In this podcast, Kyle Hunt and I discuss powerlifting. While I’ve written a bit about powerlifting in the past and done some powerlifting-style training myself, I wanted to get a true expert in the field onto the podcast to chat about it in a bit more detail.
In case you’re not familiar with Kyle, he’s a competitive powerlifter, coach, author, and owner of Hunt Fitness, who’s worked with hundreds of powerlifters and bodybuilders alike. He’s also the host of The Absolute Strength Podcast, which I’ve been a guest on a couple of times, and he’s appeared on Muscle For Life twice before to discuss powerbuilding and bodybuilding for beginners.
Even if you don’t aspire to be the world’s strongest lifter and have no intention of competing at a meet, powerlifting still has something to offer. At the very least, a powerlifting training block can help add some spice to your training life and keep things interesting.
In this interview, Kyle Hunt addresses common misconceptions about powerlifting, technique tweaks, what a powerlifting routine might look like, equipment recommendations, why you should consider participating in a powerlifting meet, meet strategies, and a lot more.
So, if you’re at all interested in trying powerlifting or just want to know more about what it is, this is a podcast you don’t want to miss!
8:07 – Who should do powerlifting?
15:00 – Why you shouldn’t always be grinding out your sets.
17:27 – What are some common misconceptions about powerlifting
24:00 – How much of a difference does technique improvement make? Should you increase frequency?
29:41 – Why are heavy singles beneficial?
33:58 – What role does confidence play in your strength and performance?
35:56 – Attempt selection strategy.
37:15 – Should you go for the heaviest lift on your third attempt?
40:31 – How can someone get started with powerlifting?
43:12 – Why should you consider doing a powerlifting meet?
45:22 – Weight class discussion.
49:12 – Should you do cardio during a powerlifting program?
57:06 – What’s a good program to get started with powerlifting?
59:41 – How do you assess one powerlifting program versus another?
1:04:40 – What type of weightlifting belt do you recommend?
1:06:10 – What shoes do you recommend?
1:15:53 – Where can people 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. Hello, I am Mike Matthews. This is Muscle For Life. Thank you for joining me today. And if you haven’t already, please take a moment to subscribe to the show in whatever app you are listening to me in. For two reasons. One, it’ll make sure that you don’t miss any new episodes. And two, it’ll help me by boosting the rankings of.
All right, In this episode I talk with my buddy Kyle Hunt about power lifting, which is something that I’ve written a little bit about. I’ve spoken a little bit about, I’ve done a bit of, but it is not my beat, so to speak. It is not my Bailey Wick. I, from the beginning, from the first edition of Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, all the way back in 2012.
I’ve abdicated for, I guess you would call it power building, right? It’s a mashup of power lifting. So you have some strength training in there. You have your heavy squatting and your heavy deadlift, bench pressing, overhead pressing, and some body building, some more hypertrophy focused work. And that is still how I train today, and that is still how bigger Leaner, Stronger works.
I’m releasing a new fourth edition later this year, and I’ve tweaked the program a bit, but it hasn’t changed that much from the beginning, at least in its core principles. The big moving parts have not changed beyond Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, which is the sequel to Bigger, Leaner, Stronger. The book and program for intermediate and advanced weightlifters is similar to bigger, leaner, stronger, just a bit harder, a bit more volume, a bit heavier weights, so it’s even more power building ish because the weights get even heavier.
You’re doing twos, for example. You’re doing some AM wraps as many reps as possible, and it’s even more body building ish because you are doing more volume for your smaller muscle groups. You’re doing more volume for your isolation exercises, and you’re working in higher rep ranges up to 10 to 12 reps per set, for example.
And so I thought I would bring somebody else on the show to talk about power lifting somebody who not only understands the theory of it, which I understand fairly well, but somebody who has done a lot of it and coached a lot of it. And so that is Kyle, and in case you are not familiar with him, he is a competitive power lifter.
He’s a coach, he’s an author, and he has worked with hundreds and hundreds of power lifters and bodybuilders. So he understands. Both sides of the training spectrum, so to speak. And Kyle also has his own podcast called The Absolute Strength Podcast, and he has had me on a couple of times and he has also been on Muscle for Life a couple of times before to talk about power building and body building for beginners.
So in this episode, we complete the trifecta of topics that he likes the most, power building, body building. Power lifting and in case you are thinking that this episode might not be for you because you don’t really care to get super fat and super strong and you don’t really care to go compete at a meet, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised because you don’t have to get super fat to get super strong.
You can stay lean, you can have your abs, and you might like the change in routine. Sometimes it is just fun to do something different and as Kyle talks about in this interview, many people he has worked with have. Pleasantly surprised at how much fun they had at a power lifting meet. And that wasn’t necessarily because they did really well.
Some people did well, some people didn’t do so well. But even the people who didn’t do so well still had fun. They still were really happy that they did it, and in some cases they wanted to continue doing it. And so in this interview, Kyle is going to be talking about common misconceptions about power lifting technique tweaks, what a power lifting routine might look like.
He is going to give some equipment recommendations. And he’s going to pitch you on why you should consider doing a meet and talk a little bit about meet strategies and more. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one on one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and all circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought possible, and we can do the same for you.
We make getting fitter, leaner, and stronger paint by numbers simple by carefully managing every aspect of your training and your diet for you. Basically, we take out all of the guesswork, so all you have to do is follow the plan and watch your body change day after day, week after week and month after month.
What’s more, we’ve. That people are often missing just one or two crucial pieces of the puzzle, and I’d bet a shiny shekel, it’s the same with you. You’re probably doing a lot of things right, but dollars to donuts, there’s something you’re not doing correctly or at all that’s giving you the most grief.
Maybe it’s your calories or your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise selection. Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe you’re not progressively overloading your muscles or maybe it’s something else. And whatever it is, here’s what’s important. Once you identify those one or two things you’re missing once you figure it out.
That’s when everything finally clicks, that’s when you start making serious progress. And that’s exactly what we do for our clients. To learn more, head over to www.by legion.com. That’s b y legion.com/v ip and schedule your free consultation call, which by the way is not a high pressure sales call. It’s really just a discovery call where we get to know you better and see if you’re a good fit for the service.
And if you’re not for any reason, we will be able to share resources that’ll point you in the right direction. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to see more of it, and if you also want to finally stop spinning your wheels and make more progress in the next few months than you did in the last few years, check out my VIP coaching [email protected] legion.com/vip.
Hey Kyle, it’s Ben a bit.
Kyle: Yeah, man, it’s been what probably at least a year.
Mike: Probably. Yeah. Yeah. Occasionally I go back through episodes over the last year or so and see it’s mostly some of it is who do I like talking to? But then the other part of it is what episodes tend to do well.
Yeah. And the couple that we’ve done have done well, I like talking with you.
Kyle: Here we. Yeah, it’s always fun. It I get mixed up because it’s like, all right, so I’ve been on your podcast at least two or three times, and I know you’ve been on my podcast two or three times, and they all blend together.
Mike: Yeah. I know. When did we talk about what and where was I? Yep. Yeah. So anyways, thanks for taking the time to, to come back and to share your wisdom regarding power lifting. That’s what I thought we should talk about, because this is something that I’ve written a little bit about.
I’ve spoken a little bit about, I’ve done a little bit of over the years, but not like you have. I’ve stuck to my I guess it’s, I guess it’s just what I prefer. I like the power building more, like what we talked about last time. I like more of a hybrid between strength training and then body building work, just because I guess I just tend to like those workouts and it aligns more with my goals in terms of my physique, and there’s not much left that, that is gonna change one way or another. But for example, over the years if I were gonna be doing a very power lifting centric type of training, then my lower body probably would be more developed probably more than my upper body.
, which is typical if you just do a lot of pure strength work. But anyways, I wanted to get you on the show to talk about this because you understand not just the theory and the science of it, but you’ve done a lot of it. And so for people who Would like to give power lifting a go, or who maybe have not thought about it, but who have been training a certain way for a long time.
And especially people listening. If you are an intermediate or an advanced weightlifter and you’ve done a lot of training, like what I’ve done, for example, and you’re at that point where you’ve accepted this is about it in terms of muscle for sure, and you’ve probably gained most of your strength and now just enjoying your workouts becomes more important than when you were newer.
Because when you were newer, it was fun just to make progress, even if the workouts themselves were. Were not very interesting. It was interesting to add weight to the bar every week and then every other week, and then even every month, right? But when that’s no longer happening, I think it, it makes more sense to give a bit more weight to enjoying your training simply for its own sake.
