In this podcast, I chat with Austin Current all about the science of strength training.
Austin recently released a book called the Science of Strength Training, which is a visual encyclopedia and comprehensive resource that dives into the nitty gritty details of resistance training. Specifically, it covers physiology, anatomy, how muscles work, exercise selection, and much more.
Austin’s book will help anyone understand what happens in our bodies as a result of strength training and why it’s so beneficial. And the book is visually captivating to boot!
In our chat, we talk about the main drivers of muscle growth (including mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress), sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy, workout programming, the importance of deloads, and cardiovascular fitness. And we only scratch the surface of what’s in Austin’s book.
If you’re not familiar with Austin, not only is he an educator and author, but he’s a coach and co-founder of Physique Development, a coaching collective that works with everyday fitness folks and competitors alike.
Not only has Austin had a successful competitive career as a natural physique bodybuilder, but I was impressed by his ability to break down complex topics into actionable information that anyone can use, which is why I wanted to get him on the podcast.
So if you want to learn about the physiology of muscle growth and how we can use science to tweak our workout programming, check out this interview!
Lastly, if you want to support the show, please drop a quick review of it over on iTunes. It really helps!
32:21 – What are the mechanics of muscle growth?
32:43 – What are the three stimuli that contribute to muscle growth?
34:29 – What is the hormonal cascade that occurs from resistance training?
41:05 – What is muscle damage and how much does it contribute to muscle growth?
47:02 – Should you try to maximize muscle damage in your training?
53:18 – What are the signs you’re creating enough muscle damage?
1:02:23 – Should you incorporate deloads?
1:08:44 – What is metabolic stress or metabolic fatigue?
1:11:54 – Are styles of training that prioritize metabolic stress useful?
1:23:44 – The importance of cardiovascular fitness and the aerobic system.
Mentioned on the Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hey, Austin. Thanks for making the time to come. Teach me about getting
Austin: Jack the art and science. Absolutely. My pleasure, man. Yeah, I think it’s gonna be
Mike: a great one. This is like maybe my fifth video interview too. I like this. I was doing just audio for a while and I’ve posted audio tracks to YouTube for a while, which of course is not how you do YouTube.
That’s actually the worst way to do YouTube so much so that most people would say don’t even bother. Like you’re actually probably just you’re tainting your account to where if you ever get around to doing YouTube correctly, all of the metrics are gonna look so bad that YouTube will never give you a single eyeball, but ironically, just posting.
My account has continued to grow on YouTube. So I guess I’m doing something right, but I figured, you know, I’m doing these interviews. I should make them YouTube friendly and get on
Austin: camera. Right? I think so you’re an internet guy too. I, you know, I think you should play by the rules. I don’t think anyone knows really what the rules are.
And I think we’re all just stabbing at it, but I would say that YouTube being a visual platform let’s go with visual
Mike: probably should have some visual stimulation. Probably. I actually do want to get around to doing YouTube better correctly. And that’ll probably be later in the year because it’s gonna require I’m gonna need a good videographer, I guess, would be the term.
And I’m gonna need a good editor. Maybe it’s the same person. Maybe not. It kind of, those are different skills entirely, but I would like to cuz I produce a lot of educational material and it wouldn’t be that much more work for me to repurpose that into YouTube friendly. Presentations with good editing and me on camera explaining things.
I don’t spend much time on YouTube and I generally don’t like social media, but if I can use it, like I couldn’t motivate myself to wanna vlog. For example, I just couldn’t do it. It’s just, yeah, I’m not a vlog. It’s not me. And also my, if I’m gonna honestly vlog. It’s not gonna be very exciting. It’s gonna be the same exact thing every day.
And it’s gonna be me sitting in my infrared sauna, reading me, working out me, working at my computer all day, me eating food, me taking bathroom breaks, me, taking water, breaks, me, reading and me going to bed. And then maybe some stuff that I couldn’t show with my wife and maybe a little bit of time with my kids.
And that’s it like rinse and repeat. It’s not a very
Austin: exciting vlog, you know? Right, right. Dude. I remember one of my favorite log series was actually Mike FTIs few years back. He did in like 20, I think 2017 or so a guy like VTIs a super regimented guy. Right. You know, you, you know, my super regimented guy and honestly, man, I enjoyed that part of it.
Cause it’s like, I don’t know, man. I enjoyed that part of that. Well, probably
Mike: resonated cause you’re probably similar. So
Austin: you’re like, oh, similar. Here’s someone I see my life as like yourself, just super, just regimented boring and. It’s funny, man. We all kind of tra like when you first start, you kind of try to take on personas, right?
Yeah. And you’re trying to fake it till you make it early on before you realize that’s not quite the best way to do it when there’s other options available. Right. So if you have the lever to pull that is, you know, intellectual property or understanding things a little bit better than others, that way you can explain it back to them in a way that helps you understand it.
Right. Which is a lot of education, you know, I didn’t know that was a lever to pull at the time and I didn’t necessarily have that intellectual property yet. So I was trying to fake it. So I made it, so I kind of like purposely left out some old YouTube videos and they are horrendous to go back and watch cuz like it’s like that terrible YouTube voice, you know, you’re trying to, what’s up YouTube.
You try to have a personality and it’s like, now if you, now, if you watch my Instagram story, I’m as enthusiastic as I am right now. You know, it’s just eh, all right, there’s a podcast, go listen. You know, that’s like, that’s all you’re gonna get from me. But usually, honestly, man, if you see my story or meet me in her life, there’s not much discrepancy past like, oh, you’re actually like this, you know?
It’s like, yeah, I’ve actually like this.
Mike: Yeah. I get the same, ironically. I don’t get. Many people, you know, coming up to me I’m not a celebrity.
Austin: Oh shit, shit, man. I’m not a celebrity. I’m not gonna say that.
Mike: so I don’t, it doesn’t happen often, but does happen here and there, ironically, it happened today and people are usually pleased to see that I’m the same person in person as I am in my podcast or, you know, just my persona quote, unquote, the only difference, the only things that I hold back are I have a bit of a wacky kind of twisted internet sense of humor.
So there are some off color jokes that I might make with my friends that I’m just not gonna make publicly because some people will take it the wrong way. And so I do hold some of that back, although not all of it, I just do it with tact. Whereas again, if I’m hanging out with my brother-in-law, who was my best friend before my brother-in-law, I’ve known him since.
16, it’s gonna be different. There are things that, you know, he understands certain types of interactions and jokes and things that if somebody were to just meet me, they’d be like, wait,
Austin: what did he just say? Like, , there’s a sort of like a, an understood preface to the conversation. Right. And I think that’s missed in mass media.
And honestly, man I think that’s something that, you know, I enjoy to keep separate. I think there’s a place where not everything should be on the internet. Not everything should be on social media. And there’s so many intimate parts of yourself and your personality that. Should only be experienced sort of in real life, right.
That you’re missing the nuance to that.
Mike: And it may take context. Yeah. It may take time. Like even, you know, a rule that I try to live by is to try to treat people the way that they would like to be treated and to try not to do things that they can’t comfortably experience. Sometimes it’s appropriate actually to transgress against that rule.
But I think more often than not, that’s a good way to behave and it makes people feel better for having interacted with you rather than worse. And so to that point, there certainly are things that. If I were to just make an offhand remark that I may make to somebody who knows me well, that may not create a good reaction in somebody who doesn’t know me well.
And so I’ll save that stuff again for the people who can experience it comfortably. You know what I mean? And I know I’m making this sound mysterious and extreme, not at all, but in today’s environment, particularly. I mean, there are a lot, there are some people who are very sensitive about a lot of things and I’m not a sensitive person.
I do think I can say, I’m not a hypocrite. Like I am not easily offended. And so I may say some offensive things sometimes, but I can take it too. Like people can come to me and they could really say, Hey Mike, I think you’re an idiot. and let me explain why. And my instinctive response would not be to jump to my own defense actually.
It’d be like, yeah, like, please tell me what I gotta hear this. Yeah. I gotta hear this. This sounds interesting. Right? I think that it’s important. If you’re going to give it, you gotta be able to take it
Austin: as well. It’s just to, to expand on that. It’s especially on social media, like be the reason that someone has a better day than they, they were having before, right?
It like, there’s just no reason with how much is, you know, us all drinking from a fire hose every day. I don’t wanna be that water droplet. That was the catalyst to have you having a worse off day. Cause I, I don’t need to be that in your life. Like I’m not here to do that. That’s not my goal in real life, but especially not on social media, especially when it’s like, I just wanna teach you about some stuff.
You may be confused on that’s about where I’m gonna leave. On social media, you know, like, yeah, same. I’m a pretty private
Mike: guy. I, again, I don’t personally like social media. I don’t use it outside of my work functions, which is again, sharing educational sometimes trying would be inspirational, maybe trying to be inspirational stuff.
At least that stuff that is interesting to me, at least, and then answering DMS and answering people’s questions. And I think that is not maybe the best way to build a big following. There are certainly cuz if you’re gonna just go after getting followers, then you want to do things that are extreme, that are different, that are contrarian.
