Interview With Natural Pro Kevin Weiss
Kevin Weiss has been involved with natural bodybuilding for over 20 years. At the age of 15, Kevin entered his first contest, the Northern Alberta Bodybuilding Championships (Canada). Since this time, he has competed in and captured bodybuilding titles on the national and international level. Kevin has also competed in powerlifting. At a bodyweight of 196 pounds, his best lifts are a 567 pound squat, a 463 pound bench press and a 573 pound deadlift.
Muscle and Strength: Kevin, I want to start be asking you about the 2004 Fame Championships. Can you tell us what happened, and why you weren’t allowed to compete?
Kevin Weiss: Well to answer that question lets go back to July 2003. I had just won the middleweight and overall title at the CBBF world qualifier. The next step up the ladder was the IFBB world championships in Mumbai, India. After looking into past years results of the world championships it was pretty obvious that although it was a drug tested event a good number of the contestants were not natural. Not really tempted by the prospect of paying for a trip to India, only to place out of the top 15, I was a little lost as far as what to do next. I still wanted to compete but wanted to be on a level playing field with other natural athletes. After searching for other Fame organization. At that time they were still affiliated with Musclemania.
I had seen the Musclemania shows on TV and they seemed to promote Fame organization to find out more.
I was assured that this panel was in place to weed out obvious drug users who were trying to beat the test. I was further assured that anyone that was not an obvious drug user had nothing to worry about. Seemed reasonable to me. I had been competing in drug tested events since 1993 so I was very familiar with drug testing and was confident that I looked like a high level natural bodybuilder, not a drug user. I started my training for the June competition in January and never gave the drug testing another thought. After 6 months of contest prep I arrived in Toronto in the best shape of my life hoping to grab that pro card. I was very confident as I was about 6-7 pounds lighter than the previous year at the world qualifier, with no loss of size. After registering for the event I was told to sit and wait to be called before the “drug screening panel” When my turn came me and 4 or 5 other guys were all brought into a room were there was 5 or 6 men and women sitting behind a table. I did not recognize anyone sitting there except one bodybuilder who I had seen compete as a natural pro.
After weighing in (173) we all had to pose as instructed in front of these people. We also had to show them our hands for some reason. After a few poses they mumble something amongst themselves and then told the rest of the guys they could go but to me to wait outside. I thought it was kind of weird but was not concerned. After a few minutes they called me back in and got me to strip down again and hit some more poses of their choice. After more mumbling they asked me to wait outside again. I thought something strange was going on but was not sure what. When they called me back in the “head” (the only person that ever spoke to me) proceeded to tell me that I reminded him of Porter Cottrell and that I would probably win the overall title at this show. Naively I took this as a compliment. Next he proceeded to tell me that there was no way I could get into that kind of shape without drugs and therefore it was their opinion I was not natural and would not be allowed to compete.
I was in shock as he basically finished his spiel and dismissed me. I began to plead my case frantically, explaining that I had been training for over 20 years and had done my first competition at 15. In this time span I had been drug test several times and had never failed a test. These were all facts that no one on the panel was aware of but did not really seem to care. This was given the response that drug tests were unreliable and can be beaten. Remembering the mention of polygraph testing on the website I pleaded to be polygraphed or given any drug test they wanted. I even offered to pay full shot for any test they could give me (even though every entrant had payed a 75 dollar drug test fee) I was told that no drug testing was available at the event (not sure what the 75 was for) and that the decision of the panel was final. After several more minutes of escalating argument hotel security was called. I had no choice but to leave in disbelief. It all just seemed like a bad dream. Still kind of does.
Muscle and Strength: So they thought a 5’7″, 170 pound bodybuilder was on steroids? That is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Where did you go from there with regards to competing? Did you consider competing against the steriod users in the IFBB again?
Kevin Weiss: That was one of the responses I used in my defense. When I competed in 1993, I weighed 171. In 2004, I weighed 173. I flat out asked if these people were aware of how steroids worked? This was met with blank stares from everyone on the panel except the leader of this kangaroo court. Anyway, I really had no idea what to do competition wise after that. I was not really interested in competing in non-drug tested events. I had competed in a large untested contest in the states in 2002, and made a decision at that time not to do that again. I knew I would be competing against mostly enhanced athletes going into that show.
The show never claimed to be natural so that was my decision and I never whined about that. The fact is though that getting in contest shape takes way to much time and effort to know you don’t have a chance. I wanted a level playing field where I was confident I could be competitive against the best natural athletes in the sport. A simple Google of Fame show promised but never provided. I called the president of the association, told him of my experience and inquired exactly what their drug testing protocol was.
