When you're time-strapped and looking to get stronger, adding reps and sets and even weight might not be the best approach. In their book, Deep Fitness, Philip Shepherd and Andrei Yakovenko show us how time under load (time under tension) is a better way to add volume and get stronger.
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Let's Say Hello
[00:04:04.670] – Allan Hey, Raz, how are things going?
[00:04:06.890] – Rachel Good. How are you today, Allan?
[00:04:08.810] – Allan I'm doing all right. I imagine Michigan's starting to get a little bit cool.
[00:04:14.030] – Rachel Oh, yes. In fact, we have snow in the forecast, so just flurries, but, yeah, it's about to get real cold.
[00:04:23.210] – Allan We've been really hot here. I mean, temperature here has been pretty warm and dry. We just got rain today and some wind and rain. The wind came in last night and felt really nice because when it's warmer and it's windy, doesn't quite feel as bad because the wind kind of gives you kind of a cooling coming off the water, particularly. And then today it's raining, which is good island that survives on the water that we catch. Kind of important to catch some. It's kind of important to have something to catch.
[00:04:52.490] – Allan So, yeah, a little bit of rain. And then as we're recording this, we're going into the holiday season here in Panama. So Panama has independence from Spain.
[00:05:06.530] – Allan Independence from Colombia, and then independence from the United States. And all of those holidays happen in November. So the first week of November is just sort of like just a big holiday week. And people like to travel and do the things inside. So tourism is picking up. People are coming. So Lulu's is starting to get busy and go. And it was kind of funny because we were sitting there and we started getting Lula's on Airbnb. And so Tammy set up and we're supposed to next day talk to our service provider that actually lets our booking agent talk to Airbnb.
[00:05:46.550] – Allan So at this point in time, she's just set it up and we get our first reservation. Ten minutes.
[00:05:53.630] – Allan And there's somebody hits us up for reservation.
[00:05:56.870] – Allan We go on there like, okay, well, run, go, Mark this off on the booking engine because they're not talking yet. We don't want someone to double book. So we managed to get through that and figure that out and then figure out how when PayPal gets money, how to get PayPal to pay us. I think we've done that. Anyway, we're still ironing out like things as we're just getting things going. But things are starting to heat up here, and that's good and keeping Tammy on her toes. In fact, right now, as we're talking, she's at the airport picking up some guests that are flying in today.
[00:06:29.090] – Rachel Oh, that sounds wonderful. How exciting.
[00:06:32.690] – Allan Yeah. Well, how are things up there?
[00:06:34.790] – Rachel Oh, really good. Like I mentioned, the fall is in full swing. We're in peak color right now, so the colors in our area are just beautiful. And over the weekend, Mike and I ran our Cal Haven Ultra marathon, and it's 33 and a half. Actually, it's 34 miles on the Cal Haven Trail. We run from Calaman Zoo to South Haven in Michigan, and it's a rails to trails pathway in the entire run. The girl I was running with and I we're just remarking it how gorgeous the colors are, the golds from the Oaks and the Reds and the Maples.
[00:07:13.190] – Rachel And it was just spectacular. It was just such a wonderful day. We all had a good run, so it was a lot of fun.
[00:07:20.630] – Allan Mike finished?
[00:07:22.010] – Rachel He did.
[00:07:22.910] – Rachel He and the guy he ran with, they're much faster, and they finished in 5 hours and 29 minutes,
[00:07:32.150] – Allan That's outstranding.
[00:07:32.150] – Rachel And they each secured first place in their respective age groups. So they did fantastic. And Luz and I finished just over 7 hours, 7 hours and two minutes, and we tied in our age group. We tried for seconds. So it was a really good day. And like I said, the fall weather was perfect. We didn't have any rain and we didn't have any blazing sun, so we couldn't have asked for better weather conditions. It was beautiful.
[00:08:01.790] – Allan Good way to close out your season.
[00:08:03.590] – Rachel Absolutely.
[00:08:05.270] – Allan So now you're going to be lifting some weights.
[00:08:07.670] – Rachel Yes, I am.
[00:08:08.570] – Allan Which is a good time for us to be talking about Deep Fitness.
[00:08:12.650] – Rachel Wonderful. It sounds great.
[00:09:14.690] – Allan Philip, Andrei, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:09:18.110] – Andrei It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you, Allan.
[00:09:19.970] – Andrei Yeah. Thanks, Allan. Nice to meet you.
[00:09:22.310] – Allan Now, I've had Dr. Mcguff and I've had John Little on and similar messaging, because you guys are coming from a very solid foundation of science-based resistance training. And when I saw the full work of the book by Dr. Mcguff, and he gave you such a glowing review, I got really excited to read this book, and I'm glad I did. So the name of the book we're talking about is Deep Fitness: The Mindful, Science-based Strength Training Method to Transform Your Wellbeing in Just 30 Minutes Per Week.
[00:10:01.730] – Allan That's a big promise. But I think you deliver. The book is phenomenal. The science is sound, and you do a really good job of explaining some things. And every once in a while, you get this kind of this. Aha moment of well, of course, that's how it works. There's a lot of that in the book, and it's a book that I'm definitely going to have as a reference that I'll go back to time and time again, because even someone who's been doing this for years, there was just a lot in there, even for me to absorb. But it was done well, it was written well, so I appreciate the opportunity to have you on the show.
[00:10:40.670] – Andrei Thank you.
[00:10:41.990] – Andrei Pleasure to be here with you, Allan.
