There have been tons of bodybuilders to hit the stage and change the sport as we know it today. Here is Vekhayn’s list of the 40 most famous bodybuilders!
- 1 – Arnold Schwarzenegger
- 2 – Rich Piana
- 3 – Aziz Shavershian (Zyzz)
- 4 – Sylvester Stallone (Rocky!)
- Rocky Had a Whole Montage About Geting Shredded and Dieting
- Sylvester Stallone Was Actually Pretty Known in The Bodybuilding Scene
- 5 – Ronnie Coleman
- 6 – Jay Cutler
- 7 – Franco Columbu
- 8 – Flex Wheeler
- 9 – Calum von Moger
- 10 – Frank Zane
- 11 – Phil Heath
- 12 – Dorian Yates
- 13 – Lou Ferrigno (The Hulk!)
- 14 – Eugen Sandow (Father of Bodybuilding!)
- 15 – Lee Haney
- 16 – Charles Glass (Godfather of Bodybuilding)
- 17 – Serge Nubret
- 18 – Kali Muscle
- 19 – Dom Mazetti
- 20 – Kai Greene
- 21 – Ed Corney
- 22 – Steve Cook
- 23 – Mike Katz
- 24 – Big Ramy (Mamdouh Elssbiay)
- 25 – Ken Waller
- 26 – Rich Gaspari (Gaspari Nutrition)
- 27 – Lee Priest
- 28 – Steve Alexy
- 29 – Dexter Jackson
- 30 – Terry Crews
- 31 – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
- 32 – George Hackenschmidt
- 33 – Sergio Olivia
- 34 – Shawn Ray
- 35 – Mike O’Hearn
- 36 – Sean Connery
- 37 – Tom Platz
- 38 – Chris Bumstead
- 39 – Dallas McCarver
- 40 – Mike Menzter
- 1 1 – Arnold Schwarzenegger
- 2 2 – Rich Piana
- 3 3 – Aziz Shavershian (Zyzz)
- 4 4 – Sylvester Stallone (Rocky!)
- 5 5 – Ronnie Coleman
- 6 6 – Jay Cutler
- 7 7 – Franco Columbu
- 8 8 – Flex Wheeler
- 9 9 – Calum von Moger
- 10 10 – Frank Zane
- 11 11 – Phil Heath
- 12 12 – Dorian Yates
- 13 13 – Lou Ferrigno (The Hulk!)
- 14 14 – Eugen Sandow (Father of Bodybuilding!)
- 15 15 – Lee Haney
- 16 16 – Charles Glass (Godfather of Bodybuilding)
- 17 17 – Serge Nubret
- 18 18 – Kali Muscle
- 19 19 – Dom Mazetti
- 20 20 – Kai Greene
- 21 21 – Ed Corney
- 22 22 – Steve Cook
- 23 23 – Mike Katz
- 24 24 – Big Ramy (Mamdouh Elssbiay)
- 25 25 – Ken Waller
- 26 26 – Rich Gaspari (Gaspari Nutrition)
- 27 27 – Lee Priest
- 28 28 – Steve Alexy
- 29 29 – Dexter Jackson
- 30 30 – Terry Crews
- 31 31 – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
- 32 32 – George Hackenschmidt
- 33 33 – Sergio Olivia
- 34 34 – Shawn Ray
- 35 35 – Mike O’Hearn
- 36 36 – Sean Connery
- 37 37 – Tom Platz
- 38 38 – Chris Bumstead
- 39 39 – Dallas McCarver
- 40 40 – Mike Menzter
- 41 Conclusion of The Most Famous Bodybuilders
1 – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger has to be hands down the most famous bodybuilder ever. I’m not even sure how some lists put him as #13 or something? This guy is literally the poster child, the literal ICON of bodybuilding. Pictures of him are EVERYWHERE and many would argue that he is the reason bodybuilding is so popular today.
I mean, that’s not even to mention how he literally became the Governor of California and was featured in countless movies. He’s literally the terminator! Also, Pumping Iron- a super famous movie about bodybuilding!
Also, tons of people follow the Arnold Blueprint to Mass, the best bodybuilding program out there still 40 years later!
But overall, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the most famous bodybuilder. He won the Mr.Olympia award at the age of 20 and continued to win tons of awards, write the arguably most important book for bodybuilding (The Encyclopedia), and spread bodybuilding across the globe with his unmatchable influence across the globe.
Even today at 73 years old, Arnold continues to be a big figure in bodybuilding and spread it around the globe. And because of that, he is #1 of the most famous bodybuilders.
