Interview with Natural Bodybuilding Champion and Actor, the Superman of Fitness, Anthony Catanzaro
By Ben Tatar
1) Anthony you are known as having one of the greatest physiques in the fitness world. How did you do it? What makes Anthony different than others who are ripped or big but who aren’t necessarily in the ideal condition?
Anthony Catanzaro: I’ve always looked at my physique as the people’s physique. Not the most ripped, or the biggest arms or crazy vascularity. I created my body in what I thought every man would want and admire, and what every woman would drool over.
In my mind I thought of my body as a work of art as a vision of excellence. So when people ask me how I did it of course they know my story of never using steroids or any other enhancement drugs.
I just followed a strict and basic diet and trained very basic and old school, but what did it was my visualization of how I wanted to look. No supplement in the world can do that for you. The body is the student and the mind is the master.
2) You have been ripped for many years. How do you stay in prime condition today? Do you do everything similar to what you did 10 or 20 years ago or do you do everything different?
Anthony Catanzaro: I still continue to train and diet the very same way I always have. I don’t believe in the latest craze diets like macro diet which to this day I laugh at or a very low carb diet or caveman diet or liquid diet or whatever diet for that matter.
The best diet is a balanced diet and that my friends come straight out of my mouth. Training is the same as well. The human body has not changed much in the last 100,000 years. So, building muscle back then is the same as now.
How? Break down the muscle fibers so they grow back bigger and stronger. How? By lifting, pushing and pulling more resistance than what the muscles are used to it’s as simple as that.
Editor’s note: Anthony has been at the top of the fitness world for years.
Read his first interview here: http://www.criticalbench.com/Anthony-Catanzaro.htm
3) You come from a big family of 6. What do they think of all the success you have had and the national headlines that you have made?
Anthony Catanzaro: My family is very proud of me and my accomplishments. I’m happy and blessed to have a family who admires me, a wife who loves me and fans who support me.
I think what sets me apart from all the other guys is my heart and my love to genuinely help others. I’m very honest and sincere in what I love and that is to inspire the world to be the best they can be and overcome anything in their path!
4) You have been on many TV shows and made all types of television appearances. What 5 have been your favorite and why?
In the last 10 years I’ve appeared in shows and TV such as:
Janet Russell Show
DR. OZ SHOW
Bayou Billionaires -CMT
Tony C’s Pure Power Workouts!
Energym Flexx Bar infomercial (show host)
Game Killers (MTV)
CNBC “The Big Idea”/ Donny Deutsch
“Energym Turbo Charger” home gym (Show Host)
The “Bean Flex 10″ home gym (infomercial)
Super Cut Ab Dome (commercial co-host)
Mr. Romance (Oxygen TV
My favorite 5 would be:
1) Game Killers MTV. This is where I played an egotistical, over macho, over confident steroid narcissist. I still crack up when I see it. I blew the directors minds when I went on the casting and started cursing all of them out as that was the characters personality.
2) Ford Commercial: This was one of the funniest commercials I’ve done when all I had to do was just come out and pose which I love to do.
3) Rachael Ray: This was a fun show as I came out and surprised Rachael from the audience. She was so shy, she ran behind the counter like a little school girl then I started posing with the stage director with our shirts off. It was so funny!
4) Bayou Billionaires –CMT: This was a great show filmed down south in Louisiana. I was hired to whip this billionaire farmer into shape.
5) CNBC “The Big Idea”/ Donny Deutsch: This was a funny talk show where I came out and spoke about how famous my abs were. I like this video because I felt I looked the best I ever looked in my life. Also I was able to just sit back and be myself.
Anderson Live: This was when I popped out of a cake for Betty White on her 93rd birthday. It was a great time and to come out of the cake with Betty’s arms wide open it was very sincere and sweet.
5) You have been a bodybuilding champion and you also have done plenty of magazine and cover shoots. What do you like best the competing end or mainstream fitness extravaganzas?
Anthony Catanzaro: I’ve never been to any of the fitness show extravaganzas that doesn’t really interest me. I don’t consider myself a fitness guy, I consider myself a fitness savoir.
It’s not about push-ups, it’s about the push forwards. I never wanted to be like anyone. I always wanted to be one of a kind. I love to compete because when I step on stage, I’m able to show what you can do with hard work, trust, and love within your heart.
6) We know that getting ripped is all about diet. Let’s forget super obesity for a minute and talk about someone with maybe 10-25% body fat. What do they need to start doing with their diet to really cut up? For example, do you avoid large portions or even foods like wheat bread? How do you find the discipline when you have hunger cravings?
Anthony Catanzaro: Getting under 10% body fat has a lot to do with your diet. My chiropractor is always around 8% body fat. I don’t believe he works out very often, but I’ve come to learn he is allergic to gluten which means he eats no bread, pastas cookies cakes etc.
This is the reason he is 8% I’m sure if he was able to eat pizza, cake, bread etc. he would be like the average man which is around 23%. So yes, diet plays a huge role. I have a saying “If God made it use it, if man made it lose it.”
This means do not eat anything that God didn’t already form, eat foods in their natural form nothing processed, canned or boxed
7) What’s your tips on getting huge?
Anthony Catanzaro: If we just talk about being ripped without the hardcore components, we might become heels! Getting huge muscles requires lifting more weight with more reps than our bodies are used to.
It also requires that we eat and rest to repair those torn fibers so they can grow back thicker and stronger nothing else needs to be done or said.
8) Do you have any extreme training routines that you have done that you would like to elaborate on?
Anthony Catanzaro: I keep my training old school like I said but I do believe in drop sets, supersets and giant sets not so much for the whole workout just the final sets of a body part to get as much blood into the muscle to create what I like to call “the swell.”
9) Great tips. What inspires you?
Anthony Catanzaro: I’m very inspired by people who are confidant in their own skin people who love themselves not in a conceited or cocky way, but in a way of respect for themselves because I truly believe that your life will unfold from how your thoughts are of yourself and your capabilities.
If you believe in yourself, then my friend that is all you will ever need because God lives in all of us and he is activated from our faith in ourselves because ultimately having faith in yourself is the same as having faith in God because God lives inside you.
10) Very profound! How do you want to be remembered?
Anthony Catanzaro: I’m glad you asked me this question because I often think about how I would like to be remembered. Well for one, as the true voice of faith and love for what I love and want to share to the world. I want the whole world to feel what I feel from what working out has given to me.
I want to be remembered as a guy who did it naturally without drugs but with only the courage in his heart. To live forever as one of the greatest men of all time. To truly live up to my name as the “Superman of Fitness”.
Want More From Anthony Catanzaro?
Critical Bench interviewed him about 10 years ago and you can read the entire interview at the link below.
Interview with Eddie Robinson
By Ben Tatar
Eddie Robinson has been on top of the bodybuilding world, powerlifting world and he has been published on the cover of 85 magazines! He’s a great father, mentor, trainer and coach!
Lets step into the life of Eddie Robinson and learn about his life to the top, what it was like on the top and his secret insights into the whole entire world of fitness. Everyone, Critical Bench brings to you, the one and only.. Eddie Robinson…
1) CB: Eddie most people know you, but tell us about some of your accolades in the iron world.
ER: Hmm, where do I start? Well, I started lifting as a teen when I played football and boxed the Golden Gloves in Akron, Ohio. All through high school I enjoyed pushing heavy weight with the dream to play for Ohio State and hopefully have a pro football career. During that time I focused on strength training and started entering power meets and strong man events, where I set the power lifting platform on fire.
In 1983, I was going for a world record squat of 875 lbs when I injured my lower back and my dream to take the teen world record in the squat had to take a back seat. I decided to take the world record laying down instead. I broke the teen world record in the bench press 220 lb class with a bench of 575 lbs, then two months later I won the Teen Mr. USA.
Later that night after the Teen USA, I got a call from the ‘Master Blaster’ himself Joe Weider, asking me to fly out to Woodland Hills, CA, where we spoke about football and my dream playing for Ohio state to a lucrative contract representing Muscle & Fitness, Flex, and Weider Nutrition.
We sat in his back yard discussing the pros and cons of playing football vs competing and being a spokes model for Weider publications & nutrition. Joe said, “I’ll give you 3 years if your lucky playing full back for Ohio State compared to just getting in shape competing once a year being a spokes person/model for the publications and nutrition lines.”
Joe offered to train me and educate me to be the best of my genetic potential by using his Weider Principles, knowing I already was using the Eddie Robinson principles that earned me Teen Mr. USA, Jr. Nationals where I beat out Shawn Ray and earned my world records in the bench press.
After a few days of discussing my future in the sport and enjoying my time spent with Joe & Betty Weider in their beautiful home, Joe sat me down and offered me a four year contract.
After the week of discussions and listening to Joe’s stories seeing his heart’s passion and dedication to the health andfitness industry, I accepted his offer with honor. Needless to say, my dream of being a pro football player changed gears during my teen years.
In 1986, I then went on to take another record of 575 pound bench to a final lift of 610. I remember Dr. Fred Hatfield telling me,”Damn son, you just broke the world record in the 220 class.” Later that month, Fred Hatfield aka “Dr. Squat” wrote a kick ass article on me for Muscle & Fitnesscalled “Strong Roots, The Eddie RobinsonStory.”
Mr. Joe Weider’s offere was the wind in my sails to go on and win the Men’s Mr. USA, my first pro show the Canadian Cup Gold’s Classic. I then went on to compete in the Olympia, Night of the Champions, Arnold Classic, European Grand Prix.
I also won the Panama Jack World Arm Wrestling Championships. Some of my greatest highlights of my 13 competitive years as an IFBB Pro was being featured on over 85 covers and 360 training articles.
After retiring in 2002, I decided to be a coach to dedicate my time and passion to helping other athletes reach their dreams and to achieve their full genetic potential and teach them to be their best, no matter what the sport or training protocol.
I share my scientific approach to diet, training, and nutrition as I have learned form the greatest legends in the world of Muscle &Fitness.
I trained under some of the best trainers in the industry and I owe it all to Mr. Joe Weider aka “The Master Blaster”,Arthur Jones, inventor of Nautilus and Hammer Strength and Master of H.I.T training, Dr. Fred Hatfield aka “Dr. Squat” and Founder of the ISSA (International Sports Science Association), and Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale, world power lifting champion and editor of the Metabolic Diet.
Pasquale also dedicated to helping Olympic athletes compete without the use of performance enhancing drugs. This training and knowledge enabled me to put a mark in the power lifting & bodybuilding world.
2) CB: you have been on many magazine covers. Do you have a favorite?
ER: So many are my favorite. This is going to be a hard one. I would have to say my favorite would be the one on my Harley that Vince McMahon got me when I signed my 4 year endorsement contract with the WBF which is another story The two hardcore Flex Magazine covers I did with Rich Gaspari. Then I would have to say the two covers of Muscle & Fitness with the amazing Monica Brant and Jamie Bergman, which were both listed as two of the most popular issues of all time with those magazines.
