Interviews with Friends & Mentors

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Comfort In Being Uncomfortable
I have been blessed to have some really hard workouts over the years. Most training sessions are productive – but not all can be balls out, if you did you would some hit a brick wall in a few weeks. 
I am a big advocate of trying the best I can to comply with mother-nature. But every now and then you can catch her off guard and really pull something special out of the bag.

This was one such day in 2004
Steam was rising from my face – I watched it snake its way up between raindrops into the dark rain filled clouds. The cold hard concrete felt like heaven – laid on my back in a puddle – I could not give a hoot – it felt so good in contrast to legs – on fire – stabbing pains even – as the body tried to disperse the lactic acid trapped in the pump.
Breath laboured, body heat of the charts, rain on my face cold concrete on my back, so comfortable being un-comfortable.

I looked over to my left – Andy and Rob – same position, same pain – same comfort. 
”Who’s f***ing idea was that?” Said Andy in a laboured but proud tone, knowing that we had accomplished something out there – something all three of us would really never forget.

Roll back time to around an hour 

We are warming up for squats -in Bodyindesign studio in Morley Leeds, one of my early PT gyms, a ground floor industrial unit on a business park. 

There is a crew of four – little me – Andy Barber – Rob Cory – Chris Mchugh.
To this day I don’t know who threw this idea in the ring.
But I do know it was leg day and as always squats were the main course. 

But the idea was there – 10 sets of squats for 10 reps – with 3 plates – 140kg – not one of willing to look ‘un-manly’ before we knew it we were warming up.
Bar 20 reps – 20kg a side 10 reps – plate a side 10 and so on, on the last couple of sets 2 plates and 2 and a half plates – just a couple of reps each to acclimatise – not tire. 

By now the butterflies in my gut were doing acrobatics – 2 and a half plates did not feel easy. But it was time to man up, Rob, Chris and Andy were and are today very strong big lads.
The 3rd plate slapped and banged on to each side of the bar – for affect and aggression. Belt cinched tight, set the bar on my traps – lift step back – down -drive – up -1 rep – repeat till 10. Rack, step out – get in line – to spot the next one before you.
This worked well with the four of us – you got time to recover and everyone got spotted and gave a spot.
This was not worked out between us or strategised – but just fell into place as good training partners tend be able to do. Communicate – by grunts nods and pointing, with the odd swear word for affect and urgency.
Man down
So we fell into the basic hard labour of this – by four sets – the reality had set in -things began to hurt. Set five went down – then man down. Chris decided he we were all f’ing mad – and despite all the name calling you could come up with and some you don’t even know, the door shut behind him. Chris is as strong as a bull and routinely squats over 200kg – real squats. But reps – reps are not his thing – never was never will be.
So just the three of us – 5 sets to go. Legs – back – traps – even my face hurt. Its at times like this you fight with your mind. Your rational mind says “what the hell are you doing?”. 
The bodybuilder mind says – “dig in – get this done -you can and will do this”. 
Less rest now – I only had time to open the door – its cold and raining but the air hits me like its best feeling ever. 
I suck in huge gulps and then get back in line on wobbly legs.
Set 6 to 9 went in a blur – by now the mind had switched off and you just moved – just did. 
For some reason set 10 was an absolute bastard. Maybe it was because you was so near to the end but yet so far, maybe I let my guard down and saw the end point and relaxed. I don’t know, 10 reps seemed never ending and I noted the same with Rob and Andy. 
Its working hard like this that bonds you for life – even if life takes you on another direction – there will always be that discomfort you shared along with a goal achieved.
So here we are outside in the rain sprawled out on the cold wet concrete happy as Larry.
Legs killing – so uncomfortable but comfortable. 

A great workout shared by awesome friends to this day. 

Love to ya all Ian

My Most Result-Producing Routine By John Heart

We all perform certain bodybuilding routines with an eye on one thing…RESULTS…and those results are measured by how much muscle growth is produced by said routine.


Does your current routine bring results?

How many of the routines that you tried brought little to no results?

What was your most result-producing routine of all-time?


I’ve asked myself these questions and have a clear number one and number two routine that rival each other for muscle growth. At the same time, I have a clear cellar-dweller in the growth department that brought next to zero results.


Let’s take at look at them after I throw in this one caveat;


In order for a routine to be judged fairly on its ability to grow muscle,

It must have been performed while eating a diet containing a surplus

of calories

Periods of dieting, or preparing for a competition don’t count in my

opinion, as “mixed messages” of GROW and GET RIPPED are being

sent to the body simultaneously



This Shot Of John Was Taken In Golds Gym At The Time Of The IR Mentioned Here x

This Shot Of John Was Taken In Golds Gym At The Time Of The IR Mentioned Here x


My #1

My clear #1 is the “Ideal Routine” by Mike Mentzer. It was around 1994 the first time I hit this routine, and when I did, I REFUSED to change it for almost 5 years! Mike gives all details of this routine and how to make all necessary adjustments in his well-written book Heavy Duty 2 Mind and Body which can be purchased at

In my case, I took the principles of his book and applied them to myself, as well as customized the routine to my own body. I took 96 hours between workout days and did only one set of everything after appropriate warmups. Supersets listed were performed with literally zero rest.

Here’s what it looked like for me;


Workout 1—Chest & Back

Flat DB Fly 1 set X 10-12 reps

supersetted with

Incline Machine Bench Press 1 X 1-3 plus 2 Forced & 2 Negative Reps

Nautilus Pullover Machine 1 X 10-12

supersetted with

Undergrip Close-Grip Pullups 1 X 1-3 plus 2 Forced & 2 Negative Reps

Deadlifts 1 X 6-10


Workout 2—Legs (w/barbell Squats)

Seated Leg Curl 1 X 8-12 plus 2 Forced & 2 Negative Reps

supersetted with

Squats 1 X 6-10

Standing Calf Raise 1 X 8-12 plus 10 Rest/Pause Reps


Workout 3—Shoulders & Arms

Lateral Raise Machine 1 X 8-12

supersetted with

Barbell Military Press 1 X 1-3 plus 2 Forced Reps

DB Bent Laterals 1 X 8-12 plus 3 Rest/Pause Reps

Cable Preacher Curl 1 X 6-10

supersetted with

Undergrip Close-Grip Chins 1 X 1-3 plus 2 Forced & 2 Negative Reps

Tricep Pressdowns 1 X 6-10

supersetted with

Dips 1 X 1-3 plus 2 Forced & 2 Negative Reps


Workout 4—Legs (no Squats) & Abs

Leg Extensions 1 X 12-20

supersetted with

Leg Press 1 X 6-10 plus 3 Rest/Pause Reps

Seated Calf Raise 1 X 12-20

Nautilus Abdominal Machine 1 X 12-20


***This was MY version of Mike’s IR routine, which I customized for MY body. For details on how to do it for yourself, refer to the book I’ve cited***




When I began this routine, I had already been training for 8 years or so, and THAT is why it was so amazing! Technically, I was an advanced bodybuilder who had not only trained for years but had also competed with success. I wanted RESULTS. The fact was that I had originally started training on Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty 1 routine (my #2 fave routine) as a beginner and made fabulous progress with a large muscular gain of 20 pounds. That was as a beginner. Once that stage had passed, I had to kick and scratch for every fraction of a pound, UNTIL the Ideal Routine came along. On this exact routine, my body blasted up with new muscular gains. The change was so noticeable that I was asked by many about the drugs I was using! On the scale, there was a big initial jump accompanied by a small amount of fat (remember, I was on a calorie surplus type of diet), which I didn’t mind. Were the gains like my beginner increase of 20 pounds? No, not really. They were more thrilling than that because I was so advanced! Imagine, busting through your biggest plateau, one that lasted for a few years, and thinking that you’ve tapped out your genetics BUT then here comes a routine that flips your world upside down in a great way! That’s what the Ideal Routine did for me.

Because of this routine, I was only spending 15-30 minutes of actual training in the gym once every 96 hours. I had a life. I could take on more business as a personal trainer (which I still do to this day, along with online coaching/training…see ), and I could enjoy more quality relationships with people outside of the gym as I was no longer chained to the gym performing routines that literally took longer than most part-time jobs, but paid zero in the way of wages!

***It’s worth noting that I did start off right as a beginner. Having trained on Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty 1 Routine (find that book on Mike’s site as well) for 2 years before losing my mind and training on the more popular 3 day on/one day off routine for 5 or 6 years, it was a blessing to get back to the lower volume and ultra-high intensity type of routine***



My Cellar-Dweller Experience


While I’ve tried many routines over the last 35 years, there is one that stands out as bringing the least results. The Superslow training routine was never a routine by design as much as a routine that was based upon the technique of super-slow motion exercises performed in the name of eliminating nearly 100% of any momentum used to lift a weight. In theory, this sounds great, and I gave it my best effort more than one time. Most long-range repetitions were performed with a 10-0-5 cadence (10 second negative, 0 second static, 5 second positive), with shorter range repetitions going 5-0-3 cadence. If there was an opportunity to take advantage of a peak contraction, I would change the 0 static to a 1 and consciously hold that rep hard before lowering.

