Everything You Need To Know To Work Out Like A Pro Wrestler (And Actually Stick With It)

Former NXT star Ryan Nemeth wrote the book on fitness. Literally. Okay, well, he wrote a book, but for all intents and purposes this is the only one that matters. Reading about working out is usually more tedious and exhausting than actually doing it, but Hardbody: How To Be One turns the standard fitness formula on its head. Also, it’s got at least one picture of a very cute dog. Uh, spoiler, I guess.

Some of you may know Ryan Nemeth as that hot young Briley Pierce, FCW/NXT Superstar. You may also know him as WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler’s brother, personal trainer to With Spandex favorite Clark Duke (amongst others), that dude who was on Best Friends one time, or that guy who wrote a fitness book and is way into sharks (but not in a weird way;¬†we’re pretty sure it’s not in a weird way).

When I started Hardbody: How To Be One, I put it down exactly twice: once to go to the bathroom, and once to switch the room I was reading it in. The book contains a series of personal essays from some of your favorite pro wrestling stars across TNA, WWE, and independent wrestling. The book isn’t strictly Mason Ryan talking about how much he hates workout gloves and Planet Fitness, however. The book takes an autobiographical tone, leading you through Nemeth’s journey to becoming a pro wrestler, then finding success and personal fulfillment beyond WWE. The voice Nemeth writes in is engaging and unique, and staggeringly positive throughout. Whether you’ve picked it up because you want to learn how to get in shape, or you just want to see what The Miz and Max Landis have to say, you’re guaranteed to find something you can connect with in this book.

Nemeth took some time out of his busy training and improv schedule to tell us a little bit about his approach to fitness, and give his very best tips on how even you — nay, especially you — can start your journey to becoming a real life Hardbody.

So, I guess it’s best to start off with ‘who are you and why should people listen to you?’

I address this at great length in the book, because that’s a fair question. In the world of fitness, there are a million people claiming to be experts. I don’t claim to know everything, but I know a lot. I have studied and worked with and trained under some very smart and very prestigious fitness gurus. The one shining beacon of light and genius that comes to mind is Rob MacIntyre. Rob, who wrote the foreword to Hardbody (thank you, Rob!) was my strength and conditioning coach in FCW and NXT. There is not a single person on planet Earth more knowledgeable on fitness, athletics, and exercise, than this man.

Rob is famous for being the trusted strength coach for guys like John Cena, Big E, Cesaro, Rusev, Ethan Carter III, and many other incredible physical specimens. My training style is very similar to his: I use science, a few very key principles, and I use humor to keep people engaged. Having Rob’s stamp of approval, in the form of him writing me an extremely flattering foreword, should be reason enough for people to listen to me. But if not, I have a lovely list of letters written by former and current clients in the book that are just as flattering. Clark Duke wrote a great one, and, of course, it was funny, as well. I’m not saying that I am the “be all, end all” voice in fitness. And I don’t believe anybody is. But I know my stuff, and I stand by it!

Seems impressive enough. It also seems like you operate at a very high-level of training. What’s the appeal to someone who isn’t as dedicated to fitness as someone like John Cena, or even someone who’s getting ready to work out for the first time?

The often-overlooked key principle of fitness is something that I mention over and over again in the book, and in my training: Fitness does NOT HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED. Whether you are a pro wrestler, a fitness model, a stay-at-home dad, a pet shop owner, or anyone at all, fitness is simple regardless of your experience level. There are a few key principles that apply to everyone (yes, even the person who is working out for the first time ever), and that’s something I love about fitness. I’m not saying exercise is “one size fits all” — because that is not the case — but it’s just wayyyyyyy more simple than a lot of people think. And no matter who you are, you can benefit from adding some of it to your life!

I wrote the book for a few different audiences, but a primary one was, in fact, those people who have never exercised before. I want them to not be scared of it.

So, we’re talking about this in January, a time where almost every gym is overrun with new members. Everybody wants to get in shape, but few people actually stick with it. Going to the gym the first time can be weird and scary and confusing, so what would you say to someone who’s thinking about signing up, or conversely, is already thinking of bailing due to, y’know, GYMTIMIDATION?

