Q&A With Houston-Based Trainer and OCR athlete CJ Wagner
By: Mark Barroso, NSCA-CPT, Spartan SGX
CJ Wagner is a NASM-certified personal trainer based in Houston, TX by way of Hershey, PA. Wagner has written several workouts for Barrosofit and rubs elbows with high-profile trainers such as Bobby Maximus. Wagner is also a former powerlifter and currently competes in obstacle course racing (OCR). Last, CJ was recently featured on the Spartan Underground Podcast, where he provided his recap of the 2017 Houston Sprint and Hurricane Heat. Check out what the OCR athlete, trainer and fitness writer says about obstacle training, his worst on-course experience and more.
Q&A With CJ Wagner, NASM-CPT
1. How did you get started with personal training?
When I was in school, I would go to the gym a lot and the guys in the dorm would want to come with me and do the workouts I was doing. After a a year or so, I thought I should make a career out of this and get my certification. I got certified in 2011, just a few months after I graduated college.
I graduated from Liberty University in 2011 with a degree in Sport Management. I can’t imagine myself at a desk job. I can’t be on a computer for more than 10 minutes without going crazy.
2. What is your athletic background?
I wrestled, played football, and powerlifted throughout high school. Our powerlifting team came in second in states all three years I was on the team.
3. What are some of your most notable PRs?
I haven’t maxed out in five years but my heaviest deadlift is 450 pounds and now I’m closer to 500 pounds. The last time I maxed out on bench press I did 315 pounds and now that’s my 5RM. My squat personal record is 430 pound. Squatting is something you have to stick with to get those PR numbers. In my training, I don’t go that heavy all the time.
4. When was your first obstacle course race?
My first obstacle course event was in 2014 and it was a Tough Mudder. A radio show had an e-mail promotion going and they liked my e-mail and gave me a free Tough Mudder. After that, I signed up for a Spartan Race Sprint, Super and Beast for the next year. I completed my first trifecta in my first year of doing Spartan Races.
5. How many OCRs have you done total and what keeps bringing you back?
I’ve done nine Spartan Races, most recently the Houston Sprint. I did the Hurricane Heat in Houston too. I’ve ran the Dallas, TX Spartan Race Beast twice. OCR is something different. You’re trying to help other people whereas in a regular road race, people put their headphones in and just zone out. You’re not just testing your running skills at an OCR, you’re testing your upper body skills too.
6. How do you train for the obstacle course races?
For shorter races, the most I’ll run is two miles. For the Beasts, I do run. A month out, every weekend, I’ll run anywhere from 12-15 miles. I do a lot of work with the Air Assault bike and Ski Erg and I’ll interchange between those and the lifts. Here’s the workout I did last Saturday:
5 Deadlifts at 335 pounds
15 calories of Air Assault Bike
For the Super and Beast, I’ll go running on Saturdays instead of doing those type of mixed strength and cardio workouts.
7. What has been one of the most challenging experiences you’ve had on a course?
During my first Spartan Super, one of my friends started cramping up with four miles left to go. His quads, hamstrings, calves and hips—you name it it was cramping. He actually had lie down in the back of his car and his wife drove him back to Houston. At one point on the course, I was actually carrying him. I was happy that he was able to finish. That definitely sticks out in my head.
8. What’s your next OCR?
Austin, TX Spartan Race. I’m also going to do the Hawaii Trifecta and the Dallas, TX Spartan Race Beast.
9. Who are some of your favorite clients to train?
I love to see my clients’ self-confidence rise. A lot times I get clients and their kind of “blah” with their goals such as “losing five pounds” or “getting stronger.” As I train them more, they like it and they create new goals and strive further.
10. What do you like about writing for Barrosofit?
I like writing workouts because I enjoy trying to convince people that the things we do in the gym transfer outside out of the gym, whether that’s OCR, yard work, pretty much anything in life.