An Interview With IFBB Pro & 2008 Australian/New Zealand Pro Competitor Michael Kingsnorth

Michael Kingsnorth is 2006 New Zealand National's overall champion and a new IFBB professional. We at bodybuilding.com wish him great success, and a lot of luck, as he battles it out with the big boys at the Australian and New Zealand pro competitions.

2006 New Zealand National overall champion and new IFBB professional, Michael Kingsnorth, is someone I had never met, despite us sharing the same home country and him being a New Zealand Federation of Body Builders (NZFBB) competitor since 1990. I do, however, recall seeing Mike compete as an amateur and was impressed by his shape, proportion and conditioning.

Photos taken at the 2006 New Zealand National's proved Mike had greatly increased his muscle mass, while retaining the shape and cuts he was known for as one of the smaller competitors' in his former under-90kg weight class, to dominate the competition.

After speaking to him on the phone for the first part of this interview it was evident he had added even more size since the National's, judging from the improvements he told me he had necessarily made since he applied for his pro card in mid-2007. Nothing, however, prepared me for what I would encounter one week later when I met him for the first time.

Michael Kingsnorth
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2006 New Zealand Overall
Champion Michael Kingsnorth.

The trip to Auckland from Hamilton, where I reside, went quicker than expected and this left me plenty of time to accustom myself to the suitably hardcore, yet modern and stylish surroundings of Just Workout, the gym where, moments later I would photograph their resident IFBB pro bodybuilder before watching him train.

One has to remember that, although a country of fitness fanatics who love sport, New Zealand only has three professional bodybuilders', the man I was about to meet being its newest. To say he would stand out in any local gym would be understatement.

A few minutes later, after completing a full day managing a local fitness equipment store, Mike entered the gym. As he walked through the double doors I could have sworn the man had just finished a workout: he was already pumped.

And this is something that tends to separate the professional bodybuilder from the national level competitor: the pros' look pumped 24/7, while the amateurs take a full workout to reach such a state.

Needless to say, I dispersed any notions of asking him to pump up for our photo shoot and got right down to the business of capturing his musculature for the photos that accompany this interview.

At three weeks out from his pro debut at the Australian Pro Grand Prix, Mike looked, to me at least, like he could hit the stage at a moment's notice.

Michael Kingsnorth
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I Dispersed Any Notations
Of Asking Him To Pump For The Photo Shoot.

He was big, ripped and full, displaying the kind of matured muscle which belied the fact he was once one of the lighter guys in his light heavy class, though he did admit to being on a low carbohydrate week and not in the kind of shape I could expect to see him in come the big day.

Add to this the fact that he had yet to rid his body of a thin layer of water and had a little more dialling in to do and things were looking positively on target for the now 98kg ball of mass who won the 2005 New Zealand National's under-85kg class.

Before commencing training, Mike told me he fashioned his bodybuilding approach on that of multi-Olympia winner, Dorian Yates, and that his training was typically "all out." He wasn't kidding.

His supposedly light chest and biceps workout resembled some kind of primitive torture session compete with bone breaking intensity and forced failure at every opportunity. I tentatively hovered around this bodybuilding machine, expecting that at any moment the veins in his right shoulder would explode all over my camera.

My blood pressure rose to haemorrhage territory just watching the man hit his final reps. This is another thing that separates the pro from the also-ran: the pro trains with intensity seldom seem. You have to see it to believe it. I saw it.

While the first part of this interview was done over the telephone, with Mike in a more relaxed setting, by direct contrast, the second was conducted in the most intense training atmosphere you could imagine.

Michael Kingsnorth
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You Have To See It To Believe It.

Another commonality share by pros': the degree of concentration Mike applied to each and every set was staggering; the last set of his workout was as intense as the first.

But even despite my questioning him on a variety of topics between sets - three weeks out from the most important contest of his life - he was good-natured, talkative and willing to answer all of my queries. Then no sooner had he answered my questions, he was back to another gut-busting round of reps.

He could switch on and off, direct his attention to my questions then back to the task at hand without losing momentum. During each of his numerous sets one feels an exploding bomb would not have aroused him from his intently focused mindset and the set he was using this advanced mental control to conquer: the mark of a true champion; the mark of a professional athlete.

