Look, I get it—I’m about to sound like a bitter old man—but all this needs to be said. I came up in the bodybuilding game starting in 2006. I didn’t compete until 2010. Get that? Do the math. I had four years of training before anyone ever considered approaching me and saying “Yo bro, you’re big. You should do a show.” Want to see what I looked like training back then? Well, you can’t because there are no pictures or videos. We didn’t bring our phones or cameras to the gym. If you were caught taking a selfie, someone would have probably called you a pussy.
We trained like madmen—I mean real fucking hard. Tough enough to tear my pec on the bench in my senior year. Call it bad form and stupid but, trust me, you need a significant amount of weight on the bar to rupture your pec completely. We went to the limit and beyond each session. We did it for ourselves and to beat those around us.
By the time I was on stage, I knew every Mr. Olympia dating back to the late 60’s in order and I knew all the current pro circuit guys. When I say “current pro circuit” and “Mr. Olympia,” I’m talking bodybuilders. Not Classic Physique. Not Men's Physique. I’m talking the freaks of the freaks. You needed to have an adequate amount of mass on your frame just to take off your clothes backstage in this division. I knew the history. I knew who had rivalries with whom and who fucked up their diuretics backstage at what competition. I knew where and when each of these athletes would be appearing and competing. More than ever though, I was trying to figure out a way to eventually beat these guys.
Fast forward to 2021, the world is different. Generations changed and the shifts in society have infiltrated our beloved industry. In my opinion, it fucking sucks. Back in the day, guys that were praised for being the biggest were chased by the young bucks like he was the big deer in the forest. People today want to be “aesthetic,” which looks like some skinny kid with a bicep vein and a shirt so cut open that we can see his ribs. Couple that with some half-assed Frank Zane wannabe posing and you have the modern gym bro. The word “aesthetic” is like nails on a chalkboard to me because aesthetic isn’t what they think it means. Brian Buchanan was aesthetic. Momo Benaziza was aesthetic. So were Rory Leidelmeyer and Charles Clairmonte, and the list goes on. All of these guys were big AND flowed. That’s aesthetic.
Do you know any of these names? If you’re from the new era lifting crew, you most certainly don’t because you do not care about the history, customs, or traditions of our industry. That’s like becoming president and not knowing who George Washington is. This generation was built on participation trophies, mediocrity, and instant gratification. They want everything now and they want it easy. If it’s difficult and requires a lot of time and patience, they don’t want it. They’ll settle for the next easiest thing like getting praise for something as ordinary as a 315lb deadlift. Film it on their expensive camera and load it to Tik Tok. Get thousands of average people to virtually pat them on the back, and the cycle continues.
Look, I’m going to wrap it up because I can feel my blood pressure rising as I’m writing this. Real lifters go to the gym to train. They are in their own world—they do not make a mockery of the gym or themselves. They respect those that laid the groundwork in this industry and they always strive to become better. “Mediocrity” is never a word in their vocabulary and they dream of being the best in the world. They are patient yet aggressive, confident yet humble. With which era do you identify?