09 June 2018

[Full Fucking Redux] Baddest Motherfuckers Ever- Chuck "Wrath Of The Natty Axe Giant" Sipes

[This is a complete rewrite of my ancient Chuck Sipes article- the guy was such a fucking beast he deserves a fittingly brutal treatment, and given my penchant for writing about the lifters of the 1950s and 1960s of late, it seemed fitting to just blow away the old article and erect a massive monument to Sipes in its place.]

Over the last couple of articles I have joked about the near-mythical status of the badasses of the 1950s and 1960s, all of whom made insanely heavy lifts commonplace by taking every single modern truism about lifting, dumping it in the fucking trash, and deciding that the solution to every problem in the weight room is more food and harder training.  An anathema to the broke dick, science-tastic, weak-as-fuck "evidence based" lifters of the modern era who have deluded themselves into thinking that aping the methods of the successful is preposterous, the lifters of the mid-20th Century actually succeeded in the weight room by applying a little observation and introspection and a fuckton of effort.

One such lifter is Chuck "The Iron Warrior" Sipes, a paratrooper / lumberjack / powerlifter / bodybuilder / proto-Bear Grylls.  More hardcore than one of the kill scenes in I Spit On Your Grave 3, Sipes managed to rock one of the top three physiques in the world while benching 570lbs and working 12 hours a day slaughtering trees like they were hymens after the prom.  Though the Olympia title eluded him like he was an ICE agent chasing Dan Akroyd across the US in a eerily precognizant social commentary on American isolationism, Sipes managed to snag the 1959 IFBB “Mr. America”, the 1960 IFBB “Mr. Universe”, the 1967 NABBA “Mr. World”, and the 1968 IFBB “Mr. World”, while natty as fuck and  out-benching every single person on the planet not named Pat Casey (who, incidentally, outweighed Sipes by 135 lbs.)

Alright- he might not have been more brutal than this, but he was in the conversation.

Now, I realize that the nickname upon which I bestowed Sipes is not the one I just used, but in performing a retrospective on the man's life, I think "Wrath Of The Axe Giant" is far more fitting than the "Iron Warrior", as the former is the pastiche of the title and subtitle of a spectacularly bad Paul Bunyan-themed horror movie in which "somebody takes one of the cave trolls from Lord of the Rings, stuffs him into a bunch of flannel and hands him a giant axe, and then sets him loose on a group of assorted degenerates on a maximum-security prison field trip to singalong/labor camp in the Minnesota woods" (Neil).  Given that Sipes was a fucking monster, worked in a youth prison, was a tree serial killer by trade, and routinely took at-risk youth into the woods for survivalist and general primeval badassery training, "Wrath of the Axe Giant" fits like a Tijuana hooker onto a donkey cock.

Chuck Sipes was apparently conceived with the grip strength that later served him so well as a strongman, and he literally just grabbed fistfuls of his mother's uterus and ripped her abdomen open, forcing himself into the world in a Chuck Norris-esque manner in late 1932.  In spite of the brutal manner by which Sipes birthed himself, he grew up a somewhat scrawny kid.  As he wanted to play high school football like any other red-blooded, commie-hating, steak-loving American boy, he enlisted the aid of his neighbor, weightlifting equipment luminary Chuck Coker (who later founded Universal Equipment Company). 

The closest thing we have to an image of the moment of Chuck Sipes' birth.

Utilizing the techniques he learned from Coker, Sipes became a beast on the football field and after graduation joined the US Army as a paratrooper.  In a bizarre effort to demonstrate the fact that the only person who could kill Chuck Sipes was Chuck Sipes, he found himself tangled with another trooper during a practice drop when he chute didn't open, and then free-fell 70 feet to the ground.  Though he steadfastly refused to die, Sipes was stuck in the hospital for four month recuperating from grievous head injuries.  Upon receiving a medical discharge in 1952, Sipes went home with a headful of epilepsy and depression and the brass fucking balls of a man who could free fall out of an airplane without a parachute and not only live to tell the tale, but go onto be one of the greatest bodybuilders of the golden era and the greatest drug-free 220lb bencher of all time.

Chuck Sipes' Vital Statistics
Height: 5'9½"
Weight: 220 lbs.
Arms: 19 ½" (relaxed)
Chest: 50"
Waist: 32"
Thighs: 25 ½"
Calves: 18"
Forearms: 18"

Because the concept of a "natural genetic limit" had not yet been set, Chuck Sipes went about his business in happy ignorance of the "facts" the evidence-based fuckwits spreading their specious claims across the internet like cancer.  Training with Mr. Universe Bill Pearl, Sipes set his sights on being the greatest bodybuilder to ever live, though he didn't give two shits about posing and spent the vast majority of his time heaving huge weights around like toddler throwing his toys during a tantrum.  In spite of that fact, he racked up an impressive number of wins, including pulling down the “Mr. Pacific Coast” title at the ripe old age of 41.

Notice that headline, natty bros?  You guys might want to stop paying attention to those stupid fucking genetics limits charts.  The only reason for consulting for examining those entirely specious charts (which I'll cover in a subsequent article) is because you're looking for an excuse to be small and weak.

Unlike modern lifters, who possess all of the personality of a wax replica of Ben Stein, the depth of a spilled shot of vodka, and the varied interests of autistic trapped in a stairwell, Chuck Sipes didn't just lift weights and stare at himself in the mirror.  He organized the American Bodybuilding Club in the 1960's, which was practically free to join, and gave exhibitions and lectures on the benefits of fitness and recreational sports.  After he hung up his posing trunks, Chuck volunteered with crippled and retarded kids, which is impressive because he was not too far removed from a time when humanity either euthanized them or stuffed them in the basement of a mental institution until some shitbird doctor wanted to torture, lobotomize, or starve them to death.  

It's not every day you see the second biggest bencher on the planet bending rebar in half wearing nothing but an adult diaper and a peace medallion.

