Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hi, my name is Erik Wachter and I’m from the US where I live in New Jersey. I’m 28 and currently work as a scientist for a large pharmaceutical company.
This past year I got married to a beautiful Colombian girl. I do not have any kids, but maybe in a couple years I will.
I started working out in the 8th grade. I was only about 13-14 years old at the time. I played football, baseball, basketball, and lacrosse growing up. As I got older I excelled in football and lacrosse.
I led the state of New Jersey in tackles my senior year of high school which I am really proud of. In addition, I was named All-West Jersey player of the year and also was part of the NJ-Super 100 team for the 100 best NJ football players for the year.
I received all-state honors in football and lacrosse, and received a partial scholarship to play division 1 college football. My position was linebacker.
Still, in order to make money in football you have to be in the .0001%. The athletes they have playing in the NFL are genetic freaks.
Now fitness is more of a hobby. I train some people on the sides and always like to learn about new stuff.
I was always pretty strong and when I was done with college some of my biggest PRs were 380 bench press, 480 squat (I think I could have hit 500lbs) and a 307 lb hang clean.
After college I wanted to get lean. I had a 12-14% body fat about. And I was able to get down to an 8-10% body fat two years after getting done with school.
I focused mainly on aesthetics. I did more cardio and also started going on a low carb, high fat diet accompanied with intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting I believe is the single best thing that has helped my body composition, but I still sometimes will eat a whole pizza or a whole tub of ice cream.
Diet is definitely the part that requires the most discipline.
Describe a typical day of training
My training is pretty minimalistic. I get in and get out of the weight room.
I try and do what I believe are the three most important olympic lifts each week: bench, squat, and deadlifts (I do some hang cleans on deadlift days).
I don’t go super heavy. I’d like to do that, but I just have to be super careful with my back. This holds true for squats. Single leg stuff I can go heavier. I push it heavy with deadlifts, but sometimes I still have problems when I go too heavy.
I have bulging discs in my L5-S1 and L4-L5 so I have to be extra careful that my back is warmed up and ready to go before I lift. This means that my warm up is pretty long. I usually hit a cardio machine for 5 minutes nice and easy and then try to warm up my hips by doing some hip flexor stretches and spider lunges.
I also use mobility balls along my back. I actually created a proprietary mobility ball (like a combined lacrosse ball and golf ball) that specifically gets into the low back that is pretty cool. After this I different core engaging exercises like bird dogs, single leg glut bridge and maybe a few other things.
I usually do 5 sets of 5 for the olympic lifts to start with enough weight that feels “heavish” for me. For bench days I like to also do pull-ups and dumbbell rows. So when I am pushing I like to pull to make sure I’m not getting too strong in the chest and not the back (gives you really body shoulder posture if you don’t do this).
Days I do squats, I will either do basic back squats, zerchers squats (easier on your back and really engage the core), or single leg split squats. I like to do pistol squats with as well.
I usually train hamstrings when I do squats. Same idea as the push pull principle on my benching days. I’ll do RDL’s/single leg RDL’s are swiss ball curls for hammies.
Deadlifts I prefer to use an upside down hex bar (handles down so I have a longer distance to pull up the weight). Hex bar supposedly has less shearing force on the spine so I choose to do this.
After deadlifts I will do hang cleans; not much heavier than 205. Hang cleans put the most pressure on my back so I have to go light.
Those the main lifts that I do.
As for cardio, I barely do any any more. There was a time where I was running almost 40 miles a week, but that was for something outside of the realm of fitness (I was actually training for something with the military which required really good endurance).
When I do cardio I prefer HIIT exercises so maybe a tabata circuit on a row machine, assault bike or with battle ropes.
I really dislike low slow cardio. Going for a 5 mile run is terrible idea for me. It’s hard on the joints as well. Instead, I believe sprint training is the best type of running/cardio. Its quick, and you see great body composition results afterward.
How do you keep going and push harder?
For me going to the gym is a treat. I would love to go to the gym everyday but life gets in the way most times. I probably spend less than 4 hours working out each week which isn’t too big of a time commitment.
I guess what keeps me going back for more is the positive reinforcement I see in the mirror. When I look good in the mirror it makes me want to keep coming back to the gym.
