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Back to Aesthetics for Quality Muscle

Danny Hester and Stan McQuay usher in the IFBB’s new classic physique division with ferocity!

Back to Aesthetics for Quality Muscle

The pecking order of the new IFBB's new Classic Physique division starts with two veteran bodybuilders: Danny Hester and Stan McQuay. The debut competition of the new aesthetics-focused class—the Muscle Contest Pro Physique this past March—saw Hester place first and McQuay third. They both have their sights set on the inaugural Classic Physique Olympia this September in Las Vegas. Seeing Hester vs. McQuay II will be intense all along the Strip. 

The judges will place emphasis on symmetry, balance, and classic posing. Weight restrictions have also been instituted to cap how big competitors can get—à la the classic (and scaled-down) physiques of vintage bodybuilders like Frank Zane, Serge Nubret, and Steve Reeves—and that plays right to Hester’s and McQuay’s strengths, not to mention their personal preferences. 

“I’ve always been a classic bodybuilder because I wasn’t a mass monster,” says Hester, who competed in his first NPC USAs back in 1992 but didn’t get his IFBB pro card until 2013 due to a near decade-long hiatus from competition. “My strength was always in my aesthetics and symmetry, and luckily I had the round muscle bellies. But I’m an apple; I can’t really become an orange. Bodybuilding is a quest for never-ending size, no matter what. But with the new Classic Physique division, I don’t have to worry about getting bigger. These are the criteria that I have to stay within, so I can just focus on refining.”

McQuay echoes these sentiments. “It’s more about concentrating on quality muscle,” he says. “Because of my body type, I can focus more on detail work. I always do better coming down in weight than trying to go up and get bigger. And Classic Physique is going to bring more attention to the art of it as opposed to just the freak factor. Posing is now more meaningful.” 


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Danny Hester

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Height: 5'6" 
Weight: 180 lbs 
Birth Date: Feb. 14, 1969 
Residence: Venice, CA 
Career Highlights: 2016 Muscle Contest Pro Classic Physique, 1st; 2013 NPC USA Championships, 2nd; 2013 NPC National Championships, 2nd 

Hester's Training Split

Day  |  Body Part

Monday 

Quads, Hamstrings (light) 

Tuesday 

Hamstrings, Back 

Wednesday 

Shoulders 

Thursday 

Triceps, Biceps 

Friday 

Chest 

Saturday 

Cycle Repeats

Steady-state cardio, calves, and abs are performed in a separate workout on all training days. 

*Hester typically trains four to five days per week. “Whichever days I can’t train are my off days,” he says. “I never take more than three days off in a row.” 

Hester's Back Workout

Exercise  |  Sets  |  Reps

Machine Lat Pulldown

12—15 

Seated Cable Row 

4-6 

12—15 

One-arm Seated Cable Row 

12—15 

Pullup 

3-6 

10—12 

One-arm Lat Pulldown 

10—12 

Dumbbell or Machine Pullover 

12—15 

*Including two warmup sets. 

Machine Lat Pulldown 

HESTER’S TAKE: “The machine we’re using here gives you a really nice squeeze at the bottom and a good pump. As you pull the handles down, it opens up—your hands are close together at the beginning of the rep and then wide apart at the bottom. You can’t get this effect with a standard pulldown bar. It’s almost like combining a close-grip pullup with a wide-grip pullup.” 

Pullup

HESTER’S TAKE: “I prefer a narrow grip because going too wide is not good for your shoulders. And a closer grip keeps the tension in the lats more. Pullups are like a pushup to me—I just jump on it whenever I can just to keep that conditioned look. And I like to stop a little short of failure to make sure all my reps are strict. I go about 75% of the way to failure on each set and then stop.”

Seated Cable Row

HESTER’S TAKE: “Probably my favorite back exercise—my bread and butter. I like to use a full range of motion. I lean forward at the start to get a good stretch and lean back about 15 to 20 degrees past vertical at the end of the movement. What I’m trying to mimic at the end here is like when you’re doing a back pose onstage and you arch your back and it shows all of your Christmas tree in the lower back. If someone were to watch me, they might think it was really bad form, but it’s not. The so-called ‘correct’ way to do a seated cable row is just too much of the arms doing the work."

One-arm Lat Pulldown

HESTER’S TAKE: “You get a much greater range of motion compared with the two-arm version. I can actually get a better stretch at the top with the one-arm pulldown, and then at the bottom of the rep I can pull back, twist at the torso, and really hit those lower tie-ins.”

One-arm Seated Cable Row

HESTER’S TAKE: “The foot position is like a dumbbell row. You have one foot down on the floor, which means you don’t have to put all that strain on the lower back. You’re able to go a little heavier without feeling it too much in the lower back. I also like unilateral movements because there’s always a dominant arm or leg. And if everything you do is bilateral, that dominant side is going to keep being dominant and the weak side is never going to catch up. One-arm versions of exercises are a great way to keep your physique balanced.”

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