Sean Nalewanyj Interviews Mike “Westy” Westerdal
1) Hey Mike, welcome to this Muscle Gain Truth Inner Circle interview. How are things?
Doing great Sean, excited to talk shop with you.
2) You’re the creator of the well known “Critical Bench” program which teaches readers how to dramatically increase their bench pressing strength in the shortest period of time possible. Why do you think it is that the bench press has become such a landmark for measuring strength?
Don’t get me started Sean. First things first. What’s the most common question people ask you when you tell them you run a muscle building site? Probably, “How Much Do Ya Bench?” Why do they ask this? It’s an extremely popular well known exercise and for a reason. People don’t realize this but it’s literally a full body exercise. When performed correctly your legs will be sore, your lats will be sore, not to mention your chest, shoulders and triceps. It’s a great mass builder and carries over to a lot of field sports as well. I’m biased I’m the founder of CriticalBench.com but if I could only train one exercise the bench press would be it. Followed a close second and third by the deadlift and squat. Multi-joint free weight compound movements are always the best muscle builders.
3) Were you always naturally strong on the bench press? What kind of weight are you capable of moving now?
As a kid I was really skinny. In fact my freshman year of high school I weighed 120 pounds and couldn’t even bench press my own weight. Even when you stick up for yourself it seems that the smallest people always seem to be the ones that get picked on the most and have to constantly defend themselves. Like so many others I got myself a cheap Weider weight bench with the plastic weights and started lifting in my basement while practicing my punches on a heavy bag. Things were progressing slowly, but I was hooked on the muscle mags and reading everything I could get my hands on.
My family moved to CT my sophomore year of high school. Not having a ton of friends I spent a lot of my time in the YMCA weight room. In fact I probably spent way too much time there. I’m sure I was overtraining doing a full body workout 5-7 days a week, but as a beginner I was still making gains. I had to gain weight so I wouldn’t get pushed around the football field as defensive back, so I kept at it. By my senior year of high school I weighed 185 pounds and benched 275. Nothing amazing, but it was a huge improvement for me.
My lifting workout had been improving the more I read, I was eating as much as I could and training a lot smarter. I still wasn’t training the right way to add serious muscle but I was doing alright. After high school I walked onto a D-IAA football team and became a starter by my junior year. The summer of my sophomore year I figured out with the help of one of the team captains that you get stronger and put on size by doing heavy compound movements for low reps. When I dropped my reps and increased the weight my bench soared from a 315 to 400+ in a matter of a year.
Post college I kept at it reaching a 450 raw bench. I decided it was time to start competing. After moving to Florida and joining a barbell club I started competing in powerlifting. I compete in equipped powerlifting using a bench shirt I pressed 622 this past December. A week after the meet I benched 315 for 15 reps in the gym. I’m always trying to improve.
315 for 15
630 Equipped Bench
4) Surely there are individual differences, but as a general guideline, how fast can a trainee expect to increase his or her bench pressing strength when using the right program?
Sean I love this question. The reason is it’s entirely up to the person that’s trying to increase their bench press. If you’re the kind of person that thinks 50 pounds in 10 weeks is impossible than you’re completely right, you’ll never accomplish it. Likewise if you believe you can do it and have a good plan there’s no limit. I can’t set limits for people. This is one of my favorite quotes;
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”
-William Arthur Ward
Based on results I’ve seen I would say if you bench press less than 400 pounds you can increase your bench press by 50 pounds in 2.5 months. After that you start reaching your genetic potential and the gains certainly start getting harder.
A complete beginner will improve the most. Just practicing the lift and learning the motor skills will allow the trainee to bench more even without getting much stronger.
In addition if you haven’t trained with heavier loads and lower reps before you’ll likely react very well to this kind of program. Your CNS has to adapt to the heavier weights for you to get stronger.
5) What are some of the most common mistakes that you see lifters making when training for strength on the bench press, and how can we correct them?
Mistake 1: Overtraining
Let your CNS and your muscles recover and strengthen before hitting the bench again. Once a week is enough when training the bench.
Mistake 2: Pre-fatigue
Don’t do shoulders or triceps before a bench workout. You’re exhausting the primary movers you are going to need to bench. Don’t do cardio before a heavy bench workout and don’t deplete all your energy by doing way too many warm up sets. Save your energy for the max effort sets!
Mistake 3: Self Doubt
Get your head on straight. Get rid of all this self doubt and negativity. Don’t start a set by saying you’re going to “Try” or you “Hope” you’re going to get this rep. Your subconscious mind listens to you so program it with positive encouraging visions rather than self destructing criticism.
If you’re not confident, fake it. You have to picture yourself as a great bencher before you can become one.
Mistake 4: Lack of Goals
Would you head out on a cross country trip without a road map? Goals need to be realistic, measurable and specific. Be accountable. Tell people what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. Remind yourself of your goals daily.
Mistake 5: Rep Ranges
High reps are not going to get you stronger in the bench press. Triples build power! If you’ve never done triples start with fives and work your way down over a few weeks.
