Jamie Filer's 2008 Iron Man Review.

This year's Iron Man was full of suprises. Learn more here as I discuss the shockers and review a select few competitors from the pre-judging and finals.

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Pre-Judging
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dot Phil Heath dot

    Wow! What a difference a year makes. This man has the best arms this sport has seen in a long time. Although his arms were always his strong suit, he really brought his quads up this year. His lines from the side are unbelievable!

    His glutes and hams are striated, his calves are crazy, and he is probably, hands down, the most conditioned athlete in the show. It's amazing how he can come in cross-striated but still have enough size to play in the same league as the big boys.

Phil Heath Phil Heath
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Phil Heath - Pre-Judging.

    With his new sliced and diced muscle, Phil Heath is the winner from the front, back and side. The side chest pose was mind blowing in terms of thickness and separation. He's super dry as well, which helps to add to his conditioning and vascularity.

    He came out in the first call out and just killed it. He owned the front double biceps, as well as the one leg extended rear double bi. Last year, when he stood next to the top pros at the last Arnold, we saw his flaws, but now, he's one of the top guys, and giving them a run for their money.

    The year off did him good because it gave his body time to grow; and grow it did! Though his back isn't the best in the line-up, he's made leaps and bounds in terms of improvements with it.

dot Silvio Samuel dot

    He is sick! The man is ridiculous! How does a bodybuilder stay in shape all year long? Not only that, but you can see a huge improvement from last year to this year. It's crazy how he continues to make progress from show to show.

    This is probably the best Silvio we've seen to date; he's got a great separation of muscle groups, he's holding his poses, and his conditioning is practically flawless. He has made a smooth transition as a professional, which you can see by the way he holds himself.

Silvio Samuel Silvio Samuel
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Silvio Samuel - Pre-Judging.

    He also tightened up his midsection, which was something that held him back a little last year. Although he has a great back, he still needs a bit of improvement in his lower back if he wants to make it up to par with the rest of his body. As well, if he's going to go to the next level, he needs to improve his hamstrings.

    Just as Phil Heath did, in order to add quality muscle, you have to give your body time to rest and regenerate. Silvio should take a little more time off to perfect his physique because he has amazing potential. He's got perfect round muscle bellies and has obviously taken time in the off season to make huge improvements with his trainer.

    He's one of the smaller competitors, but uses it to his advantage by coming in tight and ripped. He didn't lose conditioning or smooth out as the show went on.

dot Gustavo Badell dot

    He's the highest ranked bodybuilder coming into this show but has had a few lower placings in his last couple of outings. He tried to come in super shredded in this last couple contests, and ended up losing size. At the Olympia, as the night went on, his legs started to smooth out and flatten out, and he wasn't happy with his placings.

    Well, whatever he did to prepare for this show, it reminiscent of the Gustavo of old. His size, although a little blocky, will carry him to a very high placing. His waist looks much better than years past, and all he has to do is remember to control his breathing so his waist looks better and gives more illusion of better V-taper.

Gustavo Badell Gustavo Badell
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Gustavo Badell - Pre-Judging.

    Overall, he looks better this year. It was fun to see him taking his sweet time on stage while being called out with others and during the initial, individual posing. He was always animated, which gives a little life to the otherwise dull show. It was interesting to see him getting harder as the judging went on.

dot Moe El Moussawi dot

    SURPRISE! Who expected this guy to come out of the shadows and dominate? Tight. Tight, tight, tight. Glutes and hamstrings are absolutely shredded. His graininess reminds me of Branch Warren, and his conditioning is unbelievable.

    Not to mention, he also has decent thickness and size, which is rare in something that lean. Moe made it in the first group of callouts, the Cinderella of the competition. He came in unheralded, and made quite a big impression on the judges and the audience.

Moe El Moussawi Moe El Moussawi
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Moe El Moussawi - Pre-Judging.

    A little problem was that as the judging went on, he started to fade a little. Hopefully, he can come back to the night show more full and hard. I would say he was the second most conditioned athlete in the show after Phil Heath.

dot Toney Freeman dot

    What a shocker! Not being named in the first OR the second call-outs? Who would've thought?! The same guy won Ironman last year is getting the cold shoulder this year. It's hard to determine why. He's a big man, who's go great shape, a small waist and an excellent V-taper.

    Granted he has a tough year last year because of his poor Olympia placing, but his overall package has improved my leaps and bounds versus what we saw in October. His upper body looks really good. The glute/ham tie-in could be tighter, and looks like he's holding a little water.

