Welcome to the Huberman Lab guest series,
where I and an expert guest discuss science
and science-based tools for everyday life.
I’m Andrew Huberman,
and I’m a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology
at Stanford School of Medicine.
Today’s episode marks the fourth in the six episode series
on fitness, exercise, and performance.
And today’s episode is all about optimal fitness programming.
That is how to design a fitness and exercise program
that can achieve the goals that you want
for fitness and for sports performance.
Dr. Andy Galpin, great to be back.
In previous episodes,
you taught us about the various adaptations
that occur at the level of cells, at the level of organs,
indeed at the level of the entire body
that underlie things like improvements in strength
and speed, hypertrophy, aka muscle growth,
and the various forms of endurance.
And you laid out beautifully the various protocols
that one can do in order to achieve
each and every one of those adaptations.
Today, I’d love for you to teach us
how we can combine different protocols
to achieve multiple adaptations in parallel.
For instance, how to improve endurance and strength,
how to achieve some level of hypertrophy,
perhaps directed hypertrophy at specific muscle groups,
while also maintaining endurance
and perhaps improving speed, for instance.
And if you would, I’d love for you to tell us
how we can combine different protocols
and vary those across the week, across the month,
across the year, so that we can make regular progress.
And perhaps even you could give us a window
into the ways to make the fastest progress possible.
Yeah, I would love to do that.
You know, we’ve invested a lot of time
in the previous episodes covering background and concepts
and detail about the physiology
so you understood why you’re making the choices you’re making
and why other choices are less effective.
In this discussion, I would actually like to jump
maybe more directly to the answer
and kind of get right into the protocol.
So maybe a little bit less background.
If you’re interested in that stuff,
I suppose you’d have to go backwards a little bit
and watch some of those previous episodes.
But I would love to jump into just some samples,
some case studies, if you will,
and kind of walk through different protocols.
I know that over the course of my 11 years
as a college professor
and being in the public space a little bit,
probably the most numerous style of question I have gotten
is exactly that.
So I know the rep range for this,
or I know the style of training for that adaptation,
but how do I put them together?
And I would just like to spend our time today
going through those things.
And the reason I want to do it is this.
Some people listening at home surely just love exercise.
They’re already bought in
and they’re going to train no matter what.
And they’re interested in just actually being more effective.
And so the way that you structure
and put your plan together will in large part
determine getting more progress for less effort,
or actually being able to put the same amount of effort in
and getting results faster.
There’s also some folks probably listening who are like,
okay, I exercise, I do what I can.
I’m bought into the benefits.
So you’ve talked so elaborately
over the 100 plus episodes you’ve done
about the various benefits of exercise.
But you’re kind of doing it
because you know it’s important, but you’re not there.
So for those folks, it’s sort of like,
okay, how can we actually make this thing more effective?
So we can make sure you hit the things
you absolutely have to get
for the short and long-term benefits, right?
To make sure that you’re looking the way you want to look,
you’re performing physically the way you want to perform,
and then you can do that across your lifespan.
So how can we give you all some structure
to where, again, you don’t have to turn
into an absolute lover of physical fitness
and it doesn’t have to take over your life,
but you can still get more results
for your same time restrictions,
whether that be you have two days a week
or five days a week,
or only certain access to equipment or experience,
whatever the case may be,
how can we help those folks as well
put together a protocol that will get them closer
to their goals with less restrictions?
Fantastic, and I’m hoping that along the way,
you’ll also point us to how often
to take the fitness assessment
for each of the adaptations that you referred to
in a previous episode.
We will also link to that fitness assessment segment
in the show note captions for this episode,
because that fitness assessment for different adaptations,
I think, is a really powerful way for people to touch in
and see how much long endurance do they have?
How much anaerobic capacity do they have?
How much strength do they really have?
And then perhaps you’d also be willing to throw in
a couple of additional ways that we can assess
our level of fitness and progress
in this arc of a fitness program across the year.
Amazing, I can’t wait to do that.
I think it is also important before we jump in
to acknowledge a lot of folks may be thinking to themselves,
I don’t really necessarily need a plan.
Why do I have to do that?
I don’t have a certain goal I’m going after.
I’m not running a race anytime soon.
I’m not a competitive athlete.
I just, I go to the gym and I work out, and that’s great.
Well, I would like to try to convince you that
regardless of where you’re at,
having a plan will achieve those things
we just talked about,
which is more success in a shorter timeframe.
There’s actually a significant amount of research
to support this.
Those individuals who go on a specific training plan
compared to those who do not,
will receive better results, right?
Independent of the effectiveness of the program, right?
So we’ve talked in previous episodes
about tons of different styles and strategies.
And to reiterate,
it really doesn’t matter which one you pick.
The fact that you have a plan
is always more effective than not having a plan.
And so again,
even if you’re not planning on competing with something,
if you wanna shorten the amount of time you’re in the gym,
get more results from it,
I would strongly encourage to put something together.
The two largest reasons why people don’t get results
with their fitness training protocol
is number one, adherence,
and then number two, some sort of progressive overload.
Both of those two things are challenging to accomplish
without a plan, right?
So the reason people don’t go to the gym, one of them,
and one of the reasons why it takes them so long
is because they don’t walk in with a very specific plan.
It’s sort of like going to the grocery store
and figuring out what you’re going to buy
versus knowing exactly
what you’re gonna get in your shopping list,
grabbing those things and getting out.
You’ll notice your time in the grocery store
is half the length.
You’re more productive
and you didn’t waste money on extra things, okay?
So that alone will drive adherence
because you’re not going to think to yourself,
oh, that 90-minute workout I do is actually really just 60.
And so now the next time you go to train,
you’re like, man, I don’t have 90 minutes.
You realize it’s only 60 or 40 or 30 or 20,
whatever it needs to be.
So that alone will get you there.
The second part of that, which is overload,
it’s very difficult to understand and remember,
well, the last time I did lat raises,
I used, I think, five pounds
and then I think I did like 12.
Well, if you don’t have some sort of system of tracking,
and this can be as simple as a notebook,
just writing down what you did before
and doing a little bit more the next time,
that is going to almost guarantee you success.
So having some structure,
and this structure can be fairly loose,
we’re gonna talk about a bunch of different examples,
is something I strongly encourage everyone
to utilize for their exercise.
Before we begin, I’d like to emphasize
that this podcast is separate
from my teaching and research roles at Stanford.
It is also separate from Dr. Andy Galpin’s
teaching and research roles at Cal State Fullerton.
It is, however, part of our desire and effort
to bring zero cost to consumer information
about science and science-related tools
to the general public.
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The Huberman Lab podcast is proud to be partnering
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So what sorts of things should people be thinking about
when developing an overall fitness program?
A few minutes ago, we were talking about
how two of the major reasons people don’t get as much
out of their training programs as they would like
is because of, one, a lack of adherence,
and two, a lack of progressive overload.
So the solution to that is constructing a plan
that lives within your realistic limitations.
So I would like to walk you through my 10-step approach
to how I design training programs.
Now, before I do that, I think it is fair and important
for the audience to understand
that this is simply my approach.
I’ve been doing this a long time.
I played college football
and I wrote my own training programs back then.
I have and am still working with professional athletes
and PGA Tour and the NFL, the NBA, Major League Baseball,
as well as a ton of general population folks.
So this is a combination of the evidence-based
that we’ve been talking about in terms of best practices
for strength and conditioning,
as well as just my years of experience.
So there are many, many ways one could do this.
I’m not even suggesting this is the best.
This is simply how I do it.
This is exactly how I handle it
when a new individual comes to me
and how I teach my students.
So step number one is assessing properly
and identifying a training goal.
Now, that’s actually sort of funny
because we hear that a lot,
but a lot of people actually never take that step.
Not to call anybody in the room out.
What’s happening here is this morning, Andy, Dr. Galpin,
and I were training together
and he was providing amazing tips on form
and set rep cadence and this sort of thing.
And he said, so what’s your training goal
for the next 12 months?
And I paused and it turned into a very long pause.
Which is an easy, nice way of saying
he didn’t have an answer.
I didn’t have an answer.
Of course, I don’t just want to maintain
what I’ve developed in terms of strength
and hypertrophy and endurance,
but I don’t have a clear goal.
So I’m hoping that by the end of today’s discussion,
I will be on track to a clear set of goals to train for.
I’m not gonna bore you all here,
but really I can’t stress enough
how important that step really,
truly is to getting results.
The analogy we use here is,
if you left your house and you were attempting
to get to the grocery store and you just started driving,
and if you drove every possible route,
you would eventually get to a grocery store.
And so, yes, that can work.
A better approach is saying, here’s where I am,
there’s where I want to go,
what is the optimal route there?
And that’s really what you’re doing with goals.
So it is a boring step, it is not interesting to hear,
I don’t have any real hacks or tricks for you,
but it is step number one on purpose.
We have to know exactly where we’re going.
You can do this in two ways.
Way number one is to just pick something,
arbitrarily decide, I’m gonna run a 5K,
or I’ve done that before
and I want to improve it by 10 seconds.
I want to lose 10 pounds.
You can just pick one, that’s great.
Another way is to run through that fitness testing protocol
that we described a few episodes before.
And if you do that, you can see which of these areas
that maybe you have the largest lagging in,
or what is the most severe performance anchor
is how we refer to it.
And then choose that as your primary goal.
So either option, some people come into training programs
with a very clear goal in mind,
they want to add more muscle or whatever, whatever.
If you’re like, I don’t really know,
I just kind of work out,
then run the fitness testing protocol.
You’ll see what score is the lowest in,
and then you’ll maybe make that a priority
for the next, say, three months.
So the first step is to identify a specific
or set of specific training goals.
A really nice tool for helping you set a goal
is a system called SMART, right?
Now there’s a little bit of debate
on what those acronyms actually stand for,
but we’ll get close enough, right?
So SMART is often specific, measurable,
attainable, realistic, and timely.
So starting off with S, specific.
In general, the more specific your goal is,
the higher likelihood you will have at succeeding in that.
M, being measurable, means it needs to be something
that you can actually put a metric on.
So this can be objective or subjective,
but generally I like to have at least one objective measure.
So remembering objective is something
that is not based on feeling.
This could be something simple like your body weight.
It could be how much you can bench press,
what’s your one-mile time,
and whatever is most important to you.
It actually doesn’t have to be a fitness-related goal.
For example, if you’re using fitness
as a way to enhance your sleep,
the main metric you may be interested in
is the amount of hours slept.
It could be something like efficiency
or whatever is most interesting.
It could be work productivity.
It doesn’t really matter,
so it doesn’t have to actually be the fitness goal,
but what is the motivation of why you’re doing it?
So that’s specific, measurable.
Attainable or actionable, as is often described,
is something that is within your capability.
So attainable, a bad example of attainable
is something like, my goal is to win more games.
That may not be up to you.
The other team you’re playing, it could influence it,
the schedule, et cetera.
So attainable should be something
that is within your control.
Realistic or relevant to you
is something that is, again,
something realistic that you can achieve.
You wouldn’t wanna make a goal that is,
you wanna double your body mass.
This is not gonna happen.
So think about the constraints.
How old are you?
What’s your training experience?
How much time do you really have to invest in this?
And then pick something that is realistic,
and then honestly, my little twist here
is take that and minus 10%.
Because typically, when people put together
training programs, their goal tends to be quite lofty,
and they get some small percentage of the way in,
realize they’re never going to get there,
and then back off.
We actually, this sort of reminds me
of a classic deception study that we did
in my lab one time, where we took people,
and we had them do this maximal front raise,
basically, so you held a dumbbell out in front of you
for as long as you possibly could.
And the goal here was actually, it’s a deception study,
so we’re tricking them.
And so we said, okay, we wanna just get normative values
to see how long people can hold this front raise,
and I think we used something like 5% of their body weight.
And so they came in and they did it one time,
and we timed them.
They didn’t get to see the clock, they left.
And then we said, we gotta come back in, repeat it, right?
We gotta do a couple of tries here
to get a normal value in case it’s off or whatever.
Well, the participants were split up into four groups.
So group one actually was told that their time
was 15% lower than that they actually got.
Group two was 5% lower, group three was 5% higher,
and group four was 15% higher.
So the second time they came in to do it,
our graduate student, quote unquote, made a mistake
and left the timer in front of them.
So the first time, again, they did the exercise,
they’re just holding it, they don’t have any idea
how long they’re holding it.
The second time, they had a giant iPad set
like just a little bit off-centered,
or they can clearly see it,
so they watched the time go by.
And of course, what happened was,
those folks say who did one minute,
the very first time when they tested,
they came back in to do the second time,
and they’re holding it, and we told them
they actually got 45 seconds.
When in reality, they had done a minute.
So they’re holding it and holding it,
and they think they only did 45 seconds.
By the time they get to like second 40, 41, 42,
they get past 45, they almost all quit,
like 47, 48 seconds.
Because they wanted to beat their previous score,
but then were like, cool, I beat it,
and then they quit early.
So they were actually not yet to failure,
but they were just happy enough
to beat what they thought they’d done, and then they quit.
The other group on the inverse side,
again, say they got a minute,
we told them they got a minute and 15 seconds.
They got to like 45 seconds, 50 seconds,
and started realizing, oh man, I have 30 more seconds to go,
and they quit way early.
Because the carrot was way too far out.
They realized, I’m never gonna get there,
so I’m just gonna stop now.
Can you guess which group did the best on the post-test?
Ones that were just within about 5% of.
So they wanted to improve,
and so again, say they got a minute the first time.
We told them they got a minute five,
or sorry, they got a minute five the first time.
We told them they only got a minute.
They actually exceeded that greatly
because they wanted the PR.
So making sure that that goal is properly aligned,
it needs to be a little bit scary,
a little bit unrealistic.
Well, you’re gonna have to work for this.
If it’s too easy, you’ll quit.
You won’t feel like a challenge.
If it’s too hard though, you’ll quit early as well.
So you want to make sure it’s that reasonable balance
of like, ah, should I train today?
Or like, maybe I’ll just go through.
If I do that, I’m not gonna hit.
I gotta get after it.
But not like, oh my God, like, there’s just no chance here.
So you’re gonna walk away early.
That’s a fantastic study, I have to say.
It’s very simple.
I think it illustrates a number
of important psychological principles
about goal-setting, motivation, self-perception,
but also the dopamine system.
You know, the dopamine system
is this universal reward system
that meaning it doesn’t only work for food
or only work for fitness goals
or only work for academic goals or relationship goals.
It is the universal substrate for all of that.
And I actually think there’s some real gems of information
in the study design that you described.
So just cue that for maybe a potential collaboration
between our laboratories,
because I think it’s very important,
but it does cue up another question
relevant to fitness in particular,
which is what are your thoughts on intermediate goals?
So let’s say my goal is to drop two percentages,
2% of body fat from where I am now a year from now.
So roll into the next year from now
about 2% lower on body fat,
but maintain my lean body mass,
or maybe even increase it.
How should I assess progress?
You know, because the dopamine system loves a goal,
that it loves anticipation of a goal,
but it responds best to we sort of re-up,
if you will, our dopamine anytime we get a signal
that we are on the right track to that goal.
And that signal could be, okay, I did the workout.
I just trust that these workouts
are going to give me the result I want.
But of course, we know that when people get a glimmer
of the idea or some objective feedback
that they’re on the right path,
that dopamine system really fires and provides motivation
for continuing toward the ultimate goal.
And as we’ve talked about
in the strength, speed, and hypertrophy episode,
resistance training itself has this built into it
because of the infusion of blood into the muscles.
You actually get a little window
into what you might get in terms of an adaptation
simply by way of the so-called pump.
Whereas endurance type work generally doesn’t have that.
You don’t see yourself get better, drop back,
and then adapt and actually get better.
But that’s actually what you see with weight training.
So given all of that contour of the dopamine system,
what sorts of intermediate goals should I set for myself
or should somebody set for themselves?
And I realize it will probably depend on the ultimate goal,
but would you say check in on progress once every week,
every month, three months?
I don’t know if you can tell the look on my face.
I love this question and this topic.
I spend so much time on it
on my senior graduate level program design course.
I’ve been fortunate to work with a few athletes
where we’ve had multiple years.
And if you can really take the time to step back and go,
it’s not about optimizing for the next six weeks.
And in this case, it’s not the next fight.
It is the championship fight
that we need to get to in three years.
Or it is the Olympics, which are on a quad program.
You’re really optimizing for that four year.
If you can have that foresight and really think about that
and then work backwards,
you can see some pretty tremendous things.
The sort of saying that is like we tend to overestimate
what we can get done in a week
and underestimate what can happen in a year.
That can be extraordinarily powerful.
However, you have to have those metrics
called out ahead of time
because you will lose motivation in that short term
because you won’t see that result immediately.
But if you remember, I’m on a path to 4% or 2%
or whatever you need to be.
Therefore, I only need to be this far right now.
I need to be that far and then that far.
It’s actually quite clear.
And so what we would actually do in that scenario,
not to go like so off track here,
because I can really go on this stuff,
is let’s say it was the year recommendation.
You’re gonna actually need to go to the last part of SMART,
which is timely.
So part of setting this goal
is making sure you understand the time domain responsible.
And it’s actually quite great here
because not to go inception on us
where we’re like list within a list
and Rob kills us over here.
But number one of this program design thing
was assessing your goal.
Number two is identifying your defender.
What I mean by that is what is stopping you
from hitting that goal?
So you wanna lose 2% body fat in the next year.
What’s gonna stop us?
Once we can achieve that,
and we’ll go into more of that in a second,
then you just start walking that 2% backwards.
So you might have to go something like this.
Look, every time I start working out
really hard, I always get hurt.
So maybe instead of jumping really hard
into a high-intensity interval training program,
knowing we’re likely to hurt something
or get burnt out or quit
or whatever the defender is for you,
maybe we invest something right now,
which is maybe improving your flexibility
or working on movement technique,
whatever’s gonna stop you from getting hurt.
Or maybe we progress slower so we don’t get there.
That will allow us to do the work necessary
to hit that goal 12 months from now,
not two weeks from now, not two months from now.
Maybe that’s not the case.
Maybe you’re like, no, look, hey, I move well.
I feel like I’m in decent shape.
I’ve got enough muscle mass on me.
We’ve talked in previous episodes
why having insufficient muscle mass
is sometimes detrimental for fat loss.
So you checked all that boxes.
I don’t get hurt very often, right?
I got equipment around, no problem.
I’ve got the time in my schedule
and I have enough muscle, great.
Well, now we maybe just split it up and say,
look, we got 12 months, we got 2%.
It’s as simple as doing a half a percent
per quarter of the year.
And now all we’re looking at is that number, right?
I don’t have to necessarily get all these things done.