At the completion of his workout, or to us mere mortals his self-sanctioned bout of pain infliction, Mike was justifiably tired, yet remarkably upbeat and talkative. Three weeks out, on low carbs, with the fight of his life on the horizon you could forgive him for being a little subdued and pensive. Not Mike. That's not his style.

Michael Kingsnorth
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The Mark Of A True Champion.

Fast-forward two weeks and Mike is one week out from his pro debut. How does he feel? "Great," and it astounds me to hear that he has "added more muscle, while dropping fat." One thing will be certain for Mike when he walks onto the pro stage for the first time: he will have done everything possible to be at his very best, and in achieving this will have made his country proud.

If ever a bodybuilder could be called working class it would be Mike. With no bodybuilding contract of any nature, a full time job, 19 years in the trenches building his physique to its present state and a family to support, the New Zealander' has worked his way to the top, enduring setback after setback, and persisting where others may have long ago quit.

All with a singular goal in mind: to be the very best bodybuilder he can be. A true representative of the bodybuilding lifestyle with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport and a passion for success, Mike is a guy who has earned his pro card the hard way.

We at bodybuilding.com wish him great success, and a lot of luck, as he battles it out with the big boys at the Australian and New Zealand pro competitions.

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[ Q ] Hello Michael. Your professional debut is in one month from now at the Australian Grand Prix. You will be up there with the top bodybuilding professionals. How do you feel?
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    I know I definitely picked the best year to do my debut when you look at the line-up (laughs). With the Arnold only a week before, it is probably the best one in the history of the whole Australian Grand Prix.

    I am just in awe of it. I was hoping for there to be at least few more Aussies that I could perhaps measure myself against. I'm sort of dipping my toe in the big pond but that's the game you play with the big boys.

Michael Kingsnorth
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I Know I Picked The Best Year To Make My Debut.

    I will just go out there, give it everything and see if I can't knock a few off. They are not just big; they are good. I mean the guys, just the names.

    When I first saw some of the names I shook my head for a while and said, "What the hell have I done?" You always want to measure yourself by the next level up. There is no point in looking back. Always strive forward.

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[ Q ] Well at least you will have Australia's Con Dimetriou in the mix?
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    Yes, it's going to be great going up against Con. I've seen him in magazines for over 10 years now and, like me, he has bided his time and is making his Pro debut in Melbourne.

    His recent successes in the Elite classes show that he is going to be a great measuring stick, and, like me, has a real classical physique with great aesthetics.

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[ Q ] This is the first time I have spoken to a pro bodybuilder that is embarking on his pro debut. What is going through your mind this far out?
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    Well all the athletes began somewhere. There was a point where Ronnie had his very first pro show; but he did all right.

    But I am hoping to give a few people in New Zealand a fright with what I have done and the changes I have made to my physique. It's always about measuring yourself against yourself and being better each time. I think people will be shocked when they see what I bring this time compared with the last time they saw me.

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[ Q ] You qualified to turn pro in 2006?
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    Yes I won the overall at the 2006 New Zealand Nationals.

Michael Kingsnorth
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Michael Kingsnorth.

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[ Q ] So you have had over a year to pack on some size for your pro debut.
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    Well I perhaps didn't make the most auspicious start. Because I didn't even know what the options were for the first five months. I didn't even go to the gym, didn't eat breakfast until about 1.00 in the afternoon (laughs) and so I shrunk away.

    I didn't really have any plans and didn't feel like competing last year and then I was told that if I wanted to go pro I would have to apply before the Nationals (in 2007) otherwise I could go to the World's (The IFBB World Bodybuilding Championships).

    I didn't really want to go to the World's because it just wasn't something that held that much interest for me for whatever reason. The pros was where I wanted to go so I literally made out my application on Saturday and on Monday hit the gym hard and within ten weeks I had filled back up pretty close to what I used to be.

    And it has been onwards and upwards from there. I have piled on a lot more muscle compared to when I was in the amateurs. That is for sure. I think when there are guys like this to compete against it is just so motivating to know you will be going up against them that you just adopt a whole new mental attitude.

    You take everything seriously. I have been frequently visiting a masseuse and chiropractor to make sure my back and muscles are sweet and so I can perform better, so I can focus more on paying attention when I am training: perhaps steering away from that one final rep that could potentially ping (injure) something and instead doing another entire set at 95 or 99 percent.

    I figure an extra set at 95 percent is better than another rep at 100 that blows something out (causes an injury).