You want to stir the pot, cuz that creates emotional responses in people. And then that leads to more sharing and that leads to so that’s that game. So the game I’m playing isn’t as good for exponentially growing my following, but I would say one, it’s more in line with my ideals and my values. And two, at least I am attracting people for the right reasons than I’m attracting people who do appreciate.
Learning and they are there to get motivated, to train harder and better and learn how to train harder and better. And so I’d say that I’d rather have a smaller number of those people than a larger number of people who could care less really about that stuff and are just there with the popcorn,
Austin: Waiting for the fires.
Yeah. The arm care quarterbacks. Yeah. It’s interesting to me, right. I’d love to hear your thought on this really quick, but I would almost argue cause I have the same approach just in general. And I would go to argue that if you have products to sell or you have a message to sort of get out there or education to be sort of told, I would argue that’s a better game plan going into your season, right?
Your season on social media, cuz the type of people you’re going to attract in that those individuals have adjacent qualities that are going to. Really help your message get out there more, right? Cause they’re gonna be a better conversationalist and asking better questions most on average, they’re gonna be less probably sensitive to just calling you out on like, Hey, why is that stupid keyboard in your background?
Like I hate keyboards and it’s like, dude, what are you talking about? What kind of common is that? Like, I’m talking about muscles. Like, you know, there’s those people on YouTube and in social media, right? And those are gonna be the people that, you know, like you were saying. And I share that those people are gonna be the ones I think who are going to give you a better quality word of mouth, which as a business owner and one of the very, very successful businesses, I think you understand that aspect of word of mouth and how important that is.
Would you rather have, you know, the first camp, which I’d say you and I are both in ESP, you know, which you explained talking about your Allegion supplements, or would you rather have the second crowd talk about Legion? Right? It’s definitely the first one. It may be less of them, but let’s say a hundred thousand people talk to their four or five closest friends about it in a high quality manner versus, you know, a half a million people who talk about it negatively, or don’t talk about it at all, because it’s their kept secret on the internet.
And that’s how they view life as like the scarcity. I have it, you can’t have it sort of mindset. Right. And so I’d be interested sort of like where is the value? Right? Cause sometimes things sort of work against our. Our initial intuition of like, it should work this way, but actually, if you really think about the underlying mechanisms of how that would spread positively, it could actually benefit us to be the first one a little bit.
Right. And I may be wrong on that. That’s just kind of how I think about it. I just think that. That accelerates maybe slower over time in a more linear way. But I think the growth over time, if you looked at it on a graph of like positive impact plus growth, that’s I think that’s a way better way to go about it in my opinion.
Mike: Yeah. I agree. I agree for talking about extremes, like kind of just looking at it in binary terms. Yeah. But to your last point there, I do think that the best approach is probably a bit of both. Sure. And I would say instead of just kind of grossly playing to the gallery, incorporating some entertainment, value, incorporating some humor.
Like I try to do that in my captions and show a bit of my personality and sometimes it hits the mark. Sometimes
Austin: it doesn’t, sometimes it’s a dad joke, but it’s fine. Yeah.
Mike: Yeah. Whatever, you know, I try though I try, but I would say more often than not, it adds to the appeal than it detracts from it. And so if I were to put.
More time into social media. It would be doing more of that kind of stuff. It’d be figuring out how to take the educational core here and then kind of envelope it in a nice tasty, funny, or entertaining presentation. Yeah. And that would do even better. And again, I’ve seen it. I’ve done it enough now over the years, some of those, cause I also use them as emails yeah.
In other communications, even podcasts sometimes. So I get a fair amount of feedback on things. And when it strikes a chord, it does really well. I mean, people will, I’ll get a lot of replies to the emails. People saying how they love them and they send them around. You’re not gonna get that from just sharing boring, bland, vanilla, Hey, here’s how you do this.
Here’s how you do that. Well, you’re not gonna get as much of that. Like if you have good clear information and that’s something. Tried to produce. That’s really, my focus is just to try to make things as simple, to understand and as practical as possible. I’m not trying to write to above my head. I’m not trying to appeal just to like scientists and the inte of the space, not at all, I’m doing the opposite.
And so that appeals to a lot of people because often experts, people who do actually know things and can help you. They have a hard time communicating in a way that everyday layman can understand. I mean, they have a hard time just explaining. Mechanics in simple terms, like, okay, you have to explain how this stuff works, but you can’t rely on jargon.
Let’s just start there. And any kind of terms of art, any technical terms you have to define, like you would have to actually, if you’re, if you have to use a technical term or you think just adds a little bit of flavor, then you do have to define it. You have to tell people what it is. You can’t think that they’re gonna go off and Google and read Wikipedia article to understand even something like what I wanna talk to you today about mechanical tension.
Like you can’t just throw that out there and assume that people know what that is. And so, yeah, I think that again, sharing good, clear, practical information that people can immediately put to use and get results with. That’s the core of the value of, I think both of our personal brands that certainly has been mine since the beginning.
More recently, I’ve done a little bit of it in the past, but more recently it has become clear to me that if I can inject more personality and humor in particular humor, writing is tough. It’s something that doesn’t come easily to me. Like I do have to kind of get into a certain mind space and look at different swipe.
And it, it doesn’t just flow because it’s new to me. But if I could get good at that, at least let’s say approximately as good. And I think I’m pretty good. I don’t think I’m great, honestly, by my standards. I’m pretty good at explaining how to stuff. If I could get pretty good at humor. That would take, I think my personal brand to the next level, because we all just love.
If something makes us laugh, we are much more likely to share
Austin: it. We just are. Yeah. And that’s something like Neil Degrass, Tyson, I’ve heard him say many times is people learn better when they’re laughing or smiling. Right. And I take that home and he’s someone I really respect. You’re someone I really respect you do a great job man, and making things simple.
There’s a reason your book sells so well and are shared so vastly across the world it’s that people can finally understand it for the way that it meant was meant to be understood by the 99% of people, which is, you know, when we talk about more about the book and muscle growth and stuff, that was really, my mission is like the 1% is pretty much taken care of here.
I’m not necessarily talking
Mike: to. Yeah, let’s segue right into that. So into what we actually wanna talk about. Yeah. Let’s actually, that was a good pre all good warmup, but yeah, if you wanna mention quickly, so your book, the title, and then let’s talk about muscle growth. Let’s talk about the mechanics of muscle growth, the pathways, if you will.
And if you wanna break down what they are and kind of what the latest, I would say maybe weight of the evidence is on how important each of these are. And then I’ll probably follow up with some questions in terms of maybe what does this mean in
Austin: programming and so forth? Absolutely. So the book I did actually have it prepared.
So science of strength, training, what is the subtitle, understand the anatomy of physiology to transform your body? It looks great. High quality presentation. Oh, thank you. Yeah. I was really such an opportunity to do it and the illustrators were so, so talented in general and so great to work with. And this book was one of those books where.
Obviously all this is in my head and it sort of needed to get out, but the, this book would never existed. Never would have existed without the publisher and their resources. It’s one of those books where it’s like, if I had to self-publish this never would’ve happened.
Mike: so a lot of work went into that was very clear when I looked at it and a lot of work that goes without saying, if you’re gonna write a halfway decent book, but then some books take longer than others.
Yeah. There’s some books require more man
Austin: hours than others. Yeah. And this one, honestly, most of the man hours went into like chapter two, where is over a hundred exercises, sort of laid out their anatomy, used cues, technique execution cues and stuff like that are all written out for you. And then stage by stage how to perform it and all that stuff like that section, that chapter two took the longest by far just the back and forth with everybody involved, you know, a 10 person team, you know, spanned across the world at, you know, during a pandemic.
It was like, I guess we’ll
Mike: see if this happens. I understand firsthand. I just wrapped up I’m at the end of this muscle for life book, I’m doing assignment and Schuster 40 plus men and women, very newly friendly. And the chapter that has all the exercises and has instructions. I was surprised, and it’s not as in detail as yours.
And that was by design. Not that I knew about your book, but again, this is. This book is specifically gonna be for people who, so it has a beginner, intermediate and advanced program. So the beginner program is really for like, take a 55 or 65 year old man or woman who has never done any of this stuff before.
Maybe they’ve done a little bit of exercise of some kind in the past. They’re not doing anything right now. And let’s say they are very overweight, maybe not hugely obese, but they’re overweight. They need to lose a lot of fat. And it wouldn’t really be appropriate for me to take that guy, for example, and just put him on bigger, leaner, stronger.
He could learn a lot from that book, but would I really, if I were coaching him one on one, but I really tell him like, all right, we’re gonna start squatting and deadlifting heavy weight. No, I wouldn’t. I, we would work up to that. Right? So this book, it can bridge that gap for these people by giving them again, the beginner program much it’s, it would be challenging for that person, but actually doable and not inappropriately difficult.
And then work them up to something that is kind of like a light version of what’s in my flagship books. And so anyway, the chapter with all the exercise instructions took a lot of drafts and I kept on finding things. It was like, how am I still finding things that, how did I
Austin: not catch this? It’s the smallest things that get thrown off that you’re like, please use this word.
And so my publisher’s U is based in London. And so even the British English to American English is vastly different. Right? And so there were little nuances within language where it was like, you know, when we were talking about an exercise, they, you know, sometimes they would put a word in it that was like and hold your pros and hold your, and it.
