In part two of our extensive interview with Silvio Simac, he goes into a lot more depth and detail, candidly talking about training, nutrition and more as we uncover what really makes him tick.
If you missed part one from yesterday you can read it here.
Before we get started, here’s a little warm-up video for you!
Moving onto the subject of training now, your densely muscular physique makes you easy to recognise in the movies you appear in, could you talk to us about your weight training background?
I took up weight training at the same time as martial arts, once again very much inspired by BruceLee. All my weight training is functional and synthesizes with the function of the body, as opposed to training a body part (as bodybuilders do, mainly for aesthetics). I train a body movement which will benefit my sport.
Any movement performed in any sport is a sequence of movements that will contribute to your technique. Most of the exercises that I’ll do will be of a compound nature using multiple muscle groups simultaneously. For example, when you throw a punch, you’ll be using so many different muscle groups, not just one in particular.
I may look like a bodybuilder because I’ve dedicated a lot of time to weight training (and this helps with my work in films and media) but I’m specifically more concerned about function of the muscle in the body, as a unit.
Early on in my competitive career, I realised there were five common factors, attributable to all sports, under the “S” factors: namely skill, speed, strength, stamina, suppleness and strategy.
Weight training came in handy for me as I’ve acquired a high level of strength, speed and suppleness because I’ve trained compound movements, my body has gained a lot more strength than I would have otherwise.
When I was a kid, I used to train on hand grips, and three years ago I attended the martial arts Expo in the UK and martial arts legend Joe Lewis (RIP) used to have this: ‘grip challenge’, he’d been running it for 40 years! Countless people from Ronnie Coleman to Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris to MMA fighters had tried their hand.
Joe asked me to have a go and I managed to get to 237.5 pounds of torque squeezing the handles together with no problem at all. There are only three men who have ever done it. He didn’t have the “grandmaster” level hand grip and when I asked why, he said only one man in the world has ever closed it! This showed me that my compound weight training was more important than just training body parts individually; I never actually train my forearms, I really think it’s all genetic with me because I hardly even train my arms, only once a month. Yet my arms are one of my biggest features. Anyway, check out the video!
What kind of workouts do you do when you’re hitting the weights and how much do you use for particular exercises?
Well, I make sure I change my routines every two weeks, it needs to be challenging so I work out at 85% of my maximum intensity. I do everything standing upright, if I use machines then I’m working in two dimensions, therefore I like to work out in three dimensions, standing upright. For step ups I’ll use 50kg, 25kg plates on each side and do 24 reps for 10 sets of those within a day, I clean and jerk,(100kg) do single-handed snatch (32kg each arm), and dumbbell burpees (26kg each arm).
The formula for power is mass times velocity over time. I can increase the intensity of my workouts either by doing it faster, resting less between each set, or lifting heavier. All three methods work. Look at training, the more effort you exert in a shorter space of time, the more you reap back in terms of benefits from your training.
I apply this kind of philosophy to everything, spirituality mixed with the science of training. These are things you can’t cheat they apply to everyone equally whether we like it or not! Most people are concerned about what they can “take” or “consume” but it’s about what you put in, what you give that counts. All power comes from the ground up, 32.7% of the power comes from the back leg, 48 .4% from the hip and only a minimal proportion from the arm. When I observe a fighter like Mike Tyson in particular, you can see exactly where he gets the power.
What are some of your favourite exercises, are there any specific training techniques that you find help you to achieve optimum results?
I’m a firm believer that if you do anything too often you’ll plateau and that exercise won’t work anymore. Same goes for the human body, you need to offer it different stimuli on a frequent basis in order for it to respond, challenge leads to change. So you need to challenge yourself with something new and different. In terms of growth, size and development I’ll be frank with you, if you don’t train legs, nothing’s going to happen at all, unless you’re a genetic freak and you have the disposition to grow anyhow!
