| An Indepth, Revealing and Brutally Honest interview
with Will Brink
Q: How long have you been involved in the
bodybuilding, health, and fitness industry? How did you start
in the industry and get so well known?
WB: I have been involved in the “biz”
for almost 20 years at this point. Back in the day, when I
had a private training business, people kept telling me I
should write articles for the magazines. I had a good reputation
in the local area for getting bodybuilders into shape, pre-contest.
At the time, I was also doing some local seminars and people
kept telling me I should send in some articles to the bodybuilding
magazines. That’s more or less where it started for
Q: So what was the first
magazine you published an article in?
WB: I had published articles in a bunch
of local and regional publications before that, but the first
large, well known bodybuilding magazine I published in was
MuscleMag International. How it happened is sort of a funny
story, actually. I sent the article in and heard nothing back
from them. Months went by and nothing—no rejection or
acceptance letters, just nada. I figured they weren’t
interested and writing articles for the ‘big time’
magazines was not in my future.
One day I was in the book store with my girlfriend at the
time, and we were looking through the various magazines. I
recall the day vividly, in fact. I was looking at a Flex Magazine
and she was looking through a copy of MuscleMag. She asked
me, “Didn’t you submit an article to this magazine?”
I said, “Yes, but they never responded, so I guess they
weren’t interested in what I had to say.” She
spun the magazine around and there was a big, two page spread
with an article called “How to Make Constant Gains and
Avoid Burnout by Will Brink.”
I have to say, my brain was still not really processing what
I was seeing. I think it took a full minute or so for the
info to actually hit the part of my brain that fully appreciated
that I did, in fact, have my first article published in a
magazine read all over the world.
I yelled, “Hey, that’s my article!” Everyone
in the quiet book store looked over at us. I said, “Hey,
this is my article in this magazine!” to the staring
people. They looked back at me with a “Great, so shut
up already,” look. I grabbed all the MuscleMags they
had, about ten or twelve I recall, and purchased them. Still
have them in a box in the basement! I contacted MuscleMag
and they had lost my contact info and figured I would pop
up after seeing the article in print…what if I had never
Q: So who else did you write for after that?
WB: Oh geez, a bunch of publications, not
all just bodybuilding-oriented. Back in the day, the magazine
you had to be in was Muscle Media 2000, which was owned by
Bill Phillips. So, I made a point to be in that magazine on
a regular basis. Beyond that, I continued to write quite a
bit for MuscleMag International, and had a monthly column
with them for over 10 years. Others off the top of my head
were Let’s Live, Muscle & Fitness, Life Extension
magazine, Muscular Development, Townsend Letter for Doctors,
IronMan, Inside Karate, Exercise for Men Only, Physical, Power,
Body International, Oxygen, Penthouse, Fitness RX, Big, as
well as others over the years that I can’t remember
Q: That’s quite a list Will! You may
be the most published bodybuilding and fitness writer out
there. Errr, Penthouse? Writing dirty stories too?
(Laughing). No porn! At the time, Penthouse had a men’s
health section. I don’t know if they still do or not,
but the editor at the time contacted me about writing some
short pieces on nutrition and such for that section, so no,
I was not submitting dirty stories to Penthouse! I did attend
one of their Christmas parties in NY, however, and that was…
interesting to say the least! But that’s all I’m
willing to say on the matter.
Q: I know you have also written chapters
in various books and or written entire books, including e-books.
Can you tell us about some of that?
WB: How much time and space do we have here?
(laughing). My first actual print book was called “Priming
the Anabolic Environment” which was geared, as the name
implies, toward bodybuilders. It covered all the essential
basics of gaining muscle mass. It can still be found on the
shelves in some book stores as well as from Amazon and other
I’ve written chapters here and there for various sports
nutrition text books, as well as some peer-reviewed research
found in the science and medical journals—although I
am not a ‘scientist’ in the classic sense as I
don’t work at a lab or university. Most people have
probably heard of “Body for Life” by Bill Phillips,
which was a national best seller. Before that book, he had
a book called The Sports Supplement Review. I wrote chapter
eleven of that book, for example.
Q: What got you into the fitness and bodybuilding
industry? What was your background for all the writing and
WB: My grandmother bought me a gym membership
for my fourteenth birthday. As a kid growing up in Brooklyn
NY, trouble had a habit of finding me. She thought a membership
to a gym might be a good place for me to stay out of trouble,
and she was right. That’s what got me into bodybuilding
and fitness on a personal level.
