On the show this week, Ryan L’Ecuyer and I sit down with freshly minted IFBB pro Ethan Grossman. Ethan is the Co-Founder of Strength Score, a fitness software company, and a strength trainer at Hype Gym in New York City. Our intent for today’s episode was to sit down and unpack the nuts and bolts of hypertrophy training and advanced muscle building tactics and strategies. However, we instead do a deep dive into the principles and strategies that positioned Ethan to be successful in his training, which allowed him to receive his IFBB pro card.
We first dive into the episode by giving a little background behind the sport of bodybuilding. Ethan then shares in detail his weight when he graduated college versus his precut weight for the show versus when he actually walked on stage. He gives context behind the pro bodybuilder spectrum regarding how a he/she looks on stage compared to how he/she looks at the peak of his/her raw season. We dive into the importance of weeding out any unproductive behaviors and accepting that there is going to be some form of discomfort in reaching your goals and being successful; it all comes down to choosing what you do with your time and eliminating distractions. Listen in as Ethan, Ryan and I unpack the strategies, habits, and principles you need to have in place to maximize your muscle and performance both in and out of the gym.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
- [03:55] Intro to Ethan Grossman
- [06:04] Background behind the sport of bodybuilding
- [09:56] Ethan’s weight when he graduated college versus his precut for the show versus when he walked on stage
- [31:23] The spectrum for how a pro bodybuilder may look on stage versus how they look at the peak of their raw season
- [39:25] Success and understanding there’s going to be some level of discomfort
- [47:46] Weeding out unproductive behaviors
- [49:32] Choosing what to do with your time and eliminating distractions
- [57:20] Thought process behind potential superpowers
- [01:01:54] Your internal chemistry and ability to deal with stressors
- [01:11:43] The rock, pebble, sand analogy
- [01:12:20] Understanding where you’re getting your information
James Cerbie: Let’s jump into the episode today with Ethan Grossman. Make him super jealous because he hates the hack squad that he has in Salt Lake because it’s really small, like he’s essentially topped it out. And it’s just, like, really tiny. He’s got to try to wedge it up to get more of an angle and more of an incline to get more load.
And then the one that we have at the Armor here in Knoxville is huge. It is absolutely enormous. It’s fantastic. The only thing they fucked up on it is the band pegs. They have a slot to put Ban pegs, but you’ve got to be 610 to potentially get any band tension at any point in time in the lift because I’m in there and the band’s already slack. And I was like, Well, if I double loop it maybe. But then that’s a fuck off. I’m not a band tension.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: Anyway, I feel like Lexner would move across the country for a hack squat and nothing else. That would be enough motivation for him to move without question.
James Cerbie: Once he gets crypto rich dude already, he’s going to move onto the farm. He’s going to buy any machines that we don’t have in the barn gym at that moment, and we’ll never see or hear from him again.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: Yeah. Sounds like a good life.
James Cerbie: Excellent, guys. I’m excited for this one. I think this will be fun. So we got Ryan Leche and Ethan Grossman on board today to talk hypertrophy and making muscles bigger, because I think that’s a very fascinating and fun topic. Everyone listening to this, I think, would like to put on more muscle at some point in time. So everyone essentially knows who you are, Ryan, because you’ve been on so many of these now. But, Ethan, if you could give us a quick 32nd elevator pitch, just who you are, what you do, the quick background story.
Intro to Ethan Grossman
Ethan Grossman: Thanks, James. As always, appreciate having me on and Ryan and I do these on Sundays here and there anyway. So it’s just kind of like a normal weekend, so quick elevator pitch. I mean, I’m a trainer in New York City. We’ve got a gym called Hype, mainly trained gen pop people right now, and I work with a guy named Pat Davidson. I’m assuming he’s been on this podcast as well. He’s my business partner. We have a fitness software company called Strength Score that we’ve been working on for the past few years.
So that takes up part of my time in person. One on one personal training takes up a part of my time, and then bodybuilding takes up the rest of it. Got there, basically worked at a few gyms prior to Hype in New York City, came to New York City to work at a place called Peak Performance, met a bunch of great people there, including Duck and the whole resilient performance crew there. He’s still my physical therapist. And for that, with Springfield College, Pat was my professor there.
And for the last ten years, we’ve been kind of just traveling spot to spot with each other, doing the whole personal training gig, doing the whole software gig. And in the meantime, just working towards getting my pro card and finally did that about eight weeks ago now at the amateur Olympia. So here we are.
James Cerbie: Yes, man. Congratulations again on that. By the way, I know that’s been a multi-year year for people that don’t really appreciate or understand the sport. That is a multi, multi, multi year project. That’s not something that you’re just like twelve months, and I’m just going to walk on stage and make this thing happen.
Background Behind the Sport of Bodybuilding
Ethan Grossman: Nowadays, it kind of is in the other classes because you have, like, the women’s bikini and the men’s bikini. Basically, and there’s, like, four or five other classes that didn’t exist. When Ryan and I first got into the sport. Originally, it was just men’s bodybuilding, women’s figures. And there’s also women’s bodybuilding, which is a little bit of a fringe sport because in that case, taking male hormones is a little bit of almost like, on the side of gender transformation going on there. So that sport kind of has been, like, in and out of the scene over the last maybe ten years or so.
But essentially, the two big ones were men’s bodybuilding, women’s figure. Now you have women’s physique, you have wellness, you have bikini, you have men’s physique, you have men’s classic physique bodybuilding. So basically, you’re able to get more fans in the seats because there’s more friends and family coming. And they say, from a marketing standpoint, like, it’s more attainable. And people are more interested in looking like those athletes. So it’s more marketable. But to the attainable aspect of it,
to be a bikini or to be a physique competitor, not to take anything away from those guys or girls because they still work very hard to dive down to that level of leanness is never easy.
But the amount of muscle mass that you have to put on is significantly less. So it’s not uncommon to take someone with a really good shape, and that just looks the part. You add a little bit of muscle diet down. It’s a much quicker process. So I’ve noticed, just, like, going to some bodybuilding gyms recently because I mainly train over at Hype. But when I venture out into hardcore old school bodybuilding gyms, you meet people now that are like, I’ve been training for a year and I’m trying to get my pro card where I think for, like, Ryan and I, it was much more of like, oh, this is a decade long process.
This might never happen. We’re just going to kind of take the first step forward, see what kind of progress we get in the first year or two, maybe step on stage, catch the waters, and then just like, literally one step at a time, trying to work your way up through the ranks, whereas people now are in their first year of training, and they’re like, oh, I want to get my pro card. It’s kind of like, what’s the point? There’s nothing at the end of that rainbow.
Literally. There’s just more suffering. It’s just more discomfort. There’s no pot of gold, there’s no money, there’s no Fame, there’s really nothing to be had. And it’s interesting nowadays how people kind of, like, seek the title or just want to put it as letters after their name, when really the entire journey is just one of mastery, self-discovery and just kind of using it as a way to build yourself as a person. Whereas I think a lot of times nowadays people are looking at us as an endpoint, much like with social media we’re looking at it as an endpoint to Fame rather than just a way to display what you built as a human in who you are.
