Interview with Steve Cook.
Interviewed by Ben Tatar
Steve Cook has become one of the most popular world champion fitness models in the world.
Steve has appeared on numerous magazine covers (including Muscle and Fitness,) he also won the Muscle and Fitness model search competition. Steve also has a social media following of over a million fans total. Without any further ado here is Steve Cook!
CRITICAL BENCH: Steve, you have achieved some incredible accolades. I will list some huge achievements you have made and tell me what comes to mind.
a) You were the Bodybuilding.com Fitbody Contest Winner:
This really is what launched my start in the fitness industry. It was a fun event that was in front of my home town. Meant a lot to me because of what I had been going through in my personal life.
b) You became the 2015 Olympia Muscle & Fitness Male Model Search Winner! (Every studs dream!)-
Such a big event! Over 240 guys entered that comp and I was so nervous stepping on stage. But I remember being confident because of the amount of work that went into preparing for it.
At the time I was in my last semester at college. 16 hard credits, working 30 hours a week and prepping for that show! I learned so much about hard work in those months. I also signed with Optimum Nutrition (ON) shortly after this comp!
c) You became the Bodybuilding.com Spokes Model Search Winner-
Coming off my win of the Male Model search I couldn’t wait to enter into the most prestigious model search in the industry.
Winning the bodybuilding.com spokesmodel search was life changing!
d) You earned your IFBB Pro Status-
With the popularity of men’s board short categories the IFBB launched its Men’s Physique category. I felt like it was perfect timing and a category meant for me.
2) CRITICAL BENCH: Wow, those are some amazing achievements that will forever be with you! Steve, I know that you come from a big family of seven! How do your family members feel about all of your big fitness and modeling victories at the highest level?
They think it’s cool but it’s really no biggie to them. Most of them haven’t seen me compete.
They definitely keep me grounded and remind me that I’m still just the middle child who used to be afraid of the dark – lol.
In all seriousness they really aren’t big on social media or into fitness so they don’t really know what I do. They think it’s cool when they see me on a magazine and that I get to travel to such wonderful places.
3) CRITICAL BENCH: You were a college football player. After your days as a college football player, how did your training change?
The training didn’t change much. What did was my eating habits.
I no longer cared about just being big and strong, I now needed to be lean and toned. I added in more detail work into my training but it was mostly diet.
4) CRITICAL BENCH: Not only are you a top model, but many people don’t know that you can bench press over twice your body weight (420lbs.) Do you have any strength tips for our readers?
Start young lol. Just kidding — kinda. I started very young, lifting with my dad. I would advise people to work a bench press program specifically designed to get stronger. I benched twice a week for many years.
5) CRITICAL BENCH: There are a lot of people out there who are let’s say, “sort of ripped.” Maybe they are strong in the gym, or play sports and maybe they are considered fit to those who don’t work out much. However, they aren’t in condition to get on stage. What is your advice for this type of individual to really get his physique to the next level so he can compete or do shoots?
My advice to them would be to focus on the diet. But to also do it in a healthy way. Slow and steady will always be the best way to change body composition. Start tracking food intake and keep a training journal. Also get with a trainer or coach that knows what they are doing to help give feedback.
6) CRITICAL BENCH: Steve, you have become famous. How has being known changed your life? If you go to a public gym, I’m sure it must be hard to workout without others always approaching you.
Lol that “famous” word always makes me feel silly. I mean I haven’t done anything to warrant being famous. I owe it more to Optimum Nutrition and bodybuilding.com than anything.
It’s always fun to be somewhere and have someone tell you about how you helped them…. I wouldn’t be here without them and I understand that so I love to listen to them. Sometimes it hard to get in a workout but it’s also flattering.
7) CRITICAL BENCH: Steve, what are the five main reasons most people aren’t as ripped as they should be?
Here’s the 5 main reasons:
1. They don’t know how to diet correctly
2. Aren’t training hard enough
3. Aren’t supplementing like they should
4. Lack of self control on the diet side
5. Lack of motivation
8) CRITICAL BENCH: What types of changes do you think we will see in the fitness industry in the next ten years?
That a great question. I think you will see a shift back to more aesthetic physiques on stage. I also think you will see the more of a mainstream following as the younger generation is so into health and appearances.
9) CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any fancy exercises or exercises that are different that you really enjoy doing? How is your training different from most people in the gym?
I would like to think I tend to concentrate on the details more than most. It can be something as small as curling the wrist out on a certain movement, or focusing on the negative part of the rep that makes all the difference. Training with the great Charles Glass really opened my eyes to how biomechanics plays a huge role in developing a world class physique.
10) CRITICAL BENCH: Well, Steve at Critical Bench we wish you all the best as we know you will continue to surprise the world. In closing is there any message you would like to leave the fitness world and is there anyone who you would like to thank?
I’d love to thank ON, BB.com and everyone out there that follows and supports us. I try to be transparent with the fact that I’m all about doing things for the right reasons. At the core of that is health. Without that core everything else is unstable.
I also believe health and fitness shouldn’t be a competition… everyone has the capacity to be decent shape. Not everyone has the genetics to be a Mr/Ms Olympia but should strive for health.
It’s also something that I firmly believe we should help support others in. Make people feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
By Chris Wilson
What is your “fuel” in life?
More specifically, what “thing” in your life do you think about 24/7 (besides chicks guys) and want to constantly find ways to get better at doing?
I’m not talking about a casual interest in a particular idea, sport, hobby or profession.
I’m talking about PASSION.
Most of us have something that occupies our thoughts during our waking moments and often times even when we’re in dreamland. This doesn’t have to be your career, although if you’re lucky, you’ve found a way to make it your career.
Being passionate about what you do in life can in many ways determine the quality of your life. It can bring about the meaning of your life.
I’m sure you, like me, have occasionally asked yourself the age old question, “Why am I here?”
“What purpose do I serve in the world?”
We can cite men and women in history that just seemed destined to become great at what they did:
Christopher Columbus, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Susan B. Anthony, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Henry Ford, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan to name a few.
Did they have a “casual” interest in what they did and just get lucky or did they spend each day perfecting their skills and dedicating all of their time and energy towards that ONE thing that meant everything to them?
I shouldn’t have to answer that. I’m fairly certain that anyone on that level of superior talent worked their tail off to get there. Luck was never an expectation. Hard work was the process.
But besides hard work, these amazing men and women all had something else in common. They were tirelessly and insanely PASSIONATE about what they did in life. Anything that distracted them or kept them from their mission was immediately removed and discarded. Nothing would hold them back from accomplishing their desires.
They also strived to surround themselves with other influential people that they could learn from and help them further their greatness allowing them to maintain and exceed a level of excellence foreign to most ordinary folk.
You might be thinking, “Yeah, yeah…but I’m not an inventor, sports phenom, saint or explorer…”
News flash…Me neither!
But I will tell you what I am. I’m out of control ridiculously passionate about what I do for a living. I absolutely love what I do for work and wake up each day excited about how I can get better and improve at what gives me a true sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in life.
Aside from our family and friends that give us immense joy, there is something else we all need to satisfy our craving to feel valued.
We NEED to be connected to something bigger than ourselves.
Over the years I’ve come across school teachers, coaches, on-line entrepreneurs, small business owners and doctors who possessed the same traits as the legendary figures I mentioned previously.
However, if I listed their names here, you wouldn’t recognize a single one. Does that devalue them or make their passion any less extraordinary? No way.
Their contributions to this world have been as meaningful to their friends, family and community as any 20th century hero.
You see, we are all capable of pursuing and finding passion in our lives. We are all capable of finding something that breaths fire into our soul and makes us want to leap from our beds with excitement.
This is REAL. This isn’t fantasyland talk. I speak from experience.
Allowing yourself to be enveloped by passion for a hobby, skill, profession, trade or cause is one of the most human things in the world. No matter the day, I can always lean against my passion as a source of strength.
In many ways, uncovering your passion leads to the discovery of your meaning in life and your contribution to the world.
Now your passion may not change the world and your name may not be found in historical books, on the $100 bill or in lights at NBA arenas but the fulfillment and gratification you receive from that “one thing” will change your life and those people in your life.
Realizing what your passion is may be one of the most remarkable and rewarding experiences you could ever have. Don’t disregard the things that give you ultimate joy. Embrace them and develop them.
Examine your life today. Determine what just interests you and what ‘FUELS’ you. Casual interests are fine but not fulfilling. Decide today to let your passion consume you and watch your life transform.
I guarantee if you find your true passion and devote yourself to it, the meaning of your life will seem to find you when you least expect it.
Click Here for a practical, step-by-step blueprint to rapidly developing mental toughness, igniting your passion and suppress the fear and self-limiting beliefs
that sabotage your success.
Testimonial From Dan Schwab
I just completed the Critical Bench Program 2.0. In the 11 week program, I put 40 pounds on my bench press to reach my goal of over 400 pounds. At 5 feet 7 inches and 198 pounds, I was able to get a 405 pound bench press. I also set a personal record by pressing 315 pounds for 10 reps.
I am 45 years old and compete in amateur mixed martial arts as a member of the Independent Fight Team. I also used the Critical Bench Program 2.0 to increase my upper body strength for cage fighting. The program is really easy follow. Mike Westerdal’s Critical Bench Program 2.0 is very informative and I have had excellent results.
My next goal is 450 pound bench press and 315 pounds for 15 reps. I am positive Critical Bench will get me there. I highly recommend it for anyone. I have my girlfriend and her son using the program as well. They both have had a 20-30 pound gain on their bench.
By Chris Wilson, CPT author Anabolic AfterGrowth
Growing up I always wanted to be BIGGER like my older brothers. I mean, they were monsters compared to my little 9 year old butt. They had a 5 year head start on muscle building and puberty helped too!
Like most juveniles, I began lifting with those old school rusty free weights in our garage. I had NO IDEA what I was doing but I was getting stronger all the same.
By High School, my football buddies and I spent quite a bit of time benching but we had absolutely no programming or lifting cycles to track our strength gains. We had zero direction in the gym and without question, our form and technique was pathetic.
But, we continued to show up and bench (and curl) A LOT until we could barely move. I guess that was how we measured our success.
While going to college I began learning HOW to be a diehard lifter with some level of skill. Like most 18 year old guys, I wanted huge muscles, to be a monster in the gym and to impress the ladies at the same time. I was super dedicated and some would say a little overboard with my training habits but I loved the way I felt with my swollen muscles after 2 hours+ of crushing it in the gym just about every night (when I wasn’t tending bar or goofing off playing video games).
The ladies seemed to like it too, so of course that influenced my desire to get to the gym and bench my brains out!
I laugh now because I was neglecting some of the key lifts that would have truly sky-rocketed my results but I was seeing decent gains on the bench and getting bigger arms, so nobody was going to steal away my thunder and drive to gaining muscle mass.
But of course, things change.
After college, I worked for World Gym in Connecticut and was exposed to all kinds of bodybuilders and powerlifters and finally started to realize the error of my ways. I was so focused on gaining a stronger chest and larger biceps (like most 20 year olds), that I totally missed the boat on the TWO mega-mass builders, Squats & Deadlifts.
