Who Will Claim the 2013 Arnold Classic Title?

Team AMI/Weider experts Dennis James, Chad Nicholls, and Fakhri Mubarak give us their take on whom to watch and who might surprise us all before the night is over at the 2013 Arnold Classic.
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Ben Pakulski

ARNOLD CLASSIC HISTORY 2011, 10th; 2012, 4th

JAMES: Condition is everything for Ben. He doesn’t have the kind of physique that can carry him if he’s off just a little bit. He’s got overall size, there’s no question about that. But he has to be crazy conditioned to pull off the freak factor appeal and move ahead of the top guys. He needs to improve his back and arms. If he can match those quads, that will be a scary sight. He’s aggressive onstage and plays to the crowd, but if he’s not 100%, he runs the risk of not making the top six.

MUBARAK: Ben has freaky size. His legs are among the best in the world. Ben is a presence when he’s onstage. He’s confident and works the crowd. He comes in in pretty good condition but he needs to be peeled for his physique to make an impact. His lower body is a little more dominant, and once he brings up his upper body, he will fight for that No. 1 spot.

NICHOLLS: Ben has the potential to do some serious damage. From the waist down he’s simply unbeatable, and from the waist up in front shots he is definitely competitive with the best in the sport. His weakness has always been in his back shots. However, in this lineup, the truth is that he could lose the back shots and still win the show. What Ben has shown us at each contest is that he is getting better and better, and he is slowly but surely putting on size in the right spots. You have to think he is going to continue to improve. The key is conditioning. We saw a glimpse of what he is capable of at last year’s Arnold. If he brings that same conditioning or better, along with 5–10% more size in the back, he could be extremely tough to beat. In terms of sheer size, Ben will probably be the biggest guy in this lineup, so if he puts the combination of conditioning and size together as I know he can, I would not be surprised to see him win the show. But regardless, I have him in the top three.

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