September 3, 2020
[00:01:48] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:49] Guest Introduction
[00:06:25] Milos' Interest on Muscle Growth
[00:16:00] Ideas and Theories Put into Real-World Practice
[00:27:31] Podcast Sponsors
[00:29:45] Substances Used Alongside EAAs During Training
[00:37:15] Proper Timing and Dosage of Supplementation Before and During A Workout
[00:42:00] Diet for Optimal Training
[00:45:45] Supplementation During the Workout
[00:49:14] How Post-Workout Supplement Differs from The Pre-, And During-Workout
[00:54:05] Carnosine Strategy
[00:57:10] Milos' Training During His Peak Vs. Now
[01:10:05] Essential Essential Amino Acids
[01:13:22] Closing the Podcast
[01:13:53] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:
Milos: When you are younger, yeah, you would just be careless and you just go heavy and push to the limit. Well, the human body is not really designed to be pounded like this. You think it's healthy breaking down constantly, repeatedly, do daily twice a day, and it's not going to affect your even lifespan. But, it's maybe not necessary for a pencil neck in university and just considering. You don't really need it. So, if you ask me and he is ready to bet, I would be ready to bet my life.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral, living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Welcome. Welcome to the show. I thought that I would be really friendly and tender-hearted and kind and loving in today's podcast introduction, kind of like a summer Santa Claus, mostly just because, I don't know, I felt happy this afternoon. And now, I feel like I'm super annoying, so I'm going to go back to being the gritty, mildly grumpy, Ben Greenfield. No, I'm just kidding. It's me. Sorry, you guys. I'm in a weird mood today.
So, anyways, my guest today is a guy who was introduced to me by my friend and former body-builder, Ben Pakulski. This guy's name is Milos Sarcev. Milos was absolutely amazing and intriguing. And, I really think you're going to dig today's podcast because pre-workout, during workout, post-workout nutrition and we geeked out hard.
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Alright, folks, when it comes to pre-enduring and post-workout nutrition, there's probably no population on the face of the planet who has been as immersed in that sector from a very detailed and, often, like an early biohacker type of approach standpoint than the bodybuilding community. And, I have one of the best body-builders of all time on the show with me today, Milos Sarcev, to discuss his approach to pre, during, and post-workout nutrition, because, amongst body-builders, he, actually, is very much recognized as the go-to guy for nutrition coaching and is, himself, a real, real expert in some ways that you can maximize recovery, maintain anabolism, and train with specific nutrients in your bloodstream to maximize your results.
He's also a strength conditioning coach. He's a contest preparation consultant and considered to be one of the prominent authorities on nutrition and the human body. As a matter of fact, in the body-building industry, some people call him “The Mind.” So, his list of accolades in body-building is absolutely tremendous, and his methods of training in hormone manipulations for achieving what he calls a hyper-anabolic state and maximal hypertrophy are practiced by, literally, millions of trainees around the world. You've probably been influenced by this guy's work if you have ever stepped foot in a gym. And, he's been doing this since he was 17 years old. He's 56 years old now. Formerly, from Yugoslavia, and also known as Serbia, of course, now. And, he went from judo to karate to swimming to soccer to basketball onto body-building by the time he was 17 years old, and, from there, wound up winning multiple titles on the national and on the international scene. He has won the Amateur Mr. Universe competition as well. And, again, his list of accolades go on and on. So, everything that we discuss in today's show, you can find over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Milos. That's M-I-L-O-S, Milos, which is Milos's first name, of course. So, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Milos. Milos, welcome to the show, man.
Milos: Ben, thank you so much for this invitation. I really appreciate it. I listen to your podcast. I've seen your website. I see your YouTube. I agree with pretty much everything that you are saying normally. So, when you contacted me and you want to discuss exactly this anabolism, anabolic phase, that I create the miracle during a training, which I believe I really pioneered, because I don't know anybody before me actually applying anything similar to.
And, I'm going to be honest and say that this is actually not my idea. That was an idea that came from my brilliant father who was a doctor of science of neuro-psychiatry who, since the childhood, always encouraged me to think with my own head everything I see and I read and I hear I have to question it and challenge it and see if it makes sense. And, in one of those times, when I was telling him about my hypertrophy training and body-building, he just randomly questioned me. So, he told me, “Okay, can you please explain me how do you build muscle?” At that time, that was early '80s, of course, just reading literature that you can get in exercise physiology. “What can you say?” “We're going to just go to the gym, have an excruciatingly intense workout. We're going to break down the muscle fibers. We're going to deplete the ATP. We're going to deplete the glycogen storage, lose amino acids. And, all this is going to trigger our body to replenish everything and create that hypertrophy.” And, to my surprise, immediately, he started laughing and said, “What do you mean?” So, he says, “Okay, let's do this.” He brought a sledgehammer from a basement, and he said, “You want to break down your room?”
Ben: A sledgehammer.
Milos: Sledgehammer, I'm serious. And, I'm saying this so people can, maybe, visualize it. And, here I am, 17 years old. My father, of course, is academic. But, he was always quite sarcastic, but I didn't still get it. “What do you mean by this?” “It's okay, just break down the room. And then, let's rebuild it. And then, when you rebuild it, let's break it again and again and again.” He said, “What is the point? Do you want to break it down, catabolize? Or, do you want to build it up, anabolize?” So, it's okay. That triggered a little bit of my attention. But, again, even though you have the most brilliant father, somehow, when we are teenagers, you don't really want to listen to them. I don't know what is that rebellious thing in all the teenagers.
Initially, I didn't want to really listen to what he had to say, but, after a couple of weeks, I went back and said, “So, what is that you suggest?” And, at that time, he told me very specifically, “Do you know how much blood you have in your body?” Of course, I didn't have any clue. I was a kid. So, he said, “You have a five, six liters, or let's say, 7%, 8% of your body weight. And, you understand that, right now, at this moment of rest, you, maybe, have a 10% of that blood in your muscle.”
Ben: Now, this is what your dad was telling you?
Milos: Yeah, that's what my dad was telling me. So, to visualize, he always wanted to be so descriptive so I can, maybe, visualize it, see it. And then, I always use his favorite quotation, which is my favorite quotation from Socrates, “I cannot teach you anything but I can make you think.” So, he wanted to trigger my thinking process to what he's going to say. So, if I have a 10% of the blood in a muscle at rest, and then, I go to the gym and I start doing these crazy workouts, increased blood flow to the muscle is going to reach astonishing 70% more, maybe even more inexact muscle fibers of a muscle that I'm training. So, he says, “Do you understand that you need once in a day opportunity or twice in the day if you train twice that you're going to deliver all this blood into the working muscle?” “It's okay, Doctor. It makes some sense. Yeah, I understand. But, so what?”
Ben: And, your dad, by the way, was he a scientist or was he an exercise enthusiast? Or, what was his background?
Milos: He was a doctor science of neuro-psychiatry. So, he was a doctor but he was the most read, educated intelligent guy.
Ben: So, he certainly understood the shift of blood volume to working muscle during training.
Milos: And, to be fair, he was, maybe, athlete, but I never consider him exercise scientist. So, of course, for that reason, like I said, teenagers would want to say, “What do you know? I would much rather listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger than what you're going to say.” But, when he made a point of saying, “Imagine if you would have pre-digested, so ready for uptake, all the anabolic anti-catabolic beneficial nutrients in your blood, and then, during a training, this blood is going to, now, go to your working muscle, and each muscle contraction that you do, whichever exercise, however you do it, would create an uptake of these nutrients into the exact muscle fiber that you want? Providing you also trigger anabolic hormones that would enhance that insulin. For example, if you would create in a blood hyperglycemia which would cause hyperinsulinemia. And then, you would have a hyperaminoacidemia. You're going to have everything that you want that is beneficial and nothing that can actually be detrimental. Would it be beneficial, or that would make no sense?” That was his question to me.
