Every year amazing new bodybuilders burst on the scene, winning major titles and establishing themselves as superstars of the sport. One of the brightest new stars is Charles Glass, winner of the NPC National and IFBB World Championships during 1983. And during 1984, Glass was in greatly improved condition, placing high in both the Mr. Olympia and World Grand Prix Finals.
Although success appears to have come to Charles overnight, he actually struggled for many years to achieve national recognition. For more than five years he consistently placed in the top five at national events like Junior Mr. America, Mr. USA and Mr. America, but without winning a major title. It was only when he reduced 15 pounds from his normal competition bodyweight to make the NPC-IFBB middleweight class limit of 176 pounds - achieving extraordinary muscularity in the process - that Glass was able ot win his National and World Championships.
I caught up with busy Charles Glass during a recent evening following his workout at Gold's Gym in Venice, California. Since Charles works full time as an engineer for an aeronautics research firm, this was the only free time he had available. I was eager to question him about his background and training methods for IronMan magazine, and Charles was most gracious and cooperative in answering my questions.
"My serious athletic career began with high school and Junior College football, where I was a running back, then reached its first peak with high-level gymnastics at the University of California, Berkeley," he said. "In my senior year I was lucky to win nearly all of my floor exercise and still rings competitions, and was elected the team captain, which really flattered me.
"When I exhausted my college athletic eligibility in 1974, I stopped by the Cal weight room to see if a little wright training might serve to keep me fit. There I met Dr. Casey Donovan, now an exercise physiologist at USC, and Bill Reynolds, who became a bodybuilding journalist. Once Casey and Bill got ahold of me, I was on track to become a serious competitive bodybuilder."
Dr. Donovan recalls the early Charles Glass: "He had tremendous deltoid development from his gymnastics participation, but his legs were very thin. In his first workout Charles easily bench pressed 300 pounds at a bodyweight of 150, but 225 pinned him when he tried to squat with the weight.. However, Charles worked hard, and within less than six months won his first title, Novice Mr. California. After that, he was hooked!"
At 5/7" in height, Glass built up from 150 to a solid 210 in the off season (a weight, incidentally, at which he still has a 29 inch waist measurement), and a diamond hard 190 on stage. His bench press increased to 525 in strict form, he's squatted 550 for reps, and all other exercise weights drastically increased. The Charles Glass physique is now noted for balanced proportions, striking symmetry and mind blowing muscle density. In ten years with this physique he has won 15 titles and more than 100 bodybuilding trophies.
I asked specifically about how Charles Glass trains:
"I use pretty much the same program sequences year round," he commented. "But in the off season I use straight sets, a greater proportion of basic exercises, and the heaviest possible weights in strict form for between 5 and 8 reps per per set. Prior to competition, I include some more isolation work, superset most of my exercises, increase my reps to 10-12 each set, and use somewhat lighter weights to bring out maximum muscularity.
"All year, I train six days a week on a split routine, working major muscle groups two or three days per week depending on relative energy levels. I do calves and abdominals four to six days a week. I average 15-20 sets per muscle group, more for large bodyparts (thighs, back, chest, shoulders) and less for smaller groups (biceps, triceps, forearms, calves, abdominals)."
Charles gave me the following outline for how he divides up his body for the six-day split routine when working each bodypart three times a week:
M-W-F -- Chest, back, shoulders, calves (hard), abs (hard)
Tu-Th-Sa -- Thighs, upper arms, forearms, calves (easy), abs (easy)
Following are sample Charles Glass off-season and pre-contest routines:
Note: you can see how this would be applied to other bodyparts.
