WHAT DOES IT TAKE to be a champion, to become an IFBB pro, a member of the physique elite? It's a question often asked, but the answer usually dissatisfies those doing the asking. Novice and young bodybuilders want easy fixes; they want to cling to the belief that outrageously developed bodies are the result of secret potions or weird science.
The truth? There are no magic pills. What makes a superstar bodybuilder is found in the grimaces, snarls and superhuman efforts of the nine men in this feature. To these champions, every workout is an experiment in the limits of human potential. Pushing beyond the pain barrier, training the mind to become immune to the physical agony of moving enormous weight with perfect form, that's their mission. Each man must raise his personal standards constantly, fighting against himself, aware that any surrender to the pain will set him back in his goals. They must keep raising the bar, physically and metaphorically.
The sport's top photographer, Chris Lund, has a special talent for catching its superstars at the peak of their inner battle. Whether the image is of a scream, a grunt, a glare or gnarled muscle, the photos here reveal a will to succeed that's distilled and nurtured by each of these top pros. At contests, you see them onstage in oiled glory, but the real work is done in the realm of the gym--the theater of pain.
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