Eat Train Prosper

Variety OR Repeat Everything? | ETP#133

October 24, 2023 Aaron Straker | Bryan Boorstein
Eat Train Prosper
Variety OR Repeat Everything? | ETP#133
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Which is best? Rotating exercises, rep schemes, and intensities week to week? Keeping all of the aforementioned variables identical? Or is it possibly some combination between the two? This week we dive into a 2014 study that aimed to answer that question. In typical Eat Train Prosper fashion, we provide additional important insight into the design choices of the study, as well as our own personal anecdote and speculation.

0:00 - Life/Episode Updates
22:07 - Bryan provides some background before covering the study
26:28 - Breaking down the study
32:14 - Aaron's initial thoughts
34:48 - Digging into the results
40:44 - The idea of training age dictates how much repeatability someone may need in their training
52:31 - Additional insights

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so Mike doesn't pick up all that worrying. Here we go. What's up, guys? Happy Tuesday. Welcome back to Eat, Train, Prosper. Today is episode 133, and we are touching upon training variety from week to week or repeat everything week to week. Before we dig into the meat and potatoes of today's episode, Brian, can you kick us off with some updates, please? Yeah, so to kick this one off, I did this a number of weeks back on the podcast, and it's something that I'll definitely be more vocal about, but I have some coaching roster spots available, especially as we are heading into the final months of the year, wrapped up some very successful projects that I am eager to share on socials once I get clearance from the clients there. But if you are... One, want to get a jump on the beginning of the new year, or two, maybe just want a little bit of extra accountability and pressure on yourself. Or third, and this one I'm very excited about, maybe you've had some poor coaching experiences in the past. I would love for the opportunity to help write that from a coaching space for you and not only help you achieve whatever we set out to achieve, but also help to improve your kind of perception from what may have been a poor first experience. So that's the first one. Second, and I, you know, it's, I'm proud to say this, I had a cardio session yesterday where I actually felt like I was in shape. I was on the StairMaster or StepMill or whatever the many names for the automatic stairs, right, that go up. I did 25 minutes, my average heart rate was at a 142, and that's including like when I started, my heart rate's at... I don't know, fucking 80 or whatever, and it takes a bit to climb up. I felt like I could easily have kept going. And there's been a similar challenge that we have started using is no touching, like no hands on it. So like you're balancing the whole time, like you can't just put your forearms on the thing and your head down and bury all your body weight into your upper body on it like people do. And I almost kept going, but I wanted to... We've been splitting cardio up over two modalities and I wanted to get on the bike. But it was the first time where it was almost fun and I felt like I easily could have just kept going. And I was really surprised to see, because by the time I got off it, my heart rate was like in the 150s, but I felt like perfectly fine. My breathing was regulated. I was able to take these deep controlled big breaths and I was like, holy shit, it's happening. It's actually happening. I have these... positive cardiovascular adaptations happening. And then jumped on over the bike and what I needed to do to keep my heart rate up is I needed to push really hard to keep my heart rate up on the bike, but I was able to clear the metabolites and stuff, which I remember when we first got into it, my legs were on fire trying to get my heart rate to the 115, and this time it was well above 130 and I was perfectly fine. So it was just cool to feel the... improvement there after what normally feels like just getting your ass kicked for so long. It's been maybe for the past two to three weeks have removed those as I've started getting leaner and recovery capacity has started to dwindle there just to not put more pressure on the leg, just to remove load on the legs pretty much. So things are pretty much steady. extremely. Yeah. It's hard to say. I do think the cardio, like given the amount and consistency that I have been doing relative to what I have done over the past like five years, even at two to three sessions a week is in it. I mean, we're talking 300%, you know, increases over zero. So there's that. And it's hard to say. I mean, realistically, I'm down 16 pounds, right? What is that from a, from a, you know, total body mass change? I'm not really sure. I don't think maybe like 8% or something like that, maybe 7. It's significant. I'm not sure. No. No, it would be hard. I don't have anything connected to the bike at the gym. Um, no, I, unless. These bikes don't have any screens. Yeah, yeah, I don't have anything. Yeah, let's do it. Cool, with that I think, I don't know, if you gave me option, I wanna train for the 100 meter row because your training sessions are 20 seconds at a time. Ha ha ha. Yeah. Final update from me in, man, I wish I knew more or there was... It's hard to say, but anyway, had an insane performance on my back training