Tom Vassillion
Tom Vassillion

School: University of New Hampshire; WSBE
Major: Business; Accounting
Hometown: Warner, NH
Fitness Goal: Continual Self Improvement

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  • Why did you start training and what motivates you?

    I started training in 2004 when I made the decision to change my unhealthy lifestyle.  I was very fortunate to have a friend who took me under his wing and gave me the tips and knowledge to set me on the right path.  I cleaned up my diet and started to see changes in the mirror daily.  Eventually the mirror started telling a different story.  I was no longer a fat kid but was now a 6’5” pencil.  Against everything I had previously practiced I started eating more and lifting heavy weights. Ever since then I have adapted my training and nutrition periodically to meet my goals.  My undying love for the fitness lifestyle is what motivates me every day.  I cannot imagine life without training.

  • What impact has training had on your college life?

    I directly link all my college success to my training.  The greatest thing about training is it teaches discipline, determination, and forges a hard work ethic.  Training required me to set a schedule that I followed religiously.  I was able to map out each day for optimal success.  I found efficiency in the timelines I set for myself.  As an example, if I had class until 5pm and had to lift at 8pm, I knew I had a 3-hour window to get a meal in and also crush some schoolwork.  There was no time for procrastination.  It was my regiment formed from my training that allowed me to get highest honors every semester.

  • How do you balance being a college student and meeting your fitness goals?

    There is not one universal method that will work for everyone.  This is something students will have to play around with themselves.  For me, my fitness goals were more a lifestyle than a hobby.  Making time to train and eat my proper meals is as natural as breathing.  I set schedules and timelines for everything I did in college.  I had blocks of time that I would specifically dedicate to certain tasks.  I also woke up every morning with a plan of action.  I knew by the time I had my shoes laced what I needed to do in order to succeed in my classes and in the gym.  With proper balance and coordination I did not have to sacrifice my studies for my training or vice versa.

  • Best place to eat around campus?

    The dining hall is king.  There are always many nutrient dense foods to choose from.  No matter what your goals are you can find something in the dining hall that meets your needs.  I was fortunate to have gone to the University of New Hampshire and eaten in their dining halls.  They treated us like royalty with the quality and abundance of options we had at our disposal.  My go-to meal was always the stir-fry station.  There I could get a custom omelet in the morning and chicken and rice cooked exactly how I needed it throughout the rest of the day.

  • Typical Workout Routine

    I have found that low volume high intensity training works well for my body.  The premise of this method is doing minimal sets but going to and past failure on nearly all of them.  I’ll use intensity methods such as drop sets, rest pauses, forced reps, static holds, and negatives to go past my comfort zone and into failure.  Bodybuilding fans will relate this method to six-time Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates.  I typically do 2-3 muscle groups and 4-5 exercises per muscle group each workout.  Here would be an example of a typical weekly split.

    Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps

    Day 2: Cardio, Abs, and Stretching

    Day 3: Back, Biceps, and Traps

    Day 4: Legs and Forearms

    Day 5: Off

    Day 6: Repeat

  • Training Philosophy

    I am a minimalist.  I believe in doing just enough to illicit growth and not overkill your system.  As a gross oversimplification, everyone reaches a point in their workout where they have maximized their gains.  Take for example training back.  Maybe you started with deadlifts, proceeded to dumbbell rows, and finished off with a few sets of pull-ups.  While another exercise wouldn’t kill you, the only outcome would be prolonging your recovery process.  Recovery is the most important thing when it comes to training.  Your muscles do not grow in the gym.  Yes they fill with blood giving you that pump we all chase, but that is temporary.  Your muscles grow outside of the gym when they are recovering from you tearing them down during your workout.  To reference another Mr. Olympia, Lee Haney famously said, “stimulate, don’t annihilate.”

    I also believe in doing the basics.  The basic movements have been tried and proven effective since the beginning of training.  By structuring your workouts around the basic movements, bench press, dips, deadlifts, rows, pull-ups, squats, and lunges, you will find the greatest return on your investment.

  • Typical Diet

    My diet is typically well balanced regarding the macros: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.  I have what I call my “macro equilibrium.”  What that means is having my calories comprised of 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 20% fats.  Depending on my goals I make changes from there.  As an example, if I wanted to trim up I may allocate 5% of my fat to protein.

    Currently I am doing a lot of chicken and turkey during the week and red meat during the weekend.  My favorite sources of carbohydrates are jasmine rice and rice cakes.  For fats I get a lot indirectly from my meats, but I do like to throw some natural peanut butter, almonds, olive oil, or coconut oil in there once and a while.

  • Favorite Supplements

    Like training, I am a minimalist when it comes to supplements.  The definition of supplement is, “something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.”  Supplements are used to “enhance” or “complete” your nutrition when “added” to your diet.  Food should always come first and supplements second to fill any gaps you may have.  I believe a good multi vitamin, caffeine, amino acids, creatine, and vitamin D are more than enough for most people.  Unfortunately a lot of supplement companies today are more focused on profits and less focused on quality.  That is great for the shareholders, but as a consumer it leaves you bitter.

  • Workout Playlist

    My workout playlist will include anything and everything that elicits an emotional reaction.  My mood is different for every workout, so I use Spotify to make sure I can always find something to give me that extra push.  One workout it may be Metallica and the next it may be Whitney Houston.  You never know.  Here are a few genres and songs that always help me with that extra rep.

    Rock

    Everlong – Foo Fighters
    Same Ol’ Situation – Motley Crue
    Dragula – Rob Zombie

    Hip-Hop

    Don’t Touch Me (Throw Da Water On ‘Em) – Busta Rhymes
    Otis – Jay Z
    B.O.B. – OutKast

    Country

    Beer for My Horses – Toby Keith
    Smoke a Little Smoke – Eric Church
    Dogwood – Whiskey Myers

  • Tips for other college students who want to meet their fitness goals?

    Set goals that you are truly passionate about and you will have no trouble finding time to achieve them.  Too often I hear of someone starting to work out because they want to make an ex jealous or because they want to silence a “hater.”  Reasons like this will only motivate you for so long before it fades.  You have to set goals that are important to you.  You have to be able to justify the time and sacrifices you make to reach your goals, otherwise you’ll never see them come true.

  • Training Schedule

    My training schedule is when ever that animal instinct kicks in and I need to let it all out in the gym.  Monday through Sunday I listen to my body and it dictates whether I will be training that day.  I like working out in the afternoon or late at night as a means of avoiding the rush hour crowds.