Hail to the champions of the year 2022! It is evident to see why this event had bodies rippling with anticipation. Fresh faces have emerged, and seasoned players are making their mark on the competition.
Below is a list of seven exceptional muscle moguls (in no particular order) who left an indelible impression on judges in the previous year. I have no doubt that this season's crop of exceptional athletes will once again astound us with their feats on the field and their impact on popular culture.
Keep your eyes peeled next year—these impressive talents may also make our 2023 list!
7 Most Popular Bodybuilders in 2022
2022 was an incredible year for bodybuilding, with the rise of several talented stars who quickly brought the sport back into mainstream culture. Among those rising stars were seven athletes whose physiques, personalities, and dynamic stage presence were hard to ignore. Check out the list below to find out more about them:
1. Michal “Krizo” Križánek
Everyone is buzzing about Michal "Krizo" Kriánek because he won the bodybuilding championship recently. His list of accomplishments in 2022 has been nothing short of remarkable; he demonstrated his prowess as a bodybuilder by placing in the top four at
The French Open, followed it up by winning gold at the National Championships, then capped it off by spectacularly winning the European Championship.
His performances have been extremely consistent throughout the year, demonstrating exactly why he is considered one of the most promising bodybuilders competing on the international scene. For Krizo, 2022 was undoubtedly a banner year, and as we move into 2023, he will undoubtedly be one to keep an eye on.
2. Harold Kelley
Harold Kelley had the sports world buzzing when he announced his goal of competing as a bodybuilder in 2022 despite being confined to a wheelchair. Already a renowned trainer and coach, Harold knows what it takes to transform humans into the best they can be.
His plans do not stop at just training himself, rather he has energized many within the disability community as he continues to spread his enthusiasm and commitment to creating a more accessible world for all.
Harold Kelley had a fantastic performance in bodybuilding competitions in 2022. He placed first in 3 separate competitions, proving that he was an unstoppable force of strength and dedication.
What made this particularly noteworthy, though, is that in the short time since entering the bodybuilding scene, he had already made a name for himself as one of the best competitors nationwide.
He accomplished all this while remaining humble and inspiring others to follow his example. Indeed, Harold Kelley made history during his performance in 2022 – this is only the beginning of his success!
3. Andrea Shaw
In 2022, Andrea Shaw firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the bodybuilding scene - and did it all with style! With a No Holds Barred attitude, she pushed her muscles to their limits and dared anyone to challenge her fitness level.
At nearly every competition, Andrea won big; she won her third straight Ms. Olympia title at the 2022 Olympia Weekend in Las Vegas, and this girl was unstoppable!
Her commitment to her training and dedication to growing her strength gave her an undeniable edge. What's more impressive?
Andrea isn't done! She's constantly reaching for bigger goals, preparing for 2021 competitions armed with sheer will and a keen eye for the next challenge.
4. Blessing Awodibu
Move aside Arnold Schwarzenegger; there's a new Boogieman in town. Blessing Awodibu is an Irish professional bodybuilder and Instagram star with close to two million followers.
An unfortunate setback derailed his plan to attend the college he wanted, but that further fuelled his passion for bodybuilding, which led him to earn an IFBB Pro card in 2017!
Fast forward four years later, at 2021 Indy Pro, he made his pro debut where he competed against Nick Walker & came third in the Open division. He stayed hot on Walker’s tail as they continued their rivalry into the 2021 New York Pro show- eventually garnering sixth place overall!
With two impressive wins at the 2022 Indy Pro and New York Pro, The Irishman was back with a vengeance. Now he's prepping to show up big time in Las Vegas for his debut on the Olympia stage! Better keep your eyes peeled because this dude might steal the show.
5. Andrew Jacked
Andrew Jacked began his rookie season in powerlifting with a bang and isn't stopping anytime soon. After earning the coveted Pro Card at Arnold Classic Amateur, he was all set to take on bigger competitions - of which there is no greater than the 2022 Olympia!
