The Big Interview: Steve ‘Mobster’ aka BULK POWDERS™ Superhero and Iron Grip Champion
If you visit internet forums, you might know his name from the impartial advice he likes to dish out to those who want to know better and those who should know better. Or perhaps you might recognise him as the burglar stopping hero whose house was broken into by a very (we would imagine) surprised man who just wanted a tasty protein supper.
Mobster (or Steve if you meet him out of a forum) is a 6”3, 19 st (121kg) world record holder whose 330kg one hand lift at the British Iron Grip Championships in 2007 went down as the stuff of legends. Steve has been there, seen it and done it – he’s frank, honest and often brutal – a real go-to guy for no bullshit advice. He enjoys being an inspirational figure in bodybuilding, hates chain gyms because he breaks the equipment, and once sat on a burglar in his pants. He might be a tough man to take on if you’ve been drinking his supplements, but when we asked him to chat about his views on how building muscle has changed over the years he was eager to help. And it makes for interesting reading….
At BULK POWDERS™ we feel everyone has the right to their own opinion. The views of Mobster are his own, and whether you agree or disagree with him, let us know – we’d love to hear what you think. Just contact us via Facebook or Twitter to air your own opinion on the subjects he covers below.
However, if you disagree, you might want to do it quietly (just ask the burglar)….
Are there any supplements new to the market you feel have recently grown massively in popularity?
Pre-workout products have really taken off. Four years ago no-one really bothered with pre-workouts and now they are a huge market. Hormones have also gone up in popularity. There are fad products that come and go which will always be the focus of attention for a while too.
Are supplements cleaner? Cheaper? Better?
Overall, everything is much better now in terms of value for money. Most (if not all the products) are much cheaper than they should be, and the entire market has been forced down to offering cheaper prices. There is less inflation in the price rises than there should be, and companies are reducing their profit margins and absorbing the difference.
The products now are much cheaper, and often much better even though the sale price is so low.
Has the gym mix changed (bodybuilders / lifters / general fitness)?
In the past 34 years I’ve spent my time with bodybuilders so I can only really judge this from the hardcode side. The gym I visit has always been and always will be full of people who mean business.
There has always been a high percentage of people wanting or maintaining their ‘athlete’ physique, but in the last two to three years there’s been a massive rise in the ‘beach body physique’ – skinny legs, big arms and toned abs – the kind of look that girls find attractive.
The hardcore bodybuilder look isn’t widely accepted in the mass market – people tend to think of these guys as freaks and would much rather aspire to get the kind of body that will attract women. I imagine the numbers of these guys in a chain gym have shrunk slightly, although there will always be a core market of these kind of physiques.
How influential do you feel modern media such as internet forums and muscle magazines are on the way people are training these days?
The whole gym mix is heavily defined by the media, and it follows fads and fashion trends. What was previously acceptable isn’t so much now, and this will swing round and round and keep going – the same way that clothes and music go in and out of fashion. The mass market is into what’s being sold to them – which is the ‘beach body’ physique, but the bodybuilder look will come back in eventually!
Look at The Rock – he seems like a nice guy, talks well and is a figurehead for his particular look. He will bring the bodybuilder look back into vogue – all he needs is to be featured in a mainstream publication like Nuts or FHM and the focus will shift from beach body to bodybuilder.
The Olympics was also a factor in driving more people to gyms and sending them after the athletic physique. It pushed people to aspire to something and made you want to head to the gym. The media pushed the physique of Olympians like Louis Smith on us, and everyone wanted to look just like him.
At the end of the day the alpha male will lead and tell the rest of the pack what to do. It used to be Arnie, and look what happened there…..
YouTube is a massive channel now as a way of watching bodybuilders working out and then trying to replicate their form and workouts. Do you feel this is a good way to learn?
The internet has massively changed the way people train, but it’s an information overload. And sadly a huge amount of that information is just broscience.
Take MuscleTalk for example – on the most popular sections the guys on there will admit they don’t actually know what they’re talking about – broscience absolutely rules. And what do newcomers do? Who should they follow? I’m not saying that all broscience is rubbish, but it follows the same pattern as fad and celebrity diets – sensible doesn’t sell. All people need are the basics – but boring also doesn’t sell, so people come up with broscience. All this newer and better stuff is bullshit, if it’s tried and tested then we all know it and we all know it works.
I’m a fan of YouTube in that I have my own YouTube videos and if they are inspiring to others then that’s great. YouTube can be a great motivational tool but only if the people in the videos actually know what they are talking about – and this is hard to tell. If you want to be inspired and entertained then head to YouTube, but only train the way you want to train. There are plenty of professionals whose advice can be found on the internet – you can easily search YouTube for documentaries rather than watching videos by kids full of broscience tips.
My advice? Google the name of an expert and watch their videos. Get the basics down first, which is what any expert who knows his stuff will tell you. Let yourself make mistakes as you go so you can learn what works for your own body – following someone else’s broscience tips will rob you of that invaluable learning curve.
Have you noticed the impact of the Men’s Health / Men’s Fitness type media?
That’s exactly where the whole ‘beach body’ physique has come from. The protein and creatine industry in the UK is worth £300 million, and the biggest magazine is Men’s Fitness with nearly eight times as many readers as Flex magazine. The mass market is huge and everyone wants a slice of the mainstream.
Companies have changed themselves and what they stand for to get a slice of the profits this huge market is churning over. It’s a huge audience and if you want your products and your company to survive then this is where you need to be pitching them.
The media has recently gone crazy over abs. Everyone has great abs and this could lead back to bodybuilding…. maybe. I’m in the hardcore 1%, but everyone in the mass market, 99%, is currently obsessed with abs. There will be an eventual shift in the market, and that will be dictated by these kind of magazines.
