T Nation

Defense of ProBodybuilding

I would not call myself a bodybuilder, and I train mostly for strength, but I want to post something defending the one virtue I see in probodbuilding. I also hope to start some discussion and maybe some other, competitive bodybuilders will give a defense, or critisize my opinions.

Professional bodybuilding is doubtless excessive. That is, the physiques produced go far beyond the norm or, in all likelyhood, what is healthy or even attractive or functional for a human. It is precisely this excessiveness and the commitment it implies, which I find helpfull to myself, even if I would not want to immitate in its entirety. I got to know and work out with several semi-pro bodyubuilders this summer, all of whom had used or were using steroids. And while these guys were not as freaky as the olympia guys, there is no doubt in my mind that they too were excessive, although perhaps less so and perhaps they were not as dedicated. Training with these guys and noticing the lengths they went to, to ensure they had protein with them at all times, inspired me to workout harder and maintain better nutrition than ever before, leading to my gaining between 20 and 30 pounds of muscle this summer and improving all of my lifts dramatically. To be sure, training with serious powerlifters might have had even better effects, and if I ever get serious about powerlifting, I might seek them out. I must say, however, that when I was working out with bodybuilders doing high and low reps, pushing beyond failure, doing “too many” exercises, I made great gains, and I found the confidence and pain tolerance of these men contagious. How could I fail to do reps with 405 in the deadlift, when I just saw this other guy do 625 for reps. At times I actually forgot that I was attempting a p.r., because the weight I was using was so much lighter than that which I was just spotting a guy using. When other guys threw 50 pounds on the bar after a tough set like it is nothing, I found it hard to worry about throwing a measley 5 or 10 on each side.

While the freaks of bodybuilding may make bad men (as in unhealthy caracatures) when viewed in a certain light, in another light, in comparision with the cowardice and mediocrity which prevails today, the bodybuilder seems to be a signpost pointing in the direction of general human excellence.

your post would be alot easier to read if you used more paragraphs…

DPH is right. The post needed paragraphs.

As to your point: I would choose mediocrity in a flash over the sick lifestyle that has become Bodybuilding. If Bodybuilding were a horse I would shoot it, and put it out of it’s misery. This would in turn save other young players from being caught up in this twisted display.

The current participants in this sick activity disgrace the memories of Reeves, Grimek, Stanko, Scott, Pearl and the many other fine Bodybuilders who graced the stage in the 1950’s and 60’s. These men were the epitomy of strength, athleticism and power.

Spend your time defending things that are worthwhile. Modern Bodybuilding surely is not worth your time and energy.

Grouping all bodybuilders who are above average in size into the same category as professional bodybuilders is a mistake and sounds like the concerns of those who are pissed because they don’t seem to have the same genetics. My goal, personally, is not to weigh 300lbs. Regardless, I must hear on a regular basis that I am pretty big. PROFESSIONAL bodybuilding has become an extreme freak show which only damages the image of those of us with more “human” goals. I have no desire at all to be mediocre in any aspect of my life…especially physically. I like my arms near 20" and I like being stronger than average. Anyone who has something negative to say about that can collectively kiss my hack squattin’ ass.

We knew where bodybuilding was headed the moment a “boxy” Dorian Yates won an Olympia. It has been down hill from that point on. That still doesn’t mean that every guy in the gym who is bigger than the average “toner” needs to be pistol whipped with insults and stereotypes. I am tired of the gym being filled with half assed lifters who think that a heavy workout is going all of the way up to 1 45lbs plate on each side of an olympic bar. The tons of skinny kids jumping on the treadmill so they can see their abs is just as sickening as those who work out for years, but due to their fear of actually gaining any size at all, look EXACTLY the same or worse 5 years later.

Mediocrity will never be my goal and for anyone to justify being average simply because of a few extremists in bodybuilding is to sell out. I knew this was coming the moment that more and more posts centered around, “I am 160lbs at 6 feet tall and I am on a diet because I am going on a cruise next week”. Bodybuilding has apparently become a battle between those who act as if simply walking into a gym earns the title of “weightlifter” (despite being forever average looking in clothes) and those who take it to such an extreme that they become an aberration of human proportion. Are you all unable to see the color grey?

Sorry about the long paragraph, I wrote that thing when exhausted. I trust that it is intelligable if one is willing to read through the whole of it and interpret it generously.

Professor X,

If I understand your post correctly, it would seem that you think up until Dorian, bodybuilding was heading in a reasonably good direction. I would be very interested in hearing how pros like Lee Haney and the direction their physiques point is fundamentally different from those of today’s pros.

