December 11, 2013 by Mike Westerdal
Filed under Articles, Bodybuilding and Muscle Building, Fitness Experts, Health and Fitness, Interviews, Muscle Building, Nutrition, Recent Posts, Training, Workout Motivation
AA = Anthony Alayon; SH = Scott Herman
AA: What’s going on, Team Critical Bench Nation? It’s Coach Anthony here and today I have a very, very special guest with us and for those of you that don’t know, Scott is a YouTube sensation, has almost a half-a-million subscribers. He also has close to 200,000 Facebook fans and lo and behold, he has a membership site, which you’re going to find out all about. I was poking around with it last night and this thing is like a hybrid of Facebook, Twitter, BodySpace, all combined. It’s really unique and it makes fitness fun.
So without further ado, I’m going to go ahead and introduce Scott. How you doing?
SH: Hey, what’s going on, man?
AA: What’s going on? This is Scott Herman, ladies and gentlemen. And like I said, he is a YouTube sensation. We’re going to talk all about it. So let’s get started.
So, Scott, can you first tell us about how you got started in the industry, in the fitness? What—was it your passion? What drew you to where you’re at today?
SH: Well, when I was a kid, I was always into lifting. I kind of found my dad’s old weight set in the basement. And then I was on the wrestling team throughout my youth years, I guess I could say. And one of my friends had worked at a gym, a local Gold’s Gym and he’s like, hey, I know you like to lift at home, do you want to try coming to the gym with me and working there for a free membership? And I was like, sweet.
So I was like 14 years old, I started working at the gym, just cleaning stuff on the weekends. And lo and behold, a year later I was working full time, pretty much running the front desk and doing the floor and it just kind of spiraled from there. Just started off as a cleaning monkey and just worked my way forward and I just fell in love with the gym.
I loved the members that were there, I loved that I had something that I could work on at my own pace and something I could always improve on and keep pushing to try and get stronger and stronger. At the time, I was really into Dragonball Z, so I was like, I want to be like these guys, so just being the gym and lifting made that kind of possible.
AA: Cool, man. You actually got started just from the ground roots, basement to the gym and now it’s led you to a nice career in the fitness industry. That’s interesting. What would you say would be your biggest challenge when starting out, especially on YouTube? What obstacles did you face?
SH: I think for me, I kind of didn’t have any idea that you could do this kind of stuff on YouTube. When I started my YouTube channel, I was living in New York City. I had just got done filming the Real World Brooklyn and I was living in the city. I had been always in my own gym. I worked for the same guy for like eight years and I was the general manager of one of his gyms before I left to go to New York.
One day I was just kind of sitting in my apartment and I was like, something’s missing in my life. I feel weird not doing anything like completely fitness related. And so I couldn’t go home to my gym because I was in New York. So I figured, hey, maybe I’ll start doing some YouTube videos in my apartment and just kind of teach people how to exercise or give tips and anything like that. That’s basically kind of how it started.
And then the biggest obstacle for me became, I didn’t have a place to film inside of a gym. The gym I was going to, it was a Crunch gym in New York. They were kind of weird about me filming things in there. Which it’s funny now because it seems like almost gyms don’t even care. But for me, they wouldn’t let me film, they wouldn’t let me do anything. And so eventually that’s why I moved back home and that way I could at least film videos in my buddy’s gym and get this channel off the ground.
I would say the biggest obstacle for anyone getting started is just getting the fan base going and getting people to subscribe and see who you are. And my biggest tip I can give you for that is just be true to yourself and don’t fall into the gimmicks. A lot of people online now, they do these gimmicky things and you’ve got to remember, you’re putting yourself out there.
You want people to respect you and see you as a fitness professional. You want people to still want to watch your videos a few years from now. You don’t want to become a fitness fad; you want to become a fitness guru or a fitness professional. And that’s key to being successful. The key to being successful at any business is to make sure that you can be sustainable.
AA: Right, absolutely. Those are some good tips. I think that’s what holds a lot of people back, especially the Critical Bench audience. There’s a lot of people that want to start things, it’s just overcoming those hurdles. So it’s good to hear that you’ve had some hurdles, you are human and that you were able to overcome them.
