July 14, 2023

#108: Eb & Swole – Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel (Sandlot Jax & GORUCK Games 2023 Series)

Hosted by Fran Racioppi

Biceps are earned not given. The evolution of fitness has seen trends come and go; but one thing has never changed…push-ups, pull-ups, squats and going hard still work. Fran Racioppi is joined by Men’s Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel live from the 2023 Sandlot Jax and GORUCK Games to bring fitness back to the basics and dispel the myths of today’s fads. 

Eb started his career as a sports journalist covering the NY Giants biggest headlines, but also creating relationships with players based on his unique approach asking questions about workout routines, not just how they played on the field. Fran and Eb cover the evolution of journalism, the rise of social media and how great journalists maintain relationships with the athletes they cover. 

They also dig into foundational fitness. Simple movements based on precision execution and hard work. That’s Eb’s simple key to lifelong fitness for everyone from Arnold Schwartzenegger to freshman football. Eb also shares his new YouTube series Eb and Swole where he’s coaching all of us on the basics, teaching us how to manage our training load as we age and instilling the importance of the mind-muscle connection. 

Learn more from Eb Samuel on social media. Subscribe to us and follow @jedburghpodcast on all social media. Watch the full video version on YouTube.

Listen to the podcast here

Eb & Swole – Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel (Sandlot Jax & GORUCK Games 2023 Series)

Eb, welcome to The Jedburgh Podcast.

I’m excited to be here. It’s fun to come down to Jacksonville. I’m in the truck. I like the truck.Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot Jax

This has been a work in progress to configure this thing. We towed it down for eighteen hours straight. All of these people here in fitness would tell me, “That’s a bad idea. I should never do that.” You don’t sleep, number one. There are people here who regiment their sleep. I was switching between Red Bull and coffee the whole way and eating junk, then not even hungry. I had Mike Roussell here talking about nutrition. I’m like, “Mike, explain this to me. I’m not even hungry. I’m driving all night. At every rest stop, I’m going to find more junk to put into my body.” You get here and you’re like, “I feel horrible.”

I do have to do that on the way home. I hope you have another way home.

I do have to do that on the way home but my buddy Alex is here and he’s going to drive back with me so I don’t have to do it on my own.

At least you got the sleep part.

You are the Fitness Director for Men’s Health. Before that, you are a sports columnist and a tech columnist for the New York Daily News. You went to Syracuse and studied Journalism. Our paths were close together because I applied to Syracuse and BU. I got into both. I wanted to study Journalism and I made the other choice. I went to BU. You went to Syracuse but why journalism? Why’d you want to get into that?

I wanted to get into journalism because I couldn’t do what I wanted to do, which is I love sports and fitness. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to have a career in fitness. I realized I was a late bloomer athletically. I realized very soon that the NBA was not in my future. 5’10 does not work so well in the NBA.

We had Dee Brown in here. His head was like this.

What’s crazy is he is short and I’m short compared to him. I had very little shot at basketball. I wanted to learn about fitness. I loved watching sports growing up. I got into journalism specifically to write for ESPN and Sports Illustrated. That’s what I wanted to do. I thought the easiest way to be there, if I can’t fitness or play alongside these guys, is to let me write about them. Writing is the one thing I could do well growing up coming up in school.

Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot Jax“Let me write about them because then I’ll be around them.” All I’m going to do when I get around these athletes, my entire plan was mapped out and that’s why I went to Syracuse, is I’m going to ask them about their workouts. I’m going to do my job, ask them about free agency and how they played the last game but I want to ask Victor Cruz. That was the era when I covered the Giants. I want to ask Victor Cruz, “What do you do for your apps?” I want to ask Eli Manning, “How do you train your arm?”

You’re saying names that are unwelcome around The Jedburgh Podcast in my truck here, being from Boston and a Patriots fan. We have a hate relationship. I’m not even going to say I have a love-hate relationship. That’s the Jets but the Giants win two games. They both happen to be against us.

I grew up in Jersey. By default, there’s a level of Giants fan in me. I bounced around a lot. Tom Brady was starting when I was starting to comprehend football. I grew up a Patriots fan. I remember going in my first year covering the Giants was the year Manning to Manningham. That was the first Super Bowl day that I ever covered the Giants. I was a Patriots fan.

