Attn. All Men’s Physique Competitors for 2020
By Christian Duque
On Wednesday, November 20th, NPC Vice President Tyler Manion published a very important message on his
Official Instagram, which reads as follows:
"Men's Physique Athletes,
We've been noticing a trend where many of are starting to look out of proportion to your torso, as your
arms and shoulders are getting way too big. Men's Physique is not all about size, especially in the arms
and shoulders. You will be marked down for excessive size starting in 2020.
Add on: you need to make sure your arms/shoulders are proportional to YOUR body.
Some may require a bigger, and some may need smaller."
This is a very important notice that affects both pro and amateur competitors in the NPC (USA), NPC Worldwide, and the
IFBB Pro League. I applaud Tyler for his decision to release the directive on an IG story, as opposed to doing so via web link
or email. This minor detail, to some, actually shows the world that our leadership has its finger on the pulse of the
bodybuilding community and knows exactly how to relay important information in a timely and effective manner. This story has
certainly made the rounds and it has people talking. You couldn't ask for a better outcome.
The directive addresses an issue that's long affected MPD, but has spiked as of recently. If you go to just about any local,
regional, and/or national level NPC contest, Men's Physique is always one of the most popular divisions. Its Pros get a lion's
share of the work for supplement companies, fitness magazines, and acting roles. Some of the hippest, most expensive
clothing lines seem to only work with Men's Physique competitors. A+nd I don't mean gym shorts and string tank tops, rather,
club clothes, casual wear, and even formal suits and tuxedos. This is the perfect division for budding actors, fitness models,
and corporate executives. The division has been described as one that promotes a look that's a couple notches more
advanced than the fit, beach look. it's a look that undeniably requires hard work in the gym, sound diet, and sensible
supplementation, but that's attainable by the everyday man. That last part might as well be the division's calling card; it's a
big part of why so many people decide to compete.
As more and more people have joined the ranks, however, some have either entered the wrong division or insist upon
making MPD into something that it's not. There's also a very real danger when competitors listen to anyone more than judges
and officials when it comes to rules and criteria for each division. Anyone who says "they know what the judges really want,"
generally doesn't know if they're on foot or horseback.
One aspect where the disconnect has become a real problem is size. As Tyler pointed out, many Men's Physique competitors'
arms and shoulders are out of proportion. When you start seeing MPD guys with 20+" arms on stage, cannonball delts, wide
backs and increased muscle density, what you're witnessing is the hijacking of a division, especially when that's all the judges
have to work with at smaller shows.
MPD competitors may not want to hear this, but there's three divisions for men, and these are Bodybuilding, Classic Physique
(not Classic Bodybuilding), and Men's Physique. Bodybuilding is the biggest in mass, followed by Classic, and then Men's
Physique. Bodybuilding is the hardest, followed by Classic, and then Men's Physique. Bodybuilding is the most vascular,
followed by Classic, and then Men's Physique. Men's Physique is not bodybuilding, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Therefore, MPD competitors shouldn't aspire for bodybuilding size or condition.
In fact, MPD competitors should also not stand-relaxed as bodybuilders would. Why even risk the confusion? If and when
MPD is given the opportunity for a posedown, that's more discretionary, but again, why pose like bodybuilders, even there?
Not only does it look a little silly, but if MPD competitors can nail these poses perfectly, many will wonder why they're in MPD
and not with the big boys in bodybuilding.
That being said, who doesn't want to look like a freak? I've been writing about physique-based sports for the better part of a
decade. I totally get it. Posing provides for, at least, the illusion of freakiness. The beauty of posing, is that competitors can
create just about any illusion they want; they can also use good posing to hide any weaknesses in their physique. I can think of
no better example where presentation is key, than Men's Physique. Seeing as this division has extremely limited stage time,
only two mandatory poses, and such a high turnout of competitors, it's absolutely imperative MPD competitors pose correctly,
to ensure the greatest level of success. This is also a major reason why some parts of the country, like the NPC Mid Atlantic
Zone, offer so many Free NPC Seminars.
Again, coaches know diet, training, and supplementation, but I can't urge competitors enough to get out to an NPC Seminar,
at least once, each season. As Gary Udit would say, "you've worked too hard for this," so you want to make sure you're
well-versed on the rules and you do everything possible to show the judges the physique you've created. As Gary would also
say, speaking for the judges to the competitors, "help us pick you."
With that being said, competitors may still be led astray, whether by harmless error or because of bad advice.
I believe coaches, in particular, should take note of Tyler's directive. Ultimately, competitors listen to their coaches above
and beyond all others. There is a very strong level of commitment and trust at play and it's very important that clients go into a
contest with the greatest chances of success. Coaches who second-guess judges' feedback and/or ignore directives from
the NPC / IFBB Pro League leadership, are not doing right by their clients. The fact is, Tyler is our Vice President and will one
day lead us. When he speaks, every word is important. Every word should be adhered to. Beyond that, any second-guessing or
reading more into what he's saying, by coaches, could also be a disservice to their clients.
For example, if coaches stop their MPD clients from getting too big, but bring them in dryer and harder than what the division's
criteria calls for, then that, too, will create an undesirable effect. Extremes, in general, should be avoided with this division.
Extreme hardness isn't any better than extreme size. The best course of action is to go only by what Tyler wrote. End of story.
Moreover, judges, like competitors and coaches, should adhere to Tyler's directive, as best as possible, as well. The problem
at the local level, is that judges can only judge what's before them. It may take some time, at first, to counteract the trend in
question, at the local and regional levels, but rest assured it will be a lot swifter at the national amateur levels and on IFBB Pro
Tyler's announcement also comes with perfect timing, as it doesn't affect the remaining contests in 2019 and gives folks plenty
of time to make adjustments for the 2020 contest season.