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Cardio for Natural

In your best damn cardio article you talk about 2 kinds of cardio … either all out 30 to 60 sec full recovery or easy walking.

My 2 questions are:
Is there any benefit at all in the middle ground? Example 15 to 20 min assault bike shooting for max distance?

And what about short 10 second hill sprints compared to 30 to 60 seconds where lactic acid builds up
Thank you

I do mention that short sprints are good. But they are not “cardio” and are qualitative, not quantitative and as such should not be used as a conditioning tool.

15-20 min assault bike will be one of the most cortisol-producing thing you can do cardio-wise. I’m not saying that you can’t do it, but if you do it should be seen as a workout, not something you add to a workout.

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The reason I liked the 15 minutes max distance bike was because it gave you something to shoot for every session, a goal to try to beat.

But I will stick to the 30-second Sprints with full recovery for 4 to 8 rounds like you recommend if you think that is best. Thank you coach!

Hey guys

Can I humbly make a suggestion and share my recent experience …

Bought a weighted vest (Decathlon)

I train with weights 4-5 times a week
Cardio at 5.pm (I live in Bangkok so its hot as shot during the day, so early evening much better)
week 1
Had the smallest amount possible (took 4 kg of weights out) and walked 5km
Each week I added back some weight (same distance)
Then added ankle and wrist weights
Then a pack with 5kg/then 10kg
I"m now up too about 30kg added weight, same distance, aiming to beat m times each time (45 mins)

  • much meaner, denser and leaner
  • lower back pain gone (I stretch, do mobility and meditate for a short time after)
  • relatively even distribution of weight has really helped recovery, esp legs
  • traps have BLEW UP
  • cardio vascular system really improved (can really push a pace now)
  • amazing time to clear your mind, be thankful and listen to some banging tunes
  • I have 1 day off from this every 2 weeks (Sunday) - I love doing it and it;s now part of my routine

I’m nearly 43, 181lbs, visible abs and feel great!!
TRT also

Just my 2 cents


So you are only walking ?

Gradually build up the weight, and walking becomes challenging enough for you to feel the benefit in many regards, without significant sapping recovery capabilities

I’ll occasionally do giant sets a muscle group (Meadows inspired) which can tax the cardio system for sure - I’m much improved in this regard, and am more athletic in general - given my veteran status ;0)

I suggest at least 1/1.5 grams of carbs per lbs BW, as you’ll burn some fuel during these ‘walks’.

Para-workout supp,implementation dramatically helps recover FOR SURE (C- Dextrin/EEA and electrolytes are working well for me)

Fats for me at around 0.5/0.7 per pound BW, protein the standard 1g per pound (no need for excess protein if carbs are consumed in decent amounts)

I’ve got a really well equip home gym, so have the privilege of being able to train hard, eat well (am working from home) and rest optimally.

Cheers, stay save bro

Cals in vs cals out and all that

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Hi Coach,

Regarding the so-called Stubborn Fat Loss protocol touted by Lyle McDonald (and adapted by Nick Mitchell, who I have a bit more regard for when it comes to training advice), which looks something like:

  1. Warm up
  2. HIIT - 15s on; 45 off for 5 mins
  3. Rest - 5m
  4. Steady state - 20-40m
  5. HIIT - 30s on; 30 off for 5 mins

Is there a particular neurotype you suspect this would work best for?



I know both men. Lyle and I used to be somewhat friends. He actually helped me get leaner for a TV role (male stripper). But over the past years he grew a profound hatred of me (as he does with most people in the industry). This actually saddens me because I see Lyle as one of the smartest man in our field and would value his friendship.

I also presented to Nick’s staff in Mayfair, Singapour and Hong Kong and have been in contact with him occasionally.

Anyway. The protocol is similar to what I do with physique competitors (I don’t do the last HIIT portion) and it works really well. It works well for 2As, 2Bs and type 3s… well, it works well for everybody but 1As and 1Bs will shoot themselves.

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and if its not about assault bike, like right now im doing 2400m faster as i can. It last 10 to 13 mins max. is it too much for natural ( fasted ) in the long term run?

Yes, I recall the vitriol he used to dish out to you. I personally think a lot of it stemmed from the Biotest links and some of the product claims from back in 2009, when he and Alan Aragon were calling Biotest out.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your take on the protocol. The 2nd bout of HIIT doesn’t sit well with me either. Couple with the fact the work to rest intervals are even greater, I think you need real conditioning taking these on.

Mitchell apparently advocates these twice weekly with whole body sessions x3 a week using so-called death circuits. The impact on recovery strikes me here, especially for the type of clientele he deals with. But he’s the expert, and the guy with gyms in a lot of expensive places! Obviously he was also heavily influenced by Poliquin and the whole lactate training theory.

