Are you losing muscle while cutting? Revive Stronger podcast

Categories: Videos & podcasts


00:00 Intro

01:35 If your strength is stable while cutting, you’re losing muscle mass

07:45 Risk of muscle loss, how likely is it

09:45 Does leverage change impact the strength much

18:26 Recovery as a culprit of muscle loss and performance as the biggest indicator of muscle loss

23:16 Exercise selection on performance drops and recovery capabilities

26:59 Exercise order and its impact on performance

30:41 Rep drop-offs from set to set

35:28 Axial loading and overall fatigue

37:58 Time under tension and eccentric training

44:34 Rest times between sets

50:18 Rate of loss during a cut, how fast can we lose fat?

Transcript (auto)

Hey guys welcome back to the revised stronger podcast I’m your host as always Steve Hall and today I have meno henselman’s back on the show and we’re digging into some controversy at the start because he recently shared a reel or a short where he essentially said if your strength is stable whilst you’re cutting you are losing muscle you heard that right that is if you’re dieting and your strength isn’t going up you’re not gaining performance meno thinks you very May well be losing muscle I don’t know if I completely agree with meno on this so I wanted to have a chat about this because I knew he’d have some further thoughts as you could only get so much out on like an Instagram reel right so we had a great disc back and forth and discourse surrounding that subject and then we dug into a little bit surrounding protein sparing modified fasting and mini cuts and what meno’s approach is when it comes to this and how fast can you really go in terms of losing body fat slash body weight before we start actually eating into our muscle mass so so it was a really really great chat here much more to enjoy during this episode and as a reminder guys this podcast only grows and we only get these amazing guests because people are interested in their listening so definitely be sure to share this with anyone you think might enjoy this give me a memo a tag over on Instagram take a screenshot let us know that you’re listening and as always make sure to be subscribed give us a comment give us a review we appreciate you so much so without further Ado let’s get into the chat thank you hi guys welcome back to the revive If your strength is stable while cutting, you’re losing muscle mass stronger podcast I’m your host as always Steve Hall and today I have menu henselman’s back on the show and to dig right into things menu you had uh I I don’t know if this is controversial or not

I don’t know if it was one of your more controversial posts but it was one I saw it was one of your reels it was like the the harsh reality of when your dieting was essentially if your strength is stable whilst cutting you are losing muscle mass and I think it took a number of people by like surprise and kind of I guess that was where you’re coming from like this is the harsh reality as far as you’re concerned and even for myself I was like I don’t know how much I completely agree with that so I wanted to bring you on and chat deeper about that because I’m sure it’s a little bit more nuanced than just like this black and white statement I mean you’re not exactly a black and white type of guy so I’d love to hear you kind of explain kind of your reasons for that and then maybe we can dig into a little bit yeah so the the short version just a 90 second real version is that strength is the sum of your morphological which is primarily size related adaptations so the body can literally change in structure and like I said it’s mostly the muscle getting bigger and therefore stronger and then there are neural adaptations and most strength developments is neural like if you do any type of study and you quantify the degree of adaptation what’s the biggest contributory Factor you see that strength is mostly a neural phenomena

It’s only when you extrapolate it to the super long term that it becomes more of a science thing like when you look at Power lifters that are most likely capped out in every aspect then you see well the only way to really get Bit Stronger at that point is you increase the size of the total engine and even then it’s it’s it’s a little bit unclear if it’s the increase within the individual or if it’s just a more genetically blessed individuals are stronger so that’s that’s I think it’s really good to keep in mind that you always have these two factors probably speaking and therefore when you’re dieting the neural factor in general so basically assumption number two is neural factors should always be positive so whenever you’re doing any type of movement there’s going to be an improvement in the coordination of that movement now it’s it can be small can be big if you’re doing a new exercise it’s going to be very big if you’re a novice it’s going to be super big if your first time in the gym I mean the first time you’re doing a squat is going to be a massive neural component because your body’s figuring out how to do it if you’ve been bench pressing for 10 years your PR hasn’t changed in a long long time the middle component is going to be teeny tiny at some point

I mean theoretically it can even become zero but you see that even in power lifters that have been training for years they are still making gains at the same body weight so the neural component is clearly trainable for a long long long time just very incrementally at a certain point so if you know that you’re dieting you’re losing weight your strength is stable and we assume that the neural component is positive then that must mean that the morphological component is negative and especially if weights also decreasing therefore it basically follows that if you’re not gaining any strength okay if you had incoming after this then you must be losing size because the morphology there’s a morphological loss that’s compensated for the neurological improvements I think where many people kind of become confused in that it’s what do you quantify as strength so what I have in mind with strength is essentially the sum of all of the lists in your program that’s like your total strength I think a lot of people think of it as like just that one exercise like oh my bench press hasn’t increased well if your bench press hasn’t increased and you’ve been training for 10 years with the bench press in your program the entirety of those 10 years then of course that doesn’t mean much that you’re a bench press is still the same even it might even have been the same do it for during most of your book

However if the total sum of all of that strength is actually not increasing so you’ve had some exercises presumably that you haven’t been doing for five years straight and if those are also oh none of them are increasing then yes I think the harsh reality is you are losing um size and I think also a lot of advanced individuals in general are you don’t want to accept the reality that when you are coming you are almost inevitably losing some size like if I cut to counter shape I am losing muscle for sure right um it’s impossible to me in fact I would argue that for anyone who is at their natural muscular potential or even enhanced potential but given a certain hormone dose you you will inherently lose some muscle when you lose a significant amount of fat because research finds that you can maintain more muscle at higher body fat percentages that’s where the finding comes from that the most muscular individuals on the planet are actually sumo wrestlers not bodybuilders and that seems to be the case because well when you have that enormous amount of fat you can also hold an enormous amount of muscle and even though the ratio is really poor evidently and sumo wrestlers versus bodybuilders the total amount of muscle is still better and they would not be able to maintain that it’s not like if a Sumo star cut down to count the same thing what’s you know crap on all the bodybuilders so

