Lou Ferrigno Tells All - Find Out How He Overcame Adversity!

In this two-part interview, Lou speaks out about his acting career and provides a never-before-heard account of his life as the Hulk.

Lou Ferrigno Tells All

Find Out How He Overcame Adversity!

As a child, Louis Jude Ferrigno lived a life of seclusion due to severe hearing loss resulting from an ear infection diagnosed at age three, experienced extreme shyness and difficulty forming friendships, and constantly fantasized about adding weight to his unhealthy skinny physique to become muscular and powerful, just like the comic book heroes he wished to emulate.

Today he is recognized worldwide as one of the two biggest superstars in the history of bodybuilding and fitness, as a man who has redefined the word superhero and served as inspiration to his legions of fans.

A lifelong admirer of the muscular physique and one of bodybuilding's strongest, most passionate advocates and devotees, Lou Ferrigno has made his mark in more ways than one on a sport that has given him so much since he picked up his first barbell at age 12.

First of all there is his bodybuilding career: the only man to have won the IFBB Mr. Universe twice consecutively (in 1973 and '74) and, at six feet, five inches, and 21 years old, the tallest and youngest man to ever do so. At 23 he was one of the youngest men to enter the Mr. Olympia contest, the 1975 Pretoria, South Africa affair famously documented on the 1977 landmark production and cult bodybuilding movie, Pumping Iron.

After placing third to his boyhood idol and the most famous bodybuilder of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the '74 Olympia (Serge Nubret came second), Lou parleyed the massive look he had attained (he was at the time the most muscular man in the world at 285 pounds, cut) into a Hollywood career and instantly became the most recognizable bodybuilder in the world as, fittingly, one of the comic book heroes he had dreamed of becoming as a youth: The Incredible Hulk.

And while Arnold went on to claim seven Olympia titles, Lou became a major screen star and an internationally renowned fitness trainer, the latter career blossoming as much from Lou's onscreen notoriety as from the training expertise he had gained during his extensive bodybuilding and fitness career.

With over 20 feature films to his credit, including Cage One and Two, Hercules, Sinbad and the Seven Seas and, of course, Pumping Iron, Lou has proven his acting worth. He has also transitioned his acting talents to the stage as a serious theatrical performer (with staring roles in Arsenic and Old Lace and Requiem for a Heavyweight) and will appear once again in The Hulk (the 2008 version), to be screened on June 13. But to his bodybuilding fans Lou will be best remembered as one of the sport's true greats, a legend standing literally head and shoulders above the rest. Standing tall.

And bodybuilding has remained Lou's first love. Still heavily involved in the bodybuilding industry (pun intended) Lou is today living large at around 250 pounds of solid muscle, still represents the Weider Company and travels the US giving seminars to bodybuilding and corporate audiences alike.

Central to his talks is the concept of facing one's fears and overcoming obstacles, topics he is intimately acquainted with. Having firsthand experience in reaching the top despite the odds, Lou is living testimony to the power of positive thought and man's inherent ability to maximize his potential.

The fact Lou returned to bodybuilding to compete in the 1992 IFBB Mr. Olympia in Helsinki, Finland, after 17 years away from the game, does much to underscore his amazing self-belief. Placing 12th at this contest, then returning the following year only to garner 10th at this same show - and an accompanying lesson in humility - before stating that he was just happy to prove to himself that he could once again be the best he could be under the circumstances, demonstrates the good sportsmanship and realistic outlook he possesses, further qualities that set the great Lou Ferrigno apart.

In 1994 Lou competed in the first ever IFBB Masters Mr. Olympia and placed second to Robby Robinson. Although many fans felt Lou should have been the victor that day, the man himself says he was just happy to finally leave the sport he loved having accomplished his personal best conditioning.

After the Masters Olympia, acting, and coaching others to be their best in his private training facility beckoned. Along with these two all-consuming pursuits, Lou has raised a family - two boys and one girl - and remains a devoted husband and father. And he has not forgotten his roots: hardcore bodybuilding fans can meet a perpetually in-shape Lou at the many speaking appearances he makes and bodybuilding contests he attends.

