BUILD THIS BODY

MH Cover Guy, Joshua Ca­pazario’s train­ing tips.

Men's Health (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - BY KELLEIGH KOREVAAR

JOSHUA CA­PA­ZO­RIO IS ONE OF SOUTH AFRICA’S MOST DED­I­CATED, DI­VERSE AND DIS­CI­PLINED COACHES. HE DOESN’T JUST TALK OR TRAIN; HE LIVES BY HIS OWN PRO­GRAMMES, TOO. HERE’S HOW HE’S GO­ING TO MAKE YOU STRONGER.

For him, it was a nor­mal ses­sion, and this beast was one that would be eas­ily tamed. Af­ter all, he was smash­ing ev­ery­thing in his life. He was young, liv­ing with his best friend, sin­gle with no debt; and in the best space for train­ing he had been in his life. Joshua didn’t have a worry in the world, and car­ried him­self the same way he did the bar­bell be­fore him: with crush­ing con­fi­dence.

He snatched the 110kg over­head – and lost the line be­hind him, his el­bow hurtling for­ward be­fore he could get his hands off the bar. A sud­den sharp pain shot through his el­bow, killing his set, and the “vibe” of the rest of his ses­sion. But that was about all it killed, and he didn’t think too much of it. Ah, to be young…

Af­ter see­ing his physio, Joshua con­tin­ued train­ing; he just didn’t snatch. “Be­ing the young bull I was, I was do­ing ev­ery­thing un­der the sun, even with all the pain in my el­bow. I fig­ured it would just make it­self bet­ter.”

But af­ter a cou­ple weeks of train­ing with no signs of im­prove­ment, he con­tacted a re­spected physio so she could do a cou­ple of sim­ple tests. An hour later he was get­ting X-rays and see­ing one of the best upper-limb spe­cial­ists in the coun­try.

The ver­dict? A bor­der­line grade 2 tear on Joshua’s el­bow MCL that would see his arm braced for eight weeks. And af­ter those two months? If it hadn’t healed prop­erly, an op­er­a­tion; and his chances of ever throw­ing weights over his head again would be close to zero.

It wasn’t his first in­jury – he’s torn his hip flexor, ham­string and pec, and even popped an in­ter­costal mus­cle while dead­lift­ing – but it was the tough­est one. “This was a mas­sive blow to me, and to the bul­let­proof body I thought I had. By not seek­ing out proper pro­fes­sional help and lis­ten­ing to my body, I had put my­self out of the game for eight weeks un­nec­es­sar­ily.”

Joshua Ca­pa­zo­rio is now one of SA’s most dec­o­rated ath­letes and top train­ers. So how did he go from be­ing rel­e­gated to the side­line, po­ten­tially out of the game for­ever, to not only lead­ing the game but coach­ing it, too? Here are his tips to be­com­ing a beast:

DON’T ADD IN­SULT TO IN­JURY

It took Joshua eight weeks of no bar­bell train­ing and se­ri­ous physio be­fore he was given the go-ahead to train again. But be­ing the “young bull” he was, he wasn’t about to jump back into light cir­cuit train­ing; he wanted to snatch again. His first two weeks were spent do­ing drill af­ter drill on only the bar. Ten weeks later, he fi­nally loaded some weight. His goal was to com­pete at SA Champs a few weeks later, and make his come­back. At the event he played it safe on the snatch, per­form­ing tech­ni­cally sound 101kg, 107kg and 112kg lifts. But his first two at­tempts at the clean and jerk were met with a big fat “F”, as his el­bow locked and un­locked due to its in­sta­bil­ity. He fi­nally landed his third at­tempt. “The irony was that I tore my el­bow snatch­ing; but in my come­back com­pe­ti­tion, snatch­ing wasn’t my prob­lem – clean and jerks were.” THE LES­SON Play­ing it safe isn’t los­ing, it’s pre­par­ing to win in the fu­ture, and mak­ing sure you can ac­tu­ally play the game at all. “Once a per­son is in­jured, they need to fin­ish their treat­ment at their ther­a­pist, whether it’s chiro, bio or physio; and then start their re­hab plan given to them by their ther­a­pist. Once the re­hab is done, only then can you look at go­ing back into train­ing and start­ing a new train­ing base, in­tro­duc­ing all your favourite lifts and ex­er­cises at an eas­ier pro­gres­sion or per­cent­age.”

