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Eugen Sandow, the "Father of Modern Bodybuilding"
2008 Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson, posing

Bodybuilding is a form of body modification involving intensive muscle hypertrophy; an individual who engages in this activity is referred to as a bodybuilder. In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders display their physiques to a panel of judges, who assign points based on their appearance. The muscles are revealed through a process known as the "cutting phase" - a combination of fat loss, oils, and tanning (or tanning lotions) which combined with lighting make the definition of the muscle group more distinct.

Well-known bodybuilders include Charles Atlas, Steve Reeves, Reg Park, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno who starred on TV Shows and in movies . Currently, three time winner Jay Cutler holds the title of Mr. Olympia as the world's top bodybuilder. [1]



Sandow ca1894.ogv
Sandow in 1894

Early years

The "Early Years" of Western Bodybuilding are considered to be the period between 1880 and 1930.

Eugen Sandow

Bodybuilding did not really exist prior to the late 19th century, when it was promoted by Eugen Sandow of Prussia (now northern Germany) ,[2] who is now generally referred to as "The Father of Modern Bodybuilding". He is credited as being a pioneer of the sport because he allowed an audience to enjoy viewing his physique in "muscle display performances". Although audiences were thrilled to see a well-developed physique, those men simply displayed their bodies as part of strength demonstrations or wrestling matches. Sandow had a stage show built around these displays through his manager, Florenz Ziegfeld. The Oscar winning 1936 musical film The Great Ziegfeld, depicts this beginning of modern bodybuilding, when Sandow began to display his body for carnivals. The role of Sandow was played by actor Nat Pendleton.

Sandow became so successful at flexing and posing his physique, he later created several businesses around his fame and was among the first to market products branded with his name alone. He was credited with inventing and selling the first exercise equipment for the masses (machined dumbbells, spring pulleys and tension bands) and even his image was sold by the thousands in "cabinet cards" and other prints.

Sandow was a strong advocate of "the Grecian Ideal" (this was a standard where a mathematical "ideal" was set up and the "perfect physique" was close to the proportions of ancient Greek and Roman statues from classical times - see Golden Mean). This is how Sandow built his own physique and in the early years, men were judged by how closely they matched these "ideal" proportions. Sandow organised the first bodybuilding contest on September 14, 1901 called the "Great Competition" and held in the Royal Albert Hall, London, UK. Judged by himself, Sir Charles Lawes, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the contest was a huge success and was sold out and hundreds of physical culture enthusiasts were turned away. The trophy presented to the winner was a bronze statue of Sandow himself sculpted by Frederick Pomeroy. The winner was William L. Murray of Nottingham, England. The most prestigious bodybuilding contest today is the Mr. Olympia, and since 1977, the winner has been presented with the same bronze statue of Sandow that he himself presented to the winner at the first contest.[3]

First large-scale bodybuilding competition in America

On 16 January 1904, the first large-scale bodybuilding competition in America took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The winner was Al Treloar and he was declared "The Most Perfectly Developed Man in the World".[4] Treloar won a $1,000 cash prize, a substantial sum at that time. Two weeks later, Thomas Edison made a film of Al Treloar's posing routine. Edison also made two films of Sandow a few years before, making him the man who made the first three motion pictures featuring a bodybuilder. In the early 20th century, Bernarr Macfadden and Charles Atlas, continued to promote bodybuilding across the world. Alois P. Swoboda was an early pioneer in America.

Notable early bodybuilders

Many other important bodybuilders in the early history of bodybuilding prior to 1930 include: Earle Liederman (writer of some of the earliest bodybuilding instruction books), Zishe Breitbart, Georg Hackenschmidt, Emy Nkemena, George F. Jowett, Finn Hateral (a pioneer in the art of posing), Monte Saldo, Launceston Elliot, Sig Klein, Sgt. Alfred Moss, Joe Nordquist, Lionel Strongfort (Strongfortism), Gustav Fristensky (the Czech champion), Ralph Parcaut, a champion wrestler who also authored an early book on "physical culture," and Alan C. Mead, who became an impressive muscle champion despite the fact that he lost a leg in World War I.

