Here is a podcast that I did with my publisher, Human Kinetics, discussing aspects of my new book, The MAX Muscle Plan. It’s a wide-ranging interview where I delve into topics such as:
Click on the arrow below to listen to the podcast:
Here is a podcast that I did with my publisher, Human Kinetics, discussing aspects of my new book, The MAX Muscle Plan. It’s a wide-ranging interview where I delve into topics such as:
Click on the arrow below to listen to the podcast:
Lots to talk about and share. So without further ado…
And here is an interview I did with fitness marketing guru Jon Goodman. This one is a bit lighter than the interview I did with Bret, but there’s a lot of good take-away training info, nonetheless.
The second is a three-hour hypertrophy seminar that will explore the mechanisms of muscle growth, their application to training, and how to put this information into practice with respect to program design. The seminar is being hosted by Innovative Wellness Consulting and will be held at the American Academy of Personal Training, 138 West 14th Street, NYC on Friday, November 16. Here is a link for registration:
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Here is a link to check out the book on Amazon.com, who is offering it at a significant discount. If you have any questions about it let me know!
08 09 2012
Here is an interview I did with Jonathan Goodman. For those who don’t know, Jon is a rising star in the field of fitness marketing. In particular, he has an expertise in the use of social media as a publicity tool. Jon also is the founder of the Personal Training Development Center, an excellent resource on all aspects of career-building for personal trainers. And he’s also affiliated with Girls Gone Strong, a popular site for female strength training.
Quick story: Jon approached me a couple years back about getting involved with the site. I politely declined, stating that I really didn’t have the time given my other commitments. Jon didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. A couple month’s later, I was doing a book signing at a fitness conference in Toronto and Jon appeared at the event to speak to me about it in person. Through his persistance and communication that the endeavor wouldn’t require much of my time, I ultimately agreed to his request. Ever since, I’ve been consistently impressed with the content he puts out and his mission to enhance the quality of those in the field. I think the information he discusses here in this interview should be of interest to everyone, as basis of these principles apply to all fields. Enjoy!
You recently left your job as a successful personal trainer. What motivated your decision and what are you currently doing?
I have a couple major projects on the go:
2) MightyTrainer took a bit of a hiatus. We launched the comic with a lot of buzz but it quickly died off as the strips weren’t good enough. Teiko and I have revamped them and are releasing comics now that are better then ever. The crux is that we take all of the silly things that happen in the fitness world and blow them so far out of proportion that everybody laughs.
3) Girls Gone Strong has just launched their website. I’ve been working with them behind the scenes for a couple months and am really excited to see the movement take off. They’re the brains behind the operation but I am acting as a manager and social media guy.
4) I have just started to write my 3rd book. “Ignite the Fire: The Secrets to Building a Successful Personal Training Career” and “Race to the Top: How to Take Over the Social Media Feed” have been huge successes. The topic of the next one is still a secret but it gets deep into research concerning social contagion and viral theory.
5) Beyond that I blog a couple times a week on my personal site, jonathangoodman.ca. That’s where I talk about social media and marketing.
I read your new book, “Race to the Top.” Great job. You pack a lot of info into a very easy read. How did you research the information for the book?
The research was ¾ observational and ¼ theoretical. As sad as it sounds I sat at home for hours each day and watched social media feeds. Whenever anything gained traction in the feed I took meticulous notes concerning:
• What the post is about?
• How is the title written?
• What time of day is it?
• Why did I think the post was successful
• And a myriad of other points…
From this I was able to see patterns and built my own theory as to why people share. I then searched for empirical evidence to back my claims up and found that experiments were backing up what I had observed almost to a tee. Nobody had published it yet in an easily digestible book.
Once I recognized the opportunity to be first I blacked out. I took time off of training, shut off my phone, called my girlfriend and parents to tell them I’m out of commission, and shut off social media. I sat in a coffee shop for a week and a half 14hrs a day and wrote with my notes beside me. The end result is better than I would have ever expected.
