[Transcript] – Muscle Building Myths Busted: What Works & What Doesn’t For Lifelong Muscle, What Fitness Trends Actually Work, Desert Island Workout Routines & More With Mind Pump’s Sal Di Stefano.

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/sal-di-stefano/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:01:19] Podcast Sponsors

[00:04:39] Guest Introduction

[00:07:53] What You'll Find in Sal's New Book

[00:12:26] When and Why Sal Got into Personal Training

[00:19:27] How Motives for Pursuing Fitness Make All the Difference in Its Efficacy

[00:25:11] Podcast Sponsors

[00:27:41] cont. How Motives for Pursuing Fitness Make All the Difference in Its Efficacy

[00:31:16] A Realistic Timeframe for Building Muscle

[00:45:35] The Essential Equipment for A One-Year Muscle-Building Regimen

[00:51:32] Sal's Thoughts on Electrical Muscle Stimulation Devices and Wearables

[00:57:15] The Efficacy of Blood-Flow Restriction (BFR) Training

[01:00:07] Thoughts on Super-Slow Training

[01:05:24] Hyperthermia's Effects on Muscle Gain and Maintenance

[01:12:43] The Most Ridiculous, Asinine, And Downright Silly Fitness Trends Today

[01:18:27] Closing the Podcast 

[01:19:40] End of Podcast

Ben:  On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:

Sal:  Fitness is interesting because it's probably the most unassuming form of self-improvement that I think exists. At some point, you're going to want to stop working out because you're going to want to stop hating yourself. You're going to want to stop eating right because it's a punishment. It has to turn into a form of self-care and self-love. And, until it does that, you'll never be consistent.

Ben:  The book is good. Although, I bet that if Adam and Justin put their heads together, they could probably do a pretty darn good coloring book.

Sal:  Oh, my God.

Ben:  Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.

Hey, I got a chance today to sit down with my good buddy, Sal Di Stefano. Sal Di Stefano is one of the hosts of Mind Pump. You may have heard that show before, wonderful fitness show. And, I just managed to get him away from his buddies, Adam and Justin, and just podcast with me about muscle, not mussel the seafood, muscle the muscle. And, he just wrote a book about it. And, we had a great fascinating discussion.

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Alright, folks. So, you probably have heard my guest on today's podcast before because I've recorded podcast with him on his show, and he's been on my show quite a few times. His name is Sal Di Stefano. Sal di Stef–I don't know, Sal. How do you say your last name and annunciate the proper syllables correctly?

Sal:  You actually said it right the second time, Di Stefano.

Ben:  Sal Di Stefano.

Sal:  Yeah.

Ben:  It confuses me, though, because I have some friends who are named DiStefano who spell it is one word. But you spell it as two words, like D-I, Stefano.

Sal:  Yeah. I think when people immigrate to this country, after a few generations, they put it all together. But, the proper way, I guess, is D-I, and then space.

Ben:  Wait, did you immigrate to this company–to this company? If I can talk today, geez. I need to get some coffee down the hatch. Did you actually do the whole sail over here in a boat and go and wave at the Statue of Liberty thing?

Sal:  My parents did. My parents actually flew here, but my parents are both immigrants. So, I was born here. I'm first-generation American.

Ben:  That doesn't count.

Sal:  Alright.

Ben:  You can't play that card. You got to actually have been on the boat and waved at the Statue of Liberty and started a little pizza shop and put in all the sweat and blood, and then eventually traveled in a covered wagon over to California where you live now. Otherwise, dude, you can't talk about your ancestors in that manner.

Sal:  Oh, my bad. Sorry about that.

Ben:  Well, the reason I went–So, actually, I should finish saying, by the way, for you guys who don't know, Sal is the host of this fabulous fitness podcast called “Mind Pump.” I've been on their show before. And, Sal and his homies, Adam and Justin, and also, Doug, at Mind Pump, have been on my show before. And so, what I'll do is I'll just link to all the shows we've done before, because they're super fun. And, I'll link to everything Sal and I went to talking about today if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Sal.

But, Sal, you're here without your homies. How's that feel?

Sal:  Oh, that's good. You know, Ben, I love you. You're one of my favorite people in the world. Obviously, everybody knows how smart you are, but you're also a nice, good person.

Ben:  He's building me up. He's getting to the “but.”

Sal:  No, no, no, no, it's true. Ben, in real life, he's a really, really good person. He's definitely different, but he's also a very good person and fun to talk to. Always fun to hang out with. And so, I enjoy this man. I think you and I are probably, among my co-hosts, probably most similar would be you and I. You and I are probably the most similar, versus Adam and you, or Justin and you.

Ben:  You know what? To be honest with you, I get that sense, Sal, because it seems like you and I have this bent towards really wanting to geek out. We were probably, I don't know, the boys who were less likely to get laid because we had nerdy glasses on and pocket protectors.

Sal:  Yeah. I have a mouthpiece on me, so I got laid pretty easily. But, I agree with what you're saying now. It makes perfect sense.

Ben:  So, anyways, for those of you listening, Sal, he does a lot of times come in as a little bit of the brains, the nutrition expert, the supplements expert, the guy who knows some of the nitty-gritty cutting-edge stuff that's going on in fitness over there at Mind Pump.

And, of course, he was the one of the crew to actually write a book. I don't think your friends over there, Justin or Adam, wrote a book yet. Did they, Sal?

Sal:  No. It was something that I did, but this is information that we've been talking about and preaching forever. And, what's that saying, there's many paths up the mountain but they all lead to the same place. I don't know. I'm sure I'm butchering it.

Ben:  That sounds good, if you make that up.

Sal:  Because we all trained everyday people for decades. And, we all come from different backgrounds. Justin is the athletic sports guy, played college ball. And, Adam was a personal trainer, like I was. But, Adam had much more of a business drive. My drive was much more about figuring out what's going on with the human body. But, we all cared about our clients equally, I would say. And, because we all did it for so long, we all came to the same conclusions, although, from different perspectives.

And so, what you'll read in the book, “The Resistance Training Revolution,” is something that I think most fitness coaches and trainers who have been doing this for 10-plus years will tell you. And, it's also counter to what you'll hear in mainstream fitness media or mainstream fitness advice. It's totally counter. And so, I thought I would like to get this information out there. I think I do a good job of communicating in a way where I can connect to the average person. And, let me make the case. Let me make this case so we can get this ship moving in the right direction because the fitness space is just–for too long now, it's been going in the wrong direction.

Ben:  Well, the book is good. Although, I bet that if Adam and Justin put their heads together, they could probably do a pretty darn good coloring book.

Sal:  Oh, my God.

Ben:  If they really worked hard and were able to use a size 38 font per page —

Sal:  Oh, my God.

Ben:  –and, maybe take out the markers and the coloring pencils, they could probably give you a run for the money. 

Sal:  Oh, Ben, I can't wait to tell them that you said this. 

Ben:  A resistance training pop-up guide with Adam and Justin. They don't listen to my show, I hope. Otherwise, probably, I'll get my ass kicked in some way when I come down there. I had no clue.

Sal:  No, we all have a relationship with you where we poke fun at each other. So, it's a good time.

Ben:  Yes. What do they call it, “bro humor,” tearing each other down to build each other up? Anyways, though, so your book was good, dude, but there's some stuff that you don't get into in the book, per se, that I was like, “Well, this book is amazing.”  As you alluded to, it's chock-full of a bunch of the type of stuff you guys talk about on your podcast, all these myths in the fitness industry. And, as the subtitle of the book implies, “The No-Cardio Way to Burn Fat and Age-Proof Your Body in Only 60 Minutes A Week.” But, actually, you move and exercise more than 60 minutes a week, right?

Sal:  I do. I'm a fanatic, though, right? This is what I love doing. And, that subtitle was written specifically to get to the part of the population that I'm really trying to reach. I'm not trying to —

Ben:  Lazy people?

Sal:  Yeah. Well, look, I'm not trying to preach to the fitness fanatics. I don't need to do that. I don't need to talk to fitness–I'm trying to get to my aunt and my neighbor and the guy across the street who, at most, if we do a damn good job, at most, will work out two or three days a week consistently. That's the most we could ever hope for. So, what can I do? How can I talk to them? And, how can I convince them that the way that they should exercise, because they're only going to pick one form of exercise, they're only going to do it two or three days a week, and most of them want to lose weight, and most of their chronic health issues are connected to obesity or overconsumption, although, it's much more complex than that, what can I talk to them about? So, I'm trying to reach them. And, I know that that's something that the average person will go and go, “Yeah, I like that. I like to work out less than 60 minutes a week.”