session today. Like on our first exercise, which is essentially a supinated pull down, right? So like mimicking a chin up, but you know, with a pull down machine, I picked up like four reps on my top set and on my back off set. like pushing me way out of the rep range, like way above it. And then we also have like a rest pause set as a third set there. So I mean, it's a very gnarly start to a training session. But I mean, after that, my back was completely exploded and my forearms hurt so bad, I couldn't open my hands for like 10 minutes. Like it'd be... Yeah. And on the rest pause, like I'll use the VersaGrips. Right? And then I just didn't unhook them. So I didn't have to like, cause I mean the rest Paul said you have 15 or so seconds, but like your heart rates up. I don't want to be fucking with my hands. So I would just like get up and just left my hands there. I mean, for what's probably like four minutes in its entirety. And at the end of it, like it was so, so bad. My forearms, like they were absolutely destroyed for the rest of the workout. I could barely hold onto things and just use my. VersaGrips, but it was... And I just, I want to know where those performance things come out of, right? I think this was week 13 of my diet. You know, I had not a new low this morning, but tied for a low at 201.3. There was no refeed or anything that changed at all, but just had this incredible performance day. And I'm like, I just want to know why. You know? Like, where these things come from. Yep. Yeah, I was like double checking my notes last week. I'm like, there's no ways that this could be correct. I went through and I was like, yeah, cause last week we made some mods and I was like, yeah, I was like next week, hey, go up because you smashed it. And I'm like, and then I went up this week and still smashed it. So it was very, very cool to see. But yeah, that was it. I just wanted to share that it was like. the very, a very, very insanely good training back session. And like even now, like I can feel it. My back is like smoked and never do I feel that like just a few hours after training. Yeah. So that supinated pull down and then we went over and we had been doing a barbell row, but one of Jackson's brachialises are a little bit like really spicy. So we have been moving something that's not as grip intensive there. And we set up a low to high chest supported cable row with D handles. So we had to use it. Elbows slightly out. You're rowing like, you know, like the cables not at the floor. closer to the floor and your chest supported rowing up. And it's like your lower traps, you can stretch them out and then squeak. I mean, it's such a good mid-back stimulus. So we put that one in. And then the pulldown, one of the pulldowns here has a double pulley at the top and the prime hooks as an attachment. So you can set up the rear delt kind of focused pull. Yeah. So we did that. What else did we have then? Then we had a unilateral seated cable row that bent over rear delt like flies raises sort of thing, dumbbells. But we perform those as like, you know, honest reps. You take like your good honest reps and then on your own fully into partials. to where you can barely move them. And then like, you know, Jackson will come in and help me get full reps again, and then into partial. So I mean, I get like maybe seven, eight good reps on my own, but like by the time it's over, it's probably like 30 efforts. And I mean, that just smokes everything, upper back, you know, rear delts, like everything. And then we did, what else was there? There was some hyper extensions, like mid back focused, which are just gnarly. Haven't done those in quite a long time. before this training block. And then a new one we did was a prone incline dumbbell shrug. So we have... Okay. I... Mm-hmm. Okay. We were just like still standing, but like, you know, leaned over a little bit and it was like more like a... Yeah. And like a little bit more upper back focus as well. And that was really good. We could really dramatically reduce load needed and the stimulus was quite good there. So that was a new one that I was quite a fan of, which was pretty cool. back rear delts, like a little bit of the hyper extensions, which are like, you know, mid back. And then we did have abs. And that's like one of the Yeah, that one pull session does not have biceps on it. Let's do it. Do you want to introduce the study that we're going to cover? Wonderful, let's do it. Yeah, I think, I'm glad you said that. It's going to expand some of our thoughts on it, our anecdote. And I think once we get through the earlier parts of the study, I think it will become quite evident as to why I think that's important. What I think is my initial thoughts are as I was, this was my first time actually like digging into this study. I'm sure I've heard of Eric Helms mentioning it on podcasts and stuff before. And immediately, if I'm being honest with everyone, as I'm reading some of this, like my bias meter is, let's call it my bias spidey sense, is like tingling in the negative way, right? And I'm like... I don't know if I really believe this, right? And I'm like digging in and I'm kind of looking to poke holes in it to confirm my own bias, being completely transparent. And this is one of the reasons why you really have, you can't just read an abstract of a study. You have to look at things. And then as I'm coming into