Looking at the facts, you can easily confirm that life starts after 40. Business and career-wise, you are at your swat spot: young enough to be energetic and determined and with the right amount of experience to lead with a steady hand and impose respect.
Experience also makes you collected and confident; you know what you’re capable of, so you jump to new business opportunities without doubting yourself like you probably did in your 20s and 30s.
Still, to ensure your happiness and peak performance levels, you must have your health on point. Things like low testosterone levels, a decline in physical strength, or in your muscle-building capacity aren’t byproducts of aging but of lack of physical training, proper nutrition, stress reduction, and rest.
In this episode, the renowned strength coach, Charles Staley, reveals why your 40s are the perfect moment to take care of your health, get fit, and get a leaner body for life.
He explains what it means to have a fit body, how to choose the right workout, and the secrets nobody is telling you about getting healthy. He also uncovers the truth behind the “no pain, no gain” approach, how and when to deload, and why social support is crucial for getting healthy.
Plus, he debunks the myths about low-carb diets, shares the #1 tip for longevity, and so much more. Listen Now!
Prominent both in the United States and across the globe, Charles is recognized as an authoritative coach and innovator in the field of human performance.
His knowledge, skills, and reputation have led to appearances on NBC’s The TODAY Show and The CBS Early Show, along with numerous radio and podcast appearances.
He has also authored more than a thousand articles for leading fitness publications and websites and has lectured to eager audiences around the World.
Often referred to as a visionary, an iconoclast and a rule-breaker, his methods are leading-edge and ahead of their time, capable of quickly producing serious results.
Charles is not only a thinker but also a doer: At age 62, he competes in the sport of raw powerlifting and is a 3-time World Champion.
Connect to Charles Staley
- What does it mean to be fit?
- Why we need to sit less and move more
- 5 tips to prevent injuries when you exercise
- The number #1 key to longevity
- 4 things you need to know about getting fit
- How to choose the right workout for you
- No pain no gain? Discomfort, ‘good pain’ and knowing when to stop
- How and when to deload?
- The truth about low-carb diets
- Why getting fit requires social support
- Why individualized coaching matters for fitness success
- And much more…
120: Charles Staley: How To Be Surprisingly Strong and Fit Over 40
492: Peak 40: The New Science of Upgraded Health for a Leaner, Stronger Body and a Sharper Mind with Dr. Marc Bubbs
368: Fit Over 40: Everything You Need To Know About Nutrition, Training, Sleep & Longevity with Dr. Mike Nelson
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Podcast Transcription: Fitness Over 40: Top 7 Tips To Stay Fit As You Get Older with Charles Staley
Ted Ryce: Today, I have my friend and world known strength coach, Charles Staley, back on the show.
And now let’s talk about what Charles is here to—the topics he’s going to cover, because we’ve covered some really important things. We’re going to cover fitness, how you should define fitness for yourself, and not let anybody else do it for you, any fitness guru or any of the YouTube podcasters or bloggers out there, how to define it for yourself based on your goals.
We’re going to focus on the types of fitness adaptations that you should focus on. Reconciling the needs with the wants; why you should do a little bit of the stuff that you like but the stuff that you need. And we’ll go into what we feel, or what Charles in particular feels you need for longevity, for being in shape for a decade or decades.
Because Charles is at the top of his game. What do I mean by that? He’s lifting weights frequently, he’s dead lifting over 500 pounds, and he’s not injured. He’s not one of those guys who needs the 45 minutes to warm up the joints and to wrap them all up, and then to go train. Charles is doing really well.
So there are many lessons to be learned from someone like that. We’ll go into the good pain versus the bad pain. And I’m trying to tell you some topics here, but what you really should know is this is a conversation with a super knowledgeable strength coach who’s been in the industry for decades. He’s trained way more people than I have, and we get to sit down and talk shop.
You’re going to learn a lot, something that will apply to you and something that you can use right away in your life. Enough talk. Let’s get to the interview with strength coach, Charles Staley. Charles Staley, welcome back to the Legendary Life podcast.
Charles Staley: Ted, it’s been a while, couldn’t be happier to be here.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, really excited. We’ve been back and forth a few times, had a bunch of phone calls. And I feel like every time we’re on the phone together, it’s something that should have been recorded because it was just packed with insight and information and could benefit a bunch of people. So, finally glad to be putting it down on tape so other people can hear.
Charles Staley: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Ted Ryce: And we’re going to be talking about some cool stuff today, but I’m curious what’s been going on. I know you taught a powerlifting course, you’ve been doing some seminars, what’s been going on with you?
Charles Staley: I’m doing kind of the same things that I always do. But yeah, so my time is kind of spent between training folks, both in person and online. But I also do a lot of writing, as for various websites like T Nation and bodybuilding.com and Inside Fitness, which is a Canadian publication, different places, and do an occasional workshop or seminar when people want me to show up, so we do some of that.
So that way, I’m not kind of overextended in any one direction. And I think I always recommend this for Fitness Trainers, I think you can kind of cross germinate, so to speak, so as I’m talking to a client, I’ll get an idea for an article and vice versa. So it kind of keeps me fresh, I think. So I like having my hand and all those little areas.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so important. And I’m beginning to be more like that, of course, you’ve been doing this for a long time, that’s how I found out about you, is through Muscle Media, and then reading your work on T Nation. And we’ve got a really cool topic today, we’re going to be talking about something that you and I spoke on the phone about, something that you’ve been thinking about a lot.
And I know this is going to help people get more clear about what they should be doing for themselves, not what the bodybuilding magazines say, or the podcasters, or the articles on bodybuilding.com, but what’s right for them. And let’s kick this off and say, fitness, what does it mean? Why did you start talking about this and explaining this concept?
Charles Staley: Yeah, I think fitness is such a loaded term in certain respects. And I know that you kind of understand where I’m going with this, you know, to most people, it just means looking good, like having abs and a nice butt. And, by the way, I mean, that could be what that means but to go back to the root etiology of the term, fitness really means readiness.
And it means that you can do the things that you need to do without getting hurt in the process. And this particularly applies, you know, like most of my clients are older people, because I’m one of those older people myself, so that’s kind of where all my thinking goes these days. And so this particularly applies to that, but the term comes from athletics.
Fitness is kind of something that has kind of filtered down from athletics. So if you think back a couple 100 years ago, if you did any kind of exercise, you were an athlete. A lot of people don’t really think about this. But if you go back 200 years, no one did exercise for the sake of losing weight or looking good, that just was not in the game plan. Like, if you did anything like that, you were an athlete.
So fitness means readiness, it means do you have the strength or the agility, or the endurance or the mobility to do whatever your life demanded of you? And that applies to all of us still today. Most people are not really athletes per se, but we need to have bodies that can withstand what we put those bodies through. And of course, ironically, the most debilitating thing that most people do to their bodies is not moved them.
So, fitness really is a way of counteracting the demands of our everyday lives. And one of those demands is just the fact that we’re so sedentary. That’s one of the most challenging things that most people “do” to their body, because it’s a lack of doing, but being sedentary is one of the most harsh demands that we place on our bodies. So exercise in many ways, it’s kind of artificial activity, it’s kind of replacing the activity that we used to have naturally.