I kept the workouts basic as always with not resting much between sets. Hitting a single set of 5 or 8 reps could take 75-120 seconds, which was kind of long, and required endurance. The sets were kept to 1 per exercise. To be honest, I can’t even give you the exact routine I used verbatim since I try to forget bad experiences in my training once they’ve been dismissed.

That was my first experience with Superslow. I stuck with it for 10-12 weeks hoping for more, but nothing special happened. Eventually I ran into a guy from Superslow in Florida and he told me I needed to slow it down even more on the positive portion of the rep, so that I would be performing reps at a 10-0-10 cadence. While it seemed more intense to my mind, it was not hard on my body like it needed to be.

The Superslow routine, technique, whatever you want to call it, was a near-bust the first time I used it. After the advice of the guy who worked with Superslow, I used it two more times and planned on giving it 10-12 weeks each time. On my second round with it, I did complete 10 weeks with no results. On the last hopeful attempt, I only went 6 weeks before dropping the routine/technique entirely on my own body. I learned that the artificially slow cadences are so unnatural that they became boring after a while…and if there’s one thing that’s true about bodybuilding it’s that even if the training is brutal, you must be motivated and gain excitement from some aspect of the training, whether it be from the workout itself, or the results. If there is no motivation or excitement, YOU’LL SIMPLY QUIT.

Superslow was, and is, useless in my own training arsenal.


My Routine Works, So Why Change It?


Once I had hit upon my favorite all-time routine, I was extremely reluctant to change it. I did make necessary changes such as adjusting the volume and/or frequency of those workouts to milk it for almost 5 years. Mike Mentzer saw my progress and urged me to go further by switching to his Consolidated Routine (again…check Heavy Duty 2 Mind & Body) but man, I LOVED the Ideal Routine! I knew in my heart and mind that my body would eventually adjust to the IR routine and I’d have to change. That’s what the human body does…it adjusts to every stress that it’s presented with.

I knew these facts and eventually changed my routine. On occasion, I can dip back into the well and hit that IR for 6 weeks or so before changing it up again. Why go back there? Because I enjoy that routine and am highly motivated to hit it intensely for brief periods before going with a different one.

This all may seem confusing to the reader who assumes that a routine must remain the same once it’s been discovered to be effective, but that’s not how our bodies work and certainly guarantees the eventual plateau.

If your current routine has run its course, be honest with yourself, then decide. You’re not a rat on a wheel performing endless amounts of work in the gym but still hoping and praying for progress that’ll never come. If there’s no progress in any 6-8 week period, then it’s time to make a change, and sometimes those changes can be radically different from what your buddies in the gym are doing! Be bold enough to do what’s necessary for you to make progress regardless of what others think, and you may find yourself in the gym only once every 3 or 4 days, like I was, and leading a very productive life outside of the gym!




Twitter            @JHeartMrA

Facebook         John Heart

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Author page



Some Of John’s Competitive Results

2001 Natural Mr Universe –1st/Tall
2012 INBF Mr America –1st Lightheavy
2013 INBF Mr America–1st Lightheavy
–Overall Winner
–WNBF Pro card
Competed multiple times and currently as a WNBF Natural Pro BB…check his site for pictures/placings





From Prince To King Of Back Training

I was a young lad of 19 when I started training with a man with an awesome physique that took me under his wing, literally.

My third training training partner up to that point in my training life who probably made the biggest influence to my young mind and training that still stand me today.

His name was Ian Prince a 27-year-old policeman that must have seen something in me to allow me to train with him.

Ian took no prisoners –if you pardon the pun and trained incredibly hard with a style that was pure quality and instilled in me hard work, mind connection and free but perfect style of exercise.

Now Ian also impressed me with the way he presented himself.

As you can see from the photos here he was and still is a good size.

I never saw Ian move other than like a cat, strong supple athletic. Yes even at his size there was no edge to him at all, something I have never forgotten.

You would think also by the photos his best body part would have been legs, they where huge-but yet he walked normal, not like Godzilla like so many do with half the size legs Ian had.

Ian’s whole physique was awesome but his back was otherworldly –I asked Ian for an article on training back …enjoy.


Ian Prince

Ian Prince


Hi Ian thanks for inviting me to comment on back training.

I have always thought that this area is one of the hardest to get to grips with, not only are you unable to view your progress very well- but in order to effectively train and isolate your back muscles and progress you need to have a fair bit of strength in your hands and forearms and be able to get your mind into those complex set of muscles to get sufficient stimulus without using your arms and shoulders.


I remember being in Scarborough during the summer. I had been training for a couple of years and looked quite good it was 1981. I was wearing a vest and shorts and attracted quite a lot of looks, as bodybuilders weren’t very common I was looking in a shop window when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

I turned around and two middle-aged women were next to me.

One of the women said, ” You look good but you’re back needs sorting out ”

I was startled but before I had chance to say anything they walked off.

Well, I was training at home in my garage at the time as there were no good gyms in the Hull area I had some homemade equipment and plenty of weight but nothing for a great back workout.

I decided chins were the answer so I open ended the garage doors slightly, wedged them and placed a steel bar across the top and started chinning.

I did sets of 12 reps working up to a total of 10 to 12 sets varying hand spacing and using a false overhand grip.

I continue to chin to this very day I have a chinning bar in my home gym and do sets of 12 to 20 and use 4 different hand spacing’s. Close, wide, underarm and a fist grip where my hands are on a bar which is at 90 degrees to the chinning bar which is obviously the stronger more natural position.


As I have said to be able to work your back properly you need good core strength, be strong in the hand, wrist and forearm so these don t tire out first before your back.

So in back training your hands are just hooks and your arms rods which attach to the back and it is important to see them like that, nothing else.


In chinning I always use a false grip that is all fingers and thumbs over the bar, which takes emphasis from the flexor and extensor in the forearm.

I use thin strap on padding which cushions the palm of my hand on the bar for the simple reason that the callouses I do have on my hands don t become too painful and take my mind off the exercise.


Ian was balanced and fluid x

Ian was balanced and fluid x


I grip the bar with the overhand and allow my body to drop bending the bottom of my legs up backward I then relax and slowly forgetting about my hands and arms concentrate on using the bottom of my lats to start the upward pull as I get higher towards the bar I bring the rest of my lats into play and at the top of the range tilt my head back to allow the top of my chest to come near the bar at this point I am at full contraction, the rest of my body is still, hence the need for good core strength, I then lower myself slowly and completely stretch out at the bottom.

It is probably quite hard for any beginner to be able to isolate the lats in this fashion that’s why back training is so hard.

I currently do 8 to 12 sets of 12 to 20 reps in this fashion and use the varying hand spacing’s to hit the lats in differing areas


When I have taught beginners the art of chinning I always get them to start with the under arm grip with hands supinated as it is a much stronger pulling position for them as biceps give assistance and it is only by sheer practice and hard work that good chinning can be achieved It just is not easy and many give up and resort to lat pull downs and other similar exercises


Once the beginner has gained chinning strength and control of their core therefore being able to keep steady through the movement and has built up to 10 or more good reps in this fashion do I progress them onto the overhand grips.


I never chin to behind the neck as I feel this is un-natural movement for the body and does not allow for a good stretch and contraction I also find it very uncomfortable.


Once a person has mastered the art of back isolation and built up the required strength in hands arms and core then they will find chinning very rewarding and let’s face it you don t need a fancy bit of gym equipment to do it either.


I find chinning quite a spiritual experience believe it or not that keeps me in touch with the muscles in my body.


I also do other back exercises such as bent over rows deadlifts and pull downs but chins are the epitome of back training for me.

Cheers Ian




Thank you Ian for this article –see you soon my friend Ian

Time With The Master Robby Robinson

This article was written in 2008 I hope you enjoy it Ian x

Time With The Master Robby Robinson

Day 1- Sun 21st Sept

I got up at my normal time of 4:00am, had a bath and a shave and got dressed, all the while trying not to disturb the family. Stood in the kitchen eating an oatcake and drinking a strong black coffee, my mind settled on the sort of mixed feelings I was having. Yes, I was excited for my trip and I anticipated all I would absorb and be able to use in the future, but I also felt sad that my family was not going with me.

What with the kids in school and Louise not being able to have time off work I would be travelling alone. Chris, my old buddy came round for me, to take me to Manchester Airport. After leaving the family a note, I popped my bags in the boot and I was on my way, the start of a long journey.