And so if you are currently doing the same thing you’ve been doing for a long time, maybe power lifting, at least for a training block or two could be a fun way to mix it.
Kyle: No, absolutely. Actually, I see a lot of clients that are, they fit that mold. Exactly. They’ve been doing more just like general strength training or more geared towards like body building style training for a long time.
They’re natural, so they’ve they’ve reached their point where they’re not gonna see a ton more progress and training just, I don’t know, it got a little stale, maybe not quite as fun. And then we jump ’em over into a power lifting specific program. Not, it’s not like it’s black and white.
Once you say, Oh I’m joining the dark side now I can only do power lifting. It’s Hey, I just start drinking that gallon of milk day . It’s step one. It’s not black and white oh, I’m a powerlifter now. It’s just, where’s the donuts? It’s you run a couple power team blocks.
And what’s interesting is I actually find some clients actually quite a. I actually see some physique improvements as well, and I think a lot of it’s just enjoyment factor. It’s like for the first time in years, they’re like, Oh man, I’m like looking forward to really looking forward to getting to the gym.
Mike: Yep. They’re looking up, not wanting to leave, where Yeah. Oh, my workouts, I guess I have to leave now.
Kyle: Yeah, so they’re really enjoying the change of pace and because of that, hey, you’re enjoying it, you’re putting a little bit more effort into it. E even outside of the gym, you’re probably like, Oh, hey, I have these numbers.
I want to get to. What can, Oh, maybe I should be a little bit stricter outta my nutrition, or maybe I should get a bit more sleep. Yeah. Get to bed an hour earlier, or, whatever. Then you see a little bit of. Physique improvement without even trying. I It’s Hey, we’re shooting for numbers, but you’re looking better too.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve experienced a little bit of that for the last two years or so. Now I’ve, my training has been it’s basically the program is in a book of mine called Beyond Bigger Lean Stronger which is the sequel to Bigger, Leaner, Stronger. And it’s similar in that you’re still lifting heavy weights, doing a lot of compound movements, but it’s a bit more volume.
So it’s a bit more of a challenge as opposed to 10 to 12 hard sets per major, most group per week. It’s up to probably 16, 15, 16 or so. Yeah. And then the periodization is a little bit different. It’s double progression on the secondary, and then it’s linear on the primary and that, that switch over to linear has been.
Fun just cuz it’s something that’s new. And I do find that I, and this is the case for many people. Now I’ve heard from many people who have read the book and done the program that foreign, intermediate, and advanced weightlifter. It does seem that linearly. Periodizing, the primary exercises tends to work better than trying to only use double progression with them.
And I talk about that in the book. But simply changing my workouts, making them a bit more challenging, periodizing them in a way that I feel like I could make a little bit better progress has just made them more fun. And so there’s value just in that factor. Yeah.
Kyle: And plus with the big lifts, big compound lifts, it’s easier to linear progress them, if you’re using like a, doing like a dumbbell sideways, like you’re not gonna be able to just add five pounds to that weekly. So like a double progression really works great for most accessory movements, just for that nature alone. But with squats, deadlifts, bench presses the main powerlifting or main compound movements, since you’re using more absolute load.
Five pound increase is a smaller percentage. So you can see those linear progressions, relatively easier.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. I also found that paying closer attention to reps in reserve and tracking that Yeah. Has helped a lot. And I suppose if you were to combine that with. Double progression.
It still could work with the big lifts, but there is more room for error. And I find that with the right linear progression, I can ensure that I am achieving progressive overload and I don’t have to, I just have to think about getting my four or getting my six or getting my eight and paying attention to how many good reps I have left so I can note it down.
As opposed to when you get deeper into a set and then you’re making that judgment call, Do I go for that next rep? Because if I’m squatting, I’m sure the same way, and this is something I’d recommend to everyone listening with my big movements I’m looking for two-ish. I would rather see two to three good reps left in my first set than one to two.
If it’s one to two, that probably means the weight is too heavy and by my third or fourth set, it’s like a zero where I’m grinding out my final rep. Yep. And I am okay doing that. Once every few months when I’m seeing how strong I am, I’m doing an AM wrap, that’s fine. I’m willing to push close to failure.
But for my regular training I want to I like to see one to two, at least one, but one to two good reps left in my, let’s say my fourth and final set. And so with double progression, it’s just a bit trickier because you’re now on the fly having to make a judgment call. How many good reps do I have left and should I go for another one or should I rack it?
And not to say that’s difficult and you can’t do it, but it’s certainly more difficult when the weights are heavy and you’re deep into a set, your legs are on fire. It is, I’d say less cognitively demanding, so to speak, to just, Okay, I’m going for my four or my six or my eight and I’m gonna get it.
And unless of course I get to the point where I’m like, Okay, I’m supposed to get eight, I’m at seven. I. And maybe I could get one more. The weight’s a little bit too heavy, so I think there’s something to be said for that as well.
Kyle: Yeah. And plus with the bigger lifts, you’re playing a little bit with fire.
When you’re constantly pushing close to failure with accessory movements, you’re not, so there’s just more room for error with accessory movements on a complex for a squat, for example, or a deadlift. Like you don’t really wanna mess up much, actually I had a conversation with a kid the other day at the gym, and.
I was trying to explain it in a way cuz he, he was like, Hey, can you, hey bro, can you come spot me bench? And I was spotting him on bench and literally like every rep was like, everything he had and it was, he was going for three and of course the second and third I’d help him like, listen look.
What you’re doing is you’re testing your strength, you wanna build your strength. I go your reps when you’re training a bench, a squat, or a deadlift, like for the most part, your reps should look clean. You shouldn’t be grinding out a ton of reps. And like you said, yeah, occasionally when you’re doing like an AM rep set or a little bit of testing or something, or maybe it the last week before a D load or something.
Mike: Yeah. It’s okay to have a set on a squat bench or deadlift or something where sometimes it happens to me, it’s my final set and I’m like, all right, is that’s a little bit harder than I would like it to be, but it wasn’t my first set.
Kyle: Yeah. But if you’re grinding out like all your sets for the main compound movements, You’re probably just doing more damage than good.
You’re testing your strength and not really building it because, there’s a, there’s technique component to lifting too, especially with the big compound lifts. And when we get into paring, we’ll probably talk about that. But the idea that each set has to be like your absolute limit is probably the one thing that held me back early on when I started doing power thing, because I came from the body building world too, where it’s like, Hey, every set, you gotta take it right to failure.
And it’s. Whether it’s squatting, benching, whatever, like every sets go hard or go home. And then when I started powering and really understanding, okay, what’s good programming or what’s, how many reps and reserves should I have on these movements? And scaling it back, a touch by technique improved, and then I was able to make those linear progressions a lot easier.
Mike: That’s a good segue into talking about power lifting, because one of the little notes I had that I wanted to hear your thoughts on are common misconceptions about power lifting. And I think that’s one is that, It is an extremely intense form of tree. Not that it’s not but , that power lifters are, they’re the ones who they squat every time until their nose bleeds, I was gonna say, until their eyes bleed.
Yeah. The smelling salts and freaking out and, racking the bar and wobbling around and stuff. And smart power lifting, at least for everyday power lifters. Is not anything like that. Yeah.
Kyle: I think a lot of the misconceptions about power lifting, and this is it’s actually probably a great way to start to dig in, is just defining that.
Power lifting is actually almost like two sports because you have equipped power lifting, so power lifting that wears squat suits and bench pressure shirts. And then you have raw power lifting, which is what’s more popular now. But back in the day, it was actually the opposite. Equipped power lifting was power lifting.
So when I was in high school, when I first started lifting weights, when I thought of power lifting, I thought of like a 300 pound. Big fat, super heavyweight dude who was training at Westside Barbell. But mind you, that was all the information that was really available. I was like, Okay, that’s power lifting.
It’s, huge guys in, in these weird suits and squat and all these crazy weights and headbutt in the bar and shit. And that’s what power, what I thought paring was. But really, for one paring is a weight class sport, which I would’ve never assumed like I, Cause I, I grew up wrestling and I remember actually being in high school and we were, bunch, the wrestling team was in, in the gym.
And I remember thinking to myself, I’m like, Man, cuz you know we’re all training pretty hard. I’m like, it would be cool if there was a sport that was kinda set up like wrestling, you had weight classes and you just wait in and then did some type of competition to see who was like the strongest for the weight class.