I remember telling Victor Cruz because we are pretty close, “I’m going to do my job so I guess I’m rooting for you guys,” but I’m very quietly hoping Tom Brady gets Super Bowl number four or something for him. He would go on to win seventeen more anyway but I’m a huge Brady friend. We did a project with Nike. They made jerseys for all of us and mine is a number 12 Patriot jersey. I’ve got mixed-up sports alliances going on.

You brought up Victor Cruz. He is a great player. I respect what many of these athletes do. I’m very interested because you said you had a good relationship with him. How do you develop that relationship? I said Dee Brown was in here. We talked about the relationship that you have player-to-player, coach-to-player and even executive-to-player. What about from the journalist’s side? How do you develop rapport and trust? In many ways, as journalists, we can be your best friend but we can also be the enemy if we don’t play it right. How do you develop that relationship and cultivate it?

First of all, it’s hard. It’s harder for journalists to some extent because depending on what kind of media you are, how you’re viewed. They view you as a mouthpiece and an adversary that they have to talk to because it’s the rules of covering sports. It’s in their contract that they have to make a certain amount of appearances. It’s extra hard. It’s there by default because it’s in their contract and because they know if they say something and they treat you like crap, it’s going to show up. It’s going to be reflected on some level in the way you cover them. It’s there by default on that level. Developing a good relationship with those guys, it’s about being around and available.Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot Jax

It’s about being in the locker room almost every single day. When I covered the NFL, it was pre-pandemic. I don’t know how it is in 2023. They mix Zooms and in-person, which makes it hard. When I covered the NFL, they practiced every day except Tuesday. We would be there on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The good guys, the guys who were good at their jobs, would be there Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I was there because I’m good at my job.

It’s such a tight time window. You have player availability for 45 minutes a day but Victor Cruz is going to take press conference questions and then it’s what happens after the press conference where you make your relationship with them because it’s about being the last guy to stay after all the press has hit all the questions that they want, then showing to me it was about showing that I’m different. We were around the same age. Showing that I’m not some old press guy but we have some stuff in common. We can talk about other things. It’s about approaching him like a friend a little bit and engaging him on things other than football. These guys get hit with so many questions, “What happened on fourth down? Why are you playing horribly?”

I’m laughing because it’s the questions they ask.

It wears on the guys.

They’re intentionally going out there and dropping balls.

It’s crazy. I knew I got to know a lot of players when I left the NFL because I started training players. When I got to Men’s Health, I got to know them in a different way. I have full respect for everything any sports writer has to do. Players also very quietly think the sports writers ask the same dumb question over and over again. What I would do is go up to these guys and ask about the same thing we have in common. “What do you do for your abs?”

That gave me a little bit of a different relationship than the same when I walked up to them. Eventually, after 2 to 3 months and seasons of doing that, I walked up to those guys. At some point, I might ask a football question. I have a job to do but at the same time, they knew we could have a conversation and it was going to be a little breath of fresh air compared to all the other stuff they were going to answer.

To me, that is the best way to create that relationship because then that relationship evolves in different ways with different guys. I won’t say who or where we were texting back and forth. We were playing video games and that’s when there was a different bond and they could tell me other things. At some point, I might ask them, “It might be good to put this on the record and do a story on this,” but they felt I was there. I still understand I have my job to do because I’m a media person.

You got to develop that trust but you’re not going to violate that trust.Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot Jax

This is true of every single sports writer, from Adam Schefter to Dan Graziano. To me, that comes from a level of keeping secrets. They have to trust you. The only way they trust you is they’re going to tell you that their wife is sick on a day and you’re not going to just tweet that out. It’s always constantly this analysis of, “Is this worth putting out there? Is it worth burning a bridge? Is it worth keeping that bridge and keeping the relationship?” To be honest, I was never going to be Adam Schefter. A lot of that was because, on some level, I would rather keep the relationship than get some story that’s going to get a couple of million views a day and then be forgotten. To me, it wasn’t worth it. I always valued the relationship more.

