Thanks for the application. In ancient Greece there were gyms, and although they didn’t have the equipment we find today, they served exactly the same purpose, and even more so: depending on which cops we’re talking about, it was mandatory for everyone to go.
But before going deeper into it, I would like to point out something: the vast majority of the statues we know represent either gods, mythological heroes or idealized figures.
The Greeks wanted to emulate these bodies as much as possible, it was one of their ideals. They believed that only in a healthy body could there be a healthy mind. That is why children from the age of 6 or 7 were encouraged to go to the gym, where they gave classes in athletics, discus throwing, pugilism, among others. There they developed and practiced their agility, flexibility and strength. They believed that a properly muscled body was divine. In some polis, such as in Sparta, this applied to women as well.
When a politician or some other influential figure was represented on a statue, he was naturally idealized. Everyone wanted to be immortalized by looking their best. By the time Greece was a Latin colony, for example, a generic statue with a perfect body was created and only the head was changed to represent this or that politician. Surely it was the photoshop of the time, because everyone could see the sculpture and think that the character really looked like this. Of course, not everybody looked like that. It’s known that there were already obese people.
However, in the case of athletes, or even soldiers, they had a very special diet that made them perform at their best. It’s said that one of their secret tricks was to eat barley. They also ate vegetables, cheese and meat in abundance. Their training was daily and quite heavy, to consume all the calories they took in. One of the things that was told at the time – probably a myth, but something that illustrates their desire to improve their physical condition – is that they recommended that first-time athletes put a calf on their shoulder and run carrying it to the finish line. Over time, as the animal grew, it would demand the maximum from the body so that it could continue to run until it was too heavy.
They also used weights and created structures to be able to exercise. All they cared about was increasing their muscle mass more and more, and let’s remember that they did this since they were children…
In any case, the Greeks were more informed than we thought about the foods that led to better performance and gave more energy, and the best way to train.
In short, it seems to me that the statues show exaggerated versions of what they considered to be the physical ideal, but which nevertheless gave bodybuilding a primary importance.