Dubbed as the “bad boy” of bodybuilding, Mike Quinn was one of the most entertaining bodybuilders of the 80s and 90s.
During his prime, Mike was known for his swole and ripped physique, but also for his honesty and temperament nature. He was never afraid to speak his mind, and often talked about topics such as his steroid usage.
However, growing up, Mike’s life looked a lot different. He was a small child, and was often bullied by bigger kids from his neighborhood.
This is his story:
Full Name: Mike Quinn Weight Height Nationality Profession 255 - 265lbs (115.7 - 120.2kg) 5'8" (172.5cm) American Bodybuilder Alias Era promightymikequinn, bad boy 1990, 1980 Weight 255 - 265lbs (115.7 - 120.2kg) Height 5'8" (172.5cm) Nationality American Profession Bodybuilder Alias promightymikequinn, bad boy Era 1990, 1980
- AAU Mr. America, HeavyWeight, 10th place
- AAU Teen Mr. America, Heavyweight & Overall, 1st place
- NPC Junior Nationals, HeavyWeight, 2nd place
- NPC Nationals, HeavyWeight, 7th place
- NPC USA Championships, HeavyWeight, 4th place
- AAU Mr. America, Medium, 3rd place
- NABBA Mr. Universe, Medium, 1st place
- NABBA World Championships, Medium, 2nd place
- NPC Nationals HeavyWeight, 4th place
- NPC USA Championships, HeavyWeight & Overall, 1st place
- IFBB Detroit Pro Invitational, 4th place
- England Grand Prix, IFBB, 5th place
- France Grand Prix, IFBB, 5th place
- Grand Prix Germany, IFBB, 4th place
- Italian Grand Prix, IFBB, 7th place
- Grand Prix Greece, IFBB, 4th place
- Grand Prix Spain, IFBB, 4th place
- IFBB Grand Prix US Pro, 5th place
- Mr. Olympia, 5th place
- IFBB World Pro Championships, 4th place
- IFBB Grand Prix England, 7th place
- Finnish Grand Prix, 8th place
- IFBB Grand Prix Holland, 7th place
- Mr. Olympia, 7th place
- IFBB Grand Prix Holland, 12th place
- Mr. Olympia, 11th place
- WBF Grand Prix, 12th place
- IFBB Night of Champions, didn’t place
- IFBB Night of Champions, 5th place
- Mr. Olympia, didn’t place
- IFBB San Jose Pro Invitational, 11th place
- IFBB Night of Champions, didn’t place
- IFBB World Pro Championships, 17th place
Fights and Bullies
Mike Quinn was born and raised in Brockton, Massachusetts. Growing up, he was often involved in fights with other kids. However, most of the boys Mike fought were larger in size – because of this, he was often bullied and couldn’t do anything to defend himself.
“I grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts, home of Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler. It’s known as a pretty rough city. I was picked on a lot and got the shit beaten out of me until I was thirteen or fourteen.”
However, as he grew older, Mike gained some size and strength naturally. This gave him the confidence to fend off any bullies that would want to fight him. As Mike said; “Later, I beat the fuck out of anyone that had ever beaten me up.”
Bullying wasn’t the only problem that Mike faced as a child. He also suffered from mental disorders such as ADHD. This made it hard for Mike to stay relaxed and focused while he was in school.
“I was a weird kid; I had a nervous condition. Technically I was mentally ill. Plus I have ADHD. I wonder sometimes if all the vaccinations as a kid had anything to do with it, because back then all the vaccines had mercury in them.”
Start of Training
Mike’s first training session took place in his home’s cellar, when he was 13 years old. His father, who built a small gym in the cellar, invited Mike to try to lift some weights.
Since he was already naturally strong, Mike found it surprisingly easy to train. He said:
“That first day, just messing around, I benched 220 pounds. I was a husky kid, chubby, you know? Instead of pecs, I had boobs.”
Mike trained at home until he was 15, then he became interested in American football. He quickly realized that he had a gift for the sport, however, he’d believed that his height of 5’8” would prevent him from reaching the elite NFL level.
This is why Mike decided to stick to bodybuilding, which served him as a natural therapy for his ADHD and anger issues.
After every football practice, which lasted for 2 hours, Mike would head into the gym to train for another two hours. He says this wasn’t exhausting for him because he loved it.
From Powerlifting to Bodybuilding
Mike’s interest in lifting weights later led him to become a powerlifter.
However, it didn’t take long for Mike to realize that powerlifting wasn’t his true passion. One day, when he was 18, Mike was getting ready for a powerlifting contest, and was supposed to squat 550lbs for 5 reps that day.
Mike only managed to get 4 reps, which made him say, in his words, “Fuck this! I’m gonna be a bodybuilder!”
Just six weeks later, Mike entered his first bodybuilding show and won.
Mike Quinn in his early bodybuilding days.
After winning his debut show, the Teen Mr. Massachusetts, Mike went on to earn an even more prestigious title – the Teenage Mr. America.
These early victories bolstered Mike’s confidence. So much so, that he said; “Even as a teenager I was as good as most of the older guys competing in the sport.”
NABBA Universe London
In 1984, Mike took third place at the Mr. America. He went on to win NABBA Universe London shortly after, joining the elite group of bodybuilders who’d previously won this show, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve Reeves.
Mike Quinn before, and today.
By 1987, Mike’s career was in full swing.
After winning the USA Nationals that year, he became a pro bodybuilder.
One year after winning his Pro status, Mike started competing in elite shows around the world.
