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  1. In light of the recent news of the passing of George Butler (1944 - 2021) I thought it would be nice to post an article from Muscle & Fitness dated back in March, 2017, written by the late Shawn Perine (1966 - 2017). ~ Strength Oldschool An Interview with director George Butler (pictured below back in 2004), the man responsible for making bodybuilding a cultural mainstay that has inspired a younger generation of lifters. It's hard to overstate the impact of director George Butler's 1977 documentary "Pumping Iron", not just on bodybuilding, but on society. For one thing, it introduced the world to pre-Conan Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose incredible success might not have been possible without his breakout performance as himself in P.I. Then there's the mainstreaming of gyms that can be traced to the film's release. Beginning in the late 1970s and well into the '80s, the health club industry saw massive growth, with chains popping up throughout the U.S., then the world, and with them, a surge in gym memberships. Pumping Iron is the reason many of us, myself included, got into working out in the first place, so it's with great pleasure that I wish George, Arnold, and the rest of the film's cast and crew a happy 40th anniversary. PUMPING IRON: The film that almost wasn't. With the exception of the Weider brothers, few people have had as much of an influence on the popularization of bodybuilding as George Butler. As the engine that conceived, directed, and then brought the film Pumping Iron to theaters 40 years ago, Butler has given bodybuilding fans the world over a visual touchstone that still serves as everything from historical reference to motivational guide to celluloid bible. Shawn Perine (Photo above) / Muscle & Fitness: What was your first professional experience with bodybuilding? George Butler: Charles Gaines was assigned by Sports Illustrated to write an article on a bodybuilding contest for the July '72 issue (see cover below). He asked me to take the photographs. S.P / M & F: What was the contest? George Butler: It was the Mr. East Coast, which was held in Holyoke, Massachusetts (MA), and was won by a wonderful bodybuilder named Leon Brown (pictured below). S.P / M & F: Were you familiar with bodybuilding at the time, or was it a new experience for you? George Butler: I had grown up in Jamaica and the West Indies, and I used to work out in a gym in Jamaica, and bodybuilding was a big sport down there. I saw my first bodybuilding exhibit actually at a political rally in a church in Savanna-la-Mar, Jamaica. S.P / M & F: How did that come about? George Butler: A friend of mine was running for parliament in Jamaica, and he had a political rally in the parish church, and part of his rally included a bodybuilding exhibition with a guy named Samson. The power went out in the middle of it, so they lit it with kerosene flares. S.P / M & F: After the Sports Illustrated article came the book. I understand that you faced a few obstacles in attempting to get it published. Hadn't Doubleday given you an advance to do the book? George Butler: Right. We did the entire book and turned the manuscript in to Sandy Richardson, who was editor in chief at Doubleday, and he wrote us a letter saying, "I want my money back. No one will ever read this book, and no one will ever be interested in Arnold Schwarzenegger." S.P / M & F: So then you shopped it around in New York? George Butler: Yeah. We ended up at Simon & Schuster. S.P / M & F: That was in '74? George Butler: Late '74. S.P / M & F: And was it a success? George Butler: Yes. It made The New York Times Best Sellers List. S.P / M & F: How many editions have there been? George Butler: I think about 20 printings. S.P / M & F: Your book is what inspired me to take up bodybuilding. When I was about 10, I remember thumbing through a copy in a department store and coming to the picture of Arnold with a topless girl on his shoulders, and I thought, "That's what I want to be." George Butler: Well, bear in mind that the woman on his shoulders was the top woman bodybuilder at the time. I took those photos for a Playboy article, and Arnold was supposed to be the male bodybuilder, and Heidi was supposed to be the female bodybuilder. S.P / M & F: Did you have funding at this stage? George Butler: Well, funding came in very erratically and with great difficulty. I actually went to 3,000 people one by one to finance the film. S.P / M & F: 3,000?! George Butler: Yeah, it's really true. I'm not exaggerating. S.P / M & F: So you then went out and shot some footage? George Butler: We shot a test film, and I screened it in New York for 100 investors, and [actress] Laura Linney's father [playwright Romulus Linney - pictured above] got up and said, "George, if you ever make a movie about Arnold Schwarzenegger, you'll be laughed off 42nd Street." S.P / M & F: That kind of negative attitude still astounds me. George Butler: What you've got to understand is that back in the early '70s, bodybuilding was the least glamorous sport in the world. The prevailing view was that it was purely homosexual, that bodybuilders were totally uncoordinated, that when they grew older their muscles would turn to fat, and that they had no intelligence whatsoever. Charles Gaines (pictured below - far left) said that it was like trying to promote midget wrestling. It was so tawdry...everyone we knew was laughing at us. S.P / M & F: It's amazing not only how far bodybuilding has risen since then but how far it seems to have fallen at that time. Back in the '40s and '50s, guys like Charles Atlas and Steve Reeves didn't portray that image. George Butler: Yeah, but there were limited pockets of bodybuilding. If you look at Charles Atlas, he wasn't really much of a bodybuilder, and Steve Reeves made it in the movies and was very handsome. Look at it this way; Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived in America in 1968, and when we met him in 1972, the Mr. Olympia contest was held in a tiny little auditorium in Brooklyn and the prize money was something like $1000 and only Arnold and Franco were making it as professional bodybuilders. Everyone else had another job. Leon Brown worked at a Laundromat in Staten Island. S.P / M & F: I know that Steve Michalik was a graphic artist. George Butler: Steve (pictured above) had to have a full-time day job, and he was Mr. America. It was a joke it was so bad. S.P / M & F: How big a crew did you have for the filming? George Butler: Well, the way I shoot films, my crews expand and contract. For instance, when I was shooting at Lou Ferrigno's gym in