00:11 Mike Vacanti: Hello, Jordan.
00:13 Jordan Syatt: What’s going on Michael?
00:15 Mike Vacanti: Not much.
00:17 Jordan Syatt: How’s the shower?
00:18 Mike Vacanti: It was a good shower, although I’m still feeling absolutely dead from the leg day that I just did.
00:24 Jordan Syatt: What’d you do?
00:25 Mike Vacanti: Just five exercises, three sets each, 15 sets, fasted, morning workout, lower body. I feel like I could lay down for the rest of the day and it would be a productive one.
00:37 Jordan Syatt: That’s what lower-body days do to you, they just… A good lower body day makes you feel like “Alright, I could literally do nothing the rest of the day and it was a good day.”
00:44 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I had a… Not a revelation but I remembered something halfway through the workout that I was gonna text you but then obviously I just saved for the podcast to surprise you with and it’s kind of in line with what we’ve spoken about recently with angry workouts and training hard even when you don’t have to or giving yourself a reason to take your training more seriously, even 10, 15 years into your “workout” career. I learned how to work hard. My entire work ethic was built on weightlifting and athletics. Any positive that trickled into school work for me, that trickled into business, that trickled into areas where I was able to work hard, I learned that skill and developed it through working out.
01:44 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. What age did you start working out at?
01:49 Mike Vacanti: When I got cut from the eighth-grade hockey team, that winter and then even more than that, the following summer, like in the offseason when I was… I was doing a lot of plan metrics, I was running, I was shooting a lot of pucks. I was skating a lot and then 9th-10th grade is when I started weightlifting.
02:11 Jordan Syatt: And it started because you got cut and you’re like “Alright, well, I can’t do this, I gotta step it up.”
02:18 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. It came from a place of anger and whatever those feelings were but that pushing… All the cliche stuff that now is cliche, now it’s almost like it’s cool to be apathetic about your own training, it’s cool to kinda be very anti-fitness even while being a coach.
02:41 Jordan Syatt: Right right. That’s so funny.
02:43 Mike Vacanti: But in the middle of this leg day, I think I was doing RDLs and just not… I kinda felt like I had to puke and just not wanting to finish the workout but switching a song, like getting something going, getting in some anger, and getting through it, got me into a mentally better place that… And I haven’t had a session like that in a while.
03:05 Jordan Syatt: Almost like you’ve got something to prove like “I’ll show them” mindset, right?
03:13 Mike Vacanti: Absolutely.
03:13 Jordan Syatt: And that’s what it was like for my… I vividly remember for many years but especially when I was training for my 4x deadlift, 4x bodyweight deadlift, like so many people… Whether or not a lot of people said it’s not possible or it’s not gonna happen, it’s like I made it up in my head and I was like “I’ll show them.” and that’s what fueled so much of those workouts and I could see that transfer over as well to like posting three times a day on Instagram or whatever it is. It’s like whether or not there’s actually anybody who’s doubting you, making it up in your head as though there are people doubting you, you can actually really feel some great workouts, great work sessions, great… Just great adherence to something because you bring so much passion to it.
03:55 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, exactly. That reminds me of when we were watching that Michael Jordan documentary, the Chicago Bulls documentary, and he literally, [chuckle] after a loss, he made up a story about some guy on the other team who was like “Nice game Mike.” and then the next game used that to fuel him to just dominate this basketball game and then after, I think he was asked or maybe it was in the current times…
04:23 Jordan Syatt: Years later, it’s in the documentary, yeah.
04:25 Jordan Syatt: He’s like “Yeah, that didn’t happen.”
04:30 Mike Vacanti: That’s something I used to see Gary do too, which is like… I don’t even know what you would call it but it’s an effective strategy to make yourself do something, to make yourself work harder, to make yourself work longer, to make yourself accomplish something. [chuckle] Yeah.
04:49 Jordan Syatt: It’s funny, it’s like a… I think there are a couple of things here, like on one hand, people might be like “Oh, I don’t wanna have angry workouts.” it’s not about you actually being an angry person, it’s about finding something that fuels… If you wanna call it anger, if you wanna call it like your “I’ll show you” mentality type thing, I think that… And for me, anytime I listen to Eminem, that’s like… As soon as I turn on Eminem, that mentality pops up immediately. It’s like, I’ll show… The idea…
05:24 Jordan Syatt: It’s funny, I remember watching Andy Frisella years ago, where he had this whole big talk about… He’s like “You don’t have any haters.” He’s like “You don’t have any haters, stop it. The only heater that you have is in your head.” It’s like “No one’s doubting you, no one’s going out of their way to say… ” It’s like it’s all in your head but it’s like, that’s the biggest one you have to overcome, that biggest hater. So even if the “I’ll show you” is to yourself, cool but I think it’s almost easier to conceptualize other people not believing you’re gonna be able to do it so that it really fuels your anger and your motivation and your desire to work hard.
06:01 Mike Vacanti: Absolutely. There’s also, I think, a physiological component to… So obviously that’s a psychological… We’ll call it a trick or a concept, whatever and we can set that aside for a second. You were… What was the question you were asked recently about fasted workouts?
06:22 Jordan Syatt: Someone DMed me and they were like “Can you explain why I have so much more energy when I work out early in the morning completely fasted?” And it was funny because you and I have spoken about that a lot recently and your workouts and how amazing you felt and how much energy you’ve had from that.
