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  • 7 min read

by Christian Duque

There was a time in the mid 2000’s where podcasts were the talk of the town. You had Pro Bodybuilding Weekly, which started it all, but you also have other podcasts like Muscular Development’s No Bull Radio. Podcasts offered their listeners a wide variety of content, from contest coverage and handicapping, to interesting interviews, to commentary about the sport’s history and current trends therein.

When the format started, production value was of significant importance, and many of the shows offered very structured programs, where listeners had something to look forward to each and every week. One of the coolest aspects of podcasts, then and today, was the fact they were totally free and usually accessible without having to download any complicated software. For the most part, people would listen while driving, doing cardio, or even meal prepping each week. Unfortunately, as the old song goes, video killed… the podcast star. More and more people started flocking to YouTube and the podcast format became less and less favored by major websites. When advertisers no longer had much interest in working with audio-only programs, the really good ones simply stopped producing content.

With the advent of Spotify, a renewed interest in podcasts was experienced. iTunes and SoundCloud also added far more effective hosting platforms for folks interested in listening each week. Also, many states have enacted laws that prohibit motorists from using their cell phones while driving. This has also led for many to opt for podcasts again, as they are entirely audio and can be listened to from their radios. Furthermore, gym goers have never been particularly fond of watching videos while lifting and especially not during cardio. Many folks would rather look at their heart rate, calories burned, and/or focus on their speed/intensity levels. A podcast can be listened to on the phone or other device that can be clipped on an armband, kept in one’s pocket, or listened to through wireless headphones.

Podcasts are also the preferred format of countless office workers. From my experience in media, I have also come across countless white-collar professionals in our industry who will listen to anywhere between 5 to 10 podcasts a week during their workdays. This offers a fantastic listenership for many of the programs putting out new content, as well as creating a very favorable atmosphere for businesses to advertise in.

The single most important factor for businesses, is return on investment, or ROI. If a great podcast has earned the loyal listenership of a fan base, then that program counts with their undivided attention. If the hosts are even remotely effective when they pitch a product, then that business will see a direct benefit as a result of working with said program. In addition to return on investment, it’s very important for both the business paying for the advertising and the program benefiting from it, that there be a way to measure sales as a result of the advertising. This will also determine what the program charges for advertising and what the company is willing to pay.

Creativity is absolutely paramont. For example, if a podcast in our industry is based on nutrition, but only talks about how to prep meals or only talks about good protein sources each and every week, then that’s going to get old – and that’s going to get old fast.

One of the best litmus tests of all, is whether or not you as a listener, would listen to a full program and/or tune in for future episodes. Thanks, in large part, to many of the platforms mentioned, podcast producers have access to valuable analytic information. If listeners cannot hang on for a full episode, then there’s probably something really wrong with the program. There’s also statistical information which can help hosts figure out how long each program should be, how frequently they should release episodes, and even what days and times are best. Even though it seems that there is a world of resources to ensure success, many podcasts don’t make it past six episodes. That’s the real test for a new program. Six shows.

When you first start your fitness podcast, expect to be talking to yourself, at least for the first half dozen installments. I can’t stress that enough. A lot of people simply don’t have the wherewithal to process that. Assuming that you develop a loyal fan base and listenership, odds are that few, if any, will ever go back to those first six episodes. It’s really quite aggravating for most to come to grips with the fact that they will literally be talking to themselves for six shows worth of content and that no one, not now or ever, will ever really listen. This is also largely the case for new podcasters – largely because, those first few episodes will be where you make all your mistakes and really get a hang for your new craft.

Truth be told, if you’re serious about becoming a star, you have to have a truckload of humility long before you can ever have any kind of great self-worth. The key is, to envision yourself climbing an almost, insurmountable mountain. Anytime you gain a fan, positive review, or accolade, treat it like you just won a bodybuilding show. The more gracious and humble you are, coupled with being hard-working and imaginative, the sooner you will have a hit podcast.

With countless individuals now having to stay at home, largely due to the coronavirus and quarantines from their state governments, many are considering going to the airwaves and coming out with their own podcasts.The equipment needed is actually quite inexpensive, it’s easy to use, and really the hardest part of it all, would be coming up with a name for the program, logo, and working social media to get the word out. The technical side of things is actually quite doable.

As a writer in the bodybuilding industry, I myself will listen to at least a dozen different podcasts, each and every week. I do it because it gives me different perspectives, as well as keeps me up-to-date with all the happenings in the sport. Some of my favorite programs also offer a video option, though they are primarily podcasts.

IFBB Pro Nick Trigil has a fantastic program, as well as IFBB Pro Fouad Abiad, and IFBB Pro Ryan Baptiste. A growing number of pro athletes have taken to the airwaves over the course of just the last couple of years. They bring a fresh new perspective, as folks who have actually lived the life of competitors, but now also take on the role of journalists. The fans appreciate as many different outlooks as possible, as it creates more depth in the commentaries.

To make matters even more interesting, new social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have already taken an undeniable hit on older video-sharing platforms like YouTube. As monetization policies become stricter and popular YouTube creators release content more sporadically, than even just two or three years ago, the demand for podcasts seems all the more strong.

During these very uncertain times, with gyms closed, many folks forced to work from home, and a general lack of social activities, do you see a renaissance for podcasts?