Muscle Building Interview Part 2 By Jason Ferruggia
Question: You are known in the industry as the go-to coach if you are looking to gain strength and put on muscle size. Can you first just give a little background about how you came to your training philosophy?
Answer: I started out training in middle school and was taking the advice of a nearly 300lb pro wrestler whom my cousin was dating at the time. I didnít know it then but he was obviously juiced to the gills. He wrote me a program and I got nowhere. This road continued all through high school as I continued to get advice from the muscle mags and whatever else was popular at the time. Eventually I broadened my horizons and started to look elsewhere. I began reading about what a lot of the old timers did before anabolic steroids became popular. I also studied the methods of every popular strength coach and trainer at the time. I read everything I could get my hands on, went to seminars, did internships and basically just became a sponge for training knowledge.
I opened up my own private training facility in the mid 90ís and trained over 500 clients there during the 11 years that I ran it. Most of my clients were athletes with a small percentage being general population people just looking to get bigger and stronger. Through all those years of experience working with that many people I came to some pretty strong conclusions about what works for building size and strength, fast.
Question: There is a lot of conflicting training advice out there online, in books, on TV and especially in magazines. What do you think the top myths or misconceptions regarding weight training are?
Answer: That you need a high volume of training. This is a myth that has been passed down from one generation to the next and people continue to blindly follow this protocol without thinking rationally. There is no hard evidence anywhere that you need to use high volume training to get bigger and stronger. Sure lots of guys with great genetics and/or a great pharmacist make progress on high volume training but that doesnít mean itís the right way to train.
That you need to hit muscles from a multitude of angles for full development.
That you need a full dynamic warm up before weight training. You donít. Before sprinting, yes; before lifting, no.
That bodypart splits are the most effective way to train.
Another misconception is that you need a boatload of supplements to make great progress. The bottom line truth is that most supplements suck and do nothing but drain your wallet.
Another sad misconception is that you canít make great progress without steroids. This is a self defeatist attitude and is simply not true.
Question: Other comments that I have heard coaches say are that the only way to put on any muscle size, is really going to be based on genetics. So they are saying for example that skinny kids canít and will never be able to put on size.
Answer: Thatís the biggest copout under the sun and an excuse that really makes me sick. Genetics are responsible for how far you may eventually go but the fact of the matter is most people will never truly reach their genetic potential. If you use this excuse it shows the world that you have no heart whatsoever and are destined for failure. Using the hard-gainer excuse as a crutch will guarantee you sub par results in your training from now til eternity.
I have some of the worst muscle building genetics imaginable but I never let that hold me back. I have also trained some genetic misfits who made incredible progress and eventually were getting asked what steroids they were on. This is because they had the balls to train like they needed to and had the dedication to eat and rest as much as was needed. Most people simply donít have what it takes; so the only genetic capacity they may be missing is mental toughness.
For a coach or trainer to say or write that is even worse than just the average trainee or athlete saying that. Making a comment like that shows that you have no heart and no balls, and in that case you should never, EVER be coaching or training ANYONE!
Question: It has been said as you get older it get harder and harder to put on size and strength. Some even say that it canít be done. What do you say to older athletes or even coaches that say this?
Answer: This is just like the hard-gainer excuse; itís nonsense. One of my good friends is named Mark Crook (his brother Paul played guitar in Anthrax for seven years and is now lead guitarist for Meatloaf) and we first met right after his 40th birthday when he came to me to help him get bigger and stronger. He took his bench from 155 to 275 in one year and gained over 20lbs of muscle. Markís enthusiasm led to a friend of his coming in to my gym a year later and he experienced similar gains. I have had several guys in their 40ís and 50ís experience tremendous gains in size and strength over the years.
It may not happen as fast and as easily as it does for a 20 year old but it can be done. You just have to take into account that your recovery ability may be a bit lower and as such you need to keep your volume lower and be very smart with your training.
Also, you have to remember that most guys donít even hit their strength peak til sometime around 30 or so. Most of the biggest and strongest guys I know are all in their mid to late 30ís. So the day you hit 40, this doesnít just do a complete 180 and you shouldnít be on your training deathbed at 50. Just keep training hard and if you believe you will get stronger then you will.
Question: How about softer chubby or overweight athletes that want to increase strength and muscle mass without looking big and bloated?
Answer: This is a little tougher situation than the skinny ripped guy. You have to be smarter about food choices here and have to do a decent amount of energy system work. If you are above 15% bodyfat you should probably consider getting leaner first and then look to start gaining some muscle mass. When you are fatter your insulin sensitivity is lower, meaning that you donít tolerate carbs as well and the ingestion of them is more likely to lead to body fat accumulation. In this situation I would recommend keeping carbs low and doing some interval training a few days per week until you get lean enough to switch into a muscle building phase.
That is not to say that you canít gain strength while getting leaner, though. If you are an athlete you donít have the luxury of doing typical fat loss workouts and instead need to keep getting faster and stronger. Train like you normally would for size and strength, do your interval training, and keep the diet tight and you will be able to get stronger while getting leaner. Certain lifts like your squat may go down due to you losing some of the favorable leverage that comes with increased abdominal girth, but for the most part you should be able to gain or at the very least, maintain strength while dieting.
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