“…it was something about the look on a client’s face when they do something they never thought they could that made me want to stick with it. I love seeing people become more comfortable with fitness and start exercising daily by choice.”
Big Back User Profile: Justin Sprague, Personal Trainer.
BBG: Hi Justin. First, can you tell us a little about yourself: A mini-bio, if you will.
JUSTIN: Hey folks. My name is Justin Sprague and I live in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I’m originally from Louisiana, but I’ve been in Hot Springs long enough to call it home. When I was in junior high, my older brother was into bodybuilding. I knew he liked it but I didn’t pay much attention until he started taking me with him to the gym.
I played sports for many years, and then working out, I never missed a late night gym session. Eventually, the over-exertion took its toll on me, so my senior year I dropped all sports just to lift weights. It had become my passion. A year out of high school I became a personal trainer. It seemed like a perfect fit. I’ve been training for a few years now.
BBG: Personal training requires a lot of confidence and maturity. So that’s pretty good right out of high school. How did you get into that? What do you like about it?
JUSTIN: In 2009, I worked at my local YMCA as a “fitness coach.” It was nice, but I didn’t get to work with people through an entire workout. I started watching the personal trainers there and decided to become one myself. The trainers were pretty helpful, putting up with all my questions and even letting me borrow a few study guides for the certification test. I’d study whenever I had free time at work. When I felt I was ready I took the test. Once I passed the test I gave my two-weeks and started training full-time at different gym.
BBG: Once you started training people, how did it live up to your expectations?
JUSTIN: I knew I loved to stay fit myself, but it was something about the look on a client’s face when they do something they never thought they could that made me want to stick with it. It could be anything from a new bench press max to losing five pounds. I love seeing people become more comfortable with fitness and start exercising daily by choice.
BBG: What makes for a really great client? Don’t name any names, but do you have a favorite client? Someone who’s just really gratifying to train and help?
JUSTIN: I’d say a great client is one that is driven and gives 100% every session. Many clients stay unsure of themselves and hold back. I have a few clients I’ll spend a little extra time with because they’ve reached excellent goals. I’ll train them a bit longer and will often workout with them. We’ll go more in depth with why we are doing certain exercises and why it’s in a certain order.
BBG: So let’s talk about you and Big Back Grips if we may. This is, after all, the User Profile section and one of the reasons we’re interviewing you is because we know you’re an avid Big Back Grips user. What did you use before BBGs and why did you settle on BBGs? How do they help your workout?
JUSTIN: I used gloves and straps off and on since I’ve started working out. I haven’t used either since I’ve had my Big Back Grips. I’m excited about my grips every workout; they really make all the difference for me. I use them for every major workout I do aside from legs. The grips are amazing for back, but they really give me and extra rep or two with shoulders, arms, and chest. It’s hard to pick which workout it helps me with the most. Once I realized I could do the same heavy weight shrugs with my BBGs that I could with my straps, I was sold. I hate the fumbling with straps and with the pressure straps put on my wrists – the BBGs became the perfect solution.
Of course the BBGs give me an excellent grip for lifting, but more importantly they stabilized my wrists. With my grips I can handle more weight. The beauty of working with free weights is the result you get from having to stabilize the weight you’re working with. The more weight you can stabilize and push, the more potential muscle growth. With my grips, I’ve been able to push more weight and get faster results.
BBG: How would you compare them to straps or gloves?
JUSTIN: When I first used them I thought, “Finally a comfortable glove-alternative that’s always going to fit.” I’ve also come to appreciate a gym bag that doesn’t reek of smelly gloves. I’ve always hated messing with lifting straps, they seem like they put too much strain on my wrists. My BBGs help me save energy and my wrists.
BBG: Can we ask where you work out?
JUSTIN: I work out at a gym called Hot Springs Sports Medicine here in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It’s where I started lifting so I’ve grown a little loyal.
BBG: Did you play or excel at any sports in school? Are you still active in any of them?
