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episode #320

Interview with Andy Baker: Improve Your Performance in the Gym, Programming to Build Muscle and Reach Your Goals!

January 8, 2024 in Podcast


This week I interviewed gym owner, strength and conditioning coach and former professional powerlifter - Andy Baker!

Andy has also co-authored two books - Strength Training for Life after 40 and Practical Programming for Strength Training. In this episode, we discuss what Andy learned from powerlifting and diet along with:

  • The magic of setting a timeline for reaching your goals
  • Foods to help performance in the gym
  • Proper programming to build muscle
  • Importance of consistent rest between sets
and his one tip to get your body back to what it once was!

Brian (0s):

Coming up on the GET, LEAN, Eat, Clean, Podcast.

Andy (3s):

When I started training more for performance, you know, what I found was that not only did my performance get better with a wider array of, of, of foods, and especially including a lot more fruits and vegetables into the diet, but my body composition was better too. And that made the diet a lot more enjoyable. And so my, my stick to itness or my, the sustainability of the diet was much better because I had a, a, a wi, you know, one, one of the things that happens, particularly with fruit is if it is, if you're, if you're eating poorly routinely, you know, and you're routinely indulging in cookies and cakes and sweets, And, you know, sodas and all that kind of stuff, and orange doesn't really taste like a treat, you know?

Andy (44s):

But when you get off of that stuff for a while and you're, you know, you're dialing back on all the, the kind of the, the junk food in terms of the cookies and snack cakes or whatever, ice cream or whatever it is, that's your, that's your vice. All of a sudden an orange in an apple or a bowl full of grapes, those sorts of things, they start to taste a lot more satisfying, you know, and they, they become almost like a treat, you know? And so that was, that was one of the things for me was just in, include a lot more fruits and vegetables, didn't have any negative impact on, you know, body Fat. In fact, I think it helped

Brian (1m 16s):

Hello. and welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. I'm Brian Gryn and I'm here to give you actionable tips to get your body back to what it once was, five, 10, even 15 years ago. Each week I'll give you an in depth interview with a health expert from around the world to cut through the fluff and get you long-term sustainable results. This week I interviewed gym owner, strength and conditioning coach, and former professional powerlifter Andy Baker. He also co-authored two books, Strength Training for Life after 40, and Practical Programming for Strength Training. We discussed what Andy learned from powerlifting and dieting, along with The magic of setting a timeline for reaching your goals, Foods to help performance in the gym, Proper programming to build muscle, the importance of consistent rest between setsand his one tip to get your body back to what it once was.

Brian (2m 8s):

Really enjoyed my interview with Andy. I know you will too. Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the show. All, right, Welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. My name is Brian Gryn, and I have Andy Baker on welcome to the show.

Andy (2m 23s):

Thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

Brian (2m 25s):

Yeah, thanks for coming on. Where are you coming from? I forgot to ask.

Andy (2m 29s):

I am in Kingwood, Texas, which is about 30 miles north of Houston. Okay. So out of Texas. Yeah.

Brian (2m 36s):

And how long have you been there for?

Andy (2m 38s):

I've more or less lived here my whole life. Brief stint out in California when I was in the Marine Corps, but more or less lived in Houston my whole life. And, you know, had my, had my gym here since 2007, you know, so I've had that going for, what

Brian (2m 54s):

Is that about? That's

Andy (2m 55s):

Great. Wow. you know, what is that, 14 years, 15 years, something like that? More than that. No more than that. Yeah. Yeah.

Brian (3m 1s):


Andy (3m 1s):

Yeah. Coming up on 17 years. Yeah. Yeah. So that keeps me busy, you know, that's, it's good, good place to live other than the summertime when it's, you know, three months straight of 105 and 90% humidity. But other than that, great city. Right,

Brian (3m 15s):

Right. Well, that's like us, you know, in Chicago you get the three months of, you know, negative de you know, and snow and

Andy (3m 22s):

Wind and Yeah.

Brian (3m 24s):

Wind. Yeah, exactly. Although it's been very mild, so I don't wanna Yeah. Yeah. But maybe explain to the audience a little bit about your background. I know you've been in strength and conditioning industry since like 2001. And, and so what sort of led you down that path into opening a gym and everything?

Andy (3m 41s):

Yeah, I mean, I think I got, I got hooked on lifting at an early age, you know, like most, most kids like, you know, kind of dovetailed with like playing sports and that sort of thing. But, you know, the first time I touched a barbell, I think I was 12 or 13 years old, you know, and I was hooked, you know, from, from, from the first time I laid hands on one. So, you know, that it started, the journey started for me, you know, very early And, you know, once I, once I got involved when it, I was, you know, pretty, pretty well obsessed with it and, you know, lifted all through high school and, you know, got really heavily into the bodybuilding side of things, you know, during my college years. And then, you know, kind of always knew that I, I studied exercise science at Texas a and m and pretty much always knew I wanted to go this route, but wasn't, wasn't exactly sure what avenue I wanted to go down.

Andy (4m 34s):

Originally when I started my studies, you know, academically I wanted to work as a strength and conditioning coach, like at the, like at the university level, working with athletes and that sort of thing. But you, you know, you kind of get into that world a little bit and it's not, it's it, you know, it's not as awesome as you think it is from the outside, you know, certain realities, just like a lot of things, you know, certain realities of the dream job, right. you know, make it not, not the dream job. And so, you know, started having my eye on, you know, doing my own thing, having my own facility. So that, that kind of came into fruition. It's a long story, but kind of came into fruition and late 2007 and opened the gym and primarily started, primarily started working with, with athletes.

Andy (5m 15s):

Again, that's who I wanted. That's, that was my, my interest at the time, you know, as a young trainer, young coach was working with high school and college athletes. So first several years that I was in operation, that was mainly who I was working with. But over time it just kind of snowballed into, you know, working with, you know, a lot of it started with just working with these kids' parents, you know, that started coming in. So you got these high school, college aged kids and stuff. And, you know, they're seasonal, so you're working with them for the summertime and maybe a few weeks over Christmas, maybe a little bit at spring break, you know, especially if they're not, if they're going to school somewhere, not, you know, not, not within driving distance or whatever. So, you know, you, you wind up just with the adults in the area and the kids' parents and all that stuff coming into the gym.

Andy (5m 60s):

And so I found myself in a place where I had about 50% athletes that I was working with and 50% just, you know, kind of regular people in the gym, moms and dads and grandparents, you know, people in their forties, fifties, sixties, seventies. I've had clients all the way up into their eighties still do, you know, so kind of working, you know, working on both sides of that, that spectrum. So, and I've, you know, more or less just maintained that again for like the last 17 years, you know, of, of just bringing strength and conditioning to a pretty, pretty wide diversity d diverse group of people. So, keeps it, keeps it interesting, keeps it fun and, and sharpens your skillset for sure.

Brian (6m 39s):

Yeah. And I noticed from your website in 2010, you, you competed in nationals, right?

Andy (6m 46s):

Yeah, yeah. I was, I was never super passionate about powerlifting, But. it was something that I kind of, early in my career, it was something I was, I was definitely into in the competitive side of powerlifting. I was working with Powerlifters, you know, some, I had that was kind of part of, part of the business side that I was working with. I was working with Powerlifters, and so I felt like to a degree I needed to be competing as well if I was gonna go down that route. you know, I had some ability. I wasn't, you know, I wasn't elite level, but I was, I was good, you know, I was, I was okay and I, I enjoyed it for a while, but like, you know, like a lot of those types of competitive sports, as you get into your late twenties and early thirties, And, you know, the demands of business and you start, start cranking out kids and that sort of thing.

Andy (7m 31s):

It just becomes where you kind of have to make a decision of how much, how much time and effort and money can I, can I invest into this? What is essentially a hobby, you know? Sure. To do, you know, with, you know, if you're gonna, if you're gonna go on to win, you know, the world championships, it's a different thing. But yeah, I had some, I had some, I had some limited success with powerlifting and I, you know, I learned a lot through competing as much about the training of, of, you know, the, the, the building of the strength, you know, for the, for the competitions and that sort of thing for myself. But also, you know, powerlifting is a weight class sport. And so there, the diet is very important in that, in that you have to show up on game day weighing a certain amount, and you obviously want to show up, you know, if you're gonna compete like I did in the 198 pound weight class, you know, that means you, you, you can't go over 1 98.

