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Q&A with Sergio Oliva, Jr.

Fresh off his first training-specific photo shoot with M&F, the son of one of the sport's greatest icons dishes on leg training, his future and the state of bodybuilding

Eric Velazquez
Q&A with Sergio Oliva, Jr.

>> Catch more glimpses of Sergio Jr.'s physique in "Fine Tune Your Legs in Four Weeks" in the August issue of Muscle & Fitness, on sale July 7.

We're halfway through our "Fine Tune Your Legs" photo shoot for the August issue and our model, Sergio Oliva, Jr., is sweating buckets against the gym wall, a 45-pound plate pressed to his chest while in the bottom of a wall squat. M&F Fitness Director Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS, is encouraging Sergio from the sidelines but it's becoming apparent that Sergio loves the challenge.

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Sergio, son of the famous Sergio Oliva, is competitive, driven and just cocky enough to know that his gene pool puts him well ahead of most of his peers anytime he sets foot on a competitive stage. Sergio, who had one previous shoot with M&F under his belt, was the center of attention at his Los Angeles-area shoot this spring.

M&F: You'd already been in M&F as part of a feature with your dad, but this was all you. What was it like to do a training shoot with M&F? How did it go?

Sergio: The photo shoot with my dad was easy compared to the one (M&F Fitness Director) Jimmy Pena put me through! But there are no words to describe how I felt during the photo shoot with my dad (for the June 2007 issue). Besides the fact that it was the first time we had been in the gym working out together, or the first ever father son in Muscle & Fitness, or my first magazine or even working out and getting tips from a three time Mr. Olympia!

Even though my dad is my dad, I am still a very big fan of his. Who can call himself a bodybuilder if he's not a fan? And the biggest thrill was that look on my dad's face when he told me for the first time that he believed that this is what I wanted to be. So all of that had me on a level of a "bodybuilder high," when you can't feel or even think — you just go through the motions.

But this past one for the August issue, I worked up a sweat! I don't know if it was from being in California for the first time or that I didn't have that adrenaline rush from my pops, or the fact that I was working the hardest muscle to work out with one of the best trainers I've met! I was whipped at the end but at the same time had more fun than the first one. I was able to meet new people, meet some of the M&F staff and learn so much more than I did in the first one in Chicago. I just hope people read the article and understand the difference between good and bad form sets because I definitely felt the pain from doing those the wrong way.

M&F: What was your diet like getting ready for this shoot?

Sergio: My diet was easy. I just kept my competition diet from two days earlier.

M&F: What have you done competitively this year? How have you placed?

Sergio: I did the Panama City Southern USAs, level 5, took second place in the heavyweights and qualified for nationals.

M&F: What shows are in the works, competitively, for 2008? What are your goals?

Sergio: For 2008, nothing but putting on size and getting ready for the Junior Nat's in Chicago on June of '09.

M&F: You've said before that your legs are your favorite bodypart. How do you approach your leg training?

Sergio:I just go at it like I do everything else — like I'm on stage at a comp and I'm picturing the judges looking at whatever bodypart I'm working that day. I usually have to get a little more psyched up for legs though. Loud music, good pre-workout meal and good rest. I think the back is the prettiest muscle on a body but I like legs because they are the hardest muscles to earn!

M&F: What tips do you have for others who are hoping to bring their legs up?

Sergio: The best tip for legs is 'form form form.' Every magazine tells you that, but my advice has more worth for the small percentage of guys that lift and are over 5 '5". Short guys can get away with bad form cause the range of motion is a bit limited. But with legs you will never get definition above your teardrop unless you go 90 degrees or lower (on squats and presses). I go pretty wide in my stance. I go wider than shoulder width. I like to workout with my shoes off like my dad used to but most gyms won't allow that anymore so I recommend some slip on shoes that aren't loose, like Arnold's flat shoes he used in "Pumping Iron" when he was squatting with Ed Corney.

M&F: Do you like to train heavy on leg day? Why or why not?

Sergio: I'm more of a believer in going low than worrying about weight on squats. Besides, its better for you injury-wise and better for getting those crazy striations. You know it works because great bodybuilders like Mike Mentzer proved it by lifting less than half the amount of weight Ronnie did and still was insane looking!

M&F: How do you think your physique fits in to the current state of bodybuilding?

Sergio: I think my physique fits into bodybuilding more today than it did in the previous 12 years. I think my timing will be perfect. I like to take my time to get quality muscle. I'm in no rush. If I've learned anything from growing up in a gym and watching pros come and go, it's that there is no rush, especially if you start early and make sacrifices that most people my age haven't. There should be no hurry. I like that I stay in the shadows and let guys like Evan Centopani and Trey Brewer, who have paid their dues, to be in the spotlight they earned. Of course, I wish I could be where they are though! I think bodybuilding has changed a lot in these last 12 years with the physiques that they are favoring.

M&F: What current bodybuilders possess the kind of aesthetic you aspire to?

Sergio: Anyone who knows anything about symmetry, proportion and a v-taper should be on the Phil Heath bandwagon because that guy — combined with Jay knocking off Ronnie — is one of the best things to happen to bodybuilding in a while! So we will see but Dexter Jackson and Victor Martinez are there now and I think victor is the perfect combo of size with the best shape.

M&F: What do you want our readers to know about Sergio Oliva Jr. that they couldn't find out from seeing you on stage or in print?

Sergio: That my dad would not let me touch a weight until I was 18 or 19 years old. So I have started later than anyone I know of but this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I don't think about Olympias or anything like that. I would like to be a pro and reach out to the non-lifting public and educate them on real bodybuilding, not what the media perceives it as. And if I can change the judging and mandate of what is a bodybuilder than I couldn't ask for more!

>> For a full feature on Sergio Jr., click here.

>> For five hardcore techniques to use on leg day, click here.

SNAPSHOT
SERGIO OLIVA JR.
BIRTHDATE : Oct. 20, 1984
BIRTHPLACE : Chicago
RESIDENCE : Mirimar Beach, Florida
RELATIONSHIP STATUS : Engaged to Halley
HEIGHT: 6'0"
WEIGHT: 210 pounds contest; 225-230 pounds off-season
COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS: 2008: Mr. Northwest Florida, 1st, heavyweight; NPC Panhandle Showdown, 1st, heavyweight; NPC Southern USAs, 2nd, heavyweight. 2006: NPC Southern States, 2nd, novice and middleweight.
CONTACT: sergioolivajr@yahoo.com

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