Bodybuilding, the art of transforming one’s body into a statuesque work of art that would make a Greek God blush, isn’t recognized as a team sport. But make no mistake—nobody becomes an IFBB champion without some sort of support staff behind him. The best often employ teams of trainers, nutritionists, and other aides who make it their jobs to ensure their client is at an optimal training at all times. 

Enter trainer Justin Miller, who knows his athletes’ bodies’ probably better then even the bodybuilders themselves, including his most famous client, 2019 Arnold Classic Physique winner George Peterson. Miller says it’s never cut and dry, cookie cutter process with each athlete. 

“The more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t really know that much,” Miller said recently on M&F Reps. “What I’ve learned in this sport is there is no absolutes. Everyone’s different.”

Perhaps the greatest secret to bodybuilding is that nobody begins their journey as a champion. In fact, bodybuilding at the top level isn’t particularly a young man’s game: “It’s a cumulative sport. So the longer you lift weights the more muscular you get,” Miller says. “They call it old-man strength.” 

The more time you spend at the gym, the easier it is to spend more and more time at the gym. Of course, everybody’s always looking for shortcuts, and in bodybuilding, that comes in the form of performance-enhancing drugs, something Miller believes more and more young athletes are using in an effort to speed up their gains, no matter the cost.

“I feel like a lot of the kids today are too quick to rush into performance-enhancing drugs then they are to push themselves in the gym,” Miller explains. “It’s like, ‘Well kid, you don’t eat six meals a day. You don’t train consistently, you’re not maximizing everything else and you haven’t done that over a number of years. So what the hell do you know?’” In bodybuilding, discipline, time, and patience are equally as important factors for success. 

“People underestimate what they can do naturally. I think you can be a great bodybuilder naturally.”

Steroids are testosterone enhancers are a main and controversial part of the culture, but Miller says they’re not as ubiquitous as many would believe. His argument: Miller says the results of steroids simply aren’t worth the effort in many cases: “People think that natural bodybuilding is so hard because you have to really focus on the diet. It’s actually easier, you know? And what do steroids do? They hold fluids.” 

Every bodybuilder knows the No. 1 rule of the sport is to avoid water retention, Miller explains. “I went to a natural bodybuilding show recently,” he says. “The guys were all ripped. They all looked great. There were smaller, but the top five there, I can make the argument that they were more ripped than the top five at the open Mr. Olympia. “