Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

Bonus Episode: Andy Baker on Mastering Strength Training Principles, Programming, and Progress

April 27, 2024 Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer
Bonus Episode: Andy Baker on Mastering Strength Training Principles, Programming, and Progress
Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
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Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
Bonus Episode: Andy Baker on Mastering Strength Training Principles, Programming, and Progress
Apr 27, 2024
Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer

On this classic episode (a replay of Ep 60), we’re examining the world of programming and coaching with my special guest, Andy Baker. We get into programming principles for lifters of different ages and experience levels, whether your goal is to improve strength, performance, or body composition, or just have fun but effective workouts. We also talk about Andy’s career as a coach,  training principles and methods, and what he’s been up to lately.

If you don’t already know him, Andy Baker is a highly sought-after strength coach, personal trainer, competitive raw and drug-free powerlifter, and co-author of two best-selling books on strength training.

Andy’s books and programming changed my life when I finally figured things out and got my act together back in 2020 and did my first novice linear progression with Starting Strength. I’ve since run several of his programs, my favorite being The KSC Method for Power-Building, and I’ve been a group client of his Baker Barbell Club since 2021.

Unlock the secrets of effective strength training with Andy Baker, a strength coach whose expertise spans from military fitness to running a successful barbell club. Our conversation promises insights that transcend the usual workout chatter, focusing on how to craft a regimen that's as enjoyable as it is sustainable. Andy and I dissect the principles of programming that hold true whether you're a gym rookie or a seasoned weightlifter, offering guidance on how to pursue strength, enhance body composition, and safeguard long-term health.

To check out the original episode (including full timestamps and links to Andy's website and podcast), check out:

You might also like the more recent interview of Andy about bodybuilding:

Send me a question for Q&A!

Support the Show.


🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

👥 Join our Facebook community for live Q&As & support

✉️ Join the FREE email list with insider strategies and bonus content!

📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

🩷 Enjoyed this episode? Share it on social and follow/tag @witsandweights

🤩 Love the podcast? Leave a 5-star review

📞 Send a Q&A voicemail

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On this classic episode (a replay of Ep 60), we’re examining the world of programming and coaching with my special guest, Andy Baker. We get into programming principles for lifters of different ages and experience levels, whether your goal is to improve strength, performance, or body composition, or just have fun but effective workouts. We also talk about Andy’s career as a coach,  training principles and methods, and what he’s been up to lately.

If you don’t already know him, Andy Baker is a highly sought-after strength coach, personal trainer, competitive raw and drug-free powerlifter, and co-author of two best-selling books on strength training.

Andy’s books and programming changed my life when I finally figured things out and got my act together back in 2020 and did my first novice linear progression with Starting Strength. I’ve since run several of his programs, my favorite being The KSC Method for Power-Building, and I’ve been a group client of his Baker Barbell Club since 2021.

Unlock the secrets of effective strength training with Andy Baker, a strength coach whose expertise spans from military fitness to running a successful barbell club. Our conversation promises insights that transcend the usual workout chatter, focusing on how to craft a regimen that's as enjoyable as it is sustainable. Andy and I dissect the principles of programming that hold true whether you're a gym rookie or a seasoned weightlifter, offering guidance on how to pursue strength, enhance body composition, and safeguard long-term health.

To check out the original episode (including full timestamps and links to Andy's website and podcast), check out:

You might also like the more recent interview of Andy about bodybuilding:

Send me a question for Q&A!

Support the Show.


🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

👥 Join our Facebook community for live Q&As & support

✉️ Join the FREE email list with insider strategies and bonus content!

📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

🩷 Enjoyed this episode? Share it on social and follow/tag @witsandweights

🤩 Love the podcast? Leave a 5-star review

📞 Send a Q&A voicemail

Philip Pape:

It was way back in 2020 that I was finally learning to lift weights the right way. I was focusing on strength. I had come across a life-changing book called Starting Strength and the companion follow-up to that called Practical Programming, written by Mark Ripito and co-written by Andy Baker, who has been my coach ever since I'm in his barbell club, and he's been on the podcast a couple times. The first time was the episode you're about to hear episode 60, way back in the early days, and he came on and we talked about some really good stuff here, some programming principles which are always important, whether you are young, older, on the older side, whatever your experience level, whether your goal is to improve strength or performance or body composition. Because his background is extremely varied working with all types of you know, lifestyle and athlete-focused lifters and the way that he programs and thinks and even discusses this stuff is very much focused on balancing not just the result you want to get, but having fun doing it, and doing it in a healthy way that you know allows your body to last for years, and this is why I gravitate to him and so many of my lifter friends and my clients do as well. So I don't mind promoting him as much as I possibly can, because he's one of the best out there.

Philip Pape:

Enjoy today's episode. Listen to it all the way through. If you've heard it before, I would encourage listening to it again, because there are so many nuggets about the benefits of strength training, about linear progression, about tendon and ligament health, about listening to your intuition, and on and on. I mean he just has so many nuggets that he drops. So check this out. Enjoy this episode with Andy Baker.

Andy Baker:

Any type of training that you do is going to be better than if you're not, but the physiology is still basically the same, and that was a big thing. For a long time they said, well, body part splits don't work, for, you know, natural guys. Natural guys need to do full body or upper, lower or that type of stuff, and that's not necessarily true.

Philip Pape:

Welcome to the wits and 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. We'll 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. Welcome to another episode of Wits and Weights. Today we're getting into programming and coaching with my special guest, who's none other than Andy Baker. We'll get into programming principles for lifters of different ages and experience levels, whether your goal is to improve strength, performance, body composition or even just have fun but effective workouts. We'll also talk to Andy about Andy's career as a coach, his opinions on training principles and methods and what he's been up to lately. So, if you don't already know him, andy Baker is a highly sought after strength coach, personal trainer, competitive, raw and drug-free powerlifter and co-author of two bestselling books on strength training that are also personal favorites of mine Practical Programming for Strength Training, affectionately called the Gray Book Book that he wrote with Mark Ripito of Starting Strength, and the Barbell Prescription. Strength Training for Life After 40 with Jonathan Sullivan, aka Sully, and Andy hosts the Baker Barbell Podcast.

Philip Pape:

Andy's books and programming basically changed my life back in 2020 when I finally figured things out. I finally got my act together and got into barbell training and I did my first novice linear progression and I've since run several of his programs. My favorite, I think, is the KSC Method for Powerbuilding, which I'm going to run again soon here, and I've been a group client of his online Baker Barbell Club since 2021. And he has almost two decades of dedicated experience as a strength coach and personal trainer. He's coached hundreds, if not thousands, of clients by now, ranging from high achieving adult fitness clients to elite athletes. Andy is a former US Marine, a certified starting strength coach and, of course, the owner of Kingwood Strength and Conditioning, a private barbell-based training facility in Texas. Andy man, it's a privilege to welcome you to the show.

Andy Baker:

That was quite an introduction. I appreciate it. That's probably the best and smoothest one ever. That was great.

Philip Pape:

I appreciate it, man. I'm going for that now with every guest I have because you deserve it, man. Thanks, I appreciate it. I'm happy to be here. Yeah, it's going to be fun. I always have like 20 questions ready and I usually get to three and then we go off on much more valuable tangents from that, so let's hope that happens today.

Andy Baker:

It's funny because my podcast is like that, Like I'll, I'll script out like an outline for the episode and it's like you know and I don't know why I do this, cause I know it's not going to work It'll be like 10 different topics I want to cover and like an hour goes by and I've done like one and a half and I'm like. Oh well, I guess we're going to have a part two on this, so, which is awesome. You know, that's that's what we want from this.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, this is. This is not a highly produced show, this is a real people here. Um, all right, so you know you've probably told your story a million times on podcasts. I want to kind of I want to narrow the focus for folks here. Um, you've trained since you were young. You went to Texas A&M, spent time in the Marines, became a full-time personal trainer and strength coach your gym's in the Houston area right, houston area and I guess what I'd like to ask you is between the experiences you had with CrossFit, with the online forums, with your gym, when did you realize that this style of training and programming with barbells was the way to go?

Andy Baker:

Um, I mean pretty early on, I mean even in my early days before I, you know, back when I was a teenager and early twenties and stuff, when you're just you know, you know, before I was coaching anybody or anything, you're just training yourself, I mean there's always kind of a recognition of of what works and what doesn't. Um, you know, and so I always gravitated towards, um, you know, the basic barbell lifts and such, even when I was doing like more bodybuilding type stuff and that just came from, you know, having a background in that, um, coming out of the sports world and that sort of thing, there was always a recognition that, you know, there was a lot of value to squats and bench presses and deadlifts and that sort of thing. Um, really, regardless of what the goal was, that that was a great foundation. And so, you know, whatever style of training that I've, that I've done, which going from, like you know and this is, you know, spans both me personally and with my clients, going from like bodybuilding style training to even experimenting with like CrossFit style training, to coaching power lifters, you know, to just general fitness, general population types of people, that the basic barbell lifts have always been at the core of everything that I've done and then the the, the changes are. A lot of it is just on the periphery. You know kind of on the margin, specific to that person and what their goals are.

