Mike: [00:00:04] Hello, and welcome to episode 21 of the How to Become a Personal Trainer podcast. We’re your hosts Michael Vacanti.

Jordan: [00:00:10] My name’s Jordan Syatt. And in this episode, it’s part one of a two-part series in which we discuss the 10 most common mistakes that coaches make. And they might not be the most common, but they’re definitely very common mistakes that coaches are making. 

Mike: [00:00:25] Enjoy.

Jordan: [00:00:30] Cheers, Jord.

Cheers, Michael. 

Mike: [00:00:37] That’s a big reach. 

Jordan: [00:00:40] How’re you doing? 

Mike: [00:00:41] Well, man, we got a little Chamomile tea, a little bedtime podcast. 

Jordan: [00:00:45] I’m excited for this one. 

Mike: [00:00:47] Me too. We thought of this topic about an hour ago and we’re both very excited about it and have been brainstorming 10 excellent mistakes that coaches make. 

Jordan: [00:01:00] Which one do you want to start off with?

Mike: [00:01:02] Zero small talk. 

Jordan: [00:01:04] All right. Let’s have some small talk.

Mike: [00:01:04] Jord’s just going straight in. He is all business. Which one? Let’s go. 

Jordan: [00:01:12] Let’s go with some small talk. We’ve got some legs tomorrow. 

Mike: [00:01:15] You know, that’s where my main focus is right now. 

Jordan: [00:01:18] Strength training? 

Mike: [00:01:19] Yeah. 

Jordan: [00:01:20] Lifting is going well? 

Mike: [00:01:21] We got legs tomorrow, lifting’s going well. 

After, let’s call it many years of not taking my own and dare I speak for you and say our own fitness seriously enough, the newbie gains coming in these first couple of weeks are outrageous. 

Jordan: [00:01:38] The mood enhancement from really lifting heavy have been great. Heavy, deadlifts, heavy pull-ups. It’s been good.

Mike: [00:01:48] Weighted chins for a lot of three, four, five rep, close to max effort sets. It’s not even the during the workout feeling or the post-workout feeling, it’s the cumulative feeling of lifting heavy. The next day when your entire hamstrings, glutes, back, are all sore from deadlifting and you just feel higher energy overall. 

Jordan: [00:02:18] Yeah. Feel strong, feel accomplished. You can start to feel the muscles working again, it feels super good. 

It’s interesting. I guess this would actually go well with the last episode that we did, “a day in the life of a personal trainer,” but the more and more and more you get into it, the more coaching you do, the easier it is to not be interested in your own training. And now I’m in a phase of my life where I’m getting really back into it. And we’re on a schedule, which is helping a lot. That schedule is huge. If it wasn’t for the schedule, I don’t think it would work nearly as well, 

Mike: [00:02:57] Yeah, but the month of — basically our six weeks of every workout we’re going to do on a calendar, and which days are rest days, which are few and far between, we’re basically training six days a week. And then our plan for fasting.

Jordan: [00:03:13] Yeah. Which I haven’t done in…I’ve never done extended fasts like this. 

Mike: [00:03:17] You’ve never done more than… 

Jordan: [00:03:19] A 20 hour fast. Ever. 

Well, actually we did about 20-21. Because we broke it early, but we’ve got like a 36-hour coming up. 

Mike: [00:03:31] Yeah, this weekend. Friday night. 

Jordan: [00:03:35] Friday night. 

I guarantee you; some people are gonna be like, “why would you do that?” First and foremost, not recommending anybody else do this. This is something that you’ve experimented with for a little bit, right? And I was like, “I’ll give it a shot, ’cause why not?” 

More just to go through the experience of it to see how I feel, not for any other reason. Sort of like how I do with my YouTube videos. I tried the Carnivore diet, did the Big Mac challenge. I’m interested to see how it makes me feel. I’m also interested to see if it exacerbates any past issues I’ve had with food. The first one did not at all.

Mike: [00:04:09] And I asked you about it during it. 

Jordan: [00:04:11] Yeah. 

Mike: [00:04:12] Because I was curious about that. 

Jordan: [00:04:13] You were like, “are you sure you want to do this? Just based on that?” I was very curious if the first 20-24 hour fast was it going to lead to me wanting to eat significantly more when I broke it, when I broke the fast. And I didn’t. I ate very normal, healthy portion.

I mean, I haven’t had a binge in like a decade, but still, I was like, “okay, gotta be aware of it.” So, it’ll be for 36 hours. I’ll keep a close eye on it, but I’m excited to see, because anecdotally, people have really seen tremendous benefit from doing it. Not even from a fat loss perspective, just mental health and energy.

Mike: [00:04:51] My goal around fasting is 0% body comp. I mean, on the normal 16/8, that can be effective for restricting calories if you’re in a deficit, but I’ve never programmed anyone or recommended extended fasts for body composition. I’m much like you in that the reason I want to start doing more fasting is for curiosity, for the actual mental benefits around sacrifice.

It’s not even discipline. There’s an element of doing it because it’s hard, but there’s also a spiritual and something nonphysical that I think we will benefit from. 

I’m also interested in potential physiological benefits, like giving my digestive system a break for a day. Potentially some benefits when it comes to longevity. I think 48 hours is kind of the bottom of the time range. And maybe we’ll do a full episode on fasting if we want to talk about this in detail.

Jordan: [00:06:12] Yeah, maybe just our experience with it.

Mike: [00:06:14] Yeah. But just potential long-term health benefits coming from someone who has ingested at least 30 grams of protein, every five hours for 20 years. Just a lot. 

Jordan: [00:06:29] Just give your body a break.

I think I would run into issues and many would run into issues if they approached long-term fasting from a body composition perspective.

Mike: [00:06:40] And you just mean longer than a 20 to 24 hour fast.

Jordan: [00:06:44] Even a 20 to 24 hour fast. But yeah, if you’re approaching it from the perspective of: you’re restricting as long as you can so that you can lose weight more quickly, I think what will happen is eventually you’ll end up sort of rebounding on the back end of the fast. You’ll have a huge binge of like, “I haven’t eaten in 24 hours. I haven’t eaten in 36 hours. So, I’ll eat as much as I possibly can. And it won’t negatively affect my fat loss.”

Because if fat loss is the goal here, then basically you’ll do whatever you can to not hurt your fat loss, which I think that will end up rebounding in binge eating. Mass quantities of food eaten.

Whereas when you’re doing it for other reasons, sort of like when a lot of people say when you remove fat loss as the goal, a lot of times you end up losing fat, right? When you remove fat loss as the goal, but you focus on how strong you can get, a lot of times you’ll end up losing fat, getting stronger, loving your body better, blah, blah, blah.

I’m interested and curious, I think this will probably work the same way. For me, the first fast that we did, my mental focus was pretty intense. It was pretty intense, and it could have been no carbs, that might’ve been why. It could have been the fast, in general. But I’m very interested to see how my energy is and mental focus and clarity is, and that’s really where I’d like to keep the purpose of this for me. 

If I keep the focus on, “how do I increase my energy naturally throughout the day?” “How do I increase my mental focus?” “How could this benefit me on a monthly basis?” Type of thing, as opposed to, “how much fat can I lose in this 36-hour window?” 

Mike: [00:08:23] Not to mention we’re both in places in our lives now where losing some body fat isn’t this massive priority. And we’ve recently shared some stories about previous times in our lives when we’ve been extremely lean or even trying to get leaner or trying to stay very lean. When there’s that added pressure, there’s more likelihood of a binge. 

Sure, you’re doing a mini cut right now, but you don’t have your ego wrapped up in your body fat percentage probably at all or very close to at all. And that in itself removes, I would imagine, a lot of potential likelihood of bingeing. 

Jordan: [00:09:10] Yeah. 100%. I agree. 

Mike: [00:09:12] Yeah. All right. We will keep everyone updated. Next week, we’ll talk about how this 36-hour fast goes. And the longest I’ve ever gone with no calories is about 40 hours.

I’ve done that a couple of times. 

Jordan: [00:09:27] Really? You did a 40 hour fast? I didn’t know that. How’d they go? I didn’t know that. 

Mike: [00:09:34] I mean, Eat Stop Eat is basically 40. Eat dinner, nothing the next day, and then you kind of bring the fast until mid-morning the following day.

Jordan: [00:09:46] Shout out to Brad Pilon. 

Mike: [00:09:50] Exactly. 

It went well. It went well. The first time I did it, I didn’t do any sodium, I didn’t do any electrolytes and my energy levels were really dragging. But the second one I did, I added electrolytes two or three times throughout the day. 

Jordan: [00:10:07] How’d you add those? 

Mike: [00:10:09] Just literally put salt in water and drank it.

So, I’m excited to see how this one goes. 

Alright, this is going to be part one of 10 

Jordan: [00:10:29] mistakes 

Mike: [00:10:30] that coaches 

Jordan: [00:10:32] make.

Mike: [00:10:34] Just on the same page. 

Number one: training intensity, too much emphasis on functional training. 

Jordan: [00:10:45] All right, this is all one, clumped together? You want to begin on this one or you want me to start?

Mike: [00:10:50] You can start talking about functional training. 

Jordan: [00:10:53] Okay. Yeah. So, we’ll start on functional training.

