On this episode of the Flex Diet Podcast, I catch up with my good buddy Brian Grasso who just took up powerlifting at 49. We discuss all the lessons you can learn from lifting and how to translate them into your life and business.
This episode is brought to you by the Physiologic Flexibility Certification. If you’re looking for a way to be robust, resilient, and anti-fragile, while also looking for true longevity gains and advanced recovery, get on the wait list to be notified when the course opens in March 2023.
Listen to hear:
[3:59] Discipline as a skill
- [8:29] Don’t wait for motivation
- [17:02] Research vs. experience
- [20:33] Know what you’re willing to sacrifice
- [28:17] Over and under-estimating what you’re capable of
- [36:00] Recovery
- [41:31] Predictive performance
Connect with Brian:
Brian founded and served as CEO for one of the largest fitness and sport education organizations in the world from 2002 – 2011. While working as a Performance Coach for Olympic, Professional and National Team athletes, Brian toured as a guest lecturer through New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Canada and the United States.
Dr. Mike T Nelson
Dr. Mike T Nelson
PhD, MSME, CISSN, CSCS Carrick Institute Adjunct Professor Dr. Mike T. Nelson has spent 18 years of his life learning how the human body works, specifically focusing on how to properly condition it to burn fat and become stronger, more flexible, and healthier. He’s has a PhD in Exercise Physiology, a BA in Natural Science, and an MS in Biomechanics. He’s an adjunct professor and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. He’s been called in to share his techniques with top government agencies. The techniques he’s developed and the results Mike gets for his clients have been featured in international magazines, in scientific publications, and on websites across the globe.
- PhD in Exercise Physiology
- BA in Natural Science
- MS in Biomechanics
- Adjunct Professor in Human
- Performance for Carrick Institute for Functional Neurology
- Adjunct Professor and Member of American College of Sports Medicine
- Instructor at Broadview University
- Professional Nutritional
- Member of the American Society for Nutrition
- Professional Sports Nutrition
- Member of the International Society for Sports Nutrition
- Professional NSCA Member
[00:00:00] Dr Mike T Nelson: Welcome back to the Flex Diet Podcast, where we talk about all things to increase performance, add muscle, better body composition, all in a flexible approach, and without destroying your health in the process. I’m your host, Dr. Mike T. Nelson, and today on the program I’ve got my really good buddy, Dr.
Brian Grasso. You may have heard of Brian. I originally saw him present, oh man, almost going back probably two decades ago now, when he was part of the I Y C A in Arizona. Been a big fan of his ever since worked with him briefly on the mindset project for a couple of years, is a director of research there and just a wonderful.
And he has recently taken up the sport of powerlifting as of the age 49 right now. So he’s only about one year older than I am. And I wanted to get him on the podcast here one just to chat with him and see how he’s doing and have him share with you all the lessons you can learn from lifting and translate them into your life and your business.
So even though we use examples from powerlifting you don’t necessarily have to be a powerlifterto get a lot out of this conversation. Any type of exercise you do, even if you’re an endurance person, if we’ve got a handful of those people listening, which is great the same lessons can be transferred to your life and your business.
So it’s great to chtat about the positive transfer training and just get caught up with everything that Brian has going on. If you enjoyed this podcast and you wanna learn about how to increase your own recovery, be more resilient, even antifragile with true longevity gains with a Z, check out the Physiologic Flexibility certification.
It will open again in mid-March. So coming up here very soon, go to physiologicflexibility.com for all the details. And that’ll be the way to get on the wait list. That’ll be only open for a limited time this coming mid-March 2023, and won’t open again probably till late fall or so. So go to physiologicflexibility.com to check that out and enjoy our wonderful conversation here with Dr. Brian Grasso.
[00:02:39] Dr Mike T Nelson: I wanted to have you on and just talk about some of the lessons in life and business that you can learn from lifting.
Cause I, it seems like this would be an obvious topic like you would think. People who are very disciplined in the gym or disciplined in one particular area in your life, the assumption is that would carry over and transpire to other areas of their life. And what I found was, in some people that’s a hundred percent true.
And other people, like people I’ve coached, and you’ve probably seen this before, they’re lifting their nutrition. Everything that they’re doing focused on that. They were a hundred percent on bombs could go off in the rest of their life. They were still at the gym, they were still doing the work.
But then later you realize the rest of their life was just an absolute floating Trashcan fire because they couldn’t figure out like that the discipline that they had to do this one thing was a skill that transfers to other aspects of their life. Yeah. And once they figured that out, they’re like, Oh my gosh.
Like I already have this skill. It was just, like EB talks about like domain dominance. It was just only in this one little area. . It never occurred to me to transfer some of these other skills to different areas.
[00:03:50] Dr Brian Grasso: Yeah. You said a lot there. That was so good. I think more. First of all, there’s an axiom that the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.
[00:03:57] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah. I don’t find that to be true though. , I find that
[00:03:59] Dr Brian Grasso: completely faulty. Yeah. Cause there, there are certain aspects of my life that I do a really good job in, and there’s others that are a dumpster fire. So I don’t, I’ve never found that axiom to be even remotely accurate. But one of the things you said that I wholly agree with you framed discipline as a skill, and I don’t think most people see it as a skill.
I think they believe it’s inborn. , it’s somehow intrinsic. I don’t believe it is in the least, at least it hasn’t played that way out in my life or my experiences with my own clients. I think discipline is a skill that can be refined and progressed over time. And what I, one of the biggest lessons for me that I’ve taken from power lifting into other aspects of my life is the I always qualified as layered, layered discipline.
For example when I look at all the things that I need to do or perhaps want to do in a given day or week that are very metric oriented for me as a powerlifter, when I first started my journey in powerlifting, I had to learn that biting ’em off all at once was not gonna be effective for me.
