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  1. Before Sergio transformed into 'The Myth' he was an Olympic Weightlifter who built his physique with heavy ass weights! Although, without permission, he did bodybuilding on the side.

    © Strength-Oldschool.com

  2. Frank Marchante was a close friend of Sergio. He also wrote and helped Sergio produce his book.

    © Strength-Oldschool.com

  3. Excuse the Weider bullsh*t at the bottom of the photo. Sergio didn't build his physique through "Weider Training Principles". To get an idea of how Sergio trained read this article.

    © Strength-Oldschool.com

  4. Long gone are the days of the "classic" bodybuilding look - Wide shoulders, big arms, tiny waist, athletic legs, oozing health and vitality. Serge Nubret and Arnold (pictured above) was a prime example of this. The classic, flowing lines have vanished and sadly, possibly never to be seen again. From the mid '90's onwards, the sport of bodybuilding took a dive and plunged into a state of mass, belly freaks! Blame the drugs, the judges, the bodybuilders themselves, whomever...bodybuilding unfortunately became and has become a freak show for the wrong reasons. No wonder it's not an Olympic sport because one look at today's crop of top Mr Olympia competitors is a major turn off for the general public. Who wants to look like a 300+ lb ripped AND bloated gorilla!!? Watch the following video before proceeding to read the rest of the article... EUGEN SANDOW (1867 - 1925) Eugen Sandow, the "father of modern bodybuilding" began it all. He was the first true bodybuilder so to speak to earn a living from performing strength acts and posing displays. He paved the way for others to follow but would unfortunately turn over in his grave if he could see the state of current bodybuilding. Sandow displayed an amazing rock-hard physique which to this day still shocks people because NO protein supplements of any kind were invented back in those days, and more importantly.... NO DRUGS! Eugen Sandow developed his body by natural means (consistent hard training and diet ) with the help of good genetics of course. His physique exuded an incredible amount of muscle - wide shoulders, big arms, abs with a tight waist and athletic, muscular, strong legs. From head to toe, he was covered in muscle and his appearance was down to hard training and diet only.... No drugs of any kind. To see a list of amazing old-time 100% "natural" physiques watch the video below: Bodybuilding has obviously progressed over the years. I'm not going to go through each and every bodybuilder but I will choose a small, select few to prove my point that bodybuilding since the mid 1990's has horribly gone down hill. Melvin Wells (1919 to 1994), was a bodybuilder with outstanding genetics. That picture above was taken around the late 1940's, maybe 1949 and you can clearly see he had the "Sandow" mold - wide shoulders, big arms, decent chest, tight midsection and athletic muscular legs. A bit light on the calves (not blessed genetically in that dept. ), but overall, a pleasing, aesthetic physique which anybody today who enjoys training with weights would love to have. Melvin's physique is the type of body that the general public could strive to achieve. They would believe that a physique like Melvin's could actually be attainable without resorting to drugs. Let's jump from the 1940's to the 1970's now and take a look at the development of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Back in Arnold's prime bodybuilding days ('60's through to the '70's), he trained for mass and was huge at 6ft 2". He was one of the biggest bodybuilders around. He still maintained an incredibly tight waist at a bodyweight that fluctuated between 225 and 250 lbs. Arnold is considered the 'King' of all bodybuilders as he developed a physique which to this day has not been equaled. (This statement is obviously debatable). But in my opinion, Arnold had it all. He managed to build a body which carried mass with aesthetic appeal. Steroids however did play an important part in helping Arnold attain such development unlike Eugen Sandow, who built his body naturally. Steroids have played an important part in helping bodybuilders attain extraordinary levels of physique development. The following information on steroids, you, the reader, should find extremely interesting.... Anabolic Steroids were developed in the late 1930's. They helped stimulate appetite and increased lean, muscular bodyweight and strength gains. Throughout the 1940's it was common for Russian Olympic Weightlifters to be placed on steroid programs in order to get stronger and recover faster. In 1958, the drug Dianabol was developed and approved by the FDA for human use thanks to the U.S. Olympic Team physician, Dr. John Ziegler (1920 - 1987) (Photo below ). This opened the doors for US athletes to take advantage of what the Russian's used. Dianabol may have been approved in 1958 but steroid use was still rampant in the 40's through to the 50's in the sport of weightlifting and possibly bodybuilding. By the 1960's it was common place for weightlifters and bodybuilders to be taking steroids. In Germany perhaps more so than any other country, anabolic steroid research and development was at its peak. So from reading the information on Steroids above, we could assume that bodybuilders from the 1940's, such as Steve Reeves could have possibly taken steroids? Regardless of whether or not certain bodybuilders from the 1940's onwards may have taken steroids, doesn't matter. This article is not about which bodybuilders took steroids, it's not about comparing natural bodybuilders with drug induced athletes, this article is about opening readers eyes to the fact that bodybuilding physiques today are much worse compared to the old school bodybuilders of yesterday. And yes, drugs are a serious concern. I'm clearly not an expert in the drug field, having been "natural" all my life (guilty of consuming Creatine and Protein Supps from time to time), but I think it's safe to say the drug use in the 1940s / 1950s would have been very little compared to present times. You just have to observe bodybuilders physiques through history to see that. Here are some reasons which have possibly led to the serious decline of Modern Bodybuilding and why it needs to change… 1. POSING Stupid Posing with arms flared out and extreme bending of the legs when hitting a side chest shot. Posing in general is just bad. The photo above displays bodybuilder Melvin Wells taken late 1940's and Ronnie Coleman from the late 1990's, maybe even early 2000's. Regardless of physique, which bodybuilder's front relaxed pose in your opinion looks better? Personally, I think Ronnie Coleman's arms out wide, ready for take off pose simply looks comical! Let's take a look at the classic Side Chest pose in bodybuilding and compare Arnold from back in 1974 to one of the current top bodybuilders, Kai Greene (although not competing anymore). Regardless of physique, which pose in your opinion looks better? Personally, Arnold's pose looks so much more aesthetic and professional than Kai's version. Kai's pose shouldn't even be called a 'side chest' because his chest is slumped down whereas Arnold's rides high into the sky. But Kai's posing style seems to be common among today's crop of bodybuilders. Bodybuilder's today could learn a lot from observing how classic bodybuilders back in the day posed. For side chest posing, you will NEVER beat Arnold! 2. FAKE TANIt’s hard to tell which bodybuilders are black and which are white? (not a racist remark just merely an observation due to the heavy use of fake tan). I would assume that fake tan was introduced for health reasons (potential skin cancer from too much sun rays) as bodybuilders in Arnold's day and even going back to the 1950's muscle beach days, trained and soaked up the warm sunshine. Another reason could be because of poor lighting at bodybuilding contests being too harsh and bright and thus washing out all the definition amongst competitors. Whatever the reason, in my opinion, the fake tan needs to either drastically improve or simply go. I much preferred the look of bodybuilders naturally created skin tones from basking in the sun, from back in the day, as it looked so much better on stage compared to now. 3. CONTEST LIGHTING Extremely bad – Is this why bodybuilders need such dark tans? This was discussed previously within point no. 2. 4. THONG ATTIRE Who the hell brought thongs into male bodybuilding contests? I'm not interested in seeing ripped glutes and couldn't care less whether or not a bodybuilder had striated bum cheeks!! The only person I want to see wear a thong is a sexy woman. The thongs need to be scrapped and have the Arnold style briefs brought back. But that's just my opinion. 5. MASSIVE GUTS! Most modern bodybuilders simply can’t do vacuum poses or even just hold in their stomachs. Maybe this is to do with today’s drugs and HGH use, I don’t honestly know. Back in the old days, you would never catch a bodybuilder with a protruding gut, even in the off season. Besides the drugs, I'm sure it also comes down to the lack of posing practice. Posing just isn't as valued in this day and age as it was back in the pre-90's. So now you have all the giant competitors at the Mr Olympia raising their hands in the air, walking about the stage with their guts hanging over their skimpy thongs. What ever happened to the good old Vacuum pose during posing? 6. RIPPED GLUTES When did we start judging physiques on how ripped a bodybuilders glutes are? I've also discussed this on point no.4. 7. MASS... MASS... MASS Modern Bodybuilders play the size game and leave aesthetics out – Arnold and Sergio had plenty of mass but also had aesthetics. Even while piling on the beef, they still managed to keep their waists under control. Today it's all about who is biggest regardless of whether the bodybuilder has a massive protruding gut! Are judging standards to blame or is it the bodybuilders? Let's take a look at Ronnie Coleman who has won the Mr Olympia 8 times equaling Lee Haney's record. Ronnie in his early days of competing had a tremendous, old school physique. He was simply unbelievable! In his early years of entering and winning the Mr Olympia he looked fantastic but within two to three years he began seeking mass and became one of the biggest bodybuilders ever. However, the price of attaining such mass meant he lost his old school aesthetics i.e. tiny waist. Instead he gained a massive, bloated looking belly which was obviously due to the consistently high level of abusive concoction of drugs he was taking to attain such freakish, cartoon proportions. It has since been reported that Ronnie Coleman's drastic body transformation was obtained with the help of guru Chad Nicholls. To see the change in Ronnie's physique from the early days to the present watch the video below: Now granted back in Arnold's day and perhaps from the 1940's onwards, drugs were part of the sport of bodybuilding but nowhere near the level that today's crop of bodybuilders take. Modern bodybuilding has therefore in my opinion become grotesque and drastically needs to change. I am sure that I am not the only one who has become disgusted with some of the top world level physiques who actually manage to qualify and enter the "supposedly" biggest bodybuilding contest of the year, the Mr Olympia. Today's physiques look unhealthy, unattainable and non-aesthetic. If we go back to the early 1900's right up to 1980's / very early 90's physiques, bodybuilders such as Lee Haney, Kevin Levrone (photo below) etc all had mass with class, they were aesthetically pleasing and looked healthy. There were obviously exceptions with some 90's bodybuilders...such as Jean-Pierre Fux... In certain photos Jean-Pierre Fux