To get something that you have never had, you have to do something that you have never done before...
Before starting my extreme fitness program, I was already working out a few days per week. My big problem was my diet, & the holiday season was finally over, so that helped A TON. As you will see in my big Fitness & Nutrition Advice section, the human body does not respond well to rapid changes. The best results happen over a period of time, and not overnight. My exercise program was extreme, but since I had already been working out multiple times per week, my body was able to adjust a little easier. The big thing to keep in mind, so that you don't feel lazy after reading everything, is that my lifestyle was not really considered "normal" during this time period. I just started living in a new apartment in a new city, had no friends nearby outside of work, had no girlfriend, and had absolutely no responsibilities. I knew this was the perfect time in my life to achieve something I had never been before... COMPLETELY RIPPED!!
One thing that should give you hope though is that during this time period, I worked as a concrete estimator, sitting behind a computer behind a desk in an office for 45-50 hours per week. This made my weight loss goals even harder to achieve, so I had to work even harder & smarter when not in the office. Now that you have a very rough background of my lifestyle, I will begin by telling you about my workout schedule. After that, I will give details on each routine.
My Workout Schedule
I worked as a concrete estimator from 7am to 4pm everyday from Monday through Friday. I always had Saturdays & Sundays off to enjoy the weekend. During this two month period, I worked out 2.5 times per day during the week, and 1 time per day on Saturdays & Sundays. I took a 45 minute lunch everyday, and either did an ab workout or walked/jogged. This is what the .5 is referring to. I woke up early at 5am during the week so that I could get a workout in and rev up my metabolism for the day. Since I was working out a lot, I chose to get my strength training workouts out of the way in the mornings after a good night of sleep. On Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, I focused on my upper body. On Tuesdays & Thursdays, I focused on my lower body. I only strength trained my legs two days because they were being overworked already. Like I said earlier, on my lunch, I stretched & did an ab workout or walked for 25 minutes.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, I did my ab workout. If you are into fitness, you most likely have heard of this workout. I did "Ab Ripper X" which is the ab workout from P90X. It's a KILLER ab workout, and lasts about 15 minutes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I walked/jogged for about 25 minutes around the neighborhood that my office was located in. I got home from work about 4:30pm, and started my evening workout around 5:30pm. My evening workouts focused more on cardio & overall conditioning, rather than weights.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, I either walked on the treadmill for 45 minutes or did an interval sprints workout. This just depended on how my body was feeling at that time. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and for my 1 Saturday workout, I did a GREAT workout called "The Spartacus Workout" which the transformation contest was centered around. I will explain it better later, but its a 42 minute workout that works your entire body. There are 3 rounds, each consisting of the same 10 one minute exercises, and most people don't finish the 3rd round. On Sundays, if the weather was nice, I lightly jogged about 4 miles. If it was too cold or the weather was bad, or if I just felt like it, I turned on my KE$HA cd and did a fun dancing / shadow boxing routine that I created when I used to shadowbox at 24 Hour Fitness.
I am sure you are laughing at the thought of that, but it was my most fun workout of the week!! ;) That was basically my routine for those 2 months of the contest. If I was ever bored at my apartment, which happened about 2-3 times per week (I did not have cable!!), I went and sat in the sauna at my apartment complex for about 25 minutes. The sauna worked great and made be sweat A LOT, & I always felt really good about 30 minutes afterwards. Now, I will get into a little detail about the actual workouts that I performed during the week...
My Morning Workouts
As I have said, I did not have a gym membership at the time, so I worked out in my "Sanctuary" which is the 2nd bedroom in my apartment. For my equipment, I had a tower so that I could do dips, The Perfect Pushup for pushups, The Perfect Pullup for pullups & inverted pullups in my doorway, a few sets of dumbbells, and an olympic bar & weight set. For the weight set, I had the bar along with 2x45s, 2x35s, 2x25s, 4x10s, 4x5s, and 4x2.5s. For dumbbells, I had 2x25s, 2x15s, 2x12s, and 2x10s. As I said above, I did my main resistance training in the mornings. Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, I did my upper body circuit. On Tuesdays & Thursdays, I woke up and did my lower body circuit. The workouts lasted about 50-60 minutes depending on the day. I did 3 sets of the upper body circuit & 2 sets of the lower body circuit, with a few minutes rest in between each circuit. These are the main circuits that I performed:
As you can see, I involved almost every possible upper body muscle. During this time period, I was focused on getting ripped, and not on gaining muscle. I wanted to keep my heart rate up the entire workout and in my fat-burning zone. Therefore, I did not rest very much while switching from one exercise to the next. I designed this workout so that I could do that, meaning that I tried not to work the same muscles twice in a row. I was only able to do about 5-6 pullups at a time. Therefore, I just did 5 sets of 5 reps, totalling 25 repetitions per circuit. I also focused a lot on my back because the back is the 2nd largest set of muscles (2nd to legs), meaning that working my back muscles hard produced more testosterone to both help muscle growth & recovery, and to boost my fat-burning metabolism during the day which I definitely needed to get results!!