Ted Ryce: That’s such a great point. And I don’t think people get that. Even my dad asked me recently, look, why is everybody so overweight when there are so many gyms, there’s so much information. There’s more information on fitness and nutrition and different diets than ever. Can you paint the picture— I’ve talked about it a lot, but I’m curious, paint the picture of the way it used to be and then what it is now for people, just to get people in touch with the environment that their bodies used to function in.
Charles Staley: If you think about it, most people today work in the information field in one way or another. So the vast majority of people, at least in Western culture, work at a desk behind a computer screen, on one level or another, but if you if you go back even 100 years, most people had physically-demanding jobs, so they worked in a factory or they worked in construction, or they worked on a farm.
And those sorts of professions are kind of being outsourced to technology now. In addition to your physical job, you went home and your home life was more physical because TVs didn’t have remotes. And you didn’t have dishwashers and washing machines or maybe you have them but they weren’t quite as automatic as they are today. So just life, you know?
It sounds funny to bring up these examples, but they are cumulative. There was not power steering in cars, you had to use your muscles to drive. It just sounds funny, but if you think of all the little things in your life, you know that stuff adds up. The biggest opportunity for increasing your energy expenditure is what’s called NEET, which is Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It’s not the exercise you do for an hour a day. It’s just how much do you move in the course of the day.
And of course, when you go back into the past, just the demands of everyday life just kind of forced you to move. And now, not only are you not forced to move, but everyday technology just makes it possible to get through your life without hardly moving at all. And so we have to kind of tend to that with artificial movement, so to speak. So yeah, it’s kind of an interesting subject.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And if you’re listening right now, what Charles is saying is something that is so important, it’s not that one hour that you did in the gym three, or four, or even five times a week. I’m doing a high frequency routine six days a week and I still feel like I’m a bit on the sedentary side, like, “oh, I need to walk more,” because I’m spending so much time with a podcast and writing, doing things for the podcast and putting together these workouts and programs for our coaching group. So it’s so important, and people have lost touch.
Charles Staley: Not to interrupt, but I was just going to make a point that our metabolisms have so much capacity and we don’t use that capacity. I was listening to a guest on another podcast, the Sigma Nutrition Radio Podcast, and I can’t think of who this was. But he was studying firefighters, these guys who get dropped into these forest fires, and they work for 10 days in a row and they’re just fighting fire all day long. And you’re moving all day long, because you’re in the middle of a forest fire.
When you sleep in your tinfoil sleeping bag with one eye open, hoping that you don’t get burned while you’re trying to sleep at night. And they measured the metabolic output of these people and they had some outliers that were burning, like 18,000 calories a day.
Ted Ryce: Wow!
Charles Staley: So if you think about how many calories, the average person burns in a day, it’s just a small fraction of that. And so I think the take home lesson is that our bodies are just really wired to move much more than we do and when you don’t kind of respect that in your everyday life, there are consequences.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, absolutely. I guess one of the big issues with that also, at least that people like me are facing with some of the injuries that I have, is also like riding the line between pushing your body so that the muscles stay healthy and strong and all those other good things, we maintain low body fat, but also avoiding overdoing it and arthritis and wear and tear, repetitive stress on our joints. How do you coach people through that?
Charles Staley: That’s such a great, great point. Because there’s a happy middle ground on a bell curve, right? So if you’re totally sedentary, you’re going to wind up with early arthritis, but if you just go balls out and you are just a manic athlete, and you’re just training constantly, you’re going to have early arthritis. So unfortunately, and this sounds so uninspiring, so I hate to have to kind of concede to this, but moderation is the best policy.
And by the way, I’m not saying I live it that way, like necessarily, but honestly, if you want to be as happy and healthy as you can be when you’re like 80 years old, moderation is kind of the key to that. So the problem is, though, is that, at least when it comes to the fitness world, we have aspirations, I mean, I have aspirations, I enjoy being strong, and I’m trying to get stronger. And I’m 57 years old, and I’m trying to improve my deadlift.
And to be honest, if my goal is simply to be as pain free as possible when I’m 80, I’m not sure that’s the fastest route to that goal. So you have to kind of reconcile those things, right? You have to kind of think, okay, where am I on the spectrum between being physically noteworthy? Because let’s face it, the activities we pursue in the fitness world, whether it’s yoga, or weight training, or gymnastics, or distance running, or whatever it might be, we tend to gravitate toward things that we’re good at, and you take pride in the things that you’re good at.
And we all want to be good at something and be noteworthy and be kind of respected for that. I think that’s a good thing, because I think that’s what keeps you kind of in the game. But at the same time, in addition to doing the things that are fun to do, which I think you should do, you kind of have to also attend to the things that you need to do. And so those two things have to be reconciled. And there’s no absolute answer to that, but you have to kind of choose a path that you can kind of justify.
Ted Ryce: Can you give some examples of that? What do you feel the majority of people need to do to keep themselves healthy? There are some maybe weekend athletes who listen to this, but the majority of people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, maybe 60s, they’re trying to be great parents or trying to be great business people or employees, or whatever it is. I don’t think too many pro athletes listen, although there may be. There are a couple of MMA athletes who listen, or amateur MMA athletes that I’ve spoken to, but how do we figure out what we need?
Charles Staley: Yeah, well, going from the assumption that you want to live a long, healthy life, I think that the two things that is kind of supported by science is the idea that you want to be highly physically active, and in a way that doesn’t injure you, and you need to maintain an optimal body weight. And I think that those are the things that kind of are first and foremost. And it just turns out that when you look at the research for longevity, and health, those are the two things that kind of pop up all the time.
So I mentioned a moment ago that I enjoy being strong, but we are not purely rational creatures. So you have to recognize the irrational components of your behavior and your fitness activities. And so for example, for me to be as healthy as possible, it’s not necessary for me to have a 500 pound deadlift.
Ted Ryce: Right.
Charles Staley: It’s way more strength than I need to be healthy. But that’s kind of what juices me up and kind of keeps me in the game. So again, I think it’s totally a great thing to kind of follow your passions and to nurture those things, but you’ve got to do the things you need to do. So in terms of motor qualities, or fitness components, do you have enough cardio respiratory capacity relative to your needs? Do you have enough mobility relative to your needs?
And so the axis I always look at with my clients is I look at things like strength, body composition, mobility and work capacity. I think there are other fitness qualities, but I think those are the four key things that you really want to look at. So that’s what I focus on mostly.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, strength, we’ve talked a lot about, it’s kind of obvious if you want to be able to pick up your kids or deadlift 500 pounds, or carry the groceries, or even go running, because the endurance is really strength over time. I think you’re the one who first said that.
Charles Staley: Yeah, that’s actually true.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And well, I’m ripping it off from you, Charles.
Charles Staley: Hey, I couldn’t have a better person to do it to me.
Ted Ryce: Okay, when I heard that from you, I thought it was so well said, everybody’s focused on endurance, or not everybody obviously meatheads, like us or not. But so many people are focused on that and it’s all work is muscular work. And there’s many different ways to approach working your heart. So we talked about strength a lot, body composition, mobility, work capacity, can you talk a little bit about how you look at those and why they’re so important?
