Patrick Arnold Interview
MuscleWeek: We want to thank you so much Patrick for taking the time for this interview. We really appreciate it. Jumping right in, what inspired you to start bodybuilding?
PA: I started when I was quite young because my grandfather had some old York Barbell weights that he gave to us kids (me and my brothers). I didn’t know too much about weightlifting back then. We bought a book or two and started doing the exercises we found in there. After Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder came out we became big fans of Arnold. Then our training became more sophisticated. We eventually bought a bench and made a gym in our cellar. I also remember that my mom got Prevention Magazine. I’m not even sure if it’s still in publication.
MW: I think it is actually.
PA: Really? Huh. Well, anyway, it got me interested in supplements and the nutritional aspects of training.
MW: So, when you were a teenager just out of high school, going to college. What in the world made you decide to go into Chemistry?
PA: I originally wanted to go into Pharmacy. I was really interested in drugs. How drugs could heal people, and how they worked in the body. I did well in Chemistry in High School and I enjoyed making stuff in lab during class.
MW: What was your first job out of college?
PA: I took a job during college at a company called Uniroyal. It’s a chemical company. I worked as a lab tech in a work study program. I made polymers and polymer precursors. It was really messy and included nasty chemicals.
After I finished school I got a job at a company called GAF which changed its name to ISP and now has a different name. I’m not sure what it is. I worked in a lab and did research mostly for the cosmetic industry. Polymers once again. You know, products that go into hair gels and conditioners. It was boring but I learned a lot about analytical and synthesis techniques.
I had a decent lab and access to other labs and there was a Chemical Library on our floor. That’s where I started looking up all the chemical compositions of steroids and bodybuilding drugs. Since my job was really boring and my boss was never around I started making whatever I wanted, and I’d come back at night and work on stuff. People started catching on. I got caught and lost my job, but I made all kinds of drugs, bodybuilding related and otherwise. Anything I wanted to make I looked it up and figured it out.
After I lost my job I returned to CT and got into the PhD program for Organic Synthesis at UConn. At that time I started fooling around on the internet. This was around 1995 when it was relatively new. I met a lot of people on there like Dan Duchaine, Will Brink, and Bruce Kneller.
MW: Oh Wow! I actually had a question later about how you met Dan. There it is.
PA: I feel like I’m giving you a total biography. Do you want me to keep going?
MW: Definitely, but I’ll ask you a few more things for this interview specifically.
PA: Yeah, maybe you could make the bio into a separate post or something.
MW: That sounds like a great idea. Okay, serious question. If you could go back in time to when Duchaine was still alive knowing what you know now, what would you say to him?
PA: I think I would just tell him that people appreciated very much what he’s done and he inspired a lot of people. I enjoyed working with him, but he was obviously a very tortured man, and I wish that I could have helped him in some way.
MW: What are you working on right now?
PA: I’m doing some very exciting work with ketones. I’m collaborating with a top researcher in that area.
MW: That sounds exciting! Crossfitters love ketones. Probably not like Dave Palumbo loves ketones, but in what capacity?
PA: Products that raise levels of ketones in the body.
MW: What are your goals for Epharm in 2013?
PA: I’m doing a lot of work with natural products like Ursolic acid and I also have a direct sales brand called Prototype Nutrition. I also have a Ursolic acid derivative with high bioavailability that I made into a topical. That is probably my most exciting product right now. It’s all natural and great for losing fat, maintaining muscularity, and endurance. It’s called Ur Spray and is sold through Prototype Nutrition. I also have a version sold through Epharm called Pump Spray.
MW: So, I know you personally don’t Crossfit, but what are your thoughts on the subject?
PA: I saw it awhile ago on ESPN actually. My understanding is that it’s very aerobic, varied, high intensity training. From a cardio fitness aspect it’s probably great, but as far as gaining proficiency at a certain exercise, it’s counterproductive. With crossfit you have to try and learn a million exercises at the same time. However, in order to be good at a complex exercise technique like a power clean you have to build neural pathways by doing the same movements consistently and somewhat exclusively for a while.
MW: Well, they do say they specialize in not specializing, but you think this can actually be a negative thing?
PA: I think Crossfit actually confuses the body to where you’re not proficient at lifts, or it takes you a lot longer to gain that proficiency. I wouldn’t recommend it to beginners. There are too many complex movements that need some dedication to develop the proper technique. Doing something like a snatch when you’ve already done other things, and you’re exhausted, and your form isn’t that great is very dangerous. For someone that knows how to do all the exercises, well I think it’s a good system and people get a hell of a workout.
MW: I agree. I get asked frequently at Crossfit about how to improve one specific movement. I always say, you have to do it, and do it often. You can’t just do it when it pops up once a month in a WOD. For women especially, building that upper body strength takes some serious work and a band won’t get you there in any timely fashion. Anyway, off my soap box.
MW: What are 3 supplements you recommend for anyone training at high intensity 2-5x a week?
PA: I would suggest a protein supplement. Definitely a Multivitamin/Multimineral. Fish Oil obviously, because people who train hard are subject to injury and inflammation that could hinder performance.
