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  1. Little has been written on the amazing Sergio Oliva in recent years. So when the opportunity presented itself to have a seminar at the Iron Man's Gym conducted by the former Mr. Olympia and Mr. Olympus [that'd be Dan Lurie's contest before the ambitions of the Weider Empire overflowed and drowned pretty near everything else], the only man to hold both titles, I jumped at the chance. Let it be known at this point, I am a Sergio fan and have known Sergio for 16 years and have yet to see anyone - in my opinion - equal him in his prime. I first saw Sergio as a fellow competitor in the Mr. Mid-States contest in Whiting, Indiana in 1964 and all the other contestants might as well have stayed at home. He stole the show! He has a rare combination of having a large bone structure yet extremely small hips and a waist with an incredible flair at the joints that puts him in a class by himself. Sergio came into the Iron Man's Gym in the strong arms of the law. Nope, he wasn't under arrest but escorted by Oceanside Detective C.C. Sanders and the guns C.C. was carrying were 19-inches hanging from his shoulders. C.C. is a respected competitive bodybuilder as well as a top promoter and was co-sponsor of the Iron Man Muscle Classic at which Sergio would guest pose after the seminar. To accommodate all the Sergio fans three seminars were conducted over two days so the following info is compiled from all three seminars. Let's pull up a bench and get the straight scoop from the man they call The Myth. Take it away Sergio! Sergio: Well, I'm going to tell you the story of my life, Sergio Oliva! Don't be afraid. Just ask me anything you want to know. Q: Can you tell us about your early days in powerlifting? Sergio: I never did that! I was in Olympic lifting. I never was a big guy to start with but I was always real powerful. I competed in the 148, 165, and 181 pound classes. This was the way I got out of my country of Cuba and came to the United States in Miami. I started to bodybuild there and I was more powerful from the weightlifting. Three months later I was in the Mr. Florida contest. From there three months later I was beating guys that had been training five and 10 years! So I started training real good and training for the big contests. It was funny! When I was in the A.A.U. I was competing in Olympic lifting and physique contests at the same time. So this is the way it started. Q: How old were you when you started? Sergio: I started in bodybuilding at what I consider a late age. I was 22 at the time. To me the right age to start is around 16. I started late but I made it. I was working hard! I wanted to be the top one and I made it! What really makes me happy is that nobody gave me those titles. I was the winner! Lot of those guys I don't know but those days you had to win it. There were no deals! I was working real hard in a factory. It was a foundry and when it was 85 degrees outside it was almost 500 degrees inside! I saw guys twice my size pass out on a regular basis because of the heat. I worked there 12- and 14-hour days and from there I'd go to the gym and work out for three or four hours. Even in those days when I was the top one I didn't make a penny from it. I was the best but I didn't make a penny from it. Photo above: Sergio Oliva with Roy Velasco I'm a phony bodybuilder! I eat anything! Now I know my physique and my potential. I don't say you can do it. For you should know yourself and know your limits! I'm the kind of guy that does anything he wants and I don't want you to tell me what to do. How can you tell me what to do when I know my own body better than you do! I drink Coca Cola. I eat peas and beans and rice, chili, hot dogs! I don't care! I eat anything! Now I don't say I eat like that all the time. When I prepare for a contest I drop all the garbage and eat good but I'm not going to tell you that I spend all of my life eating vitamins and protein because that's bullshit! If I tell you that and one day you see me in a Pancake House eating pancakes you're going to wonder what's going on. You're the only one that's going to find out the right way for yourself. Nobody has to tell you! They used to tell me no way you can eat like you do and improve. You can ask anyone that was against me. How about that crazy Cuban! They'll say he eats any kind of junk! They know! I don't care. This is me! I know what I can do. I know my limits. Q: What's your opinion on the use of steroids? Sergio: I'll tell you what it is. When I started in this game we didn't use any of that stuff! Nothing! I didn't even know what it was then. Now all the top guys are using it. I see guys come in the gym and only work out for three months and start using steroids. It's wrong! In my personal opinion it's wrong! How can you know how much development you can get on your own without the drugs? You should see the maximum development you can get without it. Maybe some day you'll get to the point where you're going to get into a big contest and have a decision to make about taking the drugs. Some people really don't need it! There's a lot of ways to take it. You can take it through a doctor where you have a thorough checkup and the doctor will show you exactly how to use it and and how much, or you can go out and take it on your own. I don't believe anybody that's only been in the bodybuilding game for one or two years should use it! Q: Have you used it? Sergio: Oh yeah! But I don't believe in the stuff. I only prepared for this show for seven weeks. I was doing squats and pulled the ligaments in my leg. So I needed something to prepare myself quick. However, I know my limit. But I've been in this game a lot of years. You get in the gym and one year later you're using the stuff. You don't know your potential this way! You might find you can have the same development without it. Q: What do you believe in sets and reps? Say, like an arm routine? Sergio: My routine! It all depends! If I'm trying to gain weight I do less sets and increase the weight and eat anything! Now as a show gets closer I quit eating the garbage, I drop the heavy weight and train light. I increase the reps because I'm trying to burn! Say for instance I'm doing 12 sets when I'm trying to gain weight. Maybe I keep the 12 sets but not heavy anymore. I used light weights and when I used to do 10 reps; maybe I did 30 or 40 or 50 reps! So I work two different ways. Do you follow what I'm saying? I know some guys can go to the gym and do 3 sets and get pumped like hell. All right? Now this guy knows what he has to do. He knows his limits. He doesn't need to do 10 or 20 sets. It's just like vitamins; you only need to take so many. But people think the more you take the bigger you get. Your body can only handle so much protein and vitamins at one time. I know some guys that 3 sets is all they need. For some guys 3 sets is just a warmup. They have do do a lot of sets to get the same benefit. The sets and reps, training heavy or light all depends upon the individual and how he responds to it. It doesn't make any difference how Mr. Magoo trains! You might never get to look like him. Find out what works for you! It doesn't make any difference if someone else has 23-inch arms. Maybe you can kill yourself for years and never get to look like him with his routine. You follow what I'm saying? Do what works for you! Q: Once you feel the pump is this the point to stop? Sergio: No. Say you do a heavy curl and get a tremendous pump. Then you drop the heavy curls and do some preacher curls and other movements to keep that pump going. Q: Are you worried about getting robbed wearing that big gold medallion? Sergio: (A lot of LAUGHTER!) I got that medallion when gold was seven dollars an ounce. Now what's it worth? Maybe $500 an ounce? Hey, there's a lot of crazy dudes out there. If one pulls a gun and puts it to my chest and says give me that chain, he can have it! I'm no Superman! I can't fight bullets! However, once he puts the gun out of my view he's dead! If he lets me talk he's not going to shoot me! I'm not worried about it. Q: What are your future plans? Sergio: I would like to keep on competing because I don't consider myself down yet. Q: What was your maximum bench press? Sergio: I wasn't too strong in the bench press. The most I ever did was 525. For a bodybuilder that's a lot but for a powerlifter it's nothing. I can do 20 reps with 400. Q: Is it true that