Regarding types, as a 2B/3 I would say it does sit quite well with me. I do get off on that whole lactate thing. Probably see it as less risk than lower rep strength work.

Yeah, that’s what I understood myself. However what I didn’t like is that he turned everything into a personal attack (he still does from time to time). I see Lyle as someone who is normally super objective. When he argues against a study he is extremely meticulous and fact-based. But when he doesn’t like someone he loses all objectivity and simply resort to personal attacks, most of them making no sense.

For example he accused me of taking steroids. Now, I never hid that fact, I wrote about it in a few articles, mentioned it in podcasts and even in my seminars. However it was only during my bodybuilding days. I actually was my strongest naturally, before I even thought about using steroids. Furthermore, I suffer health issues (steroids were likely an aggravating factor) that prevent me from not only taking steroids but from actually increasing my body weight too much ,even naturally. I have not taken anything in about 9 years and achieved my best physique in that time period.

I personally believe that having seen and lived both sides of the fence gave me a better understanding of what works for natural trainees.

Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that he tried to discredit me using the steroid angle YET he himself has mentioned several times that two of his biggest influences were Charlie Francis and Dan Duchaine. Charlie Francis was Ben Johnson’s coach, he was the one who introduced him to steroids, oversaw his doping protocoles and used steroids himself when he was competing. And Dan Duchaine, well, he was known as the first steroid guru. This is a clear situation where something is OK if it is done by someone he likes but not if it is done by someone he dislikes.

Not to mention that Lyle actually wrote a whole book about how to use a drug to lose fat (bromocriptine, a drug designed for Parkinson disease). This is another form of “cheating” by using a drug to speed up physical changes. It’s OK when he does it, but not when someone he doesn’t like do it.

He also accused me of lying about pressing 320lbs overhead. Saying that Doug Hepburn, one of the strongest men of his era and the first man to bench press 500lbs didn’t do much more than that on his military press.

Well, first Hepburn is a legend and had a great influence on me. But that was 70 years ago. And yes he benched 500, but I did bench press 445 in front of about 30 people at Dave Tate’s compound, did 425 for a double which was filmed and might still be online and there are tons of photos showing me bench over 405. Furthermore I was always a good overhead lifter from having trained as an olympic lifter. Also, Hepburn was doing his military presses as a clean and press and he wasn’t strong at the clean because he had a clubbed foot. That was him limiting factor.

Saying that Thibaudeau was lying about overhead pressing 320 because one of the best lifter of all time didn’t do much more doesn’t hold water, especially since plenty of people have done in the 400-500 range since then.

But in all honesty, I never military pressed 320. I did press 275lbs x 5 and the last rep was a push press. But by formula, that is 320. That’s where it comes from. I have also done 315 x 5 on the push press. That was done when I was 19, the summer of my last football season.

Anyway, I just felt that he let his hatred toward me blind him to my work. I would have liked to collaborate with him. But I do have a problem when someone is objective and and ethical only when it fits their narrative.

That is super close to what I do with body composition clients. But I sometimes add a 4th minor workout focusing on isolation work to train the muscles that might end up being neglected in the whole body sessions.

Oh, 100%

I suppose you can take some solace from the fact he later came out and said he was bipolar and apologised for those he may have upset. Would explain a few things.

To be honest, I think Lyle McDonald was brilliant at marketing diet-related books (he’s not the guy you would seek out for training programmes). He created a cult-like following. I know. Like a lot of newbies, I was drawn into these. UD2 is a classic example. There were threads on TNation where a bunch of us did them but when I examine NOW what it entails it is actually not that revolutionary a all. Extreme? Yes, all those needless forced carb feedings while simultaneously still burning fat. I don’t buy it, really. Now folks are fasting, or are on zero carb diets, etc, which are way more extreme, yet, are arguably more natural and less contrived.

Anyway, I’m not dismissing the guy. I still enjoy listening to him from time to time. His keto work was probably the bible for a while; and his PSMF was a decent protocol he opened my eyes to.

Would you care to give an example of how this may look?

Actually it does not help. I actually reached out at that time to share my own story of psychological issues. He never replied and still occasionally make personal attacks toward me.

Well, one thing people ignore is that the way I actually train most clients is now the same as how I have been training athletes for 20 years (with different loading schemes and methods of course). I made that decision last year and the results have been awesome. I’m in the process of rewriting all the programs on my own website.

Anyway, the core principle is that we use 3 whole body workouts. Each workout focuses on one type of contraction (NO this is not influenced by Triphasic training… if you read my book "Theory and Application of Modern Strength and Power methods, written more than 15 years ago, you’ll see that I was training people that way 20 years ago). Monday is eccentric focus (slow eccentrics or overloads), Wednesday is isometric focus (mostly stato-dynamic methods… including pauses during lifts) and Friday is concentric emphasis (normal lifting).

