Anthony DeAngelis has stood lat spread to lat spread with bodybuilding’s best for nearly three decades. His only advantages are an unwavering dedication to the process and a hunger to always be better than the guy in the mirror was yesterday. Fellow bodybuilder, Bobby Allen called Anthony for a candid conversation about bodybuilding, prioritizing family and of course, Ant’s famous home basement gym! Check it out!
So, hey man, if you don’t mind me asking, about how old are you brother?
51 years old.
Wow, I feel you. How long you been lifting?
Yeah, everyone starts out with the concrete DP weight set from K-Mart when they’re 14, 15 and 16 year sold, But, seriously, with my first bodybuilding competition I was 18 it was in 1981 The AAU Natural Teen America. I competed against Bob Cicherillo. Bob placed 4th I placed 3rd. He was a lot bigger-more size. I was more cut really defined. Story of my life ha ha! I was very interested in bodybuilding . . . buying bodybuilding books-magazines and spending extra money to go to various bodybuilding shows, and talk to the pros. After 21 years of age, I became very serious. I had workout journals, nutrition journals and studied anything that had to do with nutrition and muscle kinesiology . That’s when I determined it for me and I really wanted to excel at it as best I could.
I feel you man, I was kind of the same way. I started with the cement weights in the basement.
You know, wanting to get big, asking my uncles for weight lifting programs, watching Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan movies and all of that. Falling in love with the whole transformation process, but not really understanding the diet, you know? I just thought you lifted weights and curled and you just got big. I didn’t recognize the science behind it at that time, at such a young age. I know for me, that didn’t come until a lot later. But with you, that means you’ve been going hard now for over 30 years.
And I’ve been eating the same foods for over 30 years. Ever since then I really payed attention to dieting because, just with my genetics, how I look, and I’m thinking I’m a type of guy, yeah I could get big but football player big not like Jay Cutler or Markus Ruhl big. I didn’t want to be football player big so if I didn’t watch what I ate I could really blow up so I pay attention to this day. I eat like 12 foods, and I allow myself one or two cheat meals a week, usually around my son, who is nine years old. We’ll get a burger or something. Even my cheat meals have some solid nutrition backing, it’s not like I’m going to just eat Hershey candy bars or cheesecake or ice cream.
I’ll usually just do a burger with some steak fries, maybe fried chicken, some BBQ ribs, pasta with meatballs, sushi, pancakes . . . good solid food.
Right. So, for me personally, I try to run a 80/20 rule, and I tell anybody that’s trying to get themselves in a reasonable shape, unless you’re trying to compete, try to make 80% of your meals that you eat muscle building type deals. The protein, carbs and all that, and then if you got 20% of bullshit, you know you can kind of-
That’s a very safe and effective way to follow it. That’s good.
Yeah, but I’m listening to you and you sound like you’ve like been highly discipline for the longest because you’re a pretty lean dude that’s more like 90%-10% or 95%-5%.
It’s very funny, I’ve been reading a lot about what Dorian Yates did recently, and I didn’t really deal with him back in the day. He wasn’t around when I first started. But I just didn’t go out there. I just wanted to bodybuild. So I had a normal Monday through Friday 7:00 am to 3:00 pm job in Physical Therapy, I’m was a PT Tech. An example of focus was something as simple as cutting my grass. If my grass needed cutting on Sunday and that was leg day, I did not cut my grass until next Tuesday. Thinking walking back and forth pushing a lawn mower would interfere with my leg training. Again this was when I was in my 20’s. Crazy huh? My dad thought so!
I’m going to a birthday party, I’m packing my meals. I’m Tupperwaring it out.
But I just did the same things he did and back then I just thought that was the way to do it. I have a little more balance now, but as far as nutrition, yeah I eat but I eat really disciplined. Again I don’t have any weaknesses. I don’t really crave anything. It’s just like more of the good food.
So instead of having a cup of rice, I might want to have two cups of rice. Or some pasta, or a fattier piece of meat like NY Steak instead of London broil. So other than that, I’ve been eating the same food since I was 21 years old so that’s over thirty years! My favorite breakfast to this day is egg whites mixed with oats all in the same bowl with hot sauce!
Man how did, how does your wife handle that? Because that type of discipline in the house does it drive her crazy a little bit?
I’m a single parent, I’m not married now.
Eating in the house when my son comes over, is kind of funny because his mom’ll be like,
“Now you’re going to your dad’s house bring some snacks.”
I’m like, “It ain’t like I just have chicken and rice in my house!” I have stuff for my son. I’ll buy ice cream for him or buy him fruit, We love fresh berries and pineapple! I have treats like fruit snacks,trail mix and stuff like that. But she thinks my fridge just has like dried chicken breasts and plain rice. Ha ha!
I mean we have healthy fruit. We have raisins and I’ll take out him out for water ice and Chinese food. He even wants to have the egg whites and turkey sausage for breakfast. He likes having the chicken and rice with the barbecue sauce. He just likes that, or ground beef, with ketchup. Maybe he idolizes me and I don’t why this is because is me, but it’s tasty and I don’t have to force him to eat and share my discipline. He just likes to eat my same food that I prepare for myself which is very healthy.
Well that makes it easy.
Yeah it does.
Man, thirty years into bodybuilding is incredible! Like I can’t even imagine competing for that long, what is that like hundreds of shows up under your belt or something like that? I mean Good Lord!
When I first started competing, I was the type of person that used to do four or five shows a season. I used to try to compete in the fall because I knew right after the fall shows, you have Christmas holiday, the January holiday, the winter holiday automatically it’s like bulking season.
