It’s always an interesting conversation when I have a client who says to me “I don’t want to get BIG. You know… not like a Body-builder.”
As if body-building is viewed as some kind of perverse obsession.
Body-building simply means building your body… which naturally means strengthening your body by building muscle.
All functions of the body require muscle to perform. When I see someone struggling to open a door, or to climb a step, or to securely hold their dog’s leash, I think about the strength that such functional movement requires, and the need to “build” and maintain appropriate musculature to successfully perform life’s tasks.
If one is struggling to perform some of those tasks, then yes – they need to “body-build”. Regardless of age or sex, muscular strength is necessary to enjoy a high quality of life.
Taking the need for functional strength one step further then starts to move an exercise program into aesthetic body-building… again, not necessarily into Superhero proportions (since really, how often in your life are you going to have to right an overturned bus?)… but nonetheless into programs that are designed to enlarge musculature beyond “functional strength” and into a more athletic, defined shape.
(Image: “When Superheros stop Body-building.”)
In the process of getting into better “condition”, which is a goal that I hear frequently, most of my clients also state their ambition to get into better “shape”. To my ears as a fitness trainer and strength coach, “better condition” equates to better performance in life’s activities while “better shape” implies improved muscle definition and ultimately appearance.
As those same clients who described a disdain for body building continue to progress their conditioning programs with me, muscle definition naturally begins to reveal itself in the mirror… it’s simply a by-product of becoming more fit. It brings a smile to my face as I listen to them describe the pleasure of watching the muscles in their biceps and triceps work, observing the definition in their quads as they lunge or do step-ups, and seeing an outline of abdominals under their shirt. It’s an exciting moment for sure.
And that is generally my cue for welcoming him or her, regardless of age, into the world of natural body-building!