I can go quarter, half percent,
half percent, half percent, half percent.
You’re gonna get there, right?
The other scenario that I laid out a second ago,
it maybe needs to look like something like this.
Quarter one is gonna be 0%.
Yeah, that’s right.
You may not lose a pound for the next three months.
We don’t care.
That’s not the goal of these three months.
I know that’s the goal this year.
That’s our major macro cycle goal.
We’re going to get there,
but to get there most effectively,
we need to invest in, you know,
working more with your chiropractor
or whatever the thing is, right?
That will allow us to then go half a percent quarter two
when we can really start training,
but we’re gonna ramp into it.
Quarter three, we’re gonna go another half a percent.
And now we’re halfway there.
Quarter four, we’ve invested so much.
You’re ready to go.
We’re gonna go hard.
We’re gonna get that last 1%, that last quarter,
and we’re gonna get there and you won’t be hurt.
So that makes it very clear.
And I can also envision how the precise structure
of these intermediate goals would vary
depending on what sort of adaptation one is pursuing.
And I do remember from our previous episodes
that fat loss itself is not an adaptation.
It is a by-product of other adaptations.
I just want to make sure that you know
that I was paying attention.
It’s committed to memory.
Some goals such as fat loss are very quantifiable
and yet they might not be linear, right?
It’s hard to know, you know,
the assumption is if you ingest, you know,
X fewer calories than are required per day,
then you’ll lose X amount of weight,
some percentage from body fat.
I think that cues up the idea
that we need to build some flexibility
into our thinking about these intermediate goals
in order to just make sure that dopamine system
isn’t tethered to exact numbers, you know,
because after all a reduction in 2% body fat,
for instance, is really a desire to achieve
a different sort of overall body composition
I don’t know, by the way, that that’s my exact goal.
I think one of my goals is to be able to run a mile faster.
And I’m sort of haunted by this experience
of wanting to run a cross country in college
and trying to walk on.
We weren’t a division one school,
but the threshold for being considered for the team
was you had to run a sub 10 minute, two mile,
which turns out to be very, very fast.
That’s really hard.
I didn’t, I did not do that.
I didn’t even come close,
but, and I don’t think that I could reasonably do that now.
I’m not interested in committing
to the kind of training required.
The sacrifice isn’t meaningful enough for me.
Fair and honest.
But lowering one’s mile, time to run a mile by,
I don’t know, 10% seems like a reasonable goal
across six months.
So in the case of a goal like that,
clearly there are specific training programs,
but this raises the issue of
what if I have other goals as well?
And at what point do people having multiple goals
start to set up collisions between goals?
How do we know whether or not something is reasonable,
not just on its own,
but because of the other things
that one has structured into their program?
So being able to reduce a mile time by 10% in six months,
okay, maybe that’s doable.
Maybe it’s not.
You can tell me,
but also being able to double the amount
that they can do for a single repetition leg extension
for that matter.
At the same time,
that seems, those seem like incompatible goals.
So a couple of things.
the more specific and precise you can be with a single goal,
the faster you will get there, generally.
So in theory,
if you had one thing you wanted to achieve,
the best way to go about it is to focus on that.
Give it the most priority.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else
along the way.
You can, but you would want to focus on that.
The more additional goals you bring in,
the more distraction you’re creating for that primary goal.
Depending on what those goals are,
you can actually do them at the same time.
Some other combinations are less effective.
Think about it like this.
We went through those nine adaptations
and we went through them in a specific order on purpose.
The closer those adaptations are together in that list,
the more compatible they are to training each other.
The further away they become more challenging.
So just to give a few examples,
if you wanted to improve your speed and power,
you could basically train those simultaneously.
They would not interfere with each other at all.
In fact, since power is speed times force,
it would be complimentary.
If you just walk down the line from there to strength,
hey, same thing.
If you get faster, that’s gonna aid in strength
because force is mass times acceleration.
So if you improve acceleration,
you’re contributing to strength.
Same thing with power.
So speed, power, and strength
are generally very complimentary.
You can absolutely train all three of those goals
at the same time and have no issues.
Getting into hypertrophy.
Now we’ve got a little bit of distinction.
If you’re gonna train strength and hypertrophy,
as we talked about in that episode,
at the base, those are gonna be complimentary.
You add on some muscle, you’re gonna get stronger.
You start training for strength,
it’s probably gonna help you add on some muscle mass.
As you get to the end of that spectrum,
the overlap between the two starts to go away
such that if you truly wanted to maximize strength
above everything else,
if you continue to train for hypertrophy as well,
that’s going to take too many resources
out of your recovery bin,
and you won’t be able to do that.
The inverse would also be the same.
If you’re training to maximize strength,
you wouldn’t be able to put enough volume on
to get sufficient hypertrophy.
So if you wanted to then combine speed with hypertrophy,
you’re going farther away from each other,
which means it’s going to be more and more distraction.
So the hypertrophy training would cause a ton of fatigue.
You wouldn’t be able to go at max speed
for your speed or power strength.
So you’re gonna be compromising those results.
Now, speed training won’t compromise
your hypertrophy training because it’s non-fatiguing.
Right, and so boom,
here we have a little bit of an interference effect
one way, but probably not the other.
Let’s move down the spectrum one more time
and get into endurance.
We won’t go through all of these things,
but you’re getting the idea here.
Oh, a little bit of a high intensity intervals.
Now, would that compromise my speed, power, or strength?
Probably because there’s a little bit of residual fatigue.
If the volume was low enough, then you’d be fine.
All you’re worried about there is not necessarily
like some sort of cellular mechanism.
It’s just simple fatigue.
It is amount of energy expenditure
versus is that compromising my recovery to come back?
Would those first three or four of those,
speed, power, strength, interfere with your ability
to elevate your anaerobic capacity?
Probably not, almost surely.
In fact, if you look at any of the literature
on endurance training, you will see that speed,
power, and strength almost always improve endurance, right?
Endurance training added on top of strength
can be detrimental, can have a neutral effect,
but generally doesn’t help one get stronger
by adding additional conditioning, unless you’re so unfit,
you can’t get through the volume needed
in the strength training, right?
One more example here, so we don’t drag this out too far.
In the case of something like I wanna lose fat,
well, hey, we don’t have to worry about interference.
It doesn’t really matter.
If you’re fatigued for your hypertrophy session,
not a big deal.
We’re just trying to get some work done.
If your hypertrophy session fatigued you
from your conditioning, it’s cool
because you got the work done,
so you don’t have to worry about it so much.
So it really kind of depends on the actual goal.
And what you wanna pay attention to do is actually,
what are the chances of overlap,
which means like what are the adaptations
you get physiologically that cross over
from one to the other?
And then what are the ones
that are actually gonna start interfering?
In fact, in my class, I have this giant matrix chart
of interference effect going from adaptations
through a whole bunch of systems,
everything from like handling pH to lymphatic drainage
to bone mineral density, et cetera.
You can walk through these whole things and say,
which ones actually have a positive effect?
Which ones have a massive positive effect?
And then which ones actually
have a little bit of interference?
And perhaps if you guys are nice enough,
we could throw that into a newsletter or something,
some PDF or something.
I think that would be immensely valuable.
I think some of that more extensive information
when it’s laid out in grid form like that,
it’s really useful.
So we should do, well, now we’ve said it.
I didn’t say I would do it.
I said, perhaps.
I think it’s a great idea.
I think it’s a terrific idea.
The idea that items closer to each other on the list
of those nine different adaptations
are going to be easier to achieve in parallel
than items further apart makes perfect sense.
And what I heard was that there’s a few caveats
that might seem minor,
but they’re actually quite important,
such as anything that is relatively low intensity
and doesn’t impede recovery
can probably be included as a parallel goal.
So some speed work in conjunction
with some long duration cardio work, for instance,
even though we’re talking about number two on that list
and number nine on that list.
In that case, the long duration endurance,
even if it’s low intensity,
may actually interfere with the speed
if the volume gets too high.
If you’re talking about, I went on a 30 minute jog,
for most people, it’s totally fine.
What we’re really talking about here
is when the miles start piling up
or the time really starts getting there
in combination with some of the things,
the factors we’ve talked about earlier,
which is exercise choice.
So more eccentric landing-based exercise choices.
Running, for example,
is more likely to interfere than cycling, right?
Because you’re not landing.
Swimming is low impact.
So if you’re going to do those things,
you can hedge your bets a little bit
by choosing an exercise choice that is less impactful.
Again, if we’re literally,
because there’s oftentimes confusing here was like,
oh, don’t do 10 minutes on the treadmill before you lift.
You’re gonna cut, oh, like timeout.
A warmup is fine.
We’re really talking about probably more than 30 plus minutes
at higher than 60% heart rate,
like random number, something like that.
Depends on the person, et cetera.
But it has to be a decent chunk.
Again, you can actually fix that
by then just consuming calories.
You can also fix that by making sure everything else
in the hidden invisible stressor bucket is improved.
So this is like one of our tricks that we’ll get into
when we get into the recovery
is you don’t necessarily need to reduce your training
if you just ramp up your recovery.
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I’m going to take the liberty of assuming
that most people fall into one of either three bins
in terms of their goals.
Again, most people,
certainly there are going to be people
that lie outside these bins.
I think if you polled a hundred people
or a hundred thousand or a million people
as to what their major goals were in working out,
they’d say, as you so nicely listed out before,
aesthetic changes, functionality, and longevity.
But that one in three really kind of sit higher
than most people would like to perhaps even admit.
They want to look good,
which usually means they want to lose some fat,
gain some muscle in specific places.
I realize there are folks out there
that really want to gain a lot of muscle,
and just muscle everywhere.
But I think most people would like to have
a little more shape here or a little more muscle there
to either balance out their aesthetic
or to accentuate certain parts of their physique.
And they would probably like to shave off
some subcutaneous fat,
although there are those exceptionally lean people out there
and they exist too.
I think it would be gain muscle in specific places,
lose fat, and do it in a way
that also provides some booth
to their health span and longevity.
I would say that might even be 50% of people out there.
Again, I’m taking the liberty of guesstimating.
Another bin I would venture is interested
in getting stronger and putting on more muscle.
Certainly there are a number of people
that are interested in doing that.
And that could even be more muscle all over
or more muscle with some accentuation to certain areas
where they happen to be weaker
or less developed as it were.
And then the third bin be people
that really enjoy cardiovascular work.
Oh, I should say the second bin
probably care about their longevity also,
but it’s not really foremost.
Like, yeah, I feel great now and I’ll live to be whatever,
but I only wanna do it if I get that much muscle.
We know these kinds of folks.
Yeah, I don’t think this-
I run a poll in my class every year
when I ask like, what you guys all lift?
Of course, like I make them put their hand up.
I’m like, you guys are in my class.
You’re gonna put your hand up and let you lift weights.
And then I ask them like, why do you train?
And like health is, long-term health is like on the list.
And they all like, I’m like,
any of you that selected health are liars.
Like you’re 20 to 25, you are not exercising for health.
You’re exercising because you wanna look a certain way
or get stronger.
Once you get past that undergraduate age though,
the actual desire to live longer and better
actually becomes pretty real.
Yeah, I think that there are people who wanna feel better.
They know that exercise and the results from exercise
can make them feel better.
Yeah, that second bin tends to be more focused
on the aesthetic change, it seems, or being strong.
And then the third category, I think are people,
I know a lot of folks like this,
who really enjoy what are normally considered
endurance type activities.
And here, I just wanna highlight again
what you so beautifully illustrated in previous episodes
that you can gain a lot of endurance
even using weights or machines.
It just depends on how you use them, right?
It’s not about the exercise,
it’s about how you perform them, et cetera.
And you, again, beautifully provided all those details
as to how to create endurance
regardless of equipment standards, et cetera.
But that third category seem to be people
who enjoy running, cycling, swimming, hiking, dancing,
activities that they can do for long periods of time
that often will involve some sort of skill
that is based on improving motor patterns.
So maybe not so much stride,
but certainly for people that really love tennis,
people that love a sport like golf, right?
Do they wanna be able to not just walk,
they wanna walk the 18 holes,
they wanna have a great golf swing, et cetera.
I’m not a golf player,
so forgive me if my nomenclature is off.
So I would say there are three-
You don’t play golf.
Oh, got it, you don’t play golf.
Well, you play golf, you wouldn’t call a golf player.
I played miniature golf a few times, that’s about it.
Although Stanford does have a beautiful golf course,
I’m told I should learn how to play golf.
I’ll come up and play it for you if you want.
You come up, I’ll play it, I’ll tell you how it works.
Get me on that course.
I almost see it from my lab.
So category one, I think,
is a significant fraction of people.
So as we lay out these different ways to assess goals,
and as we approach the structure of a program,
as you’ll tell us,
if we could perhaps touch back to those
every once in a while,
again, I’m taking the liberty of assuming
we will net about 80 to 90% of people out there.
Again, those categories being people
who want to lose some fat,
maybe build some muscle in specific areas on their body,
and really want to be healthy.
They want to feel great,
and they want to have a long healthspan and lifespan.
They want to live a long time feeling great.
people want to build more muscle and strength.
Sure, they don’t want to damage their health,
but that’s not their main focus.
Their main focus is on building muscle and strength.
And then that third category of people
who really wants to do more endurance type work,
feel great and strong doing it,
but not because they can carry heavy weights
while they’re doing it,
but rather they can feel vital
and they can push harder for longer.
And maybe even translate that
to some of the more recreational type activities
or sports like tennis and things that are more long duration
playing soccer, maybe even softball or things of that sort.
Yeah, surfing, swimming.
So those three categories,
maybe we could call those bin A, B and C
for sake of today’s discussion.
I think if you’re willing to embrace that,
I think that will be informative toward our listeners
in a way that simply not assuming
what people’s different goals are
might not be able to accomplish.
Said differently, hopefully by doing that,
people will derive a lot more
from the description of the program
that you’re going to give us.
Now, I am certain that I want to let you return
to your list of the five things
that people need to consider
when establishing a exercise program.
Yeah, great, let’s do that.
I also do want to acknowledge a point
you’ve brought up acutely.
Exercise doesn’t mean just lifting weights.
That’s my background, that’s what I spend my time on.
So I sort of default to examples in that category,
but it doesn’t have to be that.
You’ve articulated plenty of other ways
where you can get amazing forms of exercise
that have nothing to do with lifting weights.
So for those folks in, was it bin C or three?
I can’t remember.
Bin C, we go A is gain muscle, lose fat,
be healthy now and forever.
Bin B is get stronger, gain muscle,
don’t damage your health,
but not really focus on health in the immediate term.
And then bin C is want to play
or do endurance type activities
and quote unquote feel strong doing it.
So have more vigor to be able to do that longer
and maybe with more attention to skill, et cetera.
And of course, also want to improve their health.
What you’ve effectively done
is you’ve given us three different avatars
with three different goals, right?
So the next step for each person or group
is going to be to identify their defenders.
But before we get that,
we got to close the loop on this smart thing.
So in each case, they have either chosen that goal
based on their personal preference
or perhaps they did our fitness testing protocol
and realized they need to gain strength.
So whether the reason they chose to be in buckets B
or A or C was because of our protocol
or personal preference, it really doesn’t matter.
They still want to go through this process
of laying out their goals
and making sure that again, they are specific, right?
So let’s go through bin C, which is a great one.
So you want to have more energy
and you want to feel stronger
when you’re doing your kiteboarding.
You want to feel stronger
when you finish your round of tennis,
round of golf, game of tennis.
That’s a different strength.
See, I hear, I know what you’re saying though.
So that goal needs to be specific to that, right?
So it would be hard to make a goal
like I want to feel better at the end of my round.
Boy, that depends on too many other factors.
A better goal would be something like this.
I want to be able to run this two mile loop
that I do around my neighborhood
and I want to do it and have a lower heart rate at the end.
Or I want to be able to get my heart rate back,
my heart rate recovery back faster.
That will probably align with you feeling
quote unquote stronger with it, right?
So I did the same course
and either I can do it at the same speed
and it’s not nearly as hard,
or I can go faster, whichever one, it doesn’t matter.
But that would be an example of a specific goal.
The other buckets you laid out
kind of already have specific goals.
Like I want to get stronger.
Well, that’s going to be the goal.
The other one is going to be,
you know, I want to lose some fat.
The goal is sort of implicit in that.
It’s the other people where you’re just like,
I don’t really care about that.
I just want to be able to surf the great waves
and then not feel exhausted afterwards.
All right, cool.
Well, then you still should pick a metric
that is not that activity maybe,
because it won’t be within your control,
depending on the waves and the temperature
and all this stuff,
that you can use as a proxy to say,
if I were to do something
that represented me feeling probably better when I surf,
what would that be?
And it’s not perfect,
but it should be still as specific as you could get.
You still want to make sure it’s measurable.
Again, in this example,
it might be something like,
you’re going to go to the pool
and time how long it takes you to swim 800 meters
or something, right?
And then you’ll set a goal that’s realistic and timely.
I’m going to improve by 5% in the next two months.
That probably falls into the realm.
And then you’re making the assumption
that if you did that,
you’ll probably feel better
when you go out to do your primary activity,
which is safe surf.
The reality of it is,
every time we work with an actual athlete,
that’s what we do.
Athletes don’t come to us to lift weights.
They don’t come to us to get stronger.
They come to us because they want to play better
and they want to stay on the field more.
What we’re trying to convince them of is,
if you do this thing in the gym,
then that should translate into you being better
at your sport, recovering faster, being less injured.
But it’s still just a proxy.
And so that’s all you’re doing
with these other non-specific goals,
especially when they’re performance-based goals.
And we didn’t package it that way,
but that’s really what you talked about for Bin C there.
It is a performance-based goal.
I want to be able to perform when I’m in the field.
In my brain, that’s a sport.
In your brain, it’s when you’re at yoga class.
It’s the same thing.
We’ve said this earlier in our series
that if you have a body, you’re an athlete.
I want to prepare your body
such that it can do exactly what you want it to do.
You then get to have the choice of what you ask it to do.
You call it a sport.
You call it your Saturday hike with your family.
I don’t really care.
It’s the same thing.
You get control of your body performing
the way you want it to perform,
and that’s what this whole thing is about.
Great, so now that we’ve covered, I think,
as much as we need to regarding assessing
and choosing a goal,
I want to get back to this idea of identifying your defender.
So you really need to think carefully
about what is stopping you from hitting those goals.
And so you’re forecasting a little bit.
You’re also going back into your own personal history.
Do you have history of knee pain?
Do you have a history of working too much?
Do you have a history of a lot of travel?
Do you have a history of getting sick a lot?
What are these things that are happening
that are gonna stop you from hitting your goal?
