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The Mr. Olympia Contest
September 25, 2009 3:03 PM   Subscribe

(all links possibly nsfw) This weekend, Jay Cutler tries to win back from Dexter Jackson the greatest prize in professional bodybuilding - the title of Mr. Olympia. [You may have heard of one of them.]

The best news coverage of the event will be at Bodybuilding.com. The liveliest fan discussion will be at the notoriously free-spoken GetBig. (previously)
posted by Joe Beese (42 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thought Jay Cutler was QB'ing the Bears v. Seattle this weekend.

Also total misuse of the "sports" tag.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:06 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Picking up heavy stuff and putting it back down again: Serious Business.
posted by dersins at 3:08 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: "total misuse of the "sports" tag."

That subject is probably GetBig's favorite joke.

Anyway, I thought I'd be polite.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:09 PM on September 25, 2009


I'm a bit morbidly fascinated when they shake their thighs loose a bit then flex them into full definition. It's like watching an Aliens movie or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:11 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


ahem. metafilter: I'm a bit morbidly fascinated

Jay Cutler: "do you want a body like this?"
Me: "GOD NO!"
posted by Think_Long at 3:21 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Watching the Dexter video at 1:03, as the announcer says "this is the performance of Dexter's career", he demurely shakes his ass in too tiny purple shorts, and I could not help but think that the internet has once again made me die a little inside.
posted by evadery at 3:33 PM on September 25, 2009


It's amazing how much abuse the human body can withstand.

<pops open another beer...>
posted by rokusan at 3:58 PM on September 25, 2009


In the Mr. Olympia website, the photo of Dexter Jackson looks unnatural in it's placement of his little pants. The sheer bulk of his legs make it seem like his loincloth was stuck onto his body in a style akin to Mr. Potato Head's eyes, nose and mouth, except without the attention to scale.

What I'm trying to say is, his pants are unnaturally tiny.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:07 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clive James summed it up when he said Arnold Schwarzenegger looked like "a brown condom full of walnuts".
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:08 PM on September 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


I work out three days a week, and after watching that commercial for the Powertec system or whatever the hell it was, I can tell you that I'm now scared of their brand of equipment. Way to go advertisers. Way to go. Assume everyone wants to look like a circus freak.

Also, what the hell was with the song in the Dexter Jackson link? Could that entire display have been any less manly?
posted by dortmunder at 4:46 PM on September 25, 2009


74 year old Tsutomu Tosuka.
posted by gman at 4:56 PM on September 25, 2009


What, no mention of Ronnie Coleman and his catchphrases?

"Everybody wanna be a bodybuilder, no one wants to lift these heavy-ass weights. I do it though!"
"Yeah buddy"
"Light weight baby!"

etc. etc.
posted by djgh at 5:42 PM on September 25, 2009


I haven't touched a bodybuilding mag in at least a good ten years, and stopped caring about the "sport" a few years prior. The thing is if Arnold got up there today with these guys he wouldn't nearly have as much muscle and probably wouldn't be able to qualify because of it. Hell, if you watch Pumping Iron you can see Ferrigno is quite a bit bigger than him.
There used to be, at least people talked about it, an aesthetic appeal to symmetry in the sport. Then the term somehow came to be used in conjunction with lagging bodyparts, or muscles that were too small in comparison to the rest of the body. By the way, you'll never notice someone involved in bodybuilding mention that a muscle is too big. It probably started in the 90's when a guy named Dorian Yates kept winning while everybody waited for a smaller but more shapely competitor named Flex Wheeler to come out on top. That never happened and Dorian was supplanted by another monster named Ronnie Coleman. It became obvious to everyone that the judges were voting for bigger is better and you had to basically be a huge monster to beat the current one.
Really though, the troubling thing with this *ahem* sport (and oddly something nobody ever touches on) is it is basically a worship of excess. Sure these guys have to go through grueling brutal workouts and so forth and so on blah blah blah, but you don't have to be a genius to see at some point the idea goes all the way from attainment of a healthier fitter body past it and back to an unhealthy lifestyle. A lifestlye that many people enjoy by just sitting around drinking beer. Even if we say that sure there are a lot of big and/or muscular people that are also healthy, if we set that aside and just look at the amount of energy consumption that goes into this quest of vanity (dare I say narcissim) then you must come around to the idea that this really isn't healthy for anyone.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:51 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ok, re: the olympiawinners.com link. Honestly, is it really possible for those last three guys to have become so goddamn huge without using steroids?

