Roger “Rog” Lawson is a strength training and nutrition expert who works with clients through the All Access Fitness Academy and through his website at roglawfitness.com. After only a few years, Roger has become an authority on all things fitness. He is especially focused on the mental aspect of training, and how focusing your mind will improve your ability to perform. Roger describes his philosophy as “sexification.” The goal is to focus on becoming the most complete person possible – in the gym and elsewhere.
Roger comes on Bulletproof Executive Radio to show you how you can optimize your time in the gym for maximum fun and health.
Did you know you can get a free PDF download of every transcript of every episode of Bulletproof Executive Radio by entering your email address in the box on the right side of this page? You also get a free copy of the Bulletproof Diet, the Bulletproof Shopping Guide, and much more.
What We Cover
- The secret to sticking with your healthy lifestyle.
- The health benefits of cake.
- How your attitude is holding back your fitness goals.
- The most important thing to remember when trying to stick to a fitness plan.
- The insider’s view of the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating Program.
- The key principles that everyone can use to create their own strength plan.
- Why everyone needs a customized strength program.
- How to create specific goals that will bring you the results you want.
- Why compound movements are king, but you still need to work your core.
- The simple method for getting really, REALLY strong.
- The right way to progress in a fitness plan.
- The three biggest fitness mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Links From The Show
“Stop Trying To Keep Up With The Joneses” by Roger Lawson
“Death To Cake” by Roger Lawson
Food & Supplements
Fish Oil (High in DHA)
Zeo Personal Sleep CoachSleep Cycle
Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes
The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
Dave: Today’s cool fact of the day is that Vitamin D supplements are made by exposing oils from animal skin to UV radiation. That means that Vitamin D3 uses animal products, so it’s not vegan. It’s especially bad because if you’re vegan, there’s only one source of vegan Vitamin D in food and that would be freshly picked shiitake mushrooms that you carefully set upside down in the sun for six hours, at which point, the fresh mushrooms would be able to make enough vitamin D to supplement properly. If you don’t take that step as a vegan, you will need to eat 551 cups of shiitake mushrooms per day in order to get the level of Vitamin D that I take on a daily basis.
You’re listening to Episode Twelve of Upgraded Self Radio. We have a great interview with Roger Lawson from RogLawFitness.com. Roger, who goes by Rog, is a strength training and nutrition expert who works with clients through the All-Access Fitness Academy and through his website at RogLawFitness.com. After only a few years, Roger has become an authority on all things fitness and he’s really focused on the mental aspect of training and how focusing your mind will improve your ability to perform physically. Roger describes his philosophy as sexification. The goal is to focus on becoming the most complete person possible in the gym and elsewhere.
It should be pretty obvious to listeners by now why we invited Roger to be on the show because his focus is very similar to the Bulletproof focus that says it’s not just about looking good or about being able to do a lot of pull-ups, it’s actually about looking good, and feeling good, and performing well. Roger comes on Upgraded Self Radio to show you how you can optimize your time in the gym for maximum fun and health.
Co-host: Hey, everybody. We have got Roger Lawson here, or Rog Law, and he is a personal trainer and fitness expert. He recently graduated from Eastern Michigan University where he got a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Literature, but then he got really interested in fitness. He has just gone all out learning as much as he can. He recently finished as a runner up in the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating program. He’s worked under the guidance of people like Eric Cressey, Tony Gentilcore, and Brian St. Pierre where he learned a ton. He’s going to share a lot of that with us today and just some general fitness knowledge.
Roger, thank you for coming on.
Roger: What’s up, man? Thanks for having me. It is a great-
Co-host: Oh, cool. I’m fine.
Roger: -pleasure to be here on this fine Friday afternoon.
Co-host: Do you think you could just tell us a little about you and how you got interested in fitness and just how you’re in this position right now with your awesome website and everything?
Roger: Yeah, definitely. I feel like I got started in fitness through a common way that a lot of people usually do. Just they want to look better. It’s not something I really took seriously until college, but I remember when I first started “working out” was, man, probably eighth grade which didn’t last more than a month. There was this girl I was trying to impress and I knew nothing about working out or anything at that point.
I got a ten pound dumbbell from this place called Kmart in the Midwest. I’m not sure if anyone else is familiar with it. I got a ten pound dumbbell. I was just doing curls every night; just like hundreds of reps. It did absolutely nothing for me at all, so I was like, “Man, well, that was a wasted month.” I stopped training until pretty much college and that’s when I really got into fitness. That was about 2007.