CLASSIC QUOTE
"You Take Everything Too Seriously" - Michael Kingsnorth

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[ Q ] Now you are focusing more on all the so-called smaller aspects of training?
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    Oh yes. But I used to also have this attitude with back training, for example, when I was in the amateurs - and always had a pretty wide back as a result of being a poor surfer who had to paddle a lot - where I would just focus on my rowing and dead-lifting just to get all my thickness up and then in the last three or four weeks throw a bunch of chins in there.

    After doing this, my back would literally just fly right out really fast. I don't have that luxury now: I have to do the rows, dead lifts and the chins (laughs). Everything has to be there. My training volume has therefore increased and everything has to be hit hard 120 percent.

    You can't be lackadaisical on anything. You can't say, "Well I will hit the traps during my next workout." Everything has to be nailed.

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[ Q ] And being one of the newer pros and not under any major contract, you also don't have the luxury of devoting every waking moment to training and eating.
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    That's right, I'm just a regular guy. I have a full time job where I work six-days-a-week and coach soccer. No 100-thousand-dollar contracts down here. In fact I don't even have a supplement sponsor down here.

Michael Kingsnorth
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Michael Kingsnorth.

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[ Q ] That is crazy. I do hope this comes for you in the future.
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    Well I hope so. I'd really like to team up with a company whose products can assist me further in achieving my goals and one that will well utilize my position to assist their marketing and sales. I don't want free stuff just for the sake of it; I like to earn my keep.

    I'd also see that as an advantage to me, with their marketing it would enable to me to leverage off them to make the most of this opportunity too. I'm definitely looking for a two way street.

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[ Q ] There are only three New Zealand pro male bodybuilders', correct?
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    Yes there are only three of us, unless Marc Rainbow wants to make a comeback.

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[ Q ] Where do you train in New Zealand?
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    I live on the North Shore (In Auckland: New Zealand's biggest city) and train at a gym that does kindly look after me (Just Workout).

    They don't charge me for training. And I have a guy I train with here who is also very generous; he is a novice competitor. But I love training with the novices; they are hungry.

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[ Q ] When do you train?
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    I usually train in the evening; have to work during the day you see. My favourite time to train though is around 2.00pm. But I generally start at 6.00pm. Usually a little bit tired then but you have to get on with it. And I have a full day of food into me by then.

RELATED POLL
When Do You Train?

Morning
Afternoon
Evening
Night
Whenever I Have Time

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[ Q ] How old are you?
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    I'm 36.

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[ Q ] You have been in the game a while. Do you find it harder to train now versus when you were in your 20s?
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    When I was in my early 20s I was quite lucky because I had a job where I would only work on the weekends and got paid well enough to live train eat and watch movies. And I lived in this wonderful house that had a swimming pool and spa pool.

    It was very conducive to bodybuilding. It was no surprise that at this time I won both the Pan Pacific and National Championships' in the same year, then the Australasian Championship's as well. Sometimes we would train twice a day.

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[ Q ] What are your thoughts on split training?
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    Well like I said I used to train twice a day but I have found this not to be the best approach for me because you end up thinking about training all day long and it becomes mentally draining. You have to switch off sometimes.

    I remember when I won the National's in '05 in the under-85kgs category. I was personal training then and all I was seeing every day was bodybuilding, bodybuilding and more bodybuilding. And that's why it is great to go to work (as much as I would rather not work), just to have something to distract me.

    A great example of that is a guy who used to work with me who is the fourth highest ranked weightlifter in the Commonwealth Games (Richard Patterson-placed fourth in the Melbourne Games) who is practically a cert (likely winner) for a medal at the next one.

    He was a university student and he used to come to work for me, not that he needed to do any of this because he had financial support, but it is just good mentally that you don't think about your sport all day long.

    It is like these All Blacks (New Zealand's National rugby team) who do these University courses and so on. Your brain just needs a rest from sport. I now can't imagine twice a day training all the time. Maybe just occasionally.

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[ Q ] What is your current training schedule Mike?
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    My training schedule is like this.

    Monday: Quads and Heavy calves (if I have the energy - if not I do calves at work the next morning.

    Tuesday: Chest, Biceps and Abs

    Wednesday: Hams, Triceps - and Abs (if I can't fit them in on Tuesday).

    Thursday: Day Off

    Friday: Back and Light calves (this often involves still having the stack of the calf raise and about 45kg loaded on top of it - makes "light" sound ridiculous.

