If you want results, you do the work. If you want to be one of the fittest men on the planet your whole life, you follow Danny Hester’s lead!
By the Editors
There are a lot of misconceptions about the world of bodybuilding. There are an even larger number of half-truths about muscle building in general. The one singular truth about both is that if you want results, you have to cut away all the distractions and every single excuse or you simply won’t get any of the results you covet. And that’s exactly why so many people flock to the gym: They desire the result. But they generally don’t have the drive to reach it. Sure, everyone can put in a lot of effort on a few occasions, but consistency is the only way to take your hyper-focused goals of looking and feeling your best and achieving those results. Want proof? Take one look at Danny Hester. He’s cut away all the distractions and set aside all the excuses and made a lifestyle out of being one of the fittest and most muscular men on the planet and the first ever Mr. Olympia Classic Physique champion.
But building muscle wasn’t the only driver for Hester or, indeed, most other very successful men and women who make the gym their playground. In fact, the gym becomes the backbone of all the endeavors outside of it. Ask anyone as fit and muscular as this issue’s cover guy how they succeeded in life and they’ll tell you that they put their time in the gym and apply that same focused determination to achieve those results in everything they do outside of it. Danny Hester is no exception to this. Just like any other big name that came out of bodybuilding or simply out of the gym, you can go so much farther in life if you take the necessary principles of the workout and make them your core mantra to life.
Is achieving greatness really as simple as just following the same approach to life as you do to working out? It can be, but one vital ingredient is missing for truly exceptional results in life. What is that element you’re probably lacking? Simple: You have to get past the hype within yourself, forget the noise all around you and never let yourself get off course. No nonsense in the gym means no BS in life. That’s how you’ll get a great body, build a great life and be your best. But don’t just take our word for it. Here are the straight-up, unfiltered and laser-focused musings of this issue’s cover guy, Danny Hester, to help guide you along the path to success in and out of the weight room.
IRON MAN: What’s your workout like each day?
Danny Hester: I get in two workouts a day – and actually on the same body part. I feel I get a lot more gains that way. Rather than try to put it all into one workout where it all drains you, I leave a little bit in the tank and then the tank kind of gets filled back up and I hit it hard again. That’s only for priority muscles. My stronger muscle areas I don’t train as much because for me it’s all about the overall balance. Sometimes I hit a strong body part maybe once every two weeks or once a week and the weaker body part sometimes twice a day.
IM: What are those workouts like?
DH: I always start off with high reps in medium weight just to see how my body is responding to it. Sometimes I’m getting a really good pump, [but] it’s mainly just to get the ligaments in the joints and the muscles to get the blood flowing and get that connection. I don’t necessarily go heavy anymore. I go for the burn and the pump. I try different angles.
IM: Any particular tricks that you think our readers should be aware of?
DH: If I’m training shoulders, there’s no need for me to do front shoulder presses anymore because my front shoulders are already pretty strong. I’ll isolate the middle and rear delt movements until they’re really exhausted before I do anything for the front delts. A lot of people tend to focus on their strengths first rather than the things they don’t feel strong with. You need to focus on areas that you’re not strong in.
IM: What are your goals like in the gym these days?
DH: I don’t want the circumference to get bigger. I want to change the shape of the muscle. I want to accentuate the symmetry in the balance.
IM: What do you do in the gym that you think might shock some of our readers?
DH: I don’t really even do full reps. Your strength curve is usually not as strong in the beginning as it is in the middle of a rep. If you’re doing a curl, it’s the hardest at the bottom but almost midway to 3/4 of the way up, that’s where you’re the strongest.
IM: A lot of people are pushing the idea of always lifting heavy. What’s your take on this?
DH: When guys try to do super heavy weight on full range of motion, that’s usually where they get injured. If I go heavier, I have to decrease my range of motion. I just want to stimulate the muscles so I’ll do partial reps right in that sweet spot and do partial reps in there rather than try to do a lighter weight so I can do the full range of motion. My workload in a week in the gym is a lot more than most. It’s just not done all at one time. I just did arms three times in one day. The overall workload is way more than someone who did one hour really hard.
IM: What’s your diet like?
DH: Low carbs. Very high fats. Especially as you get older, you have to eat more fats. I have a cheat meal whenever I want. I base it on my condition at the time. I like pizza [or] anything with chocolate.
IM: You’re coming off a huge win as the first ever Mr. Olympia Classic Physique champion. How do you see the industry as it is today?
DH: Size, conditioning and symmetry are supposed to be equal. It’s sad because I think symmetry is last on the list. If you have the size and the conditioning, you’re probably going to win even if you have terrible symmetry and aren’t really balanced – especially opposed to a guy who has the symmetry and conditioning but not necessarily the size. Hopefully it’s starting to change a little bit and people are starting to appreciate it a little more. This approach of keeping the athletes in the freak category is dangerous for the athletes’ overall health. When you get a guy who is 5’9″ and weighs about 270 pounds, I don’t think there’s a lot of symmetry there. I don’t care if it’s muscle or fat, if you’re off the charts on the obesity scale, that’s not healthy.
IM: What’s your take on the old saying ‘No pain, no gain?’
DH: If you feel [a] little twitch here and there when you’re young, and you’re going heavy, it might seem like it went away, but it never really goes away. It always comes back to haunt you later. To get that one lift? I don’t understand what the point is. It’s going to catch up to you, especially if you’re not consistent. It’s risk versus reward.
IM: So you’re not pushing around super heavy weight anymore?
DH: I stopped bench pressing heavy quite a while ago when I saw each one of my friends tear their chest with a straight bar bench. I don’t want to be the next victim, so [I figured to] stop doing it or go really light.
IM: There can’t be anyone who looks at you and doesn’t figure you can lift a lot anyway, right?
DH: When you’re on stage, nobody cares how much you lift. It’s how you perform. You’ve got to protect yourself. You’re a product and you want to have a long shelf life that’s for sure.
IM: What’s your best advice for anyone aspiring to get into the business?
DH: Stick to the basics. Eat properly. Do your cardio. [Cardio] seems like it’s not a benefit, but it really is mentally and physically. The cardio really gives your body that cleanse. Consistency is more important than anything. If you’re a regular guy, just go to the gym just do it. Do 10 minutes of cardio and then gradually keep raising the effort. When you don’t feel like training, just do something small, just to get in there. Tomorrow’s another day, you can do more tomorrow. But do something every day.
IM: What’s one thing you wish people knew about training right?
DH: Last night I trained my legs and all I did for the whole workout was one exercise. I was there for an hour and a half doing just one exercise! I didn’t feel it anywhere else except the area that I wanted to feel it so I kept going. I stopped when I wasn’t feeling that burn anymore. You don’t have to get on another machine because you’ve already done four sets. If you don’t feel it on an exercise, there’s no need to stay there.
IM: You’re 48 and at the top of your game. Is it time to slow down and pick your spots or will you stay living this lifestyle every day?
DH: People might perceive me as not training hard and intense in a workout, but I am consistent and living the lifestyle 24/7. I’ve always trained instinctively, meaning not a set routine. I train what I think needs to be prioritized to keep the balance and symmetry. For me, bodybuilding is a never-ending quest to perfection, which is never going to happen.
LIKES: Animals, competing, music and dance
DISLIKES: Bullies, animal cruelty, abuse of authority, people that aren’t humble or that show humility, defeatists/pessimists
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: Spain
FAVORITE EXERCISE: Rows
LISTENS TO: EDM, epic movie soundtracks
FAVORITE MOVIE: The Last Samurai
FAVORITE QUOTE: “Be the change that you want to see happen in the world.” –Gandhi
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