Iranian bodybuilder Hadi Choopan is looking swole AF these days. Not that he doesn’t always look huge. After all, in his two appearances on the Mr. Olympia stage in 2019 and 2020, he placed third and fourth, respectively. That’s quite the feat when squaring up against the most elite bodybuilders on the planet, including seven-time Mr. Olympia champion Phil “The Gift” Heath, the 2019 Mr. Olympia champion Brandon Curry, and 2020 Mr. Olympia champion Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay.
Check out the photo Choopan recently shared on his Instagram page below. His training during the 2021 offseason seems to be paying dividends as his traps, biceps, and triceps are objectively enormous, and his shoulders appear as large (if not larger) than his head:
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Mr. Olympia Physiques
The packages that Choopan brought to both of Mr. Olympia appearances were exceptional, particularly when it came down to his conditioning and his midsection — the man has the abs of a chiseled statue. However, his 5’7″, 220-pound frame can appear small on stage when standing next to the muscle-loaded 290-pound Elssbiay, who stands 5’10”.
Considering how the look of a Mr. Olympia champion has progressed since the Golden Era of bodybuilding back in the 1960s and 1980s, the bigger bodybuilders are getting rewarded for their size in modern times. Arnold Schwartzenegger is a seven-time Mr. Olympia champion. Still, if you were to compare his Mr. Olympia-winning physiques to bodybuilders today, his package was much closer in appearance to the athletes who compete in the Classic Physique division (hence the name). Compare Schwarznegger’s winning physiques to the likes of eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman or Big Ramy. It is apparent that the Open bodybuilding division has drifted away from that Golden Era physique and towards a well-conditioned “mass monster” aesthetic.
[Related: Classic Physique Champ Chris Bumstead on Whether He’ll Compete in the Open Division]
Bodybuilding is ultimately a subjective sport, and though judges have a guide for scoring, there are no hard and fast rules. (The sport’s history is not without controversial decisions). Athletes bring the packages they think will win them the title in the eyes of the judges.
In an interview with Generation Iron, Steve Weinberger, Head Judge of the 2020 Mr. Olympia, said Elssbiay’s “presentation” of being “the first one in the pose, and the last one out of the pose” was part of three major factors that won him the title — the other two were size and conditioning. Although “stage presence” is known, albeit intangible criteria for judging, being first in or last out of a pose was not known criteria before the contest. It is probably a safe bet that the 2021 Mr. Olympia weekend set for October 7-10 in Orlando, FL, will feature bodybuilders racing into their poses.
Choopan stated in his Instagram post that he does plan to return to the USA to compete. A recent training video he shared on his YouTube channel and the caption of his recent Instagram post suggests that he is increasing the intensity of his training. This particular training session appeared to focus on his back with one-arm lat pushdowns, kneeling reverse lat pulldowns, and posing. See it for yourself below:
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On To The Olympia
There are still almost six months until the 2021 Mr. Olympia contest. That means there is plenty of time for athletes to improve their physiques before posing on the sport’s biggest stage. We will see if Choopan’s training pays off with a spot on the podium or potentially the Mr. Olympia title.
Featured image from Hadi Choopan’s Instagram page: @hadi_choopan