From Hadi Choopan to Chris Bumstead, How Some Bodybuilders Have Overcome Physical and Mental Struggles to Compete at Mr. Olympia

Bodybuilding has become one of the most popular sports in recent times. The craze for a ripped physique became manifold after Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Pumping Iron was released in 1977. Mr. Olympia‘s fever soon spread from the U.S.A. to other parts of the world. Every year, bodybuilders train hard at the gym to qualify for the elite competition. 

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Legendary bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronnie Coleman set high standards for the Mr. Olympia competition. So, to win a Sandow trophy, competing bodybuilders should train intensely. The physical and mental strain bodybuilders experience while training for the Mr. Olympia title cannot be dismissed. 

Bodybuilding- A physical and mental game


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Training with heavy weights at the gym causes severe soreness to the bodybuilders. The hype surrounding the event and fans’ expectations of their icons build up the mental stress of competing athletes. So, bodybuilding becomes a game where the competitors need to persevere through physical and mental trauma while not losing focus on the training rituals. 

Several bodybuilding icons overcame the body and mind constraints during training and claimed the most prestigious bodybuilding title in the past. From Chris Bumstead to Hadi Choopan, many Mr. Olympia champions opened up about their struggles in their journey. But none of them called it quits on their bodybuilding dreams. Chris Bumstead is often open about the lows of his athletic career. 

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Chris Bumstead- The Classic Physique icon’s battle with mental state

The weeks leading to the Mr. Olympia require an intense training regime and diet routine. However, the body and situations do not always permit bodybuilders to follow a perfect training plan. CBum, unlike many sportsmen, is very vocal about the difficulties he experienced during his journey. 

The 28-year-old started his professional bodybuilding career at 19. He opted for the Classic Physique division to portray his shredded avatar and has been reigning in the arena since 2019. However, in 2018, three weeks ahead of the event, CBum observed water retention in his body and was admitted to hospital. 

The Canadian bodybuilding icon was anxious about his condition for three days before being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune kidney disease, IgA Nephropathy. However, despite suffering from the incurable condition, CBum pushed limits to become the 4x Mr. Olympia. In 2022, life once again chose the champion for a challenge. The 28-year-old tore his biceps days ahead of the Mr. Olympia. The mental agony weighed over the physical pain of CBum after the injury. 

“I kinda had one of my CBum moments in the bathroom, crying. I got on my knees in front of this mirror in this private bathroom and I looked at myself and I was like, ‘What’s going on man?” CBum narrated his mental condition before the 2022 Mr. Olympia show. However, the 28-year-old went ahead and competed on the stage and won his fourth Mr. Olympia title. 

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In 2023, CBum almost scared his fans when he posted a long note on how this year’s preparation was quite tough to start. However, at the end of the post, he maintained his never giving up attitude and declared he would be competing for his fifth title at Mr. Olympia in the first week of November. The Open Division sensation Hadi Choopan also once displayed mental strength despite physical pain. 

Hadi Choopan prioritized training despite pain from jaw surgery

The Mr. Olympia winners are carved out from sweat and blood in the gym. The zeal to lift the Sandow trophy should be unparalleled for a bodybuilder, and Hadi Choopan is a pure reflection of such unwavering passion. Despite coming from a poor background, the Persian Wolf never doubted his potential as a bodybuilding icon. The 36-year-old never stops training. Sharing his grit to push through lows, Choopan once posted a training video of him acing, “100 repetitions with a weight of 400kg trap.

While physical strain from the heavy lifting is well known, the mental agony of pushing through the pain from jaw surgery is unimaginable. “Half of my teeth have undergone surgery, and there is severe pain in my jaw and face, but my friends are interested and want to progress and grow,” he wrote in his post. His resolve fetched him the Mr. Olympia title in the Open category, in 2022. But the GOAT of bodybuilding became the human example of pushing beyond pain and struggle. 

Ronnie Coleman: The epitome of perseverance

The bodybuilding sport offers great examples of discipline and hard work. Many bodybuilders sustained injuries during their prime, but Ronnie Coleman’s case has blown the minds of bodybuilding fans. The 8x Mr. Olympia dislocated a disc in his spinal cord in 1996 while squatting 600 lbs. 

Despite the shooting pain, the King didn’t opt for any medical treatment and pushed his highly intense training regime till his retirement in 2006, bearing the unfathomable pain every second. It is quite appalling to the bodybuilding community to believe that he won eight Mr. Olympia titles after the injury. Coleman became the GOAT of bodybuilding despite intense physical agony. Another icon of the Mass Monster era who won the Mr. Olympia despite physical injury is Dorian Yates. 


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The Shadow overcame physical and mental struggles to become 6x Mr. Olympia

Dorian Yates’s passion for bodybuilding started during his time in prison. The English bodybuilder stunned the community with a mass monster physique in 1993. But the following year, the 6x Mr. Olympia tore his bicep six weeks out from the 1994 Mr. Olympia. Recounting his mental state after the injury, Yates once confessed, “I was totally devastated that it happened.” Despite fearing it to be “career-ending” injury, the 61-year-old won the Mr. Olympia title that year. 


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The Mr. Olympia champions prove that willpower and resilience can change even a disastrous situation to that of a winning moment. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths,” life throws challenges to make one strong. Don’t you agree? Let us know in the comments below. 

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