The Words Of A Priest: An Interview With Bodybuilding's Superman Lee Priest.

What is new with IFBB pro Lee Priest, what does he think about Muscletech products, the new challenge round, Shawn Ray as the athlete rep and more...

Q. What are you weighing in at right now? 

    Right now I weigh in at about 235.

Q. I understand that you won't be in this years Mr. Olympia. What were the reasons for that? 

I can't say because I've just given an interview for Muscular Development Magazine and it comes out next month. I've signed a contract with them to do an interview about it, so I can't say until it comes out.

I can just say that it's not health reasons as some people are speculating.

Listen to Lee's comments on this years Mr. Olympia! (mp3 - 80k)

Click here to get a subscription to Muscular Devlopment Magazine.

Q. Will you be working with anyone at this year's Olympia? 

I'll still be with Twinlab and my contract ends at the end of October. It actually ends one of the days of the expo, so who knows. I might be at the Twinlab booth one day and could be anywhere the next day if I don't re-sign it. But I will be with the Twinlab booth for one of the days and we'll just see after that.

Q. There is a new challenge round at this year's Mr. Olympia. What are your thoughts on this? 

I think it's stupid. Are they going to let someone stay up on stage and say "ok, I want to call Dexter out to do a front-double bicep pose", thinking "I look better than him?" To me that's just like pre-judging. You've gone through every pose there is.

If you are in the top six you're being pretty much compared to the guys in the top six. You've done your front-double biceps, your lat spreads against Ronnie, Dexter, Jay, so why come to the night show? You've got the same judges that judged the pre-judging. All of a sudden are they going to say, "Oh wait a minute! He looks better in that pose?"

It would be good if they left it to the audience, and sure the audience has its favorites like Gunter and other crowd favorites, but overall, if you left it to them and just used that as a small percentage of the score, I bet the audience would vote, like they do on some of those TV shows where the audience can vote for who they think looks best. If you have the same judges judging it I can't see it changing that much unless they want someone new.

There has been a lot of rumors that Ronnie might get beat, so I guess they could use it to the effect where they say that Jay looks better, so Jay gets one point extra and wins the Olympia.

Listen to Lee's comments on the challenge round! (mp3 - 136k)

Q. So you think it would be better to have some fan involvement? 

Absolutely. Because if you have the same judges then like I said, you're pretty much calling someone up for a pose, and you did it during pre-judging. To me, it's like you are wanting to show your best pose against somebody.

Well, in the overall posedown, that's what you did. Someone would do a double bicep shot and you would stand beside them and do a double bicep shot. If they did a lat spread, you'd do a lat spread. So they might think its new, but it's the same shit that we've always had!

Listen to Lee's comments about being good to the fans! (mp3 - 112k)

Q. What contests are you planning on doing next? What is your schedule like? 

I'm going to start dieting sometime in December for the Ironman, and then put my name down to do the Arnold Classic. If I get chosen to do the Arnold Classic to do that then I will.

On stage at the 2004 San Francisco Pro.

I'm not sure what the schedule is for next year because some shows are being canceled, so I'm going to wait and see. But, the Ironman and the Arnold definitely.

Q. Right now you weigh 235lbs. When you do those shows what do you plan on competing at? 

I'm going to go back to competing at what I used to compete at - around 215lbs. I'm not going to go back to the 199lb or less. I'm going to go back to being a bit heavier. I look better at that weight. At the 2000 Night Of Champions I was 216lbs and I think I looked my best - my legs were hard.