As if that wasn't enough do-goodery and well-roundedness, Sipes also painted a shitload of Western landscapes and 19th century mountain men.  He also took teenage criminals on on week-long trips into the mountains to teach them to rely on teamwork for survival, presaging the spate of horrible reality television American women would come to watch 30 years later.   In spite of all that and his hyper-enthusiastic faith in the Christians' corpse god, Chuck Sipes apparently had enough of the seizures and depression stemming from his head injuries and hung it up on February 24, 1993, at the age of 61.  Ever the badass, Sipes was buried in buckskins, just like Davy Crockett would have been if Mexican soldiers hadn't scattered and defiled his remains out of bitterness that they suck at war harder than channers suck at lifting.

"According to [Chuck's best friend] Norm, Chuck began his competitive bodybuilding career unwillingly.  Chuck Coker recalls that when Sipes was a lifting competitor in his junior college days in Modesto, there was one occasion when a physique contest was held in connection with the lifting. Chuck’s buddies on the team filled out an entry form to the physique contest, then informed Chuck that he had to get up on stage and pose. He said no at first, but then did sort of a stroll across the stage and hit a few poses" (Roark). 
Chuck Sipes' Contest History
1958 Mr. Northern California 1st
1958 Jr. Mr. America 3rd (Western section)
1958 Mr. America 9th
1959 IFBB Mr. America 1st
1960 IFBB Mr. Universe 1st
1966 Mr. Olympia 3rd (won by Larry Scott)
1967 Mr. Olympia 2nd (won by Sergio Oliva)
1967 NABBA World Championships 1st
1968 Mr. Northern California 1st
1968 IFBB Mr. World 1st (The Mr. Olympia was held the same day, and had also taken time to perform strongman stunts.)
1970 IFBB Mr. Universe 2nd medium class (Overall won by Arnold)
1974 Mr. Pacific Coast 1st (over-40 class)

Chuck Sipes' Best Lifts
Bench press: 570 lbs. 
Squat: 600 lbs. 
Standing Barbell Curl: 250 lbs. 

Word is that Chuck Sipes was so hot he never even had to get into the shower- women would just squirt spontaneously when he walked by, and he sensibly figured that was good enough.

Yes, yes- get on with how this superhuman maniac trained, right?  The man was a goddamn bulldozer, crushing weights all fucking day long, breaking hearts and spines all the live-long day.  According to Dennis Weis, Sipes believed in training often, training heavy, and doing a shitload of supports and partials do build sick tendon and ligament strength.  To determine the proper exercises and his set and rep range, Sipes treated lifting like a blind man does an orgy (he just feels it out) and examined the effect of the exercises in previous workouts to determine the best combination of movements to achieve his goals.   Sipes believed that he could feel out a good workout, rather than following a set regime in which he followed a system of glacial, unrelentingly boring, counter-intuitive, artificial, incremental progression based on the half cocked theories of geographically distant Communists.  Additionally, like any rational, thinking person with a belief in biology, the theory of specialized adaptation, and a general belief in the theory of evolution, Sipes said, "whenever I specialize on a body part, my stamina and endurance improve remarkably. In this way, the muscle ache and tightness I spoke of subsides quickly and in this way, there is less rest between sets" (Weis Power).

This led Sipes, even while training for strength, to rest between sets "only momentarily, probably less than 10 seconds. On most regular type exercise schedules, my rest periods between sets are around 20 to 30 seconds and no more."  Additionally, he followed a super-intense split, in which he trained two to three times a day, six days a week.  There was no retarded Stuart McRobert-loving whining about how he had bad genetics, or a Mentzer-esque love for abstaining from the gym in deference to the library and methamphetamines, wherein he would have spent countless hours misinterpreting an extremely simple subset of Russian philosophy, or an incessant screeching about the need for layoffs and deloads, but rather a dedication to busting his ass on the exercise on which he wanted to get very, very good.  

Even in his 50s, Sipes looked like a fucking golden god with his shirt off.

In spite of his nearly psychotic dedication to training, Sipes wasn't above heading off into the woods with up-and-coming teenage criminals, with friends, or by himself for a week or more at a time.  Giving exactly zero fucks about his diet or how it would impact his latest round of a terrible cookie-cutter Russian routine, Chuck would just forge out into the woods and have a good time. 

"Norm recalls trips into the mountains and workouts involving cables, which would be tied around trees and then stretched in various exercises.  Their conversations around campfires on such outings were the underpinnings of a lifelong friendship, and now, when Norm speaks of Chuck, it is with warmth, love, respect, and bewilderment as to what changed Chuck’s outlook later in life.  After a month in the woods, Chuck’s bodyweight often decreased by 15 to 20 pounds, and Norm remembers the amazing transformation Chuck could undergo in regaining the lost weight and muscle. He simply ate more and lifted. No drugs" (Roark).  
A message to everyone who thinks the bench is pointless- every sopping pair of panties generated by this photo would care to disagree.

If nothing else, Chuck Sipes should stand as an example of how to approach training- with an open mind and zero fucks given.  His method was essentially a weightlifting paean to Bruce Lee's philosophy of amalgamating the most effective fighting styles into his own, and a nod to everyone whose ever thrown anything they could find in the fridge and cupboard into a pot and unwittingly produced the best fucking chili anyone ever ate.  Additionally, it's not unlike the Paleo crossfitter who buys a burger and tosses the bun- there's something to be learned from just about everybody, and no one's above analyzing the greats from any sport to help propel themselves to a semblance of that greatness.  

That said, here are some of the methods Sipes employed over the course of his career (and those methods were fucking legion).

