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Interview w/ Ian Harrison


Active member
Kilo Klub Member
Jun 5, 2002
A lot of things I get to do with this job get me jazzed, but I was particularly excited to do this interview. You see, I've talk to several pro bodybuilders that will answer my questions off the record. However, as soon as you want them to go on record, the lies come fast and furious. I had been told that Ian was willing to talk about anything, and that I wasn't going to get the typical runaround. I wasn't disappointed.

Hopefully you've all seen pictures of Ian in the magazines or on the web. He hasn't competed since the '98 Arnold's Classic, but he was freaky huge, and plans to be that way again. If anyone can do it, Ian can. God help the IFBB when he makes his return to competition. Let's begin.

AE: So, how have you been keeping yourself busy since you last stepped onstage at the '98 Arnold's Classic?

IAN: Let me think, where do I start? First, well the first thing I did was set-up and equipment manufacturing business. I manufacture my own gym equipment and I've been trying to set it up for the past year. It's just starting to go now.

AE: Is that going to be sold in the UK only, or is that going to be sold in the States as well?

IAN: UK at the moment only, you never know what's going to happen. There's a lot of people manufacturing gym equipment. If things take off, then yeah, I'll manufacture and sell in the States. Basically, I've always used different types of equipment and I'm impressed with a lot of the stuff, but I also think every piece of equipment can be improved on. So, I've got the basic principals from all of the other types of equipment that are available, I've just played with the angles a bit and adjusted them, I've spent a lot of time just changing each piece and trying to make the whole lot better for bodybuilders. I think if it's better for bodybuilders, it's better for everybody, because the angles are better, they sort of stop you cheating as much, so I've been putting a lot of effort into that…..and also I've started wrestling, I know it sounds daft, but I've been all over the Island, Whales, Scotland, learning wrestling really. So, I've been very busy with that over the last three or four months.

AE: Is that something you plan on pursuing in the future?

IAN: I don't know, I really don't know. At the moment, the way I feel about the whole bodybuilding thing and the whole wresting things is, if wrestling takes off, and I get really good at it, then yeah, it might take me off down another road. But deep down I'm a bodybuilder, and I always see myself being a bodybuilder….and I've got unfinished business.

AE: Well, you know the opportunities for wresting over here in the States, with the WWF and WCW, are absolutely phenomenal.

IAN: I know, I know. I want to be in the States. I honestly feel I can walk in, I mean, in the off season I can walk around at like 22-23 stone (308-322 lbs!) and be in condition. I don't feel like I've ever competed and got it right, I've never walked onstage and go me condition and me size (Remember, Ian's from England!) perfect, I've never done it once.

AE: You were one of the first guys in the sport to compete at the bodyweights we see pros competing at now. I remember seeing you at the San Jose in '95 and you were on that day, you looked great. You are one of the bigger guys in the sport, your physique has a ton of potential, you know, one of the things I liked about the video (Referring to the seminar video he made with Paul Borreson) was the fact that you said you were going to make a comeback.

IAN: Oh yeah, I will definitely compete again, there's no two ways about that. I'll be honest with you, one of the main reasons I decided to step out of bodybuilding was that the politics were getting me down. When you get ready for a show it affects your family. You've got to be so self-centered and so into what your what doing that me wife was suffering and me daughter was suffering, and if your not getting the rewards at the end of it, it's like a real kick in the nuts. You can only take so many kicks in the nuts before you want to turn away and rub 'them for a while if you get me drift (laughing). I just got fed up with the whole political side of it because even though I never competed at me best, I still felt at 80% of me best I was still better than a lot of the guys that were beating me.

AE: I would say there were a lot of times that you got hosed in placings.

IAN: I don't think it's just me, especially some of the people like Aaron Baker, I think he got shafted so many times. I'm certainly not the only got in the sport that was being shafted. But you know, it's like, why am I doing this, why am I putting all of this money, effort, and heartache into competing and doing something I love, when you look back on the show and your only a number.

AE: When you look back on that and tell me you never got any of the political breaks, was their any reason why that was happening?

IAN: Uhmm. (considering answer)

AE: Was there any bad blood between you and anybody in the IFBB?

IAN: No, not really, I mean I never fell out with anybody. I never kissed anybody's ass either. Whether that's required or not…..

AE: Do you think that's necessary?

IAN: I don't know, I mean with some people it probably is. With other bodybuilders it's probably that they're in the right place at the right time. I think a lot of it, to be honest with you, was down to the fact that they didn't want another English white bodybuilder up there. I know that might sound really, really political but that's honestly how I felt. I don't think Charles Clairemont ever got a lot of his just rewards, even though Charlie got a lot better placings than I did, he was also a bigger name before he got into the IFBB from winning all the NABBA shows, you know the pro NABBA Universe and stuff. But I really don't think they wanted another English guy up there, plus I was very young, and they could see a lot of mileage in me. You know? They knew I was like, when I first started competing as a pro I was like 24, 25. I got my pro card when I was still a junior when I was 20, and I took four years off before I did my first pro show. I think Wayne DeMelia and several of the other powers that be saw that there was an awful lot of mileage in me and that I would be around for a lot longer. I think they also realized that I hadn't reached me potential, which I never did, I never reached my potential. That's really why I want to compete again, because in my mind, there's unfinished business.

