10 Bodybuilders Who Could Have Beaten Arnold Schwarzenegger
The term ‘bodybuilding’ is synonymous with one individual: Arnold Schwarzenegger. As a 7 time Mr. Olympia winner in the early years of the Mr. Olympia contest and possessing one of, if not THE, greatest physiques of all time, Arnold transcended the sport, bringing the world of bodybuilding out of the shadows and into pop culture.
Unless you are a true fan of the sport, most people have no idea that Larry Scott and Sergio Oliva actually won the Mr. Olympia five times between the two of them before Arnold took the crown at Mr. Olympia VI in 1970. Just like Michael Jordan defines basketball, Arnold defines bodybuilding.
45 years later and people still look to his training style and his physique as motivation for themselves in the gym. Personally, Arnold’s physique is what sparked my interest in lifting when I was a kid and it still motivates me to this day.
Arnold is a global icon for the sport and will always be at the center of discussion when someone asks, “Who is the greatest bodybuilder of all time?” We all have our own personal lists of who is the greatest bodybuilder of all time, but which bodybuilders of the last 50 years would have beat Arnold?
Could Arnold Schwarzenegger have been beaten? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…
Most of you will jump at the chance to say how Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, Phil Heath, or Kai Green would have beat Arnold with ease. And, based upon the criteria of today’s Mr. Olympia, I would agree. But, the sport of bodybuilding has evolved immensely since Arnold graced the stage.
Like with any sport, the rules, judging, and guidelines of the sport change over time. The Mr. Olympia physiques of Arnold’s time, or “The Golden Era”, weren’t judged on who could be the heaviest, most massive, shredded gorilla on stage.
While mass and size played a factor in judging the top physiques during the Golden Era, symmetry and proportions played a larger role in the judging process. From the first Mr. Olympia competition in 1965 through the 1970’s 1980’s, and early 1990’s, Arnold and competitors of this era focused on obtaining a tight skinny waist, paired with a massive back, to create some of the greatest V-taper physiques in bodybuilding history.
Rather than putting Arnold up against the mass monsters of the 1990’s, 2000’s and present, let’s put Arnold up against some of the classic, “Golden Era” physiques throughout bodybuilding history. With the new Classic Physique bodybuilding division unveiling itself in 2016, let’s imagine the 2016 Classic Physique Mr. Olympia class with a 1970’s version of Arnold Schwarzenegger versus the field.
Who could beat him? Who would have a chance at taking down Arnold?
Taking a look at the best bodybuilders of the last 50 years, these 10 bodybuilders possessed the mass, aesthetics, and classic physiques that could have chopped down The Austrian Oak.
10 Bodybuilders Who Could Have Beaten Arnold Schwarznegger
#1 Sergio Oliva
Many people believe that once Arnold stepped on the Olympia stage he never lost an Olympia. But, in his first year competing in Mr. Olympia in 1969, Arnold was defeated by the reigning Olympia champ Sergio Oliva.
As the second ever crowned Mr. Olympia, Oliva went toe-to-toe with a young Arnold and beat him to take home his third Mr. Olympia title in a row. Known as ‘The Myth’, Oliva took the concept of size-meets-symmetry to a level nobody had seen before Arnold.
Oliva beat Arnold once for the Mr. Olympia title and with the smallest waist to ever grace the Olympia stage, Oliva could beat him again.
#2 – Frank Zane
Considered by many as the Godfather of Aesthetics, Frank Zane ruled the Mr. Olympia stage in the late 1970’s. Holding the Mr. Olympia title from 1977-1979, Zane is one of the few bodybuilders throughout history that actually defeated Arnold in a bodybuilding competition.
While he never took down Arnold on the Olympia stage like Oliva did, Frank Zane did defeat Arnold at the 1968 Mr. Universe. Zane didn’t possess the sheer mass that Arnold had, but with one of the most aesthetically appealing physiques in the history of bodybuilding, Zane possessed the ability to go toe-to-toe with Arnold.
If Zane put on another 5-10 pounds of muscle, paired with his freaky aesthetics, Zane could have taken down Arnold on the Olympia stage.
#3 – Shawn Ray
As one of the most consistent bodybuilders in history, the physique of Shawn Ray combined the mass and conditioning of the late 1980’s and 1990’s with the small waist, V-taper symmetry of the Golden Era. Competing in 12 Mr. Olympia competitions, Ray finished in the top every single year, with two runner-up finishes.
At only 5’7” and stepping on the stage around 215-220 pounds, Ray wasn’t just a mass monster as he paired his size with amazing symmetry and aesthetics. This combination would have given Ray a prime opportunity to beat Arnold.
#4 – Chris Dickerson
Taking the Mr. Olympia title in 1982, Dickerson had a chance to battle Arnold on the Olympia stage in 1980, finishing 2nd place to Arnold. Even though Dickerson stood at 5’6” and didn’t have the mass Arnold possessed, his amazing posing routine, paired with an impressive back and midsection were enough to battle Arnold for the crown.
