Francis is a bodybuilder from Asia. He used to compete in the 70s. The following article was written by Irene and Mike.
(Part 2 of 2)
Irene L. Hause and Mike Armstrong
Volume 2, Number 2
Could you tell us a little about your own workout, diet, and philosophy of training? Let’s start with diet.
I contend that a person should not give up too many foods for one particular sport, such as weightlifting. Moderation is the key. I eat everything that everyone else eats, but in moderation. I guess maybe the reason is that my wife and I went through privations during the war, so we appreciate food, no matter what form it’s in. Even carbohydrates!
What is your attitude toward vitamins?
My personal feeling is that vitamins should be used as a supplement only if a person has a medically-diagnosed deficiency. Otherwise you might throw off your natural balance.
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Francis continued by detailing his workouts. Feeling that it helps prevent injuries, he is a firm believer in the flow system of exercise in which one body part is pumped and then that same body part continues to be used throughout the other exercises. Francis trains four days a week, two days upper body, two days lower body.
His warm-up exercises for each workout are sit-ups, leg raises, and abdominal crunches.
Monday and Thursday – UPPER BODY
Superset: Preacher curls for biceps and Press (using calf machine) for triceps: 6 sets of 10 reps. [See accompanying photo for how Francis uses the calf machine for this superset.]
Superset: Dumbbell concentration curls and Dips: 6 sets of 10 reps.
If his arms aren’t pumped enough, he will add triceps presses.
Dumbbell flyes, 4 sets of 10 reps.
Dumbbell or barbell bench press, 4 sets of 10 reps.
Crossover cable pulls, 4 sets of 10 reps.
Occasionally adds pushups.
Seated dumbbell press, 3 sets of 10 reps.
Alternate seated dumbbell press, 3 sets of 10 reps.
Chins behind neck, using a wide and close grip, 3 sets of 10 reps.
Pull downs, 3 sets of 10 reps.
Lat pulley to stomach, 3 sets of 10 reps.
Tuesday and Friday – LOWER BODY
Francis begins this routine by going through two sets of chest work, overlapping the previous day’s workout. If he has time, he’ll do two sets of the entire upper body routine.
Full squats, 6 sets of 8 reps.
Hack squats, 7 sets of 8 reps.
Extensions, 7 sets of 8 reps.
Leg curls, 7 sets of 8 reps.
Standing calf machine, 7 sets of 8 reps.
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You’ve spent a good many hours in gyms over the past years. What are the most common training errors and difficulties you’ve observed?
Many fellows start training never learning how to flex their pectoral muscles properly while building their chest. A person should learn how to flex the chest muscles so that he can develop the chest muscles. Many guys are all arms when they bench press; they don’t use their pecs at all. The same thing with flyes. You should flex the chest when you bring the weight up. That’s a fantastic exercise! Then there are the back problems from the leg press. It’s an easy exercise to go to 400-500 pounds, and some of the men aren’t careful of their back muscles when they do this exercise.
Sounds like good things to know. Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes! I think too much clothing is worn during workouts here in the States. In the tropics we worked with briefs, like posing trunks. You see yourself in the mirror, no slouching, no letting the stomach hang out. Most people work out with their backs to the mirror! If they got rid of the baggy sweatshirts and pants and looked in the mirror, it would add just that much more concentration to their workouts.
That’s something probably many bodybuilders, particularly beginners, never think of. What advice would you give to beginners, especially the older beginner? How would you explain that regular workouts are a must?
I think the only way is to get them over as a guest, let them feel that older people can still enjoy a workout. Also, I socialize a lot in the gym. I feel so young over there. I’m accepted by all the younger people and that’s good for older people to see. The young people often ask me if I’d talk to their dads if they bring them in. Time and time again I’ve talked to parents, and they’ve started working out. I don’t recommend heavy weights for them, but start the program slowly and tell them to give it a chance so they can see the change in the way they feel. If people stick it out for two months, that’s enough time for you to convince them.
So you’re saying the best way to convince people is by combining an example with a do-it-yourself project.
That’s the reason I entered this last contest — to serve as an example. I didn’t figure I was going to win anything at all. The mere fact that I have the audacity to enter a physique contest would make it appear that I am conceited. But no. I wanted to prove a point, that even if you are older, you can still enter.
Have you seen any changes in contests since you began competing in the United States?
Contests have become more demanding. The first few times when I competed in the Over 40s, we’d just go and pose and that was it. Nowadays at prejudging they expect the Over 40s to flex just like everyone else, which isn’t always too easy, especially the abdominals and calves. I seldom hear of any Over 50 contests anymore either.
Does your family watch you compete?
Yes, they usually do. But at my last contest, I didn’t want my wife to go along because the time before the judges made a decision she didn’t like, and she booed them! She was really angry because they’d chosen a man with thin legs over me.
Maybe she had a point! You mentioned the social aspect in the gym. Could you elaborate a little?
In the gym the young men accept you regardless of your age. Do what they are doing, and they accept and treat you as one of them. Like the ice cream contests.
What’s an ice cream contest?
Every year for five years now we go to Arthur’s Ice Cream Parlor on my birthday and see who can finish a bucket of ice cream — all different flavors, whipped cream, bananas, marshmallows, and toppings. A person can very seldom finish it. But this year on my 60th birthday I competed against a young fellow who had just turned 21. Guess who won?
Now for some questions about your job. Do you feel weightlifting has given you any advantages in your work?
Absolutely! I was in my mid-50s when I was appointed to be an officer, Assistant Vice President, at Transamerica. Had I looked old and dissipated, they probably wouldn’t have chosen me. They think I’m energetic enough to handle the responsibility and stress. They never think of me as being 60 unless they look in my dossier.
Well, they’re investing in you, and your health and outlook are important.
My office requires that people over 45 have an annual checkup. It’s very thorough, EKG, cholesterol, X-rays, the whole works. Every year I say the same thing to the doctor, “I’m still working out in the gym, benching over 300. Is it all right?” And he always says the same thing. “Do exactly what you’ve been doing. Eat exactly as you’ve been eating. You’re so healthy you must be doing something right!”
With such a demanding job, do you find time for any hobbies besides bodybuilding?
In my younger days I used to be a bicycling and weightlifting champion. And since I wanted to train my mind as well as my body, I went in for games that require concentration — chess, for example. I was chess champion of Hong Kong in 1948 and 1949. Bridge is another game requiring concentration. I won the Los Angeles Commercial League Pairs Championship in 1964, but no longer have time to compete.
Do you still play for enjoyment?
Yes! I play bridge every day at work during lunch. I think a hobby that takes your mind away from your job responsibility is a good tension reliever. You go back to work a new person.
Now a somewhat unorthodox question. Some people have been heard to comment that spending all that time on one’s body in bodybuilding is sinful. How would you respond to that?
Let’s put it this way. When your clothes get old, you discard them and buy new ones. But you can’t do that with your body. It’s yours to keep. So a person has to take pride in his body, doesn’t he? A person might spend hours collecting stamps or something as a hobby. I think it’s sinful to spend your time that way, not adding anything to your health!
One final question. If you could make one wish for everyone that would make the world a better place, what would it be?
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