Stars of the Olympia – Markus Rühl

Markus Rühl: The Olympia has had some mass monsters who were always crowd favorites, in spite of the fact that they never really challenged for the crown. Guys like Ferrigno and Brutal Bertil Fox and Paul Dillett  and Big Ramy clumped around the bottom of the top ten, casting a massive shadow from the shadows on smaller but more complete competitors for decades.  Though they may have never placed well enough to get mention among the best, they were nevertheless superstars in their own right.

One such mass monster was the gigantic German, Markus Rühl.  Standing 5’10” and 285lbs, Rühl was among the largest human beings to have ever graced the stage when he competed in the first decade of the 2000s.  He was eventually outsized by the reigning Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, Rühl was the benchmark for mass for much of the early oughts.

Markus Rühl made his pro debut in 1999, when he was unceremoniously disqualified for diuretics use in one of the years the sport of bodybuilding wanted to project the impression they cared about their athletes.  Though his debut was ignominious, he snagged fourth in his second competition, the Night of the Champions, and Rühl made his first real mark as a pro.  From there, he dominated the big men of the sport with his freakish size.

Tragically Rühl’s weaknesses glared in the face of his strengths- his oversized biceps dominated his merely mortal trips.  Additionally, his lats were high and he tended to hold a lot of water from the back, all of which kept him out of the top six at the Olympia all but once.  His infectiously positive approach to the sport, and the excitement with which he competed made him a constant crowd favorite, however, and the crowd’s roars when he’d hit his trademark crab pose seemed enough to hand his the Olympia crown… at least until he turned around.

Unlike many of the big men of the sport, Rühl’s still massive and lean in his late forties, proving “mass monster” isn’t code for “dead by forty.”  Happily, that means he’s still capable of sharing tips about gaining the mass he did while showing it in person, rather than just coaching young lifters from the grave or a hospital bed.


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