3) CB: how would you compare thefitness industry today compared to 7 years ago? How would you compare thefitness industry today compared to the 90s? What about the 70/80s?
ER: Let me start off with the 70/80’s when bodybuilding was breaking ground in popularity worldwide thanks to the amazing greats like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, Lou Ferrigno, Frank Zane, Tom Platz just to name a few. All had great physiques on different spectrums. Arnold had size and balance.
With his perfect balance and symmetry: broad shoulders, wide back, and small waist he knew how to pose gracefully displaying his strengths which made it impossible to beat when standing next to in comparisons, as his mass stood out of the line up.
The much smaller bodybuilder, Frank Zane, was the only one to beat Arnold because of his flawless symmetry, muscle tone, and balance. Zane brought the word “shredded” to the stage with his signature vacuum pose (arms over head, pulling his abdominal wall to his spine.) That was mind blowing, showing his ripped seratus anterior and obliques.
Sergio Oliva was one of the mass monsters with his famous Olivia arms-over-head pose, forming a V with his fists pointed outward while showing his massive forearms and biceps. All these different body types were pleasant to the eye and all unique individually bringing different looks to the IFBB stage. I recall talking to Joe many times during my visits with him at his Woodland Hills home, drinking coffee on his patio by the pool where we discussed the changing of times regarding the sport. Joe pointed out how the new pros of the 80’s into the 90’s kinda mirrored the old school pros.
Arnold and Zane brought two different physiques and symmetry to the stage, standing side by side same as the late 80’s – 90’s next to the great Lee Haney and Lee Labrada.
I concurred with Joe that it was a mirror of Arnold and Zane, which Joe pointed out and stated that it made a great playing field, because at that time you didn’t have to be a mass monster to win. Zane was the only one to beat Arnold and Labrada second to Haney, even though Zane and Labrada were much smaller in comparison to Arnold and Haney.
It set the stage and proved that anyone big or small could win the Olympia. It wasn’t based on mass, but more of a total package. It was about bringing a work of art to the stage that was pleasing to the eye and was achievable.
The 90’s were the greatest of all time because most every pro athlete had a very lucrative endorsement contract. I was with Joe Weider others were with the numerous nutrition lines. We were all booked guest posings, gym nutrition store grand openings, and attended shows.
We would make a couple grand just signing photos. I’m very grateful and honored to be listed as one of the top 10 pro bodybuilders in the 80’s & 90’s with some of the great athletes such as Lee Haney, Rich Gaspari, Lee Labrada, Mike Christian, Shawn Ray, Gary Strydom, Dorian Yates, and Paul Dillet.
Now to compare that to the last 7 years. You won’t see a physique like Frank Zane in an arms overhead vacuum any longer nor will you see a 176 lb athlete like Lee Labrada placing second in the Olympia anymore. The amazing flawless physiques of the past like Demey, Bob Paris, and Labrada are long gone.
There is only one size and that’s HUGE to the ultimate extreme, where muscle is on top of muscle and even where some doesn’t even belong. It’s now a freak show and is the reason why we now have new divisions such as men’s physique, bikini, and figure that are keeping the sport alive.
I’m going to end by stating, Joe was a genius, he built and empire on the sport and was the godfather. Joe Weider “Master Blaster” sold millions in nutritional products and sold billions in publications such as Muscle & Fitness and FLEX.
In 2002, my world stood still. Joe called me to fly out to Woodland Hills, CA to talk to me about his future in the industry. We sat once again on the patio by the pool. He told me he was selling his publications to AMI. When I asked why, he stated that he saw the future of the sport changing.
With the drop in sales distribution, and the new breed of bodybuilding mass monsters were not quite as marketable and they weren’t increasing the sales to the average bodybuilding enthusiast. I then told Joe,” You are bodybuilding. You lived it, breathed it, slept it, and made it what it is today!
You can’t sell and not be in control of the sports publications!” Joe told me he had to because he’s not in control of the athletes and the sport had gotten out of control. If he was leaving I told him I’m retiring. So I did and decided to dedicate to training athletes as Joe once did.
To educate them on cutting edge diet, nutrition, and training building future champions! I’m “TEAM “V” FULLY LOADED.” Putting the “V” in Victory.
4) CB: Eddie, how do you see the future of the fitness industry?
ER: The future of the fitness industry will always keep growing and changing to meet the times. There are so many great athletes from bodybuilding, figure, men’s and women’s physique, and bikini. It will keep growing by leaps and bounds.
The men’s physique is getting very popular as well as the woman’s figure and bikini divisions. I get more requests to coach men’s physique and bikini athletes than I do bodybuilding here at Team “V” and I feel this shows the current direction of the industry.
5) CB: I heard your training different clients with new techniques. Tell us about some of your training methods when it comes to training people? What can clients of yours expect when it comes to training?
ER: Yes, I train clients nationally and internationally with a variation of techniques. What can my clients expect? RESULTS!! My training protocol depends on the person and their individual goals, whether it be weight loss, building, toning, strength training, specific sports training, or competitive bodybuilding, men’s physique, bikini, or figure. I use a cutting edge scientific approach to all levels of diet, training, contest prep, and photo shoot prep.
From carb loading and depletion to water manipulation to being rock hard and stage ready. I give my clients all my secrets that I have learned during my career. My diets are customized depending on the individual by depletion, water, nitrogen, and carb manipulation to keep them looking full without water retention.
These are the same protocols I used to be at my best when shooting my 85 career covers using my scientific approach. Since my teen years and during my career I have trained under the guidance and direction of Joe Weider, Arthur Jones, Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale, and Dr. Fred Hatfield from 1983 – 2002.
I key on a variation of training protocols from H.I.T training that I mastered from the great Arthur Jones, strength training from Dr. Fred Hatfield & Dr. Mauro Di Pasqual, and diet and Nutrition from Joe Weider along with numerous variations of drop sets and supper sets by overloading and training both the red and white muscle fiber in the same set getting the full benefit of muscle growth and adequate recuperation time.
6) CB: you made it to the top level in bodybuilding and in the world of power! Which world was harder to make it to the top in? How did you train differently for both worlds?
ER: I would say the power lifting was the hardest to be on top. It took intense training, dedication, commitment, and discipline. I had to push my body to new limits of strength to be better and stronger than the day before. To press on with the no holds barred attitude and to excel and be the best of my genetic potential. I was focused and I accomplished it in the Iron Game.
I had the turkey, now all I had to do was carve it. And that I also did. I set the bodybuilding world on fire, displaying the power with grace. Etching the hard earned mass developed and built by punishing the IRON to hells end transforming and becoming a mound of hard earned twisted steel with a hell of a lot of sex appeal.
7) CB: how do you see the future of the industry?
ER: I see a positive future of the industry as the Arnold Classic and the Olympia keep growing every year. It’s good to see the women’s division growing by leaps and bounds with bikini, figure, physique along with the men’s physique which all are keeping the sport alive.
If the sport were to be like the old days with just bodybuilding and fitness, there wouldn’t be a snow balls chance in hell it would survive. Don’t get me wrong, today’s bodybuilders are losing interest and just don’t want to do what it takes to be in today’s bodybuilding line up.
This is one reason why you see the men’s physique growing by leaps and bounds in the amateur world along with women’s physique, figure, and bikini.
8) CB: what was it like knowing Vince McMahon? Name 5 people in the industry that you met who have really inspired you.
ER: It was a great pleasure and experience working with Vince McMahon. He is an athlete at heart and a marketing genius. The empire he made building the WWE and scouting out the best athletes making them into characters was ingenious making it a billion dollar industry.
I feel if Vince McMahon would have concentrated on the WBF as much he did with the WWE, it would be more entertaining and more in demand than today opening the doors for more endorsements and shows. The WBF was based not only on great physiques but showman ship.
The people whom inspired and had an impact on my life were #1 Joe Weider, Arthur Jones, Vince McMahon, Dr. Fred Hatfield, and Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale. Most of my career I have been trained under the guidance and direction of these legends in the fitness industry.
It was an education that is simply priceless and it was a great honor becoming friends with these men. Joe Weider was like a father to me since a teenager and had a great impact in my life not only as my mentor and trainer but as a great friend to me and my family.
Joe and I had a lot of great times working together as an endorsed athlete (1983-2002) for Weider Nutrition,Muscle & Fitness and Flex publications. Joe and I always kept in contact and spoke often about the sport and how my kids were doing until the day he died (March 23, 2013).
That was one of the saddest days of my life, as I lost a great friend whom educated me not only in the iron game, but gave me sound advice in life in general.
9) CB: what are your 10 quick tips to a world class bench max?
ER: I will make this question quite simple, as it relates to both power lifting & bodybuilding. Please read below question #10 that starts off with “BALLS”.
10) CB: what are your 10 tips to a world class physique?
ER: I can sums that up in one word, BALLS: Defined as pushing yourself to no limits. Where there is no finish line and no last rep. To have determination, dedication, and commitment. To be the best. Most of all, to program oneself to become the greatest of their genetic potential! If you only set your sights to beat the competition, and when you do, then who in the hell are you going beat?
The answer is yourself. So I always strived to better myself, to beat myself at all times, and to become better and greater than the day before. The tips I got from Joe Weider, Arthur Jones, and the men mentioned above was the fuel to my desire and drive.
My goal was absorb and listen to their words that they spoke with such passion and sound advice to the scientific approaches to diet, training and nutrition and then to apply all their advice to myself! I was a sponge and absorbed all the clinicals and information to set the world of Iron on fire.
To have that “No holds barred” attitude, dedication, commitment. To make my mark and to be “FULLY LOADED” with passion and fire that was handed down to me from these legends above in order to become one.
11) CB: how’s your son and family?
ER: Critical Bench, I appreciate this question most of all and thank you for asking as family comes first. Family is the nucleus for one’s success. If your home life is great, you become great. However, this can be a book on its own for me as I raised two children on my own. Not only am I a dad, I’m a damn good mom also and have had the greatest pleasure watching them grow.
As I matter of fact, right now I’m siting at the Countryside Cougars football field watching my son practice while replying to this interview. My family is great. My daughter is now grown and on her own, so now it’s just Seth and I and I can’t leave out Kelly Lynn, my GF and also a coach, who’s making me shine these days even brighter.
We have so much in common, both helping athletes nationwide reach their fitness goals, aiding in reaching their full body’s potential. Teaching athletes to be the best they can, whether it be on the field or setting the bodybuilding & fitness stage on fire. We currently work with athletes nationwide with TEAM “V” which stands for VICTORY.
We added “FULLY LOADED” as we educate our athletes. Teaching them sound clinical training advice, customized to their body’s genetic structure and having the proper tools to be the best they can genetically be. Making them “FULLY LOADED.”
12) CB: what is Eddie up to these days?
