Competitive bodybuilder, trainer, and former Western student Alicia MacDougall hanging out and presenting her MSc research on Branched Chain Amino Acids in the context of bodybuilding. Alicia has competed 3 times at the regional level, 3 times at the provincial level, and is now nationally qualified! 

The Art and pursuit of Muscle 

For some, bodybuilding is a means to an end; for others it is an end in itself. Athletes in strength sports are deliberate or accidental 'bodybuilders' to the extent that they simply need more muscle than endurance athletes. Perhaps, as Greg Nuckols argues, powerlifters should train more like bodybuilders. However, this kind of 'practical bodybuilding' is not the first image that comes to mind for the general public: they think tans, oil, flexing, posing, steroids, and either the huge bodybuilders of the so-called Golden Age of Bodybuilding (eg. Arnold) or the stupefyingly huge Mr. Olympias of today. But this misses the current trend: the stratification of bodybuilding into more weight and aesthetic categories for men and especially for women (bikini, figure, physique, and 'bodybuilding', in increasing musculation). Though denigrated by some as a muscular beauty contest, it is a legitimate sport in the sense of massively demanding training culminating in a competition. 

An engraving of the famed Farnese Hercules, one of the most muscular statues of antiquity.

Almost everyone going to the gym at some point seeks muscular development (even if under the nonsense premise of 'toning up'). Even though we are Western Strength, and not Western Muscle, we recognize the profound connections and correlations between strength and muscle. Despite various problems endemic to bodybuilding culture (eg. vanity and body dysmorphia) it yields, on the other hand, valuable tools for strength development and potentially human empowerment. Anyone who has trained hard and then eaten a protein-rich meal has already participated, consciously or unconsciously, in this perplexing phenomenon.