[00:10:44.810] – Allan All right. So, one of the things that kind of hit me, and you put this right in the beginning of the book, which is what most of us do is why do I want to do this? And you say fitness starts with muscle. And initially, when I was reading, I was like, okay, yeah, on one side. And I've talked to people who are on the other side of this conversation with the aerobics and the cardio and all that.
[00:11:08.030] – Allan As we started getting into it, and it was just something really simple. Initially that kind of clicked with me, but I want to go a little deeper afterwards. But you said all these chronic diseases we have, many of them are caused because we're losing muscle.
[00:11:22.970] – Philip Yeah. It was a pretty big revelation. This guy in the 80s, there was a really powerful renewal of interest in aging, and a massive study had laid out in gruesome detail what happens to us as we age. It's like everything you take for granted in your youth starts to corrode. They came together in a conference and trying to figure out A what was causing it. And B if you could begin to reverse it. And this guy was sitting with all these papers because he volunteered to write a report on the conference.
[00:12:06.830] – Philip And what he realized was that every single condition that people were talking about was associated with a loss of muscle mass. And this didn't even have a word at the time. So he coined this word sarcopenia. Sarcopenia just means the wasting of muscle with age.
[00:12:28.010] – Philip And there'a an inevitability about it. I mean, you're just not as strong. You can't sprint as fast at 90 as you could at 25. But my gosh, in our culture, that loss is drastically accelerated. And what happened as they began to look into sarcopenia, and it slowly gained prominence in the fields of research, they realized that sarcopenia was associated with every single major chronic disease of civilization. These are diseases that are rare in huntergather cultures and prominent for ours. So suddenly, the role of muscle in our health was coming into a new light.
[00:13:19.370] – Allan I think one of the things you put in the book, which, like I said, it was kind of one of those wonderful light bulb moments. And there's many, many of those in this book was that we store sugar we eat in our muscles and our liver. And if we have less muscle, we have less storage capacity for that glycogen, which means our bodies have to store this fat. And so we start talking about the things like having pre diabetes and diabetes. The cause might not just be what we're eating, because what we were eating was probably fine for us.
[00:13:55.730] – Allan It was the fact that we've lost so much muscle mass. We just don't have the storage capacity for it anymore. And that's causing us the problems.
[00:14:03.470] – Andrei Yeah. And that would lead to increase in inflammation when we store body fat around organs that will also start producing those cytokines. And so on. We created havoc for our body. If we cannot store the glycogen, where it's supposed to go in the muscle or replenishing the liver, storage.
[00:14:23.390] – Andrei Yeah. Makes total sense.
[00:14:26.630] – Philip Sorry. I was just going to say the other side of that is glycogen is stored in the muscles. Well, a lot of it is stored in the large muscles. In the book we call the powerhouse muscles or the fast switch muscles. And that glycogen is only depleted with intense exercise. So with intense exercise, you can basically empty the muscles or not empty them, but deplete them of the glycogen. So then the storage space becomes available again.
[00:15:00.410] – Allan And we're starting to get to a point where we're understanding more and more how different things in our body are communicating with each other. You almost want to think that our muscles are separate from our fat, which is separate from our brain, which is separate from our microbiome. But the reality is all of these things actually communicate together. They're all releasing. And one of the things you brought up in the book was myokines. Could you dive a little bit into myokines and why they're so important?
[00:15:29.270] – Philip Yeah. For years, researchers understood that exercise had this global effect on the body. It affected every organ, every tissue and promoted health. And why? Like, they didn't know why. And then in the early 2000s, they discovered these endocrine messenger molecules called myokines. And they began to research them. And they found over 600 different kinds of Myokines that are released when muscle works. And the more intensely a muscle contracts and the stronger the muscle is, the more myokines are released, and they help in every system of the body.
[00:16:19.650] – Philip I mean, they promote mental acuity, they promote bone mineral density, they decrease inflammation. It goes on and on and on. The Myokines have sort of been dubbed the X-Factor, the unknown factor in exercise that resulted in such positive effects.
[00:16:40.650] – Allan And so to get the muscles to do that, we now have what you're bringing forward mindful strength training to failure, or MSTF. Can you talk a little bit about what that is and why that's so important?
[00:16:53.610] – Philip Yeah. I mean, there are several aspects to our mindful strength training to failure. The mindful part is important because that means you're bringing the whole of the body. It's difficult to describe because we tend to sit in our heads and tell the body what to do the way you'd sit on a donkey and beat it to go harder. So what we're proposing is a mindful approach that is made possible by a very slow movement. So, for example, if you're on a weight machine, you would lift the weight very, very slowly and let it down very, very slowly.
[00:17:35.850] – Philip And you continue to do that until you hit the point of momentary muscle failure. And that can take one and a half or two minutes. I mean, it happens quickly, and then you move on to the next exercise. Within a half hour, you can bring all the major muscles of your body to failure, and you can do one session a week and see improvements. And you really should be cautious in doing more than two sessions a week, because once you've taken a muscle group to failure, it takes time to recover.
[00:18:15.930] – Philip You need 72 hours. And if you don't allow the muscle to remodel, you undermine its effects in strengthening.
[00:18:24.990] – Philip And it just simplifies everything. When you go into this mindful space and you're present to this weight and you take it to failure.
[00:18:38.910] – Philip And it is a joy. This form of training, the high intensity training is known to be a form of suffering. And with MSTF, we're really emphasizing that as you bring a mindful quality to it, it holds a joy. It holds an aliveness that you may not encounter in the rest of your week.