Forced reps are okay when used in moderation. You just don’t want to have your training partner getting a trap and bicep workout in when you’re benching. It’s good to grind out the weight but when you’re stuck you’re stuck.
As for heavy negatives bench presses, I do not recommend these for beginners. They may not have the tendon strength or the stabilizers to control a weight well over their max. In addition if you’re getting sore from the regular workouts you don’t want to push it with a movement that is almost entirely eccentric which we all know causes muscle soreness.
For an intermediate or advanced lifter heavy negatives can be a huge confidence booster. Having felt and controlled such heavy weight sure makes the weight feel lighter when you go back to your working sets. There’s a lot of people from the school of thought that think eccentric training is good for strength and muscle, so I think it’s a good tool to utilize sparingly from time to time. See how you respond to it but make sure you have three spotters in place.
7) What about those delicate rotator cuffs that are so prone to injury. How can we prevent injuries when trying to move such heavy weights?
When you bench press there are four tiny muscles that play a major role in whether your bench press takes off or if you’re going to suffer from a bench press blowout. Build these muscles up and you can dramatically decrease the chance of blowing out your shoulder. If you’re benching heavy weight and not paying attention to these muscles you run the risk of muscular imbalances, shoulder pain, and getting stuck in a serious plateau.
To avoid rotator cuff issues I recommend warming them up prior to a bench press workout by doing some very very very light external rotation exercises. You definitely do not want to fatigue these muscles prior to benching. Than on a different day at the end of your shoulder workout do 3 or 4 sets of 15 reps with a similar exercise. Some rotator cuff exercises you can incorporate include the Cuban press, and Cable Internal and External Rotation.
8 ) Can these same techniques be used as part of a bodybuilding program for the chest, or are they strictly geared at building strength?
Sean we may disagree here but I believe that when you lift heavy with compound movements you involve the most muscle groups, release more testosterone and growth hormone and produce bigger and stronger muscles. If you strongly believe that you need to 10 reps for muscular hypertrophy than do the heavy bench press workout first than move on to some assistance exercises using higher reps. This way you get the best of both worlds. Do you want to look strong? Or do you want to be strong? Or would you rather look and be strong? I’ll take the third.
9) Do you have any other additional advice for increasing bench pressing strength fast?
You can probably utilize these two tips immediately to see some gains.
Big Bench Tip #1: Shorten the distance the bar travels. Move your fingers out an inch or two on the bar. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and flare your lats to create a nice solid base to press from. Chest out, shoulders back. Now arch your back so that your traps and butt are in contact with the bench and your feet are planted on the floor. You should be able to fit a foam roller under your lower back. Combine these three techniques and you’ve reduced the path the bar travels by 6-inches or more which should give you a nice boost in the weight you can move. This is not cheating; it’s legal in a powerlifting meet. Stay tight!
Big Bench Tip #2: Hold your air. Instead of taking a big breathe as you lower the weight and exhale as you push I want you to hold your breathe from start to finish. Why? By doing this you will stabilize your torso and create a more solid base to press from. Holding your air will help you keep the pressure tight.
Thanks for the interview, Mike!
Anytime Sean, thanks again for having me. Anytime you want to talk about the bench press I’m you’re man.
If you’re looking to build muscle and increase your bench press at the same time than be sure to look into my Critical Bench Press Program 2.0. It’s a full body strength training program designed to up your max by 50 lbs in 10 weeks.
Nick Nilsson of FitStep.com recently interviewed me about my Lean Hybrid Muscle RELOADED program and I wanted to share my answers with your below.
Nick: Do I need to have specialized equipment to do this program?
Westy: You don’t need any special equipment. Just barbell, dumbbells, bands and bodyweight. There is a specialization day where you can use some machines if you’d like.
Nick: Will I have a hard time doing this in a busy gym?
Westy: I think most programs would be hard to in a really busy gym. There’s nothing too crazy though. For the circuits you just need to grab a dumbbell or barbell and find a corner. You’ll need access to a treadmill in the winter to do some sprints. Other than that as long as you can superset between biceps and triceps once in a while a busier gym shouldn’t be a problem.
Nick: Will this program work for women as well?
Westy: A common myth is that men and women need to train differently. I am no scientist but I can tell you from experience that women do very well training with Hybrid Muscle Variables. In fact, the results that women get at my gym are often better than the men.
This is simply because this is the first time they have been exposed to strength training. So, all types of cool things start happening like their posture improves and this means that the boobs stand up a little higher.
Since we include so many squats in the programs there is a significant tightening and firming up of the glutes. We may design a program specifically for women in the future but the foundation will still be exactly the same.
Nick: I’m 60+ years old. Is this program safe for me?
Westy: It’s the best thing you can do to feel young and vibrant. We have at least five guys that train at Elliott’ gym Strength Camp doing the exact same program with us. If you need to make any modifications for health reasons feel free, but you’ll find yourself feeling better, moving more freely and feeling younger.
