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The 24/7 Athlete

Bodybuilders are the hardest working athletes in the world. Point blank. No athletic pursuit in this world requires a comparable sort of single-minded focus. Bodybuilding is not a mere physical past time. It is a way of life. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, the bodybuilder pursues excellence. The day of the contest is nearly a competitive afterthought for the bodybuilder. Every meal and every training session is a battle of will, an all out struggle for supremacy against the most daunting of all foes. Yourself.

Sure, greatness in any physical arena necessitates dedication and practice. The extra hours spent on the field or the court can cumulatively make up the difference between bench warmer and All-American or between also ran and finishing in the money. Shit, to be great in anything, you need to want it more than the next guy. Say goodbye to regular eating and casual trips to the gym. Day in and day out the bodybuilder must stalk improvement. There will be no repose and no sabbatical. There truly is no rest for the weak, and even less for the strong.

Shit, even in a bodybuilder’s off-season he busts his ass–the weights get heavier and the meals get bigger. Compare that to a spring spent playing golf and sipping cocktails at the country club. You sure you don’t want to consider strapping that helmet back on? Not everyone is cut out for this shit. If you’re still with me, chances are you have already made your choice. You are one of the few, the dedicated, the demented. Those sick enough in the dome to devote their lives to a brutal, regimented lifestyle with very little potential for personal accolades or the accumulation of financial wealth. For this you deserve to be revered, or at the very least observed for science.

Everyday is game day for the bodybuilder. The gym is your field of play and you lay it all on the line every time, as if today may be your last. Driven by the desire to present the best physique possible, you view each training session as a challenge, time spent as an investment in a bigger, better version of yourself. The dues must be paid day in and day out and you are more than happy to ante up. Ask any champion and he’ll give you the 411–the big contest is not won on the stage, it is won in small increments every time you murder yourself in the gym, months out from the show.

If you train five days a week, in a year that totals 260 gym sessions, not even counting pre-contest cardio which could also be thrown in the mix for in excess of two hours daily. Compare that to a pro baseball player and his 162-game season, which is no doubt tough when you consider all the travel involved. But lets get real. They get paid millions, never have to play on no carbs and the only time they squat is on the shitter. Truth be told, most athletes of all varieties spend some time in the weight room. What was once frowned upon as fare for musclebound meatheads is now an essential element of success on any athlete’s chosen field of play.

What really separates bodybuilding from every other sporting event known to man is diet. Check out Sportscenter some night and you’re sure to see some sign of lacking physical fitness. Imagine an elite athlete with narrow shoulders or a belly that hangs over his belt, faux pas in the bodybuilding world and veritable impossibilities considering the regimented diet that is at the heart of the lifestyle. Only bodybuilders weigh their food, tally their protein and calories, travel with a cooler full of apportioned meals and drink nutrients almost as often as they eat them.

This is the shit that separates the men from the boys: eating not when you want to, but when you have to; eating not what you like to but what you must. All in the name of progress. Getting closer and closer to the freak you need to be- one dry ass chicken breast at a time. This is a mind state that most folks can’t quite grasp and to which very few can truly relate.

Don’t think that effort goes unnoticed, Animal. Where the average hockey player can blend into the rest of society when out among the public, the bodybuilder wears his uniform out into the world every single day. Beyond the sneers of the jealous and the misinformed, above the drug accusers and the naysayers, the bodybuilder stands proud for he knows how few could ever walk in his shoes.

The rest of the athletic culture has come to appreciate the sacrifice and dedication of the bodybuilder and has come to value the benefits of conditioned muscularity and explosive strength. The physiques of the Olympic sprinter or the NFL linebacker are testaments to the influence of the bodybuilding aesthetic and the new standard that is being set in athletic culture. A standard chiseled into place by the elite fraternity of which you and I are both members.

It is we, the select few, the Brotherhood of Iron, who have placed the bar for athletic discipline and effort so high. Each time you squat ‘til you puke, pop the tupperware on your chicken and rice, blend a shake or can’t get out of bed because you are so sore from deads... every time you chalk up the bar or wrap your knees, know that you are the one… the one willing to do what it takes, to leave it all on the table, to go the extra mile. The one who could give a fuck about a blurb in the sports page or the admiration of onlookers. You are the one. An Animal. You are a bodybuilder–the hardest working athlete in the world. Fuck yeah.

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