Ben:  That makes sense. Although, I'm going to tell the guy across the street what you said about him, about how lazy and demotivated. Anyways, though.

I was a personal trainer. You were a personal trainer. There's obviously tons of personal trainers, and obviously, Instagram is just saturated with not personal trainers trying to pretend they're personal trainers. And, every personal trainer, I think, has a unique approach or, at least, likes to think that they have their own flavor of training, but I find some histories more intriguing and others not.

But, you personally, once you did come over there on the boat from Italy and you made some money with your pizza shop and got that under your belt, at what point did you get into personal training, man?

Sal:  Well, right away, when I picked up my first weight, I loved it. I was 14 years old.

Ben:  You're 14?

Sal:  My dad had already set in the backyard.

Ben:  I think I was probably 13 or 14, too. It's a 10-pound set of dumbbells from Gart Sports. And, not to interrupt your story too intensively, but I didn't know what to do with them. All I knew is I want to get better at tennis. And, tennis players seem to need to have big shoulders and strong arms. So, I would literally lay on my bed on my belly and used my bed as almost a–I didn't know what a preacher curl bench was at the time. But, I'd lay in my bed on my stomach and do bicep curls with 10-pound dumbbells, like a preacher curl.

Sal:  So, again, this is where you and I are so similar. I think we find something we love and we become just obsessed with it. That's what I did. I started working out, became totally obsessed with the human body, how it worked. As a 14, 15-year-old, I would hitch a ride to the library. And, this was, of course, before the Internet. And, I'd get all the books I could on biology and chemistry. I'd read Soviet studies on muscle building and training. By the way, those are some of the coolest studies that I've ever read.

Ben:  Yeah, Tudor Bompa, the old periodization book.

Sal:  Very cool. So, I'd read as much as I could. And, I just became obsessed with it. And then, when I turned 18, I was old enough to be a personal trainer. And, they wouldn't let you train people before that. So, I walked into a gym and got a job as a trainer, and immediately just fell in love with it and did very, very well. Within four months, I was managing the fitness department of a big box gym. So, I had trainers working under me. And then, by the time I was 19, I was a general manager grand opening some of the biggest big box clubs in California for 24 Hour Fitness. And, I did that for a while, and loved it, and was very successful.

And then, right around 22, I went off to work on my own. And, I became an entrepreneur. I started a wellness and fitness studio. So, it was a small studio that offered personal training. I had massage therapy in there. I had acupuncture in there and gut and hormone testing in there. And, the goal was to merge fitness with wellness. Although, I knew very little about wellness and knew mostly about fitness. That was the goal. And, I did that for a long time up until we did Mind Pump.

And, what drove me more than anything, of course, I loved working out for myself and I loved changing my body and all that stuff, but really, what drove me was my passion for people. And, I found this way that I could help them. And, fitness is interesting because it's probably the most unassuming form of self-improvement that I think exists. You could find a spiritual practice. You could do books that tell you how to be a better person. You could go do motivational courses. But, try to go up to the average person and say, “Hey, I'd like to show you the spiritual practice.” You're going to turn off about 50% of the people you talk to. But, everybody is interested in looking better and being more fit, regardless of where they come from.

Ben:  Not a lot of people will, I guess, hire an expert to take them to a park and help them to read the Bible.

Sal:  Exactly.

Ben:  They'll definitely do the same thing with a kettlebell.

Sal:  Yeah, exactly. So, it was just a super unassuming form of self-improvement. And, sure, you can enter into it in the wrong way and say, “I just want to look better.” That's most people's goal. But, if you stick to it long enough, you realize, wow, this is a powerful form of self-improvement. It teaches you acceptance. At some point, I'll use myself as an example, when I was 14, my idols were Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu, and all these bodybuilders.

Ben:  Geez, you were ahead of me. I was Andre Agassi whose posters were on my wall. Andre Agassi, I had two posters. I, of course, had Anna Kournikova poster, but I had to keep that one a little bit secret from my parents. The old hot Russian tennis player chick. I had David, the Admiral, —

Sal:  Well, I know what–

Ben:  –from the Spurs. Geez, why am I blanking on his name, the basketball player, the Admiral, the Spurs?

Sal:  You're asking the non-basketball [00:16:41]_____.

Ben:  Oh, geez. So, David Robinson. NBA aficionados are flipping over in their graves right now. And then, I had Pete Sampras. So, those are mine. But, you were bodybuilders.

Sal:  Yeah. But, here's where I learned acceptance. At some point, I figure I learned, these guys used anabolic steroids, these guys have genetics that 0.001% of the population have. Oh, I don't have the bone structure that they have. But, I continued anyway and I accepted my body as it was and what I could do with it. You also accept failure. When you work out and you do it long enough, you learn that you suck at stuff until you practice the hell out of it, and then you get good at it. And, you have to make peace with that and accept that.

There's also body acceptance. If you stick with it long enough and you start to get older, I don't care how fit you are, your performance is going to decline. By the time you hit 60, 70, and so on, you're going to notice declines in performance. But, you do it anyway. It teaches you discipline. It teaches you how to change your relationship with physical pain and discomfort. When I would get a new client and I would train them, the look on their face when they would feel their muscles burn and they'd drop the weight. I actually would have clients throw weights on the floor. “Oh, my God.” “What's wrong?” “It really burns. I think I hurt myself.” They have a different relationship with discomfort and pain than somebody who does it on a regular basis.

So, it's this really profound self-improvement tool. And so, I fell in love with the fact that I could help people through it. And, what was cool about that, Ben, was it drove me to constantly be more effective at what I did. And, I don't mean I'm going to be more effective at getting clients to lose 30 pounds right away. That's how I started. But, eventually, what it turned into was, “Wait a minute, I can get people to lose 30 pounds. All they got to do is do everything I say.” But then, they gain it back. Why is nobody doing this forever? Why is this so hard to be consistent? Am I communicating this the wrong way? Are meal plans not a successful long-term approach? Maybe, the people I'm talking to are never going to be fitness fanatics. What do I do now?

And so, it drove me to really get good at what I do how I communicate it. In fact, that's what you hear when you listen to my podcast, is you hear three trainers that figured this out. And, that's how we communicate it. “Can we go in the weeds and deep with certain things?” “We definitely can.” “Can we talk like you're bodybuilder fitness fanatics?” “We definitely can.” But, the way that we usually communicating is to the average person.

Ben:  The average person, many of whom we've already insulted by telling that they're lazy and they can't handle pain.

Sal:  No. You know what it is. It's not that they're lazy. It's that they have not developed a skill of discipline in this particular way. That's all it is. And, in many ways, they've developed skills of discipline and other aspects of the life. But, in this particular one–And, there's many reasons why. I believe the main reason is the root of what drives people into fitness will never work until you change that particular root driver. For example, people go into fitness because they hate their bodies, they don't like the way they look, they think they're unattractive, there's some insecurity. And, that'll get you started. But, it will never keep you consistent, because at some point, you're going to want to stop working out because you're going to want to stop hating yourself. You're going to want to stop eating right because it's a punishment. It has to turn into a form of self-care and self-love. And, until it does that, you'll never be consistent.

It, eventually, has to be, because how many times have you heard this from people? Like, “Hey, how's your workout going? I know you were doing it consistently.” “I had to stop because I just want to enjoy my life.” And, you think to yourself, “What do you mean you want to enjoy your life? It improves the quality of life.” But, the way they were going about it was it's punishment, it's, “I hate myself. I hate my body. I don't like it. I'm disgusting.” And, eventually, you rebel against that. Eventually, you say, “I'm done with this. I'm done with the stress. I'm done with the stress of trying to eat right. Let me reward myself, or let me rebel,” which looks like they're going to binge or whatever. So, this is one of the problems, I think.

Ben:  Yeah, I agree. And, the motivation of self-love, self-fulfillment, confidence, being able to handle what life might throw at you, being able to have motivation when you get out of bed in the morning, being able to have the energy that you want in the afternoon, being able to sleep better because you're not restless at night, those are the type of things that I think keep people in it for the long game versus, “I want to look sexy.” And, the reason for that is that, that usually keeps people going in fitness, I find, till maybe, I don't know, 30, 35 years old. But, it's like marriage. If you get married and the main thing that really keeps you together with your partner is his or her banging body that you really look forward to having sex with, and maybe the fact that you're really proud when you can walk hand-in-hand with them along the beach, and the other chicks or the other dudes are checking out your partner, that's going to last, sorry all you young whippersnappers out there, I can tell you right now, that's going to last only X number of years into your marriage before you realize that there needs to be a deep spiritual intertwining between you and your lover and a legacy that you're building a family around and deep fulfillment in your relationship that goes way beyond the surface aesthetics.

