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The year has just begun and already people are calling him the top contender for the 1983 Mr America contest!
Bodybuilding circles are in a dither! From gyms in New York to California, from Alaska to Texas and Florida and even to Europe, the hot lines are buzzing. The word is out and spreading. There is a new physique phenomenon on the rise. All the chatter is centered on a 22 year old sensation named Matt Mendenhall who literally blew the minds of judges and spectators with his symmetry, muscularity and charisma at the 1982 NPC American Bodybuilding Championships on October 1 and 2 in New York.
Muscle Up scooped all the bodybuilding magazines again, bringing you the finest in new amateur physique talent, when we featured Matt as a "Star Of Tomorrow" in our last issue. We predicted that Matt would make a stunning impression at the NPC American championships and he did. This virtual unknown placed right behind Lee Haney for the win and beat out Tim Belknap in the Universe posedown. This places Matt as one of the top contenders for the 1983 title. Not only is he destined to be a Mr America, but he will also be one of the greatest and most celebrated physiques of all time. We at Muscle Up are pleased to give our readers a first in–depth interview with Matt.
MU: Who is Matt Mendenhall?
MATT: I am 22 years old, 5 ft 11 in [1.80 m] and off–season I weigh about 245 lbs [111 kg]. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and still live there. There are seven children in my family and I'm the youngest of four boys. I have been married since May 22 1982, to my wonderful wife, Lori. Right now I am employed by my father at MTSI a company that builds and designs turbine–power generator systems.
MU: What kind of person is Matt?
MATT: For the most part, I am the kind of person who makes a commitment and holds to it. I remember quitting the football team in my senior year of high school, because it took too much time away from my training. In the eyes of many, I was a quitter, but in my own mind I knew what I wanted. I had never even been in a contest before, but something inside of me told me I could be good in weight lifting. Since high school and a year at the Ohio College of Applied Science, I have had a number of jobs, but my mind has never strayed from bodybuilding. That is, no career job ever interested me enough to give up training time.
MU: When and why did you first start weight training?
MATT: I first started lifting while on the football team in ninth grade. All the kids on the team would bench press and do curls. This was really my introduction to lifting, but my training was stopped when I broke my arm later in the spring. Weight training has been in my family for a long time. My brother Mark trained for a few years and then left the weights to my brother Bobby. Now Mark has been back training for a couple of years and he just took second in his first show, the Mr Metropolitan Novice. I really can't say that weights were ever strange to me.
MU: Where do you currently train?
MATT: I split my training between my brother's gym, Mendenhall's Fitness Center, which my brother started in 1980, and John Parrillo's Ultra Sport and Fitness Center in Cincinnati.
MU: What types of training routines work best for you?
MATT: I train six days a week, using the combination of chest and back; shoulders, biceps and triceps; thighs and calves, while training abs every day. I try to stay around 20 to 25 sets on chest, back, and thighs, and around 15 to 20 sets on biceps, triceps, and shoulders. The key is to train hard, fast, and intense. So far, this has worked best for me.
MU: What sports were you involved in before you got seriously into bodybuilding?
MATT: In high school I was involved in football and track. I tried wrestling, but ironically enough I couldn't hack the dieting.
MU: I noticed there is a scar on your left arm. What is that from?
MATT: Those scars are from an injury I received in ninth grade while on the track team. I was one of two people who looked like they had any chance of making it as a pole vaulter. I wanted to be good so badly that I bought a pole and rigged up my own set–up at home for extra practice. One day after practice I was at home, working on my own set, when my pole broke while I was about 10 feet in the air. I landed right inside the pit and shattered my left arm at the wrist. The bones were sticking through the skin. I did a push–up to get up and dug the bones deep into the mud, infecting them. I underwent hours of surgery. The tendons to the first three fingers were cut in half, and they had to be sewn back and the bones reset. I was placed on antibiotics, but by the fifth day, my temperature had climbed to above 104°F [40°C] and I was scheduled for surgery. The wrist was to be amputated. When they came to prep me, my temperature had gone down two tenths of a degree and they decided to wait. By the end of the day, the temperature broke and went down to 102°F [38.8°C]. My wrist was saved and so was my future in bodybuilding! After 16 weeks in a cast and a year of physical therapy, I was told I would have only forty percent use of my left arm. It was then I started doing light workouts to try to rehabilitate my arm.
MU: Have you had any other injuries?
MATT: Yes, last year around this time I had surgery for an abscess, which knocked me out of about two months of leg training. I also injured my right knee six weeks prior to the Junior USA contest in Nashville. This knocked me out of that show altogether.
MU: When did you get hooked on bodybuilding and why?
MATT: I guess I really got hooked on bodybuilding after the first time I was on stage at the Mr Ohio High School contest in Youngstown, Ohio, in April of 1978. I didn't diet, had no tan and no posing routine. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved it. I took second in this contest, but couldn't wait to do it again.
MU: What contests have you competed in so far?
MATT: I have competed in a number of contests ever since I was seventeen. I took second in the Mr Ohio High School at seventeen. I took third in the Teenage Mr Ohio at eighteen. At nineteen, I won the Teen and Open Mr Metropolitan and I took third in the Mr Ohio Association. At twenty, I won the Mr Cincinnati and the Buckeye Open. Now, after a year and a half lay–off, the American Bodybuilding Championships.
