A:I'm originally from the east coast - Norwalk, Connecticut, about 40 miles north of New York City. Moved to the west coast about 7 years ago to Santa Barbara initially and then to Long Beach, CA where I currently live.
Q:Tell us about your fitness journey...
A:This is a bit of a long story. When I was a kid I never had a dad. My mom did an awesome job with me and she worked her ass off to make sure that I had a good life... but, like a lot of kids these days, I never really had a positive male figure to look up to. I turned to characters like Rambo and Hulk Hogan to learn about manhood. When I was 11, I was with my mom and aunt at the drugstore and I picked up a copy of Muscle and Fitness for the first time. I saw a picture of Achim Albrecht, a well known German bodybuilder at the time, and it made a huge impression on me. I started doing pushups and sit ups, and any exercise I could figure out. By age 11, I had picked up my own plastic weight set at a local yard sale and I was hooked. The problem was that I was also very anti social and introverted. I spent hours alone in my mom's basement, and my mom thought I needed to socialize more. She signed me up for a gym called Body Dynamics in my town. I hit the jackpot. This place was filled with champion powerlifters and bodybuilders. Some of the powerlifters took me under their wing and I earned the nickname "Junior." I learned how to squat, deadlift, and bench press, and won three different powerlifting championships in the teen division. This also helped my social life. I got onto the football, wrestling, and lacrosse teams at my high school, and I became more confident.
Around this time I decided that I wanted to be in the military, but to appease my mother's wishes I went to college and enrolled at the University of Connecticut with the hopes of eventually becoming an officer. As a compromise, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserves and went to boot camp at Parris Island in the summer of 1999. I was still a gym rat, but as an infantryman in the USMC, it’s hard to stay in marine shape and try to build muscle. Conditioning became more important to me at the time, and I was running a lot, which made me pretty god damn skinny. After graduating from UConn in 2001, 9/11 happened and I was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I served in southern Iraq doing ship security and small boat patrols up the Euphrates.
When I got home I had a very hard time. I got out of the Marine Corps and my unit got deployed again about a year or two later. I felt this immense sense of guilt for not being there, like a player on the bench. I didn't really believe in the war at the time, but those were my friends and fellow marines going back over there while I sat at home on my fat ass. I drank almost every night of the week and I was starting to lose myself. In an effort to get ahold of myself, I decided to use my veterans' benefits to go to school and I enrolled at UCONN for my Masters, and then eventually ended up at the University of California Santa Barbara for to do Ph.D work in international security and quantitative methodology. While I was there I became pretty depressed and turned to alcohol again. I ended up walking around with a bottle of whiskey every night. I woke up one morning and I couldn't recognize myself in the mirror. I decided that that was the day I was going to quit. I've drank maybe 6 times since that day and it was years ago. After I quit I decided to return to the iron. I began hitting the gym hard and researching ways to improve my diet. I experimented with everything I could and read everything I could. I began adding muscle, and started competing in natural shows. I placed first in my class at Musclemania California. Since then I've won my class at three powerlifting meets, competed in 2 NPC shows and just recently placed second in my last NPC show. So, in a nutshell, fitness saved my life.
Q:Why Did You Decide to Enter the Fitness Industry?
A:I love the fact that we can literally transform our bodies through proper nutrition. I like helping people become something they never thought they could. It absolutely amazes me what training and diet can do for people.
Q:Why Did You Start Your Youtube Channel?
A:I started it for that clueless 15 year old kid who's trying to grind it out in a corporate gym that doesn't have the kind of guys surrounding him that I did as a kid. Also, I give a lot of life advice on my channel as I know a lot of these kids don't have positive male role models. I'm basically trying to be a mentor to as many of those kids as I can reach.
Q:Who Have You Worked With?
A:In the IFBB, I've worked with Lionel Brown as a nutrition coach, and Tonia Moore as a trainer/nutrition coach. I've worked with both CT Fletcher and Mike Rashid as a nutrition coach. In entertainment, I've worked with a band called Straight No Chaser as a trainer and nutrition coach. In sports I've worked with Brian Banks of the Atlanta Falcons. I have also worked with MMA fighters and many amateur athletes.
Q:Why Did You Want to Compete?