Nick: Will this program improve my athletic performance while it burns fat and build muscle?
Westy: That’s exactly what it’s for. Will it improve your fast ball for baseball? Probably not. However it will make you a better overall athlete. If your sport doesn’t have very specific skill sets LHM Reloaded would be a good choice for overall athletic enhancement. There’s power training, strength training, explosiveness training, hypertrophy training as well some speed training. Oh and there’s conditioning and hybrid cardio which carry over to field better in most contact sports such as MMA, football, wrestling and rugby.
Nick: Does this program tell me exactly what to eat? Do I need to eat weird foods?
Westy: As long as you don’t mind eating raw herring and anchovies 7 times a day you’re golden. Just kidding, there’s a lot of variety and there are exchang lists to swap out anything you don’t like. I really can’t think of anything too strange on the meal plans.
Nick: Do I need to take a bunch of fancy supplements to make this work?
You’re probably waiting to hear us say there’s a super duper top secret supplement stack in the program that is going to make your lean and ripped. Well if that’s what you wanted to hear, sorry to disappoint you.
Look at our ancestors and, in particular, the warrior cultures like the Spartans, the Roman Gladiators, or the Vikings. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors did not take supplements yet they built powerful, muscular physiques. How did they do it? First, their daily lives centered on intense physical activities—what we would today refer to as hybrid muscle training. And second, they ate natural, whole foods that provided all the nutrition they needed. Honestly, that is really the best way to give your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs. For the modern guy though, that can be easier said than done.
That’s where supplements do come into the picture but not until you’ve got a solid foundation built or underway!
The word supplement means “to add to”. Once you’re 90% of the way to your goal, supplements can help give you an edge, but by themselves they’re not going to help you much without everything else being in place. Yes we give a few basic recommendations but supplements are not mandatory.
Nick: How much time do the workouts take and how many days a week do I train?
Westy: Workouts take about an hour total sometimes much less which includes your cadio. It varies based on the week. Anywhere from 3-5 days per week.
Nick: Can I make this program work if I can only train 2 or 3 days a week?
Westy: Well all get busy so if you’re traveling a lot or just got a lot going on you can do the Maintenance phase during those times. 3-days should really be your minimum. I supposed you could still do the program, you’d just want to randomly pick two full body workouts per week to do.
Nick: How soon will I start seeing results?
Westy: Seeing or feeling? You’ll be really sore the first couple weeks. You probably haven’t trained this way before. You can usually notice something within 2-weeks. When you put yourself through tough workouts like this ‘something” is going to happen I can promise you that.
Nick: Are the exercises hard to learn?
Westy: Like anything a new exercise will take practice. But if you can pick up Nick’s new invention exercises these shouldn’t be a problem for you. Besides there are videos demonstrating everything you are asked to do. If you’d like to learn more about the new Lean Hybrid Muscle RELOADED just click here.
I have teamed up with my good friend Lee Hayward to celebrate the fact that we have both been in business now for 10 YEARS helping guys pack on muscle mass and strength time and time again.
Truth be told, I like Lee because he walks the walk. He doesn’t just preach, he takes his own advice, he competes in bodybuilding and has built a solid reputation as a strength coach and business man.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to take advice from a fat personal trainer or a skinny muscle building expert.
I also don’t want to be all show with NO GO! When it comes to building muscle take my word for it, you have to get stronger. If you build strength and get stronger and stronger every week you’ll muscles will grow, it’s just the way it works. Plus you don’t want to be that guy that looks great, but gets thrown around and out performed in the gym do you?
Lee and I are big believers in Power-Building. Finding the balance of looking like a bodybuilder but attaining the strength of a powerlifter to match.
And that’s why we have joined forces to create the Ultimate Mass and Power Building System!
Not only do you get my New and Improved Critical Bench Program 2.0 you also get Lee’s Blast Your Bench Program Ten Year Anniversary Edition.
What’s the catch?
We’re cool guys and all, but this is our way of saying thanks for your support over the yeas and this offer is only good till Friday at midnight, June 18th, 2010.
This is the biggest sale I’ve ever run in the history of the site, so you might want to go check it out here:
Over The Weekend Lee & I ran a blog contest to give away five copies of our Mass and Power System. Thank you so much to everyone that entered, we got over 400 entries last time I checked.
Here are the winning entries!
1) Justin Realizes There’s No Magic Bullet!
June 13, 2010
I will be a high school senior in the fall, and my ultimate goa
l is to win the 2011 state weightlifting championship of Florida.
This year, I have qualified for the 2010 championship, and
once I received the news, I googled the fastest way to obtain a
bigger bench press.
Fortunately, the first link that popped up was that letter that
Mike Westerdal shares with the public, advertising the Critical
Bench Program. Once I saw it was for a ten week period, I
decided to start the program the week following the state finals.
