There’s more to strength training than building bigger biceps or a bigger booty.
While many people start their fitness journey with the goal of improving their physique, the benefits of resistance training go far beyond looks. From improving bone density to reducing the risk of chronic diseases, strength training can help you lead a healthier, longer, and more fulfilling life.
To talk about the non-muscle related benefits of lifting weights, I invited Austin Current back on the podcast. In our first chat, Austin and I talked about his book Science of Strength Training, which is a visual encyclopedia and comprehensive resource that dives into anatomy and the physiology of muscle growth.
If you’re not familiar with Austin, he’s an educator, author, and coach, and in this interview, Austin and I discuss . . .
- The “other” benefits of progressive resistance training including improving bone health, metabolic health, cardiovascular health, mental health, and mobility
- The brain health benefits of training, including cognitive abilities, mental sharpness, and reducing depression and anxiety
- Minimizing the risk of various diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers
- The importance of maintaining fitness habits and avoiding “extreme” thinking and mindsets
- Compensating for modern conveniences that lead to sedentary living, and how to get started with easy and enjoyable exercise routines
- How physical activity affects our quality of life as we age
- And more . . .
So, if you’re looking to learn about the non-aesthetic benefits of strength training, listen to this episode and let me know your thoughts!
0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!
2:35 – What are some benefits of strength training besides aesthetic reasons?
11:30 – What is brain health and how does strength training relate to it?
31:22 – Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching: https://www.muscleforlife.show/vip
33:46 – How does strength train compare to other types of training?
49:51 – Why do you prefer to do yoga?
53:30 – What are your thoughts on stronger people having longevity?
1:23:45 – is there anything you would like to add?
1:28:37 – Where can we find you and your work?
Mentioned on the Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hello there. This is Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for a new episode on some of the unsung. And in some cases, depending on how much, you know, surprising benefits of strength training because there’s a lot more to get from strength training than just bigger biceps and bigger butt cheeks.
Of course, most people, especially most younger people, they start their fitness journey with the goal of improving their physique, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And what we see in the mirror is always a motivating factor forever. No matter how long somebody has been training, at least 50% of the reason why they keep showing up and keep putting in the work is they want to look a certain way.
And that doesn’t mean that they are selfish or narcissistic or anything other than somebody who wants to look fit, who wants to look healthy. Now one of the cool things about strength training is there are many other benefits. There are many other reasons that have nothing to do with vanity to do regular strength training workouts.
They are going to improve your bone density. They’re going to reduce the risk of many types of diseases. They are going to help you live a longer. Healthier and even more fulfilling life. And in this episode, you’re gonna learn about those types of benefits of strength training, the ones that go deeper than what you see in the mirror.
And you’re going to be hearing from Austin Current. He is my guest and he is coming back on the podcast. This is his second appearance. In our first chat, we talked about his new book, science of Strength Training, which is a visual encyclopedia and comprehensive resource that dives into anatomy and the physiology of muscle growth.
And if you like this chat, you probably will like his book. I think he did a great job with it, so I definitely recommend checking it out. And in case you are not familiar with Austin, he is an educator. He is an author, he is also a coach and the co-founder of Physique Development, which is a coaching group that works with everyday fitness folk and competitors alike.
Hey Austin, thanks for coming back on my podcast. It’s
Austin: Benne bit. It’s been a while, man, and I, I know we had some scheduling, uh, feats there for a bit, but I’m glad we could, glad we could make it happen. Yeah. Yeah. I’m
Mike: excited to, to talk with you today about, uh, before we started recording, joking that it’s kind of a, a more mature discussion about strength training.
And by that what I mean for people listening is, so in my experience in the last 10, 11 years, uh, you know, I’ve heard from, uh, worked with many people and if it’s a younger guy and we’re talking about strength training, why strength training? It’s mostly aesthetics as they say. Like you could start to talk about some of the things that we’re gonna talk about, or Austin mostly is gonna be talking about.
You could talk about better bone health and metabolic health and cardiovascular mental health mobility, blah, blah, blah. And the younger guy, let’s say he’s a guy in his twenties, he’s probably gonna be like, yeah, that sounds good, but my biceps are gonna get bigger. Correct? And you’re like, yes, yes. Your biceps will get bigger too.
Yes, that that will happen. However, there are many other people who are less interested in getting bigger biceps. Many women, for example, who have spoken to over the years, yes they have their own, often have their own look that they want to achieve, but that does not involve, like you tell a guy, young guy, strength training can make you jacked.
And that’s about all you need to tell him. And he’s sold. You say that even to a young. Woman, in my experience, many of them. Thinking about getting jacked. That’s not how they would put it. In fact, that sounds like bulky. That sounds like not what they want and that’s another discussion, but just perception.
Right? And, and, and so, and then there also are many people in my experience who are, let’s say 40 plus, who are simply not as concerned with trying to get really big biceps guys who, as they once were maybe in their twenties or they, they think that they really can’t gain much muscle anymore, which is not true.
But again, perceptions and so many of those people, this is, I think the, today’s discussion is, is not gonna be for, for people who. Want to get into strength training just to get jacked. Like, yes, strength training can make you jacked, but today’s discussion is gonna be about all the other things that strength training can do for your health and for your wellbeing, and why I would say that it’s a form of exercise that everybody should be doing.
It doesn’t mean that everybody has to be lifting barbells per se, but some sort of strength training is, I, I think, a, a form of exercise that everybody should be doing regardless of their age, regardless of how much they care about getting big muscles. And, um, yeah. So I think I’ll just stop there and
Austin: give it over to you.
Yeah. So Muscle man, it, it’s, as we were saying before we hopped on, like again, it’s muscle’s, a great side effects of, of training or added muscle tissue is, is a great side effect of training, um, as I like to say. And it’s something. You know, I, I think it’s really productive. It’s like, what, what gets you into it, right?
Because it’s like the strength training or the resistance, really progressive resistance training in general, right? So any sort of resistance we’re, we’re fighting against, that’s, you know, placing enough of a re a stimulus or a stress on your, on your system and your structure is going to be productive, right?
Because as we know, you know, as Steve Carll so eloquently, put it in 40 year old Virgin, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Right. And that’s very true. Like with our, with our brain, with our cognitive abilities, with our physical abilities, with your athleticism coordination. Like if you don’t use it, you will lose it.
Right. And that isn’t to say you can’t gain it back, but. It’s not going to stay there long term just because you did it once, right? It needs to be a repeated thing across a lifespan. And I, I think, you know, like my book Science and Strength Training obviously highlights muscle physiology. It, it highlights how muscles grow, and that’s kind of what we talked about.
That’s exactly what we talked about. And the first episode I was on, uh, last year, I think it was somewhere around there a year ago. And, you know, that was more like the mechanisms that sort of drive and, and drive that process forward of adding new muscle tissue. But I would say the book actually has more, more information.
But I, I think more important information in my own mind of, of kind of that target reader and, and the true impact strength training can have, which is again, more on the, the bone density, the lowered risk of osteoporosis leading into to later in life, dynapenia, sarcopenia, all these things, right? So sarcopenia is like muscle loss over, over a lifetime or over time.
And Dino Pia is a loss of muscle strength in. Power, right? Which as we get into older age, right? We can kind of look at our grandparents and are your grandparents, if they’re still around, are they active? Have they been active their whole life? And how mobile are they? How independent are they? Did they go into a home early?
Right? And, and we can see, I think one of the most startling, uh, statistics that I’ve read, and I I came across this when I was, when I was writing the book, was over the next 40 years, the number of adults over 65 years of age will more than double in the United States from 46 million to 98 million, right?
And so, That, that’s, I mean, that’s all of us that are probably listening to this or, or having this conversation, right? And the importance of, of establishing habitual exercise. And, you know, something that helps us with healthy aging, you know, is something that just cannot be overstated, right? It, it can’t be ignored because with
Mike: that is our health and our energy, and with that is our quality of life.
I, I recently, I read a book called Die with Zero that I liked, and in, in the book, the author talks about thinking about the different types of experiences that you want to have in your life. And then kind of overlaying that on the, the different periods of aging in your life and understanding that as your health and your energy, inevitably, if your health declines, your energy levels decline, your willingness, and then your ability to just do certain things declines.
And so that’s one of the reasons why. To your point, it’s, uh, it is very smart to make a habit when you are younger of preserving health, preserving the ability to move and stay active, and thereby also preserving your energy levels, physical and just psychological. So when you’re in your sixties or seventies, which is when many people is, when their net worth is highest and they have, uh, a lot of time that now they didn’t have when they were in their thirties or maybe forties.
And so theoretically, oh, with, with money and time can come freedom to do all these things and have such a great life, not without health and with that energy and
Austin: mobility. Right. Exactly. And I, I think that’s the, it’s a very weird inverse relationship. We, we all kind of share, especially in, in western culture is like typically.
