Little Richard Sandrak rose to fame in his childhood as a mini bodybuilder. Unsurprisingly, then, he came from a sporty background: his father Pavel was an award-winning martial artist, and his mother competed in aerobics.
Richard was born in the Ukraine in 1992. A couple of years later, though, the family upped sticks to Pennsylvania. And it was here that Pavel introduced his son to weightlifting – at the very tender age of two.
Realizing his son’s potential, Pavel shifted the family once again, this time to California. The reason? He hoped Richard would have a shot at the spotlight. In fact, the family even employed a trainer to coach their iron-pumping son.
Yes, Pavel worked Richard very hard; Richard practically spent his childhood at the gym. In fact, some reports stated that he completed an incredible 600 press-ups and 300 squats every single day.
So, Pavel pushed Richard hard and controlled his diet too. For instance, Pavel would not allow his son to eat anything unhealthy. Soon enough, then, Richard’s abs and biceps began to bulge.
Of course, it was his incredible physique and awesome strength that earned Richard the nickname “Little Hercules.” In fact, the papers later dubbed him the “strongest boy in the world” at just eight years old.
As a result, Richard was competing in nationwide weightlifting events, attending media photoshoots and promoting products. In short, he was becoming quite the star, with a string of TV and radio appearances behind him.
He even had a documentary filmed about him. Called The World’s Strongest Boy, it showcased his incredible strength. However, it also revealed that he had below 1 percent body fat – a potentially dangerous statistic.
Indeed, with such an intense routine for such a young boy, many worried about Richard’s health and criticized Pavel’s parenting. Realistically, how long could this way of life last?
For his part, Richard has always said that he was never pressurized into working out. However, his trainer at the time reportedly quit, calling Pavel’s pushy parenting “criminal.” So, all these years on, what does the young bodybuilder look like now?
Well, he certainly doesn’t lift weights anymore. In fact, he’s now a 24-year-old man with different passions in life. Yes, Richard’s a far cry from the ripped boy he was 16 years ago.
The turning point came for him as an 11-year-old boy. At that time, Pavel was sent to prison for domestic violence against his wife. In fact, it was Richard who called the police after his father broke his mom’s nose and wrist.
With his dad now out of the picture, Richard decided to give up bodybuilding. But what do you do next when you’ve had such an unusual childhood?
“I set myself on fire,” Richard revealed in a 2015 interview with Inside Edition. But before you think he was talking suicide, hold that thought. In fact, he set himself on fire around five times a day – as part of his stuntman job at Universal Studios.
Asked in the same interview if he was ashamed of his past, Richard said, “I’m very proud of my past. It’s not something I don’t want people to know, it’s just that I’m not going to be stuck living in it.”
Richard is now a six-foot-tall man who doesn’t have quite the same ripped physique he had as a child. That’s not to say he’s not in good shape; he’s still athletic and skateboards regularly to keep fit.
Richard said lifting weights became “boring,” and as he grew up he focused on the buzz of being a stuntman. So, at the time of the interview, he was hurling his burning body off high platforms into water with astonished crowds looking on.
However, Richard’s hopes for the future stretched further than being a stuntman. That’s because there was another career that he was keen to pursue, and it’s a far cry from his bodybuilding past.
Yes, Richard told Inside Edition that he’d like to be a quantum scientist, or perhaps “even an engineer for NASA.” Asked if this was likely, he said, “Absolutely, I see no reason why I can’t.”
Finally, it seemed that now all the criticism that tainted his childhood is behind him, Richard was living a more balanced and “normal” life. And let’s hope he fulfills his dreams of one day joining NASA too…
But while Richard may have left weight training in the past, plenty of people actually step up their workout plans as they get older. And when this New York businessman began taking on an intense fitness regime, his incredible transformation caught the attention of not only his friends and family, but also of the movie A-lister who had first inspired his reinvention.
It’s no secret that wrestler-turned-Hollywood icon The Rock is a poster child for working out. But there’s no black magic behind Dwayne Johnson’s regime and awesome physique. Anyone can pull it off – with the right know-how, self-discipline and basic fitness, that is. Just ask entrepreneur Mark Webster.
In this age of heightened awareness about how to look after ourselves and our bodies, people go to incredible lengths to maintain their fitness levels and get in shape. Indeed, whether it’s through an intense workout regime or the latest fad diet, there are many roads to the same hoped-for destination.
No matter what anyone tells you, though, there are really no shortcuts to feeling and looking your best. And while losing weight may be simple on paper – just consume fewer calories than you expend – toning and building muscle is an entirely different ball game. Bulking up successfully requires intense dedication, in fact – and that’s exactly what Mark Webster needed to emulate Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s workout regime.
