Staying Ripped!!

Motivation gets you started. Habit keeps you going. - Jim Ryan


Randy Santel Professional EaterAs I was approaching the end of the big transformation contest, I started wondering what I was going to do afterwards. During the contest, a very big part of my motivation was to win the contest, in addition to just wanting to be RIPPED!! What was my motivation going to be now that I had achieved my goal? I definitely did not want to let myself go and gain all the weight back that I worked so hard to lose!! I had played almost every sport possible during my childhood (thanks mom & dad!!), and playing college football completely drained me of my love & care for sports, so staying in shape by playing a sport was out of the question & not an option.

While I was sitting in the sauna one day, I figured out that I could either be a fitness model, a "dancer", or something else that requires you to look great and be in great shape. I started to worry after that though, because there is no way I could be good at anything like that. I can't dance at all, and I always have this "shit-eating grin" on my face, so modeling would be difficult. Also, I could never pull off a sexy look like "Blue Steel" in Zoolander. Plus, I loved to eat!!

Luckily, a few days after that, my buddy Dan Graham invited me to be his partner to take on a 28" pizza in St. Louis called The Pointersaurus. If we finished an 11lb pizza in less than 1 hour, we would win $500 bucks!! This got me really excited!! If you have ever been on a long strict diet, you know that after a while you start craving EVERYTHING in sight. I agreed, and we took on The Pointersaurus exactly one week after I took my final photos. We won easily, winning $500!! A few days later, I started to really think...

During this process, I found out that there were food challenges all over the place, and I was very good at eating. Plus, nobody around me really enjoyed food challenges, so it gave me my own little niche. When you eat thousands of calories at a time, you obviously have to workout a lot the next few days!! Otherwise, you WILL get fat, and I did not want that!! This would be great motivation for me!! After getting back from my trip to New Zealand as the contest winner, I dedicated myself to eating food challenges and working out!! Now I have over 113 food challenge wins, and I still maintain my weight of around 240lbs. Hopefully you read my Getting Ripped!! section about how I lost weight. Now, I will explain what I do now to maintain my weight while doing food challenges every weekend:

My Workout Schedule

Typically, I do most of my food challenges on weekends, and I do most of my working out during the weekdays. I often have to adjust my schedule to allow for changes or trips, but I will now describe the schedule of a "perfect" week for me without any changes, and with me doing just 1 big food challenge on Saturday afternoon.

After months of working out completely by myself, I found that I was not enjoying my workouts nearly as much as I used to. I was not really wanting to join a typical gym because I was able to do all that stuff at my place. After I finished the contest, I rewarded myself with a bench, squat rack, and more olympic weights so that I could focus back on gaining some muscle. So I started looking into joining a boxing gym nearby my apartment to take the place of my boring cardio workouts. I ended up being able to get a deal on my membership (Its way too expensive if you don't), so I joined and started the next day. I still workout there now about 5-6 days per week in the morning before work. On Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, I do a boxing workout which focuses mostly on my upper body cardio, with a little lower body action. On Tuesdays & Thursdays, I do a kickboxing workout that focuses mostly on my lower body cardio, with a little upper body action. About once or twice per month if it fits my schedule, I do a kickboxing workout on Saturdays in the morning. I will explain those workouts better later.

I do 15 minutes of core/abs in the morning during classes, so I only do "Ab Ripper X" maybe once or twice per month. Plus, as a professional eater, I don't want my abs too strong because I need my stomach to be able to expand. I just need my abs looking good ;) With that being said, I don't really do much other than stretch during the day. Unlike during the transformation contest, I do all my resistance training at night. On the 13 hour flights each way to/from New Zealand, I developed 2 great weightlifting workouts. I focus more on weight training now because I need the muscle and strength to boost my metabolism so I can burn all my calories from weekends.

On Mondays & Thursdays, I do a workout that focuses on pushing weights, so it mostly works my chest, triceps, & shoulders. On Tuesdays & Fridays, I do a workout that focuses on pulling weights, along with all my leg exercises. This workout takes care of my legs, back, & biceps. I will explain both of those workouts later.

