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Long gone are the days of the "classic" bodybuilding look - Wide shoulders, big arms, tiny waist, athletic legs, oozing health and vitality. Serge Nubret and Arnold (pictured above) was a prime example of this. The classic, flowing lines have vanished and sadly, possibly never to be seen again. From the mid '90's onwards, the sport of bodybuilding took a dive and plunged into a state of mass, belly freaks! Blame the drugs, the judges, the bodybuilders themselves, whomever...bodybuilding unfortunately became and has become a freak show for the wrong reasons. No wonder it's not an Olympic sport because one look at today's crop of top Mr Olympia competitors is a major turn off for the general public. Who wants to look like a 300+ lb ripped AND bloated gorilla!!? Watch the following video before proceeding to read the rest of the article... EUGEN SANDOW (1867 - 1925) Eugen Sandow, the "father of modern bodybuilding" began it all. He was the first true bodybuilder so to speak to earn a living from performing strength acts and posing displays. He paved the way for others to follow but would unfortunately turn over in his grave if he could see the state of current bodybuilding. Sandow displayed an amazing rock-hard physique which to this day still shocks people because NO protein supplements of any kind were invented back in those days, and more importantly.... NO DRUGS! Eugen Sandow developed his body by natural means (consistent hard training and diet ) with the help of good genetics of course. His physique exuded an incredible amount of muscle - wide shoulders, big arms, abs with a tight waist and athletic, muscular, strong legs. From head to toe, he was covered in muscle and his appearance was down to hard training and diet only.... No drugs of any kind. To see a list of amazing old-time 100% "natural" physiques watch the video below: Bodybuilding has obviously progressed over the years. I'm not going to go through each and every bodybuilder but I will choose a small, select few to prove my point that bodybuilding since the mid 1990's has horribly gone down hill. Melvin Wells (1919 to 1994), was a bodybuilder with outstanding genetics. That picture above was taken around the late 1940's, maybe 1949 and you can clearly see he had the "Sandow" mold - wide shoulders, big arms, decent chest, tight midsection and athletic muscular legs. A bit light on the calves (not blessed genetically in that dept. ), but overall, a pleasing, aesthetic physique which anybody today who enjoys training with weights would love to have. Melvin's physique is the type of body that the general public could strive to achieve. They would believe that a physique like Melvin's could actually be attainable without resorting to drugs. Let's jump from the 1940's to the 1970's now and take a look at the development of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Back in Arnold's prime bodybuilding days ('60's through to the '70's), he trained for mass and was huge at 6ft 2". He was one of the biggest bodybuilders around. He still maintained an incredibly tight waist at a bodyweight that fluctuated between 225 and 250 lbs. Arnold is considered the 'King' of all bodybuilders as he developed a physique which to this day has not been equaled. (This statement is obviously debatable). But in my opinion, Arnold had it all. He managed to build a body which carried mass with aesthetic appeal. Steroids however did play an important part in helping Arnold attain such development unlike Eugen Sandow, who built his body naturally. Steroids have played an important part in helping bodybuilders attain extraordinary levels of physique development. The following information on steroids, you, the reader, should find extremely interesting.... Anabolic Steroids were developed in the late 1930's. They helped stimulate appetite and increased lean, muscular bodyweight and strength gains. Throughout the 1940's it was common for Russian Olympic Weightlifters to be placed on steroid programs in order to get stronger and recover faster. In 1958, the drug Dianabol was developed and approved by the FDA for human use thanks to the U.S. Olympic Team physician, Dr. John Ziegler (1920 - 1987) (Photo below). This opened the doors for US athletes to take advantage of what the Russian's used. Dianabol may have been approved in 1958 but steroid use was still rampant in the 40's through to the 50's in the sport of weightlifting and possibly bodybuilding. By the 1960's it was common place for weightlifters and bodybuilders to be taking steroids. In Germany perhaps more so than any other country, anabolic steroid research and development was at its peak. So from reading the information on Steroids above, we could assume that bodybuilders from the 1940's, such as Steve Reeves could have possibly taken steroids? Regardless of whether or not certain bodybuilders from the 1940's onwards may have taken steroids, doesn't matter. This article is not about which bodybuilders took steroids, it's not about comparing natural bodybuilders with drug induced athletes, this article is about opening readers eyes to the fact that bodybuilding physiques today are much worse compared to the old school bodybuilders of yesterday. And yes, drugs are a serious concern. I'm clearly not an expert in the drug field, having been "natural" all my life (guilty of consuming Creatine and Protein Supps from time to time), but I think it's safe to say the drug use in the 1940s / 1950s would have been very little compared to present times. You just have to observe bodybuilders physiques through history to see that. Here are some reasons which have possibly led to the serious decline of Modern Bodybuilding and why it needs to change… 1. POSING Stupid Posing with arms flared out and extreme bending of the legs when hitting a side chest shot. Posing in general is just bad. The photo above displays bodybuilder Melvin Wells taken late 1940's and Ronnie Coleman from the late 1990's, maybe even early 2000's. Regardless of physique, which bodybuilder's front relaxed pose in your opinion looks better? Personally, I think Ronnie Coleman's arms out wide, ready for take off pose simply looks comical! Let's take a look at the classic Side Chest pose in bodybuilding and compare Arnold from back in 1974 to one of the current top bodybuilders, Kai Greene (although not competing anymore). Regardless of physique, which pose in your opinion looks better? Personally, Arnold's pose looks so much more aesthetic and professional than Kai's version. Kai's pose shouldn't even be called a 'side chest' because his chest is slumped down whereas Arnold's rides high into the sky. But Kai's posing style seems to be common among today's crop of bodybuilders. Bodybuilder's today could learn a lot from observing how classic bodybuilders back in the day posed. For side chest posing, you will NEVER beat Arnold! 2. FAKE TAN It’s hard to tell which bodybuilders are black and which are white? (not a racist remark just merely an observation due to the heavy use of fake tan). I would assume that fake tan was introduced for health reasons (potential skin cancer from too much sun rays) as bodybuilders in Arnold's day and even going back to the 1950's muscle beach days, trained and soaked up the warm sunshine. Another reason could be because of poor lighting at bodybuilding contests being too harsh and bright and thus washing out all the definition amongst competitors. Whatever the reason, in my opinion, the fake tan needs to either drastically improve or simply go. I much preferred the look of bodybuilders naturally created skin tones from basking in the sun, from back in the day, as it looked so much better on stage compared to now. 3. CONTEST LIGHTING Extremely bad – Is this why bodybuilders need such dark tans? This was discussed previously within point no. 2. 4. THONG ATTIRE Who the hell brought thongs into male bodybuilding contests? I'm not interested in seeing ripped glutes and couldn't care less whether or not a bodybuilder had striated bum cheeks!! The only person I want to see wear a thong is a sexy woman. The thongs need to be scrapped and have the Arnold style briefs brought back. But that's just my opinion. 5. MASSIVE GUTS! Most modern bodybuilders simply can’t do vacuum poses or even just hold in their stomachs. Maybe this is to do with today’s drugs and HGH use, I don’t honestly know. Back in the old days, you would never catch a bodybuilder with a protruding gut, even in the off season. Besides the drugs, I'm sure it also comes down to the lack of posing practice. Posing just isn't as valued in this day and age as it was back in the pre-90's. So now you have all the giant competitors at the Mr Olympia raising their hands in the air, walking about the stage with their guts hanging over their skimpy thongs. What ever happened to the good old Vacuum pose during posing? 6. RIPPED GLUTES When did we start judging physiques on how ripped a bodybuilders glutes are? I've also discussed this on point no.4. 7. MASS... MASS... MASS Modern Bodybuilders play the size game and leave aesthetics out – Arnold and Sergio had plenty of mass but also had aesthetics. Even while piling on the beef, they still managed to keep their waists under control. Today it's all about who is biggest regardless of whether the bodybuilder has a massive protruding gut! Are judging standards to blame or is it the bodybuilders? Let's take a look at Ronnie Coleman who has won the Mr Olympia 8 times equaling Lee Haney's record. Ronnie in his early days of competing had a tremendous, old school physique. He was simply unbelievable! In his early years of entering and winning the Mr Olympia he looked fantastic but within two to three years he began seeking mass and became one of the biggest bodybuilders ever. However, the price of attaining such mass meant he lost his old school aesthetics i.e. tiny waist. Instead he gained a massive, bloated looking belly which was obviously due to the consistently high level of abusive concoction of drugs he was taking to attain such freakish, cartoon proportions. It has since been reported that Ronnie Coleman's drastic body transformation was obtained with the help of guru Chad Nicholls. To see the change in Ronnie's physique from the early days to the present watch the video below: Now granted back in Arnold's day and perhaps from the 1940's onwards, drugs were part of the sport of bodybuilding but nowhere near the level that today's crop of bodybuilders take. Modern bodybuilding has therefore in my opinion become grotesque and drastically needs to change. I am sure that I am not the only one who has become disgusted with some of the top world level physiques who actually manage to qualify and enter the "supposedly" biggest bodybuilding contest of the year, the Mr Olympia. Today's physiques look unhealthy, unattainable and non-aesthetic. If we go back to the early 1900's right up to 1980's / very early 90's physiques, bodybuilders such as Lee Haney, Kevin Levrone (photo below) etc all had mass with class, they were aesthetically pleasing and looked healthy. There were obviously exceptions with some 90's bodybuilders...such as Jean-Pierre Fux... In certain photos Jean-Pierre Fux could look really good... And then you see this... Sadly the above photo including previous photos of Phil Heath and Ronnie Coleman clearly illustrates what bodybuilding has become. Anyone remember the famous squat incident of Jean-Pierre Fux that resulted from a Flex photoshoot? Jean-Pierre talked about this incident with Dave Palumbo on RX Muscle... Even old school bodybuilding legend, Lou Ferrigno looked terrible for his comeback in later years... The sport of bodybuilding today seems to be "Drugs First" followed by training. Too often now, competitors at the "Mr Olympia" compete with a glaring weakness(s) and just simply do not look complete or worse - they look awful and out of place. My first impressions of certain competitors have been..."That guy should compete in powerlifting instead of bodybuilding! ". The reason I say that is because they clearly don't have the genetics to be a top level bodybuilder, even though some people will argue "well... they must be good if they are able to compete at the Mr Olympia!! ". Not in my opinion. The fault lies, I believe, behind the scenes with organisations allowing so many bodybuilders to easily gain Pro cards and compete in the bigger, professional contests. Contest organizers these days allow too many competitors to enter the Mr Olympia. It should only be the BEST that compete at the Olympia. In the 1970's, only the best bodybuilders, top 5 I believe, competed at the final night show whereas now, its completely different. Strength Legend Larry Wheels (photo below) is a prime example of someone with an outstanding physique but has a glaring genetic weakness. His calves ain't going to win him a Mr Olympia trophy and if it does, what does that tell you about the Mr Olympia "Judging" standard? Larry in my opinion should focus on setting records in the strength world and forget about bodybuilding contests. He's getting into serious Arm Wrestling now which is good to see. One of the sad things about bodybuilding over the last 30 years or so is that competitors have resorted to either cosmetic enhancements or injecting oil into a bodypart to increase the size of a lagging muscle. Its shocking and ridiculous and incredibly sad that a bodybuilder would do such a thing to simply win a trophy. Lou Ferrigno became famous for getting calf implants and was still allowed to compete! And people are surprised that bodybuilding isn't an Olympic sport!? Crazy. Throughout the years on several occasions, bodybuilders have been awarded 1st place at the Mr Olympia contest when clearly they should NOT have won. Six times Mr Olympia winner, Dorian Yates springs to mind. He was one of the first high level bodybuilders to abuse the MASS GAME and take the sport in a new direction. Dorian in his early days had a very good physique. However, from 1993 onwards, he began pushing the limits and got much bigger. Unfortunately so did his waist! Throw in some badly torn muscles and he was lucky to have won six Mr Olympias. Dorian Yates talked to Joe Rogan a while back regarding his drug use and thoughts on why bodybuilders mid-sections have gotten out of control. The pursuit of size at all costs has led a lot of Bodybuilders in the last 20+ years to simply become a series of unattractive lumps and bumps. Old school bodybuilders such as Arnold and Sergio were HUGE but still carried serious mass with nice flowing aesthetic lines. If you were to create a silhouette effect of a typical bodybuilder from today, guaranteed they would look blocky in comparison to the likes of Sergio Oliva. This Superman cartoon makes me laugh because it resembles modern bodybuilding to a T! Today every bodybuilder looks the same. They all appear blocky with the wide waists and over developed massive thighs. Judging standards should be changed to help bring back vacuum shots and great abs again. Ralf Moeller had one of the best ab shots ever. His physique was underrated in my opinion. The picture below is a famous silhouette of a massive bodybuilder from the '90's. Can you identify him? With the introduction of "Classic Physique" bodybuilders competing within that class definitely have impressive physiques which rival the "Open" Mr Olympia competition, in my opinion. One fitness social media icon with an impressive physique and superb upper body development is Simeon Panda. His upper body represents what Open bodybuilding should be about. Bodybuilding legend, Brian Buchanan, probably had one of the smallest waists in Open bodybuilding history. His V-Taper was incredible and made for a dramatic audience shock when he performed the front double biceps pose with a vacuum. Melvin Wells nodoubt built his impressive physique naturally. Both men were muscular, strong and oozed aesthetic appeal - They both had impressive V-Tapers which is sadly what bodybuilding today is missing. The two photos of Sergio Oliva below are from the 1960's. Simply incredible. So which are you (the reader of this article) - Old School Bodybuilding Fan or Modern Bodybuilding Fan? The recent 2020 Open winner of the Mr Olympia contest was Mamdouh Elssbiay (Big Ramy). What do you think of his physique and how does he compare to previous winners of the Mr Olympia? I made the following video on Big Ramy back in 2015... Do you think Big Ramy will dominate the Olympia for the next several years? Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I'm always interested to hear what other people think about the sport of bodybuilding, so if you have any thoughts or opinions, please post your comments below. Thank you. I'll leave you with the following images.... The state of Modern Bodybuilding... Is Modern Bodybuilding healthy? Is it worth killing yourself for a Mr Olympia title? Keep training hard and remember... Keep it Old School! Strength Oldschool * Please note: Text article content is copyrighted and may not be used on another website! Readers do have permission to share this article (greatly appreciated) across social media by clicking the "share" button link. *