The more successful we get over time, right? The higher our general net worth is. And, and the more that freedom of time kind of opens up on average the way we’re going typically also, unfortunately matches with the least healthy you’ll ever be and the most immobile you’ll ever be. And so, I don’t know, there’s few situations I could imagine that are outside of the obvious ones that are more depressive to think about.
You know, it’s like, what would you rather have no money and all your faculties and, and you’re the most healthy you’ve ever been, the most mobile you’ve ever been. You can have all the freedom you want. Net worth is lower or net worth is highest it’s ever been. You had all the money you could ever want, but you can’t move.
You’re, you’re a prisoner in your own vessel that you can interact with the world in. You know, and it’s like, our body is this, this thing where, you know, it’s essentially our brain’s ability to manipulate the outside world, right? I mean, We can’t do much without our brain. We can do, we can do many things without parts of our body, but without parts of our brain.
We’re pretty, uh, pretty rendered. Uh, or, you know, our ability to do things to manipulate the outside world are or drastically, uh, less so. It’s very important. And especially keep that vessel, keep that, that thing that allows you to, to interact with the outside world and, and fulfill those things that you wanna fulfill.
Live the life you wanna live. But not only does the, the physical activity and, and the progressive resistance training, is that a modality, a very efficient and effective one to not only help the body adapt and grow over time and then stay resilient, but also it also comes right back to keeping your mind healthy and your, your brain healthy, right?
Allowing you to continue to hopefully live your best. As you have more money and freedom to actually live your best life, right? You want those two to kind of align, not have this like unfortunate inverse relationship with, which is kind of the direction we’re headed in many ways.
Mike: Let’s, uh, just because you mentioned it and it’s on the list and it is just a popular topic, perennial, and it seems like growing in popularity as of recently, and that is brain health and how strength training relates to brain health and, and what that means practically speaking, because I think sometimes what people run into, especially younger people, and a lot of this sounds, they would agree intellectually, but it’s kind of abstract because.
They feel great, and especially if they’re in their twenties or thirties, they’re basically invincible. And so there’s that. And then there’s also, when you hear, oh, okay, brain health. Yeah, of course having a healthy brain is good. And, and some of these other things we’ll talk about. Yeah, metabolic health.
Okay, having a healthy metabolism is good, cardiovascular is good, but what does that really mean in actual kind of real world terms? And again, we might as well start with brain health because you mentioned it and it’s a, it’s a very popular topic.
Austin: Yeah. I think the most, the most, uh, pronounced ones have to do with positive effects on neurogenesis, which is essentially the, the process by which new neurons, which are just the messengers, are formed in, in the brain, right.
Second to that as well is, is the neuroplasticity, which are, you know, neurogenesis and neuroplasticity are two terms you’ve probably heard, at least at some point in your life, potentially neuroplasticity, probably more so, which is just this like general umbrella term that refers to the brain’s ability to sort of modify change and adapt structurally and, and in function throughout your life in response to the experiences you have, right?
So again, like imagine the state of your brain being trapped in sort of a, an isolated place, right? We go nuts. Right. You, you start to deteriorate, you go clinically insane. Your experiences are are what’s actually allowing you to, to sort of modify change and adapt that structure positively towards, towards new and better.
And again, like between the neurogenesis, the, the neuroplasticity, those things help really, uh, lead to improvements in learning. Cognition and memory. Mood and sleep, which I, I think are the. Practical things, especially as we start to age our overall cognition and, and executive function, our ability to, to basically do cognitively demanding tasks, lessons, right?
You become a little bit slower. Um, my brain isn’t what it used to be. All these things are sort of repeated, right? You hear your parents say it, you hear your grandparents say it. Particularly with
Mike: fluid intelligence, right? Like whereas crystallized, you know, you can have accumulated a lot of knowledge and that’s great, but your ability to figure things out to not just recall information, but like you’re saying, to have to figure out a puzzle of some sort.
Not literally a puzzle could be in life. Like, oh, I have a problem. How do I figure this out? What do I do? Or just that mental sharpness.
Austin: Yeah, so exactly. So your mental sharpness and in your ability to actually carry out those tasks and actually carry out the, the complexity of that. Of what’s demanded to work through a problem.
Right. So, you know, you can remember back in school when you had to work, you know, you’re, you’re handed a math exam and you’re having to work through a very complex problem. I, I think this is kind of where, I don’t know how the related this is, but I, I think we write off math. I don’t use a ton of math in my life, I’ll say, but I’m always extremely grateful and I always kind of have a contrarian view to my friends who like always kind of like badmouth the math that they had to do early in school, you know, and
And say how it was pointless. Like, when’s the last time I even used high school algebra, let alone,
Austin: yeah. But to me it’s, it’s more of a, a representation. And I think this has a, a relationship to what we’re talking about here, and it’s, it’s your ability to show up and work through demanding tasks, you know, so math, it’s, it’s cognitive.
Right. It’s, it’s very cerebral. You have to work through it, and it’s very demanding. It’s very complex. You have to have a lot of surrounding information typically on how these, these formulas work together and, and what order you use them.
Mike: It requires working memory. Like you have to remember, especially with more complex math, like you have to remember what you did up here and how that relates to down here.
Austin: And I don’t know, a, a better representation of, of the problems that we face in our adult lives than that. Like, to me, like that’s a very good representation of how adulthood works. It’s, you’re presented a problem, you’re working off of formulaic responses that are hopefully somewhat successful or happen in the past, and you’re trying to resolve the issue or a problem by moving your way through the problem towards an answer or a resolution to that problem.
Right? And that’s essentially, you know, that’s obviously math, in my opinion, maths relationship to, to life. And it’s all, but also I, I think it plays in really well and, and the relationship. Is fairly intimate between that and also like resistance training, right? Or physical activity in, in any way. It’s just sort of the way I think about it, sort of the, the physical representation of it rather than the, the mental or cognitive representation, right?
It’s your ability to have, to show up, work through a set of problems, I ie. Sets reps rest period. And then you come out the other side with, you’re working through that problem of saving off, you know, decline of, of mental faculties, physical faculties, things that are really non-negotiables that are inescapable for all of us, at least at this point in history.
You know, you, there’s not gonna be a time where you don’t have to pay attention to, you know, your calorie management can’t. Go into the wind, your ability to, to show up and, and continue to care about your physical health can’t go away if you plan on being a healthy individual. Right? So there’s all these like non-negotiables that we have to keep up with on a day-to-day basis.
And, you know, one of the, the biggest things that kind of comes out of all of this is the benefits of strength training in food, like physical activity are extremely clear. You know, and I will get into that more today. And like, you know, you’ve written about it in your books, I’ve written about it in my book.
Like the challenge really becomes like performing the activity consistently throughout one’s lifespan, right. To really reap its benefits. And so I think a mature conversation really is centered around benefits beyond aesthetically growing, you know, like your biceps or having, you know, huge lasts where your shirts don’t fit.
Yeah. Your butt, you know, having, I don’t want my pants to fit, but it’s, it’s really kind of what, how can we. Have a better conversation, uh, a more mature conversation that has more impacts on everyone’s life, more so than just people who want to add a little bit of muscle tissue.
Mike: And, and I would say that, that that can appeal to many more people than only talking about the aesthetic component of gaining muscle.
Like, yeah, that appeals to a lot of people, but there are many, many, and you know this, and I know this many, many, many people, millions of people out there who will come to me, and I know some of these people have come to you and they’ll say, I don’t really care that much about, it’ll be a guy or, or a woman saying, you know, I don’t care to look like a bodybuilder or weightlifter.
Austin: So like, what’s in this for me?
Mike: Sure, I’ll take some extra muscle. But it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that much to me. So what else do you got?
Austin: What I have, you know, is a, is a better aging process and. The ability to have more independence and a better quality of life throughout your life as you age. Right? And it’s kind of always kind of coming back to that, how do you wanna feel?
It’s, it’s compounding interest, right? And in real time, it’s like, if you wanna have a certain amount of money when you retire, it’s the smaller bits of money that you invest and compound over time that ultimately gets you to that end goal, right? Of, of how you want to exist later in life. If we have the luxury of, of making it that far, right?
And, and we’re always kind of, to me again, like there’s a very intimate relationship between those two things, right? So exercise in a lot of ways is just that compounding interests. You’re putting in the, the small bits of effort on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, yearly basis, that ultimately, if done consistently have a net return every year and essentially gets you.
Closer and closer to how you want to feel be and exists when you are older. Right. And, and you wanna have all these things because once they decline passed up a certain point, it seems super hard to regain it. You know, there are promising things with, with, uh, elderly folks, but it is something, you know, if, if you start to develop signs, uh, early, earlier signs of Alzheimer’s dementia, like there’s ways to sort of stave that off for a certain amount of time.
But could it have been more prevented or, or at least more delayed by another five, 10 years if you would’ve been doing the, the things you should have been doing that you know you should have been doing, uh, or finding a way to, to get done versus sort of putting it off because muscle wasn’t your first priority.
