Peter Caputo: Courage, Determination and Greatness

Submitted by Mr.Berg on Fri, 03/13/2020 - 09:39
Peter Caputo bodybuilder

The following piece of bodybuilding history was published in 1975 IM mag and written by Howard Alpert - Mr. Berg

"Several science-fiction writer have used the concept of teleportation in their stories. Teleportation is the power to instantly transport oneself to any place - solely by willing it. The world of bodybuilding has a very prominent member whose real life journeys rival those of any imaginary character and whose life has been filled with events that could comprise the plot of a beast selling book. This bodybuilding wonder is Pete Caputo.

Pete Caputo's awareness of bodybuilding started as the result of a near tragic accident. He was struck by a car, and, at the age of 15, found himself spending a year of his life in and out of hospitals. After several painful operations, one of which involved the insertion of a metal plate in his leg, he was finally discharged with the warning that he could never participate in any form of athletics. He was told that any further injury to his leg could result in its permanent immobilization.

The fates had struck a vicious blow against Pete Caputo and it was to be only the first of several. A weaker individual might have resigned himself to being a semi-invalid for the rest of his life, but the fates had chosen the wrong opponent. Pete answered this challenge with the courage which he was to display on later occasions. He loved life too much to spend it on the sidelines - letting other people do things while he just sat around bemoaning his misfortune.

Pete's brother had bought a set of cables through an ad in a magazine and as soon as Pete realized that he could exercise with them without placing any strain on his leg, he bean to work with them. Slowly and painfully some strength returned to his upper body which had been greatly weakened by the year of required hospital visits and inactivity.

As Pete said, "I could barely stretch one cable when I first started. I would exercise two or three times a day, at first. Then, as I found I was getting stronger, I would use the cables every hour." Pete was displaying the determination which was to characterize his later training.

After several months of cable work, Pete realized that he had to find a more progressive form of exercise. Pete and his brother visited a local sporting goods store and a few days later, a set of barbells arrived of the Caputo home. With the blessings of his parents, Pete began his expedition into the world of bodybuilding - an expedition that is still in progress.

Pete's home workouts consisted primarily of curls and bench presses on a piano bench. It was a chance visit with a bodybuilding friend to Tom Minichiello's Mid-City Health Club that brought Pete face to face, for the first time, with top physique stars like Harold Poole and Freddy Ortiz. For the young Pete Caputo, it was an experience never to be forgotten.

"I never dreamed that such development was possible and I joined Mid-City right then. Tom Minichiello encouraged me to enter my first contest and we are good friends to this day."

A short time later, Julie Levine opened his R&J Health Studio only a few blocks away from where Pete lived. Pete began to train at the R&J and he and Julie became very close friends.

"Julie is like a brother to me. He started me doing leg work and I will always be grateful to him for making me overcome my fear of exercising my legs. He has helped me over many rough spots in my bodybuilding career and is one of my closest friends. Julie's gym is a second home to me and now that he has opened his Future man Club, a really fabulous place in Amityville, I have two training quarters when I am in New York."

The year 1967 saw Pete make the first of many trips to different parts of the United States and Europe in order to further his bodybuilding career. He wanted to learn the California training and diet techniques and so he went directly to Vince Gironda.

Pete was such a good pupil that within seven months he won two of the important California physique titles, beating out many of the top West coast bodybuilders.

"Vince was a great teacher, once he became convinced that you really wanted to learn from him. He would kind of test you at first by giving you some instruction and seeing how faithfully you followed it: If you "passed the test" he would know you were sincere and would really work with you on training and diet. I learned a great many things that I use to this day."

One somewhat humorous incident happened at the first meeting between Pete and Vince. Pete had taken a few workouts at Vince's and was waiting for an opportunity to approach Vince for a serious discussion when Vince came over to him. Pete had been on a protein and cream diet before going to California and while he had gotten up to his heaviest bodyweight, he was very smooth.

Vince told him that he didn't like Pete's diet or smooth appearance and suggested that Pete go on a meat and water diet. "He didn't say how much meat or for how long and I was too much in awe of the man to ask."

Eight weeks later and twenty pounds lighter, a now very defined Pete Caputo was told by Vince the correct way to balance off the diet by taking in carbohydrates every fourth day. At that point, Vince recognized that Pete was indeed sincere and determined to develop physique to its fullest potential.

"Vince taught me to feel a muscle work, to speed up my rest time between sets but to always work strictly. He planned routines for me that would correct my weaknesses while further developing my strong points."

Pete returned to Vince's several times, including periods during which he worked as an instructor for Vince. Between trips to the West coast, Pete was winning a string of titles including Mr. Eastern America, Mr. East Coast, and several others, both on the East and West coasts.

1970 was a year that Pete Caputo will not forget. He had been training very hard and was in the best condition of his life. He entered the IFBB Mr. America contest and - "I didn't know what had happened until several weeks after the contest. As far as I was concerned, I was very happy. I had won my height class and come in second in the overall contest to Mike Katz. Then I happened to meet one of the officials who asked me how I felt about the real "raw deal" I had gotten. I told him I didn't understand what he meant and it was then I found out that I had been selected for the title during the prejudging and the decision had remained that way up until a few minutes before the decision was to be announced.

Then, for some still unexplained reason, one of the "powers-that-be" reconvened the judges and a new winner was selected."

At that point, who would or could have blamed Pete Caputo for turning his back on all further physique competition. He had been deprived of a title that was rightfully his, one that he had devoted long hours of arduous training to obtain. 

But again the fates had chosen the wrong man. Pete's courage and determination were once again shown as he swept all thoughts of resigning from his mind. 

"I decided that I would be in such great condition for the next event I entered that there couldn't be any doubt as to who the winner was."

