FOREWORD: The name of Ron Hutchinson is one of the most respected among physique contestants in the Southern California area. He is, however, something of a mystery man and one never knows when he will pop up at a contest and run away with most of the trophies. The reasons for his spasmodic appearances will concern anyone who will ever enter a physique contest, indeed the same reasons may ultimately affect the future of the bodybuilding scene.
Readers who live outside of the Los Angeles and San Diego area might not have heard of Ron except for the fact that he has been featured inside of and has appeared on the cover of IRON MAN magazine. He is, however, looked upon as one of the leading lights of this area and has beaten out such well known men as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Collras, Ed Corney, Ty Youngs, Paul Hill, Ed Giuliani and a host of others.
He is a self-made man who is very knowledgeable in both training and nutrition. His philosophy is one that is strongly governed by his deep belief in the Christian faith and during the story which follows I will, at times, be quoting Ron straight from my recorded interview with him. It is the story of one of the nicest and most interesting people it has been my pleasure to have come in contact with through the sport of bodybuilding.
I do hope that every reader will take the time to read what follows as it contains training advice from a man who could quite easily be one of the leading bodybuilders in the country were it not for the disturbing elements which have crept into the sport; elements which have caused this man, and many good men like him, to finally give up in disgust the prospects of entering future physique contests.
Ron Hutchinson was born in Dayton, Ohio, on February 15th, 1944. Always healthy as a child, he was an active participant in track and wrestling during his high school days. When he was 17 years old he happened to see one of Steve Reeves' "Hercules" movies and got hooked as so many have been by fabulous Reeves' physique. The only guidance he had at that time were IRON MAN and STRENGTH AND HEALTH magazines. Ron was on the short side but what he possessed in bodyweight was mostly made up of muscle. After a few months some of his school chums began noticing an improvement in his physique and this served to encourage him to continue.
At 18 years old with almost a year of home training behind him, he decided to enlist for a stint in the United States Marine Corps. There he was to meet two people who were to have an extremely good influence on his life as far as bodybuilding was concerned. The first fellow was Willie Johnson who did so well in the 1973 Mr. America contest. Willie and Ron became firm friends and training partners and Willie Johnson was able to impart much valuable training advice and give Ron lots of encouragement which helped his progress enormously.
Of Johnson, Ron says, "I knew Willie would make it to the top if he stuck with it. Even then it was obvious he could obtain an outstanding physique. He was just past the beginning stage himself but he had really good arms and an outstanding back."
The other person was a fellow he met during a stay in Washington, D.C. It was Staff Sergeant Sam Griffith. Ron tells me, "Sam Griffith was going around the country at that time setting up weight training gyms for the Marine Corps. He helped many, many people get interested in improving themselves physically. He had a tremendous personality matched by an outstanding physique and the combination certainly turned many young men onto the benefits of weight training. The man was an absolute walking, talking arsenal of health and fitness."
Through the various muscle magazines, Ron became a big fan of Larry Scott, who remains his all-time favorite bodybuilder to this day. Ron was, and still is, in many respects like the great Scott. On the short side, blond and rather thin before taking up weight training. Ron set up Scott as his ideal and would devour every word written about the man. He followed what were supposed to be Larry's training routines and from trial and error evolved certain facets of training that he has followed and had great success with over the last few years.
In 1965, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North California. Hearing that Larry Scott would be competing in the Mr. Olympia contest, he drove up to New York City to see Scott take the title. From that day on he was Larry's greatest fan and became determined to try his very best to obtain a physique along the same lines. As you can see by his photo, he has done an admirable job, although I personally know he could have done so much better had he not become so disillusioned and quit so many times just when he was on the brink of stardom. In 1966 Ron once again made the trip to the "Big City" to see Scott take for the second time the title of Mr. Olympia. By this time Ron was absolutely hooked on bodybuilding, placing it above everything else in his life.
After his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, he decided to migrate to Southern California -- the Mecca of bodybuilding. Sunny San Diego was the place he chose and he started to train at Stern's Gym in 1966, which is where I first met him. We got to know each other very well and have been good friends ever since. He only stayed at Stern's a few months, however, because like most people who come out to the coast from the country, he moved to the beach area, where he began to train with Mike Gauder and John Brudzinsky at Bud Keith's Health House Gym.