Mike: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve commented that it’s never too late to, to start and to improve health and wellbeing, but sometimes it is too late to achieve certain outcomes, and that’s, that’s just a reality. That’s not what some people want to hear. I don’t mean that to discourage anybody, but, but that, uh, that is a reality.
I mean, there is a point where if you’ve neglected your health for too long, it’s never too late to do something to improve it. But you might not be able to reach the state that you really want to reach and that you could have reached and maintained if you would’ve. Done things differently. And so, yeah.
Why don’t we get into some of these, some of these things. I also, I’ll say like, you know, strength training is good because strong people are harder to kill, right? Strong things are harder to break. And so, and so we, we we’re talking about reducing the risk of different types of disease and dysfunction as well as a, of course improving function, which is, which is cool that you, you get actually both sides of that coin, so to speak, where you are gaining positive things immediately, uh, when you engage in regular strength training that you notice, and then you also are mitigating or avoiding things all together that would’ve otherwise occurred later if you hadn’t done this right.
Austin: You know, that gets into things that, you know, we continue as a, as a culture to really deal with at a, at an alarming rate, which is cardiovascular disease, certain cancers type two diabetes. Um, All of these things and just obesity in general. All of these things are avoidable in many ways or treatable proactively by participating in, in these things.
Right. And, you know, I, I don’t, obviously I’m a proponent for progressive resistance training and strength training and, and fighting against resistance. Right. But that’s, that’s my chosen way of, you know, putting this message out into the world. But really just general physical activity, cardiovascular activity are cardiovascular work and aerobic, aerobic work and, and strength training.
Like all these things, to me kind of coexist. Right. And one of the best ways I’ve, I’ve seen it put, I, I wanna say it was like a, may have been like a, I wanna say Stuart Phillip. Study or maybe in a different one, but beside the point, essentially they came out to say like, you know, one of the big issues that we face with, with exercise, right, is, is always the time component and the, the resource of energy we have to give towards a thing that is going to tick this box in our life.
Right? So if you only have 30 minutes, 40 minutes, two to three times per week, we, we need to start to answer the questions of what is the most productive way to tick all of these boxes that we essentially need to tick? How do we use that time wisely? Right? And so, you know, a lot of research goes, goes to that where it’s like, okay, we know all these things can help generally with, you know, cognitive de decline.
We know that they can generally help with, with physical decline and, and loss of independence later in life and lower risk of disease and all of these things. But what. And that, that’s across the board of like just general physical activity, aerobic activity, aerobic, uh, work in, in strength training. But yeah,
Mike: starting with even walks, like if you just go for a couple of walks every day, you are going to be achieving some degree of, of all of those things.
But is that to say that walking is the best way you could use the 30 to 45 minutes that you have? No, no. It’s great. It’s, yeah, it’s great. Uh, uh, again, if that’s all you can do, do it. But if you can do some other things, then there are some other things worth considering.
Austin: Absolutely. And, and things that you’re going to, going to attached, you know, a, a not only a physical enjoyment, but a, a psychological enjoyment as well.
Right. Something that’s challenging to you. You know, I, I think it’s, that’s another important aspect to all this is, is continuing to do things. And this is something that continues to show up. You know, the more I dig into to reading this, Uh, literature and stuff is, it mainly comes down to challenges that we face consistently.
Right. And those, those can be cognitive challenges or, or physical challenges, right. Or even emotional challenges. Things that create that resilience that we, we need to carry ourselves through life, you know, are really established through, through these simple practices. Right. And I think in a big way, we really, we really like to overthink a lot of things and that it’s something that I’ve tried to minimize in my own writing or, you know, speaking on podcasts about or whatever.
It’s, you know, before we hopped on as well, we were kind of talking about all these, these petty arguments that happen between, you know, colleagues in the fitness space that ultimately are sort of just happening and, and being sent into a void that ultimately. Sort of unhelpful, in my opinion, to, to the consumer, to the 99% of people who actually need this information.
Right. And I, I think a very important filter to have, you know, if you’re a coach listening to this or a trainer, just someone who puts out information, that’s the people that, that need this help is, is what you’re saying or what you, what you’re putting out motivating someone or enticing them or giving them hope towards improvement, towards physical exercise.
Or is it detracting them from it? Right. So it, what’s your message actually putting out? And I, I think a lot of the, the very nuanced, petty arguments that that happen, especially in our little corner of the internet are. You know, if we, like I was saying before, like if we could spend that time and energy,
Mike: we only have so much energy every day that we can give to anything until we just kind
Austin: of tap out.
Right? I mean, yeah. So I mean, that’s such a big part of it is, is, is what you’re putting out actually helping others in contributing positively to this, this real issue that we’re having. Right. I mean, obesity and, and all of the things that come with that, be it cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, depression being a huge one, anxiety being a huge one.
Those are two other things, depression and anxiety that are, have been shown pretty clearly within the research to, to have improvements with strength training. You know, the depression one’s super interesting and, you know, I’m definitely not the one to go into the, the, the weeds and rabbit hole here about serious depression or, or major depression disorder in general.
But you know, it is one of. I have a thing here written down, it’s the leading cause of global disease burden that affects over 300 million people, 300 million people worldwide. Right? And so imagine just taking basically the population of the us, the ones that we can even like track, right? Or have written, you know, that.
So there’s definitely more of them. That’s a major
Mike: issue too. It’s not a minor issue, which we’ve
Mike: all experienced if we’ve, if we’ve lived a little bit, we’ve all experienced to some degree. And if you look at, I realize this really, if you look at the symptoms of like mild depression, I was like, oh yeah, I got, I’ve definitely experienced that.
And especially I, if I, if I push myself where all I’m doing is working, no social life, very little time with my family and I’ve done it multiple times. So yeah, I’ve definitely been there. I mean, it’s my own creation. And it was good to know that like, okay, I have a limit. I can only go to this level of like, Doing nothing but working essentially, uh, before it creates this, this mild, uh, level of depression.
And so just to your point, I mean, who knows how many more tens of millions of people are dealing with something that hasn’t been clinically diagnosed and would not be diagnosed as a serious problem. But is it can be, it can feel like kind of a serious problem as an individual because it messes up your sleep and it just messes with your life and you’re like, uh, this is not
Exactly. Yeah. And in, in terms of like looking at major depression, and I pulled this from, from a paper on the topic of kind of linking major depression disorder with basically the, the impacts of, of physical activity. And I wanna say specifically to, to strength act like strength work or strength training, basically linking.
Neurotrophins, which essentially are, you know, just for that word, neurotrophin, essentially a closely related family of proteins in the brain that contribute to survival, growth, and maintenance of our neurons, right? Are neurons being the information messengers, the, those electrical impulses and chemical signals that transmit information, you know, to different, basically across the brain, right?
So you see those, like if you’ve ever seen like a brain imaging or whatever, like a, like a visual representation of these neurons cause they’re communicating and synapses firing and all these things, right? Those are, that’s how we create things and make them happen with our body, right? Those, the parts in the brain have to communicate, right?
So, With, with strength training specifically and with physical activity. The main neurotrophin that they look at that has the biggest link to depression is brain derived neurotrophic factor, which just, BDNF is a way easier way to put that. But it has been proven to be the, one of the most highly inducible neurotrophins with physical activity.
And it emulates in what I’ve read it, it, it does similar things to what these medications for depression are doing is inducing and that’s excitability of that, uh, neurotrophin, the, the dose you’re getting of that, right. Um, and how that shows up and those growth factors alone. So nerve growth factors, the other neurotrophin that is in that family, uh, that you typically see grouped in there, but they play pivotal roles in the formation and the plastic plasticity of, of our brains, which we talked about earlier in terms of that neurogenesis and neuroplasticity is being very, very important as we age in allowing us to continue to adapt to what.
Challenges life hits us with, right? And, and strength training and physical activity are the best ways and most efficient and effective ways to make this happen, right? So that’s, that’s a promising thing.
Mike: How would you like to know a little secret that will help you get into the best shape of your life here?
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Call now and let’s see if my one-on-one coaching service is right for you. And for people wondering how, how does strength training compare to other, so let’s just take, let’s just take cardiovascular training or endurance training because that’s often, it just seems to be part of this discussion is I think that most people who are at least remotely informed would agree that.
Austin: Both, a bit of both is
Mike: better. Um, doing some strength, strength training and cardiovascular endurance training is gonna give you the best of everything. And some people argue about how you should dose those things. Like should it be, cuz we only have so much time to do this stuff and so should I spend 70 or 80% of my time on the strength training or the cardio and vice versa.
So maybe you wanna comment on that. And then also, uh, part of the discussion is, okay, so if I really only have time to, to choose one realistically, and that is a lot of people, they have a few hours per week realistically. And, and not to go off on a tangent, but I, but I, I think it’s kind of ironic to watch fitness influencers smugly declare that people, they don’t, they don’t have too little time, they just are bad at managing their time.