I was an English Literature graduate, so I don’t have my degree in exercise, physiology, or anything, but what really got me into fitness was actually once I got involved on the Internet and started browsing all these websites, like T Nation and places like that. Once I got started with the program, I just saw the power of physical change and how it could enhance your life and the psychology and how you see yourself and how the world perceives you.
I really wanted to spread that and help people feel the same way that I felt because I’ve only really been lifting seriously since 2009. I got started in 2007, but it wasn’t anything great. It was just getting introduced to a lot of things such as barbell exercise and things like that, but.
Co-host: Man, that’s all good.
Roger: [Crosstalk 00:04:51]
Co-host: Now, but I have never heard of the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating program. Could you share a little bit about what that is and what you learned?
Roger: Yeah. The Precision Nutrition Lean Eating program is run over there by John Berardi and his team. When I did it, I’m sure it’s gone through many changes since then. That’s how they rolled over their Precision Nutrition, but it was a six month habit-based course. It wasn’t following the approach that I follow now which goes as far as tracking calories and things like that.
It was more about building habits over time that lead you in the direction of the body that you want to have as well as the mindset to really be able to do those things on a regular basis, not just when you want to look good and fall off the wagon as soon as you get to the point where you’re like, “Okay, I’m happy with where I am,” and then I go back to the way that I usually eat which is crap for most people.
It was an online-based system so they had videos and they had lessons like daily emails and weekly homework assignments to really keep people on track as far as how to develop those habits. If your listeners haven’t heard of the Precision Nutrition System, it was similar to that and the principles that is based around like such as eating every three to four hours, eating lean proteins with each meal, vegetables with each meal, things like that. They expanded it so that you could integrate it into your life.
It was more of a very extensive tutorial through the system, but it also touched on lifestyle factors. I remember one of the assignments that they had us do was to buy a new workout outfit just to not look ratty when you go to the gym, because how you look even when you go to the gym affects how you feel at times and how you perform. I bought this Under Armour outfit, like the Under Armour leggings and the top. I even got the face mask even though it was summertime. I don’t know why, but when you go into the gym feeling good, it definitely affects your mental state of being, and that always carries over to the physical.
It was definitely a worthwhile experience and I’m glad that I went through it because it taught me a fair amount of mental toughness and just sticking to the program that you’re on and trusting in the process. I think that’s definitely something that a lot of people could learn to implement.
Co-host: Right, yeah. I’ll put a link in the show notes for any of our listeners [crosstalk 00:07:34]. That sounds pretty cool. At what point do you think people really start needing a more customized training plan or should people really try and focus on that from the very beginning?
Roger: Yeah, I definitely think, especially the society that we’re in today, a customized program really is best for people because it sets them off on the right path. More often than not, a lot of people end up sitting their whole day, at least I’d say, man, at least twelve hours out of the day. Say you’re at work for eight hours, you might have an hour commute there, so that’s nine, an hour back, that’s ten, and then any sitting you do at home before you actually go to bed.
We spend most of our time sitting and that seated position affects a lot of people in different ways more than it does some others. If someone were to take a one-size-fits-all approach to their programming, the exercises might be appropriate for one person, but due to the state that they’re in from all the just everyday life that they’re living, some of exercises might not be appropriate for them.
As far as from a mobility standpoint, someone might be flexion intolerant which is for their low back and they might encounter some exercises that do them more harm than good, but they wouldn’t know that just blindly going into it. I definitely think an assessment which leads to that customized program is a big piece of the puzzle for most people.
In general, I’d say that honestly, if you have good levels of mobility, good levels of a flexibility, and things like that, a one-size-fits-all program isn’t the worst thing that you could do. Though my number one rule is do no harm. If I can’t help someone, the least that I can do is not hurt them or make them worse. If you are in a good position where you can get by on any program, it might not be optimal but it’s better than doing nothing.
Co-host: Right. Are there any kind of key principles that work well for most people?I know a lot of people say the big three or the big three or four are like squat, bend, thrust, deadlift, chins, like those kinds of things that work for most people?
Roger: I love the big three, just the big compound movements. I also recognize that due to limitations in equipment and where people are in the world, everyone might not have access to those. I like to focus more on principles as opposed to certain exercises. One thing I would focus on above all else is just to make sure that whatever you’re doing, you can progress on it.