And so, it's like marriage. It's like just lifting weights to look good, that's part of the reason that people get into it. It's cool bonus, but I don't know what you think, Sal.

Sal:  I agree.

Ben:  I think that's not enough to keep people in for the long game, you know I'm saying?

Sal:  No, because all of us succumb to age. You know what it looks like, Ben, when people stick to that? When they stick to that, it's because “I like the way I look and I'm going to make myself look good.” It eventually turns into abusing yourself with plastic surgery, with drugs, with just denying reality. And, it's a very depressing place to be. Versus, “This is improving the quality of life. I'm taking care of myself.”

I'll tell you what. You talk to anybody. There's two types of people that work out for over 10 years consistently. It's either the dysfunctional obsessive people. I'm not talking about that because that's an unhealthy way to do it. For example, there was a study that came out of Stanford a long time ago that literally said or showed that having poor relationships with the people around you is as bad for your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. So, if you're so fanatical about exercise and diet that you would stew the relationships around you because you're obsessed with it, you don't go anywhere, you don't go to birthdays, you don't talk with or hang out with your partner because it's all about my workouts, well, now you're trading one for the other. Yeah, you might be working out, but now you don't have good relationships. And so, you're actually not improving your health. You're actually taking away from your health.

So, I'm not talking about that dysfunctional group. I'm talking about the healthy side of people who do this for over 10 years. You ask them, why do you do this so consistently? And, I guarantee you, “It makes me look good” won't make the top five. What it usually is, “Boy, it really helps me mentally. It helps me emotionally. It helps me center myself. I love the discipline. I like the way it makes me feel.” One of the most understated, and this is very sad, one of the most understated values of consistent proper activity and exercise has nothing to do with the physical changes. It has everything to do with the emotional and mental effects.

By the way, studies now are clear with this. When they compare exercise to medications for mild-to-moderate anxiety and depression, exercise is as effective, and oftentimes, the studies, as they get longer, show that they've actually becomes more effective. You don't build a tolerance. There's no negative side effects when it's done properly. If anything, it actually improves in its effectiveness. Unlike medications, which, overtimes, tend to start to develop tolerances. Nobody talks about this, but this is the real benefit. Again, I'll go back to that self-improvement. You stick to it long enough, and there's a lot of self-improvements that comes from fitness and exercise, and it's never communicated. And, I know why. It doesn't sell supplements. It doesn't sell products as much as me saying to you right now, follow my program or buy my product or whatever. And, in 60 days, you're going to look hot and sexy. I know that sells better. But, we're trying to do it the right way. And, I'm trying to do it in a way that's entertaining and compelling, so that I can compete with the other guys. You know what I'm saying?

Ben:  Hey, I want to interrupt today's show. You've seen me probably wearing a blood glucose monitor before. The whole world, especially, the health and fitness world, seems to be talking about glucose and so-called glycemic variability these days, and for good reason. Poor glucose control is tied to weight gain and fatigue and sexual dysfunction, diabetes, Alzheimer's, heart disease, stroke. And, it's hard to track unless you're making your fingers bleed all the time, until now.

There's this company called Levels. They make an app. The app ties to a sensor. You stick it on your stomach or your arm. The sensor tracks your glucose all day long. And, the app interprets your data. It scores your individual meals. It allows you to run experiments across different inputs, like diet, exercise, fasting protocols. They have a world-class team that backs them, a Stanford trained M.D., top engineer from SpaceX, and Google Research team that includes legends in the space, like Dr. Dom D'Agostino and Dr. David Perlmutter. I'm making myself sound cool by dropping names now. Anyways, I've been using a CGM for the past couple of years. It's made a huge difference in my lifestyle, my diet, my exercise. It's so useful. They have weighed 100,000-plus people. I'm not kidding.

But, my podcast listeners get to skip that line and join Levels today if you go to this link. I'm going to give it to you right now, Levels.Link/Ben. Levels, L-E-V-E-L-S.Link/Ben. You can get one of these sexy continuous blood glucose monitors and be the coolest person at the cocktail party/the healthiest person in your neighborhood. Check it out, Levels.Link/Ben.

And, if you're trying to keep your blood glucose stable, you might as well have snacks that also keep your blood glucose stable. And, jerky, beef jerky, is one way to do it. Most beef sticks are just crap, a bunch of conventional spices sprayed with pesticide and cows even if it says grass-fed or finished on grains. The folks at Paleovalley, they got 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef sticks. But then, they use real organic spices. And the artificial crap, the flavor of their beef sticks. Then, they ferment the beef sticks, that's pretty cool, which creates this naturally occurring probiotic profile that's great for gut health. They taste amazing, jam-packed with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, glutathione, keto-friendly, bunch of bioavailable protein.

And, you get 15% off. Go to Paleovalley.com/Ben. That's PaleoValley.com/Ben, you get 15% off of anything from Paleovalley. Check them out. Their beef sticks are amazing.

Ben:  I want to get into, just so people don't think we're going to be all woo-woo [00:27:45]_____ this whole podcast, I want to get into some of the practical nitty-gritties of muscle gain, muscle maintenance, and even some of these popular biohacks that are out there and what you think about them.

Sal:  Cool.

Ben:  And, potentially, some of the both the smart and the dumb things going on the fitness industry. But, if I could put a little pink bow on this, I personally was in that category for a long time, either working out because I want to look good and was obsessed with the way that I looked, which was back in my bodybuilding days, or because I was obsessed with performance. And, that would have been my triathlon days, where I would even make an excuse to, whatever, cut short the Thanksgiving meal to go out on my four-hour bike ride because I'm a pro triathlete, baby. I get paid $1,000 check once every seven months or so if I happen to make it to fourth place on a podium. Therefore, I can go out and exercise all I want and, somehow, justify to my wife and my family that I'm making a living doing this. And, even throughout that time, slipped into episodes where I'd just exercise for escapism or exercise because I was exercising, needing to exercise. I've been through it all. You name whatever might appear in a psychological manual for an exercise or even an eating disorder, and I've probably been through that personally. We don't have time to get into all that stuff on the podcast, but I can tell you right now, my fitness routine right now, I work out to feel good and be able to play family tennis with my family and to be able to go on hikes and to pack deer out of the mountains after I've shot it with a bow, I rarely look at myself in the mirror because I just don't care. It's like I know that my body looks okay, but unless I'm doing something, and let's face it, we know guys like me, part of our business is on Instagram, take off our shirt, flex on Instagram. And, I like that. That's part of the success piece. Yet, at home, wandering around the house, I'm not stopping for the mirror to flex or anything like that. I just don't care anymore. For me, it's about life and fulfillment and satisfaction.

And, for me, now, I'm also more motivated than ever to work out because it's self-love, it's self-care. And, the reason behind it is no longer selfish, but instead, focus on ultimate meaning and purpose and fulfillment and impact and presence. So, I think it's a really, really important thing for people to think about. But, like I mentioned, I do also–Well, I should say one last thing. If you want to know what it's going to look like if you do stay married to aesthetics, and I don't know if you agree with me on this, Sal, aesthetics for fitness for the rest of your life, just Google “grandma from something about Mary.” And, that's who you're going to be when your 60, still grasping straws, still trying to dye your hair and tan your skin and get your six-pack and do your breast implants or your breast explants, or whatever it is that you're going to do. And, trust me, you'll get to a certain point where everything just shuts down and breaks, and you're like, “Why did I spend X thousand number of hours trying to make myself look like I wasn't getting older because I fear death?”

Sal:  Totally.

Ben:  That's ultimately what it comes down to in the long run.

Sal:  I'm with you on that.

Ben:  So, I think we just solved all the fitness problems.

Sal:  That's it. We're good.

Ben:  Yeah, we're good. Bye, everybody. Alright. But, as we've established, there's value to muscle: for longevity, for function, for confidence, for all the things that you were naming, Sal, and that you talked about in your book.

So, I want to ask you a few questions. And, we don't have to spend an hour on each question because, obviously, I know you could talk for multiple podcasts about just about anything I ask you. But, I want to start here. Let's say that I'm listening and I do want to put on muscle, and maybe I'm a high school football player, maybe I'm 40 and I just started lifting weights, what's realistic? How fast can people actually gain muscle?

Sal:  It depends on, of course, who we're talking about and where they are in their stage of training. So, first off, I want to say this, just to preface. There is a wide genetic variance when it comes to how well or how quickly you'll respond to strength training or resistance training. So, think of it this way. Think of it like this. Besides watching NBA games or going to an NBA game, how many times in your life, in everyday life, have you seen people that are over 7 feet tall? Probably, either never or, maybe, one time your whole life, and you remember it because it really stood out. That's how rare the muscle-building genetics that you see in the magazines and on social media with these extreme bodies. That's how rare that is. So, you are probably not that. You probably don't —

Ben:  You probably don't have old-school fallen angel giant blood, for any of you who are into religious literature and familiar with the Nephilim.

