In a recent trip to HOTLANTA, Georgerrrr as Tyler Perry would say it, Muscleweek Senior Editor Shane Ray caught the first flight down to the home of the Braves, Falcons , Hawks and formerly the Thrashers to sit down with the age defying and veteran pro bodybuilder, Toney Freeman for an exclusive featured interview by Muscleweek.com .
Listen to what Toney has to say about the current state of competitive bodybuilding, women who turn him on, creepy schmoes who won’t leave him alone and how aging is only a state of mind.
MW: If it isn’t The X-Man Himself. Toney. Welcome to Muscleweek. Thank you for meeting me. HOTLANTA isn’t what I expected. It reminds me of Chicago. So. Tell us something about Toney Freeman not many people know about.
TF: Here you go. I love to bake, man. I do. I love to bake and cook. It’s my new passion, Shane. I’m into the culinary arts now and I think it’s cool. I bake cookies, pies, cakes anything. I go online and find these recipes and I just try them out, you know? I love it. Actually. In Atlanta I may be starting this cooking show for television called “Man Up!”. It’s basically I go on the show, make a quick meal of healthy food and teach the audience how to spruce it up and make it more edible. I’m looking forward to it, man. I can’t wait. I may be doing my own video series on YouTube pretty soon that will be almost the same kind of thing so look out for it.
MW: You’ve been around the scene a long time. Some believe you hit your highest cylinder around age 40 instead of late 20′s or early 30′s. What do you contribute to that and would you agree?
TF: You know? This is why. I know how to take time off and know when to push it and when to back off. I learned over the years and I’ve been competing since 1988, man. You believe that? So through the years I picked up a few things. I learned from other people’s mistakes. I also took about 10 years off. I came back to the competitive stage when I was 36. So with all that time off it was like I was new at this all over again with a ton of knowledge already. On top of all that I pay attention to what my limitations are. I know what I can get away with and what I cannot. Some guys don’t care or pay attention. They just push it, man. Our bodies are like a car, man. A machine. Treat it good it will treat you good. Take care of it and it will last you a long time.
MW: Describe a typical day in the life of Toney Freeman. You seem like you have a lot cooking. You don’t seem to be like most of these lazy turd-burglar bodybuilders who live on facebook all day long. What’s up!
TF: [Loud Laughter] I keep myself busy all day. From the moment I wake up I start answering business e-mails, making phone calls or booking flights to other cities because I still am fortunate enough to get guest posing gigs. On top of that I have 3 shows planned for 2012. I have my cooking show I am working on, my YouTube Channel and making sure business is handled properly with X-Frame Spray. I stay busy in the day, too because I cook one meal at a time. I never cook in bulk. I never do. I don’t like cold stale food. I like my meals freshly made so it’s worth it to me to prepare them one at a time.
MW: At age 45 you seem to be getting better. Ronnie Coleman is the same age as you and he barely looks like a shell of his former self respectively. Do you think your style of training preserved your body to what it is today? I know you like to employ a higher rep, moderate weight blood-pumping style instead of the inhuman colossal weights Ronnie was famous for employing over the years.
TF: You’re right, man. That’s true. I think that has a lot to do with it. When I was in my 20′s I was all about trying to keep up with the next guy so I pushed it with the weights. I didn’t know my limits then. I thought the only way to get bigger was to life heavier than the next guy. It was when I tore my pec is when I said to myself that there has to be another way. So I started to experiment. I found out that you have to put your ego away and use just enough weight to stimulate the muscles without making your joints and ligaments do any of the work What people also don’t know is training so heavy all of the time damages your bones. It causes micro-fractures and over time it catches up to you. I know this about the body. It always wins. The House always wins. I learned to not care what the guy in the gym training next to me thinks. You see me. I’m 6’2. I’m 300lbs. I’m a big guy, right? I used to think I should curl the 80lb dumbbells because that is what is expected. Once I said I didn’t care about that bullshit of what people think I got better. I curl the 40′s and think nothing of it because I can feel the muscle working deep inside the fibers. I never really need a spot because the way I see it is if you can’t lift it on your own then you are just going to activate the joints and ligaments in that set so it makes it counter-productive. I use angles, I use different rep schemes, rep tempo, drop sets and all kinds of different things. I never limit myself to one way of training. I keep my body guessing all the time but the main thing is I feel the muscle working and not worry about impressing people in the gym, you know?
