Winning is something that natural bodybuilding champion Roger Waters is very familiar with. In his first INBA Overall Mr. Universe, and the INBA Mr. Olympia Masters Tall, and Overall Tall in 2007 and 2008.
Lately, Roger has also been branching out into acting. He has appeared in several Hollywood films, including Friday the 13th and 101 Dalmations.
Roger Waters Interview:
Muscle and Strength: When did you start weight training, and can you tell me about some of your early training and diet mistakes?
Roger Waters: I started weight training at 18, after I had chicken pox really bad. I lost about a stone (7kg) in weight, and went to the gym to stick it back on! I "attacked" all the stacks on the weight machines, wanting to get down to the bottom as fast as possible.
I drank about 8 pints of skimmed milk a day, and lots of cans of tuna ...and put on an additional 3 stones of bodyweight in my first year. This was while staying relatively lean. So, although I had "quantity" protein rather than "quality" protein supplements, it was not really a "mistake" either. (See the picture of me after one year of training - and a couple of photos from last year.)
Muscle and Strength: Roger, you looked great, even after only a year of training! Can you tell me some specifics about how you train? How long are your workout routines, do you use any advanced training techniques such as forced reps, negative reps, or rest-pause sets, and what does your training split look like?
Roger Waters: During my first year of training, I quickly progressed from doing a full body workout 3 to 4 times a week - one day on, one day off - to half body splits...chest/shoulders/triceps/abs, and back/biceps/legs/calves. Then 3-way splits of chest/triceps, back/biceps and legs/shoulders.
I have always followed the simple mantra "if you get stronger, you get bigger," and have enjoyed the challenge of the big heavy weights!
If I was just "going through the motions," I would have lost interest and quit long ago. Even a 550lb/250kg bench press was not enough. You always want more! I do lots of warm-up sets to avoid injury...1 plate, 2 plates, 3 plates, 3 1/2 plates, 4 plates, 4 1/2 plates, then 5 plates on bench for a single. Then it's back down to a 4 plate "working set" of 6-12 reps, depending on if I am on/off-season. Luckily, I am fairly "bullet proof" with the big weights pre-contest!
I incorporate forced reps on bench press, for example, and rest-pause on exercises like lateral raises and hamstrings. But I am never really got into negatives.
There are no "secret exercises" as far as I am concerned. Just useful tips and techniques. My main thing is just use "big, silly weights" as I call them. Lots of warm-ups, not always totally "text book." But just one all-out top set to failure. (If you get stronger, you get bigger.) I think if you're going to be natural (especially at 6'2"/1.87 metres) you have got to be strong. (To fill out your frame.) Simple!
ROGER WALTERS WORKOUT ROUTINE
- Bench Press 400lb/180kg 6-12 reps
- Incline Smith Machine Press 350lbs/160kg 6-12 reps
- Bodyweight dips (for "fun"/high rep variety!)
- Smith Machine Squats 570lb/260 kg for 6-8 reps
- Lying leg curls stack + 45lb/20kg plate 10-15 reps
- Seated calf raise 285lb/130kg 15-20 reps
(Sometimes Wednesday is taken as a rest day if sore/feeling "over-trained" -otherwise I love 3 days off at weekend. I'm raring to go again Mondays!)
Back & Bis (Wednesday)
- Hammer Strength pulldowns 220lb/100kg per arm 10-15 reps (done separately)
- Bent over single arm rows 265lb/120kg 6-10 reps,
- High rep "chins"
- Bicep concentration curls 165lb/75kg 10 reps (good body part built on heavy barbell curls for reps - one exercise only)
Delts & Tris (Thursday)
- Lateral raise (single arm) 90-100lb/40-45kg 6-10 reps
- Front raise 32kg 10 reps
- Bent over raise 70lb/30kg 10-15 reps (no "traps"- good body part!)
- Tricep pushdowns 75kg 10 reps
- Reverse grip tricep pushdowns 165lb/60kg 10-15 reps
Muscle and Strength: You touched on a point that is near and dear to me..."to get big, you have to lift big." Which do you think is more detrimental for a natural lifter...not trying to add more weight to the bar, or not eating enough?
Roger Waters: I think you can have the "perfect" diet and "perfect protein," but if you don't progress through the weights, it will go to waste! Alternatively, "you are what you eat." On a pre-contest diet, every calorie counts. And you realize there is absolutely no carb to be had from tuna, for example.
Muscle and Strength: Why did you choose to remain natural?
Roger Waters: Never ever an issue for me really. So clear cut. One of reasons I started training was to be fit and healthy, and taking steroids is not about health and fitness. I used to be really "anti" all drugs in bodybuilding...now I have mellowed a bit, and think, "each to their own"..."it's your body"...just don't enter a Musclemania Mr. Natural Europe to a guy with a back full of acne, so I know how infuriating a lack of testing at competitions can be.
The "natural" and "non-natural" shows are generally two totally different circuits in bodybuilding... but I feel sorry for other sports where "cheats" prosper. An example is British swimmer Sharon Davies who knows she lost Olympic Gold to an East German who later admitted taking steroids. Sharon can never have that "moment" back, or the "golden glory" on the day of being top of the medal dais and having her national anthem played instead.
I have been lucky enough to experience that at World Championships. And medals, cups and broadswords are nice, but this is a special moment!
Muscle and Strength: What do you like best about the bodybuilding lifestyle, and what do you dislike?
Roger Waters: The thing I like least about the bodybuilding lifestyle is the contest diet, which I am on right now. The best thing about the bodybuilding lifestyle is winning World Championships, which is beyond my wildest dreams. They make the diet all worthwhile.
Muscle and Strength: Can you tell me a bit about what your pre-contest diet looks like? How many weeks do you diet, and what's your eating plan?
Roger Waters: I allow 8 weeks per stone (14lb) bodyweight, at a steady 2lb a week weight loss. And then count back from current weight to my contest weight of 15 stone. I would diet 6 months from a bulked up off-season 18 stone (just about with abs), down to contest weight. Any quicker and you risk being weak in the gym.
MR. NATURAL UNIVERSE - PRE-CONTEST DIET
- Protein shake with half pint skimmed milk
- 2 Chicken breasts, large bread roll, mixed salad
- (Or lean turkey, ham or tuna occasionally)
- Half protein shake with ¼ pint skimmed milk
- 1-2 thick rice cakes (for energy to train!)
6 PM - Training
- (I eat fillet steak on Saturdays!)
- 1 Chicken breast, small bread roll, mixed salad
- 1 Boiled egg
- Small amount of low fat cheese
- Diet Coke
- Warm Tea with Canderel
- Flavored sugar free chewing gum
- May cut out mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon snack nearer the contest just to really lean out!
- Chicken with rice/pasta/potatoes
- Mixed vegetables for evening meals
- Plus anything else I want to eat!
Muscle and Strength: Is it hard to retain all your muscle mass as you diet down for a contest? And what's the biggest key to retaining muscle as you cut?
Roger Waters: A combination of steady weight loss (no crash diets), drive, determination, adrenaline, endorphins, stubbornness, aggression and sheer bloody mindedness! "Quality" training rather than "quantity." Training does not change at all. Diet and aerobics (after training) get you in shape for a show.
If you keep your strength, you keep your muscle. Been lucky enough to do a five-plate bench press a week before a show. I get to go onstage feeling massive. Time is not a "variable" in my training...one set every 3-5 minutes...no rush. Low reps/heavy weights! One all out set only still. It's not how much you do, but what you do when you do it.
Muscle and Strength: I've experienced the same thing...as long as I keep my strength, I keep my muscle. I want to ask you about supplements. What are your essentials?
Muscle and Strength: What's it like to be backstage at a major natural competition? Are the bodybuilders friendly, or is the atmosphere tense?
Roger Waters: Generally very friendly being at a natural show! Because of politics between British and World federations, last year I went on my own to defend my title in San Francisco. And despite being reigning World Champion, one of the Americans was trying to teach me a "lat spread" backstage. So I just did a "signature" freaky, veiny "most muscular" in the mirror - but mainly for his benefit! I caught him looking out of the corner of his eye. Funny! I'm not one to play games, but by the same token...made great friends with most of the Australian team!
Muscle and Strength: What are your thoughts on modern, professional bodybuilding physiques? And just how unhealthy do you think they really are?
Roger Waters: I still take an interest in the "non-natural" side of the sport - I think Ronnie Coleman is phenomenal! So many good body parts next to each other. Sometimes a good back can mean weak biceps, or good triceps can mean a weak chest. Ronnie lifts "heavy" - and respect to that - but obviously it is not just about taking a "little bit of gear" to be competitive. It's a whole cocktail of steroids, insulin (which can make you diabetic), and growth hormone, which is non-selective in enlarging your internal organs, hence some of the distended stomachs. And I haven't mentioned diuretics, synthol, etc. This is clearly not "health & fitness," and unless you reach the very top of the sport, you are seriously jeopardizing your health, all for a "tin pot and a title" as I call it. Each to their own...but not for me!
Muscle and Strength: In a perfect world, what would you like to see for the future of natural bodybuilding?
Roger Waters: In a perfect world I would like to see natural bodybuilding get the public recognition and prize money the non-natural "freaky" side, they pay to see, get...
I have had a great year since winning the Natural Universe. Living in London, this title really seems to have captured the imagination of the TV/film agents. The "glory" is good enough, but if you can "cash in" and make some money as well from your achievements then that's the "icing on the cake." I have been lucky enough to do various Hollywood films/The London Film Festival/BBC TV News/Satellite & cable fitness channels/billboard ads/magazine articles/BBC TV comedy shows/C4 comedy shows/BBC/ITV drama shows/BBC TV children's programs/Internet/various pop videos/commercials etc., etc.
I have been a very lucky boy to achieve what I have achieved, and experience what I have! It would be great if more natural bodybuilders could be so fortunate.