To clarify I don’t believe SEO is becoming obsolete. What I do believe is that most people who set out to make a name for themselves on the internet shouldn’t concern themselves with it. I relate a user who finds a site on a search engine to carpenter ants. You don’t know they are there, they hollow you out from the inside, and leave. These people won’t stick around for long and usually won’t buy anything.
If I sold a targeted product or worked in a neighbourhood gym search engine optimization could be useful. Most bloggers don’t have a chance to rank in a search engine. It takes years and lots of back links to take over even minor keywords these days.
As a result I recommend that people work on scaling referrals to their website. I speak of a couple different strategies in Race to the Top. Perhaps the most powerful is to look beyond the influencers and try to find the sharers. There are select people in every niche that like to share material. If you know what to look for they are easy to find. These are the people who build the roads in an industry and you’d do well to get them on your side.
I notice a very different writing style from most books I read. Can you tell us why you chose it?
Hahahaha. I chose it because I can’t stand reading non-fiction books. They take 10x longer to read than they should. I wanted to cut out the fluff. I value my readers time and wanted to make every word count.
I also wanted to stay true to the title and make the book a race from start to finish. There are no breaks. Each section flows into the next and it’s meant to be read in one long sitting. The feedback on the reading style has been awesome. It seems to have been a breath of fresh air from the stiffness of many non-fiction publications. Something that only a self-published author can do.
What are 3 major takeaways one can take from the book?
1. The feed is everything. Learn how to manipulate it and you will never have trouble selling your service or product ever again.
Where do you see social media going in the future?
I don’t know and that’s the fun part. Facebook may or may not be around in 5 years. Everything moves so fast these days that those who concern themselves with the software will be left behind. There is no gaming of the system anymore because new updates will weed out those who find the loopholes.
The people who will succeed are those that understand the psychology behind why people use social media. Once they do their job is to figure out a way to use whatever software is in vogue at the time to get their message to spread.
What I am seeing is that social media has become the norm. People of all ages are using it and that trend will only continue. It’s easier and cheaper than ever to do business across the World. People are also becoming more comfortable buying things over the net, which leads to even more opportunity.
Check out Jon’s website at: Personal Training Development Center
Check out Jon’s book at: Race to the Top
Those of you who follow this blog undoubtedly know about Alan Aragon. Fact is, there’s no one in the field of nutrition I respect more. Alan holds a master’s degree in nutrition, consults with a legion of famous clients (including Pete Sampras, Derek Fisher, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin), and serves as the nutritional expert for Men’s Health Magazine. He also edits the excellent newsletter, Alan Aragon’s Research Review, which I previously reviewed here
Yet what really sets Alan apart from the pack is his keen understanding as to how research should be applied in practice. He has an astute ability to sift through the body of literature and provide practical recommendations based on a person’s individual needs. His approach is always thoughtful and balanced; a voice of reason. That’s why when I need a get an opinion on a given nutritional topic, Alan’s the guy I turn to for answers. I’ve taught nutrition at the university level. I stay abreast of current dietary research. But Alan is on another level. Call him the “Yoda of nutrition”!
So it goes without saying that I’m pleased to have interviewed Alan for this blog post. Here he shares his knowledge on some of the most controversial and heavily debated topics in nutrition today. As always, Alan is not afraid to speak his mind. Sit back, read, and enjoy!
First, thanks so much for consenting to this interview Alan. For those who might not be aware of your work, can you tell the readers a little about your background.
You have written about post-exercise protein intake and state that it might not be as important as some claim. But you also discuss that the relative importance is a function of a person’s goals. Can you explain your position?