BE A JOSH OF ALL TRADES

If you thought Joshua was just a weightlifter, you’d be very wrong. He in­cor­po­rates a di­verse range of dis­ci­plines into his train­ing. He does pow­er­lift­ing, weightlift­ing, wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, ket­tle­bell, body­weight, strength-spe­cific and con­di­tion­ing-spe­cific train­ing. He’s a “Josh of all trades”; but that doesn’t mean he’s a mas­ter of none. Quite the op­po­site, ac­tu­ally: Joshua has re­ceived some of the most cov­eted ath­letic ac­co­lades. From 2003 to 2008 he was an SA 100m and 200m cham­pion and medal­list, train­ing since he was eight years old. Af­ter pulling a ham­string dur­ing a sprint and un­able to fully re­cover and res­ur­rect his ca­reer, he dis­cov­ered pow­er­lift­ing.

From 2008 to 2015 he was an SA pow­er­lift­ing and weightlift­ing cham­pion and medal­list, rub­bing shoul­ders with the world’s strong­est men and plac­ing Top 10 in his di­vi­sion at World Cham­pi­onships. In 2017 he be­came the sec­ond South African to make Strong­first’s Beast Tamer list, by strict one-arm press­ing a 48kg ket­tle­bell, pis­tol squat­ting with the 48kg bell, and do­ing a strict tac­ti­cal pull-up with the bell. There are only 69 Beast Tamers world­wide.

In 2015, Joshua turned his at­ten­tion from weight belts to black belts, learn­ing Brazil­ian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling. “This sport is ex­tremely tech­ni­cal – tech­ni­cal to the point that when I started, hav­ing the abil­ity to bench­press 200kg didn’t stop me from get­ting choked out. This re­ally chal­lenged me; the thought that some­one could beat me tech­ni­cally and phys­i­cally, even though I knew I was a bet­ter ath­lete.”

But that frus­tra­tion drove Joshua, mo­ti­vat­ing him to re­turn week af­ter week, hum­bling him­self, even if not by choice. And then, one day, he wasn’t that new kid on the block get­ting choked out. He’s won two tour­na­ments with six fights and no losses; but he prom­ises it’s still early days, and he’s set some big goals for him­self.

JOSHUA CA­PA­ZO­RIO STOOD STAR­ING AT THE BEAST BE­FORE HIM – NOT HIS OWN RE­FLEC­TION IN THE MIR­ROR, BUT THE MAS­SIVE 110KG BAR­BELL, WEIGH­ING HEAV­ILY ON HIS CALLOUSED HANDS.

THE LES­SON You might think you’re the best in your dis­ci­pline, and maybe you re­ally are at the top – but com­bin­ing dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines will bet­ter you. “When com­bined, these dis­ci­plines al­low me to con­sider my­self a per­son who’s ‘harder to kill,’” says Joshua. “I’m stronger, faster, fit­ter and more mo­bile than I’ve ever been, all while con­sis­tently up­skilling my­self.” Con­stantly ad­just your goals, and con­tinue learn­ing and chal­leng­ing your­self.

BE YOUR OWN COACH

Since 2012, Joshua has been his own coach, a de­ci­sion he made af­ter hav­ing so many coaches grow­ing up and be­com­ing a coach him­self. “There was a mo­ment I re­alised I would never find the per­fect coach for me. So I told my­self I would be­come the coach that I never had.”

This has been Joshua’s big­gest chal­lenge so far, but look­ing at his train­ing as a con­tin­u­ous jour­ney has helped. He is con­tin­u­ously learn­ing, and tries to be well-versed in sev­eral fields, rather than hop­ping on hy­pes or fads. It’s that com­mit­ment that led him to open­ing his own gym, Per­for­mance Purist (@per­for­man­cepurist), in Johannesburg, where he is coach to some of the top ath­letes SA has to of­fer. THE LES­SON You have to be able to hold your­self ac­count­able, no mat­ter what. A trainer wouldn’t let you take it easy or ra­tio­nalise your rea­sons. You have to repli­cate this kind of at­ti­tude. Be the coach who doesn’t let you slack off be­cause you’ve had a tough day; and eval­u­ate your­self hon­estly and ob­jec­tively, like a trainer would. “Much like any­thing, if you ap­ply your­self with con­sis­tency and hon­esty, you can make a lot of progress. I wrote my pro­grammes down daily, and gave my­self hon­est feed­back on what looked right, what was wrong, what I had learnt and what I was miss­ing.” Take 10 min­utes ev­ery day to do the same.

STAY TRUE TO FORM

“With most ex­er­cises there are def­i­nite no-no’s, such as knees col­laps­ing on the squat, lower-back round­ing on the dead­lift, and your bum and feet shift­ing on the bench press. That said, if you’re sup­posed to hit, say, x5 reps on said weight, but start show­ing any of the signs men­tioned pre­vi­ously, you best rack the weight.

