Bob Gallucci has a lot to teach you about gaining strength and muscle size without drugs. He’s proven in spades that it can be done. Bob set the undisputed standard for building drug-free muscle in the wake of champions who made their marks years before him like Reg Park and Bill Pearl. He went on to compete successfully in both drug-tested and nontested bodybuilding competitions in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s before getting his doctorate in education.
So pull up a chair and listen in: The “Professor of Muscle” is in the house!
DY: It’s great to talk with you. I remember seeing you in the magazines in the late 1960s through the early ’80s. How old were you when you started, and what did you weigh?
BG: I began bodybuilding on July 4, 1966. I was 15 years old and was quite interested in performing maximum pushups and pullups, and I was an avid gymnast. I only weighed 135 pounds at a height of 5’7”. It was the summer prior to my sophomore year in high school. I came from a working, middle-class family and lived in Windsor, Connecticut.
On July 4 my dad brought home an old York Barbell set—a bar, miscellaneous plates and one dumbbell bar, which were badly rusted. It took me a week to clean the weights, and then I began doing a wide variety of exercises. I had no idea how to exercise with weights, but I intensely wanted to learn.
DY: Did your body respond quickly?
BG: Absolutely. Even though I did unusual exercises—like one-arm bent presses, which my dad taught me—my body responded quickly. My gymnastics coach suggested I do some weight training in order to complete an iron cross movement on the rings. I began to train three times weekly, and my maximum pushups increased to more than 150! I began gaining weight and found it made some gymnastics movements more difficult; however, I achieved significant increases in strength, and I could see my body grow regularly.
DY: What about your early eating plan? Those were the days when little was known and supplements were in their infancy.
BG: Unfortunately, as a teenager I ate everything! I even ate Protein Fom the Sea—which tasted terrible. However, I also ate good food that my mom prepared, and I drank more than a gallon of milk daily.
Speaking of nutrition, after I won the Mr. Connecticut in 1968 at age 17, I was led into the vice-principal’s office and told that several teachers were concerned that I was placing an unknown powder into my milk on a daily basis. Although I never had to see the vice-principal before, he wanted to know if I was using drugs. I showed him the can of Hoffman Hi-Protein powder with John Grimek on the box. I explained that it was not a drug but protein to nourish my body and build muscle. He told me that he would inform the faculty of this and shook my hand. He had never heard of bodybuilding in 1968!
DY: Do you remember precisely what got you hooked on bodybuilding?
BG: Yes. In 1967, I was thirsting to learn how to lift weights. My mom brought home a Muscle Builder magazine with Dave Draper displaying his upper body in an arm-extended pose on the cover. I loved the photo and made plans to be as large as Draper. I read that magazine from cover to cover many times. It was my first muscle magazine. That summer—I was 16—my dad drove me to Mountain Park in Massachusetts, and I saw the IFBB Junior Mr. America contest sponsored by Ed Jubinville. I saw Allen Keene defeat Frank Zane for the title. I also saw Warren Fredericks, Elliot Gilchrist, Rick Giofu and so many more bodybuilders from the East Coast. I was hooked. I gave up gymnastics and started training six days per week on a split routine. I wanted to build a physique which could compete on the Mountain Park IFBB stage. I had no idea what the AAU, IFBB, WBBG or NABBA were at the time.
DY: Who were your greatest influences?
BG: My dad was the greatest influence on me. He always said, “Don’t be the jack of all trades, but be the master of one.” He realized when I was at an early age that I had the potential to develop large, shapely muscle, and he encouraged me to do so. My dad also supported me throughout my bodybuilding career. He attended most of my contests and almost always came onstage following a contest—especially a win—and hugged me and kissed my cheek. It was his way of showing total support for me.
By the way, my dad was so well liked by other bodybuilders that they would always ask if he was at the contest and talk with him. Peary Rader and John Grimek would always inquire about my dad.
DY: As a follow-up question, Who were your role models, and what core values did they instill in you that influenced your life’s successes?
BG: I was very fortunate to have great role models like my dad; however, I also met and had great role models in Boyer Coe, Bill Pearl, Chris Dickerson, Ellington Darden, Anibal Lopez and Dennis Tinerino. They were all friends as well as competitors.
I also had long friendships with Peary Rader and John Grimek. Both of those gentlemen taught me about honesty and integrity.
My wife of 36 years, Patty Gallucci, is the most wonderful person I have ever met. She has been a great role model for me throughout my adult life.