06:39 Mike Vacanti: Yeah and physiologically, like no, if you have carbs and protein two hours before your lift, you have more carbs in your muscle cells, you have more muscle glycogen for training, for “normal” weight training so we’re not one-rep maxing and we’re not doing sets of 30 or 40 but we’re in a reasonable like five to 15-rep range. It’s more physiologically optimal to have those carbohydrates, performance is going to increase but for whatever reason, fasted workouts for me recently and historically, like in the 2013-2014 timeframe in the morning, have been different and better from a performance perspective, better from how I feel during them perspective and so I can relate to the question you got.
07:30 Mike Vacanti: Part of what I’m thinking and it’s so bro-science, which makes me like it even more I think but it’s like the cliche, like hungry lion metaphor, like a lion hasn’t eaten in how many days and that’s why it’s so hungry to go chase down its prey but you never see a full satisfied lion go…
07:53 Jordan Syatt: It’s true though.
07:56 Mike Vacanti: There’s something about having… And even physiologically, having food in my stomach and doing a heavy… Whatever A1 is. I’m not doing a lot of back squatting or whatever but a super heavy reverse lunge or a super heavy Bulgarian split squat, I feel like I might shit myself if I just ate a decent amount of food and when I’m fasted and I’m in there like there’s none of that. I don’t know what exactly it is but there’s something to that with having more energy mentally and/or physically fasted.
08:28 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. It’s funny, for me, for whatever reason, if I don’t eat before a heavy-lifting session, not good but if I don’t eat before, whether it’s Jiu-jitsu or more of an endurance-based thing, way better. Like I can’t really do much… And obviously not if I’m running like… I don’t run 5Ks, I don’t run 15Ks, whatever it is but if I was going for a very long distance, that’d be a different story but for something more like short, high intensity, more endurance-based, less strength-based, I do way better fasted. I just feel way better, I don’t like having something heavy in my stomach but if I’m lifting heavy for whatever reason, I actually I do feel better for me personally fed, unless, unless, unless it’s a very early morning workout, that then where like very early morning workout, maybe I’ll be sipping on just protein and water and just to make sure I have some amino acids but otherwise, it’s interesting how it affects different people but early morning workouts, fasted, I definitely feel really good.
09:37 Mike Vacanti: I wonder how much of that is dependent on your nutrition from the day and night before. So if you have… Let’s take what you’re doing right now as an example. You’re in a deficit, you have your competition coming up, you’re dialed in and you’re not eating 200 grams of carbs at night before bed ever but if you…
10:00 Jordan Syatt: Correct, unfortunately.
10:01 Mike Vacanti: If you were… [chuckle] If you were to do that and then have an early morning, next-day fasted workout, that would be, in my estimation, a fundamentally different session than if you ate 1,400 calories the day before and you only ate 90 grams of carbs and you didn’t have many late in the day, just because that’s how it worked out and then you eight hours and then you’re completely depleted trying to train the next day and trying to do whatever, 18 hard sets, those are different scenarios. ‘Cause even I noticed, it might’ve been last week when I had the steak and gnocchi night and then the next morning I had a great fasted workout, that’s a way different kind of fasted workout than if I eat in a deficit the day before, don’t eat a lot at night and then train fasted the next day.
10:49 Jordan Syatt: Which brings up an important topic around this specific discussion, which is if you’re gonna train fasted, probably better to make sure you have a big meal the night before, like load up.
11:00 Mike Vacanti: The carb back-loading? Wasn’t that like a thing for a year or two?
11:05 Jordan Syatt: I think that was like 2013, 2014, that was huge but the way that I saw it implemented was basically having these massive cheat meals, [chuckle] like overwhelmingly huge, specific, deliberately emphasizing like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and basically just going as far off-track as you possibly can and the only reason I remember this is because the gym that I worked at, people were gaining weight on it and there I just saw them developing binge eating disorders, hand over fist. I was like “God, this is not being used properly.” But yes, I think that’s basically following that idea, which is load up at night and then you have a better fasted workout.
11:47 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, that’s obviously taking it too far and probably an improper… Like if you have someone who wants to lose 30 pounds of body fat, it makes a lot less sense to do something that technical than someone who’s more in like a re-composition mindset who’s more advanced in their training.
12:07 Jordan Syatt: You know what’s interesting though, as you were talking about me being in a deficit and all that stuff, I started to think it’s so easy to fall into disordered eating habits if you’re not being aware of what you’re doing when you’re in a deficit. So for example, I’m in a deficit, I’ve lost like 18 pounds right now and I feel great and people have been asking me like “Are you worried about falling back into binge eating disorder stuff or any of the stuff that you did when you were a wrestler?” And it’s a resounding “No, I’m not worried about it at all because I have such a healthier relationship with food and I understand the science better.”
12:44 Jordan Syatt: But I can still notice my mind doing things that I wouldn’t want it to do and that if I wasn’t aware of it, that I could see rolling into something bad. For example, just being in a deficit for this amount of time and going into a more extreme deficit, I notice myself thinking about the foods that I want to eat once the competition’s over.
13:09 Jordan Syatt: This is one of those things that you hear physique competitors, bodybuilders, they do this all the time where they’re super strict for 12-16 weeks leading up to their show and they make a big list of all the foods they’re gonna eat once it’s over and they have this huge binge and they gain 30 pounds back and you see after their show, they’re having the doughnuts and the pizzas and the cakes and the ice creams and the entire prep is fueled by what are they gonna do once it’s over? And I can even start to see in my head how I was like “Oh, the first thing I’m gonna have when this competition’s over is pizza.”
13:38 Jordan Syatt: And it’s like yeah, I’m definitely gonna do that but that can easily become something more serious, the more strict and rigid you get with your diet, which is it’s… This is one of the reasons why we need to be aware of the right way to promote flexible dieting. On one hand, it doesn’t mean eat whatever you want but this, I think, in my mind, is the perfect reason to understand why it’s so important not to be so unbelievably, unyieldingly, strict and rigid. ‘Cause when you do that and you go into such an outrageously extreme deficit, you’re setting yourself up to binge. It’s just like that’s literally what you’re doing.