What actually got me started in the biz is a topic I’ve
never discussed in public before. When I was a college student,
I worked out, read the muscle magazines, and was more or less
your average guy in the gym who ate pretty well and took a
multivitamin. I was majoring in Psychology and journalism
at the time and ever thought anything about the health and
fitness industry. At 20 years old, however, I experienced
a life-threatening illness that changed the entire direction
of my life. What I learned was that working out, a “healthy”
diet, and a multivitamin was clearly not enough to prevent
disease, and more research was needed on my part.
Q: What illness did you have if I may ask?
WB: I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s
Lymphoma, which is a form of cancer of the lymph nodes. I
was treated for that, and have been disease-free ever since,
although I have suffered some side effects from the treatments
over the years. That experience totally changed my view of
the world, and sent me in a direction I had never anticipated,
which was many years of research in nutrition and the medical
sciences in general.
I became something of a perpetual student, took courses in
so many topics I can’t even tell you. Nutrition, chemistry,
physiology, psychology, all manner of writing courses, as
well as other topics both science and non-science related.
From 1983 to around 1997, I took courses at 5 different colleges
I recall. I probably have enough credits for several masters’
degrees at this point! Finally I realized I had better get
some sort of actual degree. I graduated from Harvard University
with a concentration in the Natural Sciences. It was mostly
a pre-med course load I took, with some sidetracks into areas
I was interested in.
So, my lifelong research into health, fitness, nutrition,
bodybuilding, anti-aging, disease prevention, weight loss,
and other topics began with an illness that totally threw
a monkey wrench into my life. It all started there really,
though I didn’t know that at the time…
Q: Long term side effects from the treatments?
I met you at the Arnold Classic and you look like a very healthy
WB: The treatments are known to cause damage
to the thyroid and the heart in particular. I have had some
issues with both, but yes, in fact I am quite healthy compared
to most people. I do have to take thyroid medication, and
get regular check ups for the heart, but cardiovascular tests
always show me to be above average in cardio function. All
things considered, I am in good health, although I remain
at greater risk for cardiovascular issues such as scar tissue,
and other problems.
Q: With those roadblocks thrown in your
way at such an early age, you seemed to have accomplished
quite a bit.
WB: I have never let any of it stop me from
achieving what I needed to achieve. Slow me down, yes. Force
me to work around it, yes. Force me to alter my path in life,
yes. Stop me, no!
Q: What have you learned from the experience
that you can share with others?
WB: Mostly that people are far tougher than
they think, that life will always find a way to let you know
you are not the boss, and you better appreciate what you have.
It’s allowed me to have empathy with people from all
walks of life I think. At the same time, I don’t have
much sympathy for those who are not willing to take account
of themselves and their behavior, and take responsibility
for where ever it is they find themselves in this life.
Q: You mentioned psychology. For some reason,
I don’t see you as a psychology buff. You always strike
me as one focused on the “hard” sciences like
chemistry or biology.
WB: Yes, well, people know me as a “hard”
science type as you said, but I have always been fascinated
by the inner workings of the human psyche. I was a psych major
before my big change in direction, and through the years have
done course work in general psychology, child psychology,
abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and personality
psychology. I still read about the topic to this day and believe
the human mind plays a far greater role in our physical health
than most appreciate, or science and modern medicine is willing
Q: Interesting. Do you think you would have
gone on to get a Ph.D. in that area if you had not changed
directions as you said?
WB: Very possibly yes, but I probably would
have gone into research vs. being a therapist. Having been
through plenty of hard times myself and knowing people who
have been through some very tough experiences, I have a very
limited capacity to listen to people complain about mundane
Q: Understandable, I suppose. Getting back
to the fitness and bodybuilding industry, you are also known
as the “insider’s insider” when it comes
to the supplement industry, and the questionable practices
some companies rely on to sell products. I bet you could tell
us some amazing stories there. How bad is it out there? Can
you share one that won’t get you sued or in too much
WB: Sure I can, without naming names…
After all the writing I was doing, I started to get requests
for doing consulting work for all manner of supplement companies.
