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#078 Resistance Training For Time Efficiency, Body Composition, And Maximum Hypertrophy With Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D. | Found My Fitness

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Key Takeaways

  • “If I were to pick one activity that’s indispensable, it would be resistance training.” – Dr. Brad Schoenfeld
  • Aerobic exercise will improve the cardiovascular system but will do little to improve strength, muscle development, bone density, and muscle hypertrophy
  • Resistance training is an important supplement for reducing calories to lose weight if you do not lift weights, you will lose muscle as you lose body fat
  • Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle synthesis and maintenance
    • Shoot for 1.6-1.8g/kg body weight if resistance training and a minimum 0.8g/kg body weight if sedentary
  • Combine different concepts and types of training: resistance training, power, cardio, plyometrics
  • When considering rest periods between sets, the ability to perform volume load is more important than optimizing hormones through rest length
  • It’s beneficial to give a muscle 48 hours to recover before training again – training sooner won’t blunt hypertrophy because some muscles may not respond well to high training frequency
  • You can lift lighter loads at higher volumes and still experience gains in muscle but intensity matters! The last few reps need to feel hard
  • Dosing resistance training:
    • To maximize hypertrophy: 10-20 sets per muscle, per week
    • Minimum effective dose to gain muscle: 4 sets per muscle, per week
  • The most important thing is to be in tune with your body – if you need a day off, take it


Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D. (Instagram @bradschoenfeldphd; Twitter @bradschoenfeld), is a professor at Lehman College in the Bronx, in New York City. His research primarily focuses on muscle adaptations to strength training, and muscle hypertrophy. Books: The M.A.X. Muscle Plan 2.0 and Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy.

In this episode of Found My Fitness, Rhonda Patrick and Brad Schoenfeld take a deep dive into the ins and outs of resistance training: why it matters, meeting protein requirements, myths versus reality, recovery, and much more!

Host: Dr. Rhonda Patrick (@foundmyfitness)

Why Should People Care About Resistance Training?

  • “If I were to pick one activity that’s indispensable, it would be resistance training.” – Dr. Brad Schoenfeld
  • Definition of resistance training: any type of exercise that moves against resistance – for example, squats, push-ups, pull-ups, free weights, machines, cables
    • Power training is the ability to produce force over time – some training needs to be done explosively to generate power (e.g., medicine ball toss)
  • Cardiovascular exercise has been more widely researched throughout the years, but resistance training provides many of the same benefits with the additions of improved posture, muscle development, and bone density
  • Aerobic exercise will improve the cardiovascular system but will do little to improve strength, muscle development, and muscle hypertrophy
  • Bone density: 80% of people with osteoporosis are women – resistance training (by way of muscle pulling on the bone to move) strengthens bone
    • Light loads, heavy loads – all resistance training improves bone; cycling and ellipticals do not provide enough resistance to improve bone density
    • Most research looks at moderate to heavy load but the intensity of effort and multi-joint (e.g., squat instead of curl) movements will likely yield the same positive results, there just isn’t enough research
    • Bone bank: start improving bone density when you’re young to minimize osteoporosis risks and effects – it’s more difficult to build what you’ve lost than preserve what you have
  • It’s never too late to start resistance training! Profound improvements in muscle strength and hypertrophy will still take place no matter what age you start – but of course, it’s best to start young and get ahead of it
    • You can maintain a majority of muscle mass if you stay consistent throughout the years

Exercising Throughout Childhood

  • Emerging research suggests it’s really never too young to start lifting provided there is supervision and the child is mature enough to handle
  • Myth: resistance training will stunt growth
  • When to wait: if the child is not emotionally ready, injury risk is higher
  • Resistance training is one of the safer things you can do in a supervised environment compared to some sports
  • How to start: make it fun, keep it light at first, and approach it as a way to improve self-esteem and performance

Body Composition

  • Resistance training improves lean muscle mass
  • Exercise is an adjunct to a fat loss program but you really need to reduce calories and energy intake
  • “It’s fundamental to combine resistance training at the very least with an energy deficit through an energy restriction to promote weight loss.” – Dr. Brad Schoenfeld
  • If you do not lift weights, you will lose muscle as you lose body fat
  • Resistance training will stave off the loss of muscle while losing weight and build muscle while losing fat
    • The more weight you have to lose, the easier it is to change your body composition because your body will put from fat sources
  • You cannot maximize muscle gains if your goal is to lose fat – if your goal is a massive gain in muscle development, you at least need to be in a caloric deficit or surplus
  • Protein is essential to ensuring you are developing muscle – otherwise body leaches protein needs from muscle when resistance training and you will not build or maintain
  • General protein needs: 1.6-1.8g/kg body weight (up to 2.2 for bodybuilders) per day for resistance training individuals; around 0.8g/kg body weight per day for sedentary individuals but that’s on the low end
    • If you are overweight or obese you want to estimate your protein needs according to what your body would be if you were leaner size but err on the side of higher protein versus carbs and fat
  • Older individuals are anabolically resistant and need high protein and higher doses of exercise, though admittedly difficult – try protein shakes
  • You don’t need to supplement with leucine if your diet includes high-quality animal-based proteins