SH: Yeah. I mean, I’ve been doing it since 2009. It just takes time. And you might not grow the fastest right off the bat, but opportunities come in through the door. As long as you just work hard, it will be there.
AA: Yeah, perfect. Now, what would be the number one exercise tip you would give to our fans who are trying to lose fat and gain muscle?
SH: The number one exercise tip if you’re trying to lose fat would be to circuit train. A lot of people ask me questions about their routine and their diet and they’re trying to lose weight. I always say, hey, so what are you doing for your workout routine?
And nine times out of 10, they’re doing like a muscle-gain split and they’re not burning any calories, not doing any cardio because they’re under the impression that if they do cardio they’re going to lose the muscle they have while trying to lose the fat.
It’s just misinformation that’s out there, and that’s fine. That’s why I built SHF, to try to help guide this misinformation to get people on track. And so if you’re trying to lose weight, you need to eat right, high protein, low carb, easiest thing to do, and you need to circuit train and do cardio. And circuit training is just going from exercise to exercise and doing basically a total-body workout.
A lot of people like to call circuit training Crossfit now. And they think that Crossfit invented circuit training, which isn’t the case, which is kind of annoying. Maybe it’s not annoying to you, Anthony, but every time I do a circuit training routine, I’m called a Crossfiter, which I think is…
SH: Yeah. Anyways, I like Crossfit, don’t get me wrong, but they didn’t invent circuit training. And then if you’re trying to gain muscle, you need to be doing the muscle-gain splits. You need to be focusing on volume. A lot of people are so worried about the weight. Obviously the weight is important, but in order to grow muscle, you need to have volume in your workouts.
And by volume I mean you’re doing higher repetitions, like 12 to 15 repetitions per set. You’re doing three to four sets per exercise and then you’re getting around 15, 16 working sets per muscle group. And normally what I’ll tell people, I’ll say, hey, if you’re doing chest, I don’t care how many exercises you’re doing, just try to get in like 15, 16 working sets. So however many exercises you do, just make sure when you’re doing that’s how many total sets you have in there.
And also, you can experiment with things like tempo. Most people don’t realize that you actually gain the most amount of muscle—you break down the most amount of muscle tissue in the negative part of the exercises.
And to be honest, a lot of people kind of rush through the negative and they’re not doing full range of motion and they’re not working through their sticking points and they’re avoiding all these critical areas where you’re actually going to gain—get the most benefit. So slow negatives, high volume and hit it hard for muscle gain.
AA: Cool. Yeah, that’s great tips. It’s so true that things like full range of motion, just little basic tips, add-up to be the difference-makers. So sticking to the topic of number one, what would be like the number one nutrition tip you’d see for our viewers, especially coming from like a bodybuilding sort of background and like what you’re trying to do with your goal?
What would be the number one tip?
SH: I would say you need to make sure you’re counting your macros. And I say this because a lot of people—and I’ll ask them. I’ll say, how many grams of protein are you eating? And they’re like, oh, my God, I eat so much protein. And lo and behold, they’re probably like 100 grams short of what they should be eating for the day.
Funny story: I was in Wal-Mart the other night and I saw my next-door neighbor. He’s turning 60 soon and he’s a runner. He runs the 5K in like 20 minutes. And he wants to be able to do it in under 20. That’s really good for someone who is 59. I mean, I told him if he just dyed his hair brown, he’d look like he was 35.
So anyways, so I was asking him about his diet and I was like, hey man, what’s your protein intake like? He’s like, oh, my gosh, I eat so much protein and for whatever reason, in his head, he thought that he was eating like 140 grams of protein because he thought that his tuna fish was giving him at least 50 grams of protein a day. And when in reality, he was only getting like—he had little tuna fish packets. You know, you can buy the premade ones?
AA: Yeah, yeah.
SH: He’s like, oh, this one tuna fish packet has like 100 grams right there. I was like, oh, really? Let’s go check-out your tuna fish packets right now on the shelf. Lo and behold, he was only getting like 25 grams. And he’s like, oh, I guess I was wrong. I’m like, yeah, you’re wrong, man. You need to get your protein up.
So at the end of the day, if you have to make sure you hit at least one macro, make sure you hit your protein goal, because nine times out of 10, your carbs and fat, they’ll kind of trickle-in on their own as you’re eating.