MU: Coming in second in the Mr America to Lee Haney and beating Tim Belknap must have been pretty exciting moments for you. In your own words, describe your feelings on your performance at the contest and the outcome.
MATT: Coming into the contest as an unknown, I feel I did very well. I am not at all bitter about the outcome. I got a chance to meet and talk to Lee Haney backstage and you can't find a better person. Tim Belknap was only there to make the Universe team, so I was never really worried about him. I learn more about myself each year. Maybe next year I will do everything right.
MU: What was your diet for the American Bodybuilding Championships?
MATT: I started my diet 12 weeks before the show by dropping my calories down to 1800 and cutting out all junk foods. I tried to keep my fat intake as low as possible, but I didn't count carbohydrates. A typical day would be having a protein drink, consisting of protein powder, a banana, apple juice and ice for breakfast. In between breakfast and lunch I would eat a piece of fruit. For lunch I would have either fish or chicken and a vegetable. I would eat a similar meal for supper also. All my meats and vegetables were prepared in a steamer, to reduce the fat content of the meat.
MU: What supplements were you taking?
MATT: In the morning I would take a multi–pack of vitamins, minerals, lecithin, choline and inositol. Later in the day, I would take 100 mg of vitamin B complex and 1000 mg of vitamin C. At night I would take two multi–minerals, 100 mg vitamin C, 100 mg of vitamin B complex and extra potassium when needed.
MU: What was your training routine for the contest?
MATT: I'll write it down for your readers (see below). I would do forced reps on all sets except the first one of each exercise. About the only thing I didn't do forced reps on is squats.
MU: Your legs are very ripped. Did you do any running prior to the show?
MATT: No, my work schedule, along with working out, kept me busy enough. Trying to work running into my schedule was impossible.
MU: How did your wife, Lori, and family help you when training for the show?
MU: Lori has been behind my bodybuilding ever since we met on February 19, 1981. I was training for the Mr Cincinnati and Buckeye Open shows. Even though these were just local shows, she knew how much they meant to me. This was the first show I trained for since we've been married. It was hard to get used to being around each other all the time, because during previous shows I could see her when I wanted to see her. Not many people realize that when you can't eat, drink and party, your spouse can't either. That's what makes Lori so special: she is willing to stay with me all the way. There were times when I would come home feeling bad and I would bite Lori's head off for really no reason. She would just let it go in one ear and out the other and within minutes I would apologize. She is really understanding. My parents were really behind me for this show. I work for my dad's company and six weeks prior to the show, things slowed down, so my dad let me work half days to aid my training.
MU: In prejudging, you became ill and almost didn't make the show. What happened?
MATT: I cut out my fluids on the Wednesday before the show to dehydrate my body, to suck my skin up tight. Friday afternoon at the weigh–in I was 208 lbs [94 kg] and felt hot and flushed. My temperature was 102°F [38.8°C] and rising. I was over–dehydrated and in a dangerous position. The only way to lower my fever was to take in fluid. I didn't want to because I thought it would smooth me out, but I had no choice. I drank about a quart [1 l] of orange juice before my fever started to drop. At the prejudging, I must have weighed about 211 pounds [96 kg] and I felt much better and fuller.
MU: Did you carb up for the show or did you find it unnecessary?
MATT: After dropping my fluids on Wednesday, I started taking in high amounts of carbs on Thursday night. I really don't know how much it helped, but it sure is a nice way to end a 12 week diet.
MU: You are considered at present the top contender for next year's contest. What are your feelings on this?
MATT: It's a good feeling knowing that I made a good showing this year. As far as next year's contest goes, I am going to take the same mental attitude. I will get into my best physical condition and see what happens. I made outstanding progress from last year to this year. I just hope I can make the same or better progress this year to next.
MU: How do you plan to diet and train in the months ahead?
MATT: The first thing I am going to do is take a two week lay–off and spend it with my wife. When I start training again, it will be three days on, one day off. I will stay with this all the way through the winter. In the spring I will pick my training up to six days a week and gradually pick up the intensity until the show. I will start my diet about 12 weeks prior to the show, dropping my calories to 1800. For the first five weeks of my diet, I will have a cheat meal once a week to keep my sanity. After I reach the six week mark I don't cheat at all and I really watch my sodium intake so I can start monitoring my progress daily.
MU: Bodybuilding isn't all training. You still have to enjoy life. What do you do alone or with friends?
MATT: When I'm not at work or in the gym I spend almost all of my time with my wife. There's not much time left for friends. I get out with my friends about once every two weeks for a few beers and some wild stories.
MU: Bodybuilding is a good sport, but few can make money from it. Have you given thought to what you want to do for a living?
MATT: I have a good chance for advancement in my father's company. They build and design turbine power generator systems. I have been working with the control–panel wiring for a year now and could later work as a design engineer. Sure, I would like to be a professional bodybuilder, but a bodybuilder is like a model: they are only good for so many years. You need something to fall back on.
MU: What are your goals in bodybuilding?
MATT: I would like to win the Mr America and Mr Universe. Then I want to go on and be one of the best professional bodybuilders in the world.