I had many great role models who were teachers at Windsor High School and at Central Connecticut State College. As a school administrator, I worked with approximately 22,000 students and about 1,000 staff members. Many of them were positive influences in my life.
Today, I have other great role models such as Tom Ciola and Cliff Armeduri. These men are my loyal and true friends, with whom I can discuss any topic—usually bodybuilding. We motivate one another.
All of those people, as well as others, helped to shape my life in a positive direction and taught me myriad values that have helped me throughout life.
DY: When you were competing, you must have been tempted to level the playing field. Other competitors were getting into drugs. What kept you from playing the drug game?
BG: That question was on my mind every day from 1969 throughout the mid-1980s. In the late 1960s only top competitors in the national contests were taking drugs. They were using oral anabolics. I heard about those drugs when I competed in the ’68 Teenage Mr. America contest. In September of ’68, when I was in high school, I innocently asked a friend of mine who worked in a drug store to “buy me some stuff called Dianabol, which is like a strong vitamin.” He informed me that I needed to speak with the pharmacist, who explained that it was not a strong vitamin but a drug that could do harm to the body. He showed me the Physician’s Desk Reference, which described the properties of the drug. My dad accompanied me when I spoke with the pharmacist, and he made me swear that I would never use those substances. That set an important decision in my life—not to use drugs. Once I make a promise, I would never break it. I never broke that promise to my dad.
DY: Were you temped?
BG: Yes, of course I was tempted. A good friend of mine (and a world champion bodybuilder) met with me in 1972. I’d just returned from the 1972 Mr. America contest and was discouraged due to my poor showing and because almost everyone was talking about drug usage. My friend told me that he believed that I had the best potential in the country and that I should be able to win both the 1973 Mr. America and the 1973 NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe. He strongly suggested that I take a semester off of college, go to Pasadena to train for four months and immediately see his doctor and get the same prescription for anabolic drugs he was using. I could follow his on-and-off cycles and be totally prepared for the Mr. A. He felt that with the potential increase in size and muscularity, I could reach a new level for AAU bodybuilding within a year.
I realized that he had my best interests in making the offer. After a long pause, however, I told him thank you but no thank you. We parted as friends, and I chose the path less followed—and it has made all the difference in my life!
DY: What observations did you make about the bodybuilding drug culture?
BG: From 1969 to 1972 I noticed that drug use had moved from a few competitors at national competition to the majority of competitors at the national level using drugs. Competitors were now openly discussing the orals and injectibles they were using, cycling, effects, gains, weight loss, on/off cycles, where they were injecting, how they were obtaining the drugs, prices, use of embryonic growth hormone, etc. I saw competitors gain 25 to 30 pounds of muscle in one year, and I gained only two to three pounds of muscle in the same time. (Once you’re in national competition, you do not gain as significantly as you did in the early stages of training.)
One national competitor weighed 175 pounds at the 1969 Junior USA contest and about 230 at the 1971 Mr. America. That’s an increase of 55 pounds! I believe I gained three or four pounds during that same time.
DY: Was it discouraging?
BG: Absolutely! It was difficult to see competitors pass me by when I knew that I trained as hard as anyone in the country. I never missed a workout. I supplemented. However, they continued to make outstanding gains for contests.
DY: Did you notice any disadvantages for the bodybuilders who were using drugs?
BG: Yes, definitely! I noticed that both local and national competitors who used drugs often coughed blood and displayed gynecomastia, glandular swelling and severe acne, often on the upper back. There is no empirical evidence that steroids cause extreme aggression at the .05 level of significance, but I experienced many bodybuilders and weight trainers who were highly agitated and extremely aggressive on cycle. Off cycle they were different people.
Most of the competitors using steroids would cycle off their drugs immediately following a contest. They would lose significant muscle size and would almost never take a photo in the off-cycle time. I competed at 198 to 205 pounds. After a contest I would gain 12 to 15 pounds—some water weight—and my bodyweight would naturally settle at around 215 within a few weeks. My strength would increase following a contest. Off-cycle competitors would lose strength. I was able to maintain size and strength throughout the year. That reinforced my belief that I had made the right decision. If I entered this bodybuilding game to improve my physical self and health, why would I ever do something destructive to my body?
At some point the competition days would be over and the trophies put away. I asked myself, “Is there more to life than just winning a physique contest?”
DY: Let’s clear up some myths and talk about what’s possible. Can you outline your weight and strength gains through the years?