AA: Okay, perfect. We also—we already discussed some on the topic of your career path passion. I want to know, what are your workouts looking like these days? Have you changed them up? Have they been consistent from when you first started out? Tell us a little bit about that.
SH: My workouts—recently, I’ve actually—I do want to do a show at some point, and also, I’ve been doing fitness DVDs with Lyons Gate. And those require me to make sure I have a lot of muscular endurance. And so two to three times a week I make sure I’m circuit training.
And I do really high intensity circuits where I’ll incorporate things like muscle-ups and box jumps and Spiderman pushups and mountain climbers and groiners and all these other fun exercises, like burpies, that are just torment. And I have my muscle-gain splits throughout the week as well.
I’d say the biggest difference I’ve done is I’ve actually split my leg day into two different days and I’ve been able to get much better results that way. So instead of doing everything at once, I’ll have one day where I focus mostly on quads and glutes and another day where I focus more on hamstrings and I’ll throw-in my calfs and I’ll just kind of wrap-up what’s missing from my leg day: abductors, adductors and something like that.
I still do my drop sets. If you see my original videos, I haven’t done it for a couple of months, because I did them for about three months straight. Which is basically the first set of every exercise I do a drop set of like three or four drops, basically just pre-exhausting the muscles as much as possible. But right now, I’m sticking to the 10 to 12 rep range, or usually I’ll go maybe has high as like 15 reps, like I said earlier, about focusing on volume.
And I try to at least make sure on one set that I’m doing really slow tempo, maybe as like a finisher. Just to make sure the muscle is getting hit as hard as possible.
AA: Right, right. Perfect. I mean, splitting up the legs; that was a big breakthrough for me. It’s like doing hamstrings, quads different days, separation. So that’s a great tip. Thank you for that. What about your diet now? What is it looking like?
SH: My diet is pretty simple. I stick to what’s easy, to make sure I can do it. I do a lot of chicken, a lot of rice, a lot of broccoli, oatmeal with fruit. I have apples and bananas throughout the day. My girlfriend makes these protein pancakes with the BSN Syntha-6 protein, which gives me like 50 grams of protein right off the bat in the morning, which is really good. It’s kind of become like a staple in our diet.
And then the simple stuff like almonds and then I do have my powder shake throughout the day and I just basically keep it very simple like that. I just make sure I’m hitting my macros and chicken is really easy to cook. Just throw it on the grill and broccoli is even easier to cook. You just throw it in there with the chicken and once you close the top, it kind of like cooks itself. It will be a little raw. You know what I mean?
AA: Yeah, yeah, man. Cool.
SH: So I’m basically just eating kind of plain stuff like that. And then on the weekends, maybe we’ll go out to eat and enjoy myself a little bit, as long as I’m good throughout the—during the week.
AA: Cool. Yeah, macros are important. And I want to also know, this is a question that a lot of people want to know. Do you ever take time away from the gym, such as a vacation or a week from not doing exercise, and why?
SH: I can only take like maybe two or three days off from doing anything. And after like two or three days, I just start to feel like I’m missing something. My body needs to be active. And it can just be like—it can be like a 20 or 30 minute run and I’ll be happy. But I don’t like to stay away for too long, because this is my job and I am filming videos and if I take a solid week or two off, it’s going to affect how I look.
And then when I get back in the gym, it’s going to take me a week just to get my body back to where it is, because obviously you’re going to be sore if you haven’t worked out for two weeks and you go train again. So it will really kind of mess-up my flow of my operation I have going on here.
I mean, if I’m traveling on vacation and I have access to a gym, I can always circuit train and make sure I’m at least pushing myself hard that way. So it’s just a matter of doing something. For me, personally, I just—I don’t like taking off more than a couple of days. It just doesn’t feel right to me.
AA: Right. Okay. Before we get in the membership site, I know you have like a clothing line. I want to know, what are your plans with it?
SH: Yeah, actually, we just re-launched our clothing line. I’m wearing one of my sweatshirts right now. My plan with the clothing line—actually, I can’t take all the credit, because my girlfriend did a lot of the designing and picking of the clothing, and there’s actually girls clothes as well. But the goal was to make stuff that you could wear out to the gym and also kind of wear our around town as well. Because all the clothing is form fitting, so it sticks to you really well, especially if you have a lot of muscle.
