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  1. * Strength Oldschool was given permission to publish this article on the Author's behalf. * An Eyewitness Account of Mike Mentzer's Training Seminar by Magnus. Edited by: Strength Oldschool * If you haven’t read Part 1 yet click here. Hello everyone, and welcome to my account (finally!) of the day I attended Mike Mentzer’s seminar. This event took place the day after my unexpected chat with him that you read about in my first Mentzer topic. The seminar consisted of an explanation of Mike’s Heavy Duty training system, a workout that was intense (no demonstrating with light weights here!), and Mike performing his posing routine, followed by questions from the audience. Two things to bear in mind: First, this took place in the early 1980s and was possibly the last time that Mike was in good shape, and second, if you are expecting a lot of Ayn Rand - inspired philosophical chat from Mike it did not happen, as Mike had not yet got around to being entranced by Objectivism at this point in his life. Okay, back in time we go to pick up my thoughts as I finished work for the day and headed for Swindon and the gym where I had been lucky to have that one-on-one discussion with Mike the night before. My mind was buzzing with anticipation: Would Mike get angry or abusive if anyone questioned his training? Was the seminar going to be mostly talk with maybe demonstrations of exercises done with light weights? AND important to a young bodybuilder that had connected with Mike’s wavelength, would he treat me differently to everyone else who attended – my ego was expanded and wanting even more stroking! I walked in the gym and there was Mike by the reception desk already surrounded by lots of young bodybuilders asking questions. Clearly enjoying the attention, it was obvious Mike loved to talk and ‘correct’ any opinions on training which did not agree with his. Looking over he caught sight of me and gave a very slight nod to acknowledge my presence, then went back to the group of around fifteen guys around him – a mental image of Jackals around a Lion came to mind – but if the intention of any of these guys was to criticise Mike I felt sure they would find him to be unbeatable in a debate. The gym owner appeared behind the desk and I purchased a seminar ticket and slowly wandered around the gym, eagerly awaiting the official start of the seminar as staff wandered around the gym telling trainees who did not have tickets that the gym was closing. While this went on I overheard one of the young guys talking while waiting for the seminar to begin (young? I am forgetting I was in my early twenties then so I was part of the same crowd!). He was telling a small group about Mike’s training which he had witnessed a couple of days before. Mike had trained legs, chest and triceps and incredibly did only one set per exercise and no warm-ups! Leg work started with Nautilus leg extensions followed by conventional leg presses (the gym did not have the old Nautilus leg extension/leg press machine that was as big as an army tank, instead it had the much smaller leg extension unit and an ordinary vertical leg press). No mention was made of the amount of weight Mike used on the leg extension, but his style was described as very strict, holding at the top of each rep for a couple of seconds, and on the last three reps he had a gym member press down hard on his ankles as he lowered the weight back down, to make the negative movement much harder ( I read an interview with Tom Platz in which Tom said he saw Mike training this way at Gold’s gym and tried it out on himself and his training partner. Tom concluded that using this technique turned up the intensity to a whole new level.). Unlike his training booklet which recommended going immediately to the leg press to take advantage of the ‘pre-exhaustion’ principle (Mike called it ‘pre-fatigue’), Mike rested for a couple of minutes before pounding out eleven rapid leg presses with seven hundred pounds. Not very heavy compared to today’s bodybuilders? Remember this was on a vertical leg press – much heavier weights can be handled on the inclined leg presses all gyms have now (I have talked to an equipment manufacturer who told me that, depending on the angle of incline, seven hundred on a vertical leg press could equal as much as twelve hundred on an incline leg press machine). Mike took his time between sets and about five minutes later he did one set on the Nautilus leg curl machine for seven reps, then used the whole stack on the calf raise machine, also done as you might be expecting by now, for one set. I vaguely recall the stack was marked as nine hundred pounds. By now half the people in the gym were listening to the guy talking about Mike’s training, and he went on to tell us about Mike’s chest workout. Standing between the pulleys in the cable crossover machine Mike performed two hard sets in a style essentially the same as Arnold used in Pumping Iron. Why two sets instead of one? Mike’s weak point was chest – his pecs were almost flat and it seems even he thought that a bit more work might help with that problem. Following the crossovers Mike did a set of incline presses and a set of dips with his elbows out wide and leaning forward as he descended. Finally Mike hit his triceps with one set of pushdowns, using a v-handle with his thumbs touching each other and allowing the handle to rise as high as his nose on each rep before pressing it down. All along the young guy telling us this, did not mention the weights Mike used except for the leg press, but the final exercise performed must have made a big impression on him as he mentioned the weight three times. It was triceps dips, elbows held in to the sides, and even after the pushdowns Mike strapped on a 125 pound dumbbell and managed seven reps! As if the timing had been planned, as the description of Mike’s training came to an end the gym owner came over and introduced Mike as “Mister Heavy Duty,” further adding that Mike was “a bodybuilder that uses scientific fact to guide his training, and has changed the face of bodybuilding training. Listen to what he says then try it out, you won’t regret it! ” I looked around the gym and saw we were all together, about fifteen guys and a couple of girls listening intently as Mike started talking. Mike assumed the air of a genial teacher helping novice pupils to understand their lessons, and I was relieved that the scowling, cutting foul-mouthed cynic who had amazed me the day before was not on display. Mike’s true calling was writing and teaching, his enjoyment of the seminar plain to see as he was in a relaxed and happy mood – even the occasional dumb question from his audience was met with patience and a look of amusement. Mike pointed at barbells and dumbbells and a couple of Nautilus machines and said “can anyone tell me what the difference is between these things when it comes down to training? I’ll tell you: The barbells are the Stone Age and the Nautilus machines are the now and the future of training. Your