I knew from High School football that squats were important to gain leg strength and become more physical but they hurt and weren’t really fun…at all. So doing them routinely was not a priority.
But working alongside some monsters who could throw around the iron gave me a whole new perspective. Every chance I got, I picked their brains while drinking my post workout protein shake. They would tell me how doing more compound lifts helped them gain crazy strength on all their lifts and they watched their muscle mass soar.
Plus, it seemed to give their body a “DENSE” quality that I just wasn’t seeing after years of hardcore training.
Needless to say, it also saved them serious time in the gym bouncing around doing isolation lift after isolation lift and barely making any noticeable progress.
I felt like a dope but it was a good lesson indeed and just the wake-up call I needed.
Legendary Muscle MASS Forged From the 3 Big Lifts
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the ultimate example of how powerlifting generated the Greatest Bodybuilder to ever grace the stage. Prior to all that fame and attention in the 1970s, Arnold was working on one thing…Getting Stronger. Guess what, it worked like magic.
In the Mid-60’s, the Austrian Oak was routinely competing in powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting contests. His personal bests are quite impressive considering he is known primarily for his physique. Squat – 545 lbs., Bench Press – 440 lbs., Deadlift – 710 lbs.
It was this focus on the fundamental lifts that created “The King” of the Bodybuilding Universe. Even his best friend, Franco Columbu (pictured far right), followed this approach to bodybuilding and was a champion powerlifter and even competed in the World’s Strongest Man competition.
Implementing the ‘BIG 3’ Power Lifts & Making Gains
After a few years working for World Gym, I got an awesome job at a private training studio in a wealthy area of southwestern Connecticut and really began to apply all of this new insight into muscle development. It was here that I really saw my strength shoot up as I worked alongside gifted lifters who were much smarter and experienced than me.
We got to train young athletes in high school and college who required the BIG 3 lifts to excel in their sport along with middle aged men and young mothers who desired to get stronger and drop serious body fat. I of course applied this same approach to my own weight lifting program with amazing results.
My young, muscular body was noticeably BUZZING with the muscle building hormones that literally made me Feel Stronger on a DAILY basis.
BOOM! Within weeks of this new approach my Bench Press totals shot through the roof as I started squatting more and more weight.
I was told that focusing on leg strength would instantly improve upper body strength and I discovered that to be 100% true!
The increase in strength was undeniable and undoubtedly due to spending a majority of my time on Squats, Bench Press and Deadlifts. No combination of barbell lifts demands this magnitude of working muscles.
- Squats require all the muscles of the legs to fire along with the entire abdominal wall not to mention the upper body muscles that keep the barbell in place.
- The Bench Press targets the chest, triceps and shoulders but also engages your biggest muscles, the lats, as well as the legs creating a strong platform to bench from.
- The Deadlift is considered the most primal of all the lifts. Nothing hits all the muscles in the posterior chain better than this pulling movement.
I was routinely doing reps with 315 lbs. in the squat rack which made my bench press jump from 275 lbs. for reps to well over 300 lbs. and my body fat % was as low as it had ever been.
Without even focusing on cardio activity, my body was INCINERATING FAT at an all-time high level.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to WHAT you’re doing in the gym. Reps, sets, rest and tempo are also important aspects of your workouts but WHAT you’re doing determines your fate…good or bad. Sure, it’s fun to do some isolation training with higher reps and get all pumped up but that should be your REWARD for crushing the BIG 3 lifts.
Get really good at squatting, deadlifting and benching in the 80-90% range of your 1RM and watch your SIZE & STRENGTH explode like never before!
Click The Link Below to UNLEASH Your Anabolic Hormones…
By Chris Wilson, CPT author Anabolic AfterGrowth
I was under the illusion that I was still strong.
I had fallen victim to the training I was implementing for a majority of my dedicated clients. Focusing my time and energy on balance, conditioning and core strength led me down a path to weakness.
I’m not saying that having a strong, flat six pack is a bad goal or that standing on one leg while doing side raises is not beneficial. It just should not have been the ONLY thing I was doing.
I had abandoned all the compound lifts that made me semi-beastly in my early to mid-twenties. I wasn’t benching big weight, squats were done for reps (and sometimes using stability balls) and traditional deadlifts weren’t even on the menu.
Yeah, I know…simply pathetic for a veteran personal trainer and gym manager.
This certainly led to me suffering an injury to my manhood (aka scrotum) that kept me from lifting heavy for a long time. Let me explain.
After speaking with my friend and Criticalbench.com founder, Mike Westerdal, I had decided to begin preparing for a powerlifting competition. During this time Mike was benching 600s and lifting small cars as a warm up so needless to say, I was quickly motivated to be strong again. After a few years of not training intensely, I was trying out some sumo deadlifting.
At first, I was electrified since I hadn’t pushed super hard in a while and pulling the 300+ lbs. off the floor felt awesome. And then it happened…just after I wrapped up for the day. I felt some searing pain in my groin and after getting checked out, I found out from the Urologist that I had a vericocele.
A vericocele is basically a varicose vein in your balls. I had severely irritated it with all of the pressure from lifting heavy, something I had not done in several years. And I’m quite sure my sub-standard form and technique (super rusty) was to blame on top of an overall weakness in my body.
Not doing the traditional compound lifts had cost me BIG TIME.
Instead of pursuing a competition, I was back to light weight and functional exercise. UGHHH-get me a barf bag. I was so irritated at myself!!!
Luckily, over a period of years, I was able to recover enough to get back to training with the compound lifts I so badly missed. I got all of my lifts back in the 300 lb. rep range and felt a flood of confidence along with some well-earned muscle gains.
I thought I was lifting smart for a period of years but all I was doing was maintaining muscle tone and deceiving myself.
Then I began working for Critical Bench in early 2013 and was now frequently around some muscle building monsters. These relationships only helped strengthen my direction and now the deadlift is by far my favorite exercise in the gym.
The weight I strained my gonads with was now, “LIGHT WEIGHT BABY!” I now spend most of my time benching, pulling plates and squatting anything and everything from barbells to DBs and even kettlebells!
Never sabotage your efforts in the gym with “fancy” exercises that don’t build real power in your body. If you make STRENGTH your goal, you can’t lose. The incredible side effect of intense training is a physique others will admire and bullet-proof muscles that are designed to perform, not just look good.
Would You Like to Add 2 Inches to Your Biceps & 25 Pounds to Your Bench Press While Gaining 14 Pounds of Lean Muscle?
If so, click the link below now…
Stop hitting the RESET button each year and start living each year WITHOUT a plan B.
When 01/01 arrives, many of us are optimistic. We are on point and ready. For the first time in a long time we feel motivated and focused on ourselves. We feel an extra boost of endorphins and dopamine (the feel good hormones).
We are finally READY TO TAKE ACTION but by January 20th, we’ve already come back down to Earth, lost our action taking passion and gotten back to life as usual.
Is this rejuvenated sensation to improve your life just because of the date?
For some, it is. If the previous year was tough and you had to struggle your way through it, having a ‘fresh start’ feels pretty darn good.
But for most of us, it’s simply the start of a new chapter. Our lives read very much like a long novel. Each chapter represents the years of our lives. Some of those chapters can be short and eventful while some feel immensely long just like some years seem to just fly by with you on auto-pilot while other years t-a-k-e f-o-r-e-v-e-r.
Typically when things are going well and you’re just plugging away, the days and weeks go by at record pace. When our minds are occupied and we’re keeping busy, we don’t seem to take the time to reflect and evaluate what direction we’re headed in. We just keep on keeping on going along for the ride.
But when we have too much time on our hands to think about where we’re headed, the feelings can be overwhelming and often times scary. Instead of using this down time to our advantage, we waste it with “stuff” that doesn’t make us better. We just fill it with activities, gadgets, and laziness. Facing reality for many of us is frightening so we occupy our time with nonsense.
This brings us to a very common expression about success in life. “Most people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” Let’s remember that planning to fail and failing to plan are two VERY different things.
Here’s the difference: One is done intentionally while the other is simply poor use of our valuable time.
Some of us just need a jab in the ribs from someone that deeply cares about us, knows who we are and what motivates us. As annoying as that person may be at the time, we should thank them for their concern and interest in our lives. Without support from those we know, like and trust, getting things done would be near impossible.
The guy that plans to fail makes decisions every day that he knows can be toxic to him and those in his life. The guy who fails to plan just isn’t organized and either doesn’t have the means to take the next step or is afraid to do so.
I know it’s not that black and white but it’s close. You either get up each day staying busy without much thought about your future and the direction of your life OR you get up and KNOW that what you’re doing is damaging your chance at attaining success.
To be successful at life, you need to have a plan. And, you need to execute that plan without hesitation.
One thing is certain, success comes at a heavy price. WORK.
Work (considered to be unsavory for many of us) is at the center of this discussion. This is where we separate the doers from the thinkers.
We can dive into that work willingly each day and get stuff done OR we can tip toe around it avoiding the really hard stuff while we spend the majority of our time on the easier stuff. Sound familiar?
Most of us find ourselves in this situation all the time. Big projects that require tons of hard work and demand our very best get pushed off while we essentially waste time on smaller tasks. I too find myself in this situation more than I care to acknowledge.
It’s the guy that will choose to chip away at his number one priority (goal) each day that finds success down the road. The old adage of “hard work always pays off” is true today and it will be true 100 years from now. If success was easy, we would all have nothing to really work for in life.
The recipe for success is simple, it’s just not easy.
3 Keys to Executing Your Game Plan
• Decide on a specific GOAL that improves the quality of your life
• Create a PLAN with precise action steps to track your progress
• Select 1-3 people very important to you Hold You Accountable
Yes, it’s that simple but you may have to work like hell to stay on track and reach your goal. Taking action in life requires some level of faith and confidence in yourself (and in others). We need to feel that if we fail, someone else we trust will be there to help pick us up. It’s those who believe in us most that will rally together and come to our aid to keep our minds in the game.
It’s just like the parent that sees his son or daughter fall at the playground. They must walk over with conviction, help their child up, dust them off and give them a pat on the head or look of approval as if to say, “It’s going to happen, you’re strong, you got this!”
Be prepared to get some bumps, bruises and scars in life. You can’t live with the brakes on. Take necessary chances where the benefits outweigh the risks and bust your butt every day to improve your livelihood.
The difference between triumph and defeat can be so slight but if you have a plan with a clearly defined goal combined with your inner strength and a strong supporting cast, you will accomplish your objective.
What HOLDS men back from getting BIGGER & Stronger?
Wow, that’s a LOADED question! Let’s start with FOUR key factors holding men back from muscular greatness.
In my opinion, the first key limiting factor is Stress. Constantly putting our body through periods of stress greatly reduces our body’s ability to release natural growth hormone while at rest. It becomes the silent BURGLAR of testosterone like a thief in the night. If we honestly focus on reducing stress in our lives, we increase our body’s potential for gaining muscle mass and strength.
