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Bodybuilding isn’t all tanning and flexing. With proper planning, you are looking at some great programming for hypertrophy and strength. Adding bodybuilding to your training program has its benefits.

What is Bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding aims to improve the aesthetics of the muscles by focusing on each and every one individually, and as needed. The “ideal” body, according to bodybuilding standards, should have certain proportions. Those competing for the body lift accordingly. Now, to clear it up right away, we certainly do not argue you should supplement your training with bodybuilding just to look a certain way. It is more about the style of training and how it makes us feel that appeal to us — plus, undeniably, how much it can benefit your other programming.

There is a lot of good that can come from the style and format of bodybuilding training — sets, repetitions, consistency, isolation, and moderate intensity. These are all the opposite of what we might be doing in our functional fitness classes. Just because you are WODing every day, it does not mean you are getting stronger or better every day. The purpose of constantly varied high-intensity functional training is to get generally fit. Bodybuilding helps you individually target weak spots that might otherwise get ignored.

We want to use bodybuilding because of why it works.

Why Does it Work?

Bodybuilding uses isolated exercises in an organized and systematic way to trigger a precise response. Movements like hammer curls versus preacher curls are carefully used to target different areas of the same muscle. As such, specific muscles become stronger, more reinforced and better able to fire up. Performing bicep curls in a functional fitness setting usually gets a few scoffs these days, but it certainly does teach your motor neurons within that muscle to fire up more effectively in a pull-up!

Using isolated exercises teaches a muscle how to contract by strengthening the neurological aspect of muscle contraction. Your brain sends a message to that muscle asking it to contract. More practice reinforces and strengthens this loop. The muscle is then quicker to reach when used in a compound exercise.

More importantly, isolated exercises lead to strength improvements. Simply firing up the muscle also makes it stronger. You don’t need to perform 800 repetitions. Just a couple of sets at 60-65% RM and you are good to go. Again, your muscle will be more engaged during the functional, compound movements you perform during WODs.

How to Add Bodybuilding to Your Routine

To add bodybuilding to your training, you first have to find a weakness you want to work on. Recklessly throwing in a few bicep curls at the box will only earn you a few snide remarks. Wanting bigger biceps is not a good reason — keep it functional and always work on your weaknesses. Remember, this is about performing better.

Here are some ideas.

Weakness #1: Low Squat Numbers

Bodybuilding exercises to add:

  • Glute bridge
  • Fire hydrants or clams
  • Good mornings
  • Leg extension machine

Weakness #2: Low Deadlift Numbers

Bodybuilding exercises to add:

  • Straight leg deadlifts
  • Single leg deadlifts
  • Good mornings
  • Hyperextensions
  • Abdominal work

Weakness #3: Low Clean

Bodybuilding exercises to add:

  • Good mornings
  • Calf raises
  • Glute bridge
  • Deadlifts
  • Front squats
  • Abdominal work

Weakness #4: Pull-Ups

Bodybuilding exercises to add:

  • Cable, straight arm pull-downs
  • Bicep curls
  • Seated row
  • Reverse fly’s