Bodybuilding is the process of maximizing muscle hypertrophy through the combination of weight training, sufficient caloric intake, and rest. Someone who engages in this activity is referred to as a bodybuilder. As a sport, called competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders display their physiques to a panel of judges, who assign points based on their aesthetic appearance. The muscles are revealed through a combination of fat loss, oils, and tanning (or tanning lotions) which combined with lighting make the definition of the muscle group more distinct. Famous bodybuilders include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dorian Yates, Lee Haney, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu, Ronnie Coleman, and Jay Cutler. As Alan M. Klein states in Little Big Men, “Bodybuilding is a subculture or hyperbole. In its headlong rush to accrue flesh, everything about this subculture exploits grandiosity and excess."
In the modern bodybuilding industry "Professional" generally means a bodybuilder who has won qualifying competitions as an amateur and has earned a 'pro card' from the IFBB. Professionals earn the right to compete in sanctioned competitions including the Arnold Classic and the Night of Champions. Placings at such competitions in turn earn them the right to compete at the Mr. Olympia; the title is considered to be the highest accolade in the professional bodybuilding field.
In natural contests bodybuilders are routinely tested for illegal substances and are banned for any violations from future contests. Testing can be done on urine samples, but in many cases a less expensive polygraph (lie detector) test is performed instead. What qualifies as an "illegal" substance, in the sense that it is prohibited by regulatory bodies, varies between natural federations, and does not necessarily include only substances that are illegal under the laws of the relevant jurisdiction. Anabolic steroids, Prohormone and Diuretics are generally banned in natural organizations. Natural bodybuilding organizations include NANBF (North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation), and the NPA (Natural physique association). Natural bodybuilders assert that their method is more focused on competition and a healthy lifestyle than other forms of bodybuilding.
Female bodybuilding In the 1970s, women began to take part in bodybuilding competitions, and was extremely popular for a time. More than ever women are training with weights for exercise purposes with desire for a more attractive body and to prevent bone loss. Many women however still fear that weight training will make them "bulky" and believe weight training is only for men. However strength training has many benefits for women including increased bone mass and prevention of bone loss as well as increased muscle strength and balance. In recent years, the related areas of fitness and figure competition have gained in popularity, providing an alternative for women who choose not to develop the level of muscularity necessary for bodybuilding. The first Ms. Olympia contest in 1980, won by Rachel McLish, would resemble closely what is thought of today as a fitness and figure competition.
In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain an aesthetically pleasing (by bodybuilding standards) body and balanced physique. The competitors show off their bodies by performing a number of poses - bodybuilders spend time practicing their posing as this has a large effect on how they are judged.
A bodybuilder's size and shape are far more important than how much he or she can lift. The sport should therefore not be confused with strongman competition or powerlifting, where the main point is on actual physical strength, or with Olympic weightlifting, where the main point is equally split between strength and technique. Though superficially similar to the casual observer, the fields entail a different regimen of training, diet, and basic motivation.
Preparation for a Contest
The general strategy adopted by most present-day competitive bodybuilders is to make muscle gains for most of the year (known as the "off-season") and approximately 3-4 months from competition attempt to lose body fat (referred to as "cutting"). In doing this some muscle will be lost but the aim is to keep this to a minimum. There are many approaches used but most involve reducing calorie intake and increasing cardio, while monitoring body fat percentage.
In the week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders will begin increasing their water intake so as to deregulate the systems in the body associated with water flushing. They will also increase their sodium intake. At the same time they will decrease their carbohydrate consumption in an attempt to "carb deplete". The goal during this week is to deplete the muscles of glycogen. Two days before the show, sodium intake is reduced by half, and then eliminated completely. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced. At the same time carbohydrates are re-introduced into the diet to expand the muscles. This is typically known as "carb-loading." The end result is an ultra-lean bodybuilder with full hard muscles and a dry, vascular appearance.
Prior to performing on stage, bodybuilders will apply various products to their skin to improve their muscle definition - these include fake tan commonly called "pro tan" (to make the skin darker) and various oils (to make the skin shiny). They will also use weights to "pump up" by forcing blood to their muscles to improve size and vascularity. Some may also gorge on sugar-rich candies to enhance the visibility of their veins, often considered a sign of high muscle-definition.