14:13 Mike Vacanti: Yeah and it depends on who you are and what you’re doing, right?
14:19 Jordan Syatt: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
14:21 Mike Vacanti: And I think almost like a bodybuilding show, physique show’s a great example because almost everyone there… The majority of people trying to get stage lean aren’t doing something “balanced” like…
14:34 Jordan Syatt: Correct.
14:37 Mike Vacanti: Having pizza once a week, all the way up to competition. One, it’s not in the culture, and two, there’s some merit to being more controlled than that to put your “absolute best package” on stage and your competition’s also an interesting example and we can go maybe a little more in-depth on this but are there any situations where you… Or let’s say this. Let’s say you go out, goes super well, whatever, I don’t even wanna forecast but… And you do another competition six months down the road. Would you do anything differently with your nutrition and part B, could that include eating pizza during the cut?
15:26 Jordan Syatt: Yeah well, I think this one is an interesting… Because over quarantine, I gained a bunch of weight. I got up to 160. Then I did my mini-cut, I lost 10 pounds, and then right near the end of my mini-cut is when I decided I was gonna do this competition and I was talking to my coach like “What weight class should I do?” He was like “Oh, you should do this weight class.” I was like “Oh God so I’ve got another 10 pounds to lose on top of it.” So basically it was like “Okay so now… ” it was just very lucky that I did the mini-cut at that time ’cause if I didn’t, then I would have had to lose 20 pounds and that would not have been good.
16:04 Mike Vacanti: Sorry to interrupt. Did you eat any pizza during the mini-cut?
16:07 Jordan Syatt: Oh yeah, oh yeah. During the mini-cut… The mini-cut was so easy. The mini-cut was unbelievably easy. It was, I think, probably the best example of flexible dieting that I’ve ever done publicly, that I’ve ever seen publicly too and I made a whole YouTube video on it but very relaxed. I had alcohol several nights a week, I had some pizza, I had peanut M&Ms here and there. So it was very relaxed and very comfortable and very doable.
16:30 Jordan Syatt: The reason that I had to speed up the cut is because I had a timeline now for the competition. Going forward, if this goes the way I would like it to and I eventually want to compete again, then I’ll just make sure I keep my weight lower. So I maintain a lower weight so I don’t have to cut as much for the next competition.
16:49 Mike Vacanti: So the cut is maybe four weeks or…
16:53 Jordan Syatt: Correct. Exactly. Yep, that’s exactly right.
16:57 Mike Vacanti: Got it. Because then the duration of how long you’re depriving yourself of specific foods is shorter or you could… Say it would take three weeks of a super aggressive cut or you can do a six-week, like more lax cut, including more foods. It’s also important to mention, from person to person, maintenance calories play a huge role in this idea of “Just work it into your macros.” If you have someone who can… Well, even if you have someone who’s very overweight, for example, and can lose a significant amount of body fat on 2,800 calories a day, that’s very different than someone whose maintenance calories are lower like you.
17:47 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, if you and I looked at our maintenance calories, we’d have very different maintenance calories and what we could fit in is obviously very different.
17:55 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. Alright. I have some questions. Let’s keep riffing for a little bit because I’m enjoying the riff session.
18:03 Jordan Syatt: Alright.
18:04 Mike Vacanti: What else is going on?
18:04 Jordan Syatt: Riff master Vacanti, what do you wanna riff on, bro?
18:07 Mike Vacanti: There were some fasting questions and we already hit on that.
18:12 Jordan Syatt: Okay. What’s up with you, man? Everything good in life?
18:17 Mike Vacanti: Yeah man, things are… Well, I thought I had a stroke the other day.
18:22 Jordan Syatt: This is a good story. [laughter]
18:24 Mike Vacanti: Alright so…
18:25 Jordan Syatt: I told Rico and he goes “That sounds like Mike. [laughter]
18:29 Mike Vacanti: Dude, it’s literally never happened to me before. So I don’t think it sounds like me at all, to be honest. I wish Rico is here, I’d choke him out.
18:41 Mike Vacanti: I was gonna fly to New York because we had the mentorship Q&A last night and we try and do as many of these podcasts in person as we can. It’s also just good to work on some business stuff together and hang out and I wanted to test out the Syatt Fitness Gym and all these good things.
18:58 Jordan Syatt: Oh yeah, looking forward to that.
19:00 Mike Vacanti: So was I. That would have been this leg day. Yesterday, completely normal day or Monday I guess, woke up. I had a little bit of coffee, a good night sleep, went and got a good workout in, came back, showered, did little work, got a good meal in me and went to the airport and I was just chilling at my gate, I had plenty of time, sitting on my phone, replying to texts and all of a sudden I was seeing double vision of the words on my phone so I couldn’t read and I was looking at my phone and trying to read and I couldn’t read and then all my peripheral vision, mostly on the right but really everywhere was this swirling like blur and…
19:49 Jordan Syatt: Jeez.
19:51 Mike Vacanti: But I was like “Alright, this is super strange but I feel fine.” And I was like “My heart rate’s normal. I feel alright.” I stood up, I was like “Am I getting faint?” I’m like “No, I just can’t really see.” And nothing else was different and then they were boarding, this was probably like seven minutes into me feeling like this and it hadn’t changed and I was like “I shouldn’t get on this plane because I don’t know what this is [chuckle] and if I’m like having some issue of getting blood to my brain or… ” I don’t know. I was like “I don’t wanna be on an airplane for this.” And so I just walked back from the gate at Minneapolis-St Paul Airport and called my mom, had her come pick me up and…
20:37 Jordan Syatt: Oh you didn’t get an Uber back?