2 – Rich Piana
Rich Piana is one of the most famous bodybuilders ever, I do not care what anybody says. I think most people say he wasn’t famous because he was super controversial, but the fact is- almost every modern bodybuilder will know who Rich Piana is.
I actually am a HUGE fan of Rich Piana, so call me biased- but what is there not to love about this guy? He genuinely cared about all of his fans and uploaded tons of videos giving advice and telling his fans how to succeed at everything in life, not only just bodybuilding but things like how to run businesses and make money.
Many people claim he was super controversial for his advice- but I completely disagree with those people. While his advice wasn’t always perfect, the core concept was still the same.
Rich realized that most of his fans weren’t putting on size because they just weren’t eating enough. So he told them to get in the gym, work as hard as they could for 2-3 hours, and eat as much as they could.
A ton of people hated Rich Piana because they claimed that people following his advice would put on fat with it. But, those haters cannot ignore the fact that those people also put on a ton of muscle, and most of the time way more muscle than their friends ‘healthy bulking’.
I think the people that really hated Rich Piana were just angry that he made it so simple to bodybuild. You lift as hard as you can, and eat as much as you can. He didn’t push stupid supplements or protein powders (in fact, he hated protein shakes!)
Regardless, Rich Piana left a huge mark in the bodybuilding community and still gets talked about today. He changed a ton of people’s lives and was one of the last YouTubers to actually care about his fans.
With a million subscribers on YouTube, and billions of views on all of his videos- he seriously left a big impact, and that’s why he’s #2 on this most famous bodybuilders list.
Rest In Peace Rich, we miss you. (The Rich Piana Death)
3 – Aziz Shavershian (Zyzz)
Zyzz is another bodybuilding legend that genuinely cared about his fans and was lost too soon.
I wrote really in-depth about Zyzz’s death in relation to his PEDs here. I also covered a little bit more about why he was loved so much in that article too.
Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘We’re all gonna make it’ or ‘Mirin’ brah?’. These are all common bodybuilding jokes said in the gym or on online forums, but they all originate from Zyzz or Aziz Shavershian.
You see, Zyzz wasn’t your average bodybuilding influencer, he was different in every way.
First of all, he was INCREDIBLY motivational and wanted all of his fans to succeed. Zyzz grew up being bullied hard in school, and he got a ripped body to avoid the bullying. He spent most of his time helping his fans get shredded like him and overcoming those bullies.
But second of all, he was a massive TROLL. You see- Zyzz was angry that women rejected him when he was a ‘nerd’- so he spent most of his days trolling women online and rejecting them for what they used to do to him.
Bodybuilding is a sport that does attract a huge group of people suffering from muscle dysmorphia and unfortunately, because of this, a lot of people are in that mindset.
Regardless, no matter who you are, you can all agree this guy was pretty funny. He spent most of his time motivating his fans and doing crazy dances. But he, unfortunately, lived a short life due to bad usage of PEDs.
At the end of the day, this guy was genuine and wanted all of his fans to make it and was very similar to Rich Piana in that regard. No matter who you ask, they will all know one of the most famous bodybuilders ever, Zyzz.
4 – Sylvester Stallone (Rocky!)
Most people wouldn’t call Sylvester Stallone a bodybuilder, but I am a huge voice for it.
Let’s be honest- a ton of people got into the whole bodybuilding idea from people like Rocky or Brad Pitt from fight club, not Rich Piana or Ronnie Coleman.
This is actually a huge myth in bodybuilding, most people think that people start lifting because of people like Arnold when usually it’s actually the opposite!
Plus, Sylvester Stallone had an incredible physique that many people even argue today was close to 70s/early 80s bodybuilding. While I disagree with some of those statements and do agree with the entire notion that he wasn’t a “huge” guy- people need to realize bodybuilding isn’t ALL about the size.
If we take a look at the father of bodybuilding, Eugen Sandow (who is later in this list by the way!), you will see a completely different world of bodybuilding than modern bodybuilding today.
My point is- times change, trends change, and not all bodybuilding has to adhere to what everybody else is doing.
Rocky Had a Whole Montage About Geting Shredded and Dieting
One of the most well-known scenes across the entire movie industry is Rocky’s shredding down and dieting scene. Start playing the rocky theme music anywhere, and everybody will know EXACTLY where it’s from.
And no matter how serious you take your bodybuilding standards, you HAVE to admit his physique is absolutely incredible and tons of people dream of having it.
Sylvester Stallone Was Actually Pretty Known in The Bodybuilding Scene
Furthermore, Sylvester Stallone wasn’t some ‘nobody’ in the bodybuilding scene as many try to make you believe. Which, to be honest, I think people discredit Sylvester Stallone as a serious bodybuilder because they’re somewhat jealous.
