Tell us about your training. How many days are you in the gym each week?
I go from a three to a four-day split. Basically, working different muscle groups using free weight. I use all free weight; I don't do a lot of cable weight. The kind of lifting I do is a lot of power lifting and I don't really do body building. So I don't really look to get all chiseled and ripped, and I don't really cut down to a lean body fat percentage or body fat. I'm actually a certified master instructor when it comes to all that stuff. What Paul and I do is, we always have to work out based on what we're doing. So I do a lot of the power lifting, more or less, about four days a week. I lift very heavy. I don't do a lot of reps. I usually do four to five sets of almost every lift that I do, but it's extremely heavy. I'm looking to get that strength more than that sculpted look.
Human Wrecking Balls involves a lot of kicks and punches. How do you incorporate martial arts into your workouts?
I'm on the mat usually two or three days a week. I do a lot of ground fighting, ju-jitsu, MMA training. I've got a class that I run, once to twice per week, with other guys, so I usually work 15-20 guys I train with. I have a pretty good mix. I have a lot of law enforcement/military guys, and I have a lot of guys that are just in the sport of MMA.
Do you find that you're constantly changing up your workout?
I'm getting ready to throw some new stuff into the mix. Paul and I got to compete in a strong man contest in Spain, and it was really neat. They did a cross between strong-man type of events and lumberjack type events. It was this big relay that they had set up. So there 12 stations, and at each station you did a different thing. And you would have to do all 12 of these stations three times. It was a team event—there were eight guys on a team. Me and my partner, we had to lift that Atlas stone, it's a big huge round smooth stone, weighs about 350 pounds. We had to pick that thing all the way up to our shoulders. Between the two of us, we had to do that a total of 10 times. And they had a lot of different type of strongman stuff. I'm going to probably start getting into that too. I had a really good time doing it because it's really heavy stuff but, I don't know, it seemed like it was more fun than just going to the weight room and hitting the weights.
When you're in the gym, which exercises do you feel are most useful for the stuff you do on the show?
Basically, I like to do my bench press, my squats, and my deadlift. I do a lot of military press for my shoulders. I guess when people watch our show they see a lot of things that we do, but there's a lot of things that we're doing that people kind of take for granted. They just don't think it's that difficult until you try it yourself, like picking up a lot of heavy objects or ripping something or tearing something apart with your hands. I would have to say that the three lifts I mentioned are very solid core body workouts—I mean, your deadlift is a very overlooked exercise. You're using your entire body to lift the weight. You're using your legs, you're using your back, you're using your arms, your hands. A lot of guys use straps and wrap them around their wrist and then wrap that strap around the bar and it helps hold onto the bar. Well, I don't use straps, so a lot of the natural grip strength that I get in my arms, my hands and my forearms are from deadlift. Deadlift is a total body workout as well as squats.
You said you're doing around 5-600 on deadlifts. Is that a max?
My max right now is right at about 600 pounds. I don't usually go above that, because I'm almost too tall to even be doing deadlifts. You don't see many guys who are 6'4" doing deadlifts. I always did it because, like I said, it's a full body workout. So that's why I do it. I'm not sure what my max is on my bench because I had 455 on the bar and I benched it twice. So I'm probably knocking on a 500 pound bench. My squat is probably between 600 and 650, somewhere in that area, and that's a full squat. My incline bench is pretty good: I do about 325 for incline bench. Doing what we do, you've got to work out hard and heavy.
Do you have a training mantra/code/credo? Well, usually as soon as I find out we are shooting a new season I know there's going to be 10 episodes of pure hell, so that motivates me. A lot of people don't understand when they watch the show—it's only 30 minutes and when you reduce that down to your commercials that's only 22, 24 minutes, somewhere in that area--so a lot gets edited down. They have to take out a lot of the trial and error of what we do. A lot of people don't understand that it takes us anywhere from 20-24 hours, sometimes a little longer, to destroy almost anything we do. Then think about that we have to shoot an episode every two days. When Paul and I go in there, it's not like we just hit it on that first try and it breaks right in half. A lot of times we hit something several times before we're able to break through. So I know that when we get ready to film, man I've got to be in the best shape of my life. You talk about cardio, oh God, there's no such thing as cardio until you do what we do. You've got to continually go, go, go until whatever it is you're trying to break is completely destroyed. So that's my motivation.
How important is training in keeping you healthy in the show?
That's the reason we come out with nothing more than a few stitches—it's rare that we break a bone. I broke my toe this last season, and I guess that was probably the extent. I haven't figured out yet how to train your toes. I've been trying to figure it out but it's just not working for me. You've got to be in serious shape to do what we do. It's no joke doing what we do. We do a lot of the hard body training. We've been doing that stuff for over 20 years now, and it took us several years to get our bodies conditioned to where we can do what we do. We get the cuts, the lacerations, the bruises and everything else. I'll put it this way, there are guys in the ultimate fighting that train hard as well. If you ever watch those guys when they throw a kick onto some other guy's thigh, a lot of people just look at that and say 'oh that was no big deal.' What they don't understand is the guy that's receiving that kick, he has received thousands of kicks like that. That's why he can take that kick and shrug it off like it's no big deal. But you let that guy hit somebody here in the street, throw a kick like that, and I'll guarantee that he'll kick that guy one time and drop him right on the ground. It's the same thing with what Paul and I do. We have both broken walls, bricks, boards, ice, thin steel bars and ripped car doors off. Yeah, we get hurt, but it's not anything like if someone who had never done this stuff tried to mimic this. I'm telling you right now, they're going to be in the hospital.
