Muscular Development Magazine Review – May 2016

Haven’t done one of these in a few months – but how could I resist with Labrada on the cover!

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In recognition of the emerging IFBB Classic Division, this month’s MD focuses on the emergence of the new IFBB Classic Pro Physique division and Blechman has boldly dedicated this month’s cover featuring one of the all time classic greats, Lee Labrada. (Or as my autocorrect automatically defers to – Lee Labrador.) 

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This to me is what bodybuilding looks like! The long talked about institution of a Classic Pro Division is a move that I believe bodes well for not only attracting new blood into the sport, but still allows many of the industry’s former big names like Hester and MacQuay to continue competing.

These pics of Danny Hester taken 20 years apart clearly demonstrates the staying power of the Classic Physique

It also enables bodybuilding to operate under a much more aesthetic, media friendly, publicly acceptable and physically safe umbrella of competition. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle as far as the current pro division is concerned – at the end of the day, people pay to see the freaks – but this is a long needed return to sanity.


From fit to shit – Maybe an evolutionary reversal can finally occur with the new Classic Division

The Pro-Panel is short one of its regular members this month in Dorian Yates, but the question being “posed” refers to the reinstitution of the posing round being scored at the Arnold Classic. 

Shawn Ray says that although the reinstitution of the scoring the posing round is a fine gesture, historically it counted for little when it came to the actual scoring cards, with the  (preselected) overall winner usually taking out straight firsts in posing despite obvious better candidates. He laments the state of modern day physique presentation, labelling it an embarrassment and signals the lack of artistry and professionalism that exists at the highest levels of the sport today.

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Master poser

Kevin echoes these sentiments adding that the posing routines trademarks the individual in a way, and presents the audience with an element of excitement in what is otherwise in reality a boring sport. The athlete has the opportunity to showcase their personality and hopfeully influence the judges to rate them higher by virtue of an outstanding routine and audience response. 

kevin levrone

Brutal Classic Mass

It’s sad to lament the gradual phasing out of magazines. For many of us older guys, it was the only resource to draw us into the sport. We can all remember our first contact with a particular cover or magazine that caught our attention to want to explore more about this strange endeavour. For Pearl it was seeing John Grimek in 1944 on the cover of Strength an Health. For Cutler it was seeing Dickerson on the cover of Flex in the summer of 1985. For me, it was this one back in 1993.

Lee Priest MM

McGough recounts an interesting story about Casey Viator who just before passing away in 2013 recounted online how he met a young 18 year old Dorian Yates who was joining Mike Mentzer in the gym for a workout and had very little muscle at the time. Casey spoke to Dorian about his tattoos and warned him that he might be marked down for them by future judges – the problem is that Yates never went to the States until 1990 and never met Casey at all! 

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Let’s take HIT inventory shall we:

  • Arthur Jones was a gun wielding lunatic
  • Mentzer was an amphetamine abusing, Ayn Rand quoting paranoid schizo who drank his own piss.
  • Viator imagined encounters with people that never happened.
  • Dorian Yates is a holocaust denier who now views the universe and everything in at the subatomic level.

Ahhh these HIT guys! Mad as fucking hatters they are.

Chicherllo foreshadows what might be the seemingly inevitable end of MD soon citing rising costs effectively prohibiting the viability of modern day magazine publshing. He says that MD will continue under whatever format it decides on in the future because content is ultimately king, and MD are focussing on increasing that dedication to coverage. Still, would be a shame if the mags all die out.

MD 1964

The halcyon days of MD magazine soon to be ended?

Training Research

Is training to failure necessary? The age old question isn’t it. I think the answer is obvious, but a Brazillian review of the literature “concluded that the benefits of failure training depended on weight-training experience. In untrained people, high-intensity weight training to failure is not necessary to maximize muscle size and strength. However, they benefit from low-intensity training to failure. Trained athletes increase strength best with high-intensity resistance training to failure, but they don’t benefit as much from low-intensity training to failure. (Frontiers in Physiology, published online January 29, 2016)”

The Journal of Applied Physiology, published online February 4, 2016, found that HIIT exercises performed for “two weeks improved mitochondrial function and lung function. Exercise consisted of six sessions of eight to 12 repetitions of 60 seconds at maximum intensity, on a stationary bike.”

