Mr. Olympia and Generation Iron

I just got back from Vegas and one of the most exciting, well-attended Olympia weekends ever. The Orleans Arena was sold out for the Mr. Olympia finals on Saturday night, and the energy in the building was incredible. Phil Heath won his third-straight title, and while that might not be surprising to some—especially considering how the sport of bodybuilding is prone to dynasties—the manner in which he did it was. Bouncing back from a too-close-for-comfort win over Kai Greene in 2012, Phil came in with new muscle and in better condition for pre-judging on Friday night. This, combined with a slip in Kai’s conditioning (you could plainly see his abs weren’t tight at all on Friday night) made for a fairly wide margin of victory.

It’s been years since Muscle & Fitness regularly covered bodybuilding, so I don’t often get to write about the sport. But I do have tremendous respect for it, and seeing the energy surrounding it over Olympia weekend was something special. It’s hard to put a finger on any one factor contributing to the sold out arena, but I’d have to imagine that the new bodybuilding documentary Generation Iron, which followed seven competitors in the lead-up to the 2012 Mr. Olympia contest, had something to do with firing up the hype machine this year.

Generation Iron Trailer

If you haven’t seen Generation Iron yet, I highly recommend it. This is not a film for the bodybuilding enthusiast. It’s a film for the masses filled with personal drama, stories of sacrifice, and becomes a brilliant essay on what it truly means to pursue anything that’s all-consuming and sets you apart from the rest of society. While Phil figures prominently, guys outside the Top 10 are just as important to the story—a sport like bodybuilding, after all, will always produce more might-have-beens than winners. In the end, Generation Iron asks just how important winning really is, and considers the merits of hard work for its own sake.

You can check out my red carpet interviews with the cast at this link: M&F at the Premiere of Generation Iron