A couple of examples I’ve already laid out,
so we don’t need to go too much longer here,
but in the case of somebody who is in maybe bin A,
which is I want to lose some fat,
maybe gain a little bit of muscle.
What’s stopping you from the strength
and conditioning side?
Is it the fact that you can’t train consistent enough?
Is it a fact that when you go to train,
you don’t know what to do?
Is it a fact that when you go to train,
you train your ass off and you’re not getting results?
All three of these different scenarios
are going to result in different programs
because they have different reasons you’re failing.
And that is really critical.
Instead of just going, I want a fat loss program
and picking one up off the internet,
it may not actually be addressing
the point of failure for you.
So the sooner you can choose your programs
based on why you’re failing,
the sooner you’ll start getting results.
You have to run a little bit of a critical analysis there.
And it can be, you know, something scientific
and it could be a measurement.
And it also could just be you thinking about
you’ve tried this in the past and why didn’t it work?
I wasn’t that interesting.
Okay, tell me more about why it wasn’t interesting.
Oh, I just, I’m not really into machines.
And that’s all I had.
Or I loved it.
I loved the gym I was at and I was getting results,
but it was so far away.
Why did you stop before?
Why didn’t it work?
Or if it did work in the past, amazing.
Let’s go back to something similar,
but has your life changed at all?
Is there anything different about now
than when it worked three years ago?
Maybe we run it right back.
If it is, okay, we’re gonna sort of predict those things.
And you wanna work, effectively what I’m saying is
throughout this entire 10-step process is going to be
you wanna make sure that there are
the non-negotiables that are in your life
that you know are going to be ahead of your fitness program.
And you wanna work with those things, not against them.
Right, because life will win.
When it comes to your children, when it comes to your job,
life is going to win.
You’re gonna have to give up something.
It’s gonna take some hard work,
but we wanna fight the right battles for most people.
Even for our professional athletes,
we get this all the time.
It’s just like they have nothing else to do but train.
They’re like, well, hold on now.
They’re getting traded.
They have agents to deal with.
They may not have a contract.
They have families, blah, blah, blah.
Life will get in the way, I promise.
And so you wanna fight the battles that you can win,
not ones that you’re going to lose.
And so that’s really what this game is about.
So if the battle is, hey, my job is super hectic.
We’re gonna come up with a different strategy
that’s more flexible, maybe.
I’m still gonna hold you to the fire.
I’m not gonna be easier on you,
but we’re just not going to try to set up a situation
where you have to do this workout Monday,
Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday,
because you know your job is on the road
and you’re the provide all the income
for your family and your children.
Okay, whatever the thing is, right?
That’s what we really wanna identify.
So when I say identify your defenders,
you need to run a little bit of a critical analysis on this
and a little bit of a tool I’ll use for this
is a modification of another system I stole from Kenny Kane,
which is what we call the quadrant system.
So you can imagine everything in your life
goes into one of four buckets, all right?
Now, bucket one, I’m just gonna call business.
And this has anything to do with your job, income,
sort of all those things.
Bucket two is relationships.
So again, this could be family or love life,
like anything that we would call a relationship.
Social connection, purpose, anything, right?
Bucket three is your fitness
and bucket four is your recovery.
So one of the first steps we take
is we walk through this and we say,
all right, you have 10 points total
and you get to distribute these 10 points
across the four areas.
So not 10 each, you get 10 total.
And so we walk through and we say,
right now, where are you giving your points?
And we could do this right now for you if you’d like,
or I could make up a scenario.
Do you wanna do it?
Great, so Andrew, right now in the last month,
if you had 10 points total in those four categories,
where would you be distributing the most points?
Which category and how many points would that be?
Business, my work.
Business, work, job, sort of all those things.
And how many out of 10?
Which doesn’t, I should say, ever quite feel like work.
Running a laboratory and doing the podcast
doesn’t ever really feel like work in the traditional sense,
but it’s career, it’s work, it involves relationships,
but it certainly doesn’t enhance my fitness,
except of my vocal cords, and recovery.
So with those notes there,
I would say four to five.
That’s the most common number.
Five, business, five.
Great, once again, I’m typical, which makes me happy.
You nailed it.
One of the few ways in which I’ve been accused
of being normal.
I picked five for business.
What’s the next highest, and what’s that score?
I do invest in relationships.
I would say, does it have to be around,
can it be a decimal?
It has to be a whole integer.
A whole integer.
All right, we’re seven out of 10 here.
So would you say it is fair
that you spend roughly 2 1⁄2% of your,
it’s not necessarily time,
it’s energy, time, focus, sort of all of these things,
2 1⁄2 times as much on your business
as you do in your relationships?
It varies depending on what’s going on.
It feels a little skewed in the direction of business,
so I might want to adjust to a four-three ratio there.
But I think I’m gonna hold to five,
two business relationships,
and then just for sake of example,
and because this doesn’t seem like
an exceedingly precise measure,
it can have some slop.
Where would you put fitness and recovery?
I definitely put energy into fitness,
so I’m gonna give that also a two.
One for recovery.
That, what you just laid out is,
again, the most quintessential split you could have.
In fact, you run this game on everyone,
they’re gonna come up with basically the same answer,
unless they don’t work out or whatever, right?
Okay, so a couple of rules here.
Recovery must be at minimum
half of your fitness allocation.
In your case, two to one.
I thought you were gonna say it has to be half,
like it has to be five out of 10 points,
in which case it doesn’t leave much for anything else.
I would like it to be minimum 20% of the total,
which means two out of 10.
Now, and when I say recovery,
I don’t simply mean muscle.
I mean, you need personal time.
You need meditation.
You need sleep.
You need to go to a concert and get out and see people.
Whatever the things that give you energy back, right?
Some folks, that’s personal time.
Some folks, that’s social time.
Whatever that means to you, right?
Yeah, I actually get a lot of energy from my work.
And so that’s why some of these numbers are a little bit,
you can kind of cloak the underlying dynamics.
So here’s what we do from this game.
We look at that and we say,
if that’s our split, Andrew, five, three, two, one.
Five, two, two, one.
Five, two, two, one.
I’d love to be able to put three in relationships,
just because, but then I need 11 out of.
Right, so here’s the fun game we play.
You’re currently at this and you don’t get to add to 11.
You have to stay at 10.
Your 10 is different than my 10, maybe, right?
But 10 is 10 or just whatever the maximum
you can actually do, it’s you.
So if we went back to our training goal,
whatever that goal was for you,
and we went back to our defenders,
we would look at this score now and say,
is three out of 10, fitness is three, right?
Fitness is two.
So it’s five, two, two, one.
Is two out of 10 sufficient to hit that training goal
in that timeframe you described?
And let’s say you said,
I wanna hit a new PR in my mile six months from now.
Yeah, for simplicity’s sake,
and also because it’s largely true,
I’m gonna put myself in what I refer to as bin A earlier.
My bifat percentage is okay.
It’s in the range that I would like,
but I would like to bring it down a little bit,
gain a little bit muscle here and there,
keep or gain some endurance.
And certainly, certainly my immediate
and long-term health are extremely important to me.
So then the question, and then the answer may be yes,
that this is the optimal split for you.
If it is not, then we have to make a choice.
We either alter the goal or the timeline
to make it realistic, or we alter our quadrant.
And then if we’re going to alter our quadrant,
the next step is critically important.
We need a list of very specific life actions
that we’re going to take that allows that split to happen.
So if you said, for example,
I wanna put three into relationships, great.
What specific life actions are you going to take
to pull one from fitness,
you can’t pull any from recovery, or one from business?
And you don’t have to actually answer this,
it’s too personal.
I know you don’t like making these things about you.
Right, and that’s the other reason to do it.
It is a diabolical trick to insist that these
be whole integers.
Because I would have done a 4.5 for business
and a 2.5 for relationships,
but obviously you write the rules on this, not me.
So you would just walk through that list, okay?
And the list could be something like,
I promise to not work after 7 p.m.
Thursday through Sunday.
Or whatever the thing is, right?
I promise I’m gonna make sure that I don’t start work
before 8 a.m. or whatever, right?
No more trips.
Just make those things specific and measurable.
Not just like, I’m gonna work less.
That’s never gonna go.
What is the very specific life action you’re going to take?
There’s gonna be an alarm that goes off
Tuesday night at 4, 5 p.m.
And no matter what we, at Barbell Shrugged,
we used to have a little shirt that was like D3AT,
which is like drop everything and train.
Which means at 3 p.m. in the afternoon,
no matter what’s happening,
we dropped everything and trained.
Because that was like, when you start a business
and you’re going, things just run away from you, right?
And it’s just sort of like, man, it’s not my company,
but those guys are like,
we are a strength and conditioning company
and we’re not training.
So we had to just make this hard rule
and it was just like a little thing that came up
and it was easy to say,
drop everything and train, 3 o’clock.
There you go.
I like this drop D, E, everything, A, and blank.
Like it could be drop everything and, you know,
pick your favorite.
Totally, drop everything and read.
Pick the relevant, read.
You know, I really miss reading for pleasure.
I would put that under recovery.
Drop everything and breathe.
Oh, and breathe, you were saying.
Oh, and breathe.
I was saying read.
I said that too.
Yeah, because for me,
reading is actually is both recovery and relationship.
Because oftentimes in my relationships,
I insist, not insisted.
I certainly didn’t insist.
We’ve had a format of reading the same book in parallel.
Yeah, not necessarily side by side,
but the same book in parallel.
It’s a wonderful practice
or listening to the same audio book.
It works well.
You can drop everything and play.
You’re just going to go do something fun.
You’re going to play video games.
You’re going to go play with your kid.
You’re going to do whatever, play with your dog.
Like it doesn’t have to actually be play,
but play to you could signify personal time, right?
It doesn’t really matter.
So yeah, that’s it.
I really like this drop everything and blank category
that you probably shouldn’t have more than what,
two or three of those overall.
Pretty much like one is the one to two,
maybe is where you want to go after that.
So the idea is then to redistribute the numbers on this list
but through a very concrete action.
And I like this drop everything and blank
because it speaks to the non-negotiable aspect of it.
Has to be.
Life will get pushed, right?
It’s not a fine time to, right?
It’s not in next year I’m going to.
I love it.
Yeah, when you put those things,
those things you might as well just
don’t even put on your list, right?
Cause it’s not going to happen.
Yeah, you’re talking to somebody who loves rules
because when they are non-negotiable rules,
they provide this incredible organizing force for the brain.
It’s really a neuroscience thing in my mind.
And actually we did an episode on happiness
where you find that once people make a decision,
if they eliminate the possibility of other decisions,
like literally the hatch is closed, that is it.
Burn the boats.
The rates of subjective happiness,
immediate and long-term happiness over time go way, way up.
And so I’m convinced that the nervous system
doesn’t like to keep the valves
on these dopamine circuits open.
I actually think it diminishes from the reward component.
And there are actually some data on this.
Anyway, I don’t want to take us off track, but.
The last part of this, what we do then,
is we take that quadrant and we take that list
and then you’re going to print it physically.
And you’re going to put it in two places.
This could actually be on your phone.
You don’t have to print it, you can screenshot it.
It can be the background of your phone.
So every time you click on your phone,
you immediately see that quadrant.
Like it’s a very clear reminder of like,
what are my priorities today, right?
Just a simple little picture.
I also like to put it in your place of failure.
So for a lot of people that is like on their laptop
or right above their workstation, right?
It’s like the thing that’s going to lose
and beat your fitness is your job, typically, right?
Or it’s on your TV.
It’s on your Netflix control.
No, sorry, Netflix, no offense.
But you know what I mean?
Like it’s whatever the thing is that you fail for.
I play too many video games.
Great, there, I work too much.
And you put it there and you put it also,
the last component is it has to also be
in the hands of somebody who can hold you accountable, right?
Wife, training partner, business partner, whatever.
So it’s like, hey, Andrew,
like you promised you were going to do X yourself.
Why are you still here?
You committed to this.
You got to get out of here.
Someone who will like, be like, no, no,
it’s drop everything and read.
It’s eight o’clock, you’re supposed to be reading.
You got to go.
You’re going to get a check back in on that.
Check back in every week, check back in.
It doesn’t matter every month.
And then you can adjust, it’s fine.
You can always change the system,
but that has to now change.
You got to print a new one.
And now it’s a whole new promise you’ve made to yourself.
So you’ve got to be able to hold yourself accountable
to those things.
It’s got to be flexible enough to where it’s realistic.
It can’t be, I’m not going to work
after six o’clock every day.
Maybe it’s just three days a week.
Maybe it’s on Saturdays,
I promise to work for the first two hours
so I don’t work Saturday night or whatever,
or the inverse.
I’m not going to work Saturday, you get it.
You could come up with a million examples here.
So that’s the system we use to make sure
that we have now properly identified where we’re going.
We found a roadmap to that.
And now we know exactly how we’re going to stay on track.
I have to take this opportunity to add one more thing
to our drop everything list.
And you gave the example of deer,
which is maybe drop everything and read
or drop everything and relax, or another example.
I have to add a deal, which is drop everything.
And this is for you, Lex, love.
Actually, one of the advantages of having a dog
or having children is that the drop everything
and love is often enforced by the faces
of those that you love.
They just show up in whatever space you happen to be in.
Especially if you work from home.
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Let’s move on to the next one, shall we?
Number three here is going to be what I call calendar
or sort of timeframe.
So it’s going back a little bit in saying
you’ve decided on this goal
and you’ve identified the defenders.
Now we need to come up with a realistic timeframe
for how long it’s going to take to accomplish that goal.
And when you do that,
you need to look at your life schedule.
And what I mean by that is,
do you have important deadlines coming up?
Do you have holiday?
Do you have a trip?
Do you have travel?
Do your children have something coming up?
You need to take all that information.
And I literally lay out a calendar
and I write all those dates in a physical calendar first.
And the reason I’m suggesting this
is you want to work your training backwards around that.
As we’ve been discussing, life will win.
If you try to plan a training program
that is five days a week, 90 minutes a day,
and all of a sudden you look two weeks from now
and you realize you’ve got a grant deadline
and then you’ve got to take two days to go to Austin.
It’s just foolish.
You’re going to fail and then you’re going to quit
and you’re going to be like,
man, again, my training program failed.
So you need to figure out what the non-negotiables are
in that business quadrant and just not be foolish.
So let’s imagine you’re going to plot out
say a 12 week training phase
and you’ve decided on this goal.
And then you look and you realize
in the middle of this 12 week span,
week five is really hectic and chaotic.
Or you realize that this is a quarter
in which something important is due.
Maybe we want to either adjust the goal
or what we really do in this step
is going on to actually step number four,
which is choose the number of days per week you can exercise
and the length in terms of amount of time
you can truly afford to train.
I would rather you underestimate that than overestimate it.
So again, you look at the calendar,
you put all these non-negotiables,
the deadlines you cannot move in the calendar.
And then you say, look, based on this,
realistically I can conservatively train
three days a week for 60 minutes total.
And that includes the time I walk into the gym,
my warmup, my down regulation, breathing at the end,
and then me getting back either in the shower and back.
Because really now it’s maybe 90 minutes.
By the time you traveled, you transitioned,
you picked back up on work, you showered, you ate, et cetera.
That time just runs away from you.
And all of a sudden it was a two and a half hour thing,
even though it was a 45 minute workout.
So you really need to figure that thing out.
If you’re a few weeks in and you realize,
oh, I actually have a little more time than I thought,
you can always train more.
You can do another thing, you can add it.
But what you don’t want to do is set up a program
that is requiring you to do certain exercises on one day
or certain styles of training on another.
And then you constantly miss one of those days.
I thought I could do four days a week,
but one day a week something’s getting pulled out.
That’s just gonna keep you off schedule,
it’s gonna make you feel like a failure,
and you’re gonna run into problems with your training.
So schedule three, if you are sure you can get three,
and if there’s an extra day,
we can always do other fun stuff.
So that’s really step three and four.
Figure out your life events over the course of this time.
How many days a week can you train?
And how long in terms of minutes per workout?
Notice, we haven’t selected a single exercise yet.
We haven’t worried about how heavy, rest intervals,
all those modifiable variables.
You don’t need to pick those later.
First, where are we going?
Second, how are we going to get there?
Which is the quadrant in identifying of defenders.
And then the third is, what are the restrictions
I need to place on myself in terms of program design
based on how often and how long I can work out?
That is going to allow you to go back
to some of the previous episodes and go,
man, you gave us all kinds of ideas.
How do I know which one to choose?
This is your answer.
You’re going to choose based upon the limitations
of time and frequency.
So if you’ve already said,
let’s imagine we’re in bucket A or bucket C,
it doesn’t matter.
And you go, look, the most I can afford with where I’m at
with what’s going on in my life is three days a week.
Well, we automatically know
we’re gonna have to start training,
choosing a training style
that’s limited to three days a week.
Don’t even worry about the four or five days.
Those are off the table.
And now we’re out.
So we’ve placed restrictions.
It kind of goes back to that concept of,
I think it’s one of your podcast guests, Jocko, right?
It’s just like, hey,
structure gives us actually some freedom.
So by creating some restrictions here
where we’re a little more free to go,
I only actually have to choose between A and B
rather than sitting down and going,
man, there’s all, I’m 20 hours
into this exercise podcast thing.
There’s so many options which one to pick.
Well, you create a little bit of restriction
and now it’s easier to go,
oh, my only option is A or B.
And there we go.
So that’s number four.
That’s three and four.
At that point, once we’re good there,
now what you wanna do is go to step number five,
which is actually select your exercises or your movements.
And this is gonna be as simple as selecting like,
you know, a kettlebell swing or running or swimming.
It could be your entire exercise mode.
And what you wanna do with exercise selection here
is make sure that you’re balancing those exercises
across the whole week,
not within necessarily every workout.
So if you have four days a week, five days a week,
you wanna look at the exercise selection and say,
okay, I need to have somewhat of a reasonable balance
between movement patterns or muscle groups
or front and back, side to side,
however you’re thinking of it, just across that week.
So again, say we’re on a three-day program.
And we’re in either of the buckets,
any of the buckets really.
And we say, okay, great.
Maybe it’s not ideal if all I select is cycling every day.
That’s not a lot of balance.
I don’t notice any, there’s no upper body work there.
There’s no torso work.
There’s no other position.
So maybe I’m gonna really focus on cycling.
So I will do only cycling two days a week,
but that third day I need to pick something
for the other movement areas.
And that’s gonna make sure you stay in a reasonable balance.
If you have an exercise that you like, great.
If you have exercise you have access to.
Again, maybe the gym is a giant pain in the ass.
And so you can say, look, it’s too far away.
The closest one is 45 minutes there and back.
So maybe I’m gonna restrict myself
to only kettlebell and bands and running
because I can do those in my house.
