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Danny Padilla - The Road to the 1981 Mr Olympia By David Robson Edited by: Strength Oldschool * This interview is from 1998. To train for the prestigious Mr Olympia bodybuilding competition must surely be one of the most heroic of undertakings; six months of blood, sweat and tears, culminating in a contest-ready physique, poised to take on the worlds best. The Mr. Olympia journey is a remarkable feat, given it is, in addition to the pinnacle of mental and physical sacrifice, an all consuming task, surmountable only by the fittest of the fittest. Professional bodybuilding veteran Danny Padilla has made it his aim on a number of occasions to win the Mr Olympia. However, this particular title has eluded him. This is not to say Danny hasn’t worked, in earnest, to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world. He has. Following amazing back-to-back Mr. America and Mr. Universe title wins in 1977, Danny was poised to become the next big thing. Indeed, by the early 1980’s Danny had developed his body to perfection – he had procured a much sought after package of balanced mass, complete with a ripped to shreds appearance that wins the big contests. Danny was so impressed with his physical achievements he decided to display his unprecedented defined physique at the 1981 Mr. Olympia. When Danny revealed to those in attendance, the improvements he had made, many tipped him to win. Danny arguably presented the most balanced, and mind-bogglingly ripped, physique of any competitor on stage – precisely what he was told he would need to do to win. Alas, he did not win but came a disappointing fifth, trailing behind competitors who were considered by many to be completely out of the running. 1981 Mr. Olympia Standings Following this result, or insult, Danny became disillusioned with competitive bodybuilding and opted to focus on other areas of his life rather than make the sacrifices necessary to fight what was, apparent to him, a losing battle. He thought if a massive, symmetrical, and ripped to shreds physique, could not even make the top three, what was the point in continuing to compete. Danny, however, continued to train and progressed to the point where he decided to again compete. In 1990 Danny came third in the Night of the Champions and knew he was well and truly back. In recent years Danny has focused his energies on securing the Masters Olympia crown. In this exclusive interview, Danny shares his 1981 Olympia experiences. Learn of the progress he made in the weeks leading up to this competition – and what really happened. David Robson: Hi Danny. Good to talk to you again. Lets discuss your 1981 Olympia preparation. How long did it take you to prepare for the 81′ Olympia? Danny Padilla: I prepared for the 1981 Olympia for a full year. DR: How did you qualify to compete at this Olympia and what inspired you to get into such great shape? DP: I came second in my weight class at a previous Olympia to qualify for the 81′ Olympia. While in CA someone told me I never won a show because I was never cut enough and this motivated me to compete. DR: How old were you when you competed at the 1981 Olympia? DP: I was 30 years old. DR: What did you weigh and what was your body-fat percentage? DP: One week prior to this contest I weighed 157 pounds. On the night of the show I weighed 176. There was no fat to be found anywhere on my body. DR: In the off-season, prior to this Olympia, what was your bodyweight, and body-fat percentage, if you can recall this? DP: Body-fat percentage was 16% in the off-season at 178 lbs. I never really get grossly out of shape. DR: Did you bring any muscle-groups up for this contest? Which ones, and by how much? DP: I improved my back muscles and abdominals while bringing my waistline down to 28-inches. DR: Overall, what improvements did you make for the 81′ Olympia? DP: Basically, the overall improvement was a complete package. Every muscle and muscle group could be seen. DR: What training methods did you use at the time? Also, describe your pre-contest diet at this time? DP: Each body part was trained twice a week. The push-pull system was used the last 10-weeks before the show, three times a week. I went against rules of low carbs and stayed on 80-grams of protein and consumed all the carbs that I needed (mostly fruits, veggies, brown rice and yogurt). At this point I did not worry about calories. I also jogged three days a week, 5-miles per jog. In the last two weeks prior to the show I counted calories: On the 1st week I took in 1500 calories and on the last week, 1000. Mind you, during the last ten days prior to the show I was too weak to lift weights or do aerobics. I basically worked in the store with my dad and rested as much as I could. The Monday before the contest I weighed exactly 157. On Wednesday I began to double my calories and double my carbs until Saturday. DR: How did you feel mentally during the weeks leading up to this competition? Were you excited, confident of doing well? DP: I visualize what I wanted to look like before the show and came up with a plan to follow through with. I was excited and confident because Arnold had retired and I figured I had a chance. DR: Physically, how did you feel? Did you feel strong and energetic, or depleted and weak? DP: I felt very strong in the beginning of my program, and in the last two weeks I was depleted. DR: Do you think you achieved the best shape of your life for this contest? What did you do differently to achieve this effect? DP: I was in the best shape of my life for the 1981 Olympia, even though the IFBB said I looked too depleted because they had to save face for choosing the wrong winner. If Tom Platz, or Roy Calender, won, I could have accepted it. Although I would have liked it better if I had won. The other show I looked great for was the 1990 Night of the Champions. I was beat by Dorian Yates and Momo Benaziza. I thought that I had the most complete physique at a body weight of 225-pounds, and cut to shreds. DR: As an athlete, what did you gain from doing well in this Olympia? DP: Well, the only thing I gained was I became world famous. Also, I made the Padilla name famous and it’s in the history books of bodybuilding. There were some financial benefits but, unfortunately, when you’re five foot two and your eyes ain’t blue you don’t make the same amount of money as a man over six feet because with the Olympia it’s the tallest and biggest man that makes the show. DR: Who did you train with (if anyone) during the pre-contest phase building up to the 1981 Olympia? What other support did you have? DP: I trained with my best friend Larry Baker, an attorney who loved to lift weights. The only other support I had was me, myself and I. Of course my parents supported me. I received no support from Weider or the