Ask Me Anything About STRENGTH


What do you think about speed work? Does it work for most people? What percentages should one use? Reps and Sets?

Are there other bonus to it other than strength / force production? I find that I think it offers a bit more recovery if I do it about once a week. Maybe helps a bit with form too.

I sometimes question if the benefit is worth the investment of a training session.

If you were doing the lift specific Every Other Day split…and you wanted to add cardio for fat loss for summer…how would you set that up for yourself with a high intensity day and low intensity days?

As someone who is looking to getting back into the gym, how quick do you think the body adapts so that it can be pushed? I don’t plan on going hard my first couple weeks, easing into volume and intensity, but other than working on form and quality reps is there an average time for someone who has been away for years to let it rip or would you advise slowly building up to that?

Best lower body strength movement for overall athleticism (Sprinting. Jumping, etc) I’m 5 ’ 10" with long legs and very long arms. Squat, Front Squat, or Trap Bar? Thanks.

In order to maintain and continue to build strength, how has your personal training and supplement choices changed in the last few years since you have gotten older?

What would you recommend for someone that wants to begin Strongman training/exercises?

Thanks for this opportunity, coach!

What mistakes in your training career have you learned the most from?

MDS has been my blueprint of lifting for many years. So I first want to personally thank you for creating that plan many years ago and sharing that with us. I still have yet to dial in how to eat my daily carb intake before/post workouts. Any advice for how to plan accordingly to get the most output of my daily carb intake in terms of a % carbs? For example, Breakfast % carbs, lunch % carbs, pre workout % carbs, intra workout % carbs, post workout % carbs, dinner % carbs. Thank you.

Well, I’m a fan of explosive/accelerative work. But I don’t really like the “Westside” dynamic effort work.

I much prefer the original CAT approach by Dr. Fred Hatfield which uses a bar weight of 70-80% for set of 2. And really CAT simply means trying to create as much acceleration as possible, regardless of the weight. And if the weight is light it moves fast… the acceleration “compensating” for the lighter weight when it comes to force production.

Understand that Westside uses a bar weight of 40-60% BUT with added chains and bands. Louie himself wrote in Special Strength for All Sports that the best load for strength-speed is 80%. But in his case the 80% is a combination of barbell and band/chain resistance so that at the top there is 80% but at the bottom there is less than that.

So if you use that approach with only bar weight and use 40-60% it will be too light to have any transfer to strength work. The main benefit being mostly as a form of technique work with a light weight.

Personally, when training for strength I always try to push the bar as hard as possible. The speed depending strictly on the load but the intent is always to accelerate it as much as possible.

And my “speed work” uses a barbell weight of 75-80%

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Low-intensity days can be done on OFF days provided that they are not draining and no longer than 35-40 minutes.

If you want to go hard and do a true endurance session then it’s better if you do it as a second session on a lifting day, a few hours later.

For the high intensity work, if it is hard and short I could see it right after the overhead day.

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It depends on how long you have been away, how much you lost and your current level of fitness.

Anyway, you should always periodize your training or do it in a cyclical manner.

Most people should use a 12-16 weeks training cycle. But if you are detrained you can extend it to 20 weeks before doing a 3-4 weeks maintenance/resensitization phase.

I don’t really believe in “not pushing hard” in that most of your work sets should have roughly 2 reps in reserve for compound movements and 1 on single joint or machine exercises. Even if you are detrained it’s fine ot use that level of effort.

The things that vary are volume and load.

And if your goal is hypertrophy, volume is the main variable you manipulate.

For example “easing into it” might be a total of 50 work sets per week (not per muscle, total work sets in your week) and the end goal (hardest level of training) might be 100 work sets per week.

So now you have your starting point and end point and you gradually work up in volume every 2 weeks or so.