Bud Keith was to exert the greatest influence on his life. Quickly realizing that Ron had great potential, Bud took a close interest in him and got him involved in the all important nutritional aspect of bodybuilding. Prior to meeting Bud, Ron hadn't paid too much attention to diet, eating more or less anything he enjoyed.
About the time he started training at Bud's, Ron had blossomed into a well balanced but rather smooth physique with something a little "different" that made him a standout from most others at the same stage of development. I'm sure the reader will understand what I mean. Some physiques have that certain something that places them above most others. It's got something to do with bone lengths, muscle insertions and origins, etc., that produces a certain look that just sets a physique apart. Taking Larry Scott as an example: lots of bodybuilders could lay claim to measurements the same or even larger than Scott in some cases (except maybe for the arms), but Larry's overall appearance had that certain something that made him a standout in any company. Ron was now developing this "look" that was beginning to set him apart from the other bodybuilders in the San Diego area.
He had at this time been thinking about getting some contest experience but held back because he couldn't pose and he felt that he wasn't quite good enough. Bud Keith changed all that. He took Ron aside and told him the annual "Mr. North Country" competition was being held by what was then George Eiferman's gym in Vista. This is a contest which attracts good caliber physiques from the whole Southern California area. Ron was very hesitant but Bud was most insistent and eventually talked him into it, telling him he would help with his posing and put him on a diet that would harden him up. It seemed to be an impossible task to accomplish in two weeks or so, but a strict nutritional program which Ron followed to the letter, along with an intense 6-day training program, and every day running on the beach, produced a physique that simply walked off with the Mr. North Country title as well as the Most Muscular award.
A few months later he entered the 1968 Mr. San Diego event and simply ran away with the title as well as most muscular, best arms, best back and best chest awards.
1969 was a big year for him too. He took second place in the Mr. Southern California and also the best arms subdivision. In the 1969 Mr. California contest he also placed second, but took home more trophies than anyone else, winning best arms, best back and best chest subdivisions!
It was about this time that Ron started to let the problem of drug taking get to him. He was aware that most of the men he was competing against were on steroids, as they made no secret of the fact, and he would become extremely upset at hearing these fellows talking about it. In fact, after each of the two contests just mentioned, Ron came to me and told me he had "had it" with contests and was going to quit altogether. And he would, for a few months anyway. This was to be a regular occurrence after each and every contest he entered from 1969 on, even though he was well aware that irregular training just isn't enough for the fellow who wishes to climb to the top.
In 1970, Leo Stern and I witnessed Ron take third place in the Mr. California contest. We both knew that he had only trained for a short while for the event but he looked really good. Once again, true to form, being deeply disturbed by the backstage drug talk, Ron decided he had "had it" and promptly quit training. Leo Stern and I both talked to him, trying to encourage him to keep training and to enter the Mr. America contest which was being held in Los Angeles that year. We both felt that with a few hard weeks of training he could possibly be up there in the top five. It was to no avail, however, as he definitely thought he was through. Later in the year he did train for a short while and entered the 1970 Mr. Hercules contest where he was narrowly beaten into second place by a much improved Paul Hill. Nonetheless, he also took the most muscular and best poser awards. All this, bear in mind, with very little preparation.
In 1971 he decided to make a comeback and to enter the Mr. International contest which Eddie Sylvestre holds each year in Tijuana, Mexico. Hard training, careful dieting WITHOUT the aid of drugs, saw Ron in tremendous shape beat out Chuck Collras to take his height class. Then, wonder of wonders, he beat mighty Arnold Schwarzenegger for the most muscular subdivision award. Beating out men of this caliber would have spurred most men on, but Ron at this point, decided rightly or wrongly, that without using drugs himself, he could not compete with these fellows, so out of competition he went once more.
In 1972 something happened to Ron that was to have a profound effect on his whole life style. He became a Christian and the battles he had in the past with his mind over whether or not to use drugs as a bodybuilding aid were quickly won. After the frustrating years of wondering, he now knew he had done the right thing by refusing to use bodybuilding drugs.
Ron's Training Methods
As I stated earlier, Ron is pretty close to being a self-trained bodybuilder. Though he has worked out art such well known gyms as Leo Stern's and Bill Golumbick's and has received advice from both, nobody could claim to be his trainer. Rather, he is his own man. I'm sure most of the people reading this article would like to know something about his training methods, as he does possess an unusually muscular physique. Here, in interview style, in his own words, is Ron's philosophy of training.
