Muscle & Strength Interviews Diced Up Trainer Joe Daniels

Joe Daniels
Quick Stats
  • Joe Daniels
  • Northern KY, Cincinnati
  • 30
  • 5’8”
  • Bodybuilding and soon Kettlebell
  • Several 1st place NPC finishes & Overall Win @ Cincinnati NPC championships 09
  • 165 lbs
  • 185-195 lbs
  • 7
  • Team Scivation
Joe is a Team Scivation sponsored athlete, a champion natural bodybuilder, a personal trainer and a huge proponent of kettlebell training.

What do you love most about bodybuilding and kettlebell?

What I love most about bodybuilding and kettlebell (girevoy) sport lifting is that I can rely on no one but myself to get it done. It is a mental challenge almost more than a physical one and it helps you to organize your life to maintain a high level of consistency. Bodybuilding has taken me from a person who was very selfish and didn't care about his body to a person who is very selfless and loves to see and coach others to succeed.

What keeps you motivated?

Seeing the changes in my body and getting stronger and more endurance keeps me moving. Life is too precious to waste and if you don't use your body you will lose it in some fashion. Last year my younger brother had a brain tumor removed a week before I competed in Junior Nationals.  He came out of it in good spirits and has been improving ever since.  You never know when something can strike you. If he was strong enough to not give up, I can push harder. He made me very proud working with something that really robbed him of some of his young life.

Joe Daniels balancing on 2 kettlebells.What does your current training and split look like, and what do you like most about it?

I change my training as I see fit, when I get bored or just don't feel well. I've never stayed on something just because I planned it for 12 weeks. My body always changes before that. I go by feeling. Most of my stuff is kept up with on my website and I like to tell people what I do week to week.

As of Right now I do Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 3-5 sets of 5 of a full body heavy barbell training supplemented with kettlebells. Currently  doing barbell cleans, heavy fat-grip dumbbell incline presses, rack pullups/chins for lats, and squats. Two days of the week, since I own Swing This Kettlebell Studio, I do long duration kettlebell snatches, up to 20 minutes 2 -4 minutes each arm. And double kettlebell jerks in the same fashion. I also do multiple kettlebell exercises daily showing clients as kettlebells are what I train clients with. I'm really big into joint mobility and flexibility to keep safe to lift heavy and often.

Here is my Daniels Fitness Training LLC philosophy:

SIMPLE, SAFE, SOUND. That's how everything should start. Whether your a newbie or a seasoned vet, simple before advanced, safe is better than hurt, and sound programming will take you to your goal(s). At Daniels Fitness Training we employ these principle to everyone we coach.  We also believe that your training should resemble what you are going to be doing in your life. A middle aged woman who’s never been in a gym before should probably not start training like a bodybuilder or MMA fighter. It just doesn't fit the picture. Unless she wants to keep up with her cage fighting teens, balance, flexibility and functional strength movement patterns are more of what she should be doing.

Daniels Fitness Training does not believe in the “No pain No, gain” mentality. There is a definite difference between muscle soreness from use/muscle fatigue and a torn rotator cuff or bicep tendon. Until you are highly aware of your body and its limitations/capabilities we highly suggest you do not subscribe to this train of thought. It's better to recuperate and  train again sooner than to all out destroy your body in one session. It can only handle so much stress at a time before it starts to break down. Recuperation brings us to tension release techniques, nutrition and sleep.

Whether it be massage therapy, trigger point work, stretching or foam rolling, DO IT. It may not seem like much but it's worth not developing tight muscles that affect how your body naturally needs to move leading to compensations. Believe it or not you can have ongoing headaches from having tight muscles in your back and neck.

“Exercise + (proper(sleep*food) = MUSCLE GROWTH or FAT LOSS...or more importantly: YOUR GOAL”

Joe Daniels

Do you supplement your weight training and cardio with any other physical activities?

I use kettlebells for daily and include battling ropes with them for my cardio. Massage therapy/stretching and foam rolling is used/recommended in all my programs. I love to mountain bike and will do it up to two and three times per week during the season. This allows me to keep carb intake higher!

I use heavy kettlebells in every client's bodybuilding and figure training programs not just supplemental but as main exercises. Trust me, your shoulder will get larger when you can do a Turkish get up and one arm snatch with a 106lb kettlebell... I have written many unconventional programs from varying high level athletes who are bored with the old school approach of bodybuilding. Many of these exercises you may find on my Youtube site.

What are the most underrated and overrated muscle building exercises?

The most underrated exercise I believe is the heavy barbell clean. It builds explosive strength and muscle all over. It can make the deadlift and squat stronger. That and the Turkish Get Up with a kettlebell or dumbbell. This will get the hip and shoulder joints stronger and more flexible along with strengthening the torso/core. This exercise will increase strength and ability of any other exercise you do.