could look really good... And then you see this... Sadly the above photo including previous photos of Phil Heath and Ronnie Coleman clearly illustrates what bodybuilding has become. Anyone remember the famous squat incident of Jean-Pierre Fux that resulted from a Flex photoshoot? Jean-Pierre talked about this incident with Dave Palumbo on RX Muscle... Even old school bodybuilding legend, Lou Ferrigno, looked terrible for his comeback in later years... The sport of bodybuilding today seems to be "Drugs First" followed by training. Too often now, competitors at the "Mr Olympia" compete with a glaring weakness(s) and just simply do not look complete or worse - they look awful and out of place. My first impressions of certain competitors have been..."That guy should compete in powerlifting instead of bodybuilding! ". The reason I say that is because they clearly don't have the genetics to be a top level bodybuilder, even though some people will argue "well... they must be good if they are able to compete at the Mr Olympia!! ". Not in my opinion. The fault lies, I believe, behind the scenes with organisations allowing so many bodybuilders to easily gain Pro cards and compete in the bigger, professional contests. Contest organizers these days allow too many competitors to enter the Mr Olympia. It should only be the BEST that compete at the Olympia. In the 1970's, only the best bodybuilders, top 5 I believe, competed at the final night show whereas now, its completely different. Strength Legend Larry Wheels (photo below) is a prime example of someone with an outstanding physique but has a glaring genetic weakness. His calves ain't going to win him a Mr Olympia trophy and if it does, what does that tell you about the Mr Olympia "Judging" standard? Larry in my opinion should focus on setting records in the strength world and forget about bodybuilding contests. He's getting into serious Arm Wrestling now which is good to see. One of the sad things about bodybuilding over the last 30 years or so is that competitors have resorted to either cosmetic enhancements or injecting oil into a bodypart to increase the size of a lagging muscle. Its shocking and ridiculous and incredibly sad that a bodybuilder would do such a thing to simply win a trophy. Lou Ferrigno became famous for getting calf implants and was still allowed to compete! And people are surprised that bodybuilding isn't an Olympic sport!? Crazy. Throughout the years on several occasions, bodybuilders have been awarded 1st place at the Mr Olympia contest when clearly they should NOT have won. Six times Mr Olympia winner, Dorian Yates springs to mind. He was one of the first high level bodybuilders to abuse the MASS GAME and take the sport in a new direction. Dorian in his early days had a very good physique. However, from 1993 onwards, he began pushing the limits and got much bigger. Unfortunately so did his waist! Throw in some badly torn muscles and he was lucky to have won six Mr Olympias. Dorian Yates talked to Joe Rogan a while back regarding his drug use and thoughts on why bodybuilders mid-sections have gotten out of control. The pursuit of size at all costs has led a lot of Bodybuilders in the last 20+ years to simply become a series of unattractive lumps and bumps. Old school bodybuilders such as Arnold and Sergio were HUGE but still carried serious mass with nice flowing aesthetic lines. If you were to create a silhouette effect of a typical bodybuilder from today, guaranteed they would look blocky in comparison to the likes of Sergio Oliva. This Superman cartoon makes me laugh because it resembles modern bodybuilding to a T! Today every bodybuilder looks the same. They all appear blocky with the wide waists and over developed massive thighs. Judging standards should be changed to help bring back vacuum shots and great abs again. Ralf Moeller had one of the best ab shots ever. His physique was underrated in my opinion. The picture below is a famous silhouette of a massive bodybuilder from the '90's. Can you identify him? With the introduction of "Classic Physique" bodybuilders competing within that class definitely have impressive physiques which rival the "Open" Mr Olympia competition, in my opinion. One fitness social media icon with an impressive physique and superb upper body development is Simeon Panda. His upper body represents what Open bodybuilding should be about. Bodybuilding legend, Brian Buchanan, probably had one of the smallest waists in Open bodybuilding history. His V-Taper was incredible and made for a dramatic audience shock when he performed the front double biceps pose with a vacuum. Melvin Wells nodoubt built his impressive physique naturally. Both men were muscular, strong and oozed aesthetic appeal - They both had impressive V-Tapers which is sadly what bodybuilding today is missing. The two photos of Sergio Oliva below are from the 1960's. Simply incredible. So which are you (the reader of this article) - Old School Bodybuilding Fan or Modern Bodybuilding Fan? The recent 2020 Open winner of the Mr Olympia contest was Mamdouh Elssbiay (Big Ramy). What do you think of his physique and how does he compare to previous winners of the Mr Olympia? I made the following video on Big Ramy back in 2015... Do you think Big Ramy will dominate the Olympia for the next several years? Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I'm always interested to hear what other people think about the sport of bodybuilding, so if you have any thoughts or opinions, please post your comments below. Thank you. I'll leave you with the following images.... The state of Modern Bodybuilding... Is Modern Bodybuilding healthy? Is it worth killing yourself for a Mr Olympia title? Keep training hard and remember... Keep it Old School! Strength Oldschool * Please note: Text article content 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. *
  5. * This article by Strength Oldschool was initially written on Dec 3, 2016. It has now been updated as of 8 March 2021. * Please watch the video first before reading the article - The video only goes up to 2016 and does not contain footage of later Mr Olympia winners. In these modern times the ‘Mr Olympia’ is considered the KING of ALL bodybuilding contests. Who ever wins the Mr Olympia is simply known as the best bodybuilder on the planet. It’s a title that every single heavyweight competitive bodybuilder hopes to win. Before the Mr Olympia contest was created, bodybuilders back in the early days entered the ‘Mr America’ and ‘Mr Universe’ contests which were highly respected. If a bodybuilder won those contests you were considered the best. However in 1965, Joe Weider decided to create a contest that would bring together Mr America and Mr Universe winners to determine the greatest bodybuilder in the world. That contest became known as the Mr Olympia and to date, there have been only 16 winners. When it comes to ‘How to Judge a Physique’, everyone is different. But you need to ask yourself what are you looking for when it comes to an Olympian Physique. In my opinion, I’m looking for mass with aesthetic appeal i.e. Broad Shoulders, V-Taper, Tiny Waist, Big Arms, Medium to larg-ish legs (not too big), Big Chest & Back and no glaring weaknesses. If a lifter has an extremely poor body part, i.e. their calves…they do NOT deserve to be awarded the title of Mr Olympia. Everything needs to be in proportion. I have included a list of all the winners below – have a read and see if you agree with my own thoughts. Please respond back with any comments you have. Thank you. 1. Larry Scott Larry Scott (12 Oct. 1938 - 8 March 2014) won the contest twice (1965 & 1966). Tremendous physique. Arms and shoulders were out of this world and would even do damage still in today's contests. Larry was the first ever winner of the Mr Olympia contest. He unfortunately passed away back in 2014 but right up till his death, he continued to train and maintain a fantastic physique and still had incredible arms. He was genetically blessed with god given muscle insertions. His only real weakness was his clavicle length which he managed to overcome by developing one of the greatest shoulders in history. Superb at posing, he created many distinct artful poses. He carried mass with class as he developed and maintained an aesthetic physique. Larry Scott at 70 years old training... 2. Sergio ‘The Myth’ Oliva Sergio Oliva (4 July 1941 - 12 Nov. 2012) was known as "The Myth" for good reason – He was scary big with full, long muscle bellies all over. He had no weak points. It’s common for black bodybuilders to have poor calf development but Sergio’s calves were huge, taped at 20″!! Sergio won the Mr Olympia three times (1967, 1968 & 1969). It could be argued that he deserved to win a lot more times given his god given physique. Personally I think he could have easily won the contest another two times i.e. 1970 and possibly 1972 in my opinion. Maybe 1971 as well but not sure as Arnold looked massive in ’71. Sergio was definitely robbed of his prime bodybuilding days by Joe Weider as Joe banned him from competing at the 1971 Mr Olympia and then again in 1973 onwards! The battles that Arnold and Sergio could have had would have been tremendous. Sergio began as a weightlifter in Cuba but soon went AWOL to become a bodybuilder in Chicago. His proportions were out of this world with arms bigger than his head!! He oozed perfection and combined HUGE MASS with AESTHETICS. His forearms were bigger than most people’s legs! Larry Scott retired after winning the Mr Olympia in 1966 after seeing the rise of Sergio – Sergio was that good. He was incredibly wide, massive arms, huge chest and back, gigantic thighs but had the most tiny waist ever for a man of his proportions. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has stated that Sergio Oliva had the better physique. Sergio in my opinion will go down as the Top Two Greatest Bodybuilders Ever! Check out these fantastic videos on the legend... Sergio also had to battle serious injuries throughout his life from a bad tricep tear to being shot! Check out this footage... Check out the following article links on Sergio Oliva: 2001 Interview with Sergio Oliva By Brian D. Johnston How Sergio Oliva and Victor Richards Built Their Physiques by Jeff Everson Biscuit Oliva - Baki the Grappler - Based on Bodybuilder Sergio Oliva 3. Arnold Schwarzenegger Arnold Schwarzenegger (30 July 1947 - Present), even from a young age, was simply destined to become one of the greatest bodybuilders ever. He was blessed with the right genetics for bodybuilding, especially in the arms and chest department. Some people will argue that he was top heavy and had no legs or calves but in my opinion that’s bulls**t! In his early days his calves were relatively poor but he later changed that by training them harder. His calves improved so much that some bodybuilders believed he got implants!! Utter nonsense. One famous bodybuilder who did get calf implants later in life and competed with them was Lou Ferrigno! (Why Joe Weider allowed Lou Ferrigno to compete with calf Implants I do not know!?) Arnold always enjoyed life to the full but was extremely driven and focused and had his mind set on becoming the best bodybuilder in the world. If he had weak areas, he worked hard on those to bring them up. He had the mindset to do that, which not many people have. Arnold built a HUGE physique which at one point amassed over 250 lbs but still had a relatively tight, small waist which you don’t see in bodybuilders today. Even though he carried a lot of mass, he still looked athletic and graceful on stage while posing. Aesthetics is everything when it comes to bodybuilding but for some reason, in today’s contests, mass seems to be prevailing over aesthetics which is a shame. For more of my thoughts on "Old School