AN EXCLUSIVE, EXPLOSIVE
Volume 3, Number 9
He’s been around the sport of bodybuilding for twenty-five years, so he definitely has a lot to say. And, he’s one man who isn’t afraid of telling it like it is!
man who is comfortable with himself, it doesn’t bother
MUSCLE UP: What’s “over the hill” in bodybuilding?
MU: Is there any special secret that keeps you in competition shape at 45?
EG: Dedication! It’s the love for the sport, the love for what you’re doing. As in any sport, when it’s continued from your youth, you can maintain a lot of it as you grow older. But I don’t think a guy at thirty-five can break into any sport and then at forty-five look good. That would be very hard, because the basic foundation has to be laid when you’re young, and then carried on. I started to train at 20, and I kept training. I never tired of the sport. Those who did are those who are not looking good anymore. They either took layoffs or they dropped out, maybe because of injuries or sickness, then tried to come back and never made it. After a certain age, and I don’t know exactly what it is, you just can’t come back. You can take a three- or four-year layoff in your 20s and bounce back, but it’s very hard to bounce back after 35. The muscles just won’t grow that fast; they won’t respond. The metabolism has slowed down, and the testosterone level — that builds the muscle in the male — is dropping all the time, every year. So the muscles just don’t have that fullness and roundness anymore.
MU: What title means the most to you?
MU: Do you find working out monotonous or boring?
MU: How have you changed your workouts over the years?
EG: Workouts don’t have to be longer, heavier, or harder as you get older, but they do have to be more intense — done faster, with less rest between sets. As a person ages, his metabolism slows down. Because of this, body fat accumulates easier. So for a man to stay muscular or for a woman to stay firm, you have to burn more. You could even say to yourself, “Where did this seven pounds come from? I eat no more than I did when I was 25!” It come because your system slowed down inside. The only way you are going to compensate for that is to burn more. In any way. It doesn’t even have to be exercise. It could be on your job, putting in more hours. It could be getting up an hour earlier in the morning — little tricks like that.
MU: Has your employment always been somehow connected with bodybuilding?
EG: I never made a living in bodybuilding until
three years ago, when
I turned professional last year too, and I’ve always placed in the money in every contest, but that’s not enough. Only the winner is in the big money.
MU: What major bodybuilders are training at World Gym right now?
MU: What are the basic differences between World Gym and Gold’s Gym?
EG: I think they are two great gyms, and I trained at Gold’s for years. I was offered a job at World, and that’s why I’m there. Both gyms have magic. I think you need two gyms to keep both gyms on their toes.
MU: Where do you stand on the free weights vs. machines controversy?
EG: Years ago everything was dumbbells and barbells. Then machines started coming out. Cables came first, then Nautilus, machines with pulleys, negative resistance on them, where the negative side of the movement is heavier than the positive side. All of it helps. It can’t hurt. But, the foundation has to be laid with the iron because you are restricted in a machine. You don’t have natural body movement. I think that machines are good for a little frosting on the cake, but I think that dumbbells and barbells – free weights – are here to stay.
MU: How do you feel about diets?
EG: Never think of a diet as a diet! Just think of it as your program of eating good, wholesome food. And that’s it. You shouldn’t think of it as “doing something." Because then, all of a sudden, you start to get a pissed-off attitude: you don’t want to do it. People are at a party, but it’s always tomorrow when they start their diet. That sets off something in your head so that you can’t stand tomorrow. That’s bad, very bad to think like that. You’ve killed it already. You’re just going to change your eating habits tomorrow, and you have to find a way that you can be happy eating certain foods.
Bodybuilders find it easy to say that you should eat health foods and stop smoking and drinking. But ask them to see if they can stop working out. They’re hooked on training! See if they could stop training. They can’t! It would be nicer to say, “Cut it down a little bit.” Everybody can do that.
MU: What would you tell a beginning bodybuilder to look for in a gym?
EG: Well, I would advise him to stay away from the spas. For some reason, I’ve never seen anybody who goes to the spas really make it big. You can’t even work up a heavy sweat because the air conditioning is turned too high. I would definitely gear him toward the local YMCA. That’s where I started. When you’re handing heavy iron – and the only way you’re going to get big muscles is by pushing yourself to handle heavy iron – a lot of times it’s going to fall when you put it down, and it’s doing to make noise. Drop a weight? You can’t in a spa. And if you always want to put the weight down like you’re in some sort of library, then you’re never going to extend yourself enough for the muscles to grow. You’ve got to growl, you’ve got to grind and grunt and spit, and whatever you’ve got to do, do. That’s where I think the YMCA’s have it over the spas.