you bench pressed 350 x 50? Sergio: Yeah, I used to take 315 and do 40-45 reps. I bench press a little different than maybe you guys bench press. I don't lock each rep. I do it at a fast pace of short reps. I lock it every once in a while to release the pressure in my shoulders and chest and then keep going again. Now everybody in Europe benches like that. Somebody asked me why I didn't lock every rep and I said - what for? They said they lock every rep. I said how big is your chest, 32? I wasn't trying to put the guy down. I was trying to explain to him that it worked FOR ME and that's what counts! This is the way I grow so why should I change it? I create my own style of exercise that works for me! I don't know if this made a difference in my development. Maybe I would look the same training in a different way. I don't know! This is the way I'm going to keep training! Q: Do you do anything special to keep such an incredibly small waistline? Sergio: My waistline? I'm going to tell you the truth. This is my structure and always the way I was. Even when I was little I had a V-shape. When I prepare for a show I'll do situps and leg raises but maybe 3 or 4 sets but not a lot. These pants I'm wearing are a size 28 waist. I respond immediately to situps and leg raises and my waist gets even smaller. Q: When you train for a contest do you use the tape and scale a lot or do you go by the mirror? Sergio: I don't go by either. I judge how my clothes fit me. You can ask my friends, I don't look in the mirror. I never pose in the gym. I pose at home in private. Q: You've been all over the world putting on seminars and exhibitions. Can you give us some idea of where the most enthusiasm is? Sergio: There's a lot of enthusiasm all over the world for bodybuilding. Everybody is looking for more knowledge to make improvements. Q: Besides yourself, who do you think the top bodybuilder is in the world today? Sergio: To me they're all tops! I said this years back and I say it now. To me they're all tops. It's a lot of sacrifice. I know what it means to be a bodybuilder. I'm talking about the bodybuilders who have a regular job and then go to the gym after work. To go to work and then go into the gym takes a lot of determination. Q: Do you work a split routine? Sergio: Yes. Monday I work my chest, back and shoulders. Tuesday I work shoulders again but a different section and then I work my arms. Wednesday I work my legs. Thursday I do the same as Monday. Friday the Tuesday routine and Saturday the same routine as Wednesday. Monday I do benches and chin-ups. I develop my pectorals and lats at the same time. I do a lot of stuff. Monday is a long routine for me. I do flyes and dips. Dips are one of my favorites. I used to do a lot of dips. The dips are excellent for the whole upper body. I do a lot of sets in the bench press. I start with 135 and keep adding weight until I'm finally doing singles. Then I work back down on the weight. On declines I do 3 or 4 sets. 2 or 3 sets of inclines, 3 sets of flyes. Q: Do you do supersets? Sergio: I do what I call a combination - bench presses with chins. I go at a fast pace. If I sit down and get a drink and rest up, I don't feel like doing anything. So I take a shower and go home. So I go at a fast pace. For arms I do heavy curls, preacher curls, seated dumbbell curls. Q: Do you train 4 days a week or 6? Sergio: It depends how close I am to a show. If a show is close I train 6 days. Q: What kind of chin-ups do you do? Sergio: I do wide grips on a V-bar. I do the front, behind the neck and also chin with a close grip. I do lots of reps. Many people hate doing chin-ups but it is excellent for the lats and a V-shape. It's like doing squats. Everybody hates squats. Everybody likes to bench press and build a big upper body but if you go to the beach you have to keep your pants on. When you go swimming you have to swim with your pants on! You can't take your pants off because your legs look like spaghetti. It's better to train everything because then you'll grow in proportion. For a contest you're going to have to train every body part. The strongest parts of your body are your legs and back. To me the chin-ups are a must and a tremendous exercise for the back. Q: What do you do for your thighs? Sergio: If you do squats and thigh extensions for the front of the thighs and leg curls for the leg biceps you have a well-rounded routine. Leg presses and hack squats are good too. Q: Do you do your reps to failure or do you pick a certain number and do them? Sergio: It depends. I base my whole workout on how I feel that day. For example, if I put 300 on the bar Monday and do 45 reps on the bench press it doesn't mean I'm going to do the same thing on Thursday. The weather changes, a problem on the job, family problems; it all affects your mind. If the mind gets weak you're going to be weak. Q: Do you believe in a workout partner? Sergio: Yes I do. I don't like to work out by myself for many reasons. Try to find someone better than you because then you work your ass off to beat him. Look for somebody that's strong and you'll really push each other. If you're looking for tremendous development find somebody better than you and you're going to be motivated. This way you'll work to your maximum. Also it's very dangerous to work out by yourself. I had a lot of problems before. I worked to my maximum bench press and got stuck. The bar ended up on my chest and there was nobody in the gym so I had to roll the bar off me and it really scared me. That was the end of me training by myself. Also with a training partner there's days you don't feel too good but your partner's motivated and pushes you. Then you end up having a good workout that you wouldn't have had. For a partner to be of benefit it has to be the same routine for both of you no matter what weight you're handling the weight should be the same. Q: What do you do for the shoulders? Sergio: A lot of exercises for the shoulders. For tremendous shoulder development do presses behind the neck. Then do lateral raises to the front, side, and back and you'll get all the shoulder development you want. Whatever exercise you do, if you can get a good 12 reps you should use more weight. Q: What about your biceps routine? Sergio: Like I said before, curls, preacher curls, dumbbell curls. It's the way I do it, the FORM that counts. We can both do the same exercise and get different results. IT'S ALL INDIVIDUAL! Calves and forearms are hard to develop. If you don't have some natural development it's hard to get them to grow. I don't even work forearms and they're thick all over. In my opinion the easy muscles to develop are the chest and biceps. I find the calves and forearms are the hardest to get to grow. Q: What would you suggest for the forearms? Sergio: Reverse curls for 10 to 12 reps each set. Q: How do you do your squats? Sergio: I use a 4x4 with my heels elevated. I like it better that way and get better development than by doing them flat-footed. I do a full squat and come down all the way. I have my feet at a 45-degree angle in all my squats. I use my legs and nothing else when I squat. Q: Do you plan on competing again? Sergio: Oh yeah, as long as I have about four to five months notice. Sure I'll kill myself for the money and contest as long as I know it will be fair. Q: Any more advice about the steroids? Sergio: Like I said before, I personally don't recommend that you use them. I see too many beginners come into the gym and then six months later want to use all the garbage! It's no good for him! A couple of years later it's still no good for you! How do you really know what your potential is without it! The way for you is to go without it! Then if you're a top man some day and you feel by using it it will give you an increase and you want to try it, then try it. But do it through a doctor and not on your own. Q: What kind of diet do you go on? Sergio: I diet for a contest but not a strict diet. I know my metabolism and the type of skin I have. So I know how much time I need to cut up. I don't need to go for months and months. The most I stay on a diet is for two to three weeks. I cannot go for more than that. Between contests I eat anything! You name it! Rice, beans, chocolate shakes, Coca Cola. Why not? I don't care! But I balance the meals. Like last night I had a pizza so tonight I'll have a steak and salad. That's the trick! I don't eat junk every day! Then when I come down