There’s many ways to go with this, but first and foremost, I think one of the biggest mistakes that coaches are making in regard to functional training is they think of “functional” in one lens only. That functional means that either you’re walking like a monkey or a gorilla, or like a caveman, whatever it is, that functional is only exercise done for the purpose of movement patterns and for core stability.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s great. And I think for the vast majority of people, including some type of training of that sort into their program is important. The issue is “functional,” by definition is whatever someone needs in order to achieve their goal.

So “functional” for someone who wants to grow their biceps would include biceps curls. Whereas a lot of coaches might look at biceps curls and be like, “Oh, well, those aren’t functional.” It’s like, well, if they want to grow their biceps, they are. Absolutely, they are. 

It’s interesting how coaches define “functional,” but a lot of them look at it as balance training or trying to do crawling on the ground, which is all great if that’s what you’re into, it’s totally fine. And I incorporate much of that into my own training because I enjoy it. The issue is when you get so dogmatic and one-sided that you think the only way to functional train is through those types of methods and that no other methods are of any value whatsoever.

And I think we’re going to talk about this later on in the list, but the reality is “functional” for one person might include biceps curls. “Functional” for someone else might include hip thrusts. “Functional” for someone might even include crunches, which I think we’re going to talk about later as well.

“Functional” is not solely defined by “functional for life and living.” “Functional” could be “functional for your personal goals,” which includes aesthetics and many other things. 

Mike: [00:13:01] Yeah. Very well said. 

I think training intensity matches up well with what you just said in that you’re rarely gonna program many of the exercises that you just listed to failure or, you know, bear crawls, RPE 9.

It doesn’t make sense. 

Jordan: [00:13:31] I don’t even know how you’d do that. Unless you’re doing bear crawls with a weighted vest or dragging a sled, whatever it is. Coach on your back. 

Mike: [00:13:43] A very heavy weighted vest. 

But one of the mistakes — it’s I guess it’s two mistakes and we’re really lumping them together:

one of them is an overemphasis on “functional” training in the way that you just defined it and also as opposed to whatever other kinds of training — bodybuilding-style training, more aesthetic-style, that’s what all of the programming I had ever done for myself was prior to actually becoming a coach.

That’s every free online program I’d ever gravitated toward. Every, you know, in 2007-2008-2009, some of the websites we’ve mentioned recently, simplyshredded.com, just pulling random free, strength and aesthetics workouts. And that’s where everything I had ever done for myself had come from, because that was my main interest. 

When I started coaching, that’s when I began to understand the “functional” world a little bit and understand there is a purpose to strength training and programming other than looking as good as possible. And working with various client types helped with that massively. 

But in addition to that, when a lot of coaches are on the floor with their client, just not taking enough sets to adequate intensity, within a few reps of failure, even. I’ve seen many coaches having a client go through a random super set of a lower body move and an ab move — and maybe they’re doing a step up or maybe they’re doing a goblet squat as the lower body move, and they have them doing 3×10 and if you put a gun to the client’s head, they could do 40 reps at that weight. They’re just not getting anywhere near the intensity they should be. They should be increasing the weight and maybe they’re chatting, whatever the reason is, — we talked about this in the podcast on the muscle building pyramid. 

And so, the takeaway here is, obviously, with proper technique, taking more sets within 1-3 reps of failure is going to do almost all of your clients a huge service. 

Jordan: [00:16:43] And obviously not the rank beginners, not the people who haven’t mastered technique yet. It’s like sort of, you have to have that base of all the technique must be good, number one. And of course, rank beginners are going to be able to get stronger with significantly less than their one repetition maximum.

But the important thing here is that we’re not saying, “work up to a one rep max.” If you’re doing 12 reps of something, then the last two to three reps should be very difficult. And again, not every single set of every single exercise, and definitely not for complete beginners, but that being said, sort of go back on that, I think finding what exercises are okay for complete beginners to go towards failure is actually really important. Because when someone comes into the gym, there are a lot of people who want to work towards that, they want to feel that way. And it’s important that they don’t leave the gym feeling unaccomplished.

So especially towards the end of the workout when it’s like, you can call it a “finisher,” but doing things in a way that allow anyone of any fitness level to reach that point is a very important aspect of coaching in terms of finding the movements that that individual can do safely towards a point of failure. And as they get more conditioned and as they get stronger and as they improve their level of fitness, then there’ll be able to work towards a greater level of failure and do it with better technique and more advanced movements. 

I vividly remember this at the gym that I interned at when I was a young kid — we used to do these mini-finishers, where it would be band rows, seated band rows, and we would either do it with a band, or they had this piece of equipment, I believe it was called a “Myoforce,” but basically what it was is it was doing a row, but it was a contraption like a TRX, but the straps moved. So as you rowed with your right arm, your left arm would come in and as you rowed with your left arm, your right would come in and you could control the intensity by resisting with the other arm.

