Over the last century, the ideal male body has evolved significantly. The early 1900s’ famous strongmen weren’t the oiled-up, Schwarzenegger-sized bodybuilders we know and adore today; they were tiny fellas who struck postures in fig leaves and did crazy feats of strength for crowds gathering on the street. Here’s what photos of professional bodybuilders looked like in the early 1900s, from Eugen Sandow, the pioneer of modern bodybuilding, through Steve Reeves, the hero of Hercules. All of these bodybuilder stock photos are now considered vintage. These bodybuilder photos are also the most iconic pictures to ever be taken of the respective sport. 

1. Eugen Sandow-

Sandow, dubbed the “Father of Bodybuilding,” invented strength-training methods that are being utilised today. Sandow’s various accomplishments include assisting in the staging of the world’s first bodybuilding show in England’s Royal Albert Hall in 1901. Eugen Sandow was a bodybuilder and showman from Prussia. Sandow, who was born in Königsberg, became interested in bodybuilding when he was 10 years old on a trip to Italy. Sandow studied under strongman Ludwig Durlacher in the late 1880s after a stint in the circus.

Sandow poses with a variety of weightlifting equipment in this picture.

By extending his arms while sitting on a bicycle, the German bodybuilder demonstrates his remarkable strength.

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2. Katie Sandwina-

Katie Sandwina was one of the most famous professional bodybuilders. Philippe and Johanna Brumbach, circus performers, had fourteen children. Katie was one of them. Katie used to perform with her family when she was little. Katie’s father would pay a hundred dollars to any male in the crowd who could beat her in a wrestling match; no one ever won the reward.

Katie Sandwina prepares to break a chain around her thigh in this picture.

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3. Strongman- 

Strongman is a dynamic sport that demands not only pure strength, but also endurance, speed, and agility. They must be able to move swiftly and use their power in unusual and unusual ways.

Strongman training is highly demanding from a training standpoint. They spend a lot of time honing the main three, squats, bench press, and deadlift, but they also place a lot of emphasis on overhead pressing. Strongman specialised activities, such as the yoke walk, farmer walks, log press, circus dumbbells, and others, usually take up a whole day. It would be inaccurate to state that a strongman concentrates on lifting in the 80-90 percent range because this is just not true and too broad.

In the bodybuilder stock photo below, a vintage professional bodybuilder can be seen with his fists on his hips.

The triceps, deltoids, and trapezius muscles of a Russian strongman bodybuilder are being flexed in this bodybuilder’s photo. 

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In this undated photo of a professional bodybuilder, a strongman tries to break a chain with his bare hands. 

4. George Hackenschmidt- 

Georg Karl Julius Hackenschmidt, an Estonian strongman, professional wrestler, writer, and sports philosopher, was the first world heavyweight champion in professional wrestling. He’s also recognised as the “Father of the Bench Press” and the “Father of the Hack Squat.”

Hackenschmidt can be seen executing a bench press in front of a crowd in Chicago in this picture.

On a deck beside a body of water in Chicago, Hackenschmidt can be seen raising a barbell over his head with one hand, surrounded by a mob of guys.

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5. Lionel Strongfort- 

Lionel Strongfort, sometimes known as Max Unger, was a German bodybuilder, wrestler, and the creator of the Strongfort System of Physical Culture, often known as Strongfortism, a correspondence physical exercise course. Strongfort was known for his “human bridge performance,” in which a car carrying a half-dozen passengers would drive over a piece of wood suspended from his torso like a see-saw.

Photo credit-  https://www.menshealth.com/

6. William Murray-  

Murray was the “first acknowledged bodybuilding winner,” according to Physical Culture Study, after winning the Sandow bodybuilding competition in 1905.

7. Andre Reverdy- 

Andre Reverdy, the world’s strongest man for his 115-pound weight, was known as “the vest pocket strongman” and participated in all of the traditional strongman feats, including bending poles, shredding phone books, and pulling a vehicle with his teeth. He shows off his core strength by having women leap from a table on his midsection.

Photo credit-  https://www.menshealth.com/

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8. Galen Gough-

The Kentucky-born Gough reputedly cured himself via bodybuilding after suffering a catastrophic brain injury in World War I that left him handicapped in one arm. In the 1930s, he became a bodybuilder and performer, and was known for strongman feats like the one shown here.

Photo credit-  https://www.menshealth.com/

In this shot, a 200-pound Gough grips two horseshoes securely while seven ladies try to get him out of position.

Bodybuilding is the practice of controlling and developing one’s muscles through muscular hypertrophy for aesthetic reasons. It differs from comparable exercises like powerlifting in that it emphasises physical beauty above strength. We hope that these photos of professional bodybuilders gave you a glimpse of what bodybuilding looked like back in the day.