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What's Wrong With Bodybuilding?


BodybuildingPro.com Articles Database Articles by Writer Articles Written by www.steroid-encyclopaedia.com What's Wrong With Bodybuilding?

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What's Wrong With Bodybuilding?

by Ron Ball, courtesy of www.mickhart.com's No Bull Collection.

“All is not well in the bodybuilding world....” 

This is not a very profound statement; many have been saying the same thing for years. But what is wrong? What are we bothered about? Are the problems unique to bodybuilding? What can be done to improve things? I ask a string of questions but does anyone care enough to try to get things right? Is it possible with so many entrenched officials in the sport unwilling to give an inch to another organisation. 

First of all let’s consider the good things. 
Thirty or more years ago, just as now, in the UK at least, bodybuilders were held in contempt by Joe Public. But in those days, the gyms were terrible, with very basic equipment, much of it home made, operating in cheap, nasty buildings with no heating or insulation and often leaky walls or roofs. Now most gyms are well equipped, with all Olympic bars, a wide range of weight loading and pre-select plate loading machines and some buildings even have heating and air-conditioning. There are many more and useful supplements available and our knowledge of training and nutrition is so much greater that almost anyone can now expect a reasonable degree of success (whatever the genetic potential) if he works hard enough. There is a wider range of clothing and accessories available for the real bodybuilder for working-out in the gym as well as for casual wear, than ever before. And now many bodybuilders are able to add to their incomes by getting work in advertising and TV, as well as in films, much more than was ever possible in the past. 

With so many large fitness centres around in every town in the land, why can't we attract enough men and women to go that step further from keeping fit to getting serious about bodybuilding? I often feel that fitness is such a nebulous thing that alone it will not keep anyone interested for long. They need to have positive goals whether through bodybuilding or some other sport. 

S o bodybuilders are not held in high regard by the media and the public. 
I don't mind very much what the public thinks of me as a bodybuilder or as anything else for that matter. bodybuilders have always felt that many ordinary men poured scorn on body obsessed bodybuilders because they were, secretly, envious of the physiques of these men. There is probably much truth in this. Where we have concerns about serious hardcore bodybuilding and the future, are in three areas. 

1. Contests are not getting the support we would hope for and need. 
2. bodybuilders DO NOT get their just rewards 
3. The sporting establishment like to blame bodybuilders for any the problems they think they have with drugs in sports and they may yet persuade a goverment minister to make bodybuilding a proscribed activity. 

With a control freak in charge of the shop, this third concern could easily come to pass, but we will have to react to controls when they happen and considering the form of any such controls. Lets face it we can get enough EPO filled bike riders to disprove that theory. Primarily, the concerns are the seeming lack of support for contests and the lack of financial returns for the best efforts of even top rank bodybuilders. If you cannot drag in an audience, then bodybuilders can forget about making money from the sport. 

T he solutions to the problems are not simple but there are solutions. 
What I say here applies primarily to men’s bodybuilding but much is also true of women’s bodybuilding too. First and foremost, the various bodybuilding organisations must pull together. Most men who compete in bodybuilding contests do not care a monkeys whether the contest is organised by NABBA or EFBB or any other organisation as long as they get looked after and get a fair crack of the whip when they compete. All the nonsense of trying to take competitors away from one organisation, bar them from other contests or place a Mr. Universe winner nowhere because vou need to prove that your contests are of such a fabulously high standard that even a Mr Universe winner cannot expect to place, is ludicrous. These antics will only bring forward the day when we see officials like a pack of squabbling vultures fighting over the last scraps of meat on a long dead corpse. 

B odybuilding will die without men who love bodybuilding so much that they will sacrifice most of their social life and much of their money to get the physique that they have dreamed of.

Fine, you have every right to dictate what a bodybuilder does if he is under contract but not otherwise. And, even then, if he is a professional, European law will not allow you to apply any restrictions which would prevent the bodybuilder from earning his living. Sometimes two organisations will have contests on the same day and in the same area cannot they talk to each other to ensure that they do not clash? Do they think there are several pools of competitive bodybuilders available to compete exclusively in one organisation only - as well as several lots of spectators who will only go to one organisations contests? The reality is more likely that each thinks they will steal the others competitors and audience with the result that possibly both will get a poor turnout. 

B odybuilding will die without men who love bodybuilding so much that they will sacrifice most of their social life and much of their money to get the physique that they have dreamed of. These men come to the gyms year in year out, force the standards ever upward, provide the stuff for muscle magazines and newspapers and are the inspiration for the up and coming young men, the bodybuilders of the future. There is nothing wrong with bodybuilders who do not want to compete but it is the ones who do compete that carry the sport forward and they deserve the support of everyone in bodybuildng in everything that they do. But, on the whole side, they get a bum deal. 

Much is said about the bodybuilding lifestyle. 
To be a successful competitive bodybuilder you hove to live the sport 24hrs per day, week after week, the whole year round. You have to eat the right foods at the right times each day, supplement your protein intake, drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, train hard in seriously brutal work-outs, use all the right supplements. The cost in money terms alone can be astronomical - £150/$250 per week and upwards spent on food and nutrients is not unusual and for a really big man can be much higher. And for those striving for the very top (even as amateurs) there will be expenditure on some sophisticated and very expensive supplementation (drugs!). Then when competition time comes around, there is the dieting for several weeks or months to get into the ripped low bodyfat shape that is demanded; a period when bodybuilders become irritable, lacking in energy and yet have to be even more committed to the life style. 

