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Arnold Schwarzenegger , probably the most famous bodybuilder, in his active time in 1974
Professional bodybuilder Dexter Jackson , Mr. Olympia 2008
Professional bodybuilder Nikki Fuller shows a side chest pose

Bodybuilding (in German also obsolete body culture ) is a sport with the aim of active body shaping . The central element is strong growth in muscle mass , which is achieved through strength training with the help of fitness equipment . Someone who engages in this activity is called a bodybuilder. Bodybuilding is one of the strength sports , but differs from heavy athletics in that bodybuilding is primarily about the aesthetic appearance of the body and only secondarily about strength. Bodybuilding is practiced by both men and women .

In bodybuilding competitions are carried out in which the participants present their bodies in prescribed poses and a freestyle. The performances shown are compared and evaluated by a jury . Bodybuilders prepare for these competitions through a combination of training for muscle building and special nutrition designed to reduce the percentage of body fat .


The term "body building" was coined in 1881 by Robert J. Roberts, who worked for the YMCA in Boston . He developed gymnastics lessons that are similar to today's fitness training.


Bodybuilding training is strength training whose main goal is the desired reshaping of the body . The associated strength gain is just a welcome side effect for most bodybuilders. The training can be done with dumbbells or special training machines (such as the weight bench ).

In bodybuilding, you usually train with repetitions of eight to twelve repetitions per set, while in maximum strength training you train with higher loads but fewer repetitions (one to five). With 15 to 25 repetitions you move in the strength endurance range, which is responsible for the capillarization of the muscles. Usually concentric training is used. The muscle is loaded with as constant a force as possible over a large part of its range of motion. In some training machines, the force curve at the point of application is controlled using a curve wheel or an eccentric so that the muscle is loaded equally in every phase of the movement. Other forms of training result from an extreme decrease or increase in the number of repetitions (e.g. the one-time maximum attempt or the so-called "100 set"), the decrease in the execution speed or an eccentric load (e.g. a controlled lowering of the bench press ). It is important that the muscle has enough time to regenerate after training. For this reason, split training is often carried out in bodybuilding , which is usually repeated weekly and in which different muscle groups are trained during each training session.


A diet that is conducive to bodybuilding is divided into the mass phase and the definition phase. In both phases, various nutrients are taken in a targeted manner, distributed throughout the day; an average of four to ten meals a day. This ensures that the body receives a continuous flow of nutrients that it needs to build and maintain the muscles. The body is thus kept in a so-called "anabolic" (anabolic) environment. Particular emphasis is placed on a sufficient supply of protein. As a rule of thumb , the bodybuilder should consume 1.5 to 2 g of protein per kilogram of active body mass daily . The amount of protein can vary in different training concepts. The amount of carbohydrates and fats is largely dependent on the metabolic type of each individual athlete. In order to maintain an anabolic state at night, most bodybuilders eat something that contains a slowly digestible protein such as casein before bed . This should ensure the influx of important amino acids even during the night. In order to cope with a large amount of food, athletes often resort to nutritional supplements that either provide nutrients themselves or help to digest or digest them better. They are mostly in the form of a powder, capsule or tablet. These supplements are legal to purchase, depending on country restrictions. From a sports medicine point of view, most dietary supplements are only useful for certain high-performance athletes. Furthermore, illegal means are used in both phases, which mainly come from the pharmaceutical sector and are misappropriated (see section on doping ).

The bulk phase includes the goal of providing the body with sufficient building material for muscle building through a calorie surplus (paired with targeted training) while at the same time building up as little body fat as possible.

The goal of the definition phase (mostly before competitions) is to lower body fat through a negative calorie balance in order to make the muscles more visible. The attempt is made to preserve the muscle mass that was previously built up as far as possible.

Both goals are achieved by adjusting the weighting of protein, carbohydrates and fats in the diet, such as: B. in the so-called "anabolic diet", in which fat, followed by protein, makes up the largest part of the nutrient intake and the carbohydrate intake is reduced. The goal is to achieve ketosis . This form of diet is used by many athletes for targeted weight loss.

Contrary to a popular rumor that animal protein is better suited to bodybuilding than vegetable protein, scientists have been unable to find any evidence of this. Rather, the value of protein plays a decisive role in building muscle and, with the appropriate combination, in the case of vegetable protein, this is even higher than that of animal protein from muscle meat or eggs.


Eugen Sandow, the father of bodybuilding

Modern bodybuilding goes back to Eugen Sandow , who organized the first bodybuilding competition in London in 1901. For a long time, sport was a male domain. Women began bodybuilding in the USA in the 1970s. While bodybuilding was seen primarily as a special form of improving beauty, health and physical strength, less healthy aspects predominate with the use of hormonal substances.

See: Women's Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding as a competitive sport

Although the level of awareness has increased significantly in recent decades as a result of the fitness movement, it is perceived by the general public as an attraction rather than a competitive sport (see section Bodybuilding as a Lifestyle ). This could be because the concept of sport in general is based on comparing strength, endurance and coordination rather than the presentation of trained bodies, which is more associated with beauty pageants .