And I think the people that are doing it well, like yourself, they’re just taking something that’s a passion or a hobby. And they’ve spent years developing themselves, years developing their skill set and their value. They’re just presenting that value where a lot of people now are saying, like, I see what James is doing, and I want to be James. Like, how do I market myself? How do I create a brand? And it’s like, well, the brand kind of creates itself when you have value. So I think for people like yourself and Ryan, you’ve built value over the years and people are interested in what you have to offer.
So it’s not like the marketing and the branding and all that stuff comes secondary where a lot of times now it’s the first thing.
James Cerbie: Yeah. So I think it’s actually a really good place to start this. There are a lot of nuggets there.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: By the way, we just ended the podcast right there. I feel like that might.
James Cerbie: Yeah, we’re done to put this in perspective because I think the one key thing that you mentioned is the amount of muscle that has had to be put on over time for you to be able to get the pro card you got eight weeks ago. Let’s actually put in perspective the difference in body weight that we’re talking about. How much did you weigh when you graduated College versus how much did you weigh precut for the show? And then how much did you weigh when you actually stepped on stage? Just so we have an actual, I think, physical number of how much mass needed to get put on to reach this point.
Ethan’s Weight When He Graduated College Versus His Precut for the Show Versus When He Walked on Stage
Ethan Grossman: I don’t know exactly, like going way back. I don’t know exactly when I first started lifting. I can remember the first time I stepped foot into the weight room like a strength conditioning room at my high school and started working out for football. So I remember that being a relatively intimidating scene because it was like a varsity football team. I was in 7th grade. People are just, like, deadlifting and slamming weights and there’s, like, heavy metal playing. It wasn’t a situation where I walked in and was instantly like, this is amazing.
Like, this is who I want to be. It was definitely a little bit of an intimidating environment and that’s kind of like my first memory of being exposed to training. But I had some friends reach out to me from high school and even grade school after the show. And just, like, recounting some things in our past that may be led up to this. And I had a buddy reach out from grade school, actually. And we were just talking about lifting weights in my basement when we must’ve been 4th, 5th grade.
I mean, the weights are still down there. So this obviously is true. But we had to cement weights with the plastic over the top and like the really narrow bench press that you, like, pinched between your thumb and index finger. So every time you put it back, you just end up bleeding, like next to your thumb. And the weights are really wide and the bar is really narrow, so it only fits in so many ways. So what we would do is we’d hang paint cans off the side of the barbell to add load.
And of course, it was very uneven and everything. But I remember that was probably like my first exposure to lifting, like some time in grade school, just like playing around in the basement with stuff that we had down there. And then later on, once I got some jobs as a teenager, I eventually built out like my own little weight room in the basement and painted it and hung posters up, put a little heater down there for the winter. It was cool. And I would say around that time I probably started lifting weights for football, like 7th or 8th grade to start getting ready for freshman football.
And I would say at that time I could probably remember being 180 on the scale. And I was lifting at the time because I didn’t really start weighing myself until I was actually like a way into lifting. So I don’t know if I started lifting at, like 100 and 5160. But I remember being reasonably lean muscular, like 185. And that was probably eight 9th grade somewhere in there. And then by the time I graduated high school, I was in the two hundreds.
So I don’t know, somewhere between 200 and 215 and kind of the same thing College wise. So in College I started a team there with Rob Kerney, who’s a very successful strong man and started a team called Iron Sports, which Pat coached. And we had Strongman, a little bit of powerlifting, some bodybuilding. And we all trained together in the strength conditioning room there. And not a lot changed really in terms of total muscle mass between the end of high school. And I would say it’s like 25, 27, maybe.
So we’re talking like almost ten years of like, okay, we start lifting seriously at like maybe twelve years old. And then I start College at like 17. So my first five years, like, exponential progress that really set the stage with a lot of early injuries, just small little soft tissue stuff because I was playing football, playing rugby, lacrosse for a bit, playing a lot of contact sports. So we had that and very heavy lifting and also the propensity early on to be really strong. So I went into College with some pretty serious injuries, and had some surgeries recovered from those.
And it was kind of like progress is exponential right up until College still made bits of progress like College through early 20s. But there was a lot of learning going on in that period, obviously, because I was in College studying under path, doing tons of seminars, continuing education, of course, continuing education wise. It ended up being a lot in the physical therapy realm. So I worked at a physical therapy clinic. I did a bunch of seminars, whether it was like the SMS, SFMA, the DNS CRM, and went and shadowed a bunch of coaches and physical therapists and just spent years really trying to learn how to bulletproof myself, essentially, at least under that notion of let me try to create some kind of solid base to work off of.
And I don’t know if that is really a reality or something that is actually possible. But that was kind of the premise I had in mind. And maybe I just wasn’t really mentally at the point where I was ready to take that next step and fully express myself as a bodybuilder. Like Ryan and I have talked in the past about who we identify with, because we don’t fully identify ourselves with the traditional bodybuilding and fitness culture. Like what you see, say, like an Expo. But we don’t fully identify either as like a full out nerd, whether it be like a researcher or someone who’s just, like, purely an educator or a seminar boss.
So we’re kind of like somewhere in the middle. And I think at some point it just clicked like, hey, if we don’t identify as a bodybuilder fully, we’re never going to be able to commit the time and effort that it’s going to take to really reach our goals. And also, we just love this shit. Just be ourselves, be unique and people respect that and give you the space to kind of be you when you do that. So kind of circling back around graduated College at upper, maybe 220s, right.
Maybe peak weight was like getting close to 230 at, like, 15% body fat or so. And then really, the big change was in the last few years. So I just turned 30. Yeah. I started using PDS at like, 27. Yeah. So about three years ago, and that’s where I made a huge leap from being, like, 222, 30 up to I got up to 250 ish, let’s say, like, the first year doing that. So basically the idea is like, I want to dip my toe in the water as far as seeing what I look like on stage after a very short time, like in that realm.
So I started that in 2017. And then within that same year, like in 2018, I did a series of competitions. So I went from, like, 220 up to right around 250. And that was still like, not a particularly great or lean 250. It was just kind of like a watery 15% to 20% body fat didn’t really have a lot of the knowledge or proper influence at that time. But just everything in my life kind of came together where it was like, okay, financially and also just like, relationship wise and stability wise in my life, it was the time to really buckle down and pursue bodybuilding.
So we had mentioned before we got on here, like, did I start off with the goal of saying, like, okay, I’m going to be Mr. Olympia or I’m going to win this show or that show. And it’s always just been one step at a time. I always believed if with enough work and enough time that I could be a pro bodybuilder. So I think that’s a goal that as long as you have reasonable genetics, if you put in enough work and enough time, it’s possible you just need to have the right level of knowledge, the right level of effort and just consistency over decades.
