Yvon Chouinard: Is Business Bodybuilding Going to Shorten Your Life?

Yvon Chouinard Business Bodybuilding

Business bodybuilding is all the rage these days. It involves scrawny startups pumping themselves up with investment steroids to rapidly become beefed up behemoths. But for those interested in long term success, this is a bad idea.

Shortcuts = Short Life

Business bodybuilding is undeniably enticing. It’s possible to make amazing gains in little time and it looks great from the outside. But, ask yourself, why is it that you never see 80-year-old bodybuilders?

The answer is the hacks bodybuilders use to grow unnaturally inevitably come back to bite them in the ass. Typically it’s a catastrophic injury they suffer because their slower-to-develop bones, organs, and soft tissue are unprepared for the heavy loads. But even if they get lucky and avoid injury, at some point their metabolism slows down and all their excess muscle turns to fat. Furthermore, this unnatural short term growth causes increased incidence of disease in the long run.

As the founder of Patagonia, Yves Chouinard, says on the How I Built This Podcast, “There’s two kinds of growth. One where you grow stronger, and one where you grow fat.” Inflated muscle is not strength. The only way to grow strong over the long run is to skip the shortcuts and focus on overall fitness.

Fitness over Muscle

Instead of business bodybuilding, focus on developing your business into a well-rounded athlete.

Stop obsessing about building muscle and give your less aesthetically impressive but equally important soft tissue, organs, and bones time to develop in unison. In business this is the boring stuff you can’t see from the outside – management capability, financial stability, and industry relationships. We’re tempted to jump ahead of these internals because they can take ten times as long to build as muscle, but they are integral for long-term health.

And stretch. Big muscles with a limited range of motion are impractical. Much more valuable are lean muscles that are strong at all ranges of motion. So spend as much time on maintaining mobility as you do on strength.

Stop Business Bodybuilding

What kind of business do you want? One like Patagonia that gets steadily fitter every year and can potentially stay healthy for hundreds of years, or one like American Apparel that beefs up unnaturally, “blows up” in popularity… then blows up physically and fades into oblivion? If the former, stop business bodybuilding.

As Chouinard says, “The faster a business grows, the faster it dies”.


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