Andy (8m 21s):

So that you would like to, if possible weigh 1 97, 1 98 and have as much of that, you know, much of that be muscle mass and the least amount of it be body Fat. I mean, that's generally the guy that wins the meat is the guy that carries the most amount of muscle and the least amount of body Fat in that weight class. So the diet and everything is very important. A lot of people don't realize that because they look at some of the super heavy weight lifters, and then it's a little less important because you've got guys weighing, you know, 300, you know, 3 0 8 plus or whatever. But, and then, you know, then it's not as important to really, you know, watch how, you know, your le your body Fat level and that sort of thing. But that's, even, that's changing a little bit in modern day powerlifting.

Andy (9m 3s):

You're starting to see guys that are starting to understand, it's not necessarily the heaviest guy that wins. It's the guy with the most amount of Muscle mass that wins. So, and generally heavier guys do carry more muscle, but it's, it's not necessarily the same thing. So the diet portion has entered into the powerlifting world in a big way over the last decade or so, in a way that when I was coming up, you know, 20, 30 years ago, it was more kind of powerlifting was, you know, body, body building. That was where dieting took place. Powerlifting was more of the seafood diet. You just ate everything in sight and hope to get stronger, you know, which ju it does work, But, it doesn't always lead to the most favorable body composition. So yeah, that was a big, the com the competition powerlifting that I did in the early two thousands was very helpful for me and for nothing else, just for my, my own education in terms of the training, but especially the diet part of it.

Brian (9m 57s):

Yeah. And, what you learned from that? How did you translate that over to just like general population individuals who are looking to just get stronger?

Andy (10m 5s):

Well, you know, it's what, what would work, you know, what works for a competitive athlete is gonna work for the general population as well. It's, it's really not, nothing's really different. It's just a matter of degree, you know, how, how strict do you have to be, you know, when you have to weigh a certain amount on a certain date, then you've gotta be pretty strict. There's not a whole lot of room for cheat meals and going off schedule and that sort of thing. And you don't have a lot of, if you mess it up for a couple weeks, you don't have a lot of time to, to dial back the clock and kind of undo it. The harder, I think the harder part actually, and this this, this applies to training as well as diet. I think the harder part about working with the general population is that there, there isn't always necessarily a timeline.

Andy (10m 51s):

You know, they don't, they don't ne you may arbitrarily set one, but there's something that, there's a magic that happens with competition in that you have a set date. Like, I have to be ready to go on this date and that will get you in shape. you know, whether you're, whether you're doing for a triathlon or powerlifting meet or bodybuilding competition, having that date on the calendar where you risk, you know, either not performing well or, you know, embarrassment by showing up outta shape and not ready to go, you know, or disappointment with yourself. It's a, it's very much a form of accountability to have that date on the calendar to, to hold, to make you stick to your diet. It's very, very easy when working with the general population to kind of, when things kind of unravel a little bit on 'em, it's like, well, what's, I mean, what's the hurry?

Andy (11m 33s):

What's the rush? They don't have a, there's no date on the calendar to hold them accountable. And that, that makes it a little bit harder even. And even if you do set a date, we kind of, as the coach and as the athlete, they kind of both know it's arbitrary, right? Like there's no, you don't actually gonna show up in front of a bunch of people and have to lift in a single it or whatever, right? So, or, or pose on stage. So I think, I do think that goal setting with the general population is important and goal setting. I think as we both know it, that includes a timeline. It's not just, I wanna lose 20 pounds or whatever, but I wanna lose 20 pounds by win. And again, even if it, it needs to be realistic, obviously, but I think having, you know, having these, even if they're arbitrary goals on calendar, help to keep people accountable that way when somebody has a bad weekend, you know, oh man, I really messed up Friday through Sunday.

Andy (12m 23s):

My diet was totally off track or whatever. We don't let that bad weekend turn into a week and then turn into a month, right? Because we kind of agreed on this day, like, we really, you can, you can get away with, you know, oh man, I really messed up today, or even I really messed up this whole weekend. But when you start having the, the, the weekends turn into weeks, turn into months of, you know, being off track on your, your eating and your discipline, then that's where things really unravel. And you have the clients that keep having to go back to square one to start back over again and again. So I think, you know, that, that would be number one is, is trying to get people to apply some, put some pressure on themselves to an extent with having some hard dates of when to accomplish these goals.

Andy (13m 4s):

And those can be adjusted. Those can be, I mean, like you said, it's not set in stone. But, it, it, it, it, it, it is helpful to make sure that the, that things are accomplished in a, in a reasonable timeline. And this process isn't dragged out forever in terms of the nuts and bolts of, of dieting. you know, one of the things that, coming from a bodybuilding background at the time, you know, a lot of the stuff that I was familiar with, a lot of the coaches and the sources that I was familiar with on, on the diet side of things were not everything, everything was like, basically at that level it was, it was chicken and rice. I was just gonna say that it's, it's just chicken rice, you know, gonna say that. And, and which is, you know, it's, rice is a great source of carbs, you know, it digests easily for most people, right?

Andy (13m 49s):

You know, it doesn't have a lot of accompanying Fat chicken's for the same reason. It's a high quality source of protein, easy to digest, doesn't have a lot of Fat with it. So, you know, chicken and rice, obviously there's a reason why bodybuilders do that. It's not just legend. I mean, it's, it, it's, it's an effective way to train, but it's not, I think long term, it's not really sustainable for most people to, to be that restrictive. And so one of the things that opened up, you know, when the way when I was dieting was that I included a lot more fruits and vegetables and my, and there was kind of this weird thing with ve with fruit in, in the bodybuilding world for years, that you couldn't eat, you couldn't eat fruit. Fructose was right, you know, banned And, you know, it would, that it was a different type of sugar that would convert more easily to body Fat, And, you know?

Andy (14m 31s):

So I just, you know, I didn't have any formal training or education on this. I went along with what everybody else did and, and vegetables were kind of seen as like this thing that was like, well, yeah, they're probably good for you, but you don't really need 'em. So they're kind of optional. And when you're having, when like with bodybuilding, when you're having to eat 5, 6, 7 times a day, you actually get tired of eating. So like, you don't necessarily want to, to include vegetables if they're, if they're seen as optional or whatever. But when I started training more for performance, you know, what I found was that not only did my performance get better with a wider array of, of, of foods in especially including a lot more fruits and vegetables into the diet, but my body composition was better too. And it made the diet a lot more enjoyable.

Andy (15m 12s):

And so my, my stick to itness or my, the sustainability of the diet was much better because I had a, a, a wi, you know, one, one of the things that happens, particularly with fruit, if, if it is, if you're, if you're eating poorly routinely, you know, and you're routinely indulging in cookies and cakes and sweets, And, you know, sodas and all that kind of stuff, and orange doesn't really taste like a treat, you know? But when you get off of that stuff for a while and you're, you know, you're dialing back on all the, the kind of the, the junk food in terms of the cookies and snack cakes or whatever, ice cream or whatever it is that's your, that's your vice all of a sudden an orange and an apple or a bowl full of grapes, those sorts of things, they start to taste a lot more satisfying, you know, and they, they become almost like a treat, you know?

Andy (15m 58s):

And so that was, that was one of the things for me was just in, include a lot more fruits and vegetables. Didn't have any negative impact on, you know, body Fat. In fact, I think it helped, I think it helps with digestion to have a better, certainly the fiber, but also just a more, a more varied, you know, source of foods so that you're, you've got a, a, a better kind of biome in the gut in terms of digestive enzymes and that sort of thing of not just eating the same stuff over and over and over again. So, you know, and also varying up protein sources too. More fish and Lean beef and stuff like that. And not just, you know, not just chicken or rice all the time. So I try to build that in for my clients as well as giving them, you know, when I help people with nutrition to go along with their training plan is, you know, making sure that we're, you know, that we're allotting room in there for enough fruits and vegetables for, you know, for, for all for all of the reasons, you know, there're great carb source, all the micronutrients and fiber and that sort of stuff, but also to, to help people stick to the diet a little bit better.

Brian (16m 59s):

Yeah, I mean, there was a lot there. I think that, that's a good point regarding diet is like how, how sustainable can it be for the long term? And I mean, you're seeing this a lot and I'm sure you've probably run into like, obviously like carnivores or people that are sort of extreme one way or the other, you know, and it, i, I feel like it can be good maybe perhaps in the short term, especially if you're getting off sort of like the standard American diet. Yeah, I,

Andy (17m 25s):

I agree. I agree. It does work. I mean, it's, I mean, lots of stuff like when you cut out entire food groups or entire macro, you know, entire macros, you know, you'll completely cut out Fat, completely cut out Carbs. I mean, you're in a way, you're, you're reducing calories, you know, just simply by cutting out, even if you're not counting calories, you, you are in effect reducing them by just by cutting out, you know, tons of food groups, you know, the carnivore thing. It is harder to overeat on meat versus, you know, highly processed carbohydrates. So you're, you're, you know, if you're just telling somebody, the only thing you can have is meat, well, you're going to limit the amount of calories they eat. You're cutting out, you're, you're cutting out carbohydrates completely, but you're also eating a highly satiating type of food that is, you know, you're not gonna sit there and people don't just sit there and eat, you know, one chicken breast after another while they're watching tv.

