By Strength Oldschool
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* The following Information on Bodybuilding Legend, Bruce Randall, comes from various sources such as Randy Roach, author of "Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors", including old Newspaper Clippings found online.
In the 1950's when it was highly unlikely that steroids were around, Bruce Randall (1931 - 2010) worked out with good ol' fashioned barbells and dumbbells, and through a lot of sweat, pain and torturous workouts, he built one heck of an impressive, muscular physique. This led him to win the 1959 NABBA Mr Universe contest at a bodyweight of 222 lbs (100.9 kg).
But would you believe that the same bodybuilder once weighed over 400 lbs!?
On Aug. 2, 1955, at a height of 6ft 2 and at a bodyweight of around 401 lbs (182.3 kg), Randall possessed the following measurements. And no, these are not mistaken measurements for strongman Paul Anderson.
- Arms: 23 1/8"
- Chest: 61 3/4
- Waist: 58 1/2"
- Thighs: 35 1/4"
- Calves: 22 1/8"
* Bruce Randall weighing 400 lbs
During 1954, while weighing 380 lbs (172.7 kg) Randell performed the following strength feats:
- Press: 375 lbs (170.5 kg) - 1 rep
- Squat: 680 lbs (309.1 kg)
- Good Morning: 685 lbs (311.4 kg) - 1 rep
- Deadlift: 770 lbs (350 kg) - 1 rep
- Barbell Curl: 228 lbs (103.6 kg) - Read this article entitled: "Strongest Biceps In History - The Barbell Curl" for more information on which strength athletes from past to present have been the strongest curlers.
- Dumbell Bench Press: 220 lbs (100 kg) Dumbbells - 2 reps
- Supine Press: 482 lbs (219.1 kg) after 3 sec. pause at chest
- Decline Dumbbell Press: 220 lbs (100 kg) Dumbbells - 1 rep
- Front 1/4 squats: 1320 lbs (600 kg)
- Back 1/4 squats: Over 2100 lbs (909.55 kg)
- * 45 Degree Incline Clean and Press: 410 lbs (186.4 kg) - 1 rep
* For this exercise, Randall would have cleaned the barbell first (probably using a continental style not power clean ) before pressing the weight on an Incline position.The photo below shows this type of exercise more clearly. Could also be deemed as an Incline Bench Press.
Believe it or not, experts would have you believe that Squats is a must do exercise for overall muscle and strength gains. However, Randall rarely squatted in his life due to obtaining a serious leg injury. He therefore relied on an exercise called the "Good Morning" which he considered his favourite lift. He also believed that the Good Morning exercise helped keep his Squats strong when he occasionally chose to test his strength on the squat.
Here's Randall performing his heavy Good Mornings. Notice the shape of the bar.
In a newspaper article written around 1975 by Journalist Roger Berry (see below), it was stated that Bruce Randall, in his prime, Clean and Jerked 470 lbs (213 kg)! Not sure how true this strength feat is to be honest. The article also further stated that Randall at that point in time was 44 years old, weighing 230 lbs and sporting a 56" chest with a 30" waist. Arnold Schwarzenegger's biggest chest measurement was supposedly 57", so I don't quite believe those stats.
An interesting and true fact mentioned within the article was that Randall was the Weightlifting Coach for the TV Program entitled, "Superstars". Within the video below, at around the 2 mins 35 sec mark, Bruce Randall made a brief appearance. It was mentioned that he was the umpire for the weightlifting event, where you can see Lou Ferrigno explosively lift close to 300 lbs above his head.
"...His remarkable gains in bodyweight and power were truly unbelievable. When he reached a little over 300 lbs none of us ever thought he would go on to over 400 lbs. How much farther could he have gone? He feels he could have reached at least 500 lbs, and no doubt he could have. He feels that at 500 lbs bodyweight he could have dead lifted 1,000 lbs..." ~ Peary Rader (May, 1957, Iron Man magazine)
* "Peary Rader (1909 - 1991) was an American early bodybuilder, Olympic lifter, writer, and magazine publisher from Nebraska. He was the founding publisher of Iron Man from 1936 to 1986." ~ Wikipedia
Imagine Randall weighing 500 lbs!!?
