Today’s post is a great interview I recently did with Sean Hyson. This is the second time I’ve interviewed Sean (once on a previous site I ran) and he is a great guy! The interview has some nuggets of gold that you can take and improve your life right now! Let’s get down to it …
WHO ARE WE TALKING WITH?
Who: Sean Hyson
Where is he normally found: www.seanhyson.com/blog
Why should I care what he has to say: Sean is a huguely successful strength and conditioning guru. He has appeared in numerous magazines and television shows, telling readers how to transform their lives. Currently, he is the Group Training Director for Muscle&Fitness and Men’s Fitness magazines which means he is at the forefront of what you need to know to get into great shape. He runs an excellent blog that covers all fitness releated stuff. On the personal front, Sean is hardworking, always willing to help, masculine and has transformed his life yet continually challenges himself. It is my ‘esteemed’ opinion that Sean is the kind of guy that we all want to be like.
SEAN LAYS IT DOWN
NLG: Hi Sean, great to speak to you again. For those of my readers who aren’t familiar with you, can you please tell us a little about yourself from normal dude to badass trainer and about your transformation from skinny kid to muscular god? What did you learn about yourself and from life?
SH: I was a weak, unathletic kid. Very self-conscious and unconfident, but I always felt guilty if I went a few days without some kind of physical activity. I trained in martial arts as a kid and then got into weight training in college. More than anything I had tried before, lifting seemed to really make a difference in my life. I fell in love with the idea of making progress and being better than I was last year, last month, or last week. I liked seeing that I could make visible progress, and that the more I worked hard, the more progress I could make—what a metaphor for life!
I experimented with all kinds of fitness plans for years with varying degrees of success. In 2010, I was a little overweight and not feeling my best, so I decided to do a 12-week transformation and really show everybody what could be accomplished with focus and hard work. I asked my friend and colleague Jason Ferruggia to write me a plan and I ended up losing 35 pounds while getting significantly stronger. I learned that nothing is as hard as what you concoct it to be in your mind. Most problems in life have simple solutions and just need time to take shape.
NLG: I remember that transformation! It was an epic site and during only 12 weeks it was incrediable! Your currently in great shape today, what are the 3 physical benchmarks that a guy should aim for in your opinion to be classed as a fit guy? (e.g. complete a circuit in a certain time, lift a certain weight or to simply be strong enough to play horsey with your kid etc).
SH: I think this is a very individual question. If CrossFit and the various extreme sports out there have taught us anything, it’s that fitness can be measured in a million different ways. I think you need to decide what top three qualities or skills are most important to you and then work to develop them.
In general though, I’m not especially impressed by a guy who can bench press 800 pounds but can’t tie his shoes without losing his breath any more than I admire a guy who can hold some contorted yoga position but can’t bench his body weight. I think every man should be able to lift 1.5 to 2x his body weight on the main barbell lifts, run a mile in under 8 min., be able to touch his toes and stand on one leg, and be able to hold his own in a variety of sports or activities regardless of whether he’s practiced them. You have to be generally prepared for anything, and that means being strong, mobile, durable, fast, and capable of focusing your mind.
NLG: Great answer! That is where we agree on. I’ve met too many guys with big muscles but they couldn’t do the things they needed to in their life. I always say functional is better than size all day with regard to muscle!
You’re an extremely busy guy, training hard, running a mega successful blog and so on – how do you manage to do so much? What do you do to cope with the stress?
SH: I think training is the main thing. Some of the busiest and most successful guys in our industry say that no matter what madness is going on around them, they always make time to train because it’s the only thing that allows them to handle all the rest. When I get extra stressed, I know that means I need to do something physical. I’ve always felt this way. If I had a test to take in school that I was nervous about, I found that if I played outside or went to Tae Kwon Do class the night before, I felt a lot better about taking it. Going to the gym and getting a pump or simply beating your performance from last week has a huge affect on the ego, and when the ego is happy, you’re happy. Haha.
As for specific management strategies, the adage “take it one thing at a time” is great. No matter how much you may seem to have to juggle simultaneously, no two things ever happen at the exact same time. One can always take priority over another, so assign those priorities accordingly and get busy knocking them down.
NLG: Great advice, I find even just 10 press ups in a burst can kill any stress or anxiety you were feeling. If you were to talk to all of mankind at once, what would you say (feel free to plug a product here) – what motivation or telling off would you say?
