Welcome back to the Art of Manliness podcast! In this week’s episode we talk to fitness trainer Vic Magary. Vic blogs at Gym Junkies where he dishes out straightforward advice on fitness and health for men. We talk about his philosophy towards fitness, how to get started with a fitness routine, and the biggest mistakes men make when exercising.
Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness Podcast. Now, if you’re like most man in United States, you probably have a job where you sit at a desk all day either pushing papers or typing in front of a keyboard. And if you’re like the many men who are desk jockeys you’re probably feeling out of shape and dead inside. Well, if this describes you, our guest today might be able to help you because he has been there. His name Vic Magary and he is the owner of the site Gym Junkies where he writes about fitness, nutrition, and health. Vic used to be a desk jockey as full-time attorney but now he makes his living as a fitness trainer and you can visit his site at gymjunkies.com. Vic, welcome to the show.
Vic Magary: Hey, thanks a lot Brett.
Brett McKay: Well Vic, tell us your story. It’s kind of interesting, you started out as an attorney, a practicing attorney and then now you’re full-time fitness trainer, what happened there?
Vic Magary: Well, I think we have to back it up just a hair before that and that is law school, which got me into a ton of student load debt as it does many people are and what happened as a result was I went to the army. I went to United States Army Infantry for three years in a deal they had at the time to repay the student loans. So, while I was in the army, is really the kind of developed and experienced my personal philosophies on fitness training. So after I finished my duty, I came back to my hometown, Columbus, Ohio and took a bar exam, started practicing as a lawyer and just hated it, man.
Brett McKay: Okay.
Vic Magary: I mean it was brutal you know especially the job I had it was ––I was a government attorney, so you know clients are very appreciative, they kind of stuck with you, they don’t get to pick their attorneys and you know the amount of paperwork, just the, you know, overall the stress levels was something that was not good for me in any aspects, you know mentally, physically, or you know emotionally. So at one point I just, decided enough is enough man, I mean I literally just snapped one morning. I couldn’t get out of bed and just said that I said I’ve had enough and so I forced myself out of bed, jumped into my backyard and just put myself through a bunch of movements that was similar to what I did in the army and by that what I mean is just real world kind of functional stuff. I think it’s a real light movement I had in the army was putting up this huge, I mean huge like mess tent. I mean it took like 20 guys to put this thing up and it was like the hardest workout in my life, it was like 20 of us doing this, but that’s you know real world exertion stuff. It’s not doing bicep curls on some chromed-out machine. It’s, you know, moving heavy objects and it has a purpose at the end and it kind of body is designed for. So whenever I got back to that style of training I just didn’t have any looking back and did not to want to return to the desk.
Brett McKay: Yeah, so I mean how the law school and law affect you health because I’m–– I went to law school, I’m a law grad but I’m not a practicing attorney because I got out before I could even start, which is nice. But, yeah, I mean for me law school really did toll on my health. I mean aged immensely, I definitely got out of shape. I mean, did you have that same thing or were you able to kind of mitigated some with your experience in the military, you kind of have a physical fitness?
Vic Magary: I definitely swung to the opposite on the spectrum. The spectrum that you’re talking about where I was just totally out of shape, you know, certainly at the worse point of my life. You know to give you just you know kind of the stat, so to speak, I’m above 5 feet 8 inches, whenever I’m in top shape I weighed about 150 pounds and at my worst when I was an attorney I was weighing about 186, definitely soft, definitely out of shape, and definitely just frustrated with life and I think even that is a bigger contributor to poor health than we like to admit at times. And so, you know, I didn’t immediately just quit the law job and jump into the fitness business, you know. What I did was I started the first training clients at their home after about a year of that then I open my own store front and I would train clients in the evenings while still practicing law during the day and after about three years of that I finally eliminated law permanently and I just train clients full-time.
Brett McKay: Oh, I see you had to hassle a lot to get to the point you’re at right now.
Vic Magary: Oh, man, nonstop hassle, man. I mean we’re burning on both ends of the candle but I mean you know you kind of have that oh that drive, at the end that you’re shooting for, it makes the long days worth it definitely.
Brett McKay: Well, I mean ––and I know we’re interviewing primarily for your expertise on fitness but I think you probably lot of say, but I think there’s a lot of men out there too who aren’t happy with their jobs and they are wanting to do something else and I guess your experience would be a great pattern to follow, pick up something moonlight a little bit and then when you finally make enough you know quit your old job and you know commit full-time to your new one.
