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Muscle Structure & Unrealistic Expectations

Oct 05,2017

The idea of building muscle isn’t as simple as it ought to be.

Some, of course, simply believe in a slimmer and leaner interpretation of peak physical health. Others more or less believe that the more “built” they are, the healthier they’ll be. The truth, insofar as there is one, is somewhere in between. Healthy muscles matter and that means proper exercise and nutrition without neglect, and without going too far overboard.

One of the issues that keeps a lot of people focused on big muscles rather than healthy ones is that we are continually shown partially or entirely unrealistic examples of muscular ideals. Perhaps most of all, and for men specifically, this happens in film.

It is almost a rite of passage at this point for Hollywood actors to take roles for which they have to “bulk up” for several months. Some of the most prominent examples are in historical epics like Troy, for which Brad Pitt quite literally looked like a demigod, and 300, which garnered so much attention for its actors’ abs that it spawned its own workouts. There have also been plenty of examples in other action and superhero movies, as well as in sports dramas. It sometimes seems as if every actor in Hollywood takes a swing at a boxing movie for the purpose of bulking up. Jacke Gyllenhaal is one of the most recent examples and was almost unrecognizable as boxer Billy Hope in Southpaw. We see examples like these and aspire to look the same as the actors – forgetting, of course, that they’re paid millions to focus intently on fitness for months at a time, and with excellent professional support.

By extension, we sometimes see the same actors, or at least versions of the same characters, appearing in video games. There, if anything, musculature can be even more abnormally impressive. And these games can be somewhat difficult to escape if you’re a fan of gaming at all. You don’t need to go out and buy the brand new Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite console game to see superheroes in all their buff, 3D glory. Marvel and DC heroes alike are all over internet and mobile games as well. Playing options at prominent slot sites include big-name DC Comic heroes’ games, which use images of popular characters as symbols and backdrops. Essentially, no matter where you play, be it in a 3D fighting game or a simple browser-based slot or arcade, you can see the same bulging muscles that represent an unrealistic ideal.

Fiction aside, we also see a lot of incredible examples of nearly unrealistic muscle structures in the sports many of us know and love. There are almost too many examples to go through, but to choose someone at the height of physical fitness, we’ll consider LeBron James. Approaching 33 years of age, James is an athlete every bit as physically imposing as some of the movie heroes listed above, if not more so. He towers over the average man, seems not to have an ounce of fat on his body, and has arms that bulge like they were drawn by a comic book artist. Just remember this: his fitness reportedly comes at a price of about $1.5 million a year!

Having large muscles is terrific, and if you have the time and know-how, you may even approximate the look of some of these figures more closely than most. But if you’re concerned with muscle health, it’s always important to remember that some of our societal ideals are based on extreme, almost unattainable examples. It’s best to focus on health before pure bulk, and to focus your efforts on your own physique without idolizing that of an actor, athlete, or character.


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