* This article by Strength Oldschool was initially written on Dec 3, 2016. It has now been updated as of 8 March 2021. * Please watch the video first before reading the article - The video only goes up to 2016 and does not contain footage of later Mr Olympia winners. In these modern times the ‘Mr Olympia’ is considered the KING of ALL bodybuilding contests. Who ever wins the Mr Olympia is simply known as the best bodybuilder on the planet. It’s a title that every single heavyweight competitive bodybuilder hopes to win. Before the Mr Olympia contest was created, bodybuilders back in the early days entered the ‘Mr America’ and ‘Mr Universe’ contests which were highly respected. If a bodybuilder won those contests you were considered the best. However in 1965, Joe Weider decided to create a contest that would bring together Mr America and Mr Universe winners to determine the greatest bodybuilder in the world. That contest became known as the Mr Olympia and to date, there have been only 16 winners. When it comes to ‘How to Judge a Physique’, everyone is different. But you need to ask yourself what are you looking for when it comes to an Olympian Physique. In my opinion, I’m looking for mass with aesthetic appeal i.e. Broad Shoulders, V-Taper, Tiny Waist, Big Arms, Medium to larg-ish legs (not too big), Big Chest & Back and no glaring weaknesses. If a lifter has an extremely poor body part, i.e. their calves…they do NOT deserve to be awarded the title of Mr Olympia. Everything needs to be in proportion. I have included a list of all the winners below – have a read and see if you agree with my own thoughts. Please respond back with any comments you have. Thank you. 1. Larry Scott Larry Scott (12 Oct. 1938 - 8 March 2014) won the contest twice (1965 & 1966). Tremendous physique. Arms and shoulders were out of this world and would even do damage still in today's contests. Larry was the first ever winner of the Mr Olympia contest. He unfortunately passed away back in 2014 but right up till his death, he continued to train and maintain a fantastic physique and still had incredible arms. He was genetically blessed with god given muscle insertions. His only real weakness was his clavicle length which he managed to overcome by developing one of the greatest shoulders in history. Superb at posing, he created many distinct artful poses. He carried mass with class as he developed and maintained an aesthetic physique. Larry Scott at 70 years old training... 2. Sergio ‘The Myth’ Oliva Sergio Oliva (4 July 1941 - 12 Nov. 2012) was known as "The Myth" for good reason – He was scary big with full, long muscle bellies all over. He had no weak points. It’s common for black bodybuilders to have poor calf development but Sergio’s calves were huge, taped at 20″!! Sergio won the Mr Olympia three times (1967, 1968 & 1969). It could be argued that he deserved to win a lot more times given his god given physique. Personally I think he could have easily won the contest another two times i.e. 1970 and possibly 1972 in my opinion. Maybe 1971 as well but not sure as Arnold looked massive in ’71. Sergio was definitely robbed of his prime bodybuilding days by Joe Weider as Joe banned him from competing at the 1971 Mr Olympia and then again in 1973 onwards! The battles that Arnold and Sergio could have had would have been tremendous. Sergio began as a weightlifter in Cuba but soon went AWOL to become a bodybuilder in Chicago. His proportions were out of this world with arms bigger than his head!! He oozed perfection and combined HUGE MASS with AESTHETICS. His forearms were bigger than most people’s legs! Larry Scott retired after winning the Mr Olympia in 1966 after seeing the rise of Sergio – Sergio was that good. He was incredibly wide, massive arms, huge chest and back, gigantic thighs but had the most tiny waist ever for a man of his proportions. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has stated that Sergio Oliva had the better physique. Sergio in my opinion will go down as the Top Two Greatest Bodybuilders Ever! Check out these fantastic videos on the legend... Sergio also had to battle serious injuries throughout his life from a bad tricep tear to being shot! Check out this footage... Check out the following article links on Sergio Oliva: 2001 Interview with Sergio Oliva By Brian D. Johnston How Sergio Oliva and Victor Richards Built Their Physiques by Jeff Everson Biscuit Oliva - Baki the Grappler - Based on Bodybuilder Sergio Oliva 3. Arnold Schwarzenegger Arnold Schwarzenegger (30 July 1947 - Present), even from a young age, was simply destined to become one of the greatest bodybuilders ever. He was blessed with the right genetics for bodybuilding, especially in the arms and chest department. Some people will argue that he was top heavy and had no legs or calves but in my opinion that’s bulls**t! In his early days his calves were relatively poor but he later changed that by training them harder. His calves improved so much that some bodybuilders believed he got implants!! Utter nonsense. One famous bodybuilder who did get calf implants later in life and competed with them was Lou Ferrigno! (Why Joe Weider allowed Lou Ferrigno to compete with calf Implants I do not know!?) Arnold always enjoyed life to the full but was extremely driven and focused and had his mind set on becoming the best bodybuilder in the world. If he had weak areas, he worked hard on those to bring them up. He had the mindset to do that, which not many people have. Arnold built a HUGE physique which at one point amassed over 250 lbs but still had a relatively tight, small waist which you don’t see in bodybuilders today. Even though he carried a lot of mass, he still looked athletic and graceful on stage while posing. Aesthetics is everything when it comes to bodybuilding but for some reason, in today’s contests, mass seems to be prevailing over aesthetics which is a shame. For more of my thoughts on "Old School vs Modern" click here. Arnold won the Mr Olympia seven times (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 & 1980) which in those days was unheard of. He