Truth be told, Sylvester Stallone hung out with Franco Columbu and Arnold Schwarzenegger ALL THE TIME.
He obviously took advice from them, even if they all had different plans for their physique.
At the end of the day, Sylvester Stallone inspired millions of people into the bodybuilding scene and had an incredible physique to back it!
And really, he is one of the most famous bodybuilders for good reason, EVERYBODY knows the Rocky theme.
5 – Ronnie Coleman
Goodness, gracious is Ronnie Coleman HUGE. I mean, considering he won the Mr. Olympia award 8 years in a row- he’s got to be doing something right.
This dude is almost the size of a real-life hulk, and some consider him one of the best bodybuilders to ever hit the stage. This guy’s physique is just jaw-dropping and incredible.
He knows how to pose, lands a perfect smile every time, and it just seems like every single muscle on his body is shredded as it can be. He is absolutely unreal, and he performed natural for such a long time too. EVERYBODY was jealous of Ronnie Coleman- wondering how he was putting on so much size and winning so many competitions?
His lats and glutes were incredible and are said to have won him one of the most competitive competitions in bodybuilding history.
Ever hear ‘LIGHTWEIGHT BABY!!!’ or ‘AINT NOTHIN BUT A PEANUT!!’- well you have Ronnie Coleman to thank for those phrases in the gym. These motivational shouts are common in the bodybuilding community no matter what gym you go to.
And like Flex Wheeler, Ronnie Coleman was also a police officer for a little bit. Imagine THIS GUY chasing you down to arrest you!
Everybody knows Ronnie Coleman, and if you don’t, are you really a bodybuilder? That is why he is #5 on the most famous bodybuilders list.
6 – Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler is known as the man who ‘dethroned’ Ronnie Coleman, so we will give Ronnie Coleman some redemption and place Jay Cutler after him on this list, haha.
Just kidding about all that, Jay Cutler is without a doubt probably one of the most famous bodybuilders at the time of writing this!
Jay Cutler is a 4x Mr. Olympia winner and currently boasts nearly 4 million followers on Instagram. He is probably one of the most prominent and famous bodybuilders right now, as he keeps an incredibly updated social media page and is ALWAYS sharing new content on his page talking about how to grow muscle.
Also, Jay Cutler has an incredible physique. I mean this guy just is the definition of ‘muscle’. In my eyes it is absolutely unreal how his abs look, it’s not that ‘small 6 pack’ you see from fitness influencers, it is just this massive wall of strength.
Plus, his shoulders are UNREAL. There is a good reason he was Mr.Olympia for such a long time.
Jay Cutler will go down in history as one of the most famous bodybuilders and for good reason, as he is pushing the sport to its’ limits.
7 – Franco Columbu
Franco Columbu tragically left us just about a year and a half ago at the time of writing this.
Franco was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best friend and appeared in The Terminator with him.
He is considered one of the best to ever do it. In fact, he was the first-ever to win the sub 200 lb division at Mr.Olympia and win the title in 1976. You also see him in a ton of photos with Arnold everywhere.
He is considered one of the strongest ‘pound for pound’ bodybuilders, meaning he had incredible strength for his low body weight. Many would also consider him the Chuck Norris of bodybuilding, just BA at it.
(By the way, he was actually stronger than Arnold!- with a 515 lb bench press at 185 lbs.)
Just as Arnold had one of the best chests ever, most will agree that Franco had absolutely unparalleled chest separation with crazy pecs.
Franco, will go down in history as one of the most famous bodybuilders in history. Fly high, Mr.Columbu.
8 – Flex Wheeler
Flex Wheeler is hands down one of the most famous bodybuilders to ever step foot on this planet. People even as I’m writing this post spend an endless amount of time debating his physique with Ronnie Coleman- as many people believe they have the greatest physiques right now.
Flex Wheeler is a great guy and has always been one of those guys that no matter what happens, he keeps pushing forward and stays happy.
If you read my post about the Flex Wheeler Leg Amputation you’ll see even though his leg was literally amputated, he has an incredibly positive outlook on life.
Flex Wheeler had an absolutely DOMINATING physique, he was an absolute monster- shredded in every single muscle you could think of. Flex wheeler on stage was a literal menace, you had to deal with him and specifically lift against him.
There was no ignoring how much work he put into his physique, if you wanted to slack on your lifts, Flex would catch you. Flex did not make mistakes in his training, and honestly pushed that era of bodybuilding further than ever before.
