"I don't want to look like a bodybuilder, so I'm not going to train like one."
"I don't want to look bulky, just toned."
Have you ever had these thoughts when getting into a training program? Maybe you've had a conversation like this with your trainer or coach. It is a huge concern for a lot of men and women getting into fitness, especially when it comes to bodybuilding "styles" of training or exercises that could be considered "bodybuilding exercises."
Getting "too big" is so much of a concern, that a lot of people decide to adopt a training style more risky and dangerous, just to ensure the results they get are not too extreme.
The question is, does training like a bodybuilder offer value to the everyday gym goer, and how?
Train Like A Bodybuilder
The first thing we want to look at, is the goal of the bodybuilder compared to the goal of someone trying to drop body fat and look toned?
In the sport of bodybuilding, muscular size, clarity, conditioning, fullness and symmetry are all points the competitors are judged on. For this reason, food and workout regimens have to be scheduled, planned out, and consistent enough to see measurable results.
Each exercise must also be specific and performed very well to target the right areas. For the average gym-goer, dropping body fat, getting toned, definition, and symmetry are also desired traits, which require similar food and workout schedules in order to measure change.
The second thing to notice is how bodybuilders train.
Typically, a workout schedule for a bodybuilder will consist of one or two body parts training the same day each week.
For example: Tuesday is back and biceps, Thursday is legs, and so on.
Muscles will respond very well to a schedule and is important to be able to measure change and rate of change.
This is an effective way to structure the week so nothing is over-trained. For the everyday gym-goer, you can make the same argument that having a schedule for workouts and food should also be a requirement.
Most trainers you can hire will give you a similar schedule to make sure they have information to base your results off of.
You can't improve what you don't measure.
When weight training, remember that the goal of each exercise is to create tension in a targeted muscle group or groups and see how much force the muscle(s) can tolerate in each set.
It's common to see bodybuilders lifting very heavy amounts of weight, and then as an onlooker you might be thinking, "this is how to train and get big." Or, you might avoid it altogether thinking it will lead to big and bulky muscles.
Although partly true, more speaks to the fact that most of these athletes are progressed to lift that heavy and are lifting what is appropriate for them in their respective training program. Oftentimes, you may see competitors not lifting very heavy and taking slower and longer sets.
It's all dependent on the bodybuilder and their goals.
So, how does this apply to the average person?
With bodybuilders, the majority of these pro athletes are on very regimented food, training and drug cycles in order to attain the look they have on stage.
The fact of the matter is, if you took out the drugs, massive amounts of food, and just looked at the value training that way does, it's exactly what most clients are asking for.
They want to get stronger, lower their body fat percentage, improve muscular function, and be healthier. Each exercise bodybuilders use, even for the average gym-goer, will still improve the function of that muscle and how it controls that joint axis.
What better place to start, than from a controlled place where the person can focus on how the muscles and joints feel and function during each exercise.
I think the stigma bodybuilding has received of getting freakishly big or crazy shredded, prevents a lot of people from taking full advantage of what these "bodybuilding exercises" have to offer.
Closing Thoughts on Bodybuilding For the Average Gym-Goer
If you are unfamiliar with the gym or weight training, always think of your goals. The answer may be more simple than you think.
The fitness industry is filled with new, innovative ways to train, recover and eat. There will always be a new marketing message for a supplement that guarantees you instant success, but ultimately it's just a ploy to get you to spend more money.
We know how important getting in shape is. Especially if you are willing to spend a lot of money to get there. In my experience as a trainer, being in shape doesn't mean you have to train like the guy or girl in a Nike commercial.
Start with what your body can do and tolerate.
All the exercises you find in a bodybuilding routine will target each muscle group in an organized and specific way which makes it very valuable to a new person who isn't sure which muscles are working well and which aren't.
Not to say other styles of training don't offer as much value. But, if you are new to the gym or unsure of how training works, take advantage of learning from bodybuilding and what is has to offer.
You may find it is what you've been looking for all along.