If you’ve been to a gym, you’ve definitely seen at least one person who takes bodybuilding a little too seriously. Maybe it’s the giant guy grunting in front of the mirror as he struggles to do rows with 100-pound dumbbells, or maybe it’s the guy whose muscles are bigger than those 100-pound dumbbells.
Bodybuilding can be addicting—especially when you get the physical results you want, but sometimes it gets too addicting. Check out this list of the most extreme bodybuilders to find out just what can happen when muscles and egos get too big.
15. Gregg Valentino
Gregg Valentino is only 5’6”, but his arms measure 28” in circumference.
Gregg Valentino admits he got into bodybuilding because he has a “small man complex” and wanted to get bigger since he could not get any taller. He pumped iron for a long time without the help of steroids and managed to grow his biceps to 21”.
When he wanted to take his body to the next level, he began injecting himself with 5000 mg of Synthol each week. Valentino says he has bench pressed more than 500 pounds, but thanks to his Synthol and open steroid use, he was not very popular the bodybuilding community.
Other athletes thought he looked stupid and some went as far as to say he was an embarrassment to bodybuilders. He has even been called the most hated man in bodybuilding. Guess big arms can’t buy you friends.
14. Markus Ruhl
In the world of bodybuilding, the name Markus Ruhl is synonymous with shoulders.
When this German athlete first started lifting weights at the age of 18, he weighed only 120 pounds. With the help of six gym days a week and steroids, he was ready for bodybuilding competitions by the age of 23. He supposedly now weighs closer to 337 pounds and is known for having some of the biggest shoulders in the world.
Now 44, Ruhl has famously used other enhancers like the human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin to pack muscle onto his 5’10” frame. He has placed in the Mr. Olympia competition seven times and has also done well in several other competitions.
He also has a protruding stomach, or “turtle belly” thanks to his many years of steroid use, which have also increased the size of his internal organs. Yikes.
13. Ronnie Coleman
Ronnie Coleman is such an overachiever that he had to win the title of Mr. Olympia eight times in a row.
In order to grow his muscles big enough to win so many bodybuilding competitions, Coleman eats 5,562 calories in a day, which are broken up into 150 grams of fats, 546 grams of protein, and 474 grams of carbohydrates. That means he basically eats every few hours from the time he wakes up until about 1:30 in the morning.
Coleman is also a known steroid user and his body is showing the effects of it. At 52, he also developed a distended gut. The increased testosterone in his body caused a condition called gynecomastia, which causes men to develop breasts.
Most men probably do not plan on growing that part of their body when they hit the gym.
12. Arnold Schwarzenegger
The former governator is still one of the most famous bodybuilders of all time.
When Schwarzenegger first came to America from Austria in 1968, he had big dreams of even bigger muscles.
Even when he was just starting out, he always believed that it was just as important to work your mind as it was to work your body. Whenever he was in the gym, he made sure to focus his thoughts entirely on his goal: to get the most noticeable body in the world.
His gym routines made him in a staple in the sport of bodybuilding. It also made it easy for him to transition into action roles in movies like Conan the Barbarian and Terminator.
Schwarzenegger might have retired from the sport, but with books, articles, and his own Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic bodybuilding competition, he’ll be back to help the world fall in love with bodybuilding. He’ll always be back.
11. Johnnie O. Jackson
Johnnie O. Jackson knows how to work his upper body and is recognized for its definition with bodybuilders all over the world.
At 5’8”, Jackson weighs 255 pounds when he competes. While he has impressive 23” arms and a trim 32” waist, his 57” chest is by far his most noticeable feature.
When he won the Mr. Olympia competition in 2009, Jackson bench pressed 523 pounds and deadlifted 815 pounds. In 2012, when he was 40 years old, he managed to deadlift 832 pounds, which was his personal best.
His gym routine consists of exercises like incline barbell press, bench press, decline barbell press, weighted dips, and cable flys to keep his chest big. He eats about seven or eight meals a day to keep his body fueled enough to power his time in the gym.
The amount bodybuilders have to eat to maintain their mass should be considered a sport in and of itself.
10. Dorian Yates
You can’t talk bodybuilding without mentioning the name Dorian Yates.
With six consecutive Mr. Olympia titles under his weight belt, Dorian Yates officially conquered the sport. This English athlete preferred High Intensity Interval Training methods, which focused on doing activity with extremely high intensity for short periods of time.
Yates, or “the Shadow,” successfully managed to stay out of the public eye and often surprised his fellow competitors by unexpectedly showing up at competitions and winning.
Unfortunately, injuries in his biceps and triceps forced him to retire early, but he now owns gyms in the UK and has his own line of Dorian Yates Ultimate Formulas. He has also released books and videos detailing his bodybuilding journey.
9. Andreas Munzer
Andreas Munzer was obsessed with getting big muscles and as little body fat as possible, which ended up costing him his life.
Most bodybuilders compete for part of the year and return to a normal diet when they are in their off season. Munzer was one of the few bodybuilders to compete throughout the year. This meant that he constantly ate a very low-carb diet and took steroids and diuretics to get the ideal body he wanted.
This much steroid use and dehydration destroyed his internal organs and he was hospitalized for stomach bleeding in 1996. His body eventually gave out when he was just 31 years old. Doctors later found multiple tumors on his liver and a heart that had grown to double its original size.