He told me that every athlete had to take a polygraph test to gain membership to the organization and WADA drug testing would be done at the event. I gotta tell you I was licking my chops at the prospect of taking a polygraph and being drug tested at this point. Word had started circulating that I had failed my drug test at the Fame show and had been disqualified. The fact that this was not true did not seem to slow this rumor down though. Anyway, long story short, I passed my polygraph, passed my urine test, won my class, won the overall, and got my pro card at this show.
Muscle and Strength: How many competitions have you been in since winning your pro card? And what are your thoughts of the current “all natural” shows…are they still aggressively drug testing?
Kevin Weiss: I have done 6 shows since turning pro and I am competing again in November. Until this year there were no pro shows in Canada so that meant travel to the states. Even now the pro shows in Canada are on the opposite side of the country from me so it is actually cheaper for me to travel to California or Las Vegas to compete than to compete in Canada. The sport is growing though but it is a pretty small group of natural bodybuilders up here.
The current group of all natural shows has some good and some bad. I will only compete in shows that actively polygraph and have their drug testing done by WADA. The organizations that do these 2 things in my opinion are doing the best they can and are actually interested in having natural athletes. Drug testing is very expensive, I think in Canada each test is about 650 bucks. Obviously you cannot charge everyone 650 and expect to draw many competitors so they charge 50-75 bucks each and then test as many people as they can afford. This usually means the top finishers get tested and that’s about it. This is not ideal but at least it is something. Even with this limited testing people get caught all of the time. It still amazes me how many people will go into drug tested show when they are on drugs when there are countless shows they could do that have no drug testing. Sad really when someone is willing to cheat for a 35 dollar trophy and a title that in the big scheme of thing does not mean much. It is not like we are competing for millions of dollars here.
Muscle and Strength: Do you get frustrated when you step on stage, knowing that some of the competitors are trying to cheat? Or do you just try and put it out of your mind?
Kevin Weiss: I do not really worry about it. You cannot control what other people do you can only make sure you are in the best shape you can be in. Honestly though, when a polygraph is part of the process you don’t seem to get guys that are obviously on drugs. Seems to weed them out pretty well. I know lots of people say the test can be beat and perhaps that is true, but anyone who has ever said that to me has never taken one. Until you sit in that chair and get hooked up you don’t have an opinion on wether the test can be beat or not in my opinion.
Muscle and Strength: Can you tell me about your website, and the products and services you offer?
Kevin Weiss: My website is really just in its infant stages. I was under the wrong assumption that anyone could just put up a website with a little time and effort and it would be decent. Maybe that was true 5 or 10 years ago but now you need a good web site manager and a marketing strategy. This is a full time job and I just don’t have the time it takes to do it properly. I am meeting with a few companies this week to get someone to take over the management of my website so it should be much better in the coming months. I am also looking into filming a couple of DVDs which will be for sale on the site as well. Currently I offer an online coaching program on the site. This is a program where clients pay a monthly fee for custom program and diets that are specifically designed to help them reach their goals. They also get 1 hour/month online consultation with me, usually on Skype. I have clients all over the world on this program. I also offer one time training programs and diets to clients if they don’t want coaching.
Muscle and Strength: What is the most satisfying aspect of helping others with training and diet?
Kevin Weiss: The most satisfying part is when you see people reaching their goals without resorting to ridiculous fads and myths. The length that some people go to for short periods of time that are completely unnecessary and counter productive continues to boggle my mind. A well planned out program and diet that is maintained consistently over the long term will outperform a radical approach every time.
Muscle and Strength: A see quite a large number of hardgainers on Internet forums…guys that have a hard time gaining weight. What is your take on bulking? And how would you recommend the average hardgainer eat?
Kevin Weiss: To begin with, I think most people that label themselves hardgainers are not. They are:
- A) Not realistic about how long it take to gain quality weight.
- B) Train like pansies.
- C) Not willing to lose their six pack.
Many trainees are comparing their results to steroid users and claims made in supplement ads. This is not realistic. Anybody that thinks they are going to gain 20 pounds of muscle in 8 weeks or whatever is dreaming. It simply is not going to happen. Gaining muscle takes years not months. The longer you have been training the slower the gain. If you have been training and eating properly for more than 5 years we are talking a few pounds a year AT MOST. The longer you are at it the gains you make are more in quality of muscle than quantity. Also if you think you are going to add pounds of muscle and still keep your abs you are wrong. I guess this brings me to bulking.
