20 Misconceptions Of Bodybuilders
Just like any other form of sports which receives criticism and negative feedback, bodybuilding gets its fair share. Being into bodybuilding for more than 10 years now, I hope to clear the common misconceptions regarding how people perceive bodybuilders in this article. This article goes out to all my friends who work out to keep fit, hardcore gym-goers, cross-fitters, weight lifters, Olympic lifters, power lifters and finally my dear competitive bodybuilders.
1. What Is Bodybuilding And What Does A Bodybuilder Do?
According to Mr Wikipedia, bodybuilding is the use of progressive resistance exercise to control and develop one’s musculature. An individual who engages in this activity is referred to as a bodybuilder. In competitive amateur and professional bodybuilding, bodybuilders appear in line-ups performing specified poses, followed by individual posing routines, for a panel of judges. Ranking of competitors is based on criteria such as symmetry, muscularity and conditioning. Bodybuilders prepare for competition via a combination of dehydration, fat loss, oil intake and carb loading to achieve maximum vascularity, and tanning to enhance the look of their muscular definition under the bright lights.
2. What Is The Difference Between A Gym Rat, Meat Head, Gym Junkie And Bodybuilder?
This is a really tough and tricky question, as definitions of these terms are subjective. The ones here are general and not meant to offend anyone. A Gym Rat is a person who spends an unusually large amount of time at a gym. A Meathead is an enormously muscular and usually not-so-smart male. As for Gym Junkie, the word ‘junkie’ literally means addict. Hence, Gym Junkie = gym addict. I was labelled all of the above for many years, even till now. Am I bothered? Not at all. I always smile to myself whenever people call me names. Why? Because I know that they are merely unfamiliar with what I do. No one in the same boat as you will speak evil. Don’t be bothered by these names my dear readers. They are just names and sedentary people are not educated about this. Hence, it is pointless to be mad at them. We can instead educate them. Before all these terms were invented, people usually just label a person who goes to the gym as a bodybuilder, since it was the most common stereotype. So in this article, I will mostly be using the term ‘bodybuilder’.
3. What Is The Difference Between Physique Builder, Fitness Model, Bikini Model etc?
Physique, Fitness and Bodybuilding are just categories a person can enter into for a contest. Diet and training are the same. It doesn’t mean that for someone participating in a physique contest, training and diet is more slack. No! Physique competitors train as hard as a bodybuilder. It is the way they appear on stage and judging criteria that are different.
4. Bodybuilders Are Dumb, Stupid And Big for Nothing
I get this from so many people that I get tired of explaining myself. If we were dumb and stupid, why would you seek fitness advice us? Bodybuilding involves nutrition, which plays a big part in your success and intricate training protocols. All these science involves a lot of reading, research and experimentation over the years. If you are doing hypertrophy training e.g. chest and you don’t know the anatomy of the chest, it will be difficult for you to progress, almost impossible in fact. The amount of reading and real-life experiments we have to go through is crazy but certainly worth it because we study our body and know exactly how it reacts to anything. Therefore, we understand how the body works more than most, besides doctors.
5. Bodybuilders Have A Small Penis And Testicles
This is an all-time classic, don’t you think? I can’t stop laughing while typing this. Bodybuilders’ legs are big like logs, coupled with the overwhelming massive upper body, which make the penis and testicles look small. This is an illusion. Bodybuilders generally have a big penis. Really, I kid you not. Look at what we eat and the supplements we take to achieve maximum testosterone production. All the quality food and supplements we consume daily makes the penis grow! Still don’t believe me? Google ‘food for bigger penis’ and you will see that nutrition is as important as ‘Kegel exercise’.
6. Bodybuilders’ Muscles Will ‘Sag’ When They Grow Older
I am sure this is the most common topic you hear about. Fat cells and muscle cells are two different cells. Fat cells can never become muscle cells and muscle cells can never become fat cells. Hence, muscles can never sag. This misconception has been around because people have seen old retired bodybuilders and they look ‘saggy’. The retired bodybuilders you see might no longer train and eat the foods he used to eat, and that results in smaller muscle cells and perhaps fat gain. When this happens, body goes to a mode called homeostasis. Do Google ‘homeostasis’ if you’re interested as there is a lot to read about.
