Layne Norton Interview

Thank you for taking the time to sit down and do this interview with us Layne. What sparked your passion for health and fitness?

LN: I was picked on a lot when I was growing up. I was the nerdy kid in school that wasn’t naturally talented at sports and was a bit hyperactive so I really wasn’t accepted by a lot of my peers. When I got into high school I started weight training in order to look better and hopefully get some attention from girls. Over time my passion for training grew into a love for bodybuilding & nutrition because I simply loved it, rather than doing it only for the sake of getting a better body. Today, even if you told me no matter how hard I trained that I would never gain another ounce of muscle, I would still train because I love it. It’s a part of who I am.


What gave you the impetus to take training to a whole new level and actually start competing?

LN: I’ve always been the kind of person that I like to push and challenge myself. I wasn’t naturally super gifted at training or bodybuilding but through hard work and grit I built a pretty good physique. So when I was approaching the end of my teenage years, I made it a goal to do a show and compete in the teen and novice class. I just love to push myself, in all areas of life. It’s the same reason I decided to pursue a PhD, not because I wanted people to call me ‘Dr.’ or because I might be able to make more money with a PhD, but because I wanted to test myself academically and test my theories. I believe in walking the walk and not just talking.


What’s the difference in level of intensity between training to look good, feel good, and get stronger then training to actually compete on stage.

LN: Well everything is different. As you said it’s all relative. If you want to look good then you need to train good and have a good diet. If you want to look average then average training and diet will do that for you. If you want to win a show, then you had better be willing to train harder and push yourself to a level that the people you are competing against are not willing to go to.


You have a bachelors in Biochemistry, which makes you more qualified than 90% of the bodybuilders out there, but what made you decide to get your PhD in Nutritional Sciences?

LN: As I stated above, I always try to push myself. An intense fear of failure has always resided in me and I guess that pushed me towards success. But more than anything I just love testing myself. Also, completing my BS in Biochemistry didn’t really make me feel like an expert, in fact I felt like all my undergraduate schooling did was make me aware of how much I DIDN’T know. So I wanted to take the opportunity to expand my horizons on the academic and research front.


How has the PhD in Nutritional Sciences helped you achieve greater results physically and has it really propelled your career forward just being labeled as the “natural pro bodybuilder who just happens to know the science behind it”?

LN: Well I guess the biggest thing is I actually understand how to read and interpret scientific research so that I can determine what things are useful and what is BS. Most of the things you read from ‘experts’ out there is to be quite frank, complete garbage. Either they grossly misinterpret or misrepresent the actual science in order to suit their own purposes, or they straight out lie and make things up. Fortunately, I’ve had enough educational, research, and real life experience working with clients to be know when people are full of crap.


Were you always blessed with an incredible body or was it something that you worked endlessly to achieve and ultimately, are you ever fully satisfied with the end result?

LN: I would never say I’m totally satisfied. I’m always wanting more, but I do take great pride in what I’ve been able to do. From day 1, I’ve had people telling me everything I wouldn’t be able to do. I’d never get above 160 lbs. I’d never bench press 300 lbs in high school. I’d never get to 200 lbs. I’d never do well in a teen show. I’d never do well in the open class bodybuilding shows. I’d never be able to bring up my legs and back. I’d never win my pro card. I’d never recover from my pec tear. I’d never be competitive on a pro level. I had to listen to all that garbage for the past 10 years and I never let any of it affect me. I had to listen to thousands of know it all imbeciles online tell me that my genetics were crap and I might as well quit. One thing those people don’t realize about me, is the more you tell me I can’t do something, the more it strengthens my resolve to make it happen.

 Layne 4You are completely ripped up at 220 pounds and you probably receive tons of naïve criticism from outsiders who say and think that you do steroids. Does this ever bother you and what kind of testing requirements do you have to go through when you enter all-natural competitions?

LN: I wouldn’t say I’m completely ripped at 220. I’m in good shape at 220 but my show weight is 196. It used to bother me to get accused, it doesn’t as much anymore. I think anytime someone sees someone that looks impressive they have 1 of 2 reactions to that. 1) they get inspired and use that as motivation to try to improve themselves or 2) it makes them self-conscious about not having that physique and they try to find ways to justify the difference between themselves and that person and the easiest way to explain it is to say “well they must take steroids.” It’s an issue of security really. When I was younger I used to think that anyone who had a better physique than me had to be on drugs. Looking back I realize that was very foolish. Fortunately I’ve matured and see things much differently now.


You have some insane powerlifting feats such as raw deadlifting 700 pounds, squatting 584 lbs., and benching 364 lbs. at only 220 pounds bodyweight. Did you train for one rep maxes like a powerlifter or is that strength just something that was built through the volume training that came with bodybuilding?

LN: Strength was something I acquired over time and something I have almost always incorporated into my training protocols. Even when I’m training for maxes however, I very rarely only do single reps. I’m usually doing doubles or triples and sometimes sets of 5 on my big movements and even as high as 15-20 reps on my accessory movements.


Do you believe that strength and size are correlated or can you build strength without size and vise versa?

