Lee Haney shares his thoughts on Classic Physique and answers if he would compete in that division were he in his prime today.
While Lee Haney is legendary with his world record eight Mr. Olympia wins, his physique is very different than what soon came afterwards. Even comparing him to Ronnie Coleman, the only other man to tie Haney’s eight Mr. Olympia wins, showcases a radically different standard of physique the appeared in the mass monster era. So what does Haney think of the recent introduction of the Classic Physique division? Would he compete in that category were he born in this era? In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Lee Haney critiques the Classic Physique division.
There is a clear distinction between the golden age of bodybuilding and the mass monster age of bodybuilding. While the specific years and decades can very, the easiest clear cut is pre and post Dorian Yates. Yates introduced the world to a mass monster size unseen beforehand. Ronnie Coleman later cemented it into pro bodybuilding culture.
Two of the biggest legends that fall squarely on each side of the line is Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman. Both are world record winning 8x Mr. Olympia champions. Both have extremely different physiques due to the era that they were in. Pro bodybuilding as a sport has changed significantly throughout the years. One of the biggest changes was the addition of Classic Physique. This division is custom designed to bring back the look of Golden Age bodybuilders. A look that was once called Men’s Open – but has no changed so much we need two divisions to distinguish the difference.
But the question has often been asked – are the Classic Physique competitors actually matching the “classic” look of the Golden Era? During our conversation with Lee Haney, we wanted to know what his thoughts were of this relatively new division. Haney holds nothing back and expresses his pure joy for Classic Physique. He believes it succeeds in bringing back the aesthetic that made him love bodybuilding. Not only that – he thinks it’s what made the world love bodybuilding. Not everyone wants to look like a mass monster – but everyone does want to look like a Golden Age bodybuilder. Or at least, that’s what Lee Haney believes.
So the obvious follow up question is – would Lee Haney prefer to compete in Classic Physique if he was in his prime today? When we asked Haney, surprisingly he didn’t have a clear answer. He mentions that a bodybuilder’s physique is shaped by the culture around him in the sport. So Haney concedes that perhaps he would have psychologically wanted a different aesthetic to match his peers.
That being said, Haney believes that the recent Olympia wins of Shawn Rhoden in 2018 and Brandon Curry in 2019 showcase that Men’s Open might be going back to a more classic look as well. Perhaps Shawn Rhoden’s win gives Lee Haney hope that he could have still competed in Mens’ Open and impressed the judges.
Luckily, it’s not a choice he ever had to make. Instead. he was a clear cut champion and legend of his time.
You can watch Lee Haney’s full comments on the Classic Physique division in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.