And, of course, immediately, it made sense to me, but nobody was really doing this at that time. So, it's like, “Well, okay, that's your theory.” And, of course, a few days later, that was just bothering me because I was so deeply thinking about it. And then, I decided, in Serbian pharmacies at that time for renal patients, there were pharmaceutical grade essential amino acids that you can get on a prescription. And, to be completely honest, as a teenager, I stole my father's prescription notebook and I learned how to say that in the Latin language, “necesse est,” and write my own prescriptions. So, I went to so many pharmacies and I get the lots of those essential amino acids.
Ben: So, you had to go to a pharmacy to get essential amino acids to experiment with what your dad was telling you?
Milos: Yes. That's 1980s. 1980s, you didn't have a supplement companies producing any kind of amino acids. This is just strictly for medical use.
Ben: This would have been the equivalent today of if you were to get ASARMs or a peptide or something like that that was not sold for human consumption, but that you picked up from a chemical website. Back when you were using essential amino acids, that's what you had to do.
Milos: Yeah, correct. It was prescription only. It wasn't over-the-counter. But, to make long story short, I got this dextrose and I got the essential amino acids. And, I started using it and the results that I was getting, I mean, instantly within days, it was mind-boggling to me. If I can say this on your podcast, at that time, I was 100% natural. I was a natural athlete. I didn't even think of any enhancements. And, I actually came all the way to America in 1987 and competed in Miss Universe contests drug-free, not knowing anything about anabolics and not wanting to take them because I wanted to do it naturally. I wanted to do it the right way, just to make sure.
But, again, for people to understand the improvement that I was making, I was actually being accused of taking anabolic steroids at the time, and I didn't know, A, from anabolic steroids. And, that was all due to this increased hyperemia blood-saturated [00:14:24] _____ with those.
Ben: Yes, that's a technical term for what you've described. Hyperemia is the increase in blood flow to skeletal muscle. By the way, it's pretty profound that your father was aware of that, because it wasn't even until after the '80s when we realized how profound pretty much the entire increase in cardiac output during exercise is all for skeletal muscle blood flow, and the amount of milliliters per minute that increases to muscle during tissue is way, way higher than anybody thought it was until we started looking at studies.
In 2015, they came out with a big study. It's on PubMed now, I'll link to in the show notes for people who want to read it, about the regulation of increased blood flow to muscles during exercise. And, it pretty much out-competes any physiological need. The blood shift to muscle during exercise via this mechanism what you call hyperemia is dramatic.
Milos: Yes. I can tell you, actually, since then, I was researching because I was doing some presentations in Cuba and in Russia, Hyperemia Advantage System, and I had to come up with all these numbers, as you said now, so many milliliters per minute per 100 grams of muscle.
So, for people to understand, in a rest period, it's usually only three, four milliliters per minute in 100 grams of muscle. During the exercise, that goes 50-fold, like 100 to 200 milliliters per minute per 100 grams of muscle. And, highest recorded that I found in the literature was 400 milliliters. It's almost a half-liter of blood going through the 100 grams of muscle in one minute.
So, this is just mind-boggling for me. Now, when you think about this kind of hyperemia and increased blood flow, I was saying this in my advertisements back in 2001, I did the Flex magazine article. It was called, “magic workout drink,” when I was explaining this. And then, 2006, I created the my first pre-intra and post-workout supplementation. I was even implementing all this theory of hyperemia, putting all this into the muscles and measuring how much can really any of my athletes improve.
And, I'm talking about professional body-builders. Now, maybe, your average listener right there is not going to extremes. Maybe, they're just normal people. So, I'm talking about extreme of the extreme, pro-bodybuilders that make living off of bodybuilding. They have reached a certain level of development and plateaued. They could not make another pound of muscle. And then, just changing this only parameter of introducing intra-workout supplementation, saturating the blood with all these nutrients, and delivering, they create astonishing results to the point that people wondering, how is this even possible?
And, if you follow body-building, I don't know if you know the names, but Nasser El Sonbaty was one of the guys that, out of nowhere, became a top three Mr. Olympia competitor. He really blew up over 30 pounds in a few months between the competitions. And then, there was Dennis James. There was Dennis Wolf, Gustavo Badell, many guys that I worked with. How in the body-building industry, it goes, they would also always want to contribute to something else? But, now, these pro bodybuilders were doing everything else before anyway. The only difference was that, now, that will apply this hyperemia advantage system, so creating anabolic phase each and every day when we train.
Ben: I want to stop for just a second because I have just a few questions I don't want to forget. Before you move on to what you were going to explain. First of all, this concept of increased skeletal muscle blood flow and the fact that it's increasing to this significant extent during exercise, based on this concept of hyperemia. Those studies were done in the absence of vasodilatory substances. So, I'd be curious if the addition of a pre-workout vasodilatory substance, arginine, citrulline, watermelon, beet, anything like this, would actually increase that hyperemia to an even greater extent. If you're trying to deliver certain nutrients, like essential amino acids, into muscle tissue during a workout, have you used a vasodilatory substance to actually increase that delivery even more?
Milos: Absolutely. I didn't do the double-blind university study, but, immediately, everything that made sense, I would include it. So, five grams of citrulline, three grams of arginine. I would do two, three grams of beta-alanine. Anything that I found useful. But, as you say, vasodilation happens itself by a working muscle. But, can any of these supplements further increase vasodilation? Absolutely.
Again, I'm not a lab scientist that can say, “I had proved this test.” But, I always say, you don't really need to prove that water is wet, the grass is green, and sky is blue. You open your eyes and think about it and see it. So, in my pre-workout supplementation, I would use vasodilating, nitric oxide boosting, maximally concentrated essential amino acids inside the blood pool, electrolytes, everything that I found useful at that time. But, I was going to touch the subject of-
Ben: Wait, wait. Just one more question before you touch on that subject. One other thing that comes to mind here is blood flow restriction training. And, I don't know if you've looked at that at all, but, obviously, with blood flow restriction training, you would be limiting hyperemia during exercise. And then, once the cuffs are removed, you get this excess of blood in the blood vessels that form causing the cell swelling. That's so notoriously associated with the pump that you get from after BFR. Do you think that would be more of a scenario where you would actually target, I guess, post-workout nutrients more than intra-workout nutrients, because really, during BFR training, you're not getting a lot of blood flow to the muscle. There's some venous return that occurs. But, then, in a scenario like that, you would potentially take this same strategy you're outlining, but, then, do your large bolus of, let's say, essential amino acids, for example, once you've removed the cuffs, if you were doing something like BFR or KAATSU training. Is that kind of a decent thought pattern?
Milos: Yeah. I was exposed to it early 2000, maybe, '01, 2002 I was in Japan. And, I think the inventor of that was in my seminar. And then, he talked about it. And, I told him at that particular time that this didn't really make much sense to me. So, he wanted to experiment with me. And, I trained together with this is MMA superstar from Japan, Hayato Sakurai. So, we trained that day. We did arms and we did the legs with this blood flow restriction.
It was a new experience, for sure. I did get a pump, but it really contradicts my whole theory of supplying the blood as we train. So, when you're restricting it, what I'm really accomplishing. But, I'm going to tell you this much, I experimented throughout the years off and on. I would start my training without restriction. I would create a pump and cell swelling. Then, second, third rotation, let's say my giant sets for a particular body part, arms or legs, I would restrict it, just so I can release it again for my last set. I don't know if you're familiar with the giant set rotations. Giant sets are when you apply four or more exercises back-to-back without rest, same muscle group.
I've seen some studies a lot of people doing this occlusion training, and, a lot of people are proponents for it. But, for me, especially after I've seen that you can create some vascular damage, and, basically, even thrombosis, I was pushed away from that. So, I don't really, at this time, practice anymore. I did up until a few years back, like 2017. After that, still, I'm true to my method. And, my method makes more sense to me.
