beefcake bonanza

PHOTOS: 25 vintage pics of male bodybuilders that’ll have you thirsting for protein

Bodybuilding is nothing new. In fact, it’s ancient. Like, it goes all the way back to ancient Greece. Back to a time when the Greeks had a humanist belief system, aka an obsession with physical beauty and athleticism. Believing that the perfect body was godly, Greeks used giant rocks, logs, and even animals as their gym equipment. The belief even went so deep that they decided to put pecs and abs on their armor. 

Fast forward to the late 19th century. Not only were European strongmen still bodybuilding, but they were also stepping it up at the circus. How? By bending perfectly good frying pans, lifting elephants for fun, and casually having a car full of people run them over. Competition was in the air for these beefcakes, and modern-ish bodybuilding was born.

These days, bodybuilding competitions look a little different. Competitors will line up and strike specific poses for a panel of judges. The oiled-up hulks are then ranked on symmetry, muscularity, size, conditioning, posing, and stage presents. And to PETA’s relief, not picking up large animals.

So, start gawking at some stongmen and get ready for some vintage muscle worship.

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  • Louis

    Not really to my taste (most have very odd shaped bodies) but #3, #5 and at a push the homoerotic duo are decent enough.

    Interesting to see though that even today people try to look the same as back then.


    Nice to see a young Lou Ferrigno (8) in the lineup.

  • uberhund

    Yes, I thought it was a bit bad that none of these men are credited: I think Ferrigno appears more than once, and there is also Charles Atlas and of course Schwartzenegger. I think if Queerty is going to use these men’s hard work and achievements then they should at least be treated as people and given names.

    • WendellE

      I agree. I recognized, or was able to google:

      2 Steve Reeves
      4 Rick Wayne
      5 Charles Atlas
      8 Lou Ferrigno
      9 Jack LaLanne
      10 Lou Ferrigno
      11 Arnold Schwarzenegge
      12 Reg Park
      15 Eugen Sandow
      17 One website says the picture is backstage at the 1973 Mr. Universe in Geneva, but doesn’t identify them
      18 Ed or Mike Mentzer?
      19 Mr. Murray
      21 Larry Stevens and his trainer
      23 Charles Atlas
      24 Jody McCrea

  • Matthewnow

    Don’t understand the mentality to abuse one’s body to such an extent that it destroys the natural form and qualities of a real man. Stick a pin in them and see if they fly away.

  • Gadfeal

    Having frequented gyms 5 days a week until my 30s, I think that anyone with abnormally muscular trapezei (shoulder muscles), stratching from the back of the neck to the tip of the shoulders most likely used anabolic steroids, from Lou Ferrigno to Arnold Schwarzenegger; you just can’t get such shoulders by “natural” means.

  • Mary Jane

    I like the look of the body and the pose by the short light hair, next to Lou. Wasn’t Lou in the Travelers movie?

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