Famous as one of the one champion vegetarian bodybuilders of his time, Bill Pearl was a force to be reckoned with during the 1960s bodybuilding scene. Well built, symmetrical and possessing a force last seen in the days of yore, Pearl’s physique inspired thousands of muscle fanatics to hit the weights room.
Still training well into his golden years, Pearl’s workout routines combine longevity with muscle building in an impressive way. Be warned however, this program is not for the faint of heart. Indeed, Bill didn’t win four Mr. Universes by pussyfooting around the gym floor.
With the preliminaries in mind, lets check out Bill’s workout routine for his 1967 Mr. Universe victory.
In the first instance, Bill, like many of his compatriots, trained 6 days a week on a split body part system. What separated Bill from his competitors however was the manner in which he trained his physique. Whereas others may have done legs/shoulders one day, chest/biceps another and so on, Bill split his body in a seeming random order. Well seemingly random for the outsider. A key tenant of Bill’s training philosophy is training hard but smart, i.e. seeing what works for your body and going from there.
As discussed previously, Bill built his physique primarily through meat and dairy products, but after a scare regarding high cholesterol he switched to a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet plan. This, he has later recounted, saved both his heart health and the conditioning of his joints, thereby allowing him to train well into his ‘retirement’.
The Workout Itself
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Alternate Twisting Sit-Up ~ 1 set/100 reps
Incline Leg Tuck ~ 1 set/100 reps
Incline Dumbbell Sit-Up ~ 1 set/100 reps
Dumbbell Bends to Opposite Foot ~ 1 set/100 reps
Incline Lateral Raise ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Close-Grip Chin-Up ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Bent-Arm Lateral Raise ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Medium-Grip Chin-Up ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Decline Lateral Raise ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Wide-Grip Chin-Up ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Military Press ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Weighted Dips ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Press Behind Neck ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Incline Barbell Biceps Curl ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Decline Dumbbell Biceps Curl ~ 4 sets/8 reps
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
- Regular Sit-Up ~ 1 set/100 reps
- Alternate Leg Raise ~ 1 set/100 reps
- Dumbbell Side Bend ~ 1 set/100 reps
- Lying Leg Crossover ~ 1 set/100 reps
- Standing Dumbbell Curl ~ 4 sets/8 reps
- Incline Rear-Deltoid Raise ~ 4 sets/8 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Curl ~ 4 sets/8 reps
- Lying Rear – Deltoid Raise ~ 4 sets/8 reps
- Bent-Over Deltoid Cable Raise ~ 4 sets/8 reps
- Leg Extension ~ 4 sets/10 reps
- Standing Calf Raise ~ 5 sets/15 reps
- Hack Squat ~ 4 sets/8 reps
- Seated Calf Raise ~ 5 sets/15 reps
- Hamstring Curl ~ 4 sets/8 reps
- Calf Raise -on- Leg Press Machine ~ 5 sets/8 reps
A final topic of interest regarding Pearl’s training philosophies can be found here. It’s an extract taken from a seminar with Bill in the 1980s. As you’ll see, many of the training tenants exhibited above stayed with the muscle man for decades to come.
As always, happy lifting!