One, I would never speak like that. And two, that word doesn’t make sense. It may technically be the right literary word
Mike: for this. Yeah. But if it’s British slang or a British saying, there are so many of them that we don’t say, nobody says, I’ve never said that in my life, I don’t look the litera, you know, trying to flex in the Atlantic, won’t use it cuz nobody will know.
And then you go to the dictionary and you’re like, oh, that’s lame. It’s some British thing that nobody says,
Austin: come on. Yeah. So it’s those little things where you’re just, every time you read through it, you know, I read my book in different pieces so many times and it was just like, how am I still finding things?
Mike: know it’s crazy. It’s a never, it never ends. That’s what I’ve accepted after doing many of these projects. Yeah. Is it a Picasso quote? I don’t remember. I’m gonna, I’m gonna probably Einstein honestly. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Or Adol Hitler. I dunno. Yeah. Maybe Hitler but it’s that art is never finished.
It’s only abandoned basically is the concept and that’s so true. It’s so true that I really do think that you could almost do. Subsequent drafts indefinitely and still feel like you’re making improvements. I mean, some things you might just be getting to the point where you’re just making changes for the sake of making changes, and that doesn’t make sense, but no, where you’re legitimately finding maybe after 10 drafts, you’re no longer finding typos, but you may find, oh, just synt, syntactical not blunders at that point, but inefficiencies, right?
Where just words that you don’t need and, oh, you could kill that or even entire sentences or passages, even that don’t need any of that actually. And then find little chinks in your train of thought and how you were laying things out and it didn’t occur to you that you actually, there, people are probably gonna be wondering about this.
You probably should put, you know, you just do that almost indefinitely. So there is a point where you just have to say, I’ve suffered enough to make this good enough to put out in the world. And that’s at least that’s how I
Austin: approach it. Yeah. I think that’s a great way to approach it. And. Again, like we’ve already made a few word adjustments here and there in the book already to get, go into the next printing cycle.
And so again, it’s a never ending thing where you’re just, I’m constantly revisiting constantly. And I’m, you know, I would assume like yourself very hard on myself in terms of like, ah, man, this could be better. This could have been better. I’m already making notes for a second edition.
Mike: I’ve done three official additions of big leaders, stronger and thinly and stronger. And I’ve. Many additions in between because they’re self-published books, I can update it as much as I want. That’s awesome. Which actually has been a bit of a, it’s a curse. It’s a mixed blessing, right? But now I’m going through and I’m doing what really should be a fourth edition.
But because of my agreement with Simon and Schuster, I agreed that I’m not gonna do any book releases leading up to their book. And then I have to wait six months after. So what it’ll end up doing is just pushing all of it live probably just as the third edition and going forward, people are gonna get a book that is fundamentally the same, but I think it’s much better.
I think it’s better organized. I think I’m doing a better job. Explaining certain concepts. I think that I am doing a better job just in my pros. I think I’m a better writer now than I was then. And I’ve been working on this material now essentially for two years. Cause I did the third editions of those books.
Then I did this muscle for life book and that was a year back and forth. And that was similar material that I had to now mold for a different crowd and take stuff out and put stuff in and blah, blah, blah, but similar material and then roll right into. These fourth edition. So I feel like a, maybe a photographer who’s been retouching the same 10 photos for like two years straight where I’m just like, I have to finish this.
I’ve reached that point. It’s kinda like when you’ve been lean bulking for like six months and you’re force feeding yourself, every meal, you just feel gross, you know, you’re just gutting it out. Please. Let me just like, what am I really doing here? Yeah. Yeah. You get to that point where you just kind of lose your weight.
What am I doing? You start asking yourself,
Austin: well, what am I doing? Am I fighting for micrograms of protein here? Like micrograms of muscle. It’s like, eh, is that worth it?
Mike: Probably not. Yeah. Yeah. But I’m pot committed. I can’t pull out now. So I’m gonna get some,
Austin: you’re in. Yeah, you’re in the
Mike: deep end anyways.
So let’s talk about muscle growth. Let’s talk about the mechanics of muscle growth and how they work and then maybe some practical implications in terms of programming, how to turn those into effective
Austin: programming. Absolutely. So I’ll start with sort of an introductory to, you know, so we have the three main types of are the three stimulus for stimuli that they sort of contribute to muscle growth, and these are ever evolving.
We’ve kind of landed on these three, but it seems that these are always sort of moving around in terms of their importance level of importance. Some have a two-way relationship, some are a one-way street, some are a two-way street sort of thing contributing, but right. So we have the first one, which is mechanical tension, which we mentioned, right.
Which we know is sort of the main driver of what sort of leads to muscle growth. Then we have muscle damage and then we have metabolic stress. Okay. So those are gonna be the three main stimuli that we’re working with. Right. So I’m gonna introduce mechanical tension here for us. Basically for muscle growths to occur, there must be a mechanical stimulus or stress that happens.
That’s the mechanical tension. So this mechanical stimulus is referred to as mechanical tension or muscular tension, right? More locally. And when you contract your muscles against resistance, you create mechanical tension via the force being placed on those muscles, those receptors within the muscles, right?
Those mechanical receptors is what they’re called within the muscle. Detect that tension. There’s a cascade of chemical reactions that basically lead to muscle growth down the line. Right. And. Process is that, that process of mechanical transduction, which is basically taking physical stimulus or resistive work and making it more of the biological response or chemical response in the body that then relays the message down the chain, if you will,
Mike: of command and without getting too far into the weeds, what does that hormonal or chemical cascade look like?
Just in terms of
Austin: components? Yeah. As far as that chemical cascade, I mean, you’re looking at, you know, a word or a phrase that we would’ve be familiar with is muscle protein synthesis. There’s that fiscal stimulus that turns into a chemical one that then leads down the chain of muscle protein Synthes.
Being the response, right? And then we have to sort of have a certain threshold of stimulus to then sort of lead to that cascade to trigger it. And then the amount or duration of the time that system is turned on or switched on. If you will, then we kind of get into things that are nutritional and protein based, right.
Which is why protein intake and other macronutrient intake such as carbohydrates and fats that help fuel that process. Right? So we need a certain thing to trigger it in a certain threshold to trigger. But then, or so switch it on, if you will
Mike: kind of like a light switch, I use the obvious metaphor.
And so my writing is like muscle building machinery. Sure. Yeah, exactly. It kind of just sits there latent until it gets kick, started into action. And then it runs until it stops for various reasons. And then again, it waits for its next
Austin: stimulus and yeah, exactly. That’s a great way to put it. And so basically that’s the machinery we were working with.
Right. And so there’s a, obviously a threshold which strength training is such a good way to trigger that, respond to that. And that’s a safe and effective way to, to make that happen. Right. And we can target tension in certain muscle groups to have that response in those muscle groups specifically. Right.
Which obviously if we’re looking to craft or grow a physique that we want to, or maybe improve our arms or our back or our chest, right. That we need to be able to, we can’t just squeeze our entire body or just go for a run and hope that our chest grows. Right. We need a stimulus on that muscle tissue on those muscle cells.
Are those muscle fibers to actually make this happen. Right. Especially in those specific areas. Right. So there’s very specific sites, right. And these all work sort of by themselves, but collectively, but also kind of in their own camps. Right. You gotta think of chest as a different, completely different muscle as obviously your arms or your legs or something like that.
Right. In this, in the way that this is gonna.
Mike: Function and work. Yeah. And just a quick note on that point, that many people listening probably are aware of, but some people may not be aware of is in terms of so volume for people listening, you could measure that in different ways. One easy way. I like to do it is I’ll give Greg knuckles credit for this.
Hard sets, taken close to muscular failure. So you can do a set of bench press. And that obviously is direct volume for your chest, your pecks. That’s how most people are gonna think of the bench press, but that also does provide volume certainly for your triceps. Also your shoulders, at least your front, OIDs your anterior DS and your biceps.
Maybe a little bit. I probably wouldn’t if I were gonna be real nitpicky with counting my volume, I wouldn’t give that a one to one and I don’t get into like fractional volume and say, oh, well that was half of a set for
Austin: biceps. No, but it may actually depend, it may actually make a decision if you’re in the weeds and in the nuance of having to.
Strategic decisions from an exercise selection standpoint, it made, depending on the load and intensity you’re working at that bench press. Obviously the biceps are gonna have a role stabilization of the shoulder and elbow joint during the bench press. So are we gonna do something that is going to be heavily dependent on the biceps right after that?
Maybe not. Right. Cause that we could have some overlap there. You know, it’s not direct volume, but it’s sort of what is that synergistic volume?
Mike: I just call it indirect. I know it’s not a technical term. I just try to make it simple. Like, okay, we have what we have exactly what
Austin: we’re focusing on, get a way to put it indirect
Mike: direct, but then we have these other muscles that are involved.
And the reason I brought that up is that is helps explain why the big. Primary lifts. The compound lifts are so efficient because when you do a squat, when you do a dead lift, when you do an overhead press, when you do a, like a vertical press of any kind, you, a horizontal press, you are not just training the muscle group that maybe you feel at the most in.