Andy (18m 14s):

Sure. you know, that's just not So. they fill up faster. So But it, like you said, is it sustainable and is it healthy? you know, I can't really be, I've, I've dieted down to pretty low body fats and I can't be convinced that eating just meat at the exclusion of say, green vegetables is better. I mean, I've gotten down to extremely low body fats, basically eating Proteins and green vegetables, you know, broccoli, green beans. I mean, I, I don't, I don't see a compelling reason to exclude things like that from the diet, unless it's just strictly a form of psychological, you know, for the adherence of, look, you can have this one food group, and that's it.

Andy (18m 54s):

Like you said, it's kind of an extreme measure to kind of recalibrate people that are really, really unhealthy and are really off the, you know, really maybe struggling with even foo, you know, mild food addictions or whatever, to really kind of go the other way. I'm not, I'm not ne like you said, I'm not necessarily opposed to that. If that's what it takes to get somebody really out of that, that bad space, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It may take, you know, there to a degree, you know, in a lot of things, moderation, doesn't, you, you say everything in moderation. That's not necessarily true. I mean, that doesn't work for an alcoholic, you know, as, as somebody that's really, really, really struggled with alcohol addiction their whole lives. They, they can't just, 99% of 'em are never gonna be able to handle alcohol in moderation, you know, for whatever reason.

Andy (19m 40s):

It just doesn't work. So cer certain people with, I think with, you know, what we would call food addictions and things like that, the, there are, there are, there is a case to be made from abstinence from certain food groups, you know, that people, if it routinely leads you down the wrong path, you know, you know, it doesn't work with nicotine. You know, I've had my own struggles with nicotine on and off for 20 something years, and I can tell you, I mean, it's one, you know, one chew or one cigarette, that's it. you know, you go, you go right back to it. It doesn't, everything in moderation does not work for addiction. And so if people are, are that far down that route, then it, it may help to, to follow something of abstinence. But I think the thing with food, the thing with the, the difference is with alcohol, with nicotine, with drugs, you don't have to have those things.

Andy (20m 25s):

You don't have to drink, you don't have to dip or smoke, you don't have to do drugs, you have to eat. And so you have to figure out where, how can we get this person back Maybe short term we're doing something to try to get 25 pounds off this guy to fix his insulin sensitivity, to maybe give him some positive momentum, you know? Wow, okay. 'cause if you do something extreme and you can get 25, 30 pounds off of somebody really fast, that's gonna give them some positive psychological momentum that can maybe, that can carry them for forward. And then, then you have that conversation later on of, okay, look, we've been doing this thing for a while, like, we gotta start kind of maybe thinking about getting you back to a more normal diet so that you can function better in society.

Andy (21m 7s):

Typically, if you also, if you have a family and stuff like that too, it's really hard to do those types of extreme diets and still kind of participate in what's, you know, quote, normal family life. you know, I mean, are you gonna subject your kids and your wife and everybody to strictly eating meat just because that's your choice, you know? Right. It's like, you know, so, you know, getting people back into introducing some of those foods of the, it's starting with, I would say, you know, vegetables and fruit as number one, you know, and kind of going down that route. So, yeah.

Brian (21m 36s):

Have you, have you found, like the way you've eaten, I mean, has, how's that affected how you've performed in the weight room and like when you've excluded certain things or included certain things, how, how do you dial that in?

Andy (21m 51s):

Yeah, so I think when you're part of it is, this is one of the things when I was powerlifting of, of including a lot more fruits and vegetables and things like that. I think, I think when you're healthy, it helps, it helps to improve your, obviously being fit improves your health, but I also think being healthy kind of improves your fitness. I think everything in your body operates better when you're giving your body everything that it needs to perform. All of its functions, whether it's digestion or, you know, regulating body Fat or building muscle mass and all that, all that kind of stuff is, yes, it's the, it's what we think of kind of pro the protein in the carbs. But I think just everything operating as it should be by providing your body with the right amount of micronutrients and fibers and all that kind of stuff is going to make you perform better.

Andy (22m 37s):

I certainly had much better energy, you know, not just strength, but energy to train when, when I'm sticking to the diet, my sleep is better, you know? And so I, that, that has a huge impact on performance in the gym or any other sport is, is sleep. So when your sleep is regulated, when you're waking up with more energy, you're not waking up, you know, dog ass tired because you ate a bunch of carbs, you know, a bunch of cookies and stuff right before you went to bed. you know, I always, when I eat like that, I always wake up, you know, feeling sluggish, And, you know, not, not so great, but when you wake up feeling refreshed because you had a good night's sleep, you know, and, and so that has a huge impact. And I think your re your just, your recovery is better, you know, so you're hitting those weights hard and heavy.

Andy (23m 19s):

You're breaking down a lot of muscle, you're creating a lot of Muscle damage. you know, you need the digestion to be well, because the thing is, it's not especially like when you're eating a seafood diet where you're just eating everything in sight. What I, what I kind of liken it too. And I have a friend in the business, Nathan Peyton, that, that, you know, kind of led me onto this analogy. It's like trying to fill up a drinking glass with a garden hose, you know, and it's, or, or with a fire hose, you know, it's like, it's overkill when you're just trying to, you're just trying to cram all that food in there. So you're di you're eating a lot of food, but like, what I would say, it's, it's not necessarily how much you eat, it's how much you utilize, you know, or it's how much you use. So just cramming in cal, you know, calorie after calorie after calorie, your body can only use so much of that for recovery.

Andy (24m 3s):

It can only do digest so much of that efficiently. So learning how to eat cleaner, learning how to eat, you know, smaller meals broken up more rather than just, you know, sitting down at the, at the buffet and, and, and feeding yourself till you can hardly walk, you know, which is how a lot of powerlifting diets were, you know, back in the eighties and nineties and early two thousands. But we've kind of borrowed from the bodybuilding world to, to lead to realize that there's actually a better way to eat and your, your recovery's gonna be better that that same, you know, 200 grams of protein per day broken up into smaller portions is gonna be better than sitting there and trying to do two different a hundred gram feedings. You know, you know, how, how do we do, we know how much Exactly. you know, that's always a debate how much protein can be utilized in a single sitting, and it probably varies by the person.

Andy (24m 46s):

I think probably big guys with tons of muscle can probably use a little bit more, but we don't really, but we do know that at some level it's gonna be better utilized, broken down into smaller feedings versus kind of those big giant force feeding. So, you know, yeah, I mean, long story short, eating healthier, eating cleaner, really paying attention to both your macro and micronutrient profiles is gonna lead to better workouts and better recovery, better sleep. So yeah, it's a, it's a win all the way around.

Brian (25m 14s):

And I've noticed you on your podcast, which is, was it the Baker Bar barbell podcast? Is that right?

Andy (25m 20s):

Yes, sir.

Brian (25m 21s):

You talked about like picking the right programming for you, And, you know. Yeah. We've talked a little bit about diet. What about how do you go about, you know, picking the right program for individuals based on, you know, their goals and, and maybe maybe their level of fitness as well?

Andy (25m 36s):

Yeah, so I mean, you, you, the first thing right there is goals. you know, what are your goals? Are you trying to, you know, c whether it's, so I kind of have my lifters categori categorized into different, well, different categories. So, you know, starting with, you know, let's say, you know, strength athletes and that could, I would, I would categorize them into competitive or non-competitive. So some guys want to go down the route of competing and powerlifting. Some guys just want to get stronger on the squat bench and deadlift, you know, or whatever lifts that they choose to focus on, you know, a lot of people just do that because that's, that's kind of what the internet or social media or whatever focus on how much you bench, how much you deadlift, how much you squat, whatever. So, and those are as good proxies as any for just overall general strength, but so are you, is that your focus?

Andy (26m 21s):

Are you trying to lift bigger, bigger numbers? you know, so that's one subcategory of, of clientele strength focused. And then there's more of the muscle mass and physique type. you know, I don't necessarily want to compete in bodybuilding, but I just, I wanna get as big and muscular and aesthetic as possible, including having, you know, a lower body Fat so that, you know, I look great at the beach or the pool or whatever. So that's kind of the bodybuilding with a lower B crowd. And then I have my sport athletes. So the people that are, that are using the, you know, their, their training, the, they're trying to build the strength and the Muscle mass, but in order to apply it to something like a sport, you know, with your high school and college athletes, that's, it's obvious with, but I get adult, you know, adult clients that compete in, you know, triathlons various things or whatever.

