When we are young, we make a lot of unhealthy choices. From eating junk food to trying all kinds of “miraculous diets” on the internet, from not exercising at all, to exercising too much and causing injuries to our bodies.
We think we are invincible, and if we like what we see in the mirror, we also look good on the inside.
But the truth is that all these mistakes we make at a young age can seriously affect our health later in life. And if you are over 40, you might understand what we are talking about it.
Even if you experience some aches and pains in your body and some health issues now, you can still get back in shape and stay fit for the next decades.
You don’t have to lose strength, muscle, and vitality as you get older.
In today’s episode, world-renowned strength coach Christian Thibaudeau
will share his own experience of recovering from a serious health problem and what he learned from it.
He will reveal the benefits of high-frequency strength training, five ways to stay lean for life, and the best anti-aging exercises that will keep you younger, stronger, and leaner. Plus, he will discuss the importance of a healthy lifestyle and how carbs and fat can fit into a healthy diet.
So, if you want to take your training and health to the next level, tune in for this special episode with Christian Thibaudeau.
Christian Thibaudeau is a Canadian bodybuilder, and strength coach. He’s successfully trained a wide array of athletes from Olympic lifters and strongmen to hockey players and figure skaters. He’s also a former competitive Olympic weightlifter, football coach, and has his M.Sc. degree in exercise science. Chris gained notability in the online bodybuilding world in the late 1990s as a key contributor to the online bodybuilding magazine, Iron Magazine Online (or IronMag). He is currently a frequent contributor to Testosterone Magazine and has been applauded by fellow trainers for his willingness to accept and incorporate other ideas into his training program.
- How Christian got back into shape after a health issue
- 4 Reasons you can’t out-exercise a bad diet
- Staying Lean: 5 Tips for Staying Lean for life
- Anti-aging exercise routine for 40+ years old
- How to keep your muscles strong as you age
- Training frequency – how often should you train after 40
- The benefits of high-frequency strength training
- Exercises to reduce systemic inflammation
- How much protein do we really need
- Acid Alkaline Balance Diet
- How carbs and fats fit into a healthy diet
- Pro & cons of glutamine
- And much more…
Podcast Transcription: Strength Training for Optimal Health and Longevity with Christian Thibaudeau
Ted Ryce: Welcome to the Legendary Life podcast. Tune in with millions of listeners around the globe as celebrity fitness trainer Ted Ryce interviews world-renowned experts on the topics of health, fitness, nutrition, longevity, personal development, and more. It’s a fun and enlightening way to learn, and the insights you get here will help you upgrade your health, transform your body and live your best life ever!
I’ve got an amazing interview for you today. I have Christian Thibaudeau, the world-renowned strength coach back on the show.
Onto today’s episode, I had Christian on the show for Episode 211: The Seven Most Common Fitness Mistakes You’re Making and What to do About it, it was an epic two-hour episode that I think is the most downloaded episode that we’ve had on the show. It’s certainly the most shared on Facebook. If you haven’t listened to that, I highly recommend it. We’ll link to that in the show notes for this episode, but 211: The Seven Most Common Fitness Mistakes You’re Making and What to do about them.
So, today Christian is back on the show and we dig a bit deeper into some personal struggles that he’s had to go through health wise. And I also share a little bit of what I’ve had to go through health wise. Reason is, I believe there’s this misconception that so many people have outside the health and fitness industry, when they’re looking at strength coaches like Christian, when they’re looking at people like me, like, “Oh, tr
Well, you’re going to hear how Christian was doing a lot of the wrong things, and how some health scares, got him to change his ways. Yes, he was strong, he was athletic, he was muscular and built, but he wasn’t healthy. And today, it’s all about this new approach.
And Christian brings it like always, he has such a wealth of knowledge and so generous with his time, has another long episode, but packed with important information on how you can stay in shape—badass shape, that is— into your 40s, 50s and beyond. Enough talk, let’s get to the interview with strength coach Christian Thibaudeau. Coach Christian Thibaudeau, welcome back to the show, my friend.
Christian Thibaudeau: Hey, glad to be on, Ted.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And I had to interrupt you because we were having this great conversation about injuries. I was injured, I was taken out for the better part of two months because of an injury to my back. I’m fully recovered, but you were telling me this incredible story of how you’ve had some heart issues, some health issues, some things that you’ve had to overcome. But yet, the perspective that most people have, including myself, of you, is that you’re this larger than life, strength coach guy, but can you talk a little bit about some of the health problems you’ve had and some of the ones that stem from genetic factors?
Christian Thibaudeau: I would say that it’s extraordinary, I think it’s pretty dumb of me, that’s what it is, kind of the story is. It actually started out… because we were talking about to miss time from training. And the only time I really missed a lot of time from training was about three years ago, when I had a heart attack, I had to stay away from the gym for about four or five months. But that actually started 10 years ago, probably even further along than that.
But what happened is that 10 years ago, when I was on my honeymoon with my wife in Aruba, I got stung by this weird looking insect. And right before the end of the trip, I started to have severe pneumonia-like symptoms. And it continued when I got home but I still kept on training. You know how we are, we always go to the gym no matter what, even if we feel really bad. We don’t want to miss a workout.
And that’s actually a period I was training really, really hard because my honeymoon was two weeks, I didn’t train much over there, so I really want to make a good comeback. So, because of the physical activity, the virus actually spread to my heart, and that viral attack on my heart led to heart failure. So, that led my first heart issue and ever since then, I’ve been having some cardiac problems. It took me about three years to get back to a normal heart function.
So, to give you an idea, I could lift fairly heavy weights but as long as I stayed under five reps. If I moved over five reps, it felt like I was reading a marathon and I couldn’t control my effort. So, it took me about three years to get back into proper shape to train the way I like.
But then what happened was my wife started doing CrossFit, so I started doing CrossFit myself just so that we can have an activity together and that I was training. I also train a lot of CrossFit athletes at a time, so, I figured, well, I’m going to just try to do sport to understand it better so I can better help my athletes.
So, I started doing the Olympic lifts every day, having been a former Olympic weightlifter, so that was the part that I liked. I squatted everyday, I lifted and did WOD and stuff like that. Since I really hate not to be good at something, I was doing two or three WODs at home, then doing the training with my wife. And what happened is that I started to have bleeding stools. Now that’s the really dumb part of the story.
Normally, when you have blood in your stools, go to a doctor, right? That’s my advice. But since it happened to me a few times in the past, after a week or two, it went away, then I didn’t think much of it. But it just lasted, it lasted, it lasted until it lasted about four months. So, I was basically losing a large amount of blood in my stools for four months. So, what happened is that I lost so much blood, I didn’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to my heart, so that led to a heart attack.
So, I got into the hospital, they do all kinds of tests on me, they put up a camera up my ass, a camera up my mouth – not the same camera. I also had to swallow a pill that took pictures of my whole digestive system. I had nuclear imaging, I had MRI, so all kinds of tests, and they didn’t find anything wrong, until they just checked the simplest thing, hemorrhoids and it was the actual problem. I had bleeding hemorrhoids. So, they just took them out.
Had I been to a regular, general doctor, as soon as the blood started to come out, they would have fixed the problem in a day and that would have never happened. And that actually is what forced me to stop training for about four or five months, just because it took so long to get a normal red blood cell level, get my heart functioning again. And ever since then my endurance is a bit lower but it’s still like pretty normal now, but it’s a bad experience in my life.
But then, when I was at the hospital that time, they found that I had scarring on my kidneys. So, it’s a condition that is highly genetic, but that was probably made a lot worse by uncontrolled blood pressure. I mean, I have high blood pressure in my family’s genetic. I was given blood pressure medication after my first visit to the hospital 10 years ago. But you know how blood pressure is, you don’t feel different when you have high blood pressure or not until it’s like very, very high.
So, I felt I’m cured, so I don’t need these pills anymore. So, I spent eight years without taking blood pressure medication, carrying more weight than I should have carried for my size, training twice a day and eating tons and tons of proteins, which created tremendous stress on my kidneys and led to the condition I now have.
So, it’s really a lot of bad decisions from somebody who thought he was indestructible. As you mentioned, I’m larger than life, my performance was to the roof. So, I said, “Well, I’m indestructible, I can do anything,” and that led to my current situation. I’m now much better because I changed my eating habits, I obviously take my medication, my body weight is a bit lower, but not that much. And I’m carrying a lot less body fat and water year-round. I’m feeling better, my blood pressure is perfect, my kidney function is back to normal. So, that was a big scare but it forced me to make some drastic changes in the way I eat and I train.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And what I love about that is you’ve continued to push forward and you’re still in amazing shape. How old are you, Christian?
