An Interview With Talented Amateur Bodybuilder Peter Putnam.

The very talented and competitive amateur bodybuilder Peter Putnam recently took time to update us on the controversy surrounding the USA's, plans for 2007 Nationals, judging, turning pro, and much more!
I met Peter Putnam shortly after his 2004 Collegiate Win while working at a bodybuilding booth in the Arnold Classic. Since then, we've seen each other at every big show and become good friends.

One thing that I have always liked about Peter is that besides being a very nice and positive fellow, he works hard and achieves each one of his goals, but yet, remains true to who he is and does not allow success to get to his head. He also keeps things in perspective, understands the business side of bodybuilding, and above all, treats his fans with the respect that they deserve to be treated.

Putnam
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Peter Putnam.

Back when I met Peter he knew that one day he would become an IFBB Pro. When he talked about his goals back then, I knew that he was the type that would set a goal, put a plan together, and works that plan no matter what until the goal is achieved. So it was no surprise to me that he won his Light-heavyweight class at the USA's and is now about to turn pro, in my opinion, at the '07 Nationals.

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Peter took time away from his busy schedule to be part of this interview and share what he thinks about his placing at the USA's, the "controversy" behind his win, how he feels heading towards the Nationals and what his plans are once he turns pro.

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[ Hugo ] Hi Peter. Very glad to be able to interview you for Bodybuilding.com. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this in the last few weeks prior to the Nationals. As I know from experience, even picking up the remote control or the phone is hard during that time.
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    [ Peter ] I'm happy to do it Hugo. Thanks for taking the interest to interview me.

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[ HR ] My pleasure Peter. You're the 2007 USA's Light-heavyweight champion. Congratulations on your win. I felt you looked awesome and were clearly the winner! You beat out 30 other great competitors and you were so close to taking home a pro card. I heard there was only one vote that separated you and DeShaun Grimez who took home the second pro card. Were you upset that you didn't earn your pro card?
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    [ PP ] Thanks. I heard that but I'm not certain. It had to be close. Both Ben White and DeShaun looked great. No, I wasn't upset I didn't earn my pro card that evening. It's not like I lost or was runner up again. I am the '07 USA Light-heavyweight winner. That title is something to be proud of. It just wasn't my time, so now I am on to the Nationals.

Ben White DeShaun Grimez
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Ben White And DeShaun Grimez.

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[ HR ] That's an awesome accomplishment. You seem to have a good perspective on things and a positive attitude. Last year you were the runner up in the Light-heavies at the '06 USA's, your first time competing there. It must have felt great to come in a year later and take the class? What were your thoughts heading into the show?
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    [ PP ] It was definitely nice to win. I had a lot of pressure heading into the '07 USA's. I spent a year preparing for that show, so a lot was on the line. I just wanted to improve and show everyone that I was a true contender for the light-heavy class.

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    I wanted the judges to see improvement. I knew I should try and be a little fuller but yet harder. When the Flex cover hit prior to the USA's I knew I had to bring it. As far as I was concerned I felt that I would be under the microscope and be critiqued even harder.

Peter
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I Wanted The Judges To See Improvement.

    I didn't expect to be handed anything. And I wasn't! My goal was to prove that I was the best there and back up all the build-up I was receiving heading into the show. I feel I did just that!

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[ HR ] I agree you did. A lot of competitors would have folded. In my opinion you were the competitor in your class with the fewest amount of flaws and you carried yourself the most professional; however, your win didn't go without some controversy.
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    [ PP ] I can appreciate that people have opinions. The sport is subjective. I have viewed many photos. I have had access to photos from photographers that people on the boards weren't given access to. These photos show things clearer or at best different than what so many have seen on the net.

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    First off, how can someone judge a show if they weren't there? And how can they judge in a few pictures? The judges had the best view and I think they got it right.

    As far as the boards, they don't represent the true bodybuilding fan base. All the positive and supportive e-mails and messages I have received after the USA's and leading into the Nationals are proof positive of that. I feel I brought a solid package at the USA's. I was definitely fuller and harder from the front.

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[ HR ] It seems that there was some notion that having a Flex cover could have caused you to win your class at the USA's.
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    [ PP ] What sense is that? That's ridiculous! Weider doesn't do anything other than give someone exposure and try and sell a magazine. They don't pay judges. I don't get how these things are even suggested. I don't think the judges cared that I was on a cover of Flex. Who knows how many of them even read bodybuilding magazines? If anything, they weren't going to give me a win because of a cover, I had to earn it!

