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Since his fifth place finish at the 2002 Mr. Olympia Contest, IFBB superstar Gunter Schlierkamp has been getting the attention he's always strived for. In the same year, Gunter went on to beat Ronnie Coleman at the 2002 GNC Show of Strength - securing his position as a top tier bodybuilder in the pro ranks. The question that I see popping up a lot is whether or not Gunter deserves all the recognition that he's been getting. Many say that his placings have been a gift and that he is only placing so high in the ranks because of his looks and fan friendly personality. Gunter obviously sells, and to give him high placings will help him sell even more - also, Gunter may be exactly what the IFBB needs to turn bodybuilding more mainstream. He is intelligent and well spoken and a good speaker - the powers that be know this and are taking advantage of this fact. The question remains - does Gunter deserve his placings?
Well - I won't deny that no doubt a few of Gunter's placings have probably been a wee higher than they should have been - but I do only mean a little higher. Did he deserve to be top six at the 2004 Mr. Olympia Contest for example? I might have had a couple of bodybuilders head of him, but in any case - I DO believe he felt to be top 10. From what I read, people go on about Gunter not even deserving to be in the mix! To me, this is ludicrous. Anybody who can come in shredded at 300 pounds with no major structural problems (enormous waist or gut, etc) should be top 10. At least based on the way bodybuilding has been judged since the early 1990s. If we were rewarding physiques for being smaller and prettier, people like Darrem Charles would be at the top - among others. You have the rare few like Chris Cormier who can be both huge and with good shape and symmetry, but that is a rarity in bodybuilding today - usually peak symmetry is done at a lighter body weight - those who build huge bodies like Markus Ruhl have a large skeleton to fill and usually not the prettiest genetic shape in the world. Bodybuilders do come in all shapes and sizes these days, so depending on what you're looking for, somebody will have it. What I'm saying is that GUNTER does have it! He's huge, shredded, and a good poser. Not necessarily the best in any of the three, but certainly enough to be in the mix. Let's examine Gunter's strengths in some more detail:
- Shoulders - He's got good caps for a big man - can anyone reasonably argue that?
- Biceps - His biceps might not have the peak of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but they definitely have plenty of mass and a large, full shape.
- Triceps - Yes, Gunter's triceps are lagging. I won't deny that. Seems to be frequent among many of the big germans - Markus Ruhl and Arnold both come to mind.
- Chest - I really can't see anybody calling this a weakness for Gunter - his chest is huge and shredded. Not necessarily the best in the pro ranks today, but definitely adequate to challenege any other top tier pro (although Dennis James, Markus Ruhl, and Ronnie Coleman all have him beat in this area).
- Quads - Gunter's quads are big and shredded. Full of deep cuts and detail. Definitely one of Gunter's main strengths!
- Hamstrings - Not necessarily a strength, but nothing to pick on here. They are fine given his overall size and structure.
- Glutes - This is a body part that would never have been judged in a bodybuilding contest 20 years ago, but today it most certainly is. His hamstrings / glutes tie in is fine - which is the main thing that judges can hold against certain competitors (Troy Alves comes to mind here).
- Calves - Gunter's calves are probably around 20 inches - huge. A bit high, but he is a tall man, and developing the legs in general are a lot more difficult. Not to say he shouldn't be marked down for a given flaw just for that reason, but I felt I should point that out.
- Back - As you may know, the Mr. Olympia contest is won from behind these days and has been for the past 20 years. Gunter's back is not a glaring weak point, but it is not up to the standard of many of the other top guys in terms of details - his back is big, but given his overall size it could stand to be bigger.
- Abs - his abs aren't like Shawn Ray's, but at the same time, abs are some of the most neglected in terms of judging weight. I'm not saying it should be like that, but that is how it is - Gunter's abs are ok, but it's not as though the judges would be worrying much even if they weren't. Ronnie is proof that you can have weak abs and still do extremely well thanks to your other strengths.
- Conditioning - Gunter is pretty consistent for coming into shows in condition. However, so far he has not managed to capture the form that won him the 2002 GNC Show of Strength and resulted in his excellent placing at the 2002 Mr. Olympia Contest.
But now let's discuss STRUCTURE. Gunter does not have a big waist! Everyone says this, but it isn't really the case. For a man whose chest is just under 60 inches in contest shape, having a waist with a high number isn't so bad when you think of it in terms of proportions. Gunter's waist is around 35" or so. Arnold claimed his waist was 33" at his peak with a 57" chest - Taking that into account, both Gunter and Arnold have similar ratios. What is the difference? The difference is how Gunter's lats look from the FRONT. His lats are relatively high and don't have that nice flowing V taper that Arnold's used to have (the result of originating near the waist and general genetic shape). If Gunter had lats like Arnold, he would not be hassled nearly as much by critics for his shape. He is not a "fridge" as has been said - at least not in my mind. He simply doesn't convey that classic V taper look. Neither does Jay Cutler - in Jay's case, the reason is because his obliques are overdeveloped and it prevents him from conveying the V shape. With Gunter, his highish lats and lack of smooth shape do it. The size is all there - just not the put in the most symmetrical places for some poses. Check out these comparisons of Gunter and Arnold from our interactive discussion forums:
I think that Gunter Schlierkamp beats Arnold in both of those poses. But as we all know, bodybuilding is about the complete package - that said, even though Gunter looks PHENOMENAL in both of those poses, he isn't quite so strong in all the rest...but still - taking everything into consideration, can anyone really deny that he is one of the top 10 best bodybuilders in the world? I sure can't. Argue if you will that some of his placings have been a gift, but no matter what anybody says, he is definitely a top tier bodybuilder in my mind. World class person and bodybuilder!
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