also holds the record as being the youngest ever Mr Olympia winner at 23 years old. In my opinion, if Arnold hadn’t retired, he could have easily won right up to 1980 and beyond. That would equate to TEN Mr Olympia titles!! He had the genetics and mind blowing physique to easily do so. There was no competition for him as Sergio Oliva had been banned from competing in the IFBB. Arnold has done more for the sport than anyone else and in my opinion, Arnold along with Sergio Oliva are the Top Two Best Bodybuilders of all time! Some days I consider Arnold to be the best ever, other days I think it’s Sergio. I always seem to change my mind because every now and again I’ll come across a rare photo online showing Sergio or Arnold posing and I’ll be blown away. Check out these fantastic videos on Arnold... For true information on how Arnold Schwarzenegger really trained click here! 4. Franco Columbu Franco Columbu (7 Aug. 1941 - 30 Aug. 2019) was a powerbuilder. By that I mean he always trained heavy and was known for his strength. As a competitive Powerlifter he was much stronger than Arnold in the gym and pound for pound he became one of the strongest bodybuilders ever. It was Arnold that convinced Franco to try his hand at bodybuilding as that was where the money was to be made. Franco became one of the best bodybuilders ever winning the Mr Olympia contest on two occasions (1976 & 1981). He was extremely muscular, famous for his split upper chest development. For a short guy, his muscle insertions were unfortunately just as short. He did build an incredible physique but poor arm genetics meant that he was never going to have arms like Arnold. A well known and respected bodybuilder by the name of Danny Padilla also was short in height, probably was about the same height as Franco, maybe even a tad shorter. However Danny’s physique was miss-leading. Standing on his own, you would never think of Danny being so short. This was due to his long, full muscle insertions. But Franco on the other hand didn’t have these magical muscle insertions. However, he did build a solid, strong, muscular physique which in his prime, looked tremendous. His chest, abs, shoulders, especially his back were simply out of this world. His arms, even with his short muscle insertions, still looked fantastic as his biceps genetically peaked high. Franco Columbu demonstrated just how strong he was by competing at the 1977 World's Strongest Man contest which unfortunately resulted in Franco obtaining a serious injury which took many years for him to fully recover. His comeback at the 1981 Mr Olympia which resulted in him winning may have been controversial but given his serious "sport career ending" injury fours years earlier, in 1977, it was flat out amazing for Franco to be walking again, let alone training and competing! 5. Frank Zane Frank Zane (28 June 1942 - Present) was incredible. He won the Mr Olympia contest three times (1977, 1978 & 1979). Compared to the likes of Arnold and Sergio who were mass monsters (In a good way), Frank competed at a much lighter bodyweight and to this day he holds the record for the lightest man to ever win the Mr Olympia contest. Frank was like Greek sculpture, carved out of stone. His famous vacuum pose remains one of the most memorable classic bodybuilding poses ever. This is a pose that many current Mr Olympia competitors could probably not do due to the extreme mass they carry in the wrong areas i.e. belly and waist. Frank Zane really has inspired many millions of people across the world to get in shape. His physique signifies a body that natural lifters could aspire to achieve. 6. Chris Dickerson Chris Dickerson (25 Aug. 1939 - Present) is a one time winner of the Mr Olympia contest having won in 1982 at the age of 43. At that time, he became the oldest ever Mr Olympia winner. To date, that record was broken by Shawn Rhoden winning the 2018 Mr Olympia contest at the age of 43 years and 5 months. Chris Dickerson in my humble opinion, is not one of my personal favourites, but definitely not the least, to have won the Mr Olympia title. I do not believe he should have won in 1982 given his serious elbow problem. That's not to say he should never have won the title, he could have possibly won the Mr Olympia in 1980 or 1981 as I feel his physique was much better then. From an aesthetic point of view, Chris was incredible. He always had that V-Taper look and his legs were amazing especially his calves. Chris has said many times that he didn’t really need to do much for his calves as he was genetically blessed in that department. Some people are lucky that way. He was always conditioned for competition, never looked bloated and was very muscular. As I’ve said, his legs were one of the best back in the day but he clearly wasn’t blessed genetically in the chest and arm department. I always thought the shape of his chest looked odd. Compare his chest to that of Steve Reeves, and you'll understand what I mean. His arms were also too small for his frame. His biceps did not impress me one bit and I feel his arms in particular let him down. But what can you do with poor genetics? A Mr Olympia contender in my opinion must have great arms. If the arms are poor, their chances of winning should be minimum. Now I’m not saying that any competitor with great arms could be Mr Olympia - I believe that a Mr Olympia winner should not have any glaring weaknesses whatsoever. If a body part clearly stands out as a glaring weakness, then no, they should not be awarded the title. This is why Arnold and Sergio were so ahead of their time. They had no glaring weaknesses, if any, and every body part of theirs looked tremendous. Chris Dickerson had a superb lower body but unfortunately never had the upper body genetics to match. His back was tremendous no doubt but chest and arms were a major let down for him. I'd be curious to know what caused Chris Dickerson's elbow to become so large? I've read that's a side effect of abusing "Growth Hormone" but I'm not an expert. 