Interview With Bodybuilder & Powerlifter Rob Carbo Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - October 2007 As Published in Real Gainz Magazine
Rob Carbo is one of the best bench pressers in the world for his age and weight division. He has competed in the APA, APC, APF, UPA and USPL. He also has interviewed some of the best Full Contact Fighters, Fitness Models, powerlifters and bodybuilders in the world. Rob is also a known writer in this industry and he will have his own Fitness TV show coming out really soon. Well, I was lucky enough to go inside the great mind of Rob Carbo as he makes headlines once again. Let's step into the mind of this strength icon and see what he has to say!
BT: Rob it's great to have you with us today! Please tell us about yourself.
RC: My name is Rob Carbo. I'm 5'10" and app 235 right now...I've lifted at 275, 259 WABDL and 242...I am going down to 220 to try (going to) to break the APA,APC,APF, UPA and USPL world's records this summer in the 50-54 age group!!! I also am an interviewer/reporter for bodybuilding.com and I have a new Fitness T.V. show coming out!
BT: Damn! World Record holder, interviewer/reporter and having your own TV show! What a resume! Hey, tell us about the new Fitness TV Show that you will be doing.
RC: The fitness show is going to be called "The Body and Spirit of Fitness" The cast so far is myself, Fitness and glamour model, trainer and ex Figure competitor Monica Starr. Also Elise Penn, a nutrition expert, personal trainer, NPC Figure competitor and model will be on the show. Our Producer is a multi talented man from Texas named Mark Dildine. Mark has many years experience in TV, runs his own radio show and is a photographer. It's not going to be just another "muscle head" show. We want it to cover all aspects of the fitness world. We'll cover everything from children's sports and activities on up to seniors.
We will have enough celebrities from the fitness and sports world to keep it interesting. Monica has shot a little demo interview with Hall of Fame Baseball star Reggie Jackson. Also such people as Scot Mendelson, Gina Ostarly, Charles Glass, possibly Jesse Marunde and people from all walks of the sports and fitness industry. My partner Elise Penn may have some members of the San Diego Chargers are interested in appearing. We hope to have top competitors from the UFC and from track & field, biking, gymnastics almost everything. Although we will have some top names from the sports world, the object of the show is to bring well balanced physical fitness and nutrition into all homes to show the Joe and Jane averages how to stay in shape!
BT: This is awesome Rob! Awesome! Let me ask you, if you were in the WWE or a big movie, what role would you play? What would you be like ?
RC: Ha ha!! That's a good question... In talking about the upcoming fitness show we are going to be doing. We've talked about me taking on a Hulk Hogan kind of persona working with little kids. You know a say your prayers take your vitamins kind of thing. Something along those lines.......
That's to all my CarboManiac's out there! haha
BT: Rob, if you could MAIN EVENT against anyone at WRESTLEMANIA who would you Main Event against?
RC: At this stage of the game it would have to be one of the ring girls!!
BT: ha-ha! Well, Rob if you have came so far to even be asked such questions! Rob who have you interviewed and what was that experience like?
RC: I have interviewed Reggie Jackson, Gina Ostarly, and Monica Starr. I have interviews set up with Scot Mendelson, Mike Wolfe, the beautiful Nicole Ferriera, Rich Franklin hopefully Chuck Liddell and many more
BT: Not many people get to interview guys like Chuck Liddell! Holy cow! Outside of interviewing and writing what are some of your future goals?
RC: My goals in the gym are to try to break some world's records in the bench press 50-54 220lb class in the upcoming year and to co-host a fitness show. I also plan on coming out with my own workout clothing line CARBOWEAR. I'd also like to get a sponsor...hint. Hint anyone out there.
Rob, Gina & Ben
The fitness shows I want to help all people in all age groups stressing all forms of exercise not just pushing iron. I'd like to help people and make a difference.
BT: Being an expert into the world of strength, what world record impresses you the most?
RC: Mendy's. Mendy is one of my closest friends so my answer is going to be a little biased. His raw record is very, very impressive, especially considering the fact that he didn't concentrate on raw training all that long to do it. I think if he really trained his raw bench for a period of time he could bench 800 raw. Look for Mendy to bench 1,100lbs this year!!
BT: Let me ask, what has been your favorite moment so far in weight lifting, most memorable moment, craziest moment, funniest moment, and most powerful moment?
RC: My favorite moment hmmmm!! That's tough. I think my favorite moment in weightlifting happened many, many moons ago...I just started weight lifting in after high school. Back then it was taboo to lift weights for sports. It would make you slow and muscle-bound. Ha-ha!! Well I started to squat with some weightlifters at a local YMCA. I had been lifting for about a month and I got in the squat rack with these big lifters and I squatted 425lbs. I think only one other guy beat me. That was a good time.
