What Is Bodybuilding article by J.P. Brice at IRON COMPANY

What Is Bodybuilding?

The Sport and Art of Bodybuilding

What is bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is a form of physical exercise and competitive sport that involves strength training, weightlifting, and other forms of resistance training with the goal of building muscle mass, increasing strength and improving overall body composition. Bodybuilders typically engage in high-intensity weightlifting and follow a specific diet and nutrition plan to promote muscle growth and reduce body fat.

Bodybuilding competitions are typically judged on a contestant's muscular development, symmetry, and overall presentation of their physique. The sport has become increasingly popular over the years, with many people using bodybuilding as a means to improve their physical fitness, appearance and even overall health and mobility. However, it is important to note that bodybuilding requires a significant amount of dedication, hard work, and discipline in both training and diet, and should only be pursued under the guidance of a qualified trainer or coach until the trainee is able to properly and safely perform the necessary exercises.


Is bodybuilding a sport or an art?

Bodybuilding can be seen as both a sport and an art. On one hand, it is a sport that involves competition and the pursuit of athletic excellence through physical training and conditioning. Both men and women bodybuilders compete against each other to showcase their physiques and demonstrate their strength, endurance, and overall fitness.

On the other hand, bodybuilding is also an art form that involves sculpting the body to create a visually appealing physique that is balanced, proportionate, and aesthetically pleasing. Bodybuilders often focus on creating a "perfect" physique that is both symmetrical and muscular, using a combination of resistance training including free weight equipment and exercise machines, cardio training on cardio machines to accelerate fat loss, a strict nutritional plan, and posing techniques to achieve their goals and properly display their musculature. 

In this way, bodybuilding can be seen as a combination of sport and art, as it involves the physical and aesthetic aspects of building a strong and visually impressive body. Ultimately, whether it is viewed primarily as a sport or an art form may depend on the individual bodybuilder and their approach to the discipline.


The history of bodybuilding

The history of bodybuilding can be traced back to ancient Greece, where athletes would engage in strength training and compete in events such as wrestling and the pentathlon. However, the modern form of bodybuilding as we know it today emerged in the late 19th century.

One of the earliest pioneers of bodybuilding was Eugen Sandow, a German bodybuilder and strongman who is often referred to as the "father of modern bodybuilding." Sandow became famous for his impressive physique and his ability to perform incredible feats of strength, such as lifting horses and bending iron bars.

In the early 20th century, bodybuilding competitions began to emerge, with the first Mr. America contest being held in 1939. The sport continued to gain popularity throughout the 20th century, with the creation of the Mr. Olympia contest in 1965 and the emergence of bodybuilding legends such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, who helped to popularize the sport even further.

Today, bodybuilding is a global phenomenon, with millions of people engaging in strength training and competing in bodybuilding contests around the world. The sport has evolved over the years, with new training techniques, nutritional strategies, and performance-enhancing substances being developed and tested. Despite some controversies surrounding the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport, bodybuilding remains a popular and respected form of athletic competition.


Can anyone become a bodybuilder?

Anyone can become a bodybuilder if they have the dedication, discipline, and commitment to follow a rigorous training and nutrition plan. Bodybuilding is not limited by age, gender, or body type. However, it is important to note that bodybuilding requires a significant amount of time, effort, and discipline to achieve the desired results.

To become a bodybuilder, at least in the beginning, it is recommended to work with a qualified trainer or coach who can help develop a personalized training and nutrition plan based on your individual goals and physical capabilities. It is also important to approach bodybuilding in a safe and responsible manner, by using proper form and technique when lifting weights, especially prime mover lifts such as the bench press, squat and the deadlift. 

Overall, bodybuilding can be a rewarding and challenging sport that can help improve physical fitness, mental well-being, and overall quality of life.


Who are the most popular bodybuilders?

There have been many famous and influential bodybuilders throughout history, but here are some of the most popular and iconic names in the sport:


  1. Arnold Schwarzenegger - A legendary bodybuilder and movie star who won the Mr. Olympia contest seven times and helped to popularize bodybuilding around the world.
  2. Ronnie Coleman - A retired professional bodybuilder who won the Mr. Olympia contest eight times, and is known for his massive size and strength.
  3. Jay Cutler - A retired professional bodybuilder who won the Mr. Olympia contest four times, and is known for his impressive symmetry and muscularity.
  4. Dorian Yates - A retired professional bodybuilder who won the Mr. Olympia contest six times, and is known for his intense training style and focus on quality over quantity.
  5. Lee Haney - A retired professional bodybuilder who won the Mr. Olympia contest eight times, and is known for his impressive size and muscularity.
  6. Frank Zane - A retired professional bodybuilder who won the Mr. Olympia contest three times, and is known for his aesthetic physique and focus on symmetry and proportion.


