Retro Athlete: Bob Paris

The 1983 IFBB World Champion sculpted bodybuilding's most aesthetic physique.

In 2006, when FLEX ranked the 20 most aesthetic physiques of all time, Bob Paris was No. 1. In the ’80s, he represented the apotheosis of classical lines and perfect proportions. What made him truly unique was the fact that, at 6 feet and 230 pounds, he was much heavier than a typical shape-first bodybuilder. He carried enough mass to defeat the world’s largest amateurs when he won the 1983 IFBB World Championships at only 23. Equally auspicious was his IFBB Pro League debut—seventh in the 1984 Mr. Olympia. Between 1984 and 1992, Paris competed in 32 pro contests. He never placed higher than third, but he was third nine times. 

When he made his Olympia debut 31 years ago at only 24, many heralded him as a future O winner. It wasn’t to be. Paris’ flawless shape almost always kept him in the running, even as his refusal to push striations and size into the “freaky” zone prevented him from securing a pro title. Like a sculptor at work, he added muscle and revealed cuts strategically. 

Today, Paris lives with his husband on a Canadian island, working as a writer and lecturer. He is still celebrated for his steadfast commitment to physique aesthetics.


“There’s a common misconception that you can’t overtrain your abs. I disagree.”

“On the other hand, doing sets of six or eight reps for ab training isn’t practical because of the anatomy involved. My goal is to feel each and every one of my reps. For that, 15 to 25 reps work best.”

“Don’t try to beat your abdominals into submission with 100-rep sets. As with all your muscles, feeling the contraction is most important.”

“My ab-training approach is relatively simple. There are only a couple of basic functions you need to address to develop the area, and everything spins off from there."


Of Paris' 32 pro contests, 21 of them occurred over an exhausting 18 months, from the spring of 1988 to the fall of 1989.


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