Bakhar Nabieva aka Miss Iron Bum was rather thin as a child but she’s now best known for her incredibly strong lower body. At only 5’2″, Bakhar’s weight fluctuates between 115-125 pounds. She credits her figure to weight lifting and an abundance of lower body exercises.
Bakhar doesn’t like dieting and even eats cake between workouts! Due to her distaste for restricted eating, Bakhar doesn’t compete in bodybuilding competitions. Instead, she participates in bikini competitions and has used that career to build a following on social media.
Richard Sandrak, aka Little Hercules, was able to bench-press a whopping 210 pounds at just six years old! Richard’s trainer was his father and the pair would do daily workouts consisting of 300 squats and 600 push-ups and situps.
The bodybuilder’s diet also helped build his impressive physique. Richard wasn’t allowed any unhealthy foods and would eat just lettuce while other family members had pizza. Now, at 30 years old, Richard has quit bodybuilding and is interested in engineering instead.
Matilde Biagini stands at 5’6″ and weighs 123 pounds. The Italian beauty aspired to become a model and actress but all of that changed when she started to exercise at the gym. When the fashion world asked Matilde to change her muscular physique for a thinner one, she refused.
Nowadays, Matilde is living her new dream of being a professional bikini athlete. She describes her love for fitness as a “healthy addiction” and the gym as her “second home.”
Julia Vins, aka Muscle Barbie, started weightlifting when she was just 15 years old. Julia is a two-time World Champion and works as an influencer, promoting the idea that strong muscular women can be traditionally beautiful.
She evidences this by embracing fans’ description of her as having the face of Barbie and the body of The Incredible Hulk. At 143 pounds, Muscle Barbie can bench press 385 pounds, squat 606 pounds, and deadlift a whopping 451 pounds!
Choon Tan is a bodybuilder, actor, performer, life coach, and motivational speaker. He’s also the UK’s smallest bodybuilder, standing at just 4’6″. Choon was bullied for years because of his size, but that experience is what led him to go to the gym to become strong enough that no one would tease him.
Tan explains, “Those several years were undoubtedly the worst of my life, but it is what led me to an incredible eye-opening journey.”
Yanik Marquis was 18 years old when he participated in his first bodybuilding competition but, unfortunately, he came in last. On the plus side, it only took Yanik eight years of training to become Mr. Wales 2021 and a two-time British bodybuilding champion.
Marquis was on the larger side as a child, resulting in bullying and low self-esteem. Given his experiences, Yanik now dedicates himself to helping children with both their mental and physical health.
Stefi Cohen’s day job is to work as a physical therapist but her side gig of bodybuilding is what’s earned her internet fame. Stefi holds an impressive 25 records including deadlifting 456 pounds, squatting 446 pounds, and bench pressing 226 pounds.
Cohen has a book, YouTube channel, and podcast — all three of which she uses to “make confusing fitness topics easy to understand.” These days, the 31-year-old is focusing her energy on professional boxing.
Danica Goodheart’s heart is just as big as her muscles, as she’s made a career of serving as a veterinarian in the US army. Danica spends roughly 25 hours a week at the gym, power lifts, and does CrossFit.
Along with helping animals get healthy again, Danica also helps her friends and fellow soldiers by building meal plans for them. She’s also the winner of the Jay Cutler Classic in Richmon, Virginia, a feat which Danica reached after only four months of training.
Chris Cormier has since retired from bodybuilding but he’s most certainly left his mark on the sport. Chris has been competing from 1987 all the way until 2007 when he was forced to retire due to several injuries from years of bodybuilding.
During his career, Chris participated in over 72 IFBB competitions — 12 of which he won first place, and 52 of which he placed in the top five. Nowadays, Cormier trains other athletes and aspiring bodybuilders.
Johnnie Jackson weighs only 230 pounds but can lift 100-pound dumbbells in each hand, making him one of the strongest lightweight bodybuilders in history. Johnnie has secured first place in seven competitions and set the deadlift world record (in his weight class) to 814 pounds.
The bodybuilder can squat 826 pounds and can bench press 540 pounds. Although the title of World’s Strongest Bodybuilder is up for debate, many consider Johnnie to be deserving of that name.
Juliana Malacarne has won the Olympia Women’s Physique Showdown every single year from 2014 to 2017. Juliana’s victories display her perseverance, as she had to try 12 times before winning her first Olympia. Sadly, she didn’t try to defend her title in 2018.