The favorite shirts that I have right now are the Burnout shirts. It’s that material that like if you were to pull it, it’s kind of like see-through, but when you wear it, it’s very comfortable and it breathes well. So we wanted to put out a line that was more than just like t-shirts with funny logos on it. We wanted to have something that was a little bit more unique that you would feel proud of wearing. Maybe you open up your drawer and you see like your Armani shirts and your SHF shirts and you’re like, I’m going with the SHF shirt today. You know what I mean?
SH: So that’s the kind of quality we went for with the clothing line. So we’re really excited about that and the hoodies that we have are super-comfortable. They’re extremely warm and they’re form-fitting as well. So actually, I’m wearing one of them right now. It has one of—like an old-school crest that we made up. So it has it right here. It’s kind of like a classic.
SH: When the business started. It says SHF in the middle. All kinds of good stuff.
AA: Cool, man, cool. Yeah, I like that logo there SHF.
SH: Yeah, man. Thank you.
AA: Perfect. Before we close, I want to say, I know you were telling me a lot about the membership site. I touched on this earlier in the introduction of this interview. Can you go ahead and give us just a quick overview of kind of like what’s going on with it and what are your plans with it? What are you trying to do with this, because I mean, you’ve got everything in there.
SH: Sure. Do you want me to do a screen capture of it for you?
SH: Can you see the site?
AA: Yep, there it is.
SH: Awesome. Yeah, Anthony, so you’ve had a chance to kind of log in and make your own profile. So you’ve seen some of this stuff where the site looks like this. It went through a major overhaul. It literally took me all of last year to rebuild this website. Because before, the site was focused just on kind of getting, you know, exercises and routines and the meal plan out there. Now it’s actually its own social media network.
So when you log in to your profile, just like any other network, you have your friend requests, you have your notifications and you have your messages. And then what we wanted to do was make the profiles a quick snapshot of you. So you have your photo over here, you have your measurements. We have avatars. It’s around Thanksgiving time right now, so I have a fun Thanksgiving avatar put together. And then I have badges. There’s a bunch of badges you can pick from.
And then over here, these are like your top 12 friends, which is actually something that MySpace had back in the day, which I thought was pretty cool. You could have like your top—first it was like your top five friends, your top 12, maybe top 15, now it’s like your top 30. It’s starting to get a little ridiculous. I don’t know if you remember that stuff. You remember MySpace?
AA: Yep, I do. Back in the day.
SH: Back in the day. So I kind of pulled from there. And this is more your inspiration. So these are my top 12 inspirations which basically is some of my super Hermanites and my girlfriend and some other people that I talk to on a daily basis. And it just gives me quick access to their profiles.
So you’ll notice also, too, I have my goal, gender, age, height and my weight, and then down here, you have your board, which is where your friends can come or you can post comments and let people know what’s going on with you for the day and stuff like that. And like every other social media site, you want to make sure you have photos and so right here I have some photos.
All the photos work just like any other site, where you can see them and you can make them bigger and leave comments and there’s a notification system, so if somebody comments on my photo or likes it, I’ll be notified of that so I can go check it out.
We have a video section which you can actually pull videos right from YouTube. Actually, I was telling you about my red Camaro earlier. This is it right here, Anthony.
SH: So these work the same ways. I have a couple of different video albums. That’s motivational stuff, some fitness video stuff, some music videos that I like. And then this part right here, this is where most people spend a lot of time. You’re actually able to go to the section I created called “The Notebook” and you’re supposed to think of the notebook as a real notebook.
So if you were to go to your routine, and you can actually input all of the exercises and routines that you’re doing for the entire week and then you can print this out and take it with you and you can actually fill in these boxes.
One of the things that’s a pain in the butt is when you’re trying to fill out your routine, but you have nowhere to write down your reps and weight. This keeps it really organized. And if you’re a platinum member of my website, you can actually pull from my database of routines and exercises. So I’ll type in—I’ll change this to exercise.
And then I’ll type-in dumbbell. And it’s going to pull up all the different exercises on my website that have a dumbbell. So dumbbell bent-over row. That’s for a back exercise. Maybe you want to add that to your back day. So once you have it here and you click “add”, it adds it down here with its own list of sets, reps and weights.