Christian Thibaudeau: I like to say I’m 40 because it makes me look smart. In reality, I’m 39. Yeah, actually, last November, just when I turned 39, I had a photoshoot for my new website thibarmy.com and it was probably the best shape I’ve ever gotten. Not as massive as in some period of my life but I was like 202 pounds, about 5%, 6% body fat and it’s a type of physique that is much more athletic than just a bulked-up-looking bodybuilder. So it was the best. I’ve looked, the best I’ve felt, mostly because I changed my diet completely.
Most people think of me that, “Christian knows everything about training all that stuff.” No, I would say as far as training goes, I know a good deal, I can help people with most of their problems when it comes to training. But when it comes to nutrition, I was the worst, to be honest. I mean, we are talking honestly here.
For years and years, I had horrible eating habits. But I was training twice a day, pretty much every day, so that pretty much kept the fat at bay, I never really got over like 11-ish percent body fat, because I was using so much fuel every day. But my eating was horrible, horrible. I would have progressed a lot more, had I eaten properly. But when I was young, it probably didn’t matter that much because when you’re young you can do pretty much everything but as I got older and more fragile in health, I realized how important proper nutrition is. And I changed that completely over the years.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, and this is a great foundation for what we’re going to talk about. And man in like you said, I’ve actually had some problems with bleeding stools and hemorrhoids in the past, which freaked me out, because I have colon cancer in my family. I’ve got some other health issues. I had an injury recently.
I actually went to the hospital not too long ago, I went to the emergency room because I had a panic attack, I thought it was, I don’t know, having a heart attack. It turns out I was okay, but it’s good for people to hear that when they think maybe they’re not in such great health or that other people who do well like yourself and like me, maintaining an active lifestyle and relatively healthy lifestyle compared to at least most Americans. I don’t know how it is in Quebec, but…
Christian Thibaudeau: Pretty much the same.
Ted Ryce: Pretty much the same, huh? But we have problems too. And what I initially wanted to talk about is, in spite of those health issues, in spite of being 40, in spite of maybe lesser than awesome genetics, how do we get around that? I’d love to hear how you help people get in shape with that situation. I’d love to hear like, how you feel about or what you’ve learned about how much genetics play into how our bodies and what our potential is to get low body fat or to build muscle.
I’d love to hear how you’ve changed too, you said you had a radical transition with how you approached nutrition. And I had a health scare too, man. I got fat when I stopped doing jujitsu. I thought I was eating pretty well and then, and I figured out that I wasn’t, and I also I had some sleep problems. So, I’m going to just let you take it away. So, what do we need to know about our genetics or our potential? And then how do we work around that with training and nutrition?
Christian Thibaudeau: Well, I would like first to mention that the last thing you said about, “I was doing jujitsu and then when I stopped, you probably gained some weight,” that’s when you realize that maybe you were not doing the things right. I think that as a species, we often judge how good we’re doing by how we are looking.
Ted Ryce: So true.
Christian Thibaudeau: So, I actually had that thought myself, I was coaching in St. Louis back then and I was eating as part of my “diet,” I was eating 20 chicken nuggets and fries every single day, and sometimes I had a lot more crap. I could write a book about the crap I ate. I once gained 26 pounds in six hours, that’s truthful, that’s completely honest. And despite eating pretty bad, I looked really, really good.
So, myself, I thought, “Well, what I’m doing is working.” So I can understand where those people who claim, if it fits your macros school of eating, I mean, flexible dieting, as long as you hitting your carbs, protein and fat numbers, it doesn’t matter where they’re coming from. I can understand these people because I’ve been the guy that was eating a bad diet, but was still in pretty good shape. So, I figured it out, the only thing that matters are how many carbs, protein, and fat you’re eating. Because you don’t see what’s going on inside your body. You only see what’s going on outside.
And oftentimes, just look at NFL players and how fat they get once they retire, because as long as they are playing football… It’s even worse in college. In college, a football player might train in some form or another for five, six hours a day, the amount of calories they’re burning is staggering.
So, they take eating habits, but their physical activity masks how much fat or how much bad they’re doing to their body. It’s only when you stop that excessively high amount of activity and you start training like a normal person that you see how much bad things you’ve done. And oftentimes, you are not even seeing the crap you’re putting your body through and what’s going on inside your body.
So, trust me, it’s not because you are looking good, that your body will be good and hold that for a long time. Because I’ve come to the conclusion, especially recently, as I’m getting older, and I’m looking at people, I want to be in shape all my life, I want to look good at 50, I want to look good at 60, I want to look good at 70. So, I’m looking at people, either clients of mine, or people I know from the gym or some other places that are 50, 60, 70, and are in amazing visual and functional shape. And I’m looking at commonalities they are doing, and in all of these cases, they normally have very good eating pattern and non-excessive exercises pattern.
And I think that keeping your body as healthy as possible is what will give you the capacity to maintain progressing for a long time. I was having this discussion with one of my clients that if you keep systemic inflammation away, not just inflammation of the muscle, systemic inflammation, away, and if you keep insulin sensitivity high, and if you keep an alkaline diet, then you can make progression until a very old age.
Systemic inflammation, in my opinion, is the number one reason why people start to degrade physique wise as they’re getting older. Of course, you can keep making amazing progress until you’re 80. But you can still maintain a very high percentage of your capacities up until your 60s and 70s. I had a client, we improved his 1RM in a deadlift at 64. And at 64, he was still competing in fire-fit events, winning international level competitions, improving his personal best until he was 64. And the guy had great eating habits, great cardiovascular shape.
So, I think that if somebody wants to stay lean, stay muscular, stay in good shape, and keep progressing for a long time, taking care of systemic inflammation through diet and some supplements, keeping you insulin sensitive are the best thing you can do to your body. And also, I believe that doing more… I don’t like to call it functional training, but exercises that require your speed of movement, that requires amplitude of movement, and that require resistance are keys to keeping you younger.
To me, there is a difference between training to maximize strength and size and training to optimize your body as you’re getting older. It goes back to two systems, the mTOR and the AMPK pathways. Now, mTOR is basically the light switch that turn on muscle growth. When you turn on mTOR, you activate protein synthesis, which means that you’re building more muscle. So, if you want to maximize muscle growth, you want to maximize mTOR activation.
Now, AMPK on the other hand, happens mostly when you’re burning lots of fuel. So, it’s great for increasing the loss of fat, mobilization of fat, keeping your heart healthy, but it can also inhibit part of the mTOR activation. That’s why I don’t like to do low-intensity cardio and bodybuilding work in the same workout. I’d rather have two separate sessions or do them on separate days because one will inhibit the other.
Now, if you want to maximize muscle growth, get maximum strength, you want to maximize mTOR activation, but mTOR also speeds up cell aging. So, the more you activate mTOR to grow muscle, the more likely you are to eventually speed up the aging of cells. When you’re young, that doesn’t matter, when you 35, 40 it probably doesn’t matter that much either. But as you’re getting older that, you want to find a way to still get muscle growth while minimizing mTOR to avoid speeding up the aging process too much, and you want to increase ANPK a bit more, so that you can have the anti-aging properties of AMPK going up.
You have to understand that the amount of muscle mass you carry is in part genetic and you can carry is in part genetic, which we’ll talk about in a few moments. But also, it depends on how much stress your body can handle. Every pound of muscle you add on your body requires calories, energy, and protein to be maintained. So, the more muscle you have, the more protein, carbs you need just to maintain your body. So, that is one stress on your body.
The second is, the more muscle you have, the harder your cardiovascular system must work, because you constantly have to send blood to those tissues. So, the more muscle you have, the harder your cardiovascular system works. And lastly, the more muscle you have, the more your skeletal system is challenged, because it’s a load you have to carry on a day-to-day basis, especially upper-body mass.
So, if you want to be able to keep on adding muscle mass when you’re getting older, you have to improve the efficiency of your cardiovascular system, because it tends to go down, the cardiovascular system as you’re getting older. And the less efficient your cardiovascular system is, the less likely your body is to allow you to keep that muscle mass on you.
Because your body doesn’t care if you look good for the beach or for the club, it only cares if it’s going to survive. So, if adding all that muscle mass on you represent stress or risk or danger for your survival, because your cardiovascular system cannot handle it, then you’re likely to dump some muscle mass as a protective measure. That’s also why as you’re getting older, you should try to stay leaner most of the time. Why? Because I did body fat also requires effort from the cardiovascular system, fat tissue is vascularized and the more fat you carry on, the more stress on your cardiovascular system.
When you’re young and have a super healthy heart, that probably doesn’t matter that much. So, you can bulk up if you want to gain more muscle mass. But as you’re getting older, if you have that bulking-up approach and you’re carrying more body fat, it’s actually going to limit how much muscle you can carry. Think about it this way, if your cardiovascular system can handle X amount of stress, well that X amount of stress is divided between muscle and fat because they both represent the stress, the more fat you have, the less room you have to have muscle on your body that you can physically handle.