Charles Staley: Well, one of the things about fitness that’s kind of unique, when I mentioned this, it tends to surprise people a lot of times, but there are no hard and fast rules about how strong you should be, or how much cardiovascular capacity you should have or how mobile you should be. So it’s not like you know, when you look at like health markers, things like your blood pressure, or your blood sugar, or your body temperature, there are hard and fast rules, like no one ever says, “Wow, hey, Ted, I got a PR body temperature today, it was 104, like, wow.”
Nobody says that because there are rules, there’s a certain number you’re supposed to be at. But there are no rules about how big or small you should be, or how strong you should be, or any of those things, so you have to make those rules for yourself. I think the key thing is to look at your everyday life and to see where am I struggling? I always say to my older clients, “What were the things that you could do really easily when you were 18, that maybe are not so easy today?”
Ted Ryce: That’s a good one.
Charles Staley: Is that like just bending down to tie your shoes? Or is it if you have to quickly step out of the way of an oncoming car, or whatever it might be, that will give you some clues in terms of the physical capacities that maybe you need to bring up a little bit. So when people ask me, “Hey, Charles, how come you never do any cardio?” And my answer is, “Well, I can’t think of a time when I encountered a situation in my life where I didn’t have enough endurance.”
Ted Ryce: Right.
Charles Staley: So, to me, if I were to go and run a marathon, would I have enough endurance? The answer is no. But I don’t run marathons. I don’t think that’s going to happen to me unexpectedly at some point. So, that’s why, and so when people ask why don’t I stretch? The answer to that is, I just can’t think of a time when I did not have enough mobility to do something that I wanted to do. So those are kind of the ways that you get those answers, I think,
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so do a self-assessment, ask yourself, okay, what could I do at 18 that I’m having a lot of trouble doing right now? Is it strength? Is it that I’ve got my big belly in the way and I can’t see things when I’m using the bathroom—for all the guys out there who have that problem—see my junk when I’m using the bathroom? Is it that you can’t? Because that’s a problem, right? It’s a big problem.
Charles Staley: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: Or reaching down to tie your shoes without being at the limits of your mobility on. And also, work capacity, which is something that I’ve been lacking, for sure, I can walk, no problem, I can walk for a long time. But I feel like if I ramp it up or walk 10 flights of stairs, I would have a hard time with that, at least at this point.
Charles Staley: Yeah. And so maybe you say to yourself I want to have the ability to run templates or stairs, or whatever it is. But the point is, you have to make those rules for yourself, you should not get trapped in other people’s definitions of fitness, because I think that’s not productive, in most cases.
Ted Ryce: People in the fitness industry love to do that. I mean, I’m guilty of that, too. I believe I said something like, everybody within a certain weight range should be able to do pull ups with their body weight, or should aspire to do that, or dips or things like that or basically just bodyweight exercises. But again, there’s going to be situations where just having people maybe on machines or doing isometric exercises, is a much better fit.
So I guess I’m guilty of it, but some people say some really ridiculous things in fitness. And it sets a standard that, I won’t even say it’s unreasonably high, but it’s maybe not specific for the type of people like, I guess CrossFit is a good example. I don’t hate CrossFit, but they prescribe the weights that you should be able to use for some of the wads and it’s just like, “Ah, it’s going to take a while to be able to do 30 reps with 315, or whatever, for your average person who is just getting started.”
Charles Staley: Again, I hate to kind of admit this, but there is a discrepancy between wanting to be physically superior and having great longevity, those two things don’t really match as nicely as you would like to think. If you look at most people who live into their hundreds, these are people who are not like exceptional athletes, they just have very moderate kinds of lives. So there’s no right or wrong with this, you just have to decide which path you want to take. And maybe you’re going to try to merge the two. So yeah, we have a lot of misconceptions about fitness and longevity, I think.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, I talked to some former pro NFL players who are big stars. Now, there are some people that seem to be exceptionally resilient. But for the most part, most people don’t seem to have...I’ve met several, probably 10 or so previous NFL players, and they’ve all had knees replaced or hips replaced or constant pain, and they were great athletes.
Charles Staley: By the way, yeah, not to cut you off, but when you mentioned that resilience, this reminds me of another point that’s important, which is that if you’re going to seek excellence in a particular physical activity, find an activity that is kind of consistent with your body and your talents.
So, for example, if you are six foot six, and you weigh 275 pounds and you’re trying to be an elite gymnast, you’re going to run into problems. By the way, that same person is going to run into problems if they try to be an elite distance runner. So you’ve got to find activities that kind of jive with the body that you have. Otherwise, you’re trying to put a round peg into a square hole.
And I think sometimes when you see people that seem to be resilient, it might be at least in some of those cases that those people pursued physical activities that worked for their bodies. So I think that’s an important point.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, great point, absolutely.
Charles Staley: Any kind of activity. I mean, if you want to be an elite distance runner, there’s a price to pay for that in terms of joint wear and things like that. If you are super, super obsessed about mobility and you become a yoga teacher, and you are just obsessed with pushing the boundaries of mobility, there’s a price to pay for that. Same goes for strength. Same goes for body composition. So unfortunately, moderation is king if you want to be here a long time.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so true. There was a yoga teacher, where I used to work when I first started working as a personal trainer in the Eden Rock, the guy ended up having his hip replaced, and like you said, he was always pushing the extremes. And while the extremes are sexy, the moderation is where it’s at for longevity. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, Charles.
Charles Staley: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: From Jiu-Jitsu and everything. I mean, that’s what I really want to be doing. I don’t even love strength training. I love the way it makes me feel. But it definitely wouldn’t be my choice for the most exciting thing to do. But I do it because it’s what I need, like what you talked about earlier, reconciling the needs with the wants.
Charles Staley: Yeah, for sure. And again, if you want to be an outstanding athlete in one of these areas when you’re younger, and you just are consciously aware that you’re kind of making a compromise, I think that’s fine, but you just should be able to rationalize whatever approach you take.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, you have something that’s really interesting. You said pain is a four letter word, which is true.
Charles Staley: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: And you need to develop a personal operating system when it comes to doing stuff that hurts. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Charles Staley: Well, I mean, I just think that one of the most common things that people do in the fitness genre that is completely irrational, is you’re doing your favorite thing, whatever it’s distance running, or bench pressing, or whatever it is, and something hurts and you know shouldn’t, but you just keep pushing it anyway.
And typically, what this boils down to is, you are afraid you’re going to lose your gains if you don’t just keep pushing. And this applies to anything from yoga to Jiu-Jitsu, to gymnastics, to distance running, to strength training. And strength training, since that’s kind of what I’m most familiar with, the most common thing is like the typical bro, who just loves to benchpress in the gym and his shoulder hurts, and he knows it’s stupid to keep bench pressing.
And he knows there are other things you could do that would maintain your fitness, but you just keep doing it anyway, because you’re afraid of losing your gains. And this is just a great example of how irrational we all are. And I think anyone who trains who just heard me said that will recognize this in themselves, we all do this. And there’s just no good reason to do it.
And one of the things I always tell my clients is that the activity or the exercise that is causing that pain is something that you have probably been doing a lot, and you’ve been doing it with a lot of energy. And that’s why you have that overuse injury in the first place. So if you’ve been benching hard to three days a week for 30 years and your shoulders hurt, the reason your shoulders hurt and your knees don’t hurt is because bench pressing doesn’t hurt your knees.
