1) Lee Haney
Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman are tied for the most Mr. Olympia titles.
Lee Haney is a bodybuilding beast. Throughout his career between 1979 and 1991, he won more than 20 titles. He won the Mr. Olympia title a record eight times. President Bill Clinton even appointed him the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
As a very religious Christian, Haney always believed that training should help someone become more rounded physically and spiritually. He hosts a show called “TotaLee Fit with Lee Haney” to help others realize the importance of health and fitness. Thanks to his inspirational career, he has definitely influenced a lot of people about the need to stay fit.
2) Greg Plitt
A long career of physical fitness was cut short when Greg Plitt tried to race a train and lost.
Greg Plitt graduated from West Point and served as a Ranger for five years before obtaining his personal training certification. With a list of successful clients in Los Angeles and a noteworthy body of his own, Plitt quickly made a name for himself in the industry.
He created the workout program MFT28 and scored some covers of notable fitness magazines, like Men’s Health, as well as some commercials. In 2008 he joined the show Work Out.
In 2015 Plitt wanted to show just how much energy he got from an energy drink he was marketing. His idea for testing this was to try and outrun a Metrolink train, which he decided to do right on the Metrolink tracks.
Unfortunately, for Greg, trains are very fast. It would be the last race he would ever run.
3) Bertil Fox
Bertil Fox made up for average back and thighs with a massive upper body, but his temper is what got the best of him.
Fox’s nickname is “Brutal Bertil” because he dominated the bodybuilding world when he was competing. In fact, he has won practically every major bodybuilding competition.
With a career spanning from 1969 until 1994, he found great success as a professional bodybuilder. Although he grew up in England, he returned to his native St. Kitts in 1995 to open a gym after he retired.
All the years of increasing his strength did not have a positive effect on his attitude, though, and he was convicted of ending the lives of Leyoca Browne and her mother Violet Browne in 1997.
He was sentenced to life in prison where he will have plenty of time to do nothing but lift weights.
4) Ernestine Shepherd
Who says you need to be young to be a bodybuilder?
Most 80 year olds spend their days wearing sweaters while watching game shows at a loud volume, but Ernestine Shepherd is still crushing it in the gym.
She turned 80 this year, but still works as a personal trainer, a fitness model, and a competitive bodybuilder. To add an extra level of insanity to her story, she did not even start working out until she was 56 and didn’t start competing as a bodybuilder until she was 71.
Shepherd wakes up at 4 in the morning to run 10 miles before strength training four times a week and putting people half her age to shame every day.
5) Sally McNeil
Although Sally McNeil is well known for building her body, she is most famous for ending her husband’s life.
A former marine, Sally McNeil was known for violent outbursts. She was once arrested for kicking a bouncer in the face and she had many altercations with her husband, Ray McNeil, who was also a bodybuilder.
Both McNeils won some bodybuilding competitions and were able to make money with the sport. They had something of a tumultuous relationship, though, and they fought often.
No one really knows what happened on Valentine’s Day of 1995, but it ended with Ray McNeil lying lifeless on the floor and Sally in jail as the responsible party. Both of them had steroids in their system at the time.
Although she tried to say she acted in self-defense, Sally has been locked up for the crime since 1996.
6) Moustafa Ismail
Moustafa Ismail has biceps that are bigger than most men’s waists.
Thanks to his 31” arms, Ismail nabbed a Guinness World Record for the biggest biceps. The Egyptian bodybuilder, who also uses Synthol to increase muscle mass, is not popular amongst other people in the sport, but he is not shy about showing off his massive arms.
In addition to two workouts a day, Ismail supposedly eats three whole pounds of chicken, one pound of steak or fish, and consumes about a gallon of protein shakes.
The diet, the workouts, and the Synthol have succeeded in giving Ismail the big arms he’s always wanted, even if his methods mean he has no fans in the bodybuilding community.
7) Johnnie O. Jackson
Johnnie O. Jackson knows how to work his upper body and is recognized for its definition with bodybuilders all over the world.
At 5’8”, Jackson weighs 255 pounds when he competes. While he has impressive 23” arms and a trim 32” waist, his 57” chest is by far his most noticeable feature.
When he won the Mr. Olympia competition in 2009, Jackson bench pressed 523 pounds and deadlifted 815 pounds. In 2012, when he was 40 years old, he managed to deadlift 832 pounds, which was his personal best.
His gym routine consists of exercises like incline barbell press, bench press, decline barbell press, weighted dips, and cable flys to keep his chest big. He eats about seven or eight meals a day to keep his body fueled enough to power his time in the gym.
The amount bodybuilders have to eat to maintain their mass should be considered a sport in and of itself.
8) Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler is another powerhouse of bodybuilding who turned his success in the sport into a business venture.
Jay Cutler first started working out at 18 with the goal of being the biggest bodybuilders in the world. He won the Mr. Olympia title four separate times, in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010, as well as a host of other competitions.
In 2001, he won second place at Mr. Olympia, but the judges tried to strip him of his title when they found diuretics in his system. He sued the competition and was able to reinstate his title.
Although retired from the sport, Cutler has his own business called Cutler Nutrition that provides supplements to other eager bodybuilders. He has also released nine DVDs to help his fans figure out how to train like he does.
9) Dorian Yates
You can’t talk bodybuilding without mentioning the name Dorian Yates.
With six consecutive Mr. Olympia titles under his weight belt, Dorian Yates officially conquered the sport. This English athlete preferred High Intensity Interval Training methods, which focused on doing activity with extremely high intensity for short periods of time.
Yates, or “the Shadow,” successfully managed to stay out of the public eye and often surprised his fellow competitors by unexpectedly showing up at competitions and winning.
Unfortunately, injuries in his biceps and triceps forced him to retire early, but he now owns gyms in the UK and has his own line of Dorian Yates Ultimate Formulas. He has also released books and videos detailing his bodybuilding journey.
The former governator is still one of the most famous bodybuilders of all time.
When Schwarzenegger first came to America from Austria in 1968, he had big dreams of even bigger muscles.
Even when he was just starting out, he always believed that it was just as important to work your mind as it was to work your body. Whenever he was in the gym, he made sure to focus his thoughts entirely on his goal: to get the most noticeable body in the world.
His gym routines made him in a staple in the sport of bodybuilding. It also made it easy for him to transition into action roles in movies like Conan the Barbarian and Terminator.
Schwarzenegger might have retired from the sport, but with books, articles, and his own Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic bodybuilding competition, he’ll be back to help the world fall in love with bodybuilding. He’ll always be back.