Magazine Articles


Iron Man Magazine

“The Point Of No Return”
Bodybuilding Is A Blast For California’s Joe Carrero

By Ruth Silverman / Photography By Art Zeller

Joe Carrero has a lot of colorful phrases for the way he likes to blast his muscles. Take, for example, his penchant for super setting exercises of like body parts.

“I believe in doing one muscle and burning it to the Point Of No Return,” chuckled the 5’6” 197-pound Light Heavyweight Winner at the 90’ NPC California State Championships. For legs, for example, he might superset leg extensions with hack squats, he said, “doing the leg extensions first to pre-exhaust the quads. Then by doing the hack squats, you’re getting assistance from the groin area, the gluteus and the hamstrings, and you just blow it out all the way.”

Carrero has long since passed the Point Of No Return when it comes to the sport of bodybuilding. The 26 year-old native of New York, started pumping iron 13 years ago, initially because he was 5’4’’ and 93 pounds, “and unfortunately, I was the one that everyone picked on.”

Not long after Joe got his first look at Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I picked up a Muscle Builder magazine, and there were three poses of him – a side chest, a most muscular and a double biceps on the cover…I wanted to look just like him and be just like him. And once I got my hands on a barbell, I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

And so he made it his life. Carrero’s first contest was the 79’ Mr. Staten Island. It was a Men’s show – there were no Teen contests back then – but the 15-year old rookie placed second Overall, and in the competition for Mr. New York City, held that some night, “I took three of the seven body part awards, best back, best abdominals and best poser…It really made me pursue bodybuilding even further and just keep going after it.”
Over the years Joe has come to believe that “bodybuilding, by far, is the most difficult sport…A football player once he leaves the field, that’s it. When a bodybuilder leaves the gym, it’s not over. He knows what he has to eat everyday. It’s a 25-hour-a-day job!” Fortunately, Carrero has in abundance two qualities that are essential in this difficult field – persistence and heart.

Between 81’ and 84’ he “won a lot of Teenage shows…the Teenage Metropolis Championships, in New York, the Teenage Mr. Colonial America, the Teenage Mr. Big Apple, the Junior Mr. Metropolitan, the Mr. New England States and many more.” In 85’ Joe came out to California for a vacation, and after four weeks Joe decided to stay, returning to New York only long enough to pack his bags.
While Carrero is living the bodybuilding lifestyle – and loving it – Joe knows he will not be an overnight success when he finally earns his Pro-Card, a long-sought-after dream. Even so, the will to keep on plugging and the heart to overcome debilitating injuries will not go unrewarded.

Carrero placed second in his class at the Russ Warner Northern California Bodybuilding Classic, then spent the 86’ season sidelined by a double dose of trouble that almost ended his career permanently. First was a torn hamstring suffered nine days before a big show for which he was training. Then, shortly after he began working out again, “I was doing Incline Smith Machine Presses, and I herniated the disc between my fifth and sixth vertebrae.”
The result was some nerve damage and paralysis of the left side, and “within two weeks after the injury my pectorals, my latissimus and my triceps atrophied to where you could not see the muscle anymore.” Numerous doctors told Carrero he would “never be able to regenerate these nerves or get the muscle groups back.” Joe did not believe them.

Three months later, when he was feeling a little bit better, “I went into the gym…and I rehabilitated myself. And six months after that I won the 87’ San Francisco Championships.”
In 88’ he took the Overall at the Tournament Of Champions, placed ninth at the Men’s Nationals and in 89’ finished second to Ken “Flex” Wheeler at the California State Championships. In 90’ Joe won the California State Championships in the Light Heavyweight Class.

“I’m paying my dues,” Joe explained, “I’ve had some real good shows…and I’ve had some real controversial decisions. And in bodybuilding that’s just part of it. A bodybuilder has 100 percent control up until the second you walk up on that platform,” he laughed again, “And once you walk out there, it’s totally out of your hands.”
Fortunately again for Joe Carrero, he is a man who loves the process of the sport as well as the rewards. “When I started training, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I did 10 sets of Bench Press and 10 sets of Barbell Curls everyday. My chest started growing, my biceps started growing, but nothing else did.” Joe started reading the stars’ routines in the magazines and after more than a decade of trial and error “over the past three years I’ve nailed it down to where I know exactly what I have to do.”

He trains on a four-on / one-off schedule: quadriceps and hamstrings on one day; pectorals, triceps and abs, day two; latissimus, biceps, day three; and deltoids, trapezius and calves, day four. The magic number is 15 sets for all body parts except abs, for which “I try to keep the sets down to eight and a total of 1,300 to 1,500 repetitions per week. My Abs are thick enough, and I don’t do any weighted exercises, just repetitions.”

Carrero never plans exactly what exercises he will do for each workout, just that he will do 15 sets for each muscle group in the order above. “I usually start the exercise with a high-rep set, about 20, just to get the tendons warmed up, and get a lot of blood inside the muscle. Then I pyramid up, and once I reach a max weight, I go on to the next exercise. And I go as low as four to six reps – even training for competition…but there are always 12-to-20 rep sets in there because…I find that a combination of both in every workout will keep the muscles hard and etched and keep them big at the same time.” Even on these high-rep work sets he believes in maxing out to “where I can’t do 21 reps.”

In the ongoing process of blasting his body, Carrero prefers to work like rather than opposing body parts on the same day, doing legs, “the hell workout,” on day one and always working the hardest body part first. “By the fourth workout my body is very burned out, very sore, very fatigued; so by doing the two smallest muscle groups on the fourth workout – deltoids and calves – it gives the larger muscle groups a break.”

“You workout hard, you diet properly, and that’s what it takes to become a Champion!”

Joe Carrero
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