So, we would do these finishers — and you could do this with dumbbell rows if you wanted to, you could do these high-intensity finishers where it’s a very safe movement. It’s a seated row. There’s very little risk of injury, especially if they don’t have any back issues and you just really push them to increase the resistance they’re giving themselves on this.

Or if you want to use a higher resistance band, you could do that. And that way, as they’re rowing, they’re getting to rep 12, rep 13, rep 14, rep 15, where it’s like near failure, if not failure. And it’s something that doesn’t take much coaching to learn proper technique on that. And to take them there and to get them feeling their back muscles and to really like, “wow, that was a burnout set for my back.” It gets them excited to feel muscles they haven’t felt before and really work towards that level of intensity. 

Mike: [00:19:46] Yeah. That’s a great point. Don’t take a rank beginner and make them fail a barbell back squat and dump the bar. 

There are movements, and being smart with exercise selection, where they can safely achieve that level of intensity, because, like you mentioned, it’s motivating and it feels good and there is some benefit. I mean, there’s a lot of benefit for intermediate and advanced lifters, but even for beginners, there’s some as well, not least of which is psychological. 


Number two: not utilizing rest periods properly. 

Jordan: [00:20:23] Yeah. This one’s important. And there are many directions we can go here.

I just see — and when I say I see, I also speak from personal experience of doing it myself — but also at gyms, I see coaches doing this a lot. I see them doing it with their clients and I see this happening probably more frequently than not is coaches not letting their clients rest enough, especially early on in the workout when they are doing strength-based movements and they’re with a client that really wants to sweat, right? So, they’re like, “all right, well, I’m just going to keep you working, keep you working, keep you working.” 

And the issue there is several-fold, not least of which, you’re letting the client dictate the workout based on what they say they want, rather than what’s actually best for them.

Not to mention — it’s very hard to show a client how they’re progressing strength-wise when you’re not letting them rest enough. And this sort of goes back to point number one, in terms of intensity. If you’re allowing your client to use high enough intensity, they won’t need short rest, they won’t want short rest, and they don’t need to be doing seven different exercises at once. You don’t need to put them in a circuit just to keep their excitement up. They’re going to be excited to go back and lift heavier weight again. 

It’s one of those things where I think it’s very easy as a coach to be like, “well, I don’t want my clients to get bored.”

If your clients were doing a set of 6 at a very high RPE, they’re not going to get bored. That’s just a fact. 

Mike: [00:22:00] I agree. And I’ve seen a lot of that. And I’ve even seen — I hate to say this — I’ve seen it intentionally programmed as a strategy for client retention, which is such a disservice.

It’s scarcity versus abundance mindset, right? It’s the same as when an online client tells you that they want something that you think is fine, but not the best for them and you cave and you do it their way because you’re afraid they’re going to leave. Whereas if you tell them the truth, they’re going to be more likely to respect you, they’re going to be more likely to believe you, and it’s just the right thing to do. 

Jordan: [00:22:50] Absolutely. 

Mike: [00:22:53] So with gyms, I’ve seen it as a strategy to keep clients and to keep them interested and just from the perspective of which coaches are working, what the layout is of the gym, equipment availability, programming in a way that makes sense for everybody, maybe allows for maximum number of clients at the same time, whatever it might be.

Whereas, there are situations where logistically you can’t give a client 3×5 barbell back squat with 3-5 minutes rest, but for their goals and for what they’re doing, that might be what you should give them, at least sometimes, and what makes the most sense for them.

So inappropriately using rest time for various reasons. And not to mention, just not understanding like, okay, a little bit more rest, getting stronger, kind of in the mid-range, building muscle, retaining muscle, using glycogen as a source, and then faster-pace, more endurance. 

Jordan: [00:24:16] Yeah. And obviously if you’re teaching a large group class, that’s different. But when you’re working one on one or even small group, two to four different people, it’s not a class format. That’s a high-level program design, strength training program, where if you really want to give your client the best of everything, the beginning portion of the workout should be heavier, strength-based, 2-5 minute rest, depending on who you’re working with and what the move is and how heavy they’re going.

And then progressively going down in rest periods all the way down to 60 second rest, or maybe even 30 second rest, depending on what kind of circuit you’re doing. 

Which sort of goes to the other point where I see other coaches just chatting away with clients and 12-minute rest periods and they get a total of four sets in by the end of the workout and they get nothing done.

And this happens, I see, as you get a better relationship with your client sometimes. And it’s just like you just become good friends.