I think that’s basically the um the the message and yeah I do definitely believe that that a lot of people are a little bit too optimistic with their diets so they feel like oh I must be maintaining muscle if you’re maintaining strength then surely I’m maintaining my muscle mass probably not I think that’s really well explained because it those little bits of added Nuance there I think make quite a big difference for people where it’s like hey your level of skill with that movement is going to have a big kind of impact on this like you said it’s hard enough sometimes if you’ve been hack squatting for six months in a off season with everything going right to hit a PR like over that time like you’re still doing well as someone who’s been training for a decade so during a diet that might Plateau whereas there might be some stuff that you rotate in and out now and then where you are able to see these kind of neural adaptations so kind of that strength component is that combination of size of the muscle and skill of the lifter so if they’re less skilled and their muscle is maintaining they should still be kind of gaining skill during that kind of Diet
Risk of muscle loss, how likely is it phase which I think makes a lot of sense and is it’s also interesting to hear about kind of this is a question that I’ve had and I didn’t know how much research that was really on it in terms of kind of the risk of muscle loss and

How likely is it is it for you to lose muscle so it seems like you think particularly as you’re getting kind of exotically lean the risk of muscle loss just increases quite heavily is that right yeah so there’s been a meta-analysis relatively recently that looked at the effect of energy deficit and weight loss on strength and muscle growth and they found that strength development is actually not significantly affected at least not in the short term which really proves the point that most strength adaptation is neural and the fact that you are getting strength does not actually mean you’re getting muscle let alone the strength is stable right and there’s a big chance that there is muscle loss again strength being defined as the sum of all lifts and I think part of the confusion is that people tend to or like to think of their strengths as their PR strength and that is that is very iffy because strength is because it’s so normal it’s very movement specific so you can be in in I think most people will think of powerlifting strength as being strength whereas in reality that just means you’re good at the power lifts and you might be horrible with the double bench press for example even though your barbell bench press is really good of course they correlate to some degree it’s very movement specific and especially for bodybuilding purposes and well anyone that’s not a power lesser really yeah I think it’s more factual to look at your overall set of exercises rather than specifically the power limits

because you can really tweak that ratio and do one RMS and keep the power lifts in all the time and then that’s going to kind of inflate your power lifting strength relative to the other exercises but it doesn’t mean that your overall progress is necessarily good just because the power lifts are improving mostly via presumably neural mechanisms yeah I think that makes a lot of sense
Does leverage change impact the strength much and um that’s something that I think people also had question of is obviously the longer you diet the more body fat you’re losing kind of the smaller you can end up being maybe you lose like some padding off your glutes and now your range of motion on like your bench presses maybe increased by a few centimeters how much do you think kind of Leverage change could play a role here where people maybe sometimes I look at maybe like a Wilkes point because that like is a body weight relational to kind of how much you’re lifting maybe your Wilkes have maintained but not your kind of overall lifts is there anything there that you think is valid or do you think that’s people coping it’s obviously relevant so if you’re like ibf score or your work score is is improving and it should I think powerlifters that’s another thing Powers should compete if they really care about being competitive rather than their absolute strength and again I think people really overvalue the absolute numbers at the expense of their actual competitiveness because they aim for the absolutes instead of their ipf slash Wilkes score and you see that most people on their diet they should experience a significant increase in work score in fact

I would argue that for most power if there’s the easiest way for them to become more competitive is to die down to a very low body fat level because your strength to body weight ratio which is what matters in the Anton stage will improve dramatically but I think partners are often very reluctant to do that because they as soon as they experience any decrease in their absolute strength level they freak out and it’s like oh no no this is bad this cannot be good whereas in reality when you lose a little bit of strength which you’ve lost 10 kilos of body weights you can drop down a whole weight class or two then it’s most likely going to be very very good for you and there’s a lot of research to support that now by the way I realized I didn’t answer the other part of your question about the likelihood of muscle loss in energy deficit in general like I said for highly Advanced individuals meaning like truly truly Advance not like you’ve been reading a lot of stuff on the internet and your you bench press two blades like truly Advanced individuals that are in really near their maximum genetic uh potential I think muscle loss is literally inevitable I think it would the likelihood of muscle loss decreases dramatically As you move further away from the genetic Minds in fact maybe even when you are a little bit less advantage of 95 90 of your max you can only maintain muscle mass because maintenance of muscle mass is really easy compared to gaining it it’s like generally speaking and research

if you look employing required to maintain versus to gain you’re looking at like a third or less even and in Novus individuals and even intermediates we see in most research that recomposition is possible also in most of my clients I see positive body recomposition that’s because most of them are not like 10-year experienced power decision bodybuilders anyone that’s just even if they have been training for 10 years which is very common but they haven’t been making the best gains so they’re not at you know 95 of their genetic um presumable limits then you you can often make very good results in terms of body recomposition and that same math analysis I referenced earlier found that it takes about a 500 calorie deficit in mostly intermediate level lifters to make muscle loss very difficult then it’s usually just maintained and obviously the likelihood of recomposition increases a lot when your program is better if your nutrition is dialed in your diet’s all over the Sleep stress everything all the little factors your micronutrients all of these things when you manage everything really well it’s much much more feasible to reconc for novice intermediate lifters and sometimes even in studies competitors just because they are competitors does not necessarily mean they’re actually close to their genetic Max because some people are really good genetics and especially more bikini competitors and stuff they’re not necessarily there yet these are body builders also some people just compete when they are not very competitive so um even competitors sometimes we see in research including a study from this year actually that people recall that’s kind of crazy I knew like thinking about the risk of muscle loss

