Mike: [00:00:04] Hello and welcome to episode 14 of the How To Become A Personal Trainer podcast, where your host Mike Vacanti.

Jordan: [00:00:09] My name’s Jordan Syatt. And today, first of all, we started off talking about some just interesting stuff, stocks, personal finance–

Mike: [00:00:16] Talked about what’s going on in the world right now.

Jordan: [00:00:18] Yeah, it was good. Quarantine thoughts and things, how you can improve your business during this time.

Mike: [00:00:23] And then we moved on to part two of the muscle building pyramid series.

Jordan: [00:00:26] Yeah, it was really good. We hope you enjoyed it. If you didn’t listen to the first episode, please go back and listen to it. It was not the last one, it was the one before that. And then we finish off the muscle building pyramid today and we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Mike: [00:00:36] Enjoy.

Hello, Jordan.

Jordan: [00:00:46] Hello Michael

Mike: [00:00:47] How are you?

Jordan: [00:00:48] Feeling good now, now that you helped me out with understanding the stocks and how all that works.

Mike: [00:00:54] Yeah, these are crazy times.

Jordan: [00:00:56] Oh my dear Lord.

Mike: [00:00:57] I know. Jordan and I were talking about investing and just how important it is early on to do your best to spend as little as you can live on and how much that’s going to help give you security in the future, potentially for times like we’re in right now.

Jordan: [00:01:20] This is one of my favorite things to talk to you about, not only because I know nothing about it, but because you know a lot about it and it’s like super helpful to hear you talk about this stuff and it– I mean, for me, no one ever taught me about stocks, no one ever taught me about the market. I mean, no one ever really taught me about money in general. So, to talk to you about it and hear you explain how things work, why it makes sense to save, compound interest, how this stuff works over time, it paints a clearer picture for me and it takes a lot of the stress and anxiety out of it. Because I usually have a lot of stress about that stuff.

What you don’t know, you don’t know, and it creates this anxiety and fear. So, when you break it down and just understanding a little bit of saving, a little bit of saving, a little bit of saving, it compounds over time, really helps.

Mike: [00:02:08] Thank you. I really appreciate that. And the thing about you is your actions and your behavior and your lifestyle, which is literally, “work really hard to help a lot of people,” and you don’t live lavishly whatsoever.

Jordan: [00:02:23] Yeah, I spend next to nothing.

Mike: [00:02:24] You’re very minimalistic in your spending habits. That over time just leads to good things. Like, even if you didn’t– I mean you have investments, but even if you didn’t have any investments, you’d still be in a good position executing on that over time.

Jordan: [00:02:40] Right, yeah.

I’m going to ask this for me, but also for anybody listening: right now, with how crazy everything is, especially in terms of investments or in terms of stocks or in terms of savings, like, what would you recommend people be doing right now or looking for? What might be a good idea to keep their eye out for at this point in time?

Mike: [00:03:03] It’s so funny because hearing you ask that, knowing we’re on the podcast, I feel less comfortable giving an answer than the actions that I’m taking for myself or what I’m suggesting for you.

Jordan: [00:03:16] Got it. ‘Cause you don’t want to be wrong or something?

Mike: [00:03:19] And I just know both of our situations better than the average person.

What I’m doing personally right now is trying to cut expenses down even further than they ever have been, just with the uncertainty.

Jordan: [00:03:34] Food, essentials — just bare essentials.

Mike: [00:03:36] Exactly. Like, food choices I’m making. I mean, obviously eating out just isn’t a thing anymore- or for now.

I have bought some — not individual stocks, I don’t buy stocks, I buy what are called index funds, which are a lower risk. An index fund is a bucket of stocks. You can think of it as instead of owning one company and something bad could happen in that company, or something really good could have happened in that company and you could make a huge return or you could lose a lot of money on that one company. Rather than owning a single company, an index fund is a group of companies, is how you can think of it.

So, you’re going to have companies that do well in that group and companies that don’t do as well, but your variance or your chance of something really bad happening is much lower.

Jordan: [00:04:30] Is there only one index fund to choose from?

Mike: [00:04:32] No, there’s tons.

Jordan: [00:04:33] How do you know which one to choose?

Mike: [00:04:35] I go off of what someone very smart told me.

Jordan: [00:04:38] Got it. Okay.

Mike: [00:04:40] Vanguard is one of, if not the most reputable brokerages and they have various index funds that are, one, very low expense, and this is getting very into the nitty gritty, but you want an index fund with a low expense because what that means is Vanguard isn’t really actively managing that fund. They’re not taking a lot of time to determine which companies go into that group in which don’t.

And so, they’re not charging you for that service because they’re just leaving it that way. Whereas some companies will charge you various amounts, 0.5%, 1%, 2% to actively manage that fund for you. Which, they’re going to sell you on the idea that that’s gonna make you more money in the long run, but it’s probably not.

Jordan: [00:05:36] Really?

Wow. So, they’re literally selling you on a service, then they’re selling you on the idea that because we’re giving this service, it will actually help you long run, make you more money, but it literally might not even help with that?

Mike: [00:05:52] It might help with that and it might not help with that. I mean, there’s certain very intelligent individuals; Ray Dalio, who’s the founder and CEO of Bridgewater, which is a giant hedge fund, like, if he’d came and knocked on the door right now, and he was like, “Hey. I’ll charge you 2% to manage your money.”

I would say, “absolutely, please. Take it.” I would let him. But your average, you know, buddy that went to your high school that you were kind of friends with, who hits you up 10 years later and you know, “Hey, how you doing? Want to get a coffee?” And then you see what he does and he’s like, “we have a really special asset and if you invest in this, you only have to pay these fees.”

I’m not trusting that guy or his company to be able to do things that are gonna outperform the market enough to make back the extra 1% or 2% or whatever they’re charging. So VOO is a Vanguard ETF that closely mirrors the S&P 500 index, which is one of the main indexes. VTI — these are the tickers — so if you wanted to go to Yahoo! Finance and search these, you can see their performance over time.

Jordan: [00:07:12] You just said like 12 words I don’t know. VOO, ticker…

Mike: [00:07:16] They’re literally just letters. Like, the Facebook’s ticker, if you wanted to look up how Facebook stock is doing, is FB.

Jordan: [00:07:25] Oh, got it. So, it’s like the abbreviation.

Mike: [00:07:28] Yeah, exactly.

Jordan: [00:07:29] Got it. Okay.

Literally, my mind immediately goes all to exercise analogies. So, when you were being like, “yeah, it’s like it’s a company and you got a bucket, so you either invest in one or you could get a bucket of companies.” In my mind, I was like, okay, cool. So, you could either deadlift, or you could deadlift and do RDLs and do hip thrusts. You can either focus everything on one exercise or get a bunch of exercises.

Mike: [00:07:53] That’s exactly right except that a deadlift is better for you than most other exercises, whereas in this it would be like if all the exercises were pretty much the same.

Jordan: [00:08:09] Got it. Okay. All right, so all exercises equal, you’d rather have a bunch of different exercises than just one.

Mike: [00:08:16] Yes.

Jordan: [00:08:17] That makes sense.

Mike: [00:08:18] Yeah.

But I mean, this market is probably going to go lower and I have no idea what’s going to happen.

Jordan: [00:08:26] No one does, right?

Mike: [00:08:28] Yeah. Right now, all I’m focused on is what I can do as an individual for society, which is: stay home, which is a super easy, wash my hands, be smart, talk to my loved ones, encourage and reassure the people around me that this is going to be okay and we’re going to get through this.

But then something that you and I have spoken about: what I can do for myself on like the self-improvement, business, helping other people, working hard during this time of fear. I know I was just telling you that for the first time in a long time, I got my Instagram DMs zero, which I feel good about. Haven’t been on that app in about a month.

Jordan: [00:09:12] You’re just like, for whatever reason, right now you’re feeling super optimistic and excited about, like, I don’t know about content, but like just in general about work–

Mike: [00:09:21] About life.

Well, so part of motivation around work is baked in a little bit of fear, like, you know, and trainers listening to this, Jordan and I are in unbelievably fortunate positions that the majority, if not all of our work, is online, which puts us in a position where we’re much less effected by something like social distancing. Whereas I know many coaches who literally have either had their in-person client basis completely to zero for now or have been let go from gyms because the gyms can’t afford to pay their salaries anymore.

We’re just in a way more fortunate position than they are right now,

Jordan: [00:10:04] Which might bring up a good question of like, so what do you do? What do you do right now if– I mean, regardless of whether you’re in a great position or in the worst position, what do we do? What do you do at a time like this?

I mean, let’s say for example, you’re in a really bad position, you don’t have in person clients, and all of a sudden you have all this extra time. Where do they focus their time? That might be a good discussion to have before we get into the muscle building stuff.

Mike: [00:10:35] Yeah, I mean, it’s so topical and we’re both very interested in it.

The thoughts that come to mind for me are– well, they’re dependent on who’s listening.

Jordan: [00:10:46] Right, of course. And where they are, all that stuff.

Mike: [00:10:48] And what’s going on. But, say you were coaching in-person and doing that full time and now you have way more hours and you’re at home, what could you or should you be doing?