  1. Iris Kyle - a 10-time Ms. Olympia winner and considered one of the greatest female bodybuilders of all time.
  2. Dana Linn Bailey - a former Ms. Olympia and popular fitness influencer.
  3. Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia - a 6-time Ms. Olympia winner.
  4. Nataliya Kuznetsova - a Russian bodybuilder and powerlifter who holds several world records.
  5. Cory Everson - a former Ms. Olympia winner who helped popularize female bodybuilding in the 1980s and 1990s.
  6. Rachel McLish - a former Ms. Olympia winner and one of the first women to achieve mainstream success in bodybuilding.

These are just a few of the most popular and influential bodybuilders, but there have been many others who have made significant contributions to the sport and helped to inspire generations of athletes and fitness enthusiasts.


Is bodybuilding safe?

When done correctly, bodybuilding can be a safe and healthy form of exercise. However, like any form of physical activity, there are risks and potential dangers associated with bodybuilding if proper precautions are not taken.

One of the main risks of bodybuilding is the potential for injuries, particularly from lifting heavy weights with improper form or technique. Common injuries include strains, sprains, and tears of the muscles and ligaments, as well as joint injuries such as rotator cuff tears and knee injuries.

Finally, bodybuilding requires a significant amount of time and effort, which can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, particularly if proper rest and recovery periods are not observed. Physical and mental exaustion can be reduced by following more of a minimalistic approach, such as limiting training of each muscle group to just once a week. Over time, as you get stronger and lift heavier weights, you will require more time for your body's muscles, joints and central nervous system to be fully recuperated and ready for the next training session. Some of the worlds most muscular bodybuilders and powerlifters, such as Dorian Yates and Kirk Karwoski, have followed a regime that trained each muscle only once per week with a limited amount of sets and exercises.

To reduce the risks associated with bodybuilding, it is important to approach the sport in a safe and responsible manner. This includes using proper form and technique when lifting weights, taking adequate rest and recovery periods, and following a healthy and balanced diet. Initially, it is recommended to work with a qualified trainer or coach who can help develop a personalized training and nutrition plan based on your individual goals and physical capabilities until you are ready to do it on your own.


What are the key benefits of bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding can provide a wide range of benefits for both physical and mental health. Here are some of the key benefits of bodybuilding:

  1. Increased muscle strength and size: Bodybuilding can help increase muscle strength and size, which can improve overall physical performance and help prevent injuries.

  2. Improved body composition: Bodybuilding can help reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass, which can improve body composition and help promote a healthy weight.

  3. Improved bone density: Resistance training, which is a key component of bodybuilding, can help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

  4. Improved cardiovascular health: Bodybuilding can help improve cardiovascular health by increasing heart and lung function, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and improving blood flow.

  5. Improved mental health: Bodybuilding can provide a sense of accomplishment and improve self-confidence, self-esteem, and body image. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall mental well-being.

  6. Improved metabolic rate: Bodybuilding can help increase metabolic rate, which can lead to improved energy levels, better digestion, and improved overall health.

Overall, bodybuilding can provide a wide range of physical and mental health benefits, making it a great form of exercise for anyone looking to improve their overall health and fitness.


Are bodybuilders stronger than powerlifters?

Bodybuilders and powerlifters are two different types of athletes who focus on different aspects of physical fitness. Bodybuilders focus on developing muscle size, shape, and definition, while powerlifters focus on developing maximal strength in three specific lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

In general, powerlifters are typically stronger than bodybuilders in these specific lifts due to their training specificity and focus on maximal strength. However, bodybuilders can still be very strong in their own right and may excel in other areas of physical fitness, such as endurance, flexibility, and overall muscular endurance.

It's also worth noting that comparing the strength of bodybuilders and powerlifters can be difficult, as they often use different training methods, have different body types and proportions, and compete in different categories and weight classes. Ultimately, both bodybuilding and powerlifting require a significant amount of dedication, discipline, and hard work, and both can lead to impressive levels of strength and physical fitness.


What type of gym equipment is used for bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding typically involves the use of a variety of gym equipment designed to help build and shape muscles. Here are some of the most common types of gym equipment used for bodybuilding:

  1. Free weights: This includes dumbbells, barbells, and weight plates, which are used to perform exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and curls.

  2. Resistance machines: These machines use weights or resistance to target specific muscle groups, such as the chest press machine, leg press machine, and lat pulldown machine.

  3. Cable machines: These machines use cables and pulleys to provide resistance, and can be used for a variety of exercises, including tricep pushdowns, cable curls, and cable rows.

  4. Cardio machines: While cardio machines are not specifically designed for bodybuilding, they can be useful for improving overall fitness and burning calories, which can help reduce body fat and improve muscle definition. Examples include treadmills, stationary bikes, and ellipticals.

  5. Accessories: This includes equipment such as exercise balls, resistance bands, and foam rollers, which can be used to improve flexibility, stability, and overall muscle health.

Overall, bodybuilding requires a combination of resistance training, cardiovascular exercise, and proper nutrition, and a variety of gym equipment can be used to achieve these goals. It is important to use proper form and technique when using gym equipment to reduce the risk of injury and maximize results.


What are examples of bodybuilding workouts?

