Akim Williams thinks comparing eras in bodybuilding is a waste of time.
In any sport, it’s common to compare eras. It’s inevitable that fans with a deep love for the history of a sport will make lists comparing one decade to the next. So of course this habit also appears in bodybuilding. More recently, it has become a focus topic of conversation after the 2019 Mr. Olympia. This was due to some notable legends in the sport making it clear that they thought modern bodybuilding had gone downhill. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Akim Williams explains why he thinks debating and comparing bodybuilding eras is a waste of time.
As bodybuilding grows and evolves over time – so too do the physiques on stage. While some of this is due to pushing the limit farther and farther every decade, it’s also due to cultural changes in the sport. Some generations favor a more classic look while others favor being as big as possible. The types of physiques favored by athletes personally change and influence each other year after year.
In some ways, it seems as if bodybuilding is between eras at this moment. The debate about whether or not modern bodybuilding physiques are declining in quality is constantly discussed. This is perhaps in part due to the rise of social media over the past decade. There is now a more direct and constant way for fans to communicate on a massive scale. It also might be because of a shifting change slowly taking place in the sport.
Being the biggest and leanest mass monster possible was favored and most likely hit its zenith with Ronnie Coleman. Since then, there’s been some back and forth on whether or not size should be the main goal to attain. The introduction of Classic Physique is an indictor of changing tastes. While we may always want the “freaks” in Men’s Open – there are a growing number of both fans and athletes that want to see aesthetics favored over size.
That’s why during our conversation with Akim Williams, we asked for his opinion on the debate. Specifically, whether or not the modern era of bodybuilding falls short compared to the 90s and early 2000s. Akim does not only disagree with the criticism, he thinks that the whole debate is stupid.
Akim Williams first acknowledges that there has been a growing opinion that the 90s and early 2000s is the new golden era of bodybuilding. Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman personally made their opinion clear – they don’t think modern bodybuilders could stand up to themselves or the competitors they faced in their prime.
Akim Williams thinks this is just not true. He claims that there are plenty of competitors that he sees today on the stage that would blow away bodybuilders from the 90s. But he also understands why Dorian and Ronnie would believe otherwise. That was their era. They have a dedication and passion for that period of time.
This is the exact reason why Akim Williams thinks taking these debates seriously is a waste of time. Everyone has a favorite era of bodybuilding. More often than not, the era a person favors is the one they grew up with. It has very little to do with actual objective quality of the athletes. It’s more a personal opinion mixing together nostalgia and subjective opinions.
You can watch Akim Williams’ full comments about 90s bodybuilding vs modern bodybuilding in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.