plans, dispelling the notion that protein powders are a mere luxury.

RELATED: The Top 11 Best Protein Powder Supplements for Strength of 2024 (Researched and Tested)

Dilemma of Controversy: The Case of “Magazine Dreams”

The hosts delved into a contentious topic – the unreleased movie Magazine Dreams, starring Jonathan Majors. Despite Majors facing allegations of abuse and harassment, the hosts weighed the impact on bodybuilding fans and contributors to the film, including Mike O’Hearn.

Victor Martinez expressed optimism about the film eventually seeing the light of day, anticipating that another studio might pick it up post-controversy. The hosts unanimously agreed that the actions of one individual should not overshadow the collective efforts of those involved in the project.

The conversation extended to a broader ethical question – whether individuals convicted or accused of crimes should face complete cancellation. Victor Martinez argued against a blanket cancellation, reserving such consequences for severe offenses.

He also highlighted the influence of wealth and power, referencing instances where individuals with substantial resources evaded severe consequences. Using Dana White as an example, it seems White has avoided any sort of cancellation or repercussion after he was seen in a recording physically harming his wife. Compare that to Jonathan Majors, who was just rising as a star in Hollywood.

One person’s career ended. The other person is still the face of UFC. Victor Martinez points out that this is because Dana White is far more wealthly and also has the extreme power in the UFC organization.

“The law is full of sh*t. It’s just about how much money you have.”

– Victor Martinez

Wrap Up

In conclusion, the Generation Iron Podcast offers a multifaceted exploration of bodybuilding, blending practical advice, industry insights, and engaging discussions on relevant topics. From the practicality of protein powders to the challenges of forging a career in bodybuilding, the hosts provide valuable perspectives for both seasoned bodybuilders and aspiring enthusiasts.

You can watch the full episode above. And don’t forget to check back every week for new episodes of the podcast only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded!

*Images courtesy of Generation Iron & Instagram @abdmstudio

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.