When you think of great physiques in sports, tall guys don't spring immediately to mind. Even in bodybuilding, tall legends like Lou Ferrigno (6-foot-5, if you're wondering) are the exception. That's a lot of real estate to cover with symmetrical lean mass and finely etched details.
Then there's Matt Morgan, the resident giant of TNA Wrestling. Before that, he was the largest American Gladiator ever. He weighs more than 300 pounds at 7 feet tall, and may have the best physique you've ever seen on a man of his stature.
There's another reason staying in shape is a must for him. His wife, Larissa, is a figure competitor. I was able to talk to Matt before a house show in Beckley, West Virginia to find out what he does to stay in such great shape.
Matt Morgan: Thank you. I have been going to Bodybuilding.com since I was in college. I love the site.
MM: That is a great question. I was much heavier than I am now when I started wrestling. If you look back at my photos or video from Ohio Valley Wrestling, which was WWE's developmental territory, I weighed 387 pounds.
I was told that when I finally appeared on TV for Smackdown, I wouldn't look like I weighed 387. I would look 287 because I had no cuts and definition on my physique. I was very smooth like I was retaining a lot of water.
At first I didn't understand the logic because when I stood next to many of the guys, I dwarfed them. I got it when I noticed that a Kurt Angle or Eddie Guerrero would go out there and, despite being shorter, look absolutely huge. Like 40 pounds heavier than they actually were. It was because they were ripped.
Suddenly, I realized I needed to take this more seriously. I didn't do as much powerlifting anymore. I started doing cardio two times a day. I do more drop sets. I don't rest in between sets when I lift. I do crunches or "bicycles" or some other exercise to hit my abs. Keep my heart rate up, or both.
MM: 100 percent.
MM: Next week, for example, I might do two shows in one night, so I know I won't make it to the gym that night. Since that is the case, I need to start planning my week out now. If TV is a week from today, I try to do five days on and two days off in a perfect world.
Obviously a pro wrestler doesn't live in a perfect world. Today would normally be an off day, but I know I need to get in my workouts before next Thursday, so I had to get in a leg workout today.
MM: At my age, I do cheat on my diet occasionally. I don't do it often but I will have something every now and then. It actually is easier than most people may think to eat clean on the road. I can eat clean at McDonald's.
When it comes to food, you take whatever you can get when you are on the road, especially with something like protein. You aren't going to be able to get a major brand protein like EAS every day. This is really true when it comes to smaller cities that don't have many options.
For example, today I had to take one of those protein shot drinks that contain 26 grams of protein. I grabbed two of those for 52 grams of protein. I go for about 50 grams of protein per meal. I also try to eat every 2 ½ hours. It used to be 1 ½ hour, but now that I'm older, I've slowed down the frequency.
MM: Whatever I can get my hands on. I've taken everything from Optimum Whey Protein, which is relatively inexpensive, to EAS whey protein to Nitro-Tech and Cell-Tech-things like that. When I had a part coming up for The Good Guys, they didn't want me to be as lean.
They wanted me bigger. I went and got some Cell-Tech. I put on more than 10 pounds pretty easily.
MM: My best lifts in the gym? [Laughs] When it comes to legs, I have three bulging discs, so squats are out. I can still train legs, obviously, and I train my ass off, but I train them in a way that I don't have to go so heavy.
I do a lot of plyometrics, hack squats and of course I do leg curls and leg extensions. When it comes to leg training, it is more about function than anything.
Now when it comes to bench press, my best lift ever is 655. (Keep in mind he is 7-feet tall. It takes a lot of power to push 655.) I won the Hawaii State Open in college with that lift.
MM: Having my wife, who actively pursues competitive figure, is obviously an added bonus! She completely understands the discipline it takes to prepare my diet, crazy workout schedules, and my wrestling schedule, which is awesome. We push each other to the outer limits in each of our respective fields.
Her potential in women's figure is limitless, in my opinion. She's a gorgeous, half Hawaiian/half Filipino, and when she steps on stage, she instantly offers that particular contest an instant contrast to the "everyday monotony" the judges see show after show.
Her work ethic is contagious, and is as humble as it gets. She's the whole package and the REAL DEAL! I can't wait until she wins her pro card. She totally deserves it.
MM: Simple. It is the same thing that I have said since I joined TNA. Obviously one is to be the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, and I will be someday. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. There is zero doubt that it will happen.
As far as I am concerned, that isn't just smack. That is gospel. More than that, I will go down in history as the greatest giant in the history of TNA wrestling. Period.