I hope that you could begin by telling us just a little bit of background information on yourself, how you got interested in bodybuilding and what led you to become so involved in it?
Well I was always small than average and so I in high school or junior high I always stayed smaller.
Then when I got to into high school, it kinda leveled out a bit.
And how tall are you Larry? About about maybe 12 foot tall? That’s the way you look in the pictures?
No, obviously I wasn’t 12 foot. I’m about five something.
At any rate you felt like you were smaller than other people around?
Yeah. I was smaller than others, but I thought, well, let’s see now what can I do to, to level that out? And so I started working out. Initially I had a chin bar in my back yard in Pocatello, Ohio and this would’ve been in the 1950s, probably. And it was actually an axle off of a tractor.
I rigged this thing and thought that’ll work. So I started doing that. Originally I was just using that to do chin ups and then I started doing flyaways. You know what that is? You know, gymnastics. So I started out doing the flyaways on that thing.
Then we, my friend, my neighbor from school came over and we started doing chins and all that kind of stuff to start building some muscle and we both were really into it really seriously. And then he got married and and he gave it up.
I said, are you gonna keep going until you win? And he says, no, no, I’m as far as I’m going. Well, I’m never quitting! I knew right then. I knew then that this was something I was going to get big as big as I could after my own efforts. And I started to grow and started doing pretty well.
So you, you were about 15 at the time you started lifting and how long did it take till you started noticing a difference, that your physique was changing?
Oh, gee, that only took probably a couple of weeks.
So you’ve said in the past that you didn’t feel like you genetically were gonna be very good at weight lifting, but you started and your body changed so fast that maybe genetically you were pretty good at it?
Yeah, once I saw myself starting to grow, I thought I wanted the attention from the girls. And you know, when you’re in grade school, in the first years in school, you go to school and you walk down the hall and show off.
As all the class members are getting ready, I got that chance to walk up and down the hall, the bells start ringing, and then you go to class. I wanted to look somewhat good walking up and down that I don’t even know what you’d call it, but I think all the schools had that kind of thing going on.
Did you get the attention you wanted?
Yeah, I did. I did, man. I couldn’t have been happier. I wasn’t a bad looking kid, but I was short. So I said, I’m gonna start training. I’m gonna start doing exercise. And I started at the YMCA and started putting on some size, and I started growing.
Oh my gosh, I was so excited.
My dad said, you’re wasting your time, get a job and do something worthwhile. I got no help from him.
Everybody’s been through that with their parents. How did you measure your success? You know, nowadays people have standards, bench, press things like that. Were you bench pressing at the time? Could you bench press quite a bit of weight?
No, I didn’t. I didn’t have a lot of strength at the time. I just started to grow and I started getting noticed. The girls started noticing me, I was just average as far as wanting to get attention from girls and I started getting it and from the guys, I mean, the guys that were big, the college athletes or the high school athletes, they started asking me for advice.
I’m telling you, my head got big, about bigger than my body.
How long did it take you to get to that point?
Oh, it was probably a couple of years.
And then how long did it take you to decide that you were gonna try to do this professionally?
Well, when I started making gains and the guys that were bigger than me, they started asking me how did I do this?
I said, hey, I can do this. I think I can do something like that. So I started really working hard and I kept doing that for the first couple years. And I set my mind, I set my mind like steel.
I was small, but I really was strong. I could stick to it cause I was smaller. I had to had to stick to it and I started growing and all these guys that were there baseball heroes, football heroes, they were asking me for advice.
I told myself, you can do this, just go for it, keep going for it. Don’t give up. And I didn’t, and before long I began competing in these competitions.
So you won Mr. California in 1960 and that was quite the accomplishment. Then you went on, you were Mr. Olympia, 65 and 66. You were huge. No one had a physique like you .
Shortly after you appeared on the scene and won the Mr. Olympia competition, Arnold Schwarzenegger came on the scene, and so you proceeded him by just a few years. Do you look at his career and imagine what if you had had that for yourself?