You’re engaging a lot of other muscle groups and you are accumulating volume. It may be indirect. And again, if you are gonna be very specific with tracking your volume or planning your volume, you may not count it one to one. Like you may not count even a deadlift as one set of direct volume for your biceps because of the it’s.
The isometric element of it. It’s not gonna be as effective for training your biceps as a biceps girl, but it’s not nothing. And so, you know, you are gonna get between a squat and a deadlift that you’re gonna get a muscle building stimulus in pretty much about most of not your press muscles, maybe not your triceps in your PEX, but in many other, maybe not your shoulders so much.
But in many other muscles in your body, you’re getting a lot of muscle building bounce for the ounce, so to speak. Yeah. And then you can supplement some isolation work to because you know that if you just did your heavy pulling and your heavy rows, If you’re a guy and you want to have big biceps, probably not gonna be enough unless your biceps are just hyper responders.
Austin: Right. That, or if you’re very detrained right. Or very new. True. Right. And so, I mean, I mean, you could look at a photo of Harry Houdini, that dude was jacked. Right. And he wasn’t in there doing bicep curls. I can tell you that. So how’s that dude have feathered quads and he’s jacked, right. And has dealt caps and whatever else, like, I don’t think he’s doing isolation, curls and leg extensions.
You know, there’s a certain threshold of stimulus that has to occur, right. To turn this machinery on and then based off some genetics and stuff like that, that some is a little bit more responsive than others.
Mike: So that’s mechanical tension and then let’s move on to muscle damage. And what is that? And also how much do you think that contributes to? I know this is an ongoing discussion or is it more just a byproduct of training properly of reaching that mechanical tension, that appropriate level that promotes maximum protein synthesis without going so far that you’re now beyond diminishing returns, you’re actually not gaining muscle and strength faster.
You are just making it harder to recover from
Austin: your training. Yeah. That’s a great way to sort of introduce it. So muscle damage, basically the micro tears to the muscle fiber and disruption sort of within the functional unit of a muscle, the way that it contracts. Right? So it’s kind of that disruption of that machinery or.
Physical makeup of that muscle, but also those really small micro tears that we always kind of hear about correlated with muscle damage, right? And the main role of muscle damage or the main thing is going to be a byproduct of muscle contraction, right? It’s sort of a accumulation of waste and there’s different mechanisms here, but the main one, just being sort of those micro tears and ultimately eight byproducts of this process, there does seem to be and especially in my opinion, and this, as you mentioned, this is an ongoing debate, an ongoing discussion, and we’re trying to learn more.
It’s pretty. Miraculous. I find it miraculous that as much as we know about muscle and as much as we know about the human body, we still don’t know as much as we could. And there’s still a lot more that we can find out. Right. Which to
Mike: me is exciting. I mean, especially if we talk about other stuff, like the brain.
Oh, it’s really? Yeah. And consciousness, even what is the nature of consciousness in our lifetimes? I don’t know. Hopefully we’ll know more than we know now. I’m not sure that riddle, unless like benevolent aliens come and share the secrets of the universe. So I don’t know if we’ll see that resolved in our
Yeah. And do we even, I think the question is there, do we even have the language or capacity of intelligence to comprehend it? Right. I don’t know. We’re smart animals, but are we as smart as we need to be to figure it out? I
Mike: don’t know. Yeah. And that also depends of course, on cultural paradigms, even like what’s acceptable and what’s not obviously materialism is in Vogue right now, but what if consciousness isn’t material in nature and that’s just.
Taboo like, you know, if you have any sort of non-material. Hypothesis. You’re never gonna get attention. You’re never gonna get published. No, one’s gonna care. It’s naive to be naive, to think that politics and that just meaning the games that relate and the ideas that relate to power and status and so forth.
It would be naive to think that doesn’t operate in the sphere of science as well. Especially with controversial things that you could say have. Paradigm shifting potential like this. I mean, you could imagine if there were scientifically verified breakthroughs that confirmed that and just imagine whatever that might be that confirmed that consciousness is not, there is something immaterial about us.
What would that
Austin: do? I mean, that would, well, you gotta, at this happens in history all the time, right? Like, oh, sure. If we don’t update certain viewpoints, because it does play with the status quo of the current understanding of something. So it’s easier just to yeah, I get it. But like, that’s probably true, but it’s easier if we just don’t say it because then it’s gonna be this whole thing and people are gonna lose tenure.
They’re gonna lose their whole career
Mike: or you just kind of memory hold the evidence for it. The anomalies, the things that don’t add up with the current orthodoxy, just go. There’s probably a good explanation if I’ll let somebody
Austin: else worry about that. second. Yeah. And then there’s just a generation after generation.
That’s just like, you know, and it’s like, well, you may never get there. I dunno. But to the threshold of muscle damage, you know, like we are kind of talking off air about this a little bit and it’s. To me, it’s past the point of being a byproduct of muscle contraction. Right? So that we contract the muscle, we create mechanical tension on the muscle.
We create this cascade, but when we do contract, right, there are positive things that happen, but just like anything there’s negative things that occur during that process in terms of metabolic waste and waste product from that machinery working. Right? So like if machine is working and it let’s say your engine, right.
It’s working and it heats up, right. A byproduct of an engine running is heat, right? And so there’s, you have to have some sort of machinery to regulate heat. And so that’s just a byproduct that more or less making the comparison to a byproduct of a machine working, right? So a byproduct of muscle contraction is therefore damage that can occur if we have too much mechanical tension happen or too much intensity of it for a long, a too long of a duration.
Right. And this is where we get into the field of an adequate amount of training volume. We need hard sets, but how many hard sets do we need relative to our training age relative to our training abilities. Right? How much volume were we doing before
Mike: then? I’ll just throw this question out here. And then if you wanted to continue with that thought and jump over to it.
But something that I’ve been asked over the years is should I be, this would be a person asking, should I be. Trying to optimize my training for maximum muscle damage. And you’ve already alluded to the answer to this, but I think it’s worth mentioning just specifically, because I know that if, I think back to my experience, my own fitness journey, there’s certainly was a time.
I I like to think that the meta, so to speak of fitness is shifting, but maybe I’m just my own bubble. So, you know, I don’t know exactly, but there certainly was a time when it was very much that bomb and blast. And, you know, if you weren’t extremely sore from your training, then you probably should have trained harder.
And I know there isn’t a perfect correlation between muscle soreness and muscle damage, but generally speaking, yeah. That’s, if you do a ton of volume in a training session and it’s at least halfway. Close to muscular failure. You’re gonna get more sore than if you did half of that volume. What are your thoughts on that?
Because what people who maybe would think that muscle damage is a major contributor to muscle building would do then is say, Hey, well, I should make sure that I achieve a lot of muscle damage, like first and foremost, damage the muscles a lot,
Austin: you know? Yeah. And this is where any old trainer can make you sore.
You know, that’s kind of where that adage came from, because it’s, I can make you sore doing a lot of different stuff. Yeah. We
Mike: can do some heavy eccentrics we’ll just do a bunch of that.
Austin: You’re gonna be really sore. Yeah. Drop sets continue like just super long metabolically stressful sets, things that create a lot of metabolic waste muscle damage with is within that.
They disrupt a lot of things within the cell. It’s helpful to a degree. And then it, there’s obviously a point at which it’s not helpful anymore. Right. There’s a lot of to make a metaphor to life. There’s a lot of that in our everyday life. It’s like a little of that would’ve been helpful, but this is too much, right.
It’s becoming unhelpful up to this
Mike: 0.1 mask in the beginning. Yeah. That makes two masks outside now jogging,
Austin: What are you doing? Yeah. It’s like, all right, this is a yeah, come on, man. So within that muscle damage, there is a point of it being too much. Right. And like I was saying off air, you know, in our conversation was there seems to be sort of, in my opinion, there’s sort of a, there starts to be a benefit of muscle damage early on, maybe in a training phase or a new movement.
Right. So we know when things are novel and new, let’s say we try a new movement. We haven’t back squatted before,
Mike: but we haven’t. I safety bar squatted for the first time, actually in this training cycle, just because I was never in a gym that had a safety bar and yeah, it was a little bit wonky at first.
I mean, I quickly. Got into the groove because you know, maybe a little bit feels a little bit more similar to a front squat than a back door or something right in the middle. But those first couple of weeks I had that, I felt a little bit new again. I was like, oh wow. I have to actually pay attention to my form.
And I’m like a little
Austin: bit off. And so you’re, we’re always working through different movement patterns, right? So our nervous system understands what patterns are most advantageous to getting this load from point a to point B safely and effectively. Right. And there’s a point at which we understand that.
And there’s a point at which we wanna. You know, follow along with that and our nervous, system’s very smart. It’s constantly learning each rep’s learning. And so that’s why it’s good to have like good training technique, for example. So like each bad rep could be a training, a bad, you know, a bad
Mike: movement pattern.
I think that’s one of the benefits of just doing a few warmup sets. I mean, there are other benefits, but even just practicing proper form with lighter weight that is allows you to really pay attention to what you’re doing, as opposed to those heavier working sets. And especially now you’re getting down to your last couple of reps and it can be hard to pay attention to much of anything
Austin: other than just, yeah, well, it’s a fundamental skill.