So I would select. The highest priorities for week one and, for example I’ll be slightly arbitrary, but at the same time, not really. I learned early on how much 10 to 12,000 steps a day mattered as a powerlifter. I didn’t know that going in. I’m almost 50 years old.
I’m very late to the powerlifting game, so I, as much as I worked in strength and conditioning, 25 odd years. I was a neophyte amateur as a competitive athlete in the sport of power lifting. So steps became obvious to me as a necessity. And I found myself fight fighting it for the first numbers of weeks.
So what I realized was that I was trying to get steps. Hydration, macros, mobility. I was trying to lump it all in at one time.
[00:05:45] Dr Mike T Nelson: And you had a business in a life too. It wasn’t like this was your only thing. . Yeah. Wife, two kids,
[00:05:49] Dr Brian Grasso: couple dogs, not gonna . So the layers of discipline for me were I chose the highest yielding tasks to start off, which for me ended up being mobility and steps.
And I put them on them into my routine. And I left them there exclusively for as many as three weeks until they became very habitual. And then I felt I could add another layer of discipline, and I did. And and now it is, it became a very success-oriented way of being the power lifter I wanted to be.
Mobility steps, hydration, macros, they’re all just habitual now. But it all started by me recognizing discipline as a layer. As a skill and layering things in over.
[00:06:27] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah, I love that. I always think of some of the work I do for my own clients and I work part-time now with some of the guys at rapid Health, so Andy Galpin and Dan Gardner and the Marvel Shrug guys, and we’re both kinda on the same page.
And when I came in, their system was already set up to. Look at all these different things, and so I’m handling the helping with the visible stressor side, but it was very much of the same mindset of, okay, what’s the main leverage? Like, where can I start that’s gonna move the ball forward?
This doesn’t mean it’s the only thing they’re gonna do. Obviously there’s multiple points, but I think of Like sleep is a big, sexy topic now. Yeah. And if you go, there’s lots of physiologic reasons people need more sleep. 100%. Yeah. But if you try to talk to clients day one with very little buy-in about, bro, just go to bed two hours earlier and it’ll solve all your issues.
Like , it’s not quite that simple from an implementation standpoint, especially when you’re having their nutrition and you’re having all these other things on top of it. So same way to your layered approach, I think. What things have the most leverage from the physiologic response and the client’s ability to actually execute them.
Yeah. And then start there. So like you said, walking. Okay, walking for most people. Does it take time? Does it take a little planning? Yes. But you just put your shoes on and walk out the door. Like you don’t need to warm up. You don’t need to take your pre-workout. You don’t need to. There’s not a lot of other stuff you need to do beforehand. And again, a lot of leverage with just general movement too, which, so I really like that because I think a lot of people get hyper motivated and I get kind of red flags go off in my head when you have a new client who’s just tell me everything to do and I’ll execute all of it at a hundred percent.
You’re like no. Let’s start here.
[00:08:06] Dr Brian Grasso: Yes, you think you will, but no, you won’t.
[00:08:09] Dr Mike T Nelson: I appreciate the attitude. Yeah, and it’s love the motivation, but I also know. That it’s temporary. You, there’s no skill beneath that high level motivation.
[00:08:19] Dr Brian Grasso: Yeah. And I see you keep coming back to skill, which I love because, I’ll take discipline over motivation any day.
Yes. And yet you have to look at discipline as a skill. There’s no question about it. I love you keep coming back that direction and, you said something a couple seconds ago that I, for me, in my brain, it lends to the conversation cuz sleep is such a hot topic and I.
Look I know what I know, I’m good at what I’m good at, and I have a general thirst to learn more. But I also hedge my bets on, there’s really smart people who know a lot more than I do, and I can read the next 75 books on the topic and they’ll still know more than me. So how about I just pay them for their time and their expertise?
Yeah. So I, I’ve chosen not to become sleep guru by any stretch, but instead, inquire with sleep coaches. That I trust and respect as people. And it’s a funny thing. I’ve had two, two sleep coaches. One I didn’t see eye to eye with, and it wasn’t volcanic by any stretch.
It’s just the second, he just worked so much better for me. And that’s because he allowed for the, he allowed for the conversation of subject. Which I think is a really important part of success in anything, be it business or sport. And it’s certainly a lesson I’ve learned in the weight room that I’ve applied to the other parts of my life.
I can’t tell you conclusively that mobility was the most important thing when I started learning the skill of discipline, but it felt like it was and that matters a lot. And the reason bring up sleep is that I think it can be a controversial topic. The first sleep coach I had, he used to give mandates.
This is, this is how much sleep you need at night. And this is how we should go about getting that sleep. Now I’ve known myself for all of my 49 years, and what I can tell you is from the time I was very young until present day, I don’t sleep through the night particularly. Now that doesn’t mean I’m a bad sleeper.
It just means eight hours in, in a bed. Just doesn’t, I don’t know something about it that just doesn’t work in my head or I don’t know what it is. But the more he press. Seven to eight hours of sleep and, take these supplements if you’re waking up and do this if you’re not feeling rested.
The more I found myself resisting. And then the second sleep coach, he allowed me to test. , literally. And he used heart rate variability. . And he u I don’t know if if in, I’m always open to you disagreeing. I just do what I’m told with my coaches, but he used rested fasted blood glucose as indicators and what he found over time is that apparently I function better if I.
If I’m getting five hours of sleep at night, but an hour to a 90 minute nap window in the early afternoon the next day, apparently I respond to that incredibly well. Now, I don’t know if that matches the physiology of what sleep science shows, but here’s what I can tell you subjectively, I feel really good.
And so I think subjectivity matters a great deal. I think more athletes, more entrepreneurs should should follow the hard and fast rule of metrics where it applies. But subjectivity is also an important, and you, matter of fact, Mike you’re one of the first people who ever taught me that.
remember you saying to me so many times that too many scientists underestimate the value of case study as legit. Oh yeah. Legitimate data. How you feel should matter, should matter in the equation somewhere.