The limited broad impact goes hand in hand with comparatively low earning potential. In 2011, a total of just 1.3 million euros was paid out at the 17 most important tournaments worldwide. Many bodybuilders therefore sign sponsorship agreements or open gyms and shops for nutritional supplements in order to make a living.

Course of the competitions

Bodybuilder of the junior class at the so-called "Posedown"

Bodybuilders present their bodies in competitions . In addition, they compete in different weight and size classes, separated by gender and age, as amateurs and professionals , dressed in posing briefs or a bikini .


The classification is based on the rules of the IFBB and the DBFV according to the bodybuilder's body weight:

  • Men 1: up to 70 kilograms
  • Men 2: up to 80 kilograms
  • Men 3: up to 90 kilograms
  • Men 4: up to 100 kilograms
  • Men 5: over 100 kilograms

Bodybuilding associations that practice sizing for men are not recognized sports associations and do not belong to the IFBB. Only about this can a bodybuilder z. B. qualify for the international bodybuilding competition Mr. Olympia , which is considered the highest honor in professional bodybuilding.

Evaluation criteria

In all categories, a jury primarily evaluates the muscularity, symmetry and proportions of the competitors.

The mass and density as well as the hardness and division of the muscles. The aim is to combine as much muscle mass as possible with a definition that separates one muscle group from the other and makes the details within a muscle group clear. The visibility of veins (vascularity) is not a valuation criterion, but it can draw the judges' attention to good hardness, i.e. a low body fat percentage and hardly any water under the skin.
The even development of both halves of the body.
A development of all muscle groups as evenly as possible.
The way an athlete presents his body on stage is not a valuation criterion. Nevertheless, an athlete can distract attention from weaknesses by skillfully setting the poses and draw attention to strengths and thus achieve a better rating. The freestyle (60 to 90 seconds at amateur level) is counted, but only plays a role in the event of a tie between two athletes. The so-called “Posedown” (free posing), in which each of the five to six finalists of a class competes against each other, is no longer included in the evaluation. The highlight of every competition is a pose down, in which all class winners fight for the overall victory after comparing the compulsory poses.
This is not a separate evaluation criterion, but athletes with beautiful muscle shapes, an advantageous bone structure (broad shoulders in combination with a narrow hips / waist and narrow joints) and smooth transitions between the muscles (line) often have advantages over "blocky" athletes themselves if these are bigger and / or harder. These points depend on genetics and cannot be influenced by anything.

Classic bodybuilding

In order to give men with mixed figures a chance to take part in competitions, new fitness categories were introduced in the 1990s after the number of participants in "classic bodybuilding" fell drastically. They emerged from the so-called "male figure classes" of NABBA. The first appearance of male figure classes took place as part of a "Night of the Champions" of the NABBA 1995 in Cologne, the first German championship in figure bodybuilding for men was held by the NABBA in autumn 1996 in Gotha.

While the classification in the various categories of the figure classes (fitness, performance, etc.) at the NABBA is based on a "sighting" carried out in advance, the DBFV sets a certain ratio of body size for the so-called "Classic Bodybuilding Class" too tight body weight.


At regional and national championships, classes are divided according to a body index formula: body size minus 100 = competition weight:

  • up to 170.0 cm: (height - 100)
  • 170.1 cm to 178.0 cm: (height - 100) + 2 kg
  • 178.1 cm to 186.0 cm: (height - 100) + 4 kg
  • over 186.0 cm: (height - 100) + 6 kg

Example: Height 174 cm = (174 - 100) + 2 kg = maximum 76 kg. An athlete who is 174 cm tall must therefore not weigh more than 76 kg.

With this height-weight competition, the athletes are offered new perspectives. In this class, mass is no longer in the foreground as an evaluation criterion and offers greater equality of opportunity than in traditional bodybuilding classes.

Mr. Olympia

Bodybuilding was temporarily included in the World Games program but was never recognized as an Olympic sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The most prestigious bodybuilding event is the Mr. Olympia competition . This competition is the professional world championship of the IFBB. Record titleholders are the two Americans Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman , with eight wins each. The most successful German bodybuilder is Dennis Wolf , who drew level with Jusup Wilkosz (he took third place in 1984) with his 3rd place in the Mr. Olympia 2013 , but then behind him in 2014 by winning the Arnold Classics in Columbus, Ohio let himself. Well-known German bodybuilding professionals are Günther Schlierkamp , Markus Rühl , Ronny Rockel and Dennis Wolf. Current Mr. Olympia is Chris Bumstaed .

The most famous German athletes are u. a. Ralf Möller and Peter Hensel. In the 1980s, both won both national (e.g. German champions) and international titles (e.g. European champions, world champions) and can also be found in the IFBB's Hall of Fame.

Well-known bodybuilders

Born in Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger became well-known as a seven-time Mr. Olympia and through further successes outside of the bodybuilding scene. After a career in the film business, he switched to politics and was elected Governor of California . Other big names in the scene such as Steve Reeves , Lou Ferrigno and Ralf Möller ultimately owe their Hollywood careers to bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding and health

The risk of injury during strength training is low. However, due to widespread doping abuse , including in the amateur sector, the sport is always in the focus of the media.