I searched for other solutions, only to realize that time was a
critical component in building a bigger bench. During the
4-5 weeks I had left to prepare, I did what I could, following the
tips and guidelines outlined in the 50 tips to gaining a bigger
Even though I worked hard, ate right, and followed these
guidelines, I came in last place. Weightlifting is my life, and
I have a dedication and passion for this sport.
Wanna know why I fell short, it is because I had been committed
to a muscle building magazine, and fell victim to its false
information and biased principles and concepts. I have wasted
my time training by their false guidlines for 3 years, and went
NOWHERE. I am still hitting my head with a barbell to this day.
I began the critical bench program the Wednesday after states,
preparing for the next state final matchup. I am just completing
week 7, and I have actually gained strength with this program.
I have never seen any fast paced progress such as this. I bench
pressed 315 at states, and benching 350 pounds now! That is
unbelievable, and it is because I have found a source of reliable
information pertaining to this sport. The Critical Bench Program
shares the unvarnished truth with the public.
I am continually searching for other important information and tips
out there on the web that will help me in my goal and mission.
I am considering becoming a personal trainer, as that will expose
me to alot of information of the sport I love. I have a low income,
minimum wage job, and can barely keep up with my diet and
supps as it is.
If I am one of the chosen 5 to receive the Critical Bench 2.0 for
free, great. If not, I will buy it ASAP. I will continue to work hard,
push myself to failure on every set, and continue to educate myself
with this sport that my passion lies in. If I continue to work hard,
and follow what I’ve learned, I am sure that 365 days is enough
time to win the state finals of my senior year! Thank you for the
information that you have shared with me so far.
2) Cancer Survivor Trains For National Record!
June 13, 2010
Lee & Mike,
Building a big, strong, muscular body is so important to me and
I NEED a ‘Proven Mass and Power Building Training System’ to
help me achieve my fitness goals Right Now!
I’m a 59-year young cancer survivor. Two years ago I was diagnosed
with throat cancer. After the first surgery I was told I could not lift
heavy weights anymore because the nerve was removed that controlled
my left TRAP. It was removed because it ran through one of the lymph
nods that had cancer. Therefore no left TRAP.
After Chemo and Radiation and losing 30 LBS, I found myself back
at the gym trying to prove everybody wrong. I gained body weight,
but not the strength I wanted.
I found ‘Blast Your Bench”!
Using this program I increase my bench by 30 lbs while losing 11 lbs.
body weight. I went from 21% body fat down to 13.5%
This May I tied the NJ State record for Bench Press for my age
and weight with the WNPF.
I’m using the “Blast Your Bench” program now for my next meet
on June 27, which I hope to set the NJ record for bench press for my
age and weight. If I’m successful I will go the world meet in Nov
in Atlantic City, NJ.
I need this program to get to the next level. I would like to set the
national record for bench press for my age and weight.
Credit given where Credit is Due!!!
Thanks for all your emails and videos!
3) Beginner Gains 100 Pounds On Bench And Loses Fat!
June 11, 2010
I’m 43 years old and I started “serious” weight lifting just this past
July 2009. In the past I have been lifting weights just for the heck of
it, no serious goals and my objectives were pretty superficial.
I would make a go at it then stop totally all together. This was in my
younger years. Now that I’ve gotten older and wiser, the “need” to
become more healthy was becoming apparent. Before I embarked on a
serious determination to be physically fit, I did a lot a research and the
idea of weight lifting always hovered my mind. In one of these researches,
I came across LeeHayward.com and found insights that were pretty down
to earth, real world scenarios where a common individual like me could
actually follow your advice.
I started lifting weights and at my age, I have made great progress
that has made me appreciate my body and have a positive outlook
on a healthy life. Ever since becoming a “follower” of your site, I have
learned valuable tips and advises that I have incorporated in my
workouts. From a starting bench press of just lifting the bar for
about a month, I have progressed to a lifting weight right now of about
140lbs and I can 1-rep max 150lbs. Not much for a beginner like me
who’s only been lifting for a year but I am very proud of the achievements
I have made over the past year. Its been over a year and I have not
looked back. And the benefits I am reaping right now from a slow
struggle to a maintained attitude has boosted my self confidence in
terms of how I look and how I feel. I have gotten stronger, my body
has taken shape and form that I have not imagined of ever having.
Although I am far from having a ripped form like you do Lee, I know
with a lot of hard work and enthusiasm, I would get to where I would
like to be. In one year of lifting weights, I have lost weight (around 25lbs)
and I have gained some form in my chest, biceps, triceps and shoulders.
People at work noticed this physiological change, my family noticed
the change. And every time I hear them say something is music to my ears.
Although competing is the farthest thing from my mind, my first and
foremost objective in building a strong, muscular body is to be healthy.
And then all other things follow. Thanks so much for your tips and
advises. It has made me appreciate my body more than I can ever
imagine. Weight lifting has provided me with a drive to strive for
more. Thank you so much.
4) Never Give Up On Your Dreams!
June 11, 2010
I have one reason to build a healthy, strong body. To live longer.
