Written by: Mike Westerdal
You rarely hear or read anything good about cholesterol. For more than two decades now it has been blamed for causing heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, obesity and more. Most people associate trans fats and saturated fats as the leading causes of high cholesterol.
Dozens of different medications have been developed for the purpose of lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.
In fact, lowering cholesterol has almost become an industry itself with countless doctors, nutritionists, exercise gurus and many others touting strategies for fighting high cholesterol.
Yet, despite all these ‘cures’ for high cholesterol, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease continues to be far and above the leading cause of death in the U.S. Could it be that cholesterol is not the evil villain we thought it was?
Here is the Truth…
In order to answer that question we need to first understand cholesterol, where it comes from and how it impacts our bodies and metabolic systems. Cholesterol is a fat, or lipid. It is also a sterol, from which steroid hormones are made.
It flows through the body via the bloodstream, packaged into minuscule protein-covered particles called lipoproteins. Most people wrongly assume that all cholesterol is bad and that we should do everything possible to make it go away.
However, they fail to realize that cholesterol (both kinds) is in fact, very important to healthy body function.
Cholesterol Performs Three Main Functions:
• It helps make the outer coating of cells.
• It makes up the bile acids that work to digest food in the intestine.
• It allows the body to make Vitamin D and hormones, like estrogen in women and testosterone in men.
If it weren’t for cholesterol, none of these functions would take place, and we wouldn’t survive. Cholesterol is so important to the body that the liver produces it. Even if you ate a completely cholesterol-free diet, your body would still make the approximately 1,000 mg it needs to function properly.
Our metabolic systems can regulate the amount of cholesterol in the blood, producing more when your diet doesn’t provide adequate amounts. Other than medications and nutritional supplements, diet and exercise are used to lower cholesterol levels in the body. And when it comes to diets, reducing and eliminating fats from the diet is the number one strategy that people use to lower their cholesterol levels.
An Interesting Note on Saturated Fats
In particular, they strive to reduce or eliminate saturated fats and trans fats—both of which have been vilified by the so-called experts for years. But lumping these two fats together is a mistake because contrary to what you may have heard or read, saturated fats are not the evil monster some would have you believe.
In fact, saturated fats are as important to the body as other fats and are necessary for good health and proper metabolic function. Saturated fats occur in nature and are found mostly in animal sources of food such as meats. And while some trans fats are also found in meats, the majority of trans fats are produced during food processing through partial hydrogenation of saturated fats. A rapidly growing body of research is pointing to man-made trans fats as the leading culprit behind high rates of heart disease and death—not natural fats.
If you consider this for a moment, it only makes sense. Heart disease and obesity are essentially ‘first-world’ problems that plague modern societies. Our ancestors weren’t concerned about the types of fats they ate and problems such as heart disease and obesity were not at all widespread like they are today. But then again, they ate only fresh, whole foods—nothing processed, packaged or loaded with salt, sugar and artificial fats, ingredients and chemicals.
The fact of the matter is that there is a growing body of research showing that all of the fats that occur in nature are essentially good for us. As an example, three groups of researchers have recently weighed data from all available large long-term studies that have tracked saturated-fat intake and heart attacks or strokes.
All three found no association between saturated fat and heart attacks or strokes. People who consumed the highest levels of saturated fat had about the same rates of heart disease as people who consumed the least. As we look to our past to better understand ourselves today, we are realizing that ‘cholesterol’ is not the problem, nor is it the type of fat we consume that matters but rather the source.
The key factor is whether or not the fat is man-made or natural—that is what is most important. Man-made trans fats and hydrogenated oils, margarines and other products laden with artificial ingredients are the ones to be avoided—not the fats that occur in nature. So the secret to good health and healthy weight may not be in watching our cholesterol levels but rather, in eating more whole foods and natural fats while avoiding man-made trans fats commonly found in processed and packaged foods.
You Can’t See It…But There’s an Invisible Civil War
Raging Inside Your Body That Can Go Undetected
for Months…EVEN Years!