I usually take Wednesday evening off. If I feel like it, I jog a few miles on the trail nearby. Like I said earlier, Saturdays are usually my "GAMEDAY!!" As I advised in my Tips For Food Challenges section, I get a workout in about 2-3 hours before I am scheduled to eat. I typically either do a kickboxing workout, or I do a workout similar to the upper body circuit that I used in my Getting Ripped!! section. I take Sundays completely off!! I have found that after a BIG food challenge, it sucks trying to workout with 6-7lbs of food running through your system, so I let my body rest. If I do anything, I go sit in the sauna for 20-25 minutes to help my body get rid of all the crap that I ate/drank on Friday & Saturday. That is a pretty typical week for me. Now I will explain everything in further & better detail:

My Morning Workouts

Before I started working out at the boxing gym, I did 2 types of cardio workouts in the morning. On Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, I went over to the apartment fitness center and walked for 35 minutes on the treadmill. Like when I was losing weight, I walked at a 4.5mph pace at a 6-7.5% incline without holding on to the safety railings. On Tuesdays & Thursdays, I did a similar shadowboxing routine to the one that I did on a few Sundays during the contest period. The workout lasted about 42 minutes because thats how long the KE$HA CD was (Animal). Eventually these two workouts started to get boring, so I started looking into joining a fitness gym for my morning cardio. Please note that my morning cardio sessions got a great spark for about a month when KE$HA released her 2nd album (Cannibal) on November 19th, 2010 which lasts 35 minutes ;)

At the end of December in 2010, I joined the boxing gym that I do my morning cardio at. I like it because I workout during a class with between 5 & 30 other people, depending on the time and day. This helps me a lot to stay motivated!! There is an instructor, but I only really do about 1/2 the stuff they say. Most of the time, I am in my own little world in the back just punching & kicking away!! I workout during the 6am class, which usually has around 5-10 brave & hardworking people. The class lasts a full 1 hour. The first 15 minutes is a warmup period. The next 30 minutes is where you work the hardest, either doing boxing or kickboxing moves to your individual bag, along with exercises in between. For the last 15 minutes, you work core & abs, which is why I don't do "Ab Ripper X".

It really is a great workout, and people of all ages & fitness levels workout there. Every instructor teaches a completely different workout, and there is usually pretty good upbeat music playing the entire time. I typically sweat a lot, and I always walk out feeling great & ready to start my day!! This can't be your only workout though because it never works your back muscles. You do a lot of pushups and punches, but never anything for your back muscles. If you only do boxing & kickboxing classes, you are setting yourself up for bad posture and back/neck problems. Another great thing I like about the workout though is that you get out of it what you put into it. If you work harder, you will burn more calories. I could probably do the same workout at home, but I will most likely continue to workout there until either I get bored, they raise my rates, or I find a great gym that is smart enough to sponsor me. Hint!! Hint!! ;)

My Evening Workouts

Now its time to talk about my evening weightlifting workouts. Like I said above, I rewarded myself after the contest by buying a bench, more olympic weights, and a squat rack with a lat pulldown tower attached. With these in mind, I developed my new workout plan. I decided to lift 4 days per week. I work my chest, shoulders, & triceps on Mondays & Thursdays. I work my legs, back, & biceps on Tuesdays & Fridays. This schedule gives my muscles ample time to recover. To start, here is my Mondays & Thursdays workout:

(1) Bench Press (Pyramid Set-12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 3) (6x6) or (6x10)
Military Press (4 sets of 8)
Inclined Bench Press (3 sets of 8)
Pushups (3 sets of 20) (Superset w/ Tricep Extensions)
Tricep Extensions (3 sets of 12) (Superset w/ Pushups)
Dips (3 sets of 10)
Dumbbell Shoulder Circuit (3 sets of 10/Each Movement)

I like this workout a lot!! It takes between 40 & 50 minutes. I always keep my workouts under 1 hour. After an hour of being under stress during a workout, studies show that the body processes begin to be more catalytic than anabolic. This means that your muscles start breaking down instead of growing. This workout includes almost all of the main lifts, and they all include movements that use multiple muscles. The tricep extension is the only simple move, so thats why I make it part of a superset with pushups. This means that I do 1 set of pushups, and then immediately do a set of tricep extensions. Since my triceps are already being worked during the pushups, they get worked EXTRA HARD while doing the sets of tricep extensions.

