Is Bodybuilding a Sport?

Bodybuilding certainly isn’t an activity you normally sign up for through your local high school or activity center.

Or- is it? These days, a lot of schools across the nation are letting kids sign up to bodybuild and weight train and actually compete. And more and more documentaries, streaming platforms, and TV channels are picking up and showing bodybuilding competitions live.

So, is bodybuilding a sport? Yes! Bodybuilding is a sport. It’s no different than other sports where you workout your body, train hard, perfect your craft, and then compete against others for a prize. It’s just more ‘independent’ of a sport, similar to sports like wrestling.

Let’s cover this more in-depth.

What is The Definition of a Sport?

The official definition of a sport according to Oxford Languages, is, “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”.

Let’s break that down.

Basically what they’re saying is, a sport is when you are moving, sweating, and using skills you’ve learned to compete against others.

Now, how does that relate to the sport of bodybuilding?

Let’s break it down step by step and explain how bodybuilding fits the description.

Physical Exertion in Bodybuilding

Physical exertion is one of the most critical components of the definition of a sport. That’s what separates things like video games from being an official sport- there’s just not really physical exertion involved. (although, video games certainly prove the mental skill of someone!)

Bodybuilding is all about physical exertion!

Bodybuilders train very hard in the gym. In my opinion, way harder than other sports. It takes a lot to consistently go to the gym 2 hours a day for days on end and push yourself to the limit.

Remember, you cannot grow muscle without pushing yourself, so no gym session is ever ‘easy’.

But, when you are actually competing as a bodybuilder, it’s a ton of physical exertion as well.

You need to be flexing every muscle, holding that, moving, and posing. These competitions can be very long. It’s no different than wrestling and holding your opponent on their back, you need to hold that position and use your muscle.

It’s also just like football where you have to run a super long distance without stopping to make a touchdown. These bodybuilders are holding those muscles for such a long time most of them start sweating and panting on stage.

Now, in sports, you frequently do conditioning and stuff beforehand. It’s the same in bodybuilding, except your conditioning is the gym.

So, we’ve now checked that off the list. Bodybuilders have to do the physical exertion part, and sometimes it’s even harder than other sports.

Skill in Bodybuilding

Now, a sport involves skill.

MLB players in baseball and NFL players in football aren’t just randomly picked off of the street. They have intense skill above most players in the world.

It’s the same thing in bodybuilding.

There’s a good reason you regularly see people like Aaron Rodgers in Football- he’s good at what he does and people can barely compete with him.

Similarly, there’s a good reason you always see famous bodybuilders like Phil Heath or Dorian Yates on stage, they’re good at what they do and people can barely compete with them. That’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger was uncontested for such a long time.

To pose correctly takes proper coaching, training, and practice. If you take a regular person who workouts, they can certainly pose and flex on stage- right? But nothing in comparison to a professional bodybuilder.

Just like if you took a random person to play in the Superbowl, they would get demolished.

These professional bodybuilders spend hours a day perfecting poses, training their routines, and more.

Bodybuilders Real Skill Is Building Actual Ripped Muscle In The Gym

Take a sport like wrestling for example. Wrestlers aren’t in a team sport, they cannot just roll with whatever their team is doing and play it off if they aren’t individually good at the game.

Wrestlers are independent and compete directly against another opponent. If they cannot hold their own and train in their own time, they will lose.

This means that wrestlers must practice their skills independently, away from the game. They have to spend countless weeks perfecting their skill, because they have nobody to rely on.

It’s similar to bodybuilding. Bodybuilders spend forever perfecting their own craft in the gym, learning how to maximize their muscle growth. Each professional bodybuilder has a ‘secret’ exercise that other bodybuilders don’t do. It’s what sets them apart.

Bodybuilding is a sport that involves a ton of skill. It isn’t just mindless picking up weights and setting them back down. (as much as I wish it was!!)

Competition in Bodybuilding

A big part of a sport is the actual competition aspect of it.

In sports like football or baseball, you have teams that compete against each other, but in bodybuilding, it’s a little different.

In bodybuilding, you get on a stage where you are judged by a panel of judges on things like how muscular you are, how well you are posing, how clean/professional you look, et cetera.

A bodybuilding competition is closer to that of a cheerleading or dance competition. You are being judged on things and then compared to other teams.

Bodybuilding has one of the most competitive aspects of any sport out there. This is because of how individualized it is. If you lose something in bodybuilding you know that it was your fault, it wasn’t your team member’s fault- you can’t shift the blame at all, it was you.

These bodybuilders spy on their competitors in the gym before competitions, stalk their social media pages, gossip, etcetera. The sport of bodybuilding is SUPER competitive.

Bodybuilders in these competitions win tons of money, medals, worldwide recognition, etcetera. There are tons of movie opportunities and more ways to get exposure after being in bodybuilding competitions.

Point is- bodybuilding has a super competitive spirit, has worldwide renowned competitions such as Mr.Olympia/the Arnold Classic, and is actually really interesting to watch.

Conclusion Is Bodybuilding a Sport?

That was a lot to take in, so here’s what you need to know:

  • Bodybuilding IS a sport!
  • Bodybuilding has a lot of physical exertion involved.
  • Bodybuilding has a lot of skill involved.
  • Bodybuilding is super competitive and has lots of world renowned competitions!

Thank you for reading!

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