Is Bodybuilding Training or Diet More Important for Results?

Young woman taking a training break, preparing food in kitchen
Getty Images/Kevin Kozicki

Question:

What is more important for bodybuilding success: training or diet? I have heard that in order to get bodybuilding results, a bodybuilding diet is far more important than even bodybuilding training. Is this really the case? Where should I put my focus so I can achieve the best results?

Answer:

In order to get optimal bodybuilding results, you have to follow both the bodybuilding diet and the training on a daily basis.

Bodybuilding training and diet are like the wheels of a bicycle. If you lose one wheel you will have a very hard time getting to your destination.

Why You Need Bodybuilding Training

Bodybuilding training is the spark that stimulates the muscles to grow. Without it, even with the best diet in the world, muscle growth will never occur. In the most extreme, you can see hoardes of marathon runners or a peleton of Tour de France cyclists with extremely low body fat but minimal upper body muscle development. Being lean doesn't grow muscle, bodybuilding training grows muscle.

In order to get the development you want, you must put in the daily training that will stimulate your muscles to grow. It is the stress put on the muscles by lifting, pulling and pushing weights that brings about muscle growth.

Why You Need a Bodybuilding Diet

On the other hand, no growth can occur without the proper raw materials.

That is where nutrition comes into play because in order to stay anabolic (in a muscle-growth state), one needs the appropriate amount of nutrients.

Without the proper bodybuilding diet, it will be very hard to get any muscle growth and it will definitely be impossible to get any significant definition.

For definition, bodybuilders aim for single-digit body fat levels. To get there, you need to carefully manipulate the diet as specified in my article: Should I Drop Carbs From the Bodybuilding Diet for Fat Loss?).

Bodybuilding nutrition provides the fuel and the raw materials needed for energy production (to support your workouts) and growth. Muscles need fuel, as do the heart and lungs to be able to power you through workouts. You can't run an engine on empty, every cell needs the fuel that it gets from food in order to have energy to function when you call upon it. Working out without enough fuel on board can lead to inefficient workouts and you won't be able to lift as heavy or as long as you want to get the best muscle growth.

The right combination of nutrients needs to be available to the body before, during and after training sessions so all of the building blocks are in place. The sugar fuels and amino acids to fuel, repair and build new muscle must be ready to go when needed.

Diet Plus Training Equals Bodybuilding Success

Both components are of equal importance if you want to achieve significant bodybuilding results. Therefore, make sure that you put equal effort both at the gym and in the kitchen.