Travis Stoetzel is one strong dude, competing in the Crossfit Regionals, and just being one well-rounded strong guy.
In this episode you’ll discover:
- The Sport of Crossfit vs. Crossfit Training
- Programmed Strength and Skill with Random Conditioning
- How to Target Your Weaknesses
- Up Your Deadlift…without Deadlifting
- This Navy Seal Mindset Trick helps you get through the Toughest Workouts
- The Pacing then Speed Up Approach
- How to Deload Properly
- Mixing Intermittent Fasting and Carb Cycling with a Paleo Base
- Being able to “Feel” Your Supplements
- Simplifying Your To-Do List…and Your Life
- And Much More
Links and Resources:
- Bags, Bells and Bodyweight Training System
- No B.S. Strength Secrets Seminar
- You can also find him on Facebook here.
Click the link below to access the complete transcript.show
Logan: I’m Logan Christopher and this is The Vital Way podcast. Today on the call I have with me Travis Stoetzel. If you don’t know Travis, he is one strong individual. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Travis for, I guess it’s a couple of years now. I even co-taught a workshop with him, the No BS Strength Secrets. Definitely like I said, he’s one very strong individual, a competitor in the CrossFit games. We’ll talk about that a little bit. So thanks for joining us, Travis.
Travis: Yeah, for sure, Logan. Thanks for having me on, man. I appreciate it.
Logan: Yeah, I guess a little bit of background would be good. How did you get to where you are today?
Travis: Man, it’s been a long road, a lot of ups and downs I’m sure as everybody has. But as you said, I guess I’m a strength athlete still. I run my own gym here in Omaha, Nebraska called the Forge Athlete but before I got started with that, I grew up as an athlete playing a lot of different sports. I played football and baseball in college and then stuck with football. After college, played a little bit of arena football and then I actually did a bodybuilding show after that. That kind of got me into the bodybuilding.
Then after I did my first show, I just hated the type of training I was doing, the bodybuilding-type training. I still added a lot of athletic-type training into the mix but I was like sitting on a calf machine one day and I was like, fuck this. I couldn’t take that type of training anymore and I just wanted to train for strength and be more athletic. That’s when I kind of stopped doing that and focused more on athletic-based training and went back to my roots with a lot of bodyweight-type training and just started in like parks with kettlebells and sandbags, doing a lot of playground-type of workouts. That’s kind of what got me into starting up my own gym.
Since then, I’ve been staying competitive in CrossFit, like you mentioned. I’ve made it to the CrossFit regionals four years, not to the games yet. I’ve been close a couple of years but man, the sport of CrossFit has just grown tremendously over the last few years since I first started doing it back in 2011. Just to make it to regionals anymore is a blessing. That competitive level of just the athletes across the board is just insane now. It’s been awesome to see how the sport has grown.
But I guess I got my start in training. I was lucky. My dad got me into training at an early age with just bodyweight training. We had a clothes hanger in the backyard that I would do pull-ups on all the time and he actually put up a peg board behind our garage for me to like climb on and stuff like that. He was huge into bodyweight training and just training in general for wrestling. I did wrestling a lot growing up. That got me into training and just the mindset of hard work. Just around the sport of wrestling, it’s just mano a mano so if you’re stronger than the other guy, that’s going to give you a huge advantage. That really got me into training at a young age just with like bodyweight and stuff like that and then it kind of took off from there, man.
Logan: Excellent. Well, I want to dive a little bit more into the topic of CrossFit because I guess there’s some controversy about it. You don’t have a CrossFit gym but you compete in CrossFit. Can you say a little a bit, what’s the difference between the sport of CrossFit and just like CrossFit training, I guess?
Travis: For sure. Well, the sport of CrossFit, kind of like I mentioned, just the popularity of it has grown and so the ability of the athletes have grown as well and just the evolution of the athlete, so to speak, has grown. When I first kind of started, people were doing CrossFit. So basically, CrossFit is like constantly varied, high-intensity, fully functional movements done. I don’t even know what their saying is but it’s like …domains, or whatever.
Logan: Kind of high intensity, high volume, high density.
Logan: Everything high.
Travis: CrossFit, in my opinion, is an awesome way for people, just general fitness. If you’re looking to get in shape, good conditioning and you’re looking to get good at kind of everything across the board, like kind of be strong, be well conditioned, all that different stuff, not be a specialist in anything, so to speak, CrossFit is going to be a very good means to training if you do it right in regards to proper progressions, staying keyed in on technique and form and not just focusing in on the high intensity aspect of it because that’s another part of the progression. One of the main reasons it’s gotten such a bad name is people just do it at a high intensity and say hey, I’m doing CrossFit but then they forget about, oh, well your back was freaking rounded out the whole time and you’re lifting too much weight there. But in my opinion, like GPP so general physical preparedness, I think CrossFit is a good way for that.