Along with training (others and himself), acting and designing his latest range of exercise equipment, Lou has found time to achieve other lifelong goals. In February 2006, he completed all necessary academic and physical training requirements to become a reserve deputy for the Los Angles Sheriff's Department and recently released his long awaited autobiography: My Incredible Life as the Hulk.

Dan Laurie & Lou Ferrigno In 1972

Still in great shape and a regular iron lifter, bodybuilding-time seems to have stood still for big Lou. His passion for bodybuilding is as intense as it was all those years ago as a youth with the world on his shoulders and a dream in his heart.

In bodybuilding terms Lou is one of the rare few that have transferred their talents into many other areas. His life experiences alone could fill several weighty books.

How many men can talk of being psyched out by the great Arnold only to turn this around to become one of the more revered figures in bodybuilding history, a man who did not need to pull psych-jobs to make his massive mark, of being a reclusive introvert who intelligently and determinedly worked his way to the top of the bodybuilding world to become one of the iron game's most vocal and inspiring champs? Actually nobody can claim this as it is a distinction that lies solely with the man they call The Hulk, the living legend Lou Ferrigno.


As a youth, when did you begin bodybuilding and what was your main motivation for doing so?

I began bodybuilding at the age of 12. I was born with profound hearing loss so was very introverted as a child because I had to deal with the hearing problem. Then I discovered bodybuilding and that changed my life and made me realize that that was the thing I wanted to do.

I was always fascinated by power and strength and muscle. I admired people like Steve Reeves as Hercules and that gave me a lot of confidence in myself.

Other than Steve Reeves, whom did you look up to as a youth?

Well there was Steve Reeves and later on Arnold Schwarzenegger. Those two guys influenced my life.

Did you gain size easily or did it take you a while?

It took me a while because I was thin. I would do a lot of chin-ups because I couldn't afford weights; I would have makeshift weights. And I would read the magazines and just fell in love with working out. Then over time I slowly started to put size on: around the age of 16 or 17. It was a passion of mine; I just loved the weights, loved bodybuilding. Neighborhood friends of mine worked out too so I learned from them and wanted to be stronger.

Over what period did you gain most of your size?

Well probably at the age of 20 because I was eating about seven to eight meals a day and took my bodyweight up to 300 pounds. I just wanted to see how big I could get, so I would consume eight to ten thousand calories a day and trained heavier to put on size.

What was your first contest Lou and where did you place?

My first competition was the Mr. New Jersey open Hercules competition and I came in 22nd place.

So at that point you had the size but lacked the conditioning?

Yes but I loved going on the stage, loved the posing and competing with myself. So I realized that this was my path.

Tell me about your time in the WBBG?

Yes I competed there but went to the IFBB when I was 21; I then won the IFBB Mr. America and Mr. Universe.

When you first met Joe Weider what was his impression of you as a bodybuilder?

I first met Joe Weider when I was 20 years old. At that point I had gone to the Academy of music to see the Mr. Olympia competition and I met Joe and Joe said to me, "You could be the new superstar of bodybuilding." At that time there were three superstars: Frank Zane, Arnold and Franco. He said I could be the fourth superstar because as he said, I had the persona and the physique and could be in that class. And I was excited because Joe gave me a lot of hope.

And what was your impression of Joe Weider when you first met him?

Well I was excited because he was Joe Weider, editor of Muscle Magazine. It was like I had a chance to meet the father of bodybuilding so I realized I was home.

What recollections do you have competing under Dan Lurie and working with him?

Well with Dan Lurie I would say no comment. I really don't want to talk about him. I competed there and came second in the WBBG Mr. America and then moved on to the IFBB because I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the greats and be an IFBB champion.

When you first began competing in the IFBB how did the other competitors respond to you? Were they intimidated or overwhelmed by your massive size do you think?

There was just a big welcome because at the time I ran into the bodybuilders I was reading about in the magazines at the time. They welcomed me and told me that I had great potential. I remember my first IFBB competition was the Mr. Eastern America and I won that competition and I felt that this was where I wanted to be.

