While it's going to be impossible for everyone to agree on who the best bodybuilder of all time is, there are certainly a few names who would be included on almost anybody's list. The names below were judged on a number of criteria, including their success as a body builder, their level of worldwide fame and their contribution to the sport of bodybuilding.
10 - Franco Columbu
A two-time Mr. Olympia champion, Italian-born Franco Columbu was one of the great bodybuilders of the 1960's and 70's. He has achieved success on the Mr. Olympia, Mr. Universe, Mr. World and Mr. Europe stages, and at only 5ft 5 and under 200 pounds, Columbu was considered one of the world's strongest men. Appearing alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron, Columbu was a long-time friend and training partner of Arnold's, and has his own laundry list of 20 movie appearances. Franco is known not only in the bodybuilding and acting world, but also as a boxer, powerlifter, weightlifter and strongman, and held a number of world records.
9 - Rich Gaspari
Rich Gaspari is one of the better-known bodybuilders in the world not only for his athletic feats but his top-selling supplements brand ‘Gaspari Nutrition'. Gaspari is a three-time Mr. Olympia runner-up, and featured heavily in bodybuilding competitions in the 1980's and 90's. He is an IFBB Hall of Famer, and won the 1989 Arnold Classic competition. Although he was a well-known bodybuilder in his own right, Gaspari has gained worldwide fame as the CEO and founder of Gaspari Nutrition, started in 2001. His supplements Myofusion, SuperPump and Intrapro have been best-selling bodybuilding products for many years.
8 - Flex Wheeler
Kenneth ‘Flex' Wheeler was one of the best known bodybuilders of the 1990's. He featured strongly in many IFBB contests throughout his career, winning four Arnold Classic titles, five Ironman Pro titles and a second place in the 1993, 1998 and 1998 Mr. Olympia competitions. Flex is widely regarded has having one of the most aesthetically-pleasing physiques in bodybuilding history, and was unlucky not to win the Sandown trophy in his career.
7 - Frank Zane
As one of the lightest bodybuilders to ever win the Mr. Olympia competition (between 185-195 pounds), Frank Zane has been a benchmark to bodybuilders worldwide with his excellent proportions. He is a three-time Mr. Olympia champion, winning the title in 1977, 1978 and 1979, and placing in the top four on six other occasions. He has also won the Mr. Universe, Mr. World and Mr. America titles, and was amongst the first group of people inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 1999.
6 - Jay Cutler
A four-time Mr. Olympia winner, Jay Cutler would certainly have more titles to his name had he not competed against Ronnie Coleman. In all, he has placed 2nd six times in Mr. Olympia contests, and although still competing, will go down as one of the greats in bodybuilding. Jay has won the Arnold Classic title three times (2002-2004), and also won the IFBB Night of Champions in 2000, along with competing, Cutler has released a number of popular DVD's, and is on the board of directors of Alpha Helix Supplements - a brand new supplement company soon to release their products worldwide.
5 - Sergio Oliva
With a professional bodybuilding career spanning over 20 years, Cuban Sergio Oliva is one of bodybuilding, winning titles in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. Oliva is the second bodybuilder to have won the Mr. Olympia contest in 1967, 1968 and 1969, and is the only bodybuilder to have defeated Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Olympia stage. His other professional bodybuilding wins include Mr. America, Mr. World, Mr. Universe and Mr. International titles.
4 - Lee Haney
With eight successive Mr. Olympia wins between 1984 and 1991, Lee Haney equals the record for most Sandow trophies with Ronnie Coleman. A great combination of size and conditioning, Haney also has a line of supplements and a program ‘TotaLee Fit with Lee Haney'.
3 - Dorian Yates
From Birmingham, England, Dorian Yates is a six-time Mr. Olympia champion and one of the best-known bodybuilders in the world, having won the Sandow consecutively from 1992-1997. Yates was nicknamed ‘The Shadow', partly due to his 250 pound frame, and partly due to his ability to fly under the radar. Aside from the Olympia titles, Dorian Yates has nine professional career wins and two 2nd places. Yates also owns his own supplement company, gyms, clothing line and offers one-on-one personal training sessions.
2 - Ronnie Coleman
The record holder for most Olympia titles, Ronnie Coleman also holds the record for most bodybuilding titles won and is one of the best-known and most well-liked bodybuilders in history. His eight Olympia titles were won consecutively between 1998 and 2005, and his battles with Jay Cutler in the early 2000's were legendary. Coleman won 26 professional contests throughout his career, and has featured in hundreds of bodybuilding magazines. His competition weight of 305 pounds made him one of the largest competitors in history. His supplement line ‘Ronnie Coleman Signature Series' features a number of popular products such as Testogen-XR and Myo-Blitz.
1 - Arnold Schwarzenegger
Nicknamed the Austrian Oak, Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous not only for his bodybuilding feats, but also his acting and political careers. He is surely the best-known bodybuilder ever, and although he retired from competition in 1980 and concentrated on acting, his fame brought much attention to the sport, and as a result, his name is synonymous with bodybuilding. Arnold won the Mr. Olympia title seven times, between 1970-1975 and then again in 1980, as well as multiple Mr. Universe titles. His legacy to bodybuilding continues with the Arnold Classic contest - one of the most sought after bodybuilding titles since its' inception in 1989.
Arnold is also the editor for Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines . The 1975 documentary Pumping Iron is one of the best known bodybuilding films of all time, and follows Arnold and his competition during the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest. His book The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding is one of the most popular bodybuilding books of all time.Arnold's physique was the focus of much attention throughout his acting career, and box office successes such as The Terminator and Total Recall ensured that not only was Arnold one of the most popular bodybuilders, but also one of the most famous actors of all time. As governor of California, he brought much attention to the need to employ a healthy lifestyle and was responsible for a number of health programs and initiatives. His contribution to bodybuilding as a competitor and beyond have been immense.