Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Steven Herman

Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Steven Herman! - Pics and info and more!

How Did You Get Started?

When I was 15 I used to go to the YMCA to play basketball, swim, and I'd do a little boxing and fool around with the weights.

Throughout my twenties I'd go to the gym maybe 2 or 3 times a week, but I only went because I thought I kind of "had to". I was too caught up in my blossoming career as both an ad guy and a hard core alcoholic to put too much effort into the gym.

When I hit 30, after a decade of eating whatever I wanted, working long hours, weekends and drinking excessively, it finally caught up with me as I became soft and doughy (Herm soft and doughy? No way, Jose! Yes way, Jose!), which was very at odds with my personality: very type A and hyperactive. I really poured it on that year and got myself into the best shape of my life and thus began a cycle that continued throughout my 30s and early 40s of getting myself in really good shape once a year and then totally blowing it and then doing it all over again.

At age 43 the alcoholism pretty much took over and I began not going to the gym at all in order to pursue drinking with the same ardor I pursue fitness today. By the time I was 47, I was a broken down shell of my former self, which, honestly, was never really anything so terrific.

I pretty much threw in the towel physically and would have been content to plod along with my drinking and my slothful ways, until one day I got this horribly excruciating pain in my stomach. I went to the doctor and he thought it was pancreatic cancer. "Wow," I thought, "this is it. My life is over and it never turned out the way I wanted it to. If I could get one more chance, just ONE more, I'm going to stop drinking cold turkey and live the life I've always imagined, but never had the courage or discipline pull off."

Subsequently, I went for a biopsy and they found that I had pancreatitis. I stopped drinking as of that DAY. Wham. When I got my strength back—I had wasted away to 147 pounds and I'm 200 plus pounds today—I hit the gym with 100 percent intensity and focus. There were a few times--and I am not exaggerating--when I first started that I literally quit in the middle of a workout and walked out of the gym, but halfway home I'd turn around and say that quitting is the OLD me and the NEW me is never gonna' quit. (That's how the 'failure is not an option' stuff on my BB.Com page was born.)

I'd do an about face and head back to the gym and finish what I started. I think that that whole experience burned new synapses into my brain, because I approach everything with that attitude now. That was 3 years ago. I've been improving every month and I have photos to bear this out. So in that capacity, I've only really started training 3 years ago. That's where it really started for me at age 47.

Steven Herman
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Steven Herman

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

The original Cybergenics workout from the 80s. I have it meticulously written out on a Bodyspace Blog entry: "Cybergenics 2009". It involves a lot of dropsets, isometrics and pre-exhausts, which are classic old school Weider techniques. You do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. I do that for three months and then experiment and refine my own routines for three months.

I'm an AFPA certified personal trainer and certified by Frank Zane bodybuilding trainer. I'm a veracious reader and self-proclaimed "mad scientist" of all things fitness and bodybuilding, so I enjoy using myself as a guinea pig to try new things. I try to make it my business to try at least one experiment every workout. I'm also a bit of a mad scientist with fitness equipment and gadgets.

I had to rent out two whole lockers in my gym for my stuff and those lockers are so cramped I'm going to have to look at renting a third. I am not kidding. I open the door of one of those lockers and mountains of stuff tumble out. My latest obsession is the Tornado ball and experimenting with using the Jettison technique, which involves combining elastic bands and free weights.

Day 1: Cardio/Abs/Legs

On legs day I do calf training first. It is the Weider priority principle of training a weak muscle first when you have the most strength and energy.

Day 2: Cardio/Abs/Back
Day 3: Cardio/Abs/Triceps
Day 4: Cardio/Abs/Legs
Day 5: Abs/Chest
Day 6: Abs/Biceps
Day 7: Abs/Shoulders

* Cardio

This is not "true" cardio, as I don't quickly jump from one to the next maintaining a steady heart rate for a prolonged period of time, I consider it more of a mental and physical warm-up. Most of cardio involves some type of boxing drills.

* Pull-Ups

Hang from bar at the end of last rep of last set for stretch in lats, also do partial reps in sets 2-5.

* Pec Deck

Grip palms facing each other seat raised as high as it will go, holding handle toward the bottom. This will work the infraspinatus and teres minor.

* Barbell Pullovers

Body perpendicular to bench to form a plus sign/cross. Really go for a good stretch at the bottom of this movement while alternately dropping your hips. This will really give the lats you've just annihilated a great stretch.

* Dip Assist Machine

Pin at the top on least resistance make sure to go really low on the negative and get a good stretch on those pecs that you've been working up to this point. Leaning forward is important to put less emphasis on the triceps and put more emphasis on the lower and outer pecs, as does the wider grip.

* Pulley Flyes

Pulley flyes I do these bent over and arch my lower back and stick my glutes out to focus more on overall pecs, as opposed doing this standing straight up, which will hit lower/outer pecs more and I just finished hitting that with the wide grip dips leaning forward.