BG: In the September ’82 Iron Man an article demonstrated my anthropometrical gains over a long period of time as a drug-free bodybuilder for life. The chart [on page 130] demonstrates a long, slow process of building muscle over 15 years.
My gains were swift during the first few years and continued at a slower pace. The 1981 measurements were taken on the day I won the Natural Mr. America contest. The 1974 measurements were taken when I won the 1974 Collegiate Mr. America.
I believe those types of gains are attainable through hard work, nutrition and a commitment to succeed. I also believe the public understands that and does not find the true, drug-free physique repulsive.
When I won the ’74 Collegiate Mr. America contest, the national strength symposium was also being held at the same place, Montclair State College, that weekend. There were presenters and college professors everywhere. One presenter, a professor, asked to take photos with me and complimented me on attaining my level of physique development without drugs. He used that photo of us in his final presentation at the symposium, furthering the acceptance of drug-free physiques.
DY: What was the foundation of your training protocol?
BG: I became a power-bodybuilder in 1972 and began using heavier weights for lower reps—four to six. I did basic exercises and steadily increased my strength until 1985, when I sold our gym business and decreased my training regimen. Some of my workout poundages included:
Behind-the-neck presses 225-245 pounds x 4-6 reps
Bench presses 415-435 pounds x 3-4 reps
Decline dumbbell presses: 150-pounders x 6-8 reps
3/4 squats 525 pounds x 6 reps
Incline dumbbell extensions 60-pounders x 6 reps
Dumbbell laterals 55 pounds x 6 reps
One-arm concentration curls 90 pounds x 4-6 reps
I did not like to do one-repetition maximums because I did not want to get injured. I was a power bodybuilder who tried to emulate Reg Park. Although Boyer was my early idol, I realized in the early ’70s that my physique was similar to Reg Park’s and that I would benefit from being a power bodybuilder in order to gain more size. There is a famous photo of Reg Park doing a lat spread, and I believe my 1981 lat spread, which was featured in many magazines, compared quite favorably.
DY: So you patterned your training after Reg’s?
BG: In 1971 and ’72, I realized that I was competing against steroid-growth hormone-and-testosterone users and that I needed to gain more size. I developed a power-bodybuilding routine of basic exercises, forced reps and a six-day training cycle. My training partners were power crazy, and so was I! One day—I was a teenager—my friend’s car stalled on the highway, and I had to push it a distance to a secondary road. It gave me a great thigh workout. I never forgot that. In 1972, following every leg workout, my dad would steer a Galaxy 500—a very large car—and I would push it about 100 yards up our street, rest, then push it 100 yards back. It was a great workout, and my legs exploded in size. In fact John Grimek stopped me at the Mr. America contest that year and said, “Bob, you got huge, especially in the legs!” Then he said in his straightforward manner, “Are you using?” I reinforced to him that I had never used, nor would I ever. We shook hands, and he never questioned me. I will always have the greatest admiration for John Grimek. He knew I would not lie to him.
DY: What drove your training? I’m talking about that man-on-a-mission, over-the-edge training where you leave nothing in the gym but a heap of twisted, sweat-drenched scrap metal. Where does that kind of motivation come from?
BG: Every time I set a goal, I must achieve that goal. Whether it’s raising a family, having a successful marriage, having a successful bodybuilding or educational career or attaining a doctoral degree, I set my goals high. I wanted to win the Teenage Mr. America title and a Mr. America title and be the best drug-free-for-life bodybuilder. I realized the intense, hard work, sacrifice and dedication it would take to attain those goals. I truly focused on intense training and believed that if I could do another rep or set in order to attain growth, I would do it. I would not let any human being train harder than me. I also realized that I had to train harder in order to successfully compete against drug-using competitors. That motivated me even more! My dad was a great inspiration in helping me attain my maximum potential.
DY: Clearly you have the mind-set to get it done. Did that affect other areas of your life, like your career and your personal relationships?
BG: Yes. When I was in high school, my uncle, John Gale, noticed the extreme focus and intensity I displayed in bodybuilding. Upon my graduation he told me that if I channeled just a portion of that intensity and focus into academics, I would be successful in college. I graduated from college in 1974 with honors and was the president of two large organizations and received the Presidential Citation Award for Central Connecticut State University.