So, as you’re getting older, as your cardiovascular system becomes less efficient, the veins and arteries are stiffer, the heart loses power, so the less fat you want to carry if you want to be able to add muscle mass, that is a simple mathematical standpoint. So, that’s one of the differences when it comes to being able to build muscle or maintain muscle as you are getting older, you should have a dietary approach that reduces inflammation, reduce fat mass as much as possible, and training methods that are less activating for mTOR.
So, I’m talking about more explosive work, more eccentric less work—so not emphasizing the eccentric as much because the eccentric is what activates MTOR the most so, hill sprints, pushing or pulling a prowler, doing the Olympic lifts, medicine ball throws, gymnastics works. All that stuff is great too. By 64-year-old guy improve his deadlift max at 64 was doing front and back leavers, he was working toward a higher-end cross, we use band but he was still working toward that, he was still doing it for the Olympics,
Ted Ryce: That’s amazing.
Christian Thibaudeau: Yeah, it was pretty amazing, and he is not a big guy but he was a pretty amazing and he kept on improving his performance for a long time. And most of his leg work was prowler pushing in various positions.
Same thing here, I’m training with three of my friends and one is like in his 50s he’s a former power lifter bench-press 600. Now 50% is of his volume is on the Prowler, either for lower body or upper body and he’s in great health right now. He and his training partner—and that is not a joke I’m going to tell you—their goal is they are going to have this event in three months, where they’re going to push a 300-pound Prowler for 10 kilometers each nonstop.
Ted Ryce: That sounds brutal.
Christian Thibaudeau: Yeah, it is. But they’re trading the Prowler for legs, three days a week, one is heavy, one is light and one is medium, and they’re doing lots of upper bodywork with the Prowler, they’re recovering great, they are improving every week and they’re in their 50s. So everything’s good so far.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, just to interject there, if anybody’s listening, not familiar with the Prowler is basically like a sled, and you just push it. So, there’s only that concentric motion, there’s no lowering of the weight, it’s just pushing, it’s much like pushing your car.
Christian Thibaudeau: What I really like about the Prowler is that, as you mentioned, it has no eccentric, so it doesn’t cause any muscle damage. So, you have the strengthening effect, because you’re pushing heavy weights, but you’re not getting the muscle trauma that you have from heavy squats and stuff like that. So, if you want to minimize mTOR activation, like I mentioned, and age better, it’s a great tool. But it can also be used for athletes who are in season. If I’m a football player, I can’t have sore legs for four days or when I’m playing again. So, pushing a Prowler heavy or for speed during the season is a great way to maintain lower body strength without negatively affecting your practice or games.
Ted Ryce: Well said, and Christian, you mentioned so much in the past few minutes about mTOR activation and how it’s great for building muscle, but as we age, it starts to also accelerate aging, like you said. You talked about maintaining insulin sensitivity and you also talked about how important it is to have a highly functioning cardiovascular system to not only fuel our muscles to allow us to grow muscle but also to keep our hearts healthy. Nothing worse than a guy who is strong, who gets winded when he walks up a flight of stairs.
So, I’m very curious, because I’ve talked a lot about aerobic exercise, and I’ll tell you, Christian, I used to make fun of people who said walking was great exercise, then Joel Jameson actually is someone who really changed my mind about that, about working on aerobic conditioning and really getting that aerobic system.
A lot of people who heard you talk about the cardiovascular system, they’re thinking, “Oh, yeah, high-intensity interval training, anything that gets me really, really out of breath. That’s my cardio, right? So, I can lift weights or get really out of breath or run sprints.” What do you have to say about how you approach improving that cardiovascular efficiency to allow for muscle mass and also for health?
Christian Thibaudeau: Well, high-intensity intervals are great, they are a great tool, you can do them on a bike, on a treadmill or jogging or you can use kettlebells, you can use farmer’s walk, you can use any implement. So, basically, you can even strike a tire, you hit a tire hard, very hard for 30 seconds, then you rest 30 seconds; very hard 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds, or you can use a rowing apparatus, stuff like that.
So, that is definitely a part of it. While we say cardio, but in reality, there is at least three different components. I call it energy systems work. There is the low-intensity steady-state cardio, like stuff that last 30, 45, 60 minutes at a fairly moderate pace. We often see that type of training as the devil when it comes to building muscle. I think that it is a mistake. It’s not super effective at getting leaner.
But again, remember what I said earlier, we tend to judge the efficacy of something by the effect it has on our outside appearance. So, if I’m doing low-intensity cardio for 45 minutes a day, for example, oftentimes it won’t make me look that much better. I mean, it’s moderately effective at losing fat, it can actually maybe makes you flatter, in some people, it might hurt muscle growth if they do too much of it. But you understand that it is still a decent way to improve the health of your cardiovascular system.
I’m not talking about the strength of your heart. Now when people think about the health of their cardiovascular system, they think a strong heart that can send a lot of blood. Forgetting that strong heart intervals or complexes – that I’m going to talk about later – are more effective, but low-intensity cardio is very effective at improving the health of the vascular system and it’s part of the process, it’s part of what we want to accomplish. It’s good to have a very strong heart. But if your blood vessels are stiff and damage, it won’t do you any good, it might actually lead to problems.
So, the low-intensity stuff does have its place in making you healthier. I’m not saying it’s the most effective method, maybe you only need it once a week, maybe you only need to take long walks, I walk my dogs every single day, well they are pups so they don’t really walk that fast. To me, if I walk my pups for an hour and a half, even if it’s low intensity, it does have a benefit of improving the health of my vascular system.
Now, after that, if I want to improve the function of the heart itself, you might want to go to the high-intensity stuff like intervals. Personally, I don’t really use intervals per se, when I use intervals, it’s loaded intervals. So, intervals on training equipment that you have a resistance on, could be pushing the Prowler. For example, right now, I’m preparing a girl for a physique contest, so she’s often doing bouts of, like 30 seconds Prowler pushing with 30 seconds rest, that is one of the intervals we’re doing.
We often do intervals on the rowing ergometer, because you have resistance in your legs and back, it’s going to be summer here, I often use meddles of different type of carries. So, for example, she will walk 50 meters with farmers walk and also with big weight in each hand walking 50 meters, then she will sprint back to the starting line for 50 meters, then she will take a wheelbarrow and carry that wheelbarrow over 50 meters, sprint back 50 meters, and then she will walk 100 meter as a recovery.
So, the low intensity interval is walking 100 meters when she has 200 meters of I intensity effort, but it’s loaded. The thing is high-intensity intervals are really effective to improve the function of the heart, there’s no question about that. But they also burn a lot of glycogen and raise AMPK. Now, if all you want is to prevent aging, and if you’re past 40 intervals are an amazing tool.
If you’re still like in your 30s, 20s and you want to maximize muscle growth, I prefer weighted intervals, like doing Prowler pushing, as we mentioned, wheelbarrow walking, rowing ergometer, swinging a kettlebell, because the fact that you are overcoming a resistance actually activates mTOR. So you are getting the AMPK from the “cardio,” but it’s balanced out by an increase in mTOR. So, it won’t make you lose muscle mass.
Whereas every time you do even intervals can lead to a loss of muscle mass, especially if you are dieting down because they have the potential to jack up cortisol, which is a hormone that is released when you have to mobilize lots of energy. So, if I’m on a fat loss diet, cortisol is high because you need to mobilize those carbs and fat for energy. And then when you’re training, you’re jacking up cortisol even more.
And the more intensely you train, the more cortisol you release, and that can actually be negative on muscle mass and hormonal health. So, that’s why I prefer to have intervals with added weight when it comes to changing body composition. But when it comes to cardio, if you want to call it that you have the foundation, low intensity work that improves the vascular system. And then you have high intensity stuff that improves heart health.
One of my favorite ways to do that, if somebody likes to lift weight, but hates cardio, is I like to do circuit training, but fairly heavy. So, for example, in a workout somebody could do, let’s say power clean for three reps, back squat for five reps, and overhead press for five reps, and we just rolled through these exercises with about 30 seconds of rest in between.
So, that is still fairly heavy lifting so it has the feel of heavy lifting, but the density of the workload greatly improves the strength of the heart. It doesn’t do that much for the vascular system, but it’s great for the strength of the heart. I think the best way to improve the strength of your heart is probably key-B swings using intervals.
Ted Ryce: What is that, Christian? What did you call it?
Christian Thibaudeau: Kettle-bell swings.
Ted Ryce: Kettle-bell swing, okay.
Christian Thibaudeau: So, kettle-bell swings let’s say for example 30 seconds, but not to the point where after 30 seconds, you are fatigued. So, using a fairly light kettle-bell moderate weight, you do let’s say 20 reps, then you rest until you are about 60%, 70% recovered, then you could do 20 reps again, you wait until you are 60%, 70% recover. So, when you are not out of breath anymore, you still feel a bit winded, but you’re not out of breath. And you’ve maintained that for as long as possible. That is likely the best system to increase cardiac strength.
