The Rich Gaspari Seminar & Posing - Video Review.
A GMV Productions Film by Wayne Gallasch
Video Review by Matt Canning.
Interview, Posing and Seminar - 100 minutes.
Seminar and Posing Filmed in Adelaide, South Australia in 1987.
The DVD started off with a preview of what was to come in the DVD with some eighties music playing in the background. Rich was looking incredible and it gave a good impression for the seminar's contents.
First up, Rich was being interviewed and explained how he was happy to be in Australia and then talked about his career as well as the bodybuilding industry.
After the brief interview described above was completed, the seminar began. Rich was received well by the crowd from down under. The interviewer explained that Rich was the most popular bodybuilder in the world and that he saw his popularity with his own eyes when visiting USA. Rich was in my mind the most impressive bodybuilder of the eighties.
While Lee Haney beat him, I would argue that Rich deserved to win in 1987 and a good argument can be made for other years also (1986 or 1988). He looked absolutely insane in 1987 and was the most impressive bodybuilder on stage.
Had Rich been 5'11 and 1/2 like Lee Haney I think he definitely would have won. But being 5'8 and 1/2, those three inches made the difference in my mind. Although Lee Haney had a superior shape, he looked soft compared to Rich and was not as muscular - defining muscularity not in terms of sheer size, but size in relation to frame size as well as overall conditioning (like Andreas Munzer).
A question was asked to Rich about how he felt about training in New Jersey and Rich explained that it wasn't necessary to live in California to succeed in bodybuilding. He said he was still able to remain in contacts with his connections in the industry and find success even residing in New Jersey. He also said that the pollution wasn't a major problem and not as bad as people may have thought it was.
It would make sense that some in Australia may hold that thought, since it is world's apart from the USA. Tom Platz told his Auckland, New Zealand audience in his seminar DVD that California was very polluted and he was happy to visit Australia because of the fresh clean air.
Rich discussed training and explained that starting young in life is beneficial because there are less things to get sidetracked with as a kid in terms of responsibilities. For example, less financial or family obligations than what you may run into as an adult. Because Rich started training at 14 and competing at 16, he moved up the bodybuilding ladder slowly in steps and it became a lifestyle for him so that by the time he was an adult he was used to it.
Rich was aware of his potential for bodybuilding due to his success at a young age, but still went up in gradual steps - starting at the local teenage level, then going to the local men's level, then state level, regional level, and finally the national level. 1984 was his year where he turned 21 in May and became pro that year, as well as Mr. Universe. By 1985, he was displaying ridiculous size and conditioning at the Night of Champions.
Rich explained that he wasn't very social as a kid and that he was not involved with sports in high school and that he liked training with weights because it was independent and he didn't have a coach over his shoulder telling him what to do.
On the business front, Rich Gaspari talked about some of his ventures including endorsement contracts in the industry and he also talked about the three bodybuilding videos he had out at the time. Later on in life, Rich would come up with Gaspari Nutrition, which is now a national company. He has said that business is his new "Mr. Olympia" and he enjoys the challenge much like he did as a competitor.
Lee Haney said it best about Rich, he was not as balanced as he was. Lee did not mean this in terms of physique development but in terms of mentality. Rich was all bodybuilding. He literally had blinders on and Lee said that it was for that reason that Rich couldn't beat him. I happen to completely disagree with this statement.
Rich took his potential way beyond the level Lee took his to, and if they both had the same genetics, Rich would have beat Lee. As I said, Rich made Lee look soft, as Lee's conditioning was not even close to that of Rich. Not to mention his muscularity. At the end of the day, Lee Haney would always beat Rich but only due to his superior shape thank to his genetics - not due to Lee's laid back and balanced mentality. No disrespect to Lee, but maybe he underestimated his own genetics.
Rich said his best feeling was when he won the Mr. Universe and it was even more satisfying to him than winning the 1986 Pro Mr. World. I think the reason for this is because he knew he won the Mr. World the moment he stepped on the stage. Mike Christian said in an interview on the day of the contest that he expected to win first or second (he placed second).
But when Rich was interviewed, he had absolutely no doubt in his mind that he won. Rich said at other times that he was literally just going through the time lapse during that show and again stated that he felt he won it from the minute he stepped on stage. For that reason, I can see why the Mr. Universe was a more satisfying win for him since he perhaps didn't expect to win it.
Next Rich explained that he felt isotension was the secret to his muscle hardness. He said he would spend hours a day practicing his posing. He would practice this posing and squeezing of his muscles which he said brought out cuts and striations. He said that was the reason for his striated glutes. Well I'm unsure of the accuracy of that statement, I do agree that posing and tensing definitely helps and Rich was a much better poser than plenty of the bodybuilders today.
Rich's first guest posing on the DVD was up next. Rich was HUGE. He appeared to be in perfect contest shape to me as if he could win a show at that exact time. I didn't notice any acne on his back that he had later in the year at the 1987 Mr. Olympia which would make me wonder how he tweaked his cycles.
