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The Top Muscle Movies of All Time

Dear Friend and Fellow Athlete,

Actors constantly have to train for roles they wish to take on, and this often means packing on lots of muscle.  However, no actors have trained harder than the ones in these top muscle movies of all time!

Hollywood actors are used to being mobbed by adoring fans any time they step away from the bright lights of LA.  And it’s no closely guarded secret that the reason people idolize these onscreen characters is because they’re rich and famous.  However, fans’ obsessions with actors can grow to immense proportions when an actor is ripped as hell and has giant muscles in an action film or top muscle movie.

That’s why actors can go down in history for displaying an incredible physique in one or more of their muscle movies.  In fact, the films themselves often become legendary as well despite what some pencil-necked movie critic may write in a review.  With that in mind, here are the top muscle movies that achieved legendary status due to the amazing physiques seen in them.

Top Muscle Movie HerculesHercules – 1958

Hercules was a mythical Greek figure who performed incredible feats of strength such as slaying giant lions and 9-headed monsters with his bare hands.  Going beyond his incredible accomplishments, Hercules was also depicted as being one of the most ripped people ever.  Seeing as how Hercules was such a badass it would’ve been difficult for any person to portray him in a film. 

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Fortunately, 1950 Mr. Universe Steve Reeves was one person who could pull off such a role.  Watching Reeves slay monsters and perform the Twelve Labors of Hercules not only made for an entertaining action flick, but it also became one of the most influential movies ever for bodybuilding.  Bodybuilders and famous actors such as Sylvester Stallone have admitted that seeing Steve Reeves in Hercules made them want to hit the gym a whole lot more.

In addition to inspiring others to get into bodybuilding, the top muscle movie Hercules was also monumental in the movie industry since it spawned the whole Sword and Sandal movement of the 1960’s.  Not only were more Hercules movies made, but a slew of other bodybuilders were cast in heroic roles set in the biblical, Greek, and Roman eras.  The Maciste, Ursus, Samson, and Goliath series were just a few of the film franchises that spawned as a result of Hercules’ success.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – 2009

We already knew that Hugh Jackman had the ability to pump up for a top muscle movie role after seeing him play the Wolverine character in the X-Men trilogy.  And even though Jackman was a full foot taller than the comic book adaptation he was supposed to be playing, Jackman’s muscular physique definitely fit the role perfectly.

Top Muscle Movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine

But few could have predicted that Hugh Jackman would come out even more muscular and ripped in the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine which centered entirely on his character.  Jackman said he underwent a high intensity weight training program that was supplemented by frequent cardio workouts too. 

During this intense training period Jackman would wake up at 4 am to pound a protein-based meal before heading off to the gym at 6 am.  Jackman made such a dramatic transformation that his wife asked him, “Who is that man on the screen”, while she was watching Wolverine.

Top Muscle Movie BloodsportBloodsport – 1988

The story of Frank W. Dux is a fascinating one since his journey took him from training in the ways of a ninja since his youth to participating in a deadly, underground martial arts tournament called the Kumite.  Dux’s story is so fascinating that it was made into a movie called Bloodsport starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

While Jean-Claude Van Damme may not be the film star he was during the 90’s, he will always be remembered for the martial arts cult phenomenon known as Bloodsport.  Van Damme’s ripped physique, forceful helicopter kicks, and ability to do a complete split were all put on display in this film.

Complimenting Van Damme’s abilities was this top muscle movie's main villain Bolo Yeung who is the bulkiest martial artist ever seen on camera.  Never before had a martial artist movie star combined such a large, hulking build along with the unparalleled fighting abilities Yeung showed in Bloodsport.  To this date, Bolo Yeung still has a tradition of lifting for two hours a day which began back in his competitive bodybuilding days.

Top Muscle Movie 300300 – 2007

There may be no top muscle movie that will ever be defined by the builds of its actors the way 300 is.  Gerard Butler (who played King Leonidas) and the rest of his 300 soldiers were a band of sword-wielding, 8-pack having, Spartans who tried to perform the impossible in holding back 1 million charging Persian soldiers.

Butler and the rest of the 300 actors were so ripped that numerous accusations where made including ones where people claimed they were putting molded ab muscles over their stomachs.  In reality, these physiques were achieved through 4 months of grueling training where the actors spent hours with Kettlebells, rings, and medicine balls to whip themselves into shape.

The workouts done by the actors were rarely ever repeated, and the calorie intake was drastically cut so that the characters truly looked like they lived off of the land.  Sometimes these workout sessions even lasted up to 12 hours!

Top Muscle Movie Conan the BarbarianConan the Barbarian – 1982

What would this list be without a top muscle movie starring the most famous bodybuilder of all time in Arnold Schwarzenegger.  In Conan the Barbarian, Schwarzenegger endures seeing the death of his parents, slavery, and being forced to fight in an arena as a gladiator.  Luckily, Arnold’s character Conan is set free so he can seek vengeance on those who killed his parents.

Conan the Barbarian was Arnold’s breakout film role as it managed to do well enough at the box office to spawn a sequel in Conan the Destroyer.  Audiences loved watching the seven-time Mr. Olympia dispatch his enemies with the blunt edge of a sword while seeking revenge on James Earl Jones for the murder of his parents.

What’s amazing about this film is that it not only featured the world’s best built man in Schwarzenegger, but it also had appearances from other famous bodybuilders like Franco Columbu, William Smith, Sven-Ole Thorsen as well as an Oakland Raiders star at the time in Ben Davidson.

Top Muscle Movie Fight ClubFight Club – 1999

Although it was considered a disappointment at the box offices, Fight Club became a huge hit once it was released to DVD and, subsequently, developed a cult following.  Edward Norton’s problems with his split-personality and alter-ego Brad Pitt evolved into an intriguing underground world where people from all walks of life met to do battle with their fists.  But the fight club was merely a meeting point for a unified group of people who wanted to rid the world of establishment.

Before this top muscle movie, most people’s impression of Brad Pitt was simply a pretty boy who all of the girls thought was hot.  After Fight Club, Pitt distanced himself from this stereotype by combing a gritty onscreen character along with a tremendously built body.  Pitt was so ripped in Fight Club that he made fans of the movie want to start doing crunches every time he made an appearance.     

The Rocky Series – 1979 to 2006

As mentioned before, Sylvester Stallone was heavily influenced to workout by the 1958 top muscle movie Hercules.  And it’s a good thing Hercules was so motivating to Stallone because otherwise we might not have the Rocky movies. 

Basically every Rocky movie boils down to the same thing: Rocky meets an insurmountable challenge only to overcome this obstacle by going through a grueling training period.  Amazingly, this simple formula worked time and time again while delighting audiences in the process. 

Along with providing great entertainment value, the Rocky movies also featured plenty of icons such as Mr. T, Carl Weathers, and Hollywood muscle man Dolph Lundgren.  The Rocky series even managed to include real boxers too as Rocky V featured Tommy Morrison when he was in his prime while Rocky Balboa starred former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver.

The aforementioned training mortgages were a hallmark of Rocky films since they not only implied Stallone was getting into shape, but were also extremely motivating.  Rocky IV probably features the most memorable montage since Stallone is using extreme training methods in the cold mountains of Russia to get in shape while his counterpart, Lundgren, is using advanced lab technology.  This whole scene sets up what is a fantastic ending to the movie!

Here's some links to discuss the top muscle movies of all time on the Elite Fitness Forums:

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