Men’s Health Abs Model Max Wettstein Conversation Part 1
I’ve got an AWESOME interview for you to kick off the weekend (especially if your goal is to get LEANER, more MUSCULAR, and get a fitness model’s physique)…
I recently sat down with my good buddy & Men’s Health Abs model Max Wettstein…have you heard of this dude?
You have probably seen him on Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, & Maximum Fitness magazine covers. Plus he was on the cover of the Men’s Health Ultimate Abs Guide last year.
Anyways, I always wondered if he was the real deal, until I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him a short while ago…
…and let me be the first one to say, Max isn’t one of those boy band, pretty boy, don’t know how to train fitness model types. This dude knows his stuff and his warrior style workouts prove his toughness.
Plus the guy is an athlete and that is always cool in my book!
Both Max and I have similar training philosophies when it comes to stripping off stubborn fat and building lean muscle, so it was cool to hear some of his training tricks and dietary strategies. You will DEFINITELY learn something here today.
…the only question is, “How are you going to lose YOUR body fat & build MORE muscle this year…will you APPLY what you learn here”?
This is only PART 1 of our conversation (be sure to read to the bottom for something cool)
Jamin: Max, you are one of the most sought after fitness models in the industry. Tell us, what is a typical day like in the life of Max Wettstein?
Max: A typical day for me could involve a flight assignment by JetBlue Airways to anywhere in the country since I’m a Captain for them; or an all day modeling job up in L.A. on location or in the studio for a fitness infomercial or for a print cover-try; or writing & consulting for several fitness & health blogs; or producing my own fitness videos for my YouTube channel; or coaching my daughter in surfing & skateboarding.
But even with all these possibilities, you can bet I will fit in my workout too!
Jamin: Sounds like the life bro! So how did you get started in fitness modeling?
Max: I got started in fitness modeling first with RoadRunner Sports based right here in San Diego back in 2000. In 2001 I met Mike Lyons who is now with Silver Models & flew out to NYC to his agency at the time to meet Men’s Health & Men’s Fitness magazine staff at their headquarters, among several other clients.
They liked me immediately & I booked my first shoot for Men’s Health magazine 2 days later. In 2004 I shot my first cover with Men’s Fitness magazine, & shortly after I shot my first international cover with Men’s Health magazine. That really launched my career as a fitness model.
Jamin: That’s good stuff dude. Now, you have been in the industry for almost a decade now and have been on Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, & Maximum Fitness covers. Plus you were the cover of the Men’s Health Ultimate Abs Guide last year. A solid resume I’d say!
Here’s the thing though…many people out there notice some bodybuilders and fitness models hitting the weights for two hours a day and then doing an hour of cardio to get/stay in shape. Some of them even hit up the gym twice a day. This leads many people to believe that you need to practically live in the gym to get a world class body, but we both know that is completely false. What are your thoughts on this?
Max: I am NOT a ‘gym-rat’! Admittedly I used to be coming off of HS & College sports & it helped me attain my initial quality muscle-mass, hitting the free-weights very hard & consistently. Now, I prefer playing my favorite sports, first & foremost, such as surfing, beach-volleyball, skateboarding, & snow-skiing. I also trail-run, slackline & do yoga.
I still hit the gym for weights at least twice per week for hour long sessions for upper-body & legs respectively. Sometimes I do gym training more if the weather is bad or I’m on an airline trip, or I really need to tone up for a big cover-try or something. But even then, I have a set of hand-me-down weights in my garage that I use, and I do a lot of Olympic-style lifting in my backyard in the sun, pulling the barbell from the ground.
I do a lot of isometric flexing & posing starting 3 days out from a shoot as well, to tone up. Now when I lift weights, I tend to go lower-weight & higher-reps, going for maximum pump & squeeze hard at the peak of the contraction. I believe in full-body, functional training, first & foremost! The gym is almost a time for physical therapy for me, to keep me functioning optimally for the sports I love!
Jamin: That’s awesome, I hear you! That definitely keeps it more interesting. Ok so most people know me as the ‘anti long boring cardio dude’ and I couldn’t help but get stoked when I saw the video of you and your wife Donna doing HITT on the Swami Stairs down in Encinitas. That was good stuff man!
There is no way anyone could get their heart rate as high as you did doing regular slow cardio on a treadmill. I think it was around 100 or something? Why do you think interval training works so well to burn stubborn fat?
Max: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) works so well to burn fat, because it has the greatest exercise VALUE (results/time). Initially your burning mostly carbs/glycogen for fuel vice fat, but in the end you achieve a greater EPOC-effect (post-workout metabolism boost due to oxygen-debt & recovery), so your metabolism stays elevated for up to 12 hours afterwards.
Also, HIIT training triggers a Growth Hormone release (the body’s most powerful lean-body mass hormone), that slow-cardio does NOT. This is directly due to the lactic-acid accumulation within the muscles that occurs only during very high-intensity cardio training.