I was injured in Iraq in 2006 in an IED explosion. I lost my left leg
above the knee and suffered serious burns. Those injuries alone
have taken years off my life that Im fighting everyday to keep.
I’ve been going to the gym regularly now for sometime but its
starting to reach that plateau. I’ve been a subscriber of yours now
for quite awhile and have had some success following your tips.
But now is the time to take it to the next step and reach that hard,
strong body that I want. I may even be able to take this to the next
limit and start training for paralympic type sports.
My main goal in all of this is just to be as healthy as I can be for
as long as possible. Im only 24 and I refuse to let my injuries
stop me from starting a family and living a long fruitful life.
This tool well help me jumpstart and take my fitness to the
next level. Thanks for the opportunity.
5) Something In Bill’s Mind Snapped!
June 12, 2010
I’m 45, retired military, retirement lead me down the wrong path, i
became…. well a couch potato. Upon my divorce, i looked in the
mirror and saw what i had become, something in my mind snapped,
i decided to do what i had always wanted to do, build a physique that
could compete, show the world my what I’m made of, but recently
three things have occurred my oldest son has a child and now my
youngest is going to be a father, and i have a new wife.
Fat out of shape people don’t live long, and even if they do their in
no shape to enjoy life or grandchildren. I’ve turned my life around,
i watch what i eat, i train, slowly but surely things are changing,
and i realize that it will take time and effort, both of which i have.
But i want things to go beyond mere change, i want to make an
impact, and i can only properly do that with the right tools.
I’ve watched and read allot of Lee’s posts, watched him online,
gleaned all i could from his website and that has caused a steady
upswing in the re-composition of my body. I feel that with Lee’s
program i can attain what i desire. Lee stands out among his peers
and i know he has the knowledge i need to succeed. I want to
show people that there is no age limit to good health and proper physique.
Whelp I benched at the APF Fl State Met in Orlando Saturday Feb. 27th, 2010.
I cut weight to weigh in at 241 pounds.
The day of the meet I was back up to around 248 pounds.
My opener was 600 pounds and felt pretty good.
2nd attempt was 630 pounds. I got it! This was an 8 lb PR for me. The lockout was a struggle as you can see from the video below.
My 3rd attempt I missed 650. Just couldn’t lock it out.
It was fun hanging out with lots of good people as well as support the rest of the Tampa Barbell team. CriticalBench.com sponsored lifters Clint Smith and Brian Carroll had tremendous days putting on a clinic!
I felt my strongest during my training cycle when I got up to 255 pounds. Lockout was the problem for me this cycle. I’ll make some adjustments and come back stronger next time.
It was a little frustrating to go an entire year and only come out with an 8 pound personal record, but like they always say, a PR is a PR is a PR.
Want to give a special thanks to Rhino for all his help during practice. Great hand offs from Trent Nelson. I enjoyed training with Richard McKeefer and Decatur, those dudes are really strong and pushed me past my comfort level which is where I need to be. And of course to Tommy Fannon for providing the gym and coaching.
If you’re wondering why I just benched like a little bitch, it’s because I tweaked my lower back a month before the meet. I don’t have it figured out exactly why, but I do throw out my back from time to time. I always have.
Oh I almost forgot, the Tuesday after the meet I did a 405 raw rep test. I hit 5 reps which was a PR for me by 3 reps. This video kinda sucks, I forgot my flipcam and had to use my phone to record it.
What’s next? Well I’m out of gear for a little bit to get some of my conditioning back, drop some unneeded pounds and get my lower back rehabbed and stronger.
I’m looking into the Bullet Proof Back program right now and plan on incorporating a lot of the helpful stretches, exercises, and tips recommend by Eric Wong. Eric’s an MMA fighter and has made a full recovery from a major back surgery he had. I love hearing success stories like that.
If you have back pain you’re trying to get rid of you might want to check this out as well. Click Here to Go to the BulletProof Back site.
Nick Nilsson Interviews Mike Westerdal About Lean Hybrid Muscle Building
NN: Hey Mike, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I heard your boss over at Critical Bench sent you on an extended vacation for stirring up all this controversy lately.
MW: Ya my boss is a real jerk. No, I’m just kidding, I’m my own boss. Most people don’t even know that’s my site. I’m kind of coming out from behind the curtain so to speak to share some workouts I’ve been experimenting with lately.
NN: What exactly do you mean by Hybrid?
MW: It’s pretty cool because it has a double meaning in this case. The general definition of “hybrid” is combining two or more different things. In this case we want to take the best of several training philosophies in order to accomplish multiple goals at one time.
We also have what’s been called the “Hybrid Muscle” which is really what Lean Hybrid Muscle Building is all about.
NN: Okay Mike I’ll take the bait, what the heck is a “Hybrid Muscle”?
MW: When talking about “super hybrid muscle,” we’re referring to a muscle that has essentially been reconfigured, adding mitochondrial density, which results in a bigger stronger muscle with more endurance capacity. This is accomplished by combining cardio and strength training into a single activity.