magazine (Muscle Builder). DR: Where did you train (which town and what gym)? DP: I trained at the Rockelle Fitness centre in Rochester, NY. DR: Going into the '81 Olympia, did you know who your main competition would be? DP: I had an idea Roy Calender would be tough. Also, I knew that Tom Platz would be tough. And at the time I knew that Arnold had two friends that were in the contest. That was Franco Columbo, (who had won the Olympia one time already) and another protege’ from Germany. His name was Jusup Wilcosz. DR: Who did you see as your biggest threat to winning the Olympia? DP: The biggest threat was Franco, Arnold’s training partner. DR: During the contest, what were some of the moments you remember as being interesting? What was the atmosphere like backstage? DP: I remember Arnold talking to Franco, basically stating that it was going to be tough for him to win the show because of Tom Platz, and myself. I personally think Arnold wanted Franco to drop out, but he stayed anyway and somehow he won the show, the atmosphere was incredible. I remember distinctly, Arnold, Franco and Bill drake pumping up getting Franco ready for the show. I was very confident. I knew I looked incredible, and my friend Larry Baker thought for sure that I won the show. We heard people calling on a pay phone in the back saying they didn’t think Danny could lose this show. DR: After the '81 Olympia, were you back in the gym training, or did you take some time off? DP: After the '81 Olympia because working out was my first love even though I was humiliated, I still trained. But I lost my drive for competition. DR: What were your thoughts on the outcome of the '81 Olympia? Do you think you deserved better, and why? DP: I definitely thought that if I didn’t win, I could have at least been second. The crowd was with me. When I was called fifth, half the audience booed and left the auditorium. Also, the fans followed me all the way to my hotel. But the worst part of this show was the network that was filming stopped because of the audiences reaction. Also the mysterious thing about this show is that there is hardly any photos and there is absolutely no film. Who has ever heard of a Mr. Olympia not being filmed? And if anyone has film or photos, please contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org. The only photos I know of are owned by Joe Weider and Flex magazine and John Balik, the owner of Ironman. DR: Well, you are obviously very committed to bodybuilding as evidenced by your return to the Masters stage. What are your thoughts on the cancellation of the Masters Olympia this year? DP: I was disappointed that it was cancelled. I was in training and in great shape. DR: Thank you very much for your time Danny. One last question. Are you determined to compete at the Masters Olympia if it is held again? DP: Hopefully, if my health holds out and they don’t cancel the show again. It’s obvious I have to compete for ego only because the prize money is so bad I can make more money selling news papers. It is very sad that when a body builder hits his forties or fifties, it’s not like the golf masters. They just want you to go in a corner and die somewhere. Bodybuilding Legend Danny Padilla and former IFBB judge and gym owner Jim Rockell join John Hansen to talk about the 1981 Mr. Olympia contest... * To read an Interview with Danny Padilla from 1991 which includes Danny's 'Training Program', click here. * To read more on the 1981 Mr Olympia (the greatest booing contest of all time!) click here.
1991 Interview with Bodybuilding Legend Danny Padilla By Greg Zulak Ask your typical seven-year-old boy what he wants to be when he grows up and he'll probably say a fireman, a policeman or a professional wrestler like Hulk Hogan. When Danny Padilla (it is Pa-dill-a, not Pa-dee-a) was seven years old, he told his father, "I'm going to be Mr. America one day." He told his father that because his father wanted to know why Danny was always down in the basement lifting his older brother's weights. Yep! Danny Padilla started his bodybuilding career at age seven, doing basic moves like curls, presses and rows. Even at that young age, Danny had a dream - a dream to be a great bodybuilder and one day win the Mr. America title. "I'd lie in bed at night and dream about being Mr. America," says Danny now. "I knew it was going to happen." Danny made his dream a reality in 1976 when he won the IFBB Mr. America title and the IFBB Mr. Universe. The year before he had entered big-time bodybuilding a total unknown, but made a name for himself by winning the USA title. By the end of the 1970's and early 80's Danny Padilla was one of the best bodybuilders on the planet, and many felt that he would win the Mr. Olympia. Then came 1981 and the '81 Olympia in Columbus, Ohio, the contest that broke his heart, took all joy out of competition and caused him to retire from bodybuilding when he was at his peak. For several years Danny had been told by the experts that if he ever came in totally ripped he would win the Olympia. In 1981 he did just that (Photo below). He was so ripped that his eyes were sunk back in his head and his face looked like a mask. Even by 1990 standards Danny was ripped to shreds, but he was still massive and full-looking with his famous beautiful lines and his unmatched symmetry. He had trained and dieted for over half a year for the show. He pushed himself to the breaking point and beyond. He sacrificed everything for this one competition. Then disaster struck. The judges, to loud, vociferous booing, gave Danny only fifth place. Roy Callender, who was also in the best shape of his life that day and would also have been a worthy winner, was given fourth. Tom Platz was in his all-time best shape that day too and seemed the favorite to win, but was only given third. The two guys who weren't even considered by most to be in the top five, Chris Dickerson and Franco Columbu, took second and first. This was the greatest indignity to Danny. Franco Columbu, who had a bitch tit, absolutely no thigh cuts or size - without a doubt the worst legs of any competitor in the history of the Olympia - was boxy and bowlegged and only training something like eight weeks for the show was named Mr. Olympia?!! It was too much for Danny to take. It destroyed him, devastated him. He would never be the same and bodybuilding would never be the same for him. He would compete three more times in the 80's - at the 1982 Mr. Olympia, the 1984 Pro Worlds and the 1985 Mr. Olympia - but truthfully, it was a facsimile of the old Danny showing up for these events. His heart wasn't in it. He basically dropped out of bodybuilding and went back to his native Rochester to work in his father's grocery store and at Delco. While his good friend Arnold was off in Hollywood making millions, there was Danny, one of the