20:41 Mike Vacanti: No she… No, I didn’t.
20:43 Jordan Syatt: Got it.
20:43 Mike Vacanti: I actually did get an Uber and then it was like a 4.3 star and the thought of keeping a mask on for another half-hour just had me like… I was like “I’m not doing this.” [laughter]
20:56 Jordan Syatt: “Mom, I need you to come get me.” [laughter]
20:58 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. [chuckle] And then on the drive home, I started getting a headache and after some… Well, who knows? I’m gonna go to an eye doctor and just figure out like… Make sure I don’t have a detached retina or…
21:11 Jordan Syatt: Has it happened since?
21:14 Mike Vacanti: No, no, it hasn’t but on Google, there’s a few real bad things and then I’m almost certain it was a migraine and there’s a phase in a migraine called an aura, which is the precursor to the migraine and that vision thing is part of it, which has literally never happened and me. Both my parents said they’ve had it before and I’m much less worried now but… Yeah, that was interesting.
21:37 Jordan Syatt: I thought… ‘Cause when you were texting me when you were on the way to the airport, you’re like “Yeah, running a little bit late, had to coach Gary.” And then when you called me, I thought you were gonna tell me that you missed the flight and you’re like “No, I didn’t miss it, bro. I had a mini-stroke.”
21:55 Mike Vacanti: I was literally sitting there eating this banana and turkey cheese melt sandwich, just feeling great and then couldn’t read, couldn’t see. So yeah, knock on wood. Everything’s good now.
22:10 Jordan Syatt: Now you’re good and we got that Zoom call with the mentorship, which is great.
22:14 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, it gave us an opportunity to… Well, Facebook Live is… And I asked Gary, I was like “Do you ever do Facebook Live and bring someone on?” He’s like “No, never.” So I couldn’t get his opinion on the audio situation but it’s mind-boggling to me that that company can have a product like Live with someone and the audio is incomprehensively bad, like impossible to do something on. So I got a Zoom account now and Zoom is… Like we talked about, I understand why the stocks skyrocketed during the pandemic because it’s an amazing product.
22:51 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. They have every possible situation covered, super high quality. Yeah, the Facebook Live really, if you’re trying to bring someone on, Susan and I struggled with that for a long time with the inner circle, just like, it sucks, they really need to fix that.
23:05 Mike Vacanti: Yeah yeah, it’s brutal.
23:08 Jordan Syatt: You wanna answer some questions?
23:09 Mike Vacanti: We’ll get into questions. “Does lifting weights help with weight loss?”
23:15 Jordan Syatt: What do you think?
23:18 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, for sure. However, I think one of the biggest misconceptions, and this is coming from our massive question list or one of the biggest mistakes around this are, one, people caring about the calorie expenditure of their workout so gearing a workout… And I see coaches in classes and certain situations, I saw a trainer training a group at my gym, taking them through in the middle of the gym floor, just basically burn as many calories as you can and I remember kinda shouting out like… I don’t remember exactly what she said, something along the lines of “This is gonna be the hardest workout of your… Or you’ll remember this one like you’re… ” [chuckle] And people were into it but…
24:08 Mike Vacanti: So there’s that aspect of it, that mistake. There’s also… Yeah, I guess that’s two mistakes; one, thinking about the calorie expenditure of that workout and two, changing the workout, like a muscle gain and a fat loss workout for the purposes of losing fat and retaining muscle and building strength and being reasonably aesthetic and being healthy, like the nuts and bolts are the same, like exercise selection is mostly the same, rest times aren’t too far off, obviously you’re gonna bring total volume down from a bulk to a cut but the purpose of strength training during a fat-loss phase is building or maintaining strength and building or maintaining or losing the minimum possible muscle. So your workouts during fat loss are really for aesthetics and performance and your nutrition is what is gonna drive the majority of actual fat loss.
25:13 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. I think… The question is “Does exercise help with fat loss?” Is that what it is? Right?
25:19 Mike Vacanti: “Does lifting weights help with weight loss?”
25:23 Jordan Syatt: Got it, okay. Yeah so lifting weights, yes it can but I think the issue is when people lift weights or exercise, I’m gonna use them interchangeably here, when people lift weights or exercise with the sole or primary intent of losing weight, it usually backfires oftentimes because if their primary intent through that exercise is to lose weight, usually what they’ll do is they’ll pay attention to how many calories their tracker’s saying they’re burning, then they’ll end up thinking “Okay, cool, I can eat these calories back.” when really that it’s probably you’re burning way less than that and then oftentimes their focus for the workout is trying to go for a feeling, trying to feel the burn, trying to get the sweat, trying to get their heart rate up and they don’t end up doing what’s actually gonna give them the best result, which is usually lifting heavier, progressive overload, they don’t focus on objective measures of progress, whether it’s chin-up strength, deadlift strength, push-up strength, whatever it is, they just focus on feeling tired and I think if your goal is weight loss, you should be much more focused on nutrition for weight loss and strength training and exercise for performance.
26:37 Jordan Syatt: And I think this is an important distinction to make because I’m not saying that exercising for weight loss is bad but what I am saying is what you focus on will really determine how consistent you are with it and how well you do with it and if you’re focused through exercise is, purely weight loss, you’re gonna be missing out on the vast majority of objective benefits and measures that you’re not keeping track of. So I think if you really wanna focus on weight loss, focus on the nutrition aspect for weight loss and for the strength training, exercising portion, do your best to focus on improving in exercise and weightlifting, improving your mile time, improving, I don’t know, if you wanna do a handstand, improving your push-ups. Focus on your performance measures, not your weight loss measures because the real major reason why you will or won’t be losing weight is nutrition anyway.