Judges and fans were absolutely amazed at the sheer amount of work Flex put in year after year, and he will forever be known as one of the most famous bodybuilders to ever hit the scene.
Ronnie Coleman and Arnold Schwarzenegger have both said Flex Wheeler is one of the best bodybuilders that has ever competed and he has won the Arnold Classic multiple times.
9 – Calum von Moger
Calum von Moger is a way newer bodybuilder, but he has certainly made a name of himself that won’t be forgotten.
In fact, his arm workouts are so popular I was forced to make an article on Vekhayn, the incredible Calum Von Moger arms workout.
Even after his repeated injuries, Calum Von Moger STILL brings an incredible physique to the table.
Most importantly, he uploads videos nearly every day about how to grow muscles the right way, the literal bodybuilding way. He doesn’t focus on sheer strength, but focuses on actually breaking down the muscle.
He is constantly involved in the community and won the Mr.Universe award.
Regardless of the fact he hasn’t won a Mr.Olympia award or anything, he has built up enough fame that most people know him in the bodybuilding community. And because of that and his constant contributions to the bodybuilding community, he will be one of the most famous bodybuilders ever.
10 – Frank Zane
Frank Zane is one of the most famous bodybuilders, and one of the first. He won the Mr.Olympia title in 1977-1979.
Frank Zane is known as the bodybuilder king of symmetry. He was an absolute freak about it it. If you’re looking for a bodybuilder that really likes having a ‘balanced’ body with correct proportions and being absolutely symmetrical- this is your guy.
Some argue that he is the best bodybuilder to ever step on the planet for his obsession with symmetry and proportions- it truly is the core concept of the sport.
Some people think that Frank Zane isn’t a ‘bodybuilder’ because he wasn’t absolutely MASSIVE like today’s bodybuilding pros. But people need to put that behind them and realize bodybuilding was just a different sport back then and it has evolved since.
With that in mind, Frank Zane will forever be a legend and one of the most famous bodybuilders, as he was a true ‘OG’ bodybuilder.
11 – Phil Heath
Phil Heath is one of the most famous bodybuilders in the world to date. He has won the 3rd most amount of Mr.Olympia titles- arguably the most important title in bodybuilding.
Phil Heath, to say the least, is absolutely massive. I mean, there’s not a really great way to describe this other than saying his shoulder is like the size of my head, LOL.
This guy won the Mr.Olympia title every year in a row from 2011-2017. (That’s when I started bodybuilding, I dethroned him obviously).
Also, he’s only 5 foot 9, which is the same height as me. So for all of you fellow ‘short-guys’ out there (how do people even consider this short?) just remember that Phil Heath is quite literally considered one of the biggest people alive and he’s the same height as us.
12 – Dorian Yates
Where do we even start? Dorian Yates is one of the most famous bodybuilders in the entire world. He won the Mr.Olympia title 6 times from 1992-1997 and if there’s one phrase to describe how he looks, it’s “tough as nails”.
This guy is absolutely massive and looks incredibly masculine. While a sharp jawline and face definitely swayed the ladies, it was his MASSIVE back that won him the title of Mr.Olympia.
Just look at this thing.
Even if you look at him from the front, his back protrudes from the sides so you can literally see his back while you’re in front of the guy. If that doesn’t define the word massive, I really don’t know what does.
The day I’m able to look like that is the day I could finally be happy with my body.
But many people comment on how developed his ‘lower back’ muscle is. They say it looks like a Christmas tree- and rightfully so.
Needless to say, Dorian Yates will forever be known as one of the most famous bodybuilders. Even people at my gym still talk about him and his size allll the time.
13 – Lou Ferrigno (The Hulk!)
Lou Ferrigno is a name EVERY bodybuilder should know. Doesn’t ring a bell? Remember who was training against Arnold in the movie Pumping Iron? Yea, him!
In fact, that famous bodybuilding movie made Lou Ferrigno famous. And all of us who have watched the movie ALL know how nervous we were in the last scene where Arnold and Lou Ferrigno were facing off against each other.
Now, Lou Ferrigno was already on track to being one of the most famous bodybuilders just due to his competitive nature and feature in the movie.
But, Lou Ferrigno later became the actor for the Incredible Hulk and cemented his foundation as one of the most famous bodybuilders.
Regardless, we all have to admire his motivation and competition in the match. As much as I hate competition, it always pushes everybody in the industry a bit harder. If you’ve seen the movie, you know it even caused Arnold to start worrying a bit, which in the end made him train harder and get a bigger physique.