Ed Holovchik (also known as Ed Fury), bodybuilder and Mr. Los Angeles contestant, 1953

1950s and 1960s

Bodybuilding became more popular in the 1950s and 1960s with the emergence of strength and gymnastics champions joining the sport, and the simultaneous popularization of muscle training, most of all by Charles Atlas, whose advertising in comic books and other other publications encouraged many young men to undertake weight training to improve their physiques to resemble the comic books' muscular superheroes. Of notable athletes, US national and gymnastics champion and US Olympic weightlifting team competitor John Grimek and British strength athlete Reg Park as winners of newly-created bodybuilding titles such as the Mr. Universe and Mr. America competitions paved the way for others. Magazines such as Strength & Health and Muscular Development were accompanied by the public notoriety of Muscle Beach. The casting of some bodybuilders in movies was another major vehicle for the sport's popularization. Of bodybuilder-actors perhaps the most famous were Steve Reeves and Reg Park, who were featured in roles portraying Hercules, Samson and other legendary heroes. Dave Draper gained public fame through appearances in Muscle Beach Party, part of the "beach party" series of films featuring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon that began with Beach Blanket Bingo, and also in cameo appearances in television series such as the Beverly Hillbillies. Other rising stars in this period were Larry Scott, Serge Nubret, and Sergio Oliva. The gym equipment and training supplement industries founded by Joe Weider were complemented by the growth of the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB), which was co-founded by Joe and his brother Ben. The IFBB eventually displaced the Amateur Athletic Union's Mr. Universe titles and also that of NABBA, the National Amateur Bodybuilders Association as the most important and notable contests.

1970s onwards

New organizations

In the 1970s, bodybuilding had major publicity thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger and others in the 1977 film Pumping Iron. By this time the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB) dominated the sport and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) took a back seat.

The National Physique Committee (NPC) was formed in 1981 by Jim Manion,[5] who had just stepped down as chairman of the AAU Physique Committee. The NPC has gone on to become the most successful bodybuilding organization in the U.S., and is the amateur division of the IFBB in the United States. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the decline of AAU sponsored bodybuilding contests. In 1999, the AAU voted to discontinue its bodybuilding events.

Rise of anabolic steroids

This period also saw the rise of anabolic steroids used both in bodybuilding and many other sports. In bodybuilding lore, this is partly attributed to the rise of "mass monsters", beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger but including Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, Dorian Yates, Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman and Paul DeMayo and also the emergence of athletes such as Rich Gaspari and Andreas Munzer, who defied their natural genetics to attain size and hardness previously unimagined. To combat this, and in the hopes of becoming a member of the IOC, the IFBB introduced doping tests for both steroids and other banned substances. Although doping tests occurred, the majority of professional bodybuilders still used anabolic steroids for competition. During the 1970s the use of anabolic steroids was openly discussed partly due to the fact they were legal.[6] However the U.S. Congress in the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 placed anabolic steroids into Schedule III of the Controlled substance act (CSA). Similarly in Canada, in the wake of the Ben Johnson scandal, steroids were added to the Criminal Code of Canada as a Class IV controlled substance (that class was created expressly for steroids).

World Bodybuilding Federation

WBF Logo

In 1990, wrestling promoter Vince McMahon announced he was forming a new bodybuilding organization, the World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF). McMahon wanted to bring WWF-style showmanship and bigger prize money to the sport of bodybuilding. A number of IFBB stars were recruited but the roster was never very large, with the same athletes competing; the most notable winner and first WBF champion was Gary Strydom. McMahon formally dissolved the WBF in July 1992. Reasons for this probably included lack of income from the pay-per-view broadcasts of the WBF contests, slow sales of the WBF's magazine Bodybuilding Lifestyles (which later became WBF Magazine), and the expense of paying multiple 6-figure contracts as well as producing two TV shows and a monthly magazine.