Bulking up is a viable protocol but it has to be done properly. Most people that say they are bulking use it as an excuse to eat crap all the time and be fat slobs. This is not a bulk. Also gaining 40 pounds of fat over the winter and cutting back down in the spring is not a proper bulk either. A properly designed bulking diet takes:
- A) A lot of quality calories with some room for crap. The majority of your calories should be coming from moderately lean meat, high quality starch and other healthy calorie dense food like avocado and nuts. If you feel like a pizza and a beer once in a while go for it but it should not be the staple of your diet.
- B) Time. Like I said getting fat October to April, then leaning back down is not a bulk. You need to maintain this added weight for 18-24 months or more to see any real benefit.
It is also important to point out bulking up does not mean unlimited weight gain. There is a point of diminishing returns. You do not need to carry around 50 pounds of extra fat to get a result. When I considered myself bulked up I was about 200-205. There was not need for me to be heavier than this with my frame. Also when you are in this calorie surplus you should be training your ass off. With all this talk off overtraining now a days I am yet to actually see someone do it.
Muscle and Strength: What are your thoughts on the typical 30-something gym rat…the guy that has been in the gym for 10+ years, but has made zero progress. Are they not eating correctly, or pushing themselves in the gym? Or are they just genetically doomed?
Kevin Weiss: It is usually a combination of all of these factors but if someone has been training for 10 years and has nothing to show for it bodybuilding certainly is not the sport for them. That is not to say they should not continue to work out but as far as building a competition physique it is simply not in the cards for them. Some people have built decent physiques eating like crap and training like idiots. They are simply the genetic elite. Some guys seemingly do everything right and continue to look like Peewee Herman. These guys should find another sport. It is the rare combination of genetics and work ethic that produces the elite in any sport and natural bodybuilding is no exception.
Muscle and Strength: I was reading your blog this week, and you have quite a number of posts on the glycemic index, insulin levels, and fat loss. Can you explain why the glycemic index is not always a good guideline as to what foods a bodybuilder should be eating when trying to cut fat?
Kevin Weiss: Many foods than can be used in a fat loss diet have gotten a bad rap because of their high glycemic index number. A couple that jump to mind are potatoes and to a lesser degree carrots. Let me focus on potatoes though. This is one of the cheapest, easiest forms of starch you can possibly find but has been banished from many fat loss diets because of it high glycemic index number. The point that is often missed though is that if you maintain a calorie deficit the glycemic index of a food is really irrelevant. Also the amount of potato you would be eating on a calorie restricted diet is far less than is used to determine it glycemic index. Also you would be eating this small amount of starch with protein and likely some fiber such as vegetables. These factors also skew the glycemic index number. I guess the major point I am trying to make is single foods do not make or break a diet. The total calories over a daily, weekly, and monthly time period matter far more than the glycemic index of foods in isolation. After all ice cream has a lower glycemic index than potato but I don’t see Rocky Road on too many diets. Calorie deficit is everything. If you eat whole natural food and maintain a deficit you can’t go wrong.
Muscle and Strength: Tell us about your training split, training philosophies, and typical off season diet…
Kevin Weiss: My training split changes all the time but I usually train 5 days per week, 3 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 1 day off. Currently I am doing a push/pull/legs split to get ready for my show in November. For my last show in July I tweaked a one body part per day Innervation training program… Scott Abel designed for me a few years ago. Previous to that I did a program where the whole body was trained 5 days per week with different exercises every workout. The possibilities are endless. Also everything works for a while and nothing works forever. No matter what program you are one the most important thing is effort. You should not need a spreadsheet to figure out if you are working hard or not. Get in the gym, bust your ass, and leave. If you are there more than an hour, your making friends, not training. That does not mean it takes you an hour to do 10 sets either. I typically get 20-30 sets total done in an hour. I think this is what is missing in most trainees programs, effort and volume, in that order.
My off-season diet is not a whole lot different than my contest diet, I just eat more. I do very well on a lower carb diet and have been on one for nearly 10 years. Most people are not suited to this type of plan though so I rarely, I think twice in the last 10 years, have prescribed a similar plan to someone else. Anyway to sum up my off-season diet I eat mostly protein and fat with a free meal Wednesday night and a free day Saturday. I don’t count calories and this approach allows me to maintain about 10% over my contest weight.