Two years ago, Iain Valliere thought the future of Men’s Open bodybuilding was looking grim… now he thinks it’s about to explode into new levels of popularity.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – bodybuilding has been going through a bit of a transition period over the last five or six years. The old guard of champions have slowly stepped down to new younger athletes – but the younger athletes have yet to truly enter their final form. This explains criticism of conditioning issues and questions of whether or not Classic Physique could take over as the number one division. Iain Valliere was worried as well just a few years ago – but now he believes we are on the verge of a new rise in popularity. In our latest GI Exclusive, Iain Valliere explains why Men’s Open has had a lull… and why he thinks it’s about to explode to new heights.

Iain Valliere is a Men’s Open bodybuilder who has been getting a lot of hype and attention in 2021. He’s not alone. He’s one of many younger athletes finally coming into their own and catching attention at major shows. Hunter Labrada, Regan Grimes, Sergio Oliva, and Nick Walker have all been turning heads. The best part? They aren’t even at the prime of their careers yet.

During our conversation, we asked Iain Valliere what his outlook for the Men’s Open division was in the next decade. He answered that if we had asked him two years ago, he would be pretty pessimistic. However now in 2021, Valliere is extremely optimistic and confident that the division is about to see a massive rise in attention.

Iain Valliere rewinds us back just a few years. Classic Physique was newly introduced during a controversial moment in the sport. Many fans and even experts were complaining about Men’s Open physiques. They felt the physiques were too soft and too bulky and that aesthetics were falling to the wayside. At the same time, Classic Physiques focus on aesthetics over mass monster size really caught on. It’s now one of the most exciting divisions in the sport. Many wondered if it could overtake Men’s Open as the most popular division – or at the very least change the way Men’s Open physiques looked.

During this time, we also had constantly shifting Olympia champions. First a final win from a waning Phil Heath, then Shawn Rhoden’s more aesthetic physique, then Brandon Curry – who received some criticism for the state of his physique at the time. Iain Valliere thought things were looking grim. Where was the excitement for the original division that made bodybuilding great?

But then suddenly everything changed. The younger bodybuilders were finally making headroom on the stage. They built more of a fanbase and are the first generation to really embrace and be born with the social media era. Valliere believes that this engagement with social media alongside physiques that are finally coming into better form are bringing Men’s Open bodybuilding back to a boil.


“I think right now when you look at how many young guys there are that have been really good about putting content out and giving access to the lives of pro bodybuilders and keeping that tradition alive,” Iain Valliere stated in our interview. He continued:

“…And I think there are so many promising young athletes… guys like me and Nick. Hunter, Akeem, Nathan, James Hollingshead. Guys that are in their early 30s that are so promising that are also so good at talking to their fans and so good at putting good information out there. I think these guys are gonna be the leaders on the forefront of keeping that division growing. And I think really over the next five, six, seven years – I think it’s going to explode again.”

In 2013, the film Generation Iron gave an inside look into many of the greatest bodybuilders competing at the time. As of today, many of those athletes are now retired or slowly stepping aside. On top of that, the insight into pro bodybuilders’ lives has blown wide open due to social media. It was a turbulent time of change but it seems that the change is finally making headway to a new pinnacle era of the sport. Perhaps Valliere is right. In the next five or six years we very well may have another Golden Era of bodybuilding.

You can watch Iain Valliere’s full comments on Men’s Open bodybuilding in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Derek Dufour
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.