ER: I’m currently active is raising my son Seth, enjoying football games and practices along with working with all my clients at at TEAM “V” which keeps me extremely busy. I am always writing out diet plans, training plans, along with peek week and contest prep. I get great pleasure dialing my clients in for shows and working with these athletes as it keeps me living my dream as I did half of my life on the bodybuilding stage.
I’m also working on numerous ebooks on contest prep, diet, training from A to Z, sharing all my knowledge that I used during my pro career. I’ve been dedicating a lot of my time working on my teamvictoryinc.com site, where I outline all of my diet prep that won me the America, USA along with my 12 year IFBB pro career along with diet and training for power and strength that I used breaking my world records along with training around injuries in which I became accustomed to during my career.
I’m planning on launching this site the beginning of the year, being a full time coach and helping athletes. I will be Skyping clients and helping with their posing routines, visually dialing them in. Most coaches use cookie cutter diets, but I customize each diet to the individual.
Everyone is unique in their own way and need that custom diet and training protocol to fit their body’s needs. I customize training based on my clients strengths and weakness.
13) CB: Give us some inside facts about you that most people might not know.
ER: Hmm my life has been pretty much been public since I was a teen, so I would have to say what most people don’t know about me is, um, that I wear t-back underwear. I kinda got used to the BANANA hammock in my early years, as my legs had a hard time fitting in those tighty whities with my 36 inch thighs.
14) CB: How do you want to be remembered?
ER: To be listed top of the GOOGLE search engine instead of second to Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson. Lol…Well most people will remember me by the covers and the titles I once took; however, I wish is to be remembered for the person that I am. At the end of the day people will forget about the titles and the covers, but will never forget how you made them feel.
My goal is to educate, inspire, and encourage people to be the best they can be, and to do more, to be more, and to become more! To remind people that you don’t have to win to be a winner! The true winners in any sport are the ambassadors who are humble and set a good example of sportsmanship.
To represent and be respected not only for their titles and accomplishments but for the person they are. I don’t want to be remembered for the mark I made in powerlifting or bodybuilding, but for the mark I made impacting peoples life.
The second part of my life isn’t any longer about setting the IFBB stage on fire nor breaking world records, the second and last part of my life will be spent being the best father and mate I can be, to dedicate myself to helping other athletes reach their genetic potential and dreams and to be the best coach helping others reach their dreams.
15) CB: in closing is there a message you would like to say to the workout world or any topics that we didn’t cover?
ER: Yes, my message to the workout world would be to train smart and don’t spend all day in the gym. More is not better! During my career, I have learned a lot on what to do and what to not do and by combining what I felt worked best for me by mastering the training protocols and philosophy of Dr. Arthur Jones, Joe Weider, Dr. Fred Hatfield and Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale.
By combining a variation of all four of these geniuses H.I.T training protocols and theories into a custom training protocol that worked for me. So I developed what I call my Spartan H.I.T program that worked! It enabled me make incredible strength gains to put on size and dominate the Powerlifting World by taking world records in the bench along with dominating the world of bodybuilding by taking the Teen Mr. Florida, Teen Mr. USA, Teen Jr. Nationals then the Mens Mr. USA, Men’s World Record 575/610 Bench along with my 12 year IFBB/WBF career competing with the best in the world setting the IFBB stage on fire.
By Mastering how to shock both the red and white muscle fibers in one set followed by numerous super sets exercises. This targets both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers which enabled me to get twice as big twice as fast with less time in the gym. You can read about all the training projects Arthur Jones did with me along with other pro athletes such as Sergio Oliva, Casey Viator, that both Mentzer brothers studied and passed down to other pros such as Dorian Yates.
However, My Spartan H.I.T program is just a little different from Arthur Jones training protocol. For $30,000 I agreed to being a guinea pig in a project performed by Dr. Ellington Darden and Ken Hutchins and then relocated and Move with Nautilus to Plano, TX for a 12 week project experiment to get me ready for the Nationals using the training protocol.
I used super slow movement with combination of slow speeds of lifting and lowering weight and general principals of HIT training that was used in the 1960 by power lifters to break plateaus in their strength. This was known as muscle contraction with measured movement (MC/MM) which reduces momentum during exercise. The recommended set to achieve muscle fatigue was between 100 to 240 seconds per set and a workout should last non-longer than 30 min.
Research states that this type of training provides superior results compared to traditional training in as little as 10 weeks. It was hard on my body. During Dr. Darden’s protocol in 12 weeks I lost quality muscle and had serious tendon and ligament strain. If I continued this training regime, it would have destroyed my ligaments and tendons and ruined my career.
Training protocols were training 3 x a week, with workouts lasting no longer than 30 min. Sets were i.e. chin-ups: 30 seconds up 60 seconds down, leg press: 90 seconds down 60 seconds up.
Total training time for the week was 1 hour and 30 min. I was supposed to place in the nationals. The bad news, I didn’t. Good news was it was the quickest $30,000 I ever made in 12 weeks. When I got back to Florida, I got a call from Dr. Arthur Jones asking me what the hell happened.
I drove over to Lake Hellen to see Dr. Jones and while we while we were throwing chickens in his alligator pit, we discussed what Dr. Darden had me doing. He laughed about the training protocol and he agreed in some parts and disagreed in others. I did enjoy being Dr. Arthur Jones experiment training on the new leverage line later to be renamed Hammer Strength.
I agreed to do another project to only use Hammer Strength equipment to get ready for the Mr. USA that I won using Dr. Jones HIT training customized for me using the Hammer Strength equipment.
The Leverage Line later named Hammer Strength was the absolute best developed equipment. It keeps you in the proper range of motion for targeted body parts and is ideal for the HIT training protocol. It was counter balanced and very easy to follow Dr. Jones HIT super-set training, doing 30 second positive and negative contractions and 3/4 rep intervals that worked overloading the muscle. Hammer Strength is also amazing to rehabilitate from injury.
16:) CB: Anyone you want to thank?
ER: I would like to thank my family and friends for always being their giving me strength and the foundation needs to reach my dreams. To my fans that have followed me during my career, if it wasn’t for you my achievement would be worthless.
My fans gave me the fire, drive, and the determination to be the best I could be! Joe Weider and Arthur Jones, thank you for believing in me and educating me by giving me the tools needed. Because of you it enabled me to break records and take titles.
If it wasn’t for Joe contracting me for most of my career, all wouldn’t have been possible and I thank you. My family thanks you for enabling me to fulfill my dreams and to provide for them in the process. Joe, you were my #1 mentor, great friend and are greatly missed!
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By Dennis B. Weis
Smash through training barriers and make “phenomenal progress” with the amazing 30 Day 50 / 50 Counter-Split Specialization.
One of the most radical, but muscle producing methods of specialization we have come across is, the old-school 30-Day Fifty / Fifty Counter-Split Specialization.
This is a little known training secret that many top bodybuilders have used for years as a means of forcing rapid gains in size and strength and urging along improved muscle shape, naturally.
Basically it is a counter-split which consists of priority training a lagging muscle group SIX-DAYS-A-WEEK. Here’s how it works.
The muscle (segment) group needing specialization is trained for muscle size and strength on Monday-Wednesday and Friday. Countering (hence the term “counter-split) those training days the muscle (segment) group is shape trained on the intervening days (Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday).
Fifty percent of specialization training will be for the development of muscle size and strength and can be performed on three alternate days per week.
Muscle Bulk & Strength Mon-Wed-Fri
Using the biceps for an example choose one multiple joint or compound exercise which will work the belly of the muscle.
Do 4 to 9 sets each and low reps of (9-3) prevail; using maximal weight on each set of an exercise. Here’s how it works:
1st Week – Begin the program by doing the Standing Barbell Curl for 4 sets x 9 reps on each training day.
2nd Week – Do a total of 5 sets x 7 reps of the Seated and/or kneeling Barbell Curl on each training day.
3rd Week – Do 6 sets x 5 reps of the Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curls, on each training day
4th Week – Do 7 sets x 3 reps of the Standing Barbell Curl on each training day during this final week of training.
This 4 week progressive sets outline is generally adaptable for the intermediate bodybuilder. Super advanced bodybuilders can begin with 5 sets per a major or minor muscle group, needing specialization, each workout day during the first week of priority training. Do 7 sets the second week of training and 9 sets the third and fourth weeks. Very few super advanced bodybuilders will ever need more than nine sets of one exercise per muscle group each workout session.
Rest-pause between sets 2-5 minutes.
Shape Train Tue-Thur-Sat
The remaining fifty percent of specialization you will shape train (training is structured for the development of blade sharp separation and granite hardness in a muscle sector).
Choose one muscle specific or isolation exercise which will target the (major or minor) muscle group needing specialization. Do 4 to 9 sets each and high reps of (9-12) prevail; using light to moderate poundage on each set of an exercise.
1st Week – Begin the program by doing the Preacher Bench Barbell Curl for 4 sets x 9 reps, on each training day.
2nd Week – Do Dumbbell Hammer Curls for a total of 5 sets x 10 reps, on each training day.
3rd Week – Do One-Dumbbell Concentration Curls for 6 sets x 11 reps, on each training day
4th Week – Do the Gironda Body Drag Curl for 7 sets x 12 reps, on each training day during this final week of training.
Rest-pause between sets 45 – 90 seconds.
For the 30-Day Fifty/Fifty Counter-Split Specialization program, or any other training protocol’s to be successful Impeccable Exercise Form is a must for accelerating the muscle gain and strength factors and derailing the onset of training injuries.
Always be concerned with doing an exercise correctly for the prescribed number of reps rather than how much poundage you can use in an uncontrolled (i.e. “jerking” or “bouncing” movements) manner. Here’s a unique way you can accomplish impeccable exercise form and increase exercise poundage logically.
Impeccable Exercise Form:
Biomechanical changes with regard to the speed of the negative (eccentric) and positive (concentric) phase of consecutive reps in a set is important to your progress and success in specialization training procedures.
Perhaps every third workout it is a good idea to do the first half of your reps in a set super slow where it takes you ten seconds in the positive phase and five seconds per rep in the negative phase.
Or decrease to eight seconds during the concentric (peak contraction) phase and four seconds in the negative phase. This procedure should only be done for one set and two at the very most on a scheduled training day.
Poundage Increase Logic:
Use what is called The “Kaizen” Method (The Japanese word Kaizen means “constant and never-ending improvement.”) in the poundage’s used, for a particular rep scheme (9-3 or 9-12), at the beginning of each training week. Add 1 ¼ -2 ½ pounds to each side of a barbell and as little as ¼ -½ pounds per dumbbell used.
(Tip: Add 1 1/8th inside diameter cast iron flat washers and/or magnetic PlateMates on the barbell or dumbbells to accomplish the weight jump factors.)
While the above increases may seem unremarkable it makes the weight of the barbell and/or dumbbell(s) physiologically and psychologically easier to use, each and every week, as opposed to say adding 10 pounds to a bar and almost instantly hitting a plateau and not being able to add poundage for weeks at a time.
