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Muscle Building Training Series Part 4: Recovery Methods For Optimal Strength and Muscle Building with Ted Ryce

If you’re over 40, you probably have more “stuff” going on in your life than you did at 21, making it difficult to focus on eating right and training regularly. But, with the right type of training, you can still build muscle and get strong well into your forties, fifties, and beyond.  

In the first part of this training series, Ted talked about the importance of focusing on building lean muscle.  

In part 2 he shared 6 smart ways to build muscle faster. In part 3 he talked about how protein helps increase muscle size and strength. 

Now, in part 4 he will share the best recovery methods for optimal strength and muscle building.  

 Listen now!


You’ll learn:

– Passive recovery vs. active recovery

– Active recovery methods

– Passive recovery methods: The importance of sleep and how to get better quality sleep

– The negative effects of inadequate sleep

– One of the most powerful tools in your muscle-building arsenal

– How to improve the quality of your sleep

– And much more…


Related Episodes:  

Muscle Building Training Series Part 1: Why You Want To Focus On Building Lean Muscle In Your 40s, 50s And 60s 

Muscle Building Training Series Part 2: 6 Smart Ways to Build Muscle Faster 

Muscle Building Training Series Part 3: How Protein Helps Increase Muscle Size and Strength (And How Much Protein You Should Eat To Build A Muscular Body) 


Links Mentioned 

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Podcast Transcription: Muscle Building Training Series Part 4: Recovery Methods For Optimal Strength and Muscle Building with Ted Ryce

Ted Ryce: Welcome back to another episode of the Legendary Life podcast. I'm your host, Ted Ryce. This is the show that's all about taking your health, your body and your life to that next level.  

Today, I'm back with the fourth and final installment of our building muscle masters series. So everything you need to know about building muscle in your 40’s. Today is part four. 

If you missed part one, two, and three, make sure you listen to that. 

In part one: I talked about the importance of building muscle and why you should care even though you're probably more interested in burning calories at the gym or getting strong, but I go into why muscle is important, especially as you get older. 

The second thing that we talked about: is how lifting weights works to build muscle, the things that you need to do, because you can't just go into the gym and lift heavy weight or go to a bootcamp class and expect your results to happen. We go into specifics in that episode. 

In part three, we talked about: protein, and how much protein you need and what type of protein you should eat. So we covered a lot of information. 

Today, we're going to be talking about something just as important as the other aspects of building muscle, but it's the most neglected part of building muscle and that's recovery methods.  

So today is going to be all about recovery: We're going to talk about the difference between passive and active recovery and which one I recommend. We're going to talk about the power of sleep of course, and I'm going to talk about some active recovery methods that you can use to get better results, not just in building muscle, but making sure that your body is working properly so that you can go into the gym and push it and not be sidelined by injuries and setbacks and those types of things or problems with your mobility. 

Let's get to the episode. Recovery methods for optimal strength and muscle, you know rest is important, but too much of it can actually hinder your muscle building results and either lead to fat gain due to decrease activity levels. 

What am I talking about? Well, I used to believe that in my 20’s, I had to hit the gym hard, and then I had to sit on my butt on the couch or else I would somehow derail my muscle building efforts, whatever the physiological mechanisms were going on at the time, that was building muscle, I thought I would get in the way of that if I did too much activity. 

And granted, if you're playing sports, you're doing a lot of aerobic exercise, that can get in the way, but if you're sitting on the couch in between workout sessions or sitting in your desk, working a lot, and you're like, oh I got to take it easy today, I had a hard workout yesterday, you're doing yourself a disservice. 

Conversely, you can't crush yourself with exercise all the time either. Pushing your body too hard with exercise will lead to injury and burn out if not full-blown over-training, and I've been on both sides of this, push myself too hard where I got injured and then it took me backward. 

So, you don't need to make the mistakes that I've made in the past, and in this episode, you're going to learn some of the best methods of recovery around, and what I've found to work for myself and all my clients, and some of it's even backed by some research.  

So recovery can be split into two categories:  There's passive recovery and active recovery. Passive recovery is when you sit around, watch TV, maybe return some emails, but you don't exercise.  