Sal:  Yeah. So, that's probably not you. Now, on the other end of the extreme are people that just simply don't seem to respond to exercise at all. They typically have health issues as a result of it. And, there's lots of frailty going on. And, you're probably nowhere near there as well. And, that's just as rare, if not more rare. Most people are somewhere in the middle. Men, obviously, have a higher propensity. And, there's a faster reaction time in terms of how their body adapts to strength training than women. The younger you are within a certain age group, I would say, between the ages maybe 20 to 30 or so, you're going to respond faster than if you're 40 to 50 or older.

And then, are you new to exercise versus is this something that you've been doing for a long time? If you're very new, the response is much faster, and we refer to this as newbie gains than if this is something that you've been doing a long time. So, let's talk about newbie gains versus, maybe, experience. With newbie gains for a man, the average man doing everything right, with average muscle-building genetics, you could probably gain about 8 to 10 lean pounds of body mass in the first year. That's pretty realistic, 8 to 10 pounds. Now, some people will be higher, 15 pounds. Some people might be a little lower. But, that's probably a good average of lean. And, I'm not talking about water weight. Of course, not body fat. That's lean body mass. For women, it's probably about half. You're looking at 4, maybe, 6 pounds of lean body mass within that first year. After that, it does start to slow down. Probably, you're looking at, maybe, half the speed for the second year and so on. And then, at some point, you start to hit this limit of genetic capacity in terms of how much muscle you could build.

Now, here's the good news, by the way. The amount of work in volume and training that you need to put into building muscle is far more than the amount of work and effort in volume and training that you need to put in to maintain muscle. Studies actually show this.

Ben:  Yeah, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, I think it was about eight months ago, they had a fantastic article in there. I bookmarked it and highlighted it and talked about it on the podcast. But, it actually is nice to know. It's a decent weight training, sometimes the failure, for example, but even once a week, you can maintain pretty efficiently.

Sal:  Yeah. That article in that study that was based on some studies talked about one-ninth of the volume. So, imagine, whatever you're doing now, one-ninth of that would be required, essentially, to maintain what you have. Now, I do want to be clear, more activity, there's more benefit than just building muscle. So, it's not like you do one-ninth of the activity, keep the muscle, and have all the other benefits of regular exercise. We're just talking about the muscle aspect of it.

Now, why is this good news? Well, it's good news because building muscle is a more permanent–and, I hate using this word. I've got to be very careful because there's nothing that's permanent. Your body is always adapting. But, it's one of the more permanent ways to change your body in a favorable way. Now, it's extremely favorable to build muscle in the context of modern life with our sedentary lifestyle, the fact that we're surrounded by hyper-palatable food. You want to have more muscle because it gives you a faster metabolism.

There's a lot of complexity in terms of how diet affects your health, but a large piece of that is, are you eating more than you're burning, or are you eating less than you burn? And, believe it or not, you can get away with much more if you're eating as much as you're burning or less than. And so, what helps with that is a faster metabolism, which muscle–It does move that in that direction. Muscle, also, at least, when you're training to build muscle, it's the only pro-tissue, exclusively, I should say, or at least, more directly, a pro-positive tissue form of exercise than other forms of exercise.

So, what does that mean? If you do exercise to build muscle, namely resistance training or strength training, what the main adaptation that you're asking your body to do is to build muscle. Now, other forms of exercise don't directly do this necessarily. And, in some cases, might actually do the opposite. If you do lots and lots and lots and lots of endurance training, you're probably telling your body to pair muscle down to become more efficient at that type of exercise. Well, proper resistance training tells the body directly, we need to build muscle.

Now, why is this something that is interesting, or why should we even talk about this? Think of the hormones associated with building muscle. And, think of the hormones associated with pairing muscle down. If your body has this signal to build muscle and everything else is good, your diet is good and your stress is good, it's a really positive signal. Build muscle, and your body wants to do it. It will maneuver it's hormones in a favorable way to do so. So, in men, you can reliably see a raising of testosterone, you can reliably see an increasing of androgen receptor density so that testosterone becomes more effective. You improve your insulin sensitivity. In fact, one of the most effective ways to improve insulin sensitivity is to simply build muscle. There are studies on severely obese people where all they have them do is build muscle. They don't even lose any weight. They just gain a little bit of muscle. And, we see improvements in their insulin sensitivity. This happens to both men and women. You see a balancing of estrogen and progesterone. You see these youthful levels of growth hormone. Cortisol starts to become more healthy or appropriately utilized. I used the word appropriate in the sense of it's a more healthy way.

So, when you get your body to build muscle, your body organizes its hormones in more youthful ways. And, this is extremely important when you consider what's happening in modern societies. We've seen, for example, in man, and this has been identified now for decades, testosterone levels have been dropping for decades. And, I'm sure there's lots of reasons why. And, we don't necessarily need to go into that. There's xenoestrogens and chemicals and lack of activity and strength training and whatever, lots of reasons.

Ben:  We're way, way better now at doing things like making apps and computer stuff. But, arguably, we're adapting to operate in an automated highly post-industrial era in which lower levels of testosterone might have been replaced by, perhaps, increased creativity. I don't know. Getting in touch a little bit of more the inside.

Sal:  Yeah. And, you know what? Now, here's what's interesting about that. Yes, if you have testosterone levels that are off the Richter scale, if you're taking crazy super physiological doses, but if you look at drive, creativity, ingenuity, and innovation, within healthy range is really low testosterone is terrible.

Ben:  That's true. It's a good point.  It's a sweet spot, isn't it?

Sal:  Yeah. So, it makes things healthier in that sense. And, we're noticing this drop in testosterone, man. Hormone issues with women is now also well-documented. Fertility treatment centers are through the roof, and part of the reasons women are having children later, but there's a lot of other stuff going on with our bodies. Just telling your body to lift weights pushes things in that positive direction when it comes to hormones. Muscle is also super protective. So, you want to build muscle.

Now, there's a difference between building healthy muscle and forcing your body through chemicals to build a body-builder physique. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about doing this within the confines of your body's natural abilities and done in a healthy way. And, the original question was how much muscle can I expect to build? Eight to 10 pounds, if you're a guy in the first year, about 4 to 6 in the first year for a female. And then, it slows down after that. But, that's okay, because you don't need to build tons of muscle. But, boy, to those effect.

And also, of course, now, I'm going to appeal to the–let's use a little marketing here. I'm going to use little sales tactics. Eight to 10 pounds of muscle in a man, boy, does that make you look different? And, 4 to 6 pounds of muscle on a woman, you talk about sculpted and curved and toned and firmness. That's what does it.

Ben:  Just think about this, go out and shop at Costco for 10 of ribeye steak, bring that home, set it on the counter, and then imagine all that steak being on your body. Some people are like, 8 to 10 pounds, doesn't see. I heard about my friend who went from 170 to 220 over a year of lifting. Well, gear and all that jazz aside, 8 to 10 pounds, if you have 8 to 10 pounds of steak on your island in your kitchen, I guarantee, that's a pretty hefty little pile of steak right there.

Sal:  And, there's a profound effect on your metabolism. Now, I know that there's people who are going to refer to studies and say, “Well, I read the study that one pound of muscle only burns extra amount more calories.” It's way more complex than that. Now, that's definitely true. However, when you look at the metabolism, which, by the way, let's be very clear. Probably, the second-most complex thing that we've found in the universe. Under the human brain, is mamillion metabolism. Here's an interesting thing. If you look at the amount of calories that your body burns on its own, I'm not talking about you being active or anything like that, but just on its own, with your current lean body mass, there's a range. It's not a set number. In other words, I could burn 1,500 calories or 2,200 calories. Those are arbitrary numbers that I'm just spitting out of my mouth. But, there's a range of calories your body can burn with the same lean body mass. Now, gaining lean body mass moves it in the upper range, and losing it moves it in the lower range. But, what we also have to understand is just sending a pro-muscle signal will get your body to burn more calories, even if you don't necessarily gain more muscle. And, I've seen this with clients time and time again.

Why is this important? Because, today, in modern societies, it wasn't like this 10,000 years ago, by the way, a fast metabolism 10,000 years ago was a liability. Today, it's an asset. If you can burn 4,000 calories a day on your own, you're less likely to be obese, you're less likely to suffer from chronic health issues that result from overconsumption. It's a positive thing. If I could double everybody's metabolism right now, we would all but solve the obesity epidemic. So, you want this. You want a fast metabolism in the context of modern life. And, building muscle does that. Nothing else really does it nearly as effectively.