Now when you get into the sport of CrossFit, totally different. I talk about this quite a bit in my newsletter to people that are interested in getting into CrossFit. You’ve got to treat it just like a sport because that’s what it is. It’s the sport of fitness. So you’ve got to train more specifically for it. You’ve got to focus on strength. You’ve got to focus on skill, your gymnastic skills, muscle-ups and different things like that. So you just can’t do things random wad of the day all the time. If you’re looking to be an athlete in the sport of fitness then you’ve got to actually have a program that you’re following. You’re still going to have a lot of constant variation but there’s still going to be an overall kind of method to the madness, so to speak.
I kind of figured that out when I started competing back in 2011. I guess that kind of gave me a little bit of an advantage when I first got started in that regard because I was still programming for myself at the time and that’s the type of approach that I took. I was still focusing in on strength. I kept that very consistent and progressive of nature. The only thing that I really kept kind of chaotic and random was like the conditioning that I was doing. So I was always changing up the conditioning, whether that meant I was running long distances or blending like a heavy strength movement with long distances or whatever or just a short like five-minute type MetCons, that was kind of the random aspect of in. In a nutshell, that’s the biggest difference between the two that people often misconstrue, I guess. Just CrossFit training for fitness and then CrossFit training for sport, it’s going to be two totally different things.
Logan: Right. And I see how people could make that mistake because you assume people would do the CrossFit like the workout of the day—that’s a big part of CrossFit—in order to be able to compete but you really do need a focused program in order to improve your strengths, improve your weaknesses and focus on where you as an athlete need to go, especially, as you’ve said, as the competition gets much tougher as it moves forward.
Travis: Oh yeah. I’ve been training with a couple of Games athletes over the last couple of years with Kyle Kasperbauer who got third back in 2013 I want to say, 2012 maybe and then Stacie Tovar who’s been like a seven-times Games athlete. I’ll tell you right now. If you’re trying to compete at that level, the amount of training that they do is just ridiculous. You look at somebody like Rich Froning and his whole lifestyle is built around his sport. So he’s a professional exerciser, man. That’s why he’s like the fittest man in the world. That’s all he does. He trains all day. It’s not uncommon for him to do—these are from resources that know Rich personally; I don’t know him personally; I don’t know his actual training program or anything like that but according to them—on average, he’s doing like five different training sessions a day. That’s because his whole lifestyle’s built around that. He has a full gym in his garage and he doesn’t have a day-to-day job that he has to go to.
That’s another thing people have to think about if they’re wanting to compete in CrossFit. I mean there’s some athletes that are in the games that are pretty gifted, ability-wise that have that strength and that athleticism overall, that don’t need to be training like super crazy, like four or five sessions a day. You know they can get by with maybe one or two but for most people, they’ve got to understand that’s the major difference between the sport of fitness and just CrossFit on its own.
Logan: So what drew you into the sport? Why do you choose to compete in CrossFit versus Olympic lifting, powerlifting, any of the other things strongman, that sort of thing?
Travis: For me, just being an athlete in college and growing up being an athlete, just always consistently competing in something. And like I mentioned, I did the bodybuilding. That was a whole different type of competition where I just didn’t feel like an athlete. You could look good but then to win an event—I was thankful enough I won a show—it comes down to looking better than another other guy next to you but really what it is it’s a popularity contest almost like do you know one of the judges? You get into the whole inside world of bodybuilding stuff but I just didn’t like it. I had to be competing physically.
So back in 2011, right before the CrossFit Open, I really didn’t know anything about it. My buddy shot me a text message and he said, “Hey, have you heard of the CrossFit Open?” I remember I had heard something about it. I really didn’t know much about it but I looked into it and at the time you didn’t have to be in an affiliate to compete in the Open. Anybody could do it so all you had to do is film the workout that came out that week and then post it up. So I said, hell, I’m already posting up all my workouts on YouTube anyways so I might as well do this thing and see what’s going on with it.
So I entered the Open in 2011 and I did well enough to go to the Regionals. I remember I got the invite and for my region it was in Chicago that year at the Navy Pier. I remember I waited till the very last day to sign up for the deadline because I was like, I’m not going to go. Then I said what the hell, I’ll try it out. It was just the atmosphere of the competition scene that just—I was stuck when I’d done it. When I first did it, I was just like this is badass, a lot of likeminded people as far as like fitness goes and everybody competing. It’s a different kind of atmosphere versus like when you’re doing like a wrestling meet or something like that. You look at somebody and you’re like hey, that’s my opponent; I’m not going to talk to that guy; I’m just going to stare him down.