When you first began competing in the IFBB who among your fellow competitors impressed you the most?

It was definitely Draper, Arnold and Frank Zane because I had followed them since I was young and they were the ones that motivated me the most. Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of bodybuilders involved in competition at that point, but it was my dream to be in the IFBB as they had the bodybuilders that excited me the most. And that's my opinion.

What's you best memory regarding the time you spent competing in the IFBB?

Well it was great because before I began there, and growing up as a kid I followed a lot of the IFBB bodybuilders. In the IFBB at the time they had the Mr. Olympia competition and this was the most prestigious competition so when I was 21 I won the IFBB Mr. Universe and I wanted to be the best in the world so to be the best in the world the IFBB and the Mr. Olympia competition was the best place to be. That was my dream, competing in the Mr. Olympia especially against my idol, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So that would be your best memory, regarding competing in the IFBB?

Yes. You want to be the best in the IFBB; it is the biggest organization in the world and they have the highest respect, the highest integrity. And that was my path; that's what I wanted to do.

What was it like for you to go up against Arnold at the 1975 Mr. Olympia?

I wasn't at my best but I was very honored to be on the same stage with him (Arnold) because very few people have that same chance to do what I did; I was on the same stage, in the same league with them. And I was very excited because it was a dream of mine coming true and I was sharing myself onstage with the best.

In the lead up to that contest how had you changed your training program compared to programs you had used for previous bodybuilding contests?

Well I only had two months to train (for the 1975 Olympia) because I was training for the Superstars competition and realized that I could not do both and had only eight weeks left. So I competed at the Olympia because they were filming the Pumping Iron movie and I didn't have the chance to train in California so I did the best I could to be the best I could be.

I mean I could have had another month or two more of training for the Olympia - because Arnold even said that in the movie - but I realized that no matter what, the outcome would be good for me.

2008 Arnold Classic Lou Ferrigno Interview
Watch The Video - 01:41

And the outcome of Pumping Iron of course gave you the exposure you needed to parlay your talents into a Hollywood career

Well it put me on the map. Arnold and I are the two most famous people in fitness, even to this day: two of the best. So it led me to the Hulk series because they (the producers) learned about the two biggest guys in the business. This series (The Incredible Hulk) just made me a household name.

Do you feel you could have overtaken Arnold as a competitive bodybuilder had you chosen to continue competing in the IFBB?

Well if I had more time - and he is five years older than me - I would have eventually caught up to him. He (Arnold) always said that if he had my potential nobody could beat him. And the fact he was in California and I was in New York: if I had the chance to go to California for a couple of years I would have learned the proper way to train and improved my training to maximize my potential.

Do you think both you had a similar degree of muscle, but he had a more finished look and you had more room to grow?

Right, I was like a rough diamond. He was a fine diamond and I was rough diamond so if I had more time to train it would have been a lot different.

How far do you feel you could have ultimately gone in the sport of bodybuilding had you chosen to continue?

If I didn't go into the movie business I think I could have won the Olympia six or seven times depending on how long I was hungry because I just knew that if I was serious about my training I could have held the title for as long as I wanted to.

After retiring did you ever feel that you would one day come back to compete again?

It was always a desire of mine because I always felt in all my years in the film business - and I did the Hulk because it was a one-time opportunity - if I had the chance to train what would happen? So I decided to come back after 17 years to fulfil my dream.

No matter where I placed and where I stood I wanted to be the best I could be and did not want to leave unfinished business. It was tough 17 years later to come back (at the 1992 Mr. Olympia) because after this time it is extremely hard to be competing like you were at 25 or 26 (years old).

And during those 17 years away from official competition you did continue training but not at the same level you would if you were competing, right?

Correct. I kept training as a bodybuilder, but never seriously as far as leg training was concerned or when training for competition in general. But I always made the effort to always stay in decent shape, but training for competition requires very intensified training.

What did you do differently at the 1992 Mr. Olympia compared to how you trained for the 1975 edition?


