In this episode of the Super Strength Show, Craig Weller takes us on his journey to becoming the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Precision Nutrition and serving 6 years in the Naval Special Operations. During this interview he teaches you how to find your purpose so you can master the fundamentals of strength.
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[0:00:18.1] RT: What’s up Strength Maniacs? And thanks for tuning. I’m pleased to welcome today’s guest, Craig Weller. Craig is the director of strength and conditioning at Precision Nutrition. Love those guys. Craig spent six years in Naval Special Operations as a special warfare combat crewman and close to two years on the high threat protection team for the US Ambassador to Baghdad and Iraq.
Craig trained special ops personnel for foreign governments on three different continents, has been published in the Journal of Strategic Studies and is now studying human performance and how it relates to motor and perceptual training. You can connect with him by visiting barefootfts.com and trainrogue.com and you can also find a bunch of his work on precision nutrition. So again guys, that’s barefootfts.com and trainrogue.com and of course then you have Precision Nutrition.
Craig, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you here. I’m looking forward to getting into this man. We’ve got quite the pre-show talk. This is becoming a bit of a habit I’ve noticed with myself and my guest. But let’s do this man, let’s knock this one out of the park. How about you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
[0:01:29.3] CW: Yeah, I mean when it comes to the fitness industry, I have a pretty unconventional background. Like I didn’t go through any of the channels that I think most people do. People ask me where I got my education like they see some of the writing I do or I am actually published in academic journals and I went to college at amazon.com and a hammock on deployment. I didn’t go through normal school.
I spent most of my 20’s in special operations world or doing private security work. So everything I learned was in a different way. I was really fortunate to have very good mentors throughout my 20’s when I was learning all these stuff and on deployment, in the military you have a lot of downtime sometimes if you’re lucky and a lot of guys will spend that time playing video games or goofing off or whatever and instead, I would fly out to wherever we’re going with just a huge box full of books and study everything I could.
And I’d correspond with these mentors of mine, who are usually professors or people who are really well established in the industry and they would give me their reading lists and tell me what to learn, what to study and it was actually a very efficient way of learning things because I could cut through all the bullshit. I didn’t have to spend half my time in school sitting through reading Shakespeare or doing some nonsense that’s unrelated to what I wanted to learn.
I came across the most up to date stuff that anyone was doing, like professors are friends of mine who would send me papers that weren’t published yet or things like that that I could read and then everything that I learned in the application sense was done with myself and with the other special operations guys that I worked with and a good part of my job was training personnel in other countries.
A group of seven or eight of us would drop into a country somewhere and train sometimes a couple of hundred other people to do a job like ours. So everything that I was learning, I was able to test on a really useful population, a very motivated group of people who had a very specific purpose. I did it in a way, you know like when you’re training say a bunch of guys in East Africa, you don’t have a collegiate weight room at your disposal.
You have sandbags and rocks and maybe a couple of dumbbells or something, so you have to get creative. But when you learn in doing that is the equipment is pretty arbitrary if you understand fundamentally what the human body does and what your training out comes are. You learn how to adapt any implement that you have in order to get the effect that you need.
A barbell, a dumbbell, a kettlebell or any of that stuff is just an arbitrary way of getting a training effect and if you train towards the physical outcome that you need rather than the equipment that you want to use, that you can get almost anything done without what’s in most gyms. A lot of that stuff actually is just distracting.
[00:04:12.8] RT: Yeah, I would agree with you. A lot of those extra goodies, they can distract you from the real productive stuff and that’s one of the benefits of people who sometimes train from home or very sparsely equipped gyms or very Spartan type of environments, you’re forced to do, for the most part, the productive stuff because you’re not getting caught up with all of the shiny new toys and whatnot at the gym. So arguably, they might have a place by adding some variety but I think the problem becomes when you use them in place of the more productive things.
[00:04:42.5] CW: Yeah, as long as you understand fundamentally what you are trying to accomplish and you’re not just complicating something for the sake of novelty because you don’t really know what you’re doing, it’s definitely useful. I used to use a lot of west side stuff. I still do sometimes and so if you are doing a west side power lifting workout, you have eight different types of bars or squat variations or whatever that you might do and that’s really useful. It is handy, but if you take that stuff away, it’s important to understand that you can still get strong and that you can still train. That kind of thing shouldn’t become a crutch for you.
[00:05:19.7] RT: Exactly, I mean people are getting strong hundreds if not thousands of years ago so yeah, I definitely agree with you on that. Craig, let’s do this man. Let’s jump into sharing one of the favorite success quotes and an example of how you’ve applied it to meaning to your training and life.
[00:05:35.7] CW: I was thinking about this earlier and I’m trying to decide between two different quotes. One of them, and I think the ultimate one is just “This too shall pass,” which I actually have tattooed across my knuckles and I got that. I used to actually just write it on my hands during selection training in the military sometimes and then on my first deployment, I got it tattooed but that encompasses everything I do.
Any philosophy at all I think you can distill down to that, which is to make the most — it’s not necessarily a negative thing. A lot of people take it like that like, “Oh my God, I must have sucked whenever you got that,” but it means to appreciate exactly where you are in the moment and to understand that the only real possessions that you have are your actions.
Everything else is going to go away and you’re not going to even remember really if you are comfortable, if you are happy, if you are sad whatever. You’re only going to remember what you did your choices I guess and that’s the legacy that you leave behind to the extent that any of us have a legacy. The second on, which I have painted on my wall for a while is a stoic quote. I could throw out 15 different stoic quotes. I’m really into stoicism.
But it’s an Epictetus one that, “First say to yourself what you would be and then do what you have to do,” and I really enjoy that or appreciate that sort of cult logic and I think that that as a guiding principle can be very helpful because it helps cut through a lot of bullshit I guess. Often, if we really think about it, we know what we need to do. There is just something in the way, something in between that’s keeping us from doing those things.
[00:07:17.6] RT: A thought of some sort.
[00:07:19.2] CW: Yeah and that’s the big battle with say nutrition coaching. Everybody who knows that broccoli is good for them or they should be eating vegetables. Nutrition coaching is not a cognitive process. People don’t need that information. You have to figure out what it is that’s keeping someone from doing the thing that they are already know is good for them, but on my end, I throughout a lot of my 20’s, put myself in situations where I didn’t have the option to be comfortable.
Or to let anything get in my way between doing what I had to do because I would have failed or I would have made it through selection, I wouldn’t have made it anywhere I was trying to go. so as an operating principle, I always had that. Just defying what you need to be and what you want to be and then do what you have to do which means, get out of bed and go do it, you know?
[00:08:08.9] RT: Get to work, right?
[00:08:10.4] CW: Yeah.
[00:08:10.5] RT: And guess what? Then you will become it. How about give us a couple more of the stoic quotes. It’s a very interesting philosophy to way to look at life.
[00:08:19.2] CW: Another one is, “It is according to opinion that we suffer,” or, “All things are opinion and opinion is under your control.” So if you follow this idea, stress is a response to a situation. It is not the situation itself. It’s entirely in your head whether you want to perceive it as negative or not and you have control over that opinion. For a good portion of my time in the military or in the early stages, I would get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and basically just get my ass kicked.
You can really wrap yourself up in your head about that. Like it sucks a lot to get out of bed at three in the morning especially at the time, I was in Chicago and it was winter time sometimes and it’s miserable but it doesn’t have to become a big deal if you don’t want it to become a big deal. The stress response that you have is largely in your head and I see a lot of that with the people that I worked with.
My business partner, John and I, we train a lot of special ops guys. One of the things that we’re teaching them is that these opinions are in your head. You don’t have to like something, you just have to do it and say you’re doing a five mile run or your 10 mile run or whatever, you are doing a two mile swim, the amount of stress that that causes you is up to you. It’s an opinion that you have. I think that one of the best things that any of us can do is understand that we can change our opinion of things at any time. It doesn’t have to control us.
[00:09:46.8] RT: It’s interesting because today’s society, we’re so focused on just getting away from any pain and just seeking pleasure all the time and not having to just suck it up and just deal with it but it’s so funny because what you said, a lot of that consternation is really self-inflicted. It’s opinion.
[00:10:06.8] CW: I think people are trading comfort for happiness and it’s easy to think of those two things as the same thing but if you look back on the highlight moments of your life, some of the best times that you’ve ever had, you are probably not terribly comfortable at those times. Often happiness and comfort are inversely correlated, like they occur at different times and a lot of the things that bring us the most meaning are the things that require that we suffer or that we struggle for them.
Like the original meaning of the word passion as in Passion of the Christ, that sort of cliché thing, was a Latin word patior, which means to suffer and endure and I hope I am quoting that right. But passion, when people say, “I’m really passionate about this,” what that word originally meant was it was something for which you are willing to suffer. It’s not like something you enjoy that makes you happy. Like, “I’m passionate about ice cream.”
It’s something that you’re willing to struggle for and often, it’s the things that we struggle for that bring us the most meaning in our lives and happiness is sort of the byproduct of meaning. That’s a Viktor Frankl thing, that happiness cannot be directly pursued. That’s just simple hedonism, but you can pursue meaning and engagement and as you do things that are meaningful for you, which probably means that you’re going to suffer for them or struggle in order to attain them, that’s going to bring you happiness.
Often comfort is not a direct step in that process. It’s not a bad thing at all to appreciate comfort and just sit in front of a fireplace with a glass of wine and read a book or whatever and be happy or be comfortable sitting there but if that’s the only thing that you do, boredom is going to crush you and your life is going to be bland.
[00:11:55.4] RT: It’s interesting how words have meanings and there’s a reason why we have words and words are created and there is a reason why they have these meanings to describe certain things and truly understanding what it is that you’re saying, telling yourself and telling others. Really getting your head wrapped around what it is that you truly want to say and go after and the words that you’re using, I think it’s important because as you said, passion, Passion of the Christ, passion from the term Pati which means suffer in Latin, to a lot of people and probably quite a few of us out there were like, “Oh wow, I didn’t always know that.”
And I highly doubt that the majority of us did, maybe I am speaking out of turn here but when you start to understand that things are to make a little bit more sense and I think what you said is very interesting. I think it is a very good point that comfort and happiness often times are inversely related. The times that you are the happiest were not necessarily when you are the most comfortable. I mean just think of people who go through the various testing phases they need to go. I mean a lot of the stuff, like in the military, is shown on TV now.