For instance, if someone has a five pound dumbbell and they’re doing curls all day, that might not be the best way to go about it just because you can’t progress beyond it because you’re just limited to that weight. That’s why the things like the squats and the deadlift and chin-ups are so great is because they have a great amount of progression within. Say if you start off with 135 pounds on the deadlift, five pounds a week, ten pounds a week for the first couple of weeks, you are progressing every workout every time you do the deadlift so you’re bound to get stronger. The more weight you lift, that’ll only serve to help your body composition. That’s usually what most people are after.
You also want to make sure that whatever you’re doing is applicable in the long run. I’m saying that if an exercise is bothering you and you don’t like it, it’s probably not something that you’re going to do on a regular basis. Like for instance, I don’t actually like the deadlift for me because it hurts. After years of struggling with it, I keep going back. I’m like, “All right.” It’s like I’m in an abusive relationship. I’m like, “Okay, I know deadlift hurts me but it’s good for me so I got to go back to it.” Every time I do it, I end up hurt. Take a week off, I’m like, “Okay, I’m not doing this again. I’ve learned my lesson,” then I end up going back.
That was a big struggle for me for a while, but eventually I ended up taking it out of the program and putting in some more hamstring exercises that are a bit more effective in the long term because, A, they don’t hurt and I actually like them. You definitely have to like whatever you are doing if you plan on sticking with it in the long term. No matter what people tell you or how good an exercise is, if you don’t like it, odds are you’re not going to do it and aren’t going to he able to progressively overload over time.
That’s really what you want to focus on in terms of any program really, even if you’re going after muscle size because muscle size definitely does chase strength gains for the most part. I mean you can get by with lifting sub-maximal weights definitely, but if you’re chasing strength, odds are as you get stronger, the look that you want as long as your diet’s in place will follow that. That’s one of the main principles I definitely follow with myself and my clients.
Co-host: Cool. Yeah. I think it’s important [crosstalk 00:12:50] in exercise. How do you make good goals that are conducive to the real needs and wants?
Roger: Yeah, I mean I think it’s absolutely critical because more often than not, a lot of people set goals for themselves that sounds good in their head and it sounds good to be able to tell other people that they’re pursuing these goals but it’s not really something they want. For instance, I see this commonly where I’m at. It goes something like this.
A lot of people, their first [inaudible 00:13:27] to fitness is through running and they think that’s the only way to get into shape, which you know is definitely not. They see it and they have that tunnel vision. It feels good for them to say, “Okay, I’m going to run a half marathon or a marathon.” When they say it out loud to people, the people are … they’re pumped up. They’re like. “Yeah, you’re taking charge of your life. You’re getting off the couch. You’re doing something.”
Then it feeds into that feedback loop. They say, “Okay, I say this, people give me this response and it makes me feel good about what I’m doing.” Check in with them one or two months later, sometimes they’re injured, and their motivation is dwindling. It’s because they don’t even like the goal that they’re pursuing.
That’s one thing, I think, that you absolutely have to have down pat, at least for the most part. You definitely want to sit down with yourself and really see where you want to go because, honestly, no one is forcing you to go where you want to go. You have to do it because you want to. If that’s the case, then you might as well actually want to pursue the goal that you’re achieving or that you want to achieve and make sure that is your own and not someone else’s.
I wrote a post about this on my site that’s called “Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses.” I was actually talking with a friend about this last weekend and we were talking about how he’s chasing a certain strength goal just because he feels … He goes back and forth and it’s always that constant battle. Once you see someone else doing something, you’re like, “I want to do that too,” even if you know in the back of your head, you’re like, “I really don’t want to do it. What am I doing?” It’s that back and forth struggle.
I definitely want people to be able to concretely say, “Okay, I want to lose X amount of pounds and I know why,” because once you know the why, the how and actually doing it becomes a lot easier.
Co-host: Right. That rundowns to the goal.
Roger: Yeah. You definitely need those reminders. I’ve set in place reminders as to why you want that goal because depending on what the goal is, it might be years or months away and will power and motivation fade over time. They dwindle and if you don’t have any reminders as to why along the way, it feels like this huge road and you’re like, “Wow, I’m here at step one. I need to take thousands of steps to get to where I want to be.” It just seems so daunting of a task, so you definitely want to have reminders as to why you’re doing it.
What I like to do from that standpoint is to tie people’s goals into something internal. Let’s say that someone is chasing a strength goal. Being strong for strong’s sake is good in it of itself, but why do you really want to do it? What benefit will it give you other than bragging rights when you’re talking to your friends? I like to tie that into what that person wants to be outside of the gym.
