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are not interested in the exercises, the sets or the reps that you
perform, Mr. Drapeless; that you squat and practice deadlifts is
cute, but of no importance to us profound thinkers. What makes you
tick is the subject of our study and it’s the weird things
of your unhinged mind we wish to uncover. We at the Institute believe
we are close to determining the X-Correlation between man and baboon.
Your input is significant.
as always, Mr. Dripler, we thank you for you contribution -- or,
as your primate counterpart would say, “Whoop, whoop, whoop.”
remit you answers to the following scientific questions:
What motivates you to seek excellence?
for starters: If I don’t aim for excellence regularly, my
arrows land in the thicket. To be exact my twin motivators are the
dread of diminishing and the fear of mediocrity. I’d rather
be more tomorrow than I am today, not less. Excellence, whether
you play with marbles, rockets or weights, is a fulltime mission
and has its exasperating moments -- especially as the road stretches
out before you.
there are many more motivators; the company of the characters I
meet along the way and the hope of a glimpse of the supreme quality
should I approach it. Reaching for excellence, the stretching and
the striving, feels good in the limbs and the mind and the soul.
It’s an invigorating experience, unlike solitaire or Friday
nights at the laundromat. I’m motivated by the challenge and
the fulfillment of a day well lived, or you might say, a workout
that ripped. There are days I don’t know the difference.
inspires you on a daily basis?
got me there. Hope. Good. Overcoming evil? After the smell of fresh
roasted coffee and the morning songbirds, the towering redwoods
outside my front door and the love in wife’s eyes, my bag
is empty. The offerings are true, but who really cares?
certain the inspiration you allude to is something more original
and “real world” substantial. May I approach the question
from the less-used rear door -- a test of optimism -- and see if
anyone can relate? Inspiration can be found in the shadows.
I seldom wake up to inspiration. It’s there, yet I miss it
at first light. My immediate task is to right my body and fight
off the demons. The fight is a good one and the demons don’t
have a chance. As they topple I stand taller and thank God for the
strength. Herein lies my inspiration. It’s not so much the
good I might achieve; it’s the bad I ably discard -- the aches,
the doubts, the procrastinations, the guilt, the stress... those
familiar bedfellows. Get ye behind me.
a tough world, a struggle, and resistance is encountered at every
turn. My inspiration comes with every positive blow I land on the
negative forces that would otherwise hold me down. The junk, the
debris and the clutter under my feet and in my mind must be removed
lest they become insurmountable obstacles. Dump them. The lies and
liars, the cheats, the contemptuous, the troublesome, the jerks,
the one in 10 thousand that would destroy rather than build up,
these I do not invite in and make comfortable. I greet them, expose
them or walk them to the exit. It can be a long day.
you get to the gym and there it is: the refuge, a hard-earned peace,
the promise of tranquility in a set and in a rep, the friendly and
familiar sounds of metal meeting metal, the sure grasp of the bar
and the positioning of the body and the sudden and determined thrust
of muscle against steel. There’s order in weight lifting and
order is what I need, what I crave. Chaos reduces me to a cross-eyed
fool while the abrupt but tidy regulation of lifting restores my
sanity and good spirit. In 90 minutes, or whatever it takes, I will
be whole and fulfilled and grateful; inspired, maybe inspiring,
if only to myself.
Did you concern yourself with learning much about physiology and
nutritional biochemistry or did you just go by what others told
wouldn’t mind having formal background in these areas, but
I don’t. Not having been educated in any real depth has not
interfered with my regular progress. It has not once frustrated
me or left me wondering what the heck I was doing. Both nutrition
and physiology are fascinating subjects and must be important to
doctors and healers, but they remain 90 percent a mystery to me.
I know my hip bone’s connected to my leg bone and my leg bone's
connected to my foot bone.
I know I picked up from listening, observing, reading sufficiently,
applying and experiencing. I strongly believe that concern about
these areas would have interfered with my straight-forward thinking,
logic and personal trust -- my instincts -- and frustrated my muscular
growth. Spare me the details and take me to the gym. I’ve
got work to do. Have you asked Sergio Oliva this question? Just
curious. What would Steve Reeves have to say?