MW: I do know. Yes. Toney. At 300lbs you seem to still be very conditioned. In the interview you did with my Editor-In-Chief, Jason Stern, recently you had visible abs. What’s that from? Good genetics? Superior metabolism? Constant cardio?
TF: I think a little bit of everything. No. I think it’s because I keep myself pretty strict all the time. I do like to eat what I want sometimes but I am mindful. If I eat sweets one day or if I enjoy some fast food then I know I will do some extra cardio or take a walk or something. Right now, though I do cardio 3 days a week for about 30 minutes either in the morning or after my workouts but I workout twice a day. I train each body part twice a week so I am always in the gym so it keeps me lean and keeps me from gaining fat.
MW: Toney. Lots of guys go way off of the deep end with using different compounds and dabbling with things with dosages that ruin their physiques. See: King Kamali as a reference. What are your thoughts on SEO, extreme dosing gear and mixing so many different chemicals the way some of these guys do? What are your thoughts on that?
TF: I’m not a fan of all that. Just like I said when I was younger I would push it with the weights and think heavier is better but guess what? It isn’t. Not for me anyway and I bet not for most people. When I lightened up the weights and backed off I got better and it’s the same with gear and all that. You have to be smart and know your limits. You have to take as much time off as you do on and even add another month or two. With me I get my blood-work done every 45 days and stay on top of all that. I put smart training, actual dieting and proper rest before everything else where people now seem to put that stuff first and everything else after. That isn’t right. If anything it ruined bodybuilding, man. Back when I first got going guys looked awesome and everyone wanted to bodybuild. It was on ESPN. There were morning workout shows featuring real bodybuilders. We made people want to look like us but that is when we put our work in the gym and on the treadmill and paid attention to our food and how we ate. Not anymore, man. These cats now think they could do better from a needle or a pill and go to the pancake house every night. Oh. I think I will skip cardio and just take another pill or two instead. No, man. It doesn’t work that way.
MW: Toney. You mentioned a pec tear earlier. Most guys never recover from a pec tear. With you it’s hardly noticeable. How did you recover so well? What did you do to bring up your upper chest to conceal it and bring it back to par with the right side? New style of training?
TF: One thing is I didn’t give up and think that you can’t get back to where it was before. The surgeon said he attached the muscle back to the bone and told me that the pectoral minor would never be the same but I didn’t accept that. I made it a goal to find a way to bring it back up as much as I can. I started to get weekly deep tissue massages, I would do lots of stretching and like you said I started to train more smart. I focus mostly on my upper chest. I never go heavier than 225 on incline barbell. I use dumbbells like no higher than 120lbs and focus on feeling and squeezing the muscle. I got really into uni-lateral movements, too. I would do one arm pec-dec flys. One arm dumbbell presses and stuff like that. I focused on making it better and I did. It isn’t as good as the left pec but it came a hell of a long way.
MW: Toney. One remarkable thing about you is that you are one of the very very few bodybuilders walking the globe who has an enormous approval rating on the more gossipy bodybuilding message boards. Where even guys like a Jay Cutler or a Phil Heath take lots of grief you seem to be exempt from all of that noise. How do you think you earned that respect?
TF: You know I am actually honored by that. I heard that before. I don’t get down too much with looking at the boards because like you said even guys like Jay and Phil get flamed so I try to stay away from the negativity. I guess people like me because I’m cool to everyone, you know. I treat everyone with respect. I’m not a phony fake like half the people in the industry so people see that. I meet so many people and I am always sure to treat everyone with respect. You know, I been around a long time and people see me coming back again and again getting better than ever so I guess people just like that about me.
MW: You seem to have a lot of “industry chicks” flocking to you at all of the expos or at all of the shows you enter. I’ve seen you at Jason Dhirs’ parties in Columbus. Do you have good Game or are you just a natural Pick Up Artist?
TF: [Hysterical Laughter] I mean. I don’t have that kind of Game like the way you guys talk about on Muscleweek but I treat everyone the same including the ladies, man. I don’t try to hustle anyone or lie to anyone I just treat the ladies like a gentleman so they like that plus women like tall guys like me. It’s an evolutionary thing, I think. Most women say the ideal man is tall, dark and handsome and I am all 3 so I guess that’s why they come around. Plus I smell good, too! [More Laughter].
