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Max Aita is the head weightlifting coach at Juggernaut Training Systems. He has spent the better part of 20 years in the sport of Weightlifting and Powerlifting. He draws his training methodology and knowledge from the many great coaches whom he has personally worked with including; Steve Gough (USA), Ivan Abadjiev (BUL), Boris Sheiko (RUS).
Max has produced over half a dozen senior national medalists in Weightlifting, Multiple All time World Record holders in Powerlifting, and has worked with CrossFit Regional and Games level competitors to develop strength and Olympic lifting technique. He also competed in Powerlifting himself.
Max shared his experience training under an intense Bulgarian olympic weightlifting system, which he got into as a teenager. He lived and learned from Bulgarians to understand their training systems, which are very demanded. Athletes had to live under the same roof, and Max’s bed was in the dining room.
Bulgarian coaching was focused on winning. It didn’t care much for individuals. It was a system based on pushing hard, with the hopes that athletes will figure out and produce strong minded winners. The training environment was strong. The focus was on hitting 1 RM’s of all the olympic lifts, every single day. No accessory work.
Max also shared a lot of knowledge on training intensity, volume, recovery, variety, tapering, peaking, and more.
In this book, Max breaks down olympic weightlifting technique into how high you pull the bar, time to get under bar to receive it, and trajectory of the bar. Beyond his assessment classification, Max also provides specific training plans and exercises to help you improve your olympic weightlifting.
Max teaching Mike olympic weightlifting tips for a better jerk
Marisa Inda is currently the American record holder in Bench, deadlift as well as total in the 114lb class in the USAPL, but she is probably better known as the “pull-up dancing girl” from the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Marisa trained in gymnastics as a kid, but realized as a teenager the sport had a short shelf life. At 17, she got into a weightlifting gym and fell in love with body parts split training. Her father also had a mini home garage gym, so she would lift weights for fun with her brother and his friends.
Marisa knew her strong gymnastics background provided her an ideal physique for bodybuilding. When she was just getting started, Marisa actually followed a fit girl around the gym and copied whatever movements she did.
What Marisa didn’t like about bodybuilding
Once she started competing, Marisa ranked high in open competitions (4th and 5th places). At that time, there weren’t divisions like there are today; instead it was simply men bodybuilding and women bodybuilding shows. There weren’t many teenage girls competing in bodybuilding either, so she was motivated to keep training.
But Marisa quickly noticed women taking drugs to help them get bigger, and she realized she couldn’t compete without doing the same. She decided to quit bodybuilding competitions, but still continued training.
“As you get more involved into the sport, you know you’re not going to do well if you are not taking drugs.” — Marisa Inda
Bodybuilding is great for strength training
When Marisa started powerlifting, she was already strong for her weight due to 15 years of hypertrophy training under her belt. Bodybuilding is focused on sub maximal weights for high reps, which helps build a strong, stable foundation and prevents injuries. Marisa enjoyed bodybuilding because she was able to see her body change and have control of sculpting it.
Marisa is the current All-Time All Record Powerlifting Champion at 114 lb. (all ages, all divisions). Her best powerlifting meet numbers are: Squat 330 lb. | Bench 209 lb. | Deadlift 413 lb.
Marisa was doing hypertrophy training for 15 years before she stumbled upon a flyer for a powerlifting meet. Without thinking too much, she signed up and competed. She didn’t know the full rules and didn’t even have the legit belt for her first meet. Only afterward her first meet did she start properly eating and training for powerlifting.
Pro tip: If you are interested in powerlifting or even another new sport, don’t wait on your first meet or other competition. Just sign up and enjoy the experience as a beginner!
Bodybuilding exercises help powerlifting training
Marisa incorporates bodybuilding exercises, such as drop sets and partial rep ranges, into her training by adding it at the end of her powerlifting workouts. She likes to maintain a well-rounded, strong physique and finds these exercises beneficial for her powerlifting lifts.
“In bodybuilding, you hit everything. There are not weak links.” — Marisa Inda
Marisa enjoys working out with both men and women for different reasons: men push her harder, but women can do higher reps and train more frequently. While she typically trains with men, she’ll do more sets and reps than her training partners, as it takes women more time and effort to develop muscle than men. The same is true for beginners, who lift lighter weights in the first few years, which enables them to recover faster and lift more reps, more often.