Bodybuilders use three main strategies to maximize muscle hypertrophy:
- Strength training through weights or elastic/hydraulic resistance
- Specialized nutrition, incorporating extra protein and supplements where necessary
- Adequate rest, including sleep and recuperation between workouts
- Water is very important during and after a workout to prevent dehydration.
Weight training causes micro-tears to the muscles being trained; this is generally known as microtrauma. These micro-tears in the muscle contribute to the soreness felt after exercise, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is the repair to these micro-trauma that result in muscle growth. Normally, this soreness becomes most apparent a day or two after a workout. However, as muscles become adapted to the exercises, soreness tends to decrease.
The high levels of muscle growth and repair achieved by bodybuilders require a specialized diet. Generally speaking, bodybuilders require more calories than the average person of the same weight to support the protein and energy requirements needed to support their training and increase muscle mass. A sub-maintenance level of food energy is combined with cardiovascular exercise to lose body fat in preparation for a contest. The ratios of food energy from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on the goals of the bodybuilder.
Carbohydrates play an important role for bodybuilders. Carbohydrates give the body energy to deal with the rigors of training and recovery. Bodybuilders seek out low-glycemic polysaccharides and other slowly-digesting carbohydrates, which release energy in a more stable fashion than high-glycemic sugars and starches. This is important as high-glycemic carbohydrates cause a sharp insulin response, which places the body in a state where it is likely to store additional food energy as fat rather than muscle, and which can waste energy that should be directed towards muscle growth. However, bodybuilders frequently do ingest some quickly-digesting sugars (often in form of pure dextrose or maltodextrin) after a workout. This may help to replenish glycogen stores within the muscle, and to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Protein is probably one of the most important parts of the diet for the bodybuilder to consider. Functional proteins such as motor proteins which include myosin, kinesin, and dynein generate the forces exerted by contracting muscles. Current advice says that bodybuilders should consume 25-30% of protein per total calorie intake to further their goal of maintaining and improving their body composition. This is a widely debated topic, with many arguing that 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is ideal, some suggesting that less is sufficient, while others recommending 1.5, 2, or more. It is believed that protein needs to be consumed frequently throughout the day, especially during/after a workout, and before sleep. There is also some debate concerning the best type of protein to take. Chicken, beef, pork, fish, eggs and dairy foods are high in protein, as are some nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. Casein or whey are often used to supplement the diet with additional protein. Whey protein is the type of protein contained in many popular brands of protein supplements, and is preferred by many bodybuilders because of its high Biological Value (BV) and quick absorption rates. Bodybuilders usually require higher quality protein with a high BV rather than relying on protein such as soy, which is often avoided due to its claimed estrogenic properties. Still, some nutrition experts believe that soy, flax seeds and many other plants that contain the weak estrogen-like compounds or phytoestrogens can be used beneficially as phytoestrogens compete with this hormone for receptor sites in the male body and can block its actions. This can also include some inhibition of pituitary functions while stimulating the P450 system (the system that eliminates chemicals, hormones, drugs and metabolic waste product from the body) in the liver to more actively process and excrete excess estrogen.
Bodybuilders usually split their food intake for the day into 5 to 7 meals of roughly equal nutritional content and attempt to eat at regular intervals (normally between 2 and 3 hours). This method purports to serve two purposes: to limit overindulging as well as increasing basal metabolic rate when compared to the traditional 3 meals a day. However, this has been debunked as the most reliable research using whole-body calorimetry and doubly-labeled water finds no metabolic advantage to eating more frequently.
The important role of nutrition in building muscle and losing fat means bodybuilders may consume a wide variety of dietary supplements. Various products are used in an attempt to augment muscle size, increase the rate of fat loss, improve joint health and prevent potential nutrient deficiencies. Scientific consensus supports the effectiveness of only a small number of commercially available supplements when used by healthy, physically active adultsTemplate:Fact. Creatine is probably the most widely used performance enhancing legal supplement. Creatine works by turning into creatine phosphate, which provides an extra phosphorus molecule in the regeneration of ATP. This will provide the body with more energy that lasts longer during short, intense bits of work like weight training.