7. Samir Bannout Samir Bannout (7 Nov. 1955 - Present) won the Mr Olympia title in 1983. He was simply the complete package. No glaring weaknesses and exceptional strong points such as arms, chest, back and legs. I always liked Samir’s arms, probably one of the best ever after Arnold, Larry and Sergio. His conditioning was exceptional in ’83 and he oozed aesthetics. Aesthetics is something that old school bodybuilders had in abundance. They carried so much muscle but still looked athletic and appealed to the public. They looked like athletes. I remember the first time I came across Samir, I was watching the DVD, ‘Arnold – Total Rebuild’ which was based on Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to competition for the 1980 Mr Olympia. Samir wasn’t as conditioned for the 1980 contest as he was for ’83 and sadly didn't place well. To read about the 1980 Mr Olympia and Mike Mentzer's comments regarding that contest click here. Overall, Samir Bannout developed an outstanding physique which will go down in history as one of the best ever. His back development was exceptional and has always been a focal point for Samir. 8. Lee Haney Lee Haney (11 Nov. 1959 - Present) was truly the last Mr Olympia to carry so much mass with great aesthetic appeal. Possessing wide shoulders with an even greater wider and thicker back, tiny waist with massive legs, everything in proportion (well mostly). Haney won the Mr Olympia eight times (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 & 1991). That was a record eight wins but not just eight wins….8 consecutive wins!! To this day, only one other bodybuilder has tied that record. However, Haney retired undefeated which remains a record itself. Does eight straight wins make Lee Haney the Best Ever Mr Olympia? Before Haney came along, Arnold held the record at six consecutive wins then retired undefeated (In Mr Olympia competition that is) to pursue Hollywood. If Arnold had chosen to continue to compete for the next several years up to 1980, he would have easily achieved 10 Mr Olympia wins as Sergio Oliva, his only real competition wasn't around to compete, due to being BANNED from the IFBB by Joe Weider. Haney’s record however was equaled back in 2005 by a bodybuilder called Ronnie Coleman. Unfortunately Ronnie did not manage to break the record in 2006 due to losing to Jay Cutler. Lee Haney competed at a massive 250 lbs bodyweight and developed one of the best physiques in history. He was known for his huge, wide back development. He always competed in superb shape, shredded to the bone. My only flaw with Lee Haney was his arms. I always felt his arms were genetically poor from a purely aesthetic point of view. If you were comparing Arnold’s arms with Haney’s, Arnold wins hands down, EASILY!! Haney’s arms were big and always looked great in photos when performing curls etc but when posing for a front double biceps shot, you could see the weakness lay in his arms. There was no good shock value when he flexed during a front double biceps pose, like you would see if Arnold flexed. Lee will forever remain one of the best bodybuilders to compete at the Mr Olympia. I do not see anyone beating Lee Haney / Ronnie Coleman’s 8 consecutive wins record for many years. I believe that record will continue to stand for years to come. 9. Dorian Yates With the arrival of Dorian Yates (19 April 1962 - Present) came ‘MASS MONSTER’ status!! Yates won the Mr Olympia in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 & 1997 equaling Arnold’s winning streak. Dorian ended up retiring due to injuries, but winning six consecutive Mr Olympia titles had propelled him into the history books. He was known as a hard trainer and believed in the training method of H.I.T. (High Intensity Training) which was the complete opposite of how other bodybuilders trained at the time i.e. "Volume Training". Photo below: A young Dorian Yates. In his first couple of Mr Olympia wins he was big but still remained tight with a relatively small waist. It was during the last few wins that Dorian packed on the BEEF competing close to 260 lbs!! His waist though in my opinion looked big and bloated. It seemed aesthetics were slowly going out the window during Dorian’s reign and that MASS status was prevailing. Photo below: A bloated Dorian Yates! Dorian was known for complete development - Chest, Forearms, Legs, Calves, Back etc, you name it. He was big and shredded all over during competition (well most). He was known for his rock hard dryness like he was carved out of stone and developed one of the best backs in bodybuilding history. During the mid to late 90's bodybuilders were obviously taking advantage of newer drugs and consuming far more than what previous generations took. Insulin and Growth Hormone were key drugs taken by the likes of Yates to become even bigger but unfortunately so did the bellies! Physiques were changing in the late 90's moving into the 2000's and not for the better. Dorian's reign ended on a bad note due to retiring from injuries. He was actually fortunate (due to bad judging / possible fixed contests) to achieve six Mr Olympia wins as he won two Mr Olympia's with a physique that lacked aesthetics due to a bloated belly and torn muscles. Like Lee Haney, I always felt Dorian’s arms were weak from a front double biceps point of view. There was no WOW factor like Arnold’s. Sure Dorian had the mass and the "Pop-Eye" forearms but his biceps lacked any aesthetic appeal. 