joints initiate movement by rotating around an axis or fulcrum point, and Nautilus machines with their odd-shaped cams provide a strength curve that matches these movements, allowing you a fuller range of motion and resistance at the point of complete contraction. This peak contraction is the only point in any movement where all the muscle fibers can be contracted, providing you use enough resistance of course. Do one set to failure then walk away. Train this way and you should make gains after every workout. Those bodybuilders who say you have to train for months on end to gain anything have got it all wrong! If you provide the right training stress then you should get stronger every workout until you reach your genetic potential. Think of it this way: If you sunbathe, too short a time in the sun will be insufficient to tan you. Too long in the sun will overwhelm your system and burn you. But time it right and you will tan and this will happen every time. Training is the same, in other words you apply a specific stress to your muscles and you get a specific response, and this response happens every time if you get the stress right – like getting a tan, you would not need to hope you will tan, or hope you won’t burn. If you apply the right time you will tan….every time! And if you apply the right stress to your muscles you will grow stronger and bigger after every workout guaranteed! ” Mike answered several questions from the audience as some of the guys seemed to find this a bit confusing. I was a bit confused myself as to why they were unsure of Mike’s explanation as it seemed quite clear to me. Mike changed course now as he said “I am due for a workout today, so how would you like to see a Heavy Duty workout in action? The only difference compared to training back home is that my brother trains with me there and knows exactly how much help to give me for forced reps, without him I will only go to positive failure.” Mike repeated the fact that he trained much harder at home several times during the workout he performed – did he think some of the audience would be disappointed by what they saw him do that day? Mike moved over to the Nautilus pullover machine, sat down on the seat and began adjusting the height of it relative to the position of the arm pads, explaining that the point of rotation needed to be in line with the shoulders to allow a full-range movement. Mike continued talking the whole time as he selected a weight about two-thirds of the way down the stack, sat back in the machine and buckled the waist belt to hold himself in, then pressed the foot pedal far enough to get his elbows and forearms on the pads. The weight stretched Mike as far back as he could reach when he released the pedal, then he began to perform rapid repetitions. Now for the first surprise: Mike tried to continue talking as he trained but came to a sudden stop after three reps and declared the weight was too heavy! Having read about Mike using the whole stack on most of these machines it was completely unexpected when he stopped, extricated himself from the machine and reduced the weight to half the stack. He started again and this time stopped talking after the fourth rep, going on to finish with nine reps. The other thing that I found surprising and at odds with his training articles at the time was his rep speed. In most of Mike’s writings which appeared in Weider’s Muscle Builder magazine he strongly emphasised holding the peak contraction in exercises that allowed it (and the Nautilus pullover did ), and he recommended momentum be kept out of exercise by performing reps slowly, and even slower on the eccentric phase (lowering the weight) – yet here was Mike doing his reps very fast and not holding the peak contraction at all. Who knows, maybe Mike was having an off day for training and just wanted to get through it. Whatever the truth may have been, I thought to myself "that guy describing Mike’s workout before the seminar started: Did he exaggerate what Mike did, or could he even have read about it in a magazine and pretended he had watched Mike train when he told us about it? ” There did not seem to be any reason why he would have made it up, so I concluded that either Mike was distracted by talking to us and could not really get into his exercises, or maybe it was simply the fact that he was relatively stronger in his legs and triceps than his upper back (his triceps certainly were incredibly impressive-looking). As Mike caught his breath he explained the virtues of the pullover done Nautilus-style: "You could do pullovers with a barbell or a dumbbell if necessary but they don’t come close to the Nautilus version because the effective range of motion, thanks to the offset-cam, is more than doubled on the machine, and pushing the pads with your elbows, not your forearms or hands, removes the weak link between the weight and you, enabling much more direct effort on your lats. The inventor of Nautilus, Arthur Jones, called this pullover ‘the upper-body squat,’ and he believed it would lead to bigger lats than had ever been seen before. I think Jones had a point there, but personally I think parallel-bar dips for pecs, delts and triceps are more worthy of the name ‘upper –body squat.” Mike wiped the sweat from his face, put his glasses back on and said “have you ever tried working out with a bunch of people watching you? You should try it sometime! ” This confirmed in my mind my opinion that maybe Mike found training in front of everyone a bit off-putting, leading to a reduction in his performance. “The purpose of the pullover is to pre-fatigue the lats, then we move onto another exercise which uses our biceps as well. Because our biceps don’t get hit by the pullover they are still fresh and can help drive our lats to total exhaustion when we perform a compound exercise such as lat pull-downs after the pullovers. Of course, to get the maximum effect we should go from the pullover to the pull-down with no rest, but, as I am explaining all of this to you all, I am taking time out between sets to talk, and I cannot do that if I train as fast and intensely as usual.” As Mike explained the above he put on a pair of wrist straps then put the pin in three different spots in the weight stack of the pull-down unit and tested the resistance. The pull-down unit was not a Nautilus pull-down (it seemed odd that the gym had some of the Nautilus range but not all of them, but back when this seminar took place it was the only gym within sixty miles of my home that had any Nautilus machines, so we were thankful for what we did have). Satisfied with the weight selected, Mike strapped on to the bar using a curl-grip, his hands closer than shoulder-width, then asked two guys from the audience to help him pull it down. Mike locked his legs under the roller pad and carried on alone, once again using rapid reps, although he did briefly hold the bar at his chest on each rep. Mike squeezed out seven reps then straightened up and unstrapped himself from the pull-down bar. As he turned toward us a couple of guys