The things that come to mind for me are self-education, helping others online — so, content — working on your own fitness. I know a lot of people are taking a route of, you know, “let’s just maintain through this difficult period because it’s so stressful and people are struggling with mental issues to the point where focusing on fitness is hurting them.”

I know there are other people who are taking this as an opportunity where, “I’m at home, I have these dumbbells that go up to 50, I only have healthy foods in my fridge because that’s what I prepped for, why don’t I see what kind of progress I can make in the next couple months?” And obviously coaches don’t have to be walking around stage-lean, but if you have had fitness goals that you’ve struggled with recently, making some progress on those is something that you could do during this time.

Jordan: [00:11:55] Yeah, I think right now is probably the perfect time for some type of a challenge. And I’m speaking about this from the perspective of, both with the Big Mac challenge and the Carnivore challenge, I see a radical increase in the interest in what I’m doing and people following.

It was very cool, especially with the Big Mac challenge, ’cause it went for a month and it had more leeway than the Carnivore, was people were so interested in what I was doing. They were super excited to see my weigh ins and they were with Carnivore as well, but when you have all this time, essentially document what you’re doing in some form of a challenge.

I literally just started the new one today, the 300 pushups a day challenge. Like, we’ll see how that goes. It’s different in the sense of, I’m not tracking my weight with it, I’m not tracking anything like my nutrition, but it’s another challenge for people to take part in with you and for people to have a reason to follow you and to keep up to date with what you’re doing.

You know, I remember the first time I ever– I worked with Martin Berkhan when I was 18 and I was like, I want to get shredded. I remember the first time I did that, and that one experience taught me more than any amount of school, any amount of research papers, like, that experience of doing it myself taught me so much that then turned into a lifetime of content.

And it doesn’t have to be just around getting shredded. It could be around anything. It could be around keeping your budget under X amount for groceries and teaching people how to budget groceries this time. Like, how to eat healthy on a budget would make a great challenge.

Could be around body weight exercises, it could be around getting shredded if you want it to be, it could be around doing a one-arm push up, could be around doing pistol squats. There’s so many challenges you could do, but I think right now doing a challenge for yourself to get a certain result and have people watch as you do it, it’s probably one of the best things that you could do right now.

Mike: [00:14:04] Yeah. It would help you on so many levels depending on what the challenge is — help you personally with whatever you’re accomplishing, gives you ideas for content that’s very engaging, it also gives you a very nice piece of content on the backend, depending on how you’re documenting it or how you want to, you know, like your Carnivore and your Big Mac challenges are both, you can put together really nice headlines.

So, something like a, “I was locked inside and quit caffeine for 30 days,” or whatever you want to try. Yeah, that’s a great idea.

Jordan: [00:14:43] I think it’s great.

The one thing that I do, and we actually spoke about this a little bit last night with the group in the Mentorship, I think this is worth discussing:

I have seen, I saw more of it today, I have seen some coaches with big online presences essentially saying right now is the time where you need to start selling, start making sales funnels, start getting landing pages, start selling, selling, selling. I’m not going to say it’s wrong because–

Mike: [00:15:17] I will.

Jordan: [00:15:20] The reason I won’t say it’s wrong is for the individuals who might already have a large audience, a trusted audience, a loyal audience who are ready and willing to buy, then you might be able to make some sales right now. And that’d be great. Fine.

For the vast majority of people, and even if you do have that audience, I don’t think right now is the best time to sell. I don’t think right now is the best time to be trying to sell, sell, sell, number one, because it’s usually being done out of fear right now.

A lot of people trying to sell right now are doing it from a place of fear and anxiety and worry and uncertainty about what’s going to happen, “and I just want to make money right now because things seem to have stopped.” It is a very dangerous place to go when you’re trying to sell out of fear.

And I know — Mike and I have spoken about this a lot, and we’ll talk about this right now — I think the best thing you can do is spend this period of time, and who knows how long it’s going to be? Could be a month, could be six months, could be more. Spend this period of time going out of your way to help people for free and on the backend of it, it will help them and help you when you do have something to sell after all this whole mess is over.

Mike: [00:16:32] Yeah. We’re so in agreement on this.

I’m trying to think of– there are definitely people who only have the luxury to do that for a certain amount of time, right? Like, if you absolutely need money and you have a little bit of an audience, then you should sell. Or if there’s another way that you can generate income, do it. But if you can weather this storm with your savings or with other income streams, even if they’ve come down a little bit, if you can get through this period of time, people are going to remember you helping them for free as much as you could to get through a period in their life that was very difficult.

Jordan: [00:17:29] 100%. And again, there are so many options that you have with this. I have seen a lot of people doing the homework outs on Instagram and I’ll say again, something is better than nothing, right?

Mike: [00:17:43] Dude, I designed, I made every client, I mean 80% of my coaching clients at-home workouts. Like, they were highly in demand, which makes sense why every single coach is making them because people need them.

Jordan: [00:17:59] I would say, you know, something is better than nothing, just as the same way walking five minutes is better than walking no minutes. I do think right now is a really good time to figure out a way to stand out on social media, to stand apart from everybody else. And I won’t say don’t do home body weight workouts on Instagram, but I will say, don’t only do that, especially when everyone else is doing that because I think here’s something that’s important remember, especially about workouts and Instagram stuff: if everyone else is doing it, it will get to a point when people will see your workouts and they might see the post, but they won’t actually look through the workout, and if they do look through it, they won’t even try it.

I think one of the most important pieces of content has to be the practical application of it. If you’re giving workouts, but people aren’t actually doing them, then they’re not going to get the benefit of it and they’re not going to think highly of that workout, and subsequently you.

Thinking of the type of content you can make that will be practically applicable and useful to people, that they’ll actually do is the most important thing.

And I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you either have a YouTube channel that’s a very small audience, or you don’t have a YouTube channel yet. I would rather you start a YouTube channel with zero followers and get 20 followers on your YouTube channel so that you get 20 people doing your body weight workouts that you post on YouTube as opposed to putting them on Instagram where everybody is posting them and having, even if you have, I don’t know, 1,000 or 5,000 followers and essentially nobody doing them.

I would rather fewer people actually do them than nobody do them. I would rather a few people do them on a platform where you have fewer  followers than nobody do them on a platform where you have more followers. Because imagine if you have 20 people doing them on your YouTube channel and 10 of those, 15 of those sign up with you for one-on-one after all, this is over. Versus nobody signing up with you for one-on-one because no one actually tried them on Instagram.

This is where you really got to let your ego get out of the way and focus on where you are going to get people to actually do this the most. And I’m not saying don’t do it on Instagram. If people are doing it, amazing, keep doing it. But just from my bird’s eye view, I see a lot of people doing it on Instagram, and I am deliberately not doing it on Instagram so that I can continue to stand out from everybody else.

Mike: [00:20:24] You are doing something, though, and I think this is something we should maybe try to brainstorm a couple examples of because you said, do something to stand out.

Jordan: [00:20:35] Correct.

Mike: [00:20:37] And you’re doing a 300 pushup a day challenge.

Jordan: [00:20:40] Yeah. I’m doing it 300 pushup a day challenge.

Mike: [00:20:41] Which isn’t just like, you know, “here’s this Covid-19, Corona bodyweight workout, but it’s more engaging. It’s different. It’s fun.

Jordan: [00:20:50] It’s super simple, it’s a challenge. It’s not like a new workout every day or every hour.

Mike: [00:20:55] Hang on. 300 pushups a day isn’t SUPER simple.

Jordan: [00:20:58] It is VERY simple. It’s not EASY. It’s literally, “Hey, here’s the number of pushups you’re doing a day.” I don’t care how many sets it takes; I don’t care whatever. It’s not easy. And someone was like, “well, what if I can’t even do one pushup?” I was like, then do them with your hands elevated and do 20 by the end of the day with your hands elevated or do them on your knees.

I don’t care if it’s 300, I don’t care if it’s one pushup, I don’t care if it’s a thousand pushups, I don’t care if it’s on your knees, I don’t care if your hands are elevated, I don’t care if you do clap pushups. Just set a number and try to improve. It’s not about beating anybody else on Instagram, it’s about beating yourself and making yourself better during this timeframe. That’s it.

And I think it– number one, people have gone bonkers already. It’s been the most popular thing I’ve posted since all of this started and people are really just going crazy about it and all it is 300 pushups a day, in terms of it wasn’t that difficult to think of.

I think you see a lot of these people posting home body weight workouts with ridiculous exercises like, “Oh yeah, you could try this, you could try that.” It’s sort of why I posted the functional training thing today, like with me crawling through kettlebells and doing the juggling on the physio ball, ’cause people are trying to make up these ridiculous exercises when I’m like, “you know what? Let’s just do 300 pushups a day.” And people love it. They’re super excited.

Mike: [00:22:05] I wonder what kind of glute circumference gain, a thousand bodyweight hip thrusts a day?

Jordan: [00:22:12] Oh my God. Yeah.

Mike: [00:22:15] Yeah, I’m not interested in that for myself, but–

Jordan: [00:22:18] I don’t know, 300 squats a day, some type of challenge like that. Or like, do 300 reps a day — you do a hundred squats, a hundred hip thrusts, and a hundred lunges per leg. It’s like every day do something like that. Who knows?