[00:19:06.430] – Allan As I mentioned earlier, this is very deep in science backing. I mean, you guys spent a lot of time thinking about the whys, and this is not something that you've just done yourself. This is something that over the course of now, I guess decades have been coming to fruition, and now you guys are kind of putting it into a process that's very easy to follow. It takes less time than the standard. If you are going to talk about doing normal resistance training, I think most of us that would go in the gym and do the standard three sets of ten or whatever of X number of exercises and try to get a whole body workout and then try to do that every third or fourth time because maybe we didn't actually stress ourselves that much.
[00:19:48.790] – Allan So we're doing four or five, maybe six workouts per week.
[00:19:52.750] – Allan Here we're condensing it. We're a lot more mindful about the work we're doing. We're slowing way down. And so you've taken all these, all this science and you've now broken it. We have six principles that are rolled up into this model. That all are really valuable. As I went through, I was like, you can't not have that one. You can't have this one. So they're all really important. Could you go through those six principles? Because I think they're really important for someone to understand why this way of training is optimal.
[00:20:21.490] – Andrei Well, I think they're more like a steps of getting through your workout, because ultimately, when talking about the actual training principles, you can synthesize it to around four. But speaking of how we describe them in the book, we work on them in steps. And, for instance, step one, just get ready and just get prepared. Like, understand what you're about to do if you do it on your own with your partner, have a game plan, which machine, which sequence you going to do them. Have your stop push ready water bottle already. Getting that right mindset for what you about to do, because you're working out.
[00:21:04.690] – Andrei If you're thinking something else, you jump in. You don't have that kind of focus. It could be distracting, and you won't get quite the same workout. And this style of training is not kind of training where you do well with your chitchat and watching TV requires that mindfulness presence and that focus of what you're about to experience. That's kind of the first step is just get ready. Have a clear roadmap of how your next 30 minutes is going to look like. And then we just go through those steps.
[00:21:40.030] – Andrei Step two is becoming present. And this is where Philip is an expert..
[00:21:48.950] – Philip I'd be happy to talk to step two. You've got a stop watch with you, because what matters in MSTF isn't the number of reps that is irrelevant. What matters is what we call time under load, how long you go and you'll notice as you do it, you're going longer and longer before you begin pressing against the resistance. It's so important to drop down into your body and feel what you're feeling. I mean, we're trying to guide people away from the conventional approach. I'm going to do this thing.
[00:22:35.610] – Philip Okay. Here I am. I'm ready. This is very different. This isn't a top down mode of making the body do what's good for it for its own sake. This is a matter of joining the body in its intelligence and my gosh. Once you tap into that, the resources that are available to you will take you to failure in a way that that badgering of the voice in the head can't do because it falls into storytelling, just maybe one more. Oh, I think I'm there now. I got to stop all that chit chat goes away when you drop down into the body and you're just in the moment feeling what is happening and tapping more and more deeply into your resources.
[00:23:26.610] – Philip And Andrei, why don't you take us into step three?
[00:23:30.030] – Andrei I guess the first step is we describe it as muscle first movement, second. So I give a little bit of history because that principle. We've been doing it for eight years now. We have a couple of Studios here in Toronto, downtown Toronto. And when I first opened this place, I thought everybody was just like me. Quickly, I realized that's not the case. And working with people, all demographics, all age groups, all different mental neurological abilities quickly learn that not everybody is able to do this training how we kind of Doug McGuff and John Little described the body by science.
[00:24:12.750] – Andrei There are many answers to it. And one of them was some people, I would train them for months, and will still tell them, feel the lats, for example, doing a city throw exercise and tell me like, where are the lats? And it's kind of embarrassing because here's this client. I had this client for a few months, and he still doesn't know how to feel the lats. And at some point you can only repeat those cues so much, and then you move on. Right. And then actually from when I took one of the Philips workshops, he mentioned this experiment done in a scenario of neuroscience in an area of brain plasticity, where the quality of paying attention makes a neurological kind of difference in rewiring in your brain.
[00:25:05.370] – Andrei And he was using this example from the brain plasticity in his work. And when I was listening to realize this is why people struggle filling those muscles. So I asked if each book he came, I read the book. So the experiment is basically the book is called Brain that Changes Themselves. Written by Norman Deutsche. And I think it's the first chapter about the subject of brain plasticity. And there's this guy from the States. I think he's retired now he changed, I guess, the idea of neuroscience before his time neuroscience.
[00:25:42.870] – Andrei So the brain is sort of soft when we're younger. And then it kind of hardwired at older age cannot really wire anymore. So he challenged the whole paradigm. And she showed that the brain is still soft and plastic at any age. It might not be as soft as plastic as one of the children, but it's still soft. So one of the experiments, they talk there that kind of was light bulb for me when I heard it from Philip and read about it, they asked monkey to move index finger.
[00:26:10.290] – Andrei They look at the brain and they saw socio neurological map turning on, then asking ask monkey to move middle finger, basically, next body part, next finger and another neurological map turn on. They call them topographical brain maps. Because typically with two body parts near each other in the brain, those neurological maps will neighbor each other as well.
[00:26:33.150] – Andrei So what they did an experiment. They tied the two fingers together for a few months so monkey can only move two fingers together, cannot separate those two fingers. After several months, when they look at the brain, they discover those individual maps disappear. Instead, monkeys develop one large mob. They call it competitive plasticity. Basically something that you fire together are going to wire together. And what's going to happen? Something that you master day in, day out. It's quite literally what appears going to grow in real estate is going to take over the real estate of the adjustment maps that you don't use anymore.
[00:27:08.370] – Andrei And then it occurred to me, we see searching where we move, searching where we have these dense jobs. We don't feel the back anymore. Day in, day out, year after year, your brain will adjust to a current lifestyle. We have injuries. And I realized it's not because before I was focusing on the muscle, then I realized it was not the muscle. We have to start with the brain. We have to start with rebuilding those neurological brain maps or topographical maps to strengthen the signal into the muscle before even can focus on the muscle.