Brooklyn, it was really just half a dozen people. When we were shooting at Gold's Gym, we had a bigger operation. It was probably 12 people, which included the cinematographer, gaffer, the assistants, and me, and some electricians, etc. Basically I'm very proud of the fact that I've always worked with a small crew. When we were filming in South Africa at the contest, we were running about six cameras, and with South African assistants we probably had 30 people. S.P / M & F: It feels like a larger production, though, especially the competition scenes in which you go from backstage to the audience's perspective to onstage. What kind of a budget did you have? George Butler: I raised $400,000 to make the movie. S.P / M & F: Amazing that you could film for so long on such a small budget. You shot for about three or four months, I figure. George Butler: Yeah. S.P / M & F: And so when "Pumping Iron" was released, was it straight to the art houses, or did it have a wide release? George Butler: Actually it began at the Plaza Theatre, which was a regular movie theater in New York, and it broke every box office record there at the theater. S.P / M & F: Were the reviews generally positive? Are there any memorable stories related to the film's release. George Butler: Oh, yeah. Well, it got fabulous reviews, and through a friend I got Jacqueline Onassis to come to a lunch for Arnold and that sent people through the roof. And I put Arnold before that in the Whitney Museum and in a ballet studio, and I got Jamie Wyeth to paint him. S.P / M & F: Now, I remember the movie from PBS. It was before VCR's, so I used to run to the TV with my audio tape recorder and tape the audio for later listening. When did PBS start airing it? George Butler: Probably, I would say, in late '77. S.P / M & F: So pretty soon after the release? George Butler: Well, it was released in January '77. So probably in October/November, it went on PBS. Even that was exasperating. The distributor, which was a company called Cinema 5, which was like the Miramax of its day, sold 'Pumping Iron' to PBS for 30 grand. About a week later, ABC came to me, and Tony Thomopoulos (pictured below), the president, asked me if he could buy it. I said, "Well, how much?" and he said, "$1,000,000." S.P / M & F: And by that time it was too late? George Butler: Yeah. S.P / M & F: Now among the bodybuilding set, there is a lot of speculation concerning a few of the scenes in 'Pumping Iron'. I've talked to others who have wondered if some of the film is documentary or maybe a little bit of the guys acting for the camera. One case in particular that everyone talks about is the "missing T-shirt/crusher scene" and the on-screen friction between Ken Waller and Mike Katz. How much of that was real? George Butler: The only tricky thing involved there is that Waller (pictured below) evidently stole Katz's T-shirt because we got on film Katz saying, "Where's my T-shirt? I bet Waller took it." And so we filmed the before after. S.P / M & F: With him tossing the football around with Robby and Roger talking about how he was going to do it? George Butler: Exactly. S.P / M & F: What about Arnold? He told so many great stories that are still debated, like whether he really missed his father's funeral (as he states in the film). George Butler: That's true. He did not go to his father's funeral. S.P / M & F: And when he made his analogy of a pump feeling like an orgasm, did he clear that with you first or was it just extemporaneous? George Butler: No, that was extemporaneous. S.P / M & F: Were there any things that didn't make it to the screen that were great, funny, or remarkable? George Butler: [Laughing] Thousands of things. S.P / M & F: Any that you can share? George Butler: Yeah. I've got Louie saying on film, "All I want to be is the Hulk," and this was several years before he became the Hulk. S.P / M & F: Amazing. Now you've got four main protagonists in the film, and each one was pretty different from the others. I'd like to get your thoughts on each. What was your impression of Mike Katz? George Butler: I adored him. He was authentic, and he always wore his heart on his sleeve, so you could tell on his face what was going on in his mind. The most amazing thing I know about Mike Katz (pictured below) is that he was a high school teacher. We filmed him at his high school, and I watched him playing touch football, and he began on the zero yard line, and he ran 100 yards down the field. There were a lot of good high school athletes there, and no one could touch him. I mean he went so fast, and he was so agile. You've got to remember, this was a guy who played track, hockey, and football. Three sports. All-American in college. You know, he was a New York Jets lineman, and I'm pretty sure he could have played professional hockey or could have thrown the discus or something like that. I mean, he's an astonishing athlete and a great human being. S.P / M & F: I've had the opportunity to speak with him and found him to be a thoughtful and considerate person. George Butler: He's a fine human being. S.P / M & F: What was it like shooting the scenes with Lou Ferrigno and his dad? George Butler: Well, when you make a film like 'Pumping Iron', you've got to put a good story together, and I had a keen insight into Louie's relationship with his father. I knew that he was the perfect bodybuilder to set up as the guy who could, or might, knock off Arnold. And the contrast was perfect. Louie worked out in a small, dark gym in Brooklyn that was actually R&J Health Studio, which was owned by a man named Julie Levine. And Gold's Gym in California was the exact opposite. Louie would work out in these tiny little rooms with one person around him and his father, and Arnold would work out in a gym in California that had its doors open, was wide open, right on the beach. And it was light and airy, and Louie's was dark. Louie was dark and brooding. Arnold was blond and big and beachy and stuff like that. But both men are sons of policemen. I found that very interesting, and I'm sure Arnold subconsciously registered that. So the film set up this wonderful contest between these two men, and of course Louie was 6'5" and he's a giant, really. But here's something interesting not many people know. Nik Cohn wrote a movie called 'Saturday Night Fever'. He wrote the screenplay for it, and the whole Italian family, John Travolta's family, is modeled on Louie and his family. S.P / M & F: You're kidding! Actually, I can see it. Like the scene in which Louie's family is sitting around the kitchen table... George Butler: Yes! It's all John Travolta's family. With his sister and brother