Like all good sports, bodybuilding has changed over time. A lot.
In less than 40 years, the competitive bodybuilding standards have completely transformed. Peruse any message board or scroll through a bodybuilding-fan Facebook page, and you’ll be bombarded with questions of could Arnold still win today? These conversations are ridiculous for two reasons:
- Arnold’s last major competition was over three decades ago. If you compare two athletes with that large of a time gap, you must account for far too many variables for the debate to remain meaningful. Ever looked at the progression of the two-mile track and field world records?
- The IFBB doesn’t want an Arnold physique today.
The answer: no, he could not win.
This doesn’t stop the conversation from being any more fun though. Cross-generational comparisons give us something interesting to talk about — an argument that will never be settled but makes us feel more intelligent for having engaged in anyway. This is the media's dream, the driving force behind every all-time-best argument: MJ vs. LeBron, Palmer vs. Woods, Montana vs. Brady. We will always argue about things we can't solve.
If you want some background knowledge on how to navigate these debates (and craft a good argument for your personal favorite), take a look at this compilation video of all the Mr. Olympia winners from 1965 to 2014.