Performance enhancing substances
Some bodybuilders use drugs to gain an advantage in hypertrophy, especially in professional competitions. Although these substances are illegal without prescription in many countries, in professional bodybuilding anabolic steroids and precursor substances such as prohormones are used very frequently. Anabolic steroids cause muscle hypertrophy of both types (I and II) of muscle fibers caused likely by an increased synthesis of muscle proteins. Some negative side-effects accompany steroids abuse, such as hepatotoxicity, gynecomastia, acne, male pattern baldness and a decline in the body's own testosterone production, which can cause testicular atrophy.
Growth Hormone (GH) and insulin are also used. GH is relatively expensive compared to steroids, while insulin is very readily available yet fatal if misused. See Growth hormone treatment for bodybuilding.
Although muscle stimulation occurs in the gym lifting weights, muscle growth occurs afterward during rest. Without adequate rest and sleep, muscles do not have an opportunity to recover and build. About eight hours of sleep a night is desirable for the bodybuilder to be refreshed, although this varies from person to person. Additionally, many athletes find a daytime nap further increases their body's ability to build muscle. Some bodybuilders take several naps per day, during peak anabolic phases.
Overtraining refers to when a bodybuilder has trained to the point where his workload exceeds his recovery capacity. There are many reasons that overtraining occurs, including lack of adequate nutrition, lack of recovery time between workouts, insufficient sleep, and training at a high intensity for too long (a lack of splitting apart workouts). Training at a high intensity too frequently also stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) and can result in a hyper-adrenergic state that interferes with sleep patterns. To avoid overtraining, intense frequent training must be met with at least an equal amount of purposeful recovery. Timely provision of carbohydrates, proteins, and various micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, even nutritional supplements are acutely critical.
It has been argued that overtraining can be beneficial. One article published by Muscle & Fitness magazine stated that you can "Overtrain for Big Gains". It suggested that if one is planning a restful holiday and they do not wish to inhibit their bodybuilding lifestyle too much, they should overtrain before taking the holiday, so the body can rest easily and recuperate and grow. Overtraining can be used advantageously, as when a bodybuilder is purposely overtrained for a brief period of time to super compensate during a regeneration phase. These are known as "shock micro-cycles" and were a key training technique used by Soviet athletes. However, the vast majority of overtraining that occurs in average bodybuilders is generally unplanned and completely unnecessary.
- Klein, Alan M. (1993). Little Big Men: Bodybuilding Subculture and Gender Construction. Albany : State University of New York Press.(3)
- Trends in Strength Training. Center for disease control (July 21, 2006).
- 10 exercise myths. Center for science in the public interest (January 2000).
- Template:Cite news
- Michael W. King, Michael. Substrates for Gluconeogenesis. IU School of Medicine.
- Lambert CP, Frank LL, Evans WJ. Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding. Sports Med. 2004;34(5):317-27. PMID 15107010
- Protein: a guide to maximum muscle: confused? Let us separate the gristle from the meat, Samantha Heller, Men's Fitness, April 2004 http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1608/is_4_20/ai_n6002944
- Bodybuilders & Protein Part 2, Tom Venuto http://www.bodybuildingforyou.com/articles-submit/tom-venuto/bodybuildiers-and-protein-2.htm
- Protein Handbook for Beginners, Jeff Bahar, Bodybuilding.com http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/protein8.htm
- Protein Cycling by Chris Aceto. Retrieved on 2007-01-19.
- Your nutrition problems solved; This month: pre- and postworkout nutrition, calculating protein intake and adding simple carbs FLEX Magazine, January 2005
- Author L. Rea's Core Performance: Truth For Excellence In Physique & Performance -- Soy Proten Sucks! Article
- http://www.maxmuscle.com/index.cfm?fa=article&doc_id=116&subcat=science Estrogens, Testosterone & Phytoestrogens By Mike Falcon
- Eugene Shippen; William Fryer (1998). The testosterone syndrome: the critical factor for energy, health, and sexuality: reversing the male menopause. New York: M. Evans. ISBN 0-87131-829-6.
- Testosterone Nation - The Warrior Nerd: Overtraining or Under-eating? Part 1 by Lonnie Lowery, Ph.D. Article
- Testosterone Nation - The "Imperfect" Training Program. by Keats Snideman. Article