We as bodybuilding fans normally look to the 1960’s and 1970’s as bodybuilding’s best years or even the “Golden Age”. Today we have many more bodybuilders that are bigger, leaner and dryer who are winning competitions today. A very few would honestly be able to argue that today’s competitors look better. At least aesthetically.
Today bodybuilding has in many ways become a search for the extreme: mass, conditioning, or freaky bodyparts. All of this is done in an attempt set yourself apart from other competitors. This is also accomplished at the sacrifice of aesthetics.
During the “Golden Age”, competitors had a certain “look” that eventually became their calling card: For instance Frank Zane’s lean aesthetics and Robbie Robinson’s symmetry. To achieve their specific look, bodybuilders would train differently, eat, and pose differently.
While reflecting on the great “Golden Age” of bodybuilding these are my most aesthetically pleasing bodybuilders of all time.
Serge Nubret – In my opinion Serge Nubret had the best physique of all time. This was the actual classic physique division is actually all about. His chest was better than Arnold’s. His abs were sharp as a razor blades and full muscle, Serge would be perfect for today’s classic physique division. In my opinion Serge’s physique was the best during the Golden Era. People may not want to admit it but I believe that it was actually better than Arnold’s. Back in the Golden Era he was known for his extremely high volume training. Known by his nickname “Black Panther” he never won an Olympia. But his aesthetics were seen as godlike.
Frank Zane – In my opinion Frank Zane is the Master of aesthetics. Mr. Frank Zane actually set the standard for aesthetics in bodybuilding. While setting this standard and changing the game he was able to win 3 Mr. Olympia contests. He may not have created the vacuum
pose, but he perfected it. Frank vacuumed once and it became one of the greatest poses in bodybuilding history. He was given the nickname “The Chemist” because he had a degree in science. In his prime he had a physique that many of us would describe as perfection.
Bob Paris – Bob Paris’s physique was often described as greek god like. Bob was equipped with everything. He had the perfect amount of muscle, to go along with his height. He was known for his flawless posing. He was seen as arguably the best poser of all time. Yeah, he was honestly that good. Bob Paris was never able to win a Mr. Olympia. Many believe that his sexuality(gay) may have had an influence in the those decision. Regardless of that we must still give the respect for being one of the most aesthetic bodybuilders of all time.
Shawn Ray – This could not be a respectable list without having Mr. Shawn Ray on it. Shawn Ray was actually the first bodybuilder that I ever saw (morning exercise shows on espn). Bob Paris was one of the main reasons Shawn Ray got into bodybuilding, as told in a 2005 interview. Shawn’s physique was perfectly symmetrical. He was one of the last competitors to incorporate the vacuum pose. When Shawn Ray competed, it was during a time when posing actually counted for something. With saying that, his posing was flawless. Regardless of what you may think of his attitude or antics we have to admit that Shawn Ray was one the greatest.
Cedric McMillan- I had to put Cedric McMillan as my top most aesthetic bodybuilder, because he has combined modern day mass with old school aesthetics. In my opinion, he is a bigger and better version of Arnold. Not only his size, but his posing actually takes me back to when bodybuilders from the golden age took their posing presentation seriously. Obviously, he never one an Olympia, he was always a threat to win.