Insights on injury management, maintaining muscle, the downside of always cutting & more [Podcast]

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In this podcast, Jeff from The Mind Muscle Connection podcast and I discuss many topics related to strength training, including injury management, maintaining muscle mass, the drawbacks of constantly cutting, the muscular potential of women, the differences between training as a novice and as an advanced lifter, and much more. Enjoy it!



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-(0:00): Update on him.
-(5:50) Update on his back injury.
-(17:00) Injury management techniques.
-(18:55) His training goals moving forward.
-(21:25) Maintaining muscle mass.
-(31:00) Downsides of always cutting.
-(37:10) His thoughts on the P-Ratio.
-(55:00) Practical applications to improve P-Ratio.


Automated Transcript

Jeff 0:00
Hey guys welcome back to another episode of the mind muscle connection podcast today I have a very special guests Minto Hanselman he’s back on I believe this is the fourth time either way it’s the third or fourth time but like I just mentioned off air always great episodes so looking forward to diving into a ton of great topics again today first, I can always have to do whenever you come on I got to ask where in the world was meadow at and so when I hear the update there at that

Menno 0:36
address, I’ll probably be here in the coming months. Not permanently but what we spend quite some time here until June or so. And then it’s uncertain because my girlfriend’s gonna finish her oral surgeon specialty next year and it’s not sure yet where

Jeff 0:56
cool so just just again just in Spain so I got Madrid and Spain right at the minute was that okay, that’s what I thought. And then from there you just not really sure where you’re going to go for before which I’m sure it’s probably pretty cool to just not really know exactly where you’re going.

Menno 1:10
This is what I’m used to in fact the staying in Spain for multiple months consecutively is more the the novelty for me. If it’s been eight years, maybe more since I’ve been in one place more than three months or so. And I one time I was in Brazil for about half a year but other than that it’s pretty much more like one to two months that’s probably the average

Jeff 1:34
yeah that’s that’s really cool. I just find that that’s that’s super interesting. I guess my question to you then is what’s what’s the weather like at this time of year is is it pretty nice in Spain during this year or is it get pretty chilly?

Menno 1:45
Is it supposed to be nice but it’s total crap I think I don’t know why but seems all of Europe has kind of the same climates this at least this year. And yeah, it’s horrible today no last week and the coming week are all horrible.

Jeff 1:59
I think I think we kind of touched on this last time but just just for a refresher Do you Do you try to choose places that are a little bit more of or is it just again just kind of Yeah, okay. I’m with you. i i live in the Midwest and in the United States and may not tell you what in the winter it gets. It gets pretty chilly here and it gets tough to get outside and it’s definitely noticed a difference you know, not being able to have that nice warmer weather. I was actually listening to stronger by science podcast and I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this. They kind of talked about how as humans we’re probably a little bit better adapted to warmer weather than we are to colder weather.

Menno 2:35
There’s a big genetic difference for sure in between people of different nationalities because if I sit on a plane with Brazilians, for example, now I’m a very warm individual like I’m especially after workout and a shower. It’s sometimes so extreme that in the winter and the Netherlands I would bicycle in my T shirts in the mornings because I would otherwise just get sweaty because my body produces so much heat. And that’s like with snow. So but that only lasts for 10 minutes. Usually, I think I would have one or two less fewer layers of clothing and other people to find sit in airplanes usually to have fun, like in general, any place for me where they have to temperature set at a level where other people are are okay, I’m warm. And in Brazil and those kinds of places, tropical places in general, the difference is crazy. Like, I’ll literally be sweating in the airplane, and there are people putting on their jacket. Like they’re sending like, chilly. So it’s I mean, there’s I think it really varies between individuals. Over overall, humans definitely like warm and there’s also research that humans actually get a dopamine and happiness boost from some exposure. And ultraviolet light, interestingly is responsible for part of that effect. So I tried to select sunny places in particular I don’t so much care about the temperature. Actually, I prefer it a little cooler, but it’s hard to find somewhere super sunny where it’s cold. So in that sense, you could say my body’s made for the tundra. I know dehydrate, I don’t sunburn. I don’t care about cold, but I do want some.

Jeff 4:07
I love it. Yeah. Do you think that like in terms of you obviously mentioned genetics play a role in that in terms of how you know how you adapt to all that? Do you think that you being somebody that is you know, obviously in tune with your body and you care about your health and fitness and maybe being a little bit leaner and like, you know, maybe your metabolism a little bit higher? Do you find that that plays a role as well too? And that I’m sure

Menno 4:26
yes, I know a lot of my clients for example, they reported that, at first they were more normal in these things. And as they got muscular in particular muscular because they go very low in body fat you have the opposite effect change to get colder. So particularly muscular and just overall good diet, which also increases your metabolic rate increases the thermic effect of food. It definitely has an impact on these things and I think it’s most noticeable in my female clients. But he said I used to be kind of normal in the senses but now I’m very often warm and sometimes even warm and when guys are gold.

Jeff 5:00
Interesting. Yeah, definitely definitely the body fat for sure, because I’ve when I’ve prepped for shows in the past or just been in a regular fat loss phase it definitely you can tell the difference in terms of how would you get it it’s very very tough to get warm when you’re when you’re low low body fat. So that then obviously like you said, muscle mass is gonna play a role and then and then genetics two are gonna be a big thing with that. Go I always always love kind of going down these rabbit holes with you. I know you always have good information on it. So last time we chatted you were your back was acting up front last time I saw you looks like you’ve got over that injury. So I’m just kind of curious to hear the update there on that.

