December 29, 2005
The night before the 2005 Mr. Olympia a “Wild Card Showdown” contest was held. Some of the best bods in the IFBB that had just missed qualifying for the “O” came to slug it out and earn a chance to compete in the Superbowl of bodybuilding the following day. One man who showed up was at a marked disadvantage compared to the other competitors. Mike Morris, who’s reputation for freaky mass and strength rests atop one of the best pair of legs in bodybuilding, trained for the show naturally, without using steroids, growth hormone, insulin, diuretics or anything else bodybuilders use to get ready for a show.
The New Jersey native now living in sunny Arizona placed last in the Wild Card Showdown but got to fulfill his dream of standing on the Olympia stage. At the same time, he sent a message about the importance, first and foremost, of one’s health, which is what bodybuilding should be about, shouldn’t it? Mike’s example may serve as inspiration to countless others who seek shredded size through a syringe or a pill at any cost to their physical, emotional and financial health.
Mike Morris, Interview by Tony Monchinski
Mike, why’d you do the Wildcard Showdown naturally?
My last show before that was the Australian show. That was my first top 5 finish, but after that show I got blood work done and my kidney readings were out of range. I’ve had blood work done before, but these were higher than they’ve ever been. I made the personal decision then to stop taking steroids and, in essence, retire from competition.
I bought my house out in Phoenix and got invited to do the Wildcard Mr. Olympia. Since that’s my goal, and pretty much every bodybuilder’s goal-to get on the Olympia stage-I decided to do it. I was torn at first. I knew I wanted to do it but I also knew I didn’t want to take any more steroids. I made the decision to do it naturally because I knew no other bodybuilder had ever competed as a pro, gone natural and then competed again [as a pro]. I got my chance to be on the Olympia stage and that’s what I did.
Are you happy with how you looked at the Wildcard Showdown? Were you happy with your condition?
As far as a pro bodybuilder? Absolutely not. But as far as feeling I’d gotten into the best shape I could without taking any prescription supplements at all, I’m thoroughly satisfied with how I looked. There were eight months between the Australian show and the Olympia. I had my blood work done about two weeks before the Mr. Olympia and my testosterone levels were at about 138.
What does that mean?
Normal should be between 400 and 800 for an average male. My levels were very, very low. I was working with everything against me. I wasn’t using any Clenbuterol, no Cyotmel. I wanted to publicize that I was doing it naturally so I didn’t want to cheat and use any growth or anything else. That would have contradicted what I was saying I was doing. I had to change my training. I increased my cardio a lot but still couldn’t duplicate the shape I had achieved in the past. It’s a whole different level if you’re doing the supplements you have to take to compete as a professional.
How far were you able to get naturally before you ever did anything?
I started working out when I was 13. My first competition was when I was 14. I competed naturally as a teenager. My goal was always to compete on the Olympia stage, to be a professional bodybuilder, so I knew I had to take a professional approach to it but not start too soon. I started an eight week cycle of D-Bol on my 18th birthday, but up until that point I was natural.
What kind of gains did you make between the ages of 13 and 18?
The gains were very good! My first competition I was 110 pounds. By 18 I was a middleweight. I did the Teen Nationals at 19. I was on my second cycle. I did some Anavar and some Winstrol for that show. People were always coming up to me in the gym asking me what I was taking. I’d tell them “nothing” and they’d say “Come on dude, I know you’re taking something.”
That’s some compliment!
It was a very great compliment! But sometimes they would get mad at me, because they thought I wasn’t telling them what I was taking. That would disappoint me because these were the guys at the gym that I looked up to the most and they didn’t believe me. I remember thinking to myself, God, when I do do a cycle, I’m really going to blow them away then. But you know what? When I did my first cycle I was honestly disappointed.
You think you’re going to gain thirty pounds and make all these big dramatic changes. But I had trained pretty hard so I made good gains naturally. When I did my first cycle I think I gained ten pounds in two months.
That’s not bad.
It’s not bad, but naturally I was gaining two or three pounds every couple of months anyway, so I was already used to seeing changes in my body naturally. Now I’d put on an extra five pounds, and I was like, what the hell is that? [laughs] I got some acne. I remember thinking all these things are doing is making me get some zits and a few extra reps in my sets. I wasn’t all that impressed, but I knew that was the road you had to travel if you want to compete at the national and pro level and move forward.
How did your contest weight differ from the Australian show to the Olympia?
I weighed about 217 for the Wildcard. I was 238 at the Australian. Right now I’m holding 225-230 naturally, depending on how much turkey I eat (laughs). My normal offseason weight was 265-270. I’ve been training intensely for twenty years and built a reputation for my strength. Now my goal is to see how much I can retain without taking any juice.
Would you consider competing outside the IFBB in some of the natural federations?
Yeah I would, but most of them require at least a year natural. I’m trying to get some input from natural bodybuilders about how they’d feel if I did steroids for 15 years, came off for a year and then competed naturally. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was cheating. If there was an organization where I could compete again naturally, I would love to. I just wouldn’t want to get any bad press or bad vibes.
In 15 years of being on steroids, did you ever come off?
