Bodybuilding is more popular than ever, with the average Joe now following a bodybuilding split and counting their macros religiously.
However, you could argue that the IFBB Mr. Olympia contest is not increasing in popularity, with bodybuilders today still idolizing physiques from the 70's (known as the Golden Era).
Here is our take on why bodybuilding may be going backwards, and what can be changed to create a new era that could match the classic physiques of Arnold and co.
Bubble Guts Are the Norm
Distended, pregnant-looking stomachs are now rife on the IFBB stage. This is quite the contrast to bodybuilders from the 70s, displaying tiny midsections that were commonly shown off with a vacuum pose.
These bigger waists can be attributed to higher dosages being utilized and the addition of HGH (combined with insulin). All of these compounds increase visceral fat, which pushes out the abdomen.
There are bodybuilders today who have smaller waists, such as Dexter Jackson, however such competitors are also somewhat smaller than the more bloated-looking physiques.
Until judges start rewarding aesthetics over mass, things could get even more messy in the next 10 years.
People Lying About Their Natty Status
There seems to be a lot of deception right now in the fitness industry, with bodybuilders claiming to be natural, when they are actually enhanced.
This gives nave weightlifters lots of motivation to look like their idols, only to end up saddened to understand this is close to impossible (without taking the same 'supplements' they are on).
Such lies also give a bad name to legitimate natural bodybuilders, who are now being discredited despite actually being clean.
This has led to a lot of slander, calling people out who may actually be natural -- making the bodybuilding industry seem somewhat of a witch hunt (at least on YouTube).
In a generation that is obsessed with quick fixes and fast results -- there has never been so many supplements on the market. Bodybuilders often spend several hundreds of dollars on supplements per month, resulting in their fans/followers following suit (to maximize their gains).
Despite so many coveting the closest supplements to steroids, there is less emphasis than ever before on nutrition and training.
Bodybuilders in the 70s would spend hours talking about nutrition and planning new edge cutting workouts -- yet today the magazine covers are filled with the next overhyped supplement.
Because people are desperate to build muscle and look better, there is lots of money to be made, and thus supplement companies are taking advantage (despite tainting the sport somewhat with bold claims).
More Vanity in Bodybuilding Today
When Dorian Yates was Mr. Olympia champion, no one would see him until competition time.
He would train in his basement gym, known as the 'dungeon', lurking in the shadows. Then he'd rock up and scoop a Sandow trophy. This old-school approach resulted in him being nicknamed: The Shadow.
This is a polar opposite approach to bodybuilders these days, who are taking constant selfies not just of their bodies, but also seemingly every meal they eat.
Thus, the culture of bodybuilding has changed -- with less emphasis on training and more on social media (and accumulating followers).
Health Less of a Priority
Although a healthy lifestyle is often accompanied with bodybuilding, increasingly more people are eating junk foods to bulk up.
Although junk food in moderation certainly isn't a bad thing (especially infrequent cheat meals) -- when refined food sources are consumed daily, it can have a negative effect on blood sugar levels and the immune system.
There are dieting protocols, known as IIFYM (if it fits your macros), where it is deemed okay to eat 'unclean' foods, as long as it hits the correct ratios of proteins/carbohydrates/fats.
This shift has gone from training to be stronger and healthier, to merely looking good on the outside (with less care for the inside).
Body dysmorphia is on the rise, with bodybuilders feeling inadequate about their physique, thinking their muscles look smaller than what they actually are.
This is the consequence of an unhealthy obsession, which bodybuilding is to some in this era. It has now become a tool to impress other people (particularly the opposite sex), rather than trying to enhance one's physique to please themselves and improve their health.
This people-pleasing mindset has led to anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.
It is shocking to see some of the bodybuilders who suffer from this, as they have world-class looking physiques that are incredibly muscular and ripped.
Because the selective gene pool for bodybuilding currently is so vast, there are quite a few 'genetic anomalies'.
These are people who have genetic mutations (such as a myostatin deficiency), that may result in them building unnatural amounts of muscle with ease. Flex Wheeler was one of these bodybuilders in the 80's developing one of the most aesthetic physiques of all time.
Seeing exceptionally gifted bodybuilders like this on social media feeds, can become deflating to those with weaker genetics. Such desperation can lead to them making bad decisions, with a mindset of doing whatever it takes to look like their idols. Such decisions can impact their health and family in the future.