10. Ronnie Coleman Ronnie Coleman (13 May 1964 - Present) won the Mr Olympia in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 & 2005. An incredible eight consecutive wins tying Lee Haney’s record. This record will not be broken in my opinion for a long time, especially when bodybuilders these days aren’t maturing to Mr Olympia level status until close to their 30’s if not older. In comparison you have to think about how young Arnold was when he won his first Mr Olympia at only 23 years old! He almost won it at 22 but Sergio Oliva put a stop to that. So given today’s radical drug regime and the fact that bodybuilders who are competing in the Mr Olympia in this day and age are in their 30's compared to how young Arnold was – what's the likely hood of a competitor winning eight times or more? With the heavy drug regime and training, can bodybuilders really compete into their 40's and still win Mr Olympia shows?....Of course but will they break Haney's or Coleman's record....Highly unlikely. Ronnie Coleman didn't start out as a "MASS MONSTER", he grew into that status. Early 90's up to 1997, he built an incredible physique which resembled more of an "Old School Bodybuilder" than a "Modern Mass Monster". He had a crazy V-Taper, wide shoulders, massive arms and a tiny waist. The only exception was calves as he was genetically poor in that area but everything else above looked amazing. Ronnie's "Old School" physique though wasn't winning shows (for some crazy reason) and it definitely wasn't placing him high at the Mr Olympia contests each year. So for 1998, he added size and at this point it wasn't too much but was enough to make an impact on the bodybuilding world and take his first steps towards "MASS MONSTER" status. I actually preferred Ronnie's physique before he won the Mr Olympia contest in '98. A lot of fans regard Ronnie's physique that year as one of his best, however, photos show that he suffered bad gyno which makes it more amazing that he won the Mr Olympia that year. Only two bodybuilders in history have won the Mr Olympia displaying gyno and they are of course Ronnie and Franco Columbu back in 1981. From the early 2000's onwards, Ronnie just kept playing the size game and piling on the beef becoming a true MASS FREAK. His waist grew as a result. Ronnie was also one of the strongest bodybuilders ever as he had a passion for lifting ‘Heavy Ass Weights!’ It’s a shame to see the way Ronnie looks now. I think all the years of heavy lifting and steroid abuse has taken a massive toll on his body. You can see the damage done to his arms and more. Ronnie will forever go down in history as one of the greatest bodybuilders ever… but does owning eight Mr Olympia titles make him the greatest? 11. Jay Cutler Now we come to a bodybuilder whom I have never been a fan of….Physique wise. Jay Cutler (3 Aug. 1973 - Present) won the Mr Olympia contest in 2006, 2007, 2009 & 2010. In 2008, he lost to Dexter Jackson. Jay holds the record for being the only Mr Olympia winner to have lost the title and then regain it back. In my opinion Jay Cutler has always displayed a boxy, thick waist type physique. Like Ronnie in his later years, Jay played the size game to battle Ronnie on stage and unfortunately didn't display much aesthetics but rather produced an ugly type physique. But as judging standards were poor and rewarded the mass monsters with bloated bellies it's not surprising that he won a number of Mr Olympia titles given that Ronnie Coleman's body was already in the process of breaking down from 2005 onwards. 12. Dexter Jackson Dexter Jackson (25 Nov. 1969 - Present) won the Mr Olympia contest back in 2008. He is one of those competitors who maintains aesthetics over mass which is great to see but believe it or not I’m still not a fan of his physique although I do prefer it over the current bloated, Mass Monsters of today. Dexter came close to winning the 2015 Mr Olympia contest which was good to see. He has officially retired now as of 2021. Dexter was always consistent and showed up in great condition for contests. His physique overall was very pleasing and athletic looking but certain things about his physique always bothered me...His calf genetics were poor (nothing can be done about that). His biceps to me always looked suspicious of synthol abuse. They just had that unnatural, bloated shape about them. Hard to describe and I'll admit, I could be completely wrong. So I'll say this, his biceps were not aesthetically pleasing. Another thing which gradually got worse over the years was his stomach. No where near as bad as the likes of Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman etc but at several Mr Olympia competitions, it was clear he could not hold his stomach in which protruded at times. This is not something you would see from back in Arnold's prime years but obviously Dexter had been using different drug concoctions which were far more advanced compared to the drugs available in Arnold's day. Dexter's abs would later look like a "Turtle Shell" and unfortunately become the focus / distraction of his overall pleasing physique. Despite the negative comments regarding Dexter, he still led the way and promoted the "Old School" type bodybuilders body compared to anyone else. I just think the type of drugs he must have been using including his advanced age (mid to late 40's) would have been detrimental to his physique. 