I learned a lot about hybrid super muscle through the book The Purposeful Primitive, written by Marty Gallagher. It’s one of my all time favorite books.
By combining cardio and resistance activities it causes the composition of muscles to transform from predominately type II or type IIb into Type III. By doing this, we are able to push “beyond our genetic limits”.
Having more mitochondria in the muscle cells means that more nutrients can be processed, giving the muscles the ability to work considerably harder for longer periods. They’re also able to grow larger and are able to resist getting tired for longer periods.
NN: Type III muscle? Did you make that up or are you claiming to have invented a new muscle fiber?
MW: I wish I could take credit for that, but no. After reading Marty’s book I started my research and learned that a lot of guys have been preaching this stuff for a while. It’s nothing new. It’s just something a lot of people haven’t heard about.
Early adaptors of this theory included Dr. Len Schwartz who in 1995 coined the phrase “Long Strength”. Dr. Schwartz describes Long strength as “the ability to exert significant strength for an extended period of time.”
John Parrillo-the second proponent of long strength-began having his bodybuilders doing really high intensity cardio. He claimed that doing this actually altered the muscle composition. He called this form a resistance training the “100 rep extended set,” saying that it helped the body to construct more mitochondria-the muscles’ “cellular blast furnaces.” He also says that this increases muscular growth by developing the circulatory pathways that provide nourishment to the muscles.
Ori Hofmekler is the third early adopter of the long strength concept. Ori developed a weight training system that he called, “Controlled Fatigue Training.” According to Ori, this type of training was specifically designed to develop these super hybrid muscles-ones that were capable of generating and sustaining strength for extended periods.
NN: How would one go about building this super hybrid muscle fiber?
MW: For starters, you can look to the ancient warrior cultures-the Spartans, the Vikings and the Gladiators-and learn from them. Remember that all of the training they did was in preparation for the battles ahead. In other words, they were training for functionality rather than aesthetics, meaning that their training routines would have incorporated activities that simultaneously developed both strength and endurance.
Today, to build Hybrid Super Muscle we can start by engaging in aerobic activities that have a strong element of resistance.
NN: That reminds me, you wrote a report called, The Warrior Physique. What’s that about and where can the readers grab a copy?
MW: That was a fun one to write. Having a Swedish background I’ve always been interested in the Viking culture.
It’s no secret that our ancestors were physically, in much better shape than overall, we are today. For ordinary people, their day-to-day lives were much more physically demanding than ours. Back in the day if you wanted to eat you had to go hunting or catch some fish. Everything was functional. In today’s world most of us are subject to the triple seated threat as I like to call it-sitting at our computers, sitting in the car or sitting on the couch.
In this report we’ll explore how some of this planet’s all-time greatest elite warriors of the past developed some legendary physiques.
NN: So, does this all mean you have a problem with cardio machines?
MW: Not really. If you want to add some resistance to your cardio machines just put the treadmill on an incline. There are numerous ways to make cardio machines “hybrid”.
There’s nothing wrong with regular cardio on exercise equipment. I just think training the hybrid way can be a big time saver. I mean who has time to do a 45-minute workout with the weights just to go pedal on the bike for an additional 45 minutes.
I live in Florida so I’m fortunate that I can go for a walk outdoors any time I want. Sunlight and fresh air can do some wonders for your hormone levels.
Cardio machines have their place. Hybrid cardio just provides a faster more entertaining alternative for some people.
NN: How did you wind up partnering up with Pro Strongman Elliott Hulse in creating this system?
Elliott’s an awesome guy. We’ve become really good friends. I like that we have similar values and he’s someone I can count on.
A while ago I tweaked my back doing some powerlifting and I knew Elliott owned a sports training gym in St. Pete, FL. I paid him a visit and he helped me rehab my back.
We just had a lot in common. We actually played football against each other in college without knowing it and we both compete in strength sports.
The thing we really had in common is that w had both put on some un-needed body fat during our quest for strength. (Okay a lot.)
We both wanted to lose fat extremely fast, but didn’t want to sacrifice one ounce of muscle or strength. We knew this was going to be a challenge and something that most people would say is impossible.
Elliott is a beast. I think it’s good that I’m there to tone him down sometimes. He’s the outspoken motivational coach and I’m more laid back and shy at times.
NN: I’ve seen videos from Elliott’s underground gym. If someone is going to do the Lean Hybrid Muscle program, do they need all that fancy strongman equipment?
MW: Nope. That’s a common misconception. We’re fortunate to have access to a lot of cool training tools but I don’t expect someone living in a NYC apartment to store a 600 pound tire…lol.
If the weekly workout includes any specialty equipment there are always exercises that you can substitute or swap out.
NN: What about a gym membership…is this a gym workout or a home workout?
MW: It can be either. There’s a big trend, where people are trying to save time and money by working out at home. Some people simply prefer training outdoors.
