The winners of 26 Ms. Olympia titles (clockwise from top left): Cory Everson, Iris Kyle, Rachel McLish, Lenda Murray
Who are the best female bodybuilders of all time? What’s your top 10? It’s definitely debatable. Is it just about the number of Ms. Olympia wins or also win-loss records? Should we judge only peak form or the entirety of careers? What about head-to-head matchups? How important are aesthetics? What about the other women’s Olympia divisions—physique and figure, especially—shouldn’t their best champions be in the mix?
We asked the artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT to list, in order, the top 10 female bodybuilders of all time. All of the following text in purple was written by ChatGPT.
The list of the “best” female bodybuilders is subjective and can vary depending on personal preferences and criteria. However, here are ten female bodybuilders who have achieved significant recognition and success in the sport:
1. LENDA MURRAY
She is a legendary figure in women’s bodybuilding and has won the prestigious Ms. Olympia title eight times.
2. IRIS KYLE
With ten Ms. Olympia victories to her name, Iris Kyle is one of the most successful female bodybuilders in history.
3. CORY EVERSON
A six-time Ms. Olympia winner, Cory Everson played a vital role in popularizing women’s bodybuilding in the 1980s and 1990s.
4. RACHEL MCLISH
The inaugural Ms. Olympia winner in 1980, Rachel McLish is considered one of the pioneers of women’s bodybuilding.
5. ANJA LANGER
A German bodybuilder, Anja Langer was a prominent figure in the 1980s and achieved great success in various competitions.
6. JULIETTE BERGMANN
Hailing from the Netherlands, Juliette Bergmann won the Ms. Olympia title in 2001 and left a lasting impact on the sport.
7. KIM CHIZEVSKY-NICHOLLS
With four Ms. Olympia victories, Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls had a successful career in bodybuilding during the 1990s.
8. YAXENI ORIQUEN-GARCIA
A Venezuelan bodybuilder, Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia, won the Ms. Olympia title in 2005 and had a remarkable career.
9. ALINA POPA
Originally from Romania, Alina Popa is a prominent figure in modern women’s bodybuilding and has earned several top finishes in competitions.
10. BEV FRANCIS
Although Bev Francis never won the Ms. Olympia, she was a dominant force in the sport during the 1980s and remains an influential figure.
Please note that the status of female bodybuilding and its athletes may have evolved since my last update, and there may be new rising stars and champions in the field.
BEST FEMALE BODYBUILDERS OF ALL TIME: ANALYSIS
We have a few notes:
Three of the women never won the Ms. Olympia—Anja Langer, Alina Popa, and Bev Francis—though all finished second in the contest: Langer in 1988 behind Cory Everson, Popa in 2013 and 2014 behind Iris Kyle, and Francis in 1990 and 1991 behind Lenda Murray. We don’t have an issue with placing Ms. Olympia runner-ups in the top 10. All collided with the extended reigns of this list’s top three. But Langer (whose pro career lasted merely two years) is way too high.
The first Ms. Olympia was held in 1980, and A.I. has loaded up its top 10 with four ’80s women: Langer, Everson, Rachel McLish, and Francis. You could argue that the ’80s was the peak of female bodybuilding in regards to celebrity and press attention—a time when champs were toned but not jacked.
If a pre-1980 woman bodybuilder were to be included, it should be Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton (1917-2006), who pioneered women’s weightlifting and bodybuilding in the 1940s.
ChatGPT focused only on Ms. Olympia winners and runner-ups. But there are now five more female Olympia divisions: physique, figure, fitness, bikini, and wellness. As bodybuilding has evolved, champs in these division are more muscular than the best 1980s bodybuilders were. Let’s focus specifically on physique and figure. From 2015-19, there was no bodybuilding Ms. Olympia but only the slightly-less-muscular Ms. Physique Olympia. Juliana Malacarne won four straight Ms. Physique Olympias from 2014-17 and retired as champ, having went 8-1 during her remarkable pro career. Davana Medina won the first three Ms. Figure Olympias (2003-05) and retired as champ. Nichole Wilkins won four Ms. Figure Olympias. And the current figure champ, Cydney Gillon has won the last six titles, a record she hopes to break again this year. Do some of these Olympia winners belong in the women’s bodybuilding top 10, or is it reserved exclusively for the IFBB Pro League bodybuilding division?
Finally, let’s think about the top three:
Is Cory Everson the GOAT of women’s bodybuilding? She won her first Ms. Olympia in 1984 just after she turned pro. And she never lost. She won five more Ms. Olympias in a row and retired at 30 as the undefeated champion of the world: 6 wins, no losses, all wins were Ms. Olympias (1984-89)! Her win-loss record can’t be beat. Furthermore, Everson arguably did more than any single person to popularize women’s bodybuilding, appearing on over 50 magazine covers, co-authoring books, and hosting long-running ESPN exercise programs.
Is Iris Kyle the GOAT of women’s bodybuilding? Her record of 10 Ms. Olympia victories may never be broken, and it includes a string of nine in a row (2006-14). She also won the second most prestigious women’s bodybuilding contest, the Ms. International, a record seven times. For all those trophies, does Iris Kyle deserve the top slot?
A.I put Lenda Murray first. Is she the GOAT? Murray matched Everson by winning her first six Ms. Olympias (1990-95), 6 wins, no losses, all wins were Ms. Olympias! (The two never competed against each other. Everson retired just before Murray’s rookie year win.) She was second behind Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls the next two years and retired. But then she returned at 40 to beat Kyle for the title, and again the next year, before finally losing to her at 42. So, Murray has eight Ms. Olympia wins, Kyle has 10. The argument for favoring Murray may be aesthetic. But there’s also their head-to-head matchups. Lenda Murray won two of the three faceoffs with Iris Kyle.
We’d make changes to places 4-10 (for starters: Malacarne in, Langer out). But the top three, in some order, is correct. And there is a definite logic for putting Lenda Murray #1, 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 female bodybuilders of all time?
For the men’s top 10, check out: Best Bodybuilders of All Time, According to A.I.