Andy (27m 7s):

Or even just recreational activities like, you know, biking, hiking, camping, you know, hunting and stuff like that where you have to be in good physical shape. And then I've got my, you know, my clients where we would just say, you know, it's more about just broad-based general health and fitness, which obviously strengthen building strength and building muscle is a large part of that. And usually that's the foundation for most people who are new to this. So de kind of at the beginning, de deciding what category each of these, this potential client, this hypothetical client would fall into. And then designing programming for that person, somebody who's just interested in general health and fitness, which is probably the bulk of my clients and probably the bulk, it's the bulk of most people's clients that are in this business is that even if, even if their goal is not necessarily to squat 500 pounds or bench 400 pounds or whatever, for the new person, for the novice that's new, that's new to this fit, this whole fitness thing, starting with a foundation of strength and muscle mass is usually the key.

Andy (28m 4s):

You know, that's, that's where I want to start them. If you're, if you're weak, if you're, if you're under muscled, everything else that you try to participate in, it's gonna suffer. You're, if you're want to, you know, and it doesn't mean we don't focus on trying to get their body Fat down or whatever, if they're, you know, overweight or whatever. But people need to start by trying to improve the amount of muscle mass that they have and the amount of just general baseline strength that they have. And that's true if you're an athlete, you know, and you're, you're, you're the, the goal is to get faster on the track or the football field or, and prevent knee injuries or whatever. The foundation is still strength and muscle. you know, if, for somebody who's trying to, you know, look awesome at that, they wanna look like a bodybuilder, lowercase b at the beach or the pool or whatever for the summer season.

Andy (28m 46s):

The foundation is it's strength and muscle, right? It's like you can't, you can't tone and define muscle that you don't have, right? And so it's, and then obviously for the strength side of it, it's the same thing. So I might, for new people, they're often, their program is not gonna look very different regardless of their goal, because it's just gonna be a, a foundational basic strength and muscle building program. you know, I'm fond of barbells, you know, that's kind of my, my thing is that's what I coach, I coach people in the, in the basic barbell lifts, the squat, the bench press, the deadlift, the overhead press, chin ups and pullups, things like that. If they, if they can do 'em, if not, then I'll use a limited amount of like, machine-based training and stuff like that. And then once we get them to a, to a point, kind of, when we kind of increase that baseline of just general strength, then we start to specialize a little bit more in whatever unique category they fit into, you know, so as, as more of an intermediate trainee, that's where goal setting becomes really, really important.

Andy (29m 43s):

I kinda like it to, I, I liken it to, to education. I mean, when we start Ed, you know, we take this hypothetical person, we say, you know, we're gonna, we're gonna, we, education is broad and basic at the beginning, right? You just, you need to, and, and you need to learn the foundations, you need to learn how to read, you need to learn how to write, you need to learn how to do basic math. Like if you can't do those things, you're not gonna be able to do anything more advanced. But then once, you know, and then you, you know, so you finish your secondary school, you get into college, it's still, it's even a little bit more of the basics, you know, a little faster pace, a little bit more, but it's still, you know, improving the reading, writing and math. And then as you get further along, now you have to declare a major, right? And then you have to start to specialize in that thing a little bit more.

Andy (30m 24s):

And you're using all of those skills that you built up the, you know, you're not gonna be good at science or history or whatever it is that you specialize in. If you don't have good reading skills and good writing skills, like you have to be able to do all those things. So it's, it's declared and then, you know, the further up the chain you go, you go into the master's program, you go into your PhD, it gets even more and even more specialized. And so that's the way that I think it is with fitness as well, is that it's, it's the same thing. It's at the beginning with most clients. Hey, we gotta teach these people to read, write, and do basic math, you know, regardless of what their goal is. They may wanna be, may have one kid that wants to be a PhD chemist and another one that wants to be a PhD in philosophy, they're all gonna start at the same place, right?

Andy (31m 6s):

None of those people are gonna get it. If they can't read, write, and do basic math. And then as they get closer and closer, then we start to specialize even more in that, you know, And, what that looks like in practice. I mean, it's kind of hazy, right? It's, you know, there's not a, would you say would,

Brian (31m 21s):

Go ahead. Would you say like someone just starting out, like total body, just, you know, get through everything a little bit, you know, just,

Andy (31m 30s):

Yeah, I, I normally start people, you know, when a client, a new client comes into my gym, typical client is gonna work with me two to three days per week. And so that's gonna usually be two to three full body workouts per week that, that may change. It's, you know, my, ideally I have people coming in and training like Monday, Wednesday, Friday or something, or you know, something Tuesday, Friday. So we've got some space in between and in those situations then nine times outta 10, I'm gonna start them with a basic full body program, which would be, you know, and I, it kind of varies based on the person. 'cause not everybody, especially with your older clients, not everybody can do the same movements with the same amount of proficiency as the next guy.

Andy (32m 11s):

But basically we're looking at, and this isn't, you know, this is pretty much everybody agrees with this, you know, you're some sort of squat, bench press deadlifts or hinging pattern, you know, overhead pressing pull-ups or of lap pull down or something like that. Rowing movements. So just your basic, just your basic movements, you know, I'm normally four to six movements per workout, you know, is would be about right. you know, some of those are your, you know, about half of those are your big basic compound movements. And then maybe a handful of smaller isolation type movements. But basically just sticking with the basics, you know, three, four to at the max, five or six movements per workout, you know, two to three days per week.

Andy (32m 51s):

And then what happens is over time, as that person gets stronger, those workouts start to become more fatiguing and they start to become more time consuming. So you can't, you can't dedicate the, the squats at the front end start to take longer to get through your warmup setsand, your work setsand. They start to become more fatiguing. And then the same thing with the bench presses and the deadlifts. And so what happens is you have to split those things up a little bit more. If you want to stay Practical, you know, most people want to keep their workouts, you know, about an hour or so, you know, if you start needing to push the workout to an hour and a half or something like that, then typically it's time to split things up. And I'll usually go with just a basic upper body, lower body split. So, and that can be, again, anywhere from two to the, my preference is like four days a week.

Andy (33m 32s):

So, you know, Monday, Thursday, upper body, Tuesday, Friday, lower body, you know, sometimes we, if I have a guy that likes to run or do sprints or, or something like that, then I may say like, okay, we're gonna do upper body Monday and Friday, Wednesday we're going to do your lower body, you know, weight training workout, and then Saturday you can go out and do your sprints or something like that. So that becomes like the second, 'cause a lot of guys won't recover. Some people won't recover real well from, you know, loading up the lower body two days per week, especially if they're doing a lot of outside activity or whatever. So, we'll, we'll vary it. And for, for women it might be different. A lot of women who wanna focus way more on their lower body, we may do lower body Monday and Friday and upper body on Wednesday or something like that.

Andy (34m 16s):

So, but it's usually an upper body, lower body split is, is how, and then a lot of people are gonna be fine to just stay with that basic structure for the rest of their training career. If somebody has more, more specific goals, whether it's physique oriented or whether it's like the strength sports or something like that, then there may be a need later on to, to split it up even more. And you could, you know, that's where, like with the physique thing, you start to get into more of a body, a body part split. So you may have, 'cause you need more dedicated work on each area to continue to force adaptation, to continue to force growth. But there's usually, you know, for like a raw beginner, there's not a reason for them to have an entire dedicated training session just for their arms, you know, just to do bicep and tricep.

Andy (35m 0s):

But for a more advanced guy who's no longer getting any growth out of his arms with just doing the basics, the only way for him to get more growth from his arms may be to have a dedicated day just to train him biceps and triceps so that he can have full, you know, full energy devoted to those movements, you know, full recovery afterwards and, and, and press those movements with more volume, more intensity, you know, more effort level, that sort of thing. And so it, you, you, you are forced into a situation where you have to split the body up into, into body parts or like in the case of powerlifting into lifts. So you have a day more that's dedicated to, which is kind of the same thing, but it's a little bit different emphasis, you know, bodybuilders are focused more on developing the individual muscle groups.

