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1980 Seminar with Sergio Oliva Reported by Roger Metz


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1980 Seminar with Bodybuilding Legend Sergio Oliva


Little has been written on the amazing Sergio Oliva in recent years. So when the opportunity presented itself to have a seminar at the Iron Man's Gym conducted by the former Mr. Olympia and Mr. Olympus [that'd be Dan Lurie's contest before the ambitions of the Weider Empire overflowed and drowned pretty near everything else], the only man to hold both titles, I jumped at the chance. Let it be known at this point, I am a Sergio fan and have known Sergio for 16 years and have yet to see anyone - in my opinion - equal him in his prime.

I first saw Sergio as a fellow competitor in the Mr. Mid-States contest in Whiting, Indiana in 1964 and all the other contestants might as well have stayed at home. He stole the show!

Young Sergio Oliva


He has a rare combination of having a large bone structure yet extremely small hips and a waist with an incredible flair at the joints that puts him in a class by himself.

Sergio came into the Iron Man's Gym in the strong arms of the law. Nope, he wasn't under arrest but escorted by Oceanside Detective C.C. Sanders and the guns C.C. was carrying were 19-inches hanging from his shoulders. C.C. is a respected competitive bodybuilder as well as a top promoter and was co-sponsor of the Iron Man Muscle Classic at which Sergio would guest pose after the seminar. 

To accommodate all the Sergio fans three seminars were conducted over two days so the following info is compiled from all three seminars. Let's pull up a bench and get the straight scoop from the man they call The Myth. Take it away Sergio!


Sergio: Well, I'm going to tell you the story of my life, Sergio Oliva! Don't be afraid. Just ask me anything you want to know.

Q: Can you tell us about your early days in powerlifting? 

Sergio: I never did that! I was in Olympic lifting. I never was a big guy to start with but I was always real powerful. I competed in the 148, 165, and 181 pound classes. This was the way I got out of my country of Cuba and came to the United States in Miami. I started to bodybuild there and I was more powerful from the weightlifting. Three months later I was in the Mr. Florida contest. From there three months later I was beating guys that had been training five and 10 years! So I started training real good and training for the big contests. It was funny! When I was in the A.A.U. I was competing in Olympic lifting and physique contests at the same time. So this is the way it started.


Q: How old were you when you started? 

Sergio: I started in bodybuilding at what I consider a late age. I was 22 at the time. To me the right age to start is around 16. I started late but I made it. I was working hard! I wanted to be the top one and I made it! What really makes me happy is that nobody gave me those titles. I was the winner! Lot of those guys I don't know but those days you had to win it. There were no deals! 

I was working real hard in a factory. It was a foundry and when it was 85 degrees outside it was almost 500 degrees inside! I saw guys twice my size pass out on a regular basis because of the heat. I worked there 12- and 14-hour days and from there I'd go to the gym and work out for three or four hours. Even in those days when I was the top one I didn't make a penny from it. I was the best but I didn't make a penny from it.

Sergio The Myth Oliva

Photo above: Sergio Oliva with Roy Velasco


I'm a phony bodybuilder! I eat anything! Now I know my physique and my potential. I don't say you can do it. For you should know yourself and know your limits! I'm the kind of guy that does anything he wants and I don't want you to tell me what to do. How can you tell me what to do when I know my own body better than you do!

I drink Coca Cola. I eat peas and beans and rice, chili, hot dogs! I don't care! I eat anything! Now I don't say I eat like that all the time. When I prepare for a contest I drop all the garbage and eat good but I'm not going to tell you that I spend all of my life eating vitamins and protein because that's bullshit! If I tell you that and one day you see me in a Pancake House eating pancakes you're going to wonder what's going on.
 

Sergio Oliva the Big Eater

You're the only one that's going to find out the right way for yourself. Nobody has to tell you! 

They used to tell me no way you can eat like you do and improve. You can ask anyone that was against me. How about that crazy Cuban! They'll say he eats any kind of junk! They know! I don't care. This is me! I know what I can do. I know my limits.


