Bodybuilding on a budget doesn’t have to be hard. With just a little bit of effort, you can save hundreds of dollars each month. Stop making the little mistakes that are crushing your savings each and every month.

If you’re anything like me, you know the pain of dishing out hundreds of dollars each year on a gym membership. Add to that diet expenses and supplements, and you can easily spend over a grand each year. You might be a disciplined spender, you may even keep a tight budget…but that all goes out the window when you drop $29.99 on your monthly tub of BSN N.O.-Xplode (or whatever random supplements you all buy).

Believe it or not, there are a lot of areas where you can cut costs.  Probably a lot more than you think.

Bodybuilding and budgeting are lifestyle changes – not fads – both require discipline. Why be disciplined in one area of your life (lifting/fitness) but neglect the other (budgeting)?
Below I’ll share some tips on how you can pursue bodybuilding on a budget and put your money to better use.

bodybuilding on a budget

Save At The Gym

Most of us, myself included, like to work out at the same gym as our friends. So even if you don’t want to shop around for different gyms because you’re “committed” to one particular gym, there are still ways to save. Plus, gym memberships in competing areas have similar pricing anyway.

The two biggest ways to save at the gym are to take advantage of referral bonuses and discounts for paying yearly instead of monthly.

Example: you can pay $42/month at my gym ($504/yearly)…or you can pay $329 up front for the entire year.

Most gyms will give you a free month’s membership if you refer a friend, so even 1 or 2 referrals is huge.

And hey, if you find a cheaper gym and you decide you want to join that one instead, more power to you! Even a $10 price difference per month between gyms really adds up.

Savings: ~$120 per year vs comparable local gym (tack on ~$175 savings for paying up front)

Save On Supplements

Believe it or not, peer pressure plays a pretty big role here…and chances are you don’t even realize it’s happening. Stop giving in. Stop buying them if you cant afford them.

I can’t think of many industries where peer pressure to buy certain products is as evident as it is in the fitness world. Just scroll through your Instagram feed for 2 minutes and you’ll probably see at least one of your friends selling Shakeology or whatever the latest fad is (I know we all have at least one friend that does this). But if your goal is to get comparable results without spending a ton of money, there are ways you can imitate a few of the supplements bodybuilders frequently use.

While there are thousands of ingredient/supplement combinations vying for a piece of a $32 billion dollar industry, three main pillars make up a vast majority of those sales: whey protein, creatine, and pre-workout formulas. All of which can be replaced by cheaper “variations”.

1. Whey Protein vs Milk

Bodybuilding on a Budget

It’s not a perfect match, but if you’re merely looking for a replacement for protein powder, look no further than milk. The type of milk is up to you based on how many calories you are looking to take in. Animal based proteins also have the added benefit of being more efficiently digested by the body versus highly processed protein sources (whey).

Savings: based on # of scoops of protein powder per day instead of milk
1 scoop per day = $244.55 saved per year drinking milk instead
2 scoops per day = $489.10 saved per year drinking milk instead
3 scoops per day = $733.65 saved per year drinking milk instead

2. Pre-Workout vs Coffee

Bodybuilding On A Budget Tips
This one’s a no-brainer. If you had to replace just one supplement in your arsenal, ditch the pre-workout. While most pre-workout formulas will boast the added benefits of other ingredients, you’re looking at almost exactly the same caffeine content, 250 mg per cup, for both. And that is really what you are after. It’s literally 25x cheaper.

Savings: ~$348 per year

3. Creatine Monohydrate vs Water + Diet

Bodybuilding On A Budget Vegan
Creatine helps draw water into your cells, which facilitates muscle growth.  If you can’t afford creatine, the best thing you can do is work harder to make sure you’re hydrated.

Creatine’s mechanism of action is based on creating an anabolic environment inside cells to aid in protein synthesis (it is an osmotically active substance that pulls water into cells). The mineral content of your cells helps dictate whether or not water is absorbed from your blood stream into cells. Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and rest assured knowing you are doing everything you can to promote a healthy muscle building environment inside your body.

Savings: ~$80 per year

Disclaimer: I’m not saying you’re wasting your money by using supplements. To the contrary, I use a couple listed above (creatine and whey protein). But if you are really trying to save some money, I’m showing you ways to do it by changing your supplementation choices.


Buy In Bulk

No explanation needed here. Everyone knows buying in bulk is cheaper over the long run.

So stop being hard-headed and save money where there is almost no effort needed. Buying your supplements in bulk is a great place to start.

Body Building on a Budget with NoXplode
Savings: ~$40 per year
Buy Whey Protein in Bulk
Savings: ~$116 for each scoop/year
Creatine Bought in Bulk When Bodybuilding on a Budget
Savings: ~$80 per year    Total Yearly Savings: ~$236.00

Conclusion: Go big or go home. Buy in bulk. This does not apply to just supplements; it applies to almost everything you buy in life. Remember that tid bit about paying for your gym membership up front? Yeah. Same with food, within reason.

Buy Cheap Sources Of Protein

Enumerating how much money you can save by buying “cheap” sources of protein is not really possible. That being said, there are plenty of protein dense foods that you can buy in bulk if you are bodybuilding on a budget. Some are below:

Protein Dense Foods for Bodybuilding on a Budget

Have A Plan For The Money

Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of this experience for me is actually having a plan for what I do with the money I save.

If you actually have objective, realistic goals, you are way more likely to keep them.

Research a vacation that comes in around $1,000. Spoil your kids with a few(?) extra Christmas presents. Buy your significant other something nice.

Doesn’t matter. Have a plan for what you want to do with the money.  Or do what I did. Don’t spend it – save it.

While bodybuilding on a budget, I saved:

$125 by switching gyms
$175 by paying my gym membership in full up front
$350 by ditching pre-workout entirely
$150 by buying supplements in bulk

Total Saved Yearly: ~$800.00

If I had ditched supplements entirely, it would have looked like this:

$125 by switching gyms
$175 by paying my gym membership in full up front
$350 by ditching pre-workout entirely
$490 by switching from (2) scoops/day to milk
$80 by dropping creatine

Total Potential Yearly Savings: ~$1220.00

That’s a lot of money. Seriously.

If you are buying other supplements in addition to these three (which I am sure many of you are), you could easily be looking at several thousand in savings each year.

Bodybuilding on a Budget Can Change Your Life

Being a writer for an investment education oriented website, I can’t help but illustrate how much these savings can really mean for you in the long run. By using this nifty little retirement calculator available through Bankrate, you can see the true value in taking your $1,220 in annual savings and investing it.



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