Mike: [00:22:31] A lot of different things you could do.

Jordan: [00:22:33] You’re only limited by your imagination. I just think what’s important, remember here is, number one, don’t go out of your way to sell right now. It’s so interesting how that works, right? It’s like as soon as the economy tanks and people are in a really bad position, people want to sell. It’s like, that is literally the worst time to sell. Everybody’s in a really bad situation right now. This is the worst time.

Now is when you should be giving, giving, giving, giving, giving, and sell on the backend when things increase and things improve. And in addition to not selling right now, do something to stand out. And by stand out, I don’t mean, stand on a physio ball with a single arm pushup and holding onto a hot coffee at the same time.

Don’t do exercises necessarily to stand out. Think about how you can stand out in terms of your content that will actually allow people to use it. And if that means going to another platform and pushing other people to that platform, even though it’s way fewer people, you’d rather have fewer people actually doing it because that’s going to lead to the best benefit on the backend.

Mike: [00:23:40] I love that.

I had one other thought to close our opening here.

This isn’t going to be very practical, I don’t think, and I don’t think it’s going to be super well-received, especially from the people who need it most, but if you are in a not great position now, one thing that will be beneficial for you in the future is to take a look at yourself and take a look at the last three years, five years of your life, and think about decisions that– think about things that were within your control that could have led to you being in a little bit different or a little bit more comfortable position right now.

And I don’t say that out of criticism, I don’t say that to make anyone feel bad, I say it because this could happen again. Like, we could have more pandemics, there are going to be bad things that happen in our lifetimes, and by, you know, I take the personal finance route of living a life where you work hard and spend as little as you need, especially early on.

By doing that consistently and saving money for a rainy day, to use an old cliché, you’re not going to be in a position where you are forced to sell and when you’re forced to try to sell out of fear, but you will have the savings to get you through this time and do the right thing with content and with business through this time.

Jordan: [00:25:14] No, I love that.

I think, you know, no one’s ever lived through something like this. This is just completely new to everybody. And I think if someone said a year ago this was going to happen, I would’ve been like, “yeah, get outta here.” I think most of us would have been. But to take this time as an opportunity to reflect sort of in the same way, I mean, you might have a client who’s, you know, maybe they struggle with their weight, they don’t exercise, they haven’t paid attention to nutrition, whatever it is. It’s like, taking a minute to reflect on their decisions, their actions over the last three years– I sorta had to do the same thing when I stopped coaching Gary, or even the last year of coaching Gary. Spent the better part of two years sort of letting my fitness go awful.

Like, didn’t work out as much as I should, ate like an asshole, and then in the last year of coaching him, or last probably six months, I was like, “all right, I need to get this stuff together.” And like, it was super hard, but I think it’s– no one’s ever regretted taking an hour to reflect and analyze on the decisions they’ve made and how they can improve.

It’s actually, to go on a completely different topic, someone always gets mad about whatever you say, but as soon as you bring up religion, someone always gets really mad. But it’s one of the reasons I’ve actually really enjoyed getting a little bit back more into religion, from the perspective of every week you have time to think about what you did that week that you could improve on and what you can do in the following week to get better.

It’s like, I think more of that, whether you’re religious or not is irrelevant, but to spend time thinking about decisions you’ve made and how you can make better decisions going forward on a regular basis is a very good practice to have.

Mike: [00:26:55] I absolutely could not agree more. You shared a meme with me earlier that we can kind of paraphrase, but it was essentially a quote from God.

Jordan: [00:27:05] Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

It was like, “all right, so there’s no concerts, there’s no work, there’s no homework, there’s no movies, there’s no this. Do you have time to talk to me now? -God.”

Mike: [00:27:16] So good.

Jordan: [00:27:16] And again, like, I mean, listen, I’m Jewish, you’re Christian, right?

Mike: [00:27:21] Yup, that’s correct.

Jordan: [00:27:23] Doesn’t matter what religion you are, if you’re atheist or you don’t have a religion, doesn’t matter.

And “God” can be interpreted in any number of ways. But, one thing that I think a lot of fitness coaches are saying right now is, “well, you definitely have time now to focus on your fitness and focus on your nutrition.” It’s like, okay, cool. So, for the same coaches who were saying that you’ve definitely got time now to focus on your business and focus on your content.

It’s like, if you’ve said you didn’t have enough time to make content, you said you didn’t have enough time to focus on this stuff, it’s like, well, now you do, so let’s get to it.

Mike: [00:27:54] Yeah. Very well said.

I think the very, very last thing is: if you’re feeling unbelievably anxious or out of control or unstable through all this, and you’re spending a significant amount of time consuming news, scrolling through sensationalized headlines, maybe best to get the screen out of your face a little bit if you’re struggling with that, because I have a lot of friends who have been.

Jordan: [00:28:27] That’s actually a really good point. And we’ll go into the muscle building stuff, like, very quickly, but I mean, I don’t even know where to start, but I mean, my girlfriend’s been reading a lot of this stuff– a lot of the news headlines, and like, she’s great because she doesn’t really let it affect her very much, but I mean, she’s not a big social media person in general, she’s not a big news person in general. And if I see her doing it, I know other people are just buried in it.

And I see it on social media. I made a post recently about like, “we’re going to get through this, it’s going to be okay.” And the vast majority of their responses were very optimistic, but there were some people being like, “you have no idea. It’s going to get way worse. We might not come out of this,” and I’m like, dear Lord, what a terrible mindset to live in. Just like, in a place of, “there’s no way we’re going to get out of this.” It’s like we are. Like, we are. We’re going to be okay.

And it doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be devastating. That there aren’t people whose lives will be changed. Some people will lose their lives. Doesn’t mean that’s not awful at all, it’s terrible. But we’re going to come out on the other end and we’re going to be okay.

It’s like, you have to understand that, and I think it’s going back to your points, like if you’re spending your time just reading about how awful it is, how terrible it is, how brutal things are, how devastating things are, how tanked everything is, you’re going to be in a very bad mindset.

You’ve got to pay attention to where you’re spending your time and how that time is affecting you emotionally, ’cause that can be way more devastating to you and your business and your family and your friends and your environment than–

Mike: [00:29:59] What’s actually happening.

Jordan: [00:30:00] Exactly. 100%.

Mike: [00:30:02] Yeah.

That was a good chat.

Jordan: [00:30:06] Good talk.

Mike: [00:30:06] That was enjoyable.

Jordan: [00:30:07] Muscle building pyramid, part two.

Mike: [00:30:09] The pyramid of muscle building.

Jordan: [00:30:13] So, what did we talk about on the first episode? What did we cover?

Mike: [00:30:16] In the first episode, I’m pulling the pyramid up as we speak, but we hit the bottom three rungs of the pyramid.

And by the way, this is an order of importance pyramid that Jordan and I put together. You can definitely make arguments for flip-flopping individual items on this pyramid.

With that caveat, the first three were training consistency, intensity, and technique.

Jordan: [00:30:47] Yup.

And if you didn’t listen to the first episode, it was not the previous one, it was the one before it. So, make sure you go listen to that before you listen to this so you can hear everything about consistency, intensity, and technique.

Now we’re going to go into what’s the next level up on this pyramid.

Mike: [00:31:03] So the next level up actually is split. So, if you picture the old food pyramid that recommended we have like 13 servings of bread a day, whatever it was.

Jordan: [00:31:14] It was like bread and milk and everything at the bottom. I just remember the pictures in class and everything.

Mike: [00:31:23] Yeah. If we imagine that, where it splits at a certain level, right? So, if you think horizontally across a pyramid, it’s then split and there are two items, that’s what we have here with nutrition and volume.

Jord’s yawning hard. You might need to sip some of that coffee

Jordan: [00:31:39] Yeah, let me get some coffee.

I’m not even tired. It was just an odd yawn, ’cause I’m not even, it wasn’t a tired yawn. It was more just like a–

Mike: [00:31:47] You’re bored with my company, yawn?

Jordan: [00:31:49] No, no, no. I wasn’t bored with your company, it was more just like a “filling the time yawn,” right? It was like, it was that type of yawn.

Sort of like, you know how people snack? Like, they just snack, but they’re not even hungry. It’s like, “eh, just filling the time.” I think it was like a “filling the time yawn.”

Mike: [00:32:02] That’s the first I’ve ever heard of that.

Jordan: [00:32:04] I just made it up.

Mike: [00:32:05] What do you want to talk about first? Nutrition or training volume?

Jordan: [00:32:11] You know what, I think let’s start with volume, ’cause we already covered intensity. And again, if you didn’t listen to that episode, go listen to it.

Let’s talk about volume and maybe we should start with why we didn’t put volume– and we covered a little bit in a previous episode, but we’ll go over it again, why didn’t we say volume is more important than intensity? Why is intensity more important in volume?

Mike: [00:32:33] So, one of the points that you made, I believe, or maybe I said it in that episode, was that when you increase your intensity, all else equal, volume increases. Because if you’re doing the exact same training program, so all your sets and reps are the same, and you complete a week of that training program.

The next week– let’s say you’re just starting lifting, the next week, you literally add five pounds to every single movement, which is thereby increasing intensity, you’re also increasing volume. So even though sets and reps haven’t gone up, you’re lifting a little bit more across the board, so total training volume is slightly higher.