Rich said that taking criticism was a big reason for him becoming a good poser and a successful bodybuilder. I will go further to say that this is great advice for success in life in general. If you can take criticism and acknowledge your weak points you will be all the better for doing so. I think that despite Rich's incredible self confidence, having this quality was able to keep him hungry and humble and not simply rely on his genetics.
Lee Haney and Bob Paris were not arrogant or anything like that, but they were two bodybuilders who I think relied on their genetics more than anything. Bob was always eloquent and explained that he felt the male physique should be developed in a certain way, and he seems honest enough to actually mean that and not just be using it as an excuse for not achieving top condition. He stated this in an interview during the 1986 Pro World.
When the topic of nutrition was brought up, Rich said that he did count calories and he was very specific about his nutritional intake and what various nutrients do to the body. What surprised me is that he said in the off-season he only ate 3,500 calories (!!). He said that during a diet for a contest he would eat as low as 2,500 calories. He explained the tweaking process for his diet and when asked how he could maintain his muscle mass on so few calories, he said that his metabolism was very slow which did not make sense to me because he was in excellent condition year round and was perhaps the best conditioned bodybuilder of all time.
To put things in perspective, eighties amateur champion Joe Meeko would eat upwards of 7,000 to 10,000 calories per day and even 8,000 calories per day when on a diet! Joe said he would wake up in the morning 10 pounds lighter than when he went to bed, and that he would shrink like crazy if he went off this diet.
Rich explained that he did not know a lot of the other competitors very personally and sometimes would only see them on the day of the show, although people would often ask him about other bodybuilding superstars like Tom Platz and Albert Beckles because they would see all of them together in the magazines. When the topic of drug testing was brought up, he said that it was good for bodybuilding to remove drugs from the amateur ranks and that younger bodybuilders should not be using them.
By the time in the seminar when Rich started discussing his training in more depth, I was not at all surprised with the results - Rich trained very hard. I would say another pro training as hard as him at the time (by his own admission at least) would have been Mike Christian. I also think it's safe to say that both possibly trained harder than Lee Haney, and in 1987, I think you could argue that either Rich or Mike could have beaten Lee, and Mike should definitely have beaten Lee Labrada in my opinion.
Rich talked about his social life and said that his girlfriend was his social life. He said that reading a book by himself is something he would include as part of his social life. This leads me to believe that in addition to not being very social, Rich didn't do much at all other than bodybuilding.
This can be looked at as a good thing, since Rich had the same drive as the top athletes in the world of any sport, but I do wonder if Rich has any regrets about his dedication to bodybuilding over the years. One thing is for sure - business is booming for Rich these days so hopefully he is comfortable and has a good life. Rich said that he didn't like to be called "the great white hope" because he didn't want bodybuilding to be about race.
Next up, Rich guest posed. He looked incredible! Chris Dickerson said that Rich didn't really taper - I think that is only due to how he hit his front double biceps and when he hit it in a more traditional way his taper was just fine. He was literally in what may have been his best ever condition during this Australian guest posing and seminar tour - at least it seemed that way. But I have to remind myself that Rich ALWAYS looked good between 1986-1989. Every day was close to contest shape or contest shape for him. The crowd went wild! Rich's most muscular poses, particularly the standard crab variation was out of sight!!
Rich started speaking about nutrition again and once again, his knowledge was excellent. He said he takes iron supplements and free form amino acids which he said were both very important. He also said he uses L-Carnitine before he does any form of aerobic training and as he woke up. Rich spoke in depth about amino acids which was very impressive to me.
Rich was no dummy as far as nutrition was concerned. He was even questioned about inosine and knew plenty about it. Rich said that he does not think much about Gamma Oryzanol or Cytochrome B because they may work, but they were never around during Arnold's day and he did just fine without them.
After speaking about training, Rich pumped up by doing some pushups on stage and then posed for the crowd. The crowd went wild once again. Rich hit some poses and looked awesome. His skin was in great condition as well and his muscles were popping right out of it. The crowd kept on clapping and whistling. When he hit the most muscular pose from the side where you could see the thickness of his back which was looking absolutely freaky.
Once the posing ended, Rich spoke more about training, and his techniques were interesting, but one thing is for sure: training is an overrated factor in pro bodybuilding success. The most important factors are sensible use of steroids, good nutrition and also genetics (defined in terms of response to hormones). Training is important, but if you are juiced to the gills on a gram a day of hormones as well as growth hormone, insulin, and who the hell knows what else, you WILL grow just by eating food.
I'm not saying Rich was on that much, but any given pro needs to use drugs to be competitive, both today and in Rich's era. Rich also said that he would try to focus on his weak points and bring up any points that were lagging in relation to the rest of his physique, or in general. One of Rich's flaws that was listed many times in magazines I had read and also that I noted myself was that Rich looked to be a trifle "boxy".