The abuse of performance-enhancing, especially muscle-building drugs is particularly widespread in the professional, but also in the amateur sector. The most common are prescription drugs such as anabolic steroids and hormone preparations (especially testosterone and its derivatives) and diuretics (water tablets). These are purchased on the black market and often consumed for months in the highest doses and in a wide variety of combinations, mostly without medical supervision, whereby the respective side effects of the individual substances can multiply. The steroid and hormone preparations in particular mean drastic interventions in the balance of body chemistry, with sometimes serious side effects. In particular, the steroids, known as "roids", which are part of the doping standard, often cause serious, permanent damage to internal organs according to the state of research , whereby the pathological changes - because they are not visible from the outside and usually cannot be felt at first - typically for a very long time in most consumers remain undetected until massive symptoms of illness such as a heart attack appear "out of nowhere" (see below). Numerous deaths caused by doping in younger athletes have been scientifically documented in both the professional and amateur sectors. Scientific studies have shown that competitive bodybuilders using anabolic steroids are four to five times more likely than the general population to die at a young age.

Natural bodybuilding

As a result of the doping problem, the “Natural Bodybuilding” movement emerged in the late 1990s, whose followers consciously refrain from using performance-enhancing chemical substances and limit themselves to factors such as training, nutrition and genetics. A well-known representative of the movement is the bodybuilder and author Berend Breitenstein , who founded the German Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness Federation (GNBF) in 2003 . Since then, the GNBF has been the only German institution to cooperate with the international umbrella organization Drug Free Athletes Coalition (DFAC). Associations related to "Natural Bodybuilding" that are active throughout Europe are the International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA), the International Natural Bodybuilding Fitness Federation (INBF) and the Union Internationale de Bodybuilding Naturel (UIBBN).


According to experts, the only way to achieve muscle mass and definition in professional bodybuilders is through doping.

In professional bodybuilding, the doping rate is estimated to be 100 percent because the level shown there is not possible without the use of steroids. According to doping researcher Luitpold Kistler, high-performance bodybuilders spend up to 5000 euros per month on funds that support muscle building. Others speak of significantly higher amounts.

Nevertheless, the impression is often given that professional bodybuilding is doping-free. The professional Andreas Münzer , who died of massive doping abuse, was marketed as a “clean man”.

In a 1998 study, amateur athletes were interviewed in 24 German fitness studios. Of the 255 people surveyed (204 men and 51 women), 24 percent of men and 8 percent of women stated that they regularly take anabolic steroids .

According to Kistler (2007) about 30 percent of men and five percent of women in German amateur bodybuilding regularly consumed steroids.

Reasons for doping

There are limits to muscle growth in every person due to their own genetic makeup. Even with intensive training and a perfectly balanced diet, after a certain time the athlete comes up against a natural limit ("natural limit" or also called "genetic limit"), above which there is no further increase in muscle mass. The achieved appearance of the body is then usually still a long way from the appearance of professional bodybuilders. Through doping with the help of steroids, this natural limit can be overcome and, with simultaneous intensive training, further growth in muscle mass can be achieved. These substances are relatively easily available. They are sold “under the palm of the hand” in many fitness studios and can be ordered on the Internet. The latent willingness to doping is also promoted by the view, which is particularly widespread among young people, that “everyone does it”.

Doping enables large increases in muscle mass within a relatively short period of time (often a few months), with the overall body image usually changing. After discontinuing the substances, however, these muscle gains usually return to a natural level. This often leads to negative feedback from the outside world (“But you've got thin again”) and to disappointment for the athlete. This can create the desire to repeat the sense of achievement through renewed doping and to perpetuate it, which can mean the start of a dependency . Mentally less stable people and young people are particularly susceptible to such a development. American scientists found in a study similar addiction symptoms in anabolic drug users as in users of "hard" drugs such as opiates . In addition to changes in body image, there are also behavioral changes due to hormone consumption, such as excessive aggressiveness.

Doping as a social phenomenon

Jörg Scheller pointed out that the sensation-seeking debate about bodybuilding and doping in the media is one-sided and the topic cannot be viewed in isolation. Rather, one must ask oneself whether today's society would not systematically promote doping in all areas of life, and whether the excesses in bodybuilding would not only be a drastic and visible symptom of this development:

“The financial sector dopes with derivatives and certificates . The agricultural industry dopes with chemistry and genetic engineering . Politicians are doping with new debts . Parents drug their children with Ritalin . Guttenberg doped his doctoral thesis with foreign laurels . So-called "top performers" resort to psychotropic drugs in order to withstand the stress of competition. "

Against this background, it could not be a question of catching up to an “absurd ideal” in bodybuilding that promises “infinite growth and eternal perfection”. It is of no use to transfer the “ capitalist utopia ” to one's own body through the use of doping. Anyone who makes do with dubious substances, whether in the financial, agricultural, political or physical sector, makes themselves psychologically, physically and financially dependent and can “not be proud of their work”.

