We talked with Alec Enkiri in February, 2020.
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hello! Let me just start by saying thank you for the awesome opportunity to do this interview. I think it’s great that you guys are providing fitness information from a variety of different sources across multiple facets and specialties and helping to create a positive and comprehensive fitness message.
My name is Alec Enkiri. I’m 31 years old and I’m a strength training and sports performance enthusiast. I’m currently working full time as a self-employed strength coach and personal trainer through my online coaching business Enkiri Elite Fitness, where I offer comprehensive online fitness coaching to satisfy a myriad of goals, ranging from general strength/weight training, to powerlifting training, to sport performance training.
I first discovered my own love of weight training back in about 2007, early on in my college days. Weighing a mere 115lbs at the time, my initial motivations in the gym were just to add some muscle and body weight on to my frame.
However, it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the process of training and from that time forward I have spent countless hours researching, experimenting, and training to hone and perfect my methods.
Very early on in my training career, I became enamored with the idea of and process of building strength. That was my first love, but coming from a background of sports and athletics, I soon segued into the idea of marrying these two concepts and using the gym as a means of building strength, power, and conditioning that can be transferred over into improved raw athletic capacity, and therefore sport performance.
This is my primary area of interest and is one I’ve devoted much of my own training time to over the years. Using some of the methods I’ve learned I’ve been able to build a 40+ inch vertical jump as well as a 4.33 second yard dash, timed using the Jawku Speed timing system.
Additionally, I have also competed in multiple powerlifting competitions. My best lifts in the gym are a 530lbs squat, a 315lbs bench press, and a 585lbs deadlift all done at body weights of 155-160lbs.
In competition, I have squatted 525lbs in wraps and totaled 1300lbs in the 148lbs weight class. I have also squatted 523lbs in knee sleeves in the 165lbs weight class and totaled 1388lbs that same meet.
Other notable PRs include:
- 405lbs “zombie style” (no hands) front squat
- 425lbs regular front squat
- 220lbs high hang power snatch
- 265lbs hang power clean
- 320lbs jerk
- 1,050lbs sled push for 15yds
- 4 plate dip (180lbs) for 2 reps
- 3 plate chin-up (135lbs) for 2 reps
- 605lbs frame carry for 15yds
- carried a 240lbs barbell a total of 1 mile in 34:44
- ran a mile in 5:30 with no specific preparation
- 6.35 second 3 cone drill (L drill)
- 10.91 second 60yd shuttle
- 10’4” broad jump
- 60” box jump
- 5.59 second 1-legged 40yd dash
For me, training is pure satisfaction. There is no more satisfying feeling in the world than pushing the limits of your body, breaking new boundaries, hitting personal bests, and reaching goals that you never thought were even possible.
Improving the capacity of what the human body can handle, the stress it can tolerate, and the performances it is capable of achieving (in terms of strength, conditioning, power, and various combinations of these attributes) is simply my passion.
I live it and I breathe it and I’m constantly thinking of how I can improve not only for myself, but also for my clients. Simply put, I love this game and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
This really depends! It depends on what I’m trying to accomplish at that given time. For example, late in 2018, I was trying to hit a new personal best in the vertical jump, so my training involved a lot of squatting (heavy squats as well as speed squats), weighted jumping, box jumping, depth jumping, etc.
By the time 2019 rolled around, I wanted to see if I could PR my 40yd dash so I switched things up. I kept squatting (this time using the zombie front squat), but I took all the jumping variations out of the program and replaced them with different sprints.
I did a lot of resisted sprinting with multiple different resistances (a process I describe in this article), as well as a lot of short distance sprints (mostly 10-20yds), and I even threw in some one legged hopping and few other low/medium intensity plyometric drills to help improve my reactivity and decrease my ground contact times.
Lately, I’ve been really busy with my coaching business, so I’ve cut my own training time down significantly by working a method that I call One Lift A Day (OLAD), I did a whole video on this topic on my YouTube channel, but the basic gist is that you do only one lift per day!