Mike: [00:25:31] When you mentioned this, when we were brainstorming, and you said– I think your exact words were “letting the client talk too much.”

Jordan: [00:25:44] Yeah. 

Mike: [00:25:44] I just went,” Oh man, I do that.” And I haven’t always done that, but right now the only in-person coaching I was doing was with this client who’s a friend of mine, who I see once a week — a guy named Pat, really interesting guy. He’s actually a dating coach as his profession.

And he’s just interesting, knows a lot about history, knows a lot about a lot of subjects and the reason I linked up with him was because of his content and a lot of what he was putting out was just interesting to me. And so, when we started working out, within a few sessions we were comfortable with each other and sometimes seven, eight minutes would go by between sets because he’s a talker and he can just go on about whatever. And you know, sometimes clients use talking as a strategy to get a longer rest time to avoid working hard. But I am as guilty as any for various reasons. And I’ve heard other coaches talk about having lawyers or bankers or just very interesting people in certain fields that you’re interested in hearing them talk. And if they’re willing to talk to you, that’s very valuable. 

But having enough discipline to limit them, even when you’re interested in what they’re saying, because you have their best interest at heart. 

Jordan: [00:27:17] Yeah. I mean, there are many ways to handle it. And every coach struggles with this. Every coach. Myself included. 

There are a number of strategies that I’ve used to try and mitigate it.

Number one — people hire a coach because they want the coach to tell them what to do. They like it. They like it and you’re there to sort of keep them accountable, push them. So, number one is: have a stopwatch on your person. And now we all have phones, so it’s like we have a stopwatch on the phone.

You can say at the end of every set or at the beginning of whatever the exercise is, be like, all right, so we’re going to do this and take two-minute rest in between sets.” As soon as they’re done, you hit “start” and you show them the clock and then they start talking, whatever, and as soon as it’s done and be like, “all right, finish telling me this once the next set is over.”

Because if it’s just you explaining it, it may be that they might feel as though you’re cutting them off or you’re not interested, but when the clock is running down and it’s an objective time, “okay, it’s up,” it’s not you cutting them off, it’s saying, “alright, cool. Time is up. Just finish your story once the exercise over.” 

Mike: [00:28:24] Great strategy.

So, it doesn’t seem like you’re being rude. 

Jordan: [00:28:26] Exactly. Yep. 

And other ones, realistically, and this is one where if you’re actually very interested in what they’re doing, whether it’s a banker, a lawyer or whatever it is, and you actually really enjoy working with them and you have a good work relationship with them is saying like, “Hey, listen, if you have an hour free after training, let’s go grab coffee.”

Or like, “let’s go on a walk after and chat more.” Or like, “Hey, you know, I’d love to pick your brain and talk on the phone sometime.” 

Most of them are very happy to do that. And that way you can sort of say, “Hey, listen, let’s crush this workout. Let’s get it done. But I want to actually pick your brain about this later tonight.”

Personally, my favorite strategy is the stopwatch because it’s just so objective and you can still get the discussion in while keeping them on track. 

Mike: [00:29:15] Yeah, that’s smart.

Jordan: [00:29:16] Stopwatches are very underrated in training. It’s one of those things where, especially with my own training, if I keep a stopwatch I’ll blast through the workout.

It gets done so fast. 

Mike: [00:29:29] I’m intentionally being hesitant towards this because we’re training together right now, and I like longer rest times. 

Jordan: [00:29:37] Yeah, you hate the shorter rest times. 

Mike: [00:29:40] I hate them.

Jordan: [00:29:41] Every time I go, Mike’s like, “what’s with the short rest periods, Jay?”

Mike: [00:29:47] And it’s been fun because we’ve kind of been alternating days programming — Jordan’s doing the deadlifting, the lower body, and the neck, and then we’re kind of alternating on abs and I’m doing more of the upper body stuff right now. And the first leg day we did, I swear we got it in in 38 minutes and it was intense and great, but hard. 

Jordan: [00:30:16] One of my all-time favorite stories — we were working out at LA Fitness in Florida, and we were doing 10×10 on leg press. 

Mike: [00:30:26] With the stopwatch. 

Jordan: [00:30:27] With the stopwatch. 

Mike: [00:30:28] I was so mad. 

Jordan: [00:30:29] This was one of the angriest I’ve ever seen Mike. This is like legitimately top five angriest that I’ve ever seen Mike. We were doing 10×10 leg press, German Volume Training, just stupid.

It was just fun, “why not? Let’s do it.” And 60 seconds rest, and there were some times when I would start going at like 50 or 55 and Mike would be like, “what is this? What are you doing?!”

Mike: [00:30:52] Well, because the clock would go on you and then I would just go after you. So, whatever you chose as your rest was the amount of rest that I got.

