In the Beyond the Stage segment we will reconnect with some of the legends of bodybuilding and fitness. Many of the athletes that we will interview in this series have made an historical impact in one way or another and should therefore not be forgotten. We want to see where they they are in their life now and also talk about their competitive past and their view on the sports of today.
From the land of the thousand lakes came a young phenomenon during the middle period of the 90s. I rank him as one of the absolute best IFBB pro bodybuilders coming out of the Nordic countries. Let us present Beyond the Stage with the bodybuilding pride of Finland, Marko “Supermass” Savolainen.
Marko has left his competitive career behind him and is now instead focusing on different business projects. He is always driven to see what life has to offer him next – and what new ideas and creativity that might follow.
Today Marko lives with his wife Hanna Savolainen who is a successful competitor Body fitness height +5’7”/+168 cm (amateur figure) division.
AJE: Marko, it has been a while since we saw you active as an IFBB pro, could you tell us what you have been up to lately?
MS: Yes, it has been a long time since I was on stage the last time; I think it was in 2001. Already then it had gone wrong direction. I had two bad injuries, my left biceps was torn (that biceps was the biggest one in the world at that time, so it was a BIG injury :-)). After I had recovered from that, my left pectoralis (chest) was torn. At that time I also wondered why my body doesn’t act like normally when dieting. The reason was found out in 2005 and that was kidney dysfunction. This was a big shock for me because I had to stop the only thing I had been doing in my life since I was 16. I had all the tools to make a successful career, so this really hurt even today.
And to the question, I have been training hard as usual and done coaching to all kind of people. In the beginning of 2015 I will start as a head coach in a new training academy called FitClub Finland that operates on the internet. Also my new supplement line called Super Mass Nutrition (under Manninen Nutraceuticals) is launched at the Fitness Expo in Finland in October. This line will be a “no compromise” line as is everything I do in my life.
There is also a new wellness center opening in my hometown Oulu called Figure and I will be a participant in that. These three things are major dreams come true for me.
AJE: I remember when I first read about you for the first time in the Swedish B&K sports magazine, now called (BODY). You had tremendous size at a very young age – so what got you into bodybuilding in the first place? In addition was there any truth behind you telling the magazine that you actually lived in a smaller room inside the gym for a while in Finland? :-)
MS: When I was 16-17 years old, I decided that bodybuilding would be the only thing I would do in my life and I would be a professional bodybuilder one day. And after only four years of training I did get my Pro card in 1994. I don’t think there are many guys who have had their pro card after such a short training history. I think I was the youngest Pro at that time, age of 21. I was 174 cm (5’9”) and weighed 125 kg (275 lbs.), very lean and my arms were 60 cm (nearly 24”). So I think I was quite big and that’s where my nickname “Supermass” came from.
And, yes, I actually lived in the back room of Gold’s Gym Helsinki. They brought a blanket on the floor and a small refrigerator for me, so I got all I need. :)
AJE: Now that’s hardcore right there! If you could give three bits of advice to young athletes who want to become bodybuilders, what would it be?
MS: First of all, DON’T DO IT! ;) The reason I say that is because it is one of the hardest sports and there are not many guys who earn big bucks. You also have to be ready to risk your health if you want to be a competitive bodybuilder, especially a professional one. If you still want to be a bodybuilder; first control your blood tests, so if there is something wrong you must react to correct that. It is important to control your cholesterol, kidney and liver level and, of course, heart. One very important thing and a cheap one are to buy a blood pressure control machine.
Blood pressure affects many things and it may damage your kidneys if it’s high for a long time. Also high blood pressure combined with painkiller medicine is very harmful for kidneys.
Second advice: rest as much as possible. Sleep 8-9 hours nightly and 1-2 h naps a day, and don’t do anything stressful during the do except train.