George Coates: Do you have a favorite bodybuilder, and who do you consider the "greats" to be?
R.H. Larry Scott is my own personal all time favorite, although I think the two greatest in the world at this time are Sergio Oliva and Arnold. I wouldn't like to have to choose between these two, although for sheer VISUAL IMPACT there isn't anyone around who can touch Sergio. He probably has the most unique physique in the world today -- most definitely one of a kind. Bill Pearl is another favorite of mine. He is an extremely humble person who seems to be thinking more about the other fellow than he does of himself. There are a few others who I would classify as great. Dave Draper who has always impressed me at contests with a tremendous build, and his quiet courteous manner, and Frank Zane, who despite structural limitations, built one of the very best physiques in the history of bodybuilding. Certainly one of the most shapely and symmetrical. If Don Howorth hadn't been "forced" into retirement there's no telling how great he might have become. If I had to choose what I consider to be the top bodybuilders of all time -- THE GREATS! -- they would have to be Larry Scott, Sergio Oliva, Arnold, Bill Pearl, Steve Reeves and John Grimek, who was years ahead of his time.
Q: What type of training program would you follow if you wanted to bulk up?
A: I have never gotten really bulky as most bodybuilders do at various times. When I decide to add some bodyweight my program will consist of basic exercises for the whole body such as presses, squats, pullovers, benches and curls, etc. Lower pec thickness has never been a problem with me, so I usually do incline bench presses rather than use the flat bench. All these movements are performed fairly strict using 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps. I ALWAYS start off by doing some ab work, however, even when trying to gain size and bodyweight. I believe the waist should receive some attention in every bodybuilding program. When I'm trying to gain weight I never train more than three times a week. I eat pretty good but never ever consume any junk foods. I consume a lot of lean meat, fish, chicken, etc. I will also eat nuts while trying to gain weight, as between meal snacks, but because of their oily content will cease to consume them as I get close to a contest. Also when trying to gain I will cut down on my other activities. For instance, I do a lot of swimming, surfing, bicycle riding and running and all, but the running must be curtailed until I gain the bodyweight I need.
Q: How do you prepare for a contest? What methods do you use to achieve peak muscularity?
A: I ALWAYS go on a six-day split workout program for the last 6-8 weeks preceding a physique contest. I have found, after careful experimentation and evaluation, that it is more beneficial to perform ALL leg work on say Monday, Thursday and Saturday or vice versa. This method of training not only ensures the blood is kept in the area being worked but it also means the arms CANNOT receive too much work as they can using the more conventional split system.
For example, many people will do shoulders, back and legs on three days alternated with chest, abs and arms. The only trouble with this as far as I am concerned, is the fact that the triceps receive a lot of work with the shoulder movements and the biceps are in most cases given a fair amount of work in most back exercises such as rowing, etc. The arms are then subjected to a full blast workout on the other three nights -- WHEN DO THEY GET A CHANCE TO GROW? It's extremely frustrating for a person to see his arms shrinking from overwork, yet most people do this to themselves by simply doing too much for the arms without even realizing that this is happening. Incidentally, talking about arms, my favorite arm exercises are Scott curls and EZ bar triceps extensions and they usually find their way into my routines.
Of course my diet plays a major role in my preparation for a contest. I'm a firm believer in vitamin supplements and have taken some pretty hefty doses at times. Rather than use multi-vitamin/mineral tablets I prefer to take each vitamin separately in its own form.
I very rarely use milk at any time, preferring fruit or vegetable juices instead. On the rare occasions I use milk it will always be nonfat raw milk taken in small quantities. Of course when trying to cut up, I attempt to keep my protein intake as high as possible and will cut down a lot on cereals, bread, ice cream, etc. I don't go overboard on the high protein/low carbohydrate diet, as I believe my metabolism is fairly high and as long as I eat sensibly, my muscularity doesn't suffer.
For instance, a lot of bodybuilders won't touch potatoes, but I eat them because of their vitamin content. I consume a lot of desiccated liver tablets and truly believe they could be the most valuable dietary help the physique contestant possesses. Incidentally, I NEVER eat fried foods and just hate to see good food cooked to death this way. Not do I take supplements in oil form. I think cod liver oil, wheat germ oil etc., tend to smooth the skin out -- at least that's what happens to me. I do take some form of oil if I was trying to gain weight.