Effects Of Time-Restricted Eating

  • Structure workouts and days to get all of the protein within the feeding window to preserve muscle
  • It might actually be beneficial to spread out protein intake across 3-4 meals
  • The body is anabolic for 24 hours after a workout
  • Optimizing anabolic window: most important thing is getting daily protein requirements – don’t stress about slamming your protein shake the minute you finish working out (but there’s no downside to getting it in shortly after if you have access)

Tailoring Training

  • Do you need to train heavily to get gains? You can gain similar amounts of muscle across a wide range of reps – this has been shown in untrained, trained, old, young individual
    • There may be some muscle fiber-type specific benefits for lifting light versus heavy depending on the goal but research is shaky
  • Caveat to lifting light loads: intensity matters! The last few reps still need to be difficult to complete, you must challenge your muscles
  • The body adapts to strength training for survival so you need to increase weights to give the body challenge  
  • Sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle) mostly attacks Type II fibers (strength & ability to produce force fibers; Type I are endurance fibers and more well-preserved)
  • If you train hard (regardless of load), you will improve both Type I and Type II fibers (debunking a myth only heavy loads will improve Type II fibers)
  • Training to failure: inability to perform another repetition with proper form – you need to train with high effort but there is actually no benefit going all the way to failure
    • It’s perfectly ok to stop within 1-3 reps of failure to promote adaptation – high-level athletes and bodybuilders may want to go to failure sometimes but not every workout
  • Research will provide a general guideline but there are many individual factors to consider: stress, sleep, genetics, goals, etc.

Training Dose & Efficiency

  • Volume is a driver of hypertrophy – but it is individual, some people respond better to low volume while others respond to higher volume
  • General dose to maximize hypertrophy: 10-20 sets per muscle, per week
  • Minimum effective dose to gain muscle: 4 sets per muscle, per week
  • Optimizing training efficiency:
    • 1. Train with heavier loads and perform less reps
    • 2. Train multi-joint exercises (versus single joint like a bicep curl) like squats, pull-ups, push-ups, etc.
    • 3. Superset: two different exercises (can be agonist/antagonist; lower body/upper body) without rest between exercises
    • 4. Drop set: one set close to failure or failure then reduce load and do more reps (can repeat double or triple drop set)
  • General guideline: space out cardio and strength training sessions on alternative days
    • If training cardio and strength on the same day, do one in the morning and one in the evening
    • If training cardio and strength in the same session, start with strength training to avoid compromising performance and energy
    • Caveat: training volume and prioritization depends on your goals – some sports will favor leaner bodies, and some larger

The Science Of Rest Periods & Recovery

  • Importance of rest: if you’re training hard, you need the rest to perform the exercise safely with reduced risk of injury
  • Short rest (30 seconds): number of reps at the same load will be reduced – or – the amount of load will be reduced
  • It was previously thought the best recipe is resting 30-60 seconds for hypertrophy and 2-3 minutes for maximum strength – now, it seems the rest period effect is modest, but load matters so rest according to goals
  • The greatest growth hormone release is at night when you’re sleeping
  • Sufficient recovery between workouts is critical to coming back with energy and the ability to train effectively
  • Muscle protein synthetic response takes about 48 hours
  • Recovery age is a factor in recovery: the ability to tolerance volume decreases – recovery will depend on joint issues, medical issues, sleep, experience with exercise
    • 2-3 days per week in 30-minute sessions is a good dose for older adults
  • The best thing to do during rest is move! Circulation is good for muscle recovery – also try massage, foam rolling, optimize protein, take in omega-3s, and cold water immersion (but not on the same day as training to avoid blunting gains)
  • Women should not train differently than men – but it does appear women recover faster and can have shorter rests while maintaining a volume load

Should You Be Sore After Workouts?

  • Soreness is genetically influenced (women also seem to not get as sore as men)
  • Soreness is generally due to novel stimuli, generally from the eccentric lengthening of muscles under tension
  • You do not need to be sore to make gains; soreness may be the sign you’re challenging muscles beyond the present state but it isn’t a requirement
  • The body will adapt and get sore less over time
  • If you’re not sore, don’t worry but if you’re very sore it will impair your ability to train again with integrity
  • Alleviating soreness: warm water bath, active recovery (walking, moving)

The Role Of Stretching

  • Stretching is beneficial to improve flexibility if you have limited flexibility
  • Flexibility for the sake of it (without need) is misguided because flexibility reduces the stability of the joint
    • If you can do what you need for activities of everyday living, you don’t need static stretching
  • Strength training can improve flexibility in ways comparable to static stretching
    • Stretching can have an anabolic effect
  • You can certainly gain muscle from yoga but it won’t optimize muscle because over time you are not increasing load so you will plateau quickly
    • Use yoga in addition to strength training, not in lieu  

Blood Flow Restriction Training

  • Blood flow restriction training uses a cuff in the upper portion of the muscle you’re looking to train
  • Caveat: you can only use it on your arms and legs
  • Use with light loads, 20-30% 1RM
  • Good evidence it promotes similar muscle development to traditional resistance training, regardless of rep range
  • Heavy loads are still better for strength but blood flow restriction training is a good option to reduce time and joint stress

Brad Schoenfeld’s Routine

  • 4x per week resistance training, alternating 2 days on + 1 day off
  • Upper/lower split workouts lasting 45-60 minutes of hard effort, all sets within 1-2 reps of failure
  • 12,000 steps per day walking
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