Bigger Faster Stronger: The Mr. Olympia

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Bodybuilders, like most other professional athletes in the last four decades, have undergone an unprecedented change. Whereas the first Mr. Olympia weighed in at just over 200 lbs, the modern champion is more likely to be sixty pounds heavier and leaner as well.

While the reasons for this, at least in bodybuilding, are clear, it is still interesting to reflect upon this change. Today’s short post discusses the average weight for the overall Mr. Olympia since it’s inception and shows how and when ‘the mass monsters’ gained a foothold in the sport.

One word on the data used

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Bodybuilding, perhaps more so than other pursuits, is a sport known for its gentle massaging of the truth. Ask someone what they bench and you’ll probably be given an number 40lbs heavier than the reality.

The same holds true for weight. Bodybuilders oftentimes claim to come in heavier or lighter, making accurate assessments of their weights an exercise in futility. As such the weights shown below are averages taken from competition reports, magazines, interviews etc. To save my time and sanity averages are given for repeat champions. So instead of getting Ronnie Coleman’s exact competition weight for each year, averages across his 8 titles were given.

Also the graph shows the weight of the overall winner, not necessarily the heavyweight champion. Some years the under 200lbs. champion took the overall.

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What can we learn from this graph?

Well first that Excel is a clear struggle for me!

Aside from that two things spring to mind. First that bodybuilders have gotten significantly heavier (Well duh) but not as heavy as we may think. The 1967 Mr. Olympia Sergio Oliva weighed in at over 240lbs. for his Olympia titles. 2015 Champion Phil Heath around the same. Obviously Heath was leaner but it slightly dampen claims that bodybuilding has gotten out of hand. Comparisons of Oliva (on the left) and Heath (on the right) show that bodybuilding has always been about excess, about creating seemingly unattainable physiques.

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Secondly, although many credit Dorian Yates with sprinting the age of ‘Mass Monster‘, the graph shows that Lee Haney, shown below, was the man who bucked the curve. Again just food for thought.

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Happy lifting!

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