Fitness Trainer Michael Giovanni Rivera on Bulking Up, Peaking, and Skipping Leg Day

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In the world of athlete trainers, Michael Giovanni Rivera is the juice before the squeeze and the extra ounce before the effort. He has worked with a variety of clients you’d likely recognize, including Tito Ortiz, Kenda Perez, Fabricio Werdum, The Game, and Ochocinco. He has been training celebrities and athletes at the peak of their careers for over a decade, and he does this because… Well, he simply likes the challenge. We figured this was the kind of guy who could tell us a thing or two about how to excel in our own fitness training regimen.

And what does he think about you skipping out on your leg day? Let’s find out:

Urbasm: What do you have going on this year Michael?

Fabricio Werdum, Rafael Cordiero (Fight Coach) & I

Fabricio Werdum, Rafael Cordiero (Fight Coach) & I

Michael Giovanni Rivera: This year is going to be a busy one. I have been training multiple MMA fighters that have title contentions, such as UFC fighter Fabricio Werdum who is fighting for the heavyweight title. Those are the clients that really keep me busy and keep me on my toes. You’ve got to be prepared and be innovative with them. They expect top-quality workouts and programs, as I do in their effort. I also have my usual clients that keep me busy year-round, not to mention the clients that come into town for only part of the year, including The Game, Travis Barker, and Ochocinco. I have also linked up and become a sponsored athlete with Nutrabolics Supplements, which I am super excited about. We should be doing tons of events and signings worldwide this year.

The Game, his brother Bwryd & I

The Game, his brother Bwryd & I

Travis Barker & I

Travis Barker & I

Urb: How is your training program more focused for the elite athlete than others that are available?

MGR: Well, training an athlete is more challenging and stressful than a normal client, but it’s what I love most. It allows me to put 100% of my knowledge and experience into it. It’s a daily test to put the proper workouts together and formulate a program based on their specific sport, and also their personal goals. Anything and everything with an athlete is specific to the sport and the position he or she plays, which is vastly different for everyone. The best thing to remember is they expect results; keep the workouts hard and interesting, and lastly is to stay injury-free.

Urb: You talk about peaking at the right time being important in your training regimen. We were curious as to what that means exactly?

Ochocinco & I

Ochocinco & I

MGR: Peaking at the right time is more for being in the best possible shape at a specific time for a specific event. It is generally only for an athlete. And how we do that is by having the proper periodization cycle in their training program, which means your program is structured based on the athlete’s needs and goals and according to how much time you have to do that. For example, MMA fighters, most are in great shape already but usually have a four-month notice before a fight. So, we formulate a training camp which is about 12 weeks long.

From there, we structure what basic areas we cover until the fight, and as time progresses we change from a strength/power phase to a functional phase, and then to a cardiovascular/muscular endurance phase. Usually if timed right, we peak at the end of the last phase. When you’ve been doing this as long as I have you know when your client is peaked. They are strong and have great stamina. It’s tough with a fighter though because you have many obstacles, including weight cuts, injuries, and two to three workouts a day—morning and night—making it easy to overtrain or develop malnutrition.

Urb: When should a guy be more focused on lifting heavy weight, and when should he spend more time with bodyweight/conditioning training?

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MGR: This all depends on his specific goals. Do you want size and strength or do you want to be conditioned and chiseled? Lifting weights should be in everyone’s program regardless of their goal. It’s a staple in fitness. It will help you gain size, strength, and can lean you out. It’s all about how you do it. As far as conditioning, you would use this for increasing your endurance and losing some body fat; but of course with a good healthy diet as well.

Urb: What is the best transformation story you’ve been a part of?

MGR: The best transformation story I have is from a lady I have trained for about two years. She has lost about 120lbs; has shrunk multiple dress sizes, added some muscle, and greatly improved her health. I am so proud of her daily hard work and dedication to improving her body, mind, and soul. Check out the amazing photos.

Transformation Photo Before & Current Progress

Transformation Photo Before & Current Progress

Urb: What do a lot of guys get wrong at the gym? In other words, what are some of the worst things that most guys are guilty of when it comes to their routine?

MGR: The worst thing I see is guys skip training legs and only concentrate on their upper body.

Urb: Oh, we knew that was coming.

MGR: Did you forget that legs are half your body! Another one is guys expecting results so quickly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect a chiseled muscular physique in a month. Expect it in years with proper training and nutrition.

Urb: Every elite athlete knows the pain of setbacks. What is your best advice for staying injury-free while working out at your max?

MGR: My best advice is to pay attention to your own body. You know your limits and pay attention to them. If you need a rest day—take it. If you don’t feel comfortable with certain movements, drills, or plays—lay off them. Lastly, take the precautions of taking care of yourself in the recovery aspect, such as proper nutrition, stretching, massages, chiropractor visits, doctor visits, blood work, and supplements. All will have an effect over time on your body and prevent any injuries.

Urb: ‘Bulking up‘ is a term we often hear among guys talking at the gym. What are a few tips you can offer to build muscle without gaining too much excess fat?

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MGR: When bulking up expect a lot of weight gain, not all will be muscle. It will be body fat and water retention as well. It is what it is. Sometimes you have to sacrifice to get size before you can diet to lean out. You can always try to eat a lot of calories with clean healthy food but that can be hard when healthy food isn’t as caloric as other foods. But this is your best bet to keep fatty weight gain from increasing. The downside is you won’t get as much muscle. You just have to decide which route is better for you.

Urb: Do you recommend any supplements, or do you think that an athlete can get almost everything he needs through a regular daily diet of natural food sources?

MGR: I believe that you need to depend on food to supply your energy. But there are a couple of supplements I recommend to add to your arsenal, including protein powder, pre-workout creatine amino acids, and of course multivitamins, fish oil, and vitamin c.

Urb: What are three things that every guy should know, according to Michael?


One, dress well. Two, be confident; and three, you only live once, so don’t take rejection to heart. If you work hard enough, and want to succeed—you will.

An athlete who is in peak condition is not looking to maintain what they have—they want to blast beyond where no other man or woman has ever been. If you’re ready to become better than you’ve ever been, you must first believe, and then you must be motivated enough to do something about it. And if you think you’re ready for Giovanni Training, then we invite you to get in contact with him below.

And now Michael and Jesse Jane will show us how it’s done:

Gio 3Michael Giovanni Rivera Bs, Ms, CsCs owns, an Elite Personal Training, and Strength & Conditioning Service in Orange County and Los Angeles County that provides knowledge and experience to get you real results. He has worked with many high-profile clients, such as professional and amateur athletes, celebrities, doctors, CEOs, realtors, etc. Over the years they have trusted him to give them direction in their personal health and well-being. His business has grown tremendously through providing real results and he can do the same for you.

Michael’s educational background and experience are of excellence; receiving his Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology Fitness and Masters of Science Degree in Kinesiology Sports Fitness at California State University Long Beach, as well as being Certified in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS). He has been training clients in Orange County and Los Angeles County for over ten years at private gyms, homes, at the beach, or wherever his clients enjoy. Giovanni Training specializes in anybody who wants to make a change in their life.

Find Michael on his websiteTwitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channel.

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About Dr. Eric J. Leech

Eric has written for over a decade. Then one day he created, a site for every guy.

About Dr. Eric J. Leech

Eric has written for over a decade. Then one day he created, a site for every guy.