7. Without Steroids, Bodybuilders Are Nothing
Let us put bodybuilding out of the picture for a second. Did you know that ever since the Olympic games started in 1900s, performance-enhancing drugs have been used? Just type ‘steroid history in Olympics’ in Google and you can read more. Almost every sport uses some form of drugs. Here again, if you ask any true bodybuilder who has stepped onto the stage, they will tell you that these steroids are just 5% of the success. What is the secret then? Hard work. I know you might be calling bullshit. But not many people understand this profound term - hard work. Can you do something over and over again, 24/7 for your whole life? It is not easy. If you are an athlete reading this, you’re probably having déjà vu because I just reminded you how hard it was for you to wake up early with sore muscles, having to push through bad times and no matter what, you grit your teeth and tell yourself that you got to do what you got to do. The sheer amount of determination and hard work required in any sport is ridiculous, be it MMA, Boxing, Running etc. Sometimes, during quiet times, one can just break down and cry. It happened to me many times where I cried because of having to endure all these challenges. Hence, please dismiss the idea that bodybuilders take steroids to get massive. Without hard work, knowledge and the right guidance, it will not be possible. Lastly, usage of steroids requires a huge deal of knowledge on how these chemicals react with each other to give the most synergistic effect. It is not candy in the shop that you buy and pop into your mouth.
8. Why Do Bodybuilders Wear Underwear And Flex Onstage?
That would be at a bodybuilding contest. Bodybuilders don’t actually wear underwear but a ‘posing trunk/suit’. It is not swim wear/suit either. Bodybuilders flex on stage to showcase muscles in every part of their body. It is part of the judging criteria. For more info, you can click on this link and read more - http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/billdobbins1.htm
9. Bodybuilders Only Eat Boring Food And Chicken Breasts Everyday
To address this, we first have to ask ourselves what is boring? If you mean plain tasting food, it’s actually good for you. There’s a saying that goes ‘If food tastes good, it’s probably bad for you.’ The food that we consume, if unhealthy, will slowly consume us - our health. Bodybuilders eat for function, not desire. To know more about how food and society affect us, please read this article -https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=941144235972507&id=915089981911266&substory_index=0
Bodybuilders need a huge amount of protein to maintain muscle mass. Besides consuming chicken breasts, fish and lean beef are also included in our diet. Most bodybuilders eat chicken breasts because it is easy to get, cheaper, able to store for longer and has lesser fat content and a high amount of amino acids as compared to beef and fish.
10. Bodybuilders Are Bulky And Inflexible
Bodybuilders are probably some of the most flexible people on Earth, considering the amount of muscle mass they carry and are still able to flex and pose elegantly on stage. I will name you some bodybuilders you can watch on YouTube and see how gracefully they flow/dance on stage - Kai Greene, Hidetada Yamagishi, IFBB Pro Melvin Anthony Lee Labrada, Bob Paris and Ed Corney. After watching them, you will understand that bodybuilders are not inflexible.
11. Bodybuilders Have No Life And All They Do Is Gym
Exactly! That is why it is not easy to be a bodybuilder and not everyone can make it a career as it is really taxing. Each training session can go up to 3 hours. That is what a bodybuilder does. Eat, sleep, train, repeat. However, living in a hectic country like Singapore, it is almost impossible not to work. A bodybuilder’s monthly expenses can sum up to digits you probably don’t want to know, especially in Singapore. Sadly, Singapore does not recognise bodybuilders as part of Team Singapore. I really miss those times back in the 90s where Halim Haron, Andy Toh, Nazarudin Seladin made up Team Singapore Bodybuilding. Our true Singapore pride.
12. Bodybuilders’ Upper Bodies Are So Big But They Always Have Skinny Bamboo Legs
A bodybuilder is one who competes on stage, right? If a bodybuilder has skinny legs, he will be likely to be disqualified because of symmetry. Judges are only interested in athletes who have balance and symmetry on the stage. Bodybuilders may always wear shorts during training but it is covered. How can one tell if it is small or big? You got X-Ray eyes? No right?! I can never judge a person’s legs when covered by pants. Everyone has their goals and knows what they want. If they want a big body but don’t want to train legs, who am I to judge? So I usually don’t comment on that.
13. Bodybuilders Love To Grunt, Yell And Shout While Training
First of all, we have to understand that they are dealing with heavy weights, really really heavy weights and the contest preparation they are going through. I know of some friends who don’t grunt, yell or shout when lifting for the first few reps but the amount of weight they’re lifting for repetitions leaves them no choice. Let’s rewind back to how humans went to war. They have a war cry. Why? To boost their courage and morale. Same here when dealing with such heavy weights. You need the strength of a thousand men! Please…show me someone who can lift heavy weights for repetitions and volume without struggling, grunting, yelling or shouting. Yes, I do agree that it can be annoying when someone is yelling so loud and you just want a peaceful workout. I hope after reading this, you can be more understanding and see things differently. Oh yes, these grunts if you notice, it is just for a while. As for people who are lifting 5kg dumb bells for bicep curls, yelling away every single repetition, please stare at them and their weights. Bodybuilders are in gym for training and not workout. If a person really trains hard, he/she will struggle. When that happens, it will trigger the person to push through that set in that desperate moment. Bodybuilders train through pain; the repetition doesn’t start until it starts to burn. Hence, it is almost impossible to keep quiet and lift. No way. If that person can do it, it is because the weight is too light. You can Google more about grunting while lifting weights. There are actually some interesting scientific studies on this topic. Good luck.
