The Men’s Physique Category | Gymtalk Hot Topic

Gymtalk Hot Topic: Men’s Physique

There is a storm brewing in the Gymtalk office.

Battle lines have been drawn and people are starting to misuse company files by building barricades.

This is all because of the new category being introduced at this year’s Olympia:

Men’s Physique.

men's physique category

You can read the official IFBB rules for the Men’s Physique category by clicking here.

One side says that this new category is just for pretty boys who don’t want to train legs.

The other side believes Men’s Physique is taking bodybuilding back to a golden age of aesthetics and symmetry.

In this article I’ll try and give an unbiased outline of the category and shed some light on the subject so you can pick a side for yourselves.

Let’s begin…


Men’s Physique opens up the Olympia competition to a new type of athlete, calling for less massive and more athletic/aesthetic competitors to take the stage.

Think of past bodybuilding legends like Frank Zane, Bob Paris and Steve Reeves.

frank zane posing

There are two categories (under and over 5’ 8”) and rather than budgie smugglers the competitors wear board shorts.

This is possibly the primary reason why so many people have been quick to turn their noses up at the category.

The shorts must be a certain distance from the knees, making it very difficult to show off the athletes’ legs.

More on that later.

However, although it was met with jokes and derision at first, Men’s Physique is becoming a respected division of the sport.

Pros and cons

friends don’t let friends skip leg day memeThe first thing I thought when I first came across this category was that it almost felt ‘trendy’.

With the rise in people who want the ‘fitness model’ look and a big rise in the popularity of ‘leanness’ over ‘mass’ it felt like pandering from the competitive side of the industry.

But actually I’m coming round to the idea of Men’s Physique.

The big joke is that the category is an excuse not to train legs, mainly because of the shorts.

This gave the competition no credibility at first but it has gained a lot of that back.

After all, friends don’t let friends skip leg day.

There is a perception of the athletes – and the category in general – being filled with gym bros and beachcomber stereotypes.

That is, guys who do endless curls, bench presses and ab work rather than getting down and dirty with heavy squats and deadlifts.

More ego, staring in the mirror and posting on Instagram, less heavy lifting and sweaty iron.

However you’ll probably find that these guys train just as hard as the mass monsters despite the way they look or the perception you have of them.

Fans will say it’s taking bodybuilding back to a golden age where symmetry and definition were more important than being freakishly big.

When Franco Columbu and Frank Zane took over from Arnold’s long reign it was seen as a coup, but one that was warranted, and people certainly saw the merits of their physiques.

It certainly shows off a more achievable look than that of the heavily enhanced competitors in the main competition these days.

Perhaps this will bring even more fans to the sport when they would have previously been turned off by the incomprehensible size of the Cutlers and Heaths of previous competitions.

Athlete’s perspective

As Men’s Physique is a new(ish) category it is perhaps a teething trouble, but it is a little confusing for a new athlete.

Competitors must find a sweet spot between musculature and size and leanness and conditioning.


Do you come in very lean and sacrifice some size?

Do you pack on a few extra pound of muscle and carry that onto the stage?

What is the right balance?

It’s not even as simple as deciding on a type as extreme muscularity can be marked down in some federations!

Who to look out for

Steve Cook

steve cook



He’ll be one of the biggest guys on the Men’s Physique stage coming in at a little over 200lbs.

My favourite to win the title, Cook is a man mountain.

Drawing his inspiration from Steve Reeves and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bloke has an almost annoyingly positive attitude and a great training ethos which really comes across on his YouTube channel.

Top lad.

Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson




This chap will step on stage at about 188lbs and will almost certainly come in shredded to the bone.

The comparison between him and Steve Cook, above, really shows how open to interpretation and how variable the Men’s Physique category will be.

Jason Poston

Jason Poston



Coming in at 190lbs, this guy has a killer physique no matter who you are, but when you consider he has Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, it really makes you start paying attention.

Regardless of where he places he should be a symbol of who you can achieve regardless of your situation.

Jeff Seid

Jeff Seid



A ripped up physique, boyish good looks, and he’s only 18 years old…

What a c*nt.

He gets a lot of hate on social media and is put down a lot but I suspect that’s from people who are just a little jealous (me included).

He probably won’t win as I think he lacks the experience of the other contenders, but expect big things in the future from this guy.


So, what’s my personal take on the new Men’s Physique category?

I’m a fan.

Perhaps as a huge Frank Zane (Zaniak?) fan that probably isn’t a huge shock but I do think it’s good for the sport.

I do know people find the main competition almost laughable at how alien some of the competitors are and this will certainly bring these guys back into the fold.

However, I do think it would help if the shorts could be shorter (no homo) so the ‘no legs’ myth could be busted and bring some more credibility to the category.

But the proof will be in the pudding.

We’ll have to see come competition time, who turns up and what they look like, then you can all judge for yourselves.

Have your say

So there is an overview and my opinion – but what do you guys think?

