I grew up in a household of boys, having 3 brothers and no sisters. As you can imagine, it was quite competitive, one of the four of us was always breaking some new record or pushing the others to become great.
My parents were real-world superheroes to us. My dad coached all four of us simultaneously while performing all of his other fatherly duties. I remember going to watch him play softball when I was a kid; the power that he crushed the ball with was amazing to me. The one year he hit 2 home runs per game! He was also able to dunk a basketball well into his 40’s.
My mother has the strongest will of anyone I have ever met, often working 18 hour days and always making sure we had whatever we needed to succeed. She also has a higher pain tolerance than anyone I know. More than once she had surgery and we didn’t even know it, getting back to full force in half the time of a normal person.
My grandfather on my mother’s side also had and still does have a huge influence on me. He is now 87 years old, still does masonry work, has ‘bone-crusher’ hands and still carries stones that weigh up to 300 pounds. His brother (my great uncle) was one of the top scientists for NASA for years.
Combine these people and you get me. I learned and absorbed from my parents and inherited their physical genes.
When I got to high school, I decided I was going to be the best basketball player in the town, a long shot in a big town, especially since I was only six feet tall. I remember going to a basketball camp at Villanova and the coach told me: “Every single time you pick up a basketball you get better, even if it is just one thousandth of a percent.” I took this idea and ran with it. I decided that I would take 500 jump shots per day for 1 straight year. I went to the YMCA after football practice (my junior year) every night to shoot. I shot so much on the basket in my driveway that the net literally ripped apart. I shot when it was 100 degrees, I shot when it was snowing….I had learned the principal of setting my sights on something and going for it. I made the varsity team that year, my older brother got cut and I remember thinking, “If only he’d come out and practiced with me.”….
Come my senior year, I had gotten so into weightlifting in order to help my basketball dreams that I fell in love with weightlifting, basketball fell behind to second fiddle. I became so entirely obsessed with bodybuilding and weightlifting that I would spend up to 3 hours lifting and trying new things out. I ordered Russian and Bulgarian ‘Secret’ weightlifting manuals. I needed to know the secrets to the best weightlifting programs in the world. In fact, much of what I learned and read back then I still use as a foundation today (I don’t even think the books are in print anymore). I put on 30 pounds of muscle in one summer! I didn’t want to play basketball anymore; I was going to dedicate myself to bodybuilding….or so I thought.
The coach was after me to play and I talked it over with my parents, realizing that I could no longer be the same player I was due to how much my body had changed. I agreed to play as long as the coach promised to let me lift every day. Soon enough, I realized that I would need to start lifting before school at 5 AM (for a high school kid!) so basketball wouldn’t interfere with the quality of my workouts. I did this religiously and I wound up starting at center for my high school my senior year. I was going up against kids 6 and 7 inches taller than me; some of them division 1 basketball or football players and I had a great year. I don’t think I shot the ball more than 20 times the whole season! I loved playing physical and I remember a 6’10” center who later went on to play football at the University of Michigan ask me how I got so damn strong. I had literally transformed myself from a skinny high school kid into the strongest high school basketball player in the county! I am always fond of those memories when I think back to those days and the foundation that was laid in weightlifting and discipline.
When college rolled around, I was fortunate to study under Dr. Jose Antonio, the world’s foremost authority on sports nutrition. He was only there for one semester but I benefited because I could pick his brain anytime I liked. I also remember going to other professors with theories and diets I had created asking them if it would work and why and I often left frustrated because the professors had no clue as to what I was talking about (I later proved the theories to be correct). I was doing full body hypertrophy and strength workouts in the college weight room long before anyone had been doing those types of workouts.
However, with a bit too much enthusiasm for gaining muscular weight, I had ballooned to 260 pounds, strong but fat. I should have realized sooner as people would drive by me while I was riding my bike and they would yell out, “Lose some weight, fatty”!
