Do you know how to adjust your diet and training based on your needs and biofeedback? Do you know the role of protein in body composition?
Learn more about this and more from today’s guest, Dr. Eric Helms! Fresh off of earning his WNBF Pro Card, he joins me for the second time despite his busy contest schedule. The last time Eric was on the show, we discussed balancing strength and physique goals, programming for lifters at different experience levels, self-determination theory and motivation, and optimal protein sources.
Eric Helms is a titan in the bodybuilding and nutrition world. He is a researcher, author, and coach specializing in physique and strength sports. Eric has a PhD in strength and conditioning and is a competitive natural bodybuilder and powerlifter. He co-founded MASS Research Review and is the Chief Science Officer of 3D Muscle Journey.
Today, we’re going to get caught up on his recent exploits in the bodybuilding world and then dive into some of the nuances of nutrition and training, from levels of tracking and flexible dieting to macro splits to mini-cuts. We’ll also get into training volume, autoregulation, and whatever else we have time for.
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Today you’ll learn all about:
[2:09] Update on contest season
[16:08] Levels of diet tracking from beginner to advanced
[26:33] Tracked approach towards a fat loss journey
[32:36] Diet tracking from intermediate to athlete or competitor level
[38:20] Very high protein and low carb strategy
[45:52] Two-year nutrition cycle structure for moderate experience
[52:30] Ratios for cutting or maintenance
[55:56] Evaluating training to optimize for muscle gain
[58:21] Finding the individualized training volume
[1:02:47] Where to find Eric
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If your overall goal is this progress and growth, you do want to assess your training logs in over a reasonable timeframe. You should be seeing performance trending up in the stuff you're focusing on. And let's say you really missed a general intermediate you're not specializing any muscle group yet you're still running let's say an upper lower split. And you want generally everything to grow.Philip Pape:
Welcome to the Wits& Weights podcast. I'm your host, Philip pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self mastery by getting stronger. Optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition will uncover science backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in Wits & Weights community Welcome to another episode of the Wits & Weights podcast. He is back Dr. Eric helms fresh off of earning his wn BF procard joins me for the second time despite his very busy contest schedule. Last time Eric was on the show. We discussed balancing strength and physique goals, programming for lifters at different experience levels, self determination theory and optimal protein sources. So check out episode 72 for that conversation. I'll keep the intro a bit shorter this time around. Eric helms is a titan in the bodybuilding and nutrition world. A researcher author coach who specializes in physique and strength sports. He has a PhD in strength and conditioning is a competitive natural bodybuilder and power lifter, the co founder of mass Research Review, and the Chief Science Officer of 3d muscle journey. Today, we're gonna get caught up on his recent exploits in the bodybuilding world and then dive into some of the nuances of nutrition and training from levels of tracking and flexible dieting, to macro splits to mini cuts. We'll also get into trading volume and whatever else we have time for. With that said, Eric, welcome back to the show.Dr. Eric Helms:
Oh, man, what an intro. Thank you so much, brother. It's it's an honor to be back.Philip Pape:
I don't know if you remember how long the lesson was. But like I said, people can check that out if they want to hear it. First of all, I want to congratulate you, man, you've been, you've been up to a lot lately. A lot of achievements in the title WNBA if New Zealand think it was right second at Battle debate. And then most recently, earning your pro card at WMF. Australia. Tell us some of the highlights. You know, not just the placings, but your experiences with the other competitors, how you've handled the demands of the schedule, that kind of thing.Dr. Eric Helms:
You know, to be honest, some of the highlights were some of the personal connections that I made to people backstage. You know, I appreciate you highlighting the show, I won the show, replace second, skip in the one right place third, and then and then and then my. But the Washington State was a really, really cool experience. That was a four person, middle weight class. But it was really, really, really stacked. The winner of that ace filming Shawn, he came from Hong Kong to compete, which is really cool. And he just him and his coach, they just expressed so much respect and honor for me as a competitor. And just as a practitioner that I was, I was just it was so cool. And then I also got to meet Josh D. Bradley from he's actually doing, finished his bachelor's degree and he's going to go into his PhD. He works with Chris Bearcat. And he is this is a really stacked line that would mean to say like placing third in that class is something that I'm equally as proud of as everything else I've done. If you looked at all four of those guys, Ryan, who plays second actually is already a men's physique Pro. And he was jumped. He competed in the pro show earlier in the day and then jumped in because he wanted to get his bodily procart as one and he has some of the most ridiculous quads, top about Australia glutes I've seen insanely he didn't even go to winter. They overall it was just a really, really stacked competition. And then myself and third. And then Josh was mentioning at fourth and one of the personal connections we had was he shared with me and it blew me away. Because he's a relatively young man compared myself I turned 40 This year, how his track coach in high school, put him on to the muscle and strength pyramids is his first kind of entrance into training for bodybuilding. And it like made my brain skip like that. That could be the first entrance and I was both honored, humbled, and so jealous. Because I was like well you're so you first started training and like 17 you had the collective wisdom I had and research like stuff that I've had that I worked on for over nearly two decades you know, and I was like, Man and then I thought oh shit like that's there's there are people out there who their first entrance into this is that and it it was a mixture of like fear imposter syndrome. And like, that's really cool. And I guess I'm a leader like odds too. I'm too big. Like I shouldn't be a leader. And then yeah, you can imagine that all that on top of show day. So I had that kind of experience at the Washington which is really cool. That was one awesome moment. The Washington itself is also really cool because that's where Jeff won his pro card. So being in the audience and getting to see him compete as a pro at 52. And just knowing him personally, like we both there's a lot of insecurity that goes on with bodybuilding when you're exposing yourself to that degree, and you have these high level goals. And you know, Jeff and I have different ones, he's a lot more naturally talented, I'll say, for the sport, that he might go Pekinese taking it further and probably will be able to take it further than I have in my career. But he's also just turned 52. And he's not sure if he's still at his peak. And this show when he looked at pictures, and he started to see because you don't know until you're sure to be in shape. He was like, I'm just as good if not better than I ever have better. This is a warm up show for me, you know, like I'm not in good shape. And he took second place in a very stack, you know, pro show. And I think it might have been you know, I'm probably it's probably the best he's looked at this level of leanness at the very least, I think you can say that. And to get to see him do that the same show or 14 years ago, he got his pro card. And I competed in the overall against him. I want the light heavyweights and we took a two day trip driving up from his house in Stockton, stopping in Grants Pass all the way to Washington. That's six hour drive than the seven hour drive. And just getting all that time to connect, it was a really good way for us to connect with our roots, because 3d muscle journey was formed in those backstage conversations. So those are those are some moments around other of that show that were really really awesome. But each each show had connections like that. And the one that I just didn't Australia, it was just incredible. I mean, I've been working to get my web of pro card for a bit of wanting it since I went to my first bodybuilding show, which happened to be at aNbf show in Augusta, Georgia. And it's iron Eagle classic that many time heavyweight, mid 2000s Of late 90s Pro natural bodybuilder Rodney Hilaire puts on I got the opportunity to guest judge and view that and just be like, oh shit like this, this is Natural Bodybuilding. And then I did my first show in oh nine so this is something I've been pushing towards for my almost my entire lifting career sometime in 2006. I was like, Oh, this is this is a goal but it's taken me 17 years to achieve it. So yeah, to get it is not so good fully.Philip Pape:
Yet only the muscle and strength pyramids existed in 2006. But I couldDr. Eric Helms:
go back and tell myself the key because I'mPhilip Pape:
older than you and I wish I could do the same you know, but we are where we are and it's fun to hear behind the scenes, right because I mean, on the surface you know, we see the accolades but as you know the process behind that is where where the magic happens and to hear you talk about the psychology of it predominantly right and the imposter syndrome and kind of the I know that comparisons are inevitable and you know one year you might go up against a certain group of individuals and and you're the best and the other in the next time you you yourself feel at your top and yet the competitors are stacked you know it's sounds like a big mind gameDr. Eric Helms:
and that's exactly what happened you know, I I basically just dropped the placing each show I did you know, so I went from winning the the overall New Zealand title to then placing second and placing third but objectively not subjectively, objectively the feedback I got everything I saw all the indicators were that I improved from show to show to show but I also went from order show like I went from our second inaugural the New York New Zealand show where we do have high quality competitors but it's a small number. It's part of the reason why I went in the overall the panel decided you know, you're not quite ready for a pro card at the show. And I wasn't at my peak, which is also part of that decision. And then the next weekend you know, I I was at a very tight battle for for the number one spot. There was, I don't know if it's a split decision. I didn't get full judges feedback, but everyone was like that could have gone either way. It was really cool to watch Lorenzo elder get his WTF pro card. He's one of our 3d MJ athletes and he very, very, very good competitor already he's made noise as an NBA Pro. So I play second there. And I was like, Okay, it's still right there, still right there and then to ship third. It took a little bit of like, alright, recalibrating Mrs. Bodybuilding, so I'm getting better. I placings are getting worse, and a little delayed satisfaction you wait a couple of weeks and then boom, you know, you you win the pro card. So it's if you don't have a firm sense of why and also being able to be objective about yourself and primarily prioritize and value self improvement and the other lessons you get from it. It can be an emotional roller coaster because it is subjective and it's very dependent upon who shows up on the day. And one of the choices I made this season was listen, one of my one of my goals is and I'm gonna put it out there and I'm gonna value it and be honest with myself at all. This what the world about it is I want to get my card, and I'm coming to compete that when you do that you give up a little power over your own little state. And I think that's a reality. But what people don't realize is that once you have a goal that is not only dependent upon your will and efforts, you know, beat your former version yourself and prove, you give up a little power. You put yourself out in the world, and you say, well, there's other people who want to win first, and there's judges who, you know, probably are less biased than I am looking at my own physique, and they're gonna rate it a different way. So you also are giving up your ability to fully celebrate and enjoy a day even if you did your best. So I'm relatively proud of myself that I meant, like, I did have my moments like when I placed third or when I was inches away for like, the 10th time in my career for getting a pro card and I play second vote Renzo and my class. But, um, but I also knew that's what I signed up for it. I'm big enough boy, I can I can handle it. And, and that if I just kept pushing into what happened, and here we are,Philip Pape:
yeah. And then you have the worlds coming up, too. And I think originally that was your, that was the place you were expecting to go for the pro card. Right? I don't know if the Australia was a surprise. I mean, obviously, like you said, you hope and, and plan to do your best at all of these. But was that was it a little bit of a surprise, or you are just having an aggressive goal and got there early.Dr. Eric Helms:
So I thought my best shot would be at the New Zealand show. And because of the size of it, and then from there, I would just do the Washington, I mean, I didn't expect to get a pro card at the New Zealand show. But I just knew based on the side of it, size of it, you know, you tend to get a crop of competitors compete one year, and then the next year, you get a different crop. And I just didn't know of any New Zealand, male bodybuilders who were competing that year? Who would be like, Yeah, who else is going to come out? And who's who's just going to have a high caliber physique? That's going to be the battle for the pro card. And then, of course, people who showed up who I didn't know, and, you know, like, it was, it was, it was still good. Like, I mean, I wasn't like, I just walked away with it. But yeah, I also knew that there'd be a potential with the panel, the number of people that I would get. So that's a question mark here. But good, this is my best shot at winning the show. And that is what happened, and that I knew that both the battle Bay, and the Washington would be very hard fought. So we'll see what happens, I go to the States, you know, these are basically this business on a circuit that I've done before, did it compete in the US in 2009 2019, like the Bay Area, and like the West Coast shows are just very, very competitive, as are the East Coast shows not to take anything away from the new US. So I knew that if I didn't get it, and New Zealand, I need to do like a proof, get tighter, and then just keep chipping away. At that I knew that the Australia show was going to be very big. And that would be hard as well. And I thought I knew that, okay, there's a very real possibility that I'm going to have to just keep going all the way to worlds. And then that's gonna be the hardest one, actually. So I, but I'll be at my best. So it was this interesting scaling component where the shows got harder as I was getting better. So I kind of thought like I had a relatively flat chance throughout, and it could happen at any of them. And, and I actually think world's probably the hardest to get your pokedex at amateur worlds is. It's no joke bad people who win their class, and especially if they win the overall in the amateur WTF worlds are typically immediately competitive as a pro, like when they do their first pro debut there. They're winning money. So soPhilip Pape:
I don't know entirely how it works. But do you now compete on the 19th? In the in the pro? Wrecked Okay, yeah. All right. So does that change the game for you or your prep?Dr. Eric Helms:
It's led in some ways, no, because I was gonna bring my best and do what I had to do. For worlds. So the timing, what it does change is it's it makes the day a little less complicated. Like if I had turned pro on at Worlds, that's a trade route to compete the next morning is after being in overall in the evening that I prior. So that's a bit of a challenge to peak for across two days. You know, a lot of people struggle is to peak in the morning in the evening in the same day, if they do a crossover, or if it's a two full two day format show. So that would have been it would have been cool. And let's be honest, like, it's taken me this long to be pro caliber to be pro competitive at the world level, is going to take something monumental, which I'm really, really excited to chip away at. It's awesome. But I'm mainly I'm going to worlds to take picture, take pictures of LeBron as he dunks on maybe like garlic, you know, so, and there is a rule. I don't know if it'll change in the future. I do hope that it does. But there's a rule where you have to compete within the same. It's an one year of getting your pro card to kind of like activate and keep it and then there's a two year unless there's life extenuating circumstances where you have to compete. I think there are some issues with what that forces competitors to do, especially in the bodybuilding divisions, we have to be so lean. And the timing of shows can put you at a really rough spot where you don't get to fully recover or you have to just keep dieting. So I'm actually very fortunate But there's a purpose. There's a reason why I decided I want to go to Worlds. So I basically back loaded everything. You know, if you look at all the shows that I've done, I will have done five by November 19. But the first one was September 30. So we're talking like, five shows, and in eight weeks, you know, okay,Philip Pape:
so you're saying bye, bye beat compete pro right away, it gives you this longer clock to the next one. Correct?Dr. Eric Helms:
Exactly. So I'll be able to take all of 2024 as an offseason and then, you know, looking at potentially competing end of 2025, or maybe early 2026, depending upon just dates, things like that. So technically, I'd have to be on stage by world's 2025. Again,Philip Pape:
it's exciting, man. I mean, I mean, it's, you know, I'm not in that world. And I know a lot of people listening are but we find it fascinating. And what it takes to get to where you are, the principles are still something we all aspire to both the psychology of it, but even the practical matters of, you know, leaning out and building and all of that, because you are at the limits, learning about this. So why don't we jump into some of that right? segue here, nutrition topics first, and maybe some training. I've heard you talk about how you're not tracking this time around, right, you're not tracking or logging food, you're taking a more intuitive approach, based on years of having done that before and develop that skill. What I'm curious about is, if someone listening wants to understand the different levels of tracking, right, from a rank beginner to very advanced athlete who has ambitious physique goals, how would you map that out? For them? What are the three are different ways we can track when we're using flexible dieting, do you think are appropriate?Dr. Eric Helms:
Great question. So the way I would frame the way I used to frame this, so this is some some hot hot off the presses changes to the next edition of my books, Philip was that there was good better and best. So to give more flexibility to people good is just hit it with a calorie range. And typically like something like plus or minus 100. And there's a lot more to us to that, that we'll get into before someone just starts doing that. And then better is a protein intake, and then calories. And that best is macronutrient to get us to that range. Because now you're you're making it more dialed in for the individual. And you're assuming that you've you've gotten the the macros down customized to the individual. And, you know, I presented this in my, in my books as all positive framing, because it's all well and good. And even saying that, hey, in the offseason, it may not even be best to do macros, you might just always do calories and protein or even a habit based tracking system. That was the evolution from the first edition, the second edition. The evolution of the third edition of my books that I'm that I'm working on, is basically coming from the repeated data and coaching experience and personal experience I've had where I really struggled to justify having relatively tight macro rages. And that being that different for people, like if we were to shift your fat up or down 20 grams, and trade that for 45 grams of carbohydrates, except when you're like, down and like the very, very lowest intake and brushing keto ketosis or brushing a very low fat diet, you know, like, Oh, I'm currently on 40 grams of fat. And I want to do that or like any, you know, maybe that that, or a lot of 100 grams of carbs, and I want to increase my fat. So okay, so we are going keto, we didn't think about this, and we'll modify some of the things right? Outside of those circumstances. I just couldn't really justify why am I telling people it's, it's better or best to only be within let's say, a plus or minus 10, or 15 gram range on these macro targets. And it's same thing for protein, kind of having more of a minimal threshold intake that's appropriate. And knowing that if you go over it, it's fine. But it's not going to necessarily help you. Except on individual cases where he noticed more satiety or what have you. It's basically an unnecessary level of rigidity. So moving forward, I think the way or the eventual endpoint that I want people to get to once they build some skills, which I'll talk about a second is that we have a calorie range that's appropriate. And then we simply have a minimum intake for fat carbs and protein. So what that might look like, would be hate, you know, in a hard, hard, hard dieting phase with minimal intake. And this is temporary, because it's only while you're really trying to get lean in for extreme goals, and 20 to 30 grams of fat to get our minimum fat intake, right? That most of the time, we're gonna bump that up to something higher, at least like the equivalent of 20% of calories, but I'd probably expressed an absolute about to make sure we're covering our hormonal bases, you know, transport of fat soluble vitamins, making sure everything's functioning well. And maybe that's like 1460 grams. So that's kind of our minimum intakes and different scenarios. And then for carbohydrate. Okay, what type of training do you do? Are you bodybuilding or powerlifting powerlifting. You know, like we have some data suggesting that ketogenic diets and certain styles of products and trade without a whole ton of volume You probably find you're not making it may not be ideal for strength gain. But it's it's, it's those allow allows it. So maybe we have a minimum intake of one gram per kilogram, if you have like strict like low volume parallel singles. And then as we move up to kind of the volume ladder, you're a bodybuilder you're doing a lot more, maybe we'll put that around like two to three grams per kg, right. And for the Americans, we're talking about a gram to a gram and a half for Babish. Right. And then for protein, you know, when you're in the offseason, when you're not being stressed by a killer caloric deficit, there's no theoretical reason to pitch to be higher 1.6 grams per kg point seven gram per pound, or right around there were higher. And then if we're dieting, and we bumped that up to point 8.91 gram per pound, perhaps. And then after that, distribute your calories as you want. And now all of a sudden, many of the questions that people have, and the flexibility issues and logistical challenges, and the issues with holidays, traveling etc, get taken care of, you know, I just thought, oh, man, like I don't, I don't have to be set into these things. And I find also as a coach that it makes people in different regions, different environments and different social structures, especially when you look at American Coach the first time they get like an Australian client, like, I don't know how to get that, like, what is that? Well, the first time they have a client for the UK, or someone from a very, very non westernized country to speak, speak English, that's also very, very challenging, you know?Philip Pape:
So they don't know how to get the food to meet macro, what are you saying they don't have to get what?Dr. Eric Helms:
So what would inevitably will happen at early stages, if someone learned to track macros is they'll ask for some food advice, like, okay, yeah. How would I keep my fat low, putting my carbs high. And that looks very different at Singapore than it does in Australia than it does in Jersey, right. And that's something that I learned from moving overseas having to do that myself and also, to some degree working with athletes overseas. And being able to just automatically allow someone to fit into that. And with that structure, I think is a much improved step. And it's just hard to justify anything else in my mind these days. So that's one big structural change to where we want to get to. But I think getting to there is important because you were talking about different levels of skill and different types of tracking. There's a big difference between the how the average bodybuilder or person in the fitness body composition world thinks of tracking when you say the word versus, say a dietitian, or just a general person, kind of a broader health and fitness space. If you say, someone in our community, like, Hey, I'm doing some macro tracking, they think you have three targets, and you're trying to hit them on a daily basis. But he talks with other people, it could simply mean, I'm eating what I want based upon habits and kind of healthy things. And I'm just writing it down, but I don't have a target. Sure. And there's and so the conversations about the issue, the potential problems with these are the pitfalls, the side effects, I'll make you an erotic all those things start to fall away, when all you're doing is eating as you normally would, but tracking as kind of a mindfulness practice or an educational tool, which I really like for newbies, so people who are wanting to get more nutritional literacy, understand their diet, look for areas where they can improve or that we can kind of incrementally make more qualitative changes to their diet. Rather than giving them prescriptive three numbers. I