Awesome, we’ve actually created some freedom
because we gave ourselves some restriction.
And now we just have to figure out
how am I going to give some movement patterns
somewhat balanced across my three days?
So really when it comes to exercise choice,
it is selecting the patterns that you know how to execute,
giving yourself, again, somewhat of a balance
between the muscles and the joints
and the movement patterns,
making sure that you are specifically targeting
any muscle group or movement that you want.
So making sure you wanna improve muscle size in your glutes,
you better make sure some of the exercises you’re doing
at least one day a week,
you’re feeling it in your actual glutes.
So you can check that box.
It doesn’t have to be every exercise.
It probably shouldn’t.
It doesn’t even have to be every single day,
but make sure it’s checked off somewhere on that list.
And the last one is,
is there a strategy in which you can progress it?
So if you’re like, I’m just gonna do body weight exercises.
Okay, great, well, how are you gonna progress those?
In the case of like body weight,
it’s really hard to add load.
Maybe you can put a weight vest on or something,
but then maybe you don’t have that
or that’s an extra thing or that can only go so far.
So what’s my progression strategy gonna be?
Well, in this case, maybe you just increase the complexity
by going from two legs, like say a body weight squat,
to a single leg squat, or you just increase repetitions
or you increase time you’re gonna hold.
My point is your progression strategy
will be based upon the restrictions that you placed
based on availability and things like that.
The last thing I would recommend here
in terms of exercise progression,
to make sure that you can continue to do these things
while lowering your risk of injury,
both in the short term and long term,
is to progress your exercise complexity in this fashion.
So make sure, number one,
you can do the exercise properly with assistance.
So let’s imagine a scenario
where we’re going to try to squat.
So give yourself, put your hands on a bench
or something like that.
Now, can you execute that squat perfectly with assistance?
So you’re holding onto something.
If you can’t, then don’t progress past that.
Don’t go now do a barbell back squat
if you can’t do it correctly when you had assistance.
But let’s assume most people can do that.
Now you can move on to the next step,
which is can you do it well without assistance?
So this would be body weight only.
We’re good there.
Okay, now you can go ahead and move on.
Can you do it well with an added eccentric load?
So in this particular case,
if we’re learning to squat,
we can do it well when I hold onto something.
Okay, now I can do it well with just my body weight.
Now, if I put a little bit of weight on,
whether it’s a kettlebell in the front,
like a goblet squat or dumbbells to the side
or whatever you want to do,
can I lower it and go all the way down
and stay in perfect position?
If you can do that, great.
You’re allowed to go to the next step,
which is can you hold isometrically?
So can you go all the way down
and then hold that bottom position?
What you don’t want to do is start adding load
or speed or fatigue
if you’re going down to the bottom position of the movement
and you’re out of control.
We really want to avoid this.
So I want you to show me,
you can go down and you can lower the weight under control.
You can hold it in that position under control.
If we’re clear there,
now we can add the concentric portion, right?
You can now go ahead and you can lower it.
You can hold that position of most danger.
Now you can move up at whatever speed we want.
We are all good there.
Once you can show me those things,
you can add the last two steps,
which are now speed if you choose to.
And the last one, which is fatigue, right?
I would really discourage people
from doing exercises to fatigue,
especially with a moderate or high load,
unless you can promise me you can do these first six steps.
If you can, you can basically go hog wild
with your training and your chances of injury
are very low, again, both acute injury
as well as long-term injury,
which is just sort of like my joints ache
and all of a sudden my shoulder hurts
and things like that.
That’s really what I’m looking for.
And once you’re clear there, you can train pretty hard.
I really like this because recently
I was showing somebody how to use a,
in this case, it was a hack squat machine.
I noticed that they were very timid
of getting into a deep squat position.
And they cited a previous knee injury,
which has long since healed.
But even with proper foot placement and everything,
you just tell they were getting ginger about it
as they approached that bottom position.
But over time with pauses at the bottom,
they become very comfortable
and now actually are going well below 90 degrees
angle between femur and lower leg.
So it was clear that it wasn’t something,
range of motion limited, or it was just,
it was a mental thing, but a logical one for them.
Now, after what you just said,
I think a better strategy that I could have used
would have been to have them get into that position,
just no weight at all, maybe nothing on the sled,
and then slowly working up from there
as opposed to doing what we did in our case,
which was to just convince them
that they were much stronger than they thought they were.
We eventually got there,
but I’m realizing that there was far too much
mental anguish involved in that process.
Yeah, this whole progression, by the way,
this can all happen in one session.
If you can check the boxes, like in that example,
you may have been fine to jump there.
It may have just been a, hey, you’re fine here,
get through it, oh, okay.
This whole progression might take two years.
I mean, this really depends on your background,
if you actually have injury history,
your comfort, your confidence, like all these things.
So you don’t need to worry
about rushing through that progression.
You don’t even need to get all the way to the end
if you don’t want to, especially with speed
and things like that.
But again, it can happen.
It doesn’t have to be like, well, it’s a month of this,
a month, like, but no, if they feel great
and you can go through one to seven in five minutes,
then you’re good to go.
Number six now is just order.
So you know how many days per week you’re gonna work out.
You know how long they’re going to take.
You’ve selected all the exercises you need to get done.
You’ve balanced that across the week.
Now you just need to put them in order.
And the easy answer here is generally
do what’s most important first in the workout.
There is some minor interference effect
or some other things there, but the reality of it is
if you do the priority first,
you’re probably going to be okay.
So whether this priority is a muscle group,
so in the example,
you want to make sure your glutes get trained.
Maybe do it first.
If you’re trying to maximize your back squat,
you may not want to do a bunch of glute exercises
to fatigue first, but that’s not the priority we picked.
We picked a different one, which is buckets A, B, and C.
By doing it first, you told me the priority
was to make sure I do something for my glutes.
And then I would also like to get my back squat
a little bit stronger or whatever.
The same thing could be done for your endurance training.
You could do your endurance training before you’re lifting
if you understand that that means
you might be compromising your lifting quality
of the workout a little bit.
But you might be fine with that
if you say the endurance work is more important right now.
You don’t know the answer to that though
if you hadn’t gone through steps one through four.
And that’s why those things are critical.
So it makes what we call chaos management,
which is things happen in the moment.
I don’t know what to do.
What should I choose?
That decision becomes really clear
because you can always go back to the beginning
and go, my priority was this.
Then therefore, that’s my choice today.
So it provides a very simple set of instructions
for when the workout gets cut short,
when your workout has to be in a hotel
and any number of things that pop up in real life,
whether again, you’re an athlete or non-athlete,
either way, life will get in the way at some point.
So you need to have rules and a system that says,
when this happens, I go right back to this
and that’s my choice.
Done, I’m moving on.
No decision to make here.
It’s already been determined a week ago, five weeks ago.
We’re off and rolling.
So the order again is pretty simple.
Just put the one that is most important first.
Now I know you like to do legs on Monday.
I actually love that too.
I do the same thing generally
because to me that’s almost always the most important thing.
If I miss a bicep workout, I’m probably fine,
but I really don’t like missing the big movement pattern.
So I make sure that those happen on a day
that tend to be more stable for me.
Mondays are generally pretty stable.
Things get chaotic as the week moves along for me.
Others might be the opposite, right?
Others might wanna go,
hey, I’m actually gonna keep Monday as my flexible day
or off day because I like to get a lot of my work done,
get that cleared so I can have,
oh, sure, like working around you.
Some people love to train on Saturdays
because it’s their most free.
Some people hate it.
You tell me what is the biggest priority
and when are you the most fresh?
Monday, Tuesday, it doesn’t matter.
Depends on your work schedule.
Maybe you work the weekends.
I don’t know, right?
You decide what day of the week
are you generally the most consistent,
the most consistent schedule
and the most consistent energy
and do the thing that is most important on that day.
It doesn’t matter Monday, Tuesday, day one, day three.
We were sort of talking about this earlier,
but you actually don’t even have to do a week schedule.
Our brains tend to like to go year, month, week,
but a lot of folks will even just run this thing
in terms of like a seven or nine day schedule.
In fact, we ran a nine day training schedule
for one of my major league baseball players
and he’s eight or so years into his career
and he’s hitting all time PRs in velocity.
And he’s very, very good.
And it was a nine day training cycle
and we ran that for the entire season.
So it doesn’t have to be a seven day split,
but it tends to work for a lot of people
because most people have a fairly consistent schedule
across the seven days.
So pick the thing that is most important,
do it first and do it on the day of the week
that is most consistent for you
in terms of schedule and energy.
I really like what you’re describing.
I should just say that one of the reasons
I put legs on Monday is because I tend to get enough sleep
on the weekends.
I generally get enough sleep during the middle of the week,
but oftentimes things will come up.
I can be pretty sure, however,
that I’ve quote unquote caught up on my sleep
on the weekends.
This notion of catching up on sleep
is a little dicey scientifically,
but I tend to be pretty rested by Monday morning.
And actually my week begins on Sunday
and Sundays are when I get my long form cardio.
So those two are really non-negotiable.
And the reason that long form cardio is on Sunday
is that it can take many different forms.
It can take a hike with a weighted vest,
it can take the form of a jog,
it can be done with other people,
it can be family time,
it can be time with friends and so on.
And that’s pretty hard to do during the middle of the week
or pretty hard to ensure, at least for me.
I also find that by bookending the week
with some non-negotiable days of training on Sunday, Monday,
then if the week gets busy Tuesday, Wednesday,
or even sometimes Thursday with travel
and things like that,
one can sort of catch up toward the weekend.
It’s not ideal.
I mean, ideally it’s spaced out,
but really this isn’t about what I do.
This is really just to underscore
the principle you described,
which is I have a very clear sense now
over three decades or so of training
and three decades or so of being involved
in academics and science and work
of when I tend to be most rested,
when I tend to have some flexibility in my schedule
and also when I’m trying to combine fitness
with some of my social engagements,
which is actually quite fun.
One thing I noticed is that the four boxes
that you mentioned before,
work, relationships, fitness, and recovery,
some of them do have some crossover.
They all do.
A hike with family or friends
is both relationship and fitness and so on.
But I love the principle
because anything that can add consistency,
as you pointed it out,
is going to greatly increase the probability
of reaching one’s goals.
That’s sort of an obvious one.
But in an earlier episode,
you also said something that I wrote down
and is really still ringing in my mind,
which is that consistency always beats intensity.
We used to do a thing
when I was training NFL players
for the combine many years ago,
where Saturdays were supposed to be the day they came in
and we did the most regeneration.
So this is when they get body work done
and we do hot, cold contrast
and sort of all these things.
And our attendance was like 1%.
Nobody showed up.
For a massage?
Nobody showed up.
Seems right, but remember.
I love a good massage.
But remember, you’re 18 years old.
You’re likely to be getting millions of dollars
handed to you in the next few weeks or months.
He’s not referring to me, by the way.
I’m actually quite a bit older than 18.
And I’m not getting handed millions of dollars each week.
So I would think that.
But those folks, they recover super fast.
They’ve never really had that.
And also, Friday night?
Kind of enticing.
And so nothing was there.
And the strategy then was,
what if we, instead of having
a important, hard training day on Saturday,
we transition and it is only things they want to do.
So we basically identified,
what are the things in training you love the most?
And let’s do those Saturdays.
And it turns out for those folks, no surprise here,
it was what we called the gun show.
So they would come into the gym
and we would literally do nothing but biceps and triceps.
They’d just get a pump.
And then the deal was though,
you come in and literally what would come in
is we would pick three guys.
Say you, you, and you.
You pick your favorite bicep exercise.
You pick your favorite one.
You pick your favorite one.
You three over there,
you pick your favorite tricep, tricep, tricep.
And we just run a big circuit.
Like how many reps?
I don’t know.
I don’t care how many sets.
I don’t even care.
Just like pump away.
Like I don’t even care, right?
We chose small muscle groups.
It’s not really gonna interfere with much.
We’re training them for the NFL Combine,
which is like, it’s not a,
it’s legs performance basically, right?
So it’s like, if they smash their biceps and triceps
on a Saturday, it’s not gonna influence
what we did on Monday.
So recovery wasn’t an issue.
Once we finished the gun show though,
now you have to go do your regen stuff.
So if you need chiro work, you need physical therapy,
whatever you’re gonna do.
So we would get them in the building
with the low hanging fruit.
And then we would actually get them to do their work.
You can do the same thing.
And I honestly do the same thing.
I tend to do either,
if I’m gonna do an upper or lower split,
I’m gonna do that stuff either Friday night or Saturday.
Because it’s very difficult for me
to do a hard long workout Friday night, right?
Or even Friday morning for that matter.
The same thing Saturday.
I wake up and now it’s like, it’s family mode.
It’s kid things.
I wanna do stuff.
Man, but I can usually convince myself to be like,
all right, just go in there and go 20 minutes
and get your upper body stuff done.
All right, I can walk myself into that mentally.
It’s harder to walk yourself
into your five sets of five deadlift.
It’s sort of just like, whoa,
I ain’t got that in me right now.
My high intensity intervals, the max of,
I don’t have that right now.
So I’ll either go for my long steady state stuff,
which is like, I’m going on the bike,
I’m riding down to the beach,
we’re coming back nasal only.
I can get myself to go for a bike ride like that,
So I pick the thing that I’m likely to do on the days
where I’m probably gonna be my weakest quote unquote,
not physically, but motivation wise.
For a long time, I tried to like,
it just got stuck in a way
where my hardest stuff was Friday nights.
And I’m just like, why am I doing this?
I was having like a 50% success rate,
just like we were having like a no percent success rate
with the NFL guys on Saturday.
So you have to be a little bit tough.
You have to grind sometimes,
you have to get some motivation and go after it.
But you also have to be like,
well, this is just stupid planning, right?
Like why put yourself in a position
where you’re just failing over and over and over
when I could move it and go, look,
those sessions are going to be things that are easier.
They don’t require as much gusto to get up
and get them done.
I get those things done 90% of the time.
Cause the worst case I can be like,
all right, we’re gonna go do a family thing.
Give me 20 minutes.
I’m just gonna run up there and smash upper body.
And you don’t need, I don’t need a 20 minute warmup.
It’s like, I can just kind of jump into those things
if I had to, if I feel great,
then I can still go do something else
or I can do more, I can do a longer session.
But you’re sort of immune to any situation.
So I would book in those, I guess is what I’m saying.
What’s the day you’re gonna have the best day?
And what’s the day you generally have the worst?
And put the programs around those situations.
I love the idea of identifying the friction points,
the high friction and low friction days.
Friction, meaning anything that impedes you
from training consistently or well.
And there are so many factors that ratchet into that.
Sleep, other social engagements, work.
You know, Friday night, I also find it tough
to do any kind of training.
I do cardiovascular training.
I do interval type training on Fridays typically,
but there’s a lot of cumulative fatigue and stress
that happens across the week.
And usually for a long time, gosh, more than a decade now,
I’ve been telling myself that Saturday is the day
that I try to reduce my cortisol
as much as possible from the week.
And then Sunday is the day that I enjoy
that low cortisol state.
And that’s actually what opened up into the long, slow run.
I actually like to think of myself as a bit of a mule
during those long runs.
I actually have a shirt that has a sloth on it
that I wear to remind myself to go slowly on those runs.
Not that I ever run that fast,
but it’s the whole mindset around it
is to be a bit of a mule, just kind of moving through it.
And the fatigue factor is more one of,
you know, at first it’s just a little bit of boredom,
but then I’ve noticed there’s a whole different set
of mental scapes that open up
under different training types.
And this is maybe something we’ll get into
a little bit in a future episode or discussion.
You know, when you train really intensely
for short periods of time, one way,
your mind goes into a particular state.
When you do long duration training,
you’re thinking and indeed,
even the way it affects sleep patterns
is also very different.
I think one of the great futures for neuroscience
and exercise science and collaboration
is to identify how different patterns of physical movement
relate to different patterns of thinking and vice versa.
Anyway, that’s something maybe to just earmark
for a future conversation,
but there’s clearly a relationship there.
Yeah, well, when we certainly know
of a pretty clear relationship between
even what we would classify as zone five exercise
and deep sleep.
So zone five, again, being,
you’re breathing a lot through your mouth
because you have to in order to bring in enough oxygen
to offset the acidity created by the-
Yeah, this is the high heart rate.
So, I mean, if you’re going to look at it and hit a number,
looking for something like 30 plus minutes a week
being in the top 10% of your heart rate.
That impacts deep sleep.
Is going to positively impact deep sleep
as long as it’s done very far away from deep sleep.
So you don’t want to do that at night.
So you want, in terms of time.
So if you hit those numbers earlier in the day,
oftentimes that will enhance deep sleep.
Yeah, I was looking at some papers recently
and the number that kind of emerged from those papers
was that unless it’s low intensity exercise,
trying to exercise about six hours or more away
from your sleep time would be ideal.
Now that said, for those of you that have to hit the gym
or go for a run in the evening
and then are trying to fall asleep four to six hours later,
I wouldn’t want that statement
to impede your regular exercising.
Yeah, there’s an easy trick to that.
Just finish it with down regulation breathing.
So that’s sort of one of our things that if you,
because that is a realistic situation, right?
Finish work at five or even six
and then by the time you’re training or running
or whatever you want to call it,
it’s 7.38, you’re home at nine,
you’re eating and then you can’t eat two hours before bed.
Pretty soon you run into a number
of different collision points
that make you wonder whether or not
you’re doing everything wrong
or if it’s really worth training at all.
And I would argue it’s better to train than not to train,
provided that you can still get to sleep.
100%, so you have to walk a little bit of a game.
We run into this issue with the NBA players, right?
You’re playing games at six o’clock at night to start.
Major League Baseball is a 7.05, 7.10 pitch, right?
And also, by the way,
we’re changing time zones every five days, right?
UFC fighters and such, we’re usually training twice a day.
There is no option to train.
Well, I mean, we are training twice a day, always.
So we have to come up with strategies for that.
And there’s other non-athlete scenarios, of course,
where it’s like, there is no other option here, cool.
So what we do is a couple of things.
Number one, the further away you can make it from sleep,
the better, if possible.
We do need to train, though,
around the same time you’re going to be playing.
That has to happen.
So the harder and longer we go in the training session,
the harder and longer we go
in our down-regulation post-exercise.
And that is, in my estimation,
the number one lever you can pull that can help, right?
Now, if it really does start crushing sleep,
you’re going to have to make a critical decision there.
In general, it’s not a good reason to not exercise.
But maybe you restrict it to only a couple of days a week,
you go all the way up in intensity,
and the rest of the days, maybe 70%.
You stay in just kind of a working zone.
Maybe it’s a longer down-regulation.
Maybe there’s other strategies you can do.