Q: What's your opinion on the use of steroids? 

Sergio: I'll tell you what it is. When I started in this game we didn't use any of that stuff! Nothing! I didn't even know what it was then. Now all the top guys are using it. I see guys come in the gym and only work out for three months and start using steroids. It's wrong! In my personal opinion it's wrong! How can you know how much development you can get on your own without the drugs? You should see the maximum development you can get without it. Maybe some day you'll get to the point where you're going to get into a big contest and have a decision to make about taking the drugs. Some people really don't need it! There's a lot of ways to take it. You can take it through a doctor where you have a thorough checkup and the doctor will show you exactly how to use it and and how much, or you can go out and take it on your own. I don't believe anybody that's only been in the bodybuilding game for one or two years should use it!
 

Classic Sergio Oliva


Q: Have you used it?

Sergio: Oh yeah! But I don't believe in the stuff. I only prepared for this show for seven weeks. I was doing squats and pulled the ligaments in my leg. So I needed something to prepare myself quick. However, I know my limit. But I've been in this game a lot of years. You get in the gym and one year later you're using the stuff. You don't know your potential this way! You might find you can have the same development without it. 


Q: What do you believe in sets and reps? Say, like an arm routine? 

Sergio: My routine! It all depends! If I'm trying to gain weight I do less sets and increase the weight and eat anything! Now as a show gets closer I quit eating the garbage, I drop the heavy weight and train light. I increase the reps because I'm trying to burn! Say for instance I'm doing 12 sets when I'm trying to gain weight. Maybe I keep the 12 sets but not heavy anymore. I used light weights and when I used to do 10 reps; maybe I did 30 or 40 or 50 reps! So I work two different ways. Do you follow what I'm saying? I know some guys can go to the gym and do 3 sets and get pumped like hell. All right? Now this guy knows what he has to do. He knows his limits. He doesn't need to do 10 or 20 sets. It's just like vitamins; you only need to take so many. But people think the more you take the bigger you get. Your body can only handle so much protein and vitamins at one time.

I know some guys that 3 sets is all they need. For some guys 3 sets is just a warmup. They have do do a lot of sets to get the same benefit. The sets and reps, training heavy or light all depends upon the individual and how he responds to it. It doesn't make any difference how Mr. Magoo trains! You might never get to look like him. Find out what works for you! It doesn't make any difference if someone else has 23-inch arms. Maybe you can kill yourself for years and never get to look like him with his routine. You follow what I'm saying? Do what works for you!


Q: Once you feel the pump is this the point to stop?

Sergio: No. Say you do a heavy curl and get a tremendous pump. Then you drop the heavy curls and do some preacher curls and other movements to keep that pump going.
 

Sergio Oliva in a Shoe Store in Mexico - 1978


Q: Are you worried about getting robbed wearing that big gold medallion?

Sergio: (A lot of LAUGHTER!) I got that medallion when gold was seven dollars an ounce. Now what's it worth? Maybe $500 an ounce? Hey, there's a lot of crazy dudes out there. If one pulls a gun and puts it to my chest and says give me that chain, he can have it! I'm no Superman! I can't fight bullets! However, once he puts the gun out of my view he's dead! If he lets me talk he's not going to shoot me! I'm not worried about it.


Q: What are your future plans?

Sergio: I would like to keep on competing because I don't consider myself down yet.


Q: What was your maximum bench press?

Sergio: I wasn't too strong in the bench press. The most I ever did was 525. For a bodybuilder that's a lot but for a powerlifter it's nothing. I can do 20 reps with 400.
 

Sergio Oliva Bench Pressing


Q: Is it true that you bench pressed 350 x 50?

