Shrugged Collective

Hustle, Loyalty, Respect with John Cena  —  Barbell Shrugged #309

John Cena is an American professional wrestler, philanthropist, movie star, and most importantly he loves to lift weights 😉 He is currently signed to WWE, where he is a free agent who appears for both the Raw and SmackDown brands. He also stars in the new comedy movie, Blockers, and has trained under Anders Varner as a member at his gym.  

Cena has been lifting weights since he was 12, was a football lineman in high school, studied Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology in college, has trained and worked with Mark Bell and his brothers at Gold’s Gym Venice, became a professional wrestler, opened his own gym called Hard Knocks, and created the One Ton Club.

Cena is a true hard worker, who is not afraid to fail, always up for the challenge, and knows how to enjoy the ride. In this episode, we learn about his athletic background, life journey, life philosophy, and much more. Enjoy!

Don’t be afraid to fail

John Cena is known as a wrestler and movie star, but Anders Varner knows him as someone who loves to lift weights. Cena started lifting weights when he was 12 to fend off bullies. He wanted to look big, strong, and intimidating, so people don’t pick on him.

Cena always had a reason to work out and loved it. He was very aspirational throughout life, but also very realistic about where he’s at. In high school, he played football, but was always almost good. He was good enough for D3 division, but not enough to make a living.

Later on, Cena earned his Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology degree from Springfield College, and started working at Gold’s Gym Venice with Mark Bell and his brothers. He became a jack of all trades, working at the supplement shop, the front desk, fixing equipment, and whatever they asked for.

Cena was fortunate to be surrounded by really influential people that helped him take his perspective forward. He was introduced into wrestling when Mark Bell and his brothers invited him to train with them for tryouts. Shortly after, he became one of the most influential professional wrestlers in the world.

“Just as a guy fortunate enough to get a lot of opportunities to fail, and everytime you fail, you learn a little bit from it and hopefully that gives you more opportunities. A guy who genuinely enjoys life that is how I see myself. Every single day, genuinely enjoying life.” — John Cena


  • Create opportunities to meet the right people — At 15 years old, Cena met David Knock, Founder of Hard Knocks and a bodybuilder and strongman, who trained Cena for 3.5 years. He taught him about training and dedication, and was like a father figure to him. Meeting the right people was what kept Cena’s passion going in life.
  • There is always more than one way — Cena attended Spring College, which was a very forward thinking school in terms of strength and conditioning. They had a great facility and their coaching was ahead of the curve. But since Cena has learned from David Knock there is only one way to do things, he didn’t follow the school programming as he didn’t want to lose his gains. Today, Cena regrets his narrow minded approach at the time, as he’s doing now what they taught him then.
  • The One Ton Club — A club at Cena’s gym of people who can lift a total of one ton or 2,000 lb. in 48 hours doing 6 lifts: squat, clean, jerk, snatch, deadlift and bench. Anders Varners made it to the one ton club! Cena created the One Ton Club as a way to make training more fun by gamifying it. If you made the One Ton Club, you get a special shirt, and your name will be on the door or wall.
  • You have to look failure right in the face — Cena took 4 years of Chinese lessons to be able to do a 3 min press conference in Chinese. He was failing for the first 3 years, but at the fourth year it started clicking. Cena enjoys taking on hard challenges as overcoming them is a huge reward. He makes sure he likes to do what he does to keep himself motivated: “You need to love it though because work is hard. It shakes you emotionally. It’s disappointing when you can’t hit that goal. When you miss, you feel bad, btu you have two choices: Put your head down or keep going.” — John Cena
  • Get interested in the why — Cena likes to ask and inquire about the things he does. He hires experts and follows their advice, but also tries to get the details of why they do it to get a better understanding. He doesn’t try to know everything about something, else little about a lot of things.
  • We get the opportunity to learn from anyone we meet — Once you are open minded to learn from anyone, you grow, and you grow fast. There’s always something to learn from anyone to make yourself more of a complete person. Even if you learned that someone is full of shit, you’ve learned something, you’ve learned how do detect bullshit. Most of the time though, there is a positive, informative lesson to learn from someone.

Connect with John Cena

Book: Hustle, Loyalty & Respect: The World of John Cena

Doug Larson Fitness

Doug’s new website is live! Check it out at DougLarsonFitness.com

The Bledsoe Show

The Bledsoe Show (Mike’s personal show) is back! Check out new episodes and the new website at TheBledsoeShow.com

Check out our FREE 50+ page OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING GUIDE! Includes: The Basics, Sample Programming, Links to Technique Videos, and more!


Train smart,

Mike, Doug and Anders

Mike Bledsoe


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