One on One with Jimmy Smith

Passion, thirst for knowledge, determination, experienced are all words that come to mind when the name Jimmy Smith is mentioned. He is one of the latest strength coaches ready to make his mark in an industry that is saturated with training and dietary information. He’s here to set the record straight.

Wannabebig: Who is Jimmy Smith and what does he do?

Jimmy Smith:
I’m a performance enhancement coach who brings the results that his clients want and need. I work hard and am always increasing my knowledge. I’m not a bodybuilding coach, a powerlifter, an Olympic lifter and I’m not a strength coach who uses an athletic mind-set to train his physique clients. I use all the tools in my toolbox to produce body enhancement results.

So how many years have you been in the industry for?

Jimmy Smith: At the ancient age of 24, I’ve been in the industry for seven years. I’ve been fortunate to work with various types of clients, whom have all helped me to formulate my theories today. I’ve consulted and trained US national teams, collegiate and high school athletes, fitness competitors, the individual who just wants to look good naked, and in rehab settings with patients who have chronic pain and post-surgical therapy needs. I’ve worked at cancer fitness centers as well as sports medicine and human movement clinics.

Wannabebig: Pretty impressive for someone your age. What exactly got you started in this industry?

Jimmy Smith: Being an athlete who wanted to know the “why” instead of the “how.” I reached a high level of competition being a college basketball player and that competitive spirit kindled the fire for my career. I was looking to get the edge with my training every step of the way and that brought me to learn more and more about the physiology and function of the body. I didn’t like just reading or hearing “how” to get stronger or faster; I wanted to know the “why.” The more and more I learned and applied my knowledge to my teammates, and myself the more my passion for the industry grew. At the same time, I remember seeing people in college who just weren’t having fun or enjoying it because they hated their body image. I wanted to get into the industry to help those people. There’s so much misinformation out there it’s scary!

Wannabebig: Coming from an athletic background do you currently compete in any sports?

Jimmy Smith:
Aside from the foul-feast that is Men’s league basketball, no I do not. I consider my own training my competition; it’s my challenge on an everyday basis.

Who in this industry has influenced the way you go about training your clients/athletes?

Jimmy Smith: Talk about a loaded question! There are so many people within the industry that have influenced me in some way or another that I don’t want to not mention anyone. I swipe ideas from everyone then tweak it in my own way. Chad Waterbury really opens my eyes to thinking “outside the box”. Most of my “oh” moments come from Alwyn Cosgrove and Mike Boyle. I speak with Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey, Tony Gentilcore, Cassandra Forsythe, AJ Roberts, and Mike Roussell on an almost everyday basis. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Charles Poliquin and the impact he has had on the industry. It’s so hard to single people out since I spend a portion of my day everyday emailing colleagues and discussing concepts.

Wannabebig: Top 4 exercises everybody should have in their exercise line up and why?

Jimmy Smith:

1) Deadlift

It’s about as essential of an exercise as there is. We are recruiting a large number of muscles and burning a massive amount of calories. You will be hard pressed to find a better exercise in the gym period. The majority of readers here are training to improve their physique and nothing will hammer the calves, hamstrings, glutes and entire back as effective. When you alter rest periods, it will also serve as a fat igniter. Not to mention that it will be building many of the synergist muscles involved in some of the more popular anterior exercises like chest and shoulder presses.

It can also serve as a way to train the lower body in spite of low back pain. The deadlift has long been painted as a horrible exercise for your low back. It’s about how you do the exercise, not the exercise itself. There are many low back cases where the client shouldn’t load their spine with squat variations but can be perfectly fine when deadlifting. Plus, they look real cool when you do them in a commercial gym with anything over 300 pounds.

2) Chin ups

Just like the deadlift, chin-ups serve multi-purposes. They are great for building a bricklike back and are the best biceps builder hands down, which should please a lot of people. Again, by building the upper back we will see an immediate increase in our mirror muscle size and strength. Chin-ups can be rehabilitative as well. Providing that performing them does not cause pain, they can be great for depressing an elevated scapula.

Why don’t we see more of them in the gym? They are hard, that’s it. People gravitate towards the easiest exercises possible. That’s not to say that squats or deadlifts are easy, it’s just that people prefer to do them because they are easier than a chin-up. People don’t have any type of training history with vertical pulling unless it is from pull downs, which are a completely different exercise so don’t even get me started. The minute they decide to try a chin-up, they are either incredibly sore the next day and back off or they just can’t perform one and feel dumb. Walk around the gym next time and watch the guy who does them. He’ll come down about two inches, that’s the gyms version of chin-ups.

3) Single leg squats

Call them Bulgarian, Split or Elevated but whatever you do, just do them. Most people only get unilateral leg work from lunges so they develop a single-side strength deficit. This will usually present itself as the tighter one the two legs takes more of the workload in squatting exercises. By performing single leg squats we can decrease this deficit since we will be able to handle relatively the same weight on one leg.

Single-leg squats act as way to increase frontal plane stability. People are going to be tight in their Quadratus Lumborum (QL) and Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL), which will shut off their Glutes Medius. The Glute Med is an essential muscle for balance, low back and ankle health. By performing one-leg stationary exercises like single-leg squats we force that Glute Med to fire in order for us to stabilize.

