The Freshen Up, Episode 1: Superhuman
PRESENTED BY COTTON
He who is cool, calm and confident tends to win the day. But occasionally, attaining said trifecta of Cs requires a lifestyle tweak or two — not a full overhaul, mind you, just a nudge in the proper direction. Preferably from someone with some nudging experience.
With that in mind we present “Freshen Up,” a series in partnership with Cotton in which we recruit battle-tested coaches to help regular, real-world fellas revamp certain aspects of their lives. In today’s episode, Superhuman, a young father veering dangerously into dad-bod territory receives a course correction from a former D1 football player and celebrity trainer. Lessons applicable to more of us than we’d like to admit, no doubt.
LESSON O: GEAR
When a dude like Devonric Johnson drops knowledge on changing up your life, you listen: born in prison to a drug-addicted mother, D (as he’s known by friends) endured one of the hardest childhoods imaginable before discovering football and turning his life around to focus on athletics and academics. Smash cut to: D1 football at SMU and a post-graduation journey to Los Angeles, where his competitive background has made him one of Hollywood’s most sought-after trainers and his acting career is taking off. Starting his own non-profit to help at-risk youth around America? The icing on the motivational cake. Long story short, he’s the kind of captain you want steering your sea change.
When it comes to grabbing gear for a workout (or cool down), it’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of performance fabrics and fitness gimcrackery. But no need — classic cotton is cool, breathable, and most importantly, doesn’t retain odor after a wash like many synthetics do. Long story short: no more stinky gym clothes. Add the solid throwback vibes and the fact that it’s durable enough to beat the bejeezus out of with near impunity, and you’ve got yourself a go-to iron-pumpin’ staple. Below, some of our faves for both in and out of the gym.
While he doesn’t technically have a name for it, we dubbed Devonric’s workout the “D10.” That’s 10 high-intensity exercises performed in sequence, each modifiable to meet your desired difficulty level, three sets of 10 reps each. When executed correctly, D says it should take you less than an hour, and that if you do it three times per week, results will start to be readily apparent “way faster than you’d think.” Below, his tips on form to be mindful of, as well as those modifications we mentioned earlier. And no shame in making it easier at first — it’s about doing things right and being consistent before you level up.
- Form: Keep your knees in line with your toes and your back straight.
- Easy Modification: No weights, focus purely on the motion.
- Difficult Modification: Add a jump at the top of your squat.
- Form: Keep your elbows in, lower your body all the way to the ground, raise your arms, then push back up.
- Easy Modification: On your knees.
- Difficult Modification: Push-up claps at the top of the motion.
Form: Focus on pulling from your abs, touch toes to ensure a full motion each time.
Easy Modification: Elevate your feet slightly with knees bent.
- Difficult Modification: Use a light medicine ball.
4. KETTLEBELL SWING
- Form: Only swing the kettlebell chest high, focus on squeezing your glutes at the top of each swing.
- Easy Modification: Start without the kettlebell, focusing purely on the motion.
- Difficult Modification: Kettlebell “swing jacks” (essentially a swing/jumping jack combo)
5. PLANK ROW
- Form: Keep your body square to the ground, no rolling to either side.
- Easy Modification: On your knees.
- Difficult Modification: Stack your feet, alternating at 5 reps each.
6. LEG RAISES
- Form: Keep your hips on the ground, focus on keeping legs straight and making it to 90 degrees.
- Easy Modification: One leg at a time, alternating at 5 reps each.
- Difficult Modification: Add a crunch at the top of the motion.
9. SHOULDER PRESS
- Form: Keep your arms in line with your ears, look straight forward throughout the move.
- Easy Modification: Start with super light weights and a slight squat motion to propel everything upward.
- Difficult Modification: Pike press.
8. KETTLEBELL DEADLIFT
- Form: Keep your back straight and hinge from the hips.
- Easy Modification: Start with hip hinge toe touches and work your way up to weights.
- Difficult Modification: Single leg (Ed note: this is a very advanced move and not for rookies).
- Form: Focus on fully extending your arms and legs and keeping your weight on your belly button — inhale up, exhale as you slowly lower back down.
- Easy Modification: Just legs.
- Difficult Modification: Hold at the top of the motion, 5-7 seconds.
- Form: Focus on proper pushup position and not letting your hips droop as you jump your feet back.
- Easy Modification: One leg at a time, jumping jack at the top of the motion.
- Difficult Modification: Add a push-up and/or “sky jack” to the motion
- Form: Feet planted firmly, weight back, stay loose.
- Easy Modification: Go until you gas out.
- Difficult Modification: Go until you gas out. Wait 30 seconds. Do it again. Repeat until you literally collapse.
You dressed the body, you worked out the body, now a bit more on what to put in the body — for man cannot subsist on post-workout smoothies alone. And according to Devonric, eating right doesn’t have to mean eating bland. Below, his recipe for a supremely tasty protein-packed frittata that’ll have you wondering aloud, “Why on earth haven’t I been doing this all along?”
Shredded Chicken and Sweet Potato Frittata
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 12 oz lean shredded chicken (cooked)
- 2 sweet potatoes, roasted and diced small
- 12 egg whites
- 1 chopped tomato
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat a 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and shredded chicken and cook for 1 minute.
2. Add the sweet potatoes, tomato and spinach, stir and cook for 5-6 more minutes. The remaining olive oil should keep your mix from sticking to the pan.
3. Add your egg whites to the skillet slowly, making sure they completely cover the chicken and veggie mixture. Season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium, cover the skillet and cook until the egg whites are set.
4. Slide frittata onto a cutting board, cut into slices and enjoy.
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