I’m like, Oh, that would be really cool. That really, that’s what power lifting is. Powering is weight class sport. You weigh in and then you max out squat, bench and deadlift, and then the total comes together. So bringing it back to why I brought up equipped lifting is I think a lot of the misconceptions around Oh, powering is about gaining a bunch of weight and just trying to be as big as possible.
Part of that was from equipped lifting one because they were big guys anyway. So if there’s once you get past super heavyweight, you pretty much, there’s no weight classes, just try to get as big as possible. Then plus, once you get into a squat suit or a bench press shirt, you wanna try to fill it out.
So actually getting bigger helps you. You know what I mean? But with raw power lifting with weight, classic, especially guys under two 20, go look at the best power lifters under two 20. Like they look like they could do a diet and probably compete in a body building show, or at least a men’s physique show or something.
They have good physique. So I think. If you’re have in your head like, Oh, I’m gonna do power lifting, and it’s like we said in the beginning, it’s Oh, time to get out the donuts and gallon of milk. It’s, that’s not what it needs to be. It’s really, And especially even like when you’re training in the off season, like your training isn’t gonna be drastically different, like your training in the off season.
It would probably look more like power building than anything. Kinda like how we talked about with the last episode, last time I was on, really in your off season when you don’t have a meet scheduled, that’s probably what you’re doing. You’re probably going in doing maybe a heavy single or semi heavy single on a squat, bench deadlift, doing a couple back off sets.
And then for the rest of it, it’s more just hypertrophy accessory work. Now when you get ready for a meet, that’s when you say, Okay, now I gotta meet in eight weeks. Let me start to focus a little bit more on the main movements. Let me throw a little bit more volume towards those and put a little bit more, kinda like trained for the test, so to speak.
Yeah. Specificity. Yeah, specificity. That’s when it becomes more important.
Mike: And so the idea. What I’m gathering is the idea is in the off season you need to keep training with heavy weights. I That, that is a specificity point. But then you also are working to hopefully gain a little bit of muscle in the off season as well, because that of course is what drives strength particularly in experienced weightlifters.
And so if you can gain a little bit of muscle by doing enough volume and training like a, in a power building type of way. Yep. Then the idea is hopefully you can calibrate that new muscle to the heavy weights and get a little bit more performance out of it.
Kyle: Yeah, absolutely. I Really when we’re talking about getting stronger, how are we gonna get stronger?
Building muscle has creates a greater potential to be stronger. You have, that’s why there is weight classes. That’s why the more muscle you have generally the stronger you’re gonna be. Then there’s also the technique element, and that’s why specificity is important, is you get better at the movements, so you don’t necessarily have to build any more muscle.
You get better at the movements, you can also increase how much you can lift as well.
Mike: How much do you think that matters with experienced weightlifters? Take someone like me who, Let’s see. Currently I’m benching twice a week. Flat bench on, on one session, four sets, and then incline on the other four sets and doing some dumble stuff.
I’ve never deadlifted more than once a week, and I’ve done a lot of deadlifting over the years. And my one RM is currently in the high 400 s, like maybe four 80 or so so decent. I I weigh 1 93 to 1 95. I’ve always done about three to four sets of deadlifting per week, but just in one session.
And I, I have squatted more than once a week. In the past when I was doing, I believe it was 5 31 , Actually the way that was set up, it may have been once a week, I don’t remember, but for a long time I’ve squatted once a week simply because with the amount of deadlifting that I’ve done instead of, you’ll see in some strength programs, it’s just one set of deadlifts per week to allow you to squat.
Maybe it’s two times or even three times per week. It’s a bit harder to do that with three or four sets of deadlifts in one session. And I just have always wanted to train my lower body twice a week and have. Specific lower body session, and then this, the deadlifting serves as maybe it just serves as additional lower body volume.
And that has worked well for me, again, for my goals. But let’s say I were to get into power lifting, which I think the next once you answer this question, next thing we should talk about is how to do that. , how would you recommend people get into it? Do you think that by increasing the frequency and it may, it would increase probably the volume as well on the key exercises.
Do you think that the technique improvements that would come with that would make a significant difference in my totals, just given where I’m at?
Kyle: You’re a unique case. Actually, you’re probably the, a very similar case to a lot of people listening. Like you, you’ve been training for a long time, probably a little bit longer than most people listening, but you’ve been training a long time, built a lot of muscle.
So for you, you’ve been doing a lot of power building style training too. So you have the. The muscle. So we would say, Okay, this is where kind of training for the test is where I think you’d get a lot out of it. Now, specifically to the lifts, like bench press we see tends to respond pretty well to frequency.
So two to three times a week, just the actual like competition specific squat, usually two to three times a week as well. And then deadlift deadlifts kinda like the wild card. You sometimes see people deadlifting quite frequently, but there’s a lot of successful powerlifters that only deadlift once a week.
So that we probably wouldn’t see a ton from increasing frequency there. And part of increasing frequency is the technique is cuz because there’s two different techniques too. So when we talk about technique, we talk about like black and white. Okay. Is technique, is it safe technique?
Is it proper technique? Like for the bench press for example, you see someone in the gym if their goal’s just general strength or building muscle. All right? Are they keeping their butt on the bench? Are they using a full range of motion? Things like that. And then there’s power lifting technique.
So I’d say, Okay, let’s take your bench Mike, and let’s say. Now you’re gonna do a powering competition that’s say, okay, maybe let’s change your grip a little bit. Let’s try getting you a little bit wider. Let’s try to get you up on your traps a little bit. Let’s use your feet to, to drive your traps into the bench, which is going to drive your sternum up and create a little bit of an arch.
So now we can lower the range of motion a little bit. So we’re gonna tweak your technique for the test for, maxing out on the bench. And then we’re gonna throw a little bit more frequency on it. And I think more frequency is really just more practice and more volume. We see the same thing when we’re talking about frequency in terms of building muscle too.
Initially I think a lot of people thought, and I think the research even probably showed like, okay, frequency is, related to building more muscle. But now we’re saying, Okay, maybe the frequency is just a better avenue to get more volume. For building muscle, this becomes necessary at something.
Yeah. Yeah. The more volume you do, it becomes necessary to do more frequency. think that the same can almost be said from a powering standpoint, you’re gonna do more volume, not for building muscle, but more volume geared towards strength on the power lifts. You almost have to do more for frequency.
You know what I mean? So if I’m saying, Hey Mike, I want you to do 12 hard sets of bench this week. You’re not doing that in one session. You’re probably not even doing that in two sessions. You probably have to do three session sessions, so that’s kinda where the frequency comes into play in regards to the power thing.
It’s like how much hard. Training do we need on the main lifts? And then how can we maneuver that throughout the week so you’re able to get successful sets in, yeah.
Mike: Yeah. And that’s a good point on the technique. A good example with the bench press that it wouldn’t, I would say it’s, it probably doesn’t even make sense for someone, I would say, even like me a lifestyle bodybuilder.
train the bench press like a power lifter. Yeah. Unless they were gonna go. Do something with it related to power lifting, right? Yep. Because if we’re just trying to continue to build muscle, hopefully continue to gain strength, then you could probably say you actually want the larger range of motion, for example.
And yeah, absolutely. And then there’s something also to be said, there, there would be there would be some low hanging fruit for people like me, but by incorporating the heavier stuff, like I haven’t done, I do some fairly heavy work, so it wouldn’t be foreign to me. But I do twos, the heaviest that I go is twos with I guess the heaviest actually is the am wrap.
But, so this is after four months of training. I’m using 95% of what was my one rep max four months prior. At the beginning of the cycle. Exactly. And that number may have. Moved up a little bit actually, cuz what I find, and this is something I’ve made a note, if I make an update to, to that book, it’s a minor point, but I think it’s useful, is what I’ve noticed after doing this for a couple of years is if I have, let’s say four sets of it, it could be six right, or whatever on a big lift.
And my first set feels really easy, like three or four good reps left and I’m ending with two or three good reps left, then I think it’s appropriate to a add five pounds to that. Just because you could make an argument that doing sub max there is a place for that. But given how the program is set up, I think it makes more sense to just make it a bit more difficult.
But regardless, I haven’t done a true. I haven’t like, put a hundred, 105% on the bar and really gone for it in a long time. And so that’s also something that requires skill, right? No matter how big and strong you are or how good you are at an exercise, if you haven’t done that before or in a long time, that takes practice.
Kyle: Yeah, that’s actually a really good point. I’m glad you brought that up cuz just incorporating single. Just singles alone, sub maximal singles. So we’re not even talking like maxing out, but just sub maximal singles is actually probably the biggest benefit that you would get. Someone like you specifically, because mean you don’t train signals and you don’t have any reason to.