I ask this for two reasons. First, it seems to me, from the posts made after Shug’s last article, that many people at t-mag think bodybuilding took a wrong turn before Arnold (long before Dorian). I do not simply agree with this opinion, but I am not well able to articulate the ways in which Arnold or Haney are simply improved forms of bodies like Scott and Pearl possessed.

Secondly, while it does seem to me that there is an important difference between a physique like Ronnie’d and that of Lee Haney, it is hard for me to explain why Ronnie’s would be considered worse. That is, Ronnie is stronger, bigger, and has a lower bodyfat percentage, as far as I can tell. One can of course point out that we all know Ronnie is taking more steroids and is less healthy, but within the principles by which Haney was judged, which seem to be primarily size and leaness, how does Ronnie fall short.

You mentioned Dorian’s “boxy” look, and thus I expect your answer will be connected to ideal body proportions. If this is the case, it would help me if you could indicate these proportions more clearly. For, if the standard by which bodybuilders are to be judged is clarified, it would be a lot easier to try to set pro-bodybuilding back on the right track, or at least be able to criticise today’s pros and be confident in our affirmation of yesterday’s.

[quote]floobadoo wrote:

If I understand your post correctly, it would seem that you think up until Dorian, bodybuilding was heading in a reasonably good direction. I would be very interested in hearing how pros like Lee Haney and the direction their physiques point is fundamentally different from those of today’s pros.

Secondly, while it does seem to me that there is an important difference between a physique like Ronnie’d and that of Lee Haney, it is hard for me to explain why Ronnie’s would be considered worse. That is, Ronnie is stronger, bigger, and has a lower bodyfat percentage, as far as I can tell.

You mentioned Dorian’s “boxy” look, and thus I expect your answer will be connected to ideal body proportions. [/quote]

No offense, but your posts are hard to follow. It is the wording that you use and the way you structure your thoughts. As far as bodybuilding heading in the “right” direction up until Haney, I don’t take the position that I know what a “right” direction would be for every bodybuilder on stage. I know that the “freak” look seems to be the least esthetically pleasing and seems to tear the sport of bodybuilding down much more than it could ever build it up. Lee Haney may have been a “freak” for his time, but I do believe most would consider him much more esthetic than many on the Olympia stage today.

Bodybuilding used to inspire me to train harder. I used to look up to bodybuilders in the 90’s who usually competed as light-heavies and some heavy weights. They maintained good proportion along with a great deal of size. Today’s bodybuilders in the mags do not inspire in the same way. If I were a kid picking up a FLEX mag for the first time, I would immediately assume that there was no way to get big without looking retarded and without a hell of a lot of anabolics. The current look left “health and beauty” behind long ago as they rushed towards synthol and overbulked bodyparts.

What my original post was referring to was that bodybuilders don’t necessarily all want to look like Markus Rhul. It seems that many of you assume that you can only choose between looking like the guy on the cover of the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue or looking like a 300lb mega-freak in speedos. I think at least some credit needs to go to those who don’t take it to that extreme but still carry a good deal of size. Many who compete in NPC contests have more ideal proportions, much closer to what was around in the late 80’s and early 90’s…they just get no publicity. I think we need to return to that and quit acting as if any size at all is an abomination.

Regarding current bodybuilders, take a look at a guy like Mark Dugdale… I think that’s the name… he just won the light heavyweight class and overall at one of the big national shows (don’t know the exact show name). That guy looks GOOD. Not ridiculously big but obviously built damn well. Conjures up images of a Zane, Scott, Labrada, etc.

Regarding pros, most are ridiculous. But, what about Ahmad Haidar, Dareem Charles, a few others. Granted, these guys are also pushing it as far as freakdom… but they’re no where near the Ronnie Coleman / Jay Cutler class. Dexter Jackson (hope I’m getting these names right) is not freakazoid big and is one of the best pros.

I’m the last person to defend pro-bodybuilding but they’re not ALL horrible looking. Let’s make sure we take a balanced view. I have no argument with the ridiculous amounts of drugs these men and women are taking… but that’s another rant!

On another note, I am impressed by the freakish nature of pro bodybuilders. I actually like to look at and admire the grossness they posess. I enjoy witnessing a bicep that is split right down the middle and shows two heads. To me that is damn impressive, and if these people are willing to put in the dedication to look this way and are screwed up mentally enough to want to look this way then more power to them. I think it’s awesome. One of my favorites… Markus Ruhl. Why? Because he has no symmetry at all but maintains a pro card on the sole grounds he is hyooooooge. This man gained 100 lbs. of lean muscle in 4 years!!! That is damn impressive. My brain has diarhea, the point is some of us out there appreciate the hard work that goes into being a freak, and actually look in awe at thier freakishness.