Everything went smoothly, the airport check ins and other what not’s all went fine and I was soon on a Virgin Atlantic flight bound for LAX Airport- with 11 hours of flying ahead, I am glad that they let me on the plane with my trusty oatcakes. I used the time to read (as always) and to write some business goals and a new business structure. I have a ton of ideas and goals and they all need a structure, otherwise they get lost between the ears and never see the light of day, so I sat and dissected each and every one. Yes, I will improve my business further with this trip, but I will also get time to look after me.

Believe it or not, being the top trainer that I am, I am very busy. This leaves little time for ‘me’. I try to give to family and clients and this makes for really unsociable hours of working out. It’s work at 4:50am, train at 5:30am, work by 6:15am. I can only do my own training 3 days a week tops; as with all the hours and how active I am there would be no recovery time. So this week will be a chance to train when I want, eat good food and not rush around. To relax after a workout for a little while- never happens- so it will be a nice change- watch me be bored, ha-ha.

The Meeting with Robby

When the plane landed, feelings of apprehension built up in me, knowing I was going to meet with someone very famous in our world. After a lengthy, drawn out customs procedure I claimed my bags and moved outside into the street level of LAX Airport.

Soon after a black Ford jeep pulls up and out steps Robby and his partner Arden. Robby just grabs my hand and gives me a hug, and then so does Arden, who is tall and elegant with long blonde hair. Robby-who is dressed in a black long sleeved t-shirt and trousers – looks muscular, sleek and athletic. The way he moves defies his age.

One of the first things I noticed about Robby is his impeccable manners- as he even walks round to open the car door for Arden. Where has that gone? (Louise and I were only talking about that the other day- another article perhaps.) After a chat about the flight and what not, Robby says, “Let’s get you something to eat.”


In a shot we are at The Firehouse, a very famous restaurant that caters for bodybuilders, and it is walking distance from the famous Gold’s Gym. I sat there tucking into my buffalo pate and rice and veg. Chatting along with this lovely couple, with the sun blazing outside just blew my mind. One minute it seemed I was in bed at home and the next I’m here. Very surreal.

The Master And Pupil x

The Master And Pupil x


Later Robby and Arden dropped me off at the Foghorn Harbor Inn. A beautiful little hotel-that overlooks the marina and has a beach right on its doorstep. Just beautiful, I checked in and made my way to my room. After unpacking I decided to go for a walk. Just heading out of the door Robby calls on the phone to ask if everything is ok and if I am settled. I thank him and he says, “I will pick you up in the morning for a workout.”

Oh yeah, I thought, I’m going to train with the man!!!


I spent a good two hours walking and getting my bearings. I have been here twice before and can vaguely remember how to get about. Being a coffee lover, I searched out the nearest Starbucks. I found one not far from the beachfront and went in to get my fix and was amazed to find you can get a shot of protein in it. I didn’t, but I got a coffee to take out and walked around with it to look all American like


My Room Was Right On The Front x

My Room Was Right On The Front x

 Day 2 – Workout 1

Very little sleep as always, I spent the night looking at the clock and was excited at the prospect of the day ahead. After a breakfast of oats, honey and protein powder I headed onto the beach with my bag of books and writing pad. As I write and look out at the view, a young lad behind me in the parking area conducts a boot camp style workout.

What a life, eh?

After writing and planning- time, income and the sale of the new DVD- I took a walk around the marina. As I headed around the Marina I came across Marina Fitness Gym- with a fitness café below it. This once again was overlooking the marina. I looked at my watch –time was going real slow—time for something to eat though, so headed in the cafe

I ordered oats and egg whites-the menu on the wall called it- Lou’s Special- like my little man I thought. As I sat overlooking the Marina eating this, I thought about how health orientated is this. Anybody who cares about the way they look and if their life is built around ‘the iron’. – “You Must Come Here.”

It’s Disneyland for the bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast.

Around lunchtime Robby and Arden picked me up and we headed to Marina Fitness- right above where I had a meal earlier. First we sat outside for 5-10 minutes, where upon Arden filmed Robby and myself talking about training, nutrition and supplements. This ended up being quite extensive and deep. We then headed into the gym for a Shoulders and Arms workout.

This was to be a Giant Set type workout, thereby going from one exercise to another. I have always prided myself on being able to put myself in a position of muscle stimulation, but Robby took me to another level. The setting up of my body prior to movement was a big factor and staying there through the entire set, is what killed you.

Here is what we did, the entire session lasted around 45 minutes:

Standing Front Press for delts, Seated Lat Raise, Bent Over Lat Raise, Close Grip Press, Curls, Overhead Cable Pushouts, Cable Curls. We then started the whole process again with a little more weight; the aim was 12 reps on the first round, 8-10 on the second, then 6 on the third. I could not believe how much I could feel the muscle with the prompting from Robby on form.

The entire workout was filmed as were the others and some of it will be on Robby’s site, then for sale soon after. The filming is something I will have to do with my clients in the future as you can only absorb so much at once and the luxury of having a DVD to watch time and time again will allow you to soak up as much as possible. Knowledge is power and you can never learn enough or know it all- never stop learning.

After the workout, we had a post workout drink of juice, glutamine and flax oil and then headed off for some much needed food. Robby and Arden took me to the farmers market. This I was blown away by- rows upon rows of organic natural foods. One part of the store had a point in which you picked some meat and it was cooked for you while you waited- I picked buffalo pate again, Robby a beef skewer and Arden a chicken skewer. We then purchased rice and veg from other departments and sat down to eat it.

Like I said it is a bodybuilders’ Disneyland.

Later Robby and Arden dropped me back at the hotel and I had time to reflect. It was just an awesome day- learnt a lot- trained hard and enjoyed every minute.

I cannot wait till tomorrow’s Chest and Back workout.

Day 3 – Workout 2

I awake with a start on the day. Right away I took my morning supplements that Robby had structured out for me for the days ahead, I washed these down with cold, clean water. After morning rituals I headed out for breakfast at the Marina Fitness café. I had the usual- oats, egg whites and blueberries with a black coffee and more supplements.

I will write more about supplements at another time when I know more about their role in how Robby has structured them. After that awesome breakfast I was ready for anything. I was scheduled to meet Robby and Arden at 9am for Chest and Back work after which they planned to take me to the Santa Monica Stairs, all 198 of them going all the way up and of course down. With the time I had between breakfast and the workout I headed to the beach to do a little more writing.



Neck Press x

Neck Press x


The Workout

We hooked up outside the gym and once again did a little filming before heading inside for the workout. Chest and Back was the order of the day. Here is what we did:

To start with we did an exercise that Robby has done for years for opening out the lats, hard to explain, but it is a little like a vacuum pose. I found this exercise a lot harder on the muscles than it looked. But thought it would be fantastic for those clients that struggle with a lat spread and the front relaxed pose, as it really helped you open up. After a little band work for posture.

We then move to Low Pulley Rows using a handle that Robby explained was used by all the greats in the sport – Arnold, Edd Corney, Zane, the original Gold’s gang- and it was made by Joe Gold himself. It made the Low Rows even more special, I tell you, knowing the history behind the bar. We did these much different to what I had done in the past and I felt them really deep in the whole of my lat. We did one set of 12-15 reps. Again guys all this will be available on the DVD.

We then moved to Dead lifts in the rack. Again style was the main focus and correct body mechanics at all times, we did a set each of ten reps. Chest was up next- Robby expressed that he was a great fan of Vince Gironda and had always wanted to train with him but never got the chance. Robby also said he has used some of Vince’s techniques for many years.

Hence we moved on to a Flat Bench Neck Press-like a bench press but the bar travels more towards the upper peck neck area. This will place the stress a little more on the upper pec area. We did a set each with a weight that allowed 12 reps.

Next up we did a Dumbbell Flat Bench Press for 12 reps, very strict movement with a hard contraction and a deep stretch. Over the years I have read in articles ‘squeeze the contraction, feel the movement, concentrate’– and I have done that, but not on this level. I had been well and truly schooled.

We then headed back through the gym to the Low Pulley Row, with the priceless handle in tow. In fact it went everywhere with us, it was like another training partner. We add weight and Robby again went through a picture perfect set and then made sure I got a perfect set also by constantly- encouraging and correcting- “Come on Ian, I’m going to get my reps, make me work now, come on”- in that deep unmistakable voice. I got 10 reps here.

Then it was back to Dead Lifts, with again a little more on the bar. We followed this up with Neck Press again, a little more weight, a little more feel and even better reps- 10 reps each. Dumbbell Press next –yes you are getting the sequence, 10 reps again.


