If one bodybuilder in history could rival Frank Zane for the symmetry and aesthetics title, it’s Bob Paris. His best Olympia finish of seventh (1984) doesn’t do his physique justice.
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2 Steve Reeves
If it weren’t for Steve Reeves starring in such movie roles as Hercules, guys like Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno may not have realized it was possible to go from stage to screen so successfully. Reeves’ good looks and muscular build make him one of bodybuilding’s biggest icons ever.
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3 Jeremy Buendia
Jeremy Buendia may not be a household name yet, but the former Men’s Physique Olympia champion could soon change all that.
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4 Lee Haney
The eight-time Mr. Olympia (1984-1991) represents the transitional phase between bodybuilding’s golden age and the modern day era where mass is king. Haney’s physique was the best of both worlds: dominating size and equal dose of symmetry.
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5 Flex Wheeler
Ken “Flex” Wheeler is widely considered to be the best bodybuilder to never win an Olympia. A dubious distinction? Not at all. Wheeler’s physique was a thing of beauty—a memorable hybrid of size, definition, and symmetry. He was a legendary bodybuilder in a decade (the 1990s) rife with them.
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6 Frank Zane
Going against your inherent physical strengths is no way to reach the top, particularly in sports. Imagine the result if Tom Brady decided tomorrow that he wanted to play running back instead of quarterback. Or if Michael Jordan had quit basketball in favor of baseball. Oh, wait…
Such was Frank Zane’s rationale in bodybuilding. He wasn’t born with a large frame that could rival the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. Rather, he was naturally slender, so he more or less stuck with that look, gaining size gradually over time while making eye-pleasing aesthetics his calling card. It worked, producing three, consecutive Olympia titles in the late 1970s and a demand for his images and insights that remains strong today, more than 30 years after his last competition in 1983.
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7 Arnold Schwarzenegger
To many, the physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger has yet to be surpassed, even today, four decades after his physical peak. The seven-time Mr. Olympia combined size, shape, and definition in a nearly perfect package. His enormous chest and perfectly peaked biceps are incomparable, even in today’s era of mass monsters and advanced exercise science. The Oak’s physique of the 1970s still represents an almost mythical ideal.
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8 Phil Heath
The seven-time Mr. Olympia possesses a physique unlike any other in bodybuilding history—not quite as big as predecessors Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman, but arguably more complete, pound for pound.
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9 Greg Plitt
Sadly, he died at the age of 37, but Plitt was easily the most accomplished fitness model of the past 10 years, with a body every guy would love to possess. We’ll miss him.
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10 Sylvester Stallone
Sly became the poster child for functional yet shredded muscle with the release of Rocky III in 1982. Since then, things haven’t changed much, other than his age. At 72, he’s still lean and shooting action films.
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11 John Cena
At 6’1″ and a super lean 250 pounds, the 41-year-old WWE star is a blend of a bodybuilder, powerlifter, and NFL linebacker. This explains whey he’s been on the cover of both M&F and FLEX magazines multiple times.
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12 Terry Crews
You won’t find a more impressive physique in Hollywood today than the one belonging to Terry Crews. Now in early 50s, the former NFL special teams journeyman balances a demanding training split with an exhaustive TV and movie shoot schedule that’s included The Expendables 3 and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (among many other projects) in recent years.
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13 Jean-Claude Van Damme
The 1988 movie Bloodsport thrust Van Damme into the public eye as the biggest martial arts star since Bruce Lee. Now 58, he’s still in great shape and starring in leading action roles.
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14 Dolph Lundgren
As Ivan Drago in 1985’s Rocky IV, Dolph Lundgren’s physique became instantly iconic as the symbol of what an athlete is capable of when superior genetics collide with cutting-edge technology and Soviet willpower. Losing to Balboa at the end did little to squash Drago’s intimidation factor, as the Apollo Creed fight was still fresh in our minds.
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15 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
The Rock’s physique has fluctuated in size over the years—a product of parlaying Division-1 college football and pro wrestling careers into one as a leading man in Hollywood. But what’s always remained constant is that Johnson’s body appeals to everyone. Men who say that they wouldn’t like to possess that physique? Liars, all of them.
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16 Sadik Hadzovic
This IFBB Men’s Physique Pro is quickly becoming a household name. Sadik Hadzovic was the 2015 Arnold Classic Men’s Physique champion and 2015 Mr. Olympia Men’s Physique runner up. Now, he has his sights set on an Olympia title.