Ted Ryce: So, some great examples of how to improve your heart but also, the other side, improving your cardiac efficiency or your vascular efficiency is so important. I’m really curious, how do you recommend people train once they get up to around 40 and over? I’ll tell you what I’m doing now to get back in shape after that injury, I’m doing a six-day high frequency but very low volume four or five exercises, about three sets each. And it’s working very well for me, I find that I’m having trouble with high work capacity at the moment, what would you recommend?
Christian Thibaudeau: I will be really disappointing here because I would have recommended exactly the same thing. I was having a discussion with a client of mine, she’s in her 50s and she always has these great questions. And she asked, “Well, should I train less often because I’m getting older?” I said, you should be training more often. As you’re getting older, or when you are in a situation where you want to get back in shape as fast as possible, frequency is the most important component.
As you mentioned, work capacity is lowered after an injury or especially when you get older. So, it can still be pretty high, but I find that myself, I could actually train four hours a day, when I was in my 20s. Sometimes I would train more than that. Now, after an hour, an hour and 15 minutes in a gym and if I train more than that, even if it’s low intensity stuff, the next day, I feel like my nervous system is shut.
And that’s one thing I’ve noticed is that as you’re getting older work capacity does decrease a bit. It might be because of the aging process, it could be also because as you’re getting older, you have more responsibilities, more stress. And so I think the number one mistake people make when they’re getting older is that they think well, I’m older, so I’m going to train less, I’m going to train three days a week or four days a week. To me, that’s the biggest mistake, I would rather have somebody who’s older, training six days a week, 30 minutes, then three days a week for an hour and a half, for example.
The frequency is more important for many reasons. First of all, from a strictly aging standpoint, every time you do physical activity, you release cytokines that favors body repair. So, as long as the training session is not excessively traumatizing on your body, the physical activity session might actually slow down the aging process by increasing cell repair. So, you want your dose of physical activity to be as frequent as possible to our entire aging properties.
Of course, if you’re training like an Olympian or like an elite powerlifter, and you’re basically crippling your body at every session, it will have the opposite effect because you’re creating more damage than the potential for recovery you are releasing, but if the training session has a moderate or even low volume, you will get all the benefits of those cytokines to increase cell repair without making it harder for yourself to repair your body. So, definitely, that is the first reason.
Second reason is, the more often you train, the better you become at recovering. The image I could tell you is if you go tanning if you go catch some rays in your backyard, the more often you’re exposed to the sun, the less it will have a negative impact on your skin. I’m going to give you an example. Here in Quebec, we have like three days of sun per year. So, it is a typically French-Canadian thing, that once a year for one week pretty much everybody who can afford it goes to Cuba or the Dominican Republic or Mexico for a week all-inclusive resort, right?
That is other people do that, but in Quebec pretty much every adult, if they can afford it, take one week off, they go to a sunny country for a week and sometimes we need it because of our winters. Now, last time I did that—not last time, but two years ago I got some nasty sunburned the first day I was there, and so the rest of the vacation was ruined.
So, this time, when I went, I decided, well, I’m going to go to the tanning salon one week in advance not to catch a tan, but just to get my skin use to handling the stress of the tanning light. So, when I got there to the hot Country, the sun was not a stress on my skin anymore, and that worked. So, the first day I came in, I spent all day on the beach, and I didn’t catch a sunburn.
Same thing with training, the more often you train, the better your body become at responding to training. So, if you’re somebody, for example, who gets sore a lot from training, the answer is not to train less, it’s to train more, the more often you train, the easier your body gets accustomed to handling the stress of training. So, you will actually find yourself that you will be better and better and better at recovering from training. At first, it might create some negative impact. But over time, it’s the best way to teach your body to respond positively to training.
Ted Ryce: But keeping the volume low, not traumatize yourself.
Christian Thibaudeau: Frequency and volume are normally on the opposite end of the spectrum. You can train a lot, or you can train often. I see it more as doing about the same amount of weekly volume, but divided into six sessions instead of three sessions for example. But what I like about high frequency training is also you get to train each muscle more often. That has several benefits.
Now the first benefit, let’s say that you are a natural trainee, you’re not using artificial steroids, growth hormone, stuffs like that. When somebody is on steroids, you have to understand that that product artificially increases protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is what builds muscle. So, it is the product that elevates protein synthesis 24/7. You could actually not train and still get some muscle growth.
When you are natural, the actual training session itself represents the trigger that starts protein synthesis, you are natural, you need the training session to get protein synthesis, when you’re enhanced, you don’t. So, the more often you use a muscle when your natural, the more that muscle has an elevated rate of protein synthesis, the more you can make it grow.
Normally, when your train, protein synthesis is elevated for about 24 to 36 hours post workout. So, if I’m training six days a week, hitting each muscle three times a week, for example, then each muscle is pretty much at a high level of protein synthesis for the whole week, which is the most effective way to train for natural trainee. If you are training each muscle once a week, that muscle is anabolic, or muscle building for about a day and a half, the other five days and a half, it just goes back to normal and most people can’t make gains that way, unless they are genetically superior.
So, that’s another reason why you want more frequency of training. The last one is, the more often you train a muscle, the better you become at recruiting that muscle. And the better you are at recruiting a muscle, the more efficient you are at making it grow when you’re lifting. So, for all these reasons, somebody should train more often, especially if they’re getting older. But again, as you mentioned, you have to decrease the daily workload to compensate for the increase in frequency.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, and I was just reiterating what you had said, not only in this interview, but also in your last, and I took that to heart because I was doing actually higher frequency and high volume routine with gymnastic bodies, and I felt just beat down from my workout. So, after our last interview, I started playing around with frequency and actually lowered the volume and I’m getting leaner, and I’m getting bigger at the same time even though I’m coming back from injury.
Christian Thibaudeau: It’s normal because honestly speaking, you’re in a better place. I mean, you’re not exactly a small guy, so when you’re doing gymnastics work, most people don’t understand that, I’ve done the gymnastic body routine for about six months myself, that was my only type of training for a while and it had great results. But I’m also a heavier guy, I was like 220 at a time. Most people don’t realize that elite gymnasts are about 135, 140. They look huge because they’re super lean and muscular but their body weight is actually not that heavy. If you’re 200 or 220, the amount of stress on your body from these gymnastic exercises is about twice as high as for a smaller gymnast.
On top of that, your body is not yet efficient at these movements, so that represents even more stress. So, if you’re doing a high volume on gymnastic work, it’s like doing a very high volume of deadlifts and squats heavy, your cortisol level will be through the roof. And if your cortisol level is always excessively elevated, it’s almost impossible to build muscle because it’s a catabolic hormone. It’s also a hormone that if it’s constantly elevated, can favor fat retention and water retention.
So, if you manipulate hormone the right way, you are actually going to get better results. But you’re probably like me, we are people who love training, we are stimulus addict, so we always want to do more. It’s not that we feel that we need to do more, we like to do more, and so that we are our own worst enemies.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, absolutely. But I’ll tell you what, Christopher Summer, who is a brilliant dude, and it’s a great program, but he tries to work you up to five sets of everything, and it was just crushing me. I was getting stronger but I feel like also that— at least for me, I’m just speaking for myself here—but I feel like even though I didn’t get injured during training, I got injured doing some stretching, believe it or not.
Christian Thibaudeau: You might.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, we’ll talk about that later if you have any thoughts on it. But I feel like that set the stage for me to get injured. And right now, I’m liking my training a lot better and it’s not as hard and it’s not taking as much time away from my work, which is my number one priority, Legendary Life.
Christian Thibaudeau: It’s funny because in a way, I’m sure you kind of almost feel guilty about that because I know personally, it’s a neurological thing. People have neurological dominances, some people are dopamine dominant, some people are choline dominant, some people are GABA or Serotonin-dominant. And depending on your dominance, you respond better to different types of training.
But you also have different motivation to train. So, some people are driven simply by results, all they care is getting better results and beating people. So, they are very competitive and they only care about the bottom line. What motivates them is only to be the best or getting the most results. Some people’s drive or are motivated by feeling like they are working harder than everybody else. So, they do care about the results, but they actually care more about the pride they get into doing a very high volume of work.
Some other people take pride in being able to follow a plan and being technically perfect on every element. When you train clients, it’s often important to understand what is that person’s motivation? Because if you have a client, for example, and his source of motivation, is doing everything perfectly like technique geeks, they have to do every movement perfect, and you as a coach have a result driven system of progression, that person will probably quit training after a few weeks, because it will be really unpleasant for that person.
So, you have to understand the neurological profile of a person to know what drives them and adjust the training accordingly, not only to get better result, but also to prevent catastrophes. Because if you have a client that is a stimulus addict, and you are a coach, who is also a stimulus addict, there’s a good chance that you’re going to overtrain that person.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, very important, is that the Braverman test that you’re talking about?
Christian Thibaudeau: Exactly, yes. The Braverman test establishes the neurological dominance. If you are dopamine dominant, if you are choline dominant, it makes your recommendation about supplementation, for example, but dopamine dominant people tend to be more results-driven. Acetylcholine dominance seems to be more stimulus addict, they pride themselves in working harder than everybody else.
A mixed type or a GABA type often will pride themselves in doing everything better than everybody else. So, not even results or amount of work, but doing everything better. Sometimes they can actually be annoying because of that, because they are the people who argue every little detail. I mean, I’ve read that article that mentioned that your elbow should be at 42.5 degrees, but you’re saying 45, who is right? They will argue every detail because what motivates them is knowing 100% that what they’re doing is the absolute best way. So, oftentimes these people spend more time theorizing about training or talking about training than actually training.
Ted Ryce: A lot of that on Facebook, Christian, a lot of that on Facebook.
Christian Thibaudeau: Actually, yes, the Facebook is the kingdom of GABA dominant people, they love to argue. I even made a post about, I would say a month and a half ago, “How to win an internet debate.” And my answer was, you can’t.
Ted Ryce: Yes, absolutely.
Christian Thibaudeau: In the history of mankind, nobody has ever changed his opinion during an internet debate, a social media debate, especially. All they want is they want to look like they’re winning the fight. But the problem is that they don’t realize that when people are actually reading that debate, they don’t even care who’s right or not, because they themselves won’t change their opinion.
The winner is the person who projects the best image. If somebody always argues a little point and always wants to have the last word, and never show any open-mindedness and is always taking himself way too seriously, that makes him look desperate, that make him look like he’s lacking confidence, and right off the bat, that person just ruin his image.
The person who argues and shows a very open-minded approach, who gives compliments while using that compliment to say, “That’s great, I really love what you’re saying, but if you consider that that might be a good add-on+.” Basically, the person who wins the online argument is the person that sounds like the one you’d like to have a beer with.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, well said, and a bit of a pro tip. What about people who never ever post on your page or comment on anything that you do, until there’s something that rubs them the wrong way and then they don’t say, “Hey, Ted, I love your interviews, but I disagree with your guest.” They don’t say it like that, they just say something negative. What about those people? Is that still GABA or is that something different?
Christian Thibaudeau: It’s GABA dominant or it’s just hassle dominant. It really depends on the person. But honestly, I think and you’ve had the same thing, you’ve been like an online “celebrity” for a while and I’ve been writing articles for a long time and having my own forum you have your own. The thing is that people can either post because they want you to help them, like a question.
Some people will post positive comments. But it’s a fact of life, when people like something, they tend not to comment, when they hate something, they are really vocal about it. So, that’s the thing that at first really annoyed me because I’m a people pleaser, I want to get along with everybody.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, me too.
Christian Thibaudeau: So, at the slightest negative comment I got, it really hurt my feelings, until I realized, well, it’s probably that for every one of these bad comments, I have one thousand people who are taking the exact opposite, but they don’t take the time to say, “Good job, I agree with what you said,” You will only mention the things you don’t agree with and oftentimes, you’re really vocal in a bad way about them.
So, that’s one thing people must realize is that the negative comments you receive… and that’s true for us, but that’s even true for just the average person just doing his own thing in the gym. Many people can look at you and say, “Well, that person really know what he’s doing” but there’s only one person that will say, “Well, what you’re doing is completely stupid. Why are you using rings to train? You’re not going to get built like that.”
So, that might be one person for, like 20 people who say, “Well, that’s amazing what he’s capable of doing.” Like jealousy will make people vocal, misunderstanding something make people really vocal, because it makes themselves feel bad about themselves. If you feel like you don’t understand something, if somebody makes you feel insecure about your own training, if I’m training a completely different way than you are, it will make you question what you are doing, you won’t admit it, but deep down inside, it shakes your foundational belief and people protect themselves against that subconsciously, by being on the defensive.
Ted Ryce: So true.
Christian Thibaudeau: So, when people make negative comments, oftentimes it’s actually a compliment because what you said or what you did makes themselves so shaken, that they actually have a defensive mechanism to fight back. But that’s all subconscious, of course, they don’t even realize what’s going on. But that is what’s going on. People need to feel like they know stuff like they are correct in their beliefs. Like for example, every time I give a seminar—and I’ve been around the world, so it’s not even a cultural thing, it’s a human being thing—there’s always one person at a seminar that will argue pretty much everything I say because he wants people in the crowd to be aware that he’s smart.
In the past, I would actually argue with that person and argue and argue and that never led to anywhere because the more I argued and proved him wrong, the more he was looking for a way to get the opinion of the people back on his favor, so, the more he would argue. So, when somebody does that, I just say, “Well, that is really smart. I can see that you really thought this through, and you have lots of experience, obviously, so you learn stuff that is really applicable. It’s not how I do things, but obviously, you know what you’re doing. But me, I do this, that.”
And just the fact that I acknowledged him, he will not comment at any point in the seminar again, because he has the validation, he was looking for. People want other people to think they’re smart, but more importantly, they want to believe themselves that they’re smart.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so true. And a big part of what I’m doing with this podcast, I’ve had a couple of neurobiologists on here talking about how these unconscious biases that we all have, these things that we do, just to make people more aware of them. So, thanks for that important tangent there.
I’d like to bring it back a little bit because we can do another interview sometime and talk about the Braverman and perhaps what that means for supplementation. I know nootropics are hot, and people respond differently based on their brain chemistry. But I love to bring it back to what you were saying about managing systemic inflammation, about maintaining insulin sensitivity, and what you’ve done to rein in your diet, what you recommend now, what you do yourself.
And before you answer I want to tell you, I had recently found out that my hemoglobin A1C was a little high, was in a pre-diabetic range. And I’m not exactly a carb junkie and I read that also protein jacks up your insulin levels, it also increases mTOR activation. And if I say anything, and it’s wrong, you can feel free to correct me later, Christian, but I started reining in my protein because at that time, I wasn’t training often enough to handle the amount of protein that I was eating.
And Gisele was putting in double chicken breasts in the salads that she was making. And she probably ate maybe half of one chicken breast and then I would just eat all the other thing. And now I had her only use one chicken breast for both of us. And I would still eat the same amount because I’m just an unconscious eater a lot of the time.
But man, what do you have to say about systemic inflammation, how we can affect it with diet and supplementation, and also maintaining insulin sensitivity so we can be healthy and maintain this great physique that we’re building with all this exercise that you’re recommending.
Christian Thibaudeau: Well, first of all, I really agree with the point you made about eating too much protein. First of all, the first step I did myself was – except for some rare cases – I actually stopped consuming any powder protein, even around workout, I will take amino acids, but I don’t take powder protein anymore.
Ted Ryce: Interesting.
Christian Thibaudeau: Except if I’m traveling, for example, the first day, I know I’m not going to be able to go grocery shopping so I might have a shake or to just to get some protein in. But at my house under normal circumstances, I don’t take any protein shakes, because protein shakes are highly, highly insulinogenic.
So, they do release a lot of insulin, maybe not as much as the same amount of carbs but it still is fairly significant. I also find protein powders to be pro-inflammatory. So, that was the first step I took was actually stopped taking any powdered protein. The only complete protein I take in are like solid food protein like fish, like chicken, some red meat, mostly bison or other wild meat. But cutting out that powder protein really made me leaner and flush a lot of excess water.
And you have to remember that water retention is one of the best signs of systemic inflammation. For example, a typical bodybuilder looks bloated because he retains water, “So, it doesn’t matter it’s only water when I get ripped to my contents that water will just flush away,” of course, but the fact that you are retaining part of the Pacific Ocean on your body, tells me that there is something wrong.
The body doesn't hold water for fun. Holding water is a defense mechanism, it's not something that your body is looking forward to as, "Hey, let's carry seven more pounds on my body under stress, my structure is even more, that is going to be fun." it doesn't think like that, right? So, when you are retaining excessive water, it is a sign of systemic inflammation, and it means that something is wrong with you.
And instead of saying, well, it doesn't matter, it's just water. It is wrong, it does matter. So look for what is causing that inflammation and get rid of it, because in the grand scheme of things, keeping your body healthier, reducing the load on your body, the stress on your body will make you progress much faster, and also age better and be healthier. So that's one thing.
People don't need as much protein as they think, especially if they're natural, because you can't even utilize that to build muscle anyway. I mean, past, I would say 0.8 grams per pound, or one gram per pound. At the very, very end, if you're really training hard, there's no added benefit in taking on more protein, you're not going to use that to build muscle, you're just going to turn that into sugar, so in glucose.
So, it also creates an overload on the digestive system. You have to understand that protein foods are acidic, and you want your diet to be as alkaline as possible. So for every x amount of protein you're taking in a meal, you want at least double that in veggies, especially green veggies, but any kind of veggies will do, and some fruits, due to counterbalance the acidic nature of the protein food.