December 11, 2013 by Mike Westerdal
Filed under Articles, Bodybuilding and Muscle Building, Fitness Experts, Health and Fitness, Interviews, Muscle Building, Nutrition, Recent Posts, Training, Workout Motivation
AA = Anthony Alayon; SH = Scott Herman
AA: What’s going on, Team Critical Bench Nation? It’s Coach Anthony here and today I have a very, very special guest with us and for those of you that don’t know, Scott is a YouTube sensation, has almost a half-a-million subscribers. He also has close to 200,000 Facebook fans and lo and behold, he has a membership site, which you’re going to find out all about. I was poking around with it last night and this thing is like a hybrid of Facebook, Twitter, BodySpace, all combined. It’s really unique and it makes fitness fun.
So without further ado, I’m going to go ahead and introduce Scott. How you doing?
SH: Hey, what’s going on, man?
AA: What’s going on? This is Scott Herman, ladies and gentlemen. And like I said, he is a YouTube sensation. We’re going to talk all about it. So let’s get started.
So, Scott, can you first tell us about how you got started in the industry, in the fitness? What—was it your passion? What drew you to where you’re at today?
SH: Well, when I was a kid, I was always into lifting. I kind of found my dad’s old weight set in the basement. And then I was on the wrestling team throughout my youth years, I guess I could say. And one of my friends had worked at a gym, a local Gold’s Gym and he’s like, hey, I know you like to lift at home, do you want to try coming to the gym with me and working there for a free membership? And I was like, sweet.
So I was like 14 years old, I started working at the gym, just cleaning stuff on the weekends. And lo and behold, a year later I was working full time, pretty much running the front desk and doing the floor and it just kind of spiraled from there. Just started off as a cleaning monkey and just worked my way forward and I just fell in love with the gym.
I loved the members that were there, I loved that I had something that I could work on at my own pace and something I could always improve on and keep pushing to try and get stronger and stronger. At the time, I was really into Dragonball Z, so I was like, I want to be like these guys, so just being the gym and lifting made that kind of possible.
AA: Cool, man. You actually got started just from the ground roots, basement to the gym and now it’s led you to a nice career in the fitness industry. That’s interesting. What would you say would be your biggest challenge when starting out, especially on YouTube? What obstacles did you face?
SH: I think for me, I kind of didn’t have any idea that you could do this kind of stuff on YouTube. When I started my YouTube channel, I was living in New York City. I had just got done filming the Real World Brooklyn and I was living in the city. I had been always in my own gym. I worked for the same guy for like eight years and I was the general manager of one of his gyms before I left to go to New York.
One day I was just kind of sitting in my apartment and I was like, something’s missing in my life. I feel weird not doing anything like completely fitness related. And so I couldn’t go home to my gym because I was in New York. So I figured, hey, maybe I’ll start doing some YouTube videos in my apartment and just kind of teach people how to exercise or give tips and anything like that. That’s basically kind of how it started.
And then the biggest obstacle for me became, I didn’t have a place to film inside of a gym. The gym I was going to, it was a Crunch gym in New York. They were kind of weird about me filming things in there. Which it’s funny now because it seems like almost gyms don’t even care. But for me, they wouldn’t let me film, they wouldn’t let me do anything. And so eventually that’s why I moved back home and that way I could at least film videos in my buddy’s gym and get this channel off the ground.
I would say the biggest obstacle for anyone getting started is just getting the fan base going and getting people to subscribe and see who you are. And my biggest tip I can give you for that is just be true to yourself and don’t fall into the gimmicks. A lot of people online now, they do these gimmicky things and you’ve got to remember, you’re putting yourself out there.
You want people to respect you and see you as a fitness professional. You want people to still want to watch your videos a few years from now. You don’t want to become a fitness fad; you want to become a fitness guru or a fitness professional. And that’s key to being successful. The key to being successful at any business is to make sure that you can be sustainable.
AA: Right, absolutely. Those are some good tips. I think that’s what holds a lot of people back, especially the Critical Bench audience. There’s a lot of people that want to start things, it’s just overcoming those hurdles. So it’s good to hear that you’ve had some hurdles, you are human and that you were able to overcome them.
SH: Yeah. I mean, I’ve been doing it since 2009. It just takes time. And you might not grow the fastest right off the bat, but opportunities come in through the door. As long as you just work hard, it will be there.
AA: Yeah, perfect. Now, what would be the number one exercise tip you would give to our fans who are trying to lose fat and gain muscle?
SH: The number one exercise tip if you’re trying to lose fat would be to circuit train. A lot of people ask me questions about their routine and their diet and they’re trying to lose weight. I always say, hey, so what are you doing for your workout routine?