That was one of the reasons. The other reason was that it’s such a common mistake for, not complete beginners, but for people with between one year and several years, oftentimes many years of training experience, it’s such a common mistake that they aren’t building muscle over time because they simply aren’t bringing enough intensity to their workouts.

They’re nowhere near close to failure on any of their sets. And for that reason, no matter what aspect of the training stimulus they change, whether it’s exercise selection, frequency, rep range, they’re just not training with enough intensity to build muscle. .

Jordan: [00:34:02] Just to clarify, and again, if you haven’t listened the first episode of this, please go listen so everything will be clarified and defined.

Just briefly, when we talk about intensity, we’re not talking about how high you can get your heart rate, we’re not talking about how hard you’re working in the gym. We’re talking about how much weight you are lifting relative to your one repetition maximum.

For example, if we’re talking about deadlifts, just as a random example, a higher intensity would mean that you’re lifting a heavier weight.

So, let’s say you’re doing deadlifts for, I don’t know, we’ll call it five reps, and you’re finishing the set with three reps left in the tank, wasn’t that high intensity. But if you’re finishing the set with maybe one left in the tank, that was a very high intensity.

It doesn’t mean you’re sweating, doesn’t mean you’re out of breath, even though you probably are after a super, super, super heavy set of five, but what we’re referring to here is how heavy you’re lifting. And that, I think is– right now there’s a huge debate, right?

There’s always a debate in the fitness world, but some people are like, “the volume is what’s more important,” and other people are like, “the intensity is more important.”

And you know, I worked with Paul Carter for the better part of a year. I just recently stopped as I got more and more into jujitsu and more focused on that. But one of the things that Paul speaks about that I think is super under discussed is something called the “effective reps model.” Like, there are only a certain number of reps that you’ll have in a given set that are actually effective towards building muscle. And what makes a rep more efficient is essentially how many motor units and how many muscle fibers are actually recruited. And you can do that is by increasing volume, but it’s much more efficient and effective to do it by increasing intensity.

For example, let’s say you’re doing a set of 20 or 30 reps, like, it will take a much longer time to get any effective reps out of it because generally the weight’s going to be significantly lighter and it’s going to take a lot longer for you to actually recruit the muscle fibers and the motor units, whereas if you’re doing a super, super, super heavy set of 8 or 10 or 12 it will take far, far less time to actually get into your effective reps.

Which is why lifting heavier, it will increase the total volume and it will just make the process of gaining muscle so much more efficient because you don’t have to go through outrageously high repetition models.

Mike: [00:36:33] Correct.

What else on volume?

Jordan: [00:36:38] Are we pausing right now?

Mike: [00:36:40] No.

Jordan: [00:36:41] Oh. Okay.

Mike: [00:36:43] We’ve only paused actually once in the history of the podcast, because Jordan said, “you don’t remember telling me that yesterday,” and I didn’t. I had no recollection of telling him this random fact.

This was a few episodes ago, and I was just staring at him, and then I panicked that I was losing my ability to store short term memories. And I said, we got to pause.

Jordan: [00:37:02] Um, what else on volume? I think it’s– sorry, go on.

Mike: [00:37:09] Just, both volume and intensity are very important. Like, you can make arguments for the flip flop.

Increasing training volume to build muscle becomes more important the more advanced a trainee is.

Jordan: [00:37:28] Correct. Yup.

And the other thing that, I’ll say– again, I think they’re both incredibly important. I think what’s important member is, if you’re increasing intensity, odds are you’re increasing volume. Like, really important to keep in mind.

I think it’s a good idea when you’re talking about volume, some people will try to increase volume for the sake of increasing volume. It’s probably not the best way to go about your programming, looking at, “well, how can I increase the volume here?” Try and find ways to increase intensity and usually you’ll end up increasing volume as a byproduct of that.

I think a really simple way to do that is, rather than looking necessarily for ways, “all right, well, I’m going to add two or three more sets here just because it will increase the volume of it,” try and find ways either for yourself or for your clients to increase the intensity. Hit new personal records.

I think it’s one of the best things, not only physiologically, but also mentally and emotionally. Trying to find ways to hit new personal records and increase intensity is one of the most motivating things you can do for yourself or for your clients. And this is just a very basic concept of self-efficacy, where it’s like when you have a client come in, or for yourself, anytime you lift more weight in a certain movement, you’re always stoked. You’re not nearly as stoked when you do another set.

And oftentimes another set can be like, “Oh, I don’t want to do this work out,” like, way less stoked. Oftentimes, you might let your technique go and then you lose those effective reps. It’s like, it’s much, much, much more efficient and motivating to try and hit a new personal record.

This one of my favorite things about the conjugate system the way Louie structures it. Louie’s hitting personal records every week. And listen, we’re talking powerlifting and it’s a different style of lifting. I get it.

I trained with Louis for a while, he’s like a father to me, and I think one of the things that I’ve carried over from that style of training is understanding how important it is and also how easy it is to get new personal records in new lifts. There’s no reason why you can’t hit new personal records on a regular basis, it’s just simple shifts and movements.

You could have a personal record for a dumbbell bench press, you could have a personal record for a pause dumbbell bench press, you could have a personal record for a one and a half dumbbell bench press, you can have a personal record for an incline double bench press, inclined paused, incline one and a half, incline constant tension, single-arm, alternating, like, these are literally, you have like 12 different ones right there.

And if you focus on one for every training phase, which is about four weeks, then you could have one for every month of the year. And you could always try and increase intensity in each of those. So, by focusing on really trying to hit new personal records, it’s way more motivating, way more fun, and it’s so easy to do.

Mike: [00:40:06] Yeah, absolutely right.


Jordan: [00:40:11] Yeah, nutrition. You want to start off with that?

Mike: [00:40:13] Yeah. Here’s another one where training experience really matters. So, when we talk about nutrition, let’s think about it in the context of, like, maybe a quick little separate nutrition pyramid where what’s important when it comes to nutrition for building muscle? Calories and protein.

So, having enough calories and sufficient protein, followed by carbs and fats, followed by micronutrients, food choices, meal timing, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, up the pyramid. But what we’re mainly talking about right now is: for people who aren’t complete beginners, being in a calorie surplus and having close to, if not more than 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Jordan: [00:41:08] You said something…

Mike: [00:41:10] Not complete beginners.

Jordan: [00:41:11] Yes. Why? Why is that important?

Mike: [00:41:13] Because if you’re just starting strength training, you’re going to build muscle– you’re going to build a significant amount of muscle eating maintenance calories. And you’re even going to build some muscle in a calorie deficit.

Jordan: [00:41:26] Yep.

Mike: [00:41:27] So if you’re within your first six months of real, proper training, or you’ve trained in the past, took a decent amount of time off, and you’re getting back into it, being in a calorie surplus is not necessary to build muscle. But for everybody else, to build an appreciable amount of muscle, it is necessary.

Jordan: [00:41:49] I think, and there’ve been big debates recently on Instagram about this because there’s research showing that you can build muscle in a calorie deficit, even if you’re an advanced trainee. And that’s correct. If your protein is adequate, yes.

Here’s the thing, why would you bring a knife to a gunfight?

Mike: [00:42:08] That’s recomposition? Is that we’re talking about?

Jordan: [00:42:10] That, like, you can meet in a calorie deficit and still build muscle, even if you’re an advanced trainee.

Mike: [00:42:15] But, so those people recomped, because if they were– actually, in deficit, they lost weight. So, they lost body fat and added some muscle.

Jordan: [00:42:25] Yup. And these were advanced trainees.

And the thing is like, yeah, that’s great. Number one is, do you want to keep your protein that high in a deficit? Like, that’s not comfortable. That’s not comfortable. Like, the amount of protein that you’re gonna have to eat to do this.

Number two is, let’s get straight to the chase here, would you rather build a minuscule amount of muscle for a ton of effort, both outrageous amount of effort on your nutrition, outrageous amount of effort on your training, for very minimal muscular gains, or eat more and build significantly more muscle for the same amount of effort and actually less effort with your nutrition, ’cause when you’re eating more, it’s easier.

And actually, your workouts are probably going to be less effort, too. They’ll be way more fun, way more enjoyable, you’re gonna be stronger.

Mike: [00:43:14] Training hard in a deficit is the worst.

Jordan: [00:43:17] It’s awful. It’s terrible. It’s one of those things where like, “well, yeah, you know, well you can do it in a deficit,” and I was like, “great, now what? Like, what’s your point?”

Mike: [00:43:26] Yeah. Was there– do you know if there’s a specific study or–

Jordan: [00:43:29] Schoenfeld, yeah. I believe Schoenfeld. Either he did it or I remember him talking about it and analyzing it. It was more recent. It was a more recent study and I believe it was on trained physique competitors, who were able to build significant glute mass while in a deficit.

Mike: [00:43:45] Interesting. I might have to get back in the Instagram streets.

Jordan: [00:43:50] But the point here is like, that’s amazing and it’s good to know this, but my mind immediately goes to like the, “why would you bring a knife to a gunfight” type thing. It’s like, it doesn’t make sense. It’s good to know. It’s good to know, if you’re trying to cut, it’s good to know that you can still build muscle while you’re cutting.