And then, say for some reason you forget how to do a dumbbell bent-over raise. You can actually utilize this as a clickable link and it will go to that part of my website where the exercise is and you can watch the video. You can see what muscles are being used. I rate the exercises as beginning to intermediate and advanced.
And there’s also a written write-up right here so you know how to do the exercise. Maybe you don’t have access to the video. And then there’s photos down here to show the starting and ending positions.
AA: Nice. That’s real cool.
SH: So there’s a little bit of everything here. You can also put your meal plan together with my website. Some people actually write them out on their own. So I made it so you can either upload a PDF or a Word document and then you can see the meal plan here. Or you can go to create your own and you can write it all out by hand. So if you wanted to see exactly what my meal plan is, all you have to do is log on to my site, go to my profile and you’ll be able to see all my food right here.
SH: We also have progress charts. So if you want to start keeping track of your body weight and your body fat percentage, you just simply go onto here and you add the points. And you can change these dynamically very easy. So today for body weight, we’ll type-in the date. So it’s the 27th. Here we go. And my weight is around 171 right now.
Click add and it adds the point. And then we make this dynamic as well, so you can change multiple charts at once. So now I can go over to my body fat chart, I’ll enter my fat here, which it’s getting pretty low. We’ll see that come down to 6.8. And I’ll add that point here. Once I click out, it’s going to update the chart.
SH: Now the chart is updated.
SH: And then we also have a section over here with it’s started to get more attraction, and that’s your list. This is like for your max bench, your max squat, your max deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk, squat clean. Basically, this is an area where you can upload your max lifts for people to see and they can motivate you by clicking on the motivate button right here. And then they can also leave comments on your lifts as well into this section.
SH: And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Anthony. I can sit here with you all day. We also have articles. I’m going to be doing a live video feed session pretty soon. We’re probably going to start that towards the start of the New Year. We’re going to take you guys into my studio and you’ll be able to talk about certain subjects or I’ll show you guys new exercises or routines.
And obviously you can share all this stuff with your friends as well. And if you’re looking to have some tips to eat big and stay lean on Thanksgiving, you can check out the articles I posted this week so you can make the right choices.
AA: Cool. I mean, very in detail, very in depth and just like I was saying earlier, like a hybrid of BodySpace and like a social media network such as Facebook, so really unique. You get articles, you can upload pics, you really go the whole nine. That’s excellent.
SH: Yeah, man. We’re all about improving, too. So this is just the beginning. We’re going to do our best to make sure we’re always making the membership as valued-added as possible. Anyone who wants to try the membership site out for free and have full access to the database of exercise routines and my meal plan and exclusive content, they can use a promo code FREEFITNESS, which is all one word, and I’ll give them a one-month free trial. They can check everything out.
AA: Okay. So they can go to the site, type in FREEFITESS and they get a month free to try everything.
AA: All right, perfect. That’s excellent. Guys, definitely check it out. It’s a great membership site where you obviously can see the benefits and you have nothing to lose. It’s free. So Scott’s kind enough to let you try it. He has that much confidence in his program. We’re going to have links below this video so you can check it and learn more.
Scott, is there anything in closing that you’d like to give to someone trying to start out in the fitness industry, one piece of advice you’d give them, what would it be?
SH: My best piece of advice would be to remain true to yourself, have good morals and values and if you’re going to do it, do it because you love it, not because you’re looking to make a million dollars, because with any kind of business in life, if you’re doing it for the money, people can tell. And there’s a lot of money in this industry, and obviously it’s a good industry to be in.
But you need to be here because you love it, and it’s going to show if you do. I feel like that’s why I have the large community that I have, because they can really tell that I love doing this. Yeah, it’s a job for me, but I love this stuff and I love helping people and I love taking the time to show them how to reach their goals. And that really shines through if that’s what your true intensions are. So be true to yourself and then your community will be true to you.
AA: Cool. Well, Scott, any final closing words before we end this interview?
SH: Yeah, actually. I’m pretty excited. In about two weeks I’m flying out to L.A. and I’m filming my third fitness DVD series with Lyons Gate Be Fit, and then the first two DVDs that I did are coming out maybe towards the end of December, start of January. So for those of you who like to work out exclusively at home, you can check out those.
