Back to aesthetics


The pecking order of the IFBB’s Classic Physique division starts with two veteran bodybuilders: Danny Hester and Stan McQuay. The debut competition of the new aesthetics-focused class the Muscle Contest Pro Physique this past March saw Hester place first and McQuay third.They both have their sights set on the inaugural Classic Physique Olympia in September in Las Vegas. Seeing Hester vs. McQuay II will be intense all along the Strip.

The judges will place emphasis on symmetry, balance, and classic posing. Weight restrictions have also been instituted to cap how big competitors can get à la the classic (and scaled-down) physiques of vin-tage bodybuilders like Frank Zane, Serge Nubret, and Steve Reeves and that plays right to Hester’s and McQuay’s strengths, not to mention their personal preferences.

“I’ve always been a classic bodybuilder because I wasn’t a mass monster,” says Hester, who competed in his first NPC USAs back in 1992 but didn’t get his IFBB pro card until 2013 due to a near decade long break from competition. “My strength was always in my aesthetics and symmetry, and luckily I had the round muscle bellies. But I’m an apple; I can’t really become an orange. Bodybuilding is a quest for never-ending size, no matter what. But with the new Classic Physique division, I don’t have to worry about getting bigger. These are the criteria that I have to stay within, so I can just focus on refining.”

McQuay echoes these sentiments. “It’s more about concentrating on quality muscle,” he says. “Because of my body type, I can focus more on detail work. I always do better coming down in weight than trying to go up and get bigger. And Classic Physique is going to bring more attention to the art of it as opposed to just the freak factor. Posing is now more meaningful.”


WEIGHT 180 lbs
BIRTH DATE Feb. 14, 1969

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS 2016 Muscle Contest Pro Classic Physique, 1st; 2013 NPC USA Championships, 2nd; 2013 NPC National Championships, 2nd


Monday Quads, Hamstrings (light)
Tuesday Hamstrings, Back
Wednesday Shoulders
Thursday Triceps, Biceps
Friday Chest
Saturday Cycle Repeats*

Steady-state cardio, calves, and abs are performed in a separate workout on all training days.

*Hester typically trains four to five days per week. “Whichever days I can’t train are my off days,” he says. “I never take more than three days off in a row.”


Machine Lat Pulldown*  4  12-15
Seated Cable Row  3  12
One-arm Seated Cable Row  2  15
Pullup  3  12-15
One-arm Lat Pulldown  2  12
Dumbbell or Machine Pullover  3  15

*Including two warmup sets.

Machine Lat Pulldown HESTER’S TAKE: “The machine we’re using here gives you a really nice squeeze at the bottom and a good pump. As you pull the handles down, it opens up—your hands are close together at the beginning of the rep and then wide apart at the bottom. You can’t get this effect with a standard pulldown bar. It’s almost like combining a close-grip pullup with a wide-grip pullup.”

Pullup HESTER’S TAKE: “I prefer a narrow grip because going too wide is not good for your shoulders. And a closer grip keeps the tension in the lats more. Pullups are like a pushup to me—I just jump on it whenever I can just to keep that conditioned look. And I like to stop a little short of failure to make sure all my reps are strict. I go about 75% of the way to failure on each set and then stop.”

Seated Cable Row HESTER’S TAKE: “Probably my favorite back exercise—my bread and butter. I like to use a full range of motion. I lean forward at the start to get a good stretch and lean back about 15 to 20 degrees past vertical at the end of the movement. What I’m trying to mimic at the end here is like when you’re doing a back pose onstage and you arch your back and it shows all of your Christmas tree in the lower back. If someone were to watch me, they might think it was really bad form, but it’s not. The so-called ‘correct’ way to do a seated cable row is just too much of the arms doing the work.”

One-arm Lat Pulldown HESTER’S TAKE: “You get a much greater range of motion compared with the two-arm version. I can actually get a better stretch at the top with the one-arm pulldown, and then at the bottom of the rep I can pull back, twist at the torso, and really hit those lower tie-ins.”

One-arm Seated Cable Row HESTER’S TAKE: “The foot position is like a dumbbell row. You have one foot down on the floor, which means you don’t have to put all that strain on the lower back. You’re able to go a little heavier without feeling it too much in the lower back. I also like unilateral movements because there’s always a dominant arm or leg. And if everything you do is bilateral, that dominant side is going to keep being dominant and the weak side is never going to catch up. One-arm versions of exercises are a great way to keep your physique balanced.”


WEIGHT 182 lbs
BIRTH DATE July 12,1973
2016 Muscle Contest Pro Classic Physique, 3rd; 2016
IFBB Salt Lake City Pro Classic Physique, 1st; 2011 IFBB
Sacramento Pro 212, 1st;
2010 Detroit Pro 202, 1st;
2009 Jacksonville Pro 202, 1st


Monday* Chest, Triceps Finisher
Tuesday* Back, Biceps Finisher
Wednesday* Quads, Hamstrings Finisher
Thursday Shoulders, Traps
Friday Biceps, Triceps
Saturday* Hamstrings, Quad Finisher
Sunday Off

*McQuay’s workout “finishers” consist of a single exercise for the body part listed performed with relatively light weight and high reps (four sets of 25 reps).


Hammer Strength Incline Press* 4 15
Incline Dumbbell Press 4 15
Incline Cable Flye 4 15
Dip** 3 To failure
Pushup** 3 To failure

 *Not including warmup sets. **Somewhere around 20 controlled reps.

Hammer Strength Incline Press McQUAY’S TAKE: “First thing I like to do is pull my scapulae back and hold them there the entire time through the movement. At the end I only go about three-quarters of the way up. I don’t want my shoulders getting too involved; I’m trying to keep all the tension on the chest. I also do a one-arm version to isolate each side.”

Incline Dumbbell Press McQUAY’S TAKE: I’m telling myself, expansion of the rib cage the whole movement. Because the minute I delate my rib cage, my shoulders take over. Visually, I try to keep my chest higher than my shoulders. As I’m contracting, I never let my chest drop. The angle on the bench here is gener-ally 45 degrees or less.

Incline Cable Flye McQUAY’S TAKE: “Make sure your hands don’t come too narrow as you initiate the movement. Really try to arc the movement as if you were hugging a barrel. You want to keep the hands as wide as possible to keep the shoulders from taking over. Don’t make this movement into a press.”

Dip McQUAY’S TAKE: “When I’m doing dips for chest, I try to hang over to the point where my chest is parallel to the floor. If you’re staying too vertical with the torso, it’s going to be hitting mostly triceps. And for chest, I don’t do a full lockout at the elbows. My depth at the bottom is around upper arms parallel to the floor.”

Cable Crossover (Bonus) McQUAY’S TAKE: “This exercise is all about a strong mind-muscle connection. You want to get a really tight contraction on each rep. Squeeze and hold it for one to two seconds.”