45 minutes of aerobic exercises, 7 sets of weight training “decreased liver fat and improved body composition and the liver enzyme profile in middle-aged adults with fatty liver disease.” compared to either weight training or aerobics alone. Hepatitis Monthly, 15(10): e31434, 2015)

 Roughly 95% of people who diet gain all the weight back and then some. However, those who retain more muscle while dieting tend to have an easier time keeping the weight off, after the diet ends. (Obesity, 24: 321-327, 2016)

 Food related cues such as smells and sounds were found to promote eating. A meta analysis of 10,000 articles showed that food related stimuli were enough to tip people off to make poor decisions regarding food choices. (Obesity Reviews, 17: 159-177, 2016)

Appetite and satiety and the risk of obesity have a strong genetic component so some people are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to self-control – (American Journal Clinical Nutrition, 103: 314-322, 2016)

Cultural variation of eating patterns tends to influence obesity. Italians eat the bulk of their calories at midday while the British eat there’s a night. Italians have a 7% obesity rate compared to the British rate of over 20%. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 75: E12, 2016)

 The USA spends double its budges on health care compared to most first world countries yet is 34th in terms of life expectancy. Researchers think that olive oil consumption might be the key to their longer lives. Olive oil works by stabilizing genes, protecting cell telomeres (prevents DNA breakdown), preserving metabolic control and protecting stem cells. (Molecules, 21: 163, 2016)

Chinese researchers showed no link between poultry consumption and prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, and the second most common cancer-related cause of death (lung cancer is first). 

Tanning bed use increased the risk of melanoma by as much as 900 percent compared to control subjects. Women who tanned frequently and began tanning at a young age were at greatest risk of the disease. (JAMA Dermatology, published online January 27, 2016)

 Moderate fish consumption reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease but increases mercury levels in the brain. Consumption of fish oil supplements was not related to improved brain function. 

“Mercury is linked to neurological abnormalities, damage to brain centers controlling movement, seizures and developmental and mental retardation. It also impairs the reproductive system in men, and decreases blood testosterone and sperm production. Mercury poisoning is a major public health issue in populations that eat a lot of fish, such as the Inuits in Northern Canada. High mercury levels can injure the kidneys, brain and lungs. Mercury accumulates in large fish such as tuna, so eating large quantities can cause health problems.” (Journal American Medical Association, 315: 489-497, 2016)

Dr Dan Gwartney discusses the crapshoot that using the chemical poison, DNP is for weight loss. The margin of error when using this drug is so small, and the tolerable dose so individualistic, it’s literally a game of Russian Roulette in trying to employ this substance effectively. Originally used as a weight loss drug back in the 1930’s it was responsible for causing heat stroke, and severe damage to the muscles, liver, kidney and heart and was banned by the FDA for fat-loss  use in 1938.


DNP – best left alone

 Women receiving low doses of test found that it didn’t affect their voice – it’s only when the administered doses were high and used for long periods of time did their voices deepen. Climacteric, 9: 1-6, 2016)

Classic Pro Physique competitor Victor Frisk MD lists his top 10 supplements which is a fairly standard list with no real surprises except for HMB which is infamous for its effect for doing absolutely nada.

  1. whey protein
  2. HMB 
  3. D3
  4. Fish Oil
  5. Melatonin
  6. Caffeine
  7. Creatine
  8. Citrulline
  9. Beta Alanine
  10. Prebiotic-probiotics

MD’ Senior Science editor, Mike Rudolph PhD. reports that “resistance training in a hypoxic environment at high altitude unambiguously fuels improvements in muscle growth and strength through a variety of powerful molecular and cellular mechanisms, including the greater activation of fast-twitch muscle and an increase in the anabolic hormones GH and testosterone. This form of resistance training also appears to distinctively boost muscular endurance, increasing the capacity for greater training volume— further contributing to the muscle-building effect of weight training in low-oxygen environments.”

heath run

Training at altitude best for muscle growth?

Schoenfeld, who normally writes a good column, takes a swing and a miss this month on an article of whether you can target your lower abs through training. In short, yes you can, but who fucking cares? Unless your diet is on point and your effectively shedding fat, no amount of ab work is gonna make those babies shine through. Most bodybuilders DON’T even do any ab work these days.