MU: What is the biggest fault in young bodybuilders today?
EG: No patience!
He wants to do it quick, wants to finish it, get in and out of the gym,
looking for an easy way, looking for a secret, looking for the steroid trip to
bring him all the way through where he’s going to go. They don’t want to put their dues in. People who want things right away also get
disgusted at things faster. That’s what they lack that years ago fellows
had. They had more patience,
they were willing to wait a little longer.
Not today. Today everyone wants to go faster. The credit-card society. They ask, “You mean in three years I can’t
MU: What one thing would you advise a beginning bodybuilder never to do?
EG: Never set a goal for yourself, because no one
knows where you’re going in this sport.
Don’t put a title or a deadline in your head. Just play it by ear, day to day. Let me give you an example. Some bodybuilders
say, “Wednesday is my heavy day.” And I
look at them and laugh. You get up on
Wednesday morning, and your head is dragging already because you’re saying to
yourself, “Today is my heavy day in the gym.”
That scares you already! Now your
nervous system is shot because you’re burning energy thinking that when you go
to the gym today, it’s your heavy day.
Then you get to the gym, and the iron you want to move doesn’t move. Now you’re really pissed off, and that whole
workout does no good. You might as well
have stayed home. Maybe during tomorrow’s workout, which is supposed to be a
light day, you’ll still thinking, “How did I mess up like that yesterday?” It’s because you didn’t get up on the right
side of the bed – we have cycles in life, you know – and that’s it! And what if you feel like going heavy on
Tuesday? Are you going to hold yourself
back because it’s not your heavy day?
That’s nuts! You’ve got to take advantage of those good days! I go to the gym and put the iron in my hand
and if it feels like I want more, I put more on. If it feels that it’s a bad day – and it
could be a bad day for three days – you just have to go along with that. Like
MU: What one inherent physical quality gives a bodybuilder a distinct advantage?
Bodybuilding is a big man’s game. I can say that, because I’m not a big
man. I’m five-feet-five. No great short
man can beat a great tall man. Not on stage. Because a big man has the
advantage that he can hold more muscle and more bodyweight. He’s stretched out
more, not so condensed. What happens when the big short man starts to get very,
very big is that he starts to look shorter.
MU: If you took a group of top bodybuilders ten years ago and compared them with those now, what would be the major difference?
EG: Hang-ups! Years ago all bodybuilders, including me, had hang-ups. They would never take a glass of wine where anybody could look at them and say, “You drink!” They never had a cigarette if they smoked. Years ago bodybuilders used to go around bragging about how they didn’t have sex. “Hey, listen, all that sexual drive – I sublimate it! That’s why I look great, and that’s how I got all the energy to train!” Now we realize that it doesn’t hurt you or hold you back. It’s a relief; it’s like a valve letting some of the tension out. It doesn’t hurt you in strength! You know what hurts you in strength? If you have sex and stay up all night!
And there’s another thing bodybuilders didn’t have years ago; none of them had personalities. They all were withdrawn, introverted. Back then I never met a bodybuilder whose company I enjoyed. The guys I liked weren’t bodybuilders. I wouldn’t hang out with bodybuilders because to me they were boring. They did nothing in life, and they were always scared, scared! They wore long-sleeved shirts in the summer!
MU: What bodybuilder surprised you the most by making it to the top?
EG: There were so many that I can’t single anyone out! But I’ll say that no bodybuilder ever made it to the top that came from a wealthy family. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t think of anybody. It happens only when they’re hungry enough for recognition, self-esteem, power, or prestige that they can’t get some other way. Because bodybuilding is from the mind. You develop a body from the mind. You could lift all the iron you want, be in the gym every day, but if your head isn’t there controlling the muscles, it doesn’t work. That’s why, of the 500 guys who have trained at World Gym over the three years I’ve been working there, only a handful made it. I give them all the credit in the world for reporting to the gym every day like a job, but they never really get the most out of it. They do the routines I give them; they watch the stars train; they do the same routines; they ask questions; they know what to eat. Why don't they have the “lumps?” Because the head is not working, and they don’t even know it. No one can teach you that. When you pick up a barbell and curl for your biceps, if you’re not curling from your brain, from your mind, the muscles won’t grow. The muscles will pick up the weight, but they won’t grow.