I’ve always thought of it as relational to body fat and that’s the main thing and like the size of deficit that you’re running and obviously everything else that goes into that like sleep and optimal nutrient timing all of those variables and I hadn’t really thought about the level of advancement playing a role but it makes sense to me just thinking about it now the more novice you are the more likely you could gain muscle during a deficit so the more advanced you are the less likely you’re going to do that and the more risk that you’re losing muscle I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about it that way like you’ve just described it yeah I think you you nailed it on the two big factors like body fat level and deficits are I think the big ones but the first one I would name is the feasibility of muscle growth in general because as you say anything that influences muscle growth is also going to influence muscle retention and then on the uh the Wilk score slash leverage change do you think so if someone’s losing numbers on their bench press or not gaining them maybe it’s stable is it a case of potentially it’s that leverage influence and it’s not a muscle loss Factor

do you think there’s a heck is there a way of deciphering that or do you think that is a fact to consider yeah that’s a very good question uh it does seem that strength changes in energy deficit or a fat gain um so with either energy balance or change in in body fat even when there’s not a lot of change in muscle mass and it’s unlikely that that’s explained by neural mechanism so basically when people are bulking um they gain strength easier and in general people at high body fat levels even when they’re muscle mass is well maybe not much higher at least it seems to have a relatively big effect on their strength and I’m not sure what explains that I think one factor might be recovery because most of the time when we are in the gym we’re not fully recovered like we’re not peaked and if you are essentially if you’re in a bigger energy Surplus for example your volume is not close to your mrv then you’re kind of continuously at your HR peak level it’s like you’ve done a taper and most of the time when we are pushing more close to our mrv we are there’s some level of fatigue that’s suppressing our strength I think that might be a factor the actual leverage argument I’ve heard it a lot but I struggle to make a lot of sense of it because it takes it takes very high body fat levels to like biomechanically affect your leverage in the squats

especially if you bench press like I mean you’re talking about there literally has to be um like the force from the fats or the compression of the the joints right it takes it takes a lot of fat to to make it so that just the amount of fat is making your arm Flex less easily it’s not like you gain two kilos and your that happens so yeah I I hear the loss when people say like yeah your Leverage is better you get cushioning from the fat around the joints or whatever um I don’t know if that makes a lot of biochemical sense I think most of it’s probably muscle growth like when people get to higher body fat levels they also have higher muscle mass levels and they probably underestimate that effect and especially they overestimate their muscle retention especially in like super high level competitive power lifters so I would say that that is probably based on the current literature that’s the most in line with what we actually have date on there is most likely an effect of recovery of the energy as possible generally being better recovered when bulking versus when cutting maybe also psychological effects and then maybe maybe some leverage effect but I I kind of struggle to see it like I like the theory kind of it seems intuitively possible in a way but I don’t think when you really think about it in

biolent chemical terms it makes a lot of sense is there anything to I’m thinking the place where maybe you lose the most is going to be around the waist your waist becomes smaller I’ve had like weightlifting belts and I’m like man I can’t even fit in this weightlifting belt anymore it doesn’t go any smaller I need more holes that kind of your core is now not as stable do you think that could impact some of the like I don’t know an RDL or a squat where you’re kind of more impacted by that could that influence it more do you think I mean we’re still we’ve been talking about a lot of mass and fat Mass like why would it inherently make you more stable I mean it’s maybe it’s it’s centralizes your um your mass more but it would be such a tiny effect much smaller than what we see in practice yeah you did mention kind of being under a covered so like that kind of a cumulative fatigue from the diet or you’re going into sessions especially at the end of prep you’re just glycogen depleted could you put that down to an
Recovery as a culprit of muscle loss and performance as the biggest indicator of muscle loss argument of like short-term strength losses where you’re not maybe losing muscle in that situation where it’s just like you can’t perform kind of what you’re talking about there yeah I think most of it’s even just normal

Oscar we know for example that most lifters are essentially continuously in the state of Edema and muscle damage that’s also why when you stop Lifting for even a few days you kind of look deflated and flat sometimes and that’s mostly just water glycogen and the fact that muscles are no longer swollen which which causes the water retention you get that that full look especially in the days after a workout which is mostly swelling and if you work out frequently with say at your mrv then you are pretty much uh permanently swollen and well that’s not a problem actually because it you know in the enterfield gaining muscle um but yeah you you can um be in a higher or lower state of kind of permanent fatigue as a result of that yeah that makes so much sense I guess my final question on this would be so when you’re taking clients through maybe even a contest prep say at the start and then towards the end and you’re looking at their gym performance and your rate of loss is there anything at the start of a prep are you kind of looking for them again to be increasing strength particularly on newer movements is there a point where you’re like uh like I don’t know a plateau of strength for a certain period of time or even some performance losses that you make any manipulations does that question make sense yeah I always look at performance in in general in my program design performance is the number one Criterion

I look at for everything so a lot of people both my clients they they’re kind of confused about my program design because they for example they’ve been doing something for four weeks and they’re like isn’t it time to switch things up and always say well don’t fix it if it isn’t broken you’re making great progress you’re recomping gaining strength linearly pretty much across the board I mean I could change some things but it’s unlikely to make anything better so better is we just keep collecting data and we progress exactly as we are and the plateaus will come unfortunately I can guarantee that and then we start switching things up and as soon as things start plateauing especially for bodybuilding purposes I think in a relatively short term you want to make changes even if it’s just mental because in compass prep in some competitors where you feel like sometimes I think well muscle loss is inevitable pretty much and what we’re doing now is kind of window dressing but psychologically it’s kind of a big effect that you you are progressing and that there is Progressive overload as opposed to just grinding away against that same you know 100 times nine 100 times nine and you know that it’s going to be 100 times 8 soon and then seven it’s really mentally draining whereas you just switch to a new exercise then and you see the progression again it at least feels a lot better yeah I I agree uh I can say when I competed in 2017 I was changing exercises every like five weeks after my deload I just like changed them I think that actually bit me in the ass because I think I was I thought oh I’m making I was just making neurological adaptations but I wasn’t truly like training as hard as I think I should have so I’ve kind of been like hey I agree with you that you don’t want to just keep grinding away at it and you’re like oh geez I’ve dropped like two three reps on this lift now like I just I would rotate it for sure at that point but I think there’s also this Middle Ground where you said you don’t want to change stuff too readily because you like you wanna it’s hard enough to train with a kind of calorie deficit and in contest prep anyway but if you have like numbers you’re trying to hold on to for a period of time that can be quite like good to keep you working hard enough in the gym does that make sense yeah definitely I think rotating exercise should generally be a last resort especially if it’s for the bigger lifts that serves the benchmarks like lateral race cable lateral lace I don’t care about it’s like yeah as a benchmark it’s useless you know but squats bench press those kind of lifts I I like to keep them in as long as possible it’s it’s only in those scenarios where I know that muscle loss is basically inevitable super Advanced competitor going in deep stages of crap and you can already see it starting to stagnate then