So anyway, in 2018, I answered a few local competitions just to kind of see what is the overall shape and just like, structure that I’m working with as kind of like a light heavyweight. So that’s, like, middle of the road. As far as weight classes go, it’s too light for a pro bodybuilder. So I’m 511. And when you look at guys on the IFV pro stage at 511 and these guys are at least £250 on stage, maybe they could get away with, like, 240 if they have just a really good structure.
So I knew at that point that like, okay, this is not a physique that I’m going to turn pro with. But let’s just see what the feedback is. Let’s see if it’s worth making the investment that it would take to even get to that pro level. So in 2018 I did my first open show, and by open, I mean, like, not a teenage show. So I competed previously as a teenager on the Mr. Rochester teen division, the first show that I did as a light heavyweight, I won the light heavyweight class.
Feedback was kind of like, hey, you’re not missing anything. You just need to put on more size. And then I did a few shows just in the weeks following that. And like, whether I got worse, the other people got better, my placings were worse and worse as the shows went on. So the very last show that I did in 2018, I was actually dead last in my class. I think that was like, fifth or 6th, and I basically set the goal of, like, okay, they said, I’m not missing anything.
I just need to put on more muscle. Pretty straightforward. What does that look like? As I mentioned, the guys at my height that are pros, they’re right around 250 ish on stage, right around 300 ish in the off season. So I said, all right, objectively to meet that standard. Now that I’ve been told like, hey, you have the potential to do this. You just need more horsepower, like, you just need a bigger chassis or bigger engine. Whatever you want to call it, it’s relatively simple. That’s something that you can change.
It takes a tremendous amount of work. It takes additional knowledge. It takes resources. But it’s achievable if you say I want to be in the NBA and you’re five foot two, it’s just like you don’t have the cards, right? So you want to know right off the bat that you have the potential to do it. So once I knew that we’re just kind of off to the races. So that was 2018. I basically set a two year goal of getting to 300 under 15% body fat on a Ducks to scan in the off season.
I accomplished that even earlier than I expected. So about a year and a half later, I did a taxi scan. I was 300 at 11.5% body fat and had some, really, like, catastrophic back injuries following that, possibly because of just how rapidly I put on that size and any number of other factors that you can get into. But I ended up starting this contest prep at £260 at 20% body fat. So I went from 311.5%, basically came off the drugs, worked on just recovering health, and went on vacation beforehand.
And this is just, like, a completely unenhanced, relatively pain free version in the aftermath. So the dust has settled. And this is kind of what we’re left with as a starting place. And then you have to have that confidence in the science and in the experience of your coaches. That sounds like, look, if I was that size before that muscle memory, those myonuclear that’s there. So that muscle is going to come back as soon as we add back in the proper environment and stimulus to do so, we started the diet at 260, like fat 260.
And then I ended up competing at about 245. And for reference, a lot of people say, what body fat are you out on stage which nobody knows, and you couldn’t even measure, even with the best devices out there, whether it be Daxa, ultrasound, MRI, what have you but you’re talking about something in the low, single digits, maybe 3%. So we actually ended up doing a 30 week contest prep for the original show that I was going to do. We ended up sort of postponing for a number of personal reasons, like with my coach, and we picked back up, decided on the Olympia down in Orlando, and it went from like a fat 260 to just obviously a contest lean 245 in about a 30 week time span.
So in total, 23 minutes after asking the question, I did my first competition as a teenager on stage at 180, and I did my last competition at 245, considerably leaner than I was on stage then had I died, it was down from 300. You just kind of do the math, you say. Okay, we’ll just call it 10% of that body fat you have to lose probably end up somewhere in that 260 to 70 range. So the goal right now is to get back up to 300, but to be even leaner and most importantly, healthier than I was.
So my goal on paper right now, as it’s written, is 300 under 70. Mm. So we measure skin folds primarily. I do the taxes scan as more of like, hey, on paper, I can prove that I was there when people ask how big 20 years from now, when I see me on the street and I walk up to me and I say, I used to look like you and he’s like, no, you fucking didn’t. I’ll just keep that paper in my back pocket. I’ll just keep the Ducks.
Can I pull it up on my little virtual whatever the fuck you’re dealing with 20 years from now, and I’ll just have that virtual scan, Daxa scan and be like, no little Ethan. I really did that because I can’t tell you the number of homeless people that come up to you on the street. Nice to look like you pull ups is what you got to do.
James Cerbie: Yes. In the park.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: So many people, it makes me think two things, like, okay, either these people are really crazy or I’m really fucked in, like, 30 years from now. This is where the body doesn’t get you. There were a lot of Jack people living underneath that bridge at one point, and over the years, they lost their gym memberships. Yeah, it’s a pretty universal thing.
James Cerbie: We said to send Ethan to earlier Kentucky so that he can get lat posed and flexed on by some, like, really skinny rednecks and phenomenal mullets for a training camp and rhymes getting trolled left and right everywhere we went.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: Yes, I think I’m the appropriate size to troll. I feel like people are pretty comfortable trolling me. I don’t know. Once you get up to Ethan size, it might just be like, just keep their head down.
James Cerbie: Just stay quiet or you’re Lexner, and you’re just 65 and you kind of have that Boston, Massachusetts, put off his vibe a little bit.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: Yeah, he probably didn’t get as much of that as I do, but I appreciate it.
James Cerbie: Yeah, it was phenomenal.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: So just kind of like a recap. You started lifting probably somewhere around ten years old. It was just some kind of haze of cement weights and protein shakes at that time, somewhere around ten years old and then competing at 180 at the end of high school, right. Like, senior year that was in College or freshman year College. That was actually freshman year College, freshman year College. And I know that because I’ve seen Ethan is also not only an IFBB pro, but would have been, like, the December 2010 of the week on Bodybuilding.
Ethan Grossman: I think I can screen share here, right? I think I have that figured out. Just Google my name, and that’s what nothing comes up from the Olympia. But every picture of me is in my boxers, like in the gym. I was telling you about what I built. Oh, you’re actually on the site.
James Cerbie: I am. There you go.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: There it is.
Ethan Grossman: October 2 up now as someone gives them, like a referral for this personal trainer. This is still to this day who they think that I am.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: This would be like.
James Cerbie: The only thing, this is the number one search in Google for Ethan. That is wonderful.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: It is really crazy to see that, though, because you were pretty jacked at that age. That’s like you’re well above the Bell curve at that age. But seeing where you’re at now is pretty insane. But you obviously have the foundation back then.
James Cerbie: Any pictures from the Olympia showdown in Florida, we could pull up for a frame of reference.
Ethan Grossman: Yeah. If I send them to your email, will that work?
James Cerbie: Yeah. If you ping them on to my email, I can pull it up.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: I think it would be cool, like, on this topic, because I would bet a lot of these things that got you to this level that you got to over this last season, getting up to 300, coming back down to getting to the mid two forties on stage. That didn’t all happen over the last two years. And specifically, what I’m talking about is more like the habits that you built, getting into, doing all the things you need to do to get into that position. Right. So a lot of that stuff I think happened around that amateur of the month bodybuy dot com time.
