Chuck Sipes: Real Life Superman

I recently found a great article by iron historian Mike Newton (published in Iron Man). He interviewed Chuck Sipes. It’s worth to read if you want to learn about Chuck’s diet, mental attitude and life style – Mr. Berg

Probably the greatest single dream that a young bodybuilder has, besides that of winning a major title, is that of meeting one of the top bodybuilders. I know this because that was one of my greatest desires when I started training three years ago at the ripe age of eighteen. I would think to myself, “Man, I sure would like to meet Chuck Sipes. Boy, just think, he is Mr. America, Mr. Universe and Mr. World.”

Well, all that foolishness has worn off, and now that I know Chuck personally I seldom (if ever) think of him as being “Chuck Sipes Superstar.” Over the past two years I have gotten to know Chuck quite well. Except when is away (his work takes him back into the wilderness for a month three times a year) I usually see Chuck and his family at least once a week. During these visits Chuck and I will usually eat some good food, watch TV, bike ride, work out, or just sit and talk. I really enjoy the talks the we have. The topic of these conversations is usually bodybuilding or nutrition.

Not too long ago, Chuck received a letter from Peary Rader asking for information as to what Chuck is doing these days. I happened to be at Chuck’s at the time and he showed me the letter. At this time Chuck and I decided that I would do an article on him which would include an interview with him. We felt that an interview would give the readers a chance to get the information straight from Chuck himself. The interview took place on Saturday, June 8. Since Chuck is an early bird, I went over to his house after dragging myself out of bed.


Mike: Chuck, just to get things straight, do you have any plans to enter any more contests?

Chuck: No, Michael, I have always said that after I win the Mr. Past Forty I will retire from ALL competition.

Mike: You entered this spring, didn’t you?

Chuck: Yes, I entered and I won the contest. By the way, it was a very good contest with some very nice trophies. Charles Amato did a very good job at putting this contest together.

Mike: Who do you think is the greatest at the present time?

Chuck: Well, actually I feel that there are two men who stand out in my mind. As far as size, definition and proportion, I would say that the greatest is Sergio Oliva. But I have always had great respect for Bill Pearl and his great physique.

Mike: Chuck, what do you think about certain organisations trying to control the bodybuilders? Don’t you think that a bodybuilder should have the right to enter any contest he wants to?

Chuck: Yes, Michael, I would have to agree with you. I feel that no one has the right to restrict a person. I think that it all comes down to big business. It seems that all these people are interested in is the almighty dollar. The way that out society is today, everything comes down to the buck.

Mike: What do you think about the drug scene in bodybuilding?
Chuck: By drugs I assume you are referring to growth drugs. I believe that taking drugs for the purpose of gaining muscular size and strength is wrong because these drugs are not natural and could cause harm to the body’s internal organs. Besides, what good are gain that are not lasting one? I feel that the only reason they are taking them is because they feel that this is the only way they can win. At best these drugs only work on a person’s mind. A lot of guys start training harder because they are on drugs and the results com from the increased intensity rather than from the drugs themselves. I feel that the public is being cheated. I feel they have the right to know who is on drugs and who isn’t. Actually it is pretty easy to well who is taking them. At the last contest that I entered, the top three in the Pacific Coast contest were all on steroids.

Mike: I feel that the cause of the younger guys taking drugs is because they read all the phoney measurements that their heroes are claiming. That is why I admire guys like Boyer Coe who don’t give out and-or don’t take any measurements. When you read the magazine, you see guys pictured there are claiming 20 inch arms when in reality their arms couldn’t possibly be over 18, which is huge in itself.

Chuck, tell the readers what your best measurements were so that they will realize how phoney some of these claims were.

Chuck: Well let’s see. My top bodyweight was 220lb; my arms always went 19″ though at times I had them up to 9 1/2 inches, My chest went around 52-54 inches.

Mike: See, Chuck, this is what I was talking about. You were literally huge and yet your arms measured only 19 in. but yet you see guys who are obviously smaller than you, claiming bigger measurements. Chuck, tell the readers what your top lifts were while you were in heavy training.

