by Matt Weik
With all the rumors going around about bodybuilders these days, they wouldn't place top 5 in this or that era, who cares? As Michael Jordan says, nobody can protect him from today. I think we have to step back and look at each bodybuilding era as it is. Let me explain.
Every bodybuilding era is important
When you look at the bodybuilding era when men like Arnold competed against each other, the body shapes were very different. We call it the golden age for a reason. The bodies were aesthetically pleasing, not overly muscular, but were of a good size and symmetry. Is that missing today? Sure, but the bodybuilding industry has grown over the years to where it currently stands.
Over the years, the size of the game seems to be increasing. Bodybuilders want to achieve this real freak factor. Many of them are looking for the cartoon physique, where you simply cannot imagine how it can really be. They walk around in the low season with over 30 kg and jump on the stage with over 30 kg. We are talking about a different breed of animal. But honestly, go back and look at Arnold's era and face it against today's rivals. It's like teenagers compared to today's IFBB professionals.
If you put Roelly Winklaar next to Arnold in his prime, Roelly would make Arnold look like a kid. There would be no comparison at all. And that says something because many believe Arnold is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) bodybuilders of all time. Personally, I find it difficult not to give Ronnie Coleman the highest ever award (GOAT), but that's exactly what I see with my own eyes.
The same could be said about Ronnie Coleman and Rich Gaspari. Both were great bodybuilders, but Rich was outshone by a number of people like Ronnie, Jay, or Phil. We have to look at what each bodybuilding era brought to the industry at the time.
Is the current physique the future of bodybuilding?
I think the answer to this question is a matter of opinion (a topic that I will address in the next section). What I mean by this is that incumbent Mr. Olympia (Brandon Curry) was not affected by the comments Dorian Yates made about being out of shape at Mr. Olympia 2019 and still winning the Sandow. This is because Dorian looks at things through a different lens. Brandon didn't have to be in top shape to win his first Olympics. He just had to be good enough to beat everyone else on stage. It's that simple. Do you think Brandon was happy with the package he brought on stage? Probably not. He probably looked in the mirror and the photos after the show and started to disassemble his physique. I think that's common with many competitors. So you see where they need to improve for the next show.
Since bodybuilding is a very subjective sport, we all tend to focus on different things and aspects of our competitors. Today's bodybuilding age is much different than 10 years ago and 10 years ago is much different than 30 years ago.
That is not to say that we cannot appreciate every bodybuilding era. I see things that I appreciate from every bodybuilding era. In fact, I respect competitors from every era. Obviously, today's competitors have a much wider range of PEDs to go through throughout the year. While there are some similarities between eras, there are also many differences.
Opinions are like A $$ holes
I love the saying that opinions are like assholes because it's so true – everyone has one. What I don't like about the opinions here in the bodybuilding industry lately is that everyone is talking about each other. Look, we haven't had rivalries in bodybuilding for years. Ronnie and Jay were really the last. I don't even consider the rivalry between Phil and Jay one because it wasn't long enough to call it that. You could argue with Phil and Kai, but then Kai went AWOL and left the sport. Besides, Kai Phil never hit – so there is.
But what these opinions do for sport cloud the water. Honestly, who cares what Dorian thinks about today's competitors? If he wants to believe that they can't keep up that day, that's great. Maybe HE couldn't keep up with the new guys on stage today? This could be discussed from all sides.
As the back and forth here looks like lately, there are a few salty old bodybuilders who don't seem to want the sport to succeed, and are belittling current competitors rather than claiming that it's not even worth it to go to the shows go because nobody is always in shape. Maybe you're not wrong? However, the fact is that THIS has become what sport is and where we are.
Was basketball better than Michael Jordan played? Was it more exciting to see? I think so. But I'm not going to question the current state of the game and try to play against each other. Things are just … different. And that's fine. And if people don't like basketball today, they'll stop watching. Just like if people don't like bodybuilding these days, they'll stop attending shows.
We all have opinions about who looked better than who on stage. An opinion on how someone got into the Arnold and how they showed up for the Olympics. Simply put, there are many opinions that are shared these days. And while everyone has the right to share their right, it's my OPINION that it's not an ounce good for bodybuilding.