vs Modern" click here. Arnold won the Mr Olympia seven times (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 & 1980) which in those days was unheard of. He also holds the record as being the youngest ever Mr Olympia winner at 23 years old. In my opinion, if Arnold hadn’t retired, he could have easily won right up to 1980 and beyond. That would equate to TEN Mr Olympia titles!! He had the genetics and mind blowing physique to easily do so. There was no competition for him as Sergio Oliva had been banned from competing in the IFBB. Arnold has done more for the sport than anyone else and in my opinion, Arnold along with Sergio Oliva are the Top Two Best Bodybuilders of all time! Some days I consider Arnold to be the best ever, other days I think it’s Sergio. I always seem to change my mind because every now and again I’ll come across a rare photo online showing Sergio or Arnold posing and I’ll be blown away. Check out these fantastic videos on Arnold... For true information on how Arnold Schwarzenegger really trained click here! 4. Franco Columbu Franco Columbu (7 Aug. 1941 - 30 Aug. 2019) was a powerbuilder. By that I mean he always trained heavy and was known for his strength. As a competitive Powerlifter he was much stronger than Arnold in the gym and pound for pound he became one of the strongest bodybuilders ever. It was Arnold that convinced Franco to try his hand at bodybuilding as that was where the money was to be made. Franco became one of the best bodybuilders ever winning the Mr Olympia contest on two occasions (1976 & 1981). He was extremely muscular, famous for his split upper chest development. For a short guy, his muscle insertions were unfortunately just as short. He did build an incredible physique but poor arm genetics meant that he was never going to have arms like Arnold. A well known and respected bodybuilder by the name of Danny Padilla also was short in height, probably was about the same height as Franco, maybe even a tad shorter. However Danny’s physique was miss-leading. Standing on his own, you would never think of Danny being so short. This was due to his long, full muscle insertions. But Franco on the other hand didn’t have these magical muscle insertions. However, he did build a solid, strong, muscular physique which in his prime, looked tremendous. His chest, abs, shoulders, especially his back were simply out of this world. His arms, even with his short muscle insertions, still looked fantastic as his biceps genetically peaked high. Franco Columbu demonstrated just how strong he was by competing at the 1977 World's Strongest Man contest which unfortunately resulted in Franco obtaining a serious injury which took many years for him to fully recover. His comeback at the 1981 Mr Olympia which resulted in him winning may have been controversial but given his serious "sport career ending" injury fours years earlier, in 1977, it was flat out amazing for Franco to be walking again, let alone training and competing! 5. Frank Zane Frank Zane (28 June 1942 - Present) was incredible. He won the Mr Olympia contest three times (1977, 1978 & 1979). Compared to the likes of Arnold and Sergio who were mass monsters (In a good way), Frank competed at a much lighter bodyweight and to this day he holds the record for the lightest man to ever win the Mr Olympia contest. Frank was like Greek sculpture, carved out of stone. His famous vacuum pose remains one of the most memorable classic bodybuilding poses ever. This is a pose that many current Mr Olympia competitors could probably not do due to the extreme mass they carry in the wrong areas i.e. belly and waist. Frank Zane really has inspired many millions of people across the world to get in shape. His physique signifies a body that natural lifters could aspire to achieve. 6. Chris Dickerson Chris Dickerson (25 Aug. 1939 - Present) is a one time winner of the Mr Olympia contest having won in 1982 at the age of 43. At that time, he became the oldest ever Mr Olympia winner. To date, that record was broken by Shawn Rhoden winning the 2018 Mr Olympia contest at the age of 43 years and 5 months. Chris Dickerson in my humble opinion, is not one of my personal favourites, but definitely not the least, to have won the Mr Olympia title. I do not believe he should have won in 1982 given his serious elbow problem. That's not to say he should never have won the title, he could have possibly won the Mr Olympia in 1980 or 1981 as I feel his physique was much better then. From an aesthetic point of view, Chris was incredible. He always had that V-Taper look and his legs were amazing especially his calves. Chris has said many times that he didn’t really need to do much for his calves as he was genetically blessed in that department. Some people are lucky that way. He was always conditioned for competition, never looked bloated and was very muscular. As I’ve said, his legs were one of the best back in the day but he clearly wasn’t blessed genetically in the chest and arm department. I always thought the shape of his chest looked odd. Compare his chest to that of Steve Reeves, and you'll understand what I mean. His arms were also too small for his frame. His biceps did not impress me one bit and I feel his arms in particular let him down. But what can you do with poor genetics? A Mr Olympia contender in my opinion must have great arms. If the arms are poor, their chances of winning should be minimum. Now I’m not saying that any competitor with great arms could be Mr Olympia - I believe that a Mr Olympia winner should not have any glaring weaknesses whatsoever. If a body part clearly stands out as a glaring weakness, then no, they should not be awarded the title. This is why Arnold and Sergio were so ahead of their time. They had no glaring weaknesses, if any, and every body part of theirs looked tremendous. Chris Dickerson had a superb lower body but unfortunately never had the upper body genetics to match. His back was tremendous no doubt but chest and arms were a major let down for him. I'd be curious to know what caused Chris Dickerson's elbow to become so large? I've read that's a side effect of abusing "Growth Hormone" but I'm not an expert. 7. Samir Bannout Samir Bannout (7 Nov. 1955 - Present) won the Mr Olympia title in 1983. He was simply the complete package. No glaring weaknesses and exceptional strong points such as arms, chest, back and legs. I always liked Samir’s arms, probably one of the best ever after Arnold, Larry and Sergio. His conditioning was exceptional in ’83 and he oozed aesthetics. Aesthetics is something that old school bodybuilders had in abundance. They carried so much muscle but still looked athletic and appealed to the public. They looked like athletes. I remember the first time I came across Samir and it was watching the DVD, ‘Arnold – Total Rebuild’ which was based on Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to competition for the 1980 Mr Olympia. Samir wasn’t as conditioned for the 1980 contest as he was for ’83 and sadly didn't place well. To read about the 1980 Mr Olympia and Mike Mentzer's comments regarding that contest click here. Overall, Samir Bannout developed an outstanding physique which will go down in history as one of the best ever. His back development was exceptional and has always been a focal point for Samir. 8. Lee Haney Lee Haney (11 Nov. 1959 - Present) was truly the last Mr Olympia to carry so much mass with great aesthetic appeal. Possessing wide shoulders with an even greater wider and thicker back, tiny waist with massive legs, everything in proportion (well mostly). Haney won the Mr Olympia eight times (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 & 1991). That was a record eight wins but not just eight wins….8 consecutive wins!! To this day, only one other bodybuilder has tied that record. However, Haney retired undefeated which remains a record itself. Does eight straight wins make Lee Haney the Best Ever Mr Olympia? Before Haney came along, Arnold held the record at six consecutive wins then retired undefeated (In Mr Olympia competition that is) to pursue Hollywood. If Arnold had chosen to continue to compete for the next several years up to 1980, he would have easily achieved 10 Mr Olympia wins as Sergio Oliva, his only real competition wasn't around to compete, due to being BANNED from the IFBB by Joe Weider. Haney’s record however was equaled back in 2005 by a bodybuilder called Ronnie Coleman. Unfortunately Ronnie did not manage to break the record in 2006 due to losing to Jay Cutler. Lee Haney competed at a massive 250 lbs bodyweight and developed one of the best physiques in history. He was known for his huge, wide back development. He always competed in superb shape, shredded to the bone. My only flaw with Lee Haney was his arms. I always felt his arms were genetically poor from a purely aesthetic point of view. If you were comparing Arnold’s arms with Haney’s, Arnold wins hands down, EASILY!! Haney’s arms were big and always looked great in photos when performing curls etc but when posing for a front double biceps shot, you could see the weakness lay in his arms. There was no good shock value when he flexed during a front double biceps pose, like you would see if Arnold flexed. Lee will forever remain one of the best bodybuilders to compete at the Mr Olympia. I do not see anyone beating Lee Haney / Ronnie Coleman’s 8 consecutive wins record for many years. I believe that record will continue to stand for years to come. 9. Dorian Yates With the arrival of Dorian Yates (19 April 1962 - Present) came ‘MASS MONSTER’ status!! Yates won the Mr Olympia in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 & 1997 equaling Arnold’s winning streak. Dorian ended up retiring due to injuries, but winning six consecutive Mr Olympia titles had propelled him into the history books. He was known as a hard trainer and believed in the training method of H.I.T. (High Intensity Training) which was the complete opposite of how other bodybuilders trained at the time i.e. "Volume Training". Photo below: A young Dorian Yates. In his first couple of Mr Olympia wins he was big but still remained tight with a relatively small waist. It was during the last few wins that Dorian packed on the BEEF competing close to 260 lbs!! His waist though in my opinion looked big and bloated. It seemed aesthetics were slowly going out the window during Dorian’s reign and that MASS status was prevailing. Photo below: A bloated Dorian Yates! Dorian was known for complete development - Chest, Forearms, Legs, Calves, Back etc, you name it. He was big and shredded all over during competition (well most). He was known for his rock hard dryness like he was carved out of stone and developed one of the best backs in bodybuilding history. During the mid to late 90's bodybuilders were obviously taking advantage of newer drugs and consuming far more than what previous generations took. Insulin and Growth Hormone were key drugs taken by the likes of Yates to become even bigger but unfortunately so did the bellies! Physiques were changing in the late 90's moving into the 2000's and not for the better. Dorian's reign ended on a bad note due to retiring from injuries. He was actually fortunate (due to bad judging / possible fixed contests) to achieve six Mr Olympia wins as he won two Mr Olympia's with a physique that lacked aesthetics due to a bloated belly and torn muscles. Like Lee Haney, I always felt Dorian’s arms were weak from a front double biceps point of view. There was no WOW factor like Arnold’s. Sure Dorian had the mass and the "Pop-Eye" forearms but his biceps lacked any aesthetic appeal. 