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Top 10 Bodybuilders

Submitted by IFBB Pro League Staff
The incredible Steve Reeves does it again,
a runaway first place in the top ten popularity poll.

The TOP 10
in 1971

*Reprinted from the July 1971 issue of MUSCLE BUILDER/POWER

Once again, Steve Reeves wins a bodybuilder’s popularity poll.  But some top names move on down the list.  Surprises and more surprises.

For months, we were puzzled by the reaction to our Top Ten Bodybuilder’s Contest advertisement.  Only those pictured in the articles received any votes.  Then we received a few letters from readers claiming we were unfair to some of the greatest bodybuilders in the world since we had not included their names in the ad.

Of course, we had not meant to mislead our readers.  For obvious reasons, we could not very well have pictures of every top bodybuilder.  But we got the point.  Our ad might well have been misleading.

So, determined to run an honest contest, we started all over again, this time pointing out clearly that readers were to vote for their own choice ten whether or not they were mentioned in our advertisement.  And immediately, a whole new set of names started coming in.  We also noted that one or two who had previously accumulated many votes were now falling by the wayside.

Almost unknown in the United States two
years ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger has risen
to the top of the bodybuilding tree. Only the magic of Reeves kept him from making
first place in the popularity stakes!

Even from the start, however, Steve Reeves seemed to dominate the scene.  We received returns from Germany, England and France and were pleasantly surprised to find their choice of physiques and their favorite bodybuilders were also very popular in America.  Only a few years ago, the bodybuilders of Europe went for the leaner type of physique.  But judging by the way they voted in this contest, things have changed.  Arnold Schwarzenegger seemed to be the favorite star of the Europeans, with Steve Reeves a close second.

American bodybuilders were torn between Sergio Oliva, Steve Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane.  The votes came in from all over the world and gradually it became obvious who would be the top man.  None other than Steve Reeves.  But a real battle was taking place between Sergio, Arnold and Frank Zane.  Many wrote that Sergio’s physique was exaggerated, that he was in a class of his own.  But not the kind of physique they would like to see at the top of the tree!  Others wrote that while Zane had beautiful lines, he lacked real muscular mass.  And still more figured Arnold Schwarzenegger needed more work on his legs.

As the months rolled by, Harold Poole and Bill Pearl, who started off very well, began to slip lower and lower down the lists.  Now Larry Scott was receiving an abundance of votes.  At the end of August our returns showed Steve Reeves in first place with 26,500 votes, Larry Scott in second place with 25, 806 and Sergio Oliva third with 25, 515.  Franco Columbu was coming up fast and we thought he might unseat Zane for fourth place.

By mid-September, Sergio Oliva had overtaken Larry Scott with 25,902 votes.  Steve Reeves had moved even further up with another 300 votes.  But Arnold Schwarzenegger was beginning to show his pace.  He registered 25,902 to click an amazing tie with the incredible Sergio.

It’s been a rough year for Sergio, three
defeats at the hands of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He made third place.

Then the big day.  Showtime.  We spent three days sorting out the results of the top ten contest.  The fans had had a chance to see the greatest and now many who had been reluctant to send in their votes did so now.  What a time we had adding up figures, making new listings and placing the stars.

Finally we were ready.  Incredibly, Steve Reeves retained his position with 30,000 votes.  Arnold Schwarzenegger zoomed past Oliva into second place with an astounding 27,516 and The Myth settled into third position with a total of 27,207.  That was that.  Poole dropped out of the first ten and Rick Wayne came in with a total of 25,116 just behind Columbu.

Below, we have listed the top ten bodybuilders of all time, as chosen by you the readers of MUSCLE BUILDER.  Our last count was taken on October 30th.

1. STEVE REEVES   30,008
2. Arnold Schwarzenegger   27,516
3. Sergio Oliva   27,207
4. Larry Scott   25,300
5. Frank Zane   25,222
6. Franco Columbu   25,118
7. Rick Wayne   25,116
8. Bill Pearl   25,000
9. Dave Draper   24,815
10.Chuck Sipes   24,812

And so, once again bodybuilders of the world have chosen Steve Reeves to top their popularity poll.  It is an incredible situation when one considers the fact that Steve last competed in a physique contest some twenty years ago.  Perhaps his movies have had a lot to do with the result of the contest; then again, it might be he possessed the kind of physique that appeals to the greater majority of bodybuilders.  Who knows?

Larry Scott started off well but
gradually fell back to fourth position.
Fifth place went to Mr. Universe &
Mr. World Frank Zane.
Franco Columbu makes the top ten
for the first time.

Only two votes separated Franco and
the amazing Rick Wayne.
Would show appearances have helped Bill Pearl earn a higher rating? Dave Draper came out of retirement to win the Mr. World title and a ninth
place in the polls.

Could Chuck Sipes’ absence from competitions have accounted for
his placing?



  1. 24 Comments to “Top 10 Bodybuilders”

  2. 1.Arnold Schwarzenegger
    2.Lee Haney
    3.Steve Reeves
    4.Kevin Levrone
    5.Ronnie Coleman
    6.Sergio Oliva
    7.Shawn Ray
    8.Dorian Yates
    9.Frank Zane
    10.Larry Scott

    By Plamen Handarov on Nov 4, 2008 at 7:36 pm

  3. My top ten would be
    1 Flex Wheeler
    2 Yates
    3 Shawn Ray
    4 Arnold
    5 Ronnie Coleman
    6 Steve Reeves
    7 Sergio
    8 Larry Scott
    9 Nasser Sonbaty
    10 Jay Cuttler

    By Buff Bodz on Nov 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm

  4. my all time great, and possibly the biggest legs i have ever seen goes to Tom Platzs.