I trained the same way but the change was the diet. In the old days of Pumping Iron and when I won the Universe it was more like a low calorie, high carbohydrate diet. So I realized the difference were the carbohydrates. And instead of training down for the competition I would train hard off-season. And the body parts (training) were the same it was just that I trained smarter and paid more attention to correct form (for the 1992 Olympia).

Did you try anything new as far as supplementation for the 1992 Olympia?

The supplements were much the same but I do know I was eating twice as much because I have learned that if you eat four or five meals a day this is better than eating three huge meals. I became more educated about dieting and how the metabolism works.

So prior to the 1975 Olympia you were eating only three times per day?


Reports say you could have been fuller and more ripped at the 1992 Olmpia. What happened?

Well there were two mistakes that I made when I came back at the '92 Olympia: I was overtrained - I was actually ready a month before - and I did not work on my posing. I didn't realize that there was a change in the symmetry and the compulsory rounds.

You really had to be tensed and flexed and I didn't put enough time into that so that was my fault. So this made me realize what I did wrong and the following year I came in bigger and more prepared. Bodybuilding changes every ten years, what with the rules and the regulations and the biggest factor (in my result at the 1992 Olympia) made me realize how important posing was.

Do you feel you were judged fairly at the 1992 Olympia?

I would say that the judges probably did the best they could because I came in too light and too drawn. Maybe I could have been one-or-two notches higher but I do think I was overtrained for this contest and could have placed much higher. In fact I predict that if I looked the way I looked a month before I could have definitely cracked the top five.

So a month before the 1992 Olympia how exactly did you look compared to what you presented onstage?

I was very full and hard. But although I was probably one of the most ripped guys in the whole show I was very flat.

And your stance in the so-called relaxed pose at the pre-judging obviously didn't help you

Yes and I still didn't understand: I was still learning about peaking out. I just peaked out too early. You have to remember that after 17 years it's tough. You know all the stress, the pressure, and the state of mind you have when you have a family. I simply didn't have enough time to learn all about peaking out.

If you could do it all over again what would you do differently?

Well if I could do it all over again I would probably give a few posing exhibitions before the contest to learn how to peak out properly.

How did your fellow competitors respond to you at the 1992 Olympia?

Well at the same time they were my peers, fans and friends. And of course they also wanted to defeat me. Bodybuilding is very competitive. But they were very nice to me; I had a great time with the whole crew. Everybody from Vince Taylor to Dorian Yates, they really had a lot of respect for me and they really welcomed my comeback and that was what I was excited about.

Comparing your fellow competitors at the 1992 Olympia with those from the 1975 Olympia, what were the main physical differences?

There was a greater amount of muscularity, they were bigger and much more superior in their leg development and in the back.

Should you have won 1994 Masters version?

I personally felt I should have won the competition but then there was the problem with my tanning solution. And I had a feeling that the only advantage they gave to Robby was the fact that he had more years of training and a little more maturity. And when a bodybuilder competes, on the day of the contest it is very hard to tell him and make him understand why he should have placed where because you can't really see yourself because you are so into the training and the diet.

Now that I look back I think if I had had more (muscle) maturity and more time, things would have been different. But that is where it stands and I gave 110 percent so there is nothing I regret. But I know the audience felt I should have won.

After that contest you walked away from competitive bodybuilding. Why did you decide to do this?

I gave 110 percent and competed for three years and felt I did what I wanted to do. So there was no sense for me to continue competing because I proved what I had to prove to myself. I wanted to go back to the film business and make more movies because that was my other passion.

  • 1971 Pro Mr. America - WBBG, Teen 1st
  • 1971 Teen Mr. America - AAU, 4th, Most Muscular 5th
  • 1972 Pro Mr. America - WBBG, 2nd
  • 1972 NABBA Mr. Universe, Tall 2nd
  • 1973 IFBB Mr. America, Overall Winner
  • 1973 IFBB Mr. Universe, Tall 1st, Overall Winner
  • 1974 IFBB Mr. International
  • 1974 IFBB Mr. Universe, Tall 1st, Overall Winner
  • 1974 Mr. Olympia, Heavyweight 2nd
  • 1975 Mr. Olympia, Tall class, 3rd place
  • 1992 Mr. Olympia, 12th
  • 1993 Mr. Olympia, 10th
  • 1994 Olympia Masters, 2nd

You do you still train hard?

