What is the Classic Physique Bodybuilding Division?

The era of bodybuilding when bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Sergio Oliva, Larry Scott, Franco Columbo, Dave Draper, Serge Nubret, Samir Banout and such others used to compete for Mr Olympia title was referred to as the golden era of bodybuilding. If you know these bodybuilders, you’ll very well know what defined the golden era. It was the aesthetic physiques with small waists, proper v-taper and elegant posing routines. Ever since the game became about mass, some bodybuilding fans and people associated with the sports have yearned for those types of physiques to make a comeback. In 2016, IFBB announced a new division- Classic Physique with an effort to revive the old school bodybuilding and the golden era physiques. The Classic Physique division aims to bring back those aesthetic physiques for the bodybuilding fans like you and me.

The classic physique division is meant for those bodybuilders who wish not to take their muscularity as big as the bodybuilders from men’s open category and those who wish to be more muscular than the men’s physique class. It falls right in between the two. The classic physique division represents the physiques from the bygone golden era. As it is a competitive division there are certain rules and regulations a bodybuilder has to abide by in order to be able to compete in this division. The main characteristics this division gets judged on is the symmetry, proportions, small waists, in-short, a pleasing physique overall. The kind of physique a normal person could look up to and which looks more achievable owing to aesthetics.

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When did Classic Physique start?

Classic physique came into inception in the year 2016. But the talks of it spurred before 2016. A few years back, Arnold Schwarzenegger criticised the professional bodybuilders of this era and he went on to make a statement about the judges who award such physiques. He spoke about what a lot of bodybuilding fans wanted to say for long. The aesthetic factor in the sports was fading away and everyone was noticing it but nobody was doing anything about it. Soon after Schwarzenegger made a statement, the topic picked up some heat with the fans of the sport asking to bring back the bygone era of small waists, v-taper, pleasing lines and poised posing routines.

Schwarzenegger even went on to say- “We used to have the V-shape body, and now we have, what, bottle-shaped bodies?”. This statement made waves and garnered a lot of support on social media as well. The wave hit the right place in 2015 when IFBB/NPC officially announced a new division- Classic Physique. To be able to preserve the stature of what this division meant, IFBB introduced certain guidelines by which the judges were to judge these physiques and how an athlete should adhere to the weight limitations. The height-weight ratios were introduced so that the definition of the division stays consistent in the long term and not lose its essence by moving to the more muscular side as happened before in the past.

What do judges look for in Classic Physique? (Classic Physique Rules)

The judging perspective in this particular category is very different compared to other categories. There are certain mandatory poses just like others but the basis on how the judgement goes on differs a lot. There has to be a particular height to weight ratio which needs to be strictly adhered to. For up to a particular height, a maximum allowed weight has been mentioned. An athlete who crosses this maximum allowed weight limit will not be eligible to participate in classic physique. Let’s look at how this height and corresponding weight limit looks like as per the latest IFBB rules for classic physique division-

HeightCorresponding Weight
Less than or equal to 5’4 (163 cm)Less than or equal to 170 lbs (77 kg)
Greater than 5’4, Less than or equal to 5’5 (165 cm)Less than or equal to 175 lbs (79 kg)
Greater than 5’5, Less than or equal to 5’6 (168 cm)Less than or equal to 180 lbs (82 kg)
Greater than 5’6, Less than or equal to 5’7 (170 cm)Less than or equal to 185 lbs (84 kg)
Greater than 5’7, Less than or equal to 5’8 (173 cm)Less than or equal to 192 lbs (87 kg)
Greater than 5’8, Less than or equal to 5’9 (175 cm)Less than or equal to 200 lbs (91 kg)
Greater than 5’9, Less than or equal to 5’10 (178 cm)Less than or equal to 207 lbs (94 kg)
Greater than 5’10, Less than or equal to 5’11 (180 cm)Less than or equal to 215 lbs (98 kg)
Greater than 5’11, Less than or equal to 6’0 (183 cm)Less than or equal to 222 lbs (101 kg)
Greater than 6’0, Less than or equal to 6’1 (185 cm)Less than or equal to 230 lbs (104 kg)
Greater than 6’1, Less than or equal to 6’2 (188 cm)Less than or equal to 240 lbs (109 kg)
Greater than 6’2, Less than or equal to 6’3 (191 cm)Less than or equal to 247 lbs (112 kg)
Greater than 6’3, Less than or equal to 6’4 (193 cm)Less than or equal to 255 lbs (116 kg)
Greater than 6’4, Less than or equal to 6’5 (196 cm)Less than or equal to 262 lbs (119 kg)
Greater than 6’5, Less than or equal to 6’6 (198 cm)Less than or equal to 270 lbs (122 kg)
Greater than 6’6, Less than or equal to 6’7 (201 cm)Less than or equal to 277 lbs (126 kg)
Greater then 6’7 (201 cm)Less than or equal to 285 lbs (129 kg)
Classic Physique Division Height to Weight Ratio

The judging includes each athlete having to showcase the 5 mandatory poses in the following order-

  1. Front double biceps
  2. Side chest
  3. Back double biceps
  4. Abdominals and thighs
  5. Any classic pose of the athlete’s choice except most muscular

After having judged each of them individually, the judges then judge them in groups where they need to perform the mandatory poses again along with quarter turns. This allows the judges to judge them compared to other as well. In a final round, the head judge calls out the selected bodybuilders whom have to go through the phase of mandatory poses and quarter turns once again, against the final call outs now.

How do you become IFBB Pro Classic Physique?

To become an IFBB pro in the classic physique division and then further to be able to compete on the Mr Olympia stage, the process is the same as any other category. The first step is to secure an IFBB pro card to be eligible to participate in the qualifier shows for Mr Olympia.

Classic physique Olympia winners

The first-ever Classic Physique Olympia took place in the year 2016. The year prior when the division was officially announced by the IFBB, bodybuilders hailing from different division- Men’s open, 212 and Men’s physique all tried their luck to see if they fit the dimensions of this category. Those who did shift to this category owing to its anticipated future popularity. The winner of the first classic physique Olympia was Danny Hester- a veteran bodybuilder. Following are the winners of the classic physique bodybuilding division from the year 2016- present.

2016Danny Hester
2017Breon Ansley
2018Breon Ansley
2019Chris Bumstead
Mr Olympia Classic Physique Winners 2016- present

Following are the top 10 from the last years Classic Physique Olympia category-

PositionClassic Physique Bodybuilder
1Chris Bumstead
2Breon Ansley
3George Peterson
4Keone Pearson
5Chen Kang
6Alex Cambronero
7Dani Younan
8Arash Rahbar
9Courage Opara
10Stan De Longeaux
2019 Mr Olympia Classic Physique Top 10

How much does Classic Physique Olympia winner earn?

The winner of the classic physique division just like the other divisions is awarded certain prize money decided by the federation beforehand. Apart from the winning amount a bodybuilder earn through other mediums as well. Sponsorships being one of the most important ones. A lot of bodybuilders like Danny Hester from the classic physique division are business owners as well. Many offer their expertise through training programs for people who want to be coached for their fitness journeys. The table below showcases the prize money won by the top 5 bodybuilders in 2019 Mr Olympia 2019.

RankClassic Physique BodybuilderPrize Money Won
1Chris Bumstead$30,000
2Breon Ansley$10,000
3George Peterson$5,000
4Keone Pearson$3,000
5Chen Kang$2,000
2019 Mr Olympia Classic Physique Prize Money


IFBB Official Website

Mr Olympia official website

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