You don’t. That’s one thing that your average, kinda like lifestyle bodybuilder probably wouldn’t need to do at all. Cuz incre, even increasing your one wrap max isn’t necessarily going to make your physique any better. But if you’re gonna get into parsing, hey, it’s a sport on one wrap maxes.
So every time we do a relatively heavy single, we’re practicing for the test. And when we talk about specificity, we talk about specificity per the exercise obviously. So we were like, okay, we wanna be specific for the bench press. We gotta do bench press, we wanna be specific for the squat.
We gotta do the squat. But then another layer of specific. In regards to powerlifting is being specific close to what you’re gonna do in paring, So that’s heavy singles. So if you’re doing sets of 10 on bench, yes. It’s more specific than a cable crossover, but what’s even more specific than sets a 10 on bench?
Mike: A heavy single. And when I say it’s very hard to know, if you’re just training in, I would say even sixes, eights, tens, twelves, and then you’re like, All right, I’m gonna go do a, I’m gonna go do a heavy single I want it to be maybe one, maybe I could do one more, or even a zero, like almost a grinder.
And you go to a one rep max calculator it’s probably going to be inaccurate. It’s gonna be wrong one way or another. Either you’re just not gonna get it, you’re gonna miss the set, or it’s going to be a two or three good reps left kind. Yeah.
Kyle: Yeah. So doing, I guess I should define heavy singles. So really when I say that kind of the sweet spot tends to be like an A R P E.
So something you could do for three reps, probably. Is like 90%, roughly. That’s a good spot. Maybe a little bit less occasionally. So dropping down to a six and a half or seven. So I’d be probably like a 87% if we had to put a percent to one rm. And then occasionally going up to a nine, so a 95%.
So kinda living in that range, right around 90% plus their minus is, and doing singles with that. And some people will hear that and they’ll say, Oh doing a single with 90%, that’s not too hard. And it’s not really meant to. Super difficult. But that, that’s still pretty challenging and that’s close enough to really all you need to get that practice in.
So then if you’re used to doing that and you’re still doing, heavy triples fours, five sixes, So then when we have to build up to a test, you’re like I’ve been doing 90%, I’ve done that every week or every other week for months. What’s 10 more percent? You’re gonna know too, You’re gonna say I can, Yeah, I know where I’m at.
And if you haven’t done that, like you said you’re probably not gonna know. But then you’re also not gonna have that practice with the pretty, and there’s a psychological component to this that’s she’s gonna ask.
Mike: Sounds like definitely.
Kyle: There’s definitely a psychological component to this, to where.
And I at, with a lot of my clients with powerful things specifically, is if we get ’em confident with 90% and we can almost like sneak that weight up too in almost like a step fashion where it’s let’s say 90% is three 15 on the bench for you and you just go in, you hit a single with three 15 in mind.
This isn’t max, this is like 90%. So it’s like I could wake you up in the middle of the night and say, Mike, you got five minutes to warm up. You should be able to get it. Like it, It’s probably point . Yeah. It’d probably be hard for you, but you could get it. You’re not gonna be like, Oh shit.
There’s no way in hell I’m gonna do this. That’d be probably 98 or 99%. So hitting singles with 90% you get very comfortable with that. I could just, we could make it three 20, then 3 25. And pretty soon you’re just kinda hitting that for singles. And then we get you set up to where you’re gonna like peak for a meat or something and you’re like, dang, I’ve already been doing 90 to 95% for singles for a while.
My old max was 3 35. Why I’ve been doing 3 25 for singles. And it’s easy. So what’s a little bit more,
Mike: And does your confidence in your ability to do that, does that factor into your performance? I’m thinking of golf, right? This is something I don’t put very much time into, but maybe my next life I’ll I’ll play more golf but there’s a psychological component to it in that, what I’ve noticed is if I don’t feel comfortable hitting a shot, there’s a fair chance it’s just not gonna go well.
Okay. And if I do feel comfortable, if I feel like. I understand what my body needs to do. I’ve done this before. I’m just more likely to hit a good shot.
Kyle: Oh, yeah. I If you walk up to the bar and you don’t think you’re gonna get it very rarely are you gonna be surprised in a good way.
You know what I mean? Yeah. You’re not gonna be like, Hey, I didn’t think I was, occasionally that happens. But for the most part you wanna walk in thinking, Oh shit, like this is very confident in this weight that’s on the bar because I’ve done close to it. We’re the same. And that kind of goes into temp selection too.
Sometimes when I’m talking to clients before we get ready for a meet, I just wanna make sure whatever we have for our planned third attempt for the platform, it’s something that they are very confident. Because I, I can go by what their numbers are saying in the program and what I think should be their third and I’ll tell that too, ’em, I’ll explain that.
But I want them to be so confident in that number that maybe, and for some people they have to have hit it before, which might, may sound interesting to some people thinking power, no, you’re going to max out and test. Sometimes you’re gonna go onto the competition floor and then hit something you never hit before.
But sometimes you’re gonna hit something you’ve hit before because at the end of the day, It’s not always the strongest lifter who wins, it’s who makes the most attempts, so you have three attempts for the squat, three attempts for the bench, and three attempts for the deadlift. And the strategy to attempt selection is you can never go down.
So whatever you put in for your opener, whether you hit it or you don’t, your second attempt has to either be the same weight or heavier.
Mike: And is that, this is a stupid question, but is that a rule or is that a strategic thing?
Kyle: Yeah, that’s a rule. Yeah, that’s a rule. So it’s, you can’t, so let’s say you open on a squat at 4 0 5, you miss it.
You’ll say, Oh, you can’t go, Oh let me try 365. They’re like, No, it’s 4 0 5 again. Or you can go up, and it works for meets, it just makes the meets go smoother, so you don’t have people bumping all around. But then it does throw a little bit of strategy in there as well.
So a lot of times, you’re for your third lift. So that’s, opener, second attempt third attempt. That’s gonna be your heaviest lift. Obviously, have to go up each time. But if you miss your third or you can stay the same. Yeah, you can stay the same. Yeah, you can stay the same if you miss so let’s say you miss your third, then your, the lift that counts as your second.
Yeah. So you might be stronger than somebody, but if you miss all your thirds and they hit all their thirds, they might have, all your thirds might have been heavier attempts than theirs, but you missed them. So there is some strategy to actually, you wanna make your lifts.
Mike: Do you find it makes more sense to go for your heaviest lift on your third or on your second?
I would assume the first is get something up feel good, okay. And then go heavier.
Kyle: But why, out of curiosity, why heaviest on the third rather than the second? Yeah really we set it up. Partly because like I said, you can never go down. So if you go your heaviest on your second and you miss it, you don’t really have A or you can’t really maneuver.
Yeah. So your opener, you wanna, and really this kind of ties into what we were talking about. Generally speaking, your opener is gonna be roughly about 90% of what your goal is for the day, or something you can do for about three reps because you just wanna get something on the board, you don’t wanna miss that, cuz then it’s gonna screw up your whole day.
Yeah. So you wanna get something on the board. And then really with your second is you’re looking at something roughly around 95%. But really, don’t really necessarily think about it in terms of percentages. Just think of what do I need to get up to my goal? So it’s kinda like a stepping stone.
Yeah. But it’s heavy enough to where a lot of times your second attempt, the way it falls it’s something you’ve done in the gym before, but it’s approach, it’s probably pretty close to the best you’ve ever done, So it’s kinda Hey, we’re gonna put something on the board that is very close to your best ever.
So it’s a decent fallback option, but it also is a stepping stone for you to hit your third. Cause you always want to go into it. And this is how I explain it to clients, because, this is, that’s a really good question cause it’s something that people bring up all the time.
Mike: Like, why don’t I just go for certain, they may be thinking with fatigue, the thing like I’ve already done two, but Yeah. Yeah. Practice may not be enough to really impair the third.
Kyle: Yeah. Again you kinda wanna set it up to where you, you’re banking on your third, like you’re going into it with, Hey, my planned third is what I’m gonna hit. You know what I mean?
You’re not thinking if I miss it, Again, it kinda goes back to the confidence, like if you’re setting it up, like having a fallback option, really you’re, the third’s probably just too heavy. You want to look at the numbers and the third I’ll hit. Yeah. And getting into the weeds a little bit, but I think it’s helps add to the conversation is a lot of times when we’re doing a temp selection, the way I like to do it is you set your openers pretty strict.