You see these guys they are beaten to a pulp. There is nothing left, they’re cold, they’re hungry, they’re starving, they’re so miserable and then when they pass, just the joy on their face and who knows. Some people may say, “Well yeah because it’s over.” Well no, you could ring the bell and it could be over and then it’s over. You’re not happy then are you? It’s the accomplishment that leads to that happiness and I think we have to be, also in the flip side have to say that doesn’t necessarily mean try to make something more complicated because if you try to make it more complicated, more difficult, it will make you difficult, it will make you happier.
So there are people who have I think that trait where they make things more complicated than what they need to be or more difficult than what they need to be. Is it as satisfying to reach the top of the mountain when there is an elevator that you could take to get out there versus climbing the side of it? I mean I don’t know at times, I think it depends what it is you are ultimately trying to do. This argument when you take a dollar to the bank, the bank really doesn’t care how hard you have to work for that dollar. It doesn’t make any difference to them. A dollar is a dollar at the end of the day. So there are certain areas we need to take a look at this at certain ways but I think what you’re saying is very true.
[00:14:06.4] CW: Yeah, there is definitely an art to applying that idea. I mean you don’t want to just say that the most meaningful things are the ones that you struggle for, for which you’re willing to suffer, doesn’t mean you have to suffer needlessly. You want to define a meaningful goal or something. Understand that the thing that you’re working towards, the thing that you find meaningful is ultimately what brings value to it. The suffering, what you’re willing to do along the way is a necessary part of that but it’s not the primary purpose.
Suffering or struggling in itself is not the purpose. It’s that you’re willing to do that along the way towards something that is meaningful because I think there is value in struggle or suffering or paying for something that’s worth having. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to line my kitchen floor with mouse traps in order to get coffee in the morning. I’m not going to like unnecessary struggle with things. That’s the Peter Drucker, the management guy, something he harps on a lot is that, “There is nothing worse than doing efficiently what should not be done at all.”
[00:15:12.2] RT: Yeah, good point, exactly.
[00:15:14.0] CW: That’s another important thing. I’ve often heard growing up heard the phrase of like being afraid of success or people are afraid to succeed and thought it was curious. But overtime I’ve felt myself doing that and clearly defining a goal and doing the things that would directly bring you to that goal versus spinning in circles and being really preoccupied with being busy but not necessarily being productive.
[00:15:42.4] RT: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting you say that because if you look at what it really took you to achieve a goal, you will see that the majority of the stuff that you did was arguably a waste of time or resulted in very little progress towards that goal. Yeah, minimalism, I have seen this for a while there a few years ago, there is this big push and it seemed to be, I don’t know if it still.
This concept of minimalism where people are just getting rid of everything in their life almost. “Oh, I feel so much better.” Now, to the point where having things is a bad thing, I don’t know about that. I think it is a good idea taken too far. That being said, I do believe that the general idea behind it is important and that there’s a lot of wasted time, a lot of wasted activity, wasted energy just on stuff that is not going to get you anywhere. It’s just busy work — busy work, busy work, busy work, you know?
[00:16:31.6] CW: Yeah, totally.
[00:16:33.0] RT: It’s kind of like, “I’m so busy…”
[00:16:34.3] CW: You heard the 10,000 hours rule that Malcolm Gladwell made popular. The author or the researcher who was behind that concept, who threw out the 10,000 hours number, his research was terribly distorted by Gladwell. He actually published another paper following Gladwell’s stuff that had a funny title. It was something like The Dangers of Leaving Science to Journalists or something like that but in Ericsson’s research, the 10,000 hours thing was only one factor in this picture.
It wasn’t necessarily fixed at 10,000 hours of effort or practice that someone needed to become an expert in something. What they were looking at was given that same amount of time, say 8,000 or 10,000 hours of practice, there is some people who become really, really good, who become world class musicians or whatever they’re studying and then there are other people who put in roughly the same amount of time and practice who don’t improve all that much. It’s not just the volume of time that you put in, it’s also the quality of that time.
[00:17:40.5] RT: Yeah, it’s that whole saying, “It’s not practice makes perfect but perfect practice makes perfect.”
[00:17:45.1] CW: Yeah and I think in the fitness industry especially, that’s where we go wrong so often. We put a lot of time into something but it’s not necessarily the best thing or the most productive thing. It’s like Peter Drucker saying, “We’re getting good at doing something that doesn’t need to be done at all.”
[00:18:03.8] RT: Good points to keep in mind and again, I think in everyday life, when you’re nose is to the grindstone, it’s very easy to allow things to seep in and slip into your life and every now and then, it’s important to pull back, reassess. That’s why it’s good to have some type of accountability partner or a friend of some sort that is as dedicated as you are to improve in life or just to check in things every now and then, see how you’re doing.
That’s why it is helpful to have a coach or mentor of some sort because it’s challenging when you’re doing the thing, you’re not watching the person do the thing. It’s completely different vantage point and it’s a different perspective then. It’s helpful to have somebody there to put you back on track. It’s so easy to bit by, bit by, bit and you start justifying why you’re doing things.
You don’t even realize that you’re doing that and all of a sudden, you’re way off course and you’re frustrated. It’s like, “I’m not getting the results I want and things are not the way I want them to be. I am not happy. I wonder what’s going on here?” And there’s the saying entropy right? Where things kind of fall back down into orbit and I think when you launch into a new endeavor of all the good best intentions in the world and you got a lot of “umph” in the beginning and you’re driving towards that goal.
But then the minute you start getting into it, you start getting mired and the morass of real world, real life and if there is someone there to help you stay on track, our natural inclination to arguably go towards comfort because there is a whole saying that we tend to — we will avoid pain even if it means expensive withholding pleasure, we will do whatever we can to avoid pain.
If that is a natural inclination the human animal, the human psyche which makes sense, cross the field there, the savannah, the opening. I see a tree loaded with fruit and I am looking at it from the tree line and if I run over there and grab them and bring them back, oh man, I’m going to have all the ladies after me because I’m going to have all the good stuff right?
I’ll be the coolest kid in town but at the same time, it’s a bit of a ways away. I might get run down by a sabretooth hyena or jackal or whatever right? Like some wooly mammoth short face gorilla might grab me and eat me, maybe that’s not such a good idea. Yeah, I would rather live. So yeah, I think that’s where that whole idea of we avoid pain even if it means not achieving the pleasure that we want.
If that’s naturally within us then yeah, we have it. We have the ability to bit by bit by bit get off track and not even realize and at the time, we probably think we’re doing things that are actually moving us closer to what we want when the reality is it’s not. That’s where it helps having somebody kind of from the outside guide us and watch us.
[00:20:45.6] CW: Yeah, there is actually a good amount of research on that that’s really interesting. Daniel Gilbert did some of it and then Dan Kahneman and some of the cognitive bios guys that did more of it. On Gilbert’s side, they looked at regrets and what people think. In the present moment what you think you would regret the most if you were to do it and people in the present moment think that what they would regret the most is failure or a choice that they make that ends badly.
So they regret the consequences of an action or a decision and in reality or in truth, if you take those some people five years later and ask them what they regret the most that they did in the past in reality now that they have this data, the things that people truly regret are the things that they did not do. The things that they left undone. So we fear making decisions because we think that we’re doing what we really regret the consequences if they go badly but objectively, if we look at the things that we generally regret the most in our past, it’s the consequences of inaction, of not making a decision and not doing something.
Failures or setbacks or you’re screwing something up doesn’t have as much of a negative impact as we think. But in the present moment looking forward, it’s hard to take risks or to make a decision that we know might go badly because on the cognitive bio side, yeah we’re prone to this thing called negativity bias where we put a lot more sally and emphasis on a loss or negative things in on equal positive things.
So you’re going to be more pissed off about losing $5 than you would be motivated to find a way to gain $20. That loss has a stronger impact on you for whatever reason and evolutionarily, it may have made sense like in your savannah example, but in a lot of modern scenarios, it’s a maladaptive bias. It doesn’t help us.
[00:22:45.3] RT: Right, yeah because the conditions have changed somewhat. It’s the same thing with people speaking their opinion. It’s like back in the day, you don’t want to be ostracized from the group because good luck surviving on your own. Rambo exists in the movies and that’s about it. Go into any special forces group, I mean I haven’t done so myself but I highly doubt that you’re going to find Rambo to the extent that he’s portrayed in the movies.
It doesn’t happen man, that’s in the movies for a reason. You are part of a group, you’re a part of the unit, this is the way it is for survival’s sake because surviving on your own is just not going to happen way back when but nowadays, again, it’s not like you want to be ostracized by any means. It’s still not a good thing to be ostracized especially on a public stage.
[00:23:29.4] CW: Yeah, not to be publicly shamed.
[00:23:31.0] RT: Yeah, exactly but it is not as much of a problem as it was at one point. It’s not as dire as a consequence to speak your mind as it was at one point. Again, you could be character assassination and all these things and they can result in some problems. For the most part, you’re not going to necessarily lose your life to that extent and die, to actually die. You may lose your life as, I don’t know, tenure at a university if you say something the wrong way. Maybe?
I don’t know, maybe get pass up for promotion but yeah, you’re right. It’s funny because you don’t make that decision, you don’t want to screw up and at the time, that makes sense. “I don’t want to mess it up, that’s not good,” but then looking back the screw up was, “I didn’t make a decision. I didn’t take a decision and move forward.” Interesting. In that 10,000 hour rule, I always question the 10,000 hour rule. I never felt that it was cut and dry, it was put across.
It made sense you have to practice but it did not seem — because I always thought to myself, “What if I had the world’s greatest instructor, the best instructor in the world? And that person is able to keep me on track and maintain my practice to the highest level possible, realistically possible.” I have a feeling that I would progress way quicker than if I was just with an average teacher and we were just trying to clock in 10,000 hours.
And I think the reason for the 10,000 hours and I may be wrong it’s an idea I had, it’s probably because a vast majority of that time, you’re not performing “perfect practice”. It takes you long to fumble around and if you really look at all those hours, it’s like the 80-20 rule. Arguably, probably a very small percent of whatever, 20%, five, 10% of it was really the type of practice that was on point that moved you towards your ultimate goal.
[00:25:10.8] CW: Yeah and that’s what Anders Ericsson found in his research to really develop world class expertise in something is going to take a lot of hours, eight, 10,000, 12,000 hours something like that but he and his other colleague coined the term “deliberate practice”. Breaking down the nature of the practice that people who became really talented used and there’s a few really interesting parts of that. Like first, they found that innate talent or “natural ability” that people showed when they first started trying something was not really at all predictive of their eventual success or their eventual ability or potential.