When Randall trained for serious strength and size, he kept his repetitions low (in the range of 3 to 5 reps) and he focused on few exercises, around six. He fully believed that to maximize his gains, he needed to eat BIG! This meant stretching his stomach by force-feeding himself massive amounts of food (plenty of calories) spread over four main meals a day. In-between each meal, he would drink lot's of milk.
"In order to increase my food intake, each time I sat down to a meal I would take an extra chop, glass of milk, slice of bread, etc. before leaving the table. By doing this at every meal, (and I made it a point never to miss a meal), my stomach seemed to stretch in order to accommodate the increase in food..." ~ Bruce Randall
According to Randy Roach...
"On average, he consumed eight to ten quarts (7.26 to 9.08 L) a day along with 12 to 18 eggs. As mentioned, this was average! He stated it was not uncommon for him to drink two quarts (1.82 L) of milk for breakfast, along with 28 fried eggs and a loaf and a half of bread. He once consumed 19 quarts (17.25 L) of milk in one day, and 171 eggs in total over seven consecutive breakfasts! That's almost five gallons, or close to 15,000 calories and over 600 grams of protein in milk alone..." ~ Randy Roach (Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors)
In 1955, after reaching his heaviest bodyweight, Randall decided to switch to pure bodybuilding and trim down to a much more athletic and muscular size. To do so, he began cutting his meals down, gradually reducing the number of daily calories consumed. His new typical meal plan looked liked this...
- 2 soft boiled eggs
- Plain pint (0.45 L) of skim milk
- Glass of orange juice
- Salad, dates, nuts
- Round steak
- Two vegetables
- Quart (0.91 L) skim milk with additional powdered milk
- Coffee occasionally
His eating habits changed, relying on lean protein, fruits and vegetables. His method of training also changed...Repetitions increased to 12 - 15 reps, he performed more sets per exercise and the number of exercises also increased from six to twenty.
His daily training sessions were noted to last six to seven hours!! As to how his training was broken down exactly, I do not know.
With a high protein diet, long intense training sessions, along with other activities such as running, by March 20, 1956, Randall weighed in at 183 lbs (83.18 kg) with the following measurements.
- Arms: 17 1/4"
- Chest: 49"
- Waist: 29"
- Thighs: 24"
- Calves: 17"
Quite the transformation compared to his much heavier, bulkier, strongman type physique. This whole process had taken Randall 32 weeks to achieve and all with no sagging skin or stretch marks!
More information on Randall's life and training can be found within the book he wrote in 1970 I believe, entitled: "The Barbell Way to Physical Fitness".
This extremely rare book can also be purchased from here. There's a great quote from the book about succeeding with your exercise program: "TRIUMPH is just a little "TRY" with a little "UMPH" ha ha, very clever!
Check out the price of Randall's book below which was promoted in the following advertisement on April 7, 1976.
Here is a short Interview with Bruce Randall from 1969.
The following newspaper article dated 21 Feb. 1971, written by Jerry Tillotson, stated that Randall lived in New York City with his wife Adele and a son named Bruce Jr, who was seven years old at the time.
So the son was born around 1964 / '65. Today he would be about 56 or 57 years old. Hopefully he is alive and well.
The following information from Terry Strand may explain why Randall wasn't as well known as other top Bodybuilders during his era...
"He was as always more of a Jack Lalanne educator than a Joe Weider marketer ... He was never given a lot of coverage because he headed up the Billard Barbell Company for Diversified Products of Canada. So he was looked upon as a competitor by the Hoffman and Weider equipment companies." ~ Terry Strand
Bruce Randall worked as Athletic Director for Billard Barbell Company. Anyone old enough may also remember that if you purchased a barbell set (see photo below) you received a Training Manual.