Pete McGough – that perennial walking encycolopedia of bodybuilding history interviews the 55 year old Lee Labrada  – Lee retired in 1995 at the relatively young age of 35 when today most guys are just hitting their competitive stride. He could see that the writing was on the wall for physiques like his, so he welcomes the new Classic Division for it’s potential to attract a new audience to bodybuilding. He doesn’t see it as bodybuilding turning the hands of time back, but rather, moving forward in a new area that will revitalise public interest. 

lee labrada first cover

Lee’s first cover back in 1986

ARNOLD is interviewed on his thoughts on modern day bodybuilding – and there is no man on the planet more obsessed with the vacuum pose than the former governator. He must mention it a million times in this interview – kind of apropros considering he had some of the lousiest abs in bodybuilding at the time. Arnold was the master of twisting, concealing and sucking in of those babies because he knew it, too.

His comments on the posing round were quite interesting however:

Again, when I was speaking with judges about what they were looking for, one said, “Remember that we have gotten rid of the posing category many years ago.” I said, “Wait a minute, why did we get rid of the posing?” and he replied, “Well, the bodybuilders didn’t like it.” I said, “Why do I give a fuck about what the bodybuilders like? It’s like going to a gymnastics event and saying, hey, do you gymnasts like the rings? If you don’t, we’ll cut it out. How stupid is that?


Posing was an art form in the Arnold era.

Dallas McCarver talks about his new approach to training and diet under the watchful eye of Matt Jansen. Dallas stresses the most important factor is the emphasis on health and underscores that when the body system is running at peak efficiency, everything else falls into place much easier.

Quoting his coach Matt Jansen:

“But another thing that really grinds my gears is this idea of “flipping the switch” once prep starts. You see it on social media posts all the time. They put too much emphasis on the prep itself, and not enough on the progress they should be making in between prep phases, in the off-season when you can and should be improving. There’s a lack of focus for them in the off-season. For whatever reason, guys and girls don’t train hard, and they aren’t consistent with good nutrition. Then all of a sudden, they post these statuses about how they flipped the switch, and now they’re going to get serious. I think that’s where Dallas and I really separate ourselves. With us, the switch is never turned off. There might be different phases and different goals that we have throughout the year, but whenever we go to the gym, the purpose is to work. It’s not to go through the motions or do things halfheartedly. I think that really makes a difference, and it’s why Dallas is progressing the way that he is.”

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With the classic looking physique always being the popular ideal – where did shit go awry. Haney had the narrow waist and wide clavicles and could pull a vacuum, so the fingers point at Dorian – however, Dorian didn’t have a blocky shape, protruding gut and it could be argued he simply took size and conditioning to another level. His contemporaries like Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone, Milos Sarcev and Chris Cormier all had that Classic look to them also. 

It wasn’t until Ronnie took things to another level and guys like Marcus Ruhl and Paco Bautista did the wheels fall of the wagon. This filtered largely down to the amateur ranks as Ron Harris puts it.

“Many amateurs went haywire with overeating as well as heavy abuse of GH, insulin and SEOs like synthol. We began to see droves of men who looked like they all rolled off the
same shoddy assembly line: bald, with gyno, raging acne, huge distended bellies, and lumpy delts and arms shot to shit with oil. It seemed like the beauty had been driven out of the sport of bodybuilding, supplanted by an era of enormous but ugly beasts. Purists and fans who had followed the sport in the past turned away in disgust.

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Ron took shit to a whole other universe.

Ron Harris cites some of the physiques which are emulating that Classic look in the pro ranks today including Cedric McMillan, Shawn Rhoden, Dexter Jackson, Dallas McCarver and the X-Frame of Dennis Wolf.

The new IFBB Classic Physique division seems like a return to sanity offering lighter competitors the chance to return to the sport without the risks associated with playing the Mass Monster game. 

I espiecially like the weights set for this division compared to where they currently stand. A 5’8 guy can be around 190lbs – which is a lot better than the 145lbs I had to try to get down to for the Arnold’s at much the same height. 

For example, the Kuwaiti winner of the Arnold Australia Classic division this year had to be physically helped to the scale for weigh ins because he had obviously killed himself to get to the insanely low cut-off point required at the moment. 

There was no way I was going to drop 4kg in time for the weigh in and abandoned competing in that division. If they don’t want to eliminate a bunch of guys with heavier structures and decent amounts of classic mass from competing in this promising division, the state and national divisions are going to have to make the necessary amendments to the ridiculous weight/height cut-offs for the class.

Harris goes on to select his pick for the frontrunners in the Classic Physique Pro division which turns out to be a very prescient selection considering 46 year old Hester hadn’t won the division at the time of this magazine going to print. 