I have consulted on different levels for a wide variety of
companies, on R&D, marketing, helping with research, and
So how bad is it out there, you ask? In the late 90s, I had
a monthly retainer contract consulting for one of the most
successful supplement companies on the planet. At the time,
it made close to 100 million dollars per year, and was very
well known. I was doing my usual work for these guys, some
R&D for formulas, and so on.
I get called into a meeting with the owner of the company
and he shows me what they are working on. He asks what I think
about it, so I tell him the truth, which is, the research
does not support the claims they plan on making about this
product and it’s generally worthless. The owner gets
a “gee, this guy is really naive” look on his
face and says to me:
“Will, what we do is throw sh&% against the wall
and see what sticks. We can worry about the rest later.”
That is an absolutely true story and one of many experiences
I have had in the industry. What the owner of this company
was letting me know, in no uncertain terms, was he didn’t
care there was no research to support what he planned on selling,
nor did he care if the product actually worked. He knew the
power of marketing would make it sell, and as long as it sold,
he didn’t give a rat’s behind about the science.
I let him know that I don’t get involved in projects
where the company had no interest in supporting their claims
with real science, and we parted ways. That conversation cost
me about 75k right there, and that sucked! However, I have
this conscience about such things that just won’t quit,
so that was that. As I have said many times in many places,
if you can drop your conscience, you can make a lot of money
in the supplement industry, be it bodybuilding or weight loss.
Q: So you told the owner of this mega-popular
supplement company that the product had no real science to
support it, and that’s what he said?
WB: Yup! Me and my big mouth; telling the
truth! As a consultant, and an independent one at that, it’s
always been my policy to tell them the truth. Owners of such
companies are usually surrounded by your classic “yes
men” types who tell the owner what he or she wants to
hear. As far as I am concerned, I’m not paid to tell
them what they want to hear, I’m paid to tell them what
they need to hear. To be perfectly honest with you, most of
them really don’t want to hear the truth, and prefer
the yes men.
These days I limit my consulting work to those companies
that have some integrity and an interest in good science;
research to support their claims; and hopefully, an owner
who does not prefer “yes men.” Will Brink is no
If there is one thing I am well known for, both publicly
via the mags and the ‘net, as well as privately, it’s
that I tell the facts and the truth when it comes to matters
of supplements, or weight loss, or gaining muscle, etc. Some
people really appreciate that, and some don’t. I have
made my fair share of enemies by taking the honest approach.
Q: Enemies really? Do I sense another good
WB: Sure, telling the truth often costs
other people money. After I wrote an article that exposed
the fact that not all creatines were created equal, and that
some creatines on the market contained unacceptably high levels
of contaminants, I had the owner of one company almost take
a swing at me at a conference. I cost him a fortune as he
was making most of his money selling crappy creatine to people
at outrageous profits. He went out of business shortly after
that. No loss to the world as far as I was concerned, the
guy was a real jerk to boot…I wrote about that experience
in the follow up article on the impurities found in some creatines,
which single-handedly altered the entire creatine market at
Q: I get the impression that you are saying
that most supplement companies and diet companies and such
don’t employ scientists or others who may actually know—or
care—if their products actually work. Is that right?
WB: Essentially correct, yes. The ads give
people the impression there are scientists in white lab coats
at these companies designing supplements or diets based on
real science. In a few companies that’s true, but in
the vast majority of companies, it’s just a couple of
out-of-shape marketing guys, or guru wannabe types, throwing
you-know-what against the wall to ‘see what sticks.’
For example, the owner of the aforementioned company who made
that statement was a short fat guy who previously had two
heart attacks! His company employed essentially no one with
any science background, but they had one hell of a marketing
budget and sales force!
Q: This is some real eye-opening information
you are giving us today. Black helicopters going to show up
at your house?!
WB: I hope not!
Q: But seriously, from what you are saying,
it sounds like all the weight loss or bodybuilding supplements
and products are a total scam. Is that right?
WB: Not at all. If I felt that way, I would
not use so many supplements myself! However, it is the industry
that is the poster child for the term “buyer beware.”
People need to be educated consumers, whether they’re
looking to lose weight or gain muscle, as there are countless
scam diets and worthless supplements out there. If you are
not willing to do some research on your own or pay someone
else who has, then you will be throwing hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of dollars down the toilet.
It's about making smart choices as an educated consumer,
not jumping on the bandwagon for every new supplement or miracle
diet plan you believe will change your life overnight by helping
you “lose 30 lbs in ten days” or “gain muscle
like you were on megadoses of steroids.”