Olympic sport discussion

In the early 2000s, the IFBB was attempting to make bodybuilding an Olympic sport. It obtained full IOC membership in 2000 and was attempting to get approved as a demonstration event at the Olympics which would hopefully lead to it being added as a full contest. This did not happen. Olympic recognition for bodybuilding remains controversial since many argue that bodybuilding is not a sport.[7]

Recent developments

In 2003, Joe Weider sold Weider Publications to AMI, which owns The National Enquirer. The position of president of the IFBB is vacant following the death of Ben Weider in October 2008. In 2004, contest promoter Wayne DeMilia broke ranks with the IFBB and AMI took over the promotion of the Mr. Olympia contest. Other professional contests emerged in this period, most notably the Arnold Classic and Night of Champions but also the European Grand Prix of Bodybuilding. Also with the growth of consumer lifestyles in Europe and especially in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union saw whole new populations of bodybuilders emerge from those areas.


Professional bodybuilding

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. Steroid testing in these competitions is generally never done.[citation needed]

Natural bodybuilding

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. Illegal Anabolic steroids, Prohormone and Diuretics, under widespread use by professional bodybuilders, are generally banned by 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 healthier lifestyle than other forms of bodybuilding.

Female bodybuilding

Pro female bodybuilder Nikki Fuller performs a side chest pose.

The first U.S. Women's National Physique Championship, promoted by Henry McGhee and held in Canton, Ohio in 1978, is generally regarded as the first true female bodybuilding contest - that is, the first contest where the entrants were judged solely on muscularity.[8] In 1980 the first Ms. Olympia (initially known as the "Miss" Olympia), the most prestigious contest for professionals, was held. The first winner was Rachel McLish who had also won the NPC's USA Championship earlier in the year. The contest was a major turning point for the sport of women's bodybuilding. McLish inspired many future competitors to start training and competing. In 1985, a movie called Pumping Iron II: The Women was released. This film documented the preparation of several women for the 1983 Caesars Palace World Cup Championship. Competitors prominently featured in the film were Kris Alexander, Lori Bowen, Lydia Cheng, Carla Dunlap, Bev Francis, and Rachel McLish. At the time, Francis was actually a powerlifter, though she soon made a successful transition to bodybuilding, becoming one of the leading competitors of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In recent years, the related areas of fitness and figure competition have gained in popularity, surpassing that of female bodybuilding, and have provided an alternative for women who choose not to develop the level of muscularity necessary for bodybuilding. Rachel McLish would resemble closely what is thought of today as a fitness and figure competition instead of what is now considered female bodybuilding. Fitness competitions also have a gymnastic element to them.


A bodybuilder posing on stage during a competition. The pose is a variation of the "most muscular".

In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain an aesthetically pleasing body and balanced physique. In prejudging, competitors do a series of mandatory poses - the front lat spread, the rear lat spread, the front double biceps, the back double biceps, the side chest, the side triceps, the most muscular (men only), and the thigh-abdominal pose. Each competitor also performs a routine to display the physique. A posedown is usually held at the end of a posing round, while judges are finishing their scoring. Bodybuilders spend time practicing their posing, since they are judged on it.

In contrast to strongman or powerlifting competitions where physical strength is important, or to Olympic weightlifting, where the main point is equally split between strength and technique, bodybuilding competitions typically emphasize condition, size and symmetry. Different organizations emphasize particular aspects of competition, and sometimes have different categories in which to compete.


Cutting and bulking

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 12–14 weeks from competition attempt to lose body fat (referred to as "cutting") while minimizing the loss of muscle mass. Generally this involves reducing calorie intake and increasing aerobic exercise while monitoring body fat percentage.

The precise effectiveness of the cutting and bulking strategy is unknown, with only limited observational case studies on the subject. No studies involving precise hypercaloric feeding combined with resistance exercise have been conducted.

Many non-competitive bodybuilders choose not to adopt this strategy, as it often results in significant unwanted fat gain during the "bulking" phase. While competitive bodybuilders focus their efforts to achieve a peak appearance during a brief "competition season", most ordinary people prefer to maintain an attractive physique year-round. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a proper training program combined with a modestly hypercaloric diet with proper macronutrient balance can produce steady gains in size and strength, while avoiding significant increases in body fat.


In the week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders may decrease their consumption of water, sodium and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins. The appearance of veins are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products, applying oils to the skin to increase shine and some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step is the use of weights to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size.

Muscle growth

Bodybuilders use three main strategies to maximize muscle hypertrophy:

Weight training

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.[9]

Weight training aims to build muscle by prompting two different types of hypertrophy, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and myofibrillar hypertrophy. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy leads to larger muscles so is favored by bodybuilders more than myofibrillar hypertrophy which builds athletic strength. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is triggered by increasing repetitions, whereas myofibrillar hypertrophy is triggered by lifting heavier weights. [10]


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 provide 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.[11]


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.[12]


Protein milkshakes, made from protein powder (center) and milk (left), are a common bodybuilding supplement.

Protein is one of the most important parts of the diet for the bodybuilder to consider. The motor proteins actin and myosin 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.[13] 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.[14][15][16][17] It is believed that protein needs to be consumed frequently throughout the day, especially during/after a workout, and before sleep.[18] There is also some debate concerning the best type of protein to take. Chicken, turkey, 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 are usually thought to require protein with a higher BV than that of soy, which is additionally avoided due to its claimed estrogenic properties.[19] 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 estrogens 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.[20][21] Cortisol decreases amino acid uptake by muscle, and inhibits protein synthesis.[22]


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 2 purposes: to limit overindulging as well as increasing basal metabolic rate when compared to the traditional 3 meals a day. [23][24][25]

Dietary supplements

The important role of nutrition in building muscle and losing fat means bodybuilders may consume a wide variety of dietary supplements.[26] 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 adults[citation needed]. 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 such as anabolic steroids and precursor substances such as prohormones to increase muscle hypertrophy. Most of the substances require medical prescriptions to be accessed legally. Anabolic steroids cause muscle hypertrophy of both types (I and II) of muscle fibers caused likely by an increased synthesis of muscle proteins and are accompanied with undesired side effects including hepatotoxicity, gynecomastia, acne, male pattern baldness and a decline in the body's own testosterone production, which can cause testicular atrophy.[27][28][29] Other controlled substances used by competitive bodybuilders include human growth hormone (HGH), which can cause acromegaly. Steroid use is prevalent among professional bodybuilders because such big growth and size is impossible without them.


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 and during catabolic phases.


Overtraining occurs 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.[30] 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.[31] However, the vast majority of overtraining that occurs in average bodybuilders is generally unplanned and completely unnecessary.[32]

Non muscle-developing methods

Some bodybuilders, particularly at professional level, use substances such as site enhancement oil to mimic the appearance of muscle where it may otherwise be disproportionate or lagging. Surgical methods are also often employed to remove steroid-related gynecomastia in male bodybuilders, and breast implants in female bodybuilders who wish to retain a feminine physique, which can be compromised in terms of breast reduction by intense weight training.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Homepage "Sandow: Historic Photographs of Early Bodybuilders - The Sandow Museum: History of Bodybuilding - A Tribute to Eugen Sandow". Homepage. 
  3. ^ The Mr. Olympia Bodybuilding Contest Trophy and Medal - I.F.B.B.: THE STORY OF THE MR. OLYMPIA TROPHY BY DAVID L. CHAPMAN. BIOGRAPHER OF EUGEN SANDOW. Article
  4. ^ Al Treloar at
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Theunissen, Steve. "Arnold & Steroids: Truth Revealed". Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  7. ^ Littman, Jean. "Bodybuilding And The Olympics: An Ongoing Controversy". Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  8. ^ Todd, Jan, "Bodybuilding", St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, Gale Group, 1999
  9. ^ MacDougall JD, Elder GC, Sale DG, Moroz JR, Sutton JR (1980). "Effects of strength training and immobilization on human muscle fibres". European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology 43 (1): 25–34. doi:10.1007/BF00421352. PMID 7371625. 
  10. ^ "Weight Training Intensity or Volume for Bigger Muscles?". Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  11. ^ Manore, MM; Thompson J, Russo M (March 1993). "Diet and exercise strategies of a world-class bodybuilder". Int J Sport Nutr. (Dept. of Family Resources & Human Development, Arizona State University) 3 (1): 76–86. PMID 8499940. 
  12. ^ Michael W. King, Michael. "Substrates for Gluconeogenesis". IU School of Medicine. 
  13. ^ Lambert CP, Frank LL, Evans WJ. Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding. Sports Med. 2004;34(5):317-27. PMID 15107010
  14. ^ Protein: a guide to maximum muscle: confused? Let us separate the gristle from the meat, Samantha Heller, Men's Fitness, April 2004
  15. ^ Bodybuilders & Protein Part 2, Tom Venuto
  16. ^ Protein Handbook for Beginners, Jeff Bahar,
  17. ^ "Protein Cycling by Chris Aceto". Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  18. ^ Your nutrition problems solved; This month: pre- and postworkout nutrition, calculating protein intake and adding simple carbs FLEX Magazine, January 2005
  19. ^ Author L. Rea's Core Performance: Truth For Excellence In Physique & Performance -- Soy Proten Sucks! Article
  20. ^ Estrogens, Testosterone & Phytoestrogens By Mike Falcon
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ Manchester, K.L., “Sites of Hormonal Regulation of Protein Metabolism. p. 229”, Mammalian Protein [Munro, H.N., Ed.]. Academic Press, New York. On p273.
  23. ^ Bellisle F, McDevitt R, Prentice AM (1997). "Meal frequency and energy balance". Br. J. Nutr. 77 Suppl 1: S57–70. doi:10.1079/BJN19970104. PMID 9155494. 
  24. ^ Taylor MA, Garrow JS (2001). "Compared with nibbling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients in a chamber calorimeter". Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 25 (4): 519–28. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0801572. PMID 11319656. 
  25. ^ Smeets AJ, Westerterp-Plantenga MS (June 2008). "Acute effects on metabolism and appetite profile of one meal difference in the lower range of meal frequency". Br. J. Nutr. 99 (6): 1316–21. doi:10.1017/S0007114507877646. PMID 18053311. 
  26. ^ Philen RM, Ortiz DI, Auerbach SB, Falk H (1992). "Survey of advertising for nutritional supplements in health and bodybuilding magazines". JAMA 268 (8): 1008–11. doi:10.1001/jama.268.8.1008. PMID 1501305. 
  27. ^ Schroeder E, Vallejo A, Zheng L, et al. (2005). "Six-week improvements in muscle mass and strength during androgen therapy in older men". J Gerontol a Biol Sci Med Sci 60 (12): 1586–92. PMID 16424293. 
  28. ^ Grunfeld C, Kotler D, Dobs A, Glesby M, Bhasin S (2006). "Oxandrolone in the treatment of HIV-associated weight loss in men: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study". J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 41 (3): 304–14. doi:10.1097/01.qai.0000197546.56131.40+. PMID 16540931. 
  29. ^ Giorgi A, Weatherby R, Murphy P (1999). "Muscular strength, body composition and health responses to the use of testosterone enanthate: a double blind study". Journal of science and medicine in sport / Sports Medicine Australia 2 (4): 341–55. PMID 10710012. 
  30. ^ Testosterone Nation - The Warrior Nerd: Overtraining or Under-eating? Part 1 by Lonnie Lowery, Ph.D. Article
  31. ^ Smith DJ (2003). "A framework for understanding the training process leading to elite performance". Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) 33 (15): 1103–26. doi:10.2165/00007256-200333150-00003. PMID 14719980. 
  32. ^ Testosterone Nation - The "Imperfect" Training Program. by Keats Snideman. Article

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also bodybuilding



Bodybuilding n. (genitive Bodybuildings, no plural)

  1. bodybuilding

Related terms


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Bodybuilding is the activity of using free weights (barbells and dumbbells) and other gym equipments (such as the 'pec-deck') along with a specific diet to firstly gain lean muscle mass, then 'cut' the bodyfat.

The basic theory is for a bodybuilder (participant in the art of bodybuilding) to use equipments and exercises to work out a muscle or muscle groups until they are weakened; then, increasing protein intake, rebuilding the muscles so that when they are fit again they are stronger and eventually bigger.

Bodybuilding can be summed up by a well-known and used anecdote:

"Imagine your body as a bridge. A storm (exercises and weights) knocks down that bridge. The villagers nearby (the human body; protein) rebuild the bridge so that when it is complete it is stronger. Again, a stronger storm (a heavier set of weights, or more reps used) knocks down the bridge. And, once again, the villagers rebuild the bridge back even stronger and bigger."



Beside the obvious weight lifting aspect, some regard a proper diet to be as, if not more important. A traditional bodybuilder's diet will always include a high amount of Protein (current research suggests 25-30% of calorie intake [1]), Carbohydrates, usually complex (rather than simple sugars) to provide them with energy to complete their workout, and go about their daily lives. Lastly, fats. The misconception about fats is that "all fats" make you gain body fat, whilst this is not true. There are three types of fatty acids: saturated, trans, and unsaturated. They each contain 9 calories per gram, whilst Carbohydrates and Protein have 4 calories per gram.

  • Saturated fats: They are definable because they are solids at room temperature, like the fat on bacon.
  • Unsaturated fats: These are "useful" fats that can be broken down into subcategories monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, and include the popular Omega 3 & 6 fats. They are usually found in liquid form, particularly in fish. They are essential to every diet.
  • Trans-fats: These are so named due to how they look structurally. From a chemistry perspective, there is a cis formation and a trans formation for a fatty acid chain. This trans formation is produced when hydrogen is added to an unsaturated fat. These fats are hard at room temperature and are generally found in fried foods, some margarines, and red meats.

Depending on whether a bodybuilder is "cutting" or "bulking", they will either try to burn more calories than they consume, or, if bulking, consume more "useful" calories (that is, protein) than they burn.


Most prefer "free weights", which are usually iron cast plates (though there are plastic, cement-filled and even rubber version) which are slotted onto a bar, either a dumbbell; a smaller bar, ideal for individual bodyparts, or a barbell; a longer bar, (ranging from 6 to 8 feet in length) on which more weight is placed, as usually both arms are used to lift it.


To achieve micro muscle tears, which the protein digested restores to a state which is improved before the workout, Bodybuilders use a highly Scientific approach to their time with machines and weights.

Reps short for Repetitions is the amount of one excercise is done. For example, one rep of a Bench Press would be lowering the barbell to one's chest, and pushing it back up above them. When their arms are locked, one rep is completed (although for better stress on the Pectorals, it is best to stop just prior to locking out).

Sets are quite literally a set of repetitions.

A basic exercise for the chest would be like so:

  • Flat Bench Press
    • 3 Sets of 10 Reps

This would be achieved by doing 10-12 repetitions of the Bench Press exercise, taking a rest (which is very important and will be explained later) and then doing another five repetitions. This would be done until the amount of sets stated is completed.


The human body is naturally able to adapt to new stresses easily. Thus, the same workout after a period of time will lose its effectiveness. In addition to increasing reps and increasing weights, these techniques are also commonly used to "shock" the system:

Static contraction: Holding the weight in the most difficult position of the rep for a period of time. (IE, top of a wrist curl, middle of a bicep curl)

Superset: Immediately following one set, do a set of another exercise targeting a similar muscle without rest. (IE, barbell curls followed by tricep extensions)

Double negative: Lowering the weight as slowly as possible.

