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Although many are acquainted with Arnold Schwarzenegger, few realize that bodybuilding was a part of the ancient Greek culture. Men strengthened and toned their bodies for competition and in preparation for war. Resistance training emerged in the 11th century as a means of building muscle mass and physical strength. However, it was not until the 1800s that men began developing heavier, thicker physiques.




In the latter part of the century, Prussian Friedrich Muller became interested in bodybuilding as a teen. He later adopted the name Sandow and toured with Ziegfied. He participated in the first bodybuilding contest in 1891, in which Arthur Conan Doyle was a judge. Muller stood a mere five feet eight inches in height and weighed 180 pounds. But, he could lift a man close to his own weight with one arm. His image is displayed on the Mr. Olympia statue.


Charles Atlas


Atlas was born Angelo Siciliano and often remarked that he was once a 97-pound weakling who was often bullied. He developed the Dynamic Tension system to build his body. In 1922, the weight lifter was declared to be “America’s most perfectly developed man. He established a business selling body-building routines, health and lifestyle advice.


John Grimek


Grimek participated in the 1936 Olympics along with Jesse Owens. However, the weightlifter came in ninth place. He won six body-building titles from 1939 to 1949. After winning the Mr. America title for the second time in 1941, a rule was established prohibiting former winners from entering the contest again.


Steve Reeves


Although Reeves did not win the competition titles of his rival Grimek, he was known for his striking good looks and extreme strength, which would eventually lead to a career in the movies. He stood six-foot one-inch in height and was reportedly able to deadlift 400 pounds with merely his fingertips. Reeves won the Mr. America competition in 1947, Mr. World in 1948 and Mr. Universe in 1950.


Jack LaLanne

LaLanne established a health club in 1936 and later invented a number of techniques and equipment that became part of the modern gym. He performed a number of amazing physical feats. However, he was best known for his fitness television program that aired from 1951 to 1985. In his later years, LaLanne became known for promoting health through diet and exercise.

Bodybuilding in a natural sense can only help in athletic pursuits and in state of mind and overall health.  It is just a basic building block to any athletic paradigm.