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There’s a certain stigma attached to the term bodybuilding. For example, if I were to say I am passionate about personal fitness as opposed to bodybuilding, people seem to get very different ideas. For the first, I’m seen as a health conscious individual, but the latter somehow makes me into a person just blindly accumulating muscle mass. For many, this association causes them to disassociate with the sport as a whole. It is unfortunate that this major misconception could deter the masses from pursuing their passion. The problem stems from a long line of micro-misconceptions associated with bodybuilding.

I would like to combat a few:

Bodybuilders are the modern day jocks.

And just when I thought we were past the stereotypical jock perspective – enter bodybuilding. For some reason, if you look like a bodybuilder, people often assume you must not be focused on intellectual pursuits. Is it illogical or unintelligent to pursue your best self both physically and intellectually? As Dr. Stacy Beito describes, “Many of the best and biggest bodybuilders have careers in non-fitness fields like law, medicine, engineering, and law enforcement, and are considered to be leaders in the community.

Weight training makes your muscles rigid.

Some people typecast fitness based on lifting and cardio as though the two never cross and don’t complement each other. In reality, weight training burns fat and improves athletic performance with many of the same benefits that come along with doing cardio. As Namita Nayyar explains, “If anything, when done properly (slowly and using a complete range of motion), weight training increases flexibility.

When you stop training your muscle mass will turn to fat.

Like any sport, if you stop training, you decondition, but your progress doesn’t turn to fat at the snap of your fingers. In the case that you do put weight on, it’s not a direct correlation. As James G. Perkins describes, “The right explanation for the fats you see is that, once you stop your muscle building exercises, which are invariably fat burning exercise; consumption of foods especially without measuring them will lead to storage fats.” Like any case, if you continue to eat more than you burn, you will put on weight. One has to account for the calories they are no longer burning if they do decide to cease all activity.

To be a bodybuilder, you have to compete.

Sure, most people are excited about their progress and therefore they decided to compete and show how far they have come, but no one is forcing anyone to do anything. You can still be a bodybuilder and choose not to compete. It’s not like one follows the other. It’s a personal choice. As explained in this article, “Technically, anyone who is using training in or out of the gym, in order to change the shape and composition of their body, is a bodybuilder.”

So maybe you’re a bodybuilder after all?