An Interview With The Legendary Bill Grant, Mr. World & Mr. America.

Widely regarded as one of the legends of bodybuilding, Bill Grant, 58, continues to involve himself in the sport at a number of levels. Learn what he is up to these days...
Widely regarded as one of the legends of bodybuilding, Bill Grant, 58, continues to involve himself in the sport at a number of levels. President and owner of Bill Grant Nutrition (the next generation of sports and performance nutrition), acclaimed bodybuilding expert and spokesperson, emcee of numerous bodybuilding shows and active participant, Bill, Mr World and Mr America winner, is showing no sign of slowing down.

With over 40-years of professional experience in bodybuilding, Bill enjoys passing on his knowledge to others who aim to commit themselves, as Bill has done, to a lifelong quest for physical and mental well-being.

Bill has gained a number of credits throughout his career: he has produced and hosted his own Comcast Cable television fitness program and radio show on WEVD 1050-AM "Fit for Life" with a combined monthly audience of over 1.5 million people, has appeared in numerous movies (ABC's Friday Night Movie of the Week, Hustler of Muscle Beach and the new release of Pumping Iron starring Arnold Schwarzenegger), theatrical productions and television shows (Runaway Train and Smokey Robinson Review) and commercials (Toyota, McDonald's, Bally's/Jack Lalane).

Bill has also appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, WOR, & ESPN and recently on Fox News, The Big Story with Rita Cosby. His articles and interviews in health and fitness magazines worldwide easily identify him as the perfect spokesperson for a vigorous exercise program, proper nutrition and a healthy attitude.

Bill is active in numerous community and charitable organizations including the Metropolitan YMCAs of the Oranges Kids Care Club, Newark YMCA Sports Legends, the Parkinson's Unity Walk, and the Alan T. Brown Foundation.

I recently spoke to Bill about his life in bodybuilding and what he has yet to achieve.

[ Q ] What are you doing at the moment, and what are your future goals?

    I am the owner and President of Bill Grant Nutrition. I am active in numerous community and charitable organizations including the Metropolitan YMCAs of the Orange's Kids Care Club, Newark YMCA Sports Legends, the Parkinson's Unity Walk, and the Alan T. Brown Foundation.

    I am featured in a new book called "Fit Over 40" by Jon Benson. I also emcee bodybuilding and fitness shows. I will be the master of ceremonies for the Muscle Beach bodybuilding and figure shows in Venice California on Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day.

2004 Muscle Beach Bash.
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    To work with and support my friend Joe Wheatley on building the first Muscle Beach Hall of Fame and Museum at the famous Venice Beach, California.

[ Q ] Where do you live, and what is the bodybuilding culture like there? Which gym do you train at?

    I am currently living in the North Jersey area. Basically the same as it is anywhere else in the world. Bodybuilding as you said is a culture within itself. It is almost like it is a common bond.

    I train at Diamond Gym located in Maplewood, New Jersey. Most people might already know this information but Diamond Gym was named the #1 Hardcore Gym in the Nation. Bodybuilding stars such as Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates, Craig Titus, and Gunter Schlierkamp have all trained there at one time or another.

[ Q ] Please provide some background on yourself (age, height, weight, measurements, history). What have been your biggest accomplishments in bodybuilding?

    Age - 58
    Height - 5'9"
    Weight - 185 lbs.

    I no longer take measurements. It's now more important to stay in good condition. My biggest accomplishments in bodybuilding was winning the Mr. America (1972) and Mr. World (1974) titles.

[ Q ] What got you started in bodybuilding? What motivated you to be the best?

    When I was in high school I only weighed 110 lbs. I was so small they wouldn't let me play football (they didn't have a football uniform small enough). After seeing Steve Reeves pull down the pillars in the movie Hercules, that was it. I was so motivated I even tried to pull down some fake pillars myself.

    Today, my motivation comes when I see people who are the same age as I am and terribly out of shape. It makes me think I don't like the idea of aging so it does give me a lot of motivation to continue a strict exercise program so I can continue to have a good quality of life even into my later years. I've been training now since the age of fourteen.

[ Q ] What is the quickest way to get in shape in your experience?

    Getting in shape depends on the individual. How long of a lay off you had can determine how long it will take to get back in shape. Also playing a big part is genetics, metabolism and how well you respond to exercise and diet. Some people respond faster than others. How hard one is willing to work can also be a determining factor.

    Today, at 58-years-old, my body-fat is around 10%, despite the fact I don't do much cardio. This percentage is very lean for me.

[ Q ] Have you made any major bodybuilding mistakes?

    At one time I tried training twice a day, six days per week to gain muscle and I actually lost five pounds.

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[ Q ] Are there any programs that really worked for you?

    At one point I tried a three-day-per-week abbreviated program. Dips, chins and squats super-setted with pullovers (twenty reps for squats and pullovers).