Rack Dead Lifts

Rack Dead Lifts x


After this we did two sets of Pullover and Press- 85lbs for Set One and 75lbs for Set Two with an even deeper stretch. This was a great movement that I felt in the lats and chest. This was the hardest movement for me, as Robby demanded a deep; deep stretch hence the lighter weight on the second set. We finished up the workout with a set of Chins.

All the time that I had spent with Robby and Arden I had never seen any of Robby’s physique, he constantly wore a Built T shirt, sometimes two- and a vest. With a little prompting from Arden and myself he took his tops off in the studio room. As you can see from the shots, he looks fantastic- this is Robby’s everyday look, a physique that is built with good clean foods and clean living and training. Drugs in the sport were responsible for a very small part of his bodybuilding efforts, he built his size the natural way and that’s why today at 62, yes he is 62 in these photos, he looks like he does.


Inspiring Or What x

Inspiring Or What x


Peak !!!

Peak !!!


After a post workout drink in the Jeep, we headed for the Santa Monica steps. These famous steps were situated in the Santa Monica Valley. I was surprised to see a horde of people on them- some even held light dumbbells and pumped away with their arms as they went up and down them. We parked at the top and headed all the way down the 198 steps, and then we began the climb.

They were very steep and it really got stuck into the hips, glutes and calves. Robby and myself did a round then Arden, then it was Robby and I again followed by Arden. This was followed by an ice-cold regulator drink with added Glutamine by Robby and Arden. Everything was taken care of. This was something they did to a fault- they looked after me like you wouldn’t believe. They were very thoughtful and caring- the passion for this- just jumps out at you.

Drinking the ice cold post workout drink and looking out over the valley, was just heaven and it was a beautiful day. After that fantastic workout and stair climb it was time for another meal. Robby and Arden knew of just the spot. They took me to a beautiful little restaurant that is frequented by Hollywood stars and sports celebs whereupon we ordered and tucked into a ‘Trainer’s Special’ as the menu said- egg whites, rice, fruit and whole-wheat pancakes.

In between eating, we filmed a little more and covered subjects like- business- and how I train the bodyindesign girls, also how incredibly strong they are. Robby also talked about competing and how people should not do long duration CV- this I smiled at, as I have been banging on about not doing CV for a long time now.

After this delicious meal we headed to their home, as Arden has some things there for me. My eyes lit up upon seeing a draft copy (that nobody else has yet seen outside of the family) of Robby’s biography book The Black Prince. This I was very humbled by. I was also given a watermelon and some low salt, low yeast bread bought from the farmer’s market that they visit regularly.

They then dropped me off back at my hotel. After a shower I headed out to my favorite spot for writing. Sat in the sun, I reflected on the day as I wrote the piece you have just read. I watched the sun go down on an awesome day and was excited at what was in-store tomorrow.

Day 4 – off day from training

After breakfast, a little walk and phoning home Robby and Arden picked me up. They took me to an organic market in Santa Monica where they buy their food supplies. This was paradise again for me- row after row of fresh from the farm foods as Robby put it.

Robby went off shopping and Arden and I went off in another direction. This gave me the chance to have a nice chat with her about how much I think Robby is grounded with her. Behind every great man there is a great woman and she is no exception. You can see the love and respect these two people have for each other. He is constantly the gentleman with her. So you guys out there tell your girl that you love em and appreciate all that they do for you. You never realise what you have- till it’s gone.

After the market Robby and Arden took me to a store where Robby buys the herbs that he uses in this master plan. He picked them out for me and Arden and I weighed them. Herbs, Robby explains, are something that have been used for many hundreds of years and are something he has always used himself.

We bagged up about seven and he said he would take them home and ground them up for me then drop them off later and show me how to structure their use. I was looking forward to this because in only 3 days I could see a difference in my physique. Some of this is due to rest, as I don’t normally stop, but most definitely some of this is also due to the advanced balance of supplements and training, with good food also of course.

I came out here in good shape, I never lose my abs, but I lacked a little muscle fullness and was not as vascular as normal. But now I looked full and hard. My skin also looked better from the use of oils Robby had given me to try out. This is something I had been concerned about as I am now 42 and my skin is not as tight as it was when I was younger.

Robby gave me the oils he uses. Yes, he is black- and genetically he would not age as much as a white guy – having said that he is 62 and looks under 40. There is only so much that is genetic. I thought it was just genetic but having spoken at length about this I found that- no- he works at it- he looks after himself. He uses oils for his face when shaving and oils his body many times a day; also the right supplements are used for anti ageing.

Sure enough later, around noon, Robby came by with the packs of herbs and told me the best times to use them for the best effects. He also said he had a surprise for me and had ordered a cab to take us there. We headed to downtown LA to Wiltshire BLVD for a Pilates session. Robby had booked me in with a young lady he uses often for body alignment, Miki Muller. For the next 45 minutes Miki put me through a series of movements to work deep into the core of my body and lengthen my spine. All the while Robby laughed at me-“Work that man, make him have it Miki.” She had me in positions I didn’t know I could do and I like to think I fared well. The positions plus the breathing exercises made me feel relaxed and deep down worked all at the same time. She was very good and very professional and knew the body inside out- Robby told me later that she is the best there is and anybody who is anybody goes to her; she’s the best in the USA.

Visit with Dean

Now here was a whole new world of experience for me. Dean was featured in Robby’s Built DVD and everything that was done here today was filmed for the Master Plan DVD featuring all that Robby, Arden and I did over this week. I say that because the session I had here was so advanced that I would have to write a book, to even touch on the work here. So I will cover in brief and you can see the footage yourself.

Dean is what you call a body mechanics master; his knowledge is off the charts. Basically he worked on the fascia tissue of the body and released it, so perfect body mechanics could be used and therefore allowing more efficient movement, range of motion and even distribution of load. Robby was first on the table and I watched as he got extreme ranges of motion from him all the while explaining what he was doing and why. Dean is a huge guy and Robby was putty in his hands.

After Robby it was my turn, I was filled with a bit of apprehension. Dean stood and looked at me- I wondered what he was looking at and looked behind me. This got a laugh from everyone. Basically he was checking me out, lining me up in his mind. When I stood I had one hip further forward than the other. Heavy dead lifts had twisted me so my right side was forward and up from the hip region. When I laid on the table, I was worked and manipulated from many angles that you just have to see to believe the range of motion that he got in my shoulders- it freaked me out. A fantastic experience worth the DVD price alone as you will learn so much about the human body and it’s workings.

Later on that day I decided I would have a walk to The Firehouse for a meal. The mechanics work made me feel so good, my body was like a fine tuned machine and as fluid as water itself. I could not believe how good I felt, walking along the beachfront. This is just an awesome vacation and learning experience all in one.

Before heading in for a meal I called into Gold’s. I as having a look around the shop there for some trackies and heard a voice “Hey are you Ian Duckett?” Yes it’s true, I kid you not. All the bloody way out here and I bump into two great English lads who’s names escape me (so guys I know you read my blogs so please email me so I can keep in contact).

We had a chat and they said they had seen me win the Pro Am last year and we took photos- this I was so humbled by as there we are with the world’s best bodybuilders around us and they want to talk to me and take photos. Thank you guys, you made my day even more special. Later when I sat in the Firehouse I wished I had asked them to join me. Hope you enjoyed your stay guys and your trip to the Olympia.

Day 5 –Legs

I always think that the mark of a bodybuilder is how he can train his legs. You have to have a certain kind of mental strength to develop good legs. In my time I have done my fair share of hard legwork and I looked forward to what Robby had in store for me. Meeting Robby and Arden at the gym- Arden wanted to run through some back stretches for me after my work with Dean yesterday. Just prior to that, we had another interview outside covering the last four days work.

As we started the workout with some ab work, Robby showed me a great exercise I had never done before or even seen. It was very effective and I could feel it in the whole length of my abs. After 4 sets of this they were toasted and we moved on to.


We started out with Leg Extensions and combined these with Leg Curls. Robby was- as always- a stickler for style. He also explained his visualisation techniques. Reps were performed in a machine like style, picture perfect. We did one set each of 15 reps and moved to Leg Press with 4 plates a side for 15 reps each. Robby had me perform these nice and deep, slow and controlled with constant tension. We then went back to Leg Extensions and Leg Curls with a little more weight and around 12 reps each. Back to the Leg Press with 6 plates a side for 12 reps and then added another 2 plates taking it up to 8 plates a side for 10 reps. These were very tough to do right and a lot more painful.

It was then back to the extensions and Leg Curls, these were the hardest sets with a hard contraction at the completion of each rep. Robby made sure I got the reps and in picture perfect style, as always. It’s amazing how hard you will work, when one of the world’s best bodybuilders and legends is encouraging you to do one more rep.