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Try various technique to find what works best for you
Marisa has a relatively narrow squat for powerlifters, with feet just a bit wider than hip width. Marisa tried a wider stance for several years, but it just didn’t work for her. She found she is strongest and most comfortable in the narrow stance she consistently trained as a bodybuilder. Marisa also has a wider bench grip than most powerlifters, but that’s what works for her.
Pro tip: Don’t get hung up on tips of the best form, make sure to experiment with different techniques so you can find what works best for you individually.
Training for 25 years and avoiding major injuries
Marisa is 41 years old and has been training since she was 17. For almost 25 years, she hasn’t suffered from a major injury or joint pain. She is an experienced lifter who knows how much to push herself and how to train around small injuries to prevent big ones. She maintains great muscle and joint health by incorporating hypertrophy training and not pushing too hard, too often.
“I don’t think I pulled out a heavy one rep max deadlift until I was two weeks out of a meet, and it wasn’t even a rep max, beneath what I’ve done on the platform. I save the big lifts to when it counts, at a meet.” — Marisa Inda
Training while pregnant
When Marisa was pregnant, it was nearly unheard of to work out during a pregnancy, but she wanted to keep active and maintain as much muscle and strength as possible. Marisa consulted with her doctor and kept her usual training routine. In the later pregnancy stages (after 6 months), she adapted her training slightly to accommodate her stomach, like changing from conventional to sumo deadlifts. Other than that, she ate regularly and gained 21 lb. with each of her kids, which is normal for her size.
After giving birth, Marisa took it easy at the gym, working with light weights, focusing on breathing and core, letting the body recover and get accustomed to movement again. Only once her baby was around 5–6 months old, she was back to barbell training.
Training as a mother
Since having kids, Marisa started managing her time more tightly, but always finds 45 minutes to workout to keep her sanity. She likes to train and pursue her own goals, besides living vicariously through her kids. She believes her training positively influences them and inspires them to set their own goals.
Pro tip: Send your kids to gymnastics in the very beginning. It’s a great way to learn body and spacial awareness and build upper body strength without using weights. Gymnastics also provides a strong foundation for skill transfer many to other sports.
Chad Wesley Smith is the owner/founder of Juggernaut Training Systems and one of the most accomplished strength athletes of recent years. With a background in track and field, Smith took his 2 collegiate national championships and continued his success in powerlifting and strongman.
We enjoyed recording this episode with our good friend, Kenny Kane, in Chad’s backyard.
“One of the most comprehensive resources available on the topic of building strength. Scientific Principles goes far beyond just giving you sets and reps to use for a few weeks or months, rather it will empower you with knowledge to create effective training programs and make informed answers to tough training problems for a lifetime.” —jtstrength.com
In October 2010, Chad competed in his first Powerlifting Meet, which was also the first USPA Meet with only 36 athletes competing. Chad squatted 800 lb., deadlifted 700 lb., and benched 463 lb. Even though it was his first meet, at that point Chad had already been writing his own workouts for 10 years (since 14 years old!).
Since 2010, Powerlifting took off as a sport, and now USPA Powerlifting Meets happen almost every weekend, with 60-120 people competing.
Check out this throwback video of Chad’s first Powerlifting Meet:
Chad’s knowledge prep for weightlifting
Chad started as a sports performance coach and later got into powerlifting, where he functioned as his own guinea pig. To learn in detail about powerlifting and weightlifting, Chad read two particularly dense and influential books:
Chad also learned by watching James Smith applying principles from these books into his training programs. James Smith is a performance coach and consultant to high level athletes, Navy SEALs, special forces and more.
Specificity — #1 principle for strength training
When he first started, Chad used to write elaborate workouts in an attempt to figure out all the moving pieces of training. Now with 17 years experience of authoring training programs under his belt, he applies more strategic use of exercise variation through a better understanding of sports specificity.
When Chad was training for shot-put in college, he started with a great natural foundation. He had a 36″ vertical jump weighing 290 lb.! He could also dunk a 4 kg medicine ball with two hands. But despite his natural athletic abilities (which indicated Chad should be able to throw a shot-put 71–72 feet), he could only get 64-65 feet.
