My new interview:
Frank Yang Interview
The one and only Frank Yang, with a body that surpasses Tyler Durden’s, Speaks with Muscle Shred.
Why did you decide to begin training and exercising?
I started to weight train because I wanted to be the fastest man in the world. In fact, I wanted to be faster than a man. When I was a kid I used to be obsessed with cheetahs. I would crawl on the floor in my dad’s office and chase after his employees or hide in my maid’s closest and jump out and leave red stretch marks on her neck when she opened it (she deserved it. She stole my Jurassic Park T-shirt and gave it back to me as a gift).
I hated being a human as a child because we are just so damn slow and weak compared to animals and beasts. In short, I wanted to run the 100 meter dash in 3 seconds because that’s what a cheetah could do.
My road to athleticism officially started in high school when I started to watch basketball on television and was amazed at the athletic ability of NBA players. I thought their abilities came very close to the animal athleticism that I was going after as a child.
I realized that I could never become a real cheetah, so then I started a more humanistic approach to becoming an animal. Instead of watching Animal Planets and reading animal encyclopedias to gain insights to improving the physical body, I started to read bodybuilding, sports, and nutrition magazines.
And then I finally realized that there are scientific methods to getting bigger, faster, and stronger, and that to train like a human with an attitude of a beast is far better than being an actual animal. And I applied some of those methods and began to train in the weight room and was amazed at how fast my body was adapting to them.
This road to enlightenment eventually led me to the path of self discovery that I’m still on. The never-ending quest to improve myself both mentally and physically.
What are your work out related goals for the future?
Since wild beasts like cheetahs and tigers are both graceful, aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and are strong and fast as hell. I want to display my power and strength while looking like a greek statue. This “all show, and no go”, or “all go, but no show” dichotomy has got to go.
So my goal is to break my old PR in terms of relative strength on the compound lifts WHILE setting a PR in body fat percentages while lifting raw, eating natty, and hugging on to my genetics.
What is in your experience the most effective routine?
The most effective routine is always the routine that you are not on right now – one that you had never used before, but one that is not too unfamiliar to the body that it doesn’t know how to deal with or adapt to it.
Ok, let me back it up a little bit.
The body is a system that only grows with the right stressors both in quantity and quality. Since the body needs constant adaptations to stimuli to evolve, I always switch things up to “shock” my system into adapting to new stressors that I create for it as stimuli for growth.
Since the body gets used to a routine pretty easily and hence the result of plateaus and stagnation the moment, the most effective programs or routines are always going to be the ones that you are not yet using.
The reason why you use guys at the gym staying at the exact same size and strength level year after year is precisely because they are always using the same routines, lifting the same rep schemes on the same exact exercises.
It’s part of human nature to avoid novelty because new stimuli creates new stressors, and it always takes physical and mental efforts to overcome these new pressures. But once you do, you WILL SEE GAINS!
And you have to keep “lifting outside of the box” in order to get bigger and stronger (this is true even when it comes to diet, cardiovascular exercises, and losing fat). And the stronger, faster, and the more advanced you are as an athletic, the more “outside of the box” you have to lift and think. It’s like solving a puzzle, and the pieces are your muscle fibers, tendons, and nervous system.
But the key here is to not switch things up too much, or to make too much of a change that your body gets so confused that it doesn’t know what to do and how to adapt.
For instance, if your have been making good gains with the 5 x 5 protocol but had reached a plateau because your body is used to that particular routine, it might not be the wisest idea to switch your training program to something completely different, like say, cross-fit or HIIT.
You have to know how to play around with your body, and make changes according to how you feel in small increments by making minor adjustments to both the intensity and the volume of your training as well as exercise choice.
Once in a while you can go for bigger shocks, but everything must be part of a bigger plan. Even if you want introduce a little bit of a chaos and randomness in your training (which is always the best shocker), that variable in itself must be carried out under a certain type of deterministic rubric or structure.
With that said, there is no single routine that is the most effective for anybody.
People always ask me to send them the routines I had used in the past as if they are automatically going to make them jump higher or lift more just because those programs worked for me in the past.
Hell, those programs were designed specifically for me at that one particular point in my training life to suit particular needs. So even if I try those programs NOW, there is no guaranteed that I would make gains from them, let along other people.
So my advice is to learn as much about your body and about the science and various methodology of strength training as possible, and then you will be able to create your own authentic routines that work best for you.
What is your current routine?
With that said, my current routine, which targets specifically at my goal of losing fat while maintaining, and even gaining muscles at the same time is the variation of the following outline, done 3-4 times a week with light cardio such as walking on treadmill 30 minutes or hiking for a hour on off days.
Lower body compound 3-4 sets of 8 – 12 reps
a) Shoulder or chest (free weight) 3-4 sets of 10 – 12 reps
b) Back (machine) 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps
a) Shoulder or Chest (machines) 3-4 sets of 10 – 12 reps
b) Back (free weights) 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.
a) Single leg exercise (free weight) 3 – 4 sets of 10 – 12 reps
b) Back (either free weights or machines) 3 – 4 sets of 10 – 12 reps
Abs for 100 reps total.