indicated they wanted to ask a question. Mike nodded and the first guy said “why don’t you use a wide grip? Arnold says you have to do wide-grip chins for wide lats.” The second guy chimed in with “yeah, and he says you need to do enough sets to get at least fifty reps in per workout, or it wouldn’t be enough to build your lats! ” I found this a bit amusing, as Mike had huge lats despite not following Arnold’s approach. For a second I thought Mike was going to get angry with these guys, but instead he chuckled and looked at them for a few seconds with a look on his face that I could only describe as his ‘forgive them for they know not what they say’ expression, then he replied: “Let’s look at this logically – see where the origins and insertions of your lats are? They attach to your upper arm and around your hip area. Now put your grip out wide and the distance between these two points is less but with a narrow grip see how the distance is greater? And a longer range of motion trains the lats more completely, so using a wide grip to get wider is just nonsense! Oh, before I forget to mention it, you should use a palms-up grip the same as you would use for barbell curls, because this puts your biceps in their strongest position to help your lats in the pull-down. Chins and pull-downs with your palms facing away from you don’t make sense because your biceps are in a weaker position. You can prove this by trying reverse curls – you will find that with that grip you cannot curl as much as with your palms up.” Mike had moved to the pulley row as he was explaining the above and he strapped on to the V-bar after putting the pin in the hole on the stack that was marked as 300 pounds. He pulled back and sat down, did two reps then released the weight and asked for the pin to be put in the 260 pound hole, then got back in position and rapidly performed nine reps of close-grip rows, the bar hitting Mike’s abs with a loud thunk on each rep – it sounded like someone banging on a door! Mike got back on his feet and said “that’s a great exercise, I love doing it! Okay, that’s back finished, let’s do deltoids next! ” We followed Mike across the gym to the Nautilus lateral raise machine – this was not the original double-shoulder machine that also had an overhead press on it, instead this machine was for side raises only. Going off at a tangent for a minute, I had not mentioned it in my first Mentzer article but after seeing Mike for the first time the day before the seminar I had trained in the gym and tried Nautilus laterals for the first time. Wow! Dumbbell lateral raises don’t come close to the isolation you feel on the medial heads of your deltoids. As I reached failure I was surprised to see Mike appear and assist me with two forced reps, after which he said “that was a good strict set! Don’t forget one like that is enough. What else are you planning to do? ” I replied “I was going to do presses but I don’t think I could do much after this set – what would you suggest? ” Mike nodded and said “you don’t need presses at all. The front delts get plenty of work when you train chest so forget presses and just do side and rear laterals instead.” I took his advice and did not do any pressing, but Mike had obviously changed his opinion of presses at some point because I had seen photos of Mike in the magazines doing Universal machine presses and smith machine presses. Back to the seminar! Mike explained to the audience that presses were unnecessary and threw me a compliment, saying “this guy talked about that yesterday with me, and he understands Heavy Duty well because I watched him train and he did things correctly. When I have gone you could always ask him if you are not sure of anything.” I thanked Mike while feeling a bit embarrassed by such a resounding endorsement, but my ego was certainly nourished that day! Mike put the pin in the 100 pound hole on the stack then did a set consisting of ten reps, each lateral raise going up fast as Mike pushed up and out with his forearms, his hands staying relaxed, and holding at the top for a second on each rep. Then, for a change of pace, Mike asked for volunteers to try the machine and took two guys through a set each, then he turned to rear deltoid training for which he was forced to use dumbbells. Bent over parallel with the floor Mike performed lateral raises with a pair of thirty pounders, his arms slightly bent and his thumbs pointing down for nine fast reps. Mike dropped the dumbbells and said “that’s it for deltoids! I know it seems very brief to most of you, but remember that when you train chest, back or arms your deltoids are also working, so doing a lot of direct work would overtrain them. Okay, to finish today I am gonna do a set of biceps! ” Visions of Mike barbell curling 200 pounds and preacher curling 150 pounds in the magazines came to mind, and I was eager to see what he could curl that day so was a little disappointed when he sat on a bench and did dumbbell concentration curls instead. Starting with his left arm he put his elbow against his leg and held the sixty pound dumbbell with his little finger against the inside weight plate, the other end of the dumbbell slanting downwards. Mike explained this put his palm in the preferred supine position allowing fuller contraction of his biceps, and then he proceeded to grind out eight very hard reps. Switching to his right hand, Mike struggled even harder with his reps and spotted himself in a most unusual way. Instead of holding his wrist with his other hand to help the weight up Mike made a fist with his left hand and punched upwards against his right hand a couple of times on each rep, driving the weight up in a way that I had never seen before (or since) until he had completed seven reps. Mike got his breath back and explained that punching his hand up made each rep possible but ensured all the weight stayed on his working arm, whereas holding his wrist to spot himself could lead to the assisting hand doing too much of the work and reducing the intensity – a very definite no-no in Mike’s book! Now Mike invited questions, and it struck me that he had not done any direct trapezius or lower back exercises which he always advocated in the magazines. I must admit I did not make a note of all the questions asked, but here is a brief list of the answers I do remember: Mike was asked what it was like to work for Arthur Jones, to which he explained he no longer did work for him. He stated that Jones was a “true genius, and the only person I have ever met who really understands productive training, but he is impossible to work for. He is not only a genius; he is also a very unpleasant, arrogant know-it-all. Bodybuilding owes him a debt of gratitude for advancing training technology into the twentieth century, but even so there’s no way I could work for him again.” Read my first Mentzer article where I mention Ellington Darden’s book which has a chapter about Mike and Ray Mentzer’s time working for Jones. Darden explains what really happened and some of the unpleasant events later on when Mike