If you want to go into a muscle building phase, why in hell are you going to and eat in a deficit?

Mike: [00:44:15] Right. It also doesn’t change the position of nutrition on the pyramid. Just because you might be able to gain a very small amount of muscle in a deficit over some time window, that I’m not exactly sure what it is, that means your nutrition is even more important. Meaning adequate protein, I would imagine that these advanced competitors weren’t being lazy with meal timing and weren’t doing a one meal a day strategy.

Jordan: [00:44:42] So, realistically, “technically do you need to be in a calorie surplus?”

No, but it will be way– and let’s be honest, like, we’re not talking about the muscle building pyramid from the perspective of like, “what do you need to build the least amount of muscle?” We’re talking about, “what do you need to build the most amount of muscle in the most comfortable, efficient way?”

Mike: [00:45:06] Calories and protein.

Jordan: [00:45:08] That’s exactly it.

Mike: [00:45:09] And I think there’s a place in this discussion for appropriate size of a surplus. Because if you go to the obvious “bad” surpluses, you go too large with the surplus. Maybe you don’t track, you dreamer bulk, you’re having 200 grams of fat a day, you’re loving life, and your gaining like, you know, eight tenths of a pound of muscle and 12 pounds of fat per month.

And so, you think you’re– like, you look thick in your tee shirts and you’re feeling good, but really, when all is said and done come springtime, you netted out like two pounds of muscle gain. That’s not ideal.

However, the other side of that coin, and I’ve tried this with myself and with clients in the past, is being razor sharp with a surplus. Meaning we’re going to be dialed in, we’re going to have 100 to 125 calories per day of a surplus. We’re just over your maintenance, which we don’t even actually know, your estimated maintenance, but, we’re going to be just dialed to the T with the intention of only building muscle, not gaining any body fat, maybe even losing a little bit of body fat, this is the Holy grail, this is better than steroids, this is what we’re doing.

The downside of that is, if you’re barely in a surplus, it’s very hard to track progress. Because 100 calories a day, just to use ridiculous example, of a surplus means that your target amount of total weight gain per month, that’s 700 calories a week, 2,800 or 3,000 calories a month, that’s less than a pound a month of weight gain, essentially. Very close to it.

And so, based on scale fluctuation, based on hydration, based on food in your GI tract, you’re not going to be able to track progress because if you’re targeting one pound a month, that’s too small to accurately track.

Jordan: [00:47:07] Exactly. Right.

Mike: [00:47:08] So 200 to 300 calories a day of a surplus seems to work best. A lot of beginners I’ll just throw in closer to a 500 calorie a day surplus, like your ectomorph beginner guy, 9% body fat and just zero muscle, but in that 300 calories a day range.

Jordan: [00:47:31] Not to mention if you increase by a hundred, there are some people who are going to burn that off with the extra energy.

Mike: [00:47:36] Yup. Just, “Oh, my body says my NEAT is going to go up.

Jordan: [00:47:39] Exactly. And we know that can, I believe I’ve seen research from some people to be 200 calories a day from NEAT and other people up to like 900, maybe even 1200 a day, I believe, based on just genetics. Some people will burn more from NEAT, some people will not.

And so, it’s like, that’s why I prefer the 300 to 500 a day, just because some people are just going to burn it off. And also, I mean this is a whole other topic that I think people really struggle with in nutrition, some people will do this, where like, “all right, so I want to go into a cutting phase. I want to lose fat.” So, they’ll start off by losing fat and like the first initial response is, “Oh, great, my pants fit better. I feel awesome. This is wonderful.” And that’s within the first three days to a week.

After the first week, then like, “Oh no, my muscles going away. I don’t feel strong.” They have one bad workout and all of a sudden, they’re like, “it’s because I’m in a deficit.” And then they’re like, “okay, well I need to eat more calories now because I’m losing my muscle and losing my strength. So, I’m gonna go into a bulk.”

Then like, now, two to four weeks in, they go into a bulk and they’re like, “Oh, this is great. My shirts fitting tighter now, and my strength is going up workouts.” Then as soon as their pants start fitting tighter, all of a sudden, it’s like, “Oh my God, I’m gaining too much fat. It’s not good.” Boom. Then they go back into a deficit.

This whole thing took place over about four to six weeks, max, and they do that over and over and over, and that’s the same person who has never seen results ever, and they just spin their wheels. So, it’s like, I actually prefer being a little bit more drastic with it. And its funny cause I’m using “drastic,” but 300 to 500 calories extra is not that drastic in the same way that like a 300 to 500 calorie deficit isn’t that drastic.

But I prefer to have clear, marked phases, especially with beginners. Like, brand new people. ‘Cause then they can see the results pretty quickly and there’s no ambiguity. If you have someone who is more advanced and they prefer to do more, a body recomp, more like around maintenance level, great, they also understand it’s going to take longer to see results. But with beginners, especially, and intermediates, I’d prefer to have phases of bulking and cutting because they’re going to be way more motivated and they know exactly what to expect.

Mike: [00:49:41] That’s absolutely right. 300 to 500 calories. Drastic. Two to four pounds a month of weight gain.

Jordan: [00:49:49] I say “drastic” because I’ve seen people being like, “bulking and cutting is stupid. There’s no reason to do it. You should only eat around maintenance and you’ll make the progress you want.” I’m like, listen–

Mike: [00:49:59] For six months. You will…and then you won’t. Forever.

Jordan: [00:50:03] And, not to mention, that’s always someone I feel like who hasn’t coached that many people.

That might be good for someone who works with people who are physique competitors and figure competitors who know what they’re doing. But if you’ve actually coached beginners, you know they need to see progress. And sometimes they need to see it on the scale, whether it’s gaining or losing, they need to see it in their clothing, they need to see it in pictures.

And it’s like, they’re going to lose their motivation ’cause they’re not going to trust you anymore if after four weeks they’re not seeing something. You can’t just say, “well, trust me, just trust me, just trust me, just trust me,” for four months straight. You have to do something so they can see the progress.

Mike: [00:50:40] Yep. Do you have a, a specific line, not like a sentence, but a line of thinking or a motivational interviewing sequence that you walk people down who fall into the, “I want to bulk, I want to cut, I want to bulk, I want to cut,” trap.

Jordan: [00:50:58] Oh, yeah.

Well, I mean, not one off the top of my head, but I mean, I’ll have a conversation with them.

Oftentimes being like, usually if they keep going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, if they come back at me again like, “Hey, now I think I want to cut,” or “now I think I want to bulk,” if they’ve gone back and forth a couple of times, usually I’ll ask them, “do me a favor, how are, how are you right now? How are you feeling about your progress? Do you feel pretty good with it?”

And oftentimes they’re like, “well, yeah, like not as much as I would’ve liked.” I’d be like, “okay, well talk to me, what is your goal?” And you have to get them to reiterate what their goal is. And they’ll be like, “well, right now I think I want to cut.”

And I’d be like, “okay, well looking at the last six weeks, you’ve changed your goal four times. We can’t expect to make that much progress if you keep changing it. So, if you decide you want to cut now, or if you decide you want to bulk now, what do you think an appropriate timeframe is to stick with this one singular goal before we switch again? And then they’ll say, “okay, I don’t know, maybe like a month,” or two months, or whatever it is. Cool. If it’s an appropriate amount of time, great.

So, let’s say, I dunno, it’s March 15th. Cool. “So, if you say two months, then we cannot switch our goal until May 15th. That’s correct, right?” “Yes.” “Okay.”

So anytime in between there, and you’ll see them, they’ll struggle with the, “I feel like I’m getting a little big,” it’s cool, “but you said two months, so let’s stick with it for two months.”

For me, it’s all about getting them to come up with the guidelines and if it’s not appropriate then essentially structuring the conversation a way that allows it to become appropriate. So, they’re like, “I don’t know. So, for two weeks we’ll stay bulking.” I’m like, “well, do you think two weeks is enough time to make enough muscle gain?”

“Uh, maybe not.” “Okay. So, what do you think is better than two weeks?” “Uh, six weeks?” “How about this? How about we call it a deal? Call it eight weeks.” “Okay, great.” “Awesome.” And we have a specific date by which then they can change it, but if you don’t have that–

Mike: [00:52:41] Choosing your own goals is so important in life.

Jordan: [00:52:44] Huge. And this is why I like emailing versus phone calls and versus, even applications where you can communicate with your clients, or online services that can do the communications with your clients, oftentimes in a chat box, because it’s very difficult to find communications that way. Whereas if I’m doing something via email, I can search a keyword or search a sentence, or like, if I know that they said something, I can search it, find the email, whatever it is, and say, “Hey, on this date at this time you said this.” Whereas if you’re doing it on the phone, you don’t have that log saved, and if you’re doing it in these communications via other applications, it’s very difficult.

I like the email because you can show them, “Hey, you said this two weeks ago, you said you wanted to do this, so let’s stick with this.”

It’s super powerful and important.

Mike: [00:53:30] Yeah, completely agree.

I had another thought on that subject.

