Intensity Or Insanity: Part 6

I miss the gyms that were loaded with barbells and dumbbells and void of cardiovascular equipment. After all...during our workouts our hearts were beating faster than Ringo Starrs drums when he was playing for the Beatles.

Note: This is part six, click here for part one!
click here for part two!
click here for part three!
click here for part four!
click here for part five!
click here for part seven!

Standing onstage sucks...even when I won the USA. It was never about the contest... It was always about the workout. My battle was with the barbells and the dumbbells and my battlefield was the gym. My victory was beating the weights and machines and surpassing anything that I and anyone else had ever done before. Feeling my hands wrap around the cold bar and thinking about moving a quarter of a ton of steel was a thrill that only few will ever experience.

Everyday I am faced with people who ask me if I will ever compete again. Little do they realize that I compete everyday. Every time that I lift a weight I compete against myself. I strive to lift more in less time with better results. That's right...Its all about the workout! Do people really think that standing onstage at the USA was the thrill of my life?

I stood up there feeling weak, tired and dehydrated. I stood there waiting for something to happen that would justify the 20 years that I had invested in the sport... The missed weddings and parties, the birthdays and holidays where I ate chicken and rice instead of birthday cake, barely paying the bills and the lost relationships due to my focus on winning a contest.

Then the next day came and it dawned on me... It was all about the workout! The 40 and 50 set routines that left me exhausted but proud.

Proud of the intensity and effort that went into each workout and every set. I would dream of new goals and go after them day after day. I love the feeling of strength and power and the look of a healthy, strong body.

The real thrill of bodybuilding was not in the contest onstage but instead the thrill came from the intense workouts and the achievements that were made in the gym. Squatting 450 for 40 reps to the floor, warming up with 315 on the Incline press for 30 reps, doing 50 sets of barbell curls for biceps and 60 sets of heavy back work! That's what is was all about...the workout.

Standing onstage could not rival the feeling that I got from having fans travel from Belgium and Holland to Florida just to witness one of our Intensity or Insanity leg workouts. That was the pinnacle of greatness! To show the Europeans that we had more balls then anyone they had ever seen! I remember that day like it was yesterday...four of them had borrowed chairs from out of the sales offices and arranged them around the squat rack, leg press and lunge area. They sat there mummified like they were watching something out of Ripley's Believe it or not! How could we let them down? How could we not put 110% into every rep and every set? We moved about like fine tuned machines, ready to take on any challenge.

That's right...It was all about the workout and it was up to me to make sure that nobody did it better! I thrived on my reputation of being one of the hardest training bodybuilders in the country. That meant a lot more to me than standing onstage in little teeny bullshit posing trunks in front of a bunch of guys that never trained yet were there to judge me! That's right...what gave Peter Potter the right to judge me? Did he ever lift a damn weight before? It certainly didn't look like it!

To this day I resent the fact that they let someone like that judge my physique! As I sit here and think back I realize that it was always about the hard workouts and the discipline it took to move those weights and finish those sets. Everybody always told me that I was overtraining. They always said that I would burnout and not last. I sit here and laugh when I think about the 34 years that I have been training. I am still training and I feel great. I am 260 and hard at 44 years old.

Still playing with weights that would crush 20 year olds that are juiced up on every drug in the book. Trying my damndest to motivate the younger ones and have them realize that success is derived from hard work and dedication.

What More Could I Ask For?

Happily married, successful in my business and still training like a madman! Most people will read this and think that I am crazy... I am not nuts...just happy to be able to do what I love and do it with passion... TRAIN...TRAIN..TRAIN and motivate others to be the best they can be!

"Mentzers Heavy Duty one set and two set workouts were more the norm because we live in a world full of lazy people."

I always believed in high volume intense workouts. The workouts that were originated by champions like Arnold, Tom Platz and Serge Nubret. Unfortunately the high volume workouts never became real popular. Mentzers Heavy Duty one set and two set workouts were more the norm because we live in a world full of lazy people. Everybody bought into the bullshit... half hour workouts so they had more time to be lazy. With all due respect to Mike Mentzer and his accomplishments...why was it that he hadn't trained for the last twenty years and was in the worst shape of his life before his sad and tragic death?

If the Heavy Duty system was developed to prevent burnout, why did he ultimately burnout 20 years ago? Why was it that people still embraced every article that he had written prior to his passing and many of them adopted the Heavy Duty system?

It is a phenomenon that has amazed me to this day. Gone are the days of the hardcore gyms. The gyms that were engulfed in the atmosphere of blood, sweat and guts. Those gyms have been replaced by the Family Fitness Centers, Richard Simmons and electronic vibrating fuckin abdominal devices. I miss the gladiators and the warriors that once trained behind the walls of Mr. America's gym in New York. I miss the competitions that we had in the gym to see who trained the hardest and who didn't make it to their cars after the workouts.

I miss the gyms that were loaded with barbells and dumbbells and void of cardiovascular equipment. Cardiovascular equipment? Bikes, treadmills, stairmachines? No way...they didn't exist! After all...during our workouts our hearts were beating faster than Ringo Starrs drums when he was playing for the Beatles. We didn't need to waste time doing cardio...it was already built in. It couldn't get any better.

We lived to train and trained to live...
and we loved every minute of it!
It was all about the workout!
And for me...it still is!

Note: This is part six, click here for part one!
click here for part two!
click here for part three!
click here for part four!
click here for part five!
click here for part seven!

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Thanks,

John Defendis