14. Bodybuilders Are Heartless And Ruthless
They may seem tough and ruthless because of their looks and massive size but they are actually some of the most soft-hearted human beings you can find. They have gone through a lot of physical and mental torment to become what they are today. They have gone through the darkest moments of their life. They cry at times where the public doesn’t see and they suffer in silence without saying much. Some even cry during training. They are vulnerable when their loved ones leave them too. When my girlfriend left me for an obese guy back then, I almost quit Bodybuilding. I couldn’t train. I forced myself to go the gym but during my first set, I cried. Yeah, that was how broken I was back then. Never judge a book by its cover.
15. Bodybuilders Are Bulky And Can’t Do Functional Movements
Let us look back at the golden era of bodybuilding. To name a few, Franco Columbu and Arnold Schwarzenegger were deadlifting cars and doing many more functional movements! They were able to perform countless amount of pull ups and push ups. It was like a staple for them back then! If they can’t do pull ups and push ups, it is not bodybuilding. All bodybuilders will have to stand on stage to pose and showcase their muscles. If they can’t even do daily functional movements, do you think they can pose gracefully?
16. Female Bodybuilders Are Disgusting. I Don’t Want To Look Like Them.
Ladies, this part is for you. Female bodybuilders are the hardest to look like. Female bodybuilders have the top-notch physique of any females on earth. Don’t even think of being like them if you just want to lose fat. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to get there. One more thing ladies, going to the gym will not make your muscles bigger etc. Don’t be silly. Unless you have superior genetics, which only exists in 1% of the whole world population. You can still workout and get a nice physique. Some good examples are Michelle Lewin, Lauren Fisher or some of our local females - Gisele Lim, Barbara Chng Johnson, Stephanie Bovis and Sari Marsden.
17. Bodybuilders Don’t Run. Their Cardiovascular Health And Stamina Are Really Bad.
Running is actually the secret to shed off excess stubborn fats. Cardio can be done in several ways like going on the threadmill, stairmaster, elliptical or cycling machine. Bodybuilders do cardio almost everyday. We all know that excessive running is bad for the knees. Hence, most of the time, they do ‘cardio’ using the stairmaster machine, elliptical or cycling machine. Old school bodybuilders used to run by the beach and tan their body at the same time. Cardio in short literally means ‘heart’, in Greek. There are tons of research on the benefits of doing cardio. Please do Google. Excessive cardio burns muscles and that is true, compare the physique of a marathon runner and a sprinter. Hence the misconception that long periods of distance running burns muscles. I started running every day at a steady pace last year at least 5 times a week, even though I am not competing and that kept me lean all year. Try doing your cardio daily and see the magic yourself!
18. Bodybuilders Walk Like Robots
The reason why they walked like robots is because of the amount of muscle mass they have. Most bodybuilders have ‘hanging’ latissimus dorsi and because of this development of muscle, they look like robots. However, in actual fact, they are not robotic at all. Commonly known as Imaginary Lats Syndrome (ILS). This usually happens to newbies who just started gymming, thinking that their lats have grown at an extensive rate. Google about ILS and you can read more on that. Now let’s talk about lower body movement. Some commented that bodybuilders walk like they have really huge ‘balls’. This isn’t true at all. Fact is, their muscular development of adductors hinders the way a normal human being walks. If you have a look at bodybuilding magazines, you will see there is no ‘gap’ in between their thighs. That is why bodybuilders can’t wear jeans too.
19. Bodybuilders Love To Pose And Look At Themselves In The Mirror
Vanity is part of bodybuilding. Being a bodybuilder myself, I must admit I am vain. Minimal/no armpit hair, minimal/no pubic hair and minimal/no leg hair. Posing in the mirror is a form of isometric hold where it contracts muscles. It is not something someone can perform easily. It requires a lot of practice.
20. Bodybuilders Only Drinks Protein Shakes
Protein shakes only aid in increasing the protein consumption daily. If a person does not have a diet plan, drinking protein shakes alone will not help. It is not a meal replacement. If by drinking shakes, people can get a body like a bodybuilder, you’ll see a lot more people flaunting their physiques. In actual fact, bodybuilders eat a lot of solid meals, ranging from 4-7 meals a day.
Bodybuilders are frequently associated with a famous Chinese proverb - 台上一秒鐘 台下十年工, which means one minute of brilliant performance on the stage is attributed to ten years’ of work. I hope after reading this article, you’ll see bodybuilders in a different light and have a better perception of them.