cracked up. Mike was asked to demonstrate dips as he had said they were ‘the upper body squat’ in his opinion, and we followed him over to the dip station, which had two sets of bars for both narrow-grip and wide-grip dips. Mike turned to us and said “the wide bars are unnecessary, why are they here? ” The gym owner explained that Vince Gironda (pictured below) recommended narrow bar dips for triceps and wide grips for pecs, and they took his advice. Mike had an expression of contempt on his face as he said “Gironda is just a crazy old hippie who does not know what he’s talking about. Elbow position is the key on dips – elbows out and forward leaning hits your pecs, and elbows back and close to your sides with an upright torso hits your triceps, so you don’t need the wide bars.” This answer satisfied the audience but left me feeling uncomfortable because I had worked on dips done the Gironda way, and there was no doubt in my mind that Gironda was right. His wide grip dips carved a line under my pecs and made them look much wider in a way that no other exercise did, and the position of your head, feet and body shape came into it as well. The gym owner called for us to pay attention to him then said “Mike is going to get ready and pose for you now, and I want two volunteers to work the lights and music for him.” Mike went over to the cable crossovers and proceeded to perform five sets of fifteen reps with light weights, trying to pump up his pecs. Amazingly, he did not do any other body part pumping before he went in the back and changed. The lights were dimmed and a huge silhouette quietly padded over to the posing spot, then the music started and I recognised a part of ‘the ring’ by Wagner, a very dramatic classical piece. Dimly I could see Mike raise his arms up and out, and then the lights came on! Mike was not tanned and not contest-cut but what a sight! With his arms straight out at shoulder-level he looked incredibly wide, massive shoulders and lats tapering into a small waist held in a vacuum pose. Mike’s posing routine lasted three minutes and was not a fast fancy-moves type of routine but slow, each pose being held for several seconds. I recalled Bill Pearl describing Mike’s physique as “looking like he could walk through a brick wall- I’m not saying whether he really could or not, but he looked like he could! ” I agreed with Bill’s assessment as Mike looked like Hercules reincarnated in every pose, and I could easily understand why Arnold was frightened by Mike when they had words at the 1980 Mr. Olympia contest. The lights went out, Mike went back to change, and I listened to some of the comments made by the audience after the lights came back on. Most of the remarks revolved around the size of Mike’s arms, everybody seemed amazed by them, including me. Mike reappeared in a Heavy Duty sweatshirt and stood by the reception desk, taking more questions from the crowd who were now wired up after witnessing his posing routine. The subject came around to nutrition and Mike set about contradicting nearly every bodybuilding convention I knew at the time. During his talk he mentioned bagels as his favourite breakfast but none of us had heard of them at the time (food choices were much more limited thirty years ago compared to today in the UK). I would have loved another chat with Mike but my time was up, I had forty miles to drive to get home and needed to be fresh for work the next day. Mike nodded in my direction as I indicated it was time for me to go, then went back to his audience who were hanging on his every word. I hoped to see Mike again but when I visited the gym a week later he had gone. So there you have it – an eye-witness account of a seminar with the intellectual of the bodybuilding world – MIKE MENTZER. By Magnus * Please note: This article is copyrighted and may not be used on another website! Readers do have permission to share this article (greatly appreciated ) across social media by clicking the "share" button link. * * Listen to this great Interview by John Hansen where Author John Little remembers Mike Mentzer... * Radio Interviews with Mike Mentzer... For more great info on Mike Mentzer check out http://www.mikementzer.com/
  2. In Conversation with Arthur Jones By Brian D. Johnston Arthur Jones is the most influential figure in exercise science, and has been for over twenty-five years. The magnitude of ridicule and concept stealing he has endured should attest to that fact. His discoveries and contributions have finally made it possible to prescribe meaningful exercise and rehabilitation to millions of people, potentially saving the health care system billions of dollars annually (if the scientific field decides to focus its mind and listen). Mr. Jones provided us some of his valuable time to answer questions about his background, discoveries and thoughts on the position of full muscular contraction. BDJ: Prior to becoming involved in exercise science, you led a very interesting and varied life. Provide our readers your background before the days of Nautilus. AJ: I was born in Arkansas prior to the start of the Great Depression but moved to Seminole, Oklahoma, in 1929. My father was a medical doctor who graduated from medical school in 1911 and then worked as a doctor in Panama while they were building the canal there. After we moved to Oklahoma my mother attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma and graduated in 1936. My only brother and one of my sisters attended medical school in Little Rock, Arkansas, and graduated shortly after the start of World War 2. Altogether, in my more or less direct family, I have had a total of fourteen relatives who were medical doctors. Having then had no interest in the study of medicine, and very little interest in formal education of any sort, I left home in my early teens and seldom went back except for brief visits. I spent several years traveling all over this country and major parts of Canada, Mexico and Central America, working at a long list of jobs of any kind that I could find; but, that being during the Great Depression, jobs were very hard to find and paid very little. In 1939, I started flying and have been flying ever since; having owned and flown just about everything that will get off the ground under its own power, from helicopters to heavy, four-engined, intercontinental jets. After the war, using surplus B-25 medium bombers, I operated an unscheduled airline hauling cargo from several countries in Latin America. Having been very interested in wild animals of almost any kind, I was in the "animal business" for quite a long time, importing everything from monkeys and snakes to African elephants; over a span of several years, I imported a greater variety, and far greater numbers, of animals than everybody else in the world combined, literally hundreds-of-thousands of monkeys, thousands of tons of snakes (we sold snakes by the pound) and millions of tropical fish. As recently as 1984, I imported 63 African elephants, hauling all of them from Africa to a landing strip on my farm north of