I spoke to Stan recently and he gave me some insights into how he trains his many celebrity clients, men like 50 Cent and Dr. Dre, and how he builds his one-of-a-kind physique. Here's part one of this two part series.
Stan plans to unveil his new physique at the 2009 Jacksonville Pro.
He is a trainer to such stars as Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, and Gerard Butler.
Stan has been featured on the cover of Muscle & Fitness five times.
Since turning pro as a light heavyweight at the 2006 NPC Nationals, the ever symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing Stan McQuay has packed on the mass and will unveil his new physique at the Jacksonville Pro in August 2009. But why has it taken him so long to compete at the pro level?
Having taken a year off competing in 2005 to pack on the mass necessary to move from middleweight to light heavyweight, where he found his home in 2006, Stan has again returned to this tried and tested formula. The result? Almost 15 pounds of solid cut to shreds muscle. But, surprisingly, much of his time since turning pro has not been devoted to his own development. He trains others. With amazing results.
Beginning his bodybuilding journey in 1997 with a first place trophy at the ABA California Natural championships, after several years hitting the iron and developing his physique, Stan has much gym experience and has paid his dues with blood, sweat and pain.
Training with weights for almost 20 years has built Stan one of the best physiques ever seen from both a marketing and hardcore bodybuilding perspective. What he has learned along the way he uses to build and refine the physiques of those wishing to achieve their own muscular success, however marginal by comparison to his incredible development this might be.
Click Image To Enlarge. Stan Has Built One Of The Best Physiques Ever Seen From Both A Marketing And Bodybuilding Perspective.
I spoke to Stan recently and he gave me some insights into how he trains his many celebrity clients, men like 50 Cent and Dr. Dre, and how he builds his one-of-a-kind physique.
[ Q ] What physical progress have you made since you turned pro? What is your current weight and what areas have you brought up?
Since turning pro I would have, overall, put on more size. I took some time off in '07 because of my personal training business, but I started hitting the weights hard again over the last year and I've put on another ten to 15 pounds more muscle overall.
[ Q ] You also took a year off in 2005 to add muscle before your win at the 2006 Nationals. Is this the same strategy you recently took?
Yes, that is correct.
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[ Q ] What steps did you take to pack on the ten to 15 pounds of muscle you speak of? Was there an emphasis on changing your training routine or did you upgrade your diet, or both?
I think it's a little of both. I've had 20 years in the game now - I've been lifting weights since 1990 - and I have had numerous trainers and trained under different philosophies, but I think that over the years in working with different people I've been able to put together my own program that works best for me.
What I basically had to do is not so much power-training and throwing heavy weights around, but a lot more to do with feel, feeling the movements. I already had strict form with good technique, but I am beginning to concentrate on slower movements now and really feeling the muscle.
I think that has helped me a lot better and helped me to improve my separation. And not going too heavy I lessen the risk of getting injured.
[ Q ] You have become injured in the past when training heavy?
Yes, there have been injuries and setbacks. And not only that, I have felt limited in my gains (training this way - too heavy).
I was lifting very heavy weights but I didn't feel I could see the development as much. So I would say pretty much smarter training and since I've been training for so many years I'm learning what muscle maturity is.
Click Image To Enlarge. Since I've Been Training For So Many Years I'm Learning What Muscle Maturity Is.
[ Q ] You competed for several years with the intention of turning pro. How did life change for you after you turned pro?
Well, obviously turning pro has opened the doors to a lot of different avenues, but it has also given a lot more credibility to me as a personal trainer.
It's helped open a lot of doors; I've got a lot more clientele. I am working with many more guys who want to put on muscle. That is my passion; I like working with guys who want to pack on the muscle.
[ Q ] So as a personal trainer you specialize in bodybuilding, but you can work with anyone regardless of his or her physical goals?
Yes, I work with anyone, women and children. I started off doing that; I've worked with a lot of athletes also. But, like I said, I have a passion for guys that like to put on muscle.
[ Q ] Among your current clientele do you have a number of bodybuilders whom you are training for competition?
Yes, I work with a lot of amateur bodybuilders. I've also worked with numerous different pro bodybuilders but I haven't really taken anyone to a show - just a lot of up and coming bodybuilders really.
[ Q ] If I came to you wanting to pack on ten pounds of solid muscle, what kind of program would you put me on? Do you have any general training rules that you follow for packing on the mass and getting in top shape?
Well, first and foremost I would have you understand that when it comes to bodybuilding, whether putting on size or cutting up, your diet is the most important thing.
75 to 80 percent of a person's success in bodybuilding, their outcome, will depend on how well they do on their diet and what they eat. So once you can grasp that, the training part, the lifting weights, that's the easy part.
Click Image To Enlarge. When It Comes To Bodybuilding Your Diet Is The Most Important Thing.
[ Q ] A good diet will enable you to train hard and serve as a foundation for muscle growth post training?
[ Q ] So if I had the best training program in the world but lacked proper nutrition the building blocks simply will not be there for any muscle growth to take place.
Absolutely, and the best example would be those people who you see mucking around doing an hour of cardio a day and they are seeing no changes. Because what they are putting in their body is not working.
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[ Q ] And regarding training you wouldn't necessarily use the program you are on for a beginner. Just how is your current program structured?
I find what works best for me is that I hit pretty much most body parts twice a week. For the first part of the week I will hit my muscles with lower repetitions - a little bit on the heavy side but still controlled movements - and later in the week will be more high volume super setting.
[ Q ] How do you structure your cardio as a competition approaches?
As far as competition goes, yes I will increase my cardio. I do different things, but I do my cardio first thing out of bed. I might also, depending on my progress, do another 20 to 40 minutes right after my workout, but that's about it.
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[ Q ] You have one camp that believes directly after training is best for cardio while another feels that first thing in the morning is the way to go. What is your view here?
It really depends on the person; it depends on how much body fat a person is holding. For me, when I get out of bed my metabolism is screaming so I found that in the past when I did cardio directly out of bed my metabolism increases even more and I can drop body fat even quicker. But it is a case of how on point I am with my diet.
Timing is everything with diet. Just ensuring that I'm consuming different proteins and different carbohydrates at different times of the day.
[ Q ] Directly following your initial cardio sessions you would have a high protein meal?
Oh yes, right after hopping off the cardio machine, depending on how far I am out from a show, but in general straight after cardio I would have two scoops of whey protein then wait 45 minutes before having my first meal of the day.
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[ Q ] How many meals would you have per day in the off-season? And how does this plan change pre-contest?
In general in the off-season I'm getting about five meals a day with around two to three shakes. Come contest time I'm getting in around ten meals.
[ Q ] That's a lot of eating?
Call me crazy but that's all I have ever known - eating every two and half to three hours.
Click Image To Enlarge. Call Me Crazy But That's All I Have Ever Known.
[ Q ] Right now how much of your life is consumed by bodybuilding?
Well it didn't use to be this way and I try not to let bodybuilding be first and foremost in my life because I don't ever want it to become work.
I would consider bodybuilding a hobby; everything else I do - traveling, opening gyms and what not: I would consider that work and bodybuilding a hobby.
[ Q ] Bodybuilding can become all consuming pretty quickly as can often be so addictive for many people. What do you do when you want a break from the bodybuilding scene?
I do a lot of martial arts; I'm still into fighting and Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, I do a lot of that. In the summertime I still go out and surf on the weekends. Other times I like to snowboard, so I'm pretty active.
Muay Thai & Jiu-Jitsu:
Muay Thai is a form of hard martial art practiced in large parts of the world, including Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. Traditional Muay Thai practiced today varies significantly from the ancient art muay boran and uses kicks and punches in a ring with gloves similar to those used in Western boxing.
