What is your advice for sticking it out in hard times?
“I think you have to develop an attitude. From the severity that I experienced, taking numerous beatings and things of that nature, I developed a defensive philosophy that has served me very well through the years. That is: If I lived through whatever the adversarial position was, I won. No matter what happens, if I'm still breathing in and out, I won. So if you have that kind of philosophy, then failure is not a big thing.”
What is your fitness and nutrition regimen like these days?
“I'm still making gains. Very, very slow gains [laughs], but I am, and that's something you can do for the rest of your life. If you train as a lifestyle, it helps you through everything. My training has evolved. When I worked out with [bodybuilder] Steve Stone, he had an old-school philosophy of just get the weight up. It doesn't matter how you do it, just get it up. And with that philosophy I got a personal best of a 700-pound squat for three reps when I was 60-something, and that was after a double quad tear. That was an arena injury [not training related].”
“What I do now with Mike Monteforte, my trainer...I don't really have a trainer. We train together. He is my trainer, but we train together. I don't like people saying, "Come on! You can do it." It makes me want to rack the weight and say shut up. Mike's training and technique are totally different from Steve Stone's. Mike's technique is one of safety, which?is so important. His philosophy is, don't do anything where you can get hurt. You can do a max, but you really have to work into it. I recently had a resurfacing of my left hip, so I'm at a 560 squat now, and our goal is to get back up to 600.”
That's an incredible number for someone at any age.
“Age really doesn't have anything? to do with it. I'll be 70 in August. I had a personal best a few weeks ago on the incline Hammer Strength machine. I did five reps with 450. It's important to make gains, but it's important to be safe. If you have an injury in the gym, it sets you back so much it's not worth whatever gain you were going to make. That's why strict form is so important. It's about form, not the weight.”