Transformations, PR’s and 12 Bananas!

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Uncategorized

The Men’s Fitness video crew stopped by Renegade Gym on Saturday to shoot some footage of Sean Hyson’s amazing transformation and his attempt at a new PR in the squat. Sean is the fitness editor at Men’s Fitness magazine and has been taking the train out from New York City to train at Renegade Gym on the weekends for over a year now.

On top of that we also had a visit from one of my favorite guys in the entire fitness industry, none other than the owner of Monkey Bar Gym, Jon Hinds. For those that don’t know, Jon is a 46 year old white dude who can dunk a basketball, walk on his hands and perform numerous other displays of supreme physical fitness. He’s also a Pan Am games winning BJJ black belt, and one of the all around coolest, nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

While he was in town he was staying in Brooklyn and yesterday morning just decided to buy a bicycle, on a whim, and ride it from Brooklyn, through the Bronx to meet us at Yankee Stadium, while wearing flip flops, no less.

And no shirt. He just bought a Jeter shirt from a street vendor and threw it on to get in to the Stadium.

Dude is the definition of chill.

And he eats twelve bananas a day.


Back to Sean Hyson…

Ten weeks ago he decided he wanted to get really serious and do a transformation story. So I put together a 12-week training and nutrition program and we got started. So far Sean has lost 30 pounds of bodyfat, while simultaneously putting a half inch on his arms and improving all of his lifts.

This Saturday he was attempting a new PR in the squat, looking to put four plates on for the first time ever. Again, I will repeat the fact that he has lost thirty pounds over the last ten weeks and is running sprints, jumping rope and doing fasted cardio several days per week. Still, he was able to increase his strength dramatically in ten weeks, through an incredibly high level of dedication, discipline and attention to detail.

We will cover his transformation and training/nutrition program in more detail when it’s all done and we have the before and after pics in two weeks. But for now I think the video below speaks for itself:

While Sean was squatting, a bunch of us were doing pin pulls at the next rack down. I worked in with my brother, Jared, Hinds, and my good friend and Renegade Gym member, Lieutenant Paul Miller of the NJ State Police.

I’m still doing my best to stay smart and not go too heavy on anything. I need to just get healthy and stay healthy. However, the cameras were rolling and the adrenaline was pumping so I jumped up almost 200 pounds from the last time I did rack pulls a few weeks ago. None of these sets were incredibly hard, though, so I told myself it was all smart and safe. Even though a 200 pound jump is never remotely smart or safe.

Again, I am keeping the reps high on my warm up sets in order to ensure that I am totally warm and ready for my heaviest sets and also to induce fatigue (the opposite of what I recommend for most people) so that my heaviest sets aren’t as heavy as they would be had I done less warm ups. Right now it’s working quite well and I feel good.

I worked up to 545 with the following progression:
135 x 10
225 x 10
315 x 10
405 x 8
455 x 8
495 x 10- I think. Maybe I got 8 or 9. I can’t remember. This was going to be my heaviest set so I pushed it.

But then Paul did this weight for five reps:

This was a huge milestone for Paul as it was the first time he’s had five plates on the bar. At 46, he’s bigger and stronger than he’s ever been and has been making insane gains in size and strength the last few months. So congrats to the big man for that awesome new PR.

Anyway, after watching Paul do that I couldn’t NOT do another set ;) So I threw on another quarter and did 545 for a few reps:

Without all the warm ups, and if I was really going all out I think I would have had 600 in me. Which isn’t great, but isn’t bad for where I’m at right now and I’m happy with it.

Probably the most impressive performance on the rack came out of Hinds. Until Saturday he hadn’t touched a barbell in 15 years, as he does the majority of his training with bodyweight only.

Still he worked up to 405 for 12, which I thought was awesome. I know that if I hadn’t touched a barbell in 15 years I’d probably only be doing 225 or so.

For some reason we didn’t catch it all on video, but trust me; he got 12 reps.

Finally, Jared finished up with 495 for 12:

After that we messed around on the glute ham and did some tire flips:

After that we had a challenge on the log clean and press.

I wasn’t going to train at all on Saturday since I had already trained three times that week and done a couple days of hill sprints. I also woke up at 4:44 in the morning so I didn’t have a ton of energy. But once I felt the intensity and the adrenaline I made a last minute game time decision to get in on it.

However, I really had no intentions of pressing the log, considering that I had pressed on Friday, and my injured shoulder and all…

But, of course, I continue to make testosterone influenced decisions in the heat of battle.

