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Who Is the Strongest Mr. Olympia Winner?


Since the first competition in 1965, 17 athletes have won the Mr. Olympia, with many of them going on to win the title multiple times throughout their careers. Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney hold the record at eight wins apiece, while the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Heath sit just a hair below them with seven titles during their careers.

As we are often reminded, the Mr. Olympia is awarded for the best physique in bodybuilding — it’s not a strength contest. However, strength is an essential component in building all that prize-winning muscle, and many past champs were known for incredible feats of iron dominance.

Below, we highlight 10 of the strongest Mr. Olympia champions in the sport’s history. The list is based on information available on each competitor’s squat, bench, deadlift, and other strength benchmarks.

10 of the Strongest Mr. Olympia Winners

Franco Columbu
Ronnie Coleman
Jay Cutler
Sergio Oliva
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Frank Zane
Brandon Curry
Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay
Hadi Choopan
Dorian Yates

Franco Columbu

Weighing between 185 and 200 pounds on stage, the “Sardinian Samson” is one of the strongest competitors to ever grace the Olympia. Not only did he compete in bodybuilding, but he also took part in the inaugural 1977 World Strongest Man contest, where he held his own against much larger competitors before an injury forced him out early.

Before this, he also competed in powerlifting, which really solidified his reputation for pure power. Throughout his career, Columbu claimed he maxed out at a 655-pound squat, a 525-pound bench, and, amazingly, a 750-pound deadlift.

Ronnie Coleman

This likely won’t come as a shock to any bodybuilding fans out there, but Ronnie Coleman holds the highest powerlifting total of any Mr. Olympia champ.

Even today, Coleman’s training exploits are the stuff of legend, with his 800-pound squat video totaling more than 61 million views on YouTube alone. And with memorable catchphrases like “Light weight, baby!” and “Ain’t nothing but a peanut,” Coleman managed to turn himself from a top-tier bodybuilder into a full-fledged fitness icon.


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Bodybuilders were always viewed as strong before Coleman — but “The King” took things to a whole different level. In addition to the 800-pound squat, Coleman also hit 800 pounds on the deadlift for two reps and bench-pressed 495 pounds for five reps. And unlike Columbu, we have video evidence for all of these feats, leaving absolutely no question about his legendary power.

Jay Cutler

It’s impossible to mention Coleman without discussing his long-time rival, and four-time Mr. Olympia champion, Jay Cutler. The battle for the Sandow during the 2000s was, in effect, a battle between these two titans. Whereas Coleman advertised himself as a bodybuilder who loved lifting heavy, Cutler consistently focused more on his muscle quality than the weight he lifted.

Don’t get fooled, though, because Cutler moved plenty of big numbers during his younger days. In multiple videos and interviews, he has talked about squatting until his nose bled and maxing out on the bench as part of his regular routine in the years before earning his first Olympia.

In terms of raw power, Cutler claimed a 700-pound squat, a 585-pound deadlift for three reps, and a 550-pound bench for two reps. Not quite Coleman numbers, but definitely not pure finesse totals, either.

Sergio Oliva

As is perhaps becoming clear, many of the most successful Mr. Olympia winners began their careers in more traditional strength sports. And you can count Sergio Oliva as one of the earliest examples of this.

In his younger days, Oliva boasted a 1,000-pound total for the Cuban weightlifting team before winning the Mr. Olympia in 1967, 1968, and 1969. “The Myth,” as contemporaries nicknamed him, brought a different kind of intensity and volume to his workouts, which he often performed in a circuit with very little rest.

While no recordings of his max deadlift exist, Iron Man magazine reported that Oliva could squat 500 pounds for 10 reps and bench press 225 pounds for an astonishing 50 reps. 

“How could this 200-plus-pound guy with such a tiny waist pull weights like that, moving so fast, the weight was a blur,” Iron Man publisher John Balik wrote in Oliva’s obituary back in 2012. “Graceful is the only way to describe the way Sergio moved.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

There aren’t many areas where seven-time Olympia winner Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t excel in. He had the physique, the posing ability, and the raw strength to rank among the best, and he’s still viewed as one of the sport’s greatest superstars more than 40 years after stepping off the stage for good.

Like Columbu, Schwarzenegger began his strength sports career with brief stints in powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting, finding moderate success in both before turning his attention to bodybuilding full-time. But that didn’t put a halt to his strength pursuits.


