26 September 2017

Fuck The Olympia- The Real Champions Of Bodybuilding Are Uncrowned

Hanging out with these two would be less fun than having your pisshole raped with a sound coated in ghost pepper sauce.

With the 2017 Olympia a mere week in our rearview mirror, with yet another victory for the patently unlikable Phil Heath, a discussion of the idiocy of the Weider empire and the fallacy that their bodybuilders have always been the best is necessary.  As I've mentioned in a past article about the myth of Arnold's preeminence in bodybuilding, the Weider empire was built on some foundations so shaky they might as well be an elementary school in Mexico City (awww, too soon?  Suck it up, buttercup.)  Seriously, the Weiders were such underhanded fucking sneaks and thieves that they make Vince McMahon seem like a paragon of virtue in the field of business ethics, and they've snowed everyone into thinking that not only are they the only "real" bodybuilding federation, but that they've been the only game in town since bodybuilding started booming again in the 1950s and 1960s.  In reality, there were federations with champions as good or better than the reigning Mr. Olympias (who often competed against fields so small it is hard to imagine them, if you've been to one of these insane 12 hour local bodybuilding competitions in the last ten years).  If you want the full scoop on the Weiders, which is frankly FAR too long for me to detail here, I recommend Randy Roach's awesome series Muscle, Smoke, and Mirrors, which is supposed to get a third volume but as I understand it the author's gone blind and can't complete it.

In any event, there are some badass bodybuilders out there of whom you very well might have never heard, and they deserve a hell of a lot of attention despite the fact that the Weider publishing empire and their bought-and-paid-for judges took a steaming shit on their careers.

"Brutal" Bertil Fox

Because the Weider empire wasn't really what it was billed to be and he could find better competition elsewhere, Bertil jumped on the IFBB wagon about 5 years too late and then proceeded to shoot his ex-fiancee and her mom to completely mangle what little was left of his competitive prospects.  That's not to say, however, that he was not the best professional bodybuilder between 1977 and 1980, and could be considered the greatest mass monster of the pre-1990s era.  Originally hailing from St. Kitts in the Carribean, this Godzilla-esque future slaughter machine rocked 16 inch arms at 16, 17 inch arms at 17, 18 inch arms at 18, and 19 inch arms at 19, eventually stretching the tape past 21 inches on his ridiculous hamhock arms (Sprague 248).

Serge Nubret, Brutal Bertil, Tony Emmot, and someone no one's ever heard of.

At 5'7" and 245 lbs., no one on a competitive stage had the mass and detail to hang with him, and a half-starved Frank Zane would have looked like a mid-transformation intersex physique competitor if he'd even bothered to stand next to Brutal Bertil onstage.  In the 1977 NABBA Pro Mr. Universe (pictured above), Fox dwarfed Serge Nubret, who was an IFBB fan favorite.  To give you some idea about how badly the corrupt-enough-to-be-Mexican-cops IFBB judges were, check out Bertil's the picture below.  You also should take note of the fact that had Fox entered the IFBB in 1976 instead of dicking around in the NABBA, we'd have a much different historical record in the IFBB, and might never had Lee Haney as a Mr. Olympia at all.  Here was his competition, weighed against Fox:

Frank Zane 5'9" 187-195 lbs.
Robby Robinson 5'7" 215 lbs.
Ken Waller 6'0" 230 lbs.
Serge Nubret 6' 215 lbs.
Roy Callender 5'8" 220 lbs.
Bertil Fox 5'7" 245 lbs.

Seriously, no one could hang with Brutal Bertil onstage.  The dude was a mass monster before such a thing existed, and he scared the shit out of everyone.  Even Lee Haney was outclassed against Fox, because they weighed the same, but Haney was four inches taller, and Brutal Bertil was always more cut than a bag of dope.  Owing in large part to the fact that he became a murder machine and was subsequently hung in his home nation of St. Kitts, Bertil Fox has fallen out of the zeitgeist and is a forgotten legend in bodybuilding lore.  Never fear, however, because I've got two of his workouts that propelled this bad motherfucker to Mr. Britain, Mr. Europe, and two Mr. Universe titles.  Check it.

Bertil was again robbed at the 1983 Olympia, when he lost out to an out-massed Lee Haney.

