When most people think about bodybuilding, they tend to think about big guys in the gym “pumping iron” but it is far more than that. We can roughly describe it as using resistance training and other exercises to improve the health and appearance of the body. It is popular among a wide variety of people, ranging from recent moms trying to get back into shape, octogenarians and beyond working on maintaining or recovering their muscle mass, and yes, big and not so big guys and gals at the gym pumping iron.
In reality, there are three parts to bodybuilding. Only one part is exercise, which we will discuss below.
Equally important to exercise is rest. Rest is when the muscles grow. For example, even a competitive bodybuilder may only work each group of muscles such as the legs, back, shoulders, etc. twice a week or less.
Muscles do not grow in the gym, but when resting and recovering. Too much resistance or other exercise leads to overtraining and a lack of progress. Bodybuilders often may need more sleep than others and I know when I work out heavily I tend to sleep extremely well.
Nutrition is also critical, and for some people, more important than exercise. For example, I have a big and bulky body type typically known as an endomorph. I gain muscle very easily, however I also gain fat very easily if I do not eat well. Nutrition is absolutely critical for anyone with a body type like mine, more so than exercise.
There are many types of diets that work for bodybuilders regardless of how serious they are, and one key trait of a successful diet is that it has to be practical. Too many people think they can eat ultra healthy for ever, for example surviving on tuna fish, broiled chicken, and steamed vegetables. The result is usually massive cheating, whereas a more reasonable diet, although less than perfect, would work better.
When it comes to exercise, we have two types: anaerobic, typically lifting free weights or using machines, and aerobic. Both are important although many bodybuilders only concentrate on anaerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises, also known as cardio, are important for keeping body fat low as well as for general fitness. Aerobic exercises include running, walking, bicycling, team sports like soccer and hockey, hiking and far more. Often bodybuilders simply think of the treadmill, exercise bike, and similar, and hence hate aerobics. It is important to find one or more forms of aerobic exercise you enjoy.
More and more people are bodybuilding as the medical community is documenting the health benefits for people of almost all ages, including very old. Remember, it includes exercise, rest, and nutrition.