Who Was The Best Mr Olympia Of All Time?

who was the best mr olympia of all time

The recently concluded 2019 Mr Olympia, which was held in Las Vegas last September 12 to 15 2019, crowned Brandon Curry from Nashville. 

Curry was described by Fitness Volt as "very sharp with ultra-crispy conditioning on top of his massive structure." 

Before Curry, however, was Larry Scott, who was the first to be crowned Mr Olympia in 1965. He paved the way for Curry and other Mr Olympia contestants before him to achieve greater success as bodybuilders. 

But who was the greatest Mr Olympia of all time? 

We've compiled a list of some of the winners from 1965 to the present based on the number of Mr Olympia titles won and the number of consecutive titles won. 

Lee Haney 

He was the 8-time Mr Olympia champion from 1984 to 1991, a crown he held for almost a decade consecutively. 

He held on to his championship title for long as possible because of his perfect symmetry and size. 

• Great chest 
• Detailed and thick back 
• Full muscle bellies 
• A phenomenal vacuum 
• Small waist and joints 
• Balance impressive overall size and excellent conditioning 

Every time he stepped on stage, he blew the competition away. So it's not a surprise that he's currently tied in the first place with the most championships won overall. 

He remains one of the most well-known bodybuilders in his 25-year career. Despite this, Lee Haney is not perfect. 

At 250 pounds, he lacks a bit on the overall development of his arms. He has great calves but not equal to his upper body development. He was ripped and dry but nothing like the other great bodybuilders that shared the stage with him. 

Still, Haney’s strengths managed to outweigh his weaknesses and won him the crown of Mr Olympia for 8 consecutive years. 

Lee Haney’s Olympia Wins: 

Mr. Olympia XX (1984, New York City, New York, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXI (1985, Brussels, Belgium) 
Mr. Olympia XXII (1986, Columbus, Ohio, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXIII (1987, Gothenburg, Sweden) 
Mr. Olympia XXIV (1988, Los Angeles, California, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXV (1989, Rimini, Italy) 
Mr. Olympia XXVI (1990, Chicago, Illinois, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXVII (1991, Orlando, Florida, USA) 

Ronnie Coleman 

Sharing the stage with Lee Haney as the 8-time Mr Olympia winner is Ronnie Coleman. He held on to the title from 1998 to 2005 for several impressive reasons. 

• Coleman was massive basically everywhere. 
• He has different body parts that scored 10--back, biceps, chest, forearms, quads, etc. 
• His arms measure at 23.5" and have the perfect split between biceps and triceps at ⅓:⅔ 
• Shredded and huge legs 
• Excellent conditioning 

But for a guy that weighs 287 lbs and one of the heaviest Mr Olympias ever, his calves could have been more developed to achieve balance with his upper body. His abs and abdominal shape also pale in comparison with other contenders like Lee Priest, Shawn Ray and Jay Cutler. Coleman, however, was constantly working to improve his midsection. 

Ronnie Coleman’s Olympia Wins: 

Mr. Olympia XXXIV (1998, New York City, New York, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXXV (1999, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXXVI (2000, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXXVII (2001, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXXVIII (2002, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXXIX (2003, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XL (2004, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XLI (2005, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 

Phil Heath 

7-time Mr Olympia winner, Phil Heath won the title for seven consecutive years from 2011 to 2017. 

What made him stand out is what he calls the "freaky but pretty" personality and physique package that he presents. While his contenders are just plain humongous, Heath has the winning formula. 

His conditioning is consistently crisp, while his deltoids, biceps and triceps are aesthetically developed. This results in an impressive real double biceps pose. 

However, he has narrow lats and clavicles. 

Phil Heath’s Olympia Wins: 

7 consecutive wins 

Mr. Olympia XLVII (2011, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XLXIII (2012, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XLXIV (2013, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XLXV(2014, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XLXVI(2015, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XLXVII(2016, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XLXIII: (2017, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 

Arnold Schwarzenegger 

Before he became a celebrity and a politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger was known in the bodybuilding world as a 7-time Mr Olympia champion. He held the title for 6 consecutive years from 1972 to 1975 and then again in 1980. 

He was a strong contender because he combined physique with personality. Part of what made him popular was his ambition, confidence, and charisma. 

