Bill Pearl is a legendary bodybuilder whose athletic career spanned almost 20 years (from 1952 to 1971). By his own admission and according to experts, Bill’s most significant achievement as a bodybuilder is the victory at the “Mr Universe” competition (in the middle of the past it was one of the most important bodybuilding tournaments, where every competing bodybuilder dreamed of winning 1st). At the same time, Pearl won such a prestigious title more than once: it became a triumphant in 1953, 1961, 1967 and 1971.
Bill Pearl is widely recognized not only as a successful bodybuilder, but also as an active promoter of a sports lifestyle. Not a single book and not a single bodybuilding film has been published under his authorship. The eminent athlete even today gives conferences and conducts seminars, where he instructs beginner amateurs and sports professionals. And this is at the age of 80+!.
Bill Pearl Biography
Bill Pearl was born on October 31, 1930. The future eminent bodybuilder was born in Prineville (Oregon), where he spent the first few years of his youth. However, he soon moved with his parents to Yakima (Washington) in search of a better life.
The fact is that Bill was lucky to be born during the “Great Depression”, when many Americans had to drag out a miserable existence. The hardest economic crisis and the maximum unemployment for America left their imprint on the Pearl family.
Fortunately, Bill Pearl did not lose heart, but found an outlet in sports. Like most peers, as a child, he was fond of playing games like baseball or football. He came to training with iron closer to adulthood: at the age of 14, a friend brought him a bodybuilding magazine, which the guys studied from cover to cover, admiring athletes pumped up like comic book heroes – the pages of the publication were decorated with photographs of Clarence Ross, John Grimek and more all green Steve Reeves.
When bodybuilder Bill Pearl began training, he did not have access to a wide range of equipment. And we are not talking about simulators that are relevant today, because many of them simply did not exist then. To order their first barbell, Pearl had to save money from part-time jobs all summer. Moreover, after the order, he waited for an expensive shell for several long months. In the mid-forties, the United States was a full-fledged participant in World War II, so most of the iron in the country went to military needs.
Bodybuilder Bill Pearl got the opportunity to work out in a real gym only after serving in the army. Having paid his debt to his homeland, he moved to San Diego, where a week later he became a member of the Leo Stern sports club. Around the same time, I tried my own hand at competitions for the first time – I took 3rd place in the amateur competition “Mr San Diego”.
Bill Pearl’s truly career in bodybuilding, one might say, began in 1953. This season, he won his first serious title: took 1st place on the “Mr Universe” (among amateurs), leaving no chance for the rest of the participants. The tournament, as always, was held in London.
Bill Pearl had previously won championships of various sizes: in 1952 on “Mr Oceanside”, and in early and mid 1953 on “Mr Southern California”, “Mr California” and “Mr America” (all amateurs). Therefore, becoming the best of the best was nothing new to him.
Pearl moved to professional tournaments in 1956 – he competed in “Mr USA”, “Mr Universe” and other championships. His first performance on “Mr Universe – Pro” was neither a failure nor a success. Although Bill won in “high growth”, he could not win in the open category (overall 1st lost to Jack Delinger). This defeat did not diminish the athlete’s motivation, but rather spurred him on. He began to train even harder in order to compete in optimal physical shape at the upcoming competitions.
In the future, Bill Pearl will achieve his goal of winning the “Mr Universe” among the pros. He will do this three times – in 1961, 1967 and 1971, each time bypassing younger, but less experienced competitors. In 1971, after winning the extreme title, the athlete will announce his retirement from heavy sports. The announcement did not surprise anyone, but it still upset the fans that he had and still have all over the world.
At the peak of his competitive form, Bill Pearl had impressive anthropometric data by the standards of the middle of the last century: with a height of no more than 175-178 centimeters (in different years), he could boast a competitive weight of up to 105-110 kilograms. These numbers may not look great today when there are Phil Heath, Jay Cutler, Dexter Jackson and other millennium bodybuilding titans. But believe me, in the 50s and 70s of the 20th century, his anthropometry was considered exactly what is incomprehensible.
