Throwback: Indian Bodybuilders of the 1920-30s Were Crazy Jacked and Shredded!

These Indian bodybuilders of the early 1900s were shredded.

A great deal of the time when we think about classic bodybuilders we reference the Golden Era of the sport when Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, and a host of other athletes dominated the scene. Some may even travel even further back mentioning athletes like Larry Scott as well. But we rarely look back to the early days of the endeavor.

Other than Eugene Sandow, there aren’t that many individuals that people mention in regards to bodybuilding in the early 1900s. But Eugene Sandow wasn’t the only authority in regards to the bodybuilding endeavor. Indian bodybuilders Gosh and Sen Gupta wrote extensively about classic bodybuilding training and posing back in the 1920s and 1930s.

Recently, Doctor Eric Helms made a post on Instagram giving the Gupta brothers their due and the pictures showcasing the Indian bodybuilders are nothing short of impressive. They had great physiques and appeared to be ahead of their time.


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Muscle Control & Barbell Exercise was written by Ghosh and Sen Gupta, physical culturists and trainers in India in 1930. All of the pictures of the lifters shown here are from this book, circa 1930 or earlier. It’s a very cool text outlining how to perform various barbell and dumbbell exercises and how to isolate and flex muscles and pose. Physical culture was not just a western phenomena, and there is a rich culture going far back in India of wrestling, yoga and lifting in more contemporary times. The authors would go on to train some of the champion Indian bodybuilders of the 1950’s. This is a very interesting book, with illustrations and instructions on how to train and you can find it online! I find it so cool to think that this was written in a country I’ve never been to, nearly 90 years ago, and that there were people doing the same thing I live for today as their life passion at that time.

A post shared by Eric Helms, PhD, R&D Officer: (@helms3dmj) on

Traveling through Mumbai and New Delhi, Generation Iron 3 covered one of the only official IFBB Pro bodybuilder in from that country. His name is Varinder Singh Ghuman. One of his mission’s was to put India on the map internationally in the bodybuilding world. Ghuman is known as the vegan bodybuilder, trained and mentored by Sheru Aangrish, who is also the founder and promoter of the massive Sheru Classic bodybuilding events.

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Jacob Ladon
Jacob Ladon is a staff writer and former amateur bodybuilder. He has been passionate about bodybuilding since he was 15 years old and discovered the joys of training in the gym. He reports and comments on all bodybuilding related matters.