Gunning For 2010 Mr. Olympia Success: An Interview With The New And Improved Marcus Haley!

After coming off of a 2nd place victory at the 2010 Europa Show Of Champions, Marcus Haley is ready to tear up the stage at the 2010 Olympia! Check out how Marcus overcame injury and got into the best shape of his career!

Article Summary:
  • In 2002 Haley suffered a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula of his right leg.
  • In 2008 Marcus tore his quadriceps tendon and had to fight his way back.
  • Marcus Haley took 2nd place at the 2010 Europa Show of Champions.

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An Interview With The New And Improved Marcus Haley!

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As a pro bodybuilding athlete it appears that the ever-improving Marcus Haley has struggled to find a home in the elusive top tier of the sport. With injury and illness thwarting his plans for success he has often been rewarded for his efforts with placements at odds with his obvious genetic capabilities. Landing out of the top slots at the major shows he has entered up until this year, however, has, despite many setbacks, done nothing to dampen his motivation to be at his very best season after season.

A torn quadriceps tendon - sustained in 2008 while awkwardly shifting his position on a set of leg extensions - came just when Haley he was hitting his bodybuilding stride. In 2002 he suffered a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula of his right leg. More recently he was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, a gastrointestinal disorder that has prevented him from properly assimilating many of his pre-contest foods, and which resulted in a protruding stomach on stage and subsequent minor placements.

With his recent run of bad luck combined with his upbringing as a foster child - where he had to fight for survival - Haley has adopted a warrior's mentality; his tendency to fight his problems head-on, rather than complain about his misfortunes and dwell on any shortcomings, has proven to be the perfect mindset for pro bodybuilding success. He could easily have given up on his quest for victory many times, yet he has continued on and has been justly rewarded for such persistence in the face of adversity.

Marcus Haley At The 2007 Iron Man Pro.
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Marcus Haley At The 2007 Iron Man Pro.
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Earlier this year Haley placed second at the Europa Show of Champions, thus proving that he is for real and that when he does hit his mark the results are most spectacular: with his best combination of size, shape and conditioning yet, Haley impressed the judges and set himself up for another shot at Olympia glory (his only appearance at this contest was in 2007 where he placed out of the top ten). With his new and improved physique he is, in 2010, expecting no less than to be compared with the perennial major players at this event and to achieve top-ten success to further mark his return to pro bodybuilding's big time. 2010 is indeed shaping to be the year of the comet.

Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions. Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
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Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
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[ David Robson ] Hi Marcus. How are you feeling three weeks out from the 2010 Mr. Olympia? I hear you are ready to show the best Marcus Haley ever.

[ Marcus Haley ] As of right now we are in a really good place. I haven't done cardio for three weeks because we were ahead of schedule. I'm pretty much ready right now. We are kind of just in a holding pattern, keeping my body full, keeping my weight high. As far as conditioning is concerned I'll definitely be at my all-time best.


[ DR ] How hard is it for you to maintain a high level of conditioning three weeks out from a contest? Is it something you have to work hard to do?

[ MH ] Actually not really because my metabolism has been so fast; they have been force feeding me a lot of food. And one thing George [Farah] has stressed with me is feeding me a lot and taking the cardio away, which I have never done before; just because in the past my body has had an ability to come out of the gates really fast - the problem is when this happens is figuring out how to hold it, how to feed it. As a result of this new approach, I'm still losing about a half a pound of fat a week but my weight is staying the same. And sometimes George will manipulate my carbohydrates a little bit higher to keep my metabolism revved and it has worked out pretty good. I'm expecting at this point to come in at about the mid 240s, even possibly up to 250.


[ DR ] You recently took second place at the Europa Show of Champions. Is this your career-best performance?

[ MH ] Definitely, this is my career-best performance. We were probably about 233 pounds there. This morning I woke up at 249 pounds and I'm really dry and grainy so we are probably going to be a good ten pounds heavier [at the 2010 Mr. Olympia] but I'm going to be better conditioning-wise. I was, in fact, in Europa condition three weeks ago.


[ DR ] So in other words you have made some pretty drastic physical improvements over the past few months.

[ MH ] Oh it has been very drastic; my back has drastically improved, my waistline is really going to be one of the things that stands-out also. One of things people are going to see improvements in is my waistline when I'm standing to the front, relaxed. What's really going to make me dangerous is turning around from the back. My back is now really complete and detailed and I think I can stand with the best of them as far as back double biceps is concerned.

Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
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Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
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[ DR ] So with all of your recent improvements, where will you place at this year's Mr. Olympia?

[ MH ] Me and George are really shooting for top-ten. We think I'm competitive enough to make top-ten. A lot of these guys are going to be very big, but carrying 245 pounds is plenty size to challenge some of the bigger guys, especially with my shape. A lot of people will be looking at my legs because everybody knows about my injury but it was a non-factor at the Orlando and it will be a non-factor here as well. Actually my legs have improved; they are a lot rounder and with my hip size this has accentuated my waist to make it look a lot smaller. You can expect to see a very, very competitive Marcus Haley come Olympia time. When I get in front of these judges and am compared to some of these big names I think it will be like Flex Wheeler said; I will "hurt some feelings".


[ DR ] Often the judges will expect a certain look from a certain competitor and when they see an improvement - big or small - it can often be enough to significantly bump this athlete up in the final standings. For the most part, though, the judges do tend to expect certain competitors to be among the top placed men and will judge accordingly based on such expectations, whether a competitor is on or not. How big of a factor is this kind of perception for you as a competitor?

[ MH ] That's the nature of the sport because it is a subjective sport first and foremost. You have got those names that are always placing and the judges are always going to be looking for those names, but with that being said there is nothing to say that if someone is in extreme condition and has made drastic improvements you can come in there and shake things up. And I think that's what we are shooting for. I think I've made some buzz with the pictures that I've posted and my recent second place finish so I think that has helped me coming into this Olympia. But there's no pressure on me because no one is expecting too much of me; they are expecting me to be in condition and okay looking, but no one is expecting Marcus to come in and challenge from seventh to tenth and even some of those top-five guys. I'm considered an also-competed guy and that has taken the pressure off me, but it has also put the pressure on others because those big names are going to have to stand next to me. And I promise you this: they better be in shape. If they stand next to me and they are not then I'm going to exploit them.

Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions. Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
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Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
View More Pics Of Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.


[ DR ] And this element of surprise could be the biggest advantage you hold going into this year's Mr. Olympia.

[ MH ] Yes, and as I said, right now my glutes are all the way in and my hamstrings are looking really good. My side chest is going to be a really good shot for me. Right now I have striations from the middle of my chest all the way out to my delts. I have made progress that I have never before seen in my career. So it's very exciting to watch. Dennis [James] has even commented that it is exciting to see the changes; my body had been adapting to this style of training really well. Me and Dennis have just teamed up and it's been good: we have gelled and have pushed each other.


[ DR ] What exactly has Dennis James brought to the table that has enhanced your overall training mindset and the workouts themselves?

[ MH ] The best part I think is simply training with another pro. I have always trained in Florida and it's just been me and I've trained with some of the guys in the gym and other training partners. But when you are training with another pro and you are both training for the same show it is different and you have to bring your A-Game every time you step up. And Dennis has been on the Olympia stage several times and this guy has been at the top of his game and has placed as high as fourth at the Olympia, so there are things that I can learn from him as far as training from different angles. And there are things that he can learn from me as with back training. I have a really good back and Dennis has benefitted from training with me on this area. I likewise have benefitted from training legs with Dennis. We have been getting up at five in the morning together every single day; we are in the gym every morning doing abs together and every other day doing lunges for the glute and hamstring tie-in. So just these little bitty things that we have added in and just having another pro to train with and talk with, to bounce ideas off and help critique your physique. Somebody who has already been there, who has been in the upper echelons of the sport with the big guys - it's nice and it really gives an idea of what to expect, and Dennis is always going to tell me exactly how he feels. If my stuff is not right then he will tell me.


[ DR ] Being such a well-established pro as Dennis is, does some of his experience rub off on you?

[ MH ] Oh yes, definitely. It has definitely rubbed off. Dennis is a very driven guy and is very analytical when it comes to that. He is a guy that once he sets his foot down and gets to training: that is it. It's just boom, boom, and he's very methodical with his training. And I've benefitted from that; I've picked up little things from him just by training that way. And getting the taste for victory after the injury, coming so close to winning the Europa challenge, which Hidetada won, that solidified and me and let me know that there is still more in the tank; it gave me renewed confidence. And that going into this show is something that has allowed me to keep training harder. The leg has responded really well, I'm squatting really heavy with it. The tendon is super strong and I want to do something that has never been done in the history of the sport: no athlete has ever come back from two catastrophic leg injuries to place in the top-ten at the Mr. Olympia. I have a titanium rod in one leg and tore the quad tendon of the other. Most guys would tap out. A lot of guys said I would never come back and that was it for me. So to be able to do something that no one else has done, I take pride in that and it is something that drives me.

Marcus Haley At The 2009 Empire Classic Bodybuilding Fitness & Figure.
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Marcus Haley At The 2009 Empire Classic Bodybuilding Fitness & Figure.
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[ DR ] The fact that you are able to train legs at all is pretty amazing. Where do you find the motivation to overcome the difficulties you have faced?

[ MH ] I've always been a scrapper and I've always had to fight tooth and nail for anything, even as a child. I think a lot of it comes from my upbringing as child. I was foster kid and being in a house where you have 10 or 12 kids and your life is based on a point system and you have to scrap for everything that you get, there is nobody to blame but yourself. So I think that mentality has spilled over into my adulthood and I utilize that. I have been given a chance here to do something great so whenever I feel like I'm getting down on myself I think back to those days and then to the position that I'm in now. And I get that fire built up inside and I feel that I carry the torch for every foster kid that had a dream, every kid that's in that juvenile court system that is being shuffled around and has fallen through the cracks. I can't let them down so I keep driving. I don't know how to quit, I never quit. Bodybuilding is something I've always wanted to do ever since I was a child and now that I'm living my dream and have seen how easy it could have been taken away with the two injuries, it really put things into perspective. Now I don't take anything for granted and I'm starting to realize that my body is actually coming into its own and that I am competitive and can be on the top of this sport.


[ DR ] So no excuses for Marcus Haley. He will adapt and overcome, move forward rather than look back?

[ MH ] Right, yes, you got to move forward. You fall down, you pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going. So there is nobody else to blame right now. Right now I'm in the driver's seat and it's up to me and George to make this thing work. I don't want to have to look back and say I could have done this or that. No, I'm going to make sure that I can do everything that Marcus can possibly do to ensure I am the best that I can be. And when it's all said and done and I can look back and say, "Marcus, you did everything you could do" then I'm happy regardless of whatever the outcome might be. I can't dictate what the judges are going to say, who they are going to look at or like. What I can dictate is coming in the best shape possible and giving people a run for their money.


[ DR ] Tell me about your involvement with George Farah.

[ MH ] Man, this guy sees just so much in me; he sees more in me than I see in myself. I sent him my pictures the other day and asked him what he thought. I said maybe I could crack the top seven or eight [at the 2010 Mr. Olympia]. He sent me this text back saying, "I'm hoping for better than that," and it just made me feel really good that George expects so much out of me and is so confident about what we are accomplishing and he has got so many things planned for me. He really cares about what is going on with your insides [mentally] and your outsides. He cares about what's going on in your mind, how training is every single day. We converse almost on a daily basis; he is just a really positive guy. He knows his stuff.

Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions. Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
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Marcus Haley At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
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[ DR ] Have you made any changes to your training program to ensure you arrive at this year's Olympia in your all-time best shape?

[ MH ] It's weird because I have this titanium rod in my leg. There are two screws: one in my upper knee and one down by my ankle. Back in the day I would kind of "baby" it and would not want to put too much weight on it the drier I get [pre contest]. And with this tendon, it had a profound effect on the way I trained. I had to get past that hurdle, I had to mentally prepare myself and tell myself that the tendon is stronger than the other tendon. But now I'm squatting 405 [pounds] for 20 reps. I haven't done that since I was an amateur. So when I have those kinds of training days - working heavily and consistently - progress is inevitable. And I'm now training smarter; I'm not training with my ego anymore. With those injuries it has also made me realize that to be a successful bodybuilder you have to have longevity. You have to train smart and listen to your body. Now I'm listening to my body a lot more and my training is a lot more instinctive. And if there are days when I feel like something is not right and the body is not responding, I know when to back off. Back in the day I did not know when to back off. I was so stubborn and felt I could go 100 percent no matter what. Now I listen to my body and I try to go along with what it is telling me.


