Retro Athlete: Rich Gaspari

Leg training and tips from bodybuilding legend, Rich Gaspari.

He was somewhat narrow and relatively short (5'7"), and he lacked the high-caliber guns that instantly get a guy noticed. But Rich Gaspari maximized his potential. With startling thickness, this 21-year-old New Jerseyan won the lightheavy classes of the 1984 NPC Nationals and IFBB World Championships. His wheels, inflated via monstrous weights, were strong points. Still, most figured he’d get eclipsed in the IFBB Pro League.

Boy, were they wrong! In his pro debut 30 years ago, in May 1985, Gaspari shocked the muscle world with his unprecedented grainy detailing, including striated glutes. Later that year, he used the lines others lacked to finish third in the Olympia. The next three years, he won eight pro titles and was second to Lee Haney in the Olympia annually. Afterward, Gaspari won only one additional contest, the debut Arnold Classic in 1989, when he was still 25. By 1992, when he was doing the routine presented here, he was not yet 30, but he was no longer a top pro. Yet he would later trailblaze once again—as CEO of Gaspari Nutrition.

FLEX FACT

In his first year of serious training, Gaspari gained 60 pounds, expanding from 110 at 15 to 170 at 16.

GASPARI ON LEG TRAINING

“It’s important that you do a bodybuilder squat, meaning that your stance should be close with your knees pointing straight ahead.” 

“I often do a triple dropset on my last set of leg exercises to really ‘smoke’ my thighs.” 

“Keeping most my reps around 15 saves my joints and also gives me enough reps to really bring the burn.”

GASPARI'S LEG ROUTINE

Leg Extension: 4 sets, 12–15 reps

Leg Press or Squat: 4 sets, 15–8 reps

Hack Squat: 4 sets, 15 reps

Lunge: 2–3 sets, 15 reps

Lying Leg Curl: 8 sets, 15 reps

Seated Leg Curl: 3 sets, 15 reps

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