By Brian Klepacki, MS, CSCS, CISSN, FMS
Mud Runs and Adventure races have become the next fitness epidemic in the United States and for a good reason.
But if you think you are ‘fit’ enough to tackle one of these races, think again. These races are not for your average weekend gym rat. These are serious and will separate the men from the boys (or women from the girls ☺).
So even before we get into the gnarly 6-week program that I mapped out for you, let’s look at the history of these so-called mud/obstacle runs and adventure racing.
While they could be called the grandfather of all obstacle races, adventure races are some of the most intense, physically challenging endurance events in the world. Most of these events will require the use of various modes of transportation such as horseback, kayak, bike, arms, legs, etc.
In other words, you use whatever means necessary to get you from point A to point B in the fastest amount of time. The term “Adventure Race” was coined by journalist Martin Dugard when describing the passion and challenges conquered by athletes in events such as the Eco-Challenge.
The Eco-Challenge, created by Mark Burnett of the TV show Survivor, was the world’s first adventure race and is considered by many to have put the sport on the map for all athletes looking for something extreme and adventurous to compete in.
Over the course of a decade in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Eco-Challenge was reformatted in an attempt to make events more difficult and more exciting. In this process was the addition of the entirely self-encompassing sport of adventure racing through a mix of multiple different disciplines.
Today, you will find all different races throughout the year in all states and in remote countries around the world. Races like a local charity 5k obstacle course, The Tough Mudder, a 10-12 mile team-oriented obstacle course, to the 4 Deserts Race, a 7 day, 250km foot race across the most extreme terrains on the planet.
Whatever types of race interests you, there are requirements: physical fitness and mental toughness.
No matter the distance or degree of difficulty presented, you will need to follow a training program that will enable you to not only finish the race but to also look darn good in the photographs dominating the course.
There’s a strong possibility that if you are reading this, you’re already interested in adventure racing. And that’s great! Adventure racing is an experience that you’ll never forget and I guarantee that once you do your first race you will be hooked!
I don’t know about you but I am a competitor. I love to compete. Even if the race isn’t timed or there is no winner, I will still set my watch and run down anyone in front of me just because that’s what I’m driven to do. I know that’s the athlete in me but it’s also a primal instinct of our human design. We hate losing and rightfully so.
Whatever your situation is you will still want to performance at your absolute best. Or maybe you’re a veteran racer and you’ve hit a plateau and just can’t figure out a way to get stronger and faster. Or maybe you just completed a race but had to bail out half way through because you’re training sucked. Regardless of how fit you think you are you will have something to gain from this program.
‘And remember, everyone responds differently to exercise but the main focus is following a set program to achieve your goals. Without goals you are running around in the dark wasting time. Modifications can be done to this program to accommodate your needs. Again, this program is a template for you to use in preparation for an adventure / obstacle race and in no way are we guaranteeing a first place finish or for you to walk away from your training / race without an injury. Adventure race training places great risks of injury on the body simply because that’s what these races are intended for: to push your body and your mind to the extreme and then cover it in dirt and blood. Mother Nature is not forgiving.’
Selecting Your Race:
Like I mentioned above, there are thousands of races to choose from but obviously you would want to start local. Do a quick internet search for ‘adventure race in (your city or state)’, ‘mud run’, or ‘obstacle course’ and go from there and select a race that appeals to you and go from there. Depending on where you live, I’m sure there is a least one race within a 1-2 hour drive from you and there’s a good chance it’s a sprint race.
A Sprint Race lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. These races are by far the most popular type of adventure race and also the most beginner oriented. The typical distance for a sprint will be between 3 – 6 miles on foot. Now throughout the course you will be faced with numerous obstacles, some man-made: running through tires, cargo nets, slip and slides, rope swings, vertical climbing walls, etc.
and some will be natural: swimming, mud pits, rocky terrain, rock climbing, etc. Because the races are shorter, teams are closer together and there is a ton of camaraderie and interaction with other racers during the race, I recommend this race to all first-timers to get a feel for the sport.
Many racers, after doing a few sprint races, long for an even greater challenge. The next stage of racing would be a Middle-Distance Race that would last anywhere from 2-6 hours. There are some important differences to know between a 3-mile race and a 13-mile race. Though the disciplines will be similar, the race itself will be much longer (7 – 15 miles) and much more challenging due to the number of obstacles.
The longer the race, the more obstacles you will have to battle and you might even have to use items or objects to finish the race: log carry, team canoes, zip-lines, and maybe even your own bicycle. These races will require your training to be geared more towards endurance simply because you are covering a greater distance. Now within this endurance event, strength is required so neglecting to do any type of strength training will limit you big time on the course.
The third type of race would be an Advanced or Extreme Adventure Race. This type of race isn’t for beginners or even those who classify themselves as fit. These advanced races will not be for everyone. These races will be at a minimum of 13 miles of running and that’s on the very low end. Some advanced racers would laugh at the 13 miles just because there are adventure races out there that cover 100+ miles of insane terrain.
Now in order to accomplish a race of this magnitude, man-made obstacles are very few. This is a no-brainer. Could you imagine a 50-mile race having 500 obstacles?! As fun as that would be, it’s nearly impossible for someone to finish that, let alone create that type of race. These extreme races will require you to run, bike, climb/trek, swim and paddle.
Since the more advanced races demand a much more personalized and thought out program, the two types of racing that we will focusing on in this program are the Sprint and Middle-Distance events. These races don’t necessary require you to go out and train 20-30 hours a week in preparation for your race. In reality, your week will look something like this if you stick to this program: 2-3 sessions per metabolic conditioning (a.k.a. metcon); 2-3 strength / power sessions; and 1-2 endurance-based sessions.
Having this format will allow you to successfully train all the systems of your body to properly prepare you for your race. Here are two sample weeks that would be for A) first-timer with little exercise background training for a 3-mile mud run and B) very active individual preparing for a 7-mile obstacle course with extensive exercise background:
As you can see that the work load is much greater in column B simply because that individual is coming from a much different background and the race that this athlete is training for is more than double the distance and obstacles. Again, this is a template that you can use to incorporate into your workout in order to fit your needs. The main focus is hitting all of the energy systems in the body but allowing the body to properly recover. Notice that each day there is a different focus for the novice athlete but for the advanced athlete you will see 2 sessions brought together. (i.e. strength in the morning, endurance or cardio in the evening). This is because strength can’t make you an endurance athlete and cardio can’t make you a strength athlete.
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” — Confucius
In this 6-week program I can guarantee TWO things will happen. First, you will thoroughly enjoy the mixture of complex and supplemental movements to attack every system and every muscle in your body. Second, YOU WILL GET STRONGER AND FASTER! This plan is based on big, functional movements that are not boring and definitely not found in most corporate settings.
By Chris Wilson, RKC, CPT, CSN
Could a guy on a deserted island get buff? Is that even possible without weights?
Most powerlifters and bodybuilders would argue that ONLY free weights can deliver ultimate muscle mass and strength. Frankly, it’s hard to disagree with that assessment.
However, contrary to that opinion, there are several factors that indicate that muscles can come from body weight movements alone without the need for heavy equipment.
One thing to always remember is that muscles respond to external forces much the same way. Muscles do not know if you’re bench pressing a heavy bar or you’re explosively doing plyo push-ups. The key is to provide a stimulus requiring the muscles to respond and the more muscle fibers (more about those later) you can recruit at once, the better it is for muscle growth.
While attaining a monster 1RM is a remarkable measure of overall strength and muscularity, we must also remember that men hundreds of years ago developed large, powerful muscles without stepping foot into the gym. They did so by living a life of survival. A life that required them to be strong in many different ways in order to hunt, build shelter and defend themselves from animals (or other people).
That’s not to say free weights aren’t awesome and highly encouraged. Bang those plates around gentlemen and spend plenty of time doing compound exercises that work the entire muscular system.
But remember that the body can be its own BEST free weight. And sometimes that kind of resistance training can provide all the stimulus we need to gain muscle mass, burn calories, lose body fat and do so without as much concern for injury and tissue damage.
Take for example the Pull-up. It not only works nearly every muscle in the upper body but it provides maximal response due to the nature of the exercise. The body is completely suspended forcing the laws of physics to work their magic against you.
The pull-up can mesmerize people and for that reason, you see plenty of guys NOT doing them. For men who are lean and have a low body weight, they are capable of astonishing things on a pull-up bar. This is precisely why the military uses it as one of their most important measures of strength and conditioning. Even if you’re big and strong, you may only get 3 or 4 reps due to your body weight.
For the guy on the deserted island, doing pull-ups in order to survive may be a daily requirement. By the way, this imaginary island came equipped with many coconut palm trees for him to climb. His need to be not only good but great at climbing and pulling his body up could be a life or death situation. A guy like this would have very large back muscles along with superior strength in his arms and that’s just one exercise.
3 Key Concepts that Make Body Weight Training so Effective
#1 Manipulation of Time under Tension
#3 Body Position and Placement
Now, there are other variables that can determine the “intensity” and thoroughness of your training but let’s focus on these three common ones.