Calves were next up with 4 sets of Seated Calve Raises with the magic Robby difference. He demanded a deep, deep stretch and a high, high contraction squeezing like mad. It had been a few years since I had used a Seated Calve Machine and it bit really deep. I knew I would be in pain in the morning.

I really enjoyed this workout and I had absorbed once again, a world of information and felt it also. After such work Robby said we needed to eat, so off we went to The Firehouse for some Buffalo, rice and veg. Hard work and good food, a large part of Robby’s master plan.

Day 5

We planned to do interviews today for the DVD so after a visit to another fresh market whereupon Robby and Arden introduced me to Wheatgrass. This they have once a week- shot like- like in an alcoholic shot- but this being way better for you. The green liquid looked like swamp water and I didn’t relish the taste of it, or much- like the look of it. Robby had two and Arden one- so I was in a corner- yep down it went- actually it was ok and tasted like sugar snap peas. Apparently very good as an antioxidant and has many other properties.

We headed down to the beach near my hotel for an interview, regarding all we had done over the past few days. I must say we covered tons here. Robby talked about the old days, his training now and then, his philosophies, his goals and also mine. We had a real good chat and a laugh. Robby was in great form and he always, always impresses me.

After saying goodbye for that day, I set off into Santa Monica via the bus system that was an adventure in itself. I wanted to do a little shopping before heading home in a couple of days. I had some money of Heather’s burning a hole in my pocket and I wanted some new clothes for myself. I was the typical guy, in one shop I bought it all and was out and done. Bing- bang- bosh- I don’t mess about with shopping.

When I got back to my room I headed out for some food at the Marina Café just down from my hotel. Yep it’s work is this; hope you feel sorry for me. I ordered egg whites, avocado and veg in a whole meal wrap- it was awesome. You have to try this; I eat it while reading and looking out over the Marina.

In between bites I read and have read Robby’s biography over the last couple of days and find it to be an inspiring, eye-opening read. It was very in depth and deep, with a ton of motivation, I am sure Robby and Arden are on with a great seller here as it is very well written and has taken a year or so to produce. I was honored to be one of the few to read it before it goes to print. The sun shone down on the countless yachts bobbing up and down in the gentle breeze. The water clipped at the side’s harbor – yep this is the life.

Then I burnt my lip with some egg white.

‘Pleasure pain thing’.

The plan tomorrow is for me to train. I haven’t planned to train with Robby again now, but I thought I would head down to Gold’s for a quick workout and a study up on what’s out there in equipment. So that’s what I will do in the morning and then I’ll meet with Robby and Arden in the afternoon.

Day 6

I got up early and had my supplements and green tea, showered and shaved and had a breakfast in my room of oats and protein with a black coffee. I then set off walking to Gold’s. I walk along the beachfront then head inland a couple of blocks and I am there. I have been here a couple of times before so I enjoy the walk, taking in all the sites down there on the beach.


Gold’s is, as you would expect, huge with every piece of kit you could ever imagine. I spent a little time looking around at what’s out there now for kit and watching people, then I got down to some training.

Shoulders and Arms

I did a similar workout to what I had done with Robby a few days before, but this time I worked my shoulders all at once then moved on to my arms. I did Standing Press, Lat Raise, Bent over Lat Raise for 3 rounds adding weight on each round for 10-12- 8-reps. Yep- all this kit around me and I used a barbell and two dumbbells. For arms I combined Curls with Close Grip Bench Press for 2 rounds, 10 reps each.

Next up, I combined Pushdowns and Cable Curls for 2 rounds. I finished arms with Rope Extensions. I wrapped up the workout with some ab work.

After a great workout there needs to be good food, Robby’s base is built on this. There are some awesome bodybuilders out here and they are not the pro’s I am talking about. The Joe average out here is way above the Joe average at home. I am convinced it’s the working environment and the foods that are available.

So I headed to The Firehouse again, my choice for breakfast number two was egg whites and multigrain pancakes with blueberries. Wow they eat a lot out here and it was huge. I took my time with it, all the while doing the who’s who of bodybuilding heading in the door.

Later Robby and Arden picked me up and we headed to Santa Monica for some more filming. This was a great experience as Robby pointed out where he used to live and train and eat in the old days. The interview was fantastic; we talked about all aspects of our sport for at least 45 minutes putting tons of information in they’re for the viewer. After lunch we parted ways and I came down to the beach to write and read, oooh what a life, work, work, work- ha-ha.

Day 6 – Homeward Bound

The last day of a fantastic week. I headed over to the Marina Café below the gym in the morning and had my last Lou’s Special. Whilst waiting for that to be made I rang home and disrupted the kids watching a movie, glad to see they were missing me. I spoke to Molly and it was all the one word answers “yep, erm, yer, umm”.

“Have you missed your Dad babe?”  “Yep.”

“Ok then, put your Mum on.”

After breakfast I read a little of a book that I can highly recommend, a book that Robby gave me called Beyond The Game. It’s the collective sports writing of Gary Smith. I will cover it further in my News and Views next month, a great book. I headed down to the beachfront at lunchtime and walked the beach side path towards The Firehouse for my last lunch. With this being a Sunday the front was packed out with people.

Once at The Firehouse there were many more characters of the bodybuilding kind this time. I ordered Buffalo- again (ok I like it), egg whites and steamed vegetables; along with this I had wholegrain toast and a coffee. From my seat I could people watch all around me. Two guys were sat over to my left and slightly behind me. They were definitely bodybuilders, one was muscular and the other was on the smooth side.

When they stood up they both puffed up to twice their size and walked to the pay desk with their arms stuck out- I am sure they wanted me to look at them so I did what I normally do which was act unimpressed, I looked everywhere but at them. I could see them but they wouldn’t have known. They were doing full body poses just paying the bill. I cannot do with guys like this; they give bodybuilding a bad name. Come on, there is a place for posing and it’s not at a pay desk!

After lunch, I headed back to my hotel and packed for home. Robby and Arden picked me up at 3pm to take me to the airport. Get this, Arden gave me a couple of scarves for Louise that she makes and designs. Many celebs out here own her work, so I was honored. Robby gave me some ‘Built’ baseball caps and had made me a meal for later- Salmon and potatoes, cooked a special way that was delicious. We hugged and said our goodbyes. Waving them off I thought to myself “Wow, Robby Robinson – The Black Prince, one of the greatest bodybuilders to ever live, made my lunch!

Looking over the week, I can say with all certainty that I have had one of the times of my life. If I were never to come back here, I would remember this week with fondness forever. I have learnt a lot- I have been motivated, empowered and inspired beyond words. It is like I have gone full circle.

This very morning before departing for home I sat in the Marina Café and listened to the seagulls. It took me back to my youth growing up in Bridlington, a far cry from LA I know but don’t seagulls sound the same all over the world? The days when I was a kid, I would spend down at the waterfront. On one such day I went searching for a Muscle Mag in the local newsagents. I found one and opened it up to see a page with the heading ‘Welcome to my World’ with a picture of this awesome black bodybuilder- his name was Robby Robinson.

Thank you Robby and Arden, for letting me in to your world.


End Note

I have since this article spent time with Robby a couple more times. A few months ago he was a guest at our home and we ate and trained together for over a week. He also spent time and trained with my 14-year-old son Louis. Can you imagine that at 14!! —I would have given all I had at that age for that opportunity.

I would highly recommend anything Robby produces –his book is the best bodybuilding biography I have ever read and his master class is beyond good –its otherworldly x

Robby Recently at 70 !!

Robby Recently at 70 !!


Andrew Palmer Man Of Steel


Andrew is without a doubt in my mind, one of the most awesome Natural Bodybuilders I have ever met. He was the first to break into the USA Natural stronghold and actually stand toe to toe with them, so impressive was Andy’s size, balance, and condition.

A ‘natural for life’ athlete I may add, he was out of this world then and now.

Look, I’m a little guy. I know so because I get all the jokes.

In my bodybuilding career I made the best of what I had.

Used my trump cards if you will; my condition, balance, and posing.

But you always look to what you don’t have, always focusing on what you would like more of. With me it was bigger – stronger – powerful looking.

I used to look at Andy and wish I looked like him. God I use to think he looks frigging huge, ripped, and strong. I use to joke back in the mid 90’s that he looked like a natural Mike Mentzer.

Andy and I go way back, he is still awesome now, and competing at 50 if I’m not mistaken. He is also one of the most humble, modest, and gentle giant of a man you will ever meet.

I am so pleased to have Andy here for you on Brothers In Iron.


Hey Andy, first can I just take this opportunity to thank you for taking time to do this interview.

Let’s get down to this.


Hello Ian thank you for inviting me to do this interview for your new site ….just one thing before I start I’m not 50 for another 3 years ha ha …..