JUSTIN: I played soccer for about 8 years growing up. I still dribble the ball around and take practice shots every so often. I also ran track/cross country for about 5 years. I was always more of a sprinter. I don’t do anything anymore like I did with track, but I do sprint frequently for cardio. I also train young athletes for speed and footwork, all of which I can credit to the time I put in sports.
BBG: So what brought you into the world of lifting and when? What are your main goals in bodybuilding?
JUSTIN: I give my older brother credit for getting me started with the weights, but I didn’t really get serious with it until after high school. I have many goals set for bodybuilding. I have a few things I’d like to get published later on; I’d also like to pose for muscle magazines and maybe do some competitions. I’m absolutely sure I can hit every one of my goals; I just need catch a small break to help me seize the opportunity. Years from now I plan to have my own gym and/or training camp.
BBG: What are your biggest accomplishments in your workout history so far? : Titles, personal goals achieved, etc.
JUSTIN: The goal I’ll remember hitting the most is my 30-Day Ab Program. I’ve always cared for a strong core, but didn’t care for the trouble of keeping a six pack. So for proof for my clientele, I put together a 30-day program and ran it myself. It was a huge success! I finished lean and ripped.
A more recent goal I’m happy with is doing 225lb for 3 sets of 10 on military press (since I’m weighing at 160lb at the moment.)
BBG: What is your workout schedule like?
JUSTIN: Many people have their workout schedules in 7-day increments, usually having a certain workout on certain days. I noticed great results from breaking that habit. I’ll workout 3 or 4 days in a row, taking a day or two to rest when I feel the need. I suppose if you really break it down it’ll average to 5 to 6 days a week to lift and 1 to 2 days for recovery. I tend to hit one major muscle group a workout.
BBG: What about your diet?
JUSTIN: My diet at the moment could probably be a bit better. I’m trying to put mass on at the moment so I’m taking in a few extra calories from foods I’d normally avoid to keep a nice core. Even so, I don’t eat fast food; I eat very lean and pretty healthy. I take in mass amounts of clean carbs and lean protein. I try and squeeze vegetables in whenever I can since they seem to be the easiest to slack off on. My-30 day ab program was about 65% diet.
BBG: What are your favorite exercises or body parts to work?
JUSTIN: My favorite body part to hit, without a doubt, is shoulders. I would consider it my best body part. It’s the one area I’m able to hit very heavy weight for my bodyweight and sculpt the easiest. I shamefully have to say calves suffer more than anything on me. I try hard to get them looking better, but it’s been the hardest body part to make any progress with.
BBG: If someone were going to work out with you, what are they in for, what’s your workout style? What would you want from a partner?
JUSTIN: My workouts are very demanding physically and mentally. My workout partners and I constantly get in each other’s head to help hit the repetitions we set. I normally have about 20-30 sets per workout. I work at a fast pace with 1-2 minutes between sets with the heaviest weights I can control. My workout partner will have to keep up and know when to give negative repetitions and forced repetitions.
BBG: What’s your advice to people just starting out?
JUSTIN: Great results don’t come very quick. Stay in there and fight it out, and you’ll be able to hit whatever goal you can think to set.
BBG: Finally, can you give us your workout for just one body part: back or legs, shoulders, chest or arms, even abs. Just pick your favorites.
JUSTIN: It was a hard decision but I’ll give my shoulder workout:
Military Press: 1 set of 12 reps; 2 sets of 10 reps; 1 set of 8 reps; heavy as you can handle
Standing Front Dumbbell Raises (To be alternated with military press making 4 sets): 1 set of 10; 3 sets of 8
Cable Angled Raise (angle acts like lateral raise + front raise): 3 sets 10 reps; heavy as you can handle
Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 1 set of 12 reps, 2 sets of 10 reps; heavy as you can handle.
Leaning Lateral Raises: (lean at 45 degree angle to cancel any momentum) 3 sets 10 reps; Lighter weights
Dumbbell Shoulder Flies: 1 set of 15 reps, 3 sets of 12 reps; Mid-weight