I first came across Will de Leon several months ago in the Convict Conditioning community. On that Facebook group I started to post my philosophy about training and calisthenics. Will replied to me with a lot of enthusiasm and details. I observed immediately that we have some things in common such as training style, vision about calisthenics and of course the sport itself.
After a few months, when I finally launched this blog I proposed to him a written interview and he accepted. So, thanks to Will for accepting my request. I truly believe this article will motivate a lot of youngsters to start training and to stay dedicated to this path for their entire life.
Honestly, the reasons why I proposed this interview have nothing to do with the fact that we share some things in common. I studied Will – the “fit over 40” man – on social media, and what I have discovered is truly amazing.
This guy is over 40 and he looks like a 25 year-old youngster. It’s easy to presume that he had and still has a healthy and happy lifestyle. He is fit and damn muscular. Besides that, he attained a very functional and brutally strong body after years of working out with calisthenics. And there is more: the man has a job, a wife and he is a happy father. So, after discovering these things about him, my question was:
How the hell did he manage to be a super advanced athlete while being busy with his career and family?!!!
I mean, we all have 24 hours in a day! How organized can he be?! You’ll find out!
Will de Leon is the kind of athlete that does muscle ups, human flags, levers, free handstands and some other advanced calisthenics moves. And if you are not impressed by now with the way he looks and the skills he has, then you should know that this guy, over 40 years old, can do an inhuman amount of repetitions in a very short period of time. I am 26 years old and I can honestly tell you that I would certainly have problems keeping up with Will’s pace in a workout.
And these are the reasons, my friends, why I contacted him. So let’s get to the Q&A:
Adorian: Hey Will! Tell us exactly your age, please!
Will: I am 43 years old. I will be 44 on October 4th. Wow! I need to get to 44 pull up reps soon! 🙂
Adorian: I barely find 10 persons to do more than 20 strict pull-ups under the age of 30. You are truly at the next level!
Adorian: What is your professional career and how many hours a day do you work?
Will: My Career is Calisthenics (Hahaaa!), just kidding. Jokes aside, I graduated from College with a degree in Business Management/Administration. I have worked in many fields. In the last 9 years, I have been working with a Home/Commercial Alarms Security company and my work involves Alarm monitoring and Technical support from a Central location. We identify people inside the properties and verify/confirm if they belong there or not via camera, phone or voice intercom communication from our Central location to theirs and we dispatch the local authorities such as police, medical and fire depending on the alarm event and needs of the person(s) on site.
Adorian: When do you find time to workout? You seem so passionate about this sport. Do you still find time for personal activities and family?
Will: I work a 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. work shift near home and that allows me plenty of time to work out in the morning and still have time for personal activities and family time during the weeks. Weekends I am off.
Adorian: I ask these questions because I see many people complaining that they can’t find time to reconcile personal time with career and sports, that they are too old or find calisthenics too hard. What is your opinion about this?
Will: Everyone can make time, they just have to learn to make the time and commit to it. You can get an Excellent workout in 20 to 30 min., three times a week especially for those that are starting out. Weekends or off days from work allow you even more flexibility. How committed you want to be is up to you. If you look at my workouts and videos you will see how I manage to do high intensity work in so little time. No one is too old to do Calisthenics. Just browse the YouTube pages. The evidence is Clear! There are many men and women in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s that are just starting out. They decided to make the commitment, are making great progress and are changing their lifestyles around.
Adorian: How do you organize yourself to have time for everything in a day or week?
Will: That’s easy!! I don’t try to do everything in a day or a week. Everything has its time. We just have to understand that what can’t be done today will be done tomorrow. We have to learn to prioritize, work resourcefully, diligently and not handle more than we can handle. Simplicity is key.
Adorian: How many workouts do you do in a week and how much time does it take for you to finish them?
Will: I workout 6 days a week and do about 1 to 2 workouts in the day if time permits. Most of my workouts last anywhere between 2 min. to 15 min. of actual activity. I do a lot of short/ high reps workouts and when I do 3 to 4 cycles of them with about 10 min. rest between the cycles, the total workout can be about 35 to 40 min. You are wondering how I do a 2 minute workout? Simple: I do 1 set of 38 to 43 reps pullups in under 2 min. or a max. set of pushups and I call it a work out. I don’t always put in high volume work or sets and reps each day, but I make sure I do “something” each day.
Adorian: Tell me please, what keeps you pushing so much each workout? What is your mindset and how do you function/react when you have a goal like exercising?
Will: I push hard all the time because it is the only way to break through plateaus as I have learned through experience. The Results are very satisfying and rewarding. I love having the energy and ability to move my body with such ease, strength, and flexibility. I love setting goals, working hard for them, reaching them and then moving onto other goals. I always set short term goals as I reach for the longer term goals. Some take longer than others, but when I put my mind to it, I always achieve them. Having a clear vision, purpose and meaning are important in order to continue moving forward with your exercising. I am realistic as to what my body is capable of at the time being and I think we all need to re-evaluate our goals often in order to avoid discouragement and to keep moving forward.
Adorian: Why do you love calisthenics?
Will: It’s an excellent way to stay in shape, in good health and it’s motivating, encouraging and inspiring to see so many other athletes across the globe doing the same. It creates unity and love for the sport.
Adorian: What makes calisthenics such a complete sport above all?
Will: It involves the 5 major Key components to Physical Fitness which are: Cardiovascular Fitness, Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Flexibility and Body Composition.
Adorian: For how many years have you trained?
Will: 3 Years consistently till present.
Adorian: Have you ever found yourself incapable of training or in a stage where you would rather quit than push yourself over and over again? A lot of people ask me what they should do when their state of mind is not good. What would you tell them?
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Will: If their state of mind is not good, I would just recommend thinking about why they started in the first place and what are their short term/long term goals? Maybe they need to re-evaluate their goals. Maybe they are in an over-trained state of being and have been working too hard and setting unrealistic goals. Maybe their nutrition or sleep habits are not so good. Maybe their personal lives, relations, stress, work, family troubles can be affecting them. All that can take a big toll on you and leave you feeling drained/discouraged and wanting to quit. There has to be a balance, peace of mind and stability in order for all to work smoothly. If the environment that you are in is creating chaos, then you must move away from it and find your peace and organization before you can continue. That goes for almost everything in life and not just Calisthenics.
Adorian: You will do calisthenics for the rest of your life. You had obviously understood something that whatever happens, you still need to train. What is that something?
Will: Yes I will do Calisthenics for the rest of my life :). I want to rephrase your statement. I don’t need to train. I “want” to train. That is a big difference. I’m sure you agree :). I love training. I love the feeling of being Strong and full of Energy and looking Strong and Fit at any age. That’s the something :).
Adorian: I fully agree. I also train because I want to and because I know my goals. I like being brutally strong and functional!
Adorian: Have you stopped your workouts at some point for a long period of time? Why?
Will: Years ago, I was not so consistent. I was into partying, hanging out, living the fast life and throwing in a few workouts here and there for aesthetic reasons. Nowadays I have learned that if you stay consistent and work hard, then the aesthetics is a Bonus and a by product of the true Calisthenics lifestyle and it’s not something I have to worry so much about anymore.
Adorian: I always say that the things we do in our general life are directly correlated to our progress in sports.
Adorian: What do you think are the most important things for a person to know when starting calisthenics?
Will: I think it’s important for them to learn the Basic exercises and the Principles of sets and reps numbers for Strength, Size and Endurance work so that they understand what each workout’s purpose is so that they are not just doing something because they saw someone else do it or because they saw it somewhere and have no idea why they are doing it. Once they have a solid foundation and experience with that, then they can build on top of the principles and mix things up.
Adorian: Do you find age is an obstacle for building solid muscle and strength?
Will: No, not at all. Experience and personal testimonies show otherwise.
Adorian: Do you consider that we need to take any supplements to have real results?
Will: No. I do not use any supplements. I learned that from experience. I’ve used whey proteins, weight gainers and multivitamins years ago, but all I really did was waste my money. Protein is overrated as well. It’s all marketing hype to take your money and feed on the vulnerable and desperate. Hard work, consistency and real food are what gives you the results you seek.
Adorian: Tell me about genetics. When I post my photos here and there, a lot of people tell me that genetics is in my favor, even though I tell them how much I work for my craft. Is genetics so damn important after all? Or do you think that any person could get a strong and well-sculpted physique?
Will: I am 43 years old, going on 44 soon and I can tell you that I have seen “ A great deal” of men and women who have not lifted a single dumbbell in their lives and “Completely” turn their lifestyles around and Amazingly change their body image, health, confidence, energy, strength. Many have won bodybuilding competitions, fitness competitions, road running races, triathlons, marathons, you name it! Genetics plays a favor in many people to a certain degree, but nothing beats Hard work, Dedication, and Success. If you can dream it and believe it, then you can achieve it.
Adorian: I want to demolish this non-sense confusion about the volume we should put in our workouts each time. I know you train with very high reps and very little rest time, like me. Why do you think we both came to understand that this is the right way?
Will: LoL, Experience is a brutal teacher. We have learned that we are not machines. We can not perform the same or with high volume workouts each day. The body needs its rest, recuperation, time to grow, etc. So whenever I don’t have the strength or energy to put in that high volume workout, I have learned that I can still put in a short workout with high intensity and short rest periods. These workouts keep me strong, fresh, it doesn’t tax my CNS and it allows my body time to recover so that I can hit a high volume workout on a better day when I have more energy and am better rested.
Adorian: What are the goals that you want to achieve with calisthenics?
Will: My goals are to continue doing what I am doing and to just keep motivating and inspiring the masses. One long term goal of mine it to complete Bar-Barians requirements which is currently: 5 muscle ups, 50 p-bar dips, 30 pull ups, 60 pushups and 5 muscle ups within 5 minutes. I can do currently do all the sets, but not in such a fast time and so I am working on putting the puzzle together by completing 2 parts with no rest periods, then 3, then 4 and finally all 5 under 5 minutes. I record and post all my workouts on my Facebook and a lot on YouTube.
Adorian: What makes the difference between an intermediate and advanced Calisthenics athlete in your opinion?
Will: I would say an intermediate is one who practices the sport and has at least 1 year of consistent work experience. I consider an advanced athlete as one who has over 1 year of consistent work experience and continues to advance and push forward no matter what. Rain, sleet or snow, the advanced athlete is out there grinding hard and making consistent progress.
Adorian: I saw that a lot of people don’t know when it’s time to progress and how to do it. I always tell them to work their basics and eventually they will feel stronger and at a higher level. What would you tell them about this subject?
Will: I agree with you. If you work on the basics and create a sets/reps schedule, you will know when to add more sets and reps and when to do less. The body doesn’t lie. Listen to it carefully.
Adorian: How did you develop the ability for doing advanced moves such as human flags, levers, muscle ups etc.?
Will: I practiced each move one at a time, very often and watched many YouTube videos and tutorials and that’s how I learned them.
Adorian: Tell me why it so important to work the basic exercises?
Will: Calisthenics experience has proven that working the basics such as Pull-ups, Chin-ups, Pushups, and Dips build the most muscle and strength in the shortest amount of time and prepares the body for the more advanced moves with fewer chances of injury. There are too many new athletes getting into Freestyle calisthenics with very little basics experience and they injure themselves very easily and often because their muscles and tendons are not that strong yet.
Adorian: I would like to know some things about your nutrition.
Will: I eat as fresh as possible and whole foods (No enriched foods or boxed products or canned products) I only eat frozen meats and chicken sometimes. The fresh kind is always better. I eat whole wheat bread with peanut butter (ingredients are only peanuts and salt) with honey each day. I eat brown rice every day, chicken, eggs, mixed nuts, a lot of salmon, ground turkey or beef once a week, I eat 2 or 3 fruits daily and I mix in some veggies in my rice as well. I often use canola oil and extra virgin olive oil as it contains good essential omega 3 which is anti-inflammatory. I eat about every 3 hours until bedtime. I eat any time of day or night if I am hungry. I drink a cup or two of water each hour until 2 hours before I go to bed. I also drink 1 cup or two of black coffee with a little sugar each day (no creamers or milk). I avoid snack foods with high added sugars and artificial ingredients. I don’t drink any juices, milk or sodas. Do I eat any junk foods or sweets? Some weekends I do. I eat a cup or a pint of Haagen Dazzs ice cream, Dark Chocolates, and Pizza. That’s just once a weekend, but I get back on track quickly on my whole foods diet because I feel better, Look better and perform better that way.
Adorian: Tell me what your biggest strength point is?
Will: Consistency, Discipline, and Dedication are my biggest strong points.
Adorian: Do you have a message for youngsters?
Will: Yes. Stay in school, don’t succumb to peer pressure. Listen to your parent’s advice. They know more than you think they know. We have been there already. Stay healthy, don’t do drugs or smoke or drink too much if you do. Keep your dreams alive and work hard towards them because only you can make them come true. You can be anything you want to be. Be flexible. You have options, choose wisely. Just stay consistent and be patient.
Adorian: Do you have a message for those your age?
Will: Yes. Stay grinding if you are. You are Awesome and Amazing!! Look at you!! If you are just starting out… Welcome!! A great journey awaits you. Grind hard and stay consistent. We are here to support you and watch you grow and see your dreams come alive.
Adorian: What message do you have for me and for Old School Calisthenic?
Will: You are Amazing my Calisthenics brother! Keep doing what you are doing. I love your adherence to the Fundamental principles. The world needs to know that contrary to popular belief, One can build a great physique by using your own bodyweight as resistance.
Adorian: Thanks so much, Will! I will continue my journey until the day I die!
Adorian: Do you think that calisthenics is a sport that needs to grow in this world?
Will: Absolutely and it already is! 🙂
Adorian: If you have some final thoughts tell us about them!
Will: I just want to say Thank you for this interview and Thank you to everyone out there that is keeping the sport alive and motivating me as well. You may not realize it, but there is always someone watching you and being inspired by what you do. We all help each other grow. Stay positive always and enjoy the journey. One love, Willski Barpower!
I can’t stop reading all these answers that Will de Leon gave me. This guy is amazing and I have learned so much from this interview. I hope this will help you too!
I noticed that I have so much things in common with the fit man over 40, and I am so happy about this. I wish you all the best in the world!