These facets of health are, if you like, built upon. Frankly, few things are more satisfying than a great workout and the feeling that comes from knowing that the training undertaken is immeasurably benefiting ones body and mind. The following five reasons should convince anyone that bodybuilding is the answer to improving health and wellbeing.
5 Reasons To Get Into Bodybuilding
Reason One: Fat Loss
Most bodybuilding programs include an aerobic component and fat is used as the primary fuel source during an aerobic session, provided the intensity is not too high. However, overdoing aerobics might prove counterproductive, and muscle loss may result. Although aerobic training burns fat, if done correctly, weight training increases muscle density and as a result, the metabolic, fat burning effect of muscle (ACSM, April 2001; Mason, 2001).
Many sports help with fat loss, but only bodybuilding tends to build the evenly distributed muscle, that intensifies the fat burning effect of aerobics (Votruba, 2000) and causes the body to metabolically resist fat even when training is not undertaken.
The older we get typically the harder it is to lose weight and muscle loss is the biggest culprit in this instance (ACSM, April 2001; Evans & Rosenberg,1991).
Obesity and an overweight condition can lead to a range of health problems including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Socially speaking, excess weight can prevent one from winning a particular job and engaging in sport or other physical activity.
Rightly or wrongly, a persons physical presence is often the first thing to be judged and assumptions about a person are often made based on the way they look. Often, less attractive people are looked upon as being intellectually inferior, unreliable, incompetent and aggressive (Aronson, 1984). Fat loss is a great way to improve ones appearance and excel in life.
Reason Two: Muscle Gain
It would be reasonable to assume that most people get started in bodybuilding because they want to increase their muscle size for appearance reasons. To look good on the beach, attract the opposite sex or enter a bodybuilding
competition are three common reasons. Increasing muscle size and gaining a more symmetrical shape will undoubtedly improve a persons appearance.
Indeed, a muscular body might convey the accurate impression that one is strong, motivated and disciplined. What some people may not realise is that increasing muscle size will assist a number of other, health promoting, functions. For example, insulin receptor sensitivity will improve with weight training (Dinsmoor, 2000).
As the muscle becomes larger, the number of insulin receptors will increase and their sensitivity will improve (Dinsmoor, 2000). Conversely, is one is overweight, insulin receptors will have to work twice as hard. Insulin is crucial for carbohydrate storage and the lowering of blood sugar. If carbohydrate is not stored adequately, hyper insulinemia might occur, and diabetes may result over time. Bodybuildingâ€™s many healthy effects will be discussed in the next section.
Reason Three: Healthy Mind
Weight training has been shown to improve ones self conception (
AST Sports Science, 2004). A visit to the gym is a very empowering experience, provided one has a good body and is reasonably strong. I could be argued that the gym is a daunting place for many.
However, if one persists, strength and muscularity will result. Everybody has to start somewhere. Once results have been achieved a feeling of invincibility will more than likely prevail. Self belief and a desire to excel in other facets of life tend to arise from the self development that takes place in the gym and the concept of goal achievement is first learned in the gym for many. In essence, bodybuilding can improve confidence and enhance ones outlook on life.
In a less esoteric vein, weight training will improve the mind on a biological level. Chemicals called endorphins (Davis, 2001) are released during and following a weight session. The primary action of endorphins is to counter the pain associated with muscle degradation resulting from training.
In countering pain, endorphins also produce feelings of euphoria (Davis, 2001). This is why many consider training to be their drug of choice. Weight training also assists testosterone release and this can promote feelings of aggression and strength. Testosterone is the male sex hormone responsible for many functions including aggression, strength and assertiveness (Simpson, 2001).
Furthermore, weight, but primarily aerobic, training will provide oxygen and nutrition to the brain, which will, in turn, improve clarity of thought and enhance neural activity.
Reason Four: Healthy Body
A muscular body will aid joint mobility and function. The stronger the muscular support around each joint, the lower the likelihood of sustaining an
injury (Mason, 2001) and the greater ones performance in almost any athletic endeavour.
Weight training has also been shown to aid bone growth (ACSM, July 2001) as the resistance of the weight will cause a chemical reaction to take place in the bone, intensifying the process of calcification (Broomfield, Fricker & Fitch, 1992). This is great news for athletes and the elderly in particular.
