Reaching the highest level in the sport you love is a nice and satisfying goal for anyone, so when it comes to fitness and bodybuilding, getting the IFBB Elite PRO card is a big step towards reaching that goal or at least getting very close to it. In this article, discover how to do it and the advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind.
If becoming a professional IFBB athlete is your goal, I am going to explain how you can reach it, but I will also tell you everything that involves becoming a professional so that you know in advance what you will find after getting your IFBB Elite PRO card.
What the IFBB Elite PRO card is and what do you get with it?
IFBB Elite PRO is the professional division of the International Federation of Fitness and Bodybuilding (IFBB) and is the highest category where you can compete internationally. To compete in this division you must obtain the IFBB elite PRO card in one of the amateur competitions on the IFBB international calendar that is classified as “Elite PRO qualifier”. Competing in IFBB Elite PRO you will face the best IFBB athletes in the world in your specialty and you will have the possibility of obtaining cash prizes if you rank within the top 5 in the competitions.
In addition, you will have some benefits such as receiving special treatment in competitions, attending the meeting of professional athletes in each event and some other privileges that will depend on the organizer. It may be that you have some free nights of accommodation, extra amenities in backstage or even that they will pick you up at the airport, but as I told you, all this will depend on each event and the organizer.
I must clarify that when you earn the IFBB Elite PRO card as an athlete in a competition you don’t automatically become a professional athlete, what you gain is the “right” to apply for your professional license. This right lasts for 1 year, which starts counting from the day you win the competition where you obtain that right and during that year you can decide whether to make it effective or not.
If you don’t make this right effective, you can continue competing as an amateur and even win another professional card, in which case your year to make the decision starts again from that moment.
In which competitions can you win the IFBB Elite PRO card?
Usually this is possible in international IFBB competitions such as the continental championships, world championships or Arnold Classic but also in other competitions on the IFBB calendar such as Mr. Universe, Diamond cups and some others.
In any case, this will always be indicated in the main information document for each championship and you can see it on the IFBB competitions calendar.
There are also some countries that can give you the professional card if you are the absolute champion of the national championship. This will depend on the level and number of competitors and must always be approved by the IFBB.
We are used to seeing pro card winners at international championship award ceremonies, where athletes receive a symbolic card that accredits them as winners. However, there are some championships, such as the IFBB European Championships, where the European champions of almost all categories acquire this right, however there is no card delivery ceremony, so sometimes some athletes are unaware that they have the right to become professional athletes.
For this reason it’s important that you read the information of the championships where you compete because in that information you will be able to see who is entitled to obtain the IFBB Elite PRO card in that championship.
Advantages and disadvantages of becoming PRO in IFBB
Now that you know what the IFBB Elite PRO card is and how to access it, the next step is to know if you should execute that right when you get it or not, because it is not mandatory to execute it and become a professional.
Perhaps you are very clear that you want to become a professional but you still do not know if it is the right time to do it, so I am going to give you all the possible information to help you in this important decision in your career as an athlete.
The first thing you should do is answer the following question, because depending on your answer, becoming a professional may or may not make all the sense…
Why do I want to be PRO?
Of course all the answers are valid and equally respectable, but they imply different things. Perhaps you simply want to add the acronym “PRO” to your social media profile, promote this in some way as an influencer or in front of commercial brands, or even get more clients in your business related to the world of fitness under the influence of those acronyms. If that is your goal there is not much to say. Go ahead, exercise your right and goal accomplished.
You may also want to compete as a professional because even if you think you won’t have much chance of winning, you want to enjoy sharing the stage with the best athletes and enjoy professional competitions. Facing the best is always a great motivation and you have nothing to lose, wins will come or not, but your mentality is to keep improving and focus on yourself and enjoying that opportunity to the fullest without wondering if you will be in the Top 5 or not.
If your ideas are clear, who am I to tell you not to do it? Go ahead and enjoy competing among the best athletes in the world. In any case, you can continue reading because you may discover some information that may be of interest to you.
Now let’s talk about those athletes who do not have their decision so clear and who have several unresolved questions in their heads. Questions like… am I competitive enough to face the best? Should I take the professional license, even if I have to dedicate some time to improve physically before competing? Will competing as a professional be as beautiful and motivating as I hope?
Each athlete has their own circumstances and mentality and they will surely try to find the answer to their doubts in one way or another, but if you have come this far, I am going to try to give you some information that may be of interest to you, especially if you have not yet resolved all your doubts.