Despite his mass, he was somewhat narrow in certain poses, but looking at him sitting down in the seminar, he looked to be very wide. His arms were also considered a weak point, but they looked gigantic in the seminar DVD. They were definitely close to 20", but looked smaller because he had short arms and in particular short upper arms.
Rich spoke about specific techniques he used to improve from the 1986 Mr. Olympia contest to the 1987 contest. Rich's reasoning was fairly general - one additional year of nutrition and training and muscle maturity should help him to improve that much more and come in at his all time best shape. The topic of steroids came up, and Rich spoke more about it than Bertil Fox did in his seminar DVD, but less about it than Tom Platz did in either of his seminar DVDs. Tom was extremely open about his steroid use in his first seminar DVD while Bertil completely dodged the topic and Rich also tried to underplay the importance of steroids.
Let me tell you, they are extremely important for pro bodybuilding. These days, even the top amateur competitors are juiced beyond belief. This may not apply to all of them across the board, but in general this is an accurate statement. Rich said they were a 5% edge and that with every other pro bodybuilder having that 5% edge, he himself needed to use steroids to give himself that edge to level the playing field. The reality is that steroids are one heck of a lot more than 5%, although admittedly that particular type of calculation would be hard to measure.
Some questions from the audience were taken about training and Rich discussed his leg training in detail. As I mentioned above, training is obviously an important and necessary factor for pro bodybuilding, but by no means is it more important than the importance of proper nutrition. I also think that Rich spent more time studying nutrition than he did training for that exact reason. As a result, he was incredibly articulate and well spoken when it came to discussing nutrition.
Another question was taken from the audience and Rich explained that he had a hard time digesting red meat which he felt was due to the fat content. He said he was not against red meat consumption for bodybuilding purposes but that it was personally not his meat of choice. Some of the questions asked by the audience were not very audible, but you could get an idea of what was being asked when Rich replied to the question since his response would generally summarize the question and follow it up with his response.
Rich kept discussing his bodybuilding ventures with the crowd and explained that he worked as a bouncer as well as other jobs to support his bodybuilding career. Next I noticed GMV's owner Wayne Gallasch in the audience behind the camera (it was a 2 camera shoot) who asked Rich about his training videos. Rich said he produced three new videos which he had plans to sell. I had watched one of those videos - "Chest and Legs" which was a very high quality video.
Finally Rich posed for the excited crowd. He looked incredible! I would put him at 220 pounds and shredded and 5'8 and 1/2 and this was months before the Mr. Olympia. How he maintained that peak until the time of the show was incredible. Rich posed to "Juke Box Hero" by Foreigner which was a hit at the time of the seminar back in 1987. Rich's delts were insanely big at the seminar and Rich definitely defeated his criticisms of having a narrow structure with his delt and back mass creating an incredible taper.
If anything, Rich being medium height had some effect on the blocky look of his physique - there is a certain degree of elegance which comes from having a longer body with longer limbs. Bob Paris for example. Another point is that if Bob was as incredibly muscular as Rich was, Bob too would not look as elegant as he did. It's hard not to look somewhat blocky when you are THAT muscular. Rich had more dense muscle packed per square inch than any other bodybuilder of all time.
Rich Interviewed & Posing at FIBO 1989
During this interview, Rich was 26 years old and travelled to Germany for the FIBO expo sporting an eighties style mullet. He looked very healthy in the face at FIBO and not at all as he did during the main seminar of this DVD. Rich was asked questions and this was translated for the German audience.
Rich guest posed next and the quality of his physique surprised me and not in a good way. Not that he wasn't one of the top in the world, but he had regressed slightly. His arms appeared to have atrophied somewhat and in general he had seemed to be smaller than he had been in terms of muscularity, but not with a small waist and midsection to go along with it as he had in 1988. Don't get me wrong, Rich looked incredible and was still a world class bodybuilder, but he was not at his best. This was off-season however being April.
Rich said that he was promoting his supplement line at the Mr. Olympia - Gaspari Nutrition. He said he was trying to get the name out in the United States. He said he was not quite 40 yet but was considering the master's platform since he still trained regularly.
Rich was interviewed at the Ironman Pro FitExpo by Kenny Kassel. Rich talked a little about his career in bodybuilding when Kenny asked him about it and also about his supplement line. He said that after six years it had become a national company and was being carried at GNC.
Rich said that his new career in the supplement industry was his new Mr. Olympia. Rich also said he was currently judging pro events in the IFBB. Kenny did an excellent job interviewing Rich in this segment.
Of the six most recent DVDs I received in the mail for review courtesy of GMV, I have to say that this DVD was my favourite. The production was good which is what I've come to expect from GMV, so that goes without saying, but the main thing I enjoyed about this DVD is that Rich Gaspari was the main subject, and he is one of my favourite bodybuilders of all time.
He definitely impresses me more than anyone in terms of conditioning, other than possibly Andreas Munzer. Even Munzer wasn't leaps and bounds ahead of Gaspari though. Thanks to the tremendous conditioning Rich was in during the filming of this seminar, the guest posing footage was top quality.