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How Do Bodybuilders Make Money? (10 Legal Ways)

Bodybuilders need to make money to fund their bills, mortgages, and protein-rich diets.

Let’s look at the different ways how bodybuilders make money.

person holding multiple 100 dollar notes

How Do Bodybuilders Make Money?

Most bodybuilders earn money via the following 10 methods:

  • Competition Prize Money
  • Sponsorships
  • Merchandise
  • YouTube Ad Revenue
  • Personal Training
  • Gym Ownership
  • Supplement Sales
  • Freelancing
  • Modelling
  • Cameo

Now, let’s look at these in more detail.

Competition Prize Money

Most people believe that bodybuilders make the bulk of their money by winning bodybuilding competitions.

But in truth, prize money plays a small part of their income.

(Most bodybuilders won’t actually make any competition prize money at all during their career.)

To make big money in competitions, you typically need to win (or place highly) in the 2 biggest shows – the Arnold Classic and the Mr. Olympia.

The prize money for the 2021 Mr. Olympia competition was as follows: $400,000 to first, $150,000 to second, $100,000 to third, $40,000 to fourth, and $35,000 to fifth.

To place fifth in bodybuilding equivalent of the Super Bowl and only take home $35,000 is a big sign that most bodybuilders make the bulk of their income elsewhere.


Many bodybuilders make a chunk of cash through sponsorship deals with apparel and supplement companies.

For example, Joel Corry, who won the Miami Pro competition in 2015 was sponsored by Optimum Nutrition.

So, Joel would be paid by Optimum Nutrition for representing their brand and endorsing their products.

He would also make affiliate income by offering people discounts on Optimum Nutrition products with his tailored discount code.

(Interestingly, Joel has now taken a different career path and is a world recognized superstar DJ!)

Another example is Chris Bumstead who has done sponsorships with Gymshark.

Chris, with his millions of Instagram followers, would work out and take pictures in Gymshark clothing.

Obviously, this draws a lot of attention to Gymshark, increasing their sales.

And Gymshark will compensate Chris financially for doing so.

The key limitation with sponsorships is that it’s quite hard to scale.

Gymshark will typically pay Chris a flat fee for advertising their products. So, regardless of whether he helps them make 1,000 sales or 1,000,000 sales, he’ll likely be paid the same.


Rather than advertising other brands’ products, some bodybuilders make money through selling their own merchandise.

For example, Fouad “Hoss” Abiad, retired Canadian IFBB professional bodybuilder made (and still makes) a lot of money through his own company Hosstile.

Hosstile sells various merchandise such as t-shirts, hoodies, and tank tops, for both men and women.

A more famous example is 4-time Mr. Olympia winner Jay Cutler, who sells a range of fitness apparel and accessories on his site

Unlike sponsorships, selling your own merchandise is super scalable so is a much more lucrative way to make money.

YouTube Ad Revenue

Some bodybuilders make an insane amount of money through YouTube advertising revenue.

A good example of this is Mike Thurston who currently has 1.34 million subscribers.

Mike will post content to YouTube, ranging from what he eats in a day, to training videos with famous bodybuilders like Dorian Yates. When people watch these videos, they’ll often see advertising clips at the start and end of the videos, and YouTube will share this ad revenue with Mike.

While you can make a lot of money through YouTube, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme by any means.

Mike has been consistently publishing content for many years, and I imagine the first few years he would’ve barely made a dime.

Personal Training

Many amateur bodybuilders will do some form of personal training to fund their lifestyle.

After all, it’s much easier to get clients when you’re in really good shape yourself!

Although most PTs enjoy the feeling of seeing their clients progress in the gym, it can be a bit of a time suck.

Quite often, a bodybuilder will start of doing in-person PT sessions, and then progress to online coaching when they start to build a bigger name for themselves.

In fact, this is exactly what Mike Thurston done.

He started off training clients in Newcastle, UK, before moving onto online coaching.

And then, once his online coaching business took off, he started producing generalized programs.

Out of the 3, generalized programs are the most profitable because they’re easily scalable.

You can easily sell a generalized program to 10,000 people in a day, but it’s physically impossible to train 10,000 clients in a day.

Gym Ownership

Unsurprisingly, many commercial gyms are owned by bodybuilders.

For example, Craig Saunders founded Empire Fitness in Christchurch, UK.

The facilities include a workout room, shower rooms, a lounge, a massage room and a solarium for tanning.

The gym also sells a variety of drinks, protein snacks, and supplements, as well as tanning beds.

So, not only will Craig make money from gym memberships, but he’ll also generate revenue from the products available to buy.

While owning a gym is a satisfying and rewarding way of making money, it’s not as profitable as the other ways covered.

Firstly, the costs of owning and maintaining gym will be high. You’ll need to pay for staff, gym equipment, rent, and electricity.

And secondly, you’re fairly limited in your revenue potential – there’s only so many people who’ll be able to attend your gym, depending on its size and location.

Supplement Sales

bodybuilding supplements

Another way bodybuilders make money is through their own supplement brands.

A good example of this is the brand Jym Supplement Science, which was founded by’s Jim Stoppani PhD.

Jim makes a decent earning through this brand by selling a range of supplements, including protein powder, pre-workout, BCAAs, and fish oil.

While this is one of the most profitable ways that bodybuilders make money, it’s arguably the most challenging as the supplement market is extremely saturated.

So, unless you have a large, loyal following who you know will buy your products, I’d probably stay clear from this one if you’re a bodybuilder looking for another income stream.


Believe it or not, bodybuilders are normal people just like me and you.

While bodybuilding is their passion and purpose, that isn’t to say they have to make a living through it.

Some bodybuilders make money by doing freelance work in their spare time, such as video editing, copywriting, and writing articles for blogs.

While freelancing is an unpredictable form of income, it typically allows you to work your own hours so you can be in charge of your own schedule.

As you probably know, bodybuilding requires a strict schedule of meal timing and consistent training, so being able to work when you want is a huge benefit.


Wouldn’t it be great to get paid to look amazing? That’s basically what modelling is.

Since bodybuilders obsess over their appearance, more often than not, they’re great candidates for modelling.

The good news is that applying to become a fitness model is super easy.

All you have to do is go onto and click ‘Apply to be a model’ then follow the steps.

Unlike the other monetization methods listed, you don’t really need any business know-how or start-up funds, making it a great option for bodybuilders from all backgrounds.


This is a fairly new and niche money-making method, although it can be extremely profitable!

Cameo is a platform where people are paid for personalized videos.

So, you pay someone (a hefty fee) to say what you want on a recorded video.

Ronnie Coleman currently offers personalized videos on cameo for $250 per video!

That’s crazy when you think about it – being paid $250 to read a 5-minute script into a camera.

Now, obviously you’ll need some level of fame and following to make this one work, but if you do, it can make you rich.

Do Bodybuilders Make A Lot Of Money?

The amount of money bodybuilders make varies greatly, as it depends on many factors, such as their income sources.

For example, an amateur bodybuilder who works as a personal trainer likely doesn’t earn a lot of money.

Whereas a famous bodybuilder who’s won multiple high profile competitions and has their own businesses will likely be rich.


In summary:

  • Bodybuilders make their money from various sources, including sponsorships, personal training, and selling their own merchandise.
  • Contrary to popular belief, most bodybuilders earn very little from competitions.
  • Generally, the more well-known you are as a bodybuilder, the more money you will make.

That’s all for this article, but perhaps you’re interested in female bodybuilders of the 80s?

Hope this helped!