SH: I’d say that people need to be more disciplined. I hate to rag on my generation, but I think we’re candy asses compared to the generations that came before us. So many of us don’t read (much), don’t exercise, don’t cook, don’t know what it’s like to really work for something and achieve it one step at a time. Technology and media have destroyed our attention spans and made us obsess over Kim Kardashian’s dress when we should be thinking about tasks at hand. You can blame the world and tell yourself it’s hopeless, but at some point you need to take responsibility, slap yourself in the face, and decide you’re going to get yourself together. You need the self-control to avoid distractions and stay with something even when it hurts if you’re going to accomplish anything.
NLG: Sorry, what did you say? I was looking at the squirrel over there! Lol. Unfortunately we have created a genereation who expect instant results and have forgotten what hard work is anymore. Success can be obtained but like you said, it needs to be got by working your ass off at one thing at a time and you’ll get there in the end.
Now you have my readers attention, your site is full of epic content - What do you consider your three best videos/articles that a newbie should start with?
SH: I really believe this post covers all you need to stay active and meet your goals.
This is one of my most popular posts, talking about two of the hottest diet movements out there.
I think the title, “The Post No One Wants to Read” is apt, but it still needs to be read.
NLG: Some great choices there. The last one is particularly striking to read! You recently hit an amazing 500 LB deadlift – what advice can you give to someone who wants to push themselves past their limits and to life that sort of weight? What do you think holds them back from doing so?
SH: As I discuss in the post I linked to above, it’s mainly about being in a good training environment. You need to be surrounded by friends or just like-minded people who create an atmosphere of focus and hard work. There are very, very few people lifting heavy weights in health clubs where they have wax palm trees in the corner and Britney Spears music playing on the radio. I think you can ignore good programming, technique, nutrition, and a lot of other major fundamentals and still make super progress by simply training in a place you want to be.
NLG: When I read that article, it really struck a chord with me as I had struggled in the more commercial gyms with all their pop and non essential stuff flooding the workout area. I only really saw an increase in my strength (and gym attendance) when I found a gym close to my work and where you could get in, workout and get out without having the personal trainers selling to you or dodgy music being played (the beauty of an ipod!).
What do you think it is to be a man nowadays? Do you think we have lost what it takes to be a man? What defines being a man and what should they aspire to be like? What are the virtues that they should adopt?
SH: I think being a man boils down to doing the right thing when you’ve convinced yourself you have every reason not to. I guess the same could apply to women but this an expectation that has been heaped more so on men. It includes everything from sticking by people you love to getting up on a cold morning to train when your bed feels like paradise. Real men have the guts and the drive to do difficult things because they need to be done, and not because there’s a reward, or because someone was watching and judging them. Virtues that help us be this way are confidence, courage, and a sincere love of whatever matters to you in life. Those first two qualities can be developed with practice, but the third one must be found.
NLG: A great answer. A real man does the right thing, regardless if someone is watching or not. On the flip side though what does a man need to avoid to succeed? What holds men back from becoming a successful man in their own life – how can they overcome this?
SH: Men need to avoid the trap of too much pleasure. This is the hardest thing in life, because we’re hardwired to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. But when you think about it, so many of our problems stem from being lazy and blowing off responsibility in favor of quick fixes that suit us at the moment. The REAL reason you’re not making the money you want, or dating the woman you want, or sporting the body you want is because you come home at night after work and watch TV for three hours. You go out for a few beers when you should be prepping meals for the next day. You screw around on Youtube when you could be reading a book that would open your mind. Hey, I’m as guilty as anyone of falling into these traps, but at least I’m honest about it and I recognize when I’m wasting time and when I’m being productive. You can have a life and indulge, but I’m a firm believer in business before pleasure.
NLG: That’s the most honest answer I’ve seen yet! We all know the things that we need to do and the things we shouldn’t if we want to succeed but it’s amazing the excuses we can make to justify our bad behaviours.
To make it easier for my readers who are wanting to change – Can you tell me any tips for life or business that you have found that shouldn’t work but do, the ones that sound so stupid and absurd that go against what people traditionally think works but it gets results (e.g. ignoring a girl makes her work harder to get you)
SH: It’s a big cliche, but I’ve recently learned for myself that it’s very true: be your own man. It’s unbelievably difficult to go one way when you’re pressured to go another, but it’s the only way you’ll really be happy. Sometimes, you’ll have a path in life set out for you to follow that makes perfect sense, but you just know it’s not what you want to do. Maybe it leads to an easier life, but it’s STILL not what you want. You have to be man enough to politely decline and keep looking.
NLG: Thanks for your time Sean. There was some great answers there and I’m sure it has greatly benefited anyone trying to reach the Next Level.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
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