T Nation

Flex Magazine... No More


So, Flex magazine, the “hardcore voice” of the sport of bodybuilding is done publishing paper magazines. I remember Musclemag ending, I know Ironman (if it’s still around) has shrank and shrank,…

I know everyone says that paper magazines are dead, which makes sense,… but is it any indication of the state of the sport of bodybuilding that Muscle and Fitness is still being put out?



Having never really read any of the paper mags, short of maybe grabbing one while I was waiting at a book store or something, I never knew there was any difference.

Was Flex much different than M&F? Or Iron Man, or Reps, or etc… They all just seemed the same to me. Big dude on cover, 8 WEEK ARM BLAST ON PAGE 43! Some hot fitness chick for a few pages, and then some Pro goes over their super generic split routine.


In my mind, while there were similarities, there were 3 broad categories:

Tier 1: Mens health & the lie, for guys who take jogging and bosu ball curls as seriously as squats and deadlifts. Front cover callouts that wouldnt look out of place on a woman’s mag i.e. 6 weeks to a slimmer waist for summer.

Tier 2: Muscle & Fitness, a halfway house between MH and tier 3, for the gym bro’s who like to lift but still wanna claim natty, aspires to do physique and contains generic split of some physique competitor (spoiler: same split as the BB Pro)

Tier 3: Flex, just as you said. Huge dude’s post olympia pics on the front, big arm blast routine callout, half the pages are full of supplement ads (more so than tier 1 or 2), My Olympias secret uncovered split (still a 5 day split, but instead of 5 x 10, he does 11 reps on the first and last set)


Yeah, Flex was definitely geared much more towards people who followed the sport, and truly lived a lifestyle closer to that of a serious competitor than the guy who needs to read about the latest gadgets to make his workout easier (something I recall M&F doing that puffed a good chunk of the monthly mag into more of a Maxim attempt).

Admittedly, I do realize that the interest in the competitive side of the sport has waned in recent years, but I guess it hits me in that I would always make sure I picked up the issues of Flex where they had the Olympia and Arnold coverage, as they used to have the best access to the show as well as competitors.



When I heard about the ‘merger’ of Flex and Muscle and Fitness, I had a very ‘meh’ kind of moment. I’ve never read a single issue of Flex - I always bought issues of Muscular Development for better or worse.


Damn haven’t read a muscle mag In years. But as a kid different story. Kinda sad too hear


I used to pick up the odd Men’s Health mag. I even did a set of db overhead press lunges once haha

Oh no! This isnt the flame free thread!?!?!


There was a great 4 week beach ready routine in men’s health once that I seen.

You spend 2 weeks building muscle, then 2 weeks cutting fat. Im assuming it’s followed by spending the next week crying that your still skinny fat, won’t be taking your shirt off at the beach and have wasted 4 weeks.


I think Flex going is a symptom of contemporary bodybuilding’s loss of popularity with the general public. Even MD which was pretty hardcore, has got on the classic physique bandwagon.
I rarely buy magazines these days, but I have for over 30 years. When I do buy its MD, because it was the only magazine that was honest enough to address performance enhancing drugs.


Semi-related, but MILO simultaneously celebrated their 25th anniversary and ceased publication with their most recent issue. Print media is unfortunately falling away. M&F has managed because it seems every month it’s yet another not-bodybuilder on the cover, but even then I imagine it’ll be done at some point too.


That’s what bodybuilding and fitness means these days. Obviously fitness doesn’t need to mean competing and being so obsessed, but thats why I didn’t give two cents about generation iron 2. I love bodybuilding, why do I care about guys who aren’t bodybuilders but use some of the bodybuilding toolbox so that the can be internet famous? I guess this is how true PLer felt about Crossfiters? -lol

It’s all mainstream audience these days I guess. Can’t fault anyone for not wanting to be broke.



Probably more those people who just do one of the powerlifts, don’t compete in even single lift events and have 50k followers with 10 posts per day


I have always found it fucked up how these internet guys are considered authorities on bodybuilding and the like when they haven’t done shit on the competitive side.


in 2000, i bought the mr olympia coverage issue ( it was super expensive in Turkey ) and read it a million times.

i was a naive young man at that time who thought everything the magazine said was true and downloading a 4 mb song from internet was still a big issue ( zero access to information )


Their website is still up. Looks like it’s more just a sign of the continued decline of print media.

I haven’t bought a magazine, of any kind really, for YEARS. Life is all online now for better or worse


Yeah,… even though I didn’t grab a copy every month, I always picked up the Olympia coverage issues… suffice to say, no one really cares that Phil won again these days.



The magazine section on the nearby bookstores getting smaller.


With so many bookstores themselves closing shop the last few years, I guess it’s a telling sign.