It’s better to keep the relationship with the person you’re interviewing rather than get a story that will get a couple million views in one day and then be forgotten. Share on X

I always thought that the sports aspect was super interesting. I was a Division 1 college athlete and played sports in high school but it was funny because I looked at journalism and was like, “I want to be a war correspondent.” Sebastian Junger is coming on after you. For me, these two hours are cool because you get to talk about these different angles of journalism but it was always about getting the war piece.

Tom Brokaw was my hero and I looked at him and Peter Jennings. It was all about this objectivity in sports. When you look at reporters and a lot of them who are out there who have an angle who take a less than objective approach and the rise of social media, how has things like the repeal of the fairness doctrine, which doesn’t apply much to sports? How has more of the rise of social media and the need to become a celebrity yourself, almost as a journalist, to get likes and follows affected their ability to accurately report?

It’s gotten hard and I saw it evolving. When I started, I was a little bit old schooled and how I always did my job. I was raised like you report the story, the facts and that’s a story. I remember when I was coming up, Twitter was at its heyday. Instagram was getting started.Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot Jax

When I was coming up, we didn’t have cell phones.

That was a little before my time.

We still had the video. We had to translate VHS videos.

What happened is journalism on some level is internet rules all. What happened is mainstream media in an attempt to stay relevant. I saw it changing because I started out reporting this is what happened to the game. This is what Victor Cruz said. That was my story. I would interpret it a little bit but it was always focused on that. Halfway, probably in the later stages of my career in about 2017 or 2018, it started to shift.

They didn’t want me to just write. Everybody knew that. It was on the internet. It was all about how you, as the reporter, interpret it for your audience. It became more about opinion. Influence is another kind of reporting, more than it influences what happens in sports. If you look at what happens in sports, it’s become very opinion. ESPN SportsCenter isn’t necessarily the highlight for them anymore. I used to love watching SportsCenter. Now, it’s the first take. To be honest, I don’t know the shows as well because they became opinion focused. I backed off a little bit in

It’s hard to watch. You can watch it for a few minutes and then eventually, it’s this noise.

It’s also a very echo chamber. If you like Steven A, you know what he’s going to say and you follow him for long and you’re tuning in to hear him say what he’s going to say. He’s not going to surprise you in any way because he’s not reporting. He’s giving his opinion, which is not going to change. I don’t want to say I’m disappointed by it but it’s changed. I saw that evolving-and-to-be honest, that’s why I chose to move on a little bit.

Let’s talk about moving on. You did go from the sports journalism piece to your current role. You’re working on both the written content and the video content for Men’s Health, which involves a whole number of things, primarily working with different athletes and personalities in their shoots that then get covered by the magazine. Talk a bit about the role, why it was appealing to you and what that every day looks like.

Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot JaxTo start with the role, it’s pretty much my dream job. The reason I got into sports journalism was that I wanted to talk to athletes about fitness. I wanted to get as fit as them. At Men’s Health, I oversee all the fitness. I do our video. I handle a lot of the editorial copy on the back end. I’ll write something very often. I have a cool story I can’t talk about. That’s the reason I was in California.

You tell me when it comes out and we’ll promote it.

We’ll circle back. We’ll add to this. I also oversee a lot on the business side, like our fitness partnerships. One of my secrets is I had an Accounting degree before I went to Syracuse. I fast-tracked it. When you’re Asian, your parents are like, “You’re going to be an accountant, a doctor or a pianist.” I took piano lessons. I could play but I didn’t like it. Being a doctor was cool but it seemed like a lot of work. The accountant seemed the easy path so I went that way.

I studied Journalism so I didn’t have to take Math.

I have an Accounting degree. I enjoy the business side of things. I’m working on our partnership. I do a lot with that but it’s fun because it is its core. It boils down to helping people get fit and finding new and smart ways. I have a CSCS too. To be able to call BS on the fitness industry, a lot of people are like, “If you do 100 burpees, all of a sudden, you’re going to have abs.” I’m like, “There’s no science there.” I enjoy what I do fundamentally.

You got a cool series that I was looking at called Eb and Swole. I love the name. This is where you’re giving the instruction on the bicep curls. What prompted that series? What’s the goal?

