Fully Armed With The Big Rock
Muscular Development|December 2021
No, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) didn't add the word Big to his name. Like in Star Wars lore, there is another. Another Rock, a bigger Rock. France's Morgan Aste, at 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds on stage actually should be renamed the Biggest Rock, right?

Well, unless in some grimy dungeon gym there lurks in the shadows an even bigger Rock, let's just assume this guy really is as big as they come. I was at the 2020 Arnold Classic, reporting with MD Online Editor Ron Harris and - as we do every year - we stayed at the official host hotel in downtown Columbus. Eager to get any news or first contact with the athletes or to arrange interviews, I try to hang around the lobby or restaurant area as often as possible. You frequently see Arnold (and his entourage) most days and best of all you get to see the competitors' faces, typically a keen indicator of their contest prep success, or lack thereof.

NEW FACES

One really great thing about the Ohio Arnold Classic, (the original, began in 1989, won by Rich Gaspari) is that even though the show is an invitational, the organizational committee for Arnold's team always go with one wild card and completely new face. Back in the '90s, they had complete unknowns such as the colossal Canadian, Greg Kovacs, reportedly the biggest bodybuilder in the world (at that time) and in the international magazine supplement ads. And sure, Greg didn't exactly storm into the first callout or even place in the top 10, but one thing it did generate was pre-contest hype and a ton of fan interest. When the invited competitor list was released for the professional open guys, I was pretty stoked to see the 2019 overall Amateur Arnold classic Champ Morgan Aste on the list. Even before that win, Morgan was a YouTube superstar with video titles such as The Biggest Bodybuilder on Earth and World's Strongest Bodybuilder earning him overnight global success, as well as being hailed as the new Freak on the Block. A pretty cool title if you ask me.

LOBBY TALK

Wandering through the hotel rotating doors, I immediately spotted at the other end of the lobby a literal giant. Clutching his seemingly tiny Tupperware containers that you’d imagine wouldn’t even remotely fill for a single moment a walking eclipse such as “MightyMorgan” (new nickname I just added for him). Towering over the hotel check-in, wearing a skin-tight jacket, his name all across the back and most noticeably some of the craziest traps I’ve ever seen bursting out through the top. Next thing I noticed were the veins on his triceps, through his jacket! And the thick cord vein running down each of his biceps bulging up through the jacket sleeves. This was some “Ronnie Coleman-level freakiness,” I was thinking. And the other telltale sign that proved to me that this was not all puffed-up bloat in the muscle, but Morgan at his absolute sucked down, was the face. Drawn and sunken, even the side of his neck, thick with veins. I introduced myself, the beast smiled, surprisingly friendly too I was happy/bloody relieved to say. “I’m very excited to see you on stage this weekend,” I told Morgan. He nodded, replying, “Merci, merci,” and we exchanged a few words with his broken English and I seem to recall even attempting some French which I’d hazard to guess meant I introduced myself as “My name is bicycle.” Morgan’s laughter, I’m guessing, confirming that.

HARDEST GUY ON STAGE

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