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BERTIL FOX SEMINAR (1979)
Training partners report that 'Foxy' usually performs his sets using between 5 and 8 reps. Some of his phenomenal training performances verified as being accurate by Health and Strength magazine include:
Press Behind Neck - 300 lbs x 7 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press - 205 lb dumbbells
Dips - 250 lbs strapped on
Chins - 200 lbs strapped on
One Arm Dumbbell Presses - 175 lbs
Flyes - 135 lb dumbbells
Barbell Curls - 290 lbs
End Bar Rows - 450 lbs
Leg Presses - 1,350 lbs
"He used to do lat pulldowns," says his partner, "but he changed to another exercise after the machine bent with 420 lbs on it."
The same reporter says that Bertil frequently performs slow concentration curls with a 100-lb dumbbell, and believe this . . . side laterals with 95 lb dumbbells.
"Bertil Fox," according to NABBA secretary Oscar Heidenstam . . . "is one of those modest people who wants little more than to be left in peace to lift . . . Without doubt, one of the greatest bodybuilders, not only of the present generation, but of all time."
Fox will live to do battle on the North American pro circuit . . . and many of his British fans feel he will wipe the field. How big are his arms? At present, nobody knows for sure. But, that won't stop you hazarding a guess, will it? twenty, twenty one, twenty . . .
Click Pic to ENLARGE
Bertil is introduced to the members of the audience by gym owner and seminar organizer Jim Charles. After a plea to the audience that he hopes they won't spend too much time on the issue of drugs, the first question thrown at Bertil is the old faithful . . .
Q: How many times a week do you train?
A: I train five times a week from Monday to Friday, but when a contest approaches I train on Saturday and Sunday as well.
Q: Do you train fast or slow?
A: Well, I just train at the right speed that enables me to catch my breath. I don't train very fast and I don't think I train very slowly. I just let my body tell me when it is ready for the next set. I like to keep myself hot because when I cool down I just lose my concentration.
Q: Who is the most impressive physique you have ever seen?
A: I've always admired massive size so I would say Sergio Oliva and probably Larry Scott have inspired and impressed me more than anyone others.
Q: How much abdominal work do you do?
A: Before a contest I would go to my employer and arrange six weeks leave so that I could apply myself fully without any interference. During this time I would be following a double split routine, training my abs in the morning and evening.
Q: What exercises do you do for your abdominals?
A: I do 20 sets of Roman Chair Situps, 20 sets of Parallel Bar Leg Raises, and 20 sets of regular Situps.
Q: Do you train your abs before or after a workout?
A: Some guys train their abs at the beginning of a workout, but I personally don't agree with that, and always train them at the end of my workout.
Q: Do you use steroids?
A: Well, I don't really like to talk about that because of all the controversy about it nowadays. Things are exaggerated so much that it becomes ridiculous.
Q: Would you advise bodybuilders and lifters to take steroids?
A: Personally, no. But of course this must be left entirely up to the individual. I think he must look at his potential and ask himself if the rewards would be worth the health risk. I feel that apart from the odd few professional bodybuilders who are actually making money from the sport, everyone else is simply risking their own health for nothing.
Q: The standards in the game have risen so much during the last ten years. Do you think this is purely a result of steroid usage?
A: No, I don't. What a lot of guys don't appreciate is that all the top men are training very hard all the time, four to six times a week very intensely. I know of some guys who don't even train properly and yet they are taking steroids. This is ridiculous. You must understand that out of all the guys involved in bodybuilding and lifting only a handful will ever win a big title.
Q: How do you train your arms?
A: I train my arms three times a week. I superset biceps with triceps most of the time, although this is done mainly to save time. My favorite exercises are one arm preacher bench curls, barbell curls, and dumbbell concentration curls. My current arm routine, although I change thins now and again, is this:
I start out with incline dumbbell curls with about 75-85 lb dumbbells for about 10 reps. These are supersetted with lying triceps extensions for about five sets.
My next superset usually consists of heavy preacher bench curls and triceps pressdowns, adding weight each set, which I think is very important.
I finish off my arms with my favorite type of concentration curl, which is the one arm DB curl over the incline bench or preacher bench. This is a fantastic exercise for building peak and shape to the biceps. I like to go for 20 reps on this one using a 75 or 85 lb dumbbell. I follow this with a special kind of triceps pushdown which I do bent over at a 45-degree angle and using a short shaped bar. I push down and into my body. After this I strap some weight on and do as many dips as I can. I do four complete circuits of these three exercises and by this time my arms are pretty pumped!
Q: Do you constantly strive to increase your training poundages?
A: Yes, I do. I think you must do this if you want to progress. If you use the heaviest weight possible and still get your reps out then I think you are on the right track.
Q: How many sets per bodypart do you do?
A: I nearly always do five sets per exercise after a short warmup. I use between four and five exercises per muscle group. So I guess I'm doing 20 to 30 working sets per bodypart.
Q: How do you train your legs?