for a contest or show I come down slowly. I don't try to rush it. Q: What do you recommend for intermediate and beginning bodybuilders as far as diet is concerned? Sergio: You find some beginners that look better than some guys that have been training for years. So what I'm saying is GET TO KNOW YOUR OWN METABOLISM. We all have a different metabolism. If you have a slow metabolism you have to watch what you eat. Everything you eat you gain very rapidly. If you have a fast metabolism you can eat anything! I personally have a fast metabolism. I have no problem. I know my metabolism, I know whatever I eat today isn't going to stay in me to until tomorrow. I'm going to go in the gym and burn it up. If you have a slow metabolism then watch what you eat! As far as recommending a diet I leave it to the individual to LEARN HIS OWN BODY. We're all different. I can tell you to eat this and eat that but maybe your metabolism is way different than mine and it wouldn't work for you. Q: Do you eat anything special before a workout? Sergio: No, I don't. I eat whatever I feel like eating but I don't eat two hours before I train. I have my breakfast like anybody and my lunch like anybody. Then I go work out. After I work out I have my supper. Q: What's the latest you have supper? Sergio: I don't have a set time. Every day it's different. Now it's better for you to have a set time. Sometimes I come into the gym at different hours because of my work, so I have to eat at different times. This doesn't affect me. A different person might be affected by it. I have a friend who has to have all his meals at the same time. Q: Can you recommend a routine for a beginner or intermediate who wants size? Sergio: You gain size by the amount of food you eat, the amount of protein and calories you take in every day and by lifting heavy. You have to work heavy and do less sets than you do when you're trying to cut up. Say for instance you bench press with 200 pounds and you're doing 15 to 20 reps. You're not going to gain much size. Add about 20 or 30 pounds and do about 8 to 10 reps. Now you're working for size. Keep adding weight. This is the way you'll gain your size. Also, whatever you can eat, you eat! Train four or five times a week and eat anything but check your metabolism to see if you're burning it up. If you have a very slow metabolism, you have to work on the sets and reps like crazy! While someone else does three sets you might have to do at least 10 sets. There's no secret as to weight or so many sets and reps. Don't let the magazines and books fool you with that kind of garbage! It's bullshit! There's no secrets!!! Look at all the champs there are! Now find me two physiques in all the world that train the same way exactly! No two even have the same physique! If there is a secret and everybody does the same routine we should all develop the same way but for some reason we don't. Right! It means do your own thing! You can try somebody else's routine but it doesn't mean it will work for you. Eventually you'll find routines that work for you. Not the ones I say! I say that one because it's good for me but it doesn't mean it will be good for you. You know what I mean? This is the one you have to work on! A titleholder tells you a routine that works for him but he doesn't know if it's going to work for you. NOBODY KNOWS YOURSELF BETTER THAN YOU!!! Q: So when you're working for size you should pretty well eat what you want? Sergio: As long as you balance your meals. Again, base it on your own body. You might gain and gain but get fat. This is not what you want. So you have to see what your metabolism can handle. You want to gain solid muscle size. Don't waste your time by adding a lot of fat. That's not what you want. If you gain 40 pounds of fat and start cutting up you have to drop the 40 pounds and you'll be right back where you started from. You follow? You can't turn fat into muscle. Bruce Randall went from over 400 and dropped down to under 200 pounds and won the Mr. Universe. Q: I train at a gym in Riverside where there are no advanced bodybuilders. My training partner and I ave two different theories on building bulk. I say stay with the basic exercises - squats, rows, curls, cleans and so on. He's more into the exotic exercises - hack squats on a machine, this type of thing. What do you say? Sergio: Here's the trick and the mistake we all make from the beginning. I did it and they all did. If you work only one area of a muscle, say the triceps, you're only working one part of the muscle. This is a mistake! You have to hit the muscle on three different exercises to hit all the sections. Q: What are some of the exercises you would do for the triceps for example? Sergio: For example, I do lying triceps extensions with a cable. Then I do seated triceps extensions with a barbell. Then I do a lying French curl with barbell. So I've worked the triceps from all angles. There's plenty of exercises to do. You have to find out the ones that work for you. The mistake is to say to do 10 sets of one exercise for a muscle because you're not working all the parts of the muscle. Q: Have you worked with any women in bodybuilding? Sergio: I don't like the ladies with muscles. The muscles are for the men. That's my personal opinion. Okay? I like the women feminine! I dig any lady that's feminine. There's plenty of exercises the women can do to stay trim and in good shape without getting muscular. That's not for the women! Once you get muscular you lose the feminine look! Q: Didn't you work in Florida for a while for Arthur Jones? Can you tell us a little about him? Sergio: He has some good machines but if you take somebody like me who already has the body and put him through the machines you're not going to be able to tell how great the machine really is. The only way you're going to be able to prove how good the machine is would be to put a beginner on it and see what kind of progress he makes with it. If you put a top bodybuilder on it how can you prove how good it is? I'm already developed from the free weights so who can say what the machines are doing? It's really hard to tell! Q: Don't you believe everybody develops differently? Sergio: Definitely. Everybody is going to respond differently to the weights even on the same routine. Everybody has a different metabolism. Q: What do you think about powdered protein? Sergio: Yes, you should take protein. If you're training hard you're burning a lot of energy and with the food itself you might not get it all back. So you need the extra supple such as the supplements. Any supplement that has all the amino acids is good. It doesn't make any difference if Mr. McGoo made it. As long as it has all the amino acids in it, it's good. Q: If somebody squats, do you think full squats are the best or half squats? Sergio: Full squats. I do squats until I sit on my calves. I use a 4 x 4 piece of wood under my heels. You have to do full squats for complete leg development. I used to squat between 650 and 750. That's a lot for bodybuilding but for a powerlifter it's nothing. I have a friend in Chicago that's a powerlifter. He weighs 165 and does over 700 in the squat. I'm not a powerlifter. That's not my game. My game is bodybuilding. Q: How much do you weigh right now? Sergio: Now? 210 at 5'9". I feel good. I'm light. I hurt my knee so I haven't done any heavy squats lately. I need another 15 to 20 pounds of bodyweight. If you want to look good you have to suffer like in anything. Q: I heard that your forearms were so big that you couldn't flex your biceps all the way. Is that true? Sergio: Yes, at one time my forearms were well over 17 inches and they were so thick up high that when I flexed the forearms would hit the biceps. Q: What's your waist right now? Sergio: 28 inches. I always have a 28. These pants are a 28. Q: How do you ever get pants to fit you? Sergio: It's easy . . . tailor made! My legs were always bigger than my waist. I was the only one to have a smaller waist than thigh. My thighs measured 29 inches. It's my structure. Even when I was skinny I had the V-taper to my body. This was just the way I was even before I touched a weight. This was a disadvantage for me when I was an Olympic lifter. I was never good at the Press. I was good at the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk but not the Press. For the Press you need a big waist. I always had a problem with my back on the Press. Q: How do you know when