greatest bodybuilders in the world, working away in anonymity in a grocery store and a factory. In 1989, goaded on by an amateur bodybuilder at his gym, Danny planned a comeback at the Night of Champions contest. He showed up in great shape but missed the competitors' meeting and was disqualified from the show. Vowing revenge, Danny trained like a madman to prove that, even at age 39 (1990), he wasn't washed up as a bodybuilder and that he could defeat the best of the current day. He did just that, taking second place at the Gold's Classic in Niagara Falls last spring and then, several weeks later, exacting sweet revenge when he took third at the Night of Champions (see photos below). He also went on to compete at contests on the European Grand Prix and took several top-five placements. He had done it. He had proved to the world and himself that he is still one of the top bodybuilders in the world. I recently spoke with Danny Padilla for over an hour and a half. We covered so much ground that I have enough material for several articles. In this interview, Danny talks about bodybuilding in the 1970's versus bodybuilding in the 90's, the old days at Gold's gym with Arnold and Zane and the greats of that time, and why he feels Arnold could defeat Lee Haney. It makes for interesting reading. Greg Zulak: Let's go back to the greatest disappointment of your career, the 1981 Mr. Olympia contest in Columbus, Ohio, when you were absolutely ripped to shreds. I was at that show and thought that either you, Platz or Callender should have won. Danny Padilla: I've always had bad luck. Something always went wrong. In 1981, I was in my best shape ever and a Weider magazine prints a photo of me saying, "This is how not to look. Don't look like this! " Geez! GZ: I remember talking to a judge after the contest, and when I argued that Franco didn't have any legs at all - as photos from the contest show - he said right to my face, "Legs don't count." So I said, "What about Danny? He was ripped and perfectly symmetrical." The judge said to me, "Well, he was too drawn in the face." I was incredulous. It seemed as if they were bending over backwards to give Franco a break and to ignore his faults while nitpicking with you and Tom and Roy. DP: Yeah, Franco had a bitch tit. He was blocky. He had no leg size or cuts. He was bowlegged. He was everything a Mr. Olympia should not be. The guy trained maybe eight weeks for the contest - and it showed - while guys like Roy Callender and Tom Platz and myself trained for months and months. But you know what really upset me about that show? If you asked the judges about the results after it was all over, they said, "We didn't have Franco to win - we put him second, but he got so many second-place votes that he ended up winning." Fine. But how did Chris Dickerson get second? Not to say that Chris isn't great when he's in shape, but that day he was off. How does he get second? How does a guy like Johnny Fuller not even make the top five? It was a sad day for bodybuilding. Take a guy like Tom Platz. That was his last best show. He was in the finest shape of his life that day and he didn't win. The next year he tore his biceps, and he never again had the opportunity to win the Olympia. GZ: Speaking of Tom reminds me of a funny story regarding Winston Roberts and Garry Bartlett. After the show was over, Winston said, "We couldn't give the title to Tom because his legs were too big," and Garry Bartlett replied, "Yeah, so you gave it to a guy with NO legs." DP: Exactly. Winston Roberts even made the statement that my biceps were not big enough. Okay, fine. At least I had legs. Franco didn't have one cut on his. GZ: I remember reading Weider's Muscle Builder back in the 70's and seeing pictures of you back in California training at the old Gold's Gym with Arnold and Zane and Draper and Waller and all those top bodybuilders. What was that like? DP: I think you'll never have another era like it again. I was blessed to have experienced that because I felt I was training with the best of all time. That's not to say that the guys today aren't great too, because they are - there are a lot of excellent physiques out there - but as far as characters and personality, there was much more to write about back then. It was incredible to have so many great physiques training together in one small gym at one time. If you check out the competition at contests today you'll find four or five really exceptional bodybuilders and that's it. From fifth place on down they have a lot of flaws, even at the Olympia. Back in the 70's we had some great physiques! There was Zane, who was not the heavy type but he was very symmetrical and rock-hard. He had certain weaknesses but he hid them well onstage. You couldn't really recognize them until you saw him in the gym by himself. Then you had Arnold, who was just overpowering, a big over-200 guy with maybe the greatest arms ever. You had Serge Nubret, who was great. He was hard. He was ripped. His legs were a little off, but he was there. Then there was Sergio Oliva, the greatest bodybuilder of all time in my opinion. There were so many great guys then. The list goes on and on. Robby was incredible. Mentzer was great. And you had Callender, Waller, Beckles, Coe, Szkalak, Makkawy, Ferrigno, Birdsong, Draper, Tinerino, Corney, Katz, Van Den Steen, Bill Grant, Paul Grant, Denny Gable . . . Roger Callard. These guys were characters as well as great bodybuilders. There were controversies. Things were happening all the time and people couldn't wait to pick up the magazines every month. GZ: I agree. Back in that period it seemed that bodybuilders, and the sport, had an aura of magic about them. Like Gold's California was some magic place you could never really get to. DP: Exactly. Now there are good bodybuilders all over the world. Great bodybuilders still train at the new Gold's, but the new Gold's isn't anything like the old Gold's. Not at all. Back in the late 60's and 70's everybody went to Gold's to train because it was the place to train. Now you go into the new Gold's and it's like a zoo. It's still good, but it doesn't have the atmosphere or the magic of the old Gold's. In 1975 we were the special elite - the best 10 or 15 guys in the world, period. The old Gold's was much smaller and more intimate. It was a very special place. It was like heaven in bodybuilding. You just had to go there; it drew you to it. It was in this weird area, but it was just awesome. Today, I don't know, it's all so commercialized. We trained for the love of it. And it seems that there are no great characters to write about now. They have to make stuff up or look for bad stuff - this guy is getting a divorce or that guy is beating his wife - because they're so bored with it, whereas back then there was always something interesting and positive to