How has your career as an amateur athlete been so far? Did you compete in continental championships or in the World Championship? Did you win Diamond Cups, or were you even the overall winner of some competitions?
Read this well because it is a fairly frequent case that has happened to several competitors and that after deciding to take the plunge and become professionals, they end up being disappointed because everything was not as beautiful as they expected. I can tell you in advance that if you regret your decision, you could renounce your status as a professional athlete and return to compete as an amateur, but if you renounce, you will do so forever, that is, you will not be able to become an IFBB professional again.
Amateur competition sometimes creates a “false” sense of success for some competitors, as you tend to compete only against competitors of a similar height or weight, so the competition is not as tough as an open format.
Everyone says “I have won the gold medal” or “I have been a continental or world champion”, but nobody says… “I have won the gold medal among the XXX cm athletes or those who weigh XX kg.
For this reason, if you are a high-level athlete, it may be frequent for you to win trophies, to be in the winner’s photo or even have the incredible feeling of enjoying listening to the national anthem of your country in an important championship, which of course It is a success, but in the professional category all this changes…
Keep this in mind:
- In IFBB Elite PRO all the athletes of a category face each other in OPEN format, that is, there are no different heights or weights (except in bodybuilding where there are two divisions in the world championship). The closest thing to this in the amateur categories is the Overall of a continental or world championship where all the best athletes in a category face each other. We could say that in the professional category each championship is an Overall and this is already a big change.
- In professional competitions, only the first 5 get a prize and in amateur you only had to be among the first 6 of your size or weight, so the Overall of the competition was for you as “something extra” since you had already appeared in the photo of the winners of your size or weight.
These two points seem obvious, but I’ve seen many competitors get frustrated or feel like they’re “not in the winner’s photo” like they used to be. Also, sometimes your environment is not very understanding of this, because the others only see that you are no longer in the photo of the winners. The words of congratulations no longer come in each competition and the “winner atmosphere” that had been generated around you is no longer present, now you are just one professional among many, but there are no more photos with cups and medals.
Indeed, the transition to professional involves many changes:
- Your country doesn’t change, but it can be said that you stop representing your country and competing with the national team and start competing for yourself.
- You no longer have to go through national selection processes or compete through your national federation, but you will have to register for the championships yourself.
Several athletes have told me that they miss the atmosphere of amateur championships, the feeling of team or country, fighting to hear the national anthem or wearing their clothes in the national colors, so all this added to the above mentioned to sometimes it can be hard to accept mentally.
Very young athletes who accepted their professional license, after winning a championship without much level, being juniors and without even enjoying the big amateur championships, finally saw that competing professionally did not bring them anything, so their career as athletes ended quickly. due to lack of motivation or interest to continue competing.
However, let me tell you that all this that I have mentioned is not necessarily negative, but knowing the changes involved in competing in IFBB Elite PRO, you should approach it knowing that it is the beginning of a new stage where things work differently.
Knowing all this and facing the changes with the right mindset, you can turn those doubts into an exciting new challenge in your career as an athlete. All the big changes imply doubts and fears, but ultimately your mission is the same as in your amateur stage, to continue improving your version as an athlete and everything that your category, physique, presentation or image demands, to give the best of yourself to this sport. and fight for the best.
Maybe you need some time to adapt, maybe it will take time (or maybe not) to be in the long-awaited Top 5 or to win your first professional competition. Maybe your best version will only get you in the Top 10, but keep in mind that being in the top 10 means being in the top 10 in the world even if you are not in the winners photo.
Be patient, analyze the calendar and look for your opportunity, if you love this sport you already know that improvements take time and that perseverance and discipline are the basis of everything, so… nothing you didn’t already know, right?
This is a sport where your mind is very important, but if you have reached the highest level and have some experience you already know all this, so knowing this you should simply face it as a new stage in your career.
I hope this reading has cleared up some of your doubts about how to get the IFBB Elite PRO card and what it means to have it. Your motivation and goals are just as valid whatever they are and finally what others think should not matter too much to you, your dreams and goals are only yours.
Will I see you soon in IFBB Elite PRO?
Please let me know your opinion or doubts in the comments.
Beautiful write up Juan. This is a popular question and one which I asked myself when I won my pro card. I think this decision cannot be rushed especially for younger athletes. I am sure your opinions will help someone make the right decision for themselves. I know you helped me make my own decision of which I don’t regret ????
Thank you very much for your comment Melissa!.Each athlete has their own personal circumstances and their goals in this sport, but at least I hope that these data that I wrote based on my own experience and knowledge will help and solve some doubts.