A: At the moment because I have no contests in mind, I start out with heavy squats, increasing the weight each set. Then I superset standing barbell hack squats and leg extensions. We don't have a hack squat ma chine at our gym but I doubt if I would use it if we did. My last thigh exercise is legs curls with a dumbbell held between my feet because we don't have a leg curl machine either. All these exercises are done for the usual five sets each.
Q: What about your calves?
A: For calves my favorite is seated calf raises with a barbell on my knees, with some padding under it. My other favorite is an exercise you do in the squatting position with a weight on your back, and your toes on a block.
Q: Do you have a trainer or coach?
No, I don't have a coach. You see, I was very lucky when I first started out training to meet two really good guys in the game. They were Henry Greaves and Lincoln Webb. I don't know if any of you remember them.
Lincoln Webb, Wilfred Sylvester
Well, anyway, they both seemed to have spotted my potential and they guided me into training habits which I still follow. They constantly encouraged me to train hard on the heavy basic exercises and always told me to avoid the "fancy stuff" which was being used by a lot of the stars of the day.
Q: What kind of basic routine are you talking about?
A: Oh, bench press, dumbbell flyes, bentover rows, standing press, side laterals, high pulls, and of course the old superset of squats and straight arm pullovers.
Squat, superset with
Straight Arm Pullover
I think that's a very good routine to build size on before you even consider going onto the "fancy" stuff.
Q: Would you like to take on the rest of the pros at the Mr. Olympia?
A: Yes, I would like to enter the Olympia, but I'm not sure if I will. It depends on a lot of things and they're too complex to mention here.
Q: Do you consider the Mr. Olympia to be the ultimate contest?
A: Yes, I think it must be. All the top guys are entering and of course the money's there.
Q: What do you eat six weeks before a contest?
A: Six weeks before a contest I eat a lot of liver. I also eat meat, tuna fish, and plenty of eggs.
Q: Do you eat a lot?
A: Yes, I eat a hell of a lot. You've got to when you're training very hard and your diet is purposely unbalanced. [Purposely unbalanced . . . that 's the first time I've heard it described that way. Perfect!]
Q: Do you use food supplements?
A: I take a little but I rely mainly on natural foods with the bulk of my protein coming from eggs. I have a special protein drink which I make up and take with me to the gym to take sips from during my workout.
Q: What does this special drink consist of?
A: I fill a blender with a powder I have made up at the chemist, some cottage cheese, bananas, yogurt, and 12 eggs. I fill this up with water because I never use milk. I take one of these drinks to work with me and another one when I train. [Bertil worked as a train operator on the London Underground].
Q: How many eggs per day do you eat?
A: 12 with my first protein drink. Another 12 with my second drink, and 8 scrambled before a workout.
Q: Have you any hobbies?
A: Yes, I like to listen to Reggae and pop music.
Q: Do you eat vegetables with your meals?
A: I like a little potato with my meals.
Q: How much sleep do you get?
A: Eight hours.
Q: Do you run?
A: The only time I run is on a Friday when it's pay day!
Q: Do you believe in running as an aid to your training?
A: Well, they say it's supposed to be good for your definition, and maybe it is but I've never used it. I think it is good for you though, because you start sweating and your heartbeat increases.
Q: Do you drink?
A: I don't have a favorite local spot like the other guys. But you invite me to a party and I'll drink baby!
Q: How long do your workouts last?
A: Usually 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
Q: Have you ever tried the short training methods such as advocated by the Nautilus system and more recently by Mike Mentzer?
A: No, as I said before my training is based on what I learned from Henry Greaves and Lincoln Webb. The only thing different that I do is to switch my exercises around. For example, I might do incline barbell presses instead of dumbbell bench press, or I might do flat bench dumbbell curls instead of preacher curls, and so on. I think this is a good idea because it prevents any staleness.
Q: How long do you stick to a particular course before you change things?
A: Usually about three or four months.
Q: Do you always train to failure?
A: Oh, all this talk about training to failure! Look, I'll tell you what I do. Take the seated press behind the neck using the 90-degree angle bench.
I put two 50's, two 25's and two 15's on the bar. I do a set of about 10 reps. My training partner puts on another two 15's and I do another 8 to 10 reps. I then put another two 15's on and do as many reps as I can. For my last set I will probably have two 50's, two 25's, and six 15's. I then do what I call a staggered set. [Call it a drop set if you like but it's still a staggering piece of training!] I do about 6 reps with this weight, and then my training partner will take off two 15's and I carry on the set. When I can do no more my training partner takes off another two 15's and I continue until I can do more. That's MY system for training to failure.
Q: Have you ever employed the pre-exhaust system of working an isolation exercise prior to a compound exercise?
A: No, I never have. I always like to start with the heavy exercises first.
Q: How do you train your chest?
A: Well, at the moment I start out with very, very heavy flat dumbbell bench presses for about 5 or 6 sets of 10 reps. After these I do 5 sets of incline barbell presses increasing the weight each set, and on my last set I use the staggered set style I explained earlier. I then finish off by supersetting incline dumbbell flyes with heavy weighted parallel bar dips.
Q: Do you get soreness in the muscles after your workouts and how important do you feel this soreness is to your progress?