When, when the, the fitness influencer is. 25.
Austin: Yeah. No children single. Their,
Mike: their job is basically to have big biceps and, and this is kind of a therapy for them. Like exercise is part of their own personal therapy program, right. So no, in, in the real world, when people have jobs and uh, when they have kids and so forth, it really can come down to, no, no, I have, you know, three hours a week really that I can, I can give to, to exercise.
And so then the question that often falls is, is strength training the, the best bang for my buck? And how does that compare to, you know, just going out and riding a bike
Austin: or, you know, going on a run. Yeah. And I, I think there’s a lot of ways to, to kind of attack this. And I think we start generally with what we were kind of saying earlier with, it’s just important first off to move, get activity and move first and foremost.
So like, if the barrier of entry. For you right now is, well, I’m intimidated by the fact that I’m either really outta shape, never been to a gym before. You know, insert your friction point there and that’s keeping you from doing the thing. Then start with the lower lowest, essentially barrier of entry there.
So start with just any movement, right? So we were saying earlier, just like generally getting out to walk and improving your non-exercise related activity, your non-structured exercise activity imp by improving that, you know, that, you know, you know, you’ve written extensively about, about this. I’m sure, I know I’ve read some of your pieces on this, but, you know, looking at, at neat, so non-exercise related activity is, is one of the best ways to manage your overall health and your body composition in general.
That doesn’t involve you really doing anything that’s extremely vigorous. It doesn’t involve you having to go to a gym. It doesn’t involve you having to get new running shoes. It doesn’t involve. Any barrier of entry outside of having some time to move your body. And this includes like cleaning. This includes all of these things.
Mike: even, even, okay, you gotta drive somewhere. Don’t park so close to the entrance and make yourself walk a little bit and you arrive somewhere. Can you take the stairs? Is that feasible? Okay, take the stairs instead of the elevators. Even silly things like that. But you do that enough of the, these little slight adjustments in how you go about your daily routine.
You can, you can rack up a lot of steps, not that you have to go for any specific target, but you know, if, if you do get to 10,000 steps a day, that represents what, about an hour and a half of walking And sure. There’s nothing magical about that, but
Austin: that’s a, that’s a good target. That’s healthy. It’s a good, it’s a great target to have.
And it is, again, it’s the lawyer’s lowest barrier of entry. Right. So, yeah. And I, I think too, cuz like this is sort of the issue we we’re all gonna have to. And I’ve tried to think more about this and I will answer those questions, but I’ve tried to think more about like with every day the conveniences of our world continue to, to get better, right?
And the more convenient our lives get, especially outside of like our professional lives, the more convenient our overall life gets, typically the worse our health outcome is going to to be in many ways, right? So your groceries get delivered, okay? There’s probably two to 3000 steps of you walking around the grocery store.
The fact that, you know, we can sit all day with our modern conveniences of, of whether it’s working from home. There’s no commute involved, there’s no movement involved. Te technically, like my bedroom is literally 10 steps away from where I’m at right now, right? So to make my living, I could just take 10 steps, do my work, walk downstairs, that’s another 10 steps.
And you can very easily see how the fact that I don’t now, now I don’t have to leave my house. It really creates, without me being aware of it, it really creates an issue for my own health in the short term, but also in the, also in the long term. Right. And so we really have to sort of fight against these, these modern conveniences that we do have.
And that’s, you know, I think that’s where you get a lot of pushback to. Or
Mike: compensate for them knowingly, right? Like take the grocery delivery. I love that I can get my groceries
Austin: delivered. I’m not bashing that. I hate the grocery store. No, no. I know,
Mike: I’m, but it’s a good point. I mean, it’s a fair, I just like, as someone who will only, like one of the, the criteria for when I moved out of Virginia is to where I ended up in Florida is can I get groceries delivered?
Because I’m not going grocery shopping out. I’m not taking my time. I’m just not. And, and my wife, she could, but right now she’s too busy with building a house and things. And so even that would be like, yes, she could do it. We, of course would make it work if we had to, but the convenience is great. However, to your point with too many of these conveniences comes the problem of, of just sedentary living if you don’t consciously compensate for them, like the bike back here that I hop on or going out for walks or doing a strength training workout and so forth.
Austin: Yeah, we have to start to compensate and make up for the the lost activity that we used to naturally get in our lives, right? So if you think back to a time, let’s say when, you know, I always, I always think back to like when I was in college and when I was like prep, you know, prepping for body building shows and photo shoots and like, I could stay really, not only, I was obviously younger and blah, blah, blah, but my day-to-day involved naturally getting 15 to 20,000 steps a day.
I got that while I was at work. And so by the time I got to my TR training session, I didn’t have to worry about much additional cardio for the sake of. Working through my energy expenditure.
Mike: Yeah. If you’re, if you’re walking three hours a day, I mean, that’s what that is. Like, think about people listening.
That’s like going for if, if you have to go for walks. Alright. But you do three hours of
Austin: walks a day. Yeah. I mean, you’re walking Yeah. Miles and miles and miles a day just by going about your daily life and living your life. Like if you have that in, you know, that’s, it’s the difference between a person who works at a desk, probably at their house or, you know, at a cubicle based job or something, or an office based job versus a, a construction worker or someone who cleans houses, you know, all day or whatever it’s like, or paints or does something that’s physical.
The energy expenditures there are drastically different. You know, could be a thou, you know, thousand, 2000 calorie difference of energy expenditure per day based off of, of just the way you’re living your life. Right. And if again, like what I was saying earlier is these are, these are inescapable realities that we all face.
And so it comes down again to. Fighting against these, these conveniences, obviously they’re fantastic and we have to pick and choose which ones we are gonna allow to sort of take over ourselves, right? So Netflix is great. I love tv. I love watching shows and getting involved into stories. I love that. But I also understand that I probably need to walk an extra hour.
A day for that because, or an extra hour to an hour and a half to two hours a day. Because I work at home all day. I drive to the gym, no walking involved there. I kind of walk around the gym obviously to do my training, but that’s probably less than a thousand steps in the gym. And then I come home and you end up getting into a routine of you cook dinner, you watch your shows, get ready for bed, repeat, right?
And I’m the same person, same goals, but my life is drastically different in the way that I live it. Right? And so we have to start to really consider and think about how we can work against those things and, and compensate, uh, physically for those things that we’re missing out on. But to get to your, to get to the question between cardio cardiovascular training and resistance training, you know, there’s, again, it’s a lot of this research is still very early on and they’re really trying to, these are the questions, and that’s why I kinda mentioned this earlier.
It’s like we understand generally that these things are important. And we understand that they positively impacts our overall health and wellbeing, especially as we age. But the definitive difference, there’s some theories, but the definitive difference isn’t as clear as much as you gotta kind of break it down into its individual parts.
Right? So within resistance training, you know, we, we sort of need to think about the, the global response we’re getting from a muscular work standpoint and what that does, what our muscles do as an organ for our overall health. Right. Um, and the, and the biggest one kind of Yeah. Specifically, right? And so again, that’s the difference of growing muscle tissue in the upper body, right?
Again. Going for runs is fantastic, but if you only run or bike, like I used to work with, I used to work with a couple people who did Iron Mans and probably people that are in the best cardiovascular shape I’ve ever seen have giant legs and just stick thin upper bodies. These people individually, not all Iron Man people.
I’ve seen some freaks out there, but, and the giant
Mike: legs is, that’s not from the running. Right? That’s probably from the bicycling. That’s from the biking. Right. And the reason I say that is a lot of people running is the easiest type of exercise, cardiovascular exercise. If, if a lot of people who get into exercise, if they’re gonna start with cardio, they start with running.
Cuz you just get some shoes and you go out and
Austin: run. Yeah. And it’s very, again, it kind of always comes back to that. Anyone who’s listening to this more, again, more mature conversation around strength training and, and physical activity. It’s. It comes back to start with the lowest barrier of entry. Start with what you not only can do, but also something that you know you’re going to enjoy that reinforces the habit, right?
It’s sort of like starting to read books. Don’t start with the longest, hardest book to read that you could pick. Start with the easiest book, the lowest barrier of entry. Get into the habit of actually reading books, and then slowly titrate up the level of advancement or, uh, demand that that book is having on you, right?
Or, or is demanding of you. And it’s the same thing with exercise, in my opinion, but when it comes to the, the difference between the two, right? We can break them into their, their separate things. And I think per time spent doing the thing, I, I do think that resistance training comes out on top in terms.
Overall net positive influence on our overall health in terms of all the things that it, that it can do, especially in terms of the muscle and strength aspect of things, and especially that spread across the body in a more appropriate way. That in a lot of this term is, is, you know, depending on how you view this term, but is more quote unquote functional, which I’m very hesitant to even use that.
But in terms of the way that we live life,
Mike: yeah. But in this case, it’s like actually kind of literal, like yes. It’s literally more functional. Like you can function better in your, in your day-to-day activities.