AE: Ian, how old are you now?

IAN: I'm 30, so yeah, so I've still got eight years on people like Flex and Dorian. I know Dorians retired but that's due to injury. I feel I'll hit my peak between 35 and 40, that's when I'll be at my best. That's why I decided to take my break now. I last competed in '98. I feel I'll be competing again in 2001. The first shows in 2001 I'll be ready. This time next year I'll be about 320-330 and looking at getting myself ready for a contest.

AE: That's pretty damn big! That's a good segue into the next question. You were one of the competitors that ushered in the new era of mass and freakiness that we now see on stage. What are your thoughts on the direction bodybuilding is currently headed?

IAN: Hmmmm. I think it's inevitable that bodybuilding is going to grow off in sort of different vogues and different styles. The only thing that sort of pisses me off is that Nasser never got a shout. You know? In my opinion, Nasser doesn't have the best genetics in the world, but neither did Dorian. When Dorian started winning his first Mr. Olympia's, he was winning the Olympia's because he was the biggest, freakiest man anybody had ever seen. Now, if we carried on with this same judging criteria, why didn't Nasser take over from Dorian? Now, I don't disagree with Ronnie Coleman, I'm so pleased for Ronnie because as I was competing as a pro, I was always sort of hanging about Ronnie and all the guys like Ronnie and stuff were getting 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, they were getting all of these low placings. I think it's great that someone like Ronnie Coleman who's been in the sport for a long time and didn't come in and start winning shows, he started from the bottom and worked his way up. It was hard a few years ago because when Lee Haney first came in he got second in his first Olympia, or something like that, and won every one after that. Dorian did the same. It was almost, if you didn't get second in your first Olympia then win it the year after, you were never going to win it. But now that's gone out the window. Basically there's hope for everybody who's placed low or made mistakes that you can carry on and get better and eventually you will get your just rewards. I like Ronnie's physique, he's freaky big and to me that's what bodybuilding is about, but he's also got tons of shape to go with it. Ronnie's got both of those things. Did you go to the Olympia?

For the next few minutes Ian and I discussed the Olympia and what I observed at the show.

AE: I know bodybuilding is just like any other sport and it's always bigger, faster, better and everything has to make progression. But do you guys as a group ever just say, "This is fucking crazy" with everything you have to do to compete in the sport? Do you ever say that to yourself?

IAN: Hmmm, you mean to the bodybuilders or personally, to myself?

AE: Amongst yourselves and personally.

IAN: Personally I do, yeah. Actually that's one of the reasons why….there were a lot of reasons why I decided to take a break from the sport, but it scared me what I might be doing to myself. You know, the things I had to use in order to compete against the other guys, I mean, you don't know what you're doing to yourself, you really don't. You can have all the medicals and blood tests you want but you really don't know what's going to happen next. I think the thing is, you know, you've seen people like Rich Gaspari and how he was so great for so many years and then suddenly his body seemed to age, and I think you can burn out really easy. You know, I don't think guys can continually compete at the top level taking what they need to take to compete without burning your body out.

AE: I think that's true now, I think it's gotten to the point where it's so intense and so much is required to compete at that level that guys don't have the same longevity that they once had in the sport.

IAN: Exactly.

AE: I was surprised that Dorian was able to compete at the top for as many years as he did.

IAN: Yes, exactly put. Now the reason he had to retire is that his body basically couldn't take anymore. Now that's probably the main reason why I've taken the time out, cause I know I have nowhere reached me genetic potential and I probably wouldn't get the muscle maturity I needed until my mid-30's. I figured that if I kept hammering away at the pro-scene sort of between '98 right up until I was 35-36, I don't know if me body would take anymore. So, I had to step aside and let me body recoup and, basically I haven't taken anything in two years, not anything, not a thing.

AE: What are you weighing right now?

IAN: I'm 19 stone, which is about 265-270 lb.

AE: What bodyfat percentage would you estimate you're at?

IAN: Probably about 10%, just normal average off-season bodyfat. Not super lean but not carrying excess either. I don't really put bodyfat on easily anyway. When I first started bodybuilding I was like 9 stone, which is like 130 lb. I'm not exactly a fat person anyway, I'm actually thin, so whenever I stop anything I just get leaner. Me training is still the same, I don't train any different, I'm just not taking the drugs I needed to take when I was competing. So that's the main thing.

AE: So basically you're shooting for a comeback show early 2001?

IAN: Yeah, I think so, it will probably be the Arnold Classic, it's my favorite show. In my opinion if you can place top 5 in the Arnold Classic you can place top 5 in the Mr. Olympia. But I have no intention in placing in the top 5, I intend to win it.

AE: So your first show back will definitely be the Arnold's Classic?

IAN: Yeah, I'd like to do it, that's if I can get an invite. You've got to be invited by Wayne DeMelia and Jim Lorimer to compete in that show, so if my names still worth anything and they think I'll be a good attribute to the show then hopefully I'll get an invite. If they won't give me an invite, I'll have to do something like the Night of Champions or one of the smaller shows, but to be honest with you, I really don't want to compete in New York ever again.

AE: Why's that?

IAN: I've had some bad experiences in New York. It's bad luck for me.

AE: I've never been so I couldn't comment on New York.

IAN: I don't want to go again, ever!

AE: We've seen a lot of huge competitors coming out of England, yourself, Dorian, Eddie Ellwood. I know Dorian's often said he feels American bodybuilders are lazy and don't train properly. Do you share his opinion and think the massive size seen on some English bodybuilders is a result of a stronger work ethic in the gym?

IAN: I think it's a combination of a few things. I don't ever think you can categorize a whole country, a whole nation and say that they're all lazy. You can't do that. You're upbringing comes into that, where you were brought up, how you were brought up. So, I don't think you can say all American bodybuilders are lazy. A lot of American bodybuilders do train in a lazy fashion. But I think a lot of that depends on how they were brought into the sport, and I think a lot of them have such ridiculously good genetics that they maybe don't have to train as hard. But I also think a lot of it comes down to the diet aspect. I mean, I know for a fact that most European bodybuilders, and Australian bodybuilders seem to have the same sort of mental attitude towards bodybuilding. They train very, very hard. But they also eat enormous amounts of food. They don't care what they look like in the off season. Whereas in my opinion, American bodybuilders want to have abs and look good year round. Now European bodybuilders don't give a shit. European bodybuilders just get as freaky as they possibly can. And as long as they get it right for the day of the show, they don't care.

AE: So you guys are all just running around like Lee Priest in the off season?

IAN: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. You know in the off season, I'll eat like 3 liters of ice cream a day. I just eat everything. If I can eat it without spewing it back up, I'll eat it. The more food I can eat, the bigger I can get.

AE: (Me laughing) I had to laugh when you told that story in that seminar video, eating those things, then you threw them up, dusted them off, and ate them again.

I'm referring to Ian's videotape with Paul Borreson where he related a story from his younger days as a bodybuilder. Having eaten about 30 desiccated liver tablets, he suddenly got sick and projectile vomited them across the room. He proceeded to wash them off and swallowed them again since he had no more in the house.

IAN: That's the sort of mentality I think you've got to have in order to be successful, you've got to be able to take things to the extreme.

AE: At the level your trying to aspire to, you definitely have to. It's all or nothing. You can't half-ass it and hope that you're going to place well.

IAN: Exactly. If you want to compete in the Olympia, and compete against the sort of guys that are around now, you can't just say I'll eat when I'm hungry, I'll just eat this, or I'm full, I can't eat that. You've got to just eat it. You're not eating cause you like it, you're eating to grow. I just think it's a different mentality. American bodybuilders are constantly worried about how they look, are constantly wanting to be in shape or in reasonable shape. But European bodybuilders just want to get as big as possible. I think that's the difference. The American magazines like Flex and Muscle and Fitness, they tell everybody so much……bullshit really. All these years people have said top competitive bodybuilders stay within 10 lbs of contest weight. Well that's a load of shit. You know, I mean I believed it until the first time I came over to Gold's Gym in California. I saw Gary Strydom the day after the Olympia in 1988, I came out about again four months later and he was about 100 lbs heavier. It was like, these guys don't stay within 10 lbs of contest weight. I think the magazines mislead a lot of people.

AE: Well, I believe that myself. Like you as a kid growing up, I bought into all the bullshit and would go out and buy Flex and Muscle and Fitness. You know, when I did finally make my way down to Venice and saw the reality of the situation, it's kind of like an eye-opener you know?

IAN: Yeah definitely. It's quite disappointing actually sometimes because those guys are not exactly what you imagined them to be. They're not these…..you know the only reason why I buy magazines now is for the pictures. I don't read anything because any information I need to get, I get from other sources, I don't get it from magazines. I basically look at the pictures for inspiration, it gets me fired up, the guys always look better in the magazines then they do up close.

AE: What's an average day consist of for Ian Harrison?

IAN: When I'm competing as a bodybuilder or at the moment?

AE: At the moment.

IAN: At the moment, every day is different. I try and get me food in every three to four hours and maintain as much mass as I can. Me training is pretty consistent, I train four days a week, each bodypart once a week. Really every day is different because I've got so many different business things going on. I could be wrestling for five days, then I could be sitting installing a gym for another three days, then I'll be at home for four days, it really is hit and miss at the moment.

AE: We've all read the magazines and interviews detailing the pristine diets of bodybuilders, both off season and precontest. Obviously that's bullshit. How is someone like yourself eating in the off season and how is someone like yourself eating precontest?