You pick a handful of different major movement patterns (squat, hip hinge, horizontal press, horizontal pull, vertical press, vertical pull, loaded carry, something explosive for the lower body, etc) and then you pick a lift to work each movement pattern.
So for example, my current program is back squat on Sunday, weighted dip on Monday, resisted sprint on Tuesday, push press on Wednesday, loaded carry on Thursday, incline press on Friday, and weighted chin-up on Saturday. And that’s it!
I use multiple different set/rep schemes and progression methods that work well for each particular exercise and I then I hammer the hell out of each one for a few weeks before rotating to a different exercise that works the same movement pattern.
This program is great. Not only does it save a heck of a lot of time, but the progress you can make on it is also fantastic as well. By cutting out absolutely all of the fluff and focusing on just a few basic but highly effective exercises you can continue to crush it in the gym for quite some time.
Plus, the psychological effect of having only one exercise to put all of your energy into can really help you to continue to have great workouts day in and day out and get a solid training effect even on days where you may not have the most energy. It’s really a great solution for people who tend to get super busy at certain points of the year due to work or whatever reason.
To give you a few generalizations though, I typically like to stick with upper/lower splits for my own training. Even my OLAD program is set up on an upper/lower split.
Other than that I try to incorporate a squat or deadlift variation throughout most of the year, 1-2 pressing and pulling variations for the upper body, something explosive for the lower body (sprints, resisted sprints, different jumping variations, weighted jumps, modified Olympic lift variations, kettlebell swings, etc.), and some form of loaded carry.
I then tailor the specific exercises, set/rep ranges, and progression schemes towards the specific goals that I am hoping to accomplish during that block of training.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
This is tough to answer because motivation is transient. You don’t achieve long term goals based on “feeling motivated.” You achieve them because you have set yourself up to do so by slowly building habits that become a part of your lifestyle, and then adding onto those small habits bit by bit to create dramatic long term changes.
But to put it simply, when motivation is low I do what I described in my previous answer: I cut out all the fluff. In strength training and in sports performance training, you don’t need to hit five or 10 exercises and obliterate each muscle from multiple different angles to have a productive training session.
Just two to four exercises is more typical and probably better most of the time, but when motivation is dwindling I will often cut that down to just one single exercise. I find it easy to go to the gym and tell myself I’m going to do the absolute bare minimum amount of work on one single exercise just to have a productive training session and take a small step forward that day.
I also find that when I tell myself I’ll go in and work up to X weight for just three sets of five reps, that once I’ve done the first three sets I’m usually willing to do a 4th set and then a 5th set as well.
Half the battle is just getting yourself there and getting your body going. If you can convince yourself to do that part by tricking yourself into thinking the workout will be easy or it will be quick, then you’ll most likely end up doing more than you planned and getting in a solid workout.
As far as adversity goes, I would say the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far has been going through hip surgery. Back in 2015, I tore my labrum in my left hip due to a combination of pre-existing femoroacetebular impingement and my own stupidity.
With the tear I couldn’t really squat anymore without searing pain and after the surgery the recovery was tough and pretty extended due to the impingement needing to be “corrected” (i.e. they shaved off part of the femoral head of my left hip).
A few months before the surgery, I had just come off my first powerlifting meet where I squatted 525lbs in knee wraps the 148lbs weight class. So my target was to get back to or exceed this form.
Nearly five months after the surgery, I was finally cleared by my surgeon to begin squatting again, and starting with just 225lbs I slowly worked my way back up in weight, and by the 10 month post surgery mark I had squatted 520lbs in knee sleeves, which I made meet official just about a week later with a 523lbs squat in knee sleeves at a body weight of 162lbs.
The recovery period was difficult and daunting, but I signed up for that meet months in advance to light a fire under my ass and force myself to give it my all and work my way back up to and beyond my previous bests.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I’m doing great! My training is super simple right now, but things have been going very well lately. I’ve hit a string of personal bests on the push press these last few weeks as well as a string of personal bests on the “widowmaker” style squat (20 rep squats), and a string personal bests on the trap bar carry, both in terms of absolute weight carried as well as number of sub-maximal carries completed in a predetermined block of time (what I call density block training).