Note: Concluding this overview of the old-school 30-Day Fifty/Fifty Counter-Split Specialization suggests to us that training six days per week is a bit much for the full recovery of the muscles and nervous system.
I think a modified training approach where-in the MUSCLE BULK AND STRENGTH PROGRAM is performed on Monday and Friday and the MUSCLE SHAPE PROGRAM on Tuesday and Saturday, to be more muscle friendly. Another variation to this training option would be to train on Monday and Tuesday, rest & recovery on Wednesday, then train on Thursday and Friday and rest & recovery on Saturday and Sunday.
And if the above weekly 4 day modified training frequency still wasn’t accommodating rest & recovery then the MUSCLE BULK AND STRENGTH PROGRAM should be done on Monday, Wednesday and Friday that is if the priority training is geared slightly more towards the increase of muscle bulk & strength and the MUSCLE SHAPE PROGRAM on Saturday only.
Further modifications would suggest that if the priority training was accented toward muscle shape stimulation, then do the muscle bulk & strength training on Monday only and the muscle shape training on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
The 30-Day Fifty/Fifty Counter-Split Specialization technique is somewhat similar to ‘Zane’s and Schwarzenegger’s method of specialization (consecutive training days etc.) with the main difference being that it lasts twice as long for improving a lagging muscle (segment) group.
As with any regular and/or specialization training program you will experience low level time factored training results where it seemed like your body is on “strike” (over-trained) so after this intense 30-day specialization program is completed, stop, take a 7 day layoff from all training and then go back onto a regular training schedule of sets and reps for the previously lagging muscle (segment) group.
Interviewed by Critical Bench’s Ben Tatar.
CRITICAL BENCH: How did you get involved in the fitness industry?
I was always involved in fitness at some level. Playing competitive tennis and running in races. Also being a mother of two I knew at some point I wanted to take it to the next level. I remember telling my husband about my desire to become a figure fitness competitor.
He laughed and said there’s no way you could look like the girls in those fitness magazines. That was it, my fire was lit and I was going to show him and nothing would stop me!
CRITICAL BENCH: How did you get involved with The WBFF and how do you enjoy being a part of the WBFF experience? After four competitions I was in a place where I felt things had to change. I knew it was time to take the next step and join a team and change federations. I had heard great things about WBFF and wanted to compete in their next competition. So, I joined a team (“Total Body Advantage”) but it was across the country.
This would be my first time not working directly with a trainer. I needed to decide if I could do this on my own. In October of 2011 I place 2nd in open medium figure with my new coach and team. They’re support made me feel the most confident I’ve felt at a competition to date!
I love being a part of WBFF whether we’re near or far all of the competitors are very supportive of each other which makes it a great fitness family that Paul and Allison were able to create for us.
CRITICAL BENCH: How do you balance your family life with your fitness career?
Being a very focused high energy organized person with loads of will power I am able to create that perfect balance between the two.
CRITICAL BENCH: Who has been influential in your career?
Ava Cowan and Monica Brandt
CRITICAL BENCH: When you look at yourself in the mirror are you your best friend or your own worst enemy?
My best friend
CRITICAL BENCH: What do you find more difficult the diet or the training?
The dieting towards the end.
CRITICAL BENCH: Did you find it difficult switching over from figure to fitness?
Only that I had to wear two different outfits.
CRITICAL BENCH: Tell our readers what your workout schedule consists off.
- Monday- legs with cardio
- Tuesday- chest
- Wednesday- biceps and triceps with cardio
- Thursdays- back
- Friday- legs with cardio
- Saturday- rest when off season
- Sunday- rest when off season
CRITICAL BENCH: I am going to name a topic and you give me a response in a sentence or less, here we go:
I drive a… Range Rover
My favorite bodypart is… biceps
My favorite exercise is… biceps
A fitness event during the year that I look forward to is… Worlds in Vegas
The best thing ever told to me was… I inspire them
The last time I cried was… when I won my Pro Card
I love listening to… R&B music
My ideal vacation is… A family vacation (anywhere)
One thing that I love about myself is that… I’m a real person
For fun I love to go… zip lining
I am always… put together
I love my… family and friends
My favorite health food is… protein pancakes
If I could cheat right now and not get fat I would eat… pasta
If I was an actress I would like to be in a…. action super hero
My favorite kind of animal is… my mini schnauzer
If I had to be an animal I would be… tiger
Love is… joy of family
The most fun I ever had was when… when I zip lined over alligators
I believe that… all things are possible
CRITICAL BENCH: In closing who would you like to thank?
I want to thank my children, husband and friends for all their love and support in helping me reach my goals. I also want to thank my coaches, Doug Casebier, Karen Dancer, the TBA team, and a big thanks to WBFF Paul and Allison Dillett for welcoming me in their fitness family.
Also sending out a special thanks to all my fans for their support and inspiring me to best athlete I can be.
Interview with Vic Richards
By Critical Bench Reporter Ben Tatar
Today Ben Tatar goes one on one with one of the biggest, smartest and most honest bodybuilders of all time, Vic Richards. In this exclusive interview, Vic Richards tells us what it really takes to be the biggest bodybuilder and about all the problems with bodybuilding today. Enjoy Victor’s intense interview as you will come out of Vic’s interview with a whole new perspective on the meaning of bodybuilding.
Critical Bench: Vic, we know who you are, so no introduction needed. I have been a fan of yours for a long time and I’m happy to be doing this interview with you today. First of all, tell us about your future plans?
Vic Richards: I have been taking my message about holistic bodybuilding–with mind, body and spirit–to the masses. I believe that for the past 50 years, bodybuilders haven’t been capitalizing on the overall benefits of bodybuilding. They are only focused on one thing alone: the showmanship aspect instead of the holistic part. In order to bring this message to more people, I am opening the Vic Richards’ Bodybuilding, Fitness and Nutrition Academy in the Pacific Northwest.
At the Academy, we will have organic farming, livestock, and provide a place for meditation, reflection, fitness and self-awareness. We will also have training that is outside the gym–to show people that you don’t have to give up life for bodybuilding–bodybuilding is about living and life. Along with the Academy, I am planning two eBooks right now. One is a collection of photos with the stories behind them, and another of my story and my philosophy.
Critical Bench: We wish you the best with Vic Richards Academy. For anyone reading this, go and attend. Vic, what has been your most emotional experience in bodybuilding?
Vic Richards: When I was in New Zealand, the promoter had scheduled me with a television talk show. Prior to my arrival, the current Mr. Olympia had been on this show. When the talk show started, the host tried to be comical and say that Mr. Olympia had been on the show and that I was bigger than he was. She said Mr. Olympia had said that he trained 24 hours per day and lived in his car. She said that if he trained 24 hours a day, I must train 25 hours per day!
My response was, “You don’t have to be an extremist to go to the extreme.” While honoring my colleagues while I was there, I was quick to separate myself by sharing my doctrine about bodybuilding. It’s not about showmanship or trophy or title. It’s about having the ultimate mind, body and spirit, which I call Holistic Bodybuilding. Suddenly, what was supposed to be a comedy hour becomes serious. We end up talking about Buddhist philosophy, meditation, philosophy about life and spirit.
After a bit, the information about my seminar came up on the screen with a phone number. The promoter said that this was the largest turnout for a seminar. People were coming from all over and we have to change the venue. Mind you, this is not the reputation that most bodybuilders had at the time. To see a 70-year old farmer bring his six year old grandson to see me and shake my hand and get my autograph was very emotional. I ended up losing money because I gave my picture away.
I couldn’t look a child in the eyes and exploit the situation. I guess I’m a bad businessman! The promoter almost started tearing up after watching all this. He said, “Vic, you have been the only athlete who has come here who has given away pictures to kids. Not only that, you’ve also shaken the image of bodybuilders being the stereotype of dumb muscleheads.
We’ve been wanting to bring you here for a long time, but people from IFBB and others told us not to bring you. We’re glad we didn’t listen to them because they are pissed because you don’t play the political game or conform to what others want you to do.
“The promoter wrote to Muscle and Fitness magazine and told them how I helped the image of bodybuilding in their country, only to have one of the control freak editors not print his letter. After seeing the corruption and lies first-hand, the promoter decided to quit the institution.
He didn’t understand why the bodybuilding establishment refused to promote the ones who could help the sport grow in a positive manner, but support the ones who give bodybuilding a bad name. He quit because of me.
Critical Bench: Vic, what has been your most gratifying moment in bodybuilding?
Vic Richards: After the Powers That Be in the United States have been blocking me from comparing myself to their “best” bodybuilder, I went to Germany to ambush them all. That was the first time that Kevin Laverone had ever seen me in person. Kevin called me aside and said, “You’ve been blessed. Pictures don’t do you justice. You could go to Olympia now and win.”
And he pleaded with me to do it. On the spot, he cut me a check to appear at the Kevin Laverone Bodybuilding Classic. He had just won the Arnold Classic the week before, and was the first runner-up in Mr. Olympia. This was a humbling and gratifying experience coming from legendary athletes themselves.
Critical Bench: Big moments. Vic, people said you were the biggest/most jacked bodybuilder of all time. Then you left the industry. What was your turning point in the industry?
Vic Richards: The day that changed my life and my attitude about bodybuilding will forever be burned into my mind. It was the day that I saw the true colors of a sport that is rotten on the inside.
I was preparing for a photo shoot for Joe Weider and a guest posing appearance at Orange County Muscle Classic with Mike Glass against Gary Strydom. I was in the grocery store in the middle of the night after training at the gym. A mother was grocery shopping with her son who had Muscular Dystrophy and was strapped in a wheelchair.
As they walked down the aisle, the son was smiling and waving at me the best he could. When the mother noticed me in the aisle with them, she started to hurry him away. I called after her, “Stop! Stop!” and walked over to them. I touched the boy’s hand and talked with him and joked with him.
The mother said that she was so surprised that such an extraordinary person would want to interact with her son. She said that they had to shop in the middle of the night to avoid her son being sneered at, laughed at and made fun of. She said that people were so mean to her son, and to her for keeping him knowing that he had Muscular Dystrophy that she assumed I would be even meaner or ruder because of my size. This broke my heart.
After spending a few minutes with this little family, I walked out of the store with tears in my eyes and vowed to make a difference. I contacted Mike Glass and told him that I didn’t want the money from the show sent to me, but donated to Muscular Dystrophy. I also requested that the local MD chapter be able to set up a booth to take donations at the show.
However, this decision is what exposed the sport of bodybuilding for what it is. After weeks of asking about the donation, I was told by Mike that “If I’m donating money, I want to choose where to send it.” I said that this was my money and he didn’t have a say in it. I confronted him about pocketing the money and told him that I wouldn’t show up if the donation wasn’t made.
His response? “You’d better show up.” I am peaceful, spiritual, but that doesn’t mean I’m passive. I hate injustice of any kind. I would die for what I believe in. If you try to take my dignity and principles away, I will shove my fist down your throat. And then ask Christ for forgiveness because last time I checked, I was not Jesus Christ and I will never be close.