Another HUGE hurdle for many men in America today and the world over….TIME. There is a lack of time to squeeze everything into our super busy schedules. We try to please so many others in our lives that we often times forget to please…wait for it….OURSELVES.
Being selfish to a degree and making the time for yourself to exercise is paramount. You can’t have excuses, you must have action! Take time away from other LESS important things (TV, Internet) and make the time for the gym.
One of the most overlooked KEYS to muscle and strength are the ‘S’ word and the ‘N’ word.
Sleep & Nutrition of course…..
Why, what were you thinking I meant?
Sleep like a baby and EAT like a warrior…somebody said that once I think (me?). Getting those essential Zzzz’s at night and consuming the proper calories everyday on a consistent basis lead to a nice physique with “limited” time devoted to exercise. Imagine then if you actually follow my second KEY factor holding you back….whoa!
Lastly (and this is a BIG one), stick with LARGE, complex lifts that maximize time and muscle response. Don’t follow the teenager workout model of biceps, chest, and abs FIVE times per week and, “oops, oh yeah, I should do some Leg Presses every other Tuesday.”
C’mon man! Haven’t we learned anything by now? The more time we give to the ‘heavy-hitters’ the more we will see that reflect in the mirror and on the scale.
Devote your time to pushing and pulling with a majority of your attention on movements like squats, deadlifts, overhead press, rows, chest press and planking until your abs quiver and your knees buckle.
Follow those 4 points and results won’t just come, they will come ROARING!
What Are the Most Common Mistakes Made in the Gym Inhibiting Strength Gains?
Number one has to be too much focus on aesthetics and not enough focus on strength. The side effect of getting stronger with the right exercises is…you got it, looking good!
Most men spend far too much time curling and doing chest exercises while neglecting the posterior chain, barbell squats and other more challenging lifts.
Secondly (and I’m 100% serious) is guys taking advice from people (other guys) that don’t know what the heck they’re talking about…even if they look good. Decent genetics can fool the average guy into thinking he knows more than he does. Do your homework first and confirm that “Joe” at the gym really does know what the heck he’s talking about before following his instructions.
Thirdly…”Did somebody say Groundhog Day?”
Let me explain. If you’re doing the SAME exercises in the SAME order w/ the SAME frequency, using the SAME weights, while doing the SAME reps and SAME sets year after and year and never seeing the results you want, you’re doing it WRONG!
Know anyone like that? Yup, me too. Variety is the spice of life gentlemen. Learn to shake things up every 2-3 months and watch the GAINS come much faster.
And lastly, spending FAR too much time doing treadmill/recumbent bike/elliptical cardio machines. I’m not saying to stop doing cardio machines, it just shouldn’t be your only form of cardiovascular activity. It typically gets you moving in ONE gear for a prolonged period which has diminishing returns for hard earned muscle and strength.
Adding in some resistance conditioning is so much more effective metabolically speaking. It allows our body to burn fat effectively WHILE adding on quality muscle mass. (E.g. sprints, plyos, jump rope, box jumps and broad jumps to name a few.) Plus, doing exercises like those listed takes less time, you can mix a few together and the level of enjoyment goes up considerably.
What Are the BEST Programs to Follow to Get Bigger, Stronger and Leaner?
The 5×5 method is the most effective way (in my humble opinion) to gain Size and Strength simultaneously. When you gain muscle size, you increase your body’s “internal furnace” allowing you to burn calories better while at rest.
It’s simple, muscle consumes more energy than fat while at rest so by increasing muscle mass your body will burn unwanted body fat without even focusing on it. Getting leaner becomes a bi-product of focusing on gaining size and strength. It’s literally a Win-win-win situation for all THREE goals.
With the proper warm-up and occasional de-load weeks, the 5×5 Method can be buried treasure for men searching for muscle gains.
I do also highly recommend some programming with 8-10 rep work mixed in with this approach. Heavy all the time can be VERY hard on the body, joints, tendons, ligaments, nervous system etc. Having some workouts each week dedicated to hypertrophy (the muscle pump) targeting more volume, more reps and more muscle fatigue can be very motivating for most men.
‘Burning out’ can be more fun and in several ways with less wear and tear on the system as a whole. Having fun while working out can certainly keep a guy coming back for more!
I HATE Cardio But I Know I Need Something More Than Just Weight Lifting….
Well, we kind of touched on this point already but let’s dig a little deeper.
I definitely find interval training, slow-med-fast (Fartlek, HIIT) to be the way to go with a bulk of your cardiovascular workouts. I DON’T recommend long distance at all since it totally works against muscular development. If your goal is MASS & STRENGTH, miles of running will not help your efforts!
Jumping rope is amazing at slashing calories, building a strong foundation (calves) and helps improve explosive power along with several other leg exercises like box jumps, broad jumps, jump squats, jump lunges and so on.
I do however feel a water rower or rower machine to be tremendous for short distance sprints. A rower is super challenging and the total body impact is AMAZING. They have been around for decades and recently I’ve seen them come on strong at places like Orange Theory Fitness. Nothing pushes you harder when going for 300-800 meters (depending on your level) in only a few minutes. They are phenomenal at attacking the entire body for short, high octane bursts.
Now I can’t leave out one of my favorites, Jumping Jacks. Simply mix jumping jacks into your routine with sets of 25-50 between other exercises. This adds to your calorie burning potential and they’re not too fatiguing. JJ’s benefit all kinds of muscles and keeps the HR elevated while your muscle get a break from the weights.
Nutrition Can MAKE or BREAK Our Efforts in the Gym…What Are the KEYS to Get the Most From my Diet?
I approach it this way, [What SHOULDN’T I eat?????] If we look at what we consume each day that is artificial versus what the earth provides naturally for us, it’s unbelievable. I try to all but eliminate the stuff that I know is harmful to my health: fast food, sodas (club is fine), chips, candies, cookies and cakes are the WORST offenders.
Moderate stuff like ice cream (buy ones w/ FEWER ingredients), drastically reduce bread intake, be super strict w/ juices (maybe a 4-6 oz. glass at breakfast), cut way back on cereals (most are crap-shredded wheat and cheerios are better than starving) and remember most prepared foods are outrageously high in bad fats and simple carbs (there are some exceptions that aren’t so high in sodium, trans fats and empty carbs).
By analyzing WHAT I eat, making smarter choices and substituting, I have made drastic improvement in my own physique just this year….dropping 5-8% BF in the past 6 months and holding!
EAT BIG in the morning and after workouts, drink a ton of water, eat at least 1 big salad every day and use spinach and kale instead of regular lettuce or mix them together. Remember, you want nutrition not just a big bowl of empty calories. Be careful with the dressing too!
Try to cut out the starchy carb at dinner unless it’s following a workout when you could use it. Lean meats and vegetables pretty much whenever you want. Fish, eggs, chicken, some red meat and protein shakes should satisfy the bulk of your protein needs. Adding beans to salads is always great, control your dairy intake (some milk and cheese is fine) and watch your portions. However, breakfast and post workout meals can be exceptions to portion control. “Breaking the fast” with a big breakfast is fine with quality calories and consuming high calories after a workout can be super helpful more muscle mass gains.
Are Any of the Popular Supplements Useful or Just a Waste of Money?
Amino Acids are useful, no doubt about that. They are the building blocks of muscle so adding those in pre/post workout can benefit muscle gains. A quality whey protein powder is good to go for on the go and as a replacement when food isn’t available but don’t rely on it. Try first to eat clean foods and drink water as your main source of calories and fluids. Hey, it’s worked for THOUSANDS of years pretty darn well.
Juicing (with vegetables and fruits) is fantastic. Is it time consuming and costly up front YES, but well worth it in the long run when you buy organic fruits and vegetables. In terms of vitamin & mineral potential and freshness, there is NO substitute to juicing….natures ENERGY food! It might be the best pre-workout you can have!
In recent years, Fish oils certainly have become popular and for good reason. The benefits for the blood and heart are well researched and studied. Many cardiologists today recommend them to their patients if dealing with heart issues. Omega 3 (and 6) fats are SUPER beneficial to the body and proper brain function.
There are so many others out there, it would be hard to name them all if I had an hour. Much of what’s out there is marketing and fluff. If you find you are deficient in some things after getting some blood work done, supplements can certainly help. The more important aspect to consider is WHO you are getting the supplements from. Do your research and find reputable companies that manufacture and distribute quality supplements.
The most important nutrition takeaways: Have a diet very high in leafy greens (dietary fiber), eat tons of vegetables (fiber/vitamins/minerals), moderate fruit intake (fiber/vitamins/minerals) consume quality, edible protein (shakes are good but not the best) and get essential fats from meats, fish, eggs, nuts and healthy oils. You can only IMPROVE your health by sticking to these guidelines and using the 90/10 Rule. If 90% of the time you are good, the other 10% you can enjoy some “victory” meals without ill effects.
Consistency and dedication are the only things holding you back from seeing miraculous results!
We Live in a World of INSTANT Results and QUICK Fixes…How Long Should it Take to SEE Improvements?
Okay, with 30 days of consistency and effort you can BEGIN to reveal actual results…HOWEVER…
Most people in this day and age require ‘Quick FIXES’…..that’s what our country wants today. Stuff like 7 day diets, abs in minutes, instant internet access….the list goes on and on.
If people actually give themselves realistic goals when trying to CHANGE their bodies, say 90 days as the overall goal w/ 30 and 60 day progress reports, that’s how you can see REAL, lasting results.
But many people want the NEW body 100X FASTER than it took for them to get OUT OF SHAPE. Ten years of ZERO focus on being healthy and NOW I want to look like Brad Pitt in the next few weeks because I was a good little boy…WAKE UP Man!
We need to BUILD on little victories and substitute bad habits with good ones. The key is to ONLY do it one habit at a time, don’t overwhelm yourself or it will never stick. Lots of inspirational and motivational books talk about this KEY ingredient to making change a reality in your life.
Have the mindset of a champion. Know that progress is hard work and self-discipline comes with sacrifice. If your mind is right, it can demand so much from the body and you will amaze yourself at what’s possible with a winning attitude!
May 13, 2014 by Mike Westerdal
Filed under Articles, Athlete Interviews, Health and Fitness, Interviews, Recent Posts, Specialization Training Reviews, Sports Training & Performance, Strength Training
Interview with Justin Lawrence (Extreme Weight Loss Program Inventor.)
Interviewed by CB Reporter Ben Tatar
Justin Lawrence is the inventor of the Extreme Weight Loss program. Justin Lawrence is also a 27 year old strength Coach and also does fitness modeling and bodybuilding on the side. His entire life has revolved around health and fitness. He pursued Law Enforcement for a short period of time but realized it wasn’t for him although he did want a career that was meaningful and had purpose.
He recently decided to create an Extreme Weight Loss project where he would devote himself and many others for ONE YEAR to help transform someone’s life and help them lose 100 lbs!!! It’s been two months and the winner of the challenge/project has already lost 20/100 lbs! Let’s meet Justin Lawrence, the creator of the Extreme Weight Loss Program!
CRITICAL BENCH: Justin, tell Critical Bench readers about yourself!
My name is Justin Lawrence. I am 27 year old part-time Strength Coach and full-time Rec Supervisor at a 14 Million dollar Rec/Aquatic Center on the West Coast of Florida. I like to consider myself a “Fitness Entrepreneur”. I was born in Douglas County Georgia, raised in Ashley Falls, Massachusetts and since 8 I been in the Tampa Bay Area (Minus College).
My parents Rob & Ruth Lawrence have been married for over 30 years and I have older sister, Rael who is 31, and a beautiful girlfriend Paulina.
Ever since I was 8 I knew it was my dream to be a pro athlete. Everything about sports and the glamour of Professional Sports intrigued me, inspired me and motivated me. When the realism hit that I probably wouldn’t have the chance to be a pro athlete, I realized I wanted to train them. So in 2011, I started my own side business to start that venture.
Obviously it started small with just a few personal training clients and working with few local High schools, High school athletes, and college athletes but I felt as in I was headed in the right direction.
CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about your program “The EXWL Challenge.” How did it emerge? What motivated you to help millions get fit?
Well the only other career I considered and pursued was Law Enforcement. Lot of my friends and all my uncles were in high levels of it and I felt the need to find a meaningful career/purpose in life.
After doing well in the academy with a high B average, I hit a point where my heart wasn’t in it and I felt like that could be a danger to me and others. So I left. I struggled with the idea of Health/Fitness being a selfish career and hard to support a family on.
One day I was sitting at home and turned on my first episode of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss. I started to get so emotional watching it and I had no idea why, as I never struggled with weight. Then it just hit me.
This was my way to have it all; to pursue a career in what I loved and to have true purpose and meaning, to give back, and change someone’s life forever through my training. I instantly started planning my own version of the show. 4 months of planning, a total of 6 months after I saw that episode the birth of “The EXWL Challenge” was formed!
A 1-year fully sponsored program (Chick-fil-A being one of the main ones) to help the chosen individual lose 100 lbs safely and set them on a new and healthy life path. I gathered as many sponsors as I could to help them through any obstacle possible, eliminating any excuse for success.
Along with challenges to keep them motivated every weigh in (4 weigh-ins, every 3 months, 25 lbs + a weigh-in) I did online application first then invited those qualified individuals to a boot camp to perform basic set of exercises then personal interviews with a panel of 9 judges compiled of local business owners, health and beauty experts, fitness professionals, college students, local politicians and few average Joe’s.
We created a point system, tallied everyone one up, and then made a final decision. 32 year old (33 now) Joe Walsh ended up being the winner. He was the perfect fit. Starting weight 366 lbs. desperate need of a change yet hadn’t had the weight too long. Was athletic in HS so he understood what it took to be and maintain a healthy body, currently diet wasn’t terrible but not good enough to lose weight and didn’t smoke.
I wanted someone who was going to do it for themselves but yet again the love of your life is an acceptable reason for change. His 6 year old Daughter Maddy, who suffers from her own medical condition, would be enough to keep him fighting on his weak days.
Joe also lost his mother and father by High school so hardship and struggle is not something unfamiliar to him. I know he was the right fit and so far my gut hasn’t been wrong.
My goal was to start gradual but very consistent and functional. I want to create independence by the end of this year so when our time was up together he was fully equipped to continue his healthy lifestyle. We are currently about 3 months in, 2 days away from our official weigh-in.
We have seen great changes and are RIGHT on pace. Currently we train 6 days a week, with lot of low impact core and plyometric exercises with a nice mix of cardio, resistance and strength training.
Doing my best to get a wide-variety of exercise and to avoid muscle memory and limit our plateaus, making them as least frustrating as possible. We are shedding weight but developing muscle and turning fat into muscle so after the 100 lb weight loss, so Joe isn’t just a walking layer of extra skin.
Regardless Joe does talk about getting a skin tightening surgery, but as his main trainer I want to give him the option to not have to get that done. Let me know if you want more detail of actual training and diet! You can find more details at the facebook link below.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1382704885285313/ (Additional Videos and Pics, no specific Link for videos)
CRITICAL BENCH: It’s very admirable what you’re doing. What sports do you play?
I’ve played almost every sport competitively except Basketball. My first sport/love was Hockey. I played Right Wing and Goalie in Middle school and High school (Roller & Ice). I started running in High School too, more so distance. I played Hockey with my two best friends and one got into terrible automobile accident and almost died. For years he was limited and couldn’t play.
It wasn’t the same without him next season so I stopped playing and started focusing on other sports. I ended up running track in College (400M) at a small school in Washington State. I got bored just running though, so I bounced around to few different sports in my 20’s until I finally found my niche’ again.
I played Semi-Pro Soccer for almost two years (goalkeeper) and semi pro football for 4. I even gave MMA a try, getting into the cage after only 3 months of actual formal training (boxed friends a lot growing up).
Finally I realized I need to find a hobby/sport that would go along with the progression of my career or actually making money. Physique Bodybuilding starting getting big right around 2011-2012 so unfortunately it was a tough time to jump into it, but I had the dedication and previous training.
After my first show I was hooked and I have done 3 since my start in 2013. For little cross training and cardio I started playing hockey again and am a starting goalie in the TCHL. I also delve occasionally into charity events where I male model, fitness modeling and acting to help build my resume.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
Future goals are to have a lucrative full time job of training only. I want to get my first TV spot as a celeb or extreme weight loss trainer. If I can go back to school and finish my degree I would like to get my NSCA (C.S.C.S) and also become Strength Coach in the NFL or NCAA. Earning my IFBB Physique Pro Card is also a long-term goal of mine as well.
CRITICAL BENCH: Well, Justin, I’m sure your weight loss program/show will continue to help millions of people become in their best shape. Is there anything else you would like to say?
To promote a newly growing (senior based) sport at my job called Pickleball, Jeff Baker (current friend and fellow employee at the time) played for over 24 hours straight in 2011 and 2012 to set a new world record. If was not honored by Guinness like we hoped but World Record Academy did end up honoring it.
Click Here to Learn More About The World Record Academy. Also lot of people ask, but I got the nickname Justin “ironman” Lawrence not based off the superhero, but because of my whole athletic career I never was the best or most naturally gifted but always the toughest and hardest working. I also kept the nickname after getting my iron tear tattoos; it kind of summed it all up for me.
(Video of a workout/challenge I offered to my clients/viewers)
To Connect with Justin, visit his facebook fan page at https://www.facebook.com/exwlchallenge
Fisheye Wrestling Wins State Championship – Interview with Coach Jeff Fernandas
As told to CriticalBench.com by Steve Konopka
I’m here with Jeff Fernandas the head coach of FISHEYE WRESTLING in SIMSBURY/GRANBY CT
Q: First off congratulations on one heck of a season! Let’s go over all the state and New England placers from top to bottom because it’s pretty impressive!
Thank you…the team put in a lot of work to earn their success.
We started with 19 wrestlers at the qualifiers in Southington. 14 qualified for the state championships (top 16 in each weight class). Out if those 14, 7 made the finals. 9 state place winners in all that qualify for New England’s.
Zach johns – Intermediate Divison – 80 lbs-State Champion...also voted by the coaches as the OW (outstanding wrestler) of the tournament of that division. Season record 49-4.
Alexis Adams aka Lulu – Intermediate Divison – 75 lbs- 4th place 1 of two females to place at the State Tournament Season record 44-15
Ryan Finn – Novice Divison – 60 lbs 5th place..Season record 27-25
Ty Finn – Novice Divison – 75 lbs Runner upSeason record 42-8
At 95 lbs we had an all FishEye Final between Liam burnette – Novice Divison – 95 lbs runner up
Season record 36-13
Logan Fleming – Novice Divison – 95 lbs 6th State Champion..Season record 37-10
Hunter Adams – Novice Divison – 100 lbs State Champion – also voted by the coaches as the OW
(outstanding wrestler) of the tournament of that division. Season record 57-5
Miguel Gonzalez – Middle School Divison – 136 lbs-runner up Season record 49-7
Cooper Fleming – Middle School Divison – 112 lbs-runner up Season record 42-14
New England’s – held in North Andover mass. Top 5 in each state qualify. 6 of our 9 that qualified, placed.
Zach johns – Intermediate Divison – 80 lbs-runner up ..
Ryan Finn – Novice Divison – 60 lbs 6th place..
Ty Finn – Novice Divison – 75 lbs 5th place
Hunter Adams – Novice Divison – 100 lbs – 4th place
Miguel Gonzalez – Middle School Divison – 136 lbs 5th place
Cooper Fleming – Middle School Divison – 112 lbs -4th place
We also entered two girls in to the girls state championships . Both were champions.
We entered 4 wrestlers into the mighty might state championships (5-7 years old) and had two place winners.
Max Konopka 2nd place
Gabby johns 3rd place
High school division these are kids that work with us thru out the year in their offseason and before end
of the season tournements.
Dylan Houle canton. – 174 4th place class s
37 -8 as a senior
2014 4th Class S State
Skylar lang – 220 class s state champ, 3rd at opens, 3x state place winner. With me 5 years
43-3 as a senior
109-41 career record
KJ Fernandes 138…2nd in class LL state championships as a sophomore
31-7 as sophomore
Undefeated in the CCC west 6-o
74-29 as a jr Captain
Academic all league my sophomore year
Stuart Adams – first year wrestler- 6 th place class m 132
KONO: That’s some serious hardware your team has taken in this year! I especially like the two for two in the ladies state championships. The two OUTSTANDING WRESTLER AWARDS in one state tournament is remarkable. Zach Johns in the intermediate division and Hunter Adams in the Novice division!
Q :Give us little history on yourself with your wrestling background.
I grew up in Derby CT and attended Derby high. I wrestled for buster Jadach. Buster pretty much learned to wrestle from books, never wrestling himself. He was a football star. He is currently a member of the wrestling hall of fame and holds the record for most wins all time in the state of ct.
I’m a 4 time state place winner, including a state title.
I think what’s makes derby a special place is that you grow up with one word drilled in to you from the time your 7…Pride. When I was that age I played football.
We were allowed to use the varsity locker rooms for our home pop warmer games. As you walk in, there’s a poem at the top of the stairs in large red writing titled Pride. I, As well as all of my friends can still recite it today. That one concept had the 2nd smallest high school in ct winning housy title after housy title…state titles and even a couple over team rankings all the way up until moved away. Well, you can take the boy out of derby but you can’t take derby out of the boy.
Q: Let us know about the FISHEYE program and how it started.
The program started in 2009. I had been an assistant at another program and then was asked to run Simsbury youth wrestling. I did for one year. We were based in shs and could not practice if it snowed or if there was a play etc. the wrestlers were just not getting everything they needed. It was also based through parks and recs as a club team and that’s not who I am. I wanted serious commitment..I wanted to make champions and a park and rec club wasn’t the right fit for that goal.
We left the school in April of 2009 and ran our first session in southwick mass. It started with 8 wrestlers. In typical FISHEYE fashion we went to work. The practices are grueling at times but that’s what it takes to be great. There were complaints that it was too hard and three people quit. I was questioned as to why I just wouldn’t lighten up to grow the program. It’s my goal is to make champions,
if your quitting, you weren’t a wrestler to begin with. The wrestlers that stuck it out had nothing but success. We finished that session with 5 wrestlers. The original 5- My son KJ (finished at 32-7 and took second in LL this year as a sophomore) Dan Calzerette (he finished his junior year at 22-18 never placing.
His senior year after 6 mos at FEW he finished 41-7, 3rd in LL and a MAWA National all American, wrestled Division 1 at millersville university in pa) Ben Kibby (now in 7th grade and a 2x state champ), his brother Owen Kibby (sophomore, Granby high) and Ben Todd (who earned the most improved wrestler
award at shs that year).
Q: For being such a young club FISHEYE has had some very impressive success. What do you attribute this success to especially compared to some of the other clubs that have been running for 10-15 years?
Sacrifice, hard work and details. It’s an expectation that if you are at FEW that you will attend all practices and all tournaments. You are expected to miss the school dance, ski club, etc if they contrast with our schedule. The wrestlers show up on their birthdays because they know that’s what it takes to
Our wrestlers work very hard at practice to become talented. They are pushed past their limits to realize that they can go much further than they ever thought possible. They also realize that talent gets beat when talent doesn’t work hard. At FISHEYE we believe that details wins championships and I provide those details daily.
Q: FISHEYE has such a wide range of talent and age differences. How do you push kids like Hunter Adams and the other New England placers while not got getting the 5 and 6 year olds lost?
Work ethic- that’s the common theme. Put the work in and you will get to your goals. Whether your 55-5 or 0-50, 6 years old or 17, put in the work…there’s room to improve. Our more established wrestlers set an example of what takes to be a champion. They do this by doing the right things at practice and in the outside world. The 5 year olds up to the beginning middle school wrestlers see the work ethic and discipline and they follow suit. If you train like a madman, improvement is inevitable.
Q: I personally think wrestling builds some of the strongest character traits you would want to instill in a young person today. What are some of the traits you see developing in the wrestlers on your team year in and year out?
Words like sacrifice, pride, heart, work ethic, integrity, and self respect are not just tossed around lightly in our room. They are the concepts that we build our wrestlers on. As they grow you can watch it spread out in to their lives…school, family, etc.
In this day and age of “daddy ball” and the “everyone gets a trophy” crowd, our kids know that they deserve what they earn. They battle through losses and huge disappointments to grow and become stronger. They learn to battle through heartbreak and tough times to reach their goals…like in the real world. There’s no boss out there in the real world handing out participation salaries and in the long run they will be prepared for a tough world out there when they grow up. They learn that if they want to be great they have to work for it…not because daddies the head coach.
ONE WORD ANSWERS:
Favorite takedown move?
Whatever’s being given
Favorite pinning move?
Greatest wrestler of all time?
Dan gable/john smith
Favorite head gear?
Knee sleeves or no sleeves?
You can only do one exercise in the gym to train for next season what is it?
Anything that trains that explosion needed to attack. Kono’s opinion HANG CLEANS!
Favorite food after cutting weight all season?
Win Olympic gold in wrestling or a million dollars?
Q: 30 seconds left , state title on the line! Tied score your on top you have been taking this guy down all match but he has reversed you every time! What do you do? Fight the reversal and try to ride him out for overtime or let him up and go down by one and try for the take down.
This actually happened to me. Senior year I was down 4-0 with a minute left. I reversed the kid. He gets banged for stalling. At about 15 secs he gets hit again making the score 4-3..I throw in double legs and turn him. The ref counts 1..2 and the buzzer goes off to win my first state title
Kono: Wrestlers never forget big wins or loses! I remember every single almost in wrestling!
Q: Your son ( a fisheye product) Keith is a pretty accomplished wrestler in his own right. Keith placed second at the class LL championships and made it to the quarter finals at the Ct State Opens as just a sophomore at Simsbury high school. How different is it watching your son from the stands to your fisheye wrestlers from the corner of the mat.
It’s tough. I spent all weekend at new englands. Watching say zach johns in the finals and it is nerve racking. It’s the same feeling I get watching my son idk..wrestle off at practice. Haha. He’s my blood, the person I love most in this world. It’s just different when it comes to him.
KONO : I completely understand! I think I almost passed out three times a tournament watching!
Q: One thing I have noticed at the weekly tournaments is how close the wrestlers and their families are on the teams. I mean the first week of the season my son had 20 kids cheering for him in his first match ever and I was screaming at the top of my lungs for one of the Finn boys and honestly, I didn’t even know his name at the time. Why do you think wrestlers form such a close family type of team?
Respect- they spend their days competing against each other. They know what they go through individually and I think it brings them together. As a wrestling parent, you see firsthand what they go through and how hard they work. It’s tough to not root for kids like that.
Q: At the tournaments you can see such a huge bond with parents and there kids. I have seen parents shed some tears from being so proud of their child taking the mat, getting their first take down, fighting off their back or even winning their match. It must be so rewarding watching all these kids you have coached go out there and compete with everything you have taught them.
It is great to see them succeed. We have all been through a lot in 5 years. Watching the hard work pay off is unbelievable. To see the smiles as a kid walks off that mat as heor she just completed his goal…I mean..nothing compares to it.
Q: Let’s give a few details about how the USA-WRESTLING TOURNAMENTS are run. A lot of parents may not know how the wrestlers are paired up, how long matches are or how tourneys are lined up. I think parents would be surprised how hard the coaches work to pair up kids fairly so every age and skill level gets great matches to grow and develop?
Matches are 6 minutes long broken down to 3 2 minute periods. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time but the energy expended it tremendous. Everything is run by age and weight so it’s as fair as it can get.
There times a first year wrestler may be matched up to a wrestler who has been wrestling for 5 years but they are the same age and weight. Those are the tough matches that make you better! USA CT is doing a great job providing opportunities for our youth to wrestle.
Q: What are some of the goals for the future of FISHEYE WRESTLING?
To grow a bit, to get better, to continue to dominate opponents and give our Fisheye family what they need to succeed on and off the mat.
Q: Because of the hard work and discipline, wrestling isn’t for everyone compared to a game like t-ball. So what do you say to the parents that might be going back and forth on letting their child who is interested join the team.
In this day and age of everyone gets a trophy, wrestling is providing a safe and challenging environment to learn real world skills. Goal setting, work ethic, sacrifice and learning how to get back up and continue to battle when life knocks you down. My question would be, who wouldn’t want their child involved in
that kind of program.
KONO: I agree completely. Seeing kids work hard for something and achieve goals because of their hard work is rare these days! As for the future of FISHEYE, after personally seeing practices and the team wrestling in tournaments I don’t see anything else but a growing dominance by the FEW! Well this was awesome Jeff thanks for your time and all the best in the future for FISHEYE WRESTLING.
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.
Maryana Naumova Interview
Interviewed By Ben Tatar
Maryana Naumova has done something that no other girl has done. At the age of 13, Maryana has bench pressed 240lbs while weighing in at only 130lbs. There has never been a a girl younger than 15 years old, in any weight class, who has bench pressed what little 13 year old Maryna has benched. Let’s get to know her in this interview.
CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, tell us about yourself.
Hi! My name is Maryana. I’m 13 years old. I’m from the Russia, Moscow region. I was raised in the small city of Khimki, a suburb of Moscow. My height’s 173 cm 5’8. My weight is 64 kg, 140lbs. Last year, in May, my heightwas 164 cm which means that in less than 1 year I have grown about 9 centimeters.
My best RAW bench press is 110 (kg./240 lb.). I was doing a bench press with a board height of 7 cm with a weight of 287lbs. for 2 reps.
Many call me “Red Princess of Barbell” or “Red Bench Monster.” I like it.
CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, at 13 you benched 240lbs RAW as a female. This is INSANE. (hahaha.) How do people respond to your insane bench pressing ability? How do younger people respond? What about females? What about males who are your age? what about males over 20?
Everyone gives an absolutely different reaction.
I have a lot of fans and people supporting me who write and tell me kind words. They tell me how they see me as an example and that I motivate them.
However, there are a lot of haters who are envious.
CRITICAL BENCH: What do the haters say to you?
They write nasty things about me such as I use steroids, that my parents force me to do the bench press and I that I’m hurting myself. These are bad people.
CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any gym stories involving haters? Do the haters bother you?
I notice that when I come to train, the guys who bench less than me, get frustrated and they leave the gym. They completely stop training.
It’s cool.) This motivates me to lift more weight.
CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, you need to help some of the guys out it looks like, haha. What are your top 10 tips to a bigger bench press?
I do not have Top 10 Tips))))).
I recently read a book by Arnold Schwarzenegger and I realized that I’m doing everything the way he advises.
The most important tip is to have a goal and achieve it by any means necessary. You also have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that anything is possible. This goes for any goal you want to achieve.
If your goal is to bench press more than others, you have to understand that you need a good coach and a gym that has everything you need. You need to eat adequate food and get good sleep & rest.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are the 5 reasons why lots of people aren’t hitting their full potential on the bench press?
There are several reasons for which people do not achieve success in the bench press.
- improper training.
- too frequent changes in the training program. People read too much on the Internet, are constantly changing training plans as they think that would be better. And as a result, they do not progress with their goal. Any training program requires time.
- poor nutrition.
- too much training and not enough recovery.
- bad warm up – this leads to injuries.
This are things that are necessary to avoid.
CRITICAL BENCH: When did you discover you were so strong? What got you started in bench pressing?
My father is an athlete. His friends are also athletes and champions whom all got me started. I have known them since childhood and I liked them. I watched films with Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is my idol.)
My father competed in the bench press competition. He took me with him when I was 10. I wanted to try it and that is how it all started.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
I do not want to be the strongest woman. The sport of female powerlifiting will require that you take performance enhancing drugs which I do not want to do.
Perhaps when I am 18, I will not set a bench press record.
I want to try body fitness. I have many girl friends who compete in this sport. I want be an example to their peers, not only in Russia, but all over the world.
I fought a lot on TV, I go to schools, meeting with children and I propagandize a power sport. It’s cool!
CRITICAL BENCH: Maryana, do you have a favorite bench presser?
I have a big dream – to get acquainted with Ryan Kennelly. I am familiar with all of the coolest benchers. I still want to meet him).
CRITICAL BENCH: Hopefully, you and Kennelly can one day meet. What do you enjoy doing away from weight training?
I study at school. I enjoy doing photography, and I have pets. I have rabbits that I love and a younger sister.
CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any crazy stories that you would like to share?
I have a story about my classmate who I gave some of my protein chocolate bars to.
He ate it and then his parents promised to take my parents to court. His parents believed that the boy will have health problems, and they are blaming sports nutrition. Now I will not give protein chocolate bars to classmates. I eat them myself.)))))
CRITICAL BENCH: What a story. Maryana, way to make history in the iron world while being so young! It has been a pleasure getting to talk to you today. In Closing is there anyone who you would like to thank?
Yes, I have recourse to the iron world.
I want to thank my parents, they help me a lot. I also want to thank my coach Vyacheslav Solovyov. Without him I would have failed. He – a great coach!
I want thank the company ProMeraSports and my friends – James Stoppani, Dan Onishuk and Mike Bridges. These are very good people, they helped me a lot in the U.S., the Arnold Classic. I’m very grateful! I would like to thank Critical Bench for the interview and I also would like to thank the company http://www.onetwotrip.com, which helps me with air tickets.
Interview with Big Man Teiko Reindorf As told to CriticalBench.com by Ben Tatar
CRITICAL BENCH: Teiko, tell us about yourself.
My name is Teiko Reindorf aka TKO , aka the Enforcer, aka the Chocolate Thunder.
I am a personal trainer/ ex- bouncer based out of Toronto, Canada and it is my personal mission to make Big Men Strong.
With that said, I want to clarify something about my interpretation of strength. It isn’t just what you do in the weight room or on the field. The strength I’m talking about applies to all areas of your life. Hopefully you’d like to join me on that journey.
CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about what you do and your website.
My website is called Teikoreindorf.com and it is the one and only site on the web that teaches big men how to become strong and little men how to become BIG.
On my site you will find articles about training, stories from my days working the door at seedy Toronto nightclubs as and frequent updates detailing my experiences as a trainer in downtown Toronto.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your top 10 training tips to getting as huge and ripped as possible? (What are your tips without having to constantly sacrifice one for the other.)
– Huge is a mindset… it’s something you decide you want to become. Once that decision is made, everything becomes easy
– I’ve never met anyone who became big by talking about it. Get under the bar!
– Until I see one of these so called ectomorphs carry five meals to work and eat em – I ain’t listening to any excuse why they can’t grow.
– When it comes to mass, volume is king
– When it comes getting strong, focus on intensity.
– It’s impossible to grow when you are injured. Put time aside for soft tissue work and recovery.
– Eat real food whenever possible, people have been getting big and strong way before we started taking supplements.
– You know that exercise you hate to do? That’s the one that will get you stronger.
– Train with like-minded people. If your training partner whines or misses workouts – ditch him, he doesn’t respect your time or training goals.
– There will be a time when you won’t be able to put up the numbers you once did… until that time comes – go all out.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are the 5 biggest mistakes you see other lifters make?
– Trying to talk their way into a physique. All of that theory doesn’t matter when a weight is bearing down on you.
– Not knowing when to back off. Sometimes your body has had enough, you’ve gotta learn to listen to it.
– Ignoring their blind spots. Everyone has a lift they excel at (whooptyfreakin doo) the guys I respect are the ones who figure out how to get better at the things they suck at.
– Not warming-up properly. It doesn’t matter when you are twenty and full of piss n vinegar but once you start getting older skipping warm-up is a recipe for disaster.
– Going to gyms where they play Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry. Your environment is everything. If you are around studs, you will become a stud.
– Lifting has become huge. Everyone is training now. The industry will further splinter off into little cells like it has been. I’d also like to see someone develop a system, which incorporates the best of all training systems, but I think that is a long ways away.
CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about your diet. Do you have any special diet tips for bulking or cutting?
LOL diet? Hold on lemme put away these chips.
No seriously though, I’ve been a big boy my whole life and after many failed attempts at dieting… I am done with diets. My advice to people is to eat real food and train hard. Don’t bother being too militant with your diet unless you are stepping on stage somewhere.
CRITICAL BENCH: If people visit your website Teikoreindorf.com, big guys can learn how to get stronger. Why do you think there are so many huge guys that are weak?
Huge guys are weak because they are lazy or are doing the wrong type of training.
The laziness is a direct result of being blessed with big boy genes, when you don’t have to work quite as hard for size – it becomes really easy to get complacent.
In terms of inappropriate training… this all falls back on the whole bodybuilding thing. Almost everyone who gets into strength training cuts their teeth with bodybuilding. Most people realize somewhere along the way that bodybuilding, though effective for size – stinks when it comes to building strength.
The big guys you see who haven’t been able to move past this are the same ones who never get any stronger.
CRITICAL BENCH: Also, why are so many small guys strong but not huge?
It’s gotta be the whole Napoleon complex thing. A lot of small guys go extra hard in the gym to offset their size, it’s a bit of a gift and a curse. When done properly it can yield massive results but if unchecked… it generally leads to burn-out or injury.
CRITICAL BENCH: what should huge guys who are weak do differently to be strong?
Aside from man-up?
Honestly I think your success is largely based on who you train with. I’ve made my best gains in size and strength by training with people who force me to train harder. Hmm now that I think about it, my best training partners have all been little guys!
In short, if your training partner isn’t borderline psycho about sticking to a training plan – get a new one.
CRITICAL BENCH: Do most people want to be huge or strong?
Personally I think most people wanna be both huge and strong. I never buy it when a guy tells me he doesn’t wanna be too big and I’ve never heard anyone say they don’t wanna be stronger. Guys who say things like that don’t believe they can be bigger or stronger so they try to downplay it.
CRITICAL BENCH: Tieko, what is it about weight training that you just love?
It’s a vehicle for transformation. When I started training I was a fat little butterball. Through my dedication to the iron, I’ve evolved into something much greater. Nowadays I try to convince people to call me The Chocolate Thunder. That never would have happened if I had never lifted weights.
CRITICAL BENCH: In closing is there anything else you would like to say?
Just that training should be more than just something physical you do. Each time you walk into the gym you are faced with an opportunity to test yourself and you should never forget that.
Go Big Or Go Home
A Free gift from Teiko:
Is Intensity Overrated?
By Tyler Bramlett
Over the last decade I’ve seen high intensity training come in and out of favor. One week we call it the devil’s incarnate and the next we decided that it will cure cancer. In this short article I want to share with you the positives and negatives of high intensity training and answer the question, “is intensity overrated”?
To start out, we need to identify the purpose of using high intensity in your workouts. Here’s 3 Reasons high intensity can benefit you and your workouts:
- Building Massive Amounts Of Muscle
- Skyrocketing Your Metabolism Into Overdrive
- Forging Elite Mental Toughness
Sounds good right?
But let’s not forget the downsides of high intensity training. Here’s 3 reasons why high intensity training can hurt you and your workouts:
- Nervous System Burnout
- General Fatigue And Overtraining
So… What makes the difference between training at a high intensity being of benefit for you or destroying you?
Well, the way I see it is that way to many people focus on intensity as their only variable of quantifying results. They forget about things like volume, density and movement complexity, which can be useful components to manipulate in any workout program.
You see, hanging your hat merely on intensity without determining these other variables is a recipe for disaster and must be remedied if you want to safely use high intensity training in your workouts.ee it is that way to many people focus on intensity as their only variable of quantifying results. They forget about things like volume, density and movement complexity, which can be useful components to manipulate in any workout program.
The rest of this article will be spent teaching you exactly how I apply this when I design programs for my clients. It is divided into 3 different phases that you can use to upgrade your workouts, learn to move like a pro and bust through your plateaus!
Phase 1 – Movement Competency
A mentor of mine Pavel Tsatsouline once said to me, “you can only fire a cannon from a canoe once.” What he meant by this is that a canoe doesn’t have the structure to endure the intensity of the cannon. Unfortunately this is why most people get injured.
Take for example the squat. If all you ever do is add more and more lbs to the squat over and over again. You may end up being the proud owner of a powerful 5, 6 or 700lb squat, but will you be able to do that for a long and consistent period of time?
My bet is on NO!!
I aim instead to build muscles that look as good as they perform. How I do this is by focusing exclusively on Movement competency first and foremost.
What is movement competency?
It’s really just a sexy way of saying “good form”. If you have good form, if your muscles are firing properly in the proper sequence then you can move onto phase 2. But… If you move to phase 2 before you are ready, you will battle injuries and plateaus for the rest of your life!!
Seek out a good coach (there’s not too many around these days) who knows movement and have them help you reach a high level of movement competency first and foremost before ever adding substantial load to any movement.
Another thing I will leave you with before moving onto phase 2 is the following quote, “Practice doesn’t make perfect… Perfect practice makes perfect.” Truer words are seldom spoken!
Phase 2 – Increase Volume And Density (To Hone Movement Competency)
Once you are able to move correctly, you must go from consciously performing a movement perfectly to unconsciously performing a movement perfectly.
This is what separates the pros from the amateurs! Think of a time when you watched your favorite sport. Think about a moment you remember when you witnessed an athlete do something that you may have considered impossible, but made it look easy or like it was second nature.
This is what you need to aim for!!
When starting this article you may not even have known that you didn’t know. This is called unconscious incompetence. This is the person who works out with bad form and never knows that they have bad form.
Once you understand that what may be keeping you injured or at a standstill with your gains is your movement competency as in phase 1 you move onto a stage psychologists call conscious incompetence. You are now aware of the fact that you move like doo doo.
By following phase 1 you will move onto the next stage known as conscious competence where you know how to move well, with good form but you must be thinking about it in order for it to happen.
By following these guidelines from phase 2 you will then move from the “amateur” conscious competence to the “professional” unconscious competence, where you don’t have to think and you still move well.
Ok… A lot of psych mumbo jumbo, how do you bridge the gap and move like a pro?
You increase your volume and density over a period of time focusing on ALWAYS maintaining perfect form 100% of the time.
Here’s an example of how this can be accomplished over an 8-week period if we were talking about an exercise like the squat.
- Week 1 – 3 Sets Of 6 Reps Doing 1 Set Every 4 Minutes (Use A Weight You Can Do Every Rep With Perfect Form)
- Week 2 – 4 Sets Of 8 Reps Doing 1 Set Every 3 Minutes (Same Weight)
- Week 3 – 5 Sets Of 10 Reps Doing 1 Set Every 2.5 Minutes (Same Weight)
- Week 4 – 6 Sets Of 8 Reps Doing 1 Set Every 2 Minutes (Same Weight)
- Week 5 – 6 Sets Of 10 Reps Doing 1 Set Every 2 Minutes (Same Weight)
- Week 6 – 7 Sets Of 8 Reps Doing 1 Set Every 90 Seconds (Same Weight)
- Week 7 – 7 Sets Of 10 Reps Doing 1 Set Every 90 Seconds (Same Weight)
- Week 8 – 8 Sets Of 12 Reps Doing 1 Set Every 90 Seconds (Same Weight)
Each of these workouts will only take you 12 minutes and the benefits of practicing perfect movement and steadily increasing volume and density are enormous. Not to mention you may see a sudden spike in lean muscle being added to your frame from the increased volume.
If moving like a pro, increasing your gains and busting through your plateaus peaks your interest, I highly suggest you spend just 8 weeks following this protocol and watch as you go from moving like a chump to moving like a champ!!
Phase 3 – Now You Can Get Intense!!
Once you’ve rebuilt the way you move and ingrained it in your brain so it has become second nature. Then you can add intensity.
What does this mean?
This means it is now the right time to lift heavy, move faster, kick ass and take names!!!
By the inch it’s a cinch, and by the yard it is hard. Be smart, train smarter and remember… Don’t be an amateur, be a pro!!