Right. And I wanna get into that a little bit later on after we, I wanna finish fossil damage drill. So I don’t wanna lose my train of thought, but within muscle damage, there seems to be that little bit, right. Like we were talking about off air, it’s sort of a proxy where. It lets us know we’re placing tension in the right spots, right.
It lets us know that we achieved a certain threshold that we hadn’t achieved before. Right. And we know with progressive overload and that’s an important bit of training periodization and programming and progressing on our muscle growth journey. Right. We need progressive overload. We need a progressive stimulus of some kind to further along an adaptation that we want to happen.
Right. Because once we adapt to a certain stress, we’re pretty covered with that. Right. You get really good at running a mile. A Mile’s not gonna be too difficult any longer, but then you take that mile and make it two miles. Okay. Now we got some adaptation to happen. Right. We have a progressive stimulus there.
The same thing here with strength training with creating tension and with muscle damage. Right. So I do think, you know, I wouldn’t shy away from maybe creating a little bit. If you come happen to come buy it, don’t think of as like, oh, my gains are gone. But think of it as too far. And it’s important to note.
And I say this in the book, exercise induced muscle damage, right. Is what we’re talking about specifically here, because there’s also muscle damage due to trauma. Right. And there’s different levels of soreness. Right? And there’s actually, I put a continuum in the book on muscle soreness, talking about kind of where it sort of can be a positive thing and where it gets into a negative thing.
And also where you should seek out health professionals that are trained and qualified like physicians and stuff. Physiotherapists. If you come. Too much trauma, right. Or what is beneficial.
Mike: So where is that point? Generally of diminishing returns for people wondering. Okay. So they’re thinking, how do I know then if what’s, what are some of the signs that I’m doing it right.
That I’m creating enough muscle damage to get the most out of that pathway, so to speak, or even if it is just a byproduct, then it would be a sign that I’m creating enough tension or enough metabolic
Austin: stress. Yeah. So as far as it’s a feeling thing, a lot where I separate tension based soreness with like trauma based soreness, like you’ve gone too far.
Right. And so like, to me, an easy example to me is like little tension based soreness is like, you were sitting down and you went to get up and you’re like, Ooh, my quads are kind of sore. You know, you kind of stretch ’em out. There’s some tension in there. You’re like, Ooh, that’s kind of, I don’t know if I could squat today, you know, too far is.
Your partner looks at your quads and you’re like, don’t even look at Mike. Don’t even act like you’re gonna touch me. Don’t look at ’em , you know, don’t get near me cuz you might bump into my legs. You know? It’s like you were in a car wreck, right. It’s like a trauma. Right. And that can happen from strength training.
It can happen from exercise induced muscle trauma, right.
Mike: It’s yeah. If you’re new, go do some German volume training and see how you feel.
Austin: yeah. Oh, you’ll feel like
Mike: you got, go do tennis by 10 on the squat
Austin: rack. I’ve never been so sorted. The first time I ever, this was 2013, I was first introduced to, I was in prep.
I mean, I was first inter, which is the worst time to see this. I was first introduced to German volume training and, you know, I did 10 by 10 with I think 2 25 or a little bit more. And the next morning I felt like I got hit by a train and it’s like, I’d never trained before. It was absolutely wild.
I mean, that stuck around for seven to 10 days. Right. And that’s where it really goes too far. Right. Where it starts to impede your other training or it starts to, to leak in and impede or work against. The next training session where you’re gonna be training that muscle group. Right. So, you know, I think a productive level of muscle soreness can be upwards of a day, you know, 24 to 36 hours, you know, sometimes depending on the intensity of the session, the, you know, certain, you know, if you’re in a really intense high volume hypertrophy phase, right.
You know, you’re probably gonna be sore for
Mike: a couple days doing tens in my programming. So I start with tens at, I guess it would be 70% or is it 75? I’d have to look at my spreadsheet. And you know, it’s pretty hard ending at least first rep in reserve. First set reps in reserve is probably two, maybe three, but probably two final set is probably a solid one.
And I still get sore from that. It’s hard. I’ve been doing that style of training. So again, it’s beyond bigger than a stronger, I have a book for intermediate and advanced weightlifters and. Over a year, two years ago probably is when I started putting it together. So I started training that way then, and you know, I enjoy it and I’m still making progress with it.
So I just have stuck with it,
Austin: but it still gets me. Yeah. It’s gonna get ya. And I think that’s all right. Yeah. And I don’t think right. And there’s different camps here. Right. Cuz you know, there’s sort of that minimum effective dose camp.
Mike: Yeah. Who would say don’t really, you don’t ever want to be sore, like just do full body training and just do like three sets max per muscle group per workout.
And then just do that every day and you’ll never be sore. I mean, can that work? Yes it can. But is that the best way for everyone to train under any circumstances? No, because actually there is no, I don’t believe there is one true way to train again for everybody. All circumstances, all goals. But I’m curious to your
Austin: thoughts on that same.
I think obviously there’s a genetic factor there. There’s gonna be a certain threshold of stress that you have the ability to handle. Right? And some of this, like there’s a reason bodybuilders are so chill, you know, stress is stress. And if you have a life that’s super stressful, your work is stressful.
Your relationship is stressful. You know, your relationship with your parents are, is emotionally distressful to you. Like nothing specific there, but just in general, like if you have a lot of stress, there’s not gonna be much room for a training stimulus to happen there. Like there’s not much more in that bar graph of like, well, it’s, I only have a little bit to give here in the training department, but if your life’s pretty chill and you don’t have too much stress outside of what you can really handle just fine.
You can handle a lot more stress within training in my opinion. Right. So, and I’ve seen this with clients and you’ve seen, I’m sure you’ve seen this with people too.
Mike: So I’ve experienced it myself when stress levels are higher. Oh, I can go right into my spreadsheets where I track all my workouts. And I could show you periods where I’m like, you know, there’s just a lot going on.
And I mean, I guess you could call it stress even though, I mean, it is there’s stressors. Let’s just say there are, yeah, a lot of stressors, even though I generally don’t get stressed out. Like I, I’m not prone to anxiety or any serious symptoms of stress, but what I’ve found, and this is an unfortunate fact of being human, right.
Is when there it’s maybe more of a, it feels like a quantity factor rather than a quality. It’s just, you stack enough stressors up. And my training, stagnates weights start feeling heavy, like training weights that, you know, maybe in the previous meso cycle. Cause I note down my reps and reserve as well, just cause it’s, I think it’s smart to track that as you get.
Toward the end of your muscle and strength gain journey, right? Because first you gain a few reps in reserve and then you gain some reps and then you can gain weight. And so I’ll see that. Well, shit, I did the same weight as two meso cycles ago or maybe one meso cycle ago, but my, I hit my sets, but my R I R like collectively went down, you know what I mean?
Instead of a 2, 2, 2, 1, it was like, 2 1, 1 0 1, which I wouldn’t even necessarily, you know what I mean? So I’ve noticed that, and also that will impact my sleep, unfortunately, where I won’t have trouble falling asleep, but I will wake up several times in the night and I have, there’s nothing I’ve been able to do to resolve that other than just bringing stress down.
Unfortunately, I wish that
Austin: weren’t the case. Well, we’re human, you know, we’re biological obnoxious. I mean, it’s
Mike: obnoxious that, that, cuz that one in particular I, I would take, there are so many other negative side effects that I could experience that I would take over that one because sleeping poorly, it just messes
Austin: everything up.
Oh, it’s the governor of life, right? It’s yeah. It’s your central control unit failing right? In a very crucial situation. And it’s, without that, you’re kind of lost. Yeah, right. There’s a productive amount of it. And then again, like I’m not necessarily on the side of, I don’t really I’m Switzerland in all equations.
I always say that, like, I’m just in the middle, I’m here to just make the best of what we have. And I don’t really live in any extreme, you know, I don’t think to kind of expand on that, the minimum effective dose thing, you know, I think if you’re really new, let’s say you’re middle age or older and you’re not really looking to like, cuz I don’t believe strength training sole purpose is to gain as much muscle as possible either.
Right? So there’s lot of benefits that extend beyond muscle growth here. Right. It’s just a helpful byproduct of. Strength training. Right? We get bigger, stronger. We adapt and sometimes leaner. nice. I don’t think that, you know, we should go for just bludgeon ourselves with trauma, either physical trauma, every training session, right.
Where you can yell at me that Arnold did it. So you’re blue in the face, but you’re not Arnold dude. Okay. I’m not Michael Phelps. I can swim, but I’m not Michael Phelps. You’re not that
Mike: person of Arnold. Remember, I’m sure you did this. You remember trying his workout? Oh, M I mean, if I remember correctly, I don’t remember how many tiers there were.
There were at least two, if not three, but even the first tier. Destroy me. Yeah. I’m just like, I’m done. I, yeah, I can’t do this. I
Austin: can’t, I’m done. It’s not possible. Yeah, you’re done after that. So yeah, there’s obviously that stress factor that plays into all of it. So, and this is where kind of deloads come in.
Right? You hear about deloads and holding back on training volume and training stress, and you gotta periodize things, right. There’s times in your life where you gotta pull back on things, maybe go on vacation or holiday, spend more time with your family and kind of take a load off. Do what kind of recharge yourself?
