Mention the word freak in relation to men's professional bodybuilding and the name Branch Warren will most likely spring to mind. Undoubtedly one of the world's most muscular men with over 250 pounds of solid chiseled mass on his compact five foot seven frame, Branch is now also one of its best with his second place finish at the 2009 Mr. Olympia, proving that at the pro level, size is imperative.
Bringing more than just freaky mass, Branch is also known for showing up onstage with the best conditioning of any competitor, with the ultra-grainy look best exemplified by the legendary six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates. Having recently brought up several areas - notably his back, arms and shoulders - Branch defied the critics and made probably the biggest breakthrough of any pro bodybuilding athlete in 2009.
Having forgone the 2008 Mr. Olympia due to a severe triceps injury, Branch - in knowing of his potential to dominate any pro bodybuilding field with several pro wins to his name already - made it his goal to maximize his potential during the following year's pro season. This he did. With interest.
After a controversial third place finish at the 2009 Arnold Classic in March, where a lesser Victor Martinez bettered him for second, Branch quietly and methodically worked away at his hardcore facility, MetroFlex gym, only to emerge at the Olympia in September with a physique that the judges simply could not ignore.
Bigger than ever, with an indefinable quality of conditioning never before seen, he edged out last year's winner Dexter Jackson to claim a respectable second place. Branch being Branch he is now gunning for the winner's position in 2010.
As well as his extensive competition and guest posting schedule, Branch has also been a very busy man of late with the expansion of his product line of which features what is being hailed as the best new bodybuilding DVD on the market along with an exciting line of exclusive street clothing and gym wear.
In the following interview Branch details how he was able to achieve his best ever physique in 2010 and how he plans to capitalize on this success in future outings. He also discusses his current business interests and what is new in his life.
[ Q ] Hi Branch - first of all, congratulations on your recent Olympia placement.
Well thank you.
[ Q ] You didn't compete in either the 2007 and 2008 Olympia's. Why not?
Actually I got hurt in 2008 six weeks before the show. I tore my triceps off the bone and needed surgery to repair this muscle. In 2007 I just needed a little time off, I think I ditched four or five shows that year.
[ Q ] So coming in this year with your best ever package was a combination of having a good off-season before the 2009 Arnold - which allowed you to bring up your weaknesses - and the success you had earlier this year?
Yes. And I did a lot of things differently. I did all of the things I used to do including practicing my posing every day for 30-45 minutes like I used to when I was younger.
I got Brian Dobson (owner of MetroFlex Gym) to train me this year like I did when I was a kid. And my nutrition for both the Arnold and the Olympia was different this year.
I have never let anyone work with me on nutrition before so it took a lot for me to do that. So I had a good team and the results speak for themselves.
[ Q ] You also looked awesome at this year's Arnold Classic and appeared to be in better condition compared to Victor Martinez and very close to Kai physique-wise. Do you feel that in light of your recent Olympia placement, where you beat both Kai and Victor, that you should have placed higher at the 2009 Arnold?
Well it is what it is. I'm not one to complain about it. Going into the night show I thought I was going to win actually.
I thought it was between Kai and me, but the judges didn't see it that way so I accept that. So I came back and got things straightened out at the Olympia.
[ Q ] I guess it is good not to become bitter and twisted about such things?
[ Q ] Have you decided on your competition schedule for 2010 yet?
Yes. I'll be competing at the Arnold Classic and hopefully from there we will go on and do the Mr. Olympia.
[ Q ] Do you think having a prolonged break between shows like you did in '09 will enhance your chances of looking at your best yet again at the 2010 Olympia?
Well it took me a couple of weeks to decide for sure if I will do the Arnold. I'm sure I will win it this time around. It's that focus that keeps me on the program and that is how I like to train all year round.
[ Q ] How much did you weigh at the 2009 Olympia?
I was close to 250, a couple of pounds under. I was about nine pounds heavier than usual.
[ Q ] And for the record, how tall are you?
[ Q ] Tell me more about your new DVD. How is it doing?
