As in all sports, bodybuilding has its legends athletes. They are very numerous but here is a selection of twelve of them who, in their own way, have marked the history of bodybuilding.
Here is the first part.
The American Steve Reeves will forever be an icon of bodybuilding. Despite a short career in professional bodybuilding, he won several competitions between 1946 and 1950, including the mythical title of Mr. Univers in 1950.
Almost 100 kg for 1.86 m, Steve Reeves embodied the power coupled with a beautiful line. In the Weider encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, it is mentioned that the ideal physique had to have the measurements of the neck, biceps and calves identical: it was the case for Steve Reeves with 46 cm for each of these parts.
Then he went on to become an actor and became famous for his role as Hercules in the cinema, notably with “The Hercules’ Works” in 1958. Steve Reeves was one of the best paid actors of the 1950s .
He will inspire many bodybuilders including Arnold Schwarzenegger who will pay tribute to his death in 2000. Steve Reeves was 74 years old.
Even today it remains an ideal to reach for many enthusiasts.
If there is one who did not like everyone else it was Vince Gironda.
The “Iron Guru” was a 1950s bobybuilder, especially known to enthusiasts.
Vince Gironda has developed many training techniques and questioned several dogmas concerning the construction of muscle.
Regarded as one of the best coaches he has contributed to the physical preparation of legend like Larry Scott, Arnold Scwarzenegger, Mohamed Makkawi etc. as well as Hollywood actors like Clint Eastwood etc.
An avant-garde ultra-dry athlete, he was known for his “Steak and Eggs” diet, a sort of cyclic ketogenic diet that contributed to his ultra-skinned physique for the time.
Proponent of heavy loads of BCAA, he said that the key to muscle growth was to maintain a positive nitrogen balance that is to say to be in a state of constant anabolism. BCAAs were heavily used by Vince Gironda many times during the day.
His training methods were revolutionary and went against everything that was done at the time and still today. For example, he questioned the effectiveness of the “sacred” bench press, but also the supremacy of squats for the development of thighs. He thought that squats were not effective for everyone and took into account the athlete’s structure to validate their effectiveness or not. Supporter of combined series, very short rest periods, maximum work in a minimum of time … Vince Gironda is probably the athlete who has revolutionized the preparation methods for bodybuilding.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is to bodybuilding what Bruce Lee is to martial arts, what Mike Tyson is to boxing: Arnold is the man who has popularized bodybuilding worldwide.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is from Austria, he is passionate about bodybuilding at the age of 13 years. He decides one year later to follow the path of the famous English bodybuilder Reg Park became an actor then fortunate thanks to the sport. He started competing and won in 1965 in junior, an Austrian strength championship then went on to win many Bodybuilding victories including the title of Mr. Europe in 1965. At 20 he became the youngest Mr. Universe of the history.
He meets Joe Weider who runs a bodybuilding press empire that invites him to compete in the United States. At the age of 21, Arnold moved to the United States with very little money. He won his first sponsorship deal with Joe Weider. He participated in many competitions and won the prestigious Mr. Olympia in 1970, he will win seven times!
The cult report of George Butler, Pumping Iron in 1975 will help to make everyone of a world so discreet and passionate. After his sports career, he will have a remarkable acting career with the cult film Conan The Barbarian in 1980, whose physical preparation pushed him back on the boards to win his seventh coronation of Mr. Olympia.
Many titles in prestigious competitions, a career as an actor, then a politician, a formidable business man … His films as Conan The Barbarian, Terminator, Predator, Commando etc. remain cults forever and have contributed to the explosion of the world of fitness. His political career, including his stint as governor of California, speaks volumes about his growing ambition. Arnold is the epitome of the American dream and he is the greatest bodybuilder of all time.
Franck Zane was born in 1942 (more than 75 years old today), holds a Master II in experimental psychology, he was also a teacher in chemistry and mathematics.
He won Mr. Olympia from 1977 to 1979. This athlete measured 1.75m for a competition weight of about 84 kg. Franck Zane, called “the chemist” is an atypical bodybuilder because he has established himself as a reference bodybuilding with a weight that has never exceeded 90 kg, he has won many competitions as Mr. World, Mr America , Mr Olympia.
He is an avant-garde bodybuilder who bet on aesthetics before mass. That’s why he is still a reference today for many practitioners.
As much as a physical like that of Phil Heath is inaccessible, as much as Zane can become an ideal to achieve, a quest for perfection.
That’s why today, more and more athletes are taking inspiration from him.