Ben:  Yeah, as long as you leave aside the hyper-compensation variable of all the people who know they just doubled their metabolism, they're going to order an extra pizza from Di Stefano's pizza shop down the street. 

Now, what's interesting about this is, as you've noted, there's a huge genetic component, of course. And, I think it was a few years ago, there's a physiology journal. It just went to all the low versus high skeletal muscle hypertrophic responders to resistance exercise training. And, the genetics in terms of myostatin expression and IGF1 alleles just was highly different. And, of course, in people who were really, really good responders. Maybe, that person, that dude who's not in the 8-to-10-pound range, who's just putting on 18 to 20 in a year, may actually have some of those superior genetics, whatever you want to call them, Viking genetics, Nephilim genetics, you name it. But, there's a lot of molecular and physiological variables, like your satellite cell gens, the satellite cells that are hovering around your muscle fibers that help them to repair and to grow. People who have a certain genetic variant have more satellite cells around their muscle fibers. So, they can expand their pool of satellite cells during training. And then, there are other people who have a certain higher disposition of fast-twitch muscle fibers. The list goes on and on. Then, there's muscle memory, which you brought up, Sal, which basically means if you've been lifting for a certain period of time, or there's even a couple of studies that came out a few years ago showing that steroid users, it's like that once a doper, always a doper type of argument. They actually are able to return back and build muscle more quickly than they would have been able to, have they not been on some type of performance-enhancing aid.

And then, there's lifestyle. There are some fascinating studies on a high-stress lifestyle being something that impedes the ability to build muscle. And, perhaps, that's the catabolic effect of excess cortisol levels or poor sleep resulting in poor hypertrophy adaptations. Who knows? But, ultimately, there's a lot of factors going on. But, what you've just highlighted is that 8 to 10 pound-ish for men, 4 to 6 pound-ish for women for a year is, I think, pretty accurate and reasonable for most folks.

And, as is the case when I interview a fellow podcaster, I could just wind you up and let you go and walk away with just about any questions, and I'll probably just ask you a question and go make myself some coffee, man, and come back and see if you're still talking. But, I have a question for you just based on everything that you know. Now, you've looked into and you researched writing this book. And, I know you're probably like me, just learn a bunch from people who ask questions on your podcast that you got to find out the answers to. 

But, anyways, let's say, Sal, that you did have to live on an island for a year, or I was going to send you back to Italy and put you there for a year, I don't know, out in a villa in Florence. And, you had to maintain or build muscle. Here's my question for you. Nutrition aside, supplements aside, etc., what equipment would you bring? And, you could bring whatever, squat rack, ARX machine, freaking biohacked electrical muscle stimulation suit, you name it. But, what equipment would you bring? And, what workout program, if you could choose any flavor of workout program, whether it's high rep, low weight, high weight, low rep, etc.? What would you do? And, let's leave aside the idea that, maybe, you'd change things up throughout the year, or maybe, you'd use different forms of equipment. But, what equipment would you use as your primary operating mode? And, what flavor of workouts, painting with a somewhat broad brush, would you choose?

Sal:  Good question. So, it's what I've been using for the last, I don't know, 20 years. I haven't really worked out in gyms consistently for 20 years. All I've ever used is, for a long time now, is a squat rack, a barbell, dumbbells, and adjustable bench. And, that's it.

Ben:  Free weights.

Sal:  That would be everything I need–Free weights. And, I do, of course, on the squat rack, is a pull-up bar and dip apparatus. And, I can pretty much do anything I want with that. Now, in terms of the workout, I personally prefer full-body type of workouts. I like compound lifts. Strength is fun for me. There's a quality-of-life component there in terms of enjoyment. I like being really strong. So, I love to do the compound lifts. Now, those also incidentally just have a huge bang for their buck. So, I'll probably do a full-body workout.

Ben:  How many days a week would you go full-body?

Sal:  Maybe, three days a week. And then, what I'll do is throw in a couple days a week of, maybe, mobility or conditioning type of work where I'll do heavy carries or with weights overhead or at my sides, like suitcase carries. I might do long hikes and walks, just because I love doing that. I'm not a huge endurance performance person in terms of just quality of life component. Now, back in the day, I did jujitsu for a while. And, I really love that. And, I got a lot out of that from there. But, yeah, I would just need my free weights. And, that's it, three full-body workouts–

Ben:  Free weights, full-body, three times a week-ish.

Sal:  That's it.

Ben:  I think I would probably go with–just because my history tends to be I really like metabolic stim type of workouts. I really enjoy moving during the whole workout. And, I enjoy–I'm a lactic acid fiend, that whole concept that popped up a couple years ago of high-intensity, I think it was called high-intensity repeat training versus high-intensity interval training, where you work out [00:49:03]_____ quick and the dead style workouts, where it's 10 seconds, and then luxurious rest intervals of two minutes, and then 10 seconds. I, despite appreciating the value and the science behind those workouts, hate them. I love the burn. I love the metabolic stim. It's what drew me to triathlons and obstacle course racing, all of that. I would go, and obviously, this probably would be a little bit unfavorable for pure muscle building than free weights three times a week, but I would still go full-body. I'd be doing full body, probably, three to five times a week. And, I would have three to four heavy kettlebells. That would be what I'd go with, is kettlebells for the metabolic stimulus and a little bit of the asymmetry. And then, I'd probably go three to five times a week. That's what I'm going to match you with.

Sal:  You know what you're highlighting here, too, Ben, which is really important. Back in the day, as an early trainer, if a client came to me and said, “What's the best form of,” I don't know, “cardio?” I would list off the ones that the studies show burn the most calories and all that stuff. Later on, what I learned was that was the wrong way to answer. Later on, when people would ask me that question, I would reply and say, “Well, what's your favorite form of cardio?” Because that's the one that you're going to probably do most consistently. And, one thing that you're highlighting is, we both like different kinds of forms of exercise because there's–not just the value in the physical effects of your workout routine, but there's a value in the enjoyment of doing it. And, that's understated. I don't think anybody ever talks about how much value there is in just enjoying what you're doing while you're doing it. And, that's really important. So, I'm glad you showed the you and I both like to exercise, and we're both very consistent, but we both like to approach it differently because of that aspect right there.

Ben:  Very, very quick shameless plug opportunity here, Sal. You guys have a bunch of fitness guides that you put on your website called MAPS. Which of the MAPS programs would be the closest to what you've just described, just free weights three times a week full-body-ish?

Sal:  MAPS Anabolic.

Ben:  MAPS Anabolic, okay.

Sal:  Yeah, that's the original program. And then, what you do, I think the closest would be our MAPS OCR program or MAPS Performance.

Ben:  Probably, MAPS Performance, because I don't run anymore. I run down to my driveway to check the mail. And, I run if my kids are chasing me in a game of zombie at the park. That's about it. It, probably, would be metabolic.

Sal:  You do.

Ben:  And, by the way, for those of you listening in, I'll link to Sal's book and his fitness programs if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Sal. Sal, I want to tackle some trends in the fitness industry. And, we can go not quite lightning round, but that lightning round-ish, if that makes sense. I think you get what I'm saying.

Sal:  Mm-hmm.

Ben:  Alright. So, let's start here. Because, I already named it, so we might as well start here. Electrical muscle stimulation as a muscle gain or muscle maintenance strategy, these suits, electrodes, what do you think? You ever used them? You have an opinion on them?

Sal:  Yeah, I do. As a way to help reduce atrophy when you're injured, there's well-documented that it has some benefit. As a way to build muscle, not a ton of benefit. It can help people, maybe, connect to muscles. But, they have a poor neurological connection to or a poor feel for, so like you're doing squats and, “I can't really feel this in my butt.” Then, stim may help you feel it in your butt while you're squatting, so you could get better change your technique and form. But, as a muscle-building tool, there's so many things that are going to give you way more benefit to focus on. But, again, in terms of preserving, if you're injured and you can't move, it's well-documented that it'll reduce the amount of atrophy that you'll experience.

Ben:  So, you bastard, because I'm going to come back at you. And, there's a time on my podcast, Sal, where I was super polite to all of my guests and was like, “I don't want to disagree with someone on a podcast because then this is going to turn it into a shit show and we're going to start arguing.”

Sal:  Let's do it.

Ben:  But, we're going to do it anyway. So, I would have agreed with you up until, probably–Well, no, I would have agreed with you. Remember Paleo f(x)?