Let’s first set the stage with some background. Postexercise protein intake has been promoted in both lay and academic circles as an urgent, universally imperative tactic, but it’s rarely ever put in the proper perspective. The origin of the postexercise “anabolic window of opportunity” began with research examining postexercise carbohydrate timing on the rate of glycogen resynthesis after depletion. Delaying carbohydrate intake resulted in significantly less glycogen replenishment, but this finding was limited to an observation period of only a few hours. On a related tangent, subsequent research showed no difference in the amount of post-depletion glycogen replenishment at the 24-hour mark, despite major differences in dietary fat content (originally presumed to impede the process).
Protein got lumped into the supposed ‘magic’ of the postexercise period after studies showed that protein expedited glycogen resynthesis when co-ingested with carbohydrate (particularly in the case of insufficient carbohydrate). Furthermore, research has also shown that protein consumed in the postexercise period can work synergistically with the trained state to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS). However, these studies have two main limitations. First off, in most studies the protein was given to subjects who trained after an overnight fast, minus a pre-exercise meal. Secondly, the bulk of the research showing the benefit of immediate postexercise protein is acute (short-term). The majority of chronic (long-term) studies lasting several weeks has failed to corroborate the acute findings. Many people – even smart folks in the industry – are unaware of this, probably because the bulk of the research with null findings began in 2009 & onward.
This isn’t to say that the body of research on this topic is vast or comprehensive enough to be adamant about the unimportance of protein timing. However, it does provide grounds to assume a wider margin of timing flexibility as long as the total for the day is hit. Hopefully future investigations will compare the timing effects of carbohydrate co-ingested with larger protein doses that max-out acute MPS in trained subjects on diets that provide sufficient total protein that’s matched (including supplemental protein) between groups. Thus far, the research in this vein is scarce, but would help provide an important puzzle piece. In the mean time, hitting the total protein target for the day remains the primary objective, while timing and distribution of its constituent doses is the distantly secondary concern. At best, specific timing is the icing on the cake. But, you have to have the cake down-pat, otherwise the icing means crap.
In the larger picture, the answer for the most part is no. Assuming that someone is consuming sufficient total daily protein from a variety of high-quality sources, then their bases will be covered, regardless of differences in protein type. Short-term data indicates the superior effects of whey (compared to casein or soy) on MPS at both the resting & postexercise periods. It’s been speculated that this is due to the greater overall rise in circulating amino acid (particularly leucine) levels yielded by whey. However, studies that dragged this type of comparison out for several weeks have shown equivocal outcomes. Whey, as opposed to casein or soy, has not emerged as the dominant winner for improving muscular adaptations to training. This serves to reinforce the principles that a) total daily amount of high-quality protein is of prime importance, b) differences seen shortly postexercise will not automatically translate to long-term adaptations, and c) the body of evidence is subject to evolve.
How important is macronutrient ratio with respect to weight loss?
People have varying total energy demands, and this can differently influence their macronutrient requirements. Ratios per se shouldn’t be the focus since they’re merely a default result of figuring absolute needs. For example, those with a moderate to high energy output (through formal training, non-exercise activity, or both), can typically consume a higher amount of carbohydrate and still lose weight. In contrast, sedentary or barely active folks have lower overall energy demands, thus a high carbohydrate intake wouldn’t likely be optimal. Nevertheless, there’s rather interesting, yet unreplicated research examining the effects of insulin sensitivity on weight loss (low-carb worked better for insulin-resistant subjects while high-carb worked better for insulin-sensitive subjects). Unfortunately, body composition wasn’t assessed, nor was there any structured exercise protocol. My hunch is that a well-designed, progressive training program would greatly diminish the influence of pre-existent differences in insulin sensitivity on weight loss.
Are you a proponent of cutting carbs for someone who wants to get really lean?