Andy Baker:

So you know a lot of it is just, I always tell people, like, once you've done squats, I mean you kind of know, like if we're a new person, that's never they've. They've read all this stuff and experimented with different things. But like, once they've done squats and see the results from it, it's hard to like unconvince somebody that squats isn't, say, a superior leg exercise. You know, it's like you don't really have to convince people. They just you just kind of know and and so, um, you know, that's. That's kind of the way I've always felt about it, that you know, you just you can watch the changes happen with people. You get people's anecdotal feedback. You know from your own personal experience, um, you know, even if you're training purely for aesthetic goals, um, you know most people still like to be strong, even if, that's, you know they're not necessarily numbers chasing or whatever. So those have always kind of been, you know, at the core, not that it came more naturally to.

Philip Pape:

But I did CrossFit for eight years and I did a bunch of squats there, but they weren't super effective for me. No-transcript.

Andy Baker:

Well, I think, like with CrossFit, because I've, you know, I've had a lot of experience working with CrossFitters and such, and I've paid attention to it, you know, from the early days. You know, and the good CrossFit gyms, the good CrossFit coaches, had a recognition early on that, like the squatting and the bench pressing and the overhead pressing and the dead lifts and everything that was really probably, you know, 70, 80 percent of the results that people were seeing. The problem wasn't the lifts, it was the way they were programmed, right, um, or not programmed, and the fact that in the early days of crossfit it was all so everything was so randomized that you know you might squat, you know, on March 1st and then not squat again until May or something, and it was just all. And it might be, it might be a five by five this time, and then the next time it was a one RM and then the next time it was three sets of 10 or so it was just 10 by 10, andy, yeah, so so it was just like you know it was.

Andy Baker:

It wasn't the, it wasn't the, the wasn't the exercises that were the problem, it was the way they were programmed. And I think a lot of the good CrossFit gyms now you look at them and they all kind of operate fairly similarly, which is that they have a structured, periodized, repeatable strength program, you know, built into their WOD structure. So you know, monday we're going to squat. Every Monday we're going to squat, and then we're going to follow that up with some sort of wad. And then Tuesday we're going to bench press and we're going to program these lifts and we're going to do them repeatably and we're going to progress them on some sort of with some sort of framework that makes sense. And then you know, friday is we're going to deadlift. Every friday we're going to deadlift and then we're going to do a wad and and the wads complement what you're doing with the main barbell lift and they they don't interfere with what's coming the next day.

Andy Baker:

And that's the difference between, like, I think crossfit now it versus crossfit in the very early days was the idea that completely and totally random was better than programmed. And you know, you know the reality is, is it's really not, because if you're going to, if you've got squats on Tuesday and you do, you know 400 meters of walking lunges on Monday, well, I mean that's just retarded. I mean there's no, there's, there's no reason to do that and so that. But that was kind of the really early days of CrossFit. Was this idea that good exercise needed to be completely and totally random, regardless of how little sense that it made. You know, doing high volume kettlebell swings and then the next day doing heavy deadlifts, you know that sort of thing. It's just it's not. And you know the gyms that wanted to stay in business and not burn out and injure their clients, kind of figure that out, figure it out, yeah.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, I mean, and what so? The principles of what you're talking about here, for anybody listening who may have not been able to find something that works for them, is the progressive overload, the programming, the being consistent and developing something over time, and perhaps folks that go to the gym the gen pop that haven't found a gym like yours or haven't found barbell lifts, or just it's random as well just because they don't know what to do. So that's really important. All right, I want to talk about Rip a little bit and your relationship with him, because that just probably comes up a lot. I listen to him all the time too. In his podcast.

Philip Pape:

The guy's got a great personality. It's just very unique. I understand he was a mentor and friend of yours. You shared a similar vision, this repeatable approach to lifting, whether it was based on anecdotes, like you said, working with tons of clients, based on the biomechanics and bar path and all that good stuff. And then you collaborated on the third edition of Practical Programming. How did you become friends with him and how has that evolved to this day?

Andy Baker:

to this day Well early on the way I stumbled upon Rip is a way a lot of people did was, you know, he became kind of known, let's say nationally or to the broader audience via CrossFit. And this was in the early days of CrossFit, when and I don't pay attention to CrossFit now, so I don't know how they, how they do things but in the early days, you know, they brought in all these subject matter experts to teach these you know kind of independent skills that were a part of the broader CrossFit regime. And so they had Mike Bergener was the Olympic weightlifting guy, they had like a jump rope guy, they had a kettlebell guy, you know they had all these guys at the end. And Rip they brought in was the basic barbell guy. So they brought him in to teach squats, bench overhead, press and deadlifts. And I don't know how Glassman found out about him, that somehow Glassman knew about his book Starting Strength that he had written. But at the time Starting Strength was not real widely known like it is now. But CrossFit kind of introduced it to the world. So I became familiar with RIP via CrossFit. But at that time CrossFit wasn't as big as it is now.

Andy Baker:

And so you know, at the time I was, I was in the transition of getting out of the Marine Corps. I still lived in California. Rip was from Texas. I was from Texas, I was moving back to Texas, I had started to train clients while I lived in California and I had planned on starting a coaching practice. When I got back to Texas and I was using a lot of this stuff from Starting Strength with the clients that I was coaching, and when I eventually opened my gym in late 2007, early 2008, I was taking a lot. I was using starting strength, linear progression, you know, and a lot. Some of the other programs, the early programs for practical program, intermediate stuff. I was using a lot of that in a commercial setting with real people which you know. Really. That's. That's kind of the only place that it counts. As a coach, you're like you have to be able to apply this stuff in the real world or otherwise. It's just theory and looks good on paper. If it doesn't actually work with real people, then as a coach it's not really a viable methodology.

Andy Baker:

And at the time, rip was a moderator on this obscure strength. This was before social media Might have had MySpace or something, but at the time, yeah, but like Facebook and Instagram and none of that stuff was what it is today, wasn't even around really, I don't guess. But anyways, rip was a moderator on this kind of obscure strength training forum called strengthmill I think it was strengthmillnet, and like nobody went there. And so but I, I somehow found it and I was communicating with Rip, um, on that forum and, um, he eventually bought strengthmillcom or strengthmillnet, whatever it was, and it became starting strengthcom, the forum, but yeah, the forums. And so I I was communicating with him way back then about what I was doing at my gym in Kingwood and you know, at the time, you know, there I'm sure there were other coaches that were doing it too.

Andy Baker:

I was just the only one that was doing it and communicating back and forth with him relatively frequently about what worked, what didn't work. You know what I was struggling with and it's like one of those things where if you do it, if he's doing it with a few hundred people up in Wichita Falls and then I start doing it with a few dozen, a few hundred people down in Houston, you know, if you do something with 10 people, you learn something. If you do something with 100 people, you learn more. If you do something with a thousand people, you learn a lot more. So it was just one of those things where the more people that are doing it, the more you learn about it.

Andy Baker:

And so we were communicating a lot of this stuff backward, back and forth, especially on like the intermediate type of programming and all that which hadn't been really all that fleshed out that well in the earlier editions of practical programming. And so then fast forward a few years later and he wanted to do a rewrite of practical programming, basically because then fast forward a few years later and he found he wanted to do a rewrite of practical programming basically because we had learned a lot actually putting a lot of this stuff into practice. And he's like hey, you've, you've been doing this stuff as much as I have been, or you know, rip also just isn't that interested in programming. Yeah, he'll tell you that. And he's like so he's like I want you to come on board with me and let's, we'll do this together. So I was. It's pretty cool is about.

Philip Pape:

You're like a numbers guy and you know you're the programming guru. So are all the programming examples in there, everything from the texas method and the splits and everything.

Andy Baker:

Is all that your section of the book um, I mean not the olympic lifting stuff, because I, I mean I told him I said that's like, that's not my um, I think he did a lot with. Uh, jim mosher did a lot of the olympic weightlifting stuff, plus rip's own. Rip is a lot more experienced with Olympic weightlifting than I am, it's just not my. I mean I can teach people how to power clean and power snatch, but you know, full, full Olympic weightlifting programming is not something that I do. But the rest of it, yeah, it was pretty much me, obviously with a lot of Rip's influence in there, but he he pretty much let me take the reins on that and go and then he would. You know there was stuff on there that I would propose and he didn't want to have in there. So we took it out and you know that sort of thing. But for the most part, yeah, it's, it's, it's mine and you know it's.

Andy Baker:

It's one of those things where you know you put a few example programs into a book but you can't put everything in there, and so there's a lot of you know and there's. I mean there's stuff that we've learned since then that you know we would probably go back and add, but it's like, at a certain point you can only do so many rewrites. You know of a book and we've gone back and kind of looked over it. You know over the past couple of years and you know, I think, most of it still. You know there's nothing in there. I'd say, oh no, I don't agree with that anymore. Totally got to take that out. I mean, there's stuff in there I could we could have clarified more or, you know, expanded on who shouldn't run the texas method, because yeah, I mean, wants to run it, you know yeah, I mean there's, there's, there's a never-ending there.

