The 10 Most Aesthetic Physiques from Bodybuilding's Golden Era – Muscle & Fitness

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The legendary Greek figure, Adonis, was said to have possessed such unearthly physical beauty that even the goddess of love herself, Aphrodite, couldn’t help but fall head over heels for the delectable deity. In honor of Adonis, and those who’ve aspired to follow his lead in a quest for perfection, we present you with our list of the 10 most aesthetic physiques from the Golden Era (1960s-1980s) of bodybuilding.
For this ranking, we’ve carefully curated a list of the most aesthetic physiques to come out of the era, deliberated on by experts including bodybuilding legends, journalists, and members of the M&F team.
The three-time Mr. Olympia shares what helped him stand out on bodybuilding’s biggest stage.
1 of 10
Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness
Birthdate: August 29, 1953
Height: 5’3″
Weight: 160 pounds
Egypt’s Mohamed Makkawy stood just at just 5’3″, but he made a big impact on pro bodybuilding. Makkawy’s stature within the sport could be more easily measured by the esteem he garnered from fellow competitors than from his height. A memorable photograph depicts a grinning Lee Haney, less than a year shy of the first of his eight Olympia wins, hoisting Makkawy into the air on the occasion of just having been defeated by his much smaller rival at the 1983 English Grand Prix.
Despite the groundbreaking size, shape, and overall quality of young Haney, Makkawy’s ethereal qualities bordered on human physical perfection, leading to six IFBB pro victories in 1982 and 1983.
2 of 10
Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness
Birthdate: July 4, 1941
Height: 5’10″
Weight: 240 pounds
Sergio Oliva, known as “The Myth,” was a phenom the likes of which has not been seen before or since. Suffice to say, he was the only bodybuilder that invoked fear in the heart of the nearly invincible Arnold Schwarzenegger. . . now that’s saying something.
The Cuban émigré started his iron-pumping career as an Olympic weightlifter for Fidel Castro’s national team. After coming to America in the early 1960s, he soon discovered that he had the God-given structure to be a world-class bodybuilder. In 1967, he climbed to the pinnacle and won the Olympia for three consecutive years until he was bested by Schwarzenegger in 1970. Oliva was the most massive guy of his day, but the seamless flow of his muscle groups was truly a thing of beauty. 
3 of 10
Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness
Birthdate: May 24, 1946
Height: 5’7″
Weight: 200 pounds
Robby Robinson was one of the all-time greatest bodybuilders. He finished second to Frank Zane in the 1977 and ’78 Mr. Olympias, and won eight IFBB pro contests over the span of his competitive career, including the inaugural Masters Mr. Olympia. Robinson’s finely detailed and streamlined physique of the late ’70s was far ahead of its time.
Since his retirement, Robinson has been open about his opposition to excessive steroid use, stating in a 2008 interview, “I think it’s taking away from the beauty of bodybuilding, the artistry of it.”
4 of 10
Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness
Birthdate: November 11, 1959
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 248 pounds
In bodybuilding, there are legends, and then there are Legends, with a capital L. Appropriately enough, L also stands for Lee, as in Lee Haney. To many, Haney’s emergence on the pro bodybuilding scene was a kind of epiphany: a bodybuilder can actually be the biggest guy and the best, too. At 5’11” and tipping the scales anywhere between 233 and 248 pounds, Haney was often the largest contestant onstage during his pro career, spanning 1983 to 1991.
Haney employed a triple threat of groundbreaking size, stellar shape, and spot-on conditioning, enabling him to garner a record eight Olympia titles. Haney’s influence on the sport of bodybuilding has been felt to this day, as competitors attempt to bring their mass to a whole new level, while keeping the lines that brought them to the dance in the first place.
5 of 10
Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness
Birthdate: June 28, 1942
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 185 pounds
When Zane defeated an enormous young Austrian bodybuilder named Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1968—at a deficit of some 60 pounds—people took notice. Stellar lines and attention to detail had won the day over jaw-dropping mass. The implications in no small way inspired Schwarzenegger to develop the transcendent physique he would display a few short years later and helped shape the entire sport itself. Zane continued in his pursuit of physical perfection and very nearly reached it.
