Classic Bodybuilding: Famous Bodybuilders of the 1960s
The 1960s was a busy decade for human achievement but sadly also included a number of tragic events. The ‘60s brought us the Berlin Wall, the launching of the first man in to space, the opening of the first Wal-Mart, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and first airing of Sesame Street. 
Novels spanning hundreds of pages and multi-part television series are devoted just to the small subset of the major events listed above. Similar to our discussion of the 1950s, this article examines three Golden Era bodybuilders considered to be in their prime during the 1960s – Dave Draper, Larry Scott, and Sergio Oliva.
Related: Famous Bodybuilders of the 1950s
These bodybuilders incorporated and adapted the practices of and guidance provided by the professional bodybuilders most active during the 1950s to further increase the reach and social acceptance of bodybuilding as we see it today. This article discusses the background, diet, and training style of these three athletes.
Classic Bodybuilders of the 1960s
Dave Draper (1942-Present)
David “Slick” Draper, also known as the “Blond Bomber”, was an American professional bodybuilder and actor active during the 1960s. Dave featured in seven different films produced between 1963 and 1969, playing roles from “Muscle Man” to “Harry Hollard”. 
Dave took a balanced approach to nutrition, emphasizing the elimination of processed junk food, and trained using a body part split. His combination of proper nutrition, training, rest, and hard work resulted in him winning Mr. American in 1965, Mr. Universe in 1966, and Mr. World in 1970.  Dave is one of the few Golden Era bodybuilders that has an active blog and continues to post articles.
Dave recommends the following 11 fundamental general nutrition rules for those looking to build a lean, muscular, and aesthetic physique: 
- Avoid processed junk food and beverages high in fat, salt, and simple sugars.
- Eating a breakfast comprised of complex carbohydrates and a complete protein source.
- Eat every three to four hours.
- To gain weight eat larger quantities with higher frequency and to lose weight eat smaller quantities with the same frequency but the majority of the calories consumed in the morning.
- Eat more protein than carbohydrates.
- Don’t be afraid to eat a snack in between meals but make sure it’s nutritious.
- Minimize simple carbohydrate intake from sources like sugar and honey.
- Eat a small meal comprised of protein and complex carbohydrates 30 to 60 minutes prior to your workout followed by a protein shake or branch chain amino acids immediately post-workout.
- Eat a protein and carb-rich meal 60 to 90 minutes post-workout.
- Maintain a steady water intake throughout the day and don’t be afraid to double-up during an intense workout.
- Emphasize sleep, rest, and relaxation.
A typical breakfast for Dave would be hamburger patties, eggs, home fries, whole wheat toast, and coffee.  A snack may be yogurt with fresh fruit, a protein shake with oatmeal, or a low-fat muffin with cottage cheese.  Lunches and dinner emphasized meat and milk products, a medium quantity of carbohydrates and fats with ample amounts of micronutrient-rich salad and fruit. 
Dave was not a firm believer in adding excess fat sources from oils and animal products to increase daily calorie intake to gain weight. The majority of the fat he consumed came from trace sources within animal protein sources like meat and eggs.
Dave’s approach to training was similar in style to his nutrition approach – simple yet effective. During the Golden Era he emphasized basic movements and employed volume training which consisted of performing at least three exercises per muscle group, using a weight in the six to twelve repetition range, maxing out only when he felt 110%, training each muscle group twice per week, and hitting the gym five to seven days per week. 
His favorite movements include the compound movements like the bench press, dumbbell press, bent over row, dips, chin-ups, squats, and deadlifts as well as isolation movements like the lateral raise, cable crossover, and leg extension.  A routine heavily comprised of compound free weight movements and complemented by isolation exercises with an emphasis on progression for both will build a beastly physique.
Dave hardly performed cardiovascular training and wasn’t scared of overtraining in the weight room – during the off season he would perform one training session lasting 90 to 120 minutes and during contest prep he’d add a second training session of 60 minutes later in the day on most training days.  Dave did not build his exceptional physique by training meekly and putting in the bare minimum work – he lifted heavy and frequently, ate incredibly well, and rested as much as possible when he wasn’t training.
