“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
While taping a segment for a webinar summit last week (David Sean’s Woman Meets Weights; available next month), I commented on how sad I thought it was that bodybuilding has taken on such a negative connotation since the true arms race /freak show began in the late ’80s.  I mean, I get it.  Like a chase-the-shiny-thing crack whore, bodybuilding did this to herself, growth hormone gut and all.  And yeah, popular culture and environment set the stage, but ultimately bodybuilding could have taken the high road. Instead, though, it continued to reward sheer size-and-shred over proportion and aesthetics.  Hell, I’m immersed in the Physical Culture scene, yet I haven’t paid attention to the bodybuilding stage since I last stepped on stage myself in the early 90s, during what was a short-lived (and, as it turned out, ill-fated) attempt from the more sane factions of the sport to promote “drug tested” shows.
Unfortunately, “reasoned and sane” rarely sells; this we know all too well.  My point in all this (and the point I hope I made in the webinar segment), was that I learned just about all of the functional anatomy I ever needed to know from smart bodybuilders.  I coupled that with some extensive book digging, pestered the living crap out of my PT friends and, well, wound up with a pretty decent knowledge of how the body moves through space and reacts to stress and isolation movement.
But somehow along the way, the training community completely disavowed itself from anything that even hinted at bodybuilding culture.  The bad and the ugly (and doo rags and baggy pants) of the sport were unceremoniously exorcised from the “pure” barbell sports and athletic S&C entities.  Then Greg Glassman and Crossfit came along in the late 90s and (very effectively, I might add) bombed anything that even hinted of bodybuilding culture back to the stone ages.
You PoliSci geeks still awake enough to catch the Curtis LeMay reference in that last paragraph?  😉
But the problem with that, of course, is that nothing exists totally in a vacuum of “good” or “bad”.  So although the S&C attributes of the iron game were brought to light and made available to those as a viable option to the “pump and primp” aspect, a vast wealth of credible knowledge was cast by the wayside as well.  As if that knowledge were somehow tainted by the seedier elements of the sport.
Complete bullshit, of course.  But hey, that’s the way it goes with marketing and public opinion.  Throw the baby out with the bathwater; torch the effigy of bodybuilding, and with it, all the credible knowledge as well.
And there is a TON of credible knowledge out there.  You just need to get over your aversion-and-ick as it relates to bodybuilding, and go look for it.
I’m just glad that I’ve always been the contrarian.  I’ve been the guy in the late 80s Gold’s gym doing hang cleans and jerks (complete with clanging metal 45s).  And I’m that blasphemous bastard now who champions dips and lateral raises and bent over rows…and curls (gasp!) in the squat rack (but isn’t he an S&C guy???).  5 x 5 and German Volume Training.  Selected isolation movements.  Cruise on over to the Theory to Practice Facebook group and checkout some of my workouts.  Or some of those from other group members.  It’s a smorgasbord of training ideas, and we like it that way.
The key, of course, for success and longevity in the iron game is the proper integration (at the proper time) of all modalities.  Want to put on some size, protect your joints, and level-up some imbalances?  You better come to be well-versed in functional anatomy and the “repetition” method.  And who knows that?  Bodybuilders, that’s who.  Especially old school bodybuilders,  like Vince Gironda.  But I like Ben Pakulski’s take as well.
And just an aside: think low carbohydrate / cyclic carbohydrate diets are “new”.  What about the idea of “30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking” for fat loss?  No, it’s not Tim Ferriss (as much as I like the dude); try the bodybuilding community… of about nineteen-friggin’-sixty.  There’s nothing new here folks.  All I need to do to retire to the proverbial coconut farm is develop a compliance pill.  Really, the only thing new I’ve seen in the last going-on-40-years now, is ARXFit equipment and ID Nutrition baseline supplementation.  Which is why I’m such an enthusiastic part of both.  On second thought, I’d add creatine, ZMA, and Westside-esque conjugate (concurrent) training to that mix.  And I’m totally down with those as well.  The rest is rehash and tweaks.  Nothing at all wrong with that (if it works, it works).  But if you’re looking for a new-and-easy route to Swoleville, one that doesn’t require an immense amount of work with the tried-and-true basics, you’re in for much disappointment.
But back to the point at hand: to the extent that you completely disregard any one method/methodology will be at the detriment to your overall progress.  Training has to be approached in periods, seasons, and rhythms.  And with daily variance.  Anything less leads to stagnation — or worse — injury.  You’ve got to become adept at synthesising the best aspects of these various methodologies to best fit YOUR needs.  And it’s inherent in the Five Ts training philosophy; specifically, techniques and tools.
So yes, embrace the best of what bodybuilding has to offer.
But please, and for the love of God, leave the doo rags and balloon pants to the dustbin of history 😉
In health, fitness, and ancestral wellness –


  1. Good read. I would aadd there is a difference between pro and amateur bodybuilding, especially when it comes to distended guts. I’ve heard some rumblings that smaller BB orgs are implementing a new “classic physique” (60’s, 70’s) class. Let’s also not forget recovery/sleep, which was made famous by the bodybuilding community except the chemically enhanced didn’t follow that advice too well. I’ve always said if you want to look like a physique athlete, you better train like one. Long live GABA!

  2. There’s a trend in everything these days for people to want and get something fast with as little work as possible. Few are prepared to put in years of effort for a desired result, be that re-proportioning their body from flabby slackerdom to a chiseled, lean, muscular one or years of study in academia for a high-powered degree. People want instant results, so they take, or want to take short cuts. Extraneous information be damned (so much for understanding anatomy as you point out).

    The old, tried and trusted ways are consigned to the dustbins of history and so many pursuits and interests are now completely fad driven. And many fail to achieve their goals. Even worse, maintain them in the long term. And then moan about the fact some program doesn’t work or it takes too much effort or there’s too much to learn. They want it simple, effortless and instantly.

    I suspect the fast rate of change in today’s world means people think they’ll be left behind if the commit to doing just one thing over an extended period.


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