In the first twenty episodes of The FitCast, I have been able to talk with some of the greatest minds in the fitness world, not just during the recording but also while casually talking before and after the show. We started off strong with the likes of Craig Ballantyne in the first real episode and Dr. John Berardi in episode five. In subsequent episodes, I was able to talk with and receive extraordinary wisdom from the most prominent and intelligent men and women in the fitness and nutrition world from Alwyn Cosgrove to Lou Schuler to Eric Cressey and most recently Dan John. I can honestly say that I have learned more than just the reasons why 5 X 5 sucks and why “Greens Plus is a great product, not to be mixed with anything.” Our guests have shared much of their knowledge and wisdom, which I hope to pass onto you.

Dr. John Beradi

Makes sense to start from the beginning, doesn’t it? So let’s start with Dr. John Berardi (JB), the nutrition guru himself. When my co-host, John Williams, dropped JB an email and we received confirmation that he would be coming on The FitCast, I was extremely excited. This is Dr. John Berardi, and we are still virgins on episode five! Needless to say, I was nervous. You can tell because I said maybe six words tops throughout the entire episode.

If you have ever followed JB’s habits for clean eating, you know he is all about vegetable consumption. He made the listeners very aware of this with his new Super Shake that he discussed on the show. The Super Shake included:

· 1 cup of cottage cheese (lactose free)

· 1/4 of a beet

· 1 cup spinach

· 1/2 of an apple

· 1 orange

· 1/2 serving of Greens Plus

· 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds

· 1/2 of an avocado

To be honest, it has been four months, and I still do not have the balls to try this beast out. However, those who have tried it say that it isn’t bad, not to mention that it’s jam-packed with nutrients. Later in the show, JB discussed that people do not eat better to be better people but to get the body they desire. He talked about how his clients come to him asking what they should do nutritionally to ensure that they get the body they desire, one that mimics the covers of Men’s Health. JB tells them, “You can follow all the nutritional advice that I give, but if you do not train enough, you are not going to get that kind of body.”

When those clients reply with excuses like, “I have a full time job, a wife, and three kids” or “I don’t have the time to workout more than three times a week,” JB puts it simply:

“There is absolutely nothing you can do to look like the model on the cover of Men’s Health when you work out for a maximum of three times a week…That’s the truth…The people with the best bodies don’t just piddle around the gym for a couple hours. They work out hard, they work out with a reasonable amount of volume, and they eat properly. They get all the variables together.”

Lou Schuler

The episode with Lou Schuler can best be described as an adventure. If you have ever talked to Lou in person or on the phone, you most likely laughed multiple times. I mean come on—this is how the show started:

Kevin: “Welcome, Lou.”

John:    “Nice to have you on.”

Lou:     “That’s horseshit and you know it Williams! It’s Friday night, and you couldn’t get anyone else.”

Whoops! There goes our “clean” label on iTunes…

Hopefully you have read The Testosterone Advantage Plan or The New Rules of Lifting and you have already had a taste of Lou’s humor. This humor makes the books Lou writes very enjoyable and fun to read. Also, you get all the pertinent information on fitness and nutrition as well. It’s a win-win situation.

Lou is the kind of guy who just says what’s on his mind. You cannot help but respect him. In the Q&A section of that episode, Lou talked about his new project, Lift like a Man. While doing so he brought up the differences, or lack thereof, between men and women in the case of strength training. Here is his description of that guy (every gym has one) who is always at the gym:

“Those guys who workout all day will do one set of curls, then talk to their buddies for five minutes, and then go over and do another set of curls. You look back and ask yourself, “How does anybody workout for ten hours a week?” Well that’s how you do it! One set every five minutes, especially when doing stupid crap like curls in the squat rack.”

This is possibly the best example of “that guy” who hogs the squat rack doing curls (with 75 lbs) while you wait to deadlift 300 lbs. There are a few pieces of dialog that let you see the kind of guy Lou is but is still nothing like meeting him in person (I was lucky to have the chance last April). It’s even better if you are sitting at the “Current Events” table with him. Actually, maybe that’s not a good thing…

Eric Cressey

Two weeks later, Eric Cressey graced the virtual round table of The FitCast to talk about a multitude of topics. Right off the bat you get the impression that Eric is a pretty laid back guy. Let’s talk about beginner lifters and what’s wrong with 5 X 5 with Eric Cressey:

“Rather than 12 to 15 reps, they start to realize these 5 X 5, 4 X 6, 8 X 3, 6 X 4…all these things are much better because I can still get my reps in, but at the same time, I am getting stronger because I am lifting heavy weights. If you use the analogy Dave Tate uses, there is shit, suck, good, great—‘the four levels of lifters.’ Our 3 X 12 gets us from shit to suck. With our 5 X 5 and 4 X 6, we go from suck to good… In my opinion, everyone should be deadlifting 315 lbs. People who are built structurally well and in a good training environment should be up to 405 lbs…And probably you should be a little stronger.”