Most memorable-It happened at the 2005 WABDL world championships. I had to lose 4lbs in 2hrs to make weight. I lost 5lbs like a dope. LOL!! I re-hydrated and put 12lbs back on but I guess I hadn't hydrated properly. I hurt my shoulder on my opener, got pinned by the same weight on my second lift. Then went up about 20lbs on my third to try for the championship and some how through the grace of God I hit it and won.
Craziest- The craziest I think was at my first meet late in 1999. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know how I was supposed to get psyched up for my lifts. I'm normally quiet before I lift. I saw guys getting slapped, ramming their heads against the wall, banging themselves in the head with plates and bars. Then all of a sudden this one lifter started making this whining roaring leopard in heat kind of sound. I laughed and relaxed and said let me just be me and shut the hell up.
Funniest- The first time I tried on a bench shirt. Matt Lamarque and Steve Wong were putting it on me. It was an Inzer poly pullover. It took a half an hour to get the damn thing on me; by the time I lifted I was dead. I know they were too from tugging so much. Remember I was used to lifting bodybuilder style, you know arms out to the side. They told me to keep my elbows in. Yeah sure I thought, whatever the hell that means. Well here I go elbows out wide like I was doing the dead mans float and the bar got stuck. I couldn't go up, I couldn't go down. They were yelling at me to stop screwing around and I thinking get this thing off me before my arms fall off!!
It's funny now...not then!!
Most powerful- I have to say the most powerful things I've seen were all done by my friends.
*Steve Wong benching 881lbs in a single ply shirt
* Lamarque benching 771lbs @ 220.
*Tiny Meeker benching 948 @ the 2006 Mendy classic 308lb class
*Phil Davi pulling 753lbs as a junior weighing 220
* Watching my buddy Scot Mendelson bench 712 lbs breaking Big Jim Williams and James Hendersons Raw bench press records. He went on to do 715 a few years later and also I was on stage at the Iron man when Mendy benched 1008 in 2006.
BT: Wow! What you've had some entertaining and awesome moments as a lifter. Talk about your athletic/strength journey as a kid and your evolution into a hardcore bodybuilder and 500+ bench presser that you are today. Talk about the first time you benched 135 225, 315, 405, & 500 and what it took to get there, what each experience was like and what you learned after you achieved all of those mile stones.
RC: Ben you are forgetting my age. I can't even remember what I had for breakfast let alone ancient history.
RC: Let's see. 135- 135.. Back then I was lifting on the old Sears plastic weight sets with the sand in them. So having not used an Olympic set.....nada.
225- I did 225 I think when I was a sophomore in HS. At the time that was a big deal.
I wasn't really a good bencher. You know elbows out to the side, close grip almost hitting myself in the throat. I think I hit 315 my senior year in HS.
405- I hit 405 when I was in my twenties but then injuries started to take their toll and I didn't hit it again until the late 90's and that was with a shirt.
500- I benched 500 2002 at WABDL meet and that was a huge thrill for me.
After hitting those milestones I realized I should have listened to my Mother more and did better in school!! lol!!!
BT: Very impressive! You strong freak of nature! Tell us about your training routine, diet and about the supplements you take.
I train 5 days a week. Unless getting ready for a comp. I'll do my heavy bench work with some triceps one day. Then do squat and deadlift work the next. I'll take a day off and my next three workouts are light bodybuilding style stuff. chest/shoulders/ tris, abs- next day back ,bi's, obliques next day legs, lower back. These days are all light to get the blood pumping for recovery. Active recovery so to speak!!
My diet depends on what I'm training for. I try to keep my protein between 1.5 and 2gms per lb of bodyweight and eat some form of protein every 2 1/2 to 3 hrs.
Now as I'm getting older (yikes), my body seems to like to stay around the 250lb range. My body is very carbohydrate sensitive. So my diet depends on what I am competing in and what weight class I'm in. Say for instance, when I competed in the 275lb class in powerlifting. I would eat anything, LOL!! I tried to get in up to a gallon of whole milk a day. I would eat tons of eggs, red meat, potatoes, pasta (I am Italian), bread and cheese. My favorite breakfast was eggo's with peanut butter and Mrs. Butterworth syrup, some eggs and a couple of glasses of milk. That was a lot of protein as well as calories. I couldn't hold onto the weight though. I would go to bed in the mid 270's and wake up in the morning 8 to 10 lbs lighter and soaked and wet. My metabolism would just take off and I would sweat all night. My girlfriend at the time said "why can't you just be regular and just workout? Why do you always have to compete"? I don't think she was too crazy about sleeping next to a blast furnace! That was when I first started powerlifting in 2000 & 2001...
I've been gradually cutting weight since then. At one time or another I had the W.A.B.D.L. California state bench press record for my age group in 3 weight classes. I benched 499.5 @ 275, 507 @ 259 and 518 @ 242. So in some weird way I've been getting stronger as I've been getting lighter and older. LOL!!