2000 Night of Champions Results
The show was held in New York City on May 20, 2000.
1 Jay Cutler USA 7 5 7 5 24
2 Marcus Ruhl Germany 16 16 13 11 56
3 Paul Dillett Canada 8 20 21 20 69
4 Orville Burke USA 25 13 17 18 73
5 Lee Priest Australia 19 26 24 21 90
6 Pavol Jablonicky Czech 27 25 28 80
7 Melvin Anthony USA 39 37 34 110
7 Dexter Jackson USA 33 38 39 110
9 Eddie Abbew England 47 50 59 156
10 Jason Arntz USA 52 59 57 168
11 Craig Titus USA 55 60 54 169
12 J.D. Dawodu England 73 49 49 171
13 Garret Downing USA 58 56 53 177
14 Kevin English USA 64 70 72 206
15 Johnny Moya USA 78 76 73 227
16 Roland Czurlock Germany 78 77 80 235
17 Aaron Maddron USA 78 80 80 238
The following are in alphabetical order
18 David Alleyne Trinidad 80 80 80 240
18 Gustavo Badell Puerto Rico 80 80 80 240
18 Alex Barros 80 80 80 240
18 Kelvin Daniel Trinidad 80 80 80 240
18 Shaun Davis England 80 80 80 240
18 Johannes Eleftheriadis Germany 80 80 80 240
18 Ahmed Haidar Lebanon 80 80 80 240
18 Fauzi Hanst Caribbean 80 80 80 240
18 Valentin Jabes 80 80 80 240
18 Ken Jones USA 80 80 80 240
18 Berry Kabov Yugoslavia 80 80 80 240
18 Charles Kemp USA 80 80 80 240
18 Rod Ketchens USA 80 80 80 240
18 Alessandro Komadina Italy 80 80 80 240
18 Craig Licker USA 80 80 80 240
18 Christian Lobarede Chili 80 80 80 240
18 Patrick Lynn USA 80 80 80 240
18 Mike Matarazzo USA 80 80 80 240
18 Roberto Morisho Holland 80 80 80 240
18 Ntuk Ntuk Nigeria 80 80 80 240
18 Serghei Otrokh Ukraine 80 80 80 240
18 Jocelyn Pelletier Canada 80 80 80 240
18 Rodney St. Cloud USA 80 80 80 240
18 John Sherman USA 80 80 80 240
18 Jack Smith Canada 80 80 80 240
18 Sylvester Solomon USA 80 80 80 240
18 Ed Van Amsterdam Holland 80 80 80 240

I just find that the lower bodyfat I get, I don't get any leaner and my legs get softer. I just find that by going down too low my muscles just get flat.

Click here for more pictures from the 2000 NOC.

Pics of Lee Priest from the 2000 NOC courtesy of

Q. You do a lot of racing now. How is that going? 

Good, really good. My next race is in November. I have one more drag-race that I'm leading in the points. My next one is the Hangover Nationals here in Palmdale and that's a big two day event - it's a really big race. So I'll be doing that. There is an organization called SKITA. That's the one I raced in that sponsored in the last two races. I think out of a hundred racers I'm thirty-eighth in the points, just from two races.

Lee at one of his latest races.

Next year I want to plan on doing the whole 12 races, and try for Rookie Of The Year and do well in that.

Listen to Lee's comments on his racing career! (mp3 - 136k)

Q. That's a lot of racing. How do you plan on incorporating that into your lifestyle as a pro bodybuilder?

Once you train in the morning, you haven't got much else to do! At contest time it becomes much harder, because you have to diettrain twice a day and cardio twice a day. Then there is the food. I try to schedule it where a lot of the races are so that it works out pretty well.

Q. I know that you were racing stock cars back in 2001 what types of cars are you racing now? 

Right now just the dragster. Dean Holtz who runs in the elite NASCAR series teaches me up at the track at Bakersfield in the race truck.

Lee in September of 2002 with one of his race cars.

So I'm doing a bit of oval stuff to keep up on it. But I like both the dragster and the stockcar, but right now I have more opportunity to drag, so I've been doing that.

Q. If you had to make a choice between competing in racing or bodybuilding, which one would you choose, and why? 

Probably the racing. I'd keep training, but compete in the racing. I've said that I've always hated the competing side of bodybuilding, but if you want sponsors you have to compete. All of the politics involved and egos? It's not like it was back in the old days, even back in Arnold's day when bodybuilders were friends toward one another.

Now its big f^ckin egos in this sport!

We are all out to do the same thing: we all want to go into a show and do the best we can. If you win, you win. If you don't, you don't. But you get guys these days, if they don't win, its this-or-that, or its racist? Whatever!

I don't know how many times a black guy's won a bodybuilding show, but the fist time they don't win it's suddenly racist.

Back stage at some of the shows, everyone and their egos and shit like that is just crazy!