It’s interesting because when you get into what we were talking about the media, with fitness, it is about my opinion and how I interpret the science because everybody interprets it a little bit differently. One of the things I always tried to do when I started at Men’s Health was very much the crazy era on Instagram, where everybody was putting out crazy new exercises. A lot of them are showy and don’t do anything but they make for cool content. The first thing I learned when I got to Men’s Health is the magazine always tries to be useful. We don’t just want to put out a fluffy exercise that looks incredibly cool but isn’t going to help you get fit.

We want to put out movements that make sense and are a little bit eye-catching because people got to be excited about their fitness and are going to be effective. That means for a lot of the general population, it can’t just be a pushup. A lot of the general population came up on fifth-grade gym class pushups, pull-ups and squats. It’s hard and they hate it. I studied fitness. I have a CSCS. I tried to take a lot of what was in that book, which is very dry science and make it fun exercises that will help people get fit. We have biceps curls where you pause halfway through the motion. There’s like a value to that I can then explain to them that makes the curl fun for people and makes it not feel like the kind of thing.

I feel like you and I will probably train anyway but it makes it fun. That’s how the series started. It’s evolved a little bit as we’ve gone from a website and Instagram series to YouTube. Now we try to get a little bit more involved and make it a little more YouTube. You give people tips. It’s become a cool vehicle for me to present people with smart fitness ideas and try to give them something new. The reality is the very basics of fitness don’t change, pushups, pull-ups and squats all work but we try to make them new and exciting and at the same time, make them relevant to people who may not want big biceps but do want to move better and feel better.Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot Jax

I want to ask you about your theory on fitness. We’ve seen an evolution in fitness over the last many years. The fundamentals remain the same like, “Burn more calories than you consume. Move your body in different ways to generate growth.” We’ve gone from this 3 by 10, 3-day cycle chest and tries, back and buys, skip legs, go back to chest and tries. I may have done it a few times but from there, we’ve gone into this conversation about functional fitness. We’ve seen CrossFit redefine so much of the fitness industry. Where do you fall in this spectrum? We’ve seen the rise up, ultras and the savage ray stuff, tough mutters and those athletes, the endurance athletes. Where do you ascribe to in that spectrum?

At a base level, anybody who’s moving is doing something good. We’ve gotten sedentary as a culture, a lot of sitting and driving eighteen hours and not getting a chance to do anything.

Anybody who's moving is doing something good. Share on X

I had to walk around every two and a half hours. I need gas.

We’ve gotten very sedentary as a culture. At a base level, I try not to put too many barriers to entry to fitness because I want people to move. That’s the very lowest bar. If I can get people moving, that’s a good thing. Beyond that, I want to look at this from the lens of longevity and the things that we lose the most that affect us when we’re 75 years old, which wind up being a lack of muscle and a lack of ability to move explosively.

Explosiveness is the ability to be powerful and quick with our muscles and be reactive. If we’re 75, we drop our cane and we’re about to trip, that’s what’s going to keep us from falling. At a base level, I want people to build as much explosiveness and muscle as possible. The research is a little sketchy on this in terms of the actual year that it happens but in general, after age 40, they say you are losing a percentage of muscle mass every year. We’re always fighting that battle.

It’s making me nervous.Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot Jax

You’re fine. You’re in great shape. The two things we want to do are build as much muscle and strength as possible and have that reservoir by which you have so you’re fine.

Thanks, you’re making me feel better.

Have that reservoir of muscle, strength and power, which is that explosive ability. Have that reservoir as much as we can going into our 40s and 50s. A lot of us, hopefully, especially at this event, are going to continue to train and you can maintain those qualities if you continue to train them but you’re still fighting that battle.

Going into that battle, I want people to be as strong, muscular and powerful as they can. How did you get there? There are multiple ways to get there. Almost following the trends a little bit is not bad because, over the course of your training and decades, your training is going to have to evolve. When we’re younger, we can take on a lot more of the functional stuff. We can handle, let’s say, the power clean and the snatches. Your body can take the impact of that at a certain point.

I came up in the bodybuilding gym in The Bronx. That was the first gym I went to when I moved here. A lot of those older bodybuilders pounded their bodies so much that they couldn’t do as much of that. At some point, you do shift towards the more biceps curls and the more isolation exercises. You can still build muscle with that when you’re in your 40s and 50s. That’s fine. When you get a little bit older, you might have to switch to machines.