Menno 5:36
Yeah, after about a year of pretty constant back pain have now been paying free since late August. And yeah, that’s been a major relief for two minor setbacks tried squatting again and it was like no, no, not ready yet. So now I can do everything except loaded squats and deadlifts. Which is fine with me. Just I can train all my muscle groups with full volume and I don’t have to worry about back pain anymore. Just kind of squat or deadlift also put my training in a different perspective for sure. So pretty good. What

Jeff 6:14
what were kind of the you know, what was kind of mentioned it change your perspective worse maybe like one or two those things that you know kind of change for you going through this process? Yeah, I’ve

Menno 6:25
always been more into bodybuilding and powerlifting but I kind of like to at least you know, I’ve pretty respectable strength levels on all the major lifts, overhead press, Romanian deadlift. And I kind of chase those, at least some bulk phases, where like, you know, 50 to 70% of the time for each lift, I would say and definitely comes with higher injury risk to keep pushing the same lift because it’s pattern overuse and the power lifts are inherently not terribly injury friendly. So pushing those with high intensity high volume for long periods over time, definitely reduces the risk of injury. And yeah, puts it in a different perspective of do I really still care about those strength levels? And you know, is it worth kind of retaking it altogether? I know I’ve shifted a lot more towards ie I really don’t care so much about strength anymore, because I think I’m pretty much tapped out in terms of my muscular potential. And I could spend maybe two years building on my benchpress to hopefully not get injured and then you know, set a five to 10 pound PR. And yeah, what in the end am I going to gain from that? Whereas for the risk, it’s okay, maybe I mess up my elbow for goods and I do long term damage. You know, there’s a limited number of times you can have have Elbow, elbow tendinopathy and not have any long term damage. So there’s definitely shifted me more in the perspective of longevity and bodybuilding, rather than strength in powerlifting.

Jeff 7:54
Oh, yeah, I feel like everybody kind of gets to that point at some point where it’s like you decide, Hey, is it worth it to keep working on on strength and then you end up just being like, hey, for longevity aspects. of it and just like more just bodybuilding style, like, training just seems to be best like long term for injury prevention. Now, I’ve had this thought to where I feel like with weight training, and you can include like the main lifts at bodybuilding style, whatever it may be, I feel like the the risk of acute injury is is probably fairly low. But something I’ve been thinking about is I feel like the chronic overuse injuries probably are a little bit higher because of the amount of training volume that you’re doing and like overuse, like repetitive use type injuries, I feel like are probably a little bit more common than like an acute injury would be.

Menno 8:39
Definitely the acute injury rates is not high in general. It’s trending towards sports, because all the movements are very controlled. But we do know that between controlled strength sports, such as powerlifting versus bodybuilding, the injury rate in powerlifting is several fold higher according to most studies, and that includes bodybuilders like actual competitive bodybuilders, which go into contest prep. And that also, at least in my experience, significantly increases injury rates or at least decreases the recovery potential from any injury. So that’s pretty telling. I think it makes perfect sense high intensity same movement, like I said about an overuse injuries. Working with one RMS which is inherently somewhat risky. Not saying it’s inherently you know, it’s like a big chance are gonna break relax if you do a one on one squat, but you are working with a literal maximum weight which might lift might actually be a super maximal weight. If it’s if it’s not your day or you estimated your run around. incorrectly. So that obviously it carries with it a higher risk of injury as inherently your technique will break down. If you’re using weights that’s too heavy for you to list with with me. So yeah, I think it makes sense that we see higher injury rates with part of things interesting.

Jeff 9:54
Do you is there anything that you can maybe do to kind of overcome those more like, again, we know like acute type injuries are a lot lower, especially to do like body building style training. Is there any way that you work on like reducing that risk of those kind of overuse type injuries like Like for instance, you mentioned elbow tendinopathy which is like elbow tendinitis essentially, right? Is that basically what it is?

Menno 10:18
Yeah, basically is the preferred term now because I this suggests inflammation and also suggest tissue degeneration, but almost all injuries have both components to some extent. So they’re now just call it kind of apathy, which is also really nice and like, which means that there is something wrong with it, and most likely, it’s going to have inflammation and it’s going to have this huge degeneration. But the old terms either sent also suggest that that’s the core thing that’s wrong, whereas it’s almost always a mix.

Jeff 10:48
So what would you Is there anything that you do there to kind of limit some of those like overuse type injuries? Like

Menno 10:55
there’s a lot you can do for injury management? In fact, I think injury management is one of the big things that people have to learn as they get to the advanced level. Because typically advanced training is when you start pushing your body to its maximum potential, the injury rates tend to be higher. And in fact, funnily enough, many people in the gym like Gen pop people, often left with horrible technique, but many of them are literally too weak to injure themselves. If you see them do things that the way they squat the way the deadlift, you look at it, and you’re like, Well, if I did that for one session, I think I would have been and it’s because you’re listening two to three times more ways, which obviously is more impactful for the body. And that’s, I think, a part because the connective tissues don’t adapt to the same extent as muscular tissue. But then in the cross sectional area, for example, that has become stiffer, but they don’t become bigger at the same rate as strength. In particular, you would you would say that strength increases a lot from a beginner. I mean, think of what you could bench when you just couldn’t lift we hadn’t lifted before me there are many people being 30 kilos, there’s some people maybe 20, maybe some people 40 Guys I’m talking about for for women, maybe 20 is already a lot. And then when you get much stronger you can for Drupal that and that’s the total realistic at all, for many people. So your muscle mass level, you can typically increase to a large extent as well but not as much as your strength and then your tendons and other connective tissues in general. They don’t increase nearly to that same extent. But it also makes sense. I mean, you can increase the tendon by fourfold in many cases, it’s the there’s simply no space. So I think that plays a role in increasing the injury potential as well but but the body’s the connective tissues, which is the ligaments, tendons and life that are most likely to get injured. They cannot keep up with the increases in strength that you can experience because not just are you increasing the morphological structures like the size of the muscle, but you’re also in large part strength is an improvement in the nervous system like the motor cortex, the part of the brain, the garment schoolfriends, it becomes much more efficient, that’s coordinating the muscles. So you guys kind of double return on investments from the muscle we’re getting bigger, therefore being stronger, but also the nervous system, the better with coordinating the available muscle tissue and thereby exponentially increasing your strength and a given level of muscle mass.

