Bodybuilding shows are nothing short of freak shows. People buy a ticket to a bodybuilding contest to witness athletes pushing the limits of the human form. It is why the pose-down at the biggest bodybuilding show in the sport, Mr. Olympia, where bodybuilders get down the stage and pose among the crowd, is one of the show’s most popular segments.
- Are Taller Bodybuilders More Likely To Win a Bodybuilding Show?
- Tallest Bodybuilders of All Time
- Male Pros
- Male Amateur Bodybuilders
- Ideal Height To Win a Bodybuilding Show
- More Related and Interesting Content:
- Wrapping Up
Are Taller Bodybuilders More Likely To Win a Bodybuilding Show?
Nothing says ‘freak’ like a tall bodybuilder that is as wide as a house. Fans new to bodybuilding contests might believe that the tallest and biggest bodybuilder on stage can win every competition they enter. However, this is not the case.
Competitive bodybuilding prioritizes aesthetics. The bodybuilder with the most ‘flowing’ physique is more likely to win a bodybuilding show than a contestant that is put together like Frankenstein, meaning he has an ungodly amount of muscle and conditioning in some areas but is ordinary in every other aspect.
Bodybuilders are judged based on muscle size, symmetry, quality, conditioning, and balance. Scoring in a bodybuilding show is subjective. Every bodybuilder’s physique on a pro bodybuilding stage is magazine cover-worthy. However, the promoters cannot hand over a trophy to every athlete. Bodybuilders are judged based on how they look compared to other bodybuilders on the stage.
And this, my friends, is where the tall bodybuilders run into trouble. Although the giants might tower over their competition on a bodybuilding stage, it doesn’t guarantee them a gold medal.
Taller bodybuilders are at a disadvantage as they have more real estate to fill out. Although many long-legged bodybuilders build a chiseled upper body, they have a hard time building up their lower bodies. A lack of symmetry and proportions usually puts them behind their shorter counterparts in a bodybuilding contest.
Trivia: Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only bodybuilder over 6 feet to win the Mr. Olympia contest. Explore the full list of Mr. Olympia winners here.
Tallest Bodybuilders of All Time
For this list, I limited my search to female bodybuilders that are taller than 6 feet and male bodybuilders that are taller than 6 feet 4 inches and compete in bodybuilding shows or identify themselves as bodybuilders. Here are the 15 tallest bodybuilders of all time:
Only two female professional bodybuilders are taller than 6 feet. Notably, one is in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Maria Wattle — 6’ (182.7 cm)
At 6 feet tall, Wattle is currently the tallest female bodybuilder in the IFBB Pro League. She also holds the Guinness Book of World Records for being the tallest female professional bodybuilder. The Dutch bodybuilder competes in the Women’s Physique division.
According to Wattle, judges refused to score her at the beginning of her bodybuilding career due to her height, as they couldn’t determine how to score her compared to other competitors who were much shorter than her.
“I’ve had competitions where I was literally not judged [because] of something genetically I cannot control — being tall.”
Wattle does strength training five days a week to maintain her muscle mass. Plus, she does five weekly 30 to 60-minute cardio sessions to stay chiseled.
Nicole Bass — 6’2” (188 cm) [1964-2017]
Bass is the tallest female professional bodybuilder of all time. She turned pro by winning the 1997 NPC Nationals and competed at the prestigious Olympia the same year, where she finished 14th.
After her Olympia appearance, Bass swapped her posing suit with a wrestling suit. She joined Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in 1998 and then switched to World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1999. Bass passed away in 2017 at the age of 52 due to a heart attack.
For this list, I have shortlisted male professional bodybuilders that are taller than 6 feet 4 inches:
Sean Allan — 6’4” (193 cm)
In contrast to Nicole Bass, Allan entered the International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness (IFBB) after he rose to fame in the WWE. In WWE fashion, “Big Sean” challenged the top bodybuilders in an Olympia press conference while still an amateur.
Allan was criticized for his lagging lower body and couldn’t break through the top five in his first 16 contests. He turned pro in the Masters division in 2011. Big Sean finished 15th out of a possible 35 at the 2012 Master Olympia, which was won by the 2008 Mr. Olympia, Dexter Jackson.
