Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding includes weight training and increasing caloric intake in order to build muscle mass. Many people compete in bodybuilding competitions, and they are judged on the physical appearance of their muscles. It began as a sport only for men in the i890s. The first popular bodybuilder was Eugene Sandow (i867-i925), who organized the first bodybuilding contest on September i4, i90i in London. Sandow and an entire following generation saw bodybuilding as both aesthetic enhancement and body strengthening. What they created was a new masculine ideal: The shaped body rather than the athlete's lithe but strong body. By the 1970s, women began to partake in competition as well. Evidence of the growth in the popularity of bodybuilding for women can be seen in the number of magazines devoted to the subject, such as Muscle, Fitness Hers and Oxygen, on the shelves at bookstores today.

In order to be successful, bodybuilders must closely monitor their nutritional intake. Because bodybuilders exert large amounts of energy, they generally require between 500 and 1,000 more calories per day than the average person. Bodybuilders also need to maintain a low percentage of body fat and a high percentage of muscle to obtain the physical appearance ideal in their sport.

Protein is essential for building muscle mass. Whey protein is the most commonly used protein supplement among bodybuilders because it is absorbed and metabolized by the body at fast rates. Many bodybuilders consume meal replacement products (MRPs) which provide the calories and nutrients that would generally be consumed in a meal. While these are usually powdered drinks mixed with milk, juice, or water, sometimes MRPs come in bar form. MRPs are generally low in fat, have a modest amount of carbohydrates, include vitamins and minerals, and, most importantly, are high in protein.

Many bodybuilders also use thermogenics, another form of dietary supplement. Thermogenics increase metabolism through heat generation, resulting in the loss of fat. Bodybuilders use these in order to reduce their total body fat. Natural products with thermogenic qualities include caffeine and ginger.

Because bodybuilding is a sport in which weight must be controlled, it is considered a "high risk" sport for developing an eating disorder. In addition, the bodybuilding community centers on body image, which can also make bodybuilders more vulnerable to eating disorders. A new study by Amanda Gruber found that female bodybuilders are more likely to suffer from eating disorders and distorted body images than other females. Many male and female bodybuilders have a disorder known as the eating disorder/bodybuilder type (ED/BT), which involves a diet high in protein, calories and low in fat. They also suffer from muscle dysmorphia, a disorder in which they view themselves differently, generally smaller than they really are. Many male athletes, especially bodybuilders, believe that they have smaller muscle mass than they actually do. It is estimated that 10 percent of men in any intense gym setting have muscle dysmorphia.

Bodybuilders are judged on the physical appearance of their muscles, and, therefore, are encouraged to focus on body image. Bodybuilders, as well as other athletes, tend to use dieting to achieve the body type that will help them be effective competitors in their sport. Where that fails, selective silicone or saline implants may be employed.

SLG/Mary Standen

See also Atlas; Men; Sports

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