Top 15 Most Popular Bodybuilders Ranked in 2023 - The Ranked by Sports Lulu 1. Flex Wheeler 2. Arnold Schwarzenegger 3. Kevin Levrone and More.

If they put in a little work, most people can build a respectable amount of muscle mass. However, there is a significant gap between people who go to the gym on a casual basis and bodybuilders.

Bodybuilders often engage in far more exercise than the typical person does. After all, they have decided that their physical form and physique will serve as their instrument and constitute their line of work.

Even if all that work makes a difference, many of the most successful bodybuilders are also complete genetic freaks. They have a remarkable ability to add muscle to their frames, and throughout their lives, they have only managed to get bigger and bigger.

The bodybuilders included in this list are from various countries and cultures, from Europe to the United States. Others were late bloomers and didn't start getting into fitness until their late teens or early twenties, while others got their start nearly as children, taking up their first weight when they were 11 or 12 years old.

The bodybuilders on this list have all reached the pinnacle of their sport and made a significant contribution to the fitness field. This is the case regardless of how or with whom they began their training, how long they have been a consistent part of the competition circuit, or whether they have taken breaks in their careers.

The 15 greatest bodybuilders of all time are presented in the following list.

Top 15 Most Popular Bodybuilders Ranked

NameCountry
Flex WheelerUSA
Arnold SchwarzeneggerAustria
Kevin LevroneUSA
Lee HaneyUSA
Ronnie ColemanUSA
Dennis JamesGermany
Markus RuhlGermany
Gunter SchlierkampGermany
Kai GreeneUSA
Phillip HeathUSA
Roelly WinklaarCuracao
Johnnie O. JacksonUSA
Moustafa IsmailEgypt
Dennis WolfKyrgyzstan
Lou FerrignoUSA

1. Flex Wheeler

The actual name of this bodybuilder is Ken, but everyone knows him as "Flex" Wheeler. However, one look at his body will tell you that he does not need to be flexing for his muscles to spring out.

The actual name of this bodybuilder is Ken, but everyone knows him as
The actual name of this bodybuilder is Ken, but everyone knows him as "Flex" Wheeler. ( Source : essentiallysports )

Since 1993, Wheeler has amassed impressive victories in various competitions. In 1997, he achieved the highly desired "triple crown" (which, in the bodybuilding world, means winning the Arnold Classic, Ironman, and San Jose Classic).

When he was at the pinnacle of his career as a competitor, his body was so faultless that it earned him the nickname "The Sultan of Symmetry."

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Even if you do not know whatsoever of the sport of bodybuilding, there is an excellent possibility that you are familiar with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

When he was only 20 years old, the bodybuilder born in Austria made a milestone in fitness by being the youngest person ever to win the Mr. Universe title. Throughout his career, he won a staggering number of championships, including an additional four Mr. Universe titles and seven of the most coveted Mr. Olympia crowns.

Even if you do not know whatsoever of the sport of bodybuilding, there is an excellent possibility that you are familiar with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Even if you do not know whatsoever of the sport of bodybuilding, there is an excellent possibility that you are familiar with Arnold Schwarzenegger. ( Source : wallpaperaccess )

After a fantastic career in bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger (who had become a citizen of the United States after immigrating to the United States in 1968) began his conquest of another industry, Hollywood. He is mainly known for his roles in the Terminator films.

He appeared in several films, such as Hercules, Stay Hungry, and Conan the Barbarian, the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. The film Terminator, on the other hand, was the one that catapulted him to stardom.

3. Kevin Levrone

Kevin Levrone's elder brothers were already lifting weights when he started in the bodybuilding industry at the tender age of 11. 

He worked out with them and discovered that he was actually very excellent at the activity. He began his investigation by reading up on the prominent bodybuilders of the 1980s, such as Lee Haney and Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Kevin Levrone's elder brothers were already lifting weights when he started in the bodybuilding industry at the tender age of 11. 
Kevin Levrone's elder brothers were already lifting weights when he started in the bodybuilding industry at the tender age of 11.  ( Source : youtube )

His first competition to qualify him for the professional ranks was the 1992 Chicago Pro Invitational, and he quickly became the talk of the bodybuilding industry. Even though he's never won the coveted Mr. Olympia title, he's finished in the top five in the competition several times. 

