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Moderator / FOUNDING Member / NPC Judge
Staff member
Jun 5, 2002
i have been into bodybuilding forever...well, it seems like forever. i have been lucky to get a job in a industry i love and was very lucky atr a early age to have a father who told me pursue my hobbies and make money off them. so when i was younger i had obcession of wanting to see THE MYTH , sergio oliva before he retired. i got my chance to see him when chicago hosted a large amatuer show that i read about in my gym. i was 17 years old and now had to get a way up to chicago from where i lived which was 5 hours away. sergio would be handing out trophys at the event...time to sucker dad into taking a drive.
we made it to the show that weekend and i brought my lifting partner with me. my dad was not to enthused but, he went. i could have cared less for the competition and only wanted too see sergio. i had to take a monster piss half way through the short class (hey, it was the early 80's and aau was a dominate force in bodybuilding. they went by height classes). as i was walking through the hall to the restrooms there was sergio. i stopped and stared. you know, the stalker type stare that scares most people. he turned around after about a minute and saw me...he smiled and nodded...i shit a brick..and scampered off to the restroom. i made it back to my seat and immediately started my tirade of how i saw sergio. my dad was not impressed but, my buddy was pissed he missed it. later on sergio came out and handed out trophys. he was wearing his trademark huge gold necklece and rings. he was wearing white dress pants and a silk red dress shirt. the sleeves were also cut into a v at the ends so that he could get his arms through them. he looked like a pimp...a pimp on gear.
as the show ended sergio and his wife were making it out of the hall and toward the door...i was stalking them form about 25 feet away. my father says, "well, go talk to him" i said "yeah right..i aint doing anything like that " well, you have to know my dad. he was all of 5'2 and 115 pounds. he was from ireland. was shot at by british troops, moved to the states to avoid being killed, then signs up to fight in ww2. he was not exactly playing with a full deck sometimes and had very little if any fear. he used to say "there was a fine line between courage and stupidity and i crossed it many times" well, with that my father yells "hey sergio, my son wants to talk to you!" now i fully expected to see sergio keep walking but, he turned and looked at my father who then says "yeah, he gets his shorts in a bind everytime he sees your picture" sergio then says "well, where is he" in his thick cuban accent. i off course was hiding behind the available pillar like a schoolgirl. my dad yells for mr to come out and "stop being a sally"..his words not mine. i walked over to him and luckily my father did most of the talking. sergio gave me his autograph and told my father tha he was more than welcome to come train at his gym and watch him prepare for a guest posing spot he had. he gave my dad the address and the time the next day he would be there.
the next day i ran into the gym with my buddy and immediately had to take a piss. i headed straight for the bathroom and as i round the corner to the restroom, there was sergio. he was standing with his shirt off in front of a locker. i shit brick #2. he immediately saw me and sais hi and some other things that i do not recall because i had lapsed into a dream sequence. he put on a t shirt with no sleeves and baggy sweats. i took a piss and to this day i do not know if i ever made it to the urinal. as i walked out sergio was warming up. he was doing chest and back..he started by doing bench press supersetted with dips. he would do the benches in a very short range of motion. no more than 5-6 iches off his chest done in a very fast , rapid movement. he did 135 first and must have done 20-30 reps. he would wait about two minutes then head to the dip bars and do the dips in a similar fashion. he would sink all the way down and only come halfway up. he did about 20 in this fashion. that seemed to be a theme. benches for 15 to 20 reps..rest..then dips the same way. he went up to 365 on thebenches and still made 12 to 15 rapid reps..the rest ..then dips. this went on for about 8 sets. he rested for a few minutes and talked to his workout partner. he then went to the chin bar and started repping out on the chin bar. he did chins similar to the dips. he would go most of the way up but, not all the way down. there was still bend to his arms at the bottom. he did atleast 20 -25 reps. he rested then did dumbell pullovers with no more than 80 pounds. he did these in a silar fashion . he let the dumbell go back for a full stretch then only brought it over his forehead then back down. again, he did higher reps. he did this countless times. at least 6 to 8 sets.
next he did inclines on the smith machine. again, very short movement and he combined the inclines with t bar rows. i can not tell ya the weight since i do not know the smiths weight or remember the pplates on the t bar but, reps again were high and the arms never straightened all the way on the t bars. 4 sets a piece. he stopped and changed shirts in the gym since his were soaked. he said to his partner that he wanted to do more dips. he went back over and pumped out at least 5 more sets of dips. he followed these up with behind the neck pulldowns. each had 20 -25 reps on ost of the exercises. by the way. he never went to failure and looked as though he could have done at least two to three reps more on each exercise.
when he was done i finally was able to get the courage to talk to him and asked why he was so big going so light....i know, but it was all i could think of at the time. he stated that any heavier and he was working tendons. he said that you must make the muscle tired and higher reps where the answer. i asked if he was doing this because he was getting ready for a posing debut. he said no. his training never changes only his diet. i asked about the short reps since all i read back then was full range was best. he said that he could handle more weight for more reps that way and that made "me big". needless to say i came away from that session more confused. i think he saw my confusion and said "do not read so much, okay. do what makes you happy." with that he shook my dads hand and left the gym.
it kind makes you wonder....he never knew what he was doing was "wrong". it just felt right to him. he became the myth and arguably the best bodybuilder of his day. so was he wrong in his methods? i remember telling balik form ironman magazine about this. he laughed and said he witnessed sergio doing the same thing many years ago. he said sergio never wenty very heavy but, made up for it in volume. sergio felt that the pump was more important then weight..he used just enough to get the job done. in a era of no insulin, gh and many other tools he was supreme. arnold himself in a interview in muscle digest admitted that sergio was the better bodybuilder. he just did not know how to diet well....he loved hotdogs...ate many a day...bastard.
:confused: :confused:
I would have shit myself to bro, Sergio was the shit. He's still a big fucker too.
sergio is jsut so freakin nasty its unbelievable to me. fuckin huge, if he knew how to diet e would probably still be mr. o to this day, the guy was just freakin sick, he did switch to HIT later on though under arthur jones
YEAH, HE WENT WITH JONES I BELIEVE IN "72. he went with him before the olympia in essen germany. he later switched back to his high volume when he was making his comeback and went off "jone's payroll". there are still conflicting stories about that. in a recent ironman sergio says that he did 30 sets a bodypart. in a recent musclemag hje states the same thing and does not really get into jones and how he trained him...hard to say why.
thats a great story bro ,pros today are way better ,but there is just something about the old days thats pure magic.
Great story LATS. Sergio was absolutely the original freak. A guy like that with todays pharma- and training technology would rule supreme.
best pic