Right. So what does that look like for you? We can even take it just like training and then maybe nutrition, but or just like, an overall psyche. I guess we’ve talked about this a lot and that you and I both came up reading all the bodybuilding magazines subscribed to Muscle Development, reading Flex Magazine, watching the videos, the DVDs at that time of these professional bodybuilders. And I think there was this idea that there was no deviation from the plan whatsoever. If you were going to eat eight times a day, you were going to eat eight times a day.
And if you had to train twice a day, you’re going to do that every day. And there was no question about any of this stuff. And I think we both know that that’s not really what’s required, necessarily. But there’s something about that psyche that creates success in the long run. So I don’t know how you want to approach that if you want to just talk about it from, like, a training perspective, what’s it like at that time, like when you’re going to train, what does that mean to you?
How do you structure your day and if that’s changed at all and just kind of the overriding theme of just developing this discipline, essentially because that’s really what it is, the ability to plan, which I know that you’re among the best of anyone that I’ve ever seen with that. So if you try to speak to that a little bit, that’d be cool.
James Cerbie: I got these pictures. I’m going to pull these up super fast.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: Yeah.
Ethan Grossman: So the first thing I sent you was the Instagram link to my coaches that actually gives you a nice kind of timeline from those early days, like bodybuilding.com pictures, so you can see things next to each other. And also it just follows basically what I laid out for you with the off season to the injury. So that’s on the left there that’s the bodybuilding com, 19 years old, I guess in that picture.
James Cerbie: Yeah. And then this is down in Florida. What about eight weeks ago?
Ethan Grossman: That’s right. And then if you scroll to the right, let’s see what the next one is. Yeah. That’s just a zoomed in version of the 19 year old. Okay. So that’s 2018, that’s the off season.
James Cerbie: Is this somewhere in that ballpark of 300, that’s 300.
Ethan Grossman: So the last one was a little light heavyweight, so I would have been about £198 on stage in the previous one. This is post injury. So the picture you were just on was 300 lbs at, like, 11%. And then I think the next one, the one we were just looking at where I’m all crooked. That was basically how I was walking around on a daily basis, just literally like that side. Then that was me actually showing up to work. So there was a time during that period where I couldn’t walk.
The Spectrum for How a Pro Bodybuilder May Look on Stage Versus How They Look at the Peak of their Raw Season
I mean, at that point, my wife was trusting me, helping me get through the day just with little things, like getting the shoes on and literally still training during that period. But after all that, this is kind of where I ended up in the last picture we were looking at at 260 20% body fat. And then this was 30 weeks later. So my coach just wanted to post that up just to show people just kind of like we were talking about before with the whole muscle memory thing and how you look in the mirror.
Any one day may not be representative of what your true potential is. And it’s nice for people to see just how broad a spectrum it can be from how a pro bodybuilder may look on stage versus how they may look in the peak of the raw season or at their absolute worst, there’s just such a huge difference between them. And it just really paints the picture. I think how Ryan and I Ryan’s point about mindset kind of looks at things where when I’m taking pictures for Alex, I’m not looking at the picture subjectively and analyzing.
Do I like what I see in the mirror? I don’t think the body of a pro body Boulder. When we were first picking up those Flex and Mustard Velocity magazines, I didn’t think it’s like an attractive physique or something to aspire to because I admire it from an artistic standpoint. I think there are lots of people out there that do that. There’s something wrong with that. But because Ryan and I grew up in an era where Ronnie Coleman was Mr. Olympia and Jay Cutler was Mr, Olympia.
James Cerbie: We got other ones that you shared. Also, I can pull up.
Ethan Grossman: Yes, you don’t look at those physiques and think like that’s how I want to look, because it’s pretty. What happens is you see the process of what they went through to get there, and it’s almost cool because I think if you started lifting in maybe the 70s and 80s, you looked at physiques that were really pretty and they were something that you could aspire to just from an artistic or even the standpoint of, like, just wanted to pick up chicks or whatever. There was that idea of, like, the skinny, weakling.
And this is what you want to look like because there’s some value just in that as an image. And at least for myself, like, it was never about creating an actual physique or a particular look. I’m going to look, however, I’m going to look with added muscle. I don’t particularly control the guys who have very, quote, unquote, aesthetic and pretty physiques, that’s just how they’re going to look like a guy like Frank Zane, who is known as one of the most aesthetic physiques of all time.
If he could have been more muscular, he would have been. His nickname was The Chemist, which literally tells you a little bit about how hard he pushed that side of things to try to get bigger. What happens a lot of times, in retrospect, is people act like what they did to get their product, that result. It’s like, oh, my calves got this big because I did X, Y and Z as a kid, and they really just pay very little. They give very little, like, attention to the other things, whether it be genetics or early environment.
They had no control over who put them there. And I think when you look at it objectively, it’s like there are things that are in your own hands to change. And there are things like we talked about earlier that are just fixed. So your shape, for the most part, is going to be your shape. And you’re not truly sculpting, you’re mostly just adding clay on top of it. So it was more of a process of, like, you don’t know what the end result is going to look like.
You don’t know if it’s going to be really pretty and aesthetic and shapely, or if you’re just going to be a big refrigerator. But you put 1ft in front of the other and you take five steps and you look in the mirror. You take a picture, you step on stage, you see how it looks. You take another five steps. And for some people, they just keep stopping until they’re Mr. Olympia, and for other people, they stop until their last place in the natural Mr. Idaho classic or whatever.
But either way, it’s the same journey. And I think along the way, you just use the tools and resources that solve the problem ahead of you. And it’s no different for, like, any endeavor in life. If you have a business, it’s the same way you start off with something that you believe is going to make a positive impact on yourself or others around you, and you solve a problem. And then eventually you’re presented with another problem and you solve that. And you have some sort of vague idea of the direction you want to move in.
And you’re always sort of orienting yourself in that direction. But you don’t know along the way what problems are going to come up and you’re going to have to solve or ultimately, what potential you have or even what you’re going to want. When you get to that place, you may find ten years down the line that what you wanted as a teenager is not the same thing that you wanted as an adult. So it’s simply just like, I think people look at Ryan, and I think we had this very clear vision of exactly what we were going to be 20 years down the line when in reality, we saw other people doing that process, we enjoyed it.
We oriented ourselves in a particular direction, and then we just problem solved along the way and where we are now is just a kind of amalgam of all those individual steps and individual problems that we solved to find ourselves here.
James Cerbie: Yeah, I like that a lot. I mean, I think from a logistical standpoint, like, as you mentioned, that’s the approach to anything that you’re going to do in life, if you want to be successful at that thing, you just continuously solve what’s the next problem? What’s the next domino that I need to knock over? And your capacity to be focused on those things is what I think really holding back and hurting and limiting people because they don’t do a good job of actually shaving down on what that thing is.
