Interview by Ben Yosef

Sometimes you just never know about someone until you have a conversation with them. This can be profoundly true for competitors.

You see someone up onstage and they look amazing. Their physique is developed. Their conditioning is spot on. Presentation is flawless. They’ve nailed their color. And, to top it all off, their competition suit is the perfect compliment, completing the “total package.”On the other side of that coin is the competitor who, for lack of a better term, missed their mark…and we all know what that looks like.

What we cannot see is what it took in order to make it to the stage on that day. What obstacles have they overcome? What did they have to sacrifice in order to get to this point? How much weight did they loose? How many hours of cardio did they have to endure? How tough was their diet? The answers to these questions just can’t be gleaned from watching a competitor on stage.

I recently had the chance to peek into the world of 2011 IFPA Masters Cup Champion, Darin Steen. This man has made an incredible journey. His tale of rising from the darkest depths and finding the light is so compelling, it’s almost hard to believe.


Yosef: Darin, where are you getting all this energy from?

Steen: My energy comes from getting a second chance at life! And, I’m fuckin’ pissed off that people are living too short and dying too long…Including most of family.

Yosef: Second chance at life? Can you explain?


        “…got on antidepressant meds, and got on two psychotic meds because bipolar runs in the family. Then I got suicidal.”

Steen: Cancer survivor. I had one kidney removed at the age of two. I was told that the type of cancer I had was in both kidneys ninety-nine percent of the time.

And, a second-second chance. Three years ago I lost my wife in an ugly divorce. I lost my dream home and cars. I thought I lost my only two daughters. I was forced to sell my personal training business, had no income, got majorly depressed, couldn’t get out of bed, wasn’t eating, got on antidepressant meds, and got on two psychotic meds because bipolar runs in the family. Then I got suicidal.

cFinally, after one year of the bullshit lies in my head, I threw the pills in the garbage. I decided I had lifestyle-induced depression, because of the stress of life. I no longer accepted that I have genetic depression or bipolar bullshit. I decided to harness the power of my mind. Then, I took one step the first day, two faster steps the second day, and so forth!

Yosef: Whoa Darin! That’s deep. How did you manage to pull yourself out of this? What was the catalyst?

     “I had my best friend come take my 45 caliber glock because I was thinking about ending it.”

Steen: Yeah it’s deep. But, it’s a powerful story that almost anyone in their forties can relate to. It occurred when I was at my lowest, and suicidal. I had my best friend come take my 45 caliber glock because I was thinking about ending it. He still has it actually, although I want that baby back now for target practice. My catalyst was my two beautiful daughters, Kiana (17) and Alexis (14). They needed me, even though they didn’t know it at the time.

   “Within six months I was mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and financially in the best shape of my life!”

With Mike Neumann 2012
With Mike Neumann 2012








After that, I decided to focus on the one thing I could control, my body. I needed a new goal, so I picked the IFPA St. Louis Masters Cup in 2011. When I started, I was in very shitty condition, sleeping sixteen hours every day, and not eating anything. Within six months I was mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and financially in the best shape of my life!!

I felt like I had to lead midlife crisis people, and show them the power of the healthy, fit, truly natural bodybuilder lifestyle. The bottom line is, your best days can be in front of you. You decide! I want to use my story so others can be empowered to pull through!

Yosef: What an incredible story. Now that I have just finished picking my jaw up from the floor, let’s talk about the St. Louis Masters Cup in 2011. How long had you been away from the stage before you competed in that show? And, how did it feel getting back on stage?

2011 IFPA St. Louis Masters Cup
2011 IFPA St. Louis Masters Cup

Steen: Words cannot describe how it felt. I literally came back from hell. I went from almost committing suicide to gaining back control of my life, and with no meds. About ten of my close friends were there, as well as my two kids. I was incredibly emotional. Not as much for first place out of fourteen heavyweights, but for getting my life back…Feeling young and excited again…To have infinite possibilities again…To be able to inspire my kids, and others again.

Yosef: That is incredibly inspirational. Have you competed since that show?

fSteen: Thanks, Ben. No, I have not competed since then. I took last year off to focus on my kids. Now I’m gonna compete in the PNBA Universe in Chicago on August 31st against Kiyoshi, Cleveland Thomas, Rico, Waddington, and Donovan Darnell Strong. And then, The Olympia for the car.

Yosef: The 2013 PNBA Universe sounds exciting! That’s going to be a tough nut to crack. Sounds like you are up for the challenge though. Awesome.

Steen: Last year I approached Kiyoshi to do a Back Double Biceps challenge for $1,500. He backed down. I am approaching competition the same way Arnold did, with audacious confidence; playing mind games with the top pros, even four time world champ, Kiyoshi Moody.