Sergio: Yeah, I used to take 315 and do 40-45 reps. I bench press a little different than maybe you guys bench press. I don't lock each rep. I do it at a fast pace of short reps. I lock it every once in a while to release the pressure in my shoulders and chest and then keep going again. Now everybody in Europe benches like that. Somebody asked me why I didn't lock every rep and I said - what for? They said they lock every rep. I said how big is your chest, 32? I wasn't trying to put the guy down. I was trying to explain to him that it worked FOR ME and that's what counts! This is the way I grow so why should I change it? I create my own style of exercise that works for me! I don't know if this made a difference in my development. Maybe I would look the same training in a different way. I don't know! This is the way I'm going to keep training!


Q: Do you do anything special to keep such an incredibly small waistline?

Sergio: My waistline? I'm going to tell you the truth. This is my structure and always the way I was. Even when I was little I had a V-shape. When I prepare for a show I'll do situps and leg raises but maybe 3 or 4 sets but not a lot. These pants I'm wearing are a size 28 waist. I respond immediately to situps and leg raises and my waist gets even smaller.
 

1960s Sergio Oliva - Tiny Waist


Q: When you train for a contest do you use the tape and scale a lot or do you go by the mirror?

Sergio: I don't go by either. I judge how my clothes fit me. You can ask my friends, I don't look in the mirror. I never pose in the gym. I pose at home in private.


Q: You've been all over the world putting on seminars and exhibitions. Can you give us some idea of where the most enthusiasm is?

Sergio: There's a lot of enthusiasm all over the world for bodybuilding. Everybody is looking for more knowledge to make improvements.


Q: Besides yourself, who do you think the top bodybuilder is in the world today?

Sergio: To me they're all tops! I said this years back and I say it now. To me they're all tops. It's a lot of sacrifice. I know what it means to be a bodybuilder. I'm talking about the bodybuilders who have a regular job and then go to the gym after work. To go to work and then go into the gym takes a lot of determination.


Q: Do you work a split routine?

Sergio: Yes. Monday I work my chest, back and shoulders. Tuesday I work shoulders again but a different section and then I work my arms. Wednesday I work my legs. Thursday I do the same as Monday. Friday the Tuesday routine and Saturday the same routine as Wednesday.

Monday I do benches and chin-ups. I develop my pectorals and lats at the same time. I do a lot of stuff. Monday is a long routine for me. I do flyes and dips. Dips are one of my favorites. I used to do a lot of dips. The dips are excellent for the whole upper body.

I do a lot of sets in the bench press. I start with 135 and keep adding weight until I'm finally doing singles. Then I work back down on the weight. On declines I do 3 or 4 sets. 2 or 3 sets of inclines, 3 sets of flyes.
 


Q: Do you do supersets?

Sergio: I do what I call a combination - bench presses with chins. I go at a fast pace. If I sit down and get a drink and rest up, I don't feel like doing anything. So I take a shower and go home. So I go at a fast pace. For arms I do heavy curls, preacher curls, seated dumbbell curls.


Q: Do you train 4 days a week or 6?

Sergio: It depends how close I am to a show. If a show is close I train 6 days.


Q: What kind of chin-ups do you do?

Sergio: I do wide grips on a V-bar. I do the front, behind the neck and also chin with a close grip. I do lots of reps. Many people hate doing chin-ups but it is excellent for the lats and a V-shape.
 

Sergio Oliva from 1966 - Wide Grip Pullups


It's like doing squats. Everybody hates squats. Everybody likes to bench press and build a big upper body but if you go to the beach you have to keep your pants on. When you go swimming you have to swim with your pants on! You can't take your pants off because your legs look like spaghetti. It's better to train everything because then you'll grow in proportion. For a contest you're going to have to train every body part. The strongest parts of your body are your legs and back. To me the chin-ups are a must and a tremendous exercise for the back.


Q: What do you do for your thighs?

Sergio: If you do squats and thigh extensions for the front of the thighs and leg curls for the leg biceps you have a well-rounded routine. Leg presses and hack squats are good too.
 

Sergio Oliva Training Legs


Q: Do you do your reps to failure or do you pick a  certain number and do them? 