Austin: Like Yeah, like any, any, anyone who’s went to, uh, or anyone who did like basic health classes or, or went to university and took like your basic exercise physiology class.
You talk about activities of daily living that those ADLs are drilled into your head of being. Significant, right. We’ve put a ton of value and I, I remember being young in college and you know, I was, I swear like half the semester we were talking about everything always came back to these activities of daily living.
And I remember in my head I’m like, dude, who cares? Like, is, this kind of goes back to like when you’re young, it’s just how can I get stronger, bigger, faster? How can I do all these things, right? Leaner, if we’re using your, using your, your titles, but it really kind of comes into play of how truly important those activities of daily living are and, and how those feed more functionally into your life.
Right? So strength training, again, is gonna be more of that global impact across every joint of our body that we’re, we’re training, right? So your ability to things up overhead or lower them out of cabinets, your ability to move about your house, your ability to get up off the couch, your ability to just.
Move in different planes of motion and have the mobility, but also the strength within that mobility to actually function and not get hurt. And all these things right, are reinforced through strength training and resistance training to, whereas, you know, solely just doing aerobic exercise depending on how you’re choosing to do it.
Right. Obviously there’s different, you know, if you’re choosing to sprint then alright, you know, like that’s pretty intense and you’re gonna get a lot of, you’re gonna get a lot of residual benefit from that and crossover benefit from that. But you know, if your modality is like, I hop on the elliptical and I move in the sagittal plane for 90 minutes a week.
Okay, great for your overall cardiovascular health, but. Your ability to hang on, not only build new muscle tissue, but hang onto that muscle tissue you have is going to be a lot lower or very, very minimal. Your ability to hang onto, to strength, which becomes extremely important into your middle-aged and later, later years of life, you’re g not gonna hang onto that, right?
And so, It seems to be that if you had to choose, in my opinion and what I’ve read, again, I, I wanna say it’s a Stuart Phillips, uh, study that they did back in 2020 around, this was around again, the beginning of the, or kind of like midway through 2020 when I think they started writing it as like the pandemic hit.
Cause they were trying to get people trying to kind of come out with some standardized recommendations around if you had to choose, if you only had so much time and you have to choose one strength, training’s gonna be the most effective and efficient modality for improving muscle mass, improving strength, improving the cognitive decline, improving all of these other, these other things, mobility, uh, you name it.
So yeah, I mean, when we’re looking at just soul, if you had to choose, I, I do think resistance training is the best bang for your buck, right? That is to say, I think the ultimate best combination, the most holistic combination of things, and I know in my own experiences of kind of doing all of these things in isolation as separate things in my life and then doing them all together.
I think a more holistic way of viewing it, if you have the time, is going to be some sort of combination between. Resistance training, like strength training, cardiovascular work or cardiovascular training and some, some type of restorative meditative practice that involves like, whether that’s just meditation or, or just my preference would be yoga.
I, I think the combination of all of those things are gonna create the best holistic approach to what you could achieve from a fitness standpoint and just an overall health and wellbeing standpoint. But again, if you had to choose one, I, I think strength training comes out on top. Uh, but they’re still working through some of those mechanisms.
Mike: Yeah. We’ll go back to, I want to ask on yoga, so why that and what type of, uh, yoga, if there is a type that you’re doing, or if you just have found some yoga exercises that you like, can you just do ‘
Austin: em at home? Yeah, I know. Uh, so, you know, my wife is a, is a big yogi. She really loves yoga and, and Pilates and, and those type.
Fitness pursuits or, or health pursuits or exercise modalities. And she, I’d say, she dragged me into my first, I used to do yoga when I, when I was body building. And I, that was really restorative for me. And I think in a large part, just how much you’re in need of a parasympathetic activity, something that is restorative.
It allows you to, to enter that more rest and digest state and. Again, just allow yourself to, to be in a more parasympathetic state versus just this overactive sympathetic, just drive and, and energy coming from, you know, cortisol throughout the day. Just cuz you’re, you’re constantly in a rush and in a hurry, and you’re going from Lyft, you’re going to work, you’re going here.
And yoga, I think fits in from a, you know, an obvious, you know, look, looking at like, mobility and, and having time to sit and stretch. But it’s also just, again, it’s, it’s meditative. It’s, it’s, it’s introspective. It’s something that challenges your mind and body and a, and a just a different way. And so I think in terms of just overall health in general and wellbeing, but also feeling, the best I’ve ever felt was when I was doing a combination between yoga.
And again, like that was like one to two times a week max. Like just having a yoga practice, at least some, some form of it I think is important and some form of cardiovascular. Again, this could be 1, 2, 3 days a week, whatever that is for you. And then some sort of resistance training two to three times per week.
Like I, I think when we hear. You need to go to the gym, you need to resistance strain. We think, okay, we, we first think of the muscle thing or the, you know, I’m not interested in the muscle thing. Why would I do that? And so hopefully our conversation today kind of entices you of, of all the other benefits that come from it that aren’t muscle related.
Right. And helping stave off, you know, neurodegenerative diseases as you age, your loss of independence as you age, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, all these things. Or, or, or maybe that are,
Mike: I mean, these things, some of these things are related to muscle, but it’s not about having big muscles or pretty muscles.
It’s, it’s about these functional, I guess you could say, these other benefits aside from just what you see, which is kind of an interesting perspective. I can, I can see this, I’ve, I’ve been into weightlifting for so long. I think I’ve maybe lost this perspective personally, but they, they associate. Maybe how we would look like.
They don’t really want to look like us because they have ideas of what people think about people who look like us. Like you know the go-to is that, how many times have you heard that? Just meathead. That’s what you are. You’re just a meathead. And same thing with me. I don’t care. I don’t take personal offense.
I get it. People see big biceps and a lot of guys who have big biceps are kind of meatheads who are into this stuff. A lot of guys who are in the gym five days a week training hard, big biceps. They’re kind of meatheads. And so some people are, even, they’re concerned about how other people will see them if they were to get these big muscles.
Not to go off on a tangent, but just kind of, uh, it’s an interesting, I’ve, the psychology of that is kind of interesting to me just because I’m not the person who cares anyway, and I don’t do it to try to look one way or another to other people. But, but anyway, so, so we have some of these things that are related to having muscle.
I, I also wanted to, to. Ask you about may. Maybe people have heard that all cause mortality, so death from many and all causes, there’s an association between that and just how much muscle you have. I know a lot of people that I’ve spoken with are surprised to learn that, that that, oh, like more muscular people who are also stronger, people are literally harder to kill.
Like you are more likely to survive everything that life can throw at you by having those bigger biceps, not literally the biceps, but you know, by having more muscle.
Austin: Yeah. And again, I, I, you know, I don’t have that that pulled out, but it, it is true. I, man, and it’s, it’s something, again, that muscle does relate to that directly, you know, and I think too, it’s not the, I think again, I, I think it’s the, we’ve, we like to put things in boxes and, and categorize things, right?
So it’s, you know, initially, depending on how you’ve were introduced, To strength training, right? A lot of people are introduced via, um, maybe body building culture or now more of like an influencer culture that is typically rooted in, in extremes, and it’s rooted in, you know, okay, I have to go six, you know, five or six days a week for two hours.
You know, I gotta eat a certain way. I gotta X, Y, and Z. Right? And that’s, that’s how they’ve been introduced to the gym, you know, and or resistance training in general or just to, to, to muscular work. And you know, fortunately, And that’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of, even people, let’s say middle-aged
Mike: people who have never done any of this and they’re on social media.
And so what do they do? Like, all right, I think I’m gonna, I’m thinking about doing some strength training. Let me, let me see, like, what does this world look like? What should I do?
Austin: And man, what a cesspool you’re gonna find yourself in, man. And, and I think it’s great overall. Like I, I think it’s really knocked down the, the barrier of entry for people to kind of be, go in a little bit more informed.
And I, I think that’s a really big positive to the social media movement that we’ve had, you know, and how popular fitness has become, especially on social media, you know, it’s up there with the other big hitters like fashion and, and you name it, truly entertaining and inter, you know, people that are interested and entertained by watching fitness content, which is inspire, it’s motivating, you know, that’s a positive thing.
And I, I see. But again, like you’re getting, you’re sort of indoctrinated into this, Way of thinking that, oh, it has to look this way. Right? But instead, if you were introduced in a way of, you know, maybe going with, maybe you’re, you know, let’s say you’re off of social media, you’re not introduced that way, but there’s a local, your, let’s say your one of your parents goes to Lyft and they bring you along.
They go a few days a week. They do kind of this full body split. They’re training hard at a, at a, you know, they have enough training volume, enough training intensity there, um, and they go, they enjoy it, and they reinforce the fact that it makes them feel better and function better in life. It’s kept them away from having to get on, you know, blood pressure medication and cholesterol medication, and all of these things that we see a lot of our parents and grandparents have to get on.