Also, since I was sitting at a computer hunched over for 9 hours during the day, this helped my posture and neck muscles. This was one hell of an upper body workout, and I definitely recommend it!! If you try it, remember that you need to adjust the weights & repetitions to fit your personal capabilities. Also, start slow!! You may only be able to do 2 sets when starting out. Remember, "One man's workout is another man's warmup!!" If you stay consistent in your training and work hard over a period of time, eventually this will turn from your workout into your warmup!! Good luck!! ;)
Just like on the upper body circuit, I developed the workout to include basically every single leg muscle. This circuit took longer to complete than the upper body circuit, and was a lot harder, so I only did 2 sets. To get the bar up so that I could squat, in case you were wondering, I just did a power clean and hoisted it up into position. I did not have a squat rack at the time. For military press, I kneeled on the floor since my apartment has lower ceilings and I am 6'5". Like the upper body circuit, this lower body workout was AWESOME!! My legs were definitely BLASTED by the end... and tired!! Also, since the leg muscles are the largest, this workout really helped boost my metabolism throughout my day while sitting at the office. Remember that if you try this workout, you will need to adjust the weights and repetitions to fit your own capabilities. Again, don't try too much too fast!! Ease into it, and make sure that you are able to finish all of the sets with great form. Doing only a few repititions with great form is definitely more productive than many reps with bad form ;)
My Daytime Workouts
After a very hard workout bright & early in the morning, my daytime workouts were pretty brief. I took a 45 minute break for lunch everyday, and spent about 30 minutes of it stretching and working out. This helped get the blood flowing through my body after a few hours of sitting down, which helped my muscle recovery processes along with keeping my metabolism elevated. I don't really need to go into detail about my Tuesdays & Thursdays routine. I just did a series of stretches and then went for a 20-25 minute light jog/walk around the neighborhood that my company's office was located in. Since I had tough leg workouts on those days, this brief workout was just to get the blood flowing and to loosen my tight muscles and hips.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, my workout was a little tougher. Like I said above, I did the "Ab Ripper X" workout from the P90X series. This is the BEST AB WORKOUT that I have ever done, and I have done a lot of ab workouts throughout my years of playing football. I definitely recommend it for anybody that is wanting to have a very strong core (abs). To be honest, as long as you are not trying to be an elite athlete requiring maximum core strength, if you can do the entire "Ab Ripper X" program all the way through with great form, you really don't need to work on your abs. You just need to make sure that your core stabilizer muscles are in great shape, which requires moves such as a "plank" isometric movement.
On that note, you should NOT try the workout thinking that you will finish all of the sets. There are 11 moves total, and you do 25 reps of each exercise. When I first started, I was only able to manage 10-15 reps on each exercise. After doing it for a few weeks, 3 times per week, I was able to finish all of the sets!! I know many other people that have tried it, & I know that ALL of them recommend it. If you do try it, make sure that you do the upright moves on a comfortable exercise mat or pillow, because its hard on your tailbone. If you can do the entire program with great form, and you DO NOT have at least a 6-pack, your fitness program is not your problem at all. The problem is that YOUR DIET SUCKS!! For help, please check out my Nutrition & Diet section along with my Fitness & Nutrition Advice.
My Evening Workouts
Since my morning workouts focused more on strength & resistance training, my evening workouts focused more on cardio & total body conditioning. My harder evening workouts were on Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Saturdays. On those days, I performed "The Spartacus Workout" which was TOUGH!! As part of the transformation contest, I had to perform this workout multiple times per week. "The Spartacus Workout" was designed by Men's Health, and consists of doing three rounds of the same ten 1-minute exercises. One round, like I said, consists of ten exercises that you do for 1 minute each, and you get 15 seconds of rest between each exercise. After completing one round, you get a 2 minute break and then you do it all over again. The complete workout takes a total of 42 minutes including all of the rest periods. When I first started, I was only able to complete two rounds, just to give you an idea of how hard it is. By the time the 2 months was over, I was able to successfully complete all three rounds!! The workout is fully detailed on Menshealth.com, and defines all 10 of the exercises!! CLICK HERE!!