And nine times out of 10, they’re doing like a muscle-gain split and they’re not burning any calories, not doing any cardio because they’re under the impression that if they do cardio they’re going to lose the muscle they have while trying to lose the fat.
It’s just misinformation that’s out there, and that’s fine. That’s why I built SHF, to try to help guide this misinformation to get people on track. And so if you’re trying to lose weight, you need to eat right, high protein, low carb, easiest thing to do, and you need to circuit train and do cardio. And circuit training is just going from exercise to exercise and doing basically a total-body workout.
A lot of people like to call circuit training Crossfit now. And they think that Crossfit invented circuit training, which isn’t the case, which is kind of annoying. Maybe it’s not annoying to you, Anthony, but every time I do a circuit training routine, I’m called a Crossfiter, which I think is…
SH: Yeah. Anyways, I like Crossfit, don’t get me wrong, but they didn’t invent circuit training. And then if you’re trying to gain muscle, you need to be doing the muscle-gain splits. You need to be focusing on volume. A lot of people are so worried about the weight. Obviously the weight is important, but in order to grow muscle, you need to have volume in your workouts.
And by volume I mean you’re doing higher repetitions, like 12 to 15 repetitions per set. You’re doing three to four sets per exercise and then you’re getting around 15, 16 working sets per muscle group. And normally what I’ll tell people, I’ll say, hey, if you’re doing chest, I don’t care how many exercises you’re doing, just try to get in like 15, 16 working sets. So however many exercises you do, just make sure when you’re doing that’s how many total sets you have in there.
And also, you can experiment with things like tempo. Most people don’t realize that you actually gain the most amount of muscle—you break down the most amount of muscle tissue in the negative part of the exercises.
And to be honest, a lot of people kind of rush through the negative and they’re not doing full range of motion and they’re not working through their sticking points and they’re avoiding all these critical areas where you’re actually going to gain—get the most benefit. So slow negatives, high volume and hit it hard for muscle gain.
AA: Cool. Yeah, that’s great tips. It’s so true that things like full range of motion, just little basic tips, add-up to be the difference-makers. So sticking to the topic of number one, what would be like the number one nutrition tip you’d see for our viewers, especially coming from like a bodybuilding sort of background and like what you’re trying to do with your goal?
What would be the number one tip?
SH: I would say you need to make sure you’re counting your macros. And I say this because a lot of people—and I’ll ask them. I’ll say, how many grams of protein are you eating? And they’re like, oh, my God, I eat so much protein. And lo and behold, they’re probably like 100 grams short of what they should be eating for the day.
Funny story: I was in Wal-Mart the other night and I saw my next-door neighbor. He’s turning 60 soon and he’s a runner. He runs the 5K in like 20 minutes. And he wants to be able to do it in under 20. That’s really good for someone who is 59. I mean, I told him if he just dyed his hair brown, he’d look like he was 35.
So anyways, so I was asking him about his diet and I was like, hey man, what’s your protein intake like? He’s like, oh, my gosh, I eat so much protein and for whatever reason, in his head, he thought that he was eating like 140 grams of protein because he thought that his tuna fish was giving him at least 50 grams of protein a day. And when in reality, he was only getting like—he had little tuna fish packets. You know, you can buy the premade ones?
AA: Yeah, yeah.
SH: He’s like, oh, this one tuna fish packet has like 100 grams right there. I was like, oh, really? Let’s go check-out your tuna fish packets right now on the shelf. Lo and behold, he was only getting like 25 grams. And he’s like, oh, I guess I was wrong. I’m like, yeah, you’re wrong, man. You need to get your protein up.
So at the end of the day, if you have to make sure you hit at least one macro, make sure you hit your protein goal, because nine times out of 10, your carbs and fat, they’ll kind of trickle-in on their own as you’re eating.
AA: Okay, perfect. We also—we already discussed some on the topic of your career path passion. I want to know, what are your workouts looking like these days? Have you changed them up? Have they been consistent from when you first started out? Tell us a little bit about that.
SH: My workouts—recently, I’ve actually—I do want to do a show at some point, and also, I’ve been doing fitness DVDs with Lyons Gate. And those require me to make sure I have a lot of muscular endurance. And so two to three times a week I make sure I’m circuit training.