    Saturday: Shoulders and Abs, I do this with my girlfriend Charlie.

    I usually race home straight after training for cardio (I have a treadmill a bike and sun bed in my lounge...don't we all).

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[ Q ] You have been competing in New Zealand's biggest bodybuilding federation the IFBB affiliated NZFBB (New Zealand Federation of Bodybuilders) for many years now. Just how long have you been with the NZFBB?
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    I have been competing in the NZFBB since 1990, when I competed in the Junior Men's category. But I have had a lot of breaks in between. I took some time off between 94 and 98, and 98 to 2002. I have always been IFBB loyal through and through and never swayed and never wanted to.

    I remember when I did the Australasian Champs and there were guys like BJ Johns in attendance and every one was in awe of him back then. There was also Kevin O' Grady who won the Mr. Universe and Mr. World who also won the 1995 New Zealand Nationals overall.

Michael Kingsnorth
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Kevin O' Grady.

    There was Don Steadman who, in 1986, won the Mr. International in Hawaii. And this all lit a fire under me and I figured there was some pretty cool stuff you could do with bodybuilding if you wanted to. Especially when BJ turned pro. It was like, "A pro from New Zealand? Is that possible?"

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[ Q ] BJ was truly a great guy.
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    Yes he was. I suggested that the Elite Class title at the New Zealand Elite/Pro Bodybuilding Championships be called the BJ Johns Cup or something like that: because he set a lot of dreams on fire.

    I think they need to recognize it because as much as Sonny Schmidt was great, let's face it, he did most of his work in Australia. I think BJ inspired many New Zealander's. He was the man; I mean he went to LA and he let us all know that there was a world beyond New Zealand and that you can dream high and go for it.

Michael Kingsnorth
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BJ Johns.

    Honestly I don't think I would be a pro if he hadn't have done it because I wouldn't have even known it was possible. We all thought you had to win the Universe.

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[ Q ] So in a sense he inspired you to turn pro?
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    Oh massively, massively.

Editor's Note
BJ Johns, now deceased, was a New Zealand bodybuilding legend. He was also competitive on the US bodybuilding scene in the early '90s and trained with many top American champions.

BJ will be remembered as being the first professional New Zealand bodybuilder and as a generous, humble and talented man who inspired many up and coming New Zealand bodybuilders'.

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[ Q ] Speaking of New Zealand pros, of the three currently competing New Zealand pros' would it be fair to say that new top competitor Moe Moussawi would be the most successful professional to have emerged from New Zealand?
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    He would be close. So far I believe Kevin O' Grady placed higher at the Ironman and he as representing New Zealand after winning the '95 overall at the National's.

    So if you base it on placements, Kevin is better. If you call Sonny Schmidt a Kiwi (New Zealander) because he was raised here then it would definitely be him. But he was more of an Aussie pro.

    But Moe's condition now is probably three or four weeks ahead of every other pro (approaching the 2008 Ironman Pro) so we will see a surprise on the Ironman stage. I predict a top four finish for Moe. By his own admission he was better three weeks out this year than he was onstage at the Ironman last year.

    Just look at the detail in his lower back and he has never had that. He has shredded glutes now and usually it is the little guys that have that so he is just going to explode.

    I think Moe is probably going to get an invite to the Arnold. He has just put on a ton of mass and his arms are obviously off the planet.

Editor's Note
Nostradamus Michael made these comments one week out from the 2008 Ironman. Moe El Moussawi did in fact make the top four (he came third). He did also receive an invite to the Arnold Classic. He is officially New Zealand's most successful pro ever.

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[ Q ] Just getting into top shape like yourself and Moe have done is a tremendous athletic feat. Not to many people appreciate this.
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    Didn't you know it's all in the bottle (laughs)? You ask the guys who are not competing and it is all drugs, loads of drugs. That's what they all think.

    They don't realize that we are the guys that train our ass off. When you look online and you see a guy like Moe who is doing 50 to 60 rep sets of leg presses, and these are the guys who are doing 12 (reps).

    With my own training we have eight 20kg plates per side on there and I will somehow manage to squeeze out… - and we are aiming for 20 - and my training partner will say, "Come on-do 25", so I will do 30.

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    That's the kind of stuff that amazes me. I was thinking about it and bodybuilding is trench warfare. It is for the guy who is willing to dig in and suffer the most. I thought about it while I was on the treadmill and it was sweltering hot.