I would also add caffeine. It enhances the utilization of fatty acids for fuel, speeds up glycogen replacement after exercise, and decreases perceived exertion and pain during exercise. Not everyone enjoys the effects of stimulants however, and some have personal reasons for avoiding caffeine.
MW: What are your thoughts on the presence of performance enhancing drugs in Crossfit? Is it naïve to think people aren’t cycling in the off season and then coming off to compete in Regionals and the Games?
PA: Whenever there is a substantial reward – a financial reward -there’s going to be people that cheat to win. It’s that way in any sport. There’s no reason to believe that crossfit would be immune to this, especially since its foundation is around weightlifting. These drugs are so engrained in the weight/gym culture that there’s bound to be some people who use them to their advantage. Plus, they’re so easy to use since they only have in-competition testing. If they want to get rid of drugs in the sport I would say stop giving people money when they win.
MW: LOL, that’s kind of funny. I could just see Dave Castro going “Hey crossfitters, I was just kidding about that 250k purse you’ve been gunning for all year.”
PA: If they want to get serious they need to do off season testing like the Olympic anti-doping agencies and model their protocols and use their laboratories. This would be very expensive to implement and I don’t know how crossfitters would feel about it.
MW: There’s an argument out there that steroids or EPO would actually hinder a crossfitter’s performance. What is your response to that?
PA: Track and Field athletes have benefited exponentially from using these drugs. Crossfit wouldn’t be any different. Overuse of anabolic steroids certainly can hinder performance by leading to tightness and excess water retention, and just like in track and field a crossfitter would need to carefully manipulate their drug intake to avoid the negatives.
MW: Muscle Weeker with the screen name “Bruce Berkowitz” wants to know if you ever hear from Bruce Kneller?
PA: Yeah, he just sent me an invitation on LinkedIn. I tried his new protein at the Olympia and I thought it was pretty good. I don’t really compete with him in the industry anymore so we don’t butt heads like we used to.
MW: MuscleWeek Senior Editor Shane Ray wants to know what your thoughts are on SARMS? Before you answer that, what exactly are SARMS?
PA: Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. Basically, they are the same thing as anabolic steroids but they’ve been designed using computer aided molecular modeling. These models create structures that bind and activate the androgen receptor, which is essentially what steroids do. However these structures are completely different than the classic four fused rings structures of steroids.
In theory the people that developed them thought they would produce the same effect as anabolic steroids while simultaneously avoiding unwanted side effects. Some animal studies suggested this, but the human studies do not. Similar to anabolic steroids they still disrupt your body’s hormone regulation. They also increase liver enzymes and produce abnormalities in blood lipid profiles. Despite their efforts using sophisticated drug design techniques, the developers still can’t really differentiate between therapeutic and toxic effects any more than what was achieved decades ago with anabolic steroids
One interesting aspect is that no one ever uses the word steroids with them. Are they going to be scheduled as anabolic steroids? As it stands presently they’re in a gray area legally. If they become available drugs they’ll be used in patients with age related sarcopenia and cancer, cachexia and what not. I would think at that point they will need to be scheduled because they’ll be abused as steroids are.
MW: Shane also wants to know if you think legal supplements will ever be as good as they were prior to 2004 or the age of prohormones?
PA: No. Unless some monumental discovery is made, but aliens might land here someday too.
MW: Another MuscleWeeker asked what your thoughts are on Lance Armstrong?
PA: I feel as though he was made a scapegoat. He was singled out and it’s sad to see a hero fall like that. I think it’s a little unfair they would go to such extremes to catch him when they didn’t do that to anyone else. Although, I also think he was a fool to continue to compete even though he was being suspected more and more. He was pushing his luck and snubbing his nose at the testing people. If he just retired in 04’ or something he would have been the best ever, but since he didn’t, he made himself more and more vulnerable.
MW: The craziest thing you’ve ever seen at the Olympia or Arnold Classic?
PA: I’m going to have to get back to you on that. I’ve seen a lot.
MW: What is the coolest thing a fan has ever sent you?
PA: Someone sent me a watch once and a board rep just sent me some cookies and fudge, and hot dipping sauce for Christmas. I also get letters from people in prison asking me to help them get out. I guess that’s interesting, but I obviously can’t help them.
MW: If you had any dating advice for women who compete in figure/bikini/bodybuilding or even crossfit, what would it be?
PA: When I go to the shows and see the really serious fitness and figure girls, they’re usually dating guys that train them, are also bodybuilders, or men they most likely met at the gym. Their lives are so extreme they probably couldn’t co-exist with someone not in the same lifestyle. If I were a girl I’d shoot for a more interesting life and look for someone that may not be as into competing, perhaps an intellectual. A fitness girl has to look at her practical needs yes, but she also shouldn’t restrict her life to being a hermit and making her whole existence about training, broccoli, and tanning.
MW: I think so too. Thanks so much Patrick, always a pleasure.
PA: You’re welcome.
You can check Patrick out at www.patrickarnoldblog.com
If you have your own questions you can track him down on his Q&A threads at http://www.prohormoneforum.com/q-patrick-arnold/ and http://anabolicminds.com/forum/advanced-discussion-patrick/