frequent side effects

Examples of common side effects in men are:

Deadly Risks

Triggered by doping with steroids, hormone preparations and / or dehydrating agents (diuretics), bodybuilders regularly experience serious side effects. Depending on the combination of active ingredients, dosage and disposition of the athlete, irreparable damage can occur as early as six months after initial consumption. Above all, this includes massive, life-threatening problems of the organ and cardiovascular system, such as an enlarged heart, calcification of the vessels, strokes and liver or kidney failure. Such damage is almost inevitable after a long period of use. Healthy, physically unimpaired long-term consumers without organ damage are an exception. Much of the damage can only be determined through thorough medical examinations and causes hardly any physical discomfort or pain over a long period of time, until finally - apparently suddenly - serious damage such as a heart attack occurs. Therefore, there is a risk that long-term consumers will incorrectly assess their state of health as being too positive.

As part of a doctoral thesis at the University of Munich , ten deceased men between the ages of 28 and 45, who had been proven to have used anabolic steroids as amateurs, were autopsied and the organs were examined for damage. It was found that the anabolic steroids in all cases caused extensive damage to organs , in particular to the cardiovascular system , the liver and the genital organs .

Four to five times higher death rate among anabolic steroids users

A Finnish study examined 62 male strength athletes who, from 1977 to 1982, were among the top five nationwide in Finland in the 82.5 to 125 kg classes. All test subjects were suspected of abusing anabolic steroids. In the following 12 years, the test subjects had about four to five times higher mortality than male comparators of the same age in the normal population. In the observed period of 12 years after the start of the study, 12.9% of the bodybuilders died, but only 3.1% of the comparison persons from the normal population.

As early as 1996, a total of 46 doping-related deaths in bodybuilding had been scientifically documented in detail. On March 14, 1996, the professional bodybuilder Andreas Münzer died at the age of only 31 of multifunctional organ failure as a result of years of doping. In the same year, doping expert Werner Franke estimated the total number of doping deaths to be over 600, most of which remained undetected as anabolic steroids, as many of the dead were not examined thoroughly enough.


In German competitions, doping controls are carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the German Sports Association (DSB) and the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness (IFBB). The doping controls of the German Natural Bodybuilding Federation (GNBF) are also carried out between competitions, in which case lie detectors are sometimes used. However, the effectiveness of many doping controls is controversial.

Setting in the amateur field

The abuse of drugs, especially steroid doping, is mostly played down as "cure" or in verb form as "cure". Dosage tips, reports on how to combat side effects caused by the administration of additional medication, and guidelines for the correct use of injections are available in numerous Internet forums . Sensational deaths like that of Andreas Münzer as well as reports of serious side effects and permanent physical damage as well as deaths in the amateur sector have hardly led to a more critical attitude. In internet forums, those affected report downright addictive behavior and psychological dependence . According to Luitpold Kistler, steroids also act as a gateway drug . It can be observed that the athletes sometimes also use other substances such as antidepressants , amphetamines or harder drugs during or after taking them.

Doping in adolescents

The abuse of doping by adolescents is particularly critical, among other things because most common steroids can irrevocably stop any growth in size of the body by premature closure of the epiphyseal plates in the bones. Even bodybuilders who are more positive about doping in spite of the serious risks mentioned above, strongly advise against the use of steroids by people up to the age of about 21 years. The number of abuse cases in this age group has increased in recent years. The doctor and doping researcher Luitpold Kistler expects a further increase:

“There is an ideal of beauty in the media that puts young people under pressure. They believe that they cannot make it without support. Especially adolescents in puberty can be influenced and orientate themselves on retouched high-gloss pictures. In a widespread repression mentality, the dangers are downplayed, according to the motto: It won't hit me. "

Risk of one-sided training

Furthermore, excessive training of individual muscle groups can lead to postural damage over time. Often you see athletes with shoulders and arms twisted forwards, caused by increased training of the chest and abdominal muscles compared to the back muscles. Such postural damage is impossible with proper training.

It is therefore important to have a balanced set of exercises (this includes training the antagonists) and to perform the individual exercises properly.


Many bodybuilders also suffer from high blood pressure . Since in pure bodybuilding mostly only muscle training is practiced and hardly any endurance training , the muscle mass or body mass built up in this way is not related to the cardiovascular system. The relatively little trained heart has to pump harder and hypertrophy in order to supply the disproportionately large body mass with sufficient blood.

However, this can be adequately avoided if, in accordance with modern training methodology, regular training cycles are inserted that focus primarily on the strength endurance area. Two to three times a year - for about four weeks - are recognized to avoid a loss of strength and muscle mass and at the same time strengthen the heart, provided that endurance training of 20 to 30 minutes takes place at least once a week. Jogging, but also swimming or cycling have proven to be very effective.

