The more I learn the more I come to the conclusion that bodybuilding in its traditional sense is in fact a bad route to take for beginners. Increasing muscle mass is a very common goal, I share that goal and I applaud you for having it as an ambition. I think it looks great and I believe it to be a valuable asset. Does that not contradict my opening statement about ‘’bodybuilding’’ then? No, my remark was in relation to a lot of the common pitfalls of what has become an (perhaps always was) ego infested body of water. This has no relation to training and eating for muscle mass, instead I am purely discussing ‘’typical’’ bodybuilding.
Below I have outlined the most common pitfalls of ‘’bodybuilding’’ and why I rather focus on being an ‘’athlete’’ these days with a multi-pronged focus – health, performance and aesthetics to name a few.
1 – Injuries Go With The Territory
Most of the lifters I know who suffer injuries on a regular basis fall into the ‘’bodybuilder’’ category. Having spent a little time pondering this point I have come to the conclusion it is no coincidence. The thing is bodybuilding preaches aesthetics – there is little care for balance (beyond what ‘’looks’’ good) and the idea of stretching or doing mobility work is received in a similar vain to an alien landing in your back garden.
If you mention things like ‘’trap 3’’ to a bodybuilder you will most likely get a vague response. My point being that to stay injury free you NEED to ‘’build’’ your whole body. That means your glute minors as well as your biceps, your trap 3 as well as your pecs and doing plenty of mobility work to prevent your level of flexibility reaching ‘’ultra-stiff’’ grade. How often do you hear a bodybuilder claim to have rotor cuff issues when in fact the chances are their drastic imbalance between the trap 3, upper trap and latts means their shoulder joints are fried? Bodybuilding taught me none of this, proper performance based training did.
2 – Shut Up & Eat
Nutrition is often an interesting conversation among bodybuilding circles. There is often this dogma which surrounds the idea of ‘’slamming’’ food now to get HUGE. Sure, high calorific diets are often needed at some stage to grow but what about things like digestive performance and natural hormone regulation? There is little sense in sharing the appetite of a T-Rex at the end of a 7 day fast if your body can’t absorb the nutrients. Bodybuilding never really addressed these areas to me, again performance and health based nutrition did. It is almost considered ‘’soft’’ to worry about such things and it is far more manly to just ‘’ram’’ the food down but for those who actually care about their health and results I would encourage you to care.
3 – Bigger Is Better
Bodybuilding often carries the heavily misguided message that weight is everything. It is this mind-set which leads to slightly deluded soles slaying those who are perhaps ‘’smaller’’ (because they are actually very lean and muscular). Often people who subscribe to the above philosophies of nutrition have a body fat level way above healthy, look soft and only care about filling a t-shirt which is a size too small. Being lean makes you more hormonally driven (anabolic), often healthier and it looks better in my opinion.
This might sound like an attack on the sport which I have expressed so much love for, but it isn’t. instead it is a collection of my thoughts on where I feel ‘’bodybuilding’’ as a generic term could really improve on and more than that improve its image as a whole.