Tag Archives: weight lifting

Bodybuilding Vs. Weight Training

I suppose I’m at that stage in my life now where it seems almost weekly where celebrities, athletes, and other famous people I grew up with are now starting to leave us. A little over  a month ago a man that most people outside of the strength training and bodybuilding worlds would not even recognize passed away without nearly as much the attention as the “Godfather of Fitness” Jack LaLanne had when he passed in 2011. His name is Joe Weider and chances are you’ve seen, read, or at the very least heard of his publications (Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Shape magazines among others); his international bodybuilding contests (Mr. Olympia, Ms. Olympia, etc.); his lines of strength equipment and supplements.  But what people aren’t aware of is Joe Weider is credited with not only bringing the sport of bodybuilding to worldwide attention, but he is the one, if not, the only reason we have Arnold Schwarzenegger here in America.

My First Weight Set

My early lifting days involved using the kind of things that are almost en vogue today: cinder blocks, railroad ties, clothes line props, tree branches, monkey bars, small tires, etc. But once I got serious, my first weight set was a Joe Weider starter set. The barbell was metal but clothed in plastic. The plates were also plastic but filled with sand (other sets were filled with concrete). The bench was small, but adequate and had a built in rack with a leg extension/leg curl attachment. It was my first gym in the basement of my house and as I progressed into puberty, me and one of my best friends in life lifted in his mom’s garage with multiple Joe Weider sets.  What was my goal back then? To be big and muscular of course.  While I never had aspirations to join a bodybuilding contest, I liked the way I felt, the way I looked, and the fun I had lifting weights. As it turns out, fitness became my career and I still play with weights almost everyday – but I’ve advanced from the concrete filled plastic plates.

Beyond Bodybuilding

Over the years, I’ve evolved the way I train and the way I think.  The bodybuilding style of training moved to more fitness style training to more athletic style training to more functional style training and so forth.  I went from admiring the obviously overgrown and overblown physiques in the magazines to affectionately  calling Muscle and Fitness magazine Muscle and Fiction due to the extraordinary amounts of articles and advertising all funded by the supplement companies. With age came wisdom and with experience came a better way to accomplish the same task with less. As a fitness professional, I’ve seen numerous times over the years people who approach weight lifting like a bodybuilder, yet one – they don’t want to be a bodybuilder;  two, they don’t want to adopt the lifestyle of a bodybuilder; 3 – despite all that, they still expect to look like a bodybuilder. Not going to happen.  But is there a difference between bodybuilding and weightlifting?

Beyond The Science

With bodybuilding, the goal is simple – increased muscular size (hypertrophy) and definition. With weight training, you can also certainly accomplish both goals but the difference lies in the approach.  A bodybuilder will attack or train a specific muscle group (i.e.chest) or two during a training session in as many ways as possible to get as much dedicated work to the muscle group(s) as possible. An everyday exerciser going to the gym to lift weights is not going to train with the intensity or training protocol that a bodybuilder is going to train with nor should they. Why? Because they don’t want to be a bodybuilder.  They may think they do but they really don’t. Beyond the discipline of the weight room comes the discipline to the strict eating regimen and while I won’t discuss the pharmacology of bodybuilding for the purpose of this article, bodybuilding is an activity, like training for a marathon, that has specific protocols and techniques. Same holds true whether male or female.

A large majority of women still shy away from the weight training thinking it will make them look like a bodybuilder.  That couldn’t be further from the truth. Number one, most women don’t have enough naturally circulating testosterone. Number two, there isn’t enough protein that can be healthfully ingested to create such an anabolic environment in the body. Number three, most women are not going to lift the sheer amount of weight repeatedly to create such mass. Weightlifting, resistance training, or weight training, no matter what you want to call it, has a benefit to us all.

My point is this.  Weight training is a powerful, wonderful exercise with amazing benefits for both sexes. If you don’t want to be a bodybuilder, then don’t train like one.  Lift heavy, lift hard, and lift with intensity but lift with a purpose. And to Mr.Joe Weider, thank you for your ingenuity and contributions to our health and fitness community.  We will continue to carry on strong.


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better





Exercise: Risk Vs. Reward

Exercise has become very complex over the years, so much that even Webster’s definition of the word has so many meanings.  For the discussion of this post, I’m of course referring to exercise as a means of physical exertion, or as one of the many definitions of the word Webster’s describes as “bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness”.  Today, there are literally thousands of ways to get exercise yet we still find just as many excuses as to why we don’t. With physical fitness being one of, if not the top way of having some control over our health, perhaps it’s more a question of our preconceived notions of exercise are all wrong.

No Longer A Leader

According to a report from the World Health Organization back in January 2013, the U.S. ranks last among 17 countries in terms of health and are not based on longevity of life, but across the lifespan. We excel at the number of preventable deaths: heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, obesity; and tragically there is little competition with regards to deaths by homicide or accidents. Life happens, accidents happen, but neither is an excuse for throwing caution into the wind when something as simple as moving can go a long, long way towards improving your health. With today’s knowledge and resources, there is really no excusable reason for us not to be exercising. So the next question is, are we even doing the right exercise?

The Quick And Easy Answer

The right exercise is any exercise.  Any physical movement above and beyond what you do on a daily basis can be considered exercise. Where some of the confusion permeates is from self proclaimed gurus who have the “one and only end all to end all exercise” programs or cult-ish driven exercise beliefs that brainwash its followers as if they are the only ones who know what they are doing. The truth is there is no such thing as a bad exercise.  There are however exercises applied improperly and with bad technique or instruction.

Risk vs. Reward

The only two questions you need to ask yourself are: 1) what is the reward/goal/outcome of my chosen activity (exercise), and 2) what are the risks? Pretty simple, yet with all of the choices at your discretion, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in what’s cool versus what’s safe and effective.  Sure, there are exercises that are better for a specific goal (i.e. weight lifting to build strength), but in the end the only thing that really matters is that you keep your body moving, doing something you hopefully enjoy, and thus consistently. Try new programs; experience other disciplines; step out of your comfort zone. No matter what you do, the reward certainly outweighs any risk of not doing anything.


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.