So how good someone else is when they start has very little to do with how good they can become. That initial baseline is pretty arbitrary and the second thing was there’s a big qualitative difference in the way experts practice or people who become experts, how they practice versus how the mediocre majority practices. Looking at, like a lot of original research was on musicians and the people who became world class at what they did spend a lot of time deliberately practicing the hardest part of their skill sets and spend a lot more time in solitude.
They practiced by themselves doing the hard part consciously, deliberately focusing on it whereas the people who stayed mediocre and didn’t really improve, those people, they went through the motions. They put in just as many hours but they were more playing through entire songs, playing through entire sets just making — they’re making music, they’re going through the motions and doing the same thing.
[00:26:50.9] RT: It’s really easy. It’s like lifting a weight for 10 reps that you are able to do without breaking a sweat. That’s only going to get you so far and then that’s it. You’re done. You’re not going to really progress past that point. You have to push it and that’s what you’re talking about. I think the Talent Code I believe talked about this and I believe that’s where I heard the term deliberate practice because at the time that it was Outliers, the 10,000 rule, was it in Outliers?
[00:27:13.7] CW: I believe so, yeah.
[00:27:15.1] RT: When that came out, it was three, four, five books that came out like one after the other. The Talent Code was one of the Talent is a Myth or something. I can’t remember them all now but anyway, they all had bits and pieces. It sounds like maybe they took different pieces from that study, who knows?
[00:27:29.0] CW: Yeah, probably well or maybe they parroted with Gladwell was saying. So it’s again that game of telephone, you know? Distorted a little bit each step to fit your narrative and by the time you’re done, it doesn’t match at all, which happens a lot with these pop culture books.
[00:27:45.2] RT: Oh definitely, yeah but I believe in Talent Code, I think they talk about the quality of the instructor was a big deal. The quality of the instructor, and they said that a lot of these instructors and I am going off memory, I could be way off base here, a lot of these instructors they’re not necessarily world class talent. Many of these people fell short and then they went and developed their ability to becoming extremely good instructor and teacher and so I think that plays back to the whole concept of making sure that the vast majority of the practice that the student was engaged in was of the nature or the type that allowed them to improved.
They said it again, it was in the Talent Code that they are right up against the edge of what they were doing and again, that makes sense. It’s like training right shy of failure or just right at that failure range, right around there is kind of like the sweet spot for training when it comes to your muscles and to the brain and however neuroplasticity works and rewiring things and skill enhancement but I think it was a fine line. You didn’t want to push it too far because they felt like they were too much of a failure.
[00:28:47.4] CW: Exactly, yeah. You can look at Systems Theory again with this and they call it “the edge of chaos”. So as humans, we are complex adaptive systems. We’re essentially systems of systems and that’s on multiple scales or multiple power laws where cell by cell, we are a collection of cells. A collection of different parts of the brain that eventually make up a brain. A collection of different organs that make up other systems. So we’re systems of systems and one of the rules that applies to complex adaptive systems is, well there is a few.
One of them is that equilibrium is death or that we are less alive in equilibrium, because we’re systems that have to be constantly adapting and if you’re in stasis, if you’re in what’s called forced equilibrium where you are deliberately avoiding challenge and adaptation, you’re effectively dying sort of like that shark analogy. Like if a shark stops swimming, he dies.
Another part of that is that we are most adaptive when we’re on the edge of chaos. So there’s that line that you’re talking about where in equilibrium, when everything is normal, we’re sitting on the couch drinking wine, nothing is happening. We’re not really adapting to anything. We’re adapting to doing nothing. You can cross that line and go further, so you do some soul crushing workout that actually breaks you down and pushes you into chaos where you start to fall apart, you can no longer control anything.
You’re not really adapting then either because you’re beyond your capacity and you’re broken. So yeah, there’s a good deal of training and not necessarily all of it. I’m still puzzling some of them out, but a good deal of training is finding ways to put yourself on the edge of chaos. So that you’re — think of like a boat moving in a really heavy ocean like an ocean that is pitchy and rolling with a lot of waves.
You’re at the helm, you’re in control and you are steering but you’re reactively rolling through a lot of waves. You’re moving all over the place in order to go in one direction. So it’s not entirely flat and smooth and controlled but you do know where you’re going and you are steering versus say equilibrium would be a boat that’s anchored to a pier and you’re just sitting there doing nothing.
At the other end of this spectrum, you cross the line and you’re a shipwreck and yeah, a good deal of training is — and then that relates to this deliberate practice idea. A big component of deliberate practice is avoiding automated behavior. Like if you look into the research on motor learning or even stress inoculation as well, motor learning occurs in three different somewhat distinct phases.
Cognitive, associative and autonomous. One, two and three. The autonomous stage is the last stage, which is where you’re skill whatever you’re doing is assumed to be mastered and in your subconscious mind it’s good enough and at that point, the skill doesn’t really improve a whole lot. You don’t really focus on it. It just happens below consciousness. So think of driving.
Like how many times have you arrived home in your car and have no memory of how you got there because the skill of driving home from work which when you are 16 and learning to drive was really complicated. You’ve done it so many times that you’ve effectively mastered that skill at least in your opinion, you’ve mastered it and it is happening below consciousness. And once you do that, you stop improving at it.
In fact, a lot of people overtime will get worst at an automated skill if they don’t have negative feedback. They found that with the medical industry, somewhat terrifyingly. People in the medical field who don’t have immediate negative feedback in what they do, a lot of general practice doctors or a radiologist diagnosing a tumor on an x-ray. If they’re wrong, they make a mistake or they screw something up, they often don’t know it.
So if you don’t see that tumor on the x-ray, you’re not going to know that five minutes later or an hour later, maybe that person comes back in a year later and they’re tumor is bigger and more visible and it gets diagnosed then, but you don’t know that. And so people tend to baseline their current decision making or their current behavior off of their past behaviors that they called self-hurting where they referenced the past decision making in order to buy us or determine our future decision making, so we basically automate everything. And so these doctors who have very little or no negative feedback and their occupation overtime actually get worse and the performance of their job which is kind of scary.
[00:33:14.7] RT: Perishable skills, right?
[00:33:16.9] CW: Yeah, they have 10 or 20 years of experience, you would assume that that makes them better at something and this happens in the fitness industry too. It doesn’t necessarily make them better and they actually get worse because any mistake becomes an anchor point. A flaw decision making process gets referred to again and get cemented in further whereas say a surgeon has immediate negative feedback and a surgeon screws up, he watches his patient bleed out on the table or die.
So you know if you make a mistake, so people like surgeons tend to continuously improve. Taking that back to strength training and this deliberate practice thing, the people who get better are avoiding automated behavior. They’re avoiding that mode of driving where you don’t even realize you’re driving and they’re finding ways to put themselves back into the earlier stages of motor learning where it’s highly associative it’s more deliberate and focused and the skill is more malleable or plastic.
That’s a big part of how you break that automation cycle where your skills stops improving, which generally means doing the hard part. It means, like everyone has something in the gym that they’re comfortable with, a lot of bench press bros like the 20 year old guys that bench press three days a week or whatever. There are the things that they’re comfortable with doing.
Generally, those are the things that you need the least and the thing that you should be doing is the one that makes you really uncomfortable and that you know that you suck at and we have a tendency to avoid that, but looking at that motor learning thing again and this is something that’s been in the research since the 60’s, there’s the thing called the hypothesis of par.
Par meaning like the expected score of a golf course like the standard sort of. Looking at these stages and motor learning, they did a lot of this initial research on typist and telegraph operators even earlier and they noticed that, or they saw that people improved pretty linearly with time at first, and then at some point they level off and they stop getting any better. And the interesting things is the point at which people stop getting any better is arbitrary. It has very little to do with what you’re actually capable of doing.
So I don’t know typing numbers that well but say like an average person levels off at 60 to 80 words a minute of typing. If you really wanted to, you could type at 200 words a minute, you’d be so much faster but at some point, people relegate that skill to “good enough land”. They considered it mastered, they arbitrarily consider it to be mastered and they stop thinking about it just like you stop thinking about driving anymore, which is actually something that does happen with cars.
Everyone improved pretty quickly at driving when they were 16, started to learn how to drive but if you look out on the freeway, there’s people who are 40, 50 years old who haven’t gotten any better at driving in 30 years despite being behind the wheel every day because that skill is automated and so that same thing is happening in the weight room or in the gym or whatever. Anyone at some point is going to automate their skill and just kind of write it off as good enough and they stop thinking about it.
It happens shockingly early and the level of automation or the level at which that skill is automated, say your squat pattern, how well you do a pull up, any of the basic fundamental things that a body does. The way you push and pull, the way your hips move on a lunge without a good structure, like what you are saying earlier about a good coach, people will arbitrarily automate that skill and write it off as good enough.
And from there, the quality of that skill is not going to change much. It may even get worst and so say you walk through a commercial gym or a CrossFit gym where people are competing at exercising faster than each other because they’re not really breaking down the quality of movements. There is a process you would call stress inoculation. They’re not really following a process of deliberately manipulating motor learning in order to automate skills that are very high level of quality so that that skill can be recalled under stress.
If you walk through any commercial gym and look around what you’re seeing is about the same level of motor skill that all of those people had on the first day they walked in. Then you have an immediate selection effect. So if someone happens to move really well or pretty well so they squat well, they can do a pushup without blowing their shoulders apart. They can do a lunge and not destroy their hips or their back, they’ll do okay. They’ll do fine and maybe they’ll train well for years and they’ll get good results.
While other people come in and they’ve got some kind of movement flaw. They spend nine hours a day at desk, they spend another two hours a day in their car and then they come home and sit in a chair, their movement is going to suck when they show up. They’re going to have inherent flaws like on the spectrum of quality as far as what the squat pattern looks like or what this push or pull or lunge looks like.
It’s flawed in a way, it’s at a low enough level of competency that overtime, it’s going to hurt them and you see this evolutionary process playing out where a given client or a given trainee in a gym is just rolling the dice and whatever arbitrary level of movement quality they have when they show up is the movement that they’re going to have for the rest of their life or the rest of their time training there.