And I do really high intensity circuits where I’ll incorporate things like muscle-ups and box jumps and Spiderman pushups and mountain climbers and groiners and all these other fun exercises, like burpies, that are just torment. And I have my muscle-gain splits throughout the week as well.
I’d say the biggest difference I’ve done is I’ve actually split my leg day into two different days and I’ve been able to get much better results that way. So instead of doing everything at once, I’ll have one day where I focus mostly on quads and glutes and another day where I focus more on hamstrings and I’ll throw-in my calfs and I’ll just kind of wrap-up what’s missing from my leg day: abductors, adductors and something like that.
I still do my drop sets. If you see my original videos, I haven’t done it for a couple of months, because I did them for about three months straight. Which is basically the first set of every exercise I do a drop set of like three or four drops, basically just pre-exhausting the muscles as much as possible. But right now, I’m sticking to the 10 to 12 rep range, or usually I’ll go maybe has high as like 15 reps, like I said earlier, about focusing on volume.
And I try to at least make sure on one set that I’m doing really slow tempo, maybe as like a finisher. Just to make sure the muscle is getting hit as hard as possible.
AA: Right, right. Perfect. I mean, splitting up the legs; that was a big breakthrough for me. It’s like doing hamstrings, quads different days, separation. So that’s a great tip. Thank you for that. What about your diet now? What is it looking like?
SH: My diet is pretty simple. I stick to what’s easy, to make sure I can do it. I do a lot of chicken, a lot of rice, a lot of broccoli, oatmeal with fruit. I have apples and bananas throughout the day. My girlfriend makes these protein pancakes with the BSN Syntha-6 protein, which gives me like 50 grams of protein right off the bat in the morning, which is really good. It’s kind of become like a staple in our diet.
And then the simple stuff like almonds and then I do have my powder shake throughout the day and I just basically keep it very simple like that. I just make sure I’m hitting my macros and chicken is really easy to cook. Just throw it on the grill and broccoli is even easier to cook. You just throw it in there with the chicken and once you close the top, it kind of like cooks itself. It will be a little raw. You know what I mean?
AA: Yeah, yeah, man. Cool.
SH: So I’m basically just eating kind of plain stuff like that. And then on the weekends, maybe we’ll go out to eat and enjoy myself a little bit, as long as I’m good throughout the—during the week.
AA: Cool. Yeah, macros are important. And I want to also know, this is a question that a lot of people want to know. Do you ever take time away from the gym, such as a vacation or a week from not doing exercise, and why?
SH: I can only take like maybe two or three days off from doing anything. And after like two or three days, I just start to feel like I’m missing something. My body needs to be active. And it can just be like—it can be like a 20 or 30 minute run and I’ll be happy. But I don’t like to stay away for too long, because this is my job and I am filming videos and if I take a solid week or two off, it’s going to affect how I look.
And then when I get back in the gym, it’s going to take me a week just to get my body back to where it is, because obviously you’re going to be sore if you haven’t worked out for two weeks and you go train again. So it will really kind of mess-up my flow of my operation I have going on here.
I mean, if I’m traveling on vacation and I have access to a gym, I can always circuit train and make sure I’m at least pushing myself hard that way. So it’s just a matter of doing something. For me, personally, I just—I don’t like taking off more than a couple of days. It just doesn’t feel right to me.
AA: Right. Okay. Before we get in the membership site, I know you have like a clothing line. I want to know, what are your plans with it?
SH: Yeah, actually, we just re-launched our clothing line. I’m wearing one of my sweatshirts right now. My plan with the clothing line—actually, I can’t take all the credit, because my girlfriend did a lot of the designing and picking of the clothing, and there’s actually girls clothes as well. But the goal was to make stuff that you could wear out to the gym and also kind of wear our around town as well. Because all the clothing is form fitting, so it sticks to you really well, especially if you have a lot of muscle.
The favorite shirts that I have right now are the Burnout shirts. It’s that material that like if you were to pull it, it’s kind of like see-through, but when you wear it, it’s very comfortable and it breathes well. So we wanted to put out a line that was more than just like t-shirts with funny logos on it. We wanted to have something that was a little bit more unique that you would feel proud of wearing. Maybe you open up your drawer and you see like your Armani shirts and your SHF shirts and you’re like, I’m going with the SHF shirt today. You know what I mean?
