Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rule #1 of Classic Physique Building: Don't Ruin a Perfectly Good Physique!

(Photo Above: Classic Physique Building Champ - Reg Park)

The key to building a classic physique is that you must know what a classic physique is in the first place! How many people train with weights and yet could not describe the characteristics of a classic physique? Such knowledge was fairly common in the pre-roid, Golden Age (the 1940s and 50s), but gradually was forgotten as bodybuilding entered into its dark ages (from the 1960s until today).

Without knowledge of what a classic physique is, a weight trainer goes to the gym, does some exercises, builds some muscle, and perhaps ruins what could have been a perfectly fine physique! Just yesterday at the gym, there was one fellow with nicely developed delts and arms. But his shoulder width was naturally narrow. So what was he doing? - Sets of shoulder shrugs with heavy weights on a Smith machine! He apparently didn't realize that if he developed the mass of his traps, his already narrow shoulders would look even more narrow! Clearly, he did not have a clue as to what to do and what not to do to build a classic physique.

Then there is the guy with the very well developed upper body, that I see from time to time, who walks around the gym proudly doing set after set of arm exercises. His arms must be 17-18 inches! But his thighs are thin and calves couldn't be more than 13 inches! He is walking around on "toothpick" legs! I never see him working his thighs or calves. His body is way out of proportion. yet he doesn't seem to have any sense that his physique is flawed! How many of you have seen similar things in your gym? (And I don't mean to fault these people. Where are they supposed to go to get info about classic physique building? They certainly can't get it from the modern, roid-based muscle mags!)

So, the take-home lesson is this: Don't go to the gym and do exercises without a clear idea of what kind of physique you want to develop and how to get it. Learn what a classic physique is (reading Classic Physique Builder Zine and CPB Blog will help). Have a clear understanding of what classic proportion/symmetry is! Could you quickly summarize the characteristics of a classic physique if someone asked you at the gym?


P.S. For a free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder Zine (CPBzine) - a pdf "zine" (do-it-yourself magazine) that is patterned after the muscle mags of the pre-roid Golden Age of Bodybuilding (the 1940s and 50s) - just email your name (first and last), the name of your city (not your actual address), state/province, and country to That's it! Any info you send us is strictly confidential. We don't share info with anyone. So you won't get on any lists or receive any unwanted, automated email (even from us)!


Johnny G said...

Just started training @ Golds Gym Harrisburg, Pa - Has to be the best equiped gym I know of - There are a lot of guys that are in great shape and many who have muscle imbalance as well - The thing I like about the gym is that it has a ton of equipment I'll find it easier going thru a Steve Reeves Program (no waiting for equipment) - I will not say breeze thru but it should cut back the time I spent at other gyms - A couple of dollars more a month, but the savings will come from time spent - I know that quite a few guys there are juicing, that is their business(fools) but it is good to workout with people who have intensity even if they are misguided - I'll be 57 years old this summer and my grandkids never seen me at my best, but I have lost quite a few pounds so far, the strength level is good, free weights doing 225lbs on the Inclines Bench press for over 20 reps - getting better at my pullups too - nice to see the progress I'm making - Hoping to be around 220lbs this mid to late summer @ a true 6.1 feet - Just is cool getting it back again after so many years -

Ibrahim said...

When i used to go to a gym i was seeing a lot of people who had no gains at all. I mean there were strong people but for example the weights that they used stayed always the same. They alway or almost did always the same exercises.
But when i´m looking now at the time i spent at the gym, i see people with no dedication and wrong motivation and no inspiration at all. They wanted big muscles but no symmetry and there was not any ideal.
I remember there was somebody who always trained his arms when i saw him. But what else can you expect when the walls are full of steroid abusers and freaks.

UK Steve said...

I have noticed that quite a lot of the champions from the pre-steroid era stressed the importance of the mind-muscle link. Steve Reeves has a chapter on it in his book, and I read somewhere that Vince Gironda said that champions tended to be people who could visualize what they wanted to look like and believed without doubt that they would achieve it. This is not something I ever read about when I was reading the mainstream roid based literature (and making zero gains following their advice in the gym!)

I think if you are actively visualizing what you want to achieve, and using extreme concentration on the muscles you are exercising during your workouts you are much more likely to build an attractive balanced classic physique - you are a lot more involved mentally in the process. Heavy roid users would still grow even if they didn't turn up to the gym - so it is an almost passive way to develop - so I think they are much more likely to develop imbalanced physiques.

It sounds as if the 'big chain' gyms in the US are a lot better than the UK - its almost impossible to find one with free weights in the UK. The last one I went to had a 'no squating or deadlifting' rule as these were deemed to be too noisy! :-D


Jeff said...

I believe the No Gains rule stems a lot from a couple of things. First is nutrition. Second is not giving your muscles a REASON to grow. Like you guys said, if you are doing the same thing every time over and over the body adjusts. Lastly I would say focus. If you cannot visualize the physique you want clearly how can you expect to achieve anything?

Johnny G said...

UK Steve, we have a lot of pussy gyms here in the us as well - no disrespect to the women readers if there are any, but once we went coed the hardcore gyms went down hill - not saying women themselves are the main reason why gyms have become wussyfied but ownwers are trying to be to mainstream - I said once before that it doesn't bother me if the guy next to me is juicing long as he is intense with his training that matters - I guess it has come full circle Anthony and that being gyms started out in some ones shed, basement or garage and now it seems to be returning to the grassroots all over again (might be a good thing)- I don't want anyone telling me that I'm grunting to loud or lifting to heavy - It seems we can be intense in a cardio class, but once we hit the weight lifting room we have to be prim & proper - I say bullshit - Hit it hard and take no enemies - So my advice for a brother in the UK is keep looking for that dungeon where you can be you or start your own !!! I tell ya guys, I like this kind of exchange...

Anonymous said...

Nutrition is 80+% of bodybuilding is another falsehood probably encouraged by the great crooks - the supplement sellers.

Consider this: a trainee who eats a pristine diet but does not train vs. someone who performs grueling, ideal workouts consistently. Who will look buff ?

Here is a quote directly from the floor of the original Gold's Gym: " Exercise builds - diet defines"

Johnny G said...

Anonymous is mostly right - a piss poor diet will hold you back, but the issue of these supplement companies are bogus - a good clean diet is all ya need - Casey Butt said that there is to much emphasis on to much protein - all we can assimilate at one time is 20grams of protein that is a can of tuna or a small chicken breast or the size of your palm, I wonder where we heard that before - Reeves and Schwarzenegger both had it right idea, eat 3 square meals a day and train hard - I threw Arnold in the mix because he was honest about his steroid use - He said that he did not eat 5 meals a day just 3 meals and that he won Mr.Olympia taking supplements and won it not taking supplements, but he never won it not taking steroids - If there is going to be honest discussions on steroid use then we should not demonize the users, but show them there is a better and healthier way