Sorry mate ha ha, Andy, please tell us when and how you got started with all this bodybuilding business. Please incorporate in your answer; your inspiration and early role models, the type of training you did back in those early days, and also when and what was your first show.


Days Out From Heading To The USA At My Gym In The 90's

Days Out From Heading To The USA At My Gym In The 90’s



I started training with weights when I was 13, a school friend suggested we start training, we used to train at home with a few weights we had, and after a couple of years I joined a gym. My first inspiration was my older brother Stephen, he was very good at athletics and he did a bit of weight training, he never competed in bodybuilding but he had a very good physique ….he used to buy bodybuilding mags which I would read so I think that’s where my bodybuilding aspirations came from.


As I got more into the bodybuilding I got more into the science of training, in particular, Arthur Jones’ High Intensity principles and then of course Mike Mentzer, who popularised this method of training who also became one of my inspirations, along with Dorian Yates.


My first Competition was in 1987 – the Mr Derbyshire – I won the under 18 class against 17 other competitors, I posed to a tune from the Rocky film.


10 days Out From The WNBF Pro Worlds

10 Days Out From The WNBF Pro Worlds



Now, I know you are still competing and looking incredible.

Please give us a rundown of your most recent achievements, and also ones from the past that are stand outs in your career



My recent achievements include 2013 NPA Pro-am 2nd, 2013 NPA Britain masters Over 40s 1st, UIBBN World Masters O-40s 1st, 2014 NPA Pro-am 2nd, 2014 NPA Britain Masters O-40s 1st, UIBBN World Masters O-40s 2nd, 2015 NPA Pro-am 4th, 2015 NPA Britain 2nd.


The stand outs from my career are winning the first contest I entered. Also winning the Heavyweight ANB Britain in 1995 and 1997 and also winning the overall Britain title that year then going on to win the UIBBN World U-85kg class.


I think one of my proudest achievements was competing in the WNBF Pro Worlds in 1998 and out of a class of 45 I placed 5th, it was only at this point I thought I must’ve got a decent physique even though I’d won other titles.


Other stand outs were winning the first ANB Pro-am in 2001 and placing 5th at the EFBB (now UKFBB) Britain in the Light Heavyweights. And finally winning the 2008 NPA Pro-am the first contest I did after tearing my pec in 2005, I was devastated when I got injured but winning this contest gave me the confidence that I could still compete.


98 WNBF Pro Worlds

98 WNBF Pro Worlds



98 WNBF Pro Worlds

98 WNBF Pro Worlds



I know you’re a devoted family man, and Karen and Asha have always been your devotion. How did you have to structure your life and training through all those stage years?



There’s never really been any issue maybe because I’ve trained and competed from a young age, and as Karen and I have been together from school it’s just been the norm in our lives. I even competed the week Asha was born in 1988. Karen’s quite laid back so it was easy to just work round my contest prep with holidays etc.



Throughout all those years of competing and training, what would you say has been your most productive routine?



Like many others I probably copied the high volume/frequency routines found in most muscle magazines. Looking back I made good gains from an early age but my most significant gains in terms of mass came between 1991-93, when I started to train High Intensity style.


I always enjoyed training legs and back doing squats, leg press, hack squats, stiff leg deadlifts standard and partial deadlifts, T-bar rows, long cable rows, b/bell and d/bell rows. It gave me a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I finished a hard leg or back session and still does.

I used various training splits but the one I used the most and still do is the 3-way split training:


Back and Chest on Monday

Legs, Calves and Abs on Wednesday.

Shoulders, Tri and Bis on Friday.



I have known you for years and seen first-hand the simple way you would diet for an event. You relied on hard work and basic foods to bring in an awesome condition.

Please tell us about your diet structures back in the day.



My diet then as now consisted mainly of vegetables, oats, cereals, bread, rice and pasta. Turkey, chicken, tuna, cod, eggs, peanut butter and whey powders split between 6-7 meals. I would and still do eat like this all year round. I will eat crisps and the odd take away when not preparing for a contest. I never counted calories or weighed food but used the mirror as a guide.

Though for my most recent contests I watched my carb intake more closely and increased my fats.



Now as we are a bit long in the tooth mate, I know I have had to make some changes to my training. Warming up more, and more attention to every rep for safety. Please tell us if you have had to make any modifications in your training. Do you train fewer days or more, and what is your current program.



Due to injuries to my lower back, shoulders and pecs picked up over the years I have to be very cautious in exercises I use, and the way I perform them. I still train as hard as I can but sometimes I forget I am not in my 20s/30s any more! I still follow the 3-way split as mentioned before but I can’t use as much weight on some exercises but I think I am better at making the weight work for me rather it work against me.


So that said Andy –can you give us a current typical leg session.



Sure a typical leg session of late consists of hamstrings- 2 warm up sets of b/bell stiff leg deadlifts then 1 proper set of 20 reps.

1 set of seated leg curl with one drop reps 15/8-10

1 set of lying leg curl 10-15 reps.

Quads- 2-3 warm up sets of leg extensions I also include 2 warm up sets of 45 degree leg press in-between these so as I can have the machine loaded and ready to go after leg extensions of which I perform 1 set of 15-20+ reps.

I don’t stop at a prescribed number of reps, so whatever is failure then that’s number.


Then on to leg press for 1 set of 15-20+ reps.

At the moment these are performed with feet relatively low on the platform in a narrow stance.

Then its on to hack squats with 1 warm up set which is more so for my lower back, then 1 proper set of 15-20 reps again with a narrow stance.

These reps are performed CTNL style (constant tension non lockout)

All the reps in all the exercises are performed in a deliberate fashion so each rep mirrors the other.

This is hard to do especially at the end of a set when your instinct tells you to speed up.

Then on to squats with one warm up set then 1 proper set of 15-20 reps.

I have to be careful with squats as with most exercises due to lower back injuries.

Calves consist of 2 supersets of seated calve raise with donkey calve raise.



Going into the future, what are your goals in training and life?



As long as I have good health I will continue to train. As far as competition goes I enjoy competing and getting in shape, but I’ll take each year as it comes. I have competed in my teens, 20’s, 30’s and 40’s so it would be good to compete in my 50’s.



Karen has been with you through it all. Also I understand Asha is doing some training, how’s that feel to see your passion being passed on.



Karen has supported me from my first contest both practically and mentally, she’s also the one I can count on to tell me honestly how I’m looking when I’m preparing for a contest. Asha doesn’t really do weight training as such mainly outdoors stuff hill walking and cycling, she leads a very healthy lifestyle so its good to know I might have inspired this.



Is there anyone you would like to thank for his or her support and help over the years?



Firstly I’d like to thank and acknowledge my training partner Shane whom I have trained with for the last 30 plus years, he’s dedicated to training never misses a session and like Karen is very honest when assessing my condition when I’m getting ready for a show.


I’d like to thank yourself Ian for supporting me through your Natural Press magazine and giving me honest feedback and encouragement when I’ve been to see you before contests.

Also I want to thank Michael Phillips and the ANB/NPA for their support and giving me the opportunity to compete in this country and also abroad and all the articles Michael has written over the years for various mags.


Finally Karen, Asha and my family and friends who all support my bodybuilding endeavours.

Thank you so much for the interview. I am sure our readers will benefit from this.

Incredible Back Shot At The 98 WNBF Pro Worlds

Incredible Back Shot At The 98 WNBF Pro Worlds


Good luck in all you do my friend, love to you and your family.

Ian x


Back To The Roots

By Peter Yates

Peter who wrote this for The History Of Physical Culture Forum and was published there on 2/8/016 kindly sent this article to me.

I am sure you will agree that Peter and his friends are true Old But Strong Warriors

Ian x

Since leaving my hometown of Darwen, Lancashire U.K. almost 50 years ago I have made it a point to return when able to visit family and spend time with old friends. I was recently able to spend just over three weeks there and made sure I got as much training and physical activity in as possible.


On the first weekend just after I arrived I attended a three day International Soul Festival. I have been a fan of this music since the early 60’s and especially enjoy the chance to spend several hours at a time dancing to this music as I did over that weekend. Many of the records played have a fast beat and I find this a much more enjoyable way to do cardio than the boring old treadmill or stationary bike.


This also gave me a chance to catch up with old friends who in their sixties still keep fit by attending regular soul music dance venues.


My first gym workout occurred in the Isle of Man Where I was visiting friends. The owner of the gym kindly let me have a free session. Although it was not my kind of gym with most of the space being taken up by cardio and weight stack machines there was a decent dumbbell area to keep me occupied.


My workout consisted of single dumbbell snatches, swings, clean and press followed by two dumbbell split squats and deadlifts. A few sets of chins and dips rounded things out. I got plenty of sideways glances and a few outright stares, as I am sure many had never seen most of these exercises/lifts before.


