Steve Poynter wasn't born buff. In fact, for most of his life he was a typical skinny guy, overtraining, undereating and making no progress. In 2001 Steve turned it around, learned from his mistakes, and packed on the pounds of muscle. Currently Steve Poynter is helping others turn their lives and physiques around. He runs an online personal transformation and training service, which includes the website www.fitnesspoynters.com.
Muscle & Strength: At the age of 21, you were the typical 5'9", 130 pound skinny guy. 10 years later you are muscular and shredded. Tell us about this journey. What did it take for you to change your physique? What were the keys?
Steve Poynter: You are right, at the age of 21 years old, I was only 130 lbs at 5'9" tall. I decided that year that it was time for me to make a change with my body, so one day I decided to checkout the local gym with a friend. We walked in and all I saw were mass monsters walking around, which was very intimidating to say the least.
I wanted to exit right at that moment, but I started to think about what had ran through my mind previously, and that being how I wanted to change my life with fitness. I continued to go back to the gym, day after day, not having a clue what I was doing. I was seeing progress over the next 5-7 months but nothing I was really happy with.
At this time I began to read fitness magazines, taking articles and training routines and putting them to use. As years went by I did grow little by little and I eventually got to 155 lbs which was exciting for me, seeing where I had started. Once at 155 I began to use supplements, things such as creatine, nitric oxide products, BCAAs, multivitamins and weight gainer proteins.
Once I added all of this in, I continued to see growth taking place. As a couple more years went by, I ballooned up to 185 lbs but my bodyfat percentage was really high. At the end of the 2007 year, I decided to really focus on cutting the fat I had gained, so with that being said, I went on a cut, where I went from 185 lbs at about 14% bodyfat, down to 163 lbs and 4.5% bodyfat. What was strange to me is the mass I was carrying around after the cut, I mean I was only 8 lbs heavier than before the bulk, but the muscle was a lot fuller and the cuts were much deeper. At this point, I knew I had the knowledge down to bulk up or cut up.
In 2001, I had no clue this is where I would stand today. It takes a lot of self discipline, it takes a drive and determination that you can't let anyone break or take from you. You have the ability to make anything happen that you want, all you have to do is put in the work and keep your focus. As you make your way along, there are tons of obstacles that will stand in your way, you will have the people trying to drag you down, telling you that you can't lose weight or you can't gain weight, and you are wasting your time in the gym.
You have to keep the focus here, and keep a clear head about your set goals.
Eating is key to all progress, you need a set nutrition plan to follow for whatever you goal may be. You have to eat every 2.5-3 hours in order to preserve muscle mass, when you are cutting or bulking. Eating, in my opinion is what will bring you 80% of your progress. You can't eat 2-4 times per day and expect change to happen.
If you are bulking up, eat and eat heavy, take in all you can. If you are cutting, keep it clean, low carbs, moderate fats and healthy high proteins. This is all the info I found out and this is what changed my life for the better and has brought me many great things related to fitness. To me, it's all about the Thee D's:
Muscle & Strength: So what's on the horizon for you now that you've achieved your "dream body", so to speak? What are the current goals that drive you, and are you looking to compete as a bodybuilder?
Steve Poynter: You ask the interesting question of what is in my future with fitness. Well, I have taken a huge step in the past year, taking what I have learned about training and nutrition and passing it onto others as I do "Online Training" where I create hardcore workouts and meal plans for each individual who joins my team. Helping people change their lives is one of the most amazing things one could do in a lifetime.
Within the next year, I would like to possibly compete on stage. As of now and years to come, I would love to continue to do photoshoots and let the world see what one can do when you are 110% dedicated to fitness. Within 3 years, I really want to open up my own gym and develop it into one that is labeled as the most hardcore gym in the state.
If you are one who really loves to workout and change your body , you can never have a desired goal of how you want to look, in personal experience, I have never gotten as lean as I would like to be, and I have never carried the mass I desire. I had once set a goal of reaching 165-170 lbs and being completely ripped, well after I got close to that, I still wasn't happy, so the way I see it, a goal in this industry is something that you will never reach.
Muscle & Strength: What are the greatest challenges you face on a daily basis as a personal trainer? And can you share with us some of your personal training success stories?
Steve Poynter: The greatest challenge is keeping clients motivated and trying to help them understand why eating, and eating often and clean is what will cause over 80% of their progress. When an individual follows the outline of their meal plan and they put in the work in the gym, the results are insane.
I am attaching a couple of pics as well as partial testimonials from a couple of my team members.
"I found Steve and& asked some questions which he answered them that same day. I did what he said and I got results. Then it became more, he became my friend and trainer and the rest is history. I am now 42 years old rocking a 6 pack, I'm in the best shape of my life and I owe it to Steve."
"I just finished a 14 week transformation with Steve and in that 14 week time frame I dropped my bodyfat percentage over 11%. It went from 24.6% on January 2nd 2009, down to 13.4% on May 5th"
Muscle & Strength: Can you tell us what some of your personal training philosophies are? What do you believe works best for adding muscle?
Steve Poynter: My philosophies with personal training are simple: if you want to train and you want to go hardcore and not moan or cry about what I am putting you through, then working with me is something you will enjoy. If you are one who isn't dedicated to eating clean and who will put forth the effort to get the results you desire, then you will be wasting your time by coming to me because I will let you go if you do not carry the 3 D's as mentioned before: Discipline-Drive-Determination.
