Christmas is gone, college football has crowned its National Champion, the mercury is dropping, and the kids are back in school.
It must be another January in America, which also means that people all across the country are embarking on new fitness programs to shed the holiday blubber, start shaping up for spring, or become healthier so they can enjoy more of life’s pleasures.
Along with a sound exercise routine, the adoption of healthy eating habits is critical to the success of any fitness program.
Since this is a bodybuilding site, though, we’re going to first take a look at what hardcore strength athletes look for in a nutritional regimen and how that differs from the needs of the average fitness enthusiast.
As we’ll discover, while the goals of the these two groups may appear to be quite different, there is a lot of overlap in the processes they employ to achieve these goals. In this case, of course, these processes are the specific nutritional plans available for making body changes, and we’ll devote several articles to learning about the pros and cons of the most popular diets of the past few years.
But for now, let’s get back to the hardcore guys (and gals).
So, what are the goals of a competitive bodybuilder, or a non-competitive bodybuilder who still considers himself to be hardcore?
Well, the answer depends on the season of the year.
During the off-season, bodybuilders are interested in promoting as much muscle growth as possible, and, while they generally try not to get “sloppy” fat, they will usually concede some loss in leanness in order to build the muscle they crave.
Conversely, the in-season, or pre-contest, bodybuilder will be most interested in shedding bodyfat to allow him to display the muscle he has worked so hard to build.
Continuing to gain muscle while losing fat is not impossible, but most bodybuilders, during most cutting phases, are happy if they can lean out while maintaining current muscle size.
Conclusion: Minimizing muscle loss is definitely a priority.
While the serious strength athlete is interested in the extremes of muscularity and leanness, the typical fitness enthusiast is interested in losing weight or “getting in shape”.
However, just losing weight is not always all it’s cracked up to be.
There are many examples of people who lose tons of weight but still end up looking pretty terrible.
In fact, many people who undergo the wildly popular gastric bypass surgeries fit into this category.
They have undoubtedly lost a lot of weight and are probably healthier for it, but they simply look like smaller versions of their former selves.
They are like human lollipops in the mouth of some giant being: they shrink but make no changes to their proportions. People involved in fitness often refer to the resultant condition as “skinny fat”.