How did you get started in bodybuilding?
As a youth, I admired bodybuilding and fitness legends Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Lee. These figures became an inspiration and jumpstarted my dedication to training and the fitness lifestyle. Also, my father was into weight lifting, so I was training on weights and martial arts since a very young age. As soon as I felt the iron in my hands I was hooked!
However, I was still your typical skinny 150lb hardgainer and have had to work my ass off to find success in this industry. I was also very fortunate to cross paths with true masters of weightlifting and powerlifting as a young man in New Jersey. This paired with hard work and a thirst for knowledge left me with the tools necessary for success.
What has been the biggest mistake in your training?
Getting Injured! When you are going balls to the wall, sometimes it is important to remember to control your ambition for the best long term gains. Staying pain free is priority number 1. Don’t forget about flexibility, mobility, and active recovery to help increase gains.
What motivates you?
My beautiful wife and daughter are my number one inspiration and motivation. Also this is my dream so I have to keep it alive and watch it grow. I have very specific goals in regards to my goals, and I will not stop until I reach them.
Tell us about your workout routine. How many days do you train? What exercises do you do?
Still looking for an exact routine to combine power and hypertrophy training? Here’s what I’ve found to be ideal for myself and almost all of my clients. Instead of a traditional body part split, you’ll be doing two lower body and two upper days, each with a focus on a particular lift. You’ll work that main lift to death to get stronger AND bigger, and then fill in the gaps with extra movements for each muscle.
Day 1: Squat and Lower Body
Squats: Work up to a top set of 2-4 reps. Then, do 3 more sets of 4-6, 6-8, and 8-12, respectively, taking a little more weight off the bar each time. Don’t miss any reps, but make sure the last rep of each set is just about all you have left! This set and rep scheme will your bread and butter for your main lift on each day.
- Leg Curl: 4 sets of 15 reps to near failure.
- Leg Press: 4 sets of 15 to near failure; use a FULL range of motion! There’s no reason to exercise your ego on the leg press.
- Weighted Sit-ups: 4 sets of 10 with the weight behind your head.
- Standing Calf Raises: 4 sets of 20 with as much weight as possible. Make sure you really bring the pain! Your calves can handle a lot if your mind can handle the burn.
Day 2: Bench Press and Upper Body
- Bench Press: Work up to a top set of 2-4 reps. Then, do 3 more sets of 4-6, 6-8, and 8-12, respectively, taking a little more weight off the bar each time. Don’t miss any reps, but make sure the last rep of each set is just about all you have left!
- Close-Grip Pull-ups: 4 sets of 8, adding as much weight as possible. You don’t need to bring your chin all the way over the bar, but do get a full stretch at the bottom, and pull yourself up so your eyes are at least level with the bar.
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 10 to near failure, using the same weight for each set. It’s alright if you only get 8 or 9 on the last couple of sets.
- Dumbbell Rows: 2 sets of 20 per side. Don’t feel the need to use textbook form, either. A little body English is fine for rows, as long as you get a good stretch at the bottom and feel your lats and traps doing most of the work.
- Curls and Rope Pushdown superset: Bring a pair of dumbbells over to the cable stack, and superset 4 sets of 15 dumbbell curls with 4 sets of 15 rope pushdowns. Use weights that challenge you, but don’t allow yourself much rest in between, either.
Day 3: Deadlift and Lower Body
- Conventional Deadlift: Work up to a top set of 2-4 reps. Then, do 3 more sets of 4-6, 6-8, and 8-12, respectively, taking a little more weight off the bar each time. Don’t miss any reps, but make sure the last rep of each set is just about all you have left! Also, a little lower back rounding is okay, but don’t give yourself a hernia trying to handle more weight than you’re really capable of.
- Barbell Rows: 4 sets of 12 with as much weight as you can handle with good form. Yea, this is a lower body day, but the bar’s already on the floor, and you can never have too much upper back work!
- Hack Squat Machine: 4 sets of 15 to near failure. Wraps your knees up if this exercise aggravates them, or substitute with lunges. For either exercise, make sure you use controlled form with a LONG range of motion.
- Standing Pull-down Crunches: 4 sets of 20 to near failure.
- Seated Calf Raises: 4 sets of 30, squeezing each rep at the top and holding each stretch at the bottom for a 2-count. This will burn, but you can get through it! Calves need some serious pain to grow.
Day 4: Overhead Press and Upper Body
- Standing Military Press: Work up to a top set of 2-4 reps. Then, do 3 more sets of 4-6, 6-8, and 8-12, respectively, taking a little more weight off the bar each time. Don’t miss any reps, but make sure the last rep of each set is just about all you have left! Don’t use leg drive, either – this is a STRICT military press, not a push-press.
- Wide Pull-ups: 4 sets of 8 with as much weight as you can handle. Use the same rules for range of motion as before: Get a full stretch at the bottom of each rep, and at least bring your eyes level to the bar.