I’m like okay let’s switch it out because we know what’s going to happen there’s no needs to actually undergo it to to verify it in this case but most for most people listening it’s definitely the case that I think they should keep exercises in more than they do and look at more long-term progression and look at their actual data make sure that you have these kind of Benchmark lifts in your program as much as possible so that you can see what the the long-term trends are and I’m sure you can switch out the the accessory and isolation exercises a lot more but try to keep those extra big exercises in there and also across bulk and cut phases if you see that your your squat kind of goes up and down patterns but every new book you had a new PR that’s a great sign and if you don’t have those data it becomes a lot more difficult to verify whether you’re actually long term making ads

yeah no I see that too and another issue I was just going to say if you keep in lifts and you are trying to hold those numbers sometimes you end up digging yourself into this just fatigue hole because you get so psychologically like ramped up or you change your Technique you may be injure yourself it’s like hey you would have just been better rotating out that hack squat for I don’t know a leg press or something that you have been doing where you can kind of slowly build that back up so I think that’s where the art of coaching like you were kind of talking about here makes sense like if we see you’re communicating to your lifter and they kind of understand that you understand where they’re at with things yeah definitely what the the fatigue by the way is something I’ve been thinking about a lot especially since my back injury and switch kind of away from strength training and more towards bodybuilding plus kickboxing it’s the enormous fatigue that squats and deadlifts specifically impose upon somebody and I don’t know what exactly causes it it’s purely in part is muscle mass but it seems to be or disproportional to even the amount of muscle mass involved if I think of how long it takes most people to do five sets of heavy squats compared to how many other steps of exercise you can do in that time frame it’s it’s really a disproportionate amount of fatigue and I suspect it’s the isometric loading of the back maybe combined with the compression compressive Force because there’s there doesn’t seem to be anything that doesn’t have that compressive force that results in that amount of fatigue and I don’t know if it’s the just the sheer kind of Terror of the heavy weight on your back and knowing it’s injurious plus coordinating all of that muscle mass and doing a relatively technical exercise plus the kind of cardiorespiratory stimulus but even if you look at all those factors you do for example High ref Bulgarian split squats also absolutely terrifying but not not as much as say 20 rep Widowmaker squats leg press not not even blocks so I think there is something to the spinal loading element that really makes it um particularly draining mentally I guess maybe is that where especially in a dieting phase you’d either consider rotating those out or I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this where you like pre-fatigue so you go into those lifts you’re using less load on the back I know a lot of bodybuilders like doing that sort of thing yeah you you could um and interesting I think pre-fatiging is also um I don’t do it that much because I am a proponent of maximizing total work output so exercise selection in a way that you maximize the total workup of the the um the training session and any even if a five percent decrease in deadlift or squat volume and because the total work output is so hyper rep in a spot where the lift man actually has a big impact

