Doug Hepburn Strongman

Doug Hepburn interviewed by Bruce Citerman for Monster Muscle the Magazine

A pioneer of strength

In every weightlifting book or muscle magazine article about strength or world records there is one name always mentioned, Doug Hepburn. Doug was 1953 super heavyweight Olympic weightlifting world champion. He was considered to be one of the strongest men in the world and the most knowledgeable about size and strength.

Following is a question and answer session between Bruce Citerman and Doug Hepburn.

Bruce: give us some personal background of yourself

Doug: I'm 67 years old. I live in Vancouver. Canada. I have my own business called pro-line. I sell my own vitamins, supplements and exercise equipment. I also sell my own weightlifting courses.

Bruce: what is your athletic background?

Doug: gymnastics, soccer, baseball, swimming and bike riding,

Bruce: how did you get into weightlifting?

Doug: I started weightlifting at 14 years old. I was doing gymnastics mostly. One day I saw a man with big arms get on a bus and I said to myself that is what I wanted.

Bruce: your weightlifting courses that you sell consist of doing singles, triples repetitions and adding one repetition to one set each workout. How did you get the idea for this type of training?

Doug: Instinct! When I started lifting weights, everyone was doing 15 to 8 repetitions and sometimes 6. I started to do low repetitions and got great results.

Bruce: What kind of feedback did you get from this method of training?

Doug: Terry Todd, who was the first national super heavyweight powerlifting champion and muscle magazine writer, said I was the first one to devise the system of low reps and high sets that are used today. I revolutionized powerlifting around the world. Charles smith, who was a muscle magazine writer, told me that my method of training laid out the fundamental principle of building great strength. After the Russians saw me compete in the 1953 world championships, they altered some of their weightlifting training routines to my methods of training.

Bruce: What strength athletes used your courses?

Doug: Paul Anderson, who was 1956 gold medal super heavyweight Olympic lifting champion, wrote me a letter asking me to help his Olympic press. Pat Casey, the first man to bench press over 600 pounds used my courses, as did John Kojiglan and Stan Holland who were popular powerlifters in the 1960's. Anthony Clark, who set world records in the squat, benchpress and total. Cathy Faraldo, two time world powerlifting champion and national ranked Olympic lifter. Reg Park and Bill Pearl, both Mr. universe and famous body builders.

Bruce: Did you have natural size and strength?

Doug: I weighed 140 pounds when I started. I felt I had some natural strength because I was able to do shoulder push-ups and walk on my hands.

Bruce: How did you get into competitive weightlifting?

Doug: John Davis, a world Olympic lifting champion, had the Olympic press record of 320 pounds. At the age of 19 years old I tested my press strength and did 320 pounds off the squat rack. Then I knew I could beat John Davis' record.

Bruce: What contests have you entered and what were the results?

Doug: I started doing Olympic lifting contests around Vancouver. Then I entered the Jr. nationals in Olympic lifting and won. I beat Paul Anderson and weighed 265 pounds. In 1953 I won the Olympic lifting world championships, beat John Davis and weighed 270 pounds. In 1954, my body weight went up to 314 pounds, I entered the British Columbia games and won. I set a world record in the Olympic press with 381 pounds. My best lifts in Olympic lifting were a 300 pound snatch, 381 pound clean and jerk, and Olympic press. In power lifting in the late 1940's I entered an official bench press contest bench pressed 460 pounds at a body weight of 260 pounds. At the age of 54 I competed in an official bench press contest, and bench pressed 420 pounds and weighed 236 pounds. In exhibitions all the weights I lifted were not my maximum lifts, but were the same weights I used in training. I did 700 pound squat and dead lift. I bench press 550 pounds. I shoulder press two 175 pound dumbbells. I bicep bar bell curl 225 pounds for 10 reps. At the age of 68, weighing 242 pounds, at a Vancouver strength contest I bicep bar bell curl 165 pounds. I one arm shoulder press a 93 pound dumb bell and clean and press 173 pounds. All of these lifts are world records for my age group.

Bruce: you recently broke different weight lifting world records under the international all around weight lifting association in your age group. What was it all about?

Doug: at the age of 67 and weighing 235 pounds, I did the military press 220 pounds, bicep barbell curl 180 pounds, bench press 300 pounds with my feet up in the air, behind the neck press with 190 pounds, dumb bell bicep curl 75 pounds and a dumb bell swing with a 100 pound dumb bell.

Bruce: what kind of vitamins or supplements did you take?

Doug: I mix soy and milk protein together.

Bruce: steroids are a big issue in sports today. Being around weightlifting for such a long time, when did you see steroids start to be used and what are your comments about them?

Doug: steroids started in 1950. I was told this by the professors at the university of British Columbia. I believe this because I was head and shoulders above every other weight lifter in the world. Nobody was lifting the heavy weights I was lifting. The 1950's came around and hundreds of strong men came out around the world lifting close to the weights I was lifting. My comments on steroids! The advent of high potency drugs, especially anabolics and prevalent usage has obliterated all but the last vestige of sanctity in sports. Bruce: what are your future plans? Doug: I will continue to set more world records in weight lifting in one hour. I would challenge any man on drugs or drug free in my age group to compete against me. If they want to drug test me I would put up $5,000 and have them put up $5,000 to prove that I am drug free. If I pass the test I am going to take their money. Also, I am writing a book called "the anatomy of strength". This would be important to any strength athlete.

Doug Hepburn's size and strength routine this is the exact training program Doug Hepburn used to achieve his great size and strength. Here are the exercises: for upper body Doug will do bench press. Shoulder press and bicep barbell curls. For lower body Doug will do squats, deadlifts and thigh pulls. Let's start with the upper body routine: Doug will do 10 sets. Sets 1 through 5 would be his heavy sets. Doug will do one rep for each set to start. Then for sets 6 through 10, Doug will slap weight off and do 3 reps each set and use the same weight for each set. This is how Doug started the routine. Doug will take a weight he can lift for 5 reps, which will use for his first set. Then by using the 1.25 pound plates. Doug will go up 2.5 pounds each set so his 5 set will be his heaviest set and as I wrote before he would perform one rep for each set to start the routine. For example let's say Doug lift 225 for 5 reps, that will be his first set, then his 5 set will be 235 pounds. Then Doug will take weight off and perform 3 reps for sets 6 through 10 and use the same weight for each set. Now each workout Doug will add one rep to one set. Meaning one rep for one set for the heavy sets ( sets 1 through 5) and one rep for one set for the light sets ( sets 6 through 10 ) he would do that until he got 5 reps for all sets. As you can see the light sets (sets 6 through 10) will go up faster because of the 3 reps to start so if you want to use this routine use a weight that you can perform comfortably. When Doug achieves 5 reps for all sets he will go up 10 pounds and start from the beginning. For the lower body routine (squats, deadlift and high pulls) Doug will perform 3 reps for 5 sets and use the same weight for each set. Each workout Doug will add one rep to one set each workout. He will do this until 5 reps are use for all 5 sets. Then add 10 pounds and start from the beginning. Now when his body got strong enough Doug will add 3 more sets to the lower body routine, so he will start to do 3 reps for 8 sets and perform the same routine as before.

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