Sorry if this is a horrible derail. I just... THEY DON'T EVEN LOOK HUMAN ANYMORE WTF.
posted by elizardbits at 5:57 PM on September 25, 2009


Honestly, is it really possible for those last three guys to have become so goddamn huge without using steroids?

Oh, that's easy, I don't even have to look at who you're talking about. No.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:18 PM on September 25, 2009


elizardbits: " is it really possible for those last three guys to have become so goddamn huge without using steroids?"

No.

I believe the consensus is that even the earliest Mr. Olympia-s had chemical help. Today, no one can hope to compete on a professional - or even national amateur level - without a multi-thousand dollar regimen of anabolics, diuretics, human growth hormone, subdermal injections, etc.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:25 PM on September 25, 2009


Correct me if I'm wrong, but these grotesque Mr. Universe winners aren't nearly as real-world strong as the people who compete in ESPN strongman competitions. Their bodies are just to laden with muscle groups that were targeted by specific repetitions that they can't find the leverage and endurance needed to do cool things like run with fridges strapped to their back. Not that the latter group aren't drug addled weight lifting freaks also, but they manage a bit more use out of their bodies than a prop.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:41 PM on September 25, 2009


^It's not optimal for strength, but the idea that their limbs are useless props is kinda silly. They're a helluva lot stronger and more fit than your average bear!
posted by autodidact at 7:03 PM on September 25, 2009


Burhanistan, it is my understanding that at a certain point, these guys start training for size rather than strength (not that they aren't insanely strong I'm sure, but size is the larger priority). Read the linked section on hypertrophy and strength training(wiki) for slightly more info.
posted by !Jim at 7:03 PM on September 25, 2009


Interesting. Yes, I know the body builders aren't weaklings and can beat me in arm wrestling, but the muscle strength they develop is of limited use in real world application. They can't hit harder than a boxer, can't chop down a tree faster than a lumberjack, etc (assumptions on my part). The bulk just gets in its own way in most actions other than simple lifts.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:09 PM on September 25, 2009


Did I come to the wrong website?
posted by valentinepig at 7:16 PM on September 25, 2009


I want to know how they get so freakishly huge AND defined. I've seen a lot of steroid freaks at gyms, but they looked big and almost fat.
posted by letitrain at 7:18 PM on September 25, 2009


Body building has become a ghetto, a perverse underground subculture for guys with a particular type of body dysmorphic disorder to reinforce each other's sickness. In fact, the use of steroids and other chemicals has altered the sport. The monsters of today can no longer perform a pose called the vacuum, performed by frank zane here, because all of the abdominal muscle groups have become grotesquely huge.

As P.o.B. mentions, for one brief moment in the 70's it looked like the sport was going to encourage a more aesthetic, classical look as the ideal target. Frank Zane actually managed to win Mr. Olympia for three consecutive years, before the industry discovered there was a fortune to be made off of steroids and pills. In those pictures, Zane weighs 185-190 lbs. That's not huge by anyone's standards.

Had bodybuilding held up Zane as the ideal, rather than monstrosities like Cutler, Yates, or Jackson, I think he sport would have a broader appeal and be less marginalized. But now it's all about testosterone gels, HGH, and painkillers. Imagine a sport for girls that rewarded anorexia, and where magazines devoted to it advertised pills to help you puke. That's basically bodybuilding today.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:49 PM on September 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


Honestly, is it really possible for those last three guys to have become so goddamn huge without using steroids?

YES, it is.

I'm not saying they are, but it is possible. My brother is the top unlimited-class arm wrestler in the world. Not quite as big as Jay Cutler (my brother is 240/250 pounds, and Jay is 20-30 pounds more) but he's younger (and thus had less time to build mass), and one of the world's top strength athletes in a number of categories. He's 100% clean and always has been (and has a far less bulky build than these guys and is very "functional" as a human).

So I don't know whether these guys are natural -- it wouldn't surprise me if they're not -- but it's certainly not impossible.