Chuck Sipes' Power Routine

Back Squat – 6, 6, 4, 4, 2, 2
Bench Press – 6, 6, 4, 4, 2, 2
Conventional Deadlift – 6, 6, 4, 4, 2, 2,
Shrug – 4 x 8
Cheat Curl – 4 x 6
Preacher Curl – 5 x 10
Situp – 3 x 20
Leg Raise – 4 x 15
Overhead Press – 5 x 6
Incline DB Flye – 3 x 8
Calf Raise – 4 x 20

Heavy 1/4 Bench Press – 5 x 8 
Heavy 1/4 Back Squat, (no lockout, 50-100lb over your max squat)   5 x 8  
Stiff Legged Deadlift off Bench or Box (bodybuilding-style deficits) –  5 x 4 
Chins –  6 x 6
Dips –  5 x 8
Lying French Press – 5 x 8

Incidentally, Sipes recommended trying for max on the powerlifts every two months, and added weight whenever possible to his training weights to facilitate progress.

Chuck Sipes' Bench Routine

Of all of Sipes' routines, this is the one in which we all are likely most interested, because Sipes' bench was fucking insane.  True to form, this routine is not for the faint of heart, fans of Rippetoe or anything with "Starting" in the title, Channers, or the vast majority of Redditors, because it involves no equivocation, stupid selfies, or whining.  Chuck did this fucking lunacy for six straight months prior to a meet and was what gave him a flat backed, 2 second pause on the chest, 570lb competition bench press.

Monday / Wednesday
Bench Press – 2 x 10 (warmup); 2 x 6; 2 x 4; 2 x 2; 4  x 1

Tuesday / Thursday
Heavy Supports – 5 x 8 (100 lbs. over best press from ¼ way down to lockout)
Bench Press – Close to maximum poundage.
Heavy Supports – 150 lbs. over best press, holding with a slight elbow bend.
Bench Press – close to maximum poundage.

Incline Press (wide grip, slow reps) – 4 x 6.
Dumbell Incline Press (slow reps) – 4 x 6.
Pullovers (very light weight, deep breaths following 1 minute jumping rope) – 2 x 20
Flat Flyes (very deep breaths) – 4 x 8.

Chuck Sipes' Alternate Bench Routine

This routine was done three times a week to bring the bench up quickly or to prepare for a meet.

Speed Bench – 6 sets of 10. Use a light weight and accelerate the bar from the chest as rapidly as possible.
Ultra-heavy Negative Bench Press – 4 × 8. Fight weight slowly to chest. Use about 100 lbs. over best lift.
Supports (Hold supramaximal weight at lockout)– 6 x 10 seconds 

Sipes had some seriously big quads and upper arms at 220, but his calves and forearms were the really fucking ridiculous sections of his limbs.

Chuck Sipes' Squat Routine
Full Squat – 2 x 8 (warmup); 2 x 6: 2 x 4; 2 x 2; 2 x 1
Quarter Squat – 6 x 10
Leg Press – 8 x 6

Interestingly, Chuck Sipes and I arrived at the same solution for getting stuck in the hole on squats.  Great minds and all that, it seems.

"Chuck recommended incorporating jumping squats with a barbell of a dumbbell in each hand, using a light weight. He mentioned 4 sets of 10 reps. The last 2 reps should feel hard but you should still be able to spring up forcefully. When you can do 8 out of 10 reps the weight is probably just right. When you achieve 10 proper reps it is time to add 20 lbs. to the squat bar or 10 lbs. to each dumbbell. This exercise will build the initial driving power" (Weis Power). 

Chuck Sipes' Forearm Routine

Guaranteed to turn your hands into immobile claws for a couple of weeks, this brutal routine is what resulted in Sipes' insane 18" forearms... along with a hell of a lot of chopping wood.  How the man managed to do both is a mystery for the ages, because a day of swinging an axe alone is enough to reduce most humans to a pile of blubbering bullshit, and this dude did both.

Reverse Curl (slowly) – 4 x 8

DB Wrist Forearm Curl (off knee)  4 × 15
Cable or Pulley Reverse Curl – 4 × 12
Rubber Ball Squeeze, Newspaper Roll-up, etc.

Chuck Sipes' Ab Routine

Though Sipes was something of a mass monster for his era and an absolute life-ruiner on the bench, even Zabo Koszewski envied the man's abs.  When following this program, this indefatigable tree-slaughtering maniac would do the following twice a day for the first six months and then there times a day the second half of the year.  The man trained so hard peoples' eyes bleed just reading this fucking insanity, but it's one more reminder that we're all a pack of pussies by comparison to lifters of yesteryear.

Not even the rage virus will have you ready for this insanity.
"I feel that SPEED OF MOVEMENT in abs training is the KEY to ZENITH development in the abdominal region. I always tried to CONCENTRATE on rapid, quick movements with continuous tension and flexing in the movements of waist work. I might mention that that I didn’t sacrifice strictness of movement in the exercises. The speed of movement is obtained over a period of many months while on this SPECIAL program. The increased speed of movement per rep doesn’t happen in the first month of training. From what I have observed from my many travels and training with many bodybuilders, most don’t concentrate on this speed of movement in their abs programs" (Weis Power).
Incline Situps – 2 x 25 
Incline Situps (25lb plate behind head) – 2 x 8 at each position on a 7 run incline board.
Front Bends – 2 x 50 (done with a stick or bar held behind the neck, he would expel all the air from my lungs and bend forward to a parallel position to the floor)
Side Bends – 2 x 50 (done with a stick or bar held behind the neck, bending from side to side in a rapid succession, touching the elbows to the sides)
Incline Board Leg Raises (with iron boots for resistance) – 4 x 8.
Stomach Vacuums – 4 x 8. 

Chuck Sipes' Shape and Size Arm Routine

As with every other bodypart, Sipes had a lot of different methods for training his gigantic arms, each one crazier than a bunny in a blender on Easter morning.  Interestingly, Chuck had extremely different methods for training his arms based on what he was doing- when it was for shape and size, he focused on biceps, but as you'll see in the power section, triceps were his focus in training for pressing power.  In his own words:

"Many bodybuilders say the triceps is first in arm importance, saying it is the largest muscle in the arm. I rank the triceps last on my list. Why? An unimpressive, large but droopy and poorly shaped arm is not what I want. Besides, the triceps are not as important in my strength feats. 
With the triceps last, next up the list with me is forearms. This muscular area of the arms is vital both to appearance - nothing is so unsightly as a big upper arm and a pair of sticks for forearms - and for gripping strength well developed forearms are essential. Every bodybuilder should work the forearms regularly as part of their workouts. I worked in sawmills and lumberjacking when I was younger, and this helped my development and strength quite a bit. 
But, at the top of the list is the biceps area. The better developed and stronger your biceps are, the better off you will be physically. They should be #1 on your arm training list. Therefore, this arm development article will concentrate on developing this area, the biceps" (Sipes Biceps).

