Jump to content

Recommended Posts

The Amazing Transformation of Bruce Randall (1931 - 2010)

By Randy Roach

Reprinted from Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors (edited by Strength Oldschool)

Bruce Randall - Before and After - From Fat to Muscular



In 1966, an 18-year-old Terry Strand responded enthusiastically to a Chicago Sun Times advertisement announcing the appearance of a former Mr. Universe at a downtown Montgomery Ward department store. Strand recalled very few people showing up to see and listen to the physique star promote Billard Barbells, a company the muscleman represented. What impressed the young Strand was not just the amazing physique of the 1959 Mr. Universe, Bruce Randall, but the very demeanour and sincere nature of the athlete. Strand reflected:


"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

(Below) Newspaper Advert - Nov 28 - 1965

Bruce Randall - Newspaper Ad - Nov 28 - 1965

Billard Golden Triumph 110 lbs Revolving Barbell Combination Set

Billard Golden Triumph 110 lbs Revolving Barbell Combination Set


Bruce Randall Billard Barbell - Montgomery Ward - 1966

Bruce Randall - Billard Golden Triumph Barbell Training Manual - 1960 - Front Cover

Bruce Randall - Billard Golden Triumph Barbell Company

Billard Golden Triumph Barbell Training Manual - 1960 - Bruce Randall


Bruce Randall - 1955 - Weighing 387 lbs

The (bulked up) photo of Bruce Randall above was taken in the summer of 1955, when he weighed 387 pounds at a height of 6'2" and his chest was measured at 61". Later that summer he reached his top weight, 401 pounds, at which time he radically changed both his exercise routine and his diet. Thirty two weeks later he had lost 218 pounds.

A year later, Strand met up again with Randall at a Chicago Teenage Youth event where both were participating. Strand was fulfilling a commitment to the YMCA, which awarded him a scholarship for being one of the top five outstanding teenage athletes in the region. Bruce Randall was still as impressive in character as Strand remembered him from the year before:


"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

What was so special about this [future] 1959 bodybuilding champion that even Peary Rader would dedicate both his editorial and a feature article to him in the May 1957 issue of Iron Man? Rader set the tone in his editorial titled, "A Lesson from Bruce Randall's Story":


"VERY few, if any, men have come along in the Iron Game who created such a sensation as Bruce Randall. We had followed this young man's rapid rise to fame during the past year or so through friends who knew him and watched his progress. 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. After seeing his remarkable accomplishments we would not want to doubt his ability to lift so much." ~ Peary Rader


Bruce Randall Weighing about 350 lbs

Randall (above ), weighing about 350 pounds, was very strong, particularly in the deadlift. He claimed to have done 770 pounds, well ahead of the best dead lift done up until that time. As can be seen in the photo, he also had unusually well-shaped thighs and calves, which were two of the reasons he was successful as a bodybuilder several years later.

Rader's lesson in this story was firmly on faith and determination in one's God-given abilities to do what he or she sets their mind to. Randall not only willed himself to bring his bodyweight up methodically to over 400 lbs (181.8 kg) for strength purposes, but to then make such a dramatic transformation that he was able to capture the 1959 Mr. Universe crown. In the same May 1957 issue of Iron Man, Rader shared the "Amazing Story of Bruce Randall."

Randall believed his appreciation for the value of proper diet was obtained during a summer job on a merchant vessel. It was during his stint at sea that he attributed the fresh air, hard work, and good eating for taking his bodyweight from 164 lbs (74.55 kg) to 192 lbs (87.27 kg) in 58 days. Back to school and playing football and putting the shot, his weight dropped back to 185 lbs (84.09 kg), where it remained until he graduated.

After entering the Marine Corps and finishing boot camp, he was stationed at the Norfolk Naval Base. It was at this point where Randall stated he was six months past his 21st year in January of 1953 when he was introduced to the finest weight training facility in the Navy, run by Chief Petty Officer Walter Metzler. Randall was still playing around with his shot put and weighed 203 lbs (92.27 kg) but he wanted to get up to 225 lbs (102.3 kg) in order to play football for the base.