Listen to Lee's comments on racism and egos! (mp3 - 168k)

Q. I've given that a lot of thought, and the fans know how things are today. They look at the old photos of Arnold, Ed Corney, Franco Columbo, and they want it to be the way it used to be. But, as you say, the egos are out in full force. 

Yeah. The money in this sport is not that great. You see that sort of thing go on in baseball and basketball, where there is millions of dollars of contracts involved. But in our sport, there isn't enough money to get a f^ckin ego about!

Like I said too, some of those guys get egos and then the fans get turned off because they become arrogant with the fans. I've always just tried to be myself, speak my mind and I've always been nice to the fans. I'm a shy person. Sometimes people might think I'm arrogant because I don't talk much, and someone might come up to me and say hi, I say hello back. But, unless you engage me in a conversation I sometimes won't start it, just because I'm shy.

I just try to be down to earth, with some of these pros now, I get pissed off at them because its like - f^ck! - I don't want to even be considered in the same class as some these a-holes!

Listen to Lee's comments on some Pro's egos! (mp3 - 44k)

Q. Yes, I have met some pros that have the ego-thing going on. It's always refreshing when a pro is down to earth is keeps it real.

It's a strange sport when it comes to the fans - it's a sport where they love you one minute and hate you the next. Other interviews have always told about drug usage, this and that, and yet the so-called experts on the websites seem to know what I'm taking, when I'm the person taking it and I'm telling you what I'm taking, and you're going to tell me something different?

Listen to Lee's comments on steroids! (mp3 - 136k)

I always laugh at stuff like that when other people are writing that I'm the next to die and this sort of stuff - I look at it this way: I started competing in the pro ranks almost 11 years ago, and if you want to call it the "old guard" even though I'm still young, a lot of the guys I started competing with in 1992-1993 are not competing any more.

Lee pumping up and posing backstage before the 2004 San Francisco Pro.

I started competing a few shows before Ronnie, so there are not really many of the guys I started competing with back then are still competing. If you look back at some of the contest line-ups from 1993, 1994 and 1995, really only one last guard was Shawn Ray, and now he is retired.

Everyone like Milos Sarcev, Porter Cotrell, Mike Matarazzo, Vince Taylor, Kevin Levrone?

I'm still young and I'm one of the old guards who are left. There have been a lot of people come and go, and even a lot of people who turned pro in the late 90's who are not competing anymore. So for all those people who predicting my death or that I'd give up and disappear? I'm glad they aren't predicting my lotto numbers!

Q. For sure! You'd be in the poor house if that were the case! What do you attribute your longevity to? 

Well, contrary to what people believe, I've never been a big drug user, and I mainly use it come contest time. If I have to use it off-season it's only for six to eight weeks. If I get heavy and fat its because I like eating food, so if anything is going to kill me its going to be that. I pick shows I want to do and I stay healthy.

I know amateurs and some pros, right now more amateurs, who are on the shit who are on it year round. They go on it eight weeks, come off for two weeks and go back on for another eight weeks. I'm not saying steroids are going to kill you, but in the long run I can't see abusing it being good for you.

It's like any drug, you can abuse asprin, you can abuse anything and get problems. You can have one or two drinks of alcohol and be fine. You can have ten drinks and drive drunk, killing yourself and someone else.

It's like anything: If you abuse it in the long run it's going to cause problems.

People might see me and think I am unhealthy, but I have my blood checked twice a year, had things checked out, and right now everything is fine. I haven't got the high cholesterol that people think or anything else! But in this sport, if anything happens, it's always attributed to drugs.

That's one thing I've always hated about the sport: people who don't know. If you want to know anything about me, ask me and I'll tell you. But yet, even when I tell people, I get pissed off when I read the boards - I laugh at it now - because I'm telling the truth. I've got no reason to lie to you.

If I take 5000mg of testosterone a week, I will tell you: I take 5000mg of testosterone a week. I don't give a f^ck if you know what I take, because I'd rather tell you the truth of what I take than somebody else.

When I tell people the small amount, they say "Bullshit! I've heard you take this?" I say, "I'm the guy taking it, and I'm telling you what I'm taking!" It's just a frustrating part of it, because I know people who tally it in their minds saying, "If Lee is taking 2ccs of this and 2ccs of that, and I'm taking 4 of this, 5 Anadrol and taking this and that, and I'm not as big as him so he's f^ckin taking more!"

