Interview With Fitness Author Nick Nilsson by Ben Tatar
1) Critical Bench: Tell us about yourself?
Nick Nilsson: I started my training career at the age of 17, primarily for building muscle - I was a cross-country runner weighing 150 lbs soaking wet. After my first year of college, I was very successful with the weight gain! I had put on 70 pounds in eight months (not all muscle, unfortunately).
My university background is Physical Education and Psychology (Bachelor's degree) with emphasis on biomechanics, physiology and kinesiology. I graduated from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada in 1996. I've been a personal trainer for the past 9 years as well.
And from the moment I first picked up a weight, I was hooked!
Nick Nilsson: "The Best Exercises" is a compilation of 53 of the most unique and results-producing exercises I've either invented myself or come across in my research. Included in the book are pictures, video demonstrations and common errors and tricks for performing the exercises even more effectively.
I've filled the book with some extremely powerful (and never-before-seen) stuff! These are some of the very best exercises a person can do for every major muscle group in the body.
If you've been training for any length of time, you know how the body can get stale and your results slow down when you keep doing the same exercises and programs. These exercises will shock the body into new growth and strength gains very quickly!
3) Critical Bench: What are your 3 favorite exercises in the e-Book "The Best Exercises You've Never Heard Of" and why?
Nick Nilsson: One of the very top of the list is the Nilsson Curl, a variation of the chin-up that I've come up with that takes the entire bodyweight and places it on the BICEPS instead of the lats. This is accomplished with a simple adjustment to how you perform the exercise. This one will blow your biceps up like balloons!
The next one is an incredible movement for the back that I call the "Pulldown to Row." Basically, you first do a regular close grip pulldown, then, without releasing the tension in the back, you change your body position and perform a rowing movement. It gives you a complete back workout in one movement. The tension and burn that you'll feel in your entire back has to be felt to be believed.
I've also got an extraordinary abdominal exercise in "The Best Exercises" that I call the "Bench End Cable Leg Raise." This exercise has you doing a leg raise movement with your butt hanging off the end of a bench for full back flexion at the start (a part of the range of motion of the abs that NO other leg raise movement can hit). At the same time, you are holding a bar attached to the low pulley so you're getting tension on the upper abs as well. You do the leg raise, lower the legs down, then immediately do a cable crunch. Your entire midsection is absolutely on fire after the first rep. By the time you finish a full set, you'll know what a real ab workout is supposed to feel like.
I have video demonstrations for all three of these exercises in the book.
4) Critical Bench: How did you create these fancy exercises?
Nick Nilsson: I create exercises in a number of different ways (I must say, though, that I didn't create ALL the exercises in the book... some have been around for a long time but have been all but forgotten in conventional training).
Sometimes, I take common exercises and just approach them from a different angle. Sometimes, I take a piece of equipment and just start playing with different angles and methods of resistance and body positions. Sometimes, to be completely honest, I have no idea where the idea comes from - it just pops into my head.
When I experiment with exercises, it's all based on my training experience and the university knowledge I have in biomechanics, physiology and kinesiology. I know how the muscles attach, how they work, what positions to achieve the best contractions and stretches. I just mix in some creativity!
5) Critical Bench: You also created an e-book called "Specialization Training" and "The Best Abdominal Exercises You've Never Heard Of." Tell us what these
e-books are about? How did you create them? And what are some of the most
unique abdominal exercises and specialization training techniques that you
have came up with?
Nick Nilsson: "Specialization Training" is all about how to develop lagging bodyparts as quickly as possible, or, if you really want results fast, how to take already strong bodyparts and take them to the max!! The book includes six extremely powerful specialization techniques. I've used these techniques with downright amazing results.
As an example, using one of the programs, I actually increased my dumbbell shoulder press strength an astonishing 40% in 4 days. I couldn't believe the results myself. I also have another program that required only a few minutes a day yet allowed me to go from being able to do zero handstand push-ups to be able to do 40 FULL REPS in a matter of a few months (shoulders have always been among my worst bodyparts, which is why I chose to specialize on them). When I was at that point with the handstand push-ups, I was able to do 105 lb dumbbell shoulder presses for reps - great carryover strength!
The Best Abdominal Exercises You've Never Heard Of" follows very similar lines to the original "Best Exercises" book with a focus on just the abs. This book also contains, for the most part, new exercises that I've invented myself. There may be a couple that people have seen before but if someone has seen more than a handful, I'd be very surprised.
These exercises are extremely effective and totally targeted to fast results. Crunches, in my opinion, are just NOT the best exercise for developing the abs quickly and effectively. These exercises blow the crunch out of the water.
6) Critical Bench: What would you consider to be the hardest exercise that you created?
Nick Nilsson: That's a very tough question - you can make just about any of the exercises I've created and make it extremely tough. The Curl Squat (one of the exercises from my ab book) stands out as one of the top, especially when you work up to using heavier weight. It not only requires strength in the whole body, it works your core in a way that no other exercise I've ever done can match. Not only does your core have to support the entire weight as you do the exercise, it also gets NO break from the start of the set to the end of the set, even when you're at the top of the squat. Your breathing muscles get squeezed just ferociously. By the time you finish the set, you'll feel like your lungs are on fire and your whole body is ready to give out.
