The sports of pro wrestling and bodybuilding are in a league of their own. Truly popular in North America and around the globe, both have been laughed at, not taken seriously as sports and humiliated in the media. But, the two behemoths still pulled it off by becoming the cornerstones of the American sport-entertainment culture.
Pro wrestling and bodybuilding complete each other because they share the same goals, the same roots. The athleticism, the entertainment aspect and the dedication of the athletes involved in these two sports bare astonishing resemblance. Two worlds with bigger than life characters and Greek Gods bodies.
From hardcore workouts to flexing and posing, pro wrestling and bodybuilding have more in common than any other sports. Training through injuries, hard diets and tight schedules; those athletes are true sporting brothers, living on the end of a lightning bolt.
LIFE IN THE GYM:
Pumping iron is a way of life for the two sports. No athletes can go the distance without weight training but pro wrestlers and bodybuilders have taken lifting to new heights.
Both train to live a healthy life but the main focus of their professions his to look good and muscular. Bodybuilders are making a career at looking the most muscular and cut possible. Pro wrestlers on their side, must look big in the ring to create the larger than life aura that made the pro wrestling industry famous and marketable.
Most professional wrestlers have started their journey to the ring by lifting weights in the gym. WWE superstars like Rene Dupree, John Cena, Batista and Triple H have been contestants in regional/national bodybuilding contest before entering the squared circle.
In a special edition of the WWE Magazine published in December 2001, RAW World Heavyweight champion Triple H explains his view on the importance of bodybuilding for pro wrestlers: ďThe gym is definitely a sanctuary for me when Iím on the road. I canít imagine not going to the gym - itís part of the wrestling business to be in the best shape you can.Ē
The fact that pro wrestlers are on the road all year long has also a huge impact on their training routines. Wrestling is a time consuming business so wrestlers tend to plan their workouts around the bodybuilding basic exercises.
Wrestlers like Triple H, who sees bodybuilding as an asset to his career and well being, can hit the gym 4 to 5 times a week. On the other hand, those who train more to stay in shape for wrestling and donít want to be hardcore wrestlers/bodybuilders, may get to the gym 3 times a week.
Most do a fair amount of cardio on their off-nights, about 30-40 minutes, to keep their cardio-vascular capacity high. Stamina is very important in wrestling, since matches can go as long as 30 minutes non-stop. WWE superstars wrestle in the ring 3 to 4 times a week, so the actual matches are indeed the core of their cardio training.
But wrestling that many times a week sometimes makes it difficult for the wrestlers to get proper rest between workouts. Frequent injuries also put a hold on their training. Thatís why many stay away from super heavy movements. Some donít do heavy squats, saying that it has a devastating effect on their vertical leap.
You probably wonít see WWE guys pumping 200 pounds dumbbells ala Ronnie Coleman. Simply because wrestlers canít let their workouts alter their performance in the ring. Nonetheless, Triple H likes to put his body to the test by performing sets to failure. High-flyer Rob Van Dam on his part, goes heavy once a week for each body part, doing bench presses with 385 pounds for 6 reps and 405 pounds squats for 6 reps.
When youíre always on the road in a different gym everyday, the more simple your workouts are, the best results you get. Most wrestlers train each body part 1 or 2 times a week: 4 exercises for the major muscle groups (back, chest, legs) and 3 for the smaller muscles (biceps, triceps, shoulders).
The tricky part for pro wrestlers is always to train as heavy as they can during the day, without affecting their agility and ability to compete in the ring at night.
Pro wrestlers and bodybuilders donít train for countless hours in the gym simply because itís a part of their job, they do it because itís a passion. The love for the sport of bodybuilding has helped these athletes to surpass roadblocks (injuries, lousy paychecks and rankings) and become even more successful at what they do.
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME ENTERTAINMENT?
In 2004, the bodybuilding industry has become more and more like pro wrestling in term of entertainment value. The implantation of the challenge round at the Mr. Olympia, the trash talking during press conferences and the internet war or words between competitors have skyrocketed the entertainment aspect of bodybuilding to new heights.