so if you basically fatigue the legs too much for example and during a deadlift that makes the entire rest of the posterior chain not mean as much of a limiting factor then it would be kind of a loss um I don’t know if it also makes it much easier mentally um I have actually tried doing for example curls before squats and deadlifts and interestingly that seems to be kind of free um free time use because curls have zero impacts on my squads and deadlifts and if I do them beforehand they also result in essentially zero fatigue mentally and then I do a squash later and I’m destroyed so after that everything goes slower yeah I’ve actually been experimenting a little bit with doing more of the other exercises with four spots on that list I think it might be more time effective but it’s a it’s a subtle balance because like I said as soon as you start hurting your deadlift you can shoot its curls and you know tricep to work then the risk rewards quickly becomes negative
Exercise order and its impact on performance yeah I see what you’re saying and I have experience myself as well where especially if you have that lift first it’s just like everything after that for the whole session like when you get to I’ve been doing carves first in like my sessions it does impact my squat work at all and if anything allows me to get more depth and it’s like wow I actually get to properly train my calves now whereas at the end of workouts I was always like even like my knees would just struggle to maintain a straight position because my quad was fatigued it’s like man this just makes so much sense to put it first yeah okay that’s also interesting do you find that graph work fatigues your sponsored lifts not really no yeah for me also it’s a marginal effect hamstrings I can also train for squats no effect sometimes even Improvement like subjectively not actually objectively in terms of performance um so yeah that’s interesting that uh some muscles you can actually take a lot more than we tend to think and in general with exercise ordering I think people are farkly rigid and they lose a lot of time because they are really forcing their one exercise rest interval one more set rest interval one more set and then it takes like 15 minutes per exercise whereas in reality you can mix exercises that are that we think are too related like biceps girls and shoulder pulls for example or Facebooks so yes there is biceps involvement in flies and Facebooks and the like but you can mix that with flies or curls I mean and it’s really not going to affect your whole workout but significantly unless you do them right after each other Maybe yeah yeah I think that makes sense because a lot of people are they’re following programs they’re like hey what if the thing I wanted to do first isn’t free can I do this it’s like unless you mentioned yeah some things you can like like carves you can pretty much put them anywhere I found for a lot of people dealts a lot of the time they can go anywhere but yeah you wouldn’t want to do I don’t know your rdls if your squats were meant to be first and quads are a priority for you now that’s going to have an impact so I think that flexibility discussion is important because yeah people will like you said hang around fly consider this session takes three hours but in reality it could have taken half an hour yeah and I also um what I also like about experimenting like this is that I think that the acute neuromuscular fatigue is probably one of the best measures we have of how much an exercise trains the muscle for example a lot of people I think were under the impression that hip Frost basically don’t train the quads at all and I think they really do in effect in a recent study I’ll get first versus squats we saw that the growth in the quartz is about half of that of the goods which is substantial it’s the same uh growth that the biceps get in a row roughly speaking Yeah so that’s clearly something that counts and I mean a lot of people it varies but well I for example really feel that quads when I hear for us and obviously it depends the closer you put the um your ankles to your butt the more you get uh squat like squat like pattern and you’re evolved once more whereas if you put the ankles far away and it becomes more of a straight leg kind of hip extension you activate the hamstrings more but for the standard vertical uh tibia type I trust there is very significant quality involvement and you can notice that if you do lag extensions after your hip runs for example so I’ve experimented a lot with both and there is a very significant decrease in my leg extension performance if I do hit press before that I think that if you see patterns like that it’s actually a really good indication of which muscles are truly the limiting factor for example with shoulder pose and you can do biceps curls no effect on performance you know okay that’s basically a trivial stimulus for the biceps and given that we don’t have a whole lot of studies on which muscles are actually worth the most by certain exercises we have my own mechanics to go on but in terms of practical experience I think the acute fatigue is one of the best things to go by and interestingly I don’t think a lot of people use that information no something I I haven’t really heard
Rep drop-offs from set to set that being spoken about but it makes a lot of sense but something I think I have heard you speak about which seems similar is that kind of a set to set rep drop-off from an exercise where if you’re seeing quite big rep drop-offs you’re probably creating a lot of fatigue and hopefully local fatigue especially if it’s an isolation based movement you can almost guarantee it within that muscle and it’ll probably also indicate I think you said that like the volume tolerance therefore like you don’t need much more volume there if you’re creating if you’re seeing that big of a performance drop-off set to set yeah I still like doing that going by work capacity or as researchers call it the fatigue index to see how much your reps drop off and you can think of it in two ways one it actually measures the amount of neuromuscular fatigue so at a certain point you know the risk reward or the stimulus fatigue becomes really important and even if you would question okay is it true that if I’m fatigued the stimulus becomes less well there’s also research that muscle activity decreases but also if you simply think I’m on biomechanical basis if you are doing sets of two reps at a certain point that’s simply not a lot of tension you’re still imposing on the muscle so you’re literally just not accumulating a lot of um stimulus in that sense also biomechanically speaking do you not see the progress you would like are you sick of writing your own programs or perhaps you need some accountability in order to stick with a plan then it’s time to start working with us we at revive stronger offer a truly personalized coaching service you’ll get more than just an email with some macros or random cookie cutter program with revive stronger you will be the center of our attention you will receive your own fully individualized training protocol alongside a customized nutritional strategy we create the coaching around your needs wants personal preferences and your own unique lifestyle every single week we delve into your program in order to make appropriate adjustments so that we get the most out of your time and the best possible outcome we help both female and male athletes too seriously change their body composition by adding more muscle mass and decreasing fat tissue no matter if your competitive bodybuilder or just want to look better if you need help with your progress and taking your physique to the next level our coaching is for you it’s time to make a change sign up today and let’s revive stronger yeah no that makes sense and with that have you found um that in higher rep sets you see a bigger rep drop off like I found on my lower rep sets quite often I maybe drop two between and I’m staying at a similar kind of proximity to failure whereas my high rep stuff it might seem like a four reps drop off and then it is like two two I don’t know why that happens but I’ve just noticed it time and time again yeah I think that that is um like a reality of things that uh High rep work and lower intensity training in general induces more neuromuscular fatigue it’s a super contour and limited thing but very reliably observed in research and you can also observe it yourself also mentally like uh you know yes a free RM and a squat is heavy very mentally draining but uh 15 of them is a whole different ball game so it makes sense for for two reasons one is that when you do a set of 15 RM by the end of the set you’re so fatigued you cannot lift your 15 RM anymore if you’re going to failure it’s objectively more fatigued than not being able to lift your free around anymore and also again biomechanically the total work output is a lot higher and we know the total work output is also quite strongly correlated with total amount of fatigue we also need an endurance training research for example so I think it makes a lot of sense that Highway work is very counterintuitive but actually very sensible High graph work is more fatiguing than low rep work yeah I think it’s that’s definitely something I’ve seen kind of said and in somewhere like I I don’t know like with some lifts it definitely feels that way actually no I guess it does feel the way it’s just some lifts it’s impractical to lift Low Reps like you can’t lift low like below 10 reps on like a leg extension I don’t know how practical lateral raise it starts to become a little bit like not like not something you can do but if you consider I guess 10 to 20 versus 20 to 30 on a leg extension yeah that 20 to 30 starts to sound pretty fatiguing yeah and I think a lot of people also they they don’t go to failure on the third trm stuff because they might go to failing on the HRM stuff in part because it is more fatiguing they don’t go to failure on the higher rep stuff but sometimes you can really see if you haven’t done it you really have to push yourself to a new level because there’s that rep where normally you would feel like that is probably the last one and then you can just keep grinding for like 10 reps more yeah especially on a leg extension you’re just getting to like the burn territory and it’s like yeah maybe there’s 10 more reps whilst it’s burning like this is gonna be hell uh is there anything to I guess with the heavier loads there it’s more axial loading
