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What’s the best way to build a beach-ready, bikini body? What are the most important muscle groups to train, and how can you organize your workout split to ensure you’ll reach your goal as quickly as possible? Holly Baxter explains how to achieve a developed, lean physique in this podcast.

Most women aren’t planning to ever step on stage as part of a bikini or physique competition. However, some version of that general look is a common goal of many women who have started training and lifting weights in the gym. If you’ve ever wondered how to build a bikini-ready body, you’re going to enjoy this podcast. In it, Holly Baxter explains what it takes to build a bikini body, including training tips, exercise selection, and more. 

In case you’re not familiar with Holly, she’s an educator, coach, nutritionist, and Accredited Practicing Dietitian (ADP) with a Masters in Dietetics. Her academic career has also translated into competitive success. She’s a two time world level champion fitness model in the Natural Universe and Natural Olympia competitions, and has pro status with the WBFF. She’s won various naturally bodybuilding competitions in the IFBB, OCB, and more. She’s also a co-founder of the Carbon Diet Coach as well as Team Biolayne with Layne Norton.

In our chat, Holly and I talk about . . .

  • The best exercises for glute activation and development
  • The importance of warmups and how to do them effectively
  • Whether chest work is important for a beach-body look (and how much to do)
  • How she builds a training program (including how she counts weekly muscle group volume)
  • Shoulder development tips
  • The “best” workout splits, rep ranges, and training frequency
  • And more . . .

So if you want to learn how to build a “Hollywood” babe body, and what it takes to develop the muscle groups most women care more about, listen to this podcast!


0:00 – Try Whey+ risk-free today! Go to and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% or get double reward points!

6:07 – What kind of training do women need in preparation for a bikini competition? 

10:05 – What are your thoughts on the effects of squats?

14:38 – What is your warm up routine?

16:48 – Did you have a simpler routine before? 

19:58 – How do you like to structure your warmup sets? 

22:38 – What are your thoughts on intensity discipline?

38:44 – How important is chest work for a bikini competition? 

39:20 – What are some of your favorite exercises to do?

40:37 – What volume do you recommend for lower body exercises? 

45:50 – Do you program your workouts to be both indirect and direct? 

49:50 – What are some exercises that improve shoulder development? 

59:23 –  Is there anything else you would like to share? 

1:01:56 – What do you recommend for workout splits?

1:06:31 – Where can we find you? 

Mentioned on the show:

Try Whey+ risk-free today! Go to and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% or get double reward points!

Holly’s Instagram:

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Mike: Hey, I’m Mike Matthews and thank you for joining me today for another episode of Muscle For Life. In this episode, I interviewed Holly Baxter Norton on how to build a beach ready bikini body. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, how to get the type of physique that a bikini competitor has, maybe not as jacked or as lean as a bikini competitor on stage, but how do to get that type of body?

And Holly is someone to speak to about that because, well, she is a bikini competitor. And so in this episode, she talks about the most important muscle groups to train and how to set up your training in terms of split intensity volume. To add the right amounts of muscle to the right places on your body.

And if you are a woman who is never going to step on stage as a bikini or physique competitor, then this episode is for you. It’s specifically for you actually, because most of the women listening to my show don’t want to compete, but they would like to look maybe something like how some of the bikini competitors in particular look.

And so if you’ve ever wondered how to get that type of look, then this episode is for you. And if you are not familiar with Holly, she is an educator, coach, nutritionist, and accredited practicing dietician with a master’s in dietetics. And she has also achieved quite a bit of competitive success in fitness.

She is a two-time world level champion fitness model in the natural universe and natural Olympia federations, and she has a pro status with the W B F F. She has also won various bodybuilding competitions in the I F B B O C B and others, and she is the co-founder of Carbon Diet Coach as well as Team Bio Lane with her husband, lane Norton.

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Hey Holly, how’s it going?

Holly: It’s going good. Thanks for asking.

Mike: Uh, you’re not sweating like I am. Um, we’re, we’re both in Florida, which means we live in, in basically in the middle of a, of a nuclear reactor right now. Yeah. It’s kind of hot. And I was, so, I was in the gym and then, and then just being outside, so it’s like gym, walking to the car and then, and then driving home, and then walking inside.

I’m still sweating. It’s just Florida. It sucks.

Holly: You know what, I, I grew up, I guess, in a place that had a little bit more seasonal weather. I’m from Tasmania, Australia, and, uh, I, I used to kind of idolize the idea of living in Florida. I mean, Miami Beach was the thing back when I was the kid. Everyone wanted to go to Miami.

And, uh, now that I’m here, it ain’t that great, uh, especially as a female, um, with hair and, uh, I think just the trip from the front door to my car most days leaves my hair basically. Just a, a mess. It looks like a mop. So Yeah. It’s kind of warm lately.

Mike: Yeah. Yep. I, I grew up, uh, in Florida and I, I never got used to it.

I never came to enjoy the climate. Um, but I guess we can’t complain because we choose to be here, so.

Holly: Exactly. I would truly, I much prefer the hot weather than cold. I hate being cold. I will go to a mountain if I’m snowboarding, but that’s about it.

Mike: Okay. All right. Well then Florida’s not so bad.

Holly: Nah, it’s fine.

Mike: So, so I wanted to have you on to talk about how women can go about, um, building, let’s say a bikini competitor, like. Physique, uh, but, but maybe not quite as lean as you would need to be to get on stage and maybe not as much muscular development as you would need to get on stage. But that type of physique, which is I would say the type of look that many women who reach out to me and many women I’ve spoken with over the years mm-hmm.

That that’s the type of physique I think most of them aspire to. Some, some degree of it. Some of them like the look of a little bit higher body fat percentage, some of them like a little bit lower, some of them like a little bit more muscle tone, a little bit less. But I think that’s a, that’s a, a pretty general, um, uh, aspiration for, for women who are in the gym doing strength training and um, You’ve done it.

And so I thought it would be worth talking to you, uh, about what it takes to do that and get into some of the details of training, like exercise choices, exercises Absolutely. That are maybe overrated. And maybe we could start with, um, just, just glute specific training. And the reason I think we should start there is it’s just a hot topic, right?

I mean, yeah. Something I get asked about fairly often and I see a lot of, see a lot of girls, especially younger girls in the gym doing a lot of glute work. It is a thing.

Holly: It really is, um, such great timing because I was just, um, putting together a, a post for my Instagram earlier this morning, and I did happen to stumble across a 2020 systematic review, uh, that was specifically looking at, uh, glute muscle activation in a range of, um, common glute exercises.

So it was actually surprising. I, as I was reading it, I was just kind of thinking, okay, well of course hip thrust, the big compound, uh, exercises are gonna be the ones that, um, produce the best results. But there was actually, uh, a number of other movements that, um, provided equal, I guess glute muscle activation.

So the ones that came up were step ups. I’ve incorporated a lot of those into my training over the years, but I definitely, I. Didn’t put them in there like specifically for glute hypertrophy, but step-ups, uh, weighted step-ups, body weight, step-ups, and then all the different variations kind of came through as being, um, really great for muscle activation.

And, um, one of the ones that they kind of talked about, uh, quite a bit was a lateral step up. And then also a crossover step up. Now, it’s probably very hard to visualize this, but imagine if you’re standing on a bench. You’ve got, uh, dumbbells in one hand. You pop, let’s say your right foot up onto the bench, and then you’re basically gonna step up and then cross your left foot back down behind you onto the other side, and then you step off.