They’re trying to do 17 things at once. You can’t solve 17 problems at once. You have to figure out what is the one problem that needs to be solved. The biggest thing is going to give me an actual ROI on the investment I’m going to be putting in here.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: It’s so huge. I think even just from the beginning of your story, like, your first experience with weightlifting was shit that you bought yourself. How did you buy that stuff? You got a fucking job if ten years old, you know what I mean? I feel like you’re able to do that. It’s so automatic that it’s like, okay, well, I want to start lifting. I don’t have any weights. Honestly, I think that it sounds really intuitive to us maybe. But there’s a lot of people that get hung up on that shit.
We’re just like, oh, I can’t do that. I don’t live by a gym. It’s like, okay, I have no way to get into the gym. I don’t have a car. I remember riding my bike in the winter to the gym. I got to high school. It’s not going to be all that comfortable. You got to work out in a basement. You got to fuck it here. So I think just things like learning how to just identify problems. You’ve become really, really good at it. And that’s the first thing.
And just understanding that these things are going to pop up, it’s never going to be a smooth trip. I don’t think your last prep could have been any crazier, really, in a lot of ways. But you stayed so even throughout. So I’m curious if there’s, like, how did you develop that? Is that something you think that was innate to you as an individual? Or is that something that you had to develop consciously?
Success and Understanding There’s Going to be Some Level of Discomfort
Ethan Grossman: No, I don’t think it was developed consciously. I think it was the environment that I was put in for better or for worse. At times, I work, like I said, in Manhattan, and a lot of my clients are really successful from a wealth standpoint. And I really enjoy talking to them about their journeys as well. And what they think are the factors that influence them. What are the behaviors and habits that they have? And one of the big things that you actually find is ultimately what makes most of us successful is that it’s sort of this greatest strength is our greatest weakness kind of situation where there’s some type of compensation that you’re making early on.
There’s some discomfort ultimately, like we said, it starts with steps. The steps are movement. And it’s like, how do you create movement? Well, you have to have some degree of asymmetry, you have to have some degree of discomfort. You have to have an impetus to move. How do you create that impetus to move? And most people aren’t. We’re not going to purposely make ourselves uncomfortable typically, until you learn later on in life that doing that can actually be advantageous. But early on, a lot of people are faced, I think, with uncomfortable situations, and they’re forced to create strategies to cope with that.
And I was talking to one of my clients the other day, who is the founder of one of the biggest companies in the US. And he’s gay. And he was telling me about how he was just on vacation on an island over Thanksgiving, and 40 of his gay friends were also there. And this is an island that basically only people with, like, $100 million in up vacation on. And 40 of his closest friends were all there. He didn’t invite them. He didn’t fly them out there.
They just all happened to me hanging out there and they had dinner together on Thanksgiving. So all 40 of these guys were not with their families on Thanksgiving. They’re all worth tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars or billions of dollars. And they’re all in this one place. And I said I’m like, Well, why do you think if you live in Manhattan long enough, you realize the city is mostly run by gay guys and Jewish guys, and it’s actually a really small population overall. And if you read the book outliers, it tells you a little bit about how the Jewish population got there.
But you don’t hear as much about the gay population. I would say, like, probably a large majority of my male clients are actually gay as well. And I said to him, Why do you think there are just so many successful gay people in Manhattan? And immediately when you ask people in his position, because I’ve asked similar questions to several of my clients, they’re just all compensation, like 100%. We just dealt with a lot of discomfort, a lot of trials as children, and we had to create strategies to deal with that discomfort and to compensate for it.
And a lot of these guys compensated with achievement. So I think for better or for worse, because there are times. And though a lot of these guys will also tell you, yes, a lot of us have achieved great things, but we still don’t necessarily have that level of life contentment, and it shows in their relationships it shows in their ability to just sort of self-regulate and just deal with change, deal with stress, deal with uncertainty. See that crop up a lot. And our clients are very wealthy and successful.
On one hand, when they’re faced with uncertainty from different stressor, you can very quickly see that child come out. You can very easily see that expression of fear, the inability to self-regulate and all of those, sort of, like, primal stress patterns reveal themselves. So my point is that very early on, I think we’re exposed to a set of stressors and the strategies that we pick to deal with those stressors, that stress ultimately shapes what we choose to do as a career. And that can be a very selfish thing.
I think no one would argue that bodybuilding has a large component of selfishness to it, or it could be a very selfless thing. My wife works with sick kids in the hospital and brings, like, summer camp programming to them. So both sides of the spectrum. But knowing her and knowing her friends and knowing people like Ryan and myself, we’re all just trying to use strategies that we learned very early on to help self-regulate our biology and for myself, that may be through organization, through planning, through controlling my environment.
And all of those strategies are very positive. As a bodybuilder. On the flip side, that can’t be your only strategy, because as soon as you step outside of that realm. And you’re faced with novel stressors where that strategy is no longer optimal or no longer conducive, and it can actually lead to sort of compatible patterns of behavior. Then you have to expand yourself again. So that’s kind of like the stage I’m at now is just realizing, like, okay, the things that Ryan is talking about that are so positive in getting me to where I am today.
I always have them, and I resort to them under stress. Now the trick is like, how can you use those strategies when they’re useful and then also have the degree of variability and the ability to swing not just back and forth between high and low, but find a middle ground where you can just be human for a bit and regulate yourself without these really high threshold strategies just in normal day to day life. And I think, like I said early on, for me, bodybuilding was a tour or an Avenue to really make myself a better person.
And I try to share that with the people around me and with people that ask me about becoming a bodybuilder or this path. I try to express that to them because I think it’s been a very positive influence on my life. But if you just simply use it as a means to a better physique, you can really miss out when you look at a lot of these great bodybuilders over the years, most of the Mr. Olympias have gone on to be very successful in business and other ventures afterwards.
And I think not only can you use it to be more successful at a very sympathetic sort of endeavor, like running a business, which is very akin to bodybuilding. But for me, the path now is like, how can I also learn better self regulation and a better ability to communicate with others and to share and to be kind and give back to others? And how do you sort of like, use bodybuilding, as we’ll say, almost like an excuse to get better at that stuff, too, because you come to a point where you’re like, okay, I know how to turn on.
I know how to dial in, I know how to get that tunnel vision and to execute tasks when things are laid out in a very linear and structured format. But then how do you shut that off? Relax and spend time with loved ones and friends and put yourself in a mental and emotional state that’s conducive to recovery. So you can kind of give the excuse of like, I’m trying to be a nicer, better person so that I can recover better for bodybuilding. But it’s like a lie.
It’s like you just want to be a better person because you want to live a better life. The end goal is you just want to live a happy life and that’s like what all of us are trying to get to. But sometimes if you just frame
it as like, hey, the goal is to be Mr. Olympia, what have you and you say, okay, the thing that’s holding you back from this right now is you need to be able to switch States. You can’t be on all the time.
