So here’s the thing: I’ve never really thought much about dating a bodybuilder until I was dating one.
Because, really, I just thought, “How much different would it be to date him and or date a no-workout kind of guy?”
It wasn’t until we’ve been through the first few months and then the first few years of the relationship that I’ve started to realize just how wrong I was.
There are always two sides to dating bodybuilders. There are benefits and disadvantages. I can’t go around explaining all these to all women and men out there who are being discouraged to date bodybuilders.
So just bear with me. Because when it comes to keeping a healthy relationship with a bodybuilder, there are these 20 things that you always have to keep in mind.
1. Food is always a big deal
The upside to this is that your partner will always know what they want to eat and when they need to eat it.
You won’t ever need to reach for a calorie intake calculator because you’re going to have a living, breathing one of your own.
While it’s true that they eat clean and healthy, bodybuilders tend to need a lot more than an average person would.
A study by the Sports Performance Research in New Zealand determined that the optimal amount of protein per kilogram of body weight to build muscles is around 2.3 to 3.1 grams (1).
A normal-sized chicken breast only has 31 grams of protein. Imagine how many of those they’d need to eat per day if they relied solely on chicken breasts for protein (4)!
2. Appreciate their hard work
They’re not doing it for you or anyone else. They’re doing it for themselves. But as a bodybuilder’s girlfriend, it’s never out of place for you to appreciate their hard work.
Other bodybuilders inspire a bodybuilder, but support should come from home.
It’s great to be appreciated by a bodybuilding idol, but it’s an entirely different feeling to be admired and appreciated by someone close to the heart.
While some people see my beau and see their bulk, I take one look at him and see hours, days, weeks and even months of hard work.
I see everything he’s had to go through. I was there when his muscles were sore, and he’s had to fight through the pain and use the muscles to accelerate the healing.
I was there through the sweat and the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) (5). I saw the discipline he’s had to maintain while working to get that picture-perfect physique.
3. Time could be an issue
Early on in our relationship, I was quite easily frustrated that he didn’t have enough time for me.
My man would spend around 2 to 3 hours in the gym 4 to 5 times a week, and that is on top of his 8-hour regular day job.
When we got to hang out, I’d catch him reading bodybuilding forums looking for tips on how to enhance his bodybuilding style, or just looking for new recipes for his diet.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve been more understanding. I outgrew my early relationship frustrations, and they’re our inside joke now.
As much as it upset me that he had so little time for me, I began to understand that he’s working so hard towards a lifelong dream.
It wasn’t right for me to stand between him and his goal just because I wanted to spend more time with him. He never really asked for anything much, so it meant the world to him when I started to understand and support him.
He still spends at least 10 hours a week in the gym, but now I’ve grown accustomed to his schedule.
4. The gym is their safe place
I didn’t work out much before I dated a bodybuilder. The gym for me was a place I went to because my clothes didn’t fit me anymore.
I’d have skipped the gym if I could slim down without having to work out.
I never understood how some people could stand being in the gym and working out for the better part of the week.
Little did I know that the gym was an oasis for a bodybuilder.
A University of London study proved that the gym can give bodybuilders purpose and direction (9).
It fuels their desire to gain more control over their lives. A gym is also a place where they feel they’re training more than just their body but also their minds.
And this is good for the relationship too. If your partner is a serious bodybuilder, you’ll never have to worry about where he is and what he’s doing.
If they’re not with you, they’re probably just at the gym working out.
If they’re training for a competition, you will never see them drinking because bodybuilding and alcohol don’t mix.
This also means that you’re always going to have a designated driver.
5. They can be overprotective
They’re big and strong, so they kind of have this mentality that small and fragile you should be protected. It’s funny at times, but sometimes it can be quite overwhelming as well.
I found Max Philisaire’s YouTube channel. He’s a fitness coach, an athlete, and an entertainer.
The videos in his Overprotective Boyfriend series show how bodybuilders are so protective of their girlfriends in public and how they could act and react when they feel somebody just looking at their girl.
It’s funny to me because that was my boyfriend when we first started dating.
He seemed to think that my size was equal to my ability to protect myself, and would go the extra mile to make sure that I feel secure and protected.
6. Say hello to routines
It’s not just about how they exercise. It’s about everything they do and how they do it in general.
Once you start to appreciate bodybuilding and see it as more than just your beau’s hobby, you’d be inspired by how much time and effort goes into bodybuilding.
A lot happens in a bodybuilder’s day. When preparing for a contest, they’d devote almost half of their waking lives to bodybuilding.
On regular days, even if they have full-time jobs, their bodybuilding diets and habits form a huge part of their day. They start their day with balanced high-protein meals.
During work, their meals would be just as carefully selected to ensure they don’t lose momentum and sustain their muscle gain.