What's the craziest/most extreme type of training you do to prepare for the show?
I don't know a lot of guys that would spend a couple of thousand dollars on concrete blocks and slabs and then go to a warehouse some place and just stack these suckers up and start hammering them for hours on end. We just stacked them up and start busting them with whatever part of our body, trying to come up with something new or training to get ready to do what we're [now] doing. I mean, just slamming your fists, your forearms, your elbows, your knees, your shins, into these things. You've gotta have something to break. And that's the thing about hard body training. It's not just about going out and kicking a tree. It's about going out there and kicking something and breaking through it, and then you repeat that process over and over and over again.
What haven't you broken yet that you'd like to break?
We try to come up with something new a lot of the time because we want to do things that people have not ever seen before. But there's a lot of repeats of things that I would like to destroy, like the Hollywood sign. I would like to rip that thing down to the ground. That would be cool. Maybe go to a nice golfing place and just destroy it. You know how picky they are about their greens and staying out of the fairways with your cart. I would like to go nuts on a golf course and take out the pro shop while I'm at it. Just upset them, make people mad. I think that would be fun. Me and Paul will get the green jacket at the end.
Is there anything you can't break?
That's a good question. I'm sure that there are plenty of things out there that we can't break, like structural steel and things of that nature. And stakes that are embedded in concrete, we ran into that in an episode that we did. So yeah, there are several things that we can't break, but we'd like to try and push the limits and see what that is that we cannot break. We've been pretty lucky thus far.
Describe training your training plan. How do you prepare to demolish things on Human Wrecking Balls
I do a three-day split as far as workouts with free weights and some cable. I'll do chest/triceps on day 1, back/biceps on day 2, and legs/shoulders on day 3. And, usually, I try to get one to two days of martial arts in. What we do is Pankration, and that gives us our flexibility and things of that nature to allow us to do the kicks and the things that we do as far as the movements that we make.
When you lift, is it heavier weight/lower reps or lighter, more explosive reps?
Normally, all of our workouts are three sets of 10 (reps) on pretty much everything unless we do dumbbell work. Then I try to go up to the 20-25 reps on that.
How about complex exercises? Bench, pull-ups, deadlifts, etc.?
We try to do a lot of the power lifting exercises to give us the strength and explosion that we need to do what we do. Then, of course, to attack the smaller muscle groups we use the cables and the dumbbells for the shaping exercises. We really never got into the you-have-to-look-good to do this [mentality.] It's our body type: we're built to break.
What about your diet?
I don't really worry about my diet a whole lot. This season I put on a lot more weight than I did in Season 1, so I've been cutting back a lot on my carbs and my fat, and I try to go high protein with lean meats. I've dropped about 30 pounds since Season 2. I've been trying to experiment with weight to see if it does help. Because me and Craig often get these questions: "Does you being a bigger guy help you do the breaks that you do?" And I've never really paid attention to it because when I started breaking, I was 185 pounds, and I broke a lot of material. I've gotten as high as 310 pounds. And the difference that I see is, of course, you lose a lot of speed when you get heavy, and your explosion's not there. I prefer myself to be around 235-240. That's about the perfect weight for me when I break because it gives me my speed and I still have the power and the mass in order to break things.
How is it that you guys go through a boat or a plane with only cuts and bruises?
It's kind of hard to explain. Through working out and training, I've really never incurred a serious injury. I always have joint pain, you know, I have a lot of that just due to carrying the extra weight some times. And I've got some arthritis in my knees just because of the things that we go through. But, as far as us not sustaining any injuries, it's due to the hard body technique. All the strikes and the impact that we've taken over the years has basically made our bones stronger. If you watch a show that we did called Fight Science, it kind of describes that. There's a law called Wolff's Law that explains when you receive an impact, you have tiny microfractures that happen, like when we hit concrete with our forearm. Over time that heals up, our bones become more dense, therefore enabling us to come out of things without any broken bones at all. The worst things that have happened to us are lacerations and cuts and contusions. That's it.
How much mental preparation is involved?
We try to focus in the zone. Whatever you want to call it, that's the place that we try to be in, to where you get the tunnel vision and all that you're thinking about is the task at hand, whether it's running through a glass door or glass window or shoulder ramming concrete. Whatever we do, we put all of our focus and intent on that and we try not to think about anything else, to where there are no malfunctions in our technique or any mistakes made while we're going through that process.
Are you competitive with your brother when it comes to training?
Definitely. Each of us has our strong points. Craig's better at bench than I am, but I'm stronger at shoulders than he is, so we always try to add more weight, or say 'I bet I can get more reps than you.' You know, we're not saying it, but we're thinking it. And you can see it in our eyes when we're trying to do it, especially when it comes to anything that we break. If he does something better than me that I'm usually better than him at, then I'm proud of him. We try to have a competitive nature so we can push one another to become better.