Jeff 13:29
Is that kind of so basically what it sounds like is you can increase your strength and muscle at a much quicker rate. And then basically what you can with the tendons and for my understanding tendons, you can’t really do too much anyways, with it. Now in terms of recovery process to that would be the same thing right where those tend to take a lot longer to recover from like training as well to

Menno 13:49
the bends on what type of tissue I think the connective tissues it might be the case because you can inflict more damage and your recovery potential does improve. In particular we know that for muscle tissue is probably also the case for other tissues. Our capacity for protein synthesis improves. We could get more ribosomes, we know that we could have more satellite cells, more myonuclei cell cores that may also assist in long term remodeling of the tissue and the question is more if the the improvement in recovery capacity is in line with the increase in strength. And that’s that seems to depend to give a workout does often take less time to recover from in advanced individuals than beginners. So in terms of the neuro muscular tissues, actually in recovery often improves. We also have even short term studies that our ability to recover from a given program is simple. One Norwegian study looked at high frequency training on the squat. And it’s found that daily training with the quads with effort even six sets for four it was this allows neuromuscular recovery. So basically recover your strength within 24 hours after that we’re used to high frequency training but not before that. But for connective tissues that may be a different matter. So I think it depends on which structure is offered. By you’re looking at fairly normal study, you can think that things improve but then again, you also need more volume to gain to keep gaining at a similar rate or even at a lesser rate. So that also offsets the boost recovery potential. So in practice, you’re probably still at the same level or even worse off. Things definitely get harder. Yeah, well,

Jeff 15:40
you know, that just goes to show you know, really the importance of I think two things recovery from training and just like your execution of training, too, right? Because like you kind of mentioned earlier where like in the beginning, you can get away with poor technique or execution because you’re not lifting as much weight but once you start getting stronger, like you got to start to dial that in because you’re probably going to start placing way more stress on like, certain joints connective tissue rather than in the muscle if you’re not, you know, paying attention to your execution and then obviously the recovery side of things becomes more and more important as well to like, you know, make sure you program that correctly. But sorry, go ahead

Menno 16:14
and practice it’s always extremely multifactorial because yeah, there are differences in training volume differences that may be good recovery potential, but we see in research that more advanced individuals please do some research on power lifters. They have lower injury rates than less sponsors, so even though they’re stronger, and that’s probably because any increase in injury susceptibility is offset by better injury management techniques. So you actually asked about that. And a couple very useful techniques are avoiding pattern overload, which also comes to using more free movements. I’m a big fan of their journey doubles cables, switching exercises up and having an appropriate amount of variety. You don’t want so little variety that you can do in the movement effectively, but you want enough variety that you’re not always stimulating same muscle, the movement pattern, at least if you can, because if you’re already of course you have to move on and decrease the intensity. We know that even up to 30 around is still very effective for muscle growth, but it’s much much easier on the tendon so most research finds that tendons require an intensity of about 70% of one around to adapt whereas muscle tissue it’s more like 20 10% and you can get maximum muscle growth at about 30% of one around. So you there’s a big range between where you can achieve maximum muscle growth versus where the thin ends take a significant hit, which is the 30 to 70% upon range. That helps a lot with technique not being excessively fatigued. Yeah, just overall SMART program design in terms of volume, etc. And there are a lot of things definitely that help. And also output exercise selection is a major one.

Jeff 17:57
Yeah, finding finding exercises to that probably fit your you know, unique structure as well to you just figure that out over time. Yeah, a lot of a lot of good takeaways there with that and again, you’ve obviously really had a home. I feel like in the last couple years with your with your back injury so I just kind of wanted to hear your thoughts that are on that which speaking of moving forward for you, what’s kind of your training? Has anything changed or both like we both are here for focusing on or is that still kind of certainly kind of going back to more like my name style training stuff like that. particular goals coming up or anything like that? Yeah,

Menno 18:35
in terms of training focus on probability that kickboxing should be constantly contrasted with lower injury rates, particularly for public volume and I’m not gonna do a lot of sparring myself. It’s traditionally a new thing to focus on. And especially the coming year when probably won’t be 100% Yet the coming months. It’s something I find fun and definitely something to do. And maybe I’ll see how much I can. How much how serious I’m going to become.

Jeff 19:10
Do you still like in that? In that example? You’re like, I like to play hockey once a week I find that again, like, you know, is that going to like move a through risk with everything? No, probably not like it’s a contact sport. So obviously the risk was up a little bit but I feel like again, if you’re not trained to be like a professional bodybuilder or anything like that, I would imagine it’s probably a good thing, maybe to do some other activities outside of just like weight training, you know, in terms of like, you know, to go back to what we just talked about with the injury management. I feel like maybe incorporating some different type of movement pattern like that and just kind of putting your body in those positions that you wouldn’t normally get it. I’m just curious to hear your thoughts on that. Is that something that could be beneficial for somebody?

Menno 19:51
I’m not sure it will be beneficial, but I think it’s it does help to kind of spread out the stress. Because the type of injury you will typically get from the boxing for example, or puppy is very different. From finding is much more internal kickboxing is very obvious bruising, outsides trauma, whereas bodybuilding is more internal overuse injury type injury, which was probably if you have both types of stress like one session per week with kickboxing or hockey, that’s really not going to normally. So it’s kind of free between machines and not getting injured at all from strength training. So I’ve got one social group gearbox and they can handle that. And it’s been kind of pre injury almost.

Jeff 20:43
I like that. Yeah, free, right. Like you said, you shouldn’t you know, obviously you can always you can go get her you know, you can get a car exit or somebody get hurt, right. So there’s always that I think inherent risk of getting injured. But like you said in one hour, you should it shouldn’t get hurt most of the time. So for you Have you noticed any now that you’re back to normal trading, if you’re trading volume change at all, but if you notice, like kind of muscle growth come back, or did did you feel like you ever like lost getting during this process? I’m curious to hear that.

Menno 21:13
So I’m super pleasantly surprised. By how well we know from I mean, I’ve been applying surgeries and injuries that it’s relatively easy to do my case for many months. I could not turn my lower back or my views at all. I know that I can think about this idea that you will use squats or something. Once a day if you’re just doing like essentials, you can easily maintain all your profits. It’s not difficult.