But yeah, you want to be careful of,
and we’ve had this situation a number of times
where it’s sort of just like sleep complaints,
sleep complaints, sleep complaints.
We run full sleep studies on them in their house.
We do the whole thing with absolute rest.
We come in, we do the whole thing,
eye tracking, biomarkers, the whole thing.
And it’s like, oh,
you just need to stop doing intervals at 8 p.m.
Right, and I would add to that,
another incentive for being able to train
with or without caffeine is that it’s very clear
that even if you can fall asleep after ingesting caffeine
in the preceding hours,
that caffeine consumed in the, gosh, even 12,
but really eight to 10 hours, four hours prior to bedtime
really disrupts the architecture of sleep.
So if you critically rely on caffeine in order to train,
whatever your training might be,
and you know that sleep is important for recovery,
well, then it’s pretty obvious where I’m going with this.
So having that flexibility is vitally important.
Yeah, you’ve probably also covered this,
but you can actually measure that directly.
So by eye tracking patterns,
you can actually identify the effects
that caffeine has on sleep,
independent of a sleep time or not.
Right, there are never positive effects.
That said, I am a proponent of caffeine early in the day.
And caffeine does have a lot of,
well, it’s anti-neurodegenerative,
and as long as you’re not getting anxiety,
both mental and physical performance.
But of course, if you do not need caffeine,
if you’re one of these mutants that do not need caffeine
in order to go about your daily living
with focus and intensity,
then by all means, don’t start taking caffeine.
I’m not the hugest fan.
I am scientifically, 100% of the board.
Personally, I don’t do well on it.
Well, you seem to ride a little bit more
of what we would call sympathetic tone,
kind of shifted towards more alert.
I tend to be naturally a bit more
like my bulldog Costello was,
a little bit more on the mellow, sleepy side,
and caffeine just puts me right at that alert,
but calm place.
And I can get away with drinking,
I wouldn’t say ridiculous,
but a fair amount of caffeine and remain there.
But I do restrict it until the time right up about 2 p.m.
at the latest is really when I’m trying to drink caffeine.
Great, so number seven and eight are pretty simple.
This is now choose the intensity and the volume.
So, we’ve discussed those at length
in the previous episodes.
We probably don’t have the time to go back
over all those details.
So, remember the adaptation you’re training for
and pick the appropriate rep range,
total amount of sets,
as well as the intensity
to then get the corresponding adaptation, right?
All you have to do is select those things.
In terms of progression through a week,
the rule of thumb we say for intensity
is something around 3% per week, right?
For volume, it will depend
on what you’re doing a little bit,
but anytime you cross more than 10% per week,
you’re going to start running into problems.
So, I like 5% better.
It doesn’t need to be as low as three.
You can jump up much more than that.
Five to 7% is better.
So, if you are doing, say, running,
because the numbers make it easy,
and you’re doing 10 miles per week total.
If you were to go up to 11 miles the next week,
great, you’re right around 10%.
But what you wouldn’t want to do
is say I’m running 10 miles this week,
and I did maybe four Monday, three Wednesday, three Friday.
So, four, three, and three, you got your 10.
Then you wouldn’t want to add a mile every day.
So, Monday, instead of doing four, I did five.
Wednesday, instead of doing three, I did four.
Friday, instead of doing three, I did four.
What you actually did is you went from 10 to 13,
which is a much higher percent jump
than the 10% prescribed.
So, the same thing would be true for lifting weights.
The same thing is actually true for calories
and trying to add them, et cetera.
So, the body tends to not handle those things as well,
jumping more than 10% per week.
So, keeping with this idea
of increasing progressive overload,
being 10% more over some period of time,
am I correct in assuming that I want to identify
one, maybe two meaningful variables
and progressing that or those variables?
So, progressive overload can come in the form
of any of the modifiable variables.
So, you could increase the complexity of the movement.
You could increase the intensity or the load.
You can increase the volume by either more sets,
more reps, or more total exercises in a day.
What about time under tension?
You could also manipulate the tempo of each repetition.
You could also manipulate how many times per day you train.
So, you can manipulate frequency.
You can also manipulate rest intervals.
So, you can progressively load any of these things.
Increase intensity, run a little bit faster,
complete the same amount of work slightly faster,
put 5% more on the barbell or the load
or the handle or whatever you’re gonna do.
That’s a simple way.
If you want to think about volume,
in the case of endurance work, it’s simple,
mileage, time, whatever.
In the case of lifting, all you have to do
is take the amount of repetitions you’re doing per set,
multiply it by the sets, add that all up.
So, if you’re doing three sets of 10, that’s 30 repetitions.
If you did three exercises, you just did 90 repetitions.
Put that number down for Monday.
Put that number down for Wednesday.
Put that number down for Friday.
Add that total up.
So, say you did 90, 90, 90.
You would look and say,
my total number of repetitions this week is 270.
If I want to go up 5%,
then I need to go up another 15 or so total repetitions.
Great, that’s all we have to do.
That’s the increase.
You may keep the load exactly the same,
keep the exercises the same chain, nothing else,
but you want to add 15 more total reps for your week.
And you may choose to do that
by adding one more repetition per set.
So, last week I did three sets of 10.
This week I’m going to three sets of 11.
It can be as simple as that.
Again, it can be complex.
I walked you through.
It can be any of the modifiable variables,
but the progression I just laid out is fairly simple.
It’s honestly the one I recommend for most people
just because it will avoid confusion
and it will avoid people taking massive leaps in volume.
So, the typical strategy I would recommend here
is increasing load or intensity
or a little bit of a combination
slowly for about six or so weeks
and then taking what we generally call a deload.
So, back down to maybe 70%.
Whatever that number is you’ve been doing.
So, you did three sets of 10
and you worked yourself all the way up to three sets of 15.
Back that down and maybe we’ll do two sets of eight
for the week.
And then we’ll come back the following week
and go back and do the highest we’ve done now
where all of a sudden we’re going to do four sets of 12
or something like that.
So, if you get these little deloads every,
depending on what you’re doing, four to eight weeks or so,
you should be in a spot where you can continually progress
for a very long time without either burning out
or overloading and overstressing an injury pattern.
So, the simple way, pick intensity or volume
and just go up slightly every week
for a short span of time, generally around six weeks.
And then you come back and change your strategy
if you’d like.
Because you mentioned sets and repetitions here,
just wanted to remind folks that in the episode
that we did on strength and hypertrophy,
and that also included speed,
there was a description of a terrific program for strength,
which is the three-by-five program
or three-to-five program as it’s called,
which is to select three to five exercises
performed for three to five repetitions,
three to five times per week with three to five minutes rest
in between those exercises.
For three to five sets.
And if I recall correctly,
the protocol for generating hypertrophy muscle growth
is to perform a minimum of 10
and probably more like 15 to 20 sets
per muscle group per week.
And that can be done in a single session
per muscle per week.
So one could train for instance,
quadriceps one day per week,
as long as you’re getting that volume of sets per week,
or it could be divided up across two
or three different sessions
for that individual muscle group.
Of course, people are going to target
all their major muscle groups
and hopefully some of them minor muscle groups as well.
And as I recall, the number of repetitions
that can generate hypertrophy is quite broad,
anywhere from six repetitions
all the way up to 30 repetitions.
But by the end of the set,
it should be to failure or close to failure with good form.
Is that correct?
Yeah, and we would say close to failure
is probably most appropriate.
You can actually reach failure
maybe on a few of the sets, maybe the end.
And probably best to choose that
with the exercises that are safer.
Not that any exercise is particularly unsafe
if you do it appropriately,
but you may not want to go to true failure on every set
for the more complex, larger, riskier exercises.
So pretty close to failure, but not all the way.
And I realized I forgot to mention
rest intervals between sets.
It follows that if a large range of repetitions are performed
that a large range of rest intervals are allowed,
meaning there could be rest intervals
between sets of as low as 30 seconds between sets
or as high as two or three minutes,
depending on the loads that one is using.
And that of course will scale with the number of repetitions.
In fact, that sort of leads me into step number nine
of designing your own training program,
which is you’ve decided our goal,
we’ve worked our calendar out,
we’ve figured out how many days per week
and how long we’re going to work out in those sessions.
We then went and selected our exercises.
We balanced them across the movement patterns
and the muscle groups that we need
so we’re not causing excess of stress
on the same exact joint or muscle group over time.
We then ordered our exercises based on priority.
Because of that, we have identified our goal.
We went back and we selected the volume,
which is the repetitions per set,
the total amount of sets and the load per set
that matched the goal that we wanted to get
or the adaptation.
Now all we have to do is fill in the rest intervals,
which reflect back again, the goal.
So generally higher rest intervals,
which means time that you rest between your sets,
higher, somewhere between two to five minutes
for things like speed, power and strength,
perhaps a little bit lower,
although as you mentioned,
it could also stay high for hypertrophy.
And then for endurance, you follow the rest interval
that reflects the type of endurance training
that you’d like to get.
That’s walked us through one through nine.
We’re almost done.
We’ve put together a pretty nice little protocol.
It should be well-rounded.
It should be effective.
We’ve also talked about how to progress it
from week to week,
keeping it within again, four to six weeks,
maybe up to eight before we then take a back off.
The very last thing we have to do
to make sure this training program
is customized to you, your goal and your situation,
which is then going to enhance your likelihood of adherence
as well as increase the likelihood of effectiveness,
is we just have to do a little bit
of what we call chaos management,
which is take a quick moment to think through,
this program looks great,
but if I had to nitpick it,
where are the possible chances of failure?
And you just wanna sort of think about
where would I predict things would go wrong?
And if anything pops out to you,
try to come up with your solution at the beginning.
And this could be a number of things.
So maybe you’ve picked an exercise
and you realize, man,
I really actually don’t like that exercise.
Or maybe you look at the schedule now
that it’s laid out in front of you.
You look at your work schedule and you’re like,
ah, maybe that’s a bit aggressive.
I don’t know.
It could be any number of things,
but it is a useful exercise
to just think through everything realistically.
I typically just like,
it’s the adage I teach my graduate students,
before we hit submit, we’re gonna sleep.
So it’s there, it’s ready.
We’re gonna take 12 hours.
We’re gonna wake up the next day,
look at it again and go,
are we sure we’re good here?
Make adjustments if you need.
If not, if you feel confident,
then hit send and cross your fingers.
Yeah, we were referring to submitting the manuscript.
It’s interesting you say that.
I have a statement that I always make to people in my lab.
They hit submit.
And I always say that you realize
you’re gonna wake up tomorrow morning,
there’s going to be an email in your inbox
that something was formatted incorrectly
and you’re going to spend tomorrow reformatting
and submitting again.
So I’ve also learned that every project
is actually two projects.
I’m sorry, I’m trying to not die over here
and interrupt you.
Yeah, it’s true.
I’ve done this enough times.
You know, I’ve done this many dozens of times.
And then there’s also another truism of science,
which is that there’s the project,
there’s the scientific question,
and then the paper is yet another project.
And I actually think this is an analogy
that carries over to other domains of life.
I think that anytime we take on something,
if we want to write a book, or we want to get a degree,
or we want a fitness program,
I think it’s worth thinking about those decisions
as actually taking on two major things.
Because one is the planning and organization
around that thing,
and the other is the actual performance of the thing.
And so I say that because here,
what you just described,
this 10 steps to consider in designing a program.
I think some people who are real list makers
and love the precision and the thoroughness,
and I’m one of these people thinking, this is great,
I just want to check off each one of these things
on the list and figure out the ideal program for me
for a given period of time, et cetera.
And then other folks might be thinking,
well, that’s a lot, that’s just a lot to do.
But what I know with certainty
is that performing those sorts of,
let’s just call them what they are,
those tasks of figuring out what’s what,
where the defenders are, et cetera,
without question makes everything go so much more smoothly
once you are into the actual performance,
the action of doing the exercise program,
or the book, or the podcast,
or whatever it is that you happen to do.
So I’m grateful that you brought up
both the things that act as conduits
for getting good work done,
and this notion of defenders and bottlenecks.
Because if we don’t consider those,
I would argue that it’s a very low probability
that anyone will succeed.
But when one does consider those, even just a few of them,
I think the probability of success
goes way, way up immediately.
That’s actually a very good point.
That is a lot of work for a lot of people.
And I know when I’m consuming information,
it is helpful to hear structure and systems and design.
It’s also helpful to hear actual real-life examples.
So maybe the next thing we can do here
is I can just walk you through an entire setup
and a program,
considering folks that are in bucket A, B, and C.
And maybe I’ll save a little bit of the explanation
and we’ll eliminate maybe some background,
and I’ll just walk you through what this could look like.
All right, so I created a program
which should run about a year.
And the idea here is that this could be
an evergreen system.
So one could check off all the boxes
that we’ve talked about.
So in general, we wanna have three primary goals
We wanna look a certain way,
whatever that means to you.
We wanna be able to perform a certain way,
whether that’s for life goals like hiking and energy
or sport goals or whatever.
And then we wanna be able to do that across our lifespan.
Okay, so a program that gives you
all the goals we talked about.
And a program that covers that health combine
that we referred to way back
in some of our earlier discussions,
which as a little bit of a recap is,
what are the physical fitness parameters
that we know are critical to maintaining
both lifespan and wellness span?
And as a bit of a reminder,
those are things like your grip strength,
your leg strength,
your total amount of muscle mass,
your actual speed and power
so that you can catch yourself from a fall,
your VO2 max and your physical fitness.
So I wanna program that does a little bit of all that.
And it’s similar actually,
and we’re kind of crossing barriers between our three buckets
so I need to be able to control my fat.
I need to be able to have enough muscle.
That muscle needs to have enough function
and I need to be able to maintain range of motion
so that I don’t lose flexibility and get hurt.
And then I need to have a good VO2 max
as well as to be able to sustain energy over time.
So that was the goal of my progress.
Now, a couple of other things that we haven’t chatted about,
which are very important.
You have mentioned, I think on a previous podcast
about the importance of seeing light.
Is this something you’ve covered at one point or another?
I joke that I’ll be going into the grave
and there’ll be shoveling dirt onto me
and I’ll be telling people what I’ll tell you again now,
which is to get five to 30 minutes of sunlight viewing
as early in the day as possible,
ideally from sunlight,
that’s why it’s called sunlight,
or from bright lights of another kind
if you cannot get sunlight.
And also get that in the evening
and then avoid bright lights
between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
unless you do shift work,
in which case check out our episode on shift work.
So we’ve got a little bit of a juxtaposition
where people are like,
I need to work out and do all this training,
but then I’m also supposed to be outside.
Okay, how do I blend those two things
into my training program?
Cool, so I checked that box as well.
I built that in.
The last thing here is
we’ve talked about structured exercise
and just in this episode,
we’ve really opened up and do non-structured exercise,
hiking, sports, things like that.
Well, one thing that is incredibly clear
and my colleague and friend, Tommy Wood
at the University of Washington
published a fantastic paper very recently
on the importance of proprioception
in maintaining and staving off
late onset dementia and Parkinson’s.
Maybe just remind people what proprioception is.
So there’s structured exercise and that’s very important,
but then there’s also things like balance and coordination
meaning you’re adjusting to stimuli
coming in from the outside world.
So this stimuli could be sound,
could be light, could be smell,
or in the physical case of the body,
it is where you are at in space.
So I’m feeling like I’m falling to the left,
therefore I need to correct and move back to the right.
So you don’t get this with doing things
like a hack squat on a machine.
You get this typically from being outside.
So now you’re smelling and seeing things
and you’re also not landing with your foot
in the exact same position on an even platform.
We get this from things like sport.
Now I’m not only exercising,
but I’m reacting to the outside world.
The ball’s going over here,
my opponent’s going over there.
So it’s very important in my opinion
to have at least one session per week of exercise
in which you are doing something
that challenges proprioception, right?
So how do I fold all of these best practices
into one training program
that’s not 200 hours a week, seven days a week?
That’s what I’ve laid out to you.
Cool, let me walk you through it
and then maybe we’ll come back
into each individual category
and you can ask questions about them.
So the way that I think is best is to have a goal
and have that goal be around eight to 10 weeks long
like we’ve been talking about.
So what I gave you is,
let’s start off with quarter number one of the year.
So perhaps January through March or so,
and it doesn’t have to be this one,
but just as an example,
you decide your goal is gonna be
to put some muscle mass on.
So we’re gonna prioritize adding muscle, okay?
Now within that, you’re gonna be bulking up,
adding some muscle,
but we’re also going to be sleeping more.
We know we need extra recovery in this session
and we need to go up in calories.
Now this happens to work nice for a couple of reasons,
but in that protocol,
maybe we’re gonna do seven days
or seven sessions a week of physical activity.
It doesn’t mean seven days,
but maybe those sessions are something like,
I will do one indoor sport.
This could be basketball,
could be any number of things, right?
So I got my sport ticked off and it’s indoors, why?
I’m in January to March.
The weather’s probably not great for most of the world.
So I’m not gonna do as much outside activity.
I’m gonna do weights maybe three or four times a week
and then maybe two days a week, I’ll go for a long walk.
Again, we’ll come back and I’ll explain to you
why I made all these individual choices.
So you’re gonna run that for the first quarter.
At the end of this quarter,
you’re gonna take a deload week.
Now this could be fully off.
Maybe this is when you schedule a vacation.
Maybe this is backing off.
Maybe you just keep your walks in
and you spend the extra time on your family or work
or whatever else you need to do.
So we’ve bulked up a little bit.
We spent 12 weeks adding some mass.
Now we’re gonna transition into quarter two,
which is where we start to actually get lean.
This is actually a pretty standard bodybuilding template,
which is you put on some mass first
and then you get lean after that.
So now we’re gonna get lean from April to June.
We’re gonna bring calories down a little bit.
So now we’re actually gonna play
in a hypocaloric state somewhat.
The days tend to get longer.
So we’re gonna have more time to spend in the sun.
So we’re gonna shift a little bit
from an indoor sport activity,
like the example I said earlier was basketball,
to maybe stand-up paddle boarding
or some other thing
where you’re actually getting your sport done.
You’re reacting, you’re using proprioception,
but now you’re getting that sun in there as well
because you have a greater opportunity to actually do so
and the weather probably is gonna cooperate with you
more often than it would in, say, February.
You’re then maybe gonna pick a fitness or an exercise class,
any number of routines where you’re with multiple people.
And then two days a week in addition to that,
you’re gonna maybe lift some weights.
So now we’ve added some muscle.
Now we’ve got lean.
And all of a sudden,
we’re actually looking pretty good for the summertime.
Hmm, interesting, right?
Quarter three, July to September,
we’ll transition and we’ll try to get
into great cardiovascular shape.
