Listen to this interviewThe Bulk Hackers robot can read Sean's interview aloud for you (playtime 12 minutes and 25 seconds) 🤖
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hi! I’m Sean Harley, 40 years old and I live in Los Angeles, California. I’ve had life-long passion for health and fitness which started when I was growing up in Nebraska.
Ever since I can remember I have always enjoyed the feeling I get from pushing myself physically. This love of sport helped earn myself a football scholarship to a college there where I graduated at the top of my class with a double major in business management and marketing.
Upon graduation I took a job in California with a nutritional supplement franchise and would eventually become a franchisee myself.
This is also when my career in fitness modeling and acting kicked off. I had an agent in LA and was regularly shooting for magazines and companies.
After a couple of years however, I felt a strong calling to help other people and share my knowledge and passion for fitness. So I sold my business, became a certified trainer, and moved to Omaha where I partnered up with an old college football teammate to open what would become the largest personal and group training gym in the state.
During this time we also launched an online training business. Through these businesses we have helped thousands of people take control of their bodies and drastically improve their lives for the better.
As our clientele grew, we wanted to make sure the supplements that they were taking were pure, safe, and effective.
So we started our supplement company, Rock Solid Nutrition, so that we could have control over those factors and ensure that our clients were getting only the best.
It was during this time, in 2009, that I beat out thousands of other competitors nationwide to become the first Bodybuilding.com spokes model, solidifying my mark in the fitness industry.
Since then, my fitness-modeling career continues to skyrocket, and I have been able to add published writer and 12x cover model to my resume.
I’ve have been in magazines around the world such as Ironman, Muscle & Fitness, Muscle Insider, Status, and many others as an author or model.
My competitive bodybuilding career didn’t start until the age of 32 when I won my first show, becoming a pro in the WBFF, and then got 2nd at their world championships later that year.
The next year I switched over to the NPC and earned my IFBB Pro card that same year. In 2016 I reached a major bucket-list goal by competing in the Olympia for the inaugural class of Classic Physique competitors.
I currently reside in Los Angeles, California were I manage my company Rock Solid Nutrition and do acting and modeling.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
When I’m cutting, I prefer to do my cardio first thing in the morning, fasted except for EAAs and electrolytes that I get from our EAA PUMP.
There are different protocols that I like to follow but typically I’ll either be doing around 25 minutes of HIIT cardio or 45-60 minutes of steady state cardio.
For lifting, currently I’m doing a 6 day bodybuilder type split, hitting each muscle group once a week.
I put legs in the middle on the week to break up the upper body work and then I start with the bigger muscle groups early in the week and work down to the smaller ones.
- Monday – Back
- Tuesday – Chest
- Wednesday – Legs
- Thursday – Shoulders & Calves
- Friday – Arms
- Saturday – free day to choose whatever; i.e. deads, abs, more legs, auxiliary movements.
I work abs in 3-5 days a week with a focus on pulling the midsection in tighter, especially at the points of the diaphragm and lower abdominal wall.
When I’m lifting, I’m a big stickler for quality over quantity.
My focus isn’t just to see how much weight I can move, but the focus is on keeping max tension on the target muscle group and pushing to, or close to, failure, in the desired rep range, while using perfect form.
The main focal points that I teach in weight training are an increased focus on the mind-muscle connection, a large range-of-motion, control the negative, and accelerate through the contraction.
I love adding run-the-racks sets to end of many lifts. That’s were I’ll do 8-10 reps, going to failure, then dropping weight for another 8-failure, then dropping one or two more times for a total of 3-4 non-step sets that just take that muscle to true failure.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
Discipline is going to give you much more consistent results than fleeting motivation. For me, I’ve been doing this long enough to where working out has just become part of my day, like brushing my teeth.
If I go to long without doing it, I start to feel like crap, and that motivates me to want to get back in there.
That being said, there are certainly times when finding the drive is challenging. Especially, say, during contest prep, when I’m putting in overtime on the cardio and lifting with an extra intensity while operating on low fuel.
During times like these, the key is to be conscious of, and try to the best of my ability, to control my inner dialogue.
I have to purposely shut out that inner whining pessimist and his list of excuses, and focus on positive and empowering thoughts that encourage me, or at least not hinder me.
I find that the regular practice of mindful meditation help strengthen my ability to recognize and separate myself from my thoughts. This allows me to take better control of those thoughts and to put myself into a more desirable state.
That can get me to the gym, and once there I can rely on powerful music to help push up the intensity of the workout.
Blasting some powerful metal, inspiring rap music, or even trance music, can really help put me in another state of mind where I lift myself up and get going for a good workout.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
It’s an exciting time for me right now. My wife , Mindy, and I just moved back out to LA here at the end of 2019 and found the perfect place, close to the beach and close to the Golds Gym Mecca out here. We’re both pursuing some acting and modeling opportunities while running our respective business.