Jeff 21:49
In general Google

Menno 21:51
the volume, gain the muscle mass, you can be comfortable. In my case, though, after most and you can see my news for a smaller Rex has been I’ve given up the tree trunks as much, but it wasn’t major like I still came to look like a defense which I thought would be maybe not even the case. Also in those specific muscle groups, like I still like coding, and yeah, it came up very rapidly. I’m also somewhat disillusioned with how to pick strength points. So when I press for example, I started doing of course at some point and Mike across, I don’t know how long but last time I did them it was easily over 180 kilograms. This was already many, many, many years ago. And now I started off and I think it was like 110 not maybe the 19 times five. It was pretty much pretty much tonight. And then went up to 150 transpose within a matter of weeks, which is pretty good, but then it became too long ago. So the last 240 kilograms, they should be able to gain. Those were actually almost like the first time but the first 50 kilos came back like

Jeff 23:16
yeah, that’s super interesting how I mean, I think it makes sense where it’s like that that first part’s easy and then once you get close back closer to where you were before it’s like that’s where it really starts to get challenging again for you. So yeah, so it sounds like for you. You did a good job of maintaining but I feel like at some point you need to kind of hit it like you can do as low as like 1/3 of the training point before and maintain. Like you said, well a third for you like is that something where you have a good beginning like you can do that for a while but as you do that for longer, longer periods of time. That starts to like you still see like a little bit of muscle loss over time with that because you do kind of mentioned that you still feel like you’ve lost a little bit but I don’t know if that was for all your body parts with just losing only goes okay because you mentioned that it came back for at least I’m assuming and giving lectures and everything else you felt like you maintain well and you didn’t really lose any muscle in that process. Yes,

Menno 24:09
one of the percent a lot of strength because your brain maintains all the muscle mass, and it was so even introduced and referenced visually and it’s also fine. Like to embody COMSATS was quite difficult to say like without skinfolds California like it would almost be impossible to say I’m still my POS and I’ve been up to 90 burritos or something whereas I should have a fireball sort of almost all using or I could feel it should be like maybe two kilos of muscle loss or something. Right. But in terms of like weight and body fat level, it was very hard to hear any difference.

Jeff 24:45
Yeah, that’s awesome. And I think that’s good. You know, that’s definitely something for me in the past where, you know if I was one of those people where if I didn’t train for like two days, or sometimes they call me and I’m losing all this muscle and stuff like that, and obviously the research on it was really cool to show that it really doesn’t take much to to maintain it. I guess when somebody thinks they lose muscle is that typically just like kind of more of a mental thing and like maybe like glycogen loss or something like that they could physically see happen or maybe just like a call, you know, just like an in between we hadn’t noticed that like you feel smaller, but

Jeff 25:13
you have to be much more

Menno 25:14
efficient. Yeah, if you’ll be taking part in in one week, and you’re not in order to deficit in one week. The alternative still decent and you should not lose contractile muscle. However, there may be a relatively large visual difference for low 40s units as microcontrollers which in turn attract intramuscular water into the muscle and open platforms if you will. And you also don’t have the pump and also the edema, only about a big part of the reason when you’re always training and you’re always pushing your body kind of to the limit, because you’re kind of perpetually in a state of muscle damage with edema, like all your muscles are actually spoken to some extent. And what we need is to have a permanent pump

Jeff 26:01
and you need to look a lot more natural it’s like the opposite type of you know some people I’m here at that low point like

Menno 26:09
super cool and vascular and then we play for a week you get the opposite of what was deflated. You saw that kind of the raw size, but not the vascularity is a bit lost. The skin is not as special over the muscle. The muscle doesn’t work as fully liquid ESLs is not pushing against the skin as much it doesn’t look like it’s about to pop on screen. There are factors which which is exactly the effect you want from our peak week is the opposite of the effect you have to stop paying for that makes it seem like it’s there’s more muscle loss than there

Jeff 26:47
is. Yeah, I think that that’s where a lot of people get themselves into trouble is they you know if they if they switch from you to like a high trading volume like programs, maybe a little bit lower trading volume again, you don’t have like that path and stuff like that and people think that it’s like again, they’re losing muscle, but it’s like, okay, you’re not going to lose muscle with that position, lifting weights and like you said protein doesn’t get super well. I also find that like for clients. I don’t know, whenever I’ll do like a D load week or like we kind of back off training volume you’ll kind of see like, certain clients just like in that week, whether it’s usually I feel like more fat loss phase. We’ll see what happened what you’ll see kind of people just their way just kind of drops down in that weekly reducer training box. And I’m assuming that’s vice basically what you would just kind of mission there in terms of what’s going on with

Menno 27:28
also are going to find especially if it’s like a real deal thing. You’re focusing on the fact that energy supplies versus deficit as soon as you go into a deficit or lose a lot of water and sea levels are going to go down. It’s going to be sodium retention. Muscle we’re going to not be as pumped anymore. And you immediately look drier which is literally our dryer, which makes it much easier, but you also look as full and which for the artists also are staggered for storage. So you get the same effect where you go low carb even if you’re not an energy deficit, you look via the jogger as the also less poor. So both low carb diets and being an energy deficit make you look more shredded, died and being on high carb diets or energy supplies makes you look fuller but a bit more bloated more puffy. Yeah more juicy.

Jeff 28:19
I always bring this up because I feel like I don’t think this is as much of an issue for for women as it is for men but like I remember this was always kind of deterred me from like wanting to cut for the longest time as this was when I was like oh I just want to be as huge as I can like all the time and you just kind of mentioned that for like you go into a cut and like you all sudden you just it’s like you lose all that fullness but like you haven’t lost any body fat yet so you’re just in this like terrible spot of like, dude, this sucks. I’m not eating as much. I’m just smaller like I just lost all my muscle I feel like that Honestly though, deters a lot of like I said probably more so women away from like cutting and actually like improving their body composition.

