Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Classic Physique Definition

Above left photo: Rich Gaspari - mainstream bodybuilder. Above right: Steve Reeves - classic physique builder

There is a real difference between in definition between the classic physique builder and a mainstream, chemically-enhanced, bodybuilder.

In the Golden Age, muscular definition was valued, but it was also expected that the skin should have a healthy glow and look about it. As Vince Gironda once found out in a competition he lost, the judges were not impressed with an "overly-defined" physique. According to their standards, it was in-fact possible to have "too much definition." Here is what Joe Weider said in an article on "Bulk and Cuts for the Legs" regarding definition in 1961 "The 'cuts' must be carved where they will enhance the esthetic appearance of the leg without making the bodybuilder look like a skinless cadaver used for anatomical instruction in a Medical College."

With the advent of steroids and other pharmaceuticals (e.g., diuretics), it was possible to achieve paper-thin skin with a very low percentage of body fat. This led to the "shredded" or "ripped" look where every muscle striation and every cutaneous vein could be seen. So what happenned? Mainstream, drug-enhanced, bodybuilders began to go to the extreme in definition (as they did with size) so that the "healthy glow of the skin" (which is due to a healthy degree of body fat) was lost and "the more ripped they were the better." So they all began to look like dissecting room cadavers. (See above left photo of Rich Gaspari - mainstream bodybuilder).

For classic physique builders, muscular definition is valued, but not the overly "ripped" or "shredded" look. Muscles should be well-defined, with muscle separation, and some natural vascularity. But the skin should have a healthy glow - which cannot be achieved with excessively low levels of body fat. The classic physique ideal embodies the look of "radiating health and vitality." This is not the dead look of a dissecting room cadaver. (See above right photo of Steve Reeves - classic physique builder).

Classic physique builders are not impressed with seeing striations in someone's gluts. They are not impressed with seeing every cutaneous vein popping out. They have no need of NO boosters to increase vascular size to the extreme. The classic physique builder look is a natural, vital, muscular, powerful, symmetrical, and atractive one. They may carry a higher degree of body fat (than modern mainstream, chemically-dependent, bodybuilders) - but that is what is necessary and desirable to truly have a classic physique that radiates with "health and vitality!"

Muscular definition - yes! Overly "ripped" and "shredded" - no need! - CPB


Andre said...

Another good post!
(Really there are only good posts here!)

A quite interesting fact is about the so-called "Natural BodyBuilding".
It should be "hormones and drugs-free", nonetheless we can see shredded and ripped physiques.
There are two possibilities: 1- it is not a really Natural BB, or 2- one of the aims of NBB is to get a shredded phisique, and not simmetry and proportions.
Both cases are sad ones, in my opinion.
NBB could have been a sort of U-turn in the mainstreaming body building, instead it was a sort of missed shot. :-(

have nice days,

- CPB - said...

Hi Andre,

Thanks! We are glad you like the posts here and appreciate your insightful comments.

With respect to Natural BB, we agree. Certainly, one cannot discount the possibility that some competitors may be "cheating" and thus are not really natural.

But even assuming that the vast majority of NBB'ers are natural (which we believe), remember that "natural' is defined differently by the different NBB organizations. So it might be that one qualifies as "natural" if they were off the drugs and hormones for the last 5 years (meaning that they could already have acquired a steroid-enhanced physique and look before going "natural"). There are very few "natural for life" NBB organizations and contests. This makes NBB a sort of "half-way" house for former "juicers" (which is still a good thing).

However, in our view, there is no doubt that the NBB world has been and continues to be very influenced by the mainstream BB'ing world in terms of their physique ideals. They strive for the same kind of overly-defined physique as well as try to emulate the same kind of proportions.

Just look at the difference in leg shape between many NBB'ers and the classic physique champs. Many NBB'ers have the same over-developed adductors (inside thigh muscles) which give the legs a "carrot" or "turnip-shaped" look. This is very different from the "straight-legged" appearance of the classic physique champs.

Also, just take a look at the NBB mags and you will see ads from the same modern supplement companies using the same steroid-enhanced physiques which promote the mainstream BB physique look. Surprisingly, in the NBB mags, you will NOT find any reference, articles, etc, to the classic physique champs of the Golden Age. It's as though the NBB world itself acknowledges no connection with the Golden Age.

So we believe your last comment sums it up perfectly, "NBB could have een a sort of U-turn in mainstream body building, instead it was a sort of missed shot" (with respect to restoring the classic physique building ideal).

But that's OK. That just means there is an opportunity for others (like all of us) to take up the mantle of classic physique building!

All the best,


Johnny G said...

I feel this site will educate the public on what it means to be balanced - to be defined with symetry & good health - Classic Physiques are all about balance and that never goes out of style

Anonymous said...

I prefer the male physique with a bit more "meat" on it...not super shredded...Those 40's-60's pre-juice bodies were the best...