So, just to answer your question, should I find blood flow restriction beneficial for post-workout cell-swelling? I think I achieved this, and, by far, exceed in my principle of hyperemia advantage system which would be creating anabolic phase during a training, creating maximum protein synthesis stimulus and degradation inhibition by having all these nutrients being taken in between sets. So, you're maintaining a glycemia. You're drinking it between sets. You're constantly bringing essential amino acids, glucose, electrolytes that you have, so you would have it available. As you know, muscle needs glucose for contraction. And, it's accepted throughout the year.
So, yeah, we can have a muscle glycogen or you can have a gluconeogenesis. Your body can produce the glucose. That's why carbohydrates are not essential nutrients, anyway. But, for body-builders, we're not talking if it's essential or not, I'm talking about minimal, optimal, or maximal results. And, as I'm talking about maximum results always, let's face it, all of us in all aspects of life, if you do something, we want to have maximum results. It doesn't matter what it is. But, if you're talking about training now, you are exposing yourself through this extreme stress and effort, do I want to maximize results, or I just want to maintain something?
So, I realized that bringing the glucose into the play during a workout that I would have that constant flow of glucose delivery so I don't have to deplete my glycogen, I don't have to create gluconeogenesis and amino acids being converted in liver to deliver that glucose, because the glucose is so needed and so overwhelmingly used during a training, which if I can bring, I'm sure that is a gentleman that you know very well, Charles Poliquin.
Ben: Oh, yeah.
Milos: Same coach from Canada. We are very good friends. And, we did the seminars from early '90s together. The way I actually got introduced to him is I read some of his studies that he would take 200 grams of glucose immediately after the training. And, at that time, of course, for me, it's like, “Why would you do that?” So, he was explaining, just to dump all this glycogen back into the muscle, because his estimation of glycogen depletion during an intense workout would be close to 200 grams. And, even at that time, I told him my theory, which he didn't want to accept it, all the way up until, maybe, seven, eight years ago when he finally told me, “Milos, you were right all this time,” that for hypertrophy having a hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, hyper amino acid during a workout when you're doing all these crazy workouts and have a different stimulus and you have a myofibril and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy potential right there, would be beneficial. So, this is why I start implementing this glucose into the workouts.
Ben: That makes sense. I have a couple of other questions here, just from a logistical standpoint. And, I also want to ask you about the form of glucose that you're using to maximize the delivery of these nutrients into the bloodstream. So, first of all, when you're talking about taking advantage of hyperemia by enhancing the delivery of something like essential amino acids into tissue during the workout itself, your entire concept, really, in a very beautiful and elegant way, just essentially comes down to feeding the muscle groups you're training with what's in your blood as you're training. But, are you talking about actually having, for example, a shaker cup with you while you're training, and, as soon as you finish a set, you're kind of taking a sip of, say, these essential amino acids combined with some of the other ingredients that we'll get into, and then, going on doing your next set, taking another sip, etc.? Is it literally like taking a little bit in between each set?
Milos: Exactly. That's literally the concept of the intra-workout supplementation, that you would sip throughout the workout and, ideally, finish, let's say, 10 minutes before the workout. So, idea of an intra-workout supplementation is to maintain levels of glucose and amino acids in between sets, making them readily available for the uptake.
Ben: Hey, I want to interrupt today's show, and, it's probably not going to surprise you for me to say this. It's brought to you by essential amino acids, because I thought, what the hell? These things are so amazing. Milos, obviously, likes them. I like them. I have for years. So, why not give you, guys, a big fat discount on amino acids? Well, I have you as a captive audience. So, the blend that I use is that Kion. It is pure plant-based essential amino acids. It covers all your bases. And, as you've just found out, if you throw this stuff in a shaker cup and drink it in between sets at the gym, there is a new way to use it that I've begun experimenting with since interviewing Milos, it is a game-changer. Holy cow. I've actually also been combining it with blood flow restriction training.
And, also, holy cow, I feel like my biceps are going to explode when I'm doing this. I've been using it with the full body, arms and legs, BFR workouts, and, also, when I use that Vasper exercise contraption, and it's pretty cool. I never would have thought of this until Milos told me about it. So, try Kion Aminos and try them while you're actually working out. Total game-changer. You get 10% off. Go to GetKion.com. GetK-I-O-N.com and use code BEN10 at GetKion.com.
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What form of glucose are you using in that shaker bottle along with essential amino acids?
Milos: So, this is a very good question, and I'm sure you're going to appreciate it. I was probably the first guy that wrote the article in Flex magazine, also, about high-molecular-weight glucose polymers, namely, Vitargo, at the time.
Milos: Vitargo, yes.
Ben: I'm familiar with that, by the way, sorry to interrupt you again, because I've used that quite a bit. So, with endurance athletes who I coach who I want to maintain a relative state of ketosis during exercise, I'll have them use, primarily, preferably, ketones, but MCT oil if they can't afford or don't have access to ketones, combined with essential amino acids combined with electrolytes during their endurance performance. But, then, I'll use, typically, about one half to one-quarter of the amount of carbohydrates normally recommended for endurance sports.
And, my recommendation for that, top of the list, is this Vitargo, just based on the fact that it's such a high-molecular-weight starch, but very, very high glycemic index. It gets pulled into the muscle just because of the low osmolality. It moves through the stomach two to three times faster than any other carbohydrates. So, it absorbs like a sponge in the stomach. And, prior to that, I had recommended a different high-molecular-weight starch called UCAN. And, the problem with that one was people would experience a huge amount of gut fermentation, especially, post-workout. That would give bloating and gas for a long period of time post-workout. And then, when I shifted into making this recommendation for Vitargo instead, that all went away. So, I'm familiar with the use of this high molecular weight starch for endurance sports. But, you're using that with essential amino acids in between each set during the actual workout.
Milos: Yes. Now, I have to ask you. I never heard, what is that, UCAN? Polysaccharide or oligosaccharide? What was that UCAN? What is it?
Ben: The UCAN, I'm trying to remember what the molecular composition of that is. I'm foggy. It's been so long since I've used it. It was originally developed for glycogen storage issues and an actual glycogen storage disease. And then, they started using it for endurance sports, primarily. It's maltodextrin, but it's a different form of maltodextrin. And, I have to look it up because I don't remember the molecular composition of UCAN. And, my apologies to the folks at UCAN or anybody who likes to use that, because some people do just fine with it. But, I was just finding a lot of people would get bloating and gas afterwards due to this so-called super starch utilization that seemed to be completely gone once I shifted them into the use of Vitargo, which is really interesting because they both have low osmolality. But, something about the composition of this superstarch was causing a lot of bloating.
Milos: Well, for that reason, I'm going to tell you I'm going to be completely honest, maybe, it's not the answer that you want to hear, but here is how I started. I started first believing into this osmolarity benefits and a faster gastric emptying by high-molecular whey glucose polymers. And then, I used it with many, many of my athletes. I had a gym here in California. And then, a lot of people come in here. So, what was happening at a certain time, my staff forgot to order the Vitargo and they were, of course, terrified to tell me. So, they were making my pre and intra-workout shakes for all my guys. Specifically, I would tell them, let's say, 75 grams of carbohydrate inter-workout, and they didn't have it, the Vitargo. So, they would just put this simple dextrose.
And, so, three or four days later, of course, I found out what happened. And then, they told me. None of us that used it, I was training with them, actually felt any difference.
Ben: And, it might be, dextrose is derived from corn. And, I do know that the superstarch, it's derived from a corn medium. Whereas, I don't think Vitargo is based on a corn medium. And, that could be the difference, would just be that the carbohydrate used or the starch used as the starter for this is a corn-based medium for that or for dextrose. Do you know what they're using for Vitargo? Is it a potato-based?
Milos: Yeah, potato-based.
Ben: So, that might be the difference, just the potato versus the corn-base.
Milos: For sure. But, then, this, again, made me think. Because, many times, let's say you read the research, I would read the research, and you just want to believe it, and you just take it as it is, “This is the result,” but, what is really interpretation of certain of these studies that they have? Especially, I look at the hypertrophy studies, and so on.