Listen to Lee's comments on drug use! (mp3 - 200k)

They don't look at the genetic side of it. I've been dieting, training and competing since I was 13 years old - that's 20 years! It's a long time. Many people who train don't get enough nutrition, and they stay out all night partying, and they wonder why they aren't growing or why they feel overtrained. If you want things to work, you've got to have it all down. You've got to have the nutrition, diet, training and rest down in order for it to work.

"You can't do something half-assed and expect great results."

Plus bodybuilding is a long term sport. Many people come into the sport and think that in a couple of years they will be as big as me and turn pro. NO! I say to them: try training for six or seven years first and then go on about it!

Q. If you could change one thing about bodybuilding, what would it be, and why? 

Only one? (laughing). I would try to make it more mainstream and accepted publicly. If you got it out there and on TV in the good light, showing what the guys go through to train, that would be great. Sometimes they put a contest on TV once in a blue moon, or other times they have a steroid issue on TV - most of what people hear is the negative side.

If you can try and show it as a healthy lifestyle which it can be - some people might say that it's not because of the drugs - but name one pro sport out there that does not use drugs? Like I said, it's the ones who abuse it that make it unhealthy. You can still do it safely if you use small amounts.

Just trying to get it more accepted and perhaps changing the contest a bit more, making it more mainstream. People out there playing darts can win $100,000. We have shows where we go in and diet our asses off, and if you win you get $10,000, after taxes you have $6000 left!

For all of the hard work you do, you can watch a guy win $1,000,000 playing golf. You would have to win the Mr. Olympia 10 years in a row to win $1,000,000!

Q. It's a labor of love! 

That's what I've said. I still love the training part of it, and I'd still train if I were working at a supermarket somewhere, but the competing gets discouraging sometimes. Sure, there is politics involved in every sport, and you wish it were fair and judged on what it should be judged on, but we've all seen shows where we've said: what the hell? (laughs)

Q. So what do you think of the idea of an athlete's union? 

I think it would be good, and we have the athletes rep. I like Shawn, but Shawn still has to look out for Shawn. He isn't competing anymore but yet he still has a good Weider contract - why is that?

There are guys out there who train their asses off that don't have a contract, and he wants a contract to do what? If you are the athlete's rep you don't have to be liked - you aren't competing anymore. What are they going to do, suspend you? You have to take the things that we complain about to them.

A good example is what happened with GNC - they got rid of the prize money. I said to Shawn, "The guys that signed on for $100,000, they should f^ckin sue them!" If you are getting ready for a show, thinking you're going to get $100,000 and they tell you four weeks out that you are only going to get $15,000 or $20,000, you'd say "WHAT?"

In any other sport or industry - wether its movies, commercials or whatever - if you sign a contract, that's what you get. I've signed contracts and have learned the consequences of not being happy with a contest, and I've had to pay a $5,000 fine. I've e-mailed Shawn and Shawn said that the guys who aren't happy can pull out - but still, the other end isn't keeping their end of the bargain. If I signed a contract and pulled out I'd get fined and suspended.

For some reason guys in this sport won't stand together. Yes, we need the IFBB because we don't have much choice to compete somewhere else unless someone starts a new federation - but the IFBB needs us too.

The Mr. Olympia doesn't excite me to compete, and that's one of the reasons why I'm not doing it - I'd rather do the Arnold Classic. It's more professionally run, it's on mainstream TV, it has Arnold's name, and it's more accepted as a show. Half of people don't know about the Mr. Olympia - its never advertised in Vegas, and it's not in the paper the next day. I see people on the street and they ask me "Are you the one in Mr. Universe?" they don't even know about the Mr. Olympia. They say that the Mr. O is the #1 show in bodybuilding, but I think the Arnold classic is right up there.

The way you are treated at the Olympia is ridiculous. They are pushing us here and there, and they come back stage, telling us to go out early without oil, telling us that we don't have time to prepare. I'm not going out there without oil on, looking half-assed - so go ahead and start the show - without us!