10. Ronnie Coleman Ronnie Coleman (13 May 1964 - Present) won the Mr Olympia in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 & 2005. An incredible eight consecutive wins tying Lee Haney’s record. This record will not be broken in my opinion for a long time, especially when bodybuilders these days aren’t maturing to Mr Olympia level status until close to their 30’s if not older. In comparison you have to think about how young Arnold was when he won his first Mr Olympia at only 23 years old! He almost won it at 22 but Sergio Oliva put a stop to that. So given today’s radical drug regime and the fact that bodybuilders who are competing in the Mr Olympia in this day and age are in their 30's compared to how young Arnold was – what's the likely hood of a competitor winning eight times or more? With the heavy drug regime and training, can bodybuilders really compete into their 40's and still win Mr Olympia shows?....Of course but will they break Haney's or Coleman's record....Highly unlikely. Ronnie Coleman didn't start out as a "MASS MONSTER", he grew into that status. Early 90's up to 1997, he built an incredible physique which resembled more of an "Old School Bodybuilder" than a "Modern Mass Monster". He had a crazy V-Taper, wide shoulders, massive arms and a tiny waist. The only exception was calves as he was genetically poor in that area but everything else above looked amazing. Ronnie's "Old School" physique though wasn't winning shows (for some crazy reason) and it definitely wasn't placing him high at the Mr Olympia contests each year. So for 1998, he added size and at this point it wasn't too much but was enough to make an impact on the bodybuilding world and take his first steps towards "MASS MONSTER" status. I actually preferred Ronnie's physique before he won the Mr Olympia contest in '98. A lot of fans regard Ronnie's physique that year as one of his best, however, photos show that he suffered bad gyno which makes it more amazing that he won the Mr Olympia that year. Only two bodybuilders in history have won the Mr Olympia displaying gyno and they are of course Ronnie and Franco Columbu back in 1981. From the early 2000's onwards, Ronnie just kept playing the size game and piling on the beef becoming a true MASS FREAK. His waist grew as a result. Ronnie was also one of the strongest bodybuilders ever as he had a passion for lifting ‘Heavy Ass Weights!’ It’s a shame to see the way Ronnie looks now. I think all the years of heavy lifting and steroid abuse has taken a massive toll on his body. You can see the damage done to his arms and more. Ronnie will forever go down in history as one of the greatest bodybuilders ever… but does owning eight Mr Olympia titles make him the greatest? 11. Jay Cutler Now we come to a bodybuilder whom I have never been a fan of….Physique wise. Jay Cutler (3 Aug. 1973 - Present) won the Mr Olympia contest in 2006, 2007, 2009 & 2010. In 2008, he lost to Dexter Jackson. Jay holds the record for being the only Mr Olympia winner to have lost the title and then regain it back. In my opinion Jay Cutler has always displayed a boxy, thick waist type physique. Like Ronnie in his later years, Jay played the size game to battle Ronnie on stage and unfortunately didn't display much aesthetics but rather produced an ugly type physique. But as judging standards were poor and rewarded the mass monsters with bloated bellies it's not surprising that he won a number of Mr Olympia titles given that Ronnie Coleman's body was already in the process of breaking down from 2005 onwards. 12. Dexter Jackson Dexter Jackson (25 Nov. 1969 - Present) won the Mr Olympia contest back in 2008. He is one of those competitors who maintains aesthetics over mass which is great to see but believe it or not I’m still not a fan of his physique although I do prefer it over the current bloated, Mass Monsters of today. Dexter came close to winning the 2015 Mr Olympia contest which was good to see. He has officially retired now as of 2021. Dexter was always consistent and showed up in great condition for contests. His physique overall was very pleasing and athletic looking but certain things about his physique always bothered me...His calf genetics were poor (nothing can be done about that). His biceps to me always looked suspicious of synthol abuse. They just had that unnatural, bloated shape about them. Hard to describe and I'll admit, I could be completely wrong. So I'll say this, his biceps were not aesthetically pleasing. Another thing which gradually got worse over the years was his stomach. No where near as bad as the likes of Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman etc but at several Mr Olympia competitions, it was clear he could not hold his stomach in which protruded at times. This is not something you would see from back in Arnold's prime years but obviously Dexter had been using different drug concoctions which were far more advanced compared to the drugs available in Arnold's day. Dexter's abs would later look like a "Turtle Shell" and unfortunately become the focus / distraction of his overall pleasing physique. Despite the negative comments regarding Dexter, he still led the way and promoted the "Old School" type bodybuilders body compared to anyone else. I just think the type of drugs he must have been using including his advanced age (mid to late 40's) would have been detrimental to his physique. 13. Phil Heath Phil Heath (18 Dec. 1979 - Present) won the Mr Olympia competition seven consecutive times (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017) but narrowly lost to Shawn Rhoden in 2018 and thus wasn't able to tie the record for the most Mr Olympia wins with Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman. After taking a couple of years out he returned to the stage set for taking the title back in 2020 but lost, finishing 3rd place behind ex-champion, 2019 Mr Olympia winner, Brandon Curry. I've never been a fan of Phil's physique. He carries a lot of mass in his freakish arms and shoulders but for me overall, his bodyparts just don't flow nicely as early Mr Olympia winners such as Arnold and Sergio Oliva, etc. When Phil is relaxed, his arms look incredible. When you see him in the gym training, his arms are mind blowing but when flexed in competition on stage, his front double biceps pose for me provides no WOW factor at all. I can only describe this as similar to Serge Nubret whose arms looked magnificent when down and relaxed by his sides but once they were flexed overhead, nothing would happen. Photo below: Phil Heath most muscular at the 2020 Mr Olympia contest. Due to the immense size of Phil's shoulders he did have a nice V-Taper, but another pet hate of mine regarding Phil is his chest. His arms and shoulders seem to dwarf his chest. His chest actually reminds me of Chris Dickerson, it has a similar weird shape which isn’t aesthetically pleasing. But again, nothing can be done about that as its genetics. Phil's stomach in later years became a serious problem and that was why he lost to Shawn Rhoden back in 2018. Dexter Jackson was the same and if you don't believe me, feel free to check out the 2015 Mr Olympia online and watch the individual posing round. The whole point of bodybuilding is to build a beautiful physique in proportion, not have stomachs hanging out!! It’s disgusting to look at. Even when bodybuilders are back stage at a contest, they still need to control their abs as they are still being photographed and filmed. Heaths 2020 Mr Olympia comeback (photos below) proved unsuccessful and again, it was the result of his gut protruding! Heath was lucky to have finished in 3rd place. He also looked small compared to the winner, Mamdouh Elssbiay (big Ramy) and if Phil does decide to come back again in 2021, he'll need to pack on some more size to stand a chance against Big Ramy, but packing on more beef for Phil won't be a good thing if it goes to his stomach! 14. Shawn Rhoden Shawn Rhoden (2 April 1975 - Present) was the 2018 Mr Olympia champion defeating Phil Heath. It was a close contest but due to Phil's protruding stomach, Shawn was declared the winner which was heart breaking for Phil. Rhoden became the oldest competitor to capture the Mr. Olympia title last year at age 43 taking the record away from Chris Dickerson who won in 1982. Even Shawn Rhoden at past contests has had trouble holding his stomach in. However, in 2018, he brought back the athletic, classic lines of an "old school" bodybuilder displaying broad shoulders and a tight waist. Shawn winning in 2018 was a step in the right direction for the sport of bodybuilding as it promoted bodybuilders with classic lines and no protruding gut. Since winning the 2018 Mr Olympia, Shawn has been troubled with personal problems accused of raping a female bodybuilder in a Utah hotel room on Oct. 12, 2018. He was charged with felony rape, felony object rape and felony forcible sexual abuse. He has always denied this, pleading not guilty and allegedly passed two "Lie Detector Tests". He has since been banned from competing until the case is resolved. However, there are rumours that he may be preparing for a comeback at this years Mr Olympia contest but who knows? 15. Brandon Curry Brandon Curry (19 Oct. 1982 - Present) brought home the Mr Olympia title in 2019 at 36 years old. It was an interesting Mr Olympia as past winners Shawn Rhoden and Phil Heath were absent from the competition. Brandon in my book displayed an outstanding physique and was a worthy winner. Great arms, thin waist, excellent abs, no protruding gut at any time, he represented old school bodybuilding for me and easily was the clear winner. Unfortunately he wasn't able to retain the title last year in 2020 finishing in 2nd place. Personally I had him in first place. I just hope in the pursuit of more mass to compare better with Big Ramy, that he doesn't go down the wrong path and develop a "bubble gut" so to speak. He remains a definite contender to reclaim the Olympia gold in the near future. 16. Mamdouh Elssbiay (Big Ramy) Mamdouh Mohammed Hassan Elssbiay (16 Sept. 1984 - Present) is an Egyptian bodybuilder, known as "Big Ramy" who made history by defeating two past champions to become the 2020 Mr Olympia winner. I made the following video back in 2015 on Big Ramy... Big Ramy has always had the potential to win the Mr Olympia, he's just never showed up in condition until 2020 that is. Even at his massive size he still displayed a rather small waist which was controlled, no gut protruding. He dwarfed his fellow competitors so I think in 2021, if other bodybuilders such as Brandon Curry don't add more size and Ramy shows up conditioned still looking much bigger than his competitors, then I think it will be lights out and another easy win for Ramy. BEST MR OLYMPIA EVER? So who do I think is the best Mr Olympia ever?....It's a toss up between two bodybuilding legends... 1. Arnold Schwarzenegger 2. Sergio Oliva Their physiques from head to toe were perfection and they both easily dominated other bodybuilders within there era. Even to this day, their physiques would beat the current crop of bodybuilders in my opinion. The biggest bodybuilder should win but only if they still have aesthetics i.e. shapely lines, body parts which flow well together and no bloated gut! A Mr Olympia winner should not have any glaring weaknesses to his physique. Who do you think is the Best Mr Olympia Ever and why? Who didn’t deserve to win a Mr Olympia Title? Who should have won at least one Mr Olympia title? Here are some comments from people to the above questions... The Horror Kid stated... Big Bob stated... Mark stated... * Do you agree with the above comments? Voice your opinions below! * Please note: The "text content" of the above 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. * Thanks for reading, Take care and happy training, Strength Oldschool
  6. Sergio with the bright yellow trunks looking agitated going by the facial expression and crazy hand flex.

