You’re 55 and still in shape. How have you adapted your training routine as you’ve got older?
You have to think more and you have to be smarter. You have to ask yourself, ‘How do I feel today? What’s going on tomorrow? Am I travelling? Do I have any small injuries? Are my energy levels low?’ When you’re 25 you just go the gym and lift, or just go for a run and push through it. You can still do that when you’re older, but you’ll pay the price the next day.
Does having a degree in chemical engineering help you to take a more scientific approach?
I think it does, to some extent. It teaches you how to organise things, lay out schedules and analyse results, all of which helps with training.
In your book Fit Forever, you offer training advice for people with busy schedules. What’s your top tip?
Anything is better than nothing. You’ve got to start somewhere, even if it’s just doing five press-ups in the morning – your body functions in such a way that the next morning you’ll feel like doing six. Don’t use a lack of time as an excuse to do nothing.
Which has been your most physically demanding role?
Probably Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, because we boxed in a ring with no shirts on. There was no CGI, we didn’t use any doubles – it was all me and Sly. I trained really hard to get in shape for Masters Of The Universe too, but Rocky IV sticks out as being very physically tough.
Drago was your first film role and it was a huge one – did you feel the pressure?
The role suited me, because I was already a karate champion who did weightlifting and I looked the part. But yeah, there was a lot of pressure on me, both on camera and off, because I went from being a chemical engineer and karate guy to being famous around the world, which is a weird thing to get used to.
Is it true that during filming, you punched Stallone so hard in the chest he had to spend four days in intensive care with swelling around his heart?
Wasn’t it two weeks? [Laughs] I don’t know exactly what happened – we both got hit quite a bit. He told me to hit him so I did. He was my boss, so I just did whatever he told me to.
You and Universal Soldier co-star Jean-Claude van Damme both took part in karate tournaments in the early 1980s. If you’d fought back then, who would’ve won?
I don’t know if he competed – I know I definitely did! [Laughs] Well, I was European champion in 1980 and 1981, so I think I would’ve had a pretty good shot.
You’ve starred in The Expendables 1 and 2 – if you could pick any co-star for part 3, who would it be?
I don’t know anything about Expendables 3! If I’m asked to do it and everything works out, then I will. I’ve heard Jackie Chan is going to be in it and maybe Wesley Snipes, and they’re speaking to guys like Clint Eastwood. As far as co-stars, it would have to be Mr Eastwood. Just getting the opportunity to meet him and talk to him would be an honour.
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