Is There a Division-Wide Lapse of Judgment in The Pro Ranks?

bodybuilding-competition

by Mike Arnold

A couple days ago, as I was watching the posing routines of the Top 6 at the Baltimore Pro, I saw something that bothered me a lot more than I thought it would. It certainly wasn’t anything new…not to me or anyone else. In fact, it has been an ongoing issue now for at least 10+ years, with journalists, commentators, and even Arnold repeatedly expressing their displeasure at what seems to have become a division-wide lapse of judgment. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am referring to posing, or more specifically the lack of effort applied towards this aspect of preparation.

Of course, not every pro fails to demonstrate competence on the posing dais, but more often than not I find myself becoming bored with what is supposed to be the most exciting and inspiring part of the competition. If you need to ask why, the following description of a particular posing routine from last weekend’s Baltimore pro should immediately reveal the source of my dissatisfaction. If not, it is just further proof that the art of bodybuilding and its perceived importance has deteriorated to the point of despair. Here is a pose-for-pose review of the routine in question.

After walking out onstage and starting with a hands-over-head shot (Sergio style), said professional bodybuilder proceeds to do the following…

Front double biceps
Front lat
Front double biceps
Front lat
Side chest
Front double biceps
Front lat
Front double biceps
Front double biceps with one arm extended
front double biceps with the other arm extended

WTF already?

After that he turns around and does a back double biceps and a rear lat spread. That’s it for the rear shots. He then turns back around to the front and does…

Most muscular
Most muscular
Most muscular
Most muscular
Most muscular
Most muscular
Front double biceps

…and then walks off the stage.

Aside from the two back shots, what aspect of this routine sticks out like a sore thumb? Assuming this can even be called a routine (I personally find it difficult to label something as a “routine” when it includes only four (front) poses), the sheer lack of variety brings back memories of when I was just 12 year old posing in front of the hallway mirror—completely unaware that poses other than the front double biceps and most muscular actually existed. As a little kid I had a good excuse, but what excuse can be given here?

I’ll tell you what makes no sense to me. Posing is the ONLY vehicle through which the physique can be displayed, making it an absolutely vital aspect of preparation, yet how many of these guys act like it is some unimportant bullshit that they don’t want to be bothered with? Don’t they realize that the judges see only what they show them…and that they are judged solely on that? It’s not about having a pretty routine or utilizing a specific posing style, it’s about displaying the physique to its best advantage. Posing is how they earn their placings! It is absolutely freakin’ retarded to put all that time and effort into one’s diet and training, only to get up onstage and conduct oneself like an amateur. This clearly communicates to both the judges and audience that the bodybuilder is lazy and has no interest in representing the sport like a professional. Even if the bodybuilder doesn’t care about putting on a show, failing to invest in this aspect of preparation will only reduce the possibility of achieving competitive success. For that reason alone every bodybuilder should strive to become a master-poser, but as it is, many seem content to do the bare ass minimum, regardless of how it might affect the end result. Make sense to you? It sure as hell doesn’t to me. I mean, these guys earn a living from the sport (or are trying to), so why compromise in an area that is so easily within their control?

I very much miss the old day when guys like Labrada, Shawn, Levrone, Flex and others would get up onstage and show everyone was posing was all about. A big part of the reason these guys were so good is not just because of their physical development, but because every single one of them knew how to display their physique to the best of its ability. They knew which poses worked for them and which ones didn’t. They knew how to make subtle adjustments to each shot so that it was ideally suited to their own individual shape and structure. They didn’t rely on the mandatory poses alone, but took every opportunity to explore the vast realm of poses available to them, and carefully selected those who complimented their unique genetic make-up. In short, they knew what it took to present the best possible package they were capable of and went to great lengths to make sure this happened.

We’ve seen many example of pros whose reputation was permanently tarnished due to their unprofessionalism on the bodybuilding stage. Paul Dillet is a great example. Anyone who was around back in the mid-90’s knows that Paul had some of the most spectacular genetics of all-time. His genetics were so good that even Ronnie Coleman once said that Paul had the best genetics he had ever seen. In addition to Paul’s laziness in the gym (a further testament to his genetic superiority), he appeared to put just about no effort into his posing—not in the mandatories or the posing round. At times it was straight-up painful to watch, with his body movements more closely resembling someone having a seizure than hitting a pose. Despite possessing a comparatively under-developed back (the result of less than efficacious training), Paul was a true freak of nature, possessing height, shape, structure, and size in spades.

From a preparation standpoint this was really the only thing that held him back. The fact that he placed as high as he did with such atrocious posing skills shows how good he actually was, but he could never display his physique to its best advantage—not even close—and as a result he lost out on the opportunity to earn a place among the all-time greats. None of what I’ve said here is an attack on Paul’s character or the bodybuilder whose routine I described above. I don’t know either of these men as individuals, and truth be told I have nothing but respect for their accomplishments as bodybuilders. I mention them purely to show what is wrong with modern-day bodybuilding from a presentation standpoint.

Although Paul may be somewhat of an extreme example, the overall level of talent seen in the pro ranks today is by FAR the worst it has ever been, with the vast majority of pros demonstrating “amateurish” posing skills at best. This shouldn’t be happening on a pro stage…ever, yet we see it all the time and it is damaging the sport. This brings me to my next point. People are constantly talking about the loss of the classic physique in modern bodybuilding, but one of the major reasons for its absence is the inability/refusal of today’s bodybuilders to properly duplicate classic poses. It’s not that they don’t have the potential to hit these shots, or that they are too big to do them effectively. No. They simply lack the skill and flexibility (and in many cases the desire) to pull them off. Unlike the mandatories, which are pretty straightforward in their performance, many of the classic poses (particularly the twisting shots) require a degree of bodily control that most current pros just don’t have, as well as the ability to do a vacuum (which can be learned with specialized training).

The bottom line is that there are a lot of guys competing today who could do much more than they are, but by placing posing at the bottom of their priority list they are missing out on the opportunity to show the world just how good they could really be. Even if they spent just 2-3 hours a week during prep perfecting their routine and overall presentation (not for the sake of the routine itself, but for the sake of displaying their physique to the best of its ability), they would not only improve their chances of earning a higher placing, but they would be taken more seriously as competitors. After all, it is hard to take someone seriously when they don’t take themselves seriously. Sorry if that ruffles anyone’s feathers, but that’s how I see it. This is a sport which, at its very foundation, is based on the “pose”. Without posing there is no bodybuilding competition, so if you don’t want to pose at a high level, why compete in a “professional” sport which revolves around posing? That would be like someone who doesn’t like to run deciding to compete as an Olympic distance runner…or someone who doesn’t like to model taking up professional modeling. Like I said earlier, it makes no sense to dedicate 10-20 years of one’s life to ultra-dedicated training and nutrition, only to shit all over those efforts by failing to display the end result in the most effective way possible.




 

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