Oh yeah, that’s deadly.
And you diet in the summer so you’re forced to stay leaner in the summer anyway when you’re sweating off pounds and you’re looking good for the beach. Well I used to do like six, seven, eight shows a season. I’m thinking when you’re young, you just want to collect the trophies. When you get older, it’s just kinda like well I just want to beat my former best. I just pick two or three shows now.
My last show was two years ago the 2016 NPC East Coast. My son was there with me all day! I gave him one of my trophies. I placed 2nd in the Masters over 40 and 3rd in the Men’s Open light heavy. This was the first time since I was thirty-five that I did not place first or win an over-all in the Masters. The guy who beat me is now an IFBB Pro. When I competed in 2007, that’s when I won everything and went to NPC nationals. Same year that Evan Centenopani won his pro card.
I did very well at Nationals and after that, a couple of big guys wanted to work with me. A couple like contest prep gurus offered and I was kind of like, I wasn’t so sure then. At the time I was married so my wife and I decided to have a family, so my son was born. But when I did NPC nationals, Jim Manion and Gary Udit with the NPC said, “How old are you if you don’t mind me asking?” I’m like, “41.”
“If you brought 85% condition to the Masters you would have had your pro card!”
I’m like “Really?”
He said, “What are you doing here?” I said I just want to compete because it was in Texas and Ronnie Coleman was there. I tried to do that Whole bodybuilding lifestyle video on my day off after nationals. Train at Metrofelx, eat at Peas in a Pod etc. So, I kind of looked at it as a vacation, but I never really thought, you know I’m just gonna compete and get my pro card.
Then they told me, well if you brought this to Masters you would really do well. That’s where I kinda hung my trunks up, I had a family. Then, flashback 2015, eight years later and my son was getting older, I had just started my job in a new correctional facility. I was working crazy hours. I compete because I just like the structure it adds structure to things are in my life like the stresses family, work, or overtime or bills. It seems like when I have that bodybuilding component, it just makes my life easier. So I said, alright let me try to compete. I did an NPC show up here in New Jersey. I placed third in the Masters, in the open, which I thought was very well, because I haven’t competed in eight years.
But the best thing about the process was that my son was with me the whole day. He saw the whole process, I gave him one of the trophies. It was just great to have him there with me.
That was my last show, and then maybe if things go my way again next year, I’ll do something again.
Yeah, Man. You know what? Our lives almost sound like they mirror a little bit. Me and my wife actually competed several years back, and then as the kids kind of got older, it was like your priorities change a little bit. Even now, with my IG posts, it’s just kind of getting back into it, because you just love to lift, you love to work out.
I’ve always tried to tell people that, as far as for me, I’m sure it’s as far as for you, it’s that balance. Man I didn’t have the balance when I was younger, everything was just … more bodybuilding, bodybuilding, bodybuilding, meal prep. I missed out on a lot of stuff. I didn’t really want to party, my buddies might be going on vacation to Myrtle Beach, or the Shore. I went I had a big Igloo cooler with like twenty meals, and made sure I had my spring water. The first day I looked at, okay where’s the local gym, I’ll do my cardio in the morning, and I’ll bring a mountain bike or I’ll walk on the beach. To me that’s what my vacation was. I didn’t mind doing it that way, I thought that’s what all the pros did. Now I find out that a lot don’t work that hard.
Yeah, there’s down time.
They don’t work that hard in all seasons. Ronnie says, you grab some corn bread, you chill a little bit, you have some ribs, you relax, you have fun. I didn’t think like that. I thought the stricter you are in the off-season, the better you’re gonna be pre-contest. And again, Ronnie, you know, he’s more in the know. He’s just a freak of nature, he was the best of the best. Not everyone can be Ronnie, but I thought that if well, if I train like that, if I’m strict in the off-season … It’s funny because when you’re young, you don’t realize that Ronnie is a freak of nature.
Oh you’re just full of piss and vinegar, you know?
Your arms are strong, and you don’t know what soreness is, or joint pain, or … now it’s like I walk by the bench and boom my shoulder hurts I’m not doing that today. Let me try a little pec deck today and little more volume.
You know, and that’s funny because truthfully speaking, that’s kinda how I train now. It’s like, I tend to like to go with a little bit more volume, you know? And just that pump. And I’ll go heavy a little bit, but I don’t try to go crazy on it. I do what’s heavy for me, as long as I can get reps.
Right, I’m more of a volume trainer, to heavy. And I’ll gradually- if I do decline dumbbells, or flat dumbbells, I’ll warm up and I’ll do like 70, 80, 90, 100. So 100 might be my last set, I’m only getting like five or six. I’m not getting like 10, 12 reps. I studied and I found out that pyramid was the old way to- everyone learned how to train. I found out, to me, it’s the safest way because you’re getting stronger, you’re going up in weight, and if your reps decline, you’re still getting that volume. You’re still forcing that load onto a muscle. It seems like it’s gonna be injury-free as long as you warm up.
Well let me ask you this also: now when you’re in a traditional gym setting, right? Now you know how we’re like from a traditional gym, as a body builder, waiting there on one machine to the next machine to the next machine, so then stuck till stuff is available. But when you’re at home, you don’t have that. So how has your training changed being at home versus in the gym? I know how it did for me, but I’m just curious about what’s your opinion on that?
A lot of people think, oh it’s great having a home gym. It is- I’m very blessed, I have my own home gym, it’s basically like Retro Fitness and Gold’s Gym smashed together.
Dude, your gym looks like- it had a baby and a big gym just spit up in or something.