But his win was due to: 

• A chest that is considered the best of all time. 
• Huge and peaked arms. 
• Great genetics that allowed him to maintain an incredible size and shape. 
• Sharp abs and streamlined midsection. 
• Dense and define back 
• Calves that measure 20 inches 

Like anybody builder, however, Schwarzenegger has his weaknesses--small delts that are dwarfed by the size of his chest, and legs that will no longer suffice in today's standards. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Olympia Wins: 

6 consecutive wins 

Mr. Olympia VI (1970, New York City, New York, USA) 
Mr. Olympia VII (1971, Paris, France) 
Mr. Olympia VIII (1972, Essen, West Germany) 
Mr. Olympia IX (1973, New York City, New York, USA) 
Mr. Olympia X (1974, New York City, New York, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XI (1975, Pretoria, South Africa) 
Mr. Olympia XV (1980, Sydney, Australia) 

Dorian Yates 

6-time Mr Olympia winner from 1992 to 1997, Dorian Yates is known for his well-developed physique and awesome personality. He has the professionalism that made him stand out and he had no trouble expressing his love for bodybuilding. Famous for his ground-breaking high intensity training system and his hardcore Temple Gym where he trained and prepared for all of his Mr Olympia victories. Dorian was renowned for training harder and more intense than any other bodybuilder in the world and earned himself the name; ‘The shadow’. This was because he literally vanished from the face of the earth to lurk in the shadows of Temple gym while he dedicated his life to preparing for competition. Dorian was considered by many to be the greatest of all time. 

This translates to having the physical attributes that won him the crown. 

• Detailed back with the appropriate size. 
• The best calves in the world of bodybuilding 
• Well-cut and conditioned physique, with the right cuts, density, separation, striations, and thickness. 

Moreover, Yates never failed to show up on game day bone dry and shredded. 

While his body is great overall, he has a blocky waist compared to other bodybuilders who shared the stage with him. 

Dorian Yates’s Olympia Wins: 

6 consecutive wins 

Mr. Olympia XXVIII (1992, Helsinki, Finland) 
Mr. Olympia XXIX (1993, Atlanta, Georgia, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXX (1994, Atlanta, Georgia, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXXI (1995, Atlanta, Georgia, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXXII (1996, Chicago, Illinois, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XXXIII (1997, Los Angeles, California, USA) 

Frank Zane 

3-time consecutive winner of Mr Olympia from 1977 to 1979, Frank Zane will always be known as the bodybuilder to have a physique and symmetry that are truly impressive. This is why many competitors after him tailored their form based on him. After all, he is one of the 3 people who managed to beat Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Out of all the Mr Olympia winners, Zane had the thinnest waistline and the best-proportioned physiques in the history of bodybuilding. The small size of his legs was the only weakness he had. 

Frank Zane’s Olympia Wins: 

3 consecutive wins 

Mr. Olympia XIII (1977, Columbus, Ohio, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XIV (1978, Columbus, Ohio, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XV (1979, Columbus, Ohio, USA) 

Sergio Oliva 

Sergio Oliva won Mr Olympia for 3 consecutive years, from 1967 to 1969. During his time, he brought on stage the level of bodybuilding mass that many are still trying to catch up in recent years. 

He was a title-holder for several reasons. 

• Massive back and chest 
• Massive legs, arms and shoulders 
• Streamlined midsection 
• Small waist 

Because of these attributes, he can pose hands over his head without showing easily recognisable weaknesses. 

He lacks conditioning, however. Because of genetics, his arms are also very full and lack the peak that Schwarzenegger is admired for. 

Sergio Oliva’s Olympia Wins: 

3 consecutive wins 

Mr. Olympia III (1967, New York City, New York, USA) 
Mr. Olympia IV (1968, New York City, New York, USA) 
Mr. Olympia V (1969, New York City, New York, USA)

These are the Mr Olympia winners who managed to hold on their crown for 3 years in a row and more. 

Other Mr Olympia winners include: 

Jay Cutler 

2 consecutive wins 

Mr. Olympia XLII(2006, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XLIII (2007, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XLV (2009, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XLVI (2010, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 

Larry Scott 

2 consecutive wins 

Mr. Olympia I (1965, New York City, New York, USA) 
Mr. Olympia II (1966, New York City, New York, USA) 

Franco Columbo 

Mr. Olympia XII (1976, Columbus, Ohio, USA) 
Mr. Olympia XVII (1981, Columbus, Ohio, USA) 

Samir Bannout 

Mr. Olympia XIX (1983, Munich, West Germany) 

Dexter Jackson 

Mr. Olympia XLIV (2008, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) 

Chris Dickerson 

Mr. Olympia XVIII (1982, London, UK) 

Do you agree with our picks? 

Who else do you think should have been included on the list? Do you think the reigning Mr Olympia Brandon Curry will be able to add another year or two on his championship win? 

Conclusion 

Although competitive bodybuilding has a strict set of detailed criteria, there is no escaping the subjectivity of the sport. Take a 100 metre sprint for example, whoever crosses the line first wins. In a subjective sport such as bodybuilding, if you were to change the judging panel, it is probable that there would be a different set of results, or as the great Ronnie Coleman said, “it’s all just apples and oranges”. Everyone has their own preference. 

That said, I’m sure any bodybuilding fan will agree; all of the Mr Olympia champions are physical specimens at the top of their game. Every fan has their favourite and although it is impossible to have a grand Mr Olympia competition (All of the Mr. O’s competing together), you can still have fun in debating your opinion and deliberating who is the best Mr. O of all time!

Additional Resources: 

https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/topicoftheweek94.htm 

https://www.liveabout.com/mr-olympia-through-the-years-a-list-of-winners-415166

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