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008: Renegade Fitness, with Jason Ferruggia

JasonF2016REDOur guest on today’s Awesome Health show transformed himself from a skinny, weak kid to a veteran of the weight-training world and an industry leader in fitness training. Jason Ferruggia is the founder of Renegade Fitness and the man on the Renegade Radio mic.

Jason and I dig into what has inspired and motivated his personal transformation and how he motivates his clients. He also talks about what he has learned from training athletes in 70 different sports, including some of the best in the world. Join us to hear his wisdom and philosophy on episode 8 of Awesome Health podcast, brought to you by BiOptimizers.

More About Awesome Health with Jason Ferruggia

Jason Ferruggia grew up as a skinny, weak kid – and he hated it. During his formative years Arnold he  Schwarznegger and Sylvester Stallone were on the big screen, while Hulk Hogan and the WWE were airing on TV on Saturday mornings.

He wanted to be jacked like all of those guys, and he tried to get there by playing sports but he was never good. Instead, he got into training which gave him more confidence, and helped him change his life. But the real turning point came in college when he got tuberculosis (TB) from an exchange student living on his floor in the dorms, and he had to be on bed rest for 3 months.

This was in the early 90s when the Internet wasn’t widely available and you could only get information on the back of magazines (like Iron Man). He found certifications and courses in those magazines, ordered a bunch of them, and spent his bed rest time devouring that content.

When he was healthy again and cleared by his doctor the following spring, he became certified. Wasting no time, he started training people that same summer and the business blew up from there. He didn’t know the first thing about business but it was successful! A few years later he got his first athlete, which led to more and more.

In the early 2000s he began writing online; his mission then was training athletes and helping them get bigger, stronger and faster and get scholarships, break records, personal records, and the like. Today it’s changed a bit and he says he has a more well-rounded approach. He teaches his clients on everything from personal development to mindset to training. He works with his clients to unleash their strongest self in every way possible.

Simple Steps Lead To Long-Lasting Results

Because he’s worked with so many people in various stages of their lives, and he’s gone through several decades of his own transformation and training, I wanted to hear Jason’s thoughts on the most important components of looking and feeling good through your 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Jason has a direct approach, he believes in simplifying training and nutrition for the average person. Most people need something simple to follow, and he resists the urge to do the fancy, cool stuff! He also strives to help people adopt one new habit at a time. He has found most people try to take on 5 new habits at a time and they get 100% failure rate when they do.

So if someone tries to give up bad nutritional habits (like soda, Big Macs, etc.) and immediately decides they are also going to train 6 days a week, then they have set themselves up for failure. Instead he recommends they just stop the Big Macs and do a 10-minute work out to get started.

With that advice in mind, I was curious what his recommendations would be for someone who is 30 pounds overweight and hasn’t trained much since their high school athletic days. I asked Jason where does he suggest starting?

Again he wants to make it simple, but fun because everybody gets bored otherwise. For a few weeks he would do the same workout with them, and then he’d switch it up by changing their reps, change the grip, or adding some other kind of change every week. He would also switch up their workouts between upper body, and lower body

And he would set PRs along the way because everyone likes to see themselves improve. We all have fun going watching our push-up totals increase, or our full-body squats go up.

As far as their diet is concerned, he would see where they are at and do the basics of eliminating junk food and fried foods, those types of things. In general, he wouldn’t make huge changes unless this person wanted to lose 30 pounds in 60 days – then he would go more extreme with their diet.

If this person does have a deadline, he would ramp it up a bit but in a smart way. if this person hasn’t done anything in awhile he recommends just building up the volume every week as well as the low intensity cardio. A few weeks into the process, he would have him do interval training.

Regarding their diet, junk food will be eliminated for the first few weeks, save for a Sunday night cheat meal. He would give this person a bit more protein, lower their starches and carbs, and add a lot of fruits and steamed veggies plus a green juice every day.

High Fat/Low Protein Or High Protein/Moderate Carbs: What Is Best?

Because he touched on carbs and proteins, I wondered what his take is on the low carb vs high fat/low protein vs high protein/mod carbs diets. What is his real-world experience telling him nutritional approach is realistically sustainable in the long-term?

Personally, he has done the anabolic and ketogenic diet back in the early 1990s; he did the ketogenic diet for 2 years. With that experience under his belt, Jason doesn’t think keto is sustainable long-term because the average person can’t not ever eat carbs again. It could mess up their digestion and it could interfere with a person’s social life!

However, different people respond better to different types of diets, so cycling can also work well. Cycling would mean doing something like adding an extra 100 grams of carbs on training days and consuming 100g less on non-training days.

Jason has yet to see any athlete do well on a low carb diet, and he has seen it backfire with a lot of people. He says a lot of athletes should carry a little more body fat and eat more carbs.

It’s also important to note there’s a big difference between eating for health, physique and performance. Eating for long-term health he might suggest no more than 50 g of animal protein a day. If eating for physique he would tweak it to add more protein and calories (even though higher calorie diets do produce more free radicals and age the body more, but that’s the choice someone makes when physique training), and eating for performance would mean eating more carbs.

His typical training day and diet is eating 4 or 5 meals a day, about 3 hours between. Those meals are similar and consist of 4-6 ounces of protein, 30-40g of carbs (like half of a sweet potato or hot rice cereal) with 10-15 g of fat with butter or olive oil mixed in.

He admits his biggest meal is always at night, he’s an old school Italian so he likes to sit down with his wife and enjoy a big meal! He tends to save most of his calories and carbs for the evening.

Natural Ways To Get To The Next Level

After we dig into his biggest influences regarding training and health, and why he doesn’t judge an athlete who uses anabolic substances, I asked him about natural ways we can get to the next level.

1. Sleep.
His top recommendation is sleep. Sleep is the #1 thing, and nothing else can replace getting high quality sleep. In fact, he goes so far as to say don’t bother with supplements if you aren’t getting good sleep! He says it’s crazy to spend $1k on supplements a month if you are getting 4 hours of crappy sleep every night. It has to be your top priority because it will help you get leaner, build more muscle and recover faster. It is the fountain of youth.

2. Lower Your Stress Levels.
The second natural alternative is to lower your stress levels. You can do everything else right but if your relationships aren’t good, and you hate your job, and your finances are a mess, then you aren’t going to get lean and build muscle. You simply won’t feel good until the other areas of your life are in better order and you lower your stress.

3. Diet.
From there, diet is next. Adequate carbs are necessary if you are training hard, and everyone needs a decent amount of healthy fats in their diets.

4. Self-care.
Next is the basic old school self-care treatments like self-massage, self-myofascial relief, foam rolling and the like. Jason says everyone should spend more time doing any of these things.

5. Float Tanks and Cryo Therapy.
And finally the fifth option for taking it to the next level is next is newer things like float tanks (sensory deprivation chambers) and cryotherapy. He uses a float tank every week; it helps joints decompress and the magnesium aids relaxation and recovery. It also helps mentally by taking you into a dream-like state, and makes problem-solving easier.

He also does cryo chambers, and highly recommends it. If you can do a monthly membership he says to go for it. Going to a chamber every day for 30 days will change your life! But even if you can only go once a week, it’ll still have a major impact but it will take longer for you to feel the results. He says to go back to back as often and as much as you can afford to.

Our last topic is his podcast, Renegade Radio, along with a few rapid fire questions. Jason tells us who the most influential person in his life and the three most important things to living the fullest life possible. You’ll love Jason’s no-nonsense attitude and straightforward perspective on the fitness and health industry, join in to hear it on episode 8 of Awesome Health podcast sponsored by BiOptimzers.


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