Tyler English Interview
Tyler English Interview by Lou Schuler
It was 2009 at a fitness conference when I first met Tyler English, and he was the only guy there not getting hammered. It turns out that he was preparing for his first pro natural bodybuilding competition. The second time I met Tyler… well… that’s a whole different interview.
If you haven’t yet heard about Tyler, he is a champion pro level natural bodybuilder. Not only that, but he is also one of the most successful fitness business owners I know. In fact, he was recently featured in Entrepreneur magazine to discuss both his partnership with Fitness Revolution and how he grew his training organization Tyler English Fitness Systems to the mammoth that it is today.
Anyway, he recently released his new book, The Men’s Health Natural Bodybuilding Bible, and I felt the need to try and track him down for an interview. So I reached out to Tyler, and to my surprise, he took time away from downing protein shakes to answer my questions about how to help you achieve a physique that is photo shoot ready.
Tyler, thanks for doing this interview with me. I really appreciate it. For my first question, I’m going to put you on the spot. Pretend this is real life Twitter. In 140 characters, tell us how to achieve 5% body fat.
Create a foundation of diet and strength and understand you have to weigh and measure everything you eat. Also, cardio is your best friend.
It’s interesting you bring up cardio. Lately, cardio seems to be getting a bad rap in the industry. Why cardio?
To cite John Romaniello, cardio is like ketchup; it makes everything better. Once you understand diet and strength work, you need to understand how to add in supplemental cardio. I’m a firm believer in HIIT (high intensity training)… I do it 1-2 days a week. The problem is that you can’t fully recover from it. It would be really tough to bang out an interval workout on Monday and then get into the gym and do a HIIT workout on Tuesday. So, you need to fit in those moderate intensity cardio days to make sure you’re moving and being active. Yes, I’m talking about other cardio variations, those that this industry tends to slam. If you are hitting it hard in the gym 4-5 days a week, your recovery is going to come into question and the last thing you’ll want to bang out are more sprints.
I can’t argue with that logic. I mean, you are a champion natural bodybuilder, so it’s obviously working for you. I guess Men’s Health trusts you too if they’re partnering with you on book deals. Now tell me, there is a lot of information floating around about bodybuilding. What’s different about your book from other bodybuilding books and resources?
Men’s Health has done a great job creating an audience for the Belly Off! Diet. But there are also men out there that, for once in their lives, want to achieve the look of a natural bodybuilder or a high level fitness model. Whether this is for a birthday, a photo shoot, or even just so a man can say, “I was able to compete as a bodybuilder,” this book offers men an opportunity to follow the steps needed to get to 5% and get the look they want.
Getting to body fat levels like that must be some tough work. Can the average guy really do this? How much training time would someone need to commit?
Yes, once a man understands his body type and his genetics, he can do it. The question is how much time he needs to take. Obviously, the more time you put into it, the better results you’ll get and the faster you’ll get them. In the book, I suggest basing your training off how much time you have. For me, with running the gym, writing this book, and all the other stuff I have going on, I’ve learned how to fit bodybuilding into my life, not make it my life.
For most people, they’ll need a minimum of four times a week where they spend 45 minutes on strength and 30 minutes on cardio. Now, depending on a man’s body type, he’ll need anywhere from 12-24 weeks, assuming he’s starting at 16-18% body fat already. Ectomorphs need 12-16 weeks. Mesomporhs… 15-20. Endomorphs… 20-24.
That’s good to know. Now what happens during contest prep? I’ve heard that bodybuilders do insane things to prepare for competitions… do we really have to go nuts with this?
The book dispels a lot of myths in bodybuilding, mistakes I’ve made myself. Your body is smarter than you. Early on in my amateur years of competition, I’ve cut water, loaded up on potassium tablets, loaded up on carbs too much and looked 10 pounds too heavy, ate too few carbs and screwed up a photoshoot. I learned from mentor, Dr. Joe Klemczewski that water and carbs are going to follow each other. Vitamins and minerals need to be maintained, but the only thing you really toy with the week of the show is carbs.
I used to think differently. You actually need to be pretty ready 4 weeks out, and then it’s just tweaks. I’ve done the whole diuretics thing… stuff bodybuilders still do today, but through my own practice, I learned there was another way. You can do it through just carb manipulation, when you are lean enough.
Tyler, you have the results everyone is promising? I don’t mean to be controversial, but is there any merit to some popular trends right now such as lean gains, intermittent fasting, or ketogenic diets? Do they have a role in bodybuilding?
If you show me a ketogenic bodybuilder, I’ll show you a binge eater… the problem is depriving your body of glycogen and being unable to fuel workouts. They’ll need to eat more at some point, and then maybe dip down to ketogenic at some point. If a bodybuilder sticks to a ketogenic diet, there will ultimately be large rebound factor post competition, that will lead to high amounts of weight gain.
I cover meal spacing in the book. Genetically, an ectomorph can eat every two hours. I ate 2 hours ago this morning, and I’m already hungry. You guys took me away from it… but that’s okay. In my offseason, I stay lean, within 10-15 pounds of contest prep– the closer the better. All that stuff about lean gains and fasting– you can learn a lot– what you are doing is giving your body more time to break through the carbs you consume, which gives you more time to access body fat. It also teaches you a lot about yourself, psychologically, being able to go without food is something many people fear and places you in mindset of not allowing our emotions to control our diet. But if you limit carbs, you do want to partition meals to fit into your lifestyle. Me, I can go 5 hours without eating; that way, it doesn’t destroy my schedule. There will be times when eating partitioned out meals every 2 hours is important. The body needs stable blood sugar when you achieve such a low body fat. 12 hour spacing probably wouldn’t work for most bodybuilders.