So that one really surprised me is, um, being one of the really, um, effective glute, um, exercises and then following suit, those that we would expect. Um, the other ones were things like your trap bar deadlift, or I think a lot of people refer to those as like the hex bar and then all of the glute thrust variations, whether it’s machine or using the traditional barbell, uh, lunges and squats.

So ladies, if you’re really wanting to work on that bikini body, then um, for glute hypertrophy, uh, those have definitely been shown, uh, to get the most amount of muscle activation. Now, I do wanna preface with. That’s a muscle activation, systematic review. It’s not necessarily assessing true authentic measurements of muscle mass.

So they’re not getting there taking biopsies, but they’re looking at stimulation. So I think that that’s a really great place to start, you know, as it probably is going to lend itself to hypertrophy outcomes. So, yeah.

Mike: What, what are your, what are your thoughts on, um, the, the squat? And glutes specifically. You just mentioned that, that it’s a, it’s, it’s a good exercise. Yeah. But can you talk a little bit to the people who have heard, and I know because I’ll get asked about this, you probably do as well. Mm-hmm. I guess there are some people out there who say that, uh, the, the squat, any sort of variation mm-hmm.

Is just not great for your glutes. It doesn’t much involve the glute muscles and doing glute specific exercises are much better. It might sound silly to you, but I, I know that, that, that, that is a, a talking point out there.

Holly: Yeah, absolutely. Look, this particular study that I saw was obviously, um, you know, very, um, I guess if we look at the hierarchy of evidence, it’s right up there.

It’s, it’s a systematic review. It’s looking at everything that we have on glutes to this point. But, you know, it’s still relatively new, so we don’t have a whole lot of information out there about it. But I can say there was a paper that I, uh, I guess assessed a couple of years ago, and it was comparing the hip thrust and squats.

But unfortunately, The data that kind of came through from that, uh, was found to be a little bit tampered with. Uh, so it wasn’t a very, uh, high quality study after all. But what I can say is that squatting in general is a fantastic lower body exercise period, in my opinion. I think that it is one of the best compound exercises for all of us to use.

Um, not only are you getting some glute. Activation in there. And again, depending on your, uh, setup, like your body structure, um, that’s probably going to be, um, indicative of how effective that is for training your glutes. Um, some people have a very forward-leaning squat. Like myself, I’ve got quite long femurs.

Um, so I typically am a little bit more posterior dominant, so I do use a lot more of those big glute muscles, uh, to help with that, um, movement. Whereas somebody that might have short femurs, um, and a short torso, they may be a little bit more quad dominant. And, um, consequently their quads are gonna be, uh, a lot more involved than their glutes.

So, um, It really does depend on somebody’s unique makeup and their structure. Um, but as a general rule, I think that that is one of the best exercises that you can do, uh, just for helping develop your strength and building muscle overall because it is such a full body exercise. I know for me, like after I’ve done my first, you know, three or four sets of squat, it’s like I’m tanked and it’s already been 45 minutes between my warmup, my warmup sets, my squat, like working sets and you know, you’re burning a lot of calories because it is such a full body movement.

So, you know, if that is also one of the contributing goals if you’re in there, not just to build muscle, but also potentially to burn body fat. You know, you’re hitting some of those big muscle groups, so your energy expenditure is gonna be high and it really just helps develop your core in general, which is beneficial for all exercises and to help improve, um, strength and hypertrophy.

So yeah, I’m a big fan. I’m a big fan. I

Mike: agree. I think, uh, people should try to find more reasons to squat, not, not the opposite. Don’t go looking for reasons not to squat.

Holly: Yeah, I know, I know. And honestly, I was one of those people that, um, would look for reasons not to squat because I used to get a lot of, uh, back pain when I was young.

I would do, and I’m happy to admit I was somebody that really loved the Les Meals kind of group fit fitness classes. That was basically my entry into a gym. I hadn’t really spent a whole lot of time resistance training, um, you know, prior to doing those classes. So I remember some of the lower body classes, they would have you doing squats and lunges and pulse squats for like four minutes for an entire track.

And by the end of the session I used to kind of be in a lot of pain and it really deterred me from squatting to be honest. Mm. Um, and even as I had gone through like my first year of professional, um, like. Bikini competitions. I still didn’t squat. And it wasn’t really until I met my husband, who is a former world record holder in power lifting, and he taught me the correct way to lift, uh, and the benefits of squatting and, you know, bracing and getting your core involved and, um, you know, making sure that you are using all the correct accessories that I just found it to be such a beneficial exercise.

So, yeah. Big things changing.

Mike: You mentioned, uh, a warmup routine. What do you do for, for warming up? Okay. Well, for, for your strength training in particular. Yeah. So I, typical typically, so like take, take a squat. So you’re gonna start a workout, you’ll say you’re gonna be doing your squats first, uh, yeah. As your first exercise.

Holly: Yeah, absolutely. So I tend to have two different types of warmup routines. One, um, is a little bit different from my upper body, then my lower. But, uh, if I’m going in to do like some heavy sets of squats, maybe I’ve got, uh, three sets of fives or sixes, and I’m working at a pretty high training intensity, like a R p e eight or a nine.

Um, I’m gonna be doing some kind of warmup and mobility for at least 15 minutes. So I’ll usually do a quick brisk, five minute walk on the treadmill just to kind of get the blood flowing, you know, getting the blood into the tissues and also just heating up your body, um, that can help, uh, reduce the risk of injuries.

And then I will go into, um, some kind of dynamic work. So I guess looking at the research, uh, dynamic mobility work and stretching is much better than the static type of, um, stretching that we used to do. I remember doing lots of cold stretching before my sprinting when I was a kid and now how wrong that was.

So I’ll do, uh, like cross hack lunges, which is basically just, you know, lunging across to side, side to side, um, for say 20 reps. I will do another one, uh, which is called the World’s Greatest Stretch, where you’re basically, uh, elongating and lengthening your hamstrings, opening up the hips. And then there’s also a little bit of a, a rotation in the upper body where you kind of reach your arm up to the ceiling and look up at your arm.

So you’re getting some spinal movement through there. And then a couple of different banded exercises as well. So I’ll warm up my glutes with my glute bands. And then also, um, just some hip mobility, which I’m not even gonna try and put names to some of these exercises. You just have to. Kind of look at ’em.

Um, but they’re just really good for kind of warming up. Um, you know, all of the joints that are involved in squatting, and you do want to do that because you’re about to take on some pretty heavy loads. So it’s important to make sure that, um, you know, all of those muscles are kind of firing and, um, prepared

Mike: and has your warmer routine always been that involved, or was there a time when you had a simpler warmup routine and then, and then it became more extensive, but then you stuck with it because you found it more effective? You know?

Holly: Yeah, absolutely. So I can tell you now, I probably never used to stretch when I’d go to the gym. This is pre actually learning how to correctly squat. Um, and just for those that don’t know, I have done, um, probably three or four power lifting meets now. Um, so I’m still, you know, I’m definitely not, are not a, a very great power lift and my limbs and dimensions are not cut out for it. But, you know, it’s with you, it’s a fun, a fun spot.

Mike: My, my legs are too long for squatting. Yeah. My arms are too long for benching.

Holly: Oh really?

Mike: Those then those then. They kind of offset each other to make me a mediocre dead lifter.

Holly: Right.

Mike: And, uh, that’s it. That’s my anatomy.

Holly: Well, you know, my, I have like midget arms. My joke is like T-Rex. So for me, um, deadlifting sucks.

Mm-hmm. Because I basically have to be like, parallel to the floor to get to the bar. So, uh, it’s definitely not, um, a friendly, uh, body structure for deadlifting. But no, I, I definitely never had the same squat routine, uh, sorry, warmup routine for my squats. I used to kind of just get in and, um, maybe do a five minute jog and then I’d start, you know, get straight in.

And I don’t think I recall really doing a whole lot of warmup sets either. Mm-hmm. So I think the benefits of me. Trying power lifting and learning the correct technique and bracing and getting a proper power lifting belt and knee sleeves and wrist wraps it, it really enabled me to test my true strength.

Um, I think for the longest time I probably just worked at a, a very comfortable r p e of six when I would squat, you know, I would. Always pick an eight to 12 rep range for squats. Um, I had never, gosh, tried to do a, a one rep max, like a, a squat, maximum attempt, uh, until I moved to the, to America, and it was so eye-opening for me because I truly realized that I hadn’t been training hard enough.

Um, the weights that I would select for sets of 12. It was so easy. Like now I’ll use that for sets of five as a warmup. Um, so I think the benefit of kind of power lifting and experimenting with my true strength, um, was it has then, um, enabled me to better prepare for those, um, mid rep ranges and the hypertrophy rep ranges.

And I can choose a weight that actually is going to challenge me because otherwise I would never have known. And that’s kind of when I developed my warmup routine because. I just didn’t feel good, um, squatting if I hadn’t done enough warmup and I would feel stiff and tight and I couldn’t get my depth, you know, to, to where it needed to be.

I was doing like half squats and I really needed to do that mobility in order to hit depth. And that is one of the, you know, power lifting regulations as you know. So it was definitely something that was developed over time and it has stuck with me and I always feel a lot better and I have had significantly fewer injuries, uh, and pain as a result of that.

So, yeah.

Mike: And, and when you get toward, now you’re under the bar and you’re working toward, let’s say your first working set. How do you like to structure your warmup sets? Because I, I’m assuming you at, you have a couple of warmup sets. You don’t go right from your walking and mobility into your top sets squat.

Holly: Yeah, exactly. So I have a, um, normally I’ll take a look at whatever my, um, like res rep number is for that session. So I use the example at previously of like five or six reps, which is kind of at the top end of, I guess, strength. Um, and I think there’s value and merit to having both, you know, hypertrophy and strength rep ranges in your program.

I think they work really nice in synergy together to help get the most out of, you know, your goals. It’s also fun, I think. Yeah. Oh my gosh. It makes and gives you some, um, diversity with your training programming too. You’re not just doing the same thing over and over. So I will usually do about four, uh, warmup sets.

And the first one is honestly just with the bar. It’s just kind of thinking about, uh, and visualizing the, the technique that I’m gonna be doing. Making sure that, you know, I’m getting my deep breath, that I’m filling out my, um, you know, my belly into my belt and making sure that, um, my technique is on point.

And then I usually do an attempt that’s probably at 60% of my one rep max, and I might jump to 75% of what I know my one rep max is. And then I probably have one more working set and I’ll just hit a single. Mm-hmm. And then I move into my, uh, working set. So for those warmup sets, it’s rarely more than three, um, reps.

Okay. It’s just to touch a, touch the weight and feel the feel the bar. And get the blood flowing and just feel your muscles Absolutely. Just kind of, um, sensitize yourself to that load because as you’re working up to those heavy weights, it’s, it’s a challenge. It’s challenging. Sorry, you wanna wanna be field prepared?

Mike: Yeah, I, I was, uh, I’m deloading this week and Uhhuh, so, uh, I’m front squatting in this training block and, uh, you know, I actually kind of like the front squat. I don’t know, the position doesn’t bother me. Yeah. And it’s, it’s just something different than, than a back squat. And, um, so, so anyways, uh, in, in, in my previous week I did, um, let’s see, it was like two 10 for sets of six with a couple reps in reserve and.

So, because I’m deloading this week, I’m only doing three reps of two 10. And I was like, ah, I’ll just do one warmup set and then I’m, I’m 37. So then I immediately like, ah, I didn’t hurt myself, but my back feels stiff. I just, you know, like, that’s why I was asking about your warmup ’cause Yeah, yeah. I, I, I’ve always try, I’ve done my warmup routine, but I try to keep it, uh, as, as, as short as I.

Can. And so

Holly: I’ve, yeah, they got a minimum effective dose.

Mike: That’s how I’ve approached it. But, uh, you, you mentioned something that I guess I kind of refer to as intensity discipline. And this is an important point that, uh, I, I would love to hear you talk a little bit more about, and that is that point of ensuring that you are working hard enough in your working sets.

And as you know, especially as, as you, uh, become a more experienced weightlifter and the, the weights start getting heavier and it starts getting important to not push yourself to muscular failure on a squat, on a deadlift, on a bench press. Mm-hmm. On there are many exercises where, uh, it’s, it’s just not a great idea to, to push yourself that hard.

And so, and I’ve experienced this myself. Mm-hmm. I don’t know if you have, but then what, what has happened to me is, and I, I’ve, I’d say taken corrective actions over the last six months or so, but I noticed that I. When I was finishing a set with just take just about any exercise and I was thinking like, all right, I probably have one or two good reps left.

Mm-hmm. And, and that’s an appropriate place to end, um, let’s say a compound exercise, because I don’t wanna push much further than that. But it started to occur to me that I think I’m fooling myself a little bit here. Like I think I’m saying one to two, but I probably could do more than that. And so I started to push myself a little bit harder where I was thinking I probably only have one or two reps of this squat left.

All right. I have the bars in place, I’m gonna, I’m gonna see do two. And the bar’s still moving pretty quickly. Mm-hmm. Uh, and I actually had another two after that. Wow. Um, And, and I mean that’s, that’s, that’s just, um, I mean, it’s a mistake, but, but I’m sharing it because I think it’s, I I think it’s, it’s something I was curious if you’ve experienced that and what you do to, to, I would say, um, just, just keep your.

Perception of effort calibrated to reality, you know? Mm-hmm.

Holly: Yeah, absolutely. Look, I think for me, um, one of the things that I’ve found really valuable over the years is having like my training intensities and then I have my competition intensity. So if I am just going through the motions with a training block, let’s say I’ve got.

I don’t know, 24 weeks. And I’m not really like striving for anything crazy. I have like an R P E or an r i r range that I will work to. And I kind of roughly know what weights I’ll be lifting for just a, an easier training block. I’m not gonna say that it’s like, you know, a d load style where training intensity is like half potentially.

Um, but it’s definitely not at the same scale that I would be pushing to if I was, you know, preparing for a power lifting meet, um, or the same intensity if I was, you know, preparing for a, uh, physique show. So I think there’s a, there’s definitely a distinguishable difference between, um, that the intensity.