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January 24, 2013 by Mike Westerdal
Filed under Bench Press, Bodybuilding and Muscle Building, Interviews, Muscle Building, Powerlifter Interviews, Powerlifting, Recent Posts, Strength Training, Training, Uncategorized
Interviewed by Ben Tatar
CB: Ryan, tell Critical Bench readers a little about yourself.
RL: I am Ryan “6 Pack” Lapadat, 33 years old, from Toronto, Ontario. I have been weight lifting since I was 13, and plan on doing it until the day I die.
When I was a little boy I loved superheroes. I suppose most little boys do, but I genuinely believed I was going to grow up to be a superhero. My friends and I would have discussions on what our super power would be if we could only choose one. Some of my friends chose the power of flying, some the power of speed, but I always chose the power of super strength. In class I would day dream of one day growing up to become a real life superhero who used his super strength to help people.
By the time I became an adult those dreams had all passed. I was conditioned to accept those dreams as merely the imagination of a young boy who did not understand people’s physical limitations. Until some one close to me got sick, suddenly, and passed away. I had just won the National Championships for Powerlifting. The newspapers were interviewing me about my accomplishment when I proclaimed that I wanted to make a difference with my strength.
I went on a city-to-city tour of cancer camps for kids, pulling 26,500 pound school buses 100 feet. The tour made headlines across the country, raised thousands of dollars for sick kids, and more importantly raised hope for those that needed it most. That tour was followed by several large televised events with me flipping over cars, pulling airplanes, lifting bleachers full of people, and rolling up frying pans with my hands. Guinness World Records in strength were shattered. All these events raised money for sick kids. The largest was my appearance on Canada’s Got Talent, seen by 1.5 million viewers. 6 Pack Lapadat quickly became a symbol that anything is possible, any goal was feasible, and no dream was unrealistic if a boy could grow up to be a superhero.
Ryan Lapadat was a normal man. 6 Pack Lapadat became a real life superhero and symbol of hope. I have done many feats of strength in my day, but my greatest feat is making people believe in miracles again.
CB: Ryan, you recently won the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation’s (WDFPF) championship with a dramatic come-from-behind victory with the last deadlift of the competition. It was a huge upset win that capped off an incredible year. Tell us about that.
RL: We were lifting in the 90KG unequipped division. It was a true 90KG weight division, with same day weigh-ins and drug testing.
The leads the American and Ukrainian champions had gained in the Squat and Bench Press events were so great I found myself in third place with only one deadlift attempt left in the competition. It could not be more dramatic. Or could it?
I had promised my girlfriend’s dad I would win the World Championships and propose to his daughter. In my mind it was destiny, and I was going to make that final lift to win it all no matter how much weight it was. I wanted a day that our grand kids would recall in generations to come like a fairytale.
I could have lifted a relatively “safe” 585 lbs. for an assured bronze or risk it all for the Gold. Two months prior I failed at a 600 lbs deadlift in competition. I would need to lift more than that if I was to win.
I summoned the strength to lift a personal best 610.5 pounds. It was more than 3 times my body weight. It was a huge come-from-behind, all-or-nothing, attempt that ended up cementing the biggest upset victory of the World Championships. I won the World Championships, but more importantly I got engaged to the love of my life! My fairytale was complete.
And they both lived happily ever after…
CB: What was it like being on Canada’s Got Talent?
RL: Scary! I am sure every one has seen shows from the ‘Got Talent’ series. Dozens of countries around the world have this TV series, and it is very popular. Canada’s Got Talent booked the Toronto Convention Centre for the Toronto showcase show. As a powerlifter, I am use to performing in front of a crowd. However, this was nothing like a powerlifting meet. The Toronto Convention Centre was packed wall to wall. There were cameras all over the place, even back stage! The show was to be seen by over a million people, and newspapers across the country did write-ups about it.
No pressure eh?
I was going on the show to perform feats of strength. I knew the show was not designed for my talent, so I had to go big and impress early if I was going to be able to advance. The first round, the audition rounds, I pulled an airplane! My audition tape of me towing the plane is here.
The next round I took it a step further and squatted a bleacher full of cheerleaders and kids! I squatted 6 reps in 30 seconds, and every rep was $200 for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I got a ‘yes’ from all three judges. I told the judges that I was not in it to win the money, I wanted to make a statement. I promised to give away the $100,000 grand prix if I was to win. The video of that round is here and here’s what was said about me.
“Your heart is as great as your strength” – Martin Short, Canada’s Got Talent judge
“To say it was impressive would be an understatement” – TV Guide
I was eventually cut by the judges before the finals, but made it further than I had expected as a strongman. I was proud to represent powerlifting and strongman.
CB: Tell us about your own TV show on OLN and CityTV.
RL: Canada’s Got Talent was my first introduction to major television. I had been networking in the industry and the opportunity to audition for a show called Get Stuffed came up. The show takes four people from four different competitive backgrounds and pits them in competitions where their backgrounds can’t help them.
Two of the four face off each episode. The four cast members stay the same the whole series, but the face-offs change as they rotate which of the four cast members compete. I was proud to represent powerlifting/strongman on the show. It was a lot of fun.
This was my second nationally televised show, but this time I was a permanent cast member. It helped open even more doors for me. It also helped bring more light on the sport of powerlifting. In Canada, as with America, powerlifting athletes never got that much attention.
CB: Tell Critical Bench readers about the Guinness World Records that you set in weight lifting? I see you have two. Also explain the mental process in achieving them.
RL: I have been performing feats of strength for sick kid’s charities for the past 5 years now. It is a cause close to my heart. On July 16th, 2010, I broke two Guinness World Records in one day. I attempted the 1 hour Squat record, and the 1 hour Deadlift record, both in the same day. It was the hardest thing I ever attempted in my life. I literally trained for 4 months straight, every day, I squatted or deadlifted for four hours straight. When I say I deadlifted or squatted for four hours straight, I mean every 30 seconds I had to lift 5-6 reps. The weight would fluctuate.
It was the most brutal training of my life. One day I did 8 hours of deadlifting, with a set being lifted every 30 seconds. It was to test if I would break mentally.
I almost did get to that the point. You hit a wall, and literally almost break down emotionally in the gym. It is a weird feeling. I was deadlifting at 3am, just to make it even more difficult on myself. I wanted to push myself to the limit in training and prove to myself that I could not be broken mentally. There are bigger and stronger men out there, but I’ll be damned if some one is going to be stronger mentally. I’ll let my body fall to pieces and walk through hell before I quit.
At the end of the day, two Guinness World Records were broken for a local sick kid’s hospital. The kids and parents got a powerful message about mind over matter. We humans have will and pride, and those are tough to break, even when our bodies do.
The video produced by FUSION bodybuilding is here.
CB: Tell us about your experience competing in the World Championships of Powerlifting? How did you celebrate after you won?
RL: That was the third World Championships I qualified for. It is a lot of hard work to make it that far in Powerlifting, hours and hours of work in the gym.
The first World Championships I qualified for (82.5 KG, unequipped), I failed to place. I was so far behind the Gold medalist it was as if there was an extra event in his total I hadn’t shown up for, lol.
I didn’t pay it no mind, though. I did my best and stuck to my game plan. I kept at it, and as the years went by I qualified for the Single Lift World Championships in the 90KG weight class (unequipped). That time I was able to place and bring home some medals.
However, it was not the three lift Powerlifting World Championships. I had unfinished business in the 3 lift. This last World Championships was for the three lift World title, and it was my third World Championships. I felt I was ready. I refused to be denied.
As for celebrating, we were in Boston, and went to a restaurant called the Prudential. It is 52 stories up, overlooks the whole city with glass walls, and has a live Jazz band. Classy stuff. We ate like royalty, drank champagne, and lived it up for the night.
CB: What is your advice for others to get strong? Give us ten tips for super human strength!
RL: Funny you ask, I just recently wrote an article giving ten tips to increase strength. I go into more detail than I could here, so allow me to drop the link here and suggest readers give that article a peak. Keep in mind, strength some times comes at the expense of cardio endurance. If your goal is strength, please do read on…
CB: What are your 10 tips for an amazing Squat?
RL: 1) Foot placement for balance can be critical!
Once a lifter is accustomed to the Squat, he (or she) will adjust his foot placement to his specific liking. Often Powerlifters and bodybuilders who have been squatting for years will develop their own squatting style (whether sumo stance, shoulder width, or narrow for bounce at the bottom). For beginners, I would suggest feet shoulder width apart, with the toes pointing out on a 45 degree angle. This will help with balance during the Squat. The feet point out on a 45 degree angle will also force the knees to flare outwards, instead of bow inwards, during the lift. The knees pushing out helps turn on the muscles along the posterior chain (the hamstrings and glutes).
2) Take a full breath of air and hold it!
I know your gym teacher taught you to blow out when you lift weights. Your gym teacher was wrong. Picture a large balloon. We are going to put a small rock on this large balloon. If the ballon is not fully inflated, the weight of the rock will push this balloon forward or backward, and change the form of the ballon. This is what happens when your body is not tight and full of air during the Squat.
When you Squat, it is important to take a full breath of air to inflate that balloon. Now the small rock will sit on the balloon, and not cause the balloon to pitch forward or backward, or loose it’s form.
3) Wrap the bar around your body!
I know, literally speaking, it is impossible to take the barbell, and wrap it around your body. However, when you place the barbell on the bottom of your traps and prepare to squat, I want you to try your hardest to do just that! Clinching the barbell and pulling inward as if attempting to bend the bar around your upper body will tighten your back and shoulders. Again, picture the large balloon. You need the balloon to keep it’s form and stay inflated to balance the small rock on top of it. If you are loose up top, you will pitch forward in your squat and loose form. This will put stress on the lower back.
Taking a full breath of air and clinching the barbell as if to wrap it around you will tighten your upper body up, and engage all the muscles in your core and back. This will greatly improve your balance, and also help strengthen your upper body and core, during the lift.
4) Point your elbows toward the ground!
After you have placed your feet, taken a breath of air, and tightened your upper body, a lifter should point their elbows toward the ground. The elbows should remain pointing towards the ground at all times. Picture your elbows as the steering wheel, and your upper body as the wheels. If your elbows point to the ground, your upper body is being directed to stay upright. If your elbows begin to point backwards on a 45 degree angle (which is the most common placement for those who Squat improperly), then the upper body will be directed to pitch forward. This will in turn put a lot of pressure on the lower back. The pressure on the lower back will then work it’s way down the chain and cause the body to adjust and put more pressure on your knees.
It is important to keep your chest out and facing forward. Have a friend look to see if your elbows are pointing to the ground or backwards on a 45 degree angle when you squat. Often lifters are unaware of the placement of their elbows. Or they begin with the elbows pointing down, but shift them on an angle as they Squat closer to parallel.
5) Look up on a 45 degree angle!
I see people looking at themselves in the mirror all the time when they squat. The best way to keep balance is to remain upright and tight. The body will naturally want to pitch forward with the weight of the barbell on your back as you Squat. Keeping your head tilted on a 45 degree angle upwards, with your eyesight the same, will help keep your upper body upright. Like a person who is beginning to drive, if they look one direction they automatically start steering toward that direction ever so slightly. This is the same with the Squat. Help direct your body in the right direction by controlling your head placement (wrestlers and other athletes already understand the need to keep your head up when lifting).