I despise bullies and those that will rob from crippled children. I do not want to be part of any man’s bad Karma because when Karma comes to collect, it doesn’t just knock on the door, it burns the house down.
After this experience, I realized that the bodybuilding industry was just a bunch of bullies: grown men being yelled at and humiliated in front of their families by wimpy pencil neck guys who are judges; bodybuilders got robbed and were not being paid by the promoters; they had no way to get retribution because the NPC Chairman didn’t care unless he was the one not getting paid, causing some athletes to feel cheated and betrayed by the organization that was supposed to look after their interests;
athletes who are not being paid by their promoter because after a guest pose, the promoters run out the back door with the money and the athletes aren’t able to complain because then they will be blackballed and unable to work anymore.
How many times have you seen an athlete who is on top criticize the industry? You don’t. Because, in order to be a top bodybuilder, you have to be a puppet. In other sports, athletes are able to speak out about issues within their sport without the fear of retaliation. I realized after the night in the grocery store, I didn’t want to be part of a sport that does that to its athletes.
Critical Bench: Give us your training routine, training philosophy and diet?
Vic Richards: I train using Vic Richards Instinctive Training. I listen to my body and push it when it wants to be pushed, and I rest it when it needs rest. I do 2 hours of cardio each day, then lift. I believe that over-training is an excuse for the weak, and under-eating is for the birds.
There is no way that you can train like a girl and eat like a pigeon and look like a dinosaur.
I adopted this doctrine when it was not popular or conventional; when people laughed at it. When people went South, I went North because I understood that in order to be different, I can’t do what everyone else is doing. I took bodybuilding to another level. Not just by genetics alone, but by wisdom.
A lot of the things I was reading about in the magazines didn’t make sense. I’m a non-conformist. My nutrition is to eat as clean as possible. I eat lots of poultry, fish, eggs and vegetables–always with hot sauce to keep the metabolism going!
I will sauté onions, peppers, mushrooms, greens and whatever other vegetables I have on hand, then put grilled chicken, elk or moose (instead of beef) over it.
The vegetables are very filling, and the meat provides protein. For carbs, I usually eat sweet potatoes–baked or microwaved. In my early days, I ate a lot of rice and egg whites.
Critical Bench: Off the hook, love it. Real stuff! Vic, what is your message to the bodybuilding world?
Vic Richards: My message is that we are all ambassadors to the sport. We cannot conform to the stereotype of society: those that are in the sport who are not interested in image and the well-being of bodybuilders. It’s important to have individuality instead of the herd mentality.
In order to be free, you have to accept the fact that you are incarcerated by the few who try to exploit you. Bodybuilding was created for man, not man for bodybuilding; just like the Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath. You cannot be a cookie-cutter. Bodybuilding is about freeing your spirit, not imprisoning it.
Critical Bench: Very profound ideas. Speaking of ideas, tell us about “Ask Big Vic Radio,” your Webinars and about your social media outlets?
Vic Richards: Recently, I’ve started Ask Big Vic Radio (www.askbigvicradio.com) in order to share my opinions on different topics, and even have people call in for interviews and shows. I have always had Muscle Outcast (www.muscleoutcast.com), but felt that I couldn’t express my opinions outside of bodybuilding in that forum.
Ask Big Vic Radio allows me to branch out to the mainstream on topics that I have opinions on. And I have lots of opinions! I’m using Facebook and other social media to have a more personal connection with my fans, and that has allowed me to check on clients and see their progress based on what’s happening on Facebook.
In the past, without social media, those that want to keep us conformed had control over what we read, heard and saw. Now the genie is out of the bottle. I also share relevant articles, posts, etc. with my fans on Facebook. Now I’m moving on to online Webinars in order to share my message to the masses. These webinars will be to show bodybuilders how to be a complete human being, not just a physical being. You do not have to be a zombie to be a bodybuilder.
Critical Bench: That’s awesome. How do you want to be remembered?
Vic Richards: I want to be remembered as a man who told the truth. Who didn’t compromise my dignity and soul to gain the world. A man who refused to play in the sandbox with the devil. A man who did not partake in using the gifts that the Good Lord has given me to make love to the dead; instead I used the gift to enlighten others instead of my own personal gain. Finally, I love bodybuilding more than bodybuilding loves itself. I dance to my own drum and tune.
Critical Bench: Vic, How do you see the future of bodybuilding?
Vic Richards: The future of bodybuilding has always had the potential to be great. But the future of bodybuilding will always be bleak because of the people who are looking out for their own personal interests instead of the growth of the industry. There has never been a sport that has the potential of bodybuilding because bodybuilding covers all areas of health and wellness: sexual, physical, mental.
The fact that the industry isn’t capitalizing on this because they want to line their wallets and not let large industries like Nike in, shows that they do not want educated people in the sport. It benefits them to stink up the sport instead of benefiting the world with it. If we can share this message with the masses–the message of health and wellness, sport conditioning–then people can understand the sport for what it really is. Instead it’s full of corruption and greed.
Critical Bench: What do you want to see changed in bodybuilding ?
Vic Richards: There needs to be consistency and freedom of speech without persecution and prosecution. Bodybuilding is spiritual and it’s about freedom. It’s not about imprisonment. The judging is so contradictory. You can’t give us pint-sized Frank Zane as a Mr. Olympia as the standard of bodybuilding and then turn around and change it to brick-sized Dorian Yates. It’s contradictory and hypocritical. Every sport has rules. In soccer if you get a goal past the net, it’s a score.
You don’t always shift the goal post every game. In baseball, if you hit the ball out of the park, it’s a home run. And in football, after 100 yards, it’s a touchdown. But in bodybuilding, yesterday they gave you a midget and another day you might not know what you will get. It all depends on what kind of drink the judges are having that night–cognac or whiskey. There has to be consistency to show people what to expect. Athletes should not be competing blindfolded.
Critical Bench: Vic, love your thoughts and the analogies you use- very intellectual, articulate and entertaining. Last question, how did you become one of the biggest bodybuilders to ever live?
Vic Richards: Combination of a lot of things. First of all, the genetics of the Good Lord and good parents, and the revelation of using my mind to see that a lot of things that had been said in the past didn’t make sense. In order to get to the shore, I have to find my own way. Bodybuilding is not about conforming, but about not conforming.
I broke all the rules in order to separate myself from the herd. It was what I did while others were sleeping and celebrating that separated me from the herd. I have not even broken the surface of what I did when it came to my training. It was everything they told you not to do.
Interview Conducted by Anthony Alayon
Below is the transcription of the Skype interview I did with Nick Wright. Enjoy!
AA = Anthony Alayon; NW = Nick Wright
AA: What’s going on, Team Critical Bench Nation? It’s Anthony Alayon here. Today we have a very special guest, Nick Wright. And for those of you who don’t know, he’s definitely got a great YouTube channel. We hand-selected him as being one of the top channels, got a growing fan page and he’s also got a clothing line. So I’m going to go ahead and introduce him right now. Nick, how you doing?
NW: Thanks, Anthony. I’m great. What’s going on Critical Bench Nation? Awesome to be here.
AA: We’re happy to have you. So basically, Nick, why don’t you just go ahead and tell our readers and viewers a little bit more about yourself, how you got started and things like that. What got you to this point?
NW: Well, when I began lifting, officially lifting, freshman year of high school, I was 14 years old. I weighed 104 pounds at the end of the day. I had 11.5 inch arms. I was petite. I was tiny. The funny thing is, I don’t even know if I was aware of just how tiny I was. I kind of had little dog syndrome. I thought I was bigger than I really was, which now I’m grateful for, because it’s what actually drove me to continue pursuing weight lifting even after everybody laughed.
So one day, eventually, actually it was January 16th, 2006, I was watching a true life episode of a bodybuilder training and taking down his measurements. And I decided right then that I wanted also to do the same. So I took all my measurements down and then I began Google searching different bodybuilders. I didn’t even know what the Mr. Olympia contest was. I had just heard of it before. I began Google searching just bodybuilders in general. I stumbled upon Ronnie Coleman, the rest was history. I just became obsessed and infatuated.
I had set a goal to compete as soon as possible. My father is the one who actually talked me into waiting a little bit, because I was tiny, a long time ago. But soon after that, 15 years old, I competed in my very first competition in the teens; placed second in it. Fast forward to now, I’ve done about seven competitions, up to international levels. I’ve won regional-sized shows. I became a sponsored athlete at 18 years old. I got my first magazine cover at 19, becoming the first national teen on a cover. And have been on PBS and FOX quickly for just a couple of little documentary type blogs series, almost documentary style, but they were short.
And then how I began the channel was obviously I love bodybuilding. I love lifting. I love strength and I love the actual sculpting of the physique at the same time. And when I began, there was absolutely nothing online for teenagers and even natural bodybuilders, for that. So I found YouTube, I found out what a YouTube partner was and I kind of became inspired to bring my knowledge, what I had learned, to the public in any way I could. Bring the people something they could relate to, at that time a teen competitor and a natural one at that.
So we began bringing out the videos and breaking down exercises and I found out one thing I really liked doing was breaking down exercises verbally. I guess I do it fairly well, because people always compliment me on that aspect of my channel. Long story short, brought the videos out, brought it mainstream as much as we could, and I’m still just trying to push the whole lifestyle mainstream now.
AA: Interesting. So you basically started fairly young and just kind of kept that momentum, that go-getter, alpha male personality, just taken where you’re at and that’s very impressive. Landing a magazine cover, that’s not something that – very few people can say they’ve done. You know?
NW: Yeah, thank you. I was excited about it.
AA: Yeah, it’s a great accomplishment. As far as that goes, you’ve talked about your channel, what they like and things of that nature. Can you tell us, what’s probably the worst workout mistake when it comes to exercising that people make and how to fix it?
NW: Oh, man, I’d have to say besides all the generic mistakes of training the same body group over and over and over again, really I think the most common mistake is simply not knowing how to train, not understanding the biomechanics of a certain lift, of an exercise that you’re doing. And when you’re performing that exercise, not even realizing what muscle it’s supposed to be working or how to feel that muscle working.
So you’ll see somebody trying to squat and the movement itself is barely even activating the quads, you’re not getting deep enough, you’re not – nothing about the actual movement is correct. Nothing about the actual movement is activating the muscle it’s supposed to be moving and it’s simply from lack of understanding the mechanics of the movement and understanding exactly how to feel and tie-in the muscle they’re supposed to be working and targeting. So I would say overall, the biggest mistake is simply not understanding how to properly exercise.
AA: Interesting. That’s something like as far as full range of motion goes, that’s something that doesn’t get discussed too much in the world of bodybuilding. So it’s good that you’re bringing that. I’ve had a bodybuilding background as well, and the one thing they don’t really – it’s more about the pump as opposed to full range of motion.
AA: That’s a great point. Keeping on the topic of exercise, what do you see people doing? Do you see people over-training when they start out?