And we were doing one-minute rest, which is insane. 

Jordan: [00:31:05] Yeah. It already is insane as-is. 

Mike: [00:31:07] And you were cutting it short. 

I’m still mad. 

And that wasn’t the workout. Then we did 5×6 reverse lunges with a six second eccentric. 

Jordan: [00:31:24] Oh yeah. 

Mike: [00:31:26] This is more volume than I do in a month on lower body. Right there. 

Jordan: [00:31:34] Oh, that note that you wrote, you’re like, “you know how I feel about lower body day” when you’re leaving? Oh my God, that’s so funny.

Mike: [00:31:43] But rest times are obviously important. 

Jordan: [00:31:46] “But to get back to the point…”

Mike: [00:31:50] But really, just know what you’re trying to accomplish with rest times, be intentional with rest times and don’t let anything get in the way of — whether it’s you being uncomfortable with bringing it up or you being selfish and interested in what your client has to say. 

Jordan: [00:32:13] Yeah. Yeah. 

What’s the next one. Is it talking? Is that the next one? 

Mike: [00:32:23] So number four is doing too much cardio to make up for bad diet. 

And my feeling was that this wasn’t quite as common a mistake that coaches are making, but apparently it is. 

Jordan: [00:32:49] I see it and I showed you TikTok today, some of the stuff that you saw on TikTok, I’m sure it surprised the hell out of you. Some of the exercise advice that was on there that was getting millions of likes.

Mike: [00:33:02] You just flap your arms for a minute straight and then you get the body weight toned triceps. 

Jordan: [00:33:08] Oh, God. At the end of the video, you’re like, “wait, what?” You’re like, “that’s the whole video?” There was this person on TikTok who was basically showing these exercises — no weights in their hand. None. No weights in the hands, just literally waving their arms saying, “this is how you get toned arms, just going up and down, left and right.” 

So, I think you’ve done a good job of not consuming terrible fitness content over the last few years. And I’ve seen a lot of it. 

Mike: [00:33:43] I believe you. 

Jordan: [00:33:45] And one of the poor things I’ve seen coaches do — less in the science-based community and more in the general bro-science, I guess we’ll call it, is where they’re prescribing significant amounts of not just cardio, but high intensity cardio. And they don’t say, “do this and you can eat whatever you want,” but they do say “do this type of cardio to burn more fat, so you don’t have to worry as much about what you’re eating.” Which I have a number of issues with, not least of which being, personally, I’ve always found that longer duration, low intensity cardio is much more sustainable and a much better way to improve your calorie output as opposed to brief sessions of HIIT. 

Mike: [00:34:34] We’re on the same page.

Jordan: [00:34:36] For a number of reasons, not least of which is a significantly lower risk of injury, you can sustain it longer, there’s not as much of an impact on your strength training, and realistically, doing 5 sets of 10 sprints, you’re not going to burn that many calories compared to walking for 30-45 minutes.

You’re just not. Regardless of the “EPOC” and the post — what is the word that they use for marketing? After burn. The “AFTER BURN” effect. “You burn calories for 48 hours after your workout is over with five sets of sprints.” 

Mike: [00:35:09] “For 3 weeks after, you’re still burning ’em.” 

Jordan: [00:35:13] It’s just ridiculous. 

I remember Lyle McDonald had an unbelievable article on that myth years ago. 

Mike: [00:35:19] And he was just like, “look, EPOC is real, here’s what it is. And it’s not that great.” 

Jordan: [00:35:24] He broke down the studies so well, and basically. And I’m going to botch the actual numbers, but it was to the effect of “listen, this is how it works. If you do a standard HIIT workout, you might burn a net total of 72 extra calories over that 48-hour window.” Where he was like, “if you just did lower intensity for a total of 30-60 minutes, you’d burn significantly more than that.”

And it was just a great way of breaking down how people will deliberately misconstrue studies in order to promote their agenda, to promote their new product, for “after burn,” whatever it is. And I think nowadays people aren’t deliberately misconstruing them, they’re just consuming the information that has already been misconstrued so many times that they just believe it at face value.

So, I don’t think realistically most or any of the people listening to this struggle with over-prescribing cardio in order to not worry about nutrition. I would imagine pretty much everyone listening to this knows that nutrition is really the most important thing when it comes to fat loss, but still worth mentioning it on a top 10 list.

Mike: [00:36:34] Definitely. 

And I think you even gave us a 4B with the low-intensity, steady-state versus high-intensity cardio, 

Jordan: [00:36:43] Which I believe we spoke a lot about in the “Fat Loss Training Pyramid.” We spoke a lot about that. 