Your legs are half of your body and it’s the big compound movements that will release your growth hormone up to five times more than normal after your workouts –you cannot achieve this by doing bicep curls. It’s not so much the body part you train but what happens to the chemicals and hormones in your body after the workout. People pay thousands and thousands of pounds to inject themselves with growth hormones. If you can do this naturally by increasing the intensity level of your workouts by training legs, you can achieve so much more.
So training legs is absolutely imperative. It’s like the foundation of a house or the roots of a tree, if it’s strong the house, for example, will stand for thousands of years, if it’s weak, it’s going to collapse. A boxer will say the same thing; the most important thing for them is their stance and legs, not the hands, only 12.4% of the power is generated by the hands. So as you can see, if you’re not training legs you’re really missing out, same goes for any sport actually, for gaining mass, for martial arts, it’s very important to train legs.
Bringing this all into the context of action, could you tell us what are some of the most daring stunts you’ve ever done for example?
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to was on a movie in India on a Bollywood film called “Knockout” starring Sanjay Dutt. I had a fight scene with him on a rooftop of a very tall building and I had to do a fall from 11 stories, (200 ft) that was SUCH a scary experience! It was fun to do but I asked the stunt team to attach a wire to me and to have an air bubble down below in case the wire broke. I did it in three takes but it was nerve wracking, luckily no injuries, I was buzzing for three days after that -it was like doing a bungee jump!
Also, In DOA, I had to get jerked back by wires and fall through a second storey window into a swimming pool below, it had to be done in one continuous motion, so it was quite scary. I was also ‘shot’ by Bob Hoskins, prior to which I was told to inspect the gun, ever since Brandon Lee died on the set of “The Crow”, we have to do that as a rule now, so that was a little unsettling!
What was your most serious injury and how did you work around it?
On Transporter 3, I had been kicking all day long; everything was fine until I did a kick near the end of the day. I tore my hamstring and was in excruciating pain. They offered to find me a stunt double, but I said I wanted to finish it myself. They gave me some extremely strong pain killers. It took me about a year to recover from that injury!
What kind of diet do you follow?
When it comes to my diet, I’ve got to be really careful about what I eat, I’m very selective and timing of it is also important. I’ve always been into nutrition from the beginning, even as a youngster I was very particular about what I ate. I start my breakfast with red meat, this is something I picked up from the great strength and conditioning coach Charles Poliquin. I’ve attended a few of his seminars and I’ve done his personal training fitness qualification.
When you look at nature, you see we’re all governed by the same rules, most animals that consume meat like lions and tigers, are very lean, muscular and strong and their activity consists of very short, sharp intense sprints. High intensity interval training has become very popular and most are moving away from low intensity, high duration to high intensity, low duration.
Let’s look a little deeper and observe nature: the faster an animal moves the shorter the lifespan. Look at the cheetah; it’s the fastest four-legged animal on the planet and only lives for fifteen years. A turtle however can live for two to three hundred years and moves very slowly.
In the context of training you need to be able to move fast. Look at the universe, it’s energy and energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be passed through one form to another. You must put effort in before you receive the fruit; you’ve got to study hard before you get the grades. I draw these kinds of observations because I’m very spiritual and meditate every day.
Actually Raj, it’s funny you should ask about nutrition, because I’ve been making these protein pies. I enjoying cooking, it’s one of my passions especially when entertaining guests. I like to cook a really good meal but when I’m cooking for myself all I’m thinking about is the nutritional value of that meal: what am I getting from it?
For example I’m making this tuna pie made of egg white (for protein), mustard seed (to boost my metabolism 20% for two-three hours), I use black pepper (to improve my digestive system) and chilli powder (which will help me burn more calories). I put flax seed which has omega 3, 6 and 9, curly kale leaves (giving iodine, folic acid and vitamin B12), and two tins of tuna so that’s 68g of protein and the egg whites have 220g of protein. I also add psyllium husk (which clears out the intestines). When I’m making this, I’m just thinking of the nutritional value. I bake that in the oven for forty-five minutes at gas mark 3 (160C). That will see me through the whole day.
I eat beef, chicken, fish, vegetables; I keep away from wheat (because of the gluten) as the human body doesn’t produce enough enzymes to digest wheat hence why the vast majority of people have wheat /gluten intolerance. I stay away from sugar and wheat, bread and pasta. I don’t smoke; I only drink occasionally (the least toxic ones, tequila, and red wine).
For vegetarians there are two excellent beans, quinoa and mung beans which have the eight essential amino acids which your body cannot reproduce, you need to get it from food itself. For vegetarians I would say make sure you consume these two beans because you’ll get the full spectrum of amino acids that make up the protein.
For energy, you can get your carbohydrates from rice and sweet potato which has the lowest glycemic index, and breaks down very slowly over time, giving a steady release of energy. Many have allergies or intolerance to dairy products, these may tend to slow down our metabolism, our thyroid production and can make us prone to putting on weight, feeling unwell and lethargic – it’s important to know what you’re putting in your mouth, and milk is for babies!
What do you like to take (and would recommend others) to recover from a particularly strenuous period of physical activity?
Consuming a good quality whey protein, which has the highest biological quality value after breast milk as it gets absorbed into the system quicker. Protein consists of amino acids which are the building blocks of all living tissue and organs on the planet so protein is very important in the repair of your skin, nails, hair, muscles and tendons.
My whole life has also been a quest for discovering the best alternatives to obtaining optimum health mainly through exercise and nutrition. Touch wood, I’ve had no illnesses; I’ve not been to the doctor’s for fifteen years, so I would say I’m in pretty good health.
What do you recommend for people that want to grow more lean muscle mass? Any secrets you can share?
For those who want to gain mass, it’s essential to do resistance training of your legs. Muscle tissue grows far more when you use more than just your own body weight, that’s not challenging enough for your body to actually grow much bigger, so you need to challenge your body, by incorporating compound movements in particular.
You should consume your whey protein within forty-five minutes of your workout as it will get into your muscle tissue within that ‘window of growth’ whereas eating chicken will take two to four hours to digest and get into your system. You also need to sleep well because that’s when you grow.
What supplements, if any, do you recommend?
I take whey protein, L Glutamine (which helps speeds up recovery) and branch chain amino acids. These are the most important ones that I take throughout the year.
What’s one geeky thing that people don’t really know about you?
I’m obsessed with watching documentaries on the Discovery Channel, Eden and H2, that’s all I ever watch! I don’t watch any sitcoms or any other programmes on TV, except that which is going to inform me with knowledge and open my eyes to the way the universe works. I watch a lot of stuff on quantum physics, that’s how I piece things together.
I have a library of about five hundred books and out of all of them probably two are fictional, the rest non-fiction. I like reading about travel, languages, weight training, martial arts and spirituality, I’m always seeking to understand how life works, why we’re here… I’m also into collecting swords, so whenever I go to a particular country I pick up a sword that’s representative or symbolic of that culture, whether Japanese, Chinese, Thai etc.
What kind of music do you like?
From R&B, hip-hop, rock, pop, trance, dance, I have a varied taste. I also have a large collection of meditation CD’s and MP3’s which are specifically for aiding neuroplasticity, designed to help re-wire your brain. The way we behave is being programmed by society, culture and our parents from the age of six and we pretty much run on this software throughout our life and our belief system is based on it.
One of the methods I use taps into the subconscious mind which I do every night. Operating at 634 hertz stimulates your subconscious mind . Your brain works on four different frequencies, alpha beta, theta and gamma. If you can stimulate your theta and beta frequency in meditation, you can rewire your belief system and this is something I’ve been following for the past 12-years.
If you could be a superhero, who would you be and what superpower would you most like to possess?
Very clear for me, Superman! I’ve been a big fan all my life, he’s got all the powers (like flying etc) anyone would need, he’s got everything. He also wears the initial “S” 😉
What do you like doing to relax, your hobbies?
I enjoy reading my books, holidays, watching documentaries, love my music, and enjoy cooking. I like to give my all to whatever I’m doing, it’s all or nothing with me. I try not to do too many things, yet I like to enjoy the entire spectrum of what life has to offer.
