Greetings from the town of 1770, Australia! Yes, the town is called “1770.”
We’re now only two weeks away from the launch of the Rebel Strength Guide, a full diet and fitness plan designed to make you bigger (if that’s what you’re after), leaner, faster, and stronger. Ever since I packed on a bunch of muscle after college, I’ve become obsessed with how our bodies react when combining specific diets with certain workouts – this book covers in detail every method I’ve studied, researched and experimented on myself with over the past ten years.
However, I knew this book was going to be bigger than anything I could handle by myself, so I enlisted the help of my friend, fitness mentor, and hero Vic Magary. Vic is a former US Army soldier, has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, operated his own gym, and is the mastermind behind the 31-day fat loss cure program (non-affiliate link) which has been purchased and downloaded by over 14,000 people.
I figured today would be a good day to introduce you to Vic so that you can get to know him a little bit – he’s the man I go to when I have any strength or muscle questions; he’s also designed my strength and muscle building workouts (especially now that I’m traveling and only doing body weight routines). He knows his stuff, has years upon years of experience in dealing with clients of every age and size, and he gets damn good results.
Most importantly, he practices what he preaches.
If you want to know who Vic is, start with this video, because it will tell you everything you need to know about his work ethic and training capacity:
Steve: Hey Vic, thanks for joining me for this interview. And by “joining me,” I mean that in the virtual sense because you’re in Ohio and I’m in Australia. God bless technology. So let’s hear your origin story, Vic. What’s your background?
Vic: Like most kids, I tried a variety of sports as a kid – soccer, flag football. . . but nothing really clicked for me. Not until my grandfather took me to his friend’s garage for my first martial arts lesson when I was 10 years old. Those early years of martial arts training were also where I had my first exposure to fitness training with the typical push ups and jumping jacks that you’ll find in most classes. Through high school and college I continued martial arts training and became more interested in fitness by trying to follow the workouts in Muscle & Fitness or some other magazine, but never really getting into what most people consider “good shape.”
After graduating college, I went to law school and finished my formal academic training with a huge pile of student loan debt. To eliminate the debt, I enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry for three years in exchange for repayment of my student loans. It was during my time as a soldier that I developed my general philosophy on training. But it wasn’t the formal Army fitness training that made the light go off. It was the real work that I had to do as a soldier, like hauling around 50 pounds of gear for several miles or digging trenches that made me seek methods that would not simply make me look fit, but give me increased performance on the job. And the base of the pyramid of performance is strength.
Steve: Last week I talked about why I strength train. In your opinion, what’s the most important reason people should start strength training?
Vic: That’s easy – strength training will improve nearly every other athletic attribute you have. In fact, I’m struggling to think of a physical attribute that will not be enhanced by proper strength training: power, speed, balance, flexibility, endurance, and coordination all can be enhanced with proper strength training. If you have any desire to get better at some physical activity (and hopefully you do if you’re reading Nerd Fitness), strength training will get you there.
Steve: This community is made up a wide range of rebels: big, small, tall, short, young, old. How does your advice or workouts with clients change when dealing with a person trying to bulk up versus somebody trying to slim down?
Vic: Diet is the biggest difference. For someone trying to slim down I recommend sticking to a diet of lots of vegetables, some meat and fruit, and a small amount of nuts (steve’s note: sounds Paleo to me!). And that’s about it. For someone trying to bulk up, whole milk and lots of it is my weapon of choice. Often I’ll also recommend the introduction of potatoes and legumes as well. As a final resort, I’ll recommend the “see-food” diet but I’ve never had to recommend that for anyone older than 25 years old.
For both bulk up and slim down, I will start most sessions with strength training using one major movement such as squats, overhead presses, or deadlifts. After the strength training, the person seeking to get lean will then undergo some high intensity circuit training while the person trying to bulk up will go through more of a bodybuilder style workout.
Steve: How different are your workouts for guys and girls?
Vic: There is no difference what-so-ever based on gender. Adjustments to exercise selection, weight used, and repetition schemes are based solely on the current fitness capacity and goals of the client, regardless of whether they are a guy or a girl.
Steve: That makes me happy to hear, and I’m sure it makes a lot of the female rebels who strength train happy as well. Now, what’s the biggest mistake people make when getting involved with strength training?