Menno 29:07
Like women have the opposite effect community when they start bulking. I have some clients where I really have to assure them like they’re at a decent level. of muscularity, if like most women almost get kind of stuck at this level where they learned how to be they ever made the film a decent amount of muscle mass, but they’ve never really successfully books. And some guys also get this actually when they’ve kind of become addicted to the six pack. I myself had it for quite a while as well where it’s like, well actually I haven’t really boast in years and a lot of them broken and again during the cycles like bokeh cycles is it really makes a difference. Like I think it’s one or two kilos for me that over the time of like barrel marketing actually lost some muscle mass and for women also it makes a big difference because women have to say muscular potential as men but as of today we’re starting muscle mass. And I think that more men gets kind of stuck in the bulking and more women prefer the cutting following us and I think we don’t see as many plus partial preferences and all things. Miniature projects. women as men don’t get to be an American. They do get super lean. They have trouble building muscle.

Jeff 30:38
Yeah, and I guess you know, what would be like, you know, obviously somebody hears something like that does that sounds crazy to me, but like what would be the you know, again, downsides of obviously you said the muscle, they’re not gonna, you’re not gonna be able to build as much muscle when you’re in that kind of lower than, I guess you’d call it low energy availability. Whatever you want to call it. What would be some like other potential downsides? I’m sure hormonally probably not going to be great to sit there for too long as well. Yeah,

Menno 31:06
yeah. depends more on the I think more on the body fat percentage, than whether you’re an energy supplies deficit or whatever. So if you’re continuously kind of maintaining as a woman 20 for somebody, that should not be an issue, but if you’re maintaining a level where you don’t menstruate anymore, whereas before you did, that definitely has adverse effects. I think those are typically not permanent, but there is probably a limit to how long you can do that without at least losing muscle mass. We also know that in men for example, and in women, a certain level of leanness, you have to stop for a level decreases. Like that, the effect of testosterone on muscle mass, the most, we see typically that even research on anabolic androgenic steroids, which is mostly used to stop from use and research that it takes about a month before we see changes in muscle protein synthesis levels, because the effects of the anabolic hormone receptor amounts are mostly genomic. So they kind of rebuild your body from the ground up and that can take a while before we get into the facts is starting to sell for and you actually start changing the makeup of the body to body parts of different proteins, different amounts of the proteins. Before that translates into meaningful differences multiple we’re talking months off, especially as to the logical basis. So if you you’re
going to focus on bulking into the contest, only you’ll lose some of it if you’re pushing your muscular potential, you’re gonna maintain most of it but then if you hold that shape for say, six more months, probably you are going to lose some of it but by that time, the effects of testosterone and stuff they really start hitting you

Jeff 34:14
know, that’s that’s actually a good point. So what it sounds like is basically you know, if you have like, again, you’re cutting or whatever it may be in testosterone and get your bloodwork done. It’s low. It’s like if that just happened in that period of time, it’s not really too much of a concern. It’s just if you prolong that period of time that you’re there, that’s where you’ll start to it will have its negative effects on like muscle growth and everything like that. And then, to go back to you know, you kind of talked about it’s not necessarily the, like energy deficit, it’s it’s more so the body fat percentages, you’re going to run into those hormonal issues, but probably then what it sounds like is for somebody that is like cutting, let’s say they’re cutting six, nine months out of the year and whatnot, and, again, maybe they aren’t at low body fat levels, but probably the downside is that is you’re probably not in a deficit as much as you think you are. But mentally, you’re probably in that kind of mindset of dieting, and that probably is where you run into issues, but you also have that problem where you’re not going to be building muscle which is going to help you with your look long term is what it sounds like there

Menno 35:18
many people get into. When you’re super lean, it becomes more and more difficult to get even leaner, your metabolism is suppressed. And you’re kind of perma cutting, but a lot of the time you’re probably more at maintenance, or at least an energy intake that doesn’t result in fat loss because maybe with this idea of maintenance intake is a fixed heart. Number. But it actually is there’s actually a range because there is metabolic adaptation. So we should go into energy surplus. We see research, especially some individuals that burn most of that surplus off up to a point to maintenance, it’s more of a range, and that range shifts downward as you get leaner. So you’re spending all of your time and say maybe few female client of mine, it would be in the range of like Pema Chodron she’d be like 1300s to like 1700s and then not only started booking, she’s more in the range of like 1500 to 2400. So because of the metabolic suppression naturally, you are kind of depriving your body of a lot of energy availability, even if it doesn’t immediately result in effecting

Jeff 36:13
gotcha, yeah, no, that that that makes a lot of sense. You’re, you’re basically just kind of, if you do that you’re kind of just basically decreasing the amount of food that you can eat throughout the year. Because you’re gonna see that downregulation which let’s be honest, in today’s modern environment, probably not great. It’s gonna be very tough to have to do that all the time. Cool. No, that was that was really good kind of topic that we kind of went off on there. What I want to kind of shift gears to and I feel like this kind of goes hand in hand with what we just talked about is this concept of the P E ratio. I know that you’ve been on stronger base. I think you kind of had like a roundtable and I think it was Steve halls podcast with like Eric Trexler, about about the P E ratio. And you kind of had at the time this was been like a year or two now. I think that you guys did that. He kind of had different views. And so I’m just curious, I guess first, what is the P ratio and then from there, like, what are your kind of views on it? And if it’s maybe changed in the last a little while?