Whereas at CrossFit, it’s still an individual competition but everybody’s kind of like for each other. It’s a really cool atmosphere. That’s really what drew me in and what’s kept me within the sport. It’s given me a reason to just keep training hard and obviously keep eating right and just training my body good for the whole competition aspect of it. Constantly seeing yourself improve strength-wise, conditioning-wise, improving on just overall performances just really kept me drawn in and stuck to it, I guess.
Logan: I’d started to notice that I’ve been doing a few more competitions, that sort of drive that you know you’re going to have to compete on whatever the date happens to be can be a very powerful motivator for really keeping you at the top of your game.
Travis: Oh for sure.
Logan: So what are some of the current goals? What are you working on? You’re not just doing the workout of the day. We’ve established that. What does your training look like? What are you aimed after and how are you going after it?
Travis: Right now, it’s kind of the off season for me because Regionals just got done and then the Games just got done. My training volume was actually really, really high. It was like crazy. I’m fortunate enough where owning a gym, I’m my own boss. I can kind of work out when I want to during the day so I was doing a lot of training with Stacie Tovar with her getting ready for the Games. Our training was like insane.
I’m kind of in deload phase now where I’m just really my workouts are kind of random now but I’m still squatting every week, deadlifting every week and then overhead pressing. Usually, that’s always in the mix, usually squatting Monday and Saturdays, deadlifting middle of the week and then overhead press strength usually one time during the week. But like I was saying, it’s kind of off-season for me so my focus when I start to get back into it is going to be to kind of focus in on my overall squat endurance. That’s one of my bigger weaknesses, I guess. I can squat a lot of weight but then if I was to have to do say 75% of my one-rep max for a lot of reps, that’s where I kind of fall off. So that’s what one of my focuses is going to be. It’s getting my strength endurance up on like front squats and stuff like that. So I’ll be doing a lot of higher-rep front squat training and then kind of mixing that into like MetCons and stuff like that. Olympic lifts are always a focus so usually every other week, I’ll be hitting close to one-rep maxes on that, trying to increase that a little bit.
The other focus is my endurance work so I’ve been adding in a lot of rowing. I just hate, hate the freaking rower so any workout that has anything over on a 500 per meter in it, it just slows me down just because my cardiovascular endurance isn’t the greatest. Being a football player, I was always used to just short, high-intensity, anaerobic-type stuff so anything over like 20, 30, 40 seconds all-out intensity kind of starts to really get at me. That’s one of my bigger focuses as well. It’s just longer distance running, longer distance rowing so I tend to throw that stuff in at least once or twice a week if not even more.
I guess as far as goals go, something that I do in my gym with all my athletes is usually about every 60 days, we’ll put up some new goals on our board. So you have 60 days to hit those goals and they’ve got to be measurable goals. They can be stuff outside the gym as well like nutritionally or just behavior-wise, again stuff that you’ve got to be able to measure. Typically, the most people put performance-based goals up there. Right now, my main focus is to get my front squat past 405. That’s one of my strength goals. And then for rowing, I got to row 50,000 meters, I think, well, the next deadline is August 1st so I’m pretty damn close. I’d have to check my logbook because every time I row I tack on the amount of meters I just rowed. I’m getting pretty close to 50,000 meters overall. Just different things like that right now.
Logan: So I’m curious, or we could go into a little more detail, you mentioned a few of your different weaknesses and this might be good because they’re kind of different. You’re working on a bit of the endurance with the front squat but you also have that 405 goal and then this sort of longer distance row. You mentioned you might do each of these once or twice a week but is there any sort of more specifics on ways in which you focus in in order to build up these weaknesses?
Travis: Yeah, for sure. Like I mentioned, I’m always squatting, deadlifting and overhead pressing during the week usually with my main template. Usually, Mondays I’m squatting pretty heavy. Right now my focus is on my front squat so I’ll squat pretty heavy on Mondays and then I might come back on a Tuesday and specifically program in a MetCon focusing in on lighter weight, high rep either front squats or squat cleans or maybe a mixture of like aerodyne bike to hit the quads and then some sort of like squatting just to hammer the quads and that squat endurance. But Mondays’ usually strength as far as squatting goes.
Wednesday, I like to get overhead and I guess overhead pressing and then bodyweight pulling, strength in there. So I’ll do some sort of heavy overhead press whether that be with push pressing, strip presses or I’ll do like weighted pull-ups or something like that. So Wednesdays it’s usually kind of overhead upper body push and pull. And then Friday, usually I’ll come back with a back squat and work on the back squat. So I’m squatting usually twice a week, overhead pressing.