A:Honestly, I compete for myself. It’s one thing to look at yourself in the mirror and notice gains, it’s something completely different to put your physique out there for public scrutiny. It’s an honest check for myself to see if I am truly progressing on this life journey. Of course I train to win and would love to win first place every time, but every victory is temporary. The journey is forever. Additionally, I know I'm a better powerlifter than bodybuilder, but I choose to compete in bodybuilding because it’s harder for me. Bodybuilding takes discipline and complete self awareness. Powerlifting takes having the balls to put yourself under a weight and lift it. I already know I have balls, I need discipline.
Q:What Does it Feel Like to Compete?
A:Honestly, bodybuilding is the only sport in the world where the actual competition is more boring than the training. I love being on stage, don't get me wrong, but I would much rather be in the gym rather than being dehydrated, caked in tanner, and shoving dry carbs down my gullet. It is a beautiful thing though, when everything comes together and you see yourself at your best and you know you've done everything you can to present yourself in the best way possible.
Q:What Type of Diet are you On?
A:I am currently eating only protein and fats in each meal up to my workout. I eat 75 to 90% of my carbs in the two hours after I train. I am a big believer in timing your carbs properly to take advantage of insulin sensitivity. Because of this practice, I pretty much stay lean all year round while putting on muscle regardless of how high my calories go. It allows me to eat more calories and carbs during my show prep, and I've still come in really shredded while maintaining muscle. I also believe in eating organic whenever possible and in drinking 2 to 3 gallons of water per day.
Q:Detail Your Workout Routine...
Monday - Back, bis, calves
Tuesday - Shoulders, Triceps, abs
Wednesday - Rest, stretch, functional exercise (kettle bell work)
Thursday - Leg Day!!!!
Friday- Chest abs
Saturday - Work on weaker body parts - normally hamstrings
Sunday - Rest
I focus on compound movements and try to keep my squat, deadlift, and bench at decent numbers since I'd like to power lift again someday. I believe in training for strength and volume. I do heavy sets of 3 to 5 as well as pump sets of 15 to 20. It’s done wonders for my physique. I also believe in using proper technique and strict form. Bodybuilding is an art as much as it is a science and it takes a certain finesse to get the weight to do what you want it to do to your body.
Q:I've seen a video of you talking about mixing "broscience" and kinesiology, and I could not agree more. Why so passionate?
A:I'm passionate because, as a social scientist with Ph.D work under my belt, I am trained in the scientific method and I believe that it is being misrepresented by people who think they are experts because they read an article. Science requires a constant search for a truth that may never be found. This requires asking the right questions. You develop theories and generate hypotheses to test those theories. If the evidence does not support that theory, you abandon it. Up to here, myself and guys like Layne Norton agree. Let me say that I have no problem with Layne other than his labeling of everything that is contrary to his and his peers research as "bro science." I disagree with this because, regardless of what was found in any experiment, the findings only hold on that specific sample size that was chosen by the researcher. Every time we choose to use a new technique, or a new supplement, or to follow a new diet, we are conducting a self experiment. Some things that might hold in a lab might not hold in a real world setting because there could be intervening variables. Yes we can get an idea of what might work for us from scientific papers, but to label something as "bro science" is to say that you shouldn't try it because it completely dismisses that idea. Bodybuilding is an experiment of one and any experiment with a population of one is not an exact science. Any serious researcher will tell you that. What you are left with is to try different things. What might work for me might not work for you, but you keep looking and you might find it. I have no problem with science, but I believe that these guys are now using "bro science" as a marketing term to support their ideas and dismiss all others. There is something to be said for learning from experience.
Q:What Would You Change About the Fitness Industry if You Could?
A:The corporate fitness centers that are not compound movement friendly. They are leading to a generation of lifters with only superficial strength.
Q:Never thought of that, but it does make sense. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A:All my brothers and sisters who serve or have served in the US Military. Additionally, I honestly look up to guys who had nothing and made something out of themselves. Fifty Cent is a huge inspiration for me. My training partner Thad Coleman. This guy is a powerlifter who has squatted 1000+ lbs. He just switched to bodybuilding and made it to the national level in his first year. A lot of the guys that surround me at Metroflex Gym Long Beach like CT Fletcher and Mike Rashid. Mike is a boss and I'm amazed at what he can balance with his training, competitive, and business life. CT's drive fascinates me. I mean this guy has a machine running his heart right now and he's still lifting. He's inspired thousands. He's trying to put a documentary together about his life right now and is raising money through indiegogo, so if you'd like to hear his story go to: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ct-fletcher-s-massterplan-project
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Interview done by Elliot Rivera for HealtHaven.com