It was at that point in his training that Pete made his first trip to Florida to meet and train with Arthur Jones.

Pete had read some articles in Iron Man about Jones' Nautilus machines and his training principles and, ever ready to expand his training knowledge, Pete went to see first-hand what he could learn.

Pete was impressed with what he saw and returned to New York to tell Julie Levine about it. In April of that year, Pete and Julie returned to DeLand to purchase several machines for Julie's R&J Health Studio - the first Nautilus machines to appear in any East Coast gym (and probably the first to appear anywhere outside of DeLand).

"Julie has always believed that anything he could do to make his place the best place for his members to train would get to top priority - no matter what the expense was. He was certainly proved that at both of his clubs."

Pete trained using Jones' routine and machines and won the IFBB Junior Mr. America title a few months later. He returned to De Land and trained with Jones in preparation for the IFBB Mr. America event which was to be held four weeks later. However, he had to leave to take care of some personal matters and was only able to train with Jones for two weeks and then didn't train at all for the two weeks immediately before the contest. Pete was still able to come in second to Boyer Coe in his class.

Pete returned to the R&J and got in two weeks of serious training. He entered and won the WBBG Pro Mr. America title. Yes, the courage and determination that had characterized Pete's life was finally bringing him the greatness he deserved. Pete immediately set as his next goal the entering of the NABBA Mr. Universe event. He realized that he would face the best the world had to offer but he felt that he would train as hard as he could (something he had always done9 and would accept whatever decisions were made.

Pate placed fourth in the NABBA event which simply spurred him on with even greater determination to make 1972 the year he would win the title. But once again, the "gremlin"or whatever it is that seems to follow Pete around had determined otherwise. Pete, as open and honest as an individual can be, simply said, "I just look upon it as another one of my many unique experiences. It's what makes life interesting."

For, after a year of sweat and close attention to diet, and just a few days before he was to leave for London, the "roof fell in."

"My training had been going great and Julie and all of the guys at the R&J were telling me that I was in the best shape of my life. Then I started to feel kind of weak. At first, I attributed it to the diet and severe training sessions I had been having. But I had train hard before and it had never had that effect. When the spots in front of my eyes became larger than the weights I was using, I decided it was time to get a medical opinion. The opinion was very concise - hepatitis, and into the hospital."

Pete wasn't able to train for six months.

"I would keep running through workouts in my head. I kept telling myself that there would always be next year." Pete began training slowly and his muscles began to regain their former shape. He went back to London in 1973 even though he knew he wasn't in contest condition.

"The many friends I had made during my first trip there kept writing to me to come over and I decided that even if I didn't do anything in the contest, it would give me an opportunity to see them again."

Pete's 1973 London appearance didn't result in his placing but he felt it was a good opportunity to get his feet on a posing platform again. He fully intended to compete in the 1974 NABBA event in top condition. However, while he was able to train irregularly, his many business interests kept him flying back and forth across the country.

Pete placed fifth in his class, and while many competitors and officials complimented him on his greatly improved appearance, Pete is his own severest critic.

"While it was gratifying to receive all of those compliments, if I had looked as good as many people were kind enough to say, I would have done better."

Pete is beginning his serious training now (January) for the 1975 NABBA contest. "Barring anything unforeseen, I will compete and will be at my all-time best. The rest will be up to the judges."

Serious training for Pete Caputo involves workouts that readers would have to see in order to believe and even then, many would doubt what their eyes were telling them. When several of the Universe competitors saw Pete train after the contest, they just simply stood there in amazement, not believing that anyone could train that hard.

Pete's training system has evolved out of the teachings of Gironda and Jones and modified by what Pete has found works well for him. He trains on a split routine, taking three days to work all areas. He trains chest, back, and biceps on the first day, shoulders and triceps on the second day, and thighs, calves, forearms and abdominals on the third day. 

He selects from six to eight exercises for each part and then does anywhere from six to ten sets of each exercise. He rests a MAXIMUM of TEN seconds between sets - carrying every set to failure. Pete begins each exercise with a weight that he can use for ten to twelve repetitions and drops the weight when the repetitions go below five.

Many times, he will rest no more than two or three seconds between sets. Pete doesn't time himself but just goes by instinct. I watched him complete forty eight sets of back work in thirty minutes! Obiously this is something that should be attempted only by really advanced trainees.

Pete's nutritional program has also evolved out of teachings of Vince Gironda and others, again modified by his won personal experiences. Pete tries to eat four meals daily. Each meal usually consists of one-half pound of meat, fish, or chicken, a salad, and a piece of fruit. Pete has found that it is not necessary for him to go to zero on his carbohydrates in order to get defined (with his training routine, Pete finds he needs some carbohydrates daily). He feels that steroid usage is totally unnecessary when proper nutrition is followed.

The fates have had their three chances to deprive Pete Caputo of the full measure of greatness he has trained so long and so hard for. They are the ones who have "struck out."

Will 1975 be the year that Pete's fantastic combination of size, shape, definition combination of size, shape, definition, and perfect symmetry enable him to wear the NABBA crown? One thing is certain. No one could deserve it more."

Bodybuilding achievements

peter caputo bodybuilding
Mr Venice Beach, Winner
Mr America - IFBB, Medium, 3rd
Mr Eastern America - IFBB, Overall Winner
Junior Mr America - IFBB, Tall, 1st
Mr Pacific Coast - AAU, 4th
Mr America - IFBB, Medium, 2nd
Mr America - IFBB, Medium, 2nd
Mr America - IFBB, Medium, 2nd
Pro Mr America - WBBG, Winner
Mr Universe - NABBA, Medium, 4th
Mr International - WBBG, Medium, 3rd
Mr Universe - NABBA, Medium, 5th