and the Catholic Church and everything else. It was modeled on them in 'Pumping Iron'. S.P / M & F: That's too funny! Moving on to Franco. He seemed like a lot of fun to be around. George Butler: I was always very fond of Franco. It was my idea to go to Sardinia and film there. That's when we were really doing seat-of-the-pants film making because three of us went to Sardinia: myself, Bob Fiore, and his girlfriend, who was Marshall McLuhan's daughter. I did sound and lighting, and Bob did lighting and camera work, and we were able to do key scenes for the movie in Sardinia with literally a two-man crew. And it worked. And we got stopped by the police in the mountains. It was very exciting stuff because Franco's mother and father were real shepherds, and I'm not even convinced any other Americans had been to his village before us. It was way, way up in the mountains in Sardinia, and it was so remote, and it was so high up that there was still ice in June on the lakes. At one point Franco chopped a hole in the ice and caught some trout, which he served us for lunch. One another occasion Franco's family put me in the only available bedroom, which was his sisters' room. Five of his sisters were going to sleep in the room with me, so this was quite wonderful. Then I realized Franco's father was sitting right outside the window at the foot of my bed, watching me all night long. S.P / M & F: How long were you in Sardinia? George Butler: Probably a week. S.P / M & F: That's fun footage. The movie is so international, and it's amazing how you did it on such a small budget with such a small crew and yet it's this globe-hopping excursion. George Butler: Well, we filmed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal. We filmed at the Whitney Museum in New York. We filmed in Connecticut. We filmed in Massachusetts. We filmed in Paris, and we filmed in South Africa. S.P / M & F: Now I'd be hard-pressed to figure out exactly which scenes were shot where. George Butler: Well, where Franco blows up the hot-water bottle is in Massachusetts. Mike Katz was filmed in Connecticut. The movie actually opens in San Francisco. S.P / M & F: Is that the ballet scene? George Butler: The ballet scene was New York City. That was another location I forgot to mention. It was shot in Joanne Woodward's dance studio in Manhattan. S.P / M & F: Another interesting tidbit. Turning now to Arnold. We all know that he is this self-made man. What was your impression of him? Did he just seem like a guy who was born to be successful? George Butler: Yeah, well, the reason I made the film was because I thought he was very charismatic and interesting and smart. But initially, when I met him, he had been in America for four years and virtually nothing had happened. You know, he wasn't in other movies. We were the first people outside of bodybuilding to interview him. S.P / M & F: Yeah, he did Hercules In New York and then kind of laid dormant for awhile. George Butler: Hercules Goes Bananas. S.P / M & F: With Arnold Stang. George Butler: [Laughing] Yeah. And even his voice had to be re-dubbed in that movie. S.P / M & F: That's probably the best aspect of it: the overdubbed voice. George Butler: And I'll tell you another little sidebar. When I was trying to get 'Pumping Iron' going, I was very short on money. So I went to this lab in New York, and I had just come back from shooting the initial part of the film. I asked them if they'd give me some credit, which is the kind of thing they normally do when you get going on a movie. This was a place called 'DuArt Film Lab', and the owner of it was someone named Irwin Young. So I went in with my hat in my hand and asked him if he would give me $15,000 worth of credit. He said, "Tell me what you're doing," and I said, "Well I'm making a movie about bodybuilding." Then he said, "Does it have anything to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger?" and I said, "Yes." So he said, "Forget it. I won't give you any credit. I had a movie in here called 'Hercules In New York', and they never paid a bill, and they owe me 30 grand." S.P / M & F: That's a riot! What a coincidence. George Butler: [Laughing] It was an unfortunate one. Arnold Schwarzenegger's message he posted on Twitter about the passing of his friend George Butler: Check out this video where John Hansen interviews Charles Gaines about Pumping Iron. Some recent footage of George Butler and unfortunately he didn't look well... RIP George Butler.
  2. 1991 Interview with Bodybuilding Legend Danny Padilla By Greg Zulak Ask your typical seven-year-old boy what he wants to be when he grows up and he'll probably say a fireman, a policeman or a professional wrestler like Hulk Hogan. When Danny Padilla (it is Pa-dill-a, not Pa-dee-a) was seven years old, he told his father, "I'm going to be Mr. America one day." He told his father that because his father wanted to know why Danny was always down in the basement lifting his older brother's weights. Yep! Danny Padilla started his bodybuilding career at age seven, doing basic moves like curls, presses and rows. Even at that young age, Danny had a dream - a dream to be a great bodybuilder and one day win the Mr. America title. "I'd lie in bed at night and dream about being Mr. America," says Danny now. "I knew it was going to happen." Danny made his dream a reality in 1976 when he won the IFBB Mr. America title and the IFBB Mr. Universe. The year before he had entered big-time bodybuilding a total unknown, but made a name for himself by winning the USA title. By the end of the 1970's and early 80's Danny Padilla was one of the best bodybuilders on the planet, and many felt that he would win the Mr. Olympia. Then came 1981 and the '81 Olympia in Columbus, Ohio, the contest that broke his heart, took all joy out of competition and caused him to retire from bodybuilding when he was at his peak. For several years Danny had been told by the experts that if he ever came in totally ripped he would win the Olympia. In 1981 he did just that (Photo below). He was so ripped that his eyes were sunk back in his head and his face looked like a mask. Even by 1990 standards Danny was ripped to shreds, but he was still massive and full-looking with his famous beautiful lines and his unmatched symmetry. He had trained and dieted for over half a year for the show. He pushed himself to the breaking point and beyond. He sacrificed everything for this one competition. Then disaster struck. The judges, to loud, vociferous booing, gave Danny only fifth place. Roy Callender, who was also in the best shape of his life that day and would also have been a worthy winner, was given fourth. Tom