Mr. Big Stuff: A Q&A with Body Beast’s Sagi Kalev
Are you ready to get ripped? Beachbody® has joined forces with Sagi Kalev, champion bodybuilder and former Mr. Israel, to create Body Beast™, the program that will help get you big—and we mean really, really big—in just three months. But, believe it or not, Sagi didn’t start off huge when he started lifting 24 years ago.
Recently, we spoke with Sagi about this transformation; about his general bodybuilding philosophy; and, of course, about the new mass-building program that’ll trigger your transformation. Here’s what he had to say.
How did you get started with bodybuilding?
As a kid, I did everything possible. From playing chess and painting to swimming, soccer, volleyball . . . you name it. Then when I was close to 16, my dad dropped me off at the country club [where the gym was] and they let me in to watch. I knew right away. It was like when you fall in love for the first time. When I turned 16, I started lifting.
How did you know what to do?
I didn’t! I watched other people. Then one of the trainers in charge started showing me how to do things right.
Were you naturally muscular growing up?
I was skinny. Scrawny. I ran track in high school as a sprinter, so I had the calves, the abs, and the speed. But, I was skinny. That changed when I was 15 and started doing chin-ups and pull-ups and lifts. My competitive side started coming out and I realized that the bigger I got, the more I got girls. That was my payoff. [Laughs.]
How were you more competitive with the other guys in the gym?
You name it. The ego is big. You want to lift more. It’s about who can lift more. Who can look better? Who can get more girls? It’s all about getting bigger and getting more girls.
That’s the same reason guys start rock bands. When did you start to put on some serious size?
It didn’t take too long. There were two guys that were the big guys in the gym. They were competing my first year I was in there. I was like, I want to do that. I want to compete before I go into the military. A year and a half later, I went to compete.
How did you do?
Horrible. But it was awesome. Number one: I competed with the best. Number two: I realized how much work I had do. Number three: I saw I didn’t have the tools to be like those guys. So it got me pretty humble and made me do something I don’t like to do: ask for help. I contacted the guy who won the show and asked him what it would take for him to coach me so I could win my next show.
What did he teach you?
You’ve got to do whatever it takes. You’ve got to be dedicated. You’ve got to make the commitment. It took me 2.5 hours to get to him. I would lift weights for 2 to 3 hours and then travel 2 to 3 hours back. I had to figure out how to eat my food, how to get my food, how to get my workout. It was learning discipline.
Before he started training you, what were you eating?
Hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches. Anything, just to get bigger. He taught me it was all about timing. I still go by his schedule. Portion-wise, timing-wise.
What do you eat for breakfast?
It’s very simple. It’s always the same thing. For breakfast, I eat 16 egg whites, 2 yolks, half a cup of brown rice Cream of Rice®, some tea, like Earl Grey. Sometimes, I will have a piece of fruit with it.
Do you have a set number of calories you’re trying to reach?
I don’t count calories. I know how much is not enough, I know how much is enough. You learn how to have awareness and understand what your body needs. I have containers and know this container equals 8 ounces of chicken. This container holds this amount of carbs. This container holds one cup of sweet potato. If you ask me how many calories I eat, I have no idea. But I know how much I eat and when I eat.
What do you struggle with in Body Beast?
The warm-up. I like to get right to the point, but I know it’s a must. So I make a point to do it.
Can women use the program too or is it made solely for men?
I have lots of female clients who use the program. It will make you more toned. It will make you stronger. It will give you more balance. It will give you more of a challenge than you ever had before. And it will change your view of weight lifting. Weight lifting can be very boring. This is exciting.
How can someone get the best results from Body Beast?
When you train, don’t think about anything but the workout. Failure is not an option. If you get stuck, lower the weight. Keep going. If you pick up too much weight and can’t finish the set, write down what you did and do better next time. The program is supposed to be hard, extremely hard, but the only way to get your body to grow and see results is to get out of your comfort zone. When you do the program 100%—the nutrition, the workouts, the supplements—it will have the same reflection on your life. You will give everything 100%. Your relationships, your job, your fate . . . everything. You give it all you got or don’t do it. It’s fun, it’s challenging, and if you give it 100%, you’re going to see results fast.