think the best thing they can do is start reading food labels you know writing things down taking pictures of food of their phone but not not eating out not making sure everything gets weighed to the gram you know, eyeballing things learning about some of the portion sizes like weighing when you're at home after you've gauged Okay, I think that's a cup, then see is it a cup, they Oh, shit was the cup is a cup and a half, like, Oh, I think that's about 100 grams of banana was 150 grams, you know, those are really important lessons. Looking at the back of your, your food label for the almonds, so they already have a protein, they grabbed some almonds, you'd look at nearly? Well, I'll be damned almonds are mostly set, you know, like things like that are then auditing what you've tracked for the whole week. And you know, some things but we haven't actively tried to change it. And you know, you want to have a moderate fat, moderate protein, sorry, moderate carbohydrate, high protein intake, and you look and you've actually got like, moderate, moderate, moderate, and you're like what I need to do here? Well, I can switch this to low fat dairy, I can go from chicken thigh to chicken breast or to Turkey. All of those swapping and decision making games are or rather, this plug and play. Opportunities are great to learn. And then you really start to understand how to turn food into into numbers and vice versa and how to make useful swaps. And that process can last a couple of weeks before you even decide to try to hit certain targets. And you may not even decide to do that. You might just make these qualitative changes. You might just develop habits you might create some meal structure and make sure I have a veg F route, it'll lean protein three times per, per day. And then, you know, I have some reasonable eating out options on top of that, and a protein shake after I workout. And I know that I'm going to eat to a three out of five satiety level at most at any meal, and do a few other things and get x number of steps. And it's all habit based, right? So that I think, is a really, really critical phase that someone goes through before they even start entering the world of lemme have target macronutrients, start weighing myself, look at my two week average. And you know, wherever they are, on the scale, eat out minimally and improve my accuracy and all those things. So I can go a macro based food blast, a weight loss plan.Philip Pape:
Yeah. And I'm laughing inside because I must listen to you just too much. Because this sounds this sounds exactly like the journey when I have a new client, if I ask them to just track their food, and I forget to say, but ignore the targets. You know, then on day two, it's like, how do I get this? How do I hit? Oh, wait, I forgot to tell you just ignore the targets and track and learn. And then you'll see, the other thing you mentioned was, you know, different countries. I don't know about what you think about this strategy. But I found what successful is just looking at a past day that just happened to get close to the target you intended even if you didn't, what did you do then? Right, just kind of replicate that day. So you're talking about the learning, the awareness, the qualitative changes, satiety. I love that approach as well, satiety. So this would be somebody just getting started, either using a food log or food journal, but not caring about targets. Okay, so now we're there were just a few weeks in, you also have a better understanding of metabolism and expenditure from doing that if you want. What's next. Right.Dr. Eric Helms:
So let's let's make the assumption this person wants to take a track approach towards a fat loss journey, right? Then from there, once they got comfortable with that can audit that we sit down and go over their meal plan together, we would actually go Alright, so let's set up let's set up some, some targets. And they would be a calorie range and a minimum for all three macros, like I discussed earlier. So okay, then we go, all right, based upon your energy intake, and your change in body weight over the last two weeks, here's a guesstimate at what we think maintenance is. And therefore, we're going to drop X amount of calories and appropriate size deficit for you. And now we have a calorie intake goal and minimum intakes for fat carbs and protein. The next thing I'd have them do, and this is a really useful tool, I want you to write your own meal plan or three, for what that would look like. And think of plug and play options. And each one of those meals slots. Right, so beautiful. Now we're creating what I call a default diet for you. So this is kind of like, I know what I'm doing on a day to day basis. If you're someone who really likes to play and prepare, you can do Sunday cooking and make versions of this, where you can just do that when you're at home, you can have a version when I'm at work, and I need to go to lunch. And I'm gonna have something on the go and only have one meal at home, or you get a version when you're at home, eating three meals. And you can have a weekend version, where you're doing this socially out one meal, and then we make eating two or three meals at home, right. And you have a workout data non workout day version, but I help the person actually write their own meal plans, because then they take the skills they develop just tracking with that targets. And they put them to work immediately. And it's Deb writing the meal plan and with me kind of guiding over their shoulder. So they're getting even more experiential skills learned. And that can pick up things you actually know that you got to count that coffee or whatever, you know, the creamer. It's something you know, and then we start running them. And they go through that process we're checking in, and then you're gonna build even more skills there. And we can also start observing, how do they do with the level of precision, rigidity? What's the important amount? Does it create stress? Is this a good fit? And, you know, we adjust from there Was it too aggressive, you know, maybe you're, what will sometimes happen is they're actually eating more than they think they are during that self track period. They're eating more accurately next. So we end up having this larger deficit that attended, and you lose a lot of weight immediately, which is not a bad thing. People are motivated and have higher body fat. But then we go, hey, guess what, let's let's bump in calories a little bit. Right? So it's a very rewarding process. And that's kind of like your novice to intermediate stage. And then the main thing is to really work on the transitions and assess with them. How sustainable is this feel all the time? And can we eventually we want to get to having this as the way we eat without necessarily having to write it down or log it if we develop these habits, right. So I think sometimes people get too caught up on the fact that they logged it, rather than the fact that they did it. And it's not like you're not going to be at a deficit or not having good macros or not hitting, you know, target calories if you don't write it down. You know, right, exactly. And one of the one of the rubrics that I have for people, it's an easy way to do this. That's one of the skill that teach in this early stage is you know what you've got to do basically follow this more or less habitual play on this kind of default diet, and you have just your last meal left, which is often going to be like a protein based meal at eight or something like that, if they're kind of bodybuilding centric, you know, maybe it's a Greek yogurt or something equivalent of a nice dessert. But it's also protein dominant, not high carbs and fat, hopefully will help in some way lighter. If they don't, I don't force them on people. But that's a nice way to fit some more protein in as we go. Okay, let's do an audit. Now, like you, you don't need to track throughout the day, you can take pictures, you can write it down, or whatever. And I've encouraged you to not have to constantly be tracking because it's a distraction from your life. And you look at okay, what's left, right? And that's kind of the thing, you check your balance budget, like, Oh, I got 20 grams of carbs, 10 grams of fat and 40 grams of protein. Okay, cool. So I can actually put a little bit of peanut butter and some, some blueberries and with my non fat, low carb, sweetened Greek yogurt, right? Do you need to track that? Do you need to write it down? You know, because you know exactly what you have left? It's 1020 like, 40, right. And when people feel like that, it's, it's wrong. If they don't write it out, if they don't track it, that is an indicator to me that they kind of have a little little bit of OCD going on. They're like, No, I gotta write it down. Like, well, well, I mean, you know, you hit it. And you did you checked, you know? So that's one of those opportunities, right? JustPhilip Pape:
so you know, The Completionist in the world, exactly. 100%. Right.Dr. Eric Helms:
