Early in 2016, Physique Canada made the bold decision to eliminate the discipline of men’s sport physique (aka as men’s physique in other organizations) from their competitions. That’s the category where men wear boardshorts, not posing trunks, and don’t do any formal poses. Instead, physiques are judged from the waist in four quarter-turn positions, and, depending on the organization, it’s also possible that they are also judged on how “confidently” they present themselves on the stage.

If that to you sounds more like a modeling contest than a sport, then you’ll understand why Physique Canada chose to eliminate it completely. You’ll also understand why it’s earned the nickname “men’s bikini,” since in women’s bikini, they, too, only do quarter turns and their facial expressions seem to count for a lot. Physique Canada’s goal is to build physique competitions into recognized sports, so men’s sport physique, which operates more like a beauty pageant for bodybuilding surfers with big grins on their faces, just didn’t fit.

Although the Physique Canada folks knew eliminating it was the right thing to do, they didn’t know what the overall outcome would be. They knew they might lose some of these competitors, but how many? Would some switch to bodybuilding? Would taking such drastic step when other organizations were content to keep it in their rosters have other negative consequences that hadn’t be considered? It was all up in the air at that point, because no one really knew.

But by the end of 2016, the outcome of the decision was very clear -- and was entirely positive. Any male competitors that the organization might’ve lost to other organizations was more than made up for by having more male bodybuilders on the stage than ever before. Some of these might have been competitors who decided to switch over to bodybuilding, but from what I could see, most looked brand new to Physique Canada. Furthermore, the overall quality of the men’s bodybuilding competitions at all three 2016 events -- the National Classic (June), Canadian Championships (July), and Coupe Progym (November) -- was not only higher than its ever been, it was higher than any other competition in Canada put on by any other drug-tested organization.  

To give you an example of the kind of quality on the Physique Canada stages last year, I’ll highlight a few examples. First and foremost was Winston Johnson, the Tier 1 Pro winner at both the National Classic and Canadian Championships -- he’s an amazing champion whose back-to-back Tier 1 Pro wins solidified him as one of the greatest Physique Canada champions to-date. Besides the photo below, there’s an image of him in the “Iron Shots” gallery this month.

Winston JohnsonWinston Johnson at the 2016 Canadian Championships

Then there was Frank Apuzzo, who has been competing in various organizations for years and who finally decided to compete in Physique Canada in 2016, knowing that the organization is serious about promoting bodybuilding. One of the real highlights this year was seeing Frank Apuzzo take second to Winston at the 2016 Canadian Championship, which was a big improvement, because Frank never made the top three at the 2016 National Classic. To highlight Frank’s great achievement at the Canadians, we featured him on our cover this month with a photo from that show, as well as in the photo below.

Frank ApuzzoFrank Apuzzo at the 2016 Canadian Championships

Finally, Olivier Martel, the 18-year-old phenom from the province of Québec. Couple Progym was just his first competition, yet he won the Junior (under 21), Tier 3 (novice), and Overall bodybuilding titles there. What a way to start a competitive career -- and at such a young age! Undoubtedly, we have to feature Olivier in our pages in the months to come. Men’s sport physique might’ve went by the wayside, but bodybuilding came back in a big, big way -- and with what you’ll read below, will continue to grow.

Olivier Martel2016 Coupe Progym Champion, Olivier Martel, with Coupe Progym's founder, Serge Moreau

Because the decision to eliminate sport physique had such a positive impact on men’s bodybuilding, that led to Physique Canada’s leaders to make yet another change this year that they hope will further benefit the sport: the elimination of the men’s athletic physique discipline, which is called classic physique in some other organizations.

Athletic/classic physique isn’t nearly as embarrassing and foolish as men’s sport physique is. The discipline is nothing more than men’s bodybuilding with the following twist: instead of dividing up the classes by weight (lightweight, heavyweight, etc.), competitors have to meet a certain criteria of height and weight. Basically, for a certain competitor’s height, there is a maximum weight he can be on the stage. (The formula for calculation was all in the Physique Canada rulebook, but the details of it aren’t important here.)

The concept of athletic/classic physique is good in non-drug-tested organizations, because it encourages those people wiling to take a massive amount of performance-enhancing drugs (such as steroids and growth hormone) to stop doing so, because they’ll weigh too much and not be able to compete at all. That’s because if you’re over the weight limit for you height, your out completely. These days, that’s a good thing, because the body weights of some of the drugged-up competitors have become so high it’s ridiculous, solely because of the amounts of drugs they’re willing to ingest. To understand how silly the drugged contests have become, consider this: in 1975, Arnold Schwarzenegger weighed about 225 pounds when he won the Mr. Olympia contest that year, which many consider his best showing. Arnold was 6’ 2” tall in his prime. These days, you can find competitors 5’ 2” who weigh as much or more than Arnold did. As a result, Arnold would have to be about 300 pounds today to match what others are doing. Ridiculous, if you ask me -- and many others.

Winston being weighedWinston being weighed at the 2016 National Classic

However, men’s athletic physique doesn’t make nearly as much sense in a truly drug-tested physique organization, which Physique Canada is. That’s because the testing does a great job of keeping the drugs out, in turn keeping the competitive stage fairer, the competitors healthier, and the body weights down to a realistic level. For example, at the 2016 Canadian Championships, Winston Johnson, who is 5’ 8” tall, weighed just 168 pounds. I know because he was weighed on the stage, in front of the audience (and me), just to show them how much a truly drug-free competitor weighs. Furthermore, because the body weights aren’t allowed to skyrocket to crazy levels, everyone at Physique Canada noticed that, in the past, most of the male competitors who were competing in athletic physique were also competing in bodybuilding. So why have two disciplines where most of the competitors are the same?

Therefore, from now on, for men, there’s only bodybuilding at Physique Canada. That means the organization can focus on the sport even more, which should result in even bigger and more exciting competitions than they’ve had previously, with even great exposure for the athletes than ever before. Drug-free bodybuilding at Physique Canada just keeps getting better and better year after year!

Doug Schneider
SeriousAboutMuscle.com Founder and Publisher