Dietary Dilemma - Anthony D’Arezzo To The Rescue
How to break world records while getting ripped
Bad to the bone dietary guru: 280-pound Anthony D’Arrezzo, monster bodybuilder with 550-raw bench press
Anthony D’Arrezzo became part of Team Kirk (Karwoski) in the early 1990s. Anthony was our dietary expert. Why does an elite powerlifter, a world champion, need dietary advice? Kirk Karwoski wanted to take his game to the next level. The three-time world champion in the 275-pound class had a radical dream. He wanted to reduce his bodyweight downward, to the 242-pound class, set world records while winning the national and world championship. Once he attained ripped and shredded-ness at 240, Kirk would then switch directions and slowly add back 35-pounds of muscle, morphing into a gargantuan superfreak as a 275-pound lifter.
He needed some expert nutritional advice as he was impaled on the horns of a physiological dilemma: he needed to become stronger while losing bodyweight. In part one of his two-part dream, he had to stay world-record strong while losing thirty pounds of body fat. In part two of his dream, the leaned-out Kirk would add back bodyweight, slowly, with great patience and discipline.
At the time of the dream, 1993, Kirk was a chubby 275-pound world champion. To become truly great, he needed to switch out fat for muscle. He needed to reduce from a 20% body fat percentile weighing 275 to a 10% body fat percentile weighing 275.
The first order of business was to become a rock-hard, ripped-and-shredded 242-pound lifter. He sought to morph from just another national champion, here today gone tomorrow, into an immortal, a power god. He wanted to freak people out when they saw him, like when folks saw Joe Ladiner, Doug Furnas, Kaz, or Mark Chaillet walk into a room, gym, or bar.
Chubby lifters don’t get that kind of respect or attention. Freaks do. Kirk sought to become a physical freak and do freaky things. To actualize his dream, he sought the consul of a certifiable freak: Anthony D’Arezzo. To make a long story short: Kirk attained every predetermined goal at every bus stop along the way, he fully and completely actualized every aspect of his crazed kid-like dream. Indeed, in 1994 he reduced to 239-pounds, set world records and won national and world championships; his 909-pound squat shattered the existing world record by an unprecedented 40-pounds.
After succeeding in getting ripped and setting world records, he headed back the other direction. He took his time, he didn’t go buck wild coming off his world championship win in the 242-pound class. He slowly and methodically added back muscle. He reemerged six months later as a ripped 275-pounder. He shocked the world. He succeeded in morphing himself into a superfreak. The training was relatively easy (for him,) the real battle was with his knife, fork, and spoon.
Karwoski captured his first senior men’s national championship in 1990 as a superheavyweight lifter. I have told the story before, and it needs retelling to establish context. When Kirk and I arrived at the USPF national powerlifting championships, we learned that multi-time national champion Mike Hall, the defending superheavyweight champion, was injured and unable to compete. Kirk was fired-up to face the ferocious Calvin Smith in the 275-pound class.
It occurred to me that Karwoski or Calvin would have a much easier time defeating the other superheavyweight lifters than facing each other. We were not afraid of Calvin in the least, however both lifters were very even in their lifts, and it promised to be a see-saw battle with one man winning a spot on the world championship team heading to Finland and the other sitting home wondering what went wrong. I had thought Kirk would bristle at the idea, you know, “I’m not afraid of Calvin! I’ll crush him!” i.e., the usual predictable macho response to a challenger.
Instead, Kirk being Kirk (completely unpredictable) warmed to the idea. I posed the scenario, he mulled it over and said, “Let’s hit the buffet!” Over the next 48-hours he gained 13-pounds, lifted weighing 283, squatted over 900-pounds officially for the first time, won the USPF national championships and a trip to his first world championships.
Midway through his preparation for the Finland world championships, Kirk got a phone call from Calvin: he (Calvin) was having a hell of a time trying to keep his bodyweight down. Would Kirk be open to switching classes? Calvin would lift as team USA’s superheavyweight and Kirk would lift as a 275er. Kirk enthusiastically agreed. This was the start of his international exposure. As a soft, slightly pudgy 275-pounder, Kirk took 2nd, losing to the defending world champion, Kristo Vilmi, by 2.5 kilos. I cursed myself for not making the trip: my presence certainly would have been good for 2.5 kilos.
Speed ahead to 1994 and Kirk Karwoski is the three-time world champion in the 275-pound class. During his preparation for the 1994 national championships, he had a hard time pushing his bodyweight upward. He was stuck weighing 260-pounds. He needed to weigh a full 275-pounds to be at his Kirk best. There were some transitional events happening in his life and while he was strong as hell, stress was killing his appetite. I suggested we blow some people’s minds: why not lift at 242, ripped and shredded?