Every time I do this exercise hard, I end the set by racking the weight then dropping down on one knee and gasping for air. Naturally, not everybody is going to work it this hard, but it's one of the physically toughest exercises I've ever come up with. It builds just INCREDIBLE core strength as well as breathing strength (think breathing doesn't require strength? Try this exercise and you'll understand what I'm talking about!).
7) Critical Bench: Let's say the lifters read your new e-books, should they quit doing the original exercises altogether and use your specialized exercises? Have you
replaced the standard bodybuilding movements with your techniques?
Nick Nilsson: These unique exercises are basically designed as alternatives - they can be used in place of the basic exercises or in addition to the basic exercises. Many of them are actually simply more effective variations of the basic exercises!
No need to quit the basics - these exercises can stand on their own or work very well in addition to the basics.
Nick Nilsson: The "Metabolic Surge" program is a unique approach to fat loss. I don't target only fat loss with the program - I felt it was EXTREMELY important to also ensure that muscle mass is preserved. There aren't any other fat loss programs I know of that specifically target (or successfully achieve) muscle building as a goal The Surge program does this and does it well.
Let me put it this way... the first I went through the program, I started out weighing 207 lbs. 36 days later, I weighed 207 lbs but had lost 3 INCHES from my waist! This was at least a 10 lb muscle gain on a reduced-calorie diet. I could hardly believe the results myself but I have people write me constantly saying they've gotten results like this (and even better)!
In fact, I'm currently working on a new version of the "Metabolic Surge" program that specifically targets muscle building on a low-calorie diet. I'm halfway through and the results are just amazing - this program is going to challenge a lot of conventional muscle-building wisdom, specifically that you need to eat excess calories to gain muscle and strength. It's hard to believe but I'm actually GAINING weight while eating below maintenance calorie levels. Keep an eye out for this one when it's done (the target is later this year).
9) Critical Bench: Out of all the awesome e-books that you wrote which one would you say is your favorite and which has been the biggest hit?
Nick Nilsson: I can't say that I have a favorite out of all them, to be honest. Each one has some amazing information to offer.
10) Critical bench: Why are these exercises so much more effective than regular exercises? Are these exercises for everyone?
Nick Nilsson: The exercises I come up with are more effective because they're designed to attack VERY specific aspects of the muscle. For instance, I've come up with exercises that are specifically targeted to achieve maximum anatomic contraction of the muscles. By placing the muscle in the right position, then finding ways to add resistance to that position, I've come up with some pretty powerful stuff.
Many of these exercises are good for just about anybody. Some are more appropriate for advanced trainers - I try to make it clear in the descriptions who these exercises are appropriate for.
11) Critical Bench: Do you think that these techniques could dominate the future of training?
Nick Nilsson: I wouldn't go so far as to say they will dominate the future of training. The potential is definitely there, though. You see, it's tough to break through the resistance a lot of people have to trying new exercises and programs. A lot of people just know what they know and don't want to know any more. These exercises and programs may be more effective but a person has to be willing to try them first before they really feel what they're all about.
12) Critical Bench: Tell us about your training routine? You have some great size/definition and strength. Would you consider yourself more of a bodybuilder, or
powerlifter or a mix?
Nick Nilsson: Right now, I'm testing the "Metabolic Surge" muscle building program. It's exciting stuff! I'm building tremendous strength and seeing great gains in muscle all on a low-calorie diet. I never would have believed it was even possible up until very recently.
I'd say I'm more of a mix of bodybuilder and strength trainer. I like to build muscle mass but I also think it should be strong and functional, not just for show. Some of the exercises I come up with require great strength and balance.
13) Critical Bench: Nick, what has been your funniest training experience? Your most interesting training experience and your favorite training experience?
Nick Nilsson: Here are my choices for funniest, most interesting and favorite training experiences:
Funniest Experience: Watching a sweaty guy put way too much weight on a pec deck, slipping, and getting shot 4 feet across the floor onto his face (he was fine - just hurt his pride).
Most interesting training experience: I used to work on a cruise ship as a sports director - sometimes I would do my training when the ship was rocking in high seas. It's a real challenge doing extremely heavy lunges when the boat is going one way then other! I was using two 150 lb dumbells that I made myself for lunges one day - when the ship went one way, they felt like nothing. When the ship rocked the other way, they felt twice as heavy!
Favorite training experience: Hard to say - I get that every single time I invent a new exercise that I've never seen before and wouldn't have believed was even useful or possible just minutes before. The great thing, I get that feeling on almost a daily basis!
14) Critical Bench: Nick, is there anything else you would like to tell everyone who is reading your interview?
Nick Nilsson: Training is all about pushing your personal limits. Don't ever let someone else tell you that you can't achieve something or they'll be right!
If you're interested in getting any of the books that I talked about in this interview, they're all available on my site at Fitness-eBooks.com. There's a lot of great info that'll keep you busy trying new things for quite awhile!