But, you know, I think if, if you are somebody that is just training to maintain your body composition and you’re not really striving for, you know, any extra, I. Then what you described where, you know, you are kind of, um, still able to perform a couple of extra reps, it’s not necessarily the worst thing because we know, um, based on all the research, it is, um, still very effective for you to continue training anywhere at like from 60% of your one rep max and up for, um, for your, uh, certain muscle groups.

So I don’t see it as a problem, um, if you are taking it a little bit easier. But if you are somebody that is training with the intent of adding muscle and building size and you have hit a bit of a plateau and you’re not making, you know, gains like you are hoping for, Then it’s probably time to really have a bit of a reality check and, you know, test those, uh, training intensities and can you do more?

And I can say that was how I used to train when I was in my early twenties. Um, I kind of just picked up the same weights for. Months and months and months on end and never really tried to make any advances. And yeah, it was kind of frustrating to look back and go, wow, I wasted so many months or years in the gym not progressing because I just never pushed myself quite hard enough And mm-hmm.

Like I said before, I think the key thing or turning point for me in discovering what I could do was when I went through a powerlifting training block and was getting on a platform like that, really took me to a new place. And I can also say similar things have happened, um, when I did prepare for a bodybuilding show, just the different work ethic that is required, um, to get there.

And we were kind of talking about, you know, the desire for a bikini, bikini body, um, you know, there the people that you see at the top. They are working so incredibly hard. Um, it’s crazy. And I think for the average person who’s just looking to improve their body composition, I don’t think you need to work that hard.

But, um, you know, it’s, it’s kind of like everything in moderation. It’s great to train to, you know, failure sometimes. Um, it’s probably okay to train to technical failure sometimes, but training to absolute failure where it’s complete breakdown of technique and you are really stressing your essential nervous system, that’s probably not something that you wanna do all that often unless it is, you know, in the lead up or preparation for something like a power lifting meet.

So, I think there’s merit to, you know, having push phases and then kind of just coasting phases. Um, and it all does come back to what your ultimate goals are to when you know you’re going into the gym.

Mike: Yeah. Something that, um, that has helped me in this regard is every few months I do some amrap, so as, as many reps as possible.

Yeah. I, I’ll, I’ll just do one, one set and I’ll do more in the workout, but, you know, I’ll warm up in my first set, my top set on that squat or that deadlift or bench press or overhead press. It’s usually just the big exercises. Yep. It’ll be, it’ll be an AM wrap. And that’s where I’m also mentally prepared to, I’m, I’m gonna push myself, I’m not gonna go to absolute failure.

Mm-hmm. But, um, I, I’m also gonna pay attention to bar speed and that has helped me too. Mm-hmm. Just understand. Mm-hmm. That, no, regardless of how that rep felt, if that bar didn’t slow down. At all. Or if, if, if it did slow down, I, I wasn’t aware of it. If it moved quickly mm-hmm. I can, I can keep going, but once it starts slowing down, then that’s when I’m really paying attention.

Holly: The velocity devices out there now are actually pretty cool. Yeah. I haven’t personally, uh, given it a go. Um, my husband does ’cause he’s still prepping for power lifting. But yeah, that, that would be super valuable in sofar as you can kind of, you might feel like subjectively like you’re not having a great day or maybe you didn’t have a good night’s sleep, but you can go in, set this, um, bar velocity device up and.

It could tell you like, Hey, the speed of your bar’s moving great today. So hey, go for it. Set yourself up for, you know, the weights that you might usually choose on a good day. So, yeah.

Mike: Yeah, yeah. That’s that. And that’s a good point regarding the perceived effort. Mm-hmm. Because research shows that just even one night of poor sleep, it might not impair your performance.

Mm-hmm. But it might make the workout feel harder. And I think we’ve all experienced that. And so again, the paying attention to bar speed, I don’t use a device, but I will just pay attention. Yeah. And, and I’ve lifted enough now I have a, I have a, uh, I guess a, a good intuitive understanding of how, uh, it works with my body.

Like one of the guys who works with me, he has an interesting type of, um, Um, I mean, it’s just, I guess, physiological makeup in that he’s very strong. Yep. Um, and the bar moves quickly, quickly, quickly. Nothing. That’s it. There is no, he cannot, he cannot grind. He just can’t do it. He’s like not made for it.

Right. Yeah. Whereas I’m somewhere in the middle. Most people are somewhere in the middle where Yeah. We, we can grind out that last rep or two. And so, uh, to, for, for me, again, just to, just to keep my, my subjective understanding of what failure really feels like. Mm-hmm. When I’m, when I’m pushing myself on those am wraps, I really am going to where, like that last rep is a grinder.

But to your point that you were making earlier, I don’t do that. I, I do that once every few months. Mm-hmm. Um, all the rest of my training, at least on the big exercises, my. Let’s say it’s my fourth set of squats. Uh, the bar’s gonna slow down a little bit on that final rep, but yeah, um, I’m still gonna probably have at least one or two left, uh, in, in the tank, whereas okay, fine.

If it’s a biceps curl, I might go to absolute failure in the fourth set because who cares, right?

Holly: Yeah, exactly. Those small muscles. Now it’s funny you mentioned sleep, actually. Um, I was doing some reading about this, uh, recently just through some personal struggles that I was having. Uh, and I had like countless nights, uh, I won’t say it’s like chronic sleep impairment, but um, I was having a lot of difficulty sleeping and I’m sure there’s probably a lot of listeners, um, that have had, uh, this experience.

They might have like newborn babies or they’ve got children and toddlers that are kind of coming in and waking them up or. Maybe just a lot of work, stress and, you know, their sleep is starting to, um, you know, become something, uh, that is not ideal.

Mike: I’ve, I’ve been there for years now, uh, since the arrival of my daughter.

She’s four now.

Holly: Oh, wow.

Mike: That was the, that was the end of, of consistent good sleep for me, period.

Holly: Yeah.

Mike: I don’t know.

Holly: It’s, it, it, I think it gets better as they get older. It’s like, The sleep gets better, but then other things are like equally stressful. Yeah. So it’s just constantly changing one stress after another.

But, um, on the topic of sleep, um, there was actually, uh, a paper that I was looking at, um, a few weeks ago. Um, I think it was a 2021. So it was quite recent actually. And they actually observed that, um, at one acute night of s sleep deprivation actually led to about, I think it was close to 20% decrease in their rate of muscle protein synthesis.

Hmm. So I was like, wow, like that’s really, really concerning. Like, it really kind of snapped me back into, um, you know, getting back to a good like, sleep routine and trying to work on like, okay, what are all these stresses that are keeping me awake? Um, and then, uh, Yeah, there was another, another study as well was looking at, um, three different types of sleeping conditions.

And, uh, there was a group that had, um, eight hours, uh, we’ll call that like the normal sleep group. Um, then there was another group that had, um, four hours, um, of sleep restriction. And then the final group was sleep restriction. And then they were made to exercise. Um, and of course, as you’d expect, the group that had, um, the four hours of sleep, they had significantly lower rates of muscle protein synthesis than the group that slept for a full night.

But the good thing was that the group that did the exercise and was still under those sleep restricted conditions, they still had similar rates of protein synthesis, which is actually, uh, which is good. I mean, it kind of helps attenuate some of those impairments. So, um, I think. Thinking about some of that acute sleeping difficulties.

Um, hopefully it’s not too, uh, we don’t have to worry about that too much, but I think if it becomes something that’s chronic, like that’s when you wanna really start considering or like reflecting back on, um, you know, your life stresses, like, what’s going on with my lifestyle? You know, um, how’s my caffeine intake?

