T Nation

Pro Bodybuilding's Best Waists?


Not a huge bodybuilding fan, I get shocked when I see a picture of the top guy’s waists in magazines, and then I’ll pull up a youtube competition video and from the side they look all distorted and like Haggar from Final Fight. Are there any top guys that have flat midsections?

In my limited knowledge I’ll say Lee Priest has an arguement for having the best waist. He does a lot of “classic” poses that a lot of guys can’t do b/c their gut would look silly. I read in MD a while ago that Priest hasn’t trained his abs in like seven years b/c they’re boring. This would support Chad Waterbury’s theory on a bigger waist from working the same bodypart frequently (Britney Spears syndrome he called it). Most pros do abs five or six times a week. I think Lee definitely has the advantage over others when it comes to midsection proportion, even if it came out of lazyness.

Here’s a live pic here:
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.graphicmuscle.com/photos/ReportPhotos/72.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.graphicmuscle.com/pop_report.cfm%3FReportID%3D72&h=650&w=576&sz=68&hl=en&start=161&tbnid=pijM51uyeFdKKM:&tbnh=137&tbnw=121&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dlee%2Bpriest%26start%3D160%26ndsp%3D20%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official_s%26sa%3DN

And I attached one too if it works.

Plenty of the old-school guys did ab work 5 days/week and had small waistlines. It was my understanding that the bloated guts of today were the result of steroid use.

Dave Henry seems to be another who’s done it right and kept his waistline small. I’m not sure what his ab regimen is like though.


A lot of pros get distended waists because:

  1. Insulin use (IMHO this is the no culpit)
  2. hGH and IGF-1 use (can lead ot organomegaly/internal organ growth when used at high doses for a long period of time
  3. Eating massive amount of food to grow large
  4. Thhe spinal compression from being so heavy (it’s pretty rare to see a pro bodybuilder with a distended gut when he is under 220lbs in contest shape, even if they are using insulin, hGH and IGF-1)

Abs (and especially obliques) can contribute to having a large waist… but only in rare cases. These muscles have a low hypertrophy potential… it will be very hard to make them “too big”. Well, the obliques can get too big in some cases (see Cutler) but the rectus abdominis (6-pack) can hardly contribute to making the waist look distended.

As it was mentionned a lot of pros train/trained abs every day and didn’t have large waists. During the 80s and early 90s it was pretty rare to see really distended stomachs despite a lot of abs work being performed.

Look at guys like Mohammed Makkawy… he had a full 8-pack and a super small waist yet performed a high volume of abdominal work.

In preparation for the 1983 Olympia he would do the following routine 2-3 times a week:

Lying leg raise: 5 x 15 to 25
Hanging leg raise: 5 x 15 to 25
Hanging knee?in: 5 x 15 to 25
Bent knee situps: 5 x 15 to 25
Twisting situps: 5 x 15 to 25
Cross ankle crunches: 5 x 15 to 25

In 1984 Gironda had him do a less extensive routine but that still had him perform 16 sets for abs 2-3 times a week.

8 x 8 crunches (with weight if needed)
8 x 8 leg raises

Serge Nubret (image included) trained abs instead of performing cardio… he would train abs continuously for 45-60 minutes EVERYDAY!!!

By Serge’s own account (Serge speaks french hence the bad grammar):

“I WAS USING MY ABS TRAINING AS A CARDIO CESSION, I PREFER TO DO ABS
DURING ONE HOUR NO STOP THAT STAY ON A THREADMILL FOR ONE HOUR. I NEVER OVER TRAIN BECAUSE I WAS TRAINING A MUSCLE GROUP ONLY TWICE A WEEK. EXCEPT ABS, EVERY DAYS AS IT IS A SPECIAL MUSCLE YOU CAN DO SO.”

He would basically perform super high sets of low-intensity abs work… rest for only a very brief period (15-30 sec) as needed and then continue. 60 minutes of abs work EVERYDAY … dod you see a large waist there?

Frank Zane would also perform abs everyday for 20-30 minutes almost non-stop when preparing for a contest.

Tom Prince didn’t do any abs work and he had a big waist. Same thing with Branch Warren. It’s a very individual thing.

Loads of “old school” bodybuilders had impressive waistlines. Arnold, Zane, Reeves and more could all pull awesome vaccums.

These days bodybuilders seem to carry less fat but often still look bloated in the midsection(certainly very few vaccums).

There are exceptions though…think Dexter Jackson, Dave Henry and Darrem Charles


Brian Buchanan


Bob Paris

In today’s pro circuit, Melvin Anthony, Lee Priest, I’d also include " The Blade", but in his quest to attain more mass in the last few years, he to appears to have that distended belly look at times.

Another factor that can lead to distended guts on stage is the carb-up stategy used by the athletes. In the quest to look fuller, some guys will ingest a DRASTIC amount of food the night prior to the show. Just for fun, eat 6000kcals from 6pm to 2am and see how “small” your waist will be in the morning :slight_smile:

[quote]TheSicilian wrote:
Brian Buchanan[/quote]

     Gotta agree with Brian B, he just had a incredible taper. Ron Love was another Guy that stood out, I don't think his waist was as small as Brian's but he had the widest shoulders that visually gave him a very small waist.
       Good to see Serge get a mention as well, geat waist and overall a class act, wonder how todays pro's will look if they make it to Serge's age?

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Another factor that can lead to distended guts on stage is the carb-up stategy used by the athletes. In the quest to look fuller, some guys will ingest a DRASTIC amount of food the night prior to the show. Just for fun, eat 6000kcals from 6pm to 2am and see how “small” your waist will be in the morning :)[/quote]
I found that problem alright the only time I tried a carb-up (plus I didn’t fill up for a few days afterwards). I was thinking next time that
a) I wouldn’t go keto for so long before-hand &
b) I’d carb up for two days instead of trying to cram it into such a tight time-frame.

Any thoughts on this?