Randall stated his initiating strategy for getting bigger and stronger:

Bruce Randall Diet



"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. Also my digestion, assimilation and other body functions stepped up to take care of the increase. (Now I do not necessarily recommend this method for those who wish to gain weight. I merely relate this to illustrate how I gained so rapidly." ~ Bruce Randall

Bulked Up photo of Randall weighing over 400 lbs!

Bruce Randall at 400 lbs Bodyweight

Bruce Randall Weighing Around 225 lbs

The (athletic and muscular) photo above is from the Todd-Mclean Collection, and was given to Ottley Coulter by Randall in the late 1950's, when he weighed approximately 225 pounds. It demonstrates the body Randall had when he won the coveted NABBA Mr. Universe title in 1959. The remarkable physical transformation he was able to make in just a few years, before the arrival of anabolic steroids, is unprecedented in the annals of physical culture. Even today-with anabolic steroids, human Growth Hormone, food supplements, and an improved understanding of nutrition and training techniques-no one has come close to doing what Randall did.

Randall shot from 203 lbs (92.27 kg) up to 225 lbs (102.3 kg) in six weeks. By spring, he was up to 265 lbs (120.5 kg). At that point, Metzler convinced him to drop football and focus on the weight training. Peary Rader liked and respected Randall's attitude and disposition, but was a bit perplexed over his choice of training routines. It was well known that Rader and others were adamant about heavy leg work anchoring a big eating / strength program, but strangely enough, Randall chose to work nothing but arms for those first initial months of training. However, Randall was quite diplomatic about his approach:


"Let me say here and now that I do not believe one can just get fat and become strong. Things such as what foods were used to gain the weight, routines used in training, living habits, etc., all have to be done properly in order to become stronger through increases in bodyweight. In other words if one makes a corresponding increase in the weights used in training as he gains weight the end result is increased strength. This of course is not the only way to get stronger. It just happens to be the method I employed." ~ Bruce Randall

Bruce Randall did make some alterations to his program, but nothing elaborate and still no squats. He added some chest work and the "good morning" exercise to his routine. On the latter movement, he would build up to an unbelievable weight of 685 lbs (311.4 kg). Most people were afraid of doing the good morning exercise with an empty barbell or even a broomstick, let alone dare think of a weight of that enormity. It was truly a Herculean feat of strength.


Heavy Decline Dumbbell Bench Presses

Bruce Randall - Decline Dumbbell Press

Standing Shoulder Presses with a pair of 120 lbs Dumbbells.

Bruce Randall Pressing 120 lbs Dumbbells

Loading up a heavy barbell to perform Good Mornings...

Bruce Randall Loading a heavy barbell to perform Good Mornings

Heavy Cambered Bar Good Mornings...

Bruce Randall - About to perform heavy Good Mornings

Bruce Randall - Favourite Exercise - Heavy Good Mornings

Bruce Randall - Favourite Exercise - Heavy Good Mornings

Bruce Randall - Heavy Training - 475 lbs Good Morning

Bruce Randall - Favourite Exercise - Heavy Good Mornings

Incline Barbell Bench Press...

Bruce Randall - Incline Barbell Bench Press

Randall originally shied away from the squat because of a serious injury three years previously in which he broke his leg in seven places. He would periodically test his strength in this movement and attributed the hard work in the good morning exercise for allowing him to squat 680 lbs (309.1 kg). Not bad for an occasional attempt. He actually once took a shot at a 750 lbs (340.9 kg) good morning, but had to drop the bar because the weights shifted on him.

The only thing rivaling Randall's incredible feats of strength was the quantity of food he consumed. It was his belief that in order to increase his strength, he would have to increase his size, and this meant a significant increase in food. He structured his diet around four meals starting at 6:30 a.m., 11 :30 a.m., 4:30 p.m., and finally 9:30 p.m. The only food he would allow between meals was milk.

Milkman in 1953

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. He was known to virtually fill an entire cafeteria tray with rice and pork and consume it all at a single sitting.