Paul beat everyone on the log with 20 reps so I had to jump in and see if I could beat my buddy. That would only be the right thing to do…

After that a round robin style tournament of tug of war broke out, with the finals coming down to me and Sean vs. Jared and Brian.

All in all it was a great day, tons of healthy competition and a lot of fun.

And that’s what training should be all about.

Please leave your questions and comments below.

Leave a Reply

34 Responses to Transformations, PR’s and 12 Bananas!

  1. Isaac Wilkins May 3, 2010 at 10:19 am #


    Awesome stuff! Training with a group of like-minded dudes is just about the most fun you can have, and the testosterone-based decision making always comes out!

    The “12-bananas” line cracks me up. At Zach’s Underground Level II a couple of weeks ago everyone was talking about John Hinds and is 20+ bananas a day approach. Before you knew it, we were all running around eating bananas!

    Stay strong,


  2. PACO MILLAN NICOLOPULOS May 3, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    felicidades Excelente material de Jason, ESO SI ES Entrenamiento.

  3. Brian Gladfelter May 3, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    I think that’s the most motivating set of videos I’ve seen in a long time! Thank’s for posting them up.

  4. Eskow May 3, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    I can’t believe we fucking lost that last round of tug-o-war. I’m not an excuse maker, but if we only had that extra 30 seconds of rest……

  5. Blashyrkh May 3, 2010 at 11:53 am #

    Looks like that Rogaine-on-the-face is working.

    Man, that looks like the most fun atmosphere to train in ever. Nice job on the log press, that was bad ass.

  6. A.J. May 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    “Loyalty” coming on during the log clean = MONEY.

  7. Chu Li May 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Hi, Ive just started doing deadlifts! I noticed you doing what I think are called rack pulls!? How are these in comparison to deadlifts, do they aid each other, should I do them before or after???

  8. Elliott Hulse May 3, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    Jay, those are some bad-ass vids… looks like you guys had a great time! Try to get some weight on that log next time ;)

    I love the new look of your blog too.


  9. Matt May 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    Great new blog look Jay!
    Kick ass post too….I wanna see more of these and something similar nutrition/diet wise! Awesome stuff.
    Keep killing it!

  10. jasonferruggia May 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    @Brian Gladfelter- Thanks man.

    @Eskow- Na, you’re way off…

    @Blashyrkh- Rogaine on the face, haha. Nice.

    @ A.J. Yeah, man. It’s a classic at Renegade.

    @Chu Li- They don’t aid your pull from the floor. I like to start people in the rack and then have them work down to the floor over a few months.

    @Elliot Hulse- Thanks, E. I will. I gotta get big and strong like you first.

    @Matt- Thanks. Glad you like it. Will definitely get some more diet/nutrition videos up soon as well.

  11. Sean Hyson May 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    That day should be added to the calendar as a national holiday. Quite simply one of the best workouts, and days, of my whole life.

    It was great having Jon Hinds in there. I’ve met a lot of trainers and coaches over the years and so many are loyal only to their own “brand” of training. But there was Hinds, who hadn’t trained with a barbell in 15 years, mixing it up with (mostly) much younger guys in their world and on their turf. Hinds not only held his own but made a statement—body-weight training and a vegan diet (ok, just bananas!) can make you a bad ass well into your 40s.

    Congrats to Jared, Brian, Paul, and Jay for kicking as much ass as they did. If you beat these guys at anything, it’s only because you’re having a great day—enjoy it while it lasts. It should also be noted that Dean Stattman, our editorial assistant and a first-timer at Renegade, walked into a very intimidating situation and stepped right up for the rack pulls. When the footage the MF camera man took hits our website (hopefully this week), you’ll see a different perspective of how all this went down (we also got interviews with Jay and Hinds, which I’ll bring out at a later date), but there’s no record that can do justice to what it felt like to be there.

    It’s been an honor to train at that gym with that crew. I couldn’t have gotten half as far without them.

    • Paul May 4, 2010 at 7:27 am #

      @Sean Hyson: -Sean, Congrats to you my friend. It was an awesome day and there are many more to come. It is a privledge for me to train with you and all of my friends at Renegade. Double J’s that day kickin ass (Jay and Jon) Thank you all for sharing your skills, motivation and camaraderie.

  12. Christian Bylsma May 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    When I plan a “holiday” in the US. Renegade gym will be priority. One day I’ll have the honor of training with you guys, hopefully sooner than later.

  13. mike May 3, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    jason awsome stuff man outstanding work.
    jason hope i am not bothering you but in your diet entry you talk about yellow peas and how much protein they have twice as much as dead cow. i looked at whole foods but they do not carry them could you please tell me where you got them. thanks jason you have really helped my eating and training thanks so much.

