In today's April 15, 2011 newsletter . . .

  • Is Bodybuilding a Bad Word?

  • Supple Seniors

Is Bodybuilding a Bad Word?

When people hear the word bodybuilding, many of them, maybe most, think of the almost freakish looking men and women on the covers of today’s muscle magazines. It wasn’t always that way. Magazine covers in years past featuring, say, Steve Reeves, or John Grimek, were images of people to admire.

Strongman and author Brooks Kubik writes about the lifters and bodybuilders of the early and mid-20th century and their training. These were real athletes who may have flexed muscles on stage, but they were not posers. A man like Grimek was Mr. America (twice) and also a national champion of the Olympic style lifting.

It is too bad the term bodybuilding got tainted. Jack LaLanne, a bodybuilder, and certainly athletic, said anyone simply doing push-ups for strength and fitness was, in fact, bodybuilding. The word got swiped and corrupted, and steroid use played a big role. Today there are natural bodybuilding competitions (no drugs and contestants are tested). But, unfortunately, the average person may not recognize the distinction between bodybuilding's steroid users and nonusers.

Personal note: At my age, I no longer look the part of a bodybuilder. I purposely carry a lot less bulk than I did when I was younger, about 40 pounds less. Shirtless, I still look muscular for my age. (At least my wife tells me I do.) I’m in shape. If asked what I do for exercise, I say mostly weight training, purposely staying clear of the B word. I do this even though I believe building up and taking care of one’s body is an admirable thing.

But spending much time thinking about the way things used to be is wasteful and leads nowhere. Perfectly good words get high-jacked. Keep working out and rejoice in the benefits. Just between us, there's nothing wrong with bodybuilding.

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Supple Seniors

Flexibility usually gets short shrift when it comes to time spent in a fitness program. Usually it is the last factor listed in the big three of a balanced program: 1) resistance training; 2) cardio; and 3) flexibility.

Twist my arm behind my back and force me to rate their relative importance and I would list them the same way: 1) resistance training; 2) cardio; and 3) flexibility. Even so, this doesn’t mean flexibility doesn’t matter. It does matter.

Some activities and sports demand flexibility beyond the norm. But basic fitness workouts for everyone should include some stretching and relaxation following workouts. It is time well spent, whether it is five or 10 minutes or in classes designed around yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi or other organized programs and methods.

You can learn more here.

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Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women

Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

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The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you. Your comments and questions are always appreciated.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter