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Stan Efferding
I’m the Founder of the Vertical Diet, IFBB Pro and World Record Powerlifter. This How I Eat and Train

Stan Efferdings Stats When We Talked with Him 💪

United States
52 years
183 cm
(6 ‘)
109 kg
(240 lbs)

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👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

Hey guys! My name is Stan Efferding and I’m 52 years old. I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and graduated from the University of Oregon where I studied exercise science.

I lived in Seattle for nearly 20 years and now I’m in Las Vegas for the last seven years. I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last 15 years running my own businesses. I’m married to my wife Malia and we have three kids ages 20, 7 and 5.

I’m an IFBB Professional bodybuilder and a world record Powerlifter. I’m the only man over 40 years ever totaled over 2300 pounds. I was a high school soccer player and wrestler before I started lifting in college.

I started competing in bodybuilding since 1986 and weighed 158 pounds in my first show. I own The Vertical Diet, which is available in eBook format currently and the hard copy will be published in the spring of 2020.

I also own the vertical meal prep, which serves prepared meals nationwide throughout the United States. I also invented and own the Kooler, which I presented on shark Tank and partnered with Damon John.

I’ve always enjoyed bodybuilding and fitness for the discipline and physical challenge. It’s always helped me be more successful in other areas of my life as well.

⏱ Describe a typical day of training

I believe you can train long or you can train hard but you can’t do both.

Currently, I’m training four days a week. I’ll do two upper body days and two lower body days. On lower body days, I’ll split the workouts and train hamstrings and calves in the morning and then quadriceps at night. On upper body days, I’ll just superset dips with chips and then incline dumbbell press with Long Pulley Rows.

I typically go back-and-forth between a strength block and a hypertrophy block. For strength, I’ll do lower reps (3-5), lower volume, higher weight, longer rest periods. For hypertrophy, I’ll do higher reps (8-12) shorter rest periods, higher volume and moderate weights.

I generally train for less than an hour. I believe you can train long or you can train hard but you can’t do both. Training is just a stimulus, you grow and get stronger outside the gym from eating and sleeping.

I have a gym in my garage which is very convenient. When I was competing I always sought out the best athletes or coaches to train with or under which definitely helped with my success.

In 2009, I spent three months in San Hose training with Flex Wheeler every day before I won my IFBB Pro card then I went to Sacramento and trained with Mark Bell powerlifting for two months and set one of my world records in powerlifting.

I always try and eat within two hours of training and generally within an hour after training and I always take 500 mg of sodium immediately before and after training and if it’s a long hard legwork out then I’ll consume some simple carbs post workout as well.

I’ve never done a lot of steady state cardio. I get plenty of high-volume hit training from my hypertrophy work and I’ve implemented 10 minute walks after meals to improve digestion and insulin sensitivity.

When I was powerlifting I would do 3×10 minute HIIT sessions on a recumbent bike the day after training legs in order to help my quads recover by pumping a lot of blood into them.

These days about all I use for equipment is a belt. I’ve managed to rehab all my joints so I don’t use knee sleeves or knee wraps.

I’ve always tracked my progress, mostly what I do outside the gym such as hours of sleep and meals. I only tracked my top lifts in training and continually tried to improve on those over time.

My favorite exercises are the powerlifts, squat, bench and deadlift, which built the core of my training program.

I use exercises that don’t hurt. I love to squat so I found a form that didn’t hurt, which is the low bar squat breaking at the hips first so that’s what I do every week.

I have a torn rotator cuff so I don’t flat bench, I prefer dumbbells, which I think are better for pec development because they allow a greater range of motion And independent movement of the shoulders.

👊 How do you keep going and push harder?

Now that I’m retired from competing I don’t have to push as hard. My focus is on staying healthy. Having said that I switch back-and-forth between strength blocks and hypertrophy blocks and I still create a progression typically using an undulating Periodization style varying my rep ranges and loads.

I love to train and I create workouts that I enjoy so I don’t require any motivation to go to the gym. Throughout my competitive career, I always had a goal whether it was a pending bodybuilding show or powerlifting meet that kept me on track and motivated.

Since I train in my garage and my upper body workouts are supersets, which take less than 40 minutes I’m easily able to find the time to train.

The biggest challenges are always rehabilitating from injuries, which I’ve certainly had plenty throughout my career. I learned to focus on injury rehab during those times and cleared my mind of competition.

I focus on high ROI (return on investment) movements such as the squat, chins and dips because they work multiple muscle groups at once and allows me to get maximum benefit with minimal time invested in the gym.