[Editors note: On one occasion, this resulted in a trip to the hospital. What happened is that by the time Randall got to the mess hall most of the food that he liked was gone - except for rice. So he ate a cafeteria tray full of rice which, not having been thoroughly cooked, swelled so much once Randall had eaten it that he had to have his stomach pumped.]

Bruce Randall - Single Bicep Flex

In the photo above, Randall weighs 187 pounds, which is almost as low as he went before upping his food intake and altering his weight-loss training program. He added almost 40 pounds before he won the Mr. Universe contest. The training programs and the diet he used to trim down were at least as radical as the techniques he used to gain from 203 pounds to 342 pounds in just over 14 months. For example, during his weight-loss period he once trained for 81 hours in one week, and in the first 15 days of 1956 he did at least 5,000 sit-ups everyday. He realized that these procedures were potentially dangerous, and did not recommend them.

Randall was discharged from the Marines on March 11, 1954 and tipped the scales at 342 lbs (155.5 kg). This was a gain of 139 lbs (63.18 kg) in just over 14 months. He continued to bring his weight up to 380 lbs (172.7 kg), when he made the following lifts:


  • 365 lbs (165.9 kg) for 2 reps
  • 375 lbs (170.5 kg) for 1 rep


  • 680 lbs (309.1 kg)

Good Morning exercise: (Legs bent, back parallel to floor)

  • 685 lbs (311.4 kg)


  • 730 lbs (331.8 kg) for 2 reps
  • 770 lbs (350 kg) for 1 rep


  • 228 lbs (103.6 kg)

Dumbell Bench Press:

  • Pair of 220 lbs (100 kg) dumbells for 2 reps

Supine Press:

  • 482 lbs (219.1 kg) after 3 seconds pause at chest

Decline Dumbell Press:

  • Pair of 220 lbs (100 kg) dumbells for 1 rep

45 Degree Incline Clean and Press:

  • 380 lbs (172.7 kg) for 2 reps
  • 410 lbs (186.4 kg) for 1 rep

[Ed. Note: This was probably a continental clean of some kind and not a power clean]

Support weight at chest for 1/4 squats:

  • 1320 lbs (600 kg)

1/4 squats:

  • With weight well in excess of 2100 lbs (909.55 kg)


Paul Anderson - Strongest Man in the World

These lifts were rivaling those of the phenomenal 1956 Olympic heavyweight weightlifting gold medalist, Paul Anderson (photo above). Randall stated that he brought his weight up to a final 401 lbs (182.3 kg), but was finding it difficult to focus strictly on his training.

[Ed. Note: Not to mention the expense of his diet.]

To this giant athlete, his quest for strength through sheer size was driven by the power of a willful mind resembling that of The Mighty Atom:


"I am a firm believer in the power of the mind when it comes to lifting (or anything else for that matter). It is only with the constant urging of the mind upon the body to do more and more that one attains the pinnacle. As much as one uses his body in this sport I believe he uses his mind more. Strength, I believe, depends upon one's mental attitude. How many times I have seen a man say, 'I can't lift this,' and consequently he can not. Conversely many men can lift a weight because they think they can. And they do! It all boils down to this. Without the proper frame of mind nothing is possible and with the proper frame of mind nothing is impossible." ~ Bruce Randall


What Goes Up Must Come Down!

Bruce Randall - Before and After Comparison

His "never say never " attitude was about to be put to the test. It was August of 1955 when he hit 401 lbs (182.3 kg) and decided he wanted to "look at life from the other side of the weight picture." Upon his decision to reduce his weight dramatically, he was met by some negative feedback, including some from authorities in the industry. Undaunted, Randall viewed the challenge methodically as he stated:


"Take a sculptor about to create a statue. He takes a big, ungainly piece of rock and with his hammer and chisel he chips away at the rock until he creates the desired effect. Well, I was that big ungainly hulk of rock and the dumbells and barbells were my hammer and chisel. I also had something on my side that the sculptor does not have, Diet." ~ Bruce Randall

Bruce Randall Sculpting his Body

Randall's strategy was basically to reverse all engines. Just as he gradually increased his calories by incrementally adding food to each meal, he did the opposite by slowly reducing the size of each meal until he settled into the following regimen:


  • 2 soft boiled eggs
  • Plain pint (0.45 L) of skim milk
  • Glass of orange juice
  • Apple


  • Salad, dates, nuts


  • Round steak
  • Two vegetables
  • Quart (0.91 L) skim milk with additional powdered milk
  • Gelatine
  • Coffee occasionally


He adopted a system formatted similarly to one Vince Gironda used the next year, but Randall would be much more radical in his exercise regimen. He eliminated the starch and much of the fat from his diet and went very light on the lunch. His eating plan was primarily lean protein and some fruits and vegetables. Once again, Randall matched the dramatic reduction in calories with an equally phenomenal increase in his training. Repetitions jumped from three to five up to 12 to 15. His sets went from three to five and his repertoire of exercises went from six to 20. He claimed his sessions lasted from six to seven hours. He stated that he once trained 27 hours in two days, and 81 hours in one week.

In his New Year's resolution for 1956, he vowed to do 5,000 sit-ups daily for 15 days straight. He feels the 75,000 sit-ups helped him reduce his waist to 33 inches (83.82 cm). Randall also incorporated a lot of running into his routine and by March 20, 1956, he weighed in at 183 lbs (83.18 kg). This was an amazing drop of 218 lbs (99.09 kg) in 32 weeks. Below are Bruce Randall's measurements at his various weights. He stated the measurements listed at 401 lbs (182.3 kg) were actually taken at a lower weight.

Bruce Randall from 401 to 183 lbs Body Measurements

Randall went on to compete in the Mr. America that year and placed thirteenth. His weight had gone from 183 lbs (83.18 kg) to 219 lbs (99.55 kg) for that event. What was amazing is that it was noted in Iron Man that after all the weight manipulations, there were no stretch marks or loose skin visible on his body at the Mr. America show. At six feet two inches tall (187.96 cm), 183 lbs (83.18 kg) was not an appropriate weight for him and most likely represented a very emaciated chronically over-trained state. He probably had little difficulty bringing his competition weight up to 219 lbs (99.55 kg). According to the November, 1957 issue of Muscle Power, he placed sixth a year later at 195 lbs (88.64 kg), 24 lbs (10.9 kg) lighter than the year before. Randall's off-season weight seemed to have settled between 230 lbs (104.5 kg) and 240 lbs (109.1 kg). He competed and won the 1959 NABBA Mr. Universe title at a body weight of 222 lbs (100.9 kg).

1959 Mr Universe - Bruce Randall

Bruce Randall - 1950s

1959 Mr Universe - Bruce Randall

Randall said it was unlikely that he'd bring his weight to such a size again, but would not totally rule the possibility out. His food bill was often over $100 a week and that wasn't cheap back in the mid-1950's. He did state, however, that if he did choose to do so, he felt he could reach 500 lbs (227.3 kg) in 18 months. Bruce Randall finished his revelations to Peary Rader in that May 1957 article with the following advice:


"In conclusion I should like to say that I have found these two rules enormously helpful in any undertaking I have attempted. 1. Ask and ye shall receive. 2. The Lord helps those who help themselves." ~ Bruce Randall

It may have been the muscles of Bruce Randall that first drew the young Chicago native, Terry Strand, to go with such enthusiasm to see the 1950's physique star. However, it was Randall's nature that left so powerful an impression on Strand that 40 years later, Strand had exhausted all Iron Game avenues in order to ascertain the remaining legacy of the idol of his youth. Surely, many would be curious as to just what else the amazing drive of Bruce Randall brought him through the subsequent decades of his life.



Little story connecting bodybuilding legend Harold Poole (1943 - 2014) with Bruce Randall...