For losing fat past the initial stages, I’m a proponent of imposing a calorie deficit, and depending on the individual situation, this can involve a decrease in caloric intake, an increase in caloric output, or a combination of both. In the case of intake reduction, it doesn’t make sense to hack into critical nutrients – especially protein, whose requirement actually increases in a caloric deficit. So, for the most part, it’s carbs that will get the brunt of the reduction when it’s time to cut calories, while protein & fat remain somewhat stable (I typically set protein slightly higher than it needs to be). The degree of carb reduction varies individually, but the underlying aim is to consume the highest amount of carbs that still allow a satisfactory rate of fat loss. This approach accomplishes two main things – it enables the highest possible training performance (in terms of both strength & endurance), and also the lowest chance of undue hormonal downregulation from prolonged bouts of dieting. Carb reduction can then be strategically positioned as a trump card. In other words, carbs can always be incrementally reduced on an as-needed basis, depending on how results are proceeding. Starting off with minimal carbs from the get-go leaves fewer options in the toolbox to break through progress plateaus once training volume is maxed-out.
Intermittent fasting has gained popularity recently. What are your thoughts? Panacea or fad?
I think the popularity of intermittent fasting (IF) is, for the most part, a good vindication of science. Academics have known for a while now that research has not supported the lore of frequent, small meals to stoke the metabolism better than the equivalent in larger, fewer meals. Furthermore, research has not supported the idea that small, frequent meals are necessary for preserving muscle mass. The evidence as a whole has not indicated any threat to muscle preservation during dieting when meal frequency is reduced – either daily or intermittently through the week. In fact, some studies have shown superior lean mass retention with IF during hypocaloric conditions. However, this could have been due to measurement error inherent with bioelectrical impedance analysis. It should also be noted that the IF research thus far has not involved structured exercise protocols.
At the same time that IF has vindicated science, it also created its own over-zealous following who preaches its universal necessity for optimizing body composition and health. Viewed more objectively, IF presents an effective option for those who prefer the convenience and luxury of larger meals – not to mention, less preparation & transportation of meals through the day. Any special or superior metabolic effects of IF compared to conventional meal patterns are speculative at this point. While IF has consistently shined in the department of lean mass retention while dieting, its comparison to conventional meal frequency on gains in muscular strength & hypertrophy is uncharted ground, at least in formal research. There are plenty of hypotheses flying around this area, but nothing demonstrated under controlled conditions. For the time being, meal frequency for optimal size & strength gain remains mysterious. This mystery is likely to begin unfolding with short-term data that one camp will excitedly embrace. If history means anything, the acute data will be followed by long-term data that shakes the confidence in former beliefs. Either way it goes, I’ve got my popcorn ready.
On a final note, I’ve seen the greatest client success come from letting individual preference dictate meal frequency. Some people do great on small frequent meals, others do great on the opposite (and all points in between). The theoretical advantages of any given dietary approach go straight out the window if it’s at odds with someone’s personal preference & adherence capability.
Tell us a little about your research review and how you came to start the service.
In a nutshell, my research review (AARR) is a monthly romp through the current and past research on nutrition, training, and supplementation. I do my best to present both the theory and application of the concepts and findings. The idea to start AARR was born from my own dissatisfaction with my knowledge level despite having vast client experience, multiple training certifications, a graduate degree in nutrition, and being active in attending & presenting continuing education lectures. I felt like there had to be some way to further “force” myself toward the top tier of expertise. Putting AARR together each month was the logical solution for my self-directed learning tendencies. I’m now enjoying the process of sharing my ongoing enlightenment with like-minded folks inside and outside of the field.
Great stuff, Alan. Really appreciate you taking the time to share your views!
Check out Alan’s blog Here
Check out Alan’s excellent research review (AARR) Here
1) Happy to say that I’m entering the final year of my PhD program at Rocky Mountain University. So far it’s been an extremely rewarding experience. Sure, the coursework has been a bit overwhelming at times, but I’ve become a much more astute fitness professional as a result–particularly in my ability to assess and scrutinize research. Very much looking forward to carrying out my dissertational research and furthering our understanding about the mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training.
