Bodybuilding Training Article from

1970's Professional Bodybuilder Don Ross
by Chris Lund - 1981

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I first met Don Ross at the 1975 NABBA Mr. Universe, held annually in London.

We were sitting next to each other at the dinner dance which took place after the show for competitors and guests, etc.

Sitting around the room were some of the all-time champions of bodybuilding including Boyer Coe, Chris Dickerson, Steve Michalik, Roy Duval, and many more.

It was during the dinner that Don proved how much of a wit and character he was by entertaining us all with his experiences and, most important, his bodybuilding knowledge.

After wolfing down what looked to me like a whole chicken, followed by several helpings of apple pie and cream, Don began to tell me some of his secrets of building a fabulous physique, He told me that he preferred isolation exercises such as dumbbell laterals over compound exercises such as presses, etc. When I told him that I thought these were just finishing-off-type exercises he said, "Not when done with heavy weights and short rest periods."

As Don sat there at the table, I was amazed at the size and thickness of his pectoral muscles which were clearly visible through his casual shirt which looked as though it had been painted to his body. He really did look the part of the muscle man.

Don then told me of his disapproval of the squat exercise. When I asked him why, he told me that the had suffered a really serious injury of his lower back from the exercise, which almost finished his career. He said he concentrates now on the hack slide or Smith machine, leg extensions, and leg curls. One glace at the terrific thigh development, which was even obvious through his trousers, was enough to convince the most ardent squatter.

Don and I got on real well together over that weekend, and I looked forward to his return.

The 1977 Mr. Universe saw Don back in London again, and this time he was in terrific muscular shape.

It was obvious to me, as I watched Don pump up backstage, that he must be a very hard trainer, because he put so much effort into his warming up. I've never ever seen anyone work as hard at pumping up, and by the time he was ready to go on stage, every muscle of his body stood out like granite. Incidentally, Don relied on quite a lot of isometric pumping by using a chair.

For his efforts Don managed only to place in his height class, but I will never forget the audience reaction to his most-muscular pose. As Don slowly and powerfully brought out muscles and veins all over his upper body, the audience yelled their approval and delight.

When Don returned to the States, we continued to keep in touch by letter, and recen.ty I decided that an up-to-date story on him might be of interest to readers of this magazine.

So here is a precise and detailed account of an interview he gave me.

Q. "How long have you been training, Don?"

A. "I've been training 19 years."

Q."That's a long time."

A. "How old are you?"

A. "I'm 33"

Q"Who is your favorite bodybuilder?"

A. "Bill Pearl."

Q."What is your job, Don?"

A. "At the present time I am the Manager of Clancy Ross's gym in Walnut Creek, California."

Q. "Are you married?"

A. "Yes, and I'm happy to say my wife hits the weights each day, too."

Q. "I know quite a lot of readers like to know the favorite exercises of the top stars. Would you let me know your, Don?

A. "Okay, for biceps I really prefer curls on a vertical stand or barbell curls with my back against a wall. For triceps I like pushdowns. For shoulders, side DB laterals. For back you can't beat wide-grip chins and wall-pulley rows. For my chest I prefer incline press, and for thighs I do a lot of iso-kinetic full squats. Finally, for calves I like the standing calf machine."

Q. "Do you believe in going to absolute failure in your training?"

A. "Yes, I do believe in training to muscular failure, but I don't do forced assisted reps."

Q. "What do you think of the Nautilus machines?'

A. "I think that the Nautilus machines are great when used in conjunction with conventional weight-training equipment. If you use the Nautilus machines by themselves, you don't develop gripping or forearm strength as you would if you used weights. Also, since the movements are controlled you don't develop the tendon, ligament, and co-ordination you normally would,"

Q. "Do you have any hobbies, Don?"

A. "I like music, especially rock 'n roll. I like writing, cartooning, and I'm also very interested in psychology and human behavior!"

Q. "Do you believe in the very low set system of bodybuilding, or do you belong to the 'twenty sets per body part' school?"

A. "I fall between these two extremes. I find that I respond best to 10 sets per body part, but when in contest training, I up this to 12 to 15 sets per body part. From my own experiments and those of others I've observed at gyms where I've instructed, I find that the Mentzer style of '20 minutes / four days a week' workouts are only effective for those who have a lot of muscle tissue to begin with, such as Casey Viator and of course Mike Mentzer. The system just does not work for the hard gainer. I've found that two exercises per body part. for five sets each, done with maximum high intensity, are the best for muscle size."

Q. "How so you eat when not training for a contest?"

A. "When not training for a contest, I don't keep to any particular diet. Of course I still avoid junk foods, refitted flour, and sugar. I usually eat four meals a day, consisting of whatever I fancy."