Solid strength endurance training consists of so-called multi-joint basic exercises: two training units per week, three to five exercises (e.g. squats, bench press, pull-ups, deadlifts with straight legs, one abdominal exercise) per training unit, two sets of 20-30 repetitions each Max. a minute's break. It's less about muscle failure than about respiratory failure. Anyone who has built muscles over years of hard training will not lose them in these weeks.

Strength training itself challenges the heart, but usually only develops the left ventricle. Compensating endurance training creates an even development.

Other prohibited aids

Synthol is occasionally used by bodybuilders. This is an oil that is injected directly into the muscle and encapsulates itself there, which appears to make the muscle bigger. Muscle parts that have been enlarged by Synthol injections, however, usually look unnaturally smooth or lack natural division and definition. Accidental injection into a larger blood vessel can cause serious damage to health. In addition, the application can lead to very unnatural and unaesthetic bulges in the muscles. Injecting Synthol is - like the insertion of silicone implants - a strictly forbidden measure in competitive bodybuilding, which leads to the exclusion of the athlete from association competitions. However, silicone implants in the breasts of female bodybuilders are tolerated and are very common.

Morbid or faulty self-image: dysmorphophobia

Kistler pointed out that many committed bodybuilders - especially professional bodybuilders - would live “in a world of their own”, in a kind of madness from which they could no longer get out. In professional bodybuilding, there are just a handful of athletes making good money, which usually means that they can barely earn a living. Others would live just below the poverty line and move some of their property in order to be able to continue with their sport. That would also have to do with the enormous expenses for drugs and doping substances, up to several thousand euros a month. In the medical sense, this would sometimes be associated with behavior that is considered pathological, which is defined by a disturbed self or body image, the so-called dysmorphophobia :

“These people have a disturbed self-image. If a 140 kilogram, muscular man who has lost ten kilograms no longer leaves the house because he thinks he is too thin - then he is sick. "

Bodybuilding as a lifestyle and bodybuilding culture

Within the fitness scene, which, as a result of the fitness boom in the 1980s and 1990s, seized more and more milieus and increasingly diverse population groups, the bodybuilding scene in the narrower sense still has a special position. It has retained a certain independent culture. In contrast to other directions in the fitness scene, in which physical fitness, health, fun and "feeling fit" are often the main goals, aspects of a celebrated body cult are in the foreground for many bodybuilders: The "self-creation" of a perfect body, strong Pronounced aesthetic awareness, posing (demonstrative “standing on display” or “wanting to impress”) with an extremely shaped body in everyday life.

Body cult

For many bodybuilders, this body cult, which can take on fetishistic traits, becomes a determining, time-consuming and identity-forming element of their lifestyle . The celebration of this cult often goes far beyond actual bodybuilding. One speaks therefore also of body styling . The term denotes an offensive design of the entire external appearance and at the same time implies a special appreciation of an imposing aesthetic effect. The design of the exterior by means of bodybuilding is usually supported by the use of solariums and cosmetics . Tattoos or piercings often change the appearance of the body.

This is all the more remarkable since bodybuilding is a male-dominated scene (whereas body shaping is more common among women ). Since the French Revolution and the end of the rococo courtly culture , it was reserved for women to take care of their beauty. Men, in line with the new bourgeois model, were less interested in technology and business.

What was very unusual for men in Western culture for a long time has been and is excessively practiced and cultivated here by male bodybuilders: shaping and caring for one's own body as well as paying attention to one's external appearance. It can be stated that there is a growing tendency among men in society as a whole to give more weight to the design of the body and appearance (for the purpose of increasing attractiveness from their own point of view), although often not to the extent and the way it is has become customary in the bodybuilding scene.

At the same time, however, this new male attitude towards the body in the bodybuilding context leads to a style that remains stuck to the bourgeois European tradition, because the new body cult serves to celebrate an extreme cult of masculinity . The only innovation is the aestheticization of established images of masculinity (the “strong man”).


Bodybuilder at a championship in the Germeringer Stadthalle, 1995

Body art

Numerous authors, but also bodybuilders themselves, emphasize that bodybuilding is creating art on one's own body . For example, the former IFBB professional Ed Corney says: “I look at myself as a piece of art. I have taken 20 years to develop my physical body into the shape it's in right now, and if that isn't art, I don't know what art is. " David L. Chapman , biographer of the first bodybuilder Eugen Sandow (1867– 1925), writes about Sandows Posingkür around 1900: "The athlete had long since made his poses plastiques the center of his act, rather than his weightlifting or feats of strength". The IFBB, founded in 1946, is still committed to this paradigm shift today. In the association's set of rules, only formal aesthetic evaluation criteria are decisive. Against this background, Charles Gaines , author of the book and film Pumping Iron , characterizes bodybuilding 1974 as "aesthetic rather than athletic" and defines it as "athletic training of the body for artistic competition". The art scholar Jörg Scheller brings today's bodybuilding close to the formalistic art and art theory under pop-cultural auspices, as it is no longer oriented towards mythological models, instead of the culturally conservative ideal of beauty relies on an extreme, irritating, self-referential aesthetic and the medium - the body - declare it to be the message. Scheller therefore strictly distinguishes bodybuilding from sport. The bodybuilder is “a person who uses athletic methods for autoplastic purposes. The targeted aesthetics are puristic, extreme and sublime in nature ”. In general, bodybuilding can be defined in comparison to sport as follows:

  • Sport = comparison of the quality of the functions of the body in a competitive situation
  • Bodybuilding = comparing the quality of the shapes of the body in a competitive situation

The "Schäfer" collection of the Lower Saxony Institute for Sports History in Hanover is the most extensive collection on the history of bodybuilding, catching, wrestling and weight training in Europe and is open to users.