Bruce Randall also spent considerable time (nine months of the year) travelling the country visiting Fitness Stores, Schools and Colleges giving strength exhibitions and teaching about health and fitness.
An older Bruce Randall...
This question is for the older readers. Looking at the poster below (27 Nov - 1969), did anyone ever listen to Bruce Randall on WLCX Vox Pop?
Let's finish off this article with some quotes by people who had the pleasure of meeting Bruce Randall.
"Bruce was much less interested in hawking Wards' products than in evangelizing the passersby as to the glory of a fit and toned body. As an eighteen-year-old already with a bad case of iron fever, I listened enthralled to his impassioned pitch for health via the barbell lifestyle. I squeezed in a question now and then, asking him about protein, reps, sets ... just the usual inquiries. He could have blown me off, seeing that I was a ragamuffin kid with no lucre for the till. Instead he ended up volunteering his personal home address in case I needed some further illumination." ~ Terry Strand
"I just got off the phone with Harold Poole and he related a story to me about being in the gym in Indianapolis at age 16 when a friend of the owner's named Bruce Randall came in for a workout. Harold said that Randall had come down from a weight of over 400 pounds to something around 220 to win the 1959 NABBA Universe. An amazed teenage Harold watched Randall do single arm dumbbell curls with 100 pound dumbbells . . . And then, as a treat for Harold and his school chum, Randall hit some poses for them. Must have left quite an impression because Harold talked about it with the same awe and excitement of someone describing an event that took place just yesterday. Harold said that his meeting with Bruce, and watching his training, was a pivotal moment for him in his youth. Harold was already competing in the AAU at that point, but he says that he witnessed a whole new level of training intensity that day at the gym with Randall and tried to incorporate it into his own workouts immediately and thereafter." ~ Joel Brandwein (RIP)
"I ran into Bruce back in 1972 at Macy's in San Francisco. He was doing a 'product demo' for the company he was promoting, believe it was Diversified Products (DP) weights and benches. I was walking thru, saw the posters advertising the 1pm start time and made sure I got back for it. Wasn't much interest as I was one of 1/2 a dozen people there and as soon as the others realized there was no 'lose weight fast' program being offered the others left. So Bruce and I talked for about 45 minutes about his career, powerlifting & bodybuilding in general, etc. Very nice man. I'd guess he weighed in the neighborhood of 250 solid pounds." ~ Bill Keyes
"I met Bruce back around 1983. He was appearing at a local Department store endorsing Diversified Products. The place wasn't very busy, and I spent the afternoon talking with him. One of the items he displayed was a pair of his "fat man" pants from when he weighed over 400. He weighed well over two hundred at that time, and appeared to be in good shape. His deltoids especially looked impressive. He also demonstrated remarkable flexibility for a man in his fifties. He was very friendly and we talked for a couple of hours about the good old days, and what it was like to compete against Reg Park when Park was in his prime. I have very fond memories of that day and wish Bruce well where ever he is today." ~ Zster
I found the following memorial link for Bruce Randall and unfortunately his wife too (Adele Nicolai Randall), who passed away the previous year (2009). I didn't realise Adele was seven years older than Bruce. I also just discovered Adele was a Miss former model in YWCA Fitness (I assume the memorial site meant YMCA?)
If anyone wishes to share information on Bruce Randall regarding his training, diet, life, family etc please use the link below. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has met Randall at one point or who is in contact with his son.
My condolences to all the family and close friends of Bruce and Adele Randall. Bruce will forever be an inspiration to fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders across the world. RIP Bruce & Adele Randall.
For more in-depth information on the bodybuilding legend, Bruce Randall, check out Randy Roach's book, "Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors".
If you love Vintage Bodybuilding Magazines like me and appreciate all the old school bodybuilders from the past, be sure to check out my Vintage Muscle Magazines playlist section on Youtube!
All the best,