Yosef: Kiyoshi Moody is a beast. You feel that you can take him down?

      “…the PNBA has the reputation for being political…”

Steen: In most poses from the back, yes. If you would have asked me last year, I would have said that I did not think I could beat him in an overall. However, I have put on ten pounds of solid mass in the last six months, and now I believe I can beat him this year at the O.

But, the PNBA has the reputation for being political, and Kiyoshi is the poster child for the PNBA. I will not focus on that. Let’s just say I will get a very good look in the finals at the O this year. I would put $200 up that I could beat him in 2013 and $2,000 up that I would beat him in 2014. He keeps saying he is old, at age forty-two-ish, I think. So, I really feel that he thinks this is his last year.

I keep telling myself that I am young, displaying the power of the mind and “sense of certainty and belief.” I put on those ten pounds of muscle in this last year because of this.


Yosef: Do you really feel the PNBA is political in their judging and placings?

Steen: I should be more careful with my words. I have not had that personal experience yet, but that is definitely the word on the street. Their judges go for a bigger look, not necessarily a lean and rock hard look like the IFPA.

     “The IFPA has a reputation of better and more consistent judging.”

Rumor has it that Kiyoshi gets paid to compete, and I am not talking about contest winnings. I have a friend who competed twice with him, and supposedly they did not give him a urinalysis. I would like to know if he pays for yearly membership and entry fees. I did see pictures of Olympia 2012, and to me it looked like Phillip Ricardo Jr. definitely beat Kiyoshi in eighty percent of the poses. The crown still went to Kiyoshi. The IFPA has a reputation of better and more consistent judging.

Yosef: Those are some pretty serious allegations. If this is your perspective, why do you choose to compete in the PNBA? Why not just stick with the IFPA or move over to another organization, like the INBF/WNBF?

Steen: Yeah, most of it is hearsay though. I don’t want to go on the record with it. If I find all this to be true, I would go on the record. I just want to compete against the best in the world. I choose the PNBA because they give away the most prize money. And, I figured the best would go were the biggest prize money was.

Yosef: So, you are going on record stating that these things are only rumors that you have heard, and things that have been told to you by others, including your friend?


        “I am going in this year with an open mind, and focused on the positives.”

Steen: Yes. Denny Kakos and the organization has good things going for it. I expect my experience to be excellent. I am just telling you what a lot of other pros are saying. Again, if I experience these issues, then I will go on record.

My mission is similar to yours. That is to empower truly natural body builders and trainers to get more recognition and compensation for being true leaders of fitness, health, and longevity!

Yosef: I just saw some new photos you posted on Facebook. You are looking massive. With regards to your physique, what has been your primary focus preparing for the 2013 season? 

jSteen: Thanks, Ben. I am sooo excited to compete this year at forty-eight years old, and with fourteen pounds of additional muscle. As for my focus, num-ber one is to prove to myself and others that I can be better at forty-eight years old than I have ever been. Number two, is to prove the naysayers wrong. I said that I was gonna get over twenty inch arms this year, and I did. John Hansen laughed twice on my Face-book wall in front of my friends, and said I was lying, and that it was impossible for a natural guy to get over twenty inch guns.

       “John Hansen laughed twice on my Facebook wall in front of my friends, and said I was lying…”

He pissed me off, so I upped my carbs, trained like a mad man, focused on correct creatine consumption, drank more water, and raised my sodium. I did everything to the 110th percentile. Within three weeks my arms had grown to 20 7/16 inches. I was eight pounds heavier, my waist was smaller, and with veins in my lower abs. The experience made me realize that I had more potential, and that I could eat more carbs.

       “I do like to play head games with the other competitors by being very social about what I want.”

I have always used this goal setting strategy of putting it out there in front of the world, and feeding off of others’ energy. It is kinda bold and audacious, yet I am never demeaning or condescending to others. I do like to play head games with the other competitors by being very social about what I want. It’s very much like Arnold used to do with Lou and the boys back in the Pumping Iron days. I love to laugh and have fun. So most of the stuff is with a tint of humor. I can definitely laugh at myself.

Yosef: Holy arms! That’s pretty intense. Darin, this has by far been the most colorful interview I have conducted to date. You have so much to say that it would be impossible to fit it all into the this issue!

Steen: I know. But, I know you are really good, and it will turn out great. Maybe we’ll collaborate later on the whole story, who knows. But, I know you are gonna grow fast man.

Yosef: Yes. [laughs] I have it under control. Thanks for doing this, and thank you for the support.








Steen: You are welcome. If you need anything else, let me know. I don’t mind being the “loose cannon” or “unpolitically correct” bodybuilder. But, my main message is strong. Give power back to the people. Anyone can benefit from the message of a truly drug free bodybuilder/trainer, and improve their lifestyle and habits.


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