So we’ll transition more
into some high-intensity interval type of stuff
We’re gonna maybe stay at maintenance calories now.
We spent a little bit of time hyper,
then we went hypo,
and now we’re gonna go back to maintenance and keep along.
We’re gonna continue to choose some outdoor sports,
but maybe you change it up.
Maybe you keep the same one.
Maybe now we switch it out into golf
or now we pick a pickleball or we play basketball,
but now we just do it outside.
Any number of things you can do, right?
So maybe even we do a couple, change it up.
You do that twice a week.
You’re spending more time in the sun now.
You’re looking outside
and you’re seeing this great weather
and you’re not cooped up in a gym,
but you’re getting your physical fitness in.
That’s also going to be aiding in your high intensity
or your interval, your conditioning,
because you’re doing more stuff like that
rather than lifting in a gym.
And then maybe you’re actually gonna do some track workouts.
Maybe we’ll do this on a bike
or we’ll do some hill sprints outside,
any number of things.
And then we’ll do that maybe twice a week.
And then we’ll still lift weights twice a week in our gym.
The last quarter then is gonna be October to December
and we’re gonna transition there
and do more pure cardiovascular fitness, okay?
Because we’re doing that, we’re gonna be working harder.
And remember, cardiovascular training
is generally expelling much more calories than lifting.
So we’re gonna actually go up in calories.
We’re gonna return to that.
And that works out kind of well
because I don’t know if you know or not,
but people tend to eat a little more calories
from the months of say November through December.
Yeah, holidays and at least in Northern Hemisphere,
Maybe even we play with two workouts a day here.
We’re trying to get really in shape.
We’re trying to improve our conditioning
and our endurance in multiple areas.
We’re gonna actually transition back into an indoor sport.
So maybe we’re gonna do some kickboxing
or a jiu-jitsu class or something like that.
We’re gonna maybe hit the cardio machine once or twice.
Now we’re hopping on a StairMaster or VersaClimber
or maybe getting an assault bike going,
something like that.
Maybe hit some machines and do our lifting there.
Maybe we had spent the rest of the earlier part of the year
on barbells and dumbbells.
We’ll transition to some machines
and then we’ll still try to get outside
and walk twice a week, okay?
And that gets us our outside activity,
but it’s not necessarily a structured program.
So you could, hey, we got 15 minutes
where the weather’s breaking a little bit.
So let’s walk, get outside and get a walk in.
So that’s the overall structure of everything.
I would like to actually go back to the beginning now
and kind of walk through each one of these things in detail
and explain why I chose certain things.
I’ve kind of given some hints already,
but I think it’d be helpful to walk back
to the beginning and start there.
Great, I love the overall structure.
I have just a couple of questions.
The idea of training mostly for hypertrophy,
January through March, makes sense,
followed by period from April through June,
focusing primarily on fat loss.
And then from July to September,
speed and interval type work.
And then October to December,
you put to emphasize endurance type training.
I thought for a moment that when we got to October, December
you were going to emphasize strength.
And I’m wondering whether or not
there’s any incentive for training for strength
October, December, so that when one arrives
at the hypertrophy training, January through March,
we’re that much stronger.
The idea being then there’s more muscle to hold on to
as one then tries to lose fat from April through June.
And then July through September is the speed work
or is July through September
the speed slash power phase of the program?
The July through September would be more
like your higher heart rate,
learning to get all the way up,
maximum exertion and then recovery.
And October to December is long form endurance.
Moderate to long form, right?
So it’s closer to that aerobic capacity stuff.
It is closer to longer duration
and moving through that spectrum.
You are astute in pointing out
that I didn’t have pure strength really in there.
You certainly could fold it in,
but quite literally if you spent three months
bulking up in January to March,
that’s gonna bring some strength along the way.
So you should be fine there,
but you absolutely could alter any of these variables
if you wanted to emphasize something more than other ones.
So say you actually felt like
you ran through the fitness testing
and you identified actually your endurance is pretty good,
but you’re struggling maybe with a little bit of strength
and maybe a little bit of lower muscle mass.
You could substitute quarter three or quarter four
and say one of those quarters will be strength
and then I’ll do all of my conditioning in another quarter.
And what you’ve really done
is the programming is still fairly simple.
You’ve just altered the priorities a little bit
and therefore you’ve altered the adaptation across the year
and why this is really important.
This template is meant to be something
you can just run back year after year after year
and you make a subtle change like that.
And now over the course of five, 10, 20 years,
you’re going to be in a fantastic spot at the end.
So you can make easy adjustments along the way
as priorities pop up, as goals pop up,
but you’re going to be in a position
where there’s nothing that’s going to be lagging behind.
You’ll be in a good spot.
Most of your bases are covered to be pretty lean,
have a good amount of muscle and to be in great shape.
Two other questions.
One, just a quick question,
for sake of generating proprioceptive feedback
during the endurance phase,
is trail running a good option?
Thinking back to days running cross-country.
It’s October, December, you’re trail running.
Totally. Training for endurance.
The ground is not super solid,
which is even better in this case, right?
So you’re making more choices
and trying to not fall on your face.
And then you mentioned bulking up
and I just wanted to highlight
that there are some folks, myself included,
while I’d like to add a little bit of muscle here or there,
I’m not interested in overeating to the point
where I lay down a lot of body fat stores along with that.
And I think a lot of people out there
are not necessarily interested in quote unquote bulking up.
I also, my understanding of the literature,
and tell me if I’m wrong,
is that while there does need to be
some sort of caloric surplus
above what is required to maintain body weight
in order to build muscle,
that many people who try and quote unquote bulk up
basically just end up expanding the size
of their cheeks and face
along with their limbs and torso.
You know, I’m not trying to poke fun at them,
but the idea of deliberately overeating
to the point where a lot of body fat stores come along,
I would imagine that would just make the April
through June phase that much harder.
And I’m not sure it’s ever been studied directly,
but I can’t imagine it’s all that,
excuse me, all that healthy
to bring along a lot of adipose tissue
in one’s pursuit of hypertrophy.
You’re absolutely correct.
We have not gotten into the nutritional details there,
but yeah, thank you.
Good clarification point.
A couple of things.
You’re not going to be doing this very long.
It’s 12 weeks, right?
We’re not going to be six or eight weeks.
You haven’t seen me eat.
Number two, just since we’re here to clarify,
the literature is ongoing in this area,
and there’s actually a handful of studies
that I know are coming soon.
But in general, when I say hypercaloric here,
I’m referring to increasing caloric intake
above baseline by something like 10 to 15%.
So if you normally eat 2,500 calories throughout the day,
you might add another 250 to 400.
I’m not doubling calories.
I don’t want you to be stuffing your face,
hating food, feeling awful all day,
and then putting on half of your weight as fat
and half of your weight as muscle.
It is just technically hypercaloric
because you’re eating more,
which is an absolute requirement
for most people to add muscle, right?
Some folks who have a high percentage of body fat
and a low level of fitness training
can actually get away with just
being either isocaloric technically
or even a little bit lower and still adding some muscle
while losing some fat.
But for most folks, that’s going to be challenging.
So you’re going to want to be in a hypercaloric state.
Another reason I put it in here is because remember,
people tend to make these extra calorie choices
during this part of the year anyways.
And so you’re sort of playing into life
is why I chose that, right?
It’s like, hey, you can’t restrict calories all the time.
It’s really, really hard.
So maybe if we can put calorie restriction
during the phases of the year, that’s a little bit easier
and give you the freedom to have a little bit more calories
during the phase of the year
when you’re probably going to want to do that anyways.
Just make sure you’re doing a style of training
that supports that.
So you’re going to be trying to add muscle
when you know you’re going to be adding more calories.
We’re going to be trying to really push the pace
on our conditioning when we know we’re going to be eating
more calories anyways.
And so that is actually in fact exactly why I chose
those goals for those times of the year
is because we’re now playing into life a little bit more.
But we, again, certainly do not want to be eating
to an excess where it’s causing some of the problems
We want to be eating a little bit more.
The last point here is the next phase, April to June,
we know we’re going hypocaloric.
So it’s always kind of nice to go,
yep, we’re going to go in a little bit
of a calorie deficit here.
But it’s really just these few months.
And it’s okay because I’ve spent the last six months
where I wasn’t restricting that much.
And then one actually where I got to eat a little bit more.
And now, cool, not hard for me to convince somebody
that to go, we’re going to bring the calories down right now
or in a month, in two months,
and it’s just going to be this 12 or 16 week phase
or whatever you end up being in there.
So those were some of the rationale
that I was thinking of when I decided to do that.
But thank you, that’s a very important point
in terms of the hypocaloric.
It’s not the dirty bulk.
It’s not the excess that a lot of folks will do.
And just a final point for folks
in the Southern Hemisphere,
Australians and South Americans,
we actually have a large listenership
in the Southern Hemisphere.
Of course, adjust accordingly,
even though the holiday months are still
in November, December.
They’re of course holidays all year long.
Many of the major holidays are around November, December,
but it’s summer down there.
Just adjust accordingly.
There’s nothing wholly about
trying to achieve certain adaptations
at certain times of year.
It’s more about trying to eliminate bottlenecks,
defenders, as you mentioned.
And it’s really about the sequence.
So if we go back to that first quarter,
we’re gonna try to add some mass
for the reasons I just described, right?
It’s also tends to be pretty motivating.
You’re gonna start the year off,
you’re gonna wanna train and get all excited
because of your New Year’s resolution,
and you’re gonna see results immediately.
We’ve talked about this in some of the previous episodes.
The nice part about hypertrophy training
is you see your muscles growing right now,
where the endurance stuff tends to have
a little bit more of a delayed gratification.
So I’m gonna give you a win early, okay?
Now, we’re also gonna be sleeping more
because we know, and maybe we’ll get into this
in a future episode,
that sleep is absolutely critical to recovery
and critical to growing muscle mass.
So you’re gonna emphasize sleep
more during this part of the year,
also because the sun is very low.
It’s harder to sleep for a lot of folks
longer when the sun is out for longer,
especially if you don’t have a perfect blackout.
And so you’re just like trying to play
with the restrictions life gives you
and optimize your scenario.
So the sun’s probably not out very often,
and especially depending on where you live,
if you’re anywhere like where I grew up
in the Pacific Northwest,
it’s going to be dark and gray and gloomy most of the day.
So it’s not hard to convince you to go to sleep
a little bit more often.
So we’ll do that.
That’s also, again, why I chose an indoor sport.
That activity, you’re gonna not shoot yourself in the foot.
Being in the gym when it’s cold and crappy outside
is not that hard to convince yourself to do.
So you’re gonna be lifting your weights,
say four times a week.
And then again, getting some outside time
in the form of a walk
so that you can do it in the middle of work if you have to,
or catching 20 minutes here or there,
whatever it needs to be.
The chances of you missing that walk are little,
and you’ll still get some outside time.
You’ve talked about the importance of getting sunlight in,
even if it is overcast.
So you can still nail all those boxes
and be in a pretty good spot at the end of that quarter.
Okay, so moving on to quarter two then, April to June.
A lot of people wanna look good during the summer months.
You’re more likely to be outside.
You’re more likely to have your shirt off
because it’s hot,
because you’re either on vacation or going to the beach.
So let’s play into that a little bit.
Let’s let people look a little bit better,
if that’s what they determine to be looking better,
during the months when they’re more likely to have that.
You’re also more likely to have things like weddings
over the summertime.
People don’t get married often in the winter.
And so people wanna look good for these events.
So let’s play into what a lot of people already want,
and let’s help you get leaner.
Not a lot of holidays that involve eating during that phase.
And so you’re not gonna feel like you’re missing out
on a ton of life,
outside of maybe a few smaller holidays in that phase.
The days are getting longer.
And so we’re gonna choose to get in the sun more often.
We can start getting a tan better.
We can start getting ready for summer.
And so this is why we exchanged our indoor sport
for an outdoor sport, surfing, hiking, cycling outside,
whatever the thing is you wanna do.
There’s tons of them, kiteboarding,
like I said, skateboarding, there you go.
You know, start skating a little bit,
whatever it needs to be.
So we’ll do that once a week or so.
And then I actually threw in a fitness class here.
And there’s a couple of reasons.
One, now it’s sort of nice
to take the pressure of programming off.
It’s also nice to, if you’ve been lifting by yourself,
to get in there and lift with somebody else.
It’s also nice to now have some social interaction.
The gamification, the group,
the scoring stuff that happens in fitness classes
is very, very powerful.
It tends to be somewhat fleeting,
so it won’t last for a long time for some people,
others it does.
And so if you pepper this thing in
and you know you’re gonna join this activity class,
even if it’s not great
and the program design isn’t perfect,
it’s fine for 10 weeks.
In fact, you may really, really enjoy it.
And also, again, it gives you something new to think about.
Music is on, you’re out of your house
if you’re lifting at your house,
you’re in a different part of the gym,
the schedule’s a little tighter.
So you can’t just go work out whenever you want.
You gotta sort of show up when the class is going
and you’ll probably find that you just love it.
You also get some social interaction, right,
which is something that’s also very important
that we haven’t really discussed yet
if you’re out playing basketball by yourself or whatnot.
So this is just another thing I’m trying to fold in
that still allows you to check off multiple boxes
of things that are healthy for you.
You’ve had episodes on the importance
of social connection interaction.
We talked about that in the quad breakdown
of making sure you have relationship time
and things like that.
So throwing in a fitness class
and just doing honestly something quite different
is pretty fun.
But then still keeping two days a week
where you’re doing a traditional strength training thing
so you have some quality control there.
Lastly, you can also then make sure
you’re hitting any specific movements or muscle groups
that are very important to you.
So you don’t get to control that in your fitness class,
but now you can at least do the gym
and make sure you hit that muscle group
that you have an interest in it.
So now we’re feeling pretty good.
We’re rolling into the summer.
We’re pretty lean.
We’re getting out in the sun a lot.
We’re bringing calories down a little bit
and we probably are feeling pretty happy.
We’re also not burnt out.
We’ve done a lot of fun things
and we’ve checked a lot of the boxes off
for long-term development.
We had a combination of specificity
with exercise selection,
but we also folded in just a little bit of variation
so we don’t have to worry about overuse injury
of doing the same machines, the same lift
months and months and months after months
and slowly wearing down something
if our technique isn’t perfect.
So now we’re gonna go into our quarter three,
which is the summer months basically up here at least,
July to September.
It’s been a while since we’ve done some conditioning.
So we may have lost a little cardiorespiratory fitness.
We may have not feeling great anymore.
Maybe energy throughout the day,
stuff is starting to leak down.
So we’re gonna get in shape.
We’re gonna push our heart rate high
and we’re gonna bring the calories back up.
We’re gonna get into the summertime,
4th of July, other holidays like this
where eating is involved.
Maybe you’re going to sporting events and things like that.
Our sport choices is often going to be outdoors.
But in fact, what you’ll notice here
is I’ve ramped the sport choice up to twice a week.
And in fact, I would encourage you
to do two different types of exercise.
And one of the primary reasons for that
is to spend more time outside.
A challenge we often see with people with exercise
is going, man, it’s so nice outside.
I can’t go sit in the gym for 45 minutes.
All right, I don’t have that much free time.
And then he remains over here telling me
I need to get direct sunlight more
and like, how am I gonna fit this in?
Well, do your exercise outside, enjoy it.
Now, if you live down here like us,
you take sunshine for granted.
But a lot of people I know, it’s like,
it’s only nice for two and a half months of the year.
So let’s push more of our fitness training
into outdoor activities.
These sports can be intense or not, right?
It could be, go out there and swim hard, get in the ocean.
You’re gonna do open ocean swimming
instead of swimming in the pool indoors
or whatever the case may be.
So we’re gonna give ourselves more of a priority
of being outside, we’ve looked pretty good,
we’re a little tan and we’re enjoying
all the benefits of training outside
and the lack of structure.
Still, we have structure, but not so specific
like the machines and the weights give us.
Maybe even now we’re doing some track workouts.
So now we can do something like sprint the straightaways,
walk the corners.
And we don’t have to, again, do our conditioning
on the same StairMaster or machine or whatever we’re on.
So we’re gonna enjoy some stuff like that.
We’re gonna be athletic, we’re gonna run, we’re gonna move.
We haven’t talked about that yet, right?
Everything has really been about
sort of structured exercise.
Well, now we’re gonna do some sprint work.
We’re gonna get out and see that,
which is a really important human quality
that I think is important to not lose
is actually ability to sprint.
So we’ll do that.
And then we’ll still make sure we lift twice a week
for the same reasons I talked about in the previous phase.
So we make sure we have some quality control there.
We maintain some of the muscle
that we built in the quarter before.
We don’t lose too much strength.
There is very good literature to suggest
strength maintenance can be done
in as little as five sets per week for a very long time,
really up to eight plus weeks if you do a little bit.
So you’re touching it enough
to where you’re not gonna get really, really weak.
But what you wouldn’t wanna do is go 12 or 16 weeks
where you lifted no weights.
And maybe you got in great shape,
but you’re gonna feel very weak after that.
So maybe that number can come down to one time a week
if you really wanted it to,
but one to two days a week where you’re lifting
the big exercises, the muscle groups
and the movements of interest, and you’re good to go.
Then lastly, we roll into our final quarter,
which is October to December.
And we’re gonna really get in great shape.
The sun is starting to come down.
We’re rolling into the holidays.
Weather’s getting worse.
We may have other outdoor activities we wanna do.
Like in my case, you’re going on a hunting trip.
You have some travel, conferences,
whatever the case may be.
And so we’re going to choose an indoor sport.
And I love combat sports.
So the example I gave earlier was like jujitsu,
or maybe you just transition your basketball to inside
or your pickleball comes inside
or whatever it happens to be.
And you’re still gonna have that twice a week.
And then maybe instead of the track workout outside,
you do that same workout indoors now
back on some sort of machine or something like that.
Our weights are actually now down to once a week
because we’re really pushing the pace on cardiovascular.
We’re doing once a week to maintain it,
to not lose and get too far behind.
But we really wanna bring up our VO2 max.
We wanna bring up our efficiency,
our cardiac output and everything like that.
And we’re still gonna now walk twice a week
so that we get something outside.
And I talked about why, again,
it’s nice to have that flexibility
of not having to train outside
because now you got to warm up and do all those things.
You just get out and get a walk in.
You still get the outdoor experience.
So we run that entire thing.
And then you just start back the next year.
Ideally, again, at the end of every quarter,
you take a week off,
whether that is a true full week off,
which I’m fully in support of.
I mean, friends, we’re only talking
about four off weeks a year.
That’s absolutely fine.
Or it could even be a slight deload week
if you want it to be.
So we shouldn’t run into too many issues of overuse.
We have a lot of variety.