Some say this was for the sake of going back to school, while others claim that bodybuilding simply didn’t pay enough. That being said, according to Juliana’s Instagram, she’s become a mother since her competitive bodybuilding days. Perhaps that’s the reason that she left the sport?
Brian Shaw stands at 6’8″ and weighs a total of 440 pounds. He’s won the title of World’s Strongest Man three times and has expressed interest in defending it. Brain’s impressive size and strength have caught the attention of Hollywood casting agents, resulting in the athlete being invited to participate in the Kickboxer movie series.
Shaw will go down in history as being the first strongman to ever win the Arnold Strongman Classic and The World’s Strongest Man contests in the same year — he’s accomplished this twice.
At 79 years old, Ernestine Shepherd made it into the Guinness World Book of Records as the oldest competing female bodybuilder. It’s worth noting that she wasn’t always interested in bodybuilding.
Shepherd admits that she only began worrying about her physical health at the age of 56, a fact she uses to promote the idea that it’s never too late to start. Now, at 86, Ernestine is still bodybuilding but she no longer participates in competitions.
Zydrunas Savickas stands at 6’3″ and weighs 400 pounds. He’s won the Arnold Strongman Classic a whopping seven times and set a world record for log lifts (500 pounds). Zydrunas can squat 880 pounds, deadlift 900 pounds, and benchpress 629 pounds.
Although he struggles in competitions that involve speed or agility, many consider Savickas to be the strongest man in the world when it comes to pure weightlifting abilities. Nowadays, the athlete has a YouTube channel in which he talks about diet, exercise, and recovery.
Iris Kyle has the most Ms. Olympia wins of any bodybuilder in history, with 10 victories. However, there’s controversy as to how many Ms. Olympia wins Iris has. In 2001, Kyle competed in one of two weight classes and then there was also an overall winner from both classes combined.
Iris won the heavyweight class competition but lost the overall Ms. Olympia competition, which included both classes. The fact that she did have a victory that year has caused confusion as to whether or not Iris won that year’s Ms. Olympia.
At the time of writing, Becca Swanson remains the only woman ever to squat over 800 pounds. Given that Becca, herself weighed 197 pounds at the time, this means that she can squat over four times her body weight.
Swanson is often considered to be the strongest woman of all time, due to all of her world records. In addition to her record with squats, Becca is also the only woman to bench press 600 pounds and deadlift 694 pounds.
Mamdouh Elssbiay, aka Big Ramy, stands at 5’9″ and weighs between 295 and 336 pounds (depending on whether or not he’s training to compete). He won Mr. Olympia in both 2020 and 2021 and plans to earn the title again in 2022.
Mamdouh won his first competition a mere three years into his training in 2012. The athlete boasts over 4.2 million Instagram followers, to whom he proudly shares his workouts as well as his Egyptian culture.
Brandon Curry entered the bodybuilding scene by winning the 2003 Supernatural Bodybuilding competition. In 2019, Brandon joined the elite class of Arnold Classic winners and won the title of Mr. Olympia. Standing at 5’8″, Curry weighed just 189 pounds when he first started competing.
Nowadays, the bodybuilder gets up to 265 pounds. When he isn’t competing, Brandon works as a personal trainer and influencer, with over 1.2 million Instagram followers and 30.8 thousand YouTube subscribers.
Silvia Matta, aka The Cicherella, has been in the bodybuilding scene since 2018. Silvia often posts her progress, workouts, and nutrition plans on social media where she has a modest following.
As well as bodybuilding, Matta also works in archeology and she’s a brand ambassador for Wings of Strength. Despite her success, Silvia hasn’t been seen in the bodybuilding world in recent years and, at the time of writing, is yet to receive any first-place titles.
Cydney Gillon has won the title of Figure Olympia a whopping five times! Her first win was in 2017 and since then, she’s gotten first place in every Olympia she’s competed in. Currently 30 years old, Cydney owns a fitness company and clothing brand, and also acts as an Instagram influencer.
Perhaps Gillon’s biggest breakaway from bodybuilding was when she competed in season 32 of the reality show Survivor and lasted a total of 37 days, finishing in fourth place.
Regan Grimes started bodybuilding when he was just 17 years old and competed for the first time at the age of 18. Regan credited a part of his success to his 2019 Romania Pro competitors by saying, “Standing next to these guys motivates the […] out of me to keep pushing and to become the best version of myself!“
Aside from his career in bodybuilding, Grimes also owns a fitness center, a clothing line, and a YouTube channel.