Toney Freeman Toney Freeman
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Toney Freeman - Pre-Judging.

    If you look closely, you can see a little fold in his lower back which could be indicative of a tiny bit of water. All this means is that he needs to get drier by the night show. This isn't the best Toney we've seen, but it's still a great physique.

    It could be said that something in his prep for this competition didn't go his why which is why he's a little flat, and we're not seeing the perfect lines we saw last year.

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Finals
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dot Phil Heath dot

    No surprise here. "The Gift" comes in numero uno. He brought an unbelievable package to the show. This was definitely his best professional outing so far. He was new and certainly improved from the Arnold last year. This Phil Heath was large and in charge baby. He was massive AND conditioned, something rarely seen in the sport.

Phil Heath Phil Heath
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Phil Heath - Finals.

    This guy won the competition hands down from the front, back, side, top, bottom, and everything in between. He has striations in his glutes and hams, excellent muscle bellies and muscle separation. He did his homework this past year, and was rewarded accordingly.

dot Gustavo Badell dot

    The Feakin' Rican is given the number two spot. With an interesting posing routine, Gustavo brought an excellent package to the stage. He was dry, hard and HUGE. He played to the fans, constantly raising his hands, asking them to yell louder and louder for him. He's a crowd pleaser and a great performer, but he's also an excellent bodybuilder.

    He came in with more size than he did at the Olympia, it doesn't look like the made the same mistake of sacrificing size for conditioning; he brought both to this competition. Because of genetics and inherent bone structure, Gustavo has a relatively blocky physique, so it's hard for him to get a really perfect X-frame or V-taper, but he makes the best of what he's given.

Gustavo Badell Gustavo Badell
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Gustavo Badell - Finals.

    His waist could come down a little, but again, that could be just a genetic defect. His size and fullness were why he was awarded second, and I think that if he keeps the size and works on his conditioning, he could be a top 5 contender at the Arnold.

dot Moe El Moussawi dot

    One word: Wow. Just, wow. What a crazy surprise! This perennial unknown was awarded the bronze medal in tonight's fight. This is his best placing to date in a pro show, and he deserved it. Throughout the evening, everyone's conditioning was compared to Moussawi's.

    He's not a mass monster, so he makes up for it by coming in ripped, peeled, shredded and dry. If one had to pick a small fault, it was be his back. It could use a little bit of thickness, but that will come with time, muscle maturity, rest/regeneration, and a quality off-season.

Moe El Moussawi Moe El Moussawi
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Moe El Moussawi - Finals.

    It would be a step in the right direction if judges kept awarding high placings to competitors like Phil Heath and Moe El Moussawi. They are more aesthetics than they are freaks, and it would take the sport in a new direction, which would be beneficial.

dot Silvio Samuel dot

    The Marathon Man comes in at number four. Silvio had excellent form and shape. In my opinion, his only fault was that you could tell during his routine that he was trying really hard to keep his gut in. Other than this, he has made so much progress since his 2007 pro debut.

    When Bob said that Silvio improves for every show, he wasn't kidding. He's not the biggest guy, but he uses it to his advantage by having a small waist, excellent lines and proportions, and crazy dryness.

Silvio Samuel Silvio Samuel
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Silvio Samuel - Finals.

    He also showed himself to be a true professional by his stage presence and the way he carried himself all evening. All in all, look for this guy to do big things in the future. His potential is limitless.

dot Toney Freeman dot

    After not being compared in either the first or second call-outs, everyone everywhere was wondering what happened to the man who could not be beat from the front. He had (and hopefully will have again) one of the best X-frames and V-tapers this sport has seen in a long time. He's also got amazing shape and structure.

    According to an interview at the competition, Freeman admitted that he did, in fact, spill over. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it's used when a competitor has too many carbs, and after saturating his muscles with carbs, they start to spill over into the liver and he retains water, making him look smooth and/or flat.

Toney Freeman Toney Freeman
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Toney Freeman - Finals.

    What happened was that he sampled simple carbs in the morning and filled out for a while, but then was spilling over by the time the night show came around. Hopefully, he will have perfected his technique by the Arnold, and we'll see the Toney Freeman of old.

    I would still consider him a serious contender for the Arnold, because he will have learned he from his mistakes, and he's definitely taking this loss to heart ("The X-man" was relegated to 8th place after taking this show by storm last year).