Weeding Out Unproductive Behaviors
And not only does being in that sympathetic state and that very structured environment end up being not conducive to things outside of the sport at times, but also what happens is you end up wasting a lot of time if you stay in that state all the time, because a lot of things aren’t important to your point. James, you can only focus on so many things at a given time. And what I find even with my very successful clients, is they end up wasting so much time trying to structure things and organize things in a way that makes them feel safe.
But it’s not necessarily conducive to moving the ball down the court, especially when it comes to things that are outside of exactly the specific realm they’ve trained themselves to do. So I think it’s very important to sort of weed out the unproductive behaviors in your life. And if you have a really specific goal, the only way you’re going to one survive emotionally or psychologically long enough to get there is by inhibiting some of these stress responses and some of these self-regulating behaviors and finding better strategies.
And also the only way you’re going to get there from a productivity standpoint if you’re trying to do multiple things at once is to weed out unproductive behaviors and to have enough interception and enough ability to just analyze your behaviors to say, like, okay, I know in the moment it feels like this is what I need to do. But is it actually moving me forward and that’s something nowadays that definitely occupies my mind a lot of the time as I can work hard, but what to work hard at at any given moment can be difficult to decide and also to inhibit.
We have so many options. And I think that’s, like, a big problem in this day and age is we’re just faced with all these different inputs all the time in deciding which inputs to let into your life is literally who you are. You can select what you do with your time, and you don’t have that much control over anything else other than that, simply, you are what you do with your time. You are your thoughts, and the behavior that you express and manifest via those thoughts is who you are.
So choosing what to do with your time is one of the most important things that you can do. And because there are so many damn options in this day and age, I think it’s one of the paramount questions that we face in every moment, right?
James Cerbie: Do you want to take a stab and pay you back on that? That was gold. I thought that was fantastic.
Choosing What to do with Your Time and Eliminating Distractions
Ryan L’Ecuyer: Yeah. I think it’s just one of the things that I’ve recognized in Ethan is just how good he is at eliminating distractions. And that’s something that he’s helped me a lot with indirectly, not something we’ve really talked about all that much, but just watching him and you as well. James, you’re the same way, just very unemotional about just figuring out what needs to be done and not getting distracted by other bullshit. That’s really challenging, man. I think that’s something that people don’t even realize how bad they are at.
For the most part, I’m at like the conscious, incompetence phase of that right now. That’s something I do have trouble with and getting much better with. But watching guys like you guys take that on is really cool.
James Cerbie: You have a lot of thoughts in this room, spend a lot of time thinking about. I’m sure what Ethan is talking about, because I think it is so massively important for your capacity to do fucking anything in life. Well, like I had this long thought yesterday. I was on a long, like a bunch of trails right over by the house. I went like an hour long rock yesterday, and I thought a lot about the concept of normalcy, and I’m like the last thing in life I want to be considered as fucking normal.
I do not want to be normal. I hate the concept of being normal, and I think that then spoke wheels out into everything that Ethan is talking about, your capacity to remove things from your life that are not actually moving you forward, right? That via negative, a concept that I’m blanking on his name.
Ethan Grossman: Right now.
James Cerbie: The guy that wrote anti fragile and randomness Nassim Taleb talks about that a lot in his writings. I think it’s incredibly important. You need to be ruthless and need to cut a lot of things out of your life because the downside to how things are structured nowadays is everybody else wants to tell you what should be important for you. That’s what texting is. That’s what email is. That’s what social media is. Everybody else is trying to essentially influence and set your agenda for you, which is bullshit. It is very hard to get in touch with me intentionally, like my phone lives on.
Do not disturb. I don’t hardly ever check my email. It gets funneled through a particular process. I feel like everybody is trying to do more, and I am perpetually in the process of trying to do less and less. I’m trying to simplify everything down as much as I can, so I can devote as much time, effort and energy into a few things that actually really matter for me and for my family. But I think that people struggle with that a lot, and that’s where it takes time.
It takes practice. It takes a lot of reflection that you have to build time and to plan and think about things. The point you made, I think, is so important. And nowadays people lose. This is because they just start working on shit. They just work. It’s just work, work, work, work, work, work, work. I don’t work on anything until I have spent a lot of time determined that’s the direction I want to go in. I probably spend more time planning than actually, the execution is easy. Once I’ve made up my mind on this is the direction we need to go in.
The issue is people don’t do that. They just start doing all these different things. And it’s just the shotgun blast of hard work. And yes, there’s some semblance of luck to be involved with that. If I just work hard on a lot of things, like, who knows, if I stir the pot up, what’s going to come out. But you need to be very intentional. I have no interest in working hard on anything until I’ve taken the time to determine that that thing is worth working hard on.
And I think that this conversation is mandatory across the board and everything you’re going to do in your relationships, in life, in your profession and your business and training. And I think if you suck at doing this, which most humans do, this is the value of having a coach, if not a coach, at least an outside, unbiased third party observer who can be a sounding board in this realm. For you, it can be a good friend, it can be a training partner, it can be a business partner, whatever it is, that’s a lot of times the value in those relationships is because they can look at it from that unbiased perspective that you can’t have.
That’s where your coach is so important to me. Like, if you truly care about any outcome and something in life, I think it’s worth having a coach in that realm just because they’re the ones that are going to really help trim the fat down and get you to focus on the things that matter, because when left on our own, we’re going to Shiny Object Syndrome ourselves to death, probably. And it’s like, I think this is a realm where people need to spend way more time than just reading and thinking.
Ethan Grossman: I’m sure people tune in to this podcast if, like, the title says anything about bodybuilding or muscle building, and they just want to fast forward until they get to the part about training and program design, nutrition. What have you? And it’s funny because I don’t do a lot of podcasts purposely for the reasons we were just talking about. But when I do, I would say 90% of it just ends up kind of being in this realm. And the reality is that’s actually what’s important. I know people kind of want to skip over that, but the reason why it’s what I talk about most of the time is because it’s actually what I think about most of the time.
And to be fair, it’s what I think about now. And if you interviewed a version of me ten years ago, it would be similar, but not exactly the same. So I’m reflecting from a certain vantage point, and that has its advantages and disadvantages as well, because you don’t want to know what an athlete’s training program is necessarily when they’re in the NBA. You might have wanted to know what that was in high school or how they got there. Right.
So in some ways, I am trying to reflect and give you a perspective from where I was. But I can only look at the vantage point that I have now. But yeah, I think a couple of things there and then we can definitely move away from this if you want to just get into some just like, straightforward, quick, rapid fire Q and a stuff on training and whatnot also the ability. I think for me now, having developed that ability to plan and also really in an intrinsic desire and almost like, there’s a certain pinpoint associated with not doing that because I’ve been rewarded for that behavior.
I think now the trick is actually inhibiting the need to do that at times because it’s not always productive. Like, yes, it’s planning as a strategy and reflecting as a strategy and being able to sort of organize things in a way where you feel in control is a strategy and not feeling a lot of people that have been successful at anything. Say what you said, James, about not wanting to be normal, which is clearly pathological. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, like in a good way.