Levrone is currently in his late 40s and hasn't competed in around ten years; instead, he's been focusing on making a career change into the acting industry. But who knows, the Maryland Muscle Machine might perhaps make a reappearance someday in the future.

4. Lee Haney

The Mr. Olympia competition is one of the most prominent and well-regarded events in bodybuilding. 

As a result, most athletes who compete in this sport harbor aspirations of winning the coveted title at least once throughout their careers. A record that even outdoes the illustrious seven-title streak that Arnold 

Schwarzenegger had, and Haney has won it eight times in a row, making it the current record holder. In the 1980s, Haney was a dominant figure in bodybuilding, but he has since retired and leads a much more sedate existence. 

Haney operates two different fitness establishments in the Atlanta area, where he lives with his wife and two children in Georgia.
Haney operates two different fitness establishments in the Atlanta area, where he lives with his wife and two children in Georgia. ( Source : muscleandfitness )

Haney operates two fitness establishments in Atlanta, where he lives with his wife and two children in Georgia. In addition to working with and assisting in the training of athletes.

It allows him to use his years of experience in bodybuilding to good use. He also created a non-profit retreat center for children, which enabled him to put his education in adolescent counseling to good use.

5. Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman is a monstrously incredible athlete, to put it plainly. 

Coleman, born in Louisiana and a bodybuilder, has a contest weight of nearly 300 pounds, which is something that a tiny percentage of bodybuilders can do. Coleman has established a new norm in a world where bodybuilders continue to grow. 

Coleman began his athletic career as a football player and began training to enhance his performance on the field. Although he entered Grambling State University to become an accountant, he kept playing football throughout his time there. 

Ronnie Coleman is a monstrously incredible athlete, to put it plainly. 
Ronnie Coleman is a monstrously incredible athlete, to put it plainly.  ( Source : instagram )

When he relocated to Texas in search of fresh employment prospects, however, his plans were forced to adapt. Coleman was making every effort to maintain his financial stability in the face of a competitive employment market when he came across an advertisement for the police force and decided to pursue a career in that field. 

Coleman's colleagues persuaded him to go check out a particularly spectacular gym in their neighborhood, the clientele of which comprised of powerlifters and competitive bodybuilders. What happened after that, as the saying goes, is history. 

Coleman made a solid first impression in his first competition, which took place in 1990, and he quickly proceeded to dominate the world of bodybuilding, earning his IFBB Pro card and a slew of trophies. 

Coleman is the current record holder for the most wins by an IFBB professional, which stands at an astounding 26, including eight championships at the highly coveted Mr. Olympia competition.

6. Dennis James

Dennis James was born in Heidelberg, Germany, even though he is an American bodybuilder. This is because his father was a military guy who was stationed there.

James started training weights when he was 18 and almost immediately began to wow everyone he met. Perhaps it's because his German ancestors were bodybuilders. Even though James has participated in the Mr. Olympia seven times, his highest performance is a fourth-place finish.

James started training weights when he was 18 years old and almost immediately began to wow everyone he met.
James started training weights when he was 18 years old and almost immediately began to wow everyone he met. ( Source : generationiron )

These are not as many stunning finishes as some of the other significant bodybuilders have had. On the other hand, he has managed to keep his body in check throughout the years, demonstrating that winning titles is not always necessary to stay motivated.

7. Markus Ruhl

Markus Ruhl, also known as "The German Nightmare," began lifting weights in his late 20s, which is far later than the majority of the other bodybuilders on our list who started lifting when they were between the ages of 12 and 14. 

Ruhl, born in Germany and weighed 140 pounds at the time, began weightlifting when he was nineteen years old, and after five years, he eventually entered his first competition weighing nearly 100 pounds more, at 243 pounds. 

Markus Ruhl, also known as
Markus Ruhl, also known as "The German Nightmare," began lifting weights when he was in his late 20s. ( Source : greatestphysiques )

He started his lengthy career in bodybuilding by competing in the Bachgau Cup, where he won both the heavyweight and overall titles. Markus went on to have a successful career. 

