The winners of 29 Mr. Olympia titles (clockwise from top left): Lee Haney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates.
Who are the best bodybuilders of all time? What’s your top 10? It’s one of the great debate questions, and though most bodybuilding fans’ top five will probably feature the same few legends who’ve won the most Mr. Olympias, the bottom half of the top 10 is a lot more flexible. Is it just about Olympia wins? What about the pre-Olympia legends? Should we judge only peak form or the entirety of careers?
We asked the artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT to list, in order, the top 10 bodybuilders of all time. All of the following text in green was written by ChatGPT.
Listing the top 10 bodybuilders of all time is subjective and can vary based on individual opinions. However, many people consider the following athletes to be among the greatest bodybuilders ever:
1. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
A seven-time Mr. Olympia winner and one of the most iconic bodybuilders in history. He helped popularize bodybuilding worldwide and transitioned to a successful acting and political career.
2. RONNIE COLEMAN
He holds the record for the most Mr. Olympia wins, with eight victories. Coleman’s massive size and incredible strength made him a dominant force in the sport.
3. LEE HANEY
An eight-time Mr. Olympia winner and the youngest ever to win the title. His reign in the late 1980s and early 1990s solidified his place among the greats.
The Barbell correction: Arnold was the youngest ever Olympia winner: 23 when he won in 1970. Haney was 24 when he won the 1984 Mr. Olympia.
4. PHIL HEATH
With seven Mr. Olympia wins, Heath was a formidable competitor and had a remarkable physique that earned him the nickname “The Gift.”
5. DORIAN YATES
Known for his intense training and unique style, Yates won six Mr. Olympia titles during the 1990s.
6. FLEX WHEELER
Though he never won the Mr. Olympia title, Flex Wheeler’s aesthetic and symmetrical physique made him a fan favorite and one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time.
7. SERGIO OLIVA
Known as “The Myth,” Oliva won three Mr. Olympia titles during the 1960s and was widely regarded for his incredible genetics and size.
8. FRANK ZANE
A three-time Mr. Olympia winner, Zane was known for his aesthetics and was considered one of the most symmetrical bodybuilders ever.
9. DEXTER JACKSON
With numerous wins and a Mr. Olympia title in 2008, Jackson’s longevity and consistency in the sport have earned him a spot among the best.
10. JAY CUTLER
Four-time Mr. Olympia winner, Cutler’s competitive career spanned many years, and he was known for his impressive size and mass.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other incredible bodybuilders who have made significant contributions to the sport. The rankings can change depending on individual opinions, and the achievements of new bodybuilders may alter the list over time.
BEST BODYBUILDERS OF ALL TIME: ANALYSIS
We’ve got a few notes:
We didn’t specify male bodybuilders, but A.I. chose to keep women off its top 10. So no Iris Kyle (10-time Ms. Olympia), Lenda Murray (8-time Ms. Olympia), or Cory Everson (6-time Ms. Olympia).
A.I. also didn’t include any bodybuilders from the pre-Olympia era (the first Olympia was held in 1965). So, no Steve Reeves or Reg Park, two legends form the 1950s. And no Eugen Sandow, widely regarded as the father of bodybuilding, circa 1900.
A.I. did include one non-Olympia winner, Flex Wheeler, and we concur. Flex was second in the Mr. Olympia three times and won the Arnold Classic four times. He had the great misfortune to collide with prime Dorian Yates and prime Ronnie Coleman so never won the ultimate title, but many regard his ’90s physique as the bodybuilding ideal. Similarly, Kevin Levrone and Shawn Ray should land not too far outside a top 10.
A.I. has no love for Jay Cutler. A good argument can be made for moving Cutler up to sixth. He won four Mr. Olympias and three straight Arnold Classics, and with his six Mr. Olympia seconds, he holds the record (10) for Olympia top-two finishes. On the other hand, if you want to make an aesthetic argument for placing Dexter Jackson, Frank Zane, and Flex Wheeler ahead of him, that’s the sort of debate that makes these exercises endlessly fascinating.
Finally, let’s think about the top three:
3. Is Lee Haney too high? He co-holds the record for Mr. Olympia wins, but his competition was weak in the ’80s. The Olympia runner-ups were often 50+ pounds lighter than him. And after stiff competition arrived in the person of Dorian Yates in 1991, 31-year-old Haney retired.
2. Is Ronnie Coleman the GOAT for his eight-year run of Olympia victories and the physique he displayed at his best, or should he be knocked down for the six years before that run when he never placed higher than sixth in the Olympia? Compared to Haney, Schwarzenegger, and Yates, who were always at or near the top, Coleman’s full 16-year- pro career is not so impressive.
1. Should Arnold always automatically be number one for his peak ’70s form, his worldwide fame, and his unparalleled impact on bodybuilding, or should we analyze his physique by modern standards and penalize him for lagging legs and murky conditioning? (Sergio Oliva and Frank Zane would also not rank as 10 best by modern standards.) If fame and impact are major factors and physiques are judged by their eras, Steve Reeves and Eugen Sandow belong on the list.
But we’re just asking questions. Had he not retired for the first time after winning the 1975 Mr. Olympia, Arnold Schwarzenegger could’ve kept winning the Olympia until at least the mid-’80s. 14 titles, maybe? Everyone else on the list (with the possible exception of Haney) got as many Olympia wins as he could get. Arnold at number one followed by the two eight-time Mr. Olympias is the most logical top three. And artificial intelligence is all about logic. All-in-all, A.I. did a pretty good job with its selections and ranking. But there’s always plenty to argue when it comes to one of bodybuilding’s greatest debate topics: Who are the best bodybuilders of all time?