My trip to the 2017 FIBO Expo in Cologne, Germany was full of firsts. It was my first time in Europe and it was my first international expo. Germany was very clean, the people were nice, and the food was great. I soak in every moment of every trip I get to do with Animal because it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was looking up to all of the Animal athletes and wondering what it would be like to go to expos and trade shows. It was exciting to realize that I have fans around the world—people thousands of miles away from Long Island, New York knew everything about me, including details about my job and my basement gym—which motivated me to keep growing as “MASS” and to continue to represent Animal with pride.
It was also my first time training with Roman Fritz. Let me tell you, training with a respected IFBB pro bodybuilder is a world of difference from training with your local gym buddy. Although I've trained with a few pros before, Roman is really in a league of his own. I had heard that Roman was very serious and extremely fierce when it came to his training. He knew how to bring the pain. Even other IFBB pros have said Roman is one of the most intense guys they’ve ever met. And best (worst) of all, I’d be training on Roman’s home turf in Germany. Thinking back, I was definitely a little nervous the night before our training session. But as long as the first workout wasn't legs, I wasn't going to worry—too much. If the first few sets were the real deal, I had better suck it up because there's no way Roman was going to let me back out…not that I ever would.
Roman and I took the local bus to "Simply Fit" Gym in Cologne. I was anticipating that we’d train shoulders and some chest, but Roman had different plans. Upon arriving at the gym, Roman told me we'd train chest, back, and calves instead–and finish off with shoulders later that same night. I knew that no matter what we trained, I would do my best to push through that workout. It isn't every day you get to train with a pro bodybuilder with a reputation for intense and brutal training that precedes him. Because I was still jet-lagged and because I knew I needed to dig extra deep today, I took some Animal Rage. I alternate between Animal Fury with Rage for 3 months at a time, then go without a pre-workout for 1 month to ensure my tolerance isn't shot.
Starting off, we warmed up with 5 sets of pull downs and 5 sets of calves. From there we went to 120 incline presses with no warm-up. We did 10 sets: 5 of those sets with 10 reps, 5 sets with 6 reps. Considering my chest was still sore from my prior workout, I had to mentally push past the pain I was experiencing. Following the 10 sets from hell, we moved on to the cable flyes, super-setting with low weight, high volume bench. At this point, I remember thinking (maybe hoping) the workout was nearly over. I was very wrong.
Roman had the saved the best for last. He took me through one of his favorite chest exercises: the dumbbell pullover. Not only does it effectively work out your chest and back, it also improves your flexibility. The important thing to keep in mind with the dumbbell pullover is having your head and waist below the bench, take deep breaths with the stretch, and keep focused. It helps to have a pro push you through that last rep, but not wanting the dumbbell to knock out all of your teeth should be motivating enough.
Training with Roman was a real eye-opener. You can’t mess around if you want to be a pro bodybuilder. You have to have to have intensity in eating and training, which I am now applying to my own bodybuilding journey. I knew that I was training hard, but I learned that I could absolutely push it much more. Roman's philosophy is to train two or three body parts per workout twice daily. For me, with my life and my full-time job and everything else going on, I just don't have that kind of time. So for the 2 hours I have to train, I make those the 2 most intense hours out of the 24 that I have. Now that I’m back home, I’ve adjusted my workouts by taking fewer breaks in between sets, focusing more on the squeeze, and doing more concentrated reps. Even though he told me he was “very impressed” with my eating, I also learned from Roman how to really pound down even more quality food.
It was a huge honor to train with Roman Fritz. It’s an all-time high to be able to train with an experienced IFBB Pro, especially one that I look up to, and where we can push each other. I live for training sessions like this—when Roman screams at you, it can motivate the undead. So what does it take to improve? I traveled half way around the world for the answer: you have to chase the pain and when you catch it, you have to push past it. Improvement happens in the extra reps, the extra set you didn't think you could make. It never comes in the early reps and the warmup sets. Though the trip to Germany was full of firsts, I know this will not be the last time I train with the kind of intensity I experienced in Cologne. Hopefully, I’ll be able to return the favor one day and train Roman here in Long Island. We’ll see.
Warm up sets as necessary. Only working sets listed.
5 supersets of 10-15 reps:
Close Grip lat pulldowns + seated calves
Same weight on all sets (after warm ups).
Rest/pause if necessary.
10 sets incline dumbbell presses:
Use same pair of bells on every set, no matter how low your reps might drop towards the end.
First set should fail at around 15 reps max.
5 supersets of 10-20 reps:
Cable flyes + flat barbell press
Have to get 20 reps on flyes.
Rest/pause if necessary.
Flat press to positive failure only.
Focus on maximum squeeze on both exercises.
5 sets dumbbell pullovers:
12 reps per set. Same weight on all sets.
Little body English or rest/pause might be necessary towards the final sets.
Think “stretch and squeeze” during every rep.
5 sets of body weight dips to failure.
No special gimmicks. Just get every last bit of contractile ability out of your pecs.
• 4 packs of Animal Nitro
• 10g glutamine powder
• 1 scoop Animal Juiced Aminos
• 5g creatine monohydrate
• 30-50g Universal Carbo Plus