Natural bodybuilder Victor Costa is one of the top trainers on the Internet. His Youtube channel, vicsnatural, is wildly popular, and currently has over 11,000 subscribers. Victor Costa also runs a personal web space, www.vicsnatural.com, where he provides some of the best natural training advice on the web.
Muscle and Strength: You're one of the leading natural trainers on the Internet. Tell us about your website and the services you provide.
Victor Costa: www.vicsnatural.com is a site I created to help people feel like they are getting a top level personal training session without having to pay 250 dollars per hour. I offer a dvd which serves as a visual tutorial of my specific techniques. However, I also offer audios and MP3's which are actual training sessions that a customer can take to the gym and listen on their IPOD or mp3 player and feel like they are getting an actual training session from me. Trainers from all over the world have told me that they are using my techniques to train their clients with incredible results. You don't need a personal trainer charging you thousands of dollars when I am willing to train you with my audios. I share bodybuilding secrets I have learned for the past 20 years that aren't available in books. I also offer weight loss consulting services via phone, but it usually turns into a life coaching session.
Muscle and Strength: Let's talk about your Youtube channel. You have quite a following. Tell us about your Youtube videos...what can expect to find and learn?
Victor Costa: Well, I wanted to give folks a sense of my training principles. I wanted my following to get a sense that I am a competent trainer and that bodybuilding is about the specifics, the subtleties. Anyone can throw weights around, but not everyone can build a complete physique, this is what I teach, a taste of what the videos and audios offer. Essentially, an introduction to my methods.
Muscle and Strength: What training methods do you believe in? What are your primary training and diet philosophies?
Victor Costa: My primary principle is to help help clients create a mind - body connection. Connect to the muscles we are interested in training while relaxing other areas of the body. Example, how do you train your back while taking the taking your biceps out of the equation? Hand positioning, proper posture, and certain breathing and visual processes. Of course, some secrets that I share in the audios available on the site, all combined make my training effective and insure complete training and stimulus of a specific bodypart. As far as diet is concerned, the whole world is afraid of carbs. In my opinion this is insane. Energy people, energy. The basic philosophy is to eat to live. Moderate sums of different foods, a bit of this a bit of that. Very little - if no - granulated sugar, and very little white flour. No fried foods, and whole grain breads, veggies and fruits, a bit of olive oil, a bit of butter, a bit of milk, whole eggs. Nothing in excess. In my opinion, we really complicate good common sense eating.
Muscle and Strength: When did you start lifting, and what were some of your early training mistakes? And what factors influenced the evolution of how you train?
Victor Costa: I started at about 15, lifting makeshift weights made from bricks. I must admit, that I made many mistakes. Sometime the mind is ready for things but the body isn't ready. I was so eager to get started that I was over training from the get go. I did biceps every day - never a chance to recover. Over training is the most common mistake I made for quite some time. Also, I restricted calories, insane, with all of the work I was doing I needed more food. One other early mistake, too heavy weights. I forgot I was going to be doing this for a long time. The human body has joints you know.
The factors that influenced my training was observational. Watching people in the gym training so hard, yet some would make very little gains. I asked why all this effort for such small gains, there must be a better way. So I developed a better way.
Muscle and Strength: You bring up a good topic...caloric intake. Do you believe the average hardgainer may be under-eating?
Victor Costa: The hardgainer has to address several issues to deal with. Caloric intake can be one issue, rest another, effectiveness and efficiency of training and also, something that is rarely if never discussed, patience and intuition. Hardgainers may ponder this question,"Am I ready to grow"? Have you noticed that sometimes the body is not cooperating with our wishes, and what do we do? We try to force it. You can't force your body, but you can communicate with it, finesse it. Ask your body, intuit, what is standing between you and your goal, sometimes it is patience, other times, it is just not ready.
Muscle and Strength: You mentioned joint health and longevity. This is an issue not often thought about by younger lifters. How does a beginning and intermediate lifter balance the need for using heavier weights/progression with training for longevity? Simply put, do you believe progression of heavy weight is the Holy Grail of lifting, or can a natural lifter train with lighter weights and still make gains?