IAN: Off season is very, very simple and basic. I try to get 50 g of good quality protein in me body at least every three hours. That's off season so that I've got a life. If I tried to have the perfect scenario, I would have about 25 g of protein every hour. That would be the perfect scenario but in the off season normally I would have about 50 g of protein every three hours, usually consisting of protein drinks because they're more convenient. I would probably start the day of with eggs, eight eggs. Then me next four meals would be protein drinks every three hours. Then I would have me evening meal before I trained, then I'd finish me workout, have another protein drink, then me last meal of the evening would be mainly…..pizza or Chinese (laughing).

AE: When you say protein drink, your not just talking about protein by itself, right? Are you taking a weight gain powder along with the protein?

IAN: No, just protein. Yeah, I just have protein by itself, because basically I eat an awful low of shit. The way I look at me diet off season is, as long as I'm giving me body the protein it needs every three hours to gain muscle, anything else I want to eat is a bonus. So I will literally eat anything.

AE: How many calories would you estimate you are consuming in the off season per day?

IAN: Probably about 7,000-8,000. I'll eat fast food and everything.

AE: You know, I haven't used myself for over a year, but back when I used to train and was involved pretty heavily, we'd go to the gym and be eating fast food in the gym, because that was the only way to put on size.

IAN: That's one thing that used to freak me out when I first came to the States and got involved with American bodybuilders, I couldn't believe they used to eat egg whites for breakfast and boiled rice, and it's like, why are you throwing yolks away, there's like this protein and if there's fat I'll eat it, I don't care. You know? I just eat everything basically. As long as me proteins in there, I will eat as much food as humanly possible. I'm big on chocolate and ice cream, I'm big on McDonalds and burgers, I eat pizzas, I eat everything. As long as me bodyfat don't get out of control, it don't bother me.

AE: This is what I used to do, and I'm always curious if guys at your level have to do this too. I would eat like shit and I got fairly damn big, I was 300+ lbs and fairly lean, but you know, it was a situation where I would force myself to eat every 2 1/2 - 3 hours but I was never hungry and I was just cramming shit down my throat.

IAN: Yep, you've got to force feed yourself.

AE: It that how it is for you? I mean, you're not hungry when you're eating, right?

IAN: No, not at all. I could go…I mean literally, the first six months that I stopped…that I decided I didn't want to compete again, I bet you I only ate one meal a day because I was rebelling against it. I mean since I was 15 I force fed myself constantly, and you get to hate the idea of eating. It's only in the last 6-8 months that I've started to enjoy me food again. You know? But definitely, every meal that was put in front of me, I didn't want it. The only time I get hungry is when I diet for a show, pre-contest, because you clean everything up so much.

AE: What are you eating pre-contest?

IAN: Pre-contest. Basically I'd start of for the first six weeks, I'd just start cutting out all the crap, I'd cut out me fatty foods, I'd cut out me chocolates, and just by doing that alone I'd lose 20 lb of bodyfat. When I got down to that point, then I'd start counting me calories. Basically me diet would consist of about 6 ounces of oatmeal with about 12-14 egg whites and maybe two yolks. That would be me first meal. Three hours later would be a protein drink with maybe a small baked potato. Three hours later would probably be 8-10 ounces of chicken breast with boiled rice and broccoli. Three hours later would be a protein drink by itself. Three hours after that would be me pre-workout meal, which would consist of potatoes, broccoli, and some kind of red meat. I would say after I trained I would have a protein drink, and then I would come home and have my…. At this point Ian's wife is heard in the background, telling him what he would eat pre-contest….yeah, me wife used to make most of me meals, so she knows better than I do (laughing).

AE: Thank God for that!

IAN: Pardon?

AE: I said thank God for that, that's nice to have!

IAN: Yeah! I use to have oatmeal, about six ounces of oatmeal, about 12-14 egg whites with strawberries in it. Then my very last meal would be just egg whites by themselves, or just chicken by itself, just protein to go to bed on.

AE: Jesus! Thank God she's cooking for you.

IAN: Yeah.

AE: Are there any supplements you consider essential to your success as a bodybuilder?

IAN: Good quality protein powders and aminos, that's it.

AE: You know, Trevor (Trevor Smith from Biohazard USA) had told me about Ravager 5. Do you feel that had any kind of special properties as far as a protein is concerned?

IAN: The original Ravager 5?

AE: Yes.

IAN: Yes I do, because it helped me maintain a hell of a lot of muscle when I really wasn't being very active in the gym. To be honest with you, I really wasn't eating any food at all, I was living on protein drinks, I had no time to prepare meals. So, as a non-bodybuilder I can say yes, as a competing bodybuilder I can't really comment because I've never used it for a show. The theory behind it is sound. A lot of the things that Paul says, if you actually look at it, are right, and I've seen a lot of people gain a lot of muscle off of it. But the quality of the stuff that's being knocked out at the moment over here…..

AE: Crap?

IAN: Yeah, I think so. I can't say that for definite because I haven't analyzed it or anything, but just by looking at it I'm not stupid and I can tell. You can taste what's in things.