Conversely, active recovery, like the name suggests, is when you use light exercise or activity to speed up recovery, and like I mentioned earlier, in my early 20’s, I thought I needed to hit my  

muscles hard in the gym and I needed to rest for the remainder of the day. So don't get up and move too much, because I don't want to disrupt my gains.  

Of course, at the same time, I was actually doing a lot of activity, especially on the weekends when I was going out clubbing till five in the morning, and in my mid-twenties, I started learning about the power of light exercise and other recovery methods to repair my body faster and improve health.  

And like I mentioned, there's even research showing that recovery exercises help athletes regenerate faster from competitions, and while I don't always look at what athletes do to guide my training, recovery is an area that I think has tremendous benefits for the health of athletes and non-athletes alike. 

So let's talk about some active recovery methods: So we can get really technical about this stuff, we could talk about techniques involving very expensive and hard to find equipment like Normatec boots in infrared saunas, but I want to keep this simple and practical and perhaps in  another episode, we can revisit this and talk about some more in-depth things, I know it's super sexy and enticing to talk about methods that use some esoteric piece of equipment or something unusual.  

So I'm going to keep it practical and simple today. So walking, instead of sitting around on the couch during your rest days, I encourage all my coaching clients and they can tell you, to get in their steps. This will help increase circulation, and that will aid in recovery.  

You'll also burn more calories while putting minimal stress on your muscles and joints, and if you haven't downloaded the free steps app for iPhone or the Pedometer app for your Android phone, you need to get that right away. And what you do is, you get a baseline of how many steps you average per day during the first week, and then you look to improve on that, up to10% at a time, until you're up around the 8 to 10,000 step range. That's the minimum amount of steps you should be getting in.  

And as I talked about in my steps episode, which was entitled, sitting is killing you, even if you work out regularly and here's what to do about it, I go a little bit more in depth. So if you want to check that out, make sure you listen or read that episode because it is in an article format as well in case you want it like that.  

So mobility exercises is the second active recovery tool: after walking. So walking is something that everyone does, and everyone should do more of. However, walking is not specific to the types of joints, well, it is specific to the types of joints involved. You're using your legs, you're swinging your arms from the shoulder, there's a little bit of rotation in your spine when you walk, as your left leg goes forward, your right arm swings forward, and there's some rotation there. At least that's the way it's supposed to work. 

And if you lead with your left leg and then your left arm goes forward too, you should probably see a doctor about that, and you also look very strange when you walk. So, mobility exercises is another great way to use light exercise to enhance recovery. And the thing about mobility exercises is they use a whole range of motion around the joint to increase circulation to the surrounding muscles. 

Since mobility exercises are done without weight or performed using body weight, this allows you to enhance blood flow without overloading any of the tired muscles. And in this article, companion to this audio episode, there is a link to several of my favorite mobility exercises, because it’s a little bit hard to describe, but you can think of quadruped rotations, if that means anything to you. 

You can think of donkey kicks, what you see a lot of women do with ankle weights on their ankles when they're extending, trying to work their glutes. That's another example of a mobility exercise, it can be used as an exercise.  

So, mobility exercises are exercises that enhance, you're not really doing them to build muscle. You're doing them to work the joints through a range of motion into to get the muscles around the joint full of blood or increase the circulation is what I should say, not really trying to get a full of blood, you're trying to increase the circulation lightly so that you improve the recovery to that area and also activate it 

And I’m going to do a lot more videos on this stuff in the near future, because mobility exercises are powerful, and if you buy the workout or any of my workouts, they all come with what I call activation warmups or mobility warmups, and I put those in, and a lot of my clients don't like to do them, but once they start doing them, their body starts feeling better, and you could make an entire workout of mobility exercises on your off days, in-between your workouts and you would feel a lot better for it, and you would feel better next time you hit the gym as well.  

So another active recovery method is massage: Now it's kind of passive in a way, you could argue because you're just laying there and getting rubbed on, but it's applying stress to the body and there's many self-massage techniques and tools as well.  

If you've ever used a foam roller or massage balls or lacrosse balls became very popular to use, by the way don't use the hardest thing that you can get, that's not the idea. That's like saying more exercise is better, it's not. The right amount of exercise is better, just like the right amount of density or hardness is better for you.  