SH: So that’s the kind of quality we went for with the clothing line. So we’re really excited about that and the hoodies that we have are super-comfortable. They’re extremely warm and they’re form-fitting as well. So actually, I’m wearing one of them right now. It has one of—like an old-school crest that we made up. So it has it right here. It’s kind of like a classic.
SH: When the business started. It says SHF in the middle. All kinds of good stuff.
AA: Cool, man, cool. Yeah, I like that logo there SHF.
SH: Yeah, man. Thank you.
AA: Perfect. Before we close, I want to say, I know you were telling me a lot about the membership site. I touched on this earlier in the introduction of this interview. Can you go ahead and give us just a quick overview of kind of like what’s going on with it and what are your plans with it? What are you trying to do with this, because I mean, you’ve got everything in there.
SH: Sure. Do you want me to do a screen capture of it for you?
SH: Can you see the site?
AA: Yep, there it is.
SH: Awesome. Yeah, Anthony, so you’ve had a chance to kind of log in and make your own profile. So you’ve seen some of this stuff where the site looks like this. It went through a major overhaul. It literally took me all of last year to rebuild this website. Because before, the site was focused just on kind of getting, you know, exercises and routines and the meal plan out there. Now it’s actually its own social media network.
So when you log in to your profile, just like any other network, you have your friend requests, you have your notifications and you have your messages. And then what we wanted to do was make the profiles a quick snapshot of you. So you have your photo over here, you have your measurements. We have avatars. It’s around Thanksgiving time right now, so I have a fun Thanksgiving avatar put together. And then I have badges. There’s a bunch of badges you can pick from.
And then over here, these are like your top 12 friends, which is actually something that MySpace had back in the day, which I thought was pretty cool. You could have like your top—first it was like your top five friends, your top 12, maybe top 15, now it’s like your top 30. It’s starting to get a little ridiculous. I don’t know if you remember that stuff. You remember MySpace?
AA: Yep, I do. Back in the day.
SH: Back in the day. So I kind of pulled from there. And this is more your inspiration. So these are my top 12 inspirations which basically is some of my super Hermanites and my girlfriend and some other people that I talk to on a daily basis. And it just gives me quick access to their profiles.
So you’ll notice also, too, I have my goal, gender, age, height and my weight, and then down here, you have your board, which is where your friends can come or you can post comments and let people know what’s going on with you for the day and stuff like that. And like every other social media site, you want to make sure you have photos and so right here I have some photos.
All the photos work just like any other site, where you can see them and you can make them bigger and leave comments and there’s a notification system, so if somebody comments on my photo or likes it, I’ll be notified of that so I can go check it out.
We have a video section which you can actually pull videos right from YouTube. Actually, I was telling you about my red Camaro earlier. This is it right here, Anthony.
SH: So these work the same ways. I have a couple of different video albums. That’s motivational stuff, some fitness video stuff, some music videos that I like. And then this part right here, this is where most people spend a lot of time. You’re actually able to go to the section I created called “The Notebook” and you’re supposed to think of the notebook as a real notebook.
So if you were to go to your routine, and you can actually input all of the exercises and routines that you’re doing for the entire week and then you can print this out and take it with you and you can actually fill in these boxes.
One of the things that’s a pain in the butt is when you’re trying to fill out your routine, but you have nowhere to write down your reps and weight. This keeps it really organized. And if you’re a platinum member of my website, you can actually pull from my database of routines and exercises. So I’ll type in—I’ll change this to exercise.
And then I’ll type-in dumbbell. And it’s going to pull up all the different exercises on my website that have a dumbbell. So dumbbell bent-over row. That’s for a back exercise. Maybe you want to add that to your back day. So once you have it here and you click “add”, it adds it down here with its own list of sets, reps and weights.
And then, say for some reason you forget how to do a dumbbell bent-over raise. You can actually utilize this as a clickable link and it will go to that part of my website where the exercise is and you can watch the video. You can see what muscles are being used. I rate the exercises as beginning to intermediate and advanced.
And there’s also a written write-up right here so you know how to do the exercise. Maybe you don’t have access to the video. And then there’s photos down here to show the starting and ending positions.
AA: Nice. That’s real cool.
SH: So there’s a little bit of everything here. You can also put your meal plan together with my website. Some people actually write them out on their own. So I made it so you can either upload a PDF or a Word document and then you can see the meal plan here. Or you can go to create your own and you can write it all out by hand. So if you wanted to see exactly what my meal plan is, all you have to do is log on to my site, go to my profile and you’ll be able to see all my food right here.
SH: We also have progress charts. So if you want to start keeping track of your body weight and your body fat percentage, you just simply go onto here and you add the points. And you can change these dynamically very easy. So today for body weight, we’ll type-in the date. So it’s the 27th. Here we go. And my weight is around 171 right now.
Click add and it adds the point. And then we make this dynamic as well, so you can change multiple charts at once. So now I can go over to my body fat chart, I’ll enter my fat here, which it’s getting pretty low. We’ll see that come down to 6.8. And I’ll add that point here. Once I click out, it’s going to update the chart.
SH: Now the chart is updated.
SH: And then we also have a section over here with it’s started to get more attraction, and that’s your list. This is like for your max bench, your max squat, your max deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk, squat clean. Basically, this is an area where you can upload your max lifts for people to see and they can motivate you by clicking on the motivate button right here. And then they can also leave comments on your lifts as well into this section.
SH: And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Anthony. I can sit here with you all day. We also have articles. I’m going to be doing a live video feed session pretty soon. We’re probably going to start that towards the start of the New Year. We’re going to take you guys into my studio and you’ll be able to talk about certain subjects or I’ll show you guys new exercises or routines.
And obviously you can share all this stuff with your friends as well. And if you’re looking to have some tips to eat big and stay lean on Thanksgiving, you can check out the articles I posted this week so you can make the right choices.
AA: Cool. I mean, very in detail, very in depth and just like I was saying earlier, like a hybrid of BodySpace and like a social media network such as Facebook, so really unique. You get articles, you can upload pics, you really go the whole nine. That’s excellent.
SH: Yeah, man. We’re all about improving, too. So this is just the beginning. We’re going to do our best to make sure we’re always making the membership as valued-added as possible. Anyone who wants to try the membership site out for free and have full access to the database of exercise routines and my meal plan and exclusive content, they can use a promo code FREEFITNESS, which is all one word, and I’ll give them a one-month free trial. They can check everything out.
AA: Okay. So they can go to the site, type in FREEFITESS and they get a month free to try everything.
AA: All right, perfect. That’s excellent. Guys, definitely check it out. It’s a great membership site where you obviously can see the benefits and you have nothing to lose. It’s free. So Scott’s kind enough to let you try it. He has that much confidence in his program. We’re going to have links below this video so you can check it and learn more.
Scott, is there anything in closing that you’d like to give to someone trying to start out in the fitness industry, one piece of advice you’d give them, what would it be?
SH: My best piece of advice would be to remain true to yourself, have good morals and values and if you’re going to do it, do it because you love it, not because you’re looking to make a million dollars, because with any kind of business in life, if you’re doing it for the money, people can tell. And there’s a lot of money in this industry, and obviously it’s a good industry to be in.
But you need to be here because you love it, and it’s going to show if you do. I feel like that’s why I have the large community that I have, because they can really tell that I love doing this. Yeah, it’s a job for me, but I love this stuff and I love helping people and I love taking the time to show them how to reach their goals. And that really shines through if that’s what your true intensions are. So be true to yourself and then your community will be true to you.
AA: Cool. Well, Scott, any final closing words before we end this interview?
SH: Yeah, actually. I’m pretty excited. In about two weeks I’m flying out to L.A. and I’m filming my third fitness DVD series with Lyons Gate Be Fit, and then the first two DVDs that I did are coming out maybe towards the end of December, start of January. So for those of you who like to work out exclusively at home, you can check out those.
They’re going to be available everywhere, like Amazon, Best Buy, Target. And I also have all of the videos for the workout series that you can do at home on my website as well under Lyons Gate. So you can check those out there. So we’re pretty excited about that. It’s a pretty big opportunity for us and we’re hoping that more keep coming.
AA: Cool. Guys, you’ve heard it there on what to do. Check out that DVD when it comes out. We’ll make sure to have some links there for the readers and viewers who want to know more about it. Scott, it was a pleasure doing this interview. Thanks so much for allowing us to do this.
SH: Yeah, thank you, man. It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
AA: Awesome. Well, you take care, you have a great day and we’ll be speaking soon.
SH: Thanks, man. I’ll see you soon, brother.