This winning streak can be attributed to Jacked's practicing hard, taking some posing tips from Flex Wheeler, and working closely with George Farah, who has given him just enough push for success!
After an epic clash at the 2022 Texas Pro, Andrew Jacked was deemed worthy of victory and went on to slay again with a remarkable win at the Arnold Classic UK - not even his less-than-perfect form could stop him! He has great mentorship and great potential.
6. Derek Lunsford
When Derek Lunsford was only 22 years old, he created a splash in the world of amateur bodybuilding by winning his first competition, which took place in the 2015 NPC Indianapolis Championships.
He built his reputation by coming out on top in both the 2016 and 2017 Junior Nationals competitions when he won both available titles. Although things began to slow down after that, with him clinching second place during 2018's USA Nationals, it was evident that this athlete came out to compete!
After completing an impressive run in the amateur ranks, Derek Lunsford went on to get a pro card and establish himself as the newest rising star in professional bodybuilding. His entry into this esteemed competition was highlighted by an outstanding victory in the 212-pound division of the 2017 IFBB Tampa Pro.
He did not rest on his laurels and continued to compete, eventually coming in second place in the Open category of the Mr. Olympia competition in 2022! As we look forward to what new heights of achievement lie ahead, it won't be long before all eyes are firmly fastened upon him.
7. Samson Dauda
Samson Dauda, a competitor in the Men's Open bodybuilding division, has had a productive year in 2022. However, he still has a long way to go before he can make the most of his opportunity to compete in Mr. Olympia in 2022.
One of the most prominent newcomers to the sport, he is known by his nickname, "The Nigerian Lion." This nickname is both symbolic and literal.
Dauda was ON FIRE in 2022! He came out of the gates strong and finished fourth at the Arnold Classic AND Boston Pro. Talk about a double win—not only did he celebrate those stellar performances, but they also added up to 10 points toward qualifying for his first-ever Mr. Olympia competition!
At the Olympia competition of 2022, Samson Dauda made his grand debut as Mr.Olympia, and he didn't go unnoticed! The Nigerian Lion soared to a triumphant sixth-place finish against renowned champion Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay.
Afterward, Dauda stepped back for a moment to reflect on this monumental battle – no doubt it was an experience like no other!
How could we forget about the dark horses from the previous year? Let's take a look at some of the honorable mentions of those who we might see again this year.
In the year 2021, Nick Walker was on fire! After winning first place at the New York Pro and the Arnold Classic, he entered the Mr. Olympia competition against all of the other heavy hitters... and finished in an impressive fifth place! He improved that score to an astonishing third-place result during 2022's "O" while also snatching this year's People's Champ title, cementing himself as one of the bodybuilding fans' favorite athletes.
Let us not forget about social media; Nick's dominance in the Men's Open competition is evidenced by the fact that he has over 1.2 million followers on Instagram and 221 thousand subscribers on YouTube (outside Big Ramy).
Cydney Gillon is a formidable force to be reckoned with in the world of figure competition! In March, she competed in the Arnold Classic and won her second Figure International championship. After that, she hosted the first edition of The Cydney Gillon Peach Classic, which was also a successful event.
In addition, as if all of that weren't enough, this absolute powerhouse added another feather to her cap in November by winning the impressive SIXTH FIGURE OLYMPIA TITLE IN VEGAS.
With this victory, she cemented herself into one of the most elite categories in bodybuilding alongside megastars such as Ronnie Coleman and Phil Heath. It's evident that Sydney has no plans to slow down anytime soon; I can't wait to see what 2023 has in store for us!
Take Away for 2023
I am excited to see how these people will go forward this year and would love to see them in more competitions. It is always great to see new athletes emerging and making history. After the relative inactivity of winter, March 3 and 4, 2023, will bring a resurgence of activity in the fitness world with the Arnold Classic.
Are you ready to take things to the next level? Prepare yourself for a grueling few months of competition beginning in the early spring of 23!