An Interview With Bodybuilder Roger Walker
By James Sadek
Learn from the 1976 Mr. Universe on how to beat everyone, including Arnold. Find out how much of an ass Arnold was also!
I got to Roger Walkers house and he greeted me and took me upstairs to where his entire memorabilia still sits. We both took a seat and begun.
James: When and where were you born?
Roger Walker: I was born on the South East of England, in 1948.
James: How did you get started in bodybuilding?
Roger Walker: I joined the royal marines when I was 14 years old. You had to be quick and tough. Everyone wanted to beat the P.E. Teacher and the only way to beat him was to practice. It was a nice feeling being the last one standing. So in my spare time and into the late hours of the night I did countless sit-ups, chin-ups and push-ups, to make sure I was the last person standing.
James: Were you always naturally muscular or was it something you had to work at from scratch?
Roger Walker: I always believed I was stronger than everyone, strength was important to me.
James: Where was your first show, and how did you place?
Roger Walker: It was in London. The South East London Titles. I placed 4th in the novice division. I didn’t win but I received a small trophy, it was the sweetest. I was happy.
(Roger then pointed out the trophy he won at that contest; it was about 4-5 inches tall. He said that trophy went everywhere with him, he never lost it, it went to every other competition he entered.)
James: How long did it take you to turn professional?
Roger Walker: At 16 years old I set a goal to myself and only to myself, meaning I didn’t tell anyone, not my friends, family, no one, to be the best in the world. I didn’t tell anyone because it was my secret, it sounded ridiculous. At that time it was to be Mr. Universe, which to me was the best in the world. I gave myself 10 years to reach my goal and I did it in the 1976 Mr. Universe competition where I placed 1st.
Back then there was no proper gym like there is now, no instructors, books or videos. Only Weider magazines were around to learn from, but everyday, for 10 years I fell asleep every night dreaming about the goal I set for myself… how I would look, my reaction after I was awarded victory, the crowd screaming… I visualized all of it.
The problem with this was when I did win in ’76, it was almost an anti-climactic situation because I had already lived the moment over and over in my head. It didn’t feel exciting because I saw that moment 365 times a year for 10 years, no matter whatever funny place I was at the time, whether it was the jungle or whereever, I visualized winning it and I eventually did.
James: What was the most memorable competition you ever competed in? Why?
Roger Walker: All the shows I have competed in have been memorable for different reasons; they were all steps towards my goal. My first shows, which were all local, were nice and friendly, then got a lot more serious from then on.
James: What was your weight?
My weight slowly increased from competition to competition due to improvements and getting bigger.
Off-season? The heaviest I ever have been is 300 pounds that was because I wanted to get to 300 pounds. It was hard to sleep at night. (Laughing)
Contest? At the 1976 Mr. Universe I was 235 pounds.
James: Explain your theories on training. What type of workout do you do? What type of schedule? Any other training tips that have benefitted you the most?
Roger Walker: My first training partner was Gordon Allen. After Arnold won his first Mr. Universe they sent Arnold down to train with Gordon because they thought Arnold would have known his shit, but he knew nothing.
Gordon was 5″8 and as strong as an ox. He was the benchmark, the shit. I started training at his gym and soon became his training partner. It took me 3 years to out lift Gordon on the Press, Bench, Squat and others.
This gave me a basis, showed me how to peak for strength. It had nothing to do with bodybuilding as it didn’t translate into bodybuilding, but it gave me a good foundation that most bodybuilders don’t have but is imperative to have.
My idea was to get in and get out of the gym. INTENSITY. I tried super sets, trisets, giant sets, all without sacrificing my poundages. I still lifted heavy. I thought of training as a horsepower thing.
If I moved 100,000 pounds in an hour, but the next workout I moved the same amount of weight in 45 minutes that means I increased my intensity by 25%. By the end I was performing 45-50 sets an hour, my intensity was incredible.
Bodybuilding is all about high intensity, not about lifting singles. It’s about moving as much weight in a short amount of time.
James: What was your favorite exercises/muscle group?
