Generation Iron Branch Warren bodybuilding sport

Everybody’s a critic. But are the detractors right about this one?

We’ve all heard the old notions. Bodybuilders are musclebound, arrogant, ignorant individuals. They lack intelligence, they aren’t real athletes. Basically a bunch of ignorant and rash assumptions made by uneducated bystanders, some of which have never even tried their hand at the kind of physical exertion a pro bodybuilder puts themselves through; never had to endure the dedicated diet plan that ensures clean muscle growth. There are those that would demean the whole activity, going so far as to say it’s not a sport at all.

Perhaps the biggest misconception, the most shocking, is that bodybuilders aren’t athletes, that they’re not even participating in a sport. Yeah, you read that correctly. The biggest detractors of bodybuilding can’t even admit that the competitors are athletes much less that bodybuilding is a sport at all. It’s thoughts like this that make you scratch your head. Individuals acquiring skills and traits to allow them to compete in contests of physical exertion against fellow competitors? Check. Staged events? Check. Sanctioned governing body? Check. Call me crazy, but I fail to see how you could discredit bodybuilding as a sport at all.

The argument can be made that the weight training and the diet plans found in pro bodybuilding training is the foundation of many professional sports.The idea of weightlifting and building up specific muscle groups is perhaps the most common elements found in almost every sport in existence. Tell a football player they don’t need to bench press, a track star that weighted squats are useless, a wrestler that deadlifts have no benefits. Each one would tell you how that is utterly insane.

The truth of the matter is that without the right exposure most people will continue to believe bodybuilding is more a form of extreme exercise rather than a legit competition. Perhaps it’s the fact that the true competition takes place behind the scenes during the off season. Competitors put their minds and bodies to the test lifting, eating, and sculpting in hopes of gaining that number one spot. One way to look at it is that the stage is the show, the result of all their hard work, though of course the stage has its own intricate nuances. It’s that off season struggle that makes all the difference. Measuring caloric intake and dedicating time to improving their problem areas. While one competitor works their calves to complete their look, another sculpts their biceps in hopes of outdoing that of their bitter rival’s. It’s a chess game.

So how do we change this thought process? Increased exposure and education is perhaps the key. The more people get to witness a training camp, the more that bodybuilding competitors are able to crossover into the mainstream the more credibility it should garner. There’s no doubt that it’s a sport, one that not many people can compete in. For that fact alone it’s perhaps a very special and unique sport that only the chosen few have a hope to be successful in. Debunking myths and spreading awareness will also go a long way in legitimizing the sport. So many misconceptions exist within the sport that many people are uneducated on the issues. After all, people fear things they don’t understand.

There’s no doubt that bodybuilding is a sport, a competition against talented and hardworking individuals. Nevertheless, even though there is much happening that is bringing bodybuilding into the light there’s still a long road to travel to ensure that the sport can be held in the same regard as football, baseball and the like. It’s going to take time and the education of a lot of hardheaded individuals before we can put the issue to bed. For now let’s keep it simple by answering the original question in one fell swoop: is bodybuilding a sport? Hell yes it is.

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Jonathan Salmon
Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.