Is the Men’s Physique category just a pretty boy beauty pageant?

Or is it a legitimate return to a great period of aesthetics in bodybuilding?

Let us know in the comments bellow and, as always, keep lifting.

Get huge if you want, get ripped if you want!

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  1. The evolution of Men’s physiques and what each generation’s nirvana looks like is really quite interesting, if we look recently then there’s a couple of trends:

    At the beginning of the 21st century it was all about being lean and ripped like David Beckham or Brad Pitt in fight club.

    Nowadays we look at Daniel Craig in the bond film or Tom Hardy in Warrior or Batman, more about bulk but still maintaining certain levels of definition.

    With this pattern, The Men’s Physique class definitely has a place and I’ve no doubt that all of them will train legs, I mean, they are the cornerstone of a well rounded physique I just wish (in a completely non gay way) they’d wear shorter shorts, like marathon runners.

    I just fear for their safety at the Olympia weekend, imagine what would happen if one of them steps into Branch Warren’s mirror space while he’s oiling up, could be fatal.

  2. Ok firstly the whole shorts thing… I agree to a point.

    BUT to say these guys don’t train legs simply because they are wearing long shorts?

    That’s as stupid as saying you don’t train arms because you’re wearing a jumper!!?

    Do all of you have x-ray vision or something?

    Have any of you seen Jeff’s legs?

    They’re bloody enormous and well in proportion with his body.

    Look at Steve Cook!

    His legs are monstrous as well!

    The shorts are only for show, it’s the beach look, got nothing to do with hiding legs, maybe a bit shorter, yeah, but the thing that pisses me off is the fact guys like Phil Heath are basically looked up to and respected by everyone, yet a lot of the bigger guys don’t show the same respect to these guys!

    Not everyone wants to be the size of a house.

    These guys are bringing back aesthetics and perfect symmetry and it’s great !

    1. You’d be shocked by how many people I’ve heard make that shorts comment and mean it!

      I included it to be a little tongue-in-cheek and to be devil’s advocate, but yeah, some people do think that.

      Totally agree though, it’s bringing back a classic look.

    2. Even w/ board shorts you can tell these guys have terrible legs.

      If they had good legs they would compete in Classic Physique.

      Look, Physique guys are sissies, it is a simple as that.

      90% do not belong on stage, but as long as the NPC makes a fortune ($225 plus to compete)…

      Legs and real bodybuilding is hard.

      These guys do not have the grit of work ethic to be real bodybuilders.

      They are an embarrassment.

  3. Who the fuck is writing all this shit you say so much shit you fucking hater you are just bitched you retard stupid fucker you…

  4. Great article.

    Men’s Physique is evolving and really the bodybuilders who look down on the men’s physique category should be thankful because it has made bodybuilding relevant again.

    People see a realistic way they can get to their goals.

    It will be interesting to see if the shorts get “shorter” as this division evolves.

    I think it would be good to see some legs of the competitors because Steve Reeves definitely trais legs.

    One person you did not mention was Sadic Hadzovic.

    I think he will give Steve and others a run for their money.

    Guy has a freakish waistline and wide shoulders and lats.

    1. Dunno if Sadic has it in him just yet.

      He certainly has the aesthetics down but I think he lacks the size and musculature needed to win.

      But at the end of it all it comes down to the preference of the judges on this first time.

      I could well be eating my words!

  5. Jeff is 19 years old btw

  6. Personally, I think the “Men’s Physique” category is great idea, and to be honest, I’m surprised it took the IFBB this long.

    I mean, this category is considerably more marketable to the mainstream, and let’s face it, bodybuilding is nowhere near as popular as it once was.

  7. If you compete in beach shorts you deserve to be shot.

  8. I love this category.

    Now I am interested in bodybuilding.

  9. I still cannot find an concrete delineation between “bodybuilding” and “physique whatever”.

    Out of the 2 page IFBB document you link to which talks about board shorts, posing, hair and skin, etc, the only phrase that even begins to clear this up is “extreme muscularity should be marked down.”

    Lets be real, all these guys are “extremely muscular.”

    This is a distinction without a difference.

  10. I competed in bodybuilding in the early 1990s and loved the sport but felt it was dying.

    I competed in NJ which is/was a very competitive state.

    I fell out of the sport and got on with my life.

    Now at 45 years old I would love to compete again but, to be honest, I have no interest in “supplementing” as my health is way too important to me.

    I started to see Men’s Physique a few years back and thought it was a complete joke.

    WTF with the shorts?

    Now it has grown on me and I feel the look is far better then what most pro bodybuilders look like today.

    Look at the illnesses or deaths alone… Matt Duvall (an old friend), Mike Mattarzzo, Flex Wheeler, Dennis Newman, Nassir, and the list goes on and on…

    It seems that Men’s Physique and all the women’s categories has brought life to a dying, cult sport.

    I’m thinking of doing a show in the future and it will be Physique!