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.