"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)


Bruce Randalls's book: "The Barbell Way to Physical Fitness" (1970)

There's a great quote from the book about succeeding with your exercise program:

"TRIUMPH is just a little "TRY" with a little "UMPH"

Bruce Randall - The Barbell Way to Physical Fitness

The following is an excerpt from the book about Bruce Randall:

About Bruce Randall

Bruce Randall is known as one of the World's most uniquely experienced experts in the field of physique development and weight reduction. As a youngster he dreamed the dream of many young boys of how wonderful it would be to become the strongest man in the world. The basic difference between Bruce and the average young boy is that he set out to try and do it! Summers during High School were spent at various types of hard physical work including jobs in lumber camps in Vermont, coal mines in Pennsylvania and shipping out to sea on a Merchant Marine freighter. Bruce's quest for a strong body took many different avenues, however, it was not until he entered the United States Marine Corps that he became aware of the wonders that weight training can accomplish.

It became very apparent that the World's strongest men train with barbells, and in weight lifting as in boxing and wrestling there are various bodyweight divisions from 123 pounds to the heavyweight class. He began training at a bodyweight of 203 lbs. and that combined with the proper diet which was high in protein foods enabled him to build his bodyweight to 401 pounds in 21 months. He competed in weight lifting meets when in the Marine Corps and won the first meet he entered.

Upon discharge Bruce found that in civilian life his food bill was often in excess of $100.00 per week. He frequently drank as many as 12 or more quarts of milk a day and once ate 28 eggs for breakfast. Although at 401 lbs. he was very strong indeed, he found it totally impractical to carry this kind of weight and decided to make a bodyweight reduction. With a different program of weight training and diet he made a bodyweight reduction of 218 lbs. in 32 weeks and weighed in at 183 lbs. Bruce decided to continue on in the physical development field and trained for the Mr. Universe Contest. He won this coveted title in London, England at a bodyweight of 222 lbs.

The above has not been emphasized to demonstrate what Bruce Randall has accomplished in the BARBELL WAY TO PHYSICAL FITNESS but rather to exemplify what weight training can do for YOU!! On the pages of this book his "How to do it" programs are spelled out for you. This method is the true method of the champions. There are no secret formulas, no gimmicks and no short-cuts- only the common sense application of exercise and diet principals which, when followed, will work for you too!

Newspaper Article from the 1970s which details Randall's book above...




"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


Bruce Randall - DP Superstar - Fit For Life



"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

Mr Universe Contest (left to right): Reub Martin - Pierre Vandervondelen - Bruce Randall - Reg Park

Mr Universe Contest - Reub Martin - Pierre Vandervondelen - Bruce Randall - Reg Park



Billard Golden Triumph Barbells

Billard Golden Triumph Barbells

Bruce Randall - 1970

Bruce Randall - 1970

Newspaper Clipping - 28 Oct - 1967

Newspaper Clipping - 28 Oct - 1967



Bruce Randall Lifting a Barbell

Bruce Randall

Newspaper Ad - 27 Nov - 1969

Newspaper Ad - 27 Nov - 1969

Newspaper Ad - April 7 - 1976

Newspaper Ad - April 7 - 1976

Bruce Randall - Newspaper Article - Ex Tubby - Eyes Mr Universe Repeat

Bruce Randall - Newspaper Article - Ex Tubby - Eyes Mr Universe Repeat


Newspaper Article - 21 Feb - 1971

Bruce Randall - Newspaper Article - 21 Feb - 1971


Newspaper Article - 31 March - 1968

Bruce Randall - Newspaper Article - 31 March - 1968


Newspaper Article from 1971 on Bruce Randall

Newspaper Article from 1971 on Bruce Randall



* If anyone has any stories on Bruce Randall, please share them by commenting below.

Link to post
Share on other sites

From one of the articles above, I found the following strength claim extremely interesting...

The article states that in Bruce Randall's prime, he was able to Clean & Jerk 470 lbs!! If true that's impressive and World Record Breaking for that period of time. 



American Weightlifter Ken Patera is recorded in history as being the first American to officially clean & jerk over 500 lbs in competition. 



Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...