I would say it is NOT getting onstage in a competition and posing in front of a group of judges. While this might be a surprise, let me explain.
The definition of bodybuilding as I see it is the process of building muscle and lowering bodyfat composition, hence “building your body”. While there are many who choose to do this at a competitive level, this is not a requirement to say that you are bodybuilding. Therefore, those who are trying to build muscle and/or lose bodyfat are in essence; bodybuilding. To what level they desire to take this goal is completely individual.
I bring this up as I think a lot of people automatically assume when they hear bodybuilding or “bodybuild”, that it refers to competitive bodybuilding, which I would say that is not the case. When you break the goal down to having a certain level of body composition, it would actually demonstrate that a large amount of the population have bodybuilding goals and in fact could claim to be bodybuilders. Certainly, I come across individuals who could compete but that’s not their desire, which is cool. Instead of saying “you look like a bodybuilder” I would say, “you could compete as a bodybuilder.”
That being the case, the takeaway here is the training techniques and nutritional practices for those who want to achieve an improved body composition can likely look identical to those who are competitive bodybuilders, it just goes down to what level they want to achieve and their goal of the process.