Posing and pimping

Markus Rühl in the off-season warming up for a press posting

Posing is the conscious staging of the muscles in front of the judges at a competition. This pose is practiced by professional bodybuilders, like a dancer's dance before a performance. This posing is accompanied by music. Posing and music should form a harmonious unit and are, among other things, highly valued in a competition in addition to the proportions. Bodybuilders train again and again in front of the mirror to perfect their posing.

The term "pimping", which has recently become established in the German-speaking world, means styling, pimping and upgrading in order to achieve an impressive effect when posing. With regard to the external shape of the human body in the context of the bodybuilding scene, pimping (“ Pimp My Body”) is almost identical to so-called “body styling” with the aim of creating a striking, attractive and impressive figure. In addition to a muscular body and tanned skin, a lot of emphasis is placed on prestigious clothing and accessories.

As a noun, "pimp" (not to be confused with the English term for pimp) denotes a person who values ​​posing and pimping and who actively pursues it. In this mentality there are points of contact and intersections with other scenes, e.g. B. the auto-tuning scene ("Pimp My Car", " Pimp My Ride ").

There are also bodybuilders who clearly distance themselves from this culture of posing and pimping beyond the bodybuilding competition and who practice bodybuilding and styling with the aim of feeling more comfortable in their own body and adapting it to their own aesthetic ideas.



Since the beginning of the fitness trend in the early 1980s, the various fitness sports have repeatedly produced their own clothing styles and fashions . Particularly noteworthy is the aerobic fashion of the 1980s.

At the beginning of the 1990s, a characteristic bodybuilding fashion was created, which initially spread as comfortable, loose sportswear in fitness studios. It usually consisted of so-called “ body pants ” and “ muscle shirts ” of different cuts.

Body pants are light jersey sports pants that sit at about waist height with a wide, high-waisted elastic band. This waistband is visually similar to the waistband of boxer shorts . From this waistband the trousers fall loosely in folds and have an enormous width in the area of ​​the thighs to below the knees, from then on they taper conically and then end below the ankles in a narrow leg. Body pants are usually made of cotton jersey, less often nylon. At first they were lavishly patterned, later they were more monochrome with a slight relief-like structure. Since body pants are only held by an elastic band, they are particularly easy to put on and take off.

Muscle shirts were cut more diverse from the start. On the one hand there are tight-fitting variants as underarm shirts ( tank tops ) with carriers that showed a lot of skin, next there was extremely wide box-shirts made of heavy sweatshirt jersey or terry cloth that looked like Sweatshirts, where the sleeves were cut off, but without any cuffs (called Rag tops ). They were worn in different lengths, also belly-free. With sleeves, they were also often worn in a butt-covering form, as so-called "sleeveshirts". As a third form of the muscle shirt, the tight-fitting short- sleeved T-shirts made of thin nylon, borrowed from the techno scene , optimally showed the muscle structure and in some cases still had a certain push-up effect.

In the mid-1990s, this style ("American Sportswear") was increasingly worn by fans of the bodybuilding scene outside of the studios as streetwear . The clothing turned into the prestigious lifestyle clothing of the bodybuilding scene. The now established bodybuilding brands such as “Uncle Sam”, “Platinum” and “Gorilla Wear” achieved cult status. They had gradually supplemented these trendy basics with prestigious but casual casual clothing. The “ Uncle Sam ” brand in particular celebrated great success with its extremely expensive, bulky leather blousons. These jackets have become a prestigious status symbol in the scene and in some cases beyond. They were also great for pimping and posing needs. Instead of body pants, other pants with a similar cut from prestigious brands were increasingly worn, such as B. "Diesel Jeans" (model "Saddle"), "Phoenix" or pleated trousers from "Il Padrino Moda". Since 2000 it has increasingly been the wide cargo pants from "Molecule" or "Jet Lag". Today, clothing from hip-hop brands is on the rise, such as jeans or leather jackets from e.g. B. " Pelle Pelle ". In addition, shirts with a bodybuilder fit are offered by manufacturers such as “Hot Bodz” and “Rouven Permesang”. The body pants, on the other hand, can hardly be seen on the street.

Saying T-shirts with slogans, such as, for example, are widespread among young amateur bodybuilders. B. "Shut up and squat", which means something like "Shut up and do squats", but also parody shirts like z. B. "Trenzformer", a parody of the Transformers using the surname of the well-known bodybuilder Peter Trenz .


