The first thing that comes to mind for many people when it comes to bodybuilding is an image of an overly muscular man pumping iron and looking unnaturally large. The second term, commonly associated with bodybuilding is steroids. Though not many understand as to what goes into a sport like bodybuilding, steroids are quick to be negatively associated with this sport. So what is bodybuilding?
It all began with the father of modern bodybuilding himself. Eugen Sandow was one of the earliest people to show off the human physique at its best during the late 1800s and early 1900s. He developed a passion for the sport at the age of 10 and went on to demonstrate his body in many circus shows, the only avenue then which was available for this sport. His show of physique, musculature and aesthetic body was the early foundations of bodybuilding as we know it today. After this brief stint, he began training strongman under the tutelage of Ludwig Durlachar in the late 1880s when the latter recognized Eugen’s potential for strongman. Eugen had a successful career until his death in 1925.
Sandow’s legacy was the beginning of what modern bodybuilding is today. Arnold Schwarzenegger cited Eugen as one of his idols alongside Reg Park. Arnold went on to become one of the most successful and well-known bodybuilders in the world with many other competitors following suit like Ronnie Coleman whose physique in his prime was said to be unachievable by any human. Franco Columbu, Arnold’s partner in crime was also one of the biggest names in the golden age of bodybuilding and is still looked up to today for his impressive physique.
Bodybuilding is a showcase of what the human body is capable of looking like. It is not only restricted to men but also women. There are various divisions and weight classes that one can compete in such as Bodybuilding, Physique (Men and Women), Classic Physique, and Figure. Bodybuilders don’t just lift a bunch of weights but have to go through a serious process of consistent training for hours on end followed by a structured nutrition plan. Dedication, hard work and learning are at the core of this sport as bodybuilders are far from “meatheads”, a derogatory term denoted to those who only lift weights without any knowledge or aim in sight.
Steroids make up about one of the many factors that affect bodybuilders. They have to have good genetics to start in the sport, train consistently and prepare themselves mentally and physically before the contest. All steroids do is give them the ability to look bigger and train harder for lifting heavy weights. This completely deflates the fact that all one needs to do is inject steroids for bigger muscles. Physique competitions require the most natural-looking physique without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) which completely rules out steroids and is also drug tested to make sure nobody is cheating.
Bodybuilding is definitely a sport for those who can show off the human aesthetic capacity. Muscles and aesthetics are what is visible on stage. A bodybuilder behind the scenes undergoes months and years of exercising, eating right, using the right supplements and posing techniques that help them get on the stage to become one of the best. In a country like India, bodybuilders sometimes have to supplement their income by working other jobs which makes it even difficult as India has an amazing talent when it comes to bodybuilding.
Women in India are judged for participating in this sport, often being told that they will look manly, or throwing slurs for being part of a sport that emphasizes on what Socrates once said: “No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training… what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable”. Every human muscular or skinny shouldn’t be judged and bodybuilding encourages healthy living irrespective of race, sex or caste. This sport has gained worldwide traction and India having some of the best talents in many sports will one day produce competitors for Mr. Olympia; the Olympics of bodybuilding.