Training Practices and Ergogenic Aids Used by Male Bodybuilders
Bodybuilding involves performing a series of poses on stage where the competitor is judged on aesthetic muscular appearance. The purpose of this study was to describe training practices and ergogenic aids used by competitive bodybuilders, and to determine whether training practices comply with current recommendations for muscular hypertrophy. A web-based survey was completed by 127 competitive male bodybuilders. The results showed that during the off-season phase of training (OFF), the majority of respondents performed 3-6 sets per exercise (95.3%), 7-12 repetition maximum (RM) per set (77.0%) and 61-120 s recovery between sets and exercises (68.6%). However, training practices changed 6-weeks prior to competition (PRE), where there was an increased number of respondents who reported undertaking 3-4 sets per exercise at the expense of 5-6 sets per exercise (P < 0.001); an increase in the number reporting 10-15RM per set from 7-9RM per set (P < 0.001); and an increase in the number reporting 30-60 s versus 61-180 s recovery between sets and exercises (P < 0.001). Anabolic steroid use was high among respondents competing in amateur competitions (56 out of 73 respondents), while dietary supplementation was used by all respondents. The findings of this study demonstrate that competitive bodybuilders comply with current resistance exercise recommendations for muscular hypertrophy; however these changed prior to competition during which there is a reduction in volume and intensity. This alteration, in addition to an increase in aerobic exercise volume is purportedly used to increase muscle definition. However, these practices may increase the risk of muscle mass loss in natural compared to amateur bodybuilders who reportedly use drugs known to preserve muscle mass.