“‘Fail­ing pro­fes­sion­ally’ as Pavel Tsat­souline would say, is the abil­ity to at­tempt a

lift with as much ef­fort as pos­si­ble with­out com­pro­mis­ing tech­nique. This ad­vice can save thou­sands of backs and knees.” THE LES­SON Tech­nique is king. “You can­not lift gen­uinely heavy weights with­out good form. And when I mean gen­uinely heavy, I mean world-class strong – not the-guy-us­ing-the50kg-dumb­bells-for-reps strong. I mean guys-who-can-squat-3.5-times-their-body­weight strong. So it doesn’t mat­ter who you are, or what your goal is: tech­nique is king.”

LIS­TEN TO YOUR BODY, NOT YOUR EX­CUSES

If your form is suf­fer­ing, lift lighter, un­til you can con­fi­dently stand in front of the mir­ror at gym and ad­mire the form you are per­form­ing your reps with. Joshua makes sure he’s in tune with what his body is say­ing and do­ing, and he lis­tens to those signs. He sees it with peo­ple all the time: when they go for a PB they haven’t trained prop­erly for, they’re far more at risk of get­ting hurt. “But if you’ve trained hard and hit all your num­bers lead­ing up to it, you bet­ter bite down, squeeze tight, and get it.” THE LES­SON The key is to know the dif­fer­ence be­tween when your body le­git­i­mately isn’t ready to push it­self, and when your body can be pushed but your mind is get­ting in the way. “When it’s comp time or PB time, my ath­letes hear mostly one sen­tence from me: ‘If you want it, you will get it.’ If you hon­estly want what’s on the bar more than any­thing else in this world, and you won’t take no for an an­swer… then, my friends, you will PB.”

BE A MAN: DE­VELOP YOUR GRIP

Some gear and gad­gets are more hype than help, and Joshua has his ideas of what should be left at home with your ex­cuses. First up, he takes on gloves. “If I could have one wish, it would be to rid men of train­ing in gym gloves. Men should work hard, and their hands should speak for them.”

Sec­ond up: you’re bet­ter off un­buck­ling. The gym belts that are broad at the back and thin in the front have al­most zero value to strength train­ing, says Joshua. You’ll be in a far bet­ter po­si­tion if you learn to brace your ab­dom­i­nals harder while you lift.

Last up: lift those lift­ing straps straight into the bin. “Lift­ing straps are great for weightlift­ing, dead­lift­ing and heavy shrugs; but not be­cause you can’t grip a dumb­bell for rows or lat pull-downs. Be a man – de­velop your grip.” THE LES­SON Don’t be so quick to buy the lat­est prod­uct to grace gym-bro In­sta­gram pro­files ev­ery­where. As for the gear that passes Joshua’s tests? In­vest in a pair of neu­tral shoes such as Con­verse, Met­cons or Nanos, and weightlift­ing shoes for squat­ting or Olympic lift­ing. Wrist wraps for heavy press­ing and straps for dead­lifts and heavy shrugs won’t leave you hanging. A lever or prong belt for when you’ve mas­tered brac­ing your abs and knee sleeves to as­sist with high vol­umes of squat­ting is a great gym buddy. And of course, chalk to as­sist your grip, now that you’ve ditched your gloves.

ADAPT OR TRY

For Joshua, ul­ti­mately it’s about be­ing adapt­able and ver­sa­tile. “Time and ex­pe­ri­ence through all my sport­ing ca­reers and in­flu­ences have led me to where I am to­day, where I com­bine so many train­ing modal­i­ties with­out los­ing sight of my goals.”

This means that when he was a full­time pow­er­lifter, he had to al­low him­self to be taught Turk­ish get-ups, when he was ex­tremely im­mo­bile. Even though he was nat­u­rally fast and had spent most of his life train­ing to be a sprinter, it counted for noth­ing when he did Olympic weightlift­ing. When he was a sprinter he weighed be­tween 78 and 82kg, but when his train­ing and goals changed, he spent seven years work­ing hard to bulk his way to 119kg. And now that he’s taken up Jiu Jitsu, he’s had to cut back down to 93kg for com­pe­ti­tions.

But that’s just part of mas­ter­ing eight dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines. “Be­ing a com­plete ath­lete is know­ing my strengths and weak­nesses, and mak­ing sure the strengths stay strong and the weak­nesses be­come my strengths.”

And you thought try­ing a new ma­chine at the gym was switch­ing things up.

”MY ATH­LETES HEAR MOSTLY ONE SEN­TENCE FROM ME: ‘IF YOU WANT IT, YOU WILL GET IT.’”

PHO­TO­GRAPHS SEAN LAU­RENZ

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