[00:11:27] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah. And that’s hard too, because. The little phrase I like is, research points the direction, but research gives you the answer.
That’s great because as a coach, like you’re tasked with this dualism of hopefully understanding the research and knowing the better direction to go in, but then also realizing that’s all based on averages and statistics, and you’re sitting there with an N of one in front of you. So how do you deal with that?
Like, how do you meld the research to get you in the right direction so you’re not out? Left field doing God knows what crazy ass biohack, they’re the latest of the week is right to understanding, like you said. Okay, let’s run the experiment. Okay. Oh, you sleep better in the afternoon. You have a shorter rest at night, but all your metrics are good.
H R V, blood, glucose, whatever metrics you want to use, obviously performance. , if all your numbers are good, who am I to say, yeah, that’s bad. You know what I mean? It’s like everything on the system says it’s okay. Yeah. And you might be just a different outlier, and that’s okay too. There’s nothing
[00:12:25] Dr Brian Grasso: wrong with that.
Yeah. It’s funny you say that because it’s always been my standard challenge with, not all by any stretch, but some of Western medical research is that it’s done disproportionately on ill people. Of course it is. It is certainly not representation, it doesn’t represent me necessarily
So I’ve always had a challenge when it becomes very declarative that this is the prescription for X or Y. When I know factually that a lot of your research was done on people who are not my age demographic, nor my health level whatsoever. So I You said something in there that made me think of that.
[00:13:02] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah, and that’s one of the biggest mistakes I see from. Some educated people, the people who are, attempting to read research, which is great, is not stating the population that it was done. Yeah. Just because keto diet worked best for this pathology doesn’t mean all you people without that pathology need to do a keto diet.
And I’m just picking that as an example. Sure. But a lot of times we forget the context of, it’s a, old hairy, one-eyed ferret study and people are now like, oh bro, you gotta go do this thing. It’s ah, that’s. It’s okay if you state the context and that we have no other prior data and here’s my speculation.
Yeah, I’m all right with that. But a lot of people have these Logical asthmatic leaps of just, oh, it must be good for you. Now it’s dunno, ,
[00:13:47] Dr Brian Grasso: It’s, so who’s that? Is it Neil Tyson? Thera? Is that his name? Not scientist. Neil Tyson. Could be astrophysics guy. Yeah. He, yeah. Yeah. It’s, so look, this is as contentious a topic as there, there is an existence right now, but I’m not, Speaking about it from a am I allowed to say the word even?
Am I allowed to say the pandemic’s, the word of, COVID? Am I allowed to say that? Is that Oh yeah. . It’s I saw him in an interview just a couple days ago, as a matter of fact, and I guess the person who was interviewing him made a point that the vaccination stuff had only been researched for a number, nine months.
When in reality most vaccines are researched for, a decade or longer to understand cause and effect, correlation, side effects, et cetera. And the astrophysics guy whose name’s escaping right now, he defended it. He defended the research completely. By saying it doesn’t matter how long you test something for it, it matters on the number of people you tested on.
And in my, and again, this has got nothing to do with vaccines or co I couldn’t care less, but in my head I was like, I think you’re missing an X factor of, but who did you test? That, that really matters a great deal. A lot. As a matter of fact I wanna know, there was a cross section of a lot of ages, a lot of genders, and a lot of ethnicities and everything else.
The fact he missed that, I was like sometimes educated people don’t necessarily understand the research either. .
[00:15:10] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah. And I think it’s my guess is it’s different when you’re doing research on things that are not humans. If you’re looking at particles, you’re looking at other things, there’s some more definitive things.
You can narrow, I think, some of the variability, or at least you have a better understanding of the variability. Sure. But humans have always just fascinated me how. Why the variability is on both ends of the spectrum. It’s like in physiology, the fact that, you could probably live on Poptarts for a good couple decades and Yeah.
Would you be healthy? No. Is there gonna be a consequence to that? Absolutely. Yeah. But you’re not just gonna drop dead probably within a few months. The fact that you could be sustained on this crazy food is couldn’t put sugar in the gas tank in my car and get around the block. Yeah, but on the other end of the spectrum, If you look at high level athletics, like the amount of things you would need to do to get that extra, 0.001%, there’s a lot of other things that, that add up to that. And you’ve got this massive amount of variability within the system that we’re always trying to wrap our heads around.
. And for, even for lifting performance, like you’re always going to be. Limited by just limited data. Cuz performance research, there’s just not a lot of money in doing that research. It’s getting better. Yeah. So some people are always arguing that, oh we could use more data.
And I’m like, yeah, we could always use more data. That’s well done, right? Yeah. But at some point you have to make a decision based on the data in front of you, of what is the action that you’re going to take. Sure. And. Even like the simple thing of consensus, people are like, oh we’re waiting for a consensus in the literature.
It’s okay. What’s, how many studies do you need? How well do the studies have to be done? Like these things, what population? And at the end of the day, everybody’s left with, I feel okay about this amount of data versus that amount of data. And there’s no hard, cutoff per se
[00:17:02] Dr Brian Grasso: either.
So that’s a great point. And it’s funny as this conversation’s going on, I’m recognizing that these idiosyncratic things you’re saying, and I often don’t know what they are, but they’re tripping me into. Another thought. Yeah. What you just said there, that got me thinking about success in the weight room.
What has it taught me for other aspects of my life? This was actually a big one, and somehow it’s, it was jogged by something you said. Oh, I remember what it was you talked about Elite athletes, like high performing athletes. Having worked with high performing athletes as a, performance coach for many years, I knew this intellectually at the time.
It’s not until I became a high performing athlete later in life that I. Experienced it firsthand. And, but when I did, it was very, it was a wonderful experience and it allowed me to look at other parts of my life. And here’s basically the lesson. There are far too many people who are content to ask the question of themselves, what’s my goal?