Same thing goes with training. It’s a ebb and flow of a biological system, you know, and it’s the same thing. We’re not machines. Whether you speak in ones and zeros or not.
Mike: Right. Totally. Yeah. Deloading is something I’ve become more disciplined about as time has gone on, because I mean, there was a time when I would deload because I.
get sick , or maybe there’d be a vacation or something. I’d always
Austin: put it all. Like, ah, I’m going out of town. I could do
Mike: it. Then I think I’m fine. I’ll do another week. I’ll do another week or maybe try to like selectively deload because I still want to do my deadlifts and stuff. All right.
I’ll do like less of this other stuff. And this is in the program that in beyond bigger, linear, stronger, we were deloading every fourth week. And that may sound too frequent for some people. But I mean, I, again I’ve decent genetics for this kind of stuff. I have apparently good DNA for recovery. Like there’s I took one of those tests and there was one in particular, one expression of a gene that was associated with, again, very good recovery.
Like apparently they see it in a lot of athletes. Right. And so, and I’ve been able to do pretty well in my training, but that fourth. Every fourth week, deloading given the volume and the intensity of the program, which is not crazy, but you’re doing probably about 15 hard sets per major muscle group per week.
That would include indirect volume, which I think, I don’t know if you really can go much beyond that, unless you’re like a super freak and you’re 19 years old and you know, you’re just invincible period. But for anybody listen, like I challenge anybody to try to do 20 hard sets. You go into Excel and you lay that out and you can count the indirect volume where it makes sense, 20 hard sets per major muscle group per week, and even be in a calorie surplus.
If you’re not a freak at 20 years old, let’s see how long it lasts for not very long. And so the training is fairly difficult and I tried different deload periods. I tried every sixth week. I didn’t even try eight cause I know that would’ve been too much, but every fourth week has worked very well for me.
And I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from people who have read the book and are now who are doing the program, who basically have the same story as me. Like, you know, I never really cared that much about deloads. I didn’t. I was bad about it basically. And now I’ve come to really appreciate it because I come into that fourth week, three weeks of hard training, and now I feel like, yeah, maybe I could go a bit further, but by easing up, I just then feel fully recharged.
And I have another really good productive three weeks of training. So anybody listening, if you’re not deloading, let’s say it could be four to eight, maybe 10 weeks. If you’re new, depending on what you’re doing, I would recommend to do it. and if you wanna learn, I’ll just set topic, go over leisure, athletics.com, search for deload and you’ll find an article.
I think I also do podcast. If you wanna just get a quick rundown of how to put it together, it’s not complicated, but it can make a big difference. Yeah.
Austin: And I think the more advanced you are, right? The more frequent you have. You have to,
Mike: right. Cuz the weights are heavier, you’re doing more volume
Austin: you’re creating more tension, right?
Like that’s the thing with where technique fits in and where the ability to create mechanical tension fits in is the more tension you’re producing in a specific muscle, the more stressed on that overall system. But the more work is being done in less time with less volume. Right. And if we have less volume, we have less accumulated stress on the system and on our joints and our connective tissues.
Yeah. And so that’s a good positive thing. Right? So to my goal I kind of almost, you know, with clients I’ve worked with for a long time, if we get upwards of, let’s say 16 plus sets a week on something, it’s my goal or let’s say upwards of 20, it’s my goal to actually be able to productively pull back on that, because that means that we have more high quality work.
rather than more low quality work. Yeah. Quality over quantity. Right. This really plays into that in a big way. So, you know, technique and your ability to create tension to me is a fundamental skill. Right? It’s as important to strength training as dribbling as to basketball, in my opinion.
Yeah. So you gotta take it with seriousness and it’s a foundational, fundamental skill. It’s the sole thing we’re doing in the gym. You know, you don’t go in and do anything else other than lift. Weight, right. You’re lifting weight, your technique matters. You’re trying to create tension. You’re trying to grow muscles, trying to produce an internal response, right?
Totally. That we talked about earlier. So there’s only the, those factors as well. You gotta pay attention to, but that can undulate things over the course of your career. And that’s where, you know, resources like your book. My book, having a coach or a trainer definitely comes into play because you can have that relationship where you’re like, oh, okay, I’ve always heard about this.
I never put it into practice. Right. I never like saw it happening, but this makes a lot more sense. And you learn by doing
Mike: essentially let’s move on to metabolic stress or metabolic fatigue is it’s also called referred to as that as well.
Austin: Yeah. So metabolic stress is the accumulation of metabolic products within the muscle fiber, right within the muscle cell during training, right.
This is where muscle or metabolic stress gets really interesting. So metabolic stress actually has currently what we know or is theorized has an indirect, right? So earlier we talked about direct volume and indirect volume. So metabolic stress has this indirect relationship with muscle hypertrophy.
Right. And it does. Through increasing the most direct one, which is mechanical tension. Right? So I’m gonna explain that case. The fatigue that is in part caused by metabolic stress is thought to contribute to an increase in mechanical tension, metabolic stress as increases in the muscle. It increases motor unit recruitment and decreases the muscle fiber shortening velocity, right?
So it allows us to create even more tension as that fatigue is produced and the more it is produced, the more. Tension is produced, right? And that’s when your reps start to slow more tension is then required to keep that going to that point where you’re, if you’re watching, like you’re doing a bicep curl and you’re like shaken, right?
You’re like, there’s so much tension and there’s not a lot there again. So there’s a healthy amount of that. Right? And so we need a certain threshold of that. That’s why, you know, this is kind of where you, you play into the camp of muscle pumps, right? So the combination of changes in the muscle during this accumulation of fatigue basically increases the number of muscles controlled by those higher threshold motor units, right?
Those motor units within your nervous system, that basically are the controls, the command center to those saying like, Hey fire. Right. And they have their arms sort of reached out with their fingers on each one of those sort of playing ’em like a piano, right? It’s like, firefi, you know, in a different sequence or a firing rate, if you will.
Right. And this, that creates an increase in mechanical tension within the muscle. It’s very interesting that. This can have such an indirect contribution that plays in essentially to the direct one, right? It’s that’s where that two way street comes into play, which is very interesting.
Right. And so it kind of gets you into a few different conversations of like, okay, well we know we wanna create tension. We know we wanna create it for a magnitude, a certain magnitude. So at a certain threshold for a certain duration of time. So that’s a certain amount of volume, right? And now we can start to play with a few other factors within program design.
Right. Which I don’t know if we’ll have time you get into today, but that’s where things get a bit interesting and where, you know, all of that starts to come into play and starts to really contribute maybe to your long term potential of muscle growth down the line.
Mike: And what are your thoughts then?
And again, I can hear people wondering about styles of training that emphasize the metabolic stress. So if you poke around on Instagram probably should delete your Instagram, but if you’re not gonna delete it and you’re on it, And you see people talking about finishers or just, it’s generally very high rep, you know, it’s gonna be 20 rep would probably be on the low end 20 to 30 plus rep training.
I often get asked about that. Like, should I be doing that? Or is that just not a very effective way to train because that, on the strength and kind of endurance continuum, that’s way over here on the muscle endurance side of things, what are your thoughts on that? So you’re
Austin: getting a little bit into Dr.
Cody Hahn and colleagues stuffy. It posted a great paper on this, you know, talking about Sarla hypertrophy, right? So it’s basically. Outside of the muscle cell directly, we have the SAR Lima, and we have the Sarco plasm. There’s certain things in there, right? We store glycogen in there. There’s certain enzymes in there that help sort of govern that cell in a positive way that help, you know, maybe drive more nutrients in or more fluid or more glycogen could be stored there because we need more availability of ready to go energy within that cell.
Right. Because we’re always working at that capacity. There is definitely merit to that in terms of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. And
Mike: so as opposed to making the muscle fibers just bigger. Right.
Austin: Cuz that, right. So there’s a great visual in my book talking about, or kind of going through this. Right. And it’s, so I’m able to.
To pull this up really quick. It’s a great visual where we’re basically going through a rise in volume of the Sarco plasm. Right? So it’s, that includes, you know, things in mitochondria. Sarcoplasmic, curiculum the things that govern calcium within the cell, which help muscles contract, I guess you, I don’t
Mike: know if it’s the technical term, but maybe you could say they’re kind of fluid components as
Austin: opposed to the yeah.
Fluid components of the cell. Right. So things are kind of floating around in there. If you expand
Mike: that, of course, you now have a bigger muscle. But that’s different than the muscle fibers themselves and the muscle cells themselves. Like you have the cells, right? The, and then you have the bundles and like those actually physically getting
So that’s actual protein, right? Those are protein bundles. And so there’s, you know, myo fibular hypertrophy, which is more of like the hyper we were used to where muscles, actual protein, we’re gaining more protein next to each other. Right. And in parallel and end series. So like next to each other they’re expanding, we’re getting bigger.
We’re growing more protein, right. That muscle protein synthesis process, right. We’re growing more synthesis just means more developing. So within that sarcoplasmic high protein. We’re basically rising the volume of that fluid state where those things that help contribute as well to fueling the process.