Ocala, Florida, in one of my big jets. At that time I had by far the largest private collection of wild animals in the world, including more than 4,000 crocodilians (alligators, crocodiles, caiman and gavials), also including the largest crocodile ever seen since the days of the dinosaurs, an animal that would, and did, take food from our hands. Having also been interested in exercise since my early teens, and having soon discovered that lifting weights was by far the best form of exercise for my purpose, I exercised when and where I could find the time and the required equipment. All of the people who knew me in those days were very favorably impressed by the results of my exercise, but I was personally never satisfied, had the strong feeling that something was "wrong" and that my results would be even better of I could find out just what was wrong. So, in attempts to improve my exercise results, I designed and built a total of about twenty very sophisticated exercise machines, then believing that these were the first exercise machines ever built by anybody. But many years later, I learned that a doctor named Gustav Zander (pictured below) had designed and built a number of exercise machines in Europe nearly a hundred years before I built my first one; I did not copy Zander's work and learned nothing from him, was not even aware of his work until long after I had made the same discoveries that he had made. But if I had known about, and understood, Zander's work, it would have saved me a lot of time and a rather large fortune in money, because the man was a genius; his only problem was that he lived about a century ahead of his time, at a time when very few people cared about exercise and even fewer knew anything about it. That situation, at least, has changed: now we have millions of people who care about exercise and perhaps a couple of dozen who know anything about it. In 1956, while capturing hundreds of large adult crocodiles in Africa, something that nobody had ever done before and something that was generally considered to be impossible, I made a film of my activities, a film that I later sold to the then new ABC Television Network, a film that was first aired in 1957 as part of a television series called Bold Journey. As they say . . . "One thing then led to another," and I soon found myself in the business of producing films for television. Initially I produced films to be used in series being distributed by other people, but eventually I had my own series; within a period of about twenty years I produced a total of more than 300 films for television. Including all of the episodes of the series "Wild Cargo," "Capture," and "Professional Hunter," as well as films for other series. You must understand that it is not only possible, but highly desirable, to do several things simultaneously; thus, it happened that I was operating an international airline, importing thousands of live wild animals, producing films for television and building exercise machines all at the same time. In my opinion, many of our current problems are direct results of specialization; which is why the scientific community has now degenerated to the point of being a sick joke. When I first became seriously interested in the subject of exercise physiology, more than sixty years ago, I was unable to find anything of any slightest value that had ever been published in the scientific literature; that being the case, I believe, primarily as a result of two factors: ONE, very few scientists had any slightest interest in exercise, and, TWO, it was then impossible to determine the results of exercise for the simple reason that the required tools for any such measurements did not exist. REMEMBER: it is impossible to evaluate, or even understand, anything that you cannot measure. Then, about thirty years later, following the interest in aerobic exercises that resulted from the publications of Dr. Kenneth Cooper (books and articles that initially were ridiculed by most of the scientific community; ridiculed, I believe, because Cooper did not bother to consult with any of the then existing self-appointed "experts," nor did he submit his ideas for review by any of the supposedly scientific journals). Nevertheless, even without the approval of the scientific community in general, many of Cooper's ideas took firm root and flourished. Such eventual acceptance resulted, I also believe, because many scientists suddenly realized that there was a lot of money in them thar hills; or, as they say in the FBI, if you want to understand the motivation follow the money. Now, before somebody jumps to a wrong conclusion and assumes that I approve of either aerobic exercise or Kenneth Cooper, let me say that most aerobic-style exercises are worthless for any purpose, many of them are dangerous to the point of insanity and that Kenneth Cooper is a borderline idiot who knows less than nothing about productive exercise. Too strong, a rash statement? No, quite the contrary: in 1975, while I was conducting research at the U. S. Military Academy, West Point, Dr. Cooper sent two of his associates to West Point for the purpose of conducting an extensive battery of tests in order to evaluate the cardiovascular results of the exercises that our subjects were performing. But then, afterwards, Cooper was so surprised by the results that he not only refused to believe them but even refused to read them. We had, in fact, produced far better results in six weeks than Cooper could have produced in six years, or even six decades; results so outstanding, by Cooper's standards, that he considered them impossible. Even though, I repeat, these results were measured by Cooper's own people, using testing protocols determined by Cooper himself. Outstanding degrees of cardiovascular improvement that were produced by very brief, but very hard, exercise performed using Nautilus machines, with no so-called aerobic exercise of any kind. Potential results that were ignored by Cooper at the time and still remain ignored, even unsuspected, by the vast majority of scientists even today. BDJ: What thoughts do you have about exercise scientists and the research community in general? AJ: Once the scientists began to realize that they could get their greedy hands on more money, in the form of research grants, then the stampede started and thousands of people who previously had no slightest interest in exercise, and less than zero knowledge about it, started trying to get grants of money from anybody that had any and was foolish enough to give some of it to a bunch of outright quacks, supposedly scientific researchers who usually went to great lengths in their attempts to assure the party putting up the money that the results of their research would "prove" whatever it was that the guy supplying the money wanted. The inevitable result being, of course, a literal flood of supposedly scientific papers that fall into an area somewhere between stupid and criminal. Nevertheless, when any such outright bullshit gets published in a supposedly scientific journal, which it