Lou Ferrigno talks in detail about how he discovered bodybuilding and how he had to build his own equipment just to start training.


Lou Ferrigno is an iconic name in bodybuilding. This is not only due to his impressive physique on stage but also his immortal appearance as The Hulk on television. With super hero films more popular than ever before, we decided to dive deep into our archives from the cutting room floor of the original Generation Iron. In our latest GI Exclusive Vault interview, Lou Ferrigno discusses how he found bodybuilding. And how he had to build his own weight bench and equipment just to train.

Lou Ferrigno comes from the old school era of bodybuilding. He trained alongside the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu. This of course meant he was growing up in an era of bodybuilding that was still relatively underground. There was no Mr. Olympia yet when he first found a love for bodybuilding. There was hardly any promotion at all for the sport in mainstream culture.

Of course, that eventually all changed in no small part due to Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming acting stars. Alas, until they later found fame and busted bodybuilding into mainstream culture, athletes like Ferrigno needed to scrape to get by in the sport.

This was especially true for Lou Ferrigno, who first discovered bodybuilding while living on the east coast. There wasn’t the same bodybuilding infrastructure in the east coast as there was over in California. When Ferrigno first discovered bodybuilding, he hardly had any info at all on how to effectively train. Instead he just went through trial and error trying to copy what he saw in magazines.

To top it all off, Lou Ferrigno didn’t even have a gym he could train at. Instead, he had to train at home. He had one big problem, he didn’t have nor could afford home workout equipment. So instead he built his own equipment from scratch.

He took plywood and door hinges to make his own weight bench for training. It was so DIY that he couldn’t even let himself completely lean back on the bench. It would hurt him too much.

None of that mattered though because he became obsessed with bodybuilding and weightlifting. He would eventually get a membership to a gym and go on to compete in his first show. While he didn’t win, the sensation of being on stage and displaying his hard-worked physique solidified one thing permanently – that bodybuilding was his one true passion.

After that day, he said he would never place low again. He discovered more information on how to diet and train effectively and eventually became a threatening force in pro bodybuilding. So much so that he appeared as a main character in the original Pumping Iron documentary.

It’s a true underdog story and a glimpse into just how small and underground the sport of bodybuilding was compared to today. Now the Olympia brings in hundreds of thousands of audience members. It has a live stream with a full stage and multiple camera angles. It’s a full on production.

That’s thanks in large part to Lou Ferrigno breaking into the mainstream alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. As their presence grew so too did an obsession with fitness. Now there are gyms on every corner, thousands of supplement companies, and hundreds of pro bodybuilding shows a year.

You can watch Lou Ferrigno detail his humble beginnings in our latest GI Exclusive Vault interview segment above. You can also watch the original Generation Iron on digital today. Click here or the banner below to stream or download.

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