6) Break at the hips, not the knees!
Once you have completed steps 1-5, you are ready to start lowering into the squat (I know, you never thought there was so much to do with the upper body when Squatting, but now you see why I cringe when people think Squatting is for the legs only). Perhaps lowering into the Squat is not the right wording, as you are not so much lowering as you are sitting backwards.
Attempt to keep your knees in the same place while you break at the hips and push your butt backwards as if you are trying to touch an imaginary wall behind you with it. You keep sitting backward, not sitting straight down, reaching for that wall. The wall is not there, so you end up lowering downwards the further back you reach. This movement, when keeping your upper body tight, will cause you to feel as though your are coiling a spring. A tight upper body is critical to keeping balance. So is flaring your knees outward and not forward or inward.
7) Do not let your knees go past your toes!
A good indication you are not sitting backward, and are in fact sitting straight down too much, is if your knees are drifting past your toes. If that is the case, you are no longer loading up your hamstrings and glutes properly, your upper body is pitching forward too much, and your are putting extra pressure and strain on your lower back and knees.
Just like the elbows, ask a friend to watch you squat and to pay attention if your knees drift over your toes. If they are, a red flag should be set off that your are doing something wrong. Likely you need to tighten your upper body and sit further back in your Squat.
A good way to practice sitting back with the Squat is to grab a bench and to place it directly in the middle of the Squat rack. Your feet will be placed straddling the bench, and you will sit backward onto the bench. You do not sit down onto the bench! You never even touch the bench with our butt. You actually are aiming to touch the bench with your inner thighs. This will make you push your butt out and activate your glutes and hamstrings (which powerlifters call “the seat of power”). You merely touch the bench with your inner thighs as a marker for sitting backward, and rise back up as soon as they do touch. Some times spreading the knees at the bottom of the Squat helps the lifter to achieve the proper depth while not letting their knees drift over their toes. It is at the bottom of the Squat that most lifters have problems keeping their knees back.
8) A flat back is not enough, a proper Squat has an arched back!
Most males Squat with a flat back when they first start out. I have noticed it’s not natural for them to arch their backs when sitting backward into the Squat. This limits the activation of the posterior chain (“The seat of Power”), and ultimately limits the strength and gains the lifter will get out of the lift. It also puts stress on the lower back. Arching the lower back will help the glutes and hamstrings turn on, and keep the upper body tight and flexed. A flat back limits all this by taking the brunt of the lift.
If mastering the arch in the lower back is a problem, I suggest squatting onto a bench as mentioned in step 7. You’ll be able to tell if you’re squatting with an arch in the lower back by what hits the bench. If it’s your butt, arch your lower back more. If it’s your thighs, you’re on point (again, you are not sitting onto the bench, just touching it and then coming back up).
9) Drive upward when in “the hole”!
“The hole” is what powerlifters and bodybuilders call the bottom of the squat. It is important to understand that “the hole” is not a quarter of the way down, or halfway down. “The Hole” is just below parallel. That means you need to squat so the upper part of your leg is parallel to the ground, then the dip just a bit lower so the crook of your hip breaks parallel. That is a full Squat. No less. Any less than that, and you are training partials. Partials are also useful (even lock outs), but should never be mixed up with calling them Squats.
Once in the hole, a lifter is at the most vulnerable part of the lift. They are also at the part of the lift that makes them work the most and gives them the most gains and benefits. That is why it is important to always Squat into the hole, and break parallel with the crook of the hip. Like mentioned before, get a friend to see if you are Squatting low enough (along with if you are keeping your elbows pointing toward the ground, your knees back from your toes, and your head up, chest out).
Once you hit the hole, fire with everything you got to drive upward. Do not pitch forward. Concentrate your force to drive upward. Keeping your chest out, your elbows down, and your head pointing upward will all help with the direction of your drive. If you are looking forward, and your elbows are pointing backward on an angle, than your body is going to be pitched forward slightly. This makes it a lot harder to drive upward. It makes the lift inefficient, and stresses the wrong parts of the lifter.
10) Wash, rinse, and repeat!
Once you have completed the lift, you go through steps 1-10 all over again for every single rep of every single set. That is the rule. That is the unspoken law. The one rep you get lazy on can be the one time you injure yourself (especially when you start to move up in weight).
Getting lazy with your set up will result in diminished results. Properly Squatting will increase muscularity and strength for your whole body, not just your legs! Your arms are flexed pulling on the bar. Your back and shoulder blades are tight and flexed from the pull on the bar. Your chest is out and head up, activating your core and midsection. Your sitting back on the Squat activates the full lower part of your body correctly and efficiently.
When you have mastered the Squat, these 10 steps will not take long to do. In fact, a lifter can set up a squat with all 10 points in a second between every rep once they have them down. However, it is important for a lifter to rehearse these steps with light weight until they have them to memory. To do so, have a friend watch your Squat from the side and to look for the following…
-Is your head up?
-Are your elbows pointing down?
-Did you take a big breath?
-Are your knees drifting over your toes? Are your knees flaring outward like they should in the hole?
-Are you breaking parallel with the crook of your hip?
Thats it for now. Now go Squat. You can thank me later when you see the results!!
CB: What are the 5 biggest mistakes that you see other weight lifters make?
RL: 1)I see people doing ONLY partial squats. Some people are doing quarter squats and thinking they are parallel. Some are doing parallel and thinking they are ass to the grass. There is a major difference in the gains you get from squatting a short range of motion constantly and squatting a full range of motion. Partial squats have a place in your workout routine, but they should not be the only squatting you do.
2) Not enough free weights! People who say they never see any gains in size and strength are usually the people who stick to the machines. They might get adventurous and try out a smith machine to bench, squat or dead. You will not see proper gains unless you use free weights. Usually, people don’t use free weights because they don’t know proper technique and are intimidated. This is understandable, but ask some one who does know their way around the free weights. Otherwise you will have a low ceiling on your gains.
3) Overuse of wrist straps to keep their grip on the barbell. This will drop your grip strength significantly. Use chalk, or a chalk substitute. You are only as strong as your grip strength. If you need a strap to keep that bar in your hands, than you can’t lift that bar.
4) Getting advice from the wrong places! Be careful where you get your advice from. I see people “training” friends in the gym a lot. Most of the time they are just ordinary gym guys who are taking friends to the gym and showing them how to lift. I know their heart is in the right place, but sometimes they are teaching improper techniques. Being a gym rat does not make you a personal trainer. In most gyms, there will be only a dozen people who know how to Squat and Deadlift properly.
5) People often don’t train a proper routine to hit their whole body evenly. I hear people say every body part gets a full day, so they are hitting their body evenly. Arms, back, chest, shoulders, and legs all get a day of workout.
That’s great, but is your lower body from your waist down 1/5 of your body? No. So why are you training it only 1/5 of your gym days? This is why most people have over developed upper bodies and under developed legs. It is also why most people are amazed at the numbers powerlifters can lift. They don’t realize how strong they could be if they trained properly. Your glutes and hams are your seat of power. Most people are not unlocking that secret to strength. It’s a shame.
CB: What would you like to see change in the iron game?
RL: It is a dream of mine to have Powerlifting in the Olympics. That would pretty much change the game, in all respects, for the best. There would be one federation, with universal equipment rules, drug testing, and mainstream recognition (with media and sponsorships that come with that). There could still be professional federations with multi-gear, and no drug testing. Every sport has professional ranks.
CB: So far in your iron journey list us a) a great moment, b) a crazy moment c) a funny moment and d) a moment that changed you forever.
RL: The greatest moment of my Iron Journey was winning the World Championships of Powerlifting (WDFPF). Being such a big underdog, and coming from behind like that to win it all with the very last deadlift – it was like a movie. I always dreamed of it happening and I always played out a dramatic scene for it, but I never could have dreamed a better story. It was perfect.
The craziest moment was when I tried to pull two planes connected together by a rope, live on National TV. The first plane started to move and then the second plane jack knifed the rope broke, lol, It was a mess.
A moment that changed my life was when I won the National Championships and went on tour to visit Cancer Camps for kids. I pulled 26,500 lbs. school buses. I met some amazing kids and their families and saw things I’ll never forget. It was bitter sweet. I won’t go into detail, but there are some moments I’ll never forget.
CB: What are your future goals?
RL: I look forward to defending my World Championship in Scotland next year. I look forward to continuing my television career, and pushing 6 Pack Lapadat, Inc. even further. I have made a lot of strides in the past few years and built my brand. I hope to continue this. I have several projects in the works that will be big for me and for Powerlifting/Strongman.
I also plan on pulling another plane this year for charity, and doing more charity work for kids now that I am Champ for the year. As long as I can, I want to represent the sport of powerlifting properly, and use my marketing degree to bring media and public attention to the sport.
CB: Do you have any funny or interesting stories that you would like to share?
RL: At my first Nationals I was in a rush and couldn’t find two matching socks. I had to wear one black and one white deadlift sock. I won the Nationals and ever since I wear one black and one white deadlift sock for good luck.
I also took the chalk and drew “superhero muscles” on my lifting suit. I drew in a 6 Pack on my stomach. No one knew who I was, because it was my first Nationals, so people called me 6 Pack.
I won, and the newspapers called me 6 Pack and ever since I have been 6 Pack Lapadat. I have been on two TV shows in Canada, and in both of them as 6 Pack Lapadat. I get booked for appearances, and I am always 6 Pack Lapadat.
Life is funny, you can’t call it. I drew in a fake set of Superhero muscles and now the Canadian press calls me the real life Superhero, 6 Pack Lapadat.
CB: What do you enjoy away from training and competing?
RL: I don’t take much time off training, to be honest. I rarely take a week off straight. That’s a really bid deal for me to do. I love weight lifting that much. But on my down time I like to make music. I have had some of my songs make it onto the radio here in Canada. My journey has been a crazy one, so I’ve got a lot to talk about, lol, Here is a song I wrote while on the road filming my TV show.
CB: How are you going to remember your iron journey?
RL: Sports do not build character, they reveal it.
I’ve seen a lot of people come into the game talking one way, and ending up doing another. Say what you will about me. Say I should have lifted in this fed, in this division, at this time. Say I have gone Hollywood with all the media stuff I am into now, but no one can say I ever did anything to disgrace the sport or myself.
Never will anyone hear about me failing a drug test, or not holding myself appropriately in the media and press. This is the sport of Kings and Queens. My journey in the Iron Game will never come to a close, whether I’m competing or training the next generation, or working to promote the sport behind the scenes.
CB: Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us today. In closing is there anyone who you would like to thank?
RL: I’d like to thank you guys for the interview and all of my supporters for always helping push me forward. I may take to the lifting platform alone, but I always have an army behind me. Any one looking to know more about me and my latest projects can visit www.6packlapadat.com, follow me on twitter at @6packlapadat or find me on Facebook, 6 Pack Lapadat.
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