With a similar fitness level, Bill Pearl has won multiple awards at the most prestigious bodybuilding tournaments:
- Mr. Oceanside 1952 – 1st;
- Mr. Southern California 1953 – 1st;
- Mr. California 1953 – 1st;
- Mr. America 1953 – 1st;
- Mr. Universe 1953 (Amateur) – 1st;
- Mr. U.S.A. 1956 (Professional) – 1st;
- Mr. Universe 1956 (Professional) – 1st – Tall Man’s Class;
- Mr. Universe 1961 (Professional) – 1st;
- Mr. Universe 1967 (Professional) – 1st;
- Mr. Universe 1971 (Professional) – 1st;
- World’s Best-Built Man of the Century 1974 – 1st.
It should be said that Bill Pearl is not only a titled bodybuilder and an active promoter of a healthy lifestyle, but also a good businessman. In 1954, Bill acquired his own gym in Sacramento, and in 1962 he sold it to open a new one in Los Angeles. In addition, he was the owner of a medical center that dealt with traditional medicine and the treatment of injured athletes.
An interesting fact: after retiring from bodybuilding, Pearl did not leave the sport, and for several years he was professionally involved in cycling. Indeed, a talented person is talented in all endeavors. To succeed in a new occupation for himself, Bill switched from pumping strength and musculature to developing speed and endurance.
Pearl has been recognized by a variety of bodybuilding organizations as one of the greatest bodybuilders of the twentieth century. So, his name was inducted into the IFBB Halls of Fame (1999), WABBA (1978), Gold’s Gym (1992), Pioneers of Fitness (1988), Oscar Heidenstam (1995) and Joe Weider (1994).
Bill Pearl Workout Routine
Bill Pearl was an incredibly technical bodybuilder. His workout program included one of the most difficult splits of his time, and was intended not only for gaining and pumping muscle mass, but also for a pronounced increase in strength indicators.
A typical workout routine went like this: on Monday Pearl did a full body workout called “Full Body Workout”; on Tuesday – training with a priority on the chest and back; on Wednesday – full body training again; on Thursday – training with priority on legs and shoulders, on Friday – again “Full Body Workout”; Saturday – hands, and Sunday, as a rule, was set aside for rest.
But that’s not all. Bill Pearl’s workout routine was about adhering to strict rules. Such as: each new “Full Body Workout” had to consist of exercises that were not repeated relative to the previous training of the whole body; calves were worked out during each such session; wrists, abs, biceps and neck were pumped almost every day (but not on Sunday, which was a weekend).
Bill Pearl’s standard workout was extremely intense and could last for several hours. In his prime years, Pearl spent at least 9 hours a week in the gym (and that’s not counting the extra cardio sessions Bill often did outdoors, doing cross-country walks / jogging).
Bill Pearl’s nutritional program was also unique in some ways. The fact is that his diet in the fifties and sixties consisted mainly of meat dishes, however, in 1969 the athlete radically changed his own priorities, becoming a vegetarian. So, he refused animal products, with the exception of natural milk and eggs.
Note that this happened 2 years before the extreme victory of our hero at the “Mr Universe” tournament. Skeptics everywhere said that a vegetarian diet would cost Pearl the title, but he proved the opposite: he won the competition with no chance for opponents (rumor has it that all the judges gave Bill maximum marks, just like when he first triumph at “Mr Universe – Pro” in 1961 year).
Did Bill Pearl Use Steroids?
Bill Pearl’s athletic career began, developed and ended in the golden age of bodybuilding. In the 50s and 70s of the 20th century, anabolic steroids were only gaining popularity, and then no one heard of such products as peptide hormones (neither Hexarelin, nor Ipamorelin, nor even Somatropin were on sale). The choice of sports pharmacology at that time was limited to single substances such as Methandienone, Testosterone Cypionate, Nandrolone Decanoate, Stanozolol and Methenolone Enanthate, and most of them were not available to everyone.
It turns out that if Bill Pearl was doping, then only “classic” steroids, the cycles of which were nothing revolutionary, but contributed to the stable progress of the results. It should be understood that these are only guesses. In his rare doping interviews, Pearl emphatically denounced its use by athletes.
Skeptics believe that Bill Pearl, although he adhered to the appearance of a promoter of a healthy lifestyle and pure sports, was experimenting with pharmacology himself. Like, to achieve his level of physical fitness, which he shone on “Mr Universe” in 1971, and even on a vegetarian diet, is impossible without the help of doping. Bill himself refuses to take steroids. It could not be otherwise, because recognition would destroy his reputation.