Menno 37:09
Yeah, people show this referral protein ratio, as basically the ratio of lean to normally mass to gain or lose. I don’t recommend thinking of like the actual mathematics is just think of the ratio of possible fat if you’re bulking you want to gain a good ratio of muscle to fat. No, you don’t want to gain one to one is, is mediocre, should be very realistic for almost anyone. And if you’re getting less than that, I mean sedentary individuals can gain 25% of their wages as being body mass. So if you’re at that ratio, you know you’re you’re doing revolting, but that’s also one of the main factors you can do about it. By the way, it’s the energy balance. Fine tuning that a lot more. And then when cutting you obviously are most people want to lose fat, not muscle. So to make sure it’s kind of the other way around. And that’s referred to as a P E ratio. And there’s a lot of research by Forbes showing that in general, the higher your body fat level, the better your P E ratio and cutting and which means that basically higher body fat individuals have an easier time losing fat and well, without risk of muscle loss. That’s pretty well established. And the reverse also seems true in the research that lean individuals have an easier time putting on muscle without putting on fat, and this is in sedentary individuals. So this might just be gravitating towards kind of an equilibrium level. And that’s kind of where we had the debate on whereas I fought about this. I think there is does have some implications, even if not directly based on this research. I do think there is a certain maximum body fat level we should not go over when bulking both practical and theoretical reasons. And they said no, we’re paraphrasing this at night. I don’t think it matters. We can basically bulk up to his higher body fat level of Spanish bones back to our B ratio. And I mean we have very little direct research on this. Basically none in terms of like bodybuilders bodybuilder type population that builds on low body fat and high body fat in a randomized controlled crossover trial, those kind of things. We don’t have that. So but I think subsequent research is more aligned with than refuted the idea that overweight individuals have anabolic resistance. They have there have been multiple reviews fibers concluding that and even saying that quantifying it in terms of the effect being to being overweight or obese has the same effect as being I think it was 200 deficit or something. So we’ll have calorie deficit something like that. And also I think one more paper showing that overweight individuals have been paired, recovering after a workout. So just short term just they do a workout. You know individual do the same workout, see how many days it takes them to recover. And then most research finds that overweight individuals need more days to recover from the same workout as leaner individuals. But also a point where you’re too lean, especially in women, we see that if you are solely probably because of the suppression of anabolic hormone levels and a like it takes you longer to recover as well. So there seems to be kind of a an optimal curve or kind of a range of productive body fat levels to spend most of your time in not like crazy contrasting, but also not obese. And I would say not overweight either. So and I wouldn’t say I would say my views on that have remained pretty steady.

Jeff 40:30
Well, you kind of hit on it like you want to be careful with those ranges too. Right like those probably not like super tight. They’re probably you know, there’s there’s pretty good range there. But with being too lean, and again, you’re talking like we’re not talking like 10% we’re probably talking you know, like you said contest lean or whatnot like that’s where at that point, you’re probably your up ratio is probably going to get a little skewed a little bit more towards like fat gain at that period of time, right because it really is going to want to try to gain a little bit more body fat when you’re like it really, really low levels of body fat, which most people aren’t going to have to worry about that.

Menno 41:00
Yeah, most people in general, I would say that women in general, they don’t have to worry about this at all, because there are almost no women because of their better metabolic health and the typical social cultural desire of women to be leaner than versus bulkier whereas many men are okay with being muscular if they’re a bit puffier women and basically never have to worry in practice about being too fat to vote, yet they they more afterward worry about are you actually bulking and formando I think is a factor for power strongman and the lightweight weight loss. Athletes like that they think it’s more of a consideration to see well you want to spend your time both in this range but then move up to this bypass ticket. It’s more relevant for them. But I think it is also the case that many women many men and women are mostly men, when they are for example, skinny fat, and they are figuring out like what do I need? Should I bulk or cut? I think the answer is usually cut. And in general, I would say if you’re unsure gods, because it can only be beneficial in that direction, whereas it could be detrimental the other way around. So there’s like nothing to lose if you want to cut anyway right at the end. Plus, most skinny fat individuals can still recall and the difference actually in terms of muscle growth is not that great. I’m quite curious, I would be interested to see like direct research on this which we don’t have yet. If we can see for example, completely untrained individuals or like skinny fat sedentary individual, if they start bulking versus if they do a good recomp program will actually be such a meaningful difference in muscle growth. I think it won’t be that big because we know that then no novice level lifters, there is a cap on muscle growth so they can do kind of whatever and they will gain is he for some research showing that I posted about one paper that the the muscle growth in endurance training group was the same as in strength training group and that’s true for like the first maybe three four weeks or so. But after that it diverges and you really need to strengthen. So probably you can because the boat really doesn’t have much. You’re just gonna you’re gonna max out the mosquito anyway.

Jeff 43:15
Yeah, which you know that’s definitely take advantage of that’s always been somebody that you know that certain thing or like she don’t have a lot of muscle mass and again, body composition

Menno 13:51
a normal cluster

Yeah, and in that case like this is kind of like We have a role in the loss of ecology like your sleep, Recovery Management, like, like protein intake, like those are all gonna be big things, right? You have a lot of like, tools that you can still utilize before you have to decide, hey, I need to gain weight in order to build muscle.

Menno 44:56
This was much easier or much more possible than many people say like when I published this article about whether it’s possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time that completely blew up. Because there were still a lot of people that thought it wasn’t even possible at all. And in that article, I was quite brazen and things like even like high level athletes and stuff. We see it like there are studies showing that even contests competitors, clearly not all of them, but some of them they recall into the contest. I suppose the bikini competitors figure you know, like, not pro physique, or bodybuilding girls, but you still see it and well trained people who have been training for many years and it’s just when they start doing things better than they would have for smarter training, harder training, higher volume, optimized nutrient timing, all the little details micronutrients sleep, not just I go to the gym at least three times a week, and I get my protein shakes and but like optimizing all the variables, you can go a long way was that most of my clients they recall the first weeks of the program, and I’ve been training for years. Am I gonna get like a power lifter? That’s won two national medals. And is that 10% body fat? Am I gonna recomp that guy to 5% body fat, no way. The more muscle you have, the more difficult it is and the lower your body fat the more difficult it is yet, but most people are not at that level yet.

Jeff 45:38
And I’m sure that genetics play a role in that too where some people just like you can get away with even more but like you said, Yeah, most people aren’t aren’t there and I think that’s one thing. I’ve been trying to get out to people like hey, you don’t necessarily have to be in this certain like, yes, we know that being a surplus is really great for building muscle but in a lot of situations, you could probably get away with being at maintenance or is even certain situations of deficit because I’m assuming there to, again how much muscle you have is probably going to play a role in like, okay, this person can be a little bit of a larger deficit versus you know, somebody that’s a little bit more advanced might need to be in like not as large of a deficit tool for maintenance type of situation.

