Lee Haney, one of the all-time greats of the sport, had some harsh word’s for today’s generation of bodybuilders.
Lee Haney, who’s tied with Ronnie Coleman for highest number of first place finishes in the Mr. Olympia with eight total wins, had a lot to say to today’s bodybuilding competitors about the direction they’ve taken his beloved sport. In an exclusive interview with London Real, Lee Haney opened up about his journey in the sport and had a lot of advice to give to the younger generation of bodybuilders, whom he criticized as lacking “quality” in their performance and dedication to the sport. You can watch the interview in full above.
One of the most interesting subjects Haney delves into in the interview is the effect the internet and our hyper-saturated media landscape has had on the ideas available to us about training, health, and fitness.
“During [my] time, magazines consisted mainly of training and nutrition,” Haney remembers in the interview. “It wasn’t as commercialized as you see now. So, it was all about real, good quality knowledge.”
This is a far cry from today’s fitness landscape, especially with the advent of Instagram. More and more, it seems like every fitness influencer and amateur bodybuilder has their own fad diet they’re promoting along with their own expensive training courses and diets; all of them promise to undercut competitors and get you to the top the fastest. Our obsession with the “tips and tricks” mindset fostered by these individuals distracts us from the path followed by athletes like Haney, who put work in at the gym day after day using traditional methods that, though unexciting, got results. The obsession with taking shortcuts extends to the use of performance-enhancing drugs and probably contributes to the rise of the mass monster physique on the Olympia stage. No one will buy a magazine or a workout plan that tells them to do push-ups, sit-ups, and lift weights, because everyone knows how to do those things. Even though they’re the best guaranteed way to build muscle, they don’t give results right away — you have to earn them through a lot of practice and training.
“At the age of 11 years old, I asked my parents for a set of weights for Christmas, and they got them for me,” Haney shared. “Inside that little package of weights there was a Charles Atlas book that had the basic principles of training, mainly one exercise per body part. They were foundational exercises, and from those foundational exercises everything else grew, but I stayed true to the principles that I had read there, which also matched up to the principles that were being given to me by the other senior weightlifters that I met.”
Lee Haney is a real class act and a treasure to the sport. Be sure to give the full interview a watch, it’s very entertaining and informative!
*All images and media courtesy of YouTube.