It might look like:

Week 1: 50 sets
Week 2: 50 sets
Week 3: 60 sets
Week 4: 60 sets
Week 5: 70 sets
Week 6: 70 sets
Week 7: 80 sets
Week 8: 80 sets
Week 9: 90 sets
Week 10: 90 sets
Week 11: 100 sets
Week 12: 100 sets

Or you can be more conservative and increase volume every 3 weeks:

Week 1: 50 sets
Week 2: 50 sets
Week 3: 50 sets
Week 4: 60 sets
Week 5: 60 sets
Week 6: 60 sets
Week 7: 70 sets
Week 8: 70 sets
Week 9: 70 sets
Week 10: 80 sets
Week 11: 80 sets
Week 12: 80 sets
Week 13: 90 sets
Week 14: 90 sets
Week 15: 90 sets
Week 16: 100 sets
Week 17: 100 sets
Week 18: 100 sets

Then you would do a resensitization phase with 1/4 to 1/3 of the top volume you reached in your cycle. For example:

Week 1: 25 sets
Week 2: 25 sets
Week 3: 34 sets
Week 4: 34 sets

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I’d likely go with the trap bar with someone with your levers. It will allow you to load more than the front squat and the position is more “sport-specific”. I’ll be a pariah and say that for that specific purpose, using the high handles would be better as partial squats (around 90 degrees or a bit lower) have been found to be slightly superior than full squats for spriting and jumping performance.


Good question:

  1. I use more rest days. I used to train 5-6 days a week now I like to train every other day. That gives me a full day of rest between hard workouts.

  2. I use a more conservative periodization for my heavy work. I use to be all about lifting max weights often and going for quick strength gains. Now, I plan a 12 weeks cycle with a very progressive increase in load.

  3. I do more work in the 4-6 reps range, even for the main lifts.

For example, a 12 weeks cycle for the big lifts could look like:

Week 1: 5 x 3 @ 80%
Week 2: 5 x 4 @ 80%
Week 3: 5 x 5 @ 80%
Week 4: 5 x 6 @ 80%

  • Assistance work is mostly hypertrophy work aimed at correcting weaknesses and it includes a higher proportion of single joint work and machines

Week 5: 4 x 3 @ 85%
Week 6: 4 x 4 @ 85%
Week 7: 4 x 5 @ 85%
Week 8: 4 x 6 @ 85%

  • Assistance work is mostly hypertrophy work but using a bit more multi-joint exercises. BUT there is less assistance volume than in block 1

Week 9: 3 x 3 @ 90%
Week 10: 3 x 3 @ 95%
Week 11: 3 x 2 @ 100%
Week 12: 2 x 2 @ 105-107.5%

  • Assistance work: Very small amount of assistance work (drop it completely on the last 2 weeks) . Essentially doing one multi-joint free weight exercise for each main lift. They are trained more for strength in the 4-6 range.
  1. My work is more submaximal, meaning that 3 weeks out of 4 I have several reps in the tank and the 4th week is more challenging.

Essentially my cycle are longer, slower and more gradual.

  1. Also, if I’m tired and know my workout will suck, I just take the day off. Which I never did in the past. For example, I have drained for the past 3 days because of a horrible flight back from Ireland and didn’t train today even if I had a workout planned. I did one warm-up set and realized it would not be a good day. I decided to rest and come back strong tomorrow.
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For what purpose? Competing in strongman? To help you get stronger overall? As a conditioning tool? To help you build more muscle?

All of my mistakes stem from my passion for training combined with a deep sense of insecurity. And they can be condensed in one word: “Excessive”

  1. I trained too often
  2. I did too much overall volume
  3. I lifted too heavy too often
  4. I focused on quick gains rather than long term progression
  5. I reduced calories too much when dieting down… which led to excessive reactive binging
  6. I changed my training too often, because I burned out and stagnated quickly from being excessive

For the Weeks listed, so you train each lift 1,2 or 3 times week?

The rest depends on your goal. Carbs are generally good at helping you relax by reducing cortisol and adrenaline, so I like to but some in the evening (which also helps curb cravings at night)


Do you mean my own program? Right now I’m using a lift-specific approach with one bench day, one squat day, one overhead day and one deadlift day.

A higher frequency can also be used:

Day 1: Lower squat emphasis and small amount of deadlift
Day 2: Upper bench emphasis and small amount of overhead work
Day 3: Lower deadlift emphasis and small amount of squat
Day 4: Upper overhead emphasis and small amount of bench

I like to do one “back” exercise on every workout.

When training bench = horizontal row
When training deadlift = traps or lower back
When training overhead = vertical pull
When training squat = rear delts/rhomboids

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Why not just go to MMF (Momentary Muscular Fatigue) on the set and then recover as long as needed from the training session to adapt and move on? Upside/Downside? of that line of execution