And if you go too hard or buy a massage tool, that's too hard you can really cause some inflammation, I've done that before. So make sure you get something that's appropriate.  

There's these white foam rollers that go for about 20 bucks on Amazon, those are good ones to start with. There's these denser foam black ones, those are good too, especially on your spine, but the balls, you don't want to use very hard balls. I really like using tennis balls actually.  

So if you're a tennis player, you can use those to do a little bit of massage, and if this sounds like, I don't even know what you're talking about Ted, this is so foreign to me, check out my article, I’ll have linked some self-massage techniques that you can do.  

By the way, research has been back and forth on whether or not massage actually helps, and here's my take on it, because I do appreciate massage, is that it depends on the level of pressure that you're using or the level of pressure that your massage therapist is using. 

I've walked away from foam rolling sessions, feeling worse than when I started, because I was too aggressive with it and also I didn't focus on my breathing, which is another key thing that you should do during self-massage, or even getting a massage from a massage therapist. 

The other thing: people love deep tissue massages, and perhaps it does work for you, I'm not going to say that it doesn’t.  For me, I've left massages feeling so inflamed, like wow, I need an Advil after that massage, and some people have said, Whoa I feel better the next day. I didn't feel better the next day, I've had that several times.  

So you have to be a little bit careful, especially if you're like me and you get inflamed a bit easier. So make sure that you're not just liking the massage because it's really hard and tough and make sure you're actually getting a benefit from it, because you don't want to have to use some ice afterwards because you went too hard or you told your therapist to dig in deeper with their elbow. 

And I know massages are expensive, if you can swing them definitely do it. Find a good professional, make sure that they give you the right amount of pressure and make sure to give them feedback as well.  

I've had some great massage therapists that I've worked with that have got a lot of, I've actually had a lot of massages in my life ever since I got into the fitness business and started working in spas, and there’s different levels of skill definitely, and some of them were a bit woo woo, so you have to find one that works for you.  

Of course, if you can't afford it, I totally understand. These days, I don't get regular massages while in the process of building up Legendary Life and leaving my personal training business, but you can do a lot on your own. It's just not nearly as good as some skilled hands.  

And again, if that was mostly foreign and you're like, I don't even know what you're talking about, other than getting a massage. You haven't heard of the foam rollers or the lacrosse balls, tennis balls, whatever, come to the website, check out the article and click on the videos and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about, and I want you to try it if you've never tried before, if you suffer from tightness or restricted mobility 

Because you can actually improve your mobility right away, if you do the right things, and I use a lot of that with my personal training clients. So that's the last one I'll talk about.  

Let's talk about some passive recovery methods: And really, there's not too much to say about passive recovery in general, because you're just kind of lounging around. However, I want to talk about one method of passive recovery that we're all doing anyway, and that most of us could do better. What is that? Sleep.  

And while we all sleep, many of us either don't get quality sleep or enough hours of sleep, and though I've covered sleep extensively on my podcast with my own episodes or interviews with Dr. Kirk Parsley or Shawn Stevenson, today I'll briefly go into the importance of sleep and how to get better quality sleep. 

So I used to never care about sleep, and if you've been listening to the podcast, you've probably heard a bit of this story before, because in my early 20’s, I just wanted to go out and have fun, like I mentioned earlier. I was out in the clubs, 5 am.  

As I started to train more people in the business, I trained a lot of club owners, restaurant owners when I initially got started, and while it was good for my social life, I had places to go almost every night. I used to go on Wednesdays to the Forge, which is a famous restaurant in Miami beach, it's been there for a long time. I used to go there and Wednesdays, because I used to train the owner. 

So I was there Wednesdays, Thursday, sometimes Fridays and Saturdays as well because there was a club right next to it, I trained the owners Sharif and I used to drink there for free, and I used to eat there for free and it's a high-end restaurant, and I was just building up my personal training business at the time. 

I was like, yeah, let's go and do it, and we wouldn't have dinner till like 10 pm on a Wednesday night, which right now that's like, I'm in bed by 10 pm, but I used to do that all the time and I didn't respect sleep, because I didn't understand it. I didn't view it as how I think about it today, which is a powerful strategy to boost my results from exercise, and also to improve my health. 