That's right. Well, items really 98% and I got all else. So yeah, exactly. So I mean, I'm okay with people who get a lot of satisfaction from doing that. But I also want them just to be aware of, of where it is, is the tail wagging the dog, you know, and, and make sure that it's not causing stress as well. And making sure that I at least give them the skills if they choose to, to do a non tracked version of this or a non logged version. BeforeUnknown:
my coaching session with Philip, I was really struggling with staying consistent with my nutrition, Phillip really showed me the importance of being consistent day to day, he also helped me see that it's not a bad thing to take a rest day, he really helped me get in that more positive headspace Have a rest day being something really good for me. I've been doing this for a month now. And I'm finally starting to see some progress and my numbers. And I'm really excited about that. And I just appreciate so much the help that Philip has given me. He's always willing to answer questions to offer resources that are totally free, and very, very helpful. So I just want to say how much I appreciate that. Thanks forDr. Eric Helms:
now, whatever that inevitably happens, if we probably can preempt your question of how do you get from intermediate to kind of where I am isn't where you want to go, Phil? Sure. Go ahead. Okay, cool. Is okay. Well, Eric, well, you're not tracking at all how does that work? And in reality, I am tracking because I cannot track to some degree, within two seconds at any time of the day, I can be within 90% accuracy of what my nutritionist because I tracked religiously for seven years straight. So that's something that is just an experiential skill that I've developed all the time. That's not the case is what I have mixed meals that are abnormal for me. Or if I go out to eat, and like I don't know, that pesto, fettuccine with with with federal, like, like today and I'm like, okay, like I don't I wish they put it here, I'd have to guess right now a placeholder and is what it is, you look online for a bit, you overestimate the fat, maybe, in my case, whatever. But most of the time, I just know. And I also have a much greater connection of biofeedback than most other people. So I'm aware of what's an appropriate level of hunger at different body fat levels, at different phases, based on different goals, in season, offseason, everything in between all the way down from my current stage weight, where I'm walking around, you know, looking siliques light years or sticking out of hats and not even tried to flex it. It looks like I'm flexing and like you know, me, like shredded conditioning can't sleep all the way up to Oh, you're looking, we'll talk either Eric like it's deep off, he's broke. So I know what all that feels like when I'm forcing food in because I'm adult, my body's gonna get I don't get any more weight to Oh, man, I'm really interested in the flavor of my bread, you know, kind of spectrum, right? I think without that it's very difficult to modulate, like, I know a certain level of suckiness that I should feel at this at this level on on like, say my fourth low day in a row. What I waking up in the morning, and I'm 78.5 kilos shredded, and I've been dieting since February. And that's very different from when you're four months into a contest prep diet and you're still 10 pounds over stage weight, right? You shouldn't feel that shitty, you know, you're or you're you're probably going to burn the candle at both ends and that was just a little stint or a little flicker and then see if they hold me to the offseason. So that is what I said at a certain point. Once you have all those biofeedback knowledge sets And then self awareness, you can actually perform better by giving yourself a more of an auto regulated rage. So, for example, I have that kind of default diet structure. And on my low days, I typically am falling between 1400 to 1700 calories based upon energy levels, performance in the gym, my sleep quality, I can't sleep through the night, I know I probably do that a few days, or I'm for everything falls off. So I need to eat towards closer to 1700, I typically see blood better, what might step count end up being for the day. And that disrupts my general most emotive state or irritable Am I clear headed. And you know, so you strike when you feel like you're fine. And you pull back a little bit when you feel like you're giving too much based upon what giving too much means in the context of that face the giant. And that's something that is, to some degree, you can teach that. But you kind of have to take your late stage intermediate competitor, or athlete or whatever, it isn't that to be a competitor. And then tell them that's the outcome, you want to get to tell them the skills you use. And the guard, you need to try this. You know, like you give a broader range and you tell them, if you feel like crap, like don't just, you know, put on your hashtag grind face, we shouldn't be feeling that crap. But you need to assess. So the coaching process moves from being less prescriptive to what you're actually doing on a day to day basis, to more auto regulated, and that encouraging them. Use your intuition and your knowledge and experience to get to the best outcome. And that's what Berto is doing for me. So I'm working with Alberto Nunez collaboration. He's like my coach and has been he's my colleague. And a lot of the guidance he gives me is outcome based. And it does change at the end, this is an inevitable part, like where your carb loading, and you're trying to get a little leaner that should already shredded. So like right now, this morning, he said, Hey, this weekend, I want to repeat the carb load we did. Because four days later, you looked ridiculous. And you got a little tighter if we can keep using that strategy. So today, higher risk higher reefy than you expected tomorrow a little bit lower. And then we'll go for three or four load. Tight type tapering up. So yeah, that feels like oh, all the way back to 2009. No, you're just three weeks out from worlds. So yeah, it'sPhilip Pape:
awesome stuff. Yeah, what I'm even begin with all this the idea of using biofeedback. To learn about yourself, I see that a lot with individuals who aren't as advanced but are at maintenance right at maintenance is a good time to play around with this because they're not trying to induce a change in one direction or the other. You're not experiencing massive changes in your biofeedback, I see it a lot with lifters, who, you know, they'll say, Well, I'm, I'm gaining, and I'm going at a certain rate at a certain rate of gain, but my lift just didn't move this week, or even even regressed a bit. And it's like, stop looking at the macros just like over consumed to give you that energy, because that's what worked in the past, you know, oh, shit, you know, all of a sudden the carbs will do for me. So I think it's important people listening that they do build up to this right track all of these things, because you're tracking without tracking as the way you put it, you're still aware of hunger, stress, satiety all that? Pretty cool. Okay, thanks. Thanks for explaining all that. No worries. And that'll inform my coaching as well going forward. Because there's some nuggets in there, can we see the new muscle strength pyramids, and they come out? So I wanted to ask for a specific scenario regarding the carb protein split, because you talked about minimums, which makes a lot of sense. But I often get the question like, Well, what about the really high protein approach, you know, two and a half, three grams per pound, and we're talking in a gaining phase maintenance or gaining phase, right, where you have the calories, and then it bumps the carbs down to what you suggested is basically approaching keto sub 100. How important are carbs to keep that minimum? You know, in that scenario, I.Dr. Eric Helms:
So the strategy of largely come from some of the Jose Antonio studies where it looks like metabolic magic is happening. But I think it's important for you to understand that these are small sample size studies that people say, hey, go do this. And they go out, and then they just do that on my fitness pal come back. And then we look at the outcomes. Anytime this has been more rigorously and empirically tested like metabolic Ward, although it didn't have lifting. If you look at some of braised research in 2012, or other studies where we, you know, have higher protein intakes and in gaining phases, we just don't see this effect. So I really think what's actually happening in these maintenance phases as people are struggling to consume those loads of protein, actually not getting there. And their reported calorie intake is lower than it actually is. And they're doing some recopying. That's accelerated by the fact that they're coming in and out of slight deficits, but the net effect is some some gains there. I think that's a more likely outcome, then tried to explain the energy and take differences in it. Something magical happens when you go from 2.2 grams per kg of protein to 3.5 That is unexplainable by physics, but will magically make you recover. I just don't think that is the case. And I think for you know, there's there's a saying, For Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And the Jose Antonio studies, I love them, I'm glad they exist. They are small sample size, more observational style, outpatient, not well controlled, cool studies on protein, but they're there. They're not robust investigations that are designed to answer that question definitively as to what's the mechanism by what we're seeing here. All we know is that, hey, if you tell people to eat, you know, close to two grams per pound of protein, sometimes they're they're not going to gain weight, and there was little bit of fat, and they'll improve lean mass, or they'll gain lean mass and very little body fat. Okay, cool. But that's what that's like black, but it's a black box there, right? We just know that. We told him to do that. And that's what happened. Okay. So if someone wants to do that, I'm more than happy to facilitate them trying. Nothing wrong with experimenting, right? So yeah, yeah. So go for it. And in my experiences, those are typically short lived. And people don't often get what they hope out of it. It but it does work. I will say the instances where you have athletes who struggle to not be in a state of a larger surplus than intended in the offseason, they want to lean gain. But definitely they start gaining a pound a week, this can be very useful. And I think it has more to do with being inconvenient. You know, like, it is very difficult to eat that amount of protein, make meals, but it does drive your food choices away from things that are hyper palatable. And it makes it hard to goPhilip Pape:
out to eat it as well, doesn't it? I mean, it just makes you feel stuffed. Yes. AndDr. Eric Helms:
I think the data on really, really, really high protein intakes is not super clear for the long run on the satiety effect that seems to increase satiety, and that starts to level off. That's more similar to a moderate intake around like a gram per pound. But I don't think the inconvenience factor goes away. Like if you have to eat 350 grams of protein, and 150 grams of carbs and 70 grams of fat per day. What does that diet look like? It doesn't include eating out? Does it include things that are really really tasty, you know, there's a reason why carnivore is a rage. Because when you actually cut out 90% of the foods you eat, yeah, you're probably not going to have a whole lot of GI issues in the short term. And you're going to be in a deficit, you're going to lose weight, and you're going to be covering your bases protein wise. So if it's a protein modified fast, you know, it's a better approach than just do it like the grapefruit diet, right? So anyway, I find that those those those approaches typically are short lived. But some version of it can be useful just because it changes your your food of options, if you're someone who slides towards bulking too hardcore. And if you need some rules, like some macros, basically, which are end up being rules, de facto, they don't feel like rules. But you'd like to hit your target numbers. And that keeps you in check. You go to the restaurant, you're like, Okay, well, like Yeah, okay, the stakes are too high of fat. Alright, okay, well, the car? Oh, no, no, that the chicken is not enough protein, but like, you have to really think about, you know,Philip Pape:
a big plate of white fish, that's all you're gonna have. Exactly. Right.Dr. Eric Helms:
You know, so it, um, it makes things more challenging to keep making that same error. And that's a, if that works, go for it. But generally, in that situation, I would encourage the person towards something maybe a little more moderate. And just make sure that they weren't under any illusions of like the magic of protein, probably have a similar conversation that we just had from asking more questions like, you know, this isn't a consultation. But yeah, whatPhilip Pape:
about the illusions of the, the anti magic of carbs, so to speak, or the anti catabolic effects of carbs? Like are isn't someone missing out significantly when they're when they could be eating three or 400? And they're eating 80? Or 100?Dr. Eric Helms:
You know, to be honest, I'll tell you what, this is basically a scenario when you're eating, let's say 350 grams of protein, and 150 grams of carbs, instead of swapping it. It's, it's basically saying, Hey, I like to get in my in my car door by rolling down the window and the jump through, right? Because you're, you're asking, Hey, liver, how much can you have regulate? You know, gluconeogenesis? Like, how much how much can you convert to protein, and it's pretty good. Like, like, you can actually get to the point where, you know, like, 40% of your, your carbohydrate is getting produced from protein conversion. There's some paper, theoretical bills, burrowing man, which always stands out in my mind, because it kind of has these questions about like the upper end thresholds of theoretical protein intake and humans. So you know, I generally present protein as something that's not a metabolic substrate, primarily, it's for structural repair. But if you give your body twice what it needs in protein, it's going to make a lot of that into into carbohydrate and, and like ketone bodies like you know amino acids or their ketogenic or their glucogenic. So it's gonna start making other substrates from sure from that cleaving off those, Amiens recycling those things. And it will, that's why protein has a higher thermic effect of the other macronutrients to ETFs a little higher. That's why high protein diets brought a few more calories, and you would be maxing that out a little bit. You might be gaining the systems or you noticed, hey, I can actually eat 100 more calories when I do it like that. And I'm actually, you know, eating more than twice when old protein intake, that might be worth it to you, but it gets stuck calories are really going to enjoy it's another, you know, ounce of whitefish on your plate, right?Philip Pape:
Yeah, when you're probably already having a challenge eating enough anyway. It's like gaining face. All right, so straddling nutrition and training here. How do I want to ask this question? So imagine you have a kind of an intermediate athlete, which probably a lot of people listening to, they've gone through their newbie gains, maybe they're a year or two into effective training, they understand the basics of nutrition, like you've said it, and they just want to have the most efficient next two years in terms of physique, so let's say physique specifically, is their goal, not their one, our you know, for sure sports production or something? What would that look like from a periodization strategy? And I know it's like a general universal thing. We're talking here and everyone's different. But people always ask, you know, how long should I be cutting? bulking? You know, what, what does that look like? Do I use mini cuts that whole thing, I don't know, if we can generalize it,Dr. Eric Helms:
I think we can give some constraints to help people. So we recently just published a paper on different rates of weight gain, and changes in body composition. It just came out sports medicine open, we had a preprint up before that, open access, feel free to read it. And we had three different groups, one group was eating at maintenance, or attempting to one group was an attempted 5% surplus, and one group that attempted 15% surplus, and they were adjusted by a dietitian in real time and do video consults with them based upon how their weight was progressing. And then we looked at biceps and triceps, muscle thickness and quadricep muscle thickness changes, while they're doing a three times per week full body program aimed at generating hypertrophy for eight weeks. And there are some really interesting findings. For one, we regressed all of them, which just means that we plotted all of them together as one big group, plotting a change in body mass versus change in skinfold thicknesses. So the sum of all their skinfold thicknesses not a derived body fat percentage, but a very accurate measure of subcutaneous fat added together. And also, all of this different muscle thickness values and also their water strength gates, and just focusing on the gains they made. The strongest predictor of gaining more body weight, was getting more skinful thicknesses. And that was explained about 50% of the Marriott's in that. So if you want to know, am I going to put on body fat that's primarily influenced, but all the things you could do 50% of is influenced by how large is your surplus, not the content of the surplus necessarily. And I would guess the rest of it would be related to your trading and trading age and gaining capacity, right, those