One very practical thing that has helped, usually men who feel small or feel like they’ve lost all their muscle like four days into a cut, is simply pointing out what carbs and water and sodium do in the short run. Meaning you didn’t lose your muscle, you lost your muscle glycogen, and explaining that concept, especially for certain personality types, certain individuals that just having that fact, that piece of information like, Oh, okay, like, anytime someone cuts, they’re going to be what’s called “flat,” where your muscle glycogen is depleted, you look smaller, you have worse pumps. You could be at maintenance calories, but be on a ketogenic diet or any kind of low carb diet, and you’re going to experience the same thing because you don’t have carbs in your muscle cells.

Jordan: [00:54:33] It’s so funny, the body dysmorphia that we see. And it’s on both sides, men and women, and it’s so funny, like, you know, I work mainly with women and I see this with women all the time, from the opposite perspective, when they’re trying to lose weight and then maybe like, “Hey, you should eat more carbs,” ’cause you’re only having X amount ’cause you’ve been told carbs make you fat and all of a sudden they are holding on to more water and they freak out.

It’s like, “well hold on, let’s explain why this happened.” And you have the same conversation with men who freak out when they feel smaller. It’s so interesting to me. And I also think it’s worth pointing out that a lot of times people only think body dysmorphia happens to women and oftentimes they think it only happens to people who are trying to lose weight, but I mean, there are an unbelievable and of men who also suffer with it. And also, they suffer with it from the perspective of they feel like they look tiny when they want to look huge. And oftentimes they do look really big, but they are scared of being too small. They are fearful of it. They have huge anxiety around it.

There’s a lot of really– if you really want to look at some cool interviews, there’s some amazing interviews with high level physique competitors and bodybuilders, people who’ve won the Arnold Classic, people have won Olympia, who are the biggest people in the world, and they say they feel tiny, they feel small. And it’s like, you’re looking at these people, you’re like, “you look bigger than the Hulk did, and he was digitally enhanced,” type thing.

I think this is an important discussion to have for everyone, but especially for coaches listening, like don’t look at someone and think that just because of how they look or because it’s a dude that they might not have body image issues. Like, I think body image issues, especially in this industry, are more prevalent than anyone can really understand.

Mike: [00:56:12] Absolutely. Yeah, just being open minded and compassionate to how someone is feeling about themselves. I think it’s just more well-known in the mainstream, or maybe that women communicate more openly about those types of issues, or historically have, but I’ve coached, I don’t even know how many men who were disappointed along the way to– usually guys who want to get abs for the first time and are disappointed along the way with how they feel, usually in clothes, that they feel small in clothes to get there, because Hollywood and you know, we don’t even need to go into it, but like magazine covers, like guys at the Olympia, guys who are just on grams and grams of drugs, have set an expectation that most people who aren’t in the fitness industry don’t understand what is going on behind the scenes to create those physiques.

And so, when you have your 5’8″ guy who doesn’t have that much lean mass and needs to cut to 140 pounds to have a six pack, he’s like, “I feel small,” it’s like, “well, you are.” And that’s part of being that lean.

And that’s why most people probably shouldn’t be walking around at 7% or 8% body fat year ’round. Which is kind of another discussion. But it’s interesting that most people only see it from one side.

Jordan: [00:57:56] Yeah, absolutely. What’s next on this pyramid?

Mike: [00:58:02] Yeah. If we don’t keep moving, we’re going to have a part three of this podcast.

Jordan: [00:58:05] How long has this one already?

Mike: [00:58:07] Let me check. Hang on one second.

Jordan: [00:58:12] We’re not going to pause. Mike’s checking.

Mike: [00:58:15] We’re at 57 minutes and we’re going to keep it rolling.

Jordan: [00:58:17] All right, let’s do it.

Mike: [00:58:18] We’re not having a part 3.

Jordan: [00:58:19] Part of me is like, “should I pee and continue rolling?”

Mike: [00:58:24] Do you have to use the restroom?

Jordan: [00:58:25] I do, but I think we can keep going.

I’m not an emergency state yet.

Mike: [00:58:28] Rest and recovery.

Jordan: [00:58:31] Okay, so, this one is almost self-explanatory, but we should just go over why we placed it here and what it includes.

Mike: [00:58:39] I think part of the reason that it’s placed here is, look, you could place rest and recovery number one. It could be more important than training consistency, because if someone went hard 24/7 and they literally never slept, they would lose lean mass. Like, your body needs sleep or you will physiologically deteriorate.

And so, part of the reason why it’s not most important, and it’s further up, is in general for most people, it’s easier to put rest and recovery into play, you know, get enough solid quality sleep, than it is to  dial in your nutrition.

Jordan: [00:59:22] A hundred percent. And if we’re looking at this from the large-scale data, the vast majority of people — most people, their biggest struggle is training consistency, not rest and recovery. Most people do not struggle to get enough rest.

Mike: [00:59:38] Most people do plenty of R&R.

Jordan: [00:59:40] Exactly.

If you’re one of the few who is working out two-a-days, seven days a week, yes, this is going to change for you. And that’s also stupid.

Let’s not do that.

Mike: [00:59:53] And in that same group, we can throw the four hour of sleep, you know, 900 milligram of caffeine per day, nonstop kind of maniac.

Jordan: [01:00:04] That person might not be eating enough because they’re so stimmed out and they have no appetite, whatever it is.

I think, what’s also important to remember here is like, especially for beginners and intermediates, let’s just be honest, you could not be resting enough, and if you’re training consistency, if your intensity and your technique, and nutrition is all set, and volumes good, even if you’re not resting enough, you’re still going to make gains.

Mike: [01:00:29] You’re going to build muscle.

Jordan: [01:00:29] 100%. So, we’re not saying rest and recovery isn’t important just because of this high up on the thing, where does being realistic and saying it’s not the most important for the vast majority of people, because most people, they’re probably getting enough as is.

There are some people as they get more and more into it, and maybe even they develop a disorder relationship with exercise where they do too much and maybe their individual workouts have way too high intensity, way too high volume, and they’re not resting enough, oftentimes out of a fear of either losing muscle or out of a fear of getting fat, so they train too much.

Mike: [01:01:06] Which, funny enough, puts them in this weird middle zone between stimulus and recovery because when you’re training too often and not recovering enough, it reduces your total amount of exertion, and so you’re not having as good of workouts, as quality of workouts as you could, and you’re not taking the time to recover.

Jordan: [01:01:34] Yeah, exactly. And I think it’s important to clarify again — the name of our podcast is, “how to become a personal trainer,” right? We’re talking to coaches about how to better coach your clients. This isn’t a podcast about how to become a bodybuilder. This is not the, “Hey, how do you step on stage at an elite level?”

This is a– this episode specifically is, “how do you get your clients to build more muscle?” And usually you’re not going to have to really try and get them to stay out of the gym more. Some people, yes, but the vast majority of them, no, not so much.

Mike: [01:02:05] It’s so funny, that was a good reminder for me because even my mind went to the times when I’ve been most successful building muscle,  and I was doing more volume, and I was sleeping nine hours every single night. But that was also at a point where I was, you know, intermediate level, at least, but for the overwhelming majority of people, you don’t need to tell them to get more rest.

Jordan: [01:02:32] Exactly. So, I mean, do we want specific recommendations from a rest and recovery perspective?

Mike: [01:02:38] I think whatever page one of Google says is going to be pretty close.

Seven to nine hours of sleep, high quality sleep, black out the room, make it 64 degrees if you can, ambient noise or no noise, whatever works best for you.

Jordan: [01:02:56] Rain sounds have been great for me. It’s so calming.

Like, sometimes I’ll lie in bed and I’ll having anxiety, just before I go to sleep, ’cause I’m thinking about everything I got to do and all this other stuff. I started using rain sound several months ago and it’s been so helpful. It literally blocks out the thoughts of other things.

Rain sounds literally just allow me to not– it’s like, for whatever reason it’s like the rain sounds almost keep that other noise out of my head. Super interesting.

Mike: [01:03:29] That is interesting.

Jordan: [01:03:31] I don’t do black-out stuff, though. I don’t black-out my, my windows. I’ve liked waking up to the sun. Especially since the quarantine started, like usually I have my alarm wake me up so I can go to jujitsu, but I don’t have an alarm right now just because of the quarantine and I’m going to get more sleep.

But I’ve been waking up at like 7:30 just from the sun in my face, and I actually really like it.

Mike: [01:03:56] That’s amazing because you’re going to bed at a reasonable hour.

Jordan: [01:04:01] Exactly.

Mike: [01:04:01] If you were going to bed at, well, and there’s another thing — going to bed at a reasonable hour, because eight hours between 4:00 AM and noon is not the same eight hours between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM.

And uh, I do not– actually I do remember, there’s a book by Stevenson? Shawn Stevenson, maybe? A book about sleep. I believe that’s the author, that was the most informative for me.

Jordan: [01:04:30] I remember Eric Cressey spoke about that years ago. I know there’s a lot of research on this, but I remember, it must have been 2010 because that’s when I was with him, 2010-2011, where he would always talk to his athletes about being like, “Hey, I don’t care if you’re getting eight hours of sleep at like four in the morning. Eight hours of sleep is not the same from 4 to 11 as it is from  like 10 to 6.” It’s different types of sleep.