Personally I do some workouts at home and some at the gym. You can do this program at the gym, at home or a combination of the two.
NN: Mike, your results were pretty amazing. Do you guarantee this is going to work for everyone that tries it? In 8-weeks you dropped 12% body fat and stayed the same weight. The pics look like night and day. And dude, what’s up with the swimmers cap and speedo, we didn’t need to see that!
MW: Haha. First of all, that thing in the background is a Bod Pod and it took my bodyfat measurement. They made me wear the hat and the speedos….trust me I’m not a fan of that picture either and it definitely motivated me to make a change!
Do I guarantee results? No, I don’t. I have no control over whether or not you’ll do the workouts. Whether or not you’ll get the sleep you need and supply your body with the fuel it needs to transform.
Plus everyone is different. I’m not going to say this is the only way to train. I just know that it worked wonders for me. It worked for Elliott. And it worked for dozens of his clients at his gym. Will it work for you? Probably. If you get even half the results, would you be happy?
NN: How is Lean Hybrid Muscle Training different than Cross Fit, some of the videos look similar?
MW: Cross Fit is a great training style. I respect the discipline and think they have some great workouts. From what I’ve read about Cross Fit it focuses on stamina, flexibility, speed, agility, balance, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, coordination, and accuracy.
The rest intervals are very short and the workouts are fast and often. What I like about Cross Fit is that it incorporates resistance cardio which I’m all for.
However I had a goal of not just dropping weight and fat, but also wanted to build muscle mass and build my strength.
Sure, Lean Hybrid Muscle Building and Cross Fit may use some of the same exercises but they are done with different rest periods, volume and intensity. Just like a bodybuilder and a powerlifter may both perform the bench press, but how they perform that lift is very different from each other.
Lean Hybrid Muscle Building is cross-disciplinary like Cross Fit but it has a much greater emphasis on gaining strength and muscle mass than Cross Fit does.
In summary Cross Fit is an excellent training program that can produce great results, but I think it’s better suited for goals of conditioning, toning or developing agility, speed and endurance. If that’s your goal, go with Cross Fit.
On the other hand, if you want to get lean while building strong powerful muscles than Lean Hybrid Muscle Building is a clear winner in my book.
NN: If you had access to any equipment, what would your 3 favorite hybrid exercises be?
1. Well I love kettlebell circuits.
Similar to EDT by Charles Staley I try to make it through this circuit five times. Next time I do the workout, I want to beat my previous time. This is great for conditioning. For this is resistance cardio at its finest. It’s a nice break from my heavier strength building days to avoid overtraining.
KB Snatches: 5 reps per arm
KB Clean & Press: 5 reps per arm
KB Lunges: 5 reps per leg
KB Squats: 10 reps
KB One Armed Rows: 10 reps per arm
KB Two Handed Swings: 20 reps
Remember you have to make it through this 5x’s so don’t start off with a really heavy kettlebell.
2. Tire Flips
If there ever was an exercise that trains the entire body, from your ass to your elbow, it’s tire flipping. Getting your hands on one is easier than you think. Tire companies have to pay to get rid of them so they’ll be glad to give them to you. Storing them is another issue though.
3. Sledge Hammer Slams
Nick I know you’re into using heavier weight when you train your abs. Well this is a killer. This exercise helps build explosive torso strength and power. To do this exercise you’ll need a sledgehammer and a large tire (not on the rim), bales of hay or something similar to hit. Don’t use something with enough bounce to cause the sledgehammer to come back up and hit you in the face. Work your abs and get a cardio session in at the same time.
NN: What about Hybrid exercises for the gym?
1. Do the same kettlebell circuit above but use dumbbells instead.
2. Dumbbell Farmers Walk. No rocket science here. Just pick up a heavy pair of dumbbells and go! Great for the traps, grip, stability and core.
3. Dumbbell Overhead Walks. Grab a pair of dumbbells, hold them over your head with your arms almost locked out and start walking. Think this isn’t challenging enough? Try doing lunges holding the dumbbells over your head.
The cool thing about these exercise is they can be used either as hybrid cardio at the end of a regular workout instead of the treadmill, or they can be the workout if you increase the weight and adjust the rep ranges and rest intervals. The possibilities are endless.
NN: Did your wife really call you fat?
MW: Not really, kind of. I started getting some looks when I would head to the fridge late at night. It didn’t take a genius to get the point. Especially since I had placed my Bod Pod pic on the door to the freezer.
NN: Okay I have to ask this. People have been emailing me saying it’s impossible to burn fat and build muscle at the same time. It all comes down to calories in versus calories out. You’re either gaining or losing but you can’t do both. Care to elaborate?
MW: Ummm I’d like to buy a lifeline. Call a friend? Seriously though that’s exactly what I did. I called my friend Eric Talmant who’s a diagnostic nutritionist, metabolic typing advisor and powerlifter.
I knew I had personally experienced adding muscle while dropping fat when I was playing football in college. I couldn’t really explain how, but I thought Eric might be able to answer the question for me.