you're over-training? Sergio: When you hit a sticking point on the weights and can't go beyond it for a couple of weeks. Q: If you work your back today and then work your arms the following day aren't you still using the same muscles? Sergio: For every exercise you do you're using the arms but not directly. Don't pay attention to the routines in the magazines. They'll drive you crazy! Keep in mind you're an individual and what works for you doesn't always work for someone else. Q: I read an article that said once you work up to your maximum weight set you shouldn't do any more pumping sets. Do you agree with that? Sergio: I don't know about that! My theory is a little different. I work on the bench for example. I start off with 135. I warm up and keep adding 20 pounds each set and do as many reps as I can do and hit my maximum weight for what I can do that workout. Then I drop 20 pounds each set and work back down the same way. I do a lot of sets on the bench. It's up to you to try both ways and see which way works best for you. Q: I've read where you can cut your forearm training in half by every time you grip the bar in the other exercises to grip the bar real hard. Is this true? Sergio: It's true but you still have to do forearm work because it's the only thing that will give you maximum development for the forearms. Q: How long have you been a competitive bodybuilder? Sergio: I started bodybuilding back in 1964. I made a lot of progress fast because I trained very hard and had been Olympic lifting and had the strength. Most people thought I'd been training for 10 years after I'd been training for two. I had a lot of potential for bodybuilding with my frame and Olympic background. Q: What was the biggest you had your chest? Sergio: When I went to Germany to compete in '72 my chest was over 58 inches and I was about 22-3/4 on the arms. Q: How many sets do you usually do per upper body part? Sergio: I cannot tell you exactly but I do a lot of sets. Some exercises I do 5 sets, some 2 sets, some 3 sets. It really varies. Put it this way: On Monday I work chest, back and shoulders only. I do a lot of benches but only 3 sets of declines and 3 sets of inclines because I already worked the chest hard with benches. Then I do chin-ups, I do pullovers, I do dips, I do flyes, I do crushes but I only do 3 sets of all of these. The only thing I do a lot of sets on is the bench. For arms I do the same thing. I do about 4 or 5 sets of heavy curls. I then do 3 sets of a lot of other movements, preacher curls, dumbbell curls, French presses. I do a lot of different exercises but usually only 3 sets. Q: What kind of work did you do in Cuba? Sergio: Construction. When I came here I was in meat packing and was working 12 to 14 hours a day. When I finished I'd go to the gym. My boss didn't believe me. He said, "Sergio, are you going home?" I'd say, "No, I'm going to the gym." I tried many sports in Cuba. I was poor and had no money that this was the only way to get out of the country and they don't let you out. I tried baseball, I tried boxing, I was real good and hit real hard. But they had some dude who hit REAL hard so I gave up. I tried running but I was too big for that. I was always really skinny but I always had a small waist with a V-shape even before I know anything about weights. I was at the beach and this instructor passed by and asked if I lifted weights. I said, "Weights? What is weights? The only weights I lift is in construction." He said come to my gym and gave me his card. Q: How old were you? Sergio: I was about 18 or 19. That's when I started. I went to the gym then, I was always good in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk from the start but because of my small waist I was never good in the Press. Q: Did you have flexibility problems? Sergio: No! No! That's why I was good in the Snatch and Clean. If you don't have flexibility you can't Snatch. Anyway, I went to the gym and worked on the Olympic lifts and before you know it I beat everybody in Cuba in weightlifting. So I represented Cuba in Olympic lifting and as soon as I got to Jamaica that was it! Adios! Q: On your Thursday routine for chest, shoulders and arms do you do the same thing? Sergio: I do the same exercises and the same routine but I drop the weight and train real light. Q: What about a lot of forced reps like the Mike Mentzer routine? Sergio: I don't know anything about the way Mentzer trains. I've never trained with forced reps so I can't make any comment on it. Again my best suggestion to you is to try a routine for a period of 2 to 3 months and see how it works for you. You don't care what Mr. McGoo does. You only care about what's the best for you. Find what works for you! Now Mr. Oliva says if you do this exercise you'll gain three inches on your arms. You may do the exercise for the rest of your life and never gain an inch. Now here comes Mr. Nobody with a crazy routine. You try it and your arms grow and develop like crazy! Now maybe my routine doesn't work for you because your bone structure and your metabolism has a lot to do with the way you develop. I used to look in the books and magazines and try the different routines of the top guys to find which one worked for me. If I didn't see any or much progress I'd drop it no matter how many titles the guy had won. I recommend to anybody find the exercises and routines that work for you. Q: Do you do any movements to enlarge your rib cage? Sergio: No. I never did nor ever tried any movement for it. Q: Did anybody help you with your training? Sergio: To tell you the truth, nobody. I made it all on my own with real hard work. Even today I'm not a real classy poser because I never took instruction from anyone. I never had the time. I had to work and I had to work out. Q: Are you financially well of that you don't have to work? Sergio: No, No, NO! I still work. I take off to go to Europe and around the country for exhibitions but I still work. Bodybuilding is something I can't depend on for the rest of my life. Q: What kind of work do you do? Sergio: I'm a police officer. Q: Tell us a little about your experience in 1966 over losing the AAU Mr. America to Bob Gajda. Sergio: Now, don't get me wrong. I'm going to explain it to you the best way I can. Bob and I were in the gym together but we never trained together like it said in the magazines because he had his way of training and I had mine. So we went to the Jr. Mr. America together and I won everything, all the body parts, everything. You judge this, right? They said I couldn't become Mr. America because I don't speak English. That's when I switched over to the IFBB. Q: Do you think there'll be another Sergio Oliva? Sergio: Sure! THE WORLD IS CRAZY! You see some guys that don't work out that look really good. So you put them in the gym and they train and they'll look tremendous. They'll be better than Sergio. Q: Is your training intensity up to par now with the way it used to be? Sergio: No! I trained for this show but I had pulled the ligaments in my leg. So I trained for this show for only seven weeks. I've been training like crazy and dropping down and everything. If there's nothing coming along I just maintain. If there's not something real big coming along I don't kill myself. I can work out as hard now as I did before! In bodybuilding you constantly improve. In other sports once you get old you're out! In bodybuilding you get older, you get better! Q: Do you think you've reached your potential? Sergio: I reached my potential in 1970 and then again in Germany and then in Mexico again. I know I can reach it when I really want to. But I'm not going to make that kind of sacrifice and then have Mr. McGoo beat me! Q: Tell us a little about your movie career? Sergio: I've got three movies out but they're all in Spanish. People say I'm a good actor. I don't know, I guess I am. It's tremendous, I like it. It's exciting, it's different! The last one I did about three years ago. It was made in Durango, Mexico. It's a Western. That's where John Wayne made a lot of his movies. I had to ride a horse without a saddle! Q: Can you ride? Sergio: Oh yeah! As long as the money is there I'll do anything! That Mother was so fast so I grabbed it by the neck. We only shot that part once, thank God because I don't think I could have repeated it. I got lucky! Q: Can you give me a routine to really blitz the waistline? Sergio: There's no secret to it, Baby! The only three