How Supplements & Diet Have Changed To Help A Bodybuilder Grow!

When I began training in 1957 very little was known about taking food supplements for bodybuilding. At best was the overall vitamin and 'load up with Vitamin C...' Here's a look at the progression I saw.

Article Summary:
  • The first supplement Ric really tried were putty-like protein pills.
  • At Bill Pearl's gym, Ric learned much about diet and supplementation.
  • At the original Gold's Gym, Ric learned even more from the masters.

  • Supplements - The Golden Era And Now!

    When I began training in 1957 very little was known about taking food supplements for bodybuilding. At best was the overall vitamin and "load up with Vitamin C..."

    I grew up in a small town and they weren't privy to bodybuilding or good diet. The average coffee shop meal was biscuits and gravy. This was not what I was eating by the way, but the average person I knew did eat this on a daily basis.

    I Grew Up In A Small Town And They Weren't Privy To Bodybuilding Or Good Diet.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    I Grew Up In A Small Town And They
    Weren't Privy To Bodybuilding Or Good Diet.

    I joined a European Health Spa and one of the instructors was a 'boxer' who was in decent shape by those standards back then. He looked enormous to me and I wanted to train and eat like him. I started on a workout routine with the chrome weights that were popular back then and began my road to bodybuilding.


    Protein Pills

      There was only one supplement available. Protein pills were the item and that's exactly what they were called. There were no frills about them and they came either in Chocolate or Vanilla.

      I would pop about 5 at a time during my workout and they would stick like putty on my teeth. The flavor was weird but kind of addicting. I doubt I made any progress with them at all but the trainer said they were necessary. There was never anything said about diet.

      I stumbled on to a health food store and found other sources of protein. One of the big ones was made by a company that called it PROTEEN, not protein. I didn't think about it at the time but apparently it wasn't a real source of protein and that's why it was spelled that way.

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      It was suggested that I try soy protein, brewers yeast for B vitamins and wheat-germ oil. I took all three of them for months. Still I couldn't really see any difference in my body.


    Protein From Milk

      I cut back on the supplements and added more milk; as much as three quarts a day. Finally I started to get bigger and stronger. The protein source from milk was working for me. I even added powdered milk to it to give it more strength.

      This worked fine for bulking and I did put some good bulk on. At my age I was young and metabolism was going good so I didn't get fat from it. I introduced more meat to my diet and cheese. This also seemed to help quite a bit and I got larger.

    I Introduced More Meat To My Diet And Cheese.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    I Introduced More Meat
    To My Diet And Cheese.

      Eventually I switched gyms and read more muscle magazines about diet and what to eat and what not to. I added chicken and fish but still maintained the carbs for energy. There wasn't a great deal of knowledge out there yet and nothing to inform me other than Joe Weider's ads for packing on muscle. I wasn't sure it they were valid and with the oversell on the ads it made me very skeptical.

      After searching in stores and magazines I found a good milk and egg protein and felt that this may be my answer to a good supplement. I think I got some of my best results with this one at that time.


    Education From Fellow Bodybuilders

      Time moved on and I kept training and made a visit down to Muscle Beach. There I spoke with some bodybuilders who trained at the Dungeon where Draper trained, and they told me about using the cream and high fat diet that Vince Gironda used. Fats took the place of carbs and were used for energy and not stored as fat.

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      In fact I'd go eat with some of these guys and they'd drink the cream on the restaurant table for extra protein. No stone was left unturned. I tried this diet and was pretty amazed at how my body fat started to drop from lack of carbs, but because of the high fat I was taking in, I still had plenty of energy. I took this info back and applied it to my lifestyle for quite a while.

      Eventually I moved from my small rural town and came to Los Angeles. I joined Bill Pearl's gym and began my training there. This was a whole other level for me. Lots of big guys and pushing around a lot of weight.

      I made friends right away and switched my workouts around. By hanging around Bill Pearl and some of the others, I was introduced to better supplements such as animal protein and amino acid tablets. Plus the diet changed to meat and eggs.

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      This was a great change for me and muscle started packing on pretty fast as well as my strength going up. I learned a lot about sets and reps and how to divide body parts up on various days. This was a real education for me.


    The Gold's Gym Crowd

      This was in 1969 and I was finally in the big city of Los Angeles and my end goal was to live in Santa Monica. I finally decided to move to the beach (Santa Monica) and joined the original Gold's Gym. I wasn't sure what to expect but it was hardcore and exactly what I was used to at Pearls. All the champions were there at the time; Dave Draper, Chuck Colloras, Franco, Arnold, Mike Katz and a slew more that would come and go.

      This was intense training and exactly what I wanted. It wasn't long before I befriended all of them, and Arnold as you already know, was there and I was training every day with them.

    Arnold Was There And Ric Trained With Him And The Rest Everyday.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Ric Trained With Arnold
    And The Others Everyday.

      Even Joe Weider would come on the weekends and train with us. I still hadn't tried his supplements yet as most of the guys weren't too crazy about the quality of them even though they did the ads.

      Arnold drove me over to meet Rheo H. Blair who had the best supplements around according to everyone. Larry Scott and Don Howarth lived on them. Arnold set me up with Rheo to do product photos with him in exchange for free supplements. He loaded me up with Blair's protein, B complex, C vitamins, vitamin E and whatever else he had. I was told to come back whenever I would run low and they'd re-stock me.

      Now this was the ultimate in supplements. For the average person it was costly but I got lucky in that department. I stayed on them for many years with great results. Eating with Arnold and the others consisted of cheese omelets, burger patties, cottage cheese and eggs. This was the standard diet. We would vary it at dinner to chicken or steak with cottage cheese and salad but that was it.

      This diet worked the best for me and I followed it for many years to come. Over the years we all know that there are many new supplements out there and they're state-of-the-art. I've tried a few and I like what I've tried.

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      The whey proteins are great as well as arginine. I order direct from Bodybuilding.com, and this is not a plug but the quality and shipping time have made my life much easier. Now at almost 65 I still follow the same type of diet but substitute fish or chicken in place of meat quite frequently. I just feel it's better for me at my age to eat a little lighter.


    Conclusion

    I can still train 6 days a week at a pretty good rate considering the wrestling injuries I've sustained over the past 45 years but other than that these supplements have kept me very healthy.

    Find out and experiment what works for you and use it. You'll see great results if you're sensible about it.

    -Ric