From Academic Kids

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Swedish bodybuilder Anders Graneheim
Bodybuilding is the sport of developing muscle fibers through the combination of weight training, increased caloric intake, and rest. Competitive bodybuilders display their physiques to a panel of judges, who assign points.

The sport is not to be confused with strongman competition or powerlifting, where emphasis is on actual physical strength, or with Olympic weightlifting, where emphasis is equally split between strength and technique. Though superficially similar to the casual observer, the fields entail a different regimen of training, diet, and basic motivation. Bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain an aesthetically pleasing (by bodybuilding standards) body and balanced physique. A bodybuilder's size and shape are far more important than how much he or she can lift.

The main organization that promotes, funds, and judges body building competition is the International Federation of BodyBuilders.

The use of anabolic steroids in this sport continues to be a source of controversy.

In the 1980s women began to take part in bodybuilding competitions. There are three major difficulties that female bodybuilders have to deal with. Firstly, the standards for judging for women bodybuilders change almost every year, and the ideal of what a female bodybuilder "should" seek to look like is constantly being re-defined. Similarly, female bodybuilders are often criticized, mocked, or otherwise viewed negatively for not conforming to traditional ideas of a feminine beauty and gender roles. Lastly, because of the general unpopularity of female bodybuilding, the money needed to fund the sport is very limited for women. Some female body builders get financial support through being involved with female muscle erotica activities and porn, but many female body builders do not want to be involved with erotica and thus end up only pursuing bodybuilding for a few years.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is arguably the most famous body builder in the world. Bodybuilding launched his successful career as a Hollywood Actor and he then became a governor of California. Franco Columbu and Lou Ferrigno are also well known.



In order to achieve muscle growth (hypertrophy), bodybuilders focus in three main lines of action:

Resistance weight training

German Bodybuilder  posing in
German Bodybuilder Markus Rhl posing in Biberach an der Ri

Resistance weight training causes microtears to the muscles being trained; this is generally known as microtrauma. These microtears in the muscle contribute to the soreness felt after exercise, called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. It is the repair to these microtrauma that result in muscle growth (anabolism). Normally, this soreness becomes most apparent a day or two after a workout.


The growth and repair, however, cannot occur without the necessary building blocks. These are supplied by high quality nutrition. Bodybuilders require a very specialised diet. Generally speaking, bodybuilders require anything between 500-1000 calories (2000 to 4000 kilojoules) above their maintenance level of food energy while attempting to increase lean body 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.

Bodybuilders 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 allows greater absorption of nutrients and increases basal metabolic rate. This process is also valuable for those wishing merely to lose fat.


Having a large proportion of the diet come from carbohydrates gives the body enough energy to deal with the rigours of training and recovery. Bodybuilders require complex carbohydrates, which release energy more slowly than simple sugars. This is important as simple sugars cause an 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 going towards muscle growth. However bodybuilders do ingest some simple sugars post-workout to replenish glycogen stores within the muscle.


It is recommended that bodybuilders receive 1 to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight (2 to 5 g/kg) to help the body recover and build. These protein sources should be of a high biological value such as steak, chicken, fish, soy, milk or whey, and egg whites. Chicken, whey, and egg whites are often preferred due to their relatively low fat content. Many bodybuilders prefer to get their daily protein requirement from foods first and then from supplementary protein powders.

Vitamins & minerals

Bodybuilders almost universally take a multi-vitamin each day. Essential fatty acids (including omega-3s), which the body can not synthesize, are also consumed. As with all supplements, it is preferable to get the vitamin and mineral requirement from whole foods, though this is not always convenient.


Supplements can help muscle gain, although some are unproven and many are ineffective. Two supplements which have been proven to help bodybuilders gain and maintain size (without unhealthy side effects) are Creatine and L-Glutamine. Like all supplements, these only help if used in conjunction with a solid nutritional base and weight training program.

Some bodybuilders may use drugs to gain an advantage over results due to natural hypertrophy, especially in professional competitions. Although many of these substances are illegal in many countries, in professional bodybuilding the use of anabolic steroids and precursor substances such as prohormones are sometimes essential to competing in world-class competitions. Most steroids allows the human body to be in a more anabolic state. Significant negative side-effects accompany steroid abuse, such as liver damage and negative feedback leading to a decline in the body's own testosterone production, which can cause testicular atrophy and possible infertility.

Human Growth Hormone (hGH) and insulin are also used by some of the larger bodybuilders. HGH is incredibly expensive compared to steroids, though, while insulin is very readily available yet fatal if misused.


The third component to extraordinary muscle building is rest. Without quality rest and sleep the body does not have an opportunity to recover and build. About eight hours of sleep a night is essential for the bodybuilder to be refreshed and ready for the next session. Additionally, many athletes find a daytime nap further increases their body's ability to direct resources toward repairing and building muscle fiber.

Professional bodybuilders

Male bodybuilders

Female bodybuilders

Womens Physique World (

See also

de:Bodybuilding es:Fisicoculturismo fr:Culturisme ms:Bina badan nl:Bodybuilding ja:ボディビル pl:Kulturystyka sv:Bodybuilding zh:健美

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