Those are two D, those are two individuals that would have drastically different viewpoints of what’s actually needed for the health benefits of strength training versus the people who are sort of in the extreme camped and overwhelmed by. This reality that they think strength training has to be right.
And body building style training happens to be one of the safest, and that’s backed by the research that we do have. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its own inherent risks, obviously, but it is one of the safest ways to go about getting, obtaining all these benefits that we’re talking about today that are related to all C, all cause mortality and, and diseases and cancers and, you know, diabetes and all these different things, but also helps, you know, put on the muscle that we do need or the muscle that.
We’re trying to maintain in the muscle and strength that we’re trying to maintain, which I think is a large, a lost conversation more so than this constant state of, well, this, this doesn’t help you grow muscle or gain a bunch of strength. And it’s like, yeah, but like, does it, it allows you to maintain it though.
That’s still net positive. Right. And it’s, I think, again, there’s so much marketing, you know, and, and language around, well, it’s pointless if it doesn’t help you grow, gain or something. Right. It’s then it’s a pointless thing to, to try or to do. Or,
Mike: or that it’s just far inferior to this more scientifically optimal thing.
Okay. If your goal is to gain as much muscle and strength as you possibly can, as quickly as you possibly can, then that might be an appropriate criticism. But if that is not your goal, then actually what is, we can remove scientific. What is more optimal is what you’re saying is the routine that somebody can follow.
It takes up a couple hours of their time every week. They generally enjoy it. They generally look forward to their workouts. They feel good after their workouts and on and on and
Austin: on. I think too, I was thinking about this the other day. I, I think a lot of it typically the, the best things for our health are the, the most boring things that we sort of overlook as, as being as important as they are.
Right. So, you know, sleep, trying to manage Cal, you know, having some sort of calorie management tools within your tool belt of daily living, you know, not doing anything in the extremes is fairly boring, right? Like, we want to go from one ex. I think that’s why diet, you know, parts of the diet culture are so popular.
It’s okay. The, the boring stuff that’s actually going to test you more long-term, that’s actually harder to consistently do long-term, which is actually, you know, more of the challenge. So I, to me it means you’re tougher if you’ve, to me, that you’ve sustained this long-term and consistently over time than, okay, I did, you know, I did Atkins back when I was, you know, it’s some 50, 60 year old person telling you about they, they did this intense diet or B one body building show back in the day.
And you look at ’em and they’re in, you know, the worst health you’ve ever seen and you’re like, Okay, but it’s the ex, it’s extreme
Mike: or, or they go from one kind of extreme, let’s say diet to another. And it could also, you have people who follow the same kind of approach. Maybe these are.
Austin: People who are, are Bri,
Mike: like they are fitness fanatics, but they’ll go from one extreme type of training program to another.
And some of that maybe is, is novelty and just the, the emotional stimulation that comes with novelty. And, and I totally agree that I’ve tweeted about this and, and, and put this and put that idea into podcasts and it’s just one of the things that, that resonated with people is this point of a lot of. A lot of what you’re gonna get out of strength training, a lot of what you’re gonna get out of just fitness in general is, is kind of boring it.
And, and the ability to do these boring things over long periods of time actually is what sets the fitness elite apart from, uh, the people who are not so super fit. And yes, you can find exceptions to every rule, but that generally is the rule. The fittest people, even on social media, and maybe they, they might not show this, they might show a workout with all these exotic exercises, a lot of novelty, and they might.
Represent that as like, this is my workout that I did. But in some cases, I mean, I know some people, I wouldn’t say they’re friends, but I know of people who do this. Like they have their Instagram workouts, then they have their actual workouts and they don’t really show their actual workouts. Like they do their, they, they get at least three kind of boring, you know, they might get in their push pull legs and it’s basic exercises, compound heavy weights, blah, blah, blah.
And, and they, they, they don’t change that up much because they’re actually trying to progress on those exercises. And the, that’s not what you see on their social media though. You see the splashy stuff, the, the, again, the exotic, you see the sizzle and, you know, it’s, it’s the, unfortunately the ladder gets a lot more attention than the former.
And so these people, What they say as well. You know, I’m just, I’m giving the market what, what it wants. Basically. Like, Hey, if I post these boring workouts, it doesn’t really get any traction. People don’t really care if I post this weird shit. It gets a lot of traction and people seem to care, so I’m gonna give ’em more weird shit.
And I don’t agree with that. But they’re, they’re, there is a logic to it, I guess you could
Austin: say. There is, man, and, and it’s, again, it, there’s always, uh, exceptions to the rules, right? We were talking about that before we hopped on, right? There’s always an exception. We were talking about it in a different way, but there’s always exceptions to rules.
And again, I, I kind of try to, I try to view all of this a little bit more holistically as I’ve gotten older and how does this play out and, and how does this metaphorically look in, in other parts of life? And that’s typically the healthiest people you come across. The most successful people you come across, you name it, are people that are, that have really.
Hunkered down and, and majored in the boring shit, right? Like they’re super routine. They, that isn’t to say you can’t have spontaneity, you know, spontaneity within your life and have novelty. That’s fantastic. Whatever keeps you in it. But that’s a personality thing and that’s a deeper conversation, probably not for me to have.
But the most boring things done consistently are the things that almost always come out on top. And again, it always come, it kind of goes back to what sells right? And typically, Are more general recommendations that people actually latch onto are the exciting things, right? It, it is the, you know, 4:00 AM wake ups.
It is the, the, you know, 4:00 AM and then a cold shower, ice bath, sauna. Journal million things. Then I get into my day, which if that’s your cup of tea, then send it, man. Like, have a great time and I, hopefully, hopefully it’s productive for you. But it’s, it’s, it’s rare that that’s the thing that’s actually do making you suc successful.
It’s probably not at all. It’s the thing, it’s the fact that you showed up to work and you did the things you didn’t necessarily always wanted to do. You did it consistently. Day in, day out, month in, month out, year in, year out. You did that in your professional life. You did it in your personal life, and you did that in your physical life from a, from a physical activity standpoint.
Just hopefully what people can take from this, this conversation is one of the most important things about all of this is finding what works for you and understanding. What you see as, you know, potentially the, the barrier of entry being super high and difficult, it’s just not the truth. And taking the conversations around like exercise snacks, which are, you know, which has been a, you know, talked about pretty widely, which is great, which is, you know, we can gain a lot of benefit from these short bursts of, of exercise these 5, 10, 15.
Little bursts of exercise,
Mike: people listening, you can do that. You don’t have to be at a gym because now we’re talking about just, uh, there are plenty of body weight things you can do if you’re gonna do a quick, let’s say it’s a 10 minute body weight workout, and even if you’re pretty fit, you can find some progressions of different body weight exercises that are actually kind of difficult.
Now, are you going to get, uh, if you’re fit, are you going to gain a lot of, or let’s just, let’s just say, are you gonna gain any additional muscle and strength by doing, if you could only do body weight stuff, probably not, but could you maintain your muscle? Yes. Could you maintain a lot of your strength?
Probably. Especially if you could add some bands, which again, inexpensive, you can have them just in your house Anyway, so go ahead. I just wanted to jump in and, cause this is a good point that, uh, is very practical that, that people who don’t want to go to the gym or can’t get to a gym, sometimes getting to a gym means driving at least an hour for, for people and.
That hour, that’s all they actually have to give to, to a workout. So how are they supposed to do
Austin: it? Exactly. And it’s, for me, and again, the older I’ve gotten, and I know a lot of, you know, the content I put out is, you know, I’m in the gym, I’m training, I’m, I’m educating, I’m teaching people how to do certain exercises and whatever, but I, I don’t want that to overshadow the importance of just getting in and doing something.
Right. And, and don’t, don’t be, try not to be overwhelmed by this, this need for extreme, right. This need for, like, I be, if I’m gonna this black or white thinking, right. It’s just the all or nothing mentality. Right? Yeah. It’s really easy to fall into. And again, it’s, it’s the novelty, it’s the sexiness, it’s the appeal, what that is and, and how it sounds even to other people.
Right. So, If you’re, you know, if that’s something that drives you externally or extrinsically to make these big changes or, you know, do these extreme things more ex for more extrinsic value. You know, things, how other people’s are, are viewing what you’re doing. And I think novelty becomes a little bit more important.
But as soon as you kind of bring things intrinsic and how. Actually value how you actually value that thing and actually how it’s repaying your life internally, which reflects externally. Then I think simple pers change in or shift in perspective, I think really starts to, to have a positive effect towards this.
Again, this reinforcement of this low barrier of entry, you truly need to have, you know, again, like you can talk about it from a training perspective, but you can also talk about it nutritionally, right? You know? Okay. Start to add in more of the good
Mike: or, or, okay, why don’t we swap the, the soda for diet soda?
It’s not gonna give you cancer, it’s not gonna kill you. Uh, would it be better if you didn’t have any? Maybe you might be able to make that argument. It might not matter. But if you’re currently drinking hundreds of calories of sugary beverages every day, can we replace that with sweet beverages that are now zero calories?
