Bodybuilding has gone a long way since its inception in the late 19th century in England. At the time, Eugen Sandow developed a spot of displaying one’s physique. Soon after, Canadian brothers Joe and Ben Weider brought the sport into the mainstream public. Who are the most famous bodybuilders today?
Over the years, the sport has evolved, and now we have competitions like Mr. Universe and ultimately, IFBB Mr. Olympia. With proper training, diet, and lots of dedication, amateurs, and professionals participate in these competitions.
Nowadays, bodybuilders are no less famous than actors, comedians, musicians, or athletes. They enjoy millions of fan followers. Some would say bodybuilders are the new breed of Hollywood celebrities.
Some of these bodybuilders even made the jump into movies, for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He started as a bodybuilder, made a career in Hollywood, and then even became a politician.
Today, we will look at some of the most famous athletes in the world of bodybuilding. These popular bodybuilders are celebrities, and can easily enter any other industry.
Some would say Levrone is the most underrated bodybuilder of all time. Famous for his muscular physique, he has some of the most incredible triceps and delts. He consistently impresses fans with his chiseled midsection.
In total, Kevin won 23 titles for pro shows, 2 Arnold classics, and 4 time Olympia second rankings. Yet, he has never won the prestigious Mr. Olympia, which is why some fans do not consider him one of the greatest bodybuilders.
In 2003, he retired because of a tricep tear, and then came back at the age of 51 to take a shot at Mr. Olympia in 2016. He placed 16th, but fans and athletes considered him the true champion because he competed at such an advanced age.
Born in 1975, Shawn is a Jamaican-American IFBB professional bodybuilder. He won Mr. Olympia in 2018, marking his best win in competitions. And he did it in a stylish fashion, defeating seven-time winner Phil Heath.
Rhoden made his professional debut in 2010 at the IFBB Europa Super Show. When he won Mr. Olympia, he became the oldest bodybuilder to do it, at the age of 43.
Fun fact: he was an aspiring soccer player in his early teenage years, but then started bodybuilding in 1992. After an amateur career ruptured by injuries and alcohol, he won his IFBB Pro card in 2010.
He ranked in the top 5 at Mr. Olympia in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, before finally winning the Olympia title in 2018.
Dorian Andrew Mientjez Yates
Born in April 1962, the English retired professional bodybuilder is among the most famous and popular bodybuilders. He is definitely among the greatest bodybuilders. He won Mr. Olympia bodybuilding contest six consecutive times from 1992 to 1997, ranking fifth among those with the most wins. Ronnie Coleman, Lee Haney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Phil Heath have more than him.
Back in the days, Dorian was famous for his wide and thick back. He started working out in 1983. Before retiring in 1997, he won every single contest he participated in from 1992 to his retirement. In 1997, he won Mr. Olympia in spite of an injury.
During his days, he supported a high-intensity training style of bodybuilding. His style was reaching maximum muscle stimulation through short and intense workout sessions instead of long and slow ones.
Following his retirement, he purchased Temple Gym and has a couple of gyms in the UK. He also launched DY Nutrition, a line of supplements consisting of whey supplements, pre-workout, and post-workout supplements.
Nicknamed The Blade, Jackson is a retired professional bodybuilder and winner of the 2008 Mr. Olympia contest. He amassed 29 wins from bodybuilding competitions in his career, winning more professional titles than any other competitor.
Jackson won the Arnold Classic for a record five times, in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2013, and 2015. In 2015, he also placed second in the Mr. Olympia competition.
Dexter retired in 2020, having accumulated a couple of records. For example, he has a record-setting 20 Mr. Olympia appearances. He is the only competitor to win the overall title in both Mr. Olympia and Masters Olympia.
Jay is a retired American bodybuilder and four-time Mr. Olympia winner. He won the competition in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. Only the guy above, Dexter Jackson, managed to win the bodybuilding competition in that five-year span from 2006 to 2010.
He wanted to be the best overall competitor in the sport. He entered inspired by his trainer Marcos Rodriguez and won his first title at the 1993 Iron Bodies Invitational.
