Bodybuilding goes extreme for competition on stage

What is competitive bodybuilding?

Competitive bodybuilding combines specific dieting, weight training and cardio with posing and presentation on stage in front of judges, according to exercise scientist Kristina Kendall from Edith Cowan University, who is also a former science editor at Body Building

“Training like a bodybuilder is more about presenting your physique to have more symmetry, or a better overall shape, rather than going out onto the field and doing something with it,” Dr Kendall said.

If your goal is to compete on stage, the preparation process usually starts between 12 and 24 weeks out from the competition date.

Being too lean is mean to your hormones

Competitive bodybuilders aim to be on stage close to their absolute leanest. And it’s the leaning down phase that can be the unhealthiest.

As an athlete approaches their competition date, they eat less food, starting with fewer carbohydrates.

Elite female athletes are not recommended to have a body fat percentage below 12 to 14 per cent, but it’s not uncommon for professional female bodybuilders to have a body fat percentage below 10 per cent, according to Dr Kendall.

One of the first things people do when they step off that stage is to celebrate with a cookie or doughnut, or even just a “normal” meal.

But because the body has been in starvation mode so long, it will hold onto that food and store it as fat.

Seeing the rapid weight increase and change in body shape can lead to extreme dieting, followed by more binge eating, and even eating disorders.

“It can take years to get over those mental and body image barriers, and social media can make that harder,” Mr Hampton said.

“And I’ve seen people have really bad depression, people going off the grid for months and having really bad relationships with food and training,” he said.

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