I think, also, we’re just in a different mindset when you wake up after eight hours of sleep at 7 or 8 or 9 in the morning versus waking up at noon and the day is half over.

Mike: [01:05:08] Yeah. And it’s going to be different for everyone, right? I know someone sent us a book years back that had like four different types, or maybe it was three different types, but you know, earlier to bed, early to rise; kind of in the middle; and then later to bed, later to rise. But in general, for most people, going to bed a little bit earlier than you are right now is going to be beneficial.

Jordan: [01:05:31] Yeah. And I’d say, from a rest perspective on gym days,  at least two a week. Like, two to three a week, I think, is a good number to shoot for. If you want to train five days a week, cool. That’s great. If you want to train four days a week, great.

You know, Paul Carter actually talks about how you can make significant muscle gains on training three days a week, and that’s one of the programs he had me on, which I really liked. I just know, personally, I prefer a four to five day a week program, mainly because the workouts are way shorter. Workouts are way shorter, you have more frequency in the gym, but at least two to three rest days a week I think is a really good idea.

Mike: [01:06:10] Yup. I concur.

I had a client recently talking about his inability to sleep as well, and he was trying to build muscle, I mean, he is building muscle, but he, I think, partly required a little bit more sleep just because of the uptick in training from starting coaching compared to what he was doing previously.

But also before bed, he was just scrolling, like, blue light right in the face, and, who knows, maybe Coronavirus news updates, but what you’re consuming on your phone before bed and just having a blue light blocker versus– or not even a blocker, but if you turn off the blue light on your cell phone setting, that’s going to help you with sleep quality as well.

Jordan: [01:06:57] I don’t go on Twitter before bed.

Mike: [01:07:00] Smart.

Jordan: [01:07:00] I don’t. I’ve realized, okay, if I go on Twitter, there’s a strong chance that I’m going to get riled up. So, I have like a Twitter bedtime, where it’s like, I don’t go on Twitter after a certain time.

Mike: [01:07:13] Are you going to get riled up– completely off topic, are you going to get riled up based on someone’s interaction with your content, or will you get riled up based on just reading other interactions?

Jordan: [01:07:26] Either/or. Happened on both.

‘Cause I mean, the thing about Twitter is. Random people will find your stuff and they’ll reply.

Mike: [01:07:35] And they don’t have context on you.

Jordan: [01:07:37] Zero context and some people are just assholes.

So, it’s just like, and I know, for me, I just get really annoyed, really fast sometimes. I’m like, I need to be very strategic with how I use this platform, and oftentimes, I won’t look at any replies. I interact the least on Twitter with people because the more I interact, the more likely I am to see what other people are saying and just absolutely either bring me down a rabbit hole of seven hours of nonsense conspiracy theories, and just a lot of stuff, versus if I just go on there, tweet what I’m thinking and get out.

And it’s been working, by the way. It’s been working great. Twitter has been growing, interactions phenomenal, but I just cannot risk being too deep in those comments because I’m fragile, you know?

Mike: [01:08:24] Dude, a night’s sleep is important. And if that’s a difference between 11:00 PM and 2:00 AM–

Jordan: [01:08:30] Oh, and that’s real. That’s a very real timeframe.

Mike: [01:08:33] I know. I know it is.

I think we hit rest and recovery well.

Exercise selection is what we have next. So, maybe why is exercise selection so far up on the pyramid?

Jordan: [01:08:52] Yeah, I think that’s a good place to start. Do you want to start with that while I go urinate and we can just keep talking? ‘Cause we’re not going to pause this.

I’m gonna make it a quick pee.

Mike: [01:08:59] Okay. You can go pee and I’ll talk about why exercise selection is less important than these other– actually, I kind of want to do a commentary on what’s going on here right now.

Jordan: [01:09:09] Okay, well you just start and by the time you end I’ll be– I’ll be able to listen to you while I pee.

I’m going to go,

Mike: [01:09:15] I love this, one-take.

So our thought process on putting exercise selection up here was that you can, if you have adequate training intensity, if you’re getting close to failure, if your nutrition is dialed in, if you’re training consistently, if you’re getting enough sleep at night, it doesn’t matter if you are hitting a hip thrust or a barbell squat or a deadlift. It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting a dumbbell bench press, a barbell bench press, weighted pushups. It doesn’t matter which of these movements or what equipment you’re using to stimulate a particular muscle.

Now, obviously if you want to grow your chest, programming a movement that activates your pecs is necessary, but that isn’t what we mean when we talk about exercise selection. We’re talking about of the exercises that hit a certain muscle, choosing one over another.

Welcome back.

Jordan: [01:10:24] Thank you. I heard all of that and I agree.

Mike: [01:10:26] Amazing.

Jordan: [01:10:27] I also think, what’s important to remember about this, too, is like, we’re assuming that you’re not picking stupid exercises, right? We’re assuming that you’re not picking, I dunno, one-legged Bosu ball crunches with the hot coffee over your head. That’s just stupid, right?

We’re assuming that you’re picking smart exercises in general. From here, I think what’s really important and often overlooked about exercise selection, especially with muscle building — I learned this a lot when I was really focusing on the muscle-building stuff is you need to go with– and this works with strength training too, but I think more so with muscle building is different people respond very differently to different exercises.

Like, some people will do great with an underhand grip row with a barbell and other people will do much better with a dumbbell row and other people will do much better with a chest supported row. And it doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, it just means where do you feel it most to get the best recruitment?

Everything on this pyramid is important. All of it. It all matters. But when we’re looking at from the perspective of like, exercise selection is nowhere near the most important from the perspective of consistency is important for everyone, right? Technique is important for everyone. Intensity is important for everyone. And these are all that you can sort of measure across the entire population. You can measure intensity with an RPE and it doesn’t matter what movement you’re doing. You can measure intensity with it and one person is going to say a 9 and someone else, maybe 8.5 or whatever it is, but it’s close to the same intensity.

You can give someone an intensity almost objectively and have them achieve it, whereas if you give someone, “Hey, I need you to work your back muscles,” there’s so many options to choose from. It doesn’t necessarily matter which one, as long as your intensity is right, and as long as you’re feeling it properly.

Mike: [01:12:25] So, choose non-absurd exercises.

Jordan: [01:12:31] That’s really it. Choose not absurd exercises that allow you to ideally load it pretty well and that you can feel it very, very well. More important than the actual, necessarily, exercise is that you’re really feeling. That is such an overlooked aspect of muscle building.

It’s like, you have to feel a muscle working. I mean, I wouldn’t call myself like a muscle-building guru, by any means, but when you read from the muscle-building gurus, when you listen to them and you watch them, there’s a reason why mind-muscle connection is one of the most spoken about components.

It’s like the feeling of the muscle doing the work, and that’s where I come from, a strength background, from performance background, from an athletic background, feeling the muscle work isn’t as important in a performance-based setting. In fact, there’s a tremendous amount of research around the internal versus external cue debate, where, when you’re doing performance based, when you’re trying to improve your speed, your power, your maximal force output, thinking about feeling your muscle is the worst thing you can do. You want to think about your body in relation to your environment, more of an external cue.

When you’re thinking about growing an individual muscle, thinking about that individual muscle is the best thing you can do. And that’s such an important component of this.

Mike: [01:13:46] Yeah. I don’t even– to my knowledge, that isn’t up for debate that internal cuing leads to greater recruitment and more growth, whereas external cuing leads to improved strength and performance.

Jordan: [01:14:01] Yeah, debate probably wasn’t the right word. I will say though, there are people, especially in the performance-based crowd, and I’m sure there are people in a physique-based crowd who say the opposite, but in the extreme end of the performance-based crowd, basically there are people who say internal cues are worthless. There’s no reason to ever use them.

And it’s like, that’s not true. And not to mention, in the performance-based crowd, if you pay attention to physical therapy and improving rehabilitation, internal cues are vastly important, and you can use that in a performance-based program.

If you’re doing wall slides, you don’t want to do an external– you can do an external cue, but oftentimes wall slides, you actually want to feel those small muscles working properly. And internal cuing is often better for more physical therapy, rehabilitation-based movements.

Mike: [01:14:47] Yeah. We’re completely on the same page with this one.

I also know so many individuals, some have been clients, some just people that I’ve known, who have made very impressive strength gains while gaining weight, or being at least at maintenance or above, and not seen a ton of– and I’m thinking of specific, like with back growth or with chest growth, for example. Those are a couple muscles where you can drastically improve your strength, on a row or on a bench press, and not see tangible gains over long periods of time.

Whereas once you– I remember the first time I could feel my back in a seated row or the first time getting it across to a client, you know, “squeezing oranges in your armpits” on a pull up or a lat pulldown or getting them in to be able to activate their chest while horizontally pressing and the muscle gain in the months thereafter, even when you factor in strength gain — so they gained more strength over a window and barely gained any muscle, but once they could feel that muscle, even though the strength gains from there on weren’t that impressive, they were building much more size in that area.

Jordan: [01:16:07] Exactly. Yep.

Mike: [01:16:08] And those are, like, you know, a handful, if not dozens of anecdotes support that.

Jordan: [01:16:13] Is that it?

Mike: [01:16:18] That’s not it for the pyramid.