write about. GZ: The effect and influence of Arnold in the gym must have been incredible. DP: Yeah. Arnold had this great aura. When he walked into the gym, it would stop. Same for Sergio. When he walked into the gym they all stopped what they were doing. But you had 10 or 20 guys who were all great and in the gym at once. The energy and atmosphere were electrifying. There was respect for one another and friendship - even when we fought. When it was show time, you went all out to win and beat everyone, but when the contest was over we all sat down as friends. Today you don't have that. the guys today are weird. To me they're out of control. It's just not the same. We stuck together. The group always stuck together. GZ: You were one of the top bodybuilders in the world in the 70's and early 80's. What was the last show you did before your ultimate retirement. DP: Well, I showed up for the 85 Olympia and the 84 Pro Worlds in Toronto, but for me, really, the last show was the 81 Olympia in Columbia. I hit the Olympia in London in 82 (see photo below) also, but my heart just wasn't in it. That was my attitude: I'm going to London to see what it looks like. I went in soft and got crushed. Then I basically disappeared. GZ: Why? DP: I just had no interest in it any more. After the fiasco at the '81 Olympia I just had no more interest in competitive bodybuilding. It was like, if I was this great and I could barely make the top five at the Olympia, then the writing's on the wall. To me, it was time to think about my future, to change my priorities, because I wasn't good enough to make top three at the Olympia. GZ: So what did you do? DP: I just went back to Rochester and worked in the store, and I'd still go to the gym because I love training. I've always trained for me. Even when I did compete I always had the attitude that if I won a show, great, but if I didn't, I still went to the gym for myself. So I continued to train but not as long or as hard. GZ: How did you get the urge to compete again in '89 and '90? DP: When I was about 38 years old, I opened a bodybuilding magazine and flipped through it, because I hadn't even looked at a magazine for six or seven years. Everybody was asking me, "Hey, have you seen this guy? Have you seen so and so? " I'd say, "No, I don't really follow the sport anymore." Then one day I opened this magazine and I remember thinking, "These guys look pretty good," but nobody really impressed me. Lee Haney was this big, overpowering guy over 200 pounds, but to me he had certain flaws, like his arms. Yeah, he's great, but I always look to the under-200-pound guy because I'm a realist. I know I'm not going to walk in and crush Lee Haney. I don't care how great I am. So I tried to pick out lighter guys, like Lee Labrada (photo below), and I wondered how I'd do against him and the other smaller guys in the sport. That got me thinking about trying to compete against these new smaller guys. The main reason I did decide to make my comeback was because of a loudmouthed amateur at my gym. He had won a few small amateur shows, and he was walking around the gym as if he was a four-time Mr. Olympia. One day we got into an argument. He said to me, "Look, you're a nice guy and you were good in your time, but you're old and washed up. You can't possibly beat guys of today." I just walked away, but inside I felt like, "Oh yeah, you think so? Watch this! " So I started training secretly. I said, let me see what I have. I got into tremendous shape, but I told no one that I was going to New York to compete in the 1989 Night of Champions. I went to New York to compete - I know I would have made top five for sure - and they disqualified me for being late for the competitors' meeting. It was really upsetting because I had put in over six months of hard training and preparation for the show. I had paid all my own expenses. And then I was out before the show even started. GZ: How'd you miss the meeting? DP: What happened was we went out to dinner - I hadn't been to New York in a long time - and I made a wrong turn and went eight blocks in the wrong direction. By the time I got back I was out of it. And they gave me no chance to return. It really upset me because I had always been loyal to the IFBB. They had left it in the hands of the competitors and they voted me out. It was sad. GZ: Probably in the old days the competitors would have voted to keep you in. DP: Right. To me it was sad because guys like me made the sport and made it possible for them to compete today. And they just pushed me out as if I was garbage. I felt, this is how the IFBB repays my loyalty? Sure, rules are rules and they have to be followed, but there are exceptions to all rules and I didn't think I had been treated fairly. GZ: It must have really motivated you to want to come back in 1990 for revenge. DP: It created a fire in me that was incredible. It was like, don't worry, pricks. I'll be back next year and I'll sleep at the door if I have to to make the meeting. But I'll be there. So that was a big incentive for me to do well this year. At the same time the bigmouth amateur was back at home telling people that I hadn't really gone to the meeting because I really didn't want to compete, that I was afraid to compete. You know, "He was scared of the guys so he showed up late on purpose." Stuff like that. So that fired me up, too. I got crazy. Everyone knew I was back then because I was training like a madman. Then I had a buddy who phoned me after the show wanting to get together and train with me again. His name is Rick Benedetto, and he was a very good amateur 'way back. He had surgery on one knee, he was expecting to have surgery on the other knee and he had a torn biceps to boot. He said to me, "Why don't we train together and see what you're made of? " So here we were training together, one guy who was supposed to be too old and another guy who was half crippled. I trained for the Niagara Falls Grand Prix and he trained for the amateur Niagara show. I took second after not competing for over five years, and he took third in his class after not competing for about 15 years. GZ: Why didn't you go to the Olympia? Were you burned out? DP: I didn't go to the Olympia because, in all honesty, after the 81 Olympia I took a vow never to enter it again. Of course, a lot of people said it was because of the drug testing but that wasn't it at all. I could have got around that by just backing up a few months before the show. After the 81 Olympia I vowed that I would never put myself in that position again. I gave up too much for 81. To get jostled around to fifth place, to get beaten by a guy with no legs and a bitch tit who only trained eight weeks, it was like, "If that's what the Olympia is about, I don't want any part of it." GZ: You said before that in your opinion Sergio Oliva was