What Bodybuilding Is All About: Bill Pearl And Dave Draper!

The 'Golden Age' as it is being called seems to have done it right. Why is the younger generation still looking back to those bodybuilders long since retired? More on that right here...

Recently the IFBB ordered its professional bodybuilders to cut down on their bloated stomachs. Obviously they are reacting to a backlash against the current trend in professional bodybuilding of bigger is better no matter what the cost to aesthetics.

This phenomenon is not just sour grapes from a bunch of old guys jealous of the new generation. On the contrary, I have heard a number of young competitors in the Gold's Gyms here in Florida say that their heroes are the bodybuilders of the Golden Age (mid-60s to 80s).

The reason these young men are looking back to another generation of bodybuilders for inspiration in their own training is that the current crop of bodybuilders does not exemplify the aesthetic ideal they want to emulate. In particular, some common complaints include:

  1. The bloated stomachs
  2. The cookie cutter physiques, i.e., they all look alike
  3. The extreme size that mutes anything of the graceful or athletic

I see more and more guys in the gym looking at Web sites that specialize in the bodybuilders of the Golden Age, and I hear more and more of their names in conversation.


Well, for all those fans of "old school" bodybuilding, there is a treat waiting out there for you: a DVD of the Santa Cruz, California PEARL/DRAPER seminar! And what a treat it is, as the DVD cover states:

"Pearl and Draper lovingly and candidly talk
for 75 minutes about bodybuilding then and now,
revealing truths, expelling myths and offering
priceless insights."

Don't think that this is a harangue against the current crop of bodybuilders either. Though they don't necessarily agree with the direction bodybuilding has gone, they speak with great respect about the current crop of bodybuilders.

For all you baby boomers who are beginning to feel the aches and pains that accompany the mature years, you will be relieved to know that you are not alone. These men will inspire you to just keep on staying fit and working around those inconveniences. Both men addressed aching joints and working around injuries, but I especially liked Bill Pearl's honest comment: "I think injuries come with age."

He talks about a guy who asked him "how do you feel?" Bill responds, "Back hurts, elbows hurt, my knees are killing me." In other words, we're not alone. Everyone has to deal with these things eventually, even our heroes.

Just to give you a sample of the wisdom and humor on this DVD, let me share a few moments. Concerning the aging process, Bill Pearl, the perennial optimist, said it best, "If there's movement, there's still hope!"

Then at one point Draper asks Bill what he would call bodybuilding, "a sport or activity." Bill replies, "I call it a sickness." Amen, Bill, but don't we love it!?!

Diet & Exercise

These champions also answer the usual questions about diet and specific exercises.


Aging doesn't seem to have dampened their enthusiasm. Though Draper has trimmed back his training days a bit, he expressed his approach to the aging process as a learning experience.

He continues to experiment with different angles of movement and grips, etc., to continue to enjoy his training. Bill still hits it two hours a day, six days a week, but he warns the audience of older guys to never go all out in their training unless they know it's their last day of training on earth.

Dave lists his 10 favorite exercises, while Bill emphasizes that he has found it best to vary the exercises frequently because the body adapts rather quickly to anything it is asked to do. Draper, of course, knows this and is able to do his favorite exercises consistently because he changes the sets, reps and weights to keep the exercises fresh and effective.


Draper is a monk when it comes to diet! He hasn't had ice cream or cheesecake in five years (though he did have a taste of cheesecake within the last year, but swears he didn't eat the whole thing). He prefers a diet consisting of 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% fat and confessed to being a big meat eater.

Bill, on the other hand, is a lacto-ovo vegetarian whose diet consists of 30% protein, 40% carbs and 30% fat.

Bill goes on to describe a unique use of visualization. We all use visualization techniques in our training, but Bill even uses visualization techniques with his diet: he thinks about what he wants the food to do to his body.

A Fun Time

I can't tell you how much fun you will have watching this seminar. There's even a surprise guest appearance by Ed Corney who shares his philosophy of bodybuilding.

If all this great advice on training, diet, and lifestyle wasn't enough to psyche your training, there are some great slideshows of photos of these two champions. I thought I had seen almost every photo ever published of these Draper and Pearl, but there are not only the classic shots that send me into the gym with new resolve every time I see them, but photos I had never seen before.

If you want to see the photos I've never seen before, get the DVD, but just to wet your appetite, here are two photos, one of each man, that I think are two of the greatest photos of anybody in the sport at any time:

If you love training and you love bodybuilding, you will love this DVD. I strongly recommend it and am delighted to have my own copy to view over and over again. For your own copy click here or visit www.billpearl.com, or www.edcorney.net, or www.davedraper.com.