Back from the Isle of Man I had a visit from my old mate Gil Waldron. Gil and I keep up a regular correspondence and try to meet up any time I am in the UK. As always we had a good old chat starting off with of course the topics of strength and training and gradually venturing into putting the world to right. Gil had recently injured his left elbow, which was limiting his training, and he bravely allowed me to perform acupuncture on him, which seems to have helped. As per usual he also brought a gift with him, this time his personal collection of 1950’s UK editions of Mr. Universe and Muscle Power Magazines, absolute gems for which I am very grateful. My sister made us a delicious lunch of lamb chops which happen to be Gil’s favorite and which we devoured with relish.


A few days later I boarded a train for the forty minute trip to Manchester to visit another old mate and iron slinger, Kev Fitzgerald. At 81 years young Kev is still a fit, strong and healthy man. Upon arrival I was greeted by his lovely wife Diana and soon had a mug of tea in my hand followed by sandwiches made from Kev’s homemade sourdough bread. While I rarely eat bread, as I do not digest it well this bread really hit the spot, was delicious and gave me no bloating or digestive upset. Just as well as Kev had been planning our training session for that afternoon and was getting me fueled up for it.


A while ago Kev twisted his knee while walking his dog Sammy (AKA Russell thee Muscle), so has laid off the squat while it healed. He found that he could do trap bar dead lifts without discomfort so has been concentrating on those. After a good warm-up we commenced the workout with T.B. D. L. starting easy and adding weight each set. Next we did rows using a leg extension bench that Kev had modified to be used for that purpose and very effective they were. I could feel the area between my scapula had been very well targeted the following day. Next came seated presses in the power rack using the trap bar from a dead start off pins. This is another exercise that was new to me and again was really effective in the shoulder girdle and deltoids the next day. We finished up with EZ bar curls and mounted wrist roller. We averaged 5 sets on all exercises except wrist roller and Kev was with me pound for pound all the way. He certainly is an inspiration and proof what steady, continuous training can do and gives me something to aim for. As usual Kev also presented me with gifts, the first being one of those giant Krusher devices popular in the 60’s. Secondly a bunch of back issues of Milo Journal. Thanks Kev – looking forward to next time.


After all that graft we headed for the local pub and fed our weary muscles with a fantastic mixed grill dinner. While I was there Kev signed up for the Forum using Sammy’s Moniker of Russell the Muscle and I sincerely hope he will share some of his opinions and vast training knowledge with us.


Another person I always try to see is someone I have known since he was a baby. David Ainsworth is the son of Jack Ainsworth and nephew of Maurice Ainsworth, two men who started and ran Darwen Weightlifting Club for many years. Growing up in that environment it is no wonder that David started training in his teens and had continued the activity to this day in his very nicely set up garage gym. David also brought me gifts in the shape of 1950’s Reg Park journals and a health and Strength Annual from 1950.


Of course no trip to Darwen would be complete without a visit or two to the Weightlifting Club. I arranged to meet one of the few remaining members and friend since childhood, David Parker, In his late 60’s David still puts in three or four sessions a week and still uses respectable poundage in his training. I had a total of three workouts there using front squats, power cleans, push press, dips, chins and rowing in the main. I also did the seesaw press with 56 block weights. At one time I could do a total of 50 reps with these but now just managed 10 each hand. These feel very different from dumbbells of the same weight. My friend and ex member Louis Staffa who now lives in Canada could in his prime do 56 reps in each hand for a total of 112 reps.


Of course I could not neglect the martial arts on this trip and was taken by my good friend Sifu Mike Fielden to see his new training premises. On the drive there Mike casually asked if I would take the class that evening. I was quite honored that Mike had asked me as he comes from a very strong lineage and is a no-nonsense, old school instructor. I did my best and I think the evening went well and next time we talked about doing a mini workshop.


Being with family is always special and we are a close, loving family. One Sunday I went on an eight mile country walk with my two nephews, great nephew and dogs. Both of my nephews have practiced martial arts and weight training and I think I was able to encourage them to resume their training.


Something must be said about food and the great home cooked meals my sister provided using such nourishing ingredients as free-range eggs, grass fed meat, local grown veggies, etc. Also I had a daily pint of milk from the same family farm that was operating locally since before I was born. This milk comes in a glass bottle with cream floating on the top and a short walk from my sister’s house you can see the cows which produce it contentedly munching grass, clover and wild plants in the meadow. You know it is full of goodness and it sure tastes like it.


As a teenager the milk was delivered by horse and cart and I would guzzle 6 pints a day. Now the milk is just as good but is delivered by a motorized vehicle and I kept the consumption to one pint a day and thoroughly enjoyed every drop.


Besides the friends I met up with I had some enjoyable phone conversations with Paul Shaw and David Horne, two men with serious grip strength and who are very knowledgeable in all things relating to strength and training. I always learn something of value that I can incorporate into my own training whenever I communicate with these accomplished gentlemen. I also called our very own David Gentle but owing to problems in his throat and ears he was unable to converse but his wife Rosemary filled me in on what had been going on (It’s alright David I will not divulge your secrets). I hope to get down to see David next time around.


As nourishing and rejuvenating, as the trip was it was also tinged with a little sadness. Four people who I always spent time with are no longer with us including my Brother-In-Law Dave and my mentor Maurice Ainsworth. I also visited elderly parents of several friends who are in failing health and may no longer be around the next time I am over there. My visits seem to have perked them up though and we laughed and reminisced over copious cups of tea in the English manner.


A big thanks to family and friends who made the trip so enjoyable and especially to my sister Susan for her hospitality and delicious home cooking. Looking forward to next time.

Gary Thornton AKA The Viking

Hey mate and welcome to my first Brothers In Iron section here on Old But Strong.  Now Gaz, I know you’re such a humble guy – one of my best mates, and over the years you have had a huge influence on me.

I know you so well, and life is richer with you in it.  I would love our members to know a little about you.

There is no doubt about it others will benefit from your knowledge.

So without further ado let’s get into this.

First the basics, then move into more depth.

Question 1


How old are you Gary and how long have you been under the iron.  Please tell us also what was the spark that started this passion.


Hi, I was born in 1960, I’m almost 56 years old, I’ve been pushing the Iron for almost 40 years, the first few years were spent doing pull-ups, press ups, dips, sit-ups etc and using a bull worker only you oldies will know what one of those are haha

The spark started just before I left school.  At school I was one of the youngest in my year so I was also one of the smallest.  I remember reading comics with super heroes in them and also I read a lot of books about Vikings that had pictures of muscular men brandishing swords and axes, and thinking I want to look like that, I still love anything to do with Vikings now, hence the nickname, when I finally left school I joined a gym and was instantly hooked on the discipline and challenge of being able to change the way you look by lifting the Iron and out of the gym with the diet.  I liked having that willpower to do something that a lot of people couldn’t do and also the individual aspect of it, it was down to me as to what results I got and not down to a team like it was at school playing football, cricket, rugby etc, after all these years it’s still the same!!


Question 2


I know you own and run Iron Monkey PT, tell us a little about that and how it organically grew to where the business is now.


Iron Monkey PT is something that has just naturally evolved, I’ve been involved in the Iron game for a number of years starting with working in gyms in the early 80’s and 90’s, I had back then guys who wanted me to train them one to one and pay me and that’s way before “Personal Training” became the monster that it is today, maybe I should have followed Mr Duckett because for me he’s one of the very first PT’s I can remember, and to this day probably one of the best.  Anyway from working in gyms I started working for Weider Health & Fitness in their retail supplement shops, eventually owning my own supplement shop Aktiv Bodz which I ran for 17 years.  All this time I’ve enjoyed helping  and passing on my knowledge to others so when Aktiv Bodz closed it felt right to continue helping others with their journey in the Iron game, hence Ironmonkey PT


Question 3


Please give us a background on your competition success, past and present.


My competition success can be measured for me anyway in two ways, there’s the shiny trophies and the continued improvement in yourself, the latter being the most important I feel, my first competition I came last, the same competition 2 years later I came 1st, but it wasn’t the shiny trophy that gave me the most satisfaction although nice, no it was the gains and improvements I’d made over the 2 years, that’s the success!