At 5’9″ and just shy of 200 pounds, Zane garnered three straight Olympia titles by outfinessing, not outmassing, bodybuilding’s best in 1977, ’78, and ’79.
6 of 10
Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness
Birthdate: November 7, 1955
Height: 5’7″
Weight: 190 pounds
Samir Bannout presented a physique at the 1983 Mr. Olympia contest in Munich, Germany, that came close to matching the ideal embodied by the figure of Adonis. Of course, favorable genetics are at play when we’re talking about the best of the best. But, good genes or not, Bannout did his gym homework as diligently as any of the other legends on this list. Bannout presented an ideal balance of shape and mass.
At 5’7″, he carried just the right amount of mass to be able to stand with both the elephants and the gazelles, which is appropriate for someone referred to as the “Lion of Lebanon.”
7 of 10
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Birthdate: July 30, 1947
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 235 pounds
With an oversized personality to match his large muscles and tall frame, seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger was a natural onstage and in front of the camera (bodybuilding, cinematic, and political). In his pro career, Schwarzenegger lost to only two men: Frank Zane at the 1968 Mr. Universe and Sergio Oliva at the 1969 Mr. Olympia. Following the latter, he never lost another contest. 
Arnold remains one of the largest voices and advocates of professional bodybuilding, and in 2016, spearheaded a movement encouraging judges to reward the small waists, v-tapers, and overall aesthetics reminiscent of the Golden Era.
8 of 10
Art Zeller
Birthdate: October 6, 1938
Height: 6′
Weight: 220 pounds
France’s Serge Nubret (far left in the above photo) could be included on a number of “best of” lists other than this one: “Best abs,” “best chest,” and “best impression of a work of art” are just a few possibilities. Throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, Nubret was bodybuilding’s standard-bearer of grace. When he walked to center stage, it appeared as if he was gliding inches above the floor. His body seemed to slide into poses as if each was created specifically for him. His form was graceful, yet extremely powerful.
At the 1975 Mr. Olympia, Nubret managed, at a bodyweight of only 200 pounds, to best the hulking Lou Ferrigno, who outweighed him by nearly 70 pounds, en route to a second-place finish in the tall class, behind Arnold Schwarzenegger.
9 of 10
Weider Health & Fitness
Birthdate: March 8, 1960
Height: 5’6″
Weight: 185 pounds
“A good big man will always defeat a good little man.” So goes a timeworn bodybuilding proverb. But what if the good “little man” is so good that few men, big or small, can beat him? In other words, what if your name is Lee Labrada? With the exception of taller-than-average height, Labrada had it all: shape, proportion, rock-hard conditioning, and mass to spare.
Standing 5’6″, he could often outmass and outfinesse taller competitors. He won his pro card in 1985 and promptly made a statement by winning his first contest, the 1986 Night of Champions. He would go on to win six more pro contests before hanging up his posing trunks in 1995. In 1989 and 1990, Labrada took second at the Olympia to the other legendary Lee of his era, Haney. A case could be made for Labrada deserving the title of “Uncrowned Mr. Olympia.” 
10 of 10
Courtesy of Weider Health & Fitness
Birthdate: December 14, 1959
Height: 6’
Weight: 230 pounds
Although he never earned a Sandow trophy, Bob Paris tops our list as the epitome of aesthetics. From his first appearance in a national bodybuilding contest, the 1982 NPC USA, Bob Paris had the sport abuzz about his “perfect” physique. The following year, Paris took home top honors at the NPC Nationals, earning his pro card.
Surprisingly, he would never place higher than third in a pro career that spanned nine years, but he became the unanimous standard-bearer of the aesthetic ideal. Contrary to the general perception that balanced bodybuilders were relative lightweights in the gym, Paris was a hardcore gym rat who often tackled power exercises in his training routine. 
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