Then, I had to ask myself a question, what do I want to accomplish with any carbohydrate? I want elevated glucose. So, if I take a monomer, monosaccharide dextrose, that doesn't have to convert. It is as it is. You take it, and within three minutes, it's going to show up in your bloodstream after taking it. You're going to have a glucose. And, I want to deliver that glucose to make it available, and, also, to trigger insulin release.
So, if I would take glucose polymer, cyclic dextrins as a popular, there was [00:35:16] before, and, as you mentioned, there was Vitargo and many other formulations. And, I had to answer to my clients, do I really see a benefit to these expensive carbohydrates, that would help them, honestly, truthfully? No, because, again, what do you want to get from the carbohydrate powder that you're getting? Elevated glucose. Are you going to get it from simple cheap dextrose? Yes, you will.
And, now, it was that about this gastric emptying and if it's isotonic, hypotonic, or hypertonic. So I said, “You would create the bloatness and you're going to have the water coming into the blood go into the gut. This is literally speaking two, three minutes difference, which I've seen with the most of my athletes. They might feel a little bit bloated, initially, but, throughout the workout already, body balances. And, from that practical standpoint, I don't have any proof in physiology, done study in university, but, I've seen hundreds of athletes that I prepare, and I use this really myself early '80s, and I applied this in '90s when I turned pro. And, all of my athletes since late '90s are using these protocols.
Ben: And, I did find a decent article that compares the maltodextrin composition versus Vitargo versus UCAN that actually looks at the blood glucose response. Pretty informative article that I'll link to in the show notes. But, it does turn out that the UCAN superstarch, the rate of absorption is remarkably slower than that of Vitargo or even that of maltodextrin. And so, that might be the reason for the fermentation, is that this superstarch hydrothermally modified waxy maize starch. And, again, it was originally used for treatment of glycogen storage disease. I think the slow rate of absorption might be why some people have to deal with fermentation when they're taking that in.
Now, another question would be, when you're consuming something essential like amino acids during the workout, what kind of dosage are you using?
Milos: I, first, supply essential amino acids in the pre-workout. I didn't elaborate to you, my normal pre-intra and post-workout supplementation would be about 30 minutes before the workout I would start to saturate my body with the nutrients that I want to have. So, I don't want to deliver too much. As you know, too much powder would need to be diluted with so much water, so you can't really drink all that at once.
So, first, I would put 10 to 15 grams of EAAs, fortified with extra 5 grams of leucine. I would add 10 grams of glutamine, 5 to 10 grams of creatine, depends on the athlete, 5 grams of citrulline, 3 grams of arginine, 2 to 3 grams of beta-alanine, 2 to 3 grams of L-carnitine, and 2 to 3 grams of electrolytes. I usually use Himalayan salt, just that way. This, I would take 30 minutes before the workout, to 45 minutes.
Then, when I start training I would make an intra-workout shake that I would put 10, 15 grams of essential aminos, sometimes, for bigger guys, 20.
Ben: So, during the course of the entire workout, you're consuming about 20 grams of essential amino acids, from the start to the finish?
Milos: Yeah, during the workout, yes. I did increase with the many pro body-builders, myself included. But, this would be my advice to any listener that wants to create hyper-anabolic state of the body and create anabolism during training, that 20 grams of essential amino acids should be consumed. Some people like to mix 10 grams of essential BCAAs.
Ben: I wanted to ask your take on that, the BCAAs versus EAAs.
Milos: For me, there is no question about it that the EAAs is, by far, superior formulation. As you described in your videos I watched the other day, essential amino acids, these nine essential amino acids, the body cannot manufacture it. And, to complete protein synthesis of any tissue, especially, now, muscle tissue, you're going to have to have all essential amino acids or you're going to stop the process, like a body would synthesize, and whatever is missing, you're going to delay that synthesis until the essential amino acid is needed limited is going to be showing up in your bloodstream.
So, when you supply only isoleucine, leucine, valine branched-chain aminos to the workouts, which was the case in '90s and early 2000s, you're just delivering these three out of nine essential aminos. So, it's, by far, inferior usage. Essential amino acids are complete. BCAA are incomplete essentials, basically, three out of nine.
Ben: So, essentially, in your blend, though, you are adding some leucine along with the essential amino acids to just get a little bit more, is that for the insulinogenic response?
Milos: It does have insulinogenic response, but, you see, at this time, maybe, for your athletes, you don't want insulin spike. For me, every body-builder, anybody that is training with weights and wants to create the anabolism and hypertrophy, we have to boost insulin. Insulin can be a best friend or a worst enemy. Best friend for the athletes that want to create hypertrophy and dumping all these nutrients into the muscle cells of a working muscle during a training. So, I want to be a high insulinemic during the workout. So, everything that potentiates insulin release just contributes to the whole equation.
Ben: Got it. So, during the workout, you've got electrolytes, you've got essential amino acids, you said you have some creatine and glutamine in there, And then, some extra leucine, then, this Vitargo superstarch, and the electrolytes. You're sipping on that during the workout, based on this theory of feeding the muscle groups you're training with what's in your blood. And so, it's between each set you're taking small doses of that. But, based on all that, why wouldn't you also go into the actual workout with high blood levels of amino acids? Are you using anything specific for pre-workout, for example?
Milos: My pre-workout, I already put the essential amino acids with glutamine and leucine. This is a separate shake. This is something that you drink 45 to 30 minutes before the workout. So, I'm already saturated. But, let me expand a little bit more, just to touch the diet.
This is anabolic phase adjusted training, but, my 24-hour diet, the way I structure it is I have a possibility of fat-burning phase, probably, first thing in the morning on empty stomach doing some cardio being able to burn some body fat. And then, I would have a maintenance meal throughout the day until I'm ready to have a workout. And, these maintenance meals should be with your caloric requirement, not to lose, not to gain. This is just to maintain, give enough energy to the body that you need for, let's say, three hours until your next meal. And, it could be with the carbohydrates. It could be just ketogenic. It depends with the athlete. But, this is considered maintenance phase.
When I'm coming close to the anabolic phase, which would be my training, meal before a workout would have to be specific. And, this is when I would already go with pre-workout anabolic meal, which would be high protein low fat and such complex carbs. So, I would already start releasing some slow carbohydrates right there, saturating my blood with carbohydrate. And then, 45 minutes after the meal, maybe, 45 minutes before the workout, so, nearly an hour and a half before training, I would have this pre-workout drink, which saturate already essential aminos and leucine and glutamine with the creatine in everything else that I mentioned.
So, it's already there. My blood is already saturated. But, if I don't take intra-workout also, I'm going to be depleting with each and every set, and, by the end of the workout, it's not going to be a sufficient amount, as I was talking about, maximizing it. I want to maintain essential amino acid level. I want to maintain glucose level. That's why I add this intra-workout that I'm sipping throughout the workout.
Ben: It'd be interesting, too, I don't know if you've thought about this at all, to consider the addition of ketone bodies for the glycogen sparing effect, and, also, because of the fuel availability for heart, for liver, for diaphragm. Have you looked into ketone body supplementation at all?
Milos: Yes, I did. I tried it myself, ketone salts. And, I, actually, even had a sample of the ketone esters. But, of course, I would never taste it again in my life because it was the grossest thing I've ever tried.
Ben: They'll completely destroy the flavor of any smoothie or any drink that you add them to. But, the interesting thing is they do provide an alternate fuel substrate. And, the interesting thing is there's some resources that have been done on blunting of overreaching or overtraining symptoms when you add ketone esters into the equation that could be due to its effect on inflammatory pathways, but, it may be working on some other physiological pathways to, actually, reduce symptoms of overreaching or overtraining, which is another reason I suspect it could be a decent addition to this stack that you're using.
Milos: It could be. I'm very open to it. I actually talked to [00:45:03] _____ from Optimal Effects. We did a seminar together, and he was high on that. So, adding some exogenous ketones pre and intra-workout could make very well sense to further enhance this plan. I was just satisfied with the results that I'm having, and, really, when you're putting 75 grams of glucose intra-workout, it's quite a bit of powder. Then, adding amino acids to create isotonic solution, you have to drink one liter and a half. Sometimes, two liters of water with it.