They’re going to be available everywhere, like Amazon, Best Buy, Target. And I also have all of the videos for the workout series that you can do at home on my website as well under Lyons Gate. So you can check those out there. So we’re pretty excited about that. It’s a pretty big opportunity for us and we’re hoping that more keep coming.
AA: Cool. Guys, you’ve heard it there on what to do. Check out that DVD when it comes out. We’ll make sure to have some links there for the readers and viewers who want to know more about it. Scott, it was a pleasure doing this interview. Thanks so much for allowing us to do this.
SH: Yeah, thank you, man. It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
AA: Awesome. Well, you take care, you have a great day and we’ll be speaking soon.
SH: Thanks, man. I’ll see you soon, brother.
AA: All right. Bye bye.
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.
Review Of Visual Impact Muscle Building by Mike Westerdal
When you’re lean and muscular you feel stronger, healthier and more confident. And though lots of men would say that they took up the sport because they want to improve their health, the truth is that the millions of guys do it because they like the way it makes them look. They honestly don’t care whether they’re lifting 100 pounds or a thousand—as long as they achieve the muscular look they want, they’re happy.
This is just a fact of life. Some guys lift weights because they truly care about how much weight they can lift and the number of reps they can do while others are really just there to make the ‘beach muscles’ look good. For those of you who are more interested in how you look than how much you can lift, there is a training program just for you. Visual Impact Muscle Building by Rusty Moore is all about making strategic muscle gains for a visually stunning body.
In chapter one, Rusty discusses the ‘Big 3’ of bodybuilding: squats, dead-lifts and bench press. For years, these have been the sort of ‘holy trinity’ for building mass. In this first part of the book he talks about how these exercises can be detrimental for the guy who is on a quest to build a visually stunning body. From Rusty’s perspective, for the guy striving to look his ‘beach muscle best,’ the problem with these exercises is that they perform too well, putting on too much mass or developing mass in proportions that are not necessarily visually appealing. He does not however, say that these should be avoided entirely, just that they should be used strategically, rather than comprising the entire foundation of a training regimen as they often do for many bodybuilders.
Next, Rusty provides us with an overview of the basic science behind how muscles get bigger and stronger. He includes a brief but thorough discussion about the differences between Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy and Myofibrillar Hypertrophy, the two different types of muscle growth. I really like the way he presents the information so that you can decide which approach is best for you depending on your particular goals. This section is followed by a chapter that is focused on ‘cumulative fatigue.’ This is an interesting section that teaches the reader about the different results that can be achieved by varying the number of reps, the rest period between sets and the rep tempo.
Chapters four through six also provide some really worthwhile information about strategies you can use to ramp up size gains. In all of these chapters Rusty does a great job of explaining everything in an easy-to-understand manner without being overly simplistic.
In the following chapter, Rusty gets into the nutritional aspects of the Visual Impact approach to weight training. He offers sound advice about nutrition and handy formulas for determining how many calories you should be consuming each day to achieve your goals. Afterwards, he brings up supplements and says something that I know the supplement companies don’t like to see in print—don’t waste your money on expensive supplements, because they’re not worth it. Rusty is however a big fan of Creatine, which has actually been scientifically proven to contribute to muscle building.
With the basic stuff out of the way, Rusty then gets into a presentation of information that enables you to develop your own custom routine that will enable you to achieve your particular goals. The basic workout routine is comprised of three phases of two months each for a total of six months.
The first includes a strong focus on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy to add quick volume to the muscles. The next phase is the hybrid power-muscle building part of the routine, which serves to harden up the muscles. Phase three is built on lower volume of lifts with higher weights to further harden the muscles. This phase also includes some ‘fat killing’ strategies to get rid of excess body fat. Rusty also includes a bonus phase for quickly building mass prior to an event.
On the whole I think that Rusty has put together a solid program that is based on real science. And depending on your body type and particular goals you hope to achieve, the program is readily adaptable for just about anyone, regardless of skill level. His instructions are easy to follow and don’t include a lot of unnecessary jargon or fluff just to impress you. While Rusty’s ideas are obviously not right for everyone, if your primary goal is to look your ‘beach muscle best,’ then Visual Impact might just be the program for you.
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