by Matt Weik
When we think of competitive bodybuilders, fitness competitors, bikini competitors, or any other department out there, everyone has their own criteria for the “ideal” physique. So when it comes down to it … what is the perfect physique? This is not only a loaded question, but also a kind of trick question.
In essence, there are many things that go into making a perfect physique. And the “trick” part comes into the equation when you ask that exact question to different people and wait for their answer.
There is no such thing as a perfect body
The perfect physique is very subjective. So much so that there is no way I could ever be a judge in the NPC or IFBB. I take my hat off to everyone because I know it’s absolutely impossible to sit in front of a bunch of competitors and figure out who is the perfect physique and where everyone should be.
What I would think is the perfect physique could be completely different from what you would consider the perfect physique. And not only that, but against which standard do we have to go? As far as I know, there has never been anyone who has the “perfect physique”. If so, why shouldn’t this picture be everywhere in gyms?
Now you might say, “Of course there are photos in gyms of people with perfect physiques … Just look at the pictures of Arnold, Dorian, Ronnie, Phil and all the other champions on the walls.” That’s true, but they do the perfect physique or was it just the best physique at that point when they stood next to other bodies that may not have been that superb during that time? Do you see where I’m going with this?
You might look at someone like Frank Zane and think in your head that this is the perfect figure. Slim, well trained and yet muscular – but hardly the tallest guy you have ever seen in this sport. Then maybe you have someone who thinks Ronnie Coleman is the perfect physique. It’s hard to argue that fact when he’s won a string of Olympic titles and can fill a room with his Sandow trophies.
Then you have bikini competitors. In my mind, and in what I see on stage at every single show, I’m not even sure what they’re based on. I mean, I’m a guy and they all look great to me.
It’s all in the eye of the beholder
Dorian Yates was asked in an interview who has the most complete and perfect physique of all time. He paused for a split second and mentioned that there is no right or wrong answer and that the answer to this question is very individual and in the eye of the beholder.
Bodybuilders for the general public would generally be described as gross and circus freaks. In the industry, bodybuilders’ physiques are considered beautiful. For most, a body like the late Greg Plitt may come up in conversation. He wasn’t overly muscular, but Greg had enough muscle to turn his head, but that was how lean and conditioned he was all year round. His constancy was second to none and you never saw the guy out of shape. And that’s a physique that has never been on a competition stage – it has never been his motivation to train so hard.
We can look back on pictures of Hercules and Michelangelo’s statue of David (yes, the naked guy). Technically, both were considered the perfect physique and the ultimate specimen. Yet no one ever talks about their physique or tries to include them in a conversation about great physique. Have you ever heard someone talk about their physique when they mention the ideal physique? Probably not, right?
Nowadays it depends on who has the best body TODAY
We’ve seen a lot of different bodies in the industry over the past few decades. Everything from the smaller but extremely conditioned competitors to the freaks and mass monsters (and everything in between). Has the standard changed? No, the sport of bodybuilding has just moved on – good, bad, or indifferent.
If you’ve seen the old school bodybuilders interviews, they really don’t have anything positive to say about today’s bodybuilders. To them, they are watery, unconditioned, and overly geared towards putting on the largest possible size (at all costs). Flip the script and today’s bodybuilders think that the older generation of bodybuilders were small. Who is right and who is wrong? In all honesty, there is no right or wrong answer.
It really comes down to who looks better than everyone else on a lineup on a given day. In 2019 Brandon Curry was crowned Mr. Olympia. Many have scrutinized his victory and said that he would never have won in a stacked lineup – that his body is not good enough. In essence, he is saying that he doesn’t have the perfect physique. But that day (in the eyes of the judges) he was the perfect build.
If Phil Heath or Shawn Rhoden were in the 2019 Mr. Olympia lineup, would they still consider Brandon the perfect physique? May be. Maybe not. He just had to be better than anyone else who showed up that day.
The moral of the story is that there is no “gold standard” when it comes to the perfect physique. Times are changing. Things are developing. Hell, you can even look back years ago when women were way curvier and that was considered “sexy” and then move forward fast today where a lot of women go under the knife to do liposuction to get a tiny waistline, they have their lips done. and they get buttock and breast implants. Today many consider this “sexy” or the perfect physique.
Here is my takeaway conclusion. People will always chase the perfect body. But it doesn’t exist. Trying to look like someone else will only lead to frustration and disappointment. The only thing that competitors and the public can do is work to become the best they can be and drop the cards where they can. I’ll never look like Phil Heath or Greg Plitt – two guys on either side of the spectrum. But I can build the best physique of myself and that’s the best I can do. The same goes for you whether you are a competitor or not.
Don’t hang your head in the clouds and chase the perfect body. There is and never will be. Times change, opinions change, and body types change. The only thing to focus on is to work hard and stay committed to create the best body possible with what you have been given. An artist can shape anything he wants out of clay, but in the end he is limited to working with the amount of clay given to him. And even then, they always create the perfect masterpiece in their head.