So begins "Kevin Levrone ~ Maryland Muscle Machine", the latest VHS portrait by the inimitable Mitsuru Okabe. First, let me say that I like Levrone. The guy's been a fixture on the pro stage for a decade and has always presented himself as a professional. His titles speak for themselves. But I have to admit he's one depressing dude. And it doesn't help matters that Kevin's band, FulBlown, provides the soundtrack to this tape.
Sung by the man himself, the ditties are, generally speaking, contemplative and, well, depressing. Think mid-90s Pearl Jam. Levrone himself appears sullen and gray as he prepares for the 2002 Mr. Olympia. But let's cover the training first, shall we?
Listen to an MP3 of FulBlown. (Right click the link to save, 4.34 MB)
Kevin likes to think of himself as old school. Hardcore through and through. Towards the end of the documentary he talks briefly about this. "Guys aren't training like that (nowadays)," he says.
Fact is, apart from heavy bench presses, shrugs and dumbell curls, everything Levrone does is performed on a machine. Sure, he uses a lot of resistance, but not many veterans would call machine work "old school". I will, however, give the man the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he modifies his pre-contest workouts to include less free-weight movements.
But another shot to his claims of hardcore is that he stops training altogether for four or five months after each Olympia. As he explains, this time off from the gym allows him the time to pursue other passions - band, nightlife, etc. - so when contest time rolls around, he can give himself completely to preparation. Weighing between 200 and 215 pounds he hits the gym hard and attains "freakiness" once again. Whatever. Tell Dorian this.
There's no denying Kevin's strong. On bench he pushes 500 (495 with a two-and-a-half-pound plate on each side) for three solid reps. All the more impressive considering he does this after midnight. This brings up an interesting point. Throughout the tape Levrone trains at odd hours. Sometimes he's in the gym very early, other times very late. I suppose he has gym ownership business to attend to. Anyway, back to the lifting. He curls 100-pound dumbell and shrugs 585. And on Smith machine he overhead presses 405 for a few.
His belief that 1500 pounds on leg press with the seat all the way up and wearing knee support is impressive, however, is wrong. One hundred reps with a full stack on kneeling cable crunches ain't so mind blowing either. Why Mitsuru subjects us to the entire set is unfathomable (perhaps to allow another FulBlown tune to finish?). But then again such "let the tape run" mentality rears its ugly head all over the place. In Okabe's defense, maybe he needed to fill time in the final edit.
Another stark realization after watching the tape is how aimless and unscientific bodybuilding training still is. Kevin chooses exercises for each bodypart that are largely redundant and, oftentimes, useless. Then again, he's a world-class bodybuilder and I'm not, so maybe I shouldn't talk. But with the right genetics and "supplements" the most slapdash training will pack on muscle.
Levrone's secret weapon is friends Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the latter his business partner. This middle-aged couple prepares all his meals and stores them in a separate fridge at their home. Kevin has no food at his house and provides us proof. As if his crib isn't barren enough.
There's no denying the Maryland Muscle Machine's physique, though. He is one impressive dude. And he knows it. Throughout the video we're subjected to endless between-set "shots". A psychologist would have a field day with this kind of obsessive behavior. Not to mention the scene of Kevin scrubbing between his kitchen's tiles with a toothbrush.
Can we all say OCD? (And this isn't a low blow. Fortress too suffers from obsessive-compulsive behavior.) A funny moment occurs when Kevin gives tips on how to properly hit a front double-biceps pose to some goof who doesn't have the body to warrant ever hitting one.
Some other funny moments? How about the constant - and I do mean constant - usage of the word "baby" by both Levrone and his trainer? And his explanation to why he has US, Maryland and Marines flags hanging from the ceiling of his gym? Apparently he doesn't want to waste any soldier's time that fought so he can "do what it is I need to do". He says whenever he comes into the gym and feels he's "losing his balls" all he has to do is look at those flags. I'll spare the obvious jokes.
After the credits roll, there is much more to watch, too. We get to see him posing (again) in his hotel room in '97, listening to music at home, showing all his trophies and awards, jamming with FulBlown (and performing at the Night of Champions several years ago), and goofing around at home and in the gym.
Do I recommend Mitsuru's latest video? Sure. Especially if you're a fan of Kevin's and get inspired by this type of thing. I watched this and "Ronnie Coleman - The Unbelievable" back to back and can't stop marveling at how different the two men are in their lifestyles and approaches to bodybuilding. The Big Nasty's more to Fortress' style, but for those who are more "new school", "Maryland Muscle Machine" is right up your alley.
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