Mr. Olympia is a big bodybuilding contest that allows elite bodybuilders to compete among themselves. Only 15 men have won the coveted title since its inception in 1965. Mr. Olympia takes place every year, and many goodies come the winner’s way. Every former champion in this contest has his secrets and unique strategies that helped them clinch the title. These amazing muscular men have been generous enough to share their tips on various platforms. In this article, we shall be highlighting the strategies they used to emerge on top of everyone else. Note that some of them have won the title more than once, so we want to know how they pulled that off.
Larry Scott was the first bodybuilder to win the Mr. Olympia title in 1965. Through his website larryscott.com, the muscular man detailed how he prepared for the title and went ahead to win it. Scott highlights 33 strategies that would give any bodybuilder that dared to follow them a competitive edge. However, #29 is the most emphasized point, where he mentions pain zones. Scott learned the pain zones for every exercise and how to gain up to 80% growth by focusing on that.
He was a former army man who fought Fidel Castro’s army in the Colombian jungles before venturing into competitive bodybuilding. His secret centered on the diet. Oliva had no specific diet, but he would eat a large volume of whatever he laid his hands on and added two gallons of water to it every day. He also ensured to eat lots of steak and eggs for his big muscles. Sergio Oliva met his untimely death when his wife reportedly shot him five times.
Arnold is considered one of the most successful bodybuilders in history. He dominated the Mr. Olympia contest in the 70s and left shoes too big for anyone to fit in. Commando’s top secret is training a specific body part every time Oliva visits the gym. For instance, he could decide to work on his shoulders today and his biceps tomorrow. The trick ensures no body part is left behind, and the result is a uniformly-built body structure.
He was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s training partner, and the two did many things together. Franco’s secret that made him successful in bodybuilding was learning how to take care of his body. He ensured to rest every 7th day of working out to allow his body time to recover. The resting period enables the muscles to grow. Franco Columbu also alternated his exercises to achieve his bodybuilding goals effectively. It is no wonder that Columbu became one of the most successful Mr. Olympias in the bodybuilding industry.
A three-time winner, Frank Zane was a force to reckon with in his prime. He won the title not only because he was endowed with a big body naturally, but he also put a lot of hard work into it. His secret lies in his mental approach to training. Mr. Zane believed that focusing on a particular aspect of training at a time allowed him to realize maximum results. Zane also made sure to eliminate things that don’t matter, and he referred to them as extraneous variables. He would concentrate on his strong points and capitalize on them during the competition.
Although he was a one-time winner, Chris Dickerson was a formidable opponent on stage. The bodybuilding legend focused on his diet and centered on many natural vitamins, carbs, and protein. Additionally, he had a progressive workout plan; he started with the abs, chest, biceps, triceps, e.t.c. Dickerson focused on light weights and high reps, but his most precious weapon against all opponents remains a balanced diet.
Another one-time winner of this title, Samir Bannout is one of the few bodybuilders who admitted to using steroids. The lion of Lebanon had an impressive back that appalled the judges in the 1983 Mr. Olympia competition. Bannout’s decision to develop the back saw him crowned the winner, beating many formidable opponents.
Haney emphasizes to add quality muscle for long-term benefits. He achieved this by combining mass and definition. Lee Haney weaponized this secret and won the coveted title eight times. The definition involves working on every muscle in the body until it erupts to show fissures and faults. Haney would then work to sculpt, hammer, and chisel out to bring out a killer frame. These two aspects of bodybuilding are achieved through sweat and toil, as Haney would put it.
Dorian Yates used his woes at a youth detention center in England to become one of the best bodybuilders. Yates’ bodybuilding career had principles that saw him scoop the title six times. The five principles that guided his training include:
- Rest-pause training principle
- Forced reps training principle
- Descending sets training principle
- Partial reps training principle
- Reverse-gravity training principle
These techniques have proven quite effective in the long term and would come in handy if you wish to follow in his footsteps.
Ronnie Coleman started as a footballer before venturing into bodybuilding. He had a robust training program comprising squats, lunges and leg extensions, hack squats, and leg presses. However, Coleman’s biggest secret is a modified push/pull/legs split. He would train six days a week and rest on the 7th. Ronnie Coleman ties with Lee Haney as the most successful Mr. Olympias in history.
Jay Cutler unseated Ronnie Coleman by winning the title in 2006. He went ahead to defend it the following year. You have to be hardcore to keep up with Cutler’s 10-Rule Never-ending-growth training routine. However, the most intriguing part of his training is the ‘meat and potatoes’ shoulder training exercises. Apart from that, Cutler also did the seated dumbbell overhead presses. These two exercises combined gave him an enviable upper body structure. For a man who worked on the family concrete business to save for a gym membership, winning the Mr. Olympia title was a befitting reward.
Jackson also emphasized building quality muscles for long-term benefits. He weighed 215 pounds at 39, a 78-pound increase from 21 years. Upcoming bodybuilders and fitness experts have been examining him to try and discover his secrets. Jackson had a 6-point plan to emerge at the top in every competition. Here is his plan’s summary:
- Find a good trainer
- Change the nature of training with age
- Watch his diet keenly with regular cut-backs
- Replace heavyweights with machine workouts when old age comes knocking
- Flexing his arms whenever he felt doubtful of himself
- . Work out until you feel it in the muscles
Popularly known as ‘The Gift won and defended the title six times. His secret is on recovery. After days of hard training, Heath embarked on a recovery process that involved stretching to reduce stiffness. The stretching also speeds up the muscle recovery period, which a seasoned bodybuilder needs. Apart from good recovery, he also focused on the diet by eating the right foods. Phil Heath’s overall goal in his prime was to gain as much muscle as he could without adding too much subcutaneous fat.
The 2018 title winner had a rough start at bodybuilding after tearing a couple of tendons in his right hand. However, this setback didn’t deter him from becoming one of the best in the recent past. Having added about 100 pounds from when he started working out, he was among the oldest to win the title at 43. But, what is Shawn Rhoden’s secret to winning the title at such an old age? The late bodybuilder had a secret motivation that saw him defy all odds. He was criticized while on stage during the 2017 Mr. Olympia contest. The negative comments and criticism propelled him to win the title the following year.
Brandon Curry was the favorite to win the title in 2019 after a successful run in the Arnold Classic. He was among the oldest bodybuilders to ever win the title at 36. Like every other successful bodybuilder, Curry has secrets that have kept him at the helm. For instance, he has a training philosophy you don’t see in other bodybuilders. He mastered the techniques of training rather than focusing on strength alone. Curry trains for longevity and makes the muscles work. To him, stimulation is better than weights and performance.
The Egyptian sensation is the reigning and defending Mr. Olympia after unseating Brandon Curry. Mamdouh Elssbiay, unlike many pro bodybuilders, prefers a high-calorie diet. Ultimately, he has ended up with one of the most developed backs a bodybuilder can have. Apart from diet, ‘Big Ramy’ is also an ardent believer in hard work. A lover of chicken and rice, Elssbiay would occasionally spice up his meal to make it tastier. Big Ramy would walk on a machine, then moderately for 30-40 minutes a day. Perhaps this is the secret that helps him cut down on competition.
The Mr. Olympia competition is the ultimate contest for every bodybuilder, and winning the title is the dream of many. Many bodybuilders do not attain this milestone even though they work so hard. However, there are those who have won the title and defended it severally, and this begs the question, what is their secret? Follow these legends on their respective social media profiles to know more about their strategies.