For instance, I want to be strong deadlifter becau- … or at pull ups because I love rock climbing and I love being active and things like that. If you tie it into something outside of just X amount of numbers or X amount of pounds on a certain lift, it definitely helps you keep more focused on the long term instead of just the short term gains that might take a while to actually achieve. You might burn out in the process.
Co-host: Yeah, I think that’s a great segue into something that appeared here on your blog which I love called “Sexification.” If you could explain that to people? Yeah, I mean, I love that word, but could you explain that and what that means and what you’re trying to do with that? I think that’ll be great.
Roger: I love that term. I came about it in a weird way. There was this show called “The Jamie Foxx Show” a couple … no, not a couple years … well, like a decade ago. He always had a way with randomly twisting words to make them mean something else. There was this word he used all the time called “blowuptuate.” What that means is to blow up and get big. Let’s say if I was homeless and I’m talking to someone and I have this plan to make millions, I say, “Okay, I’m broke right now, but I got plans to blowuptuate in the future. Everything is just going to blowuptuate and is going to get beautiful and big and wonderful.”
It always made me laugh. Then when I was designing my website, I was like, “Okay, I want some core focus to drive the work that I do so I’m not just randomly writing things that don’t lead my readers in a certain direction.” I came up with sexification. What I found out quickly after figuring that out is that it’s definitely not just about your physique although it’s an important part.
In a nutshell, sexification is really all about being your best you. Being who you are and not really being ashamed of that or letting other people’s opinions of you or perception of you change that because it’s really easy to be someone else in this world. It’s easy to see a popular personality and try to duplicate them. Then it could be years later down the road after you’re pursuing that path you realize, you’re like, “I didn’t even really want this. I’ve been pursing this thinking that’s what I wanted.” You get there, you’re like, “Wow, I wasn’t being true to myself. It’s not what I wanted.” Then once that façade is gone, you just have a … just this empty shell and you’re like, “Okay, I need to fill with something else,” and it’s a cycle.
What sexification really is all about is just being your awesome you. Whatever you are, just embrace it. If you like collecting … I said this the other day … If you like collecting pogs, and that’s what you want to do, that’s what you’re awesome at, just be the shit at that. You want to be awesome in whatever you do and don’t be deterred by outside forces.
It’s not an easy thing to do because the world always tries to put you in a box and it always wants you to be one thing. We, as humans, are just … we’re walking contradictions and that’s okay. You got to be okay with that. It’s really about just being comfortable in your own skin and living the life that you want to live. It’s powerful once you really start to work towards it and realize that the world needs a lot more of those kinds of people as opposed to just …
Co-host: How important do you think mental strength is in a fitness program? You place a lot of emphasis on the psychological aspect of training.
Roger: It’s critical, man, because I’ll tell you, it doesn’t matter what program you’re on or how … You could have the most awesome program laid out for you but if you don’t have that mental “sticktoitivity,” I think that’s the word I just came up with, if you don’t have that, and if you can’t stick to anything, it really doesn’t matter what the program is or if it’s awesome. It could be crap. You could have a crap program, but if you just persist and trust in the program, odds are you will achieve better results than you would if you just half-assed an awesome program.
I think it’s crucial because if you can’t really stick to it, it doesn’t matter what it is. I like to include periods of mental tough inducing periods of time into my program. For instance, that will be maybe a set of heavy singles for five or six sets just to say that I can do it. I might not even feel like doing it on that day, but I’ll just say, “Okay, let’s just do it, see how it goes. If it goes like crap, at least you made it through. If it’s awesome, well, you just proved that you can do it.”
The same thing goes with nutrition as well, because definitely when a lot of people are trying to make changes to their nutritional program, it’s rough upfront. The urge to revert back to what you were doing before is super strong, especially in like the first two or three weeks. I found this out with myself when I was struggling with fast food addiction. I’d stop for a day, I’m like “Okay, whew. This is it, day one, I’m done. All right, smooth sailing from here.”
It go well for a couple of days, but then before I knew it, I was back to doing those same habits. I was just really looking for an excuse to really do. I’m like, “Oh man, the sun didn’t come out today, this must be a sign I got to eat these chicken nuggets because I’m feeling bad that the sun didn’t come out. It’s depressing me. I must eat to feel good.” On those first two weeks, you have to really suck it up because once you get past that point, it gets better and that’s really where people fall off is early on when they’re still trying to ingrain those new habits in their life.