Jujutsu literally meaning the "art of softness," or "way of yielding" is a collective name for Japanese martial art styles including unarmed and armed techniques. There are many variations of the art, which leads to a diversity of approaches. Jujutsu schools may utilize all forms of grappling techniques to some degree. In addition to jujutsu, many schools taught the use of weapons.
[ Q ] I read somewhere you wanted to get involved in MMA fighting, something that obviously did not come about.
I've been in martial arts since I was seven years old. I remember when the UFC first came out in 1993 - I had already been training for many years and picked up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and began training with a guy called Royce Gracie.
We started getting him ready for his first, second and third UFC competitions. And from that point on I felt that is was what I wanted to do: be in the Octagon and fighting one on one.
[ Q ] And then bodybuilding came along?
Yes, when I started working MMA and on my cardiovascular I just noticed that my body started to change, so I strayed away from the MMA and got more into bodybuilding because of my physique.
Click Image To Enlarge. I Got More Into Bodybuilding Because Of My Physique.
[ Q ] Your physique has been described as having a classical, symmetrical shape. Do you feel this will be your main strength onstage at your pro debut?
Yes, that will most definitely be my strength. I'm never going to be the biggest, most muscular guy onstage no matter how much weight I have on me. I would have to say my strengths would be my aesthetics, my symmetry and conditioning.
[ Q ] No matter how hard one trains they will always have the same basic body structure.
Yes, that is correct. I just don't have that freaky look - that freaky mass monster look. It's just not going to happen.
[ Q ] Given that you present a more balanced physique, would it be fair to say that your body does not have any standout areas.
I think when people see the work I have done to myself over the past two years, they are not going to see anything that really pops out at them.
They will see the mass I have added to my body evenly distributed and that is what the judges have said they would like to see.
So basically I have worked from top to bottom and haven't focused on any one body-part. I have also kept my lines and symmetry and tried not to let my waist get too big. And I've really just packed on the muscle everywhere.
Click Image To Enlarge. I've Really Just Packed On The Muscle Everywhere.
[ Q ] After you won your pro card in 2006, did you get any feedback from the judges or your fellow pros as to what would be the best strategy for you physique-wise, before your entered the fray as a pro?
Before I turned pro they were just beginning the 202-(pound)-Division, so it wasn't really in my mind to step onstage with a guy like Jay Cutler or Ronnie Coleman.
I heard that the 202 class was coming but I still had some growing to do, so I knew that I would fill out my body more, but decided not to try to play the mass game. And that's pretty much what I've been doing.
Well Dr. Dre, he's been lifting weights for a good ten years already. I saw him in and out of the gym and never really making much progress with different trainers. He got to the point where he didn't want to continue wasting his time.
I just finally approached him and said, "Look, if you want to make some changes give me a chance... sit down with me and we'll work a program out for you." And basically that's what we did.
He was roughly 260 pounds so he wasn't a little guy. He was just what I would describe as a skinny fat guy. So when I got hold of him, in a matter of six or seven months we got his body fat down real low and in one year I had him at 210-215 (pounds) and his body fat was down to seven-eight percent. He was in excellent shape.
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Well right now he is finishing his album, Detox, so he is having time off for a couple of months. He's like me in that when it comes time to train or achieve another goal he has a one-track mind and for him, that now means taking time away from training to finish his album.
Once his album is done we will be back in the gym together, training again and getting him ready for a tour.
[ Q ] How were you able to accomplish such great progress with Dr. Dre?
With him I had to pull every trick out of the book. We started off with a lot of the heavier training and kind of running the basics again.
We were training with a lot of sand dunes and climbing, stairs and running - a lot of cardiovascular type work to get a lot of the body fat off. He also had a varied weights program with a lot of supersets; I threw everything at him.
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[ Q ] Do you have to work with your celebrity clients any differently compared to how you would train your average person?
I do train everyone equally, but when it comes down to it - a lot of these guys (actors and musicians) - the difference between the two is obviously the money number one. Number two: a lot of these guys are on deadlines and have the pressure of looking good because they are in the public eye.