* Hammer Strength Press

Occasionally I'll do some seated hammer press high-ish reps (15/20) with fairly light weights to finish if I know I am going to be in front of a camera in a few weeks, but usually I end it with the flyes and I am fried at that point.

* Leg Raise With Bosu

Bring legs up all the way up until bottom of feet are parallel with ceiling. Keep legs straight and go to failure. IMPORTANT: Lift coccyx/lower back off ball (or back of pad if it is a standard leg raise apparatus) at the top of the movement or you are mostly working the hip flexors, not abs. The amount of reps I can do drops off dramatically after the first set, from about 20 to about 6. That's to be expected if you work your first set really hard and don't rest too long between sets. This is my least favorite ab routine because it hurts the most.

Steven Herman
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Steven Herman

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

I'm working on perfecting my own lifelong, lifetime system for healthy yet delicious eating that I can parlay in to a book. Every single diet out there will inevitably fail. As soon as the "diet" is over people go back to their old ways, usually with a vengeance and wind up worse off than when they started. People always fall for these fad diets.

As Albert Einstein said, "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." You need to alter the way you eat and change the way you approach food and eating permanently. If you adopt a lifestyle of eating smart consistently you'll never have to worry about your weight--I sure as hell don't--or go on fad diets that, as I said, will inevitably fail.

If you fall off the wagon for one day or one meal? No big deal. Get right back on track and forget about your transgression. It's good to have a cheat day once in a while anyway to recalibrate your metabolism. Another thing that keeps me on track is the ability to prepare healthy, body-friendly food that tastes great. It can be done. In fact, and I'm going to use a technical term here, it's "Easy schmeasy".

I am putting together a YouTube show to help people out in that department. The people who can most successfully lose weight and maintain a healthy life style are foodies. When it comes to healthy eating, people who know how to cook and make ingredients taste good have a distinct advantage over those who can't.

Meal 1:
  • 5 egg whites, 1 yolk cooked in virgin coconut oil
  • 2 slices uncured nitrate-free ham and kimchi
Meal 2:
Meal 3:
Meal 4:
  • Same As Meal 2
Meal 5: Pre Workout
Meal 6: Post Workout
Meal 7:
Meal 8:
Meal 9: Before Bed (when not in cutting mode)
Steven Herman
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Steven Herman

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

Amino gel caps, desiccated liver tablets and colostrum. I take handfuls and handfuls of these every chance I can get, whether I am bulking cutting or maintaining. I take plenty of other supplements for overall health and vitality, but those three seem to work for me as far as pure muscle building benefits. HMB deserves honorable mention, so does ecdysterone, which is a very excellent product. I highly recommend both.

Anyone serious about health and fitness would be remiss not to take a good multivitamin along with, of course, fish oil, preferably salmon oil and Coenzyme Q10 for energy. Interestingly enough, I first joined Bodybulding.com because it met all my supplement needs and delivers lickity split, (thank me very much for the free plug, guys) then after that, I stumbled onto BodySpace and HermtheWorm was born. The rest, as they say, was history.

With Every Non-Shake Meal:
With All Meals:
Pre Workout, Post Workout, & Evening:
Post Workout:
Before Bed:

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

I love the mental aspect of it. In fact, most people at the gym where I work out think I'm very mental. The duration and intensity of my training requires total focus and intense concentration. I'm not a guy who can la-dee-dah it to the gym. It takes me about a half hour (at least) to get amped up and in the zone.

I know that once I'm at the gym there's always (every single workout) going to be moments during the course of my training where I think "Herm, how the hell are you going to get through this one?" If I don't have at least one moment like that, then it is not a "real" workout for me, not a mental challenge nor spiritually uplifting.

There are times when I get a little overwhelmed thinking about the workload in front of me during a training session, when that happens I take a step back and think, "Okay, just do this one set, right now, give it everything and don't even think about the next one. You can't do more than one set at a time."

I try not to overthink things while training. I just boil it down to these two words that I repeat in my head over and over, it's my mantra: Focus and finish. Focus and finish. Johan Christoph Fredrich von Schillera a great German poet and philosopher noted, "Who reflects too much will accomplish little."

Which can be summed up even more succinctly by Ronnie Coleman, who wears a tee shirt that says, "Shut up and squat." That bodybuilding mentality carries over to my day-to-day life outside of the gym as well. I think the world would be a better place if everyone would just "Shut up and ______" fill in the blank; whether it's shut up and be a good husband/wife, or shut up and cook dinner or shut up and whatever. A little more shutting up and a lot more doing is the way to go. Okay, I'll shut up now.

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

I don't really need a whole lot of motivation in that department. I've weaned myself off crappy, unhealthy food to the point where it doesn't taste good to me any more, and seriously, it doesn't. I have my cheat days to remind me what eating poorly feels like and sitting there all bloated and sluggish isn't my idea of fun, especially with all the wonderful, tasty and healthy alternatives out there.

The same goes for going to the gym. I'd sooner stop breathing than stop working out. A body—especially one as old as mine-- needs to be jolted into action with exercise, which tells it, "Hey, I'm alive. Wake up!" If you don't exercise, your body says, "Okay, if that's the way you feel about it, I'm going to close up shop."