Munzer might have had the metaphorical heart for competition, but his actual heart was not up to the task.
8. Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler is another powerhouse of bodybuilding who turned his success in the sport into a business venture.
Jay Cutler first started working out at 18 with the goal of being the biggest bodybuilders in the world. He won the Mr. Olympia title four separate times, in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010, as well as a host of other competitions.
In 2001, he won second place at Mr. Olympia, but the judges tried to strip him of his title when they found diuretics in his system. He sued the competition and was able to reinstate his title.
Although retired from the sport, Cutler has his own business called Cutler Nutrition that provides supplements to other eager bodybuilders. He has also released nine DVDs to help his fans figure out how to train like he does.
7. Lee Haney
Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman are tied for the most Mr. Olympia titles.
Lee Haney is a bodybuilding beast. Throughout his career between 1979 and 1991, he won more than 20 titles. He won the Mr. Olympia title a record eight times. President Bill Clinton even appointed him the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
As a very religious Christian, Haney always believed that training should help someone become more rounded physically and spiritually. He hosts a show called “TotaLee Fit with Lee Haney” to help others realize the importance of health and fitness. Thanks to his inspirational career, he has definitely influenced a lot of people about the need to stay fit.
6. Greg Plitt
A long career of physical fitness was cut short when Greg Plitt tried to race a train and lost.
Greg Plitt graduated from West Point and served as a Ranger for five years before obtaining his personal training certification. With a list of successful clients in Los Angeles and a noteworthy body of his own, Plitt quickly made a name for himself in the industry.
He created the workout program MFT28 and scored some covers of notable fitness magazines, like Men’s Health, as well as some commercials. In 2008 he joined the show Work Out.
In 2015 Plitt wanted to show just how much energy he got from an energy drink he was marketing. His idea for testing this was to try and outrun a Metrolink train, which he decided to do right on the Metrolink tracks.
Unfortunately, for Greg, trains are very fast. It would be the last race he would ever run.
5. Bertil Fox
Bertil Fox made up for average back and thighs with a massive upper body, but his temper is what got the best of him.
Fox’s nickname is “Brutal Bertil” because he dominated the bodybuilding world when he was competing. In fact, he has won practically every major bodybuilding competition.
With a career spanning from 1969 until 1994, he found great success as a professional bodybuilder. Although he grew up in England, he returned to his native St. Kitts in 1995 to open a gym after he retired.
All the years of increasing his strength did not have a positive effect on his attitude, though, and he was convicted of ending the lives of Leyoca Browne and her mother Violet Browne in 1997.
He was sentenced to life in prison where he will have plenty of time to do nothing but lift weights.
4. Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls
As one of the world’s most famous female bodybuilders, Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls has a physique that will give many men a run for their money.
Chizevsky-Nicholls started bodybuilding in 1988. Originally an aerobics instructor, her future husband Chad Nicholls encouraged her to try bodybuilding. She won first place in almost every amateur competition she entered.
She has won both Ms. International and Ms. Olympia on multiple occasions and is best known for her massive thighs.
In addition to competing in bodybuilding championships, Chizevsky-Nicholls also made appearances on shows like Geraldo. She was interviewed for the movie Bodybuilders and made an appearance in the movie The Cell.
In 2001, Chizevsky-Nicholls tried to tone down her muscles to compete in fitness competitions, but she never achieved as much success as she did with her bodybuilding physique.
3. Ernestine Shepherd
Who says you need to be young to be a bodybuilder?
Most 80 year olds spend their days wearing sweaters while watching game shows at a loud volume, but Ernestine Shepherd is still crushing it in the gym.
She turned 80 this year, but still works as a personal trainer, a fitness model, and a competitive bodybuilder. To add an extra level of insanity to her story, she did not even start working out until she was 56 and didn’t start competing as a bodybuilder until she was 71.
Shepherd wakes up at 4 in the morning to run 10 miles before strength training four times a week and putting people half her age to shame every day.
2. Sally McNeil
Although Sally McNeil is well known for building her body, she is most famous for ending her husband’s life.
A former marine, Sally McNeil was known for violent outbursts. She was once arrested for kicking a bouncer in the face and she had many altercations with her husband, Ray McNeil, who was also a bodybuilder.
Both McNeils won some bodybuilding competitions and were able to make money with the sport. They had something of a tumultuous relationship, though, and they fought often.
No one really knows what happened on Valentine’s Day of 1995, but it ended with Ray McNeil lying lifeless on the floor and Sally in jail as the responsible party. Both of them had steroids in their system at the time.
Although she tried to say she acted in self-defense, Sally has been locked up for the crime since 1996.
1. Moustafa Ismail
Moustafa Ismail has biceps that are bigger than most men’s waists.
Thanks to his 31” arms, Ismail nabbed a Guinness World Record for the biggest biceps. The Egyptian bodybuilder, who also uses Synthol to increase muscle mass, is not popular amongst other people in the sport, but he is not shy about showing off his massive arms.
In addition to two workouts a day, Ismail supposedly eats three whole pounds of chicken, one pound of steak or fish, and consumes about a gallon of protein shakes.
The diet, the workouts, and the Synthol have succeeded in giving Ismail the big arms he’s always wanted, even if his methods mean he has no fans in the bodybuilding community.