A: I do get sore from time to time but I don't think you have to be sore all the time to gain from your training. I think soreness really only applies when you change to a different exercise or do something in a different way. If you're training hard and regular and you're really putting your mind into it then I wouldn't worry too much about muscle soreness.
Q: How do you group your bodyparts together during your workouts?
A: On Monday I train my shoulders and arms. On Tuesday I do back and chest. Wednesday I do legs and arms. Thursday I train chest and back again, and on Friday I do shoulders and arms again.
Q: How do you train your shoulders?
A: I start off with 5 sets of heavy seated press behind neck on a 90-degree incline bench, after some warmup sets. Then I do the two dumbbell seated press. I do these as if I was holding a barbell and lower the inside plates until they touch my delts. I start off with a pair of 85's and then the 100's, 110's and so on. After these I like to do 5 sets of high pulls or upright rowing and my final exercise is the dumbbell side lateral raise.
Q: How do you train your back?
A: I nearly always start off with the one arm dumbbell row using a very heavy poundage, after some warmup sets. I then do 4 or 5 sets of behind the neck lat pulldowns. Then 4 sets of close grip pulldowns to the waist. I finish off with a superset of chins and dumbbell pullovers.
Q: Have you ever trained alone or in a home gym?
A: No, I could never train alone because I need a couple of guys to lift the weights up to me and to take plates off quickly for the staggered sets, and I've always trained at a proper gym.
Q: What do you weigh?
A: I don't think you're going to believe this but I never weigh or measure myself. I always let the mirror be my guide, and incidentally, if you ever see a story that says Bertil Fox's arms measure such and such, you better believe that this is a lie, because no one knows what my arms measure . . . even I don't!
Q: What are your favorite bodybuilding magazines?
A: I like Iron Man and I like the Weider mags.
Q: What is your opinion of the top professionals who entered this year's IFBB Mr. Olympia contest?
A: Well, some people are always telling me that I don't appreciate how good I am, but when I see pictures of Zane, Robinson, and Mentzer, etc., they really give me the creeps. Man, these guys are fantastic. They frighten the life out of me.
Q: Does anybody advise you about your training?
A: No, no one. You see, I've got this hangup about size and when I was training for the 1976 NABBA Mr. Universe contest I felt that nobody could stop me. To my surprise two little Japanese guys probably weighing less than 170 lbs beat me.
Q: If you were ever offered a film contract would you be prepared to lose as much weight as Arnold and Steve Reeves did, or would you do as Reg Park did and refuse?
A: Ha, ha, ha! It depends on how much money I was going to get.
Q: Do you ever take a rest from training?
A: No, the only time I don't train is if I'm sick. I don't even take a break for a holiday.
Q: Have you ever had any serious training injuries?
A: No, I haven't had anything serious in the way of injuries, although I hurt my back a few years ago. My only problem is that my elbows hurt now and again.
Q: Do you train your forearms?
A: No, I've never trained my forearms. I get all I need from my curls.
Q: When you do your pressing exercises do you lock out or not?
A: Yes, I always lock out all my exercises.
Q: Would you like to compete in the World Super Star Competition like Lou Ferrigno did?
A: Yes, I really would like to enter this competition and I think I could do really well because I was very good at gymnastics, football, running, and boxing. If I ever did get a chance to enter there's no way that I'd let bodybuilding down and I'd do my best to win it.
Q: What do you think women feel about bodybuilders.
A: Well, I usually find that after a time when they get to know a bodybuilder they usually change their opinion entirely. At first they probably think a bodybuilder might crush them to death but I think that after a while they will learn to see how dedicated we are and understand things better.
Q: What made you take up bodybuilding?
A: The old story, I'm afraid. The Reeves Hercules films and the Tarzan movies. These impressed me very, very much as a kid.
Q: How does your training differ when a contest approaches?
A: Well, I'll tell you, in all my training I am constantly trying to get bigger because I still don't feel that I'm big enough yet. Cuts for cuts sake don't interest me at all. But of course I realize that in order to win a major contest you MUST cut up. During my cutting up period when I am dieting hard and my strength and energy levels are lower I will tend to do less of the heavy stuff, such as the heavy presses behind the neck and dumbbell presses. But as soon as a contest is over and I come off my diet it's back to workouts for increased muscular size. Remember, the name of the game is body BUILDING.
Q: How many carbohydrates do you take in prior to a contest?
A: Apart from the indirect carbo contents of some of the foods, I take NO CARBS AT ALL. I don't feel very good during this time but I sure do cut up.
Q: Do you follow as strict style during your exercises?
A: I don't train TOO strictly, I much prefer a loose style with more weight. I watch lots of guys wasting their time training with tiny little dumbbells, and training in an ultra strict style. I much prefer a fairly loose style with plenty of weight.
Q: Are there any British bodybuilders that impress you?
A: Yes, Tony Emmott impresses me a hell of a lot each time I see him.
Tony Emmott (pro winner), Bertil Fox (amateur winner).
This was the last question thrown at Bertil by the audience and for the next hour or so we were privileged to watch the great man display the type of training style that has produced for him probably the greatest physique the world has ever seen. Only time will tell . . .