exercises I know are the situps, leg raises and twists. There's no secret in that. It's the way you control your diet and doing the exercises. There's no secret! Don't let anyone confuse you! Just do situps, leg raises and twists and control your mouth and you'll have a good waistline. Q: Just prior to a contest what do you eat? Sergio: Fish, eggs, steak, that's it! In the last month almost no carbohydrates at all. Q: Is there any secret to working the back? Sergio: There's no secret again. I do a lot of different exercises for my back. It's like one guy maybe does nothing but pullups for his back. Along with this you need to do rowing, cleans, which are a tremendous exercise buy most bodybuilders don't like to do cleans because it's hard work. It's just like doing squats. Squats are a tremendous exercise and you need to do squats but they're hard work! If you're going to be in this game you have to do squats. They'll give you a tremendous set of legs, Keep in mind if you have a big chest and big arms and your legs look like spaghetti you're not going to do any good in a contest. Q: Do you drink? Sergio: Sure, every once in a while when I go to parties. When I go out I have a ball! Q: Have you thought of entering the Strongest Man in the World contest? Sergio: If they call me sure I'll go! I don't say I'm the world's strongest bodybuilder, I say I'll go against anyone as long as the money is there. Don't believe what the magazine says until you see the guy actually doing the lifts he's supposed to be able to do.
  2. STRONGEST ARMS IN HISTORY ** HEAVIEST EVER STRICT BARBELL CURL (1 REP MAX) LEADERBOARD ** * Regardless of lifters weight classes or type of barbell used. Heaviest Weight lifted WINS! 1. Doug Hepburn (photo above) - 116 kg (255 lbs) - Straight Barbell - (1959) 2. Denis Cyplenkov - 113 kg (249 lbs) - Ez Bar - (2015) 3. Luther Rogers - 107 kg (235 lbs) - Straight Barbell - (1960) 4. Larry Wheels - 105 kg (231 lbs) - Ez Bar - (2020) 5. Bruce Randall - 103.6 kg (228 lbs) - Straight Barbell - (1954) 6. CT Fletcher - 102 kg (225 lbs) - Ez-Bar - (?) 7. Hermann Goerner - 100.2 kg (220.5 lbs) - Straight Barbell (1932) 8. Hafthor Bjornsson - 83 kg (183 lbs) - Ez Bar - (2020) 9. The Gorilla Corey West - 82 kg (180 lbs) - Ez-Bar - (2019) 10. Maurice Jones - 80 kg (176 lbs) - Straight Barbell (?) ** STRICT CURL RULES ** * Old School Rules regarding Strict Curling: Click here. ** Current Strict Curl "online" Rules ** Upper back and butt must stay in contact with wall during full curl motion. During lift, lifter can take a close or wide foot stance. Heels must be 12" / 30 cm from wall during lift. Head, upper arms, wrists and elbows can move as much as you want as long as back and butt remain against wall. Strongman Doug Hepburn (1926 - 2000) who was the 1953 World Weightlifting Super Heavyweight Champion, strictly curled a MASSIVE 255 lbs (116 kg) back in 1959! He used a straight barbell. Quote Source: Ironman article: "Developing Curling Power" - March, 1961 (see below). The current World Record holder hasn't actually improved on the strict curl. Instead, the record has been lowered! As to the reason why...Who knows? That official record today is owned by Denis Cyplenkov with a strict curl (using an Ez-Bar) of 249 lbs (113 kg). Photo below shows Denis setting his first Strict Curl World Record with 108 kg (238 lbs). Keeping track of records throughout history is very challenging as rules keep changing. Doug Hepburn's record on the strict curl should still stand today as it was done standing freely while using a straight barbell. Cyplenkov's curl is a slightly different lift, his back and shoulders are braced against a wall and he's using an Ez-Curl barbell which does make the lift easier, especially on the wrists. More strict curl stats will be added soon so keep checking the leaderboard! If YOU come across any documentation (photographs or videos) that details any lifters performing "Strict Barbell Curl" strength feats, then post them below. In the mean time I'll leave you with an impressive photo of Cyplenkov's arms...The man is a BEAST!!
  3. The Legendary Leroy Colbert Training Philosophy (1977) By Howard Alpert When the definitive history of bodybuilding is written, a significant section will be devoted to a man who 'rewrote' the rules of training and whose physical development still remains as a standard that other bodybuilders try to reach. In an era when a 16-inch arm was considered very good and an 18-inch one was something that trainees dreamed about, the fabulous Leroy Colbert smashed all barriers by developing a 21-inch muscular arm. Only a near-tragic accident (Motorcycle accident in 1955 ) prevented him from going on after winning the Mr. Eastern America title to become Mr. America and Mr. Universe. Leroy loved his motorcycles However, the unfortunate event had a silver lining. It gave Leroy some time to seriously think about his future. He knew that he wanted to find a career doing something that would help people live a healthier life. At first, Leroy thought about opening his own gym. Then he realized that he could reach many more people if he had a health food store. The idea of opening a traditional health food store was not in keeping with the Colbert desire to do things in a bigger and better way than they had been done before. Finally, Leroy decided to open a 'health department store'. Today, Leroy and his lovely wife Jacqueline own and operate the two World Health Centers in New York City. These are unique establishments that contain everything from protein supplements and vitamins to fresh organic vegetables, fish, eggs, and meats, all of which are delivered daily. In addition, each store contains a large selection of exercise equipment. Leroy Colbert and Wife Jacqueline When I discussed with Leroy the idea of doing an article about his training philosophy the concepts that helped him to develop one of the greatest physiques ever seen, he graciously said that he would be only too happy to provide this information for readers. If you could see the busy schedule Leroy maintains during a typical day, you would get a better understanding of how difficult it was for him to set aside time for an interview. You would also get a clearer realization that he is so dedicated to helping others that he did provide the time even though it meant extending his working day well into the night. Leroy Colbert at 15 Years Old Before Leroy stated his training ideas, he wanted to be sure that I set down his views on using steroids. You know me long enough to know that I rarely get angry. But when guys come in here and tell me that the only way they can build a good physique is by using steroids, I want to grab them by their necks and shake some sense into their heads. How can anyone be so foolish as to play Russian roulette with his health? Fortunately, I have been able to convince a considerable number of fellows that steroids aren't necessary by showing them photos of the guys that were my contemporaries when I was competing. How many bodybuilders today can equal the development of Jack Delinger, George Eiferman, Marvin Eder, Reg Park, and, if you want to talk about the defined and vascular physique that is in vogue today, which of the present day stars would like to compete against Roy Hilligenn or Bob Hinds when they were at their peak? Oh yes, there were also a couple of fellows named Bruce Randall (photo below ) and Enrico Thomas who would have given today's competitors a few nervous moments. All of these guys and many, many more built their bodies to exceptionally high levels of development, and they did it the way we did it at that time - through consistently hard training. And we didn't have the information that the guys today have. Nor did we have the different types of supplements - liquid, predigested, even without any carbohydrates. All we knew was that if you wanted to gain weight and size, you trained like the devil and ate everything in sight. When you wanted to cut down, you trained like the devil and ate less. If we had the facts on nutrition that are common knowledge today, we probably could have gotten results in half the time. No, I repeat that the most foolish thing a bodybuilder can do is to take a chemical substance into his body, a substance whose side-effects are potentially so dangerous and that was never intended to be used by healthy people. With that off my chest, let me say a few things about