Genetics, nutrition, and much more than just training go into what makes a physique great. However, with an extreme work ethic and consistency, we’ve seen some bodybuilders that looked like ordinary people (even skinny) become Mr. Olympias through their training styles.
It’s hard to guage how “hard” someone is training in the gym. At the given moment we do not know if they are carb-deprived, dehydrated, or what other factors that are making the training harder or easier. We can, however, take notice when someone is moving some heavy weight with proper form, for multiple reps, set after set. Here’s our list of what we have seen to be the top 5 hardest training bodybuilders, regardless of era or division, of all time.
1. Dorian Yates
Dorians reputation other than what we know of him as one of the first mass monsters with great conditioning was a “blood and guts” style training approach that involved extreme intensity using perfect form with low reps and only a few exercises. Although Dorian didn’t perform a lot of overall volume, the sheer intensity and overload placed on his muscles was enough to stimulate it to the max. Unfortunately, training like this has more of a risk for injury, leading Dorian to retire after tearing body parts (most notably, a bicep).
2. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Bodybuilders from the golden era always tell the same tale – nobody could hang with Arnold, especially on leg day. Although legs were a genetic weakness for Arnold, his grueling leg days alone had Franco Columbou skipping out on workouts. Back in the 70s and 80s it was common for bodybuilders at Golds gym to train for 3, 4, and even 5 hours per day. Arnold may not have used as much weight but the sheer volume alone represents why not much weight COULD even be used.
3. Ronnie Coleman
Just because Ronnie may be one of the most genetically gifted bodybuilders of all time, does not mean he can’t also be one of the hardest working. Ronnie maintained his Olympia titles while continuing to work as s police officer full time. Ronnie has several legendary videos of him dead lifting 800 lbs, squatting 700 for reps, and just plain scary lifts for hours inside of Metro flex gym, a gym with no AC in the Texas heat. Ronnie has shown more of the residual effects of his work ethic with 7 back surgeries and requiring a walker to move, but he states he has no regrets and if he could go back, he’d try to get another rep to make 3 reps with his 800 lb deadbeat.
4. Tom Platz
Tom may not have been one of the all time greatest bodybuilders, but he sure had the best legs of all time and used his hard training to amplify it to the extreme. Tom would tap into sn almost psycho level of intensity on his exercises and had strength to match – squatting 500 lbs for 23 reps. To this day, nobody has legs that have quite the shock factor that Tom Platz did. He was one of the first pioneers of the “sissy” squat using a hack squat.
5. Branch Warren
I may personally disagree with the training style Branch uses because of the extreme risk for injury, but I also cannot say I’ve placed as high as second at the Olympia with sub-par genetics. His extremely fast paced speed reps (also completed in the same extreme heat at the same gym as Ronnie Coleman) have taken their toll on his physique as well, but he is known for the slabs of dense, grainy muscle that no other bodybuilder brought to the stage (aside from maybe Dorian and a select few).