OVERRATED exercise... I think, and don't get all mad at me yet... but I think it's the leg extension. I see way too many people getting quads super strong without the same strength to balance in the hamstrings. Therefore the knee joint gets unbalanced. It's an open chain exercise. I like closed chain exercises such as what I call the somersault squat for quads since it is a closed chain and keeps your hamstrings active on the knee.

Joe Daniels Explains The Somersault Squat

What are your best tips for getting ripped and shredded abs?

Ripped abs come from low body fat levels. Hands down I like a lot of functional ab exercises hence why I use kettlebells a lot. Have you ever seen a gymnast's abs? Or a divers? Crazy stuff there. But all in all it comes from a good nutrition program to get your abs VISIBLE.

What advanced training techniques work well for you?

I've tried rest pause a lot but I don't get stuck doing it all the time. I really like doing slow negatives as I've seen studies that show increased hypertrophy and increased insulin sensitivity. Who wouldn't want that? Also slow negatives make me more sore than anything. I think it really tears up the muscle fibers. Couple that with some good stretching and foam rolling/myofascial release and massage and you have room for your muscle tissue to grow.

Bodybuilder Joe DanielsWhat does your post-workout nutrition and supplementation look like?

Pretty much every one wants to know this. For my last competitions, including going to Junior Nnationals in 09, I used venison or lean beef, with white or sweet potatoes. Anyone can get high carbs in post-workout when the glycogen and blood glucose is low but the potatoes are  VERY high in potassium that help pull water into the muscle cell.

A high BCAAs drink such as Xtend is important for the anabolic boost it provides. I would also try to decrease cortisol after the heavy training using RELORA and HOLY BASIL (herbals) Bodybuilders are usually way too influenced by stimulants and caffeine that wreck the adrenal glands. These herbal products remedy that adrenal stress.

What does your cutting (eating) plan look like?

I usually use my good friend Jason Theobald of to help guide me into the contest. It's always good to have another eye. It's hard to see the changes in yourself when you look at the mirror every day. We usually cut with 6 meals per day, 40 grams protein, 40 carbs and 20 fat seems to work well for me when I keep cardio in.

I'm meso/ecto so I'm pretty efficient with calories. When I was lighter I'd say I started dieting around 2800-3000 calories. This kept carbs near the 250-300 gram per day range. As we'd go further, say near 200 carbs, I'd feel super flat and perhaps every 5-7 day I would have a higher carb refeed day. Around 500 grams carbs to stoke the metabolism, get glycogen stores up and leptin talking again.

Do you believe recomping is possible (gaining muscle while losing fat), and if so, is it as difficult as most people think it is?

I see it happen all the time. I know it's possible. Most people just wanna see huge gains and pass this up. Come on you gained 10 pounds in one month, how much of that was muscle? I'm not talking lean body mass where glycogen and intramuscular water is counted. I mean pure  USABLE MUSCLE? A pound or so is more likely. WE use skinfold calipers and the Parillo 9 site body fat measurements. I see people staying the same weight for a while while losing millimeters on their pinches all around the body. Lean body mass is increasing as subcutaneous fat is dropping hence recomposition!

What are your favorite cheat meals and foods?

Alright it's a tie between Indian and Sushi. Sushi for the win, but if I ate it as much as I wanted, I'd be homeless. So Indian is much more affordable as a cheat meal. A few plates at a good Indian buffet is wonderful to my taste buds!

Joe Daniels

What are some of your best diet, nutrition and supplementation tips for someone who just wants to look good and ripped, but doesn’t want to compete?

The best thing in my opinion for people to get naturally lean and not compete is to eliminate all processed foods and sugary drinks. Get rid of chemicals and excess hormones in food by getting organic veggies and farm /grass fed beef, and organic meats. You will notice a huge difference in how you feel and it's really not that much more expensive.

Even if it was aren't you worth it? I see people spending more money on making their car fast or look nice and still eat at fast food restaurants everyday. Make a change in your lifestyle. Don't just follow a diet to get lean for the beach. Also take alcohol into consideration.  It's hard to burn the fat you want to when there is residual alcohol in your body.

What are your thoughts of niche diet approaches like the Paleo diet, Adkins diet, keto runs, the Warrior Diet, intermittent fasting, etc.?

This is a very interesting question. I have done them all. Well except the Adkins diet. Eating that way just doesn't put off the health vibe to me... Any way, Paleo I totally believe in. Our agriculture skills and global transportation has far caught up to our evolution. IN MY OPINION  we’re not programmed to have an abundance of food such as we have.