Dickerson hit his prime in 1982 with a physique worthy of the Olympia crown. If he brought his 1982 package to the 1980 Olympia stage, Dickerson could have beat Arnold for the title.
Bodybuilder Chris Dickerson (center).
#5 – Franco Columbu
The Robin to Arnold’s Batman, Columbu was side by side, year after year battling Arnold for the Mr. Olympia title. As Arnold’s best friend and training partner, Columbu was always training with the same frequency and intensity as Arnold, producing a physique that matched up to Arnold’s every time they stepped on the stage together.
The king of the under-200 pounds Olympia class of the 1970’s, Columbu’s waist-to-back ratio was always top notch and always pushed Arnold to be his best. With a full, explosive chest comparable to Arnold’s and ridiculous lats, Columbu could have taken down Arnold in the 1980 Mr. Olympia competition had he competed.
#6 – Lee Haney
Haney made his presence known in the bodybuilding world in 1983 where he finished 3rd in the Mr. Olympia competition. From that point on, it was the reign of Haney as he won the Mr. Olympia title in 1984 and remained the champion until 1991.
Haney really began bridging the gap between the V-taper century of old with the pure mass and conditioning of present day bodybuilding. Haney proved you could bring an insane amount of mass and aesthetics to the stage while still maintaining a small waist.
Stepping on stage around 250 pounds with a shredded midsection that displayed a perfect vacuum pose and a lat spread that could block out the sun, Haney was the complete package. There’s no doubt that if Haney was born a couple years earlier and competed in the 1970’s through early 80’s that he could have dethroned Arnold year after year.
#7 – Robby Robinson
While he was never able to defeat Mr. Aesthetics Frank Zane, Robinson was the runner-up to Zane for the Mr. Olympia title in 1977 and 1978.
Most people tend to forget about Robinson, but standing at only 5’7” Robinson brought an insane package at 220 pounds to the stage every time he competed. Robinson never had the chance to step on the Olympia stage with Arnold, but with his amazing V-taper and arms that boasted some of the best bicep peaks since Arnold, Robinson could have had a serious shot at battling Arnold for an Olympia title.
Bodybuilder Robby Robinson (left) pictured here with Joe Weider (center) and and Lou Ferrigno (right).
#8 – Serge Nubret
From 1972-1975 Serge Nubret battled Arnold on the Olympia stage with one of the best classic physiques of the 1970’s. He was one of the few bodybuilders of the time who was able to sculpt a physique with a similar height and weight to that of Arnold’s.
Comparing Nubret’s arms and chest to Arnold’s you could make an argument that they were just as good if not better than Arnold’s. If Nubret was able to bring his back up just a little more to establish a slightly better waist-to-lats ratio, Nubret could have dominated Arnold on the Olympia stage.
#9 – Dorian Yates
In the early 1990’s Dorian Yates brought a package to the Olympia stage that made observers pinch themselves because they weren’t sure if what they were witnessing not was real life. Yates yielded an upper body comparable to Arnold’s, yet had a set of legs that looked like they ate Arnold’s legs as a pre competition snack.
In the late 80’s and early 90’s at the beginning of his bodybuilding career Yates showed how much mass could be packed onto a 5’10” frame while maintaining a decent V-tapered, classic shape. As his career and domination continued, Yates was at the threshold for ushering in the new generation of mass monsters we know today.
With the sheer mass and leg quality Yates was able to pair while maintaining incredible symmetry early in his career, Yates may have had Arnold sitting in that runner-up position.
#10 – Kevin Levrone
While Dorian Yates took home the covenant Olympia title in 1992, he had to battle off a shredded Kevin Levrone to take the title. Similar to Yates, Levrone’s bodybuilding career existed during the transition period from the classic, V-shaped physique into the super heavyweights of today.
In the early 1990’s Levrone’s physique combined a wide back with an incredibly shredded midsection that could be compared to the classic physiques of Arnold and Haney. Levrone even emulated Haney, performing his same workout routine and posing routine to try and bring his physique to Haney’s level.
Hitting the stage around 240 pounds at 5’9”, Levrone always brought a package that was worthy of Golden Era proportions and could have had a real shot at defeating Arnold.
Who’s On Your List?
Now, imagine this line up. Imagine the 2016 Classic Physique stage lined with Arnold standing next to a 1985 Lee Haney, a 1991 Dorian Yates, 1988 Shawn Ray, and the rest of the amazing physiques discussed above all gunning to take down Arnold for the Classic Physique trophy.
Would you automatically pick Arnold for the win?
Or would this lineup makeup one of the greatest competitions in Olympia history?
Who’s on your list? Let us know who you think would have the best chance at taking down Arnold in the comments section below.
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