April 5, 2017–
The only way to build the muscles you want is to take on challenges that others won’t.
The building in Salt Lake City was all black with no signage. It felt like stepping into an underground club, one where the laws of gods and men don’t apply. Once inside, I was immediately overpowered by the smell of sweat and bleach, the screech and thump of punk music, and the whirring of Concept2 rowers.
Eight men cranked on the machines at a suicidal pace. Sweat streamed down their tattooed backs. Spurring them on was one of the largest human beings I had ever seen. “What’s causing you to slow down?” he hollered. “Your mind or your body?” The man had the calm confidence of a star athlete and the brick-shithouse physique of someone who fights in a cage for money. Which, I later learned, he used to do in the UFC.
I first heard of Robert “Bobby Maximus” MacDonald while reporting a story for this magazine. In a mass email to some of the best and brightest people I knew in fitness, I’d asked a simple question: Who are the fittest men in the world?
Each respondent named three or four people, most of whom were pro athletes. But the name that popped up most frequently was unfamiliar to me: Bobby Maximus, training director of Gym Jones in Salt Lake City.
This impossibly large Canadian, they said, was not only breaking world records but also helping pro athletes win championships, teaching Special Forces soldiers to attain elite fitness, and turning average guys into superheroes.
So I went to Gym Jones and soon found myself sitting on a rower as Maximus programmed 2,000 meters into its computer. “Try to finish in seven minutes,” he said. “If you don’t want to quit halfway through, you’re not going hard enough. Go!” (This is one of the 7 essential tests Maximus says you must pass before you can be considered truly fit.)
I’ve been covering fitness for a decade. I’ve finished in the top 3 percent of half marathons, completed 24-hour endurance challenges, and trained at the best facilities in the country. But nothing prepared me for this.
In the final 500 meters, with Maximus reminding me that fatigue is more mental than physical, I reached a new level of intensity. This was not a workout. It was a revelation.
I’ve followed his methods ever since, and they’ve changed me both physically and mentally. I no longer make excuses, and I understand my fatigue. As a result, I can detach from the pain and gain an edge.
I’m hardly unique. Maximus has helped countless people shatter their notion of what their “best” could be.
That’s why we wrote the new Men’s Health book Maximus Body together. To give you a taste, I asked him to reveal what’s most important to reach peak fitness. What follows is Maximus’ six-step plan for honing your body, written by him.
STEP 1: GET YOUR MIND RIGHT
People who become supremely fit don’t do secret one-of-a-kind exercises, eat “superfoods,” or take magic supplements. They just work harder. They don’t quit or make excuses or take shortcuts. That kind of discipline comes from the organ between your ears, not the muscles below them. Try these two mind-hardening exercises.
Self-doubt poisons performance; “green-light thoughts” are the antidote. If you catch yourself thinking “I’m too tired” or “I need to slow down,” reverse it by saying, “I’ve got this” or “This is easy” or “I feel great.”
You can take it a step further. When I was in the UFC, my sports psychologist, Brian Cain, had me put little green stickers over the places I frequented the most—my car’s steering wheel, the bathroom mirror, the fridge, the weight rack. Every time I saw a green dot, I told myself one reason I was going to succeed. The very next fight, I won Submission of the Night. You can buy the green dots at an office-supply store. Every time you see one, tell yourself why you’ll reach your goal.
Understand the Maximus 130-Hour Rule
Fitness can seem like a journey with no end in sight. Here’s a different take on it: 130 hours. In my experience, that’s all it takes to get yourself into shape. Train hard for an hour a day, five days a week, and you’re there in six months. If you want to get started right now, I put together a 130-hour training plan in my Men’s Health book Maximus Body. It contains the 100 workouts I’ve used to help everyone from A-list celebs to busy accountants get ripped, laid out in a schedule that makes it easy for you to stay on track.