Vic Magary: Absolutely. I mean there is definitely going to be a middle ground of risks, so to speak, where you know maybe the part-time income is not quite enough but you’re pretty darn close, so then you have that you know on the bridge, so to speak, you know and just you know get rid of the job if you don’t like. But I still think that’s better method than just, you know, cutting your ties instantaneously, I mean especially if you’re in a situation like most guys where you may have a family or children or you know other people depending upon you for your income. You know you definitely want to gradually move into that. But at the same time, you don’t want to stagnate either, you know, you always have to be moving forward and you know may you give yourself a goal but making it reasonable, you know maybe a year to just three years down the road whenever you want to kind of transition permanently is what I’d recommend.
Brett McKay: Awesome. Alright, so let’s get back to your fitness philosophy, you described a little bit of it, it comes primarily from your experience in the military, can you go in a little bit more detail about what your philosophy is in regards to fitness?
Vic Magary: Sure, to keep it kind of baseline and basic, let’s just say number one, basic movements, number two always training outside your comfort zone. When I say basic movements, it just means what the body’s designed to do. And when I say that I mean from almost a survival standpoint, what are we designed to do. We’re designed to push, pull, run, jump, throw, climb that’s pretty much it. Okay, we’re definitely not designed to be strapped on some chrome monstrosity banging out reps. So if you stick to those primary movements and kind of engage your, I guess, effectiveness level of movement within those parameters then you’re on a good place. But then after that you have to continually strive to move forward and progress it all times you know kind of like the classic thing is a guy will tell me you know every morning I wake up and I do 30 push-ups but I’m not getting any stronger and I’m like well, you know tomorrow try to do 31, that’ll make a little bit of a difference. Same thing with the guy who tells me oh, you know I get up and I jog three miles every morning. Well, you’re not getting the results, you got to change the protocol a little bit. But that’s it basically, basic movements, always training outside of the comfort zone.
Brett McKay: Alright, so basic movement you think–– you’re talking like squats, bench press, deadlifts?
Vic Magary: Absolutely. Yeah, we want to kind of bring it back in as a more common nomenclature of exercise. Yes, I’m talking about compound movements. Compound movements basically mean you are utilizing more than one joint at a time. As an example, a bicep curl would be a single joint movement, okay whereas a pull-up would be a compound movement––the pull-up using both the elbow and shoulder whereas bicep curl only uses the elbow. And in real world situation your body doesn’t use those single joint movements. I mean when you do a bicep curl in real life whereas a pull-up if you’d to launch yourself upon top of the wall or you know up to a tree that’s the movement you would use to kind of bring that back to the lower body, same thing with a deadlift. Okay, the deadlift is going to work primarily your posture, your chin, that’s everything from you know the top of your shoulders just about down to your back to your ankles, but primarily the gluteus and the hamstrings. And that’s just not bending down and picking up a bag of malt that’s a dead lift. Whereas in a gym, you know, this big, commercial, global gym you’re going to see guys laying face down on a lying leg curl machine and that is something you’re definitely not going to repeat in a real world by any means. So yeah, the compound movements are a lot more practical you know kind of big buzz word in the fitness industry is they’re functional and I think there was a lot of truth to that.
Brett McKay: Okay, so what about nutrition? I think I know that there’s so much information out there, a lot of it conflicting. One man will say you need to eat every three hours, another one will say no, don’t that, you know just eat three big meals, what’s your philosophy on nutrition?
Vic Magary: My philosophy for nutrition ties right back into what we just talked about my philosophy for exercise. You know your movement selection I think the body was designed to do, push, pull, run, jump, throw, or climb same thing with your nutrition selections. What is the body designed to eat? Is it designed to eat bread? I think there is a lot of good arguments they’re probably not especially if you can look at it from you know a pretty historical standpoint basically in the caveman days. Time and time again particularly with clients who’re looking to lose weight, body fat, a diet that is based almost exclusively on vegetables, fruits, lean meats, small amount of nuts and seeds takes you where you want to go every time. Also you don’t have the same energy fluctuation that you have with the kind of a typical standard American diet, you know where there’s a lot of high glycemic, carbohydrates, things like bread and pasta and rice and potatoes and things like that, that’s what causes that kind of spiking your energy levels and then resulting crash afterward. But if you stick to take lots of vegetables, some meats, and fruits, and nuts, energy levels are constant and your body weight tends to stabilize exactly where it’s supposed to be.
Brett McKay: Awesome and keep it simple, okay.
Vic Magary: Yeah.
Brett McKay: And in regards to nutrition, one of the articles I thought that was really interesting on your site, you talked about intermittent fasting, what is that and how is that beneficial?
