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The Best Bodybuilders of All Time

Want to know who the best bodybuilders of all time are? 

Well, Flex Wheeler, Dexter Jackson, and Franco Columbu are, to name but a few. 

But, there are seven other bodybuilders listed below that are considered to be even better!

So, let’s get stuck straight in.

Here’s a list of the best bodybuilders of all time. 

 

The 10 Best Bodybuilders of All Time

The list of bodybuilders and figures mentioned below has been compiled from various sources around the web, such as The Top Tens & Wikipedia.

These are the best bodybuilders of all time:

 

10. Flex Wheeler

Best Bodybuilders - Flex Wheeler

Kicking off our list of the best bodybuilders of all time is “The Sultan of Symmetry,” Kenneth “Flex” Wheeler.

Flex is a retired American IFBB professional bodybuilder who made his pro-debut at the IFBB World Amateur Championships in 1990.

He’s been described by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronnie Coleman as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. 

Although he never won a Mr. Olympia title, Flex did win several other prestigious competitions in the sport of bodybuilding, like the Arnold Classic, which he won four times, the French and Hungarian Grand Prix, the Night of Champions (now the New York Pro), and the South Beach Pro Invitational. 

Flex was also the runner up in 1993, 1998, and 1999 Mr. Olympia. In the off-season, Flex bulked up to 275lbs and competed on-stage between 212-240lbs. 

His nickname, “Flex,” was given to him because of his extraordinary flexibility, which he frequently exhibited on stage during competitions. 

 

9. Dexter Jackson

Best Bodybuilders - Dexter Jackson

Dexter Jackson, A.K.A. “The Blade,” is an American professional bodybuilder who made his pro-debut at the Arnold Classic in 1999. 

The former 2008 Mr. Olympia winners nickname was given to him because of his ridiculously low-body fat percentage, paper-thin skin, and timeless physique – it’s like he never seems to age!

As mentioned, Dexter is a former Mr. Olympia champion, and he’s also won more professional bodybuilding titles than any other person in the history of the sport. 

Some of his accolades include a record-breaking 5 Arnold Classic wins, multiple Grand Prix victories, and various Masters first-place finishes, all adding up to a record-setting 29 IFBB professional bodybuilding titles. 

Dexter is also one of only three professional bodybuilders to have won both Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic bodybuilding competitions and has also made a recording-setting 20 Mr. Olympia appearances. 

When he’s not competing, Dexter can get up to around 240lbs, trimming down to 215lbs to do battle on stage. 

 

8. Franco Columbu

Best Bodybuilders - Franco Columbu

The next best bodybuilder of all time is Franco Columbu. 

“The Sardinian Strongman,” was a two-time Mr. Olympia winner who was also known for being Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life long friend, training partner and business associate. 

Franco was recognized for his exceptional conditioning and symmetry and conquered many bodybuilding titles throughout the ’70s and early ’80s. 

He was also a competitive strongman and took fifth place at the 1977 Worlds Strongest Man. And, he set many powerlifting records, including a 525lb bench press, 655lb squat, and 750lb deadlift. 

On top of his successful bodybuilding career, the Italian strongman also authored numerous books on bodybuilding and nutrition, stared in several Hollywood films and became a licensed chiropractor. 

Franco was approximately 5’5″ tall and would compete on stage at around 185lbs. 

He was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 2001 and was given the Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 for his services to the sport of bodybuilding.  

 

7. Jay Cutler

Best Bodybuilders - Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler is an American IFBB professional bodybuilder and four-time Mr. Olympia winner. 

Cutler is known for having some of the best quads in the sport, measuring a whopping 30″.  

Throughout his bodybuilding career, Jay’s won countless titles, including the Arnold Classic, Australian, British, Dutch, and Romanian Grand Prix, and the Ironman and San Francisco Pro Invitationals. 

He consistently placed top five in almost every Mr. Olympia competition he entered and usually competed around 275lbs.

He won consecutive Arnold Classic titles in 2002, 2003, and 2004, and finally achieved his dream of becoming Mr. Olympia in 2006, after coming runner up to Ronnie Coleman four times. 

Jay’s been featured on the cover of various fitness magazines over the years, such as Flex, Muscular Development, and Muscle and Fitness, and has several ongoing business ventures related to the sport of bodybuilding. 

 

6. Frank Zane

Best Bodybuilders - Frank Zane

Arguably the most aesthetic bodybuilder on the list, Frank Zane is a three-time Mr. Olympia champion and the lightest professional bodybuilder on the list, weighing just 185lbs on stage. 

Frank Zane is an American former professional bodybuilder who is considered to be one of the greatest bodybuilders ever, because of his intense focus on symmetry and proportions. 

Zane made his professional debut at the Mr. Pennsylvania competition in 1961 and went on to claim his first Olympia title in 1977, followed by two more consecutive wins. 

Some of his titles include IFBB Mr. America, Mr. Universe, Mr. Keystone, and the NABBA Mr. Universe. 

During the off-season, Frank would reach approximately 200lb, cutting 15lbs to 185lbs to compete on stage. 

Frank had the second-thinnest waistline in Olympia competition history and is one of only three men to have beaten Arnold Schwarzenegger in a professional bodybuilding contest.