And then as far as deadlifts go, it just depends on the type of phase I’m in. Usually, I stick on my phases for about four weeks. Four weeks, I’ll stick to the same strength movements, trying to progress on those and then I’ll take like a deload week and then kind of switch up the main strength movements. It just kind of depends with deadlift because with the Olympic lifting, you’re doing a lot of pulling from the ground already so you don’t necessarily have to do heavy deadlifts. I know when I’ve programmed for some of my online clients, we might not have any deadlifts in the four week phase and they’ll be like hey, why aren’t there any deadlifts? Well, number one we’re doing some sort of clean from the ground, whether that be a power clean or a full squat clean so you’re already pulling from the ground right there. You’re getting a lot of volume there and then snatches as well. So you can go a whole phase, a whole period of time without doing any heavy type of deadlifts and your deadlift might go up.
Last summer when I hit my heaviest deadlift ever—555 is my PR—I remember the four weeks prior, we weren’t doing any deadlifting. I think the only deadlifting that I did was like in a MetCon where I was doing I think it was like 225 pound deadlifts so not very heavy for me. So my volume as far as like cleaning and snatching went for that matter was pretty high. That still kind of benefited towards the pulling from the ground but overall, that’s kind of how the week kind of looks right now.
Logan: That’s very cool. Training the body in those different manners, you’re still pulling from the ground, just doing in that much more explosive manner with lighter weights than what you would be able to handle with the deadlift that it still can transfer over to that. I think that’s a big tip, maybe a great direction for some people to go if they’re trying to hit a PR in the deadlift but seem to be stuck at a plateau.
Travis: For sure. Yeah, I would recommend just testing it out, maybe even a three-week, four-week period where you’re just doing heavier power cleans or full squat cleans or maybe even just clean poles because training at that different type of speed, because when you’re doing heavy deadlifts all the time, you’re moving at a slower speed so you’re really not training that dynamic effort, as they call it in the conjugate system. That’s really what you’re hitting with that. Even if say you go for a heavy one-rep clean and you happen to miss it in the front, well you’ve still got an awesome strong and fast pull off the ground. You got a good rep of that in. Even though maybe you didn’t catch it or complete the rep, you still got a good pull from the ground. Another way to kind of look at it in that regard to heavy deadlifting.
Because I know when I used to play football, I was deadlifting heavy all the time and I was having lower back issues. I was waking up with an extremely tight low back. That probably had a lot to do with my overall mobility as well. I used to just have tight, tight, tight hip flexors because I never really focused on my hip mobility at all. I was just deadlifting heavy all the time, every week and I really wasn’t progressing ahead. I remember I was stuck at 450 forever. 405 would feel easy and once I got to 450, it was just like I hit a wall. It really never went up until I started kind of rotating around heavy deadlifts with more volume of fast, dynamic Olympic lifts. I think that definitely helps out.
Logan: Yeah. Often times the quickest way from point A to point B isn’t a straight line when it comes to lifting. You have to take some of these other pathways. You think oh, I want to deadlift heavy, just deadlift heavy. Obviously, that can work out well in the beginning but beyond that, you’re going to do more volume with lighter weights, doing explosives in this manner. These other ways can get you to that point much better often times.
Travis: For sure.
Logan: You’re also known for your philosophy of going 110% HAM, which means hard as a motherfucker. When you are doing some of these hard workouts, let’s say some of the workouts in the CrossFit Games, competing there, mentally what do you do to push through a hard workout in order to continually just be able to push when you’re quite tired?
Travis: Well, one of the things that I’ve learned is to not look at—because some workouts, it just depends on what it is and some can look pretty intimidating when you really think about it. So say you’ve got like five rounds of ten deadlifts and 400-meter runs. If you look at that as a whole, you’re like holy shit! I’ve got a lot of work to do.
A little Navy SEAL kind of mindset tactic, which I got this from Mark Divine, in regards to like attacking things in smaller chunks so I’ve applied that to my workouts and CrossFit. So instead of thinking all right, I’ve got to get five rounds of this done, you break it down and you just say all right, I’ve just got to get this round done, make it to the next round or just focus in on the task at hand. So instead of thinking about the 400 that you have to run after the deadlifts, you say all right, I’m going to attack this deadlift in two sets of five or I’m going to go on broken ten reps on this deadlift. You just kind of attack it in that way, piece by piece because just like in any other sport, if you go into it—you and I had a lot of discussions on mindset—how you picture things visually in your head can make or break your performance. So even before the workouts, you’ve got to kind of analyze the workout and break it down in your mind and know you can attack it in smaller bits and pieces versus kind of looking at it at the big picture and getting intimidated by it. That’s one of the things I really focus in on with regards to the workout.
