These full-body exercises are unusual, exhausting, and
very effective. Christopher Cuomo, an anchor with
ABC News 20/20, builds hard muscle the hard way
BY CHRISTOPHER CUOMO • PHOTOGRAPHS BY THOMAS PRIOR
“DRIVE! DRIVE! DRIVE!” ALL OF A SUDDEN I’M BACK IN GRADE SCHOOL IN QUEENS, SWEATING THROUGH
my shoulder pads, straining with every muscle, desperate to push this weighted sled just one more
foot. “Brace with your arms, hold with your core, and drive with your legs.” But it’s not Coach
Moran barking instructions; it’s trainer Joe Dowdell, C.S. C. S. And it’s not football practice but a fat-loss workout at a high-end gym in Manhattan. My muscles are twitching now, just as they did
then, all in the name of peak performance. In fact, Peak Performance is the name of Dowdell’s
gym, where he combines the latest research-based techniques with modified strongman movements to sculpt and shred some of the most valuable human real estate around. Entertainers like
50 Cent rub sweaty shoulders with athletes like NBA star Roy Hibbert and MMA bruiser Vitor
Ribeiro, and screen stars like Gerard Butler, Anne Hathaway, and Claire Danes.
Dowdell throws around big phrases like “sarcoplasmic reticulum” (which, despite the provocative
name, has something to do with calcium ions), but what he actually does with his clients is easy
enough to explain: full-body exercises, movements in different directions and planes, and challeng-
ing loads borne in multiple-exercise circuits. After the sled pushes, for instance, he has me do
rope pulls, sandbag carries, slosh-pipe front squats, medicine ball throws, and battling-rope waves.
It’s all stuff you and I have been reading about in Men’s Health for the past few years. But it wasn’t
until I tried moves in sequence that I found
what could be the perfect marriage of macho
and metabolic training.