Sunday, October 13, 2019
Some Strong Bodybuilders
Remember Flex magazine? Sure, you used to see it on the mag rack when you were buying groceries, right? Well, hard copy magazine times are tough, so now all you get is a Muscle & Fitness digital issue "supplement" called Flex.
So, if you're looking for Flex, that's were you'll find it now.
Here's an article by Greg Merritt from the latest.
At 5'11" and around three bills in contest shape, Big Ron couldn't possibly have uses all that cartoonish muscle, right? But unlike some others on our list, eight-time Mr. Olympia (1998-2005) Coleman wasn't especially strong in one thing: pushing or pulling or squatting; he was ridiculously strong in EVERYTHING.
There are videos of his squatting 765 for 4 reps, 800 for 2, and deadlifting 800 for a double.
But low rep lifts were something he did mainly for the camera. Coleman generally stuck to moderate reps but never moderate weights. He bench pressed 200 pound dumbbells for 12 and leg pressed a ton (literally) for 10. In August 2004, I saw him T-Bar row 645 before snapping the handle. And then there are tales of his doing parking lot lunges with 365.
No one racked up more absurd-but-true numbers than the eight-time Mr O.
Although he was only 5'5" and about 185 pounds, the two-time Mr. Olympia's (1976, 1981) best reported lifts were a 750 deadlift, a 665 squat, a 525 bench press, and a 400 clean & jerk. While these numbers are tough to verify, there is photographic evidence.
The Sardinian strongman also bent half-inch steel bars, blew up hot water bottles until they exploded, and deadlifted cars. In 1977 he was fifth in the inaugural World's Strongest Man behind four giants who each outweighed him by around 100 pounds.
Pound for pound, Columbu may have been the strongest bodybuilder of all time.
In the '90s at Gold's Gym Venice, Cormier was known as much for his strength as his physique -- and that's saying a lot. He won 11 pro contests, finished third in the Olympia twice (1999, 2002), and was second in the Arnold Classic six years in a row (2000-05).
Still, for those like yours truly, who saw his workouts in the Mecca, it's the numbers he put up -- especially on chest and legs -- that were truly scary.
He incline pressed 525 for 2 and 405 for 12 (halting each rep about three inches above his chest). He did 1,200 pound leg presses for 30, 900 pound reverse hack squats for 10, and 675 pound squats without even a belt -- proving he was "The Real Deal."
As a bodybuilder, Jackson has racked up seven victories, including first at both the 2017 Arnold Classic South Africa and the Toronto Pro. And though he started powerlifting after bodybuilding, he was soon triumphing at both.
Three weeks before he won the 2001 NPC Nationals, Jackson set the deadlift world record in the 220-lb. class at 814. The 47 year old had totaled 2,127 in competition, including a 540 bench press and 828 squat.
Maybe the 5'5" Jackson's most impressive lift, captured on video, was performing side laterals for 10 reps with 100 pound dumbbells. That's more than most guys can press -- and while weighing only 230.
Jackson rivals Columbu as the strongest "light" bodybuilder of all time.
Unlike the other eight on our list, Efferding is better known as a powerlifter than a bodybuilder. That's why it may surprise you that he did his first physique contest way back in 1988, eight years before his initial powerlifting meet. After nine years away from competitions, he returned to both sports in his 40s. And it was then that he really excelled.
He won the 2009 Masters title, securing IFBB Pro League status, and landed in single digits (ninth) in the 2011 Flex Pro.
Meanwhile, he established himself as the premier raw powerlifter in the world. Efferding was uniquely strong in all three lifts - his official raw powerlifting marks include a 606 bench, 865 squat, and an 837 deadlift. In 2013 he compiled 2,227, breaking the 275 pound raw powerlifting total record that had stood for 41 years.
Oh, and three years ago, Efferding won the Olympia World's Strongest Bodybuilder -- just in case there was any doubt.
If we're talking Platz, we're talking wheels. And if we're talking Platz's wheels, we're talking squats -- narrow stance, full squats -- for mega reps. Perhaps no one has ever journeyed further into the pain zone of take-no-prisoners squatting.
Platz, who finished third in the 1981 Mr. Olympia, claims to have squatted 15 reps with 635 and 52 with 350, and to have squatted for 10 minutes straight (more than 100 reps) with 225 on numerous occasions, always while weighing less than 230. These numbers might seem quite dubious, but check out the video of him squatting 525 for 23 butt-to-ankles reps, shot in 1992, five years after he retired from bodybuilding.
Believe your own eyes, and know that Tom Platz is the greatest high rep squatter who ever stood in a power rack.
After winning the 1989 USA Championships, the 25-year old Robinson exploded into the big leagues with a victory in his pro debut the following year. In retrospect, it was his peak. In 13 additional IFBB Pro League contests, this 5'8" Floridian never placed higher than fourth. He was only 34 when he retired.
Likewise, he racked up some staggering powerlifting marks while still young. We're skeptical of the biggest numbers, but there's a photo of him locking out an estivated 535 bench while wearing just a T-shirt. That's amazing when you consider he powerlifted in the 220 pound class when barely out of his teens.
He left competitive benching behind after 1986 (the year he turned 22) to pursue bodybuilding, leaving us to wonder how much he could have benched if he'd continued to chase higher numbers for another decade or two.
As it is, no pro bodybuilder has ever manhandled more weight at a younger age than Robinson.
Viator, who passed away in 2013 at 62 years old, won the 1971 Mr. America at 19 and was arguably the greatest teenage bodybuilder ever. He competed only sporadically after that, but he won three pro contests in 1980 and was third in the 1982 Mr. Olympia, shortly before retiring at 31.
Like Platz, he was a paragon of high rep, high intensity strength. These Viator lifts were purportedly witnessed by a journalist in a 1971 full body workout: squat, 505 x 14; press behind neck, 215 x 20; dip, 100 x 20; barbell curl, 200 x 20, and deadlift, 400 x 30.
There's photographic evidence of his using even greater weights in later years, though for fewer reps. By the standards of his era, Viator was considered a mass monster.
The size he was then, 230 at 5'8", is no longer shocking.
But the weights he used for 20 or more reps are still frightening.
White excelled as a powerlifter specializing in the bench press before he earned his IFBB Pro League card by winning the 2007 USA Championships.
In 2003, he benched 605 raw in the 275 pound class. This is the ninth-best raw bench press of all time in a 275 or lighter class. (Efferding's 606.5 is No.8).
That same year, he deadlifted 705 raw.
Equally impressive as White's one-rep best are his high-rep barrages. There's a video of him bench pressing 100-lb. dumbbells for a preposterous 50 reps. White won a pro bodybuilding contest in 2010, but that's about it.
Even if you never qualified for the Olympia again, he'll still be one of the lightest men to bench press 600 raw.
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- Some Strong Bodybuilders
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