Menno 46:30
Yeah, I would say in general, when you are bulking the more if you want to realize where you bulking and you need to bulk then the more advanced to artists. The lower the deficit has to be like the smaller the deficit has already entered. The energy surplus of a deficit. The response has to be like if you’re really advanced and you have your bulk, mean your some pipelines they become 2% energy surplus, because really just do the math how much muscle you expect to gain this month. They get it will be you know 200 grams or something. Okay, so we know that net metabolizable energy density of lean body mass, it’s like 1800 calories, so divided by five, and that’s the extra actual energy that’s has to go into the body this month to gain that those 200 grams of lean body mass. It’s not a lot to divide by 31 and that’s your daily energies plus I mean, that’s that’s the that’s the raw sort of rejoinder just plus it’s going to be a little bit bigger than that, but it’s still very, very small numbers we’re talking about. So you really have to lean lean bulk when you financial trainees that are pretty advanced.

Jeff 47:20
And so to go back to kind of this P ratio concept does, I guess we probably were gaining, we’re trying to, you know, we’re trying to bulk or whatever it may be, it’s probably, there’s not really anything you can do, especially as you get more advanced to where it’s going to be like, like you’re not going to just gain all muscle compared to body fat. When you gain weight. You’re going to see some of that be stored as body fat Correct. Can we ever get it to a perfect ratio there

Menno 47:43
needs to be relatively probably you’re good, but it was, it was kind of hard to kind of know your energy expenditure and ensure that your body is you know, to the calorie, exactly the energy surplus that the body can use for muscle protein synthesis. And the theoretically it would be possible but in practice, no, it’s not possible to gain some fat as an advanced trainee to gain muscle mass.

Jeff 48:09
Great, and I guess what would be so to kind of go back to like the beginning where you just talked about like, again, they’re coming out with a you can be at higher body fat levels and it’s still build muscle, you seem to think that that’s not going to put you in a great position to do that. But obviously, you know, from that standpoint, you know, either way, whatever your view is on that, like at the end of the day, going too high in body fat is not going to be great for overall health and just, you know, your overall look right so I guess maybe hit a little bit more on like downsides of if you are this person’s like, oh, cool, I can build muscle with higher body fat percentage, like what would be you know, why would you kind of steer somebody away from from doing that

Menno 48:46
anyways? Yeah, I mean, nobody doubts that you can get muscle of high body fat levels. It’s just that the P ratio might not be optimal. So you might just gain too much fat or maybe it’s just a little bit harder because your recovery is impaired. And basically, what we know is your recovery is impaired. Maybe untrained lifters you can offset that with habitual training, etc. But then those same effects should apply to leaner individuals. So I’m skeptical that you could really offset that completely, especially when you get to obesity level for men like 25% body fat. And we also know that there’s anabolic resistance, that a lot of wonderful review papers also confirming that although there isn’t that much new research to be fair, in terms of the actual photosynthesis response to a meal or a training session, but what we have indicates that it’s probably in Paris, in in obese individuals compared to healthier individuals. And we are we have to one rat study, which is we had a huge debate about ALS, but it kind of tentatively supports that the buildup of insulin resistance has negative effect and there’s been two studies figure both cross sectional there and they’re not good quality, but they also suggest a link between insulin resistance and impaired muscle growth or greater muscle loss during a deficit. Which is interesting because it’s not clear how that was work. You know, there’s a common theory that you need your insulin sensitivity because all the nutrients can go into the muscle, but it’s the same for fat like you would have to explain why it goes into a muscle and fat. So you would specifically need insulin sensitive, you know, wants to shoot versus build or tissue just at the whole body level, making everything more insulin sensitive or resistance isn’t necessarily going to change where the body partitions the nutrients. So it’s, that fear doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. But we will also know that insulin resistance is related to inflammation. We know that high level of chronic inflammation can impair muscle growth. And yeah, how much that matters is also still debatable if you’re relatively healthy your diet school you know, that correlates well. Is that your point? 5% body fat. Maybe it’s not an issue yet, but we do know that there is a certain level of inflammation that is an issue and we might have higher body fat levels almost to higher inflammation levels. So based on these factors, like even if we don’t have direct research on it, I would say why this gets plus Hormonal Health especially for men. Your testosterone to estrogen ratio is going to be worse mortified to have your fat mass produces aromatase, which is an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. So you’re getting less testosterone, typically at a certain level of body fat. The higher up you go, the less the software you have them. West Virginia if that’s also why some obese individuals even are hyper vulnerable. They have like the low testosterone levels from as a result of the obesity. It’s not the norm but it is it is a thing. And you can also get things like gyno because the ratio of estrogen to testosterone like male to female sex hormones is skewed compared to what it is at optimal health. Yeah, that’s you those effects, you know, they can be good for muscle growth fighter because we know that even in the physiological age, differences in testosterone level within an individual they impact muscle growth.

Jeff 52:56
Yeah, so and then again, you did like you kind of mentioned all the hormonal aspects of the plane, even though they’re just the fifth class like the look right? Like the higher body fat percentage, you’re just not going to you’re not going to see your muscle as much right and I think that’s where probably a lot of people get themselves into trouble when they when they go into like, you know, you call it the dream or bulk is, it’s like, yeah, you’re not seeing a lot of muscle growth because you just have it’s covered by all the body fat as well. So just from the aesthetic look from it, it’s like just you’re not going to have as good of a look at those higher body fat levels.

Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s definitely personal preference, but for the vast majority of individuals, yeah, you’re, I think people underestimate how much better they can look lower body fat levels, and they men in particular, overestimated how much better to look with extra muscle mass. Just think of all the before after photos in the world. How many of them are cutting, how many of them are bogus? Like I post many photos of clients that do a very successful book, and they would look worse, like just based on like the flat selfie shirtless photo will look like a bit chubby at the end, like, puffy, and it’s like, well wait, what comes out after the next fatface They’re gonna look spectacular. But at the end of the bowl, for into two shirts, they look much better, but like shirtless and you don’t have the six pack anymore, or not as much you know, everything doesn’t look as crisp. And all the masks Yeah, it’s it’s somewhat hard to tell Yeah, he’s, he’s more he’s bigger, but he’s also like better. So the way encoding, especially shirtless and good lighting and flexing, you can have a really easy before after photo and almost anyone

Jeff 53:44
Yeah, I agree. And in this goes back to what we said earlier, right? Like, I think you just hit on this again. But again, women typically have less muscle and then men typically just have more body fat than they think and they need to they need to get that down right again, like I told you at the beginning of this I fell into that trap where I just was like, Oh, I can’t go under certain weight and it’s like that just held me back from not having my best spoken I feel like you end up to get to the body fat levels where I guess necessarily shredded but that legal opinion one like five weeks probably going to be a lot more. It’s going to be opening in there. So I know because for me it was like, you know, this was years ago. I was like one night he was just pushing five, seven body fat, and I decided to kill a certain number of states for the first time. And I was just like, way way smarter. So great
letters. Just have to be satisfied that that happened. So and this goes to this.
Obviously, you’ll want to try to work on a few ratios and we’ll try to make sure that we’re getting we’ll see also that that’s on top. What are some kind of like practical applications here and is it something that you can like maybe improve like over time as well?

Menno 55:43
Yeah, so the ratio is one of those things where it’s kind of like Everything or Nothing depends on how you say it, because everything impacts your P E ratio like doing more volume, having optimized protein intake certain aspects of nutrient timing, not training fasted, for example, post workout nutrition, like not directly be bros but sandwiching the workouts reasonably well. These things all impact the ratio of lean to normally mass, everything that impacts your degree of muscle growth impact up ratio. So it’s kind of everything we see big effects on the B ratio of sleep deprivation, for example, and sleep quality interventions. They improve the B ratio a lot. And everything essentially matters. So everything that we know affects either fat loss or muscle growth, you know, it improves fat loss or muscle growth but also improve your duration. So up ratio is kind of the essence the it’s sort of the final metric of how effective your entire program is.

Jeff 56
No, I like that. It all you know you’d be given a disservice if you just said one thing was more important than the other. So I guess maybe then from this standpoint, is there something like what about like rate of gain because I feel like that’s probably where people screw up. Like obviously everyone knows sleeps important needle protein and takes important like you said those things are gonna push muscle growth and that’s gonna help the P E ratio but I would imagine that where people get screwed up here with this is like rate of gain, like they just really try to like go on bulking, so I’m just gonna frickin push that weight as quickly as I can.

Menno 56:40
Yeah, I think one of the most important determinants is definitely the energy balance factor, where we know that like I said, when when lean bulking you have to keep the energy surplus kept at a very narrow level, which is not going to be a big surplus. And the more advanced you are, the more muscle you have, the harder it is to gain muscle, the less muscle you can gain. So the smaller your productive energy surplus becomes. And above that, the ratio the P ratio very quickly deteriorates. It’s mostly going to be fat that you gain so the energy is plus is a huge factor. Similarly, when cutting, we know that there is a sort of optimum level of energy deficit, and if you go beyond that, you’re gonna lose a lot more muscle. So there’s a level where maybe you can even be calm, and then there’s a level where, okay, now fat loss is accelerated maybe at the expense of muscle growth, but fat loss is is optimized. And then a certain point, we’ve seen some research that the muscle loss increases so much that they actually lose less fat. There’s a study by golf at all where this happened, like the 30% death could result in less fat loss than 20% which is crazy. It’s totally not the case research, but it might be attributable to the 40% group losing muscle whereas the 20% because gaining muscle, so yeah, one group was recapping essentially. And the other group was just losing a lot of mass including some muscle mass.

Jeff 57:50
And that 30% They were just they were just losing more muscle whereas the people with 20 they had enough energy to where like you said they were gaining so many body mass in that process.

Menno 58:00
Any muscle that you use is about don’t lose because the energy only goes out of your body.

Jeff 58:02
What do you do when you made yourself that do you think that to when you your body is going to be a little bit more thrifty in terms of losing muscle versus fat as well or anything? It really doesn’t care. What do you mean, like in that case, when you go to like larger deficit, do you is the body going to be a little bit more hesitant to like okay, hey, we’re not going to maintain our muscle like it’s just doesn’t want to lose muscle as much as it would like fat like it’s gonna be a little bit more resistant to lose muscle.

Menno 58:32
The bigger the energy deficits, the more muscle you’re gonna lose. So with when you’re an energy deficit, you can think of it as you have two factors pulling on the muscle is number one and the energy deficit and you’re telling your body look, we need to get rid of some energy in our body. We can either get rid of fat or muscle, roughly speaking, the body couldn’t be much better from your heart or an orange. So it prioritizes based on importance and the importance of this, you you it gives it is imposed by you with the strength training, because the strength training says look the muscle mass we needed, because without that the muscle the body would just look at that big biceps and be like, well, we have this big bicep sitting around that’s not really doing anything. And it’s very energetically costly to maintain that because it’s not just energy that’s there, but it also costs energy to maintain it. And every time you move your biceps you’re expending more energy than you have to so then the body’s like, well, the bicep was a training you have the opposite stimulus where you say now we need the biceps and therefore the bicep. Okay, we’ll take the fat.

Jeff 59:45
Gotcha. Yeah, so again, sending that signal is super important there to to maintain it, but at that it does at some point be like, Okay, we just got to figure out what’s more important. You’re having a big bicep or just getting enough energy to keep you alive and like you said, shoot the more important things rolling so cool, man. Oh, we’re here at the top of the hour. So appreciate your time. Is there anywhere where you would like to lead audience to or anything coming up for you that you want to

pleasure as always, yeah, I’m mostly active on Instagram and YouTube these days. Do more on YouTube. So look forward to producing more like longer form high quality video content. Got like studio setup and everything now. I look forward to doing more of that. Cool. Yeah, definitely have to check out that YouTube channels and aware until we talked before the episode that you were alluding to a lot more so cool. Awesome. No, well appreciate your time. As always, I had a couple other questions and whatnot. I wanted to get to but we ended up just hammering away at that P ratio. I thought that was a really good topic. So thanks again for your time, and we’ll talk to you next time.



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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.

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