Joe DanielsThink about it. Even a hundred years ago we did not have 24 hour grocery stores that had fruits and veggies all seasons of the year, and meats stockpiled so they had to be price reduced for quick sales. Notice how I said meats, fruits and veggies? I didn't even get into the plethora of mind blowing boxed and processed foods that line our many aisles. I mean in America we have FAKE EVERYTHING available.  Seriously what is CHEESE FOOD? CHEESE IN A pressurized can? Come on.

Our industry is so full of junk and preservatives no wonder we have a high cancer and disease rate. For being one of the leading health care systems in the world that's a pretty bad problem if you ask me... But back to the question. We’re evolved to hunt and gather. White bread and bagels don't grow on trees and I've never seen a Poptart bush before. Most people don't need all the carbs our government recommends, as they are just not active enough.

I have had great success on the Warrior diet, as it allows you to eat how you feel. I get busy at work and when not competing I don't have the time to count everything in grams. I need to focus on my business now. So I could have light protein sources and berries/veggies. Until the night meal which is HUGE. It could be high carb or higher fat. I just kept the carbs to sweet potatoes, quinoa or rice.

But when your body is running on fats like the diet is meant to, I craved fats mostly. Almonds all day! My strength was high and my energy levels never really waned during training as I had no carbs to lose and “hit the wall.” I enjoyed it. I recommend reading the book Warrior Diet and the ANTI ESTROGENIC DIET by Ori Hefmekler. As for using these diets for  hysique competition, I'd stick to more of a keto diet with carb refeeds once or twice weekly.

What are some of the biggest training mistakes you’ve made?

One of the biggest training mistakes I've made is overtraining. Your body can only recuperate so much without going backwards. I always thought more was better when I was younger... when I stayed out of the gym a couple of days in the week I began to get stronger and better lifts.

What are some of your favorite supplements and why?

I have to say that I'm proud to be a Scivation sponsored athlete. I started using their products a couple years ago and was impressed with them. Especially Xtend BCAAs drink for the range of flavors and the endurance it gave me during my hard lifting sessions. I saw big improvements. I met the guys at the Arnold last year and started talking with Marc, their president, about training and nutrition and he told me it was like “arguing with himself.” That's a pretty cool compliment.

I love that they “practice what they preach”, and if you know Marc, Rob or Derek from Scivation it's true. They don't get out of shape to sit in their desks and sell products. They put in work and win shows. Plus it's not filled with junk and fillers like so many other brands. It's straight and to the point.

Kettlebell Core Training Double Windmill Curl/Press

What are your favorite meals and foods?

Short answer: pretty much anything whole and organic. I love food and I love to feel the energy I get out of it.

Which athletes do you admire any why?

I admire athletes that do it for the love of the sport not money. This is why I don't get into professional sports much. Too much controversy and manipulation going on for more money. Seriously at what point is 100 million NOT ENOUGH MONEY?

Workout music – Don’t care, or MP3 player?

I can only workout to very fast metal. I love old school metal such as Slayer and Pantera, and newer stuff such as Parkway Drive, Poison The Well. If it's fast and heavy I can pretty much get stuff done when it's playing!

What are some of your favorite motivational quotes?

I have my favorite quote tattooed on my ankles, so when I get my head down I can read it. It is: “Never Give Up, Never Give In.” -  by me...

Joe Daniels witrith kettlebellsIf someone wants to connect with you, where can you be found?

the best place is This has links to all my social networking and Youtube pages. Or go straight to

What attracts you to the natural side of sports and competition?

This is an easy one for me. I'm an honest person and will tell you about my past in a heart beat. I'm a drug free athlete because I got into the gym to get OFF of drugs and alcohol. I partied too much from being in a band. Drinking too much and other unhealthy activities made me realize that I was not being a good person. It took a lot to admit I had a problem and actually got help for it myself.

When I went to the gym I found a healthy outlet for my stresses and channeled it there. So When it came to bodybuilding the choice was clear. Plus... I know I did it all MYSELF, without help from a chemical or steroid. My goal is to be the best I CAN BE, not what others think I should look like. I have no wants or needs to be 250 and 5 percent body fat.

Movies and TV shows you enjoy?

I really enjoyed the latest Darren Aronovsky films. The Wrestler and Black Swan. I really like character studies and psychological thrillers. It shows really how hard it is to be in those professions. Kind of the behind the scenes type of view that bodybuilders know all too well and their family and friends don't see or understand.

Posted on: Mon, 02/07/2011 - 10:18

What a motivational interview. I especially like his view of nutrition.

joe daniels
Posted on: Thu, 02/03/2011 - 21:21

thanks very much steve, the interview was fun to do.

David Barr
Posted on: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 16:39

Great read! The personality and expertise really comes through.

RJ Perkins
Posted on: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 16:34