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Method Man Shares The Workout He Used To Smash Insomnia
By Mens Health Staff | May 1, 2021
Cliff Smith grunts as he wraps his hands around the barbell, bends his knees and lowers his 190cm frame towards the floor. He tenses his entire body, exhales twice, and starts pulling 205kg upwards. His legs shake as he stands fully upright, and then he lowers the weight, breathes deeply and does it all over again. He does five reps, then drops the bar and smiles. “Ain’t even winded,” he says. “Holla at me.”
The five reps are a personal best for Smith (better known as Method Man), who loves starting his day by chasing PBs.
On this morning, he’s in a Staten Island gym pondering his next milestone birthday (he turns 50 in March) and crushing sets of deadlifts, pull-ups and barbell rows.
“I gotta get my roses now,” he says, “because I’m almost 50 fucking years old. Damn near 50 years old, bruh.”
The Grammy Award–winning rap veteran has lent his voice and creativity to a host of projects lately. He appeared on Starz’s drama Power Book II: Ghost; he voiced the character Ben Urich in Marvels, a narrative-fiction podcast; and he’s working on his next album, ‘Dirty P’, a collaboration with Mobb Deep’s Havoc.
His morning workout has readied him for all that – and it’s kept him from pre-dawn video-game marathons. In 2018, Smith says, he was battling insomnia, frequently waking at 2am and playing NBA2K.
Realising he was “just wasting time,” Smith searched for a more productive use of his early-morning hours.
“So at 4am, I find myself in the gym working out,” he says. “Two days turned into three days. Three days turned into five days, and I’ve been consistent ever since.” Bonus: His insomnia is gone, bruh.
Smith now weighs 99kg, 6kg less than he weighed when he first started training. Here’s the program: he hits legs Mondays, shoulders Tuesdays, back Wednesdays, chest Thursdays and arms Fridays. Weekends are free.
“He’s a beast,” says his trainer, Joey Crespo. “Our routine has only been heavy, heavy, all year round.”
At the moment, that means gritting out three sets of seated lat pulldowns, followed by a core exercise that has him on his knees, rolling a wheel forward, challenging his abs. He finishes the session by sitting on a bench with a harness connected to his forehead, a weight hanging in front of his chest.
He lowers his head to look at the ground, then flexes his neck muscles to raise his head and look straight ahead, an old-school neck exercise that few gym goers will do. Smith does it regularly.
“Regardless of how tired I get, no matter what the workout is, I at least will try it,” he says between deep breaths. “I’m not going to say no to anything.”
You may not have Method Man’s fancy neck-training gear or his deadlift weight. But if you have a resistance band, you can try his favourite at-home regimen
Do 25 -30 reps. Aim for 5 sets.
Stand on a resistance band, its ends held at your sides, your core tight. Curl up, squeezing your biceps; then lower. That’s 1 rep; do 15- 20. Do 5 sets.
Banded Shoulder Press
Stand on a resistance band, its ends held at your shoulders, your core tight. Tighten your shoulder blades and press the band overhead. Pause, then return to the start.
That’s 1 rep; do 15- 20. Do 5 sets.
1. By training heavy, Smith has attained significant myofibrillar hypertrophy – meaning hard, dense muscle mass.
2. At first, Smith didn’t enjoy deadlifts but he worked on the move anyway and can now do five reps at 205kg.
3. He also does long-forgotten movements like neck curls, which can help develop trap strength. His workouts typically last for nearly two hours.
All-time fitness idol?
Mr. Olympia Phil Heath, because he shouted me out on Instagram.
Favourite celeb on a fitness journey?
I respect any of them that do it. Right now the person that I’m really saluting for getting his ass in the gym is Snoop Dogg. I’m rooting for him.
Deadlift. Once I started doing those, everything else went up, from squats to bench. Definitely prefer dumbbells.
Least favourite exercise?
Lunges. I’m too fucking tall, for one, and I still have a problem with form, because I’m so focused on just getting those shits over with.
Favourite cheat meal?
I never get a cheat meal, but if I did, it would be pizza – New York pizza.
Current workout playlist?
Griselda Records. Griselda reminds me of ’90s hip-hop but with a modern feel.
Via Men’s Health
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