    © Strength-Oldschool.com

  7. Little has been written on the amazing Sergio Oliva in recent years. So when the opportunity presented itself to have a seminar at the Iron Man's Gym conducted by the former Mr. Olympia and Mr. Olympus [that'd be Dan Lurie's contest before the ambitions of the Weider Empire overflowed and drowned pretty near everything else], the only man to hold both titles, I jumped at the chance. Let it be known at this point, I am a Sergio fan and have known Sergio for 16 years and have yet to see anyone - in my opinion - equal him in his prime. I first saw Sergio as a fellow competitor in the Mr. Mid-States contest in Whiting, Indiana in 1964 and all the other contestants might as well have stayed at home. He stole the show! He has a rare combination of having a large bone structure yet extremely small hips and a waist with an incredible flair at the joints that puts him in a class by himself. Sergio came into the Iron Man's Gym in the strong arms of the law. Nope, he wasn't under arrest but escorted by Oceanside Detective C.C. Sanders and the guns C.C. was carrying were 19-inches hanging from his shoulders. C.C. is a respected competitive bodybuilder as well as a top promoter and was co-sponsor of the Iron Man Muscle Classic at which Sergio would guest pose after the seminar. To accommodate all the Sergio fans three seminars were conducted over two days so the following info is compiled from all three seminars. Let's pull up a bench and get the straight scoop from the man they call The Myth. Take it away Sergio! Sergio: Well, I'm going to tell you the story of my life, Sergio Oliva! Don't be afraid. Just ask me anything you want to know. Q: Can you tell us about your early days in powerlifting? Sergio: I never did that! I was in Olympic lifting. I never was a big guy to start with but I was always real powerful. I competed in the 148, 165, and 181 pound classes. This was the way I got out of my country of Cuba and came to the United States in Miami. I started to bodybuild there and I was more powerful from the weightlifting. Three months later I was in the Mr. Florida contest. From there three months later I was beating guys that had been training five and 10 years! So I started training real good and training for the big contests. It was funny! When I was in the A.A.U. I was competing in Olympic lifting and physique contests at the same time. So this is the way it started. Q: How old were you when you started? Sergio: I started in bodybuilding at what I consider a late age. I was 22 at the time. To me the right age to start is around 16. I started late but I made it. I was working hard! I wanted to be the top one and I made it! What really makes me happy is that nobody gave me those titles. I was the winner! Lot of those guys I don't know but those days you had to win it. There were no deals! I was working real hard in a factory. It was a foundry and when it was 85 degrees outside it was almost 500 degrees inside! I saw guys twice my size pass out on a regular basis because of the heat. I worked there 12- and 14-hour days and from there I'd go to the gym and work out for three or four hours. Even in those days when I was the top one I didn't make a penny from it. I was the best but I didn't make a penny from it. Photo above: Sergio Oliva with Roy Velasco I'm a phony bodybuilder! I eat anything! Now I know my physique and my potential. I don't say you can do it. For you should know yourself and know your limits! I'm the kind of guy that does anything he wants and I don't want you to tell me what to do. How can you tell me what to do when I know my own body better than you do! I drink Coca Cola. I eat peas and beans and rice, chili, hot dogs! I don't care! I eat anything! Now I don't say I eat like that all the time. When I prepare for a contest I drop all the garbage and eat good but I'm not going to tell you that I spend all of my life eating vitamins and protein because that's bullshit! If I tell you that and one day you see me in a Pancake House eating pancakes you're going to wonder what's going on. You're the only one that's going to find out the right way for yourself. Nobody has to tell you! They used to tell me no way you can eat like you do and improve. You can ask anyone that was against me. How about that crazy Cuban! They'll say he eats any kind of junk! They know! I don't care. This is me! I know what I can do. I know my limits. Q: What's your opinion on the use of steroids? Sergio: I'll tell you what it is. When I started in this game we didn't use any of that stuff! Nothing! I didn't even know what it was then. Now all the top guys are using it. I see guys come in the gym and only work out for three months and start using steroids. It's wrong! In my personal opinion it's wrong! How can you know how much development you can get on your own without the drugs? You should see the maximum development you can get without it. Maybe some day you'll get to the point where you're going to get into a big contest and have a decision to make about taking the drugs. Some people really don't need it! There's a lot of ways to take it. You can take it through a doctor where you have a thorough checkup and the doctor will show you exactly how to use it and and how much, or you can go out and take it on your own. I don't believe anybody that's only been in the bodybuilding game for one or two years should use it! Q: Have you used it? Sergio: Oh yeah! But I don't believe in the stuff. I only prepared for this show for seven weeks. I was doing squats and pulled the ligaments in my leg. So I needed something to prepare myself quick. However, I know my limit. But I've been in this game a lot of years. You get in the gym and one year later you're using the stuff. You don't know your potential this way! You might find you can have the same development without it. Q: What do you believe in sets and reps? Say, like an arm routine? Sergio: My routine! It all depends! If I'm trying to gain weight I do less sets and increase the weight and eat anything! Now as a show gets closer I quit eating the garbage, I drop the heavy weight and train light. I increase the reps because I'm trying to burn! Say for instance I'm doing 12 sets when I'm trying to gain weight. Maybe I keep the 12 sets but not heavy anymore. I used light weights and when I used to do 10 reps; maybe I did 30 or 40 or 50 reps! So I work two different ways. Do you follow what I'm saying? I know some guys can go to the gym and do 3 sets and get pumped like hell. All right? Now this guy knows what he has to do. He knows his limits. He doesn't need to do 10 or 20 sets. It's just like vitamins; you only need to take so many. But people think the more you take the bigger you get. Your body can only handle so much protein and vitamins at one time. I know some guys that 3 sets is all they need. For some guys 3 sets is just a warmup. They have do do a lot of sets to get the same benefit. The sets and reps, training heavy or light all depends upon the individual and how he responds to it. It doesn't make any difference how Mr. Magoo trains! You might never get to look like him. Find out what works for you! It doesn't make any difference if someone else has 23-inch arms. Maybe you can kill yourself for years and never get to look like him with his routine. You follow what I'm saying? Do what works for you! Q: Once you feel the pump is this the point to stop? Sergio: No. Say you do a heavy curl and get a tremendous pump. Then you drop the heavy curls and do some preacher curls and other movements to keep that pump going. Q: Are you worried about getting robbed wearing that big gold medallion? Sergio: (A lot of LAUGHTER!) I got that medallion when gold was seven dollars an ounce. Now what's it worth? Maybe $500 an ounce? Hey, there's a lot of crazy dudes out there. If one pulls a gun and puts it to my chest and says give me that chain, he can have it! I'm no Superman! I can't fight bullets! However, once he puts the gun out of my view he's dead! If he lets me talk he's not going to shoot me! I'm not worried about it. Q: What are your future plans? Sergio: I would like to keep on competing because I don't consider myself down yet. Q: What was your maximum bench press? Sergio: I wasn't too strong in the bench press. The most I ever did was 525. For a bodybuilder that's a lot but for a powerlifter it's nothing. I can do 20 reps with 400. Q: Is it true that you bench pressed 350 x 50? Sergio: Yeah, I used to take 315 and do 40-45 reps. I bench press a little different than maybe you guys bench press. I don't lock each rep. I do it at a fast pace of short reps. I lock it every once in a while to release the pressure in my shoulders and chest and then keep going again. Now everybody in Europe benches like that. Somebody asked me why I didn't lock every rep and I said - what for? They said they lock every rep. I said how big is your chest, 32? I wasn't trying to put the guy down. I was trying to explain to him that it worked FOR ME and that's what counts! This is the way I grow so why should I change it? I create my own style of exercise that works for me! I don't know if this made a difference in my development. Maybe I would look the same training in a different way. I don't know! This is the way I'm going to keep training! Q: Do you do anything special to keep such an incredibly small waistline? Sergio: My waistline? I'm going to tell you the truth. This is my structure and always the way I was. Even when I was little I had a V-shape. When I prepare for a show I'll do situps and leg raises but maybe 3 or 4 sets but not a lot. These pants I'm wearing are a size 28 waist. I respond immediately to situps and leg raises and my waist gets even smaller. Q: When you train for a contest do you use the tape and scale a lot or do you go by the mirror? Sergio: I don't go by either. I judge how my clothes fit me. You can ask my friends, I don't look in the mirror. I never pose in the gym. I pose at home in private. Q: You've been all over the world putting on seminars and exhibitions. Can you give us some idea of where the most enthusiasm is? Sergio: There's a lot of enthusiasm all over the world for bodybuilding. Everybody is looking for more knowledge to make improvements. Q: Besides yourself, who do you think the top bodybuilder is in the world today? Sergio: To me they're all tops! I said this years back and I say it now. To me they're all tops. It's a lot of sacrifice. I know what it means to be a bodybuilder. I'm talking about the bodybuilders who have a regular job and then go to the gym after work. To go to work and then go into the gym takes a lot of determination. Q: Do you work a split routine? Sergio: Yes. Monday I work my chest, back and shoulders. Tuesday I work shoulders again but a different section and then I work my arms. Wednesday I work my legs. Thursday I do the same as Monday. Friday the Tuesday routine and Saturday the same routine as Wednesday. Monday I do benches and chin-ups. I develop my pectorals and lats at the same time. I do a lot of stuff. Monday is a long routine for me. I do flyes and dips. Dips are one of my favorites. I used to do a lot of dips. The dips are excellent for the whole upper body. I do a lot of sets in the bench press. I start with 135 and keep adding weight until I'm finally doing singles. Then I work back down on the weight. On declines I do 3 or 4 sets. 2 or 3 sets of inclines, 3 sets of flyes. Q: Do you do supersets? Sergio: I do what I call a combination - bench presses with chins. I go at a fast pace. If I sit down and get a drink and rest up, I don't feel like doing anything. So I take a shower and go home. So I go at a fast pace. For arms I do heavy curls, preacher curls, seated dumbbell curls. Q: Do you train 4 days a week or 6? Sergio: It depends how close I