Q: I notice you don't put your name to any
supplement brand as such, or have your own brand. There's
big money in that, no?
WB: There can be, yes. Over the years, I’ve
played with the idea of starting my own brand or teaming up
with some existing company, but so far, it hasn’t happened,
at least not on an official level. I prefer to sell information
people can use to gain muscle, or lose fat, improve their
health, or what ever effect they want vs. selling supplements.
I prefer to be behind the scenes for the most part, helping
companies improve a product or design a new one. I’m
not really comfortable with the idea of putting my name on
a label or being directly associated with a product. It presents
something of a conflict of interest for me, as my goal has
always been to supply objective science-based information
people can apply to their lives in the “real world.”
It’s funny, however—I do get a lot of e-mails
and comments from people telling me how I should sell my own
line of supplements as I am the only person they trust out
there! It’s hard to know what the right answer is, as
there are upsides and downsides no matter what I do. Perhaps
something will happen in the future with all that, I can’t
Q: You are also well-known for having worked
with various pro bodybuilders, other athletes and fitness
models, which—although impressive—is pretty standard
fare for a high level trainer and “guru” type
such as yourself. However, what jumped out at me was your
work with law enforcement and the military. I read a letter
from a sergeant from a SWAT team on the Brinkzone web site*
about a seminar you did for his group. That seems like a pretty
specialized area. Can you tell us more about that?
WB: Sure. I have many friends that are in
either law enforcement or special operations military, and
I give advice to individuals in those areas. I am also an
avid shooter and compete regularly. I realized that these
“high speed, low drag” types from special operations
and tactical law enforcement take a lot of supplements, and
are really nothing but triathletes who carry weapons and gear.
They tend to eat and train like athletes. After doing some
digging into the research, I found studies existed that confirmed
my own impressions, which was these guys used as many, if
not more, supplements than your average person in the gym.
I also knew they were getting most of their information from
the musclemags and their buddies, more or less like everyone
else out there. So, I thought doing some seminars for such
groups could be helpful to them to perform better. In their
line of work, second place means coming back in a bodybag,
vs. winning a second place trophy.
I probably have a much better handle on their needs and requirements
than most, due to my personal interest, research and close
contacts in the law enforcement community.
Q: OK, so you have written for many publications,
consulted for many of the better known supplement companies,
been involved in research found in peer-reviewed journals,
worked with high level athletes, as well as a long list of
other accomplishments we can read about on your web site.
You have written an impressive body of work that has attempted
to help people navigate the minefields in the health, fitness,
weight loss, and bodybuilding industries. So why are you writing
e-books now vs. magazines or printed books?
WB. An excellent question. For one, e-books
give me total editorial control. I can say whatever I want
to say, and be as honest as I wish to be. That’s simply
not possible with the print magazines, much more so today
than it used to be. Another problem is that print books are
often literally out of date by the time they hit the store
shelves. It can take a year, or even two, to get from selling
a book to a publisher to getting it printed.
New research and information on supplements, nutrition, exercise,
weight loss, etc. comes out almost daily. E-books allow me
to update their content in real time. For example, we are
on version four on one e-book, which was done within the time
it would take to get a single book into print.
Perhaps the most important feature, however, is the interactivity.
E-books are not just electronic versions of “real”
books, but a portal to a larger interactive community with
interlinked resources such as nutrition and diet software,
daily meal planners, massive food lists, exercise vids, and
Q: What do you mean by community?
WB: By community, I mean the e-books come
with large private forums that are all interlinked to the
above tools, and are moderated by myself and a group of hand-picked
moderators, who have their own specific areas of expertise,
such as rehabilitative medicine, nutrition, supplementation
and training. Members talk to each other, get their questions
answered, and find support and help for reaching their goals,
be it gaining strength and muscle mass, losing fat, or just
getting into better shape than they were last year.
You can’t compare such a total system to a print book
or magazine article. It makes a print book look like a waste
of time and money!
Q: So you have two e-books that are part
of larger programs and communities: one that focuses on weight
loss, and the other on gaining muscle mass and strength, is
WB: Yes. Of course there is some overlap
in information, but the nutrition, exercise sections, and
supplements reviewed and or recommended are quite different
between the two e-books and forums. Many of our members actually
go back and forth, using the fat loss e-book when dieting
and the more strength and bodybuilding-oriented e-book when
trying to gain muscle mass.