What would you consider a definite highpoint or moment in your career so far? What achievements are you proud of?
I really can’t pinpoint one there have been so many different events; from winning certain championships, meeting some exceptional people, doing TV shows, performing at the Royal Variety Performance for the Queen, performing at a martial arts event at Euro Disney with Chloe Bruce, to working with Scott Adkins, Jet Li, meeting Shannon Lee a combination of things I’ve done really.
Having gained the respect and appreciation of those who I’ve been inspired by and who I’ve looked up to as my idols for years, for example Arnold Schwarzenegger who I met at the International Sports Hall of Fame last year. There are also some very successful professionals who have gone far having accomplished a lot, more in a single life than many would in several lives put together, that means a lot to me.
Life is a journey, you climb one mountain and then you see things from a heightened perspective, then off you go to climb the next and higher one! I appreciate what I’ve done and am very grateful!
What in life do you really:
People with positive attitudes, people who like to encourage, inspire and motivate, people who like to discuss ideas and bring them forward, I like being creative.
Moaners and groaners, critical, and talk about others rather than being inventive and creating for themselves, I do believe we create our own reality, heaven or hell.
There are two types of people in this world: people who make things happen and people who watch things happen, which one do you want to be, do you want to write history or just read it?
What are you really keen to accomplish in the next 5 years?
Launching my own martial arts school franchise based on my own system. I’d like to open a few hundred schools with instructors teaching on my behalf, I’d like to continue the legacy of what I’ve acquired, experienced and learned over the years. I’ve been working on this for the past 15-years, and I have the support of some key organizations including the police, MP’s and ministers. I’ve visited Parliament a few times to get support for some of the projects I’m working on.
It’s slowly coming together and hopefully there will be some celebrity endorsement to back it. I really have to thank the people around me that believed in me during the hard times. The more you give, the more you get back. Share with people, you must give, the martial arts code of conduct is based on giving back to the world, to society, to people, give and share the knowledge you possess, keeping it to yourself is pointless.
What advice would you give to a beginner who is considering taking-up a martial art?
Here is something to consider, not just for martial arts, but for any endeavour. Follow your passion, be driven from within and let your passion drive you! I’ve trained for twelve years in the same gym I’m training in now, I’ve seen people come and go and I’m one of the only guys still there. If you do things from passion you’ll last forever, if you go through life driven by ego or vanity, it’s not going to last.
When it comes to my way of teaching, I don’t teach a particular system, it’s a mix of various disciplines. Even my uniforms are very simple and don’t indicate rank: in one of the last seminars I did, I wore a white belt and one of the students got confused asking me if I was a white belt. I said “I’m the white belt that never quits and is always learning”.
I say to people, acquiring a black belt merely means you’ve mastered your basic fundamental movements, it’s like a bird just leaving the nest, then you spread your wings, fly and start to explore the sky! A note on humility: always remember that the people you meet on your way up are the same ones you meet on your way down, so make sure you stay humble!
What special message would you like to share with Kung-fu Kingdom readers and your fans around the world?
I think it’s time for an awakening and realizing that each and every one of us is capable of so much more than we have been programmed to think that we are. Live life through love, not fear. The main two fundamental emotions we have are love which brings compassion, forgiveness, kindness and joy, and its polar opposite, fear, which brings jealousy, conflict, anger, resentment. Don’t be influenced by the news and politics, running around and forgetting who you are!
Which warrior-wisdom quote would you like to share with us?
A true warrior will never raise his sword in anger, but instead uses his sharpened mind to contribute to the welfare of society and spread good in the world. Also: “First dream your life then live your dream” -Picasso
If people would like to keep in touch and follow you, where’s the best place to go?
If interested, they can follow me on Twitter @Silviosimac 001
This has been an extraordinary interview Silvio, so many gems of insight you’ve kindly shared with us, thank you! We wish you all the very best in your upcoming movie and other significant projects.
Thank you Raj, it’s been an absolute pleasure!
The Gregory Mantell Show
Silvio Simac Compression Smash and Hook Kick
TV Show, Red or Black