    I'm in my house and sweat is pouring off me and I am dying. You get off the treadmill and you are practically collapsing. I thought Flex Wheeler was joking when he said in his book that he used to do that, but no.

    At this level you just want it so bad. I just want to get to the point where, when I am up there people will sit there just go, "Holy shi… look at what Mike has done."

    The motivation is just insane. I remember Shawn Ray once saying that when you get second in the world motivation is no problem. It would be like climbing Everest and stopping one step short. You look at guys like Kevin Levrone, Shawn and Flex. They all came so close. That is just staggering.

CLASSIC QUOTE
"Bodybuilding Is Trench Warfare" - Michael Kingsnorth On Bodybuilding Training

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[ Q ] Looking at past photos of you it is clear that you have always had a great shape. You have just added more muscle to become a bigger version. How big of a factor is genetics in bodybuilding success?
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    You are born with a certain bone structure and you can't get a plastic surgeon to take to you with a chisel and change it. All they can do it take away; they can't really add. So it's not like you can suddenly go into a surgeon's office and say, "Excuse me, can I have another two inches width on my shoulder clavicles."

    If you could, Shawn Ray probably would have been the first in line, then he probably would have won six or seven Olympia's. That was really the only thing that held him back. You cannot buy the right genetics.

    Total respect to Shawn; I have his signed photo in my lounge watching on along with Ronnie, Dex and Chris to make sure I dig in during cardio - they (the pictures) talk to me.

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[ Q ] To counter genetic deficiencies you could also go to the extreme and use synthol?
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    I can honestly say I have never even seen a bottle of that stuff. I have certainly seen the results of it. The problem with that is if you take it and look bad you are going to get marked down more than if you never took it in the first place.

    So why bother. Just work your absolute nuts off (work extremely hard). I would say a lot of the problems people have with developing their physique is - and this is at all levels - posing.

    I advised a guy recently on posing and told him that his physique would improve significantly if he were to hit his poses' correctly.

    When I was younger I would sit there and spend a decent amount of time working on every little thing; figuring our how I could make my body look its best.

    We have all got different length arms and shoulder width potential and so on. I told this guy that bodybuilding is often not about who has the best body, it is about who fakes it the most. If you present yourself the best you will do well.

    An example I give is Lee Labrada: you take a photo of him in 1988 and take another of him in 1992 and look at the angle of his arms in relation to his torso and the way he holds his legs.

    Four years later and you have the absolute mirror image, spot on. The angles will be perfectly the same because he knows that those are the angles that make his body look the best: to do it any other way won't work. It's presentation man. Make the best of what you have.

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As a bodybuilder, Lee Labrada established a reputation for always bringing quality to the stage. I sat down with him recently to talk about his bodybuilding career.
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[ Q ] And clearly you have done a good job of doing just that.
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    That's true. I have never been the biggest guy onstage - maybe only in a couple of competitions in my class. Most competitions I enter I have won a fair number because I have always believed and would say: "big is good, but best is better."

    If it were all about size then Greg Kovacs would have been Mr. Olympia. If you look at guys who have the better balance and the best symmetry and presentation, these guys will be the best in their class.

    And they work on these things. Tonight for example I will be working on posing. We work it. I remember doing the same thing in 1990 but I still keep doing it just to make sure I have everything spot on.

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[ Q ] Hitting the same angles you hit 18 years ago.
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    Exactly. They haven't changed. I look at it and the funniest thing is, particularly with my double biceps, is that I would chop and change and try different things but always go back to what I did all those years ago. Always go back to what worked and looked best.

CLASSIC QUOTE
"It Would Be Like Climbing Everest And Stopping One Step Short" - Michael Kingsnorth On Not Quite Making It Into The Bodybuilding Winner's Circle

Editor's Note
The following part of this interview was done at Michael's gym, Just Workout, as he was training and posing (I asked questions in between his sets). The photos that accompany this interview were taken at this time (Michael was on low carbs).

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[ Q ] How is your pre competition period going now that you are three weeks out from your pro debut?
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    Well we are ahead of schedule but that is still not good enough. Have to constantly monitor things. I didn't want to wait to hit a plateau and then change; I wanted to be proactive so we cut my carbs in half just for this week except for my post workout meal which included pretty much an unlimited amount of clean carbs, but not to the point of gorging.