Andy Baker:

I mean that's going to go on forever. If we did a fourth edition, there would be a few years from that. There would be things that we'd want to go in there and clean up and clarify. But you know, after a certain point you just have to put stuff out there and realize it's never really going to be perfect, but it's. It's still pretty good, you know, I think, and so I still stand by the work, and I think it's a good starting point for most people, you know, for at least to understand the basic concepts around programming.

Andy Baker:

The problem is, and this is why we kind of joke about people don't read. It is they they do tend to look at, they do tend to just kind of skip over all the text and go right to the right to the programs which, which are all just examples, you know, and it's hard because none of those are written for any specific person, they're all just kind of generic. But people follow them like a cookbook and they don't necessarily give themselves the latitude to adjust and tweak based on the principles that are outlined in there. And if you don't understand the broader principles, then you don't know how to necessarily make those adjustments. And so and granted, it is hard, I mean for the average person to self-program, it can be difficult.

Philip Pape:

It is, yeah, yeah, no it is, but you're, you're. What I was going to say is, if you were to have an addendum to that book today, I would tell anybody just go to your, go to the you know Baker bar, what's your? Uh, andybakercom, go to your training page, and those are effectively a bunch of programs that you've worked out over the years and and have selected the best of, and you know you charge for them, but they're, they're super reasonable. And uh, you take those and then ask you a question on how to tweak it.

Philip Pape:

Or read practical programming, you kind of get a good sense for how to work through it, and you've helped me with this over the past couple of years where, oh, now I've got a shoulder issue, now I'm in a cut, now I've got this thing going on in my life, now I need to go from four to five days, and those are the kinds of things where the principles matter and once you've kind of gone through that process a few times, I think you can get pretty good at it. But you know, so it's not for everybody. Like. Programming is a skill for sure, and I think you've got that.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, I mean even like, if you look at stuff like heavy light medium training, I mean that's just a very general, generic way to kind of organize the stress of a given week.

Andy Baker:

But within that framework, I mean we gave a few examples in the book but there's an infinite amount of examples you could give. When you start rearranging exercises, sets, reps, volumes and intensities, I mean there's an almost endless amount of permutations you could do. That would more or less be heavy light medium stuff. And then there's like a lot of programs I do that are, you know, kind of heavy light medium but not exactly a heavy light medium but not exactly. And so that's like that's where I'm. I tend to be less, um, rigid than I think a lot of my readers and clients are. They read it and they're very rigid and how they apply it, and I think a lot of them are very surprised that I'm not as rigid, yeah, I'm I'm more, um, you know, I always tell people like I'm I approach programming much more as an art than an engine, like from an engineering standpoint.

Andy Baker:

I think a lot of guys especially that are drawn to starting strength because it's so formulaic, kind of have that engineering brain and they really like the structure, like, but overly so almost. And so I think a lot of people are surprised to figure out how kind of loose I am with some of that stuff. Because I've had people say, well, you know, you said we were going to do a heavy light medium program, but this isn't. And I'm like, yeah, it's heavy light medium, ish, it kind of is it just, but it just works. I mean, so it's like whether it fits very, you know, a hundred percent neatly into this package doesn't really matter that much.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, no. And people, people will ask you a question on the forum and they're like can I do this or this or this or this or this? And you're like sure, Like yeah, those will all work, you know, for what you're trying to accomplish.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, they have a great thing at the, at the starting strength seminar and I think I hope I'm quoting this right but Nick Delgadillo is kind of the programming guy now with starting strength and he does a great job. I mean I tell people, I mean I trust Nick. You know as much as anybody, maybe even more so than me, with a lot of the basic barbell stuff. He's really good at it and you know he has a good thing in there in the programming section. Is like, before you ask a question, ask yourself one, does it matter? And two and I think two is something like you know, would the best option be to just try it and see, sure, and that's you know, that's that's kind of what people are like, exactly what you just said they're. They're like well, can I do this or should I do this? And it's like try it and see, man, like both could potentially be right, like I can't tell you, is four sets of five or four sets of four going to be better for this movement? Like how, how can I, how can I know what? That degree of precision, especially from somebody that I don't even coach you know closely, and even somebody that I do coach that closely, and I've made this point before like most of the stuff that we do from a programming standpoint is more or less guesswork.

Andy Baker:

Um, you know, there's, there's. There's no way to know on any given day where, something where you can say, well, when I squat today, should I be doing four sets of five, or should I do four sets of four or five sets of four, like you can't really know that. You're kind of just saying, well, based on where we're at and who I'm working with and the loads that we're with, and I'm going to say it's your recovery and how you, how you feel, yeah, yeah, you're. You can't really pinpoint the exact level of stress that would be optimal. I mean, one of them is more right than the other, four sets of four or four sets of five Right, like one of them is more right than the other. But we're kind of just guessing there and in over time, you know, I think it probably evens out to where it doesn't really matter that much, as long as you're kind of in the ballpark and you're really consistent with it.

Philip Pape:

Right, yeah, are you? 95% versus 90% may not be a big difference as long as you're getting to that 90%. The other thing I've seen a lot is that new lifters they want to copy an advanced lifter's programming. Or they see what they're doing on social media, right, and they just want to look or perform like that person, so they're going to try to do that, and that's just one example. I mean, what are the differences between beginners who just don't know what they're getting into quite yet and don't understand their body or what their maxes are or anything else? Or even intermediate, which I feel like a late novice? Early intermediate is still pretty much a babe in the woods. I know I was between that and advanced lifters. And then the mistakes people make in that regard with regards to writing their own programming.

Andy Baker:

Well, one is the terminology. Um, and we me and Rip me and Rip have both said this that I think if we had it to do over again, we would probably change the terminology away from like novice, intermediate, advanced, I mean. I think novice is correct, but the reality is like this let's say, the starting strength progression depending on who that who the athlete is and who we're working with you're, you're looking at anywhere from potentially as short as six weeks to as long as six months, with six months being really long, like that's that's someone that starts out really small on most in most instances and and gains a lot of weight through the program and does everything right, but most of the time it's between probably eight weeks to 16 weeks, somewhere in there. It's probably more about right in terms of so somebody does a linear progression like that and goes, let's say, three or four months and then they kind of phase out of that and they're ready for something more complex or just structured. You know structured differently. You know they're still a beginner, you know they're, yes, they're on technically, they're on the intermediate training, but you know, the way that we defined it in there was that you know someone that's an intermediate at this point could only progress on a weekly basis. There was no day-to-day progression left. They couldn't progress between Monday and Wednesday and Wednesday to Friday, that they run more of a kind of a weekly type schedule. But you know, if you've only been training six months you're still a beginner. You know if you've been training a year you're probably still really a beginner, even though technically you may be into kind of late stage.

Andy Baker:

Intermediate training, the way that we defined it, and kind of the same thing with advanced, is that people look at advanced programming and they think, well, you know, I'll never be advanced Like that's for, like an elite competitor or whatever. But really advanced training, the way we define it, is just it's any type of progression that is that is longer than week to week. In other words, you can't progress between this Monday and next Monday. Your progress is going to be slower than that. And really anybody that's been training for about six to eight months or a year for sure, is really going to be kind of in that advanced territory. And the differences between intermediate and advanced training are often so hazy that there's a case to bezy that it's there. There's a case to be made that there's not even really a point in making a distinction, because the line between the two are so blurry that you could really make the case that we just have kind of novice training and then post novice training, right, and it could vary by lift even.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, and it probably will. You know, vary by lift. You know a lot of people will make more. You Vary by lift. Even, yeah, and it probably will vary by lift, a lot of people will make more longer linear progression on maybe a deadlift than they will an overhead press or something like that. That's going to require a different type of programming. So that's one way. It's just understanding that the rate of progression is going to slow a little bit sooner than you think that it is.

Philip Pape:

Sure, and then, speaking of a beginner, then is there any scenario where you would not recommend someone follow the starting straight novice linear progression or something close to it? Is there any scenario you can think?

Andy Baker:

of. I mean a lot of times I do even with novices I put them on it still basically looks this it looks very similar Like if you laid the programs out on paper next to each other. But I'll use a lot of times I'll use a four day split with somebody, even right from the beginning, as opposed to the full body structure, and that a lot of times that just that may have to do with somebody's schedule. You know, at the beginning I think the first few weeks for sure, like full body programming, is the easiest, simplest way to do it. The problem with it is that as somebody gets stronger is that the workouts take a long time, right. And so certainly if you have somebody that is kind of competing you know is competing for resources with the lifting let's say they play sports or they do any type of really other outside activity we don't generally recommend people engage in a lot of, you know, a lot of aerobic activity while they're doing. You know it's better to take that time and just get stronger. But you know sometimes people don't have the option. If they're playing a sport or whatever they have to do, you know they have to practice and play the sport and a really long drawn out full body workout is either too time consuming or just too draining on the recovery. So so doing something like a four-day split monday and thursday is bench and overhead press and chin ups or something, and right then you know, tuesday and friday is just squat and deadlift and you're out the door. You know something very simple, like it will it's still basically all the same lifts, it's still. It's still progressed. Within the week. You know nothing really changes other than you're going from, you're doing an upper lower split versus a full body split and it just it makes the workouts a lot shorter and easier to recover from. So you know, but in terms of the lifts, I mean, when I work with older people, for sure I mean you're going to have certain people that can't always do all the lifts. I mean for sure the lift that most people can do actually is the deadlift.