Instead, I was always looking for this supplement or magic exercise that would make all the difference, and let me tell you, I've been in this business for 18 years. After an exhaustive search lasting many, many years I've found that it doesn't get much better for supplements than protein powder and creatine monohydrate. 

Those are simply the best ones and you don't even need to eat the protein powder, it just maybe gives you a little bit of a benefit or some convenience, because it's a little bit hard to eat all the protein for some people, but creatine monohydrate doesn't get better for that, maybe add in some citrulline malate and then you're good to go.  

And as far as special exercises, let me tell you something. If you're still looking for a special exercise, you're thinking at the amateur level of strength training, of exercise in general. There are no special exercises, there is no exercise that you will do that is going to take you to the next level. 

Now, maybe there's a way of, like if you're using poor technique and you learn how to use poor technique and use better technique. Okay, that'll give you a bump, but it's not because of the exercise that you're doing, it’s because now you're doing it right. So, does it matter if you're doing incline chest plies or decline chest plies? 

Yeah, it matters a little bit, you recruit the upper fibers of your pectoralis muscle, your chest muscle when you do the incline, and you use some different fibers when you do the decline, but that stuff, that's really small details. There's not going to be anything that really makes a big difference, it’s more in the way you structure your routine, how many times you hit muscles per week. 

All this stuff that we went over in the second episode, where we got into the importance of lifting and how to do it better, those are all the things that matter the most, the exercises just target the muscles.  

So, as long as you're targeting the muscles, the other stuff that I went over is more important. 

The point being, there are no special supplements or exercises out there, it's not going to happen. There's drugs, that work really well, but as far as supplements, it doesn't get better than creatine monohydrate.  

So, I started to realize that, and I started in my 30’s to realize how mistaken I'd been to discount the importance of sleep. I used to just think hey, if I'm in bed for eight hours, regardless if I wake up a few times or drink a few drinks or smoked a little weed, which I used to do, I thought it was all good as long as I slept, because we didn't know that much about it in the early 2000’s. 

But as I started realizing, oh man, I've been really screwing up here. Now I've used sleep as a crucial part of the muscle building process.  

For starters, it’s hard to get to the gym and push yourself when you're exhausted from staying up all night, binge watching Netflix, or if you're like how I used to be, up in the club till five in the morning. I'm sure many of you don't do that anymore, but even if you're out socializing with friends, watching the game and having a few drinks, that's going to take a toll.  

If you're after building muscle, you've got to have enough energy to push hard in the gym.  

Another important consideration is that: sleep deprivation can actually impair your ability to build muscle and repair muscle damage. A 2011 study by Brazilian researchers found that skipping out on sleep, decreases protein synthesis and increases protein breakdown. 

This can potentially hinder muscle recovery from hard workouts, as well as injury healing. So if you think about building and maintaining muscle, think about a person laying bricks, they’re putting a brick, and they're taking from this pile of bricks and they're building this brick wall. That brick wall is your muscle, any muscle. 

And think about another person just on the other side of the wall, and they're taking bricks away from the wall, that's kind of what's going on all the time in your body.  

And so what sleep deprivation does, is it decreases the guy who's building the wall with bricks, that guy's slower, and the one who's taking away bricks, that guy's faster. 

So inadequate and or poor quality sleep: has a direct effect on your ability to build muscle and recover from your workouts.  

On top of that, sleep deprivation has a major effect on your testosterone levels as well. Previous studies have shown that the gradual decrease in sleep time is partially responsible for lower testosterone in older men. However, I just want to give a side note. Men get studied more because they're a little bit easier to study. 

The menstrual cycle kind of throws things off, but this is super important for women as well, even though the studies that I'm going to talk about were done on men. However, 2011 study at the University of Chicago reported the effect of one week of sleep restriction in healthy young men. 

The 10 young men in the study were recruited from around the University of Chicago campus, they passed a rigorous battery of tests to screen for endocrine or psychiatric disorders and sleep problems. So these were healthy guys around the age of 24 years old and they're in good health, they were lean, they weren't overweight or obese.  

And after just one week of having their sleep restricted to five hours a night, which is kind of what most people get, only slightly more than that, their testosterone levels decreased by 10 to 15%, just from one week of having their sleep restricted to five hours a night, decreased testosterone levels by 10 to 15%. 