It's doing great, my new DVD is called Train Insane. It's my training for this year's Olympia with my hardcore style of workout. There are also some personal records I've set on there.
I'm doing 405 for 16 reps on the incline bench press, 200 pound dumbbells for 14 reps and I'm squatting over 600 pounds. So it's a real cool video. It's very motivational and is a good one to watch before going to the gym to get psyched up.
[ Q ] How does it differ from the last one you did, Unchained Raw Reality?
It is pre-contest and six weeks out from the 2009 Olympia. I'm just taking it to the next level, very hardcore.
I have Brian training me for the DVD and I'm doing all the body parts. Just high intensity and very hard. There is also lifestyle content on it. It's just very motivational.
[ Q ] And is this DVD shot in black and white like your last one?
Actually it's going to be color and black and white. All of the footage in the gym is in color. And it shows a lot of my daily life.
I do more than just bodybuilding. We have a freight company and are involved in some real estate ventures. So the DVD also shows what I do besides lifting weights.
[ Q ] In this new DVD you are also pressing some pretty crazy weights - like 200-pound dumbbells as you just mentioned. Were these weights staged for the DVD or are they what you normally push?
Well people watch my DVDs because they want to see a hardcore workout, a high intensity workout. And not too many people train like that any more.
A lot of people compare the way I train to that of Dorian, to how he trained 15-20 years ago. It is definitely Branch Warren at his best training hardcore and taking it to another level.
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People Watch My DVDs Because They Want To
See A Hardcore Workout, A High Intensity Workout.
[ Q ] And you have another training DVD scheduled for shooting in February. Can you tell me more about this DVD?
This DVD will be released around the week of the Arnold, and it will focus on my training for the Arnold Classic.
I'm actually going to change the format to more of a reality focus, and I'll be training harder than ever. The training, the quality and the editing will just be a lot better than anything else I've done.
[ Q ] And Joel Barham, who has produced some very high quality bodybuilding DVDs over the past few years, will shoot this DVD.
Yes, Joel will be shooting it and I'm very excited to be working with him. He was to work with me this year before the Olympia but our schedules did not allow this.
So we planned it for a few months following this show and it all worked out well and I look forward to working with him.
[ Q ] And you also have a hunting show that airs next year. Can you give me a rundown on what this show will feature?
It's going to be hardcore hunting show. We hunt all kinds of things. We hunt wild boars with knives and hunt deer and buffalo.
We actually just came back from hunting trip in New Mexico where we caught a black bear. So it will be real hardcore, a lot of knives and spears and bows and things like that. So it's going to be a real hardcore show.
[ Q ] Just like a Branch Warren training session.
Yes, just like the training it is going to be off the hook. And with everything we kill we eat or donate it to a church. We regularly go to outreaches for the homeless and the needy and donate there.
[ Q ] I understand you holidayed in Mexico after this year's Olympia. Can you tell me more about this holiday? I hear it is quite a funny story.
Well, we get there after the Olympia, Trish and me just for a week to relax and go to the beach. You go to Mexico to go to the beach right?
We pull up to this place that was recommended to me. I was told how great it was and how good the restaurant was and that the food was great. And right after the Olympia we just wanted to lie on the beach and eat.
We didn't have anything else planned then so we could just do and eat what we wanted. When we got there this place was gorgeous. We go to the beach and... there's no beach.
It was like this giant seawall with these massive waves crashing over it and you can't even get to the water, because the waves were so violent and there were rocks.
So we walked all up and down the place and we can't find a beach, just this big giant seawall with these big giant waves crashing all over it.
Well they had about four or five pools, so we decided we would make the best of it. We would lie by the pool and stuff. When we get to dinner it was terrible. I ordered a steak and it was like trying to eat a leather boot.
I was looking forward to something nicer, a good steak or something, so we went for breakfast the following morning, but the food was terrible man.
This was supposed to be a five-star resort. And it wasn't just us. Everyone else there felt that the food was terrible. So we sat by the pool and had a few drinks. But the drinks were so watered down they tasted like orange juice.