Vic Magary: Intermittent fasting just is you know exactly what sounds like, you kind of take this periods where you don’t eat and by intermittent you know maybe it’s not so–– I almost say deliver, that’s the wrong word for what I’m saying. You know, maybe one week you only do your fast for eight hours and then you know maybe 10 days later you go through on 18-hour fast or whatever or maybe you try it again in your fast, you do include some fruits and vegetables but you steer clear of any other kind of heavy nutritional objects and what it kind of does is there’s few things ––one, the kind of the original theory behind it that I read about was kind of get your body a break because there is a lot of energy expenditure in the digestive process. But again for fat loss or losing body weight in particular, I think it is very effective because it forces your body to use energy source that you wanted to use, but it doesn’t want to use in particular body fat. Whenever you do eat food, you know, you’re putting blood sugar into your body which the body uses as energy source. Anything that’s leftover didn’t get used, get stored as glycogen and delivers in the muscles and if you have this glycogen store and your body is going to use that as it go to energy source instead of body fat. Whereas if you don’t eat every once a while these glycogen store is kind of get depleted and then your body is forced to use the body fat for energy, which is what you want like I say particularly and a weight loss or body fat reduction protocol.
Brett McKay: And when you’re doing intermittent fasting do you continue workouts as normal? So say, one day you’re fasting for 18 hours, would you just workout as you would normally?
Vic Magary: You workout normally with a few exceptions. One, obviously if your energy levels are falling so low, you know you’re getting the splitting headaches, this is an occurrence more so with people who are ––for lack of better word ––addicted to the carbohydrate diet, you know, where they’re almost having like withdrawal symptoms, you might want to cut back on the workout that day just more so for discomfort reasons as opposed to any kind of health concerns or risk. But if you’re trying to pick up weight which, you know, some guys are in that situation, then, no. If you’re just doing your fast because you know you want to cleanse your body whatever which kind of tell from my tone of voice I don’t know how much literally there is to threat or not, I just know that it definitely works if you want to cut some body fat, but basically judging on your energy levels. If your energy level feel good, then yes, exercise as normally. You’re not going to have any ill effects, don’t worry about this window after your workout where you’re supposed to eat this perfect ratio of carbohydrates and protein within 60 minute window after your resistance training. You know, your body does what it’s supposed to do; it’s a pretty amazing machine.
Brett McKay: Okay. What are some common myths about fitness and health that you see a lot of men have? Because I’m sure you’ve clients that come in and they have their preconceived notions about what fitness program should look like, what kind of workouts and exercise they should do, you see a lot of men that have, you know, kind of this myths that they’ve heard on TV or radio and they bring that to you.
Vic Magary: Absolutely. Two of them stick out, number one being the long, slow cardio training for weight loss; number two being the direct abdominal work to get the coveted six pack ab which you see on cover of, you know, every men’s magazine on the bookstore shelves. To address the long, slow cardio first you know, sometimes I think I get bad reputation from slamming long, slow cardio. It’s not that I’m slamming, you know if you want to do five mile run, as long as you’re on the misconception that’s an effective fat loss strategy and that gives you some sort of you know emotional, mental, or spiritual clarity I say you know run your ass off, that’s fine with me. But if you think you’re out there doing the most efficient method to kind of get that lean look then you’re mistaken. You know, an example where comparison I use with clients sometimes is you know I can put a nail on a board with the back end of a screwdriver, I can do it, but I’ll much rather use a hammer. Same thing yeah, you can lose weight running five miles a day but I’d much rather use high intensity short duration exercises focusing on compound movements which is much more efficient. So, I’ll say that is probably the biggest necessity. Clients are coming in and say I’ve been running five miles a day and I’m not losing weight, you know, maybe you need to try something different. Now, the second one is six-pack abs, you know, the thing that sells most magazines to men probably and in the fitness area at least. Again, you know that’s not a functional of your muscular strength in that area as far as getting that look. Again, it’s a factor of body fat reduction. Now, if you do want to make that area strong even then I don’t recommend crunches, you have to stick with the abdominal muscles too and that’s torso stabilization and your big compound movements in particularly anything overhead, like overhead press, military press, also anything over the torso forced to stabilize due to heavy load such as back squats or deadlift, those are going to be much better for conditioning what is commonly called the core than any number of crunches you can do, so those should be the big two.
Brett McKay: Okay. An unrelated note, what are some mistakes that you see a lot of men making when they’re starting out with fitness and health routine, what’re the mistakes you see?
Vic Magary: Biggest mistake I see is not having a plan. They will go to the big corporate gym, you know, hear the sales pitch, sign a contract, walk into the gym and not know what the hell he was doing. So what did he do, he walks around, if it was an open machine, he sits on it and bangs up a few reps, he gets up, he walks around again, see if there’s an open machine, sits on it, you know he doesn’t have a plane. Don’t get me wrong, it’s better sitting in front of the cough with a bag of chips and six pack of beer, but it’s still once again not very efficient, not effective in that situation. So you got to have a plan and you have to have that plan based on your goals. And then when you’re first starting out on a fitness program and your goals may just be to gain some sort of ––I want to say virtuosity, but some sort of proficiency in the basic movements. And by basic I mean a push up, a squat using nothing more than your body weight, and a pull-up. If you can do 25 strict push-ups, in my opinion you have no business being on a bench press. If you can’t do you know 25 strict body weight squats with great range of motion then you shouldn’t have a barbell across your shoulders and you kind of have to dail it back to that and you know unfortunately lot of guys particularly in a public environment like a gym, you know their ego gets in the way and they didn’t want to take those steps to kind of ingrain that which is not only going to make your workouts much more beneficial down the road, but it’s also going to keep him safe and healthy.
