Strength Training, Kettlebells, And Ditching the “One More Rep” Mentality – Pavel Tsatsouline on The Joe Rogan Experience #1399

Key Takeaways

  • Strength training advice:
    • “The optimal number of repetitions are one-third to two-thirds of your maximum”Pavel Tsatsouline
      • So, if you’re able to max out with 10 reps at a certain weight, you should only be training with 3-6 reps
    • The duration of a set should be 30-60 seconds
    • Train 5-10 sets of a specific exercise on heavy days, and 1-3 sets on light days
      • Pavel recommends a 5-10 minute rest between sets
    • In general, only max out your lifts a handful of times per year
    • Pushing yourself to do one more rep when you hit your limit is great for you mentally, but not physically
    • Kettlebell swings are the most beneficial exercise anybody can do”  – Pavel Tsatsouline 
  • Machines aren’t necessarily bad, but they should only be used for two reasons: 
    • If you’re injured 
    • If you need to focus on a specific muscle
  • “Strength cannot be divorced from health”Pavel Tsatsouline 

Intro

  • Pavel Tsatsouline (@BeStrongFirst) is the Chairman of StrongFirst, Inc. He’s widely credited with introducing the now ubiquitous kettlebell to the United States.
    • In the 1980s, Pavel was a physical training instructor for Spetnaz, the elite Soviet special-forces units. Pavel is now a subject matter expert to the US Marine Corps, the US Secret Service, and the US Navy SEALs.
  • Host – Joe Rogan (@joerogan)

Books Mentioned

Strength Training Strategies Explained

  • Progressive Overload:
    • Each week, slowly add a few pounds to your lifts
  • Step Loading (Constant Weight Training):
    • Lift the same weights for a longer period of time. Then, after a few weeks, jump up to a heavier weight.
    • (This is the best way to train for beginners)
  • Wave Cycling:
    • Start with a moderately challenging load. Keep going heavier and heavier each week. Then, perform at your competition, and afterward, reset back to the original load plus a few pounds.
  • Variable Loading:
    • Some days, you perform your typical workout. On other days, you jump up in weight by 20%. Essentially, the weight you use goes up and down – it varies.

Lifting Advice

  • “The optimal number of repetitions are one-third to two-thirds of your maximum”Pavel Tsatsouline 
    • So, if you’re able to max out with 10 reps at a certain weight, you should only be training with 3-6 reps
      • Why this formula? – If the reps are too low you won’t get stronger and if the reps are too high, you might get hurt, or you’ll compromise on technique and have bad form.
      • “This particular method is purely empirical. It worked for decades, it still does and that’s one of the ways you can get strong.”
  • For both strength and endurance training: “You’re going to find that your gains are much more stable if you take some time off, which is important for anybody”  – Pavel Tsatsouline 
    • “It’s possible to build muscle fast, but it’s not necessarily very quality muscle. So yes, take your time.”

Forget the One More Rep Mentality

  • Pavel is against the “one more rep” mentality, as is Joe 
    • Pushing yourself to do one more rep when you hit your limit is great for you mentally, but not physically
    • “It’s okay to push your body to the max, but you must do it periodically for a short period of time, and not too often. That’s very important.” – Pavel Tsatsouline 
  • If you’re constantly pushing yourself to the limit, you’ll likely destroy your body
    • Ronnie Coleman, an American bodybuilder who was known for pushing incredible weight, now has serious back problems and has to walk with crutches in his fifties
      • Hard work does matter, but you must also work smart
  • Top powerlifters max lift only twice a year
    • “Meanwhile they train hard to push themselves to do everything right, but they do not try to squeeze out one extra rep” – Pavel Tsatsouline 
    • Keeping your max lifts to a minimum will help your performance and longevity as a lifter 

Gym Machines: Good or Bad?

  • Machines aren’t necessarily bad, but they should only be used for two reasons: 
    • If you’re injured 
    • If you need to focus on a specific muscle
      • “But your typical person going to the gym has no business doing that” – Pavel Tsatsouline 

Bodyweight vs. Barbells vs. Kettlebells

  • Bodyweight workouts
    • Pros:
      • They require minimal equipment
    • Cons:
      • Bodyweight exercises require a decent amount of coaching to do properly
      • You can’t train your lower-back effectively
  • Barbell workouts
    • Pros:
      • Great for heavy lifting 
      • A must if you’re looking to maximize your muscle mass
    • Cons:
      • There’s a steep learning curve associated with barbell exercises
      • Barbell exercises aren’t easy to master
      • The barbell isn’t forgiving, and it’s easy to get injured if you do a barbell exercise incorrectly
  • Kettlebell workouts
    • Pros: 
      • Kettlebells move freely and adjust to your anatomy
      • Using a kettlebell is a great way to work out your shoulders
      • It’s effective time-wise – with the right kettlebell workout, you can easily exercise your whole body
        • Kettlebell swings are the most beneficial exercise anybody can do”  – Pavel Tsatsouline 
          • You’re training power, fast fiber muscles, and getting your cardio all from one exercise
      • Kettlebell swings have a large carry-over effect
        • Just doing kettlebell swings can actually improve your performance with other exercises
    • Cons:
      • None mentioned

Sets & Rest Periods

  • The duration of a set should be 30-60 seconds
  • Train 5-10 sets of a specific exercise on heavy days, and 1-3 sets on light days
    • For rowers and bodybuilding, Pavel recommends a 5-10 minute rest between sets (you can do different exercises during the rest period, just don’t do the same exercise for 5-10 minutes)

How to Build Endurance

  • The best way to develop your cardio endurance is through steady-state exercise (i.e., running or biking))
    • However, you want to avoid pushing your heart to the max while running – you should be able to run and have a conversation with a running partner at the same time
  • You can also train your cardio endurance with interval training
    • Pavel recommends first becoming experienced with steady-state exercise before performing interval training because, “It’s very demanding on the body, and it’s too easy to have problems with the heart if you start using it prematurely” 
  • “Running right below that aerobic threshold is the primary training method for endurance training” – Pavel Tsatsouline 
    • How do you know when you’re over the threshold? – If you can’t talk while running, you’re running too hard

Nutrition & Sleep

  • When it comes to nutrition, there’s still a lot we don’t know 
    • One thing we know is that fasting is universally beneficial
    • Also, lay off the sugar
  • Pavel follows the Warrior Diet – he eats only meal, usually consisting of just a large dinner (steak and vegetables)
  • Pavel tries to get 9 hours of sleep every night

Additional Lifting Advice

  • You have to train type two muscle fibers to stay active, you do that by lifting heavy or fast
  • Squatting Advice:
    • “Go down below parallel but not to the point where you’re sitting on your calves and come up just a little above parallel” – Pavel Tsatsouline 
  • Push-up Advice:
    • Go down and almost brush the floor with your chest, come up about halfway then repeat
    • “The speed is very slow so there’s no momentum at all” – Pavel Tsatsouline 
  • Pavel mainly does just three exercises: Kettlebell swings, dips, and push-ups
  • If you’re injured, find ways to still workout without aggravating the point of injury

Additional Notes

  • Pavel likes the fact that CrossFit gets people motivated to work out and that it’s created a community around exercise
  • “I just think that society at large just needs more regular tough guys” – Pavel Tsatsouline 
  • In Russia, if you happened to step over a barbell, you would get beaten up and kicked out of the gym
    • “Don’t ever step over a barbell; that’s the most disrespectful thing you can do”  – Pavel Tsatsouline 
  • “Strength cannot be divorced from health” – Pavel Tsatsouline 
Joe Rogan Experience : , , , , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

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