NW: Not so much over-training, in fact, I believe the term over-training is over-used, really. Under-recovery might be a better way to put that. And no they’re not the same thing. Some people may ask, isn’t that the same thing? Is under-recovery just over-training? But you can train and train and train a whole lot, and you can still make gains and recover from that. You just need to make sure you’re getting the rest in between.
I don’t think I see too many people over-training so much as I don’t see them training efficiently enough, especially people that don’t know what they’re doing. They come in, they’ll hit the bench press every single day, barely even doing the bench press correctly, actually. Most people don’t even realize how intricate the simple bench press can be if you really break it down. And they’ll move right from bench press to curls and they’ll do a set of curls and then they’ll move from curls to a lat pull-down machine. These are the basic movements that they see and that are pretty self explanatory or that are just the most popular in their gym class. And that’s kind of where it ends. And they’ll do that every single day.
And at that point, it’s not even do much a matter of over-training, even though it’s not good to train the same muscle every single day, it’s also just the simple matter of the fact that you’re not really training efficiently at that point.
AA: Okay. Cool. The last thing I want to touch on training as far as that goes is, what do you think about mobility? Again, going back to my background, mobility isn’t something that people discuss. Is it helpful? Do you do any? Can you elaborate on that?
NW: I’m so glad you actually asked that, because mobility is huge and like you said, it’s not a subject that has been really covered in past years. I feel like it’s just now beginning to see some light. Mobility is everything. In the past we’re always taught that mobility equals flexibility and obviously that will equal you stay limber, you stay healthy, which is true. That’s true.
Unfortunately, and honestly, younger kids, teenagers, even my age, at 22, we’re young enough where we can bounce-back pretty quickly. So we don’t take the whole stretching and staying limber as seriously. When we hear it from everybody, oh, stretching, you’re going to injury yourself, you’re going to tear something. We’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll be fine. I’m fine. And that’s obviously bad myth as it is.
One thing that should really be taught about mobility that I think more younger kids would actually grab onto or pay more attention to is how much of a strength increase it can bring to you. If you work on your mobility, say, shoulders for example. Really, really work on your shoulder mobility, your rotator cuff, the tendons, the muscle itself, the straps, the chest/shoulder tie-in, overall mobility of the shoulders. The more you increase that mobility and that flexibility in your shoulders, the more strength you’re going to see. And I have personally noticed that myself upon incorporating more power lifting into my routine, which I’ve been doing lately, I was able to skyrocket my bench press, which has always been my absolute weakest lift, by the way. It took me two years of training to even get 135 on the bar.
NW: I started off maxing out at 65 pounds, and barely. So by simply working on my mobility, I was able to push my bench press from like 275 – I think I had gotten 315 before, at this point, but it was like only on my best day ever would I get 315, normally 275. I’d get it for a few sloppy reps and that would be it. I began working on my mobility, really, really focusing on it, and I’ll spend a good amount of time every push day now, working on mobility, loosening up my shoulders. And since then, my bench has skyrocketed. In no time flat, I’m up to pushing 345, clean, no spotter needed. And that’s without even really training for power lifting neither.
And now that I’m beginning to focus on power lifting, I’m excited to see how much higher I can get it. But the number one key to my strength gains, on top of just training and eating, has been increasing my mobility and working on shoulder mobility. And that goes for any muscle group.
AA: Excellent. Okay, great. We’ve talked about that. Now, what about nutrition? Bodybuilding has a lot to do with nutrition. Can you tell us what is needed? What’s the mistake people make and how should they be eating?
NW: The mistake a lot of people make, I believe, is focusing on just getting protein in. Now, protein is essential. It breaks down amino acids, it’s what recovers your muscles, obviously. You need protein. And by definition, you need protein to actually survive. It’s essential. But you only need so much protein at a time. I mean, the very rough – I don’t like given this as a guideline – but the rough guideline you can find is around one gram per pound of body weight for an athlete for protein, which is not a whole lot.
People kind of forget the other aspects that go in there. Fats, you need a good amount of fats. A male doesn’t want their fats to go below 20% of the diet if they can help it, because it will start affecting hormones in a negative way. Carbohydrates are essential for energy. You need to get a calorie surplus if you want to put on size. You only need so much protein, you only need so much fat, where’s the rest of those calories going to come from? It’s going to come from your carbohydrates. So you need to make sure you’re getting a well-rounded everything, macronutrients. I wouldn’t just focus on protein. I know it’s inserted in our heads at a young age, but everything: protein, fats, and then of course carbs are your fillers for the end of that.
The other mistake I see people making is beginners trying to overcomplicate nutrition too much. If you’re getting into competing, obviously it’s going to become very intricate. It comes down to a fine science, that’s for sure. But if you’re just beginning, I honestly don’t recommend stressing too much. If you’re just a kid, who’s in average shape, trying to put on size and muscle, don’t stress about exactly what types you’re getting of this and that. Make sure you’re getting in your protein intake and then just focus on eating a lot, because you’re going to get your fats in easily. Everything has fats. If you can focus on getting better fats, like avocados, obviously, your omega 3s, that’s obviously a plus. When you’re just beginning, just eat a lot. Focus on eating, make sure you’re getting all your macro nutrients and that. Get your protein for sure and then just your carbs and your fats and eat a lot, get your fiber in there. You don’t need a whole lot of fiber throughout the day, so a little bit will go a long way. And you’ll be good.
If you’re not putting on size, you’re not eating enough, simple as that. As you get into it more, on a more intricate level, then obviously you want to make sure you get each macronutrient down pat. You would figure out how much protein you want, how much carbs you need, how much fats you need for your body to reach your goal. And then you nail those numbers down and you base your diet around that.
Even the different types of foods, different types of carbs, are over-thought of a lot. Because even something like a sugar, if you’re in a caloric maintenance or you’re in a deficit, a sugar will simply be digested and metabolized as a carbohydrate. It becomes glucose and then it’s stored ultimately as glycogen. Carbohydrates turning into a fat, in novo lipogenesis, doesn’t happen unless all your glycogen stores are maxed out. So basically you’re way overeating, that’s not going to happen.
So the bottom line is, get your proteins, fats and carbs in, get the calories in if you’re starting off. Don’t over-think it.
AA: Right, right. That’s actually what I preach in my newsletter, even at Critical Bench we discuss it. You’ve got to get those macros in. You’ve got to get your macronutrients in. They’re essential and they’re needed for survival, like you said. They’re essentials. That’s a great point.
Sticking to the topic of nutrition, what is your current nutrition looking like? Are you bulking-up? Are you cutting? Can you tell us?
NW: Definitely bulking. I’m about 192 pounds and I’m at about 5’8”. I think coming from 104 pounds, that’s a good size for me and my frame, being a naturally skinny white kid. Lately, actually the last couple of months, what I’ve been trying to do – since I’ve been stepping away from the stage, I sort of break from competing and I want to go into some power lifting a little bit more. I may or may not compete competitively, I’m not sure yet. But I’m just having some fun with my training right now. And what I’ve found is – I actually went really, really old school for a while. I always track macros. Up until then I was always tracking macros. Even if I was bulking, I’d get my caloric number set, 3,000 calories a day, whatever I was taking in, and I’d have my calories set. And I’d follow that and I’d adjust that as needed.
But lately, the last couple of months, I’ve literally just been taking protein, I just preached about, the old school barbarian approach, the old C.T. Fletcher approach where you just get the calories in. Get the calories in.
NW: I’ve been doing this for about six or seven, going on eight years now, seven or eight years now, where I can eyeball my food, I know what I eat. I don’t have a huge variety of what I eat and I can get a ballpark idea in my head of what I’m taking in. So I know like if I’m not taking in enough protein, I know basically what I’m eating, I’ll get in another eight ounces of chicken or something if I’m a little bit lower on protein than I should be.
Or in general, I’m just kind of eat. I’m just eating, I’m not over-thinking it. I’m not even tracking anything right now. I don’t even have my Fitness Pal in my phone, in my new phone anymore. I’m just eating. I’m getting the calories in. I have a ballpark idea of what I’m getting in and I’m making sure I get my protein, my fats and my carbs are definitely up, because I’m eating. So that’s what I’m doing right now.
And honestly, it’s worked amazingly. I think it was a little bit of a break mentally, because I’ve been doing this for seven years. So it was a break mentally, and man, my strength has shot up through the roof, my size is up. It feels good at 5’8” to finally be filling out XLs now, which was – I was always like smalls were big on me when I began. So little things like that, it’s been working amazingly.
I’m a little bit softer right now than I’ve ever been. Some of the comments on my channel will remind me of that all the time. But that’s fine and honestly, I planned for that a little bit. I didn’t mind getting a little bit fluffy. I’m not letting it go too crazy. I’m about to tie it up right now and clean it up, chisel it up just a little bit. But yeah, I gave myself a chance to basically just go old school barbarian. Eat a lot, lift a lot and the gains are amazing.
AA: Cool. As far as that goes, we’ve talked about what you’re doing. What can you tell us about supplements? I mean, that is probably the most talked about. Taking supplements, weight gainers, I mean, you’ve got nitric oxide, creatine. If you’d categorize them to the things that are essential, what would you say they are?
NW: So first off, to anybody who’s just looking to get into this working out business, period, forget supplements. First things first. I want to get that, because I want that to be – that should be imprinted in everyone’s head first and foremost. Forget about supplements. And I’m talking about the kids – I’ve worked in different supplements that I’ll do for corporations. I’ve done sales online. I’ve been in every industry and I can’t tell you how many kids I see come into the store, never lifted a weight a day in their life it looks like, don’t even know what a macronutrient is.
They don’t even understand how – they don’t know what a caloric surplus is. They don’t even know how to perform most exercises. They’re not on a training split, nothing. And yet, they’re coming in and asking which supplement will get me jacked.
Supplements are going to do next to nothing for you. There’s very few supplements that are actually efficient. I’ll get into those in a second. Most supplements will do nothing for you, and no supplement that’s over-the-counter, that’s legal and over-the-counter, will actually help you gain muscle. No supplement will do that. So get supplements out of your head. It’s eating. Eat big, lift big. That’s what you need to get down.
Once you have that in your head, you can use supplements as a way of putting icing on the cake, if you will. For example, whey protein – when I say whey protein, I mean any of those genres. Whey protein, it can be a mass gainer; it can be a casein, anything that’s a legitimate protein just in powder form. A meal in powder form, those are good because they’re a meal in powder form. So you’re trying to get calories in, you don’t have a huge appetite, it’s hard for you, you may invest in a mass builder and bam, that’s 1,000 calories by drinking a shake. That’s going to help you out. That’s perfect.
You have to rush in the morning, you don’t have time to make breakfast. Two scoops of whey protein, 50 grams of protein right there. That’s a meal that you just drink really fast. So that’s perfect. Protein powders in any form are never ever a bad idea. Those are great because they are just meals in powder form. Whey is a dairy protein. That’s a real source of food.