Andy (35m 44s):

Powerlifters are focused on bringing up specific movement patterns. So it winds up in practice, it looks, sometimes it looks similar But, it's a slightly different philosophy behind it. But yeah, like in powerlifting it would be, you know, a day, maybe two days per week dedicated to bringing up the bench press and two days per week dedicated to bringing up the squad and the deadlift, you know, that sort of thing. So you're, you're just specializing the, the split around that, that person's goals. But for the average client, you know, what

Brian (36m 16s):

About just a basic, what, what about, sorry, what about rep range? Like do you, do you typically, especially someone new start with a higher rep range, you know, just to get them accustomed to

Andy (36m 27s):

No, I don't, I start with a, with, with new people, I, I, I generally start with like a five. Like, well, it depends on the exercise for the basic barbell movements, squats, deadlifts, bench presses, things like that. I typically start people with Fiverr sets, but we start light, you know, so when I say we're gonna start you on day one with a set of five that may sets set of five with the empty barbell, you know, if nobody's, if they've never done squats before, right? you know, I don't, I don't load a, so when I say a set of five, that doesn't necessarily imply, you know, five rep max on day one. you know, it's, it's a set of five that they can do and it's multiple sets also with that, you know, with that weight. So it's a, it's a load that they can handle with good form.

Andy (37m 7s):

I don't want 'em on day one. I don't wanna push into failure or pushing max loads or anything like that. It's very much a, you know, you gotta learn the mechanics and you can't do that if the load is too high or the effort level's too high. you know, if they're just starting with body weight only, like if someone comes in that's really deconditioned, I may start them with higher reps on like a body weight squat versus like when I, because, but if somebody's strong enough to do a barbell squat, like a 45 pound barbell on day one, but they're not conditioned to it, like they haven't done anything in 20 years or whatever the problem is, 10, 12 rep sets on that will absolutely destroy them. They will be so, you know, they'll be too sore to come in 48 hours later and do it again.

Andy (37m 47s):

And, you know, just for, if there's people listening to this podcast that are, you know, new young personal trainers out there, do not do that to your clients on day one. If you want to keep yourself in business, you know, you don't wanna wreck your clients on day one. you know, you want them to leave the gym thinking, okay, this is something I can do, not, oh my God, how am I gonna survive this? Like, they will find a way out of it. So I feel like the, the lower rep sets are, especially on things like squats and deadlifts, the lower rep sets are far less likely to cause that extreme levels of soreness and things like that. The reality is, when it's a brand new client, it doesn't really matter what you do with that person, they're gonna gain muscle and get stronger. Okay. So it's just, to a degree, it's a matter of preference.

Andy (38m 28s):

But then, you know, on day one, I may start them with a 45 pound bar, you know, on day two it's 50 pounds on day three it's 55 pounds. So we're just very conservatively. But, but at the same time, aggressively adding load to those five rep sets until all of a sudden a few months in that person who couldn't squat, you know, who could barely squat, the 45 pound bar is squatting, you know, a 45 pound plate on each side, you know, only a few months in. And that that those, that those strength increases that people get on the, on the very beginning, you know, of a good, a well-designed strength program. That's, that's what we, I mean, that's what we mean by laying the foundation. We're just getting them up to a baseline of strength to which they could, you know, 'cause people come in and they say, well I wanna, I want my, I want my, my legs and everything.

Andy (39m 12s):

I want it to look, you know, they'll show me a picture of some girl on Instagram or something. It's like, well I wanna look like this, you know, but I don't really care about strength. Well, it's like, but you're not gonna look like this if you can't squat a 45 pound bar. you know what I mean? It's like this girl that you wanna look like that you're showing me this picture of, you know, she can squat 2 25, you know, so you're not gonna look like that until you can do what she, and that's, that's the thing with like physique or even health or whatever, like the weight on the bar. The problem is that's the only real metric that we have day to day. you know, it's not, I mean yes there's setsand reps and all that kind of stuff, but it's hard to measure. You can't measure increases in muscle mass day-to-day, week to week. It's too slow. But you can measure performance.

Andy (39m 53s):

And so, you know, having something in place and whether it's, you know, somebody that squats a hundred pounds for a set of five, you know, that next workout they need to be doing 105 pounds or they need to be doing a hundred for a set of six. But something needs to go up. And I think a lot of people make that mistake if they don't, they kind of focus on the outcome they want. They wanna look a certain way or, or whatever. But they're, they don't realize that the way to get there is, is really meticulously tracking your performance one workout to the next and making sure that you're moving something up, you know, one 'cause that's the, that's the only way that you're gonna get those increases in muscle mass or increases in strength is really trying to track all those details and make sure that you're, you know, that something is going up, work out to work out or at least week to week.

Brian (40m 41s):

Yeah. When and when you say something going up, you either mean sets or, well, not necessarily sets, but probably just overall volume perhaps.

Andy (40m 49s):

Yeah. You, so you can use sets. Yeah, I don't think that's the best way to increase. Like if somebody's doing three sets, it, it kind of depends. Like if you're definitely, if we're talking about muscle hyper like hypertrophy, then I'm usually wanting to, I'm either wanting to do two things. If the goal is to increase muscle mass in this person, I'm either wanting to have them do more load for the same amount of reps. So let's just say they were doing three sets of five. If they did three sets of five with a hundred pounds on a given exercise, I either want them to do three sets of five with 105 pounds So, we, we maintained our volume, but we increased the intensity or three sets of six at a hundred pounds So, we did the same weight, but we did it for a few more reps.

Andy (41m 37s):

Now could you just increase the number of sets? So instead of doing three sets of five at a hundred, could you just do four sets of five? I think you, you can, I don't, I don't think that's the most effective way to, to program for muscle mass. I think. 'cause there's always to a degree, there's always just, I can rest a little longer and I can always just add another set. Mm. Whereas increasing a rep that I did within that set, it's more indicative of a performance increase in my opinion. And so is load. What

Brian (42m 6s):

About rest would you say, you know, you've hear is it depending on probably the weight or the amount of reps that you're doing?

Andy (42m 14s):

So all of the, and I think anecdotally we've known this people that train seriously for strength, but more and more of the literature starting to support that there is very, very little if, if bordering on no evidence that extremely short rest periods are beneficial for anything other than directly training for muscular endurance. Okay. So that for someone looking to increase muscle size or strength, that set to set more rest is better. Now how much rest? I think anecdotally we look at two minutes being the absolute minimum between a har a hard set. Now. I mean if you're just kind of bullshitting your way up to your warmup sets, you can kind of as fast as it as you know.

Andy (42m 57s):

But once you get into your heavier work sets, we're looking at, you know, a minimum of two minutes. But, but really for a more advanced person and on a hard exercise like a, like a hard leg exercise, three to five, you know, three to five minutes. That's one of the problems with, you know, h heavy, hard effective strength training and especially like in a commercial setting is the workouts take a long time. you know, they can, if you let that get away from you, but you do need to track 'em. 'cause if you, and you need to keep 'em consistent, I would tell people if nothing else, even if you're resting not enough, even if you're saying I'm just, I'm capping everything at two minutes, which I would say is not enough for hard, you know, for hard sets on, on big fatiguing exercises, it needs to be the same all the time across workouts because that's a huge Variable that if you don't control for it, it's gonna skew your performance.

Andy (43m 49s):

Because today, if I'm taking five minutes between sets, if it's Saturday afternoon and I got nothing to do and I'm in there doing my squats and I'm taking five minutes between setsand, I have a great workout. But then, you know, the next time I squat later in the week, I'm in a rush 'cause I gotta pick up the kids from school and I cut my rest down, my rest time down to a minute and a half or two minutes and I can't get the same amount of weight. you know, my performance decreased by 50% and I go, what, what happened? I got weaker. No, you didn't get weaker. You didn't control your rest time. So it's skewing your performance, you know, if you need to cut your rest time down to a minute or two minutes because of some outside thing, reduce the load on the bar, you know, or do a different exercise but don't expect you to perform the same way under those circumstances.

Andy (44m 34s):

you know, track coaches do the, when you're, when you're training for max output on certain things, you know, track coaches have traditionally used a, a similar format where it's like, you know, what is, I think it's something like, like a minute of like, like a minute of rest or one or something. Yeah, yeah. Or like a minute of rest per 10 meters. Okay. Something like that. So like max effort, a hundred meter, you know, if you have a a, a higher level track athlete doing a max effort, a hundred meter dash, you're probably gonna rest him about 10 minutes before you do another one. you know, because if you go less than that, he now, yeah, he could still do it, but he is running slow because he is tired And now he's not training speed and people don't get that.

Andy (45m 14s):

There's a difference between training speed and training conditioning. And that's the same thing with strength is if, if you cut your rest times way down and your, the weight is having to come down or the amount of reps that you can do, now you're not training strength because you're working with sub maximal loads because of, because of fatigue. So when you're, when you're trying to train for strength, you need to give yourself enough rest between sets to make sure that you're capable of max force output. And that's typically why over time we talked about splitting workouts up into, you know, going from full body to upper, lower to a body part split or to breaking things down into just having a day where you focus on bench. Just having a day where you focus on squat, that becomes Practical necessity as much as physiological because it, you just can't do all of those big barbell lifts in a seam same in a se, single session and still adhere to that.

