What Is True Bodybuilding?
Do You Know?
Just what did the progenitors of our lifestyle mean by "bodybuilding" and "excellence"? Your success as a bodybuilder depends on your willingness to understand and believe the true concepts of the bodybuilding way of life! Since the 1940's thousands of red-blooded eager young men have flocked to gyms around the world in the quest to "get huge", "get in shape" "become men" or "build 21 inch arms."
Many years ago, foreseeing what was to become of the "bodybuilding" movement under the advertising guidance of the "Trainer of Champions", the late Bob Hoffman, publisher of Health and Strength Magazine, warned the bodybuilders of his day "The pursuit of muscle alone is somewhat shallow!"
Good Old Bodybuilding:
Sadly, millions of people around the world have put up with what is false bodybuilding! They have been misled- very easily misled. Why? Very simply, the media giants and the supplement companies have created a false version of bodybuilding. Accurate muscle-building old-school methods of real bodybuilding have been ridiculed, and have been substituted with an approach that emphasizes pseudo-pharmacology, touting the latest "cutting edge" powder or pill. Have you ever heard anything like this?
Introducing the most amazing supplement of all time that could render all others obsolete! CompanyX has spent years and millions of dollars researching the state-of-the-art delivery compounds that make this formula the only patented supplement of its kind in the world. It is truly revolutionary!
SupplimentX has been tested by thousands of bodybuilders in a controlled laboratory setting and will render all protein obsolete! This supplement is so revolutionary that bodybuilders all over the country are making the best gains of their lives; the stuff is flying off the shelf! One subject added 25lbs of lean mass to his already sinewy frame in a mere 2 months! Why cheat yourself of the gains you deserve by using inferior supplements? Can you even recall how much you have gained by using regular whey protein?
The old school methods are now obsolete. CompanyX has a research budget of over a million dollars - now you can be light years ahead of the competition by using our product. Thank heavens CompanyX analyzed the mistakes of the past and developed ProductX. If you want to add shredded mass and get 27-inch guns like ProfessionalX, get ProductX today!
But is this real bodybuilding? If you have grown up ignorant to the history of the science of bodybuilding and have heard nothing but the voice of the publishing kings and supplement companies, you probably think so! The image projected in the media of the typical bodybuilder is one of a steroid using beefcake who is "all neck" and is a user of the latest powder or pills. It is reasoned that everyone who bodybuilds and who is big must be on "juice." With propaganda like the above, it's little wonder.
Sadly, to anyone who follows modern bodybuilding, the products, magazines and company of which I speak are obvious. This companies advertising portrays bodybuilding in the worst possible light, and to any reasonable person [as opposed to fantasy driven] it is quite clear that their protein powder, bar or sugar loaded creatine supplement will not instantly turn someone into a mass monster over night as the advertisement would suggest. By taking it someone will not turn into "Arnold overnight."
|The focus of bodybuilding has shifted away from an emphasis on health toward an emphasis on appearance at all costs. The media has promoted the consumption of pills and powders over whole foods. At the same time pseudo-science and propaganda have replaced genuine research and study. In today's information saturated age it becomes difficult to detect fraudulent information from the genuine. When discussing religion and politics, the writer Mark Twain (1959) wrote||
In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.
It is very obvious that the redness of an apple need not be proven; this truth is self-evident. In the same sense, the truth that what purports to be bodybuilding has become nothing more than a politicized, economicized "religion" is also self-evident. The myriad of propaganda disseminated into the public forum by the various companies and magazines in an attempt to manipulate consumer spending and behavior, regardless of the benefits or detriments to bodybuilders, demonstrates the validity of this supposition.
At the conclusion of this article it will be evident that the majority of bodybuilders have simply taken advice and information from sources who are non-examiners. As we shall see, much of the "information" about bodybuilding is not worth a brass farthing.
German dictator Adolf Hitler once remarked "The great masses of the people... will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one." Sadly, for once in his life, the most evil, twisted and demented man in the history of the world made a correct observation regarding human behavior. Corporal Hitler was right: people will believe anything if enough people say it. Better illustrated, Mark Twain said "It is my belief that nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive."
But so what? Who cares? What does it matter to a bodybuilder if he or she does not believe in the true tenets of bodybuilding? What does it matter if they have bought into a deception? What does it matter if they have missed the point of what they do is supposed to mean? What if they like how the powders and pills make their body appear? If they have the money to burn on an $50 dollar can of protein, a $40 jar of fat burners and a $60 can of creatine, what difference does it make? AS A SEASONED BODYBUILDER I SAY WITH THE AUTHORITY OF EXPERIENCE, IT MAKES A GREAT DEAL OF DIFFERENCE!