the greatest of all time. DP: Sergio, to me, pound for pound, muscle for muscle, was the greatest bodybuilder of all time. I don't care what anybody says. Arnold was the greatest inspiration and a great spokesperson for bodybuilding, and he was close to Sergio, but I give Sergio the nod physically. He was just so incredible at his best. I really don't think there will ever be anything like Sergio again. GZ: You told me once a few years ago that you thought Arnold at his best could beat Lee Haney. DP: Yes, I still believe that. Arnold was the type of guy whose physique looked great in the magazines, but you didn't really appreciate it as much until you saw him in person. He had an incredible physique. When Arnold hit a double biceps pose from the back you couldn't touch it. His most muscular, you couldn't touch that either. And his legs, people say his legs were weak, but his calves were amazing and when he flexed his thighs they were there all the way. At his best, Arnold was untouchable. Lee Haney has an awesome thick chest and back, but to me his arms are weak, especially his biceps. His calves could be brought up more and he sometimes is a little soft in the low back and abs. I respect him and he is awesome, but look what he is beating today. Everybody talks about Mike Christian, but his legs are weak. Labrada's too small. Gaspari (photo below) is hard but boxy. Nearly all the top guys today have some flaws. There's nobody out there today who blows my mind the way Sergio did. In the old days Sergio was absolutely incredible. He didn't even have to pose, didn't even have to move, and he looked awesome. When he threw his arms up and the light hit him just right he was huge and hard. He was just awesome. Arnold and Sergio were like cartoon characters. They looked so unreal at their best. Serge Nubret - his upper body was amazing. A lot of people just don't realize. Rick Wayne (see photo below) back in his time was truly outstanding. Dave Draper - equally impressive. His legs were a bit weak but his upper body - magnificent! These guys had incredible bodyparts. I haven't seen much of that today. I look in the magazines, and I don't think it's because I'm getting older - I still have the eye, I still appreciate what I see - but it just doesn't make my jaw drop the way some of those guys did back then. GZ: The thing that I've noticed is that when I was a kid, I'd see pictures of Arnold and Draper squatting together, and they'd be doing sets with four plates, and they looked so impressive at the time. That was a really heavy weight and only bodybuilders of their caliber could handle it, but now you can go into any hardcore gym across North America and find a dozen guys with half their development squatting four plates and sometimes a lot more. DP: Yeah, you squat only four plates today and you're a wimp. You know, a lot of it is all the stuff these kids are on that allows them to do it that quickly. People come up to me and say, "How can you still look halfway decent at your age? " How? Because my body was built with a background. I had probably 15 years of solid training before I ever messed with the game, whereas a lot of kids today don't even want to walk into a gym unless they've got a bag full of stuff. For a lot of them their attitude is, unless I'm on steroids there's no sense training. We trained for the love of it. Danny Padilla Training Workout Routine (1977) Danny Padilla used the same basic workout for years. This was the workout he did for six weeks in 1977. During most of the year Danny trains 4 to 6 days a week. He always follows the same split. Day 1: Chest and Back Day 2: Shoulders and Arms Day 3: Legs Repeat If he misses a workout, which he often does, he doesn’t worry about it, he just does that workout when he returns to the gym. During this time he does 2 to 3 exercises per body-part for 5 sets of 12 reps. Danny uses the same weight in each set. When he can get 12 reps on all 5 sets, he’ll add weight during the next workout. His rest between sets is short. No longer than a minute. Even though the volume is high Danny completes these workouts in just over an hour… This is another way of keeping the intensity high which was taught by Vince Gironda, Bill Pearl and other great trainers of “the golden era” of bodybuilding. Chest and Back Bench Press: 2-3 warm-up sets then 5 X 12 Incline Bench Press: 5 X 12 Flys: 5 X 12 Dumbell Pullovers: 5 X 12 Chins: 5 X 12 Bent Barbell Rows: 5 X 12 Cable Pull-ins: 5 X 12 Once a week he does Deadlifts: 5 X 12 Shoulders and Arms Seated Presses: 2 warm-ups then 5 X 12 Supersetted with Cable Laterals: 5 X 12 Dumbbell Rear Delt Raises: 5 X 12 Front Raises OR Upright Rows: 5 X 12 Dumbell Curls: 5 X 8 Barbell Curls: 5 X 8 Concentration Curls OR Preacher Curls: 5 X 8 Lying Triceps Extensions: 5 X 12 Seated Overhead EZ Bar Extensions: 5 X 12 Pushdowns OR One Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extensions: 5 X 12 Legs & Abs Leg Extensions: 5 X 12 Squats: 5 X 12 Leg Presses: 5 X 12 Lying Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Calf Raises: 5 X 12 Donkey Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Seated Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Crunches or Leg Raises: 5 X 20 Contest Training Volume on body part is raised 20 sets per bodypart. Weeks 12-7 body parts are trained twice a week. During weeks 6-0 each body part is trained three times a week. Danny gains size right up to the day of the contest even on this high volume, high frequency routine. Weeks 12 to 7 Monday and Thursday -- Chest and Back Bench Press: 2-3 warm-up sets then 5 X 12 Incline Bench Press: 5 X 12 Fly’s: 5 X 12 Cable Fly’s: 5 X 12 Chins: 5 X 12 Bent Barbell Rows: 5 X 12 Cable Pull-ins: 5 X 12 Pulldowns: 5 X 12 Once a week he does Deadlifts 5 X 12 Tuesday and Friday -- Shoulders and Arms Seated Presses: 2 warm-ups then 5 X 12 Supersetted with Cable Laterals: 5 X 12 Dumbbell Rear Delt Raises: 5 X 12 Front Raises: 5 X 12 Upright Rows: 5 X 12 Dumbell Curls: 5 X 8 Barbell Curls: 5 X 8 Concentration Curls: 5 X 8 Preacher Curls: 5 X 8 Lying Triceps Extensions: 5 X 12 Seated Overhead EZ Bar Extensions: 5 X 12 Pushdowns: 5 X 12 One Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extensions: 5 X 12 Reverse Curls: 5 X 12 Wrist Curls: 5 X 12 Wednesday and Saturday – Legs -- Abs Leg Extensions: 5 X 12 Squats: 5 X 12 Leg Presses: 5 X 12 Hack Squats: 5 X 12 Lying Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Leg Curls: 5 X 12 Standing Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Donkey Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Seated Calf Raises: 5 X 15 Crunches: 5 X 20 Leg Raises: 5 X 20 Weeks 6 – 0 Workouts are the same as above, rest between sets is shortened but days are split like this: Monday, Wednesday, Friday (Morning) -- Chest, Back Monday, Wednesday, Friday (Evening) -- Quads, Hamstrings Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (Morning) -- Shoulders, Arms Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (Evening) -- Calves, Abs