[00:27:39.570] – Andrei If you cannot send a potent signal, how can even isolate and target that muscle? So that kind of shifted my approach in the way I started hearing people. And I put this principle on top of our list and realizing that some people and it's clearly absorbed with the age related phenomenon. If I take a client in their 20s, everybody pretty much almost ten out of ten will get the cue, will get the right muscle. Feel the right muscle. With age, typically, the older somebody gets. Some people have harder and harder time, particularly those people who are new to strength training. By feeling the right muscle and by moving its mindfully slow by just feeling it,
[00:28:25.930] – Andrei What happens again, learning from the science of neuroplasticity brain neuroplasticity, we know that one of the fastest way to create a new memory pattern in the brain is by paying close attention to a task. When we pay close attention to a task, our brain activates nucleus basalis. It's a part of the brain and the rest of the brain. And what that does, it starts producing this very potent so called modulatory neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. And when we have high level of acetylcholine, from paying attention to a task, the brain becomes soft and plastic.
[00:29:06.130] – Andrei It's going to create those synaptic connections much faster rather than just mindlessly moving the weight up and down. So this quality of paying close attention to the map could be if you cannot feel the lats. I just tell people just that you call just feel it. I won't give you the normal cues until you can feel those right muscles, right. And after a few months, so many clients would come to me and tell me I feel muscles. I didn't know where I had right. So now I'm actually working.
[00:29:38.050] – Andrei So that's what that step is. When you train number one error. When I ask my more experienced strandedness, I absorb it myself and I ask them, what do we think what do we see here as a mistake and how people exercise? Number one, what we see is people prioritize the movement over targeting the right muscle and what happens you're going to strengthen those existing maps. And if they're not perfect to begin with the targeted muscles you try to reach, they're going to remain unstimulated. But at the same time, you're going to strengthen the other parts in your body.
[00:30:12.610] – Andrei And that leads to more imbalance down the road. And also you don't really get the job done because you're not targeting and stimulating the right muscles around the body. So the way we explain it here and also explain in the book is make sure you're feeling the right muscles and the joint and experience that movement experiences muscles and make the movement sort of happen as a byproduct as a result of that, rather than making about the movement if it makes sense.
[00:30:37.330] – Allan Absolutely.
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[00:32:24.150] – Andrei And I think we're going down to step four, which is something it's about the breath. And Philip is an expert, so he's going to elaborate on that.
[00:32:34.890] – Philip I mean, the breath in our culture, we have a very unsettled relationship with the breath. We tend to hold it. I mean, you hold the breath when there's something you'd rather not feel or there's something you have to do, and you don't want to be confused by all the sensations that the breath evokes, because to release the body to the breath is to precipitate an avalanche of sensations and the whole of the body can release to the breath. You can measure the breath wave, the effect of the breath traveling down through the legs and traveling up through the torso.
[00:33:20.910] – Philip So how to not only allow the breath to continue without being interrupted without being held because especially under pressure as you're holding the breath, it puts a huge amount of pressure on the internal organs. And then you find not only can you breathe continuously through the movement, but as the breath is released deeper and deeper from within the body, you are impelling the movement with the breath itself. That may sound strange, but it's as though the energy of the breath is moving the weight rather than trying to isolate the mechanics of it.
[00:34:09.510] – Philip So what's happening is the body as a whole is gathering behind this task and all of the body is contributing to whatever the movement might be by allowing the breath to be resourced from deep within the body and mindful strength training to failure of course. What do we mean by failure? That's step five. And I'm sure Andrei could clarify that for us.
[00:34:44.710] – Andrei While we can, while we younger have the ability, it's such a gift to be able to exercise and be able to bring those muscles to failure. At some stage. As we get older, we have injuries. Perhaps people develop what is cognitive impairment. They don't have the same ability to bring the muscle to failure, but while we can, it's the adaptation you get from reaching failure, not just increasing in strength, which is that's simple to understand. Take your muscle to full existing capacity and then some and then let your body time to recover, adapt and repeat.
[00:35:27.970] – Andrei And each time you bring it to failure, you're going to progressively do more and more and more assuming from week to week, you can get stronger and stronger. But as well, I don't know exactly, but I would guess 80-90% of the benefits you get from this training from those last 15, 30 seconds. When you approach and failure. When you tap it into that fight and flight sympathetic nervous system, the body starts producing adrenaline, by the way, that also will raise your acetylcholine in the brain, because now your body is primed.
[00:36:05.650] – Andrei It's an emergency. It makes you pay attention. You have to deal with it. So there are so many adaptations happen when you bring muscle to failure versus when you don't. We are in the book talking about this experiment. Do you remember the name of that protein, Philip, that they showed this in animal studies when the exercise produced an adrenaline?
[00:36:25.750] – Philip I don't remember the name of it, but I sure remember the research.
[00:36:30.310] – Allan It was some letters. Yes, and I think it ended with the two. It started with the C.
[00:36:35.290] – Andrei That showed that it's an animal that when you produce adrenaline and do an exercise, there are certain epigenetic triggers that happen that otherwise would not happen. So they're modified as one group of mice that they have higher level of that protein and the control group, which is normal level. Both groups did exactly the same amount of exercise. I think they run on the treadmill for two weeks, but adaptations were significantly different. The group that had more of that protein, the increase in endurance by 103% versus control group only like eight and a half percent.