Rock Solid Nutrition has teamed up with one of the original sharks from Shark Tank, Kevin Harrington and his company “As Seen On TV” to make our first infomercials for TV. So we’ve been working on that and that will be coming out here in 2020.
We continue to expand our retail and direct to consumer reach. I’m also working with my online Rock Solid Training clients to help them meet their goals.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I try to get a good 7-8 hours of sleep per night. For a many years, while I was personal training and getting up for work super early, I was getting about 4-6 hours of sleep per night.
Once I was able to start getting a full nights sleep, it was like “Oh, wow, this is what life feels like. I had forgotten.” I just have more energy, I’m in a better mood, and my muscles recover better when I get a full night sleep.
Nutrition is also key for recovery. Getting adequate protein intake ensures that the muscles have the amino acids they need to repair and grow. Protein shakes and EAAs help me in this area.
When I get an injury or have a pain, the first step is identifying the cause. Typically it’s either a tear in the muscle or a ligament, or it’s an issue with the fascia becoming bound up.
If it’s a tear, typically caused by one identifiable movement that caused the pain, the best remedy is often to just let that muscle rest until it can fully repair itself.
If you keep working and breaking down a torn muscle, it will only prolong the healing.
If I have a bad “knot” or a painfully decreased range of motion somewhere, often that is caused by fascia binding up the muscles.
I have various rollers and massage balls at home that I can use to help alleviate some of that but usually the best fix is going in to see a knowledgeable massage therapist that has experience with bodybuilders/athletes and fascia.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I’m an advocate for the calories in/calories out school of thought, meaning that one must be in a caloric deficit to lose weight and caloric surplus to gain muscle, and within that, when I’m cutting I combine the right macro types at the right time of day to get optimal results.
For a cutting diet, protein will be the constant in every meal, but I’ll avoid putting fats and carbs in the same meal.
I’ll have protein-carb meals when my body needs that fuel and can use it to replenish glycogen stores and fuel my muscles, which is first thing in the morning and pre and post workout. For meals that aren’t these, I’ll have protein and fats.
This strategy really helps optimize my muscle mass and performance while shedding body fat.
Of course, I use our Rock Solid Nutrition products for my supplementation whether I’m cutting, building, or maintaining.
The Strength Test helps keep my natural testosterone production healthy and also gives me a nice dose of vitamin D which has many benefits, especially in the winter.
The High Metabolism gives me a good energy kick without any jitters, but what I really love about it is the nootropic effect.
It’s got this medicinal mushroom in there called Lions Mane which is a powerful brain stimulant. There’s also a mood enhancing agent in there that makes you release “happy hormones” like serotonin and dopamine.
The Pre-Pump has full doses of creatine (for power), citrulline (for pumps), and carnitine along with a smooth but strong stimulant effect for energy as well as ingredients for a strong mental focus.
The EAA PUMP gives me everything else. It’s got all of the essential amino acids that must be present for muscle to repair and grow and that it helps increase endurance, stamina, and recovery.
This product also has all the electrolytes in it to help keep the muscles hydrated and preforming at their best. It also has citrulline in it for even more pumps.
For protein I use our Grass-Fed Whey Iso-Synthesis, which tastes just absolutely amazing. It’s seriously the highlight of my day. I’ll mix it with almond milk or just water and it stirs or shakes right up.
I know that this protein is tested and verified by a third-party lab to be pure and accurate, and frankly, I know too much and just don’t trust most other brands.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
I find inspiration everywhere, especially when I’m out in nature or when traveling to new places.
But when it comes to bodybuilding, I draw my inspiration from the old school legends who’s shoulders we stand on. The Arnolds, and the Frank Zanes, and the Franco Columbu’s of the golden era.
Before good supplements, before social media, before peer reviewed studies of 15 untrained males, these guys were grinding, figuring it out, laying the groundwork, and getting some beautiful results in the process.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Be sure to exercise your mental fitness as well as your physical fitness. You need to be able to be your own motivation every single day and to that you have to have some control over the conversation in your head.
The best way to do that is through meditation and/or neural linguistic programming.
For your fitness and nutrition programming, if it’s in your means, hire someone to help you. Even it’s just to consult with or to get started.
A knowledgeable coach can save you years in trial and error and get you started in the right direction. Just avoid those that are trying to sell you a fad diet or give you unrealistic expectations.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
I no longer do in-person personal training, but I do train people online through my app at RockSolidTraining.com
With the app I provide my clients their diets and workouts there, they have a complete video bank of all the exercises, and they also can log their weights to get informative charts and graphs to map their progress.
This is also where we chat together, and they send in their check-in information.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
Facebook: Sean Harley Fitness