In a world of increasingly popular functional fitness, bodybuilding has gotten a bad rep. In CrossFit, people think they know how to train harder and more effectively with AMRAPs and total body movements.
In certain weightlifting circles in North America bodybuilding is used sparingly, though in other countries it’s much more prevalent in lifting culture and –unsurprisingly– those countries physiques are wildly different.
Bodybuilders have been criticized for being a beauty pageant and unathletic. But their results, ability to build muscle and dedication to nutrition (they’ve been weighing and measuring food since practically the dawn of time) is admirable. And if you get beyond the obvious differences and want to be come a more well-rounded, educated athlete, you’d be surprised by how much you can improve in your sport by incorporating some bodybuilding into your regimen.
Still not convinced?
Here are four reasons why adding in some bodybuilding is worth considering.
You can target weaknesses and prevent injury.
Weightlifters and CrossFit athletes that snatch and clean and jerk regularly put a serious amount of stress on their tendons and ligaments from shock absorption when receiving a snatch, clean or jerk. To avoid injury and overuse issues you have to make sure the muscles around your joints are strong.
Incorporating bodybuilding as accessory work is an excellent tool for joint conditioning and stabilization. Higher repetitions at lower weights, (8-15 rep sets) helps to improve tendon strength.
As for those dumbbell bicep curls that “aren’t functional”? They’re a great way, among other unilateral work, for you to easily identify how certain muscle groups on certain sides work.
If you can curl 50 pounds with your left arm and 85 with your right, that’s an issue you need to take care of (and one you’ve likely been compensating for.) Bodybuilding brings those weaknesses to light. Curls also help build up the area around your elbow, among other benefits.
You will get stronger and feel better.
Bodybuilders are experts at hypertrophy training and if you want to get stronger you need to apply optimal hypertrophy methods. Simply put, hypertrophy is the process of making your muscles larger. Why? Because muscle size is a limiting factor in strength. If you’re running into a plateau with your training and always feeling run down, it may be time to get swole.
Another benefit to adding bodybuilding into your accessory routine is it won’t wreck your body as much. Weightlifters, powerlifters and CrossFitters do a lot of spinal loading with a barbell, but that’s not the only way to get strong.
It’s a no-brainer: if you fix your weaknesses and any imbalances from Reason No. 1 (above) you’re going to get better. At the very least, you’re going to be a more balanced athlete, less susceptible to injury and overuse issues.
You can train around an injury.
Hurt your shoulder? Modifying your current workout is OK, but you can (and should) use the time off of a certain body part to make other areas of your body stronger.
Bodybuilding enables you to train specific muscle groups meaning you don’t have to completely avoid all upper body stuff if you angered your right trap or are having left shoulder pain.
Isolated work is not the enemy. In fact, doing bodybuilding work while injured can help you preserve strength and make the comeback process quicker down the road.
You will look really, really good.
I personally hate when I see top athletes say stuff like, “I don’t do [sport X] to look good, I do this to perform well.”
That’s nice, I guess. But who wants to be strong and/or fit and not look like they work out at all?
Let’s face it, if you aren’t at the top of your sport, or are doing CrossFit/lifting/training for life, looking good naked or having a nice beach body can be a legit priority.
Performing well and looking good don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Will you look like a bodybuilder if you add in bodybuilding work? No. Those people have an incredible amount of discipline with nutrition and train just as bodybuilders for years to look a certain way.
What adding that stuff in will do, assuming your nutrition isn’t total garbage, is make you look better. You’ll get definition in places you didn’t have, add muscle size and probably gain confidence.
Let’s be honest here: if you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good about yourself chances are you’re going to perform better.
Photo Credit: (top) Fresh Burst Photography