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Review - 2006 Arnold Classic Pump Room DVD
Review by Matt Canning.
Veterans Memorial Columbus, Ohio   4th March, 2006

The DVD started off with some footage of Victor Martinez hitting some poses in what appeared to be the best condition I had ever seen him in. Next up Branch Warren took off his shirt and also posed a little as he was getting oil applied. He was also in amazing condition and was very full. Somebody asked Branch how much he weighed and he said that he hadn't weighed himself in six weeks.

What sounded like Flex Wheeler in the background said it looked like Branch was 20 pounds less than he was at the Mr. Olympia and Branch responded that he didn't think it was that much. Flex followed up by saying that it was a good thing (as in the weight loss improved his conditioning). Next Kenny Kassel interviewed Branch and Branch explained that he had been trying to bring up his upper body to match his legs which had previously been overwhelming. Next Branch did a brief photoshoot and then we were back to pump room action.
Some of the top pros competing at the show such as Ahmad Haidar and Victor Martinez were in the back pumping up. Well Ahmad looked to be in his usual respectable conditioning, I was definitely wooed by Victor's size and hardness.
At 5'9, Victor also has more stature than Dexter Jackson and Branch Warren and that is valuable in bodybuilding contests since taller men do have an advantage to a certain degree. At around 5'8 and above, this advantage will be present, but it only helps to a certain degree since at much taller than 5'10, a bodybuilder often has too long of a frame to fill out which is difficult. 5'9 makes it easier to fill out a frame without being dwarfed by some of the taller bodybuilders so it is sort of the best of both worlds.

Next up, a photoshoot with Victor took place where he hit all the mandatory poses. Interestingly, I felt he looked better in the footage that was shown previously. This may have been due to the lighting or other factors like that. He seemed to be lacking oil and also looked to have a lighter tan during this posing which I assume was due to lighting conditions.
Kris Dim was shown next in the pump room getting oiled up. He looked pretty good but it's hard to be impressive when compared to a peak Victor Martinez and Branch Warren. Kris pumped up his lats by doing dumbbell rows.
Next Lee Priest was shown pumping up, using bands to pump up. I don't think he was in his best condition at this show, although he said he weighed around five pounds less than he did at the 2006 Ironman Pro where he placed first. Pumping up with bands is something that Lee does at every show before hitting the stage.
Dexter Jackson was shown next and judging by what he looked like, I really don't know why he won the show. He looked shredded as he usually does, but I honestly feel that he won due to name recognition. He did not have the size or stature that Victor did, and Victor was not exactly lacking in conditioning either. Branch was more muscular than Dexter and in equal or better conditioning.
Chris Cook was next shown pumping up and looked ok but was clearly off for the show. His chest appeared flat and his midsection looked washed over.
Melvin Anthony was shown having his oil applied and liked like good old Melvin - tight waist and great lines. His size and conditioning were as they usually are and he can still improve in both of these areas. You have to love those aesthetics though.
Branch was shown again getting oiled up and his size and conditioning confirmed to me once again that Dexter should not have placed ahead of him. Branch was definitely more impressive and I don't know exactly where Dexter had him beat. When Toney Freeman was shown getting oiled up, he was also incredibly impressive and in real life he would be more impressive than most of the other bodybuilders due to his imposing height.