[00:37:14.390] – Andrei They had more muscle tissue lesson, three muscle fat and so on and so forth. So even though they exercise the same amount. But that was one of the examples that showed. And it's also true for humans that detection happen on a completely different level when you have more of that protein, which the body would actuate in that fight and flight event. And so this is what MSTF really is all about. You only have to do one set. And by the way, I learned about it from Doug Mcguff and John little's book classic Body By Science.
[00:37:49.790] – Andrei That's all it started for me. I used to go to gym like everybody else, compound movements, deadlifts, all that stuff. I kind of was okay. I had lots of aches in my joints, but I thought, you know what? I don't care. That's just how it just comes with it. And after I read the classic book, Body by Science, this is the last time I exercised convention, and I just fell in love with it. After I've been doing it for a year, all the aches and pains went away.
[00:38:20.870] – Andrei We did it. I first tried it in my old work with some colleagues, and I've seen changes in one guy who never really exercised properly in his life. But now he had shoulders, chest, triceps, six pack. So after individually, only once a week of the style of training. So all the aches and pains disappeared. It works. Then it occurred to me this is such an amazing form to take care of the body that I need to do something with it. That kind of was why I decided to open New Element training.
[00:38:52.550] – Andrei And this is why people come to us. That's what we do. We follow the other principles. But bringing muscle to momentary muscle failure is the foundation of the strength, and we move on.
[00:39:09.710] – Philip I might speak to the last of those principles or steps, which is that MSTF is best understood as a lifelong practice. There's no age at which muscle strength isn't an asset. There's no age at which this protocol is unsafe, either. The slow movement of the weight was really developed for people with Osteoporosis who were in danger of injury, and they thought, Well, let's try moving it very slowly and see if they can do that. And not only did they not suffer injury, as a result, they got stronger faster than had been expected.
[00:40:03.890] – Philip And so the safety of it. I'm 68. And when I met Andrei, I sort of internalized despite myself, you're at a certain age better not be too intense, just kind of back off a bit. And I discovered this workout through Andrei, and I go to more intensity with the workout more safely than I've ever gone in my life. And one of the consequences of this, one of the reasons that you're encouraged to do it for the rest of your life is that as the muscles come into balance, you have less aches and pains.
[00:40:51.110] – Philip I mean, I used to have chronic little nagging things that were there for months or years, and they have disappeared from my body. So I will be doing it for the rest of my life. And there's no point at which doing it is not either safe or an asset to your health.
[00:41:13.490] – Allan Yeah, to compare and contrast this, you go into the gym, and the first thing people do is they come in, and if anything, they've got their workout on their phone or they've got a notebook. That's about all the preparation they did. They're blaring music so they can actually not focus. And then as they get to moving, you're absolutely right. It's like, okay, well, I'm supposed to get three sets of eight with this weight. That's what I came in here to do. And that's what I'm going to do.
[00:41:41.150] – Allan And when I get those three sets of eight, even if I got all three sets of eight, I'm done. I finished that set and move on to the next exercise. And a lot of times there really isn't even a whole structure to why they're doing the next exercise. It's just, no, I'm working chest today. That's another chest exercise. So I'll just go do that one. The other one is the breath as we're lifting. And if you're doing three sets of eight, you're told, okay, on the eccentric, breathe in on the concentric, breathe out.
[00:42:05.750] – Allan And it's just like an engine just go. And then the other one is failure. And so few people want to work to failure, either because they have the mental concept that failure is a bad thing or because they're afraid of it. And here you're saying, okay, now we can safely work to failure predominantly because, again, we're going to be focused on working in environments where we are safe. So we're not going to put ourselves under a heavy load of doing bench press and try to go two minutes under a bench press unless we have a spotter.
[00:42:37.130] – Allan But we're going to use machines. We're going to use resistance bands, we're going to use body weight. We're going to do this in a responsible way, but we can actually use less weight and get stronger. Which again goes into why it's a lot safer. We're moving a lot slower, which again, is why it makes it a lot safer. And then, yes, at that point, this is something you can keep doing. And that takes me to the next bit of this because I think so many people will say, hey, I want you to start doing resistance exercises and like, oh, my knee.
[00:43:10.610] – Allan Oh, I got this back problem. My doctor is telling me not to lift weights, not to do resistance training. And so as a trainer, typically, I'd say, okay, let's try to work around those injuries, those issues. But you brought up a thing in the book that I've not seen before, and it's called, I'm going to say it wrong again, biotensegrity.
[00:43:37.130] – Allan Can you talk about that? Because I think that's just one of those things that is never mentioned. Everybody thinks, oh, I'm bone on bone on my knees. So therefore, I can't do resistance training with my legs or my back is going to start hurting me. So I really don't need to have anything I'm doing that's going to hurt my back. Can you talk about why that's not a problem with MSTF?
[00:44:02.090] – Philip Yeah, you're absolutely right. We shy away from engaging. The book talks about one study that was done with people with arthritis, and they were encouraged to do strength training. Say, your knee hurt. You were encouraged to do leg presses, for example, and to tolerate the pain they said up to about the level of five out of ten. If it goes above that, back off. And in the course of the study, people got stronger and their pain diminished. And that principle you mentioned, Biotensegrity really explains why that can happen.
[00:44:43.250] – Philip We imagine that the bones are stacked on top of one another in the skeleton, the way you'd build a brick wall, one brick on top of the other. And so then, of course, if the bricks are rubbing, you don't want to exacerbate it. But that's not the way the body works. The joints between the bones aren't in contact with each other. Unless there's a shock to the system. They are floating. The bones float and they're held in this web of muscle and fascia and connective tissue.