Brutal Bertil's 1983 Twice Weekly Arm Insanity

EZ-bar curls: 6 x 6-8 reps, 200 lbs max weight
Incline dumbbell curls: 6 x 6-8 reps, 80s lbs max weight
Dumbbell concentration curls: 6 x 6-8 reps, 60 lbs max weight
Barbell preacher curls, 6 sets: 6-8 x 155 lbs max weight
One-arm cable curls: 6 x 8-10 reps, 60 lbs max weight
Lying extensions: 6 x 6-8 reps, 200 lbs max weight
Bench dips: 6 x 6-8 reps, 135 lbs on legs max weight
One-arm dumbbell overhead extensions: 6 x 8-10 reps, 60 lbs max weight
Pushdowns: 6 x 8-10 reps, 250 lbs max weight
One-arm pushdowns, 6 x 8-10 reps, 100 lbs max weight

That is one gnarly fucking workout- a minimum of 144 reps on biceps and 216 reps on triceps... which he did twice a week.  Maybe you're just not doing enough arm work if you're not ripping the sleeves of your button down everytime you try to clear a paper jam at the office.

Brutal Bertil's Gold's Gym Chest Routine... that enabled him to bust out a sick ass set of 6 with 525 lbs in 1983

Barbell bench press: 5-7 x 4-8 reps
Dumbbell bench press: 5 x 6-8 reps
Incline barbell press: 5 x 6-8 reps
Dips: 5 x 8-10 reps (done as a superset with the flyes)
Dumbbell flyes: 5 x 6-8 reps

So there you have it- the secrets behind some of the best upper body development of the pre-growth hormone era.  Use it well... but try not to shoot any of your exes while you're getting swole as fuck.

Scott "Captain Boulder Shoulders" Wilson

I recall reading about Scott Wilson early on in some bodybuilding books I purchased second hand, and although I repurchased the old Gold's Gym Book of Bodybuilding, it didn't contain what was obviously some absurdly hardcore shoulder workout that no mere mortal could complete without an 8 ball of cocaine, a 20 oz t-bone for periworkout nutrition, and enough exogenous testosterone to drown a Brahma bull- instead it has a back workout that will probably make kids from Reddit vomit expletives and lengthy missives about steroid use and overtraining while they skip yet another workout to debate the latest useless Pubmed training study.

Before you scoff, recall that powerlifting was in its infancy when he competed, then note that Wilson rocked a 625 squat, 470 bench, and 665 deadlift in what I assume was the 220 lb weight class in the late 1970s.  Not too shabby, given that powerlifting was just something Wilson did in the offseason from bodybuilding to put on mass.  It's likely not surprise you that this dude sold the bicycle his mom won for him on a game show to buy a set of weights as a kid- this motherfucker was dedicated from an early age.  After entering and winning the Mr. San Diego contest on a dare from his friends, Wilson won the Mr. America, Mr. international, and the Portland Grand Prix.  At 5'10 and 215 lbs with 20" arms and 24" relaxed, unpumped shoulder width, Wilson looked a hell of a lot bigger than he actually was, owing in large part to his tiny waist... which is a miracle he maintained once you check out his pants-shittingly insane precontest back workout (I've looked fucking everywhere, and I tragically could not find his shoulder workout, which I was dying to try).

If this dude's shoulders don't make you want to break into the gym in off hours and slay weights, nothing will.  The lat spread is legit, too.

Deadlift: 5 x 5 reps
Bent barbell row: 5 x 6-8 reps
T-bar row: 5 x 6-8 reps
Lat machine pulldown: 5 x 8 reps
One arm dumbbell row: 5 x 8 reps
Barbell shrug: 5 x 8 reps
Upright row: 5 x 8 reps

Victor "Train Like A Maniac and Eat Your Fucking Face Off" Richards

If you want to talk about a bodybuilder the Weiders fucking HATED, it's Victor Richards.  The biggest motherfucker on the planet in the 1990s, Richards only competed a couple of times but got a bunch of press in Ironman magazine, as I recall.  At 5'9" and 300 pretty fucking lean pounds, Richards dwarfed the reigning Mr. Olympia at the time, Dorian Yates (5'10" 255 lbs), and would still outmass just about every bodybuilder on the planet today in competition shape (Phil Heath is 5'9" 252 lbs and Big Ramy is Victor Richards' size, but with the addition of a hell of a lot of advances in pharmacology).  His measurements seem like complete fabrications, until you see pictures of him... and bear in mind when you read these measurements that this was pre-growth hormone era development, and Richards could bust out a vacuum pose that would make Frank Zane blush.  Allegedly capable of a belt-and-wrapless 900 lb squat, Richards purportedly had a seated military press of 450 lbs, a 600 lb bench, a 550 incline bench, 200 lb dumbbell shoulder press, 26" arms, 24" calves, 67" chest (what in the sweet fuck?), 37" thighs, and a 36" waist.  Those measurements are utterly insane, as are his lifts.  Sheer lunacy, fueled by anger and as much food as the man could fit down his throat (he guesstimated that on a really insane day of eating, his calories would reach about 30,000... which again sounds fucking crazy, but the man was humongous).

