A Peek inside the Mind of Lee Hayward – Our Exclusive andOfficial Interview with Lee

Lee Hayward on ALIFTING

One busy day when I opened my email’s inbox, I really wasn’t expecting it, but Lee responded to our proposal for an interview. I never believed that this well-known bodybuilder is really down-to-earth as to respond as quickly as he did. After that we arranged this interview and now this is our exclusive interview with the great, Mr. Lee Hayward. He runs his site on Leehayward.com.

Below he shares his thoughts on dieting, beginner training, losing fat, cycling MACROS, resources, how he started out, his favorite lifts, competing (and him going back to competing), his favorite Mr. Olympia, PLUS he shared his favorite pose and one of his videos posing. Enjoy the interview and again, thank you for making this interview possible, Lee Hayward! 

Good day, first of all how are things going in your bodybuilding career

The last time I competed on stage was in 2011. I’ve taken a little hiatus from competition because I’ve been competing in bodybuilding almost every year since 1995 so it’s nice to have a break. But I’m still training consistently and doing a lot of coaching. My goal now is to make a competition come back within the next year or two and compete in the Master’s Bodybuilding Division.

(Lee’s Deadlift workout)

Lee Hayward on ALIFTING


So Lee, what motivated you to start lifting weights? What was it like the
first time you lifted Iron and what was your life like before lifting?

Well I started lifting at 12 years old, so I didn’t have much life experience before lifting. But my main motivation to workout was to avoid getting picked on and bullied in school. During my grade school years I was also involved in martial arts for the same reason. Working out was something I really enjoyed and I got a lot of family support because my father was very active himself. He helped me get started lifting weights by setting up a home gym in our basement and he encouraged me to workout consistently and eat healthy.

Was there any difference in the way you trained when you were a beginner and now when you are advanced? And what do you think are the modifications that a newbie has to make with his regimen once he is no longer in the level of a beginner (if any)?

The problem with a lot of novice lifters is that they are so excited about working out that they often do too much, too soon, and end up over training. I can remember as a teenager doing 4 hour long workouts and training every body part in a single session. I loved being in the gym and I was so impatient and desperate for growth that I’d do a set of bicep curls and then measure my arms, do another set of curls and measure my arms again to see if they had grown LOL

The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years is that bodybuilding takes time. You can’t force your body to grow. When it comes to building muscle all you can do is provide the elements of proper training, nutrition, and rest so that you let your body grow.

It’s kind of similar to growing a garden, you can’t force a plant to grow. All you can do is provide the right environment (i.e. water, soil, sunshine, etc.) and let it grow. The body works the same way. The sooner one realizes how the process works, the better progress they’ll make.

One thing that I have to constantly remind beginners is that taking rest days is just as important to the muscle building process as training days. In fact, I’ve made my best strength and muscle gains by training just 3 days per week.

What do you think are the most important aspects of weight training that
every lifter must keep in mind?

It’s very important to learn how to lift with proper exercise form and how to stretch and contract the muscles with each repetition, rather than just going through the motions. This is known as the “mind muscle connection”. It’s an awareness within the body that advanced lifters develop which allows them to simulate muscle growth in the targeted muscles being worked.

It’s also important to learn the difference between “good pain” and “bad pain” when pushing yourself in the gym. We’ve all heard the phase: NO PAIN, NO GAIN. Well that’s not necessarily true, because there is “good pain” and “bad pain” in the gym.

When you perform an exercise and feel blood being pumped into the muscle, the lactic acid burn, and exhaustion from muscle fatigue – this is all “good pain”. And then 48 hours after your workout when you feel the delayed onset muscle soreness and you are stiff in the body parts you previously trained – this is also “good pain”. These things are all part of productive weight training workouts.

However, if you feel a sharp pull or strain in the muscles, joints, tendons, or ligaments that’s “bad pain” which could lead to a potential injury. As bodybuilders we are constantly on the edge of pushing the body hard enough to simulate muscle growth, but at the same time trying to hold back just enough so that we don’t get injured. As you develop more awareness within your body you’ll learn where that fine line is of pushing the limit without going over. But unfortunately it usually takes going over the limit and getting injured a few times before we can truly develop this level of awareness.

A motto that I go by when working out is “Live To Lift Another Day”.

What this means is if there is any doubt in your ability to perform an exercise with a certain weight – don’t do it. Either lighten the weight or perform another exercise instead. You will not lose any progress by being cautious and remaining injury free. But if you push beyond your limits and injure yourself this could set you back weeks, months, and in some cases you may never fully recover from an injury.

It’s better for your long term gains in the gym to play it safe, error on the conservative side, and “Live To Lift Another Day”.

What is your favorite lift?

I really try not to have a single favorite lift because there are so many good lifts. But since you’re putting me on the spot I’m going to say Deadlifts.

The deadlift is the oldest of all weight training exercises and is one of the most effective exercises for overall body development. It is the purest single test of strength because it is one of the few lifts where you lift a dead weight off the ground.