That means they had the testosterone levels of men who were 10 years older or more, not good. And that's what happens to young healthy guys when they peak hormonally, what about when they’re in your 40’s or older with a stressful job, a family to care for and not enough hours in the day to get everything done? What do you think it does to those people? People like me, people like you. What do you think it does? Probably worse, and we'll find out eventually.  

So sleep deprivation has a negative effect when you're trying to lose fat as well. Raise your hand if you could lose a little bit more fat, if you could stand to lose a little bit more fat. I got my hand raised. Of course I'm in the fitness professional, if I don't have veins on my abs, I'm like not lean enough, but we could all stand to lose a little bit more fat. 

In a 2010 study published in the journal annals of internal medicine: researchers had 10 overweight adults in their 40’s follow a weight loss diet for two weeks. One group slept for eight and a half hours per night, the other group slept five and a half hours per night. So what was the difference? Well, the five and a half hour group, pay attention now, one group was eight and a half hours per night, which is, I would love to get a half hours per night. 

And the other group was five and a half hours per night, and they were on a weight loss diet. What do you think happened? This is what happened.  

The five and a half hour group lost 55% less fat and 60% lean mass, than the eight and a half hour group, and if that wasn't bad enough, they were hungrier throughout the day as well, because it increased ghrelin levels, the hunger hormone.  

Let's talk about that for a bit. So two groups of people on a weight loss diet, so the eight and a half hour group, that group that was sleeping eight and a half hours per night, they lost some fat and so did the other group as well, because calories are King when it comes to losing fat, right? 

The group sleeping only five and a half hours lost 55% less fat while eating the same amount of calories, that's terrible. I mean, people get so frustrated because they can't make a diet work, and I'll tell you right now, if you have poor sleep or if you're not sleeping enough, and you're trying to lose fat and you're like, how come I'm not able to lose fat? I've dialed in my calories, well here's reason, and on top of that, they'd lost 60% lean mass, 60% more lean mass. Why am I talking about that? Why lean mass, and what is lean mass?  

Well, as you lose weight, typically you're going to lose some muscle too, not all the time. It depends on the amount of protein you're eating. A higher amount of protein will help prevent that from happening, and also lean mass is not just muscle, it's not just organ tissue, it's also water and that's just the way they talk about it.  

So a good part of that was just water, but if you lose 55% less fat and you lose more, a little bit of muscle and water, that's not good. It's not going to be the hydrated and less muscle and still having to work off the fat, that's not good at all, simply because they slept for five and a half hours per night versus the eight and a half hours.  

And there have been several studies showing that increased hunger from sleep deprivation, and one study that I just found recently in 2016, found that sleep deprivation activated a part of the brain, responsible for the marijuana munchies. 

So if you ever smoked the reefer and you got high and you got munchies, sleep deprivation kind of does that whether you smoke the weed or not, because it activates the same endocannabinoid system in your brain. No need to go into that, but the cannabinoids, cannabis, marijuana activates the cannabinoid system, the endocannabinoid system in your brain, and apparently sleep deprivation can do that too, and that’s in part what I guess causes the rise in ghrelin, the hunger hormone.  

So what all this means: is that having poor quality sleep or failing to get enough sleep, will impair your ability to build muscle, lose fat and recover from exercise, and you'll get lower testosterone levels as well.  

Not only is that a recipe for crappy results from all the hard work in the gym, but it's also a recipe for poor health and a low sex drive. 

This also means that focusing on your sleep can be one of the most powerful tools in your muscle building arsenal, and guess what? It's free, no supplements to buy, no special workout equipment, all you have to do is just a few things, you've got to: 

Make sure that you're getting at least seven hours of sleep every night and maybe eight or nine hours is better. 

The average Americans say they're getting only 6.8 hours of sleep per night, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, and if you're in the gym pushing it, you're not going to be getting enough sleep if that's you, if you're pushing it hard. So that's the first thing, get that seven to nine hours of sleep, but get at least seven. 

Second, practice sleep hygiene: you brush and floss to maintain proper oral hygiene, or else you end up with a mouthful of cavities, well you practice sleep hygiene, to ensure that all the amazing restorative benefits of sleep happen, so you don't end up with all the problems that we just talked about.  