    With this program I was finished in an hour. However, I did gain 25 lbs of muscle in four months.

[ Q ] Describe your current diet. Is there merit in having an off-season? If so, why?

    My current diet almost mirrors the way I dieted back in the days when I was competing. I eat about four or five meals a day consisting of about 60% protein, 30% carbohydrates and about 10% fat. I also have had a fast metabolism so I never really had to diet as hard or as long as most of the guys from back in the day.

    I take plenty of supplements because foods are not as clean today due to soil depletion. My nutrient profile is 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. The foundation of a good nutrition program is quality protein such as tuna, chicken breast (skinless), egg whites, turkey breast (skinless), non-fat yogurt, non-fat milk, and non-fat cottage cheese.

    Complex and high fiber carbohydrates round out one's nutritional balance and include oatmeal, rice, squash, potatoes, whole grains and pasta. Also included in this category are legumes, such as various beans and peas. High fiber carbohydrates include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach and zucchini.

    In saying all of this, every Friday night is pizza night. I do allow myself to go off my diet occasionally. Good nutrition doesn't mean you can't eat your favorite foods on occasion. The trick is learning moderation and balance.

[ Q ] What is a typical days eating for you?

    Meal One: Bowl of oats, yogurt, creatine cocktail and 10 aminos.

    Meal Two: Protein drink.

    Meal Three: Rice and beans (sometimes with eggs).

    Meal Four: Filet mignon with yam.

    Meal Five: Protein drink.

[ Q ] What were your eating habits when you were competing back in the day?

    Nutrition has changed so much since the 1970s when I won Mr America and Mr World. There weren't many supplements back then. Rheo H. Blair's products back then were exceptional, especially his protein.

    Dieting for bodybuilders was much more relaxed in those days in the off-season. Then twelve weeks out we would step up the dieting and training to get ready for the upcoming competition.

    The standard diet for getting ripped was six-meals-per-day, high protein and fats with no carbs - and this was before Atkins. Believe it or not, I never counted calories or grams of anything. What mattered was how I looked in the mirror. I got in the best shape of my life eating low carbs for three days and carbing up for one day. This made the diet very manageable.

    The only difference I'd make today is to cut back on the saturated fats, replacing them with healthier fats. I'd still keep the protein high and have low carb days for 2-3 days at a time then high carbs for one day.

[ Q ] Describe some of the experiences you had training, and competing, in the 70s.

    There is one that really sticks out in my mind. There was this young guy who was visiting Gold's in 1975. I don't really know where he was from but he wanted to do legs with me because he heard I had bad legs. Well I think I did more reps and sets on legs than I had ever done to show this new kid on the block that training at Gold's Gym was no kids play.

    Well when all was said and done the young man I had trained with had left the gym. Kent Kuehn was working the front desk this day and told me he witnessed the guy I just finished training legs with walk out the front door and when he stepped off the curb to cross the street he fell right over. Needless to say I never saw this guy again.

    So I think the moral of this story is don't challenge an athlete unless you know you can keep up.

    There are two great experiences from my competition days.

    • First was when I won the Mr. America title in 1972. It was probably the most emotional moment in my bodybuilding career.

    • The second moment was when I won the Mr. World title in 1974 at Madison Square Garden with 5,000 screaming fans. Oh what a feeling it was standing in the winners circle with Arnold Schwarzenegger who had just won the overall Mr. Olympia, Franco Columbo who had just won Mr. Olympia in the under 200 lb class and Bob Birdsong who had just won the Mr. America competition. By the way it was a clean sweep for Gold's Gym.a

Bill Grant @ The 2005 Arnold Classic.

[ Q ] I will list some of your fellow competitors from the early days. Say the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of this person. What were they like as competitors?

[ Q ] In your view, how has bodybuilding changed over the past 30 years?

    That's a great question and I will try and give you my honest opinions. I think back 30 years ago when we were just a small sub cultured group. We seemed to have a lot more camaraderie meaning we did a lot of things together as a group. We were one big happy family.

    I think we all had a lot in common and of course at that time we were viewed by the outside world as a kind of strange bunch of guys but I don't think that we really cared because we had each other. Believe me we all had a lot of fun and a heck of a lot of great memories. I wouldn't have changed a thing.

    On the other hand today with the presence of money and the chance of endorsements and contracts, I think the attitudes have changed with the newer group of guys. There seems to be more animosity, jealously and a lack of real camaraderie between the competitors. Well as they say money seems to change everything and it's a shame it has to come to this but I guess that is the reality of it all.

    Now when we talk about bodybuilding itself, I am at a loss of what direction we are taking in the sport. Years ago we used to have a lot of the top television networks cover some of the major competitions such as the Mr. Olympia, the Mr. Universe and some of the other professional bodybuilding shows.