So the funny thing is that the activities that you’ve been doing the longest, or the muscles, you’ve been training the longest, have adaptations that are the most stable. And this is something that that a lot of people are kind of not aware of. So have you ever seen, I’m sure you have Ted, have you ever seen older lifters, guys like in their 60s, and they’re totally yoked from a lifetime of lifting?
But they’ll say, “Yeah, Ted, I can’t really lift heavy anymore. My shoulders are screwed up, my elbows are destroyed,” but they’re still yoke. And you’re like, how can you look like that and you can’t lift? The reason is because they did the lifting for 30/40 years. And those adaptations have now stabilized.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, they stay with you.
Charles Staley: The take home lesson is yes, you can’t afford to give it a break. And you’ll actually do better if you do because if you’ve got healthy joints, you’ll be able to come back harder. But it’s just this irrational thing when you—and it’s not totally irrational. When you put a lot of work, you’ve invested a lot of time and energy and sweat and tears into developing a certain muscle or a fitness capacity, I think in a certain respect, it’s reasonable to fear that you’re going to lose that if you discontinue that activity, but it’s usually not true.
Ted Ryce: One of the biggest lessons for me, was the idea of a de-load week. And ever since I started playing around with those, I do it every four weeks, some people would say, “You don’t need to do it every four weeks, you can do it every six or eight weeks.” But I have so many injuries and I’ve noticed that I’m able to prevent injuries in some of my older clients when we take a de-load week every fourth week. I’d love to hear how you approach de-load weeks and other things that you do to make sure that yourself and your clients are able to keep pushing while taking a strategic rest from pushing your body.
Charles Staley: Yeah, it’s such a great topic. And you know who’s done the most to advance that idea recently, and you’ve had him on your show, is Dr. Mike Israetel.
Ted Ryce: Interesting.
Charles Staley: Yeah. And his point is from an athletic point of view, optimally, if you are training optimally—in this case for strength or muscular development—you should need to de-load every so often, every four or five, six weeks. And the reason is because if you think about any type of fitness acquisition, there is something called a minimum effective dose, right?
There is the smallest amount of exercise you can do that will yield a slight adaptation. If you go any less than that, nothing will happen. So obviously, you can’t train at that level all the time, because why would you train to make the slowest possible progress? Doesn’t make any sense.
Then on the other end of the spectrum is something—it’s a term that Israetel actually coined called Maximum Recoverable Volume. And that’s the most amount of work you can do and still recover from and kind of come back to baseline. So you can’t train at that level all the time either because you’re going to need to de-load like every other week. So the question is, how should you train?
And probably the answer to that is—and this is borne out through the training of athletes across the world—is that week one is kind of like, minimum effective dose. And then week two is more, and week three is more, and then week four, or week five might be your maximum recoverable volume. And at that point, you need to de-load.
And so de-loads basically mean that you’re going to kind of cut the volume in particular, of the training for about a week. And maybe the intensity as well, depends on exactly what you’re doing. And then you come back, and you kind of start again. There are a couple of points to be made about this. First of all, not everyone can or will train hard enough to need a de-load. So if you’re not really ever training that hard, then you shouldn’t de-load because you’re just going to kind of de-train yourself, you have to kind of earn it, so to speak.
And again, this comes back to the rules of fitness, there are no absolute rules. If you’re happy with the amount of strength that you have, then your strength training can purposely be sort of mediocre, so to speak, because it doesn’t take much to maintain that and maybe you’re focused on other attributes, and that’s fine. But for any attribute that you’re really trying to develop to a high level, that’s kind of the model that should be followed.
And this pertains to injuries as well, because different tissues recover at different rates. And connective tissues, in particular, need a break once in a while even if you feel okay, because the funny thing about connective tissue stress is that you’re often not consciously aware of it. So you might feel like you’re fine. But really, you might be on the verge of a disaster.
So I think every four or five, six weeks or so, you should lighten the load a little bit and give those joints a break, let them recover. And I think that’s a good practice, and it’s something that I institute with my clients, for sure.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, very cool. And I love how you said that you’ve got to earn a de-load week, because if you’re just in the gym, and you’re there but you’re not really pushing that hard, do you really need a de-load week? And the answer is no.
Charles Staley: There you go.
Ted Ryce: Yeah.
Charles Staley: And so is that optimal for like, if you if you’re training for muscle mass, is that optimal? No, it’s not optimal. But maybe you don’t need optimal, maybe you’re happy with your muscle mass, and you’re good. And you could apply that same thing to endurance training or mobility training, for sure.
Ted Ryce: Hey, thanks for bringing up the metabolic recovery of the connective tissue: the tendons, the ligaments, the cartilage, all that stuff that we tend to totally neglect when it comes to training. There’s a great picture where a muscle is saying, “Hey, guys, I’m going to get big and strong,” you know what I’m talking about, right?
Charles Staley: Yeah, it’s totally cracks me up. I know, I posted that on my Instagram at some point, it’s hilarious.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And just in case, you’re listening, and you haven’t seen it. Then on the other side, it’s a joint and then a tendon saying, “Fuck you, you’re an idiot.” And that’s the kind of the thing, that’s what we were talking about earlier, riding that balance between working our muscles, which, work your muscles is really kind of easy to do, especially if you’ve got a good work ethic, so easy to do.
But then you end up like a guy who I talked to the other day, him and his brother, they’re in there, they’re working hard in one of the gyms that I train a client at, and the guy’s doing bicep curls and afterward, he’s holding his elbow like, “Man, my elbow hurts.” I’m like, “Yeah.” I didn’t say anything, because unless someone asked me, I don’t say anything. But I’m like, “Dude, your muscles are easy to work. It’s the connective tissue that really, you’ve got to pay attention to.” And that’s what de-load weeks help with.
Charles Staley: And by the way, that reminds me of a point that—this is just kind of a little rule of thumb that might be helpful to people. But when you train, you should feel the effect of that training in your muscles and not your joints. So the day after workout, if your muscles are sore and your joints feel good, you’re probably on the right track.
Ted Ryce: And if you got the other thing going, which is…Charles, it took me so long to learn that, where we’ve got the benefit, like just great information, experts like you coming on and doing podcast interviews that people can listen to and learn from. But back in the day, and I went and learn from strength coaches like Ian King, like yourself, like Charles Poliquin.
And man, I would be lifting heavy sometimes, I would be in a strength phase where I’m doing max strength, five reps or less and I would be able to lift the weight, but I would feel it all in the joints. And I thought, “Well, I mean, maybe that’s just what it feels like when you lift heavy.” And it took me forever to realize, “That’s not the right way to train, at least not to stay strong and to stay healthy.”
Charles Staley: Yeah, and it’s important to be in tune with your personality. I mean, some people are much more hard driving than others. Some people are a little bit more kind of phlegmatic. Whenever you have pain when you’re doing something, I wonder if you ever think to yourself, because this is something that goes through my mind quite frequently is, I don’t know if you ever wonder, have you ever thought about what your pain tolerance is relative to other people, right? Because there’s no way to really know.
Ted Ryce: Sure.
Charles Staley: Following what I mean?
Ted Ryce: Yeah, I wouldn’t say... I don’t like pain, but because of Ju-Jitsu. It made me able to handle a lot. But definitely, when I’m lifting, I stop. I can handle the pain in jujitsu, but if I’m lifting, now at least I stop. I’m like, “I’m going to find another exercise. Or I’m going to skip this exercise.”