My specific training goals for the next few years are:
- hit a 230lbs hang power snatch from the pocket
- push press 300lbs
- run a sub 5 minute mile
- zombie squat 430lbs
- 650lbs trap bar carry for 15yds
- hit one last 40yd or vertical jump PR before my explosiveness starts to dwindle
To get there I’m going to just doing what I’ve been doing! My training is going fantastically, I’m hitting rep PRs all over the place and I’m as lean, muscular, explosive, and well conditioned as I’ve ever been in my entire life, so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!
Other than my own training, my other main goal is to keep building my training business. I experienced a large amount of growth in 2019 and took on many new clients, and my hope for 2020 is just to keep that trend going, hopefully to even greater heights.
I hope to exceed my own expectations in terms of what I can accomplish with my business, while at the same time exceeding the expectations of all of my clients in terms of the results that they can achieve with their own training.
If I could start my whole fitness journey over, the one thing I would change would be to hire a knowledgeable coach to show me the ropes right from the very get go. It took me years of trial and error and research to figure things out on my own and figure out what methods work best in what situations an for what specific goals.
While that may have provided a valuable learning experience for me as a coach and trainer, I also think that it led to me spinning my wheels for several years before finally really finding my stride.
If I could get that time back, I think I would be farther along than I am now and would be able to take my own training even farther than I have.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
In terms of rest and general recovery, I’m a big believer in power naps, but here I mean true power naps. None of this 2-3 hour, I just napped away half the day bullshit that I hear a lot of people talk about. But instead, you lay your head down for literally just 20 minutes to catch 10-15 minutes of actual sleep.
I try to sneak one of these power naps in every afternoon that I can swing it as I find that not only do they recharge me for the remainder of the day, but they also lead to much more productive training sessions later on in the day as well.
Other than that little trick, I just try to keep a consistent schedule and get in a solid eight to nine hours of sleep every night to ensure that I am consistently able to recover from my training.
Sleep is the most important aspect of recovery from training, and no amount of napping or caffeine can make up for a chronic sleep deficit so it’s very important to get this part nailed down and keep it that way.
For me personally, keeping a consistent daily routine is super helpful here because when my daily schedule gets all thrown off so too do my sleeping habits. But when I’m consistent and when I get in and out of bed at the same times every day I tend to fall asleep pretty easily and get all the sleep I need to recover and thrive.
Traveling can obviously throw a little bit of a monkey wrench into this whole thing because your routine and schedule are inevitably going to get thrown all out of whack, not to mention you will often be crossing into different time zones, which is another whole thing that needs to be contended with.
In these cases, I like to keep an ace card up my sleeve and just take a small amount of melatonin before bed to help calm me down and get that drowsiness kicking in after a long day of excitement and traveling.
I don’t like to rely heavily on supplements, especially for things like sleep, but when used judiciously something like this can really be a game changer to help ensure a good night’s sleep when you really need one or when you are trying to get your schedule back on track.
Now, as far as actual injuries go, I’m a big believer in focused rehabilitation. Most injuries in the weight room aren’t going to be catastrophic, tendon tearing, dramatic events. Most of the time they’re just boring overuse injuries that start off as a slight nag, progress to a moderate irritation, and sometimes become a chronic unbearable twinge if left unchecked for too long.
Without rehabilitation these injuries often never truly heal. Sometimes they “go away” when you rest them, but they return again shortly after you resume any activity that stresses the area.
So the old advice of rest the area for two weeks and pop some ibuprofen might lead you to believe the injury is gone, when in reality it’s just lying dormant. After that it’ll pop right back up again!
So then you visit the doctor and he tells you, “Well, if x activity hurts your then maybe you should stop doing x activity!” But that doesn’t sound like good advice to me either. If I listened to that advice I would have been relegated to the couch a long, long time ago.