Andy (46m 7s):

Those rest periods it takes too long. And, you know, you're in the gym for two hours or more and yeah, most people don't have or don't want to do, including me. I don't wanna be in the gym that long. And so you're going to have a, a scenario where you are, but I would encourage people change your training up rather than your rest periods, you know, don't, don't say I'm gonna, I'm gonna rest a minute between sets just so I can do more exercises. Like do it right. If you're gonna, if you're gonna squat or deadlift or bench or what, like do it right and take your rest periods between setsand. Then if you wanna move on to your smaller, let's say less important, but your accessory type movements, you can push the pace a little bit more on those, you know, you can cut those things down to like two or three minutes or things like that.

Andy (46m 50s):

So, but yeah, there's really no evidence that 32nd rest, or, I mean, that was a thing in bodybuilding for a long time, which was, you know, 30 seconds, 62nd rest, you know, there's some application with that for, for muscular endurance. I mean, certainly like in the bodybuilding world, back in the day it was all about the pump. you know, it just, how big of a pump could you, certainly you're gonna get a big pump, but that's, there's also not a whole lot of evidence that the pump is the leading cause of Muscle growth. There's really some evidence that it doesn't have that much at all to do with Muscle growth at all. I don't necessarily believe that, but I, I don't think it's the primary contributor to Muscle growth. I think increases in load over time is the primary driver of, of muscle growth.

Andy (47m 32s):

So if you want to get bigger, you need to get stronger. I always tell my clients, look, if you're squatting, if you're tell squatting, if you wanna get bigger, you wanna get your, your legs bigger, you're squatting 200 pounds for a set of five today and a year from now you're squatting 200 pounds for a set of five, you're not gonna have grown. I don't care what else you do, you're not gonna have gotten any bigger. So like, if you're squatting 200 pounds today at this time next year, you need to be squatting two 50. you know, or whatever that number is. That's, that's the only real metric we have that, I don't wanna say guar, but more or less guarantees Muscle growth has occurred, you know, because it's rare that you're gonna really go up in strength like that with, without, without, without also having built up Muscle mass.

Andy (48m 16s):

And so that's, that, that has to be accounted for.

Brian (48m 20s):

Yeah. And I, and I, I love the point about tracking your rest periods. It's something that maybe we doesn't get talked about a lot, right? Like,

Andy (48m 28s):

Doesn't get talked about at all. No. Yeah, no But it needs to be held. It needs just like, lots of things need to be held constant in training and people focus. I think that's one of those things where people don't, there's a lot of things they just don't, they just don't realize the amount of things that need to be standardized in training so that you can adequately track performance. you know, even the, the, the days of, you know, your rest period between sets, but the amount of rest time between exercises. you know, if you go, if you squat on Monday, then you squat on Thursday or Friday, you're probably okay, but if your schedule changes and you squat this week on Monday, and then you squat again on Wednesday, well now you're doing it on 48 hours rest instead of your normal 72 or 96.

Andy (49m 11s):

Well, that's different. Like, you're gonna have to account for that. So, but a lot of people are surprised. They're like, oh, well, wow, I didn't, you know, so that, you know, standardizing your form, you know, so that not only is your form safe and efficient, but also that you can track, A lot of people will do this again, we'll say with squats, is that, you know, I teach a a, a squat that is at or slightly below parallel. Right?

Brian (49m 33s):

I was just gonna, I was actually just gonna ask you. Right? Yeah. 'cause you hear differing things on that.

Andy (49m 37s):

Yeah. So, yeah, and that's, and so, and some of it's application towards the goal or whatever, but that's, again, it's one you have to, whatever you decide, if you say, okay, that's, that's bunk. I don't wanna, I'm not gonna have clients squat below parallel. Okay, fine. I, I'll argue with you about that separately, but whatever, whatever it is that you decide is the optimal death depth needs to be standardized regardless, right? So if I'm gonna teach my client to squat about an inch below parallel, and that's, if I'm looking at a client from the side, I wanna see the crease of their hip, you know, even with, or just below the top of their knee. That's like in powerlifting, that's a, that's a powerlifting legal squat. That's the, that's the criteria that they use.

Andy (50m 18s):

So I use the same thing in my gym, and there's reasons for that and that I think it, it, I think it's a way that, that maximizes the amount of weight that can be lifted and also the amount of muscle that is trained. Okay? So going significantly below that or above that, I think you, you lose one, you lose that combination of both muscle that can be trained and also load that pe that can be used. So that's why, that's why I like that. But that's a separate issue. And that if I'm gonna have, if that's where I tell my client, okay, this is where we're gonna squat to, that needs to be done at every workout. So if he does 200 pounds for a set of five, you know, one inch below parallel, and then at two 10 he's at parallel, and then at two 20 he's a half inch above parallel, and then at two 30 he's one or two inches above parallel.

Andy (51m 5s):

Right. you know, and then at two 50 he's doing a half squat. Did he get stronger? No. He just shortened up his stroke. Right? And so that the form has to be standardized as well. And that goes for all exercises that goes on a bicep curl. If you're doing a, you know, a 50 pound curl, you know, super, super strict for a set of 10, but then you get to a 60 pound curl and you're, you know, leaning back and using your hips and all that, did you get stronger or did you just bastardize your form in order to lift more weight? So you can't gauge your performance increases if the form and the technique is not standardized across the board. Yeah. So you wanna look at, you know, you obviously want, again, you wanna have good form and technique both for safety and for efficiency, so that the exercise actually works as it should, but also as a way as a metric to measure to making sure you are actually progressing and you're not just, you know, shortening up your squat depth or, or introducing all these momentum and all these kind of things in order to get more weight.

Andy (52m 2s):

But I see that all the time, you know, guys would be like, oh look, I put a hundred pounds on my squat this year. And it's like, yeah, but you also shaved off about four inches of depth. Yeah. So I'm not really sure that you got stronger at all, you know? So what about the, maybe maybe you did, but you don't know

Brian (52m 16s):

What about, I mean, the eccentric and the, the tempo of the lift. 'cause that can take, you know, play a role as well, right?

Andy (52m 26s):

Yeah. So I mean, so you, yeah, and it, it kind. Yes. And so, you know, on a bench press, you know, if you're talking about, you know, letting the weight drop and bounce off the chest and that sort of thing, and bringing the hips up off the bench and all that kind of stuff, you know, I'm, and on most of my exercises, the way that I teach my clients is that I want, I don't want to do super slow eccentrics, but I want to controlled, eccentric. Yeah. Like a two count because, or something. Yeah, something like that, you know, and I just, or just, you know, just kind of watch it, you know, I may not tell 'em to actually count because I don't want 'em to have too many things going on in their head. you know, they're trying to focus on their form and count their reps And, you know, count their eccentrics and all that. So I will have 'em count, you know, if I do pauses or things like that, I have 'em to, you know, count their pauses and that sort of thing.

Andy (53m 9s):

But I just, I generally want to have good eccentric control so that they're in control of the movement. That they are in control at the end of the movement. Especially for, just for safety reasons. You don't want to, you know, especially for stronger guys, you don't want guys dropping fast into the bottom of a squat. That sort of thing is very, you know, that's where you see tendons get ruptured and things like that. So you want people to ease down under control into the bottom of movements, emphasize the stretch position of most movements, you know, if there's a stretch component. I like to see that emphasize. I think that actually plays a role in, in hypertrophy. I think that stretch under load actually is a factor that contributes to muscle growth.

Andy (53m 51s):

But I also think, like for my, my general fitness clients or whatever who have multiple goals, usually, especially for the older ones, one of the goals that they'll want to, you know, they want to build strength and build muscle and all that, but they also will, will talk about mobility. you know, well, how do I increase mobility? Well, full range, full range of motion weightlifting is a great way, it's a great mobility exercise. you know, it's, so, it's a, a lot of times it's a, now you can do mobility work or stretching and all that kind of stuff if you want outside of the gym. But one of the best things you can do for yourself is, you know, a full range of motion squat. you know, it's a, that's a, the best stretch for the squat is to squat, you know? And so continuously practicing full range of motion, letting, you know, emphasizing that stretch under load is a really great mobility exercise for a lot of people doing things like, like for my older clients who almost universally have poor shoulder mobility, you know, doing things full range of motion, lat pull downs, you know, making them control the eccentric, really going up overhead, lighting that weight, pull them gently into that full stretch position, holding that pause for a beat or two and then coming back down is a great way to teach that exercise to like an older person with mobility issues.