Charles Staley: I’ve got a friend who I trained with them to Jimmy’s a guy in his early 50s. And he’s like, ridiculously strong. He makes me look like a joke. And this guy’s really, really an outlier. And I think he’s 52 and he deadlifts over 600, and he’s super, super muscular and super impressive.
So anyway, he goes to deadlift, I’ve never seen him miss a deadlift, he goes to deadlift, like 550 and he just stopped and so he goes, “My hamstring’s kind of funky.” And he goes, “Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on.” So then he tries it again and he bails again. He goes, “It’s not going to happen today.”
The next day, he comes in, the whole back of his leg is all black and blue, tore his hamstring. I’m like, “What? How could you not even know you tore your hamstring?” Like, it’s things like that that makes me wonder. I guess maybe I just don’t…Maybe it’s a good thing. I don’t have much of a pain tolerance. And so that’s what I mean about knowing yourself, like to know kind of how you stack up in that way.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, I agree. And I’m like that as well. I couldn’t tear my hamstring and not know it. I’m like you, I don’t have a high pain tolerance. I can handle it in certain situations, like I mentioned, but yeah, and I’m glad. I mean, that’s what happens to diabetics. Man, they lose the nerve that’s in their feet, and then all of a sudden, they’re getting their toes cut off, or even their foot cut off, because they pricked it and now it’s infected, and they never felt anything. So pain is just a message, right?
Charles Staley: Yeah. And it’s never good. And I’m actually doing an article for T Nation right now. I’m trying to come up with a bullet proof argument for why you should not train in pain, which sounds like the most comical thing in the world, because it’s like, so obvious, but we all do it. We all do it, so, yeah.
Ted Ryce: Right. One of the things that have kind of come up throughout the years is, people have a hard time, I think—I don’t know how your clientele is, but I work with people who are kind of disconnected from their bodies, for example, they’ll be doing something and maybe their elbow hurts and they’ll say, “Oh, that’s pain, I should stop.”
Or sometimes they won’t, they’ll feel something, they’ll keep going because...But then they’ll do something like a back extension and they’re feeling their back muscles, all engorged with blood and the burning from the hydrogen ions, right? And they’re like, “Well, I feel this in my back.” I’m like, “Well point to where you feel it.”
And if it’s on the side in the erector spinae muscles, there’s two big chords on the side of your spine, not really a big deal. But if it’s like shooting pain down the leg, or in the middle, or in your SI joint, that’s a big deal. Have you seen people kind of disconnected from where the pain is?
Charles Staley: Oh, yeah, for sure.
Ted Ryce: How do you coach people to differentiate between good and bad pain?
Ted Ryce: I think part of it comes from experience. And the example that you just brought up is one that I use all the time. As a matter of fact, when I have new clients do back extensions, one of the things that I actually point out to them before they do it, and I will say, “You know, when you do this, you’re going to have a sensation in your low back that may feel like that pain. And in reality, what it probably is going to be is that you’ve never worked those muscles before and you’re getting kind of a pump in your low back. Because you’ve never experienced that before, you don’t have the context to realize what’s going on.”
So I try to kind of proactively head those situations off, but the example you brought up is the most common of those, I think, that people experience. And so yeah, that it’s kind of a common thing. And it reminds me as a coach that we need to try to remind ourselves to be empathetic to people, we just sort of assume, when you live in this world, you kind of assume that everybody trains and the reality is exactly the opposite. Most people do not train.
The majority of the American adult population has never been in a gym. And it’s just, you’ve got to remind yourself. So for people out there who are fitness professionals, it pays to remind yourself that, hey, just assume that your client just has no knowledge of this stuff.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, great point. And I’m going to keep that in mind next time I’m having someone do a back extension for the first time because I should probably tell them before instead of after, so thanks for that coaching tip, Charles. So like, “Hey, I feel my back.” I’m like, “shut up. It’s your back muscles. You feel your biceps when you curl. Okay, then shut up and get...” I don’t say, but...
Charles Staley: Yeah, you think it.
Ted Ryce: Goes through my head, I think it.
Charles Staley: And hey, it’s okay to think that thoughts, but you just can’t say them. But yeah, I tried to hit it off to the past. So, just over 35 years of training people, I’m just kind of aware of the typical things that pop up so I just tried to warn them beforehand.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, you mentioned something about contextualization of information and how it’s an underappreciated skill. And you said, the older you get, the more that the itty-bittys matter. What do you mean by that?
Charles Staley: Well, again, I have to credit your former guest, Mike Israetel for kind of spearheading this idea and I think it’s one of his great contributions. And people should go back and listen to that episode, if they haven’t already.
Ted Ryce: It’s a great episode.
Charles Staley: Have you interviewed him twice, or I can’t remember, if you’ve interviewed him twice or once,
Ted Ryce: Just once, but I’m going to be getting them back on the show, for sure.
Charles Staley: Yeah, so such good stuff. But a simple example of this is nutrition. So let’s say you have body fat you want to lose, and so you start focusing on your nutrition. And when you do that, there are a number of possible components that you might kind of pay attention to. And so one of those might be calories, another might be meal timing, another one might be meal frequency.
Another might be supplementation, another might be your macronutrient ratios, should you eat high fat, or low fat or high carb, and so forth, and so on? Another one might be the source or the quality of the food you eat, like, is it important that your food be whole food, or should you be avoiding processed foods, and artificial sweeteners, and all that kind of stuff?
And so you have a wide range of things that could potentially impact your ability to lose weight when you’re putting a diet together. And so what a lot of people don’t realize is, in all areas, some of those components matter a lot more than other components. So, for example, in terms of weight loss, the number of calories you eat per day is—I’m going to just go out on a limb and say that’s 98% of the battle, right.
So for example, even if your meal timing is horrible and your meal frequency is horrible, your food is all completely totally processed and your macronutrient ratios are completely screwy, if your calories are where they should be, meaning less than what you expend, you’re going to lose body fat.
Now, you might be able to do it better by attending to all the other details, but you will lose fat. So in terms of fat loss, if you have your calories in hand and you have your macronutrient ratios where they should be, you’re pretty much there. And then the rest of it is just kind of details. And so things like meal timing and frequency do matter. But they matter less biochemically than they do kind of behaviorally. So in other words, I’m sure people out there have heard of intermittent fasting.
Ted Ryce: Sure, we get asked about it all the time, “Hey, have you tried intermittent fasting?”
Charles Staley: Yeah. And the thing about it is, I have two thoughts about intermittent fasting A, there’s nothing magical about it. But B, it’s a really great approach for a lot of people. And what I mean by that is there are a lot of people who don’t get hungry basically until noontime or one o’clock or so. And so for those people to hear an article saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you should always eat breakfast, and people who eat breakfast, statistically are leaner than people who don’t eat breakfast.
You know what, that doesn’t apply to you. Why would you put calories in your face when you’re not even hungry and you’re trying to lose body fat? So you’re on a calorie restricted diet, why would you ever eat food when you’re not hungry? Like, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. So for those people, intermittent fast is great.
