How to Train Like a Dragon

Rich Gaspari is a testament to the power of perseverance with the most ageless pipes you'll ever see.


He was right. The once-emaciated youngster won the NPC Nationals and Amateur Championships at the tender age of 20, asserting himself as bodybuilding’s next big thing. At a lean, grainy 188 pounds, Gaspari had one of the most impressive packages on any pro stage. But he hadn’t gone that far to simply turn pro and hit cruise control—his signature intensity and unwavering work ethic helped him add mounds of muscle in years to come.

Earning the nickname “the Dragon Slayer,” he finished second in his pro debut, the 1985 Night of Champions, then placed third at that year’s Olympia. He then took three painful runner-up finishes to Lee Haney at the Olympia in 1986, 1987, and 1988. The burden of coming that close to bodybuilding’s biggest prize may have crushed some, but not Gaspari. His subsequent increase in dedication led to a remastered physique that would not be denied and he won the inaugural Arnold Classic in 1989.

His storied career, which included two more top-six finishes at the Olympia, lasted until 1996 when herniated disks in his upper spine forced him into retirement. But this dragon wasn’t so easily slain—he merely metamorphosed into a beast of a different kind.


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