MW: Speaking of the ladies. What’s your ideal woman? Does she have to be a schizophrenic and bi-polar Figure girl or some delusional Bikini competitor or can she be a girl who has nothing to do with the physique competition world?
TF: Oh, man. You know how they be, right? No. I like women who take care of themselves and keep fit but that is because everyone should be fit and make health and their body a major priority in their life. They don’t have to compete or anything just take care of their shit. I like women who like me for me not just for my muscles but I like all women. I think it’s a mistake to have a certain type and stick with only that type. I like them all, man. Blondes, brunettes, red heads, white girls, black girls everything. As long as they have some sort of substance and a decent brain I can be cool with it.
MW: Being a popular bodybuilder not to mention a 6’2 300lb jacked black guy must bring you a lot of attention. Good and Bad. How does the general public take you to at say a grocery store or a gas station or something? What’s their initial reaction?
TF: You know what? 99% of the time it’s positive. I get people staring at me all the time and most of the time people have questions they walk up to me and ask me how much I bench press. You know, man. The usual questions. Do I take protein shakes. How much do I lift. So I am always conscious about conducting myself like a gentleman every where I go. I know people already have their minds made up about me as soon as they see me so I try to do the opposite of what they expect so I hold doors for people. Look people in the eye. Shake their hands. I try to remember names and all that. Sometimes I hear a stupid comment but I just ignore it. I don’t care anymore at this point.
MW: On that note. Facebook is littered with every creeper and schmoe in the galaxy. What kind of weird requests do you receive privately? Somebody we recently interviewed told us that this pervert offered him money to crush a live mouse in the palm of his hand. You have any funny stories like that you can share?
TF: Oh, man. I know. I get that crap all the time. Mostly I get these weirdos e-mailing me asking me if they can give me a massage or suck my dick or stuff like that. I just ignore it I won’t even entertain them. One time here at that gym we were at earlier[in Atlanta] I was working out with my training partner and this big fat creepy old guy was there and he kept staring at me so then he walks over to me in between my set I was just standing there and he comes up and grabs my ass, man! Can you believe that shit? I turned around and yelled at the dude and warned him not to ever put his hands on me I told him I was a grown ass man and not to ever do that again. He just ran off saying he was sorry. Had that been me say I did that to some girl or something I’d be in handcuffs or in a police car, right?
MW: Toney. Over The Counter supplements. Do you actually use any? Most pros pretend they do because they have to but we all know they don’t. What’s the deal?
TF: I do. Yes. I mean, I don’t go too crazy with them but some of them I like and some I think is pure garbage, you know. I am real big on vitamins & minerals. I also am big on anti-oxidants. I think that’s another reason why at 45 I am still going strong. I always make sure I take my vitamin complex and minerals every day. Let’s see, I will drink a protein shake if I know I have to get a meal in but feel too lazy too cook I’ll have a shake and sometimes I take arginine when I go to sleep. People think arginine is best to take before a workout but it’s better to take it when you sleep. I don’t like pre-workout drinks with stimulants in them. I get all jittery. I don’t like it. The only time I use stuff like a Redline or something is when I am feeling a little sluggish and I got to get cardio in so I’ll drink maybe half a can and then hit cardio.
MW: It seems like with the introduction of Men’s Physique that Bodybuilding took a nose dive in popularity. Do you find that to be true?
TF: It is totally true. Like I said guys ruin themselves because for a while like 10 years ago everyone wanted to see the freaks so the judges rewarded it so guys went crazy with the shit. Now we got Men’s Physique which is what all guys want to look like. The problem is they don’t let only the quality bodybuilders on stage anymore. Now anybody can do the USA’s or Nationals now. All you have to do is pay your entry fee and buy a NPC card that’s it. You can make the USA’s your very first show if you want. For the promoters or those making profit of it then it’s great but look what that did to bodybuilding. It made it go downhill and until they stop letting so many people get on stage that don’t deserve to be up there then bodybuilding will get less popular. I remember back when I was on the national scene all the guys who entered the show were real good man, all of them. There were no scrubs. Everyone in every class were hard to beat. Guys were all state level winners, regional winners and local level winners. Back then you had to win like all the types of shows to be able to do nationals. Back then only the best of the best were on stage. Now? Please. May only be 2-3 real good guys at every national show. So when the bodybuilding show is 85% guys who shouldn’t be there it is no wonder why Men’s Physique is getting more popular. Bodybuilding isn’t visually appealing anymore.