it and I'm like, okay, well, what exercises and stuff did they do? I'm like, oh, the constant exercise group only squatted. Like that's the only thing they did. And then the groups that varied exercises, squatted, we have deadlifts, leg press, and lunges. Those, those groups had the more like, let's call it a complete hypertrophy response where the VMO is getting a better hypertrophic response, largely. I'm going to make an assumption here because of the lunge, because of the position that the back leg is in, you know, in the lunge. Also with the lunge, you get that stability of the front leg, which is going to... likely add some additional stimulus to the VMO. And it becomes kind of obvious to me, but if you do not have like this innate experience with years of resistance training, I mean, not even years, but just an intimate experience and understanding of these things, it might not be obvious to you, you know? And that I thought was quite interesting to me. My other thought about this one is... especially in studies like verbiage used in terminology is like very, very important. Right. And in this one, they didn't use resistance training. They use physically active individuals. And then when you dig into the selection criteria, I pulled this point out. They were selected based upon the criteria that they had not engaged in any form of regular strength training for at least six months before the study. You know, Commenced and then they were asked to refrain from any additional physical training during the experimental pyramid period and if I remember correctly They had two training sessions per week correct pretty much like neurological efficiency at producing force and specificity in like movement execution. And the thing that I thought was very, very interesting is at the very end of the study, right? It's in the discussion at the very, very end of it, the authors point all of this out. So all of my like... not necessarily fears, but like my beef with the study, right? I'm like, what about this? What about this? What about this? I'm like kind of really defensive reading through it. In the last like three or four paragraphs of the entire study, they cover everything and it's like very, very well summed up and it talks about like, hey, with like increased, you know, exercises with the increased degrees of freedom and then not having like the history of performing these exercises to reach like, you know, neurological proficiency at producing force and these sorts of things like they cover it all So I did that I was honestly quite impressed with that wrap up from them there But I think it's hard to extrapolate, you know From my standpoint, right? I'm sure other people may feel differently Like like I'm not going to take some information like this and apply it to someone like you know yourself, Brian, who's been training for like 25 years and has a lot of these, you know, efficiencies and stuff in place. Because I think the context of the population is important. And then I don't think it's just extremely applicable across like into a very highly resistance trained population. I think ultimately that is the pie in the sky kind of design because that's the most accurate, real world representation of what people will do. Using that same example, like, okay, we have a squat, we have a deadlift, we have a leg press and we have a lunge, but what it might be is like, okay, that's like week one of a program or something like that. Let's say we have a program that repeats every three weeks or something and then week two is like... you know, Bulgarian split squat, leg extension, Smith machine squat, and you know, something else, right? Some other fourth exercise. And I think like that is a more real world application of something like this. However, the hard thing is it's in the, the devil is in the details in its design, right? Because your average person or let's say your average coach, even me, you took me. Four years ago, right, and had me design a program. And at this point, I had been training for literally like 15 years, right? Five days per week in the gym sort of thing. But my program design skills were nothing special. What I could do four years ago, literally wouldn't be able to smell the farts of what I could design today. I think that's the beauty. Someone like you who has such an extensive knowledge or a cast or something like that, they could demolish. someone's, you know, average training program built because of like an acute and intimate knowledge of the inter workings of lengthened overload, mid range overload, and the beauty of marrying these sorts of things together in a very, very well designed program. So I think that's the hard thing is that is where the devil in the details really does come in. Yeah, really, really well said. One thing that I will add from my anecdote on the back end of that is the challenging part of these conversations with resistance training and hypertrophy and stuff is, hypertrophy in progress doesn't exist in a vacuum. It would be lovely if it did. I think that's another massive, let's call it limitations of some of the studies and stuff is like you could have this. If I remember correctly, there were 70 people in the study, 21 dropped out from time commitment issues so they finished with like 49. It's not a super small sample size, but we have no idea what this nutrition looked like. Half these people