Bodybuilding is a sport we all love. For the most part, it is safer than something like football where you are running into another person at full speed. And definitely way safer than wrestling where injuries are much more common.
However, bodybuilding certainly has its dangers. In this article we will be covering these 5 Bodybuilding Dangers:
- Severe “Cuts” (Caloric Deficits)
- Heart Problems
- Back Injuries/Damage
- Kidney Problems
- Performance Enhancers (‘Roids)
These are incredibly complicated topics, so I highly recommend you read on. I will also be covering how to avoid most of these bodybuilding dangers (for the most part) to ensure you have a safe and healthy bodybuilding career.
#5 – Severe “Cuts” (Caloric Deficits) Leading To Stunted Growth and Other Severe Health Issues
The amount of times I’ve seen people go on 800 calorie diets to lose fat and get lean is scary.
Look, going on these super low calorie diets to lose weight is doing way more harm than good.
Sure, you’ll get some fat loss. Along with massive muscle loss, brain/heart/overall organ damage, severe hormonal imbalances, and potentially stunted growth.
I’ve seen people maintain these 800 calorie diets for months on end, and it’s no surprise that their growth gets permanently stunted.
That’s probably why that myth that bodybuilding stunts your growth goes around. People in this sport restrict their body’s nutrition severely for months on end doing a dangerous diet for no reason, and they literally stunt their growth this way. It’s their diet, not the actual weight lifting.
Many bodybuilders suffer from body dysmorphia– where they genuinely cannot see their body as attractive and will do anything at any cost to get a more ‘attractive’ body.
I think body dysmorphia is common because we go to a gym with other guys and girls that are more attractive than us. We SURROUND ourselves with those people, and when we don’t look like them, we think we don’t belong there and we aren’t attractive.
In reality, we forget the world we were in before. We forget that most people outside the gym would do anything to look like us, and it’s difficult to remember that. When you are spending 15-20 hours of your life in a gym full of these people, you just get bad thoughts and I think it’s a natural process.
The hard part is dealing with the consequences of those thoughts. I end up seeing a lot of teens restricting their food to basically nothing to get abs, shredded muscles, and more.
The problem is, these diets don’t work. So now the person who is doing it KEEPS continuing the diet even longer to try and force the results- thinking they can’t give up now. Then 4 months later, they are severely anorexic and in need of hospitalization with potential permanent side effects.
One of the biggest bodybuilding dangers out there is these severe cuts. And it doesn’t have to be related to body dysmorphia, it can be a bodybuilder preparing for a competition coming up that mistimed things and needs to lose even more weight.
At these lower weights, we see severe health problems that in my opinion, aren’t worth it. No competition is worth your life, you can’t sign up for the next one if you’re dead, but you can keep signing up if you’re alive.
#4 – Heart Problems
Heart problems are one of the interesting bodybuilding dangers that are getting more famous recently as more studies come out.
Here’s the gist of it: If you’re a natural bodybuilder that isn’t at their genetic limit, you’re likely actually HELPING your heart and boosting your health.
If you’re NOT a natural bodybuilder (ie: taking performance enhancers) or you weigh a ton (300 lbs) you are likely at severe risk of heart disease.
Rich Piana is my idol in bodybuilding and unfortunately passed away due to heart problems himself. He was also very vocal about taking care of our hearts in this sport and listening to our bodies, which most bodybuilders were quiet about.
Rich went against the wave of bodybuilders just staying silent about what this sport does to our body. He was an open-door when it came to this stuff and published all about it in his YouTube videos he uploaded.
I hope that I can carry on his legacy and warn some of you reading this to reconsider those performance enhancers and reconsider being 300 lbs. Is this sport really worth your life?
Remember, you can be a huge bodybuilder at 250 lbs but live as long as everybody else. Or, you can be a huge bodybuilder at 350 lbs, and only live half as long as everyone else. Is taking this sport so extreme worth that 40 years?
Is being so extreme in this sport worth putting that much strain on your heart? Or perhaps this should be your wake-up call. Avoid one of the silent bodybuilding dangers out there, and listen to your body.
#3 – Back Problems
I’m sure if any of you have parents or work with older people, they are always telling you to watch your back as you’re younger.
They’re right. The problem is, when you start incurring a lot of damage on your spine, you aren’t going to feel that until later.
That damage when you’re young doesn’t hurt you. But when you age and your spine gets weaker, you put on more weight, your posture changes, you move less- that back pain comes with a vengeance. Everything you’ve done to hurt your back the past 20 years is now what you deal with on a day-to-day basis.
One of the biggest bodybuilding dangers is spinal damage.
There’s a good reason people are always yelling at people to focus on form instead of weight.
It’s not because we don’t want to see you lift some heavy weight- that’s what we are all here for! We want to boost each other up.