Well, you know, you always, think about that. You always pine for more size, you know, that kind of thing, but I knew that that didn’t work.
I mean, no sense sitting around pining for something that’s not gonna happen. So I said, what can I do to make it happen?
So I started finding different exercises and reading muscle magazines and getting introduced to the body builders that knew more about how you get size on your calves and your thighs.
I will say one of my blessings was that my arms grew well and and I started getting known for the size of the arms that I had. So huge that I started to lean against that.
Plus, you invented the preacher curl, you were the first athlete to really make use of the preacher curl preacher bench.
Yeah, it was over in Vince Gironda’s club in California.
What made you start start to be interested in doing curls that way?
I asked Vince Gironda the fellow that owned that gym and he really knew how to train. So whenever I’d have a problem with a certain body part, I’d ask what would you suggest you do here?
And he really loved it when you came to him for advice. So he gave me some good advice and I started using that and started getting bigger and bigger and started getting attention.
And like I say, my, my head got bigger than my body, it really did. And, you know nobody likes a smart alec!
There was a cowboy star, a big, tall, good looking guy. Clint Eastwood. Yeah, Clint Eastwood. He was training at Vince’s Gym and I’d go in there and mess around with him. And I put on his boots and walked around the gym and imitated Clint Eastwood. And he says, everybody likes a little ass, but nobody likes a smart ass.
You must have met a lot of the great. Did you meet those who came after you? Schwarzenegger?
Oh, yeah. Well, we’ve known each other for a long time.
What’s your opinion of him?
Good guy. He doesn’t get his due, but he’s sharp. Very bright. He’s always joking. He’s good at laughing at himself too. He’s a good man. We’ve been friends for a long time. He’s got a reputation for being a little bit of a womanizer, which I suppose goes with the industry somewhat.
I think most of those guys were, but I wasn’t because I was raised in the church, you know?
You’re a member of the church but was there pressure on you at the time?
Doing this professionally to womanize and party and, you know, go drown yourself in Hollywood culture. I would imagine that pressure’s there. But the pressure’s not nearly as great as comes from a church. You can always feel that a little bit, but you also feel the other one too, and the church has more sway.
That’s good. That’s a sign of an honest man. I would imagine the women though walk around the gym and probably gave you a lot of attention at the time you were winning these competitions?
Yeah. It was kinda nice.
How has the industry changed? Since you did this in the 1960s, the guys are big, a little bit bigger now probably because they take steroids. Were steroids part of bodybuilding at the time?
They weren’t right at first, they came on maybe two, three years later and the steroids started to come in and it was very effective, you know, you can really put on a lot more size with steroids.
But you couldn’t really use them very much because you’d lose your temper. And they weren’t illegal at the time.
Was there pressure on you to get involved with that, to put on size?
Since you won these titles, have you continued to stay active in the industry. You’ve you’ve started a nutrition company. What are you doing today to get fired up? Are you still lifting weights and keeping in touch with people?
Well, yeah, Let’s see. We design exercise programs and send out programs regularly to our clients. And we also developed a whole line of supplements that we sell.
That’s really our biggest business, supplements we sell. We make some really good supplement for those who are trying to gain weight or those who are trying to lose weight. I love working with both older and younger people. Whether they wanna gain weight or lose weight, we’ve got some products that really do help you accomplish that.
For those who are interested in bodybuilding, and if they wanna look like you did, can they get to the point where they look like you with good supplements? Do those really do those really help a bodybuilder?
They do help. Yeah, they really do. Of course, everybody has their own individual capability with their body. You know, sometimes some person’s gonna really take off and grow like crazy and another person’s gonna maybe grow half of that, but by taking the right supplements and the right training, they can. They can change their life.
How old is too old? Somebody who just wants to start body building in their forties, can they do it successfully?
Oh, it’s probably too late, but as long as you start while you’re alive. But you can, you can make progress for a long time. Long time at any age.