Sergio: It depends. I base my whole workout on how I feel that day. For example, if I put 300 on the bar Monday and do 45 reps on the bench press it doesn't mean I'm going to do the same thing on Thursday. The weather changes, a problem on the job, family problems; it all affects your mind. If the mind gets weak you're going to be weak.


Q: Do you believe in a workout partner? 

Sergio: Yes I do. I don't like to work out by myself for many reasons. Try to find someone better than you because then you work your ass off to beat him. Look for somebody that's strong and you'll really push each other. If you're looking for tremendous development find somebody better than you and you're going to be motivated. This way you'll work to your maximum. Also it's very dangerous to work out by yourself. I had a lot of problems before. I worked to my maximum bench press and got stuck. The bar ended up on my  chest and there was nobody in the gym so I had to roll the bar off me and it really scared me. That was the end of me training by myself. Also with a training partner there's days you don't feel too good but your partner's motivated and pushes you. Then you end up having a good workout that you wouldn't have had. For a partner to be of benefit it has to be the same routine for both of you no matter what weight you're handling the weight should be the same.


Q: What do you do for the shoulders?

Sergio: A lot of exercises for the shoulders. For tremendous shoulder development do presses behind the neck. Then do lateral raises to the front, side, and back and you'll get all the shoulder development you want. Whatever exercise you do, if you can get a good 12 reps you should use more weight.
 

Sergio Oliva Press Behind Neck


Q: What about your biceps routine?

Sergio: Like I said before, curls, preacher curls, dumbbell curls. It's the way I do it, the FORM that counts. We can both do the same exercise and get different results. IT'S ALL INDIVIDUAL! Calves and forearms are hard to develop. If you don't have some natural development it's hard to get them to grow. I don't even work forearms and they're thick all over.
 

Sergio Oliva - Training Arms - Barbell Curls


In my opinion the easy muscles to develop are the chest and biceps. I find the calves and forearms are the hardest to get to grow.

Q: What would you suggest for the forearms?

Sergio: Reverse curls for 10 to 12 reps each set.


Q: How do you do your squats?

Sergio: I use a 4x4 with my heels elevated. I like it better that way and get better development than by doing them flat-footed. I do a full squat and come down all the way. I have my feet at a 45-degree angle in all my squats. I use my legs and nothing else when I squat.


Q: Do you plan on competing again?

Sergio: Oh yeah, as long as I have about four to five months notice. Sure I'll kill myself for the money and contest as long as I know it will be fair.


Q: Any more advice about the steroids?

Sergio: Like I said before, I personally don't recommend that you use them. I see too many beginners come into the gym and then six months later want to use all the garbage! It's no good for him! A couple of years later it's still no good for you! How do you really know what your potential is without it! The way for you is to go without it! Then if you're a top man some day and you feel by using it it will give you an increase and you want to try it, then try it. But do it through a doctor and not on your own.
 

Beefy Sergio Oliva


Q: What kind of diet do you go on?

Sergio: I diet for a contest but not a strict diet. I know my metabolism and the type of skin I have. So I know how much time I need to cut up. I don't need to go for months and months. The most I stay on a diet is for two to three weeks. I cannot go for more than that. Between contests I eat anything! You name it! Rice, beans, chocolate shakes, Coca Cola. Why not? I don't care! But I balance the meals. Like last night I had a pizza so tonight I'll have a steak and salad. That's the trick! I don't eat junk every day! Then when I come down for a contest or show I come down slowly. I don't try to rush it.


Q: What do you recommend for intermediate and beginning bodybuilders as far as diet is concerned?

Sergio: You find some beginners that look better than some guys that have been training for years. So what I'm saying is GET TO KNOW YOUR OWN METABOLISM. We all have a different metabolism. If you have a slow metabolism you have to watch what you eat. Everything you eat you gain very rapidly. If you have a fast metabolism you can eat anything! I personally have a fast metabolism. I have no problem. I know my metabolism, I know whatever I eat today isn't going to stay in me to until tomorrow. I'm going to go in the gym and burn it up. If you have a slow metabolism then watch what you eat! As far as recommending a diet I leave it to the individual to LEARN HIS OWN BODY. We're all different. I can tell you to eat this and eat that but maybe your metabolism is way different than mine and it wouldn't work for you.