BUT, if you lift too much without the form, you are doing a ton of damage to your spine and other parts of your body that you will pay for in the long run.
Sometimes injuries happen right away with bad form, like tearing your back while doing curls. (Hint: happened to me, it’s when you use too much of your back when curling, I got humbled the hard way)
Point is, MOST back pain/injuries in bodybuilding can be avoided by using good form. There’s a reason that there are so many videos arguing over squat form and comparing numerous studies. People genuinely want to make sure you aren’t hurting your back when you exercise.
(And don’t even get me started on knee problems and knee pain. That’s also avoided with good form!)
For the most part, if you use good form in the gym, you will usually not have to worry about injury unless you are lifting a stupid amount of weight. (stupid as in, you know you can’t be lifting that)
- Read: Are Deadlifts Worth It?
So, stick with good form. There’s no point in cheating a squat or deadlift PR and injuring your back for life. You can always try to hit the PR in 3-7 days when you grow more muscle, and it will be easier to hit anyways.
#2 – Kidney Problems and Kidney Stones
This is one of the LEAST talked about bodybuilding problems, and I’m not sure why.
One of the most famous bodybuilders ever, Flex Wheeler- literally had his leg amputated due to kidney problems amplified by his bodybuilding.
Now, okay, before you have a
heart kidney attack (haha see what I did there?) most of you don’t have MUCH to worry about, but listen up.
- Long term high protein ingestion causes our kidneys to work overdrive. It’s hard for our kidneys to filter out the amount of protein bodybuilders eat.
- Bodybuilders have more frequent kidney stones.
I’m not a big fan of the whole, “Eat 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight”. I think eating 150g-200g of protein is way too much, puts too much stress on our body, and I truthfully just don’t think our body needs that much protein to grow muscle.
I’ve been lifting for years without eating 200g of protein a day (I eat closer to 100grams but I weigh 200 pounds) and I still grow muscle and function normally.
Looking at the reality of it, that much protein is almost bad for our body. Anybody that reads my article above about Flex Wheeler and sees the way his kidneys break down due to his protein consumption will suddenly start thinking in the same boat as me.
That much protein is honestly not doing much for you, and it’s only increasing your risk of severe kidney stones and severe kidney damage.
Now, in Flex Wheeler’s case, he had a pre-existing kidney condition. But, that doesn’t mean that your kidneys can magically handle the protein just fine. Your kidneys also struggle with filtering that much protein and you can literally end up the same way.
So, what are the main takeaways here?
- Don’t eat 200g of protein a day, eat a decent amount, but don’t flood your body with protein.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Our workouts cause us to be very dehdyrated which puts strain on our kidneys and causes stones.
- Eat a balanced diet and try not to drink tons of protein powder as it’s also hard for our kidneys to filter.
#1 – Performance Enhancers (Roids)
Performance Enhancers are one of the worst bodybuilding dangers out there, by far.
In fact, if you take performance enhancers, you will likely experience everything else on this list as a side effect. That’s right, the kidney problems, heart problems, body dysmorphia, back issues, organ problems, et cetera.
Performance enhancers really do a ton of bad for you and there’s good reason most bodybuilders stay far away from them.
For instance, Zyzz, a bodybuilding legend we have all heard of, died in one night just from taking some ‘roids to help him lose weight. He was 22. That’s a short-term example.
Rich Piana, my idol, died of a heart attack, he is an example of long-term performance enhancer use.
Even if you use a little amount, as many golden-era bodybuilders did, there are still many negative health effects that will result from even the tiniest use.
Many bodybuilders today speak out against the use of performance enhancers and natural bodybuilding competitions have been on the rise. I think 10 years ago when we weren’t sure what the human body was capable of- there was a huge interest in being the biggest around.
However, we’ve seen basically the limit of the human body even with performance enhancers these days. Looking at people like Phil Heath on stage, they are basically at the maximum limit humans can ever reach.
Ever since these legends figured out what we could look like at our absolute best, I think a lot of interest dropped in performance-enhanced bodybuilding. The trends show an increase in natural bodybuilding as now it’s more interesting how far we can push our natural body.
So thankfully, we are seeing a decrease in dangerous performance-enhanced bodybuilding and an increase in safer bodybuilding.
That’s the way it should be. Safer bodybuilding for all so we can all achieve our dream bodies without having to worry about the health risks.
But remember, any time of performance-enhanced bodybuilding has severe health risks, and should be avoided at all costs.
Conclusion of 5 Bodybuilding Dangers
Bodybuilding is a fun sport that we typically don’t associate with injury like we do a sport like wrestling. However, there are some bodybuilding dangers we need to stay aware of to stay safe.
Everything on this list is generally perventable. Safe eating habits, safe lifting habits, and good choices will go a long way in making sure you can enjoy the sport without having to risk your life over it.
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or comments please send them below and I will get back to you as soon as possible!