[00:45:26.750] – Philip And when the muscles are strong and the muscles are balanced, the joints continue to float, and it's where the muscles become weak or they're out of balance. Or there's an injury that that can be impaired. But it's all the more reason than, as Andrei was saying to reactivate what muscles have fallen asleep and strengthen them the result. I mean, I felt it myself when I talk about my sort of chronic aches and pains disappearing. I know it's because my muscles are stronger and more balanced.
[00:46:07.470] – Allan Yes. Again, like I said, I get a lot of people that will say I can't. So you go down this mindset of having a conversation with them. Well, just tell yourself to start, tell yourself to do the brain, telling you to do something. So get a start. Do this that's the big mantra out there. But when we bring mindfulness into this and I think that's what I want to wrap up here, at least for today. I want everybody to get this book so they can learn a lot more about this.
[00:46:39.150] – Allan But we have this mindset of the drill instructor in my head telling me to go work out, telling me to do my sets, telling me to push one more rep, telling me to do these things. And for a lot of people that they actually can get stronger, they push themselves further. They also have aches and pains and injuries. But when you lean into this, I guess the best way I can say it and use the term willingness versus willing fullness. Can you talk a little bit about that?
[00:47:11.130] – Allan Because I think as people are looking at this and saying, well, do I really want to because your body wants to. Can you kind of dive into what that's about and what that feels like? Because it's really hard. I'm not even really good at it getting out of my head and getting into actually enjoying what my body can do?
[00:47:30.930] – Philip Yes. And to give some context to that, the reaction might be what's wrong with me? I can't get out of my head.
[00:47:40.410] – Philip But thousands of years ago, we actually experienced our thinking in the body and most commonly in the belly. We felt ourselves thinking there, and now we can't imagine any other state than thinking in the head. So it's been inculcated within us. We've been trained to think with the head, and it's such a wonderful relief to drop out of the head and into the body.
[00:48:14.950] – Philip And that relationship with the body that we've been trained in is one that leads us to feel victimized by the body and betrayed by the body, and we want to be in charge of it, and we know what it needs for its own good and all of that noise overwhelms the body's deepest understanding. So the body, what the body feels is the present. It feels the breeze, it feels the sounds of the world. It feels everything it vibrates to the present and to join the body in that way is to join its attunement to the present.
[00:49:06.190] – Philip And then you discover, as the body is taken towards failure, you discover the animal joy of it. You are summoned into life, and the energy of your life is coursing through your being. As you are moving this weight and feeling it all. And there is no realm of my life in my week to week existence in which I feel more alive than I do during this workout. And because of that, because I've been able to renew my relationship with the body, I look forward to it.
[00:49:57.070] – Philip Today's the day I get to go to the gym and come back fully to life. And there's an imperative in our culture that makes us afraid of life. We make ourselves small. We'd rather not feel things in a big way. And here's this realm in which you can do it in complete safety. You can bit by bit. Allow yourself to feel what you're feeling. And that relationship you have with the resistance with the say it's the plates of the machine is no longer an adversarial relationship. There is companionship in it. If that doesn't sound too strange, because here you are no longer in the isolated ego of the self.
[00:50:52.010] – Philip But you have dilated into the spaciousness of the present and engaged with this weight that is helping you move to the edge. It's such a deep and vivid encounter with the self.
[00:51:12.830] – Allan Well, Philip, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:51:20.570] – Philip Well, that's a good one, certainly what you put into your body. I mean eating. You can't out exercise a bad diet. Andrei, do you have another one?
[00:51:35.010] – Andrei Well, clearly, MSTF. Even once weekly, if you can twice a week. It's amazing when people come to us even once a week. As you said, it's hard to believe that you can achieve this transformative benefits in only 30 minutes. But guess what? We've been doing this for eight years. We didn't write the book out of the thin air. It works if you apply this principle correctly. And if you put all the inside out benefits you get from this style. Any style of proper strength training, as long as you're not hurting yourself is the most powerful.
[00:52:11.130] – Andrei If you put it in a pill, the most powerful help you ever invented. So essentially, it does transform your body. And it does work. So that would be my second one, once or twice of proper strength training once a week.
[00:52:24.390] – Philip And I might say number three for me is renewing that relationship with the body to drop out of the head and trust the body's intelligence.
[00:52:37.830] – Philip And the biological fact is, the body processes over a billion times more information than we can be consciously aware of. So to decouple from that driving need to control and drop into the present through the body and feel it through the body is to access a grace in your life that carries you forward minute by minute, hour by hour.
[00:53:11.130] – Allan Thank you, gentlemen.
[00:53:12.330] – Allan Andre, Philip, if someone wanted to learn more about the book, Deep Fitness or about your training up there in Toronto or any other things you've got going on, where would you like for me to send them?
[00:53:23.490] – Andrei Well, the book has it's website, Deepfitness.life. It's available on all the major platforms everywhere in North America and UK. On our website, Newelementraining.com, we created a video library where we professionally recorded videos of all the exercises that we mentioned in the book. So people, if they needed a bit more help, they want to learn a little bit more. They can simply go to Newelementraining.com, go to Resources pages and then have access to the videos as well. And from there, find a way to contact me if they need to and have any questions.
[00:54:00.150] – Philip I might just add that the book is available as an audiobook and as an ebook. So it's available on all platforms. And people want to find out more about my aspect of MSTF. I've got a website embodiedpresent.com that has all kinds of information, and I still actively teach workshops, and there's a listing workshops and facilitators trainings there. And in late November, I'll be in Europe. So if any of your listeners are there, I'm in Berlin, Amsterdam and England. Please do look me up.
