Former Fat Guy Rob Cooper On Fitness
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Rob Cooper, the Former Fat Guy, about his natural weight loss experience. We covered his fitness, nutrition, and mental health. He is an inspiration to all, he once weighed nearly 500 lbs. 500 POUNDS! It took him only two and half years to drop 300 lbs.
Residing in Canada, Rob is now healthy, muscular, and follows a healthy eating plan and exercise routine. FormerFatGuy.com has been online since 1995 and is full of tons of information on weight loss, diet, and physical fitness. Rob clearly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to getting and STAYING in shape.
The first of a three part interview, the following covers Rob’s current fitness regimen. I love learning and reading about health and fitness and hope you do too. I was surprised to see that Rob and I have a few things in common.
So, Rob, let’s get this started. What is your current fitness or exercise goal?
My current goal is to get to 240 pounds at 10% body fat. Then take a few weeks break, then push on to 6%, do a photo shoot that sort of says “been there, done that” and then relax back up to 8%.
What methods are you using to achieve your goal?
I do cardio every morning, 7 days a week and do weight training every other day, allowing for a full 48 hours of rest between strength training sessions.
Describe the exercise program you’re following to achieve your goal.
I do morning cardio for about 45 minutes, mostly HIIT, followed with about 15 minutes of interval training or one single body part training. Then in the afternoon, I’ll go back and do my normal training session. I do supersets with all my exercises and focus on upper body one day, lower body the next. I train for no more than 45 minutes at any one time because I believe that any more than that is counter productive. If you can train more than 45 minutes, you’re not training hard enough!
Supersets allow me to get more work done in a 45 minute session. I mix it up a lot, never doing the same thing one workout to the next. They’re mostly the same, but I mix up combinations of exercises, do them in different orders, compound pushing with pulling one day, then two exercises pulling, two exercises pushing the next session. I might do the same thing for a week at most, then switch it up again.
My goal is keep my heart rate up, and stimulate as much muscle fiber per session as possible for maximum after burn
I’m also a very big believer in core training and most of my training sessions are core based. What does that mean? Glad you asked. I use the stability ball for flyes and DB press. I use the ball for seated db curls and I kneel on it for doing shoulder laterals for instance. I use the bosu trainer as well for doing squats, lunges, pushups and one arm chest press.
By having to keep my core engaged each training session, I work more muscle fiber than if I was laying on a bench or sitting on a seat of some sort. Besides, a stronger core allows for much heavier traditional lifts.
I’m also an avid backpacker / mountain climber, so having a stronger core allows me to carry heavier packs and be a little nimbler on the rocks. I’m all about real world fitness. When I’m outside the gym, I want functional muscle, not just good looking muscle.
Is this a year round exercise program?
Partially I guess. I don’t do daily HIIT for more than 6 weeks at a time. Too much of anything is bad and excessive HIIT without decent recovery time (2 weeks to a month or more) can lead to severe overtraining, depression, stunted growth, muscle wasting and erectile dysfunction. After a 6 week “blast”, as I call it, I take a full 2 weeks off from cardio and only do light weight training – just to keep my muscle. Then I do 2 weeks at every other day cardio while upping my strength training again, slowly working my way back to heavier weights.
As soon as I feel any sort of low energy coming on, or the slight sign of a sniffle, I stop all training and allow for proper recovery. Overtraining sucks.
To answer your question, no, this is not year round training schedule. This has purpose, to get to 10% body fat at 240 pounds. Then it’s about maintenance – which is a completely different program.
I’m going to modify my 6 week blast to a 4 week blast. I’m feeling that my energy peaks at about 3 weeks and begins to taper off at the end of 4, so I’m going to listen to that and take my recovery weeks earlier.
What was your exercise program like prior to setting this current goal?
I had taken almost two years off from the gym. I was traveling with a personal development company called Peak Potentials, facilitating courses and camps all over North America. I worked from 6 am till midnight or 2 am five days a week. It was very intense and when the weekends came, I just wanted down time.
After loosing the 300 pounds initially, and keeping it off for 16 years, I gained more than 50 pounds of fat and I’m currently on a 6 month program to get rid of it.
Prior to that however, my training program was like most – 3 days a week doing cardio and 5 or 6 days a week doing strength training. I’m 40 years old and have been training since 1992, so I’ve gone through all sorts of training “systems”. Hard to narrow it down to just one. Maybe I’ll do a post describing all the different types of training systems I’ve followed here soon.
What results are you expecting from this exercise program?
I expect to drop 3 pounds of fat a week, keep my muscle and or gain some muscle. I expect to drop body fat, but not too much weight – exchanging fat for muscle and dropping inches.
When do you expect to reach your goal?
July 1st, 2008 – Canada Day!
Do you have a reward for reaching your goal? What is it?
Lol, I can’t really say – kinda personal. My girlfriend has agreed to doing something special when I get to 10%.
Which is more important – Weight training or cardiovascular training in a weight loss / fat loss program?
Both. Primarily weight training as its muscle that makes cardio more effective. Cardio makes muscle more effective at burning fat, so we need the muscle to burn fat. Cardio is just the catalyst.
How often do you change your exercise program?
Every 6 weeks at the outside, 4 weeks normally, and right now I’m changing it almost day to day. I go by intuition – what feels right. I know what I want to work when I’m in the gym, I go in with a plan and then choose the exercises to fit that plan – then improvise within those exercises (from experience). Might be a superset, might be a triple set, might be a 20 minute interval training set. Depends on my energy and day’s goal.
Do you allow for down time at all? Recovery time?
HOLY SHIT YES! I listen to my body, if I’m not up for training, or not fully recovered from the last one, I wait another day and re-fuel my body. I’m also very aware of doing heavy HIIT training for lower body and then training legs again the same day. As I said before, I only do “6 week blasts” before taking 2 weeks off to fully recover. During the recovery time, my focus is on nutrition and rest. I will get a couple of massages, do some far-infrared sauna, and yoga to detox, refuel and repair.
What do you do if you simply do not want to go to the gym on a given day?
I talk myself into it.
Just as I can talk myself out of it, I can just as easily talk myself into it. I KNOW that I feel better once I’m warmed up, so as long as I can get to the gym, get changed and get onto the floor, I’m good. Then 2 sets in, I’m warm enough to go heavier and from there it’s a piece of cake. Of my top 10 all time workouts, I’d say 4 of them were ones I had to talk myself into.
On the days I don’t want to be there, I commit to just 30 minutes. Once I’m warm, I just go heavier, knowing I have to do as much work in 30 minutes as possible. After 30 minutes, I’m usually quite interested in doing 15 minutes more.
Well, thanks for the opportunity to learn more about what fuels your fitness. I look forward to reading more about your success.