John Kemper: Golden Era Bodybuilder

John Kemper did not begin training because of the often told tale of the underweight youth who had sand kicked in his face by the local bully. No, John had a deep interest in art – particularly Greek and Roman sculpture. He admired the physical development that many of these works of art portrayed. When he chanced to see a bodybuilding magazine that a fellow high school student had brought to class, John realized that there were modern-day physiques that rivaled and even surpassed those of ancient Greece and Rome. It didn’t take John very long to buy a set of weights with some of the money he saved from his after school job.

While this money would have formerly gone entirely to purchase art supplies, John had been “bitten” by the “barbell bug” and somehow felt that he could pursue both interests. As we shall see, John was quite correct.

After training at home for a few months, John found that he had made gains in muscle size and strength. He entered a physique contest and to his amazement, won second place.

“I still can’t imagine how I got up the nerve to do it. I had absolutely no idea of how to pose. The only reason any muscularity showed was because I was so frightened I was shaking. When they called out my name for the second place trophy, I was positive that someone had made a mistake.

An arm came from somewhere and pushed me out on stage.”

However, John had come in second and this convinced that to really make further progress, he would have to join a commercial gym. He felt that he needed the inspiration and competition of training with other bodybuilders.

Once again John had made the correct decision. His development progressed and john continued to enter and win a series of contests including Mr. Atlantic Seaboard, Mr. Suburban, Mr. Atlantis, and capping it all off this with the Mr. New Jersey title.

During this time, John did not neglect his other interest. He continued his schooling and graduated from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. He is an art teacher in high school.

In spite of an unbelievably hectic schedule, between his job, training, and very fulfilling home life with his wife, who had a deep interest in John’s training and in proper nutrition for the both of them, he still is able to devote time to organizing weight training programs at local schools and prisons.

“I feel that weight training has so much to offer to teen-agers, in particular. I have not seen a guy get “hooked” on bodybuilding and get into trouble. I have also been pleased to hear from prison officials at whose institutions I helped set up weightlifting and bodybuilding programs that the fellows who train regularly are rehabilitated most successfully.

I guess that “iron pills” really are the best of all types of medicine.”

It was because of John’s very strong feelings about the positive and constructive aspects of bodybuilding that he seriously thought of not entering any physique contests due to what may be called the drug influence. John feels that the use of steroids and the various other chemical substances that are ingested by some trainees has distorted the real purposes of bodybuilding. John believes that health and physique development and maintenance are best achieved through proper training and nutrition.

The increasing emphasis that has been placed on getting bigger “at any cost” through steroid usage or the gaining of definition through various amphetamine combinations has frequently resulted in tragic consequence for those were led to believe that there was an easier way to the top of physique world. John feels that the temporary advantage gained by those who use artificial means has not only often proven harmful to the individual users but has had a general negative effect on non-drug users who have simply dropped out of competition rather than switch over to steroids.

Thus, many potentially great champions have been lost while at the same time, a very undesirable aspect of the physique world is portrayed to the public.

This is happening at a time when, after years of misleading propaganda about weight training, the true value of bodybuilding is beginning to gain increasing acceptance.

John feels very strongly that tests should be administered to competitors in the major physique contests to determine whether they use steroids.

Fortunately for the bodybuilding world, John decided that physique competition provided him with a strong motivation for intensive training and he felt that he should continue to compete if only to prove that good results can be obtained without resorting to artificial and potentially dangerous methods. So John continued to train, experiment with various training methods and nutritional combinations, and compete.

The titles that he has won are ample proof that John has chosen the correct path.

John trains on a four-day a week schedule during the year. As contest time nears, he will usually include a fifth day “for a little extra.” Here is the routine that John is following:

Monday and Thursday
Front Squats (on a 2″ block)  5 sets, 135lb to 255lb. 8-15 reps
Leg Presses 5 sets, 450lb 15-20 reps
Leg Curls 4 sets, 75lb. 15-20 reps
Leg Extensions 4 sets, 100lb. 15-20 reps
Lying Triceps Curls (E-Z Curl Bar) 5 sets, 110lb to 150lb 10-12 reps
Nautilus Triceps Curls 5 sets, 90lb 10-15 reps
Dumbbell Kickbacks 4 sets, 35lb 10-15 reps
Scott Bench Dumbbell Curls supersetted with: 5 sets, 50lb. 8-12 reps 
Scott Bench Barbell Curls 5 sets, 80lb. 8-12 reps
Nautilus Curls  4 sets, 100lb. 8-12 reps



Tuesday and Friday
Behind the Neck Press 5 sets, 125lb to 165lb 8-12 reps
Upright Rowing  5 sets, 135lb. 8-12 reps
Seated Laterals supersetted with 5 sets, 35lb. 10-15 reps 
Bent-over Laterals 5 sets, 25lb 10-15 reps
Wide-grip Chins to Front of Neck 5 sets, 25lb. 10-15 reps
Dumbbell Rowing 5 sets, 90lb. 8-12 reps
Nautilus Pullover 5 sets, 225lb 15 -20reps
Incline Bench Press 5 sets, 135lb. to 250lb 8-12 reps
Dumbbell Flyes Flat Bench 5 sets, 55lb. 10-15 reps
Nautilus Chest Machine 5 sets, 125lb 15-20 reps
Abdominals (Done Tuesday and Friday except for eight weeks before contest – then done daily)  
Crunches 3 sets, 50 reps
Leg Raises (off bench)  3 sets, 50 reps
Roman Chair Situps 3 sets, 50 reps
Calves (Daily)  
John performs 15 sets of various calf exercises – calf machine, donkey raises, leg press toe raises, etc. for 15-25 reptitions on every training day  

John does every movement strictly, resting between 30-60 seconds between sets. After any warmup sets, all other sets are done to failure. Although John will change some exercises in his routine every 6-8 weeks, the basic framework of his routine generally remains the same – basic exercises done in a strict manner with minimum rest between sets.

John plans his nutritional programs as carefully as he sets out his training routines. He always eats four or five small meals a day. When he is not training down for a contest, he will take in most of his carbohydrates in the morning in the form of a fresh fruit or vegetable drink that he blends himself, whole grain pancakes or bread that his wife makes, and fresh fruit.

His lunch and dinner usually consist of about a pound of fish, chicken or lean meat and a salad. He will take a mid-morning and mid-afternoon protein drink.

When John prepares for a contest, he eliminates all carbohydrates from his diet except for one high carbohydrate meal every fourth day. He will remain on this type of diet for about eight weeks.

John does take in two small green salads on his zero carbohydrtae days to provide roughage for his system, but these really count biologically as zero carbohydrates.

John uses a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements throughout the year. These include 500 mg. of Vitamin C, 3000 units of Vitamin E, high B-Complex tablets, 50 liver tablets, and 6-8 Bone Meal tablets, all taken daily.

When John is training for a contest, he will include extra amounts of Choline and Inositol, double his Bone Meal and Liver Tablet intake and will add Kelp tablets to the supplements he takes with each meal. 


IM; Meet John Kemper.. A candidate for Mr. America

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