A Journal of Strength, Health, and Self Cultivation
Studying and listening to great works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and other famous musical composers brought forth a better understanding of body-building. Public domain image.
There is nothing wrong with wanting bigger muscles. But, if the acquisition of more muscle mass is all that you seek from a bodybuilding program, you will likely find nothing but disappointment from your training.
The reason for this is that muscles in and of themselves do not enhance a person’s psyche and intellect. Nor does the sole build-up of muscle tissue charge the human spirit with fulfillment and a sense of mastery. In short, going from A to B provides a person with little if the journey along the way fails to stimulate the mind, establish discipline, and provide a rewarding endeavor in and of itself.
It is only within the context of intellectual achievement that the true power of bodybuilding can be realized and understood. And, those who view strength training as nothing more than physical promotion cannot see nor realize the vastness of efficacy that a more complete approach to muscle building can provide.
However, strength athletes who approach bodybuilding as a life journey filled with opportunities to learn, to set and conquer goals, to problem solve, and to enjoy the process will obtain much more than just bigger muscles. They will procure many new skills and a heightened self-esteem, acquisitions which will last long after their acquired big muscles inevitably fade away with older age.
Perhaps you have noticed that on Muscles of Iron we do not solely publish “muscle-building” articles. And, it may appear that some of the articles and posts have nothing to do with strength training. However, if you are willing to take a deeper look, you will likely see that nearly all of the writings on this site serve to promote bodybuilding at a level of greater reverence than a mere emphasis on physical training could possibly achieve. That is, we aim to bring the world of physical culture something much more meaningful than just another repeat of how some star athlete built his huge arms or his massive chest.
I am a firm believer that to benefit the most from a bodybuilding program – in all contexts, not just in terms of muscle growth – the student of strength must expose him or herself to a variety of ideas, both within the world of physical culture and outside of it. Exposure to new ideas brings forth a higher understanding of phenomenon, a greater sense of pleasure, a heightened sense of awareness, and a more exciting life. In fact, to get the most from anything, you must first understand it. And, often times when we don’t like or benefit from something, it is because we don’t understand it.
Some years ago, I hated opera and I thought that rock ‘n roll was the only form of music that mattered. But, one day I had a lengthy discussion with a musician whom I highly respect, and he told me that I would probably enjoy listening to a chosen opera if only I would take the time to learn something about it through books, librettos, and other means. I vividly remember him telling me, “No appreciation of an opera can be complete if the story is unclear to the listener.”
My “teacher” also taught me that the more I learned about an opera in relationship to other forms of culture (including the life and times of the composer), the more benefit and fulfillment I would derive from listening to it. And, he was absolutely right. With just a little bit of self-study, I soon acquired a taste for opera and for other forms of music outside of the rock ‘n roll genre. In fact, as I am writing this post, playing on my turntable is The Barber of Seville, a terrific opera which was composed by Gioacchino Antonio Rossini.
Now, I hope that I did not bore you with my diversion to music. My point is that bodybuilding is much like an opera: You must understand it before you can derive the most pleasure and benefit from it. And, like an opera, the more you integrate bodybuilding with its culture and history, the more meaning and fulfillment it will bring to your life. Thus, the true power of bodybuilding can be unleashed only when something much greater in magnitude is sought than just larger muscles.