So they do require a little bit more attention and there is more pressure because I'm setting the goals for these guys and they have to attain them. It puts a lot of pressure on me.
[ Q ] In saying that, how would you get some of your celebrity clients into peak condition in a shorter period than would otherwise be expected?
First of all a client has to have faith in their trainer. The relationship has to be on point so when I tell them that they have to eat certain meals, they need to understand there is a reason why I'm having them do this and there is going to be no problem if they follow everything I tell them to do.
So basically they have to trust what I'm telling them. And it's very hard because most people aren't used to eating these diets that I put them on. But then they start seeing results. It is really important that I log everything and test their body fat and take weight and measurements as it really keeps them motivated to come back.
Click Image To Enlarge. A Client Has To Have Faith In Their Trainer.
Everybody knows that you are always going to be your harshest critic; when we look in the mirror we don't often see the changes but when we log everything down it is very helpful in monitoring progress.
[ Q ] Do you think that because your celebrity clientele are successful in other arenas, they already have the necessary drive to achieve bodybuilding/fitness success when they come to you?
I would have to say it would be the opposite (laughs). Depending on the particular client - Dre would be an exception because there is a reason whey he is so successful; he puts his mind to it.
If I set him a goal he for sure is going to get there. He will put 110 percent. Whereas a lot of my other (celebrity) clients expect to come in and breeze through their workouts and that puts a lot of pressure on me.
"Come on why am I not moving the weight, I'm not getting in shape?" Most people don't know what it takes, do not know what it means to be a bodybuilder, what it takes to look that way. It is like you go to the gym for an hour a day and take a couple of pills. It doesn't work that way.
Click Image To Enlarge. Most People Don't Know What It Takes To Be A Bodybuilder.
[ Q ] Could we expect someone from a sporting background to make better initial progress than one who has not been quite so active?
Absolutely. 100 percent, I agree with that.
[ Q ] Who are among your other celebrity clients?
Well currently I'm working with Gerard Butler. Gerard Butler was the leader in the movie 300. I'm not trying to get him in the kind of shape he was for that movie but he has to get into good condition.
I have worked with 50 Cent, who is also Dr. Dre's prodigy. I've also worked with numerous martial artists including George St. Pierre, the UFC World Champion.
[ Q ] George St. Pierre has an amazing physique, probably more so than any other UFC competitor. Does he specifically train for size as part of his fighting regime or does the more functional training he does give him the physique he has?
For him it would be detrimental if I trained him like a bodybuilder. He wouldn't be as successful as he is. So it is more functional training and a good diet and whatnot.
With him it is having the right genetics. We don't try to specially target his muscle development or a specific body part like biceps. The guy trains like an animal and has great genetics.
[ Q ] Another of your clients, 50 Cent, has a great build as well. Do you train him specifically to gain muscle or is his development largely genetic too?
Well he is naturally a bigger guy, believe it or not. This last year he actually wanted to lose some weight. He walks around at about 250 - a big guy. Normally I get him down to about the 210-215 mark; that means a lot of work for him and a lot of cardio.
Click To Enlarge. 50 Cent Is Naturally A Bigger Guy, Believe It Or Not..
[ Q ] Was his goal to get more ripped for marketing purposes or because he simply wanted to look that way?
Both. I would say a lot of it was for marketing purposes as he is expected to come out with a different look. But also when you start seeing a different look and when these guys start getting lean they get really excited so they try to maintain that.
[ Q ] How tall is 50 Cent? He looks of medium height in his videos.
[ Q ] If you were to put either of these two on a hardcore bodybuilding program could they conceivably be successful competitors?
(Laughs) I don't know if they could be competitors but I'll tell you one thing: they could definitely pull off a cover.
Like Muscle and Fitness: they really wanted to put Dr. Dre on the cover and we prepared for that; trained weeks for it. Without a doubt he could have pulled it off but it didn't happen.
[ Q ] Speaking of covers, you yourself have been on the front of Muscle and Fitness four or five times I believe.
