T Nation

The Future of Physique Culture


Someone at another message board I read made this astute observation:

"[While at a bodybuilding show, I noticed that] the ratio between masters and 18-29 competitors was five to one or more. Some time ago, every young guy wanted to be huge, and worked religiously on developing both muscle groups ? biceps AND chest. Now every kid wants to be a cage fighter, wants to look like GSP."

Does that seem true to you? It seems that way to me. It could explain why even of this site the owners talk about "physique athletes" rather than "bodybuilders."

Am I just behind the times, considering that summary to be insightful when most here would have found it banal?


I've only been involved in this weight lifting game for a few years (I'm 24, started when I was 20) but I find it exceedingly hard to find people who want to train to gain any kind of size.

Nearly everybody thinks bodybuilders are "gross" (I guess they dont understand that you dont need to weigh 275 pounds shredded to lift weights) and wants to be "functional" or look like a yoga instructor.

I cant speak to how it was before, but I'm assuming it was different considering you had guys like Arnold and Stallone at the forefront of the movies instead of Toby Mcguire.


i went through the "i wanna look like GSP phase"..but thats just what it was a phase.


Actually, over the last 5 years or so there has been a rapid growth of younger guys interested in gaining more muscle mass. I see it at my gym lately. Also, the new guys are the primary reason bodybuilding has grown in interest at the pro ranks lately. From Heath to Curry to Wolf, people are paying more attention to the guys under 35. I think that statement might have been true about 6 years ago...but much less now.

I do see people villainizing the word "bodybuilder"...so many guys now call it "powerbuilding" or some other bullshit term to simply describe wanting to be big and strong. I think this comes from the widespread bullshit myth that bodybuilders are weak...which must have been started by some small personal trainer.

I will say that with the growth of the gym market and everyone and their mother getting a membership, there is simply a larger population in the gym. Hundreds more people who are very average and comfortable being that way now walk into a gym and see a big bodybuilder. I have had people look at me as if there was something wrong with me...and that is IN a gym. Most of these people are older though and clearly out of shape.

I say give it 5 more years and bodybuilding will grow even more.

I also think it is a good thing that many of the GREAT competitors are closer to hitting 40. It means that glass ceiling doesn't exist anymore.


There seem to be more relative strength live long guys that don't wanna get that big and unhealthy, like if that happened by accident.


IMO the day those soloflex or whatever they were called machines started advertising on tv it all changed.


Just like there are trends in hairstyles/clothes there are trends in physiques.

The decade you were raised in plays a large role in molding your idea of what the male physique should look like.

I was born in the early 70s and raised in the 80s; so the physiques of popular action movie stars (Stallone, Arnold and JCVD) had a lasting impression on me.

So to did TV cartoons like He-Man and my, then, interest in comics and D&D. All of which reinforced my image of what a man should look like.

Of course the generation before mine, those raised in the 70s, had the 'skinny' look pushed on them.

My parents and their friends (post world war 2 baby boomers) seem to think barrel chested farmer types represent the ideal male physique. Not frail or 'wussy' looking, but not overly concerned with muscles.

All this to say I'm not worried for the next generation of males. Mextrosexuality is a trend like any other that will cycle in and out. Just like larger and more muscular male physiques will come back in vogue. Everything is cyclical. Just some people haven't been around long enough to realize this.


Interesting points, but im too frightened by your avatar to listen to them.


i havent seen a decline in young guys training for size but i have seen a definite increase in these guys jumping on PH/DS and even pharma grade gear before theyve even learned how to develope naturally.

when i was playing high school football about 5 years ago, we did nothing but stuff our faces and take creatine to try and grow. hormones never crossed our minds. now i hear stories from my friend who coaches at the same high school about the kids doing cycles (awful ones at that). another friend of mine manages a local nutrition store and says they cant keep epi and tren in stock and its all getting bought up by young skinny-fat guys who dont even know what a PCT is.

bodybuilding is a sport that takes a lot of dedication and patience and those are two traits that young people in today's society dont have.



so many places to go with this... but in all honesty they might have just been a little scared of you.

either that or they were just dumbfounded as to how someone could build muscles of such unfunctional porportions and all.


