From ancient times cultures have had obsessions about putting onto a pedestal those who show great strength or impressive physiques. I’m sure even the most visionary of people from those days could not envisage the monstrous, shredded physiques that we see stepping onto stage at the professional and even at regional show levels of the modern day. It is hard to say how ‘big’ the big guys of ancient times were but it is unlikely for a multitude of reasons that they would be nowhere near the muscularity and definition of today’s bodybuilders. In more recent times we have been able to see the evolution of these physiques due to the advancements in photography.
When did it all start?
The culture of admiration of the physically big and strong in the late 18th early 19th century was based around travelling circus style shows, it was one show that can be considered to launch the bodybuilding contest, on 14th September 1901 ‘The Great Competition’ was held and its winner Eugen Sandow was the eventual winner and is the person the trophy awarded to the winner of the current Mr Olympia is named after. Eugene Sandow[/caption] Sandow was 5’9 and around 200lbs, and had a lean physique, by present day standards he was built more like a centre in rugby. Physical culture became more prominent with the launch of magazines over the next 20-30 years. The next big name to enter the bodybuilding world was Charles Atlas, (real name Angelo Siciliano) who became a regular feature in bodybuilding culture. Atlas himself was only around 180lbs, although the culture had progressed the physiques had not moved on significantly. As we go from the 1930’ towards the 1950’s that was about to change. In the late 1930’s more attention was given to training methods and nutrition, this culture of bodybuilding that had developed led to the formation of the Amateur Athletic Union (AUU), the first modern bodybuilding organisation. The first winner of the Mr America competition John Grimek was pushing the scales at a lean 195lbs. As 1940’s rolled on the physiques had grown increasingly impressive with the likes of Steve Reeves who went on to win the Mr America and the Mr Universe. At this time other bodybuilding federations sprung up such as the IFBB and NABBA that exist to the present day. Steve Reeves weighed in at around 215lbs. Physiques were progressing fast.
When Olympia was born
With the formation of the IFBB the Mr Olympia contest was born with the first event being held in 1965, it was the dawn of the Olympia contest that really increased a professional attitude towards bodybuilding as more and more money and exposure was at stake. The first winner Larry Scott was followed by the now seemingly monstrous and shredded Sergio Oliva, who tipped the scales at an alleged 250lbs. The bigger guys had truly arrived and with the exception of a slight regression, in terms of muscularity not the overall aesthetic look, with the multiple Olympia Winner Frank Zane who was a sliced, well balanced 185lbs. After him followed the likes of ‘Arnold’ who took bodybuilding towards the 1980’s with his famous physique weighing it at 235lbs. With the increasingly popular action movie demand for muscles on the silver screen was reflected off it with the increasingly massive physiques being presented on stages all over the world. Lee Haney was the next big name to dominate the Olympia stage weighing in at around 250lbs and the monsters just kept on coming. It could be argued the next evolution in bodybuilding was not in size but condition with one of the best bodybuilders to not win an Olympia title rich Gaspari, Who was the first bodybuilder of note to have striated, peeled to the bone condition, who pushed Haney all the way on several occasions and set the standard for condition until the present day. Through the 90’s and into the early 2000’s the biggest got bigger with the likes of Britain’s Dorian yates tipping the Scales at 260lbs but with freaky grainy conditioning, entering the era of the arguable less aesthetic but freakishly muscled bodybuilder with the likes of Ronnie Coleman (around 280-290lbs) and Jay Cutler (around 260-270lbs) dominating the sport. It is testament to how far physiques have progressed that the ‘small’ class guys are weighing in at 212lbs absolutely shredded and typically less than 5’5 in height. Even some of the physique competitors, who are meant to be a more aesthetic achievable physique, are pushing towards the 190-200lb mark. The present Mr O, Phil heath appears to have married the elements of size, condition and a balanced aesthetic physique that is difficult when carrying so much muscle tissue. The evolution of bodybuilding has come a long way. The next question is which direction will the sport go, there are some super freaky physiques entering the professional ranks, will size prevail or will a more aesthetic look prevail? [Tweet ""will size prevail or will a more aesthetic look prevail?""] Thanks for reading, Peace, Weights and Protein Shakes, Paul Rimmer (BSc, MSc). [wpsr_socialbts]