We get a lot of movement patterns in
because we’re mixing in sport with machines and dumbbells.
We’re mixing in social interaction.
We’re mixing in the sun.
We’re mixing in enjoyment.
We’re mixing in fat loss, strength, hypertrophy,
some cardiovascular endurance.
We’re mixing in calories in high.
We’re mixing in a little bit of calories low.
And we’re trying to hit as many of these nodes as possible.
If you also wanted to cut each one of these
a little bit short and repeat your fitness testing
at the end of every quarter, you could.
I would probably recommend doing it at least once a year,
perhaps doing it maybe the third week of December or so.
So you run that testing.
That’s your last week of training.
Then you get to go on your vacation break.
You come back at the beginning of the year.
You’ve got new goals, new targets, and you go.
If you wanted to repeat it twice a year,
do the same sort of thing at the end of June, it’s fine.
I know I laid these out as quarters,
which is generally 12 weeks with one back-off week.
But if you wanted to make it nine weeks
and a testing week and then a back-off for 10 weeks,
it’s fine, it’s close enough.
So the last little thing I wanna say is,
let’s assume you’re doing the 12 weeks
and you’re gonna have a back-off week
at the end of the 12 weeks.
I would actually still then recommend
having at least one back-off week halfway through.
So it would look like this.
Five weeks, hard, where you’re progressing.
You’re going up, up, up, up, up.
Every week, you’re either increasing volume intensity
like we talked about a few minutes ago.
Then week six, deload.
Go down to 70% volume and intensity.
Come back, go hard for five more weeks.
And now week 12 is your true off week
where you, again, take the whole thing off.
If you do that, you now have four weeks a year
where you’re totally off.
You have four weeks a year where you’re really backing down
and you just have five-week segments all year round
where you’re just gonna push it hard for five weeks,
you’re gonna need a break, you’re gonna reset,
you’re gonna transition a little bit.
Now, as I started this conversation off with,
there are many ways you could structure
your training program throughout the year
and hit those primary goals we talked about
of looking fantastic, feeling amazing,
and being able to do that your entire life.
All I can tell you though is I know this model works
because we’ve done this a lot with our clients
in our Rapid Health Optimization Program.
And this spans everything from 25-year-old folks
who are competing in the Boston Marathon
to a lot of individuals who have never exercised before
who maybe have done a little bit of exercise.
In fact, it’s quite literally
all three of the buckets you laid out.
We’ve had clients in all of those areas,
both men and women, young and old.
And we’ve had a tremendous amount of success
transforming their lives using a very similar model
to what I just laid out.
I find that overall structure to be immensely informative.
And I’ll tell you why in the context
of a number of examples of myself,
although that’s the least important of them, frankly,
but examples of family members of mine and friends of mine
who’ve undertaken consistent exercise training programs,
but that haven’t varied the program so much.
And here again, I think of the person
who really loves to swim.
They have a low barrier of entry to the pool or to the ocean.
They love being in the water.
I am not one such person.
I like being in the water,
but I don’t motivate to drive to the pool
or to bike to the pool or to get into the ocean that often.
Once I do it, I enjoy it.
But for me, it’s running and lifting weights.
And it has been for a very long time.
I have a family member, close family member
who doesn’t really like quote unquote exercise,
but loves dance and dancing.
Going out dancing, yes, but dance classes in particular.
Really enjoys it.
Loves to be distracted from the fact
that she’s doing exercise and just really enjoys it.
And it actually is a very good dancer,
despite the fact that she’s related to me.
And on and on.
There are many examples, I think,
of folks that fall into the different bins
that we talked about earlier,
but that also tend to default towards a given structure
of training one way and doing that throughout the year.
I can tell you right now
that I’m personally going to modify my schedule
according to this four quarters per year.
It actually works because I’ve mostly been
on the quarter system in academics for a very long time.
I was at a university, had a semester system once,
but this quarter system is actually
the one that we follow academically.
So that’s one reason why it’s a natural fit for me.
I confess that I typically don’t vary up
the proportions of endurance to resistance training.
I tend to keep those about three and three across the week,
three resistance training sessions,
three, let’s call them cardio sessions,
but each one designed to achieve a different adaptation.
And I’ve now altered those even further
based on your recommendations
in this episode and previous episodes.
But what I have not done
is to really think about deload
and to really stick to the structure that I set out
to accomplish across the year.
On the topic of deload,
for me, the deload has been
when I get overwhelmed with work or I’ve gotten sick.
I don’t tend to get sick that often,
but every once in a while I’ll get knocked back
with a cold or a flu.
Once every three or four years,
I seem to really get hammered
with a fever inducing something or other.
And then I’m bedridden for a couple of days
and then I’m back at it.
And I tend to come back rather slowly
and that tends to be my week off.
But I’m beginning to wonder
whether or not part of the reason I hit those streaks
of being overwhelmed by sickness or by stress
is that I have not done a deload period.
So one of the things that I’m going to immediately implement
is a periodic deload
according to the program that you described.
And I’m also going to start matching my specific goals
for each quarter with time of year.
I don’t think I’ve done that
and it’s not because I live in California.
And by the way, folks, there are temperature variations
and amount of light across the day variations
in California as well,
although they are not as dramatic
as they would be near the North Pole, for instance.
But of course, some of the listeners are at the equator,
so they have the opposite issue.
In any event, I’m definitely going to do that.
I’m going to start incorporating regular deload periods.
And I am going to be very dedicated,
very disciplined about sticking to a program
for three months devoted mainly to hypertrophy,
then a three-month program devoted to fat loss,
then a program devoted to aerobic output,
and then one devoted to endurance.
Although I must say it’s very tempting for me
to do a very specific strength dedicated portion
because I don’t tend to be particularly strong.
I’m not weak, but I’m not particularly strong.
So I might consult with you
as to how I could vary endurance and strength.
In any event, I love the idea of a macro structure,
and I love the idea of deloads in anticipation
of being able to go further in the long run
in terms of results.
I’m hoping this next year,
because we’re just on the cusp of a new year,
will be the first year in which I don’t find myself
getting some bug or virus or whatever it happens to be
from time to time
and having to back off on training for that reason.
And that prompts a question.
It’s something that I want to get into in more detail
with you when you describe recovery in an upcoming episode.
But a couple of quick questions,
maybe there’s some short or shortish answers
you could provide.
If I’m not feeling well,
like I really had a poor night’s sleep,
maybe just two to four hours of sleep for whatever reason,
train or don’t train?
That’s the first question.
Second question is if I’m starting to feel
a little bit of a throat tickle
and I’m in that phase of denial,
like I don’t get sick, I’m not getting sick,
and would I be better off bundling up some hot liquids,
getting into bed, sleeping a little bit more, et cetera,
and protecting myself against that
or would I be better off training?
And then the third question is
if I’ve already succumbed to a bug,
but it’s not a severe bug,
I don’t have elevated body temperature, so no fever,
I’m not hacking up and not productive cough
or anything like that,
but I’m feeling just kind of not well,
head cold-ish sort of thing comes to mind
and it’s not seasonal allergies,
train or don’t train?
Leaving aside the point of whether or not
I’m in a position to get anyone else sick
because obviously that’s a bad idea.
Okay, so lack of sleep,
I would say 30 to 40% of one’s typical sleep
the previous night, train or no train?
Starting to feel like one might be getting ill.
And then the third category is coming back from being sick.
Thanks, and sorry for the extended question,
but I wanna make sure there was enough detail there
because I think these are three common scenarios.
We are going to cover that in the recovery conversation
that’s next in detail
and I will give you very specific guidelines
and we’ll have plenty of time to go into that.
The quick answer is it comes back
to what phase of training you’re in.
Now, to walk through each scenario.
If it is a crummy night of sleep
and I am in a phase of training
in which we are trying to cause adaptation,
I have a lot of space in my schedule
and I’m really using this time to make progress
because I know coming up soon,
my schedule will change and my time to train will go down.
I’m still training.
I might use a bunch of tricks that we have
for feeling better instantaneously.
We call these little hacks.
These are acute hacks.
These are not chronic hacks.
I’m gonna push the base.
If it is really close to a deload week,
say it’s Wednesday and I start my deload next week,
or this is not one bad night of sleep.
This has been four bad nights of sleep
in the last five days.
This has been six kind of crummy nights
over the course of the last nine
and you’re starting to see a larger pattern
and that’s a different answer.
So the question we’re going to ask ourself is,
is this acute or is this a tendency
or actually a chronic thing?
If it’s acute and we’re close,
we’re gonna train through it.
If it’s acute and this is not a phase of training
where we’re trying to really push,
then maybe we back off a little bit.
If it’s the opposite though,
we need to probably make some changes
and give ourselves some recovery.
This may include anything from a moderate training session.
Maybe I’m gonna go in the sauna and sit through that
and then do some breathing drills and some mobility stuff.
All right, great.
Maybe I’m gonna, again, go to the gym
and ride the bike at 50% heart rate.
Something restorative like that.
Gives you a little bit of energy
but doesn’t beat you down.
That’s probably where we’re learning.
If you’re feeling sick and you think it’s coming,
I’m probably going to do option two as well,
which is some sort of restorative training.
So again, this tends to be moderate, could be weights,
could be any of this stuff.
Maybe you’re gonna go out for your swim
but we’re not going to push past probably about 70%.
We can absolutely induce immunosuppression
with excessive training.
And so you may wanna walk out of that.
The last case, which was I think phase number three,
you said there, which is sort of like
I got a pretty gnarly cold right now.
Am I gonna train?
Most of the time for most people,
I’m just gonna say, just shut it down.
Get out of there.
If you’re not gonna be able to get productivity done there,
you may be better off either going and sleeping,
catching up on work, doing other stuff
so that the next time we go to train, you don’t feel behind
and we can give a good solid effort for it.
So I know other people who will train right through it.
I tend to not to be totally frank.
If I’m feeling kind of junky, I’m really not gonna train.
I may actually probably do some hot water immersion.
So bath, jacuzzi, things like that.
I actually like those better than I like sauna.
If one is ill or you just like them better
than sauna generally.
Oh my, first person ever met or come on this podcast
to say you like baths and jacuzzi more than sauna.
I may even do some ice, probably not a ton though,
cause you gotta be careful there.
That’s a big stressor.
And if you’re already over the line,
you may be adding a pass there.
Or I may go sleep.
If I’m feeling very, very, very sleepy
and sometimes depending on what kind of a bug you get,
that can happen, I will just sleep.
And that might be the best choice you have.
If that means you kick the cold half a day earlier,
then you just won in the aggregate.
So those are probably, it’s a little bit of inside
of the algorithm that I’m running with those things.
Those are highly informative answers.
I look forward to our discussion about recovery
so that we can go into even more depth on how to recover.
The last thing I do want to say here
is kind of going back to our quarter system.
The examples I gave with the bulking up, losing fat
and then getting into better fitness
and cardiovascular fitness at the end.
Those were just samples.
Friends, please don’t take that literally.
If you want to emphasize strength more,
put in some more strength.
If you want to emphasize a different one
of our nine adaptations, great, do that too.
If you’re somebody who has a lot of body fat to lose,
then maybe put that for two consecutive sessions
or every other, you can modify them.
We’ve talked about nine very specific training adaptations
as well as in fat loss.
I only gave you four, which is just meant to be a sample
that you can roll in or out, but use those priorities
to adjust that system according
to what is important for you now,
five years and then 45 years down the line
for whatever that may be.
So if you are absolutely free to modify the order,
you’re absolutely free to modify the primary outcome
and then adjust the specifics within each quarter
based upon what is needed to do to optimize that outcome.
I think maybe one more tool we can offer people
is maybe giving the individual week
a little bit more structure.
So the system I laid out is sort of like month by month
and maybe we can lay out,
say a three day a week workout program
and a four day a week program that would still hit some
of the same well-rounded adaptations
that probably covers maybe not individualized per bucket
that we’ve talked about A, B and C,
but it’s gonna cover 75, 80% of what would need
to occur in all three buckets.
And then you can use that last 25%
for your individual goal or specialization.
So maybe we can jump into that next.
Great, let’s hear it.
The first one I wanna give you is just a basic
three day split that again, same idea.
It’s a well-rounded exercise program.
I actually wrote this all in an article
that is on XPT’s website.
So perhaps we can link directly to that.
I will just jump you straight to the answer.
You can read more about why in details
in that article if you’d like.
But this is day one, day two, day three.
You could do these days where you split them up
actually having say 24 hours in between,
or you could do these back to back.
It doesn’t necessarily matter.
In this particular case, say day one,
you would start off and do a little bit of speed and power.
And then you may finish that
with a little bit of hypertrophy.
Now, if you wanna gain more speed and power,
you just do more of it.
If you wanna maybe just do a little bit to touch it
and you really wanna gain some muscle,
you would do more of an emphasis there.
So the template can stay the same
and you would just increase the amount
of either adaptation, the speed and power stuff,
or the hypertrophy based on how high it is
in your priority list.
Those are combined together
because as we talked about earlier,
they don’t necessarily interfere with each other.
You would do the speed and power stuff first
because it wouldn’t hamper the hypertrophy.
If you did the hypertrophy first in that workout,
it would probably compromise your speed and power.
And in that case,
you would actually not be getting your adaptation.
So day one, you do that.
And that could be a 20 minute workout total
or a two and a half hour up to you.
Then you would come back maybe the next day
or two days later, whatever you’d like to do.
In your second day of exercise,
you would start off with a pure strength protocol
and you would finish that with what I’m calling
just a higher heart rate.
So this could be something like our anaerobic capacity stuff.
It could be the aerobic capacity,
something where you’re getting up
to close to high heart rate.
It could be those 20 second bursts.
It could be a 90 second burst, five minute mile repeats,
anything you like.
You can just sort of plug and play this in.
You’re getting to a spot now
where you’ve had a little bit of speed,
a little bit of strength, a little bit of hypertrophy,
and you’ve touched a high heart rate.
So we’ve checked off most of the boxes already
Our last session then would be more of a steady state,
long duration endurance.
And so a three day week split like that
is gonna be a pretty nice setup
for the average person.
So this could be a Monday, Wednesday, Friday,
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.
What’s happening on the intervening days?
Totally off, if you want it to be.
So I set this up as in the best I can give you,
Andy, is three days.
If you have more, we could certainly improve it,
but this was my worst case scenario.
I’ve got other things in my life.
The most I could do for exercise is three days a week.
And given that it’s three days per week,
how approximately how long
are each of these workouts going to last?
I would do whole body exercises for almost all that.
I would do your full body parts.
And I think you could certainly finish that
in 45 minutes of work time.
A little bit of time to warm up,
some down regulation at the end.
You could be in and out of that gym
in certainly under 60 minutes.
The reality is you could probably be out of there
in under 50 minutes.
The total work time could be 30, 35 once you get going.
So that’s three days.
As you pointed out,
probably more work per week is going to be better
in terms of maximizing goals of aesthetic goals
and performance enhancing goals and longevity goals.
I mean, the numbers that I’ve heard
is that we should all try to get somewhere between 150
and probably more like 180 to 200 minutes
of zone two cardio per week minimum.
But as I recall, you consider zone two cardio
so low intensity that just walking around
qualifies as zone one, zone two cardio.
Yeah, not to take us too far off track,
but I think it’s actually useful to differentiate
what I consider to be exercise and physical activity.
So physical activity is out for a walk.
It is using a walking treadmill while you’re at work.
It is parking farther in the parking lot
and taking more steps.
These are all important.
And what’s clear, you are not going to reach
likely optimal health by only exercising hard
and then sitting around the other 23 and a half hours today.
So it’s very, very important.
Whether you wanna do that in the form of zone one
or zone two and hit 30 minutes a day,
various organizations will say things like that.
You need to have 30 minutes a day
of moderate to low intensity exercise.
I don’t really care.
You can combine it like that if you want.
What you don’t wanna do is just physical activity only,
which is almost always going to be like zone one
to maybe zone two.
You also don’t wanna go the other end of the spectrum,
which is again, like I lift hard three days a week.
And then what do you do the rest of the time?
That’s not optimal either.
And so I guess the system I’ve walked you through here
or the example rather I walked you through is
you would need to maybe supplant that
with being physically active.
If you work, say you’re a nurse and you’re on your feet,
you’re moving up and down,
you’re probably actually covering a decent amount
of your physical activity
because you might be at 15,000 steps a day.
If you’re sitting in front of your computer
and you do this same three day split,
you would probably need to go out of your way
to make sure you’re adding a bunch more steps in.
So you might need to add several hours of walking
to hit that 150, 180 minutes a week of physical activity
because the program I laid out is,
if you’re doing really 45 minutes, three days a week,
maybe 60 minutes, at best you’ve hit 180.
60 minutes times three, 180 a week.
So you might actually need to then throw in
maybe some more specific walks.
So you could do that in a number of ways.
It could be again, actual structured exercise.
It could be simply,
I’m gonna do a 10 minute walk three times a day.
It could be the exercise snacks
that we talked about in a previous episode.
So there’s lots of ways to engage in more physical activity.
But to me, those are different oftentimes
in structured exercise.
I think many people will appreciate
that you put out there for us a three day a week protocol
because many people simply don’t have more time to exercise.
They’re putting emphasis on these other bins
in the quadrant.
And frankly, those other bins are very important as well.
So wonderful that people can check off some critical boxes
for aesthetics and performance and longevity
with three days of work or workouts per week, I should say.
What are some other schedules that people can follow
if they’re willing to dedicate a bit more time
toward their fitness?
If you wanted to do another sample of maybe a four day week.
And again, to clarify this,
I’m really happy you said that.
This is a four day week of structured exercise.
This would not account your physical activity
and moving around.
Which everybody should be doing.
Maybe this is something like day one,
you’re gonna do a strength training session
and you’ll stay in the five to 10 or so repetition range.
A little bit of strength, a little bit of hypertrophy.
You’ve checked off a couple of boxes.
Probably whole body.
So that you get all the body parts covered or close.
We’re looking at generally multi-joint exercises.
Could be a combination of barbells, free weights,
bands, machines, anything like that would be sort of day one.
You could come back the very next day
or you could wait 24 hours.
But the second day of your exercise
would be maybe your long duration.
And this is actually sort of similar to how you set it up.
It’s you do a little bit of the inverse.
But what you’re kind of saying is
I’m probably gonna be a little bit sore from day one
and I don’t have any free body parts that aren’t sore.
So instead of trying to do another lift or something,
I’m just gonna put in some restorative,
longer duration stuff.
Same exact principles for long duration
we just talked about.
Could be a swim.
Could be any number of things.
Could be your sport.
Could be you’re out, ride the bike
and go for a jog in the sun.
Whatever you would like to do.