Barbell Curl 21's 
7 reps from bottom position to middle position, 
7 reps from middle position to top of movement,
7 full-range reps 
4 sets x 21 reps

Cheat Barbell Curl
16 x 4 (You read that right- sixteen sets of four)
Alternate one set of 21's to each 4 sets of Cheat Curls.

Lying French Press 21's 

Conventional Lying French Press16 x 4

One set of 21's to each 4 sets of regular French presses

Chuck Sipes' Power Arm Routine

Cheat Curls – 5 x 6 - 8 (explosive cheat on the concentric, extremely slow descent on the eccentric portion)
Concentration Curls – 5 x 10 - 12 (Elbow braced on the thigh, one second peak contraction, one second pause fully relaxed at bottom)


Alternating Dumbell Curls – 5 x 6 - 8 (ultra heavy with a slight cheat)
Alternating Incline Curl – 5 x 8 (moderate weight, slow and controlled)
Reverse Barbell Curl – 6 x 6 - 8 

As for the triceps, Sipes thought this was basically the most important accessory work you could do for the bench, and he studied it like most male Redditors study PUA techniques in an effort to get their dick wet before their 50th birthday.
"The history of weight training has proved to be a constant game of hide and seek.  Truant muscles are no longer safe from the prying efforts of modern power lifters.  In the case of the bench press, the triceps, with its natural capacity for development, became suspect when it appeared to be riding on the efforts of the delts and pecs.   
At first, no one could say for sure.  Maybe it was the delts.  So they tried military presses.  they didn't prove to help the bench a great deal.  So they tried parallel dips with plenty of weight.  Pat Casey did them endlessly, dropping to an extremely low position, but they ground up his shoulders, and he stopped.  Extreme range of motion like the military and dip was out; the pecs and delts were out.  That left the triceps" (Sipes Tricep Power 109). 
"Thus comes into being the 'Triceps Power Cheats,' a movement that is spanking the triceps into unprecedented effort and routine [bench press] records up the line.  The movement flanks the regular bench press on the alternate workout of the week in which the bench press and [box squats].  In terms of two workouts a week, Saturday (heavy) and Tuesday, the power cheats fall on Tuesday" (Sipes Tricep Power 112).
The pic I took isn't blurry- the pic of which I took a pic was.

The two exercises Sipes recommended were the Pullover Triceps Cheat and the Power Rack Triceps Lockout.  Done twice a week with one of two methodologies, Sipes and other huge benchers of the time considered these exercises critical for a massive bench.  Depending on your preference, you can use the Bill West style for this or Pat Casey's style- Sipes respected the fuck out of both men and thought both styles had merit.

Pullover Triceps Cheat
(Bill West Method) West would put a folded towel on the bench a few inches over his head and do his pullovers from that point, heaving the weight up over his eyes and then bouncing it off the bench in between reps so he could handle bigger poundages (pictured above top left).  His rep scheme looked like this:
135 - 10
185 - 5 
205 - 5
205 - 1
255 - 6 singles

(Pat Casey Method) Casey was the only human on the planet benching more than Sipes, and he used this method- he'd have the loaded barbell on the floor off the end of the bench, hooks his feet around the supports for stability, starts the movement as a pullover off the floor and continues it as an extension to the top.  Per the picture it looks like a pullover and press, but from the description it sounds like you're using lat strength and momentum to get the bar moving and then finish it like you did a skull crusher from just over the top of your head.
135 - 10
225 - 5
275 - 5
305 - 3
325 - 1
340 - 1
355 - 1
370 - 1
325 - 1
305 - 1
275 - 8

Power Rack Triceps Lockout
(Bill West Method) On an incline bench set at a 60 degree incline, take the barbell out of the rack with a grip about six inches apart and do short range skull crushers from just above your forehead to lockout.  Your upper arm should stay in the same vertical plane as the bar.
135 - 10
150 - 10
170 - 7 x 7

(Pat Casey Method) Casey did these slightly differently, setting the pins in the power rack just above forehead level and pressing off the pins.  He did these quickly, for a pump.
225 - 6 x 7

Seated French Presses (as a high rep burnout)
3 x 10

Of note, Sipes basically thought you were a pink-bitch pussy if you used the cambered bar on tricep work and that you were basically just wasting your fucking time, so give the Olympic barbell a shot for these and see how they work for you.

Chuck Sipes' Diet 

Sipes was not a complicated man- like a lot of wildly successful maniacs, he preferred a simple plan involving a headlong charge into the proverbial teeth of the enemy to a complex strategy with a lot of moving parts.  As such, his diet was so simple even a Trump supporter could follow it, if they could fit the feedings in between tent revivals, denouncing science, and attending Flat Earther conventions. 

"Eat a well-balanced diet of meats, fish, fruits and vegetables. Avoid high-calorie foods such as bread, cake, candy, macaroni products and all foods containing white flour and white sugar. High-calorie foods add fat to your waistline and will make your abdominal training a whole lot tougher than it should be.  [The most important additions to your regular diet are] germ oils, sunflower seeds, papaya, peanuts and lots of milk. 
Drink 3-4 quarts of certified low-fat raw milk each day, a Chuck Sipes favorite for gaining (at least one pint or more with each feeding)" (Weis Huge). 
Never one to follow the same day to day program like a mindless robot hell bent on mediocrity, it's impossible to get a highly accurate depiction of what Chuck ate day to day, but this is a general overview of his daily eating habits.

