Bodybuilder-actor Lou Ferrigno has remained true to form. It’s been decades since he was a two-time Mr. Universe and starred as an enraged green behemoth in the “Incredible Hulk” TV series and movies, but you wouldn’t know it by the 62-year-old’s still-spectacular proportions. He’ll appear in the latest film in the “Scorpion King” series set for release next year. All the while, he’s maintained a personal training business near his home in Santa Monica, raised three kids, ages 24 to 33, with his wife, Carla, become a motivational speaker, and continued his regular workouts at Gold’s Gym in Venice. To promote “Hey There Muscles,” a DVD series created with his daughter Shanna (FerrignoFit.com), he’s helping lead free hourlong boot-camp-style workouts Saturdays at 9 a.m. at the west end of the Santa Monica Pier through the end of August.
It was packed today here at the pier this morning. Was that just because people came to take their picture afterward with the Hulk?
No, all of them don’t know me anymore; they come because they want to be fit. That’s a big change in the culture. Back when I came here in 1976 and was on the beach with Arnold [Schwarzenegger] one day doing some calf work, hardly anyone else was working out on the beach. In the ‘70s, nobody in the world felt exercise was necessary. In early 1980, when we went to the Philippines, [President] Ferdinand Marcos wanted to work out with me, but we couldn’t find a gym. ... Today, everything’s changed. People realize how important exercise is for their health. It’s as important as diet — maybe more.
Millions of people today run, bike, do the elliptical and yoga, but don’t strength train. Is that a mistake?
Yes — you need a combination. You don’t have to look like the Hulk, but you do need to weight train. After the age of 35 your muscle atrophies, and the only way to stop that is resistance training, which also helps stop osteoporosis. All hard exercise can do it — dumbbells, stretch bands, even intense cardio. Example: My grandfather was a bricklayer, he and his two brothers did hard work for a living — lifting bricks, laying cement — and lived into their 80s.
Your biceps are as big as my thigh. What’s your workout like?
I train exactly as I have for 50 years, but with not as much weight. I’ll train about five days a week, an hour weights and 20 minutes cardio — elliptical, Lifecycle, Stairmaster. I’ll do 50-60-pound curls, and bench 200-225 pounds — whereas I used to bench 600.
Besides lifting heavy, what are some general rules for training and health?
Technique, consistency, good sleep and good diet are the four secrets to overall health. Always lift barbells and dumbbells with correct form. Otherwise, you’ll get hurt. Put the time and effort into doing it right — don’t rush it in five minutes. Check instructional videos on the Internet or pay a trainer. Then, do eight to 10 reps of each exercise, making sure you’re exhausted by the 10th one. That elicits the most hormonal response and will build the most strength. Be careful, though; don’t force the last rep to the point where you lose form. And when the 10th one gets too easy, increase the weight. Women can go up to 15 reps.
As for diet, try to eat as natural as possible. I stay away from refined sugar, sweets, and extreme amounts of butter, cream, and heavy dressing.
You definitely don’t look 62. Is it the Italian skin?
That could be part of it. But I think the whole key is that I have been weight training and working out for the last 50 years. I don’t smoke, don’t drink. My blood pressure is low — 110 over 60. My resting pulse is 58-60. I take no medication — just a multivitamin pack and vitamin D. OK, I’ve had both knees and hips replaced — it’s in the family. So I’m not perfect.