  • Muscle Beach Party , directed by William Asher, USA 1964
  • Stay Hungry , directed by Bob Rafelson , USA 1976
  • Pumping Iron , directed by George Butler , Robert Fiore, USA 1977
  • Pumping Iron II: The Women , directed by George Butler, USA 1985
  • No Pain, No Gain , Director: Samuel Turcotte, USA 2005
  • The Man Whose Arms Exploded , directed by Bruce Hepton, USA, 2006 (TV)
  • Bigger Stronger Faster , directed by Chris Bell, USA 2008
  • Generation Iron , directed by Vlad Yudin, USA 2013
  • Pain & Gain , directed by Michael Bay , USA 2013
  • Generation Iron 2 , directed by Vlad Yudin, USA 2017


General reference works

  • Joe Weider : Joe Weider's bodybuilding training methods and nutritional principles (OT: Joe Weider's Ultimate Bodybuilding ). 2nd edition, Heyne, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-453-04383-9
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger , Bill Dobbins: The Great Bodybuilding Book (OT: Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding ). (4th edition) Heyne, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-453-37102-X
  • Peter Sisco (Ed.): Ironman's Ultimate Bodybuilding Encyclopedia . McGraw-Hill Companies 1999, ISBN 0-8092-2811-4
  • Gerard Thorne, Phil Embleton, John Butler: Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding. The Ultimate A – Z Book on Muscle Building! Musclemag International 2006, ISBN 1-55210-001-4
  • Göddeke, Bernd: Bodybuilding, strength and fitness training: nutrition - muscle building - exercises , ISBN 3-9806839-0-7
  • Karsten Pfützenreuter: PITT-Force Professional Intensity Training Techniques: Professional intensity training by Karsten Pfützenreuter [paperback], ISBN 978-3-8391-1103-1


  • Berend Breitenstein , Horst Lichte: The Bodybuilding Bible. Natural, successful, healthy; with 200 exercises and training programs . Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-499-61078-7
  • Andreas Müller: Natural bodybuilding. Training, nutrition, competition . Novagenics, Arnsberg 2004, ISBN 3-929002-39-6
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger : Bodybuilding for Men. The perfect program for body and muscle training (OT: Arnold's Bodybuilding for Men ). (28th edition / new edition.) Heyne, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-453-87991-0
  • Steve Holman: Ironman's home training. Professional training at home . Novagenics, Arnsberg 1998, ISBN 3-929002-02-7
  • Dieter Zittlau: Body Training. The successful workout for muscle building and endurance , Munich 2001, ISBN 3-517-06396-7 (translations into French and Dutch)


  • Klaus Arndt (ed.): Handbook of food supplements. Assessment and application of performance-enhancing substances for bodybuilding and weight training . Novagenics, Arnsberg 2001, ISBN 3-929002-29-9
  • Sabine Froschauer: Hard as steel. Sabine Froschauer's recipes for fat loss . (3rd edition.) Novagenics, Arnsberg 1997, ISBN 3-929002-14-0
  • Andreas Scholz, Michael Hamm: Muscle food. Optimal performance and effective muscle building through the correct use of sports nutrition . Knaur, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-426-66831-9
  • Klaus Arndt, Stephan Korte: The anabolic diet. Ketogenic diet for bodybuilders. The new way to rapid muscle building and accelerated fat burning . Novagenics, Arnsberg 1997, ISBN 3-929002-19-1

Cultural history, illustrated books

  • David Chapman: Sandow the Magnificent: Eugen Sandow and the Beginnings of Bodybuilding (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1994), Reprint 2006, ISBN 0-252-07306-1 .
  • Charles Gaines, George Butler: Bodybuilding at its best. Technique and training of famous champions. "Pumping Iron" . Heyne, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-453-41580-9 .
  • George L. Hersey : From Hercules to Schwarzenegger. In: Seduction made to measure. Ideal and tyranny of the perfect body (OT: The Evolution of Allure ). Siedler, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-88680-622-7 .
  • Angelika Muthesius (Ed.), F. Valentine Hooven: Beefcake. The Muscle Magazines of America 1950-1970 . Taschen, Cologne 1995, ISBN 3-8228-8939-3 .
  • Andreas Müller: body culture. Bodybuilding in the GDR . Novagenics, Arnsberg 2007, ISBN 978-3-929002-43-0 .
  • Jannis Plastargias : Bodybuilding to strengthen youthful self-esteem. Kubayamashi-Do Studien- und Fachbuchverlag, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-9808375-9-0 (also diploma thesis, Karlsruhe University of Education 2004).
  • Jörg Scheller : No Sports! On the aesthetics of bodybuilding . Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-515-09713-0 .
  • Jörg Scheller: Arnold Schwarzenegger or the art of living a life . Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-515-10106-6
  • Bernd Wedemeyer : Strong men, strong women. A cultural history of bodybuilding . CH Beck, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-406-39246-6 .
  • Gerd Würzberg: Muscle men. In the machine halls of the new physical culture . Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1987, ISBN 3-499-18208-4 .

youth book

  • Florian Buschendorff: I want more muscles - no matter how! Verlag an der Ruhr, Mülheim an der Ruhr 2008, ISBN 978-3-8346-0405-7 (youth novel).

Trade journals

German-speaking area:

  • Sportrevue
  • Muscle & Fitness
  • Flex

International (English):

  • Ironman
  • MuscleMag International
  • Muscle & Fitness
  • Muscular Development
  • Flex

See also

Web links

Commons : Bodybuilding  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: bodybuilding  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


Information on doping risks

Individual evidence

  1. ^ History - 1870 to 1890s. In: Retrieved January 18, 2015 (English): "In 1881, Boston YMCA staffer Robert J. Roberts coined the term" body building "and developed exercise classes that anticipated today's fitness workouts."
  2. Dr. Kurt A. Moosburger, Nutrition and Nutritional Supplements in Sport (p. 82 ff .; PDF; 11.8 MB)
  3. Kurt A. Moosburger: The protein metabolism (PDF; 82 kB)
  4. KM Mangano, S. Sahni, DP Kiel, KL Tucker, AB Dufour, MT Hannan: Dietary protein is associated with musculoskeletal health independently of dietary pattern: the Framingham Third Generation Study. In: The American journal of clinical nutrition. Volume 105, number 3, March 2017, pp. 714-722, doi: 10.3945 / ajcn.116.136762 , PMID 28179224 , PMC 5320406 (free full text).
  5. Arnd Krüger , Bernd Wedemeyer-Kolwe (ed.): Kraftkörper - Körperkraft. To understand physical culture and fitness yesterday and today. Booklet accompanying the exhibition in the entrance hall of the new university library. July 3 - 31, 1995 (= Göttingen library publications , vol. 8). Göttingen: University printing house 1995.
  6. Prize money and top earners in bodybuilding 2011 . Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  7. - ( Memento of the original from February 6, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from April 7, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. a b c d e f g h i j k l m Frieder Pfeiffer: At some point it just booms. Interview with anabolic steroids researcher Luitpold Kistler, in: Spiegel online, January 20, 2007, accessed on February 4, 2009
  10. a b c Luitpold Kistler: Deaths from anabolic steroids abuse - cause of death, findings and forensic medical aspects. Retrieved November 10, 2012 . Dissertation, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, 2006, p. 13 ff
  11. a b c d e Udo Ludwig , Klaus Brinkbäumer, Alfred Weinzierl: Alles Gute Bodys hier . In: Der Spiegel . No. 17 , 1996, pp. 126 ff . ( online ).
  12. a b c M. Pärssinen, U. Kujala, E. Vartiainen, S. Sarna, T. Seppälä: Increased premature mortality of competitive powerlifters suspected to have used anabolic agents. In: International journal of sports medicine. Volume 21, Number 3, April 2000, pp. 225-227, ISSN  0172-4622 . doi: 10.1055 / s-2000-304 . PMID 10834358 .
  13. ^ Bodybuilding Insider's Straight Talk on Drugs. May 13, 2001. Retrieved August 29, 2013 .
  14. Luitpold Kistler: Deaths from anabolic drug abuse - cause of death, findings and forensic medical aspects Dissertation, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, 2006, p. 2
  15. a b c, see point side effects under point no.12 , accessed on February 3, 2009
  16. a b Jörg Scheller: D for doping - bodybuilding and the debate about illegal substances in sport. Bodybuilding 2.0, May 16, 2011
  17. a b Luitpold Kistler: Deaths from anabolic steroids abuse - cause of death, findings and forensic medical aspects Dissertation, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, 2006, p. 63
  18. a b Side effects of anabolic steroids. Institute for Biochemistry at the German Sport University Cologne. Retrieved August 8, 2012
  19., see point 4, accessed on February 3, 2009
  20. Young bodybuilder from steroids full of scars. Maintaining muscle mass is more important than one's own health for many in: Innovationsreport, August 22, 2008, accessed on February 3, 2009
  21. Alex Vermeulen: Androgens and the Cardiovascular System. In: Medicine 2000 plus, 2000, 11, 28-29. ( Full text ( memento of March 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) in the web archive ).
  22., see point no. 1, accessed on February 3, 2009
  23. Synthol in:, accessed on 4 February 2009
  24. Bohnenstengel, A. (1998) in BISS 04/1998, pp. 14–15: Steeled bodies; Bohnenstengel, A. (2001) in BISS 02/2001, pp. 24-25: Speck & Dreck
  25. ^ Ed Corney's contest history . Archived from the original on September 7, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  26. Chapman 1994, p. 137
  27. IFBB Rules (PDF; 950 kB) Archived from the original on August 25, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  28. Butler and Gaines 1991, p. 105
  29. Scheller 2010, pp. 239–250
  30. Dominik Irtenkauf: Bodybuilding , Heise Telepolis, accessed on May 25, 2014
  31. Scheller 2010, p. 243
  32. Scheller 2010, p. 240
  33. Bernd Wedemeyer (1997): The strength sports estate Schäfer - An inventory overview . 47 S. Hoya: NISH