In 2007, a UCLA study found that a large majority of females are sexually attracted to muscular men, but did we even need research to confirm that? A quick glance at today’s most sought after male celebrities — Channing Tatum, Zac Efron, Chris Hemsworth, and Joe Manganiello, among others — makes it undeniably clear that most ladies like their men buff. And it’s not just some passing trend; 80s hunks Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell, to name a few, all rocked muscle bods and had the ladies swooning — but today, not so much anymore. As is unfortunately the case for many musclemen, father time slowly but surely transforms the abs into flab.
That doesn’t always have to be the case, however. A 2011 study has found that males can maintain or even add muscle mass as they age. And the following hunks from the 90s certainly prove it by looking even hotter today than they did back then:
10. Joey Lawrence
Joey Lawrence, along with the next three featured 90s hunks, recently went shirtless for a May 2015 Us Weekly feature, and he’s in even better shape today than when he played Joey Russo in the hit TV series Blossom. At that time, he was never lacking in admiration, named by People magazine as among the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” (1994) and much later by TV Guide as one of “TV’s 25 Greatest Teen Idols” (2005). Then in 2009, Lawrence once again hit it big by starring with Melissa Joan Hart in My Fake Fiancé, the most-watched TV-movie of that ratings season. A year later, he reunited with Hart for the sitcom Melissa & Joey, which is currently running on its fourth and last season. All throughout, Lawrence has managed to improve his physique, even starring as a Chippendales dancer in 2012. And today, no one can dare claim that Joey Lawrence, at 39 years of age, has left himself go.
9. Ian Ziering
Most people probably remember Ian Ziering as the curly-haired dude on the iconic Beverly Hills 90210 series — but probably not for much else aside from that. That’s because Ian hasn’t really been involved in anything attention-grabbing since then, except maybe a semifinal stint on Season 4 of Dancing with the Stars, a couple of voiceover contributions, and current participation on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice. However, Ziering has managed to win a couple of awards after the 90210 stint. These include an Audience Choice Award at the 2006 Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival for Man vs. Monday (which he produced, directed, and acted in) and a Best Actor Award at the 2006 Monaco Film Festival for his performance in the indy film Stripped Down. Like Joey Lawrence, the now 51-year-old Ian also performed with Chippendales, his turn lasting for four weeks in 2013 and pushing him to get back in shape after fatherhood had brought him a couple of unwanted pounds.
8. David Chokachi
Last January 28, 2015 photographers spotted former Baywatch star David Chokachi walking around Beverly Hills, which prompted the press to ogle at how he looked “as good as ever.” That’s quite a statement, considering that when he played Cody Madison in the 90s, he had one of the best physiques on the show. In 2013, Chokachi acknowledged his good fortune as he told Blog Talk Radio,
Luckily I’ve stayed fit and healthy and I’ve aged pretty well, so I somewhat still look like my character Cody Madison, and it’s hilarious. I can be anywhere … in the most random places in the world, and people are like, “Oh! You’re Cody Madison!” It’s crazy.
Today, the 47-year-old actor is a married father of one, but still remains active through various water sports activities.
7. Antonio Sabàto, Jr.
These days, Antonio Sabàto, Jr. is a DIY expert on Fix It & Finish It, a nationally syndicated home makeover show. Before that, however, the Italian-born actor was Calvin Klein’s first ever celebrity underwear model, an assignment that paved the way for Antonio to land the role of Jagger Cates on General Hospital. When that portrayal ended in 1995, Sabàto Jr. took advantage of his fitness to win NBC’s Celebrity Circus in 2008, but wasn’t as fortunate when he and his partner finished in 8th place in Season 19 of Dancing with the Stars. Now 43 years of age, Antonio has still managed to maintain an impressive physique, an accomplishment he showed off in a May 2015 photoshoot with Us Weekly.