Lou Ferrigno was a big guy and loved the sport, and now even those that haven’t seen Pumping Iron (i mean everybody has seen it right?) know him from the hulk making him one of the most famous bodybuilders of all time.
14 – Eugen Sandow (Father of Bodybuilding!)
Eugen Sandow is known as the father of bodybuilding. In fact, the post I wrote about his diet is one of the most famous posts on my website.
Something most people don’t realize is that Eugen Sandow was HUGE for his time. Back then, they didn’t have IFBB or Mr.Olympia, nor commercial gyms as we know them today.
For us today, we might see him as just ‘buff’ or ‘above average’- but back then he was our modern-day Arnold.
Everybody who has been in bodybuilding will recognize the father by name, because not only did he popularize the sport early, he published tons of literature detailing his examinations and ideas about bodybuilding. His most famous, “Strength and How to Obtain It”.
Regardless, he laid down the foundations and the concrete of the sport as Charles Glass and Arnold came to start building the house. Without his foundations for bodybuilding, we might not know bodybuilding like we do today.
15 – Lee Haney
Lee Haney is one of the most famous names you’ll ever hear in bodybuilding.
Even non-bodybuilders will know him as president Bill Clinton appointed him to the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports.
This guy was absolutely massive and won the Mr.Olympia title 8 times from the years 1984-1991.
He’s super Christian and still leads programs encouraging people to find spiritual growth and muscular growth- so it’s pretty good for religious folk! I recommend checking it out.
16 – Charles Glass (Godfather of Bodybuilding)
Charles Glass is considered the godfather of bodybuilding and continues to coach bodybuilders even TODAY at the OG Gold’s Gym in California.
I love his videos, and any bodybuilder can benefit from his unique way of growing muscle. He knows all the best ways to stretch out any muscle and make it grow radically.
Well, Tommy, is there any proof of his work? Yep! Look at anybody up on the Mr.OIympia stage early on, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, he’s trained all of them.
Here are some videos of his exercises.
Charles Glass is also a chill dude and you can easily binge watch his videos and easily translate them to the gym.
He’s been training legends for the past 50 years- so he knows what he is doing. Plus, his instruction is super easy to follow so anybody (even me) can start supercharging their muscle growth.
17 – Serge Nubret
Serge Nubret is another famous star in the movie Pumping Iron that we all know and love.
The thing was, everybody in the 1975 Olympia was worried about a battle between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno from earlier- but it was Serge Nubret who had such an incredible physique he almost stole the show.
Everybody was on the edge of their seats because nobody knew who would win! Serge had brought such an impressive physique that blind-sided all the judges and the audience.
I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen the movie…
Regardless, he is one of the most famous bodybuilders for his appearance in the movie, how he kept everyone on edge at the Mr.Olympia stage and his incredible physique.
18 – Kali Muscle
Kali Muscle is one of the most famous bodybuilders and personally one of my favorites.
All of his YouTube videos are super funny and interesting to watch. Here’s one of my favorite videos, not only is it super informative, but you’ll learn Kali Muscle’s definitely a comedian for his second job.
Kali Muscle has a MASSIVE social media following in the millions. He gets tons of views on his YouTube videos and has nearly 4 million followers on his Facebook page at the time of writing this.
With his endless content and funny videos, he will forever be one of the most famous bodybuilders.
19 – Dom Mazetti
Dom Mazetti. You might think you haven’t heard of him, but trust me, if you’ve done any lifting in your life you’ll have seen him somewhere.
Maybe the name doesn’t ring a bell for a Mr.Olympia titleholder, but probably the single most famous bodybuilding comedian out there. He owns the channel ‘BroScienceLife’ that boasts over 400,000,000 total channel views.
You’ve seen his memes EVERYWHERE, here’s one of my favorite videos ever made by him.
Even if you haven’t watched his videos, you’ve for sure seen his memes across Instagram.
If you’re ever looking for something funny to watch, he has endless content and still uploads today. Even if he might not be an IFBB pro, he certainly is one of the most famous bodybuilders because he’s so dang funny.
20 – Kai Greene
Kai Greene is also one of the most famous bodybuilders on this list, being named “The Predator”.
He is just MASSIVE. He placed 2nd/3rd at the Mr. Olympia multiple times and again is just MASSIVE. I mean, look at this guy.
Even this guy’s back looks like three concrete blocks attached together, it just looks heavy and strong. There is no wonder why this guy placed so high at the competitions, this guy is a literal muscle freak!
He posts frequently to social media and has a huge following at nearly 7 million followers. So needless to say, he’s definitely one of the most famous bodybuilders.