These workouts normally consist of 4 exercises, all compound movements. One squat, one hinge, one pull, one press.

We will also add a 4th, lower demands workout on Saturday. Depending on the goal this is either an isolation hypertrophy workout to focus on the muscles that might not have been properly stimulated by the compound movements. It can also be used for other things like conditioning or injury prevention.

When working with body composition clients, “cardio” is added on 1-2 days per week (non lifting days).

Now, here is the particularity and it will look weird. The whole plan is periodized this way:

The goal here is to improve the body’s capacity to rely on using fat for fuel. We actually want to minimize glycogen use for fuel. In most people, glycogen use is super efficient and fat use is not. If we further reinforce the use of glycogen for fuel, it becomes harder to improve fat mobilization and oxidation capacities.

That’s why we use steady state cardio at this point. It’s also because, while intervals are interesting; if someone doesn’t have the proper cardiovascular capacities to do them properly, they represent an excessive stress on the body. LISS will prepare the body for intervals.

Diet: Keto
Lifting: Heavy (sets lasting 20 seconds or less)
Cardio: Low intensity steady state on 1-2 non-lifting days

Here we start to increase the energetic demands of the workout. With the diet portion we decrease overall calories BUT we increase carbs. That will be a theme with my approach: carbs actually increase throughout the cycle, even though calories are decreasing (keep in mind we start with a pure keto diet of 60-70% fats). This serves three purposes:

  1. Psychologically the person feels less on a diet when it progresses because, “hey more carbs!”
  2. The increase in carbs help reduce the likelihood of jacking up cortisol and adrenaline levels as the diet progresses
  3. It allows us to increase the volume and demands of cardio and lifting work.

Diet: Low carbs (around 30%) but with carbs peri-workout and in the evening, fats are lowered so overall calories are lower
Lifting: Moderate reps (even though I don’t use TUT, it would go up to around 30-40 seconds per set)
Cardio: Mix of 15 sec intense/45 sec relax intervals and steady state on 1-2 non-lifting days.

We once again keep increasing carbs while decreasing fat (so that overall calories go down a bit). But we increase the caloric deficit mostly by increasing workload at this point. From phase 1 to phase 2 it’s easier to increase the caloric deficit by lowering fats while increasing carbs. But when you switch from phase 2 to phase 3 you don’t have that much fat left to take out of your diet. So essentially at this point you are mostly trading fats for carbs while lowering calories a bit or keeping them stable. But we increase workload to further increase the deficit.

Diet: Bumping carbs to 50%, still consumed mostly peri-workout and in the evening
Lifting: Here we might increase the number of exercises by performing post-fatigue supersets with the main lifts
Cardio: Mix of 30/30 intervals and steady state on 2 non lifting days, adding 20ish minutes of LISS on lifting days.

Phase 4 is only done on people who want to compete in physique competitions or do a photoshoot. It is a phase that WILL de detrimental to health and might require some damage control afterwards. But as I often say: everything you do to get down to a true 9-10% body fat is healthy. Getting down to 6% is NOT.

Here we go to a either a push/pull/legs 2x a week or upper/lower 3x a week split (do lifting 6 days a week). Typical bodybuilding methods, higher volume (still lower than what most bodybuilders do, but high for me). Drop sets, supersets, rest/pause, etc.

Cardio-wise we do 5-8 minutes of 30/30 intervals and 20-30 minutes of LISS 6 days a week (ideally on a separate session, earlier in the day).

Diet-wise we lower the carbs slightly and increase protein slightly. Fat is the same as the preceding phase.

This should not be done for more than 3-4 weeks. The person WILL have sleep issues and a drop in libido at that point. That’s why we do not use it if someone just wants to get lean.

If a non-competitor isn’t where he wants to be after the first 3 phases, we go back to maintenance for a month and start over from phase 1.


Thanks for the comprehensive reply, coach. I understand it better now based on the phased approach you have mentioned in earlier posts. I suppose when you mentioned you promoted the whole body approach similar to Nick Mitchell I was thinking more along the lines of the lactate circuits you wrote about (Bob Gadja stuff) some years ago. However, what you have described now has clarified that.

Phase 1, in particular, makes perfect sense to me, and it is the type of approach that I could probably remain in for long periods.

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Since you are rewriting all the programs is it correct to extrapolate that this approach isn’t isolated to body recomposition and would apply equally to those seeking leaner/faster/stronger-crowd (above) and the bigger/stronger-crowd with diet being the differentiator?

You continue to inspire my own work. Thanks.

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