Andy Baker:

So if I'm thinking, in my gym, where I get a lot of, you know, in my coaching practice here locally in my gym, you know I get a lot of clients that are, you know, 60s and 70s and even up into their 80s, and so I mean very I'd say it's more rare, that it's more common that people come in and can't do at least one or two of the lifts the way that we prescribe them. I mean it's pretty rare you're going to get a guy that's in his 70s, that hasn't worked out in forever, that can low bar squat, overhead press and bench press without any remediation. I mean because things like arthritic shoulders and all that is kind of the norm almost with that population, with an unathletic older population, and so you know or you know they're not going to have the strength to do to squat a 45 pound bar or overhead press a 45 pound bar. So you know but that that some of that stuff's easily solved with just lighter equipment. You know, having the equipment there where they can do a 20 pound overhead press, you know a lot of my older clients I may have them start deadlifting with light kettlebells first before I progress into a bar. You know, and I'll have them, we'll get up to where they can do a 50 pound kettlebell and then move them to a 65 pound barbell. You know that sort of thing.

Andy Baker:

You know, for a lot of people that are maybe listening to this, that are your clients, are probably a lot of like mine, a lot of guys in their 30s and 40s. That's not usually an issue with that demographic. I mean, most of them can squat a 45 pound bar on day one, but a lot of my you know. For if you're a coach listening to this, I mean or you're thinking about getting into coaching, if you're going to coach people in person, you're going to have a lot of older clients that have a lot of issues and you're going to be surprised how few of them can, you know, squat a 45 pound bar on day one or deadlift 65 pounds, no-transcript, being able to lay down flat on a bench. A lot of older people, they can't do that. You know. They can't lay flat on a hard bench like that and get on and off.

Andy Baker:

So you got to be creative in your approach. You still follow the same principles, but you're yeah, and I'm and I'm pretty flexible in that I really look for okay, instead of trying to force people into a certain movement, I look at okay, what can we do? Well, and let's focus on those, you know. Let's let's not try to force you into this, into this movement. You know I'm not going to jam the bar down on your shoulders, trying to force you to do a low bar squat, when I could just have you do a safety bar squat or start you with a goblet squat or a body weight squat. You know, whatever it is, I'm just going to get you squatting and then we'll kind of flesh out some of this other stuff down the road.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, and I think that's goes back to talking about this more as an art, in that you have to accommodate what people are coming from, and I know a lot of you guys in the club. We're in our 40s and again dealing with all sorts of little things, and you got to get creative. For me, it was recently a multi-grip bar instead of a straight bar for press because of the shoulder issues. I have female clients that are maybe in their 40s or 50s who never lifted and can they have access to a women's barbell or 15-pound barbell, and that often at least lets them get started and progress up. You mentioned something about recovery and you were talking about people who are maybe athletes, who have other forms of cardio that they're doing in between, and you said maybe they need four days versus three days.

Philip Pape:

Just this week I had a client make an assumption and I was thinking of you actually. He said well, I'm currently in a fat loss phase, so of course I can't do a fifth or sixth day, and I thought you know, andy had me running the bodybuilding track when I was on a cut and that was six days a week and it was fantastic because each day was just like bite-sized and I only had stressful movements maybe two days a week, and that allowed me to spread out the fatigue and recovery. So let's just explore that for a second, so people understand that, like, the number of days per week doesn't always correlate to to the stress or vice versa, right?

Andy Baker:

Yeah, because, like the, the bodybuilding track that I do for a lot of the guys that are, you know, strictly hypertrophy, um, oriented, physique oriented, um, you know that's not something I would necessarily start a novice out with. But once you've kind of, you know, you've got a decent base of strength established and you're kind of looking to, you know, go outside that a little bit, then you know people, people will, without seeing the program, they'll go. Oh my God, it's six days a week. I can never recover from that. But the workouts, the way, the way that I like to train that style is with short, very intense, very focused workouts. And so you know you're looking at a day where it's just it's shoulders, you know, and so that's not, that's not near, that's not as stressful as doing squats, bench presses and deadlifts. You know, on a day that's you might do a, you know, a standing overhead press, that would be your, you know, your initial lift on that day. And then you've got a series of, you know, isolation type movements that are, you know, stressful on the shoulders but low systemic stress. You know you're talking about things like side delt raises, rear delt raises, maybe some shrugs in your out the door, and you know I'm I'm I like for hypertrophy. I'm not a big volume guy. I like enough volume, but I'm much more in favor of, you know, high effort, a handful of very high effort sets for that type of training, and so the workouts are are shorter and they're intense. Um, but there's, it is.

Andy Baker:

To me it's easier to recover from something like that, even though you're training more frequently.

Andy Baker:

You're not training your whole body or even half your body six days a week. You're just doing a, just basically doing a body part, um, and you're using a lot of exercises that are not that systemically stressful, and so you can recovery, recover from it. And a lot of those workouts, um, you know, if you're really focused and you're not scrolling around in your cell phone and you're you're watching your rest time and that sort of thing, I mean, you might knock them out in 30, 45 minutes and you're out the door, and that's that's kind of how I like to train. And if you're going to combine that, say, with cardio, aerobic activity, um, it's a lot easier to do that than if you're trying to knock out a full body workout or even half a body. You know, full, full, a full upper day or a full lower day, you know, full full, a full upper day or a full lower day. Even as much, more, as much harder than that, than um, um, you know, just doing like a body part type split.

Philip Pape:

For sure. Yeah, no, and I've learned a ton from, from your approach here when it comes to, um, stress, fatigue, recovery and how we balance all of those, and then the, the. I guess the other aspect for older lifters would be the the kind of the types of things that they shouldn't. For older lifters would be the, the kind of the types of things that they shouldn't shouldn't do during the week, potentially to manage that recovery. Um, actually, my friend Tony Perry you know, you probably know him right in the barbell club Um, a lot stronger guy than me. He's always getting on me for that, so I hear you, man. But uh, he wanted me to ask you a question about tendon and ligament health in in this context. Um, whether there's anything older, older lifters maybe shouldn't do, whether it's sprinting or Olympic lifts or anything like that. Maybe explore that a bit in terms of tendons and ligaments.

Andy Baker:

Well, yeah, and it's like high speed activities for sure, especially when you're not accustomed to them. That's the thing. It's one thing like there's a difference between you know doing sprints when you're 40, when you started doing them in college and you've maintained a sprinting regimen for into your twenties and thirties and, yeah, maybe you've moderated it down. You don't do as many or as frequent or as fast, but you've never, you've never stopped those activities. You know you've always played. You know you've always played recreational basketball or whatever it is that you do. You've maintained those. Just like with anything else, your body is adapted and conditioned to those stresses. There's a big difference between that and a guy that's 45, 50 years old that says, okay, I'm going to start doing sprints now after never have, after not having done that for 25 years or 30 years. Your connective tissue is not adapted to that. It's not that you can't do them, but you just got to be really careful about introducing that kind of stuff and you have to really weigh the risk reward of that sort of thing. You know, jump training is typically not something that I would necessarily do. I think sprinting is okay, but I always tell my older guys and really this is really anybody over like 30. So not just. I mean there's really no reason why somebody our age should be running a hundred percent max effort sprints. I mean you get, you get whatever benefit you're going to get out of them by running at 80, 90%, um, and you're, you're without putting yourself at the risk of and even if it's not a torn Achilles tendon or something like that, just a strained hamstring, those types of things that then you know they're not catastrophic but they're, they're an annoyance and they slow down your progress by a lot. You know, if you're having, yeah, if you're having to nurse that thing for, you know, three or four months, yeah, you can still train, but you're not training hard, you're having to always nurse it. It's always in the back of your mind whether it's going to give or not, and so you know there's certain things high speed movements for sure, are something that I would be, I would be careful with you, know, but I would say in terms of, you know, protecting yourself from that, don't do things that you're not conditioned to do. Um, if you're not used to training heavy, you know you need to kind of acclimate to that full. I think full range of motion is very important. I think full range of motion and using the, the lifts, as using the. One of the benefits of a lot of these lifts that we do is that kind of weighted, loaded stretch Um, you know, I think is actually very there. I think it helps prevent injury, um, and I think it's, I think it's good for the joints to be taken through their full, not excessively um long, but you know, um not doing a lot of heavy partial movements You've got to be careful with, like dead stop movements from the pins.

