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Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Robert Daniel

Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Robert Daniel! - Pics and info and more!

How Did You Get Started?

I was training for MMA when our jiu jitsu instructor decided one day that we would start doing sumo for conditioning. It didn't take long for my teammates, coaches and me to realize that this was the combat sport I was most gifted in. About a month into this the gym owner came to me and said "We're gonna put you in a sumo tournament." I laughed. "I'm serious," he said. "You don't know how to do it, and we don't know how to coach it, but we're gonna figure it out."

Three months and countless hours of practice, strength training, analyzing sumo video, and instruction by wrestling, judo, jui jitsu, and sambo coaches later we entered me into the US National Sumo Championship where I took a bronze medal. I've entered every tournament I could ever since.

Robert Daniel
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Robert Daniel

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

I train seven days a week. Yes, you read that right, seven. This only works because I absolutely refuse to get less than eight hours of sleep (I shoot for more) plus a nap. I also eat a ton of calories and make flexibility work an essential part of my training. When I do these things I manage to stay relatively injury free.

Basically my program consists of 3 sumo practices, 3 strength training workouts, 3 conditioning/cardio workouts, and 2 stretching/flexibility days.

The first two exercises I perform on lifting days are done initially based on a 3RM, followed by drop sets with higher reps for the assistance movements. I use a percentage based power-lifting program. Generally on "assistance" exercises I do whatever exercises are "calling my name" that day but I've included some examples here that are some of my favorites. Rep ranges from 3-20 (that's not a misprint; I do a lot of drop sets).

Flexibility Training:

Each flexibility workout is about an hour long and is almost identical. I do a light warm-up of about ten minutes (just to get blood flow to muscles and increase elasticity). Then I stretch across every joint (including fingers and toes). Special emphasis is put on hip flexibility (especially the splits) and shoulder flexibility (trying to protect the rotator cuff).

Total Body Stretching:

This is very important for sumo. I set the adductor machine at its widest setting and put the pin in the bottom of the stack. I then slowly lower my hands to the floor and hold 20-30 seconds while practicing my breathing. Total time is 10-20 minutes.

Here's the weekly breakdown:

Day 1: Cardio/Flexibility
Day 2: Sumo Practice
  • Sumo Practice: 1-2 hours
Day 3: Cardio/Flexibility
  • Summit Trainer With Altitude Training Mask: 30 minutes
  • Flexibility: 1 hour
Day 4: Sumo Practice
  • Sumo Practice: 1-2 hours
Day 5: Chest/Back/Cardio
Day 6: Legs/Cardio (optional)
Day 7: Sumo Practice/Delts/Arms

*Sitting on bench take two 25 or 35 or 45s put together flat end out, thumb on one side four fingers on other and "shrug" them off the ground. This is my favorite!

Robert Daniel
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Robert Daniel

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

Basically my nutrition for sumo is composed of 500g of protein a day and 3 gallons of water/day plus whatever else I want to eat. For some reason, the high protein count really curbs my appetite for junk food. I only have enough stomach left for enough carbs to help me get the protein down. I end up having 5-6 meals per day, spaced evenly apart.

Timing on the supplementation is always done AS SUGGESTED on the label. (I'm a big advocate of following directions on supplements, medication, etc.) This is the basic example. I truly eat whatever I want with the emphasis on protein so there are random feedings between the meals listed due to appetite or energy level.

Meal 1:
Meal 2:
Meal 3:
Meal 4:
Meal 5: Post Workout
Robert Daniel
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Robert Daniel

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

I'm not a big "brand name" person. I usually buy supplements based on price/serving and taste (no point in buying cheap RTDs if they're gross and you won't drink them!). But here are some staples that I believe I've gotten the most "bang for my buck" from:

With Meal 1:
With Meal 1 & Post Workout:
With Meal 2:
Post Workout:

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

Sumo is the perfect combat sport for meatheads! It involves explosive power and technique as well as strength and flexibility. Matches normally last anywhere from 4 seconds to 1 minute so you have to be ready to GO full out or lose. It's not a sport to "relax and save your energy". You've got one shot, that's it.

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

I love to compete. I love to win. I hate to lose. But more than anything I love to prepare. I like the numbing experience of endless repetition at a skill so that you become scarily proficient at it. Everyone's favorite parts of the Rocky movies were the training montages, not the fights! I watch videos of the top pro rikishi (wrestlers) and see how precisely they execute their skills. This is the result of endless preparation. That's what I'm after. That level of expertise, but not only in sumo, in everything I do!

"You must make training a part of everyday life."
- Musashi Miyamoto, Book of Five Rings

What Made You Want To Achieve Your Goals?

It's always been important to me to be well rounded, to achieve in multiple areas. The balanced/renaissance man if you will. These areas are Spiritual, Family, Financial/Career, Athletic/Physical and Academic/Mental. They are prioritized in that order and I do some work on each every day. Sumo is the manifestation of the athletic/physical facet.

The physical just happens to be the most visible. We each "wear" our bodies everyday all day. Unfortunately, we are judged (both positively and negatively) on this. How much differently would we think and behave if people could "see" our spirit/soul the minute we walked into a room?

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

  • To continue to get bigger, stronger and leaner. This can only help my sumo game.
  • To win the US National Championships in middle and openweight.
  • To win the world championships.
  • To win an Olympic gold medal (should sumo get into the Olympics, which is a strong possibility)

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

Particularly to guys getting started: There are a thousand reasons to explain why you didn't get started, why you can't train: No partner, no facility, no resources, no support, etc, etc, etc...And only one reason to explain why you won: "I tried."

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

The athletes I have to say I admire most are probably Marius Pudzianowski (if you want to call him a bodybuilder), Branch Warren (for his training intensity), and of course Phil Heath (for his unreal shape and symmetry, something I was not naturally blessed with!)

What Features Do You Use On

It'd be easier to list the ones I haven't used! But in no particular order: