My first approach to a gym was over ten years ago: I wanted to do something for my physique and since the only sport I was doing was horseriding, I decided to subscribe to a commercial gym. In those days I would never have admitted I was doing bodybuilding. To be honest I’ve been laughing at the -in my eyes- over confident bros posing in front of the mirror, sipping protein shakes and grunting and screaming during their sets. Well, life happens, and now I am a broette doing exactly the same stuff. But if you think about the definition of “bodybuilding” I was already doing it ten years ago: I did exercise to lose fat and gain muscles. And if you are training to lose weight, get in shape, tone up (whatever you want to call it) and not for performance in a specific sport you are a bodybuilder too. Don’t like it? I’ll try to convince you of the opposite 😉 .
First, try to get all the stereotypes out of your mind: no, not all bodybuilders are taking perfomance enhancing drugs, are eating just chicken, broccoli and rice, drinking shakes or are muscular manly women with stiff muscles. If you are not stepping on stage with an extreme low body fat (and actually not everyone is suitable), bodybuilding has actually plenty of benefits.
Bodybuilding is healthy
Being lean and muscular has many health benefits:
- muscle mass improves insulin sensitivity and therefore protects you against diabetes
- being lean protects you against chronic inflammation and restores hormon level which adipose tissues brings out of balance
- strength training improves cardiovascular health as good as endurance training
- muscle mass makes you live longer
Bodybuilding is the most efficient way to look good naked
There is no faster way to lose fat and gain a decent amount of muscles to get that lean-toned-sexy look everyone of us is looking for. There is a lot of evidence that strength training is more effective than endurance and a combination of endurance and strength to get lean. By the way, I am always laughing when women tell me they do not want to become too muscular (yes, I still hear it!). To be honest I am trying hard for years to get big and strong AF and still I am not.
On the right is a picture of me 2013 doing poledance, Crossfit and running (and probably overestimating the calorie I was burning by a lot) compared to the last pic of my cut in July 2018 focusing only on strength training and maintaining a calorie deficit. Ok the picture quality and the light are different. But you know what I mean?
Bodybuilding lengthens your muscles
Contrary to popular believe, passive stretching does not lengthen your muscles but causes neural adaptions: you are teaching the nervous system that it is safe to use more range of motion. In contrast, the stress caused by using full range of motion with heavy lifts does increases the length of your muscles.
Bodybuilding is safe
Do not believe it? Let the numbers speak! This graphic taken from Menno Henselmann’s Online PT Course and shows it pretty clearly:
And it makes very much sense because you can adapt bodybuilding to your needs and your anatomy. Stefan, for example, has issues with heavy conventional deadlifting. Well, guess what? He switched to trap bar deadlifts and does additional back work with less spinal loading. In contrast to running, the impact in bodybuilding is very low and due to the variety of movements not as repetitive and therefore not as injury prone.
Bodybuilding is functional
I’ll make a long story short and if you want to read it more in detail, go here 🙂 .
The bigger your muscles and the lower your body fat percentage (= bodybuilding), the better your performance in a wide range of activities (= functionality). This applies also to a very specialized sport like powerlifting, but it is also true for everyday life: lack of balance is often just a lack of strength and that’s why also elderly do profit from a bodybuilding-like approach.
Bodybuilding is good for injury rehabilitation
Two factors make bodybuilding particularly good at that:
- Improving muscle strength without aggravating the injury: thankfully, the current opinion in injury rehabilitation is to stay active. However, strength training is particularly good at restoring muscle function and relieving from pain. Of course if you had a major injury, you should consult a proper physiotherapist and not jump into a self-made training.
- Staying lean: being overweight imposes a lot of unnecessary mechanical stress on your joints, tendons and other connective tissue. Overweight people are more prone to get injured, by the way.
This article is largely based on two very good articles by Menno Henselmann. He is probably the main reason why now I am doing bodybuilding. Give it a read, it is worth it!
Did I convince you that bodybuilding is awesome? 😉 Hope so! I am interested in hearing your thoughts on it, so please feel free to comment the article. And if you did like it, it would make me incredibly happy if you share the article. Want to get jacked and strong AF? Then get in touch with my coach.
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