Ever wondered what professional body builders are really like and what they do when they're not pounding it at the gym? We find out all the bodybuilding secrets you wanted to know but were too scared to ask...
1. Bodybuilders drink booze backstage
As you’d expect, training for a bodybuilding show means a bit of sacrifice on the social-life, calories and alcohol front.
You’d be surprised to see some competitors knocking back red wine backstage
So you’d probably be surprised to see some competitors knocking back the red wine and whiskey backstage in a last-ditch attempt to look leaner.
The idea is that dehydrating your body shows your muscles off to the best advantage, and as alcohol is a diuretic, it's ideal for that.
In bodybuilding, reducing fluids in the lead up to a show is known as ‘drying out’, and if done safely – i.e. taking sensible measures of water – it can be very effective. But when you’ve spent the last 8-16 weeks dieting, training and not touching a drop of booze, chugging down a triple-shot of Glenfiddich is more likely going to make you lightheaded, unsteady and a little bit pissed on stage.
2. Bodybuilders don’t get much (any) bedroom action
[related_articles]When you’re preparing for a competition, diet is key. The goal is to maintain as much muscle mass as possible while still shredding body fat, so you pretty much need to monitor everything you eat.
As the process of dieting goes on, and you start restricting your calories even further, testosterone levels in both men and women drop – which means your libido fades away to zero.
Still, at least “Sorry love, it’s my body’s natural fight-or-flight instinct sparing nutrients for energy production, rather than the release of hormones," is a bit more original than “Not tonight pet, I’ve got a headache."
3. There is a reason for those tango tans
We may look like an Oompa Loompa who’s fallen in a lake of Ronseal, but there is a reason
Yeah, we may look like an Oompa Loompa who’s fallen in a lake of Ronseal, but there is a reason for the tan – and no, we don’t walk the streets like that!
Stage lights wash out even the darkest of skin tones, and when you’re trying to show off every muscle fibre, that’s the last thing you want. The deep, dark mahogany colour helps accentuate the muscle that bodybuilders have worked so hard to build.
Plus, how much of a prat would you look if everyone else was that colour onstage and you weren’t, eh?
4. Bodybuilders love getting up at 4am to eat raw eggs
Blame this one on Hugh Jackman. When he was training for the role of Wolverine, he spoke about waking up at 4am to eat egg whites and toast – and suddenly everyone was at it.
Hugh Jackman spoke about waking up at 4am to eat egg whites and toast
The idea comes from an old-school approach to dieting for bodybuilding, where you eat every 2-4 hours to prevent any muscle loss. What common sense tells us, however, is that recovery is key when trying to build muscle.
Waking up in the middle of the night to eat, thereby disturbing your sleep is completely counterproductive, and everyone should stop it.
5. Bodybuilders often get a bit carried away
Competitive bodybuilding is an extreme sport and often people go a little too extreme with their training. I tend to train for 1-2 hours a day, but it’s not uncommon for people to complete multiple sessions in 24 hours.
For some bodybuilders, a typical day can involve 30-60 minutes of cardio first thing in the morning, followed by 1-2 hours of weights in the afternoon and another 30-60 minutes of cardio afterwards. This is all while holding down a full-time job, often having a family, and also existing on a massive calorie deficit. No wonder they’re knackered!