Strip set: Immediately upon reaching failure, lower the weight and keep going. (IE, bench 150 until you can't lift it anymore, then drop it to 130 and go again)

Bodyweight Training

A popular but less known method of body-building is using solely your bodyweight to build muscle. This method has advantages in the fact that the exercises are more natural movements, and are less concentrated on individual muscles, which lowers the risk of muscle imbalance and injury. Many athletes use primarily bodyweight training.



Push-ups are a well known and effective exercises that is easy to learn and very efficient. Primarily building the pecs and triceps, pushups also build shoulder-muscle as well as helping to develop a stronger core.

To execute a push-up, lie face-down on the ground with your legs together and your hands pressed flat-palmed against the ground just wider than shoulder-width apart, parrallel to your neck. Keeping your body rigid, slowly push up with your arms until they are almost fully extended, with your feet at a ninety-degree angle with your legs, and your toes bend against the ground supporting your legs. Hold for a second at the top, then slowly lower yourself back down, making sure to keep a straight core, until your nose is just above the floor. Repeat reps as able. It is recommended to do three sets of push-ups to maximum repetition every workout. Also, for a more thorough workout change your grip on the ground to thumb and forefinger of each hand touching, just below your chest, and also hands spread wide out on either side. These three grips will allow more thorough muscle development.

Most bodybuilders do not use pushups to develop these muscles, as they can do so many; it is more of an endurance workout than a muscle building workout. True muscle building workouts involved sets with a very maximum of 12 reps, and it's usually less than 8 reps.

Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups

Another excellent upper-body workout are pull-ups and chin-ups. These exercises primarily strengthen the latissimus dorsi, but help to tighten arms (biceps) as well.

To perform, it is recommended that you have a round bar at just over head-height, possibly suspended in a door-way. These pull-up bars are cheap, easy to install, and most definitely a must have. If for some reason you do not have access to a bar, use the top of a door-frame, throwing a folded towel over the top to pad the grip for your hands. Assuming you have a bar, grab the bar with both hands, shoulder-width apart, and your palms facing either away from you or towards you (perform more reps of whichever grip you are weaker at by doing this grip first, but make sure to do both ways for good muscle balance). Then, letting all of your weight hang from your arms, pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar, then lower so that you are still hanging off of the ground. Perform reps until fatigue, and three sets of maximum repetition is also recommended per workout.

Most gyms have pull-up bars, as well as machines that work the latissimus dorsi, and many bodybuilders simply work this muscle group at the gym.

Basic Muscle Groups

The basic muscle groups that body builders normally train can be classified as upper-body muscles and lower-body muscles

Upper Body

The important upper body muscles are Shoulders, Chest (Pectorals), Biceps, Triceps, Lattismus Dorsi and Trapezius.

Some of the common exercises used for these muscle groups are

Shoulders - Military press Chest - Bench press Latissmus Dorsi - Lat Pull Biceps - Barbell curl Triceps - T-Rod

Military press and Bench press can be done with either barbell or dumbbells

Lower Body

The important muscle groups are Gluteals, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Hip Flexors, Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Tibial Anterior

Some common exercise are Hamstring, Glutes, Quadriceps, Calves - Squats (will target different muscle groups depending on stance), Deadlifts.

Squats can be done with either bodyweight, barbell, dumbbell, kettlebells, Smiths machine and a lever system.

There are many variations of the squat such as front squats, back squats, box squats, cambered bar squats, jump squats, one legged squats (a.k.a. "pistols") etc. (visit for complete information)

Simple English

Bodybuilding is a form of human body modification involving intensive muscle hypertrophy. An individual who engages in this activity is referred to as a bodybuilder. In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders display their physiques to a panel of judges, who assign points based on their appearance. The muscles are revealed through a process known as the "cutting phase" - a combination of fat loss, oils, and tanning which, combined with the lighting, make the definition of the muscle group more distinct.

Heracles, the greatest hero of Greek mythology, who has been a symbol of masculinity, may be considered the ancestor of modern bodybuilders.

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