haney

Two Keys to a Balanced, Pleasing Physique

Lee Haney’s opinion on what is lacking in bodybuilding today.

QUESTION
What do you think is lacking in the sport of bodybuilding today?

ANSWER
There’s a passage of scripture in the Bible (Proverbs 22:28) that says: “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.”

We can relate this proverb to bodybuilding: The “landmarks” are the criteria the bodybuilders and founders of our sport said our physiques should look like—specifically that, first and foremost, the physique had to be pleasing, with a foundation of balance and symmetry that includes having a nice waist and shoulder taper.

The problem is, we’ve come to a place where that’s no longer the criteria, and in many ways this has gotten the beauty and art of bodybuilding off course. As a result, fans and other members of the bodybuilding community have cried out—people want to see the classic physiques again.

So how do we get back there to a place of rediscovery? I think there are two ways:

1. SMALL MEALS
Nutrition has to be intentional. In my opinion, the classic physique is achieved by eating small quantities of food on a frequent basis during the day. And eating the right types of food—foods that digest fast and get to the muscles and provide growth without lying around in the gut for long periods of time, which causes the gut to protrude.

During my era, bodybuilders ate mostly chicken, fish, eggs, and beans. Today you have a lot of athletes eating steak. There’s a lot of beef in the diet. And my personal opinion on beef is this: If you eat a cow, you’re going to look like one! Red meat takes a long time to digest, up to 48 hours; it hangs out for a long time and stretches the abdominal area, which I believe causes that protruding gut.

So again, smaller meals have to be looked at. You have to be intentional with your nutrition to keep your waist nice and tapered.

2. QUALITY TRAINING
The other thing that has to be intentional is your training. Everyone knows that in order to put on more muscle size, for the most part you have to use a heavier weight. But there has to be a happy medium there. You can’t just train for mass and not take care of quality at the same time. There has to be the right balance between exercises to develop mass and size and ones that create more shape and detail in the muscles.

Let’s use biceps as an example. Heavy barbell curls should still be done for size. Preacher curls should also be done to promote growth but also quality. Then do concentration curls to finish up and work on the peak of the biceps. You can’t just go in and do heavy barbell or dumbbell curls and that’s all. If you’re trying to develop a quality physique, you have to be mindful of using several different types of exercises that all have a different effect on the physique.

A lot of bodybuilders in today’s era focus only on mass movements, and you can tell. When the training combines different exercises, you see more cross striations, particularly in the pecs, delts, triceps, and quads. You see a more finished type of physique. Mass and quality have to be combined together.

I’m happy to say, however, that the classic physique is making its way back.

I think guys like Phil Health, Shawn Rhoden, Dexter Jackson, and Cedric McMillan are keeping it in check. There are a lot of great quality physiques right now that possess the classic characteristics, and the judges have taken notice.

We’re getting back to those “ancient landmarks” again!