Like what are all these things that are potentially contributing to that lack of sleep? So, um, I guess there’s a few little things that we can do to, uh, help mitigate that. So

Mike: have you found what has worked for you or are you still, is it something you’re still working on?

Holly: Yeah, so, um, mine was actually hormonal, so I, um, I put up something on my stories a few months ago.

Um, I was. Just not sleeping, period, because I was so hot, so I could not sleep. I would actually take some,

Mike: I can’t sleep either. If I’m hot, it’s just not gonna happen.

Holly: Yeah. So I was sweating profusely. Like I took some pictures of my, um, bedding, like when I got up in the morning, and it was like if I was laying like a starfish, like you would see the imprint of my body, like a starfish.

Like it was, it was really insane. And I was with like the temperature set to, I don’t know, 65 in our bedroom. Wow. So I ended up going out and getting like all these fancy like bed cooling devices and I’m still kind of working through it, but I think for me it’s hormonal. So I’ve had a couple of tests done and.

Things were actually okay. So we’re still investigating it, but it’s, um, yeah, very stressful. And um, obviously it’s not the best thing for, uh, your hypertrophy if it, if it’s something that’s ongoing. So, yeah.

Mike: And, and have you tried, uh, it sounds like you have, but, um, who have, I, I think I’ve seen a company eight sleep.

I mean, I not, I’m not, I’m not sponsored by them, but, uh, just what comes to mind? They, they have, uh, I guess it’s like a, some sort of covering or like a mat that you put in.

Holly: Yeah, so I’ve got mine, I have a bed jet. It’s the weirdest thing. Okay. I remember our cleaner came into our house and she’s like, she just sees these two things sitting on our bedroom floor.

But it, it, it’s, um, Uh, you plug it in and, uh, the, the bedding basically has cool air blown in between the sheet. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, yeah, it’s, you can set it at whatever temperature you want, uh, and different fan speeds, but yeah, apparently I’m just a hot sleeper. I need to sleep in aloo.

Mike: I, I, I, I understand I am as well.

Fortunately for me, it’s just if, if, uh, if the AC is set anywhere till I just like maybe 68 to 70 mm-hmm. I’ll be fine. And I sleep just with like a sheet or a blanket, though I can’t sleep, I. Uh, underneath a comforter or a duvet. Um, so mm-hmm. Current, currently, my, my daughter, she refuses to sleep by herself.

And so I sleep in, I sleep in her bed just because three of us, three of us in one, it’s just not worth doing. It’s just not worth it. So I’m in, I’m in her bed, so I, but, but when, uh, like if Sarah and I go on a trip or something, like, I’m just, you know, she has the, the comforter ’cause she’s a cold, she’s a cold sleeper Uhhuh.

I’m just, I’m just a, a, a sheet guy and that, that, that’s what has worked for me. But I, I can, I, I, uh, I, I sympathize because I know, I know what that, uh, issue is like.

Holly: Yeah. I think, uh, my strategy has been that if I’ve had just one bad night, I will still go and train. But I will probably pick like a, a slightly lighter training session to do.

I will not be picking. My hardest session was like my least favorite compound movement. I probably won’t be doing deadlifts on the day where I’ve had a bad night’s sleep. And I guess a lot of people have that concern as well as if they aren’t, um, going into train because they have had chronic, you know, multiple nights of, um, no sleep.

They’re worried about weight gain. So, um, I think, um, just opting for some like easy cardio in those situations to help kind of manage that energy balance can be a good, um, stability.

Mike: Yeah. And just to move around, right? Yeah. I mean, so you’re not just sitting around all day.

Holly: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Mike: Hey there. If you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome.

Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend or a loved one or a not so loved one even who might want to learn something new? Word of mouth helps really bigly in growing the show.

So if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. Let’s, let’s, let’s shift gears back to, to the, to to training for a bikini body. How important is chest work?

Holly: Good question. Um, it can be, it’s probably not as important for a bikini model as it is for a bodybuilder.

Um, there’s definitely still value in incorporating some, um, I guess a lot of the exercises that I do are kind of chest and some shoulder work, and, you know, having that, um, nice capped shoulder is incredibly important. So I do a lot of crossover exercises that will target both my chest and my shoulders.

Um, but it’s. If you had to,

Mike: what are, what are some of the exercises that you like to do?

Holly: Um, I do, goodness. What do I do? Floor presses, dumbbell floor presses is a favorite of mine. Um, I’ll do just a regular, like incline alternating dumbbell presses. I also really love barbell press just from doing power lifting, so I still do incorporate, um, I guess a mixed, uh, rep range for just a barbell bench press.

Um, so yeah, I’ll have like, one of my sessions will be a higher rep range, might be twelves, and then I might have my other, um, chest exercise at like a slightly lower strength-based rep, rep range. And because I’m very competitive, I’ll do like a pyramid. So I might have, um, set one is a six set two is a three, and then I might hit my last set as a, a one rep max, just for fun to keep it interesting.

But I, I don’t think that you need to have a super high amount of chest volume. I do think it can help give, um, you know, the nice kind of defined, um, separations through the chest, which I think is, um, pretty prominent for the bikini competitors. But, you know, as a percentage of your total weekly training volume, I would say it probably would be about 10 to 15%.

It’s not something, uh, anywhere near as important as glutes, um, for the bikini girls. And then of course, shoulders.

Mike: And, and regarding lower body training. Mm-hmm. And, um, we, we could, we could include glutes in, in that as well. What, what, how, how do you like to, to, to think about volume and what would be your recommendations for, um, for volume, for, for women who are in different places in terms of their fitness.

And the reason I ask that is again, what I see in the gym is, uh, I, I see quite a few girls, younger girls doing mm-hmm. A lot of lower body volume. I mean, it must be 30 plus hard sets for further lower body per week. Oh wow. And those are. Those, those are not, those are not, um, all squats and, and very difficult exercises, but Yeah.

Uh, you know, I’m in there five days a week at the same time every day. So you, so you start seeing, you see that volume, the same volume Yeah. You start seeing the same people and it’s like, wow, she’s treating, she does lower body every single day and, you know, 45 minutes of a workout is a lower body.

Holly: Yeah. So, I’ll tread carefully here because I definitely have had many programs, um, specifically with the intention of really fast tracking, um, my lower body growth. And it’s been in my like, mid, mid, um, mid-year or mid-season, um, uh, between competitions. So. If we are to look at, I guess, the general consensus of research and what is deemed, I guess, an effective, um, training set or weekly training volume, uh, per muscle group, it tends to be somewhere between, uh, 10 to 15 sets, and that is going to be an effective training or a set number for most people.

One of the studies that I’m thinking of is a study by, um, Brad Schoenfeld. It was from 2017, um, and that was a meta-analysis and that looked at, uh, I think there were 15 studies that were included in that, and they found that 10 sets, um, led to the greatest, uh, outcomes on muscle gain. Um, five to nine was, um, slightly less, but it was better than five.

So I think the point of that story is that, you know, 10 sets in that particular meta-analysis seemed to deliver the best outcomes.

Mike: And, and sorry if I missed this because Zoom went a little bit wonky on me, but, um, what’s the time, what’s the timeframe that we’re looking at here? So 10 per

Holly: 10 per week?

