Despite the fact that many people consider bodybuilders to be “too muscular,” the truth is that we are all a little envious of them. Whether you’re watching men or women compete in bodybuilding contests, you likely wonder how they got to where they are today and if you could possibly do it yourself if you give it a try.
While some bodybuilders have names people recognize, others do not. Still, people that keep up with this sport are familiar with many of the names and like to keep up with what they’re doing in their professional careers.
The bodybuilders who rely on skill and getting in great shape are the ones people tend to admire the most, in part because they rely on both looking good and having muscles that are the right proportion.
If you’d like to visit some of these professionals online to see what they look like and learn more about their background, it’s never been easier than it is today. If you’d like to learn about the top bodybuilders of all time, keep reading because below is information on 10 of them.
Perhaps the aspect that makes Dexter Jackson so unique from other bodybuilders is his age. At the age of 50, he is still planning to compete in the 2020 Mr. Olympia contest. Jackson has won a total of 28 professional bodybuilding championships and has even won the Arnold Classic five times more than any other contestant. He won the Mr. Olympia contest in 2008 and has graced the cover of tons of bodybuilding magazines since 1999.
Jackson is best known for his tight abs and for consistency in staying in shape year after year. He has competed in the Mr. Olympia contest a total of 19 times and is 5’6” in height. His weight varies from 215 lbs. for competitions to 235 lbs. off-season.
2. Phil Heath
Phil Heath was born in December of 1979 in Seattle, Washington. He won a basketball scholarship to the University of Denver and discovered bodybuilding in 2002 once he graduated from college.
Nicknamed “The Gift,” Heath won a total of seven consecutive Mr. Olympia titles from 2011 to 2017, and he even won his very first bodybuilding competition – the Rocky Mountain NPC USA Championship Northern.
Some of his many accomplishments include the 2006 Colorado Pro Championship, 2011 Sheru Classic, 2013 Arnold Classic Europe, 2008 IFBB Iron Man, and the 2006 New York Pro Championship. After his first event, he worked out enough to go from 185 lbs. to 215 lbs., then got down to 192 lbs. after the competition was over.
3. Lou Ferrigno
Most people are familiar with Lou Ferrigno, in part because he’s had a successful career as an actor after his bodybuilding days were over. He had a difficult childhood because he was skinny and sort of a nerd.
He also had some hearing loss due to an ear infection when he was younger. He liked to read comic books when he was young and he longed to be as muscular and fit as the characters he read about and saw. When he was 12, he started working out with weights and from then on, there was no stopping him.
Ferrigno was born in 1951 in Brooklyn, New York, and he won his first major award shortly after graduating from high school in 1969 – the IFBB Mr. America contest. The 1977 documentary Pumping Iron made him famous.
4. Flex Wheeler
Flex Wheeler was born in Fresno, California, in 1965. He was from a poor family and struggled in school due to his dyslexia. Although he didn’t do well academically, he excelled in sports, and he eventually started weightlifting and training in martial arts.
He has always said that he is a “martial artist first and a bodybuilder second.” He has won a total of 17 professional championships, including four wins at the Arnold Classic.
Some of his many accomplishments include the 1995 Ironman Pro Invitational, 1996 Night of Champions, 1993 Arnold Classic, 1998 Mr. Olympia, and the 2000 Hungarian Grand Prix, among many others. He won first place in many of these competitions and is well-known for his excellent physique.
Born in July of 1964 in Baltimore, Maryland, Kevin Levrone is often underrated as a bodybuilder but is well-known for his chiseled midsection. As a professional, he has won a total of 23 titles, including two Arnold Classics and others.
He never won the prestigious title of Mr. Olympia, but at the age of 51, he entered the contest once again in 2016. There, people admired him for his commitment and his courage to enter the contest despite his age.
Levrone’s many accomplishments include the 1992 Night of Champions, 1995 Grand Prix Spain, 1998 San Francisco Pro Invitational, 1996 Arnold Classic, and the 1991 NPC Nationals/Heavyweight. He won dozens more, but he won first place at these and several other events.
6. Lee Haney
Lee Haney is no longer in the bodybuilding profession because he retired early when he was only 31 years old. Nevertheless, during his career he won a total of eight Mr. Olympia titles from 1984 to 1991.
In fact, during the 1980s Haney was well-known in the world of bodybuilding, and he stands at 5’ 11” and weighs 260 lbs. His titles include the 1983 Night of Champions, 1979 Teen Mr. America Tall, 1983 Grand Prix Las Vegas, and the 1987 Grand Prix Germany, among many others.
Haney was born in November of 1959 and grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He graduated from Spartanburg Methodist College with a degree in youth counseling, and he lives with his wife Shirley and two children in Atlanta, Georgia.
7. Dorian Yates
Dorian Yates was born in 1962 in England and started lifting weights when he was 21 years old. During his professional career he had a total of 15 major contest wins, as well as two second-place finishes.
He’s won a total of six Mr. Olympia competitions and placed first in competitions that include the 1991 English Grand Prix, 1986 British Championships Heavyweight, 1994 German Grand Prix, 1996 Spanish Grand Prix, and the 1991 Night of Champions. He has won a total of eight Grand Prix contests in countries all over the world.
Yates is 5’ 5” and his competition weight is 275 lbs. He has produced numerous books and videos, including an autobiography in 1993, a workout video in 1996, and a book entitled A Warrior’s Story, which he coauthored, in 1998.
8. Jay Cutler
A four-time Mr. Olympia winner, Jay Cutler weighed a solid 275 lbs. at one point and has been considered to have one of the most aesthetically appealing and massive physiques in the business. A few of his first-place competition awards include the 1996 NPC Nationals Heavyweight and Mr. Olympia titles in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010.
He has made nearly 10 workout videos and even published a book entitled Jay Cutler’s No Nonsense Guide to Successful Bodybuilding. He is 5’ 10” and his current weight is around 260 lbs.
Cutler was born in 1973 and has graced the cover of magazines such as Flex, Muscle and Fitness, and Muscular Development. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is not only a retired bodybuilder but a successful actor and politician as well. He started lifting weights at the age of 15 and won the prestigious Mr. Universe title when he was but 20 years old.
In fact, he won this title a total of five times, as well as the Mr. Olympia title eight times. He came to the United States from Austria and has since become an American citizen. Not only has he had a successful bodybuilding career but he was also the governor of California and has acted in numerous movies.
Born in 1947, Schwarzenegger’s movies include Kindergarten Cop, Conan the Barbarian, Red Heat, Raw Deal, Total Recall, Running Man, and Predator. He had another bout with fame when he married Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan. They have since divorced.
10. Ronnie Coleman
Considered the #1 bodybuilder of all time, Ronnie Coleman had a 300-lb. stage weight at one point and won his first Mr. Olympia title in 1998. His other titles include 1990 Mr. Texas, 1997 Grand Prix Russia, 1995 Canada Pro Cup, and 1991 World Amateur Championships Heavyweight. He is 5’ 11” and has a contest weight of 285 to 300 lbs.
He also has a 60-inch chest and arms that are 24 inches around.
Coleman was born in 1964 in Monroe, Louisiana and played football at Grambling State University. He got a degree in accounting but didn’t find work after graduation so he began working at Domino’s, mostly for the free pizza. He later moved to Arlington, Texas, and became a police officer.
In fact, he remained a reserve officer until 2003. He is still one of the world’s most popular bodybuilders, for many apparent reasons.