And that becomes the only question. I contend there should be a second question, which is what are you prepared to sacrifice in order to achieve that goal? , and I say that because at least the high ath, the high end athletes I dealt with, there’s a general consensus in society that high-end athletes are incredibly healthy people.
I’m here to tell you they’re not . They’re not at all, not usually, no. There’s a great deal of sacrifice that goes into that level of performance, and oftentimes the sacrifice is health related in some capacity. So it, it wasn’t just, I became a power lifter at Lofty goals, but I had to have conversations with myself of what I was prepared to s.
In order to achieve what was I wanted I’ve carried that lesson through in business and it really has transformed a great deal. I’ve been blessed. I’ve always been successful in business, but I’ve seen that success grow much more effortlessly ever since I started asking myself the question, okay, this is what you claim you want, but what are you prepared to sacrifice in order to.
That’s a great lesson I learned from the weight room that has drawn a straight line to other aspects of my life. I’ve really enjoyed asking myself that question in in different parlors of my world.
[00:19:05] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah, and I think it’s as simple as you have a new client or yourself, what is the cost?
What cost are you willing to pay? And this could be everything from a one to 10 scale and how much joint pain you wanna walk around with to Your health to your time to, risk versus reward. And I think those are good conversations to sit down and think about. Like for myself, my number one goal is more lifting is related to kiteboarding in terms of an overarching goal.
Yeah. And I’m already assumed that at some point I prob there’s a high chance I probably will be. I’m gonna do everything possible to you to reduce the risk, you’re trying to jump 20, 30 feet in the air, something goes wrong, you get dropped outta the sky, like a stack of potatoes.
Things go wrong. But I’m okay with that risk. I’m gonna do everything I can to hopefully, mitigate it. . But to me, when I walk in the gym, that risk is different. Like for me, because a gym is more of a controlled environment. It’s not my absolute number one priority. I’m very low tolerant of injury, risk, pain, that type of thing.
Yeah. Where other people may not be, I’ve worked with some very high level athletes who literally told me if I win the Olympics or this high level thing in the next four years, I don’t care much about how I feel after. Yeah. I’m like, oh yeah, okay. As long as you’ve actually sat down and put a lot of time and effort into it, it’s not just a knee jerk response then.
That’s your parameters, right? That’s your constraint of your system. And everyone’s gonna be a little bit different within that spectrum too.
[00:20:33] Dr Brian Grasso: I agree. And that’s what makes it I think it’s such a beautiful exercise, is that there is no there is no party line. There is no right or wrong answer.
You have to understand yourself well and know what you’re prepared to sacrifice. But, I like the fact you use the word cost. That’s probably a better phraseology for it. There’s a cost to everyth. , there’s a cost to, to health as much as there is a cost to over performance in sports.
Are you aware of the costs and what is your litmus test for how far those costs can go? Just like you, I remember distinctly having a conversation with a Canadian velodrome athlete who was preparing for the, I believe it was a 2000 Olympic. And I was doing a lot of work with her in her mental performance, and we had this conversation one time and I asked her, she was advanced age as a matter of fact I still think she’s the oldest velodrome medalist ever.
Wow. Won. Wow. Yeah. She won gold, but she was, I believe she was 40 when she won gold. She, oh,
[00:21:26] Dr Mike T Nelson: She’s gold for that sport. ,
[00:21:28] Dr Brian Grasso: right? Yeah. And so we had a conversation one time about the rest of her life. And she said to me, what you said you’ve had conversations with athletes about, she said that I will make what the rest of my life is.
I’ll make do with what it is to win this gold medal. And I said, listen, if you understand the cost, then great. That’s nothing wrong with that. You’re making a choice. You’re grown ass adult. So good on you.
[00:21:53] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah. In terms of a. Sports context. I had the same decision when I was finishing my PhD, which I won’t spend much time talking about it cause nothing really went right.
And it took seven years, but sure. About three and a half years into the process, I had completed my oral exams and you’ve gone through PhD process, so you know it’s not the most fun thing in the world. . And I remember coming home, talking to my wife at the time and being like, okay, this is something I really wanna do.
Okay, are you okay? If I don’t even finish at this institution, can I go somewhere else and fly back home on weekends? And in terms of health parameters, my health was just a, was a disaster because it’s super high. Stress wasn’t sleeping enough. There’s only so much you can do to mitigate that when that goes on.
For years, I remember getting my blood work looking at my testosterone’s two 20, and I told my doc, I. Okay, here’s what I’m doing. You probably think this is a really stupid idea, but my cutoff is as long as my blood lip is and other stuff. Don’t get so crazy that I’m at a high acute risk and I don’t wanna do any permanent damage to myself.
Yeah, I’ll come in, I’ll do all the metrics. If I get to that state, then please tell me. I’ll have a conversation about what I wanna do different. But until that point, I’m okay with, pretty shitty looking numbers, knowing that there hopefully won’t be a chronic effect once I’m done.
Yeah. Now, for other people, that may be completely unacceptable. But again, that was my decision because I’m like, okay, this is what I wanna do. The cost is higher than what I want to pay, but here’s my cutoff. Here’s my line in the sand. Once it crosses this area, then I have to radically rethink what I’m
[00:23:31] Dr Brian Grasso: gonna do.
That’s great. That’s the point of the lesson for me, is to know what your thresholds are and and not be immune or blind to the fact that there is gonna be cost. Oh yeah, you wanna achieve, and that’s I find that, I know the reigning statistic is somewhere in the ballpark of 92% of people in North America who set goals never achieve them.
And I ly believe it’s because they never have the conversation with themselves of understanding the cost metrics to that goal. And therefore they’re caught completely dumbfounded when the costs start to accrue. And so they simply dis. From the journey completely. And I think if more people had that conversation with themselves and they were eyes wide open about it all, like you’ve just explained there I think you’d find a fascinating tip of the scales.