Austin: Great. That’s a win. Huge win. Huge win. And you getting, you going from a thousand steps a day to 4,000 steps a day, massive win. You going from zero training sessions a week to 60 minutes a week, which, you know, maybe split up into two sessions or three sessions even. Huge win. Right? And I, you know, I know this may not, again, sounds sexy or the people who are, you know, typically listen to, to Mike’s podcast to learn about the new and novel ways to, to build as much muscle as possible.
But I think this is an important conversation. You know, even if it’s not directly important to you right now, it will be in the future. I promise you. Aging is inescapable at this point. So we’re all aging every day, every moment of the day. And it’s up to you to really kind of put the work in throughout your life and.
Try to stave that off the best you can and keep yourself in the game, um, as long as you can, a, as best as you can, right? And again, although this may not be sexy information now, it’s going to become a lot sexier as you age, right? I mean, hell even having hair. In your older eight years is a sexy attribute, right?
Imagine being in shape, right? So, you know, use that as motivation if you want, you know, just be a, be a sexy el uh, elderly person walking around. But again, it’s a message to, to put out into the world. And I, I think it’s an important one that, again, as we get lost in the extremes, too often we think it’s that it’s this all or nothing thing.
It’s this, it’s this light switch, right? And like, I, I learned the, the fitness dial thing from like, I think Eric Helms originally, I heard, originally heard it from Eric Hels back in the day. But instead of thinking about things as like this light switch, think about it as like a, a dimmer switch, a dial, right?
Where you’re at different times of your life, you’re turning it up and down and you know, if you’re in a stressful period or you’re, you’re in a period of time where maybe you haven’t ever worked out or you haven’t ever, you haven’t been in the gym for a long time. In your dials ex on extremely lower the, the light’s off.
Turn that dial just a tad bit. Start small. Start with something that’s achievable. Start with something that you know, you’re gonna try to, you’re gonna have some enjoyment in and you can create a routine around. And
Mike: that’s a, that’s a zero to one change to use Peter Teal’s analogy, because you went from darkness, you can’t see anything to, oh, you actually can start seeing like, it’s not, it’s not well illuminated.
You can’t see the details. Right. But you’re starting to see, you went from seeing nothing at all to like, oh, I can see, like, that’s significant.
Austin: So I think the best representation of this is just imagine, you know, so I, I always turn the brightness down on my TVs at my house, cuz they’re always extremely just way too high.
Like, why is my TV so bright? Especially like when it’s not bright outside. And so you, you know, turning your TV down to like zero brightness renders your TV fairly useless, like it turns into. A glorified radio, but as soon as you go from zero to one on your TV’s brightness, now all of a sudden you see the picture.
You see things start to become, it, start to illuminate and become in higher definition, the brighter and brighter and brighter you get. Um, which makes the viewing experience a lot more, uh, pleasurable. Right? And, and it creates this, this vibrance to what, I mean, it
Mike: adds a whole new dimension, really right.
To the, to the experience.
Austin: Yeah. So I think, again, it’s a great metaphor for, again, going just from zero to one and, and starting small and, and creating really achievable routines for yourself. Right. And I, I think, you know, James Clear always talks about this type of stuff as it relates to habits and stuff, and I, he even talks about his exercise habits a lot, which I, I think is great.
And he typically puts these types of spin, these spins on it. And I, I think it’s really, really important and it’s an important conversation to have just to not be overwhelmed by what you think you should be doing. But just try to do the thing that you know you can do now and again, think about things more as a dial, more so than a switch that you can turn up and down rather than being kind of in this all or nothing mindset.
Mike: people watching, unfortunately, Austin’s camera. Just, uh, it’s actually kind of funny when we were talking about, okay, so we’re at zero now. We’re down to brightness, uh, zero for the rest of the interview. Fortunately, we’re, we’re wrapping up, so it’s not a big deal. But anyway, to, to quickly just jump in with what might be a, a cliche, but it’s, I think, relevant, the 80 20 rule that I’m sure everybody has heard of, if we apply that to exercise and health, I think it is more accurate rather than inaccurate to say that if we were to look at our total ability to train, to, to, to push our body, I think of maybe a, a, a professional athlete is that like they try to, they try to get to a hundred.
We, we can go from zero to 100 here and they try to run themselves, uh, as close to 100 as they can because that’s what it takes to compete at that level. So if we can exert ourselves, let’s say just 20% of what would be a hundred percent for us, if we. Had to, if in another life we were a professional athlete and we were training, you know, like some of these, some of these guys and gals are training hours and hours and hours every day, blah, blah, blah.
So if we’re just doing 20% of what we could do, what would be our hundred percent, maybe even in our current capacity, we can enjoy, let’s just say maybe up to 80%. We can enjoy many, many, many of the health benefits. Uh, that of all the possible health benefits that we could enjoy from exercise, maybe even most of them, we can actually enjoy with just 20% of our, uh, capacity for, for effort.
Austin: agree with that? I would, and I think there’s actually, uh, some research to support this. Um, I can’t recall the exact study. Um, I think there is actually research to support this, especially as it relates to, uh, strength training and, and resistance training. So, you know, we know our, our first few sets are the most stimulating sets, and I think they did a, a study where they compared doing one set basically to failure or within a, a rep of failure versus, you know, three sets of a different r p e or r a r further,
Mike: further from failure for people like you are
Austin: wondering what that means, but further away from failure versus clo closer to failure, easier sets versus, so, but there was a lot of, basically there was sort of with that, I don’t, I don’t remember the exact percentage, but it was something like the person who did the, that first set basically achieved a 80% of what the total benefit ended up being of that.
Total set exercise, set of exercise, whatever. I, I think
Mike: I know which research you’re talking about. I, I couldn’t give the title or details, but I’m having deja vu of reading something that, and it kind of stuck in my mind as that’s an interesting piece of information.
Austin: It is. And also like, where does that ultimately put us in terms of the usefulness of, again, what’s the, the lowest barrier of entry for us, um, when it comes to training.
And so, you know, if you can get into the gym twice per week and train each muscle group with one movement, you know, with one to two sets that are close enough to failure, like you’re gonna probably reap 80% of the reward that you’re ultimately going to, to get if you were in there doing, you know, an hour long workout or you know, this more of a body building style.
Mike: that’s a great tip. That really is. Cause it’s very counterintuitive. People who are new to this, I’m sure if they’re listening, they’re surprised to hear that. Cause one hard set, let’s say it’s 30 minutes of training, doing a few different exercises, maybe two hard sets, full body split. And you do that just a couple of times per week.
And, uh, people who are new to this might, they just might have a hard time believing like, that’s actually gonna do something really like Yes, it will.
Austin: Really, yeah, it really will. And it’s gonna, so think about this too. I, I think this is a helpful way to think about, um, from a, from a practical standpoint.
And this is something that, like clients that I work with that just don’t have a ton of time to, to dedicate to this. The, the shorter amount of time you have, the more intensity you need to try and have towards the thing you’re doing. Right. So the closer to hitting quote unquote failure becomes more important.
The less work, your total work you’re doing, right? So what, what more work or more volume of work allows us to do is just train that work at a lower relative intensity and further away from failure. That essentially is what more work extended out at a lower intensity allows us to do, is it allows us to achieve the same stimulatory benefits as the shorter amount at a higher intensity.
And that’s just, that’s
Mike: just a good, good thing to understand for training programming in general.
Austin: Yes, exactly. And that’s why there is, again, these relationships that we, we. Have within programming and, and you would recognize if you saw it in your programming of why things are certain ways. But it’s a very helpful tool to use of, okay, I only have, okay, I only have 10 minutes.
You know, and like with Mike there, like, if Mike only has 10 minutes today to do something, what would he do? Would he go on a 10 minute walk? Okay, that’s, that’s good. If we had a good, better, best, it’s okay. Would he go on a 10 minute walk? That’s the good, the better would be some sort of slightly more intense, maybe it’s a 10 minute jog, or Mike goes on a, basically like does 10 minutes of like, as much sprint that he can do on the bike that’s behind him.
You know, like a 10 minute high, really high intensity all out 10 minutes. That’s the best version of what that is. Right. But if also, but in, in this situation, if Mike had 30 minutes, Then he could reap the reward. He’s getting probably outta that 10 minutes in that 30 by doing at a lower intensity. So you wouldn’t have to go as all out and you could go a little bit less and still get a, a good benefit from that.
But with less time, we need more intensity with more time. You can afford to have less intensity. And I think that’s, that’s, people sort of intuitively do that at the gym anyways, you know? Cuz when you have people that do two hour workouts. Yeah,
Mike: exactly. I was gonna say, you see these two hour workouts and if you watch, like, and you were, you were to assign a reps in reserve to a lot of their sets, you would be like, I mean, who knows the bar.