intangibles. But we know for sure that if you put put yourself in a big surplus, you're more likely to gain body fat. Another thing we found was that there was a very, very, very weak relationship with putting on slightly more bicep muscle thickness, but not quads, and also not triceps. And it's not because the biceps are magic. It's just when you look at the training program, I wrote that the biceps out of all the muscle groups that we measured, got the most trading volume, and it was going to fail your most of the time. So if you are pushing pretty hard to grow a certain muscle group, it's gonna have a little more gating potential. If you will, then you could, you know, but not that much. I mean, we're talking. There's 10 times the strength of evidence we used to Bayesian, the Bayes factor, it was like 14 point something versus 1.4, which is just kind of like an odds ratio, meaning that, hey, if you're in a larger surplus, you're 1.4 times more likely than someone at a smaller surplus in the study to put on more biceps thickness, but you're 14 times more likely to put on more skinful thickness. Yeah. Yeah. So. So it's certainly a lot of variance between individuals. But yeah, so training hard is important in dropping it too large of a surplus is important for not accumulating unnecessary fat gain, right? Now, it'd be easy to go okay, well, then, therefore, you should be closer to that 5% surplus. And, you know, maybe you could just try made gaining made to gain TT, whatever you want to call it. But the problem with that is that that's hard advice to follow. And this came, we looked at our nutritional data, so we had a 5% surplus group 15% surplus group, and we regress them as one big group, which was useful. And the reason we had to do that is because the 5% and the 15% group had the same mean body weight change, meaning that it's really hard for people to follow up Very, very specific surplus. Yeah. So yeah, so on average, not everyone, but on average, a 5% surplus turned into a 50% surplus, right. And the 50% surplus had some people who are in a 15, we're at a 5% surplus. So the precision there is in the CELT, like we didn't have a familiarization phase, it wasn't like they didn't have you know, a dietician guiding them. They had the equivalent of like one on one coaching like you and I would provide online. And some of the some of the people in the study were pretty advanced. So it wasn't for it just being a bunch of random soccer moms doing something they had never done before. Right. And sorry, pickup soccer mom felt that like, oh, man, there's a bunch of tracking, I don't know why it has to be, you know, soccer balls, please. Just got these internal biases against the soccer mom. So I apologize. But um, so anyway, the I think the lesson here is that you do need to figure out what's feasible first. And that's going to dictate your approach. Because if you're working with a bodybuilder, sure, you can say, hey, I want a 5% surplus. And I want you to only get a pound a month. But if you're working with your general fitness enthusiast, that might turn into two pounds a month anyway, and then they just feel like they're failing. So then you go, Okay, well, what's the slowest rate we can gain reasonably, if it's appropriate for the person's goal. So like, if they're an intermediate, you probably want a little bit slower, just because it'll put on body fat. But it's also going to create a good environment for gains. And then from there, that'll dictate your cutting schedule, because like How high should I get it? So it might be something like four months of being in like a gaining phase, and then a one month mini cut? That's probably the the highest ratio of cutting to getting I would have to see have more time to do it. And ideally, I'd like to be less frequently that thatPhilip Pape:
less regularly meeting me want to stretch everything out six months and building to like a six week mini cut or something.Dr. Eric Helms:
Yeah, or even just a month, because that means they gave us that period, right? And also, there's other factors is going to impact this. So it's basically how close do we think you already are genetic ceiling? And then what's your current body fat level? And how comfortable are you with it? Because if someone's relatively high in body fat, the answer may just be we do a conservative cut. And we know that they're going to have a good chance of actually putting on muscle mass, they'll probably recap quite well. And if they're a newbie, they're probably going to read and let's say they they're higher body fat than they otherwise like to be. We could also just kind of eat a maintenance and let body recomposition do its thing until it seems like it's stopping. And I think you can run acrossPhilip Pape:
someone who's What about someone who's gone through this. And they're like, kind of at that steady state? I don't know for myself 15%, body fat, something like that. And they just want it like what's the, you know, put it on autopilot for the next five years? What would the cycles generally look like? For most? Do you line it up with the seasons and life? Is that a kind of a good approach? Or do you have you seen a certain ratio and length of time be more optimal?Dr. Eric Helms:
I prefer like a minimum four to one or six or eight to one ratio, the slowest they can gain while still being able to check that they're gaining and focusing more on progress in the gym. So this looks more like hey, having a four to eight month period of only getting like a pound a month. And then we look up really okay, we've gained, you know, five to 10 pounds, how are we look at? And you know, a good answer for someone in that scenario would be like, yeah, it was probably about two thirds body fat, you know. And, I mean, that's incredible, right, that means you put on three to four pounds of muscle, you know, in the better part of a year, I doing that. But I think if someone can do that in a relatively late stage, that's fantastic. And then you clean up and you're rinse and repeat. And it is certain points, you do get to get to a place where that is becoming less and less and less, less possible, and you're getting better and better and better and better at tracking. And it starts to look a little more individualized, and you might stay lighter. And it's more just about creating a good trading environment and in traditional environment and kind of clustering into a surplus, and just figuring out what timeframe that looks like. And then what level of precision and control and structure do you need to not let less than ideal habits kind of take hold where you're like whatever I'm not trying to gain weight says really matter like meal frequency slips and protein intake drops, like that's what you want to actually avoid at the advanced level. Yeah,Philip Pape:
and the idea of just keeping the training you know, hard and sufficient the whole time can can end up being the holdup for a lot of folks once even when say down the nutrition thing because because of life and the programming andDr. Eric Helms:
died at a time. Yeah, it is what it is for advanced lifters. It's not nutrition right and less there because you typically don't get to be an advanced lifter when you chronically under eat. Right? You know, that actually ends up holding you back. So most advanced lifters that I've found. They are either too big if they get too heavy, or they're able to maintain but they're not seem to make any progress. And the guys who get too heavy like sometimes they cut down If they see that nothing changed, and then there is a nutritional modification, just they're happy in or in general, but for the, the objective goal have to be put on lean mass is the same for both of those two people, the person who's better at not getting too heavy, and kind of hangs around 15%, or the person who's floating up to 25% of for using this kind of male archetype, you can add a percent to those numbers for women. And in the case where the person is not struggling to get too heavy, I would even say 10 out of 10 times unless it's like a sleep issue or something else, if, in the cases where it could be nutrition or training, it's always training, because, or they're just done, which, which does mean that we don't want to ever accept that to be the case, but but they could just be like, you know, now it's I'm actually, you know, I've been training for 30 years. And we're just gonna focus on other aspects of the process and focus on living in this awesome body of built for as long as possible, right, yeah. But most of the time, what you're doing is you're going the training is obviously not stimulating muscle growth, because nutrition is permissive. Right, okay, we have an environment that would support growth, if growth, there was a growth stimulus, but there's not. So let's talk about specialization cycles. Let's, let's take a look at how much volume you're doing per muscle group, let's, let's really audit your proximity to