By John Litteral 12-7-2022
WHAT IS BODYBUILDING?
Whenever I refer to bodybuilding, I am specifically talking about bodybuilding as a method of training, not competitive bodybuilding as a sport. Bodybuilding as a method of training is designed to build muscle and promote great health for a lifetime through resistance training and a healthy eating regimen. Bodybuilding as a competitive sport takes those things to the ultimate extreme and oftentimes has a multitude of negative consequences to the body. I admire bodybuilders and the discipline and hard work that they devote themselves to. I have never been interested in competing as a bodybuilder, but I have always been interested in the training techniques that the elite bodybuilders practice.
Bodybuilding is a very eclectic method of training. It draws techniques and philosophies from many different other training methods. Bodybuilding is to the fitness world what MMA (mixed martial arts) is to the martial arts world. MMA draws techniques from many different martial arts and combat sports such as wrestling, boxing, karate, Muay Tai, kickboxing, Jiujitsu, etc., and uses what works and disregards what doesn’t. Bodybuilding draws from disciplines like powerlifting, strength training, Olympic weightlifting, etc. in order to develop a regimen that allows one to reach their desired goals. Just as a mixed martial artist develops a regimen that best suits their own desired style, which is usually highly influenced by what combat sport that they grew up doing, a bodybuilder often does the same thing by having a base discipline that they practiced in the past. For example, a mixed martial art practitioner may have wrestled in high school and even college and will train in mixed martial arts and learn other fighting techniques along with their wrestling background, as their base to build upon. They will usually learn some boxing, kickboxing, submission fighting, etc., and learn to adapt those techniques into a mixed martial art system. Most often, any of those single combat disciplines are not usually sufficient ‘enough’ to succeed in MMA on their own merit because it usually takes blending multiple techniques together and learning to use them for MMA. In a similar way, a bodybuilder may have grown up doing powerlifting in high school and even after, therefore having that background as their base to build upon. Powerlifting is an excellent base to have when going into bodybuilding because it provides someone with knowledge and experience with some of the most effective muscle building movements there is, that being the bench press, squat, and deadlift. Many great bodybuilders were powerlifters in their younger days. And in relation to the MMA analogy, many great mixed martial artists wrestled in their younger days. Having a base like powerlifting is not necessary when training as a bodybuilder because all those techniques can be learned while training for bodybuilding. Just as a mixed martial artist will benefit from having various techniques in their combat arsenal, a bodybuilder will most definitely benefit from having various training techniques in their training arsenal. It takes time to not only learn those techniques correctly, but also to learn how to adapt them as a bodybuilder.
Bodybuilding as a training method, not as a competitive sport, should be looked upon as long term. It is a lifestyle of building muscle and strength that will slow down the effects of aging, speeds up your metabolism, optimizes your mobility, and helps you to look and feel as good as you possibly can. Obviously, bodybuilding requires one to train with resistance training, but something that is equally as important for bodybuilding is proper nutrition. Nothing transforms a physique any quicker and more effectively than a bodybuilding diet. You can actually change your body composition quicker by the right diet and nutrition than with training alone. Training alone will allow you to build muscle and strength, but the results will be limited, and the appearance of your physique may not improve very much unless you have great genetics. Training and diet both go hand in hand for bodybuilding.
WHAT IS DIET?
When people hear the word diet, most often they assume it refers entirely to weight loss or fad diets. But that is not the case here. Of course, bodybuilding calls for people to diet to lose body fat, but it also needs to be understood in general terms as well, such as eating habits. There are many ways that bodybuilders diet to achieve or maintain momentum towards improving their fitness, health, and muscle gains. I will get into more detail later about diet strategies for bodybuilders. But I just want to point out that when I refer to diet, it simply means food intake for the nutrition necessary for bodybuilding.
WHO SHOULD TRAIN AS A BODYBUILDER?
Anyone (men and women) who is interested in staying healthy, strong, and look and feel their best their entire life will achieve that by training as a bodybuilder. It is the one type of training that if done correctly, will not tear down the body but will keep the body working at its maximum potential. We cannot control the fact that we cannot live forever in these bodies, just as Rocky Balboa said in the movie Creed, “Time takes everybody out. Time is undefeated.” But one thing that we can control is how well we can slow the aging process down, and bodybuilding is the ultimate method of training to do that. The reason is because bodybuilding is eclectic enough and has many tools and techniques to train the body at the right intensity in order to work every single part of the body part with very little, if any, wear and tear as long as exercises are done correctly, and proper nutrition is being carried out.