The relationship between bodybuilding and fitness is an odd one. Bodybuilding has had a huge influence on the public perception of what fitness should be.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting a muscular balanced physique. If you want to bodybuild go for it! It’s way healthier than sitting around playing X-box or watching sports on TV every day on your sofa.
Bodybuilding is mostly about aesthetics. Although bodybuilders are typically fairly strong their goal is not really to get stronger, it’s almost always to get bigger and eventually more symmetrical with low body fat.
“Big is beautiful” and “Huge” are the t-shirts of choice for many bodybuilders.
This is illustrated by the story of Donny.
Donny was an ex British Paratrooper, looked like he could run thru any wall and was the same age as me.
Donny was huge, strong as anything and he hated me.
He wasn’t happy that I was dropping weights after clean & jerks and he was not happy at me using chalk in the gym. He actually managed to get chalk banned from the weights room, something I’m very proud of! Donny didn’t like CrossFit because he said it made men skinny and weak.
He read about CrossFit and thought he understood it and Donny even challenged me to a head to head Fran at the gym.
I told Donny I thought this was unfair because I’d been doing CrossFit for a while and he’d only embarrass himself. Donny hated me even more when I suggested he should do Fran against my friend George who had been doing CrossFit for only 2 months.
George was a tall skinny guy from Iceland. He had been training with me for a while and was a naturally quick learner but humble and hard working. He spoke a bit like Borat but everyone liked him, even Donny, and Donny hated everything.
On the day, a small crowd gathered to watch the Fran! Donny vs George. On paper this was going to be a massacre. Donny, the ex military bodybuilding chalk-hater vs George, The Icelandic Blonde Borat.They both went with 95lbs and they each had a pullup bar.
George finished in 8 mins. His thrusters and pullups were all full range and he even no-repped himself a couple of times.
Donny never got the thrusters properly overhead once. His excuse was that he didn’t have the flexibility.
His pull-ups were mostly partial too – never going to full extension or chin over the bar but because he was Donny, we let him continue. Once the clock had hit 12 mins a few of the spectators got bored and moved on. Donny finished his last pullup at 13:45. He couldn’t speak for 10 minutes afterwards, but George stuck around and encouraged him all the way.
I got an email recently from George as he is about to do his Level 1 trainer certification in London.
Apparently Donny still loves bodybuilding, he still can’t press overhead properly and he hates me, chalk and CrossFit.
Still…could be worse – he could be living in California.