This was really the point at which I developed my nutritional theories, full-on. I shed the extra fat within a matter of months to become a lean and ripped 212 pounds (this was the point at which competing in bodybuilding first entered my mind) and was heading home to do an internship with the #1 collegiate strength coach in the nation, Jay Butler of Rutgers University. Jay was just one of the first ‘leading experts’ that I was fortunate to be mentored by. I had the chance to work with athletes that had phenomenal physiques to go along with their superior athleticism. I absorbed everything they were doing, noted how they ate, and spent as much time as I could around the athletes and Coach Butler. I trained that whole summer blending what they were doing with what I had previously been doing and by the end of the summer my ‘knowledge’ of strength training was so unique that people at my regular gym couldn’t help but stop me to ask me how I was getting such superior and advanced results….It was at this point that I decided I would compete in my first bodybuilding show.
Fast forward 2 years and a few top finishes in bodybuilding shows when I was mysteriously stricken with a two year stomach disease. I traveled the country trying to find answers to no avail. I urged and convinced doctors to perform ‘experimental’ procedures on me, some of them helped, some of them didn’t. (It was those first ‘experiments’ that would later add fuel to the fire in my self-experimentation and the methods of strength and nutrition that would best help the body grow bigger, faster and stronger than humanely possible). I lost a total of 40 pounds of muscle during those two years and competing was no longer a possibility. When I had finally hit this rock-bottom time of my life, I decided to go against the doctor’s wishes and compete again. I applied different theories of the mind, cutting edge nutritional science and my training methods to gain 45 pounds of muscle during that one year alone! By the time I was done competing that Spring, I had been cured of my mysterious disease! I learned more about psychology and the human spirit during that time than I did during my previous 25 years of life. In fact, I stress the mind and spirit as much or more during the physical challenges my clients face at Newell Strength, day after day.
During my comeback year in bodybuilding, I lost one of my contests in a legendary battle against Tim Martin, who would go on to win the Team Universe in 2008, making him the best natural bodybuilder in the world. Instead of becoming rivals, Tim and I became training partners and friends and during my two years training with him, I was able to pick up countless tips and secrets from a living legend. It seems that during every turn in my life I had been fortunate enough meet mentors that are/were nothing short of miraculous. I have taken the life and lifting lessons from each and every one of them like a sponge absorbs water and I truly believe that is a big part of what makes me “The Human Strength Expert”.
I have always been able to overcome any challenge that was thrown my way and I attribute this to the fact that I developed and honed a laser like focus through sports and bodybuilding. I always had the knack to seek out and learn from the best and apply, apply, apply.
I have overcome near bout with Crohn’s disease, gone on to be nominated as author of the year for one of the top fitness websites in the world despite all of my brothers being 400 SAT points higher than me. I have also suffered what has been called the ‘worst knee injury on record’ by multiple doctors and fully recovered in 5 months. This rare injury has ended a number of professional athletes careers, guys that should have recovered but didn’t.
I attribute this to having some of the best mentors in the world in this industry (Louie Simmons, John Meadows), training my mind to overcome anything and go through any obstacles and my unique nutritional practices.
hrough my laser like focus I was also able to get scholarship offers for basketball (shot 500 jump shots per day in high school) and win multiple times on the bodybuilding stage. I have developed a very unique approach to exercise and nutrition by combining and applying my years of competitive sport and bodybuilding, getting the best of both worlds.
I currently apply this all at Newell Strength, now being recognized as one of the top fitness training facilities in the country.
It is now present day and I am constantly hustling to find out the ‘truth’ behind the physical human potentials of athletic performance, fat loss, muscular hypertrophy, strength, power and speed.
My library is overflowing with books from the Orient on human energy, manuals from Eastern European Olympic weightlifting, the transcripts of recordings of my phone calls with other top strength coaches around the globe are scattered across my desk and my DVD case is full of rare footage strength seminars and courses.
I continue to draw and map out new theories and plans on my ‘Think Board’ every morning, aiming to transform ordinary athletes into super-athletes and ordinary men into ‘super-men)…
..let the legend continue……