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Don Howorth Profile

Who was Don Howorth?
A lot of younger guys today don't really know about Don Howorth, but back in the 1960’s he was a superstar in the bodybuilding world.  Blessed with an amazing “V” taper  (super broad shoulders and a tiny waist) along with 20” arms, he was destined to be the next Mr. Olympia.  However, as soon as Don hit the scene, he left it and never returned again.

don howorth steroids

Fig 1. Don Howorth Posing

Why did Don quit pro-bodybuilding so soon?
Interestingly, there was no money to be made when Howorth was a pro bodybuilder — even if you were one of the top champions.  According to Don, he didn’t even get paid for photo shoots or endorsing the Weider supplement line.  Moreover, he wrote some articles for the magazines and didn’t get paid for that either.  Therefore, it was all a labor of love, with heavy emphasis on the “labor.”

In fact, that was one of the main reasons Don quit the competitive scene.  Apart from being a lot of work, there was no future in simply being a star among a small segment of people who were into the sport.  Remember, this was prior to “Pumping Iron” and the appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger.  It was a very different world.

Don was also a child of the hippie scene.  As a result, he got involved in the use of marijuana, which landed him a stint in jail.  As unfair as that punishment may have been, he did his time and got through it being better man.

Don Howorth's approach to training
Don was a follower of the heavy training, and in his interviews he would talk about it,“I’d do up to twenty sets per body part twice a week.  A workout could last up to four hours” he said. “We all trained like that.  We did it because we loved it.  When we trained it was considered bad form to even talk to someone.  It was all very serious.”

What steroids did Don Howorth use?
Don was a big advocate of supplementation use, though in those days there wasn’t much to actually use.  For instance, Don Howorth once said, “We’d use powdered liver and wheat germ oil bought at veterinarian houses — anything that might help us put on more muscle.”  During his pro-career he only admitted to use Dianabol at very low dosages.

The 60's were also the time when steroids began being used, which explains the sudden leap in muscularity compared to the pros just 10 years prior.  However, there was an apprehension to use the drugs since bodybuilding was so much of a pursuit of health.  Nevertheless, those who were obsessed with more muscle did experiment with anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), and Don was one of them.   Keep in mind, their choices of steroids were very limited, mainly dinabol and some pure testosterone.  There wasn't a whole line up of anabolic steroids that we have today.

don howorth posing

Fig 2. Don modeling - did he use steroids?

Steroid advice from Don Howorth.
As mentioned above, Don Howorth was very conservative in matters of steroids, and kept his use of steroids to the minimum, “I think what people don't realize is, we made such good gains on such low dosages because we worked our asses off!  Today, everybody's relying on the drugs.  Put some of these guys today through the ball busting workouts we did and they'd never make it.  Personally, I used Dianabol - 10 milligrams (mgs) a day before the Mr. America contest.  At one point I used 20 mgs a day, but then I started to retain a lot of water.   We heard things about steroids, but we didn't really know much.  Some people said that it didn't increase strength, but that was bull.  I took 5 mgs of Dianabol for 4 weeks and my bench press went from up thirty five pounds!  I noticed I recovered a lot faster and got great pumps.  But I never took any injectables.  I never even knew about them. The only injection I ever had was when I was in the Navy and I didn't like it!  And I think because I used such a small amount, I never noticed any problems.”

As for diet, Don went with a high protein-high fat-low carb approach.  As a matter of fact, long before it was fashionable, he knew that it were the carbs that made you look smooth, and fats provided energy.  Furthermore, when preparing for a competition he’d eat up to two dozen whole eggs a day!

Don Howorth today
Don regained his love of training and today, at age 80, he works with high school kids, teaching the benefits of lifting weights.  As incredible as it may seem, in spite of his advanced age he still works out every other day and keeps a very good shape.

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nelson montana
Written by
Nelson Montana is a classical bodybuilder and an industry expert. He was one of the first in the 1990s to write about bodybuilding. He's written for large magazines, like T-Nation and has been on multiple editorial boards. Nelson is a certified personal trainer, he has over 40 years of experience, and he's a senior bodybuilding champion, natural! He's over 60 and he looks amazing.

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