Kirk, being Kirk, loved the idea. We needed some expert nutritional advice and Kirk had just the man that could provide him the diet that he needed. Kirk (and I) knew a monster bodybuilder from Rhode Island named Anthony D’Arezzo. Kirk had unique nutritional requirements.
Bodybuilding is divorced from performance: the competitive bodybuilder diets down and is weak as a fawn on contest day. Karwoski needed to diet down and be strong as a brahma bull on game day, the national championships. It is one think to get ripped and be weak, it is quite another to get ripped and set world records and win world championships.
Kirk met Anthony at a seminar he gave for a group of hardcore Rhode Island powerlifters. This crew was formidable and fearsome. They loved the bombastic Karwoski, and he loved them. Amongst this group of elite strength athletes was a national level bodybuilder, Tony D’Arezzo, that competed (quite successfully) in bench press competitions. Anthony and Kirk hit it off immediately and began telephone correspondence. Kirk explained the dilemma: he would be at cross-purposes, needing to grow stronger while losing body fat.
D'Arezzo pondered the problem and arrived at what I labeled the Power Eating solution. As a competitive bodybuilder on the national level, Anthony routinely attained a sub-5% body fat percentile, competing in shows weighing 260. He walked around in everyday life weighing 280 while carrying a 10-12% body fat percentile. His goal was to whittle Kirk down to the 10% body fat percentile level using a precise process, slowly and methodically shaving off body fat – and without cardio.
One thing working in Kirk’s favor: his eating habits were so out-of-bounds that cutting back the sheer volume of “food” he was stuffing down his gullet was the first order of business. Kirk’s idea of “dieting” was cutting back from eating four 7-11 Big Bites (with extra melted cheese sauce) to only two Big Bites. Reducing his food volume and cleaning up the content made a tremendous difference. This was a man that routinely ate four Whoppers at a sitting or could devour a KFC 20-piece bucket by himself.
Kirk weighing 270 :That’s me photographing Kirk with a fast Nikon 35mm lens
Anthony got Kirk to “switch out” really bad calories for potent “cleaner” calories. There were certain foods that Kirk loved that were perfectly acceptable; Anthony identified these beneficial foods Kirk enjoyed and had him “heavy-up” on their consumption, this heavy eating of “the good stuff” satiated Kirk’s appetite for empty calories, insulin-spiking calories, and chemically polluted artificial foods.
Kirk was (and is) quite handy in the kitchen. He and Anthony devised certain food combinations that Kirk could assemble in mass quantities ahead of time. Chicken, ground beef, rice, certain vegetables. Kirk had a good feel for doneness, and a deft, consistent hand with seasoning. He poured his protein-rice-vegetable concoctions into a thermos he carried to work. When he did binge, he binged by half.
I met Anthony while working as the training editor for Muscle & Fitness magazine. The magazine business was yet to be destroyed by the internet. Anthony was my height, 5-10 with heavy bones, freaky wide shoulders, great arms, and a good back. He was strong as hell in all his upper body movements. Despite some sort of catastrophic leg injury in his athletic past, he had constructed excellent legs.
Anthony coaxed Kirk through the process, they talked weekly. Anthony was Kirk’s nutritional coach, he held him accountable. Nutrition, adjusted weekly, coordinated with ascending poundage, conflated with descending body fat. That was phase one. In phase two, Anthony periodized Kirk’s upward ascending bodyweight. Each successive training week, Kirk would be slightly larger, slightly stronger, the slow, unfolding process peaking him when he needed it most.
Kirk had the greatest lifting cycle of his entire career in 1995, that critical year he got ripped and then pushed his bodyweight upward, from 242 to 275.
In a future article or podcast, we will get Kirk to reveal the specific foods, meals, dishes, timing, and food volume he used to accomplish his near-impossible accomplishment. Sadly, in 2006 Anthony D’Arezzo died while competing at the 2011 national master’s bodybuilding championships. The diuretics he used to leech the last bit of water out of his body caused “heart welling.” He was 44 years old and died with his boots on.
About the Author - Marty Gallagher
As an athlete Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He was a world champion team coach in 1991 and coached Black's Gym to five national team titles. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door and now IRON COMPANY. He’s also the author of multiple books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others. Read the Marty Gallagher Biography for a more in depth look at his credentials as an athlete, coach and writer.