What's going on? Why are so many bodybuilders frustrated with poor gains and empty pockets? Could it be that for years people have been missing the point? Could it be that people don't really believe or understand the nature of true bodybuilding? In order to answer these questions, we must examine the current movement of professed bodybuilding, the nature of man, and the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The Current Movement:
As Mark Twain observed, in religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are taken at second hand from non-examiners. Regarding tacit assumption and non-examination, bodybuilding is not immune.
|Many of the self-professed experts or "trainer of champs" have little knowledge or experience when it comes to bodybuilding. Most of the so-called experts advocate workouts that involve hundreds of sets and last for hours on end. This is not the correct way to bodybuild or exercise, and directly runs contrary to the way in which the human endocrine system functions.|
Modern bodybuilding is supposedly a way of life based on physical excellence. Seeing peoples archetypal fascinations with strength and might, publishers have economically capitalized by creating, or entering into alliances with, supplement companies, and have used their magazines to advertise the companies and their products.
For many, the "trainer of champs" and his minions are god-like, and their publications are holy scripts, containing the information of, and writings by, the enlightened. Nothing is questioned and all is obeyed. If it is proclaimed from Mount Olympus by the champs that five sets are best, anyone is dumb who does four because their body is telling them to. If it is proclaimed that "such-and-such" supplement is to be taken for super gains, the propaganda infers that anyone who does not take such supplements is "cheating" themselves of the gains that they "deserve." Supplements have become to bodybuilding what bread and wine are to Christianity: communion with the Divine.
The medical profession has not been absent from the building of and spreading of misknowledge regarding bodybuilding. Just because a person [bodybuilderX or publishing kingX] or an association of persons claims to have the monopoly on knowledge does not mean they know or understand what they are talking about. As Mike Mentzer (2001) said "Don't make the same mistake I did?of thinking that a Ph.D. implies perfect knowledge in the real world." Consider the following quotations from reputable and established "authorities":
The use of these anabolic agents [anabolic steroids] does not cause an increase in muscle bulk, strength or athletic performance - even when phenomenally large doses are used. The commonly observed increase in bodyweight [seen secondary to steroid use] is due to the retention of salt and water. (Gilman & Goodman, 1985).
Anabolic Steroids have not been shown to enhance athletic ability. (Physicians Desk Reference [PDR], 1985).
This drug [a steroid] has not been shown to be?effective for the enhancement of athletic performance. (PDR, 1985).
The truth about steroids and athletic performance should be evident: anabolic steroids do cause an increase in athletic ability and performance. Further, a Ph.D. is not required to be able to observe the differences between a natural athlete and one that is chemically assisted.
As a testament to the ignorance of the so-called experts of medicine and bodybuilding, even though the experts did not or do not believe in the efficacy of steroids, many athletes have resorted to using them on the basis that they do work to enhance performance, power and muscle gain. Canadian Olympic runner Ben Johnson went from being 50th or 60th in the world to being 1st and setting world records, all with a little "help" from a "sports drink."
|According to Allen (2000) seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger is alleged to have taken 45mg per day of dianabol. Lee Priest (2002) admits to taking "two cc's of Deca and two cc's of primabolin?" Further, Dorian Yates (2002) admits to taking steroids during his career, and also remarks "You can be pretty sure that applies to most of the big-name bodybuilders over the past 30 or 40 years."|
Today many academicians lack even a nominal grasp of the rudiments of rationality. Confusion is the intellectual hallmark of our time. Bodybuilders are powerless against the ceaseless tide of false ideas, fraudulent claims and outright lies made by many in the bodybuilding / fitness media. As a result, many bodybuilders are wasting hundreds of hours a year, year in and year out, in the attempt to build a physique they could have built in one year!
Confusion! Outright lies! Is this what the movement of bodybuilding has become? Yes! But, sadly, that is not all bodybuilding has become. For many, the emphasis on bigger [not better] muscles has become the means by which they obtain their final achievement: death.
Since most people enjoy tabloid style dirt, here is a very short and very incomplete list of people whose death was caused by or contributed to by steroid use (Fitness, 2001).
