What does it take to be an American Gladiator? Well, good genetics are mandatory, but an addiction to the weight room will put you over the top. We recently had a chance to talk training with Winston Justice, the biggest gladiator on the show. Here, he sounds off on training, his favorite body part, and his weight-lifting inspiration.
Did you watch American Gladiators when it first came out?
I did. Nitro and Ice were my favorite gladiators.
What's the best part of being part of the show today?
The best part is the opportunity to be an inspiration to kids. I still can't grasp the concept that I'm actually a role model. Man, at the Arnold Classic, hundreds and hundreds of people wanted to take my picture and have me sign autographs, and I'm like, I can't believe they want to take my picture!
What's the most physically challenging event on the show?
I would have to say the Assault because if you lose, you get shot to the ceiling. That's the only thing I'm scared of is getting pulled back at 45 mph! (laughs) Other than that, it's no problem, just beaning these guys with Nerf balls, man, that's no problem. But mentally, the Assault event takes a toll on you. I'm like, 'Look J, if you don't get this guy, you will get shot to the roof.' It's funny because it's not that brutal, but your mind can play tricks on you and make you think that you'll lose your head on that event.
When did you start lifting?
I started lifting weights when I was like 10 years old. I saw the movie Conan the Barbarian and wanted to be like Schwarzenegger. Every time I lose my motivation, I go to the Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding and check out the pictures of Schwarzenegger. Back in his day, he had the ultimate body, bro, but it wasn't too gigantic like today's bodybuilders.
How many times a week do you lift? Are you guys just constantly pumping up backstage before a show?
No, no, no. I get in the gym at least six days a week. Right now I'm going twice a day.
How many sets do you do for each exercise?
Depends how I feel that day. I'm a classic over-trainer. Usually in the morning I'm in the gym for about two and a half hours. If I'm just trying to kill the day, and I've got a lot on my mind, I take my time and use the gym as therapy. If I have a job to do, like an audition to go to, I'll get in there for 45 minutes to an hour and be good to go. Real intense and I'm out.
So being that you've gotten so used to overtraining, how has your diet changed to accommodate the extra stress on your body?
I take in 70 grams of protein three times a day, just with shakes. I probably only eat about five times a day. About half and half — half shakes, half meals.
When do you get your cardio in?
Sometimes, in the morning I'll do cardio as well. I'll do 30 minutes of jump roping and that would be it for that session. Sometimes I come back and do the bike or something later.
With a hectic work schedule, do you find it hard to get to the gym?
You need to manage your time well. If you need to be on the set at 8 a.m., you get in the gym at 5:30 a.m. You do what you have to do, and then you go to work from there. Or, sometimes we'll have an hour or two break and that gives us a chance to hit the gym.
What are some of your personal bests? What do you bench?
I actually work out with like 315 lbs, but I can do like 475 lbs. I've gotten very close to 500 lbs. You have to factor in my size too. I'm 6-foot-8, with a long wingspan. I don't deadlift, but I do squat. I actually did 600 pounds before on squats, but I don't go up that heavy anymore.
What's your favorite body part to train?
Oh man, I love arms! (laughs) Yes, yes, you got the curls for the girls, baby. You know the saying.
Justice's Workout Routine