The modernization of sports has seen the inclusion of many new types of activities into the sports genre, all of which are gaining considerable popularity. Some of these sports come with an artistic focus, such as dance, while others utilize brand-new technologies in a competitive fashion, as is the case with major-league video gaming. As a society’s culture spreads, the fundamental nature of sporting activities is changing as well, and in many cases, the competition is no longer defined as the foremost objective. In some cases, the would-be “side-effect” of rigorous sporting activities instead surpasses the competition as the primary focus of the sport. Such is the case with Bodybuilding.
A competitive test of strength can be considered one of the most original forms of sporting activity in the world. As a result, it is not entirely inaccurate to suggest that Bodybuilding is one of the earliest sports in history. It is important, however, to make a distinction between modern Bodybuilding and the feats of strength popular in Ancient Greece and Egypt. Beginning in the late-1800s, Modern Bodybuilding (also widely known as “Western Bodybuilding”) began in 19th Century Europe, with “strongmen” challenging each other to tests of strength among the public community. In the United States, Bodybuilding reemerged from a brief intermission when gymnastics simultaneously experienced a surge in popularity. Rather than a battle to display the rawest strength and power, Modern Bodybuilding concentrates more on a refined, balanced physique. Through the 1970’s, Bodybuilding continued to gain traction in the West, popularized by celebrity powerhouses such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. The year 1981 would see the formation of the National Physique Committee, headed by Jim Manion who, at the time, had just resigned from his position as chairman of the American Athletics Union Physique Committee. The NPC would continue to gain a following, becoming the forefront Bodybuilding committee in America that it is today.
Modern Bodybuilding is a competition of creating, maintaining, and showcasing an apex specimen of a human being. While baseball may feature “spring training” and competitive golfers must refine their skills on their own time, Bodybuilding surpasses both of these sports in the sheer amount of preparation. The preliminary phases of Bodybuilding involve a period of “cutting and bulking.” Through a combination of excess calories from food and rigorous weightlifting and exercise, the human body forms muscle tissue – the key component of any competitor’s physique. This process of accumulating muscle tissue is referred to as “bulking.” At the same time, however, the competitor must remove fat tissue by spending time in a “calorie deficit” and performing aerobic exercise (a.k.a. “cutting”). This entire ongoing progress occurs during a competitor’s off-season – a period in time where no competitions are held and Bodybuilders have the most time to build their physique. The process of building up muscle and shaving off unwanted body fat is varied from competitor to competitor, with a variety of methods being developed and employed by the individual.
The competitive component of Bodybuilding comes during the on-season, when competitions are held. At a Bodybuilding competition, candidates are grouped into divisions based on weight capacity. For each division, competitors are presented on a stage before a panel of judges, who score points based on muscle tone, girth, and the overall cultivation of the competitor’s physique. As with any sport that involves rating and assessments, some subjectivity is also involved in the judging. After the competition itself, the event transitions into a sort of performance phase including an award ceremony ranking the winning competitors. With the conclusion of the on-season, Bodybuilders may return to refining and enhancing their physique for the next year of competition.
Moving into the mid-21st Century, Bodybuilding is consistently gaining popularity in the United States, along with many other newer sports that promote improving one’s self in addition to the competition that is characteristic of any true sporting event.