A lot of gyms don’t have a vertical leg press but I have one in my gym, and then I have the Polaris Pullover machine in my gym. My dumbbells go to 160, but it could be challenging sometimes too. Because I’m gonna tell you I’m a person, and I think you’re the same way, where in the middle of a work-out I see that mirror needs to be cleaned. I need to clean that, or I see that upholstery come off the pad. I’m gonna fix that. Or my pec deck might not be in line, let me do that. Where at the gym, now it’s kind of like that I’m just gonna keep on going, because it’s not mine is it? At the home gym it’s nice, because you don’t have to wait in line and the machines are there.
But sometimes just training with a couple people, even if you don’t know them they’re available to spot, you might have something in common, you just might feed off their motivation, they might motivate off you. But getting back to the mindset that once on my bench, and I just say, alright here’s the goals I have I want to accomplish. I’ll try to do the best to do that, but it’s nice because again, I don’t have to worry about hey that guy’s over there sitting playing with his iPhone doing this, or I don’t have to worry about these guys over here doing some type of slack off stuff, it’s like how many more sets you got? Oh man I do this program that has nine sets. Look bro, I’m like ugh, you’ve got nine sets of whatever can I work in with you. No man, I’ve got to do it in a certain time and it can be frustrating.
Home gyms are the best of both worlds, but I have that my set that here’s the goals I’m trying to accomplish, I put the music on and I try not to leave so I get everything close to where I need to be.
Yeah. So what’s kind of helped me out, is that I may have a client or two, some folks that are trying to kinda transform their body. But again, it’s that companionship kinda in there, to keep you a little bit motivated. So there are days when you’re by yourself, then you got other days when you’re with people, so you don’t have a large audience, but you got a little something, to squeeze a little bit more out of. So, it works. And then I find also, that I tend to do a lot of circuit style training, because you can just get to stuff, so that pump is just crazy, because you’re not just loading up on one particular straight set to failure, now I can move on because I don’t have to worry about people getting on my equipment. It’s like, shit I can just run all over the place and just kind of have at it.
You know I kind of like the circuit training, especially on my days where I don’t have that much time, or I feel like- and you’re the same way, because we’re both old school. You feel like a chest workout ain’t’ the same if you don’t do your five sets of bench, heavy dumbbells and pec flys. But you know I’m ready also with the circuit, I just put the pin here in my vertical chest machine, then right to my cable cross-over, do some pushups, they’ve got some type of incline machine, then end with cables. And I might just do an old-school circuit for four sets and rest a minute in between. I get all pumped, and I’m sweating, I feel good, and I’m like man.
You killed it.
I killed it. In the back of my mind, my mind is really tweaked, I’m thinking, alright do you really need to do heavy chest, dumbbell, all those movements with this method I’m getting a good pump, I’m putting less strain on my joints and the still shock to my body, because you’re still having growth, or anything that gives your body some type of stimulus. It’s like I’m relearning again at 51 years of age that, just because this isn’t the way you saw someone else do it, you can adapt and change. Once in a while it’s gonna be better for you in the forms of growth, ligaments and tendons, and just a little something different.
I guess this kind of segues into my other questions, too that, since you’ve been bodybuilding first of all, how long have you had your home gym now?
I had it since I had my house, so it’s just going over 23 years. I think I’m very, very selective of certain equipment I want to buy. I knew that I want the Polaris pullover because of my studies. I didn’t want a pullover with an arm bar on it, I just wanted something to the elbows, that way a proper pullover that really targets the back muscles. You drive with the elbows, I didn’t want to use any type of arms or shoulders on a hand gripping. So I knew Polaris was the only manufacturer that made that pullover just with the elbows, not with the bar. So I wanted that, that lat machine I told you about- that seated style Cybex has a very small footprint. It has a very, very heavy stack. It had the both the parallel and the wide grip. I spent forever looking for that. I saw streamline, I saw Hammer Strength, I saw Icarian but I wanted that Cybex one. I just found that three months ago after searching for that for 15 years.
So I was very, very selective in the pieces that I wanted to get. When I first started out, I had a lot of the stuff made by old school companies – it was a light, commercial stuff, which is still good. Actually my brother has it in his home basement gym. I had a lot of stuff made by Ferrigno actually, Lou Ferrigno’s father Matty made equipment. I still have a couple pieces in my basement and my brother still has some that I couldn’t fit anymore. But I was up there buying stuff then is was like you know what? Let me just tailor it to just me, and I like the small foot print that way when I’m training my clients they’re in and out. But most of the stuff, like how Ronnie Coleman set his gym up- I bought it for me, I’m the one using it, this machine works the best for me, that’s the way I like to use it.
This has kind of got me bouncing around a little bit. So when you were picking out your equipment, it seems like you were very intuitive going by feel of the muscle, the contraction and all of that. So it wasn’t just a happenstance- ooh I just
need a chest machine, but like no- how does this feel? How does this target in terms of what I’m trying to get at, and that type of stimulus. I guess we’re both gonna say that we’re very particular about the equipment, whether it’s big or small, that we use, to really try to get us to our end-game. So even as we’re picking this out, we have this ideal in our head about what our bodies look like, what it’s gonna- how is this gonna to help us transform?
Exactly. I know that for a fact that one of the best weight presses ever used was the Nebula. It just seemed like you could load that up, and for some reason the angle of the seat, and the angle of the truss where you place your feet- you could do over 14, 1500 pounds it felt kind of light. Where the leg press I have down in my basement is harder. It’s an old Cybex plate loaded that Dorian Yates had. The same one in his Temple gym, and who used to train with Anthony Bailes and Leroy Davis, Dorian’s old training partner, had the same leg press. The weight’s heavy. You come down off that sled, that weight’s heavy. It’s not like the Nebula, where you’re pushing and the machine is just smooth.