could have been in the deficit, right? The other half could have just been auto regulatory, which is probably very typical of a college student and some could have been bulking. We just don't know. I would say where the diagnostics and how consistent, let's call it that, you want to be. If you have other parts of your life really, really dialed in... I think, like, let's say you're on a meal plan, you're eating the same thing like day in and day out, that part is covered. You sleep eight hours per night, that is covered. There's no alcohol on the weekends, like that is covered. Because other parts that go into the equation of hypertrophy, increasing, you know, training performance and those sorts of things are so dialed, I think it lends itself more to having a little bit more flexibility on the, you know, exercise selection and those sorts of things. If you are someone where the other impacting factors of the hypertrophy outcome aren't as dialed and are more auto-regulatory and flexible, you may not want to multiply one set of flexible against another set of flexible because your results are, the likelihood is less likely because other parts of your life are more, more variable. And the third part, right, that's gonna come up because the, the, what the hell is it called? The devil's advocate that I see people saying, right, is one that always comes up. It's like, well, Sebum varies his exercises in those sorts of things, which, you know, I watch some of his training vlogs. He does, he's like, oh, we're gonna do this today, we're gonna do this today, you know, I'm six weeks out, I'm gonna do this today. That is true, he varies his exercises. Another massive component that is often not talked about is as you are going into... Pretty much the biggest competition of your life, right? What do you do? You are turning the drugs up. That's generally what happens there. That is very, very conducive for progress in it of itself. So like I said, hypertrophy doesn't exist in a vacuum. There's all these other facets that will, you know, positively or negatively impact the quality of those results. The more firm you are in some of those other aspects lends itself to more variation. or flexibility with the hypertrophy exercise selection. And then also conversely, the less structured or more variable you are and the other lifestyle parts probably lends itself to be a little bit more rigid with your diagnostics. Yeah. The one thing that you said much earlier in the episode, Brian, that I thought was worth kind of bringing up again, we've used the terminology of throwing darts at a dartboard a multiple times, but it's not like, let's say you have six, nine darts in your hand. It's not just nine random darts that will go at any area. You're going to have like... three red darts and you can throw one of the three red darts. You have three green darts that you can throw one of the three green darts and you have like three blue darts. And when you were quickly glossing through like, you quickly built an example on the fly of like, you know, week one, I do pendulum squat, leg extension and split squat, right? And then when you said week two, it was like, it wasn't a split squat. It was a walking lunge. It wasn't the pendulum squat. It was a Smith machine squat. And I don't remember what you said for the other one. Okay, you kept leg extension. But if hopefully, you know, some of the listeners are picking up on, we have a short overload exercise. We have a bilateral lengthened biased exercise. And then we have a unilateral exercise that it's going to be equally like quad to hip dominant sort of thing. So it's not like Brian brought that up, but he was still working within a framework to build those examples. It wasn't... hey, I'm gonna do leg press and then pendulum squat and then Smith machine squat, right? Because they're pretty much all kind of the same fucking thing, you know, with varying degrees. And I think that's really, really important to point out. It's like the randomness isn't entirely random. It's like, you know, randomness in selection within a rigid framework of understanding movement patterns and those sorts of things. In a perfect world, like we are cut and dry, repeat everything the same week, like in a perfect world, right? Unless we have an injury or something like that, we are pretty much repeating everything. Or there's been certain times like one of the days had a dumbbell, like just a dumbbell shrug, right? And Jackson's like, I've maxed out the dumbbells that we can do. Like we need something and that's where we came up with the kind of chest supported variety today to kind of change the vector angle a little bit there. But if we can, we're repeating like week over week. And just for me, it's now I've lost enough body weight and my body fat percentage is getting low enough where I'm like, some things like pulling maybe some things in legs, I can still set some PRs on. But a lot of my many... like bicep stuff, tricep stuff, it's trying to hold on and match performances with pressing things. I'm seeing some regression. Some days are better than others, but I'm seeing some regressions. Jackson's in his off season, and he's got, I think, nine weeks or 10 weeks left in the off season or whatever. So for him, it's like pushing to set some new highs of performance thresholds to benchmarks to still keep his progression. So I think because of our