Over the years bodybuilding, weightlifting and strength sports of all sorts have been featured on TV, in movies, and in books and other media. While a lot of the media coverage today is largely about perfomrance enhancing drugs in sports there have been many good media creations of all sorts over the years. Some of the more popular bodybuilding movies, fitness TV shows, competition series, and arm wrestling movies, are below.


Pumping Iron
This is the 1977 movie that made bodybuilding and strength sports in general mainstream. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferigno, Franco Columbo and other famous bodybuilders. Its a documentary style movie with some suggestive editing and film making to make a dramatic movie. The premise of the movie was about then 6 time Mr Olympia champion Arnold aiming for his 7th Mr Olympia title in what was going to be his last Olympia contest. (He did come back in 1980 and win again though.) The movie tells the story of bodybuilding in general and focuses in particular on a few personalities of the time. It features Lou Ferigno who later became the Incredible Hulk in the 70s tv show training to try to beat Arnold with Arnold trying to keep his crown. It tells the story of Mike Katz, a Junior High School gym teacher trying to win a contest amd turn pro. It also features Franco Columbo a friend of Arnold who competed against Arnold and later costarred with him in the Terminator and Conan the Barbarian.

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Pumping Iron 2

This 1985 sequel to Pumping Iron focuses on Female Bodybuilding. The movie focues on four women as they prepare for the 1983 Caesars Palace World Cup Championship. It stars Carla Dunlap of later Bodyshaping fame, Rachel McLish who later went on to do some movies, Lori Bowen, and Bev Francis from Australia. The movie tackles the question of how does feminity enter into female bodybuilding. How muscular is too muscular? These types of issues were not a problem in the original movie Pumping Iron with men. But when it comes to female bodybuilding these are things to consider. This is still a question today. In the 2000 Miss Olympia contest Jim Manion the chairmain of the judging committee stated that women would be judged on healthy appearance, face, makeup, and skin tone. Such has nothing to do with muscular development but such is the state of female bodybuilding. Modern female bodybuilding further tries to deal with this by having fitness pageants separate from the main Miss Olympia style bodybuilding contests.

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Ronnie Coleman the Unbelieveable

This movie showcases the incredible training routine of Ronnie Coleman. Without doubt he probably was the strongest bodybuilder of all time. He won the Mr Olympia contest 8 times and is tied for the most wins ever with Lee Haney. In the video you see how he trains and how he lifts. He will scream out light weight and yeah buddy as he deadlifts 800 pounds for reps. When he loads up a leg press machine it literally looks like a machine for testing the tensile strength of steel as it is loaded with so many 45 pound plates its unreal. He trains in Texas in the middle of summer in a gym with no air conditioning.. For a few of his Mr Olympia wins he was working a full time job as a police officer too. In the movie you see him go to work as a police officer full time and train before work and fit in meals throughout the day. Imagine being the best in the world at something physically; training like its a hobby, and working a full time job. That was Ronnie Coleman; even Arnold never did this. The whole video is inspiring and well worth watching.

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Pulling John

If Over the top was a mere drama about armwrestling then Pulling John is a full fledged Pumping Iron style documentary. The movie tells the story of John Brzenk probably the greatest armwrester ever. The movie shows him at an older age after dominating the sport for nearly 2 decades. A competitor from overseas is shown training by arm wrestling one guy with two other guys pulling via rope with all their might to help provide further resistance. Its a sight to see for any weight lifter. In a 1995 Worlds Strongest Man event one competitor had their arm broken so armwrestling is a strength sport worthy of attention like powerlifting or olympic weightlifting. If you liked Pumping Iron there is a good chance you will like this too.

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Bigger Faster Stronger

This movie comments on the win at all costs culture of compeitive pro sports today. It tells the story of three brothers all of whom used steroids to try to help excel in their given pursuits such as pro wrestling or power lifting. The movie also features interviews with bodybuilders in their 50s and 60s who are in competition with themselves and father time more or less.

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Over the top

While this is an armwrestling movie and a drama at that it does feature some real life armwrestlers in it. Armwrestling is a strength sport and it does feature some cable machine lifting in a truck. Its also an inspiring movie to watch before doing any strength training.

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TV Strength Event and Contest Shows

Worlds Strongest Man

This series of yearly strength events ran from 1980 to 2013 and aired yearly on tv. Over the years it featured regular contestants such as Bill Kazmeier, Magnus Ver Magnusson, Zyndrunas Savickas, and Mariusz Pudzianowski. It also one year had Lou Ferrigno (of Incredible Hulk TV fame) and Franco Columbu who both starred in Pumping Iron the movie. The yearly events feature a series of events that changes but often include things like Atlas stone lifts, pulling trucks, and carrying awkward objects for distance. The show was entertaining to watch. The early years featured atheltes from many strength training backgrounds while after a bit specialists who trained just for strongman started to dominate. Worlds Strongest Woman

This yearly strength competition for women was first began in 1997 then aired on TV from 2001 to 2003 then its name was changed to the Strongwoman World Championships,World's Strongest Lady, and United Strongmen Women's World Championships. The 2001 event which aired on ESPN saw Jill Mills win. The event featured similiar events to World's Strongest Man but with lighter weight. It was interesting seeing how some competitors looked almost ordinary while others almost looked like men. Jill Mills who began as a bodybuilder then transitioned to a powerlifer was the winner. She was a strong yet feminine looking champion.
Ninja Warrior and American Ninja Warrior

This began as a Japanese show in 2007. It featured obstacle courses and various events involving balance and strength. Climbing walls, and traversing distance by hanging and moving overhead were heavy themes of it. It was a game show of sorts with events like nothing that had been seen before. The show featured regional qualifying competitions and the best would go to a national competition of four stages. The contest was so hard most years no one would even make it to stage 4 let alone be the ultimate champion or winner of the competition. One fall in the water and that was it, there were no second chances in this contest. In 2009 it was brought to America as American Ninja Warrior. This is a show where strength relative to bodyweight is very important as is grip strength.

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TV Workout Shows


This show begain in the late 80s and ran throughout the 90s and beyond on ESPN and other ESPN networks like ESPN 2. It featured weightlifting with machines, dumbells, barbells and even cardio. It is most famous however for the girls of bodyshaping including Jennifer Dempster, Kiana Tom, Corey Everson, and Carla Dunlap. It even had Kathy Ireland answer viewer mail for some show episodes. The main males on the show were Rick Valente the heavy lifter and Kendell Hogan that mainly showed cardio workouts. It was an entertaining show and perhaps the most succesful general interest weightlifting show. Flex Magazine Workout

This was not as popular as Bodyshaping but also was an ESPN fitness series. It focused on lifting with real professional bodybuilders such as Shawn Ray, Boyer Coe, Lee Priest, Kevin Levrone, and others. It even had some episode with famed Lenda Murray of Miss Olympia fame.
GiIad Bodies in Motion

This was a cardio show starring Gilad Janklowicz. The show ran from 85 to 96 originally. It featured memorable music and the calm voice of Gilad leading a group through various aerobic workouts. While not weightlifting related; this was the first fitness show to air on ESPN so it did inspire all the others that followed.

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Kiana Toms Flex Appeal

Kiana Tom got her start on Bodyshaping and had her own show Kiana Tom's Flex Appeal that ran from 1995 to 2001. The show was memorable for Kiana Tom who even posed nude for Playboy in May 2002. The show had the same basic focus as Bodyshaping with machine and free weight workouts.
Denise Austin Daily Workout

Another ESPN started fitness show starring Denise Austin. The show had a cardio focus and Denise went on to release numerous workout DVDS over the years.

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