Dolph Ziggler has been a WWE mainstay over the past decade, known to fans for stealing the show with his awe-inspiring performances. On August 21, he faces WWE Champion Dean Ambrose for title at WWE’s SummerSlam. Ziggler, 36 (whose real name is Nick Nemeth), spoke to Men’s Journal about how he stays fit and trains for his performances. His secret? Empty-stomach cardio. Here’s what that’s all about and three more of his training secrets.
1. He swears by “empty-stomach cardio.”
Empty-stomach cardio is the idea that you can boost weight loss and get better gains at the gym by not eating before working out. “I wouldn’t advocate anything to anybody — everybody’s different. Some people can put on those toe shoes and think they’re having a better work out than those in tennis shoes. Everybody can advocate their own way of doing something,” Ziggler says. “[But for me,] I prefer not to eat at all, maybe a handful of berries or something, just to have something in my stomach. I don’t eat anything before, but I can still go kill it at the gym and be in and out in 45 minutes or an hour, even doing workouts in the sauna to get the blood and sweat flowing.” For Ziggler, working out on an empty stomach helps him amp up his training sessions and allows him to maintain focus at the gym. If you’re curious about trying, don’t eat for three to five hours before your workout, but still be sure to hydrate with plenty of water.
2. He takes no breaks.
“I don’t stop, I don’t take breaks. I do circuit training — different workouts without stopping. I like having that stamina, where I’ve never been too tired to put on a match or go above and beyond,” he says. “Afterwards I’ll go eat a huge meal. That’s my reward — It keeps me hungry mentally and physically, so I know If I can power through the last few minutes, I’ve got a big plate of food waiting for me when I’m done.”
3. He mixes his training up.
Ziggler is a fan of circuit training. “I hit an exercise — arms and legs, a set of curls, a set of tricep pushdowns, and then grab the bar and squat 40-20-30 and do it over again. I hit that a couple times through, then go in the sauna, I’ll do a couple calf raises, then hop on a treadmill at 15 — the highest incline it can have while maintaining a fast-paced walk,” he says. Every two minutes or so, he shocks his body by doing 30 seconds of an all-out sprint, repeating this for 15 to 20 minutes straight before hitting the sauna again. After that, he bangs out torso twists (like a lateral crunch), and ends with a final round of arms and legs strength building, more crunches, and a final trip to the sauna.
4. He adds weight when lifting to avoid plateaus.
“Every couple of months I’ll get stagnant,” he says. “So out of every three or four months, I’ll do a month [where I’m] lifting a little heavier with less reps. Mixing it up and shocking your body [is fun].”