The Perfect Physique - Netflix Film Review

Have you seen ‘The Perfect Physique’ yet, the film on Netflix?

I’m surprised I haven’t seen more being posted on social media about it. I know I’m not on social media that much, but still, I’m usually the last to hear about stuff, for that reason. But I have an interest, as I’m sure you do, in fitness films, and as a Netflix fan, it popped up as a recommended watch after watching Fittest on Earth and the Rich Fronin film, so I had to watch it (not forgetting ‘Pumping Iron’, but that’s been a classic for years).

If you have seen the film, see if you agree with my thoughts. As always, I love hearing from everyone on their thoughts, whether in agreement, or not, with mine.

Now going into watching this film I was well aware this would be a ‘physique’ movie, celebrating the pursuit of perfecting the male physique (although not sure why no females were featured, I think this would have been good for the promotion of the ‘sport’, and to keep a balanced view on some topics also). So, with that being said, and not being a ‘physique’ guy out and out, more a concerned citizen for his body and someone keen into optimal performance and health, I watched it all through my model / physique eyes.

The key things that stuck out for me that were hugely positive were:

Some of the stories were ace, showing the hardship some of the guys went through, rising through adversity, battling many personal and physical issue, I respected this element of the show a lot and think many can be empowered to change as a result of this. Most of the guys have simply worked hard for what they have got, an AWESOME physique.

They spoke heavily of sacrifice, hard work, discipline, tenacity, ignoring what others say and chasing your dreams. Again, I liked this, people have to see what ‘perfect’, or pursuing your goals really means, it’s not the best start in life, it’s not the right genetics, it’s not money, its hard work and tenacity, and all those guys were a product of that, big fan, high 5 here.

The training was shown to be intense, there was a clear message of train hard, with purpose, push the limits of the body, and you’ll get the reward, I liked that.

There was a lot of insight into the motives of each guy, and they were all different. Some I felt were healthy - and they had balance, some I thought were not - and whatever they did they would never be happy with whatever they achieved. I hope people watching the film can see the benefits of training, working hard and pursuing what you want, but not at the expense of being truly happy and doing things for the right reasons. Unfortunately, there were a good few things I wish the program had got right. In terms of the content of the film I felt it was like flicking through a 90s body building magazine, not much of the information was up to date or current, and I felt too many old school principals that’s are proven not to be true, were compounded in their broscience in the film. My points on what I wasn’t a fan of:

We all believe and talk about compound exercises being the staple of a training program, yet I can’t remember seeing a single compound movement in the film, apart from a partial chin up. This, for me, didn’t represent the basis of training, the staples, but instead focused on isolation exercises and the intensity the guys put into their training (which was a good thing). If this film is meant to inspire people to exercise and do the right kinda of stuff, for me the film failed here to lay down foundational principals in training.

I get the film was funded by a supplement company, but some of the advice on supplements was not based on up to date research, and fat burners were mentioned a lot, even as a staple supplement in many daily diets. I have never agreed with this message, I believe in food first and controlling the diet to maintain, lose, or gain weight, and the promotion of a fat burner for me is a broken prophecy, and thus I don’t feel the film lived up to its responsibility to ethically promote the right thing to the end user, which I know will be a lot of 25 and under individuals, whom are very impressionable. Fitness in the millennial era is huge right now, and I am very passionate about the right message getting out.

This leads me on to nutrition, an area that was very outdated in my opinion (or if you consult the nutritional research). For me the film compounded the confusion that exists in the world of nutrition today, that I fight daily. All the guys were asked about nutrition and had several chats about food and their diets, many of the opinions were quite different; high carb, low carb, moderate carb, tweaking things to be tight, staying lean, etc. there was no fundamental grounding to say “ultimately, body mass comes down to nutritional / calorie intake, so how much you eat has to be key”. One guy even said “what do you think is more important, controlling your calories and macros or carb intake”, seriously? I felt the film had a responsibility to lay down the facts here.

Most of the nutrition conversations were based on carb cycling, timing of carbs, and things that skipped the foundations. Again, based on the audience that are most impressionable, I felt the film didn’t do the ethical thing in grounding nutritional advice in giving people a credible starting point. The aim of this film wasn’t really to inspire the next generation of physique models, but to get people into awesome shape and sell supplements, surely? The reality is 0.1% of the audience will compete competitively at some point in their life, so for me a film of this nature has a huge ethical responsibility to get the right core knowledge out there to the bulk of the people watching, guys and gals of the real world.

This follows onto some of the conversations that were had in the film regarding nutrition, so many theories were completely untrue scientifically, proven time and time again as fact to be false, i.e. fasted training was discussed many times from many angles, all with the conclusions that fasted training is best as you will burn the fat, this is key they said (even the ‘pro’ prep coach). Now, as a result, we will have plenty of people doing fasted training but not addressing the core issue, eat less than you burn. Sure, do fasted cardio if you enjoy it, but it is NOT better than fed cardio, what’s key is burning more energy in a day than you consume.

I would have liked to have seen more good form in the gym, many of the gym scenes were of the athletes pushing themselves, and this led to poor form, which I know wains when you push the body, but if you are not contracting and applying tension to a muscle, you might not even still be stressing it, so is the rep even worth it? Again, I am coming from the perspective, as an educator, on the messages that the end consumer is getting watching the film, and I feel this could have been improved. If the aim of the film was not to do this, then fine, but I think it could have been improved.

Found it a bit too much at times all the high 5’s, training topless, cinematic moments, slow mo’s, grunting etc, again that’s just not something I resonate with, so that is purely a personal thing, I don’t train top off grunting, do you, and should others? I’d say it would put most people in the gym off, and you’d be ‘that guy’.

If someone would have looked over my shoulder watching this, I wouldn’t have known what to say, compare that to someone looking over my shoulder watching ‘fittest man on earth’, also on Netflix, I would have said “Dude, watch this, these athletes are incredible, watch….”.

Now please bear in mind I come at this film from the angle that if I was to make this film, what messages would I want to portray to the end consumer. What would I want them to know, take away, and be inspired with:

  1. I would want them to understand the key and true principals on nutrition
  2. Know what supplements work in terms of the research, and what doesn’t
  3. Inspire them with personal stories and show rising through adversity
  4. Show them hard work trumps all, despite who you are and your background
  5. Show the grounding principals in a training program
  6. Tell stories to show them they too can achieve what they want to

I felt the film did the inspiration part very well, but for me, failed on the delivery of the right kind of knowledge, especially when it came to nutrition and supplementation.

Now I’m sure many loved the film, I was so so, 6/10 for me, I’d personally recommend Fittest on Earth as the best fitness Netflix film to date (that’s in recent times, again ‘pumping Iron’ is legendary). Fittest on Earth 100% inspired me to kick as and do Crossfit and train harder, so for me that film delivered on its aim….. interested in what you think.… ?

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