Bodybuilding, lovely as it is, negatively evolved from health practices and fitness training exercises that ancient civilizations used to keep fit. Professional bodybuilding reaches a glorious termination when a bodybuilder holds the statuette of MR. Olympia, modeled in honor of Eugene Sandow, the father of modern bodybuilding. Nevertheless, before Sandow came by, core bodybuilding exercises had been in practice for centuries among the Greek, Indians, Egyptians, Africans, Americans and many other communities. What Sandow and his followers did was to corrupt those healthy fitness exercises into an entertainment sport.
How did this happen? Let us go over the devolvement eras and see the divorce process of bodybuilding from healthy fitness training exercises.
Health Based Weight Training Era
Weight training was an ancient general athletic activity in many communities. The weight training exercises and equipments used varied, but the intent was similar, amplifying body health and strength for personal reasons. In the ancient Greek and Egyptian societies men initially trained to keep physically fit, agile and strong. They primarily used huge stones to seek bodily development into healthy physiques.
At this time, every man had to seek strenuous physical activities daily as a means of ‘staying a man’. These were combined with supremely healthy diets and natural herbs. There was never any need for physical display as a goal of engaging in the physical fitness exercises.
In India, by the 11th Century we had stone dumbbell weights (locally called Nals) lifted by men who wanted to enhance their physical health and stamina. Note, the most important aim was to help the men overcome numerous challenges that daily activities presented. By the 16th century, physical training gyms became commonplace in the India region and health based weight training, an India’s national hobby.
Health Based Strength Training Era
Soon enough however weight training lost the noble intention of health and stamina and slowly emphasized physique development. Still, the exercises were not meant to develop the body for show but for strength in strongman competitions. This was a healthy dimension too since strength was built up in healthy practices that included proper dieting and daily physical activities.
Nevertheless, the idea of thrilling crowds gradually crept in as men engaged in amazing feats of personal strength. Professional strongman competitions saw weight training intensify from primitive stone lifting practices into psycho lifting sessions within dark dungeons. The physical fitness and strength training practice became hugely popular across Asia.
Although onlooker amusement had crept into the training goals, the exercises were still within the precincts of fitness and body health. Some examples of the fitness exercises included pulling carts, running with weights, lifting animals etc. The physique definition still did not matter.
Bodybuilding for Display Era
For a long time (between 16th and 17th Century) Asians and especially Indians, learnt the essence of training and dieting to develop the body for display purposes. Strongman competitions gained an exhibitive edge and competitors started removing their clothes. The practice was similar across the world communities. Celebrating the human body’s muscular development became a prominent Greek ideal during this time. By the 19th Century, physical exercises were no longer for strength or stamina.
Weight training took on a totally different meaning from the ancient tradition of health based fitness training. New training system evolved and the goal became displaying physiques for entertainment purposes. Europe exacerbated the physical display culture where body symmetry became the aesthetic goal of training and not health or physical fitness. It was this culture that the 20th Century Eugene Sandow met and perfected. Modern bodybuilding where muscle mass display and definition overtook health conscious physical training had been born.
Modern Bodybuilding Era
Modern bodybuilding can be traced perse to around 1890s when Eugene officially crafted a body display sport as a profession. He is thus rightly famed as the grandfather of modern bodybuilding. He was a phenomenon hit as a pioneer in muscle mass and strength accumulation. The competitive sport gradually grew to exclusively feature the best muscle mass in total disregard of physical fitness or of the healthiness of the individual’s practice while gaining that mass. That is the tradition to which we were born and to which some still live.
Muscle Craze Era
Within the modern bodybuilding era, there was three decades that were so profound that they deserve a special mention. Beginning 1960 and up to 1990, muscle mass generation became the greatest craze that ever hit the bodybuilding industry. Anabolic steroids became a staple. Despite the anabolic steroids being grossly dangerous to health, they were used in their tons if only to gain an inch of muscle.
Bodybuilding Health Era
Luckily, we have awoken to the fact that gaining muscle mass and strength should never have to compromise on our health or our physical fitness. There is no reason why I should loose my kidney just to gain a marvelous bicep. Acne, cancer and the hundreds of other side effects of steroids can never be borne just because you want some muscle mass.
The current era in bodybuilding, emphasizes on an individual who trains natural, trains hard not just for muscle but also for a comprehensively healthy body. The idea is to be masculine, healthy and physically fit. Bodybuilding training is slowly returning into the shoes of the primitive art where health and fitness are the driving goals of bodybuilding training.