Platz was in his all-time best shape that day too and seemed the favorite to win, but was only given third. The two guys who weren't even considered by most to be in the top five, Chris Dickerson and Franco Columbu, took second and first. This was the greatest indignity to Danny. Franco Columbu, who had a bitch tit, absolutely no thigh cuts or size - without a doubt the worst legs of any competitor in the history of the Olympia - was boxy and bowlegged and only training something like eight weeks for the show was named Mr. Olympia?!! It was too much for Danny to take. It destroyed him, devastated him. He would never be the same and bodybuilding would never be the same for him. He would compete three more times in the 80's - at the 1982 Mr. Olympia, the 1984 Pro Worlds and the 1985 Mr. Olympia - but truthfully, it was a facsimile of the old Danny showing up for these events. His heart wasn't in it. He basically dropped out of bodybuilding and went back to his native Rochester to work in his father's grocery store and at Delco. While his good friend Arnold was off in Hollywood making millions, there was Danny, one of the greatest bodybuilders in the world, working away in anonymity in a grocery store and a factory. In 1989, goaded on by an amateur bodybuilder at his gym, Danny planned a comeback at the Night of Champions contest. He showed up in great shape but missed the competitors' meeting and was disqualified from the show. Vowing revenge, Danny trained like a madman to prove that, even at age 39 (1990), he wasn't washed up as a bodybuilder and that he could defeat the best of the current day. He did just that, taking second place at the Gold's Classic in Niagara Falls last spring and then, several weeks later, exacting sweet revenge when he took third at the Night of Champions (see photos below). He also went on to compete at contests on the European Grand Prix and took several top-five placements. He had done it. He had proved to the world and himself that he is still one of the top bodybuilders in the world. I recently spoke with Danny Padilla for over an hour and a half. We covered so much ground that I have enough material for several articles. In this interview, Danny talks about bodybuilding in the 1970's versus bodybuilding in the 90's, the old days at Gold's gym with Arnold and Zane and the greats of that time, and why he feels Arnold could defeat Lee Haney. It makes for interesting reading. Greg Zulak: Let's go back to the greatest disappointment of your career, the 1981 Mr. Olympia contest in Columbus, Ohio, when you were absolutely ripped to shreds. I was at that show and thought that either you, Platz or Callender should have won. Danny Padilla: I've always had bad luck. Something always went wrong. In 1981, I was in my best shape ever and a Weider magazine prints a photo of me saying, "This is how not to look. Don't look like this! " Geez! GZ: I remember talking to a judge after the contest, and when I argued that Franco didn't have any legs at all - as photos from the contest show - he said right to my face, "Legs don't count." So I said, "What about Danny? He was ripped and perfectly symmetrical." The judge said to me, "Well, he was too drawn in the face." I was incredulous. It seemed as if they were bending over backwards to give Franco a break and to ignore his faults while nitpicking with you and Tom and Roy. DP: Yeah, Franco had a bitch tit. He was blocky. He had no leg size or cuts. He was bowlegged. He was everything a Mr. Olympia should not be. The guy trained maybe eight weeks for the contest - and it showed - while guys like Roy Callender and Tom Platz and myself trained for months and months. But you know what really upset me about that show? If you asked the judges about the results after it was all over, they said, "We didn't have Franco to win - we put him second, but he got so many second-place votes that he ended up winning." Fine. But how did Chris Dickerson get second? Not to say that Chris isn't great when he's in shape, but that day he was off. How does he get second? How does a guy like Johnny Fuller not even make the top five? It was a sad day for bodybuilding. Take a guy like Tom Platz. That was his last best show. He was in the finest shape of his life that day and he didn't win. The next year he tore his biceps, and he never again had the opportunity to win the Olympia. GZ: Speaking of Tom reminds me of a funny story regarding Winston Roberts and Garry Bartlett. After the show was over, Winston said, "We couldn't give the title to Tom because his legs were too big," and Garry Bartlett replied, "Yeah, so you gave it to a guy with NO legs." DP: Exactly. Winston Roberts even made the statement that my biceps were not big enough. Okay, fine. At least I had legs. Franco didn't have one cut on his. GZ: I remember reading Weider's Muscle Builder back in the 70's and seeing pictures of you back in California training at the old Gold's Gym with Arnold and Zane and Draper and Waller and all those top bodybuilders. What was that like? DP: I think you'll never have another era like it again. I was blessed to have experienced that because I felt I was training with the best of all time. That's not to say that the guys today aren't great too, because they are - there are a lot of excellent physiques out there - but as far as characters and personality, there was much more to write about back then. It was incredible to have so many great physiques training together in one small gym at one time. If you check out the competition at contests today you'll find four or five really exceptional bodybuilders and that's it. From fifth place on down they have a lot of flaws, even at the Olympia. Back in the 70's we had some great physiques! There was Zane, who was not the heavy type but he was very symmetrical and rock-hard. He had certain weaknesses but he hid them well onstage. You couldn't really recognize them until you saw him in the gym by himself. Then you had Arnold, who was just overpowering, a big over-200 guy with maybe the greatest arms ever. You had Serge Nubret, who was great. He was hard. He was ripped. His legs were a little off, but he was there. Then there was Sergio Oliva, the greatest bodybuilder of all time in my opinion. There were so many great guys then. The list goes on and on. Robby was incredible. Mentzer was great. And you had Callender, Waller, Beckles, Coe, Szkalak, Makkawy, Ferrigno, Birdsong, Draper, Tinerino, Corney, Katz, Van Den Steen, Bill Grant, Paul Grant, Denny Gable . . . Roger Callard. These guys were characters as well as great bodybuilders. There were controversies. Things were happening all the time and