Seven-time Mr. Olympia champion Arnold Schwarzenegger and Open bodybuilding competitor Cedric McMillan provided commentary during the judging of the Classic Physique division at the 2021 Arnold Classic on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Columbus, OH. They discussed the “beauty” of the Classic Physique division, with Schwarzenegger offering the analog “it is like watching statues” due to the competitors’ comparable aesthetics to carved marble.
Schwarzenegger suggested to McMillan that more resources and financial support (e.g. sponsorships and prize purses) should be invested into Classic Physique to make it as big as the Open division:
This is the direction we have to go. We have to really build this part of the bodybuilding world so it is equal to the Open competition.
Listen to Schwarzenegger and McMillan’s entire conversation in the video below, courtesy of Fitness Volt‘s YouTube channel:
McMillan is one of the sport’s most popular Open division bodybuilders. However, he admitted to Schwarzenegger — his co-host for the night alongside bodybuilders Dennis James and Amanda Kuclo — that when he started competing, the physiques seen in the Classic Physique division are what he aspired to:
I’m acutally a little bit jealous because I wanted to have this look; I wanted to have these routines.
That high-quality posing and visual appeal of the Classic Physique division — which debuted in 2016 — is not the only draw for Schwarzenegger and McMillan. The former Governor of California also says the Classic Physique division offers a presumably healthier and more sustainable lifestyle compared to Men’s Open. The requirement for sheer size is less necessary in Classic Physique — which has weight limits tied to specific height classes — than Open bodybuilding to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
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McMillan said, “they don’t have to worry about being massive, they just make sure that they make their body beautiful.” Schwarzenegger touched on what he perceives to be a need for Open bodybuilders have for additional substances to obtain the mass required to be competitive:
Let’s not forget, they don’t have to take all of this stuff…to be bigger. This is where the danger is.
Schwarzenegger went on to compare the relatively high death rate of Open bodybuilders to mixed martial arts (MMA). He says in the past decade, four MMA fighters have died compared to 14 bodybuilders who passed in the same time period (he did not mention names for either sport).) Presumably, he meant the deaths were connected to their respective sports.*
Since 2017, deaths** in the Bodybuilding community include Dallas McCarver (age 26) Luke Sandoe (age 30), Aleksandar Srdoc (age 35), Alena Hatvani (age 46), Rich Piana (age 46) John Meadows (age 49), Andy Haman (age 54), Jusup Wilkosz (age 71), Ric Drasin (age 74), Franco Columbu (age 78), and Chet Yorton (age 81).
*Editor’s Note: These claims are not verified and should not be taken as fact.
**Note: these deaths were not necessarily linked to the use of any particular substance(s).
It shows you how dangerous it is to take some of those medications and substances. I think…[Classic Physique]…is where the action is.
Classic Physique is the division that rewards physiques akin to those of “the old days of bodybuilding,” similar to what Schwarzenegger’s physique looked like when he won seven Mr. Olympia titles in the 1970s and his last in 1980. Schwarzenegger called out Logan Franklin and Terrence Ruffin as the standout individual posing routines at the 2021 Arnold Classic. McMillan and Schwarzenegger expressed their appreciation for the vacuum pose, which is when a competitor sucks in their abdominals, in particular.
Although Schwarzenegger and McMillan are interested in Classic Physique reaching the notoriety that Open bodybuilding currently covets, McMillan still appreciates that “every body type has a place to go. There’s a place for the massive guys; there’s a place for the more aesthetic guys.”
On To the 2021 Olympia
The 2021 Olympia is scheduled for Oct. 7-10, 2021, in Orlando, FL. The pro divisions will compete on Oct. 8-9, 2021, and the prize purse will total $1.6 million dollars (how that purse will be divided up for each division has yet to be announced). Chris Bumstead is slated to return to attempt a three-peat in the Classic Physique division.
Mamdouh “Big Ramy Elssbiay will return to defend his Mr. Olympia title. Seven-time Mr. Olympia champion Phil Heath will not compete at the 2021 Olympia after placing third in 2020 behind 2019 Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry, who ranked second. Nick Walker will make his Mr. Olympia debut at the 2021 contest and has momentum from his recent wins at the 2021 Arnold Classic and 2021 NY Pro. Hunter Labrada, Iain Valliere, Akim Williams, and Roelly Winklaar are also on the roster for 2021.
For Ms. Olympia, the defending 2020 champion Andrea Shaw recently won the 2021 Rising Phoenix contest and will be the bodybuilder to beat in Orlando. Helle Trevino is the likeliest competitor to challenge for the crown as she won the Rising Phoenix contest in 2017 and 2018, and finished as the runner-up to Shaw in 2021. We’ll see which bodybuilders peak at the ideal moment to clinch the Sandow trophy.
Featured image: @cedricmcmillan on Instagram