Andy (54m 58s):

Because you're, you're, you're getting the strengthening in the muscle building portion, but you're also getting a really, really good mobility movement as well. So, you know, eccentric control is, I can't really think of a movement where I don't teach eccentric control, you know? And I think that's, I don't necessarily buy into the fact that eccentrics like that was kind of, you know, years ago it was the, the paradigm was that all muscle, like muscle growth was, was primarily driven by muscle damage. So the more you damage the muscle, the more it would grow back. And I think what we're seeing now is that that's not necessarily the case, right?

Andy (55m 38s):

That the mechanism meaning, meaning you

Brian (55m 39s):

Don't have to be crazy sore

Andy (55m 41s):

To, right? And, and so eccentric loading makes you more sore. Like there's a significant amount of, like, if you really want to torture somebody, you know, have them do really slow tempo, you know, heavy squats or things like that. Like, like you can make people really sore by maximizing, you know, the eccentrics or doing a lot of eccentric only movement. And so that was, eccentrics were something that was more, you know, you saw talked about a little bit more because the level of soreness and people associated soreness with growth, right? The more sore that you got, the more you would grow. I think soreness is likely an unavoidable part of training in a way that's going to cause you to grow. But that the soreness in and of itself, and the muscle damage in and of itself is not what is causing the growth.

Andy (56m 25s):

They're just, they're, they're co-conspirators. They're, they're, they're along for the ride. You can't, you can't train in a way, you know, I think what we're seeing now is that tent producing high levels of mechanical tension, progressive overload, that's the primary driver of hypertrophy of Muscle mass gains. But that over time, you can't do, you can't continue to progressively overload the Muscle. You can't continuously force the muscle to reach high levels of mechanical tension without also creating Muscle damage and soreness. So, but that we're not necessarily just trying to beat the shit out of the muscle and see how, how sore we can make people that that's not necessarily the right way to go about it.

Andy (57m 6s):


Brian (57m 6s):

You can, you can build muscle and get stronger without being sore.

Andy (57m 11s):

You can, you agree with ab? I, I would definitely agree. And I think Okay, the, the, the, I think that's a big goal of the clients that I train. Yeah. The, the, the things that make people sore, you know, there's, or let me back up a little bit. But the way to not get sore, you know, and I think to, to some degree, if you're gonna seriously pursue strength or bodybuilding, you're gonna learn to live with a little bit of mild soreness. Sure. But you're not gonna wake up after every squat day with debilitating delayed onset soreness where you can barely walk. I mean, I've been training now for 30 years, and I'm pretty much used to a muscle always being sore somewhere on my body. I mean, I, I kind of like it in a way. I, I feel like it's probably more psychological than anything, but I feel like, you know, I, I did enough, but I don't, if I'm insanely sore, then I look at, is my recovery maybe not so great?

Andy (58m 1s):

Because there are things that you can do, like when your nutrition is shitty, you're not hydrating, you have too much alcohol, things like that will increase muscle soreness. So sometimes if I'm more sore than normal, but I didn't really change much in my workout, then I will then, you know, if I'm more sore than normal, I kind of look at my recovery patterns and say, maybe I'm, I'm not really doing great on my nutrition, hydration, sleep, you know, whatever it is. But that, that being said, on the training part of it, the way that you mitigate against soreness is one, not changing the workouts up all the time. Again, the, the, the wheater, the wheater principle of muscle confusion, where every time we do legs, we have to do totally different movements, totally different workout, constantly change, rep ranges, exercises, volume, all that kind of stuff that will keep you sore.

Andy (58m 47s):

And I think again, that tho that type of principle of constant change, constant variability that leads to soreness was associated with that paradigm of muscle soreness, is what makes the muscle grow. And so if you believe that, then yeah, you would, you would train in a way that always made you sore. Because what people will find is that once you kind of get into a workout, like let's say, you know, you've got your workout A and workout B, and they don't change that much, you know, week to week, once you get through the first week or two of doing that, you're not gonna get sore anymore. Especially if you're smartly, it's con and conservatively increasing the stress. So you're going up in weight, yes, but not by much. You're, we're talking about two to five pound increases in weight, you know, every couple weeks or whatever.

Andy (59m 30s):

Or we may increase the rep range, but by a little bit, we're going from three sets of five to three sets of six. We're not going from three sets of five to three sets to 12, you know, so we're, so it's, if those, all those variables, all those metrics are more or less kept the same workout to workout, but then you are, and you're just conservatively progressing that you're not gonna get all that sore. What, when you tend to get sore as when once you've been doing this for a number of years, you know, the current workout that you're doing, may you, you're gonna get stagnant on it. And you may find that you're not seeing any progression like you used to. Like, you're not, you're not seeing any new muscle growth. Your strength levels aren't going up, so your performance is increasing.

Andy (1h 0m 11s):

Or you start to get some aches and pains associated with doing the same movements over and over again. And so it, you go, okay, I think it's maybe time to change up my routine. And so you change out exercises or you make bigger adjustments to the rep ranges, well then what happens? You're sore, right? Right. 'cause it's new and, and that's just, that's just part of it though. I mean, if you're gonna lift weights, there's, there's no way around occasional soreness, but there's no argument to be made for constantly being sore. you know? And if you're constantly sore, I would say either your recovery is bad or your workload is too high. you know, because there is a, there is a certain amount of work that any of us can do that we can't recover from, no matter if our nutrition is perfect, our sleep is perfect, our hydration is perfect, there is a certain threshold that you can cross that you cannot recover from.

Andy (1h 0m 59s):

And so the main thing to look for one soreness is one thing, but also performance. you know, if you're, if you're going into, if you're, if your weights, you know, you're, you're squatting on Monday and then you're going in next Monday to squat again, and you're still feeling it from the previous week, your workload's probably too high. Like, you know, so you should be able to demonstrate a performance increase day-to-day, week to week, especially as a beginner. So, you know, you need to dial that, dial that back. And performance is always going to be a better metric than soreness or Muscle damage. you know, that's, that's what's really gonna matter, are my lifts, is my performance going up week to week, day to day? That's always the key to Muscle growth or increased performance, not how sore am I, although soreness may be a, a part of, you know, continuing to do this for a long period of time, there's gonna be times where you get sore.

Andy (1h 1m 50s):

Yeah. you know, for sure. Introducing a new movement, you know, if you, if you've been just deadlifting for the first six months of training, first year of training, and then I introduce you to a Romanian deadlift, well, the Romanian deadlift has more, it's more directly, it more directly stresses the hamstrings than a deadlift does, where the, in a deadlift, the hamstrings are sharing the load a lot more with the quads. But now in the Romanian deadlift, now the hamstrings are doing much more of their work on their own. They're going through a much longer range of motion, and there's greater eccentric, there's a greater eccentric component to that movement. So guess what, you're gonna feel a lot of soreness in the hamstrings. And that can be a useful thing.

Andy (1h 2m 31s):

And that, you know, at least for the first workout or two is did we get the movement right? Because if I, if I have somebody do a Romanian deadlift or a good morning or something like that for the first time, and the next day they feel nothing in their hamstrings, you know, or they didn't feel anything in their hamstrings during the workout, I could potentially look at that as well, maybe the mechanics weren't exactly right, you know, because we, you should be sore after doing that. And, and, and so that's not necessarily the goal of the workout But, it ist potentially an indicator that the mechanics were correct in stressing the right muscle group. you know, versus I woke up and I didn't feel anything in my hamstrings, but my lower back was really sore. Well, yeah, R DLS will cause a little bit of lower back soreness.

Andy (1h 3m 13s):

But, it should mainly be a hamstringing type movement. And so that, so soreness patterns can be a, a useful thing to indicate effective training stimulus, but it's not the goal of the training session. you know, once, once we do that first workout of an RDL and you do, you know, 50 pounds for a set of five or whatever, then the goal now is not to get you sore again. It's to do 55 for five, and then 60 for five, and then 60. you know, that's the goal. And whatever soreness is associated with that is what it is. But the more that you do it, the less the soreness is generally going to be.

Brian (1h 3m 47s):

That's of good stuff. Andy. I, I'm like, I'm thinking, you know, we're getting up on time. I'm like, well, maybe we'll do a part two down the road a little bit.

Andy (1h 3m 53s):

Sure. No, I'm, and I'm good on time. I don't know if you have any other questions or anything. I'm, I'm okay.

Brian (1h 3m 57s):

So, yeah, no, I mean, this was good. I think we hit a lot. Yeah. I always ask this. I'll ask you one last question then. We'll, we will end it here, but what, what one tip would you give someone I, that maybe is looking to get their body back to what it once was, maybe, you know, 5, 10, 15 years ago. What one tip would you give that individual?