am to a show. If a show is close I train 6 days. Q: What kind of chin-ups do you do? Sergio: I do wide grips on a V-bar. I do the front, behind the neck and also chin with a close grip. I do lots of reps. Many people hate doing chin-ups but it is excellent for the lats and a V-shape. It's like doing squats. Everybody hates squats. Everybody likes to bench press and build a big upper body but if you go to the beach you have to keep your pants on. When you go swimming you have to swim with your pants on! You can't take your pants off because your legs look like spaghetti. It's better to train everything because then you'll grow in proportion. For a contest you're going to have to train every body part. The strongest parts of your body are your legs and back. To me the chin-ups are a must and a tremendous exercise for the back. Q: What do you do for your thighs? Sergio: If you do squats and thigh extensions for the front of the thighs and leg curls for the leg biceps you have a well-rounded routine. Leg presses and hack squats are good too. Q: Do you do your reps to failure or do you pick a certain number and do them? Sergio: It depends. I base my whole workout on how I feel that day. For example, if I put 300 on the bar Monday and do 45 reps on the bench press it doesn't mean I'm going to do the same thing on Thursday. The weather changes, a problem on the job, family problems; it all affects your mind. If the mind gets weak you're going to be weak. Q: Do you believe in a workout partner? Sergio: Yes I do. I don't like to work out by myself for many reasons. Try to find someone better than you because then you work your ass off to beat him. Look for somebody that's strong and you'll really push each other. If you're looking for tremendous development find somebody better than you and you're going to be motivated. This way you'll work to your maximum. Also it's very dangerous to work out by yourself. I had a lot of problems before. I worked to my maximum bench press and got stuck. The bar ended up on my chest and there was nobody in the gym so I had to roll the bar off me and it really scared me. That was the end of me training by myself. Also with a training partner there's days you don't feel too good but your partner's motivated and pushes you. Then you end up having a good workout that you wouldn't have had. For a partner to be of benefit it has to be the same routine for both of you no matter what weight you're handling the weight should be the same. Q: What do you do for the shoulders? Sergio: A lot of exercises for the shoulders. For tremendous shoulder development do presses behind the neck. Then do lateral raises to the front, side, and back and you'll get all the shoulder development you want. Whatever exercise you do, if you can get a good 12 reps you should use more weight. Q: What about your biceps routine? Sergio: Like I said before, curls, preacher curls, dumbbell curls. It's the way I do it, the FORM that counts. We can both do the same exercise and get different results. IT'S ALL INDIVIDUAL! Calves and forearms are hard to develop. If you don't have some natural development it's hard to get them to grow. I don't even work forearms and they're thick all over. In my opinion the easy muscles to develop are the chest and biceps. I find the calves and forearms are the hardest to get to grow. Q: What would you suggest for the forearms? Sergio: Reverse curls for 10 to 12 reps each set. Q: How do you do your squats? Sergio: I use a 4x4 with my heels elevated. I like it better that way and get better development than by doing them flat-footed. I do a full squat and come down all the way. I have my feet at a 45-degree angle in all my squats. I use my legs and nothing else when I squat. Q: Do you plan on competing again? Sergio: Oh yeah, as long as I have about four to five months notice. Sure I'll kill myself for the money and contest as long as I know it will be fair. Q: Any more advice about the steroids? Sergio: Like I said before, I personally don't recommend that you use them. I see too many beginners come into the gym and then six months later want to use all the garbage! It's no good for him! A couple of years later it's still no good for you! How do you really know what your potential is without it! The way for you is to go without it! Then if you're a top man some day and you feel by using it it will give you an increase and you want to try it, then try it. But do it through a doctor and not on your own. Q: What kind of diet do you go on? Sergio: I diet for a contest but not a strict diet. I know my metabolism and the type of skin I have. So I know how much time I need to cut up. I don't need to go for months and months. The most I stay on a diet is for two to three weeks. I cannot go for more than that. Between contests I eat anything! You name it! Rice, beans, chocolate shakes, Coca Cola. Why not? I don't care! But I balance the meals. Like last night I had a pizza so tonight I'll have a steak and salad. That's the trick! I don't eat junk every day! Then when I come down for a contest or show I come down slowly. I don't try to rush it. Q: What do you recommend for intermediate and beginning bodybuilders as far as diet is concerned? Sergio: You find some beginners that look better than some guys that have been training for years. So what I'm saying is GET TO KNOW YOUR OWN METABOLISM. We all have a different metabolism. If you have a slow metabolism you have to watch what you eat. Everything you eat you gain very rapidly. If you have a fast metabolism you can eat anything! I personally have a fast metabolism. I have no problem. I know my metabolism, I know whatever I eat today isn't going to stay in me to until tomorrow. I'm going to go in the gym and burn it up. If you have a slow metabolism then watch what you eat! As far as recommending a diet I leave it to the individual to LEARN HIS OWN BODY. We're all different. I can tell you to eat this and eat that but maybe your metabolism is way different than mine and it wouldn't work for you. Q: Do you eat anything special before a workout? Sergio: No, I don't. I eat whatever I feel like eating but I don't eat two hours before I train. I have my breakfast like anybody and my lunch like anybody. Then I go work out. After I work out I have my supper. Q: What's the latest you have supper? Sergio: I don't have a set time. Every day it's different. Now it's better for you to have a set time. Sometimes I come into the gym at different hours because of my work, so I have to eat at different times. This doesn't affect me. A different person might be affected by it. I have a friend who has to have all his meals at the same time. Q: Can you recommend a routine for a beginner or intermediate who wants size? Sergio: You gain size by the amount of food you eat, the amount of protein and calories you take in every day and by lifting heavy. You have to work heavy and do less sets than you do when you're trying to cut up. Say for instance you bench press with 200 pounds and you're doing 15 to 20 reps. You're not going to gain much size. Add about 20 or 30 pounds and do about 8 to 10 reps. Now you're working for size. Keep adding weight. This is the way you'll gain your size. Also, whatever you can eat, you eat! Train four or five times a week and eat anything but check your metabolism to see if you're burning it up. If you have a very slow metabolism, you have to work on the sets and reps like crazy! While someone else does three sets you might have to do at least 10 sets. There's no secret as to weight or so many sets and reps. Don't let the magazines and books fool you with that kind of garbage! It's bullshit! There's no secrets!!! Look at all the champs there are! Now find me two physiques in all the world that train the same way exactly! No two even have the same physique! If there is a secret and everybody does the same routine we should all develop the same way but for some reason we don't. Right! It means do your own thing! You can try somebody else's routine but it doesn't mean it will work for you. Eventually you'll find routines that work for you. Not the ones I say! I say that one because it's good for me but it doesn't mean it will be good for you. You know what I mean? This is the one you have to work on! A titleholder tells you a routine that works for him but he doesn't know if it's going to work for you. NOBODY KNOWS YOURSELF BETTER THAN YOU!!! Q: So when you're working for size you should pretty well eat what you want? Sergio: As long as you balance your meals. Again, base it on your own body. You might gain and gain but get fat. This is not what you want. So you have to see what your metabolism can handle. You want to gain solid muscle size. Don't waste your time by adding a lot of fat. That's not what you want. If you gain 40 pounds of fat and start cutting up you have to drop the 40 pounds and you'll be right back where you started from. You follow? You can't turn fat into muscle. Bruce Randall went from over 400 and dropped down to under 200 pounds and won the Mr. Universe. Q: I train at a gym in Riverside where there are no advanced bodybuilders. My training partner and I ave two different theories on building bulk. I say stay with the basic exercises - squats, rows, curls, cleans and so on. He's more into the exotic exercises - hack squats on a machine, this type of thing. What do you say? Sergio: Here's the trick and the mistake we all make from the beginning. I did it and they all did. If you work only one area of a muscle, say the triceps, you're only working one part of the muscle. This is a mistake! You have to hit the muscle on three different exercises to hit all the sections. Q: What are some of the exercises you would do for the triceps for example? Sergio: For example, I do lying triceps extensions with a cable. Then I do seated triceps extensions with a barbell. Then I do a lying French curl with barbell. So I've worked the triceps from all angles. There's plenty of exercises to do. You have to find out the ones that work for you. The mistake is to say to do 10 sets of one exercise for a muscle because you're not working all the parts of the muscle. Q: Have you worked with any women in bodybuilding? Sergio: I don't like the ladies with muscles. The muscles are for the men. That's my personal opinion. Okay? I like the women feminine! I dig any lady that's feminine. There's plenty of exercises the women can do to stay trim and in good shape without getting muscular. That's not for the women! Once you get muscular you lose the feminine look! Q: Didn't you work in Florida for a while for Arthur Jones? Can you tell us a little about him? Sergio: He has some good machines but if you take somebody like me who already has the body and put him through the machines you're not going to be able to tell how great the machine really is. The only way you're going to be able to prove how good the machine is would be to put a beginner on it and see what kind of progress he makes with it. If you put a top bodybuilder on it how can you prove how good it is? I'm already developed from the free weights so who can say what the machines are doing? It's really hard to tell! Q: Don't you believe everybody develops differently? Sergio: Definitely. Everybody is going to respond differently to the weights even on the same routine. Everybody has a different metabolism. Q: What do you think about powdered protein? Sergio: Yes, you should take protein. If you're training hard you're burning a lot of energy and with the food itself you might not get it all back. So you need the extra supple such as the supplements. Any supplement that has all the amino acids is good. It doesn't make any difference if Mr. McGoo made it. As long as it has all the amino acids in it, it's good. Q: If somebody squats, do you think full