Ben: Yeah, that makes sense. To play devil's advocate here, when we look at gastric emptying, gastric emptying is going to influence, and, sometimes, delay by 15 to 30 minutes what you consume in terms of the length of time that that actually takes to appear in the blood and make its way into the muscle fibers, as you've discussed. And so, based on that, and, also, the fact that blood flow to the GI tract during intense exercise, particularly, is reduced, and, that could further increase the time it takes for things to show up in the blood. I'm just curious, why not just take all this stuff before training, rather than continue to supplement during training if it's going to take a long time based on gastrointestinal emptying for it to appear in the bloodstream?
Milos: That was the whole theory. Before that, I had to consider it, and, yes. But, then, I was saying, what is physiologically really happening? Think about this. Right now, you have 20 grams of essential amino acids pre-digested in an elemental state ready for uptake and you have a 75 grams of dextrose into your stomach. Would it sit there, really, for 30 minutes before it goes into the bloodstream? And, you can very easily find out this if you bring yourself to hypoglycemic state.
So, let's say if you cause elevate your insulin that would drop your blood sugar level down, if glucose is not released from the stomach, you would go hypoglycemic 100% percent, for sure. Therefore, I realized, glucose, for sure, would find a way into the bloodstream, regardless of even how hypertonic that drink would be. I understand that you're reading this gas accounting studies and they would say it would be delayed, but, it would not be completely inhibited. It would be a slow leak of the glucose into the bloodstream, maintaining the blood sugar levels.
And, I can confirm this because I also use exogenous insulin to prove that point, if I would use it and the glucose would be stuck in the gut, I would go into deep hypoglycemic state. But, the glucose does go into the bloodstream and maintains glycemia. So, I understand. I read the same studies. And, this is what I want to tell you, study had to be interpreted, and then, maybe, challenged. So, I understand all this stuff. This is what we had on the paper, but, let me apply this because I always say that one gram of practice can be much heavier than ton of theory.
Theorists, they would just have this on a paper, but, did you really try it? So, I'm all this. And, Ben Pakulski as well, we use that slogan, “Challenge everything you know.” So, yeah, I understand that this gastric emptying can be delayed, and, I consider it, but, then, I say if it's delayed completely, it's inhibited completely. Now, you're training, usually, one hour or hour and a half for pro-body-builders, so, even if it's delayed at 20, 30 minutes, like I said, I would still find the use because you're going to train for hour and a half. So, eventually, it's going to be released. But, from my practice, I think I said this in the beginning of the interview, the delay, really, I found it three to five minutes in reality.
Ben: That makes sense. Now, also, the post-workout nutrition. From what I understand, you're also doing a post-workout kind of shake that is of similar composition to what we've discussed, like the creatine. But, I believe you shift to something like a whey protein and continue to include the Vitargo starch post-workout. And then, some additional glutamine. Is that correct?
Milos: Yeah. So, to complete this hyper-anabolic state, again, I say hyper-anabolic, so, maximize everything, I would continue to deliver a sufficient amount of protein to ensure protein synthesis, muscle protein synthesis. And, I would continue to deliver carbohydrate to replenish glycogen, both in liver and muscle, as that anabolic window of opportunity. It is, the highest is, really, in about an hour after the workout, even though, now, there are some studies that say this is just a myth. It doesn't work.
Ben: Well, yeah, that's what Alan Aragon is now arguing, that the recommendation to spike insulin post-workout is somewhat trivial based on the fact that, if you've had a pre-workout meal, or, in your case, an intra-workout meal, that the insulinogenic effect of the pre-workout or the intra-workout meal dictates that your insulin levels remain elevated for, approximately, two hours post-exercise higher if you have essential amino acids in your bloodstream. Therefore, the prioritization of a carbohydrate and protein-based post-workout meal becomes pretty unimportant, really, and this appears to be the exception, unless you are going to be working out again within about eight hours, in which case, replenishment of muscle glycogen levels is going to be enhanced to a certain extent with that post-workout feeding. What are your thoughts on that argument?
Milos: I completely disagree, because, regardless of spiking the insulin before and intra-workout, further spiking insulin post-workout would be detrimental to protein synthesis and glycogen repletion. Of course, I'm talking maximizing. He says, it's not necessary. Well, it's maybe not necessary for a pencil neck university and just considering, you don't really need it. The same thing, how much protein do we need? Do we really need this much protein? RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilo. We don't need more. That's what you read.
We are not talking a reference range for average person that is not doing intense workouts or for pro body-builders or for anybody that want to maximize the results. So, if you ask me and the gentleman that you mentioned and he is ready to bet, and I would be ready to bet my life, what would be more anabolic, spiking still insulin post-workout as well having easily accessible amino acids from, let's say, hydrolyzed whey protein that would be available shortly? Carbohydrate intake, you can even take some fructose at that time with your polysaccharides. So, you need to replenish the liver glycogen as well. So, 30% of your carbohydrate intake could be fructose, 70% glucose. You would replenish a glycogen, as you said. If I trained second time a day, that would be more effective for him. Yeah, that's very important, because you need to be ready for next workout. But, even if you don't work out the second time, what would be more glycogen-replenishing if you do take carbohydrates post-workout with protein or if you don't take it because you already had sufficient amount into the workout?
These gentlemen have never done two extremes. I have done it. I already experimented this because a lot of people would have that idea, “I don't really need a post-workout.” So, I tested. I'm not talking about two, three, five people. I had probably over 1,000 clients in the last 20-something years. And, my athlete's top-level professionals and amateur body-builders. Their goal is, really, that physique enhancement. How much more muscle mass we can create? How much more body fat we can lose? How much glycogen we can super-compensate? Unequivocally, I would claim this, not to argue with the gentleman, just from my experience throughout the 30-something years of training, post-workout anabolic window matters, even if you have super-saturated nutrients before an intra-workout like I do, that's additional. That's adding to the equation. And, 1 plus 1 is 2 plus 1 is 3. So, I would always want a three rather than two if I want a maximum.
Ben: That makes sense. And, obviously, it seemed to be working for you and the people that you coach, quite a bit.
Now, one other thing before I actually ask you a little bit about training here would be, something that's getting a lot of attention right now in the literature is carnosine, which is, technically, a dipeptide, an amino acid. Honestly, it's often recommended to be taken in isolation so it doesn't compete for absorption with some of these other amino acids like essential amino acids or whey. And, from what I understand, you actually do use carnosine to a certain extent, but, I'm curious about how you're using or timing something like carnosine in this equation, or if that's not true and you're not using it.
Milos: Yeah, I do use it. Actually, it was popular, believe it or not, even in '80s in the Eastern European countries. First time I talked to, again, Charles Poliquin, and I talked to him about it and he says, yeah, he heard about it and it. Absolutely, it improved exercise performance by all means. And then, have all this anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, anti-glycation properties, and everything. So, he would always recommend it. But, using a carnosine itself would have to go through the gut to be broken down again into the beta-alanine and histidine.
So, what would be more productive? This is why this beta-alanine supplementation came about. And, as I said, I use it pre-workout because I do believe, in essential amino acid formulation, already, you have a histidine and you're adding beta-alanine would be considerably better than actually using carnosine itself. I do have carnosine. I use from Design of Health. I would use 1,000 milligrams a day separately in the morning time with my breakfast without my intra-workout supplementation. But, I would use beta-alanine and histidine combination rather than having a carnosine itself.
Ben: And, by the way, when it comes to the actual absorption of carnosine, I've been digging into it a little bit. I started to look into it when some companies sent me something called LactiGo, which is a carnosine-based lactic acid buffer, but, it's a transdermal formula, for transdermal administration of carnosine. When I looked at literature on this, it actually looks like transdermal bioavailability of carnosine. It's pretty impressive. Have you looked into transdermal application?
