Compiling a list of top bodybuilders is no easy task. Since there is no way of objectively determining a winner in a competition, it falls to the judges and any article about the people who graced the bodybuilding stage.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger Obviously, no article on bodybuilders can go without mention of The Austrian Oak. A seven-time Mr. Olympia winner, Schwarzenegger has become the face of modern bodybuilding after continuing his pursuits of acting and politics. While all the men on this list are multi-Olympia winners, Schwarzenegger is the only one who retired from competition, and came back to win his final Sandow Trophy and his own Olympia qualifying competition, the annual Arnold Classic.
- Sergio Oliva After fleeing his native Cuba, Oliva carved out a distinguished bodybuilding career, winning the Mr. Olympia titles three times, including a victory over Arnold Schwarzenegger for his final Olympia win. Dubbed The Myth due to his physique, Oliva im his prime would have held his own against almost anyone else on this list and regulated any other bodybuilder to runner-up status.
- Lee Haney With a record eight consecutive Mr. Olympia titles against some of the best bodybuilders of any era, Haney is arguable the best one on this list. Perhaps because of his more low-key nature, Haney didn’t want to pursue more public avenues like Schwarzenegger did; had he chosen to do so, he may be the face of bodybuilding today. It was Haney’s reigns that brought back development and muscularity to the forefront of physique competition.
- Dorian Yates Yates was the first truly freaky mass monster to walk away with the Olympia title, something he did on six consecutive occasions. Earning the nickname The Shadow, Yates brought a level of muscle thickness to the stage that had rarely been seen before and only imitated since. His training philosophies and approaches also tended to go contrary to what other elite bodybuilders used made him equally legendary.
- Ronnie Coleman Tying Lee Haney for the most Olympia wins (albeit with some controversial wins), Ronnie Coleman took the thickness of Yates and the back development of Haney and combined the two into a nearly unbeatable combination. Coleman brought a contest physique topping nearly 300 pounds to the stage and once he turned his back to the judges, it was often all over.