In fact, 1988 was the most contest-dense year in Mike’s career. He took part in 9 contests that year, some of which included:
- England Grand Prix, IFBB, 5th place
- Grand Prix Germany, IFBB, 4th place
Mike also made his Mr. Olympia debut in 1988, finishing amongst the top 5 bodybuilders in the world.
In 1994, Mike took part in three shows. They were Night of Champions, Mr. Olympia, and IFBB San Jose Pro Invitational.
After this, Mike took a long break from competing. It wasn’t until 1999 that he appeared once again on the stage, claiming 17th place at the IFBB World Pro Championships.
He’s been retired from bodybuilding ever since.
Mike’s Steroid Usage
Mike Quinn was always honest about his steroid usage. He started taking steroids at the age of 18, prescribed by his local doctor.
However, according to Mike, he’d never taken these substances to gain muscle, but to preserve his muscle mass while dieting.
Mike had tried countless variations of training over his career as a bodybuilder. However, by far the most effective for him was power-bodybuilding.
With this training style, Mike did four days of heavy training, followed by four days of light exercises. On heavy days, he’d take more rest between sets to “stimulate testosterone release”.
On lighter days, Mike trained with more reps and short rest between sets to raise his growth hormone levels. These light sessions also enabled Mike to recover from his heavy training days and prevent muscle wasting. As Mike states, “training consistently leads to a catabolic state”.
Short Duration, High Intensity
Along with power-bodybuilding, Mike also loved doing quick and intense workouts. He’d do a series of high-intensity exercises with extremely short rest periods.
Some of the exercises he’d do included barbell squats, bench press, and overhead press. Mike says, it’s these movements that built the foundations of his physique.
But while he enjoyed lifting heavy, Mike never let the weights affect his form. He said: “The key things to my type of training are heavy weights with strict form, not to overtrain, not letting my ego get in the way and hurt myself.” – Mike Quinn
Mike’s Back & Biceps Workout
Mike’s back and biceps workout is all about “intensity, not duration,” according to him.
“Through my years of training, I’ve been known for my lower lat development. I believe that the reason why a lot of bodybuilders don’t have lower lat development is because when they’re doing dumbbell rows and other lat exercises, they’re pulling the dumbbell or the barbell too into their chest. I like to pull towards my lower-lat area instead.”
He starts the session with a couple of sets of light lat pulldowns, which warms up his muscles. Mike then proceeds to do working sets, which look like this;
- Seated Cable Pulley, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Dumbbell Row, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Dumbbell Pullovers, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Alternating Dumbbell Curls, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Preacher Curls, 3 sets of 8-10 reps
- Concentration Curls, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Mike was, and still is a huge believer in cardio for fat loss. In fact, aerobics was an essential part of his show preparations.
His favorite form of cardio was the stationary bike. Or occasionally, stair climbing. On his rest days from weightlifting, Mike would do 45 minutes of aerobics before breakfast to maximize fat loss.
“I’ve come to realize just how vital a role aerobics plays in my program. Quite simply, to get ripped you need aerobics. I used to do one and a half hours of daily aerobics. I would break up the aerobics into two 45-minute sessions right after I complete my weight workout. Then, the muscle glycogen stores are empty and the body burns fat faster.”
There was a period where Mike trained extremely hard for his contests. He would train several days in a row without any rest. He says this led to over-training symptoms such as muscle loss.
But then, Mike changed his approach. He started training two days in a row before taking a day off. By giving his body a break every 3rd day, he’d noticed much better progress in his physique.
According to Mike, when he trained too hard, his body went into a catabolic state (muscle-wasting). But as he added more rest to his routine, Mike’s muscles were able to catch up with his workouts. As he said:
“By interspersing two training days with a rest day I prevent my body from slipping into a catabolic state.”
Mike believes that nowadays, bodybuilders focus too much on protein. He says, 1g of protein per pound of body weight is more than enough to build muscle. He also says that far too many people avoid carbs, which he believes is not healthy for the body.
In fact, Mike says carbs are the best energy source. He would often increase his carb intake before shows to make his muscles appear fuller. He also ate proteins and fats from foods such as chicken, cheese, and avocados.
“My body oxidizes protein more efficiently than it does carbohydrates. But I still need carbohydrates. My mistake in the past was dropping carbs to 50-100 grams a day, which caused a loss of both muscle and training intensity.”
Contest Prep Diet
Whenever he prepared for a show, Mike ate in a caloric deficit so his body would steadily lose fat.
10 weeks before the contest, he’d eat 2000 calories per day. He’d do this for three days, and then, on the fourth day, Mike would add 800 calories from protein and carbs to ‘ignite’ his metabolism. On the fifth day, he’d start the process all over again by reducing his calories back to 2000kcal.
Idols and Influences
Mike’s first influence in bodybuilding was his father. When Mike was still a child, he saw his father training in their small home gym. However, Mike’s father didn’t allow him to train with him because he was still too young to lift weights.
It wasn’t until Mike was 13 that he was finally invited for his first workout with his father. It was only onwards and upwards for Mike from here.
“When I was thirteen, my father decided it was time for me to start lifting.”
What we can learn from Mike Quinn
Mike Quinn had one trait that made people either love him or hate him – his unapologetic honesty.
He was never afraid to speak up his mind and was also often aggressive towards those that provoked him. He couldn’t stand bullies, because he knew what it was like to be picked on as a kid.
Later down the road, Mike channeled his frustrations and anger by lifting weights. Bodybuilding became his therapy. Throughout the years, Mike’s passions for the sport grew further to become a professional bodybuilder.
There are many lessons we can take from Mike’s story. But perhaps the most important one is that you should be yourself and never apologize to anyone for it. This might bring criticism – but it will also attract people in your life who’ll respect you for who you truly are.