Michael Kingsnorth
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Michael Kingsnorth.

    Let's just say that right now I am feeling it in ever muscle and every bone in my body. Weak and tired and sore and it is hard work just living.

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[ Q ] Where do get all the energy to continue going?
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    Mental energy. That is why pros' are pros'. And in any sport the elite are the same. Genetics are one thing, but you show me a single successful person in any sport in the world that doesn't have mental power and I would say that there is only one person playing that sport then.

    That is the only thing I can put it down to and that is where Arnold was the king. I often think when it is getting tough, I think of what the other guys might be doing.

    Last night we were training and Paul (Michael's training partner) thought we had finished, but I had something else up my sleeve. And I went to do another triple drop set with five forced negatives on the hack squat because I knew that the other guys would be doing that.

    And I had this vision in my head as my training was getting tough, and I was thinking of one or two of them in particular (the competition) and figured if they are not going to do it then I was. And that is what pushes you to do that one more rep and to go to failure more often.

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[ Q ] Is it another driving factor for you when you look in the mirror and see the results of your efforts?
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    Yes, when you see the veins popping and things like that. But this would be one of the more critical sports, this and perhaps golf where they are constantly analyzing their swing.

    With bodybuilding you are constantly analyzing your physique and looking for a weakness before the judges' spot them. And I think that is one of my strengths: I have been doing that literally since I started in the game.

Michael Kingsnorth
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Michael Kingsnorth.

    Straight away, it is like, "What do I need to work on?" Never let anything get out of hand, never let anything get too far behind. You always have to be on top of what is happening.

    And I will go and seek out advice from top guys like Tom Terry who is an international judge and ask them, "What do I need to work on?" Tom told me just one time, "you need to bring your hamstrings up just a little but and build a little more lower trap." I was gutted because I wanted to have more faults to work on; we're talking balance and symmetry here only.

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[ Q ] Would you then seek out advice on how to improve these areas?
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    I will take advice from anybody. For example, I improved my lower abs by getting the advice of a novice bodybuilder. He had a great abdominal exercise; a decline, hip raise all in one.

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[ Q ] Will the judging criteria be different for the New Zealand Pro/Elite than it is at some of the US shows?
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    Pro judges are pro judges and you have to be qualified to be a pro judge. We have two here in New Zealand. So that is why they will bring other judges in.

    Go to the New Zealand pro elite show website here.

Editor's Note
Michael has finished posing for my camera and is now about to begin his chest warm ups.

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[ Q ] What is your usually warm up ritual when training chest?
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[ Q ] You will be competing very soon against some of the best pros' in the world. Who has impressed you most of the recent crop of pro bodybuilders'?
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    A few years back Ronnie Coleman came to New Zealand and did a seminar. I spent the first 20 minutes looking at his left triceps. Serious.

    I was sitting there in awe of his left triceps. It was as wide as my back is. You should see him walking; makes Jonah (Jonah Lomu; famous New Zealand rugby player, known for his size) look like a pencil.

Big Ron Coleman
Ronnie Coleman Wallpaper
Eight-Time Mr. Olympia.

Week #8 - 5/02/2006
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[ Q ] You mentioned your training split earlier. How would you describe your training system?
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    One week is heavy and one week is light. I squat for three weeks in a row, then I take two weeks off squatting. This protects my knees. After 18 years of hard training I need to do this. And it is working out brilliantly.

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[ Q ] What separates what you are doing now training-wise versus what you did as an amateur?
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    I was also very methodical even as an amateur. Never missed a workout and everything was on schedule. I didn't go in there ad hoc and say, "Well I feel like training triceps when it was biceps day." I'm still the same: nothing has changed.

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[ Q ] Your outer chest development is phenomenal. What do you do for this?
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    I was born with it. I focus intently on my upper and inner chest. I just happen to have a wide outer chest. We are all born with a different muscle cell distribution and this is what makes champions.

Michael Kingsnorth
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Michael Kingsnorth.

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[ Q ] Do you believe in trying a range of different training approaches'?
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    Yes, with chest for example I sometimes like to train on a very steep incline and it works. We mix it around.

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[ Q ] I noticed this is your second set with 30 kilos on your incline/decline superset. I'm assuming this is still a warm up.
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    Yes, the secret is not getting injured. I'm 36 so I don't have the luxury of trying to take 18 months off to heal a serious injury.