I think that’s something that the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating program is definitely good at getting people more on a habit-based approach to thinking as opposed to being super specific, which, I think, helps for people that hate being super specific. I think the super specific approach works once you have habits in place. If you’re used to eating what are deemed clean foods like, “Okay, I’m going to eat lean meats, vegetables,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, you still might be eating way too much to reach your goals.
Once you have it in your mind to have that process down, it’s easy to tinker with it as opposed to trying to take someone who has been living off fast food and Twinkies for years and saying “All right, well, those are gone. You’re never going to have one of those again. You’re going to be eating chicken breast every day forever.” It will never work. It’s a big part of the puzzle that I don’t think a lot of people realize. It’s pretty much all mental after you get the nuts and bolts of progressions and everything locked out.
Co-host: Right. Yeah, I think [crosstalk 00:24:12] go on their diets and things, “I can do this. It all work out,” [crosstalk 00:24:18]. I think it goes back to just having that why too, like behind what you’re doing, like why do I want to eat this way? Why not?
Roger: Yeah, definitely. It’s a fun little question I like to ask people. I say, “Okay, can you …?” I’m like, “What’s your favorite food?” For instance, they say, “Okay, I love Oreos.” I’m like, “Could you eat Oreos every day?” They’re like, “Yeah. Well, I love to eat Oreos every day.” I’m like, “Okay, if you could eat Oreos every day, you can also eat this food everyday.” They’re like, “No, I don’t like it.” I’m like, “Well …” It takes the same amount of effort to eat Oreos everyday as it takes to eat vegetables. You just have to do it consistently. Once you do it consistently, it becomes a habit.
Co-host: Right, practice. [Crosstalk 00:24:53] to talk about a little bit about diet and health and … What kind of stuff you just … like you wrote an article about “Death to cake!” and I think that’s what you’re talking about here, but could you share some of the principles behind that article with the audience?
Roger: Yeah. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that article, I think this incident happened a couple years ago. I was somewhere, somewhere where there was cake. Once you become a trainer, and people know that, you’re on a pedestal so if they see you eating anything but organic air, chips, or paleo puffs, they will jump on you. I was at this event and there was some cake there and I am a big fan of cake. I took it upon myself to partake of quite a hefty slice.
Someone I hadn’t seen in years but they knew that I was a trainer, they were like “Whoa! What are you doing? You’re a trainer. You’re supposed be eating healthy.” The thing is that a lot of people, they’ll take an isolated incident and blow it out of proportion. If someone sees, let’s say, let’s use a familiar face. Let’s see. If someone sees John Berardi out in the streets, out at a restaurant, and they are familiar with his reputation online for being a health expert and performance expert, they see him eating that, they’re like, “Whoa! He’s eating cake? Man, my opinion of him went straight out the window.”
You’re human. You have to eat the foods that you like. You can’t just be so gung-ho about never eating the typical foods you like. Again, there’s that deprivation mindset that I think plays a big role in sticking with a nutrition program. People think that just because they are depriving themselves of foods that they like, that they must be making progress. I think progress is progress. If your goal is weight loss and you are losing weight, that is progress. If you’re eating foods that you don’t like, depriving yourself of foods that you do like, and you are still not losing weight, that’s not progress in my book.
That whole “Death to cake!” thing was that you don’t have to be so ridiculously obsessive about your food intake. There is room for foods that you love on almost any nutrition program. Let’s say if someone is a bodybuilder and they’re getting down to the last few percentage points of body fat, yeah, they’ll have to restrict their food, but there’s still room for some M&Ms, a piece of cake. It doesn’t really matter. You really have to work that in. You can work any food that you like into your program as long as you’re smart about it.
The thing is that it starts … being able to work those foods in, it starts with being accountable for your other food choices. You can have the piece of cake if you’re on top of your nutrition otherwise. If you’re eating anything and everything anyway, that piece of cake on top of it doesn’t even really matter. You’re going downhill. I think it helps in the long-term once people realize, “I can eat anything I want as long as I’m accountable for the amount and I make sure that I’m getting my protein in, my essential fatty acids, and my vegetables, and my fruits.” As long as you hit certain base levels, anything on top of that, as long as you can work it into your calorie budget, I like to say more power to you.
People really are resistant to that idea because they think that being in shape and being lean has to be difficult, otherwise it’s not real. Like, “Oh man, if I’m happy with the foods that I’m eating, I can’t be on the right path because if it tastes good, it’s not good for me.” That’s something I commonly hear and it breaks my heart because I’m like, “You’re so close to getting the body that you want if you just let go of these rules that really have no place in getting you to the end goal, to the end game that you want to achieve.”