But I do half the weight than with the Nebula. So I had bought that leg press and after watching Dorian, I think wow, he has the same leg press as me. He’s Mr. Olympia, he’s like the hardest training guy at that time. I mean, you feel good that you’re using the same equipment. I’m thinking how the angle, and the load feels and how to pretty much make it harder for me.
And I’ve told some of my clients, too, and I’ve noticed this in terms of in the gym versus at home. I’m like- the equipment that most of these box-gym picks out- it’s there to make you feel good. You know? Because you’re just gonna put a gang of weight on it. It’s just there to make you beat on your chest and all that. You’re not working out until you get something on here where you would load up 45’s and you’re like yeah. Now you’re putting 25’s over here and you’re like, these 25 pounds is killing me. And I’m like yeah, because now you’re really lifting.
I believe that whole heartedly if we lift up in the gyms the 70’s, the 80’s, the old equipment like that, you don’t need a lot of 45’s, you put one or two, and it’s targeting the right muscle. Like you said now, 18 pulleys, 19 counter-balances, 14 seat adjustments that does all the work for you. The machine’s doing it. And these young kids are like yeah bro look at my max set with five plates. Yeah, you’re working everything except for the targeted muscle. Your shoulder’s are working, your butt’s off the seat, you’re pressing the weight, so you’re not targeting the exact muscle you wanna target when you train.
Yeah. So, and another thing too, just transitioning into the training into the design style of because I know for me, when I look at training, I look at it as if I’m an artist. I view my body as a canvas, and I’m sure you feel the same way. Looking at some of the older bodybuilders versus some of the newer ones, and comparing physiques and its reflection in your style of training, and the muscle balance by not being a mass monster. I mean, you’re up in New Jersey and New York and all that, you’ve got a lot of friends that are pros and have been in the game for a while. You guys tend to have that classic style of body, where you’re not overly bulky big, but it’s balanced. As you move forward, even as you work with some of your clients that you train, how important is aesthetics to you over size?
Where I grew up in Philadelphia where I’m from, there wasn’t that many bodybuilders. So if I go to Jersey or I go to New York there’s more. But I always admired likes of Frank Zane, Berry Demey, and Rich Gaspari. I remember when he started competing on the circuit. He was the one that really proved too that with definition he was really good. He showed me here’s an Italian, whose not possessing the best genetics kind of built like me where thicker waist, the legs overpower his upper body, his arms are little bit behind in development, and that’s the same construction I have. I just saw what he did to place 2nd in Mr. Olympian. Then Lee Haney he just worked the best he could, but he really brought that whole level condition to another level.
And I knew just by my structure I’m not going to be a big monster like Ronnie, but I always admired that Frank Zane, Berry Demey, Lee Labrada. We’re almost like how classic physique is now, but from the physiques they had back in the 80’s and 70’s. But if your compare Samir Bannout who won the ’83 Mr. Olympian at 185 or 192 pounds that same feat would be hard just win the Pennsylvania state body building show with that weight. You might, depends on who shows up, but most likely, guys are weighing in the 210’s, 220’s.
But I always admired that aesthetic, lean muscle and I think it’s a more obtainable look. Especially I think when you get older, I think you can still carry that on your frame as well. I know that you look at the bigger bodybuilders back in the day, and when they retire, they lose a lot of muscle. Jay Cutler’ was always very healthy, but he looked like the really big guys; over 300 pounds in the off-season. Now you see him in retirement, and lifestyle changes, and cutting down on a lot of stuff he is much smaller. The leaner ones, Troy Alves who’s a current perfect example of not over doing it. He still looks wonderful, and he holds a lot of muscle per pound on his frame. He could get back in shape in four or five weeks because he’s got lean muscle. I think that’s a little healthier on your body and then when you retire, if you do decide to step back in the game, you just flip that switch and you can get back easy.
Yeah, I kind of look at it the same way. Are you’re thinking about doing any more shows?
You know, right now I’m just getting over a full torn rotator. Actually I just came from the doctor’s today, and I had something pretty unique that’s call PRP, where they take the blood out of the shoulder, they spin it and put all the nutrients.
Oh, I’m familiar with it. Kevin Levrone was doing that with his knees, wasn’t he?
Yeah, exactly. The doctor I’ve been going to is sort of one of the first ones to pioneer that treatment. Then there’s the old body build mentality more must be better for that treatment but my doctor’s like, nah you’re still making progress. Every week you’re getting more stronger, you know when you put your utility belt at work, you’re getting more range of motion. He says for 12 weeks, this is your 10th week. Let me see you in four more weeks and he’s asking me questions like, does it bother you at night when you sleep, can you reach up above and grab the cereal bowl, yes. I said look, I could do all that persistent daily living, I just want to get my bench and my incline stronger.
The doctor’s like, “Normal people can’t put their jacket on without help, and you just want to be stronger”. Well I’m a body builder, and I wanna be able to do more exercises pain free. And after talking to him, he understand my viewpoint. Shoulder feels a little better now, so I could probably compete in November, so I’m getting a little leaner, I’m just fine for the summer. But again I always compete against my former best, so if I compete in November, and depending on the show, like you saw as well as I do, the level of competitors are really starting to fade down in body building, they’re gearing more toward classic physique. Men’s physique. So I know I could probably place well, but I want to beat my former best, which was when I competed and my son saw me in 2016, so if I can’t beat that guy on stage-
You’re just going to wait.