    Today it seems like the networks are shying away from bodybuilding events. I guess we have to ask ourselves what has gone wrong with the sport in the past 30 years. Have we lost credibility in the media and in the public's eye? Does the sport no longer seem believable to mainstream America? Are there other serious issues that are hurting the credibility of the sport?

    You know as far as I am concerned this is one of the best sports and it will always have my support because this sport has really meant a lot to me. It seems to me that our sport could be in jeopardy if we don't try and change the direction we are going. Only time will tell.

[ Q ] What other interests and hobbies do you have Bill?

    Well I have several starting with golf, car racing, football, spending time with the family. Speaking of family I have four children and eight grandchildren. I also enjoy working with the YMCA here in the area with programs that help raise funds for after school care and education.

    The YMCA has a special place in my heart because I competed in my first bodybuilding competition at age 17.

[ Q ] What is your view on supplements in general? Which ones do you use and why?

    I think supplements are a very intricate part of not only bodybuilding but for everyone especially those involved in a strenuous exercise. I do admit not all supplements on the market are cracked up to what they claim to be but there are a lot out there that do work. You should learn to read and understand the labels and compare them to see which one is the best to support your needs. Most important you should know if there is scientific research to back up their claims.

    As you might already know I have my own supplement company, Bill Grant Nutrition. My product is a pre-post workout recovery drink called Creatine Cocktail.

    As I said in the last paragraph there should be some scientific research behind the product. My formulator has done just that. He has an enormous track record. He has written over 5,000 articles for fitness magazines, newspapers and has appeared on numerous television shows. He also was the nutritionist for Oscar De La Hoya back in the days when he was winning every fight and he also worked with Vlade Divac of the Sacramento Kings. That's why we say this is a cutting edge product.

    This advanced muscle building formula has everything you need for your workout and recovery (incredible pumps and explosive energy). Testimonials from those who have tried my product have said they can feel the power!

    Along with my own Creatine Cocktail I also take protein powder, vitamins, mineral tablets, amino acids and liver tablets. This combination works well for me.

[ Q ] What are your strengths and weaknesses from a physical point of view? Is there anything you would like to improve?

    That's a good question that sometimes we all must be honest with ourselves if we ever expect to make progress with our training. Well my best body part were arms and I was also known for my back, abs and muscularity.

    My calves were really my worst body part. If I could go back and do it over again I would have listened to the people that told me I could actually increase my calf size if I would only focus on them more. But I have to say right now my calves are a marked improvement from years ago. I decided after I retired from bodybuilding that I would build some respectable calves.

[ Q ] What is your view on the future of bodybuilding? Do you think it will ever be accepted by mainstream society as a legitimate sport?

    Sometimes in any sport when things get out of hand you are compelled to make some type of comment that could improve the condition of the sport for the better. In the past years we have seen a decline in the sport of bodybuilding. Years ago we were seen on network programs featuring the Premier Bodybuilding Shows. There were endless commercials and appearances by bodybuilders on major network television shows, and articles and photos in mainstream magazines. I thought at that time bodybuilding was finally getting the positive recognition it deserved. How great was this!

    Now we have a situation that has nearly turned our sport upside down. So we say to ourselves who can we blame for the state of affairs the sport is in now. Well I say we can't blame any one person directly for our problems. I think that we have to put the blame on ourselves for letting the sport slip into this situation.

    Here is a scenario of how I think we have gotten to where we are right now. Of course after Pumping Iron there was a whole new appreciation for Bodybuilding. Everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon for this new craze of "bodybuilding". We now were the new kids on the block. It seemed like this bodybuilding thing had swept enjoyment, enthusiasm and most of all acceptability to people around the world.

    Gyms were cropping up all over the country. They were becoming like liquor stores, one on every corner. So we ask ourselves what went wrong? I think after the film bodybuilders wanted to be bigger and better than those who appeared in Pumping Iron. The public relished the fact that the guys were getting bigger and more ripped then ever.

    Now I can certainly appreciate the size and more definition but at what price did we have to pay to get here. Maybe I can see how this happened. The fans wanted to see more and the magazines were printing statements like will there ever be a 300 lb. bodybuilder. The bodybuilders were put in this situation because everyone wanted more which translates into taking more risks with their health. So I think it is up to all of us to try and fix what has gone wrong. Just one last thought, if we don't rectify the situation bodybuilding could cease to exist and I don't think any one of us wants to see this happen.

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    Yes, I think bodybuilding could become a mainstream sport if we work together to alleviate the problems we have in the sport.

[ Q ] Describe a typical day in the life of Bill Grant.

    A typical day for me would start at 6:30am everyday. I am a personal trainer as well as owner of my own company. I train my clients in the morning and train myself in the afternoon.

    The rest of my day consists of business meetings and personal appearances at stores and gyms. I also have several other projects I am working on which requires a lot of my time and attention.