Name: Omar Isuf
Location: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: YouTube content creator and fitness trainer
Education: CPTN/CanFitPro certified
Have you met Omar Isuf? If not, here are five reasons you should get to know him:
- He's a bona fide badass and jacked as hell
- He's helped hundreds of thousands on YouTube get fit
- His best gym lifts include a 350-pound touch-and-go bench press, a 500-pound squat, and a 585-pound deadlift
- He deadlifted 545 pounds in a green Power Ranger costume
- Really? What more do you want?!
If you've ever scoured YouTube for fitness advice and tips, you've probably come across an Omar production at some point. Since 2009, this Canada-based trainer has been carving his way into the current landscape of online fitness help by offering a variety of beginner and advanced lifting advice and doling out his own training philosophy of "athletic aesthetics."
Omar tells it how it is, but he likes to add a sugary coat of goofiness to his videos, making them both entertaining and informative—"infotainment," as the cool kids call it.
While managing both his YouTube channel and coaching business takes a majority of his time, Omar still manages to work his own ass off in the gym. "I just finished a lean-mass-training phase, and now I'm going to get shredded," he says of his next personal fitness conquest. Omar then adds, perhaps jokingly, "I want those striated glutes."
I caught up with Omar between endless sets of hip thrusts and butt blasters (OK, not really) to get his personal story, understand what motivates this trainer, net some of his best advice, and steal his full fitness program!
The Need to Dial It In
Growing up, Omar was an active kid—it was in his blood. His mom was a competitive sprinter, so sports were ingrained in him early. Omar participated in soccer, baseball, track—basically any and every activity under the sun. "I loved track and I did all right, but in high school, I got into a heavy academic program, which forced me to let physical activity fall by the wayside. Slowly but surely, I got out of shape," Omar says of his later teen years.
Omar let things slide until his first year of college. Around this time, however, he came face to face with just how far he'd let things slide. "I raced one of my former track teammates," Omar recalls, "and I got floored. Adding insult to injury, not only did I lose the race, but because I was so out of shape, my blood sugar crashed. I realized that I was in bad shape."
This event didn't quench Omar's fire for fitness, however. In fact, it sparked a newfound desire to dial it in. "I was like, 'Man, I want to get in shape,'" Omar says. "I missed that feeling of being 'on', when your body is dialed in and you're training for a specific goal.'"
Vlog My Life The Story of Omar Isuf
Watch the video - 5:50
Omar hit up the university gym, sought guidance from his weightlifting brother, and pushed himself with a simple need to look awesome. Then, just like that, Omar was hooked. He admits, "I got addicted to the feeling [of lifting] and how I looked. Of course, let's face it, there's that vanity aspect—everybody wants to look good naked."
Falling in Love With Fitness
But Omar doesn't love fitness merely for how it makes him look. "Fitness in general is a continual process of self-improvement," he says. "How you express that is up to you—whether it's getting stronger, building more muscle, getting leaner, getting more athletic, adding a new modality to your training. I think training is a constant evolution of yourself, and your body is a reflection of your current goals and the expression of what you do."
Omar recommends falling in love with fitness however you can, and then letting the long-term journey shape your goals. "When I first started, [lifting] stemmed from the desire to improve myself, get in the best shape, and really challenge myself," Omar says. "There's always an element of vanity, of wanting to look good, but the underlying drive always came from wanting to be on, to feel that vitality and energy, to prove to myself that I can do the things that I put my mind to."
Nowadays, Omar has turned his sights to Olympic lifting to continue his never-ending pursuit of self-improvement.
Setting Realistic Expectations
One of Omar's most-watched videos on his YouTube channel highlights his three-year natural transformation, which shows the physique progress he's made and documents a remarkable shift in his training approach. This video is powerful primarily because it shows that building muscle takes time—a long time—and consistent, smart training.
"[That video] is really anticlimactic because people expect super-fast results, like, 'In 6 weeks, he got jacked!' But no, it kind of took me three years," explains Omar. "After getting 'newbie gains,' muscle growth slows down and a lot of people lose motivation because they're like, 'What the hell is going on?' People want those instant results, and unfortunately they often end up quitting."