Milos: Not for carnosine. I never have seen that one. That could be interesting, especially, if it's efficient delivery, then, yes, because it bypasses the gut.
Milos: That would be something this is first time I ever heard.
Ben: Apparently, they've done a lot of research in the race horsing industry, and now, it's kind of spilling over into the sports performance industry. But, yeah, transdermal carnosine gel appears to be very well absorbed compared to oral absorption. So, something to look into for the carnosine effect. And, that would be ideally applied pre-workout, really, especially, if you're doing a highly glycolytic workout such as body-building, for example. It's something I wish had existed when I was messing around with bodybuilding because I probably would have used it quite a bit.
Now, speaking of body-building and the actual workouts themselves, I would love to touch a bit on what your actual training looked like in the peak of your career, or what it looks like now in terms of what a weekly split would look like for you. I know you're well-known, you and our friend, Ben Pakulski, for having some pretty soul-crushing leg days, for example. So, I'm curious if you could walk me through what a weekly split would look like for you. And then, also, for example, if you want to dig into an actual workout and what your workout style looks like. If you could walk us through the details of something like a leg day.
Milos: Yeah, absolutely. So, first, let me tell you again, if you want to maximize everything, which I always do, I would create a workout that would also be maximally beneficial. It used to be, if you remember back in the day, go heavy or go home hypertrophies only achieved with the heavy-duty training, more weight, more weight, Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, Pumping Iron. I don't know if you follow this. Mike Mentzer, Arthur Jones. It would be just myofibro hypertrophy is the only way to go.
Then, throughout the years, I've met a lot of other athletes, bodybuilders, phenomenal [00:58:28] _____ for example, legendary bodybuilder with one of the best physiques in the world. Mohammed Benaziza, [00:58:33] _____ . I actually trained with them, and, I've seen that they're applying more this sarcoplasmic kind of hypertrophy-specific training.
Ben: And, we should clarify for people. Myofibril hypertrophy is when you stimulate your muscles by lifting heavy weights, it causes trauma to the individual muscle fibers. So, the idea is there's an over-compensation that would increase the volume and the density of the injured myofibrils. Whereas, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy would occur when the actual volume of what's called the sarcoplasmic fluid, that's the fluid that contains ATP and glycogen, and creatine, and water, that surrounds these myofibrils, if the volume of that increases, which can also occur as a response of training, it would add muscle volume. It wouldn't grow fibers but would add muscle volume. However, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy would, theoretically, be associated with less functional mass, because you're not improving strength, per se, because there's no change in the actual fiber composition. It's just a change in the fluid composition around the muscle. Is that a fair explanation of the difference in sarcoplasmic versus myofibril hypertrophy?
Milos: Yeah, very accurate. And, you've pin-point it. Now, we do understand that pro-bodybuilders do not need to perform. So, increasing strength is not a primary goal.
Ben: Right, it's just all about how big the muscle is.
Milos: Yeah. Hypertrophy is the main concern. Therefore, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy really finds the way in a pro-body building, which also, let's face it safely, body is not designed to be pounded. Mr. Ronnie Coleman, he was just in a Joe Rogan podcast. I'm sure you saw it. One of the greatest body-builders of all time, for sure, but he had 13 surgeries, hip replacement, back surgeries, neck surgeries, all that stuff.
So, now, as 56-years-old looking back, when you are younger, yeah, you would just be careless and you just go heavy, go heavier, and push to the limits. Well, human body is not really designed to be pounded like this. So, taking care of replenishing as much as you can. And, maybe, applying exactly what I am doing, this anabolic phase. So, supplying the nutrients into a workout. So, you don't have this crazy catabolic activity once or twice a day if you're training two times a day like most of the pro bodybuilders.
Catabolic state, let's say, medically, is always alarming. If you are in catabolism in the hospital, they would try to bring you out of it as soon as possible. So, that's another thing that my father told me, “Do you think it's healthy breaking down constantly, repeatedly, do daily twice a day, and so on, it's not going to affect your even lifespan?” We don't know the studies and theories, but I understand. I would try to prevent catabolism as much as possible.
So, in my training, I like to touch myofibril stimulus by doing two exercises, usually, a bit heavier weight progressive overload. I would, for sure, 100% warm up properly, and, in the first exercise, to describe for you, it doesn't matter if it's chest, back, whichever muscle, I would insist, as Ben Pakulski calls, muscle-centric movement, not movement-centric. So, you're focusing on the muscle. So, eccentrically, you go slow, lowering with the muscle contraction, lengthening your muscle with the control. Pausing, and then, squeezing your way up. So, you don't explode up. You don't just do explosive concentric. You squeeze concentrically as well.
This way, I would bring the blood in. I would send information to my nervous system, “I'm going to be doing this. So, I'm preparing it.” On the second set, I'm going to do progressive overload. I'm going to put a little bit more weight. I'm going to still go slow eccentric, slow concentric. Now, after two sets that I brought the blood into the targeted muscle, I can, maybe, further load the weight and, maybe, do something challenging, 10, 12 repetitions. On the third set, I would go slow eccentrically but explosively concentrically. So, I'm going to go for that power movement. I'm going to go for a heavyweight. In the following fourth set, I would, for sure, go all out. So, I believe that, right now, I'm prepared, I'm ready, so I can now push to the limit in that one set all out. So, usually, six to eight, maybe, 10 reps maximum rep range, possibly, with your training partner spotting you, so having a couple of horse reps.
So, this would be a first exercise for a muscle group that I could go all out, but I prepared myself, contrary to, let's say, Mike Mentzer, Arthur Jones, and Dorian Yates, they would just warm up one set, and then, next set would be all out, which, I think, is injury waiting to happen.
Ben: So, your tempo is, basically, a pretty even up-down movement, but with a hold at the top, almost like, if you look at seconds, a three-second up, two-second hold, three-second–
Milos: Yeah. Actually, I would go, probably, five seconds down, one-second hold, three seconds concentric, and two seconds big contraction.
Ben: So, either way, you're really focusing on the eccentric contraction quite a bit.
Milos: Yeah, I do. But, you see, a lot of people, when you're warming up, I think the slow concentric as well would be a very safe and productive way to establish mind-muscle connection to really feel that muscle. Let's face it, a lot of people train and they don't really feel the muscle. But, if I'm telling you you're doing a bench press and I just tell you, “Bench press it,” your mind is telling your body to your chest and your shoulders and your triceps just to push that barbell off your chest. But, if I tell you, “Now, you do nothing bench press. Now, I want you just to squeeze your packs as hard as you can,” and contraction of the packs is going to actually raise the barbell, and you can have that crazy, not just tension, but maximal tension.
People are talking about time under retension, but they miss out time under maximal tension. There is a different level of contraction. And, this is why I always tell my people in a gym and in the seminars, “I want you to squeeze the juice out of the lemon. I want you to squeeze like a maniac. This kind of muscle contraction, I want you to apply.”
Ben: That's important to highlight. That's why I respect you and Ben Pakulski and this whole idea. Ben calls it muscle intelligence, this idea of actually paying attention to and squeezing, being hyper-aware of the muscles that you're actually targeting as a way to engage in this, well, you get both a myofibrillar and a sarcoplasmic response from that focus. But, so many people will just do the actual movement without this hyper-focus and hyper-awareness of the actual muscle being used.
Milos: They absolutely would. Mow, also, you were talking about the tempo, how many seconds down, how many seconds up. In a myofibril hypertrophy training, I just said the first set, let me just finish with the second set. Second set now for the same muscle group, I would change the angle, change the type of exercise. So, I don't need to warm up anymore. So, my first set would be already 12 repetitions, maybe, to the max. The protocol that I would go, slower centric and slow concentric on the first set. But, the second set, I can go slow and explosive. And then, on the third set, I can go all out. So, it would pretty much be four sets on the first exercise to five and three sets on the second exercise. That would be enough for me to achieve myofibril hypertrophy in this muscle.
Now, I move into the sarcoplasmic. And sarcoplasming is, really, cell-volumization, the crazy pump, as much difference, variety, that I can apply. So, I change the grip, angle, stance, tempo. I utilize a lot of variable tempo. Let's say, if you're going to do 10 repetitions in some exercise, you can go 10 seconds eccentrically on the first rep, nine on the second, eight on the third, seven, and so on. That can be in eccentric phase. It can also be done in concentric phase. It can also be done in a peak contraction in maximally shortened position.
I love to do these kind of things because it's not common. It's not I want to apply this just to be different. I applied because I experienced the great benefits of absolutely mind-boggling pumps in my muscle connection, and I'm feeling that muscle pretty much ripping through the skin. So, my giant sets would be, usually, four different exercises for a muscle group or, maybe, more if you're more advanced. And then, I would change parameters. I would change the tempo. I would change the angle. I would change the number of repetitions.
Just be as creative as you possibly can. Obviously, with my athletes, I look at their physique and see what is the priority. So, let's say we are training chest and we really need to focus on the upper inner chest or lower outer, whatever else, I would design a workout to specify that area more. But, if you are fairly equally developed and aesthetically pleasing, you don't have any disbalances, then, you just ring the intensity through the roof and go for crazy muscle pumps.
Ben: Wow. Man, it's a pretty intense way to train, but this idea of moving more slowly, especially, in the eccentric phase, and focusing on the muscle that you work is a model that I've seen to prove itself over and over again, and again, in folks like you and Ben. And, I think, when combined with some of these very cool ideas of taking advantage of hyperemia by delivering high blood levels of essential amino acids, combining that with something like creatine, high-molecular-weight starch like Vitargo, some electrolytes, and then, also, including something very similar pre-workout, and then, that post-workout window, prioritizing some of the things you prioritize, like a more whey-protein based source, again a high-molecular-weight starch like Vitargo, more creatine, glutamine, it's a pretty cool recipe for muscle growth and hypertrophy.
And, what I'm going to do for folks who are listening in is I'll put the formulas for Milos's shakes and some of the research that we discussed. I brought up a lot of research, a lot of articles, on everything from ketone esters to transdermal carnosine to this concept of hyperemia. And, I'm going to link to all that research in the show notes as well, if you just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Milos, M-I-L-O-S.
Milos, anything else that you want to share with us or share about your approach to hypertrophy, or this idea of feeding the muscles that you're training?
Milos: Well, I think I touched that subject quite successfully. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to talk in detail. I do want to mention one thing because I've seen that you have a great essential amino acid product. A lot of times, I tell people when they ask me, what would be number one most important nutritional supplement for a humankind? I said this zillion times, essential amino acids. And, of course, I'll be honest, what do you mean? So, when we talk about high protein intake, when we talk about body-builders and athletes, taking so much chicken and turkey and fish and beef and whatever, whey protein, why do we take that? We are taking it to get these essential amino acids from that particular protein.
So, people don't, maybe, realize how essential and how much needed essential amino acids really are. So, to this day, I find that a lot of people just put it under the rug, and then, they don't really think about it. So, every time, when I talk to even my relatives that don't know anything about nutrition, they don't like to eat protein, they are vegetarians. Okay, let me give you this supplement, essential amino acids. “Just take with your normal food that you're normally taking, and I guarantee you that your health, your lean body mass, and everything, is going to dramatically increase. You're going to feel better because now, at least, you're going to have that building blocks that you are missing. Of course, if you're vegetarian, you don't have all the animal-complete protein. So, it's a huge benefit to you.” But, for whatever reason, in today's society, protein intake is just diminishing and people are not eating it.
So, for all these people that are not taking it, first thing I would say, you have a tremendous essential amino acid. But, of course, you're not in the business or anything I want listeners to understand, I'm not promoting Ben's product because I have some interest, but I've seen what it is and it's absolutely something that I would highly recommend. Whoever is listening and is not taking essential amino acids, just for the hell of it, get it for one month, don't change anything in your diet, just add to it and see what happens.
Ben: I realize it's expensive, but I'm up to 30 to 40 grams a day now. I've been doing that since kind of this stuck at home COVID pandemic thing. And, I've been combining that with blood flow restriction training, kettlebell training. I've gained muscle. I haven't lost muscle. And, yeah, I think they're like the Swiss army knife for anybody who's an exercise enthusiast. And, I'm glad to see that somebody like yourself is using this approach with these as well. And, since looking into your research, I've started to try dosing them during the actual workout, and I'm definitely noticing a profound pick-up in in the actual set performance, and even the number of reps performed. And, part of that might be, also, I'm doing your whole formula. I'm trying out the creatine as well. So, I realize that might have an impact as well.
Milos: For sure.
Ben: So, I'm going to link to all this, you guys, in the show notes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Milos. Milos, we're out of time, but thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing all this stuff with us, man. It's absolutely fascinating.
Milos: Thank you so much, Ben, for the opportunity. I love your show and I follow you. So, maybe, some of the time in the future, we do it again.
Ben: Yeah, that'd be fun. Maybe, I'll come do a leg day with you someday.
Milos: Yeah, please. Please, do.
Ben: Alright, folks. I'm Ben Greenfield, along with Milos, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the show notes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful, “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormones, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes that I mentioned during this and every episode help to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. So, when you listen in, be sure to use the links in the show notes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
It's time to take a deep dive into all things pre-, post-, and during-workout nutrition to maximize recovery, anabolism, muscle hypertrophy, and much more with Milos Sarcev — one of the top bodybuilders of all time.
Milos was born on January 17, 1964 in Novi Sad, Serbia (former Yugoslavia), grew up in Bečej, and at an early age got involved in numerous sporting activities—participating in judo, karate, swimming, soccer, and basketball tournaments as a teenager. At the age of 17, he was introduced to weightlifting and immediately fell in love with bodybuilding. Four years later, he started competing, entered and won his province title (Mr. Vojvodina), his republic title (Mr. Serbia), and finally national title (Mr. Yugoslavia) before going on to compete on the international scene (Mr. Europe and Mr. Universe). He won the 1989 Amateur Mr. Universe competition and started competing as a professional in the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB).
Milos studied nutritional technology at the University of Novi Sad and moved to the USA in 1987 to pursue his bodybuilding career. In 1989 he won the Amateur Mr. Universe title, in 1991 became an IFBB professional bodybuilder, competing in over 110 bodybuilding shows worldwide (72 of which were IFBB professional competitions), and qualified for the Mr. Olympia contest for 10 consecutive years in the hardest era of bodybuilding (1990s).
After his competitive career, Milos became known for coaching/advising numerous professional athletes and Olympic medalists. He took a part in famous BALCO Labs “Project World Record” as a nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach for Tim Montgomery—creating the fastest man alive by breaking the World Record on the 100-meter sprint (9.77 seconds) after less than 9 months of coaching. As a bodybuilding coach, he advised over 100 IFBB professional bodybuilders, of which 36 qualified for the most prestigious Mr. Olympia competition. He is a renowned international nutritional expert and speaker; professional trainer; and strength, conditioning, and contest preparation consultant with over 35 years of firsthand industry experience.