Then part of that is just kind of knowing your level and then pacing workouts out. In the beginning when CrossFit was newer, it was just freaking balls to the wall, pedal to the metal. You’re going to be crawling past the finish line when you’re done whereas now, if you watch the top athletes go, it’s not that they’re going super, super fast. I mean they’re going fast but it’s like they’re going at a steady pace and then they actually speed up at the end of the workouts because they’re doing it strategically. So they’re not going like balls to the wall all out at the first sound of go. They’re attacking it in a strategic way.
That’s really what I try to do as well with any workout. Me being a strength coach, I’m constantly like breaking workouts down. Okay, I would break this up at this point and different things like that. That really kind of comes down to I guess you knowing your own abilities. For example, if there are like pull-ups in the workout or something like that, you know how many pull-ups you can do until you hit failure so you’d want to—let’s say there are 30 pull-ups in a workout and you’ve got to do like five rounds of that, well you’re not going to try to go on broken on 30. You might go faster on the first round but then you’re going to be screwed on the next rounds, right? So you’ve got to kind of know your limits and know ahead that okay, I’m going to do 2 sets of 15 on these pull-ups. It might go slower more at the start but over the long haul, it’s going to be faster.
That’s really what you see with the better athletes, the top athletes in the sport. They go at a nice consistent pace and they’re just attacking, attacking instead of going full war, all out and then you don’t see him standing around very much because they kind of know their ability and they paced things out really well.
Logan: It makes sense. Keeping that pace and then you can speed up at the end, depending on how you’re doing is much better than just going all out from the beginning where you’re burning yourself out and then you just have to sort of crawl through to the end of it. That’s a very cool tip.
Travis: And it really kind of depends on the workout, too. Shorter workouts are probably going to hurt a lot more than longer workouts like the every famous Fran workout in CrossFit is probably one of the worst workouts because it’s so short that like the better you are, the higher level of fitness you are, the more it’s going to hurt for you because you know you can sustain that intensity for two minutes. So it’s going to be like the worst two minutes of your life. In that type of workout, there’s no pace. It’s just all out go for a workout like that.
If it was something like that for say 30 pull-ups and then 30 thrusters for three rounds, obviously you’re not going to go the same intensity the whole time. You’re just going to go at a nice steady pace. You might even break up your sets so you can maintain in that higher intensity versus if you were to go out like you would on Fran, you probably wouldn’t even finish the workout. Different things to think about in that regard though.
Logan: Yeah. Is there anything else you do because you have the capability to sort of mentally just push really hard on all your workouts every single rep or depending if you’re doing more of this conditioning workouts but there’s definitely also a time to ease back because you can push, you can build up your mental toughness to the point of where you can push your physical body beyond its ability and injury yourself. So how do you balance those things out? How do you teach that to your clients as well?
Travis: Funny that you should ask. I actually did a short little podcast today about that. Like I mentioned, I’m doing a deload week this week and for most of my athletes, we have planned deloads every four weeks. So we’re going pretty hard for three weeks, progressively building up with different movements and we’re really pushing the limit. Then we back off that fourth week. Basically what I call a deload week, you just bring back the intensity so you don’t squat super heavy, you don’t deadlift super heavy, you’re not doing anything super intensive where you’re totally trashing your central nervous system because that’s the main thing that you’re wanting to recover. It’s your central nervous system.
So that deload week, we really focus in on not hitting anything that’s going to overload the spine too much. Like I mentioned, heavy squats, heavy deadlifts are pretty much out for that week. That’s when we kind of just have fun with training or we just get out of the gym and go for a bike ride, go hiking, go swimming, go play a sport, go play kickball or run some routes with football.
I was just talking to one of my athletes the other day about going and doing that and just getting out of the gym and stop focusing on the training because not only are you going to help your body refresh and recover and that’s when you get stronger, but you’re also mentally going to refresh yourself. So if you’re feeling just run down mentally, physically, that might be a sign that you need to take a deload week or focus in on other things that help contribute to recovery. They say there’s no such thing as over-training; it’s just under recovering. Some other things you’ve got to look at is how much sleep you’re getting consistently a night, what your diet looks like, are you staying hydrated, different things like that all come into play. You have to look at the big picture and see if things are balancing out.
But as far as deloading goes, for most athletes, like I mentioned, we do a planned deload every four weeks. For more advanced athletes, we might go every six weeks. For myself, I’ve just started to go kind of off feel or just the time of year. Like I mentioned, we just got done with regionals and CrossFit games so I just told myself hey, I’m going to take a deload. I felt pretty good training-wise but I just knew a deload week would be good for me. So once you start to get more advanced and really learn and pick up on how to listen to your body, so to speak, that’s when you can kind of deload when you need to.