27:24 Mike Vacanti: Mm-hmm and I’ll throw on top of that something that I know we both are a fan of, both for ourselves and clients, which is walking, like increasing your steps and whether that means paying attention to steps and trying to hit a daily count or just knowing… Like building into your routine. I go for a walk every afternoon to break up the day or I go for a walk in the morning or the evening but consistently, ideally outside, if you can, going for a walk, which is a great way to increase calorie expenditure. Yeah, there’s a number of benefits but that’s like a bonus on top of nutrition priority number one, lifting weights priority one/two, and then a cherry on top, getting more movement in.
28:18 Jordan Syatt: You know what’s funny, just ’cause the majority of the people listening to this are coaches. A lot of coaches feel like when they’re making content, they need to make content specifically around the most advanced stuff, like we need to be talking about insulin resistance and we need to be talking about the Krebs cycle and we need to be talking about doing these advanced movements for bands and chains and depth jumps and…
28:38 Jordan Syatt: It’s like the times that I get the best response to my content is always when it is the most simple thing, whether it’s “Hey, you should walk more.” “Hey, drink more water.” “Hey, eat fruit.” Literally, these are the things that get the best response. They’re not the best response from coaches but they’re the best response from people who will join the inner circle and from people who actually need my help and it’s so funny how coaches… The majority of their content is stuff that’s really trying to impress other coaches.
29:13 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
29:14 Jordan Syatt: That’s all they’re doing and as you were talking, I was thinking, man, the majority of our audience is coaches and I could imagine a number of them are listening to this right now being bored, being bored with “Why are they talking about steps? I know this is important.” It’s like, I know you fucking know this is important, I know you know that but then why on your Instagram are you constantly talking about… Why do you call it the posterior chain on your Instagram and why don’t you just say your hamstrings or the muscles in the back of your legs? Say it in a way that your clients and people can understand it. I know you know that steps are important but if we’re taking the time to talk about it right now, take the damn time to talk about… ‘Cause a lot of your clients don’t think it’s important no matter how much you tell them so keep telling them it’s important and show them.
30:00 Mike Vacanti: Yes and what you just said is a great point because that is a real problem. On top of that, you can know something without doing it or you can know something without remembering it and grinding like in the gym especially early mornings, late nights, like weird sleep schedule, a lot of hours trying to fit content into your workday, it’s hard but remember, your own movement and your own training is going to benefit your business in a number of ways, directly and indirectly, both from like we’ve talked about making content about your own fitness goals and what you’re doing, indirectly by being healthier and being better for your clients directly through the…
30:48 Mike Vacanti: Like we talked about in the last episode, I think it was which was, if you’re actually executing on goals that are at least somewhat related to the ones that your clients have, you’re more in it. For example, yesterday we were on the phone, talked to Jordan on the phone every day of my life and…
31:02 Jordan Syatt: Multiple times a day. [laughter]
31:03 Mike Vacanti: And you were like “Dude… ” ’cause you’ve been ordering food online, I think but you were like “Dude, grocery stores have so much good stuff in them. Like walking around the grocery store, there’s so many great options to stay full in a deficit.” And you’re reminding me of this veggie pack that you like and if you weren’t doing this, you wouldn’t have… If you didn’t have your competition, if you didn’t have something working towards, you wouldn’t have that idea, that thought that you just shared that more people are going to benefit from. So doing what we say, even if it’s simple and even if you know it, is super important.
31:41 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, yeah and of course, you know this but I bet us saying this will spark you to actually do it in the same way that your clients might know walking is good for them but you saying it might spark them to do it. Right? It’s like yeah, you know that doing this stuff, taking action on it is important but maybe you’re being an idiot and you’re not like being as consistent as you’re being or you’re being too fancy with your content, whatever it is. It’s like the basic stuff done well over time is the best formula for you and your clients.
32:14 Mike Vacanti: Yeah and if it sounds like we’re preaching at you, we are. [chuckle] Sure, we are but also I have this nice wooded area in Minnesota where I’ve been going for walks almost every single day and it’s amazing because there’s no people around. I’m in nature, I love it and I’ve been increasing the duration and just driving more and more benefit but for the three years prior to this, I didn’t prioritize that aspect of my routine, like I lost that aspect of a 45-minute walk every night like I used to do. We all have ebbs and flows in our own areas of our life and just use it as a reminder to maybe pick back up if you’re slipping there.
33:00 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. But seriously, grocery stores, they’re great.
33:08 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. [chuckle]
33:08 Jordan Syatt: What a blessing, right?
33:08 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, absolutely.
33:09 Jordan Syatt: That we live in a country where we’re like, you go to the grocery store down the street or not even… I mean there are areas in this country where a grocery store is not down the street. There are areas where people have to go for miles and miles and miles but what a blessing that you go into a grocery store and you’ve got all these fruits and vegetables and all of these… Even these processed foods, all these coaches love to hate on processed foods, even processed foods that are very nutritious and they make eating healthy easier, they’re like maybe…
33:39 Jordan Syatt: ‘Cause for so many people, they might not have access to be able to store food for a very long period of time so getting something that’s either canned or packaged actually is better for them and at least it’s that or something that they get at McDonald’s, it’s like, cool, go stock up on these processed foods in the grocery store that are gonna last a longer time that you don’t need to worry about refrigeration, it’s like there’s so much good stuff there.
34:00 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
34:00 Jordan Syatt: It’s really crazy.
