The Evolution Of The Bodybuilding Thong

Bodybuilding is one of the few competitive activities which require men to wear scanty underwear in order to have a chance to win. Obviously, the whole point of only wearing male thongs a.k.a. posing trunks is to allow the judges to evaluate the level of muscular development you have. In this article we are going to explore the evolution of the bodybuilding thong and how it has changed over the years along with the sport.

The Beginning

The first bodybuilder to gain popularity around regular folks was Eugen Sandow. His real name was Friedrich Wilhelm Müller and to this day remains known as the ‘father of modern bodybuilding.’

Sandow was born in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) on April 2, 1867, to a German father and a Russian mother. He left Prussia in 1885 to avoid military service and traveled throughout Europe, becoming a circus athlete and adopting Eugen Sandow as his stage name.

Sandow was know for his feats of strength and was quite popular among the crowd. Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr who was an American Broadway impresario wanted Sandow to participate in 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. During the performance of Sandow Ziegfeld noticed that the crowd was largely impressed by the physical development of the strongman. That’s why Sandow started including some sort of posing routines in between his feats of strength and acrobatics. This is how bodybuilding was born, at least the official version. Today, the award given to the Mr. Olympia winner represents a small statue of Eugen Sandow.

Since Sandow was photographed and painted many times we can begin to explore the wonderful world of the bodybuilding thong since the very beginning of the sport.

The images below reveal that the first bodybuilding thongs or posing trunks were divided into two groups – underwear and leaves.

Eugen Sandow used leaves before there were bodybuilding thongs.

Eugen Sandow used leaves before there were bodybuilding thongs.


Eugen Sandow and his other preferred posing trunks – leopard panties.

As you can see even back in the day bodybuilders wanted to stand out and wearing leopard underwear was obviously in order.

Make Room For The King – Arnold Is In The House

While bodybuilding started a long time ago, it was nothing but a small cult until Arnold Schwarzenegger and his promoter Joe Weider really popularized it all over the world with the movie – Pumping Iron. Those times are to this day considered the Golden Era of the sport and many fans feel nostalgic and cry whenever they see a bodybuilding magazine with Arnold on the cover.

In those days bodybuilders used to wear Speedo like bodybuilding thongs/posing trunks. The thongs resembled male swim suits and were quite tight on the body.


The first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, posing graciously while wearing 60-70’s posing trunks.

A comparison between the 1870s bodybuilding thong and the 1970s bodybuilding thong

A comparison between 1900’s and 1970’s  bodybuilding thongs

As you can see from the photo above wearing leaves quickly went out of fashion. After all the world was becoming more and more revolutionary.

Rich Gaspari and His Shredded Glutes Created the Modern Bodybuilding Thong

The bodybuilding thong preferred during the Golden Era had a long reign, but eventually it had to give the throne to the modern version. In 1986, at a contest under the name of IFBB Pro World in Columbus, Ohio Rich Gaspari changed bodybuilding history forever. He was the first man to have shredded glutes on stage.


Look at my glutes, brothers of iron!

In the photo above you can see a moment of that show when Rich Gaspari pointed towards his shredded muscular glutes in order to draw the attention of the judges. Since that day the judges started to require way more from the competitors’ glute development. Just having a nice rear was no longer enough. It had to be shredded to the bone.

In order for the judges to evaluate one’s glutes properly the bodybuilding thong had to be reevaluated. The conclusion was that it has to go on a diet in order to reveal even more flesh. This is how the modern bodybuilding thong was born and continues to be used until this very day.


Current Mr. Olympia Phil Heath showing how the modern bodybuilding thong looks from the front.

8 Times Mr. Olympia showing how the modern bodybuilding thong looks from the back.

8 Times Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman showing how the modern bodybuilding thong looks from the back.

As you can see the modern bodybuilding thong allows the judges to examine every muscle group of the competitors’ body when making their decision. Thanks to Rich Gaspari and his successors bodybuilders who have worked hard for their glute conditioning are now receiving the props they deserve. Happy glute training!

In conclusion

The evolution of the bodybuilding thong

The evolution of the bodybuilding thong

The bodybuilding thong is a very important piece of equipment when it comes bodybuilding. It reflects the history of the sport to a certain degree.

Well, now you know how the bodybuilding thong reached perfection – it hides all the small parts, in order for the big parts to be judged.

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