Joe Stankowski

Joe Stankowski


A guitar-hack for 35+ years, avid Iron Maiden fan/collector and Lake Michigan boater with his eye on tackling “the great loop” despite having the swimming skills of a cinder block!; Joe is a fitness & nutrition coach for “People Who Hate Exercise” and a freelance writer whose words of wisdom have appeared everywhere from Men’s Fitness to Women’s Health magazines. He’s the author of “The Ultimate Home Gym Guide”, contributor to “The 101 Best Workouts Of All Time” and recently released “Men’s Health Encyclopedia of Muscle”.


What type of sports did you participate in as a kid?

I suppose I was pretty active growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, but I don’t think it was anything particularly remarkable- it’s kind of how we all were; at least that’s the way I remember it. It was not exactly a sport, but a very important piece of my training background was that I’d spend time in the summer on my grandparent’s dairy farm where I’d get to throw hay bales around with my uncles and develop “farm strength” without ever having the sense that I was “working out” or “exercising”. I played a couple years of baseball as a pre-teen. Didn’t care much for it though. I preferred doing stunts and putting miles on my Kuwahara BMX bike. Around 7th grade, I picked up a barbell for the first time and something about it just felt really good to me. In high school, I played football (all-state defensive tackle as a senior) and track (shot put, discus and a super brief stint running the 400, but that’s an entirely separate story!). I later played some college football, competed at power lifting and strongman into my mid to late twenties – I am still a “kid” as far as I’m concerned now that I’m quickly closing in on my 47th birthday!

What injuries did you have to overcome as an athlete?

I had some lower back problems when I was playing football. Doctors at the facility I was sent to (same place that the Indianapolis Colts and Indy 500 race car drivers would go) suggested that I never perform a loaded squat again. I’m not really the best patient apparently, as that advice immediately went in one ear and out the other! Funnily enough, the stronger I became the better my back was feeling as well (not that I’m suggesting you ignore your own doctor’s advice, though!).

I ruptured my Achilles tendon a few years ago in my early forties while doing some explosive sprint-start training – I like to think it was because I was TOO strong for my own good in this case! Surprisingly enough, there was no real physical pain to speak of when it happened however it was quite an emotional shock to have a limb that just wouldn’t or couldn’t do what I expected it to do.

What does a typical week look like for you in terms of your workouts?

Training is much simpler for me now than it was when I was in my competitive days. I try to have 3 or 4 full body workouts a week, usually at home. If I’m taking more than 40 minutes to get my workout done, it’s only because I’m training in a commercial gym and got caught up in a heated discussion about eighties metal bands between sets.

Do you have any tips for getting to the gym or getting a workout in when you just don’t feel like it?

Go anyways. Commit to warming up for 5 minutes and give yourself permission to leave guilt-free if you still don’t feel like training that day. More often than not, getting started really is the hardest part.

What are the top three supplements you recommend for post-45 athletes?

Unless one has a solid foundation of practicing appropriate eat right, exercise and recovery strategies, I stay away from passive ‘band-aid’ supplements. There is no magic pill, potion or lotion that’s going to make you as lean and mean as consistent effort working the fundamentals.

What is your #1 fitness tip?

Don’t look for random ‘tips’ to solve all your fitness challenges. Random efforts can only produce random results. Tips typically lack context and can be inappropriate or completely useless. Rather you should find and develop a big-picture system and work the heck out of it. Embrace the process of change and remember that you’re training your body and not your ego.

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