Barbell Curl, 4 x 5-8
Incline DB Curl, 4 x 5-8
Hammer Curl, 4 x 5-8
Concentration Curl, 4 x 5-8
Preacher Curl, 4 x 10-12
Barbell Curl, 4 x 10-12
Hammer Curl, 4 x 10-12
Concentration Curl, 4 x 10-12
"Concentration is a major key to success for me," Charles noted. "People say I'm 'invisible' when I work out, probably because I don't talk between sets or grunt and groan during a set. But I have a reason for not talking - it would spoil my level of concentration. During a set I'm fiercely concentrating on the muscle(s) being bombed, and after the set I'm already gearing up mentally for the next one."
Charles' diet is balanced and healthy during an off season cycle, allowing for a little favorite junk food from time to time. Otherwise it consists mainly of lean meat, fish, chicken, turkey, milk products, eggs, potatoes, rice, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, salads, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and a low level of supplemental vitamins and minerals.
"Close to competition," Glass said, "I reduce my caloric intake by replacing fatty meat with seafood. I especially like shrimp, and that's about all that I ate in order to get my weight down to 176 for the Nationals and World Championships in '83. Since then my pre-contest diet consists of skinned chicken breasts, broiled fish, shrimp, potatoes, rice, green vegetables, fresh fruit and green salads. I drink only water, tea or coffee. And I'm careful to use heavier amounts of vitamin-mineral supplements to avoid incurring a nutritional deficiency that would keep me from peaking optimally. This diet is an ordeal to follow, and it gets me totally ripped up within five or six weeks."
Once a below average poser, Charles is now one of the sport's best showmen, including back flips and floor planches in his exciting routine. In his planche, he balances only on his hands with his arms and body kept perfectly straight, but with his body held parallel to the floor. It's a movement requiring superhuman deltoid strength, but Charles holds the position for several seconds with ease, even turning his head toward the judges and smiling mischievously as he does the stunt.
"When I learned that my posing routine wasn't up to par, I hired a dance choreographer to assist me with it," Glass said. "It was a profitable move, and one which I would recommend to anyone who feels his routine needs some work. With a choreographer's help, my own routine improved 100 percent. And I know 10-15 other southern California champions who have also used a choreographer to improve their free-posing routines. It definitely helps."
Now that he's become a high level pro bodybuilder, Charles is inundated by letters and personal inquiries from his many fans. I asked him to reveal and then answer the most commonly asked question.
"Everyone seems to want to pile on muscular bodyweight as quickly as possible," Mr. Universe observed. "First of all, they have to understand that progress never comes quickly in bodybuilding. Men who succeed in the sport invariably have mastered the art of patience. They are also persistent, consistent and highly motivated men.
"You'll gain muscular bodyweight most quickly by training on basic exercises. A pyramid system in which you decrease the number of reps each succeeding set works for almost everyone. I recommend doing 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 , 2 reps per exercise on a pyramid, or 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 reps on back movements and exercises that place particularly heavy stress on the joints.
"Choose two basic exercises for large muscle groups and one for smaller bodyparts, and use the pyramid system for each exercise. Train four days a week, stressing each major bodypart twice a week. Eat wholesome foods and be sure to get plenty of rest and sleep. Follow this program consistently and persistently and you'll gain plenty of muscle mass!"
And to conclude our conversation, Charles outlined the following proven mass building routine:
1) Hanging Leg Raise: 3 x 10-15 reps
2) Bench Press: 6 x 12-2 (pyramid)
3) Barbell Incline Press: 6 x 12-2
4) Seated Pulley Row: 6 x 15-4
5) Lat Pulldown: 6 x 15-4
6) Standing Press: 6 x 12-2
7) Upright Row: 6 x 15-4
8) Barbell Wrist Curl: 6 x 15-4
9) Seated Calf: 6 x 15-4
1) Incline Situp: 3 x 20-30
2) Squat: 6 x 12-2
3) Leg Press: 6 x 12-2
4) Stiff Legged Deadlift: 6 x 15-4
5) Barbell Curl: 6 x 15-4
6) Lying Triceps Extension: 6 x 15-4
7) Barbell Reverse Curl: 6 x 15-4
8) Standing Calf: 6 x 15-4