Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Classic Physique vs Hulk-Like Physique: Waist Size

(Photos Above: Steve Reeves - Mr America, Mr World, Mr Universe on the cover of Your Physique magazine Jan 1949 issue; Below: Ronnie Coleman - Mr Olympia)

Another big difference between the classic physique of the Golden Age (the drug and hormone-free 1940s and 50s) and the "Hulk-Like" physique of mainstream bodybuilding is in the waist size. For classic physique builders, the ideal was to have broad shoulders and narrow waist and hips. They placed particular importance on this in achieving their classic symmetry.

For the drug and hormone-using mainstream bodybuilders of today, this ideal is gone. In the quest for sheer, extreme size, the amounts of drugs and hormones taken cause all muscle in the body to get larger - including that of internal organs in the gut. The consequence is "roid gut." As you can tell from the photo of Mr. Olympia (Ronnie Coleman) above, the huge waist is not because of fat. He has more muscular definition (lower body fat) than Steve Reeves. Yet the waist is huge because of the hypertrophic internal body organs (which have smooth muscle which grows in response to drugs and hormones).

In this post, we are focusing on waist size. But there are other differences in abdominal rectus size and shape between classic physique builders and mainstream (drug & hormone using) bodybuilders that we will save for another time.

So looking at Steve Reeves and Ronnie Coleman above, which body would you rather have?



brendon patrick said...

Just amazing!! There is no contest as to which one I would rather look like! I'm working on it.
Seeing the men like Steve Reeves and some of the others, reminds one that working very hard at the weights and and being disiplined in one's diet was once a very healthful and wholesome vocation, or avocation.
Thanks for posting this article. An eye opener!

Anonymous said...

THIS is what I call a great post.
Thank you CPB !!

- CPB - said...

Hi Brendon and Anonymous,

Brendon makes a very good point about classic physique building being a vocation or avocation in the Golden Age!

In the Golden Age, there was still a sense that classic physique building was "Physical Culture" - a way of life of pursuing both health and physical perfection. The classic physique was the outward expression of overall health and vitality.

The Golden Age champs were clearly pursuing health, not just a physique. For example, Steve Reeves used to be quite proud that he had no cavities - not a single one! He mentionned this in interviews and this clearly shows (along with his other views - which we will do some posts on) his interest in overall health.

Jack LaLanne - another Golden Age giant - is another example. He built a classic physique, but it is clear that his interest was in the "Physical Culture" of healthy living - which he did his best to promote.

So to put it in proper perspective, the classic physique - perfection in natural physical form - should be the outward expression of perfection in all around health. What is the point of pursuing a big physique at the expense of health?! That would have made no sense to the Golden Age champs.

So, we would do well, as modern classic physique builders, to think about our pursuit as one of "Physical Culture" - a way of life centered on physical perfection AND natural health.

Thanks for your comments! They enrich our CPB Blog! :)

All the best,


LP said...

I have been reading the CPB Blog for a while now and I can tell you that I have always found the posts very good. I'm very happy with your work guys... keep doing this great work..

- CPB - said...

Thanks LP!

We are glad you are finding the CPB Blog helpful! We appreciate your comments.

All the best,


Johnny G said...

Seeing these two comparison pictures tells me that Steve walks out of night club with a girl on his arm, and Ronnie walks out with a six pack of beer to feed that big belly of his - why not bust their coconuts?! this just shows everone that new isn't always better - old school still rules

- CPB - said...

Hi Johnny,

Yes...there is no question that most people (male and female) much prefer the classic physique of a Reeves rather than the Hulk-like physiques of the modern bodybuilding world.

There are stories that tell of how people would literally follow Steve Reeves as he walked down the street because they were so impressed with his physique!

You have to wonder what the motivation is for those who want to develop an extreme, Hulk-like physique. Who are they impressing? Certainly not most men and women!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Anonymous said...

I admire any male who takes pride in developing his muscles...little boy to geezer...I have a thing for the thick waist...Hercules Farnese...