Oh yes, I am still training the same way I did years ago. Moderate to heavy, I'm really smart with my training and I still have the same passion for training that I have had for the last 45 years.

How are you looking these days?

Pretty good for 56: I can take my shirt off and flex and hold my own against guys my age. I'm very proud.

Can you give me an example of how you would train these days?

Well I still train chest and back on Monday, on Tuesday I would do legs, Wednesday I would do shoulders on their own, then Thursday would be biceps and triceps. It is a four-day on, one-day off.

What is your diet like now?

A balanced diet: meat, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables; maybe no more than 3500 calories per day. I do everything in moderation.

How is your health today after 45 years of bodybuilding?

My health is good.

Do you have any current injuries?

I have had injuries but my health is good. Sure I have had injuries just like everyone else but nothing current.

And are you getting a good response from the bodybuilding community these days?

Yes I do, all the time. I have a service on my website and see fans and people from all over the world; they still come and train with me. I love training them more than anybody else because it gives me a chance to help and motivate them and minimize their mistakes.

How have you given back to the bodybuilding community?

Well I am very active. I have a Weider contract and am involved with the magazine. And I am still happy to be an IFBB champion today; plus I still do seminars on my own where I can to preach the word about bodybuilding and fitness.

Can you talk about all the projects you are running from your website?

Yes I have books, posters, all my pictures, and also my home line of gym equipment and the (Ferrigno Fitness) PowerBlock. This is unique. Why have a home gym when you can employ and use the PowerBlock.

If you don't want to use a home gym you still have 28 pairs of dumbbells in one set. So it takes up little space and it is all free weight and it is a very effective approach as opposed to cables. It is mostly free weight and the cables you can utilize through the machines (the compete Lou Ferrigno home gym package) so you get a complete body workout also, free weight-wise.

It is fun. When you first use the unit you say, "Wow, this is great" when you look at the picture. But the fact is I would have given anything for something like this when I was a kid. I would have killed for it. It is just very practical and very useable.

What are some bodybuilding lessons you have learned over the years?

Oh about three or four years ago I was talking to Reg Park and he told me to be smart about training and not over train. Not to train too heavy because it is hard on the joints. So it is really great to talk to people like him, because these guys have experienced training all these years. And also Bill Pearl; he is one of my mentors too.

Of all the great pioneers within bodybuilding, men like Bill Pearl, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Reg Park and Steve Reeves, who would you consider to be number one and why?

Well that is a tough question because it changes every 15 to 20 years. I would say they are all great: those guys. In my book, I love Steve Reeves and Arnold.

What did you like about Steve Reeves best?

His symmetry, he was very strong, he came from nothing and was self-made and he was very handsome. And he was very smart with how he conducted himself and he had a good lifestyle.

What advice would you give to one who is just starting up in bodybuilding?

Be patient, do not compete with others but compete with yourself because you have a certain genetic make-up, be the best you can be, give yourself personal satisfaction and most of all be very consistent.

Do you feel that bodybuilding is a viable career option for those with good potential?

Sure, depending on what you want to get out of it. Not everybody can be Mr. Olympia, but at least you can be the best you can be. Bodybuilding leads to so many different things because you build wonderful discipline and it can be applied to other things: for instance, guys go from bodybuilding into other sports like baseball, football and wrestling or into the film business. So it has tremendous potential, but still I think bodybuilding builds a fantastic foundation for your body, yourself and for your mind.

If your son wanted to become a professional bodybuilder what would you say to him?

Well, take pictures of yourself, see the potential; you see the desire they (the champions) have and how hard they want to train because they have great potential. If they don't put the effort into it they just won't become champions. I would say be the best you can be and take one step at a time.

Both your boys are involved in the fitness industry I understand

Yes they are personal trainers and they are active bodybuilders: they emulate me and they live a great lifestyle because they are great bodybuilders themselves.

