Flex Interview 1997 cont’d
I want to be alone
I began studies at the University of Augsburg in May of 1985 and the same month I competed for the first time, as a junior heavy-weight weighing 203LBS. I finished sixth. I combined my studies and bodybuilding. In my academic life, I never thought – and neither did anyone else – that to be a better student. I had to study with someone else. There was no one standing over me as I studied, screaming “Come on, Nasser, one more book!” Likewise, with bodybuilding, it wasn’t necessary for me to rely on someone else to make me train harder or lift heavier. I used to think, and still think, why would a training partner, a non relative, be inspired to help me to get bigger and better?
During this time, I had no financial support from my father, no stipend, no sponsorship deal, no nutritional guru or training partner. I did a variety of jobs to bring the money in. I was completely self-sufficient, and while preparing and competing in bodybuilding contests, I still completed all my studies, sat (for) my examinations and finally earned my degree in November 1992.
One for all and one for all
I am totally self-motivated. I don’t need a training partner to “create an atmosphere of intensity” for me. I don’t need somebody to scream at me, “Come on, Nasser, and get big! Show me the real Nasser!” or “Yeah, great set, babe!”
Body building is not a team sport, so I don’t expect help from anyone. I think positive: If I don’t succeed by myself, I won’t succeed with somebody else. I am always open to advice and criticism, but I don’t like to rely on somebody else. For over 10 years, I have trained mostly by myself and it suits my way of thinking. I am the only one who is dieting; I am the one who is experiencing the pain of daily workouts, and I am the one who wants to be Mr. Olympia. I have had only one really good training partner. His name is Tarek Sen and we used to train together in Stuttgart. With him, workouts were efficient and productive, and he also was able to give me constructive criticism. He sometimes had to put up with my bad moods and low energy levels as a contest approached. He was that rare creature: the combination of a good training partner and a very good friend.
I have never relied on a training partner because there is no one who wants Nasser El Sonbaty to improve and succeed more than I do. On the other side of the coin, I couldn’t be one of these selfish people who demands that a training partner bow to my wishes – that he has to train when I want to train, that he has to follow my routine, that he has to support me totally and that his ambitions must remain secondary.
For example, since the 1995 Olympia, I have trained my back two – four times per week. Just because my back is a priority for me doesn’t mean it has to be a priority for my partner. I would never demand that someone do the same program as I do. Nor would I want to use a training partner as a kind of slave who has to remove the weights for me because I feel “so tired” or because I’m “the champ.” A training partner should not suffer because I feel stressed out and weak. I would not wish to dominate someone in that manner, and neither would I encourage someone who just wants to bask in the reflected glory of training with a top pro.
The bottom line is I am in this sport for me. I do not wish to waste time correcting a training partner’s technique or expending mental energy in motivating him during a workout. And by the way, I am not a big fan of forced or negative reps, which is another reason my workouts are not reliant on a training partner. A lot of pros need a training partner because they are too lazy to motivate themselves and train alone.
Many pros are uncooperative and will never help each other. They will ask information, but if you ask back, they are not willing to share anything – not even the posing oil.
And if they do answer a question about this or that product, they will tell you a blatant lie hoping you will screw up. I am sick and tired of these selfish individuals and have no wish to be friendly with them. They will call me “friend” as long as I provide them with the answers they want.
It has been my experience that a lot of prosdis like you even more when you start to beat them in contests. They say they don’t “take it personally” when you beat them, but in most cases they are lying: They actually begin to hate you. So many of these guys are friendly to your face, but when you are not around, they talk bad about you. It is almost like a soap opera.
I am tired of hearing professional bodybuilders say they are getting consistently robbed in contests. The excuses run the range of being too tall, too short, not being an American, being an American, being black, not being black or being ignored because they belonged to the former WBF. So many of them are paranoid and have the feeling that there is a conspiracy going on against them.
A lot of pros don’t work out with any consistency in the off-season.
They “play with the weights” because it looks cool and causes less physical muscle pain. Then, when the contests get closer, these athletes start to panic and phone you all the time for advice. So many of them tell me that they need somebody to work with them and direct them. I understand this – I also would like some help from time to time – but a lot of these champs seem to look for someone to do all the work. They need a guru, an expert, a nutritionist. One week away from their guru and they start to panic. If one of these athletes wins a show, he says, “I won.” But if he loses, he’ll say, “My guru screwed me up, gave me wrong advice.” It’s pitiful. Some of these guys say that 50% of their success is due to their partner – a girlfriend or wife. This sounds great, but what if the partner leaves them? And why do these guys never mention their parents? Without the genetics of their parents, they wouldn’t have any success at all.
Some pros are into so – called “recreational drugs,” like Nubain, a synthetic morphine. And these misguided drug abusers advise me to take this stuff “so that you can train even harder.” But it is interesting that these guys act and train like manic-depressive grandmas and are keen to get me addicted like they are. Instead of constructive advice, I am getting destructive advice. A lot of so-called bodybuilding friendships are based simply on a drug connection.
Pointing the drug finger
Many smaller bodybuilders say that the bigger bodybuilders are that way only because they take a lot of drugs. These simple minded and lost people don’t have a grasp on reality. Not everyone is genetically constructed so as to have the ideal mesomorph type of physique for bodybuilding. To get to the top of the pro ranks, you have to first have the genetics, and then the discipline and drive. Drugs won’t overcome genetics. Let me give you an example. You give a greyhound exactly the same amount of steroids as you give a rottweiler, but the rottweiler will always be bigger and more massive than the greyhound. It is just a biological fact.
Band of brothers
Not all my pro colleagues are the same, and that is good; it makes for interest and excitement. For example, why is it bad that Dorian Yates doesn’t like to talk too much, or that Shawn Ray seems to talk too much, or that Paul Dillet lives in a permanent fantasy world? Why isn’t it OK for bodybuilders to be different: some arrogant, some nice, some noisy, some quiet? That’s human nature. I like the variety of personalities we have among the pro body builders, and I am not perfect, either. Is every baseball player, football player or basketball player a nice guy? Bodybuilders are individuals, too, not a herd of cattle.
Joe Weider has proved over and over again that he is a great business man, but at the same time he is a very charitable person who gives contracts to guys who couldn’t get them anywhere else on ability. Most of this group live in California and are able to go in and see Joe, and he gives them a contract even though they do not get good results. But they still bitch about Joe and the “measly contract” he has given them. I am not an ass-kisser and can only repeat what I have often said. Without Joe Weider and the Weider Company, I wouldn’t have the living standard that I have now. Without Joe Weider, I would still be in Germany and wouldn’t be a bodybuilder anymore. I ask myself, “are these American bodybuilders aware of the advantages they have over bodybuilders from other continents?” Without Joe, a lot of these guys would be working at McDonald’s. If somebody feels hurt now, I guess I hit the target.
- Peter McGough