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28 January 2010

*Baddest Motherfuckers Ever #10- Chuck Sipes

What the fuck is the world coming to?  First, I post a blog about a felon, then a "fitness" guru, and now a full-blown bodybuilder.  I must have lost my fucking mind, right?  I'm crazier than a Kim Kardashian clone after being snubbed by a Paris Hilton clone and chased down the street by a Perez Hilton wannabe dressed in Liberace's finest!

Nope.  This, my fuckers, is all about taking what you need from those who can provide it and chucking the rest.  It's 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.

As intolerable as I find the term "power bodybuilder", since it smacks of oily, pastel-colored-spandex-clad musclemen lifting shit poundages while grimacing in Weider mags, Chuck Sipes could be considered as such.  He could also, however, be likened to men like Sandow and Aston, who were simultaneously professional  strongmen, competitive strength athletes, and bodybuilders.

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 highschool football like any other red-blooded American boy, he enlisted the aid of his neighbor, weightlifting equipment luminary Chuck Coker (who later founded Universal Equipment Company).  Utilizing the techniques he learned from Coker, Spies developed a brutal lifting regimen that eventually afforded him a 570 lb raw bench, and the ability to bend bars at will.

Did I mention the motherfucker was a full-on lumberjack, who worked 12 hour shifts cutting down trees during periods of contest prep?  No?  Well, he was.  Chuck Sipes was officially tougher than anyone you've ever met.

Sipes didn't waste time with losing.  He found it to be a distasteful practice to be avoided at all costs, and thus amassed a brutal succession of victories that he wedged in between mentoring juvinile delinquents and lifting insane amounts of weight for no reason whatsoever.

Height: 5' 9 ½"
Weight: 220 lbs.
His measurements included
Arms, 19 ½",
Chest, 50",
Waist 32",
Thighs, 25 ½",
Calves, 18".

570 lb. Bench press
600 lb. Squat
250 lb. Standing barbell curl
His contest history (3):
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)(Arnold won 1st)
1974 Mr. Pacific Coast 1st (over-40 class)

Faced with the horrifying prospect that life wasn't worth living without any competition of which to speak, Sipes decided to off himself in 1993, granting us lesser mortals the opportunity to finally achieve the pinnacle of badassedness, since there wasn't a single motherfucker on Earth who could challenge Sipes in physique or strength at his age.

While he was still drawing breath, Sipes was well-known for having unbelievably badass abs, especially for that era, Sipes espoused a style of ab training that definitely falls in line with that of a true ChAoS and Pain hooligan:

"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."(2)

To determine the proper exercises and his set and rep range, Sipes went by the feel and effect of the exercises in previous workouts and experimentation with different movements.   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.  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."(2)

He also believed in super-short rest periods, claiming that he rested "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."(2)  Additionally, he followed a super-intense, C&P-worthy split, in which he trained, get ready for it, 15-20 minutes of abs 6 days a week, twice a day for the first 6 months, and the 6 days a week, 3 times a day, the second six months.  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, wherein he would have spent countless hours misinterpreting an extremely simple subset of Russian philosophy, but rather a dedication to busting his ass on the exercise on which he wanted to get very, very good.  Interestingly, his 15-20 minute block schedule is highly reminiscent of the Bulgarian methodology...  and both are highly successful in creating champions.  Hmmmmmmmm...

Ah, but "what was the rest of his program like?", you might be wondering.  Just as fucking brutal.  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.(4)

Bench Press Routine
Chuck would begin training at least 6 months before a meet. This is a five days per week routine which is very intense. There is much direct effort stimulating the ligaments and tendons.

Monday & Wednesday
Warm up Prone, regular grip – 2 sets x10 reps.
Bench Press – 2x6; 2x4; 2x2; 4 singles.

Tuesday & Thursday
Heavy Supports – 5x8.
100 lbs. over best press from ¼ way down to lockout.
Prones – Close to maximum poundage.
Heavy Supports – 150 lbs. over best press, holding with a slight elbow bend.
Prones – close to maximum poundage.

Incline Press, wide grip, slowly – 4x6.
Dumbell Incline Press, slowly – 4x6.
Pullovers, very light weight, deep breaths following 1 minute skipping – 2x20
Flat Flyes, very deep breaths – 4x8.