We think both are great, both HIIT and LISS are great, but if you want to learn why we think LISS is better — low-intensity, steady-state is better, generally, for fat loss, go listen to the “Fat Loss Training Pyramid,” which is a separate podcast episode. 

Mike: [00:37:06] And I don’t even think the point I’m about to mention is something that we talked about there, which is just a recent thought, that is: doing low-intensity, steady-state outside just gets you more time, 1) if you have sunlight, and if it’s an appropriate time of year for you based on where you live, getting some vitamin D is amazing for many reasons. Even if the UV isn’t great, even if it’s winter, we spend so much time inside and under fluorescent lights, hunched over a computer, with bad posture, so many of us, whether you’re doing online stuff, even just being in a gym all day and not getting out much, being outside, moving around is so beneficial.

Jordan: [00:38:00] Taking your shoes off. Getting on some grass.

Mike: [00:38:04] Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. 

So, for that reason, in addition to the ones that we mentioned in the “Fat Loss Pyramid” episode. 

Jordan: [00:38:16] What’s the next one? 

Mike: [00:38:17] The next one, and the last one for this episode… 

Jordan: [00:38:23] Oh yeah, we’re making it a two-part series. 

Mike: [00:38:24] Two parts series.

This is one that I’m just interested in hearing Jordan talk about, because he’s a sumo deadlift extraordinaire. 

I, myself, have three weeks of sumo deadlifting experience under my belt… 

Jordan: [00:38:43] This is good.

Mike: [00:38:49] Most coaches start clients with conventional deadlifts rather than sumo deadlifts.

Jordan: [00:38:55] Yeah. And that’s, in my opinion, a huge mistake. 

The main exception for the rule being, if someone has severe hip issues, starting them off with sumo is not a good idea. Taking a wider stance for someone who has hip issues, labral issues, you’d probably want to start them off with a closer stance, maybe something like a trap bar, as opposed to a sumo deadlift. But it actually works well that you and I are talking about it because when we first started deadlifting a number of weeks ago, your initial stance was conventional. 

Mike: [00:39:25] It was. It was. 

I started deadlifting late in my training career. I did random, goofy workouts for the first number of years, and then started doing heavy compound movements in college, but I was benching and overhead pressing and doing pull ups and barbell back squatting for a number of years before I started deadlifting. When I started deadlifting, it was conventional. I think it was actually Rippetoe. I think it was doing Starting Strength where I started conventional.

And it always felt what I thought was fine, and I ran that up for a few years until I hurt my back. And then I was like, “well, this stinks. I don’t really want to do this again.”

Jordan: [00:40:22] So a couple of weeks ago we started really working up our deadlifts. I would eventually love to get back to a 500 deadlift. Not anytime soon, no rush whatsoever. 

But when you started doing the conventional, how’d that feel? 

Mike: [00:40:38] With 135 on the bar, it felt pretty okay. And then when we started loading it more, it didn’t feel great. 

Jordan: [00:40:48] Low back area? Is that where it was? 

Mike: [00:40:50] The same, probably right off of the left side of my L4-L5.

Jordan: [00:40:56] And was at the first session or the second session that you tried sumo? 

Mike: [00:40:59] It was in the first session. 

Jordan: [00:41:00] And immediately felt better, right? 

Mike: [00:41:02] Yes. 

Jordan: [00:41:03] Why? What felt better? 

Mike: [00:41:06] I didn’t have a shooting pain down my lumbar spine. 

Jordan: [00:41:09] And this is exactly why I always start with sumo, unless someone has hip dysplasia or some type of a labral issue, whatever. 

This is a simple question for everyone listening: what requires more mobility, a close-stance squat or a wide-stance squat if you want to get to parallel? 

If you want to get to parallel, significantly more mobility is required in a close-stance squat. You need significantly more ankle mobility. You need significantly more thoracic mobility. If your hands are behind you on the bar, you need significantly more shoulder mobility in a close-stance squat. 

It’s way harder to close-stance squat. 

And when you look at a conventional deadlift, in the bottom position, it’s not a close-stance squat, but it’s very close to it. It’s just slight hip position changes that really make the difference.

But your stance is actually usually narrower, right? It’s even narrower than when you’re doing a close-stance squat. So narrower stance, which requires more mobility, way more ankle mobility, way more thoracic mobility. That’s the one that most people don’t consider — thoracic mobility in the bottom of a deadlift, especially a conventional deadlift.

If you don’t have sufficient thoracic mobility, upper back mobility, then inherently, you’re going to be arched hunched over like Quasimodo, you’re going to be rounded over and it’s going to be significantly more stressful on your lower back. As soon as you switch to a wider stance, just like if you look at a close-stance squat versus a wide-stance, squat — a close-stance squat, unless, the person has a tiny torso — if you just stand up right now, while you’re listening to this, do a close-stance squat. Your torso is going to lean forward more. Close-stance squat, inherently, your torso will lean forward more. Now do a wide stance squat. And I don’t mean just take your stance out two inches, I mean take your stance out four or five inches on each side, do a squat. Your torso will be significantly more upright.