Yes, it's been about five times.
[ Q ] That must be some kind of a record.
Yes (laughs)- I'm very blessed; it is the magazine I'd always dreamed I'd be on. Even to be on it one time I was in awe. When I look back now it has been four, or maybe five with the international ones.
Click Image To Enlarge. Muscle & Fitness Is The Magazine I'd Always Dreamed I'd Be On.
[ Q ] Do you think your physique is of the marketable type, one able to crossover and appeal to the mainstream, as well as the hardcore bodybuilding audience?
I think over the years that it was kind of my goal. It was never really a goal of mine to be a pro bodybuilder or to step on the Olympia stage, although if it ever happened that would be a great accomplishment.
Coming from my background I like to appeal more to the masses and like to keep, like you said, right in the middle. So obviously I look like a bodybuilder, but I also look like somewhat of fitness person.
[ Q ] What of your personal qualities would you attribute to the fact that you are a successful personal trainer?
I would have to say probably my personality; I get along with these guys great and to get that camaraderie these guys have to have some trust in me.
You have to make it fun. I'm not the drill sergeant type person but when I do come in I demand your attention. But I'm also going to work with you. If I tell you something, you are going to trust what I say.
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[ Q ] Getting back to 50 Cent, what kind of training program did you have him on? Was it similar to that which you had Dr. Dre following?
It was somewhat similar. But with 50 Cent he was already a big muscular guy. With him we did a lot more of the plyometrics, a lot of supersets and drop sets.
We were just keeping him active and keeping his heart rate up all of the time; whereas with Dre my goal was to get a lot of his body fat off, and then build him back up. I cut a lot of body fat off him and he wanted some muscle on him so we kind of trained like a bodybuilder would.
[ Q ] With 50 Cent it was a case of doing more endurance type work?
[ Q ] How much of an emphasis do you place on endurance work as a general rule?
I think it is important. It works hand in hand with the diet and the weight training as well. The cardiovascular is important when trying to get the body fat down but it's also important that you work your heart because it is a muscle and you don't want to just look healthy, you want to be healthy. I would stress that the cardiovascular component is really important.
[ Q ] With bodybuilding though there is only so much cardio you can do before muscle gains are compromised.
There is overtraining. With my clients I explain to them about getting their heart rate to a certain level while training and of how much (cardio training) to do.
A lot of guys will get in there and wear themselves into the ground and will complain that they are not sweating to death. They feel they are not working hard enough and that's just not true. There can definitely be overtraining with cardio.
[ Q ] How difficult is it to get the perfect balance of weight training, cardiovascular work and nutrition for your clients?
I have been doing this long enough to know exactly how these guys will respond to a given program.
[ Q ] When doing a needs-analysis on a given client how do you know if that person has a predisposition for packing on muscle fast?
First and foremost, just visually you can kind of tell based on certain body types people have: like ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph. But I just sit down and go over the history of how active they have been, what kinds of injuries they have had, what kind of diet they are on, and basically go from there.
And it is, of course, important that I know what goals they are trying to accomplish. You can't just basically take a client - like I see all the time - and put them on the same program. Whether it is a guy or a girl and big guy or a little guy.
[ Q ] Final question Stan: what are your current competition plans?
Right now my initial goal is to make my debut at the Jacksonville Pro on August 3rd. I just picked the August shows because they have a line-up of competitions around that time - four to five in a row, I believe. So I plan on making my pro debut August 3rd at the Jacksonville, then on the 7th is the Tampa Pro and on the 14th is the Europa.
I just had surgery on my back so that set me back several weeks. I had a growth removed from my back so that put me out for about three or four weeks. Some people get these but mine happened to grow to the size of a baseball.
Click Image To Enlarge. My Initial Goal Is To Make My Debut At The Jacksonville Pro On August 3rd.
I knew I had to get that out because with my body fat being as low as it is, I knew when I got onstage it would look really odd. So I had surgery to take it out and there were a few complications afterwards, but I still plan on competing in August.