Jordan: [01:16:19] How much more we have?

Mike: [01:16:20] Now we have, so let’s do a recap right now:

Training consistency, intensity, technique, nutrition/volume — we put on the same line — rest and recovery, exercise selection, and then we threw three more in the very top. Kind of where, on the food pyramid of fourth grade, where the sweets and treats section was.

And I’ll just list all three right now. Those are: frequency, so the number of days per week that you’re training; rest time, between each set, how much rest you’re taking; and rep range.

Do you have a preference on those three, where we want to start?

Jordan: [01:17:09] In terms of which one’s the most important out of those three?

Mike: [01:17:12] No, I don’t even think we need to do that.

Jordan: [01:17:14] Got it. They’re all grouped together.

Mike: [01:17:17] Correct.

Jordan: [01:17:17] In this one, sort of, floating–

Mike: [01:17:20] Floating top of the pyramid. The eye of the Illuminati.

Jordan: [01:17:23] So we’ve got frequency, rest, and rep range?

Mike: [01:17:27] Yes.

Jordan: [01:17:28] Okay. I would say, let’s start with rep range.

I’d start with rep range. And I think when we’re talking about rep range, one of the reasons that it’s so far up here is because, technically, you could be in whatever rep range you want.

I think there are clearly optimal ones to be in, optimal, including, the realistic ability for you to do it in an efficient amount of time, realistic ability to keep you doing it without the risk of injuring yourself. There’s so many aspects here that more just the realistic training aspect and the comfortability aspect.

Like, no one wants to do hundred-rep sets, even though I’ve done those and they suck, and they do have a time and a place, but like, realistically, it shouldn’t be the vast majority of your sets and reps. I’d say, generally speaking, the vast majority of your sets and reps or your rep range should be between like 8-12. I think it’s probably the ideal range for the vast majority of your training.

It doesn’t mean you can’t do 5s, it doesn’t mean you can’t do 20s or 50s, but 8-12 is generally that range where you get the most effective reps at a higher intensity.

Mike: [01:18:41] And that’s interesting that that’s kind of the number we agree on because that is the, you know, when you see Instagram– what are those called? Infographics. Jeez.

When you see infographics with the “strength-muscle-endurance,” that is the cliché: 1-5 is strength, 6-12 hypertrophy, 15-20 plus muscle endurance. Which is interesting that we kind of settle in on that middle hypertrophy range, but, the reason that that isn’t absolutely true and only has bits of truth in it is because when you get stronger in the 1-5 range, you’re building muscle, and when you’re nailing 20 rep sets, where you’re getting at an RPE 8 or 9, you’re building muscle.

So, there’s overlap, but for the reasons that you just stated, reduced risk of injury and practicality and efficiency of completing a training program in that 8-12 range makes the most sense.

Jordan: [01:19:49] Yeah, 100%.

Mike: [01:19:54] Frequency.

Jordan: [01:19:55] You know, before I worked with Paul, I probably would have said that should be lower on the pyramid, like, be more important.

After working with him and looking into more of the research around it and in my own experience, I’m much more understanding that frequency can be manipulated relatively easily, more to fit what– I used to say, “listen, if you really want to build appreciable muscle, unless you’re a beginner, you got to do at least four times a week.”

But after working with Paul and after looking at a lot of the research that he points to, you can absolutely build a significant amount of muscle in three days a week, four days a week, five days a week, six days a week, seven days a week, depending on how you’re training.

So, there’s a lot of wiggle room here. And that’s why it’s so far up the pyramid is because there’s so much opportunity for you to choose what works best for you.

No one can argue that you have to be training consistently, no one can argue that you have to be training with a high intensity, no one can argue that you really should be using good technique. Training frequency, whether you do three, four, five, six, seven days a week, very much depends on you and individual preference.

I think that’s probably a good way to understand this whole pyramid, is the higher it gets on the pyramid, the more you can do based on your individual preference.

So, I mean, I think for me personally, I prefer four to five days a week if my main goal is muscle building. But that’s just me, personally. And so that’s where I tend to fall in. But I mean, anywhere between three to seven days a week, and realistically, I’d say anywhere between three to five days a week is really good for natural lifters.

Mike: [01:21:33] Yeah. Absolutely right.

I’m trying to think of anything I have to add to that. I guess when you get to the end range of three to seven, the downside of– so let’s assume exercise selection is the same, total training volume is the same, intensity is the same, the downside of a lower training frequency– and let’s even go lower than what you just said, let’s just say, “well, a frequency doesn’t matter that much. Let’s go to two days a week,” is that is a long workout. It is a long workout where you’re expected to maintain high intensity throughout the workout, and I don’t think that most people have the capability to do so.

Whereas the downside of training seven days a week is, you know, assuming you have RPE 9 work in every session, you’re just never going to have time to recover. Like, you’re either gonna have to have frequent de-load weeks, like, programmed frequent de-load weeks if you’re training seven days a week or you’re just gonna get hurt, you’re, you’re gonna stall out, your joints are going to have less time to recover.

You know, each workout is going to be more manageable than the same amount of volume crammed into two days, but on the seven times a week side of the spectrum, those are the downsides.

Jordan: [01:23:01] Also, I think, with seven times a week — I mean, not everyone can do that consistently. Like, even if it’s a shorter workout–

Mike: [01:23:08] From your client’s perspective it’s like, “I want to be with my kids on the weekend. Why do I have to train every single day?”

Jordan: [01:23:13] Exactly. I mean, some people, they live 20-30 minutes away from the gym, right? It’s like, cool, so maybe the workout is only 30 minutes because you’re doing seven days a week or 25 minutes, but it might take you an extra hour just to get there and back. Whatever else goes into it.

So, if we’re looking at this now from the whole-pyramid perspective, if it’s going to affect your consistency, then it’s not worth it. Right?

So, this is sort of how we structured this whole thing. It’s like, “well, if one thing affects this, which one is more important?” Right? It’s like, if it’s negatively affecting your consistency, no good. Right? So, we’d rather you be consistent with four days a week than inconsistent with seven.

Mike: [01:23:51] Yeah, exactly right.

And say you are– because I have a client right now who I have programmed seven days a week for muscle gain because he wants to lift every single day. His volume per session is way down, he isn’t doing the same style of training every day. One of them is much lighter weight, more of, like, circuits basically.

And yeah, you just have to modify the programming if you’re going to be on either of the extremes of the spectrum. Which is why four to five days a week is kind of the best-practice recommendation, and even three, for a beginner, or if you want to do maybe a little bit more and workout, three.

Jordan: [01:24:34] Yeah.

Mike: [01:24:37] Rest time.

Jordan: [01:24:38] Rest time. You want to start with this?

Mike: [01:24:40] Sure. And this is another one, similar to rep range, is there is an agreed upon “optimal” amount of rest time for muscle building if you type it into Google, and people in the industry have agreed on what’s best, which is 90 seconds between sets for hypertrophy, 3-5 minutes for strength, which typically takes place on lower rep-range work, and 30 seconds rest between sets for endurance.

The problem here is that there’s overlap between these rest times. So, all else equal, if you have intense sets and you’re doing 3-5-minute rest of 5 reps of a barbell back squat, and you’re only leaving 1 rep left in the tank after each set, you’re definitely building muscle even though you’re in the “strength” rest time area.

And so, while 90 seconds might be “ideal” for building muscle, you can build muscle in all rep ranges, but also with all rest times.

Jordan: [01:26:05] Yeah.

I mean, I think there’s not too much to add to that.

I would say, sort of like with frequency, you want to try and probably stay away from the extremes. Like, you don’t want to only rest for 20-30 seconds if you’re really trying to build muscle. You want to rest; I would say at least 60 seconds if not 90.

Here’s how I would structure it. I usually structure beginning of the workout much heavier, much stronger, compound movements, longer rest. Beginning of the workout: 90 seconds, sometimes 2 minutes of rest. As the workout goes on, and oftentimes the movements become more isolated, and oftentimes the repetitions will increase, reduce the rest.

So, at the beginning of the workout, it might be 2 minutes, middle of the workout might be 75-90 seconds, end of the workout might be 60 seconds, 30-60 seconds, depending on the movement. That’s how I generally structure my rest periods.

Interestingly, or maybe not interestingly, at the beginning of the workout, the rep ranges tend to be lower. So lower reps, higher weight, more rest time. As the workout progresses, higher reps, lower weight, less rest. So, this is generally the structure of how it goes.

But again, as long as you’re consistent, as long as your intensity is high, as long as your technique is good, you’re going to be building muscle. Regardless of the reps or the rest or all this other stuff.

These are, like, miniature things that can optimize it and make it more realistic and effective, but as long as those, I’d say the first three steps in this pyramid are met, you’ll be building muscle.

Mike: [01:27:49] That’s a great place to end.

Jordan: [01:27:50] Yeah, I agree.

So, we hope you enjoyed this two-part series. If you did, please, we would really appreciate a five-star review on iTunes, especially if you enjoyed it. And if you have any other questions or ideas for content, please, you can leave a question or a thought, as well, in the comments section as well, on iTunes.

And we appreciate you listening and we wish you nothing but health and safety and happiness in this time.

Mike: [01:28:15] See you next week.

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