Bring Back Classic Muscle
When the NPC introduced the Men’s Physique division in 2012, many of us jumped on board and thought, “What an awesome idea!” We used it as a chance to get onstage and showcase everything that we’ve worked for but without having to make some of the tremendous sacrifices that come along with traditional bodybuilding.
In effect, the introduction of Men’s Physique and Women’s Bikini invigorated our industry and put the entire spirit of bodybuilding and fitness back into a position of positivity and attainability. It allowed many of us to believe that it was again possible to achieve a body that was worthy to step onto a stage and show to an audience.
But what happened as time rolled on and the new division began to evolve? It wasn’t long before we noticed that the competitors in the Men’s Physique division were getting larger and more shredded every single year. I can only imagine what a nightmare it must have been for the judges to have to keep a standard when the competitors were driving the division in different directions.
So what do we think about the new Men’s Classic Physique division?
Bravo, NPC, bravo. It seems as though the NPC, and the fitness industry in general, has taken what the spectators have been telling them and put a solid plan into effect. After all, are people really interested in watching (or becoming, for that matter) a heavyweight bodybuilder? I think there’s a certain component that attracts an audience since there is a sideshow aspect to some bodybuilders (definitely not all, many of them have beautiful physiques). By and large, though, the sport was beginning to lose its aesthetic appeal.
So will the advent of the Classic Physique division change the game and bring back the beauty and the flowing lines? Will contests reward the body with the best shape and symmetry much like the original era of bodybuilding? I hope so.
This new Classic division should be the bridge between Physique and bodybuilding that will have more mainstream traction as it relates to promotions and marketing. The desired look is not only achievable for both existing divisions, but it may even become oversaturated with athletes due to the Physique guys, who’ve been holding back— and would like to actually pose, and display their bodies with movement and action. Conversely, there are many bodybuilders who are not happy with the pressure of pushing the envelope on the size factor. They have been training exclusively to get big in order to win, to the exclusion of focusing on refinement and detail. Now they can drop down into a place of comfort and level the playing field, knowing this division is not size-based but classically judged.
3x Mr. Olympia Frank Zane calls Sadik’s the best physique today!
There are plenty of men out there who love to train hard and love to build their physiques, but who have neither the genetics nor the interest in pushing their mass to extremes. For every guy out there who thinks Phil Heath and Kai Greene are the ideal physique, there are probably 10 who think that freak look is totally unappealing. To them, bodybuilding was at its pinnacle when men like Steve Reeves, Arnold and Frank Zane ruled the sport. Those physiques were all about structure, aesthetics, a rugged yet decidedly athletic look, and class. They could have been carved out of marble in Ancient Greece. So if “Classic” Men’s Physique lives up to the hype, then it will be the real bodybuilding division to fans of old school muscle.
Legendary Pro’s weigh-in
IFBB Pro Hall of Famer
I confess I was a little confused when I first heard about this. What exactly was Classic Physique? From what I understood, Men’s Physique was created in 2012 for those who didn’t want to go for the bodybuilder look. If that were the case, why would there be any need to create another division for guys who weren’t interested in being bodybuilders? I mean, what’s the difference? But once I looked into it a little, it started to make sense.
6x Mr. Olympia
Obviously, there must be a need for this new division, or it wouldn’t have been created. The fact is that pro bodybuilding has gone to an extreme that many find unacceptable. The level of dissatisfaction with it isn’t quite as severe as what happened with women’s bodybuilding over the last decade or so, but it’s definitely lost a large part of its former appeal. It’s become mainly about size, and good shape and aesthetic appeal has fallen away. There are a lot of guys getting into the sport today who simply don’t admire the current look and don’t aspire to it, either. Back in the 1980s and even throughout the
‘90s, that wasn’t the case. Those entering the sport did aspire to look like the champions of those eras, and found them inspiring.
IFBB Pro Hall of Famer
It’s OK by me! Why wouldn’t the two federations try to offer up a solution for supply and demand, where athletes simply want a platform to display their varying degrees of physical development? I’m definitely not one to criticize the new divisions being added, when athletes’ only options would be to limit their options. It comes down to having a shot at winning and losing for each athlete, which keeps them in the gym and evolving!