Bodybuilding popularity gained its second wind when a small independent foreign film was bought by Hollywood producer Joseph E. Levine for release in the United States. Levine saw star quality in the man who played the title character. That man was Steve Reeves and the movie was "Hercules."

Reeves was the personification of the ideal male. Not only was he incredibly handsome, he possessed a physique which, to this day, is considered by many to be as perfect as a male body can be. "Hercules" was a huge success and it spawned dozens of imitations. Before long, the "sword and sandal" epics which featured notable physique stars such as Reg Park, Lou Degni and Gordon Scott had run their course.

Despite the short lived popularity of muscle movies, anyone who was obsessed with bodybuilding was still seen as an outsider. In 1973, the business of bodybuilding was losing ground. In an effort to circumvent the limitations of marketing to advanced bodybuilders, a former TV strongman by the name of Dan Lurie began selling 110 lb weight sets to department stores and supermarkets. This attracted a mostly fleeting audience of teenagers who would take up weightlifting as a curiosity and dismissed it shortly thereafter. Nevertheless, the scheme proved quite successful and Lurie was outselling his competition. Both Hoffman and Weider's sales were down.

There couldn't have been a worse time for another bodybuilding magazine to hit the market. Still, an ex-employee of Bob Hoffman took his ideals, his energy and his genuine love of bodybuilding and decided to put it all on the line by releasing his own publication. That man was Bob Kennedy and the publication was MuscleMag International.

MuscleMag started as a modest monthly publication which continued to improve and thrive throughout the years. Today, it's not only the most comprehensive magazine on the market, but it's also the longest running bodybuilding magazine to date. (Weider's magazine titles have changed throughout the years. Muscle Builder/Power was the forerunner to Muscle and Fitness.) Besides Weider, Bob Kennedy is the most successful muscle magazine publisher of all time. He's also "one of the gang." He loves bodybuilding and still maintains his enthusiasm for new and interesting theories which will more effectively help people reach their bodybuilding goals. In fact, he is the inventor of the "Pre-Exhaust" principle of training which is a staple of many a successful bodybuilder's routine. What is also unique about Bob is that he is one of the most trusted and well liked personalities in the business. Bob Kennedy not only set a new standard in bodybuilding journalism, he proved that nice guys can finish first.


In 1977, a documentary on bodybuilding hit the theaters. With virtually no backing for promotion, the film "Pumping Iron" went on to be a smashing success. It quickly became the highest grossing documentary to date due mostly to the charismatic performance of its star, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It's fair to say that there's bodybuilding before Arnold and there's bodybuilding after Arnold. Pumping Iron launched a worldwide resurgence in the appeal of weight training and "Arnold Mania" had begun. Gyms memberships skyrocketed. At a time when movie producers declared "muscle movies" to be dead, Arnold Schwarzenegger single-handedly redefined movies, muscles and the public's perception of the bodybuilder. A muscular body was now looked upon as a work of art. The garish novelty which a muscular man once represented was replaced by intellect and aesthetics. Muscle no longer connoted vanity and narcissism. It symbolized discipline, focus, and self improvement. In other words, it perfectly matched the ideals of the time.

Arnold's fame crossed all boundaries. To the bodybuilding community, he exemplified the unobtainable goal. His massive size, along with outstanding symmetry, set a new standard. He also obliterated the misnomer of the bodybuilder as "all brawn and no brain." Arnold was sharp, witty and magnetic. He proved the American dream could indeed be a reality. Bodybuilding had found a new spokesman -- one who will, in all probability, never be equaled.


Concurrent with the renewed interest in bodybuilding came a heightened awareness of drug use. John Zeigler, a doctor who worked closely with the United States Olympic team, had discovered a way of manipulating the testosterone molecule, making it more anabolic and less androgenic and put it into a tablet form. He saw it as a tremendous tool in the advancement of physical improvement. He called it Dianabol.

Unfortunately, Dianabol worked too well. The use, overuse and excessive abuse of steroids was changing the tides of bodybuilding once again. The association with drug use was distancing the bodybuilder from the fitness enthusiast and bodybuilding was in danger of losing all the advancements it had made up until that point. The industry tried to "soften" its image. In the 1980's, aerobics, yoga, and low fat recipes replaced much of grittier bodybuilding information. Everybody was an authority. Movie stars made exercise videos. Models wrote diet books. This trend proved to be both good and bad. Good, in the sense that it introduced many more people to the benefits of exercise. Bad, in the sense that much of the information wasn't accurate. Through it all, it turned out that the bodybuilding lifestyle proved itself to be the most effective method for changing the shape of one's body.


In the ensuing years, weight training continued to gain popularity throughout the world. The once cult hobby is now recognized by leading medical authorities as the most effective method of controlling weight, staying healthy and living longer. To millions of people, it's a way of life.

Bodybuilding has gone through many changes. There have been innumerable men and women who've shaped it along the way. It has also been a product of the changing tides, often dictated by ephemeral fashions -- for better and for worse.

From the 1980's to the 1990's and into the new century, fads have come and gone. New theories, new apparatus and new magazines have made a splash -- then were gone as quickly as they appeared. But one thing has remained -- bodybuilding itself. The pursuit of a stronger, more muscular body remains because it's an integral part of human nature. Just as muscle was admired by cultures long gone, it continues to captivate another generation and will continue to do so as long as people yearn to transform themselves into something greater.

It doesn't matter where you are in your bodybuilding journey, for as long as you have the desire to turn your body into the best it can be, you too are a part of bodybuilding's great history -- a link in the long chain of devotees that started at the turn of one century and has led to the beginning of another.

Bodybuilding's past may not be common knowledge to a lot of people -- even bodybuilders. Nevertheless, its roots are deep and its had an impact on all of us...whether it's realized or not. Many great individuals have made it possible for today's trainees to build their bodies into something that was considered inconceivable just a few short decades ago. We've reaped the rewards of their pioneering efforts. We owe a great debt to the men and women who refused to accept the negative connotations about bodybuilding which were flung their way and continued with what they believed in. It took a long time, but we made it.

Today, if you're a bodybuilder, you don't have to explain yourself. Thanks to the understanding most people have about the benefits of weight training, your intentions are well understood -- and admired. Bodybuilding truly has a great heritage. Be proud of it.