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Bodybuilding: Its Advantages and and Early Beginnings

All through history, you'll find that many cultures were practicing some form of weight training. Weight training was considered an athletic activity and was a way to improve one's strength and gain power. This particular celebration of the human body can even be seen in ancient art and statues from the Roman and Greek Periods.

Lifting weights made an appearance in the first modern Olympics of 1896 in which two weightlifting events were featured. Of course, demonstrating feats of strength via the lifting of weights was not confined to such heralded events. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centures, strongmen (strength athletes) traveled around with circus sideshows and carnivals. They impressed the crowd with various feats of strength. This was the first glimpse that many in North America had of this type of activity.

The Father Of Modern Bodybuilding

The word bodybuilding came into existence in the early 19th century. The term itself was actively promoted by Eugene Sandow from Prussia who has been credited as the “Father of Modern Bodybuilding”. Sandow became very popular and invented and sold the first exercise equipment to the masses. This equipment consisted of machined dumbbells, spring pulleys, and tension bands.

Sandow was a huge fan of the “Grecian Ideal”. He tried to match what he considered to be the perfect physique, as portrayed in classical Greek and Roman statues. In the early days of bodybuilding, men were judged by these ancient standards. On September 14, 1901 Eugene Sandow created the first bodybuilding competition. It was a huge success. The trophy that was given to the winner was a bronze statue of Sandow.

Bodybuilding: Coming To America

The interest in bodybuilding continued to grow. On January 16, 1904, the first large scale competition was held in America. The competition happened at Madison Square Garden and was won by Al Treloar. His prize was $1,000, a large sum of money at the time. The continued interest in bodybuilding was promoted enthusiastically throughout the world thanks to the efforts of people like Charles Atlas.

Professional Bodybuilding

Today, Professional Bodybuilders are bodybuilders who have won qualifying rounds at the amateur level and have earned a pro card from the IFBB. The IFBB, or international federation of bodybuilders, was formed as a result of the publicizing and organizing efforts of two brothers: Joe Weider, the publisher of Muscle and Fitness, and Ben Weider, the first president of the IFBB.

The goal, of course, for every professional bodybuilder, is to someday compete in the event that is the apex of the sport. For women, this event is known as the Ms. Olympia competition and for men it is likewise known as the Mr. Olympia competition. The best known winner of this competition is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, an immigrant from Graz, Austria, who went on to achieve success in bodybuilding, real estate development, movies, and politics. The winner of today's Mr. Olympia competition has been presented with the Sandow statute since 1977.

Developing Muscle

Have you ever felt sore after a workout? This is a common experience for anyone that lifts weights regularly. Why do you experience muscle soreness? Weight training causes "microtrauma" (micro-tears to the muscles being trained.) These micro-tears contribute to the muscle soreness you feel after a workout (as I type this message, I’m experiencing soreness in my arms and back thanks to my own workout).

You usually don’t feel the soreness immediately, but sometime after the exercise is over. This is called delayed onset muscle soreness. Muscle growth is experienced as micro-trauma is being repaired. Muscle soreness usually becomes pronounced a day or two after the workout (I usually experience it on my second day).


To continue muscle growth when you’re bodybuilding you must insure that you are receiving proper nutrition. This essentially means A) ensuring that your protein intake is high enough to facilitate muscle growth and B) taking in the necessary amounts of micronutrients that are essential to maintaining metabolic processes at an optimal level.


Too much of a good thing sometimes is not good for you. Certainly, the same thing applies to weight training. Occasionally, bodybuilders might have too many workouts without giving their bodies sufficient time to recover.

Overtraining can be caused by many factors, the obvious being training at high intensity for too long, inadequate nutrition, lack of sleep. When we train at a high intensity for too long this also can interfere with our sleep pattern. To avoid overtraining, it’s imperative that we give our bodies sufficient time to recover.


Muscle growth happens after our workouts during our resting periods. In fact, human growth hormone is released by the pituitary gland when we sleep and it is during the deepest level of sleep (stage 4, delta-wave sleep) that our bodies begin to repair.

It’s important that you give your body sufficient time for rest; in doing so you will give your muscles time to recover and build, thus becoming stronger and more developed. The sleep cycle varies per individual, but the standard is usually eight hours. Many bodybuilders feel that taking naps increases their ability to build muscle.

Benefits of Bodybuilding

Besides building your muscles, weight lifting offers other benefits to your health, some of which are listed below.

Helps Lower Your Cholesterol

Generally, the more active you are, the lower your cholesterol will be. If you regularly lift weights, your chances of lowering your cholesterol are exceptionally high.

Bone Density

The more stress one puts on the skeleton during exercise, the denser its bones may become. Weight training helps prevent osteoporosis, a disease that affects almost 30 million people.

If you’re looking for a book that talks about bodybuilding in depth, one recommendatoin would include the Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger. This book was originally published in 1985 and updated in 1999. I have both editions. In the updated edition Arnold Schwarzenegger writes about the newest advances in weight training, the sport, nutrition, methods of training, and how you can prevent injuries. The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding has been called the “Bible of Bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding has been around for a long time, and I imagine the popularity of the sport will continue to increase. Not only is it good for your physical appearance, you also receive fabulous health benefits.

However, though exercise is extremely important, sometimes it is best to check with your health care provider first if you’re extremely out of shape or have a medical condition. In other words, if bodybuilding or weightlifing are activities which you not previously engaged in, proceed on an informed basis.

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