Lucky 13 - Chad Waterbury

13 Questions, 13 Answers, 1 T-Nation Expert


This is Lucky 13, a rapid fire Q & A session with a training or nutrition expert who matters. It's fast, furious, and to the point.

For this first installment, we bought strength and conditioning expert Chad Waterbury a shot of moonshine and sat him down for 13 quick Q's. Aren't you lucky?

Question #1: If you could only do two exercises or lifts for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Waterbury: If I could only perform two exercises for the rest of my life, I'd choose two that hit virtually every muscle group in the body. In addition, the two exercises must challenge multiple motor qualities. They must require high levels of motor skill and coordination, unlike the bench press. Therefore, my choices would be the clean and the drop snatch.

Question #2: One night, any woman, anything goes. Not counting your current S.O., who would you choose?

Waterbury: Marisa Miller. Wait. No, I meant Jenna Jameson. Ah hell, this question is too tough! Can't I choose two? Okay, from a purely physical perspective, no one beats Marisa Miller in my book.

Marissa Miller

I don't dig the blonde bimbo schtick. I like Jenna because she's smart, she articulates well, and she has the "don't fuck with me attitude." That's very sexy. Even though the porn star thing is a little weird, I guess I could look past that. There's nothing sexier than a smart, confident woman who carries herself well. I like women who actually had to work for their money.

Jenna Jameson, Chad's other workout partner.

Question #3: What's your single best nutrition tip?

Waterbury: Eat a large breakfast comprised of carbs, protein and a little fat. The point of consuming a large breakfast is that it "breaks" the "fast" from an overnight sleep.

Upon waking, the muscles are primed to take in large amounts of calories (especially carbs) without inducing high levels of lipogenesis. In addition, a large breakfast will rev up the metabolism for the rest of the day.

For breakfast, I prefer a carb/protein/fat balance of 60/30/10. But for those who don't handle carbs well, I'll adjust the number to 40/30/30. The 40/30/30 balance tends to work well with strength athletes, while the 60/30/10 balance tends to be good for bodybuilders. But these numbers aren't etched in stone.

As tired as the saying might be, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. I used to think that the post-workout meal might be the most important, but I found that a poor breakfast (especially a skipped breakfast) impaired a trainee's performance to such a large degree that I now prefer clients to regard post-workout nutrition second over breakfast.

After all, the boost in post-workout protein synthesis isn't limited to a two-hour window. In other words, you basically have 24 hours to take advantage of the workout-induced, accelerated protein synthesis. But neither feeding opportunity should be skipped!

Now I'm realizing that pre-workout nutrition is probably even more beneficial than post-workout nutrition. By pre-workout, I'm actually referring to consuming a liquid meal at the onset of a workout. With that in mind, I consider the pre-workout feeding to be the second most important meal of the day.

Question #4: If you knew then what you know now, how would your first couple of years of training be different?

Waterbury: I would've performed nothing but multi-joint, compound lifts. Variations of deadlifts, squats, cleans, snatches, pull-ups, rows and presses. That's it. Wait, that's what I do now!

This reasoning is based on the fact that multi-joint exercises allow for the largest loads. It's important to teach new trainees how to recruit high threshold motor units in order to build strength and size. But even more important, the aforementioned exercises build intermuscular coordination at a significantly faster rate than single-joint, isolation exercises.

Overall, trainees' motor skills are greatly improved with compound exercises. When trainees perform nothing but single-joint, machine-based exercises, their motor skills end up being a mess. Since compound exercises are more challenging to the central nervous system (CNS), they're the ideal choice.

Question #5: You can only use one supplement for the rest of your days. What would it be and why?

Waterbury: Protein powders. Because it's too damn time-consuming to prepare and chew a couple hundred grams of protein every day. In addition, high-quality protein sources aren't readily available, and they tend to spoil easily. If Biotest ever ceases production of Grow!, I'm going to be in trouble.

Question #6: A guy comes to you and says he's made good progress over the years but now he's stuck. He can't get any bigger or any stronger. Based on all your experience with hundreds of clients, what's his problem?

Waterbury: Most likely, his parameters were too constant. When clients hire me to change their physique and/or performance capabilities, I'm usually bemused by the fact that they've performed the same damn workout for months (sometimes years) at a time. They say that Arnold never repeated the same workout twice. Even though I question the complete veracity of that statement, I think it speaks volumes.