I believe the strength of Roger Walker was not having a weak spot, I had calves, a back, Chest and forearms, I had everything. If I took something I didn’t like I would do it until I enjoyed it. I hated Rows, My training Partner Gordon loved them, he was the row king I followed him for years but it paid off. I did the stuff that hurts; most modern bodybuilders I BELIEVE don’t do the hard stuff.
James: You are the only Australian bodybuilder to compete against Arnold on an Olympia stage but it was on the infamous 1980 Mr. Olympia stage? What are your recollections about that day? Did Arnold deserve to win?
Roger Walker: Well you’ve seen the video haven’t you? Did he? I’ll tell you something; Arnold flew over in his own plane, with his own film crew. They followed him to the toilets, showers, everywhere. They were here to promote and publicize his new movie. There was NO WAY he was going to lose, and everyone knew it.
I wasn’t going to waste all my hard work that day, I stayed focused, thought about hitting my poses, thought about the routine I practiced for everyday 6 weeks out from the Mr. Olympia. Just thought about what I was going to do. It was great contest, I was in great shape I was relaxed. It was just a pity that the Aussie judges didn’t appreciate home grown muscle and there society, all they did and continue to do is suck foreign cock.
Let me just say, I have seen Arnold in shape in 1971, it was simply awesome.
But in 1980 he wasn’t in shape, he was nervous, scared and he was in the judges pockets. But he’s done well. (Smiling)
James: Did you train with anyone you competed against?
NEVER, NO, NO. Never train with a competitor. Always choose a Gumby, work them till they drop, until blood comes out there ears. If they ask how many sets we have left you tell them I will tell you after the next one. Become a vampire take them for everything they are and that’s it.
James: Was there a pro that you couldn’t stand?
Roger Walker: I hated everyone until I won. There were a few I respected afterwards, the strong, big, tough, the ones that were real men, not brown noses (Tom Platz), Those that stood for what they looked like on the day, those guys realized that sometimes you come in looking good other times you don’t.
I respected Ken Waller; I bumped into him leading up to one of the world championships and had a coffee with him. He is a nice guy, a Big Southern Yankee, he had a bad reputation in the weider magazines, they made him out to be the bad guy.
If he were a Rugby Union Player he would have been a number 3. Ken showed me respect, really nice guy. He was super strong.
Also Frank Zane was a really nice guy as well. He was bright, real smart and a real gentleman.
The real hard men were the guys I respected but the others weren’t very nice I had no respect for them.
James: You are in the movie Pumping Iron. Was Arnold really that arrogant and did he really try and wreck things for other competitors? E.g. Milk + salt is good?
“Arnold Has Always Been An A-hole”
I have known him since 1969 – 1970; he used to boast about people always coming up to him asking for advice. Kids used to come up to Arnold for advice and he used to tell them the totally wrong things, and send them in the wrong direction just for laughs, he’s always been an a-hole.
James: When did you first hear about steroids?
Roger Walker: Steroids have been around since about the 1950’s, the bodybuilders that stood out in the 1950’s that new the secret really stood out like dog’s balls. They were head and shoulders above the rest. I remember a guy called Reg Park, he won the British Nationals, his father sent him over to America afterwards for 6 months and he put on 50 pounds.
In the mid 60’s everyone was talking about steroids, although up until 1976 they weren’t banned from the Olympics. From 1965-66 it was common knowledge.
Steroids first came from the war, were doctors used to treat patients that were injured with them to speed up recovery, this was in 1940 to 1945.
James: Do you still follow professional bodybuilding?
Roger Walker: Not on a day-to-day basis, obviously still involved as I work in the fitness industry and still following the trends. I still receive regular calls to keep up to date with who has won what as well.
James: We then had a chat about the interview and Roger wanted to add this.
Roger Walker: To me bodybuilding is still exciting, dynamic, my first love. Unfortunately Australian bodybuilding has taken a backward step due to local promoters manipulating situations for there own personal gains.
Bodybuilding is still the first event to ever be judged on. In the Greek Olympics people saw the athletes and said, look at the size of that chest, how big the arms are, they were being judged. Bodybuilding is still the Prime Evil Sport we have in this time.
Until Next Time,