Q: Do you eat anything special before a workout?

Sergio: No, I don't. I eat whatever I feel like eating but I don't eat two hours before I train. I have my breakfast like anybody and my lunch like anybody. Then I go work out. After I work out I have my supper.


Q: What's the latest you have supper?

Sergio: I don't have a set time. Every day it's different. Now it's better for you to have a set time. Sometimes I come into the gym at different hours because of my work, so I have to eat at different times. This doesn't affect me. A different person might be affected by it. I have a friend who has to have all his meals at the same time.


Q: Can you recommend a routine for a beginner or intermediate who wants size?

Sergio: You gain size by the amount of food you eat, the amount of protein and calories you take in every day and by lifting heavy. You have to work heavy and do less sets than you do when you're trying to cut up. Say for instance you bench press with 200 pounds and you're doing 15 to 20 reps. You're not going to gain much size. Add about 20 or 30 pounds and do about 8 to 10 reps. Now you're working for size. Keep adding weight. This is the way you'll gain your size. Also, whatever you can eat, you eat! Train four or five times a week and eat anything but check your metabolism to see if you're burning it up. If you have a very slow metabolism, you have to work on the sets and reps like crazy! While someone else does three sets you might have to do at least 10 sets. There's no secret as to weight or so many sets and reps. Don't let the magazines and books fool you with that kind of garbage! It's bullshit! There's no secrets!!! Look at all the champs there are! Now find me two physiques in all the world that train the same way exactly! No two even have the same physique! If there is a secret and everybody does the same routine we should all develop the same way but for some reason we don't. Right! It means do your own thing! You can try somebody else's routine but it doesn't mean it will work for you. Eventually you'll find routines that work for you. Not the ones I say! I say that one because it's good for me but it doesn't mean  it will be good for you. You know what I mean? This is the one you have to work on! A titleholder tells you a routine that works for him but he doesn't know if it's going to work for you. NOBODY KNOWS YOURSELF BETTER THAN YOU!!!


Q: So when you're working for size you should pretty well eat what you want?

Sergio: As long as you balance your meals. Again, base it on your own body. You might gain and gain but get fat. This is not what you want. So you have to see what your metabolism can handle. You want to gain solid muscle size. Don't waste your time by adding a lot of fat. That's not what you want. If you gain 40 pounds of fat and start cutting up you have to drop the 40 pounds and you'll be right back where you started from. You follow? You can't turn fat into muscle. Bruce Randall went from over 400 and dropped down to under 200 pounds and won the Mr. Universe.
 

Bruce Randall - Before and After Comparison


Q: I train at a gym in Riverside where there are no advanced bodybuilders. My training partner and I ave two different theories on building bulk. I say stay with the basic exercises - squats, rows, curls, cleans and so on. He's more into the exotic exercises - hack squats on a machine, this type of thing. What do you say?

Sergio: Here's the trick and the mistake we all make from the beginning. I did it and they all did. If you work only one area of a muscle, say the triceps, you're only working one part of the muscle. This is a mistake! You have to hit the muscle on three different exercises to hit all the sections.


Q: What are some of the exercises you would do for the triceps for example?

Sergio: For example, I do lying triceps extensions with a cable. Then I do seated triceps extensions with a barbell. Then I do a lying French curl with barbell. So I've worked the triceps from all angles. There's plenty of exercises to do. You have to find out the ones that work for you. The mistake is to say to do 10 sets of one exercise for a muscle because you're not working all the parts of the muscle.


Q: Have you worked with any women in bodybuilding?

Sergio: I don't like the ladies with muscles. The muscles are for the men. That's my personal opinion. Okay? I like the women feminine! I dig any lady that's feminine. There's plenty of exercises the women can do to stay trim and in good shape without getting muscular. That's not for the women! Once you get muscular you lose the feminine look!