AA: All right. Bye bye.
by Coach Chris Wilson of Team Critical Bench
The weekend before my big debut with Team Critical Bench started with a 3 Day Workshop in Tallahassee Florida and about 30 hours of kettlebell exercise.A few months prior to this amazing weekend the Founder of Critical Bench who is my good friend Mike Westerdal reached out to me with an opportunity.
We had already been discussing the possibility of me joining the business but at the time he was searching for a training partner.
He wasn’t looking for a spotter or motivator…he was looking for a commitment from a hard working friend.
Mike had recently been rewarded with the chance to train with kettlebell’s. And not with Joe Schmoe either. With the most prestigious organization in the world for Russian Kettlebell Training…Dragondoor.
He’s like, “Hey, do you know much about kettlebells?” I said, “a little bit, stuff like swings and squats I guess.”
He proceeds to tell me a little bit more about this awesome chance to learn from the best in the business and offered me the opportunity to join him. Knowing that I had a real chance at joining Critical Bench in the near future, I felt almost an obligation to say YES to Mike.
So the date was circled on the calendar and I felt great about it, until…I drove up to where Mike had been training for the past few weeks with an RKC Instructor and I had a…….
I meet this really nice, reserved fellow named Mike Wille as well. We make friendly conversation during warm ups and then we start doing some basic kettlebell exercises.
Fast forward about 5 minutes…
I’m already dying and scared about what’s coming next! Meanwhile, Mike the trainer is tossing these things around like they’re 5 lbs AND I outweigh him by at least 50 lbs! Talk about feeling wimpy.
Mike Westerdal & Mike Wille, RKC
I barely get through the hour long workout and I have to drive back to my old work (almost two hours by the way…ughh). Let me tell you, I’ve been training with weights for years and just one hour of doing strict kettlebell movements left me beaten, battered and extremely humbled.
I was so nervous about not only the next training session with “Mr. Nice Guy” Mike the trainer but I was seriously considering bailing out on that RKC Workshop thing at the end of April. Well, I didn’t quit just yet…I wanted to stay the course for my friend and see if there was any chance that I could improve my skills with that darn 24 kilogram weight. I’m usually pretty confident when it comes to strength movements and being explosive.
But not doing stuff like deadlifts, power cleans, clean and jerk, and push presses for a while will drastically destroy your chances of being truly explosive with weights. I practically had to reteach myself to be explosive and move with real power through my hips.
By the fourth session with Mike the trainer I had a smidge of confidence in myself. Enough to remain committed to my friend and this upcoming weekend workshop.
Russian Kettlebell Certification “RKC” WEEKEND
Mike and I make the drive to northern Florida from the Tampa Bay area in good time. We decide to eat some burgers (with some reservations of course) the Thursday night before the workshop started.Little did we know, we could have eaten 5,000 calories if we wanted to and still lost weight over the weekend.
By Friday evening (after 10 hours of straight exercise), Mike and I were so sore, so exhausted that we looked at each other at dinner and thought, “how in the world are we gonna be able to do that again on Saturday AND Sunday???”
Well, Saturday came and went ending with the kettlebell Snatch Test, an RKC special. After moving around all day long with kettlebells varying in weight from 16 kg to 32 kg, we were asked to do 100 reps of kettlebell snatches in 5 minutes or less….it still scares me to think about.
I was toasted. I failed to get 100 snatches. My hands were destroyed with open sores and I fumbled my way to 67 reps. Mike did much better and got to 88 reps. His powerlifting background really helped his efforts. For the rest of my life, I will remember those numbers!
Sunday was more of the same with even more testing at the end along with the final workout called the Graduate Workout….let me just say, imagine the worst 20 minutes of your life and multiply it by 5.
Easily, one of the most grueling exercise routines I’ve ever participated in. A non-stop combination of kettlebell swings, cleans, presses and squats….I mean non-stop…you never put the weight down!
Mike and I received certificates of attendance and we passed on several of the skills but both of us had to retest the Snatch Test and we had 90 days to do it following the workshop. Good old Mike was the first one to nail it and a few weeks later (after 3 failed attempts) I reached 100 reps with the 24 kg kettlebell in 5 minutes and became an RKC certified instructor too.
Here is a cool video of me passing my snatch test finally. This was months after the RKC but it is an example of what perseverance and dedication can do when achieving your goals.
And of course, we can’t forget the man himself, Coach Mike passing his snatch test!
Easily, one of the greatest and most challenging accomplishments of our life.