That’s when Chad learned about specificity and developing special strength. He realized bench press and squatting help athletes improve, but the most important thing is to find movements that apply to the specific sport. For shot-put, he trained over and underweight shots plus many rotational exercises.
Pro tip: Besides training optimization, Chad recommends young athletes internalize two important life skills: understanding proper phasic structure and delayed gratification.
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How to ensure functional training
Training for competitive Powerlifting or Weightlifting is straightforward in terms of what lifts are functional for those sports. But for sports like basketball, football, and baseball, which involve different movements, you need to find functional exercises for their specific sport.
Chad’s 3 principles for functional training
Can the athlete perform the exercise safely and effectively
Can they put some weight to create stimulus
Does it fit in the context of their bigger plan
It’s tough coaching MMA and CrossFit athletes
Outside of weightlifting, Chad coaches athletes in many sports such as football, track & field, volleyball, water polo, swimming, and jiu-jitsu. Chad usually doesn’t work with MMA or CrossFit athletes because there are so many moving parts, which require strong communication between coaches– however that is usually not the case.
Specificity is most important, but don’t take it too far
Sport specificity should set the framework for how all other decisions are made, but you could also take specificity too far. For example, if you are a powerlifter or weightlifter who keeps focusing on 1 RM, you are likely to become overtrained. You are also likely to miss out on variation, how it can help avoid adaptive resistance, and the benefits of phase potentiation and phasic structured training (which ensures you’re making the most of each training phase).
“The longer you do something, the less effective it becomes overtime.” — Chad Wesley Smith
Ironically, athletes usually attribute the most importance to individual differences, which is Chad’s 7th and final principle. Athletes like to think they’re a special snowflake, but individual differences are much smaller than people perceive.
Chad’s 7 Scientific Principles of Strength Training
1. Specificity — See above.
2. Overload — Is training stimulating enough to drive neural adaptation? Training must become harder overtime through more volume and more weight.
3. Fatigue management — Your recovery process: Besides deload days and proper nutrition and sleep, should include adaptive recovery strategies like ice baths, massages, etc.
4. SRA (Stimulus Recovery Adaptation) — Your training process: Frequency and duration of training and recovery.
5. Variation — Avoid staleness by shifting phases. Keep in mind variation should always be in context with Specificity (principle #1).
6. Phase potentiation — Make the most of each training phase.
7. Individual differences — See above.
Keep in mind: Chad’s principles are also useful for the general population. All you have to do it change principle #1 (specificity) to your own goal, which can be losing weight, building muscle, being able to stand on a paddleboard, etc.
In this episode he discusses how to achieve weightlifting specific positions and why just trying to stretch to increase your mobility may not be the best way. He’s a damn smart coach, this episode is loaded with great advice and suggestions for you if you’re working to improve your snatch, clean or jerk.
In May 2017, Quinn released a book to help weightlifters assess their olympic weightlifting movements, breaking down lifts phase-by-phase.
Quinn is a physical therapist by trade. He sees patients for physical therapy (PT) work, trains clients in strength and conditioning, and competes in olympic weightlifting himself.
In high school and college, he played football and did olympic weightlifting. After college, he became a strength and conditioning coach, but quickly realized he wanted to offer more than written training programs and teaching lifts. Today, he’s living his dream as a PT, with his office attached to a barbell gym.
Load and stress is what causes adaptation
Quinn previously spent two hours at the gym warming up for workouts with passive mobility exercises, but after a while realized he wasn’t really getting anywhere. Nothing was changing. When Quinn delved into the science, he discovered all those lower level PT exercises weren’t benefiting long-term training and health. Instead, he found evidence that load and stress is what causes body adaptation.
Practice movement patterns in warmups
Instead of foam rolling and static stretches as a warmup, Quinn suggests doing the movement you’re going to train in different variations. While passive exercises like foam rolling only help prime tissues on a local level vs. the whole body, warmups help increase blood flow and core temperature. When you practice the patterns you plan to train, you make the most of your warmup.
For example, if you’re going to squat, just start squatting. The first five squats will feel grindy and won’t be in full range of motion, but after enough reps, your body will naturally find itself in better positions.
“The first squat always feels like dog shit. ALWAYS.” — Quinn Henoch
Corrective exercises have a wide variation
Corrective exercises come in all shapes and sizes. Whether someone is injured or needs to gain confidence in a movement, Quinn takes a top-down approach. The idea is to practice the closest variation of the movement under load.
