Raffael Oliveira is a fitness model, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, and student of Exercise Science. Based in Miami, Oliveira runs a YouTube channel in which he stresses the importance of goal-setting, consistency, and a deep level of introspection that fuels his love for the art of bodybuilding. As a Personal Trainer, he coaches his clients on how to approach their fitness goals with enthusiasm, rigor, and internal harmony that inspires them to function in-line with their highest selves both mentally and physically.
Q: Thanks for answering a few questions with us Raffael! Could you share a bit about yourself? What inspired you to dive into your passion for bodybuilding?
A: My pleasure! Well, I was involved in sports from about the age of 10. I took up basketball and devoted myself to learning and playing the game all the way through High School. Once it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be playing any further on a competitive level, I needed some physical practice that would fill the void that basketball left. I was brought into the gym for a workout by a childhood friend and frankly, it was love at first curl. I became obsessed and determined to improve my physical appearance and gain strength. I learned that there was a direct correlation between my efforts in the gym and the results I started to see, and it became a very positive addiction which fuels me to this day. I’m enamored by the sculpting aspect of bodybuilding, the intrinsic drive which can take you as far as you can will yourself, and the chemical high released after a great workout. Just as a sculptor begins with a vision of what he wants his masterpiece to look like, and then chisels away tirelessly until his sculpture matches his vision, I see training in the same light. I had a vision for where I wanted to take my physique, and utilized dumbbells, barbells, and cables as my tools to get me there.
Q: Outside of the physical components of training, do you also stress equal importance on strengthening the mind as well? If so, in what ways?
A: I find the strengthening of the mind is a natural byproduct of training in an intense and progressive manner. It’s not easy to employ the discipline and consistency necessary to completely transform the body. This takes years, and carries with it inevitable plateaus, points where motivation may lack, and knowledge gaps needed to be filled. One who perseveres through the years gains a deeper understanding of themselves, and learns to delay instant gratification for the attainment of a worthy goal. That in itself is a huge component of mental strength. The first few reps in every set are easy to get through. The ones which actually grow you are the last few, the ones which are excruciatingly painful, and signal to your mind that you’re crazy to keep going. Extending your pain threshold advances you in more ways than just physical.
Q: Many people may find it difficult to initially stick with their fitness goals. What are the ways that you set goals for yourself, and how do you stay inspired to go above and beyond?
A: When it comes to exercise, goal setting should be incremental and realistic. Adding 2.5 pounds to your bench press every week may seem insignificant. However, in the course of a year, this steady progress leads to monumental change, and the overload created on your muscles will undoubtedly transform your physique. People give up on their fitness goals because they are often unrealistic, and modeled after those whose entire life is organized around their training. Small goals which are attained on a weekly and monthly basis build confidence and momentum, which are the perfect ingredients for success. What inspires me to go above and beyond is to lead by example for my clients.I have no right to preach these principles if I don’t practice them to the highest level that I can. Secondly, I hate the feeling of leaving a workout knowing that I could have given more. It truly bothers me, and can affect the rest of my day. I try to leave no stone unturned, and that gives me peace of mind.
Q: What are the ways that you avoid burnout with your regime and career? Do you have any go-tos for striking an internal balance of peace?
A: I feel as though it’s really important to listen to the body. There are times when I feel overtrained and that a recovery period is in order. In this case, I’ll either go through an easier version of my workouts, do some stretching, or just take a few days off all together. It takes some time to learn the language of your body, but it’s important to listen when it speaks to you. Optimizing lifestyle factors such as sleep and nutrition are crucial components in recovery and avoiding burnout. I find mediation helps me attain a good inner balance, and put things into perspective.
Q: Finally, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to begin tackling their fitness goals?
A: I would say to them to just start! You won’t know all the intricacies and methods in the beginning, and that’s okay. What is important is that you establish your “why”. Why are you pursuing this fitness goal? The answer must come from within. It can’t be centered around impressing others, getting revenge, or any other external factors, as these won’t be strong enough to keep you going when things get tough. You won’t always feel motivated, and that’s okay. Motivation will come and go. What you need is to learn discipline. Promising yourself you’re going to do something and following through with it every day, no matter what. Discipline and consistency aren’t sexy terms, but they are the keys to achieving any goal you set out to achieve.