Later, in my doctoral program, I realized the extreme commitment I would have to make to the dissertation, and I wavered. It was the sheer force of determination—and my wife’s support—that helped me to persevere and earn my doctoral degree. That extreme determination and focus has helped me achieve success in every aspect of my life.
DY: Getting back to your training methods, up until the early ’80s everyone trained using either a four-days-a-week or a six-days-a-week split. Then Arthur Jones came along and turned bodybuilding on its ear, training some of the people you have mentioned on a three-days-a-week total-body routine. How is it you never gave Jones’ theories a thought and opted for the volume method?
BG: I met Arthur Jones at the 1970 Mr. USA contest. I obtained his training bulletins, which were book length and full of new ideas and information. I tried most of Jones’ theories for a short period of time, but I did not obtain the results that I experienced from my six-day split. However, I incorporated some of his theories into my forced-rep high-intensity training, such as preexhaustion. I needed to change my stimuli every eight weeks in order to continue to promote muscle growth. I usually changed my routine every six to eight months. Jones’ method used the same machines and the same intensity. That did not work for me.
DY: What’s your take on lifting weights vs. throwing weights? A lot of pros actually use looser form so they can lift heavier. Their movements are also performed with a bit of speed and momentum. On the other hand, lot of so-called personal trainers seem to advocate slow, strict movements. What’s your preference?
BG: I always liked warming up thoroughly using strict, slow movements on each exercise. I progressively increased the resistance while maintaining very good form. I did not use ballistic motion; I used smooth motion, always in control. My last three to four sets would consist of smooth motion using forced reps. During the last two reps I would fight the resistance using the slowest motion possible. I would actually try to hold the weight during the final sticking point of greatest resistance and slowly lower it. An example: At my peak, I used 85- or 90-pound dumbbells on seated one-arm concentration curls. My arms grew to more than 20 inches.
DY: Ninety pounds for concentration curls? Yeah, I guess that would grow 20-inch arms. What are some mistakes that people make in their training when they’re trying to gain size?
BG: Most bodybuilders don’t realize that the trained skeletal muscle generally will become stronger than the surrounding joint—i.e. the ligaments and tendon attachment. Therefore, as bodybuilders build muscles that can use greater resistance, they must understand that they should only use a resistance that can be accommodated by both the muscle and the joint. Most bodybuilders do not listen to their joints, and that results in injuries.
I sincerely believe in forced reps, negative training and high intensity to build muscle, but drug-free bodybuilders must realize that it’s a gradual process, and they must gradually develop the joint strength to perform at a high intensity at every workout. Also, it is so important to vary your routine—every eight weeks change your routine and every six months change your system of training. Those changes will stimulate the muscles and joints for further growth.
I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they have specific favorite exercises that they always perform and never vary their routine. In bodybuilding, if you continue to do the same thing for long periods of time, you will not maintain maximal gains.
DY: What about diet mistakes?
BG: Eat a sensible diet with sufficient carbohydrates for energy and high-protein foods with low fat. List the foods you like to eat and try to build a diet around them using five meals per day. Never eat until stuffed. Eat until you are almost satisfied. I build my diet around egg whites, tuna, skim milk, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese with pineapple, raisins, orange juice, 98 percent lean hamburger and energy bars.
DY: Let’s talk about supplements for muscle gain. With so many on the market, which do you feel effectively aid in building muscle or getting ripped?
BG: Find what works for you and stick with it, but try to stay with the same line of supplements. I choose Hot Stuff because it has so many vitamins and nutrients and whey protein. I also use Hot Stuff’s Razor Cuts for increasing metabolic rate and helping to assist in muscularity. All the supplements in the world won’t help unless you have a great diet, as I discused for the previous question.
DY: What’s your diet strategy, on-season and off?
BG: In my youth I ate everything and gave up whole milk two weeks prior to a contest. As I got older, in the off-season I altered my diet to include eggs, skim milk, tuna, whole-wheat bread, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, lean hamburger, grapefruit juice, orange juice and would eat whatever I wanted for one meal per week—my “sin” meal. About two months prior to a contest I would use only nonfat dry milk, watered down, tuna mixed in a bowl with lettuce and small amounts of lowfat mayonnaise, fat-free cottage cheese, fat-free turkey, no bread, egg whites, lots of water and small amount of grapefruit juice.
DY: Can you list a sample day of eating?