You say you started lifting as a boy and as time went by almost
by accident your body took shape. At what point did it become a
real science for you or do you feel weightlifting is more about
instinct than science??
is for scientists.
don’t regard weight training any more a science than the ordinary
act of growing from infanthood to adulthood. You naturally gather
and assimilate information from your environment and apply it in
a positive direction -- crawling and growing up, maybe squats and
curls. You practice it, organize it, observe and expand it, improve
it and grow. The more I intellectualized, the less I understood
my training. The more I questioned what I did, the less confident
I was. The more I researched, the more tedious the act became. “Do
it,” is my credo. It doesn’t work, do it again... another
learned about protein and its importance from my mother, and everybody
with a brain knows sugar and junk food is bad for you. I was a kid.
I lifted weights and my muscles grew. I was in high school. I lifted
harder and my muscles grew bigger and stronger. Science 1A.
Muscle Beach dungeon was the university of superior learning and
the characters who trained there were the instructors and professors
in ragged t-shirts. It was 1963. I was 21 and supersetting intensely.
The crash course took a few years and I’ve been active ever
since -- modifying, adjusting, tuning by ear.
Do you feel weightlifting is more about instinct than science?
a mix of the two and I suppose it depends on the personality/mentality
of the willing and able individual. Give me instincts and a dash
plenty of science if that’s what fascinates you and makes
this business of building muscles more understandable. I know this;
when I won Mr. America and Mr. Universe, I never heard of the techniques
and terminology and ingredients that are being propagated or advertised
in the magazines and on the Internet today. If I was stepping into
the arena of bodybuilding for the first time and thought it was
as complicated and scientific as it appears, I’d give it up
and become a nuclear physicist instead.
not be led astray. This wonderful sport is built on basics and simplicity,
hard work and devotion. And, yes, brains, but the brains of a mother
or miner, carpenter or store clerk, pastor or cop.
you need to know carbs from protein and supersets from single sets,
but after that it’s hard work, involvement, consistency, focus,
discipline, courage and prayer... on the gym floor. Never give up,
never doubt and be strong.
Query: Do you believe genetics plays an important role in body shaping
or is it all hard work and dedication?
course, genes are significant determining factors in our muscle-building
potential. All the training and determination an adult might rally
cannot add one inch or one-tenth of an inch to his height or change
his hip-to-shoulder ratio. However, the real musclebuilder comes
from the heart, and his hard training and impervious determination
decide the grand total of his possibilities. You can beat a rug,
but you can’t beat a bodybuilder with heart.
dare say there are one or two giant muscle guys walking across the
stage who don’t have the heart, but they do have a dandy pharmacist.
You have said that nothing you possessed in the way of large bone
structure or body chemistry was outstanding. If this is true then
what do you believe was the most important element to your accomplishments?
can’t complain about being six feet tall and having bones
like clubs and that I wasn’t shaped like a pear when I was
a kid. Big relief. But somewhere along the way I got the desire
to be muscular, strong and respected. This desire was girded by
one word, determination, we have single most important element.
Yet, attached to that single element, like tin cans strung to an
alley cat’s tail, are perseverance, commitment and hope. Discipline
and patience come later as the tug and rattle of tin has you ripping
You often speak of weight lifting as glorious. What do you mean
by this? Is weightlifting a spiritual experience for you?
exactly. It’s wonderful hard work; it hurts, it’s irritating
and can be harmful, if you’re not smart and we are not always
smart. It’s time consuming, obsessive and often boring. You
never seem to improve no matter what you do; it’s either too
much or not enough. That’s nothing, you miss a work out and
you get nervous, you miss two and you can’t talk civilly with
anyone and if you miss three it’s best you don’t go
out in public or near a ledge.
come to think of it, weight training is not a religious experience.
strange thing is -- and I’m not a lone maniac -- we love it.
It’s absolutely amazing, soul energizing, irresistible and
addictive, character building, mind clearing, stress reducing, actually
muscle building, fat eliminating and bone strengthening. It’ll
take a broken person and fix that person, body, mind and spirit,
and I’m not making that up or repeating what I heard or read.
Lift long enough and I notice arrogance is replaced by humility
and fear by courage and selfishness by generosity and rudeness by
compassion and caring. It demands, teaches and instills respect
and responsibility. It’ll bring you to your knees.
come to think of it, weight training is a religious experience.
here, AKA the Baboon Bomber, wondering where those people come from.
I would like to take them for a spin and dump them in a jungle...
or Gold’s Gym. They’d be lunch.
already and the sky is clear. Keep your eye on the altimeter...
and your glorious training.
Script: The above is a compilation of two neat interviews I did
for one commendable magazine and one ebook. I hope they don’t
hit me with a high-carb wet noodle for offering the material to
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