They’d spend most of their free time at work visualizing how their workout should go when they get to the gym.
When it’s finally time to work out, their focus is unparalleled, their determination unmatched. They’d eat about six carefully weighed portions for their meals through the day.
After practicing their flexes for about half an hour or so, they’d say hello to a full, 8-hour night of sleep. They’d do the same the day after.
7. There’d be a lot of flexing and lots of mirrors
If you’re not the kind of person who spends a lot of time in front of a mirror, this one might bug you.
Gym walls have floor-to-ceiling mirrors and don’t be surprised if you see a couple of full-body mirrors in your partner’s house.
A bodybuilder will spend a long time in front of a mirror, flexing.
The art of flexing to show the most muscle is an art that bodybuilders aim to perfect. Because it’s not just about building their muscles; it’s also about being able to show them off.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your love interest is a self-absorbed narcissist. Though mostly all of them enjoy seeing themselves in mirrors, not all bodybuilders are narcissists.
True and mentally unhealthy narcissism disrupts normal, everyday lives.
While admiring oneself is a narcissistic trait, it doesn’t automatically follow that your partner’s admiration for their body makes them a narcissist (10).
8. You may get jealous of admirers
Bodybuilders exude this kind of confidence that stems from how satisfied they are with their body.
My boyfriend’s broad shoulders, six-pack abs, and big biceps never fail to make me swoon, and I would always admire his strong confidence.
It was early on that I realized that the combination of muscles and confidence make other girls swoon too.
I’m not at all bothered by the admiration he gets from fellow male bodybuilders, but I get a wee bit alarmed when a female bodybuilder expresses her admiration for my man.
It all boils down to how he treats me though, and after a bout of jealousy, I feel a bit guilty as well.
Women tend to like lean athletic men more than muscular ones.
However, it doesn’t mean that women don’t stare, because I’ve seen it happen many times. Women stare at bodybuilders for a lot of reasons, number one being curiosity.
9. Gym clothes are everyday clothes
Tank tops and muscle shirts are everyday clothes, and there’s no way around it. Wearing appropriate clothing is a must for athletes.
Proper gym clothes make for safer, more efficient workouts. Bodybuilders also prefer these types of clothes as they also tend to show off the bodybuilder’s physique better.
In the past, muscular men and women were limited in terms of clothes they can buy or wear.
Because of their bulk, their sizes would fit differently than it would on a non-muscular person. My boyfriend would sometimes even have his tank top and gym pants tailored to fit.
In modern times, however, bodybuilders are given lots of clothing options. They can buy both high-end and more affordable clothing from well-known brands.
Brands now carry suits, dress shirts, blazers, and jackets that are built for those on the muscular side.
10. Be prepared for gym talk
If you’re not a regular gym-goer like me, there’s a high chance you’d be bothered that he’d often talk about the gym.
It’s nothing personal, and it doesn’t mean he likes being at the gym more than he loves being with you.
Believe me when I say there’s drama in there even if it’s an all-male cast.
They have their gym buddies, their spotters, their idols and the gym is a jungle of different people.
There are serious bodybuilders in there, while some are there just for the selfies.
There are loads of things he’d like to tell you about the gym, much like there are loads of things you’d like to say to him about what’s happening at the office.
He’s telling you about your day and the least you could do is to listen to his stories and act interested even if you aren’t.
It’s the one place they feel very passionate about and it’s unfair to deny them the freedom to express their feelings.
11. You’re going to learn some new things
When you’ve been with a bodybuilder who likes to tell you about their day at the gym, you’ll be introduced to gym lingo (11).
You’ll quickly learn the difference between a barbell and a dumbbell, and between a treadmill and an elliptical.
You’ll understand when he says his gym buddy, Steve, has resorted to cheap reps and the trainer’s had to cut him out of it.
You’ll also know how he’s almost always talking about his biceps and his triceps when he’s talking about guns.
Whether you’d like it or not, you’ll be introduced to various types of workouts and diets.
LCIF (low carb intermittent fasting), HIIT (high-intensity interval training), strength training, and cardio will be everyday terms to you.
And if you take it seriously, you might even learn how to expertly count calories on your own!
12. Look forward to a healthier you
Being a natural bodybuilder means they have healthy eating habits.
Their sleeping habits are amazing too. They need to sleep a solid 8 hours every night.
They start their day early, and they always have room for some exercise at the end of the day.
If you follow and convert their diets and habits to suit that of an average person, it’s hard to be unhealthy.
A bodybuilder knows full well the effect of healthy living can have on one’s body, and they will always try to talk you into being healthier as well.
13. They will feel the need to show off
The need to show off will eventually resurface. They’ve worked hard for their bodies and the temptation to flex is a strong one.
The good thing about this is there is a time when you’re going to need it.