So just to give you an example, here was what my last work out looked like :
1. Front Squat 3 sets of 8
2. Push press 4 sets of 10
b) Lat pull down 4 sets of 10
3. Machine flies 4 sets of 12
b) Bent over rows 4 sets of 10
4. Bulgarian Splits Squats 3 sets of 10
b) Pull ups 3 sets of 12
5. Ab machines for 3 sets of 20
Hanging leg raises for 3 sets of 20.
What is your diet and supplementation like?
I don’t count calories. There are just too many things in life that I would rather do other than reading nutrition labels in the back of boxes and then enter some numbers in calculators.
I don’t care for the particular type of food that I am eating as well, because as long as they satisfy my protein/carb/fat ratio demand, I eat whatever I want.
For instance, I can either eat boiled chicken breasts with no sauce and then drink a tea spoon of olive oil for the fat intake, or I can just a fried drumstick.
The only thing I keep an eye on is the protein/carb/fat ratio.
When I am bulking, I go with a high protein (1-2x bodyweight) /moderate carb/low fat diet.
When I am cutting, I go with an extra high protein (2-2.5 x bodyweight)/low cab/low fat diet
This is what my diet would look like on a typical bulking day:
10 egg whites, 3 egg yolks.
A bowl of oatmeal or a peanut butter sandwich
Large piece of steak/fish/chicken breast.
A bowl of vegetable.
Another bowl of oatmeal or brown rice.
Repeat Lunch but replace the carbs with peanut butter or various types of nuts.
In between the 3 meals, and sometimes before bed, I drink 2 servings of whey protein shake with a few pieces of fruits.
This is what a typical cutting diet looks like :
8 egg whites.
Bowl of chicken breasts with broccoli.
Steak with lettuce
And in between meals I drink protein shakes and try not to eat anything 4 hours prior to bed time.
When I am cutting, I go with a extra high protein diet.
What is your top tip for general fitness?
Arnold said when he was training, he used to imaging that his biceps would grow so big that it would fill up the whole gym. And Dave Tate said that half of the Westside lifters were either in jail or are somewhat insane. Kelly Baggett said that “normal” people wouldn’t put up with the pain they have to go through to achieve even the most minimum results, so unless you are slightly masochistic and very narcissistic, you might just quit the iron game after your beach day/new year resolution mindsets wear off.
So with that said, I think the top tip is a psychological one.
Artists and writers have always thrived on a little bit of insanity. But you can’t go overboard. You see many artists struggle with mental illness here and there, but none of them were so dysfunctional that they had to be locked inside an institution because completely psychotic people are just too far detached from reality and rationality to step back and use their critical faculties to judge their work.
However, a little bit of madness is good in the sense that when you are really in the zone, and when you are really “at it” during acts of creation, you have to let your subconscious raw power take over and just “go with its flow” and let you become one with the task you are performing, the song you are composing, or the object you are making.
Scientists sent Jazz musicians and freestyle rappers into brain scan machines when they are improving and found out that the inhibition center of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – the circuits that are linked to planned action, self-control and censoring, reason, were almost completely shut down.
People who are categorized as being “insane” are just people who, due to brain damage or other chemical imbalances or genetic defects can’t keep their Reason and rationality in check because their prefrontal cortexes are defected and they can act only on impulses and passion with no regards future consequences.
However, the slightly mad, yet still functional individuals can let themselves go at will, shut down the prefrontal cortex, but have it back and let it do their jobs when the time calls for it.
You can apply this concept to the athletic/iron game. When you are going for a max attempt, or when you are attempting to sprint a dash, or play a game of football, you almost always have to throw reason over to the side if you want to get “in the zone”.
Over analyzing and self-censoring thoughts like “I can’t lift this!”, “this will break my back!”, “what will the fans think of me”, will only get in the way. And also the concept of “psyching up” pretty much is just a way to get rid of your rational mind and let passion and irrationality take over.
I always say that when I am really in the flow when I am lifting big weights, I feel like I am dreaming. And this is why.
Also, another flip side of having a little bit of positive psychosis is that you automatically acquire a little bit of creative imagination, which I think, is a never talked about, under appreciated value in fitness and sports.
Having an imaginative mind is one of the important key to having a good vertical jump or lifting big weights.
The ability to visualize your motor outputs as clearly and distinctively in your mind is essential because when you actually perform these motor skills in real life, you are already primed to do so.
Kelly Baggett has mentioned that most explosive athletes are right brain dominated…in other words they are good visualizers who can hold clear images in their minds of what they wish to create or become. They have practiced their movements over and over again in their minds, and their neurons are already firing and connecting to the movements themselves in precise patterns and structures as when you are actually performing the movements in real life and with your body.
I’ve realized that there is little difference between making sculptures and performing a big vertical jump. In both endeavors, you are transferring what you visualize creatively in your mind into the actual reality. The better you are at generating and producing and manipulating these images in your mind, the better your “products” in reality will turn out to be. In sculpture, the products are of course, the sculptures themselves. But in lifting and in jumping, the product is the self, which you have primed and crafted in your mind. I jump with my mind, not with my body.