Has anyone looked at the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine, or Ironman magazine, or Muscle Mag and wondered “Why in God’s name can’t I look like that?” You’ve seen the covers with some of the biggest names in bodybuilding: Arnold Schwarzenegger in his glory days, Ronnie Coleman, Lee Haney, Lou Ferrigno, Kevin Levrone, Flex Wheeler, and more. When you see these IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding) pro covers, you get encouraged and discouraged all at the same time. It’s totally true, these men have AMAZING physiques. But you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to these pros for several reasons.
REASON NUMBER ONE: MOST OF THESE COVER-GRACING, BODYBUILDING PROS ARE NOT NATURAL
Though I didn’t really believe it when I first started training, many of these guys are using steroids, human growth hormone, or some other type of body altering/muscle enhancing drug. That’s part of the reason they look a big and as ripped as the do. When I say part of the reason, I do mean part of the reason. It takes an insane amount of training for these men to get to this level, but hard work alone doesn’t give these guys the edge they need to be champions time after time after time.
If you don’t believe me. Here is a great example. I found this video on YouTube of Ronnie Coleman when he was still doing natural training. Yes he’s still big, but it’s a markedly different type look that juiced-up Ronnie:
REASON NUMBER TWO: BODYBUILDERS EAT TO LIVE
Don’t get too bent out of shape that you don’t look exactly like the guys on the covers. This is their full-time job. For the top people, it’s how they put food on the table. They eat, drink, sleep, and crap bodybuilding. Many of the pros eat between 10 and 12 meals a day. That alone is something that would be hard for most average people to do. Sure it could be done, but it would take quite a bit of effort to make it happen consistently.
REASON NUMBER THREE: IT’S TOUGH TO MAINTAIN ALL OF THAT MASS LONG-TERM
Becoming a bodybuilder takes work, and so to does maintaining all of the muscle that comes with it. Reason number three is a bit more subjective, because tough is relative.
I would much rather get into a firm, low-fat shape (like a Bruce Lee) and be able to maintain it for the rest of my life. Rarely if ever do you find bodybuilders who are still in great shape 15-25 years after their competition days have ended. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule: Lou Ferrigno is still in great shape, Lee Labrada is in amazing shape, and so is Lee Haney (maybe your if your name starts with an L you have a better chance of successfully pulling it off). But how many 70 year olds do you know who are walking around at IFBB pro size? I can’t think of any. Don’t get me wrong, pro bodybuilders deserve all the credit and respect in the world, they’re hard workers and they devote everything to something they’re truly passionate about. What more can you really ask for?
The only ones who should really compare themselves to the pros are those whose goal is to become a professional bodybuilder.
I think the average person should admire these guys, but realistically. When you look at a magazine cover, and see every little, muscular striation of a pro bodybuilder’s frame, or see more cuts than a Thanksgiving Turkey try to keep it all in perspective.
Yes you can ripped, EXTREMELY ripped, but do it on your own terms, in a way that you can be proud of, in a way that suits you personal fitness needs.
Happy muscle building…