But the funny thing about all diets that work and this this applies to Paleo, to veganism, to low carb, high carb, whatever approach, you know, Weightwatchers, intermittent fasting, these are all ways of tricking you into eating less. And that’s why they work, so there are two sides of the coin, they work but they rarely work for the rationales that are put forth by the people who support the diets
Ted Ryce: Charles, I don’t know if that’s true, man. I went from eating burgers and fries eight times a day and then I started to low carbing it, I went on whole foods low carb diet and I got results. It’s obviously the low carbs, it’s not that eight burgers a meal that eight McDonald’s hamburgers and meal.
Charles Staley: We’re not too good at like kind of identifying the mechanisms behind diets, and so the low carb thing is very interesting. And most people who have heard low carb advocates talk about this or have read books or articles on the subject, realize that there’s this thing called the insulin hypothesis. And what that states is that when you eat a lot of carbohydrate that increases your body’s production insulin, and insulin is a fat storage hormone, and therefore you get fat. And there are lots of problems.
It’s not that there’s not a kernel of truth in that, there’s lots of problems with that idea. And the first problem is, I don’t even hardly know where to start, first of all, eating protein increases insulin secretion, so but they conveniently sort of leave that out. The other problem is that even if you’re eating a lot of carbs and you’re driving insulin up, if your total calorie load is low, then there’s nothing to be stored as fat anyway.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, I tell you, I spent probably around a decade actually talking about, “It’ logic, bro, you eat carbs, it makes your insulin go up. What do diabetics have..?” And this is like, really, where my thinking was in sometimes what came out of my mouth. What do diabetics have? They have a problem with insulin sensitivity.
And most diabetics are fat, although that I don’t even think that’s true. Probably most of them are overweight, but not all of them. And it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t have blood sugar, or insulin issues, or high hemoglobin A1C. But yeah, that’s a hard one. And what you’re bringing up right now is so important. You can’t even... I know experts who get results. And when they explain why they get results, it’s still so obvious they don’t understand why, you know, from nutrition to training, it’s like, “Man, you get results, you just don’t understand why.” It happens a lot.
Charles Staley: You bring up a great point; people who are really great at specific things often don’t know why they are. They’re doing the right things, but they don’t know how to attribute which behaviors they’re doing that are responsible for the results they’re getting. And so you have to be careful.
I mean, you should definitely look at people who are successful at the things that you want to be successful at and you should definitely look at their behaviors, and put a fair amount of stock in that. But it’s amazing, there are people who are super successful, and they’ll attribute it to one thing, when really it’s another thing.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, I’ll give you an example. From a couple years ago, there is a guy who teaches a particular type of stretching and he attributes it to all this facial magic that happens when you do this particular type of stretching. And a lot of the stretching was actually isometric exercise, because you had to push in various positions. It’s like, “Man, this is just more exercise, it’s really light exercise, it’s isometric exercise. That’s why my joints are feeling better. It’s not the fascia like, oh, just people get really crazy in the fitness industry, they really go down a rabbit hole and don’t look at things very, you know, just look at the obvious things that are happening.
Charles Staley: Don’t assume that you’re rational. This is one of my favorite subjects, actually. And actually, when you said that, it just reminded me of another, I think, interesting... This is a little theory I have about low carb dieting.
Ted Ryce: Sure.
Charles Staley: Have you ever heard people say, okay, they start a low carb diet, and they suddenly say, “Wow, my energy is great. I don’t have mine fog now. I’m not dreaming of food all the time. I don’t feel as bloated as I used to feel.” And so they attributed that to not eating carbs. But maybe it’s not eating carbs that causes all those things, it’s eating too many carbs.
Ted Ryce: Right, so simple.
Charles Staley: The low carb diet just brought you back closer to a good balance, so it’s not carbs that make you feel bloated and brain fog and all of that it’s too much carbs.
Ted Ryce: And if you’re listening right now, pay attention to this. And perhaps some of you had some knee jerk reactions like, “You guys are idiots. Low carb is awesome. I don’t care what you’re saying.” Try to be more critical in your thinking. Because one of the things— Charles, you and I, we’ve got nothing to gain by putting out, “Well, I’m going to go ahead and call the truth,” right? The truth as far as our scientific evidence can give us at least.
And we don’t have anything to gain. In fact, it’s so much more lucrative these days to be extreme to say, “Hey, listen, low carb is the way, sugar is evil, it causes cancer to grow, even though ketones cause cancer to grow, too, but let’s not talk about that, because that doesn’t fit in with my worldview or my beliefs.”
It’s just, be more critical thinking and try to figure out why you’re having the beliefs that you have, and do your best to look at the evidence of things. It’s so important. What do you have to say about that, Charles?
Charles Staley: Yeah, and don’t be an ideologue.
Ted Ryce: Yeah.
Charles Staley: And what I mean by that, you know, ideology is an interesting thing, and it’s kind of a mental cheat sheet, it just makes it easier to make decisions. But sometimes that cheat sheet has the wrong answers, and give an example, I recently—I shouldn’t admit this because this sounds very kind of subversive, but I joined a couple of extreme raw vegan Facebook groups, just to kind of lurk.
Now, I don’t troll these people, but just lurk, and I just am interested in ideology and belief and everything. And so there’s this one group, it’s like a raw fruitarian something Facebook group, one of the most common questions that I see that people bring up is, “Is it still considered raw if I have hot tea or whatever.”
So these people are far more concerned with abiding by the rules of being able to call themselves a raw vegan than doing the right thing. Like, they’re not asking, is it healthy or beneficial to drink hot tea? That’s not the question. They just want to know if it fits the rules.
Ted Ryce: Wow, that’s a great point, yeah.
Charles Staley: And we do that in fitness. Some people are kettlebell lifters and other people lift free weights, and they don’t believe in machines, and so forth, and so on. And you should not be so romantically involved with an idea or strategy or piece of equipment, think in terms of what you’re trying to achieve, and then what tools you can use to get to that point. So that’s my kind of take on ideology.
Ted Ryce: That’s a great point and a great example, and it has to do with that, at least my opinion, that tribalism, we all want to belong to a group.
Charles Staley: Yes, yes.
Ted Ryce: And we’ll anything to kind of play by the rules to belong to the group so we don’t get ostracized and so we feel like, “hey, I really belong,” instead of saying, “Okay, well, what are the pros and cons of having hot tea? What are the pros and cons of using free weights versus machines? Let’s talk about this and think about it and apply some analytical thinking and figure out whether it makes sense, what’s really driving my behavior here or my beliefs.”
Charles Staley: Yeah, and then what people do is they get so attached to their belief system, that they sort of go overboard in trying to justify it. So one thing that happens—see, I’ll give you an example if I was going to start like a vegan movement—and you know me, and I’m like, the furthest thing from vegan, but if I was going to try to start a new vegan movement, and I wanted it to be credible and believable, all I would say is, you know what? We are vegans, even though humans are evolutionarily omnivores, we do have the capacity to be healthy on a vegetarian diet.
And although our ancestors had to kill animals to survive, we don’t have to anymore. So that’s our position.” And I will not say anything about how veganism is vastly superior for health than being an omnivore. I would not say that it’s going to save the planet. None of that stuff. I would just stop at the facts.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, I feel like we’re getting to a point where that—at least I see the trend is being the truth in marketing. And obviously, the truth is, at least in terms of exercise, and nutrition, the best evidence we have at the time and that kind of changes over time. But like you said, the facts, the best facts that we have at the time, it’s, I really see a trend going in that direction. That’s obviously what I’m all about.