Then you take say a CrossFit type model or anything where people are motivated to train intensely. When you apply stress to a pattern, you increase complexity and stress, you’re almost automatically causing that or making that pattern automated. You’re relegating it to where it’s no longer plastic, it’s no longer associative and really capable of changing and adapting. You’re putting a pattern into a place where it’s not going to change anywhere because it has to be recalled really quickly and under stressed.
So say you take a gym model where people are doing really intense work outs very early, that’s exacerbating this effect where the movement quality is going to be automated at whatever level they start out at and it’s going to stay that way and it’s probably going to get worse which is why you look at, I’m going to pick on CrossFit again, the people who tend to do well with that are people who have previous deliberate training.
[00:39:36.6] RT: Yeah, athletes.
[00:39:37.7] CW: You were a college athlete, yeah. You came from a legitimate training background where you deliberately practiced quality and you build that into what you do and you probably also have, in terms of energy systems, you probably have a much better aerobic base. You have other things that sort of optimize or facilitate your ability to benefit from this intense aerobic workouts, those people are going to be the outliers and they’re going to do really well.
They’re going to survive this sort of grinding selection process where what often happens is people point to those outliers and say, “This is what this intervention does, this is what this type of workout does. Look at how good this person is,” and new people coming in are going to look at those outliers because they’re also the ones that are still there a year later because they’re not having a shoulder surgery. They’re going to think that that’s what they’re capable of doing.
But the initial conditions are entirely different from person to person. So someone who spends eight hours a day at a desk and was never a trained athlete who formally deliberately practiced quality in their movements, they do not have the initial conditions to have the same outcome as this other people that they’re looking at. And their effectively — they’re being deceived and six months to a year later, they’re going to be broken or at the very least going to have wasted a lot of their time.
They don’t know that. The system is designed to avoid showing them that when they began. They won’t know it. Tike we were talking about earlier, the lag, the time it takes for the problems that are going to happen for those problems to manifest is far enough away from the onset of the activity, that they’re going to have a hard time connecting it as well.
You end up with this odd phenomenon where almost everyone who trains in a commercial gym, like a poorly controlled commercial gym or same thing with the CrossFit box or any other P90X in front of their television. It worked great for three months or six months or a year and then this injury came out of nowhere and you’re looking around and yeah, like how many of you have had an injury come out of nowhere? And are you looking at any statistics on this?
Are you paying attention to how many people have a mystery injury? And I guess, you won’t necessarily notice because when someone goes away because of an injury, they go away and they’re no longer in your sample that you’re observing and you’re only observing the people who are still surviving, who have been arbitrarily selected.
I think that would be called a restricted range problem in your observation. And yet, it happens constantly. It’s, I think, a big part of what our industry does if you look at anyone who has been training in a gym for a while say 10 years, 15, 20 years. Almost all of them have some kind of a problem, have limitation, have pain, have a dysfunction where now they can’t do what they could do before. Like what we were talking about earlier, people will write that off as random chance or as just a natural consequence of aging.
[0:42:41.9] RT: Right, yeah.
[0:42:42.7] CW: But if what we’re doing is designed to make people, we would have to get back into this thing of defining your purpose, but if what we’re doing is design to make people fit, healthy, capable human beings for the rest of their lives, it should not produce chronic pain or limitation 10 or 15 years into the process. This is another Systems Theory thing that in any open system, any boundary within a system is arbitrary.
So let’s say I want to talk about how much you can deadlift today. Now, I can create a story and tell myself that how much you deadlift is the direct result of the space math in your training program and the workouts that you’ve done for three or four weeks and how much you dead lifted last week and the week before and the percentages in your program and what your progression is and whatever.
Your deadlift today kind of sucks and it’s lower than the expectations we had. We could look at the other things that can affect that system like your body and the outcomes that it produces. Maybe you’re hung over, maybe your girlfriend broke up with you yesterday and maybe you had really shitty sleep? Maybe you had a great day because you had really good sleep and you had a promotion at work the day before your favorite football team won and that actually increased your testosterone levels, which is a thing.
We have to look at all of the things that can influence a system. There are no real boundaries within a system, you can have a weird genetic variant that changes your strength output or distribution of muscle fibres or whatever. A second really important concept in looking at humans as complex systems is that there is no such thing as a side effect. There are only primary effects and when people call them a side effect, it’s a primary effect that they didn’t want to acknowledge or were incapable of understanding or perceiving.
So if I want to get you stronger, the outcome that I want is making you stronger at deadlifting at picking up a metal bar off the floor, I give you a training program and it makes you stronger. You go from a 400 pound deadlift to a 450. When you’re done, you also have chronic back pain and now whenever you deadlift again or when you pick up your groceries or you grab your kid, your back hurts. That’s not a side effect of my program, that’s a direct effect, it’s a primary effect of the program.
[0:44:59.9] RT: Yeah, the program caused that, something is not right.
[0:45:01.9] CW: Yes.
[0:45:03.3] RT: It should not be doing that and therefore if it is then…
[0:45:08.3] CW: Yeah, I can ignore it, I can pretend that it came out of nowhere or it’s an accident or just a random bit of noise in the data. But the truth is, it was built into the program and it was no less inevitable than the strength that you gained in that deadlift, I gave you back pain. Just like marketing a drug, sometimes they’ll realize that a drug has a side effect that’s fun and it can be useful and suddenly the drug is marketed for an entirely different purpose. What was a side effect is now what the drug is for.
[0:45:39.5] RT: I’m laughing because I’m thinking about the one I think you’re referring to.
[0:45:42.3] CW: Yeah, I think…
[0:45:43.3] RT: There’s a lot of them but yeah.
[0:45:45.6] CW: Wasn’t it a heart medication?
[0:45:46.6] RT: Yeah, it’s like some heart medication and they realize everybody’s sex life was…
[0:45:49.6] CW: “Oh it gives boners too, huh!”
[0:45:51.2] RT: Yeah, this is interesting.
[0:45:55.0] CW: “We just became rich.” It’s the same way in training and we’re talking about lag times in a system. You have an input, how long does it take for this consequence to take hold or to manifest in a way that you can observe it. Typically metabolic changes say fat loss, muscle gain, things like that are quick or more quick to manifest. You can see fat loss from a training program in a couple of weeks.
If people are trying to measure as a marker of quality or the purpose of their workout, they’re trying to measure pain or fatigue or how sweaty they got, they could see that immediately. But the things that last longer also tend to take longer to manifest. Chronic movement pattern imbalances, asymmetries that end up causing problems. Chronic injury kind of stuff, back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, that’s usually not going to happen within the first month or two or three of your program.
Once you have it’s also not going to go away in one or two months either. But, following the same idea, there are no real side effects, there are only primary effects that we don’t pay attention to and any boundary in the system is arbitrary. We have to account for as many influences and outcomes as we can think of in the system. That injury that you get six months in is just as inevitable as the fat loss and the muscle gain that you saw in month one, we’re just not capable of perceiving it.
A lot of the industry is built around focusing on those early effects, either the really short term stuff like, “Look how sweaty and confused this makes you,” or, “Look at made you lose body fat in four weeks.” We end up with people who have to go through the same cycle of chasing those short term effects over and over. Over time, those long term things are manifesting more and more and creating more and more disruption and their ability to continue training.
“I did P90X three years ago and it was awesome and then I did it again, I did CrossFit for three months and then I went to a commercial gym and I hired a trainer and we did circuits forever. All of those times, every time we did it, I lost weight and I gained some muscle and I felt better for a while but then my back kept hurting more and more and more and now I’m to the point where I can’t really work out much anymore. It hurts to tie my shoes, I don’t sleep well anymore.”
Looking at say autonomic variability, which is not something that we normally tie in to a program. If you’re not reinforcing someone’s autonomic variability to where they can activate well, they have like a strong cortisol awakening response in the morning, they can appropriately select a strategy like the amount of output or stress response they need to do an exercise or do an activity, but you’re probably also shutting down their ability to sleep and recover because you’re specializing them in only using a stress based pattern to accomplish anything.
[0:48:42.9] RT: Oh so you’re saying that they train themselves to be just hyped out of their mind to do anything?
[0:48:48.9] CW: To answer everything with a stress response, yeah.
[0:48:51.2] RT: So be really pumped up for anything or hyped up for anything is what you’re saying?
[0:48:53.7] CW: Yeah. I need death metal and smelling salts and I have to have my friend slap me in the face to go deadlift, whatever. Every workout is kicking your ass. Eventually you’re specializing yourself in a way that your nervous system learns that everything requires a stress response. It becomes worse and worse. I work with a couple of adventure athletes, people who just run in a straight line for a really long way.
Some of them where they’ve done a lot of CrossFitty workouts, a lot of intense training, they bought into that interval solve everything thing that was in the mid-2000’s. You have people who can’t run like a fairly easy eight minute pace without jacking their heart rate to like 165 beats a minute because they have to kind of put everything on the big deal chart and it becomes a maladaptive strategy over time to where things that you should be able to accomplish easily and without a significant stress response, now have to be done with a stress response.
With a raising heart rate with a ton of tension with a strong extension pattern, a lot of lower back tension. People get locked into these patterns and over time it solidifies and overtime it solidifies and they can’t get out. They can’t sleep well, they can’t move without exhausting themselves, they don’t’ recover as well even moment to moment, they just can’t shut down. It’s another unintentional effect that gets built into a lot of our programs.
[0:50:23.5] RT: That’s interesting. I didn’t really think about that before that you train yourself to respond like that to your training all the time, because if you’re constantly doing that well then you’re training the body to do that. So therefore it will respond like that whenever you give it that type of stimulus. That’s interesting.
Craig, we’re going to go to a break and we’ll come back, we got a couple of questions, we’re going to finish up the show here and man, we’ve been covering a wide array and variety of topics, so this has been very interesting. Guys, we got our guest today Craig Weller and he’s from barefootfts.com, we’re going to be right back, hold on to your dumbbells.
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[0:52:06.2] RT: All right guys, we’re back with Craig. Craig Weller from trainrogue.com. He’s also from barefootfts.com and he contributes to PN, Precision Nutrition but he does more than that, you’ve created — what’d you create for them? You’re a lot more just a contributor to a few articles.
[0:52:22.7] CW: Yeah. PN, I kind of created their entire exercise system for how we deliver workouts and with the nature of those workouts are. It’s still a bit of a working progress but the way we structure how we teach people exercises in videos, how the program or the platform delivers it. We made what should be a very adaptable system so that people are profiled when they come into the program.
