About-Muscle talk With 2012 Mr Illinois Champion Mike Neumann. Inthis interview Mike talks about why he choose to become a natural bodybuilder, tips for those completing, and his thoughts on becoming the 2012 Mr Illinois Champion.
Hi Mike, thank you for taking the time to take part in our interview. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you involved in fitness?
When I was a kid I was a big fan of Arnold and Sylvester Stallone movies. Rocky, Rambo, Commando and Predator to name a few. I also watched a lot of pro wrestling and became a big fan of Hulk Hogan. I wanted to look like these guys so for my 11th birthday I asked my mom for a workout set. At the time , Weider had a 17 lb weight set that came with an aluminium bar and 4 – 4.4 lb cement weights. I had a poster with illustrations of 10 basic moves and this is where it all started.
My mom told me once I could pick up the entire bar over my head with one hand that she’d get me more weights. This took a little while but I got it done. I purchased a Weider bench and a curl bar and had a pretty good home gym set up for myelf. I never missed a day of working out. As time went on I got more cement weights from my mom’s friends at work and eventually signed up at a local YMCA to take it to the next level.
In 7th and 8th grade and freshman year of high school I would walk 40 minutes after school to the YMCA everyday to get my workout in then I would walk another 45 minutes home at night. Once in awhile I got lucky and got a ride but not most of the time. I just loved going to the gym. I played all the sports, wrestling, football, baseball, basketball but weightlifting was the only one that I really enjoyed doing. Around this time I was at a bookstore and in the clearance bin was Arnold’s biography, Biography of a Bodybuilder. I bought it and read the entire book in two days. After that I knew what bodybuilding was and I started training like a bodybuilder.
One day a friend of mine told me I spent so much time in the gym that I might as well do a show. A local gym had a few flyers of upcoming shows posted on the bulletin board so I picked one out in the Summer of 93’ and started training for it. I took 2nd in the teenage class and after that I was hooked on the bodybuilding scene.
What made you decide to start Inside Natural Bodybuilding?
I think that the sport becomes more appealing to fans when they know the personalities of the sport. I also believe information is power and a lot of competitors have great information that people are interested in hearing but there really is no format for these competitors to get their information heard. Sure there are some magazines out there but bodybuilders and figure competitors deserve more exposure.
Thus I started my podcast Inside Natural Bodybuilding and my youtube channel (superhumanneumann) to help expose the personalities of our sport. It’s my way of doing something for the sport that helps keep those that follow the sport closely in the loop. I think from all the years of watching pro wrestling I’ve seen so many interviews conducted by Mean Gene Okerlund that I just had a natural knack for interviewing people. I’m sure I picked up some of his traits.
What would you say are the major differences between an enhanced bodybuilder and one who trains naturally?
I guess the obvious answer would be the enhanced bodybuilder will get bigger gains faster but in the end it all comes down to hard work in the gym and disciplined diet outside the gym. I’m not the worlds most sought after expert on training with the edge but from what I hear a drug free bodybuilder might have to limit the amount of cardio he does so he doesn’t risk burning muscle whereas an enhanced bodybuilder might not lose muscle so easily with the excess cardio. I’m sure all bodybuilders enhanced or not, all have the same love of lifting weights and training hard.
Would you say Natural Bodybuilding has changed over the past 10 years?
Absolutely… Natural bodybuilding has multiplied many times over the last 10 years in terms of number of shows promoted and competitors entering natural shows. 10 years ago you might have to drive a few states away to compete at a natural show and there were only a few natural shows a year in particular areas. Now you can find a natural show in almost every state every weekend of the year April through November.
What changes do you see happening in the future for Natural Bodybuilding?
There are more classes being offered such as bikini and mens physique and with the addition of these classes competitors are entering shows that otherwise wouldn’t have competed if it were just bodybuilding classes offered. This is helping increase competitor numbers all across the board and it’s helping create bigger shows which gives promoters more reason to keep promoting. I see natural bodybuilding continuing to grow as it has over the last 5 years with more prize money being offered in the pros.
You won the title for the Mr Illinois this year, how did it feel to win the contest and what shows are up next for you?
This particular show has been on my radar since I was a teen. I just like the sound of it. I competed in the Mr. Illinois twice before and fell short and I told myself I wouldn’t compete in it again until I knew I could dominate the competition. Almost every time I trained for years I would visualize winning this show and winning the Mr. Illinois was my drive to train so hard in the gym. When I won it was a sweet victory because there were some really good competitors in the show and I felt I worked hard for it. It was even better because my hometown crowd was there to see it, a lot of family, friends and clients came to watch and my little two year old daughter even climbed up on the stage and ran to me as I was receiving the overall sword. It was a cool night and I’ll never forget it.
I’m sure I’ll compete again at some point but I’m not in a rush. I like the niche I found for myself of covering the sport so I think I want to focus more on covering shows and getting the personalities of the sport out for the world to see. A bodybuilding reporter of sorts if you will. I also emcee a lot of bodybuilding shows so competing is taking a back seat for now so I can focus on those endeavors. The fire is still there though so when I get the urge I’ll be calling Cliff Wilson of teamwilsonbb.com to dial me in.
If someone wants to start competing, what tips would you give to them for getting their first step on stage?
You gotta get a prep coach. I’ve been to 35 shows over the last couple years and I’ve interviewed a majority of the overall winners. Not one time have I interviewed somebody that did it all on their own. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an amateur, pro or first time competitor you need somebody that specializes in contest prep to help walk you through not only for diet and training but also posing, what color to use, makeup, suit selection, show selection etc. Cliff Wilson’s guys win a lot of shows ( teamwilsonbb.com) Layne Norton of course ( biolayne.com) Brian Ahlstrom , Alex Ellis of The Complete Package, Jamie Keen for posing, John Gorman, Alberto Nunez of 3dmusclejourney.com and Dr. Joe Klemczewski are all great options.
You get to talk to a many of today’s top natural competitors, do you notice any similarities or differences between them?
They all compete for the love of the game. They all have regular jobs and some have families. Some are fortunate enough to win a few thousand dollars a year but in the end they all have normal lives to lead to support their families and they are working their meals and their training into their busy lifestyles filled with full time jobs.
How does your offseason and pre contest training and nutrition differ? do you believe a natural bodybuilder should bulk up between shows in the offseason?
I’ve always figured a bodybuilder should stay within 20 lbs of competition weight. Much more than that would mean a longer stricter diet. I’m not a fan of bulking in terms of gaining added muscle along with almost twice as much fat. John Gorman has a good video on youtube where he talks about reverse dieting and how to come off of a contest diet to lead in to an off season. Follow these methods and you’ll gain lean mass without added fat. This is what I believe a natural bodybuilder should do.
What about supplements? Do you use them? Which ones would you recommend for the natural athlete?
It’s hard to get all the nutrients you need in food intake alone so I rely on Sport whey protein, LEAN and Pro BCAA’s all from Pro Body Solutions. Probodysolutions.com. I drink the Pro BCAA’s during every workout. I like LEAN for pre contest because it has zero carb so I can get more carbs from bread and oatmeal and less from protein shakes. I use Sport when not dialing in for a show.
In your opinion who would you say is currently the best Natural Bodybuilder out there?
If I’m going off 2012, I’m going with Cleveland Thomas. He won the IFPA Yorton Cup for the 2nd year in a row and this year beat out Philip Ricardo Jr. Cleveland also won two other big pro shows going undefeated this year against some tough competition. He’s the most active pro competitor on the scene and I consider him the top dog right now. I believe Philip Ricardo Jr. is the greatest ambassador of natural bodybuilding because he has always competed in multiple organizations at the highest level. He has never limited himself to competing in only one organization. He’s competed back and forth in the NPC, NGA, Musclemania, INBA/PNBA and IFPA and has been a champion in all of these organizations. He carries himself the way all pros should and nobody treats their fans and fellow competitors with as much respect as Philip Ricardo Jr. does. He’s the classiest guy I’ve met in the sport.
Who are your favourite athletes, bodybuilders and fitness models?
Alex Ellis, Nicole Weeks, Nancy Andrews, Kiyoshi Moody, Philip Ricardo Jr., Ryan Doris, Rachel Baker, Kai Green, Branch Warren, Moji Oluwa, Terri McBee, Kim Chizevsky, Layne Norton, Cleveland Thomas, Kurt “The Animal” Weidner, Anthony Monetti and Alberto Nunez.
If Someone Wants To Connect With You How Can You Be Contacted?
Facebook is the best way to contact me. I’m pretty active on Facebook, I have a Twitter account as well that I need to get more active on. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for taking part in this interview Mike, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I love covering shows and working as an emcee. If you’re a promoter that would like me to emcee your upcoming show please contact me. I’ll keep the show moving so we get done at a good time and I will of course conduct my video interviews to highlight the competitors of your show and to also build up your show for next year.
Check out my youtube channel (superhumanneumann) for the of the videos I’ve done and also stay tuned to my Facebook page for events I have coming up. Thanks for reading my interview bodybuilding and figure fans… see you at future shows !!