AE: Last issue you touched briefly on your theory of anabolic use, stating that you didn't agree with the excessive dosages advocated by Paul Borreson. You're obviously in a position to know what happens at the professional level. Realistically, what is required for a pro to compete nowadays?
AE: Last issue you touched briefly on your theory of anabolic use, stating that you didn't agree with the excessive dosages advocated by Paul Borreson. You're obviously in a position to know what happens at the professional level. Realistically, what is required for a pro to compete nowadays?

IAN: I think people, I really, really honestly do, I mean Paul Borreson stated that Lee Preist took 2000 mg a day and Jean-Pierre Fux took this and that, you really cannot say what anybody takes, because only the person who's self-administering can say that. Most of the guys will not really discuss dosages, it's not really a talked about subject. We talk about how we stack things and things like that. But I think everybody is so different you can't really say what works for Nasser or what works for Ronnie Coleman will definitely work for me. I really don't think everybody is the same. I can tell you exactly how I've used gear for the last four years, it's never varied. I've always done six-week cycles, I've always androgen loaded for two weeks, and then used a fast-acting androgen for the last four weeks. Then I've got three weeks to clean out.

AE: So, do most guys cycle, or are most guys constantly on?

IAN: I think it depends what situation they're in, if they're guest posing on a regular basis and they're in the limelight and they've got to be seen by people and they've got business commitments as far as bodybuilding, guest posing, and seminars go, I would probably say they very rarely come off. If they're able to leave the limelight, if for instance, if they're the sort of guys like Nasser or some of the European guys who maybe leave America, or just go in hiding for a couple of months, I think 9 times out of 10 you can guarantee that those guys are the guys who are taking time off to recover and get their bodies right again for the next course. Like I said, you can never really say what anybody does, but just knowing personally the people in the sport…..you can tell, I mean you go to Gold's certain times of the year when people aren't competing and you can look at certain guys and they look really, really small. They're not necessarily taking a break, they're being intelligent. It doesn't get them any good press from the general public who's seen them looking small, but they don't really give a shit because they know once they start back on the gear and start training properly and eating properly, they're going to be back exactly where they were before, and even better. The guys who want to look good all the time end up being on gear all the time and end up burning themselves out that much quicker.

AE: We've talked about this on the site before, but you've got all of these people who claim to know what the pro bodybuilders take, and it's like, how do you know? They're not with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so how do they possibly know? The other thing is, most of those guys would never be honest about their use anyway. Why are they going to be honest with someone about what they take?

IAN: They never will. I've seen a lot of this, right. You'll get a normal guy, we'll guy him a punter, you? A normal punter will come in and ask you what you use. And some of the guys will deny using anything. Some of the other guys who've got more of a sense of humor will come out with these ridiculously huge dosages, just to shock the people. And the people really think they are being serious. You really do it as a joke. I remember being told a story years ago about John Brown. I don't know a John Brown but apparently it was set in a Cinema-Q, this guy walks up to him and says, "Do you use anabolic steroids?" So John Brown turns around and says, "Do you masturbate?" I mean, it's a personal question, mind your own business. At the end of the day it's got nothing to with anybody else. I think bodybuilders should be open about things, which they never have been. In years past when American bodybuilders would come to England to do seminars, they would actually deny using steroids at all. Well, the English people aren't stupid, English bodybuilders aren't daft. They would just get up and walk out. I just don't see any point in lying to anybody or giving anybody false truths. At the end of the day, all the guys who are going to use gear are going to use it anyway, and if you can use it without hurting yourself, it's much better for everybody. Then it comes down to the man who's willing to work hardest in the gym, and be more dedicated with his training, eating and sleeping.

AE: Yes, all steroids are doing is leveling out the playing field.

IAN: Exactly, Exactly.

AE: Everybody is doing it, everybody has to do it. The thing that bothers me about bodybuilding and the whole steroid issue is that people outside of the sport think that bodybuilders look that way totally because of steroids, they don't see what else goes into achieving that kind of cosmetic effect.

IAN: Yes, and the athletes who compete in the Olympics don't use them.

AE: Yes, (laughing) and football players in the NFL….the average weight of linemen has increased by 40 lbs in the last thirty years simply because of what reason? It's kind of ridiculous, but people don't want to accept that.

IAN: Exactly, because it's a more publicly accepted sport.

AE: What kind of total gram dosages are you using per week when you're doing your androgen loading?

IAN: During androgen loading, me maximum would be 4 sostenon a week and 4 dura's a week, so that's 8, probably about 2000 mg a week for the loading phase, then I'd be looking at 100 mg of propionate every other day. If I got close to a show, I'd probably increase that slightly to 100 mg a day to make sure I didn't lose any mass while calories are restricted. I think people assume that pro bodybuilders take more dosages than normal bodybuilders and I really don't think that's the case. From the guys who I've talked to on a personal level, they don't use huge amounts. They really don't. The one thing they do differently than other bodybuilders is they eat religiously, perfect all the time. I don't mean perfect as in clean food, I mean perfect as in amounts of food.

