Mr Olympia is one of the world’s most prestigious competitions in bodybuilding, organised by the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness (IFBB). Over the years, many high profile names have been crowned winners, including Arnold Schwarzenegger who dominated in the 1970s.
Mr Olympia was created by Joe Weider to determine the world’s best bodybuilder. The first event was held in September 1965 in New York, where Larry Scott claimed victory to win the Sandow trophy. He went on to win the title the following year but retired soon after.
Although the competition then took place at different venues throughout the world, it settled in Las Vegas, where it has been staged for the last couple of decades.
Hard work and dedication
Many of the world’s greatest bodybuilders have failed to achieve a Mr Olympia win, proving just how gruelling this competition is. Hard work and dedication is a given to enter this competition, but there are other characteristics that set the winners apart. All started training at an early age, typically using weights from their teenage years. Many winners also had previous success in other sports or careers in the military.
To enter Mr Olympia, most contestants are members of prestigious gyms and have top personal trainers to spur them on. They also need a pro card, which shows that they’ve already won at an amateur level. To stand a chance of winning, you might need to quit your day job and focus 100% on getting the right exercises, coaching, nutrition and supplements under your belt.
The judging process
Mr Olympia contestants are judged based on muscularity, symmetry and level of conditioning. Bodybuilders perform a number of routines or poses on stage in the judging rounds, including front double biceps, side triceps, side chest and ab and thigh. During the final stage of the competition, bodybuilders perform a free posing routine to music to showcase their strength and physical aesthetics. It’s not about beauty in this competition, but how well muscles are defined.
Most people tend to associate Mr Olympia with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and although he achieved seven wins, he’s not the most successful competitor in the history of the event. Both Lee Haney (1984-1991) and Ronnie Coleman (1998-2005) hold the record for the most number of wins at Mr Olympia, with eight titles each. Dorian Yates also made a name for himself, dominating the top spot during the 1990s, with an impressive six wins. In more recent times, Phil Heath has enjoyed victory with seven consecutive titles from 2011-2017. Since the competition started, only 13 bodybuilders have won the winning title, proving just how tough the event is.
Prize money is up for grabs for winners of the competition, and over the years, this figure has seen a few noughts added to the total. When Larry Scott won the first Mr Olympia, his prize was a mere $1,000. By 1990, the figure rose to $100,000, while in 2015, winner Phil Heath amassed an impressive $400,000 from his win.
Yet, for many of the contestants, winning is much more than just the prize money. It’s the lucrative sponsorship deals and exposure that follows that really appeals.
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