Of course, when you’re older, your ability to make those kind of growth spurts is less.
And at what point does that really become noticeable? Your ability is diminished to lift, would you say?
Oh, I wouldn’t say it ever goes away. It would just diminish.
Well, I’ve seen pictures of you online and, and you still look pretty good these years later.
The 1964 film muscle beach party you were in, did you enjoy doing those films?
Yeah, they were fun.
What finally brought you out of Hollywood and back to Utah?
Oh, it’s not a real world. You go over there and you see a pretty girl sometimes. Sometimes you go on, they put you on a cowboy show. All you have is horses.
So you came back and got married and you’ve now raised your own family.
Yeah, I got a beautiful wife. Rachel Scott.
And you live in the suburbs of Salt Lake City.
Do you feel like you received the same amount of recognition for winning the Mr. Olympia title as some of the other guys?
No. It was a big one, but the bodybuilding industry can get a little bit, what’s the word for it, it can get a little rough around the edges. But it’s a great blessing to have the church as something that steers you.
As you rub shoulders with those that do not have that benefit, you can see where they’re starting to get a little bit warped around the edges, where it doesn’t look as good or feels good.
Has bodybuilding become in the last 10 years mainly about steroids and things like that, is that what a lot of these guys are doing? Just living an unclean lifestyle?
Well if the guy’s competing seriously, he’s definitely on the juice.
You say steroids, you can’t possibly compete without using. How much big a difference do the steroids make? 20%. 30%.
Oh, it would depend on how much they take. Probably gonna be 40%.
They have natural competitions now. They test. But you couldn’t compete against a person that was really taking heavy juice.
Are there are there side effects of that kind of prolonged usage over years that affect these guys today? Or do they figure out ways around it?
I can’t answer that, but you never get something for nothing. So if you’re using that heavy, it’s gonna cost you somewhere.
And eventually when you quit, there are symptoms and things that you have to go through trying to get off.
I can remember that stage, but when you’re taking it heavy, heavy, the more you have to pay for it.
But I never heard of the dire things that sometimes you hear of, if you take steroids like that, you’re gonna gonna kill yourself. And I’ve never seen a lot of that.
Do you have any final advice for people who wanna get into bodybuilding?
Oh yeah, that’s an important question. I feel a little bit unprepared to give you an answer that is really gonna be something, but I would say for the young kids. if you’re thin and you feel you’re not getting the attention that you want, bodybuilding is great for it. It’s a great, great exercise, great to build strength. And it gives you a lot and improves your self esteem. So I think there’s a lot of benefit in it.
What would you tell to someone who was into bodybuilding and considering using steroids? To enjoy body building naturally and not to participate in that type of thing?
I’d say try to do it without steroids. I’d say try to do it clean. If you can do it and stay clean, you’ll want to do that.
You’ll be glad for that. It’s good for your health. Cause then you’ve trained hard and anytime you take some kind of steroids or something like that, there’s going to be some side effects.
It’s best for you to stay away from that. Learn and read the different muscle magazines, learn a lot about ways to make progress in training and you will feel better about yourself if you did it clean.
I really appreciate you coming on.
It was my pleasure.
I think it’s good for, you know, kids in school and things out here to know that somebody just like them managed to succeed as well as you did.
Yeah. I think it is too. I’d like those kids out there that I meet to get some kind of a boost.
They really don’t believe that they could ever do it. Then they find out they can get bigger and stronger and boy it’s so great for their self-esteem. It really is. It’s just great for them.
Well, I’m 36, so I’m a little bit older and, you know, I wish I would have started when I was younger, but just the small amounts of gains that I’ve made, even at my age, make me feel better about myself.
And I find myself spending less money and less anxious to try and do other things to make myself feel good. So, yeah, I think it’s a real positive.
Thanks so much, Larry. I look forward to meeting you in person some time. Take care.
Thanks to Steven Rinehart, K-TALK Radio (AM 1640).