Yeah. Weekly. A weekly set.

Mike: You might, you might’ve mentioned that, but again, zoom, uh,

Holly: GL out on, that’s, that’s okay. I probably missed it. So yeah, that’s 10 to 15 sets per week per muscle group. Yep. Um, There was another, uh, paper that came out, uh, shortly after in 2018, and they actually found, uh, well they had I guess increasing training volumes and they were also, um, looking at, uh, hypertrophy outcomes and they had the upper end of that.

So 15 sets, uh, actually was kind of the limit. And then any sets thereafter, um, we started to see a bit of a tapering effect in, um, hypertrophy. And part of that I think is due to the, um, study populations as well. If we look at that particular study, they were looking at like untrained, uh, athletes. So I think, you know, if we were to look at trained athletes, Like profession at the professional level, and I’m talking like some of the bikini athletes that are, you know, very experienced lifters.

They probably have a slightly higher tolerance. Um, you know, if you are, you know, training very frequently, uh, you’ve developed, you know, a lot of muscle mass is probably going to be, uh, greater stimulus required to elicit the same, um, adaptation. So they’re probably not gonna get quite as much swelling and that acute inflammatory response from their training, um, compared to somebody that is just starting out.

You know, if they were to hop straight into 15 sets, um, you know, from having come from zero, um, you know they’re gonna be in a world of pain. So, I think, um, you know, these studies are really great to kind of point us in the right direction, you know, and I think that’s a really great number, but a lot of the time people will then ask, okay, so if 15 sets is a good number per muscle group, what about, you know, exercises that target, you know, two muscles, like we were talking about squats before.

Um, you know, so do we count that as glue? Do I, do I I get to count that. Yeah. Yeah. Is that a glute, is is it just a quad? Is it hamstringing? And I think that it’s, uh, worthwhile incorporating, um, movements that are specific and isolated to certain muscle groups that you want to grow and then you cannot, um, It’s undeniable.

You can’t just pretend like those other movements aren’t also working this muscle group. So I tend to kind of tack those on as like the extra volume. But I mean, that also requires a lot of knowledge around what movements are, you know, in working which muscle groups. So it can be very helpful, I think, to, to work with a professional to get, uh, a better idea about, you know, what volume is appropriate over the course of a week.

Mike: And when you’re thinking about, I guess you could term it, uh, maybe direct versus indirect. Indirect volume. Indirect, yeah. Maybe is is a way that you could, you could phrase that. Um, do you like to, so let’s, let’s, we can use glutes again as an example. If, if you’re gonna do call it 15 to maybe 20 hard sets for your glutes in a week, let’s say.

Mm-hmm. Um, do you pay attention to, are you deliberately programming? All right. I want half of these to be direct or like, meaning, like a, a hip thrust or some of these other exercises you mentioned, or maybe even two thirds and then the remaining, uh, indirect volume will come from my squats or some of these other movements.

Holly: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think, um, I tend to program a very, um, specific amount of compound exercises that. That are direct. Mm-hmm. Um, and then I will, um, I will not, let’s say I wanted to target my, um, what else? We’ll, we’ll go with the glute theme. So I would, or shoulders, you mentioned shoulders, theme.

Shoulders. Okay. So I would probably have, um, some, I. Uh, more challenging muscle groups, so, um, uh, sorry, not muscle groups, exercises that are, um, heavier hitting like a, an overhead press or, um, a barbell, um, shoulder press or something like that. And then I might also incorporate some, you know, smaller isolation exercises that are like rear dealt focus.

So it might be something on the cables, it might be, um, you know, something with dumbbells. They’re just, um, lower, lower loads in general and higher rep ranges. So I tend to focus, um, I’ll have a good percentage, which probably is about 50% of that volume coming from compound uh, exercises. And then the remaining from smaller isolation exercises, which aren’t as taxing on your central nervous system.

Um, but if you tried to do all 15 to 20 sets, like just compound, especially on those bigger muscle groups, your,

Mike: your shoulders are no longer gonna, that, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s what’s gonna happen.

Holly: Yeah. That would be really challenging.

Mike: Take, take like a barbell bench press, maybe a flat or, or any sort of, let’s say chest focused press.

Um, w would you then count, okay, that’s some indirect volume, at least for, for front des, for example.

Holly: Mm-hmm. Yeah, absolutely. Yep. Okay. And a little bit of tricep as well. Sure. Yep, yep. Mm-hmm.

Mike: For sure. Yep. So that makes sense. So you’re, you’re again, prioritizing your compound lifts. Mm-hmm. And then looking at, okay, what else do I want to do in this training block?

Yep. Uh, and then using isolation exercises to bring that volume up to where it needs to be.

Holly: Yeah. I’ll actually go through, like as an example, um, when I’m building out a training program, I’m looking at, I’ll like set up all of the different muscle groups. So we’ve got everything listed top to bottom, so it’s like quads, hamstrings, glutes, um, calves and chest back, uh, shoulders, and then the different shoulder muscles.

So I’ll go through and kind of tick off as I’m creating the workouts, which muscle groups they’re targeting. And then at the end of that, like weekly training block, I’ll be able to see, okay, how many. Sets, uh, have I actually done on each of these to kind of give me a good feel for what’s the volume like per muscle?

So it kind of usually lands right in about these numbers. And for some of our advanced programs it might be, um, you know, 15 up to 25, um, you know, sets on a muscle group. But then for our beginner programs, it will sit in that lower range. So somewhere from five, you know, maybe up to 15, um, you know, at the end of a, you know, a six week training block that last week might have one week that’s a little bit higher, um, as they’ve kind of progressively overloaded.

Mike: So, yeah, that makes sense. I do the same thing when I’m programming my own training and then when I’ve created the different programs in my books and so forth. Yeah, just do it in Excel, all the muscle groups and just tallying up the, the volume just to make sure that I’m not accidentally. Making my program lopsided, you know?

Holly: Yeah. I’ve seen some interesting programs, uh, from people that have come across to work with us before. It’s uh, yeah. Yeah. It’s funny in interesting.

Mike: Yeah. Uh, speaking about shoulders, this is, uh, something that every, every natural weightlifter, uh, it, they always want bigger shoulders. It sounds, it feels like we can never get enough shoulder development.

Um, what, what has, so, so here’s, here’s a question I get asked. I want, I want to give it to you, um, specifically with a smaller muscle group. Like, um, well, you know, we have a few different muscles here in the shoulders, but I get asked this regarding calves and biceps as well. Uh, different exercises and rep ranges, for example, how useful.

People will ask me how useful is doing heavy work for the shoulders? And by heavy, um, let’s, let’s say anything over probably 80% of one rep max, um, on, on any exercise, whether it’s an overhead press or, or maybe even a side raise, like should you ever do side raises in the, in the rep range of maybe five to seven or six to eight, or because it’s a smaller muscle group, should you always be doing higher rep sets?

What are your thoughts on that? And then anything else that you’ve found that just has been good for shoulder development in particular that isn’t just immediately obvious, you know?

Holly: Yeah. Um, gosh, I dunno whether I’ve got anything super, um, groundbreaking to give you, but I definitely have great shoulders, but that’s probably genetic.