At 6'2, he has both size and height - a combination which would make him quite intimidating in person. When Toney hit some of the mandatory poses, it became obvious that he still had plenty of room on his frame for muscle. Somebody like Branch would be overwhelming their frame with muscle size, but Toney still had lots of room left. Regardless, Toney was looking great.
David Henry was shown pumping up next, and he was big and shredded for his height which appears to be around 5'3. Next Kenny did a brief interview with David and some footage of him was shown at the 2006 Ironman Pro. Based on the footage, it's obvious that David can compete successfully at the pro level, but I think he just gives up too much size to compete against the biggest bodybuilders due to his stature. Next David took part in a photoshoot and was looking to be in good condition going into the contest.
Troy Alves was shown in the pump room and he also chose to pump up with bands. Troy did a photoshoot next and looked every bit the classical sculpture and looked like he would have a good showing.
Victor Martinez was shown hitting some poses in the pump room and to me looked like the winner. It was his combination of size, conditioning, hardness, shape, and stature that gave it to him.
Mustafa Mohammad was shown next and he looked big and shredded and pumped up by doing incline push-ups. While he was not as shredded as he had been, his legs were still extremely freaky and his trademark chest and triceps were apparent. He also pumped up using bands.
Mustafa later went on to have some personal beef with Arnold himself over his contest placing which didn't go over very well. While Mustafa did look good, I think he would have placed higher with better conditioning. Some thought he didn't even deserve to place as well in fact. Ron Avidan of thought he should have placed one spot lower.
Darrem Charles was also pumping up with bands and followed up with a photoshoot. He was exremely shredded at around 5'9 and 230 pounds. Darrem has a huge back which really comes to life when he hits the rear lat spread. His glutes are always shredded which is pretty impressive given that he doesn't do any cardio.
One thing that I always notice about Darrem is that his upper arms are just slightly too short for his height. I think that takes away somewhat from his aesthetics in the same way it happened to Rich Gaspari. People would call Gaspari blocky when I think having longer arms would have changed that look for him.
While Darrem does not look blocky to me, I would say his arms are the only part of him that don't have the same long, majestic type of look to them. They are still huge and considered the best in the business by many. His conditioning is always second to none.
When Chris Cook was shown, it was again clear that he a bit off. Not much off - but enough to have his condition drastically affect his placings. His chest looked shallow but everything else was fairly full and he had his usual big arms. It's unfortunate he didn't nail his condition that season or else he would have placed higher.
More backstage footage was shown and Dexter did some more pushups. In 2002, I felt his chest looked a little flat at the Olympia, and to be honest, when walking around backstage, I still didn't see him as the winner of this show. I would have had him third after Victor Martinez and Branch Warren. All three looked very well though and I suppose the top three could have been in any order.
Victor was shown backstage pumping up with bands and was still looking incredible. I heard he looked even better at the 2006 Mr. Olympia, which is crazy. I did notice what I think was his pec tear a little, but if it was, it was pretty hard to notice. Victor himself said although it does interfere with his training now and then depending on the exercise and the February 2007 Muscular Development, that it doesn't look too bad on stage.
Gustavo Badell was shown pumping up next. What's funny is that he was around the same size as he was at the 1999 English Grand Prix. Or perhaps more appropriately, I should say that the main improvement was in his conditioning, not in his size.
*Condition goes a long way, although for Gustavo, he was at his peak at the 2005 Mr. Olympia contest. Gustavo placed fourth in this show behind three competitors who he beat at the Olympia, so it's safe to say his conditioning was off. Either that, or there is some degree of name recognition that comes to play for each specific contest, but he did look a little off. Next, Gustavo hit poses, starting with the front double biceps and going through the mandatory poses. He hit these poses for the photographer in a professional studio as did the previous bodybuilders mentioned above.
While he looked good, it was clear once again that he did not reach his 2005 Mr. Olympia peak. As most bodybuilders know, it is hard to reach your peak and be at your best twice per year. That is in fact why some of the elite bodybuilders like Ronnie Coleman and Gunter Schlierkamp only compete once each year. Jay Cutler decided after the 2004 Mr. Olympia to do the same.
Next Johnnie O. Jackson was shown pumping up with bands before a brief interview with Kenny Kassel. Johnnie explained that he felt he was a little off and some footage of him posing for the photographers was shown. While his hamstrings and calves did seema bit soft compared to previous versions of himself, his thighs were looking a bit bigger than usual. Also, when Johnnie hit the abs poses it became clear his midsection was sharp and tight.
Some more backstage action shown and Chris Cook appeared once again and his relative lack of conditioning looked apparent. Some of my friends went to the Arnold Classic in 2006 and the pictures they had with Chris Cook looked incredible. So although he may not have been stage ready he was still in very good condition relative to the general populace and ripped by most other definitions.
Next, Toney Freeman was shown being interviewed by Kenny. During the time of the interview, some footage of the 6'2 Freeman was shown posing and he was looking very well. His front lat spread was awesome. Given his size and height along with his small waist, it reminded me of Mike Christian's lat spread.
Some more backstage pump room action was shown, and Victor Martinez didn't look to have as much oil as he did in the previous footage. In fact, he didn't look as conditioned either which makes me question the timing of the two events. When Ahmad Haidar was shown, he looked to be in better condition as he previously did, and Troy Alves and Darrem Charles looked awesome as usual.
Next, the bodybuilders were called to the stage and the credits rolled.

Bonus Features:
Three interviews were featured in the bonus scenes, the first one being with superstar Lee Haney, who exuded confidence in everything he did. It was great to see him. Lee was always a very humble champion. Afterwards Kris Dim was interviewed and then Darrem Charles. Kenny described Kim as the world's #1 bodybuilder and Kris hit some poses.

Next Wayne Gallasch of GMV interviewed Darrem Charles who I also consider to be a great champion. Darrem said he brought his balance and size up which is possible I suppose, but I find Darrem generally brings the same package to the stage year after year (this is a GOOD thing). Some slight improvements are always good, but I admire Darrem for not taking it too far.
Overall Review:
This Arnold Classic pump room DVD was one of my favourites of the pump room collection so far, in large part due to the caliber of the competitors (as you can see from the pictures). The lighting and camera work was very clear which I am not so sure was captured in all of the pictures I took from this DVD using PowerDVD software. In 1989, Rich Gaspari said that he thought the Arnold Classic would become as big as the Mr. Olympia in Muscular Development magazine. Truer words have not been spoken. What a huge success this contest currently is, and I can't wait for the 2007 Mr. Olympia.

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