I generally respond better to a lower carbohydrate diet. I think I am very carbohydrate sensitive and that's why it is so easy for me to drop or add weight. To a point that is....I think in bodybuilding it hurts me because once I hit that point where you really need to be disciplined. I'm not because it was always so easy for me. I know I'm going off on a tangent here but I generally don't mix carbs and fats in the same meal. I know that you are always going to get some carbs or fats but if I'm eating a big juicy steak I'll stay away from the potatoes. If I'm eating clean meal say oatmeal for breakfast, I'll stay away from the fats. At least that is the plan but sometimes the mind is willing but the flesh is weak.
As far as supplements go I try to get in as much food as possible but we all know it's next to impossible and unrealistic to eat real food every 3 hrs., so this is where supplements come into play, I am looking for a sponsor by the way (shameless begging! ha-ha!). I take in protein drinks, glutamine, a multi vitamin, Ibuprofen ( on heavy lifting days), glucosamine and chondroitin- when I'm not lazy and don't run out. At my age these last 2 help the most. Once and a while I'll take some creatine. It really puts the weight on me but being so carbohydrate sensitive. The amount of sugar in them to get the insulin release to make them effective almost gives me a nauseating buzz. I also take a pre-workout drink or tablets on heavy days to get myself going.
BT: Good answer. You're an original character. So, compare your thoughts about bodybuilding to powerlifting?
RC: Bodybuilding is all about proportion and aesthetics....I still believe the stronger bodybuilder is a better bodybuilder but that's just me. The bad thing in my opinion is you are at your weakest on the day you compete. You're all depleted and weak. It is such a subjective sport that you never know what the judges are looking for. Size?? Cuts??
Powerlifting on the other hand, you are hypothetically at your strongest on competition day. That is if you didn't leave your fight in the gym and have to kill yourself to make weight. What appealed to me about powerliftng is that if you're stronger, you win and if I'm stronger I win. Unfortunately powerlifting judging seems to be a little subjective also and a high squat for one lifter isn't necessarily a high squat for another. There seems to be some home cooking sometimes.
BT: Rob, How do you see the future of powerlifting and how do you see the future of bodybuilding? Do you think the future will be better or worse in general?
RC: I hate to say this and I hate to be negative but in a way I have to say worse. So many wonderful things have happened, nutrition, training, OTC supplements. You can gain knowledge now with just a click of your fingers. Get on that computer and peck away...you can get somebody's opinion on EVERYTHING but with that being said.....some bad comes with it. There is sooo much B.S. on the internet what's an impressionable young person to believe?? And so many hard working sacrificing people have built incredible bodies over the years. Now however the internet and drugs are so readily available that I feel hard work and sacrifice have been taken over by the prevalence of pharmaceuticals and short cuts, for some certainly not for all.
BT: Great points! On that note, Rob what's your advice for the beginner, intermediate and pro powerlifter? And what's your advice for the beginner, intermediate and pro bodybuilder?
RC: Beginner powerlifters- Beginner powerlifters I think need to learn the fundamentals and that Rome wasn't built in a day. Don't expect too much too soon and don't give up on yourself. In the beginning strength increases come fast but as we all know....sooner or later you hit the wall. STAY POSITIVE!!
Learn the bio-mechanics of each lift. The shortest route between 2 points is a straight line. Unfortunately that is something I am still learning. My problem was (is) that I lifted for so many years in bodybuilding fashion and bodybuilding form. Yes I was always trying to get bigger and stronger, doing what today would be considered powerbuilding (BUT and this is a big but). I didn't realize the difference in form and technique between powerlifters and bodybuilders.
In bodybuilding you want to do full range movements in a slow controlled manner, especially the negative portion of the movement. In powerlifting, you want to go the shortest distance possible, while successfully completing the lift, in the shortest time possible. Power = strength X's speed!!
Develop your raw strength. With the advent of all the equipment today, it seems powerlifters have become more technicians than strength athletes. I think the beginner powerlifter needs to build a solid foundation of strength and then learn the in and outs of all the supportive gear.......unfortunately for me I was 186 yrs old when I started to powerlift and my foundation strength had already started to crumble. LOL!!
Intermediate powerlifter- For intermediates, I would learn the equipment. Now that you know you're strong and weak points and what form works best for you. If you are a straight up and down squatter for instance maybe polyester or some sort of material with some give to it is best for you. If the super wide, butt back, sitting into it kind of squatting suits you better, then maybe a canvas suit would be best.
Also with all the federations out there, pick the one(s) that best fit your needs and wants and use the equipment that is allowable in that federation. Single ply, double ply, multi-ply, polyester, denim, canvas, monolift!!
What weight class should you compete in?? If you have to fight too much at this stage of the game, you may be sacrificing strength. This is experiment time see what works best for you....