Soon after, he was granted his professional card, and from that point on, he began to load on extra muscle mass while expanding his already incredible body.

8. Gunter Schlierkamp

It's not true that all of the most prominent bodybuilders in Europe were born in Austria. Olfen, Germany, is where retired German bodybuilding champion Gunter Schlierkamp was born and raised. 

However, an Austrian muscle machine Arnold Schwarzenegger motivated Schlierkamp to sculpt his physique. Schlierkamp saw several of Schwarzenegger's films and was inspired to carve his own body after seeing those films. 

In addition to his job as an athlete, Schlierkamp has also tried his hand at acting and modeling, and he regularly consults with businesses on matters pertaining to product development.
In addition to his job as an athlete, Schlierkamp has also tried his hand at acting and modeling, and he regularly consults with businesses on matters pertaining to product development. ( Source : muscleandfitness )

When he was 18, he participated in his first tournament and won it. He started training when he was 16. In 1993, he was awarded the title of Mr. Universe, and in 1996, he relocated to the United States - precisely as Arnold did! 

In addition to his job as an athlete, Schlierkamp has tried his hand at acting and modeling, and he regularly consults with businesses on matters about product development.

9. Kai Greene

The American bodybuilder Kai Greene found solace in lifting weights as a means of coping with the challenges he had during his youth. 

His seventh-grade English teacher introduced him to the world of professional bodybuilding. He began his career on the adolescent circuit, where he would show off his rapidly developing muscles. 

After a little break, he underwent a more significant physical transformation. Because he began his professional career in bodybuilding before he was 19, he has the credit of being the youngest natural professional bodybuilder ever. 

The American bodybuilder Kai Greene found solace in lifting weights as a means of coping with the challenges he had during his youth. 
The American bodybuilder Kai Greene found solace in lifting weights as a means of coping with the challenges he had during his youth.  ( Source : thebarbell )

He never stopped working to better himself, eventually competing in the NPC to be recognized by the IFBB. Kai's commendable persistence paid out over 16 years after joining the bodybuilding circuit. At that time, Kai became one of the buff athletes in the IFBB Professional ranks. 

The International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness acknowledged Kai's accomplishment. 

10. Phillip Heath

Phillip Heath, who grew up in Seattle, Washington, and was a normal high school athlete, is better known by his moniker, "The Gift." Many people know him by this name.

He participated in basketball at the varsity level and was successful enough that the University of Denver offered him a scholarship to play basketball there. He was the point guard and shooting guard for the Division I-A basketball squad the university fielded.

Even though he was passionate about basketball, he was seeking for a new challenge to take on. It wasn't until he had finished his education that he discovered the world of bodybuilding in 2002.

Phillip Heath, who grew up in Seattle, Washington, and was a normal high school athlete, is better known by his moniker,
Phillip Heath, who grew up in Seattle, Washington, and was a normal high school athlete, is better known by his moniker, "The Gift." ( Source : muscleandfitness )

Before participating in his first competition, the Rocky Mountain NPC USA Championship "Northern," he reduced his weight to 192 pounds, having taken his physique from 185 pounds to 215 pounds of pure muscle throughout his training.

The fact that Heath triumphed is a remarkable beginning to his career. He put in more work in the gym, continued to grow, and finally won a whole host of other championships, including his IFBB Pro card and four Mr. Olympia titles.

11. Roelly Winklaar

While many of the "greats" reached their pinnacle in the 1980s or early 1990s, Roelly Winklaar is only now getting into the swing of things in bodybuilding. 

While many of the "greats" reached their pinnacle in the 1980s or early 1990s, Winklaar is just 5 feet and 6 inches tall, but he has managed to put 285 pounds of pure strength onto his frame. 

Roelly Winklaar is only now getting into the swing of things in the world of bodybuilding. 
Roelly Winklaar is only now getting into the swing of things in the world of bodybuilding.  ( Source : thebarbell )

At the 2009 NPC Arnold Amateur Championships, one of his first events, he immediately established himself as the front of the pack. Ever since, Winklaar has only achieved more success, consistently winning the admiration of bodybuilding aficionados with his remarkable physique. 