Putting a squat bar on your back and lifting significant weight helps maintain muscle in the whole body plus it gets my heart rate up.

🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Since I’m not competing, I really enjoy my training and my current goals are to maintain a high level of fitness through consistency and training smarter rather than harder and allowing my body to recover. My plans are to continue growing my businesses and raise my children and help others achieve their goals.

If I could start over, I’m quite certain I would pursue the same goals but I’m confident I would have achieved them much sooner knowing what I know now and having access to all the information that’s available and the great coaches and athletes from whom I’ve learned much over the years.

I stay informed on the current research by reading a number of reliable resources including Mass Research review by Greg Nuckols, Alan Aragon’s monthly newsletter, Jerry Brainums applied metabolic research review and books and articles by Layne Norton, Barbell Medicine, Bret Contreras, Brad Schoenfeld and Chris Beardsley.

My five-year goal is to continue to be consistent and maintain my current level of strength, conditioning and health.

🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

I don’t do exercises that hurt.

I’m more cautious about the types of lifts all perform. I don’t subject myself to the loads that are likely to cause injury and I listen to my body. I don’t do exercises that hurt. I am also very disciplined about my sleep and my nutrition and my mobility work, which mostly consists of taking three of the 10-minute walks after meals daily. I always try to sleep at least seven to nine hours.

I travel nearly every weekend but I am very organized and pack all of my meals with me and fly during the day so I’m able to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

I travel with a thermos or two or three so I have hot meals throughout the day and I pack frozen meals in my checked luggage and stay at an extended stay or a hotel with a fridge and microwave and I stop at a grocery store when I land and buy any perishables like yogurt, cranberry juice, cheese, carrots and oranges so I have all my regular food when I’m on the road.

I take vitamin D3 and magnesium and cod liver oil capsules every day.

When I do have setbacks, pain or injuries, I always apply the same method for recovery:

  • Eliminate the source
  • Find pain free movements
  • 0. Move. Early and often.

I’ve done numerous videos about pain and rehab for my hips, knees and back. I’ve learned a lot about pain and rehab from the folks at Barbell Medicine and from Dr. Stuart McGill.

I always sleep seven to nine hours and prioritize proper quantity and quality of sleep. I use a CPAP to prevent episodes of apnea, which is common is lifters with thick necks.

🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

I don’t eat foods I like, I eat foods that like me.

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I follow my Vertical diet. Since I eat plenty of red meat, I’ve never gotten much benefit from taking creatine and I have a very micro nutrient dense diet so I don’t need many additional supplements and only take Vit D3, magnesium because they’re hard to get from food and codliver oil capsules for additional natural Vit A, Vit D.

I get plenty of protein from red meat, whole eggs, yogurt and salmon twice a week so I don’t need any additional protein supplements. I salt all of my food and I drink a few ounces of cranberry juice daily for iodine and I get plenty of potassium from a daily potato and fruit and yogurt in the meats that I eat.

The one thing I avoid like the plague is vegetable oil’s (seed oils). I also eat a low FODMAP menu, which really helps my digestion so I’m never bloated and I’m regular. I also include bone broth in my diet daily for digestion and collagen as well, which has been shown to provide some benefit for the joints.

I shoot for 1 g of protein per pound of body weight daily and I divide that up in at least four meals a day. I keep my fats reasonable, somewhere between 75 and 100 g a day and I fluctuate my carbohydrate intake based on my workload and my desire to gain or lose weight at any given time.

My fats are in my protein sources so I don’t add any additional fats. My carbs begin with daily potato and some fruit, typically oranges, and the carbs in my yogurt.

Any additional carbs, I eat will be from white rice because it’s so easy to digest. My vegetables are low gas vegetables such as spinach and peppers squash zucchini and a daily carrot.

I don’t specifically track calories daily but I can estimate them to be at 4000 cal. I’ll weigh every morning and every night and if I’m trying to gain weight I’ll eat a little more food and watch the scale if I’m trying to lose weight I’ll eat a little less food and watch the scale.

I’m always able to find something that fits my diet when I go out and eat. I’ll simply eat the proteins if there’s no carbohydrate sources that are available and get the carbs later when I’m able.

It’s rare that I am not prepared with my meals either the ones I’ve cooked and carry with me or the frozen meals that I pack and travel with but there’s also a few restaurant chains that I can consistently eat at when I travel such as outback for a steak and potato and Cheesecake Factory for hamburger patties and white rice.

I really don’t have cheat days. I’ve always suffered from digestion problems so I stay very disciplined. I say that I don’t eat foods I like, I eat foods that like me, and I make that decision about an hour after I eat.