34:00 Mike Vacanti: Yeah and if you…
34:01 Jordan Syatt: And food science is incredible too, that they have… That through science, we’ve been able to develop these foods that because maybe we won’t be able to them fresh, we’ve been able to figure out ways to preserve them longer, that you still get a huge percentage of the benefits from them.
34:18 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
34:18 Jordan Syatt: This is one of my major issues with the whole hating on processed foods nonsense. It’s like listen, every food is processed. Unless you’re growing your food in your backyard, it’s processed, number one. Number two is like a lot of people don’t have access or aren’t capable of only eating unprocessed foods all the time. So instead of just always being like “Oh fuck processed foods.” it’s like, how about we actually be more realistic and say “Listen, let’s have a talk about this. Processed foods aren’t inherently bad but you probably also shouldn’t be eating McDonald’s every day.”
34:48 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. There’s such a wide variety of… Because maybe I make the mistake of, when I see processed foods, I just think a sleeve of Oreos.
35:00 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
35:00 Mike Vacanti: And that’s obviously not true by definition but I guess the way I have used the term or I don’t even really use the term often but the way I have thought about the term is hyper-palatable, fat plus sugar, just smashing dopamine and making you continue to force-feed yourself rather than frozen fruit or something along those lines.
35:26 Jordan Syatt: Yeah yeah yeah.
35:28 Mike Vacanti: Oreos are impossible to portion control.
35:32 Jordan Syatt: Literally impossible.
35:33 Mike Vacanti: Yeah.
35:34 Jordan Syatt: I saw… Oh yeah, ’cause I was… You mentioned I was watching Seinfeld the other day and there’s an episode where Elaine was eating Oreos and I was like “Man, I wonder how many takes she had to do of this scene and how many Oreos she might have actually had to eat.” ‘Cause oftentimes you’ll notice they actually eat the food, they’re just sort of barely licking it or biting it and I’m like “Oh because I bet if they had to do it over and over and over again, that would be a lot of Oreos. They’re super smart with it.” I’m like if I’m gonna open the thing of Oreos, it’s like, I’m gonna eat a lot of Oreos so you can’t just have one.
36:08 Mike Vacanti: Dude, that’s where environment is so huge. When clients and especially newer clients say something to me along the lines of like, maybe they make a comment about a food that they… Say someone… I got a guy who really enjoys baking and lives by himself and so when he bakes, there’s no one… Unless he’s giving it away, he just has a cake sitting there and… I actually have two but yes and environment and the foods that you’re around, like I constantly say it’s not that you have “bad” willpower, every single human being, if they have foods they really enjoy that are high fat, high carb, sugar, delicious, right there you can eat a lot of, no one can resist that forever. So that’s why it’s setting up… It’s the cliche, only buy “cheat” foods when you plan on eating them and the quantities you wanna eat, which is a good rule of thumb overall, because just having it sit there, it’s like, it’s too hard to fight that off.
37:20 Jordan Syatt: Thank God baking isn’t one of my hobbies. [chuckle] Not ’cause I don’t like it but I don’t know how to do it. It’s just like if I was baking all the time, it would be a huge issue. I’d just be making croissants and eating them all day.
37:31 Mike Vacanti: I’d be eating the dough. It wouldn’t even… The food wouldn’t get made because the dough would all get eaten.
37:38 Jordan Syatt: Just the raw dough is so good.
37:41 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, yeah. Just worth the risk too. My sister was over here a couple of weeks back, just… She had… She teaches kindergarten and they’re doing remote learning and she had a day where she could just come over and bake gingersnap cookies and I ate 14 and I wasn’t…
38:00 Jordan Syatt: Was it actually 14?
38:01 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. They’re little. Like, let’s… They’re little. [chuckle] Maybe 70 cals a pop, nothing crazy here but yeah, it was six and then another two and then another six like…
38:16 Mike Vacanti: But environment’s massive. Alright. What else should I pick from this list? Here’s a new angle we can take. What are you feeling? We got nutrition here, we got workouts, we got business, we have…
38:36 Jordan Syatt: Let’s do business.
38:38 Mike Vacanti: Alright.
38:39 Jordan Syatt: That’s like the popular topic. That’s the one that… We’ll give them a business one.
38:43 Mike Vacanti: I like it. I got a few on here. Here’s something that we… Part of the cool thing about Zoom was at the end of the Q&A, we got to bring people on, which was sweet and Sam asked something along these lines that I think other people benefit from but…
39:01 Jordan Syatt: Sam V. PT!
39:03 Mike Vacanti: Sam V. “How much should I charge online clientele if I’m beginning to get too busy?”
39:10 Jordan Syatt: This is a great question.
39:12 Mike Vacanti: And I’ll even stack it because there’s another similar one here on the list. “How to get over the fear of charging too much?”
39:20 Jordan Syatt: Yup. Yup.
39:21 Mike Vacanti: You wanna start us out there?
39:22 Jordan Syatt: Yeah so this is a… It’s a very important question. It’s a very common question. I’m trying to figure out where I wanna start with it. I’ll say generally, there’s two sides of the coin here. On one side, you have the people who are the gurus, the masterminds, the academies, that are telling you to charge an inordinate amount of money, an amount of money that makes you feel like just a piece of shit. Like they’re telling you to charge high ticket coaching prices like $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 per week of coaching. It’s like that’s just… If it makes you feel like a piece of shit, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it and your gut will tell you that. Your instinct will tell you that.
40:17 Mike Vacanti: Good rule of thumb.