Matt Mendenhall's training routine for the 1982 NPC American Bodybuilding Championship:
Chest (Monday and Thursday)
•   Incline dumbbell press: 5 sets x 6 to 8 reps with 130 lb [59 kg]
•   Flat dumbbell press: 5 x 6 to 8 with 130 lb [59 kg]
•   Flat or incline flies: 5 x 6 to 8 with 70 lb [32 kg]
•   Barbell decline press: 4 x 6 with 340 lb [154 kg]
•   Dumbbell pull–overs: 4 x 10 with 130 lb [59 kg]
•   Cable crossovers: 4 x 10 with 120 lb [55 kg]

Back (Monday and Thursday)
•   Wide–grip chins 4 x 8 to 10
•   T–bar rows: 4 x 8 to 10 with 275 lb [125 kg]
•   Lat pull–downs (front): 4 x 10 with 250 lb [114 kg]
•   Seated rows: 4 x 8 with 250 lb [114 kg]
•   Lat pull–downs (rear): 4 x 10 with 200 lb [91 kg]
•   Hyperextensions: 4 x 12
•   Dumbbell bent–over rows: 4 x 10 with 120 lb [55 kg]
(Note: Deadlifts are a major part of my back training, but I stop doing them about 6 weeks prior to the contest to avoid injury.)

Shoulders (Tuesday and Friday)
•   Behind–neck press: 5 x 8 with 190 lb [86 kg]
•   Side lateral raises: 5 x 8 with 50 lb [23 kg]
•   Rear delt bent–over laterals: 5 x 8 with 80 lb [36 kg]
•   Shoulder shrugs: 5 x 8 with 405 lb [184 kg]
•   Upright rows: 3 x 8 with 145 lb [66 kg]

Biceps (Tuesday and Friday)
•   Standing dumbbell curls: 4 x 8 with 65 lb [29 kg]
•   Preacher curls: 4 x 8 with 120 lb [54 kg]
•   Standing barbell curls: 4 x 8 with 150 lb [68 kg]
•   Concentration dumbbell curls: 4 x 8 with 40 lb [18 kg]

Triceps (Tuesday and Friday)
•   Lying French extensions: 4 x 8 with 140 lb [64 kg]
•   Seated French extensions: 4 x 8 with 130 lb [59 kg]
•   Push–downs: 4 x 8 with 150 lb [68 kg]
•   Dumbbell extensions: 4 x 8 with 40 lb [18 kg]

Forearms (Friday)
•   Reverse curls: 4 x 8 with 100 lb [45 kg]
•   Wrist curls: 4 x 12 with 100 lb [45 kg]

Thighs (Wednesday and Saturday)
•   Squats: 5 x 6 to 10 with 405 to 550 lb [184 to 250 kg]
•   Hack squats: 4 x 8 with 250 lb [114 kg]
•   Leg curls: 5 x 10 with 120 lb [54 kg]
•   Thigh extensions: 5 x 10 with 200 lb [91 kg]
(Note: The last 3 weeks I add 4 sets of front and side lunges for separation.)

Calves (Wednesday and Saturday)
•   Standing calf machine: 5 x 10 with 800 lb [364 kg]
•   Seated calf raises: 5 x 8 with 300 lb [137 kg]
•   Toe raises on leg press: 5 x 10 with 400 lb [182 kg]
•   Donkey raises: 5 x 10 to 12

Abs (Everyday)
•   Hanging leg raises: 4 x 30
•   Sit–ups: 4 x 30
•   Lying leg raises: 4 x 30


Man was Mendenhall awesome!!!! He had it all...... size, symmetry and overall balance.


How did he not turn pro????? damn near perfect physique!!!


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