Category Archives: Interviews

A Discussion With Paul Carter on Anabolic Steroids

I recently asked Paul Carter if he’d be willing to jump on Skype and record a discussion on the topic of anabolic steroids with me. We ended up talking for nearly 2 hours. The information contained within won’t be anything ground-breaking for serious lifters who have been around the block. However, for those who are ignorant and naive on the topic of steroids, you’ll definitely learn a thing or two.

Paul and I are not experts on the topic of anabolic steroids; we’re not medical doctors/endocrinologists and we aren’t involved in research on anabolic steroids, so take our advice with a grain of salt. Personally, I would like to see more discussion on anabolic steroids emerge over time in our field as it tends to be a taboo in strength & conditioning media. Here’s the video (my apologies, I don’t have an MP3 file for you):

Here are the various questions we tackled:

  1. What are the ethical issues involving anabolic steroids?
  2. What are the different types of anabolic steroids?
  3. What are the effects of testosterone/anabolic steroids?
  4. What other drugs are typically used in powerlifting/bodybuilding?
  5. What are some limitations of the literature involving anabolic steroids?
  6. What are some of the biggest misconceptions out there involving anabolic steroid usage?
  7. What are some of the more extreme anecdotes that we’ve witnessed in terms of great responders and poor responders?
  8. Why are there non-responders – what’s happening?
  9. What are typical ranges of testosterone levels for natural men?
  10. What are typical dosages for men taking TRT?
  11. What are typical dosages taken by average powerlifters and bodybuilders?
  12. What are extreme dosages taken by elite powerlifters and bodybuilders?
  13. What are some of the more well-known side-effects of anabolic steroids for men?
  14. What are some of the lesser-known side-effects of anabolic steroids for men?
  15. What are some of the side-effects of anabolic steroids for women?
  16. Would the same powerlifters and bodybuilders be dominating their sports if anabolic steroids didn’t exist?
  17. Would sports performance be highly influenced if anabolic steroids didn’t exist?
  18. Do anabolic steroid users need to train differently than natural lifters?
  19. What is some advice for those considering taking anabolic steroids?
  20. Where can people find out information about anabolic steroids?

phil

An Interview With Dr. Stu Phillips on Muscle Hypertrophy and Sports Nutrition

Yesterday I had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Stuart Phillips from McMaster University (click HERE to follow him on Twitter) and discussing various topics in sports science and nutrition. We talked about the hormone hypothesis, best rep ranges for hypertrophy (and load versus effort), THIS article (Mitchell et al. 2012), sarcoplasmic versus myofibrillar hypertrophy, limitations & practical relevance of his research, levels of protein intake for maximal hypertrophy, recommended supplements for maximum hypertrophy, and more.

Below is the YouTube video, for the MP3 download click HERE.

I hope you enjoy the interview!

Stuart_Phillips

Transform Your Physique: Mariah’s Story

Today I want to share an exciting body transformation story with you. I knew that Mariah had been seeing great results with Get Glutes, but when I saw the recent pictures, my jaw dropped. Maybe you find yourself in a similar position. If you’re not happy with your physique, take the bull by the horns and do something about it, just like Mariah did. Below is an interview with Mariah – with questions by Mrs. Kellie Davis. Mariah, keep on kicking ass!

strength

Mariah, everyone at GetGlutes is in awe of your transformation both inside and out. We are really excited to dive a little deeper into your story. Tell us a bit about your background. What was life like growing up for you as far your activities and nutrition?

I grew up in a family of six with a strong sense of family. Both of my parents are excellent cooks and most of my meals were home-cooked and eaten as a family around the dinner table. We rarely had junk food in the house and the only beverage we had besides water was sweet tea. I have always loved sweets and struggled with being an emotional eater. Whenever I had the opportunity to eat sweets, I took full advantage of it. I started playing softball the summer before my freshman year of high school. Prior to that my physical activity was inconsistent and limited. Once I started playing softball, I became passionate about it. My dad and I practiced nearly every day. I played tournaments on the weekends, high school games during the week and practiced any time I could. When I went to college, I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I played softball in college so the related exercise helped fight off some of the damage I was doing with my eating, but not much. I had no real concept of what kinds of foods I should be eating or in what quantity.

Mariah - Before

Mariah – Before

Having grown up with two excellent cooks, it seems the lifestyle you learned at home didn’t carry with you into college. What do you feel compelled you to change your eating habits in college?