[ DR ] And in not wearing yourself down as much as you used to you are recovering better and growing more as a result.

[ MH ] Yes, and the food in the off-season, George has me eating a lot of cleaner foods. He is not a big advocate of eating crap in the off-season, which I used to do. Since I have been with him even when I'm not competing he is looking closely at my diet. I'm like, "dude, when do I get a fricken pizza." I get this kind of thing once a week if I'm lucky. I've got to the point where I'm okay with that. This is actually good for my stomach because I have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and have a sensitive stomach and hence the problem with my gut sticking out a lot. And it wasn't because I was ruining my gut; it was because I had stomach issues that I had to get treated. And once I got my treatment down to a science and realized that there were certain trigger foods that would actually make my stomach act up and gassy I decided that to keep my stomach flat I would need to eat these really clean foods. I need to eat them anyway so this change does help me with my chosen profession.

Marcus Haley At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo. Marcus Haley At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
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Marcus Haley At The 2009 Europa Super Show & Supplement Expo.
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[ DR ] I have noticed your stomach has been a lot tighter this year compared to previous pro seasons.

[ MH ] Oh yeah, and we couldn't figure out why it used to be that way. We had to go to the doctor and have him look at what the problem might be; they took pictures and stuck tubes into my stomach and so on. I had IBS and really chronic acid reflux. My stomach is allergic to some types of food; some greasy foods; different types of grains that my body can't utilize. And within two minutes of eating them my stomach swells up, so I realized that that is what had been happening the whole time. So now that I've got it down to a science I know exactly what foods to eat and what to stay away from it's a lot easier for me to keep my waist smaller. What I'm seeing is that I've got a really good shape and it's been hidden because I haven't been able to keep my waist tight to accentuate my lines.


[ DR ] And as a result of addressing this problem you now have a dramatically improved physique: your shoulders look broader and your thigh sweep is accentuated.

[ MH ] Yes exactly, and that is what you are going to see. I'm really excited about how my front relaxed pose will look come Olympia time. I posted some pictures online so people could see. I'm very complete from top to bottom. I've added some thickness to my back and I'm learning how to train it. I now know that my back is a definitely a strong point. And we all know that with the history of the Olympia some of the greatest Olympians always had good backs. I can be right along those lines with a complete back. So when I turn around and if I can get my glutes and hamstrings in order and when I show those drastic changes and turn around I'm really confident that some of these bigger names are going to have to have a lot to deal with.


[ DR ] And speaking of big names, this year's Olympia has plenty. Are there any bigger names - the top six guys to be specific - that you feel you can compete well against?

[ MH ] I just want to be compared with some of the big names. I would love to be compared with Ronny Rockel, Roelly Winklaar, and Toney Freeman. If I can I would like to be compared with Dexter Jackson and Branch. I want to see what I look like standing next to these guys. Of course their legs are going to out-size mine, but conditioning wise I'm comfortable in saying that I don't think anyone will out-condition me. I just don't see it at this stage of my career. I think I can stand toe-to-toe with anyone in this department. I just think there will be some size differences with my leg development, though they have come up a lot. What you will see, however, is that because my waist is tighter there will be illusion of larger legs. And I'm going to create that illusion of having bigger legs with my tighter midsection.

Ronny Rockel At The 2010 Arnold Classic, Ms. International, Fitness International & Figure International.
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Ronny Rockel At The 2010 Arnold Classic, Ms. International, Fitness International & Figure International.
View More Pics Of Ronny Rockel At The 2010 Arnold Classic, Ms. International, Fitness International & Figure International.


[ DR ] Thank you very much for this interview Marcus. Nice talking with your again. Would you like to mention your sponsors before we wrap things up?

[ MH ] Yes, I have been with MET-Rx worldwide since 2005. The team there has been so good to me. There are so many companies out there where a guy signs with them and a year later he goes to another company, then another. I feel very fortunate to be with these people because they don't like prima-donnas and they like people who like to work, and I work hard. And when I was hurt they never gave up on me. It is so easy for a company to question what an athlete has done for them recently after that athlete has been hurt. I remember when I hurt my leg I called them and asked, "What is going to happen?" and they were like, "Don't be silly Marcus, we are here and we are behind you." So I am thanking those guys for being behind and me and I'm hoping to be able to go into the Olympia, represent this company to the fullest and provide a return on their investment in me.


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