Anyway I’ve acquired a few shiny trophy’s over the years and most of them are in the garage apart from some of the latest figurine trophy’s.  I’ve placed around 90% of the time in the top 5 in most of the shows I’ve entered, one’s that stick in my mind are Ken Lathams UK Championship Qualifier 80kg 1st, Ken Lathams UK Championships Final 80kg 2nd, if you’re reading this and have been in the Iron game as long as Ian and myself then you’ll remember Ken Latham and the great shows he used to put on.  A great man and many a champion came from these show even the great Dorian Yates started his journey to become 6 x Mr Olympia at a Lathams show, those were the days, sorry starting to lose myself haha, back to the question, Mr York Novice 1st, Mr York Novice Overall 1st. Mr Yorkshire 1st this one really stuck in my mind because every competitor outweighed me by at least 1.5 stone, not always the biggest guy wins, North East Class 2 1st, North East Over 40’s 1st, NABBA Mr Britain Over 40’s 4th, North East Over 50’s 2nd, North East Over 50’s 1st, Nabba Mr Britain Over 50’s 7th, the last two competitions were in 2015 and that’s where I am now, whether I compete again, not sure yet, like I said earlier success is not only measured by the shiny trophies but your constant strive to keep pushing and bettering yourself!!


Question 4


Please outline the most productive training and nutritional method you ever did.


To be honest Ian I don’t think I’ve found that most productive training and nutritional method and if I had I think I’d be still using it, I think at moments in time your body responds to different methods and let’s face it Ian I think over the years we’ve tried everything haha, I really do think the most productive training and nutritional method is CONSISTENCY, if you feel that the body’s responding to a particular training method then keep going, when the body stops and it will, try something different, the same with nutrition,  one thing on the training side maybe that I’ve stuck by and that’s keeping the volume down other than that I think the determining factor in making gains be it strength, building muscle, getting leaner etc is CONSISTENCY, sorry if you wanted me to write down a particular method but to be honest I don’t have one apart from CONSISTENTLY train hard, CONSISTENTLY eat well, CONSISTENTLY mix it up and you should CONSISTENTLY get results!!


Question 5


How does your training and diet differ these days, being in your fifties.


I think this question could be a bit of a continuation from Q4 in as much the training and nutrition is still and here comes that word again CONSISTENT lol but now being in my fifties my training and nutrition has changed or a better word is evolved, I don’t train as heavy as I used to, the joints and tendons over the years of training and aging do take a battering, so for me the weight has come down naturally to a point where I feel good with my joints and tendons, I could lift more weight but I found I was getting more and more injuries which then set me back, whereas training lighter or as I like to put it smarter meant I felt I was moving in the right direction, might be very slow but hey it’s moving forward as opposed to this back and forth with getting injured, I also found it a way of keeping a more positive mind set because every time I’d have a niggly injury it would have a negative impact on my training.

I’ve found that now in my fifties I have to take half a day to warm up haha before I start training, when you were in your twenties it was in the gym quick warm up and then bang straight in to the workout, now it’s 20-30 mins warming up at least before I can start, but hey that’s aging for ya….

Something else that you really do feel as you age and it’s probably in my opinion the most important thing after Consistency and that’s recovery, I think you can still train really hard and intense but mother nature says that’s ok but you can’t do that 3 days in row, I train occasionally with some clients who are in their twenties and all though I can hang with them during the workout, what I can’t do what they can and that’s probably train the next day with any intensity I have to let my body rest and recover whereas the twenty  year olds almost recover overnight, so that’s something I’ve noticed big time in fact now I train each body part anywhere between  7-10 days apart, like I said earlier being in your fifties everything has evolved and one big factor is listening to my body, if I don’t feel like I can go to the gym and give it 100% then I don’t go and probably go the next day, it’s not being lazy it’s listening to what my body’s telling me, people ask me how many days should I train well everybody’s different you just have to listen to what your body’s saying you don’t need to cram all your body parts in to one week, if we didn’t have weeks only days  how would people structure their workouts?

The diet side has changed too, gone are the days where I must eat 6 meals a day without fail, don’t get me wrong I try to eat 5-6 meals per day all though somewhat smaller meals nowadays, but If I don’t feel hungry then I may go longer between meals so get only 4 meals in that day say for instance, again I’m listening to what my body’s saying, I don’t eat as much meats as I used to either I find all that meat puts your aging digestive system under more strain so I find myself eating more fish, nuts, seeds, eggs and slightly more vegetarian based meals, so I think the training and diet has just naturally evolved as I’ve got older and most importantly I’ve listened and adjusted accordingly, bring on the 60’s eeek!!


Question 6


Do you train on your own Gary or with a partner?


I train mainly on my own nowadays, I like to put my music on and just go into zone, just me the iron and heavy metal, that’s the music haha, having said that I do train with a few client who are just starting their competitive journey, I train with NPA competitor Connor Young who I’ve been helping for a few years, I occasionally train with other clients Liam Winterbottom and Carl Saunders another couple of guys I’ve been helping, these guys are all in their twenties full of spunk and enthusiasm, but ya know what it helps keep me young, oh the joy of youth lol


Question 7


I know you train really strict with laser like focus, tell us, how did this develop over the years


Yeah the training came about because genetically I’m not very strong, although I’ve got stronger, in my younger days like you do ya try and lift as much as possible but I found I’d either injure myself or I’d leave the gym with more pain in my joints and tendons and also as the weight got heavier and heavier I seemed to be concentrating more on just moving the weight from point A to point B and not moving the weight with the targeted muscle, so I started to reduce the weight and train a lot slower during the rep with a lot more emphasis on squeezing the targeted muscle and, immediately I noticed a lot less stress on the joints and tendons and more on the muscle it felt like the muscle had been worked.  Some people may come in to the gym and see me almost struggling with what appears to be a relatively light weight, but what they don’t see is what I’m feeling and that’s an intense deep contraction in the muscle, because I’m training in a very slow controlled manner I can really get this mind muscle connection and like you say that’s probably why I look like I’ve got this laser like focus.  For me it’s not about how strong I’ve been or how much I’ve lifted, don’t get me wrong even though I train slow and controlled I’m still trying to put a few extra pounds on here and there but not at the expense of losing the control, for me it’s about coming out of the gym with a good feeling in the muscle, I think this style of training is called (TUT) Time under Tension,  whatever it’s called I train similar to this, as I’ve got into my fifties this style of training really suits my physique and structure and I think a lot of fifty plus guys could benefit from this style of training..


Question 8


Your a very rounded man that has many interests outside of bodybuilding could you please tell us what are your other interests are and why


Obviously the iron game has been a passion since I was 16, but one of my other passions goes back even further into my childhood around 10-12years of age and that’s the passion for fishing.  I love the solitude with this hobby even though I do go with friends occasionally,  I love going for a few days and nights and sitting with mother nature, close out the rest of the world and all the shit that’s going on in it and almost go back in time sat cooking, chilling and sleeping as mother nature intended, I do have all the latest fishing tents and bed chairs making it almost home from home I have to have some comforts haha, no you can’t beat sat with mother nature in the middle of nowhere watching the sun go down.  I find it very therapeutic and great for recovery of mind and body.  I’m also a motorcycle fanatic, again can be a solitary affair just you and the open road giving you a sense of freedom in this world of chaos, it’s a bit like a warrior riding an iron horse and for me it seem like it’s one of the last rebellious things you can do in this world of conformity and like the Iron game there’s a true brotherhood amongst true bikers as there is with true iron enthusiasts, you can ride anywhere in the world on a bike and pull up where there’s a few bikers and have a conversation with loads of different people, try doing that in a car.

I’m a big animal and nature lover, love music and music festivals, I like all things spiritual (not in a god way)and I think we should all look after the universe because we won’t be getting another one..


Question 9


The wrap up Gary, what is your goal for the future with your training and life balance


My goals for the future are very simple wake up every morning feeling happy and grateful for what I’ve got because one day it will all be gone..

I’ll carry on living my life the way I’ve always done, chilled and laid back it’s worked for the last 50 years haha

I’ve never really set myself goals per say, everything has just happened or evolved that way I’m that kind of guy even though deep down I’m focused and driven.

As for competing who knows if the desire is strong enough then yeah I still think there’s a few shows left, if not then no worries, to be honest I’m quite happy helping others get on stage and start their journeys, I’ll definitely keep training and looking after myself, it’s a way of life that’s totally in grained a bit like getting up and brushing your teeth in a morning it’s something you don’t think about…..


Just want to say a big THANKS to my old mate Ian for asking me to be part of what I think is something that will just get bigger and bigger, this site will be a great place for us oldies to be inspired and motivated, and do ya know what I think a lot of the young ones can learn a thing or two from what Ian, myself and I’m sure many other on this site will contribute.

Ian keep inspiring and motivating, you’re a true legend and friend, your inspiration goes deep my friend, here’s to you my Iron Warrior!!!!!!!!!!!


Thank you so much my old friend.

You have inspired me for years with your balance and outlook.  Those reading this that know you will be nodding their heads in agreement about such a good person as yourself.  And those that don’t know you, will I hope take on board some of your nurtured good habits.

Gary can be found on FB under Gary Thornton and Iron Monkey Personal Training

When I say he is one on the best coaches around – I mean it

Thank you Gary, and thank you all for reading

Be Old But Strong Of Mind And Body