    By K Gray on Jan 8, 2009 at 8:55 am

  5. 1-dorian yates
    2-flex wheeler
    3-jay cutler

    By shady on Feb 24, 2009 at 6:24 am

  6. 1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
    2. Lou Ferrigno
    3. Lee Haney
    4. Franco Colombu
    5. Tom Platz
    6. Dorian Yates
    7. Steve Reeves
    8. Flex Wheeler
    9. Frank Zane
    10. Sergio Olivia

    By BOB on Mar 14, 2009 at 8:15 pm

  7. 1.Arnold schwarzenegger
    2.lou ferrigno
    3.dorian yates
    4.nasser sonbati
    5.franco columbo
    6.frank zane
    7.steve reeves
    8.rick wayne
    9.lots of options
    10. lots of options

    By Tim on Mar 25, 2009 at 5:40 am

  8. Steve Reeves is without a question the greatest -everyone who else is mentioned was a heavy drug user – I don’t want to be self-rightous about drugs but come on – If any of you could push a botton and become that bodybuilder then I feel most would push Steve Reeves’ button 1st- There are those who more muscular, more veiny – more ripped, but for shear ideal looks he was and still is the man – Also look at when he got older and realize he still looked good, now look at some of the bodybuilders from the 60’s & 70’s they look like crap now, unless they are still juicing – To many of you are self-absorbed with the notion that bigger is better – when it is better is better – and Reeves was the best – Just ask your wives or girlfriends if the could choose to be with if you all were not in the picture, would it be Sergio, Arnold or Reeves – ???? I say Reeves

    By John Garberich on Apr 24, 2009 at 10:46 am

  9. 1.Arnold schwarzenegger
    2.Steve Reeves
    3.Ronnie Coleman
    4.Lee Haney
    5.Kevin Levrone
    7.Shawn Ray
    6.Sergio Oliva
    8.Dorian Yates
    9.Frank Zane
    10.Larry Scott

    By Mohsin on Jun 3, 2009 at 5:23 pm

  10. 1.ronnie coleman
    2.Dorian Yates
    3.Lee haney
    5.Jay cutler

    By Roger David on Oct 10, 2009 at 4:54 am

  11. When we are talking about top 10 bodybuilders, its mean who has the the most muscular body in the best shape, unfortunately, everybody put his personal ideas about this. Mr reeves was a very nice and handsome man but not as a great bodybuilder, Mr Arnold was great just only for his time but not now, If he and those old bodybuilders with same body shape that they had it in their time coming to match today with recent professional body builders, their places are hundreds behind new bodybuilders. The most old fashion bodybuilders just only some arm and chest, but they very weak in their other parts of body, specially on thigh, calve and lat. Forget those who use drug or who didn’t, this is not relevent to our ranking. Here is a real clash of the titans,If dorian yates didn’t have problem on his left arm, he was receiving his ten title in Mr olympia easily. Here is the real ranking:
    1. Dorian Yates
    2. Ronnie Coleman
    3. Flex Wheeler
    4. Jay Cutler
    5. Lee haney
    6. N. Sonbaty
    7. Dennis Wolf
    8. Markus Ruhl
    9. Kevin Levrone
    10.Dexter Jackson

    By Ralph(manchester) on Oct 28, 2009 at 1:12 am

  12. 1.Arnold

    By Neko Queenan on Nov 11, 2009 at 2:53 pm

  13. body

    By nagaraju on Dec 9, 2009 at 7:56 am

  14. top ten

    By nagaraju on Dec 9, 2009 at 8:05 am

  15. i want inspiration

    By samjanks on Dec 17, 2009 at 8:37 am

  16. hi h r u Body bilder guys??????????????????//

    By Rohin on May 17, 2010 at 1:41 pm

  17. ronnie 
    and in 3rd-10
    everyone else

    By dion on Jul 29, 2010 at 9:32 am

  18.  I am agreed with ralph's views If dorian hadnt that injury he would have one 10 titles.he was one of the best but arnold should have been in the top 10 list.

    By vinay on Oct 20, 2010 at 7:36 am


    By sameer khan on Nov 13, 2010 at 7:10 am

  20. no one can beat my arnold
    there is no chance
    the one and only man arnold

    By ARNOLD on Jun 2, 2011 at 11:29 pm

  21. 1) Sergio Oliva
    2) Arnold
    3) Frank Zane
    4) Mike Mentzer
    5) Serge Nubret
    6) Lou Ferrigno
    7) Lee Haney
    8) Chris Dickerson
    9) Franco
    10) Ed Corney

    By Angel Oliva on Aug 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm

  22. some people say arnie/reeves were only good in their time and could not compete today. thats like saying jesse owens was crap at 100m because he could not run sub 10 like usain bolt. its difficult because of so many era's.i try to be objective, arnie no 1, his upper body is for all time,compared to today his legs let him down. for me he's no1.
    i have never rated cutler as pleasing to the eye!
    i am not a pro and this is only my humble opinion .
    i wish i could have seen every era,but unfortunatly i have not, so my list will satisfy few,im sure.

    By rob on Oct 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm

  23. lets be realistic here

    By Joe on Nov 27, 2011 at 9:02 am

  24. 1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
    2. Lou Ferrigno
    3. Lee Haney
    4. Franco Colombu
    5. Tom Platz
    6. Dorian Yates
    7. Steve Reeves
    8. Flex Wheeler
    9. Frank Zane
    10. Sergio Olivia

    By affi on Jun 17, 2012 at 2:52 am

  25. 1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
    2. John Grimek
    3. Sergio Oliva
    4. Lee Haney
    5. Serge Nubret
    6. Reg Park
    7. Robbie Robinson
    8. Albert Beckles
    9. Flex Wheeler
    10. Ronnie Colman

    By Mark on Mar 23, 2014 at 5:58 am

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