They’re not just given one cookie cutter workout but they’r profiled based on who they are and they’re given a workout that’s kind of created for them with a lot of different possibilities whether they’re like fat loss, muscle gain, recomposition guide. If they have a particular injury or what type of injury that is, they’re going to be on a 12 month program that addresses that and it’s adaptable at different scales. So the end user, the client, can choose, they can modify and exercise, they can pick a different type of workout.
Like every day they can choose, they want a full length workout, they want an at home workout that’s going to be like just a dumbbell and a band or really simple stuff or a quick workout that’s like 20, 30 minutes long. Then within the workout they can modify any exercise to make it harder or easier so it’s a very adaptable system. That’s a lot of what I’ve been doing with PN. That and writing some of their content and curriculum stuff and writing some articles for them.
[0:53:36.5] RT: Beautiful, that’s a fantastic organization, good group, John Brerardi is awesome. I mean there’s a lot of great people over there. We had Kate Solovieva on the other day and just a bunch of you guys man, you guys are awesome.
All right. Here we go, we kind of went off script a little bit the way we did things with this interview and that’s great. Nothing wrong with some new stuff. Now you’re telling me though, I got a couple of questions I want to ask you about your biggest challenge, your biggest breakthrough and you’re saying that they kind of flow out of each other.
So let’s do that. Tell us about one of the biggest challenges you’ve had in your training in life. Tell us the lessons you learned and then obviously, as I just said here, you’re saying that that led to one of your biggest breakthroughs. So let’s hear it.
[0:54:16.0] CW: So I grew up in South Dakota, flat land kind of middle of nowhere kind of place. Swimming wasn’t really a thing there. We had a swimming pool in the town I grew up in but it was like the size of a bathtub and the furthest you’d swim is like from the bottom of the diving board to the side of the pool. So I did the smart thing and joined a naval special operations program or you’re in the water constantly, you always have to swim and I knew it would be challenging, I did not expect that I would be like remarkably bad at it. Like immune to learning.
So I struggled with it my entire time in. Your screen test, your initial test that you take like to meet the minimum physical standards, it’s like a 500 meter swim, a couple of mile and a half run, stuff like that. You have three shots to pass it. I failed it twice and passed it on my last try by like I think seven seconds or 13 seconds or something like that. Just barely squeaked by. Made it through that, did another six months and sort of like preparatory training, getting basically beat up every day.
Went to selection in San Diego in Coronado Island and it was about two weeks from graduating the physical side of the selection phase and my swim buddy and I failed to swim. Timed, like an open ocean swim in like full uniform. We had 45 minutes to finish this swim and we did it in 46:02. So a minute and two seconds short. We got rolled out of training and because we were far enough into training, they didn’t just drop us completely, they just had to start over.
So we had to spend another four months, as switch students, we were the first ones to do this, got crossed over into the Buds Program, so the seal training program, as what’s called a brown shirt roll back. In the Buds Program a brown shirt is someone who has made it past hell week and then if you’re a rollback it means you got rolled out of your training phase and you’re injured or you failed the performance standard and you have to get better. And so swimming killed me the entire time.
At this point I had already been in it for a year and a half and learning, like I got really used to just vomiting in pool drains or just in the middle of the ocean from effort. You push yourself hard enough to puke, that was pretty common thing. I actually blacked myself out a few times from exertion like I’d temporarily kind of wake up, sinking my way to the bottom of the pool. Interestingly, you don’t usually aspirate water when you do that. If you drown or you black yourself out while swimming. Somehow you kind of close down.
So swimming tortured me, it always sucked and I always, if I made a standard, I just barely met it and anytime it had any coaching in it from an instructor, someone who watched me swim, this relates to the breakthrough thing, the challenge part was swimming, I was terrible at swimming. Anytime I had any coaching in it, up until that point until I went to this buds program, they just told me to work harder.
Like, “You just need a better cardio system, you just need a stronger heart. Just put out harder, just swim harder,” and my resting heart rate at the time was in the low 30’s like I could run 10 miles at an eight minute pace while chatting to the person next to me or we actually would sometimes do conditioning while studying our flash cards, running an eight minute pace.
I was very aerobically fit, it was not a matter of fitness, but when I showed up at this Buds Program, they had an instructor there who was a really good swimming coach. And he watched me in the pool the first time, I get out of the water and he’s like, “You know this is your parent’s fault right? If they had decided to raise you in Florida or California or somewhere with water, you’d be fine right now. You can blame them for this.”
But I swam like a drowning monkey and this instructor for the first time in a year and a half of beating myself up, gave me specific actionable advice in a progression like gave me real things to do rather than “just work harder, just do it faster”. He showed me how to level my body out in the water, how to bend my arm differently, how to change the way I rolled my torso, all this stuff that was objective measurable progressive coaching and that swim that I failed, the one that was — it took me 46:02 to fail it when I was in the first part of selection, two months into this buds program, we put in about two miles a day swimming in the pool, like we really worked at this. T
he standards were any tested event that we did, you had to improve on. If you didn’t get better at it day to day, week to week, you’d probably get kicked out of the program. Two months into this brown shirt program. I passed the same swim by over 10 minutes. I’d failed it by a minute the first time. So I’d cut my swim down so much. By the end of this four months here, I was one of the fastest guys in the pool because I had good coaching.
Someone who understood how learning and deliberate practice worked, and was able to breakdown a complex skill into measurable constituents. Like, “These are the pieces that make up this complex skill, here’s all your limiting factors in each of these pieces and now you’re going to practice every one of those things in turn in a lower stress environment before you apply it in a full speed whatever, two mile swim or whatever it’s going to be.” And it was amazing.
That was the big breakthrough for me, I’d wasted — god, I had to start selection over. You know how shitty it is to go through it once? Like to do it twice is terrible and I’d wasted so much time, solely because I didn’t have a good coach who knew how to breakdown a process and actually teach me something. I’ve just been listening to people who said, “Work harder.” It was a terrible failure and I mean it finally worked.
I had such an easy time, not an easy time but going through selection the second time was a walk in the park compared to the first time because I had control over it, I knew how to swim fast and it wasn’t a problem and it was amazing. Yeah, I guess the lesson there is like what we were talking about with that 10,000 hours saying it’s not just about working hard and putting time in, it’s about doing the right thing, working hard at the thing that matters. And yeah, I wish I had learned that when I was 15 instead of 18 or 19 going through selection.
[1:00:45.1] CW: Yeah, it’s like you’re going into a race, you got a 10 speed and the guy next to you has got some crotch rocket. You could become the best Velo racer on earth, but it just ain’t happening man. This is not going to happen. So you’ve got to improve that form though right?
[1:00:45.1] RT: Yeah, don’t just get better at doing the wrong thing, this is what I did for a long time.
[1:01:09.6] CW: It’s incredible man how having the right coach, it just is so amazing what that could do for you, just incredible that it could do for you. I liken it to kind of like the guys, the stone cutters, big stone cartoon, he’s got the little light. Just hits it the right spot and the thing just splits apart. It’s kind of the same idea man, it’s like when you take that effort and you apply it correctly, you can have those type of results.
[1:01:32.3] RT: Yeah, defining the leverage point.
[1:01:34.2] CW: Yeah, exactly, it’s amazing.
[1:01:35.7] RT: Let’s go into the next question, which is recommending a resource for our listeners, and what would that be for training? Could be a book, piece of equipment, a course, what would you recommend?
[1:01:45.5] CW: That’s a tough one actually, I think really you should probably look outside of the fitness industry. Like there’s probably no eBook or whatever, nobody’s blog or website that’s really going to — unless you’re brand new to the industry, there’s probably nothing within the industry that’s really going to change the way you think or bring you to a new level of thought.
And an important part of that is as a fitness industry, we’re really not that good at what we do. We’re a billion dollar plus industry that produces the fattest, unhealthiest, unhappiest people in the world. We’re not very good at it. Probably look outside of the industry first for things that can kind of be used as metaphor as to help improve what you’re doing.
That said, Joel Jamieson’s book, what is it called? Building the — 8 Weeks Out is the website, the book is called like Ultimate MMA Athlete or something like that. It breaks down energy systems training in a way that’s really clear and simple and easy to apply in like a real coaching setting. Probably one of the big game changers in the fitness industry for making what is often a really complex topic, making it simple and understandable so that a lot of people could apply it.
If you’re looking to learn something, I would start with that within the fitness industry and then like a recent blog that I’ve been reading is Seth Oberst. He is like a PRI guy to a good extent. Brilliant guy and really a unique thinker from what I’ve read so far of his work. I’ve been reading that the past couple of weeks, I’ve pulled up a lot of his blog articles.
[1:03:27.7] RT: I think that’s good advice because there’s a term that’s used where an industry, let’s say for marketing purposes, specific industry will use, will copy everybody else whether it’s cars, pizza places and eventually it just becomes a marketing incest, it’s just all the same crap, it just gets dumber and dumber.
[1:03:45.8] CW: Yeah, there’s that Harvard professor who talks about that.
[1:03:49.5] RT: Really?
[1:03:50.5] CW: Yung Mi Mun is her name. What is that book called? Different I think and she is the term “heterogeneous homogeneity” which means like a different sameness sort of where products all mimic each other and try to distinguish themselves from tiny details that don’t really matter. Imagine, the mildly annoyed overwhelm you get when you walk down like the Isle looking for a tube of toothpaste or shampoo or something like that.
And it’s like, “There’s 600 products here that are probably identical. I can’t tell the difference between any of them. Whatever I use to make the decision is probably arbitrary and probably doesn’t matter.” I think that happens with a lot of the fitness industry too. It’s a lot of just repackaging the same shit. Ultimately, any diet that works is the don’t eat shitty food diet and any training that works, it’s just finding the couple of fundamental things that the human body does and making things better and quantitatively and qualitatively better. Anything else is marketing.
[1:04:52.8] RT: Yeah, all the super complicated stuff you and I we talked about this before starting was meant for, you know, it’s either it’s pointless stupid stuff that really isn’t based on anything, it’s just trying to be complex for the sake of trying to make himself look better than other things. Or if it’s a legitimate program, it’s meant to get that slight edge for those competing at the highest of highest levels. It’s worth putting all that extra resources to get that very slight return.