6. Will Smith
After enjoying success in the late 80s as a member of the hiphop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Will Smith nearly went bankrupt. Fortunately, in 1990, NBC signed him to star in his own sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and the success of the show jumpstarted his acting career and made him a certified heartthrob. At that point, Smith set an extremely ambitious goal for himself: to become the biggest movie star in the world. Amazingly, he actually achieved it. In 2014, Forbes named Will “The Most Bankable Movie Star” after 17 of the 21 films he played the lead in grossed at least $100 million worldwide. And in his most recent film, Focus (2015), a 46-year-old Smith displayed that he’s in the best shape of his life.
5. Nick Carter
At the peak of the Backstreet Boys’ popularity in the 90s, Nick Carter was the member who seemed to be the least comfortable with going shirtless, but that should’ve really been understandable. After all, he was the youngest in the boyband, being only 13 years old when the group formed in 1993. Nevertheless, Nick ended up being the most recognizable of the five after being named among the “50 Most Beautiful People” by People Magazine in 2000 and Cosmogirl magazine’s “Sexiest Man in the World” in 2002. In fact, just last June 9, 2015, a shirtless 35-year-old Carter was flanked by admirers as he attempted to enjoy a Rio de Janeiro beach. Pretty impressive for someone who in 2014 was worried he was getting too fat for his wedding!
4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Maybe it’s a bit unfair to rave about how great Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks now compared to how he did in the 90s. After all, when he made his television debut in 1991, he was just a clumsy ten-year-old. But a multi-season stint on 3rd Rock from the Sun turned the actor into teenage magazine-fodder, a development that Joseph actually resented because he hated being a celebrity at the time. Then in succeeding years, as he played roles in films like 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Mysterious Skin (2004), and 500 Days of Summer (2009), the public watched Gordon-Levitt transform from being an adorable little boy into a sexy adult. And these days, as he promotes his new film The Walk, the 34-year-old actor is looking better than ever.
3. Freddie Prinze, Jr.
In 1995, Freddie Prinze, Jr. was introduced to the public as a lanky teenager when he landed a guest role in the the 90s sitcom Family Matters. But it was really through I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and its sequel (1998) that his status as a teenage heartthrob was cemented. This was further reinforced in 1999, when She’s All That proved that Prinze Jr. could play the lead on the big screen, the movie grossing an impressive $63 million in America. Later in his career, Freddie played Fred Jones in Scooby-Doo (2002) and its sequel (2004), then remained relatively quiet for some time. However, in 2013, a shirtless appearance in Witches of East End revealed that Freddie has kept himself in extremely good shape. In fact today, the 39-year-old actor still runs marathons whenever his schedule permits.
2. Jeremy Jackson
For someone who’s gone through so many ordeals, Jeremy Jackson certainly still looks great. In fact, he’s a lot hunkier today than he was when he played Hobie Buchannon on Baywatch. That was a time when Jeremy was dealing with a severe drug problem, as he himself has admitted. Eventually, that led to him being arrested in a drug raid and being forced to undergo a lengthy period of rehab. Then, in 2008, a sex tape featuring Jackson and adult film star Sky Lopez went up for sale after Jeremy had claimed that he had been blackmailed into surrendering the video to a couple of thugs. And his troubles still haven’t ended. In January of 2015, producers of the U.K.’s Celebrity Big Brother evicted Jeremy from the show after just three days because he had opened a housemate’s gown against her will. Then, just last April, the 34-year-old actor was arrested for stabbing a man, which Jeremy claims he did in self-defense.
1. Ryan Phillippe
In 1992, an 18-year-old Ryan Phillippe began his acting career in ABC’s One Life to Live where he played Billy Douglas, one of the first openly gay teenagers on American daytime television. Even then, Phillippe turned heads with his acting chops and babyface looks, but he attracted even more attention in the 1997 horror smash I Know What You Did Last Summer. There, a workout and shower scene gave Ryan the opportunity to show off his developed torso, which he got to expose even more prominently in the 1999 teenage drama Cruel Intentions. Much later, films like Straight A’s (2013) indicated that Philippe had managed to stay in great shape throughout the years. But quite surprisingly, a recent photograph of a 40-year-old Ryan revealed that he’s currently in the best shape he’s ever been in. Perhaps his serious gym work is in preparation for a role in one of Marvel’s upcoming superhero features, as the actor himself revealed.