Bodybuilders look HUGE and often have incredibly vascular muscle. But, does all that size mean anything?
Does bodybuilding make you stronger? Yes! Bodybuilding makes you stronger. In order to build all the muscle a bodybuilder needs, they need to lift really heavy weights. While they aren’t as strong as a powerlifter, they are way stronger than most people.
Let’s get into this and explain it a bit more- because it can be a little confusing with the whole ‘aesthetics vs strength’ concepts.
Bodybuilding Is A Sport About Aesthetics
So, first and foremost- bodybuilding is a sport about aesthetics.
This is where things get confusing, and how the argument about bodybuilders being strong comes up in the first place.
To win a bodybuilding competiton- you are judged on your muscularity and how your physique (body composition) looks. You are NOT and NEVER tested on your actual strength.
This Is How A Skinny Guy WON A Bodybuilding Competition
So, hypothetically, you could walk on stage and win a bodybuilding competition without ever lifting weights at all.
This actually happened in a ‘prank-gone-right’ on YouTube. Someone who went to the gym to stay ‘toned’ and never considered ‘serious bodybuilding’ in their life competed in a local bodybuilding competition and won third place because he had no other competitors.
Now, remember, you aren’t tested on strength, JUST aesthetics. For example, in a powerlifting competition (which we will cover next), you are tested on strength. So you could hypothetically not lift that weight up and LOSE the competition- even if you had no competitors.
- Read: Top 20 Powerlifters
So because he was judged on his body and had no competitors, he literally couldn’t lose and took home a sword!. Here’s the funny video of it:
Now truthfully, that video should be an inspiration to everyone. You don’t need to be the biggest guy in the world to compete or even WIN a competition. And I think this competitor’s confidence alone made his win that much more deserved.
The main takeaway is that in bodybuilding, it’s all about how you LOOK. Not how much you lift. In that video above, they never had any of the competitors pick up weights or do anything like that at all.
So as you see, while the guys on the right may be super strong and the skinny guy may not lift as much as them, he still won.
Powerlifting is a Sport Where Strength Matters
So if you’ve seen videos on Instagram or whatever of people being judged on how much they lift, you’re likely thinking of powerlifting.
Powerlifting is all about judging people on how much weight they actually lift- and their body appearance doesn’t matter at all.
So, you can be literally morbidly obese, but if you lift a ton- you win. That’s why powerlifters tend to have way more body fat (and muscle) than bodybuilders do.
But, You Need To Be Strong To Grow Muscle
So, surely after reading all of this you were probably thinking- “So bodybuilders aren’t strong after all”.
Well, that’s where we gotta slow down and get into the science of muscle building.
To win bodybuilding competitions, you need to look good. To look good, you need to have a ton of muscle and be really shredded.
But- how do we get that muscle?
To get that muscle you need to lift weights. But, you can’t just lift the same weights every day otherwise your muscles stop growing.
To keep growing muscle, you need to keep increasing the weight to actually grow muscle.
This is a concept called ‘Progressive Overload’. You progressively increase the weight, overloading the muscle, which in turn makes your body make the muscle bigger.
It isn’t easy to do this, it takes a lot of hard work, and takes a lot of time.
The point is, you NEED to increase the weight you are lifting, otherwise, you will NOT grow muscle.
So, To Be a Bodybuilder That Wins Big Competitions, You NEED To Be Strong
While the video above demonstrated a technicality based on low people at a bodybuilding competition, the reality is bodybuilding competitions are very cutthroat.
There are just a few ‘big’ competitions- The Arnold Classic, Mr.Olympia, and the IFBB stuff.
- Read: Are Bodybuilders Strong?
I’ll try to keep it simple, but the point is, there are really only 2-3 big stages every 1-2 years where you can show off your progress. This means the competition is FIERCE.
You literally are competing against the best guys in the world. Local bodybuilding competitions really aren’t common at all and typically don’t compensate any of the bodybuilders.
If you’re in this sport to make money (like most professional athletes in basketball or any sport) you’ll want to compete at the higher levels.
The problem is, to get there, you NEED to be very strong to get that muscle. Some of these guys have biceps bigger than people’s heads. These guys can lift a LOT of weight, far more than most people can.
In fact, most bodybuilders can compete with powerlifters quite well. While powerlifters will always have the edge, it’s not like bodybuilders are significantly weaker- they are actually pretty close.
But Technically Speaking…
Technically speaking, you don’t HAVE to be strong to be a bodybuilder to win a competition. But, to win any “real” or “big” competition you’ll have to be very strong.
Compare it to a middle school basketball team versus the NBA. Of course in the middle school basketball team, you can take any joe off the street and they could win a game. And likewise, in the local bodybuilding competitions, the same thing can happen.
But, for the bigger competitions, you’re going to need a pro basketball player- otherwise, they will get stomped. And likewise, you will have to be strong and have worked very hard or you’ll just get stomped in the competition too.
However, there is always an exception to the rule. And the ‘Golden-Era‘ bodybuilders (like Arnold Schwarzenegger) weren’t nearly as strong as you may have thought they were. While they certainly lifted a lot, their numbers kind of look small compared to bodybuilders today.
The point is, they got that muscle by lifting heavy fricken weight- and bodybuilding made them strong.
Conclusion of Does Bodybuilding Make You Stronger?
So that was a LOT of information to take in. Let’s recap:
- Yes, bodybuilding will make you stronger!
- Technically, you don’t ever have to lift weights to win a bodybuilding competition. But for any serious or “real” bodybuilding competiton, you’re going to have to build up a ton of muscle.
- To build up that muscle, you NEED to lift heavier weights in the gym, resulting in you getting stronger.
- Bodybuilders are far stronger than most people.
Thank you for reading!