Pick a powerlifting system, experiment- There are many systems and hybrids of each system eg. Westside, overload, Metal Militia etc. find out which works best for you!!!
The advanced power lifter... hmmmm I'm going to have to guess here...ha-ha!!
By now you should have all your ducks in a row!! By that I mean, your form, routine, weight, etc should be old hat by now. You should have all your technical stuff down pat. The mental aspect is the biggest thing here. Learning that anything can and probably will happen to you during your powerlifting career. Victories......will happen. Championships, if you've done your homework or gym work....will happen. Records, if your one of the best....will happen. So too will close defeats, miss loads, bomb outs, injuries or in the immortal words of Murphy........"Anything that can happen will happen and at the worst possible time".
An example of this is when I first met who was to become one of my closest friends and The Greatest Bencher of All Time, Scot Mendelson. I met Scot in the year 2000 at the APF Cal. State Powerlifting Championships run by Joe Avigliano's L.A. Lifting Club. At this meet Scot then a not quite as large as now 275 lb Raw Bencher dropped close to six hundred lbs from near lockout right on to his upper body. You could literally see his chest and ribcage concave. As he lies there motionless everyone was wondering is this guy going to be alright?? That and when is he going to move?? The lifters are getting cold!! as Rodney Dangerfield would say " tough crowd...tough crowd".........He returned a few hours later with nothing more than a bruised ego and some bruised ribs to go with it (Sorry! had to Brotha). The reason I am telling you this is not to prove the toughness of my friend Scot BUT that ANYTHING CAN and WILL happen. The best advice I can give here is to stay the course and stay POSITIVE!!!
Beginner bodybuilder- The beginning bodybuilder I would suggest the same as I would the beginner in any sport or endeavor. Learn the fundamentals!! Learn the proper form in each exercise and learn to work each part of each muscle group. By this I mean for example if you are doing three exercises for your triceps you want to do something that hits each head. Not three different versions of basically the same exercise. Learn about nutrition!! Read all you can about the macro-nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats. Learn what each does for your body.
Intermediate bodybuilder- Now is when you have to start putting things together. You have already learned how the human body works, the ins and outs of exercise and nutrition. NOW you need to learn how YOUR body works. Exactly what exercises work best for you. What training system works best for you?? Ex, Volume training, H.I.T., high reps, high sets, and 6 day's a week or does 5 or 4 work better for you?? Diet!! Which diet works best for you?? High protein, high carb, low fat??? Or does high fat low carb work better for your particular metabolic type. How much cardio do you need?? Do you cardio and diet your body fat down or do you just diet?? Everybody is different.....LEARN ABOUT YOU!!
Advanced bodybuilder- Again like in any other sport or activity, you should know your body like the back of your hand. Which workout split? Which diet? What supplements are best for you? Cardio?? The who, what, where's and when of YOU should be answered by now. This is the where the mental aspect comes into play. Don't kid yourself be honest with yourself and your goals. Stay positive, stay focused, stay the course. There are one and only one you. When you take that stage know that you gave the best you had and let the cards fall where they may......
BT: Rob it's been great talking to you. Is there anyone who you would like to thank or anything else that you would like to add?
RC: I would like to THANK ALL the people I previously mentioned. Scot Mendelson www.scotmendelson.net , Steve Wong Matt Lamarque www.bovinestrengthsystems.com
for showing me what powerlifting and especially bench pressing is all about. Phil Davi, Andre Plachon and Dan Tubridy for at one time or another and for different reasons came to my gym to help me out. Gina Ostarly www.ginaostarly.com for showing me what a true professional and friend is, no matter how busy or hectic her schedule is. Gina ALWAY'S finds the time to answer all my stupid emails and not make me feel so stupid. Monica Starr well.......for being Monica Starr www.monicastarr.net !! Tammy Renee the owner/President of Real Gainz Fitness Magazine www.realgainz.com for believing in me and giving me my chance to get some publicity. If it weren't for Tammy I doubt we would be doing this interview. I'd also like to thank My best friend/confidant Fern Asssard, remember that name folks...she's incredible. A mother of 4, hard working woman, who is rapidly making a name for herself in the fitness world. Bodybuilding.com already has her doing a video series. She just started working out in Nov 06, so get ready!! She can be found @ http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/MsFitness68/ . A little unabashed advertising for my friends....I love all these guy's and gal's!!
I'd also like to thank you Ben for doing this interview with me and giving me this opportunity! I will return the favor and interview you! I also want to thank Mike Westerdal from www.criticalbench.com for publishing this interview. I can be contacted at myspace.com/robcarbo or http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/carbonics/ . Oh!! I'll add one more thing.......hmmmm When do I get paid!! LOL !!! Any sponsors out there I'm a publicity slut!!! Am I allowed to say that??? Thanks again!!