squats are the best or half squats? Sergio: Full squats. I do squats until I sit on my calves. I use a 4 x 4 piece of wood under my heels. You have to do full squats for complete leg development. I used to squat between 650 and 750. That's a lot for bodybuilding but for a powerlifter it's nothing. I have a friend in Chicago that's a powerlifter. He weighs 165 and does over 700 in the squat. I'm not a powerlifter. That's not my game. My game is bodybuilding. Q: How much do you weigh right now? Sergio: Now? 210 at 5'9". I feel good. I'm light. I hurt my knee so I haven't done any heavy squats lately. I need another 15 to 20 pounds of bodyweight. If you want to look good you have to suffer like in anything. Q: I heard that your forearms were so big that you couldn't flex your biceps all the way. Is that true? Sergio: Yes, at one time my forearms were well over 17 inches and they were so thick up high that when I flexed the forearms would hit the biceps. Q: What's your waist right now? Sergio: 28 inches. I always have a 28. These pants are a 28. Q: How do you ever get pants to fit you? Sergio: It's easy . . . tailor made! My legs were always bigger than my waist. I was the only one to have a smaller waist than thigh. My thighs measured 29 inches. It's my structure. Even when I was skinny I had the V-taper to my body. This was just the way I was even before I touched a weight. This was a disadvantage for me when I was an Olympic lifter. I was never good at the Press. I was good at the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk but not the Press. For the Press you need a big waist. I always had a problem with my back on the Press. Q: How do you know when you're over-training? Sergio: When you hit a sticking point on the weights and can't go beyond it for a couple of weeks. Q: If you work your back today and then work your arms the following day aren't you still using the same muscles? Sergio: For every exercise you do you're using the arms but not directly. Don't pay attention to the routines in the magazines. They'll drive you crazy! Keep in mind you're an individual and what works for you doesn't always work for someone else. Q: I read an article that said once you work up to your maximum weight set you shouldn't do any more pumping sets. Do you agree with that? Sergio: I don't know about that! My theory is a little different. I work on the bench for example. I start off with 135. I warm up and keep adding 20 pounds each set and do as many reps as I can do and hit my maximum weight for what I can do that workout. Then I drop 20 pounds each set and work back down the same way. I do a lot of sets on the bench. It's up to you to try both ways and see which way works best for you. Q: I've read where you can cut your forearm training in half by every time you grip the bar in the other exercises to grip the bar real hard. Is this true? Sergio: It's true but you still have to do forearm work because it's the only thing that will give you maximum development for the forearms. Q: How long have you been a competitive bodybuilder? Sergio: I started bodybuilding back in 1964. I made a lot of progress fast because I trained very hard and had been Olympic lifting and had the strength. Most people thought I'd been training for 10 years after I'd been training for two. I had a lot of potential for bodybuilding with my frame and Olympic background. Q: What was the biggest you had your chest? Sergio: When I went to Germany to compete in '72 my chest was over 58 inches and I was about 22-3/4 on the arms. Q: How many sets do you usually do per upper body part? Sergio: I cannot tell you exactly but I do a lot of sets. Some exercises I do 5 sets, some 2 sets, some 3 sets. It really varies. Put it this way: On Monday I work chest, back and shoulders only. I do a lot of benches but only 3 sets of declines and 3 sets of inclines because I already worked the chest hard with benches. Then I do chin-ups, I do pullovers, I do dips, I do flyes, I do crushes but I only do 3 sets of all of these. The only thing I do a lot of sets on is the bench. For arms I do the same thing. I do about 4 or 5 sets of heavy curls. I then do 3 sets of a lot of other movements, preacher curls, dumbbell curls, French presses. I do a lot of different exercises but usually only 3 sets. Q: What kind of work did you do in Cuba? Sergio: Construction. When I came here I was in meat packing and was working 12 to 14 hours a day. When I finished I'd go to the gym. My boss didn't believe me. He said, "Sergio, are you going home?" I'd say, "No, I'm going to the gym." I tried many sports in Cuba. I was poor and had no money that this was the only way to get out of the country and they don't let you out. I tried baseball, I tried boxing, I was real good and hit real hard. But they had some dude who hit REAL hard so I gave up. I tried running but I was too big for that. I was always really skinny but I always had a small waist with a V-shape even before I know anything about weights. I was at the beach and this instructor passed by and asked if I lifted weights. I said, "Weights? What is weights? The only weights I lift is in construction." He said come to my gym and gave me his card. Q: How old were you? Sergio: I was about 18 or 19. That's when I started. I went to the gym then, I was always good in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk from the start but because of my small waist I was never good in the Press. Q: Did you have flexibility problems? Sergio: No! No! That's why I was good in the Snatch and Clean. If you don't have flexibility you can't Snatch. Anyway, I went to the gym and worked on the Olympic lifts and before you know it I beat everybody in Cuba in weightlifting. So I represented Cuba in Olympic lifting and as soon as I got to Jamaica that was it! Adios! Q: On your Thursday routine for chest, shoulders and arms do you do the same thing? Sergio: I do the same exercises and the same routine but I drop the weight and train real light. Q: What about a lot of forced reps like the Mike Mentzer routine? Sergio: I don't know anything about the way Mentzer trains. I've never trained with forced reps so I can't make any comment on it. Again my best suggestion to you is to try a routine for a period of 2 to 3 months and see how it works for you. You don't care what Mr. McGoo does. You only care about what's the best for you. Find what works for you! Now Mr. Oliva says if you do this exercise you'll gain three inches on your arms. You may do the exercise for the rest of your life and never gain an inch. Now here comes Mr. Nobody with a crazy routine. You try it and your arms grow and develop like crazy! Now maybe my routine doesn't work for you because your bone structure and your metabolism has a lot to do with the way you develop. I used to look in the books and magazines and try the different routines of the top guys to find which one worked for me. If I didn't see any or much progress I'd drop it no matter how many titles the guy had won. I recommend to anybody find the exercises and routines that work for you. Q: Do you do any movements to enlarge your rib cage? Sergio: No. I never did nor ever tried any movement for it. Q: Did anybody help you with your training? Sergio: To tell you the truth, nobody. I made it all on my own with real hard work. Even today I'm not a real classy poser because I never took instruction from anyone. I never had the time. I had to work and I had to work out. Q: Are you financially well of that you don't have to work? Sergio: No, No, NO! I still work. I take off to go to Europe and around the country for exhibitions but I still work. Bodybuilding is something I can't depend on for the rest of my life. Q: What kind of work do you do? Sergio: I'm a police officer. Q: Tell us a little about your experience in 1966 over losing the AAU Mr. America to Bob Gajda. Sergio: Now, don't get me wrong. I'm going to explain it to you the best way I can. Bob and I were in the gym together but we never trained together like it said in the magazines because he had his way of training and I had mine. So we went to the Jr. Mr. America together and I won everything, all the body parts, everything. You judge this, right? They said I couldn't become Mr. America because I don't speak English. That's when I switched over to the IFBB. Q: Do you think there'll be another Sergio Oliva? Sergio: Sure! THE WORLD IS CRAZY! You see some guys that don't work out that look really good. So you put them in the gym and they train and they'll look tremendous. They'll be better than Sergio. Q: Is your training intensity up to par now with the way it used to be? Sergio: No! I trained for this show but I had pulled the ligaments in my leg. So I trained for this show for only seven weeks. I've been training like crazy and dropping down and everything. If there's nothing coming along I just maintain. If there's not something real big coming along I don't kill myself. I can work out as hard now as I did before! In bodybuilding you constantly improve. In other sports once you get old you're out! In bodybuilding you get older, you get better! Q: Do you think you've reached your potential? Sergio: I reached my potential in 1970 and then again in Germany and then in Mexico again. I know I can reach it when I really want to. But I'm not going to make that kind of sacrifice and then have Mr. McGoo beat me! Q: Tell us a little about your movie career? Sergio: I've got three movies out but they're all in Spanish. People say I'm a good actor. I don't know, I guess I am. It's tremendous, I like it. It's exciting, it's different! The last one I did about three years ago. It was made in Durango, Mexico. It's a Western. That's where John Wayne made a lot of his movies. I had to ride a horse without a saddle! Q: Can you ride? Sergio: Oh yeah! As long as the money is there I'll do anything! That Mother was so fast so I grabbed it by the neck. We only shot that part once, thank God because I don't think I could have repeated it. I got lucky! Q: Can you give me a routine to really blitz the waistline? Sergio: There's no secret to it, Baby! The only three exercises I know are the situps, leg raises and twists. There's no secret in that. It's the way you control your diet and doing the exercises. There's no secret! Don't let anyone confuse you! Just do situps, leg raises and twists and control your mouth and you'll have a good waistline. Q: Just prior to a contest what do you eat? Sergio: Fish, eggs, steak, that's it! In the last month almost no carbohydrates at all. Q: Is there any secret to working the back? Sergio: There's no secret again. I do a lot of different exercises for my back. It's like one guy maybe does nothing but pullups for his back. Along with this you need to do rowing, cleans, which are a tremendous exercise buy most bodybuilders don't like to do cleans because it's hard work. It's just like doing squats. Squats are a tremendous exercise and you need to do squats but they're hard work! If you're going to be in this game you have to do squats. They'll give you a tremendous set of legs, Keep in mind if you have a big chest and big arms and your legs look like spaghetti you're not going to do any good in a contest. Q: Do you drink? Sergio: Sure, every once in a while when I go to parties. When I go out I have a ball! Q: Have you thought of entering the Strongest Man in the World contest? Sergio: If they call me sure I'll go! I don't say I'm the world's strongest bodybuilder, I say I'll go against anyone as long as the money is there. Don't believe what the magazine says until you see the guy actually doing the lifts he's supposed to be able to do.
  8. Before there was Mr T. in "The A-Team", there was Sergio Oliva. The Myth was known to be flamboyant and was probably the best dressed bodybuilder of all time.

