by Matt Weik
Take a look at the sport of bodybuilding today and think for a moment how much has changed over the past ten or even twenty years. If how the sport evolved continues, where does that take the sport down the road? Are we predicting the next generation of bodybuilders to hit the stage in the 300-pound range with veiny abs, twenty-six plus inch arms, and upper 300’s (pushing 400 pounds) in the off-season? It might be heading in that direction.
The evolution of muscle
Back in the day symmetry and aesthetics were what we watched on stage. The days of the tiny waist and amazing V-taper. Nowadays, everything is bigger—arms, chest, legs, backs, and unfortunately even midsections. With the advent of smarter training, better nutrition, and a little chemistry, what we see on stage today could have been something out of a circus act in the 90’s. Bodybuilders of today are larger than life. If you want to feel like you’ve never worked out in your life, go stand next to one of them.
It all started with Arnold. When Arnold entered the sport he changed everything. His physique, his confidence, his cockiness, his mass, it all changed the game. Then came guys like Yates, Wheeler, Ray, Levrone—followed up by some guy named Ronnie Coleman who further took the sport to the next level and changed it forever. While the bodybuilders of the 90’s were built with slabs of muscle, when Big Ronnie Coleman walked on stage after turning pro, the judging seemed to really shift in the direction of freaky mass monsters.
Look at the competitors of today now—Phil Heath, Kai Greene, and Mamdouh Elssbiay. Mamdouh Elssbiay? Who the hell is that you ask? You might know him by the name, Big Ramy. All of whom are built like a brick shithouse. Who will take things to the next level once this era passes? Look no further than a competitor who’s only 24—Cody Montgomery. This beast has a bright future ahead of him if he continues to add muscle to his frame. Another young up and comer is 25-year-old Dallas McCarver along with 28-year-old Justin Compton. Alongside other up and comers, the future of the sport looks promising. Plenty of fresh blood hitting the weight in hopes of one day taking home the Sandow that all competitors dream of. If these youngsters keep training as if they were looking to place first at every show, there’s no reason they couldn’t be standing on stage and be holding their very own Sandow.
Flip flop judging could shift the sport
It goes without saying that there has been some controversy over the years on what the IFBB judges are looking for on stage. One show they are rewarding the guy who came in totally shredded with striated glutes and feathered quads. Then the very next show they would reward the guy who came in the biggest even though they were sporting a bubble gut as if they were giving birth to a baby any day. Slowly you could see a complete changeover in the direction of the sport. The judges were awarding more and more of the mass freaks that took the stage. A great example of this was Ronnie Coleman. Now let’s not get it twisted, Ronnie Coleman could very well be the best bodybuilder of all time as it stands right now—winning eight straight Mr. Olympia titles in a row which is no easy feat and nothing to do with luck.
So what if I were to tell you that there was someone who is on the verge of breaking the IFBB record for the most wins in a career (26) currently held by The King, Ronnie Coleman? A man who in my opinion doesn’t really get mentioned or much respect going into the Olympia. We are used to hearing about Kai Greene, Phil Heath, Big Ramy, and other mass freaks. But what about Dexter Jackson? Dexter is one win away from being the all-time leader with the most wins in IFBB history—27. Is it possible that Dexter can take this prestigious award from Ronnie and still not be in the same sentence as Big Ron? As sad as it may seem, it appears so.
In my opinion, Dexter has for the most part, always brought his best to the stage, no matter the show. His tiny waist, amazing abs, taper, and muscularity are one I think many admired and continue to today—myself included. But Dexter never had the size to compete with the bigger guys on stage. Had the judges been looking for symmetry and aesthetics, Dexter’s name would have always been in the front of everyone’s minds. But the direction of the sport got away from clean lines and conditioning and at the age of 46, he’s running out of time to make drastic changes to his physique.
Now I’m not saying that the sport shouldn’t have went the way that it has. If you look at how the sport is growing, it’s safe to say that people like sitting in seats at a venue and looking at some of the largest bodybuilders in the world do battle against one another. But where will the quest to be the biggest bodybuilder in the world end? Look at where Big Ramy is right now. Sitting at over 300 pounds and looking to take the stage at the Olympia as the biggest competitor standing out there. With the addition of Chris Aceto to his prep, we could possibly see one of the freakiest competitors to ever step on an IFBB stage—EVER. To what level will the competitors take things in order to reach that pinnacle and degree of muscularity and size? And where do they go from that point once it’s achieved? More importantly, what will trying to reach that level do to their overall health? Are they willing to do harm to their body in order to get a glimpse at winning the Sandow Trophy?
If history continues to repeat itself, we are on the verge of being in the presence of 300+ pound men at single digit body fat levels. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, that’s going to be one damn near scary thing to see. Hide your women and children, because what the future may hold for the sport of bodybuilding might be something none of us were ever expecting to experience.