Sal:  Yes.

Ben:  So, remember how they had that electrical muscle stimulation machine there called the Neubie

Sal:  Yes, I do.

Ben:  –that they would put on. And, it was teeth-gritting, balls to the wall electrical muscle stimulation. I don't know if you tried it at all.

Sal:  Yes. I did. I have tried something similar.

Ben:  We're talking full-on near-rhabdo in terms of the actual feeling that you have for DOMS that lasts for a week afterwards. Although, I agree with you on a lot of these, the Marc Pro and the Compex, some of these things are great for blood flow, great recovery, great for, maybe, maintaining some muscle or, at least, some blood flow around an injured joint. I've been using something like that in my quads lately because I just got a little bit of a knee surgery from, actually, Dr. Matt Cook down by you in San Jose, did a little knee surgery on me now. So, I've been doing that to keep my quads triggered, etc. But, either, A, that Neubie device that I did down at Paleo f(x) or this latest thing I've been using, like a full-body electrical muscle stimulation suit. It's called a Katalyst. If you actually push yourself on those, I have personally, and I realize this is fully anecdotal, but have several friends who are also using those high, high-end devices and experiencing some pretty significant increases in muscle growth in DOMs, which, let's face it, not the best metric of muscle growth. But, there's definitely some significant DOMS that's going on. And, I think it depends on the intensity how much of a pain threshold that you're willing to go under while using these things, and whether or not you're using them properly, which means, typically, you're moving through a full range of motion as it's stimming you, like you got it attached to shoulders and chest and doing pushups, or you have it on quads and hammies and you're doing squats. I think that it is possible to actually get pretty significant results with EMS, depending on how it's used.

Sal:  So, let me clarify. I think when we're talking about someone like you, you're always training at a high level, especially compared to the average person, or even the average fitness fanatic, and to get your body to improve any more, you've done all the basics, you've done all the stuff that's really effective, the big bang for your buck type of stuff, so it probably some value in any technique or device that's going to increase your threshold for stimulus or intensity. For the average person, I think it's a waste of money and time. I really do. I think, for the average person, they're better off practicing squatting or practicing movements and getting good at it.

Now, if somebody gave me Ben Greenfield as a client and said, “Here's a guy.” And, I knew everything about you. “He's competed in triathlons. This guy was a pro-OCR racer, very fit. He knows a lot of shit. What can we do to get another 1 or 2 percent performance out of him?” Well, now, I'm going to look at red light therapy. I'm going to look at stim. I'm going to look at hot-cold contrast. I'm going to look at every possible thing that's going to squeeze out a little bit out of your body more than what you're already doing. So, there's a difference there. But, the average person is like–And, here's the challenge. Again, I'm always communicating to the average person. That's what I'm trying to do. Average person comes in and says, “Hey, I want to start working out. What do you think about this stim machine to add to my routines?” Let's not do that. Let's focus on with being consistent a couple of days a week. Here's your exercises. Do this. This is what's going to give you what you're looking for.

Ben:  That makes sense, let's face it, getting a squat rack from Rogue and doing squats and deadlifts and clings etc., from an athleticism and functional standpoint, you're under a load–

Sal:  Sure.

Ben:  –just for bone density and movement, etc., that will kick the pants off of any EMS device. But, I think, with EMS, it just depends on the device and how hard you're using it. And, I think your training status also fits into the equation, too, Sal.

So, what about BFR training, blood flow restriction training? You ever messed around all that?

Sal:  Yeah, totally. That's fascinating, right? Very, very interesting. The studies on that are actually pretty phenomenal. So, blood flow restrictive training simulates heavy-load training in the muscle, and can cause hypertrophy. So, essentially, for people that know what that is, you tie off a limb with a knee wrap. Now, you don't want to do it so much that you go numb. But, you want to do it enough to where you restrict blood outflow, venous outflow. So, muscle will go to the muscle. Excuse me, blood will go to the muscle, but less of it will come out. Then, you do your exercise. And, what happens is you get this waste buildup, you get this really intense pump. And, it's very intense with a very low weight. And, it simulates heavier weight training.

Now, why is this beneficial? If you have a knee injury and you can't squat your normal 300 pounds and you're worried about atrophy, but you could still do full range of motion exercises, well, now, you could do BFR training, put 100 pounds on the bar, which is safe for your knee joint, but now simulates heavier weight for your legs, and you get similar benefits. Now, is it going to give you the same benefits? No. But, is it better than what we did before? Yes.

Now, here's where it gets fun. Can you combine this with regular training to augment what you're doing? And, my experience is yes. But, you can definitely overdo it. But, if you're doing everything right and there's certain body parts that you want to–“My calves are really stubborn or my biceps are really stubborn,” you could throw in a little BFR during the week, so long as you don't overdo it, and you will get this cell swelling signaling effect where you'll get extra hypertrophy on the muscle. But, I've tried replacing regular training with it, and it's definitely not as effective. It's better as a additive, as something you add to your routine.

Ben:  Kind of similar to EMS, too, especially, if you're hobbled up or if you can't handle heavyweights, or, for me, personally, if I'm traveling these days, I'll throw one of those old tiny roll-on hard-shell suitcases on the plane with me. And, always, in that, I either have the BFR bands with an extra suspension strap I can put onto a wall for pullups and things like that, and then, resistance band. And, in a hotel room, I just put on the BFR bands and jam. It's quick. It's simple. And then, I'll just walk the rest of the day. So, I do that or that full-body electrical muscle stimulation suit now. So, for portability, it works obviously a lot better than shoving a barbell in your bag.

Sal:  Totally.

Ben:  But, it is one of those things that is adjunctive to an existing strength training protocol, ideally. But, BFR training is something I work in I found some value in. And, especially, for people, like seniors who want to maintain or build muscle, seems to be super effective. That's another one I found intriguing.

Now, how about this whole concept? Because I briefly mentioned muscle training to failure. And, there's even a lot of programs out there. Probably, Dr. Doug McGuff and his book “Body by Science” is what really made this popular. But, the idea of super-slow training, like single set-to-failure training where you're only working out 15 to 20 minutes, you're going 30 seconds up, 30 seconds down, five different full-body exercises to absolute failure, boom, done. How do you feel about that style of training?

Sal:  So, super-slow-mo training actually originated during the, I believe it was during World War II when they were rationing iron and steel. And, so gyms didn't have heavyweight. So, bodybuilders said, “Well, what if I do a 30-second set? How is this going to feel? And, actually, there are some pretty good results. Here's the downside. If your super-slow-motion reps are going too long, then it starts to become more endurance and stamina than strength, and you lose some of the muscle-building effects. So, there's a definitely a limit to how slow you can go and how long the set can take.

Now, here's the thing, really, the, I guess, the cornerstone of, probably, what we should focus on here, which is intensity. Intensity is a very important variable or component to training. And, it's important because it's essential to getting the body to respond and adapt. But, it's not the only variable. And, if we abuse it, we miss out on so much more. For example, one set-to-failure of an exercise may produce the localized muscle damage that is good to stimulate muscle growth and all that stuff. But, what you miss out on are the multiple sets of practice that are great for the central nervous system, that are great for the skill of the exercise. We tend to forget that, when you exercise, you are performing skills. These are skills. It's not unlike playing a sport, like squatting, deadlifting, pressing, and rowing. It's not just my lats and my chest and my shoulders and my legs and my biceps. It's also the skill of the movement. And, if you get better at the skill of the movement, you actually reap more of the benefits.

Think of it this way, if we think of a barbell squat, for example, very basic exercise but does require a lot of skill. If you think about it, we could go on a scale of 0 to 100 in terms of benefit, 100 being the max benefit we can get from the barbell squat, and 0 being I'm not getting any benefit from the barbell squat. How do I get to 100? A lot of it has to do with my skill and technique and how I feel and how my muscles are firing and all that.

So, here's another good example. The most studied strength sport of all time, the one strength sport where, probably, cumulatively, billions of dollars has been spent on perfecting how effective training is and how it affects the body and how you get strong, is Olympic lifting. Olympic lifting, at one point, remember, if we go back to the Cold War, we had the Soviet Union which was just really a combination of many, many different countries. And, you had the United States. And, one of the ways that we would swing our dicks was at the Olympics. Who's going to have the best athletes? Well, the Soviets, being communists, they invested a lot of national money into studying the most effective ways to get people strong and to perform better.

Ben:  Specifically, with the snatch and the clean and jerk, for people not familiar with Olympic weightlifting.

Sal:  Yes. And, they spent a lot of time and money and a lot of science. In fact, when the Iron Curtain came down, it was a lot of stuff we learn from them, because over here, a lot of athletes trained themselves and coaches trained themselves. Nonetheless, one thing that they did that was really effective was lifters didn't go to failure. They trained at a moderate intensity. They just did it often. They practiced a lot. You had Olympic lifters practicing the snatch, for example, throughout the day. It wasn't like they did the snatch-to-failure. They perfected the snatch. They perfected how their CNS fires.

Ben:  Almost like a [01:04:11]_____, not to mention his name too much, his greasing the groove type of approach.

Sal:  Completely. There's tremendous benefit to that. And, we miss out on that when we only manipulate intensity and we think to ourselves, “Well, if I just train super intense, then I don't have to train as long, and I'll still get this, whatever, benefits.” It's not true. There's lots of benefit to multiple sets at lower intensities to practicing the movement. Not saying there isn't any benefit to high intensity. There's benefit to all of it. You want to manipulate all these variables to give you somewhat of a balanced type of routine.

Now, if you do look at studies on failure and they compare it head-to-head, they do find that failure tends to be too much intensity for most people where the body starts to just prioritize healing over adaptation, and you don't get as much adaptation going on. And, people tend to confuse the two. They think that their body recovering is the same thing as adapting. It's not, even though they tend to happen simultaneously or crossover quite a bit.

Healing is just healing. It's like I cut my hand, my skin needs to heal. Adaptation is the callus that builds over that scar to prevent it from getting injured the second time around. So, in terms of adaptation, there's definitely value in intensity, but if that's your main focus, you're going to miss out on so much other stuff.

Ben:  Got it. So, here's one more for you. Hyperthermia, a lot of people are championing the benefits of saunas now for hypertrophy and the activation of heat shock proteins, etc. Do you really think that's going to move the dial much on something like muscle gain or muscle maintenance? Or, have you messed around with long sauna sessions in your own routine or with the people you guys are working with?

Sal:  So, this is remarkable because the science on–Now, this type of, I don't know what you want to call it, training or usage of saunas and heat has been around for thousands of years in different cultures. I know you do the same thing, Ben. Anytime you see a common practice among different cultures that have been around for a long time, you know there's some value there. You know that there's some reason why the Chinese did this and the people in Northern European countries did this. And, why is this something that all these cultures have done or practiced in some way, shaped or formed for thousands of years? There's lots of benefits. Studies now show this, that consistent sauna use, for example, really reduces illness, improves longevity, reduces cancer risk and heart disease risk, and that our bodies' ability to acclimate to temperature is, think of it like a muscle, and we just don't train it anymore, which atrophy, because everything's so temperature-controlled. So, when you train it, and you'll notice this, by the way, when you use a sauna, your tolerance for heat improves, or if you've ever met a friend that's from a really cold place, you'll notice that they have a better tolerance to cold and heat, and so forth. So, this is something that your body adapts to and trains.

Now, in terms of building muscle, will it help you build muscle? Not in any profound way. It's not like taking creatine where you notice, “Oh, my strength boosts.” But, over time, because of its health benefits and because it does, to a low extent, simulate a little bit of stress that you would get from exercise, you're probably going to do better in the long term from a muscle-building perspective. And, if we count the health effects of it, which we know for a fact, there's positive health effects, and how poor health or getting sick, for example, can reduce your ability to build muscle or improve your performance. If you'd throw that in there, then I'd say, yeah, it's definitely something that's important. But, it's nothing profound. You're finally going to do it well, and then you'll notice [01:07:47]_____.

Ben:  You can have guns and be detoxed, bro.

Sal:  Yeah, exactly.

Ben:  A lot of this stuff, and this is something that might be sounding like a little bit of a broken record to you all listening at this point by the podcast, but looking at electrical muscle stimulation or BFR training or hyperthermic conditioning or super-slow training on some Nautilus machines or a vibration platform or whatever, people really like novelty. And, they also dig stuff that allows them to feel as though they're somehow able to get the same results with less effort or in a shorter period of time, which is understandable.

Sal:  Sure.

Ben:  And, I think that many of these so-called biohacking modalities for fitness can fit into the category of, probably, allowing you to get, perhaps, better results than you might be able to get just doing bodyweight pushups and bodyweight squats when compared to doing nothing at all. But then, when you look at the actual process of gritting your teeth and lifting heavy shit and learning the coordinates to skills required to do things like a snatch and a clean and jerk or a push press or barbell squad or a hex bar deadlift or whatever, time and time again, what you'll find is that the people who solely rely on the sauna and their BFR bands and standing on a vibration platform, they usually–you can almost tell. You look at the body, and it's just less thick, less dense. I know this is a difficult expression for many people to swallow, but they don't look as hard to kill. You know what I'm saying?

Sal:  You're right. You got to do this with nutrition. You got to do this with exercise. There are big rocks and there are smaller–Think of it this way. Let's use the analogy of a car. You want to make your car faster. What are the priorities? Engine is probably at the top, not the spoiler. The spoiler is probably way down the list. So, you want to list these things out, and you want to build muscle well, want to eat adequate calories, protein, lifting weights, those are at the top. Where does the vibration plate fit? Where does BFR fit? Where does sauna or hyperthermic fit? I would argue that, among all of the extra stuff that you could do, hyperthermic training is probably near the top, besides the lifting and all that stuff, just because of the studies show that profound health effects that are coming from. It's probably higher than all of the other, I don't know what you want to label, biohack type things you could do. But, it's definitely not as important as just being active and eating right and getting good sleep. Those are more important.

Ben:  Don't get me wrong. I don't want to piss on the parade of cool fitness trends and biohacks and some of these fun things that do introduce novelty. And, they're fun, right? It's like, maybe, playing tennis with balloons and '80s disco music on, instead of using tennis balls. And, maybe, you got pompoms attached to your hat and you're wearing sweatbands. It's like, yeah, that's fun and it's cool and interesting. And, I see a place for humans to enjoy just about everything on this good planet. But, if your goal is simply, “I want to get strong and build muscle,” you got to go to the pain cave. You wouldn't believe, Sal, because you guys have been up here. You've flown up here and we've done podcasts before you appear on my property. The number of, let's call them, fitness biohackers who have puked in my garage in about two minutes flat after experiencing what–And, I know this sounds totally narcissistic. But, after experiencing what a real workout feels like because they've been lifting a 4-kilogram kettlebell in their sauna for the past couple of months. So, I digged the concept of–And, this is what I identify within fitness is do the hard shit and then use all that fun stuff as really cool, fun, novel ways to put the icing on the cake.

Sal:  Here's another analogy you'll love, Ben. It's like the dad that does the two vacations a year with his family. And, it's like, “I'm a great dad. I take my family on vacation twice a year.” But, he doesn't do spend time with them in the morning before school. He doesn't pick them up after school. He doesn't spend time with them before dinner or after dinner. He doesn't do all that daily stuff that's a little bit more challenging that requires a little more discipline. That's way more important than the vacations that you do twice a year. That's what these things are like. It's like you got to do the main stuff, the important stuff. If you really want to get some return for your time, spend your time there. Once you get that all down, then you can throw the other stuff.

Ben:  Then, you could put your trans direct cranial stimulation hat on before you go. 

Sal:  There's another one right there.

Ben:  Alright. So, I know we're getting a bit long in the tooth, but here's a fun one. This might seem like a negative question. I'm not asking this question to be negative, but I think it's just a, maybe, a fun little one to throw in there, Sal. What's the dumbest fitness trend that's out there right now, or the dumbest thing if you want to get more self-deprecatory, that you've done in your own fitness routine? What's something that you're just like, “This is ridiculous?”

Sal:  So, I'll start with a fitness trend that annoys the shit out of me. And, this is a little bit more, I guess, it's probably more relevant to the stage competition, stage presentation world. But, I can't believe this is still around. And, they're called Squeems. They look like corsets.

Ben:  Squeens?

Sal:  They're called Squeems, S-Q-U-E-E-M as in [01:13:33]_____.

Ben:  Well, I need to hear.

Sal:  And, they're essentially like a corset. And, what people do is they wear them around their waist, and they're very, very tight, in the pursuit of getting a smaller waist. And, it does shrink your waist because it atrophys the muscles of your core–

Ben:  Oh, geez.

Sal:  –to give you that smaller-looking waist on stage. It's probably the dumbest most dangerous thing that these people do. It's also so anti-fitness. I can't even believe people do this. I know a young lady, for example, that actually caused a blockage in her intestines as a result of this.

Ben:  Holy cow.

Sal:  Yeah. [01:14:08]_____ another guy [01:14:08]_____.

Ben:  I've never heard of it. It's called the Squeem. Well, this podcast is never going to be sponsored by Squeem, I guess.