21 – Ed Corney
Ed Corney is one of the most famous bodybuilders for the famous Pumping Iron squat scene.
This is one of the most memorable moments in the whole movie. Arnold says, “let’s get serious” and tells Ed to keep squatting no matter what. He eventually passes out after doing an incredibly strenuous and tough set where he pushes his whole body to the limit.
That’s the kind of training style you need to do if you want to be on the big stage. Never forget this scene.
22 – Steve Cook
Steve Cook is one of the most famous bodybuilders because he was one of the coaches for the famous show, The Biggest Loser. The Biggest Loser is a show that focuses on transforming people with unhealthy bodies into super healthy people that can feel happy and confident once again.
Most people have heard of this show as it is one of the most famous shows to ever stream over the air.
Needless to say though, Steve Cook knows what he is doing. He’s shown time and time again on live television how to lose weight, gain muscle, and keep a good diet. He has transformed people that have weighed 300 lbs obese into people that look muscular and strong.
He has single-handedly inspired so many people who have watched to make important changes to their life and has created many bodybuilders because of it.
It’s one thing to be a bodybuilder, it’s another to help another person become one. I respect anybody who helps others out massively.
23 – Mike Katz
Mike Kats is one of the most famous bodybuilders because nobody can forget him after watching Pumping Iron.
Not gonna lie, I’m a grown man- but I almost started tearing up when he didn’t make 1st place. And through all of that- he displayed incredible sportsmanship and shook his opponent’s hand.
I just think we can all agree that watching the build up of Mike Katz with his family, then going to his training routine, learning he was a teacher, then finding out that he would lose was just a devastating blow to all of us.
Also, he has one of the most weirdest and most inspiring quotes I’ve ever heard.
“You see, you can beat a dog and it’s going to do one of two things – it’s gonna roll over and die, or it’s going to bite you and attack you. And I’m the kind of person who’s the type of dog that will bite back – I wasn’t going to roll over and die.”Mike Katz
Mike Katz had a tough upbringing where he got bullied all the time as a kid. He went on to prove them all wrong, and that quote is actually really inspiring when you see where he came from.
All the other kids made him feel worthless, and he just said, “look, I’m not gonna give up, I’ll fight back, I’m making that choice to win”.
24 – Big Ramy (Mamdouh Elssbiay)
Big Ramy is one of the newer famous bodybuilders to hit this list. He gained most of his popularity after taking the 2020 Mr.Olympia award from everybody else on the stage.
No offense, but nobody really knew who this guy was. The last anybody had heard of him was a surprising but brief visit to the Arnold Classic in 2018 where he placed 3rd place. Then suddenly he shows up at the Mr.Olympia in 2020 and absolutely destroys everybody else on stage.
Anybody who wins the Mr.Olympia award will forever be one of the most famous bodybuilders. But I think in my eyes this guy is going to be famous for how he came in and kind of ‘stole the show’- if you will?
This wasn’t somebody that had repeatedly gone to the Mr.Olympia stage year after year, he wasn’t super well known, but he still put in an incredible amount of work and it paid off.
It reminds all of us that the Mr.Olympia award isn’t about who is ‘most-liked’- it’s about how puts in the most work and absolutely busts their back in the gym.
25 – Ken Waller
Ken Waller is another one of the most famous bodybuilders that came from the movie Pumping Iron.
Honestly, it’s hard to be featured in one of the most if not the most famous bodybuilding movies and not be famous.
Ken Waller’s performance in the movie was absolutely phenomenal and was Mike Katz’s (mentioned earlier) main competition. I won’t spoil the movie for you, but Ken Waller was definitely a memorable character.
Perhaps he’s one of the most “infamous bodybuilders”- haha- but he’s overall a good guy with a solid physique. And like I said, will be forever remembered in bodybuilding history.
26 – Rich Gaspari (Gaspari Nutrition)
Okay, even if you don’t know Rich Gaspari himself, you have to know Gaspari Nutrition, probably one of the biggest nutrition companies in bodybuilding right now.
He came in second place at many Mr.Olympia championships, so needless to say, his physique was killer. (He has even won Mr.Universe)
So now you know about all those ads that say Gaspari on them, the owner behind it is actually jacked.
27 – Lee Priest
Lee Priest might be one of the most infamous bodybuilders on this list, but infamous still means famous at the end of the day.
Many people have been quick to ridicule and critique Lee Priest. In fact, a fellow website in the industry, Evolution of Bodybuilding, has cited him as ‘the loudmouth of bodybuilding’.
However, as much as people might hate or like him- he’s still incredibly famous. He is featured on many different podcasts and is a well-known name in the industry.
