Not all weight training is the same! There are powerlifters, strongmen, bodybuilders, and even people that just focus on Olympic lifts.
So, what is bodybuilding all about?
Bodybuilding is all about ‘building’ the body into a sculpted and perfect physique. It’s NOT about being strong or even lifting heavy weights, it’s about having a body that people admire and awe at. In fact, just because someone has more muscle than another person doesn’t mean they win- it’s actually based on how they look with that muscle (symmetry, not having weak points, etc).
Now, don’t get me wrong- bodybuilders will inevitably have to get strong to put on all that muscle. But if you look at the core concept of it, strength is virtually meaningless in bodybuilding. And that’s why so many of the training concepts are different.
Let’s cover this a little more in-depth.
Bodybuilding is Purely About How The Body Looks
The entire sport of bodybuilding, contrary to popular belief, is actually purely about how the body looks.
A lot of people think it’s about lifting weights or being ‘big’- but this isn’t true. We will cover that in the next section.
When a bodybuilder steps on stage at a competition, they are judged purely on how they look. This includes things like: body fat, muscle definition, poses, and overall appearance.
There is no section or box where you write down how much you lift, and you will never pick up a weight on stage.
This Is Different Than Powerlifting
In powerlifting, you are judged by how much weight you can pull- and how your body looks doesn’t matter. So you can be as fat or as shredded as you want.
As long as you’re able to pull that heavy barbell in your weight class, you’re good.
Furthermore, in Strongman competitions- you are judged on functional strength things like throwing barrels over your head from the ground. Likewise, they do not judge the strongmen for their body- but how much weight they can throw.
Bodybuilding is NOT About Strength, But It’s Kind of Needed
Bodybuilding at its core is NOT about strength, but it’s kind of needed to succeed.
You see, to get all of that muscle definition- you do need to lift heavier weights.
Muscle grows through ‘progressive overload’- meaning that you need to expose your muscles to higher weights so they grow.
If you step onto a bodybuilding stage without muscle and somebody else has a ton of muscle and is shredded, you will lose the competition.
So, in a way- strength is kind of needed.
But, You Don’t Need To Be ‘Strong’
While you will need to have some kind of strength and weight lifting routine, like Arnold’s Blueprint to Mass, you don’t actually need to be ‘strong’ to be a bodybuilder.
To be a bodybuilder, you need muscle.
But, just because you’re strong- doesn’t mean you put on muscle.
Bodybuilders Use a Different Training Process To Put On Muscle- Emphasising Hypertrophy, NOT Strength.
This is the key difference, and ultimately what bodybuilding is all about.
When bodybuilders go into the gym- they don’t just lift heavy things hoping to increase their strength. That’s what powerlifters do.
Bodybuilders work hard to ‘squeeze and strain’ the muscle as hard as they can. When bodybuilders do that, the muscle grows in size and shape, instead of increasing the person’s strength.
Bodybuilders overload the muscle through all kinds of techniques, emphasizing hypertrophy training over strength training.
For instance, a bodybuilder may focus on doing slow, calculated reps- like how you’re instructed to do reps in Calum Von Moger’s Arm Workout.
This forces the muscle to grow in shape and size, again- which is the goal of bodybuilding. To have the perfect ‘physique’ that makes people awe.
Hypothetically, a 150-Pound Bodybuilder Could Win Against a 300-Pound Bodybuilder
Now, just as a disclaimer- many bodybuilding competitions have weight classes. But the Mr.Olympia competition- the biggest bodybuilding competition in the world- doesn’t.
Hypothetically speaking, a 150-pound bodybuilder could win against a 300-pound bodybuilder.
Now, this is less likely to happen because the other guy likely has twice as much muscle as the other guy. But REMEMBER- bodybuilding is about HOW GOOD a bodybuilder looks- NOT the amount of muscle they have.
So, if the 150-pound bodybuilder has a shredded physique that makes everybody wish they had a body like him, and the 300-pound bodybuilder didn’t work out in the right places or lacked in many spots- the 150-pound bodybuilder would win.
It’s a very interesting concept of how bodybuilding works. It isn’t about muscle mass or strength- but how the body looks.
And yes, there have been people that have worked out in the wrong areas and have lost competition over it.
So, What is Bodybuilding All About?
Bodybuilding is all about the physique- how good you look. Muscle, strength, etc do not matter. It’s about how good your body looks. Trying to be symmetrical, ironing out weaknesses, etc- is what it’s all about.