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The Truth Behind Mr. Olympia

Bodybuilding Goals

Any professional bodybuilder will tell you that Mr. Olympia is the end goal. It’s the crème de la crème of the bodybuilding world, yet only a select few athletes will ever have the chance to compete in the prestige competition. What fans of the competition see is only a snippet of the reality of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into reaching performance level. Even after all that, only a select few athletes will make the cut, despite spending the year, sometimes year, preparing for it. Below, we’ll explore the truth behind Mr. Olympia and what athletes endure to attempt to get on stage.

The Grueling Training Regime

Every athlete will have their own training regime, but the basis of each is typically very similar. Arnold Schwarzenegger shared his grueling regime for the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition – where he famously piled on 50 pounds of muscle in 90 days to become the best of the best. He trained six days a week – twice on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and once on the remaining days, but left Sunday as a day of rest. His workout, along with many athletes, consisted of high volume to produce extreme muscle mass conversion. He also ate roughly 2750 calories a day and took various supplements, including steroids, which believe promote muscle growth, increased strength, and increased confidence.

Athletes meticulously plan down to each gram of food and each pound of weight, with cardio carefully intertwined to ensure the perfect tone and muscle mass is achieved. On days of rest, athletes will typically still stay active with light cardio workouts. Until the competition is over, there is never truly a minute of relaxation.

The Qualification System

The qualification system varies each year, but for the 2022 Mr. Olympia, it worked as follows:

  • Any Mr. Olympia winner automatically has a lifetime qualification for the division they won their previous title.
  • The top five in the Men’s Open division at Olympia will qualify for Mr. Olympia.
  • The top three in all other divisions of Olympia will qualify.
  • Any winner of a professional show between specific dates qualifies.
  • The top three point holders in each division will qualify.
  • The Olympia team can hand out special invites.

The Olympia competition – the Classic Physique Olympia – happens earlier in the year and is somewhat of the baby competition that leads to Mr. Olympia. 

The Sacrifices

Multiple articles tell the tales of the hardships of the most famous athletes that dedicated their life to their professional bodybuilding careers. Ronnie Coleman, for example, opened up in an article about how he regrets not being able to “hang out with his family more.” Athletes also speak about how they sacrifice their bodies. The injuries, the pain, and their lack of ability to let loose – it’s a never-ending physical and mental toll. Chris Bumstead also talks about the social aspect – training becomes life, and social interactions outside the gym become fewer.  

Despite sacrifices, reaching Mr. Olympia’s level – even entry-level – is the peak of physical endurance and capabilities. It’s a status only a few athletes hold compared to bodybuilders that dedicate their lives trying to get there. This year’s competition runs from November 2nd until the 5th – will you tune in and watch?

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.