What’s the impact of the mass chain gym?
Cost price. The chain gym has forced down membership fees to an all time low, and it’s now cheaper than ever to join one.
They have also had an effect on the law – you used to not be able to get out of contracts but now you can – gyms were making it difficult to cancel by sticking certain conditions into your contract, and the Office of Fair Trading has cracked down on these.
The chain gym has also meant far more availability, and more places offering a high level. They are available everywhere, for all kinds of people with different abilities. Because so many gyms have opened up, the market is now completely saturated and the gyms don’t make much money off of your membership – which is why if you want to buy anything from a supplement to a coffee in a gym you’ll be overcharged – they need to make their money somewhere.
They are no good for me though as I max out the equipment. These posh places have cheap gyms mostly, meaning the equipment isn’t great and the weights aren’t heavy enough.
Has all the new gym equipment had any real impact?
Is it beneficial? No. Has it made an impact? Yes. Most people like the idea of new stuff – things with bells and whistles. But this will only dilute what you are doing – I can’t stress enough the importance of basics. You can easily workout at home with all the stuff you’ll need – and it’s much better to do this.
I couldn’t use half of the new equipment found in gyms – I’d break it. But a young lad just starting out would think he needs to go on every piece of equipment and this is where the message becomes very diluted – concentrating on how to bench press properly would see much greater results.
It’s just all a bit unnecessary, confusing and it dilutes focus and takes away from stuff that works. You don’t need to do a little bit of everything. Just do a lot of the stuff that works.
Are gym users still basing their workouts around old school tried and tested movements or is there more of a shift towards experimentation, moving away from standard compound lifts?
Yes it’s moving away but it shouldn’t be – and broscience is the culprit. It’s like the people that come in for a 12 week workout – the ones that join the gym a couple of months before their summer holiday. They come in eager, workout and then bugger off. These are the guys that are experimental – and they never maintain it. These people make up around 97% of a gyms membership – and they never come back.
The experimental stuff is a trend and when it has gone the tried and tested stuff will remain. Broscience advice on experimental stuff is the kind of thing that can cause injuries. I’m all for experimenting – it keeps you mentally stimulated and makes your workout interesting, but you should start with the basics and add in bits as you go. Then review what works for you and what doesn’t.
Have you noticed a shift in the ‘go to’ supplements of the younger generation?
A lot of stuff coming in is just there to make money, but others have new ingredients, better ingredients, and the quality is much higher than it used to be.
A lot of the people who take pre-workout supplements are making themselves immune to the effect that caffeine has on their body so they want newer supplements that will work for them. This will keep on cycling around.
But what tends to happen with supplements is that what works doesn’t always make money. If you label something with ‘new, improved, latest, best’ it will sell. But people can still build up a resistance to these and they’ll get bored and move onto something else with those kind of claims on the label.
BULK POWDERS™ use ingredients that are the same as premium whey protein – and that’s what really works. Forget fancy labels and new stickers – basic protein works perfectly well – it might be boring but it’s proven. You can’t go wrong with quality whey protein.
There is a perception that newer supplements will be better but this isn’t always the case. Take the aminos that were made from silk – these cost more and were more popular. But the results they gave were no different than those from cheaper brands. The name will always sell the supplement which is a shame.
What should come first – supplements or more informed nutrition?
Nutrition should always come first – you should never rely completely on powders. It’s lifestyle and nutrition that make the difference – in order of importance it should be 1. eating properly, 2. gym 3. supplements. Supplements aren’t diet replacement products and they’re not miracle workers – they are for people with common sense who want to get their best from their workouts.
There are many ways to get protein into the diet with people getting more and more adventurous in their food choices. How has your diet changed over the last 10 years? Has it even changed dramatically over the last few years?
I consume huge amounts of protein – 240g a day. But I also eat three square meals a day too. My diet has changed over the years but that’s due to my age mainly.
My supplement needs have changed too – again due to my age. Due to all the heavy lifting I’ve done I take care of my joints now, which includes taking joint care products from BULK POWDERS™. I take Test Boosters because of my age and also my history and I take Aspartic Acid for my sexual health and my joints. I also use Beta Alanine which is something I’d not taken before. The enzymes help to digest the amount of protein I take.
Over the years my diet has changed due to the supplements I’ve taken and vice versa.
Do you feel people are more clued up these days about where to go for their supplementation needs to get the best value for money?
No. They still want to know what to do, where to go, what to take. There is now too much information available, and it just confuses people – it doesn’t help them. People still want to head to forums and asks questions from people in the know rather than read through a tonne of information.
People should be more informed these days, but they aren’t. Young lads have no issue with the technology available to them but there’s just too much information out there to process. That’s why people still needs PTs – they prefer for someone else, someone in the know, to filter down the bits they need to know to them.
Who do you think are the role models of today’s young gym users? Do they still look up to the guys who have been around the block or are there new role models coming through?
I’m probably not the best person to ask about this because of my age, but I would say a few years ago it was all about 50 Cent, The Rock and Vin Diesel. For me, it’s Stallone but that’s because of my age. Mark Walhberg and The Rock have both been role models a few years ago and are coming back into the spotlight.
For newcomers, I think anyone with a six pack could count. There were a group that won Britain’s Got Talent who had very defined abs, plus the media will always highlight the latest popstars – people like One Direction who have put on some size. Justin Bieber – he’s lean, fit and girls like him – not a bad inspiration.
For more serious inspiration, I’d have to mention The Rock again. He looks like a bodybuilder and has a great physique for his age.
The Olympics put a few role models in the spotlight – Louis Smith and James DeGale come to mind. The Olympics got so much coverage that it really influenced people and the bodies of most of the athletes were achievable inspiration with a mass market appeal.