Like it’s Hey, rough, it’s, roughly 90% pretty set in stone. Like whatever your opener is, that’s what we’re going with. And then based on how the opener feels, we can have a range for the second. So we might have our planned second, but then if your opener felt amazing, then we might have a little bit more of an aggressive option for you.
But then if your opener felt shit, damn, that was heavier than I thought, we’ll have a little bit more of a conservative option for you for your second, and the same for your third. So then you hit your second and you’re like, Okay, that felt easy. Then, okay, we have an aggressive option for you.
Kinda like a YOLO option. , everything’s going well. go with a big number, Or you hit your second and you’re like, Damn, that was like all I had. Okay, we’ll just add a little bit more. We’ll just try to tack a little bit extra on.
Mike: Makes sense. And for people wanting to get started in power lifting, where should they go?
Do you have it could be programs where you’re like, Hey, I know you have. Programs and feel free to, to tell people about them or maybe some overarching principles that they should think with, again, speaking to people who have probably done a fair amount of squatting, debting and deadlifting and bench pressing over the years, but not in a power lifting context, yeah.
Kyle: Yeah. So I, I think the first thing, if you’re interested in power lifting, I would try to find a meet that’s close just to go check it out. And you don’t have to spend all day, don’t even, don’t even plan on spending very long. Just go and check it out. Go and spend an hour or two hour, and just see, check the landscape or see what you’re getting yourself into.
And a lot of times when you do that, you realize, okay, this is a little bit different than what I thought. These are a lot of, you’re, it’s just gonna seem like a lot of people who you’re, you probably see in the gym, like similar people who are just interested in lifting weights. Yeah, we’re wearing singlets, but they’re out there on the platform just.
Trying to squat, benching down this and know what else you’re gonna see. And this is probably the biggest benefit of it, is you’re gonna see people that you can relate to. You’ll say, Oh, that guy’s about my size, or that girl’s about my size. Oh. And she’s lifting about the same amount of weight as I can lift.
I think sometimes people build it up in their head like, like they, they’re not gonna belong.
Mike: Yeah. You’re gonna go when everyone’s like the world champion, jacked and then .
Kyle: Yeah. Just Oh, how am I gonna compete? Someone’s, they’re gonna bench three times more than me.
It’s no the world champion might, but he’s not gonna be there. It’s gonna be, you’re gonna go against people who,
Mike: Oh, sorry.
Kyle: Go ahead. I was gonna say, you’re gonna be going against people who are probably in the same stage of lifting as you’re at. There’ll be some, a little bit better, some a little bit less.
Mike: And would you, I would, would you urge people to who, who were not thinking with competing. They were just thinking, Oh, maybe I’ll just train. No, I’ll do a training block of power lifting. , would you urge them to consider compete again? Go to a meet, check it out. And I’m guessing that you would but why?
Kyle: Yeah. Generally if people have. Of course, for some people it’s Hey, I have like I have absolutely zero interest in competing. I just wanna do a little bit of strength work for them. Okay, cool. Yeah, we’ll just do a little bit of power thing. But it’s really who I’m talking about or talking to.
Here are the people who are like I might wanna do a powering me.
Mike: I, I might, And for people who are, let’s say they’re on the fence or they’re leaning toward, No, why should they?
Kyle: Yeah. So biggest reason that I think is I like to put dates on the calendar for people. I think whether that’s why, like transformation contests are so cool, or just, Hey, you have a vacation, here’s a date you wanna get ready for, because it’s a endpoint, It’s Hey, I’m gonna going to do this, and then there’s a definitive endpoint.
That’s the date, that’s on the calendar, that’s what I’m training for. And then the benefit, you have two, two benefits here. One is you can push hard right up until the date, but then the date’s over too. So at that point you can change your mind. You’re like did the competition, it wasn’t for me, or, Hey, it was for me.
And I think. Having that singular focus too is just, it’s probably the best way to take the next level in your training is just you put a date on the calendar, you committed to it, you’re gonna do a power meet. And the cool thing about power lifting different than body building is you don’t have to change your training all that much.
You don’t have to change your diet all that much. And it’s not gonna negatively affect you. If you do a body building show, it’s like you have to diet for an extended period of time. Get yourself super lean, deprive yourself it’s gonna change your social life quite a bit. You’re already in the gym.
Your social life won’t have to change much for paring. You have to give up a Saturday , which, as long as you have that Saturday free, you should be good to.
Mike: If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought possible.
And we can do the same for you. And it’s a good point with the diet too. You can Yeah. Do what you’re doing right now, so long as the, you want to, and so long as your body weight, if that class makes sense to you. If I think about myself, maybe I’m a bit leaner than you’d want to be, just because I’m not super lean.
But what’s your body weight right now? 1 93, 1, it’s 1 93 to 1 95. And body fat, it’s hard to really know, because cuz every form of measuring is gonna be inaccurate. But I’m fairly lean, probably somewhere around 10% body fat. Yeah. I’m lean enough to where it, it gets in the, If I were willing to get a bit fatter, I would be a bit stronger.
Kyle: I would you’re at the point where actually where you’d be perfect if, like the weight class was exactly what you. Like where you’re walking. Cause really that’s what I try to do a lot of times with with clients is we try to find a weight class where they can sit comfortably.
Yeah. But be relatively lean, but sit comfortably at the weight class. Yeah. Especially for the lighter people. Pretty much anybody under two 20 or something is like, where can we find like a good set point for you where you’re pretty close to the weight class, maybe like a couple pounds over and you can eat good, maintain relatively good body composition, just kinda hang out there.
So if you were like, if you’re like 1 93 or something, 1 95, then if there was a weight class, which was one 90, that’d be like perfect for you. Sure. Yeah. But there’s not so you probably so in your case I would say like depending on the organization, there’s either 180 1 or 180 3.
We probably wouldn’t want to cut you there.
Mike: So you’d probably that would be very lean.
Kyle: There’s no, I wouldn’t, you could do. And this is whole another discussion. You could do some water cutting, which is I always, but even that,
Mike: I don’t think we’re gonna get 10 pounds outta it.
Kyle: Yeah. Especially on your first meat. You would never want to do that. That’s, I never recommend cutting weight for a first meat or even like your first couple meats. It just, it doesn’t make sense and it never really works out well. It’s something you wanna do when you’re experienced.
So for someone like you, I’d probably just say, Hey, depending on the organization, the weight class would be like 1 98 or 2 0 5. Not ideal gallon, one of milk a day, but just I’ll probably don’t even worry about it. Just like you’re underweight just exactly how you normally are.
Don’t even worry about the weight class. And the cool thing is you won’t have to worry about the weight class at all. So the weighing in factor will be zero stress. You’re just, you’re under, just eat, You can eat normal and just weigh in and cool and just lift. So it wouldn’t be optimized.
Your body comes, wouldn’t be optimized for the weight class. Yeah. But for your first meter or two, it’s not that big of a deal.
Mike: Yeah. Clo close enough to where I could probably do. Okay. And we’re also speaking to anybody listening who’s in a similar boat where if you’re pretty, pretty lean. And you like where you’re at, you like how you look, You still have good workouts, and if the prospect of gaining, let’s say 10 pounds to compete in a meet is not very palatable, then it sounds like what you’re saying is that’s okay. Just know that Yeah, you’re not optimized for the meat, but it doesn’t mean you’re gonna go out there and make a fool of yourself.
Kyle: Yeah. Cause you, you won’t it’s, and a lot of times it’s, when you see the weight class, it’s okay, you’re gonna be a little undersized, but it’s not like everybody is like cutting weight to make that weight class.
It’s not like it’s a UFC fight where everyone’s, coming in exactly at yeah. You watch like the weigh-ins for the ufc,
Mike: they’re not getting paid millions of dollars to do this
Kyle: Yeah. So they’re just, and the other thing too is sometimes, and I think this is a mistake too, is people will say, Oh, I’m like five or six pounds under the weight class.
I’ll just eat whatever I want and just like actually try to force themselves to gain the weight. You’re probably not gonna see much of a benefit just from force feeding yourself to gaining a few pounds. Maybe a little bit if you were like in a deficit or something, then maybe you would.
Yeah. But for the most part, like if you’re in a good weight, comfortable, like your body composition, but you happen to be a little bit under, don’t stress about it. Don’t worry about it. Just go lift.
Mike: What about cardio, which is going back to the misconceptions about power lifting, the extreme misconception would be that power lifters they wheelchair themselves around as much as they can to avoid cardio, right?