If one or both of them wanted to become a professional bodybuilder what would you say to them?

The same thing I said in answer to the other question: be patient and trust yourself. I don't believe in holding back. I mean if they wanted to pursue it I would support them in whatever they wanted to do.

So you wouldn't be concerned with the potential dangers that the necessary drug use would present?

Well there are all kinds of dangers in all kinds of sports, but I would just say train hard and be as good as you can be. Just explain that and the fact that drugs do not make champions.

Did your father help train you for Pumpin Iron or was this fictionalized?

My father and I had a love and hate relationship. My father had a tremendous work ethic, but we never trained together. We only trained for Pumping Iron. He did the best he could and he had a great physique himself. I wanted to grow up and emulate his physique and go on to be the best I could be in life.

Many do speculate that your relationship with your father in Pumping Iron was all an act for the cameras, but in reality he did in fact inspire you in many ways and your relationship in the movie was accurately portrayed?

Well I just loved bodybuilding and nothing could stop me. And with him being very negative, and when Pumping Iron came along it was for the movie. And that's why in the making of Pumping Iron it portrayed what really happened behind the scenes. The guy did the best he could but I just wanted the world to know that I did not have the perfect relationship with him.

Do you feel that your father's authoritarian approach gave you added determination to succeed, to prove to yourself that you could make it to the top?

When I won the Mr. America and Mr. Universe, I thought that when we did Pumping Iron... I mean I wasn't ready and I did not want to compete.

But he (Lou's father) wanted me to compete (at the 1975 Mr. Olympia) because it was for the movie and I thought it was great opportunity, but because I was in a tough relationship it was hard for me to focus on training for the competition. So that's what I had to deal with at the time. And that is why later on I came back to competition 17 years later: not to please him, not to please anybody else, but to please myself. It was very similar to the Mark Spitz situation, with his father.

What are your views on the current state of bodybuilding?

Today I think it is unbelievable. Guys like Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler; I am amazed how they have taken their bodies beyond what you could imagine they might look like. I think they are true champions and today to be in the Mr. Olympia - even in the top ten - it is an unbelievable achievement. Those guys, they are all heroes.

Do you feel the guys of today have added pressure to perform and to do well? Are they taking more risks in your view?

It is hard because back in the '70s, in contests they had the pre-judging and the situation with lighting and the tanning. Today you can't hide any flaws. And if you do have flaws they will be considered and points will be taken away.

It's not like in the old days where they guys with the biggest arms would win the competition. Today it has to be more of a balanced physique and the judges are very critical when it comes to judging. I would hate to be a judge because it is very difficult to judge these guys today. They (the judges) look for everything.

What was your greatest moment as a bodybuilder?

Winning the Mr. Universe. When I won the IFBB Mr. Universe that was my life dream come true. I realized then that it was the biggest achievement because when I won the IFBB Mr. America they gave me six weeks to prepare before flying to Switzerland to compete in the Universe.

Everyone thought I was two years away from winning the competition (the Universe) but I really fooled them because I came in as a big surprise and won it hands down.

And that evening you defeated both Mike Katz and Ken Waller

Yes and it was amazing because I was a big fan of theirs. I grew up reading about them in the magazines. And they were very happy for me and I had a great time. And it was just the beginning of my new career as a bodybuilder and I really respected them too.

Would it be fair to say that the camaraderie among bodybuilders was more evident then than it is today?

Yes today it is a little different. You don't have the camaraderie like back in the old days. Today it is so spread out. In the old days when we trained we had on a tank top, we had shorts and on the day of the competition the best man won. Today it is just different because I think it is just so widespread, there are so many more competitors. And I think the companionship was more popular years ago because we had nothing back then.

So back then you had to work doubly hard to get to the top as well?

Yes because there were no contracts. Back then the Olympia win was only 750 dollars. Everyone else got a trophy. So everything came out of your own pocket; you had to work for a living. Plus you had to take the extra time to train and compete.

Why did you train so hard to be the best? What gave you the incentive?

Well because as a kid it was very hard for me to participate in a team sport because of my obstacles so I loved competing against myself and so I wanted to be a real life hero. That is the direction I chose.

Did you experience any kind of flow on effects from your gym efforts other than a great physique?

With the discipline I have gained through bodybuilding I have learned to become a very good actor and also became who I am today. And it helped me to venture into many other things.

I love doing public speaking, a lot of corporate speaking at universities, where I talk about facing your fears, and ambition. I feel this is a success for me because as a kid I had a hard time talking to and relating to people. So bodybuilding did put me out there and made me more of an extrovert.

Comparing yourself to other bodybuilders from your era, were you at a disadvantage when you first began competing?

Actually when I began competing my disadvantage was that I was tall and it was very hard to put a lot of size on fast because of my height. It took a longer time to put on muscle compared to a shorter person.

But once you put the muscle on it looked a lot more impressive compared to a shorter guy, right?

Yes because I was probably one of the very few bodybuilders at my height to have perfect symmetry. I admired guys like Steve Reeves because symmetry for me is very important.

What are your thoughts on the current trend amongst bodybuilders to pack on as much size as possible?

I really don't think they have a choice because when you compete in the Olympia competition today you have to come in as big as you can be and sometimes you have to sacrifice symmetry. If you are in the same league as those guys, that's what you have to do because that's what it takes. That's what I had to do when I came back 17 years later. I had to be onstage at over 300 pounds at least instead of being 260.

And even 300 pounds at your height would not look all that big by current standards right?

Well you take a guy like Ronnie Coleman. He is almost 300 pounds for his height (Ronnie is 5' 11"). He reminds me of the cartoons I used to see when I was a kid. And Ronnie has proven that those things can happen. Because you have to remember one thing: Ronnie trains very hard and it didn't come from the sky.

Yes, Ronnie is certainly one guy who has paid his dues to make it to the top

Yes, the guy can squat over 800 pounds and do dumbbell presses with over 200 pounds. I mean Ronnie really earned it and it really motivates me to see guys with his potential and to see how far they can take it.

You have always crossed me as being a guy who is always persistent and who never gives up on his goals. What about your personality has given you this ability?

I'm not afraid of fear; I never take no for an answer and love challenges; I have only one life to live just like to enjoy life and live life to the fullest.

What kind of emphasis do you place on the importance of family?

That is my number one priority: my wife and my kids. The relationship with I have with them is the most important thing for me above anything else. It is something I have always wanted so that is what I value most in life today. And I think the same would go for anybody else in this position.

How has your wife Carla supported you over the years Lou?

She has supported me very much. She has been very supporting in whatever I wanted to do. She was never negative about me training so I really appreciate having that support.

Let us say hypothetically that you and Arnold had 12 weeks to prepare for a bodybuilding contest, who, of the two of you, would win today?

It would be much closer because, much as I admire him, he would have to cut about 30 pounds. But I think it would be pretty close as great as he was. I think if I filled out a few body parts it would be a h-ll of a competition.

What are your thoughts on some of the top champions of yesteryear who are still around and in good shape today?

You need to be very persistent and to do the things that you really want to do, and not to carry too much stress. That is what I would attribute that to.

Is there anything you would like to add?

The fans and everybody should be excited about the new Hulk movie coming out on June 13th. It will be full of action and it has to do with bodybuilding somewhat because the Hulk shows a lot of muscle. It will be a new look Hulk. And I am happy that Joe Weider is still alive and still going strong because he made us the bodybuilders who we are today.

Tell me about your relationship with Joe Weider?

Well Joe is like the father I never had. If it weren't for Joe I wouldn't be where I am today so we keep in touch all the time. He has always been good to me and he always tries to help people and tries to bring the best out of people.

What makes Joe special in your eyes?

He always makes you reach your full potential. If I was benching 400 pounds, Joe would walk into the gym and say, "You can do 450." And he would be right.

For general enquiries, to learn more about Lou Ferrigno or to purchase his line of exercise equipment, books or posters, please visit Lou at: http://louferrigno.com/. To book Lou as a motivational guest speaker, email him at: Lou@LouFerrigno.com.

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