Meal 1
4 eggs with cheese
Whole-wheat stoneground bread and honey
Wholegrain cereal milk and fruit

Meal 2

Fresh fruit and almonds

Meal 3
Fruit juice
Large salad with sunflower seeds and 2 large whole-wheat peanut butter sandwiches, two classes of milk

Meal 4

Nuts and fruit or his bulk drink, which was:
  • 2 cups milk
  • Protein powder
  • 2 spoonfuls Blackstrap molasses
  • 1 spoonful honey
  • 1 spoonful Ovaltine
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop natural ice cream
Meal 5
Steak or fish with salad and brown rice
Some whole-wheat bread and butter
Tea with honey
And some natural ice cream

Meal 6 (Bedtime)

A glass of fresh juice and sunflower seeds

So, in summary:
  • Chuck was a bad motherfucker
  • He trained around the clock on lifts on which he wanted to improve.  
  • He was strong as a fucking bull moose and took no shit in competition.
  • He was simultaneously ripped to fucking shreds and insanely strong.
Certainly, none of the bitch-made charlatans out there promoting evidence based training would support Sipes' methodology, but none of them could reproduce Sipes' results, either.  That alone should point to the fact that their methodology is flawed, but given the fact I would have a better chance convincing a born-again Christian that Jesus is sharing a bunk bed with the Easter Bunny in hell than convincing a fan of evidence based training that the "facts" they hold so dear are anything but, I suppose I'm just pissing in the wind and calling it rain.  Nevertheless, you ignore the methods utilized by this mythic badass at your peril.  Don't imperil yourself.

In short, if you think you train hard enough, Chuck Sipes and the demon succubi currently blowing him in hell say, "Go fuck yourself, pussy."

I know- Sipes would be pissy about the porn because he followed the Christ-man, but if you're in that crew and you hang yourself, you're signing up for that eternal suntan because Yahweh in his "infinite wisdom" apparently gives zero fucks about CTE.

Duckett, Ian.  Chuck's eating plan.  Old But Strong.  3 Aug 2016.  Web.  6 Jun 2018.  http://oldbutstrong.co.uk/nutrition/chucks-eating-plan

Kelly, Bradley Joe.  Bodybuilding's original superhero: Chuck Sipes.  T-Nation.  2 Nov 2012.  Web.  5 Jun 2018.  https://www.t-nation.com/training/bodybuildings-original-superhero-chuck-sipes

Neil, Garrett and Sean Neil.  Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan.  Something Awful.  7 Dec 2013.  Web.  6 Jun 2018.  https://www.somethingawful.com/movie-reviews/paul-bunyan/1/

Pearl, Bill.  Chuck Sipes- "The iron knight."  Reprint from Legends of the Iron Game.  Bodybuilders Reality.  http://bodybuildersreality.com/chuck-sipes-the-iron-knight/

Roark, Joe.  The Roark Report - Chuck Sipes.  Iron Game History.  1993 May;2(6)20-21.

Sipes, Chuck.  Ab specialization routine.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso ban.  9 may 2014.  Web.  5 Jun 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2014/05/ab-specialization-routine-chuck-sipes.html

Sipes, Chuck.  Biceps development. The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.29 Aug 2009.  Web.  5 Jun 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2009/04/biceps-chuck-sipes.html

Sipes, Chuck.  Put the slant in your abdominal training (1968).  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  5 Feb 2012.  Web.  5 Jun 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2012/02/six-pack-circa-1968-chuck-sipes.html

Sipes, Chuck.  Routines.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  15 Sep 2013.  Web.  5 Jun 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2013/09/chuck-sipes.html

Sipes, Chuck.  Triceps power cheats (1966).  Muscle Builder Magazine.  Reprinted in Forgotten Secrets of the Culver City Westside Barbell Club Revealed by Dave Yarnell.  Lexington: Self Published, 2014.  

Weis, Dennis B. Chuck Sipes on Power Training.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban. 1 Aug 2009.  Web.  5 Jun 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2009/08/chuck-sipes-on-power-training-dennis.html

Weis Dennis B.  Huge and freaky mass concepts!  Gain herculean muscle mass and power fast!  Dennis B. Weis.  Web.  6 Jun 2018.  http://www.dennisbweis.com/Articles/HugeandFreakyMassConcepts.html

    29 May 2018

    Zabo Koszewski Would Like To Remind You That Not Every Lifter In The 1950's Was Fat (And That Partying And Lifting Can Go Hand In Hand)

    I am often asked why I don't write about so-and-so bodybuilder / strongman / powerlifter, and why I seem to ignore anyone who competed after 2000.  The reason for this is simple- lifters in the modern era are so fucking boring that I have to pop ephedrine and slam a Bang just to get through six paragraphs of their endlessly dull, Soviet-factory-worker-esque, grey and beige, do-nothing-but-lift-and-eat, uninteresting lives.  They have all of the personality of a dead carp, all of the intrigue of a Real Housewives episode, the depth of a puddle in the Kalahari, and generally make me wish I could hop in a DeLorean with Marty McFly and fuck off back to 1954, when the chicks looked like Bettie Page and the bros in Muscle Beach were so fucking cool that James Dean looked like a fucking Channer by comparison.

    The lifters of yesteryear, however, were a far different breed- they mixed the fuck out of business and pleasure, competed in a variety of sports, and were generally people you'd want to hang around with, rather than dickheads who would simply slump half dead from drugs in front of you mumbling about training while they morosely masticate whatever bland fare they happened to bring with them in their dumbass wheelie bag cooler fuckery.  Fun is dead in the lifting world, killed by people taking a pastime far too fucking seriously for no reason than they lack the personality to do something interesting with it.

    My man must've gotten more ass than a proctologist's right hand.  That skinny fucker next to him probably got laid just for standing next to Zabo.  Picking up shrapnel still counts as a notch in your belt, people.