[00:54:42.150] – Allan Awesome. Well, you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/512. And I'll be sure to have all those links there. Andrei, Philip, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[00:54:53.070] – Philip Thanks for having us. It's been just fabulous, Allan.
[00:54:56.010] – Andrei Yeah. Thank you, Allan.
[00:55:02.770] – Allan Welcome back, Raz.
[00:55:04.390] – Rachel Hey, Allan, what a great conversation about lifting a little bit slower. It's a nice change of pace.
[00:55:13.990] – Allan The funny thing about weightlifting is most of what we know is really just based on bro science. It's just okay. Well, what did Arnold do to be Arnold? And then what did this guy do? And so then I grew up in the 90s buying the muscle and fitness and the Flex magazines and all that stuff and making wider.
[00:55:36.010] – Allan I guess that's how they pronounce it, making him very rich, buying his stuff and then buying supplements that were all in these books and trying any of the workouts that were in there as well. And those magazines are still on the shelves and they're still selling. And so you open them up and it's the same workout. It's just a different bodybuilder. These guys followed the science. They really dove into this. They come on the heels of some pretty cool people. I had Dr. Mcguff on the podcast.
[00:56:04.750] – Allan It was one of my first interviews, one of my really early interviews, episode 43. Now, I promise, if you listen to it, I don't sound the same. I've learned a lot about podcasting in that time, but it's a really good book, Body by Science, and it was kind of he wrote that with John Little, and when you read through that, it's like then you start realizing, okay, there's a whole bunch of science that's coming out about resistance training. That's not just bro science. It's actual people in lab coats, testing mostly College students, but still testing people and figuring some things out.
[00:56:40.990] – Allan That was back in 2016 and then jumped forward a few years. And I had John Little on the show with his next book that he came out with, which was the Time Savers workout. And again, the concept was the same as if you use enough intensity and the exercises, you don't have to necessarily change the number of sets, the number of reps, or even the amount of weight to get a more intense workout, you're changing something else. That's a big part of the whole process, the volume.
[00:57:10.270] – Allan And that is time under tension, or as these guys like to say, at time under load. And it really does make a difference. And it's typically not something when I'm training anybody that I work with tempo until they've been lifting for a good long time. But the way these guys structured it. So we're talking about Philip and Andrei in their book Deep Fitness and all of these books, all of them the way they structure it is in making sure that it's accessible to everybody. It's not just an intermediate or advanced lifting technique that you throw in there to get the muscle to grow even more.
[00:57:47.830] – Allan It becomes a standard of the way you work.
[00:57:51.670] – Rachel That's neat. And I think one of the things that they mentioned, too, about being mindful while you're lifting and not distracted by music or chit chat or anything like that. But if you're really paying attention to the muscle that you're trying to work with, you'll feel it if you're thinking about it and focusing on it. And I had mentioned not too long ago, I had read an article about standing with my bag against the wall and trying to do a bicep curl. And in doing that, you remove all of the momentum.
[00:58:23.290] – Rachel You remove any of the cheating, and I lift pretty light. I lift a ten or 15 pound weight for a bicep curl. But when I stood with my back against the wall, there was no cheating, and I could barely get that ten pound weight lifted. It was so different. But what I realized was that I was really relying solely on the bicep to lift that weight and no helper muscles were involved. It's totally different. So I can imagine that if you're really mindful in the moves that you're doing, you would get a bigger impact because you're really using that primary weight and muscle and not the helper muscles around it.
[00:59:04.690] – Allan Yes, there's the two concepts. One is the helper muscles, and it's really hard, particularly if you're standing up and you're trying to do any kind of movement. It's really hard not to shift your body weight and do something that's going to incorporate another muscle when your brain feels like the muscle you're using isn't going to be strong enough to do the work. And so anytime someone comes into the gym, it's interesting because they get really excited. We'll do the first day and they'll do some weights and we'll say, okay, this is about how strong you are and they'll do the first workout, and it's so hard.
[00:59:40.150] – Allan And by two weeks, they've increased their lifting by 20, 30, 40, 100 percent. They're lifting twice as much weight as they were on their first workout just two, three weeks later.
[00:59:52.220] – Rachel That's awesome.
[00:59:53.770] – Allan Well, it is.
[00:59:54.490] – Allan It's huge, impressive. And they're like, oh, my gosh, if this keeps happening, I'm going to be able to lift a truck. And I'm like, that's not going to happen, because what's happened in that time is your brain actually learned to talk to your muscle. If you sit on your butt all day, your brain turns off, it's not having to talk to your butt muscles at all. And so if you don't do squats, right, it's not talking to the butt at all. And so when you slow down and you start doing exercises the way you're supposed to do them, the brain is like, oh, who's that guy?
[01:00:29.590] – Allan And literally, they start having a conversation. And then once they figure it out, it's like, oh, so we need to fire these muscle fibers to make this happen. And then when it gets smart at that, you can just keep adding weight. And then there's a point where it's like, okay, we fired almost all the muscle fibers we're talking to now. Now we've got to incorporate even more. And or we've got to make these muscles stronger and bigger because the stimulus is more than we can handle.
[01:00:57.190] – Allan Which is another thing about their program is you are going to take this to a failure, a momentary failure, meaning that muscle can't do the work anymore because your brain has incorporated every muscle fiber it knows, and they are all firing. And that's all you can lift at that point in time. And then you effectively fail. And then your body goes back and say, okay, give me nutrients, give me rest. I've got to be stronger next time. And that's where real strength starts to happen. Because now your body is saying, I have to adapt.
