Bodybuilding is a type of sport that is mainly based on intense physical exercise with the aim of obtaining strong and well-defined muscles. It is carried out through intense training and anaerobic exercises and is usually performed in gyms.
The main objective of people who practice this sport is to obtain higher definition and muscular symmetry. It means that the leg muscles must be well proportioned with respect to the arms, back, chest, and more.
Nowadays, most of the people linked to this discipline participate in bodybuilding competitions. Many people confuse it with weightlifting, calisthenics, athletics, or powerlifting, but the truth is that it is a different sports activity than them.
In ancient times, specifically in ancient Greece, people had to take care of their physical state since it was almost a mandatory requirement within society. A physically well-defined body was considered a reflection of moral integrity and courage. For that reason, most of the stone sculptures of that time depicted the man with a narrow waist, broad shoulders and back, and powerful thighs and biceps.
It is no coincidence that Greek mythology’s great heroes are symbolized through a physical aspect based on defined muscles. A clear example is Hercules, represented by his extraordinary strength and physical condition.
The Olympic Games began in 776 B.C., where ancient Greek athletes trained their bodies by lifting heavy weights to compete at the highest level. At that time, Greek children developed their musculature in the arena at just 12 years old. Those who were 16 years old already did muscle training through different physical exercises in the gym. It should be noted that at that time, there were no dumbbells and bars. Failing that, they used heavy logs and stones.
Over time, people became more interested in training their bodies to acquire those defined muscles that the Greeks had.
This sports discipline is considered to have begun to be practiced in France in the 18th and 19th centuries. During that time, it was only for the aesthetic appeal of the body. The first to carry out exhibitions where he showed his muscles was Eugen Sandow, who is considered today as the father of modern bodybuilding.
Eugen was known for his obsession with building a physique following the ideals of ancient Greece. He took as an example the proportions of the muscles that the Greek statues had. In this way, he decided to intentionally develop that proportionate musculature with the aim of exhibiting it to the world.
Sandow had a significant influence on people thanks to the books he wrote about nutrition and bodybuilding. He even appeared in movies, marketed fitness equipment, and performed in touring performances across Europe and America to show his body and strength. His whole life was based on that sports discipline, and that led him to create the first bodybuilding contest called “The Great Competition” in 1901 in London. Even the poses used in bodybuilding today are related to Eugen.
Beginning in 1940, bodybuilding began to gain enormous popularity worldwide. At that time, the Golden Age of bodybuilding was born and lasted approximately 30 years, when this sport discipline acquired the most reputation and development.
In 1946 Joe Weider and Ben Weider created the IFBB (International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness) in Montreal. It is an organization in charge of representing Bodybuilding and Fitness sport at an international level.
During the Golden Age, talented people appeared in the history of bodybuilding. Some of them are Vince Gironda, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Reeves, Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, Joe Weider, etc. This sport continued to develop thanks to the creation of new competitions worldwide and a lot of research on nutrition and training that allowed improving the development time of a person’s physique.
The popularity of bodybuilding during the 1950s and 1960s was mainly due to the emergence of new and sophisticated gym equipment. In addition, important competitions related to this sport appeared, such as “Mr. Universe,” Mr. America,” “Mr. Olympia,” and many more. This further increased people’s interest in bodybuilding and encouraged young people to train with weights to develop defined muscles.
The Golden Age mentioned above began to decline in the 1980s and 1990s.
Today, bodybuilding is not only based on competitions held around the world. This sports discipline has encouraged many interested in taking care of their bodies and health to training every day to obtain proper muscular proportions.
The current bodybuilding has changed from that carried out by Eugen Sandow at the time. It is true that the ways to acquire a body with good proportions have changed due to scientific research, specialized nutrition, scheduled breaks, periodization of muscle training, ergonomic aspects, dedicated trainers, etc. However, the results are just as incredible, or even better than those obtained in the Sandow era.
The evolution of this sports discipline has made women also interested in it. The first bodybuilding competitions for women were held in the 1970s. After that, women’s championships began to be created. One of the most important is Ms. Olympia, which was established in 1980.
However, for many people, it was somewhat strange to see women’s bodies too bulky, and for that reason, Fitness Olympia and Figure Olympia were created in 1995 and 2003, respectively. Some women who have excelled in this sport are Cory Everson, Rachel McLish, Lenda Murray, etc.
This sport has specialized in more than 30 bodybuilding categories in which men and women are divided according to their age, weight, and height.