So now you take this to a deadlift perspective: close stance, you’re going to lean forward way, way more, put way more stress on your lower back. You take your stance out four to five inches per foot, all of a sudden you can be way more upright. There’s significantly less of a mobility demand on your thoracic spine.

And if one part of your spine is moving, another part of your spine is moving. The whole thing is connected. That’s actually something I just learned about in jujitsu — how it all connects. If you ever want to control someone, if you ever want to control anybody in any situation, control their head.

Wherever the head goes, the body goes. 

And I’ve known about this in strength training forever, but I never related it to jujitsu, because I’m a white belt, but one of the main goals in jujitsu is to misalign the spine of your opponent. When the spine of your opponent is misaligned, they can’t move. They can’t attack you. 

When you bring their head to the left and their spine is staying straight, they can’t do anything. They’re completely misaligned. So, if one part of your spine is moving, then it’s going to be affected on another part of your spine. 

And this is where you see a lot of people on conventional deadlifts really trying to force this thoracic extension in the bottom of the movement when they don’t have the mobility. And what’s going to happen is they’re going to be essentially trying to force lumbar extension as well. 

The funny part is: they’re trying to extend their thoracic spine, which will also try and extend their lumbar spine, but they aren’t actually extending it. It’s still flexed because their mobility isn’t there. And then as soon as they start lifting, it will start to flex more under load and that’s when people have back issues, when it’s flexing under load. 

If you can’t even get in the right position from the start, then you’re really putting yourself at risk, which is why most people really hurt their backs doing a conventional deadlift. Not to mention when you got into sumo, your technique was great immediately. There was not really much shifting around. You’re like, “Oh, this just feels great.” 

Mike: [00:45:06] Yeah, it did. 

Jordan: [00:45:07] Sumo is just way easier to learn. 

Mike: [00:45:09] Lower hip starting position, easier to get into the bottom. More upright spine.

Jordan: [00:45:16] Yeah. Less fear around hurting yourself. 

For me — and this is basic logical coaching — you want to start with the progression that is easier. You don’t start with the progression that is more difficult. This is basic coaching across all aspects of coaching. 

You would probably teach your clients about calories before you started to go into each individual macro. It just makes sense. You start off with the more easy to understand, the base of it, and go from there. Same thing with strength training. You don’t start your client office snatches, you start them off with learning how to deadlift or maybe Romanian deadlift first, whatever it is. 

Start with the easier progression, not the harder. 

A lot of coaches will start their clients off with conventional deadlifts. I’m like, “this is stupid.” Unless they have a hip issue, you should be starting off with sumo. And even then, even those with hip issues, you can do a moderate sumo where they’re not super, super wide. 

The stance we’re doing is not that wide. It’s slightly wider than shoulder width apart, it’s basically a squat stance, we’re just doing it in a deadlift format with a slightly higher hip position than you would have in a squat and it feels great in lower back. So, if you’re progressing, start with the sumo, your clients will feel way better. 

Mike: [00:46:30] This applies here but also applies to any exercise regression and progression — start them off with the easier movement, see how it goes, and go from there rather than start someone off doing a more difficult variation or a more difficult exercise. 

Jordan: [00:46:52] It even plays back to the very first point we were talking about, which is getting a higher intensity, right? 

You can’t get a high intensity if the movement is too difficult to learn. You can reach a higher intensity earlier on in their training if they can master the movement. So, meet them where they’re at. If their mobility isn’t there yet, if their technique isn’t there yet, start them off with the easiest progression and with an easier progression, you can take them to a higher level of intensity.

If the technique is too difficult, they can’t get it, you can’t get them to high enough intensity to really make a difference. 

Mike: [00:47:25] Great list. I’m excited for part two, man.

Jordan: [00:47:27] I’m excited for part two, as well. 

Mike: [00:47:28] We have actually more than 10 on our list, so part two might even have some bonus, rapid fire at the end. We’ll see 

Jordan: [00:47:36] There we go.

Mike: [00:47:36] Or we might just cut a couple of them. 

Jordan: [00:47:40] Anything you want to end on? 

Mike: [00:47:42] No, this Chamomile tea is hitting me. I’m going to be asleep in 15 minutes. I’m excited for next week. 

I appreciate everyone listening very much. I hope you learned a thing or two from this episode and we’ll update you on our upcoming 36-hour fast.

Jordan: [00:47:59] Have a wonderful day.

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