A lot of people are resistant to letting go. I think that’s really a mindset shift and that goes back to sexification. Live the life you want. If there are rules that are in your way that don’t lead you to get closer to your goal, as long as you’re not killing anybody, get rid of the rules because there’s a million ways to get to France.
If I wanted to get to France, I could walk. If I had the technology to walk on water or I could fly if I could fly. There’s million ways to get there but there is no one absolute way to get to any goal and there’s various paths. As long as you can make it work for you. that’s really all that matters in the end.
Co-host: Right. Yeah, I think [crosstalk 00:29:55]. It’s like the stress of like [crosstalk 00:29:59].
Roger: Oh, yeah. Just that unnecessary stress that it causes, like man, it’s something I’ve been thinking about recently. A lot of people think that the more they think about their goal is conducive to how close they’re getting to it. Like someone that thinks about losing fat all day and they think about the food choices but they don’t actually take any action on it, even though they’re not really taking any action, that mental stress of thinking about it all the time is still stressing them out. The fact that they’re not getting to their goal stresses them out even more.
It’s just a horrible situation to be in. Like someone that says, “Ugh, I want to get in shape,” and they’re thinking about different ways to get in shape. They’re researching. They’re reading forums. They’re doing all this and that. They’re spending all this mental real estate sucking up information, but they’re not doing anything with it and they’re not getting the results. It hurts and it makes them even less likely to pursue it anymore because they’re like, “Oh, I must be doing something wrong.” The fact is they’re really not doing anything at all other than just constant intake of info without execution.
Co-host: [Crosstalk 00:31:11]. Cool, so [crosstalk 00:31:20] …
Roger: From a motivational standpoint, I like to start things off by getting the concept into their heads that you only want to make it as difficult as it needs to be because I found that the more complex you make something, the more difficult it becomes to stick to it. Like what you’re saying earlier, if you can’t stick to it, it doesn’t really matter what it is.
For instance, if someone is just starting like … I have a client that’s just getting into the gym for the first time in her life. Instead of even touching her nutrition, I’m just saying, “Okay, we’re going to come in here for an hour three times a week. We have four exercises to get through. Once you get through them, you’re good to go. Anything you do over that is bonus points. We’re just going to start you off slow and you have to realize that it’s a process. You won’t get there super quickly, but the fact that you are moving towards it is progress in it of itself, and if after while we start to see that you aren’t having the results that you want, we can start to tweak other things.”
A lot of people, when they’re like, “I want to get in shape,” when they say that, what they really mean is I want to get in shape two years ago so I’m going to try and make up for all that lost time by throwing everything that I can at this problem. It’s like their problem is a huge monster. They ignored it. They saw the monster when it was a baby, but they ignored it, so now it’s this huge, tentacle creature with eight heads and pair of a Nike’s on. They’re like, “Okay, this is a big problem. I want to get rid of it now.”
They’re going to throw all the artillery at it. They’re weight training five times a week. They’re doing intervals six times a week. They’re going running every day. They’re not eating anything at all and it just burns them out. The goal of anything is to really prevent burnout, because once you burn out, people fall off hard. That’s not motivating at all. I think small steps and making it only as difficult as it needs to be to get to your goal is a key.
One of the things that I enjoy, and this is someone that I respect is Martin Berkhan and his Leangains System and Intermittent Fasting, is that he makes it only as difficult for his clients as it needs to be. The results that his clients are showing definitely are a testament to that because he gives them guidelines and then he gives them ways to adjust it based off how they are adjusting to it. If you haven’t, checked out Leangains, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it, but definitely check out his client testimonials.
The thing is, once you show someone how easy it can be and that it doesn’t have to be difficult, that’s all the motivation they need because, A, it’s easy to stick to, and then, B, they’re getting results so there’s not that disconnect between “Ugh if it’s not difficult then it must not be working.” If it’s easy and I’m getting results, that’s all the motivation you need. Once you start seeing those results, you would be foolish to try and make it more difficult for no reason other than for the sake of difficulty.
I love it and I’ve been doing intermittent fasting myself for about a year now, and it’s actually become … I can’t go back to the five or six meals a day just because it’s so unnecessary. It doesn’t really fit into my mental, the meshing of everything and everything I’ve learned. That’s all the motivation that I really need.
Co-host: Yeah, I just have to say I’m a huge fan of Martin Berkhan. I think he does a great job and I’m definitely [crosstalk 00:35:01]. Cool, so let’s say somebody has gotten to a base level of fitness. If they were trying to get as strong as possible, what should they be doing?