- Dips: Use a similar progression as you’ve used for your main lifts, but with slightly higher reps. Work up to a top set of 4-6 reps, then drop the weight for 3 more sets of 6-8, 8-10, and 10-12 respectively. You don’t need to go down so far that your shoulders start hurt, but don’t cut your range of motion short, either. Descend until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, and go all the way to lockout on each rep.
- Machine Rows: Pick your favorite plate-loaded (not cable) rowing machine and do 4 sets of 15. You can do both arms or one arm at a time – it’s up to you.
- Hammer Curls and V-bar Pushdown superset. Just like last time, bring a pair of dumbbells over to the pulley station, but this time set up the V-bar for pushdowns. Do 4 sets of 20 on hammer curls, supersetted with 4 sets of 20 on the pushdowns, using short rest periods of 30-45 seconds.
Progression: More Weight, Reps and Sets
You’ll only get bigger and stronger on this program by adding more reps, more sets and most importantly – more weight! Each week, try to add 5-10 pounds to the bar and get the same reps or more. Once you start to stall on weight and reps, start adding more sets to the MAIN movement. First do another set in the heaviest and lowest rep range, then keep progressing by adding sets in the lighter rep ranges. Eventually you’ll get to the point where you’re doing 8 total work sets for the main movement rather than 4. At that point, you should be strong enough to start adding weight to the bar once more!
What are your favorite exercises?
If there were only 3 exercises I could do the rest of my life, I would without a doubt choose barbell squat, deadlift, and bench press. The biomechanics of training can be very complicated, however, don’t always overthink your training, be sure to keep progressing on these compound movements.
What is your diet like and what principles do you follow?
From MUSCLE UP BONUS BOOK part of my Bigger Better Faster Program:
“Your Diet: The REAL “Secret” to Muscle Growth!
Fats: Your Hormones’ Best Friends
Now that the 1980s and 90s are behind us, even the nutritionally-illiterate layperson isn’t quite so scared of fat. Still, most bodybuilders don’t seem to understand the vital functions of this essential nutrient. Pick up any diet book, or read any article by a popular nutritionist, and you’ll see plenty of babble about “healthy” fats – olive oil, nuts, and the like. But are those fats really the best? And what about saturated, animal fats – are they really that bad? To both questions, my answer is a resounding “no.”
The truth is, properly-sourced saturated fat does wonders for your health – especially if you’re a man. It’s been shown time and again to increase testosterone, something you’ll need in abundance if you want to make appreciable gains. The same is true for cholesterol, which is actually one of the building blocks of this crucial hormone. Want to feel great, lose fat, and gain muscle? Eat your beef and eggs!
If you’re worried about your heart health and cholesterol levels, don’t be. Study after study has shown that eating dietary cholesterol is not what leads to an increase in your blood cholesterol. In fact, rises in LDL (the bad cholesterol) and cardiovascular problems are most likely caused by the over-consumption of sugar and starch. More on that in a bit.
So, where should you get all this saturated fat? Start with all those foods that are supposedly bad for you. Whole eggs and fattier cuts of beef are my favorites, but pork and skin-on chicken are pretty good, too. If at all possible, buy grass-fed beef, and get your poultry and eggs from pasture-raised chickens. This isn’t essential – and it’s certainly more expensive – but properly-raised and well-fed animals contain the healthiest fats. Most of the problems with beef fat, for example, arise from feeding cows corn instead of grass.
Coconut oil is another great source of saturated fat. It contains tons of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which have also been shown to cause a reduction in body fat. That’s right: get leaner by eating more fat! I think it tastes pretty good, too, but it does have a strong coconut aroma. If you’re going to use it, don’t heat it up too much. It’s got a super-low smoke point, and it’ll go rancid if you use it for frying or sauteing.
Aside from their positive effects on your hormone levels, all these fats are fantastic for energy. Forget the nonsense about carbohydrates being the best form of sustained energy. If you’re used to eating tons of them, then sure, you’ll “crash” without your thrice-daily influx of sugar. But once you get accustomed a higher fat (and lower carb) intake, you’ll wonder how you ever lived differently. For most people, fats provide a smooth, even keel of energy. They’re also great for adding clean calories to your muscle-building diet. Add those calories with carbs or weight-gain powders, and you’ll find yourself getting bigger in all the wrong places.
So, what about those “healthy” fats you always hear about? While they may not be the holy grail of nutrition some dieticians make them out to be, they’re still great. It’s a good idea to balance out your saturated fat intake with some monounsaturated fats, which you can find in abundance in olive oil, avocados, and nuts. Steer clear of foods high in polyunsaturates and hydrogenated fats, though. These include corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and pretty much every other highly-processed oil. These foods contain the real “bad fats.”
What supplements do you take?
I am a DYMATIZE Sponsored Athlete. I have been using their supplements for years now, and could not be happier with the results. My favorite DYMATIZE supplements are Chocolate Iso100, XPAND 2X, and the MASS when bulking up!
Who is your favorite athlete, and who inspires you?
I don’t have one favorite athlete; however my inspiration comes from the right athletes and artists, at the right time.