Kyle: Yeah. So what’s interesting about cardio is, so like how I said, a lot of the information early on for Power team was coming on was like West Side barbell is they were actually pretty big on like gpp, which is interesting. They were always big on doing like the sleds and the prowls and stuff.
Mike: And the acronym just for people who don’t know,
Kyle: Yeah, so just general physical preparedness, right?
Mike: Yeah. So just kinda like doing anything physical capacity, like work capacity, right?
Kyle: Yeah. Just any type of work. Capac really going for a walk, which is I know we’ve talked about this before, which I like hey, just especially for people who like, like us who work from home or work in an office, just where we’re not doing like a lot of labor day to day, just tracking your steps and trying to get eight to 10,000 steps a day.
So just literally, just going for walks I think is great for power lifting, just to stay active. Cause again, when you’re doing. Power lifting thing, style training, especially when you’re in like a meat prep where your training is focused on heavier weights, but lower reps, your real, your training is really not gonna be a ton of overall work.
Not there’s a lot of volume, in your four or five days in the gym. So just doing like a general, gpp, general physical preparedness, but just doing like walking things like that would be beneficial. But there is an argument for actually improving your conditioning depending on where you’re at.
I think there could be, like if you’re, And here I will explain it, is there’s two different things. One, just from a recovery standpoint. To get like your training volume in throughout the week. But then there’s actually, like per session, and this was probably more important, is powering training because you’re gonna need a little bit longer rest periods when you’re squatting, benching, and dead listening really heavy.
The workouts can take longer and it’s, it actually, it’s not a bad thing. We want you to take longer rest when you’re lifting heavier. So when you’re paring style training, you don’t wanna do minute rest, 30 seconds or minute rest. You wanna take three to five minutes, like you wanna make sure you’re resting a good amount.
But one thing you’ll find is because you’re spending more time squatting or benching or deadlifting, that sometimes you just fatigue yourself. Sometimes it could be a little bit mental too. We’ll say you fatigue yourself, so then the end of your workouts end up pretty shitty. So a lot of times when that happens, I’ll look at the clients, I’ll be, look, are we doing any type of conditioning at all?
And generally, Oh no, I’m not doing any type of conditioning. Okay let’s get your conditioning a little bit better. Just low hanging fruit, just like literally adding anything in so then we can get a little bit higher quality workouts in, especially for the workouts that are longer than 60 minutes.
Mike: And that’s good advice for body building as well. Yeah, absolutely. Or power building. I’ve noticed that I, I’ve mentioned that a few times on the podcast here over the last, year and a half. Because in the be at the beginning of Covid I wasn’t driving to the gym, I was working out at home or driving to the office.
And so at that time I was doing two 30 minute sessions of moderate intensity cardio per week. And because I had this extra time, I was like, eh, I’ll just hop on my little upright bike and I’ll just start doing more cardio. And I lost oh,
Kyle: I see the Instagram pictures when you post. Yeah.
Mike: Yeah. It’s it’s in your story. I have the proof and so I lost eight pounds, which was, Cause I didn’t change my diet. I was like, I’ll just cut too. Why not? And over the course of six months, just slow weight loss because Yeah. Yeah. I wasn’t, I didn’t see any reason to be aggressive about it.
But what I noticed is, especially when I got back in the gym, cuz at home I had a very limited setup. Just some adjustable dumbbells, some bands enough to just maintain muscle. Yeah. Maintain a fair amount of strength. I was surprised actually because. I was doing that for six months longer than I needed to.
I just got into the routine of it and I liked the convenience. Yeah. And then kinda the same thing happened with me. You had mentioned before we were recording, that you got to a point though, where you were like, actually of wanna go back to a gym. . And that’s, that was the same thing for me.
I just waited until I was wanting to go back to the gym and it had nothing to do with Covid. It was just, all right. Now the convenience. That’s cool. And I understand I can still look good and have the physique I want at this point. Maintenance volume is very simple, even though I was doing more than is needed for maintenance volume.
. But there was a point where I was like, I actually miss a gym. I miss like a barbell and doing the stuff I like to do, so I got back in the gym and after six months or so of no barbell work my, my squat was pathetic. I remember 180 5. For sets of eight to 10 was hard. So that, that was pretty pathetic.
And my bench was pretty pathetic. That one RM was down a fair amount, even though I was doing a fair amount of dumbbell pressing . But my deadlift had only dropped, if I remember by the one RM by 20, 25 pounds. , which was a bit surprising to me actually. But anyway, what I noticed is once I got back into.
The groove and got my form back and got over the squat hump, the I kept the cardio in and I still, to this day now I do. So I do six or seven days a week, 30 minutes of moderate intensity. And by moderate intensity I mean I actually, what I do is I normally have at least one or two or three calls that I have to do work related stuff every day.
And so I do those in the afternoon. I schedule them in the afternoon, and then I just go on my bike and I, I can have a conversation but I’m gonna be breathing a little bit heavier. So I just tell whoever I’m on a bike. So that’s why I’m huffing and puffing if you’re wondering. But I can still have a conversation.
So it works out. And what I noticed is that did, it was in between sets, is where I would notice it, that my heart rate would come down faster. I would feel ready to do my next set sooner, or I would feel, I was always you. Fairly conscientious, con, conscientious. There we go. About my, I’ll get you.
Geez. Didn’t sleep enough last night? About my rest times, right? So like on my accessories it was two to two and a half minutes. On my primaries it was three to three and a half usually. And so because I was fairly rigid about that, I was able to, in my mind just subjectively compare. After significantly improved my cardio, which I did by just increasing the resistance on the bike as it got.
So basically it was just once it got too easy and I wasn’t feeling much of a, I wasn’t feeling that four to five out of 10 difficulty, I would just increase the resistance a little bit or, try to pedal a little bit faster. So I did slowly improve my conditioning. And then when I got back in the gym in training I noticed again that with my two to two and a half or three to three and a half max four minutes of rest, I was feeling more rested and that seemed to contribute to better performance in my.
Kyle: Yeah, absolutely. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve noticed that with myself as well. Actually. It’s funny, I have a treadmill at my house and I do the same thing in the afternoons when I have calls, like business calls, it’s just Hey, I’m gonna be on, you’re gonna hear a treadmill in the back room, , you’re just walking.
Yeah. But yeah, I that’s what I’ve noticed with myself and with clients too, It’s hey, just getting your heart rate down a little bit quicker, just feeling more recovered, set to set, so then towards the end of your workouts are just a little bit more productive.
Mike: Yep. And so then for people who are still listening and who would like to do, let’s say, they’re like, All right, I’m gonna do at least a training block of this.
This sounds interesting. And again, feel free to just plug your own stuff here. , but probably the best place. What, I what I would recommend is find a good program as opposed to trying to create your own. Would you agree? Yeah, absolutely.
Kyle: Like just, you can even, I’ll definitely plug my own, but you can just Google. Like free powering programs.
Mike: Just, are there some in particular that you like though? Because there’s a lot.
Kyle: Stuff is gonna come up. Some, it’s one, it’s called Absolute Strength, but it’s, that’s written by me, but that’s the number one. Yeah. I Yeah, so I mean it, that’s what my podcast is called, Absolute Strength.
But originally it actually stemmed from a paring program I put together, which is called Absolute Strength Program, which is, has a bunch of different options for different days per week. And it’s essentially like a, I wrote it for people who are intermediate lifters, who have been lifting for a long time, and they want a intro into power lifting style training.
But then it’s not like a, it’s not like a powerlifting program where it’s like, Hey, we’re going all in on power lifting and skip everything you’ve ever done before. It’s It’s power lifting, but we’re still gonna do a lot of accessory work too, because I understand you’re probably coming from a body building or general strength program, so you wanna do that too.
And that’s what I like to do, so it fits well. But really you just wanna try to find some type of program, whether it’s mine or somebody else’s, that’s like you have some structure, you just wanna have some structure, something laid out for you so you can follow it and just say, Hey, here’s my program, this is what I’m doing.
Kind of hands off. Want a lot of reasons why people get benefits from coaching. It’s just, Hey, here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m just gonna follow the program. Yeah, Cause if you create it yourself, one, if you don’t really understand what you’re trying to do, what the goal is, you may end up training a little bit too hard or too heavy, or you might not be training hard or heavy enough.
And then this is something that a lot of people do is you’ll end up tweaking it halfway in and you might end up, you might have been on a good track, but then you tweaked it and then you went off track and then it’s What are you doing at that point? Yeah. Or
Mike: If you’re in the middle of it and you’ve now improved it, that’s great, but it would be better if you would’ve started that way.