With bodybuilding, there is a lot of training. The more active you are… the body needs carbs. There may be carb only meals, say immediately pre workout. Sometimes it’s what I need to get through a workout. But it needs to fit into what your metabolism and genetics are predisposed for. I have actually eaten Girl Scout cookies before a workout. Peanut Butter Tagalong. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I’ve done it. If you do have a craving, every once in a while, you need to indulge, but you have to track macros, and make sure you do it before workout.
I will eat more “normal” food during my contest prep season. I’m going to give myself 24 or more weeks so I don’t need to be so strict. I’d like the option of drinking a beer.
Would you actually drink a beer during contest prep?
If your 30th birthday falls in line with contest prep, you bet your ass I’d drink it. True story.
Where do you start when you begin contest prep, where do you end?
I get to 2.5-3.5% body fat for contests. It gets tough. I don’t go above 185 pounds in my offseason. My low point was 165, for this past year’s World Championships, and it worked, I finished 3rd in the World in the Lightweight class, but for most of my career I fluctuated between 170-172 pounds on stage. In my offseason, I go to 7-8% body fat max.
So you mentioned some of the mistakes you’ve made before with contest prep. Have you had any other setbacks… you ever pull a glute?
They’re too shredded… they can’t be pulled. However, after winning my pro card in 2008, I was incorporating more volume in my deadlifting, and I felt a little tight during workout. I ended up pulling some low back muscles and got set back for a couple weeks. Other than that, I’ve never truly been injured.
In 2010, before I went on string of showings, I was watching the Patriots versus Texans, and I started feeling cramps. It was when I was taking time off after competition. Later on, after teaching 3 boot camp classes at my gym, I found out that I actually needed an emergency appendectomy. The doctor said I needed 8 weeks to recover, but I started sneaking pull-ups at 5. It was a bad idea.
When I started coming back, a warm up at 135 pounds felt like 3000 pounds.
I presented in January at a seminar, and that’s where I met Dr. Joe Klemczewski. I hired him, and I ended up looking my best ever at the Pro America in Massachusetts. Nine weeks later, I won the 2010 WNBF Mid America Lightweight Championship in Indiana. It was a big victory because I didn’t think I was going to be able to compete after having to shut it down for 8 weeks.
So you never really made any big mistakes… it was just your appendix. Switching gears a little, I want to let you talk about the book a little more. Is there a program in the book that you provide for the readers to keep them on track?
Absolutely. The book is broken down into four parts.
Part 1 of the book is a rich history of bodybuilding and my story– how I paid a bunch of money to go to seminar, and how I came to find a bodybuilding mentor.
Part 2 of the book is nutrition… protein, carbs, and fat. For the bodybuilder, first figure out protein levels, then fat levels, and then carb levels. Also understand that bodybuilders of yesteryear ate more carbs and fat than they do today. The parameters in the book are based on body type.
Part 3 is 24-week training program, and it’s very bodybuilding rich. I wanted the book to go to the roots of bodybuilding, show you can still “train the muscle” and look damn good.
Part 4– if you read this book not just for diet advice or a workout program– how do I actually get on stage? What do I do the week before a contest? What else is there? How do I get into the right mindset? What do I do afterward? After all this prep and organization, now do I just do whatever I want?
Well I don’t want to keep you all morning. You mentioned you were hungry… so just a few more questions. If you woke up tomorrow and couldn’t do bodybuilding anymore… what would you do?
I’m a fitness professional, strength coach, business owner, an author, and an entrepreneur first. I compete to take myself to an extreme level, but I’d find something else to do. I’m competitive. I’ve built a gym to over 500 clients in 2 facilities in a few years. I can always find something to push myself.
That’s great. Thank you so much for doing this interview. Any final thoughts?
I use this quote a lot: “Fit bodybuilding into your life, don’t make bodybuilding your life.”
This has allowed me to go to Chicago for my sister’s marathon, walk around the city and see her 5 different times in 26.2 miles, and get crazy shin splints. I can even tell myself, “I deserve this. My macros are low. I’m in Chicago. I’m getting a deep dish personal pizza and some chianti,” and still be successful.
Of course, the next day I made my sister and fitness director wait for me when I smashed a leg workout to use up all that glycogen.
Tyler has put together a bundle of bonuses for all those who buy The Men’s Health Natural Bodybuilding Bible. You can grab the book and the bonuses here => http://naturalbodybuildingbiblebonuses.com/#
Tyler English, has quickly become of the fitness industry’s leading experts. He is founder of Tyler English Fitness, a state of the art 9,100 sq. ft. facility and one of America’s top gyms. His training programs have been featured in several publications from Men’s Health to Entrepreneur and has been featured on CBS, NBC and FOX. Tyler’s work ethic and dedication to goals and results-oriented lifestyle is apparent in his own body of work.
He earned the honor of a Professional Natural Bodybuilder with the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) in only 3 years of competition and won the 2010 WNBF Mid America Lightweight Championship and finished as the 3rd place Middleweight in the World at the 2010 WNBF World Championships and 3rd place Lightweight in 2012. Tyler English has become one of the most respected fitness professionals in the fitness industry – while always displaying a high degree of integrity, responsibility, and ambition. He has proven to be a respected leader within the fitness community, both locally and nationally.
For more info visit his blog at www.TylerEnglishBlog.com
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