Andy Baker:

Those are movements that sometimes I'm careful with, um, you know, pin squats, dead stop, rack, bench presses, um, those types of things where I like those movements. But as you get older you start to those types of movements can be hard on the connective tissue. Um, and then just paying attention to your own, your own body and your own your own body's feedback to you about the things that might cause pain or your own injury history, you know I've got a, I've got an a history of of minor pec tears and one, one or two pretty not major but less than minor, you know pec tears, and so I've got some soft tissue issues you know, in my, in my pecs, that maybe you don't have or another guy doesn't have. So I'm more careful with certain movements, just based on my own injury history, than another guy has, if you know, if you've got a history of knee problems or shoulder problems or whatever.

Andy Baker:

Just paying attention to your own body, um, you know, and kind of writing your own rule book for what you can or can't do, um, because something like there's certain, there's certain movements that get demonized, a lot like dips or behind the neck presses or upright rows, and yeah, those are problematic for a lot of people. But I can do all those movements and I've never had I behind the neck press all the time. I've never had an issue with that, but I don't. But that me, me being able to do it doesn't mean that everybody over 40 can behind the neck press I just have, I've always had very free and open shoulder range of motion and so that movement doesn't hurt at all and but, but I don't. But I know a lot of people do, so I don't prescribe it universally, you know.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, no, no, exactly Right, Not. Not one thing works for everyone. And also, um, what you just said there is is, don't you know, some of us out of ego, I think, uh, especially us guys will push ourselves, especially if we've gotten really, uh, really really strong or made a lot of progress in one area, maybe it's our big lifts. And then we go out like I did a few years ago and said, sure, I can trail run at 100%, and you realize, maybe you should have eased into it and worked up to it and trained for it, and the older you get, the harder it is to bounce back from those things. Hey, this is Philip, and I hope you're enjoying this episode of Wits and Weights. If you're looking to connect with like-minded listeners on their health and fitness journeys, come join our free Facebook community. It's a supportive space where you can share your experiences, ask questions and access free guides and weekly trainings. Just search for Wits and Weights on Facebook or find the link in the show notes. Now back to the show.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, I mean, look, I've been dealing with some plantar fasciitis in my foot since July of last year and it came out of me not following my own advice. My son is a teenager. He's playing football now. So I was training him last summer for his upcoming fall football season and I had him out on the track running sprints and I thought, you know, like a good dad, like a good coach, uh, I'm not gonna. You know, it's like a hundred degrees, you know it's, it's harder to go, it's harder to do that stuff. Um, you know, on your own. So I thought, you know, like a good, a good dad, a good coach, good training partner was 10, 10, 40 or 50 yard sprints, but it had been a long time, you know, since I had done that type of stuff. And then, of course, I got competitive with him and we started.

Andy Baker:

We started instead of just running breaking point yeah, we started rate actually racing, so I was, I did a handful of you know max effort sprints with him felt I woke up the next day and, man, my my foot, like I couldn't put my foot down on the ground. And I at first I was like man, I thought I had a stress fracture in my foot and then, you know, come to find out it's just. I gave myself a pretty acute bout of plantar fasciitis and then, if you've ever had that, you know it's a, it's a pain in the ass to get rid of. You think it's gone and then it comes back. And then you think it's gone and then it comes back. And so I've been dealing with that off and on since July of last year.

Andy Baker:

So you know it's not debilitating, but it's definitely annoying, and that just came strictly from not following my own advice, which was one don't run sprints at max effort and don't do a high volume of things that you're not accustomed to doing. I violated both those rules and I've kind of been paying for it a little bit. Luckily it's a minor thing, it's not. I didn't blow out a hamstring or quad tendon or something like that, but that kind of stuff can happen.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, that reminds me of the suicide sprints I did in the beach a few years back. Same thing you and me. Buddy, let's go after it and see what we can do and I'm not 25 anymore.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, and I think to a degree you know as, as guys, and if you're you know former athletes or whatever you, I mean, you're, you're competitive and it's it's easy to let the moment you know, kind of take over and you do things that you don't, you wouldn't, you know, you wouldn't prescribe to a client, but you wind up doing yourself or you know, in the gym it might be, you know, working up too heavy, you know you haven't been training for a while or whatever, and you decide to work up a little heavier than you should, trying to hit old numbers or pursuing too much volume or whatever it is. You're just you're applying more stress than your body is able to recover from. And I think, especially when you're older and you're you, you you're still pretty strong and you have been strong. I think you kind of hit this nexus where you're still able to apply a lot of stress to your own body. Like I'm still pretty strong, like I can apply a lot of stress to myself, but I have to be careful with that because my recovery is not as good as it used to be. So I can, I can still put up some decent numbers on some of my lifts. I just have to be careful about my volume and my frequency and that sort of thing, because I'm capable of generating a pretty big training stress, but my ability to recover from that same stress is not as good as it was 10 years ago or 15 years ago. So you just kind of have to learn.

Andy Baker:

I think, as you get older and we, we, we focused on this a lot in the barbell prescription, which was you know, everything's going to happen on your own individual timeline and you know that becomes even more true the older that you get is that you really can't adhere to things that are too regimented and too cookie cutter. You know you really have to pay attention to. How is this program that I'm trying to follow? How is that affecting me? Um, you know and that's one thing I always tell these guys that that are like in my club that are following, you know, a lot of the stock programming is. That's a good starting point, like. But give yourself permission to do that. If you're following a workout plan and you feel like god, this is just killing me, like if your intuition is telling you that it's way too much, then it's probably too much, you know, and you don't necessarily have to ask you know to to shave off a set or two or to back the weight down a little bit, like you have to kind of pay attention to your own body and I think that's one of the big mistakes that people make. Is they, they just they don't really, they don't give themselves permission to be like, at the end of the day, your, your, your coach is an advisor. Or you know, that program that you're following is is an advisor.

Andy Baker:

I liken it to like a, like a roadmap or a trail map. Like like, if I give you a map, you know, a rudimentary map to follow that says here's how you get from. You know we're out in the woods somewhere and it's like here's how you get from point A to point B. And you're going down that trail, you know, and you come to a two foot deep puddle of water. It's like, well, go around it Right, like it wasn't on the map, but don't just wade through it. Like, go around it, like you know. And I tell I kind of like to try to tell my guys to follow these things Like if you're doing this program and it says five by five squats, but every time you do five by five squats, you can't walk for a week, you know, or your low back hurts Like, do okay then don't do five sets of five.

Philip Pape:

Do three sets of five. People need to hear this no-transcript.

Andy Baker:

You know, little map is still going to be better than just walking through the woods blind. But it doesn't necessarily include every obstacle that you're that you might encounter. But it's going to get you closer than maybe if you're on your own, but it's not precise and it's not exact.

Philip Pape:

It gets about 80% of the way there and then the rest of it is taking this advice that you're sharing here, talking to a coach, having a trainer, whatever it takes to make those adjustments as you learn. It's funny. You mentioned the GPS. Did you ever watch the Office, the US version of the Office?

Andy Baker:

Oh yeah.

Philip Pape:

Do you remember the episode where they follow the gps like almost right into the lake?

Andy Baker:

yeah, dwight, dwight, drives the car right into the lake, or or steve carell does whichever one, but yeah, they're, they're driving it and it's like, well, there's a lake here and it's like, well, the the roadmap said to go into it and it's like, so they just drive into the lake and a lot of people do that with their own training and it's like, you know, you have just, I think that's a big problem with I don't know, there's something about the online world, that very high level, you know, competitive athlete, you know at the world level.

Andy Baker:

But you know God, I've been working with her very, very intimately for like six years. So, like with her, I, yeah, I can pretty much, I think you know pretty much down to the, to the set or pretty, you know, pretty damn close, you know get really close to what's optimal. But that has that has come from a long relationship of programming um for her and uh, and now you know she's been doing it long enough where you know her feedback now to me. I listen to it a lot more than I would have like in year one, you know. So when she's saying this is too much or this is not enough, you know, at the beginning as a coach, when you're working with people, you know, for a guy that's only been trained in a few months, you're like, okay, I'll kind of make a note of that, but sure I'll say I'm your coach and I know better, so let's right yeah, yeah, you don't blow it off, but a lot of this stuff you've they.

Andy Baker:

Just they don't know enough to to make a lot of these models. But the the longer somebody has trained, the coach becomes much more of an advisor than you know and you kind of give them stuff. But I give them much more agency to make their own. You know, it's kind of like a football coach does with a really experienced quarterback with Tom Brady. You know the coach is not going to script out every play for him. He's going to give him a lot of agency to go out there and call audibles, you know, or call his own play, call, you know, call a pass. Call a pass when, when a run was called because that's what the defense showed. You know that type of thing where you may not do that with a rookie quarterback because they're going to make a lot of mistakes. So there's a lot of analogies in this from sports that apply.

