Ripped At 48: Steven Herman Talks With

How did you get started with bodybuilding?

I was a big boxing fan as a teenager. I still am. I remember seeing Ken Norton and thinking “Damn, what I wouldn’t give to have a body like that.” Then it dawned on me that I could get as good a body as I desired if I got off my skinny, 97 pound weakling ass and starting hitting the weights, so I joined the YMCA . It was a genuine “Young man, you can make real your dreams” Moment years before the Village People.

What gets you motivated?

From so many sources. These days my motivation emanates from the process of undergoing the transformation into a fitness professional. I’m putting the finishing touches on a fitness-modeling portfolio; I have an AFPA personal trainer exam scheduled for late this summer then a Health and Wellness certification in the winter. I’m planning on doing a cooking/fitness show on Youtube and public access cable called “Cooking up a great body” with an accompanying website. Consequently, I now approach my training in a professional manner. A professional goes out and gets the job done every time regardless of if they feel like it or not. Also, I feel like I represent guys in my age bracket, so hopefully I can instill the mentality in a few stout and hardy souls that you can put 25 year-olds to shame with a little (okay, a lot of) drive and determination.

I’m not so special, I put on my pants one leg at a time. Anyone can do it. Anyone. All it takes is a smart diet and drive. Obsession is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.

What workout routine has worked best for you?

If you Google “Cybergenics workout 2009” you will find a painstakingly detailed breakdown of my somewhat complicated routine. It is a slight variation of the original Cybergenics workout from way back when. I added a few movements of my own to this. I am a big fan of triple drop sets. You get the best of both worlds with them: Heavy low rep training coupled with high rep training. I usually go 6 reps to failure, drop, 6 reps to failure, drop, and 8 reps to failure. I’m really big on flexing and holding a muscle (isometrics) right after each set for the particular muscle that I’m working. Yes, when I’m holding and squeezing a muscle, flexing, eyes bulging and gritting my teeth, people look at me oddly (I look like a small dog trying to make a big poop) but the benefits I reap as far as muscle hardness make it worth it. Besides, when people see me doing this, they get too scared to ask me for spots, so I can train uninterrupted. I’m also a big believer of the pre-exhaust technique: Doing a single joint exercise to failure and then using the ancillary muscles of a compound movement to push the exhausted muscle past failure.

This would include calf raises to failure followed by hamstring curls. Flies followed by bench press, lateral raises followed by military presses, et cetera.

If you have to pick only 3 exercises, what would they be and why?

Dang. Why three? Let’s make it four. Do I hear four? Going once, going twice… Sold. Four it is. You can have a very kickin’ physique with only four movements–you won’t be Mr. Olympia–but you can have a very respectable “beach body” with these four. Obviously, the squat and the deadlift hit every area of the legs and also the lower back and abs while spurring every muscle in your body into growth mode; and of course the flat bench press. Personally, I prefer to do this movement with dumbbells as a opposed to barbells, as it recruits more muscle fibers to stabilize the weight. This hits the chest, triceps, anterior deltoids, the serratus anterior to some extent and even the wrist. So now we need a movement to hit upper back, biceps, traps and posterior deltoid (this also hits the Brachioradialis); and That would be pulldowns or pull ups. With those four you will hit every muscle in the body and develop great core strength.

Again, It goes without saying that if you want a jaw-dropping, elite physique, those four are only the tip of the iceberg, or, as we Jews like to say, the tip of the Rosenberg, but those four will give you a more than respectable physique.

What is your diet like?

I have a passion for cooking, so pretty much everything is literally on the table with me as long as it stays within these parameters: Low-fat protein source, complex carbs, no sugar, nothing processed or artificial, only organic produce (pesticides aren’t very anabolic), no fast food, and no alcoholic beverages ever: not only are they empty calories, but even small amounts of alcohol have a large impact on fat metabolism. On Friday nights I go out to dinner with my wife and have pretty much whatever I want, my only caveat is that I don’t gorge myself and don’t have dessert. Saturday I have a cheat day where I eat pretty much whatever I want (still no sugar or alcohol); I like to experiment making diet versions of classic, popular dishes which I can eventually use for my “Cooking up a great body” videos. Sunday it’s back to the grind again.

They say that the pre and post-workout meals are the most vital meals for the day, what do yours consist of?

“They” are correct. Especially post-workout. I don’t like to eat solid food before my training as it tends to sit in my stomach and slow me down. I like to “bracket” my workouts, meaning a shake right before the training session and one immediately after. I’ll have a True Protein hydrolyzed whey isolate shake before my workout. True protein lets you customize your shakes, so I have extra vitamins and minerals added to mine, as well as electrolytes for more energy and protease enzyme complex to make the whole shabang more bioavailable. I’ll add a scoop of EnergyFirst’s GreenEnergy powder to this, it increases energy, helps metabolize fat and helps me meet my daily nutritional needs. Post-workout I’ll have a shaker of True Protien in the locker room which I will consume a nanosecond after I’ve finished the last rep of my last set.

When I’m trying to add mass, I’ll include a scoop of waxy maize for an insulin spike post workout. When I’m in maintenance mode or trying to cut, I’ll have a scoop of L-Glutamine instead of the waxy maize.

When trying to cut down do you prefer to use HIIT or just normal cardio?

When I’m cutting I do cardio 5 or 6 times a week and alternate low and slow for an hour with 35 minutes of HIT every other training session. So I do both. No matter how hot is in the gym (the hotter the better, though!) I wear a lot of clothes (sweats) and a baseball cap or a beanie as well as a neoprene belt to help me sweat out subcutaneous water. I look like I jumped into a pool when I’m done. Sometimes my sneakers go squoosh, squoosh when I walk from all the sweat.

What is your supplementation like?

I said in another interview that I’m not big on supplements. What I meant to say was that supplements are not going to give you “Wow! Explosive muscle growth in two days!” (I always laugh at that one) like you read about in the magazines. The only way your muscles are going to grow, explosively or otherwise, is from lifting progressively heavier weights, proper rest and ingesting the right amount of quality protein. That being said, I think if you are over 30 and especially if you are over 40 Dhea and Tribulus will boost your testosterone levels and foster a better metabolic environment for shedding fat and building muscle. Amino acid gel caps and a good multivitamin are the cornerstones of any good supplemental regiment. I’m a big fan of bovine colostrum and desiccated liver tablets, I consume both by the handfuls. Both of them are great for your overall health and vitality, even if you aren’t a bodybuilder.

Coenzyme Q10 is an essential ingredient in the body’s production of energy, so I highly recommend that, and of course fish oil, when it comes to health and nutritional benefits, that stuff is off-the-scales. Scales. Get it?

Favorite Bodybuilders?

Frank Zane and Steve Reeves. They have fantastic, symmetrical, attainable bodies.

Favorite Quote?

There is no easy way.