    We will go much heavier today but again this is a light day for us. We will just keep going. If the weight is too heavy, the reps will get too low and we want to keep them around 15 today.

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[ Q ] Will you incorporate any rest/pause into your training today?
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    Well not at the warm up stage but later we will use a light rest/pause. We have a really cool rest pause system we do with calves. With what we are doing now, I will go directly from a set of decline barbells before switching the bench around (Michael is using a Smith Machine) to do a set of incline presses'.

    The next time we will start with the inclines and go straight to the declines, again superset style. My style is a bit different. When I train people I sometimes will increase the weight and then ask them to do more reps; they are expecting me to tell them to lower their reps (laughs). They can't comprehend it. It is heavy weight with high reps.

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[ Q ] Are you feeling confident this far out from your pro debut?
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    Yes, I will have the best seat in the house. I may not hold it size-wise against some of the bigger boys but balance-wise I have a good chance. Like I say, in most of the shows I have won I was not the biggest guy up there. Then you have someone like Dexter who looks massive and is the best balance-wise. Try to find a fault on that guy.

Dexter Jackson Dexter Jackson
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Dexter Jackson At The 2008 Arnold Classic.
View More Pics Of Dexter Jackson At The 2008 Arnold.

Editor's Note
Michael is now doing bench flyes, supersetted with thumb-in flyes on a slight incline.

Incline Bench Flyes.

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[ Q ] So what are you aiming for with this movement?
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    The key here is to get the best possible stretch, then switch to the thumb-in flye with the dumbbells high (towards the face) without resting and work on the upper inner chest. I am always finding more painful ways to do things (laughs).

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[ Q ] Do you aim to make changes to your workout week to week, even at this stage of the game?
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    Yes I try to do a different workout each time. This week it might be incline barbells and next week it might be incline dumbbells.

Seated Bicep Curls.

    We stick with main staple exercises but the idea is to change them around just a little bit each time - different weights, different intensity techniques, and shorter rest times.

    I try to pick things up from other bodybuilders. I was watching Dorian Yates' DVD just this morning and, if anything, he slows his reps down just that little bit so that is something I have been trying. You can learn a little bit from every person.

Michael Kingsnorth
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Michael Kingsnorth.

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[ Q ] Do you have any favorite bodybuilding DVD's?
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    Well I like the Battle for the Olympia's, because they are inspiring. The Mr. Olympia DVD's are also good to watch. Actually it is sometimes quite humiliating watching these.

    It is hard to walk in front of a mirror afterwards. But you still learn from them all. Nobody knows everything. I used to think I did but we were all 22 once (laughs).

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[ Q ] Have you ever trained with any of your fellow New Zealand pro athletes?
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    No not yet, but I did from time-to-time train I do train with the amateur competitors.

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[ Q ] Did you ever train with BJ Johns?
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    I wasn't worthy of training with BJ (laughs). I recall him training legs with Kevin O' Grady in Sydney and we were all just standing around watching.

    Mostly I train with novices, as there is nobody hungrier than a novice. I get a lot from them and hopefully they get something from me. I get their hunger and they always want to try to match what I do. And I have to try to keep them in their place (laughs).

Editor's Note
Michael is now doing incline biceps curls: triple drop sets.

Incline Bicep Curl Drops Sets.

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[ Q ] When do will your start manipulating your water intake?
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    Water manipulation is in the last few days. Right now I drink as much water as I want and can. Also there is some Sprite Zero (zero sugar lemonade) in there.

    Now it is just carbs, cardio and weight training. I'm now eating a lot of chicken now to retain as much muscle while burning off the fat. Because when you cut carbs you will need fuel.

Michael Kingsnorth
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Michael Kingsnorth.

    To encourage the body to use fat you will obviously need to do the cardio but you also need to have enough protein levels so if it gets to the point where your body wants to go catabolic, the protein in your body can be used, not the muscle.

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[ Q ] And you have made a few bodybuilding comebacks, as I understand it?
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    Yes I had four years off. Before then I did a show in '95 then didn't come back until '98, then left again and came back in 2002 and looked terrible.

    I decided to give it one more try when I met my nutritionist, Dean (Geddes). I said at this show if I did not achieve what I wanted to I would retire. Dean nailed my diet and condition and it has been onwards and upwards since then.

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[ Q ] I also understand you have a ten-year-old son.
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    Yes my boy is ten.