Roelly Winklaar is widely considered to be one of the best of the younger generation of bodybuilders. Nicknamed “The Dutch Beast,” Roelly is only 5’6″ but he weighs a whopping 297 to 320 pounds. His upper arms are 24 inches, his thighs are 29 inches, and his neck is a full 19 inches.
Roelly’s best known for his large arms, which he says grow larger on their own. Winklaar claims that he doesn’t do anything special for his arms beyond his regular workout routine — they’re simply that big naturally.
Oksana Grishina had an incredibly successful career as a gymnast and competitive bodybuilder but she’s now retired from both sports. She currently works as a personal trainer, fitness model, and fitness consultant.
When she was bodybuilding competitively, Oksana won four consecutive Ms. Fitness Olympia titles — and she also won the Arnold Classic competition 10 times in a row. The athlete explained her love for fitness by saying, “I love to perform and will continue to perform and learn new brands of fitness until my body will not let me.”
Pauline Nordin used to be a trainer on the Nordic version of The Biggest Loser but she’s now the founder of Fighter Diet. According to its website, Fighter Diet has helped over 100,000 women get in shape.
Pauline became interested in fitness when she struggled with body image as a young girl. Severely underweight, Nordin decided to try going to the gym rather than restricting her food intake. Not only did that decision improve Pauline’s health and mindset, but it also gave her the start of a career.
Debi Laszewski is ranked third in the IFBB Pro Women’s Bodybuilding Ranking List, meaning that she’s the third-best female bodybuilder. Debi first started bodybuilding when she was 20 years old and won her first competition at the age of 24.
The competitor famously doesn’t do any cardio for the six weeks leading up to a contest, which is an unusual choice for a bodybuilder. Clearly, though, Debi’s methods work for her which is evidenced by her second-place win in the 2012 Ms. Olympia competition.
Mika Sihvonen represents the “little guy” as he’s much smaller than most of the bodybuilders he competes against. Mika started his career at only 169 pounds and has now gained muscle to be 209 pounds.
Sihvonen is currently training to compete in the 2022 Arnold Classic Europe and many believe that he’ll win first place. However, he recently suffered a leg injury from doing squats, so it’s possible that the medical condition will compromise Mika’s performance. That being said, he’s more than proven his ability to work well under pressure.
Dorian Yates is widely known for his particularly muscular back and his infamously intense training. Clearly, all that training has paid off because Dorian has the fifth most Mr. Olympia wins in history, including six consecutive victories.
Yates’ frame is partly due to the use of steroids, which the athlete took for roughly 12 years. He defends his actions by saying that eating fast food, such as McDonald’s, every day is worse for the body than anything he’s done to his.
Andrea Shaw is a two-time winner of the Ms. Olympia competition and has two Ms. Rising Phoenix titles. As a child, Andrea wanted to be a model but, at 5’5″, simply wasn’t tall enough. Instead, she got into bodybuilding and found success there from the age of 17.
Andrea’s physique is the result of working out every single day, totaling 8-14 hours of exercise a week. Shaw allows herself only one cheat meal a week — to celebrate her hard work.
Jean Pierre Fux
Jean Pierre Fux’s bodybuilding training began when he was 16 years old, and he competed for the first time at the age of 25, placing fourth in the 1993 IFBB World Amateur Championships. At that time, Jean weighed 260 pounds, and eventually, his mass rose to 300 pounds.
Unfortunately, the athlete took things a bit too far when he attempted to squat 700 pounds and ended up injuring his knee. Luckily, he’s made a full recovery and since replaced the knee now that he’s retired.
Monique Jones started weight training at the age of 13 and claims that she felt an “instant connection” with the exercises. Her first competition was in the 2008 South Carolina State Show, where Monique came in first place for overall women’s bodybuilding.
In 2010, she placed first in the IFBB North American Championships. Since 2011, Jones has qualified for every single Ms. Olympia. Now, at the age of 43, Monique stands at 5’8″ and weighs 200 pounds.
Michelle Vjacobo is a fitness and beauty influencer with over 16.1 thousand Instagram followers. The Mexican beauty captioned this photo with “I will get up as many times as necessary” along with her usual emoji of a lion, accompanied by the hashtag ImTheLion.