Ive noticed that on this site we critique each other alot. Thats both positive and negative. But no matter what we say we are very unique because we work to be bigger and more muscular. You go anywhere and you see obese people, I dont care if a guys program is complete program hes still going out and working hard thats all that matters. And its said we live in a world where athletics, and gaining muscle is so frowned upon.


Here's my quick POV on this.
kids want to be tough...when I was a kid "tough" was movie action heroes, wrestlers, and Mike tyson.

These days it's guys who are 6ft tall and are 185 lbs of crazy conditioned physiques...the funny thing is with the exeption of "the once baddest man on the planet" they're right MMA builds are the real deal when it comes to being tough. lots of guys are aspiring to have navy seal bodies because it feels easier to attain and is more socially accepted then joining the bodybuilder scene.


i see a lot of people doing the same chest+arms every day bullshit, theres a lot of them though.

i think thats how its always been i think thats how itll always be.

i also went through a GSP phase, back when i swore if i got to 180-185 id be JACKED

now im trying to hit 230 withen 6 months/year


I think that a turning point for my generation (late eighties/early nineties) was definitely BPIFC and UFC physiques. Due to a lot of stereotypes and the abuse of steroids by people who don't need them, BBers have been portrayed as generally dumb and slow.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that many of these opinions come from a lack of knowledge and a definite disconnect between the youth and the culture of BBing. I imagine that once there is a new hollywood movie star with a BBing background, it will become popular again.


Dante's the only guy I've ever heard use that word loosely really.

A power-bodybuilding game plan stresses continually getting stronger on key movements, and the body protects itself by getting muscularly larger. If you never get anywhere close to your ultimate strength levels, you will never get close to your utmost level of potential size. - Dante


i consider myself a powerbuilder. i use a lot of powerlifting methods in my bodybuilding training.

i do

bench press
stiff-legged deadlifts
rolling extensions (+press)
close grip bench press
reverse grip bench press

ive also done box squatting before.

i train to get bigger and stronger though, right now i dont care about proportions i mean if something is lagging i want to bring it up but my main focus is to add weight to the bar and add pounds to the scale.

id also like to simultaneously compete in PLing and BBing.


Excellent points.

I also mentioned this elsehwere, but Arnold made bodybuilding "cool" because he worked hard OUTSIDE the bbing scene and helped people make a connection between 'muscular" and "being charismatic, successful' and "being the object of affection for women all over". How many bbers of today are able to make that?

Many bbers of today are only allowing people to make the conenction between "muscular" and "financially NOT well-off" and "gay fans" and "females find it yucky" (a dogma being pushed by the media MAINLY as a knee-jerk reaction to drug-abuse in college going kids).

Thats why i liked Jay Cutler's episode on "Cribs" where they showed him as being very successful, having an attractive wife, and so on and sof orth. Gunter Schlierkamp is another guy (esp since he has a beautiful wife) who COULD be a good ambassador for bbing if he tries to - ditto for someone like Shawn Ray. While Ronnie has a persona as a good natured big guy thats not helping the sport much, especially given his marriage to Vickie Gates (ditto for Ruhl).

Now everyone (thanks to testosterone) deep down wants to be strong, powerful and kick people's asses. Also it will take a LONG time before women start finding wide shoulders, a V taper and big arms sexually unappealing. So all is not lost.

However, if you want being powerfully built to be back in vogue, you need someone to help people make the link between this (being big and built) and the other things young guys want to have (money, power, success, women, etc). The musclemag covers with Kovacs posing next to buxom bikini babes do their part is sowing the seed - but that will only work for so long before kids start observing whats REALLY happening around them (CAN ELABORATE ON THIS IF ANYONE WANTS).

The bbing world needs another Arnold.


Can there ever be another Arnold though? People calling Jake Gyllenhal Jacked with his 13inch guns for Prince of Persia. And People calling Hugh Jackmen Hugh JACKEDMAN with his 15-16inch guns.

IMO Arnold days are gone and gone forever, sounds pessimistic but seriously look around you.