It really is a great workout, & I can see why they used it to get the "gladiators" in shape for the show!! If you are wanting to try the workout, you may just want to plan on trying two rounds for your first time. If you think you can do all three, but fail, you will just get discouraged. If you are able to finish all three rounds your first time, your form was probably really bad. I used a 25lb dumbbell for the 1st exercise, the goblet squat. For the others, I either used my 10lb, 12lb, or 15lb dumbbells. For those of you who are wanting to try the workout, I am going to make your experience A LOT BETTER... click here!! By clicking the link, you will find a downloadable soundtrack to the workout!! I used it, and it worked very well. The soundtrack tells you exactly when to start & stop during the entire workout, so all you need to do is to know the exercises and the order of them. If you try this workout for a period of time, I GUARANTEE that you will see results! If you need proof, check out my transformation photos ;)
On Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, I either did an interval sprint workout outside or walked for 45 minutes on the apartment treadmill, depending on how I felt that day. As you have seen by now, I worked out WAY MORE than I should have, so I ended up walking more often than sprinting. When walking on the treadmill, I walked at a 4.5mph pace at a 6-7.5% incline. I did my best to never hold on to any of the rails. By holding the rails, this significantly decreases the productivity of the workout and you burn A LOT less calories. At that rate, I usually burned around 500 calories per walk. To make the treadmill more exciting, I always listened to music. Also, since it was convenient, these were the days that I usually sat in the sauna, since I was already there after walking the treadmill...
On days that my body was feeling good, I did an interval sprint workout. I adapted this from when I used to run 110 yd sprints during football workouts. To get warmed up and my heart rate going, I jogged for about 10 minutes all the way out of my apartment complex down to a flat trail nearby. I measured out 120yds ahead of time, so that I could sprint that distance as fast as I could each time. I started on the same side each time, and then briskly walked back after each all-out sprint. I did between 12-14 sprints and then called it a day. The purpose of interval sprints is fairly complex. Science says that it burns a lot more fat than just running at the same pace for long distances. To better understand the theory according to Men's Health, click here. The information sounds pretty legit, but I liked sprints mostly because they really work your hamstrings. Try an interval workout and see what you think!! You will be impressed!!
Before I say anything else, I need to stress that the above training schedule was not healthy and was not safe. After the long 2 months, my body was DONE, and it took some time for my body to recover from being very overtrained. I knew my final photos were being taken on March 12th and not a day later, so my mind was completely focused on being ready for that day, no matter what. I did everything I could, and trained for the final day just like a bodybuilding contest. For the last few days I even took the water pills that women take to reduce bloating during their period. I was very proud of myself for finishing the contest, & I can proudly say that I will never train like that again in my life, unless its for A LOT of money ;) I gave it my all and held nothing back!! If I would have lost the contest, I still would have been a winner, because I proved to myself that I could do it!! Thank you to my work along with the family & friends that supported me throughout the contest period :)
On that note, I want to stress that you SHOULD NOT attempt the same training schedule that I did above. I have detailed my entire schedule to inform you of what it took to win that contest and to get those results. Feel free to try any and all of the workouts listed, but please don't workout as much as I did. Plus, 95% of you can't anyway because you don't have the time. Also, I was lucky enough to not have any peer pressure or anything around me to distract my focus. Please just use the information above to help you start thinking about your personal fitness goals and workouts. Also, I hope that this inspires you, because if I can do all that, you can definitely achieve your goals too!! Contact me if you need help or have questions!!
Exactly 1 week after finishing the contest on Friday March 19th, 2010, I completed my very first food challenge, the 28" Pointersaurus Pizza located at Pointer's Pizza in St. Louis, Missouri. On that day I realized my new "love!!" The world of food challenges & competitive eating intrigues me in so many different ways. One of the reasons is that it creates a whole new level of motivation for me to workout. As a professional eater with over 113 food challenge wins, I still work out A LOT so that I can maintain my physique. I just workout a lot different than during the contest period. To find out how I train now as a professional eater, check out my Staying Ripped!! page.