When researching the history of bodybuilding, one will inevitably come across the term “Golden Age” or “Golden Era” of Bodybuilding – the time when the sport was at its zenith. If you pay close attention however, there are two Golden Ages, depending on who you speak to or which book you read.
The first of these Golden Ages occurred in the late 1940s when Steve Reeves (picture 1) was at his height, winning Mr.America in 1947. According to some scholars, this particular era was ‘golden’ due to the physiques. Reeves himself presented a phenomenal musculature mixed with the pretty boy features, and, come on, you must admit it, that hair! To some, these were the best physiques bodybuilding has ever offered – an actual mirror image of the Greek Ideal – symmetry, proportion, lean built, and beauty!
The second Golden Age was in the mid to late 1970s with the arrival and crowning of Arnold Schwarzenegger (Picture 2). This particular age mirrors the actual Golden Age of Greece. In its respective gold period, Greece was at the height of its prosperity, offering the best it had to offer with regards to art, philosophy, architecture, etc. Bodybuilding’s ‘golden’ state of the 70s was based on this same notion of prosperity. Arnold (with the guidance of Joe Weider) took bodybuilding out of the shadows, and brought it to the heights of Muscle Rock! Competitions featured more developed physiques, the possibility to gain a small purse was established, the sport was entrenched in a centralized federation (with small federations trying to compete), bodybuilders had a home on Venice Beach, and, most importantly, fitness as a whole expanded and developed in the multi-billion business we know today,
What do you think? Which era was the Golden Age of Bodybuilding?