I going to wait to compete. So I really need a nice off-season, you know moderate to heavy training, a nice nutritional/ supplemental protocol, and get my mind set right and stuff like that. But I could probably flip the switch and compete in November, but I just don’t want to get up- the judges are like, wow this guy has not competed in years. I don’t want to come back and they’re going to remember even the last show and be judged that day against your peers and on stage, I felt like every time I compete I want to be better than last time. That was just fine for us. Next year I’ll be back on stage.
For us bodybuilders, it’s not about our last lift and how strong we are. I see you’ve done some powerlifting too so that’s the comparison. Bodybuilding is more subjective in terms of its approach and what you see visually and opinions. We’re like true artists, and true critics of ourselves, and we should always be our worst critic. We’re always going to try to put the best package up there possible for evaluation. We are not necessarily just trying to be the best at the time, but we are trying to beat our former self. We want to see the improvements, and see some type of progression. I tore my quad tendon last year so trying to get that rebalance shape back in the leg is just a process man. It’s such a long process. Your performance evaluation for this sport is so visual. There’s not a whole lot you can do in terms of rushing how that thing looks. Because it took you that long to build that muscle up.
It’s funny, you talked about symmetry and that is what I was always known for. I tore my right quad when I was working in corrections about 10, 12 years ago. I stepped on water and the impact of the fall I tore it. I had the rehab, I had surgery, and that was tough. And just three years ago, right after Christmas, I never walk around the house barefoot, never. I was going downstairs to get a drink of water, which I don’t know why, I was just going to the bathroom and get a drink of water.
I think that water is colder in the refrigerator, which it is. So I’m coming down the steps, half asleep, and I fell down the steps, tore the other quad, so I had both quad tears and the judge was like, you going to try to come back? The injury actually caused symmetry because of scars on both legs. And he knows that a quad tear is just so hard in your mind, let alone physically. It’s the rehab, and once that muscle pulls up, just the weight you have to have, and the stability and shape is tough.
I remember being 100% from rehab, eleven months later I was still nervous walking on ice, I’m like, God! I’m going to fall, I’m going to have to get another surgery. So you’re very careful, very almost cautious with things you used to take for granted. Now I’m going to do treadmill for cardio and maybe not the elliptical, maybe I’ll do the bike so I don’t want to fall. It’s kind of like it really sets you back a little bit, more than just physical but psychological.
I have had both quad tears, and it’s kind of like, I’m very blessed to still have full range of motion, I can squat, I can get everything again. But the first one was kind of like, the doctor was like I don’t think you can walk again, let alone bodybuild. I’m like, really? And the physical therapist said, yeah, he has to say that to you because of liability.
It’s what you put into the PT- the rehab. You’re going to beat this thing. Well, they put me in a little bit of a black corner, said that you’re never going to train again, let alone have no trouble walking. So I was just like, it hit my mind that alright, shit happens.
It seems like I would never get injured in the gym. I tore my pec once in the gym doing weighted dips, not the ego thing I just think that I increased too much. I don’t get injured doing training; almost like Branch Warren who falls off a horse to get hurt. He doesn’t gets injured doing that crazy weight in the gym, he always gets doing normal life stuff.
Oh. The dumbest thing.
I just think that we’re not built for normal stuff. Our bodies are so big and heavy and muscular, and our flexibility’s not the best. As soon as we land wrong or fall just right we’re going to break something.
Oh dude, listen. That whole falling down the steps, tearing the quad; that’s how I did mine.
You’re just a big guy, and the impact is kind of like-
You could bounce right back up. No, you can’t. You’re not bouncing right back up. Not if you’re over 200 pounds, and you used to lifting so much weight, it’s the impact that gets you.
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Your body is just like, nah I think I’m going to take a nap right now.
You’re exactly right.
It is for people that work out, with any type of workout plan, when you get injured, I think the greatest test of an athlete is for you to make it back to the gym. For you to get back in and start training. To do what you can, the need to have that type of resolve. I know fortunately for us, because we are bodybuilders, there are alternative movements that we do anyway. So you know, you lose your legs, you work the upper-body. So you get out your feelings a little bit, and then you get that little kick in the butt. You’re kind of able to get out there and transition and get yourself going. I know I went through that, and I’m sure you went through that. It sounds like you went through that several times.
The mind is such a strong muscle, and I told you I was going to make a comeback in 2016. My son’s mom was giving me a little stress about child support, the works, and work was getting a little overtime crazy. Just my life seemed like I couldn’t’ catch a break, it seemed like I’d always work extra hard. I know there’s tests in life, and its how you deal with it. I said you know what, if I compete, and if I could train when I’m tired, and not eat when I’m hungry, and have to eat when I’m not hungry, and force myself to do cardio when I’m tired and sick, I can do anything in life.
So to me, competing in that structure almost is like it’s going to teach me that you are going to get through this. You’re going to have some gray areas, but you’re always going to see the light of the tunnel. I’ve always had two jobs, really. When I worked part time at a supermarket, it used to be A&P, Super fresh since ’83, so I was in produce there, and I kept that job up until when I had first gotten a year in my probationary period in corrections. So I resigned from that job four years ago. So I’ve always had a full time job and a part time job. The part time job was always weekends and one or two nights a week. So I would prep my own meals for two jobs then along came my son. Now I see guys having meals prepped for them by a company. They don’t work, or they take one client a day and they doing this. I’m thinking where the work effort is.