During his career, he won consecutive Arnold Classic titles in 2002, 2003, and 2004. At the same time, he placed second to Ronnie Coleman in the Mr. Olympia competition four times before claiming his first title in 2006.
Leslie Kai Greene
Leslie is a retired professional bodybuilder, personal trainer, artist, and actor. He finished second for three consecutive years at the Mr. Olympia competition in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Following his last defeat in 2014, he retired as one of the best bodybuilders to never win the competition.
But he has won the Arnold Classic three times, in 2009, 2010, and 2016. In 2009, he released the documentary Overkill, showing his preparation for the Mr. Olympia competition.
Over the years, he discussed his technique of mind-muscle connection, saying you develop it over time by posing your muscle, but also paying attention to how your muscles feel. Eventually, you get to a point where your mind can read the feedback of your muscles.
Following his retirement from a modern bodybuilding competition, Greene has made a couple of movie appearances, including College Debts, Stranger Things, Crazy Fist, and a few more.
Born in July 1947, he remains one of the most popular bodybuilders of all time. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an Australian-American actor, producer, businessman, and former politician.
He started his career as a bodybuilder, winning Mr. Olympia seven times. He started weight training at the age of 15 and won Mr. Universe at the age of only 20 years. In 1970, he won Mr. Olympia at the age of 23, making him the youngest winner ever.
Following his retirement, and during his professional bodybuilding career, Arnold wrote a couple of books and articles on the sport. The Arnold Sports Festival and Arnold Classic are two events named after him.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is also a great example of someone who made the jump from bodybuilding to acting. He has a couple of big movie roles on his resume. And he then started a political career, running for Governor of California and winning it.
His movies and bodybuilding career have helped him amass a net worth of more than $400 million, making him the richest bodybuilder. Not bad, right?
Ronnie Dean Coleman
To this day, Ronnie remains the bodybuilder with most Mr. Olympia wins, tied with Lee Haney with eight. Arnold has seven, just for info.
What makes Ronnie stand out is his streak. He won the competition for record eight years in a row. For quite some time, he held the record for most wins as an IFBB professional with 26 titles, until Dexter Jackson broke it.
In 2001, he won Arnold Classic and Mr. Olympia in the same year, the first person to do it. Only Dexter Jackson has repeated that feat in 2008.
His success has led to many product endorsements and other career opportunities. He has made a couple of training videos and travels the world to promote products and his endorsements.
But the extreme weights he has used over the years took a toll on his body. Since 2007, he had to go under numerous injuries, including two hip replacements and many injuries trying to fix his damaged intervertebral discs.
Thanks to his trademark high-pitched voice, Coleman has popularized a couple of fitness catchphrases, including Yeah Buddy, Light weight, baby, and Nothin’ but a peanut.
When you get to play the Hulk in a movie, it probably means you have some strong physique, right? Well, that definitely applies to Lou Ferrigno, a fitness trainer, fitness consultant, retired professional bodybuilder, and an American actor.
No fence to Mark Ruffalo and other Hulk actors, but only Ferrigno actually looks like a Hulk, right? As a bodybuilder, he won Mr. America, two Mr. Universe titles, and a couple of more titles.
That helped him land the role in the CBS television series, The Incredible Hulk. He then reprised the role as a voice actor in a couple of animated and computer-generated incarnations.
Phillip Jerrod Heath
Phillip Heath is a seven-time Mr. Olympia winner, winning the competition from 2011 to 2017 every year. He is tied with Arnold for the third on the list of all-time Mr. Olympia wins, after Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman.
Heath entered the world of bodybuilding in 2002, and then in 2005 won the title at the NPC USA Championships. That helped him gain access to competition at the IFBB Pro level.
In 2008, he won The Iron Man show and Arnold Classic in 2007. At the time, he didn’t enter Mr. Olympia, saying he needed more time to improve his form. And once he entered Mr. Olympia, nobody could take away the title from him.