I guess the guys just don't want to make waves. Imagine if the Mr. Olympia is sold out, people have come from all over the world to watch it, and the athletes say, "Unless we get what we want, we aren't walking on stage tomorrow" - I bet they would come up with something pretty quickly.

Just trying to get the guys to stand together as a whole is the hard part. Someone will run back to someone and say, "Lee or this person is saying this or that, and here is what they plan on doing", and so they blackball you before you get anywhere!

Some of the things that Shawn is saying now I've been saying for years. It's like, what have you done Shawn, gone back and read some of my interviews?

Listen to Lee's comments on Shawn! (mp3 - 20k)

Lee Priest Chat Interview 
Learn More (May 17th, 2001)

There was a lot of the things that I did that people complained about, like at the Olympia when I wanted everyone to get money, and people were complaining, "Why is Lee causing trouble?" I think that if you go to the Olympia to compete, you should get money - and they eventually gave everyone who placed out of the top twelve $2000. It's not much, but at least it's something.

Craig Titus was saying, "I can't see why Lee is doing this or that, he's just causing trouble." I said that I was willing to give some of my money away, which I had no problem doing. Now Craig is saying, "We're going to get the athletes money" - it's like, where were you guys before when I wanted to do it and you were bagging me for doing it, and now all of a sudden it's the "in thing" to do?

I wanted to do things for years and no one stood behind me and supported me, they just kept their mouths shut. I've paid over $17,000 in fines and had a twelve month suspension, and I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is and stand up to something if I don't agree to it.

Q. So at least you've been consistent in wanting to get the guys together over the years? 

I started competing in the pro ranks in 1993, and I took my first $5,000 suspension in 1994, so it didn't take me long to get started! People said to me, "Lee, shut up and go by the rules, playing the game", and I said, "No. Why should I shut up? Why should we have to play their game? Why can't we work things out together so that it's not all one sided?" I'm not out to cause problems; I just want to see it fair on both sides.

Q. That's a good position. You are working with Twinlab. How does that compare to working with Prolab? 

Prolab was probably the best company I worked with. The owners John and Tom were really into bodybuilding and understood it, but when Natrol bought them out the whole thing went down pretty fast.

I left and went to work with MuscleTech, and they promised the world. When I signed the contract and did what I said I was going to, and at the end they said that they weren't going to keep their word, saying that I didn't have it in writing because they said it.

If I'm a company like Twinlab for example, and you ask me about a product, if I don't like it I will tell you up front. And, if I don't like one of their products, I will go to the company and tell them that I don't like the taste or that I don't think it works. I will ask them: can you have your people do something about it or change the mixture? I'm not going to say "take it" just because I'm with the company. I told MuscleTech that and that's the way I am.

"I didn't like half of MuscleTech's products, and I didn't use hardly any of them. People knew it."

I'd do interviews with MuscleTech and tell the truth, and when the interview came out, none of what I said was published. I asked them, "Why the f^ck did you bother to interview me?" Shit like that went on back and forth.

Listen to Lee's comments on working for MuscleTech! (mp3 - 180k)

People always ask me why I got so fat for those pictures, and I always say that I was heavy to begin with but for those pictures I really had to push it out. If they say, "Here is $10,000 look as bad as you can" I'm going to do it! (laughs). I can look heavy, push my stomach out and not shave and look like a wreck.

Lee in the off season.

People always look at those pictures and always say that they can't believe how bad I looked. I hate to break it to them, but I didn't actually look that bad! If you push out your stomach, don't shave for a while, get a bit puffy and get fluid on you, you'll look bad in no time.

Listen to Lee's comments about eating! (mp3 - 24k)

When it came to dieting, I never used their product to diet down.

I just did what I normally do: I do the hard training for two and a half hours a day. When I train I still do it for two and a half hours a day - even for biceps and triceps. People always tell me that you can't train that way, but people are always looking for the quick fix. Back in the old days Arnold who had thick quality muscle trained for two hours at a time, and often trained chest twice a day. With all of these recovery supplements today, you should be able to train each body part every f^ckin day!

A lot of pros that I've seen used to be hard and ripped. But once they get here they become lazy and think that they have it made. They think that they don't have to work as hard as they used to.

