Arnold Classic: One of the Most Prestigious Bodybuilding Contests

The Arnold Classic is highly regarded as one of the most prestigious bodybuilding contests, second only to Mr. Olympia. This is partly because of its association with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a legendary figure in the sport, and its history of attracting top-tier competitors. Since its inception, it has consistently showcased high-caliber athletes, making it a coveted title in the bodybuilding community.

The Arnold Classic is unique due to its broader scope, encompassing a wide range of sporting events and fitness expos, making it more than just a bodybuilding competition. While Mr. Olympia is considered the pinnacle of bodybuilding success, the Arnold Classic offers a more diverse experience, attracting a wider audience beyond just bodybuilding enthusiasts.

The 1980s and 1990s: The Beginning

The Arnold Classic began in 1989, with the first competition being won by Rich Gaspari. The competition was a significant milestone in the fitness world, as it was the first time that a bodybuilding competition of this scale was held.

The competition continued to grow in popularity throughout the 1990s. Some notable winners from this era include Mike Ashley in 1990, Shawn Ray in 1991, and Vince Taylor in 1992. Flex Wheeler and Kevin Levrone also made their mark during this era, with Wheeler winning the competition in 1993 and Levrone taking home the trophy in 1994.

At the beginning the aesthetical focus was on a balanced, muscular, yet aesthetically pleasing physique. Later in the 1990s the trend shifted towards more mass and size, often at the expense of symmetry.

The 2000s: The Era of Dominance

The 2000s saw the emergence of several dominant figures in the Arnold Classic. Flex Wheeler continued his success from the 1990s, winning the competition in 2000. Ronnie Coleman, a well-known figure in the bodybuilding world, won the competition in 2001.

However, the most dominant figure of this era was undoubtedly Jay Cutler. Cutler won the competition three times consecutively in 2002, 2003, and 2004. This feat cemented Cutler's status as one of the greatest bodybuilders of his generation.

This era saw further emphasis on size and muscle mass, with competitors getting bigger.

2010s and Beyond: The Recent History

The Arnold Classic has continued to be a major event in the bodybuilding world in the 2010s and beyond. Dennis Wolf won the competition in 2014, and the competition has continued to attract top bodybuilding talent from around the world.

There was a gradual shift back towards aesthetics, with a renewed focus on symmetry and conditioning.

Currently, there's a balance between mass and aesthetics, with different categories catering to various preferences, from mass monsters to classic physiques.

Evolution of Body Building Aesthetics over the Ages

Front Lat Spread

Front Double Biceps

Most Muscular

Abdominal and Thigh

Side Chest

Back Double Biceps

Rear Lat Spread

Side Triceps


The Arnold Classic has been a significant platform for bodybuilders for over three decades. The competition has seen several dominant figures emerge, including Flex Wheeler, Kevin Levrone, and Jay Cutler. The competition continues to be a major event in the bodybuilding world, attracting top talent from around the globe. The legacy of the Arnold Classic is a testament to the enduring popularity of bodybuilding and the impact that this competition has had on the sport.

The Arnold Classic serves as a reminder of the dedication, discipline, and determination required to succeed in bodybuilding. The competition's rich history and the success of its participants serve as an inspiration for aspiring bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts around the world.

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