MW: Can bodybuilding every go mainstream? I used to see it on ESPN. What happened? Why does it still remain cult-status?
TF: I doubt it ever will but back when the Olympia was covered on ESPN and it got more coverage the physiques on stage were good and everyone looked healthier. Now guys have lumps, bumps and obvious use of oil everywhere and big ol’ stomachs sticking out everywhere why would anyone put that on TV? It’s a joke. Nobody wants to look like the guys on stage now. The only people who like the way it looks are hardcore bodybuilders and schmoes.
MW: Who do you work with as a nutritionist these days? Do you get caught up with the whole “guru” thing?
TF: I don’t work with anybody at all. My business partner, Lloyd Davis will give me an unbiased opinion and be an extra set of eyes for me but that’s it. He keeps it real with how I look otherwise I do all my own cooking and meal planning. I know what I gotta do. I am not about to pay someone 5k so he can tell me to eat egg whites and oatmeal for breakfast. Come on, man. I don’t get down with that “guru” stuff. I know my body. I know how to eat to lose fat and preserve muscle, man. I think that “guru” stuff is silly. I keep my basic blue-print of foods I rotate and add or subtract based on how I feel or look. That’s it.
MW: Tell me who in the bodybuilding industry you want to give the ol’ “Freeman Frewilly” to? There has to be someone. For me it is still Monica.
TF: [Laughter]. Bro. You know who Denise Millani is? That’s who. Man. I saw her at the LA Fit Expo and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. She has it all. She got a butt, she got boobs. Wow! I saw her and I was frozen. I lost my composure, man. I’d love to see her again.
MW: Where does Toney Freeman see himself in the next 5 years? Is Hollywood calling you? If Terry “Squeege Lo” Crews can make it then I believe you can.
TF: Yea, man. I’ve been doing some acting. People don’t know this but I was big into drama and theater in high-school and took some thespian classes after. I always been into acting so I’ve been testing the waters and just landed a role for a movie where I played a Thug Boss. Type-casted, probably but it’s cool. I know what I look like. That movie was called Parked. So after 2012 I plan on focusing more on that because 2012 is my last year where I am going to go full on with bodybuilding. If I can get Top 5 at the O then maybe I will do it again next year but we’ll see.
MW: Toney. You’re called The X Man. You carry the classic X-Frame and have an uncanny mutant ability to get better with age. Are you also a comic book fan? I find there is a direct link to comic book fans and bodybuilders.
TF: I like comic books. I like the characters. I don’t collect the books but I think it’s cool. I like the movies and the cartoons and all that. I seen all the movies and I know they have new movies are coming out this summer so that’s cool. I know where the Marvel Comics headquarters is at in L.A. I always want to go in there and say to Stan Lee – What’s up!
MW: If you can change bodybuilding for the better what would you do? How can bodybuilding be great again like it once was.
TF: They have to stop letting just anybody be a pro. Being a pro now isn’t special like it used to be now everyone is a pro. When I went pro I knew every other pro because there were so few because only the best went pro. Now? I meet people and they tell me they are a pro and I have no idea who they are it isn’t exclusive anymore now they give away pro cards. What? Like 30 girls a year go pro with like 20 guys? Back then it was maybe 5-6 new pros a year because only the best of the best went pro. They also need to set a standard for the shows. It’s so subjective. Too subjective. There is no standard. They should say. Any SEO usage means disqualification from the show. Roid guts means you will place last. Lumps means you are disqualified. If you pose the wrong way you lose points and nobody should ever fraternize with promoters or judges or anything. That will leave some of the bull shit out but mostly make it special to compete at nationals again and make is special to be a pro again.
MW: It was great being here in Atlanta with you, Toney. How can anybody get in contact with you for anything you have to offer? What would you like to plug and promote?
TF: People can contact me through my website which is www.tfxman.com or through facebook if they want to. The site for my X-Pain Spray is www.xpainspray.com