Roland Kickinger — 6’4” (193 cm)
Kickinger had a blockbuster entry in the IFBB. He placed seventh in the 1996 Ironman Pro, his debut show. However, it was all downhill for Kickinger from there. He placed in the bottom in the next eight shows.
The Austria native followed in Schwarzenegger’s footsteps and switched to acting. Kickinger played a young Arnie in See Arnold Run (2005). He is best known for his role in the comedy series Son of the Beach (2000-02).
Greg Kovacs — 6’4” (193 cm) [1968-2013]
Considering height and weight, Kovacs was arguably the biggest bodybuilder ever. He stood at 6-foot-4 and weighed 420 pounds in the off-season and 330 pounds on-stage, more than any bodybuilder in the IFBB history.
Although the Canadian bodybuilder towered over his competition on stage, he couldn’t convert it into contest wins. The highlight of his career was a 13th-place finish at the 2004 Arnold Classic. Kovacs was more popular for his magazine ads than his bodybuilding contest appearances. He died because of a heart attack at the age of 44 in 2013.
Next Read: 21 Bodybuilders Who Died of Heart Attack
Quincy Tailor — 6’4” (193 cm)
Quincy “QT” Tailor earned his pro card by winning the 2001 USA Championships. QT weighed 360 pounds in the off-season and 300 pounds on stage. Tailor never won a pro show in his eight-year career. QT competed at the Olympia in 2005 and 2007 but failed to place in both attempts.
If we ranked bodybuilders according to their contest record, QT would take second behind the next bodybuilder on this list — Lou Ferrigno.
Lou Ferrigno — 6’5” (195.6 cm)
Most bodybuilding fans recognize Ferrigno from the cult bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron (1977), where he was shown as the Austrian Oak’s biggest challenger. He won the 1973 Mr. America and Mr. Universe at the age of 21. It’d be safe to say that Ferrigno is the most successful tall bodybuilder of all time.
Ferrigno took a break from competitive bodybuilding after the 1975 Olympia to try his hand in Hollywood. Thanks to his massive stature, he was cast as the Hulk in the TV series The Incredible Hulk (1977-82) before VFX was a thing. He returned to competitive bodybuilding in 1992 after a 17-year hiatus. However, he couldn’t charm the judges this time. He competed at the 1994 Masters Olympia, where he claimed a silver medal.
Jamie Christian — 6’5″ (195.6 cm)
Christian earned his pro card in the Classic Physique division but has since switched to the Open division. “The Giant” has competed in prestigious shows such as the Arnold Classic UK. He is popular in the bodybuilding circuit and often trains with elite bodybuilders and Strongmen.
Ralf Moeller — 6’6” (198 cm)
The next two athletes on this list are the tallest IFBB pro bodybuilders of all time. However, Moeller takes the cake as he is the tallest bodybuilder to compete at the Mr. Olympia (1988). He won the overall German Championships in 1983 and World Championships in 1986. The 1988 Olympia was Moeller’s only pro show appearance. He was disqualified from the 1990 Arnold Classic after failing a drug test.
Like many other athletes on this list, Moeller turned to Hollywood after a short bodybuilding career. He is best known for playing Hagen in Gladiator (2000).
Pavel Szotkowski — 6’6″ (200 cm)
At the time of writing, Szotkowski is the tallest active pro bodybuilder in the IFBB Pro League. He is 6-foot-6, weighs 330 pounds, and competes in the Classic Physique division. Szotkowski is genetically gifted, as he has an incredibly symmetrical and proportionate physique despite his long and lanky limbs. He finished fourth (out of 30) at the 2020 Europa Pro.
Male Amateur Bodybuilders
Turning pro is easier said than done. While most bodybuilders aspire to compete at the Olympia stage, few are lucky enough to find a spot on the O roster. Here are the four tallest amateur bodybuilders:
Noah Steere — 6’6” (198 cm)
The 6-foot-6 bodybuilder weighed 300 pounds onstage and a lean 350 pounds in the offseason and was known for his ginormous arms. Steere finished at the 2001 NPC Nationals, defeating some notable athletes. However, he retired from competitive bodybuilding after placing outside the top 15 at the NPC Nationals in 2002.
