Stanimal De Longeaux reflects on the current crop of talent competing in pro bodybuilding and if the sport has become more competitive.

There was a time not too long ago where fans of pro bodybuilding felt that surprise was missing from the sport. Reigning champions maintained such talent and power – that it was easy to predict who would win big shows like the Arnold Classic or Mr. Olympia. Flex Lewis won every show he competed in. So did Phil Heath. Their reign felt impossible to overcome. Since then something changed – and now the outcomes of pro bodybuilding competitions have become more unpredictable. There have been many upsets and the Mr. Olympia title has seen four different champions over the past five years. Has the talent pool become more even and competitive? In our latest GI Exclusive, Stanimal De Longeaux compares the sport when he started vs today and whether or not it’s truly become more competitive. 

There’s a big reason why the Classic Physique division has garnered so much attention for such a relatively young category. Yes, the personalities and physiques on display are top notch. But more than that, the level of competition has been thrilling and truly unpredictable. With exception of Chris Bumstead in recent years – it’s nearly anyones game at every major Classic Physique competition. In fact, it’s become so popular that the Boston Pro 2022 ended the night with Classic Physique rather than the typical Men’s Open.

This is something Stanimal De Longeaux is very well aware of. He’s right there in the middle of it as a competitor. Suddenly more doors are open as he continues to improve and perfect his physique.

Stanimal has also noticed that it seems this level of competition is starting to make its way into Men’s Open as well. Big Ramy is starting to get a foothold with two wins in a row – but we’ve had four different champions in quick succession at the Mr. Olympia. The old guard are slowly stepping down and young talented competitors are finally coming into their own. The patterns have shifted. things have become unpredictable.

While that might not be the reason Stanimal moved from Classic Physique to Men’s Open – we can assume it certainly was a factor. As Stanimal continues to discover what division is a best fit for his genetic frame, he is finding that there is no longer single guaranteed repeat champions in either Classic Physique or Men’s Open.

On one hand, this leads to more opportunity. There is no longer a Phil Heath who will shut out the competition and change the battle for everyone to see who gets second place. However, this increased competition simply means the battle becomes more barbaric – so to speak. There are more close calls, more hungry competitors with an actual shot for first place. It’s thrilling to see on stage – and it helps the athletes push each other to great new heights.

Stanimal believes that, for Classic Physique, this is natural for a new division. The first few years were athletes learning what defines the division. Now that it’s grown from its infancy – we are still with that first generation of athletes. Nothing is fully set in stone

On the other hand, Stanimal notes that the Men’s Open division is simply going through a transitionary period that is finally blooming. Gone are the yesteryears of Phil Heath, Kai Greene, and Dexter Jackson. New names such as Nick Walker, Hunter Labrada, and Hadi Choopan are finally coming into their own. It’s an exciting time and leading to more heated battles on stage. This is great not only for the athletes but also for the fans.

Where will Stanimal’s place be during this competitive time? During our interview, he explains that he’s started working with a new coach for his off season prep. He wants to take his health and his physique to the next level and enter into the Men’s Open division as a true threat among the new generation of athletes. Only time will tell how he will fair in such a hungry crop of athletes.

You can watch Stanimal De Longeaux discuss the growing competitive nature of modern bodybuilding and his new contest prep plans for Men’s Open in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Jacob Ladon
Jacob Ladon is a staff writer and former amateur bodybuilder. He has been passionate about bodybuilding since he was 15 years old and discovered the joys of training in the gym. He reports and comments on all bodybuilding related matters.