If you’re feeling better,
maybe that’s a little harder longer.
If you’re feeling pretty beat up from the day before,
maybe that’s a little bit shorter and slower.
You can modify it.
Then maybe you take the next day off or that’s open.
Your third day of exercise is now,
instead of being that five to 10 repetition range
for your lifts,
you do something like 11 to 30 reps range.
Also, this could be exchanged
for something more like body weight,
more muscular endurance type of stuff.
So this is a great day.
Maybe it’s yoga.
Maybe it is a gymnastics thing you’re working on
or any of the many other styles of training
that are not quote unquote lifting weights,
but they’re not just walking and hiking.
So it could be a Pilates or equivalent.
Anything like this
where you’re gonna get some muscular burn in there,
but it’s probably not any additional weight
outside of body weight.
Or if it is, it’s fairly minimal,
five, 10, sort of 15 pounds.
Something like that would be nice.
Could also be done in a circuit.
So we could hit our high heart rate
and we could hit some muscular endurance in there.
Group activity class might be nice here.
Even maybe something like a spin class or a dance class.
All these things could be great.
And then maybe you even finish that
with 10 minutes of some light weights
to hit the body part you say didn’t get.
So maybe you did the dance class
and then you finish and you do 10 minutes
of upper body sets of 30
to make sure you get a nice pump there
because your legs probably got some work
during the dance class, but your upper body didn’t.
So you balance the system out a little bit.
So all body parts got a little bit of muscular endurance.
Your heart rate got really high, came back down,
and you’ve sort of checked both of those boxes.
Now it’s important to remember the hypertrophy episode.
Doing sets of say 15 plus repetitions per set
is as effective as doing sets of five to 10 or 12
for hypertrophy, gaining muscle.
It’s not effective though for strength gains.
So you wouldn’t wanna do this only
because you’d really be doing nothing
to improve your muscle strength.
And you wanna make sure that that box is ticked
at least a little bit.
Then again, you could take the day off after this,
or you could roll right into your fourth exercise day,
which would be your last exercise session of the week.
And you would do something more of like a medium intensity.
So this is a little bit higher intensity
than our second day.
And this could be something like, you know,
shadow boxing or hitting a heavy bag.
It could be a little bit of higher intensity intervals,
but not all the way up.
So maybe this is, you’re gonna do a one minute on,
one minute off on the bike,
but you’re only gonna go to like 85, 90% heart rate.
And then instead of going off during that one minute,
you drop it down to 50%.
So it would actually look like 30 minutes of straight work,
but you would have a little bit of rolling intensity
as opposed to staying really nice and restorative.
It’s gonna be some work there.
And you would finish it with something like
five to six minutes total of max heart rate stuff,
which lines up perfectly with that number
you actually created in our endurance episode
of hitting six minutes total per week
of maximum heart rate or close.
So you could wrap that all up kind of into one session.
You could do those in the inverse order.
Thorough warmup, a few minutes,
whether you wanna do 30 second bursts or a minute burst
or straight five minutes.
This is a protocol I like to use a ton on the assault bike
is simply a good warmup, 10 minutes, solid warmup.
Recover, and then I’m gonna go five minutes
and cover as much distance as I can in five minutes.
It is brutal and it’s amazing.
And you get a lot done in five minutes.
10 minutes on the back of that is a very gradual
bring back to earth there.
I actually, in that case,
I don’t need to do down regulation breathing
because I’ve spent 10 minutes
actually coming way back down.
And the last two minutes or so of that
is very deliberate five second inhale through the nose,
five second exhale through the nose
while I’m barely just moving.
And you end up being in a pretty good spot.
So that again, time-wise could easily be done in 30 minutes
and you’d be rounded off there.
So the nice part about this four day a week split
as well as the three day a week split
is it does give you a little bit of flexibility.
And so what I mean is maybe Monday
your plan is to do the day one lift.
And then any number of things popped up in life,
you shipped it back to Tuesday.
Rather than saying like Monday is leg day
and then all of a sudden something happened,
you missed leg day.
It’s just you’re doing these things in order
and you would like to get all four done in a seven day span.
But if it doesn’t happen, fine.
The next day you get the workout,
you just go right back into the next workout.
And it doesn’t matter what day they land on exactly.
For the three day routine that works very nice
because the assumption there
is you really only have time for three workouts a week.
And so that’s sort of implicit
is there’s probably some chaos happening
in the schedule a little bit.
And you don’t really have the ability
to lock in three days per week.
If that’s not the case, you can go.
But we’re trying to listen to the pain points
that people have with exercise
and see if we can give them some solutions for those.
Several things about this program are attractive to me.
One of them you just mentioned,
which is that by not rigidly attaching individual workouts
just to specific days of the week,
one in theory could say,
okay, I didn’t get that much sleep last night.
I don’t feel, I know that a lot of people say,
what is feel?
But I don’t feel recovered
or like I’m gonna get that much out of the workout tomorrow
or today, so I’m just gonna push it forward a day.
And the ability to slide workouts forward or back by a day
I think is incredibly valuable for the consistency sake.
I also really like this idea
of some of the long duration work coming a day
after hitting the strength and a bit of hypertrophy work.
So this would be the day two.
One thing that I’ve experienced over and over
is that if I’m very sore in a given muscle group,
especially my legs, doing some low intensity cardio,
whether or not it’s a jog or on the bike,
typically for me, it’s a jog or even skipping rope
and then walking, skipping rope and walking
does seem to dissipate the soreness.
I’m sure there’s a mechanism for everything, frankly.
But I like that arrangement.
And then I also like this idea
of making sure that there’s a workout for muscular endurance
because I feel like unless I’ve been stuck
without a good gym or I’ve decided
to specifically train body weight exercise,
which I did a few years ago,
I got really excited about some of Pavel Satsulin’s work.
Great stuff, yeah, amazing.
The Naked Warrior, which doesn’t involve training naked,
although I suppose you could if you wanted,
but it was really about no weights
and involved building up to pistol squats
and one-arm pushups and things of that sort,
even doing pull-ups on doors.
And I’ve discovered that some door frames
are much stronger than others in hotels.
I just accidentally caused some damage there.
But in any case, muscular endurance,
I think is a really interesting one
that I plan to incorporate into my schedule.
But that is, I think is one that’s often overlooked
unless people really have an aversion
to weights and to machines.
You’re right, it shouldn’t be
because it’s pretty low-hanging fruit.
You don’t need a lot of equipment for it typically.
It doesn’t hurt that bad.
You don’t often get that sore out of it
and you’re gonna feel a nice, wonderful pump afterwards.
So it’s great, and as we discussed many times now,
it is quite effective at hypertrophy.
Yeah, I also, I don’t know if they fit specifically
with muscular endurance, but if you look at the physiques,
for example, on rock climbers,
I mean, they have, to me, of course they have,
usually the experienced climbers
have pretty remarkable body compositions.
They tend to be lean and lithe and flexible,
all those things that many people aspire to.
The other thing is their development
always looks exceedingly balanced.
You don’t really tend to see climbers
that are overdeveloped in the torso
and underdeveloped in the arms
or overdeveloped in the arms despite all the climbing
and underdeveloped relatively in the other limb movement.
That’s true for women and men.
It’s not a sport that I participate in,
but it seems like what they’re doing
is essentially muscular endurance training.
Yeah, so there’s really something there to be valued.
So that’s a four-day-a-week schedule
with off days or rest days inserted as needed
and then just continuing.
For those that are a bit more committed to their fitness
and want to do a five or six-day-a-week program,
would you recommend just collapsing some of the off days,
paying more attention to recovery
and cycling through more quickly?
You could combine that and just run that,
either one of those programs.
So you could run that three-day-a-week program back to back.
Get that done in six days.
So day one, speed, power, hypertrophy.
Day two, strength, work with elevated heart rate,
And day three, endurance,
and then just cycle through again.
You take day four off of the week
and then you go back again.
So we’d be having the six days of exercise,
one day off, and you’d be getting
every one of those adaptations in multiple times a week.
That is almost exactly how I would set up
a six-day-a-week program.
Great, I love the elegance and the simplicity of that
and the thoroughness of it,
because it checks off so many,
if not all of the nine major adaptations to exercise
that we’ve been talking about these episodes.
And I suppose the one thing that I want to highlight
and pose this also as a question
is that early in our discussions in a previous episode,
you mentioned that so much of what people think of
and apply as it relates to resistance training
is borrowed from bodybuilding
and hypertrophy training specifically,
which typically involves getting close to failure
or failure, sometimes even involving rest, pause,
where you hit failure,
then set the weight down for a few seconds
and repeat these high-intensity techniques,
accentuating the negative, so-called eccentric, et cetera.
In hearing about these protocols of three-day-a-week
or four-day-a-week, six-day-a-week,
it’s very clear to me that if one is not careful
to omit that kind of thinking
and suddenly is taking their strength work
and speed work to failure,
or is pushing too hard on muscular endurance
to the point where you’re just grinding out
that very last pushup on every set,
that the amount of soreness and the amount of recovery
that results from these workouts
might start to cause progress issues.
So one thing that’s in the back of my mind is,
as you’ve described these programs,
is that even though some of them are very brief
or involve a minimum of time commitment,
in particular the three-day-a-week,
but also the four-day-a-week schedule,
there is a discipline involved in making sure
that you stick to the workout
that you’re supposed to do that day
and not go ham, as they say,
and just throw in a couple extra sets
of bicep curls and tricep pushes
because you want to do that
and you thought maybe you could get away with that,
but you have to come back pretty quickly
and do some serious, meaning devoted,
speed and power work or strength work.
And if you haven’t been disciplined
about not doing certain forms of exercise,
I could see how the whole thing could crash quickly
and one could think, oh, this is just too much work
or it’s not for me.
So this, I suppose, is now where the question comes,
which is what are some of the key points
that people need to keep in mind
when they embrace a program?
How rigidly do they need to stay attached to,
today’s endurance day, I’m just doing endurance.
Today’s strength day, I’m just doing strength work.
I’m not going to take things
to absolute failure or beyond failure.
I am absolutely happy with anyone modifying
any of the sample programs, however they would like to.
My only recommendation for the question you just posed
would be set your program
and then if you’re going to make a change, fine,
but that is a change to your program.
In other words, don’t just make decisions
every single day and make changes.
If you’re doing that, you might as well not have a program
and as we described earlier, there is clear evidence
that having a program is better than not,
regardless of the effectiveness of the program
and so my general comment to that is,
okay, fine, a day or two, you made some modifications.
We’re in a situation now where it’s like
you’re basically changing the workout every day as you go.
Then we just need to write a new program.
We need to reassess where we’re at
because we need to have some structure.
But the reality of it is, I change the programming
I’m going to do the day of often
because of any number of situations,
I just don’t feel like it.
I way overestimated today.
We talked a little bit in a previous episode
about auto-regulation, which is a style of periodization
and program design, which you’re adjusting
based on how you’re actually feeling that day,
but with some specific structure.
So you’re gonna take some measurements that day
and adjust, so auto-regulation is a very,
very effective tool.
You just need to make sure that that auto is dialed.
In other words, is it because your body
actually needed something different
or is it because you’re now just getting a little bit lazy?
Now you’re just not feeling like it today.
So there’s a little bit of an impossible line to draw there.
Both scenarios are real, gray area.
A lot is real in the moment.
And so you just need to be a little bit aware
of having some reality check, listening to your body,
but then also being like, hey, no, I’m talking to you.
I’m telling you this is the plan, we’re going to do this
and staying within it.
It is going to be challenging to progressively overload
and therefore get a higher likelihood of success
at your training program.
If you’re just making decisions and changing the program
right before you work out, you’re probably not,
you’re probably going, for most people,
you’re probably going to choose less or off
more so than you choose more.
Now, having said that, there are more than a few clients
that have come through our programs
where they choose more always.
They add a set, they add an exercise,
they add another workout and that can be okay,
but we’re going to track various markers on them.
And if we see these things consistently going down,
we’re going to identify whether they are,
which phase of this overtraining thing we’ll talk about next
they’re actually in.
Some phases I’m okay, some of them I’m not.
If we’re seeing certain things happen physiologically,
we’re going to make a conversation.
We’re also then going to really think carefully
about why are you making this choice?
Do you feel like the training isn’t enough?
Okay, great, well, let’s modify it then.
Are you not making progress?
Or are there some other reasons why you’re doing this?
Obviously, I’m not a psychologist or therapist,
but there are clearly situations in which folks
and dose themselves with far too much exercise
for reasons that are not
because it’s productive to their training or goals.
And if such case, we would probably bring in somebody
that specializes in those areas to clear that out
and just make sure it’s like,
we’re not doing this for anxiety issues or energy things.
Like if it’s, I just don’t think the program’s enough.
Okay, great, let’s go back.
Let’s look at our metrics.
Let’s evaluate our tests and go there.
But if there’s other reasons,
then we may bring in somebody to have that conversation.
Usually when I’ve seen people deviate from programs,
it’s because they tend to revert to something
that they’ve done for a long time.
It just feels really comfortable to them.
And it worked.
And it was giving them decent results.
So they’re skeptical to try something else.
Or there is a phenotype of kind of haphazardness sometimes,
especially if people get really caffeinated
before workout and just want to throw something in.
And then there’s a third category.
And this is one that I’ve had to contend with a lot
in my life, which is that I really enjoy training
with other people when I have the opportunity.
And a certain day rolls around
where you’re supposed to do something
and not do other things.
And people say, hey, do you want to go for a long ocean swim
or you want to train?
And you end up doing some, you know,
Kenny Kane, this one’s for you,
some ridiculous, you know, 20 wall ball,
CrossFit type workout.
And I’m not acclimated for that sort of thing.
And then it does tend to throw things off.
Not because, no pun intended, Kenny,
because there’s nothing wrong with a 20 sets of wall balls
if that’s part of your conditioning.
But if it’s not appropriate for where you are
in your schedule, it really can disrupt
what you’re trying to do.
Even as a non-competitive athlete like myself,
it’s years since I’ve competed in any athletic program,
but as a non-competitive athlete,
I think there’s a beauty to,
and a really strong incentive to being disciplined
about the program that one follows.
As a mentor and professor that I worked with years ago
used to say, I’d come into his office,
all these ideas and things I want to do.
And he’d say, let’s constrain this walk.
And then, you know, the question you always want to arrive
at in a discussion with your students, as you know,
is what’s the experiment exactly?
And then you go and you do that specific experiment.
I think I view a workout the same way,
that there are multiple adaptations, goals,
and things that people are trying to achieve,
really knowing why you’re there each time
and really sticking to that.
Even if it means not training with other people,
or I always say, well, you can train with me,
but I’m not going to train with you.
So that’s one way to do it.
But really sticking to a schedule
is really what allows the progress to emerge.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean being antisocial.
You can invite people along,
but in this case, I’m telling people to be the host,
not the guest.
I have a little bit of a rule here.
Maybe I should answer your question this way.
I actually like doing things totally different occasionally.
So I’ll do, when I’m traveling,
I tend to do hotel workouts.
What I mean by that is,
I will go down to the workout room
and I will do a set of 10 to 15 reps
of every single machine in the exact order
in which they are laid out.
Just for the sake of fun.
Like just for the sake of like, okay.
It’s like the tarot card version of workouts.
Like whatever comes up, I’m going to make sense of it.
And you just move.
And those are typically things of like,
I just want to move a little bit for jet lag
and other sort of purposes, right?
That’s often like, I wasn’t going to get to workout today.
So now I’m going to do something to feel great.
I don’t travel that much though.
So it’s not really throwing my things off.
I also, I don’t get a lot of free time.
And so if I am traveling
and I’m seeing someone I haven’t seen in many years
or for the first time,
I mean, we got to train together this week for the first time.
I’m not going to burn that opportunity.
My rule is this though.
I’m not going to do something
that’s going to cost me more than three days.
So I’m absolutely happy to get out there
and maybe tomorrow morning or tonight,
we go do something fun that’s off my schedule.
I’m in, I’m in a hundred percent.
I’m just going to down regulate a little bit.
I’m not going to maybe do as much as you
or as hard as you or whatever.
I’ll do more than I should.
But if it costs me tomorrow, it was worth the exchange.
I don’t have a world record I’m setting anytime soon.
I don’t have, I got many years.
I’m happy to give up a couple of days of exercise
and be a little sore than I need to be
for the exchange of a lifetime memory.
And this stuff is so important to me.
This stuff lands is like true lifetime memory.
So I can look back.
Many of my fond memories from my life
are our training sessions with friends,
whatever it is, like doing jujitsu
with somebody who’s a world champion.
We just like totally, whatever the thing is, right?
You’re like, that was really, really cool.
Absolutely worth missing two days.
If it’s going to be more than three days though,
where like, I’m going to be so wrecked.
I can’t work out for five or six days.
Then I’m probably like, all right, that’s kind of nonsense.
Unless it’s just like an opportunity where I’m like,
I absolutely can’t pass up, you know?
So that’s kind of how I think about it.
That doesn’t happen too often with me though,
maybe once a month.
And so I’m like, okay, I’m fine, I lost a day.
Reality of it is, it’s probably more like once a quarter
that that happens, so I don’t really care.
So you do want to balance joy and life.
You don’t want to be so rigid about your training program
that it ruins and robs those experience.
Physical activity should be fun.
Your fitness and your training should be something
that makes your life better, not some task
you have to get done so that 75 years from now,
you’ve hit some metric of who knows what.
Just alone in your room with your training logs.
No, in all seriousness,
I think you point to the richness of life
and you can draw these boxes like work,
relationships, fitness, recovery,
but the boundaries between those boxes are blurry
because, and I should say, I love training with you.
I greatly enjoyed training with you this morning,
not just because I was receiving so many useful tips.
In fact, thank you.
It’s the first time I’ve PR’d in a number of things today.
Thanks to your input in the moment,
that’s a replaceable kind of gift,
but mostly it’s the gift of getting to train
with a colleague and friend.
So I want to underscore, highlight,
and put an exclamation mark behind what you just said.
Thank you once again and again
for giving us so much interesting, clear, actionable,
and at times somewhat counterintuitive information
in order to build out an exceptional training program
to meet any of, and in some cases,
all of the nine major adaptations that exercise can create
toward aesthetic, performance-related,
and healthspan-lifespan, aka longevity goals.
That’s really a treasure trove of information there.
And I look forward to our next discussion
about how to best recover from exercise,
both within the exercise bout and between exercise bouts,
and in the more macroscopic structure
of a week, a month, a year.
I can’t wait.
Yeah, I can’t wait either.
I love that topic and I’ve got a lot to cover,
so it’ll be fun.
Thank you so much for joining us.
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with Dr. Andy Galpin.
And as always, thank you for your interest in science.