I think it was the freedom of choice, access to lots of different food, and a lack of understanding about what I was feeding myself and why. I was on a meal plan so I ate most of my meals in the commons. Besides a salad bar I don’t recall there being a lot of healthy options. I remember eating lots of full size bagels topped with peanut butter, jelly and cream cheese or topped with bacon, egg and cheese for breakfast. I actually thought that was healthy. I frequently took bagels or a bagful of cereal to eat for a snack. Most of my lunches and dinners were rich in sugary carbs and fatty meats and low in veggies (my motto was why waste stomach space with vegetables?). When I traveled for ball games, we often ate at fast food post-game and I usually had fries, a burger and a shake. I didn’t eat fast food growing up and I was completely unaware of how unhealthy the food was.

I think that is a struggle many kids face when entering college. When did you reach your tipping point where you wanted to create positive change for yourself? Describe that moment or that feeling.

After graduating college, I had nowhere to play ball. I had no direction relating to my physical activity. I became extremely inactive and ate a lot. After several years of this behavior, a pregnancy and birth, I gained a lot of weight. In December of 2008, weighing 229 pounds, I decided to take back control and get myself into shape. I was tired of trying to hide my body. I was tired of feeling weak, out of control, depressed and disgusted with myself. I was embarrassed to go to the grocery store for fear of seeing someone I knew. I was lethargic and spent way too much time in front of the TV trying to numb my emotions. I lay awake night after night hating who I had become. I no longer recognized myself. I missed the athlete I had once been. I missed the girl who was confident in her abilities to accomplish anything she set her mind to. I was tired of hiding myself inside fat and soothing myself with copious amounts of food. I knew that I had to take control of my health and my life if I wanted to find her again.

It is very hard to lose yourself and not know where to pick back up. I think a lot of former athletes go through these same issues. How did your initial transformation journey begin and why did it fail in helping you meet your goals?

I decided that I could continue to be lazy, binge on sweets, and continue to feel the way that I did or I could change the direction of my life. I started my weight-loss, life-regaining journey with at home workouts. Although I was a former collegiate athlete, I had no clue how to use a gym or eat properly. I was too ashamed to go to a gym in the shape that I was in. I didn’t want people to see how horribly unfit I was so I bought an at-home workout program. I treated it the same what that I used to treat my conditioning and practice for ball. I knew that big achievements were the results of the culmination of every day efforts.

I committed not to miss a single workout over the course of the 90-day program and to follow the eating plan exactly. I told myself that if I did these two things and nothing changed after 90 days, then I could go back to eating whatever I wanted and zoning out in front of the TV.

Guess what? Everything changed during those 90 days. I kept my commitment to myself, completed every workout, and followed the nutrition plan exactly. I found my drive again. I was reminded of the athlete I once was and wanted to be again. I completed a second round of the program and lost a total of 54 pounds. Although I lost a lot of weight, my physique still needed work.

Sometimes we just need a little boost to get us back in the game. It seems you found that here, but it was missing an element. What did you like and not like about your changes?

I liked that I had lost body fat, could fit into normal size clothes and had endurance to participate in activities that I hadn’t in some time. I didn’t like that I had very little muscle. When I played ball, I had muscular legs, strong shoulders and a toned back. I didn’t have any of that anymore. I wanted to reshape my body, add muscle, and feel athletic.

That often is the case with these fat loss home workouts—losing weight, but not gaining muscle or shape. What was the next step for you and why did you feel it wasn’t working?

I decided to join a gym. My first year and a half at the gym was wasted as I spent my time on cardio equipment wishing I was brave and knowledgeable enough to go lift weights. As I walked/jogged on the treadmill, I longingly watched others squat, lunge, bench press and do an assortment of weighted exercises. I wanted to join them, but I had no idea what to do. I hired a personal trainer who unfortunately seemed more interested in my money than giving me the help I so desperately needed.

I kept searching for help. I joined a competition team as a non-competing member to work on my physique. The training was time-consuming and intense. I often spent 15-20 hours a week in the gym doing cardio that I detested and lifting weights for hours. The eating plan was very restrictive and the only thing I enjoyed about it was the two slices of pizza I was allowed to eat once a week (which inevitably turned into 5 or 6 pieces and whatever other food I had in the house). Because it was so restrictive and because the training was so voluminous and intense, I rarely could complete it all. I felt like a failure. I spiraled back to the mindset I had when I was at my heaviest. I had so much self-doubt that I wondered if I would ever be happy with my body or be healthy (on the outside and the inside). After my first year with the team, I chose not to return. The commitment required to adhere to their plan was not in line with my priorities or preferences. I continued down the path of trying one plan after another. Time after time I found that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing because I was trying to fit my life into the plan instead of a plan into my life.