The biggest challenge I have faced lifting is when I hurt my back. I have thrown out my back maybe 8 times. It sucks. Mostly from squatting and doing deadlifts.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My training will probably remain the same for awhile – olympic lifts with some smaller muscle group lifts thrown in as well.
I am looking to put on 5 lbs of muscle just as a goal to work towards. But my main concern is staying lean and ripped for as long as I can.
I would like to be more disciplined with diet which is my biggest challenge. I believe I could really have a great physique if I just followed through.
As for plans besides fitness I would like to maybe get a masters degree.
I do also want to have more of an online presence with fitness. I’m amazed over the past 5+ how fitness has become such a big deal in society.
If I could start over I would try and protect my back better. Do longer warm ups and really focus on my body positioning while doing dynamic olympic lifts like squat, clean and deadlift.
I knew good form when I was young, but if your positioning is compromised just a little bit underneath a heavy squat bar you can do some damage. Hang cleans put a lot of stress on the back as well.
Once it happened once, it started happening a few more times. I think my pelvis isn’t perfectly symmetrical and is slightly raised on one side which puts extra pressure on my left side. I have noticeably less mobility in my left hip.
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I warm up for a long time. As I get older I have to makes sure everything is nice and juiced up before getting into my lifts.
I have purchased black out curtains for my bedroom and this has helped with my sleep. I also have a Casper mattress which I highly recommend.
I don’t take many supplements. I do make chocolate whey shakes from time to time and I will take pre-workout supplements sometimes. I like the Jym Pre Gym brand.
For recovery I use my proprietary mobility balls. Swimming helps for upper body soreness. But I don’t do this that much anymore.
I also will use voodoo wraps on knees to help get more blood flow to the joint if they are hurting. 2 years ago my knees never used to hurt.
I am considering experimenting with CBD oil from Element Health Supply to enhance sleep. I just purchased my first fitness tracker band. Its called “Whoop” and it tracks a lot of different health metrics.
As of now I get a good amount of sleep. Probably 7-8 hours on average.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
Each day I try to minimize the carbs I eat. I try to go almost 0 carbs on days I don’t lift, but this goal usually never is met (for example, today I had waffles and two bagels. Probably 200+ of carbs and did not work out).
On days I lift I’ll go to Chipotle and get a big burrito bowl or I’ll allow myself to have extra rice with some other meal I make.
Each day, regardless of whether I lift or not, I try and not eat until 11-12 and try to stop eating before 8pm. I have been pretty good about maintaining this feeding window.
Intermittent fasting I think is the number 1 way I got a better body composition since getting done with football.
When I do eat its usually the same thing each morning – 4-6 eggs and a can of Wild Planet sardines. People think sardines are nasty but they are a really great way to get in healthy omega 3 fats and decent amount of protein.
They’re filling and low in mercury – and I recommend spraying them with lemon juice.
What has inspired and motivated you?
The biggest motivation for me when I was first starting out was to get big for football. I had a lot of ambition in the sport and weight lifting was my ticket to getting ahead of the competition.
After football I wanted to get lean and have great aesthetics. I picked up a book titled Engineering the Alpha 2.0. It’s where I first learned about intermittent fasting and eating a higher fat diet.
I bought this book for probably $12-$15, but the value it has brought me in life is in the $1000’s.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
I think olympic lifts are the most effective type of workout you do. The caveat is you the movements can be quite dynamic and they take some time to learn.
You get the best bang for your buck in regards to time with olympic lifts. And, they produce a greater hormonal effect because you are working out the largest muscle groups in your body.
Are you taking on clients right now?
I have had in person clients of course, but have started to do some online clients as well which I think is more beneficial to both parties because the trainee and the trainer (me) can be location independent of each other.
Where can we learn more about you?
So my Instagram page is @the_wac. I don’t really post any fitness related stuff there. I never really wanted my family and friends to see me posting shirtless mirror selfies everyday.
I am working on a YouTube channel and a blog. I’ve been on Twitter (@the__wac) more lately. I like the platform a lot. I don’t always talk about fitness, but I am trying to produce more content lately.
My website is Wac Fitness. I have some blog articles that talk about fitness, lifestyle, and what products I like to use.