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Anyone who watched the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron knows that Schwarzenegger loved to push himself in the gym, and his weight totals are proof of that. In his career, “The Austrian Oak” claimed a 550-pound squat, a 710-pound deadlift, and a 525-pound bench press.

Frank Zane

Frank Zane isn’t a bodybuilder many would typically associate with strength, given that it was his dedication to symmetry that made him so successful. But he actually experimented with powerlifting early in his career.

As a 175-pound athlete, he deadlifted 425 pounds and bench-pressed 285 pounds. Later during his bodybuilding career, Zane could squat 405 pounds for 10 reps, bench press 300 pounds for 10 reps, and deadlift 425 pounds.

Zane later switched to rack pulls using lifting straps and a wide grip — like the Reeves deadlift — where he pulled 555 pounds for reps. Like Columbu, this was at a sub-200-pound body weight with little body fat. While he may not be famed for his strength, Zane was still a contender.

Brandon Curry

Brandon Curry is a recent addition to the list of Olympia champions, having captured the crown in 2019. But he pushes heavy weights and high volume just like any old-school competitor on this list.

While Curry typically stays away from traditional flat barbell bench press due to injuries, he has been filmed pressing what looks to be 275 for 12 reps using a Swiss bar with relative ease. And that was after he pressed 140-pound dumbbells for a set of 15 on the flat bench.

Onto the legs, a video before the 2021 Mr. Olympia showed him squatting 505 pounds for reps with a safety bar, after he had pre-exhausted his quads with heavy leg presses and leg extensions. 

Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay

Big Ramy is one of the most physically imposing Olympia champions of all time, having secured the title in 2020 and 2021. He tips the scales at over 300 pounds in the off-season, and like many of his contemporaries, he mainly trains with moderate weights for relatively high reps.

On the bench press, he’s been recorded pushing 365 pounds for 10 reps with relative ease. As fitness writer Greg Merritt observed, Ramy rarely, if ever, pushes his strength to extremes. But if you take that 365 pounds for 10 reps and put it into a one-rep max calculator, you’ll see that Ramy could be capable of a 485-pound total.

Prior to the 2022 Mr. Olympia, Ramy also released a video showing him squatting 565 pounds for reps. Likewise, he could rep 495 pounds on the deadlift as part of his back workout. Again it’s important to note his use of high reps and low rest periods when training.

Hadi Choopan

Reigning Mr. Olympia, and the favorite for the 2023 contest, Hadi Choopan is a worthy inclusion on this list. He’s quickly established himself as a fan favorite for his unique combination of power and symmetry. And while the former 212 division star often looks small on stage compared to his contemporaries, he still turns heads thanks to his intense training style.

He can rep 675 pounds on the squat, and in terms of supremely heavy deadlift sets, he can get up to 705 pounds for two reps. On the bench press, meanwhile, Choopan has hit 440 pounds for five reps. 

Considering that Choopan exploded onto the Mr. Olympia scene in 2019, it is likely that his numbers will continue to increase.

Dorian Yates

Six-time Mr. Olympia champion Dorian Yates defined bodybuilding in the ’90s — he also trained unlike anyone else discussed here.

Yates utilized a high-intensity style, which he labeled “Blood and Guts” training. Using this method, Yates typically only used one to two working sets per exercise, but he pushed them in an all-out effort to exhaustion. This also meant that he wasn’t concerned with his one-rep max strength, which is important to keep in mind.


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On the big three (which Yates didn’t rely on), he claimed a 465-pound squat for 10 reps, an incline bench of 425 pounds for eight reps, and a 405-pound deadlift for reps. While his numbers paled in comparison to some of the others listed here, recordings of Yates in training show a man possessed.

So, Who Is the Strongest Mr. Olympia Ever?

In terms of weight lifted, the answer remains Ronnie Coleman. “The King” put up massive numbers, often during his Mr. Olympia prep, and thus deserves the mantle of strongest ever.

But pound for pound, no one touches Franco Columbu. Even 40-plus years since he last took the stage, the 1981 Mr. Olympia winner simply amazed fans with his ability to lift as much as — and often, more than — his contemporaries, despite weighing 50 pounds or less.

Looking past Columbu and Coleman, however, an obvious but salient point comes across: To build big muscles, you have to move big weight. All these men are living proof of that.

Featured Image: @thedorianyates and @ronniecoleman8 on Instagram 

The post Who Is the Strongest Mr. Olympia Winner? appeared first on BarBend.

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