    © Strength-Oldschool.com

  9. A rare photo which you don't see very often but it's one of my favourite photos of Sergio. You can read about Sergio's life by purchasing his book.

    © Strength-Oldschool.com

  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 1981 WABBA Pro World Cup: (left to right) - Kalman Szkalak (6th) - Serge Nubret (2nd) - Robby Robinson (3rd) - Sergio Oliva (1st). Kalman Szkalak is famous for his high peak biceps.

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  13. How Sergio Oliva and Victor Richards Built Their Physiques Article by Jeff Everson (RIP) written in 1985. Edited by: Strength Oldschool (adding Photos only) I suppose it all started the day Richard Gaspari was declared National Light-Heavyweight Champion. Yes, I remember the eventful day back in New Orleans in 1984, when the young dragon slayer, ripped to the proverbial eyeballs, took home the gold, ushering in the new era of physique definition. Agreed, before Gaspari we had our striation kings. We had bodybuilders who worked as models for Gray’s Anatomy charts back in the ’60s and ’70s. We used to call them the most muscular men in physique contests. In those days definition was synonymous with most muscular. Physique judges then preferred a fuller (less defined) physique than is the rule today. The lean and hungry look of the yon Cassiuses of those days never won physique titles. If you examine older physique pictures, those of Reg Park, Steve Reeves, Leroy Colbert, Dave Draper and even Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilders were massive with outstanding shape, but certainly not ripped as they are today. But, so it goes. Progress is progress even if it does take a lot of the fun out of bodybuilding training. Indeed, in those days hard training and eating a lot of good food and being strong were what it was all about. Not so today. Now it’s succinates, metabolic optimizers, medium-chained triglycerides, branched chain amino acids, carnitine, thryoid, almost-zero-fat diets, carefully balanced protein diets, calorimetry- measured energy expenditure to equalize energy input with output, cyclic training routines and bodybuilding lifestyle day in and day out. Oh, to be sure, all of the above has pushed the standard of bodybuilding ever onward. Today’s champions have taken muscularity to dizzy heights. Bodybuilders are TOTALLY refined and developed today. Funny thing, though, most kids, most beginning bodybuilders, don’t really care about that. That look, the ultra-refined Gaspari-type muscularity, is best left for the competitive, singly focused bodybuilder who has little time, thought or energy to do anything else with his life except train, eat and sleep bodybuilding. Not that its bad. I make no judgments on people’s lives. To each his own. What is ironic is that most young, beginning bodybuilders long for something other than the look it takes to win. That something is what I call ANIMALIA – pure, animal-type muscle mass. Size. Power. Thickness. Hugeness. It’s what made Ferrigno, Park, Schwarzenegger, Oliva and now, the human house, Vic Richards, veritable legends in anyone’s time. Muscle mass. That’s what basic bodybuilding is all about. That’s why Bertil Fox remains the bodybuilder’s bodybuilder today. You even see this at physique contests, where bodybuilding connoisseurs come presumably to appreciate the more refined, more ripped look, rather than ogling the bulk masters. However, it’s the mass boys who garner the most applause, if not the paid airfares and qualifications to enter the Nationals or the pros. To a lesser and somewhat more unfortunate extent, the same thing applies to women’s bodybuilding. So be it. Bodybuilders still crave bigness and hard muscle mass more than anything else. Back in the mid ’60s, Sergio Oliva was regarded as the biggest bodybuilder around. The most massive man who ever lived. Sergio won the Mr. Olympia in ‘67, ‘68 and ‘69. In ‘69 he beat Arnold to win the title. Even though Oliva took a hiatus from the mid ’70s until 1984, he remained foremost in everyone’s mind as the most massive bodybuilder of all time, even more so than the great Austrian Oak. Today, however, a man lurking around Southern California, when you see him in the flesh, in the gym working out (pictures don’t do him justice at all), is probably more massive than even Sergio at his peak. That man is Victor Richards. What’s the secret to this huge muscle mass? It can’t be steroids. If it’s a given that 90% of your most massive bodybuilders have used steroids, if steroids-were the cause, they’d all be as big as Vic and Sergio – but they aren’t. The secret must lie elsewhere. I know most of you smaller guys out there, especially those of you who think you’ve tried everything to get big and haven’t, will attribute Vic’s and Sergio’s mass to genetic proclivity. Well, having been around powerlifting, football, weightlifting, arm-wrestling, shot- putting and bodybuilding for nearly 25 years, I believe this to be too simplistic. Granted, to rise to the top of any sport, you must have genetic advantages, but human physiology doesn’t vary much, and people can compensate for many genetic disadvantages. Gaining muscle size is not governed much by genetic factors as we understand them in other sports. Leverage is not a concern. Muscle fiber type is not much of a concern (it really doesn’t matter much since across the population there isn’t much variability), speed and quickness aren’t factors. Most people have testosterone levels within the same range. The fact of the matter is, I believe you could take nine out of 10 high school freshmen and train them to be massive bodybuilders – provided they had the desire and wanted to stick to the program long enough! Now maybe the nine you randomly picked wouldn’t get as big as Sergio or Victor, but I guarantee that doing the right things, they could indeed get massive beyond their expectations. Yes, Sergio and Victor both speak fondly about how their brothers could have been bigger than them, but it’s impossible to know how big anyone can be unless he actually tries to get big. I’m sure most of you have read that the only thing important for mass is using heavy weights all the time. If this were true, wouldn’t weightlifters who ONLY lift heavy weights be incredibly massive? Surprise – they aren’t. So, it’s obvious that the number of repetitions plays a part in overall size, in addition to poundage. So does the number of sets. If you do one set per exercise forget about getting MAXIMUM mass. This is not even a remote possibility! In effect, mass is produced by the type and frequency of your training and the types and amount of food or drink you consume. Bodybuilding’s most massive men do far more sets than average sized guys. Examination of Arnold’s, Sergio’s and Victor’s training routines reveals that all three preferred a high-set approach when training their individual body parts. Over the years, Chicago-based writer Norman Zale has on several occasions cataloged and described Sergio’s training routines. I myself studied Sergio’s methods in 1969 while he was pumping away in the old Duncan YMCA in Chicago. Sergio trained once a day following a full day of manual labor (before Sergio was one of Rogers Park’s finest, he worked long hours as a butcher and loading and unloading trucks, sometimes working double shifts). His workouts were long, intense, but steady-state in nature. Sergio literally flowed from movement to movement (and still does today), getting a thorough congestion in whatever body part he was training. The biggest animals seem to do nothing fancy either – they just whale away on basic movements, doing a lot of heavy sets with repetitions falling in the 10-12 range. A lot of times, they do half movements and partials. Indeed, this is a major reason Tom Platz was able to get his thighs so huge (that and an undeniable mental-physical capacity to push back discomfort barriers). SERGIO OLIVA TRAINING STYLE / ROUTINE / DIET I remember watching Sergio train his chest in 1969. At the time, Zale had taped the 5′9′ ‘235-pound Oliva at 56 inches for chest, 29 for waist and 21 for arms. Sergio supersetted bench presses with dips, doing 8-10 supersets with 225-275 pounds in the bench press and bodyweight in the dips. Curiously, he would do four three-quarter benches followed by a complete lockout rep and then another four partial movements followed by a full rep and so on for about 15-20 movements per set. In the dips he’d do the same, a series of partial reps followed by a full rep and so on for at least 20 reps. By the end of his supersets, Sergio’s chest was like a zeppelin. The point being, Sergio got massive doing a lot of sets, partials, higher reps and concentration on thorough muscle congestion. I’m sure a lot of you have heard the stories about Sergio’s prodigious eating over the years. Some of his staples included banana pancakes, chocolate shakes, colas and platefuls of eggs. Sergio was fond of drinking copious quantities of protein-milk mixes toward the end of his workout and right afterward. Sergio was a big eater of steak, eggs, pancakes and more. Too many youngsters who want to get big don’t get enough calories and don’t take in enough fat in their food. They also don’t consume enough mixtures of carbohydrates, from simple sugars to intermediates to long-chained sugars. Definition is different from mass. You can’t have it both ways. You can eat year round as if you were preparing for a contest and gain size very slowly (if at all). Or you can do what most big bodybuilders have done to get big – eat a lot of all foods and train hard and heavy. Contest diets, the ones you read about in the magazine, are for ADVANCED bodybuilders. VICTOR RICHARDS TRAINING STYLE / ROUTINE / DIET Victor Richards could write volumes on big eating and mass training. Vic’s legs are bigger and thicker right now than his upper body is, but he’s bringing his upper body up fast. When Vic began training, he started working on basic mass-building exercises, the kinds of movements that utilize a lot of muscle groups In multiple joint movements. Exercises like bench presses, squats and leg presses. Vic didn’t even do leg extensions or curls, two exercises that are universally considered separators, not mass-builders. Vic didn’t do flyes or concentration curls. Instead he did heavy dumbbell bench presses and heavy curls. He trained long and hard like a barbarian – in fact, he trained with the Barbarians, Peter and David Paul. Like Sergio, Victor worked on the basics. During his first organized, steady seven months of training, Vic’s weight went from 215 to 260 pounds and he used to spend two hours on leg training – just on squats alone. (Paul Anderson used to do the same thing and, with 37-inch thighs, he’s about the only guy who had legs bigger than Vic’s). Vic differs slightly from Sergio in that Vic likes to train heavier with lower reps. But then again, it should be pointed out that early in Sergio’s career (before he met Bob Gujda in Chicago), Sergio had been a weightlifter and consequently did lower reps in his training. While he was a weightlifter, though, Sergio secretly practiced bodybuilding reps and sets, which is why he looked the way he did, in comparison to other weightlifters. I guess both Vic and Sergio break conventional rules in the way they train for mass. Both use reasonably heavy weights, but neither seems to follow the conventional rest and recovery system or do the standard three sets of 6-8 reps for mass. Sergio should never have recovered from his long, arduous workouts on top of his manual labor but he did, the reason being that he replenished so well through his high-carbohydrate diet. Both men now seem to prefer higher reps and multiple sets. In fact, Victor states: Observing Sergio and Vic, we can establish that getting massive takes a lot of sets with reasonably heavy weights in the 8-15 rep range. But what about all of you who say you’ve tried this but dont get any bigger, you just overtrain? I say look to your diets! The more energy stored through your food, the less likely that you will overtrain on your mass program of basics because you can expand that stored energy to meet your demands and thus build muscle. Secondly, don’t try to use too much weight or always try to increase your training weights. Use reasonably heavy weights on basic exercises but do enough reps so you obtain a quality pump! Big eaters, if they also work out hard, get massive muscles. Victor, like Sergio, is a regular Diamond Jim Brady at the dinner table. Here’s what Vic says about eating for mass: It’s obvious that both Sergio and Victor consume thousands of calories per day and convert that caloric juice into muscle through long, heavy, hard workouts with emphasis on a quality pump. To get really MASSIVE, here are the basic requirements: 1. A lot of good food. Many big men get their extra protein and extra calories through protein drinks. Chicken and egg whites are staples. You also have to eat enough carbs and fats for energy and excess calories. 2. Basic workouts consisting of major exercises (as opposed to isolation exercises) such as bench presses, dumbbell bench presses, dips, behind-the-neck presses, inclines, rows, squats, leg presses and curls. 3. Do between 5-10 sets of your basic exercises and vary the repetitions from 8-15, or perhaps a couple more with leg training. Work at a good pace for a thorough congestion of the muscles. 4. Listen to your body. While Sergio grew large training every day and Vic did much the same, neither man repeated muscle groups without significant rest in between them. Vic has proved you don’t need to be a slave to any set system. You can come to the gym and just work the leg press or just work the dumbbell press, but make sure you do A LOT of sets while varying your reps. Make training challenging and fun, not the same old boring thing all the time. 5. There’s no doubt that anabolic steroids will make you gain mass faster. However, mass that’s earned the right way, naturally, through gobs of food and years of hard training, lasts and has better quality. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about any possible health-damaging steroid side effects. You can take all the steroids in the world and if you don’t work out hard and right and eat ample food, you won’t get anywhere! Vic and Sergio are bigger with more animalia than the rest of us because they’ve done things the right way – for mass! This article was written by the late Jeff Everson (1950 - 2019) who passed away in 2019 at the age of 68. His family said that he was complaining of leg and foot pain prior to his death, but he suspected the pain was caused from his previous hardcore powerlifting days and so passed it off as nothing serious. Jeff was married to Corinna "Cory" Everson (4 January, 1958 to present) who was a famous American female bodybuilding champion and actress. Cory won the Ms. Olympia contest six years in a row from 1984 to 1989 and is considered one of the best female bodybuilders ever. I hope Strength Oldschool fans have enjoyed reading this article. Here's a few great videos for you to watch based on Sergio Oliva and Big Vic Richards! Which bodybuilder is your favourite between Vic Richards and Sergio Oliva? And why? If anyone has any stories to share on either of these mass, genetic, bodybuilding giants, then please comment below. Thank you.
  14. Biscuit Oliva - Baki the Grappler - Based on Bodybuilder Sergio Oliva A really popular Japanese animation Manga series called "Baki the Grappler", written and illustrated by Keisuke Itagaki, ran from 1991 till 1999. I've never personally watched the series as I've only just heard about it but the really cool thing about the series is that one of the characters called "Biscuit Oliva", is based on Bodybuilding Legend, Sergio "The Myth" Oliva. Photo below: (left) Sergio Oliva pose (1972 Mr Olympia contest) - (Middle) The character 'Biscuit Oliva' - (right) Biscuit Oliva Toy Full photo of Biscuit Oliva... Based on the Manga cartoon of Biscuit Oliva, a collectors toy was made which looks pretty cool. As you can see from the model, the proportions are true to life, ha ha. Okay, maybe slightly exaggerated but Sergio was a genetic freak of nature and one of the best Mr Olympia winners EVER!! The "Biscuit Oliva" toy can be purchased here. The only thing I dislike about the toy and don't understand is why did the Japanese design the toy to look like Sergio had his hands in his pants!? Which unfortunately just looks totally wrong. I believe you can also watch the series "Baki the Grappler" on Netflex but I'm not 100 % sure. Sergio unfortunately passed away back in 2012 but I wonder if he was aware of the series and knew that one of the characters was based on him personally? He did travel to Japan for bodybuilding exhibitions in the past so he obviously made a powerful impression upon the Japanese fans with his physique. His Japan visits was pre-tricep tear days. You can clearly see how full both Sergio's triceps were in the photos below.
  15. Rare photo of Sergio "The Myth" Oliva from 1969 at Home Gym, Chicago. He looks utterly MASSIVE! Sergio won the Mr Olympia contest that year and we can see why. Sergio's physique from 1969 beats the hell out of today's Mr Olympia competitors by a mile!! Truly outstanding. Photo was clearly taken before Sergio's tricep incident which I believe happened after 1972, possibly '73 onwards. Anyway, soak this image up because its one of the best I've seen of Sergio. From head to toe, he was simply MASSIVE!!

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  16. I recently came across interesting booklets for sale on bodybuilding legend Sergio "The Myth" Oliva. Not sure how rare or genuine they are as I'm hesitant to buy. Has anyone seen these before or maybe even purchased? Are they worth buying? Sergio Oliva: "The Torso" Sergio Oliva: "On Tour - The Myth" Sergio Oliva: "The Bodyparts" * See additional photos in comments

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