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All of these guys are deep into their 40’s and above – good things, sometimes take time.

Dr Dan Gwartney compares anabolic use of the Classic era to today’s bodybuilders citing that cycling was more par for the course back then compared to the year round cycles employed now. More orals were used back then due to availability but again, were only used for short periods of 8-12 weeks pre-contest generally. 

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Nice to see Dan Gwartney still competing as he was a writer I remember well from the early 90s of the Muscle Media era – at 50 he still looks awesome and so does his 49 year old wife. 

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In another article focussing on Nandrolone, aka Deca, Dan discusses why it’s such a dick killer in many guys. In rats, it seems to damage different cell types, including the Leydig cells which are the source of natural test. The damage can be permanent making it distinctly different from testosterone use which usually has the user bouncing back fairly quickly post cycle.

The MD Senior Science Editor looks at sit-ups for abs – Another sad fact of exercise induced ignorance around the world is people still believing that situps (should be called SHIT-Ups) build core strength and lead to the attainment of the coveted 6 pack. In reality:

“the scientific evidence clearly shows that alternate training methods such as the power wheel roll-out and hanging knee-raise, along with the deadlift, generate superior activation of the primary muscle groups within the core. The greater ability of these different training modalities to activate core muscle groups promotes a superior training adaptation that more potently enhances core development and strength, ultimately leading to improved performance in the weight room and that highly sought-after six-pack.”

TLDR version – sit-ups are shit. Do ab wheel rollouts, deadlifts and hanging knee raises for developing core strength.


serge nubret

On the other hand you had guys like Serge and Zabo who were famous for their marathon ab sessions

Will LLEWELLYN writes about the mess that is the steroid black market saying that Welsh Emerging Drugs and Identification of Novel Substances. (WEDINOS) tests conducted a year and a half ago on various steroids on the market showed that 1 of every 3 had no actual substance or was different to what was on the label. 

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The price list obtained from a Chinese supplier commonly shows the disparity in spread among the various items per kg. So basically it costs 50 times the amount of testosterone to get your hands on a kg of Halotestin. You can probably bet dollars to donuts that the HALO you just bought, AINT fuckin’ HALO!

Primobolan, Anavar and Parabolin also look to be at the more expensive end of the spectrum meaning its probably often faked. This could have dire consequences for women who generally use Primo and Anavar as their sole drugs of choice when contest prepping. Replace them with some test prop or some Anadrol and they’re fuuuuuucked.

In Bill’s words “Perhaps it is a better idea to stick to the basics (testosterone, nandrolone, boldenone, methandrostenolone, stanozolol) when you are unsure of your supply. These tend to be less expensive, after all, and perhaps are less likely the subject of drug substitution.”

Does test prop cause less water retention than other esters? Not really. It’s hair splitting Llewellyn thinks. Prop tends to be lower overall in concentration and shorter acting, but lower water retention can’t be attributed to the ester itself.

Kai states how he was a big fan of Dorian’s before turning pro and it was a dream to be one day trained by the man himself. 

“As for the workout itself, merely listing the exercises or attempt- ing to describe it would not do it proper justice. There were so many subtle nuances as to how Dorian set up each set, and observations and tips he made on my execution of the exercises.”


Haney talks posing:

“The song I used the most was “O Fortuna,” the theme from the movie “Excalibur,” about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The music was majestic and powerful, because that’s how I saw my physique. I still recall the roar of the crowd and the way they were mesmerized as I performed it for the final time in 1991.

I was fortunate enough to see some of the very best posers in the business perform routines that electrified audiences and brought a theatrical, emotional experience to the audience. Tom Platz used to pose to “Ride Like the Wind,” and the crowd would almost tear the roof off with cheering. Frank Zane used to do an amazing routine to Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” with all the unique classic poses he had perfected. Mike Katz posed power- fully to the James Bond movie theme “For Your Eyes Only,” and after James Gaubert’s routine to “New York, New York” at the IFBB World Championships in 1982, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. When you combine a great physique with a great presentation, you transcend sport and create a true thing of beauty, a work of art. That’s why it upsets me to see some guys at the Mr. Olympia come out and do nothing but walk back and forth across the stage and hit the same four or five poses over and over again, putting their hands up to their ears and demanding applause.”


Dorian challenges Mentzer’s claims that there’s no point in doing different exercises for body parts since Mentzer felt that t since the muscle had only one point of origin and insertion, all of its fibers should fire, regardless of the exercise.”