Philip Pape:

Oh, phil Jackson and his team. Same thing. Hey, speaking of your program, so you talked this whole idea of templates versus customizing. I guess one of the things I like about your KSC power building program is it's not really a template, it is very flexible. It's like here's a bunch of things you could do on Monday, here are a bunch of things you could do Tuesday. Follow this framework, but then you get to choose, which some people may find frustrating because, like, oh, this guy's telling me that I have to now figure it out, but I like that. I mean, what is your favorite program of all the ones you've ever written?

Andy Baker:

I actually liked that one a lot. That probably is my favorite, just because I've used it a lot personally. Probably my strongest that I've ever been was probably when I was consistently following that 852 programming for the main lifts and for the reasons that you just kind of laid out. I like that program because it provides there is a pretty good amount of structure on how to do the main lifts. So it keeps you from.

Andy Baker:

I don't like a program where you just walk into the gym and you're just guessing. You know you don't want to leave it to the client to just guess. You know whatever feels good today. So it provides some structure. But it also gives you a framework to do if you know your ability is just not on point that day. You know Um, and so a good program provides that of kind of what do you, what do you do if you get out there and, um, you know you're supposed to do X but you can't that day. Like you know. It kind of gives you. It kind of gives you some direction on where to go and how to, how to, uh, how to handle that um when progress starts to slow down, um. So it gives you a little bit of rigidity and some structure on the main lifts but then on the margins it gives a lot of flexibility to one choose exercises that you prefer or that fit your equipment situation.

Andy Baker:

That's one of the biggest things like doing hypertrophy-based programming is what equipment do people have? Right, because there's so many machines to get carried away with variety. You know here's, here's a couple of accessory movements for your chest. You know you need maybe need one or two, but you don't need 10, you know type of thing, and so that's cause. That's. That's an area where people with too much variety will get carried away and they'll lose. They'll lose focus on the big picture stuff and focus too much on the smaller type of things. But so I like programs like that that are that have some rigidity but also have some flexibility and some, you know, on the on the margins.

Philip Pape:

It kind of reminds me of flexible dieting on the nutrition side, where you know you got your calories and macros but you go ahead and pick the food you know. It's similar thing You've got your eight, five, two structure and you've got your days, but pick the uh, pick the movements. Um so uh, after um working in in this field for, I guess, at least two decades now, I had a couple of questions I wanted to pick your mind about. One is is there anything that you've completely changed your mind on? Um, that used to feel strongly about? And then the other is is there anything new that you're experimenting with that maybe we haven't heard much about from you?

Andy Baker:

Um, I you know I don't. It's hard to say if there's anything that I wholesale used to believe that I just don't believe anymore. I mean, definitely, maybe the way that I do some stuff is well for sure, the way that I do some things is different, I think fundamentally. Fundamentally, I more or less believe, and I think you know that's the thing when you work with real people in the gym, I think you you kind of see what works and if it, if it worked 10 years ago, it's still going to work now. It's not like, well, this is old, so it doesn't, it doesn't work anymore. No, if it worked.

Andy Baker:

I mean, humans haven't evolved that much in 10 or 20 years. So I mean I think you get better at just maybe being more efficient. You know, with what you're trying to do, but more or less the stuff that worked, you know the stuff that worked 10 or 20 years ago works now. You know, I think a lot of people too they look at what you're, they look. You know, as a coach, you you have to kind of come up with your own system that you that you follow, and you have to get really good at working within a system or a couple of systems and you can't try everything or do everything. So it's like if somebody will be like well, baker does this, so he obviously thinks that this other thing doesn't work, and it's like that's not, that's not exclusive.

Andy Baker:

I just don't use it. It's if people do that with nutrition I heard Mike Israel the other day on an Instagram post or something and he was right about this It'd be like people see him, he's like eating an orange and they're like, well, why aren't you eating an apple? It's like it's like, well, I'm just eating an orange, like it's not. It's not that I don't like apples, I'm just eating an orange and it's kind of like that way with't work, I just that's just not what I do and I don't, I wouldn't know how to use it as well as some other coach uses it. So I don't, I don't do it, but I've, you know, I've always borrowed from a lot of different systems, so I don't have like one thing that I do necessarily.

Andy Baker:

My system is a conglomeration of a lot of different stuff, you know. So I beg, steal and borrow and then I assemble it kind of into my own thing, which I think is what most coaches wind up doing. But that's, and then I think, where I'm pretty good at, I think, my strength as a coach, it's being able to take, you know, an approach that I, that I know how to use and applying it to the right person. Right, you know, individualizing it, yep, Right, I know, I know how to use the conjugate system with people, let's say, for instance, and I like the conjugate system, but I don't universally apply the conjugate system to every single client that I train, because it's not it's not appropriate for every single client that I train, but it's very appropriate for other people, and so I try to match the programming structure, the programming style, to the person that I'm working with, not only with their goals and their experience level and their abilities, but even just their individual preferences.

Andy Baker:

You know, some people like a lot of variety and they want to learn new things, they want to be constantly challenged and for them, like a conjugate approach is really really good and a conjugate system for the people that I mean, it's very deep but it's a lot of variety and different exercises and that sort of thing, and so that type of system.

Andy Baker:

Go listen to your multi-part podcast episode on it, which is great I'm not going to break the whole thing down here because that's another hour but that system will work well for a lot of people that want to do it that way. But for a guy that doesn't like to train that way, that wants, he wants to peel everything back except for just the bare minimum basic stuff, he wants, you know, a minimum number of exercises. He likes the repetition of doing the same stuff over and over and over again. Then I might use more of a heavy light, medium structure with that person, and and again it may come down to something. You know, a guy may want to do a con. He may contact me and say hey, I'm really interested in this conjugate method, you know, but his, his equipment selection is a rack and a barbell and I'm like it may not work that well for you man, like it's yeah, I mean you, you can, but you're kind of trying to force a round peg into a square hole with that.

Philip Pape:

You can't rotate through enough variance. Yeah, that's right.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, you kind of need more stuff to do that, and so sometimes it's better to just go with what you have and do the best with what you have, because if you don't enjoy I'm a big believer if you don't enjoy your training, you're not going to. I'm a big believer If you don't enjoy your training, you're not going to. So if you're following a system of training that doesn't match up well with your preferences, you're probably not going to be as consistent with it. And consistency is key, and one of the keys to consistency is to actually I mean, all of us have days where we don't want to train and we don't want to go in there and do it, but you have to be following something that excites you at least to some degree, and so, as a coach, I try to match that up as best as I can.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, and that right there is huge. That's a big part of why I recommend you all the time to people, because there is so much variety to choose from and you'll find something that works for you. And then even in the barbell club, it's just the tracks that come out and the variety week to week are great. So last couple of things, have you got time for a couple more questions?

Andy Baker:

I got plenty of time, all right.

Philip Pape:

So you're always open to things, because I noticed in the bodybuilding track you're big into the rest, pause sets and density sets and you recommend all these different things which I think are fascinating the dog crap training and stuff like that. What have you been experimenting with or trying to work through now that maybe we haven't heard of? Or, if not, is there something that you're personally working on that you're just trying to improve?

Andy Baker:

For the last several years I've gone back to where I started, which was I started, like a lot of guys did, as late teens, early 20s, with the bodybuilding style approach, with the body part split. But looking back, I didn't have enough good information and so I was doing a lot of things wrong that I still made progress because I was very I trained hard, I was very consistent. I always I understood the importance of nutrition early on. So I got, I got good results with that type of training, you know, early on. Plus I was, you know, 19, 20, 21. So you're going to, if you're doing, if you're eating well and you're training hard, um, you're still going to get pretty good results at that age. Um, and so you know I um.

Andy Baker:

But looking back, you know there was a lot of things I would have done differently had I had the information that I have now. So several years ago I kind of went back to that bodybuilding style approach that I used when I was younger and I thought, okay, with the information that I have now, could I do this better and make it work? And so I did that for a number of years before I started offering that track out to my clients of how do I make this kind of body part split type stuff work. You know that track out to my clients of you know, how do I make this kind of body part split type stuff work? Because now I understand a little bit better of why I'd be doing something that I'm doing instead of just doing what I felt like, which is kind of how I did it back then. And so, yeah, I think the the bodybuilding style of training, applying the principles of progressive overload and that sort of thing to that style of training as it, there would have been a time where I would have said that you know that maybe that style of training didn't work, cause you've heard that before, like body parts splits only work for advanced athlete or, you know, enhanced athletes. So, and that's really not true, you know that if you're on gear, you're anabolics. Any type of training that you do is going to be better than if you're not. But the physique parabolics, any type of training that you do is going to be better than if you're not, but the physiology is still basically the same. And so you know, and that was a big thing for a long time they said, well, body part splits don't work for, you know, natural guys, natural guys need to do full body or upper lower or that type of stuff, and that's not necessarily true. You just need to make sure that certain principles are in place, like progressive overload, and I think that's one of the reasons I'm so drawn to Dante Trudell's work and kind of his dog crap system.