Sal:  No, it's silly and it's ridiculous. And, they promote–You got some fitness influencer–I shouldn't say fitness. You have influencers like Kim Kardashian promoting shit like this to shrink your waist. And, it's really dangerous, really dumb. And, it does not belong. Atrophying muscles on purpose, why? Why would you ever do that? Especially, your core. Oh, my God.

Ben:  Why would you do it? For the curves, baby. What a dumb question that is. Alright. So, the dumbest fitness trend right now is a Squeem. What about the dumbest thing you've ever done?

Sal:  Oh, man, the dumbest stuff that I ever do in fitness is related to supplements. I have a bit of a dysfunctional relationship with supplements.

Ben:  A diarrhea story?

Sal:  Well, I love taking them. I love experimenting. It's a good time. And, this goes back when I was younger and I was reading chemistry books and I thought, “This is cool. Let's combine this.” So, this is back in the day when you could buy ephedra easily over the counter. So, I bought myself some ephedra, some caffeine. I bought some aspirin.

Ben:  Oh, geez. I see where this is going.

Sal:  Yeah. And so, I got the old ECA stack, ephedra caffeine aspirin. Aspirin, increasing the half-life in your body; ephedra, it's stimulating those receptors, beta-receptors; caffeine, it stimulates itself. And then, I read about yohimbes before it was actually popular.

Ben:  Throw that in there.

Sal:  The way yohimbe works is it's like–Here's the analogy. Ephedra, caffeine, and aspirin raises the temperature of the thermostat. Yohimbe raises the potential of the thermostat to go up even higher, takes the ceiling off. So, I bought all these supplements. I went to the local supplement store. And, the great person that owned the store behind the desk thought nothing of selling a 16-year-old a bottle of ephedra, caffeine, and yohimbe.

Ben:  For fitness.

Sal:  Very good. And, I took them all. And, I took them all at efficacious doses for themselves, not when they were combined, because I didn't realize what would happen. I took them. I went to the gym. And, it worked out for three hours. And then, I came home. I laid on my bed, felt my heart beating like it was going to come out of my chest. And, I remember thinking to myself, what a terrible way for my mom to find me tomorrow morning when I'm dead. This is not cool. Anyway, I've done a lot of that, Ben. I've done a lot of experimenting with supplements and combining things. And it's like 99% of the bad shit that I've done in fitness is related to that, [01:16:39]_____ see what happen.

Ben:  Dead but swole, baby.

Sal:  Not at all.

Ben:  What is the sarcoplasmic swelling that makes you look enormously buff for at least 12 hours after you've done your 300 pushups to get you ready for a date, so you got all that swelling? It's like that on steroids.

Sal:  Take a PDE5 inhibitor and do some BFR on your arms. There you go. [01:17:02]_____.

Ben:  I actually have done–and, this was actually based on an interview I did with somebody who's talking about PDE5 inhibitors and blood flow enhancement. I actually did Papa Viagra prior to a blood flow restriction training workout once. It's actually a pretty good workout. There's a reason that stuff's a performance-enhancing aid.

Sal:  Yeah, not to go off on a side here, but I predict PDE5 inhibitors to be, in the next 10 years, prescribed more and more as a preventative, as a health supplement, to prevent strokes and heart attacks because of the effects it has on the blood vessels. The science around those things is pretty cool.

Ben:  Yeah, off-label use.

Sal:  Totally.

Ben:  There's a bunch of natural PDE5 inhibitors, and I don't know. We might have to save that whole discussion for another day, like medicinal plants as phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors. There's a few of them out there.

Sal:  Totally.

Ben:  I think, totally, goat weed is one that's champion quite a bit. What do you call it, the Epimedium? [01:18:02]_____.

Sal:  That's a good one. Pycnogenol, try Pycnogenol. That's another one. That will give you a headache.

Ben:  I actually believe that ibogaine that a lot of people using plant medicine. Microdosing with ibogaine or South African Bush extract, that's supposed to be something that acts on PDE5 as well —

Sal:  Interesting.

Ben:  –so you can have your plant medicine journey and kick your ass in the gym simultaneously.

Well, Sal, we're running up against time. But, first of all, for all of you who have made it through this episode thus far, all of the Italians who I've managed to insult, and all the people who own electrical muscle stimulation companies who are no longer going to sponsor Sal's podcasts, besides those few listeners we've lost along the way, if you're still listening in, I'll put a link to Sal's book, to Sal's workout programs that he writes, and even to all the podcast episodes, if you enjoyed this one that Sal and me and his friends, Justin and Adam, have done with Mind Pump, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Sal. If you can't spell Sal, I'm sorry. BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Sal, S-A-L.

And, Sal, I want to thank you for coming on the show today. It's been a while since we've been able to connect. And, it's good to hear your voice.

Sal:  Ben, I appreciate it, man. We always appreciate you. Like I said, you're a good person, one of our favorite people in the space. So, thanks for having me on.

Ben:  Awesome. Well, folks, until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield, along with the great Italian immigrant, Sal Di Stefano, 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 helped 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, to use the promo codes that I generate because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.



My buddy and my guest on today's podcast—Sal Di Stefano—has a long history of podcasting with me, including on episodes such as:

I've also been a guest on his Mind Pump podcast a handful of times as well, including on the episodes:

Anyhow, Sal just wrote a book, entitled The Resistance Training Revolution: The No-Cardio Way to Burn Fat and Age-Proof Your Body―in Only 60 Minutes a Week. This new book promises to help you burn fat, build lean, sexy muscles, lose inches, and feel healthier, more energetic, and youthful than you ever have in your life…with a revolutionary new approach to resistance training.

In the book, Sal Di Stefano breaks down fitness misconceptions, shares his decades of industry knowledge, and brings you a comprehensive, accessible guidebook that will give you the body you’ve always wanted—in as little as 60 minutes a week. His book features:

  • More than 60 fat-burning, metabolism-boosting workouts you can do at home to sculpt your body and maximize your health and longevity
  • Raw fitness truths that will show you what works and what doesn’t. You’ll be shocked at how easy it is to build lean muscle and lose fat once you understand these truths, and once you train your body the right way
  • The newly discovered health benefits of resistance training in terms of heart health, bone strength, joint protection, and especially anti-aging
  • The exact formula for nutrition that makes losing fat, while sculpting your body a breeze and for the long term
  • Dozens of self-assessments to track your progress, and much more

Sal Di Stefano is a personal trainer and co-founder of Mind Pump Media and co-host of Mind Pump, an online radio show/podcast that is dedicated to providing truthful fitness and health information. He is also the designer of the Muscular Adaptation Programming System (MAPS Fitness Products). Sal is dedicated to prioritizing health over appearance, and he aims to shift the direction of the fitness industry from aesthetic and insecurity-based to one based on self-love and self-care.

During this discussion, you'll discover:

-What you'll find in Sal's new book…06:45

-When and why Sal got into personal training…12:10

  • 14 years old when he discovered dumbbells
  • By age 19, was general manager of 24-hr fitness chains
  • Started his own practice at age 22; goal was to merge fitness with wellness
  • Fitness is the most unassuming form of self-improvement that exists
  • Mind Pump is meant to appeal to the average person looking to better themselves

-How motives for pursuing fitness make all the difference in its efficacy…18:30

-A realistic timeframe for building muscle…31:30

  • There's a wide genetic window that defines a response to training
  • Younger folks respond faster
  • Are you new to exercise, or is it more familiar?
  • 8-10 lbs of new muscle the first year on average
  • You'll reach a point where you peak with muscle building
  • Muscle building is the only pro-positive tissue form of exercise
  • Testosterone levels as a whole have been dropping for decades
  • Huge difference between natural muscle building vs. synthetic via drugs
  • Simply sending a signal to the brain that muscle building is going on will enhance metabolism
  • High-stress lifestyle inhibits muscle building

-The essential equipment for a one-year muscle-building regimen…45:50

-Sal's thoughts on electrical muscle stimulation devices and wearables…51:55

-The efficacy of blood-flow restriction (BFR) training…57:13

-Thoughts on super-slow training…1:00:07

-Hyperthermia's effects on muscle gain and maintenance…1:05:25

  • Won't build muscle in a profound way
  • Simulates hormetic effect of exercise to a small degree
  • Being overly reliant on one training modality limits its effects
  • Do the hard stuff, then do the fun stuff to put the icing on the cake

-The most ridiculous, asinine, and downright silly fitness trends today…1:12:55

-And much more!…

Upcoming Events:

Resources from this episode:

Sal Di Stefano:

– Podcasts:

– Book and Gear:

– Other Resources:

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