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The Fraud of Bodybuilding

By Wesley James

Every bodybuilding magazine, gym owner and self-anointed fitness expert, from the first to this day has presented bodybuilding as if it were a healthy and physically beneficial activity. One of the earliest sells of the bodybuilding life style have closely associated it with the sun and surf of California and, to a lesser extent, Florida. Of course we now know that all that sun causes wrinkles and cancer. Then there's the diet that had for so long been recommended to bodybuilders: Milk, Cream, Raw Eggs, Peanut Butter and Liver Tablets. In sum, a high calorie, high fat, cholesterol laden sludge. This diet made you big but much too fat. To counteract this excess fat build up, at contest time, you ate water-packed tuna, egg whites, an occasional skinless chicken breast and a rarer salad (without dressing). This diet forced your body into ketosis, a cyto-toxic condition where the body cannibalizes its own tissue for the fuel to maintain function. True, it burned more fat than muscle but a good deal of muscle tissue was lost as well.

While the body was being nutritionally abused, the transmitted wisdom of the "experts" told us to perform 3 sets of 8 reps for most body parts, hundreds of sit-ups a day and keep a Monday, Wednesday, Friday workout schedule. This schedule, they promised, would make you huge. When you were training for a contest, however, and your energy level was already taxed by a near-zero carb diet, you changed your "get big" workout to 4 to 5 sets of 15 to 20 reps. During this same period, you could cut your poundages a little but you increased the number of different exercises you did. The idea of all this was that you would cut up and detail the muscles.

If all this sounds very familiar and similar to about half the articles you read even today, its no surprise. I call it the "Two steps Forward, One step Back" (TBOF) approach. It works after a fashion. Until the drug era almost every body building star was built this way. That's not the fraud. The out and out lie is that body building is healthy. It isn't and it never was. Body building is a major source of stress, both local and systemic. Training causes a rise in Cortisol levels directly proportional to its stimulation. Cortisol is among the bodies most powerful catabolic, stress related "hormones". In fact, were it not for the body's survival drive for homeostasis (preservation of the status quo) coupled with the anabolic stimulation of the body's "Specific Adaptive Drive" (SAD), weight training would never yield results. Muscle growth is a triumph of fear over stress. Its amazing that the interplay between two negatives should create muscle which we body builders consider a positive.

It is interesting that the body building magazines, so experienced at distorting reality, haven't found a way to prove that body building increases longevity. Of course it doesn't. You will notice that body builders don't tend to live long lives. There are certainly exceptions but they are just that, exceptions that prove the rule. Bodybuilding can make the quality of life in later years better because muscle wasting is a serious cause of diminished mobility and strength with advancing years. If the toll of the stress created by the process and the free-radicals produced by the ketosis of dieting haven't ravaged your system, you might live a more active, if shorter, life.

Now if all this sounds like bad news and an argument to stop your body building efforts, nothing could be farther from the truth. What it argues for is the application of wisdom to the process. Instead of blindly following the misguided pseudo-science of the self-proclaimed cognoscenti of body building use your mind. Investigate the processes of muscle building, strength enhancement, fat metabolism and cardio-vascular fitness. Learn how to produce maximum results with minimum stress. Learn how to off-set the ravages of stress and the by-products of fat metabolism with the use of nutritional free-radical and ammonia scavengers. Learn to properly balance stress and growth, leanness and proper nutrition. Its probably too late to argue to the professional bodybuilder that he or she is trading muscular size and low body fat levels for longevity. It is no doubt beyond the point where they can find a healthy prospective. For the rest of us, be assured that one can build an appealing, muscular physique that is both strong and healthy. It only requires that you ignore the liars that care more about your money than your health and the frauds that wouldn't know a healthy practice from an unhealthy one because they are simply repeating the lies of the past. Neither type of individual is worthy of your attention.

In the future, we will continue to explore this subject. We'll be revealing the research that tells us how to be muscular and healthy, strong and fit, lean and properly nourished. Stay tuned.

Copyright © 1996 Physique Tools and Wesley James

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