4) Glute Bridging

I can hear the groans and moans from here. “He’s another one of those rehab functional guys”. I am anything but; my goal is to deliver the fastest results in the shortest possible times for my clients. One of the “tricks” is by enhancing glute firing patterns. Not only can the Glute Max produce more force than any muscle in your body but also has numerous health and movement applications as well. We’re only going to focus on the physique producing effects. What’s the one complaint that most women (and some men) have when it comes to their rear end? Most complain that it is too saggy or not firm enough.

What do they do? Hammer out more lunges and squats. The glute still isn’t firing! By performing glute isolation movements we decrease the gluteal fold (that line on your butt) and increase our force during lower body movements.

Wannabebig: For anyone who wants to become bigger/stronger/faster/leaner, what’re your top 5 sources you recommend people should go out and purchase?

Jimmy Smith:

Precision Nutrition by Dr. John Berardi – You can’t out train bad nutrition and by following the advice here you won’t go wrong. It’s the first step.

Magnificent Mobility DVD by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson – People just aren’t warming up properly and are wrecking their efforts because of it!

Poliquin Principles by Charles Poliquin – It will serve as a great resource of people who just want to train themselves better.

The Super-Strength DVD by Joe Defranco – While I haven’t seen this yet, Joe’s results speak for themselves.

Anything by Jimmy Smith 🙂 I’ll be releasing my first book in the upcoming months. This one specifically details what’s wrong with baseball performance and conditioning and what should be done. This will really open some eyes. Watch out for it!

Wannabebig: Best piece of advice that has been given to you so far.

Jimmy Smith: I’ll stay with advice about the industry. It comes from Mike Robertson. Mike’s a good friend and has helped me out a lot especially when it comes to my desire to be recognized. I love the good aspects of the industry so I’m patiently waiting to “blow” and have my information everywhere. Mike hasn’t hit me with any quotes but he does a great job of telling me to wait and take my time.

Wannabebig: What don’t you like about this industry?

Jimmy Smith: I hate the lack of education and the desire to learn. They go hand in hand but what came first? The chicken or the egg? Trainers are quick to be labeled “dumb” by most of the people in the gym (where are these peoples results by the way?) and for the most part they deserve it. There are a lot of uneducated people in the gym and for the most part they are that way by design. Certifications are easy to come by today and people view training as something to do to make more money or an easy job. As someone who works hard in school and outside of school to advance myself, this pisses me off. What’s worse – when you see one of these people actual becoming financially successful.

It really is the desire to learn that annoys me more. I know plenty of good quality trainers who became certified and enjoy training people for a living. Why are they good? They take the time, whatever amount it is, to learn. Some don’t have the time to attend seminars or just don’t want to but they learn by asking questions from other trainers or reading with a critical eye. They are displaying the desire to learn to better themselves and their clients. That’s why I find it hard to believe that people who can’t train themselves effectively are actually good trainers. Now we have exceptions, I’m not saying that being ripped is all you need to be good. There are some great trainers regardless of body composition. I’ve found that the majority of good trainers I know effectively train themselves and look the part. I mean come on, if you’re a trainer and keeping wondering aloud as to why you can’t grow your arms on the same program that you have been on for four months then you shouldn’t be training people.

Another problem deals with the whole image of the industry. The general public treats trainers like they are their only client. Trainers don’t get the same respect as other health-care professional, regardless of their knowledge. Trainers have to give free assessments or free training sessions just to get in front of clients and people expect it. Ok sure, let me call a doctor and ask for a free assessment. I know that doctors and physical therapists need to meet degrees requirements but I know more than few trainers who are SMARTER than physical therapists or doctors. Like any other industry, there are good ones and bad ones. It’s frustrating to see how the public treats trainers. Is this because it isn’t a regulated industry? Probably. It’s something that won’t change unless the trainer is good and gets results. Then they are in the driver’s seat.

Fill in the blanks.

Unilateral exercises are _____________

… something people need to do more. You correct bilateral deficits and also help increase joint awareness. You incorporate more core function and raise the workload to the muscles being trained. More and more research is coming out that shows that unilateral exercises actually result in more muscle recruitment and strength gains than bilateral exercises. Food for thought.

Jimmy Smith is a _____________

… go-getter. A driven trainer who wants to learn everything he can every day to increase his training knowledge.

Don’t forget to _____________

… take your omega-3 fish oils. They do everything, get use to it and love them.

Training different parts of a muscle (i.e. the chest) _____________

… is not worth it unless you’re stepping on stage. There is research out there that shows it is possible. Different contractions (isometric, concentric, eccentric) will work different portions of the muscle. The problem is, unless you are stepping on stage why waste your time? The guy or girl who is trying to look good on the beach or the model that is trying to look good for a shoot doesn’t need to worry about how the distal part of the long head of their triceps looks. If I have limited time to train like most people or just need to add mass everywhere like most people then it’s a waste.

Wannabebig: Where can readers find out more about you or contact you?

Jimmy Smith: They can go to my website –

Written by Maki Riddington

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – One on One with Jimmy Smith discussion thread.