frequently does, it is then accepted as proven fact by almost all scientists and a large number of other idiots. While even a casual look around makes it obvious that very real improvements have been made in many fields during this century, it does not follow that many, if literally any, of these improvements have resulted from the efforts of scientists; in fact, almost without exception, the greatest improvements in almost all fields have resulted from people like Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Einstein, Tesla and a long list of others who not only were not scientists in any sense of the term but generally had little or nothing in the way of a formal education. In the field of exercise physiology, to the best of my knowledge, scientists have contributed literally nothing to our knowledge of the subject apart from dozens of utterly stupid theories and a few worthless and dangerous practices. BDJ: What discoveries did you make in exercise (i.e., internal muscular friction), and which are currently being ignored and which appear to be somewhat/generally accepted? AJ: Apart from the much earlier work performed nearly a hundred and fifty years ago in Europe by Dr. Gustav Zander, work that I was unaware of until long after I had discovered many of the same things that he did (things like the need for direct resistance, rotary-form resistance, variable resistance and balanced resistance) I have been unable to find any proof of any actually meaningful contributions to the field by anybody else. Again with the one exception of Dr. Zander, it does not appear that anybody ever even attempted to apply the simple laws of basic physics to the design of exercise equipment until I came on the scene. That being the case, I suspect, because nobody really understood muscular functions, and, secondly, because a lot of people were producing what appeared to be good results by using barbells and other pieces of then conventional equipment. Thus, to most people, it probably did not appear that a need for better exercise equipment even existed. When I first became seriously involved with exercise, more than sixty years ago, it did not take me long to learn that training with barbells was by far the best method for increasing strength and muscular size; and I learned this from personal experience and in spite of the fact that the vast majority of scientists were then convinced that barbell training was both worthless and dangerous; lifting weights, they said, would make you "muscle bound," slow, clumsy, ruin your heart, rupture you and make it impossible for you to perform well in any sport. Any muscles that you did develop, they believed, would be worthless for any purpose and would quickly turn to fat if you stopped training. And, to this very day, many people still firmly believe some or all of those utterly stupid superstitions. "But surely," you might say, "the scientists now know everything that there is to know about exercise, right?" Wrong; the number of scientists who know literally anything of value about exercise are equal to the number of thumbs on your left ear. Zilch, nada, izeko (which is Zulu), or as the British say, sweet fuck all. If you are seriously interested in exercise then forget the scientists, they can tell you nothing of any slightest value. If you ever do manage to learn anything of value about exercise you will do so in the only way possible, by the application of a bit of common sense and from personal experience; learning from trial and error. If it appears to work, do it, but if it fails to produce almost instant results then try something else. Which is exactly how I learned what I know about exercise, none of which I learned from anybody else; what I did learn from other people was that their ideas were utterly stupid. As it happens, I was also the first, and still one of the very few, people who understand the significance of muscular friction; without which clear understanding it remains impossible to understand much if literally anything about muscular function. And, as it happens, I was also the first, and still the only, person who ever produced tools capable of meaningful measurements of any human functional ability: MedX medical machines, developed by me, can accurately measure muscular strength, muscular endurance, and ranges of joint movement, and no other tool that ever existed can measure any of these things. Along the way I also discovered the existence of and the unavoidable results of stored energy; another factor that must be understood in order to evaluate human functional abilities, but yet another factor still being ignored by the scientific community. Insofar as just how many people, or what percentage of people who have an interest in exercise, are even aware of any of the above-listed factors is concerned, I do not even have an opinion; but I strongly suspect that it is damned few. And if I based my opinion on what I have read in various muscle magazines and supposedly scientific journals, then I would have to say NOBODY. In fact, when any of these factors are even mentioned, any such mention usually consists of an attempt to ridicule either my ideas, or me and I have yet to read literally anything that indicated that the author even understood any of these factors. The one exception to this being Ken Hutchins (pictured below), who, when he mentions me, as he does in practically everything he publishes, and when he is not attempting to ridicule me, devotes most of his statements to outright lies giving himself full credit for some of my discoveries. BDJ: Since we're on the topic of Ken Hutchins, there seems to be great confusion about his and your relationship. Provide us the background of Ken's work history with Nautilus and MedX (he supposedly suggested the counterweight mechanism on the MedX machines), and approximately the number of hours you spent in his presence. Considering the various quotes Hutchins provides in his newsletters and website, it would seem that he spent several hours for several months in your company. AJ: Regarding Hutchins, and with no attempt on my part to answer your questions in any particular order, I will only add that Hutchins appears, to me, to be a pathological liar; having known him for at least fifteen years, I have not, in fact, ever associated with him, and he has never been even indirectly involved with any of my work. During the years that I operated Nautilus, insofar as I am aware, he never even visited our prototype shops, and he certainly was not involved in the development of any Nautilus equipment. Quite a few people have been involved in the development of MedX equipment, but Hutchins was not one of them. Again, as far as I am aware, Hutchins has never even visited the MedX prototype shops, and we certainly never learned anything from him or used any of his ideas. BDJ: I don't believe you have received the recognition and respect you deserve regarding your work in exercise and rehabilitation (Arthur definitely should have won the Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine with his contribution of the MedX Low Back Extension machine). Obviously you have come up against much opposition and frustration. AJ: A long list of people all over the world have followed a pattern that seems to be stamped into the genes of many people: IGNORE, RIDICULE, ATTACK, COPY, STEAL. Upon becoming aware of my work they initially ignore it, hoping, I guess, that it will go away; then, when it does not go away, they try to kill it by ridicule; next they attack both me and my ideas as insane and dangerous; and, eventually, they attempt to copy my work; then, finally, they suddenly remember that all of my ideas actually originated with them. It has been said that…"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Perhaps, if the people doing the imitating are honest enough to admit that they are copying your work, which they seldom do. Arrogant as the following statement will unavoidably sound, it nevertheless remains true . . . "In the history of the world, only three people have made meaningful contributions to the development of exercise equipment: FIRST, whoever invented the barbell, SECOND, Dr. Gustav Zander, THIRD, me and a short list of people working under my direct supervision." Quite a long list of people have simply attempted to copy my work, usually with no real understanding of it, while a few others have taken firm steps in the wrong direction by developing equipment that was either worthless or dangerous, or both. BDJ: Although I'm not an expert in strength curves, it has been suggested that the Nautilus curve is more true or exact than that of MedX - that the MedX cam was altered so as to have less friction, yet provides less tension at the most contracted/top position. Can you address this issue? AJ: Nautilus strength curves were developed at a time when it remained impossible to measure muscular strength and were based upon my educated guesses, while MedX strength curves are based upon presently existing firm knowledge of what normal strength curves actually are and upon our knowledge of what they are capable of becoming. This knowledge is unique and resulted from more than twenty years of continuous research coupled with the expenditure of more than $100,000,000.00 of my own money, together with the use of the only equipment capable of measuring muscular strength, MedX equipment. BDJ: Do you believe you would be more content now if you followed a different path, and what would that path have been? AJ: I cannot change the past and thus do not worry about it, and I learned long ago that any attempt to anticipate the future is an exercise in futility at best, so I don't worry about that either. The only thing that I can say with any real confidence is that things will get a lot worse than they now are, hard as that may be to imagine. Once the government and its "experts" get their hands on the reins of power, as they now have, you can be damned sure that anything of value that now exists will soon be destroyed. Read your history and then don't be surprised when you see it repeating itself. BDJ: Finally, Andrew Baye of the Super Slow Exercise Guild wrote an article that was posted on various websites entitled, "Isometrics, Time Contractions....". In it there is a subsection entitled, "The Myth of the Position of Full Muscular Contraction." Do you wish to comment (I provided Arthur a copy of the passage, which covered the following points: 1. It is incorrect that the position of full muscular contraction stimulates or contracts all the fibers in a particular muscle; 2. One can never simultaneously contract all the fibers in a given muscle regardless of position; 3. A maximal contraction refers to recruiting all of the motor units or groups of muscle fibers one is capable of; 4. Maximal fiber recruitment is not dependent on maximal muscle shortening; 5. A muscle can contract with the same amount of force mid-range as it can when fully contracted; 6. Although force may differ in those two positions, the actual force of muscular contraction - and fiber recruitment - would be the same.) AJ: Here's my response to yet another in a seemingly endless list of stupid statements. If, as this idiot would have you believe, both the number of involved fibers and the resulting force of contraction are the same regardless of the relative positions of the involved body parts, then I can only suggest that he is either unaware of or fails to understand a few very simple principles of basic physics. And, if his utterly stupid theory is valid, then why not exercise all muscles only in their fully-extended position? Why bother to move at all? As I have pointed out repeatedly in the past, it is impossible to understand anything that you cannot measure; and thus it unavoidably follows that you cannot determine the results of any action until you can accurately measure any such results. And, since it is simply impossible to measure the actual force of contraction produced by any muscular function, and also impossible to measure (count) the number of muscular fibers that are involved, it also follows that this man's stated opinions are based purely upon outright speculation, with absolutely nothing in the way of supporting evidence. Without a single exception, up until about eleven years ago all of the many hundreds of theories that have been published in supposedly scientific journals during the last couple of hundred years on the subject of muscular function have been nothing short of outright bullshit; because every single one of the authors of these papers were speculating about things that they could not measure and thus did not understand. Which is why, I suppose, that so many of these self-appointed "experts" were so quick to jump on the bandwagon of Isokinetics as propounded by Cybex; failing to note that a Cybex machine is incapable of measuring anything, and also failing to note that Isokinetics, as a style of exercise, is very dangerous and almost worthless for any purpose. As of about eleven years ago, then already having devoted about twenty years of continuous research and development efforts, together with an expenditure of more than $40,000,000.00 of my own money, to attempts to develop tools that could accurately measure human functional abilities, strength, muscular endurance and ranges of joint movement, we eventually developed the first, and still the only, tools capable of providing the desired functions. Now, eleven years and another $60,000,000.00 later, we now have the first, and still the only, meaningful data related to human functional abilities. While even we cannot measure the results of muscular functions in all of our muscles, we can measure these results in all of the most critical muscles in the body, the muscles of the lower back, the neck and the knee. And just what, if anything, does all of this data from literally hundreds of thousands of subjects tell us about the importance of training performed in a position of full muscular contraction? It tells us very clearly that the results of exercise are influenced to a very great degree by the