BG: I’m a firm believer in keeping a diet log of everything you eat. Write down exactly what you eat and calculate the calories for each meal and for the day. Here is an example of what I eat on a regular basis:
June 10, 2009
Daily Total: 2,089 calories
6:30 a.m. (520 calories)
1 cup orange juice (110 calories)
Hot Stuff and milk (220 calories)
Cheerios and milk (190 calories)
10:30 a.m. (400 calories)
Hot Stuff and milk (220 calories)
Energy bar (180 calories)
1 p.m. (403 calories)
2 cups orange juice (220 calories)
1 can tuna (70 calories)
Light mayo (35 calories)
2 turkey slices (18 calories)
Cottage cheese (60 calories)
3:30 p.m. (516 calories)
1 1/2 cans tuna (105 calories)
Light mayonnaise (35 calories)
1 piece cheese (60 calories)
4 slices turkey (36 calories)
1 multigrain bagel (170 calories)
1 cup orange juice (110 calories)
5:45 p.m. (250 calories)
Energy bar (180 calories)
1 cup skim milk (70 calories)
DY: How do you overcome training plateaus?
BG: Every six months I take one week off of training—that’s good for the mind, and it allows the body to rest. Immediately after I return to training, new gains emerge. Also, as I said, every eight weeks I change my workout. I develop great soreness immediately upon using a new routine. Every six to eight months I change the system of training.
Example: I thrived on training six days per week, working each body-
part twice weekly and using three exercises per body-part for four to five sets each. The first exercise is the overall bulk builder. For chest that might be dips for five sets of six reps (the last two reps were always forced). The next two exercises would be supersets of four to five sets and six to eight reps. For chest that might be decline dumbbell presses and incline dumbbell flyes. I would use that system for six to eight months. The next system might be three-days-per-week training using six exercises for pure bulk and power along with three days for smaller bodyparts, like forearms, calves, abdominals, hamstrings and neck. The change in systems gave my body a new stimulus, which allowed me to break plateaus.
DY: So your overall training strategy is?
BG: Keep pushing until you can’t move the bar another inch. Warm up carefully and mentally prepare for every set. Don’t talk during training. Attack your muscles and maximize your potential by putting everything into that training session. If you walk out of the gym and think you could have done more, then you should have done more!
DY: Please describe a typical week of your training bodypart by bodypart.
BG: Today and 30 years ago I trained six days per week. I trained each bodypart twice weekly, which enabled me to have three days of rest until I worked that bodypart again. Example:
Sunday and Thursday: Chest, back, shoulders
Tuesday and Friday: Biceps, triceps, forearms, abs
Wednesday and Saturday: Thighs, hamstrings, lower back, calves, neck, abs
Most of my routines use supersets, and I choose my exercises carefully to work different parts of the muscle from different angles. For example, for chest I presently use incline-bench presses, five sets of 12 to 15 reps—all single sets. Then, I do supersets of wide-grip dips, 10 to 12 reps, and decline dumbbell flyes, 12 to 15 reps. I do the first three supersets to failure and use forced reps on the last two sets of each exercise. That’s similar to what I did 30 years ago. The only difference is that I used to do four to eight reps per set. I follow each set with a 10-second isometric tense.
DY: How have your joints reacted to that training? Have you experienced any injuries?
BG: At first I experienced joint injuries in the glenohumeral area, the flexor portion of the forearm, the knees, the acromioclavicular joint and the sacrum-lumbar area. When I stopped using heavy weights—like 610 pounds for 10 reps in the squat machine at age 57—and I began warming up carefully and switched to using moderate weights for 12 to 20 reps, that changed. I have not had an injury in five months! Today, the joints have caught up with the increased strength in the muscles, but I am always conscious of working with poundages within the limit of the joint and not just the muscle.
DY: What’s your overall philosophy of bodybuilding?
BG: Most of us got involved in bodybuilding for physical-culture reasons. We wanted to improve our physiques, become stronger and look and feel better. We did it for ourselves and not for some other reasons. As we progressed, the journey of bodybuilding became paramount for purists like me who thoroughly enjoy the pump. I still get excited at each workout when I feel the pump and see how the muscles react to training.
Make bodybuilding a part of your lifetime goals and never lose perspective where it fits in your life. Never make bodybuilding your entire life. Be sure to be well rounded—i.e., marriage, vocation, education, family, religion, financial stability, friendships—and include bodybuilding as a part of your life. The successful bodybuilder puts bodybuilding in proper perspective for his or her entire life and never loses that focus. Stay drug-free for life. It works, and you will have a longer life! IM