This week’s edition of “Monday Night Muscle” featured three all-time greats. Of course, Bob Cicherillo and Shawn Ray were in their hosting chairs as usual. However, Ray wasn’t the only former Arnold Classic winner and Olympia runner-up in the house. Two-time Arnold champ and 2009 Mr. Olympia runner-up Branch Warren was the guest on this episode, and the discussion covered a variety of topics.
After Cicherillo shared stories of times he and Warren broke bread, he asked the Texas native about how his eating habits are nowadays. Warren also talked about how he is feeling overall now that his competitive days are behind him.
“I eat probably four meals a day. I’ve lost, probably, 30 or 40 pounds from when I was competing,” Warren says. “I feel great, and most importantly, I’m healthy. You guys know how it is. When you train, you train to win, right? That’s why you train. You train with pain, you train with injuries, do whatever it takes to get that show win. Once that’s behind you, I train to be healthy, and I want to stay healthy.”
Ray transitioned to the topic of life overall away from the stage. Warren explains that he has been much more giving to his family once he hung up the posing trunks.
“When you’re a pro bodybuilder going for the Mr. Olympia title, going for the Arnold Classic title, going for those big titles, you become a very selfish, self-centered person because it’s all about you. It’s about your training, it’s about your diet, it’s about your cardio, your posing, me, me, me, all day long. You do what it takes, and at the end of the day, there isn’t much you get back. If you have a family, that’s a hard thing to do. To be a good father and a good husband, you have to give. Sometimes you have to give more than you receive. That’s a hard thing to do. Since I retired, I knew I was that way. It’s the nature of our sport. I didn’t realize how selfish and self-centered I was until I retired. Then I was like ‘wow.’ Since that time, I’ve been a much better father, and a much better husband just because now I don’t put myself first all the time.”
Cicherillo also alluded to a conversation he and Warren had about the possibility of returning to the stage. Warren didn’t hesitate when answering the question.
“Nah, man I’m good,” Warren says. “I get that question pretty frequently by fans and people I know. I’m good, man. I did everything I wanted to do. I had a 15-year career as a professional bodybuilder, and several years as an amateur before that. I think when you’ve done everything you set out to do, give 100%, and know in your heart you did everything you could do, then when you step away, you’re good.”
The discussion eventually shifted to one of Warren’s highest accomplishments—the 2009 Mr. Olympia. In that contest, he placed second to Jay Cutler, and actually beat then-champion Dexter Jackson. Surprising as it may sound, Warren had a different point of view of that year.
“The absolute worst place you could be in bodybuilding is second place at the Mr. Olympia. I’d rather finished fifth than second. Everyone in this conversation right now has dreamed of being on that stage, being one of the last two men standing, and being the man named Mr. Olympia that year. Anybody who has ever competed, ever trained, even thought about competing, you want to be Mr. Olympia. You’ve beaten everyone on the planet, except that one last guy. Getting your named called as second is the most bittersweet moment in my whole career.”
Warren also talked about the transition into retirement, training with longtime partner Johnnie Jackson during his comeback in 2020, the difficulty of getting the right mindset when coming back, and several more interesting topics.
You can catch the episode in its entirety, as well as every episode of Monday Night Muscle on the Digital Muscle YouTube channel every Monday at 6 p.m. EST.