It never even, it was moving so fast. I can’t, I don’t know, five. Like it looked easy. Like they just stopped. They didn’t even slow down one bit. It was hard to discern rep one from rep eight,
Austin: you. Yeah. So, you know, you could do 10 sets at a five r p e or you could do three sets at a eight or nine. You’re probably doing the same amount of stimulating work.
Right. And this kind of goes back to like effective reps and all of that stuff. But, um, yeah, the, it’s the ultimate goal of that part of the conversation essentially is the less time you have, try and come with more intensity, um, to reap the same benefit. But also, you know, if you can only do one set of something, take it as close to failure as you can within safety, you know, being safe and, and working within your, your, uh, your ability to, to safely perform those movements, right?
Mike: Yeah. For some people that might be a, they still have a couple good rep reps left. It might be three. And with a more experienced weightlifter, that might be a one,
Austin: right. And it, and again, it kind of comes down to the exercises you’re choosing too. Right? So if you know, you only have, okay. How can I knock out one hard set where I’m training, you know, my quads and my glutes safely and I only got one set.
I may choose something like the leg press over a back squad, cuz I can safely take the leg, press closer to failure than I can in the back squad. So in terms of a productive one, movement for my quads and glutes for that day, if I only have 20 minutes to train, that’s gonna be more productive and conducive towards what I’m trying to achieve.
Or in my
Mike: gym, they have a pendulum squat, which is cool. This is the first gym and I would prefer that even over a leg press cuz I have to say. I, I’m willing to push hard on the leg press, but I, I still like to leave one or two still. Like, I, I don’t like to reach a grinder on the leg press cause it’s kind of uncomfortable in your back and the position it’s in.
It’s just, it, it, uh, concerns me a little bit. So, uh, that pendulum squat though, I mean, if you wanted, you could go right to failure and if you have any skill at any of this, you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna get hurt. You’re just not because of the, the motion. Yeah. You, you can get stuck, but I have no concerns if I want to push a set to like, all right, I’m gonna make this one real hard.
I’m not gonna go to failure, but I’m gonna, I’m willing to grind out that final rep. And as I’ve gotten older, I’m much less willing to do that on certainly a lot of free weight exercises on a deadlift. I’m not willing to do any grinders. Um, I just, See the reason, given my circumstances and what my goals are, uh, a back squat, any, any kind of squat, even a leg press and so forth.
Austin: yeah. Um, but yeah, main point there is it’s, don’t overthink it. Um, start with the lowest barrier of entry, you know, especially if you’re someone who just only has 20 minutes, three times a week. You know, maybe that’s, maybe that’s some kettle bell’s, resistance bands and dove bells at your house. Maybe that’s, you know, you, you really enjoy the gym, but you only, you only got 20 minutes, you know, three times a week.
Try and go in understanding that. That shouldn’t be the workout where you have, you know, 92nd, 120 second rest periods either like move through, be effective and efficient with your time and train close to failure for that 20 minutes. And ultimately you’re gonna be in a really good position to reap all of the health benefits that we’re talking about here today that are outside of maximizing muscle gain.
Right. Because I think also in our conversation around optimal training, we often only talk about optimal insofar as it as it relates to muscle specifically. Right? And again, like for 90% of the people on this earth, they, they don’t need to grow the optimal amount of muscle mass as much as they need.
Optimize the workout that’s going to actually aid towards a health benefit moving into the future versus optimizing their, their muscle accretion over ti you know, a six month period or 12 month period or something like that. Right. Important difference.
Mike: Yeah, totally agree. And I think, um, hopefully we have made that point sufficiently.
I think we have and, and given, and given and given people some good practical takeaways. And so I think with that we can just, uh, wrap it up unless there’s anything else that you wanted to add, something that I haven’t asked or that’s just kind of bouncing around on your head. Um,
Austin: no, nothing at all. I, I think that that was a, a good start to a conversation around the, the benefits of, of strength training and, and physical activity that are kind of non aesthetically based.
And, uh, that’s, you know, a goal that I have to put. Put more of that out into the world when the main conversation typically is around how much muscle can we gain rather than how much benefit can we, yeah. How shredded and lean and, you know, magazine, you know, uh, front page of the magazine model. Can we look, it’s okay.
There’s a certain age. I think you start to get to that. You’re sort of, okay, that’s less important to me now than having energy, having a cognitive ability, having the opportunity to, to be physically able to, to play with my kids or, and still looking good.
Mike: There’s, I mean, I think, I think it’s important to start to condition ourselves psychologically when we’re a bit younger, because let’s face it, as we get older, We look worse.
I mean, I’ve, I’m, I’ll speak to myself like, and, and that applies to
Austin: everything that we care
Mike: about when we look in the mirror. Unfortunately, it all just tends to look a bit worse as we get older. Now, if we talk about our physique, can we have a great physique as we get older? Yes. As a rule though, if you look at a 55 year old fit guy or fit gal, uh, so, so if you compare that same person to, let’s say they’ve been fit their entire life, you compare ’em at 25, they can still be in great shape relative to, to their ages.
But, um, their physique looked better at 25. It’s just everything just seemed to look a bit better. Sometimes it’s not even exactly clear why they now, they just look older and it looks worse, period. Right. And so can you find outliers? Yeah. There are some people who still look ridiculous, uh, in their fifties and sixties, great genetics and whatever, but for most of us, we have to accept that while we can always look great and feel great, uh, for our age, for our age is a part of the equation.
And so, uh, it’s just something that’s something I’ve thought about. Uh, and, and, and I, I, I found it just kind of useful for myself as a reminder that, um, looking great at 25 is different than looking great at 55. And so I think the more that. We can, especially as we get older, continue to look very good for our age, look fit and have a great physique.
Uh, but, but again, keeping in mind that it’s not going to always be the same. We are not always going to look as shredded and jacked and awesome as we did when we were in our twenties. And now we have all of these other things though, that we care about. And, uh, it’s a lot of the things we’ve discussed in this podcast that we can purposely put more importance on than when we were younger, because we just wanted to have ab veins and we didn’t really care about our, you know, cardiovascular health in our twenties.
We just wanted to look awesome, look like a superhero or whatever.
Austin: Right. And I, again, that’s, that’s a management of expectations and we have to have that throughout our life in every area of our life. Right. You can’t, you gotta manage expectations appropriately. Right. If, yeah. That’s an important, that’s an important point to, to end on, but I, yeah, I don’t have anything else to share.
I, I appreciate you having me back on. To talk about this. I, I think it’s really important. Um, and I know as I get older, which is, you know, funny to say, but I mean, as, as I age I, these, these things become more important. And, and more importantly, as my parents age and my grandparents age and seeing all the loved ones in my, around me, you know, who I see, you know, every week or every month or whatever, it’s, it’s very important that we sort of try and lower the barrier of entry.
And that’s, that was a hopeful part. The way I chose to write my book was trying to write it in a way that it, it did sort of reduce the friction of entry, it reduced the barrier of entry for someone to go from either I’ve never been in the gym or I, I haven’t been in the gym in a long time. It really intimidates me to, I can try and look at this resource and, and say, oh, now I’m a little bit more informed.
I understand how things should, should kind of look and I can go in with a plan. You know, so I, I ki I can kind of fit in a little bit more and not look as lost or feel as lost when I, when I step foot into the gym, either for the first time or the first time in a really long time. So, I do appreciate you having me back on, man.
Mike: And, and why don’t we just tell people where they can find you and find your work. You mentioned your book once or twice, but uh, let’s just mention it one more time if they wanna
Austin: check it out. Yeah. So Amazon is the easiest place to find the book. That’s Science of Strength Training. It’s a yellow cover.
That’s enough information there. You’ll find it. Yep. A
Mike: lot of great information. A lot of great visuals. So yeah, if people like, if, if they’re familiar, we were talking about this poorly, we recorded Frederick Del or however you pronounce his name. If, if anybody is familiar with his work and like that, I think you really like Austin’s cuz it’s, it’s similar and it’s very visual, but there’s different information in the book and it’s a different type of visual.
It’s cool. It was well done.
Austin: Thank you, I appreciate that. And yeah, the, I owe a ton to the illustrators, uh, on that and, and the editors and stuff like that as well. But yeah, Instagram is probably the easiest place to find me. And that’s just Austin current, just my name. If you just search Austin, I’m the bearded guy you usually populates.
So check that out. And you can usually find, that’s sort of the central hub for all the information. So if you wanna follow that. And then the book actually has its own Instagram as well. Um, if you search science of strength training on Instagram, if you’re just kind of interested in this information, that Instagram can actually help.
I break things down that are in the book, and then I actually expand on topics that are a little further than I was able to in the book. So it’s kind of just a cool resource if you’re interested in the, in the science behind this stuff or, or getting into it. So.
Mike: Awesome. Well, uh, thanks again for taking your time, Austin.
I really appreciate it. And, uh, this was a great discussion and I’m sure we can think of another one. Maybe when this one comes out, we’ll brainstorm what part three could be about. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes.
And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have, uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com, and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.