2001 Interview with Sergio Oliva By Brian D. Johnston Edited by: Strength Oldschool * At the time of this interview, Sergio Oliva was 60 years old. BDJ: How did you meet Arthur Jones; what lead to your involvement with him? SO: Jones initially contacted me from Deland, Florida. He wanted me to fly to Daytona Beach to check out what he was doing, and to give an opinion of his machines. So, I flew down and tested them, and I found them to be quite different from other, regular machines. He then asked if I wanted to go through one of his routines while under his supervision. And I said, "yes." It was very intensive... very powerful... and very different from other routines. BDJ: Provide an example of a routine you did at that time? SO: Jones would put you in a routine starting with legs. The exercises were carried to the point where you could not possibly do any more reps -- to the point of not being able to move the weight. A routine, for instance, would have you start with a squat to muscular failure. Then when you were finished, he would put you in the Nautilus squat machine and that combination would beat the hell out of you. By the time you finished, you would not have the energy to do anything. Then he has you immediately doing the regular free weight bench press, followed by a Nautilus chest machine... then more exercises for the remainder of the body. BDJ: So, Jones had you alternate between free weights and machines? SO: He would only recommend the machines, but I wanted to use free weights also. But when we started to get close to the competition, there was no way I could do both... no way. The machines alone would do it for me. If you don't use the machines the way we did, then it's a piece of cake and you can easily include other exercises in between. But with Jones's method, there is no way... you keep going until you can no longer move. And when you think you're going to rest, he has you going to another machine! By the time you get to the other machine, you feel like you're going to die, pushing yourself to the maximum again. When finished, all you can do is lay down on the floor. BDJ: Did Jones train in your presence, and if so, did he train that hard? SO: He had his own routine and method of using those machines. I saw other people use the machines, but it was not the same way that Jones used them. He had a machine for each muscle, and the way he used them and instructed people to use them, it felt like you were going to throw up. Sometimes he would get people to use machine after machine, and when you thought you were finished, he would get you to do a squat! It was unbelievable. BDJ: A legendary workout had you train immediately after Casey Viator, performing a full body workout. Reports indicate that you could not complete the workout very well and was reduced to using relatively light weights in order to complete it. Is that account very accurate? SO: Yes. That was my very first workout when I went down to Florida. Casey already lived there with Jones and was used to the workouts. I wanted to also workout, and I thought, "Jesus Christ! " I believed that I could not do it, even after having trained so hard for so long. That's when he put me through all the machines. By the time I got to the last one, I thought I was going to throw up on the floor. But as you continue going every day, your power, endurance, determination increases so much that you are able to handle that kind of routine. It was the way that he did it that was different. Too many people used them like they were using free weights pumping and resting. BDJ: I believe you may be the only person to officially develop a muscular arm with a height (from the top of the biceps to the bottom of the triceps) greater than the height of one's head. Did this phenomenon occur while training with Jones? SO: This occurred with Jones, around the time of the 1972 Mr. Olympia in Essen, Germany. You see, Jones tricked everybody. He would invite them down and pay for the trip to test his machines. Everyone went down... Columbu, Arnold, Zane... everybody. And as soon as you arrived he would start measuring your arms cold, then he would tell you how much you can increase in a couple of days, and nobody would believe it. All those Weider magazines claiming 21-22" arms would have everyone coming down to 18-19"... and the only 20.5" cold was my arm. After going through his workouts, my arm was almost an inch bigger, and that happened for everybody. Arnold's arm was 19.75", and Weider had him in the magazines with 22.5". It was ridiculous -- all their measurements came down when Jones measured them. It was during that time that Jones measured my arms and my head, and I couldn't believe that my arms were bigger than my head... I didn't pay attention up to that point. BDJ: I believe your initial meeting with Jones was around the same time that Arnold beat you during that very controversial Mr. Olympia in Essen, Germany? SO: Yes, it was around then that we started training together, but was actually about a year before when I started training with Arthur to prepare for the Mr. Universe in London. BDJ: The one picture I remember of you from Essen, Germany was when you held your arms up over your head -- it was very striking. You're also, perhaps, one of the few who can hold that pose and look good? SO: Ah, yes, the Victory Pose. A lot of bodybuilders try to do it, but the problem with the Victory Pose is that you have to have so much muscle. Your lats have to be tremendous, and the waist very tiny. Plus the lats have to be linked to tremendous triceps and the chest has to be huge; otherwise you look flat from the front when you raise the arms. And when you work your way up, the forearms have to be huge, otherwise they look small connected to the triceps. And that pose came out of no where; I did it, but don't know how or why. I was posing in a country in the 1960s, I lifted my arms up, and everybody went bananas! From that day on everybody started calling me the Myth, and named it the Victory Pose. And after that if I didn't hold that pose they wouldn't let me off the stage (laughter). BDJ: Judging from past photos, I believe you were your biggest while training with Jones. SO: No question about it. And it's too bad... I should have stayed with him. When I went to London in 1970 for the Mr. Universe, everyone knew I beat those guys, including Bill Pearl... I was given second place. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: I believe Sergio was referring to the 1971 Mr Universe as that's when Bill Pearl made his return back to competition and won against Sergio. SO: From there I was to go to the 1971 Mr. Olympia, in Paris. I spoke to Serge Nubret who asked that I go to the Mr. Olympia since Joe Weider wouldn't be there to fix the contest. I then flew to Paris, and while there Joe found out I was going to compete. And he refused... he would not let me compete. He said I was suspended for a year because I competed in the non-IFBB sanctioned Mr. Universe in London the year before. He used any kind of trick. He allowed me to do a posing exhibition, but not compete. In 1972, the Mr. Olympia promoter called everyone to go, and everyone did. But Joe didn't want Arnold to go, but Arnold wanted to compete. (I have nothing against Arnold, he has done very well; many people used him in the beginning, then he used them.) Arnold competed in Essen. By that time, the training I had with Jones allowed me to win the contest by miles. People are still talking about Essen '72. Even Arnold himself said that he didn't win, that it was nothing but politics... it was nothing but politics, but they gave it to him. After that contest Weider put the promoter out of the promotion business. Serge Nubret used to be the big man when it came to running contests. Weider also put him out of the business because Serge did not want to run the contests the way Weider wanted to run them his way with the placings predetermined. * How Sergio Oliva looked in 1971 at around 30 years of age... BDJ: After you left Jones's instruction and went your own way, did you continue training with a HIT approach, or did you return to volume training? SO: Well, I went back to free weights because I did not have access to his machines. I was definitely more powerful after the experience and was lifting more on the free weights than ever before. I did maintain the same intensity afterward, however. BDJ: The reason I brought that up is that previous issues of muscle magazines, and throughout various Weider encyclopedias and books, it suggested that you performed a much higher volume of training, up to 15-20 sets per muscle group. SO: I definitely did not do that many sets, but don't forget I didn't have the machines, which were much more intense -- requiring less volume in comparison to free weights. So I had to make up for the reduction in quality. It's politics, the Weider bullshit magazines. But they control everything. If you try and fight it they will do everything to get you out of the way. They control all the contests, equipment and bodybuilders. And bodybuilders have to go with Weider because where else are they going to compete? They have to bend and go with them. But me, I did not care. When I went to Weider I was already Sergio Oliva, so he could not say that he 'made' me. People already knew me from before and that I was with the AAU before going for the IFBB. He could not use me, perhaps to the point where he could claim that he took me out of my mamma's belly. BDJ: Well, Weider claims to be Trainer of Champions. SO: When he took Arnold under his wing, Arnold was already competing in London, England for Mr. Universe. He only trained a few people, but that's the propaganda. They also call him the 'Master', but I don't know the master of what... maybe the master of breaking your back and your brains. A lot of politics, and it's too bad. For the younger bodybuilders they have no choice. If you use the drugs, have the physique and want to make money, then you have to go with him. Otherwise, don't use the drugs because you won't have any other place to go. It's all Weider: the Mr. Olympia, Mr. Universe, Night of Champions. They have every body back and front. BDJ: What opinion do you have of Arthur Jones? SO: Anything I have to say about Jones is good. He is the only honest man I met in bodybuilding. If he says "I'm going to pay you so much", he does. If he says that he's going to train you a particular way, and next year you're going to look a certain way, then you will look that way. He's the type of person you like to be around; the type of person you like to deal with since he won't screw you or use you. Totally different from those other assholes. And everyone who went down to Florida knows that. And it's too bad... if Jones was the one running all the competitions, there would have been a lot of changes. He should have been the one to run the Mr. Olympia and other contests. BDJ: What is your opinion on the competitors of today, compared to your competition days? SO: When I see what they are going through, and what they have to take to be what they are... I wouldn't want it. You can even see how differently the muscle develops on bodybuilders of today versus those of the sixties. The amount of steroids that they use is way over the limit. And that's why you see those physiques... they're tremendous. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva in the late 1960s. BDJ: I find most of the physiques today look like one another; almost clone-like. Competitors of the sixties and seventies each had a special unique look or style. SO: Yes, they all look the same. And if they have a little bit of shape, they all have the same kind of shape! They all have the same look. And it's hard to differentiate one from the other. BDJ: What are your thoughts on some of the past Mr. Olympias, in regards to political tampering? How about the 1979 Mr. Olympia between Zane and Mentzer? SO: Mentzer all the way. There is no doubt about it. But don't forget, Mike came from the outside; Zane was with Weider. Don't let anybody fool you. Zane, Arnold, Columbu, Haney... all those guys were under contract. Now, Lee Haney is my friend and I have a lot of respect for him, but there is no way in the old days that Lee Haney would have won the Mr. Olympia. His physique is unproportional -- a man with a back, but no arms or calves. Then there's Dorian Yates. He has a belly like a cow and no arms. That is not a complete physique. That is not proportional or symmetrical. But being under contract.... Now, if they put Zane and Mentzer together in a contest that was not Weider dominated then Mike would have won. Zane knows that, and Zane is my personal friend. * Photo below: 1995 Mr Olympia - Sergio Oliva at 54 years old with Lee Haney BDJ: Do you think Haney deserved any of the Mr. Olympia wins? SO: He may have deserved some Mr. Olympias, but not all... not the guys he competed against. But, he knows. Everybody knows. BDJ: Could you relay your own experience with drug use? SO: This is an area of great interest for people. I don't care who wants to take steroids, because that's a personal choice... that's his life. Now, today, everybody has access to them. I even saw in one of the big magazines that Arnold denies having used them, but Arnold was one of the first to bring steroids over to America. And everybody in the old days used them: Zane, Columbu, myself, Arnold, Larry Scott, Harold Poole, Dave Draper, and even Steve Reeves. There's