- Momo Benaziza
- Andreas Munzer
- Mike Mentzer
- Ray Mentzer
- Don Ross
- Jeep Swenson
- Lyle Alzado
Anyone familiar with Mr. Mentzer will know that he was not, at times, popular. He was labeled a rouge scholar and was sometimes viewed as a troublemaker. He also talked at length about his steroid use. However, he was also given the title "the thinking man's bodybuilder" because of his immense interest in the philosophy of objectivism and his logical, rational, thinking approach to bodybuilding and life.
But the question begs: should not all bodybuilders, or all people for that matter, be thinking? Should not the development and application of intellect be a given for those in the iron sport? Is the application of thought and logical rationality such a rarity - such a phenomenal event - in bodybuilding, that its application necessitates the creation of a title for the only person in recent memory who actually did just that?
The mere existence of a title, created for a man who was singled out for his ability to reason and speculate intelligently, reveals the existence of an intellectual gap and vacuum in the rest of the bodybuilding world. Apparently, thinking among bodybuilders is such a rare phenomenon that the one man who used his mind for bodybuilding pursuits was given special recognition.
Sadly, Mike Mentzer's ideas were ridiculed and persecuted by the establishment. Why is this so? In what way did the current bodybuilding establishment benefit from persecuting a man who "rocked the boat" by challenging the norms and proclamations handed down from mount Olympus? What was the establishment hiding from, or trying to protect, by persecuting and ridiculing Mike Mentzer and his [as opposed to the concepts of Jones] scientifically proven, valid ideas? I will leave the reader to his/her own theories and conclusions.
In contrast to Bob Hoffman, Joe Weider, the self-proclaimed "trainer of champions since 1936", the publisher of many magazines and the organizer of the annual Mr. Olympia, once stated "I see the appeal of muscle. Its appearance and consequential sex appeal inspire men to workout." Current trends in magazine and television advertising testify to the overt and sexually obvious nature of our post-modern North American society.
In addition to recognizing the sexuality of muscle, Weider saw the marketability and potential profitability of the concept of muscles and the products by which people could achieve them. His "discovery" however was not his own.
Angelo Ciciliano - Charles Atlas - created a muscle course titled "Dynamic Tension." In his material Atlas too recognized the sexuality of muscle and he capitalized on his discovery when he stated that men and boys would get "a body women will desire and men will envy." (Montana, 2001). Naturally the Atlas course was immensely popular, and still sells today - albeit in updated and modern form.
Aside from making muscle mainstream, Weider believed in the potential of bodybuilding as a profession. For this, he is a true visionary and the world owes him a debt. However, when combining Weiders desire to make money, his mechanized advertising machine, the creation of the supplement industry, and the creation of bodybuilding as a profession, Weider made bodybuilding something it is not nor should be - commercial. The focus shifted from competition with the self, to competition with others.
Sadly the modern movement of bodybuilding, despite Weiders best intentions, has become commercialized, economicized, politicized, superficialized, and has developed a criminal element by its adherents being large players in organized crime, prostitution [bodybuilders who get paid squat often prostitute themselves for steroids] and the international distribution, smuggling and use of illegal narcotics. As mentioned, these narcotics [cocaine, steroids, nubian, etc] have resulted in many athletes dying from their use.
Sadly, as Romano (2002) remarked, part of the reason why bodybuilding lost IOC recognition after decades of hard work is because of the images in the IFBB's official magazine [Flex Magazine] of hardcore steroid using bodybuilders, rather than the promotion of the natural bodybuilder [which, according to IOC rules would be the only athlete allowed to represent their respective sport in the Olympics].
To hammer the point home, Gilbert Felli (2001), sports director for the International Olympic Committee stated in interview "There was a general feeling that we [the IOC] should not have recognized bodybuilding in the first place. A lot of people believe it does not have the right image and that we should not be linked too closely with it." And what, exactly, is that image? It is the image of the steroid using bodybuilder in current bodybuilding publications.
So what is a true bodybuilder? What is true bodybuilding? From the brief examination of the current movement provided, and its struggle with drugs, pseudo-science, propaganda, intellectual chaos, commercialization, and general confusion, we have seen what bodybuilding is not. Therefore, to better understand how off-purpose modern bodybuilding culture has become, we must first examine bodybuilding's origins.
