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UK Bodypower Magazine

“California Carrero”

Art Zeller Interview with Joe Carrero
Photography by Art Zeller

Art Zeller: Well, here I am on another beautiful West Coast day, this time talking to a young man who has recently been doing well in California Bodybuilding. He told me earlier that he originally hails from Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York, but now resides here in Sunnyvale, California. Let’s get straight to the nitty-gritty, how long have you been training Joe, and why did you start?

Joe Carrero: Let’s see, I started when I was thirteen; I’m twenty six now, so about thirteen years I guess. When I began I trained at various New York gyms, Mario Strong Gym, Iron Den Gym, R & J Health Studio and Sports World. I worked out in New York right up to the point where I moved here in May of 85’. Why did I start? (A.Z. Joe looks thoughtful.) I have to credit that to good old Arnold, I just happened to pick up a copy of Muscle Builder magazine and there were three shots of him on the cover, side chest, most muscular and biceps pose. I did not know until now that you actually took those photographs! I played baseball in school but was not very good, I tried out for the football team but was too small, and I played street hockey, but it didn’t give me the buzz that I was looking for. So it was a combination of not being real good or enjoying any particular sport, and being picked on because of my size, that made me want to look like Arnold. I knew because of my height, (5’4” at the time), that I wouldn’t be able to influence my growth in that direction, (Joe points to the sky), but I could definitely increase my width!

A.Z.: Who taught you what to do once you had a barbell in your hands?

J.C.: Okay, the first few months all I did was ten sets of bench press, and ten sets of barbell curls. My chest and biceps responded immediately, but nothing else did, so I put together a full body routine by reading magazines and taking a bit from Franco Columbo, Frank Zane and Arnold’s schedules. By the time I was fifteen I entered my first show, the Mr. Staten Island, but unfortunately they didn’t have a category for teens. There were twenty two competitors and the next youngest to me was twenty one years old. I placed second overall! That evening they had the top three winners of all five boroughs including Mr. Staten Island competing for the Mr. New York City. Back then it was popular to give out awards for body parts, I won three, best back, best poser and best abdominals.

A.Z.: That must have been an exciting night, particularly since it was your first competition! What was the reaction of your family and friends?

J.C.: Although my family was very proud that I won, they could see how fanatical I had become and were concerned. I think it is important to have the support of people around you, and I am lucky to have the support of my family.

A.Z.: Tell me about your training philosophy, what you do and why?

J.C.: Over the years I’ve used every routine that you can possibly think of, but I’ve now nailed it down to where I know exactly what I have to do both in the gym and at the dinner table. I train on a four days on, one day off principle, first workout being quads and hamstrings by themselves, fifteen sets per muscle group. The second workout is chest and triceps again fifteen sets of each, and also on that day I train abs doing eight sets comprising of about fourteen hundred reps. My abs are thick enough, so I never add any weight. Back and biceps are trained on day three, again fifteen sets per muscle group.

Finally on day four I do shoulders including direct trap work and finish with calves and thirty minutes of cardio work. I do not believe that just because your lats are a large muscle group and your biceps comparatively smaller, that the biceps would require less sets because of there size. I always train the body symmetrically, doing the same amount of sets for each area.

A.Z.: I always ask people who train similar muscle groups together how they justify doing so. Do you not find that your arms are burnt out after fifteen sets of back work?

J.C.: Actually their not. I do my fifteen sets of back work, rest for about a quarter of an hour, then get right in there and just blast away on the biceps. I’ve found that this is the ultimate way for me to train. I do more demanding muscle groups first, and then the secondary muscle group is thoroughly warmed-up and ready to go! By the fourth workout of the week, my body is all burnt out, so by training the two smallest areas, delts and calves, this gives all of the other large muscle groups a break. The body parts are always trained in the same order, but I never know which exercises I am going to use until the evening before, or the actual morning of the workout. I generally do five sets of three different exercises, but again this may change when I am actually in the gym. Maybe I’ll do a leg workout today, which will differ from the next leg workout. I always do fifteen sets, not sixteen or fourteen, fifteen is the number, so I may start by pre-exhausting my quads with five sets of leg extensions, the do ten sets of hack squats to finish. The next time might be, three extensions, four hacks, four squats and finish with four more extensions, it changes every time. By using this method I never have to worry about getting stale, because every workout is different. It would really freak me out to have to go in and have to do the same routine over and over again. Variety keeps interest high, and the body growing! I’ve been doing a lot of super sets recently, by that I do not mean the conventional way of hitting one muscle group and then immediately moving on to another. I believe that super setting should be concentrated in one area only, for instance I’ll do a set of barbell curls then follow it immediately with seated dumbbell curls. That really hits the biceps!

A.Z.: What about your diet, what works for you?

J.C.: I still believe in bulking-up in the off season, I feel that a good fifteen or twenty pounds of body fat will help keep the muscles full, you’ll be less prone to injury and the tendons will be “lubricated” when lifting heavier weights, and that’s what builds the muscle tissue. I never crash diet, I start cutting my calories about four months out from a show, dropping about one hundred calories per day, until the last eight weeks when I enter the twilight zone of living hell, and carb deplete all the way down to four days before the show when I load up. I know that some people do not hold with the idea of off season bulking, but I’ve been up to two hundred twenty five pounds of bodyweight on my height of 5’6”. I was a little smooth okay, but a real power house!
In fact I did a little powerlifting, the guys in the gym were saying that as I was so strong in the off season, why not try my hand in a strength meet? So just as a joke I entered the Novice New Jersey Powerlifting Championships in the 220 lb. Class, weighing just about 218 lbs. When I arrived at the meet, all the other powerlifters said, “Oh, look it’s a Bodybuilder, come over here and I’ll show you how to put a weight lifting belt on!” Man, they gave me a hard time, but that was until we started lifting and I won my weight division! I managed a 655 lb. Squat, a 450 lb. Bench Press and a 660 lb. Deadlift! They shut up like clams!!

A.Z.: So what does you diet consist of?

J.C.: In the off season, I keep the calories real high depending on the day, usually between five and seven thousand calories rich in protein rich foods. Just prior to a show it’s a completely different story. I eat very, very clean. I believe in eating like the Gladiators did thousands of years ago having just single ingredient foods such as seafood, egg whites, grains, nothing with any additives at all. I’d like to eventually enter the pro ranks, I have been successful in most of my competitions, it’s just a matter of time! Every time I go into the gym I try to make it harder for myself, Bodybuilding is one of those sports where you can never afford to cruise. Take the foot off the gas just for a minute and everyone overtakes in the fast lane. I would never permit that to happen!!

Joe Carrero
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