I asked him, “Is it physically possible to build muscle and burn fat at the same time?” I was pumped when he explained in his interview that it was.
He said that you can keep your body in an anabolic state by creating the perfect internal and external environment through attitude, atmosphere, training, sleep, stress levels, and nutrition. Calories are just one piece of the puzzle and not the entire picture.
NN: How come you don’t just do a bulking season where you pack on muscle and than do a typical cutting cycle to burn off the fat and reveal the new muscle?
MW: Instant gratification maybe. I wanted everything at once. I wanted to recreate what I was able to do in college. I’ve tried bulking and cutting. I wound up getting strong and fat when bulking up only to get lean and weak when dieting.
NN: Okay Mike, this worked for you, but what if you’re just a freak. I mean who benches 315 for 15 reps and still tries to burn fat at the same time? Do you have any other “average Joe” success stories?
MW: I’ll take that as a compliment. I’m not a freak, I’m just extremely stubborn, persistent and determined. Things don’t come easy for me, but when I make up my mind that I want to accomplish something I can usually do it.
I’m also pretty open minded and don’t accept that something isn’t possible just because someone said so.
As for some other clients maybe the video below will motivate some people.
Like many of you I played sports in high school. I walked on the football team in college and played four years of football. Keeping my body lean and strong during that period of my life wasn’t a problem. After all we had practice, mandatory weight lifting sessions, morning running and a very positive environment for keeping the body in an overall anabolic state.
As the post-college years kept passing by, I found myself being less and less active. Don’t get me wrong I found a new passion and started testing my merit in amateur powerlifting over the past few years and it has kept me really motivated and I do love the competition. But……something is missing. I’ve gotten a lot stronger but I also gained over 25 lbs! It’s kind of embarrassing actually. Here I am preaching on the Internet and trying to help others stay fit and I go right ahead and pack on some un-needed pounds.
What does all this have to do with the Warrior Physique Mike? I’m glad you asked, let me explain. I have lot of relatives that live in Sweden and I’ve always been interested in Viking History. As I was reading a book of mine called, “The Long Ships” I realized the Vikings didn’t have to workout in gyms, their lives and their battles were workouts enough. Fortunately I don’t have to engage in battle which is good considering I get winded from playing a pickup game of basketball! It was starting to get obvious that I’d probably make a lousy Viking and was nowhere close to the top shape I was in during college.
Several months ago I hooked up with my now good friend Elliottt Hulse who is the owner of a warehouse gym in my area called Strength Camp. Elliott is pro strongman and I started watching some of the workouts he was putting his clients through. This wasn’t like anything I had really seen before. They weren’t using your typical gym equipment. They were carrying odd objects, loading sandbags, dragging sleds and doing all kinds of exercises that looked like half resistance training and half cardio training.
I told Elliott I wanted to try some of the “Warrior Training” methods. He grinned and wanted to know what I meant by that and I told him, that the guys from his camp train like guys from my Viking book. It’s no surprise Elliott and I hit it off right away and started doing some workouts together.
We’d combine my strength building exercises with his max effort resistance cardio techniques to come up with some pretty sick training sessions. The fat has been melting off and I’m still getting stronger so I think it’s safe to say we’re on the brink of discovering something pretty special.
Check out my results so far in only the first 8-weeks!
Ya I know I look like an idiot in the pic to the left. They made me put that outfit on when I got my bodyfat tested in the Bod Pod. The results came in at a shocking 27%! Ouch. That pic coupled with that stat really put a fire under me to get crankin.
If you think this is as remotely cool as I do than go check out this free video series we put together called, “The Art Of Rapid Transformation“. We’ve already released video 1 and 2. Video 3 is coming out tomorrow. You can see them all together on the page. There are over 1000 comments. Mostly good, a few bad apples, so head over and join the battle!
You should check this out. I think you’ll really like it.
This podcast was with Mr. Jeff “The Muscle Nerd” Anderson who was kind of enough to spend some time with us to talk about his new program called Project X Hardgainer.
In this podcast, Jeff and Al Mokbel of CriticalBench.com discussed a lot about why Ectomorphs have so much difficulty increase their lean muscle mass.
To quickly summarize the 30-minute interview, we discussed:
The common reason and mentality behind gaining muscle.
Why the old standard of “eat more and workout harder” doesn’t work.
What are the different body types and how much different they are from each other.
How Ecotmorphs have a genetic disadvantage in terms of gaining lean muscle.
The 7 different reasons why Ectomorphs can’t gain lean muscle.
How come Ectomorphs should eat more carbs in order to gain weight instead of a protein-based diet.
How and why isolation exercises will benefit Ecotmorphs in bulking up.
Why the current mainstream of compound muscle training is not ideal for Ectomorphs.
This interview is jam-packed with information and is bound to make you progress to new heights in your goal in gain lean muscle.
To learn more about Jeff’s Project X Hardgainer program, please visit: http://www.projectxhardgainer.com