position of the involved body parts, and that truly "full range" results can be produced only by full-range exercise. It is even possible, as we have clearly demonstrated with literally hundreds of test subjects, to lose strength in one part of a range of motion while gaining strength in another position when the subject uses only limited-range exercise. More than forty years ago, when I was training only with barbells and other conventional exercise equipment, I could never manage to "pump" my upper arms by more than a half of an inch; but, years later, using only one set of an exercise for my triceps muscles performed in the position of full muscular contraction of the triceps, I was able to pump my upper arms by as much as one and one-quarter inches, with no biceps exercise of any kind. Secondly, since no conventional exercise for the biceps muscles provides any resistance at all in the fully-contracted position of these muscles, we were not surprised to discover that every single one of the advanced bodybuilders that we tested proved to be very weak in the fully-contracted position, regardless of how strong they might be in other positions. With the use of highly sophisticated CADCAM (Computer-aided design) equipment, it is possible to measure the actual degree of contraction that occurs in a muscle as movement of the related body parts is happening. A careful look at what occurs with the muscles that bend your lower arm around the axis of the elbow produced the following somewhat surprising results: during the first 90 degrees of rotational movement around the elbow axis, starting with a straight arm and ending with the arm bent 90 degrees, we found that the muscles contracted (reduced their length) about nine times as much in one position as they did in another position. Simultaneously, the "angle of pull" of the muscles changed to such a degree that the effectiveness of the force of contraction increased by several hundred percent. In effect, in one position the force was almost entirely wasted since it was pulling in a "wrong" direction, while in another position none of the force was wasted. Thus you have two critical factors that influence the resulting output of torque produced by the force of muscular contraction. In most human movements, however, force produced by several different muscles is involved in the movement, and it is then simply impossible to determine just what each of the involved muscles was doing. In spite of the many articles published on the subject in recent years, EMG measurements tell us something less than nothing. Nearly thirty years ago, we produced EMG readings by manipulating the body parts of a dead man, which gives me good reason to believe that his muscles were not contracting. That being the case, then just what were we measuring? Friction. But, then, the self-proclaimed "experts" in this field are not even aware that friction occurs in muscles, this being true in spite of the fact that the existence of friction in muscles can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of a retarded goat. So I will add only this: until and unless you clearly understand the effects of friction in muscular functions, it will be impossible for you to understand literally anything about muscles. This article was reprinted from sites www.ExerciseCertification.com and www.PrescribedExercise.com. Check these great links out on Arthur Jones.
  3. 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
  4. Casey Viator - 1971 Training Routine - 3 Days a Week By Achilles Kallos Nineteen year old Casey Viator from New Iberia, La. is the youngest bodybuilder to have won the Mr. America title. He started training when he was fifteen, which, in my opinion, is the right time to start bodybuilding. Casey has been fortunate in many ways, having a good physical background, sound training advice and a superb genetic potential. At the same time, however, he is an exceptionally hard trainer, in spite of the fact that he works long hours at his job as a welder. Two former Mr. Americas have guided him: Boyer Coe and Red Lerille. For the past year Casey has been training under the watchful eye of Art Jones of Deland, Florida. As you may know, Art Jones invented the Nautilus machine. This machine enables you to train your body harder in less time with outstanding results. According to Jones, Casey is one of the strongest men he has ever trained and no one yet has been able to exceed the poundages he uses on the Nautilus machine. Although Casey has not really bothered to exert himself with maximum poundages as he prefers to train for bodybuilding, he has done the following: Bench Press: 460 lbs. Full Squat: 505 x 14 reps. Press Behind Neck: 280 lbs. Barbell Curl: 225 x 4 reps. Casey trains three times a week, working the whole body in one workout lasting about 2 to 2½ hours. He employs the Nautilus machine mainly for the arms and lats and conventional barbell and dumbbell movements for the rest of the body. When he trains on the conventional exercises he does some of them one after the other without much rest. That is why he is able to train his whole body thoroughly and in such a short time. Here is Casey’s three day a week routine: Legs (conventional method) 1. Leg Press - 750 lbs. x 20 reps. 2. Leg Extension - 250 lbs. x 14 to 20 reps. 3. Full Squat - 505 lbs x 14-20. 4. Leg Curl - 150 lbs x 14-20. These exercises are done one after the other without the usual rest associated with such large poundages. I would like to see anyone else duplicate this. NOTE BY STRENGTH-OLDSCHOOL: The style of Leg Press machine that Casey was using was different and much harder compared to the angled Leg Press machines of today. Lats (Nautilus machine) 1. Pullover - 3 sets of 20 reps. 2. Circular Pulldown - 3 sets of 20. 3. Chins - 3 x 20. Each exercise is done in the normal set fashion. Deltoids (conventional and Nautilus) 1. Standing Laterals - 60 lbs. x 3 sets of 20 reps. 2. Barbell Press Behind Neck - 215 lbs. x 3 sets of 20 reps. 3. Nautilus Lateral Raise - 3 x 20. You will note that two movements are done with barbell and dumbbells and one on the Nautilus. 4. Barbell Shrug - 280 lbs. 3 x 20. Chest (conventional) 1. Barbell Bench Press - 350 lbs. 2 x 20. 2. Incline Barbell Press - 225 lbs. 3 x 20. 3. Dips - 100 lbs. 3 x 20. 4. Cable Crossover - 40 lbs. 3 x 20. Arms (Nautilus) 1. Conventional Barbell Curl - 200 lbs. 1 x 20. 2. Combination Triceps and Biceps exercise - 120 lbs. 1 x 20. 3. Triceps Extension (similar to pulley pushdown) - 110 lbs. 1 x 20. 4. Compound Triceps movement - 1 x 20. Calves (conventional) 1. One Legged Calf Raise - 85 lb. dumbell 4 x 50. Forearms (conventional) 1. Barbell Wrist Curl - 145 lbs. 2 x 20. Deadlift 400 lbs. 1 set of 30 reps. Many of us think we are training hard, but after looking at Casey’s routine we might have to review our definition of hard work! You will note he employs high reps. Obviously this involves a lot of concentration as well. To read a 1980 Interview with Casey Viator click here.
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