So I think, um, for the most part, again, looking at like muscle groups, the size of the, the joints and, um, I guess the, the supporting muscles. Generally speaking, I will program strength rep ranges for, um, my compound lifts. So I am looking at my bench press, my squats, my dead lifts, uh, and any variation of those.

So, you know, I might be doing like a leg press. Um, I might potentially program, you know, a set of sixes or sneak up to eights. Um, I will keep those kind of strength rep ranges for those, um, bigger, heavier hitting, um, exercises for smaller muscle groups. Um, like the shoulders, um, triceps, biceps, I’d say calves as well.

I tend to focus on mid rep ranges. I think that it is quite difficult, um, to hit some of those heavier strength rep ranges without kind of risking, uh, injuries. Um, I know for me personally, if I have tried to do some of those heavier rep ranges, it’s when I’ve started to get lots of, um, wear and tear issues in my shoulders.

Uh, and I’ve had to take time off. Um, so I tend to work through, uh, moderate to high rep ranges on small muscle groups, and I save the, um, heavier exercises for, um, sorry, the lower rep ranges for, um, the big hitting, um, exercises. So for what that’s worth, take it or leave it.

Mike: Just, I was just curious. Yeah, I mean, I, I’ve experienced, um, my, my experience has been similar. Uh, I’ve, I’ve found that. Let’s say four to six has been okay. If, if it’s like a, a barbell overhead press. Yep. Um, but on a side raise mm-hmm. It, it’s, it, it too much, too much body English, it’s mm-hmm. It’s hard to maintain proper form.

Holly: So, I was just about to say, I think techniques probably the biggest giveaway there.

So, yeah. You know, if you, um, perform a set of 10 to 12 reps with an overhead barbell press, you can probably maintain pretty good form as you start to go up in weight and that rep range comes down. You’re probably gonna start having to compromise and use other muscle groups. So then begs the question like, how much are you actually using your shoulders now and not just all the supporting, um, muscle groups in your core, in your chest.

Yeah. So if you’re really trying to isolate a small muscle, I think you, there may be some benefits to sticking to something in that moderate rep range and keeping the loads a little bit more manageable so that you’re not really cheating and using other, other muscle groups to kind of move and throw around the weight.

Mike: Yeah. Uh, speaking of, of shoulders and, and running into shoulder issues, have you tried dead hangs? Have you ever done just consistently what’s a dead hang? So just, just, just hanging. Like as if you’re gonna do a pull up. Right. Oh, really? Uh, and, and so, so interesting. Um, there, oh, what’s his name? It’s not gonna come to me.

People can, can, uh, fact check me. They can look this up. But, so there was, uh, there was a guy, his name’s not coming to me. He wrote a book on this. So he was a surgeon, uh, for like 30 years. And he had done a lot of, I mean, had seen firsthand, uh, a lot of shoulders getting messed up in a mm-hmm. In a lot of different ways.

And in working with patients, he found that hanging was really good for, for. The shoulders and it was the stretching and the tension on the, the ligaments and the tendons and a lot of the smaller muscles. And, um, so I, I was getting some biceps tendonitis, which mm-hmm. Uh, had, had what was stemming from tight subscap.

Mm-hmm. Tight infraspinatus, tight lat. So I would get in, I would get tightness all around here and eventually that would start to bother my shoulder. And you, I would feel it when I would bench press. And just several months ago, um, I had, I’ve experienced this before, so when it started to come and I was like, ah, okay, this again, so got off the bench press and just found some variations that I could do.

There were like a, there’s like a little bench press machine that the gym has that doesn’t bother my shoulder. Alright, fine, I’ll do that. And I came across though this guy, um, and, and his recommendation of Dead Hangs, I don’t know if he’s around anymore, but he wrote a book on it. Hmm. And um, and so I started to do that.

Five days a week, sometimes on the weekend. I don’t, I don’t have anything here in this house, but mm-hmm. Um, I happen to like be at the little country club nearby with my kids. Mm-hmm. And they have a gym there, so I go in and hang. Right. And so I was doing just four sets and I’m still doing it, but, um, four sets mm-hmm.

Of 30 to 45 seconds. That’s it. That’s, yep. And, and, and hanging and really feeling that stretch, um, with just a standard double overhand grip. And then also I started doing it with, um, uh, a neutral, like palms facing grip. Yep. And, um, within three weeks, the shoulder issue is completely gone. Mm-hmm. Back to bench pressing.

And it has, it’s, it’s been good now for several weeks. Mm-hmm. And now I do my hangs, uh mm-hmm. That’s just part, I finish every workout with just four sets of, uh, dead hangs for 30, 45 seconds. So. That’s cool. Just wanted to share that just for, for you and people listening that I love simple fixes. Yeah. And, um, I, I looked around online and I’m not the only one.

This is apparently kind of a thing, especially among athletes who jack their shoulders up. Mm-hmm. Like baseball players, for example. Apparently this is popular among competitive

Holly: Well that really has that, um, shoulder use. Yeah. Yeah,

Mike: so, so anyway, it’s just recommending that I’ll give it a go even, even, even if, even if people are not having shoulder issues, um, I wish I could remember the guy’s name, but, um, this, this surgeon who wrote this book, he recommends it also just for maintaining shoulder health and function.

And so,

Holly: well, I mean, and it’s probably to me like thinking about like the mechanics of the human body. It’s. That position isn’t really a position that we put ourselves in very often. Yeah. And that’s one of the only ways really to kind of stretch like through that, through that area. So that makes sense.


Mike: And allow your body weight to to to stretch.

Holly: Yeah. To lengthen out. Yeah. I’ve done something, um, not hanging, but with, um, band. So I’ll, you kind of lay on the ground with one of those, um, uh, the rollers like running up and down, um, on your back. Mm-hmm. And then you’ve got your bands, um, attached to a wall behind you.

Mm-hmm. And you’re basically trying to keep your scapula really low and you pull these bands down, um, as close to your body as you can, like nice and controlled with some kind of resistance. And that was another thing ’cause you’re in that lengthened position, um, like strengthening some of those. Small muscles, um, through the subscap, which we don’t always get to train, um, you know, with our day-to-day life or even in the gym.

So that’s another good one too.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. So I just wanted to share that because, uh, I think that’s, that’s useful. Oh yeah. Mm-hmm. For, for weightlifters. ’cause it’s inevitable if, if you do this stuff for long enough, it, it, I don’t think, uh, it’s fair to say that injuries, acute injuries are inevitable, but repetitive stress injuries are inevitable.

Mm-hmm. And inevitably something is going to hurt now and then. Oh, yes. And, and it’s gonna be the shoulder. Uh, sometimes like everyone’s gonna experience that if you do this long.

Holly: Uh, my last shoulder injury was, Uh, we were out on a vacation in California and the, um, property that we had was like a pebble that right in front was a pebble beach.

And, uh, lane, my husband and I were decided to have a throwing competition, like completely cold. Like we’d been inside. We probably had a couple of drinks at this point. And, uh, both of us, I think both of us strained our shoulders. Like I couldn’t train, could not train shoulders. I couldn’t lift my arms above parallel for at least like 12 weeks.

So 12 weeks. Wow. Yeah, it’s like a running joke. So every time we go on holidays with our family friends now they’re like, now no throwing stones,

Mike: you know, like super fit, super fit people, you know, can’t even throw a rock. What? Yeah. Yeah. How did, how did you get hurt? Were you like bench pressing 400 pounds or something?