But I mean, pathological just means different than the norm. So by definition, it is pathological. So something had to happen to create that desire, and it brings a lot of good things to our lives. But everything that’s good, much like if you follow the comics, everything that’s good has a downside.
Thought Process Behind Potential Superpowers
And you’ll notice when I talk, I just go on sort of like tangents that last 15 minutes because I’ll think of something else as I’m talking. But I promise I’ll circle back, like, in your intake form for the podcast, you had one of these standard grand finale questions of like, if you could be if you could have any superpower, what would it be whenever I listen to podcasts they always finish with like, okay, now the final question is if you could be a shoe, that kind of stuff.
And I was like, Fuck, if I have to answer this stuff live, I’m just going to totally draw a blank because I am a planner, and I am someone who likes to really think about that answer and give you something that’s just not generic off the cough and the first thing that comes to mind. So I was actually walking the dog when I was filling out that form with my wife. And I did probably take about ten minutes just to kind of go through the thought process and sort of like it’s like when I’m ordering food at a restaurant, I just start, but not with what I want, but just by crossing out things that I definitely don’t want.
So I started thinking about the different superheroes and different potential superpowers. And I kind of start with the notion of, like, okay, you probably either want to help as many people as possible with this superpower, or have it be something that allowed you to live the happiest possible life that you could, right? Like I said, that’s kind of like the end goal for all of us, and that either comes through our own personal combination between achievement and fulfillment. And part of that is just being able to help other people.
That’s kind of the endpoint. So I thought, okay, maybe you’d have this superpower where you could heal other people. But that’s super problematic, because if you’re not also have superhuman strength or some type of ability to defend yourself, like, you’re just going to be detained and basically used for not being able to help anyone. Your life’s going to suck like you’re just going to be in a cell, and rich people are just going to basically rape you. So that was out.
James Cerbie: And then I’m going to pause just 1 second here because I love how I stopped into this because actually, I’ve never asked that question. Live it’s more there, like, I’ll pull it up. I’m like, man, we’re struggling. Let’s see if we can use it as a conversation starter. But I love the amount of thought that went into this because most people are just, like, slighter strength. It’s just like, I want to fly or I want to be strong. It’s one of the two, usually immediately. But I love the thought process here. It’s great.
Ethan Grossman: That’s the problem. That is my whole point. It’s good, and it’s bad, right? Is it really productive? But actually, like this thought process, I think it was really useful. And I asked the question to, like, several clients and tried to get people’s perspective. And I feel pretty confident in the answer that I settled on, but I would love to hear a better one. I’m sure there is a better one out there, but did we end up rerecording again?
James Cerbie: We’ve been recording the whole time.
Ethan Grossman: And then I’m like, all right, well, maybe it’s like the ability to influence people because a big part of what makes us happy is our relationships and part of achievement. The primary part of achievement, really, as human beings, is your influence on other people, your ability to communicate. But the problem with that is you also don’t want to be wiped by everyone. You don’t want to be correct every time. That’s not a positive environment to be in. Like, you want to be able to struggle. You want to be wrong.
You want people to be honest with you. So that’s problematic as well. And when I think about setting goals and I think about sort of, like, the primary components that sort of make up a person’s life. And to your point about asking this question as kind of just like a space filler. If the conversation loses momentum. If I’m with a client, I have like, I think five things that I sort of cycle through in my head with a new client. If we just don’t have much to talk about, don’t have common ground on anything, or when I get done with sessions, I always record these things.
I run through them really quickly, either during the session or afterwards. And I just say in my head, has anyone told me today about any of these, like, five areas and they’re in order of what I think is important as far as just your overall quality of life. And the first one is your health. I think that really is the foundation of your quality of life, just meaning, like number one, if you’re dead, you are, by definition, not living. Therefore, you cannot live your best life and also your ability again, to self regulate, to deal with the environment, to interact with other people, form good relationships.
Your Internal Chemistry and Ability to Deal with Stressors
A lot of that is due to your internal chemistry and your ability to deal with the stressors both conscious and unconscious in your environment and in communicating and forming relationships with others. I believe in health, and that’s a very broad category of what falls under that. That’s number one, number two is your relationships. Number three is your hobby, your passion. Number four is your job, which hopefully is also your hobby and your passion. And then lastly, your environment, where do you live? Do you like being near the ocean?
Do you like being in the Woods? Like, where do you train? You have the right equipment. So I also put that last in my hierarchy of training of, like, mindset training, nutrition recovery, chemistry and environment environment being that last thing of like, a lot of people say, well, if I just had this equipment, if I just trained at this gym or if I just lived in this place or if I was just around these people, that’s all your environment. That’s the least important thing about who you are.
So after a session, somebody might say, oh, my digestion is I’m not sleeping as well as I should have been because of my newborn. Okay, that’s under the category of health, they might say, like, oh, I’m going on a trip to Vegas next week. That’s their environment so you can pretty much always fit something like the topics that people talk about into, like, one of those five things when they’re talking about themselves. But the important thing is that they go in a hierarchy. So for me, health is first on the hierarchy.
So in terms of superpowers, it kind of comes back to that because I feel like Wolverine kind of has the best superpower, which is that he has superhuman healing. I don’t think you want to live forever, and it’s kind of debatable whether Wolverine does or does not live forever. But I think the ability to have sort of perfect health until you die would probably be the best case scenario, because even if you could fly, you would die on your first flight as soon as a bird hits you.
There’s no way you’re going to survive that. So that’s just stupid. I don’t know. Even if you could travel through space and time like you’d probably die going through a black hole. So that’s also what people want to transport. I don’t know all of these superpowers, even if you have superhuman strength. I mean, I can attest that. I was pretty strong and it just got me more hurt, the more training to be. So imagine you could lift a car like, imagine what would happen to your joints if you actually did have that level of strength, literally every single one of these superpowers, for the most part, you couldn’t even handle without the help to do it.
And I just think living to old age and just always being able to keep that level of youthfulness and being able to pursue anything you wanted to without any limiters. And if you wanted to fly, you could jump out of a plane or get shot by a Cannon. You could literally do anything without consequence. I think you still want pain. You still want to feel pain, but at the end of the day, you know, there’s no real consequence
it. So you’re virtually invincible. So yeah, that’s what I went with superhuman healing, because you would also obviously be Mr, Olympia, because you could just train your ass off. The point is it’s more about limiting downside than it is about creating upside. And I think that’s really important, like when it comes to say body building where anyone’s at, but especially where Ryan and I are at right now, it’s mostly about limiting downside. So like I said, my primary goal right now is just to get to 370. Mm. But I never quite finished the rest of that goal, which was with no orthopedic discomfort and no sleep apnea.