people couldn't wait to pick up the magazines every month. GZ: I agree. Back in that period it seemed that bodybuilders, and the sport, had an aura of magic about them. Like Gold's California was some magic place you could never really get to. DP: Exactly. Now there are good bodybuilders all over the world. Great bodybuilders still train at the new Gold's, but the new Gold's isn't anything like the old Gold's. Not at all. Back in the late 60's and 70's everybody went to Gold's to train because it was the place to train. Now you go into the new Gold's and it's like a zoo. It's still good, but it doesn't have the atmosphere or the magic of the old Gold's. In 1975 we were the special elite - the best 10 or 15 guys in the world, period. The old Gold's was much smaller and more intimate. It was a very special place. It was like heaven in bodybuilding. You just had to go there; it drew you to it. It was in this weird area, but it was just awesome. Today, I don't know, it's all so commercialized. We trained for the love of it. And it seems that there are no great characters to write about now. They have to make stuff up or look for bad stuff - this guy is getting a divorce or that guy is beating his wife - because they're so bored with it, whereas back then there was always something interesting and positive to write about. GZ: The effect and influence of Arnold in the gym must have been incredible. DP: Yeah. Arnold had this great aura. When he walked into the gym, it would stop. Same for Sergio. When he walked into the gym they all stopped what they were doing. But you had 10 or 20 guys who were all great and in the gym at once. The energy and atmosphere were electrifying. There was respect for one another and friendship - even when we fought. When it was show time, you went all out to win and beat everyone, but when the contest was over we all sat down as friends. Today you don't have that. the guys today are weird. To me they're out of control. It's just not the same. We stuck together. The group always stuck together. GZ: You were one of the top bodybuilders in the world in the 70's and early 80's. What was the last show you did before your ultimate retirement. DP: Well, I showed up for the 85 Olympia and the 84 Pro Worlds in Toronto, but for me, really, the last show was the 81 Olympia in Columbia. I hit the Olympia in London in 82 (see photo below) also, but my heart just wasn't in it. That was my attitude: I'm going to London to see what it looks like. I went in soft and got crushed. Then I basically disappeared. GZ: Why? DP: I just had no interest in it any more. After the fiasco at the '81 Olympia I just had no more interest in competitive bodybuilding. It was like, if I was this great and I could barely make the top five at the Olympia, then the writing's on the wall. To me, it was time to think about my future, to change my priorities, because I wasn't good enough to make top three at the Olympia. GZ: So what did you do? DP: I just went back to Rochester and worked in the store, and I'd still go to the gym because I love training. I've always trained for me. Even when I did compete I always had the attitude that if I won a show, great, but if I didn't, I still went to the gym for myself. So I continued to train but not as long or as hard. GZ: How did you get the urge to compete again in '89 and '90? DP: When I was about 38 years old, I opened a bodybuilding magazine and flipped through it, because I hadn't even looked at a magazine for six or seven years. Everybody was asking me, "Hey, have you seen this guy? Have you seen so and so? " I'd say, "No, I don't really follow the sport anymore." Then one day I opened this magazine and I remember thinking, "These guys look pretty good," but nobody really impressed me. Lee Haney was this big, overpowering guy over 200 pounds, but to me he had certain flaws, like his arms. Yeah, he's great, but I always look to the under-200-pound guy because I'm a realist. I know I'm not going to walk in and crush Lee Haney. I don't care how great I am. So I tried to pick out lighter guys, like Lee Labrada (photo below), and I wondered how I'd do against him and the other smaller guys in the sport. That got me thinking about trying to compete against these new smaller guys. The main reason I did decide to make my comeback was because of a loudmouthed amateur at my gym. He had won a few small amateur shows, and he was walking around the gym as if he was a four-time Mr. Olympia. One day we got into an argument. He said to me, "Look, you're a nice guy and you were good in your time, but you're old and washed up. You can't possibly beat guys of today." I just walked away, but inside I felt like, "Oh yeah, you think so? Watch this! " So I started training secretly. I said, let me see what I have. I got into tremendous shape, but I told no one that I was going to New York to compete in the 1989 Night of Champions. I went to New York to compete - I know I would have made top five for sure - and they disqualified me for being late for the competitors' meeting. It was really upsetting because I had put in over six months of hard training and preparation for the show. I had paid all my own expenses. And then I was out before the show even started. GZ: How'd you miss the meeting? DP: What happened was we went out to dinner - I hadn't been to New York in a long time - and I made a wrong turn and went eight blocks in the wrong direction. By the time I got back I was out of it. And they gave me no chance to return. It really upset me because I had always been loyal to the IFBB. They had left it in the hands of the competitors and they voted me out. It was sad. GZ: Probably in the old days the competitors would have voted to keep you in. DP: Right. To me it was sad because guys like me made the sport and made it possible for them to compete today. And they just pushed me out as if I was garbage. I felt, this is how the IFBB repays my loyalty? Sure, rules are rules and they have to be followed, but there are exceptions to all rules and I didn't think I had been treated fairly. GZ: It must have really motivated you to want to come back in 1990 for revenge. DP: It created a fire in me that was incredible. It was like, don't worry, pricks. I'll be back next year and I'll sleep at the door if I have to to make the meeting. But I'll be there. So that was a big incentive for me to do well this year. At the same time the bigmouth amateur was back at home telling people that I hadn't really gone to the meeting because I really didn't want to compete, that I was afraid to compete. You know, "He was scared of the guys so he showed up late on purpose." Stuff like