MU: If you had to pick a bodybuilder who seemed to have the easiest road to success, who would it be?
EG: I never knew him personally, but the one who
comes to mind right off is Steve Reeves. He came from
MU: We know that bodybuilding has really had an upsurge in popularity lately. Why?
EG: The women did it! Whenever women become involved in anything, it shows up in the public eye. Women have that power. Any good politician always looks for the women’s vote. Women can sway their husbands. You know the power they have! That’s why women’s bodybuilding, in this short period of time, has received this much notoriety. Male bodybuilders, in all these years, never got as much play in the news media as women got in one year. The media cover every one of the women’s bodybuilding shows. You have to beg them to come to the men’s. Women’s bodybuilding will pull men’s bodybuilding right along with it, and they’ll drive it to the moon!
MU: Why do you think the media take so much interest in bodybuilders’ use of steroids?
EG: The media have to have some sport to condemn for steroid use, because sooner or later, as everybody knows, if it gets out of hand, people are going to start getting sick. They’re condemning bodybuilders for using steroids, but they never talk about the other sports that use them. And the reason for this is that there’s not enough money in the game for people to respect it as much, because in this country, the more money a sport has, the more respect it has. It’s not how good your people are, it’s the money. Football, baseball, basketball, all have big money behind them. That’s why they’re well respected, because they’re on TV a lot. We haven’t got that recognition yet. One day, if we ever do, you’ll see that all of a sudden people won’t ask about the steroid trip as much.
As far as using them, a lot of bodybuilders
use them. As far as working, I think
they do work. I don’t care that the
manufacturer says on the little label, “This will not enhance athletic
ability.” That’s bull! It works.
I’ve seen it work. But what happens is that some athletes will wonder,
“Is more, better?” And that’s like a kid
who grabs a bottle of wine and drinks it all.
But an adult who knows a little more will drink three glasses, and if he
starts to feel a little tipsy, he knows enough to stop. But you’ll always get a bunch of bodybuilders
who will say, “If three pills make me look this good, then six might make me
look better.” And it backfires. It’s just like being overtrained.
If you can become Mr.
MU: Is there anything positive in the future of steroids?
EG: I feel that if steroids were every put under a controlled program, really controlled, not only could they help the bodybuilder, but they might help the general population as well. It’s not a wonder drug, but I think it’s like a sophisticated vitamin.
MU: So you don’t think shows like
EG: In my opinion, that’s controlling someone’s
MU: What is your general impression of the worldwide organization of bodybuilding?
EG: The AAU/IFBB is the only game in town, as far as I’m concerned. You have to respect it for what it is. There’s prestige in winning the AAU Mr. America, because the AAU is hooked up to the Olympics.
MU: When you’re talking IFBB, you’re taking
EG: You have to have the
MU: What is your definition of playing politics in bodybuilding?
EG: Playing politics means playing ball with the organization that provides the greatest commercial potential. If you chose to play politics with either a large organization or a small organization, I think it would be pretty obvious that you would be losing with the small one. You’d be losing because the commercial potential is very limited with the small organization because you would get so much more exposure with the large one. That‘s the difference. It’s like Democrats or Republicans. How many presidents were ever elected if they weren’t Democrats or Republicans? If it’s the only game in town, you play it.
But to make it big commercially, a
bodybuilder has to have the magic, a kind of charisma. Like
MU: What is the reason so many bodybuilders are trying to get into show business?
EG: Because the bodybuilding you see on stage
isn’t a sport. It’s more
theatrical. I’ve always thought that.
The audience doesn’t go to the gym; they go to a theater. They see the end
product. They see no athletic ability on stage. The athletic ability is in the
gym, because you have to have balance to lift iron, plus strength and speed for
certain lifts and movements. So bodybuilding is really two different things –
an art on stage, a sport in the gym.
It’s not like boxing, for example, when you see a boxer in the ring who’s doing the same thing as when he trains. So I think the
bodybuilding promoters are trying to sell bodybuilding as a sport, when it
isn’t. It should go into show business.
But of course the macho bodybuilder doesn’t want to hear that! It should go into big theatrical
MU: Where do you see
EG: I know that I’ll be working in bodybuilding, probably doing the same thing. But I would also like to have a very, very good mail order business going. I have never sold anything with my name on it in all the years that I’ve been in the game, except for some 8” x 10” photos when I do my seminars around the country. Also I have a publisher interested in putting a book together about all the things I think are true about bodybuilding.
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