Natural Bodybuilder Lawrence Hasannah
How do you see bodybuilding fitting into your life?
Bodybuilding for me is an integral part of the total life equation, not so much bodybuilding but fitness and health overall. I originally started bodybuilding to strengthen a shoulder injury that I incurred at birth; I quickly fell in love with sculpting my body and making it stronger, and have been lifting for 16 years now. My main aim in life is to expand in various arenas such as health, fitness, education, financially, socially, creatively, mentally, etc. So for me bodybuilding is a part of the whole, a part of a balanced lifestyle.
What are your other interests?
My other interests are art, travel, philosophy, science, and writing; at least up to this point in my life. I plan to expand past these areas and include more in my life. My primary talent is my art work; I've been able to draw very well from a young age. It comes easy for me, and I take great pleasure in creating new artistic pieces. I have worked in a variety of mediums and on a variety of surfaces. I work with all types of paint, as well as pencils, I also presently do a lot of computer-aided design. I have done murals, logos, tattoo designs, canvases, sculpture, clothing, etc. In fact I see my physique as another form of artistic expression
I'm currently working on illustrations for my own books as well as for clients. I also have been commissioned for canvases and posters, so art takes up a fair degree of my time.
I would like to travel more, and see that bodybuilding will allow me to do this. I recently visited Oakland and San Francisco, California, to do a photo shoot with Richard Goodman. I had never been to California, so it was an adventure. I have been to England, Canada, France, and Holland, and my goal is to visit every country on earth at least once, so I have a bit of travel ahead of me.
What are your competitive plans?
What are your other plans for the next few years?
My plans for the next few years are:
· Develop my artistic skill to a level twice as potent as it is now.
· Become known throughout the world as a teacher and educator of peak physical training.
· Become known throughout the world as an artist of substance.
· Marry a woman who respects me and what I'm doing.
· Compete in the world's best natural bodybuilding shows.
· Travel to more places on the planet.
· Create an income level that allows me true financial freedom.
· Expand my education, learn more.
· To wake up every day and be happy to start the day.
· To assist my friends and family in their endeavors.
Where were you born and at what age did you come to the United States?
I was born in London, England. I lived there until I was about nine years old and moved to a place called Hastings, East Sussex, which is not far from Dover. I had a very good education there and was involved in all types of interests such as science, mathematics, music, art, sports (rugby, football, gymnastics, cricket, etc). Hastings was a quiet seaside town on the southern tip of England. I moved to New York City with my family when I was 13 years old-what a culture shock it was. We went from a quiet seaside town to a hard, gritty area of Brooklyn. This took a bit of time to get used to.
When did you start bodybuilding and what got you into it?
I started bodybuilding, or lifting weights, when I was 16 years old. I was a skinny kid (155 lbs at 5 ft 10 inches) and wanted to fill out a bit. I also had incurred an injury at birth that left my right arm weaker and smaller than my left, and this was painfully obvious to me. I decided to do something about it and started to train. Initially I made progress, specifically in the area of strength. When I was 18 I was already squatting 500 lbs for 10 reps, and this was done at a body weight of 180 lbs or so. I just kept going with it until it became more than just fixing a perceived weakness. I would say it was the sum total of vanity, wanting to be fitter, and doing something that I could excel at that kept me going. Nowadays I train to stay optimally fit. My goal is to retain a peak level of fitness well into my centurion age, sort of like Jack Lalanne.
Do you do much personal training?
Actually I did personal train for 10 years, but this no longer poses a challenge to me, so mentally I had to move on and conquer other peaks. I currently offer consultation services to assist people with their training, diet, mindset, etc. I also am currently available for seminars on improving fitness and physique.
I'm also developing my artistic career with the aim of making it exceptional.
Where do you work out?
I currently work out at home, no weights just isometric training, and Charles Atlas style. Only kidding, I currently train at New York Health and Racquet Club in New York City. The club offers everything I need to do the job. I have friends (Tom Dinatale and Charles Diamano) over there who make the pain easier to handle.
What are your stats (weight, height, measurements)?
Here they are: years training 16 (approximately); starting body weight, 155 lbs.; top body weight, 230ish (I believe; different scales tell different tales)--typically range between 200-220 lbs. (depending on how much I eat). Extremely fast metabolism (even during a three-month layoff my body fat didn't go above 9%). Off-season typical body fat estimation around 7%. In season I just adjust my water levels via training and slight reduction in carbs. Height, 5'11-3/4. Chest measurement pumped 50ish (ranges from 49-50 inches depending on how many carbs I eat). Waist-was 29, now 30 due to increased muscle in the lower back and oblique area). Biceps cold, currently 19.75" pumped 20+ (dependent on carb intake). Thighs 27" cold pumped (unsure). Calves, 17" cold.