Sadly, Vic Richards hated competing more than Donald Trump hates protesting and the fact that the USFL went tits up.  He won the 1992 Nigerian National Championships, the 1989 Mr. Barbados, and the California Gold Cup Classic in 1984, but just based on speculation I'm going to say those titles were not exactly hotly contested.  He did, however, initiate a surprise posedown at the 1994 FIBO with then-Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates, whom he dwarfed at an alleged 320 puffy pounds.

Tragically, there's no record of an exact Richard workout, because the dude trained entirely by feel.  He trained until he was so fucking tired he had to grow, then would eat until he couldn't fit any more food down his throat.  Inspired in large part by the ultra-awesome Barbarian brothers, Vic Richards defined taking it to the ultimate fucking extreme- massive powerlifts followed by nearly endless hypertrophy training, balls to the wall, all the fucking time.  If nothing else, the man should stand as an example of what someone can do if the do literally nothing other than eat, sleep, and train as if a team of burly men with spiked bats will anally rape your grandma with their weapons if you don't go bananas enough.

Gary Strydom

Gary Strydom is one of the most horrifying victims of the Weiders' insane hatred of competing federations.  Perhaps the greatest bodybuilder ever from the front, Strydom's been basically stricken from the IFBB record after having tested the waters in a competing federation created by comic-book-evil pro wrestling magnate Vince McMahon.  The federation was a complete bust- McMahon essentially tried to turn bodybuilding into a pro wrestling-esque soap opera and the entire thing was a retarded-shit-show-of-anything-Steve-Harvey-has-ever-done proportions.

That's just ridiculous.

Strydom's competition history is as long as your arm, and you'll note his ridiculously low placing in the IFBB after returning to the fold- the Weiders punished everyone who jumped ship for Vince McMahon's WBF with low placings for the remainder of their careers, no matter what their condition.  Aaron "Batman" Baker (the Kai Green before Kai Green), uber-beast Mike Christian, David Death (one of the most shredded individuals to ever walk the Earth), and Berry DeMay also suffered appalling placings in spite of the fact they outclassed the majority of their competition as penance for participating in McMahon's idiotic soap opera of a federation.  In any event, here's what a beast Strydom was:

1983 NPC Florida Championships, Junior - Heavyweight, 1st and Overall
1984 NPC USA Championships, HeavyWeight, 1st
1986 NPC Nationals, HeavyWeight, 1st and Overall
1987 Night of Champions, Winner
1988 Chicago Pro Invitational, 2nd
1988 Mr. Olympia, 5th
1989 Arnold Classic, 3rd
1989 Grand Prix France, 1st
1989 Grand Prix Germany, 2nd
1989 Grand Prix Melbourne, 1st
1989 Grand Prix Spain (2), 2nd
1989 Grand Prix Spain, 2nd
1989 Grand Prix Sweden, 1st
1989 World Pro Championships, 2nd
1990 Grand Prix England, 2nd
1990 Grand Prix Finland, 3rd
1990 Grand Prix France, 2nd
1990 Grand Prix Germany, 4th
1990 Grand Prix Italy, 3rd
1990 Houston Pro Invitational, 2nd
1990 Ironman Pro Invitational, 4th
1991 Night of the Champions, Winner
1991 WBF Championships, 1st
1992 WBF Championships, 1st
1996 Night of Champions, 12th
2006 Colorado Pro Championships, 7th

To be that big and insanely conditioned, you'd think Strydom would basically have had to live in the gym... and you would be absolutely correct.  The man would take off a day every two weeks, and his workouts were not what you would call low volume- even into his 50s the dude is still training so hard that his training partners tap out midway thought a workout.  Here is his unspeakably brutal double-split competition split, which he would do for twelve weeks, generally taking one day off every two weeks:

Day 1- Quads (a.m.); hamstrings (p.m.)
Day 2- Biceps, triceps (a.m.); calves, stationary cycling (p.m.)
Day 3- Deadlifts (a.m.); upper back (p.m.)
Day 4- Chest (a.m.); shoulders, abdominals, cycling (p.m.)