Of all that muscle growth that pro myo fibular muscle growth as well. Right? So we need those components outside of that protein to do their job as well, right. Those muscle fibers to do their job as well. And really, if you think about it logically, the more we have of those, right? The more, essentially the more right.
If we’re building a building, right? The more construction workers we have on our crew, the more optimally and more efficiently, we could build a building maybe even better and stronger in the future. Right? And to me, that’s kind of what you’re doing is you’re kind of adding workers to your crew. You’re adding more ability to divide labor and increase your ability to handle, you know, fatigue or even work being done within workouts, within, you know, meso cycles and phases and different things.
To me. That’s a very, it’s a very useful thing, but understand too, that your whole workout can’t just be finishers. Right. So you’re gonna notice too. You’re gonna know, like, and that’s
Mike: the mistake that I see when people reach out to me is like a lot of their training is that very high rep metabolic focused stuff.
And they do very little heavier myo fibular focus, strength
Austin: training. Yeah. So they’re basically, let’s see if I can put this in a helpful way. Hopefully my earlier explanations were helpful when I didn’t butcher them too much, but basically that sort of training, think of it as not adding as many.
You’re gonna add some protein, but we’re not focused on adding protein there as much as we’re adding the other components. Right? The more fluid based components,
Mike: I guess you could think of it as that would make the protein components be able to work even better.
Austin: Right. They’re gonna work better and grow more in the future if we’re doing that, rather than just focusing on the fluid component.
And you’re gonna notice people, if you’ve ever done finisher based training as your sole training, or like pump style training as your sole training, how quickly did you deflate? I used to
Mike: talk about that as cuz that’s just that
Austin: yeah. You just like, I’m flat instantly. I haven’t trained in two days and
How demotivating was that? It was so discouraging and just, I didn’t know why, you know, how does, like I look in the gym, I look like, you know, maybe not jacked, but I definitely look like I lift and then I almost look like I don’t even lift three days
Austin: later. Yeah. And it’s different. So it’s a difference between like you’ve seen guys and this is where the difference of.
I think so, like I come from the more of the competing world and we on stage people talk a lot about muscle density yeah. And muscle maturity. And to me, that’s just the difference of you having actual more protein, more myo, fibular hypertrophy over the course of your career, rather than circle plasma based hypertrophy.
So, you know, us young bucks on stage are just kind of pumped up blobs of fluid of just like we got some muscle, but it’s mainly just for show here. And as soon as we step on stage, we’re gonna flat out. Yeah. We have about 30 minutes of where we’re gonna look like that older dude, but you see those guys and that’s kind to me, that’s kind of what that is representing is like the muscle maturity and muscle density really is displaying through just more pure protein in the muscle, more protein, the components within that muscle.
Right. So making up 60 to 70% of protein in the muscle itself, right. Is that mild fi. Component. So it’s very important to note and your training should then reflect that more so than, so I do think finishers have a place
Mike: and that was a turning point, my own training. That was probably one of the key things.
There were a few key things, but that was one of them wa was to start lifting heavier weights. It didn’t have to be when I first started to educate myself, it wasn’t power lifting per se. I did a little bit of that and I was like, yeah, this is, I actually prefer more strength training with some body building stuff, but it was doing, I probably, I can’t say that I hadn’t done a set of like fives or sixes with appropriately heavy weight on a hard exercise before, but that certainly was not how I normally trained.
And so by switching over to like, it was probably I would think previously I’m looking back. I probably never did fewer than eight to 10 reps. And that was probably my final set. And I, so I was probably starting 15, 20, and to switch from that to like warm up and go into fives was a big game changer for me, just in terms of actually getting strong for the first time.
And then really starting to gain noticeable muscle mass that didn’t just disappear. Yeah. One or
Austin: two days later, there is merit too. You have more C plasmic based type of training in certain phases where if you notice you’re lacking at a certain. Part of your training, right? Like, let’s say your volume tolerance is lower than you think it should be.
Right? You may be lacking some things from a machinery standpoint in the cell, right. And this is mainly theory based. Right. But if we think about it logically, you may be, it’s not a far outreach that it’s like, you know, we’ve been training this one way for so long. Let’s say we’re, you know, in the low rep camp where we’re really focused on creating a lot of tension, a high amount of intensity in our, you know, we never go above 10 reps.
If we go over eight or six within that, right. There’s a lot of adaptation that’s left out there to basically fend for itself that isn’t being properly managed or given its due diligence to, to then grow. Right. And we need all of this stuff to work really well. And the better we can have it work really well, the better off we are.
Right. And so I think a prime example is this, if you watch, you know, you have some of the world’s strongest people, right. And power lifting and strong men make them do anything over six reps. And. Their world’s going to end. We have metabolic fatigue coming up out of nowhere after six reps. You’re like, you could do 25 of, and just be fine.
Yeah. Like your machinery, your ability to clear lactate, your, yeah. You put that
Mike: into a rep max calculator. You’re like, what is going on?
Austin: Yeah. It’s like, there’s a certain rate limiter of our future gains. That’s sort of being compromised by our lack of ability to see the full picture, rather than this sort of this myopic view of it, of just this one sole focus of being like myo fibrillary perch view.
Like it has to be within this. Right. So if you never. Do those types of training, you never expose yourself to those things and you never have to force those things to adapt, to work better and more efficiently. And your ability to store maybe more muscle glycogen in a cell, like that’s huge for your long term potential of muscle growth.
It allows you over a course of a phase, maybe it’s to tolerate more volume. You recover a bit quicker in between sessions, which as we’ve been talking about this whole time, that’s massively helpful in a phase where you’re trying to build muscle. Right? So that isn’t to say that yes, myo fibular, hypertrophy is important.
Building more protein in your muscle is important, but so are other things, right? So are more aerobic adaptations, right? Making sure that you can. You know, you’re healthy individual, that muscle building muscle protein synthesis and muscle building is an expensive process for your body to do right.
And if it doesn’t have to do it, it’s not probably gonna do it. You know? So it’s one of those things where we gotta sort of set ourselves up for success and be sure the whole picture’s taken care of the whole cell is happy and we’re the right machinery and are all the machinery rather is being given its time rather than just sole focusing on one aspect of many, right.
Within a long term approach to trying to grow
Mike: muscle that’s makes me think of my position on cardio, which has evolved from the first edition of big linear, stronger. I was like, Do as much cardio as you need for your body composition goals. And if that’s none, that’s fine. Basically. Like if you don’t want to get that lean, you probably don’t need to do any cardio.
You could just lift, watch your calories and macros and be done with it. Now, I don’t think that’s wrong, but now I do recommend that people try to work in some cardio for health reasons. There are some additional benefits. Like you do get a lot of health benefits from strength training, obviously, but there are some particularly cardiovascular benefits and some telomere like longevity related stuff that you probably don’t get from strength training, nearly as much as you get from cardio, but there’s also a performance component.
And this is not news to you, but it’s something I maybe a year ago or so is when I was reading about it. And then I started doing more cardio and I noticed it is as my cardiovascular fitness has improved my ability to recover in between. My weight lifting. My strength training sets has improved by that.
I mean, I feel like, so my heart rate comes down faster and I feel like I have a bit more energy. So most people listening, probably they probably rest. They probably have a stopwatch. Like it’s why I use a little stopwatch app on my phone. And I watch my rest times fairly closely. Like I’m probably two and a half minutes or so in between isolation exercises, maybe two and then three to three and a half in between my sets of the bigger heavier lifts.
And I rarely go beyond that. And so those rest times are appropriate obviously, but. If I do a set of tens on deadlifts, the hardest shit so hard and is three and a half minutes. Is that enough to, if I were to rest another minute, would I do better? Yeah, I would actually, but I don’t wanna be in the gym too long.
And so I know that’s appropriate. It’s not, I’m not like resting one minute and you know, gonna blow myself up. However, when I give myself that three and a half minute rest time give or take I have noticed a difference where I would do cardio two days a week, previously 30 minutes, just set steady state, just moderate intensity, nothing special.
And then I moved to six to seven days a week, same thing, 30 minutes, but I’ve been able to increase my intensity. Like what was, what would get me pretty winded previously does not now as my cardiovascular fitness has improved, I’ve noticed in my lifting, especially on these big lifts that are hard, the squat, the dead lift, the higher rep stuff that really gets my heart going.
That. In that three and a half minutes, my heart rate has come down more than it has previously. And I do feel readier to do that next set and that translates into better
Austin: performance. Yeah. And your ability to utilize oxygen’s improved. Right. And how big of a factor is oxygen within every biological system in your body?
We have, you know, anaerobic systems which can work without oxygen. And we have aerobic systems so that we can work, you know, that have to have oxygen to work. And our anaerobic systems are very short lived. Right. We know that, you know, our creatine phosphate system or that you know, is within, like, what we know of now is at least I know of is like around 10 seconds, right.
10 to 15, maybe. Right. And then you’re cracking into other things that need. To work, right? And so there are things we can do with, and without the more oxygen you have, and the more efficient you are at utilizing it, the better off you’re gonna be, not only within your training, but within your recovery process, which is aerobic.
Recovery is an aerobic process. So you need it and you need it for your health. As I think this is a very important thing to mention as cardiovascular disease is one of the top killers of people on this planet. I think it’s paramount that. As health professionals stress the importance of improving health, as well as the other benefits of strength, training and cardio.