Brett McKay: Yeah, one thing I’ve seen in a lot of guys, they start off, they want to bite off more at the very beginning than they can really chew and they get, I guess, discouraged and they does end up quitting.
Vic Magary: Yeah.
Brett McKay: Yeah. Okay, so here is a question, you know a lot of our readers are younger men, they are in their 20s, some of them in their 30s, but then we also have men who you know read and listen to this podcast who are older. You know how should your workout routine change as a man ages? Should you be doing focusing on one thing when you’re 20s and then you’re 40 maybe you should shift to another focus, I mean should there be a shift?
Vic Magary: I think the shift depends on more so with your familiarity with exercise than it does with your age. And what I mean by that is if you’re a beginner like we just talked about and let’s say you’re over 40 or over 50 even in your 60s and you’re brand new beginner, then really you’re going to want to pay close attention to your recovery rates, your range of motion, how your joints feel, things like that. When you’re younger, you know your recovery rates are a lot better, you can, you know, make a little more errors in your technique, injury risk is not quite as high. That things are on the flip side if you’re a long standing fitness practitioner in your 40s, 50s, 60s, then you enter kind of the realm of mastery, you know just like any other skill. When you’ve been doing that long you just get such a, I guess, such swallow perception. I mean you can just–– you can tell that your particular body works in ways that may not be in line with standard protocol. For example, I know that full-strength training, you know by strength training I mean being able to move the heaviest object you can, one time. To develop that capacity my body works great at about three repetition range, five sets of three my strengths are going to do build up. It’s kind of common protocol for that is what we called 5/5 program where you use five repetitions as heavy as you can, you repeat that for five sets. When I do that I tears my body down, man. I mean my lower back is sore from deadlifts and you know my knees don’t feel good, I know that me in particular three reps. You kind of get sensitivity that comes from experience that you know it’s the same thing with any other movement or practice whatever might be, whether it’s practicing law or fitness doesn’t matter, age can be benefit due to experience.
Brett McKay: Alright. Last question, Vic and it’s related to–– I saw this article on your blog and you kind of connect it to like fitness, but I think it also applies to a lot of aspects in a man’s life and you write about the difference between a soldier and a warrior, can you explain the difference and what should man strive to be–– a solider or a warrior?
Vic Magary: Men should strive to be a solider first but always look into transition to the warrior. And it kind of goes back to where I was just talking about and it just means experience and that means having enough experience to make your own decisions. And to get that experience, first you’ve to obey orders and first you’ve take instructions and first you’ve to follow the recipe that’s in book. By following that recipe overtime you kind of gain your insight and you realizes certain things work for you that one in the recipe, certain things don’t work for you. And through that experience then you kind of discard what’s not useful for you, adding what is useful for you, and you ––what I like to say ––you dance and instead of march and that’s really ––well, being a warrior is to me is to you know acknowledge the differences that we each had as individuals, not being afraid to kind of stray off the path that other people expect from you and kind of trust in your own instinct, your own gut and just going with it and accepting the consequences thereafter. You know maybe it’s not right, but you’re going to go out and you’re going to try it. Again, it is not right, you’re going to accept that and you’re going to, of course, correct it.
Brett McKay: Awesome. Well Vic, thanks for your time, it’s been a pleasure.
Vic Magary: Hey, thank you so much, Brett. We do have something special for those listening to this if that’s okay with you.
Brett McKay: Sure.
Vic Magary: You can take just 31 days fat loss cure dot com and that’s like the number three one, 31dayfatlosscure.com/manliness. There’s free work out there for anyone listening, it’s a no-gym needed workout, it’s perfect for beginners and there is also a 29-minute audio interview that I did with Zach Even Esh talking about how to be successful both in your training and your life. So that’s just a little thank to everyone who is listening because you know at gymjunkies.com we love theartofmanliness.com, so I really appreciate if you call.
Brett McKay: Sure thing. Our guest today was Vic Magary. Vic is the owner the blog Gym Junkies and you can find out more information about Vic’s work at gymjunkies.com. Well, that wraps up another edition of The Art of Manliness Podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out The Art of Manliness website at artofmanliness.com and until next time stay manly.