You ain’t struggle.
And I’m not jealous, they’re very blessed that they have that time. But me, I’m lucky if I get to floss my teeth. I’m on the phone, going to the bathroom, checking messages. I just don’t have the time, to just kick back and doing things. So I always had two jobs, and prepped my meals myself, and I always had to strive for that balance. I guess your body building- the competitive body building when you set yourself 18, 20, 22 weeks from a show that really teaches you about life.
If I could do this, to me, I could handle any adversity that comes my way. So I persevere with this, and even though I might not be the best on stage, I did it for 22 weeks, doing all the workouts, I didn’t miss a meal, I didn’t cheat on the diet, I gave 100% of myself. To me that’s why I like competing, because it’s teaching you that if I could do this, I could deal with that dumb stuff at work, or I could deal with some stuff that you really have no control over. Sitting in traffic when there’s a traffic accident. Well you can’t control that, you just do the best you can with it.
As I sit back now, okay, I just turned 44. I haven’t competed in years, but eventually I would love to make it back, because I think that because of how we train, we always train like we’re going to go back and do a show. There is no other way to train for us. We’re always training for improvement and for growth, so at any point in time, I’m like you know what? Shit let’s go. Of course the ultimate reward may be a pro card or something like that. More so, instead of all the drama of trying to chase that, it’s the reward of just improving yourself, and then hey, you know what? I made it back to the stage again. This is the best me that I have. To do that, and walk away with that, and to be content and be fulfilled in that. I think that at a later date in our lives, kind of where we’re at now, our perspective has changed, you know? Whereas earlier it was kind of live and die, now it’s like, man I’m just trying to live.
More than anything, I’m trying to live. I’m trying to be happy, I want my peers to be proud of me. I want my kids to be proud of me, I’m trying to do so that
it’s more inclusive instead of exclusive. I don’t necessarily want to be a hermit. Because it is and it can be as we both know a very selfish sport. As our children grow, we don’t want to necessarily do things to kind of push them away. We want to bring them in.
I look at if you’re a pro bodybuilder, that’s almost a job. My law enforcement job, your job, orthopedic surgeon, landscaper. That’s your job, that’s the way you got to support yourself. So I can understand that, if you’re a pro body builder that’s what you got to do to pay the bills. That’s one thing. You have to live to body build. That was my philosophy when I was younger. But now as I get older, I body build to live.
Bodybuilding is not paying my bills, my job is, but guys like Lewis, the top of the guys that opens up his gym, Dorian Yates has his own supplement company. Kai Greene was probably my favorite bodybuilder, and it was funny because I competed with a lot of pros, and back in the day I beat a lot of the pros when we were all young. Freddy Smalls, Shawn Rosen, Victor Delcampo, Chris Tuttle, Bob Ciccarello- these are all pros I competed with that I beat, and I have pictures of me and Shawn when we were younger, and Bob Ciccarello, Freddy Smalls-
Listen, you got to share these pictures with us as we put this thing together.
One of my favorite stories is Kai Greene. And Kai and I both started in the NGA- that’s the National Gym Association. He looked the same as he is now, just a smaller version. He and I- it’s 1994, the NGA Hercules in New York. Overall winner gets the NGA pro card. Kai won the heavy weight, which he was probably like 212 pounds. I won the light heavy. I looked at him.
He just looks like a freak, so he won the pro card. We shook his hand. The following year at ’95- the NGA South Jersey, I won the light heavy and got my pro card. The former winner Kai was there to hand me my trophy, and get my pro card.
Flash forward to 2000 when Kai got his IFBB pro card, he did his first show at the New York Pro, and he was still kind of like- he wasn’t full-bore, he was still kind of experimenting. I spoke to him and I said, Kai man, you look great. He goes, “Yeah”.
I said, “Do you remember me?”
He’s like, “Yes,” and he talked like real philosophical. “Yes, yes, you’re that gentleman from New Jersey, or Philly”. He goes, “We had a battle on stage! NGA Hercules and it was a tremendous battle and I came out victorious, and the following year you put your saddle on and you won and I see we had pro cards and we were both pro”s. And it was funny that he still remembered me, because I had this because I had this big freaky legs with a lot of vascularity. It was funny because he remembered that, and kind of like you start talking about that.
He was like, “Yo Man, this ain’t no joke. You know how we were pros in the other federation? Let me tell you something, this is a whole ‘nother level!”
And I’m like, “You’re blessed, I’m happy for you, I’m going to support you”.
“No, I’m telling you man, this is really—” he says, “You think you were working before? This is working three times!” So, it’s kind of like he was honest in saying, “Yeah, I’ve got my IFBB pro card, but the NGA pro card was easier, but now you really have to sacrifice and think about your health”. But it was cool that he remembered that.
Then we started talking about didn’t we compete with Shawn Roden? I said, “Yeah, I beat a bunch of pros back in the day when we were all basically no-name scrubs”. I said “Kai you’re the only pro that beat me!” and he goes, “Really?
I said, “You’re the only IFBB pro that beat me, everybody else I beat”, and then he was laughing and he shook my hand, and we started cutting’ it up. To this day if he still sees me, I say, “Kai, remember me, Anthony?
“Ah yeah from Philly, city big leg boy.” And we go back and reminisce. He’s a great guy.
He’s a true ambassador for the sport, I love the guy. It’s true Rocky Balboa, rags-to-riches story. He’s a wonderful person inside, out the sport. Now he’s pursuing something outside of the body building. So I mean, all these guys, they’re coming close to retirement, they’re not body building no more, they’re doing other venues to earn that cash. I think that significant they only can do this so much.
There’s like two more things here, because I don’t want to hold you past the hour. What is your affiliation with the GCode Nutrition? And two is, we can talk about how social media has changed the game, in terms of like- because you’ve seen the transition from how it was all about trying to get sponsored and all this. Now these guys, for social media, you’re pretty much able to create and bloom into your own deal. So you don’t necessarily need to have or be established as a super pro bodybuilder as much as it is in terms of the content, the quality and your own person in regards to marketing.
Yeah, I could do both. The first one was actually when I first competed, there used to be a company called SportPharma, which now-
I remember them.
Yeah. I remember going to my first Arnold Classic, we’re in the plane, and you go as a spectator. Back in the day they used to have that weekend pass- you get the pre-judging tickets, the tickets for expo, you used to get your pass that had the picture of Arnold, like the seminar for the following days.
I’m on a plane with a female NGA pro Nancy Andrews and Dr. Rick Silverman, who is a NGA pro, and they were both with Sports Forum. And they were sitting next to us, and of course we carried pictures, at least I did, because you see Craig Titus,
because you see Craig Titus, Lee Labrada or MikeQuinn, I would ask
“What do you think of these? How can I improve?” I always carried cool competitive pictures of me. And even back then I had that marketing in the back of my mind.
So I talked to these guys from SportPharma and they’re like, “I tell you, you should definitely put in an application”. The guy in charge of all the athletes was sitting right behind me, and he gave me his card, and I went to the booth and I showed him some pictures. So I got my first endorsement when like no one in the Philadelphia area— no one was endorsed. I was the first one. They kind of liked that, yeah I’m this guy who works two jobs, trains in the basement, got a national pro card.
I really said, “Look, I use your products”. Anything I didn’t use, I didn’t need to use. Everything I use, I say I use.
I believe in that too.
And then after SportPharma, was this other company. Animal Pak/Universal for a while. They tried changing brands and direction and things. Greg [Santarsierso] was actually my boss. He was in charge of athletes at Animal Pak, so when GCode started having their business. Their mindset is just so much better. It’s not to push their supplements, it’s kind of like, improve a little better each day. Keep your fellow person good. I just kind of liked their whole thought process, the whole mindset behind the products. It just fit.
Now all of us that were with Animal/Universal are back with GCode, so now we’re all reunited again. It’s better because- you saw the GCode lifestyle. Improve each day, help your brother out, don’t be aggressive, be humble. So their whole way of life there’s this—it’s really, really true. It just kind of hit me. So I’m very fortunate, very happy, and they’re all from Jersey. There’s a couple guys in Philly where I’m at. I’m very fortunate, very blessed to be with them. Sports Pharma, and the Animal/Universal, to GCode. I’ll be honest— everything from the first company, if I say I used it, I used it. If I didn’t use it I was very honest. I don’t like this because of this. So I was very honest in this sport and the product line. To say I’m very happy, I’m blessed to be part of GCode, and the new products coming out in the future. It’s a very nice, close-knit, supportive family.
It does come across that way. JGIII had recommended that I try some of the products. That was the first company I bought a pre-workout that came in like three different flavors. I was like, who does that?
Here’s the thing. Greg knows what athletes and bodybuilders want and need from his own experience. It was genius how the VICE pre-workout has three soda inspired flavors. Legend Lime for Mountain Dew—
Aww yeah, and the Cherry Swolla.
Cherry Swolla for Cherry Pepsi and Grinding Grape for Grape Crush. And the RISE BCAA/Recovery mix is that old school Stewart’s Orange Cream flavor. So he has all the flavors, I can’t really discuss it now, but there’s going to be his own personal flavor that he likes. So they’re going to be banging. In my mindset, I nearly match the flavors to my training which is great for me. Lately the Legend Lime has a different, unique taste. Once that hits my palette, I know it’s going to be leg day for Legend Lime. Every day you could pick a different flavor, and you don’t have to take the same boring flavor day in and day out. The product’s very unique, it’s a genius idea. And the products work, it doesn’t give you that crash coming down.
No, they don’t.
You don’t want to train and get the heart palpitations. It gives you enough concentration, energy to get the job done and then you’re done.
Yeah. I felt that it was real smooth. Very, very smooth.
And it tastes good. It doesn’t taste medicinal, it’s very smooth. It tastes great ice cold, it’s just a great product.
And I think that’s what I think I like about some of the workout enthusiasts now kind of taking that piece of it into their own hands now, you know? And they’re really trying to explore that aspect of the nutrition, and putting their own little products together. He has a movement. There’s no doubt about it. He has a serious movement going on right now, and it’s growing and it does seem like it’s catching fire for you guys. I’m very excited for you all.
Yeah, I’m very blessed to be part of the company. And we talked about the social media. If I wanted to learn about body load, I would buy Flex, old Musclemags, Ironman and Muscle & Fitness back in the day from a 7-Eleven. Another option would be following a competition show in New Jersey or New York and talking to the guest poser. I would write down questions the night before because I didn’t want to take too much of his time. I remember I saw Dorian Yates and I had a couple of questions I wanted to ask him. I saw Rich Gaspari guest pose; I had questions already lined up.
