FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
These questions are taken from various places where I’ve publicly answered questions, including a Reddit AMA, Discord questions, and Cultivate questions. Some of them are among the most common questions I see. I hope it can help! I plan to continually update this until almost all common questions can be answered here.
+ I’ve been working out for (x) months and haven’t seen the progress. Is there a reason for this?
It's quite possibly because you're not giving your muscles enough resistance to stimulate growth! We need progressive resistance to consistently gain muscle. With weight lifting, this is as simple as increasing the weights we lift. With calisthenics, we increase the difficulty of the exercise we do! For example, moving from pushups to one-arm pushups. Another thing could be diet. If you're not eating enough, growth will be difficult.
+ How do I make my veins pop out more?
I think the most significant one is body fat percentage. A lower body fat percentage will show more veins.
You may also read that dehydrating yourself will make more of your veins shows, but please don't do this haha. At least, not day-to-day.
+ Do you have any advice for incorporating different muscles into one fluid motion?
For things like a golf swing, I definitely focus on the intent of the movement rather than the muscles contracting. I think about the arc I want my hands to make. Do it with just your hands first, and then try it with a stick. Then try it with a club.
This is an interesting point because the way to maximize power and efficiency in movements like this is actually OPPOSITE to some of the muscle-building fitness philosophies we hear about maximizing tension. We actually want to optimize tension, not maximize it. If we tense all of our muscles, we're working against ourselves. Relax the muscles that can be relaxed.
+ What type of exercises do you suggest for building up the lower back?
Because the lower back (and our spine in general) is such a critical area, please consult a doctor or physical therapist if you feel any hesitancy about doing such a movement. The short bridge is usually considered a gentle exercise, but everyone is different.
+ You have a great physique but not necessarily the same muscle definition as people like Austin Dunham and Chris Heria, but can still do very advanced calisthenic movements and the one armed pull up. Is there any difference in training to specifically target definition rather building up to be able to do those movements?
People like Chris Heria and Austin Dunham have awesome physiques and I have great respect for what both of them have accomplished. Actually, calisthenics athletes and gymnasts in general usually look incredible, in my opinion! Honestly, I simply never think about my physique. I don't know why, but it's just not something I've ever really cared about.
Is there something different someone could do if they wanted to be more shredded? Absolutely. First of all, embrace weighted calisthenics movements instead of the unilateral ones at disadvantageous angles that I target in my routine. (For example, weighted pullups over focusing on one-arm pullups). Lower carbs too. I don't do keto, but there is quite a bit of research that shows how low-carb diets can help reduce fat. At least in the short-term.
+ What is your morning routine? What is your typical breakfast?
1.) Wake up, DON'T check my phone for the first 10-15 minutes of my day.
2.) Make coffee if it's coffee day (I only drink it once every other day) and drink a cup of water.
3.) Write down a to-do list for my day (before checking my phone).
4.) Commit to doing the top 3 most important things on my list.
5.) Go for a walk/drive while I drink coffee. This helps me think.
I don't usually eat a standard breakfast. My first meal of the day is usually well past 2PM and I usually only eat 2 meals a day. It's a sandwich or something. I like scrambled eggs with brown rice and avocado as well.
+ Who are the other fitness trainers or calisthenics athletes you greatly admire and what life lessons you have learned from them?
There are too many to list. The summary is that I like all of them. Do some of them put out information that I disagree with? Sure. Just like I probably put out content THEY don't like. There aren't enough calisthenics athletes out there yet that I think we can afford to argue. I think fitness content should be viewed as a collaboration and not a competition.
At some point, I can try to do a list, but I don't want to leave anyone out. They all inspire me to do better and serve my community better. I also sell shirts and such. I plan start a direct-to-consumer coffee brand some day to ship excellent coffee directly to people's doors. I want this to work really well, so I'm still working on the details.
+ How do/did you decide what specific content to make, especially early on when the audience is relatively small?
Early on, I just made content about whatever I was inspired to make. Inspiration will carry you through for decades, so while you want to serve your audience, make sure your topic(s) are something you enjoy as well! If you enjoy talking about it, it's much more likely that you'll start to find your crowd.
Try different things when starting out, as well. You never know what will resonate with people. Don't worry about establishing a firm brand right at the beginning. Focus on putting out content.
+ How do you build habit and discipline? In what ways do you motivate yourself on difficult days?
I think discipline is needed to achieve almost anything in life. We build this fortitude through habit, sometimes out of necessity. Consistently doing things even though we don't enjoy them teaches us an important aspect of life. A great example is brushing our teeth. Most of us don't feel excited about it, but we'd better brush our teeth daily even if we're tired. This also shows the power of incremental change. Doing something for a few minutes a day can prevent big problems from occurring in the future. I think some people lack motivation because they build up a HUGE task in their brain. Instead of trying to do it all at once, work a few minutes of it into your daily routine and soon you'll have accomplished a tremendous amount.
That said, I plan around difficult days. I know there are some days when I'm more tired and less motivated. I expect this to happen and use it as a rest day so I can come back strong tomorrow.
+ Is taking longer breaks between sets a good thing? And what's the average time you'd recommend one to take rest between sets?
Average time between sets? 2-3 minutes, I'd say.
Rest length depends on your goals. If you want to maximize strength gains, then you'd want to be able to exert as much force as possible each rep. This would mean you would rest until you feel like you can give the next set your all.
For muscle growth? It's not AS necessarily to exert as much force. Time under tension and muscle fatigue are important, so I'd reduce the amount of time I spend between sets. It'd still be at least 30 seconds.
If you want to train cardio, shorter rests between sets will help.
+ What is your way to generate revenue if you don't monetize or have sponsors?
I do monetize some of my videos on YouTube. I receive ad revenue from these videos when people watch them. I think it's important to note that even if I didn't monetize my videos, ads might still be shown on them. YouTube has reserved the right to place ads on videos even if the creator has chosen to not receive money from it. Views from YouTube Shorts don't make the same as longer videos. Also, how much money the creator makes from views depends on a variety of factors including the genre (cooking, fitness, makeup) and channel. I don't want people to think I'm fabulously wealthy or anything, haha.
I also sell shirts and such. I plan start a direct-to-consumer coffee brand some day to ship excellent coffee directly to people's doors. I want this to work really well, so I'm still working on the details. I'm also not against sponsorships, exactly. I just don't do them myself. Or at least, I haven't taken one yet. I'd rather promote products and companies I like for free. And if I DON'T like them, then I won't promote them.
I consider myself very blessed to be covered financially right now doing what I love. I'm not rich, but I'm covered. With this in mind, I want to focus on giving right now. If this status ever changes, I may be forced to change my approach to pay bills and stay alive, but for now, I want to give while I can.
+ What do you think about intermittent fasting?
I like it. I naturally ate this way for years before I ever heard the term. I still do on most days.
I know it has some criticism, but these arguments usually address points that are not relevant to why I do IF anyway. I don't think it's "magic." I don't think it can somehow miraculously bypass the need for a caloric deficit to lose weight. I'm also not starving myself. I'm not a big guy and with a 15:9 or 16:8 fast I can still cram away 4k+ calories sometimes.
I feel a lot better eating this way. Of course, experiences differ. There is some research that shows it affects men and women differently.
+ Are you a Christian?
+ Do you do cardio workouts? If so, what is your routine? And what cardio routines would you reccomend?
I do! So, I think some of the calisthenics strength workouts I do are pretty intense cardio. Several sets of squats and bridges leave my heart pounding pretty hard.
When I have the time, I really enjoy hill sprints. The steeper the better. Doing several sets of this on an incline of 100m or more is intense. In a good way. I can usually do this in 10-20 minutes, including rest times. I do sprints before my squats, as I time them and want to improve my times.
However, I don't do much purely endurance training nowadays, which is what people sometimes mean by cardio. I used to run for 5 miles daily, but I haven't in a while. I think running is a fine exercise, it's just not something I've been doing recently.
+ What do you think of programs targeted to women? Do they provide real benefits for women or is it just a big marketing move?
It's mostly marketing, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
As long as the exercise program is progressive, meaning the weights and exercise difficulty are scalable to the individual, then it should apply to almost everyone. So in this sense, there's not really a strict need to separate programs for men and women.
That said, men and women may have different goals, statistically.
A program titled "GET HUGE ARMS IN 7 DAYS" would probably sell better to men than women. Meanwhile "SKINNY WAIST DAILY ROUTINE" probably wouldn't sell as well to guys. We also have differences in our hormones and genetic potential that might affect how these programs are made.
So these programs may be created to market to either men or women, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're ineffective or bad.
Personally, I just recommend a weekly routine that works out entire body progressively!
+ Have you personally talked to Coach (Paul) Wade? If not, do you think he is a real person or a made up character by Dragon Door publications?
I've talked with him via e-mail and he's my Facebook friend. The way he talks is very similar to the writings in his books. Beyond this, I've never seen him in person.
I will say that whoever is doing the writing is a very inspirational writer and has done a LOT of research on fitness, calisthenics, and anatomy. I've heard theories that he's a retired Olympic gymnastic coach, athlete, etc.
I don't know about any of that. I will say that the face-value story of "a man goes to prison, learns how to train his body without equipment out of necessity, and shares his knowledge" doesn't seem like that much an outlandish story to me. It doesn't seem so fantastic that I doubt the story based on the premise alone.
So, no, I can't say I know for sure if he's a "real person" or a team of writers or what. I DO know that whoever writes the content is a great writer and has helped me out a lot. Beyond the calisthenics knowledge, he's just a friendly guy. He has an account active in the Isochain Facebook group and he goes out of his way to congratulate people on their progress and builds up their confidence. Part of my teaching style is inspired by his writings.
Personally, I believe he's a person with a lot of experience with calisthenics. I don't think he's a team of writers or anything. He's stated that he wants to keep his life private, and I just try to respect that and thank him for helping popularize calisthenics.
+ Do you have any thoughts on dating? Getting a girlfriend, boyfriend, or significant other? How about just making friends?
+ What are your favorite animes?
Probably Gintama, One Punch Man, and I watch some Boku No Hero Academia with my fiancee. I'm not super advanced in anime. Gintama is probably one of the funniest shows I've ever seen though!
Coffee With Hampton Episodes (Q&A)
Coffee is a series of videos where I give in-depth answers on common topics.