Chuck: My best bench press was 570lb, my best squat was 600 pounds for reps (these squats were done full, all the way down) and deadlifts went around 600lb for reps.

Mike: What about curls and triceps presses while lying on a bench?

Chuck: Yes, I used to curl heavy with 250lb and I have done triceps extensions with this same weight

Mike: Chuck, I have read in certain magazines that certain trainers are claiming the results tat certain champions have made. I don’t think this is right; what do you think?

Chuck: I agree with you. I feel that the person pushing the “iron” should take full credit for the results that he achieves. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that a person should say that no one ever helped him, because everyone needs a little guidance now and then. But no one has the right to claim his success.

Mike: Chuck: I remember reading some article by Sergio Oliva on how to build big arms and he said that no one was responsible for his physique but himself. Boyer Coe also said this same type of thing in his booklet called “Rapping” (which was very interesting, Boyer, if you should read this). By the way, Chuck, what magazine do you feel is the best?

Chuck: I think that Iron Man is the best because of its unbiased approach. I feel that all magazines should followed their policy and this would improve their magazines.

Mike: Most people know that you work with kids, but explain what your job is.

Chuck: I work as a Guide and Leader in the Intensive Survival program. In this program we take the kids who have gotten into trouble and-or have had bad family lives. We take them out in the wilderness for 26 days. We feel that this is really good for the kids because they have a chance to get away from the hustle and problems of city life. Out in the wilds they are in direct contact with nature and this gives them a chance to appreciate life and to work out some of their problems. During the trip we send each individual on a solo. They must go out by themselves for four nights and three days. During this time they must forage for their own food because we don’t give them any. This is the real test for them.

Mike: What is the typical day while you are in the wilderness?

Chuck: Although no two days are exactly alike, my typical day would go something like this. I usually get up before the sun comes up. At this time I go for a hike or mountain climbing, then I come back and eat breakfast, then we, as a group, go for a hike or a climb. When we return I work out with the cables, do some setups, take a swim, and then retire for some dinner. About this time I have really worked up an appetite. After our meal we all get together the kids a chance to talk out some of their problems.

Mike: Chuck, do you feel that your program is successful or do you feel that it could be improved upon?

Chuck: I feel that it is very successful, although like any rehabilitation program, it could be improved upon.

Mike: Chuck, you are really into health and health foods now, would you tell the readers your views on this subject?

Chuck: Yeah, I would be glad to. When I was competing I used to eat meat and drink quite a bit of milk (around four quarts a day). This was when I was training for great strength and size and was trying to keep my bodyweight at 220lb. But when I turned forty I decided that it would be unhealthy to carry around all that weight. So, I decided to reduce my weight to between 190-195

Mike: What kind of diet do you follow?

Chuck: Well, as you know, Michael, I am a vegetarian (although I sometimes eat chicken or fish). A typical diet for me would be: Breakfast: Juice, granola, and 4 pieces of whole wheat toast with butter.

Since I have cut down to only two meals a day I sometimes skip lunch. Dinner would be a big vegetable salad or a big fruit salad, whole wheat bread with butter and rose tea with honey.

Mike: Do you think that you could have made the same gains that you made if you had not followed this type of diet?

Chuck: Do you remember that two week fast that I went on last summer? Well, I did a little experiment to find this out. During this time I took in no food, all I had each day was fresh vegetable broth once a day, and fresh fruit juice mixed in water twice a day. During this time I was working out with weights, running, and swimming. The first five days I felt rather weak and had a few periods of depression.

But then after the fifth day something strange happened. All of a sudden I started feeling stronger than I had previously, yet I was still taking in no food. What happens is that your body starts living off of old dead cells and once you are rid of these cells your body starts to function with greater efficiency.

Mike: Chuck, if you wanted to gain your size and weight back, all you would have to do is increase the amount of weight you are using, don’t you think so?