And I think a good question to ask yourself is, would you change your beliefs if you were provided with the right type of evidence that showed you?
Charles Staley: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: I would in a heartbeat. I know you’re the same way because I’ve watched you evolve over the years of as I’ve been reading your articles and just talking with you. I know you’re the same way as well. I think most people are not. I think the neurochemical hit, because it seems like that’s what it is, that whatever, it’s oxytocin or whatever, neurochemical gets released, when we feel like, hey, well, this is where I belong and we’re going to do our best to kind of like root for this football team and support this team or nutrition approach or political party.
Charles Staley: Yeah, we derive our identities from being a member of a tribe. And it’s just good to be...I’ll give you a personal example of this, and it’s something I’m not very proud of. I used to be sort of very anti weight training machine. So I used to make fun of people who use Smith machines and light presses and pec decks and things like that, because I was a free weight advocate.
And I took pride and I kind of formed my identity around being a person who had good free weight skills, and I could do Olympic lifts and I was a good squatter and dead lifter. And it takes a certain amount of skill in my mind, the way I rationalize this, takes a certain amount of resolve and grit to learn how to use free weights, and so forth and so on.
And so I would make fun of people who use machines. And today, I realized how kind of stupid that is because machines.... And by the way, I would criticize machines. I would always say, by the way, Paul Check had a famous statement which was: “Machines are like sleeping pills for the nervous system.” I don’t know if you ever heard him say that?
Ted Ryce: Yeah, sure.
Charles Staley: So yes, there are downsides of machines. So, whenever I would criticize the use of machines, I would only point out the downside. So I would say, “Well ,when you use the machine, all you have to do is push the weight, you don’t have to control it and controlling the weight is a big part of the benefit you get from training.”
Well, that’s true. But on the other hand, there are a lot of benefits of using machines. And they’re too numerous to mention. But they require less skill, that can be a big benefit a lot of times. It’s not always a benefit to do something that requires a lot of skill. If you’re training an MMA competitor and they’re trying to learn 12 different martial arts, why do they then have to learn another skill, which is weight training, when you could just put them on a hack squat machine, and you’re up and running? You know what I mean?
Charles Staley: Yeah, Christian Thibodeaux was on, he made a great point in saying, let’s say you wanted to work to failure, because you wanted hypertrophy, he said, probably a deadlift would not be the right way to go with that because of all the other components involved, like your low back isometric strength for maintaining that proper alignment of your spine. Maybe a machine, or something less complicated, at least, might be okay for that.
Charles Staley: Absolutely. Or another example for me is that I’ve had a big knee surgery back in 1986, and I have restricted flexion in my right knee; doesn’t hurt or anything, but I have to lean forward quite a bit when I squat, that’s okay. It’s not a bad thing. But that means that squatting is useless for me for quad development.
However, if I put myself on a hack squat machine, now suddenly, I can train my quads, that’s a good thing. And so it’s amazing how prevalent this way of thinking is. I’m going to give you another example from a totally different field, just to add kind of weight to this phenomenon that I think people need to guard against. And this is a political thing, but I won’t get anyone pissed off here, I don’t think, but people talk about fossil fuels and global warming, and how like, we’re ruining the environment with fossil fuels, and so forth and so on.
I’m not going to make a claim one way or the other about that. But these people never talk about the benefits of fossil fuels. They never talk about the fact that the reason that there is less hunger than ever across the world, is because agriculture depends heavily on fossil fuels. And that’s how people are getting fed. That’s how we have a certain standard of life that we have.
So yes, there are always pros and cons to that particular approach or technology. But it’s funny how when you see people who are kind of from the green movement, arguing how we’re destroying the world with fossil fuels, they never talk about the benefits.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And it’s so important. One of my clients told me recently about business and being successful in business. And he said, basically, that if you want to be successful, you really have to control those emotional impulses. Why? So you end up making the right decision, so you don’t go down some path just because it felt right. Instead of analyzing, like you said, with a very controversial subject, but yeah, it’s true.
Charles Staley: Yeah. After you itemize the benefits, you might come to the conclusion, okay, there are benefits, but the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. But these people never get to that point.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And hopefully, we’re moving in a direction—at least some people are moving in a direction, maybe people who are still lost in watching Fox News, and CNN and whatever else, or just really stuck in that cycle, that news cycle of just the fear, the climate of fear, and we’re talking about the emotional side of things. So you stay that way so you keep making it appealing for advertisers to come on the show and support it.
Charles Staley: Sure.
Ted Ryce: But yeah, absolutely, man, it’s so important. And one more thing; I want to change gears a little bit and wrap things up. I want to be respectful of your time as well as the listeners, but you say everyone needs a coach and everyone needs support, whether it’s in person or online, a training partner or simply having family members. I feel like that’s so important.
I’ll tell you; Gisele and I, when we moved in together, a lot of things had to change. She was very different with nutrition. She’s a marketing professional, not a fitness and nutrition professional. Although, Charles, this is a topic for another time, she could probably write a better nutrition or fitness article than I can and the majority of fitness…
Charles Staley: I totally believe you.
Ted Ryce: Because she’s a marketing expert. It’s something I want to talk about some time, but for another time, but she don’t practice it and we’ve had these back and forth and I got her on board to become a little bit more healthier. And it made a big deal because I was starting to get fat simply because of this other influence that was in my life.
Charles Staley: Because she’s an amazing cook, right?
Ted Ryce: Yeah, she’s pretty good, she’s pretty good. But the quality of – she’s had to change the approach quite a bit to use better quality ingredients. So how do you view the social support thing? Why is it so vital in your eyes?
Charles Staley: Well, it’s vital because whenever—and this is by no means restricted to the fitness field, it comes into play anytime you are trying to be exceptional in any area of life. And that could include business or finance or spiritual or being a great parent, or just being a thought leader, whatever it is, but whenever you’re trying to be exceptional, you are, by definition, a minority, that’s the problem.
And so it makes it more of an uphill battle, if you’re the only person you know who is attempting to be exceptional in some area of life. And so I think that’s why you need to find other like-minded people. And there are two kinds of categories: one is just people who are into the same thing that you’re pursuing, so that you don’t feel like you’re the only person in the world doing it and you can kind of talk shop and trade notes, and that kind of thing.
And the other category is along the lines of a coach, or somebody who’s been down that path, maybe a little further than you’ve been and can kind of show you the shortcuts and avoid the problems and so forth. So those are the two categories. And yeah, I think that’s just super important.
And I think it sort of particularly applies to fitness when you’re older. And I think I mentioned earlier, most of my clients are older guys. When you are a typical 60 year old guy, and you’re training for your first power meet, it’s highly likely that you don’t know anybody else who can even remotely relate to that.
Ted Ryce: Hmm, yeah, so true. That point that you just made; “if you’re trying to be exceptional, you’re in the minority.” That’s an epiphany moment for someone listening like, “Oh, that’s why it’s so hard. Everybody tells you why you can’t do things or why you shouldn’t do things, or why are you going to eat that way? Enjoy it, have some wings, have a couple beer have another drink. Live life”
Charles Staley: And I don’t mean this in any kind of judgmental condescending way. Because although I’ve chosen to be exceptional in the fitness realm, kind of almost by definition, that means I’m not exceptional in other realms, because that’s not where I’m putting my energy. So this means all of us. So if I was going to try to be exceptional in some area of life, I would hunt down other people who are doing the same thing, or people who could kind of show me.