This is an all-to-familiar path for many. How did this type of training and dieting affect the rest of your life?

I was exhausted ALL of the time. I woke up exhausted and went to bed exhausted. After work I would come home and have to take a power nap so I could go do my second workout of the day. I dreaded doing the second workout, but told myself I was a failure if I didn’t do it. I didn’t have energy or the desire to do anything else. It was a huge effort to play with my son. I was grumpy, impatient, and I doubt very pleasant to be around.

When did you decided to make this journey about you and your plan rather than meeting the expectations of others?

In early 2013 I decided that once and for all I was going to find an enjoyable and sustainable plan that allowed me to get lean and sculpt my best ever physique. It was going to be my plan and would be conducive to my tastes and the way in which I wanted to live my life. I decided that I would give myself one year to achieve this goal. I wanted long-term success. I was tired of short-term, short-lived changes. On April 4, 2013 I officially embarked upon my one-year mission.

I joined GetGlutes.com in early 2013. I loved the workout programs, the member support, and the fantastic engagement and coaching. I was getting stronger (hitting a 400 lb barbell glute bridge and a 310 pound deadlift…what?!?!), but I wasn’t getting leaner because I hadn’t yet taken control of my nutrition.

My best friend recommended that I look into an eating plan called The Carb Nite Solution. She also recommended that I work with nutritionist and coach, Brian Schmidt of No Bull Schmidt Fitness, to create my nutrition plan. I began working with him on April 4, 2013. I began losing weight and figuring out what I wanted in a plan. Our relationship was very interactive. Brian created an effective plan around my food preferences. I experienced success with the combination of the GetGlutes training and my new way of eating. Each day I gained confidence in my ability to create my best ever physique.

This was a major turning point for you not only physically, but also emotionally. Can you explain why?

For the first time in my life, I began to share my story and how far I had come. I started by sharing with my best friend who encouraged me to share with the GetGlutes members. One night I sat down and wrote about my journey. It was incredibly healing to finally be open about my struggle and to no longer feel embarrassed by it. The amount of love and support that the GetGlutes members and coaches extended truly amazed and blessed me. I realized that in order for me to fully heal and shed my body image issues, I had to stop being ashamed of where I’d been. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who were moved by the honesty of my struggle and the depths from which I had climbed. I realized that my story could provide hope to others in situations similar to mine.

Although my confidence soared throughout 2013, there was still a little piece of me that didn’t believe I could get 6-pack abs or that my glutes would ever look good enough not to hide behind shorts at the beach. I came across a motivational picture one day of a female with a beautifully fit body on it that read: “It is a shame for a [wo]man to grow old without ever seeing the strength and beauty of which [her] body is capable.” These words hit a nerve. Although I had lost a lot of weight from 2008-2013 I still didn’t feel like I was in control and I certainly was nowhere near seeing the strength and beauty of which my body was capable.  I secretly felt like I was one binge away from returning to that girl who was too embarrassed to go to the grocery store for fear of running into someone she knew. There was also a part of me that didn’t believe I could do what it took to achieve a fantastic physique and I often sabotaged myself when I started getting great results. I had come so far and yet I knew I could still achieve more. It was time for my biggest challenge yet.

In a previous year I entered Bodybuilding.com and Dymatize’s 100k challenge. I thought it would magically motivate me to get into shape, but the truth is I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t have a solid foundation, a plan or goals, and I didn’t believe in my ability to be successful. I wanted redemption. I wanted to enter the 2014 100k challenge and completely rock it… and so I did.

How did that change everything for you?

It’s taken me five years of consistent and intentional effort to have the healthy mindset, physical health and figure I enjoy today. When I started my journey, I wanted to see results right away. I wanted to magically erase all of the damage I had done to myself for years in a few short months. I bounced from one extreme effort to another constantly looking for that perfect plan that would make me perfect. I thought I had to follow the plan exactly as designed or it wouldn’t be effective. I completely discounted the importance of actually enjoying the plan. When I finally realized that a perfect plan didn’t exist, I changed my mindset and made the plan about my life. That shift in mindset allowed me to determine my physique goals, how I wanted to train, and what I was willing to give to my efforts. By giving myself one year to figure this out, I took the pressure off to find a quick fix. It allowed me to shift my focus on fine tuning and enjoying the process and my plan.

