Bodybuilding & Bone Size
According to the University of Arizona, the best sports for increasing bone size and density are those that involve weight-bearing exercises, particularly bodybuilding. When your muscles are subjected to increased load resistance, they pull on your bones; over time, this leads to stronger, bigger bone tissue. Moderate training will help build your bones; however, the greater the loads you lift, the bigger your bones will become.
Bodybuilding is an activity that entails the use of exercise, weight training and dieting to improve body composition. It is employed as a competitive sport by people throughout the world, but many practice it simply to experience its vast array of health benefits, including increased bone mass; the benefits of which contribute to prevention against diseases such as osteoporosis and arthritis.
There are three ways to increase bone size, namely, by increasing the frequency of your bodybuilding training, performing more repetitions during each session, or increasing the intensity of your training. However, of these three methods, increasing the intensity of training leads to a greater increase in bone mineral content. Bodybuilding -- the primary training method to engage in high intensity weight training -- is particularly effective at increasing bone mass. In a study conducted by the Federation of Rheumatology, researchers measured the bone densities of 704 men, each of whom performed one of fourteen sports during their life -- rugby, soccer, other team sports, endurance running, fighting sports, multiple weight-bearing activities, swimming, swimming with flippers, biking, rowing, climbing, triathlon and bodybuilding. Of all these sports, bodybuilding ranked among the most effective at increasing bone mass, particularly in the arms.
In addition to increased bone size, bodybuilding also contributes to a number of other health benefits, including increased muscle mass and basal metabolic rate, improved cardiovascular health and prevention against health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, back pain and depression. It has also shown to benefit the elderly in terms of overall musculoskeletal health and reduced risk of falling.
You need not necessarily become a bodybuilder to derive the benefits of weight lifting; simply engage in moderate strength training at least twice a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Work all of your major muscle groups – arms, shoulders, chest, back, abdomen, hips and legs. Perform your exercises to the point where it is difficult for you to execute another repetition without help. Avoid injury by always training with a partner and increasing the intensity of your bodybuilding workout progressively. For optimum health benefits, combine your training with aerobic exercise and eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, both of which are essential for bone growth.
- University of Arizona: Bone Builders - Exercise
- University of New Mexico: Resistance Training and Bone Mass
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Growing Stronger – Strength Training for Older Adults
- “Osteoperosis in Men”: The Effect of Gender on Skeletal Health; B. Beck; R. Marcus; 1999
- “Osteoperosis International”: Bone mineral density of 704 amateur sportsmen involved in different physical activities; J. Morel, B. Combe, J. Francisco, J. Bernard; 2001
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone
- Jupiterimages/Digital Vision/Getty Images