In very basic terms, a bodybuilder is any individual who is actively trying to develop their body and build their muscles through exercise and nutrition. People also do bodybuilding on a professional level, entering competitions and training constantly. Bodybuilding in 2019 is very different than it has been throughout the ages. It began more as a practice designed to develop the muscles, and later became an actual competitive sport.
The actual practice of bodybuilding began with the Greeks and Egyptians, who would try to build their muscles by lifting stones of different sizes and weights. In this case the primary goals were to gain physical strength and power, not to compete with others or show public displays of egotism. 4
The official father of bodybuilding is considered to be Eugene Sandow, a ‘professional strongman’ from Russia who founded the sport in 1890. He toured around America with a vaudeville show and spread the word about bodybuilding largely because he was a big sex-symbol. He was employed to promote a healthy lifestyle which included exercise during that era. In 1901, he organised the first bodybuilding competition at Royal Albert Hall in London, England.3
This ultimately launched the wave back to bodybuilding as a way to gain muscle and lose body fat. Many gyms opened during this period, and bodybuilding equipment was made and sold like wildfire.
Weightlifting and dieting have become very mainstream today. Naturally, bodybuilding is hugely competitive. Bodybuilding competitions themselves have come into the mainstream due to the explosion of technology and media that makes it easy to broadcast competitions everywhere, making them more intense and competitive than they were in the past. 4 There are also thousands of websites devoted to promoting the sport of bodybuilding on the Internet.
Why You Should Join a Gym
So you’ve decided to start bodybuilding seriously. Where do you begin? Should you just go down to your usual gym and start doing bodybuilding training? No, you shouldn’t. Particularly if you’re new to bodybuilding, it’s crucial that you work with a trainer who can show you the proper techniques, motivate you, and help you come up with a training plan. The majority of people end up quitting because they don’t have support in one or all of these areas. That means joining a bodybuilding gym specifically, not just your regular gym.
Bodybuilders & Exercises
If you want to be a successful bodybuilder, it’s really important that you learn the types of exercises you should be doing. There are different exercises to target the development of different muscles groups, and you have to learn how to do them using the correct technique, when and how often to do each one, and how many repetitions you should be doing. This is why it’s so important to work with a trainer at a proper bodybuilding gym. It order to begin training properly, there’s a lot to learn.
Supplements for Bodybuilders
It’s not essential to take supplements and not every bodybuilder does it, but in truth it’s impossible to meet the nutritional goals you need to succeed without them. Here are a few of the most popular supplements you may want to consider:5,6
Beta-Alanine: There is some evidence that this amino acid improves your exercise performance and makes you less tired. If you are following a workout program, it will also help increase your muscle mass.
Creatine: The most popular supplement amongst athletes. It can augment muscle strength and lean muscle mass.
Whey Protein: Whey protein is the ideal protein to use if you want to build up your muscle size. It travels directly to the muscles upon entering your system, to work on developing them.
Testosterone Support: These supplements (such as HexoFire Delta Prime) support your levels of testosterone, and this in turn accelerates the growth of your muscles.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids: These are the essential amino acids, which include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are metabolised by the muscle tissue and are important for the recovery of the muscles.
Bodybuilders plan their diets based on a contradiction: they want to bulk up their muscles, but they also want to stay trim and fit looking — lean. This is because bodybuilding is not judged only on physical strength and skill, but also on the physical appearance of the contestant.7
In a 2018 research study of bodybuilders, Chappell et al stated that, “competitive bodybuilders employ a combination of resistance training, cardiovascular exercise, calorie reduction, supplementation regimes, and peaking strategies in order to lose fat mass and maintain fat free mass.”1 The correct nutrition is absolutely crucial in this regard. It can definitely be the difference between success and failure as a bodybuilder.
To deal with this contradiction, bodybuilders eat differently on days when they’re actively training compared to when they take a day off. This is called the ‘bulking phase’ and the ‘cutting phase.’ The bulking phase occurs during active training, and it involves loading up on calories and protein in order to develop muscle. During the off days, bodybuilders want to cut fat while keeping the bulk in their muscles.7
There are two factors involved in keeping muscle mass while remaining lean: a special diet, and intermittent fasting. Essentially you will still eat protein for muscle building, but you’ll reduce your overall caloric intake for the day. Intermittent fasting for part of the day can help with this reduction. The suggested diet plan for bodybuilders is 55-60% from carbs, 25-30 from protein, and 15-20% from fat.2
Additional Tips for Becoming a Bodybuilder
If you’re new to bodybuilding and eager to build up your muscles, remember that it will take time and a lot of work on your part to achieve significant process. You’ll have to be patient and proceed with your program consistently. Here are some other tips for beginner bodybuilders:
- Build a set training program and keep it up: Consistency is key if you really want to build up your muscles and do serious bodybuilding.
- Take days off in your training: You can’t train every day, because your muscles need time for recovery. As a beginning you should train 3-4 days every week.
- Use free weights to train: They are they best way to build up your muscles. You don’t need anything else.
- Increase the weights bit by bit: If you want to move forward and really develop those muscles, you must increase the weights gradually every couple of weeks.
- Master the form of each exercise: If you want to get the maximum benefit from the exercise you have make sure your form is correct. Incorrect form can lead to injury, so get a trainer to check.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle: Naturally following a healthy diet and avoiding junk food, smoking, and excess alcohol will accelerate your progress.
- Chappell, A. J., Simper, T., & Barker, M. E. (2018). Nutritional strategies of high level natural bodybuilders during competition preparation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15, 4. Retrieved at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769537/
- Lambert, C.P., Frank, L.L., Evans, W.J. (2004). Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding. Sports Medicine, 34(5), 317-327. Retrieved at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15107010
- Rhodes, Jesse (2019). Bodybuilders Through the Ages. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/bodybuilders-through-the-ages-36952418/?page=1
- Robson, David (January 2018). A History Lesson in Bodybuilding. Bodybuilding.com. Retrieved at https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drobson61.htm
- Robson, David (October 2018). 6 Supplements You Need for Explosive Growth This Summer. Bodybuilding.com. Retrieved at https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/explosive-growth-your-summer-supplement-strategy.html#
- Tinsley, Grant (July 2017). The 6 Best Supplements to Gain Muscle. Healthline. retrieved online at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/supplements-for-muscle-gain#section6
- Van De Walle, Gavin (November 2018). Bodybuilding Meal Plan: What to Eat, What to Avoid. Healthline. Retrieved online at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/bodybuilding-meal-plan#bodybuilding