For example, for the snatch, the first tier corrective exercise is snatch balance. The next tier is an overhead squat, etc. Quinn won’t make someone do dead bug if they have some pain in their shoulder. Instead, he would use dead bug for someone who has issues just moving.
Current research shows low level mobility exercises (i.e. foam rolling or static stretches) are only good for short term changes in perception and range of motion. Short-term changes means your mobility is going to bounce back into the default unwanted position.
To make long lasting changes on tissues, tendons, and tolerance, the body needs volume and intensity on top of range of motion. Only then will it adapt to the new position and movement.
To make the most of your mobility, do a combination of isometric, eccentric, and tempo work exercises with the range of motion that is comfortable for you at the time. Perform the movements slow and under load, but not too much load. And always control the movements.
When one of your body parts is firing up, try to figure out the symptoms’ trigger. Triggers can be induced by volume, intensity, range of motion, or a combination.
For example, volume trigger could be induced after a certain amount of reps. If you squat 5 sets of 8 reps, and towards the 4th or 5th set something is fired up (i.e. your knee or ankle), you might have a volume issue. On the other hand, if a certain number on the bar gets your body part fired up, then it might be an intensity issue.
“Best mitigating factor for reducing injury risk is monitoring overall workload.” — Quinn Henoch
Teaching principles to experiment yourself
Quinn’s goal is to empower athletes so they can control their own situations. His philosophy is to take an individual approach, even at bigger groups, by teaching athletes principles on how to experiment themselves. Check out his new book on how to assess yourself.
Don’t be shy to mobilize with decent load
Quinn likes to mobilize with heavy loads, so the body gets adapted to the range of motion in the position while getting strong. Similarly, Stan “Rhino” Efferding (Episode #281) likes to do the same.
“Calf raises could be your best mobility drill.” — Quinn Henoch
Brandon Routh is an American actor and former fashion model. He grew up in Iowa before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting and subsequently appeared in multiple television series and movies. In 2006, he gained greater recognition for his role as the titular superhero of the film Superman Returns.
We enjoyed recording this episode with our close friend, Dr. Andy Galpin, in Venice, CA, at one of our favorite places — Human Garage LA.
For the past year, Brandon has been working out and getting biomechanical body work for alignment at Human Garage. Modern training and body care turned Brandon onto different types of training, now prioritizing core strength and stability.
Fun fact: When Brandon first came to Human Garage LA, he was 6′ 2″ and ¾, but after a year of tuneups and finding more alignment, he’s 6′ 3″ and ½!
Training for Superman Returns
Brandon trained hard to get in shape for Superman Returns, starting his training through various fitness practices a full year before shooting.
He first trained with Gundi Gunnarsson, an infamous Icelandic coach and founder of Rope Yoga — a mix of pilates and yoga, using a machine he developed. The main goal of his training method is to strengthen the core and hamstrings, so you can lengthen your back. Gundi was recommended to Brandon by Gilbert Adler, Superman Returns’ producer, and eventually became a guru and life coach to Brandon, who was only 24-years-old at the time.
Later on, Brandon trained with Terry Notary — a well-known movement coach, who started his career as a Cirque du Soleil performer and transitioned to work with Hollywood actors for movies like Avatar and Planet of The Apes. Notary teaches body control, body flow and movement, and how to be more open and expressive. He helped Brandon become more graceful and fluid on set.
Playing Superman transformed Brandon
To prepare for the Superman role, Brandon did a ton of exploration on the idea of being the most powerful being in the world. He worked hard to live in the inspirational Superman space and bring this aura to the character, but was cautious not to bring all Superman aspects into his personal life. Brandon didn’t want to damage his ego nor imply he thinks of himself as super-human outside the set, so he practiced self-judgement and reflection. In the process of doing so, he dampened himself to being lesser than he was, and only later regained self-confidence through healing and exploration about himself.
“Superman is there for us to aspire to be like Superman. We all have that ability. We’re not going to fly and have heat vision, but we can absolutely attain that awareness, that compassion, and worldliness and care for everyone in the world, if we just saw ourselves and followed our path.” — Brandon Routh
The Alexander technique is a method to move mindfully through life. It’s a common training practice for screen and stage actors, focusing on spinal alignment and moving smoothly with intention. Through this technique, Brandon learned how all movements initiate from the core, which helped him move more fluidly and gracefully.