Strydom trained like he was possessed by a team of demons hell bent on having the biggest arms and shoulders in history, and he'd scream wacky shit like "THERE'S A MANIAC LOOSE IN THE GYM! HE'S GOT GREAT DELTS, THOUGH!" during his ultra-late night training sessions.  Fueled by psychopathy and so many chicken breasts the World Court should have him up on charges for avian genocide, Strydom built a physique that absolutely no one could match, and at the top of his game he was more than a match for the reigning Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.

Fellow fuckee Berry DeMay, Lee Haney, and Gary Strydom in the Olympia

We might as well start with the man's shoulder routine, since his shoulders rival those of Scott Wilson and we all need to rethink our priorities after looking at those gigantic things.  This is just a sample workout, as his routine varied based on how he felt.  In Strydom's own words:
"I suggest training delts by themselves so you can focus 100% of your mental and physical strength to this body part, which, in all honestly, can't be too big," says Strydom. "I like to punish my shoulders to the max. Sometimes I train them for 45 minutes, other times it will take two hours. Delts can take a lot of beating and a lot of volume. To get them to grow, you have to keep going until you cannot put a shaker cup to your mouth."
Machine Shoulder (Military) Press- 5 x 12 reps
Leverage Shoulder Press- 5 x 12 reps
Bent Over Low-Pulley Side Lateral- 5 x 16 reps
Calf-Machine Shoulder Shrug- 5 x 18 reps

In other words, we're all fucking pussies because our volume is so low it wouldn't even qualify as a warmup for Strydom, who is reported to have been strong as a rabid ox on a steady anadrol-and-methyltest regimen.  Strydom hated competing but loves to train, and really only competed to satisfy his rabid pre-internet fanbase.  Had the man been born 20 years later, he'd have been an Instagram superstar the judges couldn't ignore, as he took selfies before selfies were even a thing, and before there was an internet on which to post them.  Bear witness, and he exercises his exorcism:

At 6'1" and 230 lbs, Strydom wasn't exactly a mass monster, and his back could have used more mass, but his physique was still the thing superheros would kill to have, and his chest was definitely one of his standout bodyparts.  Just as he did with his shoulders, Strydom beat the fuck out of his chest like his name was Liam Neeson and his chest had kidnapped his daughter.  What follows is again a sample workout, since his routine varied greatly based on his level of fatigue.

Strydom's Pectoral Annihilation Routine

Dumbbell Bench Press (warm-up only)- 3-4 x 10-12 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press / Flye Combo- 5-6 x 12-25 reps
Incline Machine Press- 4-5 x 12-25 reps
Cable Crossovers- 8-12  x 10-30 reps
Dumbbell Pullovers- 5 x 10-12 reps

With routines like that, Strydom managed to never win the Olympia, in spite of the fact he was never anything but ripped to the bone, sporting 22" arms, a 32" waist, 29" thighs, 19" calves. a 19.5" neck, and a 61" chest.  Ridiculous, but I suppose it speaks pretty loudly to never fucking with the Weider empire if you want that Olympia crown.

Obviously, there are plenty of other examples I can and shall provide of bodybuilders outside of the Weider camp who could have trashed their IFBB competition.  The aforementioned Gold's Gym Book of Bodybuilding is chock full of eccentric individuals who shunned the IFBB for other federations, and their programs were crazier than a bag of wet cats.  Don't let the magazines fool you- there are some bad motherfuckers out there of whom you've never heard, but you should.  Their programs all boil down to the same message, though- train your fucking ass off and the gains will flow like semen after a gangbang.

Go forth and destroy.

