Ken Waller: From Football to Bodybuilding!

Ken Waller is a golden era bodybuilding legend. He was featured in the move “Pumping Iron” with Arnold Schwarzenegger! In 1971 he won the Mr. Universe title (amateur). He even transformed from football to bodybuilding with great success. Here’s Ken Waller’s story, workout routine and diet. – Mr. Berg

Kenneth Henry Waller, was born on March 20, 1942, in San Francisco, California. It was here he spent the first twelve years of his life.
At this time he lost his father. Ken his mother and older sister then moved to Louisville, Ky. They moved across the great Ohio river to Jeffersonville, Ind.

Ken was one of the smallest boys in his eighth grade class, but possessed an above average strength for his age. His proficiency for sports began to materialize at this age. His interest in football was the stepping stone in his life to great aspirations.

He was chosen team captain of his local Junior High varity squad, even at 13. His interest in sports helped to increase his natural strength. Eventually he participated in Wrestling and Basketball.

During his high-school years he played halfback in his favorite sport, Football.

The most young men, enough satisfaction is obtained in making any varsity team to substantiate any ego.

Ken knew that there was something lacking in his conditioning program. He was searching for that needle in the haystack.

The turning point in his life occurred one fateful day. A girl whom he had been dating during high school, introduced him to her father. He was a man in his mid-forties, who had retained a robust vigor and whose physique would have been outstanding for a man twenty years younger.

The man gave Ken his “secret” – he lifted weights!

Ken had already attained his full growth. He stood a shade under six feet, but weighed only 170 pounds. He desperately wanted to play college football. Ken knew he lacked size. Strength alone cannot deter a fullback, 40 pounds your superior, charging down on you.

Here he faced a many more than twice his age who looked every bit as strong and athletic as himself and looked considerably better.

Ken now faced his decision – weight training. But could he gain weight? How could it be done? In an endeavor to answer the many questions which constantly bombarded him, Ken bought some bodybuilding magazines. The physiques therein impressed him a great deal, but his interest focused on an article concerning, weight training for athletics.

His decisions made, Ken immediately took to hitting the iron at the Louisville Y.M.C.A. weight room, with no thought to physique beautification, but only to get big enough to make the football team at Ohio Valley University.

The results were outstanding. In one year he gained 25 pounds and improved his wind sprint from 10.7 to 10.1 for the 100 yard dash. A short time thereafter Ken was chosen team Captain and made All Conference End at O.V.U.

His routines were simple ones. He did only squats, bench presses, Military presses and curls to build himself. He did no other assistance exercises.

Ken graduated from college, a physical education major, but he had only scratched the surface in his application of weight training principles. Up to this time the nucleus of an idea was imbedded upon his mind. That was to add muscularity to his size, so he began adding other exercises to his routine. At this time he was torn between the weights and his newfound hobby, drag-racing. Ken bought a Corvette, which he fixed up to race. This proved to be a most expensive hobby, and he knew he had to choose between this and weight training.

His choice was a wise one. His ego kept driving him to improve himself, though his college football days were through.

After many months of hard training and much deliberation, he decided to enter his first physique contest. The event was the 1965 “Mr. Kentucky” physique contest. It was held at Malick’s Gym in Louisville.

It had been only four years since he had touched his first weight, as he walked off with the top honors, by a surmountable margin for his first try.

Ken suddenly dropped out of the picture. He continued to train, but did not enter any more physique contests. He improved a lot but had no one to inspire him. One of his many trainees was Ron Bruner of Louisville. He kept an eye on Ken, and kept pushing him, to put forth the effort to keep improving. It was during the Chrismas Holidays 1967, that Ken returned to his native California. It was here he met Zabo Koszewski of abdominal fame. Ken learned that diet was the key factor to improve his definition and massiveness. Up to this time Kem would consume anything and everything that didn’t bite back.

The wheels started turning. Other California greats, Don Howorth and Chester Yorton also offered advice, was well as “pearls of wisdom” from the master himself, Bill Pearl.

The gems of advice seemed to soak in. Ken improved his nutritional habits, and his physique improved doubly the first month back from his native state.

His first definition began coming out better as well as improved massiveness. He trained harder than he had ever done in his life. His decision to enter the National Mr. AMCA Contest at Chicago, was a wise one. The result of which was a well deserved victory for such pursuing diligence.

The diet ken follows consists of: fish, eggs, meats and salads. His carbohydrate and fat intake were drastically reduced to bare minimum. His only weakness is pancakes. Occasionally he has minute of sugar in his coffee.

After Waller’s victory at the Y.M.C.A Nationals, Franklin Page, Director of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, informed Ken that John Citrone was coming to the United States for a visit.

Citrone was the Mr. Great Britain and 1967 height class winnner in the Mr. Universe contest.

Page explained to Ken that he would be coming to Louisville, and of the great assts and benefits to be gained by training with and receiving advice by such a man.

On the 28th of March, Ken entered the Mr. World competition in Philadelphia. He lost by a scant point to Ken Covington. Not to be discouraged by this setback, Waller returned to Louisville, to began
hard training for the Mr. America contest to be held in York, Pa. on June 9th. Upon the arrival of Citrone to advise and inspire, Ken’s training became even more deliberate.

In mid-May, Ken entered and easily won the Mr. Midwest physique contest held in Cincinnati, Ohio. His improvement was even more pronounced. He scored an overwhelming 279 points out of a perfect 300 score. He also won the trophy awards for “best back” and “best legs,” with the unanimous decision of seven judges in each award.

His driving instinct was focused on one objective. Every lad’s dream is to someday become “Mr. America”!

Ken teached science at Pleasure Ridge Park High School, in Louisville. He has served in this capacity for the past two years. Ken has given inspiration to many of his students, to reap the harvest awaiting in the wonderful world of weight training. One of his pupils won the “Teenage-Mr. Kentucky” title.

Ken Waller’s measurements (1969)

Neck 18″
Biceps 19 1/2″ (cold)
Forearms 16 1/4″
Chest 50″
Waist 33″ (trimmed to 32″ for contest)
Thighs 27″
Calves 17 1/2″
Height 5’11 1/2″
Weight 224lb (trimmed to 22lb – 2 days before meet)

At 1969 he wanted to specialize on his chest, leg biceps and calves. His arms and deltoids have always been the easiest responding to muscular growth. Ken contends that Sergio Oliva is the utmost in physique perfection and finds him a blueprint for self improvement.

Here is the workout routine Ken used around 1969.

Exercise sets reps weight
Squats 8 10 135-400
Benchpress 6 4-8 310-360
Incline flys 4 8 65
Decline flys 4 8 90
Toe raises 8 20 300
Hyperextensions 4 15
Chins 8 10
Roman Chair (sit ups) 1 300
Leg raises 1 100
Arms 30 10 vary

(every other day 6 days a week)

Exercise sets reps weight
Hack squat 5 10 135lb
Seated press (behind neck) 4 8 165lb-225lb
Shoulder laterals 4 10 30
Shoulder flys 4 10 60
Good mornings 4 10 125lb
Toe raises 8 20 300
Chins 8 10
Sit-ups 300
Leg raises 100
Dips (weight) 4 10-15 50
Lat machine 4 10 150
Arms 15-20 10 vary

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