Chuck: Oh yeah, Michael, I know that is all I would have to do. I would also start drinking some raw milk and increase my food intake, but I would still eat only the natural foods that I eat now.

You know – fruits, vegetables, honey, whole wheat bread, granola, rose hip tea, chicken and fish. I believe that there is great value in fish, whereas the value of meat is not that great. I also take an all-purpose vitamin, vitamin C which I always take because I think that it is very important and vitamin E which I think is fantastic.

Mike: What do you think of bodybuilders who devote their whole existence to working out?

Chuck: This is something that disturbs me greatly. I feel that anyone who places weights and working out ahead of everything else is going to wake up one of these days feeling greatly disappointed. Let’s face it. How many people actually have made a living on the game?

I could count them on one hand. As it stands right now there is no way a person could make a living as a result of the game unless he ran a gym or sold his own line of supplements.

Let’s face it, we cannot all be champions so in order to avoid waking up disappointed, I feel a person should also pursue other activities to go along with his workouts. Also, I don’t think that a person need devote himself solely to training to become a champ. I think that  a well-rounded life is necessary to make maximum gains.

When Chuck says to live a well-rounded life, he practices what he preaches. Chuck is constantly doing something, Never is a single moment wasted. Unlike most people who work, Chuck doesn’t drive to work, he rides his bike. The ride to work covers a total of twenty miles. He does this when the weather permits. Also, among his daily habits: running, swimming and cable or weight training. Man, I am not kidding – the man is unbelievable! One Saturday afternoon Chuck and I went with some friends bike riding. Before we left, Chuck had worked out with weights for an hour and a half.

The total length of our bike ride came to around thirty miles and upon returning Chuck informed me that he was going to go for his daily run and swim and he invited me to go along I declined since I had worked out hard the day before, and after that bike ride my legs felt like they were going to fall off. The stamina that he possesses falls nothing short of amazing.

Chuck’s other activities include reading the Bible and painting. Chuck feels that one’s spiritual life is very important. Chuck believes very strongly in the Bible and is a devoted Christian. In short, he is a total man.

Probably the hobby that Chuck enjoys the most is painting. You really have to see his painting to realize how talented he is. You will get some idea of his work from the photo that I have enclosed. He has painted some of the most interesting and beautiful painting I have ever seen. Most of his paintings are of the wilderness. The reason for this is that he loves the wild so much that he wants to share them with others.

Just before leaving for the month in the wilds, Chuck got a letter from the Philippine Bodybuilding Federation inviting him to pose and give his strong man act at the Mr. Asia contest. This is quite an honor for Chuck because he hasn’t competed for long time and they could easily have chosen a current champion. When Chuck returns at the end of July, he will start putting on some weight and plans to arrive there weighing a rock hard 205lb. He will work out three days a week with barbell and three days a week with his cables. The cables really cut him up. He actually looks like someone took away his skin. His weight routine will be the following:

1. Bench Press 6 sets, 5-6 reps
2. Squats 4 sets, 8-10 reps
3. Press behind Neck 4 sets, 4-6 reps
4. Curls 4 sets, 5-6 reps
5. French Press 4 sets 4-6 reps
6. Wrist curls 4 sets, 4-6 reps
7. Chins 4 sets, 6-8 reps

As you can see, Chuck prefers rather low reps and he always trains for power. He works his abs every day doing 50 sit-ups and he also trains his calves every day doing 1 set of heel raises.

Probably the most important goal that a person should strive for is constant improvement in the 3 important areas: physical, mental and spiritual. Emerson once said:

“If we have a choice to make, what shall it be? Serenity, normality, contentment and possible mediocrity? Or challenge, stimulation, adventure, advancement…?”

It is obvious that Chuck Sipes has chosen to live a life of challenge, stimulation, adventure and advancement. Most lesser men would be content to rest on their past achievements, but Chuck is made of sterner stuff.

source: IM 1976 Nov; Chuck Sipes – The Man

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