Milos has become one of the most prominent authorities on nutrition and the human body as relates to athletic performance, earning him the industry moniker “The Mind.” He is considered to be one of the most influential bodybuilders in history, pioneering the usage of specific intra-workout nutritional sports supplementation through his Hyperemia Advantage System, which revolutionized the whole sports supplementation industry. Milos' methods of training and hormonal manipulation for achieving a hyper-anabolic state and maximal hypertrophy are now accepted by millions around the world.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-The background on Milos' interest on muscle growth…6:25
- Milos' father, a doctor of science in neuro-psychiatry, asked questions on how to build muscle (anabolic) vs. tearing it down (catabolic)
- “If you take a sledgehammer to a room over and over, can you keep building it up…”
- Increased blood flow to the muscle will result in up to 70% more muscle fibers in a muscle you're training
- At rest, 10% blood in the muscles
- Trigger anabolic hormones that will enhance insulin levels
- Pharmaceutical grade essential amino acids (EAAs), combined with dextrose resulted in nearly instant and impressive results (prescription was needed to get EAAs in the '80s)
- Was accused of taking anabolic steroids at competitions when competing
- Regulation of Increased Blood Flow (Hyperemia) to Muscles During Exercise: A Hierarchy of Competing Physiological Needs
- 3-4 ml of blood per minute to in 100 g of muscles during normal rested state
- During exercise, this increases to 100-200 ml of blood per minute in 100 g muscles
-Milos' ideas and theories put into real-world practice…16:00
- Milos published a “magic workout drink” recipe in Flex Magazine in 2001
- Created his first pre-, intra-, and post-workout supplementation in 2006
- Introducing these supplements, allowed pro bodybuilders to gain muscle when it was thought they could gain no more muscle
- Use of vasodilatory (vessel widening) substances in the supplements to increase the delivery
- BFR training limits hyperemia during exercise, then a cell “swelling”
- BFR training is contradictory to Milos' philosophy; has used it to supplement “giant set” rotations in the past
- EAAs, glucose, electrolytes (Thorne Catalyte or a pinch of salt) always bioavailable
- Taking glucose immediately after training restores glycogen in the muscles
- Intra-workout supplementation maintains glucose and amino acid levels between sets, making them available for re-uptake
-The substances Milos uses alongside EAAs during training…29:45
- High-molecular whey glucose polymers (Vitargo)
- Vitargo is potato-based starch
- Ketones & EAAs with electrolytes (Thorne Catalyte or a pinch of salt)
- MCT Oil
- Milos' evidence of the efficacy of his practices is anecdotal, not necessarily scientific
- Vitargo vs. UCAN vs. Maltodextrin absorption rates
-Proper timing and dosage of supplementation before and during a workout…37:15
- Pre-Workout (around 30-45 minutes before)
- During Workout
- EAAs are far superior to branch chain amino acids (BCAAs)
- 9 EAAs the body cannot manufacture that are needed to complete protein synthesis
- 3 EAAs in BCAAs (incomplete essentials)
- Insulin can be the best friend or worst enemy, depending on the type of training you're doing
- Bodybuilders who want to get anabolic and hypertrophic boost insulin
-How Milos structures his diet for optimal training…42:00
- Fat-burning phase (early morning)
- Maintenance meals throughout the day until ready for a workout (ketogenic-type carbs)
- Meal before the workout: high protein, low fat, complex carbs
- Pre-workout drink (see above) – 45 minutes after a meal/45 minutes before a workout
- Ketone ester supplementation blunts overreaching symptoms during endurance training overload
-Why supplementation during the workout is necessary…45:45
- Risk of hyperglycemia
- Glucose will make its way to the bloodstream regardless of how hypertonic the drink may be
- “A gram of practice can bear more weight than a ton of theory”
- Ben Pakulski – “challenge everything you know”
- If gastric emptying is delayed completely, it can be inhibited completely
-How post-workout supplement differs from the pre-, and during-workout…49:15
- Post-workout shake (an hour after the workout) to complete the hyper-anabolic state; continue to deliver sufficient amount of protein to ensure muscle protein synthesis; continue to deliver carbohydrate to replenish glycogen, both in the liver and muscles
- Further spiking insulin after the workout will be detrimental to protein synthesis and glycogen repletion
- Practice trumps theory
- The post-workout anabolic window is essential
-Milos' carnosine strategy…54:05
- Carnosine was popular in the Eastern European bodybuilding community in the 1980s
- Histidine naturally present in an EAA formulation
- Beta-alanine combined with histidine would be better than carnosine
- Designs for Health carnosine supplement (1000g in the morning separate from the workout shake)
- LactiGo transdermal carnosine
- Evaluation of the Transepidermal Penetration of a Carnosine Complex in Gel Formulation by 3D Skin Models
-What Milos' training looked like during his peak vs. now…57:10
- Myofibril hypertrophy – stimulating the muscles by lifting heavy weights to cause trauma to the individual muscle fibers; overcompensation that would increase the volume and density of the injured myofibrils
- Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy – occurs when the sarcoplasmic fluid (ATP, glycogen, creatine, water) volume increases; adds muscle volume but not functional mass
- Increasing strength isn't the primary goal of a bodybuilder; the size of the muscle is
- The human body is not designed to withstand the rigors of bodybuilding
- Replenishment, restoration, etc.; supply nutrients while training
- Myofibril stimulus via two exercises; heavy weight, progressive overload
- Warm-up properly, prevent catabolism as much as possible
- First exercise, do muscle-centric movements, not movement-centric
- Go slow eccentrically, lowering with muscle contraction lengthening, pausing, squeezing your way up; don't explode
- Second set, progressive overload (gradually more weight)
- Do slow eccentric, slow concentric
- Third set, further load more weight;
- Go slow eccentrically, explosively concentrically; go for that power movement
- Fourth set, go all out
- Slow concentric during warm-up is essential; feel your muscles; squeeze your muscles; not only tension but maximal tension, what Ben Pakulski calls muscle intelligence
-Why essential amino acids are so…essential…1:10:05
- EAAs – No. 1, most important nutritional supplement; regular protein (fish, chicken, turkey, beef) intake to get EAA
Milos' actual training – Body split workouts, warm-up, and exercise selection:
- I always begin my workout with 10 minutes of cardio, then move to leg extensions to further warm up my muscles, tendons, and ligaments. I take three seconds to raise the weight, two seconds to hold it at the top, and three seconds to complete the negative. Although I don't advocate locking out your knees on squats, lunges, and leg presses, I do recommend fully contracting your quads on leg extensions, and this requires a momentary locking-out of the knee joint.
- I now move to what I consider the king of all exercises: barbell squats. Even though I've already warmed up my quads with leg extensions, I still do two warm-up sets of 10 squats to warm up my hips, glutes, lower back, and calves before my three heavy working sets. My descending speed is still slow, about three seconds, but since squats are a building motion, the ascending motion is more explosive. A lot of people make the mistake of stopping between reps and resting when doing squats, but you must keep continual tension on your muscles for maximal results, and this is achieved by continual motion.
- Next come leg presses. I alternate from week to week between the unilateral and two-leg versions. I see so many people doing 1,000-pound 1-inch leg presses. That won't help you develop anything. For both single- and double-leg, I advocate a full range of motion.
- I finish off with hack squats. On two-legged leg press days, I perform the standard three sets of 10, with my feet and knees close together to hit the outer sweep of my quads. On the unilateral days, I do my infamous triple drop set. I've made more than 100 people throw up doing this, and I myself have thrown up on several occasions. You begin with a weight with which you can get only 5-6 reps, then drop it down and do another 10, drop it again, and go for 10-15. But the trick is this: Do these as slowly as possible. Five seconds to go down, pause two seconds at the bottom, and five seconds to go back up. If you finish this without being sick, you didn't do it right.
- I used to think I could train legs all at once, but my hams were always lagging because I was exhausted from quad training. So these days, I train quads and hams separately, giving each its own day once a week to ensure complete development.
Resources from this episode:
– Milos Sarcev:
- Milos Sarcev Instagram
- Milos Sarcev YouTube
- Milos' workout formula:
- During Workout
– Additional Supplements:
- KAATSU BFR (use code BEN to save 5%)
- Regulation of Increased Blood Flow (Hyperemia) to Muscles During Exercise: A Hierarchy of Competing Physiological Needs
- Effects of a pre-workout supplement on hyperemia following leg extension resistance exercise to failure with different resistance loads
- Vitargo vs. UCAN vs. Maltodextrin absorption rates
- Ketone ester supplementation blunts overreaching symptoms during endurance training overload
- Evaluation of the Transepidermal Penetration of a Carnosine Complex in Gel Formulation by 3D Skin Models
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