Even if he gets a bad rep sometimes, he had a big career and won many awards before a car accident stopped him early. While I personally don’t have an opinion on the guy, all I can say is that when people mention his name, they usually know who he is.
28 – Steve Alexy
Steve Alexy is a bodybuilder that is seen time and time again and inspires every person on this earth to do bodybuilding- why you might ask? Well, Steve Alexy has Cerebral Palsy, a disorder that affects body movement, coordination, and balance.
This one hits a little close to home for me, as my little brother has Cerebral Palsy, even if it is not a severe form of it.
Steve Alexy has a very SEVERE form of Cerebral Palsy, he is barely able to control his movement on his own. But- he didn’t care. He kept lifting in the gym, and even competed at a bodybuilding competition, take a look:
The guy is actually pretty shredded for what it’s worth. And he’s a huge inspiration for everyone, even though with disabilities.
Bodybuilding isn’t a sport that you have to be genetically gifted to be in, nor does the sport require you to not have disabilities. The sport is very versatile and no matter what you have, this guy demonstrates you shouldn’t let anything stop you from doing the sport.
29 – Dexter Jackson
What’s interesting and what in my opinion makes this one of the most famous bodybuilders ever is that Dexter Jackson has won more awards than any other bodybuilder ever.
When I first heard of this, I was like “there’s no way this guy has THAT many awards”. Anyways, how wrong I was? The list took forever for me to go down, there are at least 55 different awards at the time of writing this.
That’s not to mention he’s shown up on the Mr.Olympia stage over 20 times, and even won the #1 place in 2008. He’s also won 29 IFBB titles at the time of writing this.
So…the list goes on. This guy really is trying to get 100% completion for bodybuilding LOL. He’s been to tons of competitions across the world and you’ll find him virtually anywhere.
Well, he finally put the towel in this year at the Arnold Classic in 2020. He retired at 51 after nearly 30 years of bodybuilding. A lot of people are big fans of Dexter Jackson and talk about him frequently across bodybuilding forums- I mean really, any competition you watched, this guy would be there!
I swear he could be in two competitions across the world from each other at the same time! Anyways, he will be one of the most famous bodybuilders to ever hit well, I guess every competition there was.
30 – Terry Crews
Terry Crews is one of the most famous bodybuilders- and I mean, do I reallllyyy need to explain why he’s so famous?
Everybody knows him from TV, commercials, etcetera. He loves mocking the ‘bodybuilder’ role by eating constantly and making jokes about it. And not gonna lie, Terry Crews is one of the funniest and most wholesome guys around.
While Terry Crews doesn’t necessarily have a Mr.Olympia award, he is still considered one of the fittest men in Hollywood, and for good reason. Nobody can argue and say his physique isn’t incredible.
Also, Terry Crews inspired a ton of us as kids to start lifting and bodybuilding (we all went through our middle school old spice deodorant phase…).
I know some people may say my list is invalid because Terry Crews isn’t in the IFBB or anything, but I don’t think you nessecarily need to compete to be considered a ‘bodybuilder’.
31 – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is also one of the most famous bodybuilders even if people don’t necessarily consider him a bodybuilder.
Surprisingly enough, he’s launching his own bodybuilding competition designed to rival the Arnold Classic and bring some more competition into the bodybuilding world.
Unfortunately, it seems the plan has halted a little bit due to COVID, but I’m super interested in the future of it.
Dwayne Johnson is just massive, there’s a good reason they call him ‘The Rock’. Just look at this guy and his transformation.
32 – George Hackenschmidt
George Hackenschmidt is very popular and is one of the most famous bodybuilders for one big reason: he invented the bench press and the hack squat.
There weren’t really bodybuilding competitions per se by the time George Hackenschmidt and set some of the foundations of bodybuilding, but he will still be forever remembered as one of the most famous bodybuilders.
I mean, Monday is international Bench Press day- how could he not be famous?
He was known for a great physique back in the day and published tons of literature about the sport. I personally consider him the grandfather of bodybuilding, but that term hasn’t really been coined yet.
33 – Sergio Olivia
Sergio Olivia is one of the ‘OGs’ of bodybuilding, and is one of the most famous bodybuilders for good reason.
First of all, he was one of the first people to ever win the Mr.OIympia title, winning it in the years 1967-1969.
Back in the beginning stages of bodybuilding, it was a nail biter watching Sergio Olivia and Arnold Schwarzenegger battle it out on stage. It was always an incredibly close battle that had everybody on the edge of their seats.