And you may not have heard of that term before, especially if you're new to the podcast, but it's pretty simple. The variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality, that's sleep hygiene defined, and without proper sleep hygiene, you may even get, say seven, eight or nine hours of sleep, but you will still feel sleepy because the eight hours weren't good quality sleep.  

So, I'm going to do a big sleep article and podcast episode soon, based on some of the newer things that I've learned, but here are some basics right now: 

Go to bed and wake up at the same time. 

Dim your lights at night to avoid too much blue light, or wear the funky orange blue blocker glasses to block it out: if you must have the lights on or work on your computer.  

Also, download F. Lux on your computer: that will help dim your screen. It syncs to your time zone, it starts to dim your screen as it gets more dark out. 

So, you can also use blackout blinds in your bedroom to black out all that ambient light: and you really want to do that, it's so important, especially if you're like me, if I get a little bit of light going in the morning, I am up and having the blackout blinds in your bedroom will help prevent that. 

Also, sleep on a quality bed that promotes proper support for your body: So important, so many of us, we'll buy a new car and make the crazy payments. We'll buy a $3,000 4k TV, and we won't spend money on our bed, we'll sleep on the same busted bed for year after year, when it's taking away from our sleep quality. 

Also, cool your bedroom as lower temperatures will help you get into deep sleep more quickly: How low? I can handle about 69, 68, and it starts to mess with me if it goes below that, because the AC and breathing in the AC, I just don't like it. I feel like it dries my throat out too much, and I feel like I'm going to get sick. 

So, find a temperature that works for you, but definitely mess around with the 60’s, have it be in the 60’s, 69, 70 at the most, but 68, 69.  

Also, your power bill will go up a bit, but you will reap the health benefits from the sleep, so it's a give and a take, right?  

Last thing is: have a sleep ritual that relaxes you and helps you transition from your busy day to deep sleep.  

Now I use a lot of things for this. I've used deep breathing exercises, static stretching, reading works well too. What I love right now is, I use the Headspace meditation app, no I don't get any kickbacks, I don't own stock in the company. Although now that I think about I probably should, although there is another app coming out or already out called Simple Habit that I saw on shark tank the other day, that Giselle likes a lot better. 

Headspace, you get the same guy, Andy Puddicombe talking, and Simple Habit, you get a choice of different people. So give those a try and I've used some of the simple habit meditations, they're pretty good.  

So give it a try if you're having trouble winding down before sleep, and I got to tell you just, just one more point on this is:  

One of the things that I'm most proud of with how I've helped people with their life, not just putting them in the gym and pushing them, handing them weights and yelling at them to do another few reps, I don't do that by the way. I encourage, I don't yell. I'm not a bootcamp guy. Bootcamp, pretending like I was in the military or something, some of these trainers. 

But my favorite thing, or one of the things that I'm most proud of is that I've gotten a lot of people meditating and I hope I've made a difference for you, if you've been listening to this podcast for a while, it is so powerful. 

If you are a person who's under a lot of stress, you have trouble turning off your mind at night, try one of the meditations. And if you say, oh, I hate meditation, I'll never do that. It’s so hard to sit still and do nothing, you are exactly the person that needs to try it. 

So that concludes the everything you need to know about the building muscle in your 40’s masterclass, you have enough to get started, and of course, if you want in-depth education on how to build muscle, I've got a muscle building course, I go into all this stuff, and I go into calories and macros, I help you do the math to calculate everything.  

So make sure you check that out, but what I'd like you to do is take some things from these past four episodes, go to the website, read the article and put them into action. That's what living a Legendary Life is about, it's about taking action on things, it's about doing the things that actually impact improve your life.  

So I would love to hear from you, did it work for you? Did some of the things work for you, but other things didn't? Did you have trouble implementing them? Let me know, I would love to hear from you.  

That concludes our everything you need to know about building muscle in your 40’s masterclass. I hope you enjoyed it, and more importantly, I hope you learned some things that you're going to use in your life to get better results, not just for your body, but for your health as well.  

I hope you enjoy this. I hope you learned a lot. Enjoy your weekend and I'll speak to you soon. 


Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, celebrity trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 24 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and hundreads of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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