The Results of the 2004 Mr. Olympia
The Ronnie sightings began a few days ago in Las Vegas. A competition-ready bodybuilder over 300 lbs is always noticed, even in Vegas. Last year, Ronnie Coleman won his sixth consecutive Mr. Olympia at a phenomenal bodyweight of 287 lbs in what was arguably the best conditioning of his career. As most bodybuilders who have trained seriously and consistently over five years realize, a 10 lb increase in lean body mass in a year's time is amazing. For a 40 year-old, elite bodybuilder with almost 20 years of training under his belt to make such gains is nothing short of miraculous. And when he stepped on stage tonight at the Mandalay Bay for the 2004 Mr. Olympia at a bodyweight of 296 lbs, it was indeed "game over, lights out"!
1. Ronnie Coleman - Ronnie did not disappoint. He learned his lesson from the 2002 Olympia where he failed to make an improvement year-over-year and was seriously challenged by Jay Cutler and Gunter Schlierkamp. And for the past two Olympias, he has made dramatic improvements at each outing. While he may have held a little water in the midsection (more evident in the prejudging than the night time show), his overall improvement in size made him unbeatable. With all due respect to one of my favorite bodybuilders, Dorian Yates, Ronnie's back development is the best in the history of bodybuilding, past, present, and in the foreseeable future. His legs are massive. The only thing more impressive than the appearance of his legs on stage is the hardcore training that goes into building those tree trunks! We've seen his squat workouts and his deadlift workouts in Cost of Redemption and the Unbelievable; I believe Ronnie's videos are the single biggest reason we are seeing more lifters in the gym adding deadlifts and squats to their regular workouts. His confidence and light-hearted humor made the show much more enjoyable. (E.g. "Jay's been smoking crack this morning", "lights out, game over, lat spread", "nothing but a peanut!")
3. Gustavo Badell - Gus is clearly the surprise bodybuilder of 2004. He has made the greatest improvements in his phyisque of any competitor on stage last night. I must admit, Gus caught me by surprise. After all, he placed 24th at the 2002 Mr. Olympia. But since Milos Sarcev has become involved in helping Gustavo, he is now a contender. Amazing. I look forward to watching him compete next year and the years to come.
4. Dexter Jackson - Dexter is a future Mr. Olympia. The conditioning of "the Blade" is unparalleled. At every show (and he competes several times per year), he is always "on" - check out the video clip of him at the Arnold. And every year that Dexter has competed in the pro ranks, he has continued to add size. It is only a matter of time before he reaches that perfect combination of size and conditioning. The conditioning is there. And don't get me wrong, the size is there as well. But as long as mass monsters such as Ronnie, Jay and Markus roam the earth, the burden is on Dexter to get bigger. If we had two categories in bodybuilding competition: "Freaky Mass" and "Perfect Symmetry", Dexter would win ever year closely followed by the likes of Darrem Charles. This year Dexter's placing was seriously hurt by the addition of the new round - the "Challenge Round". Dexter lost a "most muscular" challenge to Gustavo and a controversial "ab-and-thigh" challenge to Ronnie. The Challenge Round may add another dimension to the contest with more excitement and entertainment but in no way does it make the judging any fairer. There will be a lot of debate regarding the future of the Challenge Round.
5. Markus Ruhl - Markus has one of the most massive, impressive physiques in bodybuilding today. The word "freak" has never been more appropriate to describe a bodybuilder nor has it ever been said in such a complimentary manner. Always known as nice, personable person to his fans, he showed the audience last night that he has quite an eye for assessing the strengths and weakness of his competitors physique during the "Challenge Round". Many thought Markus should have won more of the callouts he made, this observer included, and yes, possibly even the callouts against Jay and Ronnie. He should have placed higher. But there is some justice in the sport - thanks go out to Muscular Development magazine for recognizing Markus "freak status" by giving him the "2004 Freakazoid Award" accompanied by a $10,000 cash prize. Markus' recent DVD has helped increase his popularity. And his condition at the 2004 Olympia along with the "Freakazoid Award" will provide a perfect script for the sequel to "Made in Germany".
6. Gunter Schlierkamp - Gunter is a favorite in bodybuilding. After his 2002 conditioning, we all are in Gunter's corner, but until he can fulfill the potential he showed he 2002, he will not move up in the rankings. However, Gunter was right on with his criticism of the official 2004 Olympia poster. The poster featured a posedown between Ronnie and Jay; Gunter pointed that there were 19 competitors. The contest was between Ronnie and the rest of the field!
7. Chris Cormier - Chris looked great as usual. But on a stage where most of the top 10 competitors made considerable improvments over the past 12 months, the judges seemingly penalized Chris for not making comparable improvements.
8. Dennis James - Finally, Dennis James showed what he is capable of at the 2004 Olympia. In past years, he has always showed amazing potential in the off-season only to miss with his contest prep for the Olympia. He should have placed much higher. Still, DJ is much more impressive in the off-season and in his training videos.
9. Victor Martinez, 10. Darrem Charles, 11. Pavol Jablonicky, 12. Kris Dim, 13. Ahmad Haidar, 14. Johnnie Jackson, 15. Troy Alves, 16. Craig Richardson, 17. Mustafa Mohammed, 18. Richard Jones, 19. Claude Groulx
There is nothing like seeing the top bodybuilders in the world in person. I know that many of the Olympia contestants have a few more guest posing appearances scheduled this year. I encourage you to see them. If you've only seen the pros in magazines, watch their training videos. If you've only seen their videos, you must see them in person. Nothing else will do their physiques justice.
Joe Weider's 2004 Mr. Olympia