For adding muscle, lifting heavy and eating big is the key. You have to take in enough cals and carbs to create new muscle mass. When adding all out mass, I believe the carb intake outweighs protein and vise versa, when cutting, protein is key, carbs are the low key item. Eating is the key to all progress. If you eat big and you get in the gym and lift heavy for reps from 4-8, you will put on great muscle mass.
I also believe in volume training. I think that by flooding the muscle you are working with as much blood as you can, in turn you will get the greatest results because when you flood that muscle with blood, you are getting tons of nutrients into the muscle and you get those nutrients from the foods you are consuming. I like to keep my total sets between 12-16, depending on what bodypart I am working. That count does not include any warm up sets which can be from 1-5 sets.
Muscle & Strength: Why do you believe there are so many training workouts and systems that stray from the basic lifts using heavy weight? And any thoughts on why so many lifters believe that lower reps, such as 4-8, aren't as good for muscle building as, say, 8 to 12 reps per set?
Steve Poynter: I think there are so many training principles out there that so many people claim to be the best that most people end up wanting to find out if that style of training is beneficial to them so the old school basics of pushing out heavy weight isn't something you see a lot these days. Most people now avoid squats, deadlifts, bench and all the hard lifts.
I think 4-8 reps are great for building mass, you up your rest time, lift heavy weight and push out your 4-8 reps, always struggling to get in as many as you can, doing forced reps, negatives, whatever, just get it done. Some people like volume training, some like the fact of flooding the muscle with blood by ripping apart every fiber with high reps. The more blood you can get in there, then the more expansion it creates and in time, more growth happens.
Muscle & Strength: Steve, I want to ask you about fat loss and muscle gain. One of the most frequent questions I hear is..."how do I add muscle while losing fat?" What can you tell someone who has both goals in mind?
Steve Poynter: In my personal opinion, the best way to drop fat while adding lean mass is to follow a high protein, lower carb and moderate healthy fats meal plan while doing a carb rotation. Rotating in higher carbs every 4th day. Taking in the high high protein will help with the gains while it also helps cut fat, as protein is the number one fat burner.
For the workouts, I suggest a workout where you do compound moves for lower reps to help add lean mass, then add in isolation moves for high reps to cut you up and bring out striations. The best way to progress with lean gains is to have a spotter on hand and do what are called "Negative" reps for your low rep range with the compound moves. For example:
Incline Barbell Press: 4 sets
- Set 1: After your warm ups: 5-6 reps of negative reps, urack the weight and slowly lower the weight on the descent while holding, fighting with all you have to keep the weight up. The longer you can hold it, the more deep down muscle fibers will come into play, those fibers are ones that are rarely hit with traditional training. So when you do these negatives, those fibers are torched and with you holding the weight, this is going to make you stronger as well. With the combination of strength gains and new fibers coming into play, new muscle mass will be added.
- Set 2: 8-12 reps on traditional presses, no negatives here.
- Set 3: Negatives like set 1.
- Set 4: Same as set 2.
Flat Barbell Press
Do these the same as you did Incline presses.
Flat Dumbbell Flyes
- 3 sets: 20 reps each
Then add in one more isolation move for 20 reps.
You wouldn't want to do negatives on the following: squats, deadlifts or side lateral raises. I would suggest only doing negative work for no more than 3 weeks at a time before giving your body a break from them for 3-4 weeks. They are extremely hard on your joints and ligaments due to the constant tension from the negative reps. If you want cuts and lean muscle gains, this is the way to go.
Muscle & Strength: What exercises do you love to perform, and why? And what exercises do you dread, and why?
Steve Poynter: To be honest, there is no workout or move that I dread. I used to hate to squat but now I am finding it to be one of my best days, I think this is due to the fact of having a great workout partner who pushes me to the max. We have also started using chains on almost every training day so that makes things interesting.
My favorite moves are as follows:
Incline Barbell Press: I think this is the top move for pec development as it hits the entire pec area. You have to love the feeling of having a full blown upper pec area. I also love the side lateral raise for delts. I think this move really caps off the entire delt and brings out those crazy striations. Not only can you hit the entire delt but you can also get a little extra trap work if you want to go a little higher with your side laterals than just going to shoulder height. Deadlifts are my 3rd favorite move due to them working the entire body and this is just a great power move to help you build strength and size.
Muscle & Strength: What are your short and long term goals?
Steve Poynter: After doing a winter time bulk and ending up having surgery which sidelined me for over 5 weeks and killing my progress, it has taken me quite a while to rebound to what I lost during my time off and with the complications post surgery. So now my short term goal is to get back to 175 lbs with a bf% of 4.5% or below. I am really shooting for 4%. My long term goal is to continue to build my personal team of clients. I personally want to end up weighing 185 lbs with a bf% of 4. I also want to some day open up my own hardcore gym and really show people what a gym in my area should be like.
If I can accomplish those things, I will have reached a major goal for myself, but once you get close to one goal another one always comes along, so I think when you are into fitness, you will really never reach a goal. We all always want to be bigger, more ripped and just on top of the game of what we are doing.