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History of Bodybuilding


Bodybuilding is defined as the use of progressive resistance training to make muscles develop. It is making use of weights, of dumbbells, barbells or machine stations. It also relies on a different, special nutrition that helps the body recover from the effort and create new, stronger muscular fibres.

Bodybuilding is not only about masculinity and power – it is also a competition, sometimes only with the self. It has health benefits, but also improves one’s self esteem. A small number of all bodybuilders get to the pro level, competing for money.

The Ancient Roots of Bodybuilding

Originally from Ancient Greece and later developed as a sport in the 11th century India, bodybuilding is by no means a passing trend, but a classic aspiration. The Grecian standard represented by the statues that survived to this day was the most appealing back then, as it is today. The Antiquity valued sport and body development. The same happened in the middle Ages – not in Europe but in India. There, men used weights made of stone to strengthen and enlarge their muscles.

The 19th Century

Its modern era seems to have started in the 19th century in Europe and we do have photos of bodybuilders from that time (Eugen Sandow, Oscard Attila). In the beginning, men relied on good genetics, which is also relevant today. Attila founded a training school in Brussels and Sandow started using barbells and dumbbells. The latter soon gained the title of “the World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man”. Sandow died in 1925, but by then he had already taken part in contests, used special diets, devices and magazines to further his progress. If you’ve seen the Mr Olympia statuette given to the competition winner, know that it is made in the resemblance of Sandow.

Present Times

Modern day bodybuilding, its methods, standards and contests stem back from the 1940s. John Grimek, a weightlifter, used to compete against different other athletes, but his development was always superior. That was when weightlifting got a life of its own. Before Arnold Schwarzenegger, the star was Steve Reeves (the 1950s). His muscles had real definition, proportion and mass. His balanced physique and his acting jobs made him world famous.

The ‘mass monster’ trend started in the 1960s. Since then, due to the many competitions around the world, the elite bodybuilders started to gain more and more mass to break the records and win prizes. The bodybuilding culture started being driven by the desire to win, a trend which continues to this day.

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