Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating on the Faculty of Exercise and Sport Science, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing advice for better life. Follow him on Twitter.
The way you pump iron reveals whether you are an advocate of the new age of bodybuilding, or a guardian of the old wisdom.
Both approaches have their pros and cons, and weighing them is something that is dependent of both highly subjective factors and objective circumstances.
So, can the gaping cleavage be bridged, or will the collision of the two worlds leave a permanent scar on the face of bodybuilding?
The Metal Age
The old school philosophy can be summarized in one sentence: eat like crazy, and train in the same fashion.
The very essence of this style is the relationship between man and metal. When I say this I mean things like barbells and dumbbells; not complex machines and equipment.
Training is stripped down to the basics: there is no need to clutter good old exercise with over-thinking, a bunch of supplements, and complicated contraptions. The only thing you are supposed to overdo is the workout itself.
Scientific studies are not worth much when you have the undeniable truth of sweaty practice.
Furthermore, fancy shakers and supplements like creatine are redundant, as the only way to obtain results is to train hard.
Old-fashioned bodybuilders are often strangers to the concept of “lean bulking”.
The key is in the simplicity, and training is all about intensity and frequency.
You need to push your body to the limit and eat like a starving man when the reservoirs are depleted. This method reflects on the body.
For many people, the physique of the old school bodybuilder is more aesthetically pleasing and proportional.
Still, these rules and practices set in stone putt off some people, while propagators swear by them.
The latter like to look back at the golden age of bodybuilding, which is fine, but what about the innovations and the impact of technology? Are they to be ignored and dismissed?
Dawn of a New Era
The new bodybuilding frontier has formed around versatile fitness equipment, multifarious supplements, and cutting-edge digital solutions.
As such, the modern school is much more precise and calculated.
For example, you can pinpoint the number of calories you burn every day, maximize muscle growth, and minimize body fat. Also, a wide array of supplements gives you a chance to stay lean all-year-long and fill nutrient gaps.
The new way of bodybuilding takes advantage of the consumer’s freedom of choice.
Everyone is able to jump on the fitness bandwagon today, and this has earned bodybuilding the adjective “commercial”. Therefore, the general public is more familiar with this practice today that it was before.
Newcomers can purchase a new smart phone, download a fitness app, pay gym memberships online, and receive video tutorials and guidance. There is also a plethora of user-friendly trackers tailored to weightlifters.
Some simply count reps and sets, and are capable of automatically detecting the type of exercise you perform.
Take the example of Atlas, a wrist-based tracker, which captures the following workout data: heart rate, reps, sets, speed, calories burned, distance traveled. Moreover, it evaluates your form and possesses the capacity to learn new forms of exercise, on top of recognizing those such as push ups and pull-ups.
Other solutions like the Beast Sensor go an extra mile, enhancing performance with real-time strength metrics, speed and power analysis and recommendations.
Many are those who manage to forge a distinctive style with the elements of both.
Old school bodybuilders have a point when they argue that there are neither magic pills nor tech marvels that can bring you instant results.
They issue a warning against the dark side of technology, but for various reasons, often refrain from looking at the light.
In any regard, it is the athlete that determines the outcome of the training, not mathematical equations or golden rules.
The Best of Both Worlds
Bodybuilding ideology aside, there is no need to shy away from incorporating ideas that work for you into your regimen.
The old and the new converge, shaping an exciting future for the discipline.
You have a chance to access broad overall health data, or download specialized apps for practices such as weightlifting.
On the other hand, some things like determination and the importance of invested effort never change.
Ultimately, bodybuilding style is a matter of lifestyle: it does not matter much how your training gets classified as long as it produces results.
Editor’s note: It doesn’t matter how many supplements, machines, and apps you use… if you don’t put in the work, you won’t get the results.