An exercise example: Sit in a chair and think of a string held to your head, floating and pulling up from the sky.
Training: Then vs. Now
When Brandon was training for Superman, he wasn’t focused on how to perform the movements, but instead on simply getting the reps in, building muscle and getting lean. He did a lot of traditional training like bench press, dumbbell fly and press, dips, and pushups. Check out Brandon’s training video for Superman Returns back in the day:
More than 10 years after training for Superman Returns, Brandon has become more focused on body health — retaining the same clothing size despite being 15 lbs leaner. His training involves fluid movements while keeping everything in alignment. He does mostly body weight or kettlebell movements, knowing how to get a hell of a workout without intense weights.
Building core integrity
When Brandon first started training at Human Garage, he spent a month and a half fixing his squat mechanics. Learning how to squat well helped build his core integrity, which means a strong, stable core and improved movement across the board. After the core prep, he was ready to take on new movements — even seemingly unrelated movements like rope climbs. Rope climbs are undoubtedly different than squats, but both require a strong, stable core.
Pro tip: If you want to build a stronger, more stable core. Check out our Training Programs!
Maintaining superhero size
Brandon now takes a modern approach to training, prioritizing core and alignment over big weights, however he’s still conscious about maintaining a certain size to fit his superhero characters. Even though suits do most of the work, Brandon still needs to maintain a certain size and look. These days, Brandon maintains his size without lifting heavy.
Nutrition: Then vs. Now
When Brandon was preparing for Superman, he leaned out first, eating mostly lean meats and veggies. Later on when he was bulking up, he supplemented with whey protein powders, glutamine, ribose, BCAA, and low fats.
The bulking diet was hard on Brandon, causing him to cheat on the weekends, which ironically also helped him bulk up. However, he didn’t know he was destroying his gut by eating massive amount of protein. He was also working 12–15 hour days on set and working out to maintain a certain look, which left him only 5–6 hours of sleep per night. Eventually, he had extra stomach weight that wouldn’t go away throughout the entire time filming.
Years later, when his son turned one year old and started eating solid food, Brandon became much more tuned into his nutrition and what he consumes. Brandon gained an understanding of how food affects his body, allowing him to kick his sugar cravings. Instead he mostly eats high quality, clean nutrients and healthy fats, and infrequently eats lean meats.
“Everything I put in my mouth is a choice.” — Brandon Routh
Modern health approach in acting world
Making healthy choices under fatigue, when you are surrounded by junk food is tough. Brandon knows when he doesn’t appropriately feed himself, healthy choices become even tougher. He chooses when to eat based on how much time has passed since his last meal and how much work is ahead of him. He doesn’t always make the best choices, but knows to compensate in those instances by intermittent fasting, for example.
Foods and supplements
Brandon currently uses these foods and supplements:
TV shoot days can be inconsistent in the amount of work. Sometimes Brandon has only two lines during a 12-hour shoot day, while others he can have four big scenes. On bigger dialogue days, Brandon records his dialogues on his phone and then listens to his recordings in the car on the way to set. This process helps him with line retention, where he doesn’t have to memorize the lines and can instead focus on acting.
Optimizing sleep during 14-hour workdays
Brandon tries to go to sleep as early as possible, aiming for at least 7.5 hours of sleep. To optimize his sleep, he stays away from his phone as much as possible in the evening and avoids caffeine after 2pm. To down regulate before bed, he sometimes supplements with:
Stan “Rhino” Efferding is the strongest bodybuilder on the planet. He is an American IFBB professional bodybuilder and a powerlifter competing in the Southern Powerlifting Federation. He currently holds the all-time raw world powerlifting records in the 275-pound-class in the Total without knee wraps (w/o 2,226.6 lb) and in the Squat without knee wraps (854 lb).
More info: Scroll to the bottom to watch the video podcast, listen to the audio version, and connect with Stan Efferding.
Stan is a beast of a human with a personal best of 2,303 lbs at a powerlifting meet: 606 lb raw bench, 865 lb squat (with knee wraps), 854 lb squat (without knee wraps), and 837 lb deadlift.