There’s a difference between showing up to the gym and just mentally not being there and just feeling lazy versus actually being run down physically and mentally. There’s a difference between that. Sometimes, you’ve just got to kick your own ass and light that fire back up and then just push through that. Then other times, you just really got to take a step back and say all right, I need a rest. I’m not being a big pussy because I’m not training hard but—
Logan: You need to have the awareness to know the difference of the two. Mostly, I’d say it just comes from actually going through both of them and paying attention so you can learn what that awareness is.
Travis: Yup, exactly. I guess one of the things in regards to like the whole mantra and the whole idea of going 110% HAM is yeah, you want to put in that 100% effort and go that extra 10%. But then, like I mentioned, you’ve got to understand there needs to be balance in your life. There needs to be balance in your training. You can’t always be going a 110% HAM or you’re just going to run yourself into the ground. It’s a great mindset to have but you’ve got to have that sense of balance and being smart about things as well at the same time. But yeah, that’s really important to understand that.
Logan: Yeah, I agree completely. The mental toughness and being able to pull on that when you need it is a very important skillset to have and to develop if you don’t feel you have it already because I would say it’s definitely a skillset. But along with that, equally important is knowing when to use it and knowing when not to and that’s sort of a different skillset.
Logan: Let’s move into nutrition a little bit. What’s your overall nutritional philosophy?
Travis: Well, the best way to put it is just to have a paleo base. It’s not that I’m like a super strict paleo eater. The base of my nutrition is made up paleo-wise. Obviously, you’re looking at lean meats for protein source, lean, all types of meats for protein sources so chicken—I hate fish but if there’s somebody that likes fish, fish is going to be a great source—grass-fed beef, pork, eggs, all that different stuff.
I eat a lot of vegetables myself. I always got like mixed greens on hand. I buy a lot of frozen vegetables. I think with vegetables, people have such a hard time thinking they have to eat vegetables because they think they have to eat them on their own. I have no issue eating vegetables. I can’t eat them on their own though. I mix everything with like a protein source. You do that and it kind of eliminates the thought of having oh, I got to eat like kale or I got to eat spinach or I got to eat broccoli. Just mix it with something. Mix it with protein. But yeah, paleo base so meats, lots of greens. I really don’t eat too much fruit. I do a greens drink to kind of replace that because I just don’t eat much fruit. If I did, it’s usually berries if we have them in the house like strawberries or blueberries but I don’t really eat much fruit.
As far as carbs go, I do a lot of white rice and then I do sweet potatoes. I freaking love sweet potatoes. I carb cycle so I usually only have my carbs right around my training sessions. Another good source of carbs that I’ve really gotten into over the last year has been gluten-free oatmeal so I’ve been digging on that. As far as fats and stuff like that goes, I do goat cheese. Every now and then I’ll throw in like salads and stuff like that. I’ll do avocado. I do a lot of coconut oil, coconut oil pretty much with like everything. Anytime I cook, I’ll throw in coconut oil. But yeah just a paleo base overall.
I’ll do intermittent fasting on my off days. When I know I’m not going to be training or I’m travelling, I’ll intermittent fast. I’ll basically just skip breakfast. I won’t eat anything. I’ll just drink tons of water. I’ll have a little bit of coffee, whatever and I’ll just get rolling back on my normal diet around lunchtime or whatever. Yeah, I’ll intermittent fast on my off days.
Then I briefly mentioned how I kind of carb cycle. Depending on what I’m doing for training, what training’s looking like, if I’m going to be training in the early morning the next day, I’ll have a huge protein and carb meal at night so I kind of carb backload. Then I’ll have a small breakfast in the morning, maybe before my training session with like gluten-free oatmeal and just a lean protein source like maybe some egg whites or like turkey or chicken or maybe even a protein shake. Then I’ll have carbs again right after my training session.
But when my training volume was like crazy high, we were doing like three or four sessions a day, I was eating carbs at every meal. You have to do that. I think that’s a big mistake a lot of athletes make. I definitely made it when I was in college and getting out of college thinking okay, low carbs is the way to get lean and carbs are the enemy and if I want to look lean, I can’t eat any carbs. So I went through a phase where I was like a carbo-phobe and I wouldn’t eat any carbs. It was just meat and fat. I can remember that phase in my life where I was just like run down all the time. I had no energy and finally just started adding the carbs back in. But big picture of things, that’s kind of what it looks like. It’s a part paleo base and then I’ll add carbs in when I need them.
