The Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition occurred this past weekend. I’m not a huge fan of the bodybuilding competitions, male or female, since it has changed so much than the “glory days” in the ’60s and ’70s, yet there are still some interesting categories that include competitors that we can learn from.
I’ve posted some videos of Kai Greene on the site before (including mentioning him in “Contraction vs. Moving Weight” and “Bodybuilding, Fact or Fiction?“). Despite his best efforts, he only placed second at the Olympia underneath Phil Heath.
If you follow this site, you know I’m a fan of Erin Stern (I’ve written about her in posts such as “Hahd Werk“, “The Enemy“, and “Getting Girls to Train — Part 2“). She seems to have a great personality, sets a good example for good year-round nutritional and training habits, and trains explosively (with track work and some Olympic lifts). Well, Erin won first place in the figure category this past weekend, so congratulations to her (video of finals is here). The figure category is a step down from the bodybuilding category — the latter consists of creepily ‘roided-out women while the former is a more natural, healthy look.
Other categories include bikini, which is a fairly new style of competition that puts less emphasis on muscle mass and seemingly has no quantifiable judging criteria (though it can be entertaining for men — video of the finals for proof). Another interesting female category is “fitness”; these competitors are judged on both their physiques as well as a fitness routine that requires impressive ability. This typically attracts shorter, athletic girls with gymnastics or dance backgrounds. 40-year-old Adela Garcia won her seventh Fitness Olympia title this past weekend (video of the fitness routines here). I’d also point your attention to Oksana Grishina, a Russian and former gymnast; her routine was pretty impressive and I’ve heard grumbling that she should have won.
You may wonder why this post is about physique competitions when 70’s Big makes a point to acquire physique through performance training. I think that figure and fitness competitors set themselves apart from bodybuilding since their form is the result of function (especially for the fitness competitors). We poopoo bodybuilding as a whole, but the truth is that there are many good role models to look up to — consistent and hard-training people like Erin Stern or the impressive Adela Garcia, a 40-year-old woman who can “out-athlete” anyone half her age.
Sure, our end goal or training methods are different, but there is still a lot we can learn from these women. Erin Stern, for example, stays quite lean year-round with healthy eating — something that’s incredibly difficult mentally and physically. She commits herself to excellency not only in the gym, but outside of it. That is certainly a lesson that we, male or female, can benefit from. I can think of worse female role models than hard-working women who eat right and set goals.