I don’t think it’s the only factor as to why people don’t achieve their goals, but I think it’s a bigger one than most people realize. And I know it’s a, lemme just add this qualification cuz you mentioned I’ve gone through a PhD program. Yeah, but you gotta remember Michael, I went to a theological.
Philosophical process. That’s a religiously accredited school. So I didn’t go through the rigors that you went
[00:24:33] Dr Mike T Nelson: through . It’s anyone who does a PhD process. It’s not a, not an easy free pass for anyone.
[00:24:38] Dr Brian Grasso: , it wasn’t easy, but I definitely didn’t, I didn’t I remember very well. You go, because you and I were great friends when you were yeah.
I still remember the picture of you and Jody hugging after you passed your or oral dissertation.
[00:24:49] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. Your defense.
[00:24:50] Dr Brian Grasso: Yeah. So that’s how long I’ve known you, and I’m like, oh man. Thank goodness that’s open for
[00:24:54] Dr Mike T Nelson: him. . Yeah. It’s oof. And even now when I have some high stress periods, I’m like, huh.
I’m not doing my PhD anymore.
[00:25:02] Dr Brian Grasso: Could be worse. could be worse. Could be worse. And it’s funny you just, you said that, and that jogged me on something as well. Just another lesson. I, there’s this, I don’t know who said it and sometimes I wonder if I said it, but I’ve heard it.
Lemme say that. I think people tend to overestimate what they’re capable of accomplishing in a short period of. And yet at the same time, they underestimate what’s possible if they were just to play the long game. Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah. So for me the equation I always use is simplicity plus consistency.
Power lifting thing has been great for me. You’re obviously very familiar with the sport. I wasn’t when I started. The sport is a squat bench, and. And you do a lot of that, and of course there’s accessories and auxiliaries, and of course there’s there’s other mechanisms necessary to to make certain neural patterns stronger, certain muscle groups stronger to support those three lifts.
But the simplicity of powerlifting is one of the reasons I love it so much. It’s I, when I look at CrossFit and I look. High rocks. I’m, my God, that is so much
[00:26:04] Dr Mike T Nelson: complexity. .
[00:26:05] Dr Brian Grasso: It looks miserable. . It does. It looks miserable. I, today’s Thursday’s deadlift day, I know what day it is. I know what I’m doing.
Of course there’ll be some auxiliary things, but I know my Thursdays are largely gonna comprise. Varying aspects of deadlifts, maybe blocks or deficits, maybe tempos, maybe speed oriented perhaps with some bans or change. It’s gonna be deadlift day. when I carry that through to parenting, when I carry that through to my relationship with my wife, when I carry that through to my business ventures it just it is such a straight line that works for everything.
Do simple things and do them every. and when you make life and business and relationships and money management and nutrition, when you make it about that equation of simple plus consistent it becomes very quick. To all focus easily. You realize how much you’re overthinking and you’re over complexifying.
Everything is actually the seed of the problem. It’s not that it’s complex, it’s that you’re making it complex. So that simple plus consistent equation that I learned primarily in parallel thing is really stood the test of time for me in other aspects of life.
[00:27:11] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah, no, I love that. That’s awesome.
And I have a phrase I like, which is physi physiologic systems are complex, but your actions are. Yeah. So you talked about a deadlift, like we could have a day, probably a week long conversation about all the different aspects of a deadlift from training to nutrition, to the execution, the cues, the nervous system involvement, rate coding, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Sure. But at the end of the day, if you get three white lights, you picked up the load. You either did or you did it. Exactly. There’s a little bit of rules and hitching and that kind of stuff, but in general, Either pick the thing up or you didn’t. So the action is surprisingly simple.
Yeah. And to your point, I see people just get so caught in the complexity, but not realizing that they’re stuck there. Yes. And then they let that bleed over into their action or lack of action, and then they can’t figure out like why is my dad left not going up? It’s like the first question I ask people.
When did you deadlift last? Oh, I don’t know. I was, I don’t know if I should do sumo or conventional or they’re so confused that they forgot. You should just start deadlifting and then we can iterate on some action you’re
[00:28:17] Dr Brian Grasso: doing. Yeah, I agree. That’s, but no joke. I see that in powerlifting all the time.
The oscillation between it all, I’m gonna do five 30. I’m gonna, do, I’m gonna do some elite Fs. Nah, I’m gonna do west side barbell. You’re talking about three programs that could not be farther from each other. Yeah. , ideological makeup. And they’re not meant to dabble, like you’re not meant to dabble in 5 31.
It’s It goes back to that phrase, don’t overestimate what you can do in a short period of time, but don’t underestimate what’s possible in the long game if you were just a pick convent. And pick 5 31 or whichever you choose, and just have some sticktuitiveness to it. And, I, it is one of those things, again, this is actually from power lifting that I’ve brought into other aspects of my life.
Powerlifting is one of those sports you cannot psychoanalyze things. If you do, you’re gonna get really upset because when you start you’re talking about PRS every three weeks. And then you’re 4, 5, 6 years in and you’re talking about PRS every two years. So you know, if you’re looking session to session at your growth or your capacity, you’re gonna be sorely upset and frustrated to think you’re not making any progress.
For me the terminology I always use is mother trend. Look for mother trends. Microanalysis in business is equal. It’s a disadvantage. It’s not what your company did in a week, it’s what it’s doing over the next quarter, right? If we stop to analyze things every couple months then we can start to look for other trends.
Maybe the PR didn’t improve, but my R p E at that load is substantially better. That’s, look at that mother trend matters. So I think mother trends versus Microanalysis is something that I’ve learned a great deal about in the weight room that has carried forward to other parts of my life as well.