It is essential to watch Winklaar's development as he continues his career in bodybuilding since he has the potential to become one of the following significant figures in the sport.

12. Johnnie O. Jackson

Johnnie O. Jackson is a savage, no ifs or buts about it. This American bodybuilder has established a new record for deadlifting with a total of 760 pounds, even though he is just 5 feet and 8 inches tall. 

Even though he can bench press 600 pounds, his deadlift record is so impressive that it makes his bench press ability look like child's play. When Jackson is not performing on stage, he works as a personal trainer, assisting others in achieving physiques that are even half as remarkable as his. 

This American bodybuilder has established a new record for deadlifting with a total of 760 pounds, despite the fact that he is just 5 feet and 8 inches tall. 
This American bodybuilder has established a new record for deadlifting with a total of 760 pounds, despite the fact that he is just 5 feet and 8 inches tall.  ( Source : revolutionaryprogramdesign )

Before he became known to the world as a renowned bodybuilder, he even served in the armed forces. Jackson believes that his time in the military was essential in shaping his outlook on life and developing his sense of self-discipline.

13. Moustafa Ismail

Moustafa Ismail recently gained a lot of engagement for setting a Guinness world record for the enormous biceps, arms, and triceps. 

He then sparked some controversy about whether his accomplishments were all natural. Even those who do not know much about bodybuilding are likely familiar with Moustafa Ismail.

Moustafa Ismail gained a lot of engagement recently for setting a Guinness world record for the biggest biceps, arms, and triceps. 
Moustafa Ismail gained a lot of engagement recently for setting a Guinness world record for the biggest biceps, arms, and triceps.  ( Source : sports )
 

His guns are incredible, measuring 31 inches, and he proclaims to be able to lift 600 pounds with ease. Ismail insists that his muscles are the consequence of a diet that is exceptionally high in protein, even though many people have accused him of using steroids to enhance his physique. 

This Egyptian bodybuilder, who has been a resident of the United States since 2007, works out for a total of three hours every single day to maintain his impressive physique.

14. Dennis Wolf

Wolf was born in the territory that was afterward known as the Soviet Union, but he emigrated to Germany with his family when he was 14. 

At age 15, Wolf got his start in the bodybuilding industry, much like many other bodybuilders on this list. His curiosity was piqued when his father purchased a bodybuilding magazine for him to read, and he did not waste any time getting into shape and began competing when he was just 21. 

Wolf was born in the territory that was afterward known as the Soviet Union, but he emigrated to Germany with his family when he was 14. 
Wolf was born in the territory that was afterward known as the Soviet Union, but he emigrated to Germany with his family when he was 14.  ( Source : thebarbell )

2005 was the year he went professional, and 2006 was his first year competing professionally in the IFBB. As he continues to work on his body, he is not showing any indications of slowing down (or growing any smaller), which is encouraging.

This Big Bad Wolf has amassed an astounding size, and if there is one particular thing, he will most likely be successful in obtaining whatever he desires.

15. Lou Ferrigno

Lou Ferrigno had a strict upbringing since he was pretty timid due to his hearing loss, which was caused by an ear infection he had when he was younger. 

As a skeletal child, he devoured comic novels and daydreamed of being as powerful as the ripped heroes depicted in them. Today, he can confidently say that he has accomplished his childhood ambition. 

Ferrigno started lifting weights when he was only 12, and he trained consistently over the next ten years to the point where he became the youngest man in history to win the IFBB Mr. Universe competition twice. 

Lou Ferrigno had a tough upbringing since he was quite timid due to his hearing loss, which was caused by an ear infection he had when he was younger. 
Lou Ferrigno had a tough upbringing since he was quite timid due to his hearing loss, which was caused by an ear infection he had when he was younger.  ( Source : hulk )

He was also the tallest person to have accomplished this feat and was the only person to have won two races in a row. At 23, he was one of the younger competitors in the famous Mr. Olympia competition. 

He was also one of the youngest competitors overall. Ultimately, he could fulfill his ambition since he was a boy by transforming himself into The Incredible Hulk and entering the world of Hollywood.