In the third installment of an occasional series, we celebrate some of the very best covers in the long history of muscle magazines.

Kai Greene grapefruit

Muscular Development, June 2008 (bodybuilder: Kai Greene) We’re not sure what’s going on here, but that’s what makes this a weirdly memorable shot.


young Arnold Schwarzenegger

Muscle Builder/Power, Jan. 1970 (bodybuilder: Arnold Schwarzenegger) Just shoot Arnold in the Santa Monica mountains in ’69. We love the coverline in lowercase in a sidebar.


Mike Mentzer

IronMan, May 1978 (bodybuilder: Mike Mentzer) This peak of minimalism: Mentzer standing on a beach.


Rory Leidelmeyer Rachel McLish

Muscle & Fitness, Jan. 1984 (bodybuilders: Rory Leidelmeyer, Rachel McLish) M&F pumped out some cheesy covers in the ’80s, but we love this pairing of two classically shaped champs before a nighttime tropical background. Even their feathered hair matches.


Steve Reeves

Model Man, Winter 1959 (bodybuilder: Steve Reeves) Oh look, there’s Hercules, shirtless in dress slacks. A Euro photo transformed into a painting on this short-lived magazine.


Jay Cutler Flex magazine

Flex, Jan. 2010 (bodybuilder: Jay Cutler) Cutler, who won the 2009 Olympia after giving up the title to Dexter Jackson the year before, is tearing up the October 2009 Flex cover, which featured Phil Heath and Jackson as the 2009 Olympia favorites.


Physical Culture magazine

Physical Culture, Feb. 1902. Is it a gym or a museum? Apparently, it’s both. 120 years ago this artsy cover hit newsstands. “Weakness is a crime. Don’t be a criminal.”


Testosterone magazine

Testosterone, March 2003. This was the final issue of Test (nine issues: 1999-03), but they did it their way until the end with a Frazetta-like, muscle-man-vs-dragon painting. Why? Because it’s cool.


Juliette Bergmann

Women’s Physique World, Sept. 1988 (bodybuilder: Juliette Bergmann) Just a front double bi before a blue sky, but Bergmann’s classic shape turns it into something perfect.


John Grimek

Strength and Health, Dec. 1941 (bodybuilder: John Grimek) When the attack on Pearl Harbor happened, this amazing colorized shot of Grimek with a discus was on newsstands.

See also: Great Muscle Magazine Covers, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2