Aaron Reed — 6’7” (200.6 cm)
Reed has been competing in bodybuilding shows since 2001. He won his first contest, the 2001 Mr. Teen Colorado, but had a lackluster performance for the next 14 years. Reed finally broke through the rut with a win at the 2016 All South Championships in the newly announced Classic Physique division. Reed has since transitioned into acting and was seen working beside Ryan Renolds in Free Guy (2021).
Martyn Ford — 6’8” (203 cm)
Ford could replace Hafþór “Thor” Björnsson as ‘The Mountain’ in Games of Thrones, and no one would bat an eye. He is also known as the ‘The Nightmare’ due to his intimidating appearance.
Although Ford identifies as a bodybuilder, he has never competed in a bodybuilding show. Ford has acted in several TV shows and movies, usually in a negative role, including F9: The Fast Saga (2021).
Lukas Lakutsin — 6’10” (208.28 cm)
Lukas Lakutsin of Russia is an amateur bodybuilder that won the 2022 NPC San Diego Championships in the Men’s Physique division. Lakustin started in the Men’s Open division but later switched to the Men’s Physique division. He weighs around 330 pounds on stage; his weight, combined with his 6-foot-10 stature, dwarfs his competition on stage. Lakustin is an actor and model and has appeared in a Russian movie, The Scythian (2018).
Olivier Richters — 7’2” (208.3 cm)
Since we started with a Guinness World Records holder, it would only be fair to end with another Guinness World Records holder. Interestingly, Richters is friends with Wattel and was the one to encourage her to submit an application for recognition as the tallest female professional bodybuilder.
Although the Dutch bodybuilder has never competed in a bodybuilding competition, he follows the bodybuilding lifestyle and sticks to a strict diet and training regimen. Richters is committed to bodybuilding and has his own supplement line Dutch Giant Nutrition and a meal-prep company, Muscle Meat.
Ideal Height To Win a Bodybuilding Show
Many people wonder about the ideal height to be a pro bodybuilder. This allows them to analyze their prospects as a pro bodybuilder. The best way to find the ideal height for a bodybuilder is to study Mr. Olympia winners.
In the 58-year history of the Mr. Olympia contest (1965-2022), 17 bodybuilders have won the prestigious title. The average height of a Mr. Olympia champion is 5-foot-8-inch. Franco Columbu (5-foot-5) is the shortest bodybuilder to win the coveted Sandow trophy. On the other hand, his best friend and the G.O.A.T, Schwarzenegger (6-foot-2), is the tallest athlete to win the Olympia gold medal. The winningest Olympia champs, Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney, both stand at a height of 5-foot-11.
What do you take away from this? Bodybuilders of average height, 5-foot-8, have an optimal torso to lower body length to build a proportionate and symmetrical physique.
That said, bodybuilders in the 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-11 range have the most Olympia titles to their names. Sergio Oliva, Frank Zane, Dorian Yates, Haney, Coleman, Jay Cutler, Phil Heath, and Shawn Rhoden fall in this category.
Who is the tallest bodybuilder to win the Mr. Olympia?
The seven-time Mr. Olympia champion, Arnold Schwarzenegger (6-foot-2), is the tallest bodybuilder to win the prestigious O title.
Who is the tallest bodybuilder of all time?
Aaron Reed (6-foot-7) is the tallest amateur bodybuilder of all time. On the other hand, Pavel Szotkowski and Ralf Moeller (6-foot-6) are the tallest pro bodybuilders in IFBB history. Although Martyn Ford, Lukas Lakutsin, and Olivier Richters are taller than Reed, they have never competed in a bodybuilding show.
Do tall bodybuilders have an advantage in bodybuilding competitions?
Taller bodybuilders (more than 6 feet) are actually at a disadvantage when it comes to competitive bodybuilding, as they need to put on more muscle mass than their shorter counterparts to fill out their frames. Most tall bodybuilders usually lag in the lower body department, as adding muscle tissue to lanky legs can be incredibly difficult.
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Although the giants on this list might not have won big bodybuilding shows, they keep the fans excited by adding a freak factor to the sport. These bodybuilders also have the crowd’s backing every time they step on stage.
While the statistics favor bodybuilders in the 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-11 bracket, writing off the taller athletes will be a mistake. IFBB Pro bodybuilders Andrew Jacked and Michael Krizo are both north of 6 feet and are promising contenders for the Mr. Olympia title.