training. When I started to train, the 'rule' was that you never did more than three sets for a bodypart. I wanted a body so badly that after using the three-sets idea for a while, I just decided I had to try something else. As I recall, Marvin Eder (Photo below) decided one day that we would do 10 sets of each exercise we were using instead of the usual three. Then we swore that we would meet again early the next morning to see if we were both still alive. When we felt the difference from training that way and found out that we both lived through it, I threw the 'rule book' out the window and started to grow as I never had been able to do up until that time. From that workout on, I decided to use my head. I used many types of routines until I found the ones that worked best for me. What I found was that 10 sets was the minimum I could use for my 'easy-growing' parts. Usually I did 15 sets for most parts and sometimes went as high as 20 sets a workout for those parts that were really stubborn. I found that working with very heavy weights that forced you to do the exercises slowly was not as effective as working with a weight in a continuously moving manner until you completed the set. I don't mean working so fast that you use sloppy form, but I mean that you don't actually pause at the top or bottom of a repetition but just keep moving the weight in a controlled, steady way. Notice that I said "controlled." I believe that you can't fully control a weight that is so heavy that you can barely do your reps with it. I get much better results by using a weight that makes you work but not one that you have to 'kill' yourself with to get through the exercise. I mentioned before that I usually did a certain amount of sets for a particular area. Actually what I did was to go more by the feel of the muscle and the pump I was getting. If I found that I was beginning to lose the pump in an area I was working, I would stop exercising it even if I hadn't completed the number of sets I planned to do. I found that any sets that weren't increasing the pump were a waste and perhaps were even overtraining the muscle. On average, though, I usually did about 15 sets for most areas. I used to change my workout around every two or three months. I found that if I tried to stay on exactly the same program month after month, I would go stale. Sometimes I would change several of the exercises. Other times I would just rearrange the order of the exercises. For example, if I was doing chins, pulldowns and rowing for my back, I might change my routine by beginning with rowing and finishing with chins. Sometimes I might switch to dumbbell rowing, bent-arm pullovers, and close-grip chins. There is an endless variety of changes that can be made. I found that each new program was a new challenge. 70 lbs Dumbbell Curls with Tom Sansone When I did exercises like squats, bench presses, or deadlifts, exercises for which you would use sizable poundages, I would begin with about 2/3 of the weight I could handle on my heaviest set. I would work up to sets of 8 reps until I hit my top set of 8. This would take about four sets. Then I would drop back for two finishing sets of 8. For exercises that didn't require heavy poundages, I would generally stay with one weight for all my sets. I always kept the repetitions on my exercises between 8 and 10. I think that it is important to maintain a fast pace throughout the workout. I always began my next set as soon as my breathing returned near normal. I found that the more work I could do in a given period of time, the better I would respond. I think that if I had only one thought that I wanted readers to remember, it would be that consistency in training is the thing that separates the best from the ordinary. Train heavier on the days that you feel strong and lighter on those days that you really don't feel great, but don't miss a workout. Every champ I trained with rarely missed a workout. I don't mean that you should train if you are really sick, though we did because we wanted to build our bodies with such a deep intensity that we wouldn't even let illness stand in our way. Just don't let laziness cause you to miss a workout. Cut your poundages in half just to get into a workout on a real 'down' day. Very often by the time the workout is over, you will find it has been one of your better sessions. With these concluding comments, Leroy said that he had to get back to work. Time had passed so quickly that the bright sunshine had been replaced by darkness. Judging by the pile of papers on Leroy's desk, I knew that he would be having a very late supper that night. But as we shook hands, he smiled and thanked me for giving him the opportunity to convey his thoughts to readers. I might add, and the photographs that accompany this article will substantiate it, that although Leroy expressed many of his ideas in the past tense he is still training regularly and is in excellent condition. Leroy Colbert is one of the greatest champions the bodybuilding world has produced. His achievements and philosophy will remain as a permanent legacy to inspire the bodybuilders of today and of the future. MORE PHOTOS... RIP Leroy (1933 - 2015). A lot of personal content by Leroy on training etc is on Youtube. You can also check out Leroy's website! If anyone has information or stories on Leroy please share below in the comments section.
  4. The Amazing Transformation of Bruce Randall (1931 - 2010) By Randy Roach Reprinted from Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors (edited by Strength Oldschool) 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: (Below) Newspaper Advert - Nov 28 - 1965 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: 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": 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: Bulked Up photo of Randall weighing over 400 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: 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. TRAINING PHOTOS OF BRUCE RANDALL... Heavy Decline Dumbbell Bench Presses Standing Shoulder Presses with a pair of 120 lbs Dumbbells. Loading up a heavy barbell to perform Good Mornings... Heavy Cambered Bar Good Mornings... Bruce Randall - Favourite Exercise - Heavy Good Mornings 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. 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.] 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: Press: 365 lbs (165.9 kg) for 2 reps 375 lbs (170.5 kg) for 1 rep Squat: 680 lbs (309.1 kg) Good Morning exercise: (Legs bent, back parallel to floor) 685 lbs (311.4 kg) Deadlift: 730 lbs (331.8 kg) for 2 reps 770 lbs (350 kg) for 1 rep Curl: 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) 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: What Goes Up Must Come Down! 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: 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: Breakfast 2 soft boiled eggs Plain pint (0.45 L) of skim milk Glass of orange juice Apple Lunch Salad, dates, nuts Supper 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. 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). 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: 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. EXTRA INFO / PHOTOS / NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS ABOUT BRUCE RANDALL Little story connecting bodybuilding legend Harold Poole (1943 - 2014) with Bruce Randall... 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" 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... Mr Universe Contest (left to right): Reub Martin - Pierre Vandervondelen - Bruce Randall - Reg Park SOME MORE PHOTOS / NEWS ARTICLES... Billard Golden Triumph Barbells Bruce Randall - 1970 Newspaper Clipping - 28 Oct - 1967 Newspaper Ad - 27 Nov - 1969 Newspaper Ad - April 7 - 1976 Bruce Randall - Newspaper Article - Ex Tubby - Eyes Mr Universe Repeat Newspaper Article - 21 Feb - 1971 Newspaper Article - 31 March - 1968 Newspaper Article from 1971 on Bruce Randall * If anyone has any stories on Bruce Randall, please share them by commenting below.