40:20 Jordan Syatt: That being said, there’s the other side of the coin where if you’re charging too little or not enough, you’ll begin to resent your clients and you’ll feel like you’re not being paid for what you’re actually providing them is worth, okay and you have to find the balance here and I’d say, you know how there’s a difference between when you’re working out, there’s a difference between pain and discomfort or good pain and bad pain, right? It’s like when you’re working out, if you get a sharp shooting pain in your back, probably not a good pain. If you’re working out and your muscles are burning, that’s an okay pain. Right?
41:00 Jordan Syatt: So this is sort of the same distinction we have to make now with prices. If the pain makes you feel like a piece of shit, that is not a good pain. If the pain makes you nervous about raising your prices, that is an okay pain. It’s okay to feel nervous about raising your prices. In fact, if you didn’t feel nervous about it, I think that’d be a little bit weird. There isn’t a single point in my entire career where I was never nervous when I was raising my prices. It’s okay to feel nervous and you should feel nervous but the question is, is the amount that you’re charging, does that make you feel okay with yourself? If you feel okay with yourself, the question isn’t “Will people do it?”
41:42 Jordan Syatt: That’s not the question to ask. It’s not, will people pay you this? The question is, will you feel okay with yourself? For me personally, at the most that I would charge one-on-one coaching clients was between $300 to $400 a month. I tried more than that. There were times where I went significantly higher than that and every time I felt like a piece of shit. I didn’t like how I felt doing that so I stopped doing it. Anything under $300 a month after a certain effort, about four or five years, I was like “Alright, that’s too little for the amount that I’m giving them and for my time and knowledge and expertise, that’s not enough.” And I would notice I would feel a little bit resentful, which wasn’t fair to them, that was my fault. So you have to find the balance between where you’re feeling valued and what your product is worth and also between that point of charging too much just doesn’t make you feel good.
42:32 Mike Vacanti: We’re on the same page, you know that and that’s where my prices have ended up too and stayed for probably four to five years, at about $350 a month, US. I wanna dig a little more on what exactly you felt like when you were charging more than that and you didn’t feel good about it, what were those feelings or what specifically about it didn’t feel good to you?
43:02 Jordan Syatt: That’s a really good question. What didn’t feel good? I felt like I… Okay, so I actually think this sort of makes sense. I was talking earlier about how it’s not how much they will pay you, it’s about how much feels right. When I charge more than that, it became a, “I wonder if they’ll actually pay me this amount?” It wasn’t because that’s what I thought my service was worth, it’s because I wanted to see if they would actually pay me that amount and once they did, there was guilt there. I felt guilty, I felt ashamed. I was like…
43:41 Mike Vacanti: And that guilt was a mismatch of how much you were being paid versus what they were getting for that money?
43:51 Jordan Syatt: Correct. That’s exactly right. Yep and then after a few times of doing that, I was like… That feeling of guilt wasn’t worth it. So I’m not gonna do that anymore and sort of going back to the discussion around environment, if you’re surrounding yourself with people who, all they care about is money and all they care about is squeezing every dollar out of every client and making sure that they’re getting paid for what you are worth, it’s like, then yeah, you’ll probably be able to justify and convince yourself that you should be getting paid a ton of money for every client. This isn’t my way of saying making money is bad, again, I would charge between $300 to $400 a month for online coaching but I know there are many people out there who are like “You should be charging $3,000, $5,000 for 12 weeks.”
44:33 Jordan Syatt: It’s like, I don’t really think that it’s worth that unless you’re there with them personally every single day making their meals or grocery shopping for them, I’m like, yeah, that’s definitely worth it but if you’re sending them their macros and their new program every month and you’re communicating via email, shut the fuck up. Get off your high horse. You shouldn’t be charging that much. You just shouldn’t.
44:57 Jordan Syatt: So yeah so I think you have to figure out if you feel guilty for charging a certain amount, then it’s probably not right. That being said, it’s very easy to confuse guilt with nerves, right?
45:10 Mike Vacanti: Mm-hmm.
45:11 Jordan Syatt: If you’re nervous about raising your prices, it doesn’t mean you feel guilty. It means you’re nervous about raising your prices. So try it, go for it and push it and push it and push it and you’ll eventually reach a point where it’s like “Okay, this is too much.” or like this is where you’re happy and you stay right there.
45:27 Mike Vacanti: I think one more thing that helps people kinda like… ‘Cause we’re talking about a feeling, we’re talking about something that and everyone’s feelings are different but having some objective knowledge of where you sit relative to other people that are providing very similar services is useful and that range is basically… We’ll call it as low as… We’ll call it $100 a month and that’s earlier on but really in that $100-$400/$200-$400, $200-$300 range, is where the majority of coaches offering online coaching, either are right now or end up once they’ve built up their business a little bit.
46:22 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. I think that’s a really good range, starting with $100 a month. If you… $100 a month is $25 a week. That’s not much at all. You could stay there… If you’re not sure where to start, start there, $100 a month. Do that for your first four, eight, 12 clients, build your systems, get them developed. When more and more people start reaching out to you, go up to $150, go to $175, and then I think once you’ve gotten significantly better and more experienced with what you’re doing, $200 a month for a low-end, $50 a week, is a very reasonable price point to start at if you’ve been coaching for a certain period of time, if you’ve spent enough getting educated, if you’ve been… I think that’s a really good starting point for most coaches at $200 a month.
47:08 Mike Vacanti: Yeah and you glazed over something there that’s really important. There’s a lot of benefit or… Not starting at $300 or $400 a month from the get-go is so beneficial because you’re going to get more clients at 100 a month than you would at $350 a month and the experience of coaching more clients early on, one, makes you a better coach, two, like you mentioned, helps you build your systems, because you build your systems by doing. You don’t arbitrarily build systems or outsource the system-building to some company like… That’s not how it works. Having coaching clients is what allows you to build the best system that is going to help your future clients so getting experience, which is one of the reasons, in certain instances, coaching people for free or for very… Inexpensively makes sense but starting on the lower end of that range lets you become a better coach and lets you build a better base for your business.
