The Evolution Of The Bodybuilding Thong

| by Truth Seeker |

Bodybuilding is one of the few competitive activities that require men to wear scanty underwear. The purpose of wearing male thongs a.k.a. posing trunks is to allow the judges to evaluate the muscular development and conditioning of your glutes.

In this article, we are going to explore the evolution of the bodybuilding thong.

The Beginning

Eugen Sandow, born Friedrich Wilhelm Müller, put muscle construction on the mainstream map, and to this day, he 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. He became a circus athlete and adopted Eugen Sandow as his stage name.

Sandow quickly became known for his feats of strength, which the crowd adored. Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr an American Broadway impresario, wanted Sandow to participate in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. During the performance of Sandow, Ziegfeld noticed that the physical development of the strongman was often dragging the spectators into a persistent stupor. Eventually, Sandow added posing routines between his feats of strength and acrobatics. This is how bodybuilding was born, at least the official version. Today, the award given to the winner of Olympia represents a small statue of Eugen Sandow.

This retro imagery of Sandow provides us with an opportunity to explore the journey of the bodybuilding thong since the very beginning of the sport.

The images below reveal that the initial bodybuilding thong (posing trunks) was divided into two categories – underwear and leaves.

Eugen Sandow used leaves before there were bodybuilding thongs.

Eugen Sandow used leaves before there were bodybuilding thongs.


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

Even in the primitive era, bodybuilders wanted their musculature to stand out. Wearing leopard underwear seemed like a logical step in that direction.

Make Room For The King – Arnold Is In The House

Bodybuilding may have started a long time ago, but it was only a small cult until Arnold Schwarzenegger and his promoter Joe Weider popularized muscle construction all over the world with the movie – Pumping Iron.

Those years are 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.

During the early stages of the Golden Era, most bodybuilders relied on Speedolike bodybuilding thongs/posing trunks. The thongs resembled male swimsuits and were quite tight on the body.


The first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, posing graciously in his retro posing trunks.

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

A comparison between the 1900’s and the 1970’s

As you can see in the photo above, leaves lost their charm and quickly went out of fashion. As they say, you can’t stop progress.

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, Rich Gaspari changed bodybuilding history forever. He was the first man with shredded glutes on stage.


Look at my glutes, brothers of iron!

The photo above reveals the 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 glutes of the competitors. Having a nice rear was no longer enough. Shredded glutes were in order.

Soon after, the posing trunks went on a diet designed to enhance the judging experience. This series of events gave birth to the modern bodybuilding thong which continues to frequent the biggest bodybuilding stages on the planet.


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.

Final Words

The evolution of the bodybuilding thong

The evolution of the bodybuilding thong

As you can see for yourself, the modern bodybuilding thong allows the judges to examine every muscle group of the competitors’ body. Thanks to Rich Gaspari and his successors, bodybuilders who have worked hard for their glute conditioning are finally receiving the rewards that they deserve.

Happy Glute Training!

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One comment

  1. TC

    I took a break from following bodybuilding between about 1998 and 2015. When I started getting back into it online, I was astonished to find that with the new obsession with shredded glutes that had developed during that time and the corresponding shrinkage of posing trunks to somehow smaller sizes (often deliberately wedged between the butt cheeks for maximum exposure) bodybuilding had somehow,
    somehow, managed to make itself even gayer. I wonder what they’ll come up with next.

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