I’ve seen a video of you doing a sort of wide-stance deadlift while holding the barbell between your legs. What is it, and what’s it for?
That’s a Jefferson squat. It’s an old movement—you don’t see many people do it anymore, but I think it’s excellent because it works your lower body in a unique way.
To do it, take a wide stance and hold the bar between your legs with one hand in front of your body and one hand behind it. Keep your glutes tensed while you squat down in the bucket (below parallel). Use smaller plates on the bar, no more than 25s, so you can get down deep enough. The key is to force your knees out—when you do that, it activates your glutes so you keep them under continuous contraction throughout the set. The better I became at doing Jeffersons, the more proficient I got at squatting. I learned how to activate my qlutes, hams, and quads better. Doing Jeffersons then the adduction machine one after the other has been crucial to my glute and hip-flexor development. Jefferson squats—that’s one of my secrets I’m giving away for free.
You talk about bodybuilding being an art. You also paint and draw—how has that influenced your bodybuilding?
I think of my bodybuilding and my paintings or sketches as two sides of the same coin. Both are means of expressing myself. Whether it’s the exercises you choose in order to build your body a certain way and the manner in which you move on a stage, or the pencils and brushes you use to make art on a canvas, those are all tools for creating art. Something from inside you comes out and manifests itself visually. Everyone can be an artist if they’re willing to express themselves.
So, I’m not sure how much one way of expressing myself has influenced another. To me, it’s relaxing to work on a sketch, even though it requires a lot of concentration and focus. When I travel I always have my sketchbook with me. What I do in the gym isn’t recreation. It’s not relaxing—it’s work. But both are means of making something from nothing, then building on that, and shading it, and forming it into something you see in your mind’s eye before you turn it into a reality.