A glimpse into the forums of bodybuilding.com


Recently I’ve heard quite a lot about something called the Dark Web. In case you don’t know, ‘Dark Web’ is a term used to refer to the ensemble of websites that, despite being publicly accessible (so long as your device is equipped with specific software), hide the IP addresses of the servers that host them. The intention is for the people behind these websites as well as those who access them to remain anonymous. Anyhow, the reason why I bring up the Dark Web is because a few days ago, I think I’ve stumbled on the Mecca of what ought to be called the Dumb Web. The website I have in mind as I write this is forums.bodybuilding.com.

     In case you’ve not heard of forum.bodybuilding.com before, it’s an online environment in which members of the public, generally health and fitness enthusiasts, ask for specific muscle building advice, share their workout routines, document their progress, brag about how much protein they consume in a day, and generally exchange ideas (using the word ‘ideas’ very charitably). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the male members seem to significantly outnumber the female members. However, while you don’t find very many actual women on the site, you do find numerous visual representations of them posted in certain threads, mostly objectifying representations, the intention of which is to stimulate sexual excitement.

     One thing I found intriguing is the general choice of profile pictures. Some of these men seem really eager to show off their bodies to their fellow bodybuilders. The curious thing is that their profile pics genuinely show nothing but their torso. I think it’s very indicative of these people’s self-objectification that they choose to represent themselves in this manner, leaving out the chief feature that individuates them as a human being, their face. Incidentally, for an environment in which homophobia is oftentimes more than just implied, the whole thing seems strangely homoerotic. Just think about it: young men showing off their naked, muscular bodies and complimenting each other on them. There’s definitely something more going on there.

     There’s an array of interesting threads to be found on this site. One of the more memorable ones consists of a highly complex, dare I say almost metaphysical discussion about the Gregorian calendar. The thread opens with someone with the deliciously appropriate pseudonym ‘m1ndless’ asking whether or not it is safe to do a full body workout every other day. He adds that if he were to abide by this plan, he would have to go to the gym 4 to 5 times a week. Someone called ‘steviekm3’ is quick to remind him that a week only has 7 days, so if m1ndless decides to work out every other day, that means he’d work out 3.5 times a week. Another chap, TheJosh, is perplexed, asking how it is even possible to work out half a time. Luckily, someone points out that the solution to this problem is to think in terms of two weeks instead of one. It all goes downhill from here. I’ll spare you the details, but basically, what happens next is a lengthy but weirdly entertaining dispute between TheJosh and Justin-27 about how many days there are in two weeks. As is customary on the Internet, things get out of hand quickly and people resort to shouting insults at each other. Technically, text-based communication doesn’t really allow for shouting, but as everyone seems to have appreciated by now CAPITAL LETTERS DO THE TRICK, YOU F*CKING C*NT!!!

     Masturbation is another interesting topic I came across. “To wank or not to wank? That is the question.” (Incidentally, this is a reference that I’m sure only very few bodybuilders would get). The worry for a lot of these people seems to be that masturbation could hinder their muscle development. Supposedly, as one ejaculates and the sperm is evacuated out of the penis onto some tissues or toilet paper, a lot of testosterone and protein is lost; testosterone and protein that would otherwise have contributed to muscle development. But as I read through the many threads that dealt with this particular problem I came to understand that this whole ‘masturbation hinders gains’ thing amounted to little more than an unfounded belief, held only by a negligible number of people, which means that, to my relief, most members of the forums of bodybuilding.com are wankers after all.

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