This is an interview I did with a buddy of mine Travis Stoetzel.
I met Travis Stoetzel or “Travis The Tank” as I like to refer to him, at a fitness seminar a few months back. The guy had the build I like to emulate, athletic, muscular, strong, but not a bloated block like most bodybuilders.
So I started talking to “The Tank”, we hit it off and I said I wanted to hit him up with some info to share with my readers, so you should appreciate this NO B. S. approach to getting a jacked body and being strong as hell.
Travis Stoetzel my man thanks for doing this interview man, after seeing you at one of our Fitness meetings i was like “this dude’s a tank I gotta find out his deal lol”maybe you can give us some background on you and your training.
Well I grew up always being around athletics playing everything from soccer, basketball, track, football, baseball, and wrestling. When I got older in high school I narrowed it down to just wrestling, football, and baseball. Then, finally when I got into college, I stuck with football and finished out playing pro ball in some arena leagues as well as playing overseas in Brazil.
My training background really started from the first time I picked up a weight back in 7th grade when I was around the age of 13. I got hooked early because I knew if I was stronger than my opponent, I had a better chance of winning. PLus I wanted to build more muscle to look like Arnold in the movie Predator 😉
As I got older I started to become obsessed with training as I would buy every book, DVD, and program I could find. I was always on the internet reading different websites and watching videos to find out more information. I never missed training sessions as I was the lifter of the year in both high school and college when I was a junior and senior. I was always in the weight room it seemed or out on the track running sprints, working on my speed and explosiveness. I would get crap from my friends a lot of the time because I was always ditching them to go train or run. I thought about it all the time.
When I got out of college, I got my first job as a trainer at a large corporate gym. I was there for about two years before I knew it was time to get out of there and start my own gym. The things I wanted to do in the corporate gym really didn’t fit in too well. Training with tires, sleds, chains, kettlebells, ropes, as well as other “hardcore” training tools just weren’t accepted in the corp “family fitness” arena so I broke away and started my own gym, The Forged Athlete.
Now everything is done “my way” on my terms. My way consists of training very unconventionally with kettlebells, sandbags, ropes, chains, tired, sleds, and tons of different bodyweight movemetns to name a few. Anything that I can use to produce functional results, I use. I do what I know keeps a person athletic, builds strength, conditioning, and power. I base all of my training programs around performance. No matter what your goal may be, I have found that when training for performance, one can accomplish a lot in time.
The style of training I currently use is based around blending different types of effective training modalities together. So, using modalities like kettlebells, sandbags, bodyweight/ gymnastics, Crossfit, strongman, powerlifting, and Olympic lifting pieced together in different ways has proven to get tons of results fast!
I’m a NO EXCUSES type of guy and with anything I do, I always no matter what, want to find a to win. Training is like war and to get the results you want, you have to treat every session as if it were a all out battle.
Check Out Travis’s “Hardcore 100 Videos They Are Awesome!”
Travis Stoetzel can you give me some insight into your gym and the programs you offer.
Well, my gym is real basic and to the point – work your butt off and get things done. It’s real bare bones with just the essentials needed to get strong, athletic, and ripped.
The members I have range form 12 year old athletes up to professional MMA atheltes as well as a few wrestlers looking to make it happen in the next Olympics. I also have lots of “weekend warrior” type guys and gals that train. The bottom line is in order to train at my gym, you’ve got to have some guts and commitment to work hard and stick to it. Any body that has a negative mindset is forbidden through my gym doors. Everything is based around high levels of energy and positive thinking. Being around and training with peoeple like this helps build a strong character and tough mindset overtime.
I take a highly athletic approach to all the different programs we do as with everything we do in my gym is geared towards improving one’s performance no matter if it’s a professional level athlete or just regular adult looking to lose weight. If you improve performance, you’ll improve as a whole.
I love it when new potential members come into the gym for the first time and just look around in awe. They notice there are no treadmills, ellipticals, or pieces of new and shiny machinery around but rather old tires, beat up weights, sleds, kettlebells, dumbbells, sandbags, barbells, and even stones. These are the real tools needed for results!
Most of the programs I design, as discussed above, are mixtures of different modalities blended together. What I tend to focus on are 3-4 week mini cycles in which you have 3-4 different workouts you focus on using and progressing with. After a 3-4 week period of the same workouts, typically your body is pretty beaten downs and ready to recover. So, after 3-4 weeks, I have planned “deload / recovery” weeks that consists on light conditioning / bodyweight work that allows the body to heal up.
Personally for myself, and a few of my serious wrestlers, I may just train solely based off of feel and mood. I’ll do the different things I feel I and my athletes need to work on and just really get after my sessions hard. Sometimes these more “chaotic” type of workout days and weeks improve my overall results better than my actual programmed and planned mini cycles do. But, in the end, I feel this type of training is only needed every once in a while. You should be following some sort of programmed / periodized plan most of the year.