Fruits and vegetables I consume in a raw state as much as I am able, although I sometimes eat vegetables lightly steamed. I fix my own foods but find it necessary to do very little actual cooking, especially when preparing for a contest. I like salads, especially when cutting up. A good salad with cottage cheese can give your stomach a good full feeling without a lot of calorie consumption.
I never use protein supplements and think most bodybuilders waste too much money on them. I don't think it necessary to take 300-400 grams of protein a day, as so much of it isn't even used by the body at all. I personally believe 100-150 grams of good complete protein each day is adequate for even the hardest working bodybuilder. I think good lean meat, fish, eggs, chicken and cheese provides the body with the best type of compete protein. I never touch fatty meats like pork.
A sample day's food when training hard 6 days a week would be as follows . . .
- 1/2 lb lean ground beef, lightly broiled with cheese on top.
- 2 poached eggs on a slice of whole wheat toast.
- A protein drink composed of apple juice, a banana, yogurt, yeast, whey, lecithin, and soy powder. This makes a good, inexpensive supplemental drink.
- I will usually finish off with half a grapefruit with honey on top.
- Peanut butter, cheese and alfalfa sprouts on toast.
- An orange and lots of water to drink.
- On some days i might take a piece of fish - lunch varies but it's never a lot to eat.
- Another piece of fruit to provide energy for the workout which will begin around 4:30 p.m. right after work.
- Usually consists of as big salad with steamed vegetables and some cottage cheese.
My vitamins would be consumed as follows; Vitamin A and E once a day in the mornings, usually right after breakfast; Vitamin B and C three times a day, morning afternoon and evening; 15-20 desiccated liver tablets with each meal. I also take bone meal and kelp tablets for calcium and iodine.
The type of program I follow to get as cut up as possible yet retain as much size as I am able would be something like this . . .
1) Situps: 3 sets
2) Leg Raises: 3 sets
3) Hyperextensions: 3 x 12-15
4) Leg Curls: 5 x 12-15
5) Regular squats (very strict): 5 x 10
6) Front Squats (light): 5 x 10
7) Leg Extensions: 3 x 15
8) Calf Raise Standing: 5 x 15
tri set with
9) Donkey Calf Raise: 5 x 15
tri set with
10) Leg Press Calf Extension: 5 x 15
1) Situps: 3 sets
2) Leg Raises: 3 sets
3) Barbell Row: 5 x 8-10
4) Seated Cable Row: 5 x 8-10
5) Pulldown: 5 x 12-15
6) Incline Barbell Press: 5 x 8
7) Incline Flyes: 5 x 8
8) Cable Crossovers: 5 x 8
9) Upright Row: 5 x 8
10) Barbell Shrug: 5 x 8
11) Press Behind Neck: 5 x 8
12) Side Lateral Raise: 5 x 8
13) Bentover Laterals: 5 x 8
14) Barbell Scott Curls: 5 x 8
15) Incline DB Curls: 5 x8
16) Narrow Grip Triceps Press: 5 x 8
17) Lying Triceps Extension: 5 x 8
18) Pressdown: 3 x 8
19) Wrist Curls: 5 x 15
20) Reverse Wrist Curls: 5 x 15
Question: Have you any more comments on bodybuilding in general that you think would be of interest to the readers of IRON MAN magazine, especially those who are interested in entering physique contests?
A: One of the myths that seems to be a part of the sport, is that a lot of people seem to think the top men don't don't work hard for a living and do nothing but take supplements and work out all day. Maybe some of them do this, I don't know, but I personally believe that man is a creature of habit. I know that I definitely do better when I am employed full time and train in the evenings. What I mean is this . . . I get up at the same time each morning and have regularly scheduled meal times. A few years ago I took time off work believing I would make great progress by being able to spend as much time in the gym as I wanted to. What a waste! To my surprise I found I had too much time on ly hands and I would hang around the gym taking all day more or less to work out. I trained too long, yet wasn't training hard enough. Meals would be skipped because I had no special meal times. I find that when I am occupied during the day I'm governed more or less by the clock and my system seems to thrive on this, especially the regular meal times. This way, when I get to the gym I haven't any time to waste on bull sessions, but really wish to train.
It is my firm belief that to obtain the best results possible the programs should be brief, fast and hard.
I would like to add this as well . . . I know aa lot of men, when they give up competing and training, look back bitterly on it all as a waste of time and effort. I feel I could have done a lot better. I will continue to train because I believe in the benefits of weight training.
Enjoy Your Lifting!