Bill Pearl
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Who is Bill Pearl?

One of the first genuine icons in the history of bodybuilding. Bill Pearl was a significant player in the sector.

Throughout his illustrious career, Bill opened several gyms and fitness centers in addition to becoming a terrific bodybuilder.

Bill Pearl lived and breathed the sport, performing onstage up until the age of 41. You’ll struggle to find a better bodybuilder than Bill, who has one of the best classic physiques in the industry and an amazing strongman posing style.

Body Measurements of Bill Pearl

Full Name: William Arnold “Bill” Pearl’
ERA: 1950, 1960, 1970
PROFESSION: Bodybuilder, Gym Owner, Author, Mentor
WEIGHT: 235 to 245 pounds (106.6 – 111.1kg)
HEIGHT: 5’10” (177.5cm)

Bill Pearl


  • 1952 Mr. San Diego, 3rd place (San Diego, California)
  • 1952 Mr. Oceanside (Oceanside, California)
  • 1953 Mr. Southern California (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1953 Mr. California (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1953 A.A.U., Mr. America (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  • 1953 N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe Amateur (London, England)
  • 1956 Mr. U.S.A., Professional (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1956 N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional, Tall Man’s Class (London, England)
  • 1961 N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional (London, England)
  • 1967 N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional (London, England)
  • 1971 N.A.B.B.A., Mr. Universe, Professional (London, England)
  • 1974 W.B.B.A., World’s Best-Built Man of the Century (New York, New York)
  • 1978 Entered into W.B.B.A., Hall of Fame (New York, New York)
  • 1978 Elected the I.F.B.B. National Chairman of the Professional Physique Judges Committee (Acapulco, Mexico)
  • 1988 Entered into Pioneers of Fitness Hall of Fame
  • 1992 Entered into Gold’s Gym Hall of Fame
  • 1994 Guest of Honor of the Association of Oldetime Barbell & Strongmen 12th Annual Reunion
  • 1994 Entered into The Joe Weider Hall of Fame
  • 1995 A.A.U. Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 1995 Oscar Heidenstam Foundation Hall of Fame
  • 1996 American Powerlifters Federation Hall of Fame
  • 1997 International Chiropractors Association Sports & Fitness Man of the Year
  • 1999 I.F.B.B. Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2000 Spirit of Muscle Beach Award
  • 2001 World Gym Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2001 Society of Weight-Training Injury Specialists Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2002 Canadian Fitness Award for 60+ Years of Inspiration to the Industry
  • 2002 National Fitness Trade Journal Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2003 Iron Man magazine Peary & Mabel Radar Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2004 Arnold Schwarzenegger Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2006 PDI Night of Champions Lifetime Achievement Award


Early Years and Bodybuilding Discovery

Bill Pearl was raised in Prineville, Oregon, where he was born in 1930. During the Great American Depression, his family was struggling to make ends meet. They moved about constantly in search of jobs before eventually settling down in Yakima, Washington, a bit further north.

Bill’s future as a bodybuilder was quite obvious when he was 10 years old; all he wanted to do was add muscle and develop his physique. Bill did every odd job and duty he could find to see results and accomplish this.

Bill was known for yearning to grow up even as a young child. He didn’t discover the solution he was looking for until he was a teenager and discovered bodybuilding.

All Pearl wanted was to appear on the cover of the magazine “Strength and Health” after a buddy had given him a copy from the time of the war.

Inspiration to Greatness

Bill was now in order with his priorities. He had to go on and get a barbell set. He worked all summer long to pay for the equipment, taking any job he could.

But his aspirations were shelved. Iron was being saved for more urgent matters while World War 2 was still raging in America.

It would take Bill 2 years to receive his barbell, but when it did, he was all the more grateful for it and used it as his starting point to become one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time.

Bill’s drive to be a bodybuilder was affecting his academic performance. He would furiously compete in as many sports as he could, while simultaneously penning lengthy articles about powerful personalities like Eugen Sandow and Louis Cyr.

All he could think about was the “Strength and Health” cover and the anticipation of his upcoming appearance.

Leo Stern, California, and the Navy

After finishing high school in 1950, Bill enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to San Diego. He discovered Leo Stern’s gym there, which was the next step on his journey to becoming one of the best in the world.

Bill was able to work out with free weights at Leo’s gym, but he also used it as a resource to learn the finest techniques for getting the most out of his physique.

Bill’s physique improved dramatically as a result, and by 1952 Pearl had already finished third in the Mr. San Diego contest.

In 1953, everything began to take place, including becoming a legend, opening a gym, and becoming a worldwide sensation.

At the age of just 23, Pearl won Mr. Oceanside, Mr. Southern California, Mr. California, Mr. America, and Amateur Mr. Universe. He was developing a reputation as a legend.

Bill completed his time in the Navy in 1954. He moved to Sacramento, took his funds ($2,800 in war bonds), and founded his gym.

Leo had been an inspiration to him, and he desired to be like him. As a result, he helped to develop several future bodybuilding industry leaders, Chris Dickerson being one of the most renowned.

Bill was successful in the gym industry and eventually opened nine different clubs in Northern California. He eventually scaled back to just one customer because he missed having a personal connection with them.

Bill resumed competing after a little break, winning Mr. USA in 1956. When he won the Professional Mr. Universe title in 1961 in London, it helped him establish his brilliance and gave him a household figure in the industry.

Bill Pearl, A Powerful Man

After Britain, Bill was frequently asked to pose as a special guest at events. He created a strongman routine to go along with his poses so that the crowd would be completely delighted with his performance, and boy, was it a sight.

With his bare hands, Pearl would bend 70-penny spikes, burst hot water bottles, shatter chains, and tear apart registration plates.

He would also perform less unusual but still spectacular feats, such as military pressing 320 pounds (145 kilograms), bench pressing 450 pounds (205 kilograms), squatting 605 pounds (275 kilograms), and even front squatting 500 pounds (225kg). He was a beast, the man.

Additionally, Bill had a reputation for tearing up phone books and smashing horseshoes in half.

Bill moved down to the state capital after selling his gym in Sacramento and purchasing another one in Los Angeles as a result of its popularity.

The 1967 Mr. Universe and the magazine “Health and Strength”

Bill wanted to focus more on training others than on his bodybuilding career now that he owned a gym in Los Angeles with a thriving clientele. At the age of 37, Bill decided to participate in the 1967 London Mr. Universe for one final time.

Again, Bill was declared the winner and received the highest ratings from each judge. Pearl was thriving at a time when most of its rivals were well past their prime.

Even Oscar Heidenstam, the editor-in-chief of the British journal “Health and Strength,” took notice of him. He had the following to say of Bill’s performance:

“Let’s be honest, attention was focused on the outstanding Bill Pearl and on anyone who might be able to compete with him.

Undoubtedly, people who travel a great distance and pay a significant amount of money will be discouraged by the fact that someone like Pearl is competing. Class 1: Pearl was the clear winner throughout; he was the best student.

Everything a champion should have, including physique, posing, personality, and the guy himself. This man was perfection itself; there was no superlative that could do him justice. He found it simple, yet incredibly motivating.

Who could follow such a man? Was there ever a finer Bill Pearl to be the Overall Professional Mr. Universe 1967?

He had at last been accepted into the publications of which he had once dreamed.

Permanent Retirement

Bill considered that he had done enough after 1967. He sold his gym, gave up bodybuilding, and started a health club in Pasadena, California.

This would be a general fitness center that served athletes of all levels and sports. Even while the company was pleasant, there was unrest growing in the bodybuilding world.

People were berating Pearl in their remarks. They claimed he gave up because he lacked the necessary skills and shied away from competing against the more talented competitors.

Naturally, Bill didn’t care; he was 40 years old and content with his new life; but Leo Stern, an old buddy, was very concerned.

Leo Stern and Mr. Universe of 1971

Leo had observed Pearl’s growth over the years and believed that he still had it in him to not only participate in the 1971 Mr. Universe but also to win.

Although Pearl had adapted to his new life and was managing a business, he still needed some persuading. Leo eventually persuaded him that there was a solution, and he could prepare for the occasion by being in the best form of his life.

Bill triumphed after months of preparation and against all odds; according to rumors, the crowd at the time began chanting “Pearl is King!” because of how motivating the victory was.

Bill Pearl

Retirement indefinitely

Bill nearly immediately entered retirement after taking first place in the competition.

He stopped posing for pictures with guests and stopped following any industry news that didn’t directly affect his firm. When questioned about his abrupt departure from bodybuilding, Bill responded:

“I entered the 1971 Mr. Universe competition primarily to make a point, and I succeeded in doing so. I didn’t care about the award or the title. I wanted it over and forgotten.

On stage, I truly felt awkward and thought I should have been a judge or a consulate instead of a contender. It made me think of an elderly man attempting to seem young. I had the impression that enough was enough.

He had had enough of the way of life.

Soon after, Bill decided to try a new sport and began competing in bicycle racing in the early 1970s. He would occasionally return to bodybuilding, fluctuating in weight, but he never entered another competition.

Bill is now living out his days with his wife. They share a home in Southern Oregon.

“You have to be optimistic in everything you do in the gym. Your body will have to react as a result of conditioning your subconscious mind to believe that you are gaining weight and working out more intensely.


Bill used one of the most intricate splits to construct a thick, muscular physique. He was an extremely technical bodybuilder.

Here is a description of Pearl’s typical week:

Monday: Full Body Workout

Tuesday: Chest and Back

Wednesday: Full Body Workout

Thursday: Legs and Shoulders

Friday: Full Body Workout

Saturday: Arms

Sunday: Rest

However, that is not the entire routine. There’s more to it than that; Bill has a set of guidelines that apply to each weekly split.

  1. Each full-body workout uses alternative exercises to the last one.
  2. Train calves every session.
  3. Train Forearms, Abs, Legs, Biceps, and Neck every day (one exercise for each muscle group, 6 sets)
  4. Aim for 18 – 20 sets per exercise in your main workout at around 8 – 10 reps.

It is a very demanding workout that can go on for hours at a time.

Bill states that his top lifts were 310 pounds for a seated press behind the neck, 605 pounds for squats, and 450 pounds for a bench press.

He was one of the era’s toughest bodybuilders.

“The last two Universe contests I won were done without eating red meat. Think of it this way.

If you feel the secret to bodybuilding is how much red meat you can consume every day, don’t you think the smart thing to do is put down 2 or 3 pounds of that stuff on a regular basis?

You’d be bigger than anyone walking the streets. So meat is no more than another substance to put in your body, and what little bit of protein and carbohydrates and minerals that are there, your body will extract it and use it like any other food. Meat is definitely not the secret to bodybuilding.”


At the beginning of his career, Bill followed the same diet as other traditional bodybuilders, which included a lot of meat and whole meals.

But at age 39, Bill saw that the eating decisions he was making were beginning to hurt his physique. Bill provided fitness advice to a variety of organizations during his health club days, including the North American Rockwell Aerospace Program. Bill recalls the circumstance:

The business doctor asked me into his office after I had a blood test one day and asked, “Bill, do you have a family doctor?” He advised me to see this doctor and admitted me to the hospital after I said, “Yes, I have a family doctor.” When I answered, “You’ve got to be kidding, doctor,” he responded, “No, Bill, I’d admit you to the hospital if you were my patient.

After learning that his triglycerides, uric acid, and blood pressure were all significantly higher than the norm, Bill concluded that continuing his high-meat diet might have long-term effects.

He even thought that his heavy meat consumption was partly to blame for his joint problems when he was training.

Bill provided fitness advice to a variety of organizations during his health club days, including the North American Rockwell Aerospace Program. Bill recalls the circumstance:

Pearl immediately changed to a Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diet to address the issue. putting less emphasis on meals like meat and fish and instead concentrating more on grains, vegetables, eggs, and dairy products.

Influences and Idols

Bill was created on that fateful day when he first saw “Strength and Health,” and it all started there. John Grimek, Clancy Ross, and Steve Reeves were the first well-known athletes to influence Pearl to start playing the sport.

Later, Bill was also greatly impacted by Leo Stern, who during his service in the navy taught him how to use equipment and mentored him in weightlifting.

Leo and Pearl had a long-lasting friendship because Leo persuaded Pearl to compete in the 1971 Mr. Universe, which led to Bill’s age-41 final victory.

What Bill Pearl Can Teach Us?

Bill Pearl is a wealth of knowledge. You may learn so much from his lifestyle and work, respectively.

You have to respect Pearl for her commitment to her work. He had a strong desire to be a man from the age of 10, and years later he possessed one of the best physiques in history. Discover your dream, pursue it, and don’t allow anyone to stand in your way.

While Bill also teaches us how to give back outside of the world of bodybuilding. Even at the height of his competitive career, Bill was opening gyms and making sure he was imparting his knowledge on how to get a terrific body to others.

Many famous sportsmen, like Mr. Olympia Chris Dickerson, were directly influenced by him.

He saw that bodybuilding was more than simply a solitary activity; it was about fostering a sense of community and bringing people together to ensure the continued success of the sector.