As far as like cheat meals go, every Friday, Saturday, I eat whatever I want pretty much, not for the whole day. You’re looking at Friday night meal, usually my favorite cheat is we’ll go to this restaurant. They got these sweet potato fries so I get those. They have like the best ranch dressing. I’d also douse it in ranch and then I’ll get a big ass slice of their cheesecake. I usually have that for cheat. I’ll eat pizza for cheat meals. Really the way I approach it is like 80/20, 90/10 rule. If I’m really trying to dial things in, I’ll keep it around 90% lean and clean and then 10% of the time I’ll kind of have whatever I want. Then usually in maintenance mode, it’s like 80/20. I’m really kind of a creature of habit. I don’t mind eating the same thing over and over. Monday through Friday I’m usually eating the same thing and then on the weekends, I’ll typically eat real healthy during the day. That way I can kind of indulge at night, whatever we decide to do for dinner. That’s really what it looks like.
Logan: That’s pretty comprehensive. Nice answer. You mentioned the green supplements. Tell us a little bit more about that, what you use, why you use it but also what are some of your other favorite supplements?
Travis: Definitely. For the longest time, I’ve been doing Athletic Greens. It’s just a greens supplement. It’s in a powder form so you just drink it. First thing in the morning I usually have it. I’ve also been trying Onnit’s EGN which I think tastes better than Athletic Greens but they’re both pretty good. When I have those, I’ll just have them right first thing in the morning if I’m not fasting. If I am fasting, I’ll have it with my lunch. I’ll have it right before my lunch meal or I’ll have it in my post-workout shake. It just kind of really depends.
As far as supplements go, I really don’t do too much for supplements. I do creatine. I do five grams of creatine, just toss that into my protein shake after workouts. I’ll typically do that for six weeks on and take two weeks off and then six weeks on. It’s just five grams a day, real basic. I do krill oil. Right now, I got, I’m all stocked up with Onnit’s krill oil. Then my wife got this—gosh, it’s almost like pudding—fish oil but it comes in like pudding form. It’s really good. It’s high quality stuff so I always do fish oil.
Funny thing about fish oil is since I’ve been taking it for so long, especially when I’m training pretty high volume and pretty intensely, if I ever run out—there have been a couple of times where I’d run out of my fish oil—I could just feel it. I can feel the inflammation in my joints and my knees. It really, truly makes a difference I think when you consistently take that. You know as well as I do when it comes to supplements, they’re going to benefit you but only if your nutrition is on point and you’re consistent with it. When it comes to supplements, a lot make claims out there like take this for a week and you’re going to be super human or whatever but really those are the basics I do. I’m trying to think.
There’s another supplement I take, Glycofuse, which is like a straight up carb. It’s like fast-digesting carb. That’s something I add in my protein shakes when I’m training high volume just to help assist with recovery and get those carbs in real quick after a workout. I’ve done the Hercules formula that you sent me. That stuff is no freaking joke and I went it through the Pine Pollen as well. I went through the whole bag of pine pollen that you gave me and I thought I felt really good with that stuff. Really, I’m a real basic guy. Growing up in college, I’ve wasted I don’t even know how much money on supplements, buying these.
Logan: Great. Bodybuilding space.
Travis: What’s that?
Logan: In bodybuilding, my friend reminds me—actually Tyler, you know Tyler—we were going through a bodybuilding phase and one time I said to him, it sure costs a lot of money to be strong.
Travis: Yeah, it does. My wife right now, she’s got WBFF Worlds here next month, in less than 14 days now. Yes, it’s coming up real quick. So I mean, holy shit, that’s expensive, from the nutrition to the supplements that you’ve got to be taking. It’s crazy. That’s really what I do though. I’ve learned my lesson over the years. There’s stuff that works really well and then there’s stuff that’s usually like really hyped up and flashy and it usually doesn’t work.
Logan: Yeah. You definitely need to experiment and find what works for you. Find the solid things, like you mentioned, the fish oil. What you’re saying is really important, having sort of that awareness. I think that’s again sort of another skillset you can build but knowing your body on that level where you feel like well, I’m a bit more inflamed than usual, I can use some more of that or take some other things that may help with that same situation, or maybe now’s the time to ease back a little bit in your workout. It’s very important to cultivate that awareness.
Travis: Yeah, and I’ve never been like huge on pre-workouts. I went through a phase there in college where my roommates and I, because they got ahold of this stuff and I think one of the containers was called—oh gosh, it was popular for a long time. I can’t think of it. It’s like H2O or something. I can’t remember what it was—but that stuff just would make me all like jacked up. I couldn’t even focus. I feel like I was going to throw up in my workout.
So now I usually just do like black coffee. Then you sent me the Hercules formula and I’ve tried that a couple of times. Really I use that stuff when I really need it, when I need like a big pick-me-up but usually I’m not too big on any type of pre-sups. I usually get a big enough kick from my black coffee in the morning. I usually have like one cup of black coffee. That usually gets me going.
Logan: I’ll have to send you something to try just as far as the rowing and endurance I think. There are definitely some things that could help with that.