Roger: If someone is looking to just get … I’ll leave powerlifters out of the equation just because they’re competing for that, so their training is structured for those lift. For the general fitness enthusiasts, I think that there’s a couple ways to get strong. You can lift a light load very quickly or a heavy load very slowly, but for most people, I think just lifting heavy will get them stronger just because your body adapts to what you ask of it.
If you don’t like … I’m thinking if you don’t ask a question, you won’t get an answer. The same thing goes with your body. If you don’t constantly ask of it to better itself, it won’t get better. It will just stay stagnant. If you want to get stronger, you want to be lifting heavier over time. The rep ranges for that definitely vary. You can do heavy singles if you’re comfortable. That always get you stronger just because you’re lifting so close to your maximum, you will get stronger, but it’s not the only way.
I, personally, for my clients, for certain exercises like the squat, deadlifts, I generally keep them in maybe the three to five range, or actually three to eight actually. For instance, I was turned on to this by Mark Berkhan as well. It’s called the Reverse Pyramid Training. It’s based off the concept that you want your first set after your warm-up, you want that to be your heaviest set and then everything from that on, you’re decreasing weight and adding repetitions.
It makes so much sense when you think about it, but usually people’s last set is their heaviest set. By that point, they’re already fatigued. If they’re fatigued, the form goes out the window. They might hurt themselves. Something that I’ve experienced with myself and my clients is that first set, say for instance a squat, you warm up. Okay. First set, you’re going to do a heavy set of two or three. They’ll be fresh for that. The weight goes up fine. Done. Then they’ll drop their weight by a certain percent and then they’ll do, like say for instance, 10% and they’ll aim to do another rep the next set than whatever they got the first is.
Say they got two reps the first set, the second set, they drop the weight it 10%, aim for three, and then the second set after that, aim for four. Really, like I was saying before, physique changes definitely chase strength gains. Whatever your goal is, you really want to be aiming for strength. For instance, if you want to get leaner, you want to maintain the intensity of your exercise which means you want to keep as much weight on the bar as you can when you’re in a deficit so that you give your body a reason to hold on to its muscle because if you lose your muscle, you lose your shape, you lose your strength. It’s not really a good look.
Even if you want to get stronger, the only way to get stronger is to literally get stronger, add more weight over time, add reps over time. It’s a lot of things to play with, but just to keep it simple, just get stronger over time. Set a wide rep range for, say, an exercise. For instance, you want to squat … you’re squatting maybe 315 pounds now for two reps, over time you want that to go up. If you’re squatting two times now, a month from now, if you’re squatting eight times, you have gotten stronger. Even though the weight hasn’t changed, you’ve been able to perform under that load more times that before which is progress in my …
Co-host: [Crosstalk 00:38:55] trying to do your maximum. [Crosstalk 00:39:05]
Roger: Yeah, prioritize strength gains above all else and the strength will increase and the physique will as well. That’s anything that people can take away from this.
Yeah, I definitely think they’re necessary but to the degree that people talk about. I definitely bring that into question. If your whole program … If your goal is to get stronger, get faster, or increase anything, increase your strength, look better, you definitely want to have a minimum level of mobility and flexibility. I’m an example of this. I’m sure the reason that my deadlift hurts me is just because I’m a mess movement-wise. I have tight hamstrings. I don’t have any internal rotation. My hips are tight. I don’t have any upper back extension. I’m just a mess and it shows itself in the way that I move.
Your body is smart. It’ll be able to compensate up into a certain point, but once you cross that threshold, muscles and joints are doing jobs they’re not supposed to do, and when you ask too much of it, they will breakdown and you will get injured. I definitely think there’s a place for things such as mobility drills and flexibility drills, but you’re right. Once you have that level of mobility, you want to add strength to it in order to be able to control it and maintain it.
For instance, if I stopped squatting deep as I do now, sat in a chair for up to eight hours at a time and did none of my hip flex and mobility drills, I would definitely lose that pattern of squatting over time. It would be a train wreck because movement is something that we’re given as children and we take it for granted, but as we get older we lose that ability to move well. That is something people get away from. If movements like that or prehab exercise or dominating your program, and you don’t need it, I question the productiveness of that program pass a certain point.
I love things like core, like planks and things like that just because people usually have weak core, that’s been shown a bit to contribute to low back pains. You can strengthen your core in a lot of different ways in a program as long as you are actively doing it. A lot of people say squats and deadlifts are all the core work that you need, but I don’t really agree with that. You can put some isolated core exercise into your program, but you also want to make sure that the muscles that you’re using are activated such as the glutes, for instance.