What Made You Want To Achieve Your Goals?

It's not that I want to achieve my goals; I have to. My Bodyspace signature(s) of "Failure is not an option" and "There is no easy way" says all that needs to be said on that subject. Whenever I suffer a setback, and believe you me, I have had more than my share; I just remind myself that failure is just a temporary condition.

(So is success, unfortunately) Once again--failure is not an option. Period. Not negotiable. That, followed by "There is no easy way", is all the mantras I need to reach any goal or overcome any obstacle. I am very patient and methodical; I force myself to be because I am the exact opposite by nature. My thinking is "I may not be there yet, but at least I am closer than I was yesterday". With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.

Steven Herman
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Steven Herman

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

For the past year and a half I've been working on putting together my skill set and credentials to be a well-known fit and fifties fitness personality along the lines of Richard Simmons, Body by Jake and Susan Powter. I've racked up two personal trainer certifications, one AFPA and one by three time Mr. Olympia Frank Zane and am this close to finishing my nutrition and wellness consultant certification. I also racked up TRX training certification.

In that time I've also put together what I think is a very top-notch fitness model portfolio and have gotten a few high profile write-ups in places like Simply Shredded and Fully Flexed among others. During this time I've been attending improvisation classes at New York's top improv schools, The Upright Citizens Brigade and The People's Improv Theater to hone my skills as a comic and entertainer.

I've been a dedicated gourmet foodie and amateur chef for the better part of a quarter of a century and have even attended The French Culinary institute. My last career was as an advertising agency art director so I have very good production, communication and editing skills. I am going to put this skill set together to get me to where I need to go.

Combining fitness, funny and food (I am going to open an LLC called 3Fs productions) as well as being able to pull everything together production-wise should really help my cause. I can't go in to any further details as a few of my ideas have already been stolen and implemented and this project is too near and dear to my heart to reveal any more.

I also plan on doing a local advertising campaign, since I've been doing award winning ads for years and years, and do a personal trainer ad campaign featuring pictures of yours truly. I plan to be a trainer who will train you at home (look like a fitness model or be trained by one) or I can also have clients come to my palatial penthouse if they don't care for gyms and I can train them there, indoors or on one of my three spacious terraces.

Getting my name out there could hopefully help me to get endorsement deals, as there are very few guys in their fifties who have my physique, ridiculously youthful appearance and are as well-spoken as I am--not to mention funny. As Dizzy Dean said "It ain't braggin' if you can back it up." So don't be hatin' on Herm.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

I can't really answer that, as I have never actually competed. The only competition I have participated in is beating my previous bests physique-wise month after month for the last almost 3 years; and that's what I mean in my BB.Com signature when I say, "I am the competition."

You can always go out there and find someone who has a less developed, less defined physique than you and feel good about yourself based on that. Subsequently, you can also always find someone out there who possesses a more developed, more defined physique than you and use that to make yourself miserable. You can drive yourself crazy that way and it will get you nowhere fast.

The only yardstick you should go by is where you (Not anybody else...You) were, where you are and where you're headed. That's what the Bbcom progress section is all about and what I mean when I say, "I am the competition."

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

I'd have to say myself. If people don't like it they can lump it. Up until the age of 47 I thought that I was this humble and modest guy; in reality I was this guy with low self-esteem. Basically, I used to think of myself as a chicken; then I came to my senses and realized that I wasn't. Puzzled? This little parable illustrates exactly what mean:

A man found an eagle's egg and put it in the nest of a backyard chicken. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the backyard chickens did. Thinking he was one of them, he scratched the earth for worms and insects, he clucked and cackled, and he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet in the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird flying far above him, gliding in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents with scarcely a beat of its strong wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. "What's that?" he asked. "That's the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbor. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth—we're chickens." So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

I've been a chicken and I've been an eagle. It's a lot more fun being an eagle. Most guys my age are bald eagles.

What Features Do You Use On Bodybuilding.com?

What features don't I use on Bodybuilding.com? I use every facet of Bodyspace to chart my progress and keep track of where I was, am and where I'm going. I throw up my goals and aspirations for all the world to see on Bodybuilding.com, occasionally venturing into the land of "too much information".

I have to get the job done or I will lose credibility with all my friends and acquaintances (both of them). I will be scorned and reviled, tarred and feathered, run out of town on a rail and made into a veritable pariah... Okay, so I'm getting a bit carried away here—as usual--but I do put up my goals and aspirations and I'll be damned if I don't live up to each and every one of them.

Also, I am not speaking in hyperbole when I refer to other Bodybuilding.com'ers as kindred spirits; practically everyone here is a likeminded fitness/bodybuilding person and no matter what stage of the game they are at, we're are usually on the same page. This is important to me.

For instance, when my wife tells me about this person or that, the first thing I'll do is lift one eyebrow and ask, "Do they work out?" Not that it makes you a bad person if you don't exercise; it just makes you a person to whom I would rather not be acquainted. Just kidding (ish).