Magazine Articles


Muscle Mag International

“Joe Carrero Breathes, Eats, Sleeps, Bodybuilding”

By Gayle Hall

A champion has to have certain attributes to become one in the first place. In bodybuilding you need genetic potential, lots of drive, a positive training environment… lots of things. And you can’t tell you’ve got these things in the right combination until you “test the water” for a time. The California State Bodybuilding Championships is a great testing ground. Come out on top at the Cal and you’ve got to assume the tools you’re working with are superior to those of the vast majority of your athletic peers.

One psychological attribute is as valuable as any of the physiological ones. It’s as valuable as low latissimus insertions, natural diamond-shaped calves, or 16-inch arms the day you first walk into a gym. Joe Carrero, 1990 California State Light Heavyweight Champion, has unbridled enthusiasm! Joe likes bodybuilding. He loves it! He lives it!

No different from any other state champ, you say. Well, he is. It takes a few minutes to pick it up while speaking with him. First, you have to get through the remnants of his New York accent, having spent his life there until moving out west in 85’. Then you have to realize the difference between “unbridled” enthusiasm and “unrestrained” enthusiasm. Carrero has poise and maintains composure as naturally as champagne has bubbles. He’s got plenty of natural effervescence, but he keeps his cork in.
Those bubbles are important. They mean the difference between being a good bodybuilder, without a job, and a good bodybuilder who can earn a good living in the business. Carrero, 26, is an exercise consultant in California. His ability to relate and communicate with others keeps his client base strong. The right combination of knowledge and enthusiasm adds value to an investment in fitness, and Carrero’s clients receive impressive appreciation on their investments.

Carrero started weight training as a young teenager, but he sure didn’t have 16-inch arms on the day of his first workout. At 13 years of age he was 5’4” in height and weighed a whopping 93 pounds. Today, at 5’6”, he competes at 197 lbs.

It’s easy for a kid to summon up the motivation for something like weight training, living in New York. You stand a good chance of getting the crap beat out of you on a daily basis. A guy’s got to do something. By the time he was 15, he was ready to enter his first show. He placed second among 22 open division competitors at the Dan Lurie WBBG Mr. Staten Island, winning trophies for best back, best abdominals, and best poser. Muscle Training Illustrated editor, Denie Walters, with Mario Strong wrote him up as “Joe Carrero, The 15 Year-Old Muscle Wonder!” With that kind of introduction to the sport, Joe’s destiny was cast.

In 1981 he won the Teenage Mr. Colonial America. In 82’ he won the Teenage Mr. North Atlantic. In 83’ he placed third at the Teen Nationals. In 84’ he won the Mr. New England States. There were lots more titles, too, but Joe began to realize that California was where the real bodybuilding action was. He made the migration in 85’, settling in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bodybuilding would receive his total, undivided attention. His mind-set was unequivocal. He picked a contest, trained like crazy, then blew a hamstring and could not walk for the next three months.

As soon as his leg healed, Carrero was at it again. Things were coming along nicely when one day, while doing incline bench presses on a Smith machine with a short bench that supported his upper traps, but not his head, he herniated a disc between the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae. Joe relates his situation immediately after the injury: “Within two weeks my left pec, latissimus and triceps had atrophied to the point where there was nothing left. I went to three chiropractors and one of the best neurologists in the area. They said I had done so much damage to the nerves that those muscles would never come back. And I mean I really had nothing left! I’d only been in California for just over a year, all set on pursuing my bodybuilding career, and here I’m walking out of a doctor’s office with a neck brace on, because I couldn’t support the weight of my own head, and assured by the professionals that I was finished. Forever.”

The neurologist wanted Carrero on a physiotherapy program under his supervision, but Joe had had enough negativity, warranted or not. He decided to handle things himself. First he rested. After three months, the pain subsided and he went back to the gym. He couldn’t complete a set of 10 fly’s with the 10- lb. dumbbells, but at least he was functioning. Day by day he improved. After nine months of his own therapy program, he regained full function and hypertrophy on the affected side. He entered the Mr. San Francisco and won! “That felt so good.” says Joe, “After being told I’d never recover.” In 1988 he made it to the Nationals by winning the Tournament Of Champions in Fontana, California. He placed ninth out of 34 in his class at the Nationals – not what he’d planned for, but at least he was in the top 10 Nationally on his first try. His next goal is to eventually turn Professional. “I will get there,” says Joe, “I won’t stop until I do.”

“At a Pro level, I feel I could compete for 10 to 15 years, but I know you just sort of ride the wave at that point and stay with it as long as people still want to see you. When your time is over, I think it is fairly easy to recognize. Bodybuilding is a mental challenge as well as a physical one. People think you just go into the gym, lift the weights, and that it’s strictly physical. That is not true. If your mind is not into it, your body won’t respond. I like the mental progress you can and must make as well as the physical.”

He’s got idols in the sport of course. “Well, Arnold Schwarzenegger is my idol. He’s the perfect example of being able to do anything you want in your life. He moved to this country at age 19 or 20, not even knowing the language, and look where he is now…it’s incredible!”

Carrero competes to win, every time. To win is a great reward, but it’s not the only reward. “I never, ever cheat on my diet, and I never, ever leave the gym before I’ve completed my entire workout. I could not sleep at night if I did. The best feeling I can have is to walk out on stage at the pre-judging knowing I’ve done everything I could have to the best of my ability. From there on, it’s up to the judges. I always hope to be favored by their assessments, but I always know I can take pride in my own efforts. No one can judge what I can clearly see with my own two eyes in the mirror!”

Joe Carrero
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