Q: Didn't you work in Florida for a while for Arthur Jones? Can you tell us a little about him?

Sergio: He has some good machines but if you take somebody like me who already has the body and put him through the machines you're not going to be able to tell how great the machine really is. The only way you're going to be able to prove how good the machine is would be to put a beginner on it and see what kind of progress he makes with it. If you put a top bodybuilder on it how can you prove how good it is? I'm already developed from the free weights so who can say what the machines are doing? It's really hard to tell!
 

Sergio Oliva - 1970s


Q: Don't you believe everybody develops differently?

Sergio: Definitely. Everybody is going to respond differently to the weights even on the same routine. Everybody has a different metabolism.


Q: What do you think about powdered protein?

Sergio: Yes, you should take protein. If you're training hard you're burning a lot of energy and with the food itself you might not get it all back. So you need the extra supple such as the supplements. Any supplement that has all the amino acids is good. It doesn't make any difference if Mr. McGoo made it. As long as it has all the amino acids in it, it's good.
 

1972 Mr Olympia - Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva


Q: If somebody squats, do you think full squats are the best or half squats?

Sergio: Full squats. I do squats until I sit on my calves. I use a 4 x 4 piece of wood under my heels. You have to do full squats for complete leg development. I used to squat between 650 and 750. That's a lot for bodybuilding but for a powerlifter it's nothing. I have a friend in Chicago that's a powerlifter. He weighs 165 and does over 700 in the squat. I'm not a powerlifter. That's not my game. My game is bodybuilding.


Q: How much do you weigh right now?

Sergio: Now? 210 at 5'9". I feel good. I'm light. I hurt my knee so I haven't done any heavy squats lately. I need another 15 to 20 pounds of bodyweight. If you want to look good you have to suffer like in anything.


Q: I heard that your forearms were so big that you couldn't flex your biceps all the way. Is that true?

Sergio: Yes, at one time my forearms were well over 17 inches and they were so thick up high that when I flexed the forearms would hit the biceps.
 

Sergio Oliva - Massive Arms


Q: What's your waist right now?

Sergio: 28 inches. I always have a 28. These pants are a 28.


Q: How do you ever get pants to fit you?

Sergio: It's easy . . . tailor made! My legs were always bigger than my waist. I was the only one to have a smaller waist than thigh. My thighs measured 29 inches. It's my structure. Even when I was skinny I had the V-taper to my body. This was just the way I was even before I touched a weight. This was a disadvantage for me when I was an Olympic lifter. I was never good at the Press. I was good at the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk but not the Press. For the Press you need a big waist. I always had a problem with my back on the Press.
 

Sergio Oliva Clean and Press


Q: How do you know when you're over-training?

Sergio: When you hit a sticking point on the weights and can't go beyond it for a couple of weeks.


Q: If you work your back today and then work your arms the following day aren't you still using the same muscles?

Sergio: For every exercise you do you're using the arms but not directly. Don't pay attention to the routines in the magazines. They'll drive you crazy! Keep in mind you're an individual and what works for you doesn't always work for someone else.


Q: I read an article that said once you work up to your maximum weight set you shouldn't do any more pumping sets. Do you agree with that?

Sergio: I don't know about that! My theory is a little different. I work on the bench for example. I start off with 135. I warm up and keep adding 20 pounds each set and do as many reps as I can do and hit my maximum weight for what I can do that workout. Then I drop 20 pounds each set and work back down the same way. I do a lot of sets on the bench. It's up to you to try both ways and see which way works best for you.


Q: I've read where you can cut your forearm training in half by every time you grip the bar in the other exercises to grip the bar real hard. Is this true?

Sergio: It's true but you still have to do forearm work because it's the only thing that will give you maximum development for the forearms.


Q: How long have you been a competitive bodybuilder?

