When people look at body builders, there is often a suggestion that the word “vanity” is never far from their minds. After all, it is pretty much impossible to be a body builder without it being fairly obvious. Even in a suit that covers up all the muscles, a long term body builder can often be hard to distinguish from a moving wall. But to assume that vanity is behind most people taking up body building would be unfair, and simply massively inaccurate. There are many practical reasons why you would consider taking it up.
Quite apart from any competitive considerations, there is the fact that for most of us, situations will occur that necessitate a bit (or a lot) of heavy lifting. As well built as some of us may be naturally, heavy lifting still takes it out of you. But if you have been working on the exact muscle groups that are required for the job, then you will be in a good position to get through such a task with a minimum of sweat. In fact, people will often pay you to do it for them. If you have been working those body muscles for years, that’s pretty close to money for nothing.
Being able to lift and move heavy items is something that comes up again and again, if you are moving house for example. The simple thought of doing such a thing is enough to bring many individuals out in a cold sweat. Those muscles may provoke envy in many, but they can also win you a bunch of respect.
The major benefits of body building should be obvious to just about anyone, with the fact that physical power is always highly coveted. Strong men have always been respected and held in awe, as far back at least as Samson in Biblical times. But often someone who takes up body building is not thinking about being held in awe. In fact many are thinking just the opposite, wanting people simply to stop thinking of them as a twelve-stone weakling. Showing that you can do what it takes to become physically strong and powerful takes work – but it is work that carries its own reward.
There are many practical situations in which the ability to lift something heavy, or simply to move something large, is of major importance. But shifting a mental block is at least as valuable. Many of us underestimate just how physically strong we are, and how much potential we have, and as far as proving it goes there is no better way than training to a point where we are capable of physical achievements that would be beyond many.
Most of us would love to be capable of things that we watch happening on television week in and week out. Many of the most popular sports feature individuals who have trained to the point where they are capable of pushing another (pretty large) human being backwards at a high speed. Gridiron and rugby – two of the major sports in their countries of origin, would be impossible without the muscle bound guys who don’t always get the credit – but are invariably favorites with the fans.
An exercise regime will only bear the kind of results you are looking for if you accompany it with the right diet. This is known as a “holistic” approach, where you view every part of your routine in a critical fashion and look to see what you can do to make it the best it can be in every way. If you are studying for an exam, on which questions will be asked on a range of topics, it is all well and good studying heavily on one of those topics to the point where you could answer every question that could be thrown at you on that topic – but if you ignore all the others in doing so, you’ll end up failing.
So it is with body building. You can be the most committed trainer that there ever has been, and you will effect positive results in some respects. But if you are just eating fries and burgers all of the time, you will not be giving your body some of its most vital nutrients. You will get tired more quickly, train less effectively, and sustain injuries. For this reason it is worth taking a realistic view on diet – cut out the ice cream sundaes for a time, drop the greasy burgers and lay off the beer, too. Alcohol does horrible things to muscle recovery.
Of course, you can work scheduled breaks into your regime – in fact it is probably advisable at the beginning – during which you can treat yourself. Just remember the end goal when you have to get back to training.
If you ever watch strongman competitions on the television, you will often see the contestants in a typical clichéd pose next to a kitchen table with their typical daily diet spread over it. Frequently this will include several chickens, enough pasta to feed a family for a week, lots of energy drinks and plenty of veg. Often it will also include some burgers and similar fast food. This is often taken as a sign that these guys can eat as much as they want, and an invitation to the potential bodybuilder to just keep pigging out. The good news is that these guys do generally eat the stuff they say they do. But wait for the bad news.
The fact is that these guys are generally pulling trucks over distances that the average human being would find it hard to carry a couple of liters of milk. To get to the level where you are doing that, you need to be in such prime physical condition that to maintain it requires a routine of physical training that would make the Navy Seals shudder. And to keep up that level of training requires a whole lot of energy.
For the beginning body builder, the opportunity for burgers, fries and sugar-filled drinks will be limited. Meat must be grilled, and come with the fat cut off, at least to begin with. Essentially, when looking at the kitchen table next to that strongman, you can subtract all of the “fun food” and bear in mind that until you have taken your training up a level, you will need to favor the less “exciting” stuff.
If you are looking to begin body building, it is important to take into account the role that diet plays in the whole process. Your body is a more complicated machine than any car, without question. Now, would you put fuel that was made cheaply and carelessly into your car at any time? It’s likely that you would not. Would you put that same cheap, poorly made fuel into your car if you were about to take it on a long, demanding tour which would involve punishing driving? Of course not.
Your body requires the same consideration when it comes to refuelling. body building is demanding by its very nature. You are not going to get the toned, sculpted shape that you are after without putting in a lot of work in the gym. Eating badly is not going to make that process any easier, and it will certainly make it less effective. Food is turned into energy by your body, and just as with fuel for a car, different foods will have different energy levels allowing you to go for longer and in more punishing conditions.
So if you are out of shape because you are eating poorly and not exercising enough, just deciding to take up body building without first looking at your diet will be of limited effectiveness. It is as important to change your diet as it is to get down to the gym – perhaps even more so. Getting a good diet and exercise plan locked down will be the absolute minimum effort you require before trying to get that shape you are after.