There have been a total of 3 Active Duty Airman on the Olympian stage I believe, the first being David Henry followed by myself and Robert Timms this year. We have all met and chatted before and a similar question has always arisen when people, both friends and fans talk to us - Does serving in the US Air Force sometimes hinder your bodybuilding career?
I will say at the beginning absolutely not, while going to basic training or boot camp, you will get little sleep, only 3 meals a day (with only a few minutes to eat them) and will be required to run, do push-ups, sit-ups, flutter kicks or any other whacky exercise your Military Training Instructor can think of, throughout each and every day.
This is only your life for two months though, after that you go to learn your job where you will receive a lot more freedoms and from there you go to your permanent duty station. Once you reach that point in your career, honestly, the Air Force is so diverse there is no simple answer to that question. So I will give the Air Force from my viewpoint and on the other hand let you decide.
I currently work as an electronic countermeasures tech (Avionics) in Florida. I work anywhere from 8-10 hrs. a day, 90% of the time it being 8 hrs, Monday through Friday. In addition to that, I work inside and have a low workload, because I work on an older system at a low tempo base. This gives me the perfect atmosphere to get my meals in with no issues. Also 3x a week we must do some sort of physical exercise for which we get 2 hrs. during work to perform. Luckily, my Commander allows me to do my own thing.
For the moment, I’m using this time to do my second session of cardio during prep. The only issue I would say I have is that I must keep any eye on how much body fat I put on so that I am still able to successfully run my PT Test once a year. I have never been a great runner so getting too heavy in the offseason could be detrimental to my career, college, promotion, and my supervision’s trust could all be flushed down the toilet with a failed PT Test.
Now this is just one of many jobs, at one of many bases, with one of many commanders in the Air Force, so things can be very different depending on where you end up. For instance, let’s say that I worked on the flight line at a high tempo base. I would be working outside in all elements up to 12 hrs a day or longer if a tool is lost or something. Also, I would have a STRICT timeline on when I need to accomplish tasks because I’m working on “billion dollar” planes that burn through very expensive jet fuel, so if work is not done there’s no “I’m going to get a meal in real quick”. So now you can see how different things can be from job to job, but even if you have the same job as another individual your commanders will have different Physical training standards and beliefs. For example, my first commander would only allow me one week off from our Mon, Wed, Fri PT program; we usually would just run 3 miles, whereas my new commander has given me as much time as I need. Now, granted, things have changed over the years with me becoming a pro and going to the Olympia, but regardless, this is something to consider.
So to wrap things up I believe the Air Force and bodybuilding can work out just fine together, but that depends mostly on if you choose the right career field going in. So before signing any contracts, look at your choice and find someone who does that job and see if it would work with your pursuing your bodybuilding dreams.
Until Next time, this IFBB Pro Terrence Ruffin A.K.A. Ruff Diesel signing off.