13. Phil Heath Phil Heath (18 Dec. 1979 - Present) won the Mr Olympia competition seven consecutive times (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017) but narrowly lost to Shawn Rhoden in 2018 and thus wasn't able to tie the record for the most Mr Olympia wins with Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman. After taking a couple of years out he returned to the stage set for taking the title back in 2020 but lost, finishing 3rd place behind ex-champion, 2019 Mr Olympia winner, Brandon Curry. I've never been a fan of Phil's physique. He carries a lot of mass in his freakish arms and shoulders but for me overall, his bodyparts just don't flow nicely as early Mr Olympia winners such as Arnold and Sergio Oliva, etc. When Phil is relaxed, his arms look incredible. When you see him in the gym training, his arms are mind blowing but when flexed in competition on stage, his front double biceps pose for me provides no WOW factor at all. I can only describe this as similar to Serge Nubret whose arms looked magnificent when down and relaxed by his sides but once they were flexed overhead, nothing would happen. Photo below: Phil Heath most muscular at the 2020 Mr Olympia contest. Due to the immense size of Phil's shoulders he did have a nice V-Taper, but another pet hate of mine regarding Phil is his chest. His arms and shoulders seem to dwarf his chest. His chest actually reminds me of Chris Dickerson, it has a similar weird shape which isn’t aesthetically pleasing. But again, nothing can be done about that as its genetics. Phil's stomach in later years became a serious problem and that was why he lost to Shawn Rhoden back in 2018. Dexter Jackson was the same and if you don't believe me, feel free to check out the 2015 Mr Olympia online and watch the individual posing round. The whole point of bodybuilding is to build a beautiful physique in proportion, not have stomachs hanging out!! It’s disgusting to look at. Even when bodybuilders are back stage at a contest, they still need to control their abs as they are still being photographed and filmed. Heaths 2020 Mr Olympia comeback (photos below) proved unsuccessful and again, it was the result of his gut protruding! Heath was lucky to have finished in 3rd place. He also looked small compared to the winner, Mamdouh Elssbiay (big Ramy) and if Phil does decide to come back again in 2021, he'll need to pack on some more size to stand a chance against Big Ramy, but packing on more beef for Phil won't be a good thing if it goes to his stomach! 14. Shawn Rhoden Shawn Rhoden (2 April 1975 - Present) was the 2018 Mr Olympia champion defeating Phil Heath. It was a close contest but due to Phil's protruding stomach, Shawn was declared the winner which was heart breaking for Phil. Rhoden became the oldest competitor to capture the Mr. Olympia title last year at age 43 taking the record away from Chris Dickerson who won in 1982. Even Shawn Rhoden at past contests has had trouble holding his stomach in. However, in 2018, he brought back the athletic, classic lines of an "old school" bodybuilder displaying broad shoulders and a tight waist. Shawn winning in 2018 was a step in the right direction for the sport of bodybuilding as it promoted bodybuilders with classic lines and no protruding gut. Since winning the 2018 Mr Olympia, Shawn has been troubled with personal problems accused of raping a female bodybuilder in a Utah hotel room on Oct. 12, 2018. He was charged with felony rape, felony object rape and felony forcible sexual abuse. He has always denied this, pleading not guilty and allegedly passed two "Lie Detector Tests". He has since been banned from competing until the case is resolved. However, there are rumours that he may be preparing for a comeback at this years Mr Olympia contest but who knows? 15. Brandon Curry Brandon Curry (19 Oct. 1982 - Present) brought home the Mr Olympia title in 2019 at 36 years old. It was an interesting Mr Olympia as past winners Shawn Rhoden and Phil Heath were absent from the competition. Brandon in my book displayed an outstanding physique and was a worthy winner. Great arms, thin waist, excellent abs, no protruding gut at any time, he represented old school bodybuilding for me and easily was the clear winner. Unfortunately he wasn't able to retain the title last year in 2020 finishing in 2nd place. Personally I had him in first place. I just hope in the pursuit of more mass to compare better with Big Ramy, that he doesn't go down the wrong path and develop a "bubble gut" so to speak. He remains a definite contender to reclaim the Olympia gold in the near future. 16. Mamdouh Elssbiay (Big Ramy) Mamdouh Mohammed Hassan Elssbiay (16 Sept. 1984 - Present) is an Egyptian bodybuilder, known as "Big Ramy" who made history by defeating two past champions to become the 2020 Mr Olympia winner. I made the following video back in 2015 on Big Ramy... Big Ramy has always had the potential to win the Mr Olympia, he's just never showed up in condition until 2020 that is. Even at his massive size he still displayed a rather small waist which was controlled, no gut protruding. He dwarfed his fellow competitors so I think in 2021, if other bodybuilders such as Brandon Curry don't add more size and Ramy shows up conditioned still looking much bigger than his competitors, then I think it will be lights out and another easy win for Ramy. BEST MR OLYMPIA EVER? So who do I think is the best Mr Olympia ever?....It's a toss up between two bodybuilding legends... 1. Arnold Schwarzenegger 2. Sergio Oliva Their physiques from head to toe were perfection and they both easily dominated other bodybuilders within there era. Even to this day, their physiques would beat the current crop of bodybuilders in my opinion. The biggest bodybuilder should win but only if they still have aesthetics i.e. shapely lines, body parts which flow well together and no bloated gut! A Mr Olympia winner should not have any glaring weaknesses to his physique. Who do you think is the Best Mr Olympia Ever and why? Who didn’t deserve to win a Mr Olympia Title? Who should have won at least one Mr Olympia title? Here are some comments from people to the above questions... The Horror Kid stated... Big Bob stated... Mark stated... * Do you agree with the above comments? Voice your opinions below! * Please note: The "text content" of the above article is copyrighted and may not be used on another website! 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