Q. "How would you eat prior to a contest?"

A. My diet is well planned and consists of the following:

  • Breakfast:
    1 lb. Steak
    1 Glass Unsweetened Tea
    10 Liver Tablets
    1 B-Complex
    500 mgs. 'C'
    3 Kelp and Alfalfa Tablets
    2 Lipotropic Tablets
    1 Vitamin E
    1 Chelated Mineral
  • Lunch:
    3/4 lb. Roast Beef
    1 Glass Water
  • After Workout:
    1 Tin of Tuna Fish
    1 Glass Water
    10 Liver Tablets
    2 Ginseng Tablets
    2 Bee Pollen Tablets
    1 B-15 Tablet
  • Dinner:
    1 lb. Chicken
    Small Salad
    10 Liver Tablets
    (1 heavy Carbohydrate meal twice a week)
  • Before Bed:
    6 Eggs (any style)
    1 Glass Water'

Q. "What type of workout do you follow when not training for a contest?"

A. "I train four days a week and my workouts would be as follows:

Monday & Thursday

  1. Incline Press
  2. Pulley Crossovers
  3. Press Behind Neck
  4. Upright Row
  5. Cheat Curl (with slow negatives)
  6. D.B. Concentration Curl
  7. Triceps Pushdown
  8. One D.B. 2 Arm Triceps Ext.

Tuesday & Friday

  1. Wide-Grip Chin Behind Neck
  2. Bent-Over D.B. Row
  3. Hack Squats
  4. Leg Extensions
  5. Leg Curl
  6. Heel Raises
  7. Crunchie Sit-ups
    supersetted with
  8. Leg Raises
  9. Prone Hyper Extensions

5 sets x 6 reps
5 x 8
5 x 6
5 x 6
5 x 6

5 x 10
5 x 10
5 x 6

5 x 6 - 10 reps
5 x 8
5 x 6
5 x 10
5 x 10
10 x 20

4 x 50

4 x 25

"I must point out that these reps are only guidelines and I do as many as I possibly can until I can't do another rep."

Monday, Wednesday, & Friday

  1. Incline D.B. Press
  2. Decline Flyes
  3. Pectoral Machine
  4. Side D.B. Laterals
  5. Front D.B. Raises
  6. Bent-over D.B. Laterals
  7. Chin behind Beck
  8. High Pulley Row
  9. Close-Grip Chins
  10. Wide-Grip Curl (against wall)
  11. Narrow Grip Curl over vertical Bench
  12. Reserve Curl
  13. Pushdowns
  14. Triceps Wall-pulley Extension
  15. Triceps Kick Back
  16. Wrist Curl

6 sets x 6 reps
6 x 8
3x 15
10 x 6-8
6 x 6
6 x 6
8 x 8
6 x 6
2 x 10
5 x 6

5 x 6

4 x 12
5 x 15
5 x 10

5 x 8
5 x 20

Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday

  1. Isokinetic Full Squats
  2. Leg Extension
  3. Leg Curl
  4. Heel Raise
  5. Crunch Sit-up)
  6. Leg Raise} Tri-set
  7. Roll Ups}
  8. Hyper Extensions
  9. Neck Bridge
  10. Neck Resistance

4 sets 12 reps
10 x 10 - 20 reps
10 x 10 - 20 reps
20 x 10 - 20 reps

3 x 100

8 x 10
3 x 20
3 x 20

"During this time I rest only 10-30 seconds between reps. I never do bench presses anymore because my chest gets too big across the bottom, so I so all my heavy chest work on the incline and decline benches. Also, I do all my heavy full squats on an isokenetic power rack to avoid lower-back and knee injuries."

Q. "Don, this looks like an awful lot of work to me. Is there ever a time when you would do a lesser amount?"

A. "Sure, there's no way I could keep all this work going indefinitely. When the contest is over, I go into a period I call 'Conditioning Training.' This will last right up until the time I decide I am going to prepare for a contest. I train 3 days a week -- usually on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, doing one exercise per body part. My workout during this period would be as follows:

  1. Alternate D.B. Press
  2. D.B. Bench Press
  3. Chins
  4. D.B. Seated Curl
  5. Triceps French Press
  6. Leg Press
  7. Heel Raises
  8. Good Mornings
  9. Roman Chair Sit-up

6 sets x 6 reps
6 x 6
6 x 6
6 x 6
6 x 6
6 x 6
6 x 6
6 x 10
6 x 6

"On this workout I pick a weight that I can do 10 good strict reps on my first set. Resting only as much as 10 to 30 seconds. I do set after set with the same weight until I have complete the six sets. If I find at any time that I cannot get 6 reps, then I will reduce the weight slightly. The muscle should be very pumped after the six sets, especially if your rest very briefly for only 10 to 30 seconds. This is the very best system I have found for muscular size increases."

Q. "Do you believe that anabolic steroids are necessary to build a great physique?"

A. "Anyone who has read my two books, Secrets Of Muscle Building and Size, Power, and Muscularity, will know that for years I've been experimenting on ways of achieving a positive nitrogen balance through the use of natural foods combined with supplements. The best substances which act as anabolic agents are:

  1. A mixture of Kelp and Alfalfa
  2. Korean Gingseng root
  3. Vitamin B-15
  4. Bee Pollen."

Q. "What is your advice on taking food supplements and vitamins?"

A. "I believe that most bodybuilders tend to over supplement. 'Years of personal experiments on myself have shown me that the best advice is to take just enough for your own individual body type."

Q. "Well, Don, I would like to thank you tremendously for sparing your time and experience, and I hope that readers benefit from the article"

A. "Don't mention it. I'm only glad to help."

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