Greece And The Ancienc Greeks
When we turn our eyes to the annuls of history, and ponder the present, it is clear that very little about the human race has changed over the millennia. Human beings are still fighting wars, making alliances and trading goods. This does not mean, however, that the past has nothing to teach us.Bodybuilding is ancient. In fact, feats of strength [ancient powerlifting, if I may be allowed such an interpretation] are seen in Egyptian times over 5000 years ago.
|While the Egyptians did not posses dumbbells, gator grip plates and plate loaded leg presses, they did engage in feats of strength. Feats of strength would provide not only entertainment, but would serve as indicators of those individuals who were capable of extensive heavy labor. Given the vast construction projects undertaken by the empire in the Old Kingdom [Great Pyramids of Giza constructed under the auspice of Khufu, (gr. Cheops), for example] a strong and enduring labor force was a necessity. In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia we see the first sculptures representing the human form.||
Statue Of Khufu
From the years 1100-800 Greece was basically illiterate (Nobel, et al., 2002). War was very common in the ancient world and amongst the Greek city states this was the rule rather than the exception. Ancient Greece was not very plentiful so far as resources were concerned and wars often resulted from recourse competition.
Ancient Sparta was very warlike and was constantly at war with her neighbors. Young boys began military training at the age of seven under the severest of conditions, and served as professional soldiers until death or retirement. In Sparta physical prowess was everything. Little emphasis was placed on intellectual achievements. Cultural expressions like Art and literature were virtually non-existent. From its founding to its demise, Sparta existed, fed upon, and died from, war. It was the embodiment of secularism and total physical existence.
Athens of the Classical Greek Era (508-322 B.C.E.), by contrast, placed more emphasis on intellectual achievements. Its involvement in the Persian (499-479 B.C.E) and Peloponnesian wars (431-404 B.C.E.) necessitated a physically fit military, but cultural development also flourished in Athens. This resulted in many intellectual achievements.
Many of the world's most influential thinkers and intellectuals emerged from classical Greece. We see the emergence of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Heroditus, Sophocles and Aristophanes, among others. With the philosophers in general and Aristotle in particular, we see the beginnings of science and the scientific method.
With the production of art in Athens we see the emergence of statues. These statues often depicted the human form as being physically fit and lean, with defined, chiseled, features.
We see great emphasis put on the development of the human intellect or spirit [mans intellectual capacity and cognitive faculty]. The application of logic and higher thought to every day situations may also be seen. The early Greek philosophers realized that one must have a "healthy mind in a healthy body." To this end the ancient Greeks started the Olympic games which placed emphasis on physical and mental excellence.
Thus, from two contrasting pictures in antiquity, we can see one image: A healthy person in mind and body. What Sparta began in crudity, Athens refined in intellect. The message is clear: Body-building is not called muscle-building for a reason: It involves the whole body, of which muscles are only a part.
Conclusion / Solution:
As we have seen from Gilbert Felli of the IOC, bodybuilding does "not have the right image" and the Olympic brand name does not want to be "linked too closely with it." Why is this so?
The Olympics, as mentioned, were created by the Classical Greeks. As we have also seen, the Greeks placed emphasis on physical excellence as well as intellectual excellence. Sadly, bodybuilding today has done neither. Today, unthinking athletes are taking copious amounts of steroids, and this has resulted in conditions like gynocomastia, colitis, and brain cancer, to name a few.
Further, many bodybuilders are so underpaid that they have resorted to prostitution in Latin America to obtain steroids. To this end they expose themselves to potentially fatal diseases like as AIDS, and Hepatitis. The psychological affects of steroids are well known, and a steroid induced psychological state is hardly one that facilitates the optimum development and refinement of the intellect.
To make sense of all that is wrong in our way of life we must reflect on the simple, yet profoundly correct, words of Bob Hoffman that were quoted earlier "The pursuit of muscle alone is somewhat shallow!." Yes, the pursuit of muscle without the pursuit of mind is shallow [small minded]. Like the body, without sufficient "exercise" the mind shrivels and dies; it becomes a shell of its former self, living in a self-induced state of avoiding and evading the facts and requirements of reality.
Now that you understand bodybuilding for what it REALLY is, you don't have to make the errors of many in our way of life. The drugs, the mindless quest to get huge while sacrificing your health and peace of mind, and the sacrifice of social relationships - none of these things have to be your priority.
After his recovery from mental collapse, the late Mike Mentzer reflected on his career in bodybuilding and remarked "It's all behind me now. There was a time when I never thought I could say such a thing?I was obsessed by being a bodybuilder?even though during those times, I never completely neglected my mind. If I could go back, I'd reverse the priority: The development of my body would be secondary to developing my intellect." (Mentzer, 1995).
Knowing what TRUE bodybuilding is, you can now set the right priority: developing your mind first. For truly "Where the mind goes, the body will follow."
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