    That said, it stands to reason we should investigate the life, training style, and diet of one the most ripped and compelling men in 1950s and 60s Muscle Beach, Irwin "Zabo" Koszewski.  Of all of the guys of whom you’ve likely never heard, Zabo Koszewski should rate pretty highly on your “Holy Shit”-ometer due to his freakish leanness in a time when most guys were softer than a pile of baby shit left out in a light rain on a June day in Bangkok, and respect is due for the fact that he trained and hung out with the aforementioned Steve Merjanian and (likely) Chuck Ahrens, in spite of the fact that he was half as big and ten times as lean as those two.  A fixture of Muscle Beach from 1951 to the end of his life, Koszewski pulled down more “Best Abdominal” awards than anyone in history, likely owing to the fact that he dieted and trained more fanatically than a channer at a gun range before shooting up the local high school (Hise).

    Zabo on the left, showing some of the Gold's Gym crew what the fuck was up with his abs.

    Zabo Koszewski Vital Statistics

    Born: August 20, 1924
    Died: March 29, 2009 (Aged 84)
    Height: 5'10"
    Weight: 170 - 185lbs

    Though Zabo was best known for his insane cuts and his amazing year-round condition, the dude trained so often and so hard that he could still put on a show in the gym, barefoot and in street clothes.  For no other reason than because he could, Zabo was seen more than once snatching and clean and strict pressing 220 lbs, followed by a full clean and split jerk with 270lbs in slacks, a button down shirt, and barefoot, with no warmup. Though that’s not Earth shattering, I highly doubt you can name a non-Olympic weightlifter who weighs 170 - 185lbs and can duplicate that feat... and I would venture to guess that Zabo was spitting game to any chicks within earshot the entire time he was putting on that show.

    Zabo, ripped and ready to fuck shit up like he was in the prequel to Commando in WW2.

    Zabo was nothing if not a showman- the man's life reads like a bucket list for the Dos Equis man.  Former training partner of Arnold and publisher of Iron Man magazine, John Balik, said that even in an era as cartoonishly outlandish as 1960's Muscle Beach, Koszewski "was the embodiment of the spirit of Muscle Beach" (Hise).  Zabo grew in New Jersey, a three sport athlete in high school, although his first love was weightlifting.  After high school, Zabo enlisted in the Army and made three combat landings in WW2, likely running around like Stallone in Rambo II and surviving solely on the basis of his superhumanly shredded physique.  

    "Irwin had been in Guadalcanal when the Japanese overran the place, and he stayed under the water sucking air through a piece of bamboo for several days while the enemy was poking around the water with bayonets.  Irwin managed to dodge the bayonets and get home safely" (Yarnell 205).
    After running out of bad guys to slaughter, Zabo became the valet of the original Nature Boy, Buddy Rogers, wrestling under the name Jungle Boy.  At the same time, Zabo began entering just about every bodybuilding competition in the continental US, destroying the opposition in small shows but losing the bigger ones to that era's mass monsters (the guys who won "Most Muscular" almost never won the overall, and Zabo always walked away with that trophy).

    When Buddy Rogers and Zabo walked into a bar, every guy in there must have considered suicide because there's no way they were getting any ass off a chick within five square miles of those two.

    In the early 1950's Zabo had his fill of greasy Italians and hoagies and headed West, to the mecca of bodybuilding in Santa Monica.  It was there that Zabo blossomed into the Venus-flytrap womankiller with whom at least some of you are familiar.   He trained in the same ultra-hardcore basement gym where Steve Merjanian, Chuck Ahrens, and other lifting luminaries of the era trained, and signed on with the ultra-hot cougar Mae West to work in her male review "Something for the Girls."  He, Joe Gold, Mr. America and Mr. Universe George Eiferman, Mr. America Armand Tanny, Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay, and three other Muscle Beach bodybuilders served as male dancers for the revue, accompanied by a male singer and Hattie McDaniel (Mammy in Gone With The Wind) in what was essentially the hottest Vegas act going in the 1950's.  As such, Zabo was raking in the loot and made connections that would eventually lead to a brief acting career and to him becoming the fucking Marlboro Man in print ads.

    As if the man had not made enough connections by touring with the hottest 60 year old slut on the planet, he got even more hooked into the Hollywood scene when Joe Gold asked him to manage the first strictly bodybuilding gym and a "palace" by comparison to other gyms of the era, Gold's Gym, in 1965 (Roach, Vol. 1).  At that point, Zabo was partying his ass off, drinking like a fucking fish and smoking, in Tommy Chong's words "a ton of weed" (Chong).  When Tommy Chong says he gets after it partying, you know that you are a pink bitch pussy compared to Zabo Koszewski, no matter how much you've partied.

    "Membership is thirty dollars for three months, no instructions, and you can come as many times as you like.  Don't leave your shit unlocked and put the weights back when you are finished with them.  That's it."

    With pussy literally falling out of his pockets, Zabo trained fanatically and managed Gold's (and later World's Gym) by day and partied like a fucking animal at night.  Though the IPF would likely have slapped him with a lifetime ban just for shaking Tommy Chong's hand, Koszewski was still natty as fuck, and maintained that status throughout his life.  Though he talked tough to new members, Zabo was apparently pretty chill at Gold's while nursing what must've been catastrophic hangovers, and he hooked members like Tommy Chong up with basic programs (Chong still uses it to this day) and ran them through the use of equipment to ensure that they didn't kill themselves in the pursuit of maximum jackedness.  It was actually through Zabo's chill demeanor and Animal House-esque party habits that formed a bond between himself and Tommy Chong that landed him a couple of movie roles and eventually had Chong working the desk at World Gym after he was released from prison.

    To say say Zabo was a frequent bodybuilding competitor is like saying "Jeff Bezos frequently makes a million dollars."  From age 23 to 46, Zabo competed in at least 31 bodybuilding competitions, winning "Best Abs" in every competition that awarded the trophy, and "Most Muscular" in most of the rest.  Tragically, winning either of those trophies was like winning an MTV Movie award- it virtually guaranteed that people would take you about as seriously as they take Justin Bieber when it was time to hand out a legitimate award.  With his condition at least two decades before its time, Zabo almost always found himself edged out by fuller, less defined competitors.  Undeterred by small details like not winning, Zabo forged ahead and collected his "Best Abs" trophies like millennials collect STDs.