Victor Costa: It takes a bit to determine what is an appropriate weight for training and when to move up. Yes, one can use light weights and progress, but something has to be increased to make gains, efficiency of movement, more reps, greater concentration, more intensity, or a greater mind-body connection. All of this creates mastery, once a weight is mastered, I would move up in weight slowly and then incorporate all of the elements of mastery again. Then the cycle repeats, isn't this wonderful.
Muscle and Strength: Why did you decide to remain natural?
Victor Costa: I was under the impression that I could actually compete with the drugged bodybuilders. I thought I was different, special because I was willing to sacrifice and work harder. I almost didn't want to believe that I was limited in any way. I got a chance to see first hand the ill effects of drugs from a friend who was competing. He seemed to handle his issues quite well, several surgeries for gynecomastia, etc. As for me, I am afraid to give blood. In many ways it was an easy decision, but I had a lot of people behind me who had high hopes for me and were disappointed. Some thought I could be the next great one. But, I must say I am a worrier by nature, and I didn't want to worry about what was going on inside of me. I do want to be the next great one, but I'll settle for the next great trainer.
Muscle and Strength: Can you tell me about some of your personal training success stories?
Victor Costa: My training extends beyond the physical. I have had personal training clients tell me that I stopped them from committing suicide, that they were hopeless until they found me. I have a tremendous responsibility. I train people, not body parts. I can help shift someone's perspective about their body, about their life. I can help people get on the road to weight loss with one phone call. I have done it many times. I begin by asking someone about their concept of self, who they think they are. Then they list things like, I'm a professional, I live in LA, I train 5 times a week. I say, you still haven't told me anything about yourself. Those things aren't you, those are the things you do. Believe it or not, this is where I have to begin to help heavy people lose weight. From there we can see very easily where some of the eating patterns and behavior stem from. As far as bodybuilding, MMA fighters, Bodybuilders (drugged and non drugged) seek my advice. There are so many, but when I can save someone frustration and time by helping them with their workout, these are success stories that happen daily. Let's say I have helped people lose millions of pounds of fat and gain millions of pounds of muscle through my videos, audios and phone consulting.
Muscle and Strength: What are some of your favorite training exercises, and why?
Victor Costa: I love training all bodyparts, because I have overcome the idea of a favorite body part, or favorite exercise. A lot of people have the idea of a favorite body part or exercise. We usually say this because it hurts more than other body parts, so we are reluctant to train that body part. The very reason it hurts is because either you have been avoiding that body part and aren't in the practice of training it. Or, there is some other mental block. When you embrace the idea that this is the body, your body, the concept of favorite body parts and favorite exercises begins to fade. That being said I enjoy making a breakthrough, a new sensation. Lately, I have been making a breakthrough with my shoulders and upper chest by really connecting with those parts mentally, focusing my attention there. Believe it or not I am using a new technique I devised using fitness bands and push ups, but it works. I actually offer the band workout, it's called the Darn Good Band workout - it's not on the site for sale yet, but I do offer it for special order, especially for those folks who train at home. If someone wants it, they should email. [email protected] for details.
Muscle and Strength: Who are some of your bodybuilding role models and why?
Victor Costa: Body building role models are the average guy in the gym, the guy who is always trying to figure it out, the guy who takes off his Ipod to say "Hello", the guy who has a 9 to 5 but comes in every day, because he has to, he's just bit, he's a bodybuilder at heart. We all are. That's what inspires me. The guy who tries to move forward, those are my role models.
Muscle and Strength: Tell me about your weight loss coaching service, and give us some info on your dieting philosophies.
Victor Costa: Weight loss - many of us eat unconsciously. It's like something takes over us and eats while we are not paying attention. Some of us have been programmed to eat in a certain manner, we develop rhythms and patterns that don't serve us. It is a complicated issue, but one that deserves more attention than we give to it. Your body knows what it needs and it will tell you, just have to listen. I remember hearing a story about 20 years ago about how young children used to lick their fingers after erasing the chalkboard, it turned out, they were calcium deficient. Fascinating story. Is it truthful? I'm not sure. But I believe we are all looking for what is missing or what we think is missing and sometimes we find it. I teach people how to listen. I try anyway.
Muscle and Strength: Are you available for phone consultation?
Victor Costa: I am available for phone consultations, but via email appointment only.