The trick with these sorts of injuries is that you need to truly rehabilitate them. In the case of a tendonosis, which is a disease of chronic degeneration, that means you must actually force the tendon to remodel itself.
As an example, I was recently dealing with a long term (I’m talking 18 months this was lingering) tendonosis of the distal bicep tendon. I was too lazy to deal with it at first and it progressed from minor irritation during curls and chin-ups to a point where I couldn’t raise up a grocery bag because it was so painful. That was when I knew I had to be proactive and do something about it. I used a 3-pronged approach.
Starting with daily hammer curls using a very light weight. I did two to three sets of 15-20 reps per day, slow and controlled, just trying to pump as much blood into the area as possible. No progression in weight during this phase and once the pain died down slightly I moved on to phase two.
Switched from hammer curls to regular dumbbell curls where you supinate the forearm as you curl the DB. Started off very light and did one to two sets of 15-20 reps per day at first. I slowly progressed the weight and worked my way down to 10-15 reps per set. A few weeks later the pain had subsided pretty dramatically so I moved on to phase three.
Weighted chin-ups. I performed a 5×5 on the weighted chin-up twice per week. I started off with just 55lbs of additional weight and performed all reps from a dead hang in the bottom. Every week I added 2.5lbs and once I had worked my way up to 80lbs of additional weight the pain had completely subsided and my strength was back to normal.
This is a process though and you need to be patient with it as it takes a fair amount of time, roughly four months in this case. But that was well worth it because in those four months of focused effort I was able to completely heal a tendonosis that had been lingering for nearly two years. The most important parts here are use pain as your guide, be consistent, and be patient.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
My diet is pretty normal actually. I love food too much to restrict myself from eating all of the delicious things! That said, I have a few rules that I keep for myself when it comes to diet, the main one of which is to eat like an adult as I find that many people eat like they’re still children.
But when you cut out the pointless sugars, refined carbs, pretty much all processed foods, etc. etc. etc. it becomes very easy to eat healthy, support your fitness goals, and not feel deprived in the process.
For me, part of all this has been learning how to cook, as that’s where a lot of people lose sight of things. But when you prepare meals yourself not only do you control for all of the specific ingredients, but you also control the exact ratios of all the ingredients as well as the method by which everything is cooked, which is very important (for example, type of oil used, amount of oil used, frying something vs. sauteing it – all of these factors are small but play a huge role in how “good” or “bad” a meal ends up being).
So I have a bunch of staple meals that I go back to time and again, but I can also quickly throw together a solid meal anytime with pretty much anything that I keep in my refrigerator just because I’ve spent some time learning how to prepare meals.
Overall, I just try to eat a good amount of lean protein, I incorporate plenty of healthy fats ( primarily nuts, olive oil, avocado, coconut), I stick pretty much exclusively with oats, potatoes, and rice as my carb sources, I try to eat a large amount of a variety of different fruits and vegetables every day, and I use a variety of different spices very liberally (seriously, spices are your best friend).
If the food doesn’t match my diet then I’ll just skip eating at the event, but unless it’s literally just pizza and ice cream I can usually find something decent to eat.
I drink one to two cups of coffee every morning as well as a cup before I train. Sometimes I drink it black and sometimes I add cream or half and half, but no sweetener.
I drink alcohol socially, just a nice whiskey or vodka either neat or on the rocks, and I don’t go overboard with it. I don’t drink beer or cocktails and I never mix my alcohol with anything as the double whammy of alcohol plus the sugary concoctions everyone mixes their alcohol into is probably one of the worst combinations you could consider drinking.
I don’t take many supplements, just a few vitamins/general health things and I keep some protein powder on hand to mix into my oatmeal. The vitamins are D3, zinc, magnesium, fish oil, and creatine. I don’t stick to any one particular brand for these, I’m mostly just looking for highly bioavailable forms of the vitamins, but none of that Walmart stuff.
