7 October 2014
A subculture is a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture. I chose the subculture of Bodybuilding because it seems to be a relatively new thing that a lot of people are getting into. So many people go to the gym nowadays that it is almost becoming a normal thing in life. I hoped to learn what they do and why they do it and how.
Bodybuilding is defined as a process of developing muscle fibers through special training exercises, increased calorie diet, and sufficient amount of rest. The process then becomes a sport called competitive bodybuilding, where the athletes display their physical body to judges and receive points for their musculature appearance. There are also power lifting and physique competitions that follow similar guidelines. Many people though I find do not compete and just do it for themselves. Many people believe that in the end of the 20th century, bodybuilders have formed a unique subculture with their own set of values, symbols, language and norms. The bodybuilding subculture is now regarded as a lifestyle, an attitude towards life, people, and the human physique.
There are several reasons as to why one would enter into the world of bodybuilding. Some of these reasons include, gaining self-confidence, wanting to make a lifestyle change, attract attention, be in shape, etc. Maybe you were that geeky scrawny kid in school that got picked on all the time. You figure if you start lifting weights and bulking up, people might start to respect you a little more. This exact situation has happened to tons of people. A lot of them then become so involved with weight lifting that they could never stop. They gain a certain passion for the sport. Once you become immersed within the subculture, you take on a new unique set of values and morals that are often different from mainstream society. For example, the word “freak” has a negative connotation attached to it. However, in the bodybuilding world, being called a freak is a huge compliment. Bodybuilding really is more a state of mind that is manifested in the gym in the mirror.
Bodybuilding norms boils down to training, eating and resting. Many train with a similar split. Most train back and biceps one day then chest, shoulders and triceps the next day and finally legs the last day. This is a typical three day split in which they would do twice a week with one off day. Most eat a lot in order to grow big and strong muscles. Most eat about six meals per day and sometimes more. They say you need to “eat big to get big.” Most of them eat a lot of carbohydrates and especially protein rich foods. Finally comes sleep or rest time. A lot of them sleep a lot and even take naps during the day. Their favorite quote is “you don’t grow in the gym, you grow when you rest.”
As far as language goes they have their own lingo. They have terms for different body parts and exercise that regular people wouldn’t understand. For example they call the lat muscle “shields”. They also call certain exercise that hurt “back snaps or shoulder pops.” Other than that their language is not much different outside of the gym. They have symbols that represent them which include tank tops, gyms and barbells. These symbols really represent what they do.
As far as values go many bodybuilders value hard work and determination. It takes a long time to achieve what they have with a lot of consistency. Muscle building is a very slow process. They also value each other’s gains (muscle mass). Since only another bodybuilder knows what it takes to achieve a physique like they have. Only they know about the strenuous workouts and strict diet that goes along with bodybuilding that you must follow day after day.
Despite their macho physical appearance, bodybuilders I find are quite friendly. There is a misconception that these guys are narcissistic and self-centric.