How the Mr. Olympia contest influenced your workouts
It doesn’t matter whether your passion is CrossFit, bodybuilding or general fitness, you were probably influenced in some way by Joe Weider, his fitness magazines and the creation of the first Mr. Olympia contest. Here’s how the godfather of pump changed the fitness industry forever and turned freakish into mainstream, paving the way for you to enjoy the sport you love.
The first Muscle magazine
It all began in 1953, when Joe Weider started his first bodybuilding magazine, called Muscle Builder, where the average kid who wanted to build a strong and muscular body could read and learn about new exercises, training programs and fitness tips from the leading experts in the field. The magazine was at first printed from his parents’ basement. It later grew to include info about supplements, weightlifting equipment, and scientific research that advanced and promoted the fitness lifestyle. This caused a surge of interest in weightlifting through the ’70s that has continued to grow to this very day. This renaissance of fitness led to a dynasty of Weider publications that included Shape, Flex, Men’s Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, and Muscle and Fitness Hers, making working out and getting in shape more mainstream for the average person and not just for musclebound bodybuilders.
Creating the Mr. Olympia contest
The original Mr. Olympia contest was also the brainchild of Joe Weider, who created the Super Bowl of physique contests by coming up with the idea of putting the best bodies in the world on stage and having them fight it out for the coveted Olympia title. The first Olympia contest was held Sept. 18, 1965, and over time created household names like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Larry Scott, Steve Reeves, Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbo. Images of stronger, more muscular males bled into American culture through books, magazines, movies and, of course, the annual Mr. Olympia contest.
Mr. Olympia 2014
The Mr. Olympia contest has grown by leaps and bounds since 1965, and it’s not just traditional bodybuilding anymore. It includes several events that are more mainstream and likely to pique the interest of less extreme fitness addicts. The event is held annually in Las Vegas, and it includes several other contests including the women’s bikini, women’s fitness, women’s figure, and men and women’s physique Olympia. I attended the event again this year and witnessed the celebration of its 50th anniversary, and I was amazed at the amount of fitness buffs and industry that surrounds the sport. This year Phil Heath won his fifth Mr. Olympia title and was presented the award by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.
The impact of the Olympia
The Mr. Olympia contest and the early muscle magazines turned the once obscure sport of bodybuilding into a popular American pastime, and continues to influence the direction of the fitness industry today. Whether you consider yourself a bodybuilder, CrossFitter or fitness enthusiast, without the early Weider muscle magazines and the Mr. Olympia contest, vast amounts of equipment, nutritional supplements and knowledge based on scientific research would not be available today to help young newcomers interested in building a better, more healthy body get started.
In addition, a revolution in women’s fitness was also started by these events and has continued to grow in size and intensity.
So whether you consider modern bodybuilding an extreme sport or a valuable pastime, the Mr. Olympia contest has had a profound influence on the fitness industry for the past 50 years.