    "Would you fuck me?  I'd fuck me."

    Zabo Koszewski Competition History

    1947 AAU Mr. New Jersey 4th

    1948 AAU Mr. New Jersey 1st
    1950 AAU Jr. Mr. Middle Atlantic 1st
    1950 AAU Mr. Middle Atlantic 1st
    1950 AAU Mr. America 13th
    1950 IFBB Mr. Eastern America 3rd
    1951 AAU Mr. Strength and Health 2nd
    1951 AAU Jr. Mr. America 4th
    1951 AAU Mr. Eastern America 3rd
    1952 AAU Mr. Superman 4th
    1952 AAU Mr. Southern California 3rd (tie)
    1952 AAU Mr. California 4th
    1952 AAU Jr. Mr. America 3rd
    1952 AAU Mr. America 4th
    1953 AAU Mr. Southern California 2nd
    1953 AAU Mr. Los Angeles 1st
    1953 AAU Mr. California 2nd
    1953 AAU Mr. Pacific Coast 1st
    1953 AAU Mr. America 3rd
    1954 AAU Mr. California 1st
    1954 AAU Jr. Mr. America 2nd
    1954 AAU Mr. America 3rd
    1956 Pro Mr. USA 3rd
    1957 Mr. USA 5th (tie)
    1965 IFBB Mr. America 3rd (medium)
    1967 Mr. International 1st (medium, 2nd overall)
    1967 Pro Mr. California 2nd
    1967 IFBB Jr. Mr. America 3rd
    1967 Mr. International 1st (medium, 2nd overall)
    1967 IFBB Mr. America 2nd (medium)
    1970 IFBB Pro Mr. World 4th (short)

    In spite of his propensity for getting fucked up and banging sluts, Zabo almost never missed workouts.  Although I can hardly imagine training hungover for three hours a day in an LA gym with no air conditioning, Zabo took that shit on the chin like the stone-jawed Pride fighter Kazuyuki Fujita ate knees to the face.  I guess having survived three combat landings in WW2 would change anyone's perspective about anything as minor as a life-destroying hangover, and he just went into the gym and rocked the fuck out.  His insanely high-volume workouts, dense enough to give the internet's natty bros cancer of the AIDS, looked like this:

    Zabo Koszewski Training Routine

    Every Day
    Incline Situps- 1 x 500 (yup, one set of 500 reps)
    Hanging Leg Raise- 1 x 500

    Monday / Wednesday / Friday
    Legs and Back
    Squats supersetted with Leg Curls – 8 x 10
    Hack Squats supersetted with Leg Curls – 2 x 20
    Stiff Leg Dead Lift – 4 x 10
    Power Cleans – 4 x 10


    (All exercises done as a giant set, which he repeated 7 times)
    Decline Dumbell Press –  x 10
    Cable Crossover – x 10
    Dips – x 10
    Push Ups – x 25


    Chins – 7 x 10
    Cable Rows – 7 x 10
    Behind the Neck Pull Downs – 7 x 10
    One Arm Reverse Cable Laterals – 7 x 10

    Motherfucker literally appeared to be carved out of stone.

    Tuesday / Thursday

    Alternating Seated Dumbell Presses – 7 x 10
    Dumbbell Laterals – 7 x 10
    Seated Behind the Neck Press – 7 x 10
    Upright Rows – 7 x 10


    Incline Curls supersetted with Tricep Pushdowns – 20 x 10

    Zabo (who's at least 50 in this pic, ripped to fucking bits), Arnold, and Franco used to party at Don Peters' "party palace", a mansion owned by James "Dr. Strangelove" Larsen.  Larsen encouraged Don Peters to invite over all of the bodybuilders he could fit into the house for workouts and parties... which he would watch while locked in the closet in the spare bedroom from behind the 18" by 18" two way mirror he had installed specially for that purpose (Roach, Vol. 2).  That's good old fashioned fun right there.
    This, however, appears to be a motel pool.  I just wanted to shoehorn that story in.

    Fuck Around Day
    Generally, he’d head to the beach and swim, or play a sport.

    For anyone familiar with Vince Gironda's programming and diet, Zabo seems to have followed both with the kind of obsessive devotion generally reserved for stalkers and 24/7 TPE slaves.  Zabo ate only two meals a day, both of which consisted of fruits, vegetables, lean meat (especially hamburger), eggs, apple juice, coffee, and milk, and he trained six days a week with what amounted to German Volume training, just as Gironda recommended.  Though he would cut all dairy just before a show to achieve paper-thin skin leanness, Zabo was also a huge fan of Rheo H. Blair's protein powder, which Gironda advocated with the kind of vociferousness most chatty people in clubs reserve for cocaine.  

    Blair’s protein was crazy advanced for its time, as the only other protein on the market was horrific-tasting soy dogshit, and consisted of casein, egg white protein, and dried whole eggs.  It came only in vanilla, was sweetened with cyclamate to keep the carbs down (though apparently it was nearly as carcinogenic as plutonium), and contained 102 calories, 17.5 grams of protein, 7 grams or carbohydrate and 0.6 grams of fat per scoop (Heffernan).  Blair recommended (as did Gironda), that people take two scoops of protein with eight ounces of cream and eight ounces of milk, which then yielded a whopping 949 calories, 55g protein, 35g carbs, and 62g fat per shake, and that lifters drink three of those shakes a day (so Zabo was getting ~3000 calories a day before he even cut into his first steak of the day).  As with every other lifter from this era, Zabo got the fuck after it calorie-wise, even though he was natty as fuck.  Therefore, if you are one of those natty bros who constantly claims you can't eat that much or you'll get fat, consider this- you're doing it wrong.  And by "it" I mean "literally everything."

    For instance, if your bedroom doesn't occasionally look like this, you're doing it wrong.