Key #1: Time under Tension or (TUT)
Time under Tension or (TUT) is simply the amount of time you load your muscles during an exercise. A body weight squat can take 3 seconds to complete or 10 seconds depending on how slowly you perform a repetition.
Something as simple as pausing at the bottom of the exercise for 5 seconds can make a set of 10 reps significantly harder and much more effective. This principle can be implemented in so many capacities and there are so many examples that could be mentioned to demonstrate how valuable a tool this is but for now we will stick to the squat example.
Key #2: Speed
The Speed in which we perform our body weight exercises also determines quite a bit about our body’s response to the exercise. When we do a push-up slow and controlled, we recruit a certain amount of muscle tissue (fibers) to help us move through the exercise. However, if we go from doing a standard push-up to something a bit more explosive like a clap push-up, the response is different.
The clap push-up is one of many variations of the household gem that has measured a man’s strength for generations. When performing a clap push-up, the body must accelerate and decelerate along with providing enough explosive force to lift the body high enough to allow for the hands to come together and then go back into the original push-up position. Because of that additional element, we have forced ourselves to do the exercise faster which recruited more muscle fibers to get the job done.
The stimulus or message to the muscles was so strong and so intense that the body reacted with greater force to get the job done.
It’s no different than if you had to build a house in 3 months or in 3 weeks. The ONLY thing that would change would be the number of people helping to complete the task. A group of 10 men with the right skill level may be able to complete a home in 3 months-time whereas a workforce of 30 men may be able to complete the same task in only 3 weeks. You RECRUITED more people to get the job done faster.
The body is no different and this concept goes for any exercise done faster and more explosively. The element of speed is a very powerful strength tool.
Key #3: Body Position and Placement
Lastly, Body Position and Placement can also provide effective ways of building muscle and strength. Let’s look at the basic crunch exercise for the abdominals as one example. The standard crunching motion is simply flexing the spine and demanding the abdominal wall to contract raising the upper body (shoulder blades) off the floor.
Taking that same exercise and adding in a twist as you near the top of the movement can make a basic exercise more challenging. Why? Because you’ve added a dimension of rotation which requires more muscle to be stimulated which equals more work for the body. This goes back to muscle recruitment.
The more muscle we recruit at one time, the more effective and powerful we become. This also helps to fatigue our bodies faster which often times is the intended goal with a workout program.
Here is one more example to help with the placement element. When doing a plank exercise in a prone position with arms extended (like the start of a push-up) we must fire several muscle groups to maintain good posture. The level of muscle contraction for this would be considered low to medium for such an exercise. But, if you removed one point of contact with the floor, the level of intensity would drastically increase causing the body to respond differently.
With the right arm now extended straight out overhead (as if to shake hands with someone) you have now forced the legs, abs, planted arm, chest, back and shoulder muscles to work a lot harder. The once easy to hold 4-point plank has now become a 3-point plank causing the muscles to react with stronger, tighter contractions and the overall workload to improve considerably.
Implementing more body weight training into your workout program can pay off and be a well-deserved break from all of that free weight training. By manipulating the 3 variables mentioned, you can go from having a light high rep therapeutic workout to something far more intense demanding the body to work significantly harder. The choice is yours.
By Chris Wilson, RKC, CPT, CSN
Athletes from high school to the pros have a few things in common besides speed and muscle.
For one, they are focused on doing whatever it takes to maintain and improve their performance and this requires the proper mindset. While some may go too far to get an edge on their competition, others seek out ways to naturally boost their level of play and increase their mental toughness.
Secondly, these same talented, hardworking individuals do something else every day that destroys their ability to excel and it’s NOT what you think.
In an age when cell phones and tablets dominate our lives along with an excessive amount of sitting, it’s safe to say that our posture is suffering big time. This constant looking down to text throughout the day or craning over a keyboard for hours at a time puts the body into awful alignment causing forward head posture otherwise known as “texting neck.”
What’s scarier is even the most elite athletes can suffer from this ugly and physically limiting posture.
Surely you’ve heard the phrase, the mind is the body and the body is the mind.
All this means is that our mental and physical connection is so powerful that one can greatly influence the other.
Here’s an example to illustrate this point:
Let’s say you’re running for distance and your body begins to fatigue as you lose your form and you tell yourself, “there’s no way I can finish this.”
Chances are, you won’t. You just told yourself you couldn’t.
But if you’re mental state is strong you will maintain a more rigid upright posture and use positive, confident words like, “this may suck right now but I’m tougher than this and I’m going to make it!”
What really changed in these two scenarios? Simply the language you used when talking to yourself which instantly changed the way you carried yourself in that moment.
Regardless of what you’re doing in life, if you act strong and think strong, you will most likely ‘feel’ strong.
You may already be familiar with this kind of thing but what makes this response to improved posture even cooler is that there is real science proving this positive chemical reaction in the body.
A study by graduate students at Harvard and Columbia University concluded that displaying a ‘power-pose’ absolutely had effects on how the body functions. 
Basically Form = Function.
It Was Found that High-power Posers Experienced Elevations in Their Testosterone Levels With Decreases in Cortisol Levels
This also increased their feelings of power and tolerance for risk while low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern.
In other words, if you’re slouching with your head down and arms closed off, chances are your feelings of self-confidence and power are at rock bottom. You don’t feel like a winner and therefore you won’t be a winner.
It’s very easy to look to nature or even the corporate world for more examples of this ‘power-pose.’
Think of images of a gorilla or elephant as they sit and walk confidently and proud across the land. They hold their head high and look out at the world showing their dominance.
How about the CEO of a company? He walks around the hallway tall and poised never closed off and hiding his body away. He wants his body language to scream success and determination to everyone he sees.
Holding a power-pose will boost muscle building testosterone levels, lower your stress causing and fat storing cortisol levels and increase your feelings of power and risk. All of those traits sound vital to achieving peak physical and mental performance as I’m sure you would agree.
This is why if you’re an athlete looking to perform at a high level, you always maintain a strong posture showing your opponent or onlookers that you’re ready and up to the challenge. This is not just for show, there are real hormonal implications involved.
So how do you ‘carry’ yourself?
In other words, when you walk into a room, into the gym or on the field, do you stand tall and confident with your head held high, shoulders back and chest forward? Or do you look down at the ground with your neck bent forward, back rounded and arms crossed?
The difference here is a gorilla neck versus a turtle neck.
Maybe you never gave it much thought before but now that you know how critical this ‘power-pose’ is, it’s time to act.
The study actually found that by holding a strong, powerful posture for just 2-minutes that it had tremendous impact on the subject’s physiological, psychological and behavioral state.
Here’s How to do the Movement and Quickly Get Yourself into a Position of Power
NOTE: You can do this movement from a standing or seated position. Example below based on seated.
- From a seated position, first tilt the pelvis forward creating a slight arch in the lower back which immediately helps to raise the chest.
- Then pull the shoulders down and back with your arms at your side.
- Next, lift the head and slightly tuck the chin making yourself as tall as possible.
- From this position you should now feel your back, glute and abdominal muscles working to hold you in this strong alignment.
- Begin by just holding this position for 5-10 seconds at a time and progress to holding it up to 2-minutes.
This can be done repetitively throughout the day helping to not only elevate testosterone and decrease cortisol but to also boost confidence, improve breathing and increase energy levels.
Do You Have Forward Head Posture?
By Chris Wilson, RKC, CPT, CSN
Have you ever seen yourself do a deadlift?
I don’t mean looking forward into a mirror since that doesn’t reveal much about your form. It’s from the side that you can really see what’s going on with your spine while pulling some weight.
So that you have a good understanding about what I’m going to discuss, do yourself a favor and set up a camera (or have a friend take a video) and record yourself doing a deadlift from the side. Get a couple of reps and watch yourself a few times.
What did you see? What did your head and neck look like from start to finish? Were you looking forward?
Regardless of techniques like conventional or sumo deadlift one thing must remain the same and that’s having a neutral spine. The spine of course is essential in all that we do and to maximize our performance, we need to be in optimal position as often as we can.
FHP or Forward Head Posture is a problem affecting approximately 90% of people in America. We look down so much at our cell phones, personal computers, tablets and don’t even realize the damage we are causing our cervical spine. It can also be found while driving since many people sit without ever using their head support. You are driving with forward head position.
With all of this ugly forward head position in our lives we create an imbalance in the muscles supporting the head. I think we can all agree that the head is fairly important in our lives so fixing this issue is imperative for not only improving performance but overall quality of life.
So now we go from this ugly forward head position or “texting neck” all day to the other extreme while executing the deadlift. Let me explain.
The nasty habit that is found in gyms across the world is that ‘head up looking at the horizon’ approach to deadlifting. As athletes, we are always told to ‘look ahead’ and ‘don’t drop your head’ and that is usually good advice in most sports but NOT when it comes to the deadlift.
When the body hinges at the hips in preparation to pull weight from the floor, the spine is no longer vertical but angled forward. The angle can vary from person to person but all things considered, the body is somewhere near a 30-45 degree angle just before the lift begins.
So why lift the head to look straight ahead? Because it just “feels” right and you’re so used to looking into the mirror or at the wall you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
But don’t be fooled, sometimes we let our eyes have too much influence over our bodies. In this stationary exercise, it is MUCH more advantageous to maintain proper spinal alignment which means our head lines up perfectly with our mid and lower back down to our hips.
There is a very simple test you can perform in minutes to FIX this technique problem. You will have to grab a friend to assist with this.
Place a foam roller or wooden dowel against your head, back and butt and have your buddy hold that in place as you go through a rep. The key is to keep all 3 points touching the stick or roller the entire rep. If the head, mid-back or glutes pull away from the object then that is what you need to fix. In most cases, it’s the head that’s the issue.
Here is why this is a problem.
Cranking the neck and lifting the head puts unnecessary pressure on the cervical spine and wastes energy that should be in the back, shoulders and hips. This ugly bending of the head to focus your vision on the horizon can lead to neck pain and a decrease in performance.
Since our neck holds our head on our body, I would say that placing it in uncompromising positions especially while performing maximal lifts is a very wise choice.
Avoiding ugly head position ensures proper breathing (unrestricted airway), better nerve messaging from the brain to the body and helps to avoid unwanted strains and pains that may occur in the muscles supporting your head like your traps, scalene and sternocleidomastoid muscles.
Your chin should stay tucked in the entire movement. The thing to remember is that you cannot have any leaks of energy. If your head is raised and your cervical spine is bent, that is a leak. You wouldn’t twist or rotate your head while doing a squat or bench press, would you? No.
The chin tuck from beginning to end helps your spine brace itself against the load and perform the deadlift in optimal spinal position. If the deadlift is important to you and you do it repeatedly, this simple correction could mean the difference in a new PR or a few extra reps on a heavy set.
This proper spinal alignment should become habit in all phases of your life. Tuck your chin and sit tall when working at your desk, driving your car or sending a text. Bring some balance back to your abused and damaged neck muscles and FIX your ugly forward head posture.
Interview with Natural Bodybuilding Champion and Actor, the Superman of Fitness, Anthony Catanzaro
By Ben Tatar
1) Anthony you are known as having one of the greatest physiques in the fitness world. How did you do it? What makes Anthony different than others who are ripped or big but who aren’t necessarily in the ideal condition?
Anthony Catanzaro: I’ve always looked at my physique as the people’s physique. Not the most ripped, or the biggest arms or crazy vascularity. I created my body in what I thought every man would want and admire, and what every woman would drool over.
In my mind I thought of my body as a work of art as a vision of excellence. So when people ask me how I did it of course they know my story of never using steroids or any other enhancement drugs.
I just followed a strict and basic diet and trained very basic and old school, but what did it was my visualization of how I wanted to look. No supplement in the world can do that for you. The body is the student and the mind is the master.
2) You have been ripped for many years. How do you stay in prime condition today? Do you do everything similar to what you did 10 or 20 years ago or do you do everything different?
Anthony Catanzaro: I still continue to train and diet the very same way I always have. I don’t believe in the latest craze diets like macro diet which to this day I laugh at or a very low carb diet or caveman diet or liquid diet or whatever diet for that matter.
The best diet is a balanced diet and that my friends come straight out of my mouth. Training is the same as well. The human body has not changed much in the last 100,000 years. So, building muscle back then is the same as now.
How? Break down the muscle fibers so they grow back bigger and stronger. How? By lifting, pushing and pulling more resistance than what the muscles are used to it’s as simple as that.
Editor’s note: Anthony has been at the top of the fitness world for years.
Read his first interview here: http://www.criticalbench.com/Anthony-Catanzaro.htm
3) You come from a big family of 6. What do they think of all the success you have had and the national headlines that you have made?
Anthony Catanzaro: My family is very proud of me and my accomplishments. I’m happy and blessed to have a family who admires me, a wife who loves me and fans who support me.
I think what sets me apart from all the other guys is my heart and my love to genuinely help others. I’m very honest and sincere in what I love and that is to inspire the world to be the best they can be and overcome anything in their path!
4) You have been on many TV shows and made all types of television appearances. What 5 have been your favorite and why?
In the last 10 years I’ve appeared in shows and TV such as:
Janet Russell Show
DR. OZ SHOW
Bayou Billionaires -CMT
Tony C’s Pure Power Workouts!
Energym Flexx Bar infomercial (show host)
Game Killers (MTV)
CNBC “The Big Idea”/ Donny Deutsch
“Energym Turbo Charger” home gym (Show Host)
The “Bean Flex 10″ home gym (infomercial)
Super Cut Ab Dome (commercial co-host)
Mr. Romance (Oxygen TV
My favorite 5 would be:
1) Game Killers MTV. This is where I played an egotistical, over macho, over confident steroid narcissist. I still crack up when I see it. I blew the directors minds when I went on the casting and started cursing all of them out as that was the characters personality.
2) Ford Commercial: This was one of the funniest commercials I’ve done when all I had to do was just come out and pose which I love to do.
3) Rachael Ray: This was a fun show as I came out and surprised Rachael from the audience. She was so shy, she ran behind the counter like a little school girl then I started posing with the stage director with our shirts off. It was so funny!
4) Bayou Billionaires –CMT: This was a great show filmed down south in Louisiana. I was hired to whip this billionaire farmer into shape.
5) CNBC “The Big Idea”/ Donny Deutsch: This was a funny talk show where I came out and spoke about how famous my abs were. I like this video because I felt I looked the best I ever looked in my life. Also I was able to just sit back and be myself.
Anderson Live: This was when I popped out of a cake for Betty White on her 93rd birthday. It was a great time and to come out of the cake with Betty’s arms wide open it was very sincere and sweet.
5) You have been a bodybuilding champion and you also have done plenty of magazine and cover shoots. What do you like best the competing end or mainstream fitness extravaganzas?
Anthony Catanzaro: I’ve never been to any of the fitness show extravaganzas that doesn’t really interest me. I don’t consider myself a fitness guy, I consider myself a fitness savoir.
It’s not about push-ups, it’s about the push forwards. I never wanted to be like anyone. I always wanted to be one of a kind. I love to compete because when I step on stage, I’m able to show what you can do with hard work, trust, and love within your heart.
6) We know that getting ripped is all about diet. Let’s forget super obesity for a minute and talk about someone with maybe 10-25% body fat. What do they need to start doing with their diet to really cut up? For example, do you avoid large portions or even foods like wheat bread? How do you find the discipline when you have hunger cravings?
Anthony Catanzaro: Getting under 10% body fat has a lot to do with your diet. My chiropractor is always around 8% body fat. I don’t believe he works out very often, but I’ve come to learn he is allergic to gluten which means he eats no bread, pastas cookies cakes etc.
This is the reason he is 8% I’m sure if he was able to eat pizza, cake, bread etc. he would be like the average man which is around 23%. So yes, diet plays a huge role. I have a saying “If God made it use it, if man made it lose it.”
This means do not eat anything that God didn’t already form, eat foods in their natural form nothing processed, canned or boxed
7) What’s your tips on getting huge?
Anthony Catanzaro: If we just talk about being ripped without the hardcore components, we might become heels! Getting huge muscles requires lifting more weight with more reps than our bodies are used to.
It also requires that we eat and rest to repair those torn fibers so they can grow back thicker and stronger nothing else needs to be done or said.
8) Do you have any extreme training routines that you have done that you would like to elaborate on?
Anthony Catanzaro: I keep my training old school like I said but I do believe in drop sets, supersets and giant sets not so much for the whole workout just the final sets of a body part to get as much blood into the muscle to create what I like to call “the swell.”
9) Great tips. What inspires you?
Anthony Catanzaro: I’m very inspired by people who are confidant in their own skin people who love themselves not in a conceited or cocky way, but in a way of respect for themselves because I truly believe that your life will unfold from how your thoughts are of yourself and your capabilities.
If you believe in yourself, then my friend that is all you will ever need because God lives in all of us and he is activated from our faith in ourselves because ultimately having faith in yourself is the same as having faith in God because God lives inside you.
10) Very profound! How do you want to be remembered?
Anthony Catanzaro: I’m glad you asked me this question because I often think about how I would like to be remembered. Well for one, as the true voice of faith and love for what I love and want to share to the world. I want the whole world to feel what I feel from what working out has given to me.
I want to be remembered as a guy who did it naturally without drugs but with only the courage in his heart. To live forever as one of the greatest men of all time. To truly live up to my name as the “Superman of Fitness”.
Want More From Anthony Catanzaro?
Critical Bench interviewed him about 10 years ago and you can read the entire interview at the link below.
An interview with Forest Vance…
Hello Critical Bench Nation!
Head Strength Coach Chris here and I’m excited to have Mr. Forest Vance (former Pro Football Player) here w/ me today to answer some questions about his Body Weight Strong 2.0 system.
With the kind of background that Forest has in terms of performance and strength, I’m sure all of us are curious about what makes his NEW system different from the burpees, push-ups and squats we’ve done before….and can Body Weight Strong 2.0 really add pounds of muscle to our bodies?
So enough w/ the chatter, let’s get right down to it…..
