- Name: Joseph "Bazooka Joe" Valtellini
- Location: Toronto, Ontario
- Age: 29
- Height: 5'11"
- Weight: 170 lbs
- Division: Middleweight, Super Middleweight
- Reach: 73"
- Style: Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Taekwondo
- Kickboxing Record: 11 wins (10 by K.O.), 2 losses (1 by K.O.)
Most of us, including professional athletes, don't have time to train around the clock all day, every day. Canadian "Bazooka Joe" Valtellini, age 29, knows a thing or two about the fight against time. By day, he works full-time as a physical education teacher for special needs students. By night, he's a professional Muay Thai kickboxer.
As you can imagine, both of Joe's professions are physically and mentally demanding. They also both require a lot of precious time, but Joe hasn't let that or any other excuses hinder his goal of dominating the world championship kickboxing circuit.
Just three years into his pro fighting career, the Scarborough, Ontario, native will step into "Glory 17: Los Angeles" on June 21, 2014, to face Marc de Bonte for the welterweight world championship belt. His preparation and training schedule leading up to this fight are jam-packed. His prep includes five kickboxing sessions a week alongside two special strength-training sessions with coach Costa Kladianos of Tempus Performance, all on top of Joe's full-time job.
Bazooka Joe is also cutting down from an already lean 200 pounds to an even leaner fighting weight. In the midst of this madness, he carved out some time to talk with me about training, eating, and staying mentally sharp. Follow Bazooka Joe's sage advice and start to kick your own goals in the ass.
Get Your Mind Right
"One of my greatest strengths as a martial artist is the mental focus I've developed," says Joe. "I have a very strong, focused mind and I'm good at managing and separating my life stress, work stress, and my training. I keep my work problems and stress at work. When I'm there, I don't think about my training or fighting at all. Even the stress of a title fight, I just don't have time to think about that at work. I'm really focused on my job. But when I'm at the gym, my mind is completely focused on my training and nothing else."
Valtellini believes that a one-track mind is crucial to focusing your all to the task at hand and to get the most out of your training. No matter who you are, what you do, and what you have to deal with, partition your to-dos and focus only on training when you're in the gym.
While in a muscle-building phase, it's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to eat whatever junk you can get your hands on and pull out the "dirty bulk" card. Bazooka Joe emphasizes the quality of foods he puts into his hard-working body, even when he's gaining mass between fights or heading into a fight.
This way, Joe doesn't have to rapidly cut excess fat before a fight. Eating clean allows him to slowly dial back his caloric load and safely take off pounds until he's ready for the weigh-in. In order to ensure he can eat high-quality protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats, Valtellini prepares his meals in advance.
A typical day for the kickboxer involves an egg white and whole egg omelet with greens for breakfast. He always prepares two more meals—usually chicken breast and mixed vegetables—to eat during the day at work.
When he leaves work to drive to his training session, Joe drinks a Beast Whey protein shake. He slugs another one after his workouts along with Beast Aminolytes to maximize his recovery. Joe also uses Beast Creature creatine during mass-gaining phases to pack on lean muscle.
"As far as I'm concerned, creatine is the best legal muscle builder on the market," says Joe's strength trainer, Costa Kladianos. "It helps [Joe] work harder. It's the most widely studied supplement of all time."
Recover To Get Stronger
In combat sports, athletes take pride in physically pushing themselves to the brink and beating up their own bodies during training—all gas and no brakes. After all, combat athletes are in the business of making other people hurt in the ring. The downside of this mentality is that these athletes—perhaps more so than most—put themselves at a serious risk of overtraining. The best coaches seek to mitigate this risk and help their athletes thrive and grow stronger.
"It's very hard as an athlete to stop myself from just training more and more when I have a big fight. That's why you need a coach to make sure you're not overtraining," says Valtellini. "We've seen so many athletes go into a fight overtrained. We're strong believers in proper rest and not overtraining. It's important to have a coach who knows what he's talking about. My coach can tell by the way I walk to the gym or the look on my face. If I look overtrained, he'll send me home and tell me I'm not doing anything anymore."
Not everyone is lucky enough to be coached by a world-class knowledge tank like Kladianos, who has worked with the NBA's Toronto Raptors and NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs. However, you can still adopt Kladianos's advice for your own training to avoid overdoing it. "More isn't always better," he says. "You have to make sure you're training hard enough, but take rest and recovery just as seriously. If you're pushing yourself to the point where you lack motivation, you're tired, and getting injured, you're overtrained. You have to listen to your body. Everyone is different."
Get Strong, Then Get Explosive
Combat sports athletes like Valtellini grow up living and breathing martial arts, spending decades cultivating the supreme technique, agility, and reflexes required to make it as professionals. But combat also requires a solid source of strength and power, which any athlete or enthusiast can train. Focus on building raw strength first.
Kladianos applies a simple but effective approach to help Valtellini harness strength and channel it into explosiveness. "In [Joe's] offseason, the time between fights, we work more on his hypertrophy with a strength phase focusing on legs, hip, back, and compound movements. It's nothing out of the ordinary.
"We don't follow fads. Eight weeks out, we transfer that strength to an explosive phase so he can use that strength in the ring. The key is getting his hips moving as fast as possible to get his kicks and punches as fast as possible. It's great to have strength, but if it's not fast, then it won't help you in the ring."
Ready to get Bazooka Joe strong? Follow his three-day program below for lean muscle and strength gains. For maximum gains, wait at least two days between each session.
Phase One: Strength
Over the course of four weeks, scale the weight for each exercise from 70 percent of one-rep max (1RM) to 90 percent of 1RM, and then begin phase two of the program as shown below.
Phase Two: Explosiveness
Over the course of four weeks, scale the weight for each exercise from 60 percent of 1RM to 90 percent of 1RM, then cycle back to the Phase One program, as shown above.