I stick to the basics, and people ask me why I don't just take some growth hormone, but nothing is going to work like hard work. I'd rather do the extra work so that come dieting time I can eat a bit more when I am hungry.

Q. You've taken some criticism on the message boards for not getting involved in arguments and debates. What is your take on the message boards? 

I think they are a good idea and a good way for people to get answers to questions and questions in general. When I do go on the boards to answer questions people tell me that I'm lying and not telling the truth a lot of the time.

We are in a sport where we are judged on our physiques, and that's fine. But you have a guy who can be a top pro in the world and having him being torn to shreds by these guys that sit behind their computer. I think these people should post their pictures. Maybe some of them look okay, and I'm sure some do, but if they are going to tear us down they should let us see their pictures.

"Sometimes now I will just post something on a web board and wait for the responses! I get entertained by what people do!"

In no other sport have I seen the fans get so involved in the sport, and yet tear down the athletes. In football and baseball they are all heroes, and some of them might mess up a play occasionally, but in bodybuilding if you do one thing wrong they tear you to shreds and if you come in out of shape you look like crap and you are washed up! You can't win, so it has gotten to the point where I get amused.

I had a guy come up to me once in the gym when I'm training arms and tell me that I should do curls this way. I looked at his arms and they were about fifteen inches. That would be like me walking up to Tom Platz and telling him how to squat! Sometimes now I will just post something on a web board and wait for the responses! I get entertained by what people do!

[ Check Out The Message Boards ]
The most popular and biggest bodybuilding message boards on the Internet.

Q. What is your wife Cathy up to? Does she plan to compete this year? 

She wants to go back to bodybuilding. If she does a show it might be the Arnold classic. She's not really sure, but she was thinking of doing the figure contest. I think she will go back to the bodybuilding.

Q. The views of the IFBB Pro Undercover are well known when it comes to the fitness division. What is your take on the figure contests? 

At least with the fitness they have to do a routine and some strength moves. With the figure contest you could go into any top of the line strip club, find a girl who hasn't trained a day in her life, and she could go into the show and win.

Sure there are some figure girls out there who do train, but you could go to any beach somewhere and see twenty hot figure girls who could go on stage and turn professional.

That money should be going to the fitness and bodybuilding divisions. Look at the crappy money that women's bodybuilding gets!

With women's bodybuilding you have friends, family and fans who respect what goes into it. But look at the way that figure is promoted: The mainstream can accept it more because they just look like girls in bikinis. I don't want to say T & A, but you pretty much have every guy in there looking at tits and ass!

Listen to Lee's comments about the IFBB! (mp3 - 32k)

Q. Returning to the subject of your racing, is the thrill of racing a car the same as the thrill of competing in front of your many fans? 

I think its probably hard to say - its like the thrill without all of what you have to go through. You are still racing and you have to be on your game and you have to know the car, so there is a lot to think about, but I've always liked new challenges, so it's something new. I like having challenges like racing.

If I never win another bodybuilding show again it won't bother me, so long as I do my best, come in looking good, and make my fans happy.

Lee with his racing partner.

But with the racing, its much more technical - the reaction times, etc. It makes me want to try to win some of these races. I want to compete in bodybuilding, and if I win that's great, if not, OK. But with racing there are no judges: if you win it, you win it.

With bodybuilding, as long as I know that I've come in as the best I can be, that I did my diet right, and I did my training right, I'm happy. If I place lower than I think I should, then I will go into the next show and I might place higher. It depends on how you look on the day, how everyone else looks and what the judges feel like. On any given day any pro can win a show.

Q. What upcoming bodybuilder do you think the other pros should watch out for? 

Dexter is on a role right now, and Ahmad Haider comes in sometimes looking great. Johnnie Jackson can come in looking good. If Chris can nail it he can come in the top two every time. Jay is getting a lot of coverage this year, but at the Arnold Classic I think Chris should have beaten him hands down.

Q. Your top four for this year's Mr. O, and why?

Ronnie, obviously, because he is Mr. Olympia. If he comes in shredded as he normally does then no one will touch him. But as I said, with politics, anything can happen.

Between Jay, Chris and Dexter, it could go any way. If I had to choose, it would be Ronnie first and the other three in any order. On any given day, who the hell knows!

More Pics:

New Pics - August 2005: