Bodybuilding History

Bodybuilding Rules

Bodybuilding is a subset of weightlifting that stresses the importance of one's physique and aesthetic rather than one's ability to lift heavy weight. The practice of bodybuilding and the practice of weightlifting work hand and hand, however, as people who attempt to grow their muscles must do so by lifting weights consistently with high repetitions. Bodybuilders display their muscular prowess through competitions or meets. A bodybuilding competition or meet consists of dozens of participants showing off their physique to a group of judges, who pick a winner based on the presentation and overall quality of their muscles. This presentation usually takes place on a large stage or platform with the judges watching closely below. A typical bodybuilding meet includes weight-class distinctions, close to that of boxing or wrestling, where people with similar weights are grouped together in competition. As such, bodybuilders must adhere to strict weigh-ins before they go out and compete in order to ensure a fair contest. In most contests, many bodybuilders are on the stage at the same time, posing and showing off their muscles simultaneously. However, the particular rules of the competitors will vary slightly depending on the federation that runs the event. For example, different events require the participants to wear different types of clothing

Bodybuilding Country Of Origin

Bodybuilding was first developed in London, England. Early practices of bodybuilding involved eating healthy and lifting weights for hours a day. Although today these practices seem commonplace in the bodybuilding industry, not many people lifted weights for the purpose of looking better until the English began to do so in the late 19th century. Bodybuilding practices quickly spread from England to other European countries like Germany and France, before reaching the United States in the early 20th century.

Bodybuilding Inventor

Eugene Sandow is credited with discovering bodybuilding as we know it today. Born in 1867, Sandow grew up lifting weights extensively, while also participating in a variety of strongman competitions throughout his young adult life. His original motive for lifting weights was not to show off his muscles to an audience. It was not until the late 19th century that Sandow and other weightlifters realized that the aesthetic aspect of lifting was also entertaining to many audiences. As a result, Sandow began showing off his unique physique in what he called "muscle display performances". These performances were essentially the first bodybuilding competitions, as people he would go from town to town showing off his muscles to small audiences. Eventually, bodybuilding became more and more popular with lifting and fitness advocates and bigger competitions eventually came to fruition. Today, Eugune Sandow is known as the "Father of Bodybuilding" because of the immense impact he had in advancing the sport.

When was Bodybuilding Established?

The first official bodybuilding competition was held in 1901 in London, England. Dubbed the "Great Competition," men from all over Europe gathered in Royal Albert Hall to show off their physiques. Ironically, Eugene Sandow never competed in this event despite being the proprietor of the event and creator of the sport. Instead, Sandow served as a judge in the competition along with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Charles Lawes. The event was deemed a great success and the sport gained a lot of credibility with the general public as a result. In turn, dozens of bodybuilding events were established all over the world, including one in Madison Square Garden in 1904. With the help of fitness advocate Bernarr Macfadden, this event in 1904 was a huge success. In fact, it helped popularize the sport in the United States so much so that the U.S. became the most popular destination for bodybuilding events from then on out.

After its establishment in the early 20th century, bodybuilding slowly grew throughout the next few decades before hitting a major spike in the 1950s. During the 1950s, bodybuilding became increasingly commercialized with the promotion of bodybuilding magazines, training programs, dieting tips, and supplementation. In addition, the competitive aspect of bodybuilding became more and more serious with people dedicating hours in the gym everyday to perfect their physique. In turn, more extensive competitions were created to display these physical specimens, most notably the Mr Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions. The bodybuilder that dominated these competitions was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold was the face of bodybuilding for decades, winning five Mr. Universe competitions and seven Mr. Olympia titles. He helped the sport become as popular as ever in the 1960s and 1970s and has continued to be involved in the promotion of the sport to this day. For example, Arnold presents the first place trophy to the first place winner of the Mr. Olympia competition.

  • USA
  • Germany
  • India
  • Canada
  • England
  • Egypt
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • China

Bodybuilding Key Facts and Timeline

  • 1890-Eugene Sandow begins to show off his muscles to small crowds in England
  • 1901- Sandow created the first bodybuilding competition, which took place in the Royal Albert Hall in England.
  • 1920-weightlifting equipment (barbells, dumbbells, etc) begin to be sold, making bodybuilding more mainstream
  • 1939- Mr. America, the first large scale bodybuilding was established
  • 1950- Mr. Universe, the first international bodybuilding event was established
  • 1951- First bodybuilding magazines were sold
  • 1967- Arnold Schwarzenegger wins his first bodybuilding event- the Mr. America competition
  • 1970- Movie industry begins to target bodybuilders in their films- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Reeves, Lou Ferrigno, Reg Park, David Prowse, etc.
  • 1980- The use of steroids and other drugs became widespread in the bodybuilding and fitness industry
  • 1989- Arnold Classic Event is established, becoming the first all encompassing fitness event that includes professional bodybuilding, strongman, figure, and bikini competitions.
  • 2000s- bodybuilding websites and marketing tactics become more and more popular upon the advancement in the popularity of the fitness industry as a whole