12 Best Bodybuilding Documentaries

Nearly 73% of Americans have set themselves physical fitness goals this year and millions of Americans will choose bodybuilding as part of their fitness regime.

If you’re one of them, then you may need some inspiration and support, and these best bodybuilding documentaries are a great place to start. 

Check them out!


Generation Iron 1-3

Generation Iron

The Generation Iron series is, perhaps, the most essential viewing of them all when it comes to bodybuilding documentaries.

The first installment looks at some of the big names of bodybuilding and how they got where they are.

The second is focused on younger bodybuilders and social media.

And the third returns to Mr. Olympia to talk to a wide-range of bodybuilders. 

They’re not afraid to examine the dark side of bodybuilding, either.


Pumping Iron 1 – 2

Pumping Iron

Pumping Iron was where Arnold Schwarzenegger went from “guy who lifts” to the name on every tongue in America. 

It looks at the golden era of bodybuilding and, in particular, 1975’s Mr Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions. 

The sequel is something for the ladies with a focus on the women’s 1983 World Championship title in Las Vegas. 

Pumping Iron 2 was a positive examination of the sport which removed a lot of stereotypes around women in bodybuilding. 


Ripped: Inside Women’s Bodybuilding

Ripped: Inside Women’s Bodybuilding poster

This is an intimate documentary which focuses on Teresa Powicz and Kyrstia Petrossie’s personal journeys in the bodybuilding world.

It’s super short at just 20 minutes of runtime. That means it’s the perfect documentary for consumption on your commute to work. 


Iron and Beyond: The Story Of Arnold

Iron and Beyond: The Story Of Arnold

Pumping Iron may have made Arnie famous but it’s Iron and Beyond that documents his journey to that point and how his presence on the scene transformed the public’s view of bodybuilding.

Sure, in the main, this is a documentary about one man but there’s also plenty of inside information from the bodybuilding world to help you with your own journey. 


Stand Tall

Stand Tall

Lou Ferrigno, yes, the Incredible Hulk, gets his own documentary to explore how he returned to bodybuilding as a professional after nearly 20 years away from the sport. 

It has a very similar approach to the story as Pumping Iron but we’ve moved forward 20 years to the bodybuilding scene of the 1990s. 


The Body Builder And I

The Body Builder And I

This documentary was shot by Bill Friedman’s son. Bill was in his later 50s and preparing to compete in a Master’s event when the movie was amde.

It’s as much about the reunion of father and son as it is about bodybuilding and thus, it’s one of the more emotive entries on our list of the best bodybuilding documentaries. 


Dorian Yates – The Original Mass Monster

Dorian Yates - The Original Mass Monster

This isn’t a happy tale of bodybuilding, instead, it explores what happens to Dorian Yates after he leaves professional bodybuilding.

He retires to Costa Rice and then, sadly, goes into a full mental breakdown. The documentary explores Yates’ former life in detail too. 


Muscle And Medals

Muscle And Medals

What happens when everything is going right and then disaster strikes? That’s the question that Muscle and Medals seeks to address.

It follows Romane Lanceford, a professional bodybuilder, and his journey from professional to being hospitalized.

And then his efforts to reboot his career after being discharged. 


Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Bigger, Stronger, Faster

We all know there’s a dark side to the bodybuilding scene – steroid use and abuse. 

In Bigger, Stronger, Faster, Christopher Bell sets out to explore, with an unbiased eye, the good and the bad of steroids in bodybuilding. 


Ronnie Coleman: The King

Ronnie Coleman: The King

Ronnie Coleman won the world title and the Mr. Olympia title, eight times each. 

This documentary explores what it takes not just to be the very best but how to stick at it when so many greats are just a flash-in-the-pan. 

If you need inspiration to put in more work, this is the film for you. 


Man Made

Man Made

If there’s one group of bodybuilders who’s story is rarely told that would be transgender bodybuilders.

Man Made explores the community of transgender bodybulders and helps to break down barriers of understanding. 


A Skin So Soft

A Skin So Soft

Take six men, all prepared to do what it takes to overcome all limits of human endurance, and what you get is A Skin So Soft.

This is part training video, part touching documentary.

And it’s an intense look at where our boundaries should be when seeking physical perfection. 


Final Thoughts On Bodybuilding Documentaries

You can’t go wrong with these awesome bodybuilding documentaries, they cover nearly every aspect of bodybuilding – the good, the bad and the ugly.

If you’re just starting out or you’re seeking inspiration to keep going with bodybuilding, why not watch one today? 

If you’re looking for more resources to help you become a better bodybuilder, we’ve got some awesome choices for you.

Check out our top bodybuilding books, these amazing vegan bodybuilders and some super handy weightlifting apps

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Stephen Oliver
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