LN: Yes to both. They are correlated, but you can also build short-term size without gaining strength and build short-term strength without gaining size. But in the long run I believe that more strength increases your overall growth potential as a bodybuilder.


When you workout, do you consider yourself an intensity guy like Mike Mentzer and Dorian Yates or a volume guy like the traditional bodybuilders? What do you notice better results with?

LN: Why can’t you be intense and train with volume? I never understood that mentality.

Do you believe that the muscle pump is the single best indication of a good workout or is actual fatigue the trigger to muscle growth?

LN: There are many many MANY different factors that influence muscle growth and we still do not understand the process of the actual growth of muscle very well. People who try to point to one thing like ‘the pump’ and say that it is the single most important thing for muscle growth… quite frankly they are idiots. It is an integration of a multitude of different signals and inputs that causes muscle growth. It’s a very complex process.


Jay Cutler has been known to say that there is no such thing as overtraining, just such thing as undereating. Do you believe in this and train every day or do you make sure that your central nervous system gets adequate rest?

LN: Well most people when they think of overtraining think of training to the point where you can’t recover and you become catabolic. To be quite honest I’ve never even seen that kind of phenomenon scientifically documented. As far as overtaxing the CNS, I’ve definitely seen people become burned out, but most experts cannot even define exactly what ‘overtraining’ is. But the CNS burnout associated with taking multiple sets to complete failure every single workout for weeks on end, is not something you can solve just by eating more.

1344You are the master of nutrition so dispel the principles and tell us how much nutrition plays a role in one’s appearance.

LN: It’s huge. I could write a 300 page book on how important it is. But for the purpose of this interview, if you want to have a serious physique, you better be serious about your nutrition.


You have often said that it is not impossible but very counterproductive to build muscle and burn fat at the same time. How do you suggest to our beginners for how to get a totally conditioned physique such as yourself.

LN: Well I think certain people can build muscle and burn fat at the same time and they general fall into 3 groups: 1) beginners 2) very obese people and 3) those using steroids or illicit lipolytics or a combination of any 3 of those. But if a person has been training hard for a few years and is very good with their nutrition and aren’t 35% bodyfat, they aren’t going to burn fat and build muscle at the same time most likely. It would be EXTREMELY unlikely to happen.


A lot of people go on these crazy yo-yo diets including carb starving. Explain how important carbs are and since there is time sensitivity that plays into that equation, at what times are they most effective?

LN: Well it depends on the person and their individual tolerance to carbs. Some people can tolerate them better than others. Some people can get shredded on 300g of carbs per day, some can take in less than 50g to get shredded. But in general I always try to keep carbs as high as possible while still losing maximal bodyfat to prevent metabolic burnout and get the benefits of carbs. But that number is different for EVERYONE.

 Layne 5Are you a believer in cardiovascular training? Your heart is a muscle, so can cardio bouts provide benefits in terms of muscle building?

LN: Short answer, no. Cardio is not going to make you build muscle. At least not traditional cardio. Now high intensity cardio with sled pulling, car pushing, etc… yes that may have some anabolic responses associated with it.


You’re a highly educated man with several degrees. Why is education so important in terms of attaining the physique you want, but more importantly, in being the person you want to become? How has education helped you achieve what you want to achieve?

LN: Well I think it’s all relative. If your goal is to be a truck driver then going out and getting a PhD in engineering is kind of overkill. I think education is important with any field, but it’s all about what you want out of it. My PhD advisor said to me once when I was asking about doing a masters vs. a PhD he said, “do you want to work IN a lab or do you want to RUN the lab.” Made my choice easy.


Did you have any bodybuilding idols or athletes growing up? What made this person most special to you and how has this person inspired you?

LN: Sure. Dave Goodin and Dr. Joe Klemczewski. Dave is on of the most successful natural bodybuilders in history and was the guest poser at my first show. He was so impressive and so nice and approachable it made a huge difference in me wanting to stick with natural bodybuilding and falling in love with the sport. Seeing his success convinced me that I could also have success. I admired Dr. Joe not only because he was a natural pro but because he had his PhD and worked with bodybuilders preparing them for shows. That was something I always wanted to do. If it weren’t for Joe’s help and support, I would not be where I am today.

1346What is your proudest accomplishment?

LN: Being a man that my wife considers worthy enough to spend her life with. I’m dead serious, I never thought I would land anyone the caliber of my wife, Isabel. She’s the driving force behind everything I do.


What are your future goals both personally and professionally?

LN: Well right now I’m focused on being the best coach in bodybuilding and breaking some raw powerlifting records in this offseason. As a new R&D consultant for Scivation, I also want to help them come out with some new kick a** products. Personally, starting a family is also starting to come into consideration and that is something that we will be looking towards in the future.


Thank you for your time Layne. Any recommendation to the readers as your last word?

LN: Don’t be afraid to go after your dreams and goals. You only fail if you quit on them. Everything else is just a setback. But don’t be like 98% of the world who complains about their lives but are too cowardly to do anything about it. If you want something, GO TAKE IT. Nothing will be handed to most of you.

continue to next page for Layne Norton’s workout routine 

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