Vic: I’ll pick two – failing to learn the basic movements; and failing to stick with those basic movements until the results plateau. You need to REALLY learn those movements – proficiency is the minimum, virtuosity is the goal. A perfect push up is a beautiful thing to watch in my eyes (Steve’s note: reason #289 why Vic is my hero). Too often people abandon the basics in favor of some fancy machine or the latest fad. Move your body through various planes of motion using the fullest range of motion possible against resistance that makes the movement challenging. And all that means is push, pull, and squat against a gradual but ever increasing load.
Steve: I know this answer to this now, because I’ve been following the Body Weight Brigade workouts you’ve designed for the Rebel Strength Guide and I’m definitely seeing results. But for the uninformed: do you need a gym and weights to build muscle?
Vic: No, you do not need a gym or weights to build muscle. If the push up becomes too easy, then elevate your feet on a bench to increase the difficulty. If the body-weight squat is too easy, then start working on pistol squats. By changing the leverage and balance requirements of the basic movements, you can move across a near infinite level of challenge with body-weight movements that will continue to stimulate the body to build muscle.
Steve: Damn straight. I’ve been slowly increasing the difficulty on my push ups over the past few months and just did my first ever REAL handstand push up the other night – thanks for your help on getting me there. Moving on: what do you tell somebody that says they just don’t have the motivation to exercise? (this is more for me, because I get this ALL the time).
Vic: There are very few things in life that will not be improved with a consistent exercise regimen. You’ll have more energy to work and increase your income if that motivates you. You’ll be able to keep up with your kids as they become more rambunctious if that motivates you. You’ll reduce stress and anxiety. You’ll improve bone density and resting metabolic rate. Sleep is better, sex is better, and you get to walk around without the nagging feeling that you should be taking better of yourself. In my opinion, people who lack motivation to exercise lack motivation overall for life and have bigger issues to deal with than not wanting to do a few push ups on a commercial break of their favorite sitcom.
Steve: Well said! On to some food questions: The meal right after a workout is often considered the most important for building strength and muscle. What’s your favorite thing to eat right after a workout?
Vic: A small can of tuna and a handful of baby carrots is what I go with when I’m trying to get lean. Whole milk is what I go with if I’m trying to put on a little size. But at my age (I turn 40 this year), I’m almost always trying to get lean. 😉
Steve: 40!?! Can I start calling you Old Man Magary? I know you can kick my ass in a million different ways so I’ll save that nickname til you’re 50. What’s your favorite healthy snack during the day?
Vic: Half a grapefruit and 6 almonds. And I share the grapefruit with my golden retriever – he loves it!
Steve: Your dog is awesome – I’d share with him too. Do you have a guilty pleasure food or drink? Something you just can’t give up.
Vic: Pizza and beer, man. Pizza and beer. I’ll take a New Castle or three and a slice of peperoni thank you.
Steve: You’re welcome. Let’s get hypothetical here. If you could work out with anybody, living or dead, who would it be?
Vic: Dead, would definitely be Bruce Lee. What a training machine that man was. Alive, would be Steve Maxwell. Steve’s broad spectrum of knowledge combined with his consistent application of “practice what you preach” has him at the top of my list of fitness heroes.
Steve: I KNOW you have a nerdy side. What’s your nerd story?
Vic: Oh man, I used to rock the Atari 2600. My favorite games were Pitfall and Yar’s Revenge. I also remember seeing Star Wars in the theater with its original release when I was a kid. And over the years I collected literally a few hundred Star Wars figures. Boba Fett was the man!
Steve: Wow you ARE old. I kid, I kid. Thanks for taking the time to do this, and thanks for taking the time to put together some kick ass workouts for this book – I know you’re super proud of the Rebel Strength Guide too. I can’t thank you enough for your help.
So I haven’t asked Vic about this, but he’s too nice of a guy and I’m the one who hits the publish button (muahahaha)…
If you have any questions on building strength and muscle, training, diet, etc. go ahead and leave a comment on this article. Either Vic or I will respond as soon as we get a chance!
For the Rebellion,
PS: T-shirtWinnerFail – I still haven’t picked a winner yet from the contest last week, I’m sorry – I’m in a town where the internet cafe closes at 6:30pm and I didn’t arrive here until 4:30pm, which didn’t leave me much time to get this article posted. I swear I haven’t forgotten.