And that's not enough to say, well, I'm going to eat green veggies, like a ton of veggies in the evening. No, you need veggies or fruit at every meal, because you don't want any of the meals to be acidic. People don't understand how the acid/alkaline balance works. All right, they say well, they point out, "Well, it's proven that the pH of the body, the acidity of the body never changed throughout the day, so the acid/alkaline theory is bullcrap." No, it's because you don't understand how it works.
Yes, if you measure the acidity of your body, it's always pretty much the same. But that is not because there's no impact on consuming acid or alkaline foods. It's because your body is great at rebalancing itself. But we want to avoid your body working extra hard to rebalance itself. For example, if you consume a high acid load in a meal, right, and you don't have the alkaline load to compensate, your body has to use its own resources to rebalance its Ph.
So now in your body, you have several substances that can be used to do that. First of all, you have calcium and phosphorus, so you can actually break down bone to mobilize and force that calcium to de-acidify your body. With women, that can lead straight to osteoporosis. But that can also make your bone a bit weaker and more likely to get injured.
Now, you can also use glutamine. So the amino acid, glutamine, in a very high amount can de-acidify the body. So if I'm eating an acid load, I can actually break down muscle tissue, which is protein, to release glutamine to de-acidify the body. So I'm basically eating my muscle to reduce the acidity of my body. The last substance you can use is sodium bicarbonate, that can be produced by the pancreas or by the kidneys. So it actually stresses the insulin system to produce sodium bicarbonate or it can stress the kidneys.
And any way you look at it, if you don't consume alkaline food to compensate acidic food, you are mobilizing elements that cause stress on your body. Of course, you maintain a stable pH because the body cannot function if the pH is out of whack, but it's what the body is doing to keep in balance that has a negative impact. If you constantly—see they are aware that is, if I'm overconsuming protein to get more muscle, I could actually lower my muscle gain by having to break down muscle tissue to de-acidify the body with glutamine. See how messed up that is?
Ted Ryce: Yeah, absolutely.
Christian Thibaudeau: So, you don't need a very high level of protein to build muscle. The strategy I personally use; I only have three solid meals per day, sometimes I even have two, but it's still, let's say three solid meals, which are acceptable amount of protein, lots of green veggies. Normally, I’ll have like three stalks of broccoli, some cucumbers, then I will have fats in there. So I will have one teaspoon of olive oil, and one teaspoon of fish oil, sometimes also have one teaspoon of coconut oil, it really depends.
And if I want carbs, normally it’s going to be fruits that are low in glucose, for example, or iron fibers, so berries. I actually like pineapple even though it's high-ish in glucose because pineapple has anti-inflammatory effect, so it actually compensates. Mangoes are pretty good in fighting inflammation also. So these are good choices.
I personally don't eat a lot of rice, it's just because I don't really like it. But I don't see it as a problem, as long as the quantities are kept fairly low. And most people who say they don't handle carbs well, it's often times because they have too much at one sitting. So, you can have—me, I think 200 grams of carbs per day will have a totally different impact on how you look if you eat it all at once, or if it's spread over four meals, for example.
Because if I'm having like 200 grams of carbs at dinner, like from rice, or from bread or whatever, if I don't handle carbs well, I'm going to blow it up really easily from that causing water retention, which is a sign of inflammation, systemic inflammation, probably in the digestive system. That's why people who also are gluten sensitive, will get water retention when they eat some type of carbs because it's a reaction to the gluten that causes inflammation, that causes water retention. So these are recommendations I made.
Now, as far as my dietary guidelines go, personally, I started to have really good results when I added fats in my diet. I made the same mistake that most people make when they go on “low carbs” diet. Now to me, low carb is anything below 100 grams of carbs means it doesn't have to be ketogenic to be low carbs, but if you go low-ish carbs, most people, they just lower carbs, but they don't increase their fat and they feel like crap.
And since they don't have a steady energy source from their diet, because if you have no carbs or very little of it, you have very low fat, and you have protein, and protein is not really efficiently used for energy purposes. So what happens is that you actually elevate cortisol throughout the day because you need to cortisol to mobilize energy. So that makes it really, really stressful on the body, really hard to build muscle.
Now, for me, I started to feel good and perform well and look good when I added fat to my lowish carb diet. So again, three times a day, I have one teaspoon of olive oil, one teaspoon of fish oil, and sometimes I'll have coconut oil in there. I think that it's really important to have a balance of fat. A lot of people start taking fish oil and they don't notice anything. It's because you need a balance in all the types of fat: saturated, monosaturated, polyunsaturated.
So you can't just jack up the polyunsaturated like fish oil and expect drastic results; you need a balance of all the fats. So that's why I like to combine fish oil and olive oil. And since I'm eating either chicken or beef, then I do have my saturated fat in there, which you need. You do need saturated fat to keep cholesterol and testosterone high. And if I don't have red meat on a day, I'll have coconut oil to have my saturated fats in there. So you need a balance of all the facts, not just really elevate the ones that are perceived as the good ones. All fats, all fatty acids can have a positive impact as long as you're in proper balance.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so well said I was listening to Udo Erasmus the other day talking about that. So just so people listening can understand. So, you're having your saturated fat from your beef or your chicken. If you don't know that…
Christian Thibaudeau: People don't understand that chicken is actually about – the fat in chicken is about 50% of it is saturated. So it's not like there is zero saturated fat in chicken. So you can have some obviously beef is about 60/70% of its fat is saturated, but it's a better source of it. But I also eat like eggs in the morning and I always keep the yolks in there. Normally, I have three or four eggs in the morning.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, cool. So right you're getting this mixture of fats, and fats are super important, as you said hormone production. And you're having the monounsaturated fat olive oil, your polyunsaturated omega threes from the fish oil. So is that what you recommend for like the anti-inflammatory part? Do you take any other supplements other than the fish oil to help with that, the systemic inflammation? Ted Ryce: I do take high amounts of curcumin on a daily basis, but it has to be with piperine because it improves absorption. And curcumin has to be consumed at the same time as fat. So it is what my main meals. I personally take as much as three grams of curcumin three times a day. But that's because studies have shown that high doses of curcumin actually improve kidney function, or in people who are at risk of kidney problems.
So I went with the highest dosage recommended in the studies, which was nine grams. But for most people, I would say that 500 mg of curcumin with piperine and fat at the same time will be really effective at lowering systemic inflammation. People who are training hard, so putting a higher load on their body, are probably looking at taking a gram three times a day.
Ted Ryce: Got it. And I was reading that when you just take the curcumin by itself or turmeric by itself. It tends to get absorbed in the small intestine instead of affecting you more systemically.
Christian Thibaudeau: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: So that's why you take the fat and the piperine, which is a compound to help with absorption to get it past the small intestine and get it into circulation throughout your entire body.
Christian Thibaudeau: Exactly. I also like to take glutamine.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, you said high doses of glutamine. How many grams are we talking about? And when do you take them?
Christian Thibaudeau: It depends on the why I'm using it. To me, it took me a long time to start taking glutamine, for a simple reason. I was there, I was a young kid training hard when glutamine first started becoming popular. I mean, I'm pretty sure you remember that, about 12 years ago, maybe 1,5 glutamine was touted as the most anabolic new supplement – was the next creatine because it's the most abundant amino acid in muscle, so you need it to build a lot of muscle. So if you really douse glutamine, you're going to build a lot of muscle. And like most people, I started using it and saw no difference in muscle growth.
Ted Ryce: Absolutely nothing. Yeah.
Christian Thibaudeau: Exactly. So that's why I stopped taking it for about 10 years, maybe more. Every time somebody would bring up glutamine, I just remember when I was a kid, it did nothing for me. But that's because I had the wrong mindset. I had the mindset of looking at what's going on on the outside of my body to judge if I'm doing something good, which as we saw earlier, is a mistake.
Now, glutamine in normal circumstances will not add muscle on you. I mean, it can contribute but it doesn't have that much of an impact. To me, the biggest benefits of glutamine, as I mentioned earlier, first of all, the glutamine can be a buffer agent, it can lower acidity from a meal. So that's one thing right off the bat, if you take glutamine you can lower body acidity, so you decrease the needs to mobilize your own glutamine, break down bone and stress the kidneys and pancreas.
So if I'm taking supplemental glutamine, it's just a way of keeping my body healthier, reducing the possibility of muscle breakdown, for example. It also improves the immune system. Of course, you can't really measure that, but you have to understand that immune system is the system that is the most important in the muscle growth and muscle repair process. Yes, hormone plays a great role in protein synthesis, but the initiation of muscle repair is by the immune system. And glutamine helps keep that healthy.
