Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Clarence graduated from Albuquerque High School,
University of New Mexico, and UNM Law School. He practiced law in Albuquerque until 1994,
when he stopped practicing to devote full time to studying and writing
about the fitness lifestyle. He was among 100 UNM graduates chosen by the Alumni
Association to represent the "Best Efforts" of the university on the
occasion of its 100th anniversary. In 2003, The Association of Oldetime Barbell
& Strongmen honored him with its highest award, The Vic Boff Award for
lifetime achievement. Clarence is included in Bill Pearl's 3 volume Legends
of the Iron Game (2010).
In 2011, The Stark Center for Physical Culture & Sports at the University of
Texas in Austin included a series of photos of Clarence as part of a ten-gallery
photography exhibit celebrating the opening of The Joe & Betty Weider Museum.
The Museum introduced the gallery including Clarence as follows: “Gallery four
is entitled Transformation and explores through photography the body’s capacity
to adapt and change through training. A particular focus of the gallery is a
series of photographs of Clarence Bass taken over the passage of 55 years; they
demonstrate how effectively Bass has used exercise to resist the physiological
effects of aging.”
Clarence has had a lifelong interest in fitness and health. He started lifting weights at about 13 and
garnered his first athletic award in 1954, when as a junior he won the State High School Pentathlon
Championship. He also wrestled in high school, placing second in the State Championship as a
senior. He then concentrated on Olympic weightlifting where he won many more trophies over
about a 20 year period, including city, state, regional and national awards. His best Olympic lifts
were: Standing Press 275, Snatch 245, Clean & Jerk 325.
Approaching 40, Clarence turned his attention to bodybuilding, where he won his height class in the
Past-40 Mr. America contest in 1978 and in the Past-40 Mr. U.S.A. the following year. In the
U.S.A. competition he also won the "Most Muscular Man" award as well as "Best Legs" and
More recently he has become interested in activities requiring both strength and endurance such as
indoor rowing, where in 1992 he ranked 21st in the world for light-weight men age 50 to
59; eleven years later, in 2003, he ranked 4th in the 500-meter row for
light-weight men age 60-69 and 14th for lightweights and heavyweights combined. His
overall health and fitness has been evaluated by the famous Cooper Clinic in Dallas (1988, 1989,
1992, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014). On each occasion his performance on the treadmill
or the stationary bicycle placed him in the top
category for men in his age group. His overall health was judged "superb."
His maximum heart rate (180) is that of a 40-year-old.
His greatest fame, however, probably comes from his ability to maintain his body fat at a very low
level. Body composition tests at Lovelace Medical Center and UNM Human Performance
Laboratory have on numerous occasions measured his body fat at 3% or lower, when the average
man his age has a body fat level 25% or higher and world-class male marathon runners usually carry 5
or 6 percent fat.
Clarence has written ten books. His first book Ripped: The Sensible Way To Achieve Ultimate
Muscularity, published in 1980, tells of his victories in national
master's bodybuilding competition and his initial reductions to 2.4% body fat.
Ripped 2 and Ripped 3, published in 1982 and 1986,
completed his bodybuilding series. Lean For Life
Challenge Yourself, and Great Expectations, published in 1992, 1999,
and 2007, respectively,
explain his lifestyle approach to fitness and health. He has written, co-produced and
appeared in three DVDs, the first, RIPPED,
The Video/DVD, was released in late December of 2002, and the second, The
Second RIPPED Video/DVD, in December 2003. His Third RIPPED DVD,
Motivation, was released January 2005.
Clarence wrote a monthly question-and-answer column in Muscle & Fitness, the world's most
widely read bodybuilding magazine, for 16 years (until 1996.) Most of these columns are collected
and categorized in his 3-book Lean Advantage series.
His latest book is TAKE CHARGE: Fitness at the Edge of Science,
released April 8, 2013.
Clarence is married and has an adult son.
To see a short history of Clarence's training career in pictures - Go pictures