failure, let's audit your recovery. Are we doing too much or too little? Do we need to focus on these groups of muscles, not that etc. And that becomes everything. So focusing on training is, is it because you could take early stage intermediate, or late stage novice and anything reasonable will get them good gains that you probably are splitting hairs, we try to make them optimal. But when you get to an advanced level, like for me, the difference between 2019 why I was close to a pro Corbin didn't get it in this year. And excited there were physique changes beyond just getting leaner, which I'm only happening now I don't think I think onstage last Saturday, I was as late as I was at the May of 2019. I play second at that show. And it was arguably a similar competitive level of show. But this one, I was second overall and got a pro card. So what happened. And the difference was, is that I probably put maybe 100 grams of tissue on certain key spots, you know, so I have more medial delts, I had more back, I had more more back with. So the back with the shoulder with it really from my narrow structure, it makes such a huge difference. It's a disproportionate influence on some poses, and my my bodybuilding outcomes. So how do you track that, you know, 100 reps over like, you know, so. So that's the type of thing where it was all down to specialization cycles, training, implementation, my calves also improved a little bit, I was still like an orthotic stretching device, you know. So there's a lot more that goes into that side of it. When you're at an advanced level.Philip Pape:
Yeah. So do you have time for like a couple of questions. One or two more? I know, we're at the bottom of the hour here.Dr. Eric Helms:
Yeah, got like five minutes that we're okay.Philip Pape:
Yeah, it works. I'll take all my training questions and kind of swish it into one because you touched on, on the key variables, right? It all comes down to individualization for you, right? The volume, and your programming and recovery and all of that. Yeah. So my question is for like a late intermediate, or even an intermediate? Because again, I think that's if you think of the bell curve, right, a lot of the population here. Yep. How do they find that sweet spot without looking back and thinking they wasted the last two years of their lifting? How do they find that individualized volume, sweet spot? They're not a programming guru, per se, they might have a coach, but you know, like, what, where is it? Is it? Is it effective reps? Is it you know, how you feel with your biofeedback? Is it just trial and error? You know, what is it? Eric,Dr. Eric Helms:
I think for one, philosophically, you're now at a point where you're entering a phase where you have to be willing to invest in a strategy, that's going to take a while that assessment pays off, and know that there's no other way around it. And the only other way to do to go is to always be looking at the graphing grader and program hopping, and then wasting more time than you otherwise would have versus committing to something for, say, four months, six months, seeing if it worked, and being open to the idea that maybe it didn't. But that's a valuable lesson. So that's the philosophical shift, one. The second one, though, is that you are going to have indicators of whether or not it's working along the way. And, like, it's a little different if you're just purely a competitive bodybuilder at the advanced level. But if your overall goal is this progress and growth, you do want to assess your trading box. And over a reasonable timeframe, you should be seeing performance trending up in the stuff you're focusing on. And let's say you really missed a general intermediate, you're not specializing any muscle group yet, you're still running, let's say an upper lower split, and you want generally everything to grow, you should generally be seeing that over the course of say a mesocycle of training, say six to 12 weeks of training, that you're getting a fewer reps or the same load to slightly lower RPE and that you know your eight to 15 RMS or clustering upward where you can sustain that same those reps across multiple sets. And there should be indicators that you are with the same technique, able to lift heavier, or for more reps, or that it's getting better cleaned up, like oh, like I'm going increased range of motion and better depth. And I'm not using as much momentum, even though it's the same RP and reps. And if that's not happening, then I would be comfortable saying, you know, what you put in a solid, you know, two mesocycles of needed to four week blocks of this training, that should be resulting in at least a slight majority of your lifts going up. And if they didn't go up at all, I think then you can go back to the drawing board. So that lag time does start to extend out. But I think, because you see larger changes in performance than you do in your physique, but they are indicating one another indirectly, at least, that you can not let the the amount of time passed for too long before you make some type of change to your progress that is informed by that, you know, so let's say you commit you guys, I'm going to try a lower volume closer to failure program. Awesome. Okay. At the eight week mark, is it working? And you're assessing your progress? If not, then you go, okay, maybe that wasn't it for me. But now I've at least explored going close to failure. So I'm going to try to see, okay, can I keep the same proximity to failure, how's my recovery, I'm going to go up 20% in volume, right, and then see what happens. And if the only thing you notice is that your recovery takes a hit. And now it's really hard because you have to do another set on everything going to failure still, but you don't actually make objective improvements, then you redial it again, okay, well, I'm gonna pull the volume back even further. And I'm, or rather my proximity to failure back even further, I'm gonna try to 123 or IR most the time. But now I'm going to make another 20 or 30%, increase in volume, and see how it goes. And you start to dial it onto what works well for you. And then you can apply that same kind of mindset to exercise selection, which I think actually gives you faster biofeedback and my feeling and my target muscle. Is that what I introduce these new exercises, do I get Dom's in the place? I'm supposed to get it. So there's a different set of rubrics but similar process. And that also, hey, let me take the same amount of volume, same exercise, etc, and manipulate the frequency and distribution throughout the week, to start to see if I can get the most out of my recovery and get the least bleed over into subsequent sessions. IPhilip Pape:
think that last point is really important because people are hearing volume and they think it's up or down. And what you're saying is it could be the distribution of the volume. Yes. And I found that myself, especially in a cut, going from like, three days to six days actually works for me, because I guess spread it out even though I am working out six days a week. You know, it sounds counterintuitive, but definitely one experiment. So, man, this has been great. Eric, as always, last question, where do you want folks to find you?Dr. Eric Helms:
Yo, I think just based upon that last question you gave me what I really recommend people do is they go to the 3d MJ vault. This is our online learning platform for it, people are interested in either competitive or non competitive bodybuilding, we have a really cool course called bodybuilding program design, which is exactly what we just talked about. It is you starting with an inside out approach to programming How do I set up my own individual volume targets needs, etc. For me apply It's my life. And then how do I experiment with it? And it's a three coach collaboration myself a Brendon Yes, Brad Loomis teaching you basically how to individualize your training for people at that stage where they know like, like I said, I was 10 out of 10 times, that's the reason you're not progressing in the lab enables you to instead of just starting with a split, they kind of shoehorned you into I have to do for upper lower days or push pull legs or something like that. You start with no not I'm gonna start with a split, what are my individual needs? And then the training program where the split becomes an emergent property of that. So it's inherently much more customized. And then how do you honor that change over time?Philip Pape:
Awesome, couldn't have planned it any better go to the 3d MJ vault. It's called the bodybuilding program design. I'll put that in the show notes. I really appreciate you taking the time again to come on for a second time on Wits. & Weights, Eric, best of luck with the rest of the contest season and everything else and we'll definitely be in touch. Thanks for coming on.Dr. Eric Helms:
It's been a true pleasure. Thank you so much.Philip Pape:
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