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Robert Nailon was an Australian Bodybuilder who trained with the likes of Frank Zane, Larry Scott and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The guy could paint, too. He painted the cover of a Frank Zane training booklet called “Secrets of Advanced Bodybuilding”. Come to think of it, he did paintings of Larry Scott and Arnold Schwarzenegger as well. One of his Arnold illustrations was on the cover of a Schwarzenegger mail order training course.
Nailon was familiar enough about bodybuilding to know where to exaggerate. I particularly like his Zane painting. If Zane had that much mass, he would have dominated the entire 1970s. Zane’s joints and waist are small enough that the extra mass would have looked insane. There may be bodybuilders today that look bigger than Nailon’s exaggerated version of Zane but I don’t know of any, at least today, that have that structure. Zane’s actual shoulder structure appears wider than current Mr. Olympia Phil Heath’s. I’m not saying Zane had more muscle, I’m talking about clavicle length and whatever other skeletal components constitute a wide shoulder structure. Plus, Zane had small knee joints. Small knees make the calves appear all the more pronounced when they’re developed.
Sometimes art inspires us to workout as much as photos of real people does. For me, this is the case with this Robert Nailon painting. Unfortunately, bodybuilders today who do actually get that big also have 40 inch waists and carry most of their mass in the thighs and very little in the calves. Robert Nailon’s painting reminds some of us where we thought bodybuilding was going to go.
A long time ago before bodybuilding became a burgeoning growth industry bodybuilders exemplified the virtues of health, strength and beauty and the leading exponents of this lifestyle were truly herculean specimens of humanity.
Later after the advent of steroids In the so called “golden era” of this sport a similar set of ideals governed the judging criteria. A physique was judged not only on its muscularity but on its proportions and symmetry. A small waist coupled with wide shoulders gave the much desired classic “V” shape.
Physique stars then were easily accessible to common mortal man- who could identify and aspire to reach the standard on display. We were privileged to view some tremendously aesthetic looking physiques epitomised by competitors such as Frank Zane.
Somewhere along the line however things began to change for the worse. The importance of aesthetics became subordinated to the attainment of huge muscle mass and low digit body fat levels at any cost.
The sense of proportion and focus on aesthetics is now long gone. Instead we have many pregnant looking dudes with gorilla like butts onstage. ‘The vacuum” pose so prevalent in the golden age of yesteryear has completely disappeared. It is no longer performed because of the physical inability of the competitors to hit the pose due to their distended midsections.
The advent of insulin and growth hormone unfortunately spelled the end of aesthetics in this once great Art and sport.