[00:30:03] Dr Mike T Nelson: And do you find that as you become more advanced there’s more variability and that variability actually can mask some of your performance? So what I’ve noticed on lifts I’ve been doing longer is. I’ll have some days that are better, but I’ll have some days that are like substantially worse from, you know what my average performance is when you first start out, it’s everything goes up and then you hit a plane where it’s about the same and it generally goes up, but it seems like the longer you’ve been doing it, the variability starts getting more and it’s easy, I think, to get lost in the negative bias of, oh my God, my lift is down by 15 pounds today.
And then this has happened to me multiple times, three weeks later, I get an all-time
[00:30:47] Dr Brian Grasso: pr. Yeah. . I’ve experienced those, I’ve experienced those swinging variables. Yeah. No, you’re, you’re upsy, right? And I’ve noticed it many times. It really is the con, the contrast between starting out and being more advanced.
I think that’s probably the greatest explanation for it. But then understanding the X factors involved as to why it can vary so widely. Oh, sure. When you’re starting out obviously you’re you’re lifting heavy stuff. Parallel thing is what it is. It’s picking up things that are heavy or moving things that are heavy.
But not all the metrics have to be aligned. For you to move those things necessarily, as you advance and now you’re playing with, 500, 550, 600 pounds the metrics have to be aligned and when they’re not, you, you have a minus 10 on the day. Let’s, if I didn’t get a good sleep over the last 24 hours or My carbohydrate consumption was just not good today.
And so I don’t have a lot of energy coming into the gym. Maybe there’s some residual stress for my business day that, I didn’t close. Now I have an open loop in my brain. I’m thinking about it. Those three things alone are going to they’re gonna combine to make it that I’m not picking 600 pounds off the ground.
As a matter of fact, I’ll be lucky to get five 40, and it does, it varies widely. 5 41 day can feel like a truck. Three weeks later, six 20. Flies up. And I think it’s, I think the metrics and the appropriation of them become so much more finite and delicate as you grow in a sport like power lifting.
Like the sleep has to be there, the recovery has to be there. The macronutrients the calories have to be there. The hydration has to be there. In the absence of one or many of those variables, you’re, you the room for error is just too great at that point. So I it’s a really, I love that you brought that up.
Cause that’s a huge thing. You’re absolutely right. Yeah. No, I, the story to interrupt was gonna say that’s one of the things I’ve changed so much over the last four years in my powerlifting careers. Recovery. , it’s I’ve added elements of recovery and I’ve dabbled because I’ve wanted to subjectively see what feels right to me.
As a matter of fact, many years ago, I don’t know if you recall, Mike, we had a conversation We talked about cold plunging versus cold showering versus saunas. And I don’t know for sure. I wanna say, I remember you telling me that the research on it all was all fairly open. Like it’s all good, you know what’s best.
It might not be a quantifiable piece of research yet. But here’s what I’ve learned. I, now that I’m talking to you, I’m interested what the research shows compression therapy really has a positive impact on me. Interesting. I dunno why it just, yeah. Maybe it’s a placebo when I, Hey listen, placebos work.
I have no problem with that. Still better still Exactly. Compression therapy and I’ve taken recently to cryo. I don’t like prolonged exposure to cold, which is weird cuz I’m from Canada. But cryotherapy is, minus 161 degrees, you’re in and out in three minutes. I don’t know if it has an impact.
I just know how I feel. , I feel recovered. So those two things in particular, but long story short, I’ve had to take recovery more seriously and that’s been a huge part of the ascension and power lifting.
[00:33:54] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah, no, I agree with the recovery and I. Theory, it’s probably not just my theory, that compression stuff, the research on, it’s quite mixed.
. But my thought pattern is that you get so much more appropriate exception by wearing compression stuff, especially if it’s compression tights and you’re just doing movement or Norma or whatever. I just wonder about that you’re. Your brain needs some sort of novelty. And with power lifting, you’re doing the same movements all the time.
Yep. I’ve noticed like just simple walking seems to dramatically increase recovery for most people. Oh my God, yes. And I’ve wondered if that is also just the other novel inputs. Yes. You have blood flow, yes, you have movement, but. Stuff from just optic flow, like you’re moving through an environment.
A lot of times you’re outside in nature. Your brain is getting these different inputs that are completely different from the lifting, aspect. So I think there’s a lot of Sure. Components to recovery. And like you said, with the cryo, I’m assuming it’s the air cooled one. Correct. It sounds That’s right.
Yeah. Yeah. The research on that one is like really mixed. There is a couple pieces of data on that show it may change inflammation where cold water immersion doesn’t appear to change inflammation. But that was only one study on the air version. Both of ’em do dramatically jack up epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine.
That’s good. Which if you Yeah, which it feels great. That’s right. . And if you’ve ever done. High load stuff without muscle soreness. You’ve probably experienced like what people would call like a C N s fatigue. Where it just feels like you got hit by a truck, but like you don’t have muscle soreness, like your joints feel fine.
Like the research on that is like even more split. But I think there is something too, that aspect of a central nervous system, whether it’s hormone related or whatever, where. It’s almost like you’re like, hi, lifting doesn’t feel good. Like your drive to do much isn’t there, but you can’t put your finger on anything that’s going on.
Sure. But I think there is something to there that like cryo and those things may help with that, where all of a sudden, like you feel better now. You can go do more work, maybe do more low intensity movement, and it’s nice little
[00:36:00] Dr Brian Grasso: circle. Yeah. It’s funny, I was listening to you talk about all that in your comments about compression therapy.
So first of all, I go to this spa where they just basically, they put these big long socks over your legs and feet. . And then they turn it on and it just rhythmically. Yeah. With air, right? And so the first time I did it, the tech is telling me, oh, here’s what the way it works. Is it, lymph drainage and blah blah, blah.
And I wasn’t rude, but I’m like, in my head I’m like, I don’t believe you because , I don’t think you know what you’re talking about necessarily either. Thinking I’m lying down. No. Cause I’m el sitting with my in a recliner and I’m watching. I’m watching a funny TV show and there’s nice smells from the spa.
