How to Keep Your Bodybuilding Clients Accountable

Andre Adams
Andre Adams
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In the sport of bodybuilding, accountability is a staple of your success. The trait can help you in many other areas. The same principles that make you a successful competitive bodybuilding athlete mirror qualities that will help you win in other areas of life.

Attributes such as accountability, discipline, personal leadership, confidence, emotional intelligence (EQ), self-efficacy, self-esteem, focus, consistency, and mindset among many others. Think about how each of these characteristics may help improve your relationships, performance, school/work, parenting, financial health, and so on.

We are going to focus on accountability which is closely related to ownership and personal leadership. 

Coaching Each Client Individually

As a coach, each client will be unique and complex. It takes patience, understanding, empathy, EQ, and great interpersonal communication skills to inspire your athletes to perform better and take accountability for their results. However, the onus is shared equally with the coach because these two energies must be in balance to succeed.

Whether the outcome is chalked up as a W or L, the accountability falls equally on the coach and athlete. When the athlete loses, they must accept their share of their performance and avoid external blame such as coaches, judges, circumstances, etc. Coaches too must be willing to own their wins and losses and take responsibility for their athlete's performance.

Some common strategies to increase accountability and personal leadership for your bodybuilding clients are:

Weekly check-ins
     - Within these check-ins, be sure to ask open-ended questions (discovery questions).
     - Ensure you have the athlete think introspectively and self-score their performance against the plan.

Habit tracking
   - Set up behavioral habits for the client to track which will increase awareness of their daily activities.
   - I.E., drink > 100 oz water per day, get 10,000 steps in, eat every 2.5 to 3 hours, sleep at least 8 hours per night, make it to the gym 5 days this week, etc.

Progress Photos
   - Weekly progress photos are a great tool that forces an athlete to look objectively at themselves, identify deficiencies, and think about opportunities to improve. 
   - The fear of not having good progress photos as the competition date approaches will help drive athletes to increase plan adherence.

Regular body composition scans
   - I.E., InBody, DEXA Scan, etc.
   - This strategy is a tool that keeps both athlete and coach on point with clear and actionable outcomes. If the athlete has not improved over time as planned, it forces both parties to reassess and adjust.

As a bodybuilding or transformation prep coach, you can increase your effectiveness and deliver maximum impact when you lead by example. If the plan is not working, own it. Go back to the drawing board and reassess if you need to adjust. Your default should not be to assume the client isn't following the plan. If you make a mistake, take accountability, and communicate early and often to make it right.

Displaying these qualities of integrity, leadership, and ownership will not only make you a better coach, but it will inspire your athletes to follow suit. By coaching to self-assess and call out any shortcomings, you can motivate your clients to become more self-aware and make better choices.

What Else to Consider

During check-ins, if your athletes were off during a given week, ask open-ended questions to get them thinking about where they slipped up. Some common questions to think about that will help improve accountability:

1.    What happened?
2.    Why did it happen?
3.    What are you going to do differently to correct the problem?
4.    When will you start?
5.    How will you measure your performance and move the needle next week?

When you decide to keep score, things become more tangible - REAL. Athletes make better decisions, and smarter choices, increase the intensity, become more competitive, increase accountability, and ultimately perform better. "What gets measured gets done!"

The Author

Andre Adams

Andre Adams

Andre Adams is a professional athlete with the International Federation of Bodybuilding (IFBB) pro league, having competed in the 2015 Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic professional physique divisions. He is also a master trainer with National Academy of Sports Medicine® (NASM), physique contest prep coach, and holds several specializations with NASM. Certifications include: NASM CPT, WFS, PES, WLS, GPTS, FNS and MT. Follow him on Instagram and LinkedIn!


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