Most muscle-building limitations are due to poor nutritional plans. Breakfast, pre-workout, and post-workout nutrition must be addressed first, in that order. If a trainee does nothing more than concentrate on those three meals, hypertrophy usually ensues even if the resistance program isn't ideal.

Question #7: What's the single most useless, ass-backward, piece o' shit training system or ideology you've ever seen?

Waterbury: Oh man, I can only choose one? Well, I'd have to say the super-slow, one rep set that consisted of a 30-second-long concentric (lifting) phase definitely ranks at the top. Why in the hell would anyone want to perform a 30 second concentric phase? Generally, I don't even like two second concentric phases!

Given the fact that a 30 second concentric would require extremely low loads, slow motor unit recruitment patterns, and a reduced ability to perform fast muscle contractions, it's easy to see why it hung around about as long as the Macarena dance. But I won't mention what issue of Muscle & Fiction this recommendation was published in.

Question #8: What two books should all T-Nation members read?

Waterbury: Hmm, is this an opportunity to plug my upcoming book? For training, I'd say Strength and Power in Sport since it's a collaboration of some of the sharpest minds in science. Since you can't be an expert on every aspect of strength and conditioning, it was a brilliant idea to comprise a group of scientists that represented the consummate voice within their respective field of research. The table of contents reads like a scientific hall of fame.

As for a non-training book, I'd recommend The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Any book that's still relevant and useful after 2500 years is a work of genius.

Question #9: What motivates you?

Waterbury: From a career perspective, I'm primarily motivated to find new ways to overcome old challenges. Indeed, the notion that we only use a partial percentage of our brain capabilities directly correlates with our limited ability to develop extraordinary levels of performance and size. I always attempt to look at strength and conditioning issues from a perspective that doesn't represent the current dogma.

From a personal perspective, I usually seek to accomplish what others think isn't possible. This goes along with TC's profound article titled Things You're Supposed to Do. Before moving to Tucson, numerous people told me that it was ludicrous to move to a state I've never visited in order to start a business in a town where I had no connections. After all, that's something "you're not supposed to do."

Nope, you're supposed to get married, accept the fact that your wife is getting fatter with each passing day, breed 2.5 kids, drive a mini-van, and buy infomercial exercise gadgets. That's not me. I'll be living on the beach in Santa Monica.

Question #10: What one thing in the training/fitness biz makes you want to go on a homicidal rampage?

Waterbury: I get über-pissed when I see a "new" supplement, with little more than a shred of scientific basis, being touted as the answer to a scrawny physique. Whether the supplement in question is boron, nitric oxide, or some ridiculous cortisol blocker, the story's still the same. The spurious claims these companies make set this industry back about three decades.

Boron: Still for sale. Still sucks.

Here's a tip for all readers: If a supplement is being pushed on an infomercial at 2AM, don't buy it. The best supplements don't need such underhanded techniques to sell. How many informercials have you seen for creatine? Some of these supplement companies make Enron look like the Salvation Army.

Also, the late 70's and early 80's push of fixed axis, chrome-laden exercise machines did nothing more than predispose athletes to joint injuries on the playing field. Thanks to a plethora of fixed-lever exercise machines, we now have a section of program design appropriately titled "prehabilitation" to help offset such problems.

Question #11: What music is playing on your iPod these days while you're throwing iron around?

Waterbury: My current favorite iron-throwing music is Corrosion of Conformity's In the Arms of God.

It's an ass-stompin' good time! But there are many classics that I always keep on hand. If you want to get the T-levels boosted, you can't go wrong with Ministry's Psalms 69. Although, when I'm not in the gym, the list becomes rather extensive. I'm never farther than arm's reach from a Drive By Truckers, Waylon Jennings, or Dean Martin CD.

Question #12: Pavel and John Davies get into a street fight. Who wins?

Waterbury: Are there kettlebells involved? Well, I took the Target Focus Training seminar with Pavel. That dude is no slouch! I'd put my money on him. Plus, you can't grab onto his hair to throw him.

Pavel has great balls of fire.

Question #13: What lift or athletic PR are you most proud of?

Waterbury: I'm 6'3" and I have very long femurs. Therefore, when I achieved a raw 600 pound squat at a bodyweight of 220, I was pretty happy.

But the main reason I was proud of this performance was due to the fact that I could also run a 40 in 4.5 seconds, and I had a vertical jump of 38 inches. After all, who cares what you can squat if it doesn't transfer into the outside world?


Thirteen questions, thirteen answers. Done!

Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram