Men’s Physique Vs Classic Physique Vs Bodybuilding

Alpha Physique, Muscle Gain

There’s a lot of confusion online in regards to Men’s Physique, Men’s Classic Physique, and Open Bodybuilding. How do these categories differ from one another, and what do the contestants tend to look like?

Today I’m going to delve into the differences, using examples of pros within each category. We’ll look at visual differences, body measurement differences and drug usage differences (speculative in some cases).

What Is Men’s Physique?

Men’s physique is a relatively new category that was introduced in 2012 at the Olympia. The main goal with this was to diverge from the modern day ‘mass monsters’ and give the world something a little more aesthetic and attainable for your average Joe.

There’s a strong focus on the shoulder to waist ratio, using numbers 52.5 to 27 (a little more extreme than what I mentioned in the ‘v-taper‘ article.) So it’s almost a case of – the narrower the waistline the better – which is a nice contrast to the open bodybuilding category.

There’s also less of an ‘upper leg emphasis’, as the men’s physique competition requires men to wear knee-length swimming trunks. The focus is on the ‘ideal beach body’, rather than pure mass.

Example Physiques

Jeremy Buendia, 4x Men’s physique champion is pictured below (with a 27 inch waist):

Men's Physique Competition

So although the average person may look at him in his off-season and call him ‘a bodybuilder’, you can see the difference between him and Phil Heath on stage is simply night and day.

His waistline is narrow and chiselled rather than bloated and out of proportion, and his face is square and angular, rather than, just BIG. I’d guess he’s probably 6-7% body fat here.

Another example, Ryan Terry:

Men's Physique

Again, narrow waistline, chiselled face. Probably ~5% body fat.

Another one, a very sauced-up-looking Sergi Constance:

Men's Physique

Sergi’s waistline doesn’t appear to be as narrow as the other guys, but he’s pretty huge around the chest & shoulder area, with pretty much perfect muscle insertions.

It’s reported that his arms are a whopping 19 inches in size, so even though these guys aren’t competing in bodybuilding, there’s some real size there by anyone’s standards.

Having said that, I suspect these were measured while bulking and being a slightly higher body fat %, not that he ever really goes beyond 8%.

What Is Men’s Classic Physique?

This was the most recent addition to the IFBB, and was introduced in 2016. The goal with this category was to almost relive the ‘classic’ (and more aesthetic) Golden Era of bodybuilding.

The guys who compete here are almost like the modern day Arnold’s and Frank Zane’s. These guys are huge, and have taken their size beyond Men’s Physique, but not as far as the open bodybuilding category.

The main difference between the open category and Men’s Classic Physique, is that the former have lost control of their stomachs, due to expanded intestinal size in their pursuit of maximum growth. Whereas the classic guys can still hold the ‘vacuum pose’ – holding their stomach’s in.

Example Physiques

Here’s the Mr. Olympia of classic, Chris Bumstead, looking like the next Arnie:

Men's Physique Competition

This dude was only 22 in the above pictures, which is absolutely insane. Likely around 5% body fat.

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    Here’s the former champion Breon Ansley, who you can see pictured next to Chris Bumstead:

    Men's Classic Physique

    So clearly these guys have more mass on them than the guys in Men’s Physique, but aren’t exactly Ronnie Coleman either.

    Drug Usage Differences

    While I can’t possibly say what each person takes and at what time, I can give you a pretty rough estimation of what guys take at each level.

    There’s screenshots of fitness models openly talking about their gear usage, and also Chris Bumstead & his coach are open about his off-season cycle – you can see the YouTube video right here.

    Men’s Classic Physique Steroid Usage

    Also worthy of mention is his coach’s comments on that very video, saying:

    “We said offseason and currently. Which is 100% the truth. During prep are some more things needed than just test? Of course. But we’re EXTREMELY conservative. If he’s doing say 500mg test, 300mg masteron, 150mg tren ace (per week) + Ai’s during prep that’s basically as hard as he goes now”

    “He’s never really done much at all tbh. I wouldn’t care to admit it if he had. Everyone does dumb shit when they’re young. But you have to remember 1. He’s a genetic freak and has always got away with very very little. And 2 he’s my family that I care about a lot, I would never want him doing anything excessive or unnecessary when it’s clearly not needed and he was progressing well every year”

    So right now Chris isn’t on any more than 1 gram of gear per week, but that’s right now, at the upper limit of his weight class, as Derek mentions in the video. He almost definitely was on more than this on his way up to being Mr. Olympia.

    Men’s Physique Steroid Usage

    Now, I don’t know if this guy has actually competed in the IFBB Men’s Physique (which is why I said a lot of this stuff is speculation), but it looks like he’s competed in similar divisions, and is regularly compared to Sergi Constance.

    Both guys are famous fitness models. He’s called Jaco De Bruyn:

    Men's Physique

    He’s got a ridiculous physique, just like Constance. But he’s completely open about his gear use, rather than having a ‘let’s just not talk about it’ approach.

    Here’s some screenshots of him talking to what I can only assume is a future competitor wannabe:

    So it looks like a decent amount of stuff. Is it as much as Chris Bumstead was taking in his off season a few years back? Is it more than what he was taking?

    Nobody really knows.

    There’s two major factors here that may well be playing in Chris’ favour – genetics and food. Chris has ridiculous genetics, and bulks properly in his off-season, which is something a lot of fitness models don’t seem to do. When you bulk properly, your drug requirements go way down.

    Men’s Physique Vs Bodybuilding

    Alright, here’s where the real mass monsters are. The open category is full of guys who get up to 300+ pounds in their off-season.

    This category doesn’t care about having a narrow waistline, with pure mass (and symmetry) being the goal. Insulin use is pretty much guaranteed, which excessive amounts of growth hormone.

    Here’s the two most famous examples.

    Jay Cutler vs Ronnie Coleman:

    Men's Physique Vs Bodybuilding

    These dudes are enormous. Far bigger than Arnie ever was, far bigger than Chris Bumstead is, and probably aren’t the epitome of health either.

    So hopefully by now you can really tell the difference between the three categories in the IFBB.

    If you liked this content, feel free to read some of my other articles on improving your looks, powerbuilding, and ‘bro splits‘.

    If you have any questions in relation to any of this, make sure you’re on the email list. That’s where I respond to all questions within a couple of days.

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