Similarly to many other things, bodybuilding competition continues to evolve. Back in 1983, I wrote an article for the inaugural issue of Flex magazine about whether bodybuilding competition was veering to a judging system that held muscular mass as the deciding factor in who would win any bodybuilding contest. Little did I realize just what this emphasis on muscle mass would lead to. Current competitors, especially in the professional division of bodybuilding, often step on stage weighing over 270 pounds. The 2021 Mr.Olympia, "Big Ramy" won the contest weighing 303 pounds. In contrast, Arnold Schwarzenegger's heaviest weight at any contest appearance was 235 pounds. Many bodybuilding fans and observers bemoan the appearance of some of the current top bodybuilders, saying their muscle size has simply gone too far. Although most of the top men, particularly the more successful competitors, do retain a good balance of symmetry and proportions in line with their massive musculature, what's missing, according to the critics, is aesthetics. Attempting to define just what constitutes an aesthetic physique is a difficult proposition since it tends to be a subjective judgment often based on how a person themselves wants to look. But most of those who criticize the current behemoths that appear at both professional and amateur bodybuilding contests often cite the appearance of bodybuilders of the past as the archetypes of perfect bodybuilding aesthetics. In that sense, past bodybuilding champions, such as 1947 Mr.America and later screen Hercules, Steve Reeves, along with Frank Zane, who won the Mr.Olympia title three times in the late 1970s, are often described as having the ideal physiques that most appeal to the public.
But it isn't just the massive size displayed by current bodybuilders that is the problem. It's what it took to get that size and the fact that not everyone has the genetic ability to reach such lofty muscle mass standards. The not-so-dirty secret of pro and in most cases, amateur bodybuilding competition is that the ability to compete on an even scale requires using large doses of various anabolic drugs. These drugs include the usual array of oral and injectable anabolic steroids, growth hormone, and a relatively recent addition to the anabolic stack, insulin. In fact, it's the combination of these three anabolic hormones, along with the genetics to respond to their use, that accounts for the gargantuan muscle mass shown by most of the top bodybuilding competitors.
The question is: What to do about it? Some people believe that the massive appearance of bodybuilders is a major turn-off to the public, which lowers the popularity of bodybuilding contests. Of course, there is also a health issue, in that no one knows what lies up the road for those men who are using massive doses of these hormones. They are in uncharted medical territory. In 1990, in an attempt to curb the . . .