Larry Scott (1938-2014)
Larry Dee Scott, also known as “The Legend” or “The Golden Boy”, was an American professional bodybuilder and physique model with a one minor acting role during the 1960s. He played “Riff – Muscle Man” in the 1964 film Muscle Beach Party as well as played himself in the 2012 documentary entitled Evolution of Bodybuilding. 
Standing at only five feet and seven inches Larry wasn’t the tallest bodybuilder during the Golden Era but his physique pervades through the decades. He won Mr. America in 1962, Mr. Universe in 1964, the first Mr. Olympia ever awarded in 1965, as well as the 1966 Mr. Olympia.  Larry developed his jaw-dropping biceps using a body part split and low carbohydrate diet.
Larry typically followed the high-volume high-frequency body part split framework commonly employed by other elite bodybuilders during the 1960s. On average he trained six days per week, worked two or three muscle groups per day, and performed three or four exercises for each muscle group during the two hours he spent in the gym each workout. 
Using this methodology allowed him to stimulate muscle growth in every body part two to three times per week. He typically performed six to ten sets of eight to ten repetitions for each exercise except for forearms and calves when he utilized sets of up to 20 repetitions. 
Larry attributes much of his bicep development to the regular performance of the preacher curl, a movement originally invented by fellow Golden Era bodybuilder Vince Gironda, but also commonly referred to as the Scott curl.  Before a machine or specialized bench was invented Scott would perform the preacher curl by resting the upper arm on an incline bench.
He also recommends spider curls, reverse curl, straight bar curl, and keeping the elbows stabilized during all movements isolating the upper arm.  Scott employed a combination of heavy compound movements and isolation exercises, utilized instinctive training, emphasized the mind-muscle connection, and exhibited laser-like focus in all aspects of his training.
Larry at a low carbohydrate high in protein and fat. Most days he consumed large quantities of meat (usually beef), cheese, eggs, cottage cheese and little to no carbohydrates or vegetables.  This equated to a daily consumption of 200 to 300 grams of muscle-building protein per day or 1 to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight. 
During his mass-gain phases Larry would consume a shake three times daily with 1.5 to 2 cups of a protein powder mix combined with two-thirds of a quart of cream mixed with small amounts of milk.  This shake was not only high in protein and calories but also rich in calcium, testosterone-supporting saturated fat, and vitamin D. Larry’s top three supplements include a vitamin B complex, liver formula, and hydrochloric acid tablets. 
On occasion he would indulgence in small quantities of ice cream to satisfy his sweet tooth.  Larry Scott followed an extremely strict diet and hardly consumed processed foods or sweets. While most of us don’t depend on our nutrition and training habits to pay the bills, Larry exemplifies how the combination of consistency, dietary adherence, and an intense training regimen creates a world-class physique.
Sergio Oliva (1941-2012)
Sergio Oliva, also known as “The Myth”, was a Cuban professional bodybuilder active during the 1960s and featured in four films between 1971 and 1977. Oliva was a member of the 1963 Cuban National Weightlifting Team during the Pan American Games, was crowned Mr. Olympia three years in a row (1967-1969), and one of just three bodybuilders to ever outplace Arnold Schwarzenegger during an elite-level bodybuilding contest. 
Standing at 5-foot 10-inches Sergio placed first in 20 bodybuilding competitions ranging from Mr. America to Mr. Olympia between 1965 and 1981.  Like many Golden Era bodybuilders during the 1960s Sergio ate ample amounts of protein and carbohydrates every couple of hours and trained using a high-volume body part split. This no-nonsense approach to bodybuilder helped him to defeat Arnold, the most famous and one of the greatest bodybuilders of Golden Era.
On average Sergio consumed six low-fat, high-carbohydrate, and high-protein meals per day. He combined low-fat protein options like tuna, egg whites, lean cuts of steak and chicken breasts with minimally processed carbohydrates like oatmeal and rice. 
Sergio also understood the importance of consuming micronutrient-rich fresh vegetables. Most days he would consume salad and other fresh vegetables for at least two, if not three of his six meals.14 When Sergio was working full-time 12 to 14 hours per day in a manual labor-intensive job he’d consume one gallon of milk per day in addition to two gallons of water. 