One of the best pics of a bodybuilder in street clothing I have ever seen is Sergio viewed from the side while playing pool,in a fidora and a sweet goodfellas style short sleeve shirt.Someone on this board has it as his avatar. I always remember the first time I saw that pic,I knew I had to look like that.It has stuck with me to this day as awe inspiring.Sergio's other pics with all the pimp jewelry I can do without,but in the pic I mention he just looks like an old time classy motherfucker,a HUGE one at that.Someone post it here if you got it.........

Lats, I'm a old AAU guy. I began my bodybuilding days competiting in the AAU shows. I always had the dream to compete in the America contest (which I did accomplish). At that time the NPC hadn't been around that long and the AAU was the dominate organization with the America as the pinnacle not Nationals.
Great post lats! :D

Here's a classic photo!



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Great story!

Always been a fan of Sergio's - he truly was the mass monster of his day.

goodstory... IMO Sergio may have been the best of all time all things considered.
Sergio definitely a mass monster..

I agree that the golden era guys have a mystique about them, even though Arnold was SO great in his day, he does not come close to Haney, Yates, and Coleman...

Oh and is it me or does Sergio look like a black Mr. Clean... LOL..!

I love sergio, he is awesome...

this is definitely in good fun, Sergio was one of the guys back then that inspired me...

the comparison is funny though...

I guess we could call Sergio Mr Clean... & Jerk..! LOL..



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thre is a guy that trains at my gym that trained with sergio back in the late 70's early 80's. He trains at my gym now and trains in the exact manner you described. When I see it I can't believe anyone built a lb of LBM training that way.

good post
I met him at the Arnold this year. He was extremely friendly guy. My wife and I got a picture with him. Very classy and easy to approach. That picture of him with the pool cue is one of the first bodybuilding pictures I remember as a kid. Incredible arms.

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  • LATS
    Moderator / FOUNDING Member / NPC Judge

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