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[ Q ] A future bodybuilder?
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    Well he likes soccer right now. I coach his soccer team and they give me a great workout (laughs).

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[ Q ] You would have to be New Zealand's biggest soccer coach.
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    I definitely put them through their paces.

Editor's Note
Michael is now beginning his standing one arm concentration curls, (Arnold style with working arm hanging in mid air).

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[ Q ] What is your objective with this exercise?
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    The "Arnold" concentration curl is really good for hitting the deep muscle fibers - it really gets to the meat of it. I love the pump you get from this exercise.

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[ Q ] You have made reference to Dorian Yates at least twice during this workout. Is he one of your big influences?
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    Dorian is the Messiah. I did a Dorian Yates training session on my arms and I put an inch on my arms with just that one workout.

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[ Q ] Dorian was a follower of Mike Mentzer's HIT method. Is this what you do?
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    Mike who? It's Dorian Yates theory for me. I used to train like this: heavy week, light week, Dorian week. This training session we are doing now with the drops sets and the multiple forced reps, that is Dorian style. It is not his technique but the intensity level is up there with what he achieves.

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[ Q ] Blood and Guts in other words.
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    Yes and it is about increasing the weight and intensity as you go. For example with a recent leg workout, after doing 200kg squats on the Smith Machine - after having done massive sets of leg presses normally I wouldn't have the energy, but with the Dorian workout you go to what is the heavy workout weight then go heavier for a final set; do drop sets and all kinds of crazy stuff to increase the intensity.

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[ Q ] And this would be in contrast to say a Ronnie Coleman who does higher sets while increasing the weights.
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    And that obviously worked well for Ronnie.

Ronnie Ronnie
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Ronnie Coleman At The 2007 Olympia.
View More Pics Of Ronnie Coleman At The 2007 Olympia.

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[ Q ] Were you ever a big fan of Ronnie's?
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    Yes but, to me Dorian was the man. I remember the story well as to when Ronnie came on the scene. He got sixth in the US National's and Kevin Levrone won.

    They said, "Who wants to go to the Universe?" Ronnie puts up his hand and says, "Yes I will do it." He wins the Universe then gets last in the (1992) Olympia; Kevin gets second.

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[ Q ] What kind of physique do you appreciate most?
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[ Q ] What is your approach to pumping up with weights backstage before competing?
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    What I do now is a bit of everything. Some calves as well. Just get the blood pumping throughout all muscle groups.

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[ Q ] From what I can see here and based on what you have told me it seems you take a detailed approach to training. Nothing is overlooked.
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    That is right. The idea is to hit not just one thing, but to hit everything. I haven't noticed it myself but I have had people watch me train - particularly my girlfriend - and they say that everything is totally blown up during my sessions like I'm going to explode.

Editor's Note
Michael is now completing his final set of one-arm concentration curls.

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[ Q ] Well thanks for your time Michael. It has been great watching you train for your pro debut. Would you like to mention anyone who has helped you get to the point you are now at?
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    Dean Geddes who does my nutrition and never fails me. Just Workout supply me the training facilities - we predominantly train at their Takapuna branch, but it is nice have a few to choose from.

    I used to train with Jay Hill the GM back in '95 when I won the Australasian Champs and I was a paying member for some time.

    So I chose to train here when I won two Open National titles and earned my Pro Card, so it's certainly a gym I'd be training at regardless of whether it was sponsored membership.

    My partner's name is Charlie and she is such a rock of support. Those days when I'm tired, she kicks my arse to go to the gym, right when I need it. She does cardio with me, and we train shoulders and abs together on Saturday too.

    My training Partner is Paul Nelson - who looks after my ride (a nice BMW). That guy will do anything no matter how crazy and intense it is - he will slip in a funny look sideways at first, but he gets on and gets it done, that's why he'll be a champion.

Editor's Note
Paul will be competing at the 2008 NZFBB Central North Island bodybuilding championships. He placed 2nd in the under-70kg division at this contest in 2006 and will step up in weight this year to contest the under-80kg category.

    Justin and Marina at Big Kiwi Convict Gear supplied my clothing for this photo shoot.

    Contact Dean for your own personalised program: Go!

    Visit Auckland's Just Workout for an awesome workout: Go!

    Visit Big Kiwi Convict Gear: Go!

    And do a deal with Paul: Go!