The other thing that you may not understand is the bench press explanation. I try to vary my workouts from week to week so that my body does not get used to my workouts and begin to "plateau." Therefore, I switch between three options. My first option is to do a "pyramid set" where I start by doing more reps of a lighter weight, and gradually increase the weight while lowering the reps until I can only do a few reps of a heavier weight. The second option is to focus just on a heavier weight, which helps build strength, so I do 6 sets of 6 repititions. Remember that I workout alone, so I rarely risk lifting heavy weights because I don't have a spotter. Option three is to focus on doing more reps of a lighter weight, which helps build muscle endurance, so I do 6 sets of 10-12 repetitions. A "pyramid set" combines both of those theories. Now, here is my other workout:

(1) Squats (Pyramid Set- 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 3) (6x6) or (6x10)
(2) Pullups (I do a set of 5-8 between each set of Squats)
(3) Front Squats (4x8)
(4) Lat Pulldowns (4x10) (1 between each set of Front Squats)
(5) Romanian Deadlifts (3x10)
(6) Inverted Pullups (3x10) (1 between each set of RDLs)
(7) Shoulder Shrugs (3x15) (Do 1 lunge circuit between sets)
(8) Lunge Circuit (Front / Reverse / Lateral) (6 reps each per leg)
(9) Bicep Curls (3x10)
(10) Good Mornings (3x10) (1 between each set of Bicep Curls)

You will see a few similarities between the two workouts, but this one is pretty different. I keep switching back-and-forth between leg & back exercises. Therefore, to save time and to keep my heart rate up, I just do 2 exercises at a time. As an example I will do a set of front squats, and then do a set of lat pulldowns, and then keep switching until my sets are complete. I am always moving around which burns even more calories and makes my workouts more productive. I am not able to do this with the other workout.

Therefore, between sets in the 1st workout, I move around and do what I can to keep my heart rate up. I do things like calf raises, jumping jacks, standing core movements, etc... Overall, I enjoy my workouts and feel they are pretty productive. I have definitely noticed results. Its really pretty difficult to notice much though when your body fluctuates like mine does. My main goal is to maintain great health, keep my cholesterol down, and to counteract all the bad calories that I consume during my weekends. These weight workouts definitely help!! Looking GREAT is just a perk ;)

My Conclusion

Like my workouts that you read about in my Getting Ripped!! section, I hope that these have helped you think about your own personal fitness plan. Even what i do now is very tough, and more extensive than most people have time for. Its definitely a lot more reasonable than what I did to win the transformation contest though. If I was not doing the boxing/kickboxing workouts in the morning, I would still include workouts such as "The Spartacus Workout." If you are interested, Men's Health has created "The Spartacus Workout 2.0" with all new moves!! To check it out, click here. The big thing that I try to do is to keep everything fun so that I usually enjoy it all!!

This section has been focused a lot on me & what I do so that you can see what it takes to do what I do. Its one thing to be shorter with a great metabolism where you can eat what you want and still burn off most of the calories while putting forth less effort. Its a whole nother level to be 6'5" with a lower metabolism & larger body type. You definitely can't sit there and say that I have great genetics (sorry mom & dad)!! I really don't care what you think about food challenges & competitive eating, but hopefully you respect the dedication that it takes me to stay fit. It's DEFINITELY not that easy!!

► To find out more advice to help you develop or improve your own health & fitness check out my Fitness & Nutrition Advice section. 

► Winning the Spartacus Challenge & maintaining my weight as a professional eater would not be possible without a great nutrition plan. To find out what my diet was like during the contest, and what its like now during the week, check out my Nutrition & Diet section.

► If you have have any questions or need help understanding something, please contact me. I will be happy to help you :)


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