BLOG FITNESS, NUTRITION, STRENGTH
June 13, 2014
Afraid of Looking like a Bodybuilder?
A couple weeks ago I wrote an article about looking like celebrities. The moral of that story was this: if you want a ridiculous physique you have to train a ridiculous amount and eat ridiculous foods. Knowing this, you should modify your goals and expectations to match the effort you are willing to give.
This aforementioned topic leads nicely to a commonly cited fitness fallacy: dancing gives you muscles like a dancer, and bodybuilding gives you muscles like a bodybuilder.
The above statement could not be farther from the truth, but it is understandable why people would think that way. One thing is clear, both dancers and bodybuilders are outliers of exercise. Attaching your goals and expectations to them can lead to fear and disappointment. Take a look at this body builder:
This is Iris Kyle, and she is a 9-time winner of Mrs. Olympia. She is a body builder. That means she lifts weights. Does it make sense that if you lift like she does, then you will end up with these muscles?
No... You know that body builders lift weights, but that is not all they do. If a bodybuilder wants to be competitive at the elite level, they need to adhere to a finely tuned regimen of proper diet, incredible volumes of exercise, and cycles of steroid use. Given this, it is not fair to say that weight lifting will make you look like a body builder. Yet, if you fear that lifting will make you (the ladies) more masculine, you will miss out on the incredible benefits of strength training. Do you know who else does body building? Rachel McLish:
She was that first Mrs. Olympia back in 1980. This is a photo of her at 52 years old! Again, she lifts weights! She also eats well and controls her diet. But she is not on the steroid regimen that competitive bodybuilder’s must be by necessity. I ask to the ladies - how would your desire to lift weights change if you attached the image of strength training to Rachel McLish instead of Iris Kyle?
Men are no different, but often times their goal is to get as masculine as possible (clearly not everyone is in this boat.) To look like Mr. Olympia, you have to lift a lot of weights, control your eating, and plan your “supplement” cycles. A normal routine will not produce Mr. Olympia results. Take a look at Arnold… He was very open about his steroid use (before his entry into politics). A regular guy with any training routine will not look like this.
But that is OK! Lifting weights for both men and women can help them achieve the toned look they are going for. Men will build muscle much faster than women, and even so it comes on frustratingly slow. Ask any man who has tried to put on muscle… it takes a lot of work. Ladies, to put on muscle, you will have to work very hard.
If we look at dancers, both professional men and women in ballet have incredible physiques. Part of this is because of the training. Much of this is because the shorter or thicker individuals could not make it elite level given the appearance standards of the industry. The ones who fit the mold will excel.
I won’t take the time to dive into the incredible rates of eating disorders among elite dancers, but suffice to say we should acknowledge its existence and let it influence our evaluation of how one can achieve a specific physique. Aside from the eating, many dancers are moving and dancing for 8-10 hours per day. That is an incredible amount of calories, and they are outliers in regard to exercise quantity. Many group fitness classes that involve dancing or dancing movements have gained incredible popularity, like Zumba and Barre. I have heard many participants stated that they participate because they want muscles like a dancer, and it happens to be challenging and fun. I say ditch the expectation of the dancer’s muscles and go because it is an awesome workout and they can strengthen their muscles and burn calories. Each person can be a fitter version of themselves by doing any routine. But to expect the result of looking like a dancer can have its consequences… often times it will lead to frustration and disappointment. The same is true for weight lifting. Avoiding weights for fear of looking too masculine can lead to more cardio, less muscle mass, and slower results.
The same rules apply now as they always have… Eat well, exercise (lift weights and do cardio), and take care of your body. You can become a fitter, stronger, or leaner version of yourself, but beware of connecting your goals and fears with the outliers of fitness.