Lee Hayward’s Back Workout

Lee Hayward Deadlifts alot!


Could someone with a 9-5 Day job (or nightshift job) still aspire to train
to become a decent bodybuilder? What about if he/she has kids and family?

Absolutely, most recreational bodybuilders work full time jobs and simply go to the gym as a hobby. There are very few people who actually earn a living from just bodybuilding alone. Even most professional bodybuilders have jobs on the side to make ends meat because there isn’t a lot of money in the sport of bodybuilding.

So becoming a bodybuilder while working and raising a family can be done. But it does take extra planning and prioritizing your life so that you can schedule in gym time and family time around your work schedule. I know of several people who get up early and go to the gym before work, then go to their 9-5 job, and then have their evenings free for family time. While it certainly does take a lot of discipline, it can be done.

What dietary regimen would you recommend for someone who wants to build
lean mass and at the same time lose fat?

The main purpose of bodybuilding for most guys is to gain muscular bodyweight. However, while bulking up and trying to build muscle a lot of guys end up gaining too much bodyfat in the process.

When you get fat from bulking it’s usually because you are trying to gain weight too quickly by eating as much food as you can and doing as little activity as possible, with the exception of your weight training workouts.

But a better approach for “clean bulking” is to treat your bulking program with the same mentality that you would a fat loss cutting program, the only difference is that you’re going to be in a slight caloric surplus for growth.

When people cut for fat loss, especially competitive bodybuilders, they are very meticulous with following a strict regime of training, nutrition, and lifestyle. They are consistent with their workouts, consistent with their cardio, and they are eating preplanned meals like clock work. And that’s why competitive bodybuilders are by far the most successful dieters for getting real world results.

If you take that same approach to your bulking program you can make lean muscle gains and keep the bodyfat gains to a minimum. So pre plan your meals in advance and stick to a strict clean eating schedule, no more of this “see food eat food” dirty bulking.

In addition to that, doing regular cardio during your bulk can help you make leaner gains and speed up recovery from weight training. In moderation cardio does NOT cause muscle loss. But it will make you feel better, have more energy, and you’ll be a lot leaner and healthier from doing cardio.

Do you also cycle any of your macros? How does one cycle correctly?

There are several ways to incorporate cycling of the macro-nutrients. The most popular method and the one that I recommend is carbohydrate cycling. Purposely going through phases of high, medium, and low carb dieting – often times doing all 3 over the course of the same week – can yield good results.

When you go through the high carb phase it helps replenish your glycogen stores and aids with muscle growth. Then when you go through the medium and low carb phases you can really tap into burning stored bodyfat for fuel.

The way I usually structure a carb cycle diet plan is:

2-3 days high carbs (eat carbs with each meal)
2-3 days with medium carbs (eat carbs with breakfast and dinner)
2-3 days of low carbs (eat no simple or starchy carbs at all)

The specific details of the diet will vary from person to person and what they are training for (i.e. mass building or fat loss) but that’s a general overview of how a carb cycle diet plan works.

Do you think supplements are important overall?

Bodybuilding supplements can help you meet your nutritional needs, especially the basic stuff like protein powder, creatine, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc. But supplements are not as powerful as many supplement companies would like you to believe. Regardless of what the magazine ads say, you are not going to get huge and ripped from taking supplements alone.
You can definitely build muscle and lose fat from just proper diet and training. I always recommend that people focus on maximizing their diet and training program first before worrying about what supplements they should take.

Who is your favourite Mr Olympia of all time; from Larry Scott to present?

During my teenage years when I started competing in bodybuilding Dorian Yates was the reigning Mr. Olympia and I was a huge Dorian fan. I loved his serious no BS attitude towards training. I tried to model a lot of my own workouts after what Dorian did. I read everything that I could get my hands on about Dorian Yates and his training methods. And you have to remember that was a lot harder to do back in the early 1990’s because we didn’t have the Internet back then. My access to training information was quite limited compared to what it’s like today.

Dorian yates



Why do bodybuilders look and pose differently today than in the times of Frank Zane? I honestly love the classic contrapostro ballet like poses of the classic bodybuilders and I wonder why that’s rare in the stage nowadays – for instance you will rarely (if ever) see the “Vacuums” anymore?

I think it’s mostly because posing is hard work and the judges don’t place enough emphasis on posing in competition like they used to. If the posing routine was a judged round that actually counted towards the competitors placing I think more people would spend time on their posing routines.

Right now most guys will slap together a half assed posing routine, or just wing it, because they know that it doesn’t really matter in the greater scheme of things. Today the main thing that judges look for is muscularity, size, and conditioning. The actual posing presentation doesn’t get the same level of attention.

All in all where do you think the Sport of Bodybuilding is going to? Feel
free to share any crazy ideas you might have in mind.

