Athletic Muscle Building Review
Interview With Tony Schwartz
Q. Can you give us some background about yourself?
I'm a professional strength coach in Chicago, Illinois, where I am the director of training for Momentum Athletics. This means that I work with athletes of all levels and from all different sports to improve their athletic performance.
I have a B.Sc. in Exercise Science from Indiana University, where I was a research assistant in the areas of biomechanics and exercise physiology. I've authored, edited, and contributed to many books and articles in the field of exercise science. I've also had the opportunity to present to strength coaches across the country on a variety of topics including general and specific training, block periodization, and plyometrics.
Q. What got you started in muscle building?
I think like a lot of teenage boys it was more of a competition thing to start with. I saw my friends lifting so I figured I had to do it to keep up with them.
The deeper I got into it the more I realized how much I loved not only training, but learning about training. From a pretty young age I became obsessed with finding the optimal way to train.
Q. What is it about muscle building that you love so much?
The fact that you can change yourself for the better with hard work and discipline.
I think striving for self-improvement is a pretty natural thing for people. Whether it's getting smarter or getting stronger, we all want to be better at something.
With muscle building it's pretty cut and dry the way this works. If you are stronger than last time then you got better. Even though there is a lot of complicated science that goes into gaining muscle and losing fat, what I really enjoy about muscle building is its simplistic nature: either you can lift the weight or you can't.
Q. What are your favorite and least favorite exercises?
I love all types of pull-ups: weighted, overhand, underhand, 1-arm, etc. I also really like overhead pressing and deadlifts,
When I am somewhat burned-out on traditional lifting I like to mix things up with some explosive training, especially outdoors. Things like sprints, jumps, and medicine ball tosses are some of my favorites. I also really enjoy strongman style events.
There's no exercise that I really dislike doing, but I do hate the fact that my squat sucks so bad! I've got the body for deadlifting, but not squatting. Because of this I can easily pull over 500, but struggle on the squat when the weights start getting near 400. This has always frustrated me, but I know how important the squat is so I keep hammering away.
Q. What are your tips for the beginner, intermediate and advanced?
True beginners just need the basics. Their main obstacle is consistency. Once they build the habit of eating right and training hard on a consistent basis they usually see very good gains for awhile.
Intermediate guys typically have a lot of problems with plateaus. They have good gains for a few weeks and then stall out. At this point it is useful for these guys to get a training partner or coach who is more advanced than they are. There are programming and technique adjustments that only a really experienced coach can make, and these small changes can make a big difference.
Truly advanced lifters know what has worked for them in the past so they are usually pretty self-sufficient. But often times these guys are stuck in their ways and refuse to try anything new. This not only leads to slower gains, but also leads to boredom and lack of motivation. Because of this I strongly recommend that these guys do a complete overhaul of their program at least a couple of times a year. This keeps motivation high and continues the learning process.
Q. Where do you stand on the use of steroids and supplements?
I personally don't use steroids, but I don't have a problem if someone uses them recreationally. The problem is when guys are knowingly breaking the rules for their sport. Such as competing in a drug-free division of bodybuilding or powerlifting even though they are juicing. This is the only instance in which I look down upon steroid use.
As a side note, the one thing I really hate about steroids is how far they have set us back in terms of training knowledge. The rules are completely different for a guy who is clean and a guy who is on gear. The problem arises when you get clean guys trying to follow the training program of a pro bodybuilder without also following the drug program.
As for supplements, I think they are great. The problem with supplements is that a lot of guys rely on them too heavily and completely disregard nutrition, which only hurts their results. On top of that you have to know which ones to use because 99% of the stuff out there is crap.
Q. What are your future goals?
My goals related to the strength sports mostly revolve on around helping others. I would like to continue to advance my knowledge and understanding of sport science so that I can continue to raise the results of the athletes I work with.
I am also constantly searching for new ways to bring the best information to the average guy or girl who just wants to put on some muscle and strength or lose a few pounds. There is so much misinformation out there that it is sometimes overwhelming. I want to use my scientific knowledge of training and nutrition to help these people.
Q. What is the toughest part about muscle building for you?
I think, like most people who have been doing this for awhile, the consistency gets mentally draining. It's hard to always be disciplined with training and eating. Sometimes your mind just needs a break from going full bore all of the time.
It's an old cliché that your mind gives out before your body does, but I have found that this is definitely the case. I think this is the reason bodybuilders' careers are relatively short. It's just a very mentally draining sport. And you have to have some serious motivation to train hard and eat clean day in and day out for year after year.
Q. Tell us about the Athletic Muscle Building program?
As I mentioned, one of my goals is to bring all of the information I have learned from training athletes to the general public. Unfortunately most people are still in the dark ages when it comes to the science behind training and nutrition.
Athletic Muscle Building is designed to give everyone the same edge that professional athletes have. This means training, nutrition, and supplementation protocols that have been proven in the lab and in the real world.
My hope is that all those guys out there who think they are "hardgainers" and just can't figure out how to gain muscle will realize that they need training and nutrition programs designed for results, not the program they got from a magazine or their friend. The answers are out there, and I have provided them in Athletic Muscle Building.
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