All about Gary Strydom.  Bodybuilding Pro.  Web.  26 Sep 2017.  http://www.bodybuildingpro.com/garystrydom.html

Gary Strydom's workout routine.  Pumping Iron Mag.  31 May 2014.  Web.  26 Sep 2017.  http://pumpingironmag.com/content/gary-strydoms-workout-routine

Gethin, Kris.  Delt delerium training with Gary Strydom.  Bodybuilding.com.  6 Aug 2014.  Web.  26 Sep 2017.  https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/delt-delirium-training-shoulders-with-gary-strydom.html

Heffernan, Conor.  Reprint of Jerry Brainum's article "Every which way but loose: Gary Strydom's chest training turns his pecs inside out for awesome mass."  Physical Culture Study.  12 Apr 2017.  Web.  26 Sep 2017.  https://physicalculturestudy.com/2017/04/12/every-which-way-but-loose-gary-strydoms-chest-training-turns-his-pecs-inside-out-for-awesome-mass/

Merritt, Greg.  Hardcore Contender - Bertil Fox. Flex.  Web.  9 Oct 2016. http://www.flexonline.com/training/hardcore-contender-bertil-fox

Sprague, Ken and Bill Reynolds.  The Gold's Gym Book of Bodybuilding.  Chicago: Contemporary Books, Inc., 1983.

Victor Richards.  Greatest Physiques.  Web.  21 Aug 2017.  http://www.greatestphysiques.com/victor-richards/


  1. Do you guys still sponsor Eric Bugenhagen now that he's with the WWE? He had to delete all his older videos due to being under contract not to use profanity and I suppose being affiliated with the least family friendly brand in fitness might not be super popular at WWE headquarters

    1. I think he parted ways with us quietly. I was unaware he was working with the WWE, and that's a stupid fucking policy they have.

  2. We've missed you Jamie. All other blogs are too fucking soft. Bertil was a tank and one of the first bodybuilders I fucked with getting into training. Great write up brother.

    1. "one of the first bodybuilders I fucked"

      Bit gay tbh...

    2. I've got all kinds of cool shit in the works, Viva. Glad you liked this one!

  3. Translation - bodybuilding is not a sport.

  4. I used to see Victor Richards train at the Northridge Gold Gym back in the early 90's. He was every bit as huge and as strong as the magazines depicted. His legs were so big and round, they looked the same from the side or the front. Heath may be known for "3D muscle" but Richards had 360 degrees of thigh sweep. I never saw him max out but I do remember him shouldering 150 lb dumbbells (while seated) and repping them out like a warm up weight.

    1. Goddamn. You're a lucky dude to have witnessed that firsthand, man.

  5. Is that Strydom's full shoulder routine? I was expecting something crazier but honestly that just seems like a standard shoulder workout to me. Some presses, some raises, some shrugs. Not that it doesn't work great, I just wasnt expecting that.

    1. I don't think that dude ever did the same routine twice, and the guy who recounted the workout basically said he was glad to have lived through it by the end.

  6. Article idea: Training/ eating while you're working a manual labor job.
    Last couple months I've been lifting 50-150 pound boxes 8-10 hours a day, and while my training hasn't suffered yet, I'm starting to feel really burnt out on lifting.

    1. Second this. 64 hours a week in a stainless steel factory is taking its toll.

    2. I wouldn't trade it for anything else though. Way better than being stuck behind a desk.

    3. I could do that, though when I worked manual labor the only thing that changed was that I got a hell of a lot more deep tissue massage and took more stimulants. I'll dig up Rock, Iron, Steel and some other stuff and see what I can come up with. I know Bob Peoples worked on a farm and still trained 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week.

    4. How about diet? Prior to working the manual labor job I'm at now I was in school for around seven hours a day, so pulling a CKD was easy. For the first two months I kept trying to tweak the diet and see if I could stay ketogenic but just didn't have the energy regardless of calories and carb-ups throughout the week.

    5. I did manual labor on a CKD and just increased my calories. At times I took two carbups a week as well.

  7. My go to idea when doing manual labour is 10 sets of three on the minute, one exercise only Mon -Fri. Weekend I did a couple of big sessions, one upper, one lower.
    I also use this when I am concentrating on a big cardio splurge, an hour plus of running or bike or whatever daily in the am. Usually I do this for about three months in summer when it is just pleasant to be outdoors.

  8. I appreciate the effort you put into these blogs man, keep it up.

  9. Bodybuilding comp is unworthy of respect. It is like taking bets on who can take most heroin without dying.

    1. I wouldn't quite go that far- those guys train their fucking asses off and compromise their health to look like superheros. It's a weird subculture, but interesting, and no more self-destructive than competitive cycling or motocross.

  10. Replies
    1. "Weider was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to Louis and Anna Weider, Polish Jewish emigrants" Oy Vey!

  11. The guy "nobody ever heard of " on picture #3 is Steve Davis.