Ted Ryce: You know what’s really interesting, too, and I know you work with the same type of people I work with, because we charge a lot of money per an hour and you’re this world renowned expert, the most successful people in business are who hires coaches in this area. And I think a lot of people who maybe aren’t as successful, they’re like, “Oh, I can do this on my own. I’m a loser if I can’t do this on my own. Why can’t I do this? What’s wrong with me?”
Charles Staley: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: And it goes back to what you said, we’re all good at what we do a lot of, and then people—at least with health and fitness—spend a lot of hours listening to podcasts or reading articles. When guys like you and I, we do the same thing. But what you and I will get out of an article—and I’m sure you even more so because you’ve been in the industry much longer, what we get out of articles or listening to podcasts is very different than the average person. So why are you going to dedicate your life to doing this as a hobby—I mean, you and I do it because it’s our job—when you hire a coach and just get better results much faster. And you can go do something more fun than researching health and fitness information.
Charles Staley: Yeah, totally. And I don’t have a formal coach right now, but I’m in a kind of a fortunate position where I know, a lot of very, very talented coaches, a couple of which we’ve already mentioned, people like Christian Thibodeaux, and Mike Israetel. And I bounce ideas off these guys all the time because even though I think I know what I’m doing, we’re not terribly objective when it comes to ourselves.
I mean, I think just having a second pair of eyes that are a little bit more objective will give you some context about your own situation. We’re just not good at that. So I think ignorance is when you think you know everything. And so I think it’s the people who don’t have that assumption that are most likely to hire coaches. And so that’s why they make more progress.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so true. Well, Charles, it’s been awesome catching up. And you really did... We’ll have to have you come back on sometime in talk training strategies, because there were so many things I wanted to ask you about that were a bit more tactical. But I think what we talked about today was way more important, this mindset thing, how to look at things.
Because as I’ve gotten older, I started to realize, like, I’m sure you’ve realized, like this mindset thing, it’s way more important for people than I initially at least gave credit to. This thing came easy to me in a lot of ways, but when I see people struggling with it and it’s simply because they’re not looking at things the right way. And you helped immensely with that today. So thank you.
Charles Staley: Oh, thank you, one of my core ideologies, to use that word again, and I made a tweet about this the other day, actually, was that, “In terms of knowing what to do, we had that figured out much better than knowing how to get ourselves to do it.” So I think that’s kind of the underlying software of all this.
Ted Ryce: Absolutely. And Charles, if someone wants to hire you for coaching, because you do coach, are you taking clients right now? And if so, where can they reach out to you?
Charles Staley: Thanks. I appreciate that. Yeah, my availability kind of varies from month to month. Right now, I’ve got a couple of open spots for March. I usually have a spot or two open, but not always. But I think the best place to go is just to targetfocusfitness.com, you can kind of reach me from there pretty easily, easy to find on social media, Facebook, Instagram, all that.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And I would highly recommend you follow Charles on Instagram and Facebook, because you put up some funny stuff, man.
Charles Staley: I try to be entertaining. I sometimes annoy people, but I try to be entertaining.
Ted Ryce: Well, I find it mostly entertaining, so it’s fun stuff, so I always appreciate that.
Charles Staley: Cool.
Ted Ryce: Well, hey, Charles, it was a pleasure. So if you are looking to hire a coach, or if you want to learn more from Charles, because Charles has just got some amazing training information, as well as perspective on the training process, go to targetfocusfitness.com and from there, you can email Charles, hit him up for some coaching, if he’s got availability, or just read the articles and start to educate yourself, because Charles is one of the leaders in this industry and has been for a long time. So with that said, Charles, thanks so much, man, can’t wait till we do it again.
Charles Staley: Ted, that was a lot of fun, thanks so much.
Ted Ryce: I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I did. It’s just incredible to sit down with someone who’s been in the game for as long as Charles has and to talk shop with him. And I’ve been in the health and fitness game training people—strength coaching game—for over 18 years now.
So when I first met Charles, I was just starting out in fitness, I was just blown away by getting to meet someone who I’ve read his articles in Muscle Media Magazine and online on T Nation, great resources. I don’t think Muscle Media is around anymore, but T Nation is still going strong. If you’re interested, it’s a great place to read some of the Charles articles.
And let’s get to the takeaways here because this is the part of the show where I give you kind of my take on the interview and what I felt were some of the lessons that I think are the most helpful to you. Or something that really blows my mind and I just want to reiterate it because sometimes I feel like some of it may pass over your head, so much information is coming at you.
So let’s get to the first one, which is fitness, you’ve got to define it for yourself. You can’t let anybody bully you, including me, into doing things that maybe aren’t right for you. For example, I’ve said in the past, “I feel like everybody should be able to bodyweight squat,” which that’s not unreasonable at all. But I think everybody should be able to do a pull up, which isn’t that unreasonable.
But if you’re very overweight, or even if you’re 275 pounds of pure muscle, getting great at pull ups, that’s going to be very hard thing, but I think you should be great at them. I think it’s one of those things that will help you in your life. Not only will you develop this skill—okay, you see what I’m going, I’m trying to press the pull up on you because it’s something I believe so deeply.
But maybe I’m not right for you. Maybe that piece of advice isn’t right. So make sure you’re keeping that in mind when listening to people. Make sure whatever you learn from anyone, including for me, including from Charles, make sure it’s right for you. And the second thing is a great point that Charles brought up that being in badass optimal shape/condition is not necessarily congruent with longevity.
You can’t always just keep increasing the weight or doing harder versions of exercises. There will be a point where you’ve got to say, you know what, I’m good. I’m going to try to make progress. But I’m going to shift my goal from performance, whether that’s building muscle or lifting heavier weight or whatever it is for you to, “Hey, what I’m really going to focus on—and this is where I’m at personally, by the way – I’m going to focus on longevity.”
I don’t want to be in shape for this year and a couple more years. And then in 10 years, I’m going to talk about how I used to be in great shape to people and bore them with my ‘has been; crap, I’m going to still be in shape, still be a force to be reckoned with 10 years from now, 20 years from now, for as many years as I can keep going.
I want you to, when it’s your time to make that shift as well, if you’re getting too beat up in your training, it’s time to re-evaluate what your priorities are, and really think a bit long term. And the third thing is, how important having a coach is. You’ve got to have some type of social support. Maybe it’s your training buddy, who coaches you through getting a few more reps on the bench press or deadlift, maybe it’s someone like me, you join the coaching group and I get you through the whole process, even when the holidays show up, or even when a minor injury shows up. Or even when that exercise kind of makes your shoulder or knee not feel so great.
Or someone like Charles who can help you with the same thing. Make sure you are getting great coaches. And if you don’t have a lot of resources, it’s okay, keep getting the free information, listening to this podcast. I want you to listen. I want you to get better. I want you to become a better person. I want you to become more successful, not just with your health and fitness, but also every aspect of your life. That’s my goal for you.
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