Andy (1h 4m 16s):

So what I normally, when I start with a, you know, I always tell people if you, if you're, if you're in bad shape, you know, if you're, if you're kind of a, a, and I'm not necessarily, again, I think not necessarily talking to somebody who's, who's fit, but maybe just wants to, you know, lose a little belly Fat or whatever. But somebody who's in a bad state, which is a lot of the clients that I start with And, you know, they're, they're obviously not fit, but their health is in a bad place. Physical, psychological, mental health is on a bad place because their, you know, because their physical health is so bad is I usually have people really commit to s starting one thing and stopping one thing, you know, and try and identify and, and you wanna make those, like the, like, so the starting one thing, if you're not doing anything now, you know, the starting of the one thing is usually gonna be an exercise related thing.

Andy (1h 5m 4s):

Although it could be an, it could be an nutrition thing, it could be, I'm gonna start eating three servings of vegetables per day. But usually the starting is, is going to be an exercise related thing. And I usually like that, that first thing to be something that's an extremely low barrier to clear that doesn't require cost. It doesn't require you to schedule appointments with people. And I'm saying this as a guy that owns a gym and is a personal trainer that wants you to come and see me at some point, right? Sure. But I usually tell people, look, walk every day for 30 minutes. If you're not doing anything now. Like, that is the, there is nothing stop love. There is nothing stopping you from opening your front door and walking for 30 minutes.

Andy (1h 5m 45s):

you know, you know, if you're in Chicago and it's Sub-Zero temperatures or whatever, okay, fine. Go buy a $30 a month membership to the, to the gym that has a treadmill and a, you know, I don't know what you people do that live up there.

Brian (1h 5m 56s):

I'm walking with my dogs no matter the temperatures.

Andy (1h 5m 58s):

So, yeah, And, you know, and I've, and I pretty much tell people that here in Houston, you know, when it's a, you know, it's, I got older people that are on, you know, maybe I, it's not good advice for the trainer to tell them to walk in 105 in the middle of July, but, you know, hey, if that means you gotta get up at 5:00 AM when it's, when it's 85 and not 105, then that's what you do. you know, but it's start something and do it consistently, you know, and it, and it needs to be, it can't, you want it to be a low barrier, but you don't want it to be so small that it doesn't have an impact. you know, it's not, I'm gonna go for a walk, you know, I'm gonna, every Saturday or something like, you know, 30, like walk 30 minutes a day. If you're not doing anything now do that for three months, you know, and then you can start something else after that, you know?

Andy (1h 6m 43s):

And at the same time, on that day one, we're gonna start one thing, and we're also gonna stop one thing we're gonna, and, and again, it can't be the, I'm going to, you know, stop having chocolate cake. Like, well, how often do you have chocolate cake once a month like that? That's not gonna, like, what's, you gotta find something that we're doing every day that's having a huge negative impact on your health that we're gonna stop. And for, usually what I'll look at people is, the first thing I'll look at is alcohol. you know, what are you, what's your drinking habits like, you know, are you, are you down in a bottle of wine per night? you know, or are you, are you sitting, are you drinking a six pack a night? You know, that's the first thing that we're gonna stop because that's gonna, that's gonna have a big physical impact, not just in the reduction of calories, but getting all that shit out of their, outta their head.

Andy (1h 7m 27s):

And it's gonna get 'em, you know, and maybe for some people, you know, that's not, it's not to abstain from it completely. you know, that may be a big, and you don't want to, as a trainer, you don't want to get into being a counselor necessarily. But that's, they do overlap. But maybe, you know, if that's, if you're at a bottle of wine every night, maybe it's a glass per night, you know, I'm gonna stop drinking that bottle of wine. I'm gonna start, maybe instead of drinking that six or 12 pack every night, I'm gonna have one beer at night, or I'm gonna only drink on Friday and Saturday. But we gotta, we gotta start one thing and we gotta stop one thing. Love that. And they gotta be big, but they gotta be simple and they gotta go on for 12 weeks, and at the end of 12 weeks, they will have seen a difference. Yeah. you know, they will have seen, and then that's gonna give them a ton of momentum, you know, physically and mentally, emotionally, to move into the next level of things, to actually get on a, they're gonna trust that it actually works.

Andy (1h 8m 20s):

A lot of people, it's amazing how many people don't believe that diet and exercise actually works. you know? And it's, it's weird. I mean, our industry in a way sells that to people, oh, diet and exercise don't work for you. Try this. Like, no, that's such bullshit. I mean, diet and exercise literally works for everybody. There's no scenario where improvements in there aren't positive. And so, you know, getting people the mental and the physical head space to then make a bigger change to actually okay, get on a more solid regimen and nutrition plan. Okay. Actually get into a gym and maybe hook up with a trainer or get into a more structured class thing, you know, they'll be in a better place to do that, you know? So Yeah. That's, that's what I usually tell people too. I,

Brian (1h 8m 57s):

I like the way, I like the way you say that. Start something and end something and has to be somewhat significant. And for 12 weeks, and like you said, the walking, I talk about walking so much on this podcast, it's, you know, ad nauseum. But I, I agree.

Andy (1h 9m 13s):

Yeah. And it's, and I always tell people that, and, and people will almost create their own obstacles to, to like starting that. And they're like, well, I don't have a step counter. I need to go get an Apple watch or what. I'm like, no, no, you don't, you don't need to count your steps. Like you, like, that's good. Like, I'm, I'm, but like, literally pick a physical destination. I'm just gonna walk to the light post that's at the end of my street and back. Like it can be totally arbitrary. Sure. you know, or 30 minutes. I'm just gonna, I'm gonna walk 15 minutes in one direction, and then when I hit 15 minutes, I'm gonna turn around and walk back, like, don't, you don't need to go out and buy new clothes. You don't need to go buy an Apple watch. You don't need to do all these things. And, but they will do that. They'll, they'll say, well, I gotta do this, this, this, and this before I start this.

Andy (1h 9m 54s):

And I'm like, with walking, all you need to do is walk out your front door right now, like, that's it. Walk out your front door right now and go on a walk. You don't need to do any, there's, that's why I always generally start with walking, because there's really no excuses to be made other than per potentially the weather. Sure. you know, depending on where you live. But other than that, there's really, and there's so many gyms now that, I mean, I have, I don't have a lot of cardio equipment in my gym, so I have, I have clients like there's, there's gyms all over us that are $30 a month or whatever that are basically a few weight equipment and, but just bikes, rows of bikes and treadmills that aren't being used. Right. And it's like, I mean, it's so simple, you know?

Brian (1h 10m 36s):

Good stuff. Andy All. right. Best place for people to find you. Your website?

Andy (1h 10m 39s):

Yeah, my website. Andy Baker dot com or my Instagram, which is at Baker barbell.

Brian (1h 10m 46s):

Awesome. Well, lot of great knowledge, a lot of great knowledge here today, so I appreciate you coming on and, and, and dropping all that for us.

Andy (1h 10m 54s):

Yeah, man, I appreciate you having me on. I'd love to, love to do it again. Yeah,

Brian (1h 10m 57s):

No doubt. Have a great day,

Andy (1h 10m 59s):

All. right. You too. See ya.

Brian (1h 11m 2s):

Thanks for listening to the Get Lean Eat Clean Podcast. I understand there are millions of other Podcasts out there and you've chosen to listen to mine and I appreciate that. Check out the show notes at Brian Gryn dot com for everything that was mentioned, In, this episode. Feel free to subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend or family member that's looking to get their body back to what it once was. Thanks again, and have a great day.

Andy Baker

I began my career in the strength & conditioning industry in 2001, as an intern while attending Texas A&M University.  In 2003, I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and was proud to serve multiple combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom between 2003-2007.  While serving on active duty, I continued to train student athletes and general fitness clients at various gym in Orange County CA.  During that time, I also received my undergraduate degree in Health & Sport Science from the American Military University.

In 2007, I opened the doors to Kingwood Strength & Conditioning (now Baker Personal Training) and have served as the owner and lead trainer for the past 16 years!   Since 2007 we have been Kingwood’s leading personal training facility – our members range from Division I college athletes to clients in their 80s!

I hold the industry’s highest credentials from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, USA Weightlifting, and am a certified Starting Strength Coach. I have also competed as a Raw and Drug-Free Powerlifter with the Natural Athlete Strength Association.  In 2010, I won the N.A.S.A. Grand Nationals in the 198 lb raw division. My winning total included a 529 lb Squat, 380 lb Bench Press, and 562 lb Deadlift.


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