The goal through it all is to continue to load and train as heavily within reason as you can. Not everybody needs to deadlift 500 pounds but I’m a big believer that we should all be able to because this is the fundamental act we do every day. We all need to be able to pick up our body weight off the ground. That means we should all be able to deadlift our body weight and a little bit more than that.

That’s an interesting perspective. The way you’ve laid that out reminds me of myself and the mental approach that I’ve had, both having success and failure in that where as you age, you have to start thinking, “How do I start tailoring my training? Do I want to come off too much too quickly?” I’ve done that in my progression, whereas as a collegiate athlete, you’re all out. It’s hard out every day. You go in. I spent thirteen years in the special forces. You’re all out but 37 and 36 when I get out, it’s not old. You can still perform at a very high level and in peak condition but then other factors start coming into life.Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot Jax

You have more kids and a job, unlike in the military, where there’s a set portion of the day where I am working out. Things start to affect that and you start cutting in your head like, “Maybe I should do all these things that I was doing before. Maybe I should do yoga, some stretching, run and do body weight.” I did that for a while. I felt okay but I’ve made this return to CrossFit in a lot of ways where I’ve said, “I don’t need to clean and jerk 300 pounds but can I grab the sandbags, do it and still have the explosiveness that you’re talking about, the movement or the flexibility?”

I’m not going to load up my shoulders and back the way that I did when I was in 2021. Talk for a second about that threshold and managing that threshold as a coach and a trainer. What are the inputs that you’re looking at when you have somebody who’s going through this progression to keep them focused on pushing themselves to the limit and not backing off too soon?

Functional fitness is not a bad thing. At some point, bodybuilding got a little bit demonized because it was not functional. Bodybuilders are doing rows, squats and all that stuff too. There’s a certain set of qualities from there that we want to continue to pursue. The implementation is going to change as we get older. That’s what changes but we want to continue to maintain a certain set of functions. I break them down into hinges, which is our deadlift. In squats, we need to be able to move at the knee joint.

I’m going to try to give you my short-form version of this for a lunge or a split squat but something where we’re focused on the knee. Horizontal push, which is our pushup and bench press. We need to be able to push stuff away. We need to be able to put our hands out in front of us so we can grasp our steering wheel. Horizontal pull, which is the most critical idea, is like any of our rows. That is me pulling my wife into her into me to give me a kiss. That’s that idea. We need to be able to reach overhead. If you can do those things for life, you will be okay. The way we do that evolves as we get older.

What you’re always looking for is, “Is this causing me pain?” CrossFit has also evolved. There was a point where in CrossFit, everything had to be the barbell. You had to do these ideas with the barbell. I feel like even they’ve evolved where I see more trap bars and CrossFit gyms. I see more people doing dumbbell presses than barbell presses. The threshold is when you start feeling pain in your joints and when it starts hurting you to the point where you’re not feeling that good burn in the muscle and you don’t want to come back to the gym. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m not necessarily going to say, “Now we’re not going to bench press. We’re not going to horizontal push but I’m going to start to switch the tools.”

Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot JaxWhen we’re younger, we can play in all the tools’ sandboxes. When we’re 25 and we want to clean, that’s great. I don’t do barbell clean much anymore either because they’re violent on my elbow. I also had elbow surgery. I still do that idea. I use kettlebells because they’re a lot more friendly. What happens is as we get older, there’s going to be a progression where we go from that fixed tool, whether it’s a barbell, pull-up bar or whatever it is.

We’re going to go to dumbbells, kettlebells and tools that are going to let our arms move in different ways and to account for the fact that, “I’ve gotten older. I’ve developed some habits in terms of maybe reaching out with my steering wheel all the time with the left arm where. I’ve got a couple of imbalances going on.” The dumbbells and kettlebells are going to allow for that. Even the sandbags are going to allow for that.

I’m going to take down some of the load when I do that as well because I’m working with a unilateral tool. I’m working with something unstable like a sandbag. When I take down that load, I’m then increasing the instability of the tool. That’s how I’m going to make up for it and still get a lot of the functions I need. As I get older, then still, that’s when my joints start to erode. I maybe can’t handle the instability that comes with dumbbells, kettlebells and sandbags.