A lot of people that are mainly sedentary and seated, they forget how to use their glutes and I think glute activation drills are wonderful, especially because if your glutes aren’t firing, that is the powerhouse of your body, so you’re missing a huge piece in your lower back. That will take a beating if your glutes really aren’t firing. You definitely want to make sure that you are taking care of those things from not only physique standpoint, from posture and just well-being. Once you have adequate levels of mobility and flexibility, the big lifts will help maintain them. You won’t have to work as hard to get them as you would have to work to maintain them, if that makes any sense.
Co-host: Yeah, that sounds great. That makes me happy [crosstalk 00:42:38]. Well, if there were just a few principles you could share with people for just being healthy and fit just on a very general basis before we wrap here, what would they be like? What are some things you often see people making a mistake with in your practice?
Roger: Number one is definitely pay more attention to the amount of food they’re eating. That would be my number one thing because it’s so easy to guesstimate yourself into being overweight or not eating enough to support the training that you’re doing. I encourage everyone that listens to this to track what they’re eating, at least for a short period of time. I’ve found that most guys in general usually eat the same foods in rotation. It’s definitely not the same with women, I have found.
Women like a lot of variety as far as their food goes. Most guys, they have some staples that they’ll just rotate in and out. You definitely want to track your intake and make sure that is leading them towards their goals. If nothing else, they don’t have a goal they’re really just trying to achieve right now, just the knowledge of how much you’re taking in and how off you probably are as opposed to what the numbers say will definitely do you worlds of good in the future.
Once you get used to it, you attach a certain calorie intake with a certain eyeball portion of what you’re eating, you can guesstimate and eyeball it from that point. I think a lot more people need experience with just tracking their intake consistently for a few weeks.
Also, just get stronger over time. I know I’ve said it a lot during this interview, but whatever your goal is, you want to be strong. It’s a quote that Mark Rippetoe said and I think it’s funny but it’s true. “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and are more useful in general.” It’s true. If you see someone that’s just weak and frail, odds are they don’t have a physique that you envy and they probably feel it. They have this inkling inside of themselves that they are not prepared for life or not prepared to take advantage of the things in life that they might want to take advantage of. They’re just not in a position to do that.
It’s not a really good mental ball and chain to have attached to yourself. Get stronger over time, whatever you’re doing. If you’re deadlifting, hey, two pounds. If you have those microplates, two pounds every other week, it doesn’t matter. You could probably progress faster, but as long as you’re progressing either in your weight or your repetitions or how fast you’re lifting the weight, just get stronger. It helps your life out. It helps your mental perception of yourself and the world around you. The stronger you are, the better you just feel. It’s hard to explain but that’s definitely something I would stress on people.
Then one more is really to just make sure that the goals you have are your own because it’s so easy to get led down a path where you’re following goals that you don’t want and you don’t want to achieve. You don’t even know it until you get there and achieve them and realize you wasted your time here on earth pursuing something that you did not want. You have wasted time that you are never going to get back.
Doing things that you don’t want to do to a certain extent is pointless given the finite amount of time that we have here on earth. You should be doing things that you’re passionate about. Of course, you’re going to have to do things; pay your bills and stuff like that. You don’t want to be homeless. You want to love what you are pursuing because, if you … I haven’t experienced this yet and I hope that I don’t, but I don’t want to wake up forty years from now and realize, “Oh man, I’ve been pursuing something that I didn’t even really like,” and I’m like 65 years old. I’m like, “Well, at best I have maybe another 35 years left and worst, I might die tomorrow and I have wasted my time here.”
Whatever your goals are, make sure that they’re yours and that they’re not goals just to impress someone or to make others hopefully perceive you differently.
Co-host: Right, [crosstalk 00:47:31]. Get strong. Make your goals your own. That sounds awesome, yeah.
Roger: Whatever you want to do, just make sure it’s what you want to do and do it, man. You will be a lot happier than if you just followed the crowd and did what others do just for the sake of doing it.
Co-host: Thank you so much Roger for doing this. You’ve been just absolutely incredible. I hope everyone goes to your website. Really, it’s a great design for one thing that’s entertaining and a ton of great information. Thank you so much for coming.
Dave: If you found our show useful this week, you can really help us by following us on Twitter, @bulletproofexec, checking out our blogs, signing up for email, and basically just doing things like liking us on Facebook or liking us on iTunes, which helps other people find us.