Lee Priest turned pro at age 20.
He was one of the best, if not THE BEST teenage bodybuilders ever. Better than Arnold, better than Dorian, better than Ronnie, better than Steve Reeves, better than Lou Ferrigno. Better than all of them. We can learn quite a bit from Lee. What did he do that separated him from the thousands of other teens who were reading the “muscle books” every month, gulping down their Super Pro Protein powder and throwing back their liver tablets?
I’ve spent hundreds of hours around Lee, traveled to Brazil with him in 2007, traveled to Alaska, went with him to The Arnold, and have had him over to my house on more than one occasion. As an amateur bodybuilder myself, I knew the questions to ask to find out as much as possible about Lee. Here is what I know that I feel made him the best teenage bodybuilder ever and how you can benefit from this knowledge.
- Influence Lee’s Grandfather, Owen, was heavily into physical exercise. I remember Lee telling me story after story of how Owen loved physical challenges,thrived on them. Challenges such as walking home with bags of heavy groceries. Not because he had to walk. He wanted to. He never avoided hard work. You would never find Owen playing minecraft, team fortress 2, halo or any of the other video games. Owen loved to use his body. He would jump rope for up to an hour. He would walk to Lee’s house when Lee was a teen and knock on his bedroom window early in the morning, rain or shine, and off to the gym they would go to train. Lee watched all of this. Owen is the reason that Lee is a bodybuilder. Who is your influence? You won’t get it from a video game, a bag of skittles or the latest Netflix TV series. Oh, sure Lee liked to have fun – running around the Outback, riding his bicycle, going to the beach, swimming, fishing but the quite influence that Owen provided was greater than all of the other activities. These two had a strong bond. Owen was exposing Lee to the gift of physical fitness. Owen passed away in April of 2008. He was Lee’s champion. Who is your influence, who is your champion? If you don’t have an immediate family member as Lee did, go find one. Maybe that older kid who works out at the YMCA could be your influence. Maybe an Uncle or Aunt. Maybe it’s a coach or the mailman. Look around. Find a person, though NOT an internet “friend”.
- Consistency Lee has often talked about how he has only missed a small percentage of workouts in his entire career due to illness, travel or a rare scheduled day off. Lee is consistent at what he loves doing. He loves training, therefore being consistent comes easy. He doesn’t look for excuses not to workout. If you love what you do – whether it be video games, eating junk food, texting girls then that’s what you’ll do. Be honest with yourself. Do you really want to be a bodybuilder? Your actions will tell the story. Don’t attach emotion to your workouts. For example, don’t say “i don’t FEEL like working out today”. In this example, you’re letting your emotions (feelings) guide you. Instead, be a machine, a terminator and just go. Once you get there, chances are you’ll have one of the best workouts ever. I can’t ever recall saying, “Darn, I wish I hadn’t worked out today”. But there have many times when I said, “I wish I HAD worked out today”. Practice consistency if you want to realize your full potential.
- Effort I’ve put up tons of videos of Lee on YouTube. I’ve done this for many reasons. Helping to keep Lee’s legacy out there, marketing and just general self interest. There’s a video of Lee squatting. He works up to five 45lb plates on each side of the bar. That’s nearly 500lbs. He’s 16 or 17 in the video. Are you keeping a training journal? Are you working hard on squats? On deadlifts? Or are you avoiding heavy squats and deadlifts in favor of something easier? Don’t kid yourself. You have to work brutally hard if you want to stand out as an elite teenage bodybuilder. That means getting 8+ hours of sleep at night. Eating enough good quality food. Aim to get into the ‘3-4-5’ club. That means bench press 300lbs, squat 400lbs and deadlift 500lbs. If that seems too far of a reach, get to the ‘2-3-4’ club. Have goals and then work like hell to reach them.
Lee is no different than you and me. Yes, he was blessed in the genetics department. But guys like Larry Scott overcame genetic deficiencies (narrow shoulders) to go on and accomplish great things in the sport of bodybuilding. Follow the 3 guidelines above and you’ll be well on your way to reaching your own bodybuilding superstardom.