Question #1: There are several body weight programs in the fitness industry today and a majority of them focus on calorie burning and fat loss. Your program tackles (you like that) STRENGTH…is that really possible w/ body weight only exercises?
Forest Vance: Yes most definitely gaining strength is possible with bodyweight only exercises!
You have to take a little bit different approach though, than you would if you were using bodyweight training for fat loss and conditioning etc.A couple of things to start with would be using more advanced exercises – and this of course depends on the individual and their level of strength fitness etc.
And also you have to work in lower rep ranges.So if you can do, say, 50 regular push-ups, is going to be fine for endurance and conditioning, but it won’t work for building strength.We would need you to do more challenging exercises for you, and that would be maybe something like a foot elevated push-up, or a one armed push-up. These are the type of progressions we cover in Body Weight Strong 2.0.
And this way, we can make the exercise more challenging, get it to where you are challenging yourself and reaching failure in a much lower rep range.
Question #2: Your program isn’t purely body weight….meaning it does include some suspension training, kettlebell etc….What can someone do if they’re interested in the program but they don’t have access to that kind of equipment?
Forest Vance: Well I designed the program using bodyweight as the primary means of resistance … Probably the major piece of equipment you would need to really get the most out of it would be a pull-up bar.
Now if you don’t have a pull-up bar we can certainly be resourceful – we can find a pull-up bar somewhere in local park, heck, they can even nail a 2 x 4 to 3 in their backyard and use that as a pull-up bar.I’m all about being resourceful, and telling my clients and athletes that I work with with not make excuses and just get it done!
Question #3: Most times a workout w/ body weight is higher rep and you work towards failure and/or hypertrophy. That’s not necessarily the case w/ your program based on what I’ve seen. Can you explain your approach more in depth?
Forest Vance: Yes for sure, if you’re training for strength you’re going to take a different approach than if you’re training for conditioning or fat loss or hypertrophy.
Let’s take something like a handstand push-up for example. The best way to work up to exercise like this is to:
1 – practice it frequently, not going to failure, but rather learning the skill2 – not go to failure and totally burn yourself out like you would if you were going for fat loss or conditioning, but more working at a lower rep range not going to failure …
This way you can train your nervous system and get stronger and make consistent progress and practice it more frequently so you make progress faster.
Question #4: Is a program like this going to ‘take away’ or STEAL strength from traditional weight lifting that most guys still want to do in the gym?
Forest Vance: No not at all … I would say it’s a great compliment.
I personally cycle through and do heavy training with kettlebells and barbells probably 50% of the time, and then I come back to work on my bodyweight training stuff the rest of the time.I went for years of doing just heavy type training, and I’m a big guy so I’m definitely not built for this crazy calisthenic type stuff people are doing these days … so if I can do it, anybody can!
Question #5: Will Body Weight Strong help improve range of motion, flexibility and mobility? Can we expect to feel “better” throughout our body especially when it comes to soreness and stiffness in the joints?
Forest Vance: Absolutely bodyweight strong will help improve all of these things. When you train with your own bodyweight you develop such superior body control, body awareness, ability to contract muscles that you never even thought you had!
Then when you come back to doing your more traditional weight training, you get a lot of this transfer – a good example is once you learn to develop full body tension when you having a do something like a one armed push-up or a pistol squat, you can then use these techniques and body awareness etc. to apply to your more traditional weight training stuff you’re doing before.
Question #6: If I’m a beginner level lifter w/ less than a year of lifting experience, is this program too challenging, too advanced for me?
Forest Vance: I really tried to put this program together so that anyone of any fitness level could do it and benefit from it.
We rely heavily on the progressions – so for example if I’m just starting off doing a split squat – which is like a lunge variation – might be pretty challenging if I’m doing it slow with the control tempo and feeling the muscle work etc.
Maybe doing a inverted row where I had my feet on the ground I’m doing a pull-up type of motion but I’m lifting a lot less percentage of my body weight, is also challenging enough for me if I’m doing it perfectly with good form etc. to get close to failure.
If this is you this would work great to get you stronger and get you making progress.
Question #7: Explosiveness is HUGE when it comes to getting stronger and gaining muscle mass. Will this kind of training help deliver more explosive force to my lifting?
Forest Vance: For sure. Another thing that we can relate to, we come back to the body awareness, is that for explosiveness and running and jumping and sprinting etc., the ability accelerate your body fast is just as important as the ability to decelerate your body fast. For maximum efficiency of movement but also just being safe.
And that’s a big thing that you get out of this program. We teach you how to move properly first and formost.
Question #8: For the older dudes (hahaha…I’m almost 40:) in the 40-60 age range, is this type of training too hard on our joints? In other words, do the risks outweigh the benefits for more mature guys?
Forest Vance: I would say that this type of training is actually the best type of training that “older guys” should be doing.
I can tell you that I feel way better then back in the day when I used to lift heavy and do back squats and deadlifts and military presses and bench presses on a daily basis.
Now I am cycling through and still including some of the stuff, but also including a lot of the bodyweight stuff, and it has decreased my pain increased my range of motion baby much more flexible and supple and everything other things you can imagine.
Question #9: Does this program really apply to higher level athletes? Is someone in the 18-25 age range really going to benefit from training like this when barbells, dumbbells, prowlers and 40 yard dashes seem to be more important?
Forest Vance: You know honestly it does truly depend on a person’s goals and what type of sport involved in.
For people who are really trying to get gigantic and huge and swole, I would recommend including barbell work at some stage in their training.That being said, like we already mentioned, doing the bodyweight stuff is also super important to learn how to do movements properly – like for example you would want to make sure that you can do a perfect bodyweight squat and a perfect push-up before you squat and bench.
We train some kids – and when I say that I mean high school kids – at my gym, and what we see a lot of times is that they are doing things like back squat and bench presses when they can’t even do a bodyweight squat or lung or even do a handstand hold against the wall … and this is such a mistake.
We back them up and have them perfect the body weight stuff and typically see their lifts go through the roof.
Question #10: Share with us what you feel are the TOP 3 most valuable elements of your Body Weight Strong 2.0 system? Why are these 3 things so crucial to the success of this 12 week program and gaining real strength?
Forest Vance: Number one is the ability to get a fantastic strength workout almost anywhere with very minimal equipment.
Once you learn how to use your body properly and do some these advanced bodyweight movements, you can really get a strength training workout at home in your garage on the hotel room wherever – which for most people probably wasn’t possible before. I know for me personally, before I learn these techniques I’d have to go to the gym to get a great workout and I don’t anymore.
Number two is that if people like heavy training and they like training for strength and muscle, this is such a great break for their body and out and it will make them feel better and refresh and also it’ll improve their left when I do come back to doing the regular training.
Number three is it makes you such a more balanced athlete if you have control and ability to do all these basic bodyweight movements like full below parallel squats, perfect push-ups, all different types of one variations, handstand hold against the wall, etc. this is the type of training that once you can do this and ALSO be strong in the more traditional lifts … it makes you a true beast at the end of the day!
Amazing!!! Thank you so much Forest for your insights, passion and overall knowledge. Without question, this approach to strength training will yield phenomenal results and benefit a ton of guys (& gals) out there looking to drive their performance to a NEW level.
Many Thanks and Stay Strong my Friend!
December 11, 2013 by Mike Westerdal
Filed under Articles, Bodybuilding and Muscle Building, Fitness Experts, Health and Fitness, Interviews, Muscle Building, Nutrition, Recent Posts, Training, Workout Motivation
AA = Anthony Alayon; SH = Scott Herman
AA: What’s going on, Team Critical Bench Nation? It’s Coach Anthony here and today I have a very, very special guest with us and for those of you that don’t know, Scott is a YouTube sensation, has almost a half-a-million subscribers. He also has close to 200,000 Facebook fans and lo and behold, he has a membership site, which you’re going to find out all about. I was poking around with it last night and this thing is like a hybrid of Facebook, Twitter, BodySpace, all combined. It’s really unique and it makes fitness fun.
So without further ado, I’m going to go ahead and introduce Scott. How you doing?
SH: Hey, what’s going on, man?
AA: What’s going on? This is Scott Herman, ladies and gentlemen. And like I said, he is a YouTube sensation. We’re going to talk all about it. So let’s get started.
So, Scott, can you first tell us about how you got started in the industry, in the fitness? What—was it your passion? What drew you to where you’re at today?
SH: Well, when I was a kid, I was always into lifting. I kind of found my dad’s old weight set in the basement. And then I was on the wrestling team throughout my youth years, I guess I could say. And one of my friends had worked at a gym, a local Gold’s Gym and he’s like, hey, I know you like to lift at home, do you want to try coming to the gym with me and working there for a free membership? And I was like, sweet.
So I was like 14 years old, I started working at the gym, just cleaning stuff on the weekends. And lo and behold, a year later I was working full time, pretty much running the front desk and doing the floor and it just kind of spiraled from there. Just started off as a cleaning monkey and just worked my way forward and I just fell in love with the gym.
I loved the members that were there, I loved that I had something that I could work on at my own pace and something I could always improve on and keep pushing to try and get stronger and stronger. At the time, I was really into Dragonball Z, so I was like, I want to be like these guys, so just being the gym and lifting made that kind of possible.
AA: Cool, man. You actually got started just from the ground roots, basement to the gym and now it’s led you to a nice career in the fitness industry. That’s interesting. What would you say would be your biggest challenge when starting out, especially on YouTube? What obstacles did you face?
SH: I think for me, I kind of didn’t have any idea that you could do this kind of stuff on YouTube. When I started my YouTube channel, I was living in New York City. I had just got done filming the Real World Brooklyn and I was living in the city. I had been always in my own gym. I worked for the same guy for like eight years and I was the general manager of one of his gyms before I left to go to New York.
One day I was just kind of sitting in my apartment and I was like, something’s missing in my life. I feel weird not doing anything like completely fitness related. And so I couldn’t go home to my gym because I was in New York. So I figured, hey, maybe I’ll start doing some YouTube videos in my apartment and just kind of teach people how to exercise or give tips and anything like that. That’s basically kind of how it started.
And then the biggest obstacle for me became, I didn’t have a place to film inside of a gym. The gym I was going to, it was a Crunch gym in New York. They were kind of weird about me filming things in there. Which it’s funny now because it seems like almost gyms don’t even care. But for me, they wouldn’t let me film, they wouldn’t let me do anything. And so eventually that’s why I moved back home and that way I could at least film videos in my buddy’s gym and get this channel off the ground.
I would say the biggest obstacle for anyone getting started is just getting the fan base going and getting people to subscribe and see who you are. And my biggest tip I can give you for that is just be true to yourself and don’t fall into the gimmicks. A lot of people online now, they do these gimmicky things and you’ve got to remember, you’re putting yourself out there.
You want people to respect you and see you as a fitness professional. You want people to still want to watch your videos a few years from now. You don’t want to become a fitness fad; you want to become a fitness guru or a fitness professional. And that’s key to being successful. The key to being successful at any business is to make sure that you can be sustainable.
AA: Right, absolutely. Those are some good tips. I think that’s what holds a lot of people back, especially the Critical Bench audience. There’s a lot of people that want to start things, it’s just overcoming those hurdles. So it’s good to hear that you’ve had some hurdles, you are human and that you were able to overcome them.
SH: Yeah. I mean, I’ve been doing it since 2009. It just takes time. And you might not grow the fastest right off the bat, but opportunities come in through the door. As long as you just work hard, it will be there.
AA: Yeah, perfect. Now, what would be the number one exercise tip you would give to our fans who are trying to lose fat and gain muscle?
SH: The number one exercise tip if you’re trying to lose fat would be to circuit train. A lot of people ask me questions about their routine and their diet and they’re trying to lose weight. I always say, hey, so what are you doing for your workout routine?
And nine times out of 10, they’re doing like a muscle-gain split and they’re not burning any calories, not doing any cardio because they’re under the impression that if they do cardio they’re going to lose the muscle they have while trying to lose the fat.
It’s just misinformation that’s out there, and that’s fine. That’s why I built SHF, to try to help guide this misinformation to get people on track. And so if you’re trying to lose weight, you need to eat right, high protein, low carb, easiest thing to do, and you need to circuit train and do cardio. And circuit training is just going from exercise to exercise and doing basically a total-body workout.
A lot of people like to call circuit training Crossfit now. And they think that Crossfit invented circuit training, which isn’t the case, which is kind of annoying. Maybe it’s not annoying to you, Anthony, but every time I do a circuit training routine, I’m called a Crossfiter, which I think is…
SH: Yeah. Anyways, I like Crossfit, don’t get me wrong, but they didn’t invent circuit training. And then if you’re trying to gain muscle, you need to be doing the muscle-gain splits. You need to be focusing on volume. A lot of people are so worried about the weight. Obviously the weight is important, but in order to grow muscle, you need to have volume in your workouts.
And by volume I mean you’re doing higher repetitions, like 12 to 15 repetitions per set. You’re doing three to four sets per exercise and then you’re getting around 15, 16 working sets per muscle group. And normally what I’ll tell people, I’ll say, hey, if you’re doing chest, I don’t care how many exercises you’re doing, just try to get in like 15, 16 working sets. So however many exercises you do, just make sure when you’re doing that’s how many total sets you have in there.
And also, you can experiment with things like tempo. Most people don’t realize that you actually gain the most amount of muscle—you break down the most amount of muscle tissue in the negative part of the exercises.
And to be honest, a lot of people kind of rush through the negative and they’re not doing full range of motion and they’re not working through their sticking points and they’re avoiding all these critical areas where you’re actually going to gain—get the most benefit. So slow negatives, high volume and hit it hard for muscle gain.
AA: Cool. Yeah, that’s great tips. It’s so true that things like full range of motion, just little basic tips, add-up to be the difference-makers. So sticking to the topic of number one, what would be like the number one nutrition tip you’d see for our viewers, especially coming from like a bodybuilding sort of background and like what you’re trying to do with your goal?
What would be the number one tip?
SH: I would say you need to make sure you’re counting your macros. And I say this because a lot of people—and I’ll ask them. I’ll say, how many grams of protein are you eating? And they’re like, oh, my God, I eat so much protein. And lo and behold, they’re probably like 100 grams short of what they should be eating for the day.
Funny story: I was in Wal-Mart the other night and I saw my next-door neighbor. He’s turning 60 soon and he’s a runner. He runs the 5K in like 20 minutes. And he wants to be able to do it in under 20. That’s really good for someone who is 59. I mean, I told him if he just dyed his hair brown, he’d look like he was 35.
So anyways, so I was asking him about his diet and I was like, hey man, what’s your protein intake like? He’s like, oh, my gosh, I eat so much protein and for whatever reason, in his head, he thought that he was eating like 140 grams of protein because he thought that his tuna fish was giving him at least 50 grams of protein a day. And when in reality, he was only getting like—he had little tuna fish packets. You know, you can buy the premade ones?
AA: Yeah, yeah.
SH: He’s like, oh, this one tuna fish packet has like 100 grams right there. I was like, oh, really? Let’s go check-out your tuna fish packets right now on the shelf. Lo and behold, he was only getting like 25 grams. And he’s like, oh, I guess I was wrong. I’m like, yeah, you’re wrong, man. You need to get your protein up.
So at the end of the day, if you have to make sure you hit at least one macro, make sure you hit your protein goal, because nine times out of 10, your carbs and fat, they’ll kind of trickle-in on their own as you’re eating.
AA: Okay, perfect. We also—we already discussed some on the topic of your career path passion. I want to know, what are your workouts looking like these days? Have you changed them up? Have they been consistent from when you first started out? Tell us a little bit about that.
SH: My workouts—recently, I’ve actually—I do want to do a show at some point, and also, I’ve been doing fitness DVDs with Lyons Gate. And those require me to make sure I have a lot of muscular endurance. And so two to three times a week I make sure I’m circuit training.
And I do really high intensity circuits where I’ll incorporate things like muscle-ups and box jumps and Spiderman pushups and mountain climbers and groiners and all these other fun exercises, like burpies, that are just torment. And I have my muscle-gain splits throughout the week as well.
I’d say the biggest difference I’ve done is I’ve actually split my leg day into two different days and I’ve been able to get much better results that way. So instead of doing everything at once, I’ll have one day where I focus mostly on quads and glutes and another day where I focus more on hamstrings and I’ll throw-in my calfs and I’ll just kind of wrap-up what’s missing from my leg day: abductors, adductors and something like that.
I still do my drop sets. If you see my original videos, I haven’t done it for a couple of months, because I did them for about three months straight. Which is basically the first set of every exercise I do a drop set of like three or four drops, basically just pre-exhausting the muscles as much as possible. But right now, I’m sticking to the 10 to 12 rep range, or usually I’ll go maybe has high as like 15 reps, like I said earlier, about focusing on volume.
And I try to at least make sure on one set that I’m doing really slow tempo, maybe as like a finisher. Just to make sure the muscle is getting hit as hard as possible.
AA: Right, right. Perfect. I mean, splitting up the legs; that was a big breakthrough for me. It’s like doing hamstrings, quads different days, separation. So that’s a great tip. Thank you for that. What about your diet now? What is it looking like?
SH: My diet is pretty simple. I stick to what’s easy, to make sure I can do it. I do a lot of chicken, a lot of rice, a lot of broccoli, oatmeal with fruit. I have apples and bananas throughout the day. My girlfriend makes these protein pancakes with the BSN Syntha-6 protein, which gives me like 50 grams of protein right off the bat in the morning, which is really good. It’s kind of become like a staple in our diet.
And then the simple stuff like almonds and then I do have my powder shake throughout the day and I just basically keep it very simple like that. I just make sure I’m hitting my macros and chicken is really easy to cook. Just throw it on the grill and broccoli is even easier to cook. You just throw it in there with the chicken and once you close the top, it kind of like cooks itself. It will be a little raw. You know what I mean?
AA: Yeah, yeah, man. Cool.
SH: So I’m basically just eating kind of plain stuff like that. And then on the weekends, maybe we’ll go out to eat and enjoy myself a little bit, as long as I’m good throughout the—during the week.
AA: Cool. Yeah, macros are important. And I want to also know, this is a question that a lot of people want to know. Do you ever take time away from the gym, such as a vacation or a week from not doing exercise, and why?
SH: I can only take like maybe two or three days off from doing anything. And after like two or three days, I just start to feel like I’m missing something. My body needs to be active. And it can just be like—it can be like a 20 or 30 minute run and I’ll be happy. But I don’t like to stay away for too long, because this is my job and I am filming videos and if I take a solid week or two off, it’s going to affect how I look.
And then when I get back in the gym, it’s going to take me a week just to get my body back to where it is, because obviously you’re going to be sore if you haven’t worked out for two weeks and you go train again. So it will really kind of mess-up my flow of my operation I have going on here.
I mean, if I’m traveling on vacation and I have access to a gym, I can always circuit train and make sure I’m at least pushing myself hard that way. So it’s just a matter of doing something. For me, personally, I just—I don’t like taking off more than a couple of days. It just doesn’t feel right to me.
AA: Right. Okay. Before we get in the membership site, I know you have like a clothing line. I want to know, what are your plans with it?
SH: Yeah, actually, we just re-launched our clothing line. I’m wearing one of my sweatshirts right now. My plan with the clothing line—actually, I can’t take all the credit, because my girlfriend did a lot of the designing and picking of the clothing, and there’s actually girls clothes as well. But the goal was to make stuff that you could wear out to the gym and also kind of wear our around town as well. Because all the clothing is form fitting, so it sticks to you really well, especially if you have a lot of muscle.
The favorite shirts that I have right now are the Burnout shirts. It’s that material that like if you were to pull it, it’s kind of like see-through, but when you wear it, it’s very comfortable and it breathes well. So we wanted to put out a line that was more than just like t-shirts with funny logos on it. We wanted to have something that was a little bit more unique that you would feel proud of wearing. Maybe you open up your drawer and you see like your Armani shirts and your SHF shirts and you’re like, I’m going with the SHF shirt today. You know what I mean?
SH: So that’s the kind of quality we went for with the clothing line. So we’re really excited about that and the hoodies that we have are super-comfortable. They’re extremely warm and they’re form-fitting as well. So actually, I’m wearing one of them right now. It has one of—like an old-school crest that we made up. So it has it right here. It’s kind of like a classic.
SH: When the business started. It says SHF in the middle. All kinds of good stuff.
AA: Cool, man, cool. Yeah, I like that logo there SHF.
SH: Yeah, man. Thank you.
AA: Perfect. Before we close, I want to say, I know you were telling me a lot about the membership site. I touched on this earlier in the introduction of this interview. Can you go ahead and give us just a quick overview of kind of like what’s going on with it and what are your plans with it? What are you trying to do with this, because I mean, you’ve got everything in there.
SH: Sure. Do you want me to do a screen capture of it for you?
SH: Can you see the site?
AA: Yep, there it is.
SH: Awesome. Yeah, Anthony, so you’ve had a chance to kind of log in and make your own profile. So you’ve seen some of this stuff where the site looks like this. It went through a major overhaul. It literally took me all of last year to rebuild this website. Because before, the site was focused just on kind of getting, you know, exercises and routines and the meal plan out there. Now it’s actually its own social media network.
So when you log in to your profile, just like any other network, you have your friend requests, you have your notifications and you have your messages. And then what we wanted to do was make the profiles a quick snapshot of you. So you have your photo over here, you have your measurements. We have avatars. It’s around Thanksgiving time right now, so I have a fun Thanksgiving avatar put together. And then I have badges. There’s a bunch of badges you can pick from.
And then over here, these are like your top 12 friends, which is actually something that MySpace had back in the day, which I thought was pretty cool. You could have like your top—first it was like your top five friends, your top 12, maybe top 15, now it’s like your top 30. It’s starting to get a little ridiculous. I don’t know if you remember that stuff. You remember MySpace?
AA: Yep, I do. Back in the day.
SH: Back in the day. So I kind of pulled from there. And this is more your inspiration. So these are my top 12 inspirations which basically is some of my super Hermanites and my girlfriend and some other people that I talk to on a daily basis. And it just gives me quick access to their profiles.
So you’ll notice also, too, I have my goal, gender, age, height and my weight, and then down here, you have your board, which is where your friends can come or you can post comments and let people know what’s going on with you for the day and stuff like that. And like every other social media site, you want to make sure you have photos and so right here I have some photos.
All the photos work just like any other site, where you can see them and you can make them bigger and leave comments and there’s a notification system, so if somebody comments on my photo or likes it, I’ll be notified of that so I can go check it out.
We have a video section which you can actually pull videos right from YouTube. Actually, I was telling you about my red Camaro earlier. This is it right here, Anthony.
SH: So these work the same ways. I have a couple of different video albums. That’s motivational stuff, some fitness video stuff, some music videos that I like. And then this part right here, this is where most people spend a lot of time. You’re actually able to go to the section I created called “The Notebook” and you’re supposed to think of the notebook as a real notebook.
So if you were to go to your routine, and you can actually input all of the exercises and routines that you’re doing for the entire week and then you can print this out and take it with you and you can actually fill in these boxes.
One of the things that’s a pain in the butt is when you’re trying to fill out your routine, but you have nowhere to write down your reps and weight. This keeps it really organized. And if you’re a platinum member of my website, you can actually pull from my database of routines and exercises. So I’ll type in—I’ll change this to exercise.
And then I’ll type-in dumbbell. And it’s going to pull up all the different exercises on my website that have a dumbbell. So dumbbell bent-over row. That’s for a back exercise. Maybe you want to add that to your back day. So once you have it here and you click “add”, it adds it down here with its own list of sets, reps and weights.
And then, say for some reason you forget how to do a dumbbell bent-over raise. You can actually utilize this as a clickable link and it will go to that part of my website where the exercise is and you can watch the video. You can see what muscles are being used. I rate the exercises as beginning to intermediate and advanced.
And there’s also a written write-up right here so you know how to do the exercise. Maybe you don’t have access to the video. And then there’s photos down here to show the starting and ending positions.
AA: Nice. That’s real cool.
SH: So there’s a little bit of everything here. You can also put your meal plan together with my website. Some people actually write them out on their own. So I made it so you can either upload a PDF or a Word document and then you can see the meal plan here. Or you can go to create your own and you can write it all out by hand. So if you wanted to see exactly what my meal plan is, all you have to do is log on to my site, go to my profile and you’ll be able to see all my food right here.
SH: We also have progress charts. So if you want to start keeping track of your body weight and your body fat percentage, you just simply go onto here and you add the points. And you can change these dynamically very easy. So today for body weight, we’ll type-in the date. So it’s the 27th. Here we go. And my weight is around 171 right now.
Click add and it adds the point. And then we make this dynamic as well, so you can change multiple charts at once. So now I can go over to my body fat chart, I’ll enter my fat here, which it’s getting pretty low. We’ll see that come down to 6.8. And I’ll add that point here. Once I click out, it’s going to update the chart.
SH: Now the chart is updated.
SH: And then we also have a section over here with it’s started to get more attraction, and that’s your list. This is like for your max bench, your max squat, your max deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk, squat clean. Basically, this is an area where you can upload your max lifts for people to see and they can motivate you by clicking on the motivate button right here. And then they can also leave comments on your lifts as well into this section.
SH: And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Anthony. I can sit here with you all day. We also have articles. I’m going to be doing a live video feed session pretty soon. We’re probably going to start that towards the start of the New Year. We’re going to take you guys into my studio and you’ll be able to talk about certain subjects or I’ll show you guys new exercises or routines.
And obviously you can share all this stuff with your friends as well. And if you’re looking to have some tips to eat big and stay lean on Thanksgiving, you can check out the articles I posted this week so you can make the right choices.
AA: Cool. I mean, very in detail, very in depth and just like I was saying earlier, like a hybrid of BodySpace and like a social media network such as Facebook, so really unique. You get articles, you can upload pics, you really go the whole nine. That’s excellent.
SH: Yeah, man. We’re all about improving, too. So this is just the beginning. We’re going to do our best to make sure we’re always making the membership as valued-added as possible. Anyone who wants to try the membership site out for free and have full access to the database of exercise routines and my meal plan and exclusive content, they can use a promo code FREEFITNESS, which is all one word, and I’ll give them a one-month free trial. They can check everything out.
AA: Okay. So they can go to the site, type in FREEFITESS and they get a month free to try everything.
AA: All right, perfect. That’s excellent. Guys, definitely check it out. It’s a great membership site where you obviously can see the benefits and you have nothing to lose. It’s free. So Scott’s kind enough to let you try it. He has that much confidence in his program. We’re going to have links below this video so you can check it and learn more.
Scott, is there anything in closing that you’d like to give to someone trying to start out in the fitness industry, one piece of advice you’d give them, what would it be?
SH: My best piece of advice would be to remain true to yourself, have good morals and values and if you’re going to do it, do it because you love it, not because you’re looking to make a million dollars, because with any kind of business in life, if you’re doing it for the money, people can tell. And there’s a lot of money in this industry, and obviously it’s a good industry to be in.
But you need to be here because you love it, and it’s going to show if you do. I feel like that’s why I have the large community that I have, because they can really tell that I love doing this. Yeah, it’s a job for me, but I love this stuff and I love helping people and I love taking the time to show them how to reach their goals. And that really shines through if that’s what your true intensions are. So be true to yourself and then your community will be true to you.
AA: Cool. Well, Scott, any final closing words before we end this interview?
SH: Yeah, actually. I’m pretty excited. In about two weeks I’m flying out to L.A. and I’m filming my third fitness DVD series with Lyons Gate Be Fit, and then the first two DVDs that I did are coming out maybe towards the end of December, start of January. So for those of you who like to work out exclusively at home, you can check out those.
They’re going to be available everywhere, like Amazon, Best Buy, Target. And I also have all of the videos for the workout series that you can do at home on my website as well under Lyons Gate. So you can check those out there. So we’re pretty excited about that. It’s a pretty big opportunity for us and we’re hoping that more keep coming.
AA: Cool. Guys, you’ve heard it there on what to do. Check out that DVD when it comes out. We’ll make sure to have some links there for the readers and viewers who want to know more about it. Scott, it was a pleasure doing this interview. Thanks so much for allowing us to do this.
SH: Yeah, thank you, man. It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
AA: Awesome. Well, you take care, you have a great day and we’ll be speaking soon.
SH: Thanks, man. I’ll see you soon, brother.
AA: All right. Bye bye.
Interviewed by Critical Bench’s Ben Tatar.
CRITICAL BENCH: How did you get involved in the fitness industry?
I was always involved in fitness at some level. Playing competitive tennis and running in races. Also being a mother of two I knew at some point I wanted to take it to the next level. I remember telling my husband about my desire to become a figure fitness competitor.
He laughed and said there’s no way you could look like the girls in those fitness magazines. That was it, my fire was lit and I was going to show him and nothing would stop me!
CRITICAL BENCH: How did you get involved with The WBFF and how do you enjoy being a part of the WBFF experience? After four competitions I was in a place where I felt things had to change. I knew it was time to take the next step and join a team and change federations. I had heard great things about WBFF and wanted to compete in their next competition. So, I joined a team (“Total Body Advantage”) but it was across the country.
This would be my first time not working directly with a trainer. I needed to decide if I could do this on my own. In October of 2011 I place 2nd in open medium figure with my new coach and team. They’re support made me feel the most confident I’ve felt at a competition to date!
I love being a part of WBFF whether we’re near or far all of the competitors are very supportive of each other which makes it a great fitness family that Paul and Allison were able to create for us.
CRITICAL BENCH: How do you balance your family life with your fitness career?
Being a very focused high energy organized person with loads of will power I am able to create that perfect balance between the two.
CRITICAL BENCH: Who has been influential in your career?
Ava Cowan and Monica Brandt
CRITICAL BENCH: When you look at yourself in the mirror are you your best friend or your own worst enemy?
My best friend
CRITICAL BENCH: What do you find more difficult the diet or the training?
The dieting towards the end.
CRITICAL BENCH: Did you find it difficult switching over from figure to fitness?
Only that I had to wear two different outfits.
CRITICAL BENCH: Tell our readers what your workout schedule consists off.
- Monday- legs with cardio
- Tuesday- chest
- Wednesday- biceps and triceps with cardio
- Thursdays- back
- Friday- legs with cardio
- Saturday- rest when off season
- Sunday- rest when off season
CRITICAL BENCH: I am going to name a topic and you give me a response in a sentence or less, here we go:
I drive a… Range Rover
My favorite bodypart is… biceps
My favorite exercise is… biceps
A fitness event during the year that I look forward to is… Worlds in Vegas
The best thing ever told to me was… I inspire them
The last time I cried was… when I won my Pro Card
I love listening to… R&B music
My ideal vacation is… A family vacation (anywhere)
One thing that I love about myself is that… I’m a real person
For fun I love to go… zip lining
I am always… put together
I love my… family and friends
My favorite health food is… protein pancakes
If I could cheat right now and not get fat I would eat… pasta
If I was an actress I would like to be in a…. action super hero
My favorite kind of animal is… my mini schnauzer
If I had to be an animal I would be… tiger
Love is… joy of family
The most fun I ever had was when… when I zip lined over alligators
I believe that… all things are possible
CRITICAL BENCH: In closing who would you like to thank?
I want to thank my children, husband and friends for all their love and support in helping me reach my goals. I also want to thank my coaches, Doug Casebier, Karen Dancer, the TBA team, and a big thanks to WBFF Paul and Allison Dillett for welcoming me in their fitness family.
Also sending out a special thanks to all my fans for their support and inspiring me to best athlete I can be.
Interview with Vic Richards
By Critical Bench Reporter Ben Tatar
Today Ben Tatar goes one on one with one of the biggest, smartest and most honest bodybuilders of all time, Vic Richards. In this exclusive interview, Vic Richards tells us what it really takes to be the biggest bodybuilder and about all the problems with bodybuilding today. Enjoy Victor’s intense interview as you will come out of Vic’s interview with a whole new perspective on the meaning of bodybuilding.
Critical Bench: Vic, we know who you are, so no introduction needed. I have been a fan of yours for a long time and I’m happy to be doing this interview with you today. First of all, tell us about your future plans?
Vic Richards: I have been taking my message about holistic bodybuilding–with mind, body and spirit–to the masses. I believe that for the past 50 years, bodybuilders haven’t been capitalizing on the overall benefits of bodybuilding. They are only focused on one thing alone: the showmanship aspect instead of the holistic part. In order to bring this message to more people, I am opening the Vic Richards’ Bodybuilding, Fitness and Nutrition Academy in the Pacific Northwest.
At the Academy, we will have organic farming, livestock, and provide a place for meditation, reflection, fitness and self-awareness. We will also have training that is outside the gym–to show people that you don’t have to give up life for bodybuilding–bodybuilding is about living and life. Along with the Academy, I am planning two eBooks right now. One is a collection of photos with the stories behind them, and another of my story and my philosophy.
Critical Bench: We wish you the best with Vic Richards Academy. For anyone reading this, go and attend. Vic, what has been your most emotional experience in bodybuilding?
Vic Richards: When I was in New Zealand, the promoter had scheduled me with a television talk show. Prior to my arrival, the current Mr. Olympia had been on this show. When the talk show started, the host tried to be comical and say that Mr. Olympia had been on the show and that I was bigger than he was. She said Mr. Olympia had said that he trained 24 hours per day and lived in his car. She said that if he trained 24 hours a day, I must train 25 hours per day!
My response was, “You don’t have to be an extremist to go to the extreme.” While honoring my colleagues while I was there, I was quick to separate myself by sharing my doctrine about bodybuilding. It’s not about showmanship or trophy or title. It’s about having the ultimate mind, body and spirit, which I call Holistic Bodybuilding. Suddenly, what was supposed to be a comedy hour becomes serious. We end up talking about Buddhist philosophy, meditation, philosophy about life and spirit.
After a bit, the information about my seminar came up on the screen with a phone number. The promoter said that this was the largest turnout for a seminar. People were coming from all over and we have to change the venue. Mind you, this is not the reputation that most bodybuilders had at the time. To see a 70-year old farmer bring his six year old grandson to see me and shake my hand and get my autograph was very emotional. I ended up losing money because I gave my picture away.
I couldn’t look a child in the eyes and exploit the situation. I guess I’m a bad businessman! The promoter almost started tearing up after watching all this. He said, “Vic, you have been the only athlete who has come here who has given away pictures to kids. Not only that, you’ve also shaken the image of bodybuilders being the stereotype of dumb muscleheads.
We’ve been wanting to bring you here for a long time, but people from IFBB and others told us not to bring you. We’re glad we didn’t listen to them because they are pissed because you don’t play the political game or conform to what others want you to do.
“The promoter wrote to Muscle and Fitness magazine and told them how I helped the image of bodybuilding in their country, only to have one of the control freak editors not print his letter. After seeing the corruption and lies first-hand, the promoter decided to quit the institution.
He didn’t understand why the bodybuilding establishment refused to promote the ones who could help the sport grow in a positive manner, but support the ones who give bodybuilding a bad name. He quit because of me.
Critical Bench: Vic, what has been your most gratifying moment in bodybuilding?
Vic Richards: After the Powers That Be in the United States have been blocking me from comparing myself to their “best” bodybuilder, I went to Germany to ambush them all. That was the first time that Kevin Laverone had ever seen me in person. Kevin called me aside and said, “You’ve been blessed. Pictures don’t do you justice. You could go to Olympia now and win.”
And he pleaded with me to do it. On the spot, he cut me a check to appear at the Kevin Laverone Bodybuilding Classic. He had just won the Arnold Classic the week before, and was the first runner-up in Mr. Olympia. This was a humbling and gratifying experience coming from legendary athletes themselves.
