Al Beckles - The Living Legend
Seminar, Highlights, Interview and Posing
Albert Beckles started the seminar by thanking the audience in Adelaide, South Australia for taking the time to come to the seminar and said he hoped they would enjoy the rest of the day. At this point Al took questions from the audience.
The first question Albert was asked was about squats and he was asked about the pace of squats. Albert spoke about contest preparation next and talked about his move to California which took place just before the 1983 Mr. Olympia. He said his contest preparation was short which would lead me to believe that he always remained in good shape year round. He touched slightly on his vegetarianism at this point explaining that he does not eat meat. Albert talked about his training and said he did a double split routine consisting of three hours of training in the morning and another three hours at night! I had never heard of anything like that before, other than the marathon training done regularly by former German giant Jusup Wilcosz who would train five hours per day.
Arnold was on a six day per week double split routine consisting of two hours in the morning and an additional two hours during the night. Arnold said that at the point in his career when he got to that level his body was capable of handling that level of intensity and volume - so in other words, don't try it unless you are an advanced trainee!
Albert said that he believed a person should stick with what they are best at and that is the reason why he sticks with bodybuilding because he is good at it. He said that he doesn't change his diet at all and that his only off season strategy was to eat the same foods he eats precontest but just in more quantity. This is an interesting strategy and one that I had never heard of before, along with his training schedule which seemed unorthodox to me given the modern age high intensity and low volume training strategies which are always coming out today. He listed some of the foods he would eat and he listed chicken, so I'm not sure the extent in which he restricted meat from his diet. I had previously heard that Albert was a vegetarian but it is possible that he did include chicken and fish in his diet but excluded red meat.
Albert joked with the crowd next when discussing the importance of stature in bodybuilding. He said that he stopped concerning himself so much with it when he realized the chances of him growing any taller were slim to none, lol. At 5'7, Albert Beckles wasn't exactly short, but more "medium" which is perfectly acceptable for top tier bodybuilders. However, to be Mr. Olympia is another story, and in general, taller bodybuilders and bodybuilders with the best backs, are at an advantage. For example, if Rich Gaspari was six feet tall, I can't imagine him having lost the 1987 Mr. Olympia contest.
Even at 5'10, I think Rich would have won it (Rich was 5'8 and 1/2). Jay Cutler is the same height as Rich and beat a 5'11 Coleman, but Albert did make a point to state that height is an advantage. He said that the shorter bodybuilders will often be more motivated to prove that they can still fare well against the taller ones. Rich Gaspari was another bodybuilder around the same height as Albert, and he was as motivated as ever and in great condition year round. Check out his seminar DVD, which is another excellent GMV seminar production:
More questions were posed regarding dieting and supplementation and Albert said that he didn't have the patience to sit around and count out tablets so he wasn't sure exactly how many he was taking. It seemed to me that Albert's approach was intense but balanced - somewhat along the lines of Lee Haney's, but not exactly like that of Rich Gaspari, who most definitely would have counted every single vitamin and calorie he was consuming and have an exact breakdown of them. Albert continued to speak about nutrition and explained that essentially a calorie was a calorie, going along with Mike Mentzer's school of thought on the subject. Mentzer always displayed great conditioning like Albert did, so he has a lot of words of wisdom to share when it comes to nutrition. Mike's vast knowledge on bodybuilding training and nutrition principles are featured in V-121DVD "Mike & Ray Mentzer: In The Gym"
As the questions rolled in, the entire array of bodybuilding subjects were covered and Albert touched on training again explaining which techniques worked for him. He also spoke about rep and set schemes and the importance of each.
Later on in the seminar, Albert took off his clothes and put on his posing trunks to do a posing presentation for the crowd. They seemed to love it and were cheering him along as he posed to "Dancing Queen" by ABBA - the same song he posed to at the 1983 Mr. Olympia contest.
Next Albert did a short interview where it was mentioned that he had great longevity in bodybuilding. Albert's age has been debated for quite some time and some thought he was born in 1930 and others thought it was 1938. After consultation with Joe Roark, I know believe that he was born in 1938, which would have put him at 53 by the time of his retirement. Vince Taylor is 50 and is still competing to this day, so it is quite possible to compete at an advanced age, and to me, 50 is not that old anyway. These days 40 is the new 20 and in 20 years, no doubt 50 will be the new 20. With balance and dedication, a bodybuilder can achieve great longevity.
Along with Albert, Phil Hill was also being interviewed. This took place at the 1989 FIBO bodybuilding expo which was held in Cologne, Germany. Once the interviewer asked the questions, the answers given by the pros were translated to German. Albert said he had been competing in bodybuilding for
33 years - since 1956. That would make him 18 years old at the time which was a possibility, although I am unsure which contests he competed in at that time. Phil said that he was not yet 30 years old and so he admired Albert's longevity. Phil had some of the most amazing arms ever in bodybuilding. They were huge and full and simply ridiculous for his frame size and height.
Next up, the 6'0 monster Ron Love appeared for an interview. Ron was born in
1951 and was 38 at the time. To this day he is still competing and plans on making a comeback at the 2007 NY Pro Show, and I for one hope he does it.
The interviewer next said that Albert was about to be 59 and asked if he ever ages, and if he had any plans to cut back on the number of contests he entered.
Next Samir posed during FIBO. I have never been to FIBO and since it is based in Germany it may not be logistically possible for me to do so, but from what I can tell, it is a very high calibre expo along the lines of the Arnold Classic and one which everyone seems to enjoy. I plan to post detailed reviews of the FIBO DVDs in the near future. FIBO was the world's first major bodybuilding and fitness Expo and started around 1985.
From what I could tell, Samir was around 200 pounds at 5'8 and in excellent condition. His arms looked to be a good 18" inches and hard. He posed to "Jump" by Van Halen. Next, Albert took off his shirt and posed with Samir, to the song "La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens. It was interesting to hear all of the eighties tunes playing which I remember when growing up.
This DVD is a rare gem for those who are fans of Albert Beckles or ironage bodybuilding. Some of the questions are difficult to hear when posed by the audience member, but all of the responses by Albert were audible and he would reiterate the question in his response which made everything understandable. Albert's training and nutritional strategies were actually very unique which was surprising to me. I expected there to be close resemblance between his diet and that of other pros, but things have changed since his era, and he was a very unique bodybuilder. Some other GMV seminars I look forward to seeing include the Jeff King seminar! The best pro bodybuilder who never was.
Altogether, you can't go wrong with the GMV seminar series as they cover a lot of little known information on the bodybuilders they covered.
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