What is your training and nutrition philosophy?
I lift extremely heavy, utilizing various rep ranges, and speeds. I use mid range, full range, and partial ranges.
Off-season I train three times a week (advice that most people would do well to follow because you grow when you rest).
I divide my muscle groups into four areas. These are (1) chest/arms, (2)back/shoulders, (3) quads, and (4).hams/calves.
I train each area directly once every nine days or so. I can do this because I select exercises that stimulate growth all over the body. For example, when I do incline presses my triceps and shoulders are receiving a lot of work, indirectly. I train very heavy so it takes me a long time to recover.
Typically I train a day, rest two days, then train a day and rest two more. The only workouts that are back to back are my quad and ham/calves workouts.
Training like this allows me to train progressively heavier every time I train, I don't plateau much, and even if I do it doesn't last more than two weeks.
Reps range between 3-80.
I don't do many sets. Typically I average work sets (hard sets to failure) per large muscle group chest, back, quads, hams. Smaller areas receive 1-3 sets. Calves receive more sets approximately five.
I do no direct abdominal work, I don't have to with the exercises I pick and the weight I lift. I haven't done abdominals directly for continuous workouts for over 10 years now.
I don't perform cardiovascular exercise in the traditional sense, yet my cardiovascular system is very healthy.
I eat fairly balanced, aiming for 5-7 small feedings a day. Caloric intake, around 5,000 off-season, in season probably 4,500 or so.
My nutrient intake profile is approximately 30% protein, 55% carbs, 15% fat (estimation). People with faster metabolic rates should eat higher levels of carbs, so that's why I do. In season I add what I call pump workouts in between my heavy days. These consist of high rep (20-30) super setting exercises. So instead of training three times a week it goes up to around five (this is only done before a show).
I put great emphasis on what I call the power triad (muscles of the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back). When these areas are worked intensely your body ramps up its output of IGF, GH, and testosterone. Of course care must be taken not to overtrain them as this can lead to high levels of cortisol, and we wouldn't want that.
I base my training on the following exercises: squats, deadlifts, chest presses, upright row motions, dips, pulldowns or pullups, bent rows, overhead presses, and pullovers.
All trainees should make use of these exercises as they increase natural anabolic drive.
So you make use of a lot of basic hardcore movements?
Yes, I do, and I suggest that people who are interested in adding lean muscle mass and strength rapidly also train in a similar way. If you do these exercises, eat a balanced diet, and add sufficient rest your body is forced to grow and get stronger. It has no other choice.
Workouts are a stress and are traumatic to the body. The body has a limited level of adaptability. As a result, your workouts are always a negative. To stimulate growth, workouts must be intense (in other words harder not longer; there is a difference), but by being intense they can lead to a drop in recovery capacity.
The way to avoid this is to keep your workouts brief and intense-intense to stimulate growth, and brief to prevent your recovery ability from being used up. After the workout you must rest-the muscles, nervous system, heart, kidneys, etc., are stressed and need rest and reduced stress to allow for recovery and overcompensation.
Mike Mentzer and Art Jones discuss this in their books, even though I personally think Mike's later ideas on training are not as effective as his earlier teachings.
When I consult with my clients I always start them off with a base of three workouts a week; after a month I adjust this depending upon what their needs are. Some people need to include more exercise (in particular cardio) because they wish to get smaller. If your goal is rapid fat-free muscle mass then training three times a week on nonconsecutive days is where it's at for most drug-free trainees.
What supplements do you currently take?
I supplement my diet with creatine and glutamine; I notice an increase in recovery and power output with these. I don't believe that heavy supplementation helps; the most important factor is the workout followed by adequate rest and nutrition. I'm also looking into mineral supplementation as I hear that this can increase overall results.
Do you have any suggestions on how a natural trainee can enhance his/her knowledge?
Well, yes, I do. Everyone who is truly interested in drug-free gains should have the following books in their library: Brawn, Beyond Brawn, Heavy Duty 1 (not 2 or any of the later books), Blood and Guts, Dinosaur Training, Ripped 1, 2, and 3, Nautilus Bulletin 1, Super Squats. Read anything by Dr. Ken Leistner and Art Jones.
To round out your understanding, read college level books on nutrition, anatomy, and basic cellular bio. Oh, yeah, try to get books by Vince Gironda. And don't forget my books once they come out.
Do you have anything else that you would like to include?
Yes, I am currently available for fitness consultation, program design, and seminars. I also written four books on achieving outstanding natural results. These will be available soon.
I would also like to thank Richard Goodman of Musclephotos.com for his support and friendship. I would also like to thank my family and friends who have put up with me.