Eric went on to discuss how lifters should be training repetition wise:

“What I see a big need for in the intermediate community is to get away from this 5 X 5 stuff because it is not working…You can train for a year and go from a 315 lbs deadlift to a 320 lbs deadlift using 5 X 5, and it just doesn’t make sense. What many people will respond very well to, and this is what we do a tremendous amount of at South Side, is to take a lot of lifts over 90 percent. But we just do one rep or we may be able to get two, but we are focusing on speed of execution. We are focusing on just getting maximum loading. And whereas someone might do 10 X 3 at 80 percent—they get 30 lifts at 80 percent—we might come in and do seven singles over 90 percent. It will be about the same amount of training time…we are not going to get as much of a pure hypertrophy stimulus, but the difference between us and them is that we are looking at it in a long-term context.”

Eric is saying that you might not get big right away with single lifts, but by getting stronger, you will be able to lift heavier. In doing so, you’ll get the muscular size you are looking for. Eric supplied some amazing training information in this episode. Listen to it. You will be glad that you did.

Alwyn Cosgrove

For episode 16, Alwyn Cosgrove joined us, and it became one of the funniest and inspirational shows we’ve done. During the show, Alwyn talked about his bout with cancer and how his life has changed. John William asked, “What sort of lessons do you learn as a cancer survivor in relation to your field or to life in general?” Alwyn replied, “That Internet forums and arguing on them is a waste of time. That’s number one.”

He went on to say:

“Nothing stays the same after a doctor tells you that (referring to being told about the cancer) everything changes…I have no business wasting my time arguing with people. I don’t debate anything with anyone…Unfortunately to appreciate life it took me face to face with death…Right now I have become far more content I’d say. I started looking a little more at overall stresses of the body, not just training stresses. Looking at other things. I have no family history at all of the disease. So I am fairly certain that it was some environmental stress on my body that caused it.”

Alwyn hit me hard when he finished talking about the cancer.

“You just have to appreciate all the good things in your life because your world can get turned upside down. I found a lump in my thigh when I was in the shower one morning and went to the doctor to have it checked out. A month and a half later, I found out it was a tumor. Your world can turn on a dime. And everything changes when you hear those words. Just appreciate everything you have. And that’s it from me. Good night!”

Although he provided some fantastic training information as well, this four-minute clip contains the most important words Alwyn said during his appearance. And, in true Aywyn Cosgrove fashion, he ended it with a joke. Episode 14 was easily my favorite show, and I will never be able to thank Alwyn enough for his time and powerful words.

Dan John

Last but not least, Dan John. Dan John came on for our latest episode, number 20. If you have ever read any of Dan John’s articles or have heard him speak, you know that he is one hell of an inspirational speaker. I would put him on the same level as coach Norman Dale from the Hoosiers, although my favorite motivational speaker is Matt Foley from the SNL skit with Chris Farley (“living in a van down by the river!”). You know you love Matt too!

But I digress. When asked about his greatest achievements in lifting, Dan brought up a fundraiser put on by the students and led by his daughter called, “Lift for Larry.”

“My daughter Kelly put on a thing called, “Lift for Larry” where people went in and we set up a deadlift platform and a bench press. And you would get people to sign off for a nickel, dime, or a dollar for every pound you would lift…I have a great love for Larry. He is truly one of the most gentle and decent people I have ever met in my life…I said if I pulled 600 in the deadlift I would donate $1000. Well, when you have 400 kids screaming at you, at age 48, you pull 600. So I pulled a 600 pound deadlift and then wrote a check for $1000… They raised $14,000 in one week and five days. And when people ask me why I work there, I say, “Love for Larry.”

Later on in the interview, Dan John tells us about the time he was competing and needed to do a clean and jerk with a broken wrist. After his team won, Dan thought to himself, “This is the proudest moment in my athletic career, when you step up on the stage with a broken wrist, with your eyes rolling in the back of your head, and you clean and jerk. Because you are on a team, and that’s what you do when you are on a team.”

This may be the best quote to describe the kind of man that Dan John is. Dan is a man with a big heart and the balls to match it. The final quote from Dan I will leave you with is in regards to Larry:

“He is doing everything I tell my athletes to do. You know what? He shows up. Sometimes in life your job is to show up. When people ask me, “What’s the secret to being a good father?” Well you show up. “What’s the secret to being a good husband?” Well you show up. “Being a good friend?” Well you show up. Even if you don’t want to help him move for the fifteenth time, you still show up. And Larry shows up.”

Through twenty shows, we’ve had some great guests. These people are so good at what they do because of the kind of people that they are. All of them are passionate, most are funny, and all are inspirational, some on a grander scale. As I type this, I am preparing to fly to LA in five days, where I will finally get to meet all of these guys except Lou who I have already met in the past. Not to mention I am flying there with Eric Cressey himself. There is one thing I’ll expect when I meet each of them in person. I expect to be floored by their intelligence and passion. I expect to feel their inspirational energy. That time cannot come soon enough.