I think physique competition may eventually take over mens bodybuilding in popularity, just like figure and bikini competitions have taken over womens bodybuilding. Most guys today do not want to look like a 300 pound modern day pro bodybuilder. But they would love to look like a ripped 200 pound physique competitor. Today’s physique competitors resemble more of what the old school “pumping iron” era bodybuilders used to look like. And that’s very appealing to most people.

Any major competitions you will be participating into, Lee? When will you
be crowned Mr Olympia? 🙂

LOL when I was younger I had dreams of becoming Mr. Olympia. But now I realize that I simply don’t have the genetic potential to achieve that kind of development. To put it in perspective, you have better odds of winning the lottery than you do of winning the Mr. Olympia. When you consider that there are millions of people world wide in gyms lifting weights, but there have only been 13 men win the Mr. Olympia title since 1965, it really goes to show just how elite and prestigious that title really is.

Can you share with us a video of one of your poses?

Sure, this is one of my favorites from 2007 where I won the Light Heavyweight Class & Overall at the Newfoundland Bodybuilding Championships. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QR_e5GrdeQ

[embedplusvideo height=”367″ width=”450″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1KRtquk” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/2QR_e5GrdeQ?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=2QR_e5GrdeQ&width=450&height=367&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep2188″ /]

What is your advice to someone who wants to learn how to do onstage posing correctly?

Get a personal coach who is an experienced bodybuilder and a good poser to help you practice your posing. Posing is one of the hardest things to learn, and it’s also very hard to teach because you need a good eye and a lot of patience.

Another thing that is vitally important to becoming a good poser is to video tape yourself posing. It’s amazing what you can see on video that you’ll never see when looking at yourself in the mirror. The video will show your transitions between each pose, and this is very often what makes or breaks a posing routine. A lot of guys look good once they get into a pose, but it’s how smooth they are in their transitions between poses that separates a good poser from a great poser.

Do you remember the first scene in the Pumping Iron movie that showed Arnold and Franco getting lessons from the ballet instructor? That was very important because she was teaching them how to transition from pose to pose, that attention to detail is what made them look great on stage.

What is your strongest and you favourite pose? The two can be two different poses.

My favorite pose is the twisting back double bicep pose. This was made popular by Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s the same pose that the statue of Arnold is doing in front of the convention center in Columbus Ohio.
(image source)

Arnold Double Bicep statue


It’s a hard pose to master, but it’s one that I’ve practiced over and over again, and I always include that pose in my posing routine.

(Image Source)

lee hayward double back biceps


I am curious; if someone has a great physique but has a bad skin (like lesions, pustules, lesions scars, etc.) – is it still advisable for him to compete? Overall what do you think is the importance of skin health in bodybuilding and how do you take care of your skin?

Honestly, I think that the condition of our skin has a lot to do with genetics and things that are beyond our control. When I was younger I had really bad acne and I tried everything to fix it. I was seeing dermatologist and was prescribed several acne medications from pills and creams and nothing worked. But eventually by the time I got into my mid twenties my acne just cleared up on it’s own, and by this stage I had given up on the medication and wasn’t taking anything.

I don’t think that someone should let things like that prevent them from bodybuilding. While you may never get that perfect flawless “cover model” look that advertisers want, you can still reap the health and fitness benefits that bodybuilding has to offer.

Where do you usually train nowadays? Any chance we get to workout with you?

I have my own home gym set up in my basement and that’s where I’m training right now. It’s a small gym but it has all the essentials of a power rack, barbells, dumbbells, and cable pulleys. I really enjoy my little hardcore home gym.

As for working out with me, if you are ever in Newfoundland and would like to join me for a workout, just let me know 🙂

One last thing Lee, please share with some resources, products, and works which you think might help – any recommendations? And do you offer personal training?

There are 2 resources that I’d recommend.

The first one is the Total Fitness Bodybuilding Workout App. This is a smart phone app for android and apple devices that people can download at: http://www.leehayward.com/app The app contains workout programs, sample diet plans, bodybuilding recipes, as well as a complete exercise database showing videos of the best muscle building exercises. It’s like having your very own trainer right on your smart phone!

The second resource is the the Total Fitness Bodybuilding Inner Circle Coaching Club at: http://www.TotalFitnessBodybuilding.com This is a private members only website where I personally help people with their diet and training programs. I’m in there everyday chatting with my coaching students on our discussion forum and live video chats. The thing I like about the Total Fitness Bodybuilding Inner Circle Coaching Club is that it’s a small and supportive group of like minded people who all share the same fitness goals.

So if someone is looking to step up their training to the next level and get in their best shape, these 2 resources will definitely help them.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this exclusive interview! Lee, thanks again! Guys, please share your comment bellow and share this article and retweet to your friends out there! Eat your Eggs, people!

A-Lifter- Don't forget to leave your comment/feedback below.  If this article was helpful, I am sure our book Real Talk Muscle will help you even more in your quest for muscle gain. Check it out you can read the first few chapters as well.


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