no way to deny it. It wasn't much, nothing like today. But the development of drugs is much different. I used decca and dianabol, and that was something really big at the time; and decca was not considered that bad. It was even prescribed by doctors to help make your bones strong. Today you have guys weighing 200 pounds, and six months later they weigh 250-300 pounds! So you know these guys are taking something unbelievable. When they say they haven't taken anything, you know that it's phony. BDJ: I could only imagine what you would look like if you have access to the drugs of today. SO: Geez... I wouldn't even want to think about it. My God... (laughter). We used to talk about the big deal of taking decca and dianabol. Now the talk is about growth hormone. I see what they are using... the way they look... I tell you, it's scary... I would pass on that. Anybody can go work out and get a physique without steroids, and that is what I recommend. The drugs today is not worth the money or the way it makes you look. The consequences later are going to be big. BDJ: I notice a lot of people take steroids because they are too lazy to train hard mostly teenage boys. SO: Yes that's what it is. But they're making a double mistake. When you take steroids you have to train even harder... otherwise the excess weight later turns into fat. If you train hard, eat well with quality protein, and take a good vitamin and mineral, then you can achieve a good physique. And a good physique comes from about 45% of your genes, whereas the rest is from training. So, if you're going to be something, then you're going to be something. If you're not, then you're not. But with all those steroids, you're going to be one of the group... you're not going to be different. I wouldn't recommend them to anyone... to my friends or any of my family. BDJ: You're still training to this day. Tell us about it. SO: I'm 60 years old and I go to the gym five days a week. I enjoy going to the gym very much. When I competed I trained 5 days a week, year round. I'm not like some of the competitors who only trained for six months for a contest then laid back. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva at 61 years old (2002) BDJ: Physique wise, who do you consider to be the best bodybuilder? SO: There are a few. One of the best right now is Flex Wheeler (photo below). I also like Shawn Ray and Ron Coleman. I compare myself to Flex Wheeler, a little bit. He reminds me of myself, with a tiny waist. My back was much bigger, though. He is the only one with a really complete physique. BDJ: Your last year of competition was 1985. I've heard from some spectators that they did not care whether you won the contest; it was worth attending just to see the legendary Oliva. Tell us about that. SO: I could have entered that contest much better, and much bigger... that night was not the same physique that I always carried. I felt sick, like a Zombie. I followed my wife's (Arleen Garrett) suggestion in changing my diet. I've always had a problem with my diet. Thank God I had good genes to be able to eat what I want. So it seemed everything that I ate, I turned it into muscle. Anyway, she wanted me to follow the diet that Frank Zane followed. But she made a mistake. The diet was all right for Frank Zane's metabolism, but for me, it was not doing the job. I had no power to train and I felt too weak to workout... it was a disaster. If I did it my way, I would have looked unbelievable. The second thing is, and I found this out, that even if I looked like King Kong and cut, they would have given me the same placing. Weider indicated no other placing for me but eighth. BDJ: A similar thing happened to Mentzer in Sydney, Australia, in 1980 when they gave him fifth place. SO: That's right, and believe it my friend. And I could not do any better than eighth place because all those guys on the stage are the same ones endorsing his vitamins, proteins, magazines, equipment... I didn't do anything for him, because he didn't do anything for me. As a matter of fact, he took away from me. But I decided to come back for that contest. And who picks the judges? Weider. So, how can you win? NOTE by Strength Oldschool: To read Mike Mentzer's thoughts on the 1980 Mr Olympia contest click here. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva from 1983 at 42 years old. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva from 1993 at 52 years old looking massive! BDJ: What projects and plans do you have for the immediate future? SO: I regularly do seminars and guest appearances. And I do my seminars different from everyone else. I tell it like it is and allow the audience to ask me questions. Other bodybuilders only talk about the good things. I talk about the good and the bad. People don't always want to hear about the blue and the red, but the black and the white. That is why I'm asked to do seminars all over the world, and people really enjoy them. I'm also working with someone (Francisco G Marchante) on a book about my life story and competition days. * Photo below: Sergio Oliva and Francisco G Marchante - at the 1995 Mr Olympia contest. I was supposed to do this book before, but I like to say things the way they are and it was difficult to get interested writers willing to put it all on the line. I don't push or drink protein powders and I won't endorse things I don't believe in. So, in a business sense, I was bad for the business. And this also affected some of the contests in which I competed. The book will discuss these things, but also my Olympic lifting days before bodybuilding, when I prepared for the Pan American games, when I prepared in Russia, all the sports I did in Cuba to escape... basketball, volleyball, boxing, running... I was doing everything, but the competition was too high. I did so much in life that it is not necessary to add or take away from my stories, but it is hard to find someone willing to print the truth. I will tell about the politics and the contests Joe fixed. A lot of people will be against it, and a lot of people are going to know a lot that they don't already know. Also, I'm still working on the police force with about 6-7 years to go. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Sergio joined the Police Force in 1976. He would later retire in 2003. BDJ: Thank you for your time. NOTE by Strength Oldschool: Photo below shows Sergio Oliva at 69 years old attending the 2010 Mr Olympia. He would pass away just two years later in 2012 at the age of 71. But let's remember The Myth as the powerhouse he really was... Sergio from 1969! RIP Sergio Oliva (1941 - 2012) * If anyone has any stories on Sergio please comment below. It would be great to hear any Chicago Cop stories or training in the gym etc. If you have a rare photo of Sergio, consider adding it below. Strength Oldschool