Feels like there's a fair amount of prejudice and misunderstanding toward bodybuilders. It's really still an "outsider" sport -- far less of an understood form of body modification than tattoos or piercings (a statement which would have been hard to believe would come true if you'd said it two decades ago).
posted by glider at 8:10 PM on September 25, 2009


Well bodybuilders generally could give a damn how strong they are, mostly that's a side effect of getting bigger. Actually if you think about it, you really don't want to get stronger as a bodybuilder because it just puts that much more strain on underdeveloped tendons/ligaments, which could cause injuries.

glider, there are a bunch of strongman that are huge drug-free, but there are none that are huge and keep their bodyfat levels hovering south of 5%. Add to the fact they do all kinds of pre-contest prepping to look the way they do, and most strongmen/power/olympic lifters sneer at the idea of losing any of their hard earned bulk/strength which is would be a given. As a matter of fact Ronnie Coleman is a genetic freak, as are most guys at the top levels, by way that he came into the iFBB "drug free" (whatever that meant). He sure as hell didn't start winning until he dropped all the drug free rhetoric and packed on an extra X amount of pounds of muscle.
So what I would say is: maybe. Possible, sure, but highly improbably. If a guy even placed in the top ten at the Olympia claiming he was drug free, you can bet not only would people a) laugh their heads off, they would b) hit him with every drug test they could. Or at least ask for them and if he didn't comply would be scoffed at as a liar.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:43 PM on September 25, 2009


By the way, if anyone hasn't been near or even seen a pro bodybuilder up close in real life - do it. It will blow your mind. It is totally different than seeing a picture or video of one of those guys. They are waaaaayyy bigger and more muscular than you could believe.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:46 PM on September 25, 2009


I don't think body builders tend to have underdeveloped connective tissue as a rule -- many of them are strength athletes as well as aesthetic body builders. Browse through the various bios on Wikipedia that list contest placements and you'll see quite a few have wins in each.

I assume everyone interested in the subject has seen it, but "Bigger Stronger Faster" is a great documentary on all this.
posted by glider at 8:46 PM on September 25, 2009


BTW, don't think I'm arguing with you P.o.B., I agree with and second almost everything you're pointing out.
posted by glider at 8:47 PM on September 25, 2009


So I don't know whether these guys are natural -- it wouldn't surprise me if they're not -- but it's certainly not impossible.

Be surprised. Schwarzenegger, Yates, Lou Ferrigno, and many many others have all admitted to using steroids or testosterone precursor chemicals. This is a natural bodybuilding federation. This guy is the winner. Compare him to last years' Mr. Olympia.

I don't know about your brother, but if this is him, he's not even close to these guys. That profile says he's 6'5", 240 lbs, with a 17" bicep. Jay Culter is 5'9", 260 lbs, with a 22" bicep. His neck is wider than Devon's biceps. And notice that Culter's thighs are only slightly narrower than his upper torso.

It is simply not possible to train, heal, train under normal biology and get this large. Remember that because muscle grows during rest after its been destroyed in training, the purpose of steroids is to help you heal faster so you can train more frequently.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:23 PM on September 25, 2009


By the way, I wasn't putting down your brother, who obviously could kick my ass any day of the week.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:27 PM on September 25, 2009


Jay Cutler seems to be in contempt of all that is good.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:57 PM on September 25, 2009


Gross.
posted by pkingdesign at 10:56 PM on September 25, 2009


Scrolling few a pages of the photo galleries of the current contest, it seems that all of the participants to a person are consumed by a kind of self-voyeurism. That's the only reason I could use to explain why a person would intentionally do that to their body. That kind of voyeurism is a risk of any kind of exercise, and I've noticed it a little in myself a few years ago when I was doing lots of calisthenics and light weight training. Something in the ego switches on and becomes more body obsessed beyond any intention of health or applied training. It's a reductive mindset and leads people to spend more and more of their lives in the gym.

Beyond the temporary and ever diminishing adrenaline rush, there's nothing particularly interesting about what these people do. Nothing really new happens year in and year out at these competitions. The bodybuilders get larger and the techniques and supplements get refined, but it's a static culture based on voyeurism. That doesn't mean that perhaps individuals have more interesting things going on, but collectively they are kind of cultural dead end.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:32 PM on September 25, 2009


My brother is a strength athlete, not an aesthetic body builder -- my point is that it's possible to get to the top of the world ranking in a largely physical sport (not to discount the mental aspects of arm wresting which are more significant than most would assume) without drugs. It can be done, rare as it may be.

I was under the impression that Schwarzenegger's roid use was quite limited and early in his career. Certainly there are natural body builders who have achieved his build.

I don't know what's up with the big eared guy in the linked picture. Most of the guys in that federation are a whole different sort of freakshow. I guess I'm one of the few who really likes and admires the dedication and extremes that the monsters of the sport have achieved, drugs or not (and I'm not so sure that I have a problem with using drugs in sports to achieve your maximum potential, but that's a different debate).
posted by glider at 3:45 AM on September 26, 2009


And Burhanistan, you could make that same statement about most sports -- running, etc. You could also say it about chess and other other games of skill and/or effort.

It's sort of missing the point.
posted by glider at 3:47 AM on September 26, 2009


It's sort of missing the point.

Not really. Body building and Mr. Olympia contests are not really sports in my estimation. There's no real objective measurable outcome. It's just subjective, even if there are established criteria. It's like calling a swimsuit competition a sport. At best, bodybuilding is a physical training regiment but it's not really something with a true sporting aspect to it in and of itself.

And you missed my point about the auto-voyeurism. A chess player doesn't spend hours each day looking at his muscles flexing in a floor-to-ceiling mirror. Neither does a basketball player. The point of bodybuilding is to fetishize your own body. Very different from other physical sports where there is a line of activity beyond shaking your muscles around.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:26 AM on September 26, 2009


Many bodybuilders have body dysmorphic disorder. We see them as grotesquely overbuilt, but when they look in the mirror, they see their bodies as too small or imperfect, much as an anorexic young girl sees herself as too fat. Pretty sad, really.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:47 AM on September 26, 2009


The monsters of today can no longer perform a pose called the vacuum

Huh. I had no idea they incorporated hatha yoga into their poses. That is pretty damn awesome.


By the way, if anyone hasn't been near or even seen a pro bodybuilder up close in real life - do it.

I met a chinese pro bodybuilder at a gym in Beijing a couple of years ago. His forearms were bigger than my legs, and one of his legs was pretty much the size of my entire torso. I felt like a teacup chihuahua next to a mastiff.
posted by elizardbits at 7:04 AM on September 26, 2009


is it really possible for those last three guys to have become so goddamn huge without using steroids?

glider mentioned Bigger, Stronger, Faster above -- it is a startlingly well-researched and multi-sided look at this question. Seriously, it's an awesome documentary, well worth watching.

(The funniest bit is when the documentarian finally gets his chance to throw a question at Aaaaahnold, but succumbs to total fanboy mode instead and winds up on the front page of the LA Times. No, wait, the funniest bit is when Rep. Waxman reveals the true depth of his knowledge on the issue. No, wait, the funniest bit is Waxman's moustache. But you knew that part already.)
posted by ook at 7:25 AM on September 26, 2009


The pathological aspects of amateur bodybuilding are vividly portrayed in Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder, by Samuel Fussell. (His father - the prominent sociologist Paul Fussell - makes some unnamed cameos.)

The pathological aspects of professional bodybuilding are best covered in a UK title, Muscle: A Writer's Trip Through a Sport With No Boundaries. Its harrowing depiction of the death of Andreas Münzer at the age of 30 is excerpted at length here.

As he became more successful, Andi moved to Munich, where he was known as one of the nicest men in a sport mostly populated by meatheads, narcissists, egoists, attention-seekers, overcompensators and the terminally aggrieved. It was a sport that demanded extremity, so it attracted extremists. Andi was no such thing.

But he had made the deal. The Munich Andi would play the zugzwang. He hit some heavy cycles: he injected two ampoules of testosterone a day; he took the oral steroids Halotestin and Anabol; he combined them with Masteron and Parabolan; he used between four and 24 units of the growth hormone STH. Steroids aided muscle repair and general recovery; they allowed him to train with greater intensity. He combined different steroid types to maximum effect. He found that STH, the synthetic growth hormone, mimicked human growth hormone; it made everything grow - muscles, bones, organs, tissues. He ate 6-8,000 calories a day to nourish his muscles. He used insulin to stimulate his metabolism and churn the calories more quickly; he used at least five aspirin tablets each morning to thin his blood and help with the pain of training; he used ephedrine and Captagon to increase his intensity on the weights.

posted by Joe Beese at 9:32 AM on September 26, 2009


Jim Morris competing at age 60. He's now in his mid-70s and still lifting.
posted by zippy at 10:55 AM on September 26, 2009


Here's Jim Morris in competition shape at 71. Wow.
posted by zippy at 2:50 PM on September 26, 2009


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