The best athletes play more than one sport
In the past few years, it’s become more common for athletes to train in different sports. Powerlifting has been a closet sport for a long time, but has been gaining popularity in the past few years thanks to CrossFit and RAW. And thanks to people like Mark Bell, who bridged the gap between Powerlifting and CrossFit, who were humble enough to talk and learn from people from other sports. Now everybody wins.
Back in the day, people of each sport used to think they knew how to train and move best. Nowadays, athletes are much more open to learn from one another and dabble in multiple sports to raise their own game. The best athletes play the most sports, which gets them the best nutrition, performance, cardiovascular fitness, and carry over to and from strength. Sport specialization is best to happen later in an athlete’s career.
The two big components of healthy training
Stan’s main components of training are recovery and nutrient partitioning. Stan took inspiration from a training concept pioneered by Ed Coan to compete twice a year, while doing hypertrophy training during off season. This training method provides balance, builds muscle, and strengthens for powerlifting.
Hypertrophy training results in an elevated cardiovascular health, which allows you to recover faster and therefore train more, getting you stronger over time. Nutrient partitioning (more on this below) is a method to best use the food you eat.
Powerlifting influence on Bodybuilding
Stan trained with Flex Wheeler, who helped him build the biggest legs and best physique of his bodybuilding career. Flex got him on high rep, high volume, high frequency, short rest period, higher range of motion movements.
When Stan was competing on stage in bodybuilding, he weighed 250 lb and his legs measured 30 inches. When he was training for powerlifting, he did low reps with longer rest periods, and within weeks gained 35 lb to weigh in at 285 lb. But his legs became smaller because they got more efficient.
How did Stan get into powerlifting and bodybuilding
Stan came from a powerlifting background and redefined his goals after suffering injuries and not feeling great overall. He realized he wanted to be fit at 50 years old, so he can play sports and run around with his kids. His first move toward sports aside from powerlifting was walking. He started taking multiple walks everyday and limiting his calorie intake. Within a few weeks, he lost 35–40 lbs.
Stan also set a goal to get greater range of motion, whereas in powerlifting he was concerned with reaching the minimum 90 degrees squat to lift heavy in competitions. Stan pushed the reset button on his training and took the bar down to 135 lbs max until he achieved full range of motion. Ass to grass squat. And then gradually added volume and frequency.
Stan also wanted to spend less time at the gym, so he can focus on his family and businesses. He looked for the greatest ROI movements — ones that have the greatest cardiovascular and hypertrophy benefits, while staying healthy. The biggest ROI movements are ones that put the body under load for an extended period of time. For example: 20 rep squats, weighted carries, one minute of squatting — exercises that put weight on the body and metabolically stimulate a lot of hormones that help maintain muscle.
Pro tip: Stay away from machines as much as possible and value time under tension over movement pace.
Best recovery practice
The best way to recover from a workout is through full range of motion movements. Getting blood flowing in the system, without a lot of eccentric loading is best, so you don’t keep breaking down the tissue. Foam rollers, seeing a chiropractor, or taking a pill, have value in certain cases, but overall people use them as superficial and temporary remedies.
“Things that people do to you and for you are never as effective as things you do for yourself.” — Stan Efferding
Training in space
When astronauts are in space, the lack of gravity makes them quickly lose their muscle tissue. They use banded exercises to get the body under load, so they retain muscle mass. Stan took this concept and flipped it around — he looked for double, triple or more gravity to strengthen the body.
“If I can get my heart rate up to 160+ beats a minute and keep it there for 30–40 minutes with a blend of banded leg presses, weighted carries, etc– that’s a perfect place to be. Imagine the return I’d get on that. I’d only need to train 3–4 days a week, max.” — Stan Efferding
As you get older, watch your fatigue
As you age, the number one thing you need to look out for is fatigue. Especially fatigue of the lower back and spine. Stan is cautious not to overload his body, so he can work out every 48–72 hours.
Pro tip: One of the best ways to fix lower back problems is core stabilization.
It’s hard to gain, but a lot easier to maintain
The best bodybuilding athletes have the most ferocious appetite and ability to recover. While supplements help, the most important aspect of growth is training hard. To train hard, you need lots of fuel, which requires a huge appetite.