AE: I think food is your best anabolic.

IAN: (Very excited) Oh without a doubt, without a doubt. I've seen guys take 3-4 times the dosages I've taken, but I've put on maybe 20 lbs more muscle because I've eaten correctly. I really think training is a big thing, but I don't think it's the main thing. I think the eating and the sleeping are the two main things in bodybuilding.

AE: What is your opinion of GH?

IAN: I think growth hormone is fantastic, but I don't believe in the huge dosages. When I first started using GH which was the first year I did the English Grand Prix which was….(asks wife what year he did the English Grand Prix)….I was 24 years old the first time I took GH, which was 1993. I was using 4 iu's on training days only, which was 4 iu's four days a week. It freaked me out, I put 2 lbs a day on for 9 days.

AE: 2 lbs a day?

IAN: Yes, and this was six weeks out from my first pro show. It freaked me out.

AE: This was six weeks out so you're on caloric restriction at this point, right?

IAN: Very much so. My physique changed overnight, I couldn't believe what was happening.

AE: I personally have never used growth. I've got a prescription for it, waiting for it to get filled, but I've never tried it before.

IAN: Use it man, use it!

AE: (Laughing) Some people say it's not that great for mass, it's only good for its lipotropic properties. Your saying it's a great mass builder, huh?

IAN: I believe it's a great mass builder, but only under the right conditions. I've tried to use it in the off-season once, and it didn't do anything for me at all. It didn't work for me, I couldn't eat enough calories to sustain the GH. It sounds very contradictory, I was using it on a calorie restricted diet and I gained a lot of weight, but the thing is, I had been in such great condition for 4 weeks prior to using the growth, and my digestive system was so efficient because my intake of fats so low, I was hungry literally within 30-40 minutes of my last meal. I was digesting food at a rapid rate. If your fat intake is higher, you digest food much slower. I don't honestly feel that growth hormone works when you've got a high fat intake, I think it only works when your protein is very high. You know it's very effective on a pre-contest diet where your metabolism is working at a very good rate and you're digesting food very quickly.

AE: When you're taking the growth, are you using it with insulin?

IAN: I used insulin from 97-98. I don't like it, I think it's vastly overrated.

AE: How many iu's were you using a day?

IAN: 10 iu's after training. I didn't like it, I went hypo a couple of times on it, scared my wife to death. I don't think I'll be using insulin again. You've got to evaluate the pros and cons of taking anything. If it gives you a 10% increase in your physique, is it worth the downsides to it? I've seen a lot of guys mess up on insulin, a lot of guys. I think maybe in the off-season it can be of benefit, but I certainly wouldn't use it for a show. I would probably say from my own experience that I would use GH when I'm on sort of a pre-contest diet and in the off-season I would use insulin. GH doesn't work for me effectively in the off-season so I would use insulin, but only in small amounts. I don't advocate the huge amounts that some people claim, and I don't think you should stay on it long-term either. I would maybe use it for 4 weeks of my 6 week cycle and then again after my three weeks clean.

AE: Question of the day: IGF-1.

IAN: Crap. I've used it once, I got no results whatsoever. I thought maybe what I used wasn't IGF-1, but I tracked it down and found out that it was. Maybe when I transported it, it didn't transport well or I don't know. But from my experience, I've used it once and it didn't do anything for me whatsoever. However, I have heard some amazing stories about it.

AE: Yes, I've never personally talked to anyone who's every gotten anything out of it, yet I always hear these stories about how so-and-so has taken it and put on all of this weight. Everyone I've talked to who's really tried it doesn't get shit out of it.

IAN: You know I really think the people who have taken IGF-1 and grown were not really taking IGF-1, they were taking growth hormone. We all know that GH works, but I've never seen any proof that IGF-1 is stable enough to be used, and be used in a way that you can gain huge amounts of mass. I can't see it happening. But, I'm not a doctor and I don't know everything, this is just from my personal experience. I'd say IGF-1 is a no-go at the moment, in another 3 or 4 years they might bring out another version of IGF that can be used more readily in the body and people will gain huge amounts of muscle. But, the stuff I've been offered and the stuff I've used before definitely didn't work.

AE: Unfortunately, anecdotal reports and personal experience is all we have to go by, there's not too many doctors running around shooting bodybuilders full of IGF-1 to see what happens

IAN: That's true!

AE: In the video of your seminar, you advocate pre-exhaustion training. Why do you feel this type of training is so effective?

