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What Is the Arnold Classic & What You Need To Know

Classic Arnold and his bodybuilding championships--wait, what?


Jessica Reyes


Dec 23, 2019

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If you think the Olympics are the biggest multi-sport event in the world, you’re wrong. It’s actually the Arnold Sports Festival, named after (you guessed it) Arnold Schwarzenegger! It’s an annual event hosted by the International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness (IFBB) at the Columbus Convention Center. 

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This year, the Arnold Sports Festival will take place March 1-4. The festival is setting record highs again with an estimated 20,000 athletes from 80 different nations. But, even with 75 different sports to compete in, the Arnold Classic is the headliner.

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What is the Arnold Classic?

Arnold Sports Festival Logo

Originally, the Arnold Sports Festival was called the Arnold Classic. The original Arnold Classic was a bodybuilding competition and weightlifting tournament, but as its popularity grew and more sports were added to the event, it eventually evolved into the Arnold Sports Festival. But the Arnold Classic is still an actual event at the Arnold Sports Festival! It’s just that it’s specifically the bodybuilding competition part of the festival--the event that started the festival in the first place.

What does a bodybuilding competition mean? Who wins? Well, each of the judges has been trained to appraise the key features of seriously ripped dudes: mass, definition, proportion, symmetry, and stage presence. Whoever has the highest scores in all those five categories wins the title of Arnold Classic champion. It’s a big deal--about the second most prestigious award a male bodybuilder could win, actually.

Strong man lifting heavy weights in front of a crowd
Image courtesy of Arnold Sports Festival Instagram
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But what about the Arnold Strongman Classic?

Man Powerlifting
‍Image courtesy of Arnold Sports Festival

Yes, I can understand that the names are really similar, but the Arnold Strongman Classic is a different competition than the Arnold Classic. As the “strongman” in the name suggests, this is a weightlifting competition--just like the ones in the original Arnold Classic (aka the Arnold Classic before it became the Arnold Sports Festival).

Each of the contestants is given these insanely heavy weights to lift and whoever could lift the most wins. But you could only use your hands to touch the weights! Anything else is considered cheating.

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What about the ladies?

bodybuilder bikini women
‍Image courtesy of IFBB

There used to be a women’s bodybuilding competition called Ms. International, but it was replaced with Arnold Classic 212--a physique competition for men 212 pounds and up. However, women could still compete in these IFBB Pro League sponsored divisions: Fitness International, Figure International, Bikini International, and Women’s Physique. Expect to see the buffest ladies you’ve ever seen strutting along in their bikinis.

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What about the Arnold Fitness EXPO?

The Arnold Fitness EXPO is the exhibition hall at the Arnold Sports Festival. By exhibition, I mean like over 1000 booths set up in a gigantic room with tons of businesses and organizations flaunting their fitness products and displays. Along with the booths, two stages in the exhibition hall host non-stop competitions and entertainment. It’s a must-visit for festival goers!

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Other Notable Events:

ifbb pro league in the carribean
Image courtesy of @ifbb_pro_league's Instagram

There are nine divisions in the IFBB Pro League that take place at the Arnold Sports Festival. They are the Arnold Classic, Arnold Classic 212, Classic Physique, Men’s Physique, Fitness International, Figure International, Bikini International, Women’s Physique, and Pro Wheelchair.

There’s also a Kids & Teens EXPO for children and teenagers. Mostly, it’s for youth sports competitions and family-friendly activities. Main Kids EXPO events include the Talent Show and Teens Fitness Pageant.

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Why is there so much “Arnold”?

Well, to be fair, it’s the Arnold Sports Festival.

Image courtesy of Medium

But, Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t start the idea of an Arnold Sports Festival by himself. Jim Lorimer, who was promoting the Mr. World contest at the time, invited Schwarzenegger to compete in Ohio. Since Schwarzenegger was such a prominent figure in the bodybuilding world at the time, Lorimer wouldn’t take no for an answer. Once Schwarzenegger won the title of Mr. World, he said he would return to Columbus to make Lorimer his business partner, which he did when he founded the Arnold Classic.

Remember, it’s not all about Arnold. Arnold Schwarzenegger and all the others started this festival to showcase a celebration of fitness for the public to watch. These are top-tier fitness pros that take pride in the fullest capabilities of the human body. If you’re interested, there’s still time to buy tickets! If you're looking to possibly move to Columbus, be sure to look at the homes for sale!

February 28, 2018
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