[1:05:15.9] CW: Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you’re an Olympic athlete, 1% matters. If you’re someone who spends 10 hours a day in a chair and you’re trying to leave 30 pounds and not have diabetes, it does not matter how many percentage points of protein intake you have or whatever weird space math progression you use to put the weight on the barbell in the gym, it’s all arbitrary.
[1:05:37.0] RT: Yeah, definitely. Okay, so here’s the next question, we get goofy, I do anyway and I have some fun with this one. But the point of it is, when you do answer it, if you can give us a couple good specifics that we could take them away and put them to use. It’s real simple man.
You’re doing your thing, you’re doing your training and all of a sudden you catch a whiff of something man and it reminds you of your military days, army days and it’s just like a mountain of socks after guys have has just been running and jumping through a pile of muck and mud and just funkiness all over the place and you were like, “What is that, it’s Ray, what the heck?” And I come around the corner and I look at you and I — look, at this stage, I already know the reaction so I’m all ready for it.
Flip you over the key, say, “It’s outside man.” You’re like, “What?” You head outside there it is. Filled up with a special mix because you and I we talked, you’re at altitude man, you’re in Denver or by Denver, you’re in Colorado and we got to make sure that we get the proper mixture, the proper combustion because we got to get you up to 88 miles an hour if you know what I mean.
Otherwise you’re going to be right off the end of the mountain. It’s got those gull wing type doors but I don’t think it’s going to help you fly by any means. Not if you don’t hit 88. Anyway. All kidding aside, going back in time, knowing what you now know, how would you structure your training to get the best results and the shortest period of time and set you up for long term success?
[1:06:49.6] CW: I would first learn a little bit about how motor learning and training works like stages of motor learning, how stress inoculation works, that Theory of Par, deliberate practice and all of that, you have to start with that. Then when you know that, one of the first things is to deconstruct a complex and skill and start with quality first before you apply any level of stress or complexity. So just to understand the very basic things that your body does, walks, squat, lunge, push, pull, whatever.
Understand the qualitative ways of assessing that and how effective that pattern is, what a good squat looks like and really develop those things before you do anything complicated or you add a lot of stress or weight or complexity. You should be able to do a bodyweight squat or a goblet squat before you ever put a bar in your back. I could have saved myself a ton of time by just sticking with fundamental quality first before I started adding load and stress.
[1:07:50.1] RT: Yup, otherwise that’s going to send you down a path you don’t want to go. That’s going to result in all kinds of dings and scratches and dense and requiring replacement parts real quick.
[1:08:00.9] CW: Yeah, you could also say just finding good coach, kind of like that swimming thing. I look back at the dumb things I did when I was a teenager in the weight room and if I had had a good coach, it could have saved me probably years of inefficient training and pain.
[1:08:17.3] RT: Yeah man, because the body, it does take time obviously to reach elite levels of strength or to really maximize your strength or get anywhere near there but the truth is, you can get some results relatively quickly, I don’t mean in days or weeks although you can lose fat pretty quickly in three months and look pretty good.
But you can get some really good results relatively quickly man, a year or two can be a pretty big difference and obviously you go beyond that. If you’re on point with your training, with the proper coach, you just make progress so much faster. As opposed to spending 10% of your time making results, the majority of your time is pushing you towards your goal. I mean that’s just — you think about it, how many hours a week do you really train? It’s not that long.
How many hours would you actually — whatever it is that you squat, bench, whatever it may be. It’s not that much time to practice and get better and to push yourself to get stronger. So it’s very precious time that you have in that gym and the thing with training is, unlike practicing technique, the point of diminishing returns happens very quickly, it’s not like more time lifting weights results in bigger muscles indefinitely. No, at some point it becomes you’re training way too much and you burn out.
That’ happens relatively quickly if your intensity is at a high enough level, especially. Having that coach to really maximize and you yourself to having the mentality to say, “Listen, I am going to make every rep count, every rep even my warm-ups are a chance for me to practice and get better,” it’s important to do that so you really can improve as rapidly as possible and advance as quick as possible.
[1:09:43.6] CW: Yeah, stay out of that going through the motions like automated “this is good enough” mentality because that’s basically where you stop improving.
[1:09:52.7] RT: Exactly. Well okay, with that being said, pretty much at the end of if but before we end off, I want to thank you on behalf of myself and the audience. Thank you so much for this time, it’s been an interesting conversation, we covered a lot of great stuff. I’m wondering if you can tell us where can we find out more about you and also if you can give us just some parting words before we take off?
[1:10:13.3] CW: Yeah, I mean you’ve already listened to websites, barefootfts.com or trainrogue.com has a lot of my writing or precisionnutrition.com. I have a few publicly facing things on there and if you’re a client going through that program, I’ve written some of the curriculum you’re going to see. Otherwise, parting advice, I think maybe two things I would say.
First is what we’ve talked about so much here. Mastery should come before stress. You should really define what it is you’re trying to do qualitatively, and master that before you add a lot of stress and load. The other part that I think should go in there is just clearly define your purpose. Unless your goal is to become a professional power lifter or a professional bodybuilder or a competitive exerciser. You should probably look for a method that doesn’t specialize you and solely serve that purpose because your program is going to evolve to that.
The purpose of your program is probably not only to feel tired or feel like you got your ass kicked. Or to be really sweaty or for it to be fun. Those things are the good things that can happen as part of a program, but if that is the sole purpose of what you’re doing, you’re going to get lost and side tracked and frustrated.
[1:11:26.0] RT: I agree with you 100% man. It’s funny man, a lot of these things we talk about, many times seem, I dunno? They just seem too — I don’t know if too simple is the right thing, it’s just too easy but the reality is as they say, small hinges swing big doors.
[1:11:42.3] CW: Yeah, well I think there’s a difference between simple and easy as well.
[1:11:45.7] RT: Of course yes, 100% yeah.
[1:11:47.2] CW: Kind of like that.
[1:11:48.8] RT: A marathon is simple. You run in a straight line, for the most part.
[1:11:51.8] CW: Right.
[1:11:52.4] RT: But it doesn’t mean it’s easy. A 20 reps squat session is simple. You squat 20 times with the weight that you can only do 10 and you force yourself — that you think you normally only could do for 10 — you force yourself to get 20. Simple, not so easy to execute.
[1:12:06.1] CW: Yeah, and I mean there’s a big difference between knowing something and doing something or between declarative knowledge and procedural behavior that’s derived from that knowledge. I think a lot of people make that mistake of thinking that knowing something is the same as doing something.
[1:12:21.5] RT: Oh yeah, you get a bit of a hit whenever you learn something. It’s like you’ve been armed with this knowledge and you feel like, “Oh I have this at my disposal,” and it’s almost as if knowing it, you somehow fool yourself into thinking that, “Oh I know this, it’s the same as actually being able — oh I can do it whenever I want.”
[1:12:39.0] CW: Yeah.
[1:12:39.5] RT: It’s like, “No. You still haven’t…”
[1:12:40.6] CW: Yeah, the knowing is just, it’s the key that opens the lock but it’s everything that happens in the room behind that door that matters. Knowing is just the first step to getting you there.
[1:12:52.2] RT: Agreed, agreed. It just requires a little bit of critical thinking man. That’s what a coach can help you with. So you found out where you can get a hold of Craig, I highly recommend you reach out to him in a couple of different websites there. I can’t say enough for Precision Nutrition. You’ve got to hear Craig for quite a while here talk and he’s — you really got to tap in to his thinking in the way he goes about doing things.
And as you could see, there’s a tremendous amount of logic and just critical analysis and thinking that’s occurring here. The reality is that’s what’s required to achieve the things that you want as quickly as possible, as efficiently as possible and do it with the least amount of frustration. Not to say that you’re supposed to avoid frustration at all time or difficulty. No, we’ve already talked about this earlier.
The point is that there’s no point in making things more difficult than what they need to be. As Chris said, we got a limited time here, whether it’s in to training or just in general in life, however you want to say it. I know people don’t like to talk about that topic but it’s true. So don’t waste time, you don’t have to, there’s people out there who can assist you whether it’s through a book or through a coach or a mentor of some sort.
Sometimes people are winning in the gym man. I mean if there’s somebody that’s reliable and somebody who has proven him or herself, they may be able to take you under their wing, many people will do that. And then obviously there are those that you have to pay for their services because this is how they earn a living, this is what they do. It’s not just something they’re helping you with a couple of minutes a day when they see you at the gym.
But many times, if you’re able to afford having somebody that has proven him or herself by somebody who has achieved what you wanted to achieve and has helped others like you achieve what you want to achieve and as long as you are in a position where you are a good student and you are there to learn and apply what they tell you, the way that they teach you to apply it.
Many, many times, if it’s truly what you want to do, many times you look back and go, “Oh my god, I would have paid a multiple to achieve that.” So just kind of something to think about, we mentioned earlier many times, people get busy with a lot of stuff, a lot of busy work and I don’t know, is that — I don’ know what do you think Craig? Maybe we’re trying to avoid doing the real “hard work” that has to be done or making the difficult decision to move things forward? Maybe.
[1:15:02.4] CW: I think so yeah, that’s a curious thing that I’ve been puzzling out. I’ve been using like kind of a daily planner where I used to free form things a lot and now I kind of structure my day in a half hour blocks. Everything I’m going to be doing throughout the day so that I know that whatever I’m doing is as conducive to my goals as possible. It’s interesting how often — it’s like we have this internal drive to sidetrack ourselves and I haven’t quite figured out why that is.
[1:15:30.5] RT: Well because — well arguably it’s because we’re maintaining our comfort zone. If you’re driving towards something you’ve never had, by definition, it’s…
[1:15:39.4] CW: It’s uncomfortable.
[1:15:40.5] RT: You know, almost. You could almost say by definition it’s uncomfortable right? Who knows, you may have the skill set to do it but just the fact that it hasn’t been done, that in of itself could probably cause some uncomfort or discomfort.
[1:15:51.6] CW: Certainly, yeah. Ambiguity is always stressful.
[1:15:55.3] RT: Yeah. And I mean maybe that’s what it is, going back to that whole example with being in the tree line looking over the savannah or Sahara, wherever you may be looking over that tree and having to run through or run across an opening and the risk, is it worth it? It’s an unknown and maybe it’s better off that I just kind of stay here where it’s safe.
That’s probably what’s maybe going on in the back of your mind and it’s interesting because, just before we end it off here, you had said, you talked about how you don’t make a decision because you don’t want to screw up. And then later on in life, you look back and go, you regret the fact that you didn’t make a decision and the thing you got to be cautious of is many times that voice that’s guiding you, you think it’s your own voice but it’s not.