IAN: Basically, I stumbled across pre-exhaustion training at the age of 17 when I shattered both of my knees. I injured both of my knees very badly squatting heavy at a young age. I was squatting like 620 for 12 reps at the age of 17. I ended up shattering both my knees and I had to find away around training my legs so I didn't put stress on the joint. That's how I stumbled across pre-exhaustion training. For 4 years I did leg extensions first, very, very high repetitions to warm the knee-joint up. I then finish up with one compound movement like hack squats or leg press, very high reps again. I just found that by doing that, I was able to take the muscle to failure without putting the weight stress on the joint. So by pre-exhausting, your taking the muscle to failure, then going to a compound movement, and your able to take the muscle past the failure you normally would achieve on that movement, but you not putting the stress on the joints because you don't have the huge weights. That really came by accident by being injured but then as I started competing as junior and got me pro card, I started realizing that my quads were one of me best bodyparts, everybody used to freak out about me quads. So, I started using the principal on my other bodyparts and they started coming up, honestly it's only been like '96-'97 that I started incorporating that style of training into my upper body movements.
Issue #13
Ian Harrison Interview Part III
By Jason Meuller

AE: In the video of your seminar, you advocate pre-exhaustion training. Why do you feel this type of training is so effective?

IAN: Basically, I stumbled across pre-exhaustion training at the age of 17 when I shattered both of my knees. I injured both of my knees very badly squatting heavy at a young age. I was squatting like 620 for 12 reps at the age of 17. I ended up shattering both my knees and I had to find away around training my legs so I didn't put stress on the joint. That's how I stumbled across pre-exhaustion training. For 4 years I did leg extensions first, very, very high repetitions to warm the knee-joint up. I then finish up with one compound movement like hack squats or leg press, very high reps again. I just found that by doing that, I was able to take the muscle to failure without putting the weight stress on the joint. So by pre-exhausting, your taking the muscle to failure, then going to a compound movement, and your able to take the muscle past the failure you normally would achieve on that movement, but you not putting the stress on the joints because you don't have the huge weights. That really came by accident by being injured but then as I started competing as junior and got me pro card, I started realizing that my quads were one of me best body parts, everybody used to freak out about me quads. So, I started using the principal on my other body parts and they started coming up, honestly it's only been like '96-'97 that I started incorporating that style of training into my upper body movements. That's when I started making drastic gains. Before I started dieting for the '93 Arnold Classic, I was up to 23 stone (about 322 lbs!). I was 23 stone and ended up competing at around 18 stone, I obviously lost a lot of muscle during my diet. I feel if I hadn't gone on such a drastic diet, I could have stepped on stage at around 21 stone (293 lbs!) which would have been the biggest man on stage that year. That weight-gain all came down to using pre-exhaustion training. It's a very intense form of training, because you're doing 3-4 sets within one set, doing a lot of triple drop sets and quadruple drop sets, your isolation movement before your compound movement, your taking the muscle past the point where you would normally take it. Let's say for instance you're training legs and you start with leg press or squats. 9 times out of 10 with big guys who are very heavy and lifting lots of weight, it's not your legs that give out first, it's your lungs. If you pre-exhaust first, your lungs are nowhere near failure, but your legs are because they're already tired.

AE: I'd have to totally agree with you. If you've ever taken a look at the AE site, you'll see that the training articles are written about a philosophy very similar to what you've just described. I find that you've got a lot of people in the gyms that are lifting with their egos and not with their head. That is, they could go in the gym and train smarter, using less weight and risking less injury, and make better gains.

IAN: The thing I've found that your body adapts to pre-exhaustion training and you can actually become stronger than you were before. When I first started training that way with different body parts, I did have to use lighter weights. But within 3,4,5 months, I found that I was able to use the maximum weights I had used before at the end of my pre-exhaustion workouts. So technically I became a lot stronger.

AE: I remember watching the tape of the seminar you did with Paul Borreson and you we're talking about how you used the 200 lb dumbbells for shoulder presses. You went on to say that when you started pre-exhaustion training you couldn't use that much weight but quickly worked your way back up to them.

IAN: Yes, within 5 months I was using 200 lbs for like 14 reps.

AE: That is unbelievable.

IAN: I've actually had some new dumbbells made for my comeback. They're 242 lbs.

AE: You're going to be the only guy touching those.

IAN: As soon as I do, I'll send you a photo of my using them.

AE: Sounds good. You're obviously one of the stronger pro bodybuilders, what are some of your best lifts?

IAN: As we've discussed, I've used the 200 lb dumbbells for shoulder presses but could have gone heavier. I think the sickest thing ever is a photo shoot I did with Nasser for Flex. We got the 200 lb dumbbells out for Chris Lund. We passed them to Nasser and he did one rep and had to put them down. I'm thinking this is going to be great, I'm going to get like 10 reps. One guy let go of one of the dumbbells too early and I ended up tearing my rear delts. I ended up not being able to do one rep and they actually printed in the magazine that I couldn't do them. I was so pissed because I knew I'd be able to do 10 easy reps under normal circumstances. My best weights are shoulder presses for 14 reps with 200 lbs. I've done stiff-legged deadlifts I've done between 12-14 reps with 7-8 20-kilo plates per side. I've done bent over rows with 6 plates per side, incline bench I've done 7 plates per side for a single. As a rule I stopped going for singles or doubles a long time ago, although there are times when I'm mad or wound up I'll stick go for the big weights to get the aggression out of me.