So in quotations underneath that, I say at 300 pounds, I want to be able to sit on the toilet and not be able to pinch a roll of fat. Anyone who’s ever died for a show who’s ever died down really far knows that when you sit down on the toilet, you can pretty much always grab fat on your stomach until you’re right near the end of contest properties, you got to be very lean to sit down and only grab four skin on your stomach at a different level.
So I want to be able to sit down and not grab a chunk of fat. Usually, my goals are there’s always some level of clear objectivity. There’s a millimeter marker there. That’s a level of fatness. But where I’m at right now, it’s really about decreasing the downside. Like I said, it’s really about health. And I know I can put on muscle at this point. The problem actually is putting it on too fast most of the time, like getting too heavy, whether that be fat muscle, whatever the downside takes so much more off than the upside adds on.
So if I get too heavy too fast, there’s issues orthopedically, there’s issues with sleep, there’s issues with health. As far as blood chemistry, as far as things like insulin sensitivity goes, there’s just so much more downside to pushing on the edge of the cliff than there is to upside. Then there is upside to being at that level. So when you are someone who sort of naturally is uncomfortable with being normal, like you say, mostly, what you’re doing is protecting against downside. So mostly what you need a coach for to your point is to limit your downside.
So a lot of times clients will ask me about buying a particular device or doing a particular type of diet or supplement or whatever. And what they’re actually saying is, I’m going to do this anyway, just give me permission to do it right. They’re not really asking me. So they get upset when I tell them, no, that’s stupid. Like I’ve been doing this for 20 years. And of course, that’s not depending on what state I’m in. Again, health first, like, if I’m three weeks out for a contest, it may just be as blunt as that.
No, that’s stupid. Don’t bother. But in the right state, in the right frame of mind, there’s a little bit more listening, a little bit more back and forth that goes on. But the moral is that they want to add behaviors on, even if those behaviors aren’t necessarily the core principles that are going to move them forward, it’s their distractions. One of my favorite things that can happen with the coach. And I have a list of people that I basically consult with in various areas and then sort of like one head coach at this time that oversees everything, a guy named Alex Keekel.
And I feel like if there’s something that I can do to get better, I am doing a disservice if I don’t at least investigate that thing. And that’s problematic because like we said, you only have so much time and you really need to focus your energy on the rocks, the big rocks that are going to provide the most bang for their buck. And really, the people that are successful in any endeavor are mostly just focusing on those things, like, literally just the simplest foundational rocks. And they’re just going back to the drawing board and just day in and day out getting better at those things.
So all the little pebbles, all the shingles on the roof, whatever you want to call it, sprinkles on the cake, all those things really aren’t what makes the people at the top successful. So it’s being able to sort out what my big rocks are. And that’s like, really where a coach comes into play, whether through knowledge or through experience. So when my coach says to me, no, Ethan, don’t do that. And I say, hey, Alex, what do you think about this? And he says, like, That’s not a good use of your time.
It makes me really happy because I don’t even have the time to do it. I just feel like I can’t not pursue it. It’s a pain point for me. It makes me uncomfortable to not at least pursue something that could be advantageous, even though it may not be the thing that I need to focus on at this time. So having a coach tell me, hey, don’t waste your time on this. It’s something that I’ve studied or pursued previously, and it’s not what you need to focus on right now.
That’s a very relieving thing, because I really don’t want to spread myself thin. I really don’t know where I’d fit that into my day, but you sort of have permission to not do something. I think when you’ve sort of trained yourself and you’ve been rewarded for doing more, that’s a really big relief. And that’s a really important thing to have in your life is people who tell you what not to do.
James Cerbie: Yeah. 1000% agreement. The biggest value. The reason you pay money to have a coach is for that reason right there. You’re paying for the knowledge and the know how and their ability to say. Here’s what we’re focusing on and just continually make sure that we’re focused on the things that actually matter right now. Like, all the people that we get a Rebel, they tend to always want lots of different outcomes. I think that part of the reason that we are successful as a coaching staff at Rebel is because we are perpetually, just like, we hack shit left and right.
That’s a lot of what we’re doing is just keeping people from doing dumb things. It’s like, no, we’re not going to do this. That’s stupid thought out. We’re throwing out stuff left and right, and we actually just get them into a simple system where we’re devoting the vast majority of our effort and energy into things that actually matter. And when we do that, you’re like, oh, wow. Look how much progress I’ve made in 12 to 16 weeks. It’s like, yeah, because we stopped doing all this other stupid stuff, and I think that’s part of the problem.
The Rock, Pebble, Sand Analogy
I love the rock pebble sand analogy. I think when people are generally left on their own, like, if you have a jar, right, if you just take a Mason jar, and I want to fill this thing up, a lot of people put sand and pebbles in first, and there’s no room to fit rocks in, right? Like, you got to put a few big rocks you can into there and then put in pebbles, and then the sand goes in last. But most people are going to go in the opposite direction because they’re just over inundated with all the different things they could be doing nowadays, right?
It’s like, no, I think that is fantastic. Ryan, if anything else, will probably wrap this here pretty soon. We’re already at hour and 20 minutes. We don’t really even need to talk, like nuts and bolts training stuff. I think that this has been fantastic.
Understanding Where You’re Getting Your Information
Ryan L’Ecuyer: Yes. I think that most people have the nuts and bolts. Really. They’re not all that fancy. And I think what you need to understand a lot of times is when you’re getting all this information, like, people are trying to sell you something. Right? So the big rocks have already been sold. Like, we know what a lot of those things are. You’re going to get a lot of the little stuff that might matter at some level, maybe at some point. But until you’ve actually figured out what those big rocks are, it’s going to be kind of useless.
So I think if anyone were to take any kind of action steps out of this out of listening to this is figure out what those things are, and then just chop other shit out. Get rid of the noise, man and figure out where your distractions are. I don’t know. For example, I check my Instagram twice a week. There is literally no reason for me to be there more than twice a week. I check my DMs. Is anybody interested in anything? Okay, great. It takes me ten minutes total out of my week.
There’s nothing else for me to gain otherwise. Right? So figure out what those things are, where your distractions may lie and just focus on eliminating things and then building the important things.
James Cerbie: Yeah. I think that’s going to be true in any endeavor. When we’re writing training programs, a lot of it is figuring out where do we naturally need to be focusing our time, effort and energy because I don’t know about you, dude, but when I get people on board and I’m looking at what they’ve been doing, I’m like, sweet mother of God. Like, look at all of this stuff, like, no wonder you’re not getting better. You’re doing everything all the time every day. If we just cut all this stuff down and make it simpler for you, we’re going to be right back on path like, this is exactly where we want to be.
We’re going to start making progress again. But again, that’s a lot easier said than done for a lot of people, because when you’re trying to do it to yourself and you’re in it, you kind of have those Blinders on with your own ego.
Ryan L’Ecuyer: Really?
James Cerbie: Right? Yeah. I love this. It’s been a fantastic conversation. Ethan, my man. Thank you so much for coming on.
Ethan Grossman: Thank you, James.
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