2) I recently collaborated with my good friend Bret Contreras on another T-Nation article, this one focusing on the Weider Principles. In case you don’t know, the Weider Principles are a set of exercise guidelines compiled by Joe Weider, who built a fitness empire that includes many of the popular fitness magazines and bodybuilding contests. Joe has been maligned by many in the field (and in some cases rightly so) for perpetrating a variety of exercise and nutritional myths. But Joe was a visionary and in our article, 6 Lessons Learned from the Master Blaster we objectively delve into recent research that has validated a number of Joe’s principles and provide recommendations for practical application of the relevant principles.
3) Speaking of Bret Contreras, he has teamed up with physical therapist Jonathan Fass for a new podcast venture called, The Strength of Evidence. It’s a really great listen filled with top-notch info from two really smart guys.
4) Here is a video clip from my lecture at the recent Fitness Education Institute conference in New York City. In this clip, I discuss the importance of adopting an evidence-based approach to training. Many people have a misconception as to what “evidence-based practice” really entails, and here I clarify its meaning and discuss why it is so vital to optimal fitness results.
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5) My new book, The MAX Muscle Plan is set to be released next month. The book details a six month periodized routine designed to maximize muscle development, providing both the scientific basis of how muscles grow as well as detailing every exercise, set and rep of the program. I’m really pumped (no pun intended!) for its release. Much more on this over the coming weeks.
That’s all for now…
17 07 2012
Given my involvement with the NSCA (I had several meetings as well as two lectures to present) I unfortunately was unable to attend several presentations that I’d really looked forward to seeing. These included talks by Eric Cressey, Lou Schuler, Nick Winkelman, JC Santana, Jay Dawes, and others. That said, I did manage to find the time to catch a few select talks. Here’s a brief overview of these seminars:
1) Dr. Bill Kraemer: For those of you who do not know, Dr. Kraemer is the pre-eminent researcher in strength and conditioning. He’s probably published more peer-reviewed papers on the topic than anyone in history and serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. He’s been a mentor to me and I have the utmost respect for his accomplishments. Dr. Kraemer lectured on concurrent training which, simply stated, is the performance of both resistance exercise and aerobic training during a given time period. His lecture highlighted research on the topic showing an incompatibility between the two. The technical detail was well balanced with practical application. Interestingly, Dr. Kraemer pointed out that research shows that running has a significantly greater negative effect on strength and hypertrophy compared to cycling. “Exercise antagonism” was discussed, where the anabolic stimulus of resistance training is countered by the catabolic effects of aerobics. Dr. Kraemer proposed that this incompatibility can be minimized by careful periodization that allows sufficient rest and recovery. Lots of great take-home info.
2) Dr. Michael Roberts: I was not familiar with Dr. Roberts until this conference, but came away very impressed with his knowledge and professionalism. His topic delved into the effects of physical activity on disease prevention. Dr. Roberts presented research from his lab showing that when rodents were kept sedentary (their lab uses a cool device that locks the running wheel so the rats cannot run), they rapidly develop all sorts of cardiovascular and metabolic complications. Dr. Roberts showed correlative evidence that this occurs in humans, too. His take home message was to get at least 10,000 steps a day. He pointed out that modern hunter-gatherer populations accumulate twice this amount and have almost no lifestyle-related disease. A powerful presentation! Made me want to get a pedometer
3) Dr. Jacob Wilson: Dr. Wilson is a friend and colleague. He is quickly becoming one of the most respected researchers in muscle hypertrophy and supplementation. His presentation was on the supplement HMB–a metabolite of the amino acid leucine–and its effects on strength and body composition. Coming into the lecture, I had been skeptical of the supplement based on the limited data that I’d seen. Jake gave me reason to reconsider my position. He presented research, mostly from his lab, showing that HMB can promote significant and meaningful increases in muscle and strength. He pointed out that many of the studies not showing effects for HMB were due to the use of low-intensity training protocols. His presentation was smooth and systematic. One of my main issues with many of the amino acid-based supplements is that protein intake is generally not controlled. Jake stated that his lab carefully equated protein consumption amongst subjects at 25% of total calories. This makes a strong case that the data should be taken seriously.
4) Dr. Mark Peterson: Dr. Peterson has already established himself as one of the leading researchers in sarcopenia (i.e. the age-related loss of muscle) and obesity with publications in many of the top journals. He also serves on my doctoral dissertation committee, so as you can imagine I hold him in very high regard. This lecture focused on the obesity epidemic and the potential application of resistance training as a remedy. There was a great deal of high level info as well as some good humor interspersed in between (always good to have some levity in a high-level discussion). Mark debunked the claim that muscle significantly elevates resting metabolic rate (by his calclulation, the amount equates to about 5 calories for each pound of muscle). That said, he pointed to the fact that resistance training substantially increases in energy expenditure following exercise (i.e. EPOC) as a primary reason why lifting weights can have a major impact on weight management. There also is good evidence that resistance exercise improves various meatoblic and cardiovascular markers (i.e. glucose tolerance, lipid profile, etc) even in the absence of weight loss. The take home message was that lifting weights was particularly important for the obese and can be one of the keys to improving health and wellness in this population, but that optimal results are best achieved by combining such training with regular aerobic exercise.
As an aside, this event had special meaning for me. The highlight came at around 2:45 pm on Friday afternoon–15 minutes before I was scheduled to speak on Metabolic Resistance Training–when I was informed that I’d been elected to the NSCA Board of Directors. The NSCA is the world’s leading authority on strength and conditioning and I’m humbled and honored to be involved in shaping its future direction. A heartfelt thanks to all of you that supported my candidacy. Know that I will work diligently to further the NSCA’s mission, which is to bridge the gap between exercise science and application. I am particularly focused on elevating knowledge in the field of personal training, and hope to expand the growth of the NSCA in this area. Very excited to take on the challenge!
Just a reminder that I’ll be speaking at FEI Eclipse Conference this Friday, June 29th. The topic is one of my favorites: Facts and Fallacies of Fitness. Here I’ll debunk many of the popular myths and misconceptions about exercise and nutrition that continue to be erroneously promoted as fact. The event is being held at the Hilton Double Tree Hotel in the heart of Times Square. Hope to see you there!
Yes, I know I need to be more diligent with posting to the blog! Sorry to those who have emailed me about the lack of activity. Thoughtful posts require a lot of time and and I don’t want to just dash off something for the sake of putting out content. I hope to increase the frequency of posts as the summer wears on and my schedule clears a bit.
In the meantime, I wanted to remind everyone that the NSCA National Conference, taking place in Providence, RI, is less than a month away! I’ll be giving two lectures at the event. First, a 2-hour precon on Wednesday, July 11th titled “Scientific Muscle: A Periodized Approach to Maximizing Muscle Development.” If you want to maximize your muscle development or want to learn how to program routines to help others do so, this is one you don’t want to miss as I’ll delve deep into the how science can be blended with art to customize a routine for optimal growth. In addition, ’ll be doing a general session on Friday, July 13th titled “Metabolic Resistance Training.” This lecture focuses on how to structure your lifting routine to optimize fat loss while maintaining lean muscle. Here is the link to register for the conference. Hope you can join me there!
Also wanted to once again state that I am running for a seat on the board of directors at the NSCA. I consider the NSCA to be the world’s elite certifying fitness organization, and I am deeply committed to their mission which is to, “…support and disseminate research-based knowledge and its practical application, to improve athletic performance and fitness.” If elected, I will work diligently to further this mission and promote the importance of evidence-based practice. That’s a promise. If you are an NSCA member, I would greatly appreciate your vote. You can vote at the following link: NSCA Board of Directors. If you don’t have your password, just give the NSCA a call at 800-815-6826. Many thanks in advance!