Maybe that’s the reason I feel better. . Yeah. It’s just the environment. It’s nice, . And if you’ve ever had somebody give you like a nice, hard massage, it feels good. Yeah. I can’t claim it does anything for you, but it feels nice. So I learned this from you years ago. Placebos matter.
. It’s still better. Still better. Yeah. Those are my two choices right now. Compression
[00:37:01] Dr Mike T Nelson: and. . Yeah. And that’s what’s hard is I think people, again get too mirrored in the so the example I use all the time, first teaching is, oh, you went to massage therapist and they told you they’re gonna massage out all the lactic acid.
It’s lactic acid dissociates in the hydrogen protons and lactate doesn’t stay around very long. , they’re definitely not getting rid of any lactic acid. However, that doesn’t mean the massage isn’t beneficial or that you don’t feel better, perform better. Other metrics don’t improve from that.
The hard part is what was the reason, like you said, is it taking time away and giving yourself permission to do something that’s beneficial? Is it the removal of outside, stimulus? Is it somebody actually, doing hands on work on you? Was it the method they use? Who knows, right?
That’s like decades of research to try to figure out what the main mechanism was. Nevermind you as an individual, right? But if it’s beneficial and you can show that it is beneficial. Yeah, keep doing it. I don’t care what the research says, if you see a benefit, cool. As long as it’s not bad, eh?
[00:38:01] Dr Brian Grasso: Yeah. Matter of fact, Carrie, just, I’m looking over my shoulder cause it’s right by, it’s right in the hallway back there. Carrie just bought a red light off of it. Yeah, I have one here. Yeah, dude. Yeah. So we’re gonna try red light therapy and I’m like, dude, let’s, who knows? Let’s give it
[00:38:13] Dr Mike T Nelson: Whirl . Yeah.
Let’s version on that. So photobiomodulation, there’s some pretty good data on it. Like I first looked at. Four or five years ago, and it was the latest biohacking craze. And I’m like, oh God, I’m gonna look at the research and this is gonna be a disaster, right? It’s gonna be, 1, 3, 3 blind mice type studies.
Yeah. And to my surprise, there’s some actually pretty interesting data on it that’s actually pretty beneficial. The only caveat I would say is that, If you go a little bit too much or too aggressive, it can, like all things be a potential stressor, right? You stay in the heat too long, it’s a stressor. You stay in the cold too long.
It’s a stressor. So red light, the same way if you get, cause I’ve had a couple clients get a little bit too aggressive right away. , the r v tank, the performance tank. They’re like, ah, this thing’s horrible. I’m like, maybe you shouldn’t camp out in front of it for 20 minutes, like on day one. Let’s just cut back your dose and Yeah, that’s, and then everything was like better at that
[00:39:07] Dr Brian Grasso: point. Yeah. I’m thinking I’m gonna start, we got it just yesterday. I’m gonna start with five minutes a day. Yeah. I would start, yeah. I’m even thinking about doing it post-training. I don’t know. , but who knows?
I’ll experiment with different times of day. I’ve read something that says you should do it either at sunrise or sunset, and I’m like, ah, okay, whatever. I’ll do it post-training and see how I
[00:39:27] Dr Mike T Nelson: feel. Yeah, there’s some interesting stuff because of the red light may help with circadian rhythms because there’s more red color in the sun at sunrise and sunset.
Yeah. Not much data on that, like the muscle recovery. I dunno, there’s some data, pre-training shows a little bit of performance enhancement. There’s some data showing post-training shows a little bit more recovery. I think either one is fine and again, you’re back to. What fits in your lifestyle?
Like for me, I find that I’ll get up and do it first thing in the morning after I do my little H r V measurement. Then I’ll go do some cardio stuff, start my day, maybe do some cold water immersion. It’s just easier for me if I put it in the morning. Yeah, because usually I lift in the afternoon, so I don’t like having a lot of things before I lift because that generally just means I can’t lift as long then just due to schedule-wise.
That makes sense. So again, it’s back to, what can you actually do in your schedule with, like you said, simple and consistent. Yeah. Over time that you actually get it done.
[00:40:24] Dr Brian Grasso: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I gotta keep it posted.
[00:40:26] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah, for sure. I will. And you were talking about like things that definitely affect training, which I think is super helpful to know.
Yeah. How do you differentiate them between here’s an actual trend versus, oh, I’ve kind. Overstepped maybe and ascribed a little bit too much of a negative effect to maybe the fact that you slept a few hours less. Because I have some clients who are like, oh my God, I got up this morning, bro. I was supposed to lift.
I looked at my Aura data and it showed 15 minutes less of REM sleep. God, my performance today is definitely gonna suck. Yeah, it’s like probably. Does that mean sleep? And all those things you mentioned are not related to performance. No. But how do you sort out in your head of trying not to be hyperreactive and predictive to things that may or may not matter acutely for that particular day and that particular
[00:41:21] Dr Brian Grasso: performance?
It’s a great question. You used an operative word, which is predictive. , I. I’m, I’m obviously not a neuroscientist at all, but I know enough about neuroscience to know that the human brain doesn’t describe reality. It predicts. Yes. And that’s basically the nuance of the brain.
And so I ran into red flags myself when I started tracking certain X factors. And I caught myself more than once early in the day, cuz I trained like you in the afternoon. It’s just a high yield in time for me. It’s when I trained best. But I caught myself early in the afternoon or early in the morning on those days, predicting that my session was gonna be less than good.