Jamin: A lot of people are scared to try interval training because they think it is too hard, or just for athletes. Would you mind sharing some of your best tips for HIIT/interval training?
Max: Interval training is most accurately, effectively & SAFELY accomplished by using a Heart Rate monitor, so you can verify & validate exactly where you stand with regard to your intensity level. Basically it’s a 1:3 ratio: A 1 minute working interval where you attain at least 85% of your Max heart rate, followed by a 2 to 3 minute recovery interval, where your HR drops back down to 70% or below.
Repeat about 10 cycles or for at least 20 minutes following your warm-up. Because the intensity level is based on your OWN fitness & conditioning, nothing is preventing you from taking the working interval to 100% of YOUR relative maximum heart rate depending on how you’re feeling that day.
The more you’re willing to push it, the more effective your workout will be and the greater post-EPOC results. As with prior to beginning ANY new exercise strategy, you should get a physical done to make sure you’re in good health.
Jamin: Good point. But of course there will be doubters who probably want to know if there are any downsides to doing interval training over the long term. Do you think people should mix in other types of cardio along with HIIT/interval training or is HIIT/interval training their best bet?
Max: I see no downside to HIIT/interval training over the long term. Your body never ‘adapts’ so to speak because as your fitness improves you will simply just find a steeper or longer hill, or run up it instead of walk up it – whatever it takes to achieve your maximum heart rate!
Though you don’t have to always perform it to 100% maximum, which is at best a rough estimate anyway based on 220 minus your age, unless you’ve been to a training lab to have your VO2 Max tested.
Obviously HIIT training will NOT prepare you for any endurance type of performance or events. To prepare for a half-marathon for example, you will then have to incorporate some longer runs and put in your time.
Jamin: I am sure there are rookies out there who are wondering if HIIT/interval training is for them, or even some women who may think it is just for guys. What do you think the difference is between an advanced versus a beginner interval training program…and should guys and gals use different workouts for interval training?
Max: There is NO difference between beginner & advanced interval training. Why? Because it’s ALWAYS based on your OWN relative maximum heart rate! That’s why it’s key that the exerciser wear a HR monitor! Some will initially have to walk up the same hill that you may be able to run up, but bottom line they’re both still achieving 90% of their own Max HR during the working portion of the interval!
Jamin: You are really into the “gym-less” or warrior type workouts, and I saw you doing a few workouts with nothing but a beer keg and a rock. I would say you have probably reached warrior status ha. What are some of your favorite ways to train outside of the gym? Should a rookie even attempt this sort of workout?
Max: Warrior/Bootcamp/CrossFit-type of gym-less workouts are all seriously popular right now. This is for many reasons. Mostly because you’re doing it with a group of people & having more fun than you would doing conventional exercises. Also here in San Diego we have great weather and these type of workouts allow for outdoor training. Also there is very little equipment required.
Its good thing for everyone to know how to train using only their own bodyweight or to be able to use whatever happens to be available. Lastly, this type of training emphasizes full-body, functional, core fitness – USEFUL fitness! Since I travel a lot, I constantly have to think outside the box to train on the road.
All this being said, I still have my staple, free-weight, traditional exercises that I will always do almost weekly, such as pull-ups, several presses, squats, & many dumbbell exercises.
Jamin: Back in college I got my first taste of “warrior” style workouts and have been hooked ever since. That was some of the toughest training I have ever done. And it WORKS!
Ok…now we both know that there are a bunch of gimmicks and scams out there but what do you think is the worst thing someone can do if they want to lose belly fat?
Max: As a fit-model who has appeared in over a dozen ‘As seen on TV!’ infomercials I agree!…there are lots of gimmicks out there! The biggest fallacy is thinking there is any one supplement or pill that will directly target belly-fat. The other common misconception is that you CAN ‘spot-reduce’ fat: This is 99% false.
Full-body functional, intense exercise is by far the best manner of exercising to lower body-fat% and target internal belly-fat: Growth Hormone helps block Cortisol & is a powerful lean-body mass improving hormone and it is secreted during INTENSE exercise and your Deep-sleep phase.
Jamin: Where do you think most guys and gals go wrong when it comes to training their abs?
Max: As stated above, and it’s almost cliché now, doing tons of ab-specific exercises or having a dedicated ‘Abs-Day’, is the most common mistake. While there is nothing unhealthy about this strategy which is still exercising at least, it is unnecessary and a bit of waste of time! You’d be better off doing intervals of sprints or hill-repeats!
Train hard and achieve success,
PS – We will be back tomorrow with PART 2 of my conversation with Max so be sure to check back then because you won’t want to miss it. I’ve saved the best part for last
In the meantime, feel free to check Max out on his website www.MaxWettsteinFitness.com