Sergio: I started bodybuilding back in 1964. I made a lot of progress fast because I trained very hard and had been Olympic lifting and had the strength. Most people thought I'd been training for 10 years after I'd been training for two. I had a lot of potential for bodybuilding with my frame and Olympic background.


Q: What was the biggest you had your chest?

Sergio: When I went to Germany to compete in '72 my chest was over 58 inches and I was about 22-3/4 on the arms.
 

The Myth Lat Pullups


Q: How many sets do you usually do per upper body part?

Sergio: I cannot tell you exactly but I do a lot of sets. Some exercises I do 5 sets, some 2 sets, some 3 sets. It really varies. Put it this way: On Monday I work chest, back and shoulders only. I do a lot of benches but only 3 sets of declines and 3 sets of inclines because I already worked the chest hard with benches. Then I do chin-ups, I do pullovers, I do dips, I do flyes, I do crushes but I only do 3 sets of all of these. The only thing I do a lot of sets on is the bench. For arms I do the same thing. I do about 4 or 5 sets of heavy curls. I then do 3 sets of a lot of other movements, preacher curls, dumbbell curls, French presses. I do a lot of different exercises but usually only 3 sets.
 

Sergio Oliva - Chest Dips


Q: What kind of work did you do in Cuba?

Sergio: Construction. When I came here I was in meat packing and was working 12 to 14 hours a day. When I finished I'd go to the gym. My boss didn't believe me. He said, "Sergio, are you going home?" I'd say, "No, I'm going to the gym." I tried many sports in Cuba. I was poor and had no money that this was the only way to get out of the country and they don't let you out. I tried baseball, I tried boxing, I was real good and hit real hard. But they had some dude who hit REAL hard so I gave up. I tried running but I was too big for that. I was always really skinny but I always had a small waist with a V-shape even before I know anything about weights. I was at the beach and this instructor passed by and asked if I lifted weights. I said, "Weights? What is weights? The only weights I lift is in construction." He said come to my gym and gave me his card.


Q: How old were you?

Sergio: I was about 18 or 19. That's when I started. I went to the gym then, I was always good in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk from the start but because of my small waist I was never good in the Press.


Q: Did you have flexibility problems?

Sergio: No! No! That's why I was good in the Snatch and Clean. If you don't have flexibility you can't Snatch. Anyway, I went to the gym and worked on the Olympic lifts and before you know it I beat everybody in Cuba in weightlifting. So I represented Cuba in Olympic lifting and as soon as I got to Jamaica that was it! Adios!


Q: On your Thursday routine for chest, shoulders and arms do you do the same thing?

Sergio: I do the same exercises and the same routine but I drop the weight and train real light.


Q: What about a lot of forced reps like the Mike Mentzer routine?

Sergio: I don't know anything about the way Mentzer trains. I've never trained with forced reps so I can't make any comment on it. Again my best suggestion to you is to try a routine for a period of 2 to 3 months and see how it works for you. You don't care what Mr. McGoo does. You only care about what's the best for you. Find what works for you! Now Mr. Oliva says if you do this exercise you'll gain three inches on your arms. You may do the exercise for the rest of your life and never gain an inch. Now here comes Mr. Nobody with a crazy routine. You try it and your arms grow and develop like crazy! Now maybe my routine doesn't work for you because your bone structure and your metabolism has a lot to do with the way you develop. I used to look in the books and magazines and try the different routines of the top guys to find which one worked for me. If I didn't see any or much progress I'd drop it no matter how many titles the guy had won. I recommend to anybody find the exercises and routines that work for you.


Q: Do you do any movements to enlarge your rib cage?

Sergio: No. I never did nor ever tried any movement for it.
 

Side Chest of Sergio Oliva


Q: Did anybody help you with your training?

Sergio: To tell you the truth, nobody. I made it all on my own with real hard work. Even today I'm not a real classy poser because I never took instruction from anyone. I never had the time. I had to work and I had to work out.


Q: Are you financially well of that you don't have to work?

