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Hugo Rivera Reports On The 2005 Arnold Classic.

Hugo Rivera reports on what happened at the 2005 Arnold Classic and gives commentary on the placings.

The 2005 Arnold Classic Weekend was held on March 4-7th and was hosted by the city of Columbus, Ohio, as it is every year. In my opinion, this is the best bodybuilding/fitness expo in the industry.

Supplement companies, equipment manufacturers and anybody that has a bodybuilding/fitness related business comes to this weekend to setup their booths and show the fans the latest in supplementation and equipment.

Fans come from all over the world to meet here and check out the products, meet and take pictures of the bodybuilders, take pictures with the gorgeous fitness/figure girls, eat tons of protein bars and drink tons of protein shakes, check out the fitness/figure girls (did I already mention that? - my bad), etc...

From my understanding, around 100,000 people come together at the convention center in a huge celebration of fitness and health. Believe me when I tell you that you will never see such a spectacle like this in the States. I have gone to the expo at the Olympia, and while that is a good expo, it is nothing compared to this one.

What I Did At The 2005 Arnold Classic

I was fortunate enough to attend as Prolab Nutrition took me to work at their booth. I've been with Prolab now since 2001 as I have always used their products since their company started due to the high quality and unbeatable prices.

As a matter of fact, in the days when creatine used to be a super expensive item, Prolab was the first one to come up with the buy one/get one free Creatine twin paks. That was the first product that I ever used from them.

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In any case, I had the chance to work with the rest of the awesome Team Prolab members, like Stan "The Man" McQuay, beautiful IFBB Figure Pro Jennifer Searles, gorgeous top NPC Competitor Dneil Gordon, top NPC National Competitor Chris Cianciulli, and new IFBB Pro Patrick Richardson. The most exciting thing for me this year was that I had the opportunity to meet a lot of fans that have read a lot of my articles, bought my books and visited my site.

Hugo Rivera With Dneil Gordon & Jennifer Searles At The 2005 Arnold.

Thank you to all who came to see me as it was an honor to meet you. Also great was to meet again with one of my bodybuilding idols, Dave Draper, and be able to chat with him for a while. Also, I got to meet with's Big Boss "Ripped" Ryan DeLuca and his side kick "Weightlifting" Will Wiedenmann, who is the Web Content Manager for the site. Awesome guys these two.

Anyways, one of the reasons I was asked to write this article, was to express my opinions on the competitors for the men's bodybuilding show. While I was not able to attend the pre-judging, I did see the pictures and also watched the evening show several times on my VCR.

Before I say anything, however, I want to express my appreciation for all of the hard work that I know each of these guys put into their preparation.

Being a national level competitor is no piece of cake; I can tell you that. Imagine taking it to the next level and competing as a pro. At that point, you better be as close to flawless as humanly possible or else expect to be out of the top 5. Another factor to consider too is the fact that many of the guys that did this show, also competed at the Ironman two weeks prior.

It is extremely hard to hold on to a contest condition when you do back to back shows as due to the water manipulation, carb loading and dehydration tactics, the body just wants to bounce back and start retaining water and gaining some fat after the show.

It is extremely tricky and hard to be able to maintain a sharp condition two weeks after doing a show. But then again, that is why these guys are pros and the rest of us are mere mortals just watching in awe.

I would be happy to trade my physique for any of these competitor's physique just to look good for one day at the beach. Having said that, on with the commentary.

The Placings Along With My Commentary...

1st Place - Dexter "The Blade" Jackson

They don't call him the blade for nothing. Consistent as he always is, he showed up shredded, symmetrical and big too; try 230 lbs on a 5'6" frame cut to the bone with striated glutes. Unreal sight to see.

I really like Dexter because he is proof that if you want something bad enough you can achieve it, provided you are super determined and believe in yourself (a good support system like the one he has helps a lot too).

Back in 1991 he competed as a 137 lb bantamweight in a contest in Jacksonville. Fast-forward to 1997 and he is flat broke living in an apartment with no furniture and the wife working two jobs to support his career (that's a special woman).

In 1998 he turns pro and now in 2005 he is a force to be reckoned with and a household name. Congratulations on your win Dexter as you have the total package.

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2nd Place - Chris "The Real Deal" Cormier

One of the best bodybuilders in the sport today. He possesses awesome symmetry, size and great lines. Very classic looking physique with tons of mass. I feel that if he would have come in the shape he did in the 2004 Arnold Classic he would have taken it this year.

In my opinion, that 2004 condition was the best condition I have ever seen Chris in. By virtue of the fact that he is a taller bodybuilder than Dexter, Chris carries more mass on his frame. More conditioning and he would have been the champion.

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3rd Place - Gustavo "The Freakin Rican" Badell

A lot of props to Gustavo. Every year Gustavo comes in bigger and harder. I remember first seeing him in the 2002 Mr. Olympia and back in the day everyone was like "Gustavo who?" Now, he is in top of the game by ending 2004 with a surprising 3rd place at the Olympia and starting 2005 with a victory at the Ironman.

How much more mass can he pack on his 5'7" frame remains to be seen. Gustavo is a large human with more beef than a cattle stampede. The only advice I would give Gustavo is to keep an eye on the midsection if he chooses to get bigger. That is the only thing that could start to become detrimental to his physique as it will start to kill his symmetry, especially on the side poses.

If he can keep an eye on that (as I am sure he will since former IFBB competitor and nutrition expert Milos Sarcev is his trainer), who knows how far he can go.

4th Place - Lee Priest

Lee can probably make a million bucks just teaching others how to lose all the fat that he gains in the off-season in order to get hyper shredded as he always gets. Truth be told, I had Lee tagged for 2nd place. The man is unbelievable. He carries a ton of mass on his 5'3" frame (around 205 lbs shredded) and also possesses incredible symmetry.

Lee In The Off-Season.

He is one of the few bodybuilders that can get away with doing the Sergio Oliva hands over the head pose. Reason for this is because Lee has 22-inch guns!

I give Lee a lot of credit too as he was able to improve his appearance from the Ironman as he lost some remaining water in his quad area. Again, I am surprised with the 4th placing as I thought he should have come next to Dexter.

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5th Place - "Marvelous" Melvin Anthony

I am really a fan of Melvin for his awesome proportions, classic physique and presentation skills. His v-taper is unreal, sporting a wide back with a tiny 27-inch waist. He is a great entertainer and truly deserved the best posing award; a remarkable feat considering that Darrem Charles and King Kamali are really good at that as well.

Physique-wise, in order to place higher he will need to come in harder. If he can bring his conditioning to be like the one at the 2004 Night of the Champions to the Olympia stage, Melvin will improve his 2004 Olympia 9th place finish this year.

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6th Place - Darrem Charles

Darrem Charles, another favorite of mine, came in with a bigger package displaying the usual amazing amount of muscularity, hardness and definition that he always brings. His symmetry and sharpness are stunning. Also, he is another one of the great entertainers/posers in bodybuilding today and a great guy when you meet him offstage.

Sometimes I wonder what he needs to do in order to place higher as every year I see him improve. When he is told to get bigger he gets bigger and when he is told to be sharper he gets sharper. I personally had him at a higher placing than 6th.

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7th Place - Victor Martinez

When Victor won the 2003 Night of the Champions I said to myself that he was going to be a threat to the other pros. In 2004 he came back and won the GNC Show of Strength. Reason for that? Victor is a massive fellow! Not only is he massive, but he carries all the mass very well as he also possesses fantastic symmetry.

Only reason he did not place higher at this show is because he was not sharp enough. With Victor's work ethic and hard training (he does tons of heavy basic exercises), I envision him becoming top 3 in the world at the very least.

8th Place - Troy Alves

Awesome proportions and classical physique.

It's hard to criticize such a package as the guy looks awesome but I guess that due to the company he keeps in the pro ranks, he will need to get bigger while at the same time retaining his symmetry and condition in order to improve his placing.

9th Place - Mark Dugdale

This physique reminds me of Lee Labrada and Shawn Ray. Mark is a not a super huge guy, like a Gustavo Badell for instance, but he has, in my opinion, a perfect physique consisting of a nice amount of mass along with perfect proportions and presentation skills.

Very impressive how he started his first year as a pro by placing 8th at the Ironman and 9th at the Arnold. What does he have to do in order to improve his placing? I'm not sure. I am biased in this case as he has the level of development that I would like to take my physique to. He could get bigger but in doing so he could risk losing sharpness and symmetry.

I guess that if I would be on his shoes I would just concentrate mainly on getting as hard as humanly possible and on being consistent on every show. This is just an example of the hard decisions that the top pros are faced with.

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10th Place - Toney Freeman

Fantastic shape and great physique. Unfortunately, with today's high standards in the sport, he will need to gain more size to fill up his 6'2" frame. Watch out for this guy when he fills up that physique because if Ronnie weighs close to 300 lbs at contest shape not even being 6 feet tall, imagine how much mass this guy can potentially carry?

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11th Place - King Kamali

I love King's routines as he puts a lot of time and effort into them. The fans really appreciate that. I personally liked his 2004 Arnold Classic Routine though he got criticized for it.

Physique-wise, it was nice to see a jump in King's mass. He has been criticized in the past for coming the same year after year but this year he really packed some size on.

His conditioning for this year's Arnold Classic however held him back from a higher placing. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is hard to retain a contest condition after doing a show a couple of weeks ago.

Based on the fact that Kamali placed 5th at the Ironman with better condition than here at the Arnold, I have to attribute his 11th place to the contest re-bound effect. Watch out for the King when he is on again condition wise.

12th Place - David Henry

Great classical and symmetrical physique with good conditioning. Again, it is hard to criticize such an awesome hard as a rock physique with a tiny waist and awesome v-taper. Looks way bigger than what he weighs (believe it or not he is below 200-lbs).

I think David's consistency in showing up conditioned along with a tad of more size in the right places will take him to the next level.

13th Place - Frank Roberson

Another great physique with awesome symmetry. Also, provided a very entertaining routine.

More size and overall sharpness and his placing will improve dramatically.

14th Place - Art Atwood

This is one of my son's favorite. Art Atwood is a large human. He was easily the biggest guy at the show. He is also a pretty cool guy when you meet him. I feel sorry for Art because it takes a ton of hard work to achieve the amount of development he has. Yet, after winning the Toronto Pro, he has not been able to place well.

There are a few reasons for this. First one is the fact that in adding extra size, the size of his waistline increased as well; perhaps too much. He will either need to further increase the width of his lats (which are already gigantic), reduce his waist size, or a combination of both in order to better his symmetry.

Also, a harder condition will also help with his placings. I wish Art the best as he is a sight to see and I would love to see him place better. I have a feeling that someone who has the determination and ability to get that big will also be able to fix his symmetry flaws.

Don't count Art Atwood out of the game yet. With symmetry issues fixed, he will give a lot of people headaches come time for the Olympia.

15th Place - Idrise Ward-El

Idrise has a fantastic physique with very pleasing lines and symmetry. He was however sharper at the Ironman. As a matter of fact, the pictures that he submitted to two weeks prior to that event were very impressive.

With the sort of conditioning he displayed in those pictures he would have placed much better. Again, this just shows how hard it is to maintain peak condition when you are dealing with consecutive shows.

Hugo's Favorite Part of the Weekend...

Now that we covered the main event, I'll share with you my favorite part of the weekend. While the whole weekend was fantastic, nothing can top meeting for the first time, the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his side kick Franco Colombo (another one of my idols). Now, the story here is interesting so bear with me.

Prior to me going to the Arnold (I left Florida on Thursday), I received my advanced copy of my new book the Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook (coming soon to, which is to be released in the bookstores some time this week. Though I thought about taking the book with me, I ruled against it as I did not want it to get lost or damaged. Turns out that my good friend Lee McPeck, East Coast Sales Manager from Prolab Nutrition, took a copy with him for "show and tell".

Anyways, when Arnold was about to visit our booth, Rich Iannone, who is also with Prolab, tells me that it would be cool if Arnold could autograph my book. I loved the idea but then I realize that I did not bring my book! Well, I go to Lee McPeck and ask if he could please go back to his room and bring me his copy so that Arnold could sign it and I could keep it. I promised to give him a new book as soon as possible but I really wanted Arnold's autograph.

Lee was super cool and went to his room to get it; not an easy task as the Expo was packed! Arnold was due to come by 12:30 P.M. and no sign of Lee. I knew there was no way he could make it back in 15 minutes as the crowd was huge. Arnold was passing by the Prolab booth so by now I had resigned myself to no autograph. However, instead of coming into the booth, he passed us by and went to another one!

Arnold At The 2005 Arnold Expo.
Thanks To Will Wiedenmann For The Photo's!

Lee came back 45 minutes later with the book after maneuvering through a super crowded Expo Hall (Thank you Lee!). So a few minutes later all sorts of security are coming into the booth and Arnold comes in. I'm completely blown away by the whole scene. I shake his hand and introduce myself.

At the same time, someone grabs me by the shoulder and says "You look really good!" in a tone and accent that I recognized from my many times of watching "Pumping Iron". I said to myself, "there is no way", but when I looked, it was Dr. Franco Colombo himself!

We all took a picture together after that. The whole thing was so overwhelming that I forgot the whole deal about the autograph. As Arnold was walking away with his security crew, Rich stopped him, introduced me and asked if he could please sign my book (thank you so much Rich). So Arnold signed it and so did Franco! Later on that night I met with Dave Draper, and his lovely wife Laree, and he signed my book too.

Needless to say, I carried that book with me at all times and now it is safely stored away in my home office. So again, thank you to all who made that possible, including Arnold, Franco and Dave for kindly taking the time to sign my book. Means a lot to this fan.


So another Arnold Classic came and went. My energy is drained from the whole weekend but it's all good. If you are into fitness and/or bodybuilding, you need to make it at least once to the Arnold Classic as it is an experience that you will never forget.

Should Dexter Have Won The 2005 Arnold?

Yes - He Was By Far The Best.
No - Chris Cormier Should Have Won.
No - Gustavo Badell Should Have Won.
No - Somebody Else Should Have Won.

About the Author

Hugo Rivera is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, Sports Nutrition Specialist and Computer Engineer graduate from the University of South Florida. Hugo is owner of, an informational, free fitness and nutrition website.

Hugo is author of a self published bodybuilding e-book called Body Re-Engineering geared towards the natural bodybuilder and co-author of one of the most popular Men's Health book in the country (according to Barnes and Noble) called The BodySculpting Bible for Men and the very popular BodySculpting Bible for Women.

Hugo will also be releasing his new book called The Hardgainer's Handbook of Bodybuilding in March 2005 and also serves as a nutrition consultant to several professional football players and other elite athletes. Hugo serves also as business consultant to many personal training studios.

Hugo continues to publish several articles on the subject of health and nutrition in several magazines and websites and has been with Prolab for over three years. Hugo competes as drug free NPC athlete at the National Level and his core supplementation has always consisted of Prolab products.