The fact that you’re observing it tells you that it’s not your own voice, that’s like some safety mechanism in the background that’s trying to keep you safe and you have to notice that sometimes go, “Oh okay, I got to pay attention to that and kind of identify it,” so then you can deal with it appropriately and not to say that if that alarm bell is going off, that there’s a good reason for it. I mean maybe there is but just be aware, be conscious of what’s going on and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Kind of like that whole idea of mindfulness.
[1:17:04.3] CW: Yeah.
[1:17:05.6] RT: But anyway, that’s a whole other show in and of itself. Craig, thank you so much, guys, superstrenghtshow.com you put in Craig Weller and the show notes page will come up and just put that in the search bar on superstrengthshow.com. You can listen to the show there, you can download it, share it with your social media, we love it when you do that. There’s links to go to the various podcasting platforms we’re on, you can listen to it there. But sign up, that way there the shows come directly to you, that’s always a good thing.
Also you could leave a review whether it’s through the option that’s right there on the show notes page or through your device or the application you’re using to listen to this, the podcast. Leaving a review goes a long way for us, especially if it’s a five star review. Like for example in iTunes, that’s the highest that you can leave in iTunes. If you think we deserve it, we absolutely love those and appreciate them. Not only does it bring the show up higher in the rankings, allows others to discover it but what it also does is, it allows people like Craig here who are busy people, they’ve got a lot going on.
They look at the show and they say, “You know what? It’s worth coming on because there’s an engaged audience that actually listens to the show,” and it’s great to talk shop but the overwhelming majority of people here, they’re not just talking because I like the sound of their voice, They’re talking because they really want to help people. I would say that is the core of the vast majority of our guests that come on. They just want to help other people achieve what it is that they want to achieve. So it really helps us when you do leave those five star reviews, helps all of us.
Also, feedback. Good bad or fugly guys, send it over, firstname.lastname@example.org, we take it all into consideration, going back to the show notes page actually. On the show notes page we will have links to the various websites and goodies that Craig had mentioned. So make sure you go there and check that out, we’ll have a bunch of extra goodies on there as well, just a bunch of stuff we put on there for you, so all kinds of good stuff.
In addition to that, if you guys have any training photos, images, if you guys got before and after shots, if you’ve got photos of your home training gym, all that stuff, send it over to email@example.com. Links to your videos, let’s say on YouTube we love sharing them with our audience, absolutely love doing that, it’s very motivational to the others. Please do that.
Last but not least, don’t forget to sign up for the free report. You get some fantastic information. If you sign up for the newsletter you get the free report and some great info in there to show you how to maximize your strength while minimizing your risk for injuries, something that we’ve touched upon multiple times during this interview. Very important. And with that being said, we are at the end so thank you one last time Craig, I really appreciated this.
[1:19:23.7] CW: Yeah, thanks for having me.
[1:19:25.1] RT: Very interesting conversation. Okay guys, love to have Craig come back on too by the way, the whole PN crew is just amazing. Man there’s so many of these groups out there. I could list off a few of them off the top of my head. There’s elite training, there’s you guys, there’s Strong First, PN. I mean there’s a bunch of them, they just have a great group of people, and just amazes me how much great information is out there. But you’ve got to put it to use, just listening to this, like Craig said, just knowing the thing is not the same as doing the thing.
Put this stuff to use if you feel that something that resonated with you and can help you, make sure you do that, get the results, get the benefits from it, it’s a great feeling. Comfort and happiness don’t always correlate. The reality is, many of the times when we are happiest is when we’ve overcome some type of a challenge or obstacle of some sort that was in all likelihood extremely, extremely uncomfortable especially prior to getting over that edge and achieving that victory. As they say, the night is always darkest before dawn.
Just keep pushing through and I think we need some of that thinking in today’s society to kind of offset some of the pursuit of comfort and it was pursuit of happiness guys, wasn’t the pursuit of comfort. Not to say you shouldn’t try to set things up to be comfortable, not saying that. Not saying to make it uncomfortable either, on purpose, just for the sake of it but something to keep in mind. As always, put this stuff to use and until next time, train smart, train hard, talk to you then.
More Specifically in this Episode You’ll Learn About
- Craig explains his transition from the military to training
- Variations are good, but the fundamentals are the most important
- Appreciate where you are in the moment
- Understand that the only real possessions you have are your actions
- Get out of bed and do it
- Stress is a response to a situation
- Passion = Willing To Suffer
- Happiness is a byproduct of meaning
- Busy Vs. Productive
- Most people regret the things they didn’t act on
- The 10,000 hour rule
- How good you are when you start has little to do with how good you can become
- The Talent Code
- Edge of Chaos
- Avoid automated behavior
- Self Herding
- Hypothesis of Par
- There is no such thing as a side effect
- Don’t just work hard, train smart
- Start with quality first
- Find a good coach
- Mastery should come before stress
- Define your purpose
- Knowing is just the first step to get you there
About Craig Weller
Craig spent six years in Naval Special Operations as a Special Warfare Combat Crewman (SWCC) and close to two years on the High-Threat Protection team for the U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad in Iraq. He’s the founder and co-founder of two different fitness businesses with three facilities in operation in Colorado and South Dakota. Craig trained special operations personnel for foreign governments on three different continents, has been published in the Journal of Strategic Studies, and is now studying human performance and how it relates to motor and perceptual learning.
FREE Report – Instant Strength: The one little trick that will instantly boost your strength by 10 lbs or more in your main lifts.
Training Resources Mentioned in this Episode
Left Stance Breathing
Reverse Lunge with Recip Push and Pull
KB Front Squat
Connect With Craig Weller
Every person that we interview on The Super Strength Show has an opportunity to answer some extra questions that aren’t asked in the podcast. It’s a chance for our listeners to learn a little bit more about our guests and to get even more value from our show. Check out the answers that Craig Weller provided below!
Can you share one of your habits that contribute to your success in the gym? As my brother once put it, I’ve spent a lot of time working on this mindset of, “The things that are good from me are in column A, and the things that are not good for me are in column B and I will not partake from column B.” A sort of cold logic.
Often, I don’t particularly enjoy being in the gym, but it’s a necessary part of who I want to be, so I do it anyway. EFD…
What are your favourite exercises? I like deadlifting and front squatting. Weighted carries are always good as well. Simple stuff. For aerobic base development, I’d rather be skinning up a mountain on skis or out surfing than in a gym any day.
What are your favourite muscle groups to train? I don’t think in terms of muscle groups. I think in movement patterns, positions and energy systems.
What are your favourite pieces of equipment? Again, simple stuff. A good deal of the training I did in my more formative years throughout my twenties was spent in the military on deployments somewhere, so we usually trained with very minimal or homemade equipment.
One of my favorite workouts was done with a rock on an island in the Philippines.
Turns out that if you understand the fundamental principles of what the body does and how to disturb equilibrium in a way that makes it do those simple things better, the equipment becomes arbitrary. The hardware matters much less than the software, or as they say in the “SOF Truths,” humans are more important than hardware.
So mostly I stick to simple barbell stuff, a handful of dumbbells and a kettlebell or two. If I’ve got that plus a pullup bar and a few bands, I’ve got a full gym.
Things like safety squat bars, farmer’s walk handles and rickshaws are also great if you’ve got them.
What is currently on your workout music playlist? It varies a lot. Now I tend to listen to a lot of chill music. I’ll stand over a barbell and pull it for 100 single reps without walking away while listening to Norah Jones. I’m trying to alter the associations I have with stuff like that so that I can put out a lot of force without needing death metal and a bunch of stuff to amp me up. I’m working on not needing a maximal effort strategy for anything below a true max effort. Old man strength, you could say.
On the other side of the coin, once in a while I will still do a really intense test workout of some sort, like a 50 calorie airdyne test, a 500m C2 row, or something like that. For that, I’ve got a few songs like Never Get Caught by American Head Charge that I’ll listen to. Devildriver, American Head Charge, Ill Nino, In This Moment, Primer 55 and Hatebreed are all on the list for that sort of thing.
How do you psych up for a workout or set? Again, it’s rare that I do that anymore. I’m not usually working at the percentage of maximal effort that requires a big psych up, which I think should probably be reserved for efforts at about 95% or higher. Otherwise, I stay calm and try to “no big deal” the lift.
On those days where I am going for that maximal spike, I use music like what I listed above and keep a handful of memories in my head that bring up intense anger or hatred, and I spin those around in my mind for a moment before I do the lift. Embrace the hate, as we used to say.
What was one exercise or routine that gave you great gains in muscle mass and/or strength? Playing on gymnast rings a lot. That’s the only way I’ve ever gotten to a true single-arm pullup (not the stupid thing where you hold onto one wrist with your other hand – I mean one hand on the bar and your other at your side)
We had a set of rings outside the hut we were living in on a deployment once, and whenever we had spare time we’d just go out and play on them. We’d do whatever pullup variations or gymnastic movements we could come up with at a pretty good frequency, almost daily. One day I realized that I could grab a fixed pullup bar with one hand and lock out a chest-to-bar single-arm pullup.
Otherwise, deadlifts. I like the simple-mindedness of pulling a bar.
Doing a lot of squatting with a powerlifting friend also helped quite a lot, and helped my deadlift. A lot of variations there – the kind of stuff you’d find in a westside setup.
What’s your favourite way to speed up recovery between workouts? Anything that gets me moving in an open-ended, enjoyable way that’s only mildly strenuous.
I’ll go on hikes or find stuff to do in my yard like carry a bunch of rocks around and rearrange a stone retaining wall.
Easy swimming is also good, if I have access to a pool or ocean.
What’s your favourite meal? Hmm… Tough to say. Honestly, I don’t get super attached to food.
That’s kind of like asking me what my favorite color is. I don’t really think about it, and any answer is somewhat arbitrary.
Sushi is probably towards the top of the list, as well as good barbecue.
Really good Mexican food is also up there.
What’s your favourite cheat meal and how often do you indulge? I don’t really use cheat meals as a concept. I generally adhere to the patented Don’t Eat Shitty Food diet, which is not particularly rigid.
So I don’t really divide meals into “good” and “bad” or whatever.
I think it’s strange how people moralize food, or use the word “naughty” to describe a meal. Like we’re children sneaking cookies without mom noticing.
I do have a somewhat odd ritual, that I started doing in selection training in the military. I’ll eat an entire pint of ice cream, usually Haagan Dasz, while watching a movie and sharpening a knife.
In selection, we always had an inspection on Monday mornings and the knife was a part of that inspection. Had to be razor sharp even though you were going in the surf regardless.
So that became part of my sunday relax and prepare ritual. I’d sharpen my knife, eat ice cream, and relax with a movie. Kind of mindless and meditative.
I’ll still do that from time to time, though now with my kitchen knives instead of that silly SRK dive knife that they issue in NSW selection.
What supplements do you feel work well for you? I mostly stick to basic stuff. D3, K2, fish oil, and cod liver oil. I also take curcumin, a probiotic and a bit of iodine from kelp almost daily.
What do you do to relax? I really enjoy solitude. If I can set an entire day aside to lose myself in a book and talk to absolutely nobody, I’m a happy camper.
I also like being outside, and working with my hands on stuff. Digging around in my garden, building furniture, that sort of thing.
I’m trying to learn stone masonry. I think it’s really cool to be able to build something that could stand for centuries out of rocks.
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I started training at the age of 41 obese and intimidated. The guests are an inspiration and encouragement toto keep moving forward on this journey.
- Amazing ContentNovember 13, 2015 by MattTucker93 from Canada
Love listening to this podcast. Amazing information and I always learn something from all the great guests. Thank you!
- Great showSeptember 15, 2015 by unadjective from United States
Some really cool guests that I wouldn't otherwise come across and Ray does a great job getting into their expertise. Almost always wish the show was longer.
- I love thisSeptember 12, 2015 by Mvecdi from Canada
Please don’t ever stop,i really enjoy it. Wish i found it before. I listen to it while working out or driving etc. Just wanted to tell you to keep doing what you are doing. And would love to see more of people like Mike Israetel etc. Such as Brad Schoenfeld. Anyways love the show, thanks for making it.
- Very professionalSeptember 7, 2015 by Ayrshire Lad from United Kingdom
Always learning something new from Ray and his well selected line up of guests. Sometimes feels a little repetitive as Ray asks all the tried and tested questions to ensure the listener always has a takeaway..its laid back but focused and very professional !!
- I love thisSeptember 3, 2015 by Mvecdi from Canada
Please don’t ever stop,i really enjoy it. Wish i found it before
- The best podcast in the strength/ fitness industry!August 28, 2015 by Powerlifting101 from Canada
I recommend this podcast to anyone that trying to physically and mental better them self in every aspect.
- Excellent ResourceJuly 25, 2015 by J. Steinmann from United States
Some great interviews with a wide variety of people. I've listened to a number of episodes, and there's always some great information in every interview. If you're serious about strength training, health and fitness, or just want some good life philosophy, this podcast is worth a listen.
- Must subscribe!July 9, 2015 by Roddygo from United States
This is one of the best fitness podcasts. A lot of big names from various backgrounds and Ray asks good questions. He also knows when to ask follow up questions without getting too out of subject and having the guests share some more secrets
- Great Show!July 8, 2015 by Wes Kennedy from Canada
Ray is a great host and has a wide range of quality and professional coaches that have a TON of experience to share with you. Check it out!
- Excellent interviews!July 8, 2015 by another anatomy geek from United States
Ray does a fantastic job of asking articulate and interesting questions. I always really enjoy his podcasts and learn useful info! Keep up the good work!
- has become the best Strength podcastJune 21, 2015 by SuperHuman YYZ from Canada
I think its overtaken superhuman radio and motivation + muscle as the top podcast for those who love physical culture and the iron game. Ray does a great job interviewing, just the right amount of interjecting his ideas and opinions. The guest list is incredible, the who's who, past and present.
- The fountain of youth.June 10, 2015 by rroxanne from Canada
Very good . I love the article. I listened to it 3 times to write everything down. Lol. Bad memory. Oh and love Rays voice.
- just pure MEGA, Pig Iron all the wayMay 25, 2015 by Strongman1981 from United Kingdom
The Super Strength Show is an amazing and extremely informative resource for anyone involved in physical culture. With an enthusiastic and highly intelligent host and a who’s who’s line up of guests, a must for anyone to sit down, eat grapefruits and enjoy. great work chaps
- On another level! Once you hear one episode you will have to hear them all!May 22, 2015 by Chuck Osswald from United States
Super Strength Show starts with top performers/coaches/trainers from around the world and chunks down all the important pieces, directed towards any audience. Ray Toulany is unparalled in his ability to make information easy to understand as well as tease out the unspoken gems. You will be glued to your speakers for the entire episode and find yourself eagerly waiting for more. The care put into each episode is clear with a show notes page that helps the curious learn in any medium. Keep up the great work and thanks Ray!
- A fountain of Strength and training knowledgeMay 14, 2015 by HCF82 from United Kingdom
After searching for an age to find a good strength podcast I discovered the super strength show through Chris Duffins interview and have been hooked since. The format is excellent with some of the best voices in the world of strength and conditioning appearing. No nonsense straight talking, this really should be one of your first resources to go to if you are a coach or an average joe looking to improve in the weight room.
- fantasticMay 10, 2015 by gena_wallis from Australia
i enjoyed your session.looking forward to more staff.Victor from the Youngpreneurs Podcast!
- Well structured, interesting, and informative.May 2, 2015 by TEEJ888888 from Canada
I just listened to the first two episodes of the podcast. It's really good. The questions are solid, there is lots of good advice for lifting and for life, and Ray does a good job at interacting with the guest but keeping things on track and flowing. Ray is articulate and the guests seem professional and smart. Overall, I'm very impressed.
- My top 5 favorite show!April 16, 2015 by mrcdmag from United States
Great show with lots of valuable information! I always have my notebook open and writing.
- Top strength showApril 16, 2015 by Alastair7890 from United Kingdom
Very informative. Top guests
- Great Show!April 10, 2015 by SloneStrength from United States
Well prepared show. Amazing professionalism! Keep up the great work.
- AWESOMENESS CONTAINTEDMarch 4, 2015 by jamie729 from United Kingdom
This is an awesome podcast the format, the guests & the topics disscussed are all truely infomative. No BS contained the show always opens up new schools of thoughts and ideas to the listeners. keep up the good work.
- Subscribe, instantly addictiveMarch 2, 2015 by thebroadkaz from Canada
This show is amazing to listen to it motivates you not only for the gym but for setting and achieving goals in your every day life. Very motivating and positive. Truly helps to get you in the right frame of mind for life and for the gym.
- An absolutely ace show everytimeFebruary 24, 2015 by Tommy Eggleton from United Kingdom
This show is phenomenal! The format and repeated questions for each episode keep the show driving forward, the guests have had ample time to prepare excellent and considered opinions and yet the show never feels like anything but no-BS conversations on building seuperhuman strength and mighty bodies. The host, Ray Toulany, consistently does a marvellous job of drawing out even more from his guests than the material they've prepared and some of the stories that are teased out are superb. I wholeheartedly recommend this to anybody that trains, thinks about training, or simply admires strength sports and bodybuilding in general.
- Great ResourceFebruary 4, 2015 by Velvet Jones81 from United States
For someone new to the strength sports like myself this show has been a great resource. Thanks for doing this show. It has helped a lot.
- Paul McIlroyFebruary 2, 2015 by Paul McIlroy from United Kingdom
I've been an avid aficionado of all things strength and physical culture related for the vast majority of my entire life. As a former world champion powerlifter and trainer of world champions in different strength sports I can honestly say that Ray Toulany's Super Strength Show is an absolutely INVALUABLE resource for those wishing/needing to maximise their holistic understanding of strength, what it is to be strong, why that is important and how to best achieve it! The list of guests reads like a star studded "who's who" of strength and conditioning ROYALTY! Plus, more than anything the interviews are a ton of fun and provide a fascinating insight into the very best in the business and what makes them tick. It was my complete pleasure and privilege to be a guest on this amazing show (episode 37). If YOU claim to be serious about strength training and are not currently subscribed to THIS show, my honest advice is do so immediately...if not sooner!
- Super Strength ShowJanuary 26, 2015 by Joeino from United States
I love this podcast as I seem to pick up valuable information from each guest. Listing to this is a fun and productive use of my time
- Excellent InformationJanuary 26, 2015 by TaylorrrrNB from United States
These guys obviously do their homework, work hard to create an excellent show and know who to interview in the world of strength and fitness! I’m very impressed by what they have created and the quality of what they do. You need to subscribe! TODAY!!
- by Brandon RicheyJanuary 22, 2015 by Great Work SSS from United States
The Super Strength Show is a fantastic resource for all things concerning strength, fitness, and life. The multitude of guests provides tons of information and perspectives that every listener will appreciate. If you’re serious about strength and the physical culture this is a resource that you just can’t pass up!
- Very glad I stumbled across this podcast!January 22, 2015 by rk102 from United States
Great info from big-time guests in the strength and conditioning world. Keep up the great work, Ray!
- Awesome showJanuary 13, 2015 by Bonjower from Canada
The Podcast is the best I’ve encountered in the fitness/bodybuilding sector. The host has a great ability to pull the pertinent information out of his guests. The topics are great and you seem to be able to get useful information out of every interview! Awesome podcast!!
- Do yourself a favour and subscribeJanuary 1, 2015 by GameOverBoss from Canada
The amount of info and resources in the SuperStrengthShow is just incredible. All of this coming from guests that are the best of the best in their fields. Great questions are asked to these guys and some really insightful answers given (along with a few laughs). I hate wasting time and i'm always looking to evolve and refine my training. This podcast has saved me hours of digging through the crazy crap on the internet to find valid info. It has also introduced me to things i would have never thought to look up. Really can’t recommend enough.
- Master SFGDecember 24, 2014 by X-Fab69 from Italy
Awesome Podcast! A whole lot of great and useful information provided by very accomplished athletes and coaches with an extended experience on the ground!
- Charles CDecember 22, 2014 by CharlieConnely from Canada
Very impressed with the quality guests that the Super Strength Show is interviewing. Loaded with with actionable and inspiring information. Great production quality and daily episodes!
- Well done RayDecember 19, 2014 by Matt McWilliams from United States
Wow…Super Strenght Show Podcast is flat out awesome. Good production quality. Easy to listen. Very impressed Ray. Keep bringing it.
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