Bodybuilding is a sport or activity in which the primary objective is to develop the size of the skeletal muscles. Bodybuilders focus on other areas as well, such as developing all of the muscles proportionally (symmetrically), minimizing body fat and increasing their strength. Because bodybuilders focus on muscular development, that is the single most dramatic result that they achieve. Strength, for example, tends to take a back seat to size. Though many bodybuilders are very strong, the sizes of their muscles are not clear indicators of strength, as weightlifters with far smaller muscles can often lift more weight than bodybuilders, whose training is specialized to develop maximum muscles size but not necessarily maximum muscle strength.
Bodybuilders show us what the limits of human potential are in terms of muscular development, in some cases exceeding the ideals created by the great artists and sculptors.
While bodybuilding, as suggested by its name, began as a sport that focused on improving ones overall health as well as building the size and strength of one's muscles, that tradition has long been forgotten by many bodybuilders of today.
The use of anabolic steroids to develop maximum muscle size became popular among bodybuilders in the 1960s and 1970s and after that few if any top flight bodybuilders were able to achieve any degree of success without the extensive use of such drugs.
As if that weren't bad enough, bodybuilders soon began to resort to still other drugs in the search for continuing "improvements" to their physiques. Many began to use thyroid hormones to increase their metabolisms and burn fat, to achieve maximum definition.
The us of diuretics became extremely popular so that the competitors could reduce fluid retention to a minimum. Unfortunately, this lead to dire health problems to the point where at least one famous bodybuilder actually collapsed while performing and died.
Consequently, top flight bodybuilders today, despite the appearance they give of great health, are actually the most unhealthy athletes around.
It is a very sad commentary on a sport that began as a means to achieve health and strength.
There are some positive developments in bodybuilding, with "natural" events becoming more popular. But many of these events rely on lie detector tests to screen competitors and no bodybuilding organizations do drug testing year round, so there are entirely too many loopholes for there to be true proof that the winners are drug free.
Nevertheless, practiced without drugs, bodybuilding offers the potential to be an activity that is conducive to lifelong health and strength. Fortunately, medical science, after opposing weight training for decades has finally began to recognize resistance training for the miracle that it is.