Entrepreneur Webster is now 39 years old and resides in New York City with his wife and four-year-old daughter. He had sold his first venture, an experience booking service, to Groupon; his current business, however, involves creating voice applications to work with home assistants such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Clearly, then, Webster naturally possesses his fair share of passion and dedication. After all, getting a business off the ground is no mean feat. And he was also no stranger to the gym, either. Indeed, as Webster would tell website Business Insider, impending fatherhood had motivated him to go on to improve his physical fitness.
Two years of the same workout routine, though, left Webster understandably bored. And when the businessman found that he was lacking the motivation necessary to push himself, he realized he needed a new challenge. That, in turn, meant a new exercise regime, so he opted to turn to a man arguably representing the pinnacle of human fitness.
Yes, Webster looked to Dwayne Johnson for inspiration. After all, it’s not only massive muscles that the movie star boasts, but the strength and determination to maintain that incredible physique day after day. And not many of us have the willpower to wake up before dawn, hitting the gym before we’ve even had time to rub the sleep from our eyes.
Having been inspired by Johnson’s self-discipline, then, Webster began researching exactly what he needed to do to replicate the megastar’s success. Helpfully, the former wrestler had shared his diet and the basics of his workout routine with exercise website Muscle & Fitness. And when Webster paired that information with details garnered from Johnson’s prolific Instagram account, he had everything he needed for his new journey.
It was obvious from the off that Webster would need to be just as dedicated as Johnson in order to succeed. After all, his typical day would involve waking up at 5:00 a.m., hitting the gym six days a week – resting only on Sundays – and eating a whopping 5,000 calories a day. That’s a lot of time and effort to put in, but Webster was clearly confident he could do it. So, in February 2016 he gave it a go.
With his alarm set for 5:00 a.m., Webster was in the gym by 5:40 a.m., starting his day off with 50 minutes of cardiovascular exercises. Afterwards, he consumed his first of two breakfasts while still at the gym – a dish of cod, eggs and oatmeal. Then, it was up to an hour and a half training different muscle groups each day, before heading home for meal number two.
That refueling included more steamed cod, but this time with sweet potato and vegetables. Then, by 9:30 a.m., Webster was ready to head to work – despite already cramming in what seems like half a day for everyone else. He took further meals of cod, chicken, rice and vegetables with him to eat throughout his time on the job.
Webster’s fifth meal of the day finally offered some variety, however, consisting as it did of steak, baked potato and a spinach salad. But after arriving home for a family dinner, he was back on the fish. His seventh – and final – meal at 9:00 p.m. was an omelet with mushrooms, onions and peppers, washed down with a tablespoon of fish oil.
Then, before Webster turned in for the evening, he would down a protein drink. He aimed to be in bed by 10:00 p.m. each night, affording him seven hours of sleep. However, as is often the case when we try to regulate our sleeping pattern, he often overshot and ended up under the covers at around 10:30 p.m. instead.
All in all, then, it was quite the grueling regime. But Webster told Business Insider that the most difficult part wasn’t eating the meals or committing to the workout routine; instead, it was preparing all that food. Indeed, he had apparently had to set up an assembly line of plastic containers in order to prep his portions of fish, chicken and rice.
Unsurprisingly, all that food didn’t come cheap, either. And so while Johnson can afford to splash out regularly on a movie star’s salary, the rest of us would probably find it difficult to keep up. After all, it ended up costing Webster more than $1,200 on food for just himself over the course of the 30 days. “I eat two and a half pounds of cod daily and that costs $7 a pound,” he said at the time. “It adds up pretty quickly.”
Furthermore, while such an aggressive change in diet and exercise routine may seem like the kind of thing that could damage the body, it’s actually perfectly fine – at least, according to Dr. David Katz. Dr. Katz told Business Insider in 2016, “[That sort of regime is] intense — but that can be a good thing… If the calorie intake is high-quality fuel for high-level exertion, I don’t see a problem with it.”
Like the rest of us, though, Webster was probably interested to hear what Johnson himself had to say about the entrepreneur’s endeavors. And yes, the star did indeed weigh in on Webster’s undertaking via his Twitter account. At first, though, the one-time pro wrestler was skeptical, writing, “Uh oh. This kinda only works if you train 2xs a day, work 14hrs on set and are half Samoan/half Black. And cuss.”
But when it transpired that Webster had in fact managed to stick to the routine, Johnson seemed to be impressed. Indeed, the actor would go on to tweet, “Tip my hat to this guy.” And the Fast and Furious franchise star was particularly approving of Webster’s reasons for his workout. In short, the dad had explained to ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight website that he had intended to imitate Johnson’s work ethic rather than to acquire a similar physique.
In the months following his intense 30-day regime, however, Webster scaled things back slightly. Instead of modeling his routines on Johnson’s most rigorous workouts, he adopted another of the movie star’s slightly less strenuous routines. Nevertheless, it still involved five gym visits per week and five daily meals.
So, while Johnson’s typical training plan may appear daunting, it’s clear that it isn’t totally inimitable – just exhausting and expensive. After all, Webster managed to pull it off for a month – and the results of his incredible transformation speak for themselves.