Today I have a special treat for us. I had the great blessing of getting a chance to interview Pavel Rudometkin from FortressBody.com. He is one of the youngest body weight exercise masters on my list and has attained a high level of proficiency. What is even cooler is that he is a believer! I spent quite a bit of time on his site and am really excited to share his wisdom and perspective on life. He has almost 50K Youtube followers but doesn’t resort to swearing or ego-filled videos like many others.
Below you will find my interview with Pavel. I hope you enjoy!
Let’s start off with a little background. How has your fitness journey progressed over the years? Where did you start and where are you now?
First few months my fitness journey was just to learn a few tricks. As anything, exercise becomes addicting. Since I worked out every day for one hour, in an HIIT type of training, it destroyed me. But it released dopamine and endorphins which I loved. It made me feel good and “high” I can say. I worked out like this for almost one year, gaining around 30lbs of muscle. Many people thought I was on steroids, yet, I didn’t even count my protein intake! Just hard work and eating lots.
I knew that that was wrong. “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” (1 Cor 6:12) I knew that that was wrong, and it must change. So, I let go off working out. It was extremely difficult not to go to the park, because I missed that feeling of being “high” after an awesome workout. I felt extremely energetic daily, and it worked for a little bit of time, but after, I was back into it. A time came when I realized that Christ gave His life for me, and I must give mine to Him in return. That revelation changed my perspective and my workouts dropped out of perspective.
I worked out when I could, in order to maintain. After all, our body is the temple of God, a gift from God to us, and we must take care of it. In perspective with godliness, the body is minuscule, but it still plays a little role, which must not be neglected.
This is me today. I use my free time to go workout. I can go weeks without doing anything, and I have weeks of intense workout training daily (because my time affords it). It’s a “for fun” kind of thing now. I train when I can, I pick a trick, and I practice it. That simple. Or I pick a goal (such as 10 handstand pushups with no wall) and I practice it until I get it. Once the goal is reached, I set a new one and strive once again, working with the time slots I have.
What is your current workout routine?
When I come, I usually start with 10 strict muscle ups followed by 10 pullups without getting off the bar. That is my warmup set. Then I move on to practicing my tricks. That’s it. I don’t always do my warmup set, but I usually do.
What type of nutritional philosophy do you have?
I studied nutrition for quite some time. I’m majoring in Exercise Biology, so everything that has to do with human physiology and anatomy, I learn. That includes nutrition, movement, maximal power output, or maximal results, rehabilitation, safety, and so on. Believe me, putting all the carbs, proteins, lipids, macro and micronutrients, vitamins and minerals to the side, there is one single factor that will determine who you will become, so keep it simple. That factor is calories. Calories is the amount of energy stored in the food that your body can use. Excess energy is stored as fat. Looking to lose weight? Cut it down to 1500 calories or so and give it a few weeks and you’ll see it vaporize! (not really, but you know what I mean). Once you’re shredded and want to put on some muscle, switch your calorie intake to around 3,000-4,000 calories (adjust depending on bodytype) and watch the muscle pile on! You might gain some fat with it, but that’s where regulation comes in where you find the perfect amount of calories for muscle gain and fat maintenance. That’s all I did…
Try to stay towards the healthier foods, and try to avoid junk food or food from fast food restaurants. Cook your own, or choose healthy fast food. For example, as a college student, I eat my main meals at home (which are usually breakfast early in the morning, and dinner late in the evening) and throughout the day I just eat fruits. Bananas, apples, and oranges. Sometimes berries as well. So stay healthy while you eat fast food
Before I get flagged for giving people nutritionally unsound advice, I’d like to defend myself. Your body is AWESOMELY tuned! It is the most complex thing in the world. Your body functions on maintaining homeostasis, and does everything possible in order to help it be on top of the game. So, if your body is lacking protein – guess what you will crave? Protein! If your body is craving sugar, guess what it needs? Sugar! However, your body can be addicted to food just as much as anything else, that’s why it is important to keep a calorie count, while eating the foods that you crave (which is exactly what I did).
If a beginner came to you and said, “I want to develop a body like yours.” What would be the exact steps you would tell them to follow?
A body like mine? Haha, I laugh everytime. It’s funny because the body I have came as a complementary addition to what I was training. It wasn’t even my goal, nor was I training for it. I’d say if you’re looking to have a body like mine – get yourself a gym membership, and go and train all the bodyparts accordingly. Focus on shoulders, biceps, and lats (because those seem to be the biggest on me) and in some time, hopefully, you’ll be like me! That’s what bodybuilding is, you literally Build Your Body, as a sculptor. Now, if you just want to have an Athletic build, like me, not particularly my body, then you can follow my plan: which is – go and train! Set goals and reach them! Find the equilibrium for your calorie intake, and you’ll see results, you have a 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE from me personally.
What has been your biggest inspiration to practice this style of exercise?
Don’t really have many inspirations. When I JUST started off, my uncle was my inspiration. Once I learned the things he could do, Hannibal for King became an inspiration. Then, Calisthenics Kingz became an inspiration – not his character (which, to me, honestly, seems quite arrogant), but his strength. My goal at one point was to learn everything that Calisthenics Kingz could do AND what Hannibal for King could do, because those seem to be like two ends of the spectrum. Hit is all about balance and pushing power, and HFK is all about pulling power and strength. But that was back in the day, when I was still young (I began training at 15). Right now I just work with myself, improvise, set new goals, and practice! No inspiration needed, it’s almost a part of my lifestyle.
Do you ever incorporate equipment into your routines such as weight vests, barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells, etc.?
No supplementary equipment is used in my workouts. The only time I use it is to test my limits. For example “How heavy of a pullup can I do?” or “How many pushups can I do with my sister?” or “I wonder how much I can squat”. Other than that, I train bodyweight only.
What has been the most difficult body weight move to master and what move are you working on now?
Everything is the most difficult as you’re learning it. Some of the hardest, at some point, were the tiger bend handstand pushup, one arm pullup (which I later learned to do 6 on each hand), two finger muscle up (one finger each hand), slow muscle up, handpress, just to name a few… Right now I’m working on reaching 30 Superman Pushups Fit Fury style and 10 Handstand Pushups with no support.
Do you ever see the sport mainstream or do you think it will stay more niche?
It’s more of a fun way to keep yourself healthy. Gyms are super new in the world, and so are fitness centers. For thousands of years people have kept themselves healthy through bodyweight exercises. We are just bringing back what was once lost. It is NOT a sport however. A sport has a winning side and a losing side – any sport, here all you’re working against is with yourself, it intrinsically does not meet the definition of “sport”.
I do, however, see many people switching to bodyweight as they realize how easy it is and how cheap it is to maintain good health in this way.
What specific advice would you give someone that wanted to master challenging calisthenic moves like the planche, human flag and muscle up?
Practice, practice, and practice! Start with the basics, which can be called “pre-requisites”, and work up to harder variations. I have tutorials for all those moves, so you can check them out to see what pre-requisites are needed.
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Tim 4:8
Here Are Some of My Favorite Videos of Pavel
Thank you so much Pavel for joining me in this interview. I know I learned a ton and look forward to learning more from you!