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    Explain last year - I didn't have much exposure or hype when I entered the '06 USA's and was runner-up there. No one said anything negative following my placing there. If anything I received a lot of positive words and new supporters.

06 USA's
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2006 USA Prejudging.

    I think the tide turns when you are now the favored competitor heading into a show. Now everyone wants to see you fail. People will always pull for the under dog. I noticed it tends to be the other competitors who say off-base comments because they are unhappy with their placings.

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Do You Believe The Flex Cover Helped Peter Win?

Yes
No

    I mean, how smart can a competitor be for attacking me for my placings when they should be more concerned about themselves. Instead of focusing on something they can't control they should be asking the judges what they need to do to improve. They should then go to work and plan on doing whatever it takes to get better.

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[ HR ] Most definitely. Interestingly enough, I noticed that very few competitors stayed after the show asking the judges for feedback, which I found to be odd. What do you think you could have improved or done differently for the USA's? And what are you doing differently heading into the Nationals?
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    [ PP ] In hindsight, I would have begun to prep just a little further out. I realize that my glutes could have been a bit tighter. I think starting my prep a little further out would have helped tighten that area, along with certain exercises. But people got to remember that bodybuilding is not a body-part competition. And it isn't a glute contest.

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    With that said, I plan on doing whatever it takes to improve. I am not doing much differently. I think just extending the diet was remedy enough. George Farah - had I put together a solid plan - and I feel that you'll be seeing a better package in Dallas at the Nationals.

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Yohimbe EX.

    One thing I have done is add in Yohimbe. I think it's made a big difference. I am also doing more movements to stress my glutes and hams that I wasn't doing prior to the USA's. My goal at the Nationals is to be better than I was at the evening show at the USA's. I think I am on point for that. I am just as full as I was at the USA's but my glutes are tighter now then they were in Vegas.

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[ HR ] My conditioning this year improved dramatically as I started to prep earlier and really worked on the backside of my legs to bring detail I've never had before in. I know that strategy will work for you as well, and with the mass you carry that'll be interesting to see. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you bring to stage in Dallas. You no doubt have been putting in the work and your physique will be hard to beat. What is it like to go from being an unknown to someone everyone is talking about? What's it like to have fans now? Why do you feel that you have become so popular?
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    [ PP ] It's been quite a whirl wind of a ride. And a ride it has been. It's crazy to go from seeing guys you've seen in the mags and that you've admired and now being that guy in the mags and having people admiring you, all while still being amateur. It sometimes seems surreal.

    I could have only imagined when I first started bodybuilding that I would one day be featured in a magazine let alone appear on the cover of one. How cool is that? The Flex cover still blows my mind. I will cherish that forever. I only hope it isn't the last time and it's the beginning of many more. That would be awesome.

Flex
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The Flex Cover Still Blows My Mind.

    I once dreamed of being on a cover and that's happened. Now I need more dreams. So hopefully bigger and better things await. And if this was it for me, I also realize that I was blessed to become a piece of bodybuilding history. That's something I can always cherish and show the kids.

    Jessica and I feel so blessed to be experiencing this together. As far as the fans, they're awesome. I never really thought about having fans. I am truly grateful for all the support and kind words we receive.

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    It's truly humbling to have someone come up to you at a show and tell you that you inspire them. Yesterday I had someone contact me and tell me to look at their MySpace page. They had an image of me as their wallpaper. It's a great feeling.

Peter Putnam
Peter Putnam Wallpaper
Top NPC Bodybuilder.
Photo By Isaac Hinds.
Week #86 - 11/06/2007
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    I have had e-mails from guys telling me I am their favorite bodybuilder. That's crazy. I realize what it's like to be on the other side of the table and I will never lose that perspective. I mean, who am I? You gotta keep it real and realize that if it weren't for the bodybuilding fans then we would be nothing!

    I think the popularity comes with how you are perceived and perhaps your look. I guess people can relate and connect with you on a different levels. And when they meet you it's important to let them know that you aren't any better then them, that you were once where they where.

    It's important to take the time and actually interact with someone. Be transparent and real. If you are passionate and can share your thoughts on training and nutrition people will respect you.