  14. joe May 3, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    sweet vids, but if you dont mind me asking why were you using a belt?

  15. Julie Sawyer May 4, 2010 at 5:10 am #

    Awesome videos Jason! Very inspiring and motivating. I hope to meet you at one of the trainers’ conferences sometime and to come visit your gym one of these days when I’m up there!

  16. jon May 4, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    hey renegade crew, thanks for greeting me at your den! it was really fun to mix it up with you all and see a whole crew training so hardcore!! GREAT! Sean made his 405 squat look so easy, obvious his path has been a smart one and that he’s still progressing strongly AND losing fat speaks volumes of his training and nutrition. Jason you strong bastard:) thanks alot my friend, had a great time and for sure i’ll be back out to nyc soon and we’ll train some more…maybe next time some Handstand walking and plyo jumping:) haha
    awesome place and awesome time and thanks again jason, sean and everybody at renegade!
    your friend,

  17. Jamie May 4, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    Great stuff as usual Jason. Impressive pulling for sure. Hinds is the man for sure. I don’t know if I could hand 12 bananas a day though!!

    How often do you like to include rack pulls?

  18. Luka Hocevar May 4, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    that looks like an incredible day of training and makes me want to come down to Jersey and train!

    Nothing better than healthy competition to set new PR’s.

    Keep the great content and vids coming Jay.

    Luka Hocevar

  19. Deavel May 4, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    Nice videos!Keep up the good work

  20. Marc May 4, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    Can someone explain why 12 bananas? Does he only have bananas as meals the whole day, everyday? Thanks.

  21. Ray May 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    Great post, bro. Looked like an awesome time.

  22. Odi May 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    That log clean & press looks like a complete workout for several muscle groups, nice

  23. jasonferruggia May 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    Sean- Great post. Always a pleasure to have you.

    Christian- You’re more than welcome to come in and train, any time.

    Joe- I wear a belt when I go heavy because of some old lower back injuries.

    Julie- Thanks, let me know if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

    Paul- Ditto, what I told Sean.

    Jon- Thanks for leaving a comment. We loved having you, bro. You’re always welcome at Renegade. And I’m down for whatever type of training you want ;)

    Jamie- In a typical four week cycle I might do rack pulls once a week for three weeks and then deload the fourth week. I like them a lot better than pulls from the floor for most people.

    Luka- Thanks a lot, bro. I appreciate it.

    Marc- The real question is, “Why not 12 bananas?” He eats other fruit and nuts and seeds and a huge salad at night.

  24. Chris May 5, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    “I like them a lot better than pulls from the floor for most people. ” Interesting..what is “most people” by your definition? I’ve done both methods ever since I started training a couple years ago. Do you suggest rack pulls in place of deadlifts for the majority of the time? When would I deadlift instead of rack pull? Love the videos by the way…..

  25. Jparis May 5, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    Like the new look and all the videos in the post.

  26. Dan May 6, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    I’ve never done rack pulls, just dead lifts. I’m going to incorporate them into my workout now though. Videos were certainly motivation to step it up.


  27. BrightJock May 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Inspiring! Making me want to add rack pulls to my routine… usually do SDLs but I may add that gem to the list. Keep the vids coming!

  28. jasonferruggia May 10, 2010 at 5:37 am #

    Chris- I mean that most people can not keep a proper arch when pulling from the floor. When you pull a heavy weight while in spinal flexion the risk of injury is too great. That is why I like rack pulls better for most people. They are also more stressful, even if you can do them perfectly. If you can pull with a perfect arch then by all means pull from the floor whenever you see fit.,

    Jparis, Dan & BrightJock- Thanks, guys.

  29. Adam L May 10, 2010 at 5:57 am #

    Incredible vids man. Amazing PRs and extreme motivation just by watching them. So stoked for summer to be here with a break from college so I can focus full time on improving my strength/performance.

    Also: Can I come train my banana eating skills at Renegade!? I’ll just kick back and watch people push the prowler and devour bunches of nanaz! I won’t let you down Jay.

  30. Jay May 13, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

    I pretty much have free access to bananas…….maybe I’ll just try it, but I kinda would like to know why he eats so many?

  31. Enoc May 13, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Wow Jason!!! this training environment is what my gym clearly lacks!! I would love to train with you someday, I have followed your MGS for eight months now and It have worked perfectly, the only problem is to keep eating 6 times a day is sometimes hard..
    Nice vids.. greetings from Panama, Central America…

  32. wrestler strength November 10, 2010 at 6:41 am #

    Awesome videos of some serious training!