Most of Michelle’s social media is dedicated to her various workout videos and an abundance of nutrition advice. Based on her social media photos, this particular bodybuilder’s nutrition plan involves a whole lot of protein shakes!
Dennis Wolf, aka The Big Bad Wolf, stands at 5’11” and weighs 275 pounds. He began his fitness career with martial arts but quickly switched to bodybuilding in 2005. Since then, Dennis has won the 2014 Arnold Classic and also came in fourth in the 2015 Mr. Olympia.
Unfortunately, Wolf was forced to retire from competitive bodybuilding at the age of 42, due to several injuries. Nowadays, Dennis works with other athletes to help them achieve their bodybuilding dreams.
Wendy Lindquist is a fitness model, competitive bodybuilder, and strongwoman competitor. At 38 years old, Wendy stands at 5’3″ and weighs 128 pounds. She began training in 2001 and, since then, has done primarily regional shows.
She competed at a national level for the first time in 2003, coming in fourth in the light-heavyweight class. Unfortunately, Wendy hasn’t been competing since 2009, a year in which she reached the top two places in four different competitions.
Calum Von Moger
Calum Von Moger’s bodybuilding work has spread into an acting career as well. In 2018, Calum portrayed a famous bodybuilder in the movie Bigger, which earned him a level of mainstream fame that most athletes never see.
However, his muscles aren’t 100% due to genetics and exercise, as Calum has admitted to taking testosterone for over 10 years. He claims, “I no longer produce it naturally and need to have it to be normal.”
James “Flex” Lewis has won a whopping seven consecutive 212 Mr. Olympia titles. Flex had been training since the young age of 12 when he got inspired by Tom Platz. Wanting to look like his idol, Flex stole some plastic weights from his father’s garage and used them to work out when his parents thought he was asleep.
Finally, at 15 years old, Lewis joined a gym and was able to start officially training. Now, at 38 years old, he holds the record for the most 212 Mr. Olympia wins.
Jessica Buettner, aka The Canadian Forklift, is a powerlifter who’s broken four Canadian national records. Jessica holds the records for squat (479.5 pounds), bench press (237 pounds), deadlift (556.7 pounds), and total (1,273.2 pounds).
Buettner first became interested in fitness when she was diagnosed as diabetic and wanted to find a way to make her body healthier. According to her Instagram, Jessica’s new goal is to squat 500 pounds and deadlift 600 pounds.
When Shanique Grant began her bodybuilding career, it was her dream to win the title of Women’s Physique, Olympia Champion. Not only has Shanique achieved that goal but she’s actually won it twice!
With her aspirations met, the then-25-year-old announced her retirement in 2020. Having spent her career training seven days a week, Shanique has cut her training down to six days a week in order to focus on becoming a wife and mother.
Giuliano Stroe was just five years old when he was entered into the Guinness World Book of Records for the fastest ever hand-walk with a weight between his legs. Giuliano went on to break other records, some official some not, such as performing the most 90-degree push-ups, muscle-ups, and the longest one-handed handstand.
Now, at 17 years old, Giuliano and his brother Claudio have a fitness-centric YouTube channel. The two of them plan to open a boxing club, alongside their parents, and compete in the National European Championship.
Arat Hosseini has gone viral on social media for his mini six-pack abs. At just four years old, Arat already has over 2.1 million Instagram followers on the account that his father manages on his behalf.
Hosseini has been doing gymnastics since he was nine months old and he’s been working out since the age of two. With his title of World’s Strongest Kid, Arat plays soccer, practices gymnastics, and shares his workouts on social media.
Nataliya Kuznetsova holds the world record for arm lifting, bench pressing, and deadlifting. She also has the title of the European champion for bench pressing and deadlifting. The bodybuilder stands at 5’7″ and weighs 220 pounds.
Although she’s been working out since she was 14 years old, Nataliya admits that her incredible results aren’t completely natural. Kuznetsova is open about the fact that she uses anabolic steroids and estrogen blockers to achieve her muscular look.
How to Look Like This
Getting a body like this is no joke – it requires time, dedication, and discipline. One very important aspect of getting built is to eat a lot of protein. Protein burns body fat and builds muscle, too.
When exercising, someone who’s trying to get bigger will want to focus on weight lifting, as opposed to cardio. This means doing less reps of each exercise but doing everything with very heavy weights. Rest is also crucial, as it repairs the muscles so you can train properly the next day.