Yates cites the book Muscle Meets Magnet by Per Tesch which showed MRI testing related to exercises and their effect on muscles demonstrated this to be untrue.

muscle meets magnet.jpg

Pretty revolutionary book in its day

There were theories in the early 90s from the HIT crowd that believed that inclines didn’t target the upper chest and you didn’t need more than one or two leg exercises, but Dorian says the incline always hit his upper chest effectively and the leg press and hack squat did more for his quads than other exercises. 

Dorian suggests structuring a good back workout that avoids overlap and potential overtraining 

 “Typically, I would choose a pullover machine to pre-exhaust the lats, one row- ing movement, one vertical pulling move- ment such as a close-grip lat pulldown or Hammer Strength Iso pulldown, and deadlifts. Barbell and dumbbell rows are both excellent exercises for the back, so I suggest alternating them from workout to workout.”

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Dexter is all about training smart rather than hard which he credits for his longevity in the game

“look at someone like Dorian Yates, who probably could have had a longer career in the sport if he hadn’t racked up all those injuries and muscle tears. You know how you hear that saying, “go heavy or go home”? That’s a really stupid attitude. Guys who ignore warning signs and keep train- ing heavy always end up getting hurt. Guess what? Then they have to go home and stay home, because they’re too jacked-up to train anymore! I’ve had little tweaks here and there over the years. When I do, I never try to train through the pain. Instead, I take a break and come back to the gym or back to that body part only when I feel the little issue is resolved. Train smart, and you’ll last a whole lot longer.”

Arnold (or his ghost writer) recounts some of his earlier roles before he became the superstar actor.

He played Rico the masseur to Lucille Ball in 1974, but my fave is his role of Josef Schmidt in “The Streets of San Francisco”

The synopsis is as follows  – Plot: Arnold portrays a champion bodybuilder who is extremely hypersensitive to criticism, and has no control over his anger (this was over
a decade before the term ‘roid rage entered the common lexicon). When he shows off his poses for a young woman who laughs in response, he becomes enraged and unwittingly chokes her to death. Robby Robinson appears briefly in a gym scene,
and Franco Columbu appears in a bodybuilding contest where Arnold finishes second— to Franco!”

Arnold terminates a bitch in one of his first TV acting roles…

Arnold meets Lucy

Jay Cutler is all about pre exhausting body parts to avoid injury and achieve a better all round pump – especially on quads and shoulders. 

Despite the negative media portrayal of steroids, the overwhelming demographic of users as found by the Mayo Clinic in 2005 and again in 2015 was that  the typical subject to still be a white male over 25 years old with an above-average educational level and income in a white-collar occupation. In 2015, the Mayo Clinic researchers found the typical subject to still be a white male over 25 years old with an above-average educational level and income. 

Steroid users as a demographic tend to have lower crime and felony rates compared to the stats of the general public. Dedication to the gym and structure associated with steroid use tends to keep its users on the straight and narrow, probably because the food and gyms in prison are pretty shit.

prison workouts

Better get inventive if you’re planning a long term prison strength training program.

Yates and Charles Glass are in agreement that the best gym equipment was made in the 80s and 90s and the stuff stocked by these chain-store gyms these days is crap by comparison. Glass recommends using free weights for 90% of your work anyway.

How much test to use if you’re an aspiring competitive bodybuilder? IFBB Pro Fakhri Mubarak thinks that 750mg-15000mg is best to keep sides to a minimum and maximise results.

In his column, George Farah opines to a “reader’s question” that athletes choosing to change trainers is just business, but the butthurt is apparent in his closing paragraph. 

“As far as some coaches talking crap about others, all I can say is that it’s sad because we are a very small group of people and we know one another on a first-name basis— and it’s a shame that some grown adults act like ignorant kids. One more thing to tell them: always keep in mind that what goes around comes around, period.”

Hahaha. Pot. Kettle. Black. Guess the sting of losing his number one future prospect in Big Ramy to King Aceto must carry with it a certain amount of bite. 

Till next month!


  2 comments for “Muscular Development Magazine Review – May 2016

  1. July 14, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Hey, you used to write fantastic, but the last several posts have been kinda boring¡K I miss your super writings. Past few posts are just a bit out of track! come on!


    • July 14, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      haha, thanks for the feedback. Let me know what kind of articles you want to see and I’ll do my best! Thanks!


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