When I’m in my 60s, 70s and 80s, I want to continue to move. I hope I live that long. I want to continue to move my clients through those patterns. That’s when we’re going to go to the machines that for years upon years were very bodybuilder specific or if I’m tight on time, they weren’t necessarily the thing I was going to do. That’s when I’m going to start to integrate the machines back into training for clients.

I got to put all this into effect. You don’t live that far from me. I’m going to be hitting you out.

Follow those Eb and Swoles.

I thought they were great. I was watching some of them as I was prepared for this. Talk about the mind-muscle connection because that’s another thing that you’ve incorporated into your training programs. Both of those have to work together. Often, we tell ourselves that the mind is stronger and is going to control much of our physical performance and muscles. How do you approach that connection between the mind and the muscle to create effective harmony for an athlete?

This is where I differ a little bit from CrossFit in the functional fitness school. This maybe comes a little bit from the way I came up because I started pushups, gymnastics and stuff like that when I was a kid. When I got very serious about training and moved to New York, it was the bodybuilding gym. My path upward started with moves of a biceps curl. I wanted big biceps. If I couldn’t have legs, back or anything, I wanted big biceps.

Your biceps are the size of my calf. You’ve done a good job on it.

That’s you sucking up but I love it. It makes me feel good. That’s what I wanted. I came up with doing a lot of those isolation motions. What happened then when I got to Men’s Health is I started diving a lot more into CrossFit and all these other modalities, even yoga. In general, the more you can play in those sandboxes, the better. We don’t all have time. That’s why it’s not good to force that on people. The key is building strength. If I have six hours, I’m going to try to do everything. In terms of the mind-muscle connection, what happened when I came to CrossFit is they were telling CrossFit is a lot of point A to point B ideas.

People haven’t built a mind-muscle connection so they don’t understand like, “When I’m doing a clean, I’m essentially pulling the bar back to me. That’s a horizontal row for a split second. If I can understand that and fire off those muscles, 1) I’m going to protect my joints better and, 2) I’m going to get a better workout from a muscle-building standpoint. I’m going to grow more symmetrically.”

Symmetry, in the long term, is critical to our joint health. If I get my chest big, it’s going to pull my shoulders forward. That’s great to have that big bench press and my shoulders are going to hurt all the time. I need my back nice and strong. With the mind and muscle connection, that’s the one thing I would change. I would prefer to start people with bench presses or barbell roses, dumbbell roses and squats with a nice pause at the bottom. If you get 1 to 2 seconds in the bottom position of a lot of those movements, then as you start to drive up, your muscles have to do a lot more work and you start to feel what’s going on.

I need you to feel the muscles that are working before I’m going to progress you more aggressively to these explosive motions because I don’t want you going from point A to point B. I want you to understand which muscles are driving that explosive action. That way, the right muscles are driving it. I believe at a certain level when somebody’s starting, let’s start with a couple of simple isolation exercises. This doesn’t need to be for long. It’s to get them to feel the right muscles and understand what’s working.

That’s another reason why I’m very big into those. You probably see it when I do my biceps curls. I like to pause when my forearms are parallel to the ground. That’s the position of max tension on the biceps. That’s a position that a lot of people cheat on where they start to lean back with their backs or try to rush past the position because that’s the position but that’s a position where your biceps can’t work.

Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot JaxIf we spend 1 or 2 seconds extra in that position, then I can ensure that you feel that in the muscle. When you can feel it and then I can cue it for you, then you’re going to start to develop that mind-muscle connection. You’re going to start to understand what you’re supposed to feel on a bicep curl. I heard it put well by Jordan Shallow. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. He’s @The_Muscle_Doc on Instagram. He said something like, “A lot of exercises are a skill and you have to feel them to be able to do them.”

A lot of exercises are skills, and you have to feel them to do them right. Share on X

A lot of people don’t know how to do a biceps curl or bench press. We try to push them into it too quickly without them feeling the muscles that are working and without explaining that to them. They’re not going to get as much out of it. They’re also going to invite injury. They’re going to be frustrated because if you’re doing a biceps curl, it’s because you want big biceps or strong biceps. When you don’t see that development over a month, you’re going to look at your trainer or whatever program you’re doing. You’re like, “Thanks for nothing,” and then you’re going to quit. That’s not what I want.

