What is it that keeps bodybuilders dedicated to obtaining physically extreme conditions? They some how find gratification in constant self-torture and disruption – starvation and overeating, microscopic destruction and rebuilding, injury and rehabilitation, restraint and self-indulgence.
Could the brain’s reward systems be so demented? It must be deeper. It doesn’t matter how generous your life has been, the act of building a greater body can become a parallel lease on life – a new opportunity to rein control and feel pleasure. Conceivably it’s how bodybuilding mimics the very stages of life: birth, coming of age, struggle, maturation and death.
A bodybuilder is born when the lifestyle consumes a vulnerable host. Appreciation for the ability to take control of body composition is grasped, self-fulfillment seems easily attainable. Obtaining a strong and lean body symbolizes health and success – professional and personal. Extreme muscular size and definition becomes a primary goal. The union of everyday living and bodybuilding is nurtured with a reallocation of time and energy. Recreational athletes accept an idea of general fitness for well being; bodybuilders have a perpetual thirst for extreme muscularity.
A bodybuilder comes of age once athletic innocence is lost – extreme results will only occur in the presence of extreme measures. Simply going through the movements is not going to cut it. What has been achieved must pale in comparison to what will be achieved. Evolving knowledge about human performance and personal limitations is necessary for further success. Obstacles are inevitable and must be identified in order to defeat them. True success will not occur within moments of comfort and convenience but through challenges and controversy.
The stage encompassing struggle begins. There are no magic pills to assist in further progression; only intestinal fortitude. The weak will leave the lifestyle while the strong rummage around for more. Their increasing knowledge must be augmented with professional assistance and optimum facilities. A great lesson is being realized: nothing good in life comes without great effort. Constant training is a way of life. Persistence is paramount; never go backward without purpose, always hunt for any means to move forward. Food becomes fuel for a process, not a resource for enjoyment.
Finally the bodybuilder matures. Years of knowledge and struggle present a worthy package. The veteran may have unveiled a genetic anomaly, destined for fame and exhibition. Otherwise, all that is left is a lucid example of a human being garnished in determination and motivation, buried deep within the soul. Success in competition is not mandatory; the only obligation is to the continued craving for further refinement. This matured soldier’s battle wounds: scars from old injuries, stretch marks, and grazed skin.
Like life, bodybuilding is not infinite and must eventually succumb to death. When the bodybuilder must pass on, a legacy is left for a new generation of extreme athletes. They take the knowledge from the elders and build upon it. The newborns step on stage for a new lifetime of commitment. The best reward from a lifetime of bodybuilding: having lived it.