For the protein, I do typically go with Optimum Nutrition because they’re a reputable brand and they sell it for a fair price.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
For me, it’s progress. I still remember the first time I ever bench pressed. I was over at my friend’s house and I hit 145lbs and I got pinned by 150lbs.
After that I bought my own bench and I worked on it for a few weeks and then one day shortly after that I loaded 150lbs onto it and I smoked it. And I still remember that feeling.
Something about now being physically capable of lifting something that just a few short weeks ago I could NOT lift, was intoxicating to me and I was hooked from that point forward.
Getting better is still what motivates me to go out and give it my all every day but these days I have other motivations as well. I receive multiple comments and messages every week on my social media accounts from guys who are just starting out on their fitness journeys and even guys who have been at it for a while, telling me that my training videos and the information I put out is a source of motivation, inspiration, and knowledge for them, and I find it truly humbling.
And these messages are awesome because they inspire me right back. They make the relationship with the people who follow my work very real and so they motivate me to keep busting my ass in the gym every day.
Practicing different training methods, trying new things, and learning more about how the body performs, and behaves, and adapts so that I can keep putting out high quality information to teach other people who want to learn all about this stuff.
And I think that’s awesome because, without even realizing it, these guys who message me are helping me just as much as I’m helping them.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Consistency. Consistency is the most important factor when it comes to making long term improvements in your overall physical fitness and this is where most people seem to fail.
Every trainer has heard something like this: “Hey, I used to work out like a couple years ago and I got in really good shape and then I got lazy and stopped doing it, and now I’ve got a beach vacation coming up in 12 weeks and I want to be jacked and ripped when I take my shirt off. So can you help me?”
And obviously you’ll do what you can and, chances are, they’ll probably even be happy with the progress they make, but once this client reaches their imaginary finish line (i.e. the beach vacation) and decides to stop “running” these results will fade once again just as quickly as they came on.
It’s no different than someone who is a chronic yo-yo dieter. But if you really want long-term improvement then you have to commit yourself to making maintainable lifestyle changes. These changes can start off incredibly small as they will almost assuredly compound over time, as once something becomes habitual, it becomes easy.
Once a small change becomes habitual then you can add another small change; and then when that one becomes habitual you can add another, and then another, and so on and so forth until you’re jacked and strong and ultra fit and maintaining it all is just a part of your daily routine.
But it truly is a snowball effect. Start small, commit yourself to being consistent, and in the end I think you’ll be truly pleased with how far you’re able to go.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
Yep! I train clients from all over the world through my online coaching service, Enkiri Elite Fitness. I offer full time coaching/personal training to satisfy a vast variety of fitness goals.
I also write customized training programs for clients who are looking for an expertly prepared program but who feel they do not need any further guidance beyond that.
I believe people who are looking for a coach should hire me because I’m genuine and I’m invested in the process with you. I’ve always been guided by the mantra of “Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime,” and with my coaching and training programs that is exactly what you will be getting.
I don’t sugarcoat things and I don’t believe in duping people simply for the sake of making a dollar. Despite what some people may tell you, there are no shortcuts in this game. It takes countless hours of grueling work to get where you want to be.
But if you have the resolve and the will to put in the work then I will happily teach you everything that I have learned so that you know exactly what needs to be done to achieve your fitness goals and are armed with all the knowledge required to make gains inside and outside of the gym for a lifetime.
My vision is to:
- inspire people to better themselves by showcasing different feats of physical fitness.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
If you’re interested in learning more about my training philosophies or just following my progress, I post a mix of training vlogs as well as informative video content on my YouTube channel, Enkiri Elite Fitness. I also post short training clips every week on my Instagram, @ape288.
Lastly, be sure to check out my web site at enkirielitefitness.com. I have an archive of training related articles published on there that I’ve written over the last few months that go into great detail about my training philosophies and some of my favorite methods and exercises.
I also keep a blog on there where I talk about some of my training related goals and other fitness related topics, and since people are always asking me about my diet I’ve also recently started a section where I will be detailing some of my all time favorite muscle building recipes!