Is Bodybuilding A Real Sport Or A Beauty Contest?

Bodybuilding is not a real sport. It’s more of a beauty contest. You have a dozen of heavily muscles guys in underwear with fake tan and shaved bodies, posing in front of judges who are supposed to select those who deserve the first place the most. According to the official version the guy with the best body wins. The criteria is as follows: symmetry, mass, proportions and posing skills. Cool. Problem is you, have almost no control over the outcome.

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On the day of the show you either have it or you don’t. Technically, bodybuilders are in the hands of the judges who most of the time have not lifted a single weight in their life. The winner is chosen not according to performance but to appearance – exactly like a beauty contest.

In a beauty contest the girl who is the prettiest wins, but how do you decide who is the prettiest? Sure, you may look at some of the criteria that determine beauty, but in the end of the day it’s personal preference. Some like them small, others like them big. What’s better? Neither.

As far as bodybuilding is concerned it’s the same. Most of the time the winner is not the guy who’s worked the hardest, but the guy with the best genetics. Unless something in the preparation process goes terribly wrong the more gifted bodybuilder will win. This principle is observed since the time of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was not the hardest worker but he had some of the best genetics the world has ever seen. If you are a guy with average genetics, you just couldn’t win against Arnold because he had superior structure. The same way a person who is 5’1″ will never be as good of a basketball player as someone who is 6’7″. It’s just impossible given the nature of the game.

In real sports on the other hand the winner is supposedly judged on performance. The fastest runner wins…etc. Of course, genetics are still very important and the freaks are hard to reach, but it’s seems that those who were not as blessed sometimes get a chance to shine. If you are an ugly cow, you won’t be able to win a beauty contest. However, you may become one of the best wrestlers, gymnasts, football players or whatever because appearance is not important in those sports. You can outwork the freaks.

Another thing that takes bodybuilding out of the definition of ‘real sport’ is that drugs represent a large part. You can train as hard as physically imaginable, but you won’t reach the level of muscular development Mr. Olympia guys bring to the stage without anabolic steroids, growth hormone and insulin. It’s impossible, the same way it’s impossible to jump from the 20th floor and expect to survive. Good luck.

During their preparation bodybuilders perform physical activities, obviously, but the winner is not the heaviest bencher, squatter nor deadlifter. You can lift 50 lbs on every exercise you do, but if you look good – you can still win. The judges don’t ask you: ‘Hey, how much pounds did you add to your squat this season?’. They couldn’t care less.

In addition to steroids bodybuilders also rely on synthol, PMMA and fake breasts. This proves one more time that bodybuilding is a beauty contest because the mentioned substances have only one goal – to enhance the way you look artificially, similar to a make-up.

This is also one of the reasons bodybuilding is not a popular sport, just like beauty contests don’t seem to cause World Cup level of interest. Do you remember who was the winner of the last Miss World? Exactly, you have no clue.

The crowd wants to see action, drama. They want to see the competitors fight for the win before their eyes. People ask for entertainment and with the way bodybuilding rolls today, none of that is provided on the day of the show. Actually, that’s why the term ‘bodybuilding SHOW’ is used more often than bodybuilding contest. It’s a show – nothing more, nothing less.

Back in the day bodybuilders were required to perform weightlifting exercises – snatch and clean & jerk. They were judged not only by the way they looked but also by the way they performed. Of course, today we have posing, but when was the last time a person won Mr. Olympia because he was a great poser? And once again – how do you decide who is the best poser? It’s the judges who have the final saying.

Whatever the case, bodybuilding will never be a real sport because it just isn’t. It’s a beauty contest that requires the competitors to perform athletic activities, but the end goal is not to offer the best performance. The goal is to look pretty and create the illusion that you are larger than life and that, my friends, is a beauty contest.


  1. toby

    You talk about basketball and then in the next sentence you continue”in real sports on the other hand…”. So you don’t consider basketball a real sport?

  2. Dannu

    The judging in bodybuilding is so subjective that neither “hard work” nor “genetics” are things the eye can see. Judges judge according to what looks appealing in their own opinion. And it is not like being a bodybuilding judge requires special knowledge or training to develope specific skills. Anybody can be a bodybuilding judge, anybody.

    Bodybuilding is a spectacle for the eyes. I tend to see bodybuilding more in line with striptease because both gravitate around the idea of the muscular male body as ultimate expression of male beauty thus deserving all attention.

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