Travis: For sure. Anything at all.
Logan: Very cool. So you’re pretty successful and being really strong as hell, I do recommend to anyone listening here to go and look at some of the stuff that Travis does. It’s pretty amazing. You’ve got your nutrition dialed in. You have the gym. You also have the online business. How do you balance all these different areas of life? You’re also a fairly new parent, a couple of years old your baby?
Travis: Yup. She is almost 17 months old now so time is just flying by, man.
Logan: So how do you balance all these different things and still keep moving forward in them?
Travis: Well to tell you the truth, when my daughter was first born, I thought I had everything balanced out but I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants, so to speak. Back then before she was born, I was just household grind all the time, like I’ll just get this shit down. Now that she’s around, I have to be organized with my time and I have priorities set now.
I try to work off a list. I always have like a major to-do list. I have a big goals board. I’m actually sitting down in my basement right now and I have a big goals board down here. Every month, I write out the main thing that I’m trying to focus in on. Since I have two different businesses, I have an offline so brick and mortar, my goals for The Forged Athlete. Whether we’re releasing a new program, promoting a certain program to new clients or whatever, I have that goal up there that I want to accomplish in 30 days. And then I write out the big focus that I want to put all my attention towards for Train Aggressive, which is my online business. Then I work backwards from there.
So whatever the main goal is in 30 days that I want to achieve, whatever that is, then I think about the steps that I need to take to get there. So what am I going to have to do on a weekly basis, on a daily basis to achieve that overall goal? So I just kind of work backwards from that on both of them. They’re always up on the board so every time I come down to the basement in my work period, I look at the things I need to get done.
Typically the night before—I do this on my phone now; I used to have a big notebook where I just draw a line right down the center of the page—I’d right Forged on one side, I’d write Train Aggressive on the other side. I used to make the mistake of having a to-do list that would have a thousand things on it like okay, this is what I’ve got to do tomorrow. I’ve got to do this, this, this, this and this. You get fucking overwhelmed and you’re like holy shit, how am I going to get all that done? Instead and especially now that I have a little girl, I need to prioritize time to spend with her. I list three big things that I need to get done.
I’ve had struggles in the past where I’m trying to get too much done in a day where I’d accomplish quite a bit but then I was like all right, I’ve got to get more done. I’ve got to get more done. There was like never any downtime so I was starting to get burned out. I think with this system that I use now, I list out three big things that I need to get done for my online business, three big things that I need to get done for the gym and I attack those things. Then once I get done with those, if I have extra time maybe I’ll focus on some other stuff. But if I don’t, then I’ll try to shut it down for the day and focus on family.
But I think one of the big things is, especially if you have your own business, is you’ve still got to put heavy focus on having boundaries as far as time goes because for me, like I said, I struggled in the past, never being able to shut it down. It’d be like 9:00 at night and I’d be like oh shit, I can work on this. You start working on another project or whatever. A lot of my friends who have like 9 to 5 jobs or whatever, they just never understood that because once 5:00 hit, they were done with work. Work was done. It was just like whatever time.
That’s kind of the challenge that entrepreneurs face. It never really truly shuts off because you’ve got to learn how to manage yourself. It’s not about managing your time. It’s about managing yourself and being disciplined with sticking to priorities and not fucking around on Facebook and whatever. I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the past and my system definitely isn’t perfect but I do get a lot more stuff done now.
Logan: One of things that was sort of a big aha moment to me, I was reading Brian Tract’s Eat that Frog and he says you’re never going to finish your to-do list.
Logan: I just never thought about it in that way before so I was like huh, that’s a very interesting thought. That was a great book. But those tips, keeping it to those simple things, especially as I do not have children yet but I’m sort of preparing for that. I know that day is coming and I will have to make some changes to you, my work life at that time. That’s good.
All right, we’ve covered lots of information from a lot of stuff around CrossFit and programming for strength really, how to treat your weakness, all kinds of very cool stuff, the sort of mindset when you need to attack, to go 110% HAM, when you need to back off, the whole download of information on nutrition and also keeping productive in your life. Where should people go in order to find out more about you and see what you’re up to?
Travis: For sure, they can go to my main blog, which is TravisStoetzel.com. I’ve kind of switched gears in regards to taking my brand away from that and focusing more on just TrainAggressive.com. So there’s more action going over there. I’m always active on my Facebook. It’s just Facebook.com/TrainAggressive. People can get in touch with me. So yeah, if anybody listening in has questions with everything, feel free to get in contact with me and I’ll see if I can help you out.
Logan: Excellent. Well, thanks so much for joining me today. I had a lot of fun with this.
Travis: Yeah, buddy. Thank you.
Logan: All right. Thanks everyone for listening. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with another interview for you.
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