Bob Paris: Bodybuilder & Icon

Bob Paris is one of the most respected bodybuilders of all time and a true artist when it comes to sculpting the body. As with most, his love of fitness and weight lifting started at an early age.

Growing up in Southern Indiana, Paris grew up with a love of the outdoors. In High School, Bob was on the football, track and field, and golf teams. It was in his sophomore year that Bob discovered his true passion. In the back of the basketball gym, he uncovered a dusty weights machine.

Paris was a keen artist and a theatre enthusiast. Bodybuilding balanced his love of weight training and his artistic nature. The sport allowed him to sculpt one of the most impressive physiques ever seen.

After University and the Marine Corps, Paris made the move to California. Bob drove from Indiana to Santa Monica to pursue his acting and bodybuilding dreams. He was nineteen at the time.

Unlike most struggling stars, Bob didn’t spend long at the bottom. Within a couple of years, Bob Paris won both the Mr. Los Angeles show and the Mr. Southern California show. The rest is history. Bob Paris went on to compete in the biggest shows in bodybuilding. 

Flex Magazine referred to Bob Paris as the most aesthetic athlete in the history of bodybuilding in a 2006 issue of Flex Magazine

  • 1981 Mr. Los Angeles 1st
  • 1982 Mr. California – NPC 2nd, Lightheavyweight
  • 1982 Nationals – NPC 4th, Heavyweight
  • 1982 IFBB North American Championships 3rd, Heavyweight
  • 1982 NPC USA Championships 3rd, Heavyweight
  • 1983 NPC Nationals Overall Winner
  • 1983 NPC Nationals 1st, Heavyweight
  • 1983 IFBB World Amateur Championships Overall Winner
  • 1983 IFBB World Amateur Championships 1st, Heavyweight
  • 1984 Mr. Olympia 7th
  • 1985 Mr. Olympia 9th
  • 1986 IFBB Los Angeles Pro Championsips 7th
  • 1986 IFBB World Pro Championships 6th
  • 1988 IFBB Chicago Pro Invitational 5th
  • 1988 IFBB Grand Prix (England) 6th
  • 1988 IFBB Grand Prix (France) 4th
  • 1988 IFBB Grand Prix (Germany) 6th
  • 1988 IFBB Grand Prix (Greece) 6th
  • 1988 IFBB Grand Prix (Italy) 3rd
  • 1988 IFBB Grand Prix (Spain) 5th
  • 1988 IFBB Grand Prix (Spain) [2] 4th
  • 1988 IFBB Niagara Falls Pro Invitational 3rd
  • 1988 IFBB Night of Champions 3rd
  • 1988 Mr. Olympia 10th
  • 1989 Arnold Classic 5th
  • 1989 IFBB Grand Prix (France) 3rd
  • 1989 IFBB Grand Prix (Germany) 6th
  • 1989 Grand Prix (Melbourne) 3rd
  • 1989 Grand Prix (Spain) [2] 3nd
  • 1989 Grand Prix (Spain) 3rd
  • 1989 Grand Prix (Sweden) 4th
  • 1989 IFBB Night of Champions 4th
  • 1989 Mr. Olympia 14th
  • 1989 IFBB World Pro Championships 3rd
  • 1990 IFBB Night of Champions 14th
  • 1991 Arnold Classic 16th
  • 1991 IFBB Grand Prix (Italy) 5th
  • 1991 Ironman Pro Invitational 10th
  • 1991 Ironman Pro Invitational 11th
  • 1991 Musclefest Grand Prix 3rd
  • 1991 Mr. Olympia 12th
  • 1992 IFBB Chicago Pro Invitational 10th

After his bodybuilding career came to an end, Bob focused his attention on acting. In 1998 he made his New York debut playing the character Mowgli from the show Jubilee. Paris also had a recurring role in the series Defying Gravity in 2009.

Despite his fame in bodybuilding, Paris admits it’s not the path he wanted to take. Bob explains how he didn’t want to be a bodybuilder, he just excelled at the sport. He enjoyed the discipline of the sport and credits it for making him the man he is today. Bob now spends his time on his one true passion, writing. Whilst he no longer bodybuilds, he maintains an active and healthy lifestyle. Much like Steve Reeves, the lifestyle benefits outweigh the aesthetics.

Coming Out

Although Bob is one of the most decorated bodybuilders in history, he’s had his share of turmoil. In an issue of Ironman Magazine in 1989, Bob Paris came out as an openly gay man. Overnight his world changed. Bob lost his business and began to receive death threats from the public. This was the first time a professional athlete had come out as gay whilst actively still competing. In that same year, Paris went on the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss being an openly gay man in professional sport.

“I lost about 80% of my business. Literally had doors closed in my face. There were a number of times where my life was threatened.” – Bob Paris

Bob retired from bodybuilding in 1991. He remained an activist for civil rights and became an icon to many sportsmen in a similar situation to him. Bob also preached the importance of proper drug testing in bodybuilding and lobbied for the federations to test more.

Training Philosophy

Bob Paris wrote many books on bodybuilding. The most notable and highly recommended is Flawless. Throughout his book, Bob outlines some key principles that allowed him to build one of the best physiques in bodybuilding.

Prioritise Health

This is a common theme with all old-school bodybuilders. Steve Reeves and Vince Gironda had the same belief. Above all else, your health is the number one priority when bodybuilding. Paris draws a link between how you treat your body and the quality of your life. It’s the only body you get, so treat it accordingly.

Form & Mind-Muscle Connection

Paris believed that to build the body, you had to focus on the muscle working. This is the mind-muscle connection. Without this, you’re just throwing weights around and hoping for something to happen. Bob also promoted the use of proper form. He believed you should lift the heaviest weight possible whilst maintaining perfect technique. Steve Reeves held the same belief.

Paris also discusses how perfect form allows you to differentiate between pain. You have appropriate pain, which is building muscle. And you have inappropriate pain, which is causing an injury.

Nutrition is King

Paris often discussed the importance of nutrition. He believed you should eat a balanced diet that suits your goals and metabolism. If you fall off track, don’t beat yourself up, and get back to it immediately. Paris was also a firm believer that supplements cannot make up for poor nutrition. Nothing will serve you better than rest, optimal nutrition, and patience.

Bob followed a Push-Pull-Legs split and ate a specific diet. You can find more details here.

Bob Paris was the perfect bodybuilder. The discipline and dedication to the sport allowed him to train smarter and harder than anybody else. His artistic passion allowed him to sculpt a physique nobody else could envision. You’d be hard pushed to find anybody who had a greater impact both on and off the stage. Paris was possibly the most aesthetic bodybuilder of all time.

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