Q: Are these e-books helpful for the average
person just looking to lose some weight or get stronger, or
are they geared toward bodybuilders and other athletes?
WB. If anyone looks on the sites that sell the e-books, they
can see people from all walks of life use them. I think people
get way too wrapped up in thinking there is a specific niche
like “toning and firming” or “bodybuilding.”
These are just terms used to make people feel there are some
major differences between them. It’s mostly marketing
hype really. A person might say “I just want to lose
some fat and gain some muscle, but I don’t want to be
a bodybuilder.” And yet, those are the exact same goals
of the bodybuilders! What the person means is, they are not
attempting to add as much muscle and lose as much fat as it
would require to end up looking like a competitive bodybuilder,
which FYI, only a small % of people have the genetics for
anyway, but that’s another issue. Now where was I? Lost
my train of thought!
Q: You were saying people often state they
want to lose some fat or gain some muscle, or get stronger,
but may not want to be bodybuilders, when those are, in fact,
the same goals bodybuilders have.
WB: Exactly! It’s simply a matter
of degree, but the goals are the same. One of the biggest
problems I see with people achieving their goals is, they
don’t have concrete goals. Without a concrete, well-defined,
and measurable goal, you can’t reach it, as it does
not exist. “I want to be in better shape,” or
“I want to tone and firm,” or even, “I want
to lose weight” are either not goals you can define
or measure objectively, or they are goals you don’t
actually want. For example, your body has no idea or specific
mechanism for “toning and firming.” You can gain
or lose fat and you can gain or lose muscle. That's it. Those
are essentially your choices based on biological reality.
Now, if you lose some fat and gain some muscle, you will be
more “toned” in appearance and “firm”
to the touch, but the body does not know from toning and firming,
and that's a fact. Your goals should be to lose fat and gain—or
In other words, these goals are the same ones that bodybuilders
have—it’s simply a matter of degree. Bodybuilders
want to put on the maximum amount of muscle and lose the maximum
amount of fat, but that’s the only real difference.
What I do is cut through all the BS, and give advice based
on the common denominators between seemingly complex topics.
This helps people avoid the pitfalls of conflicting advice
out there, most of which is either just plain wrong or based
on marketing vs. reality and objective fact.
Q: What about the goal of losing weight?
That seems like an objective measurable goal, no?
WB: It is, and that’s a good point
to make. You will note that I said people often choose goals
that are either not measurable goals you can define objectively,
or they are goals you don’t actually want. Losing weight
is in the latter category, and something I have been trying
to teach people for a few decades. Losing weight is an objective
and easy to track measure, it’s just the wrong measure!
What people need to focus on is losing fat, not weight! When
you lose weight, it can be muscle, water, bone, and fat. Most
people focus exclusively on weight loss, and go about dieting
and exercising—assuming they exercise at all—to
lose weight. In that process, they often end up simply a thinner
version of their former flabby selves. Sometimes, they even
end up with a higher bodyfat percentage after they lose weight,
as most of what they lost was muscle! Using weight loss as
the only measure of success is a huge mistake! Unfortunately,
it’s one I see people make all the time.
Q: Wow, that makes almost too much sense
Will! Real food for thought there. This has been a fascinating
conversation. I hope readers will enjoy reading it as much
as I did writing it. Thank you for your time!
WB: Much appreciated, one of the best interviews
I have been part of, so thank you!
About Will Brink
Will Brink has over 15 years experience as a respected author,
columnist and consultant, to the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding,
and weight loss industry and has been extensively published.
His often ground breaking articles can be found in publications
such as Muscle Media, MuscleMag, Life Extension, Muscle &
Fitness, Inside Karate, IronMan, Exercise for Men Only, Oxygen,
Penthouse, and many others.
Will was a former high level trainer with a rep for getting
Olympic athletes, bodybuilders and fitness stars into shape
and has gained a reputation for being a no "BS"
industry insider who's not afraid to reveal the lies and hype
found in the fat loss , muscle building & supplement industry.
He is the author, amongst other things of the hard copy book
Priming the Anabolic Environment and two best selling e-books
Revealed & Fat
He's a guest on national radio/television programs and a
speaker at industry and scientific conferences and runs seminars
for tactical law enforcement (SWAT)
NOTE TO AFFILIATES: Remember to replace the links
to the e-books with your hoplinks.