When your aspiring physique champ goes to the contest venue, he or she will often get little help - sometimes competitors may even seem to be considered as just a bloody nuisance - the contest will probably start late, competitors will often be provided with neither space nor equipment to warm up, etc, etc. And if our bodybuilder happens to win he or she will get a fairly low value trophy; anyone coming only second, third, fourth, etc. will get a smaller trophy and almost instant obscurty. 

I t sounds that my criticisms are aimed at those who organise contests. To some extent they are, but many of those individuals organising area contests do so only out of of love for the sport, in their spare time and often with little help or support. And it is not only they who are at fault. Some bodybuilders at all levels in the sport are very unprofessional in their behaviour and sometimes it is difficult or impossible to be sympathetic to their antics. 

If bodybuilding is to prosper, we need more competitors. 
More competitors means bigger audiences, since the competitors will bring along their mates, supporters from their gyms and relatives to watch. More competitors will mean better and real competitors. If so, how do we get more competitors? This is difficult. In our own gym in Crawley, we have a small number of men and women who are competing on a regular basis and a reasonable number who show interest in competing. But the vast majority of gym members will not compete, not this year, not next year, not ever! Some of them have terrific potential and some have competed in the past - once!! But not again. 

"To compete nowadays even at novice level and have a serious chance of placing well, the commitment that the potential competitor has to make is probably greater than in any other sport."

They feel that for the potential rewards, competitive bodybuilding is just not worth the efforts. To compete nowadays even at novice level and have a serious chance of placing well, the commitment that the potential competitor has to make is probably greater than in any other sport. I t is true that at some shows, many classes have only one or perhaps two competitors, so you get a trophy for just turning up on the day. This may allow you to collect trophies if you want to, but there is little satisfaction in winning because no one else turned up!

 On the other hand, I feel very sympathetic to the competitor who does turn up in top condition and then finds he has no competition; it offers no encouragement to think - as you will - that you put all that effort into training, dieting and applying colour, etc. when you could have won by just turning up and putting on your posing trunks. But for the out of shape competitor who wins, when he lines up against real opposition he comes nowhere. This does nothing for bodybuilding and guarantees a smaller audience next time around. But to build a real contest winning physique requires total commitment. That commitment is greater because the standards for top physiques are set by pictures in the magazines and decorating the walls of every hardcore bodybuilding gym in the country. 

You see the pictures and you know that is what a top bodybuilder physique should look like and so every competitor strives for that look, training with total commitment for months or years before that all important first contest. 

In comparison, if, for example, you play football at weekends for some local team, you cannot see by looking at pictures just how useless you and the rest of your team are in comparison with Manchester United. And since the opponents also do not see how useless they are, a sort of game of football is played and everyone is happy. But get hold of your team and make them train really hard four times per week, with proper coaching, eat good quality food and supplements (nothing illegal) do not allow them to smoke or drink alcohol, plan your games, etc. and suddenly, assuming the players dont all tell you to get knotted and leave, your team will start looking something special. But no matter how useless you and your team are at playing football you can tell tall stories down the local pub and at least you can believe it. But it is no use trying to persuade your mates that you will be the next Mr. Universe if you have a bodyweight of 10 stone (140lbs) at 6’ height or excess weight hanging around the waist, it is the constant visibility of a bodybuilder that makes the commitment so necessary. 

“Most men who compete in bodybuilding contests do not care a monkeys whether the contest is organised by NABBA, EFBB or any other organisation as long as they get looked after and get a fair crack of the whip when they compete.”

W e have had a gym in Crawley now for thirty years. During that time we have, at some time, entered competitors in contests run by all the established organisations. But the extent of their contacts with us has generally been no more than to send us posters and entry forms and sometimes they don't even do that unless we ask for them. We have had the gym affiliated to one of the above organisations for years and have supported their contests almost every year, yet only a few months ago they didn’t seem to even know of our existence. 

By comparison, I have to say that recently we had two of our women members competing at the EPF Britain show and then going on to the WPF World Championships in Leipzig, and the officials of this small (in the UK) organisation showed very much more interest in our support and involvement and made us very welcome at the Britain Show in Halesowen. Our two women who went to Leipzig said that the organisation there was very good and that the show ran to schedule - they were almost quite unprepared for this. They enjoyed the whole trip and will want to compete with the EPF again. But this is more the way it should be. 

Without support from the gyms there will be no bodybuilding shows. 
If there were more contacts between gyms and the show organisers it may be that the numbers turning up to compete could well increase and the numbers failing to turn up (having already entered) for no reason could be reduced. B odybuilding is an expensive sport and most serious hardcore bodybuilders are perpetually without any money - they spend everything that they can afford on food and supplements for their sport. When I was competing, bodybuilding was still expensive but not as much as today because then we hardly knew anything about conditioning and our knowledge of ‘supplementation' - yes I do mean drugs - was much less sophisticated.

It was normal then to try to eat 1gm of protein per day for each lb of bodyweight; nowadays the average recommended amount is 2 or 3 gms per lb of bodyweight, and protein foods are the most expensive. The contest condition of serious competitors is now way beyond anything in the past in both muscle mass and in condition - just look at an average Mr. Universe in 1970-75; few of them could do better than place in an area qualifier show today. In the next issue of No Bull, I will say more about the rewards for bodybuilders and the problems of judging and what you may have to do to win!



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