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[ HR ] You know Peter, I know what you mean. Last week I had the honor to spend the day with Lee Labrada, one of my long time bodybuilding idols/role models, at his headquarters. If someone would have told me back in 1990 when I started training that one day I'd be working with Lee Labrada I would have been like, "Yeah, whatever." Life is interesting that way. In regards to keeping it real, that's the same philosophy I've always had. Thanks to the fans we can do what we love for a living, so when a fan approaches me on the street, or working a booth, I make sure that I give them my undivided attention. I mean, we are no different than they are and at one point we were the ones on the other side of the booth, you know? I think that because you are a genuine person who cares about helping others achieve their goals you will continue to experience success. Now on to the next question; How do you react to negative things you hear about yourself? It seems that it comes with success.
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    [ PP ] I just let it roll. Most of it is comical. There isn't anything someone can say about me that is going to affect me or deter me. People are always going to have something to say. Most of it comes from a lack of understanding and or respect. It seems to be all about creating a rise.

Training
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They Create A Desire To Work Harder.

    These people play no role in my life. They aren't included in it nor do they play apart of my inner circle. They don't pay my bills, they don't put food on my table. They aren't apart of my life so why should I concerned myself with jealousy or immaturity; however, I can appreciate the critics. They don't realize that the one positive thing they do is often fuel us bodybuilders. They create a desire to work harder and stay more driven.

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[ HR ] Get used to it Peter. The higher you go the more people will try and tear you down. Some people unfortunately get envious of those who experience success. As a result, they like to attribute a person's success to how they were handed this, or that, or how they cheated somehow or were just simply lucky. Not that I have experienced the success you have experienced in the bodybuilding stage, but I certainly know from being a best selling fitness author. Peter, you mentioned, IFBB Pro George "Bullet Proof" Farah, who by the way I think is a super nice guy. How long have you been working with him?
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    [ PP ] I started working with George shortly before the '05 IFBB North Americans. But it was at the '04 NPC Collegiates where I won the overall that he took me aside and told me I had all the tools needed to turn pro, and that I could be a good pro in time.

04 NPC
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Winning The 2004 Collegiate Nationals.

    George is the detail man. He can help someone put everything together and bring you in at your best. George knows nutrition and makes things simple. We as bodybuilders tend to naturally over complicate things. George makes it easy. He has helped many people turn pro. I trust I'll be another one in Dallas!

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[ HR ] That's so true. In terms of bodybuilding dieting, there is certainly no need to get overly complex. I think that the key for a plan to work is its consistent application. I know of so many bodybuilders that have these elaborate plans but yet they never work as the plan is followed for a week and then tossed away. Changing the topic completely, please tell me how does it feel to be married to one of the most beautiful figure girls in the history of the IFBB, Jessica Paxson-Putnam? What are her plans for next year?
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    [ PP ] It's a blessing. We've been married now for over a year. We continue to see how we were meant for each other. Seeing Jessica is like seeing my own reflection. Our strengths compliment each other nicely. And to be able to share this life with someone else in the industry is very special.

Jessica
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Jessica Paxson-Putnam.

    One thing we joke about is how people may perceive us. We have good moments and bad moments like any couple. We can be like fire and ice, but we realize that we are perfectly suited for each other.

Peter and jessica
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Seeing Jessica Is Like Seeing My Own Reflection.

    Marriage requires work. It seems like this industry takes a toll on many couples. That's why we realize God has to be at the center of our relationship. We plan on being together a long time. As far as Jessica, she plans on hitting the competitive stage hard next year. But ultimately, she wants to be more main stream and see her future more in fitness modeling.

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[ HR ] You guys are the new "it" couple. Any problems you encounter will be solved through communication, faith in God and in each other. I feel that you guys are as compatible as can be and I look forward to seeing both your careers continuing to take off. It's guys like you who offer a healthy and positive view on our sport and industry. That cover of Muscle and Fitness was really huge! I noticed the last couple get a M&F cover were Gunter and Kim Lyons.
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    [ PP ] It was real special to share the moment together. And you are correct and about Gunter and Kim. We know them both and we look up to them. They're great people. We shared a moment with them at the Olympia while they were working the Olympia booth. We showed them our cover and they congratulated us. That was pretty cool.

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Gunter And Kim Lyons.

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[ HR ] Speaking of the Olympia, did you attend both shows? What were your thoughts?
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    [ PP ] Yes, I attended both pre-judging and the finals. I sat down towards the front. I actually sat next to Triple-H on Friday. He's a cool guy. We critiqued all the Olympia competitors. He was pretty cool.

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    There were a few things that stood out that evening. First, Coleman wasn't the same. His injuries were very apparent and he looked tired. Second, Wolf stole the show and was very impressive. Third, Jay was off compared to last year. But that doesn't mean he shouldn't have won.


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Cutler, Coleman, Martinez & Wolf.

    I don't think you are going to beat the champ unless you knock him out. I would have given Victor a slight lead Friday but Saturday Jay made up lost ground. It's apples and oranges as they say. I think Jay is a great champ, but next year he will have no room for error. And seeing the crowd respond to Coleman announcing his official retirement was really moving. You realized that you were witnessing history.

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[ HR ] I know. I felt bad for Ronnie as I could only imagine how he felt going out taking fourth on his last Olympia but he certainly looked different. I would have rather seeing him win the O. nine times and then retire, but everything happens for a reason. I'm sure that many opportunities will come his way for being the person he is. And let's not forget that Ronnie will go down in history as one of the best. While I personally liked his physique when it was more compact, one can never forget the first time he appeared on stage close to 300 lbs. That was unreal. I think it'll be hard to equal Ronnies (and Lee Haney's) 8-year reign as every year competitors get better and better and competition is more fierce at the top. Back to you Peter, what are your plans if you turn pro? Any idea what show you might like to enter next?
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    [ PP ] I would love to do Steve Weinberger's show, the NY Pro if I have enough time to make some solid improvements. Next year there will be a 202 lbs under class which I think will be great. Following that there will be a new pro show in Tampa, FL with a 202 lbs.

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    I would like to think that making weight for that next year could be a problem. I would love to put on a solid ten pounds and be competing around 205-207 lbs to 210 lbs as a pro. I feel I have the room to put on the size without detracting from my physique.

    I hope to be one of those guys who can stand my own next to someone outweighing me 40-50 lbs. Time will tell. I have certain areas that I will need to continue to address. I plan on pounding my back and really making it a strong body part. But first things first, I got to focus on getting that pro card at the Nationals before I make any plans for next year!

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[ HR ] Well, I tell you what. Turn pro and I'll help you with your back routine while you help me with my leg routine. Now, what are your predictions for the Nationals?
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    [ PP ] Not to be disrespectful, I really don't know much about any of the lighter competitors competing other than Alex Azarian. He looks like he will do some damage in his class. I like my fellow Tennessean, Brandon Curry, in the heavies. Shaun Crump is showing up to battle Brandon for that top spot in the heavies as well.

Alex Brandon
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Alex Azarian And Brandon Curry.

    I think Evan C. will take the supers pretty solidly. I haven't heard any other big names mentioned in his class. For my class, well... I'm hoping I get the nod. I expect to be put to the test. There will be some solid competitors showing up.

    For me to win I feel I have to show up better then I was at the USA's. I feel on point to do that. I want to give the judges a package they can see improved from when they last saw me in Vegas. If I do that then feel I can be successful. I wish all my fellow competitors the best of luck.

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[ HR ] If I am correct, you have placed ahead of any of the other names being mentioned in your class. You're the man to beat, especially with improved glutes and hamstrings. One last thing about the weight classes at the pro shows. I hope they keep adding them to other shows and eventually have Olympia class for them. I see someone like you doing really well because of that. You have a very balanced physique and flow nicely. It's rare to have someone carry your thickness at your height but still be aesthetic. You physique should compare nicely next to the likes of Ronnie Rockel and Mark Dugdale.
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    [ PP ] Well, I hope so. I like Ronnie Rockel's physique as well. He is one of the most complete guys on stage in my opinion. That's my goal, to be truly complete. I would rather have a little of everything than have a lot of a few things. I'm not going to be a freak and I don't want to be. Besides, I think the general public prefers the more balanced, athletic physiques.

Ronnie
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I Like Ronnie Rockel's Physique.

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[ HR ] Once again, I am in full agreement there. To me mass is very important but never at the expense of balance, symmetry, and definition. Peter, how can people get a hold of you? Do you have a website where people can go?
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[ HR ] Anything else you would like to add?
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    [ PP ] Thanks for taking the time to interview me. Bodybuilding.com is awesome and I hope to be asked back for an interview after hopefully winning a pro card!

Peter
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Peter Putnam.

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[ HR ] For sure Peter... you can count on that. Thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed, and for sharing your thoughts. I think the sport is blessed to have you since you are a great ambassador of bodybuilding and a true gentleman. I wish you much health and continued success. Best of luck at Nationals!
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Editor's Note: Peter Putnam took 2nd Place at the 2007 NPC Nationals. Congratulations, Peter!

About The Author

    Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide and ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, is an internationally-known best-selling fitness author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men," "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women," "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook," and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering." You can visit Hugo Rivera at www.bodybuilding.about.com, at www.hrfit.net, and his new site www.losefatandgainmuscle.com.