Usually after a couple of drinks I'm feeling pretty good but I think I drank like 15 of these things. It was just terrible. On the third day while choking down breakfast of something - I'm not really sure what it was - Trish said, "Do you want to just go home?" I was straight on the phone to book the flight out.
[ Q ] So great success for you at the Olympia but less success during your post-Olympia holiday.
Yes, but that's just one of those things. I did go hunting the following week and had some great success then though.
[ Q ] And I understand you chased a wild bear for three hours.
Yes, in New Mexico through the mountains at the National Forrest. We had the dogs tracking this thing and it took three hours through the mountains, about eight miles, about 7500 feet up.
This was two weeks after the Olympia and I'm about 20 pounds heavier and you have your backpack and all your gear and stuff with you.
I didn't think I was going to make it at one point but I just hung in there and put one foot in front of the other. We were very fortunate, we found the bear, but it was one of the hardest hunting adventures I've been on.
[ Q ] How is your Branch Warren Gasp clothing line coming along as well as your own line? Have they proven popular?
Yes, it is going well. The T-shirts are popular. And also Gasp - one of my sponsors - they have brought out the Branch Warren signature line and we have a few items, beanies and T-shirts and a few others, which can all be seen on my website.
[ Q ] When will the Gasp line be released?
They should be out by December.
[ Q ] And what do you expect will be the most popular Branch Warren item or items?
Probably the DVDs.
[ Q ] How old are you now Branch?
[ Q ] At this age you more than likely have several years of competing in professional bodybuilding left in you. Do you feel you have yet to reach your peak as a pro bodybuilder?
I think so. I think most guys reach their peak at around 36 or 37. I think back in the '70s and '80s guys around 29 and 30 years old had reached their potential. Nowadays most of the top guys are in their mid to later 30s before they peak out now.
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Nowadays Most Of The Top Guys Are In Their
Mid To Later 30s Before They Peak Out Now.
[ Q ] Would you continue beyond this point should the Mr. Olympia and Arnold titles elude you? How do you see your future in bodybuilding at this stage of your career?
Like I said before, I have two goals left and when I accomplish those goals that will be the icing on the cake for me.
If I can win the Arnold Classic and Olympia titles in 2010 and never compete again I can walk away and be happy. I'm not asking to be Mr. Olympia more than once but if I do then I'll be very blessed.
[ Q ] Your wife Trish did not place where she and many others thought she would at this year's Fitness Olympia. How did she take her tenth placement?
She was disappointed, you know. She was in ninth place last year. And going into this year's contest she wanted to improve on that.
She wanted to be top six. Her goal was to improve from last year and she was disappointed with it. I didn't know what to tell her to do.
She was as good as she could have been. She was great and I'm not sure what she could have done to look better. She also did the best routine she has ever done. It's like you asking me about how I felt about the Arnold earlier this year.
I did the best I could do and thought I was good enough to win it. But you have to accept what you are given. The judges call it the way they see it. You just have to come back, get ready and move on to the next contest.
[ Q ] Will Trish be back next year to contest this same event?
Well, I don't know what her plans are. But I do know she will compete in the Arnold Classic along with me. And after that I don't know. This is probably a little to far into the future for us to give an answer on that one.
[ Q ] How is it for you to have a wife who has similar goals and aspirations as yourself? How does it work having a partnership along those lines?
It actually works great. People often ask me how we do it. We just have to be careful while dieting together. But dieting comes pretty easy for her because she never gets out of shape.
She doesn't have to kill herself to get into shape. With me I get a little down at times with dieting, but she will go through the same thing with me in every respect with the dieting.
With everything I have to put myself through to get in shape - the training and dieting - she understands that. And I understand what she has to go through as well. This is how we work well together when getting in shape for the next contest.
[ Q ] Well thank you for this interview Branch. It is always a pleasure talking with you. How can we find out more about your DVD and clothing line?
For the DVD line you can go to http://www.thebranchwarren.com/ - there you can get the DVDs, pictures and T-shirts. Pretty soon we will be featuring the Branch Warren Gasp clothing line.
And if anybody would like to contact me for guest posing appearances they can contact me through my website as well.
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