Kyle: Uhhuh. . Yep.
Mike: And are there any maybe general principles or green flags, red flags that you could share for people who are just trying to okay, they have a few options here for whatever reason they’re not following yours. Which they probably should just do that, but they’re not.
Let’s say or they’re just curious, like, how can how can they assess the validity of one program versus another?
Kyle: Yeah, so you’ll probably, The one thing with powering is you’ll probably want to find a program that has you, especially if you’re first getting into powering something that has you doing the lifts a little bit more frequently.
So if you find a, if you come across a powering program and it’s, you’re squatting, benching, and deadlift one time a week, which is, hey some programs are set up that way and it’s not, I’m not saying that they can’t work, but that would probably work better for someone who’s already been paring a long time.
Probably someone bigger too, cuz generally the bigger you are, you’re using heavier weights, so then you get a little bit less benefit from training more frequently. But if you’re just getting into it, Like all the things we said, you’re probably gonna want something that’s has you squatting twice a week, benching two or three times a week, and then deadlifting, one to two times a week.
So that’s probably just a good general kind of compass to look at Hey, this is what we’re looking for there. And then in terms of a couple other things outside of the programming to look at is just technique. You probably should spend some time on YouTube just looking up, Hey, what are some cues I should be looking for on squatting, benching, deadlifting?
And just play around with it. Just watch some videos and record yourself lifting. You don’t have to do it for the gram. Just record yourself lifting to get an idea of what your squat bench and deadlift looks like. I think you’ll, most people see a good benefit of just watching themselves lift, especially if they’ve never done that before.
If you’ve never recorded yourself for social media or whatever. You may actually, what your technique looks like may be different than what’s in your head. So that’s a good idea to get an idea of what your lifts actually look like and then watch some tutorials, play around with it, of geek out on technique.
Cause that, that’s something that you’ll probably. If you’re just lifting, kinda like we talked about with the bench example, if you’re just benching for general hypertrophy, which you should be probably looking for a longer range of motion, you’re not really trying to create an arch or anything like that you’ll see a lot of benefit just from tweaking your technique to cut the range of motion a little bit.
Or for squatting, maybe you’re someone who doesn’t wear a belt, you’ll probably see a benefit from wearing a belt, creating some more in abdominal pressure, maybe throwing on some neoprene knee leaves too. They’re not gonna, that’s not gonna be like night or day.
Mike: You might see a little bit of benefit from knee leaves as well sometimes do little things like that.
Yeah. I, especially with higher rep if I’m doing twos or fours, I may or may not put them on , but when I’m doing sixes, eights, tens, if nothing else, they just keep my joints warm. In between, It just feels a little bit better. Yeah. It just feels better.
Kyle: It’s hard to explain Cause people will always ask me, they’re like, what’s the benefit?
It’s I feel like there’s a few different benefits. Like one just. The joint warmth. I think that’s beneficial. They just feel better. And I also think like just they create more like surface area. So it’s like when you’re squatting, it’s almost like you get like a couple millimeters added onto your calves and hamstrings.
Yeah. Like you ever watch, you ever look at like the old body building magazines where you’d see Ronnie Coleman or somebody squatting and they’d take a side picture and you’d be like, Holy shit. Is hamstrings and calves they’re all connect like it’s just one hun of muscle.
Like a wall. It’s just like a wall of muscles. Like it’d be so easy to squat when you’re, you squat down six inches and your hamstring touches your calves. It to a lesser degree, that’s what we get from like knee sleeves, they kinda fold over. So you get a little bit of extra surface area there.
But I think mostly it’s probably just like the warmth maybe like a proprio reception thing? Yeah. Like maybe like you, you feel a little bit, bit more. But yeah I see quite a bit of benefit. When I say quite a bit, I’m talking mate, what, maybe 10 pounds? Added on or something like that.
A few more reps than a belt too. I think I, I’m trying to say how much I noticed that, but I think another misconception is probably some people would say, Oh, I don’t wanna wear a belt cuz I wanna make sure my core’s still activated. There actually been research to show that when you do wear a belt, as long as you’re bracing against the belt, like you don’t lose any core activation for using a belt correctly.
Mike: So you just don’t you gain at least intraabdominal pressure, right?
Kyle: Yeah, you should, yeah. You should gain intraabdominal pressure because you’re bracing against the belt. So you create like that 360 tension against the belt to create your core to be. Tight and strong.
Cause you don’t want any leaks. You don’t want to be, a lot of times with bracing it’s tough because like you wanna breathe in, you wanna create the pressure and you are thinking of a bunch of different things, but then you throw that belt on again, it just gives you something to brace against.
So it’s a little bit easier to create that intrabdominal pressure.
Mike: What type of belt do you like or would you recommend?
Kyle: So really when we’re lifting heavy, I want really anything that’s a 10 or 13 millimeter ben thickness. If you think so really the belts we will probably get the most benefit from are really any type of a power thing belt that’s a little bit thicker cuz the body building belts.
So if you think of like the ones that are like a harbinger belt or something like yeah, a general belt like that. It’s better than nothing. It’s probably not gonna give you as much as like a, Cuz those are, shit, I don’t even know how thick they are. They probably don’t even tell you. Doesn’t even say probably probably one,
Mike: the one I’m thinking of.
Somebody just the other day, somebody who was wearing, I think it was, it just looked like fabric actually. Yeah. It wasn’t, didn’t even have a rigid structure, yeah.
Kyle: Some of ’em are just fabric.
Mike: It almost like a belt that you just sent out.
Kyle: It’s like, what are you doing? It’s like a Band-Aid.
But yeah so something that’s actually has some thickness to it, 10 or 13 millimeters. Like I, I like ser they’re kinda like the old school lever belts. That’s what I use. But you could do like a single prong is fine as well. So the one would, That’s what use metal. That’s fine.
That works good. I like the single prong better than like the ones that have two or three prongs. Cause that can be like a pain in the ass. Yeah.
Mike: It’s just annoying. And you’re not you’re not getting more there’s no added benefit. Yeah. It’s just more fiddling.
Kyle: Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, you want, you wanna find a belt that has a little bit of thickness to it and then either like a single prong or a lever.
Mike: And what about shoes?
Kyle: Yeah. So shoes are another interesting conversation. So when we’re squat, We generally want something that’s a hard flat surface. And a few years back Olympic lifting shoes got really popular. And they’re still popular and for good reason because they are a hard, flat surface and they have an elevated heel, which helps you get to depth.
And a lot of people see, I wear ’em for my squats. And especially if you’re a high bar squatter. So if you have a high bar, you almost everybody who has a high bar will see a lot of benefit from Olympic lifting shoes with elevated heel. Now a low bar squatter it’s kinda like 50 50.
Some people will see a benefit with Olympic lifting shoes and some people won’t, and they’ll just be fine with a flat soul. So something like, like a Vans or a Chuck Taylors or something like that, squatting. What you wanna avoid squatting is anything that’s like a soft soul, like a running shoe, things like that.
A lot of people talk about that, but really it’s just when you’re standing on it and you put the weight on your back and you feel yourself moving. That’s not good. And then for benching, really anything, anything works well for benching, don’t really need anything specific. Now, when we get into the nitty gritty with bench technique and we talk about creating like pressure on the floor, I find shoes that have a little bit of grip to ’em help.
And some people like just Olympic lifting shoes for that. Or some people just whatever they squatted in like a, I’ll literally wear anything, like I’ll wear any shoe when I’m benching. So it doesn’t matter to me, but some people like a little bit more grip. And then with deadlifts, you want something as close to the floor as possible.
So if you’re just training in the gym, like you can deadlift barefoot and that’s fine. Now when competitions in puffing meats, you do have to wear something, even if it’s like a they make like deadlift slippers, which I mean, they’re exactly what they sound like. They’re just like little slippers that are barely anything.
And then they, there’s some companies that make like deadlift specific shoes that are very thin to the ground, that are a little bit grippy. That work or like a rusting shoe works very well cause it’s close to the ground. Or again, like almost the same thing you would wear squatting. Now you don’t wanna wear an elevated heel deadlifting, but like A Vans or a Chuck Taylors work too for
Mike: simply because now you’re increasing range of motion there.
Kyle: You’re just, you’re making it harder on your yeah. You don’t want anything with any type of elevated heel or any type of elevation at all. Cause you’re just adding. And I know it seems like a very small difference, but. Hey, I mean that extra, they, what do they say? Every inch counts. Yeah.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. For what it’s worth so obviously I’m not I’m not training for power lifting, but I’m doing my squats and my benches and my dentist. So for my squatting, and this has, evolved over the years now. I use a belt, I use knee sleeves and I use squat shoes, Olympic shoes.