In my opinion, and aerobic based training, I think should have a place I’m really happy to hear you. You kind of have changed your tune on that a little bit, not to benefit me, but just from the sake of like, Because you do reach so many people that I, I think it’s an important message to send out of like, Hey, better health.
Yeah. Maybe in your twenties and thirties, you’re good to go without, but like understand that health degrades over time are things get a little less efficient, our ability to utilize oxygen risk for cardiovascular events and disease creep up later in life. And it’s good to sort of create these long lasting habits now and sort of preemptively attend to those things rather than just wait until, you know, we don’t wanna wait until we’re 50 to start doing cardio.
I mean, you can
Mike: think of it as a health debt, so to speak or fitness debt, if you accumulate too much, like yes, you can dig out, but it might be a tough row to hoe might be a long process. And certainly again, you can’t do it, but you know, a little bit of. Prevention is gonna be future you is gonna thank you a lot for taking the, and again, for me, it’s 30 minutes, six or seven days a week, and I always do something else.
So I have a, an upright bike down in my basement. And if I have work calls, I’ll usually save it. So I have to sit on the phone anyway. Might as well do something. Right. And again, my intensity is at a it’s at a level of, again, I’d say like a four or five out of 10. And so that means that I can have a conversation I’m a little bit winded.
And so I’ll tell people like, I’m on a bike, just so you know, I’m not just like ran. I’m not doing anything else. Yeah. I’m not . Yeah. Or just randomly out of breath, isn’t the guy supposed to be like a health dude. You can’t even breathe. So, but it’s not so much, like if I were doing higher intensity stuff, I wouldn’t be able to do, I wouldn’t even be able to concentrate.
Right. Cuz that blow me up. But so now I just multitask it and if I don’t have a call, then I spend that time listening to something that I wanna listen to. It could be a podcast, an interview, or I’ll just spend my time reading. So I read on my phone as it is. So again, because it’s not too distracting, it’s a little bit obnoxious, but it’s not too bad.
I can still read and get some more pages done in the day. And so it, for me, it was just a win.
Austin: So 360 degree win. Right. Yeah, it’s a win. It’s a win-win. And to me, like the way that I think about it, I try to put things in simple terms and I try to create a perspective around things that sort of just lends its own hand, right.
That sort of speaks for itself. And to me, let’s say better aerobic train. I’m not an aerobic athlete. I’m obviously here. I wrote a book on science and strength training about building muscle, right. A proponent for this stuff, right. I’m not just working against it, but I’m talking about the importance that should tell you the importance of how I view your health and in just the longevity of life and the quality of that life over a life.
But better aerobic fitness is gonna lead to a lower resting heart rate. Right? If we can cut our heart rate by 10 beats a minute,
Mike: especially if it goes from, I mean, or more, I mean, there are a lot of people I’ve heard people, they go, you know, I was at like 70, probably on average. And now I’m at 50 and I have my little tracker and at some, you know, in the middle of the night, it even goes into the forties.
Austin: extrapolate that across a lifetime. How many beats did you save your heart over the course of a lifespan over the course of 10 years. Right. And that cannot be a negative thing. Cannot. Right. Everything that makes sense to any, anything, right. That can’t be a negative thing, right. That can only be positive outside of it going too low.
And then you’re like, oh God, you know, we have other problems, but then we’re not looking at your overall health or your overall fitness levels as much as like, or how jacked you are versus like this dude, we gotta keep this dude alive.
Mike: You’re not gonna get there. It’s not like, oh, you got two cardiovascularly fit now you’re you are dangerously low,
Yeah. You’re not like Rob low and parks and rec. Right. You’re
Mike: I don’t watch the, I don’t
Austin: watch the show so I don’t get the rest. Okay. He’s it’s such a good role for him. Like he’s this fitness freak that basically has like the resting heart rate of 36 and he runs it, you know, he’s gonna run everywhere.
He works for the government, but if he’s gotta run across town, he’s like, okay, he’s gotta set his, you know, he’s gotta beat his mile time to the next meeting. Yeah. And he’s just the embodiment of, it’s a perfect role for ALO, but it’s he’s the epitome of health in that
Mike: essentially. Nice. Well, I had a couple other things on the agenda, but I think we should save them maybe for a follow up interview because
Austin: love to do that.
Yeah. That’d be great. Yeah. So why
Mike: don’t we just wrap this up here. This was a lot of great information. And again, let’s tell people about the book of people. Obviously you can show it again for you too, but people listening, like the title of it and where they can get it, and then anything else where they can find you on social media, if you’re active there or anything else you want them to know about.
Austin: Absolutely. So the book. Science of strength training. I was trying to pull up the price here for you, cuz it’s a good selling point. So science of strength training, if you’re watching this, is it science of strength training. If you’re not watching it is a beautifully designed book. It’s got a yellow cover.
It’s got like a CGI anatomy illustration on the front. The title’s very
Mike: big, really well done by the way. I’ll add, I was impressed with it. I do. Manuscripts sent to me fairly often. And they’re okay. Some, you know, not to put them down generally, but this one stood out to me. I was like, oh, this, I appreciate the work that went into this.
There’s a lot of, yeah. A lot of good information in here. This is, it reminds me of bit of how do you pronou? I know how to spell it. Yeah. I guess
Austin: delve or delve. Yeah. I don’t know. But so where this really, this book really, you know, the goal of it, where it fits in was somewhere between the strength training anatomy is the book we’re talking about.
If you guys have heard of it by assuming he’s French, right. He’s
Mike: not American, but yeah, that sounds alright. Not American. Okay. But know that it could be, he could be Swiss. He
Austin: be, no, it’s true. I’m so sorry. I don’t wanna offend anybody especially him, but my book, it was kind of the goal of like, how do we take the useful and practicality, usefulness and practicality of strength, training anatomy that has lended its hand to this industry for so long.
It is such a popular book. How can we add that and blend that with other great books, like muscle and strength, pyramids from Helms and, you know, Annie Morgan and Andrew Valdez and, you know, even some of the practicality and usefulness from your books, right. When it comes to like program design and fatigue management and all of these things.
Right. And how do I package that up in a way where. It’s written for the everyday person, right. It’s written for the 99% of people that need to read it. And I’ve gotten a ton of messages from everyone, from your everyday person, your mom, with three kids, to your, you know, your dad to your early on personal trainer or a personal trainer, that’s into their personal training job, but they didn’t necessarily get a formal education and exercise science.
So it’s like, Hey, this is a great resource for you. It’s 1599. It like, that’s the best part to me,
Mike: which with where the CPI is headed. I don’t know. That’s like a gallon of milk now. Yeah.
Austin: so between a gallon of milk or a pound of beef, you’re looking at a book. Something. Yeah.
Mike: A yeah, a steak, a New York strip steak at whole foods is more expensive than that.
Anyway. Yeah. Congratulations on the book. Great job on it. I appreciate the work that went into it. I know what that’s like. So again, if you wanna just give people the title for them to go check it
Austin: out. Science of strength training again. So science of strength training, you can look up on Amazon. It’s the easiest place to find it.
It’s at Barnes and noble target. Walmart. It’s basically everywhere books are sold, which is a benefit of the publisher, I guess not necessarily my doing there, but they got it out there. So I’m very grateful for that. So again, you can find it on Amazon or really wherever books are sold. I do hang out on Instagram.
So if you guys wanna come have a conversation, ask a question, say hello, you can find me on Instagram and that’s at Austin current. You can type in a U S T I N you can type in Austin. It’s the guy with the big beard and me and Mike are talking here and actually just chopped most of it off yesterday.
It used to be like long, long. So I’m going on vacation here and I wanted to chop it off, but why, well, just a little cooler, you know, my face lost weight, you know, it’s a little more agile, you know, no real reason. I just,
Mike: I never I can’t grow anything worthwhile. It grows super fast. At least I haven’t tried.
And it comes in kind of, there’s a point where I’m just like, this doesn’t work also. I tend, I have like a fat face naturally. And I guess maybe if I got enough hair on it, it would but there’s this, there’s a threshold. Yeah. Where I just, my face looks even fatter and I don’t really care.
Austin: But as soon as it starts going outward, it’s like, no, you gotta go.
Mike: So I. And it, and then you have to take care of it and I’m not a,
Austin: yeah, there’s just, there’s a maintenance to it. For sure. You’re a handsome dude. You don’t need it. I’m more or less covering mine up, but so, yeah that’s me on Instagram at Austin current. And then the book actually has an Instagram.
If you guys gonna check it out, or if you, before you buy the book you want to what’s in the book, you know what’s it more about? You can go to at science of strength, training on Instagram and basically get a low down of more information on the book I’m actually teaching on that page. It’s more of an educational platform than a sales one.
Obviously it’s there to drive sales, get people in, interested in the book, but it’s more of an educational thing, creative project for me. So at science of strength training is, are the two places you can find us. And our coaching company is physique development. So that’s at physique development on Instagram or physique development.com is the coaching
Awesome, man. Well, thanks again for taking the time to do this.
Austin: This was great. Thank you so much. thank you so much for the opportunity.