I recently had the unique privilege of interviewing one of my idols – IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Jeff Willet.
I first became an admirer when I read some interviews with him a few years ago. His philosophy was refreshingly simple – NO gimmicks and best of all, he attained his incredible physique naturally!
Last year I made one of the BEST bodybuilding investments I have ever made when I purchased both his Training DVDs. I also got a signed photo for my trouble (Thanks Jeff 😉 ).
Jeff graciously agreed to answer some questions I had that I thought would be of benefit to all MuscleHack readers.
In this interview, Jeff discusses:
- How many sets you should devote to each body part for maximum growth
- How often you should train each body part
- Why Biomechanicaly Optimized Form is best
- The true distinction between a compound and isolation exercise
- Why sticking to the basic exercises is best
- Staying Natural and the Steroid issue
- His new DVD
You’ll see during the course of the interview where I got a lot of my ideas from.
Mark: Jeff, I’d like to discuss your training philosophy. Firstly, you train each body part with 6-9 sets per workout once a week, as do I. Many times you’ll see guys in the gym for well over an hour hitting the same body part. Why is it important to keep workout duration short and limit the number of sets per body part?
Jeff: When you are training naturally you have to train very smart and one of the main principles to maximizing muscle growth is not over-training. Sticking to a low set volume is one of the key elements to ensure you do not over-train.
Low set volume also leads to shorter duration workouts. This is another tool for avoiding over-training and can lead directly to more intense workouts by increasing one’s ability to focus. For example, it is easier to keep high intensity for 6 sets of chest than trying to maintain the same intensity for 12 sets.
Mark: You’re one of the top proponents of what has been termed, “Biomechanically Optimized Form’. Oftentimes people confuse this with being sloppy. Can you possibly define ‘Optimized Form’ for us and say why you recommend it so highly?
Jeff: Optimized form simply means working with your natural biomechanics while lifting a heavy weight. It does not mean the absence of control or sloppy execution.
I think this is well illustrated if you have the chance to see any of my workout DVD’s.
It is important because if you work with your natural biomechanics you will be able to handle more weight and it is actually safer.
Mark: In your training DVD you refer to some exercises like ‘French Curls’ and ‘Barbell Curls’ as ‘compound’ movements. Most of the bodybuilding world think of movements like these as isolation exercises. Why the distinction, and has this something to do with working with the body’s biomechanics?
Jeff: I would consider barbell curls a compound movement as compared to something like concentration curls or preacher curls because barbell curls are a multi-joint/multi-muscle movement. This makes it a superior bicep exercise because the compound nature of it allows you to handle more weight through a more natural range of motion.
Same is true for French Curls.
Mark: Your DVD recommends only a limited range of different exercises. Do you feel the basic movements are best? Also, is it more important to progressively overload the muscles over time than it is to ‘confuse’ the muscles with new exercises every so often?
Jeff: I absolutely feel basic movements are best for the same reason I feel barbell curls are superior to other bicep exercises. They allow for the use of heavier weights through a more natural range of motion.
I definitely believe it is way more important to progressively overload a muscle over time than any notion of so called “muscle confusion.”
Mark: Now to the topic of drugs. When someone sees your physique, it would be very easy to conclude that you take, or took steroids. I know, as well as many others, that you don’t. Was there a main reason why you decided to stay natural and what words of advice would you have for those of us who want to attain awesome bodies without steroids?
Jeff: I decided long ago that I wanted to be a pro bodybuilder and I also decided that drug free would be the only way I would ever be. I always had belief that I could make it to the top drug free. I am not saying that belief had never been rattled at times when I was younger but thankfully my convictions were strong and my desire to succeed even stronger.
The older I got, the more I took it as a challenge when people would say you can’t win an IFBB pro card and remain drug free. It became my life’s quest to prove them wrong and to prove it to myself that I could do it.
Best advice for those who want to achieve without drugs is make sure you are learning from sources that know how to train naturally. Model your approach after those who have achieved without using drugs. Also pay as much attention to your nutrition as you pay to your workouts. Smart and consistent nutrition is critical.
Finally, the more great days you can string together of great execution, the better your results will be. If you are committed to being a great natural bodybuilder then you must be committed to around the clock attention to every detail.
Jeff: I am very excited about this DVD. It is a documentary about an “average” 42 year old man who also happens to be a film maker. He decided to ask the question, “What does it take to look like the guy in the fitness ads?” In the process, he decides to commit to entering a bodybuilding contest.
I train him throughout the project. I devise his diet, training, posting etc. You get to see everything he goes through as he starts at 204 lbs, 44 inch waist and 30% body fat and ends up at 154 lbs, 27 inch waist and only 6% body fat at the end.
As an interesting side to the story, I was asked to be the guest poser at the contest he entered. This was my last ever appearance onstage. You get to see footage of that and see some of what I reflect on in the weeks leading up to my final appearance.
I think it is a fantastic story that has a very meaningful and valuable conclusion.
Thanks for the great interview, Jeff!
You’ve shared some valuable & accurate information here, AND I know you’ve inspired a lot of MuscleHack readers.
Stay Motivated Everyone!
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