|Is Competitive Bodybuilding Healthy?
BodybuildingPro.com Articles Database Articles by Writer Articles Written by Matt Canning Is Competitive Bodybuilding Healthy?
Competitive bodybuilding is very much unlike most other sports
which fall into the fitness category. Many athletes can be praised
for their speed or endurance as seen in running events or swimming,
or any number of competitve sports where balance is required. As a
result of needing a variety of skills to excel in these sports, a
balanced physique is necessary. Muscle mass and strength is also
quite helpful. During his prime, Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson was
said to be able to bench press 440 pounds, and had successfully
bench pressed 407 pounds for several repetitions. Clearly, his
muscle mass and strength helped him excel as a champion runner.
From sprinting to football to any number of sports, muscle mass and
strength help and these levels of fitness can prove to be very
healthy to the individuals participating in the sports.
At the Mr. Olympia level, bodybuilding requires the use of
anabolic steroids to achieve the outstanding muscle mass and
condition each competitor displays. Some will say that using
steroids in moderation is not anymore unhealthy than drinking
recreationally or eating junk food, and they may be right, but at
the level of the Mr. Olympia, we can only imagine the quantity of
drugs that must be consumed to be competitive. However, that is
merely an assumption. Some bodybuilders have exceptional genetics,
and some such as Lee Priest have confessed to using anabolic
steroids, but in doses so low, your average gym rat will have
followed the same mass building stack.
What is incredibly challenging for most bodybuilders is the
dieting. Dehydrating themselves for the sake of retaining as little
water as possible is terribly draining on both energy levels and on
organs. The point of competition is sport, at the upper echelon of
competitive levels, is not to be healthy, but to win. At least that
is the mindset of thousands of competitive athletes around today.
Where the distance between 1st and 2nd place
is so small, it is necessary for athletes to push themselves to
unhealthy extremes in order to maintain a competitive edge. Some
bodybuilders today have dieted so hard that they have lost energy
levels and muscle mass to achieve definition that may not have been
necessary to win. There is a balance, even at the top levels of any
sport, and sometimes even at those levels, you can go too far.
A Healthy Alternative for Top Bodybuilders?
Some bodybuilders will look far larger in the offseason as they do
year round. On the other hand, how many pictures of Arnold
Schwarzenegger, Shawn Ray, Chris Cormier, or Flex Wheeler have you
seen where they are massively bulked? These athletes stay lean year
round and are always within competitive weights. That said, the
strain on their bodies of losing all that weight during the dieting
portion of their training is not as severe as some other athletes
who lose as much as 50-80 pounds when dialing it in for a
competition. It seems apparent that what these athletes are doing
is better for the body, and less of a shock to the system.
Is Bodybuilding Healthy for Recreational Athletes?
Yes! An unfortunate misperception of bodybuilding is that it is
unhealthy for anyone doing it, which is a fallacy. The truth is,
bodybuilding principles are perfect to apply for principles of all
walks of life. Only at the upper echelon of bodybuilding
competition does the possibility of it being unhealthy come into
play. Don't let the media scare you into not taking up bodybuilding
because of the reports which say athletes are unhealthy. Nobody is
telling you to do the same things as the current Mr. Olympia
competitors so don't be afraid. The key to success is BALANCE. Eat
a balanced diet, get ample amounts of sleep and don't do more than
you can handle. If you do so, an excellent physique and great
health is your reward.
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