As I mentioned above, our members are huge fans of you, Mariah. You inspired so many because your story is so relatable. How has taking charge of your health and doing so on your terms helped you to become a better role model?

This is an interesting question. I didn’t realize how many people were watching my transformation. I remember when I started bringing my food to work and stopped going out to lunches or eating treats in the break room. I’m sure at first people thought it was going to be short-lived. Now five years later, I’m known at work as the girl who will bust out her fish and veggies in a middle of a meeting and eat them. I’ve had other women who are struggling reach out to me to ask me for help. I’ve received hand-written notes and emails from women telling me I have inspired them to change. These were unexpected, touching, and it showed me that my experience can help others believe in their ability to improve themselves.

If you could offer advice to the old Mariah before she went off to college, what would it be?

I would tell her to take advantage of the strength and conditioning coaches and the athlete weight room, and to educate herself on nutrition. In college, I saw weight training as something I was being forced to do early in the morning before I went to class. Most mornings I rolled out of bed, got dressed and walked to the weight room half asleep with the goal of getting done as quickly as possible so I could return to my bed. I literally flew through my workouts with no focus on what I was doing. I can’t believe I wasted all that wonderful training time and exposure to knowledgeable coaches. I would tell the pre-college Mariah to educate herself on nutrition and explain that all of the activity I did with softball would not continue post-college and it would be very difficult to reign in my eating.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your journey with us, Mariah. We look forward to what’s in store for you!

Mariah - Now

Mariah – Now

How Does Foam Rolling Work? And Why “SMR” Should be Called “SMT”

Today, I’m going to share a discussion on Facebook that I recently had with Todd Hargrove and Greg Lehman. I’m not always confident with my understanding of things, but I’ve developed great “go-to guys” over the years when I’m seeking answers in various topics, and Todd and Greg are well-versed in areas pertaining to manual therapy.

I lift weights every day with a ton of strong dudes. Nearly all of them foam roll. I foam roll and use the stick and a lacrosse ball too. Are we all just a bunch of dumb meatheads falling prey to The Placebo Effect? Or is there more to foam rolling than meats the eye? Are we changing mechanical properties in the fascia? Or are there other mechanisms at play?

Over the past decade, strength coaches have come up with a number of potential mechanisms to explain how and why foam rolling is working. Though these theories made sense at the time, most of them are now outdated. I hope you appreciate the conversation.

foam rolling

BRET

Hey Todd and Greg, I want to write a blogpost about “How Foam Rolling Works” and pretty much repeat what Todd wrote about DNIC. I’m going to link to blogposts that you have written. But I wanted to ask you all whether or not you think there’s any merit in Schleip’s thoughts here:

http://www.thebodymechanic.ca/2012/10/28/fascial-neurobiology-an-explanation-for-possible-manual-therapy-treatment-effects/

And, do each of you agree that DNIC makes the most sense in regards to how foam rolling works? Thank you very much for your time, Bret

TODD

Hi Bret, I think there is some merit in Schleip’s ideas, and I discussed them briefly in my paragraph titled “4. Does Foam Rolling Work by Proprioceptive Stimulation?” My answer is that stimulation of mechanoreceptors is probably part of the story, but I think DNIC is a better explanation.

Someone pointed out in the comments to my post that Schleip has new proposed mechanism – something like squeezing water from a sponge. (See the comment by Margy) I never looked into it, but I noticed Chaitow referenced it recently in an FB post.

BRET

Thanks Todd! Greg, I would appreciate your thoughts. All of my lifting partners swear that foam rolling has made their muscles more pliable over time. I’m inclined to think that they’re full of it and that they’re just imagining things, but if Schleip’s theory is correct then it could make sense.

GREG

Two thoughts:

1. I would guess there is a transient increase in stretch tolerance and ROM after foam rolling. Your friends might then go train a little easier at end ROM and it is this new training and confidence at end ROM that ends up increasing their extensibility or comfort with new ROMs.