Axial loading and overall fatigue maybe at that point so you could argue hey what if we’re using lighter loads we’re getting less of that axial fatigue do you think that plays into it at all maybe um because in between Reps for a squad for example you still have to wait on your back but generally speaking for like to connect these issues at least for like joint health High Reps are a lot easier on the joints than on lower legs like kind of locally at least we very clearly see that there’s a lot less pain and people that are injured they can often do an exercise with for High Reps without pain but at a certain training intensity certain load it becomes painful so I don’t know if that makes a difference with like subjective fatigue yeah I guess it’s that like yeah like you said it’s the jointed ligament fatigue versus like the neuromuscular fatigue and I guess I’m pretty sure your perspective is use a wide range of rep ranges because I know some people are like hey High Reps are very fatiguing so just do Low Reps it’s like hey like there’s benefits to using a combination here yeah I would also I would almost always recommend a combination I think especially joint health is super undervalued because a lot of people basically any lifter runs into injuries at a certain point except the most genetically blessed individuals um most people they they will run into injuries than the Napa fee and stuff and they will take that as a sign that that volume is too much and that volume is only too much with the current configuration of your program right now it might be a result of your nutrition your training your lifestyle and in particular your exercise selection and effects exercise selection and in training intensity of a huge effect because for me for example if you give me heavy squats in bench presses and you’re going to do those decent frequency decent volume I’m going to get elbow and knee injuries really quickly and you can probably quadruple that volume if you have me do a lot of cable work a lot of different exercises for all High Reps and yes there is more neuromuscular fatigue but I can still handle a lot more total volume because the neuromuscular fatigue I think is much less of a true limiting factor for most individuals than first of all just mental total capacity for volume and probably secondly injury um like injury um mrv if you will and unfortably is the truly the neuromuscular system for most individuals the limiting factor yeah that makes sense and on that note something that’s just cropped into my head I don’t know if it’s ever been looked into is like the length of time you spend in The Eccentric uh obviously
Time under tension and eccentric training the slower eccentric you do the less loads you’re going to be able to do for the certain number of reps is there any like data looking into using different eccentric speeds and trying to like maximize a stimulus to fatigue ratio for muscle growth it usually doesn’t matter any more studies so that would mean that you and these have this variable to play with in terms of stimulus to fatigue because even if muscle growth isn’t directly affected it might be the case that you can handle more volume if you do your eccentrics a little bit more slowly there is one study by the Brazilians from career at all that found a trends for greater benefits with two versus one seconds during curls if I remember correctly and that basically just means don’t let the weight free fall like you you actually have to control it I think there’s pretty much consensus about that other than that The Eccentric duration doesn’t seem to affect a whole lot you do fewer reps slower review more reps faster whatever impacts the stimulus to fatigue ratio I do think it impacts it for the connective tissues I wouldn’t really call that fatigue by the way like it’s more damaged or wear and tear degradation official um yeah a lot of people do call us fatigue so it probably makes the exercise less injurious to do them a bit more controlled and slowly in rehab circles eccentrics are super popular even eccentric only training there’s not a lot of good research truly establishing that it is superior but anecdotally based on how popular it is and how well tolerated it is by individuals I do think it’s a bit less injurious in general to control your weights more and The Eccentric is the best part to do that because if you do it on the concentric you sacrifice a lot of strength gains and also be long-term even some muscle growth research on that is most research doesn’t Define short-term effects but the effects on strength are very noticeable of slow reps there was a recent meta-analysis that confirmed this again so yeah The Eccentric and bosses as well would be the places to incorporate this and yeah I would say that it’s better on the in terms of injury tolerance to control the weights more that makes a lot of sense to me and I know I think I’ve a number of physios I’ve spoken to like in this space like they recommend like when you are injured to slow The Eccentric pause even I have done that on hack squats where it was actually in prep I ended up causing my knee like a bit of a a tweak because probably I was trying to hold on to loads and I just let my eccentrics get too fast so I was like hey I’ll keep hacks in but I’ll just let the tempo I’ll slow it down by a couple of seconds and pause in the hole it’s like hey Presto that’s that’s now fine is there a certain amount of eccentric that is too slow and in addition to that do you have like a preferred Tempo that you do prescribe a temple do you give like a recommendation to your clients generally I use just control eccentric explosive concentric and I typically recommend like split second boss to ensure that you do get that full-based motion and really also you decelerate the weights which kind of emphasizes The Eccentric because a few few bounce basically you don’t fully decelerate until you accelerate then you’re kind of under stimulating The Eccentric and we know that the eccentric is more stimulating especially at longer muscle lights than the concentric in large part simply because you’re doing um you’re capable of doing more work like muscles are stronger you can produce more Force more tension during The Eccentric phase and the concentric phase so um yeah this is my general Temple recommendation I think we’ll do that is a really good application of using Advanced programming to increase your mrv essentially and not just accept that or or think that oh I cannot sustain this volume because I got injured like you can’t sustain the volume if you modify your program intelligently that’s exactly what we talked about and in those cases if it can make sense the big problem with slowed eccentrics is tracking progress so if you do it for a standard um like your your primary squats bench press and stuff are you really progressing in strength or are you just not slowing down The Eccentric as much and that’s I think monitoring progress for for my methods is super important because progress determines all the modifications I do for the program so that’s actually a big deal even if theoretically it doesn’t influence muscle growth it does influence your ability to Monitor and adapt your program super slow eccentrics might become detrimental but you would have to go like insanely slow like for the concentric it’s very clear it is the case I think the 10 second reps were in red Sean feldspath or Greek meta-analysis they were a bit versatile so for hypertrophy also it just becomes really difficult to truly train to failure when you’re doing like 10 second repetitions um but I think it’s the concentric Only The Eccentric is never really going to be the problem in that regard I think I think that’s really well explained and the point you made about kind of standardizing that eccentrics like if you try and go slow and then maybe you speed up as you’re getting closer to failure or as you’re trying to progress things that’s something I’ve ran into time and time again and I found actually it’s really interesting I was just uh squatting on a different hack squat this past weekend and I was like Hey maintain your like four or five second eccentric on this one’s easy my hack squat if I try and maintain that it’s just it’s much more vertical there’s way less uh kind of friction within the machine so it’s just like if I try and maintain that when I try and go to failure like I know I’m just I end up speeding up by like two seconds when I’m really fighting not to whereas this one it wasn’t so I found like you can’t just have this standardized recommendation and I like your kind of general rule of just like make sure you control the weight down nice and steadily rather than like strict ones because it at least from what I gather can differ a bit person to person if you go too slow then yeah quite like easily you end up ramping up that eccentric Speed without you kind of noticing necessarily yeah definitely and also for exercise not just for individual but also for exercise lend themselves quite well to slow eccentrics but try leg extensions again top part it’s almost impossible that when you reach the top the weight just kind of falls down yeah it’s super difficult to really control that that first part usually it’s kind of drops down the first part and then you can control it a bit but it almost never will be a truly controlled like linear decrease from top to bottom yeah no I’ve definitely I agree and I think your note on standardization is is important as well because yeah it’s just something that people don’t think about and they end up like hey I had this Split Second pause and now like I’m bouncing out of the hole or whatever it might be so that makes tons of sense in terms of standardization actually I wasn’t uh this was in a direction I was intending to go but it’s a question that comes up now and then is rest times I think we