Weight training will enhance nutrient uptake and waste removal. We know that carbohydrates will be stored more efficiently with a greater number of insulin receptors, but protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fats will also be utilized with equal efficiency as the muscles grow exponentially (Colgan, 1993).
As the muscles grow the bodyâ€™s ability to synthesize protein will increase. Protein is essential not only for muscle repair but almost ever other enzymatic and metabolic function in our body. The bodybuilding diet will ensure that sufficient protein is consumed which will assist these processes. The aerobic aspect of bodybuilding will ensure removal of carbon dioxide and other waste products (Bloomfeild, Fricker & Fitch, 1992).
Weight training will strengthen the cardiovascular system ensuring that blood is pumped to all of the working muscles (AHA, 2000; Davis, 2001). The American Heart Association reviewed 30 years of research and concluded that weight training does, in fact, improve cardiovascular health and is strongly recommended for disease control programs.
Further benefits of weight training in terms of cardiovascular health are lowered blood pressure (Davis, 2001) and increased blood hemoglobin levels (Colgan, 1993). These processes will ensure that the artery walls are kept in a healthy state and oxygen rich blood is pumped throughout the body.
The bodybuilding diet is typically very well balanced, with lots of fruit, vegetables, meat and complex carbohydrates. It is commonly known in the bodybuilding fraternity that the body grows fastest in a healthy state, so health providing foods are prioritized. This ensures a ready supply of antioxidants to combat training-induced free radical build up. Supplements also feature prominently in the bodybuilding diet, to further assist the immune systems response to irregularities (Colgan, 1993).
Weight training can benefit cancer patients. A 2003 study showed that weight training helped people with prostate cancer cope with the fatigue and functional decline that often result from the treatment of the disease (ACS, 2004). 155 men on hormone therapy for cancer took part in a study where 82 spend twelve weeks training with weights and the other 73 formed a control group who trained without assistance or specific weight oriented exercises.
At the end of the study the men in the training group reported less fatigue, better quality of life and greater strength. In light of these findings it has been suggested that weight training strategies be implemented for cancer treatment programs.
Reason Five: Athleticism
Developing a body which is both proportionally well built and optimally functional will assist athletic performance (Broomfield, Fricker & Fitch, 1992). Given that a bodybuilding regime includes, weight, aerobic and flexibility training (the stretching that is done prior to and following a weight training session), a foundation is built that will help one make a smooth transition into most sports and activities.
In fact, most athletes today use bodybuilding training methods to improve athletic performance. The strong muscles, joints and bones, developed through bodybuilding, are a prerequisite to most athletic endeavours.
As shown, bodybuilding, in addition to enhancing the body's appearance, can improve many aspects of health. A summery of the wonderful benefits bodybuilding can provide follows:
- Aerobic capacity
- Greater muscle strength
- Cardiovascular health
- Immune system integrity
- Bone strength
- Joint strength and flexibility
- Fat loss
- Self esteem
- Athletic performance
- Positive attitude
- Healthy lifestyle
- Feeling of wellbeing
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- American Heart Association. (2000). StrengthFit.com.(2001) [Online]
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- American College of Sports Medicine. "Resistance Training in the Older Adults." Current Comment, April 2001, [On line] http://www.acsm.org/comments.htm
- American College of Sports Medicine. "Strength Training for Bone, Muscle, and Hormones." Current Comment, July 2001, [Online]
- AST Sports Science.(2004). Weight Training Benefits. [Online]
- Broomfeild, J. Fricker, P.A. & Fitch, K.D.(1992). Textbook of Science and Medicine in Sport. Blackwell Scientific Publications: Australia.
- Colgan, M.(1993). Optimum Sports Nutrition. Advanced Research Press: USA.
- Dinsmoor, R.(2000). Insulin Resistance at the Root of Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Self Management. [Online]
- Davis, J.(2001). After Heart Attack Weights Lift Mood. Web MD. [Online]
- Evans, W. & Rosenberg, I.H.(1991). Biomarkers: the 10 keys to prolonging vitality. Simon and Schuster: USA.
- Mason, T.(2001). Weight Lifting and Weight Control. Discovery Health. [Online]
- Simpson, K. (2001). The Role of Testosterone in Aggression. McGill Journal of Medicine. 6, 32-40.
- Votruba, S.G. et al. (2000). "The Role of Exercise in the Treatment of Obesity." Nutrition, Vol. 16, pp. 179-188.
The S.A.I.S. Mass-Building Routine!