How the fuck did he get this vascular back in that day?  Probably training around the clock.

Squat Routine

Full Squat – 2 sets of 8 reps. 2x6, 2x4, 2x2, 2x1.
Quarter Squat – 6x10.
Leg Press – 8x6.

Deadlift Routine

Regular Deadlift – 2 sets of 8 reps, 2x6, 2x4, 2x2, 2x1.
Rack Deadlift from below knees – 6x4. Use the same position as for your regular deadlift at this height.
Deadlift Holds – 6 sets of 1 minute each.
Chuck mentioned that to deal with tender calluses, soak the hands in a tuff skin solution.

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.
Would Rippetoe agree with Sipe's training methodology?  no, but that's because Rippetoe is a prick who looks like a bag of warm cookie dough, and is weaker than Amy Winehouse after a particularly strenuous heroin binge- but at least she's lean, hahaha.

Go to the gym and fucking Sipes yourself!

*by "Sipes yourself", I mean get strong as shit and lean as some Laura's Lean Beef, not autoasphyxiate yourself while wearing bondage gear and womens' lingerie, David Carradine style.

  1. "Factoids- Chuck Sipes."  Flex Magazine.
  2. Weis, Dennis.  "Chuck Sipes:  One Year of Abdominal Specialization."
  3. "The History of Mr. Olympia"
  4. Weis, Dennis. "Chuck Sipes On Power Training- Dennis Weis." 


    1. Just for a little clarification, "prone" - does that mean anatomical position; when you're laying on a bench, you would be doing reverse grip bench?

    2. Any clue what the 2 a day ab routine was?

    3. Prone means laying on your back. Supine is lying on your stomach.

    4. Good read. Thanks.

      Glad to see people still bending. I thought I was the only idiot (besides John Brookfield and Gary Gazza)

    5. I'm looking to start bending pretty soon. Unfortunately I have no idea if it's "safe" to just do a shit ton of contrast baths, juggling and then bend barehanded.

      I may want sick calluses but the idea of using my hands properly is also quite attractive.

    6. Anybody know what Sipes' diet was like. Just curious to see how close it was to the C&P diet philosophy.

    7. Dray I wouldn't start off bending barehanded for braced or unbraced. I mean you can however a more progressive way to get there is just use the Iron Mind or some non-puncture wraps and then start bending. Also if you do decide to continue working towards barehand, you will do nerve damage. Plenty of times where my hand would go numb for 5 minutes after a difficult bend. Work with 3/16 at different lengths (if braced) from 7 inches to 5 inches, move up to 1/4, hexagonal and square then bolts (G5 and G8) up to 5/16 and beyond.

      If you need more info go to, very good place. FBBC ( is a great site to get metal from) or you can go to Lowes/Home depot.

      Hope it helps

    8. His diet seemed very standard for bodybuilders of the time- meat, milk, veggies, but then, if he was a lumberjack, he was probably eating anything that would hold still long enough for him to stuff it down his throat.

    9. As for his ab routine- it's likely on in the power routine article I cited.

    10. Goddamn. All these partials are becoming infectious. I did some lockouts for the squat the other day and loved them, made worksets the next week feel easier.

      And Jamie, I'm pretty sure prone is facing downward.

    11. You're right. I had a horrible brainfart. Although I was thinking that palms-up is supination, and prone would be palms down, I still managed to cock up the explanation to the point where it had nothing to do with hand position at all.

      Ketosis does not impair mental function! LIAR! Hahaha.

    12. No big deal. I've only just lost all respect for you.

      I keeeed, I keed. You can still find some old poorly edited texts where they have the bench listed as "prone press", which would make the exercise rather hard to do.

    13. Dude in regards to your muscle and brawn interview i'm going to give your beginner advice a go as i'm not a fan of the starting strength routine that everyone harps on about. In regards to the low volume you mention what sets/reps would you recommend on the heavy exercises? Cheers.

    14. Wow what a trip finding this site about "Chuck". I happened to work at the same youth facility where Chuck was the weight trainer.This was around 1986. His hair was gray and shoulder length.He usually was in his classic gym shorts and tank top. This O.G. was still cut up, I couldn't believe someone at this age could continue to stay in shape and have the strength as he. An amazing man. I'm glad to have known him the years he was there.

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