Oh yeah, absolutely. My first cycle I took D-Bol. I worked up from 1 to 4 tablets a day and back down again for a total of eight weeks. I remember trying to stay off for more than twice the amount of time than I was on. If I was on for eight weeks, I was off for more than 16 weeks. I did a ten week cycle before the Teen Nationals, then came off for at least twice that. It’s hard to remember fifteen years ago! I wanted that off cycle to be twice the amount of time I was on, but of course as my career progressed the off cycles got shorter and shorter.
I moved to Venice, California to further my pro career two years ago and by the time I had moved there my cycles were between ten and twelve weeks but my off cycles would be six weeks, sometimes four weeks. I was on mostly all the time with little four week breaks. After about eight to ten weeks on a cycle your gains start to plateau a bit. Even if you increase your dosages you really don’t make many gains.
Were you pretty moderate with your dosages?
There were times when I was doing a heavy cycle. That would be five shots a week. A shot every day of the week and then two days off. A daily shot would include 250 mg. of Sustanon, 200 mg. of Enthanate and 300 mg. of Deca. So that’s 3,750 mgs. a week plus orals. I’d usually take one oral at a time, like D-Bol or Anadrol. I can’t speak for other bodybuilders, just for myself and what I’ve done. Anything over that-man, that’s a lot of shit to take a shot with that everyday!
Do you think there are guys who use more than you did?
Yes! (laughs) I have no factual evidence of that, it’s just my opinion. You can only go by what other pros tell you. The guys usually tell you the lesser amounts they take.
But let’s just clear something up for people reading this. Although drugs play a big part in bodybuilding and other sports, it’s not the case that drugs alone make a champion. I could do whatever you did and probably would never look like you did.
Yep, yep, that’s definitely the case. But I’d have to say that I’ve taken a hefty amount of steroids in my career, and given my genetics, I don’t think I could have reached what I did without them. I mean, honestly, if it’s true that certain other pros are only taking a little bit of Winstrol, a little bit of this, then that’s like, wow!
You’re known as a hard trainer, a guy who busts ass in the gym. Now that you’re training naturally, how is your training any different than it was?
: I’d like to keep it the same, but not being on anything I can’t keep up the same weights. (enthusiastically) I’m still inclining the 150 pound dumbbells for one or two reps. If I go into a gym and the heaviest weights they’ve got are 150 pound dumbbells and I can crank them out on the incline press naturally, I’m happy! But I can’t do that every workout because I can’t recuperate the same way I did.
I can take a couple days off and say I want to train chest and save up for that day, save up my energy and plan for that specific day, then train hard on that one day, but then I’m going to be sore for five days or a week and I’ll have to recuperate, whereas when I was “on” I could do everything and do that chest workout with 500 on the incline, the 150s on the incline, then do flyes, then the next day train something else. I can’t do what I once did. I can’t do all the forced reps. Maybe one all out set, but the next day I’m going to feel it. Having to change up my training does make me hold back a little bit. It’s been a change.
Mike, you used to go up to 285 pounds in the offseason [at a height of 5'7"]. Now that you’re natural you’re never going to be able to do that again. Psychologically, are you okay with that?
I’ve mentally prepared myself for it. I’m putting my health as my number one concern now. Bodybuilding is a dangerous, dare devilish like sport. You’re risking your health for maximum size. I’ve done that for several years and now I’m reversing things and focusing on my health. I’m prepared to lose as much as I have to lose so my health will be how I want it to be. That said, I feel great knowing I’m 100% natural, that all of the drugs are out of my life now and that I can do what I have been doing now. When I look in the mirror now, I feel good because I know this is everything I have achieved on my own. If it was just drugs I would have lost it. You see other pro bodybuilders who come off and they shrink, they look like shit. I feel good and I feel confident with the way I look.
Do you think you were fairly placed in your contests?
I was always disappointed with my placings, especially with the Night of Champions. As a bodybuilder, as an athlete, you always shoot for number one. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think I should have won, and maybe, to be fair, I don’t think I should have placed in the top five, but I think I should have been placed higher than where I was. The Night of Champions was a tough show because you always had a ton of guys, like forty guys, and you’ve gotta place them somewhere. Between the guy who places fifteenth and the guy who placed seventh, you’re splitting hairs. Its apples and oranges.
So you feel you were being overlooked? It wasn’t politics of something?
There are so many factors that play into it. Politics is one of them. People have contracts and that counts as politics. Favoritism with the judges. I think there is also an underlying politics of whose faces show up in the magazines, who gets talked about and hyped up. Sometimes there’s a buzz about someone. Like Richard Jones. Rich Jones did the Night of Champions one year and he got third. I’m very good friends with Rich, but I believe he got third because of the hype he got from the USAs. He looked incredible at the USAs-
But he didn’t look that way at the Night of Champions.
Everyone was talking and expecting him to do so well and the judges gave him that first glance. I think there’s a lot of that that goes on in bodybuilding.
It’s going to be sad not to see you on IFBB stages anymore, but I think most people who really care about the sport and the athletes will applaud what you’re doing.
I’m a big fan myself and I’ve been in this as long as I have been because I love it. I hope people can learn from me and my example. I know a lot of guys who want to be number one and are willing to do anything to get there. But they need to understand it is a big risk to their health. People need to open their eyes and realize they are risking their lives to do it. At this point, if I can educate some bodybuilders and make them realize what they’re doing, I think that’s a good thing. I’d like to get involved in bodybuilding as a judge or something. I just won’t be up on stage.