Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Shredding It Up With: Jonny Manfre


Caught up with Jersey product Jonny Manfre today, he of Jersey Shore lore.

Manfre, a gym rat and student of the ABS game, is the head honcho of www.yourperfectabs.com
 The guy is truly committed to ingraining a monster work ethic in you, imploring you to develop a scintillating set of abs. Don't fill out an ABSentee ballot, check out this lengthy interview and find out why.
ZS: How do you sustain it? If someone is trying to look their absolute best, with a sculpted six-pack and dieseled-up frame, the right body fat index, where do you begin and how do you constantly commit to that?


 JM: It all starts with a goal that is written down in a complete goal statement complete with a deadline. It has to be more than just “I want to be in shape,” though.


It has to really define why you want to get in shape; something very personal that you feel in your gut.


It’s that thing that will get you to put down that Dorito or get off the couch from playing video games; something very personal to you. If you don’t start there, all the knowledge on eating and training is worthless. Then every day you remind yourself of that goal and why it is so important.


 You also remind yourself of it during those times when that ice cream is calling your name or you do not feel like getting up to work out. That thought will help guide you. Everything else will fall into place as long as your goals are defined and are very important to you. Without a goal, you are just wandering..


ZS: How much does diet factor into your workout regimen?

I can’t even begin to tell you how much shit I’ve taken from Vegans and nutrition elitists for my shoddy diet (Wolfs down a Big Mac, washes it down with Mountain Dew).

I can’t envision eating grass and insects and granola and being content with it…It’s like these pricks think I’m going to delete an intensified three-hour workout I just had if I crush a few slices of pizza. What kind of diet is essential towards sustaining a shredded, ship-shape body ?


  JM: Brutha… before I did over a full year of digging through medical and scientific journals in the course of pulling more than 400 references for my book, my answer would have been wayyyyy different.

I would have said something like many small meals, no carbs, definitely no carbs before bed!

But now, I can tell you with complete and unwavering certainty that the only two dietary factors that determine your physique are protein consumption and the calories you eat compared to the calories you burn. That is it-- with the exception of carbing up, once you are lean enough...

In my program, we set targets for those two factors that are derived from the analysis of a plethora of studies as well as my personal experience and experimentation. Whatever foods you choose to arrive at those two targets, is up to you.

Of course other things besides calorie and protein intake, such as: eating nutrient dense foods, that provides enough energy, are satiating (satisfying of appetite) enough, and that taste great to you are the super important factors that will allow you to live with your meal plan, happily and healthily. I use an acronym BEST (Beneficial nutrition, Energy, Satiety, Taste) to help make those decisions easier. But, if you like pizza, we can make it work for sure. You just have to plan your day properly. 

ZS: Which are the foods to stay away from altogether, the most damaging and capable of erasing the work from an efficient workout?

JM: (Laughs) That’s a great question and I’ll tell you why I am laughing; I know you have seen those ads that say “10 foods that you should never eat,”  “10 foods that burn belly fat,” or other click bate garbage like that.

 It’s all BS.

No one food alone is going to erase your gains or make you fat. The foods that will make it tougher to meet your daily goals, - hitting your daily calorie and protein targets – and therefore deter you from reaching your fitness goals, are foods that are very high in calories, very low in protein, and don’t satiate well (causing you to overeat).  There is a very easy 10 to 1 rule that I talk about in my program which makes analysis of foods very simple.


ZS: Run me through your typical workout week, from start to finish.

JM:    Man..It really varies week to week depending on the time that I have in my schedule or the facilities at my disposal.

But I will use a combination of calisthenics, full body, crossfitesque workouts that use a lot of Olympic and compound lifts or CrossFit class, as well as some muscle-group specific workouts that hit my lagging or special focus body parts. 

 In general, I make sure to work every muscle group to failure at the very least of once per week. Sometimes I’ll work the same muscle group several times in a week. Many people get too caught up in hitting a specific muscle X times a week but, from my research and personal experience, using a lot of full body movements and hitting as many muscles at once it not only the most efficient but is also the most effective.

This is in reference to not only building strength and musculature, but also for burning calories. Most importantly, I make sure that my workouts are BEST – Better Every Single Time. As long as you do that, you will continue to have fitness success. 

ZS: As I get older, my dude... I realize it’s easier to look more Chris Christie than Doug Christie, a little more Michael Moore than Michael Jordan. If you were to encounter say, A guy who wants to immediately shed weight...A person who you can probably write a check to for $10 (Planet Fitness monthly charge), only if the bakery is open your 10 bones definitely isn’t safe with that person’s Deep Dish-inhaling habit … This rotund individual approaches you and asks, in so many words, where to begin?  How do shed weight in quick-hit fashion, like the people featured in ads—who through an unwavering commitment and a titanic work ethic, end up being half the person they used to be?

JM: Like I said, it’s all about setting that goal. But ok, we’re past that. This person has already defined their goal and has the eye of the tiger. The next thing is setting those daily calorie and protein targets to where they should be and making sure to hit them along with getting some good workouts in, a few to several times a week.

 If someone wants the dumbed down version, refuses to take the time to learn what calories and protein are in their food and doesn’t mind a restricted diet then they can do the obvious – cut out carbs and fried food and eat small portions. But for us enlightened folk; set your targets to the proper places and plan meals that you will enjoy.

