Did you ever train with Pearl or with Gironda or any of the other guys who came on the scene before you?
No. Pearl invited me to train with him, but there was no way I was going to get up at 3 a.m. in order to be ready to train by 4. Arnold invited me to train with him, and I would go over to Gold’s to watch him work out, after which we would sometimes go for breakfast. I was doing so well with Pearl’s routines, I felt no need to change.
Once in a while I’d visit Gironda’s just to talk diet with him, but he never extended an invitation to train with him. He did give me a lot of exercise advice, some of which I incorporated into my training. The desiccated liver was a Gironda suggestion, and although it was not tasty, it did improve my physique.
I have heard of the Arnold-Franco training partnership, and I watched Arnold train with Ed Corney, but top bodybuilders rarely are able to benefit from the same routine or subordinate their own ego and progress enough to come to a compromise workout that benefits both.
You’ve talked about three people who influenced your training: Lon Hanagan, Bill Pearl and Vince Gironda. What did each of those guys teach you, and what were some of the training routines like?
Pearl was the only one who made up my routines. Lon taught me that the absolute first law of symmetry is to match the amount of muscle mass to the skeletal framework. Once the muscle mass exceeds the limit imposed by the frame, there can be no symmetry.
Gironda taught me how to work with gravity on the free weights. He was able to coax a lot of response using very little weight with his knowledge of how the pulleys and levers of the skeletal muscles work. He taught me to think for myself, to question all of the methods and systems being used and pushed by the magazines and current stars. He taught me to do my own thing.