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Once upon a time, bodybuilding was a very different animal from the one we know today. Modern bodybuilding can sometimes be viewed as an elephant. Many of its practitioners seem hell-bent on building muscle mass at any and all costs. Bigger is better, and bigger is worth its weight in trophy alloy.

However, from its mid-20th-century inception and as recently as the last decade, bodybuilding was a lion. While the goal of its adherents was to develop a supremely muscular physique, as it is today, muscular size was merely a single piece to a larger puzzle. In former days, bodybuilders were equally concerned with such matters as proportion, the physique’s “flow” and overall aesthetic appeal.

FLEX spoke

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with Troy Alves and Mark Dugdale about their physiques and how they built them.

We also asked how they’ve managed to stay on course, while so many around them ran off course in the never-ending race for more mass. Their answers are as enlightening as they are compelling. In the end, we wound up with some sound advice you can use to build a classic physique of your own.


“Bodybuilding was so much more popular back in the day, when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane were competing, because there were a lot of physiques that mainstream America could aspire to. Now, I often overhear people calling bodybuilders freaks and saying how they’d never want to look like them. The advisory back in 2005 helped broaden bodybuilding’s appeal.”

Troy Alves


“Fortunately, I don’t have the genetics to get huge, so it’s not something I have to worry about. Instead, I focus on things like shape, lines and proportion. There are probably also health risks involved with walking around at 300 pounds, and I’d rather not take those risks. It wouldn’t be fair to my family or to me.”

Mark Dugdale

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“To me, bodybuilding is about training to sculpt a body until everything is in proportion and flows as perfectly as humanly possible. It’s about trying to reach physical perfection, to look like a Greek sculpture. No bodypart should stand out, but everything should be outstanding. It’s about symmetry, balance and proportion. When I train, it’s always with the goal of reaching this physical ideal. Getting big is only a part of the equation.”

Troy Alves


“My family is more

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important to me than anything, so I would never do anything to jeopardize my health and shorten the time I have on Earth with my family. That alone would keep me from ever getting caught up in the size game. I truthfully wouldn’t want to be that big, either. I just like a pleasing physique. I have tremendous respect for Ronnie Coleman. The man is just incredible. People have asked me many times if I could or if I would want to be Ronnie’s size to be Mr. Olympia for a year. My honest-to-God answer is no. I feel uncomfortable when I go up to 245-250 pounds. My knees and joints start to hurt at that weight. I just can’t imagine getting any heavier. It’s not the kind of look I’ve ever wanted.”

Troy Alves


“Like Troy said, I feel uncomfortable when I’m heavy. For me, that’s 235. I couldn’t imagine getting much heavier than that. I would be concerned about my health trying to play the mass game, and it’s certainly not worth sacrificing that. I’m happy with the level of conditioning and shape I’ve managed to achieve to this point, and I like the way I look at 200 pounds.”

Mark Dugdale


“Guys will come up to me and say ‘I want to get huge. How do I put on 30 pounds fast?’ I say you don’t have to go that route. You can build muscle while staying somewhat lean. I don’t mean shredded, but at a relatively low percentage of bodyfat. Some guys feel they have to get fat to put on muscle, but that’s just not the case. I tell them they’d be surprised how much attention they’d get if they got a little leaner and showed some muscularity on a day-to-day basis.”

Troy Alves

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“I think it’s Chris Aceto who says that you grow best at about 10% bodyfat. Any less and you don’t have the energy reserves to build muscle; any more and your body becomes less efficient. Right now, I’m about 230 and I compete at around 200, so accounting for maybe 20 pounds of fat and 10 pounds of water, I’m probably somewhere around 10% bodyfat.

“Obviously, you can’t be shredded year-round, but I think you will grow more effectively over time by staying fairly lean.”

Mark Dugdale

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