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Retro Athlete: Larry Scott

How the original Mr. Olympia built his celebrated biceps.
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Larry Scott, who died on March 8 at age 75, will forever be immortalized as the original Mr. Olympia. He started bodybuilding at 16 in his native Idaho and won the state title at 19 before moving to Southern California. After he won the 1962 Mr. America at 24 and the 1964 Mr. Universe at 26, he had nothing left to prove on physique stages. The devout Mormon was reluctantly preparing to retire, as was Harold Poole, who had won the 1963 Mr. Universe at 19. But Joe Weider had a transformative idea: He created the Mr. Olympia, a professional contest to determine which Mr. U was better.

Scott won the inaugural contest in 1965 and repeated in 1966 before retiring from the stage at 28. (He made a brief, unsuccessful comeback in 1979.) 

When you look at photos of Larry Scott taken a half-century ago, there’s no mistaking that he’s from a much earlier era. At 5'7" and a relatively soft 205, his physique doesn’t wow modern bodybuilding fans with size or definition. However, there are two muscles Scott sported then that still inspire today: his left and right biceps. They were remarkably full, like bricks attached to his humeri. Even when his arms were held straight, his bi’s seemed to spring out of his forearms. 

Scott’s biceps training was unique because most of it was done with a  preacher bench. In fact, those moves were popularly called “Scott curls.” Doing preachers will do little to change the DNA-determined shape of your muscles, but it will lock your arms in place for strict reps that stress the biceps from stretch to contraction. In honor of the late Larry Scott, the original Mr. O, load them into your next arm workout. And call them Scott curls. - FLEX

Scott on Biceps

“I started training at Vince’s Gym in 1960, and Vince [Gironda] got me doing a lot of preacher curls [angled side of bench] and spider curls [straight side of bench]. He believed in keeping the elbows stabilized, whether training biceps, triceps, or forearms, and using a bench is the best way to do this.”

“I also did a lot of reverse curls. Sometimes I would do these on a preacher bench or with a curl machine. However you do them, they work the forearms and brachialis and tie those areas into the biceps.”

“I did lower reps on most sets, but then I’d do some burns [short reps] at the end. So I might do six full reps and then four burns.”

 

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