I also don’t eat egg whites, white fish and broccoli so I don’t consider my meals to be restrictive and therefore don’t really desire a cheat day because I’m eating steak and eggs and potatoes and rice and cheese and yogurt and fruit and salting all of my meals every day.

I’ve never had cravings. Ever since I started lifting in college if I was hungry or I had room in my stomach I wanted to put something in there that would make me grow, something with protein or quality carbs.

I use to diet on egg whites and chicken breast and I would lose a lot of size and strength. When training with Flex Wheeler in 2009, I ate a ton of steak and white rice and I maintained a lot more size and strength so I’ve been doing that ever since and it works very well for me and all of my clients.

I start with a fatty steak like rib eye and adjust the fat content throughout my diet by switching to a New York steak, then a top sirloin, then a sirloin tip, which helps me reduce my fats but keeps my proteins high.

I’ve been bulking and cutting for 30 years. I was 140 pounds as a freshman in college when I started lifting in 1986 I competed in my first bodybuilding showing 158 pounds.

By 1995, I weighed over 300 pounds. I’ve dieted down and bulked up many times and been over 300 pounds and at least 10 different occasions over the last 30 years.

I’ve learned what kind of diets make me small and weak and I’ve learned what kind of bulking made me fat. I’m much more careful now when I diet to keep red meats and fruits and salt and dairy and carbs in my diet so I don’t lose size and strength.

And when I’m bulking I’m cautious to eliminate the foods that cause fatty liver disease like too much sugar, too much fat or too many grains like pizza, pasta and pancakes.

I alternate between bulking and dieting and I recommend the same for all of my strength and power athletes to prevent or cure metabolic syndrome and improve insulin sensitivity. Basically periodization for diet and weight gain similar to what is done for training.

I never drink coffee tea or alcohol. I don’t use a meal tracker for my diet or activity level. I tend to eat the same things every day in the same quantities so it’s very easy to track just by writing down the number of meals I eat daily.

If I want to gain weight I’ll add more carbs. If I wanna lose weight I’ll reduce my carbs and make a small adjustment to my fat intake.

I’ve never been a big proponent of supplements. I’ve often said “Shakes are for fakes, eat steaks”. That’s not to say there aren’t some supplements that may help some people in certain situations but I’ve always gotten the majority of my nutrition from food.

If you eat enough Wooten, there’s no added benefit to taking protein shakes or BCAA’s and if you eat enough red meat (2lbs a day), you can get all of the 5g of Creatine that may help with performance without the need to supplement. If your deficient in protein or Creatine in your diet then supplementing them can help.

I don’t fast more than 12 hours. I may recommend that for someone with metabolic syndrome or IBS or autoimmune disorders or gastric reflux for a short time to improve these symptoms but for performance I prefer to have evenly spaced meals with adequate protein to optimize recovery and fuel workload.

👍 What has inspired and motivated you?

I’ve never been able to answer this question for myself or for anyone else. I’m just driven to do what I do. I set my sights on a goal and I pursue it. I think this is something that’s innate in a lot of people.

I think it’s important to have a goal but it’s only 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I was always very good at the process of repeating the necessary behaviors day in day out, week in week out, month in month out and year in year out that lead to success.

✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

My advice for people who want to improve themselves is always to focus on the process not the goal. To create sustainable consistent habits and to track compliance. Also to manage the logistics such as planning ahead to have meals and sleep in order so the training is always successful.

It’s also important to understand the difference between exercising and training. I’m careful that I get the best return on my investment for the time that I put into training to make sure that it results in progress. I don’t do work for the sake of work and I don’t believe in a lot of wasted volume. I use the best science to create a hypertrophy training program.

Dorian Yates philosophy for training and progressing is very simple and concise. You have to progress. You have to increase weight or reps or sets over time to create stress for the. Key and force it to adapt. When the adaption stops then you have to pick new exercises or slightly different angles and build another progression.

🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?

I have a lot of clients both professional and amateur and average people from all over the world and I still take on clients with the help of my co-author and business partner Damon McCune who is a registered dietitian with a PhD in exercise physiology.

I believe in science but I also use proven methods that I’ve tried and have been successful for my clients to get results.

We mostly handle online clients but I conduct seminars on nearly a weekly basis where I do hands-on tutorials showing people how to live.

📝 Where can we learn more about you?

My website is My Instagram is @Stan Efferding. My YouTube is Stan Efferding. I have dozens of videos on YouTube that are very informational. I also have dozens of podcasts and seminars that are available on YouTube.

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