Andy Baker:

And again, I think is where a lot of guys, young guys especially that train in that vein, where they go in there and they have an arm day, let's say, and they do a lot of volume, a lot of sets and reps on their arms and all that kind of stuff and they still don't see any progress, any growth. And a lot of that is is because, like I was when I was at ages, I really wasn't thinking about progressive overload. I was thinking about, well, how can I go in and just destroy my arms? You know how. You know you're just trying for what's the most massive pump I can get, how sore can I get, how fatigued can I get? You know it's not a good workout unless that body part that you're training is just destroyed. You know, and that was kind of what a lot of the bodybuilding magazines and stuff back in the day preached, which you have to just absolutely destroy a muscle, as, as opposed to now, my thinking is more, you know you have to take, you have to find certain exercises that work really well for that, you know, for that muscle group, and then you have to apply the principles of basic progressive overload to those exercises.

Andy Baker:

And we think a lot on a, about progressive overload on squats and deadlifts and that sort of thing, but we don't necessarily think about it on our cable tricep press downs or our barbell curls, those types of movements. People just go in there and they just knock out three or four sets of 10 reps and then wonder why they're not growing. Well, it's like if you're, if you're doing a cable tricep press down for 10 reps with 100 pounds, you know in a few months you need to be doing 10 reps with 150 pounds. And if you're not thinking that way on even those small exercises, you're not going to see the type of muscular growth that you would if you were, you know, applying those principles of overload. And so it's the same thing. I mean people recognize that on their squats. You know, if you want your legs to grow, you need to take your 225 squat and turn it into a 315 squat you know, 225 for five, needs to become 275 for five, needs to become 315 for five, needs to go, needs to turn into 405 for five.

Andy Baker:

I mean, that's really that's where growth, muscular growth, occurs on those lifts. But it applies to every other lift. If you're trying to get your chest to grow and you're doing a dumbbell bench press, like if you're doing the sixties for a set of 10 today, well, in a few months you need to be doing the eighties for a set of 10. Exactly.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, you know so.

Andy Baker:

So those principles that we apply to the barbell lifts apply to every other lift that we're going to be doing, you know when you're trying to do that bodybuilding style approach. So I went back and kind of retraced my steps of kind of training the way that I used to train but applying some of this stuff, some of these more scientific principles to that training and seeing if I can make it work, and even getting away from the barbell stuff entirely, just to see if I could elicit an adaptive response without them. You know, and you can. It's not great for strength, you know, your low bar 1RM is not going to go up if you don't train your low bar one RM, but you can still. You know I wanted to see can I actually grow doing a lot more machine-based and dumbbell-based training and that sort of thing? Because I knew I could with the barbells. I wanted to see if I could make it work, you know, kind of with the bodybuilding type system, a more physique level approach, and it does, it does work and it does, it does work.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, and you have some really nice features in that program. From what I can recall, it's been about a year since I ran it, but it had the top set back off, set approach right In the bodybuilding track and you'd go through a certain progression for six, eight, 12 weeks. What is it now in the program? Before you start to switch it up? Something like six weeks, right.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, I'll do like basically like six weeks, and then I'll deload people and again, you know, is that optimal for everybody? You know? The idea is, though, is that if you know that we're going to kind of load for six weeks and then deload and then kind of reshuffle some of the movements, then you're trying to kind of maximize, yeah you're trying to push.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, it's a psychological thing, for sure.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, you're going to try to push that. You know your bench press in the four to eight rep range. You know you're going to push that hard for six weeks and then you know we may not. The bench press may just go from the first exercise to the second exercise and be in the eight to 12 range instead of the four to eight range, but you're still trying to apply those principles of progressive overload now just within a different rep range and in a different order, principles of progressive overload now just within a different rep range and in a different order, and so all that type of stuff. I've kind of figured out a way to long-term kind of make it work.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, and it's a lot of fun and you're still hitting plenty of compound lifts in there in a variety of rep ranges. Like you said, it's not always the big three, which can be refreshing, actually, when you're kind of getting tired of doing the same lifts over and over, and then it's also. I also read it during a cut and you had suggested that as one of the higher priority programs, potentially because of the auto-regulation and the recovery. You said something in one of your articles you wrote stay out of the bulking, cutting purgatory. Pick a goal and get there. Bulking usually erases your abs and cutting usually erases your PRs. Just deal with it. Right. And I'm always having arguments with people about bulking and cutting, and myself too, and me and Tony, he's like stop cutting, man, you got to gain. And I'm like well, I don't want to gain 40 pounds and keep going up. I need at some point get a little bit leaner, and that's true.

Andy Baker:

I mean the bulking and cutting thing, not that it doesn't work, but I think what what happens is guys just hang out in the middle for too long. So they they're, they want to, you know, drop the body fat, but they don't do it long enough, you know, to really get lean. You know, because they're. Because what happens is you get a few weeks into that diet, um, you know, and your strength starts to go down a little bit, and so you have to have a system of training like. That's why I don't recommend, when guys are going on a cut, I don't recommend them following some sort of barbell based strength program that has them working up towards a peak, like working up towards a one rep max, because you're asking the stress to go up, up, up, up, up, up up, while your recovery and your recent, your nutritional resources are going down, down, down, down down, like that's a bad combo. So you have to figure out a way to train that allows you to still train hard, because you need to train hard in order to maintain the muscle mass. But your absolute strength, like your, your PR, one RMs on your lifts, are going to go down and I honestly wouldn't have guys even mess with that. You don't need to be taking out squat one RMs while you're on a cut because one they're going to go down to it can be dangerous If you're. If you're really dieting hard and you're depleted, you don't need to be going down and doing those types of lifts. So you need to be training hard but in a within a specified rep range. I do like to push the lifts close to failure, but not relative, it's relative. It's relative. You know it's within the five to eight rep range or the eight to 12 rep range, not in the one to three rep range and the when you get there that you find that the load on the bar I don't want to say it doesn't matter, it does matter. You want to try to maintain your strength as much as possible, but within those kinds of medium rep ranges, not not not your one RM maximal strength, because that is going to go down if you're on a prolonged cut. And so you just got to kind of get that out of your head and really stay focused on the goal, which is, if I'm trying to get lean, let's just get lean and then, once you level off and you start going back into gaining again, a lot of that strength is going to come back.

Andy Baker:

I do think that there's a lot of, there's a lot of utility and if you're kind of in that your, your body type is such, you've got some muscle and you're kind of strong, but you're kind of fat and you want, we'd like to be less fat, but you're still not, your strength is still not where you want it. And so people are like well, should I, should I just keep gaining weight, or should I, or should I lean out? Cause, and honestly, if you're in that zone, usually I tell people to do the lean out first, like get lean, and then, because that actually, if you get nice and lean, you're actually going to be more anabolic to start a bulk later, like that bulk is going to be more effective going forward, your body's actually going to. Your insulin sensitivity is going to be better when you're leaner, so you'll be able to eat more without putting on as much body fat when your insulin sensitivity has been fixed.

Philip Pape:

If you're, you have a level runway, yeah.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, if you're fat now and you start bulking, probably your insulin sensitivity is not good. And so if you start trying to go into a big caloric surplus why you're kind of fat now you're just going to get fatter. I mean, you still will probably get stronger, but you're going to then you're going to get to a point where you know, yay, my squat went up 50 pounds, but man, I'm fat and I don't want to be here. You know, and it's like so you're going to be, you're going to be in a better place to add that muscle if you start off a little bit leaner. So it can be better to cut first because, again, your insulin is one of the leading causes of having your is having low testosterone, um, and so I think all of those markers are going to be better and are going to enable you to have a better bulk if you get lean first. Um, you know, if you're, if you're already lean now, you don't need to get. You know you don't need to get down into single digit body fat necessarily.

Philip Pape:

Right Cause you could easily do that later, right Exactly.

Philip Pape:

You know, I've also seen the scenario where someone especially new lifters who've never lifted before, you know could get some of that body recomp right. They can stay at maintenance potentially if they if they're not excessively heavy and really need to lose that weight right now for health reasons maybe sit around a maintenance and enjoy some of that body recomp that the rest of us can't get. It get any more to that extent and then figure out where do you want to go? Because you might see, hey, the waist size has gone down, the muscle mass has gone up and I haven't lost any weight on the scale, but now I'm good to bulk. You know, it could go that way too.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, yeah, and I think cardio plays a role in that as well. Um, you know if you're, if and it's kind of it kind of depends on where you're at you know if you're very overweight. You know if you're carrying a lot of body fat, you're not happy with the way that you look and you feel you're probably more going to be, especially if you're older, you're probably going to be more on the. You need to get a little bit of a of a recomp just by cleaning things up. You know making not necessarily eating a lot more or a lot less, but just eating better making better food choices, um and just, and being more consistent with it, not having, um and this is something we all struggle with, you know not just being good on your diet, you know, Monday through.

Andy Baker:

Thursday. But you know, you know Friday, friday night, I mean a lot of people do really good on the weekend, I mean during during the week, and then on the weekend you know they drink too much, they eat bad. I mean I'm certainly guilty of this and then you know they kind of never really gain any traction because those couple of days over the weekend keep screwing them up. And I think cardio sometimes can help to kind of smooth out the edges of of a of a imperfect diet. It won't.

Andy Baker:

I don't like people to get in the mindset of I'm just going to eat whatever I want and then do cardio to try to undo it. But you know it kind of most people's diets are not perfect all the time and so adding a little bit of, you know just kind of moderate intensity, that zone two, cardio, or what do you want to talk about? You know two, three, four days a week for 20 to 40 minutes at a time, that that can help. It can help you to eat more Um and you'll be more um, you'll be more satisfied with your eating, you're less likely to binge because your your caloric intake is a little bit higher Um, and that can help as well.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, that's the thing. I actually just talked to Brandon to cruise, uh, about the high energy flux lifestyle, right, and he was talking about that as well, the idea that we want to eat more and move more. We don't want to eat more, we don't want to eat less, move more. We don't want to eat less, move less. You know, you want to have both kind of up there, because now you're fully, you're fully feeling a tank, you're feeling your lifts, you're feeling better. A lot of this is how you feel, how you recover, how you sleep, everything else.

Andy Baker:

It does and that's. And then the other thing with that, I just had a conversation with a client, I guess a day or two ago, and this is something if you work like like I do, and you probably do, you work with guys that are in like their 30s and 40s and 50s that can be a high stress time of life. I mean, that's where your career is really busy. You have young kids. A lot of times there's a lot of pressure on you, business-wise, financial-wise, marriage-wise, kids-wise, and so a lot of times when you're in that situation and you're, but you're wanting to, you know, lose some weight too, and guys are wondering well, should I diet or should I do cardio?

Andy Baker:

One of the things you got to remember when you're under, when you're in a situation where you're, where you're stressed, you're in a, you're in a high and it's not really going anywhere, right, your career is not going to get any easier. Your kids are still there for 10 more years. You know. You've still got job pressures and all that kind of stuff. That a very a diet, a very restrictive, low caloric diet, very low carb, very repetitive diet. You're less likely to stay with that when you're in a high stress environment. That's going to lead to a lot more binge eating and going off track.

Andy Baker:

And so I would rather a guy in that situation eat more, because that's going to satiate him better, it's probably going to lead him to less binging and overeating. And so feed him more but have him do some cardio on top of that in order to get in order to get towards that deficit and one you'll discourage kind of those cyclical patterns of binging and being restrictive. Binging and being restrictive and the cardio in and of itself is a good stress reliever. Yes, you know, there's, there's a lot of evidence that you know that that type of that type of work is good at reducing stress levels. And so that's the approach, because that's the debate people always have Should I diet harder and not do the cardio because it's potentially catabolic, or should I do cardio and eat more? Kind of our age and in our situations in life, is that something to think about? Is, feed yourself a little bit more but then do the cardio to kind of get yourself closer to the deficit?

Philip Pape:

Yeah, and even walking I mean, walk as much as you can is a great form of cardio. That's also low stress and people don't do enough of it. We're all sitting around desks and you might go to the gym and think that you're working hard and that's the only time you move. Then that that could be part of the issue right there. Um, all right, andy, I want to ask one more question, and I ask this of everyone. It's uh, what? What one question did you wish I had asked, and what is your answer?

Andy Baker:

Oh man, that's a tough one. Um, I I don't know when can I find out more about your stuff? I don't know. Oh, that was going to be my last question.

Philip Pape:

No, no, no, that's. That's the last question. Anyway, I know I went.

Andy Baker:

I went straight to it. I don't, I don't really know. I mean I've I've done so many of these podcasts. I've got a, I've got a lot of. I've been out there a lot. I've know about my opinion on stuff. It's, it's out there somewhere, you know, and so that's yeah, I don't, I don't know I don't really have a good answer for that. I'm sorry. I should have prepared better.

Philip Pape:

Okay, Then I'll throw it out for you. Is there any? Is there like any entertaining story or something for your?

Andy Baker:

career that I don't want, told you know from to my millions of listeners, andy, you know yeah, from you know, from my uh probably just you know, I think, a lot of people that um, they don't know a lot about. Like you know, some of the uh, I've got a pretty diverse background and um, where I've trained and how I've trained and who I've trained with and everything, and I think that's that's helped me become a better coach of just I spent. You know, I was of that age where I grew up in gyms before the internet and you know that was really helpful, I think, to where that was back in the days where when you went into a gym, people shared more. You know, people didn't have headphones on and it was more common, I think, for young, young guys like me, teenagers and stuff, to go up to the. The big guys in the gym, the big, strong guys and you know ask for advice or they would freely come over and give the advice. But you know, in a in a very helpful way, you know, and there's just so many of those, those stories of guys that I've met over the years I mean some of which you know, guys like Kurt Kowalski and stuff that people would know, and then other guys that were just in gyms that I've trained out over the years that you know. You know people don't have any idea who they are, and I don't I haven't kept up with them, I don't know where they are, but just all the, all the guys that have come up and said you know just one thing to you, just one exchange that you've had in a gym, um, with somebody that stuck with you, um, you know that helps you, um, you know, even if it's just a little tip of how to do an exercise versus you know a more fundamental way of thinking about.

Andy Baker:

You know how you train, and a lot of that, for me, was just observational. Just, you know watching, being in gyms around people, not not watching people, people, you know, not watching people's Instagram stories, but watching. You know being in a gym and watching how guys trained for years at a time. You know the, the, the guys that you would want to emulate, the big, strong lifters that you know watching. What did they not, what did they write about on social media? Cause it didn't exist, but what did they actually do day to day? You know, week to week, that made them have success, and you and you start to see certain patterns with that, you know, over time, and so I think that's something that people miss.

Andy Baker:

Miss now is that most people get their information from social media and there's so much conflicting information and one guy saying you know, oh, you should do this, and the other guy saying, no, you should do that. And I think people look for the differences in people's approaches rather rather than the commonalities. So that's one thing I've always tried to look at is you know, I know with whoever I'm going to, you know whatever source of information I'm going to go to to try to gain some knowledge from, I I know that I'm there's going to be a certain amount of things that they say that I disagree with or maybe don't understand or whatever. But I try not to focus on the things I disagree with. I try to focus on the things that where people agree and try to find the commonalities of what works between these different camps that you might see, between different lifters that have success in bodybuilding or powerlifting or whatever.

Andy Baker:

What are the commonalities that people do versus what are the things that they do different? Because, and I think what you learn is that there is no one magical approach that works for everybody. I mean, even if you look at elite level powerlifting, I mean, in a way, everybody's kind of doing the same thing, but they've all. If you go get the top 20 lifters in the world, they're on 20 different programs, right, they're not all just following one thing. And so I think the only thing that you can deduce from that is there's a lot of potential things at work and try to really drill down on what are the commonalities and then finding out, you know, on those different things, what are the things that would work for you and apply to you, you know, or apply to your clients, and so you know. That's kind of. That's just kind of always been my approach of just being an observationalist and trying to see the commonalities instead of the differences between people in different camps.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, and I could respect that. It's like this discerning open-mindedness you have. It's not that you know, it's not that everything goes, but there are principles, there are universal principles, and you recognize that and you're not dogmatic or rigid. Principles, and you recognize that and you're not dogmatic or rigid, and this is a great takeaway for folks is to just keep that in mind as they go through their journey, Because this is, at the end of the day, we want this to just be a fun part of our life that gets us to be healthy, fit, strong, and we want to enjoy it along the way, right For the decades that we do this Absolutely. So, all right. Now the question where can listeners find more about you and your work?

Andy Baker:

Just go to andybakercom. That's the hub. All my articles are there, products and services are there, and then the Baker Barbell Podcast, also, if you want to search that up.

Philip Pape:

Absolutely. I'll put those in the show notes as well. Baker Barbell Podcast and, of course, andybakercom. You're always putting out a ton of really cool articles. If you're on your email list, you get interesting musings every week about some cool stuff that I really don't hear anywhere else, so check those out. And man, andy, this was a pleasure. It was even better than I expected. I really want to thank you for coming on the show.

Andy Baker:

Yeah, thank you for having me. I enjoyed it. I'll be back anytime you want me.

Philip Pape:

Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Wits and Weights. If you found value in today's episode and know someone else who's looking to level up their wits or weights, please take a moment to share this episode with them and make sure to hit the follow button in your podcast platform right now to catch the next episode. Until then, stay strong.

Strength Training and Programming Principles
Evolution of Practical Strength Programming
Programming Principles and Adjustments
Strength Training for Diverse Clients
Training Frequency and Injury Prevention
Training and Recovery for Older Athletes
Structured Programs With Flexibility
Individualized Coaching Approaches and Systems
Bodybuilding Style Training and Progressive Overload
Diet, Cardio, Stress, and Training Advice

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