Critical Bench: Big moments. Vic, people said you were the biggest/most jacked bodybuilder of all time. Then you left the industry. What was your turning point in the industry?
Vic Richards: The day that changed my life and my attitude about bodybuilding will forever be burned into my mind. It was the day that I saw the true colors of a sport that is rotten on the inside.
I was preparing for a photo shoot for Joe Weider and a guest posing appearance at Orange County Muscle Classic with Mike Glass against Gary Strydom. I was in the grocery store in the middle of the night after training at the gym. A mother was grocery shopping with her son who had Muscular Dystrophy and was strapped in a wheelchair.
As they walked down the aisle, the son was smiling and waving at me the best he could. When the mother noticed me in the aisle with them, she started to hurry him away. I called after her, “Stop! Stop!” and walked over to them. I touched the boy’s hand and talked with him and joked with him.
The mother said that she was so surprised that such an extraordinary person would want to interact with her son. She said that they had to shop in the middle of the night to avoid her son being sneered at, laughed at and made fun of. She said that people were so mean to her son, and to her for keeping him knowing that he had Muscular Dystrophy that she assumed I would be even meaner or ruder because of my size. This broke my heart.
After spending a few minutes with this little family, I walked out of the store with tears in my eyes and vowed to make a difference. I contacted Mike Glass and told him that I didn’t want the money from the show sent to me, but donated to Muscular Dystrophy. I also requested that the local MD chapter be able to set up a booth to take donations at the show.
However, this decision is what exposed the sport of bodybuilding for what it is. After weeks of asking about the donation, I was told by Mike that “If I’m donating money, I want to choose where to send it.” I said that this was my money and he didn’t have a say in it. I confronted him about pocketing the money and told him that I wouldn’t show up if the donation wasn’t made.
His response? “You’d better show up.” I am peaceful, spiritual, but that doesn’t mean I’m passive. I hate injustice of any kind. I would die for what I believe in. If you try to take my dignity and principles away, I will shove my fist down your throat. And then ask Christ for forgiveness because last time I checked, I was not Jesus Christ and I will never be close.
I despise bullies and those that will rob from crippled children. I do not want to be part of any man’s bad Karma because when Karma comes to collect, it doesn’t just knock on the door, it burns the house down.
After this experience, I realized that the bodybuilding industry was just a bunch of bullies: grown men being yelled at and humiliated in front of their families by wimpy pencil neck guys who are judges; bodybuilders got robbed and were not being paid by the promoters; they had no way to get retribution because the NPC Chairman didn’t care unless he was the one not getting paid, causing some athletes to feel cheated and betrayed by the organization that was supposed to look after their interests;
athletes who are not being paid by their promoter because after a guest pose, the promoters run out the back door with the money and the athletes aren’t able to complain because then they will be blackballed and unable to work anymore.
How many times have you seen an athlete who is on top criticize the industry? You don’t. Because, in order to be a top bodybuilder, you have to be a puppet. In other sports, athletes are able to speak out about issues within their sport without the fear of retaliation. I realized after the night in the grocery store, I didn’t want to be part of a sport that does that to its athletes.
Critical Bench: Give us your training routine, training philosophy and diet?
Vic Richards: I train using Vic Richards Instinctive Training. I listen to my body and push it when it wants to be pushed, and I rest it when it needs rest. I do 2 hours of cardio each day, then lift. I believe that over-training is an excuse for the weak, and under-eating is for the birds.
There is no way that you can train like a girl and eat like a pigeon and look like a dinosaur.
I adopted this doctrine when it was not popular or conventional; when people laughed at it. When people went South, I went North because I understood that in order to be different, I can’t do what everyone else is doing. I took bodybuilding to another level. Not just by genetics alone, but by wisdom.
A lot of the things I was reading about in the magazines didn’t make sense. I’m a non-conformist. My nutrition is to eat as clean as possible. I eat lots of poultry, fish, eggs and vegetables–always with hot sauce to keep the metabolism going!
I will sauté onions, peppers, mushrooms, greens and whatever other vegetables I have on hand, then put grilled chicken, elk or moose (instead of beef) over it.
The vegetables are very filling, and the meat provides protein. For carbs, I usually eat sweet potatoes–baked or microwaved. In my early days, I ate a lot of rice and egg whites.
Critical Bench: Off the hook, love it. Real stuff! Vic, what is your message to the bodybuilding world?
Vic Richards: My message is that we are all ambassadors to the sport. We cannot conform to the stereotype of society: those that are in the sport who are not interested in image and the well-being of bodybuilders. It’s important to have individuality instead of the herd mentality.
In order to be free, you have to accept the fact that you are incarcerated by the few who try to exploit you. Bodybuilding was created for man, not man for bodybuilding; just like the Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath. You cannot be a cookie-cutter. Bodybuilding is about freeing your spirit, not imprisoning it.
Critical Bench: Very profound ideas. Speaking of ideas, tell us about “Ask Big Vic Radio,” your Webinars and about your social media outlets?
Vic Richards: Recently, I’ve started Ask Big Vic Radio (www.askbigvicradio.com) in order to share my opinions on different topics, and even have people call in for interviews and shows. I have always had Muscle Outcast (www.muscleoutcast.com), but felt that I couldn’t express my opinions outside of bodybuilding in that forum.
Ask Big Vic Radio allows me to branch out to the mainstream on topics that I have opinions on. And I have lots of opinions! I’m using Facebook and other social media to have a more personal connection with my fans, and that has allowed me to check on clients and see their progress based on what’s happening on Facebook.
In the past, without social media, those that want to keep us conformed had control over what we read, heard and saw. Now the genie is out of the bottle. I also share relevant articles, posts, etc. with my fans on Facebook. Now I’m moving on to online Webinars in order to share my message to the masses. These webinars will be to show bodybuilders how to be a complete human being, not just a physical being. You do not have to be a zombie to be a bodybuilder.
Critical Bench: That’s awesome. How do you want to be remembered?
Vic Richards: I want to be remembered as a man who told the truth. Who didn’t compromise my dignity and soul to gain the world. A man who refused to play in the sandbox with the devil. A man who did not partake in using the gifts that the Good Lord has given me to make love to the dead; instead I used the gift to enlighten others instead of my own personal gain. Finally, I love bodybuilding more than bodybuilding loves itself. I dance to my own drum and tune.
Critical Bench: Vic, How do you see the future of bodybuilding?
Vic Richards: The future of bodybuilding has always had the potential to be great. But the future of bodybuilding will always be bleak because of the people who are looking out for their own personal interests instead of the growth of the industry. There has never been a sport that has the potential of bodybuilding because bodybuilding covers all areas of health and wellness: sexual, physical, mental.
The fact that the industry isn’t capitalizing on this because they want to line their wallets and not let large industries like Nike in, shows that they do not want educated people in the sport. It benefits them to stink up the sport instead of benefiting the world with it. If we can share this message with the masses–the message of health and wellness, sport conditioning–then people can understand the sport for what it really is. Instead it’s full of corruption and greed.
Critical Bench: What do you want to see changed in bodybuilding ?
Vic Richards: There needs to be consistency and freedom of speech without persecution and prosecution. Bodybuilding is spiritual and it’s about freedom. It’s not about imprisonment. The judging is so contradictory. You can’t give us pint-sized Frank Zane as a Mr. Olympia as the standard of bodybuilding and then turn around and change it to brick-sized Dorian Yates. It’s contradictory and hypocritical. Every sport has rules. In soccer if you get a goal past the net, it’s a score.
You don’t always shift the goal post every game. In baseball, if you hit the ball out of the park, it’s a home run. And in football, after 100 yards, it’s a touchdown. But in bodybuilding, yesterday they gave you a midget and another day you might not know what you will get. It all depends on what kind of drink the judges are having that night–cognac or whiskey. There has to be consistency to show people what to expect. Athletes should not be competing blindfolded.
Critical Bench: Vic, love your thoughts and the analogies you use- very intellectual, articulate and entertaining. Last question, how did you become one of the biggest bodybuilders to ever live?
Vic Richards: Combination of a lot of things. First of all, the genetics of the Good Lord and good parents, and the revelation of using my mind to see that a lot of things that had been said in the past didn’t make sense. In order to get to the shore, I have to find my own way. Bodybuilding is not about conforming, but about not conforming.
I broke all the rules in order to separate myself from the herd. It was what I did while others were sleeping and celebrating that separated me from the herd. I have not even broken the surface of what I did when it came to my training. It was everything they told you not to do.
I just put up this new PowerBuilding audio interview with Mike Schwanke. Mike is a training partner of mine at Tampa Barbell and he’s a pro division powerlifter.
You’ll like it because Mike is super lean and strong at the same time and shares his cardio/conditioning schedule.
A lot of people ask how much cardio is too much when you are trying to stay strong so this should shed some light on the topic.
By the way did I mention Mike weighs 220 lbs and has squatted 1000 lbs, benched 700 lbs and deadlifted 800 lbs in competition! So you’ll definitely want to listen to Mike’s tips.
Got something to add to the discussion? Leave your comment below on how to balance strength with low to moderate body fat levels.