AE: I don't think you ever realized your potential as bodybuilder. Although you were always one of the biggest men onstage, it seems that you would often miss your peak. On the few occasions you hit your peak, you were incredible yet never seemed to get the placing your physique warranted. What mistakes do you think you made in your pre-contest prep and what have you learned from them?

IAN: I know exactly what mistakes I made. For the first pro show I ever did, the English Grand Prix, I made two mistakes. The first mistake is that I over-dieted drastically and ended up losing a lot of muscle in the process. Even though my body fat was very low, I ended up coming in looking soft and flat because I was so depleted. The same thing happened at the Chicago Pro and Night of Champions in '94, I over-dieted for both shows. Basically I'm my own worst enemy, when I do a show I want to be super ripped. However, no matter how lean I get, in my head I'm not lean enough. Consequently, I end up losing a lot of muscle mass. You'd see a lot of comments about my physique, people saying I didn't know how to diet properly and didn't have the necessary will power to stick to a diet. These things were very detrimental to my preparation; if someone said I needed to lose 6 lbs I'd lose 12. Basically the main mistake I've made is taking things to the extreme. Now I've realized what I need to do for my body to come in the best shape. I think I looked very good at the San Jose in '97, but I still wasn't full enough, I was very depleted. The best I ever looked onstage was at the prejudging for the '95 Olympia. I was about 19 1/2 stone for prejudging and that was the closest I'd ever been to my optimum fullness and condition. By the time the night show came around I looked terrible because I'd gone to the hotel and eaten the hugest pizza you'd ever seen. I knew they weren't going to place me in the top 10 and really didn't give a shit at that point. That's the God's honest truth; I just filled up with water for the night show. If you can get the pictures from the pre-judging, that's the best I've ever looked onstage. Even so, I've looked so much better than that. That's one of the reasons I want to come back, I want to show the world exactly how good I can be.

AE: What's it like being a bodybuilder in England? Does it receive the same kind of support that bodybuilders get in the US?

IAN: Not at all, you're considered a freak and weirdo.

AE: I'm assuming most of the guest posing gigs you got were in the US and not over in Europe, correct?

IAN: Mainly in the US. It's just not supported the same way in Europe. I did get some work in Holland and Germany. Believe it or not, I was the youngest person to win the British Championships and they never asked me to guest pose after I won. Every other guy that's won his pro card in England has guest posed at the British Championships and they never asked me to do it. I got a lot of support in England when I was a junior, because I won a lot of titles as a junior. Once I turned pro, that all changed. The general public frowns on you. It's very difficult being a bodybuilder in England; you can't find anything low fat. I used to have to buy Equal in the States and bring it over. You can't get anything like that over here. It's a bit backwards over here at times. When I'm in California, I can go to the grocery store in a pair of Lycra shorts and a vest. Not because I'm trying to show off my muscle but because it's hot. In England if you went to the grocery store in a pair of lycras and a vest, the whole place would stand still. They would just stare at you at it gets to the point where you just have to stay covered up.

AE: Is there anything you want to say to people who are reading this interview?

IAN: Just that I am going to compete again. Bodybuilding is one of those sports where you're only as good as your last show, and I know there's a lot of rumors about me being washed up and never competing again. When I do, it will be under my terms, I'll compete based on how I want to look, not how I think the judges want to see me. I will be the biggest freak that anyone has ever seen and whether that brings me first or tenth I really don't give a shit as long as I can realize my potential.

Editors note: In my opinion, Ian Harrison falls into the same category of bodybuilder as Aaron Baker and Lee Priest, athletes who have never been properly recognized in competition. He has the genetic potential to be the freakiest of freaks, and I look forward to seeing his return to the competitive side of the sport. I know we're all going to be amazed at his condition when he returns. Good luck Ian.
Good read!!! I used to train with Ian couple years back when he lived in Aliso Veijo, CA. This guy is freaky strong, I used to have to hand him 200 pound dumbells for shoulder presses, and yes he can do then for 12-15 clean reps. Ian was also very honest and had a no bullshit aproach to life. I enjoyed training with him and hangign out with him and his wife Jane. I hope Ian comes back and gets the placing he deserves.
this is without a doubt the best Interview i have ever read !!!!!!!
good read all the way through very inspireing thx again for this post
Very interesting read. I remember on the bolex supposedly DJ had posted that the amount of gear he used was on the low end also. So what do you guys think of how he cycled? Calling all Vets.
Its really hard to say what Ian actually uses!! He claims low doses, but he also says flat out that most guys don't give you the straight truth on dosages. I personally find it hard to beleive he got to the size he did without large doses.

Anyways, it was a good read and I like his no bullshit attitude.

Actually Ian's doses where low compared to his size and level of competition. There where middleweight guys useing more gear then him. Ian knows his body and what works for him.
When I lived in England I used to train at Ian's gym in Leeds.

He used very little compared to everybody else, but I have never in my life seen anybody train as hard consistently as he did.
Just watching his leg workouts made me want to puke !!!

I heard that Ian is wrestling in the US now, can anyone confirm this???

Boing "the English_Bulldog"

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