Clancy Ross: (Who Was This Golden Era Bodybuilder?)

clancy ross

Clancy Ross, who was born in California, had a difficult upbringing. His life had a less than ideal start due to the loss of his mother at a young age and his many moves between foster homes.

Clancy Ross is one of just two persons to have ever defeated Steve Reeves in a competition in the history of bodybuilding, yet his true tenacity and determination overcame any minor setbacks in life.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ross joined the US Air Force to defend his nation, where he immediately gained a reputation for his physical dominance, size, and training expertise. He was appointed as the Air Force’s weight training instructor.

Ross demonstrated to the world that he was a champion both inside and outside the gym by running his own successful gym, competing in illustrious competitions, modeling, and penning fitness articles. This is his story:

Clancy Ross Biography

California welcomed Clancy Ross into the world on October 26, 1926. He was the second of a total of four kids. The four children were raised in Oakland by his mother Jeannette Levi and father, teamster Hershel Ross, but Clarence’s mother passed away while he was very young.

Clancy Ross was transferred from a string of foster families to foster care. Ross’s life didn’t exactly start off the way he would have liked it to, but it didn’t stop him from going on to become one of the very few bodybuilders to go on to win competitions over people like Steve Reeves.

Clancy Ross was driven to develop a strong and healthy body after experiencing bullying and being teased as a child because of his flat feet and small stature. In an effort to increase his strength, he jumped at the chance to participate in as many sports as he could, including football, basketball, and track.

Clancy Ross grew to a height of 5 feet 10 inches and a healthy weight of 135 pounds by the time he was 17 years old, but this wasn’t enough for Ross; he desired a bigger and stronger body. At this point, he made the decision to begin utilizing weights, particularly the York Barbell System, to which he would gradually add 15 pounds during the training time.

Clancy Ross Pearl Harbor And Weightlifting

Clancy Ross was inspired to join the Air Force during the Perl Harbor assault in order to defend his country. Ross began his duty on October 31st, 1942, in San Francisco and was later assigned to Las Vegas.

Ross’s remarkable interest and passion for the sport led to his assignment as a weightlifting instructor almost immediately. He trained with Cpl Leo Stern there, who would later have a major influence on Ross and the direction of his weightlifting career.

Leo’s training frequently included body-wearying heavy weightlifting motions with sets and repetitions to build muscle. Clancy Ross’s body gained another 35 lbs of solid muscle thanks to this form of exercise

Ross married his high school girlfriend at this time, when he was 18 years old. Ross’s wife and longtime girlfriend supported him in competing since they knew he had a lot of potential to succeed.


Ross shocked the nation by winning the AAU Mr. America competition in Los Angeles in 1945. He won yet another competition on March 13th, 1948, this time in Los Angeles at the Mr. USA pageant.

Ross maintained his training regimen and entered the 1949 Mr. America competition with an amazing physique. He was defending his title. Clancy Ross came in second position overall, but Grimek stole the show and won the race that day. Ross came in second, but he beat Steve Reeves, who took first. He was one of just two guys in the sport’s history to defeat Reeves.

Ross made a significant comeback to bodybuilding in 1955 and competed in the Professional Mister Universe competition in London. He was successful in winning the tall class, but Leo Robert defeated him overall. Some claim that the long, exhausting flight to London from abroad in temperatures as low as -10 degrees and the sickness he contracted while traveling were to blame.

Naturally, Ross put on a good performance and announced his retirement from bodybuilding following his final contest. Ross took a full week off after arriving home and stayed in bed to recover from the exhausting flight and the illness.

Clancy Ross Professional Career

Additionally, Joe MacDoakes’ 1949 movie “So You Want to Be a Muscle Man” included Clarence Ross. Joe’s wife was attracted to Ross’s portrayal of a strongman (Ellery), which inspired Joe to try to imitate Ross’s stature and power but fail miserably.

Ross also rose to fame as a result of his appearances on various magazine covers, in articles, and in other advertisements.

In November 1945, he was discharged from the Air Force and afterwards founded a gym in Alameda, California. At this time, Ross also joined forces with American Health Studios and rose to the position of manager of one of their West Coast gyms.

Clancy Ross Strength

Ross’s muscles were useful powerhouses of physical strength in addition to being created for size and aesthetics. When he was competing, he was regarded as the all-time strongest bodybuilder.

He could deadlift 650 pounds, squat 450 pounds ten times, bench press 385 pounds ten times, and curl 200 pounds loosely for ten repetitions. He could also overhead press a heavy 315 pounds.

His preferred exercises included the dumbbell bench press, which he performed with a set of 175 lbs for 10 reps before switching to lateral raises with the same weight right after.

Some of today’s athletes would be shocked by to Ross’ training standards. This guy developed his incredible strength by 100% natural training, employing whole foods and an effective workout regimen.

Clancy Ross Workout Routine

Ross preferred to train for strength and power over size; it was here that he discovered how to develop his renowned physique. However, there were also times throughout his workout regimen when he would accomplish the typical rep ranges of 8 to 10, using 3, 4, or 5 sets.

Ross reportedly used two 140-pound weights in repetitions and for incline and flat bench presses, which undoubtedly added to his stature at the time.

Ross trained for years before developing the workout regiment indicated below, but this example is the result of years of commitment, trial and error, and hard effort. Ross thought that when attempting to gain muscle, all forms of training should be utilized.


  • Squats 6 x 10 reps
  • Calf raises 4 x 25


  • Seated dumbbell curls 3 x 8
  • Preacher curls 3 x 8
  • Triceps pushdowns 3 x 103


  • Pushups on parallel bars 3 x 15
  • Chest Incline bench press 3 x 10
  • Bent arm laterals on bench 3 x 8


  • Leg raises on ab bench 200 reps
  • Situps on ab bench 200 reps
  • Side bends 100 reps each side


  • Lateral raises standing 3 x 8
  • Upright rowing 3 x 8

General Conditioning

  • Pulldowns all the way down to legs on lat machine 3 x 10

This isn’t a very modern workout routine, or realistic to survive, so that’s why I recommend my program “Workout of The Gods.”

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