Thursday, February 26, 2009

Classic Physique Building and the Classic Ideal!

(Photo Above: Jack Delinger, Mr America 1949, on the cover of of the Aug 1955 issue of Muscle Power magazine)

In previous posts, we have talked about the "classic ideal" which is central to classic physique building. But just what is the "classic ideal"?

The "classic physique ideal" refers to the specific characteristics of a classic physique. But the term "classic ideal" is broader than that. It refers to the ethic and values underlying our activity of classic physique building. It is the "classic ideal" which sets "classic physique building" apart from "modern, mainstream bodybuilding."

Perhaps we can best state it this way. The "classic ideal" values:

(1) the physiques of ancient classical and hellenistic Greece
(2) physique building as part of a healthy lifestyle ("physical culture")
(3) the idea of beauty (aesthetics) in the male physique
(4) the goal of pursuing natural, physical perfection (as a balance of muscular size, shape, symmetry, and muscularity)
(5) the development of the mind and character as well as body.

If you examine these components of the "classic ideal," the difference between classic physique building and modern, mainstream bodybuilding quickly becomes clear.

The modern, mainstream bodybuilding world has lost its connection with and affinity for the physiques of ancient Greece. The "champs" of the modern, mainstream bodybuilding world can no longer be looked upon as exemplars of health or a healthy lifestyle. The modern, mainstream bodybuilding world pursues "extreme size and definition" instead of aesthetics in the male (and now even in the female) physique. Their idea of "physical perfection" is no longer natural, but instead it is chemically-based. Finally, there is little to no attention paid to the development of the mind and character and their "champs" do not have the same sense of having to be "good role models."

This is why "classic physique building" and "modern, mainstream bodybuilding" are two different things. So if someone ever asks you "What is the difference between classic physique building and modern bodybuilding?", you can simply say "the classic ideal"!


P.S. Note the evidence of the classic ideal in the above cover of Muscle Power magazine from the Golden Age of Classic Physique Building. You won't see that in today's muscle mags!


Ibrahim said...

Great post!!!

You cannot mention that to often.
Most people don´t train with no ideal at all. There were many people and friends of mine in the gym who trained like : Starting at the beginning of a year and have six packs till summer and the people who do everything take drugs etc. to train like hours and to have a self punishing hardcore workout with to many sets & reps.

I remembered Reg Park who said:
“I think the guys who sell drugs to young bodybuilders especially females, should be jailed for life and the key thrown away. Youngsters who are taking drugs are advised to stop at once. The full effects are not yet known but those that are, and the deaths that have resulted, should say enough. It is not the quality of mind and body at age twenty-five you should consider, but how well you ill function when at seventy five”.

- CPB - said...

Hi Ibrahim,

Great comment and quote from Reg Park!

In our next post, we will offer something from George Eiferman (Mr. America 1948) that illustrates our point about character development being part of the classic ideal.

We hope to get across the idea that classic physique building is more than just "getting a six pack by Summer," but that it really embraces a whole "way of life" that is positive, noble, and uplifting.

All the best,


Anonymous said...

Hi all,
in these days, I noted a quite interesting fact: referring to "classic physique", the most of mainstream bodybuilders (at agonistic levels) refers to.... Frank Zane.
It is a bit curious, uh?
Many of them are removing the Golden Age, substituting it with the last "most appealing physiques"
in the '70s.

( Question: naming Frank Zane as "Classical Physique BBer" could be acceptable? )
Anonymous from Italy

- CPB - said...

Hi Anonymous from Italy! is curious. For mainstream BBers, Frank Zane is about as far back in history that they can remember and his name seems to get associated with the term "classic physique." They seem to have all forgotten the Golden Age and even Steve Reeves gets little respect among the younger mainstream BBers these days.

We will do a post on the 1960's, a transitional time after the Golden Age. During the 1960s, steroids became widespread, but the amounts they were using were small compared to today's mainstreamers. Also, during that time, the value of "extreme size and extreme definition" had not yet replaced the basics of the classic physique ideal.

So the physiques of the 1960s 1st generation of steroid users (like Larry Scott, Dave Draper, Don Howorth, Freddy Ortiz, Frank Zane) are more "classic" than the mainstream BBers of today. However, we would not call them "classic physique builders" (because even their physiques - in terms of the mass and definition they had - cannot be obtained naturally we feel), but one might call them "classic mainstream bodybuilders" or just "classic BBers." As much as we may find their physiques more attractive than the mega-mass hulks of today, we still cannot consider them "classic physique builders."

It is funny that the mainstreamers have even forgotten about their first generation of "classic BBers".

All the best,