Coaches Corner: Justin Harris Talks With IUMediaGroup.com

Bodybuilder | Guru | Muscle Mentor | Troponin Nutrition

Disclaimer:
In the article below, I will be presenting my opinions and do not–in any way, shape, or form–use, encourage or condone the use of any illegal or controlled substances. “Nothing contained herein is to be taken as medical advice. Prescription of any supplement, drug, or exercise routine should be done under the direction and care of a licensed physician. The writer is not a medical doctor and does not issue medical advice.”

Justin Harris IUMediaGroup Featured Image

Quick Stats

Age: 39
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 270

Tell us about yourself

My formal education is an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and a Masters in Physics. I’ve been a contest prep coach since 2004 at Troponin Nutrition. I also own Muscle Mentor with Brad Hull. As a competitor, I won the overall at the 2004 Capital City Classic and Mr. Michigan. I won the Super Heavyweight division at the 2006 Jr. USA’s and placed top ten in the 2007 USA’s. I won the 275lb class and best lifter at the 2007 and 2008 APF Michigan Powerlifting Championships, totaling “elite” both times.

I had always been passionate about strength training

Justin Harris IUMediaGroup

How did you get starting with bodybuilding?

I was a two time D3 All-American Football player at Alma College and was looking for a challenge when my playing career ended. I had always been passionate about strength training and turned that focus towards competitive bodybuilding

so much of what bodybuilders use and know isn’t really so novel from a science standpoint

Justin Harris Steve Kuclo IUMediaGroup

Do you feel years of personal application has helped you with being able to coach others?

I think it’s probably very difficult to understand the mental side of contest prep if you have never competed yourself, but the scientific aspect of contest prep is probably unrelated enough to personal application that a coach could apply the proper tools without having that personal
application aspect.

I don’t know how you could say it (social media) has ruined bodybuilding. It has changed it—but that doesn’t mean it’s ruined

Because of your education and background, your known to take a heavy applied science approach, at what point does that end and “bro-science” takes over?

“bro-science” never really takes over IMO, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t valid science coming out of the “trial-and-error” of competitive bodybuilding. The act of publishing peer-reviewed research and experiments is very time consuming and you can’t leave any room for
approximation or “guessing,” so much of what bodybuilders use and know isn’t really so novel from a science standpoint—it’s just that scientific articles have to produce results that are repeatable and explainable. Those in the scientific community are working hard to provide
research that validates the things they “expect” to be true—it’s just that the research has to back that up. They can’t just say it’s true because it worked on a guy they helped in some show somewhere.

“bro-science” never really takes over IMO, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t valid science coming out of the “trial-and-error” of competitive bodybuilding

What advice do you have for anyone getting into bodybuilding in 2018?

Decide whether you want to do bodybuilding as a hobby or as a career—because there are very different methods to either approach. There’s nothing wrong with doing it as a hobby—even with the goal of becoming a professional bodybuilder. All hobbies are expensive (try building
race cars or golfing), so there’s nothing wrong with spending a lot of money on a sport you love with little financial outcome. However, if your goal is to be a professional bodybuilder as a career, then you have to take a very different approach to the sport and treat it like a business from day one. This is where most people fail, and as a result, become disenfranchised with the sport as they reach the
higher levels. The days of signing a Weider contract after placing well in a show or earning an income while having someone ghostwrite your articles are long gone. You have to treat yourself as a business entity and build your physique with that in mind.

All hobbies are expensive (try building race cars or golfing), so there’s nothing wrong with spending a lot of money on a sport you love with little financial outcome.

Photo from @EliteFTS

With the numbers of bodybuilders competing at shows decreasing everywhere, do you connect that with the popularity of classic physique? If not, what is your opinion as to why the numbers are dwindling?

You sort of have to connect it with the popularity of classic physique because the total competitor numbers in shows are higher than it has ever been. The competitor volume is there—it’s just that guys aren’t focusing on pure bodybuilding. I don’t blame people for going that route.
It’s a “safer” approach for most people as far as health is concerned, and it’s more lucrative as well—it’s far easier to market yourself to the millions of people interested in looking “ripped” at the beach than it is to market to the few thousand who want to look like they’re too big to
walk.