[01:01:30.490] – Allan You given it everything, the stimulus and everything it needs to adapt. And by doing it in this controlled manner, there's no way for you to change the momentum of it. And there's no way to not fire those muscles. So your brain has to stay focused on that muscle. And it's one of the things people will go do their training, like someone go for a run, they'll turn on their music to make the run easier. People will listen to certain music, what's your playlist in the gym to make the exercise easier.
[01:02:04.090] – Philip And the reality of it is sometimes easier just means that you're not getting as strong as you can. If you're more mindful about the muscles that are supposed to be firing and you're firing those muscles maximally as much as you can, you're then creating this huge stimulus that's going to benefit you in the end. And the other thing I I think really like about this process is like I said in the past, I would probably not schedule this for anybody. That's not an intermediate level, but the way they're looking at it and it makes a ton of sense is okay so if I'm going to do three sets of ten of squats, that's 30 squats.
[01:02:49.630] – Allan Or if I do their method and let's just say, I'm going to do 10 seconds down. I mean, 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down, and I'm only going to get five, and then I fail.
[01:03:04.510] – Allan Okay. I just worked for roughly 100 minutes, 100 seconds. That's not even two minutes. And my leg workouts over my leg press is over. So I'm only doing five reps and not doing 10, I mean got 30. So that's my knee. And if you're worried about your knee, that worry goes away.
[01:03:34.090] – Rachel Well, that's the interesting thing, too, is that instead of doing a slow motion like I learned from NASM to do a count of four and then pull it back up for a count of three or four or something. To me, that's slow. But to them, they're talking like 30 seconds in a movie or something. I can't imagine lowering, for example, the bicep curl again, lowering the curl down for a count of 30 seconds, and then trying to bring it back up for 30 seconds, I would be done.
[01:04:07.030] – Allan Well, a lot of people want to do pull ups. They'll come to me as a trainer and say, what are some things you want to do? I've always wanted to do a pull up. I get that a lot. And I'll tell you how I would typically train someone for pull ups. We would start out with either a Lat machine or we would do some resistance bands or some form of assisted pull up. And then over time, you take away the assist and they can get stronger. But there's another way to do it once they start getting to the point where they're almost able to do it.
[01:04:39.010] – Allan And that's where we would incorporate negatives. Okay.
[01:04:41.470] – Allan Now, as you may recall from the episodes we've talked about, a negative basically means you're doing the eccentric portion of the pull of the movement. So in this case, I would get them up on a bench or a ladder. And I'd say, okay, I want you to put your chest against the bar, and then we remove the ladder, and I'm like, slowly lower yourself down. And when you get to the bottom and put the ladder or the bench back under you and say, okay, go back up there, put your chest against the bar, and I pull that ladder away.
[01:05:12.790] – Allan Normally, a person would lower themselves. And at first, if they last 5 seconds, that's phenomenal. Once I know that they can take, like, 10 seconds to come down, that person can do a pull up.
[01:05:25.150] – Rachel Wow.
[01:05:25.750] – Allan Okay. So if you wanted to get really strong pull ups, the way Philip would do this is he would climb up and then he would lower himself, and he would try to make that lowering portion last 30 seconds.
[01:05:39.610] – Rachel That's incredible.
[01:05:40.870] – Allan Okay. And then he would try to pull himself up really slow. Now, can someone do that? 30 seconds? 30 seconds? Maybe. Maybe not. But I can tell you, if you can do that, you're going to be doing pull ups like a piston. You won't have any problem at all doing any pull ups that you want to do. So maybe you start with the lat pull down machine and you have someone feed it down to you to your chest, and then you just slowly over the course of 30 seconds try to bring that bar up.
[01:06:13.090] – Allan Let it go up. Don't let go of it and let it go slowly up over 30 seconds. And then if you need help getting it back down, then let someone help you get it back down and then go again. And that will be giving you a lot of what we're talking about here in that you are putting time under tension or time under load on that muscle, and it's very intense. So this is something you would do probably no more than twice a week, and you're going to feel DOMS.
[01:06:44.650] – Allan Just get ready. You are. There's just no way that you can start this type of program and not have some level of DOMS. But with everything, this is something about when they talk about mindfulness, it's just something to realize that we are helping ourselves get stronger. And if you're paying attention to the muscles and the muscles are hurting, that's just feedback. That's just feedback. You got to let that go and then get stronger and come back.
[01:07:14.650] – Allan Well, it looks like something happened to Rachel's connectivity and she fell off the call.
[01:07:19.930] – Allan So I guess with that, I will call it a show. So I'll talk to you next week. Bye.
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Strength training is an essential component of improving your health and fitness. Unfortunately, many people shy away from strength training because they are intimidated by the weights or they fear that they will become big and bulky.
However, you can do strength training by using your own body weight. This may take more creativity than using traditional weights. Though it may not make you as strong, it is still an appropriate alternative.
So, how do we get stronger? In order for our muscles to grow, they need:
A challenge – Use weights or body weight as something to push the muscle past what is comfortable. Move through a full range of motion and focus on heavier weights with fewer reps and sets.
Food – Be sure to eat a healthy diet, including protein and some carbs after a workout.
Rest – Allow enough time for the muscle to rest between sets and workouts. When lifting heavier weights, allow two to three minutes between sets. After strenuous workouts, allow 72 hours for your body to recover before beginning again.
As you do your workout, you may find some weak areas throughout your range of motion. Consider doing partial reps to work on that specific area of struggle, perhaps using bands or chains to create resistance.
In order to build strength, you must lift heavy things consistently. Follow this lifting by feeding and rest, then repeat the cycle. Always be sure to use good form and keep safety in mind. Strength training allows you to work your way up to better strength over time.