If you’ve brought home more groceries than you can handle, you could expect them running to you and scooping all those grocery bags in one arm and one trip if at all possible.
You’ll never have to physically carry a heavy load when you’re together.
You’ll enjoy shopping without your arms getting sore. He might even carry you for fun. They’d savor the attention and you’ll get a good laugh out of it, so it’s a win-win situation.
14. Never give them an ultimatum
“Me or the gym?” If it doesn’t interfere with your everyday lives, why would you even give the ultimatum in the first place?
If you say you want to test it out, girl, don’t even bother. This is one question you should never, ever ask under any circumstance.
Use your common sense. Your partner would choose you in a life-or-death situation, but you have to understand that the gym is more than just a place they go to for their workouts.
They have friends there and people they care about out of training. It’s where they feel most at ease.
They shouldn’t have to pick between two things they love about.
If you really care about the person, you shouldn’t have them put their dream down so that you could spend more time with them.
Else, you’re going to learn the hard way that training comes before everything else.
15. Help them prepare
You don’t need to start heading to the gym to help them prepare because a part of their preparation starts at home.
When preparing for contests, bodybuilders would start easing themselves up of carbohydrates. The lowered carb intake would make them prone to mood swings.
Their mental energy may also decrease so that conversations will be shorter and more tiring for them. You have to remember that it’s nothing personal.
You don’t have to, but they’d appreciate it if you helped in preparing their meals. It’s one less thing to worry about for them, and they could put more time in the actual training.
If you’re worried about getting their meals wrong, have them prepare the food so you can cook them.
Bodybuilder food doesn’t need much cooking. Most are just broiled, grilled or baked.
16. You might get pressured to start exercising
People kind of expect a bodybuilder’s girlfriend or boyfriend to be as healthy as their partners. And, no, I don’t mean you have to be fit or ripped or be a certain weight.
Your partner’s bodybuilding journey may serve as an inspiration to other people.
Any rational person could get inspired by the amount of dedication anyone puts into bodybuilding. Men and women would try to impress them, and they would earn some fans as well.
For your partner to be a convincing bodybuilder, you might sometimes get pressured into being healthy and start exercising as well.
If that’s not enough, you’re going to be more conscious of your body once you two start dating.
It may be because of their reputation, but most of it would just be for your wellbeing. They’re healthy and they just want you to be too.
17. Respect their training schedule
Don’t make them stay up late for no reason.
Don’t ever ask your boyfriend or girlfriend to skip training because it tells them two things: that you’re not supportive of their goal and that you don’t take their bodybuilding seriously.
They have rest days to let their bodies heal, but skipping workouts poses risks to their fat-burning and bodybuilding efforts.
Now that you already know how a bodybuilder’s day goes, you’re probably thinking, “Where does that leave me?”
The good thing about it is that it leaves you with a lot of me-time.
If you have a regular day job and he does too, the time he spends at the gym is the time you should be spending to relax and pamper yourself.
If you don’t want to join him in exercising, take a nice, long bath or spend some time with your friends.
18. They’re great cooks
Most serious bodybuilders are quite well versed in the kitchen because not many restaurants would serve them food just the way they need them.
Professional bodybuilders, especially those preparing for contests, would rarely (if not never) break their strict diet regimen.
They know their way around the kitchen, and they tend to stay away from processed foods. A natural bodybuilder’s diet has positive long-term health effects.
19. The downside of high-protein diets
… are protein farts. And they’re real!
This is a side effect of being on a high-protein diet.
Normal protein wouldn’t cause it as they’d be broken down by the small intestines, but excess protein would go straight into your colon.
This process produces hydrogen sulfide gas responsible for that cursed rotten-egg smell farts.
20. It’s going to be difficult
We had a lot of differences, and our social circles rarely coincided.
There was always a lot going on in his day, and any regular girlfriend would run far away.
Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of friends who asked why I dated a bodybuilder in the first place.
Because I’m not going to lie – dating a professional bodybuilder isn’t easy. But if I had to do it all over again, I would do so in a heartbeat.
Should You Date a Bodybuilder?
Unlike now, the internet back then didn’t have much to say about dating bodybuilders.
I took one look at how genuinely interested he was in me and then I went all in for it.
The learning curve was such a steep one, and it took quite a while before I became secure, comfortable and ultimately felt loved.
But you know what?
Everything is all up to you. All I’m saying is that it’s worth a shot.
It might help you find the love that lasts your lifetime.
Have you ever dated or thought about dating a bodybuilder? Share this with someone who does!
Let us know your thoughts and comment down below.
Emma Westbay: Your Trusted Expert in Bodybuilding Supplements. Based in LA, she offers authoritative and experienced advice on effective supplement use for peak fitness and muscle growth.