T Nation

Late Start Professional Bodybuilders


Was thinking about it the other day. Has there been any bodybuilders natural/unnatural that have gotten their pro card after starting bodybuilding late in life. By late i mean sometime in their 20's? Mid 20s?

Did some research and so far have come up with:
Albert Beckles - competed first competition 35
Don Youngblood
Joel Stubbs - started aged 29
Toney Freeman - started properly training about 22
Ed Corney - 30s

**Also, if you haven't listened to Toney Freeman's bio, do, its really interesting.

***My 1000th Post!!!


Ed Corney


Toney Freeman



Albert Beckles


Ed Corney


Martin Kjellstrom started training for bodybuilding at age 25, previous to that he was doing long distance running from what I hear.


I think Phil Heath started in his 20's,.. but he was one of those naturally athletic looking guys. Most of the 'late starters' are people who always sort of looked like they probably lifted weights (at least recreationaly) anyway (ie. Heath was always being asked if he was a bodybuilder before he ever thought about competing).



That dude is silly. Didn't he have is pro card in like 24-36 months too?

Genetic anomaly, it's amazing shit that human body.


Thats what his name is, here's a hilarious pic of him all have seen before. Monster.

Thanks for the add!


I believe he played basketball at the University of Denver.

So he was prolly doing some type of training maybe not bb style but definitely some intense training/lifting.

Obviously a genetic freak though with those arms


Freeman was an exotic dancer through most of his 20's and while he worked out, maintained a smaller physique until he almost turned 30. I am not sure you can claim he started late when he was already bigger than most here....just not "bodybuilding huge".


I read somewhere Branch Warren started late, early 20's or so. I don't know if this is true, as I read stuff on this site that says otherwise. Plus, I wouldn't call mid 20's as "late" by all means.


I would call after age 25 late. I also think that you can force more gains if you push towards that end before you completely stop growing...which for most men is around the age of 21.

Most of the guys mentioned were already huge by 25. Toney Freeman was by no means small when he was dancing on stage.

Phil Heath was massive before 23.

Bottom line, few here deserve to be labeled as late starters.


I agree that more gains comes before age 21-25, but it depends on which kind of "late" we are talking about. For someone that was already huge at early age and/or before competing, like Freeman, then I wouldn't say it's late. For other cases, then yes, it is late.


I would ONLY call it late if someone was untrained...and I know of NONE who were literally small but became pros after age 25. They might not have been "heeeyyyuyooooge" yet, but 19" arms at 23 don't indicate "beginner".

Even Youngblood was a big truck driver who was just out of shape but probably carrying more muscle than most here before he got serious.

I would go as far as to say that if you aren't "really big" by 25, you will not be doing any damage on that level.


But Toney wasn't huge. He started off as a skinny kid lifting with more experienced guys who thought he wouldn't come back after his first training session with them.


Also, while Joel Stubbs didn't compete until late, again he was freaking huge when he just worked as an airplane pilot. He just hadn't gotten on stage yet.


I started off as a skinny kid too, but I have a pic of Toney at home in his early 20's at a club and he was still bigger than most here (and lean) before the age of 25.

Lots of guys started off skinny.


I was going with X's example, I never actually paid much attention to Toney Freeman or his background for some reason.