What’s next for the industry? We’ve seen the rise and fall of fads. You talk about bodybuilding and weightlifting. At the end of the day, everything is foundationally based on weightlifting and bodybuilding. What do you see next on the horizon for the fitness industry?

Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot JaxWhat’s next for the fitness industry at a fundamental level is what’s come before on some level. I believe it’s a pendulum. It swings between the functional, super-hard fitness ideas that are trafficked by CrossFit. There are two pendulums that swing. One swing is from functional ideas to more bodybuilding ideas and aesthetics. We’re always back and forth on that over the course of decades.

The other pendulum swings from, “Go freaking hard in your workouts. Balls to the wall. You’re going to be in a pool of sweat after every single session” towards, “Love yourself. Let’s not try to kill ourselves.” In the immediate future, those two pendulums are swinging away from CrossFit concepts. We’re seeing more of a push towards aesthetics lately and towards, “Be kind to your body. Don’t kill yourself.”

I don’t think they’re great things because if you go back to what I said at the very start, the way we build muscle and strength is a level of progressive overload. That involves overloading your body and pushing to a level that you haven’t done before. There are smart ways to do that but I’m not sure I’m in favor of like this, “Let’s go easy. Your workout shouldn’t be hard. Zone 2 cardio is everything.” These are valuable.

I am hopeful that we’re going to get to a nice happy place where we’re still going hard in our workouts. Even though I love the aesthetic ideas of going heavy on those fundamental motions I talked about and on that deadlift, those are important. I’m hopeful and working to some extent to help swing those pendulums back toward the center.

As we close out, the Jedburghs had to do three things every day to be successful. They had to be able to shoot, move and communicate. These were their habits, foundations and things that are critically important in health and fitness. If they did these three things with precision, then they could focus their attention on more complex challenges that came their way because they weren’t worried about the basics. What are the three things that you do every day in your life to set the conditions for success?

I make sure to get my workout done. I’m not a, “Seven days go hard and kill yourself every single workout,” but every single day we’re meant as humans to move. I want to pick up something heavy. It doesn’t always need to be my deadlift but it’s going to be something heavy. That’s going to be my first thing. 2) My dad is old. I want to spend a little bit of time talking to him. Relationships are important. I want to spend some time talking to my wife and continuing to foster those relationships, to be honest. Number two is the thing that I am worst at, as my wife will tell you.

Humans are meant to move. Share on X

She can talk to my wife and she’ll tell you the same thing.

The third thing and this is probably the first thing I do because it’s the first thing I do when I wake up, is I want to set a to-do list for that very day. The things I want to accomplish on that day, I write it down. I make sure it’s at least 3 or 4 things. For work, I have to do certain things. I have a lot of obligations for work. I got my fitness stuff, my outside stuff and keep the family happy. I want to make sure I write down the three things that I’m going to accomplish in the day. That way, if everything else, if I miss a meal, a dinner or a phone call, I feel like that’s all going to happen, especially the busier I get. As long as I’ve done the three things I set out to do in the morning, I can feel a level of accomplishment that day. It’s that level of satisfaction before I go to bed.

Men's Health Fitness Director Eb Samuel joins Fran Racioppi from Sandlot JaxI love all three of those. Get the workout in, build the relationships, do better at the relationships that matter and create that to-do list. Those are all critically important. What do you think about this? You go to a lot of festivals.

This one feels different and more accessible. If you look around, you see a lady hanging out of her jeep doing pull-ups. You’ve seen people drop and do burpees. I love events like this because if you’re in an office building and you drop and do burpees, people give you a funny look. I wish more of the world was like this because if you’re here, you can hit those burpees. It’s normal and that’s how we should be. We should spend more time moving like this. Seeing a collection of people working hard and continuing to push through this, I love this and the vibe. I’m so glad to be part of this event in a small way.

You and I both got out of New York. We’re at a Fitness Festival about to work out. You’re going to give a talk. Before you go do that, do you want to coach me in some biceps?

We can do that.

Let’s do it. We’ll make it fast. Five minutes because that’s probably all I have in these little things. Thanks for joining me.

Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

 

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