Travis why do you think Wrestlers have such insane muscle and strength. We see so many bodybuilders that look muscular but are useless when it comes to cardio and functional strength. What do you guys do differently?
To be a great wrestler you must have a great balance between relative bodyweight strength, power, agility, flexibility, and mobility.
Wrestling is a bodyweight based sport that’s dependent upon not only great levels of strength and power but also endurance. Being strong and explosive is useless if you lose it after on a few mins of a match. I’ve seen it happen to many wrestlers and in order to be great, you have to be able to be both strong and explosive for a long period of time by being highly overall conditioned.
I remember back when I was wrestling in high school the level of conditioning I had was way out of control! I was never in better shape than I would be during wrestling season because my overall endurance, not just my strength was far more greater because it would determine my overall success. There was no other type of “in shape” than wrestling shape was.
The big difference between a bodybuilder and wrestler comes down to performance. When all you do is lift with weights to grow your muscles, overtime, you’ll lose your overall conditioning and overall athleticism (mobility, flexibility, ect). Another major difference with wrestler and bodybuilders is the different types of movements used in training. Things like jumping, sprinting, and other explosive type movements keep wrestlers highly athletic and properly conditioned. Also, the fact that wrestlers much move around like animals adds to their overall athleticism too. Most bodybuilder skip out on the sprints, jumps, and other explosive type stuff simply because they do not need it.
The facts is that wrestlers just got to be strong all around. No excuses on this. A complete battle ready combat athlete needs to have it all. LEAN and MEAN is the way to be. You can see this is true by looking at the top wrestlers at the college ranks as well as the top MMA athletes of today. You’ll notice they’ve got very little no zero fat, are strong, explosive, and highly athletic. Bodybuilders are mostly just big and ripped. Who would you want to meet down a deserted and dark alley??
How can the average person start adding hardcore strength training and conditioning into their program? I think most people are scared sh*tless to try it, how would say someone who lifts 4-5 times a week add in some cool training?
One of the easiest ways to start adding in “hardcore” types of strength training into their routines is by first, adding in more complex types of bodyweight training. This should be done before ANY other types of serious training is added for the simple fact that one must first master the control of their own bodyweight in order to progress into more serious types of resistance training.
So adding in different types of jumps, hops, skips, and other plyometric movements will help create a more hardcore type of training regime. I would recommend these be added into the workout first, when a person is fresh so they can focus in on being explosive while keeping good form and technique.
Another good way of adding in hardcore training techniques is by adding in animal movements with things like bear crawls, seal walks, crab walks, ect which will help in increasing the seriousness and difficulty of the program. These types of movements can be added at the end of a training workout to aid in improving overall conditioning.
Now, after a person has improved with bodyweight, some other types of ways people can add in hardcore styles of training into their program would be through odd object lifting with sandbags, kegs, rocks, and even kettlebells. Kettlebells can be fairly odd to those that haven’t used them before.
If a person is relatively new to these type of odd movements with kegs, sandbags, ect, they can expect some good levels of strength to be gained simply through the uniqueness of the resistance being placed on the body through the odd objects.
Personally, I love sandbag training mainly because of this fact and also because you can do a ton of different movements with a sandbag. Probably the best way to learn different odd / hardcore movements is through the use of sandbags by doing explosive exercises like cleans, shouldering, push presses, and throws.
Overall, If I was looking for new ways to add “hardcore” training into my program, I would start with bodyweight then move into adding sandbags for sure.
Dude I really appreciate all the info! Any chance you can hook my readers a discount on your program? Hook a brother up!
For sure Rob! I wanted to thank you ad let you know I appreciate you doing this interview with me. I love sharing what I know about training as I hope people will take bits and pieces of what I do and apply it to their own training programs.
For people out there wanting more guidance and coaching that really have a desire to build up a more rugged physique that not only looks ripped and shredded but is also highly athletic and conditioned, I have a full SYSTEM that I have created that one can follow that shows specifically how I’ve blended together the use of bodyweight, kettlebells, and sandbags to help build more muscle, strength, power, and extremely high levels of conditioning.
I wanted to personally thank you Rob and all of your badass readers with a special discount on my system people can take advantage of HERE. I will be straight up and let everyone out there know that this is NOT for the weak minded! My program is for people who are ready to let loose and get after it with a “NO EXCUSES” type of mindset. Rob and I know that in order to get the absolute BEST results possible, you will have to dig in and work hard! There are no magic bullets out there! Just highly effective and proven systems that IF followed correctly, will get you results faster and quicker.
Again, as a token of my extreme appreciation for all of Rob’s friends and followers,
I wanted to hook everyone up with a special discounted offer on my Training System – Bags, Bells, and Bodyweight.
Take advantage of that for a limited time HERE!
As a bonus, Rob has threw in a special report that specifically tailored for hardcore athletes. Check it out!
Thanks again Rob!
Thank you for the interview Travis Stoetzel, this is awesome!