Nobody knows when King Kamali or Lee Priest will go berserk and trash the bodybuilding community and give the IFBB a piece of their mind. At each contest, the IFBB and NPC judging rules are under attack by the athletes and the fans. The judges are now the heels (bad guy) and the bodybuilders the babyfaces (good guys).
Like pro wrestling, the clash of sizes in every IFBB contest now steals the show. Will the little guy with an aesthetic body finally beat the 290 pounds muscle freak? Each ďclanĒ have his legion of fans and the battle is raging as much in the stands than on stage.
Now, letís put some of those fiery rivalry to good use. The brand new challenge round is like a classic wrestling match. The warriors are announced, egos are banging, buffed bodies are fighting for the spotlight and nobodyís spot is safe. Jay Cutler said prior to the Olympia that the new round was ďgoing to add a lot of entertainment value to the showĒ.
Beyond the entertainment, the magazines covers and the oiled bodies on stage and in the ring, Bodybuilders and pro wrestlers share a dedication to their training regimen that no other sports can match. Unlike other disciplines, pro wrestlers and bodybuilders live their sports 24/7, all year long with very few rest periods.
The so-called off-season in bodybuilding might be less strenuous on the diet side, but in the gym, the finesse exercises are swept away by the return of heavy lifting and hardcore workouts. Bodybuilders go on a muscle mass building odyssey until their next pre-contest phase. There is no place for extended golf practice ala NHL hockey players. The off-season is crucial to the development of the bodybuilderís body and even more for his career.
In pro wrestling, the show must go on all year long. Wrestlers spend most of their time on the road, in a different city every night. Keeping a good training regimen in such conditions is a tough task. Sleep hours are cut, workout sessions are rushed and because of the aggressiveness of the sport, recuperation and rest are not sufficient.
Thatís where the importance of weight training comes into play. Triple H knows more than anybody that to prevent injuries and battle the inevitable, you have to be prepared. ďIím a big believer in consistency, because your body thrives on it. Be consistent with your workout.Ē
So, bodybuilders and pro wrestlers must thrive for a near perfect work ethic. Thereís no place for errors or shortcuts in theses two industries. Lack of confidence and direction can only result in injuries. Being complaisant and lazy can also destroy a career in no time. Pro wrestling and bodybuilding are very competitive and there are no guarantees for stardom.
But these two sports are really about pushing the envelope and being the best that you can be. Sure, thereís only one World Champion and one Mr. Olympia. But in their heart, bodybuilders and pro wrestlers are all true champions.
Bottom line, the two businesses have the same demand at the end: Highly trained athletes with off the chart bodies than can deliver big time on stage. Between the pain and the honors, thereís a complex way of life, full of sacrifices and joy, which needs to be backed up by tireless dedication from the athletes and their entourage. Thatís why pro wrestling and bodybuilding, in this day and age, are truly brothers in pain and iron.
Stephane Lajoie is a 23 years old sports journalist. He graduated from the UQAM in August 2004 with a bachelor's degree in communication/journalism.
I'm not sure that BB and PW are inherently connected. I think that they began to be more connected after the fitness revolution in America. Look at the physiques of wrestlers of the past. They weren't so great. The wrestlers didn't care, they wouldn't give up their good ole boy times for their looks.
But after the WWF commercialized wrestling, looks became very important. Who wants to play with a WWF action figure of a fat superstar?
The workouts of BBers and wrestlers are going to be massively different. Wrestlers are going to be concerned with maintaining their looks. They cannot invest the time and energy it takes to put on muscle(when you are already huge). Anyone who read Triple H's book can atest to that. The workouts he illustrates are truly light. I'm not calling him a pussy or anything. He isn't worried about getting huge anymore. (BTW he is sure getting peeled for WMXXI, no?).
Anyway, the Challenge Round was total bullshit. Dexter Jackson got totally screwed. BB contests should be about overall physiques, not if you have one freakishly big bodypart that you can exploit against the all around best body. The best body shouldn't have a bodypart that is disproportionate.
Anyway, what was the point of this article? Did you want to add any of your own thoughts or ideas?