OMAR ISUF 3 Year NATURAL Body Transformation
Watch the video - 3:16
Omar recognizes that anything worth doing takes time and hard work. To keep himself on track, he surrounded himself with positive influences—including his brother and other strong athletes—who realized that achieving one's goals isn't an overnight process.
"They understand that to be good at the sport takes 10 years or 15 years—it takes a really long time," Omar says. "The difference is approaching the mentality of an athlete or someone who's trying to hone a specific craft. A piano player doesn't sit down and say, 'Shit, in six weeks, I'm going to be Mozart.'"
For some reason, when it comes to their fitness goals, people often lose sight of this simple realization. Omar says we buy into the promises of fast results because of our own insecurities. "Our insecurities drive us to think, 'I'm not big enough, I'm not lean enough, or I'm not strong enough!'" says Omar. "You gotta understand that we all want the results we would get in a year like yesterday or a week ago. It never comes fast enough, and that's part of the process."
Omar's Nutrition Philosophy
Omar follows flexible dieting principles, or what's known as "If It Fits Your Macros" (IIFYM), which is—put simply—a dietary practice that doesn't restrict any particular foods or food groups, so long as you can fit those foods into your daily caloric and macronutrient goals.
"I think IIFYM is generally misunderstood. People understand that calories and macros are what influence body composition, and micronutrients focus on health and longevity, but I think people abuse IIFYM and give it a bad image," Omar says, referring to numerous online posts of junk foods tagged with IIFYM.
Even so, if followed appropriately, Omar believes flexible dieting is the best way to eat because it's very easy to understand: Establish your caloric intake, set your macro targets, and eat any foods that help you hit those targets. Omar says this is more concrete than, say, clean eating.
"When you think about the definition of clean eating," he says, "it's kind of nebulous. Are we talking about unprocessed foods? Because whey protein is very processed, but it's not bad for you—it's very good for you. So when we say 'clean eating,' it's kind of a phrase that we throw around but really don't understand."
If you want to see what a sustainable IIFYM plan looks like, give Omar's sample meal plan a shot!
Oat flakes: 1 cup
Wild blueberries: 1 cup
Flaxseed: 1 tbsp
Banana: 1 medium
Goat milk: 1 cup
Water: 1 cup
Protein powder: 1 scoop
Goat milk: 1 cup
Spinach: 1/2 cup
Whole eggs: 4
Egg whites: 4
Fruit: 2 pieces
Ezekiel bread: 2 slices
Butter: 1 tbsp
Chicken breast: 4 oz.
Jasmine rice: 1-1/2 cups
Assorted veggies: 1 cup
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
Top sirloin: 6 oz.
Asparagus: 1 cup
Sweet potato: 1 medium
Omar's Training Plan
At the time of this writing, Omar had just finished a "lean-mass-building" phase (which is to build mass with as little fat gain as possible) with this program.
For his supplement stack, Omar sticks with basics such as creatine, citrulline malate, and beta-alanine to help with power output and reduce fatigue during a workout.
Go, Go Deadlifting Power Ranger!
Before I let Omar off the hook during our interview, I had to ask about his now-infamous 545-pound deadlift performed in a green Power Ranger costume.
Green POWER RANGER Trolls a Gym
Watch the video - 1:55
"I wanted a cool intro to my videos because I noticed everyone else had a predictable graphic or whatever," Omar recalls. "So, Halloween of that year, the suit arrived at the gym I was at. I thought, 'In two days, I'm going to a Halloween party with this suit, so why don't I also pull a new deadlift PR?
"Little did I know, the costume is pretty much the worst thing to wear when you're trying to deadlift," Omar says. "First of all, it's uncomfortable. With the visor, you can't even see in front of you. I couldn't even see what I was doing and almost damn near snapped my arm on the first attempt. But luckily for me, it was the first video that went I guess, well, 'viral.' When people saw that, they started to associate it with me."
Who knows? If you follow Omar's advice, plan, and principles long enough, you might be able to pull 545 in a costume one day, too.