Ellen van Maris flexing her biceps for the photo

Ellen van Maris

Professional Bodybuilder

Born in 1957, Ellen van Maris is an ex-professional female bodybuilder from the Netherlands. She began competing in 1982, taking part in local and national bodybuilding shows.

From there, she fought her way up to win the 1984 Dutch National Bodybuilding Championships. Not long after, she earned her Pro Card, entering the elite IFBB circuit.

Ellen’s career peaked in 1987, when she placed 2nd at Ms. Olympia. Having established herself as one of the top female bodybuilding figures from the 1980s, she finally closed the curtains on her career in 1989.

This is her story:

Ellen van Maris standing on a bench training with a barbell in a gym

Athlete Statistics

Full Name: Ellen van Maris
Year of BirthNationalityProfessionEra
1957DutchProfessional Bodybuilder1980
Year of Birth1957
ProfessionProfessional Bodybuilder

Ellen van Maris training with a barbell in a gym


Bodybuilding Shows

  • 1982
    • Randstad Championships – 3rd place
    • Grand Prix, Netherlands – 5th place
    • Dutch Championships – 2nd place
    • European Grand Prix – 2nd place


    • Grand Prix, Brussels – 3rd place
    • Grand Prix, Netherlands – 1st place
    • European Championships – 4th place


    • European Championships – 3rd place
    • Dutch Nationals – 1st place
    • Women’s World Amateurs – 1st (LW) place
    • IFBB Ms. Olympia – 9th place


    • IFBB Ms. Olympia – 7th place


    • IFBB Ms. Olympia – 3rd place


    • IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd place


    • IFBB Ms. Olympia – 5th place


    • IFBB Ms. Olympia – 5th place

Ellen van Maris doing a side chest pose on the stage


From Local Shows to Ms. Olympia

Originally from Amstelveen, Ellen van Maris commenced her bodybuilding career in 1982. She spent the next two years competing at local and national contests – gradually improving her results.

Then, in 1984, Ellen took part in the Dutch National Championships, her toughest challenge yet. Ultimately, she won the show and took home the National Champion title.

Going from strength to strength, Ellen claimed the Women’s World Amateur Champion title that same year – earning the Pro Card in the process. Having entered the IFBB circuit, she began competing at the world’s biggest bodybuilding events, including Ms. Olympia.

For the following six years, between 1984 and 1989, Ellen competed in six straight Ms. Olympias. Displaying incredible conditioning and muscularity, Ellen set a benchmark for many aspiring female bodybuilders at that time. Although she missed out on claiming the ultimate prize, Ellen came very close in 1987 when she placed second to Cory Everson.

Ellen van Maris flexing her muscles in a photo shoot

Retirement and Later Awards

Ellen’s quest to win Ms. Olympia came to a grinding halt in 1989. It was at this point she decided to retire from competitive bodybuilding.

While she never claimed the bodybuilding’s biggest prize, she’s still considered one of the top female athletes of that era. This is backed up by the fact that Ellen was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame in 2004 – an award dedicated to only the most outstanding bodybuilders.

Ellen van Maris during her early bodybuilding days flexing her biceps on the stage

Ellen van Maris during her early bodybuilding days.


Ellen’s approach to training was all about building muscle, as well as looking aesthetic. In her words; “Bodybuilding is about building muscle and building your physique to its maximum capability.”

Her training program consisted of all kinds of exercises – from high-intensity cardio, compound movements, to mobility drills.

Ellen liked to combine these types of training in order to achieve a physique that was not only ripped, but also functional.

Ellen van Maris doing a back double biceps flex on the bodybuilding stage


When it came to dieting, Ellen van Maris followed her own specific meal plan. She didn’t have ‘bulking’ or ‘cutting’ phases like most bodybuilders, but instead, her goal was to stay lean all year round.

To achieve this, Ellen ate very strictly. There were no sweets or sugars in her diet. She also restricted her sodium intake, especially from processed foods such as burgers and pizzas.

Her diet consisted of plenty of green vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, lean poultry meat, and complex carbs. Ellen also ate some good fats in the form of organic egg yolks, nuts and seeds, and olive oil.

Ellen van Maris posing in a photo shoot looking muscular and ripped

Idols and Influences

While she had her own influences in bodybuilding, Ellen was also a huge inspiration for many up and coming female athletes of her era.

With her strong, muscular, and conditioned physique, she’d set a benchmark for a large number of women who wanted to emulate her success.

Ellen van Maris performing dumbbell rows

Ellen van Maris posing for a photo in a bikini looking aesthetic

What we can learn from Ellen van Maris

Throughout her career, Ellen van Maris had won numerous accolades. Including the National Dutch Bodybuilding Championships, Grand Prix Netherlands, and Women’s World Bodybuilding Championships.

While she never claimed the Ms. Olympia title, she came very close in 1987 after finishing as a runner-up. The final stamp on her impressive career came in 2004 when she was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame.

If there’s something to learn from Ellen, it’s that hard work pays off. You might not know how long the journey will last, but as long as you stay patient and put in the work, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.

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