  5. John Grimek - Acquiring Shaplier Biceps From Strength & Health Magazine, Nov, 1957. ** Actual article pages are attached to the bottom of this article ** The arm, particularly the biceps muscle, is the best-known of all muscles and incites more interest and controversy than any other group of muscles. Both old and young are, for some inexplicable reason, fascinated by strong, muscular looking arms. The very young are always intrigued and will hound anyone with a fine pair of arms to "show me your muscle! ” Youngsters don’t realise that almost 700 muscles comprise the muscular makeup of the body, but to them only the biceps are muscles because they knot up to a peak when the arm is flexed. And, speaking of older people, on a return trip from Canada a couple of years ago, Jake Hitchins and I stopped for gas in an upper New York state town. It was hot and sticky that day, and my shirt, a short sleeve cotton one, clung tightly to me, especially around my arms. After telling the attendant to “fill ‘er up ” I went to the men’s room to freshen up and didn’t notice an older lady rocking in the shade. As I went by she called to my companion asking him the nature of my vocation. Jake merely answered I was a writer. A pause followed in apparent contemplation, then she added, “My, what a wonderful pair of arms that young man has! ” When I was told this incident after we got under way I was pretty sure that old gal hasn’t seen many lifters or bodybuilders, and calling me a young man was proof enough her vision wasn’t 20-20. She must have been 80-plus if she was a day, and people that age consider anyone younger a mere kid! I mention this because it bears out my conviction that arms for reasons unknown attract more attention than any other muscle, from the very young to the extremely old. At practically every stop we made, some comments were made regarding my arms, primarily because my sleeves seemed to be strangling them. However, this was not the first time such incidents occurred. On every trip I ever made comments were made towards other muscles but it was always the arms that received the most. For this reason I often wear long sleeve shirts or jackets for such comments can sometimes be embarrassing and annoying. But a man doesn’t have to have large arms to create attention. Frequently a well developed arm of 15 or 16 inches causes quite a stir among the neighbourhood small-fry who incessantly request the owner to “show your muscle! ” Perhaps all this interest for arms is the result of many romantic tales relative to arm strength which come down to us through generations. Even Longfellow’s poem about the Village Blacksmith did much to popularize “the brawny arms ” conception from which “muscles stood out like iron bands.” Although today the village smithy is as obsolete as the horse and buggy, the “brawny arms ” conception is still with us. Frequently large arms are associated with strength, and while this may be true in many cases, it does not reflect the truth for the majority. Arm size does not indicate exceptional strength, although the two make an impressive combination. However, when a good sized arm is capped by well-rounded deltoids and massive forearms they make an even better striking appearance and certainly any man with this combination is bound to be fairly strong, especially if these muscles were developed through coordinated, sensible exercise. I find another odd incident regarding the biceps. Many muscle culturists consider the biceps as a single muscle and assume all biceps have the same general shape in all individuals. The biceps, meaning two-heads, vary considerably among all types of athletes and individuals, showing varying contours even when fully developed. In my opinion there are three distinctive shapes; the high peaked biceps, the rounded baseball type, and the longer but massive biceps without any apparent apex. Biceps that show a high peak are more impressive when the arm is flexed, but the baseball type is also impressive and appears more powerful. The long biceps, when muscular, look more massive and larger than either of the aforementioned two and are usually exceptionally strong. But, shape is usually determined by the manner in which the muscles originate and where they insert, although exercise can help to bring out its basic shape. Biceps strength, too, does not depend on size and frequently a medium-sized arm will out-perform a larger arm in various arm tests. Therefore, while some find it difficult to acquire greater arm mass they invariably acquire unusual strength and vice-versa. But here again this accomplishment depends on training and those, especially beginners, who insist on using heavy weights with fewer repetitions are apt to “toughen up ” the muscle making it harder to develop, for a time at least. Under these conditions no amount of training seems to have any effect, although they will show improvement in strength. When this condition occurs it is best to rest from all arm exercises from two to six weeks, to allow the muscles to return to normal, then light progressive training should be undertaken to coax the muscle along, using 8 to 12 repetitions. Resistance should be increased only when the 12th repetition becomes easy, although some may prefer as many as 15 counts. However, as progress is made and heavier weights are employed the repetitions need not exceed 10, because, quite unconsciously one may be doing more exercises and even employing series of the same exercise making higher repetitions unnecessary. Nevertheless, in doing any set number of counts be sure that most of them are done in correct style. I repeat, the first 5 or 6 reps should be done rather easily, but the remaining reps should require increasing effort on your part… there’s your cue and the true secret of biceps development. Those who begin to swing curl or “cheat” with the first repetition are not using the entire biceps muscle, consequently develop a peculiar shaped arm. When hanging normally at the sides, the crook of the elbow isn’t as full or in proportion to the upper biceps, and when the arm is flexed a large gap between the curve of the biceps and the elbow is seen. Naturally some space will be evident because the biceps contracts and shortens, but in many cases there is an excessive gap in what are considered well developed arms. Arms that have their tendons torn will naturally show a decided gap, but arms that are normal with this excessive space are the result of specialising too early on cheating curls, or employing such exercises that eliminate the starting action of the lower biceps ends. To develop this lower end of the biceps will require more deliberate starting action and a thorough extension of the biceps each time the arm is flexed. Reverse curls also react favourably here, as do curls with dumbells while keeping the palms facing each other. I want to emphasize here that I am not condemning cheating curls simply because this method is favoured by the “opposition.” Such exercise may have a place in the training routine of many exercise fans, but is not suited to the beginner or the man whose development is below par. Personally, I have never seen such curls develop any arm from scratch to outstanding proportions, and I have never met anyone else who did. Those who use such exercises NOW have done enough proper exercises to develop their arms first before using this style, more as a means of using heavier weights, which point is conceded, but even then the question remains, whether the biceps actually got stronger or whether it is the combination of other muscles involved that encourage the use of heavier poundage. Anyone who employs this exercise realizes the biceps alone do not curl the weight, but the powerful muscles of the back, legs and abdomen all help to provide the impetus for completing the exercise. I can readily understand the use of this style to encourage more strength where progress of strength has not kept up with development, but so far as actual development resulting from the exclusive use of this style, it is doubtful. In one of our exhibitions on a cross country tour in 1940 I cleaned-curled 295 lbs. which I also pressed using the same undergrip, but this clean was nothing more than an exaggerated form of cheating curl. Yet, under strict conditions I was capable of 215 but could easily cheat curl 240 and 250 in repetitions. To make claims for “curling such weights ” would be preposterous, and this is precisely what many are doing today. My real purpose for doing an occasional cheating curl those days was not to encourage biceps development, but as a means of increasing my cleaning ability, which was done mostly by arm power! For complete biceps development they should be thoroughly exercised by employing the full range of