Bodybuilders maintain a strict training programme to achieve their toned physique, spending hours in the gym working out and building muscles.
Most of the top bodybuilders began weight lifting at an early age, going on to win competitions and maintaining their physique over many years. Read on to find out about the top 10 strongest bodybuilders in the world – in reverse order…
10. Phil Heath
Phil Heath, aged 38, won his seventh Mr Olympia title in 2017. The Seattle-born bodybuilder is nicknamed “The Gift”. While a student at the University of Denver, Colorado, he played basketball but began bodybuilding in 2002. At 5ft 9ins tall and with a contest weight of 240 lbs, he is famed for his large arms and tiny waist. He enjoyed his first competition success in 2005, winning the overall title at the National Physique Committee USA Championship.
9. Franco Columbu
Nicknamed the “Sardinian Samson”, Italian bodybuilder Franco Columbu, now aged 76, stands 5ft 5ins tall, with a competition weight of 185 lbs. Despite his small frame and growing up in an age when training methods and supplements weren’t as advanced, his large muscles astounded everyone. He made his professional debut in the Mr Universe contest of 1968. He won the IFBB Mr Olympia championship twice, in 1976 and 1981.
8. Flex Wheeler
Born Kenneth Wheeler, the 5ft 10ins, 240 lbs bodybuilder had a flawless physique at his peak in the 1990s. The 52-year-old has always been known as Flex. He won the IFBB Arnold Classic four times in 1993, 1997, 1998 and 2000. In 1997, he also won the Triple Crown title, which means winning the San Jose Classic, the Ironman and the Arnold Classic.
7. Roelly Winklaar
Egberton Etienne “Roelly” Winklaar, nicknamed “The Beast”, was born in 1977 in Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean region. He moved with his mother to the Netherlands at the age of five, following his father’s tragic death in a motorcycle accident. Although relatively small at 5ft 6ins tall, he packs plenty of muscle into his 285 lbs frame. His first competition was the 2009 NPC Arnold Amateur Championship. His best win to date is sixth place in Mr Olympia 2017. Now aged 40, he continues to compete in bodybuilding contests.
6. Kai Greene
Brooklyn-born Greene, aged 42, is nicknamed “The Predator”. He was raised in foster care and residential centres from the age of six and had a troubled time in school. However, his seventh grade teacher saw his potential and he was introduced to bodybuilding as a teenager. He turned professional on his 19th birthday. He is 5ft 8ins tall and his competition weight is between 250 lbs and 285 lbs. He won the Arnold Classic in 2009, 2010 and 2016.
5. Gunter Schlierkamp
The 48-year-old German has now retired from professional bodybuilding, after beginning training at 16 and winning his first competition at 18. Inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger, he won the 1992 European Amateur Championships. He trained under the legendary Charles Glass and finished above the eight-times Mr Olympia champion, Ronnie Coleman, at the 2002 GNC Show of Strength. At 6ft 1ins tall and weighing 300 lbs, he is an imposing figure, but has earned the nickname, “Gentle Giant”.
4. Arnold Schwarzenegger
The 6ft tall, 249 lbs bodybuilder was born in Austria in 1947. He began bodybuilding at age 15 and started competing at 17. He won Junior Mr Europe at 18 and went on to win six consecutive Mr Universe championships from 1970 to 1975 and his seventh in 1980. Years of intense training led to his toned physique and a successful career in Hollywood films, playing action heroes such as Rambo and the Terminator, after emigrating to the US in 1968. He went on to become Governor of California from 2003 to 2011. Now aged 70, he still keeps in amazing shape.
3. Markus Ruhl
German bodybuilder Markus Ruhl, 46, didn’t have an easy climb to the top, as he was also a car salesman before hitting the peak of his bodybuilding career. At 5ft 10ins tall and with a contest weight of 282 lbs, he is nicknamed “The German Nightmare”. He started lifting at 19 and won his first championship, the Toronto Pro, in 2000. His incredible physique continued to develop through additional muscle mass and he won heavyweight competitions such as the Bachgau Cup in Germany and the 2002 Night of Champions trophy.
2. Dennis James
Dennis James, 48, was born in Heidelberg in 1969, while his American GI father was stationed in Germany. He started bodybuilding as a teenager and was a seven-times Mr Olympia competitor. He won the NABBA Mr Universe Medium-Tall category in 1995 and the NPC USA Championship in 1998, taking the Super-Heavyweight and Overall titles. At 5ft 8ins tall and with a competition weight of 258 lbs, he was nicknamed “The Menace”. He continues to maintain his physique, even though he has retired from professional bodybuilding.
1. Ronnie Coleman
Ronnie Coleman is a true heavyweight of the bodybuilding profession and one of the most muscular and strongest men on the planet. At 5ft 11ins tall and weighing an impressive 300 lbs, he has a physique that not many bodybuilders can achieve. Now 53, he was born in Louisiana, USA, and graduated from university with a BSc in accounting in 1984. However, after joining the Texas police force, where he served from 1989 to 2000, he started working out at the gym, meeting competitive bodybuilders and power lifters. By 1989, he had begun competing and went on to have a successful bodybuilding career, winning eight Mr Olympia championships. He has won many titles, including the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in 2001. He retired from competitions in 2009.
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