Bodybuilding workouts typically involve a combination of resistance training exercises and cardiovascular exercises designed to build and shape muscles while reducing body fat. Here are some examples of bodybuilding workouts:

  1. Push-Pull-Legs (PPL) split: This is a three-day workout split that focuses on pushing exercises (chest, shoulders, triceps), pulling exercises (back, biceps), and leg exercises. Each workout targets different muscle groups and allows for adequate rest and recovery between sessions.

  2. Full-body workout: This is a workout that targets all major muscle groups in a single session, usually performed 2-3 times per week. Examples of exercises include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows, and overhead presses.

  3. Upper-lower split: This is a four-day workout split that alternates between upper body exercises (chest, shoulders, back, arms) and lower body exercises (legs, glutes). This split allows for greater focus on specific muscle groups and allows for adequate rest and recovery between sessions.

  4. Supersets: This involves performing two exercises back-to-back without rest, usually targeting opposing muscle groups. For example, a bicep curl followed immediately by a tricep extension.

  5. Drop sets: This involves performing an exercise at a high weight, then immediately reducing the weight and performing more reps. This technique can help increase muscle fatigue and promote muscle growth.

  6. High-intensity interval training (HIIT): This involves alternating between periods of high-intensity exercise (such as sprinting or jumping) and periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. This can be a useful way to improve cardiovascular fitness and burn fat while maintaining muscle mass.

These are just a few examples of bodybuilding workouts, and there are many different approaches and variations that can be used depending on individual goals and preferences. It's important to vary your workouts and use proper form and technique to reduce the risk of injury and maximize results.


What types of food do bodybuilders eat?

Bodybuilders typically follow a diet that emphasizes protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to support muscle growth and recovery. Here are some examples of foods commonly included in a bodybuilding diet:

  1. Protein sources: Chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef, eggs, dairy products (such as milk, cheese, and yogurt), tofu, tempeh, and legumes (such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas) are all good sources of protein.

  2. Carbohydrate sources: Whole grains (such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread), fruits, vegetables, and starchy vegetables (such as sweet potatoes and squash) are all good sources of carbohydrates.

  3. Healthy fats: Nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, and fatty fish (such as salmon) are all good sources of healthy fats.

  4. Supplements: Some bodybuilders may also use protein powders, creatine, and other supplements to support their muscle-building goals.

In general, bodybuilders aim to consume a diet that provides adequate protein to support muscle growth and repair, along with enough carbohydrates and healthy fats to provide energy and support overall health. It's important to focus on nutrient-dense whole foods and avoid processed foods and sugary snacks, as these can provide empty calories and may not support optimal health and performance. Additionally, staying properly hydrated by drinking plenty of water is important for overall health and muscle recovery.


How important is sleep and recovery for a bodybuilder?

Sleep and recovery are crucial for bodybuilders, as they play a key role in muscle growth, repair, and overall health. Here are some reasons why sleep and recovery are important for bodybuilders:

  1. Muscle repair and growth: During sleep, the body releases hormones, such as human growth hormone, that promote muscle growth and repair, and the muscles themselves undergo repair processes. This is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass.

  2. Injury prevention: Sufficient rest and recovery help to prevent injuries by allowing the body to recover from the stress of intense training.

  3. Energy and performance: Adequate sleep and recovery help to restore energy levels and improve performance during workouts, allowing for greater focus, strength, and endurance.

  4. Immune function: Sleep and recovery are essential for immune function, as the body uses this time to repair and regenerate cells, tissues, and organs.

  5. Mental health: Rest and recovery are also important for mental health, as they can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and support overall well-being.

To support sleep and recovery, bodybuilders should aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night, avoid caffeine and other stimulants before bedtime, and establish a regular sleep schedule. Additionally, incorporating rest days into their workout routine and allowing for proper recovery time between workouts can help prevent overtraining and support optimal performance and muscle growth.


Bodybuilding conclusion

In conclusion, bodybuilding is a sport and lifestyle that involves a combination of resistance training, cardiovascular exercise, and a nutrient-dense diet to build and shape muscle while reducing body fat. It requires discipline, dedication, and hard work, but can offer numerous physical and mental benefits, including improved strength, endurance, and overall health. While bodybuilding may not be suitable for everyone, it can be a rewarding pursuit for those who are committed to their fitness goals and willing to put in the effort and time necessary to achieve them. As with any exercise program, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a bodybuilding regimen and to use proper form and technique to reduce the risk of injury.


About the Author

J.P. Brice founded IRON COMPANY in 1996 and is currently President and CEO. He began weightlifting in 1984 at the age of 14 and by the age of 25 turned his passion for bodybuilding, powerbuilding and fitness in general into one of the webs first and leading gym equipment suppliers for residential, commercial and Military buyers. He holds numerous Patents and Trademarks on various gym equipment products and is the lead designer of IRON COMPANY branded free weights and strength training equipment. J.P. is responsible for much of the main product page content as well as several in depth gym equipment and flooring articles. Today he works extensively with the US Military in providing the equipment necessary for combat readiness.