This special NUTRISHOP Workout of the Week focuses on two aspects of a good workout that people often need help with: motivation and technique. With some help from A.J. Kirsch, well-known for his appearance on “WWE Tough Enough,” a reality show searching for America’s next star pro wrestler, we’ve put together an intense training program designed to put on muscle and keep you challenging yourself.
Kirsch made it to the eighth round of the 10-round competition, even winning his skills challenge but getting eliminated controversially despite it. Kirsch made an appearance on WWE Superstars this summer, developed as one of the competition’s most rooted-for wrestlers, and has developed thousands of fans since the show aired. But the late elimination from Tough Enough hasn’t gotten him down but rather motivated him further, and that’s what he takes into his workouts every time.
“I’m in a unique situation, with a very specific goal that I’ve been working toward for years, and I too have my days where I don’t want to go, or I’m not feeling it,” Kirsch says. “But something happens once I get to the gym and start to get warmed up, and I just get excited. It’s an opportunity to improve. Even though when I wake up I may not be that motivated to get to the gym, I know I’m going to feel 100 times better walking out than I did walking in. It’s getting past the point where it’s a chore, and once you get in that habit you start seeing results, you’ll wonder how you went without it.”
It’s no secret the WWE is packed with huge, intimidating figures, so while Kirsch knows he is “fit” when compared to Average Joe, he also has to account for the competition he hopes to one day meet again. At 6 feet tall, he’s considered on the short side for WWE wrestlers.
“Pro wrestling is a land of giants, so you have to be able to hold your own,” Kirsch says. “I’m not blessed with great height, so I’ve got to prepare my body to go against someone who literally weighs twice as much as I do and is a foot taller.”
To accomplish this, Kirsch has added 2,000 calories to his daily intake and hovers between 4,000 and 4,500 a day, mostly from clean carbs and proteins while also including healthy fats. With an intense five-to-six days a week in the gym, he makes sure to get the most out of every second spent with the iron. He’s going not only for size but also strength, so he limits the rep ranges to no higher than 8, with four or five sets per exercise.
“The heavier the weight, the more your muscles have to adapt to the heavy stress. You need to give your body a reason to get stronger or it just won’t,” Kirsch said. “I usually go with enough to get at least four but not more than eight with perfect form and no help — then I bump it up so it’s more challenging.”
In many ways, the WWE wrestler has to combine the principles of body building and power lifting all at once to account for all facets of lifting. Muscles that look “toned” but aren’t all that strong aren’t of any use to Kirsch — or you, for that matter.
“I try to keep everything as balanced as possible. A lot of folks just focus on the ‘beach muscles,’ the aesthetics,” Kirsch says. “Biceps, chest, abs — that’s great and you want those as well, but you also want functionality and balance. If one muscle group is far stronger than another, your performance will suffer no matter what you’re doing. And you can tell when you look at guys with imbalances that something’s wrong. Their bodies just don’t look right.”
A.J.’s been good enough to share a typical week in the gym with us and our fans, so if you’re trying to put on muscle and get a WWE-worthy body, be sure to try his workout schedule over the next four weeks. And remember, keep your goals in mind the whole time to keep yourself motivated.
“Really push yourself. Ask yourself constantly why you’re there, why you’re doing it, and answer that question,” Kirsch says. “Try to get all you can from yourself. There’s no better feeling of reward than knowing you left everything you have in the gym.”
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