After that, the only – that’s all you would really need to rely on, I’d say, because it’s like a food. If you want to get into the more sports area supplements, creatine is about the one and only most proven supplement to work. Creatine, all you need is five grams a day. It’s a very basic monohydrate, micronized monohydrate. Don’t ever let any supplement companies gimmick you with these fancy names. Don’t worry about it, just basic monohydrate, $9 online. Take five grams a day, you don’t need to do a loading phase, you don’t need to cycle on and off it. Five grams a day, keeps your cells saturated. Creatine simply helps the muscle ATP.
When you’re working out for a long time, fat is what gives you the energy. When you’re working out for a moderate time, like a weightlifting session, carbohydrates give you that energy. When you’re doing quick, explosive movements, that’s the creatine. You naturally produce creatine, so keeping the cell saturated, five grams a day, creatine phosphate levels are up, you’re good to go.
Besides that, the only other supplement I use would be a pre-workout, which you may or may not use. If you don’t use them now, you don’t need them. Honestly, I recommend not getting into them. If you do begin using them, you probably found that you kind of rely on them, because it’s like coffee for your workout. Pre-workouts are essentially just a mix of stimulants, caffeine, they might use henbane, just a couple of safe, natural stimulants for you. They’ll have things like beta alanine, which is a precursor and it will essentially – along with the creatine, it will essentially help to prolong fatigue. So if you have beta alanine, that’s what gives you that tingly feeling and that’s going to make it so you’re not fatigued as easily.
The only other one that I’d say is worth mixing in there would be like citrulline mally [phonetic], which is a good vasodilator. That’s your NO2, your nitric oxide, expands the blood vessels, gets more blood flow to your muscles. More blood flow means more oxygen. You get more stamina, basically, more of a pump.
NW: So that would be it. All your whey protein powders, in any form, mass gainers, et cetera. Creatine, five grams a day, real simple and cheap, and then if you want to do a pre-workout, just consistent with the basics. Your stimulus to energy, your beta alanine, your citrulline mally [phonetic], et cetera.
AA: Absolutely. That’s a great point. There are so many supplements, the latest and greatest. You pick up a magazine and it sounds promising, but you know it’s not really needed. Get the foundation first before you even think about that stuff.
NW: Right. So sum it up, based on that, I’d categorize it like this: if it’s not giving you food or if it’s not giving you energy for something, for a workout, that rapid energy for a workout, don’t take it. Don’t even bother with it. Thermogenics, you may see. They’re the pills you take, will give you some energy and they burn fat. If you want to take those for the sake of energy and curbing your appetite, some of them are all right for that. But they’re certainly not going to burn the fat off of you. Don’t fall into that, either.
AA: Great. I guess one of the last questions I want to ask you is, if someone wanted to follow in your footsteps, just like you were a teen, someone that’s a teen now or just anyone out there in general that wants to get started in bodybuilding, competing. What’s one piece of advice you’d give them, like a mindset a motivation, how you stay motivated and how they could use that tip right today to help them?
NW: Quite simply, you have to want it. You have to want it. And if you’re not in that mind state, then you better figure out ways to make yourself want it. And it may not be the most favorite answer you’re going to hear, but it’s the most honest answer. Honestly, like I said in the beginning of this interview, when I was 104 pounds, I didn’t believe I was. I thought I looked better than I really was. I had this driven, total vision, almost narcissistic mind state that I was better than I was.
Now days, it’s opposite. Now that I’ve actually gained some size and strength, I’m like, I don’t think I look that good. But back then, when I started, I thought I was way ahead and I simply wanted it. I Googled those bodybuilders, I realized what I wanted to do and I was dead-set on competing. And I tell you, at one point, I was always one of those kids that fit-in socially at my school. I was friends with everybody, but at the same time, there was one point where I was literally almost bullied in school. I couldn’t even go to a party and say one comment without somebody turning it into the joke, making fun of me for bodybuilding in some way.
I remember saying one time at a party, “Oh, I was up late last night.” Somebody cut me off, “What were you doing, finger curls?” Everybody started laughing. It was like that. It was crazy. Fast forward, now, I have those same kids going onto my fan page and actually asking me questions pertaining to working out. So I pursued it, kept the friends I needed to keep and I couldn’t be happier right now. I’m doing my thing, literally just because I wanted it.
So don’t focus on other people at all. You need to completely tune other people out. People will only ever give you their opinions and most of the time it’s going to be knocking it you down. It will be saying you’re not cut-out for it; you’re not good enough for it; you look like crap. You shouldn’t do it, it’s not practical. The list goes on and on and on. Don’t listen to people.
Also, don’t listen to other people even when they’re trying to give you positive advice. You should bulk for this long and then jump on this show. Or, you shouldn’t do a show. Yeah, you should wait here. No, forget that. Get into your own head and stay there. Do what you want to do. If you want to train, train. If you want to body build, body build, and if you want to do a show, do a show whenever the heck you want to do a show. And you’re going to have the most fun that way. And you’ll find through having fun you’ll end up finding your success in bodybuilding. Best advice.
AA: Cool. Absolutely. That was great, Nick. We’re going to be having a link to your YouTube channel, your Facebook. You want to tell them real quick how they can get there?
NW: Definitely. YouTube is youtube.com/nickwright. It’s really easy. And another way to find me, guys, I have videos breaking down every exercise. And one of the guys said, I like – I don’t just tell you how to do an exercise, I like breaking down the actual little details into it and giving you ways to remember it.
For example, like dumbbell rows. I tell you to row the dumbbell up to your belt buckle, like you’re starting a chainsaw, not up into your chest. If you’re rowing, try to elbow somebody who’s hugging your waist off. Little tips like that. It all makes sense when you see the video, I promise you. I show you to break it ways you’ll understand and get it stuck in your head, really, really learn it.
So if you ever have a question about a certain exercise, instead of looking through my entire channel, just simply YouTube search Nick Wright dumbbell rows, or Nick Wright squats. Nick Wright with whatever keyword you’re interested in learning about, and I guarantee you’ll find it on YouTube.
My Facebook page is the page to be on. That’s where I’m at. Very interactive. It’s simply NickWrightBodybuilding on Facebook.
AA: All right, perfect. Well, we’re going to have links right above this on the site. And Nick, I wanted to thank you. We here at Critical Bench really appreciate it. It was very informative and I’m sure our readers and yours are going to find this informative. So thank you so much for being on this, Nick.
NW: Thanks, Anthony. I appreciate it. And one more thing is, the new website is created and it will be up soon. It’s NWBLifestyle.com. So check that out, see what that’s all about.
AA: Excellent. Yeah, check it out. He’s also got a clothing line, so guys, you want to – fan of Nicks, make sure and grab one of his shirts. He’s got a lot of great, great t-shirts out there and clothing. So check that out as well, everyone.
NW: Thanks, Anthony. Thanks, Critical Bench. Appreciate it.
AA: All right, have a good one.
As told to Critical Bench by Ben Tatar
Jeremy Hoornstra is one of the most dominant bench pressers of all time. One could say that Jeremy Hoornstra is to bench pressing as Usain Bolt is to sprinting.
Back in 1977 Mike MacDonald set a World Record in the bench press that nobody thought would be beaten, 522 @ 181, 562 @ 198, 582 @ 220, and 603.5 @ 242. Almost thirty years later Hoornstra came onto the scene and not only beat MacDonald’s record but crushed it.
Now Jeremy Hoornstra is breaking his own bench press World Records and has done so repeatedly! He just benched 661.4 at 242! I was fortunate enough to talk to Jeremy about what it’s like to be the great bench presser he is today.
CB: Jeremy tell us about breaking Mike MacDonald’s near 30 year bench press world record! Then tell us what it was like shattering your own world record by over 50lbs?
JH: Well, the 242 lb weight class was 603, held by Mike McDonald for 29 years. I broke that with 605 and then 615 in 2006. After that, I got injured, life got in the way it seemed but I got back on track. I started training with Josh Bryant and increased it to 617 in November. However, the last meet I did in April I benched 622, then 639, then ended with 661.4 (an even 300 kilos). I thought that was really cool because at one time that was the highest bench ever set by Bill Kazmaier, ten days before I was born.
*Editor’s note* Jeremy Hoornstra competes in the 242lbs weight class in the bench press and he not only increased his own bench press world record, but beat Bill Kazmaier’s World Record from the 275lbs weight class that lasted a total of 22 years! That just shows how crazy strong Jeremy’s bench press ability is. He not only dominates his own weight class, but he has beaten World Record Holders in heavier weight classes.
CB: Jeremy, what are your best lifts on the following exercises?
Dumbbell over head shoulder presses for reps – I’m not sure, but I know I can do the 150’s for around 50 reps for a few sets, but that’s cardio.
You make 150lbs over head shoulder presses cardio? (laughs) How many times can you rep 450lbs on the bench? – I haven’t gone for an all-out rep max, but somewhere in the vicinity of 18.
How much can you shrug? – My bar can fit eleven 45’s which is right at 1,035 and I’ve done sets of 8 with that but lately I’ve been hanging around the 800-850 range for 12-15 reps.
How much weight do you use when you do bent over rows? – I have done sets of 6 with 545, 585, etc. but have been doing strict, head supported or chest supported sets lately. Lats are huge in benching.
Your best incline bench press is – 635
Your best bench press in the gym is – 715
CB: Jeremy, on the bench press how many
times can you rep 225, 315, and 405?
times can you rep 225, 315, and 405?
JH: I haven’t really repped a whole lot lately but I can say the most I remember repping out 225 was 71, 315 was 42, 405 was 24.
CB: What’s harder doing skull crushers with 315s for 10s or 100lbs dumbbell over head presses for 100 reps? I know you’ve done both.
JH: I’d say the 100 reps because that’s crazy endurance, I can muscle up the 315 for a few seconds of reps but 100 reps is insane.
CB: Jeremy, tell us about your diet and what supplements do you take? Do you eat clean or do you eat anything that doesn’t move?
JH: 99% of the time I eat clean. I eat chicken, potatoes, eggs, steaks, etc. I try to make sure I have no cheat meals the week before a show and that puts me right at my comp weight within a few days. I take MHP’s Up Your Mass, Tbombs, and Dark Rage also.
CB: Eating right is so important. Jeremy, What do you think are the 10 most important factors in increasing one’s bench press?
JH: Diet, sleep, listening to your body, staying balanced, going heavy, deloading when necessary, variety, secondary muscle work, technique, and setting a goal…then getting it.
CB: All of these things count folks! Jeremy, before you bench press a world record, what is going through your mind? Do you get deranged or have really intense thoughts or do you empty your mind? Do you like it when people hit you in the face or get in your face and scream?
JH: I try not to think a lot about anything, the less the better. I just focus on staying loose and ready to hit something big. I’m not the type that likes to scream, get slapped in the face, and then hit the weights. I just sit down, lay back and bench it, knowing that my training before the meet will ensure a good lift.
