Bodybuilding is the sport of developing muscle fibres through a combination of strength training, increased calorie intake and rest. Competitive bodybuilders display their physique in a panel of judges who award points.
Although initially a male research, in the 1980s, women began to compete separately, but from 2004 onwards, female bodybuilding has declined significantly.
The sport should not be confused with strong men’s competition, or powerlifting, where the focus is on actual physical strength, or with Olympic weightlifting where the emphasis is equally divided between strength and technique. Although superficially similar to the casual observer, the fields involve a different regime of training, diet and basic motivation. Instead, bodybuilders aspire to the development and maintenance of a pleasing aesthetic (according to bodybuilding standards) and balanced physique. In bodybuilding, size and shape are much more important than the ability to lift.
To achieve muscle growth (hypertrophy), bodybuilders focus on three main lines of action:
Good nutrition including protein and extra supplements if necessary
High quality rest to facilitate growth
Resistance training causes microtears on the formed muscles; this is generally known as microtrauma. These microtears in the muscle contribute to the pain felt after exercise, called Delayed Muscle Dysfunction or DOMS. It is the repair of these micro traumas that leads to muscle growth (anabolism). Normally, this pain becomes more evident a day or two after a workout.
Growth and repair, however, cannot occur without the necessary building blocks. These are provided by high quality nutrition. Bodybuilders require a very specialized diet. In general, bodybuilders require something between 500 to 1000 calories (2000 to 4000 kilojoules) above their dietary energy maintenance level while trying to increase lean body mass. An under-maintenance level of dietary energy is combined with cardiovascular exercise to lose body fat in preparation for a competition. The ratios of dietary energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat vary depending on the bodybuilder’s goals.
Bodybuilders divide their food intake for the day into 5-7 meals of approximately equal nutritional content and attempt to eat at regular intervals. This interval is normally between 2 to 3 hours. The reason for this is to allow greater nutrient absorption and to increase the basal metabolic rate. This process is also useful for those who simply want to lose fat.
A large part of dietary energy comes from carbohydrates, so the body has enough energy to cope with the demands of training and recovery. Bodybuilders require complex carbohydrates because they release energy more slowly than simple sugars. This is important because simple sugars induce an insulin response that places the body in a state where it is likely to store additional dietary energy as fat rather than muscle, just as frequent consumption of simple sugars can lead to type II diabetes and the insulin response can lose energy that should go to muscle growth. However, bodybuilders ingest simple sugars post-workout to replenish glycogen stores in the muscle.
It is recommended that bodybuilders receive 1 to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight to help the body recover and build. These protein sources should be of high biological value, such as steak, chicken, fish, soy, milk or whey and egg whites. Chicken, whey and egg whites are often preferred because of their low fat content. Some bodybuilders prefer to get their daily protein requirements from food first, then from additional protein powders.
Vitamins and minerals
An adequate intake of vitamins and minerals is necessary; bodybuilders take a multiple vitamin almost every day. Essential fatty acids (including omega-3), which the body cannot synthesize, are also consumed. As with all supplements, it is preferable to get the vitamin and mineral needs of the body in the right amount.