that. So that fired me up, too. I got crazy. Everyone knew I was back then because I was training like a madman. Then I had a buddy who phoned me after the show wanting to get together and train with me again. His name is Rick Benedetto, and he was a very good amateur 'way back. He had surgery on one knee, he was expecting to have surgery on the other knee and he had a torn biceps to boot. He said to me, "Why don't we train together and see what you're made of? " So here we were training together, one guy who was supposed to be too old and another guy who was half crippled. I trained for the Niagara Falls Grand Prix and he trained for the amateur Niagara show. I took second after not competing for over five years, and he took third in his class after not competing for about 15 years. GZ: Why didn't you go to the Olympia? Were you burned out? DP: I didn't go to the Olympia because, in all honesty, after the 81 Olympia I took a vow never to enter it again. Of course, a lot of people said it was because of the drug testing but that wasn't it at all. I could have got around that by just backing up a few months before the show. After the 81 Olympia I vowed that I would never put myself in that position again. I gave up too much for 81. To get jostled around to fifth place, to get beaten by a guy with no legs and a bitch tit who only trained eight weeks, it was like, "If that's what the Olympia is about, I don't want any part of it." GZ: You said before that in your opinion Sergio Oliva was the greatest of all time. DP: Sergio, to me, pound for pound, muscle for muscle, was the greatest bodybuilder of all time. I don't care what anybody says. Arnold was the greatest inspiration and a great spokesperson for bodybuilding, and he was close to Sergio, but I give Sergio the nod physically. He was just so incredible at his best. I really don't think there will ever be anything like Sergio again. GZ: You told me once a few years ago that you thought Arnold at his best could beat Lee Haney. DP: Yes, I still believe that. Arnold was the type of guy whose physique looked great in the magazines, but you didn't really appreciate it as much until you saw him in person. He had an incredible physique. When Arnold hit a double biceps pose from the back you couldn't touch it. His most muscular, you couldn't touch that either. And his legs, people say his legs were weak, but his calves were amazing and when he flexed his thighs they were there all the way. At his best, Arnold was untouchable. Lee Haney has an awesome thick chest and back, but to me his arms are weak, especially his biceps. His calves could be brought up more and he sometimes is a little soft in the low back and abs. I respect him and he is awesome, but look what he is beating today. Everybody talks about Mike Christian, but his legs are weak. Labrada's too small. Gaspari (photo below) is hard but boxy. Nearly all the top guys today have some flaws. There's nobody out there today who blows my mind the way Sergio did. In the old days Sergio was absolutely incredible. He didn't even have to pose, didn't even have to move, and he looked awesome. When he threw his arms up and the light hit him just right he was huge and hard. He was just awesome. Arnold and Sergio were like cartoon characters. They looked so unreal at their best. Serge Nubret - his upper body was amazing. A lot of people just don't realize. Rick Wayne (see photo below) back in his time was truly outstanding. Dave Draper - equally impressive. His legs were a bit weak but his upper body - magnificent! These guys had incredible bodyparts. I haven't seen much of that today. I look in the magazines, and I don't think it's because I'm getting older - I still have the eye, I still appreciate what I see - but it just doesn't make my jaw drop the way some of those guys did back then. GZ: The thing that I've noticed is that when I was a kid, I'd see pictures of Arnold and Draper squatting together, and they'd be doing sets with four plates, and they looked so impressive at the time. That was a really heavy weight and only bodybuilders of their caliber could handle it, but now you can go into any hardcore gym across North America and find a dozen guys with half their development squatting four plates and sometimes a lot more. DP: Yeah, you squat only four plates today and you're a wimp. You know, a lot of it is all the stuff these kids are on that allows them to do it that quickly. People come up to me and say, "How can you still look halfway decent at your age? " How? Because my body was built with a background. I had probably 15 years of solid training before I ever messed with the game, whereas a lot of kids today don't even want to walk into a gym unless they've got a bag full of stuff. For a lot of them their attitude is, unless I'm on steroids there's no sense training. We trained for the love of it. Danny Padilla Training Workout Routine (1977) Danny Padilla used the same basic workout for years. This was the workout he did for six weeks in 1977. During most of the year Danny trains 4 to 6 days a week. He always follows the same split. Day 1: Chest and Back Day 2: Shoulders and Arms Day 3: Legs Repeat If he misses a workout, which he often does, he doesn’t worry about it, he just does that workout when he returns to the gym. During this time he does 2 to 3 exercises per body-part for 5 sets of 12 reps. Danny uses the same weight in each set. When he can get 12 reps on all 5 sets, he’ll add weight during the next workout. His rest between sets is short. No longer than a minute. Even though the volume is high Danny completes these workouts in just over an hour… This is another way of keeping the intensity high which was taught by Vince Gironda, Bill Pearl and other great trainers of “the golden era” of bodybuilding. Chest and Back Bench Press: 2-3 warm-up sets then 5 X 12 Incline Bench Press: 5 X 12 Flys: 5 X 12 Dumbell Pullovers: 5 X 12 Chins: 5 X 12 Bent Barbell Rows: 5 X 12 Cable Pull-ins: 5 X 12 Once a week he does Deadlifts: 5 X 12 Shoulders and Arms Seated Presses: 2 warm-ups then 5 X 12 Supersetted with Cable Laterals: 5 X 12 Dumbbell Rear Delt Raises: 5 X 12 Front Raises OR Upright Rows: 5 X 12 Dumbell Curls: 5 X 8 Barbell Curls: 5 X 8 Concentration Curls OR Preacher Curls: 5 X 8 Lying Triceps Extensions: 5 X 12 Seated Overhead EZ Bar Extensions: 5 X 12 Pushdowns OR One Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extensions: 5 X 12 Legs & Abs Leg Extensions: 5 X 12 Squats: 5 X 12 Leg Presses: 5 X 12 Lying Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Calf Raises: 5 X 12 Donkey Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Seated Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Crunches