CB: Jeremy, noone thought Mike MacDonald’s records would be broken. They lasted for almost 30 years, until you came on the scene! Now you’re also out benching Bill Kazmaier, who weighed 320lbs, at 242lbs. That is amazing. How did you celebrate after setting the bench press world record once again?
JH: Honestly, we didn’t really do too much, I was already hitting that in the gym and knew that’s what I was going to be benching around. When I got home, my wife and the guys at the fire station cooked me a “congrats” dinner but other than that it was back to the normal routine. I’ll celebrate when I break Scott’s 715…that record was just a stepping stone.
CB: Well, good luck on your next big goal, very few people become the best bench presser in the world.
What is your advice for the following: the 225lbs bencher, 315lbs bencher, 405lbs bencher, and the 500+ bencher who wants to go extreme.. What really makes the difference between an average lifter and a top lifter?
JH: Well, for all of them, I’d say stick with it. As important as diet, training, the “next and newest exercise” can be, none of it factors in as much as consistency. Rome wasn’t built overnight. You have to stay with it when you feel great and strong and ready to tear it up but also when you just don’t feel like going in at all. That’s the difference between an average lifter and a top lifter.
CB: What are your future goals?
JH: Next goal I have set is I want 730 at 242.
CB: Jeremy, a lot of people criticize you for staying 242lbs and not gaining weight as they feel it might give you an edge. What are your thoughts?
JH: I get a lot of people saying “I wonder what he’d get if he gained a few lbs and went up a weight class or two”. In my opinion, all I’d get would be fat. I feel way better where I am and honestly feel that I will get 730. I’m getting close now.
CB: Do you do any type of periodization for your bench press routine? If you do, how does your training change from the start of a cycle to the finish? How long are they?
JH: Well, right now I’m done with my post show training which is a little more conditioning. I’m headed into pre-show training which is a lot more volume and weight, the reps start to diminish off. Josh Bryant writes my workouts out and have made huge gains in less than a year with him.
CB: Do you train hardcore every session? Give us more detail about how Josh is training you.
JH: Josh has me on a four day split, days off I do cardio usually while at work by pushing an ambulance across the parking lot. Three weeks are heavy, hardcore sessions, the fourth week is a deload.
CB: Sounds much like how Kennelly trained for a shirt record. Very interesting how two of the very best in different bench press venues have conjugate like periodization tactics. So far in your bench journey, what has been your favorite moment?
JH: My favorite moment was when I did the 661. I knew that I had hit just over 700 in the gym. Then injuries have always made it where I wasn’t really even close to that by the time the competitions came. However, this past show I was able to increase the record I set with 617 a few months prior to 622, then 639, and then ending at the 661. I felt pretty good about that…but I’m definitely not done with the 242 class yet.
CB: What motivates you to stick with it? Are you as motivated to stick with things other than bench pressing?
JH: Ben, I’ve always been very motivated to finish things I’ve started, almost to the point where it keeps me up at times during the night. For example, if I know I have to work on my house or truck, it will irritate me if I can’t do it and finish it right then. I’m not done with my record, I want it higher, I want the highest and will do what I need to, put in the time I need to, to finish that goal.
CB: Well, Jeremy what a bench press record breaking machine you have become! We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next. In closing who would you like to thank?
I’d like to thank a few, first my family for their support, my wife and son. They’re behind me the whole time, even when I have to leave them to go to the gym, etc. The rest of my family, my workout partners for not only giving me a good lift, but at times coming in when they’ve already lifted just to give me a lift, Josh Bryant for the training program that has me not only on track but aiming at the future, and my Sponsors MHP and Monsta Clothing.
There seems to be an accepted notion that aesthetic bodybuilding techniques can’t be integrated within the structure of an empirical powerlifting workout program. I firmly believe otherwise.
It has been my observation upon viewing the iron game there are two types of people. First there are those who are pumpers and toners and secondly there are those who concentrate on the brute power of heavy lifting alone.
That is until recently when we have a metamorphosis of a third type of hybrid person who trains to combine the best of both worlds. It involves the nice blood choked pump of the bodybuilder yet it’s got the rugged and capable power of a strength athlete. When you combine these two approaches you have what is called powerbuilding or powerbodybuilding.
Powerbodybuilding can be used by competitive bodybuilders as well. It’s great for the early cycle in which a bodybuilder is embarked on the critical muscle mass building phase. For the contest entering and winning bodybuilder it is important for him to be perceived as someone who doesn’t just have herculean size which is ALL SHOW and NO GO. There’s a stereotype out there that bodybuilders are not very strong. Using a powerbodybuilding method at the beginning of their contest cycle they’ll be able to back up the great cosmetic physique with some real world strength and power.
Likewise a strength athlete or powerlifter would like for the public to perceive them as not just someone that lifts heavy iron, but also has the rugged, solid and capable look of a finely tuned athlete.
One of the saddest things I have observed especially in the powerlifting arena is that of the lifters who weight under 242 pounds.
Many of them possess tremendous tendon and ligament strength but yet as far as overall behemoth muscular bulk they just don’t have it. And when you throw a long sleeved shirt and tie on them they pretty much blend with the masses of the general public.
Personally, that bothers me. Granted, tendon and ligament strength is important I admit to that. But I’ve observed lifters with larger physiques than mine that move much less heavy iron that I do. I feel that they’re more into a pump phase of training, which is fine, but deep down I know they desperately want to possess more superhuman strength and power. Enter POWERBODYBUILDING.
I am not the lone proponent of the POWERBODYBUILDING movement (I am only seeking to introduce a renewed interest in this powerful training component), there have been others over the span of the last 60 years. Some of the most notable luminaries of this movement that I can think of offhand includes and is not limited to: Malcom Brenner, Franco Columbu, Jeff Everson, Lou Ferrigno, John Carl Grimek, Donne Hale, Mike & Ray Mentzer, Sergio Oliva, Reg Park, Bill Pearl, Clancy ross, Bill Seno, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Sipes and Dorian Yates, just to name a few.
If I am not mistaken POWERBODYBUILDING may have achieved its zenith when one of the criteria’s for entering an AAU sanctioned physique event required athletic events such as Olympic & Powerlifting to help secure additional points in the physique contest itself. Sad to say that’s not the case today.
All of the guys I have just mentioned have been great
assets to the physique game because for them to get the size they possessed they had to do some heavy, heavy lifting and if you looked at their workout programs you could see that they combined heavy tendon and ligament building movements with the muscle sculpting movements of the cosmetic bodybuilder.
assets to the physique game because for them to get the size they possessed they had to do some heavy, heavy lifting and if you looked at their workout programs you could see that they combined heavy tendon and ligament building movements with the muscle sculpting movements of the cosmetic bodybuilder.
It was not uncommon for Franco Columbu to bench in the high 400´s or deadlift over 700 pounds for a big triple. In tests of power, moving a huge weight in a short movement, deadlifts, squats, supports were all easy for John Carl Grimek. Clancy Ross was fully capable of getting 180-pound dumbbells in position self-assisted for some heft incline work.
And who can forget Chuck Sipes who could squat 6 to 700 pounds and bench nearly 600 pounds, when nobody else near his bodyweight was even close. Plus he was an IFBB super-star bodybuilder to boot.
It’s not by accident that all of the names I have mentioned have ended up at the top in the iron game. They not only looked the part (cosmetic bodybuilder) but they all could push the heavy iron that the general public perceived of them.
Naturally the question may arise as to whether the days of just being a pumper or toner are gone? Well, in my opinion I would have to say No!
Why not? Because there is still going to be a lot of people involved in the sport of bodybuilding who don’t have any aspirations of taking their training to that 3rd or 4th level of intensity it takes to train heavy. However if they do then it’s going to be way more competitive, mark my words, and I think as you see the sport metamorphosize into the year 2025 you’ll see more powerbodybuilding taking place because you will just have an overall edge over someone that just pumps the dog crap out of the muscles while giving little or no regard to gaining super human strength.
Now some people still might not know the difference between muscle bulk training and pump training so let me elaborate.
When a bodybuilder or a powelifter bulk train they use heavy, heavy weights to tear down deep muscle tissue membranes. The muscle rebounds (recovers) and grows abundantly. This is what is called ultimate hypertrophy.
Now on the other hand if a bodybuilder or powerlifter subjects themselves to light pumping movements you’ll gorge the muscle with blood literally. I call this a suck pump. Granted this type of training will shape and bring up the muscularity of the muscle bellies but it lacks the integrity of bulk training.
If you want to retain the transitory muscle thickness that you experienced with the flush pump training then you will have to include the deep tearing down of the heavy weight training. This is one of the best ways to retain muscle thickness (density) where in the morning you wake up and you still look pretty big.
What I am trying to gear this article towards is for you bodybuilders and powerlifters who desire total development and total strength while being less concerned about specialization in one area. Your overall strength and muscular size will definitely increase using a POWERBODYBUILDING program. This is because the program is physiologically construed to provide heavy high intensity work (muscle bulk training) for size and strength and volume high rep work (flush pump training) and to add fullness and vascularity to the muscle.
It has been my aspiration for quite a while now to introduce a powerbodybuilding system of training that can be used by beginners, intermediates and advanced men. Check out the brand new resource below for more information on exactly how to structure your training with a powerbodybuilding approach.
The Secret Training Methods That Transformed A Scrawny Former Marathon Runner Into A Massive Power-Bodybuilder- Bench Pressing 515 Lbs & QUADRUPLING Overall Body Strength & Power. Click here for the story.
Coaching Call with Powerlifter Mike Westerdal,
Pro Strongman Elliott Hulse & “The Muscle Cook” Dave Ruel
In this 90-Minute Coaching Call, Mike, Elliott and Dave reveal:
- How they approach training respectively for powerlifting, strongman, and bodybuilding
- What is “Powerbuilding” and how it can help you get better results
- Their foolproof methods to be successful with your goals when you’re a beginner
- How to get rid of stubborn mid-section bodyfat and finally get a six pack
- How to work around an injury
- The best ways to live longer, stronger and healthier, and what to do to promote “anti-aging”
- The truth about the relation between muscle strength and muscle size
- What is the best: Krill Oil or Fish Oil?
- How to avoid muscle soreness
- The best type of cardio (HIIT or long moderate cardio?)
- How to approach calorie rotation in your diet
- And much more…
Elliott is a riot isn’t he? Leave your comment below!
I just put up this new PowerBuilding audio interview with Mike Schwanke. Mike is a training partner of mine at Tampa Barbell and he’s a pro division powerlifter.
You’ll like it because Mike is super lean and strong at the same time and shares his cardio/conditioning schedule.
A lot of people ask how much cardio is too much when you are trying to stay strong so this should shed some light on the topic.
By the way did I mention Mike weighs 220 lbs and has squatted 1000 lbs, benched 700 lbs and deadlifted 800 lbs in competition! So you’ll definitely want to listen to Mike’s tips.
Got something to add to the discussion? Leave your comment below on how to balance strength with low to moderate body fat levels.