    Speaking of doing it wrong, it seems like the lot of us are doing it wrong when it comes to abs.  As I mentioned, Zabo never lost a "Best Abs" award.  Interestingly, his ab routine was developed out of necessity- when doctors told him only surgery would repair a hernia, he said fuck that and just started training abs like his life depended on it.  Perhaps his life didn't but his guts seemed to depend on it if he didn't want his insides outside his body.  

    "I knew that it would be wise for me to "make haste slowly" so my first ab routine consisted of just two exercises: Situps and Leg Raises. Although I could only manage a few reps that first training day, I soon had worked up to the point where 500 Situps and 500 Leg Raises were just warmups for my more advanced training routines every day." 
    "To bring out clear-cut abdominals you must do two things:
    1.) Burn away all midsection fat that is on the outside, and that which lurks between the muscles . . . the fat you can't see, but causes you too look too smooth and too large in the abdominal region. 
    2.) You must continually work for muscularity of the abdominals, and that requires daily diligence. Yes, you don't exercise your abs with a split routine . . . but with an everyday workout with specialized abdominal exercises" (Koszewski).

    I won't go into the details of all that Zabo recommended for abs (it's linked in the sources if you're curious), because it's easily summed up with "all of the things."  Basically, he recommended every permutation of situps, levers, and leg raises ever invented, and had this to say about sets and reps:

    "Work up to 10 sets of Situps and work up to at least a total of 500 reps. Work up to 10 sets of Leg Raises and work as many reps per set as your pull against gravity will allow. But don't throw, thrust, or maneuver the body by 'assisting' with other muscles. Make the upper abs do the work in Situps; make the lower abs do the work in Leg Raises."
    "After each workout practice mirror posing for 15 minutes, contracting first the rectus - then the intercostals, trying to squeeze extra definition from each posing session. This will add interest to your abdominal workouts, and give you valuable posing experience and control" (Koszewski).
    Simple enough- bust your fucking ass harder than a drunken retard in a Jackass film and be lean as shit.  Though it's in vogue to seek out some panacea involving a highly complicated system to achieve a simple goal, Zabo is here to show you all of the nonsense of which you might be thinking to rebut this statement is just that- nonsense.  The man was Occam's Razor personified- simple and brutal is far more effective than overly complex.  If it takes longer to explain than it does to do, you're likely fucking up your lifting in every imaginable way.

    My man would have made loot off flashing abs on IG and YouTube if he'd been born 70 years later.

    In case you're curious as to how far in life a sick set of abs and a love of partying can get you, it seems it can take you pretty fucking far.  A far cry from the cycle-your-coffee-intake-and-don't-fuck-sluts-or-stay-out-late-or-smoke-weed-or-get-hammered attitudes that are seemingly so prevalent in today's ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING FUN ZONE lifting zeitgeist, Zabo made that shit work, and he lived a life worth talking about.  Here's a list of the ways my vote for the Most Interesting Man In The World is immortalized in celluloid:

    The "Muscle Apes"- Seymour Koenig, Zabo Koszewski, Jerry Trayler, and Steve Merjanian.

    Zabo Flexin' Abs On The Big Screen
    • was Tommy Chong's stunt double in Things Are Tough All Over (1982)
    • played Body Builder #1 alongside [Body by] Jake Steinfeld in the Cheech and Chong flick Nice Dreams (1981)
    • played a gorilla in Planet of the Apes (1968) 
    • played a football player alongside Shirley MacLaine in John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! (1965)  
    • played a soldier alongside Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier in Spartacus (1960)
    • played a contestant in Debbie Reynold's Athena (1954)
    • was himself, as runner up Mr. America, in Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life (1959)
    • worked on the TV shows Combat! and Star Trek
    And there you have it- in stark contrast to the aforementioned four 1950's lifters, Zabo didn't believe in getting fat to be strong, but he definitely followed the same path of frequent, brutal workouts, tons of calories, and not being a boring pile of shit.  Zabo loved lifting and the beach so much that people joked he wouldn't go more than three blocks inland, and his love of lifting and life translated into being a fucking badass inside and outside the gym.  Instead of robotically trudging his way through life, Zabo grabbed life by the throat and fucked it half to death... and then left a good looking corpse behind.  So if you learn anything from the man, learn to live this shit, not just fucking talk about it on the internet- your life will be all that much better for it.... and for the love of all that's unholy, fucking eat something.

    "The best way to never worry about getting into shape is to never get out of shape." 
    - Zabo

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    Hart, Hugh.  He's just pressing on.  Los Angeles Times.  20 Feb 2005.  Web.  27 May 2018.  http://articles.latimes.com/2005/feb/20/entertainment/ca-chong20

    Heffernan, Conor.  The secret of Rheo H. Blair's protein powder.  Physical Culture Study.  22 Jun 2016.  Web.  28 May 2018.  https://physicalculturestudy.com/2016/06/22/the-secret-of-rheo-h-blairs-protein-powder/

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    9 Feb 2013. http://www.musclememory.com/showArticle.php?sh670820

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    Kelemen, Matt.  Q and A: Tommy Chong. Las Vegas Magazine.  17 Jun 2016.  Web.  27 May 2018.  https://lasvegasmagazine.com/interviews/qa/2016/jun/17/qa-tommy-chong-treasure-island-las-vegas-strip/#/0

    Koszewski, Zabo.  Developing your abdominals.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  8 Jan 2018.  Web.  27 May 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2018/01/developing-your-abdominals-zabo.html

    Roach, Randy.  Muscle, Smoke, and Mirrors, Volume 1.  Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2008.

    Roach, Randy.  Muscle, Smoke, and Mirrors, Volume 2.  Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2011.

    Thurber, John. Irvin 'Zabo' Koszewski dies at 84; bodybuilder renowned for his

    abs. LA Times. 2 May 2009. Web. 9 Feb 2013.

    Yarnell, Dave.  Forgotten Secrets of the Culver City Westside Barbell Club Revealed.  Lexington: Self Published, 2014.