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Pumping Iron: The Art of Body Building

Jun 26, 2008
While people have always had a concept of beauty, that concept has changed throughout the years. Obese women were once the epitome of sexy because extra weight was a sign of health and hinted at their abilities to bear many children. Tanning booths may be popular now, but paleness was once the most desirable skin tone, as it meant the individual had the luxury of remaining inside, unneeded in the fields.

Until the end of the 19th century, muscles were not really a focal point of attraction; consequently, men and women did not pay much attention to weight training. However, audiences slowly began to appreciate the physique of men during strength demonstrations and wrestling matches, giving birth to the art of body building.

The goal of body building has always been to achieve some physical ideal. In the early years, the Grecian ideal reigned supreme; men crafted their bodies according to the proportions of ancient Roman and Greek statues. Modern bodybuilders aim for muscle development far beyond that of Adonis. The largest, most distinct muscles are the most aesthetically pleasing, and bodybuilders do everything in their power to accentuate their cuts, from tanning and lighting to applying oils and lotions. However, while both the definition of beauty and the ultimate goal of body building have changed, the process of achieving results has remained consistent: nutrition, training and rest.

The Three Steps

Nutrition is integral to any fitness regime, but especially to body building. Without a specialized diet, bodybuilders are unable to grow and repair muscle; they require more calories and more protein. Bodybuilders consumer certain carbohydrates to fuel their bodies, and ingest large amounts of protein to build muscle. Body building athletes should aim at getting almost 30 percent of their calories from protein; while carbohydrates stimulate muscle synthesis, without protein, the body lacks the materials with which to synthesize.

While nutrition provides the building blocks, weight training provides the imagination. Strength training with free weights or elastic resistance results in rapid muscle growth. However, what many people fail to realize is that muscle growth results due to the damage caused by weight training.

When lifting, bodybuilders tear their muscles; these microtraumas are felt as general soreness, called delayed onset muscle soreness. When the body repairs these tears, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, furthering the development of the muscles. Body building, in essence, is a violent sport, and brings a literal connotation to the idea of no pain, no gain.

Rest is the often ignored component of body building. Without rest, muscle growth cannot occur, since muscle development happens during the repairing process, the body must have downtime in order to focus on this work. Without rest, muscles cannot recover; a bodybuilder must plan both gym time for muscle stimulation, and rest for muscle growth. Sleep is a huge factor. Eight hours of sleep per night is essential, and daytime naps help to further increase the body's potential for muscle growth.
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