But really, what I'm using it for is just for gut health. It might be from years of eating bad, but I always had really bad digestive issues, and glutamine can solve that. So that's why I mentioned I doses. I take I doses but only normally for about 5 to 10 days. I will take 30 grams three times a day with my meals, first to reduce the acidity of the meal, but also to help with digestive system health. So that's for five to 10 days. After that, I just stayed to glutamine post-workout. And it's not even to recover. It's only to reduce acidity. And it can also help with digestive system inflammation. It could be a good tool if used properly, but it's not a miracle supplements, by any stretch.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, I'll tell you, Christian, I did the same thing as you with glutamine. I started taking it, noticed zero difference when I first started taking it with muscle, and then I found it later because like you, I used to eat like a bodybuilder, although I've never really called myself that, but that's how I was training, that's how I was eating. And I probably messed up my digestive health. Also, I've been on antibiotics a bunch of times, because I caught bugs in jujitsu, these nasty guys, man just rolling around on the mats, and they're not getting them cleaned, and had to take a bunch of antibiotics for different skin infections. And I just ruined my gut.
And I knew because I would get really bad gas. And, you know, my farts would just really be bad. And then because Gisele was complaining about it so much, I was like, I tried taking a probiotic, I've never really noticed that much of a difference in digestive symptoms from a probiotic, or prebiotic. But when I took glutamine, I noticed it really cleared things up. And like you, I don't take it all the time, but I was taking it in the morning on an empty stomach before. But you're saying it's much better to do it with meals, especially when that meal contains a lot of protein. Or maybe you don't have enough vegetables to balance the acidity.
Christian Thibaudeau: Exactly.
Ted Ryce: And then post-workout, you say is a better way to take it.
Christian Thibaudeau: I also used it when I was having Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS. And that's the only thing that actually made a difference.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, same here.
Christian Thibaudeau: And the last thing that I use it with is to curb sugar cravings, because I'm using mostly a low carb diet, higher fat diet, and I have a sweet tooth. So if you mix heavy cream with about 20 grams of glutamine…I personally use about 120 milliliters of heavy cream, some water, and 20 grams of glutamine. I drink that, it makes the craving go away pretty much instantly.
Ted Ryce: Interesting. And Christian, what about the different types of glutamine? I used trans alanyl glutamine because I read it was better. But I'm not really sure if there's any difference. What can you tell us about the types of glutamine?
Christian Thibaudeau: At the very least I would use the L glutamine instead of just the glutamine itself, it's a much better form. On top of that, to be honest, I haven't read into the more advanced variation that much. I couldn't really comment on that, sorry. It's pretty rare that I don't know the answer. But at this one, I don't know, I'll let you know.
Ted Ryce: Cool. No, I appreciate it. And I don't know the answer either, but I forget who I heard that from a read that. But I experimented with it, it worked. But I can't tell if it's any different than just regular L glutamine.
Christian Thibaudeau: Maybe there's a little difference if you take a very small amount, but since I prefer to use large doses for a short period of time, I doubt it will make a big difference.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, no, that's a good point. So, everybody listening, just go for the L glutamine. Don't get too bogged down. So many details you can get bogged down in and it will stop you from actually taking the action, which is what will give you the results that you're looking for. So keep that in mind.
Christian Thibaudeau: And the same is true for training, paralysis by analysis is a really real thing. So people who… we go back to our GABA people, often, they need to be at their very best, they will compare products for 20 days before making a choice that probably has no significant difference. They'll go on PubMed to make sure that they have at least 20 studies supporting a supplement before they use it.
But the thing is that they don't make studies for all the supplements because there's no money in it, because pharmaceutical companies cannot market them. Just because you don't find a study proving a supplement work doesn't mean that it doesn't work.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And experimentation is so important.
Christian Thibaudeau: Yeah, of course.
Ted Ryce: Anything else that you can think of to talk about managing systemic inflammation? We didn't really talk about insulin sensitivity.
Christian Thibaudeau: Yeah. Well, I think that first of all, insulin sensitivity is highly correlated with systemic inflammation and overproduction of cortisol. So, just managing systemic inflammation will actually improve the health of your insulin system and will probably make you—well not probably, it will make you more insulin sensitive. The less inflammation you have, the more sensitive you are to insulin. I think that it is true that being leaner makes you more insulin sensitive. But I think that it as more to do with the fact that when you're getting leaner, you are dumping a lot, or you are reducing systemic inflammation. So I think that fighting systemic inflammation is probably the best thing you can do to improve insulin sensitivity.
Other than that, of course, having your good fats in there, avoiding carbs that spike insulin excessively, but I found that taking carbs completely out of the diet is not the way to go. Now I'm going to give you an example. When I did bodybuilding, I used a very low carbs approach, basically, I had almost zero carbs for my old prep. And when I tried to carb load when contest time came, even if I ate a lot of carbs, I could not load my muscles properly, it's like my body stopped responding properly to carbs, I just bloated it up.
I think that if you get rid of carbs completely, at first insulin sensitivity improves, it's not because in my opinion, you are reducing carbs, it's because you probably have more good fats in your diet. But at first, insulin sensitivity improved also because you're dumping lots of water, and you're dumping lots of fat, so you're becoming more sensitive, not because of the lack of carbs, but because you're giving a break to your insulin system, and you are also dumping fat in the water.
But the more you progress on that low carb diet, your body actually—it will become more sensitive to carbs, but it actually produce over produce insulin because it's not good at dealing with carbs because it doesn't see any carbs. So, after a while, you kind of lose the enzymes required to handle carbs properly. So personally, I still like to keep, or depending on the size of the person, but me, personally, when I go low carbs, it's about 100 grams of carbs per day. I still want some carbs in there to keep my body good at tolerating them and responding to them. I just increased my fats for the lowered carbs.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so you're not a big proponent of all the ketogenic diets and all the other super low carb people.
Christian Thibaudeau: If your fats are high. Even if your carbs are not like at less than 50 grams, you can still be in a ketogenic state. Let's say that I'm training hard, right? I'm likely using about 50 grams of carbs in my training. By the way, most people grossly overestimate how many grams of carbs they are using during a workout. I mean, there is no such thing as using 200 grams of carbs in a workout. Unless you're like a CrossFit athlete who trains for six hours. I mean, people grossly overestimate how many carbs you're taking.
Dr. Serrano mentioned that during a workout where you do 10 sets of 10 reps on a squat, using about 30 grams of carbs in that workout, so sort of people grossly overestimated. So, let's say that you are using 40/50 grams of carbs in your workout and you're consuming 100 per day, your brain still needs about 75 grams. So you are technically in a very low carb state because you're using more carbs and you're taking in.
And if your fats are much higher than your carbs, you will be in a ketogenic state as long as your carb intake is lower than what you need, not to function, but you need to fuel your workout and brain every day. So, you will get into that ketogenic state at 100 grams of carbs if you train hard and your fats are high enough.
Ted Ryce: Interesting.
Christian Thibaudeau: It might take longer to get there, you might not establish ketosis in two, three, four days, but if you do that without having a cheat day, after a few weeks, you are likely producing a high level of ketones. That's especially if you're using MCT oil or coconut oil.
Ted Ryce: So have you experimented with ketogenic diets before?
Christian Thibaudeau: Yeah. Well, when I did bodybuilding, that's why I did, I used the anabolic diet by Dr. Mauro DiPasquale, but it didn't work for me for one simple reason. It was, the carb load were not restrictive enough. It was basically two days of all you can eat. And me, I once gained 26 pounds in six hours.
Ted Ryce: Right, you said that, that's crazy.
Christian Thibaudeau: Yeah, I once ate 24 burgers in one sitting, and that's only because I had one fries on top of that. It was the 5 menu items for $5 at Arby's, so I had five of them. So, if you give me two days to eat whatever I want, I will go crazy. So, to me, doing that anabolic diet never really worked because I actually gained more fat than I lost during that weekend. And it actually pains me to say it because I actually don't really like the guy, we don't get along. But when I used a diet by Lyle McDonald, I actually had great results.
Ted Ryce: Lyle Donald, yeah, I can only imagine why you don't get along with him. He called me a chest thumping dip shit, before blocking me on Facebook, and I really didn't say anything but Lyle has some mental issues, although he's a brilliant guy.
Christian Thibaudeau: The bad thing, he’s a GABA-dominant person.
Ted Ryce: He’s a GABA-dominant person.
Christian Thibaudeau: But the thing is that we actually used to be like decent friends, we were online friends back like 12 years ago, 13 years ago, actually he was bouncing question about his training to me, about his speed skating training. And he was actually helping me getting in shape for television appearance while I was playing a male stripper. So we actually got along pretty well. But only when I started to have like, lots of visibility to T-Nation, it's probably the fact that some of my articles were edited to include supplement publicity, which were not written by me, that he called me a sellout and all that stuff.
