Lee Haney on Modern Bodybuilding and Coaching: “Athletes Are Bigger But Lack Quality”

Lee Haney says modern athletes have greater size, but less quality.

Eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney has given a critique on modern bodybuilding and coaching. The legend suggests that the modern era is too focused on size over quality.

Modern bodybuilding is a completely different game today compared with the Golden Era. While today the focus has been on size, athletes packing on massive amounts of muscle, during the Golden Era the focus was different. Now while the argument of which era was better for bodybuilding has been floating in the air for awhile now, there’s definitely a nuance that few have been talking about.

Many have focused a great deal on the end results. The arguments have been “bodybuilders are too massive” or “bodybuilders don’t pose like they used to”, valid arguments in and of themselves. But there is a angle that many arguments fail to include. What has changed about the focus of training?

Eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney has had a great deal to say about the subject. Haney has criticized modern bodybuilding in the past, but his most recent post may have hit the nail on the head.

You see while many arguments focus on the size of bodybuilders and their lack of skill in presentation, Lee Haney is suggesting that the issue could be more with athlete training than anything else. In fact the bodybuilding legend suggests that coaches these days could be the main culprit.

Lee Haney made a recent post to Instagram highlighting what he thinks the main difference is between bodybuilding today and yesterday. The eight-time Olympia champion suggests that bodybuilders don’t focus on separation anymore and more on size. The training mentality has shifted and therefore the end results have changed as well.

“After close evaluation of the Olympia, It’s my professional opinion that the training systems used lack the ability to create muscle maturity or quality muscle separation. No so with the top 10 during the eras past. Yes, athletes are bigger but lack quality.”

Lee Haney suggests that the modern era focuses on quantity over quality. From the results of recent shows it’s hard to argue with the man. Haney then went on to discuss the state of training and coaches in the modern era.

“I later had a conversation with the coaches that worked with one of the top athletes. I asked: what type of training system did he used for his athlete (top (5)?

“And behold😳 he gave me an answer that was total out the realm of what was used to create some of the greatest physiques ever. Of course he himself looked like a dancer.

“There in lies the problem with the quality of 95% of open class bodybuilders. The problem with most of the current coaches is that they haven’t been there done that. I said it and stand by it. I have the hardware to backup what I said.”

So are the coaches to blame for the state of modern bodybuilding? While one could simply argue that bodybuilders are just different today, it still doesn’t change the fact that past eras featured athletes with more balanced physiques. The modern mass monsters is now the norm where it used to be a rare occurrence. Now the opposite is true. The mass monsters dominate the stage while balanced bodybuilders have fallen by the way side.

This isn’t the first time Lee Haney has opened up about his thoughts on modern bodybuilding. We had the opportunity to interview Lee Haney in 2020 for over an hour discussing his career and also the modern set of athletes in bodybuilding. You can check it out below:

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News and Editorial Writer at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.

Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.