By Larry Kay
Bodybuilding contests have been the tried and true way to determine who has the best physique. But is there a criteria that is applicable to most people? A perfect peak on show day is a magnificent achievement. However for the majority of people how you look every day of the year is more relevant than a short peak. What about a yearly average, a decade average, or even a Lifetime Fitness Average?
Bulking up is part of bodybuilding. It’s hard to gain size if there are not extra calories. Many top bodybuilders today get very heavy in the off season. It’s believed to result in big gains when they lean down but it necessitates being heavy or bloated most of the year. This is not a great model for most trainees.
Many ‘bulkers’ stay heavy for years in a perpetual bulking cycle. The worse part of all is with increased fatness these deluded bodybuilders look bad most of the time. Often an egotistical connection to a number fools them into thinking weighing more means progress. Body weight and workout poundages are never a direct correlation to how much it’s helping the physique. The mirror and especially photographs are much more accurate measures of progress. A higher body weight means nothing if it’s mostly fat.
Some lighter power lifters lift huge weights so a big lift may not mean great results unless the lift is the goal and not the physique. Even if progress is made from bulking way up it is usually lost again when the lifter drops all that weight to get lean. Many a bodybuilder has gained crazy amounts of weight then leaned back out only to find themselves in the same place they started with no gains. The reason for this is anytime someone losses weight they also lose muscle to some degree. If a large amount of weight needs to be lost this can and usually results in the loss of a fair amount of muscle, negating most gains.
Staying within 5% over contest weight results in much better progress. Being leaner in the summer helps cool the body and a little more body fat helps retain heat in the cold and looks better in winter clothes. A yearly cycle prevents extreme build up of body fat and results in quality gains especially after the peak of the leanest time of the year.
If a bodybuilding show is a sprint what about the longer distance race? How long can a bodybuilder stay in shape? It would not be beneficial to stay in show shape all the time but relevant condition to the yearly cycle.
The peak of a bodybuilding contest is a great measure of success but should be balanced against the Lifetime Fitness Average. Some reach great levels in a short time only to fall out and spend most of their lives in terrible shape. Others may not reach such an advanced peak but stay in great shape for decades. One is celebrated and the other completely ignored. Possible the Lifetime Fitness Average is much more relevant and needs to be taken into more consideration when evaluating fitness.
The truly greats have both great peaks and a great Lifetime Fitness Averages. Frank Zane 3 time Mr. Olympia achieved the apogee of bodybuilding and has stayed in great shape his whole life overcoming serious injuries.
The Lifetime Fitness Average is a different way to look at fitness and working out. There are no award ceremonies no definitive placement by the judges. A matter of self definition is not to have a great physique for a day but to have a great physique every day.
Larry Kay is a certified Zane Trainer in Scottsdale, Arizona. Visit his website at www.LarryKayFitness.com