So, I think that ever since then, we…He actually talked crap about me on this forum. I actually went on his forum, and I just explained myself logically, because I'm not an emotional person. So if you are accusing me of this, this and that, and I explained why it's not even possible that I'm these things. And I mentioned something. “Well, you accused me of like being on drugs, yet, you mentioned that Charlie Francis and Dan Duchaine are your two biggest influences in training in nutrition, while Dan Duchaine was the first drug guru, and Charlie Francis had a lifetime ban from track and field because he was doping Ben Johnson.
So you're accusing me of something, but you are admiring two other people for the exact same reason. So that doesn't make sense. So actually, after that discussion, most people on his forum were taking my side. So that obviously didn't help me in his view. So, we've been… I don't care because I don't waste time arguing.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. I don't have time for that, absolutely.
Christian Thibaudeau: Anyway, actually, that diet actually worked great for me, because he provided precise guidelines that avoided excessive bingeing during those two days. As long as it pains me to say so my best results were when I used the diets by Lyle McDonald. That really was hard to say. You can edit that out?
Ted Ryce: What’s that?
Christian Thibaudeau: No, no, I'm kidding.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, right on, and I don't have anything against the guy either. I've known a lot of people with, you know, kind of explosive emotional/mental issues. I would even interview him. I don't know if you would come on, or even if you would remember our exchange because we never met, it was just over Facebook. But anyway…
Christian Thibaudeau: It would fun interview, by the way, he actually did try to commit suicide, and maybe twice even. He has bipolar disorder. He actually went on to write a post on Facebook to explain that he was bipolar. He actually apologized to many people and stuff like that—not to me, but to many people. Yeah, but he's a really smart person. But no, there's definitely something that is not optimal.
Ted Ryce: My mom was bipolar. So I kind of –she didn't have the same sort of thing and there wasn't the internet around when she was around. But I kind of feel bad for him. But he is a brilliant guy when it comes to understanding this stuff. So yeah, nobody’s perfect.
Christian Thibaudeau: The problem sometimes is that he is amazingly smart at looking at scientific things, and just making them more complex. He is not great at…I think that oftentimes, he will, not make fun but attack some people like myself, like Polycom like other guys like that, for simplifying things. Of course, when we explain something, we don't use the complete science and use scientific lingo, because we're talking to the average person. I'm not talking to scientists when I explain the concept.
If I wanted to, I could write a review of literature that would sound like two PhDs worked on it. But my crowd is the average person in gym that need to understand why something works. They don't care if they don't understand the exact science, they need to know why it works and convince them that it works and make them passionate about that thing. It's different to write... You wrote like a paper on Olympic weightlifting that was like 300 pages long. Most people on the internet, and we have statistics about that, will not read past an article that is about 2000 words.
So of course, if you write something that has 20,000 words, it might make you look smart. People who share the same passion about knowing the little details, GABA dominant people, will read that article, because they like that, but most people, they won't read it. And really, the point of an article, the point of a seminar, the point of a podcast is not to show how smart you are. These things are to help people being better, give them tools to improve their living.
If you want to look smarter, go in with people that are the same type and do a circle jerk. But it's not the same thing and don't criticize people because they are appealing to a mass-market audience. It feels some time that Lyle MacDonald attacks everybody that has a small amount of popular success. Why? It's because he doesn't get it. It doesn't get it. Everybody recognizes that he's smart. But his stuff appeals only to people who are like GABA dominant people and maybe his peers, people he feels are intellectual inferiors are getting more traction. It's not there are intellectually inferior, it's because they know that vulgarization is more effective than scientific lingo.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, well said. That's why I really appreciate you. I'm somewhere in the middle. I mean, I deal with people. I'm not teaching sports scientists and that, I'm teaching people who have different careers, who have no time or patience to learn all the different jargon so they can understand how they need to lose fat and how they need to train, how they need to eat. So that's why I really appreciate you, what you do.
And absolutely, man and it's such a pleasure to have you on here to just share your experience, your wisdom, all your knowledge. And Christian, well, last time you spoke about loaded stretching, we didn't even have time to get to it. But maybe we can have another in a short while, maybe in a month.
Christian Thibaudeau: Well, we still have genetics to talk about.
Ted Ryce: Oh, yeah, we didn't even talk about it. So true. Well, I could talk to you for hours. You're just a wealth of information. And you do such an amazing job at breaking things down and answering questions and like you said, simplifying things so people can understand and go and implement it into their life. You gave them so much practical information.
And if you're listening right now, rewind this, go back to the part where coach Thib was talking about what to do for exercise, how often you should train, the things to strengthen your heart. The strength training medleys, the kettlebell swings, he gave you all sorts of information, he gave you all sorts of information on nutrition.
All you’ve got to do is go back and implement it. Take some notes. Yeah, let us know how it works for you. But coach Thib, let's wrap things up for now. If anyone wants to find you, they can go to www.thibarmy.com. It’s a beautiful website. You can see you're looking awesome ripped in pumped in those pictures.
Christian Thibaudeau: I wasn't even pumped, to be honest. I mean, there's nothing I hate worse more than taking pictures. So actually, we hired like a super professional photographer that cost like a ton of money, and the photoshoot lasted about, I would say, 20 minutes.
Ted Ryce: Oh, that's awesome.
Christian Thibaudeau: I didn't bomb, I just took off the shirt and just took some pictures and walked away. But it was a, to be honest, a great editing job. I look decent, but the pictures really do me justice. But it motivates me to get back on the fat loss diet again.
Ted Ryce: Wow. Yeah.
Christian Thibaudeau: You can't maintain that condition year-round if you don't take anything to help you.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so important. That would be a great topic too…
Christian Thibaudeau: It's just like the women fitness models and they have unrealistic expectations. When you see people like, I'm not even talking about bodybuilders because it's in a different class. But if you look at even natural bodybuilders or natural fitness models dudes, they are not like that year-round, they will look in shape.
They might be like 10/11% body fat, but they're not 5% ripped all the time. I mean, they dehydrated for those pictures. They probably dieted for 12 weeks just for that photoshoot. So, you can't look like that year-round and be healthy and happy and progress. It's the process.
Ted Ryce: And the diuretics and they clenbuterol. I had a firefighter tell me, he was like, “Oh, well, you know, I took some diuretics to do this photoshoot, they just pee all their water out. They're super, you know, there's just no water in their skin at all and they look shredded, the veins are popping out, the muscles are shredded.
Christian Thibaudeau: You can easily lose 10/12 pounds of water. But if most of that water is subcutaneous, it actually looks like you just lost seven pounds of fat. So if you are like 8/7% body fat, it just makes you look ripped. But the problem is that it is very highly unhealthy. And I'm really conscious about that because of my kidney issues. I mean, dehydrating yourself and a high blood pressure is the worst thing you can do for health and performance.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And that's what we're all about here at Legendary Life because there's nothing legendary about being in shape for a year, or for a few months, or for even a couple years. I mean, I want to be in great shape when I'm 50 looking at myself, and like you mentioned earlier, it's not just about how you look, but also looking at my blood chemistry. And looking at how everything is right, my systemic inflammation, my C reactive protein is good, my hemoglobin A1C is good. That's where I want to be in 10 years, in 20 years. And I know you want to be that way too. And that's what everybody wants...
Christian Thibaudeau: I want to be Mr. Retirement Home in 2040. The first bodybuilding contest among retirement people, so that's my objective. But I've known many people who—Dr. Tim Hall, big shout out to him, who close to 60, looks better than most people who are 35. Not because he's huge, but because he has great muscle belly, great health, great skin, and very lean body. So it is totally possible to keep improving the way you look and function as long as you keep your body as healthy as possible.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And on that, let's end this. We could talk all day and we will definitely have you back. Coach Thib, thank you so much. And remember, if you're listening right now, make sure you go to thibarmy.com to check out what Coach Christian Thibaudeau has going on at thibarmy.com. Christian, always a pleasure, my friend and can't wait till our next interview.
Christian Thibaudeau: All right, of course, thank you.
Ted Ryce: What an incredible interview, another incredible interview with Coach Christian Thibaudeau. I hope you enjoyed it. Make sure you check out his website at thibarmy.com. It's got a wealth of information on there, a bunch of videos, a bunch of training information. And I'm not going to do too big of a takeaway section right now. But what I will ask you is ask yourself, is what you're doing sustainable? Are you maintaining health or building health? Or are you taking it away?
Because for me, I was taking it away with all my jujitsu training, all my strength training. I looked great. I was ripped. I was built. Everybody thought I look great, but I felt awful. I was getting poor sleep. I wasn't eating enough. I felt terrible. My joints were achy. And it wasn't sustainable. And now I'm on this idea of sustainable fitness. Why? Because who cares if you're in badass shape for six months, or one year or even three years or whatever? How about 10 years.
I want to be doing things that I can't do now when I'm 50, that's my goal. And I want you to have the same goal as well. And you can do it as long as you're smart, learning from guys like Coach Christian Thibaudeau.
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