2. Pain reduction: I would not put this solely on DNIC. People will certainly report pain relief without having to mash the shit out of their tissues. I would guess that the pain relief mechanism is the same as every other pain relief mechanism from manual therapy or movement. Meaning we probably don’t know but its a lot of little things that deal with the resolution of our pain output. This could be all the non-specific effects we talk about: fuzzy homunculus, refreshing the sensory cortex, beliefs about treatment and satisfying an expectation, paying attention to the area etc. If someone can tell me what manual therapy does then we can probably say that that is what foam rolling does.

I certainly don’t think scar tissue or mechanical adhesions are being removed.

As for long-term changes I suppose it is possible that the tissue might change via mechanotransduction if the load is consistent and frequent over time. I don’t know why this would make some more pliable it seems just as likely to make the tissue more robust.

Sorry, no good answers there.

TODD

BTW, Chaitow recently referenced Schelip’s research on water extrusion, which I haven’t read. Here’s a good quote, which supports my idea that if foam rolling has any benefit, it is temporary, but opens up a “window of opportunity”:

“Schleip and Klingler observe temporary easing of stiffness after water is extruded from fascial tissues, returning to stiffness as it is resorbed (after 20-30 minutes)…this window of reduced stiffness offers chance for mobilization etc, but does not seem to account for sustained reduction in stiffness.”

BRET

Let’s try to form a current consensus between us:

Theories that are out are:

1. Pizoelectricity – liquid crystals spark and realign tissues

2. Thixotropy – fluid-like flow from agitation

3. Fuzz – unsolidification of loose connective tissue

4. Scar tissue and adhesion removal – breaking down scar tissue and removing adhesions

5. Trigger point therapy – releasing trigger points

6. Myofascial meridians – affecting one part of the body’s fascia impacts the whole chain

But still on the plate are:

1. Increased stretch tolerance – transient decrease in stretch-related pain sensation

2. DNIC – pain distraction

3. Placebo effect – believing makes it real

4. Refreshing the somatosensory cortex – clearing pain-related “defaults” in the brain/body

5. Proprioceptive stimulation – transient decrease in muscle tone due to mechanotransduction

6. Spongy window – dehydrating tissue followed by a subsequent rehydration, with a window of opportunity in between

Are these correct?

What else is in, or out?

Should self-myofascial release be given a new name? If so, what 3 letter acronym?

GREG

With #3. Placebo isn’t really the right word. Use it. But clarify that there are really effects behind it. Expectation and satisfying that expectation being one of them. I don’t know this stuff off the top of my head but that paper by A Louw on A neuroscience approach to low back pain in athletes would probably touch on it.

But honestly, if we solve why manual therapy works then I bet we can say why foam rolling helps with pain.

TODD

Hi Bret, those look good. Here are a few comments, each of which are pretty trivial.

First, in reference to the meridians idea, I would not disagree that causing structural changes to the fascia in one area would have mechanical effects in another area. I just disagree with the idea that foam rolling could affect the fascia.

Second, I might somehow combine numbers four and five of the second list. In other words, the effects on the somatosensory cortex are due mostly to proprioceptive stimulation.

Third, the “window of opportunity” applies to more than just the sponge. It would also apply to any other mechanisms (e.g. DNIC) which would create temporary benefits in mobility or pain reduction.

Fourth, I haven’t read anything at all about the water/sponge theory so I have no idea whether it “holds water.” Ouch!

Oh, and in regard to your question about the term “myofascial release”, I don’t like that term at all as applied to foam rolling or any manual technique. It is describing a theoretical and implausible mechanism of effect, as opposed to the actual technique.

Therefore, it’s confusing and causes people to assume that when you are foam rolling, you are releasing fascia, even though there are many other ways that foam rolling might cause changes to your movement that have nothing to do with fascia.

Calling foam rolling MFR is like calling sit ups “ab shredding.”

BRET

Awesome stuff guys! So it should be called…..wait for the drumroll…..Self Manual Therapy (SMT)?

TODD

SMT sounds great. That way, no one will be confused about what you are taking about.

OTHER ARTICLES ON THE TOPIC

If you find this interview to be interesting, here are some more links you can check out:

Paul Ingraham on trigger points

Todd Hargrove on the mechanisms of how foam rolling works (and how it doesn’t work)

Greg Lehman on fascia science

Todd Hargrove on fascia

Alice Sanvito on how we can’t stretch fascia

Paul Ingraham on fascial neurobiology

Chris Beardsley summarizing current research on foam rolling

foam rolling