action’ contracting and extending the biceps fully. Repetitions for developing purposes for the majority seem to favour 8 to 12 counts, more for some, less for those who include more variety and multiple sets. Beginners will always do better when 12 or even 15 reps are used, since they do not include a large variety of exercises. Ordinary chinning will often increase biceps size for the average individual, and when combined with such exercises as rope climbing and rowing, gains are more rapid. Yet, chinning never did increase the arm girth of those who already achieved fair development from weight training, unless weights were attached to the feet to increase the resistance. Curling exercises react more directly and resistance can be applied to meet the demand of the growing muscle, benefitting the biceps. Many muscle culturists believe that only curling movements will effect biceps development, while in reality there are many exercises that influence and activate the biceps. In all rowing exercises, for example, the upper arm muscles are strongly involved, especially the brachialis, the muscle that adds width and thickness to the biceps region. Lots of fellows have huge looking arms hanging at their sides, but when viewed from the front the biceps are thin and shallow looking, all because the brachialis lacks complete development. A well developed arm usually looks wide from the sides and equally as thick from the front. It’s because the brachialis, which lies beneath the biceps and extends on each side of the arm, helps to show more massive development. Its tendons attach deeper and lower into the forearms and provide better leverage for the biceps. Most exercises done on the “lat machine” induce some biceps growth, effectively different from regular curling and is advisable if this apparatus is at your disposal. High pullups are equally beneficial to the biceps, as are all methods of cleaning weights to shoulders. Therefore, it’s easy to see how the biceps can be worked even if curls were not included regularly. However, some form of curls are best included if one seeks to attain the maximum in biceps size. Nevertheless there are some fellows who think that in order to get big arms or keep them they have to curl and curl everyday, often using the heaviest weights possible. Frankly, with only a minimum of exercise I manage to retain myself in fair condition as the posed pictures recently taken show. What’s more, for almost seven years I have done practically no curls and am only now trying to coax myself into using them, yet I find no obvious decrease in arm girth. In my training I try to get the most out of my exercises with the least amount of effort and anyone else can do the same, providing they follow sensible training methods. Occasionally we have training with us a man who finds a way to cheat in any exercise you give him and one of his specialities is a travesty on the two hands curl which he calls “lurchers”, which are nothing more than a forward-bend, a heave and then a backbend before the dumbbells reach his shoulders … all in “perfect military form ” because he doesn’t use either the split or squat style! Whenever we ride him for his efforts his retort is always…it works my arms! This we know, but we also know what a terrific strain his back suffers, and once his back gives out the “lurchers” will come to an end! Often I have challenged him to hold those dumbbells in his hands without any effort to “curl” them, for a minute or so, to prove he will still feel the same strain but he refuses to accept the terms. It doesn’t take much reasoning to realize that any strain or stress is enough to fatigue the muscle, but my question is, does this help development? Development results only when the muscle is used over its entire normal range, and this applies to all muscles as well as the biceps. Proper curling motions will undoubtedly cause the biceps to grow and strengthen, although the exercises mentioned previously are also very beneficial and can help to round out this muscle more fully. Regular curls work the biceps very well but some men fail to achieve full contraction in this upright position. By bending forward from the hips, leverage is increased and imparts greater action and resistance to the biceps. Reverse curls, knuckles up, works the biceps differently and bring the forearm muscles into play. Curling dumbbells, knuckles facing out, also works the forearms and activates the lower points of the biceps. Alternate curls are no different except when one acquires the rhythm of performance, more weight can be used in each hand. Nevertheless, I would like to reiterate, while weight is important in all exercises to gain size and strength, it must be emphasized here that correct performance is equally as important in early stages even more so than employing limit poundages. If handling heavier weights is your objective then you can do the exercise in any fashion you like, but if you seek optimal development, be sure you work the muscle correctly first, then if additional work is required for strengthening purposes, employ maximum poundages in the cheating style. To achieve optimal biceps size it’s not necessary to do a dozen biceps exercises, although three to five exercises can do done unless numerous sets are used, then fewer exercises and lower reps are advocated. A word regarding measurements. Regular readers all know we do not stress measurements. The reason for this is obvious; too many grossly exaggerated measurements are published in other magazines. The reason for this is obvious; too many grossly exaggerated measurements are published in other magazines. The number of men today claiming 18, 19 and even 20 inch arms is difficult to count, yet only a small percentage actually have the measurement they claim. Our aim therefore is not to encourage falsified girths but suggest such measurements be judged by proportions and not the tape. A man whose forearms are well developed will have a large looking arm, but if the forearm lacks development the upper arm may appear larger than it is because of the contrast and vice versa. In fact, forearm size is controlled to a large degree by wrist size, the upper arm by the forearms and deltoids. One writer, Alan Calvert, was of the opinion that if the forearms and deltoids were superbly developed, the upper arm would take care of itself. It might to a certain extent but some direct exercises should be done to encourage this growth. Arm length is another factor to consider in relation to arm size. The longer the humerus the “more meat” will such an arm have, making it more massive, although it may not appear any larger than the arm that is two or more inches shorter and equally developed. Stanko’s arm is rather long and shows massiveness not accurately revealed in pictures. Bruce Randall (4) (see photo below standing next to Reg Park(5) ), who visits us regularly, has tremendous looking arms of exceptional length. Strangely enough they look more massive when just hanging at his side or when he flexes his triceps in front of his chest. Because of his arm length he probably has “more meat” on his arm than any man his size, being muscular as well. As for exercises, there are more than can be mentioned if one considers all movements that influence biceps development, but a brief break-down is that barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells can all be used to affect the biceps. Just as many can be done with cables or chest expanders, “crusher apparatus”, gymnastic equipment and many can be done without any equipment. However, increasing resistance must be maintained if the muscle is expected to improve with certain number of repetitions needed to stimulate this muscle growth. Bear in mind that several correct movements are essential that work the biceps over their full range before the shorter, heavier movements are done. Repetitions need not be excessive and those bent on following a system of sets instead of a wider variety should try the 10-8-6-5-3 system of reps which call for increased weight with each consecutive set. Using this system, three to five exercises would be more than sufficient, particularly if several indirect movements are employed in your training routine. Nevertheless, remember to do them correctly, if you are interested in building a shaplier biceps. ** Actual article pages attached below **
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