 ZS: How did you forge the bond with yourperfectabs.com and what does this site provide?

 JM: YourPerfectAbs.com is the sum of all of my fitness knowledge, experience, experimenting, and research. After the whole Jersey Shore thing, I had so many people asking me how to get in shape and telling me that I was a role model or motivation to them, that I figured creating a fitness book that also included all of my confidence building methods was the best and most positive place to focus my energy.

I finished the first draft of my book about 2 years ago on Christmas.

This draft was based on my knowledge and experience, with very little research. As I was revising and putting the finishing touches on it, some theories that I believed to be true, and wrote about, didn’t seem to be forming a good logical argument. Something was wrong.

One day, after starting to ask the right questions into Mr. Google, I started getting the right answers. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that the majority of what I wrote about was broscience. Or in other words, pseudoscience that was based largely on anecdotal and testimonial evidence.

Pretty much it works like this; dude cuts out carbs and eats 8 smalls meal a day, while training hard and all of a sudden gets shredded.

 He thinks he found the Holy Grail and tells all his bros in the gym how to get shredded. They get shredded too by doing the same thing and tell everyone else.

 Now everybody thinks that carbs make you fat and eating small meals is the key to getting shredded. To help explain this phenomenon, someone decides that eating small meals all day strokes your metabolic flame because as you eat, you are burning calories constantly. They also decide that since carbs spike insulin and correlates with fat storage (or fat not being burned) then that must be why carbs are bad.

The facts tell us otherwise. Every single study conducted in a metabolic ward that accounted for all calories consumed and burned clearly show us that no matter if the person eats a high fat or high carb diet (with all other factors the same) weight loss and body composition will be identical. A plethora of studies also tell us that no matter if a person eats all of their meals in one sitting or spreads them out throughout the day the results are the same. It all just comes into total calories and amount of protein eaten and that is all.

The difference between the broscience and the real science is that cutting out carbs and eating 6 or 8 small meals per day, every 2 or 3 hours is just a very effective way of eating a high protein and low calorie diet. Unknown to every one of us who has lived by these rules, we were actually eating a calorie restricted diet, which is the mechanism that got us to shred up.



ZS: Being a New Jersey product, what sports teams do you lean to? Yankees, Knicks, Giants?

JM: Giants, Mets, Rangers, and Knicks. But really, if the Jets or Yankees are playing and it doesn’t impact the Giants or Mets, I’m rooting for them too. I really can’t ever root for the Devils though. It has been a while since I really kept up with hockey, which for a time was my favorite (I used to play ice hockey), but I don’t think I can ever really feel good about myself cheering for the Devils. Rangers all the way!

ZS: How did you and Amia meet and how long have you been together?


 JM: We met at a convention in Miami actually, where she was signing autographs (although she had already retired from the business). I went in there - pimping to the absolute max - to find some fun and I completely, unsuspectingly found the love of my life.

Little did I know that after getting to know her, she was not only beautiful but also probably the smartest, most motivated, little creature that I had ever met and that we had a lot in common. She was also a lot more conservative than I ever could have imagined, which was a big surprise to me.

ZS: Happy for you. Seems like the lust for fitness is shared by both of you, do you guys buddy-up at the gym and spot each other?

JM: Oh yeah… We definitely do the gym thing, the Crossfit thing, the fitness thing, the protein shake thing together. She is extremely competitive too, which helps me to kick it in gear at times when I might instead prefer to relax.

ZS: How has a sober life helped shape you? What are the immediate rewards you’ve reaped, resulting from the decision to kick a few habits.

JM: Well, after the incident during that episode of Jersey Shore where I ended up in trouble again, I realized that I had let down a lot of people, especially my younger fans, and I decided that a big change was needed. My thoughts are that partying is totally cool and a fun part of life BUT if it is hurting you and becoming a problem in any way - with school, family, job, the law – then you need to put yourself on timeout and make a change. I made that change, saw the light, and decided what I wanted to do with my life and who I wanted to be, which was to be the best me that I could be; and that definitely did not include getting wasted, being a total douche, and ending up in jail.

I’m very happy with who I have become, with completing the huge task of my fitness program, and with my mission of helping as many people as possible get in the best shape of their life and helping them to feel their best. I have very good image or goal of where I want to be in one, three, and five years, and know it will take a ton of work to do it, but I am very excited for the challenge and the future successes. 

And just to be perfectly honest, I am not 100% sober anymore although I never get wasted. I took my timeout, learned a huge lesson, and grew from it. Some nights now I will drink one 55 calorie, (Select 55 Budweiser). I also go for long stretches of not drinking at all. I find that being too radical, fanatical, or dogmatic doesn’t make sense if it is not needed. I enjoy drinking a beer here and there, which is normal acceptable behavior, and the fear that some bad thing will happen if I do it, is just not logical in my life anymore. Also, my girl would probably kill me in my sleep if I tried to revert to any of my old partying ways. 

ZS: How did the friendship with Mike ‘THE SITUATION” evolve and are you two still tight?


JM :We’ve been boys for a long time. After being acquaintances as kids, we met in the gym in our very early 20’s, exchanged some stories, and decided that if we joined forces, we would be an unstoppable dynamic duo. Over the 10+ years that followed, many of those years we spent living together and being inseparable. We haven’t seen each other in a while now; each of us living separate lives, but the love is still there, at least from my side.