I am fully aware of how scary it is to do something for the first time. There were many times in my life that I was absolutely terrified to make a big move, or make a big life decision. I can totally relate to that. You have to just kinda do it. Just pull the Band-Aid off real quick. Just join a gym. Or go on a hike. Or run some stairs. Or walk your dog. Just do something. You don’t have to start running marathons, you don’t have to become the strongest or the most fit person around; just take a little step forward in the right direction.

My mom texts me daily updates: she’ll send me how many squats, push-ups, and pull-ups she does everyday, and how many miles she walks dogs. She is not a member of a gym, but she stays in great shape by simply being active. Honestly, most of the people I train here in LA are NOT members of a gym. You don’t have to join a gym, depending on what your specific goals are. The first step doesn’t have to be as scary as you think it is. For many people, the first step is walking around the block. Take your dog! Or borrow a neighbor’s dog! Just make sure to give it back.

Ryan Nemeth’s Five Tips To Working Out (And Sticking With It)

1. Change It Up

No matter what you do, you can’t keep doing it forever. The human body is great at adapting, which is wonderful if you’re a starving caveman, but not so wonderful if you’re a normal guy or girl in 2016 trying to make progress in the gym. Whatever routine you’re doing, it needs to change every six to eight¬†weeks in some way. That may mean different tempos, sets and reps, different exercises entirely, or it could mean overhauling your entire program. The body gets used to things, and after a certain point, it knows what the workout is, it isn’t stimulated to make changes anymore, and you’re wasting your time.

2. Be Curious. Ask Questions. Find Out More.

Nobody is the ultimate expert on anything, and new science and research comes out all the time. Be a student of fitness. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that certain fitness experts and schools of thought have different ways of viewing your body. Different people approach the subject from different angles. It’s important to figure out what YOU want to achieve, and then start figuring out how to get there. Yes, it’s a learning process, but it’s kind of fun. WHY does Seth Rollins advocate so hard for CrossFit? WHY is Dolph Ziggler such a proponent of “empty-stomach cardio?” WHY does Ryback do so many burpees? WHY does EC3 play with his little pet kittens so much? WHY does Clark Duke love red wine so much? Keep asking why, and see if what you learn applies to you and your specific goals.

3. Drink More Water

Every single aspect of your entire life will be better off the more hydrated you are. Everything. Strength, skin, hair, sleep, flexibility — all of it. Drink more water. Start now. Do it. Drink some.

4. Food Is Good

A good variety of foods from whole sources (vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, etc.) are, for the most part, better than processed versions of food. You never can truly know what is ACTUALLY in your protein bar, but you pretty much know what’s in an egg. I’m not saying that supplements and shakes and bars are bad — they’re fine in a pinch — but the majority of your diet should come from actual food. Supplement companies are often not super regulated, and the label on the back can’t be taken as gospel. But an egg is an egg, a chicken breast is a chicken breast, a carrot is a carrot…

There Is No One Right Way To Work Out

PLEASE don’t get sucked into thinking that training like a bodybuilder is the only way to work out. It’s not. It’s just not. There are countless other ways to exercise. Bodybuilding is SUPER SPECIFIC — following a pro bodybuilder’s routine in some magazine MOST LIKELY DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW. It’s probably a guy (or girl) who has been pumping his body full of insane amounts of drugs for a decade, and has been following a very specific training style for a very specific career goal. And guess what? The workout they show in the magazine probably isn’t what he really does. And if it is, it has NOTHING to do with your training style. Set your own goals, figure out how to achieve them, and be smart. There are a number of different ways to train. And please throw some athletic style training into your program. Even Brad Rowe, a pro bodybuilder I rub elbows with at Gold’s Gym in Venice, knows the importance of incorporating athletic style training into his regimen. Be smart!

Now Watch: American Tough Guy: 5 Things You May Not Know About Jacksaw Jim Duggan