Rest times between sets might have spoken about it before and I think you are actually in favor of trying to standardize rest times you don’t just kind of Auto regulate those a lot of people um actually tends to be my recommendation is like hey go when that Target muscle is going to be the limiting factor you feel you can perform well obviously that doesn’t want to be taken to ludicrous extremes but that tends to be my recommendation so like week one and on a hack squat it might be two three minutes but by the time you’re in like week five you’re training to failure maybe and you’re all out volumes it might go up to like I don’t know a five minute rest time is that something what what are your kind of recommendations there I do also like to also regulate even though I’ve noticed like the data Guy this is an area where I feel that um going by heart numbers I should actually very difficult and possibly even cultural productive in the first review that I did together with Brad schoenfeld on Western defaults where we challenged the traditional idea that short short resting Falls are better photography and the research actually kind of pointed in the other direction which we now know is true longer rest and false improved muscle growth by virtue of allowing you to do more work I think what’s your question what are your recommendations to rest times yeah so based on that research we actually we posited that you could probably just Auto regulate your rest intervals because there wasn’t one study at the time which found that most people do it quite well and they intuitively um get a much higher work output than if they um set at least I think it was two minutes pressing defaults or something which is not super short but also pretty common or used subsequent research showed that people rest a bit too long when they also regulates and I think that’s that’s very true if you really wants you can cut 10 minutes out of most of your chest probably and get the same work done but it’s more effortful and the excess of rusting becomes a little bit worse throughout the session at the end of the session when you’re fatigued people start to excessively rest bits too much or extra too much if you will and I think that that’s also very very um you could see it in yourself very well uh anyone that that happens um but that aside it’s only really a problem of fusing a little bit too much time so it’s a little bit time inefficient but it still works super well for muscle birth defense strength development purposes people tend to have a pretty good idea of how well rested they are and their Readiness to perform is a pretty good marker of how well they can actually perform you could use heart rate that’s also been used but I mean then you have to check track your heart rate and also you have to kind of find your own Benchmark because different individuals have very different recoveries of their heart rate which also depends a lot on your cardiovascular fitness rather than your just muscle mass and stuff so it just becomes needlessly complicated and also regulation is Works quite well automatically takes care of the the sex difference for example that women typically don’t need nearly as much rest as men and they also intuitively don’t rest nearly as much and strength level where more advanced lifters need more rest typically because they can basically fatigue themselves more per shot than more nervous lifters and those lifters you can find them enthusiastically bouncing around the gym and more hardcore lifters that get more advanced lifters at least after a heavy set of squats they they have to sit down and be like yeah okay five minutes before the next one so it makes a lot of sense that just also regulation in this aspect just works very well that makes so much sense to me and the the way I always came at it as well I’m glad I don’t know where I got that you weren’t that way I think maybe the you like your standardization which I think a lot of practitioners do and I think it makes sense but here it was like hey this is standardization for the sake of standardization that might take away from stimulus like what we’re trying to drive is stimulus to the muscle not just hey you did you rest two minutes if you’re now like causing a cardiovascular adaptation because your breathing’s limiting you not the quads that’s now not what we’re in here for so that makes tons of sense and also what you said in terms of people taking maybe a bit too much particularly towards the end of the session but like you said it’s just if people are like hey I’m taking too long in the gym maybe then they time it and then also question themselves am I ready to go and that’s like the best of both if they’ve got a time limit but otherwise if you’ve got plenty of time in the gym there’s no worries there which is cool yeah even for saving time I feel that it’s more important to just be strict with yourself and kind of push that limits of where normally you feel ready for maximal performance again you kind of push that down to almost ready for maximum performance and there are two Studies by uh the suicide all that find that if you do that gradually you can improve your work capacity to the extent that you can actually have far shorter rest intervals and still the same total workout obviously there is a limit to this it’s not like you can do every squats one minute rest because you’re super well conditions but I can also say that now with kickboxing my conditioning is so much better that I can basically Bounce from one exercise to the next while just barely catching my breath or not even fully catching my breath I’m basically high heart rate High breathing rate the whole session as long as I don’t do squats or that lifts or an exercise like that as long as it’s only isolation work and you know not um like lap players is fine rows are fine bench press is fine when it comes to like split squats squats that lifts then yeah it’s uh I do need a lot more rest yeah is that uh your right eye that’s slightly bruised right is that am I right in saying that or is it not just yeah one of them yeah that one it looked like it maybe was slightly swollen from kickboxing is that uh I don’t know if we got time for this hopefully we have it actually Loops back around to the start question where we’re
Rate of loss during a cut, how fast can we lose fat? talking about kind of losing strength and that or rather not gaining strength and maybe losing muscle mass and talking about rate of loss because you also had a post on protein modified sparing fasts and you had like an equation how to work out your calories and this brought about just a question to me of like how fast can we lose fat like various times we kind of talked about obviously having your kind of stuff in check in terms of nutrition sleep and all of that obviously body fat as well and then you mentioned level of advancement I don’t know if there’s a Time component to this as well but how did you kind of come to the kind of maybe calorie equation that you came to in that and then is that specific for protein modified sparing fast and yeah I’m kind of interested in how you come to like your chosen rate of loss for an individual yeah so I mean those those are definitely that’s a simplified model in general the most important thing to know is that the higher your body fat level the less likelihood of your lower the likelihood of muscle loss and therefore the bigger you can push the energy deficit so you higher your body fat level the more aggressively you can diet that’s well established now I think and the difference is massive in counter spread we see that any excessive deficit will very quickly result in muscle loss in obese individuals there is now good evidence including I think even two meta-analyzes that finds that the rate of weight loss has no effect on muscle loss so these individuals can basically just lose fat as quickly as as they can the only constraint is what practically they can they can do and then as they get to help your body fat levels that’s going to um be a lower rate of fat loss that they can sustain you know that when they get to overweight healthy body fat levels then you do have to pay attention to the actual energy deficit there is such a thing as too much but it’s still it’s still big like research and think Miro at home looked at overweight individuals and they compared like 40 versus 50 energy deficit and they found it the 50 was definitely pushing it but I mean it’s 50 deficit and if we compare that in a recent study found that in relatively lean strength trained women uh also doing concurrent exercise they compare account unintentionally but 20 versus 50 deficit I think it was and uh 20 was a lot better even just for one week one week diet the 50 energy deficit already results in muscle loss and really bad effects of hormonal health and performance and stuff so when you get to basically level where you can see some apps especially in men then you need to be a lot more careful and even short-term diets like psmf diet um you would have to do it for a matter of days like the mini cut would be truly mini um in the sense of not two weeks which is kind of the commons Islamic Donald popularized bsmf approach two weeks is way too long I think for most uh lean lifters so I typically go by like in the post I say just as a super rough measure if you see any apps at all like any app definition then you need to limit it to two percent of body weight loss which can often be just a few days for most individuals because the way it’s going to come flying off and basically as soon as you you get the first Bush and a little bit more fat loss you pretty much have to stop it and you have to go to something more conservative and if you don’t know amp definition at all or for women you have to really think of um either just think of it as 25 body fat ish that the the cutoff points roughly or like any any app definition in favorable lighting with um with belly dancing movements whatever that um you see something because women often especially for the adult training app they don’t have like the six-pack that men have um but yeah 25 roughly is going to be that cut off point where you even even psmf would have to be um just a few days rather than a week or two weeks so that’s the most important thing just really slowing it down as you get leaner and as for the exact numbers I like to do even for both experiment modified fast I found just by looking at a lot of client meal plans that’s 8.3 times protein uh to find out that’s that’s the kind of two thresholds that worked quite neatly maybe due to the inherence ratios of protein to calories that you see in chicken and some white fish and those kind of foods that you come lead 8.3 times protein seems to be the point where it’s just impossible to make meal plans thus are not absolutely brutal Mass malnourishing so that’s in any scenario I consider the minimum and then 9.7 times or if you just want to make it easy 10 times protein is basically the point where I think for a lot of people it already becomes very difficult and you really have to sacrifice you you have to go down to just the super early protein sources plus veggies so that’s more for especially psmf4 um individuals with that are already very in or people that in general don’t want to just be absolutely miserable during the psmf and then most researchers would severely call that a psmf anymore because you’re you might still be at 100 or 15 calories for a guy um whereas most researchers even are happy to recommend 600 to 800 calories during a bsmf diet but yeah I do think that even during the PS math diet even if it’s only one week or something um you want that minimum level of vegetables micronutrients protein essential fatty acids yeah that makes sense and yeah that’s where I was kind of coming from with uh with the aggressiveness of the diet you have to take into consideration the time component because if it’s super aggressive and you’re already in like I don’t know all these other factors like you said you’re lean and more advanced maybe these sort of factors you’re going to have to do it for a very very constrained period of time um is it just brings me a question there’s I don’t know if you’ve seen that it’s called an Alpert paper I haven’t read it it was a limit on the energy transfer from the human fat store to hypophagia and I’ve heard a few people it’s not new at all no no it’s been around a while um but it kind of tried to give a number calorie number I think it was 22 or it might have been changed to 30. it’s in around this number of calories per day of body fat was the fastest the fat could be liberated so it’s like you can’t go faster than that does that have any like is that something you take into consideration is that anything that plays a role here I remember looking at this a while ago I don’t remember what the um like the morphological limitations were but my conclusion from that was that in practice there is actually no limit sure and we also see in research that basically the bigger the deficit the faster the fat loss and overweight of these individuals like I said you can literally just go as low as you can the threshold if anything seems to be more um like 800 calories or fewer like there are some analyzes that show no difference between 600 and 800 calories per day in fat loss but it’s very difficult to say if that really is a physiological thing or if that’s just um adherence issue which usually is the case with these matters and even if there is a limit it’s going to scale with total body fat Mass so the more fat you have the more body fat um the energy your body can liberate from the fat so it will still um scale to the extent that the higher your body fat level the faster you can lose it yeah this is where I think some people use I know Martin McDonald uh Greg knuckles I think Laura McDonald maybe used that paper to come about with equations where they kind of were like hey you can divide your body fat by 20 and that gives you like a percent rate of loss that you could lose by or something along those lines so and when I look across like between individuals it tends to most people land it like hey you’re 15 that’s around a one percent rate of loss that you can get away with and then it scales down as you get Lena to I know and the kind of recommendations for bodybuilders that Helms put out it’s like 0.5 to like 0.25 as you’re getting like towards the end of prep so scaling it towards body fat essentially and not being kind of ludicrous unless you’re way obese then it sounds like you can kind of get away with with anything there but I know we’re we’re coming to time here Mano so I don’t want to stretch that too far but this has been a lot of fun uh thank you for taking the time uh if people want to kind of see what you’re up to if you’ve got anything going on that people should know about uh where should they head uh well new things that probably are out by the time this comes out is I’m going on Spotify and apple podcasts um in large part of saying that’s my YouTube videos but maybe I’ll also do some unique content I’m probably not going to do like an actual podcast like like yours but more videos of me discussing things um maybe with my team we’re talking about I’m not going to do a podcast where I invite people but I am going to be on Spotify will be by the time this comes out in addition to YouTube which I’m now doing for about a year going pretty well and other than that yeah you can find all my content on minimums.com awesome yeah I’ll make sure that’s linked because I think people enjoy hearing what you have to say so if they can get more menu in their ears I’m sure they’ll be there so definitely get your YouTube link below and maybe by the time by the time this comes out you’ll definitely be live with those so either people will need to search or maybe we can get that link added at the time so yeah thank you so much Mano thank you guys for listening and we’ll catch you soon take care as always all right losing weight fast while maintaining muscle mass sounds too good to be true doesn’t it it isn’t though it’s reality and we know how to do it and we will help you achieve this the mini cup movement is an eight-week fat loss program to make you lose a huge chunk of that while maintaining muscle mass at the same time we will support you from the beginning to the end so that you see the results you would like to and come out of it much stronger you’ll receive a fully automated spreadsheet that is based on your nutritional needs you can choose between six different male and female training templates over 30 videos will guide you through each and every single step of the mini cut so that you’re getting the most out of your journey and that you always know what to do but the best thing is that you can start whenever you want the mini cut movement is open 24 7. so if you want to learn more or you’re ready to sign up hit the link in the description below so let’s revive stronger together

Mini Course on muscle building graphic Want more content like this?

Then get our free mini-course on muscle building, fat loss and strength.

By filling in your details you consent with our privacy policy and the way we handle your personal data.

About the author

Menno Henselmans

Formerly a business consultant, I've traded my company car to follow my passion in strength training. I'm now an online physique coach, scientist and international public speaker with the mission to help serious trainees master their physique.

» Join in and discuss this article on Instagram
Share via
Send this to a friend