Sergio: No, No, NO! I still work. I take off to go to Europe and around the country for exhibitions but I still work. Bodybuilding is something I can't depend on for the rest of my life.


Q: What kind of work do you do?

Sergio: I'm a police officer.
 

Sergio Oliva - Chicago Cop


Q: Tell us a little about your experience in 1966 over losing the AAU Mr. America to Bob Gajda.

Sergio: Now, don't get me wrong. I'm going to explain it to you the best way I can. Bob and I were in the gym together but we never trained together like it said in the magazines because he had his way of training and I had mine. So we went to the Jr. Mr. America together and I won everything, all the body parts, everything. You judge this, right? They said I couldn't become Mr. America because I don't speak English. That's when I switched over to the IFBB.
 

1966 AUU Mr America - Sergio Oliva and Bob Gajda


Q: Do you think there'll be another Sergio Oliva? 

Sergio: Sure! THE WORLD IS CRAZY! You see some guys that don't work out that look really good. So you put them in the gym and they train and they'll look tremendous. They'll be better than Sergio.


Q: Is your training intensity up to par now with the way it used to be? 

Sergio: No! I trained for this show but I had pulled the ligaments in my leg. So I trained for this show for only seven weeks. I've been training like crazy and dropping down and everything. If there's nothing coming along I just maintain. If there's not something real big coming along I don't kill myself. I can work out as hard now as I did before! In bodybuilding you constantly improve. In other sports once you get old you're out! In bodybuilding you get older, you get better! 


Q: Do you think you've reached your potential? 

Sergio: I reached my potential in 1970 and then again in Germany and then in Mexico again. I know I can reach it when I really want to. But I'm not going to make that kind of sacrifice and then have Mr. McGoo beat me!
 

1970 Sergio Oliva Looking Huge


Q: Tell us a little about your movie career?

Sergio: I've got three movies out but they're all in Spanish. People say I'm a good actor. I don't know, I guess I am. It's tremendous, I like it. It's exciting, it's different! The last one I did about three years ago. It was made in Durango, Mexico. It's a Western. That's where John Wayne made a lot of his movies. I had to ride a horse without a saddle!

El Poder Negro - Black Power - Sergio Oliva

 


Q: Can you ride?

Sergio: Oh yeah! As long as the money is there I'll do anything! That Mother was so fast so I grabbed it by the neck. We only shot that part once, thank God because I don't think I could have repeated it. I got lucky!


Q: Can you give me a routine to really blitz the waistline?

Sergio: There's no secret to it, Baby! The only three exercises I know are the situps, leg raises and twists. There's no secret in that. It's the way you control your diet and doing the exercises. There's no secret! Don't let anyone confuse you! Just do situps, leg raises and twists and control your mouth and you'll have a good waistline.


Q: Just prior to a contest what do you eat?

Sergio: Fish, eggs, steak, that's it! In the last month almost no carbohydrates at all.


Q: Is there any secret to working the back?

Sergio: There's no secret again. I do a lot of different exercises for my back. It's like one guy maybe does nothing but pullups for his back. Along with this you need to do rowing, cleans, which are a tremendous exercise buy most bodybuilders don't like to do cleans because it's hard work. It's just like doing squats. Squats are a tremendous exercise and you need to do squats but they're hard work! If you're going to be in this game you have to do squats. They'll give you a tremendous set of legs, Keep in mind if you have a big chest and big arms and your legs look like spaghetti you're not going to do any good in a contest.
 

The Amazing Back of The Myth Sergio Oliva


Q: Do you drink?

Sergio: Sure, every once in a while when I go to parties. When I go out I have a ball!


Q: Have you thought of entering the Strongest Man in the World contest?

Sergio: If they call me sure I'll go! I don't say I'm the world's strongest bodybuilder, I say I'll go against anyone as long as the money is there. Don't believe what the magazine says until you see the guy actually doing the lifts he's supposed to be able to do.
 

The Myth - Massive Tricep


 

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