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1954 Interview with Strongman Doug Hepburn

Strength Oldschool

Strongman Doug Hepburn

Step into my time machine and come back with me to September, 1954 — and let’s talk with Doug Hepburn. Here’s part of an actual interview with the Canadian Powerhouse — and remember, when you’re talking with Hepburn you’re talking with the Heavyweight Champion of the World in Olympic Weightlifting – the world record holder in the military press – the first man in history to bench press 500 pounds – the British Empire Games Weightlifting Champion and one of the most massive and powerful men in the history of the world:


Q. How about a few vital statistics, Doug?

A. I’m 27 years old, weigh 296 pounds, chest 57 1/2 normal, thigh 32 1/2, arm 22 (on anybody’s tape) forearm 15 3/4 straight

Big Doug Hepburn

Q. What is your present diet?

A. I adhere to no set schedule. … I eat when I feel like it.

Q. Who is the best lifter?

A. Pound for pound Tommy Kono is the best lifter. A number of Russian lifters in the lighter divisions are very outstanding. The most efficient lifter, I think, is Norbert Schemansky … I have great respect for men lifting such enormous weights at such a bodyweight. Marvin Eder is a very strong man, especially in the pressing department, and should do well in the three lifts if he can get amateur standing.

Q. Can you give some hints to would-be strongmen?

A. You don’t have to first become a bodybuilder to be a weightlifter … three reps in the various exercises are all you need to build size and strength. Low reps give a maximum improvement in strength and size of muscle and a minimum fatigue. You don’t need a “pumped up” feeling to get big muscles. I tried high reps for my arms when i wanted to make them larger, and I found they did nothing for my arm size. in any exercise I like doing 3 reps and no more than 5 reps. Sometimes I do one rep for good results. … I work out when I feel like it and do as many sets as my energy will allow.

(Note by the interviewer, Ray Beck: My personal observation of Doug is that he does only one or two exercises a day when training for strength and these exercises are: the full squat, supine press and military press. He is now working very hard on dead hang pull-ups [ clean grip high pulls from the hang ] in sets of two reps. This has brought his clean up to 400 pounds, which he did while training. )

Doug Hepburn Pulls

Doug then went on to say, “I believe the king of all exercises is the bench press (for the triceps, lats,and the shoulder girdle) for pressing power (referring to regular grip bench preses) … however, I did get most of my pressing power from handstand presses [handstand push-ups] at which I did fifteen reps at a bodyweight of 245 pounds.

Doug Hepburn Bench Press

Doug Hepburn - Handstand Pushup

Q. What hours do you sleep?

A. I average ten hours sleep a day. Weightlifting is very hard on the nervous system, so therefore, sleep and rest is needed for the muscles and the nerves.”

* (From an interview by Ray Beck, published in the Aug-Sept 1954 issue of IronMan.)

* Doug Hepburn published a book about his own life many years ago and it's a fantastic read. Highly recommended. It was entitled...Strongman: The Doug Hepburn Story by Tom Thurston.

Strongman - The Doug Hepburn Story by Tom Thurston

Check it out here.

Keep training hard and thanks for reading and supporting Strength Oldschool.


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