48:02 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, that’s a really good point. One of my good friends and previous business coaching client, when he first started out, he was trying to charge like $300 a month for online coaching and he couldn’t get more than five or six clients at any one time. He had a pretty decent sized social media audience but he kept going for “I feel like I’m worth $300, I feel like I’m worth 300.” and he kept trying to do $300 but he was always complaining that he wasn’t getting more clients and making enough money and I was like “Why don’t you reduce your prices?” And he was like “Well, I feel like I’m worth $300.” I was like “Well, clearly, you’re not, ’cause you’re not getting paid that, you aren’t getting as many as you want. So what if… ” I was like “Would you rather have 15 or 20 people at $200 a month? Or five people at $300 a month?” And then when we worked out how much money that actually came out to you, he’s like “Well, clearly I’d rather have 15 or 20 at $200 a month.” So he did that. Now, about a year and a half after that conversation, he has about 45 clients, paying $300 a month but…
49:00 Mike Vacanti: That’s awesome.
49:00 Jordan Syatt: He first had to scale back to go to 200, get enough clients there, get more experience and then a lot of those people sent him referrals and then as he got better at coaching and had more people wanting to work with him, then he could increase it to $300 and then he was worth it because he’d actually spent the time.
49:18 Mike Vacanti: It’s a great story. It’s also worth noting that you Martin Berkhan-ed him when you said… Did you really say “Clearly you’re not” when he said, “I’m worth $300 a month”?
49:27 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, yeah.
49:27 Mike Vacanti: “I feel like I’m worth $300 month.” “Clearly you’re not.”
49:29 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, you’re not.
49:30 Mike Vacanti: Martin Berkhaning people is such a breath of fresh air.
49:36 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, just telling the truth, just saying it like it is, not trying to sugarcoat it.
49:41 Mike Vacanti: Tell that story.
49:42 Jordan Syatt: Oh man, this is so good.
49:43 Mike Vacanti: We’ll end on the story.
49:45 Jordan Syatt: So Martin Berkhan, if you don’t know, he’s the real guy who popularized intermittent fasting. He’s like the real initiator of it. He was talking about it back in the early 2000s when no one else was talking about it. He was getting hate on in the bodybuilding.com forums. He’s really the guy… He’s a nutritionist from Sweden, very intelligent, unbelievable guy, one of the best writers in the fitness industry, I think. If you go to his website, leangains.com, just a big fan and supporter and very loyal to him based on how much I’ve learned from him and I know Mike, you are as well.
50:16 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, likewise.
50:20 Jordan Syatt: When I was 18, I decided to hire Martin Berkhan, because when I was 18, I didn’t know how fat loss worked and my wrestling coach was like “You should hire this guy, he knows the secret.” And I was like “Alright.” So I emptied my bank account and I hired Martin Berkhan and he was the first online coach I had ever worked with and he sent me the whole ordeal, how do you sign up “Alright, you’re on a waiting list for right now, blah, blah, blah.” all this sort of stuff. Finally, about a month or so later, he was like “Cool, you’re no longer on the waiting list. If you want to sign up with me, you can do that.” I was like “Awesome, let’s do it.”
50:58 Jordan Syatt: And I felt like I was working with a celebrity, which I think he was. He was as close to a fitness celebrity as you could get to, especially at that point in time and so he was like “Send me your pictures, your measurements, blah, blah, blah, all this sort of stuff.” So I sent him my pictures and I’m 18 years old and I think I’m the most fit dude ever and I’m like “Yeah, this is sick.” And I sent my pictures and he… In the pictures, he was like “Tell me what you think your estimated body fat percentage is.” And I think I said I was somewhere between eight to 10, I believe. I was like “I think I’m between 8% to 10% body fat.” And in his response to me, he gives me my program, he’s like “Alright, here’s your plan, here’s your nutrition.” all this sort of stuff and then like “Let’s get started.” And then he goes, signs off, Martin “PS: You’re more like 15% body fat.”
51:43 Jordan Syatt: Just like that one, like “PS: You’re more like 15%.” And I remember being devastated but I was like “Alright, that’s where we are.” [chuckle]
51:49 Mike Vacanti: But it was the truth and sugarcoating in that situation or being untruthful to try to save someone’s feelings or… It’s misguiding, it is potentially helping them a little bit in the short run but really hurting them some in the long run.
52:12 Jordan Syatt: I saw a quote recently, that was just basically saying “Beware of the people who are always trying to make you feel good.” And I’m sort of butchering the quote but that was the gist of it, saying “Beware of the people who always try to make you feel good.” Because the people who just say it like it is and I’m not saying people who go out of their way to hurt your feelings…
52:31 Mike Vacanti: Right.
52:32 Jordan Syatt: But the people who just say it like it is regardless of feelings, you always know they’re gonna tell you the truth, right? And that’s a much more valuable piece of knowledge than hanging out with someone who might not tell you the truth simply because they don’t wanna hurt your feelings. It’s like you gotta ask yourself, who do you wanna hang out with? And it’s not like you have to choose either/or but just be aware. Is someone always making you feel good or is someone telling you the truth, even if it doesn’t make you feel good and which one would you rather?
53:00 Mike Vacanti: I love that. We’ll end with that, that’s a great little tidbit to end on, for people to chew on, to think about until next week, next podcast. Hope everyone has a great week, a great weekend. Have great lifts, great cardio, serve your clients as well and we will see you in one week.
53:16 Jordan Syatt: Have a good one.