Working with Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson
Stan worked with Hafþór Júlíus “Thor” Björnsson on his nutrition. Björnsson is an Icelandic professional strongman, actor, and former professional basketball player. He plays Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane in HBO’s series Game of Thrones.
Stan got Thor on a plan to prepare his body to make the most of nutrients:
Insulin sensitivity levels — Thor was eating a lot, but not gaining much muscle. He had bad insulin sensitivity, partitioning his nutrients to fat mostly instead of protein and carbs into muscle glycogen. He needed to use calories more efficiently.
Vitamin D — a blood test revealed Thor was deficient in vitamin D.
CPAP machine — a machine to help with sleep apnea.
Vertical/Elimination diet — removed almost all foods and started with simple bioavailable foods, introducing new foods gradually.
Thor was 420 lb when he met Stan. He first lost weight to 395 lb when he did his reset, and by the time he competed at the Arnold’s, weighed 450 lb. He had his best performance that year at the Arnold’s, placing 2nd!
A juice cleanse may not be good for you
A juice cleanse or juice fast doesn’t really do anything for you and may not even be good for you. If you want to cleanse your body and do a reset, you should consider fasting. When people do a juice cleanse, they sometimes see results, such as eliminated gastro or skin issues and and lost weight. But these are temporary results from limiting food and calories.
Preparing your stomach
Stan treats eating like working out. He saw results on himself and his clients by introducing the same foods again and again, and gradually increasing the frequency of meals and amount of food.
For example: he likes to start with 5 meals a day, consisting of 6 oz of steak and one cup of white rice. Then, in a linear progression, he slowly adds more meals and more steak and rice — moving slowly to 6 meals a day, 8 oz of steak and 1.5 cups of rice. Don’t increase all at the same time though, but one variable at the time.
Stan likes to introduce highly bioavailable foods that the body can easily use as well as having lots of micronutrientes. He looks for foods that get him most bang for the buck, ones that acquired a broader range of nutrients. He likes lean red meat over chicken or fish for example, because the body can get more micronutrients and use the calories better.
The way your body uses calories depends a lot on how your body is prepared. Nutrient partitioning puts meaning to calories so they can serve you best. In training, muscle glycogen, sodium and water in the muscles are important factors in performance and recovery.
Muscle glycogen and the water and sodium it holds are hugely beneficial for recovery from training. You train only 3–4 times a week, but eat 6 times a day. When you eat well all week, you prepare your body to hit a hard workout and make the most of it.
It’s also important to eat a diverse diet, but you need to know how much. When you want to increase muscle and weight, you need to eat vegetables and and fruit, but they need to be limited. Your focus should be on carbs and proteins that can be consumed and digested quickly. You don’t want vegetables competing with steak for consumption energy.
Pro tip: When you want to lose weight, do the opposite — eat foods high in fat and fiber to make you feel full quickly.
10 minute walks
Stan takes a 10 minute walk after every meal he eats. You’re better off taking 10 minute walks 3–4 times a day vs. walking once for 40 minutes. Frequency of movements is very important for our health.
“The longer the workout the less you get out of it.” — Stan Efferding
Gains come in tiny increments
You might have already noticed, but the body doesn’t respond well to peaks. If you take big amounts of foods or supplements without preparing the body to absorb it, your body will fight you. The best method to gain muscle and strength is to slowly and continuously push the envelope just a little.
If you want to get your body ready to metabolize and utilize a high amount of calories efficiently, you need a lot of discipline, commitment, consistency, time management, and a serious meal prep game. Meal prep is huge for gaining or losing weight. You need to find a way to spread your meals so you’re digesting them fast enough and not overeating.
Man on a mission
Stan had designed his life around bodybuilding from a young age. When he started working out as a freshman in college he was only 135 lb! Stan got ultra focused on consuming foods that only helped his mission. He passed on alcohol, desserts, on other temptations time after time. He had his intentions set on being as healthy and strong as possible.
In training, the next body composition change gets tougher and tougher. It usually takes month of hard work to really own a new weight class. When Stan started training, he first gained weight from 135 to 158 lb, which was not easy, but easier than getting to 190 lb. Maintaining the new weight and getting the body adapted to the new frame is a hard fight. At each new weight class, the fight gets harder, mentally and physically.
Stan “Rhino” Efferding has a strong mindset that got him to where he is today. We had the pleasure of talking and learning from him.