, agree with you. They don’t have to be Olympic shoes. I just like that they feel very stable.
Kyle: Yeah. The stability factor is huge. Cause they’re made for. Lifting, They’re made for squatting, made for Olympic lifting movements. So they’re very stable, like relationally and side to side.
Yep. And they’re super hard. So you, I they’re just, they’re, they create a good platform to lift
Mike: on. Yep. Yep. And I’ve noticed that. Those three things make a pretty significant difference. I haven’t tried to one set with all of that, then take it all off and see what I could do.
But I would guess that if I were to do that if the shoes, I, obviously, I wouldn’t go to running shoes. Let’s just say I, I went to something that is flat. Doesn’t have any structure to it, doesn’t feel it, it doesn’t provide that added stability. It maybe just makes me feel like I’m barefoot.
, and then take the belt off, take the sleeves off. I would guess that’s a couple of reps difference. With the same weight, particularly the belt really being able to and people probably have gathered this from what you’re saying, but the key is that you have to use it properly, and that really is okay, you’re taking your deep breath and you’re holding it in your stomach.
But, and this is what I do is to really activate the belt, so to speak. Push my stomach out. , I’m not I have a lot of tension, but I’m not sucking my abs in I’m trying to look good on Instagram.
Kyle: Yeah. You’re not upon a bodi stage.
Mike: Yes, I am pushing my stomach. I want to feel and the belt is very tight as well.
And and it’s not painful, but it’s very tight, press my abs out. They’re tensed and they’re pressed out against it. And that alone is probably good for at least one additional, maybe two reps right there actually.
Kyle: Yeah, I believe it too. Yeah, I would feel the same way. Yeah. But yeah, using the belt correctly, like bracing out against the belt, so like pushing your belly out against the belt and then bracing hard for a punch.
So it’s extended, but then hard. Now one question for you, like when you’re warming up, at what point do you put the stuff.
Mike: Oh, that’s a good question. So let’s see. I put it, nope, I put it on for my hard sets when I’m warming up. Although I have a pretty abbreviated warmup these days. I used to do more warmup sets in the past, and I thought that was maybe not necessary per se, but I thought that it was beneficial enough to do it.
So I would do like four warmup sets and over the years I’ve trimmed that down. So now where I’m doing two or three, it depends how heavy I’m going. Yeah. , know, if I’m doing sets. You probably could argue that I don’t even need to warm up. I could just go and do it because the weight is not that heavy.
But I still like to do one or two. So it’s gonna be like, 50% of one rm I’m gonna do just eight to 10, get the blood moving, and then I’ll probably put a little bit more weight on the bar and do four to six and then get into it. And if I’m going heavier, if I’m doing let’s say fours or heavier, I’ll probably do one additional.
So solving three warmup sets, and that final is gonna be a bit closer to what I’m about to do, and it’ll just be one. And but I put the belt on and for people listening, I wear. When I squat and when I deadlift, I don’t wear it when I bench. I know some people like to do that.
I just, and some people I don’t. I don’t like it. Yeah. I don’t, Oh, if I’m overhead pressing, if I’m standing overhead, pressing, I’ll wear it. It really helps there as well. Yeah, it helps there. Yeah. Yeah.
Kyle: How about you? Yeah, so the reason I ask is cuz, so I it’s probably more, more psychological than anything, but I do, I warm up with a step fashion.
So it’s like I, I do like my first warmup set, which really just with the bar, just nothing. And then like the first thing I’ll put on is like the knee sleeve. So it really depends like how many warmup sets I’m doing with how heavy I’m going. But the point I’m trying to make is, so I’ll do nothing, just whatever shoes I walk in the gym is with just usually just like a normal, like flat soul shoe training shoe, whatever.
Do a couple, like a set or two at the bar. And then the first thing I do is I slide the knee sleeves on when I add weight. And then the next thing I would change my shoes. So I put on my Olympic lifting shoes for the next. Jump and wait and then, so by that point, either like the last set before I’d get to my working weight is when I’ll put the belt on and do that.
This is my last warmup. And then my working sets. And it really depends on how heavy I’m going. Cuz sometimes that last warmup set, I won’t use the belt, but if I’m going really heavy, if I’m working up to a 450 pound or something that yeah. With 4 0 5, I’ll wear, I’ll put the belt on or something.
But so yeah, it’s like I, I just use like a step fashion, so it’s like the first thing I do is nothing. And then I slowly add stuff. So it’s almost like as the weight gets heavier, I add a piece of equipment to of help. Transition to the weight. So then right at the last second, then I throw the belt on.
It’s Okay, now I’m ready to go. You’re process, probably
Mike: psych practicing the way that you train, you get up a final heavy warmup set or heavier warmup set. Yeah. Yeah. I’m not that methodical about it. I put I’ll, if I’m squatting I don’t use the sleeves on deadlift because I found they.
Kyle: Yeah. They don’t seem, they don’t seem to make a difference. It’s in the squat where I notice, so I’m gonna put the shoes on, sleeves first hopefully. Yep. And then or the shoe has to come off, which is a pain in the ass.
Mike: So annoying. So sleeves, shoe. And then I’ll go through my warmup and Yeah.
If I were, if I’m gonna be working up to a heavy weight and I am gonna do a heavy ish single, then I may or may not put the belt on. But it definitely helps. Oh, and also something to mention I think that we should mention with a belt is that it doesn’t reduce your risk of injury.
It doesn’t make the exercise more safe, which is what many people think belts are for. And if you didn’t know how to use a belt correctly, and if you thought. It reduced the risk of injury. It may even increase the risk of injury because now you might be more inclined to use bad form because you think now you know you’re on the deadlift and you want to go for the big number and your back starts to round a little bit, your lower back, but you think, Oh, you have your belt on, you can just power through it.
So something that just occurred to me that I think people should know. Yeah,
Kyle: that’s a good point. The belt is not a injury prevention tool. Yeah, it’s a performance tool.
Mike: Yep. Yep. Yeah. Awesome, man. This was this was fun as always, informative as always. I really appreciate you taking the time.
And why don’t we wrap up with where people can find you, find your work anything new and exciting that you have coming that you want people to know about?
Kyle: Yeah. So you can find me on my podcast, The Absolute Strength Podcast. Mike’s been on there a lot of times. If you guys like, enjoy this podcast, Mike does a great job.
You’ll probably enjoy mine. We talk about a lot of the same style stuff. Don’t we all
Mike: Uhhuh. We just try to find our own. Just find our own little niche.
Kyle: Yeah. . But yeah, so we got the podcast. You can follow me on social media just at Hunt Fitness. And then I also have written a few books you can find on Amazon running where books are sold.
Got Body Building for Beginners, which was the first one. And then Beginners Guide to Weightlift. And then strength training for beginners. All similar, but with their own unique niches.
Mike: And are you working on another one?
Kyle: Yeah, so I’m working on something right now that’s a niche topic.
It’s I mean I can, I just announce it, but it’s a book on strengthen and conditioning for wrestling. Oh, cool. Cause grew, I grew up wrestling, so it was a it was something I always wanted to do and then, just determine when to put it into practice. So that’s what I’m working on now.
Still have, as I’m sure you do too, of a bunch of things lined up. Ideas, yeah. Things you’re working on probably want to get to writing eventually but it’s gotta finish this one up. Then I have a couple more, more body building, power lifting style stuff to put out.
Mike: Yeah. It’s a lot of people have. Tbr, they’re to B Red piles. We have also our tbw tob written piles. And we’re probably gonna die with with things still left in certainly the tbr but the tbw as well.
Kyle: Yep. Oh, I have both of those. They’re both a long list.
Mike: I know, I do.
You does a part of you wish that’s all you had to do? Oh, yeah. That, that’s certainly the case for me. That’s still the work that I enjoy the most is Oh yeah. I like to learn stuff and I like to write, I like to teach things. That’s just what I like to do.
Kyle: If that’s all I, if I could just read and write all day, that’s what I’d probably do.
Yep, yep. Above everything else. Yeah. Yeah. I wouldn’t even pay attention to my kids .
Mike: That’s what do you mean? That’s what a wife is for the day? Take the wife takes care of the kids. I read. I, yep. Yeah. But anyway, thanks again for doing this, and I look forward to the next one. Yeah. Thanks for having me on.
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