Bodybuilding is about more than just having big biceps, round shoulders, and a wide back — competitors also have to have an equally impressive lower body if they want to tie their physique together. And over the last several decades, plenty of competitors have stepped on stage sporting some massive quads, calves, and hamstrings that helped them secure top spots at the biggest shows.
There’s no shortage of impressive legs in bodybuilding history, but these 10 competitors, in particular, are among the best of the best. From the man synonymous with the squat to the most decorated woman to ever compete at the Olympia, these legends are tough to top.
10 Competitors With the Biggest Legs in Bodybuilding History
With a nickname like “The Quadfather,” it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tom Platz found his way onto this list. Leg development was always important in bodybuilding, but Platz’s bulging quads and granite calves brought a wow factor to his lower body that helped redefine what elite legs should look like.
But Platz’s legs weren’t just there for show — his squatting strength was also absolutely legendary. Look no further than his guest-lifting stint at a powerlifting event at FIBO in Germany in 1993, when he squatted 525 pounds for 23 reps. Though there’s some speculation about the validity of this stunning feat, there’s no denying that his legs packed a real punch.
Eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman is considered by many to be bodybuilding’s G.O.A.T. And while his incredible back development is usually the first attribute many point out, his titanic legs aren’t far behind. His quads stood out in any front pose he hit, while his hamstrings and glutes made his back double biceps one of the best ever.
And like Platz, Coleman’s legs had power to match. Much of “The King’s” mystique comes from his 2003 training video The Cost of Redemption, where he is shown squatting 800 pounds for a double, followed by a set of leg presses with 2,300 pounds for eight reps. If there is one piece of footage that perfectly encapsulates bodybuilding’s “mass monster” era, this is it.
The man who ultimately dethroned Coleman as Mr. Olympia in 2006 also had solid legs to stand on. Jay Cutler won four Mr. Olympia titles and three Arnold Classic championships in his career — but in a sea of accomplishments, his famous “Quad Stomp” pose from the 2009 Mr. Olympia is head and shoulders above the rest.
That year, Cutler looked to regain the title after losing it to Dexter Jackson in 2008. During his routine, Cutler aggressively stomped the stage and flexed his quadriceps, which undulated hypnotically in front of the packed crowd.
Photographer Per Bernal was on hand to snap a photo of the pose, cementing it as an iconic moment in the sport. Those incredibly developed legs helped Cutler secure the title that year, and that image has since become a part of his legacy.
One of the only competitors capable of holding his own in the lower body department with Cutler was Branch Warren. A Texas native, Warren trained in the same Metrofelx gym as Ronnie Coleman in Arlington — and when you’re in the same building as “The King,” it’s hard not to be inspired to go a bit heavier in the squat rack.
Warren came up one spot short of Cutler at the Olympia in 2009, but he did win two Arnold Classics of his own in 2011 and 2012. And a big part of that success was the unreal leg development that earned him the fitting nickname: “Quadrasaurus.”
The Women’s Bodybuilding division is no stranger to beefy leg development, and at the top of that list is Irene Andersen. As one of the biggest athletes in the division, Andersen is perhaps best known for her ultra-muscular upper body — but don’t sleep on those wheels.
Her round quads and ripped hamstrings are among the best in the sport, and they’ve helped her place as high as fifth in the Ms. Olympia (2020 and 2021) and third in the 2019 Rising Phoenix World Championships. But the real highlight here might be her calves, which more than hold their own when compared to the rest of Andersen’s stunning mass.
Following the retirement of eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney in 1991, Dorian Yates took the torch and ran with it as the most dominant bodybuilder of the 1990s. “The Shadow” was known for his high-intensity training style known as “Blood and Guts,” which focused on one or two all-out sets that pushed his muscles to absolute failure.
And while most bodybuilders at the time opted for more volume in their training, Yates proved his strategy worked every time he walked on stage with a set of legs that carried him to six Sandow trophies.
Yates was forced to retire due to injuries following his win at the 1997 Olympia, but he was considered to have the best pair of legs since Platz at the time. And to achieve that mass, Yates said he leaned heavily on Smith machine squats, rather than free-weight barbell squats, as his career progressed.
When Kai Greene first hit the scene in 2006, people thought he was in line to be the next Ronnie Coleman due to their similar muscle structure. And like Coleman, Greene sported a pair of well-defined, muscular legs that perfectly complemented his wide back and rounded shoulders.
One of the secrets of Greene’s success was his showmanship and top-tier talent as a poser, which allowed him to present his legs better than nearly anyone else in the sport at the time. His complete package earned him the runner-up spot at the Mr. Olympia from 2012 to 2014, along with three Arnold Classic titles in 2009, 2010, and 2016.
Despite competing against multi-time champions like Lenda Murray and Iris Kyle, Yaxeni Oriquen still found a way to capture the vaunted Ms. Olympia title in 2005, along with five Ms. International wins in her career. And one of the most important parts of her game was an elite pair of legs that few — if any — could match.
Though there were times that Oriquen’s legs actually overpowered her upper body, the judges didn’t seem to mind, as she still walked away with a fair share of hardware during her career. Even as the women in the division get bigger and bigger every year, Oriquen is still remembered as one of the greats.
In a sport filled with dominant champs and long-lasting dynasties, there is only one athlete who can lay claim to 10 total Olympia titles: Iris Kyle. Her collection of Ms. Olympia wins during her 15-year career is a testament to her consistency in the gym and her ability to refine and improve her physique from contest to contest.
While Kyle is known for a show-stopping pair of quads, you can argue that her hamstrings really brought her physique together. When she turned around and showcased her complete physique from the back, it was almost always enough to separate herself from the pack.
The modern-day example of leg day goals could be two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay. Even back at his pro debut at the 2013 New York Pro, Ramy’s extreme quad development separated him from everyone else on the stage. They were so large, in fact, that they overpowered his calves — but that didn’t stop him from winning the show and serving notice to everyone else in the Men’s Open division.
Elssbiay did his homework after that show, and he improved his calves and hamstrings in the years to come. Eventually, his hulking quads were more in line with the rest of his legs and flowed more seamlessly with his upper body. The result was arguably the best physique in the sport in 2020 when he won his first Mr. Olympia title and then successfully defended his crown the following year.
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