Breon Ansley joins the podcast to talk about how Classic Physique needs to evolve, bodybuilding prize money, and how to build the perfect back.

An Arnold Classic champion and 2x Olympia champion, Breon Ansley is a modern day legend in the Classic Physique division and helped set the standard for what the category has evolved into. Now with his move into the 212 division, Brandon Lirio invited Ansley onto the U-Natty States Of America podcast to reflect on his time in Classic Physique and to look towards the divisions future alongside his new-found journey into a new division.

While not the first ever Classic Physique champion (that honor goes to Danny Hester), Breon Ansley arguably set the standard for what a Classic Physique should look like in the earliest years of the division. Now in 2023, it seems Ansley has outgrown the division – both metaphorically and literally.

Upon announcing his decision to move up to Men’s 212, Ansley admitted that he was struggling to keep himself at the weight cap for Classic Physique and wanted to explore what he could accomplish at a bigger size. He also believe that the Classic Physique division still has some “catching up to do” in order to be the division it desires to be. One that focuses on truly classic posing and focuses less on size.

Now that his final Classic Physique competition (2022 Olympia) is over, Breon Ansley is 100% focused on his transition into Men’s 212. With the Classic Physique division behind him, Brandon Lirio took most of the time during their interview to discuss and reflect back on Ansley’s many years in the division. The pros, the cons, and his opinions on where the division is heading and where he thinks it should be heading. Let’s jump into it.

Breon Ansley thinks Classic Physique isn’t “classic” until posing routines are judged

Over the years, there has been a desire by many fans and even athletes to bring back scoring of posing routines. This would take into consideration not simply the mandatory poses and the physique of the athletes – but also the creativity while also maintaining a spot on physique.

This has been a debate for Men’s Open and Men’s 212 for years – and also applies to the relatively new Classic Physique division. For Brandon Lirio, it’s even more important to score the posing routines in Classic Physique. The entire division was aimed to evoke the Golden Age classic physiques of the 70s. This was an era when posing routines were judged. Why bring back classic poses if the routines themselves are not scored?

Breon Ansley agrees and thinks that the division as it stands now has already made great strides in evolving to its true form. In the earliest years of the division, the weight and height limits were drastically changed each season. Why? To lock in what works best for the athletes competing while also maintaining the vision of classic aesthetics on the body.

For Ansley, he thinks that the next step is for the division to “catch up” and evolve further by allowing for scored posing routines. He believes only then will it live up to the promise for what the division originally aimed to achieve.

While it’s not the main reason for him leaving the division, it’s one small part of many as he decided to move up to the Men’s 212. With his size becoming more and more of a challenge – he didn’t see why he needed to stay in Classic Physique anymore. With posing routines not being a huge aspect of the competition scoring, and staying under the weight cap becoming increasingly harder, Men’s 212 became the obvious choice for Breon Ansley.

“I think the Men’s 212 is missing some punch, some charisma, some personality… So I hope to bring all of that back.”

– Breon Ansley


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Breon Ansley spoke with Jake Wood about prize money disparity between Classic Physique and Men’s Open

During their conversation, Brandon Lirio brings up the topic of prize money and earnings for pro bodybuilders. He refers to his previous episode breaking down how bodybuilders earn profit in the sport – and how competitions alone will never allow for most athletes to make a living as a pro bodybuilder alone. He also points out how Classic Physique, a division that is wildly popular only behind Men’s Open, pays vastly less to the Olympia champion compared to the Mr. Olympia Men’s Open winner.

Breon Ansley agrees and thinks that in order for the sport to grow it needs to take care of the athletes financially. In fact, Ansley states that he had a direct conversation with Jake Wood about it. While he didn’t disclose when this conversation happened – he states that they met to discuss how Classic Physique competitors can be better compensated for placing in the top five of Olympia.

Ansley walked out of the conversation with new insight. While he does still think that something must be done to raise revenue and bring more prize money to all divisions, Jake Wood also made note of the financial access for fans of the sport. There are many bodybuilding fans who cannot afford to pay, let’s say NFL Super Bowl prices to attend the event. Wood wants to make the event as accessible as possible for all fans regardless of income.

The athletes are important and must be taken care of. But so are the fans. Without the fans there is no sport. The solution seems to be a longer term goal – make the brand of Olympia (and Pro Bodybuilding) more mainstream to bring in even more fans, more sponsors, etc. Breon Ansley has his own tip as well in this new digital age. He wants fans of the sport to stop pirating the Arnold Classic and Mr. Olympia live streams. If more people honestly paid for the PPV events, there would be more money to go around to athletes who place high.

“My goal, my dream, is to have us back on ESPN like in the 90s.”

– Breon Ansley

How to build a massive back without blowing out your waist

At the end of the interview, Brandon Lirio asked Breon Ansley some questions sent in by fans. The most interesting one was about building up a massive back. More specifically, how do you build out a wide upper back without blowing out your waist?

In pro bodybuilding, having a tapered tight waist under a massive batwing back is essential for winning shows. As many say, bodybuilding competitions are won from the back. But having a tight waist while keeping a wide back is easier said than done. What’s the tactic?

Breon Ansley says that the key is to focus on breathing techniques and ab control while training. With every exercise, no matter the body part, a bodybuilder should focus on controlling their stomach, waist, and abs. Ansley suggests that vacuum exercises are a great addition into a workout to help with control.

He also suggests waist trimmer belts. While he doesn’t think they actually help trim waists in the way they promise, they do help make you more conscientious about your waist as you exercise. This helps you keep yourself in check and keep control of your breathing and waist control.

Wrap Up

Breon Ansley and Brandon Lirio discuss all things Classic Physique and bodybuilding throughout their podcast interview. Much more than we can cover in on single article. That’s why you should watch the full episode of U-Natty States Of America above. Don’t forget to check back every Wednesday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.