I don’t blame people for going that route. It’s a “safer” approach

Are you available to coach anyone who wants to hire you? If not, what approach do you use to working with a new client?

Yes—I will work with anyone who’s interested in working hard. Some of my most rewarding clients over the years never stepped on a stage. Most of my clients are still competitors, but if someone is motivated to work hard and learn the science behind performance nutrition, I’m
more than happy to work with them.

Some of my most rewarding clients over the years never stepped on a stage

I’ve heard from local bodybuilders that social media has ruined bodybuilding? Has it? Or do you think its opened doors for people that in the past would never have a career in the sport if it were 1990?

I don’t know how you could say it has ruined bodybuilding. It has changed it—but that doesn’t mean it’s ruined. Anytime something is different than it was when you were young and impressionable seems like a negative…it’s just human nature. I think there’s far more interest in
weight training than there ever has been. There is more focus on strength and conditioning for athletes than ever—you’ll see high school sports programs with dedicated strength and conditioning coaches. The façade of the magazines has been lifted, that’s true. You don’t get to
rent a Lambo for a weekend to drive to the gym so that Flex magazine can shoot a magazine article and pretend that you’re rich and successful because you have big muscles—but I don’t know if that is ruining anything. The sport is different, definitely—but I don’t really see it as
overly negative. It is what it is—things change. It’s no different than people complaining about how the NBA sucks these days, or how football was better in the old days, or whatever.

if your goal is to be a professional bodybuilder as a career, then you have to take a very different approach to the sport and treat it like a business from day one

Justin Harris IUMediaGroup1

What do you recommend to someone wanting to increase their popularity in this new digital era?

Never work for free. Everything you do should be saved, posted, shared, whatever. People aren’t going to come and find you—or at least to the level that you’re going to make any kind of living from it. If all you care about is getting on stage and winning a show—then go into
hibernation mode and get it done. If you want to make money from your physique, then you have to put yourself out there. I’ve actually always been a little disappointed in how people can have that inner drive and determination to follow a bodybuilding diet, get to the gym for
double sessions of cardio, and train their ass off while low on energy—all through self-motivation…but then never seem to apply that same work ethic to the rest of their life.

The days of signing a Weider contract after placing well in a show or earning an income while having someone ghostwrite your articles are long gone

If there’s one misconception that people have about prep coaches or “gurus”, what would it be and what would you like to clarify to people?

I think one common misconception would be that they’re drug gurus or something. I don’t think that’s as big of a misconception as a lot of people believe though—or at least I’ve never really seen that from clients as far as them only wanting that from me. One thing I think people
do that only hurts themselves is coach hop—you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone at the top of their game who is known for jumping from coach to coach. You’ll find lots of guys not meeting their potential who’ve worked with 7 different coaches in 5 years or whatever….but you
won’t find someone winning top pro shows who’s done that. Find a coach you believe knows what they’re doing and let them learn your body (and you learn their coaching style). That is the quickest route to success.

you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone at the top of their game who is known for jumping from coach to coach

Justin Harris IUMediaGroup

Tell us about your hobbies outside of bodybuilding?

I enjoy coaching other sports as well. I coach youth softball and basketball and plan on continuing that. I work as an engineer and teach data analysis software as well. I enjoy mathematical modeling and analysis and get a nerd boner for computer programming and controls
development. I play the guitar and piano and am always going through some kind of obsessive phase with something new….it was physics for a while, it’s been more computer related lately, but I never seem to stick to one thing for very long before I’m obsessed with something else.

I enjoy mathematical modeling and analysis and get a nerd boner for computer programming

How can people find you?

You can sign up for coaching any time at Troponin Nutrition or email me through the contact us page. You can view hours and hours of free information at Muscle Mentor as well as sign up for our member’s section or purchase our anabolics course there as well.

Justin Harris Bodybuilder IUMediaGroup Juggernaut Labz

Favorite Quote?

Never really been a quote guy…..Jordan Peterson has some good ones on responsibility and why it’s the key to happiness.