Franco Columbo
Jay Cutler
Lou Ferigno
Arnold Schwarzenegger

More coming soon …

Bodybuilding is the process of maximizing lean muscle growth or hypertrophy and losing fat tissue through a combination of weight training (mostly) cardiovascular training, proper caloric intake (quality, timing, ratio of macronutrients, supplementation), and sleeps and rest.

Bodybuilding is usually practiced for any of the following reasons: (1) to be a competitive bodybuilder and present the physique to a panel of judges, (2) to build lean muscle tissue to generate and attenuate greater forces or to gain mass for a sport, such as football, and (3) to build lean muscle and shape the physique to simply look and feel better, for general injury prevention, for functional longevity, and for health promotion. At the competitive level the muscles are revealed through a combination of fat loss, oils, and tanning (or tanning lotions) which combined with lighting make the definition of the muscle group more distinct. Extreme dietary restrictions and water loss are often practiced immediately before bodybuilding competition to the point that the physique looks great, but the body might not feel the greatest.

There are probably about as many bodybuilder’s workouts as there are bodybuilders. There are numerous claims on the Internet an in magazines and books that raise skepticism among scrutinizing readers. Watch for exaggerated claims. One professional-looking website reported the opposite results that were found in the conclusion of scientific studies that were cited — checking the sources on the National Library of Medicine PubMed website, which lists abstracts of over 15 million citations for biomedical articles back to the 1950’s. When studying two of the abstracts — and double-checking — it was obvious that the studies were misquoted. Therefore, take note of this reminder that just because something is published on the Internet — even with sources cited —  doesn’t mean that it’s true.

You might find some inspiration and motivation on these websites and reports of bodybuilder’s routines, but your best bet is to check with your physician, your personal trainer and stay true with legitimate scientific research.

Professional bodybuilding
In the modern bodybuilding industry “Professional” generally means a bodybuilder who has won qualifying completions 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.

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. Anabolic steroids, Prohormone and Diuretics are generally banned in 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 healthy lifestyle than other forms of bodybuilding.

Female Bodybuilding
In the 1970s, women began to take part in bodybuilding competitions, but the competitions were not comparable to the men’s competitions. 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.

The National Physique Committee (NPC) held the first women’s Nationals in 1980, which was won by Laura Combes. Since its inception, this has been the top amateur level competition for women in the US.

The first Ms. Olympia contest in 1980, won by Rachel McLish, would resemble closely what is thought of today as a fitness and figure competition. The contest was a major turning point for the sport of women’s bodybuilding. McLish turned out to be very promotable, and inspired many future competitors to start training and competing. Ms. Olympia has become the most prestigious contest for professionals.

The Ms. International Contest was introduced in 1986 and gradually gained the prestige of the Ms. Olympia contest.

The IFBB introduced several changes to female bodybuilding in 2000. The Ms. Olympia contest would no longer be held as a separate contest, instead being incorporated as part of the “Olympia Weekend”. Weight classes, long a standard part of amateur contests, were introduced in the pro ranks. Also, new judging guidelines for athlete presentation were introduced. A letter to the competitors from Jim Manion (chairman of the Professional Judges Committee) stated that women would be judged on healthy appearance, face, makeup, and skin tone. The criteria given in Manion’s letter included the statement “symmetry, presentation, separations, and muscularity BUT NOT TO THE EXTREME.

There are two other categories of competition that are closely related to bodybuilding, and are frequently held as part of the same event. Fitness competition has a swimsuit round, and a round that is judged on the performance of a routine including aerobics, dance, or gymnastics. Figure competition is a newer format, judged solely on symmetry and muscle tone, with much less emphasis on muscle size than in bodybuilding.

Bodybuilders use three main strategies to maximize muscle hypertrophy:

Strength training with free weights, weight machines, elastic/hydraulic resistance and body weight resistance (dips, pushups)

Specialized nutrition, incorporating extra protein and supplements where necessary

Adequate sleep and rest

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). Normally, this soreness becomes most apparent a day or two after a workout. Part of the SAID Principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands) the repair to the micro-trauma tears is part of the process that results in muscle growth (fat-free mass increase).  Studies show that muscle fiber size increases. To a far lesser extent there may be some increase in the number of muscle fibers. Muscles also adapt by storing more glycogen (carbohydrate energy) and water in the muscle tissue. Other adaptations include increase of connective tissue collagen and increased bone density.

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 height to support the protein and energy requirements needed to support their training and increase in 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 and whether the bodybuilder is in a ‘building’ phase or a ‘cutting’ phase. 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. In other words simple sugars immediately following a workout are less likely to be stored as fat and more likely to be stored as glycogen and available for a future workout.

Protein is probably one of the most important parts of the diet for the bodybuilder. Functional proteins such as motor proteins which include myosin, kinesin, and dynein 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. 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, and others recommending 1.5 grams, 2 grams, or more. It is believed that protein needs to be consumed frequently throughout the day, especially during/after a workout, and before sleep. There is also some debate concerning the best type of protein to take. Chicken, 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 usually require higher quality protein with a high BV rather than relying on protein such as soy, which is often avoided due to its estrogenic properties. 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 this hormone 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.

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 process used to be considered a mechanism for increasing basal metabolic rate when compared to less frequent meals with the same energy content, but short-term research on non-bodybuilding subjects suggests that this may not be the case.

For more information on Bodybuilding, see the following official sites:
International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness —

The Arnold Sports Festival —
National Physique Committee —
North American Natural Body Building Federation —
World Fitness Federation —
Woman’s Figure
World Bodybuilding Fitness Federation —

More related sites:
History of Mr. Olympia —
Hypertrophic-Specific Training —