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Lee Haney Thinks Modern Bodybuilding Contest Preparation Is Too Dangerous

Few people understand what it really takes to eat, train, and prepare like a dynastic bodybuilding champion. One of them is Lee Haney. With eight consecutive Mr. Olympia from 1984-1991, Haney spent almost an entire decade on top of the world of fitness. To date, his eight Olympia titles are tied with fellow legend Ronnie Coleman for the most. So a recent interview might paint a picture of someone who doesn’t appreciate where modern bodybuilding stands.

In Feb. 6, 2022, Haney appeared on an episode of the podcast with Muscular Development. Among a discussion of various current events, such as the rise of Derek Lunsford, Haney specifically focused on the modern standards of conditioning for the best of the best. In a few words, he is not a fan.

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Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Haney thinks that modern bodybuilding is focused on size rather than aiming for symmetry and balance. According to the legend, the leading names will be bigger than before, but missing the important details that were once a main focus of his time.

If one reason could be excessive dehydration to show more muscle detail, Haney thinks this general mentality comes at a significant cost to the athletes’ health.

“Many athletes have gotten sick or died from trying to achieve that level of dehydration,” Haney explained. “I think we need to change the cultural mindset of what’s going on when it comes to judging these competitions.”

Ultimately, while he appreciates the dedication to competition and strength, Haney states that what bodybuilders are asking today is too far. For him, having a long and enjoyable life is more important than having a productive, rigid career that might put that in jeopardy.

“At the end of the day, you want to enjoy yourself as an athlete, but you want to walk away with your health,” Haney said. “You don’t have to die to get to this level of conditioning. They ask a lot of athletes, period. You look at the old school of bodybuilding. People say ‘old school,’ that’s the real school. This is the the school. Forget that ‘old school.’ … We achieved a level of conditioning that allowed us to walk out after the competition still alive, and still healthy.”

The 63-year-old Haney maintained that the past standards of competitive bodybuilding allowed the icons of his era to continue to live long lives. He explained that figures like the late and influential Bill Pearl, three-time Mr. Olympia Frank Zane (1977-1979), and even Schwarzenegger lived or all reached their old age, until their 70s and 80s, for a good reason. Their bodybuilding preparations did not ask much of them.

That being said, it may be time to reassess and retrace the steps back to the old days before it’s too late. Haney suggests that the onus may be on the bodybuilding judges to reward only certain bodies in the context of previous bodybuilders.

“They remember the fact that we are healthy. No one died on stage. We were probably a little dehydrated, a little passed out, but there was no need to call the paramedics to revive anyone. So, there is a pattern already in place. I said, let’s go back to those patterns,” said Haney. “It doesn’t take much to do that. It just requires putting the minds together. … I think we have to step back and write again, evaluate, because the blood of these athletes who died, is on your hands. They are in your hands.”

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Haney’s thoughts are noble and worth hearing, especially coming from a legend known for suggesting that bodybuilders “stimulate, not destroy” in the gym. For a bodybuilder to even consider scaling back to his desired fitness level will likely require a Yeoman’s effort from everyone involved. That includes competition organizers, athletes, and their coaches who see the forest for the trees together.

Because if an all-time great thinks the game isn’t in a quality place, then it might be time to rethink the dangerous path that led to this point.

Featured image: @lee_haney_official on Instagram

The post Lee Haney Thinks Modern Bodybuilding Contest Preparation Is Too Dangerous appeared first on Muscle Breakdown.

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