differences in our periodization timelines, our intent is the same, but the reality of the results that we are producing are slightly different. I, there hasn't been. And I think there's multiple factors there. And I think he would be one that would be really good to get him on one time just to talk through some of his philosophies and stuff. But there's a concept of, like, obviously, there's like overreaching and that sort of thing. But let's say like all you've ever done in your life is like, you know, two RIR, right? That's, and that's what you know your limit as. And someone gives you like, you know, one RIR for your program. I don't know, my fatigue's really high, I'm really, really sore." And then you recover from it and eventually that one RIR becomes like a normal, right? And you're like, oh wow, I'm much more capable than I had previously thought. And then you push some things to failure. And at first you're like, well, I'm pretty fatigued, my heart rate's really high, I'm really, really sore the next day. And then you do that for a couple of weeks and you create adaptations to it. And that's ultimately what's happened with me. And I kind of touched on this a number of podcasts back, but I entered this whole, you know, this training camp when we started training together is like, let's assume that everything that I know is just wrong. Or not necessarily wrong, but I know what I know up to this point, but there's this area of unknown that I just don't know about, right? I'm just gonna go in and see. And the worst case scenario is that I was right all along. That's my worst case scenario. But anything better than that is all new knowledge and kind of exploration for me. And the one thing that I have found is my recovery capacity has become incredibly, I'm quite capable. And I'm really surprised that I'm following a training program that's built for someone who, or built by someone who consistently puts people on the Olympia stage year after year. Right? That's who's doing Jackson's program that we're following. I'm recovering from it quite fine. In the first couple of weeks, I was beat the fuck up. And that was with food was high. But now it's just like it's just Wednesday, you know? And I would say the biggest thing now is just the mental. Like tomorrow, we're training legs in those leg days are soul sucking. They are very long, very, very challenging. But one thing I found is. where four exercises in, I just took, you know, two hack squat sets to absolute failure and my heart rate's through the roof and I'm like very fatigued. I get myself like seven, eight minutes, hit my like two warmup sets of RDLs and I can still perform maximally on an RDL at the heaviest I've ever been doing RDLs in my entire life. And it's until you push yourself there, you just don't know. And that's what it's been for me is just a lot of like exploration. And I've been quite pleased at what I've uncovered and discovered from that. Yeah, yeah. I don't really remember. I know my diet officially started July 15th, right? It's October 17th. And I think we had been training together probably about a month or so before my diet started. So, you know, let's call it maybe early June, early to mid June, somewhere around there. The same shit we were doing in June, there might be some things where we had found a better variation and where we all kind of were like, yeah, this is a better stimulus. Let's keep this one in. But it would be like a different high to low row that we replaced with a different variation of a high to low row or something like that. But pretty much have just kept it the same minus some... Like there's times where my elbows were really, really blown up, so I wasn't doing any overhead. Um, sort of stuff, but those are both perfectly fine. Now, after I got the PRP injections that worked wonderfully again, um, that I do, that's insane. It is absolutely insane how, how effective those have been for me. But, uh, yeah, things have been pretty much keeping every everything the same. And I would imagine things will stay probably identical up until he starts prep, but that's purely speculation on my. It's a very, very good way to kind of wrap that up. The kind of the way that I'll kind of describe it as you get from more into the extremities of the body, right, forearms, calves, biceps, triceps, those sorts of things like the emphasis on the repetitiveness is probably a little bit of like diminishing because these things still get obviously auxiliary work from other movements unless you are in a specialization phase for those. To kind of put a bow on this one, we will obviously put the links to the study and stuff in the show notes in the episode description. And I would implore you to go and read the discussion part of the study at the end of it, which I think there is just tons of really good context to really just kind of reiterate some of the things we said in the episode. But when I was reading the study, found a lot of value in what the authors had to say at the end of the discussion. Alright guys, thank you for listening. As always, Brian and I and possibly Viv will talk to you guys next week.

Life/Episode Updates
Bryan provides some background before covering the study
Breaking down the study
Aaron's initial thoughts
Digging into the results
The idea of training age dictates how much repeatability someone may need in their training
Additional insights