Over the years, the bodybuilding industry has gained more and more attention. The stories and experiences in the industry have motivated various athletes and film producers to document the sport.
After going through dozens of bodybuilding documentary suggestions, I have created a list to start you off. However, these are not the only documentaries around on bodybuilding. I made this list based on how in-depth the documentary is on meal plans and workout routines. I also made sure to pick films that are available on the internet. If you want to understand bodybuilding and all that it entails, watching one (or more) of these documentaries is the perfect start.
Pumping Iron (1977)
This is among the earliest famous bodybuilding movies. Based around the 1975 Mr. Universe & Mr. Olympia competitions, Arnold Schwarzenegger takes us through the preparations he went through before eventually winning the championship. This was a great movie to show the world what bodybuilding is all about. We can say that the production of Pumping Iron inspired most of the present-day workout tutorials we see on YouTube and vlogs. The film has a runtime of 85 minutes.
Pumping Iron 2 – The Women (1985)
In 1985, the second edition of Pumping Iron was released. Unlike the first documentary, this one was mainly focused on female bodybuilders. This time around, the film features four women who are preparing for the Caesars Palace World Cup Championship in 1983. The four women are: Lori Bowen and Carla Dunlap who came into the race as newcomers, Bev Francis, and Rachel McLish, who was the champion at the time. Observe their triumphs and personal struggles, over a runtime of 107 minutes.
The Bodybuilder and I (2007)
A 2007 documentary film directed by Bryan Friedman. Seeking to reconnect with his 59-year-old father, Bill Friedman. Bryan, who was 26 at the time, takes viewers through the geriatric bodybuilding subculture. Though his dad hadn’t been around for most of his life, the filmmaking process brings them closer together and gives them a chance to better understand each other.
Ripped – Inside Women’s Bodybuilding (2017)
Women have proved to be equally capable of becoming successful bodybuilders with the necessary muscular physiques. This 20-minute documentary focuses on two female bodybuilders. The documentary takes you through their personal experiences in the sport as they stretch their emotional and physical limits. Teresa Popowicz, a powerlifter-cum-bodybuilder, was in her late 40s at the time of filming. She shares her experience of body shame and how she became motivated to train for a national competition. Krystia Petrossie also stars. She is a bodybuilder who competes in the physique category. She also shares an emotional story on why and how she became a bodybuilder with the help of her coach, Helen Bouchard. Hellen is a former Canadian bodybuilder who turned pro in 2003.
Generation Iron 1, 2 & 3 (2013-2018)
These are probably among some of the most acclaimed documentaries on bodybuilding. The first edition of this film features the top 7 bodybuilders in the competition. The film gives the audience exclusive access to their lives as they train. The athletes talk about the challenges they face and how they overcame them. The audience can get helpful advice from the cast as they share their experience with supplements and steroids. Some athletes talk about complementing workouts with pharmaceutical supplements. These include products such as anadrol that can be bought at 120kgs.com. Currently, the documentary is a three-part series and includes various bodybuilders from both old and new generations.
The Perfect Physique (2015)
This Netflix film features IFBB Men’s Physique Pro athletes and fitness cover models who reveal their desire, drive, discipline, and endless determination to become champions. The cast takes you through their intense training and strict dieting they aim to stay shredded for their next pro show.
CT Fletcher: My Magnificent Obsession (2015)
Lastly, this has to be the most heartwarming bodybuilding story of the decade. From undergoing open heart surgery in 2005, Fletcher documents his life story and how he almost died in pursuit of what he loves doing. The film features appearances from Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bill Goldberg – to mention a few.
If you’re seeking to get some knowledge on bodybuilding, watching any of these documentaries will benefit you. All the listed films are real, and offer relatable experiences. Alternatively, if you were seeking a movie list for your gym partners to enjoy while you heal your DOMS, then grab a bucket of popcorn and pick any film title to enjoy.