“Don’t ever quit!” is advice that any personal trainer or coach worth his (or her) salt will give you, and IFBB pro Matt Christianer knows that better than most people. Lots of us have days when we have a few aches and pains and might want to skip the gym, but don’t tell that to Matt Christianer. At age 17, he was in a near-fatal car accident that left him with a broken femur and hip, among other injuries. That didn’t stop Matt— as soon as he was able, he began lifting weights in a wheelchair and then using crutches. He continued to train and embarked on a bodybuilding career, and despite training while being in excruciating pain, won his class at his first bodybuilding competition in 2009. Two years later, Matt became the first IFBB Men’s Physique pro— but he had some unfinished business to attend to. Matt then underwent hip replacement surgery to enable him to finally train without pain after so many years. Today, Matt is at the top of his game and more than looks the part— with a classic V-taper, lean midsection and massive arms, shoulders and chest. In this first of a two-part feature, Matt talks to FitnessRx for Men about getting ripped, tracking macros, staying motivated and setting priorities.
Were you active and fit while growing up?
Yes! Growing up, I was super skinny. I played basketball, ran track and cross-country. I was always under 100 pounds, being so active growing up. I didn’t hit over 100 pounds until my sophomore year of high school. I also am really into archery, and have been shooting since I was 4 years old.
What’s your advice for guys who want to drop some pounds and get a ripped midsection?
Track! Track! Track your macros! You can do cardio and abs until you’re blue in the face, but if your macros aren’t being tracked and accounted for to hit your specific numbers to reach your goals, you will always tread water.
Who are your role models, and why?
My father! You see, growing up I looked up to all sorts of celebrities and fitness icons but as I have gotten older, the world has revealed many truths to me. At the end of the day, a lot of these people I looked up to had fame and money, but I started to realize after the veil gets lifted that most of them were not ethical, moral or had many true character traits at all. My father fought for this country in Vietnam, raised four kids and stayed faithfully, happily married to my mom. He was and is blue-collar work ethic, through and through. He did whatever he had to do to keep food on our table and clothes on our backs— whether it was working nights in a factory he hated, or hunting for food to keep us kids going. Now that’s a hero! They don’t seem to make ‘em like that generation anymore!
Are there days when you don’t feel like training? What do you?
No doubt, everyone has those days, now and again. I am what I would call an instinctive trainer. What I do depends on if I am mentally drained or physically drained. If I am physically drained, I will step away from the gym and get outdoors. I’d call it active rest. I’ll go shoot my recurve bow, or perhaps take a walk to the lake with my fiancée, Heather. Maybe it’s just hiking up somewhere high to catch an Arizona sunset. Anywhere or anything where I can soak in nature. If it is more mental, I will access the situation more specifically— but typically, a lot of times when I am mentally drained, I have the most incredible workouts of all! Taking anything stressful or any negative thoughts and expelling them through an intense workout, turning what might seem like a losing day into a winning day! Remember— keep moving forward, even if it’s just a crawl.
How do you manage your time, between training, nutrition and work?
Balance with this is something that I have been working on a very long time. My nutrition IIFYM/tracking is always steady and consistent. This just takes some planning and food prep, but it blankets my entire day. I have turned my training into my work, so my training always comes first. My day is scheduled around my training regimen. Since my schedule is flexible and I have total control over it, I am able to sneak in a few hours of emails and client responsibilities throughout the day, typically with ease. But for anyone else, I think it’s easy regardless of your work or situation, even if you’re limited by time. You just have to have your priorities straight out the gate and be organized. Don’t be afraid to write stuff down. The question is, what do you want? And how bad do you want it?!
Matt’s Supplement Stack
All supplements are from APS Nutrition
Matt Christianer is sponsored by APS Nutrition
Look for Matt’s “Epic Arms and Ripped Abs Workout” on Friday.