Cause I didn’t sleep well or something else maybe I was under calorie by and large for the day. And I had to have a conversation with myself. Related to the predictive nature of the brain versus experiencing what I need to experience to know more for certain so what I got out of the habit of was predicting anything related to my session that afternoon. So that was my first layer was I needed to stop having conversations with myself in the morning related to what my afternoon session was gonna be like based on the X-factor. So that was layer number one for me, and I accomplished that well, and then I tried to take good notes after every training session in a journal that is as honest as I can make it based on the r p e the sticktuitiveness, the mental aptitude meaning.
There’s training and then there’s training and. Like everybody else in the world, my brain can be over there while I’m here in the weight room trying to accomplish something. And that disconnect is a challenge for me. Like when I’m in, in focus on what I’m doing both my RPE is better, but also my experiences.
I enjoy the training so much more when I’m committed to it mentally. So I try to take notes on all of that stuff. And what I learned is actually very interesting. I can get away with four or five days in a row of having poor XFactor and still training . So around day six or seven, the XFactor will really start to catch up.
I wouldn’t have known that though, had I predicted what sessions were gonna be like in advance. What I actually came to realize, and I don’t know if there’s an overdrive, maybe we all have it. Maybe I just have it, but on days I didn’t get a lot of. When I stopped predicting what my training session was gonna be like, those were actually my best training sessions in my post-training journal.
So I, I don’t know if I compensated or if we all have a gear we can go into but that, seeing that in my journal over a number of weeks and months. Was all I needed to see was that a, my first layer of stop predicting and b, just take detailed notes and follow the trend. And what the trend is showing me is that the X-factor don’t have to be in place until about day six.
And then they, then the performance starts to fall. So if I know that, now I know everything I need to know about my data. So I don’t know if there’s an overdraft. We all have, but honestly, Mike, on days where I got no good sleep whatsoever. Maybe was not hydrated well, certainly didn’t have enough calories.
I always end up having the best training sessions.
[00:44:22] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah, I’ve seen that too. Like you’ve seen that it’s in competition. Like you’ve got highly competitive power lifters show up, dehydrated. If they’ve got a 24 hour way in, had travel like they slept two hours a night before and hit lifetime PRS the next day.
It’s amazing. So to me, Acute versus chronic, right? Your body can buffer a lot more acute stress than what people realize. And then just keeping track of kind of acute to the chronic ratio, like you said, everyone will have this kind of tipping point or exponential point where it becomes much more difficult.
But yeah, I think that’s so good because you’re using performance to. What actually happened, because prediction in general is very difficult and a lot of times wrong. Yeah. You don’t wanna like bias yourself in the wrong direction before you even touched a weight .
[00:45:09] Dr Brian Grasso: Yeah. And I did. I did for a long time. I would bias myself and that’s when I realized that layer had to come number.
The first layer was stop predicting, like that’s the automatic and that, that worked both ways for me. There are days I thought I was gonna be lights out in the gym that day and I. Yeah. Uh, Which led to me being annoyed and frustrated and looking for answers that didn’t need to be looked for. So the deal I made with myself is your training sessions in the afternoon, you can start worrying about it in the afternoon.
Just don’t predict anything in the morning cuz it’s likely not gonna matter. But just collecting data on myself really it opened my eyes to the blind spots I had and it gave me an understanding of six days is basically, May I train four days a week so that, that’s four training sessions for me.
I can get away with four training sessions if my metrics aren’t good, but on the fifth training session, there’s gonna be a problem. That’s what my data has showed me. And I look at that as, as objectively important information. Yeah. Awesome. Hey, awesome to realize I’m so sorry.
I gotta cut a short, you got two minutes. Yeah, I was gonna say I just realized now I gotta run in a second and I’m, I was late, but
[00:46:16] Dr Mike T Nelson: this has gonna fall. No worries. But thank you so much. And where can people find more about all the wonderful stuff you’re
[00:46:21] Dr Brian Grasso: doing? You know what? Find me on Facebook.
I’m so not like a marketing guy, just Brian Grasso, find me on Facebook. Send me a friend request. Send me a message. I love people. I don’t have a velvet rope around me. I love people like Dr. Mike T. Nelson, who I think assaulted the earth and probably one of the only scientists I ever. And Mikey, the number of messages I’ve sent you over the.
Hey, Mike, this is what I read. Is this true? Oh, you’re my go-to for all that stuff and like me, you’re just a regular guy who likes to help wherever I can. So find me on Facebook anytime
[00:46:53] Dr Mike T Nelson: you like. Cool. Awesome. Thank you so much for all your time. We really appreciate it and have a wonderful day.
Good to see you. Take care yourself. Thank you. Bye-bye. Take care, man.
[00:47:05] Dr Mike T Nelson: Huge thanks to Dr. Brian Grasso for being on the podcast. Always enjoy talking to him all the time. I learn new stuff each time that we get to chat. I thank him for spending time to talk about the wonderful lessons from the world of lifting an exercise and how they can be applied to make your life better.
Be sure to check out all the stuff that he has. We’ll put links below here. and if you have questions for him, as you said do hit him up. He does a really good job of getting back to everyone, which I’m not really sure how he does that, but it’s literally him , which is amazing. I’ve worked with him before in the past, and, all the products, all the stuff.
He has definitely top notch and well worth it. I don’t make a dime from any referrals or anything, but just want everyone to have good information. Him and his wife Carrie always have solid information, so huge fans of them. Hope to get to see them again in person. So thank you so much for listening to the podcast.
If you wanna become more resilient and increase your recovery ability, and you want to check out the Physiologic Flexibility Certification, the Phys Flex Cert, it will open again in mid-March 2020. Go to physiologicflexibility.com for all of the details there. You can hop onto the wait list, that’ll put you onto the newsletter, and as soon as it’s open, I normally have some exclusive bonus items for you.
Also. You’ll be the first to get all the information there. Thanks again to Brian Grasso for all the great information. If you have a few seconds to leave us a review, that helps us out a to. Whatever stars you feel are appropriate and your favorite podcast player. Thanks again. Really appreciate it, and we will talk to all of you next week.
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