During His diet was much lower in fat than the contemporary bodybuilding community’s recommendation to consume 0.4 to 0.5 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight but his body clearly responded well to this macronutrient split. Sergio hardly dieted before a show because he was always working long days in high-activity jobs and therefore was able to maintain excellent conditioning through the year.
Sergio found he responded best to a six-day body part split in which he trained each muscle group twice per week. For example, Mondays and Thursdays focused on chest and back, Tuesdays and Thursdays emphasized shoulder, biceps, and triceps, while Wednesdays and Saturdays stimulated growth in the abdominals, legs, and calves. 
Sergio structured his workout routine with moderate-rep compound movements early in the workout followed by higher rep isolation movements with supersets spread throughout the workout. He loved to superset bench press and chin-ups, dumbbell flyes and chest dips, behind the neck press with cable rows, and close-grip chin-ups with triceps push downs. 
Sergio gravitated towards the 5×5 set and rep scheme for many compound movements and arm exercises but was also known to use sets of 8 to 15 repetitions, sometimes even sets of 50 on abdominal exercises, to pump his muscles with blood and nutrients.  Sergio’s routine is not for the faint of heart as it’s high-volume (20-30 working sets), high-frequency (six days per week), and high-intensity (sets in the 5 to 50 rep range), but the results speak for themselves.
Sergio’s beastly workout routine, incredibly clean diet high protein and carbohydrates, and high activity level outside of the gym allowed him to maintain exceptional size, strength, and conditioning year-round. With a work ethic like Sergio Oliva it’s no wonder he was nicknamed “The Myth”.
Who is your favorite bodybuilder active during the 1960s? Let me know in the comments below!
1) Rosenberg, Jennifer. “History Timeline of the 1960s.” About Education. About.com, 28 Mar. 2016. Web. July 2016.
2) “David Draper.” Internet Movie Database (IMDb). N.p., 2016. Web. July 2016.
3) Draper, Dave. “Guide to General Nutrition.” DaveDraper.com – IronOnline. N.p., 2016. Web. July 2016.
4) Draper, Dave. “Questions About Golden Era Bodybuilding.” DaveDraper.com – IronOnline. N.p., 2016. Web. July 2016.
5) Draper, Dave. “Top 20 Exercise Recommendations.” DaveDraper.com – IronOnline. N.p., 2016. Web. July 2016.
6) “Larry Scott.” Internet Movie Database (IMDb). N.p., 2016. Web. July 2016.
7) Flex Staff. “Retro Athlete: Larry Scott.” FLEX Online. Weider Publications, LLC, 2016. Web. July 2016.
8) “Training Methods of Larry Scott.” IronGuru. N.p., 2016. Web. July 2016.
9) Scott, Larry. “Larry Scott “The Legend.” Larry Scott Fitness and Nutrition. Larry Scott Research, 2013. Web. July 2016.
10) “Larry Scott’s Ideas About Training.” GetBig.com. N.p., 2007. Web. June 2016.
11) Scott, Larry. “Instinctive Training – Larry Scott.” The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban. N.p., 5 Aug. 2014. Web. July 2016.
12) “Sergio Oliva – Biography.” Internet Movie Database (IMDb). N.p., 2016. Web. July 2016.
13) Perine, Shawn. “Sergio Oliva: Biography.” SergioOliva.com. FLEX Magazine, 2016. Web. July 2016.
14) “Sergio Oliva Diet & Workout Plan with Bodybuilding Pictures.” FitFLEX. N.p., 2016. Web. July 2016.
15) Robson, David. “An Interview With The Myth: The One And Only Sergio Oliva!” Bodybuilding.com. N.p., 19 Nov. 2012. Web. July 2016.
16) Madden, Mick. “Sergio Oliva Training Routine.” Muscle and Brawn. N.p., 29 Dec. 2009. Web. July 2016.
17) “Sergio Oliva Diet and Workout Plan.” Strength 365. N.p., 2016. Web. July 2016.
18) Salmon, Jon. “Olympian Training: Sergio Oliva Workout.” Generation Iron Fitness Network. N.p., 2014. Web. July 2016.