or Leg Raises: 5 X 20 Contest Training Volume on body part is raised 20 sets per bodypart. Weeks 12-7 body parts are trained twice a week. During weeks 6-0 each body part is trained three times a week. Danny gains size right up to the day of the contest even on this high volume, high frequency routine. Weeks 12 to 7 Monday and Thursday -- Chest and Back Bench Press: 2-3 warm-up sets then 5 X 12 Incline Bench Press: 5 X 12 Fly’s: 5 X 12 Cable Fly’s: 5 X 12 Chins: 5 X 12 Bent Barbell Rows: 5 X 12 Cable Pull-ins: 5 X 12 Pulldowns: 5 X 12 Once a week he does Deadlifts 5 X 12 Tuesday and Friday -- Shoulders and Arms Seated Presses: 2 warm-ups then 5 X 12 Supersetted with Cable Laterals: 5 X 12 Dumbbell Rear Delt Raises: 5 X 12 Front Raises: 5 X 12 Upright Rows: 5 X 12 Dumbell Curls: 5 X 8 Barbell Curls: 5 X 8 Concentration Curls: 5 X 8 Preacher Curls: 5 X 8 Lying Triceps Extensions: 5 X 12 Seated Overhead EZ Bar Extensions: 5 X 12 Pushdowns: 5 X 12 One Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extensions: 5 X 12 Reverse Curls: 5 X 12 Wrist Curls: 5 X 12 Wednesday and Saturday – Legs -- Abs Leg Extensions: 5 X 12 Squats: 5 X 12 Leg Presses: 5 X 12 Hack Squats: 5 X 12 Lying Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Donkey Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Seated Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Crunches: 5 X 20 Leg Raises: 5 X 20 Weeks 6 – 0 Workouts are the same as above, rest between sets is shortened but days are split like this: Monday, Wednesday, Friday (Morning) -- Chest, Back Monday, Wednesday, Friday (Evening) -- Quads, Hamstrings Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (Morning) -- Shoulders, Arms Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (Evening) -- Calves, Abs
  3. The Gigantic Arms of Bill Pettis By Joe Weider The greatest bodybuilders in the world pass through the portals of Weider’s Woodland Hills establishment. The lavish appointment of this modern installation is reflected in the great human products that complement it. Massive muscle in repose lends a scenic treat matched only by the magnificent Santa Susana Mountains facing the broad, glass front. Attempts at conservative tailoring fail as muscle spills over. Shirt sleeves are carefully split to accommodate burgeoning biceps. You gape in awe at the likes of Arnold, Waller, Gable or a Paul Grant. You never saw such muscle. Never, that is, until the advent of Bill Pettis. Nothing causes as much commotion as the gigantic arms of Bill Pettis. You have to look twice to make sure they are arms and not two other people with him. Not many people can stifle their curiosity about such ponderous muscle and the most sophisticated observer finds himself asking the usual question: “What do your arms measure, Bill? ” Would you believe 23 1/4 inches? That’s how big he had them four years ago, weighing 230 pounds. That was pumped, after he had done 100 sets of arm work. In those days he worked his arms all day long. They would stay big like that for two or three days. Bill has gotten conservative now and keeps his arm at 21 1/2 cold. It pumps to 22 1/2. He no longer spends all day on arm work, having to cut it down to 1 1/2 hours three times a week. That alone, causes the layman bodybuilder to gulp, realizing his whole workout is that long. Compounding the incredulity of it all are the amounts of weight Bill uses on arm work. Generally noncommittal, when he starts to talk about it, you hear the poundages coming across in a soft voice that has all the innocence of a falling barometer on a balmy night. You’re not sure you heard it straight when he says he does standing triceps curls with 315 pounds on the bar. How can triceps handle that much weight like that? His do, and that’s a fact. It always comes as a shock when you hear how some guys go far astray of the orthodox methods of development, the venerable tried and proven principles, to develop incredible muscle and strength. The great Paul Anderson (1932 - 1994) was one of those backyard strongmen. He dug a trench (see photo below) so he could get under his ponderous, immovable squat bar. Often great feats are accomplished in silence. When applause tore the air over 21-inch biceps on the world’s posing platforms, here’s an unknown man silently carving out a biceps over two inches bigger than any of them anywhere. They are muscular biceps also. The credit is misapplied in referring to them as biceps, however. Despite the immense ball of the biceps muscle itself on Bill’s arm, the greater portion of the mass lies in the triceps. Where his biceps peaks like a 30-foot wave, his triceps curves downward like the underbelly of a giant shark. The arm under flexion seems to loom. It negates comprehension. The forearms are equally massive with cables of muscle extending from the elbow to wrist. Straight out they measure 15 3/4, in a “goose-neck”, 16 1/2. The average bodybuilder fights hard to get his flexed upper arm that big. Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, of humble origin, he grew to be resourceful. He got into weight training by making bells out of 25-pound cinder blocks. He worked out with them for a better part of a year back in 1960. He wanted to build his strength for other sports. He became a devastating high school athlete. In football he made All City and All League as a guard. In baseball he pitched. When he was on, he could strike out 12 men in a game. A moment’s reflection makes you wonder where he went astray. YOU see those massive arms, the tremendous potential, and you imagine him as a big league pitcher. He obviously had speed and control, looking at his high school strikeout record. With his easy, quiet manner, and geared-down movements you suspect it’s deliberate, an attempt not to startle with all that overpowering size. But, he’s got a primitive speed. He ran the 100-yard dash in 10 seconds. He landed in a small college, but economics and a family that needed his support at home forced him to quit. What has been professional baseball or football’s loss has been bodybuilding’s gain. Like many other great potential athletes he got hooked on the private challenge of bodybuilding. Only someone who has tried it can understand the powerful attraction. The bodybuilding ranks are full of former great athletes. Guys like Ken Waller and Roger Callard left careers in football to take up muscle building. Now 28 years old, Bill recalls 20 years ago when he cold flexed a pretty good little biceps. That he possessed natural muscle potential leaves no question. Only a natural could curl 220 pounds six reps. That’s what he does today – and a whole lot more. Listen to this arm workout: Barbell Cheat Curl: 5 sets; 6 reps, 220 lbs. Scott Bench Curl: 5 sets; 6 reps, 160 lbs. Barbell Curl: Strict: 5 sets; 6 reps, 180 lbs. Triceps Pushdown: 5 sets; 6 reps, 150 lbs. Standing Triceps Press: 7 sets of 225 lbs for 6 reps; 275 lbs for 3 sets of 6 reps; 315 lbs for 3 sets of 4 reps. Parallel Bar Dips: 4 sets, 25 reps. Reverse Triceps Push-ups: 6 to 8 sets, 50 reps, No weight. A look at the program makes it evident that the triceps gets the major share of the work. The greater part of the muscle volume of the upper arm lies in the triceps. Bill recognized that fact and trained hard on triceps. As a result his arm shows perfect balance, both biceps and triceps developed to the fullest. The biceps in recent years has gotten favored treatment because it’s a showcase muscle. As a result the arms of some superstars show lagging development in the triceps. Bill uses a medium grip with all the barbell movements. He follows the Weider “Quality” training technique and rests only a minute between sets, slightly long, perhaps, but that’s because he works heavy with low forced reps. The Scott Bench curl (photo above) gives him the low, wide biceps. He uses the straight bar on the Triceps Pushdown (photo below), keeping the elbows tight against the sides, raises the bar to the chin, and pushes down until the elbows lock. He does no partial movements in any exercises. The Standing Triceps Press is his forte. The bulk of his upper arm muscle comes from it. He takes the weight off the squat rack and jerks it overhead to start the exercise. He lowers the bar to the shoulders and immediately drives it to arms length overhead with triceps alone. He can work up to a single rep with 340. He follows that with weightless push-ups, doing several sets that total up to hundreds of reps. In this way he can literally flush gallons of blood through the great muscle mass and get an extreme pump. He has done as many as 3000 push-ups in a workout, which took him something like five hours. He doesn’t get into these drawn out affairs these days. He doesn’t need to. Though he works his upper arms three days a week, he works his forearms every day. He does 10 sets of wrist curls over a bench, five sets regular, five sets reverse. Forearms, like calves, must be worked every day for growth, a fact many bodybuilders aren’t totally aware of. His main advice to the beginning bodybuilder who wants total arm development is the necessity of working the triceps to the fullest. This means at least twice as much as the biceps. If it is neglected in the beginning, it never seems to catch up fully. It will be worth the development when one gets into competition. With recent emphasis on five or six meals a day, Bill gets along on only two. His food intake is not excessive, amounting to three or four eggs a day with bacon, steak, fish, fowl, fruits and vegetables. Earlier in the game when he was striving for size he would eat 25 pancakes at a sitting, but he stopped doing that. He supplements his diet with protein, yeast and liver tablets. Bill’s development is heartening to those who refuse to take steroids. He has never taken any synthetic anabolics. Aside from the cost, he has preferred to be cautious, and has proved you can get ultimate muscle mass and cuts without it. In fact, he aims to compete with and beat those bodybuilders who happen to be heavy into muscle building drugs. No one would question the validity of his aim. With no great effort to develop other lifts, Bill does a commendable bench press with 475 lbs and a squat with 620 lbs. One could easily foresee records falling if he cared to convert his great potential for muscle building into powerlifting. He trains with his friend Bill Grant at Gold’s Gym. The powerful, iron-clan look of Chuck Sipes offer Bill the style and ideal he prefers. He intends to make it work for him. He wouldn’t mind winning Mr. America. Bill’s mighty arms excites the professional wrist-wrestlers, but he will have no part of it. He likes his bodybuilding. If he were to injure an elbow by some remote chance, his bodybuilding hopes would disappear. He’s happy the way he is. He’s due to find his niche in the world of muscle. He’s got the look of a legend. It’s a timeless quality. After all, how many guys got arms that big? This ad appeared in the November 82 Ironman… NOTE from Strength Oldschool: I hope you have enjoyed reading this classic bodybuilding article on Bill Pettis. Because this is a Joe Weider Article, I wouldn't fully believe the claims of Bill Pettis's Arm Measurements or Strength Stats. I'm sure he did have impressive arms as can be seen from the photos, but I highly doubt they were even close to 23 inches! As for his strength levels in the gym, who knows? Unfortunately Bill (1946 - 2016) has now passed away and the following footage may shock some fans. If anyone has stories on Bill, please share them below. Thank you. RIP Bill Pettis Farewells from fans.... Royal's mom wrote: The Spy wrote: unknownbillionaire wrote: Dilraj Shergill wrote: Jack Horgan wrote: Antoine King wrote: Betty Boop wrote: Peters World wrote: Gustavo wrote: Betty Boop wrote in response to Gustavo: NeftyN3f wrote: Betty Boop wrote in response to NeftyN3f: If anyone would like to share stories on Bill Pettis and provide facts regarding his life, eating habits and training, please do so by responding to this article. Great article on Bill.
  4. World renowned Wrestler, "Superstar" Billy Graham, real name Wayne Coleman, can be seen curling two very heavy Dumbbells, showing off a FANTASTIC set of arms. Born on 7 June, 1943, in Phoenix, Arizona, he eventually grew to a height of 6ft 4, weighing around 275 lbs. Its well documented that back in 1968, he trained along side Dave Draper, Franco Columbu and Arnold Schwarzenegger at Gold's Gym, in Santa Monica. How Strong was Coleman? He was able to bench press 605 lbs, when the current world record was 616 lbs, held by Powerlifting Legend, Pat Casey. In 1980, Coleman bulked up to 325 lbs and competed in the World's Strongest Man contest. He finished 5th losing to the Strength Legend, Bill Kazmaier. Billy Graham can be followed and contacted on his Facebook page. Books, DVD's and Action Figures of "Superstar" Bill Graham can be purchased here.

    © Strength-Oldschool.com

  5. Lou Ferrigno; better known as The Incredible Hulk; goes through light workout with Olympic silver medalist Angela Bailey yesterday. The 6-foot-4; 255 pound Ferrigno was on hand for the official opening of Gold's Gym in Mississauga. Year: 1984

    © Strength-Oldschool.com

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