Yeah, no, just, nah, I, I, I threw a rock.

Holly: Threw some stars.

Mike: Yeah, I threw some rock, so. Well, that’s funny. Those are, those are the, the questions that I had, uh, that I wanted to ask you. Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you just had in the back of your mind that. You think would be worth sharing in the

Holly: Yeah. Or, I think, I know we haven’t got a huge amount of time. There’s so many things that I could, uh, take a deep dive into. But I think just kind of wrapping up the conversation around training, um, I’d love to finish on just training frequency. Um, yeah, that is something that, uh, I think gives people a lot of frustration and confusion.

So, um, I think to, to kind of very quickly summarize, uh, about training frequencies, ’cause we were talking about set, uh, weekly set volumes earlier. Um, I do think that there are some additional benefits. To having, uh, a slightly higher training frequency over a low training frequency if the volume is matched.

Um, and by that I mean, I guess for those that are not quite as familiar with like what frequency is, I basically mean like spreading your weekly set volume out over the course of say, two or three different training sessions. I do think that that is likely to help you get the most out of every set that you do, because I think if you can imagine if you were relatively new to lifting and you decided to do all 15 sets, and let’s say you were hitting your quads in one session and you did like five sets of front squats like you were saying before, and then you did five sets of leg extensions and five sets of quad focused lunges, your quads.

Pretty much gonna be destroyed by the time you get to those last few sets.

Mike: Yeah. You, you, you better, you better have a wheelchair moment.

Holly: Yeah. Just make sure you’ve got a buddy to carry you out to your car. So I do think that there are some benefits to having some slightly higher training volumes, um, just to avoid having some of those, um, like monster single sessions, um, that focus on one muscle group because.

That is more likely to end up just leaving you on the couch for a few days. So I am a big advocate of higher training frequencies and I could think it’s also a really practical tool for a lot of people too. Especially if someone is like just kind of venturing into the gym. It can be really intimidating to look at this program with a long list of like eight exercises.

So to know or to feel comfort in that just working through what they can within a short timeframe. And it might only be that they can, they get through 30 minutes and that’s enough for them. They’ve gotta leave, that’s fine. Um, you know, coming back the next day, like finishing off that same muscle group, if it was a lower body program, might actually be beneficial.

They might get more out of each of those individual sets and hopefully get better muscle hypertrophy outcomes. So. We’ll leave it at that

Mike: and, and, uh, just ’cause, just ’cause you brought it up. I, I think we should also quickly comment though then on this idea of workout splits. Mm-hmm. Because that question, at least when I get asked about frequency, it’s usually also regarding a split.

Okay. Well, um, if I’m gonna train. Let’s say at least the major muscle groups that I’m most interested in developing. If I’m gonna make sure I’m training those two or three times per week, uh, what is the best split is usually the question that I’ll get outta probably,

Holly: I hate that question.

Mike: I know, I know. But, but you know, I understand why people are asking. Yeah. It’s not, it’s not, it’s not because they’re stupid. It’s actually a good question.

Holly: No, it truly is. And I think there are so many ways to put together a really effective program. I, I don’t think that there is a right or wrong way. Uh, like we were talking about before, I think the most important thing is to make sure that your program is set up in a way that it is specific to meet your goals.

Um, I think I see a lot of people just kind of doing. Um, you know, the, the latest program or workout of their favorite influencer and Yep.

Mike: You know, it’s like right now, full body training is right, is very, is very trendy. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I, I don’t, I don’t agree at least. Uh, I’d be curious as to your thoughts, but I don’t agree that that is universally the best split that everybody should be doing full body training regardless of their circumstances or both.

Holly: Yeah, and, and I mean, again, it comes down to like what muscle grips are you trying to focus on? Like if you’re doing a five day training split and it’s all full body, um, I. To me, that would be an absolute waste of time because if you’re doing full body truthfully, that means that every session’s gonna have my biceps and triceps being used.

I don’t need to grow my biceps and triceps as much as I want to grow my glutes or my pods or, you know, my hamstrings or my shoulders. So, um, I do think that you have to get a little bit more specific with though the muscle groups that you’re wanting to target. There are so many ways to do this, guys. I think the main thing is not trying to do too much in one program.

Um, you know, spreading out your, um, training, uh, your weekly set volume over a number of days. Um, you know, but two to five days a week, six days a week, whatever it is that works for you. Um, I don’t think that there is a right or wrong in that regard. We do have those minimum cutoffs, um, that are effective weekly training volumes to elicit, you know, maximal outcomes.

Um, but how you structure it, whether it’s, you know, back, um, you know, push pull or you know, leg day and arms like it, I really don’t think that there is a whole lot of, um, anything being left on the table if you try to do it another way. I really would encourage people to think about what their goals are.

Um, you know, put together just a program, stick with it, commit to it, you know, rather than just hopping from one program to another. Um, and just monitoring your progress and, you know, then make some small changes from there based on the feedback that you get. So, yeah.

Mike: Just to refer back to something you had mentioned, um, earlier regarding making sure that you’re doing your, your, your compound, uh, exercise when you’re building your programming, looking mm-hmm.

Where that volume lands you, and then, and then adding on mm-hmm. That, that’s similar to how I program my own training. I guess you could kind of look at it in layers. Mm-hmm. I wanna make sure I know that I want to be doing, um, I wanna be doing some flat pressing, some incline pressing, some overhead pressing.

I wanna be doing some dead lifting and squatting every week. Mm-hmm. And I, I like to set those up in the way that I like to set those up. And as. For people listening. The more you do this, the more you learn what you like. And, and I think it’s smart to play into what you like. Mm-hmm. Because then you’re gonna like your training more.

Yeah. You’re gonna be more divided to go. Exactly. So, so once that’s in place, then looking at, okay, uh, where do I want to add extra volume and why? And then wh in which workouts? Now, as you just said, it, it doesn’t matter that much, so long as it gets done and it, it’s not obviously, uh, mis programmed. Like it’s not, I’m, I’m not, I’m not doing 15 sets for one muscle group in one workout, like you mentioned, but where it’s, where it’s split up and it, and I can, it’s something I can get done in 60 minutes and it allows me to, to start with my hardest, heaviest lifts and end with the easier stuff.

And so long as it checks those boxes, uh, that approach has worked well for me. Mm-hmm. I would agree. And so, so it sounds like I’m just echoing what you said, but uh, yes, thanks again for, for taking the time to do this. And why don’t we wrap up with where people can find you online, find your work, if there’s anything in, in in particular that you want people to

Holly: know about.

Yeah, absolutely. Um, so we have a, a range of different programs, products, services, um, but everything thankfully can be found at the one place and it is, uh, right in my Instagram handle. So, uh, my Instagram is Holly t Baxter, uh, and you can click that little old link and it’ll bring up all of our workout programs.

We have our brand new website launching this week and a brand new workout platform, which is awesome. Nice. We have a research review, we have a nutrition coaching app, uh, supplements as well. Um, so yeah, you can get all of that good stuff, uh, in our Instagram.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. You and Lane stay busy.

Holly: We do, we do.

Mike: Well, uh, thanks again for doing this,

Holly: Holly. This was great. No, I had a good time. Thank you so much for, uh, inviting me. Absolutely.

Mike: Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.

And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have, uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, [email protected], muscle f o r, and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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