 

5. Phil Heath

Best Bodybuilders - Phil Heath

The fifth best bodybuilder of all time is Phil Heath. 

Known as “The Gift” for his premium genetics, Heath has some of the best body parts in bodybuilding and is perhaps the most complete package of any professional bodybuilder. 

Phil made his professional debut at the Colorado Pro Championships in 2006 and earned his first Olympia title in 2011. 

Fast forward nine years and Phil has seven Olympia titles to his name, winning every year from 2011 to 2017, which tied him with Arnold Schwarzenegger for the joint-second number of all-time Mr. Olympia wins ever, just behind Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman. 

Phil’s placed first at Mr. Olympia, Arnold Classic Europe, IFBB Iron Man, the New York Pro, and the Colorado Pro Championships, as well as several others earlier on in his career. 

During the off-season, Heath packs on the mass, reaching close to 300lbs. On stage, it’s normal for him to compete around 240lbs, and be utterly diced to the socks. 

 

4. Dorian Yates

Best Bodybuilders - Dorian Yates

Dorian Yates was an absolute mass monster in his heyday. 

The English former professional bodybuilder was known for his freakish size, shredded glutes and hamstrings, and high-intensity training.

Yates made his professional debut at the Newcastle Pro in 1991. From there, he went on to win the Mr. Olympia title six times consecutively, from 1992 to 1997, which gave him the fifth-highest number of Mr. Olympia wins in history. 

On stage, Yates weighed in around 275lbs completely shredded. During the off-season, he was known to bulk up to approximately 310lbs. 

Yates was given the nickname “The Shadow” because he would just turn up to professional bodybuilding competitions without warning and completely smoke the competition. 

He had one of the biggest backs in bodybuilding history and pioneered the mass monster era of the sport. 

Yates won the majority of shows he competed in during his bodybuilding career and published an autobiography titled Blood and Guts, to help aspiring bodybuilders with their training. 

 

3. Lee Haney

Best Bodybuilders - Lee Haney

With eight Mr. Olympia titles to his name, Lee Haney still holds the record, tied with Ronnie Coleman, for the most Olympia titles ever won. 

The American former IFBB professional bodybuilder made his professional debut at the 1983 World Pro Championships in Atlantic City.

A year later, he won his first Olympia title and continued to dominate the sport for eight consecutive years. 

During the off-season, Haney would reach a weight of around 260lbs and diet down to approximately 230-250lbs for competitions. 

Haney retired from the sport of bodybuilding at the age of 31, and has since pursued a career in sports training and nutrition, and still rocks one hell of an impressive physique at 55! 

 

2. Ronnie Coleman

Best Bodybuilders - Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman is an American retired professional bodybuilder and eight-time Mr. Olympia champion. 

Like Lee Haney, Ronnie won his eight Olympia titles back to back and still holds the record for the most Olympia wins ever. 

He also held the record for the most wins as an IFBB professional with 26 titles to his name, but that was since broken by Dexter “The Blade” Jackson.

Ronnie made his professional debut into the sport of bodybuilding at the IFBB World Amateur Championships in 1992. 

From there, he won his first Olympia title in 1998 and dominated until 2005, when Jay Cutler dethroned him. 

During the off-season, Ronnie would balloon up to around 320lbs and diet down to compete on stage between 287-300lbs.

His on-stage weight dwarfed his competitors, and Ronnie became known as one of the biggest mass monsters ever! 

His size can be attributed to the extreme weights he used throughout his career. He was known to squat and deadlift over 800lbs! 

 

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Best Bodybuilders - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Topping the list of the best bodybuilders of all time is Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

“The Austrian Oak” made his professional debut at the NABBA Mr. Universe in 1968. 

Two years later, he took home his first Olympia title and remained undefeated for six consecutive years, until 1976 when his best friend, Franco Columbu, took the crown.

Five years later, Arnold made a comeback and won his seventh Mr. Olympia title, announcing his retirement from the sport shortly after. 

In preparation for competitions, Schwarzenegger would bulk up to around 260lbs in the off-season, cutting down to an on-stage weight of approximately 235lbs.

Arnold has many accolades to his name, including the Mr. Universe Amateur and Pro titles, and the International and German Powerlifting Championships. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger is not only the best bodybuilder of all time, but he’s also considered to be one of, if not the most, important figures in the history of bodybuilding. 

 

Summary

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best bodybuilders of all time. 

All they guys on the list dedicated years of hard work and training to become the best of all time, so more power to them!

Here’s a quick recap of the best bodybuilders of all time:

  1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  2. Ronnie Coleman
  3. Lee Haney
  4. Dorian Yates
  5. Phil Heath
  6. Frank Zane
  7. Jay Cutler
  8. Franco Columbu
  9. Dexter Jackson
  10. Flex Wheeler

Who’s your favorite bodybuilder of all time? Leave a comment below.

Matt is a certified digital marketing consultant who's passionate about health and fitness. With almost two decades of lifting experience under his belt, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us around bodybuilding and supplementation. Deadlifts and barbell curls are his go-to exercises, and, when he's not writing about health and fitness, you'll find him in the gym busting out some arms!

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