Bodybuilding, in one form or another, has been practiced since the time of the ancient Greeks. In modern times, bodybuilding grew out of the sport of power lifting. In the last 1890’s, enthusiasts interests began changing with some choosing to use exercise to beautify the body beyond the scope of competing for strength. In 1901, the Father of Modern Bodybuilding Eugen Sandow staged the first bodybuilding competition, called “The Greatest Show.” In the years since, bodybuilding has grown in epic proportions, with numerous sanctioning bodies staging competitions and title, in different classes and involving men and women.

The following is a timeline of the History of Bodybuilding.

1900 - 1909

The beginning of bodybuilding in mainstream society. Beginning with Eugen Sandow’s “Great Contest” staged in 1901 and Bernarr Macfadden’s large scale events held at Madison Square Garden in 1904, bodybuilding began its transition from demonstrations of feats of strength to the art of physical beauty.

View the 1900 – 1909 Timeline


1910 - 1919

Bodybuilding began to become even more mainstream, as society began to look at physical fitness and beauty as more than just a novelty. The fat-bellied strongman was quickly out of vogue, with the leaner, more muscular look taking precedence.

View the 1910 – 1919 Timeline


1920 - 1929

Bodybuilding becomes part of a new lifestyle of society in general as weights and other exercise equipment becomes available. And for those who didn’t feel the need the use of weights, Charles Atlas, the new face of bodybuilding, became an entrepreneur, offering his dynamic tension course to 97 lbs. weaklings everywhere.

View the 1920 – 1929 Timeline


1930 - 1939

The sport gained more traction as competitions gained more notoriety. Bert Goodrich was awarded the title “America’s Finest Physique.” Later, in 1939, the American Athletic Union sponsored a competition, won by Roland Essmaker, which would become known as the Mr. America contest.

View the 1930 – 1939 Timeline


1940 - 1949

Joe Weider began publishing a bodybuilding magazine entitled “Your Physique” which also featured weight sets and equipment that he sold through his mail order company, helping to expand access to equipment and nutritional supplements. A few years later, he joined his brother Ben in launching what would become known as the International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness.

View the 1940 – 1949 Timeline


1950 - 1959

Bodybuilding became a big part of the nationwide health and fitness movement as enthusiasts began clamoring to workout in venues such as Muscle Beach and at home viewing exercise proponents such as Jack Lalane who brought fitness to the television screen. The Mr. Universe contest became the pinnacle for achievement within the sport.

View the 1950 – 1959 Timeline


1960 - 1969

The IFBB launched the Mr. Olympia contest which would soon eclipse all other competitions. With Larry Scott as its first champion, the Mr. Olympia exploded in popularity with the ascendance of the “The Myth”, Sergio Oliva, the winner of three consecutive titles.

View the 1960 – 1969 Timeline


1970 - 1979

This was the greatest era of bodybuilding competition as Arnold Schwarzenegger battled Lou Ferrigno, Serge Nubret, Franco Columbu and Frank Zane to become the most popular bodybuilder in history.

View the 1970 – 1979 Timeline


1980 - 1989

After a controversial victory by Schwarzenegger, Lee Haney would come to dominate the sport and would win eight straight Mr. Olympia championships. Women were getting into the game as well, emerging in fitness competitions. The Ms. Olympia competition was created with Rachel McLish and Corinna Everson dominated their wing of the sport.

View the 1980 – 1989 Timeline


1990 - 1999

Dorian Yates revolutionized the sport, adding mass the had not been seen before. Soon, judging at competitions began favoring mass over symmetry, aesthetics, and proportion, prompting many  to refer to the period as the “Growth Hormone era.” The Arnold Sports Classic gains in popularity and emerges as the second most prestigious events for bodybuilding and fitness competitions.

View the 1990 – 1999 Timeline


2000 - 2009

Ronnie Coleman finishes the last of his eight consecutive Mr. Olympia victories and is followed by Jay Cutler who won four times. Iris Kyle dominates the Ms. Olympia field, winning nine overall titles, but event organizers introduce rules to force female competitors to decrease their mass and to emphasize overall physical beauty.

View the 2000 – 2009 Timeline


2010 - 2019

In response to the backlash over the “Mass Monster” dominance and in an attempt to jump start general interest in the Mr. Olympia event, new divisions were introduced, including Ms. Olympia, Open Olympia, 212 Olympia Showdown, Fitness Olympia, Figure Olympia, Bikini Olympia, Women’s Physique Showdown, and Men’s Physique Showdown contests.

View the 2010 – 2019 Timeline

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search