Before bodybuilding legends Lee Haney and Rich Gaspari became adversaries on the Olympia stage, they were allies in the gym as they trained together. Here's an excerpt from the November 2007 issue of FLEX magazine.
Before They Were Rivals!
In the February and March 2007 issues of FLEX, we brought you two days in the life of Arnold Schwarzenegger as he prepared to earn his fourth Mr. Olympia title.
Due to the overwhelming response to that series, we decided to take a look back at eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney and his training partner during 1984, Arnold Classic champ and three-time Olympia runner-up Rich Gaspari. Although the two men couldn't have been more opposite personality-wise, they were arguably the most successful bodybuilding team of all time.
In early September 1984, Haney was on the cusp of winning his first Mr. O, and Gaspari was about a month away from taking the NPC National light-heavyweight title before winning the same division at the IFBB World Championships.
Journey with us to Southern California as we revisit the bond crafted between these two legends in a unique story you won't find anywhere else. This account, which some may term fictionalized, has been gathered by means of extensive interviews with Lee Haney, Rich Gaspari and others who observed their partnership at the time, and by thorough research of the Weider publishing archives.
Wednesday, September 5, 1984
Rich Gaspari is pissed. Maybe he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Or maybe it has to do with the piping-hot coffee presently seeping into his tank top, courtesy of a pothole. Or, possibly, it was the dog crap he stepped in while entering the passenger side of Lee Haney's car. Maybe it's all three.
Regardless of the cause, Gaspari is pissed off. And on leg day, of all days. Haney grips the steering wheel a little tighter, trying his best to contain a smile. It's not that he wishes his training partner ill will. In fact, since each man made his respective move to Los Angeles - bodybuilding's mecca - Gaspari and Haney have become fast friends.
Still, Haney finds his training partner's fury just a bit humorous, and at the same time, kind of scary. If there's anyone who doesn't need to get fired up before hitting the gym, it's Gaspari.
"OK. Let's go!"
Gaspari is staring at a leg extension machine that was welded together by Joe Gold himself. It's a good, sturdy piece of equipment that may lack the shine of some of the newer models surrounding it, but not the engineering integrity. It is the one Haney and Gaspari always use.
Gaspari sets the weight stack pin at 120 pounds to start. Jumping into the machine's seat, he knocks out a dozen quick but controlled reps, holding the last one for an extra second. He drops the stack back and vaults off the machine.
By this time, Haney has adopted a game face of his own - not quite as intense as his partner's, but, nonetheless, one that means business. He climbs onto the leg extension machine and goes for 12 himself, same weight, same pace, same stellar form.
To read more about Haney and Gaspari's training partnership and check out their precontest training regimen, pick up the November issue of FLEX, on newsstands October 8.