34 – Shawn Ray
Shawn Ray is one of the most famous bodybuilders for a plethora of reasons. First of all, he is the first bodybuilder to ever fail the pee test at the Arnold Classic, which was super interesting because he actually ended up losing the title because of that.
But, he didn’t care and never stopped. There was only ONE time over the course of 12 years that he didn’t place in the top 5 at the Mr.Olympia contest. And that time was his first time ever going to the Mr.Olympia stage.
Shawn was nicknamed the ‘giant killer’ because at one point in his career he beat every single bodybuilder on stage (with the exception of Lee Haney and Dorian Yates). This guy would come on stage and just stun the world and knock everybody else away from him.
Arnold mentioned him in his book, the Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding and Shawn Ray is still prominent in the bodybuilding community including recently defending the Mr.Olympia competition and getting into a heated argument about some of the drama surrounding the scene.
35 – Mike O’Hearn
Mike O’Hearn is definitely one of the most famous bodybuilders- even if he’s not a big “Mr. Olympia” winner or anything.
He’s always like everywhere in bodybuilding, from YouTube to controversy, you’ll find Mike O’Hearn in the center of it.
There was this huge bodybuilding drama about if Mike O’Hearn was natty or not. Regardless of what you believe, this guy is well known in the community.
Infamous or famous? You decide that part.
36 – Sean Connery
Sean Connery is probably one of the most famous bodybuilders that you never even expected. The famous James Bond spy actor was actually a serious bodybuilder!
When the spy was younger he actually participated in the Mr.Universe contest, although he cites that he soon left the sport because the American bodybuilders were so much bigger.
Regardless though, even in the James Bond movie Sean Connery looked good in the movies too and always stunned the ladies.
Bet you learned something new about our favorite spy today!
37 – Tom Platz
Tom Platz is considered ‘the quadfather’, which I absolutely love that name.
He is one of the most famous bodybuilders because of his legs, and I mean look at them. Platz also appeared in the Mr.Olympia quite a few times and at highest placed 3rd. However, most notably he placed first and became Mr.Universe.
I’m not even sure if today I’ve ever seen legs as big as Tom Platz, even some of the modern bodybuilders of today have a hard time coming close.
38 – Chris Bumstead
Chris Bumstead is the current Classic Physique Olympia titleholder. Basically, this is like ‘bodybuilding’ for the people that still want to be a ‘normal’ size if you will.
This is closer to the bodybuilding most people are doing these days regularly in the gym. Most people don’t want to be massive like Rich Piana or Phil Heath, they want to be closer to Chris Bumstead and look absolutely shredded but muscular at the same time.
Chris Bumstead typically goes by ‘cbum’ on online discussion boards, so if you’ve heard that term, this is who they’re referring to.
Needless to say, for his absolutely stunning physique he is one of the most famous bodybuilders and carries a MASSIVE social media presence online.
39 – Dallas McCarver
Dallas McCarver is one of the most famous bodybuilders for many reasons, although the most notable one is him collapsing on stage at the 2017 Arnold Classic.
Furthermore, he died three days before Rich Piana did- I honestly think they left humanity behind together.
Dallas McCarver was also a size freak and gave the gym everything he had, absolutely destroying his workouts and trying his hardest.
Many of us felt bad for him collapsing at the Arnold Classic, and soon after he would die at home.
You’ll be missed McCarver, and we won’t forget the ambition you brought to this sport.
40 – Mike Menzter
Mike Menzter is one of the most famous bodybuilders because he is the first bodybuilder to get a perfect score (300) at the IFBB.
Also, this guy was kind of funny. He held that the 1980 Mr. Olympia competition was rigged and Arnold should’ve NEVER won it.
Plus, this guy wasn’t just a ‘bodybuilder’. He dabbled hard in philosophy, ideals, and looked at bodybuilding from a broader viewpoint instead of a shallow ‘GYM. FOOD. REPEAT’ viewpoint.
He was one of the first to bring up what we know today as ‘HIIT’ training and he also brought up many new ideas to bodybuilding that were later expanded on (such as clean bulking, eating lots of carbs, etc).
Regardless, being the first person to ever get a perfect score cemented him into the IFBB Hall of Fame, and as one of the most famous bodybuilders to ever live.
Conclusion of The Most Famous Bodybuilders
Hopefully you enjoyed our list of the most famous bodybuilders. While we didn’t strictly define the boundaries of a bodybuilder to someone who has won thousands of IFBB awards, we tried to be more generous because not everybody has competed- even if they bodybuild.
Thank you for reading and let us know in the comments if we missed anybody, we will be sure to add them!