That’s how we got our information. We read the magazines, but then we would go see the guest poser, at least I was going to the bodybuilding shows and after the guest poser, I would ask him questions face to face. Do you really train this way? When you pre-contest do you really believe fish is the way when you stop red meat? All of my questions always were scientific, and I did not taking for granted the contact opportunity. And now with the social media, you don’t even have to train. You could just be a good looking guy taking pictures of yourself sitting on a bench and if you’ve got that look, you could have a thousand followers and start doing something. There’s a thousand people like that social media personality but is he really putting the work in? My Instagram stuff’s private on my account because of my job and not knowing who I’m dealing with and that keeps me from more followers. But I’m not about the followers, I’m just about the supporting the company that endorses me, GCode. I share the information because there are people like me who work 10, 12 hour jobs, who are in law enforcement, who are single fathers.
Who are about improving. So I try and make my posts almost informative. I jumped around I showed how to balance my son and my family. But I’m trying to help. If I can inspire just one person by a post, my job is done. And I really think that’s the way it should be.
Help people pick them up when they’re down, help them out.
Brick by brick, you’re not just out there posting trash trying to get views. It’s you showing this is how I’m working out, this is how I’m doing what I’m doing. If you like it great, if you don’t, okay. There’s probably somebody out there that’s gleaning something from it. Just to continue to try and shape and just mold, you control your content.
I’m in my uniform driving home, after working 16 hours, there’s a bunch of guys that say, “Wow! If this guy who works 16 hour days is gonna do a little cardio, and he’s 51. I’m 23 and I worked 10 hours, I should be able to do a little bit”. So I’m trying to motivate. So it’s not like I’m trying to brag, say “Yeah, look at me! I just worked 16 hours law enforcement. I’m gonna go home and kill it in my basement”. Now I’m just trying to like if I can do it, and I’m 51 and I worked 16 hours. If you working 10 hours and you’re 23, and you’re tired, get off your ass and use it for motivation. Show me how do you do it? You just do a little bit. As long as you do something, it’s better than nothing.
So I try and really help and motivate, and use it as a tool that look if I can do it, you can do it too.
Yeah. Yeah. And that’s what it’s all about man. I think that’s part of what attracted me to the Garage Gym Life scene. It’s like a family. And not just there, in some aspects we’re kind of an older community. We’re all kind of working out there, we’re trying to find time, we’re all trying to balance this thing out.
That’s the whole purpose of why we have the home gyms. Because that 20 minute or 30 minute sneak to the gym, to a commercial gym, half our workout’s done. We go outside, or go downstairs or go next door and that workout’s done. Like you said, we play our own music, have our own sets, have our own training area, and we just don’t have time to get outside.
Not even close to it.
Personal space to ourselves.
So you’re no longer trying to pull out three hours of your day. 30 minutes to drive there, hour and a half to workout, 30 minutes back. It’s like I have an hour to workout, that’s all I have, or an hour and a half, and you can actually get it done.
I think it makes you train harder, knowing that okay, look, I’ve got 45 minutes tonight to do shoulders, that’s all I have. Am I gonna be on social media, looking for motivation? I’ll put the loudest music I have down, whether it’s any type of music I have I’m gonna reveal my age, my cassettes lol. I’m gonna put that on, I might set up something on the shoulder lateral machine, I might have some dumbbells, I might have a shrug barbell set up, I might have a seated press machine. Like you said, I might just do a circuit. I might just do one set, one set once, after four sets bang it out. I have time to get showered I’m done with me.
Wow. That’s what I have to do, that’s all the time I have. So it makes you more productive. It makes me a lot more productive, doing that circuit training, you’re just- so I’m just gonna do the best I can. By the time you get to the gym, and you have to wait for equipment, you know there’s always gonna be buddies who wanna talk to you. That’s an hour wasted already.
It is. It is. It is, it is. So it just makes everything better, man. As we kind of close with our focus on balance and family, just our lifestyle it makes it all happen. Brother, I’m so glad I talked to you. It is unreal. I normally don’t do these.
You definitely have to come to New Jersey, PA. You let me know a week in advance, you can come to train, we can eat some good food, we’ll get in touch with the guys from GCode. We’re all over Jersey, Pennsylvania.
Sure enough, sure enough man.
We’re all within a half hour. But you definitely within a week, before you get here coming up, let us know we’ll get together. We’ll train and; it’s a good thing. I think we’ve got a good movement going here. I’m hoping- I’m happy and hopefully we could get more people on our side and really say, look, if you don’t have time to go to a gym, all you do is get a barbell, a spot rack and have some dedication. You start from there and you can build it. You can build whatever your mind lets you build.
No doubt. No doubt, no doubt, no doubt. Well, we’re gonna close out man. I appreciate you taking this time out, it’s been a wonderful conversation. You gave me a whole lot of good information. I hope the readers of this gleam a lot from you. If they wanna follow you man, I know you said it’s private, but they can at least request it.
@BigAnt1026 on Instagram. What I’ll do is I’ll tag you in some of the pictures like you say, you requested about me and Shawn Roden back in the day.
Yeah, any of that good stuff.
Yeah, I’ll put up a picture of me and Freddy Smalls from back in the day.
Yeah, that’ll work.
Yeah Freddy is a great guy. He’s like in Delaware, and Delaware is another home of good bodybuilders. I’m very blessed with such a community. Delaware is right down this way, New York and Jersey are right up the hill. So I’m very blessed that I’m not too far, maybe a bridge or a tunnel away. That I can get to the Founder’s Gym or Delaware at Diamond Gym. I know that you’ll rub elbows with somebody, and they’re always there for information.
Hey listen, man. I feel like I’ve met a new friend, a new family member up that way.
So when I come up, and me and the wife come up, I’m gonna definitely reach out to you ahead of time, so that we can break bread. Okay, Ant?
I’m looking forward to that. Sounds good, definitely.