Third advice: train smart and eat A LOT. Use weight you can control and don’t overdo sets. Keep your training time 1-1 1/2 h max. Eat every 2-3 h clean food and 2-3 g protein per kg. Use supplements especially around training – pre, during and after. This is very popular nowadays, but I did this already in 1994. I typically ate 6000 kcal – 6 meals a day, 1000 kcal per meal, half liquid and half solid.
AJE: What does a day in Marko’s life look like today – any specific routines?
MS: The routine is the same as almost the last 26 years. Wake up in the morning, eat my breakfast, answer to mails, taking a nap, wake up and eat again, go to the gym, come home, eat again, maybe some personal training if scheduled, eat again, eat again, go to sleep. And the same thing next day. :-)
AJE: I also know you’re into martial arts. Do you have any special fighters that you like and in that case who and why?
MS: I have practiced many different fight sports, for example wrestling, taekwondo (I won Finnish Championships), kickboxing and boxing. When I was younger, my idol was Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. The reason I liked Bill was his kick techniques and fast speed. That time I was a big fan of kickboxing.
AJE: Are you following the IFBB Pro circuit today and do you have anyone that you admire of the new guys on the scene?
MS: I do follow almost every day what happens on the IFBB Pro scene. There are many pros that I like, not only their physique but also their attitude, for example how they handle with the fans and towards other people. To mention a few examples, Flex Lewis and Evan Centopani. These guys are truly great ambassadors for bodybuilding.
Of course, Big Ramy is one of the most interesting guys today because of his fast improvement and size, still remaining his waistline at the same time.
What I would like to bring from the ‘90s bodybuilding to this day is the hardness of the muscles that guys back then had. The best example of this is Dorian Yates. These days guys are bigger but a little bit smoother or puffy looking, especially on some body parts like arms and shoulders. But I think there’s a reason for that. ;)
AJE: What are your plans for this summer?
MS: The same thing I answered earlier, eating, training and working. :)
AJE: Marko, can you share some of your strength records during your career?
MS: I was pretty strong for a bodybuilder. Here are some of my best lifts:
Bench press 260 kg (nearly 575 lbs.) max. (without powerlifting shirts) at the age of 21.
Incline bench press 240 kg (nearly 530 lbs.) x 6 reps, six weeks before 1997 Finnish Gran Prix.
Smith machine squat 360 kg (nearly 795 lbs.) x 8 reps, six weeks before 1997 Finnish GP.
Military press 180 kg (nearly 400 lbs.) x 6 reps, six weeks before 1997 Finnish GP.
Above all I think the best ever result was when I did rear delt flies with dumbbells 60 kg (more than 130 lbs.) x 8 reps with pretty good technique.
AJE: Is there anyone you would like to thank, please feel free to do so.
MS: I would like to thank the persons that have supported my bodybuilding career, such as KP Ourama and his father, Kari, Ed Connors who was a big help after my first injury (BIG THANKS, ED), my mother who made all my protein drinks when I was in high school and my father who passed away in 2010, my ex-girlfriend Johanna for staying with me for 12 years through the pro years (it’s not easy to live with a pro bodybuilder), my lovely wife Hanna Savolainen who is my best friend and biggest supporter (I love you), and all my training partners who have been trying to keep up with me. ;)
Thanks to all my sponsors that have helped my career, and last but not least all my fans that have supported me even in the difficult times and still do, which feels amazing although I haven’t competed in a long time. Also to all that I thanked, I want to make an apology for not achieving what I and everybody expected.
Thanks to Rx Muscle for doing this interview and have a great summer everybody! Stay healthy and train hard!
AJE: Thanks for the interview and also the same to you, Marko. Have a great summer and keep up the great work. All of us on Rx Muscle and Beyond the Stage wish you and your wife Hanna all the best in the future of your careers.
Who knows, we might see each other at the next Nordic Pro 2014 in Lahti, Finland!
To get in contact with Marko Savolainen:
http://www.supermassa.m-nation-fi (for the moment only in Finnish), on Facebook and Instagram #MARKOASAVOLAINEN and from October 2014 on www.supermassnutrition.com