Stan Efferding continues to give back in retirement and still possesses impressive power at 55. In a recent The Menace Podcast with Dennis James, Efferding discussed a number of topics including the Vertical Diet he created, glycogen storage, his injuries, and the current Men’s Open landscape in the IFBB Pro League.
As a bodybuilder, Efferding competed during the mid-2000s, making a name for himself with a conditioned lower body and eye-catching bicep peaks. In the realm of powerlifting, Efferding excelled and is still widely regarded today for his uncanny strength.
One of Efferding’s most significant career highlights came in 2010 when he earned first place as the Mr. Olympia Worlds Strongest Pro Bodybuilder. He managed to complete a 1,428-pound push/pull total by benching 628 pounds and deadlifting 800 pounds. This achievement surpassed the previous record holder (Johnnie Jackson) by almost 100 pounds, which set a new standard at the time for the world’s strongest bodybuilder.
Efferding created a nutritional system he calls ‘The Vertical Diet.’ It’s designed to be a simple and sensible way of living for those who demand a high amount of calories daily. In his latest venture, Stan elaborated on this diet but also discussed the direction of the Men’s Open and what struggles he’s had to deal with since stepping away from life as a competitor.
Stan Efferding Explains The Vertical Diet, Glycogen Storage, Reveals the Greatest Lifts of His Career
Efferding described his Vertical Diet as a practice that takes several wellness factors into account such as sleep, hydration, nutrition, training, blood testing, blood pressure, and blood sugar. It’s not just a food-based plan but rather geared toward overall health.
“It’s a brand that I started [Vertical diet, it’s not just a diet. It’s everything that I want my clients to do. You guys know when you get a client, a lot of the things you ask them to do are the same, sleep, hydration, nutrition, training, blood testing, blood pressure, blood sugar, all the health things that you want to control.”
“I compiled everything that I thought would be important; the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. We pay a lot of attention to what might be considered small details,” said Efferding. “The vertical diet is really just that..”
Next, Efferding talked about the differences in training results when someone exercises with most of their glycogen depleted versus half.
“Both of the studies that determine how much glycogen you use would grind up the entire muscle in these studies to see how much glycogen was depleted. But apparently, the glycogen stored in different departments of the muscle. It’s using, primarily, at least first, out of the sarcoplasmic reticulum. That’s what triggers the muscle contraction. You didn’t have to deplete all your glycogen to see a decline in your performance,” argues Efferding.
Sarcev agrees that athletes don’t need to be full of glycogen during a workout, “You can drive a car with a half a tank of gas, right?”
“You can drive the car with a half a gas tank right? You don’t need a full one. It’s biology right? Glycogen from different compartments, you still deplete sarcoplasmic and you still affect your performance and you affect your pump,” said Milos Sarcev.
Looking back on his achievements, Stan can confidently say he was a better powerlifter than a bodybuilder. He listed some of his all-time best lifts.
“First of all, Ronnie is the GOAT, he’s got how many Mr. O rings, I’ve got zero. But I was strong. I was a better powerlifter than a bodybuilder, for sure. I did set multiple all time world records in powerlifting. My best total was 2,303 pounds raw. I squatted 865, benched 606, deadlifted 837 in competition. That was always my bag.”
Before he talked about training with Flex Wheeler, Efferding revealed that he’s been able to slowly rehabilitate his body after years of lifting heavy.
“After I stopped competing when I was 45 in powerlifting, I had accumulated quite a bit of injuries, or I would say just chronic pain. I really believed that it was going to be permanent. It was more arthritic in nature. I thought it was the cost of putting my body through everything I did,” said Efferding.
“I decided to change the way I trained, started getting a little smarter about it. For instance, I started moving those joints more.”
Efferding, Dennis James Talk About Hunter Labrada, and Flex Wheeler Pee Bottle Story
After seeing Hunter Labrada‘s physique at the 2023 Tampa Pro, Dennis James predicted that he would finish in the top five at this year’s Olympia.
“Hunter Labrada continues to improve every year. I think this was the best Hunter that I’ve ever seen. I haven’t seen him better than this. I’m putting Hunter right now into the top five at the Olympia,” said Dennis James.
“He improved so much. Yeah, he got good placings when he didn’t even look half as good as this,” said Chris Cormier.
Like Nick Walker, Hunter pays attention to everything all year not just when the contest prep starts, all year. This dude is in shape all year. He does not go off,” said James.
Efferding believes there are fewer talents in the Open because of the years it takes to acquire enough muscle mass. He argued that athletes from other disciplines can become a Classic Physique champion sooner than if they competed in the Open.
“To be 250, 260+ pounds on stage as a heavyweight in the IFBB… that is a lifetime undertaking. You’re either extremely genetically gifted and hard working and are able to achieve that in maybe 10 years. But you could become a Classic Pro if you’re gifted, if you’re a high school lacrosse athlete in a matter of four years,” says Efferding.
Then, Efferding reminisced about training with Flex Wheeler years ago. Wheeler told Efferding that he needed to drink two gallons of water daily. Efferding, who suffers from sleep apnea, kept having to get up to use the restroom in the middle of the night. To remedy the inconvenience, Wheeler told him to start urinating into a giant kitchen trash can.
“I’ll tell you a Flex Wheeler story while we’re on this topic. When I was training with Flex back in 2008 and 2009, I flew down to San Jose and I lived there for four months. I trained with him every day twice a day – I stayed in one of those hotels with a kitchen right across from the 24 Hour Fitness there next to the airport in San Jose.”
“Flex, he was huge on water. He wanted me to drink two gallons a day. I never drank that much water previously or purposely and today I recommend a little less water and mixing it with sodium and glucose for better absorption. I was peeing all the time. So I would drink two gallons of water a day with Flex. So I was having to get up two or three times a night to go pee, and I had my CPAP, the whole thing was burdensome after a while.
Flex told me, ‘Just get one of those rubber-made kitchen garbage cans, fill it up, pee in it, go back to bed so you don’t have to.’ So I did, and as the story goes, we had housekeeping at the hotel and one morning I forgot to empty it. The poor housekeeper had to come in and find that next to my bed,” said Stan Efferding.
Efferding’s longevity is one of his greatest assets since stepping away from sanctioned competitions. With strength levels still through the roof, Efferding recently recorded a ‘speed pull’ deadlift amounting to 725 pounds.
Having staked his claim in multiple sports, Efferding continues to serve as a beacon of knowledge for the fitness community. Whether it’s methods for weight loss, muscle gain, or both at the same time, he has the answers.
At 55 years old, Stan Efferding is an inspiration whose strength uplifts others even in retirement. He will always hold a special place in his heart for bodybuilding but admits powerlifting brought the best out of him.