In this second part of our interview, Menno talks about the recent HMB and Ketogenic diet study fraud, and why using steroids can be like creating a “game over” scenario which you want to avoid.
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3 Key Points
- Steroid use, unless you are planning on continuing it forever, is like entering a cheat code in a Mario game. You shortcut your journey and then take all the fun out of training, which is a major drawback that is often overlooked.
- Some of the positive research behind HMB and Ketones seems to be backed with fraudulent data.
- Connective tissues might be the limiting factor for growth with advanced trainees. So consider fluctuating the loads you utilize, with higher rep range sets as a staple.
- Menno’s childhood. Menno is grateful for the work his parents did to raise out of financial hardship. [03:00]
- How long is steroid testing accurate? Andy advises his competitor friend at the gym that some people going up on stage against him will have used steroids in the past, so it’s important to focus on being his best self and be happy with that. Menno talks about how drug testing is only valid within about two months of taking anabolic steroids. [2:00]
- Is it a good idea to use steroids? The reason Menno does not use steroids because it can reduce natural testosterone production. Menno also talks about a study showing how once previously ‘juiced’ powerlifters came off steroids and stopped lifting, they reverted to their original size. He believes that the long-term benefits of using steroids for a period are small. However, Menno plans to start cycling low-doses of steroids once his natural testosterone production falls, which he hopes will not be until his 50s. He notes how when people get old and gain fat, they get corresponding low testosterone levels. However, you should be able to maintain your testosterone levels from your 20’s into your 50’s if you stay lean and engage in strength training. [3:00]
- What about older trainees? If you are 40 years old, don’t worry. If you’re 70, there are certainly some special considerations before jumping into training. Although the threshold isn’t clear, Menno suggests the turning point might be around 50 years of age. [8:00]
- Isn’t hitting my maximum genetic potential with steroids a no-brainer? Menno thinks that most people that complete a medically supervised cycle of anabolic steroids will lose purpose and motivation. There is joy in the journey. [9:00]
- How do the different rates of development between muscle and connective tissue affect how we should train as training age increases? Menno’s thinking is that the plasticity (ability to adapt) is more difficult in connective tissue than muscle tissue. The research that supports this claim centers around the blood flow for tendons. Injuries are far more common in trained individuals with issues in technique than untrained individuals. Menno uses the analogy of a car and a driver, getting a faster car is like getting more muscle fibers and getting a better driver is like neurological adaptation. Often, for advanced lifters, connective tissue is the limiting factor and not muscle. This is an argument for increasing the use of lighter loading as training age increases. [11:25]
- Do I need to bench press? No! Menno says that while the bench press is a great exercise, there isn’t a need to do it, and shouldn’t do it if it causes you joint issues. There are no mandatory exercises. [14:45]
- Do I need to squat? As with the bench press, though barbell squats are a great exercise, if you find that you have joint issues performing them, consider a squat variation. Menno talks about how he doesn’t personally have great knees, so he hits a certain threshold where he can no longer squat. It doesn’t matter what squat variation he uses. [15:30]
- Do you have any advice regarding exercise selection? Don’t do something that hurts and obsess about the method. You should listen to pain signals. The pain will limit your ability to add volume and reach the advanced level. [17:00]
- What happened with the recent HMB study scandal with Jacob Wilson? Dr. Jacob Wilson and Layne Norton had a falling out because Layne was concerned Jacob was manipulating data and called him on it. Part of the research had lead to favorable outcomes for the ketogenic diet, which Jacob is now benefitting financially from. Menno said he saw the unpublished data change twice. Rumours started to circle about data fraud. Wilson and Associates released a paper showing HMB is more effective than steroids, despite all other research showing the opposite. Menno listens several letters produced showing issues with the data. Menno had conversations with eye-witnesses that have admitted to data frauding. Later, Menno confronted Jacob in-person about the data fraud and denied knowing anything about the “rumors,” as he called them. [20:00]
- What is the impact on the fitness community because of this fraudulent data? For the average person, there will be very little impact. However, the integrity of the scientific community could be brought into question. [29:45]
- Why would Jacob commit data fraud? Menno suggests, while unlikely that Jacob created fraudulent data for fame, however, Jacob has written a book on ketogenic dieting which references his questionable research, and is sponsored by the supplement company Pruv It. [31:00]
- Does the mean ketogenic diets are not beneficial? The other research does show some positive findings, but certainly not the extent that is shown in Jacob’s research. Menno believes that purchasing HMB and ketone supplements is a waste of your money. [34:30]
- What about people who say taking ketone supplements makes them alert? According to Menno, this is caused by the caffeine in ketone supplements. Caffeine spiking is a common trick in the supplement industry. There is, of course, the possibility of the placebo effect also. [35:30]
- When getting clients to lose fat and gain muscle, does Menno autoregulate calories throughout the week? Routines and habits are the keys to long-term sustainability. Menno suggests always looking through the lens of, “are you going to do this for the next decade?” [38:00]
- Do you think that nutrient partitioning becomes less favorable while bulking when going over 15% bodyfat? Yes, and Menno will be releasing an article covering this topic on his website soon. [39:00]
- Should you increase protein with a pre-workout protein shake if you go a long time between meals and your workout? Menno suggests using a meal instead of a protein shake while not upsetting your calorie balance. [43:30]
- What should you do after plateauing on a diet program? If something is not working, something needs to change. You may need to decrease energy intake. However, if you are getting very low on calorie intake, you may need to look deeper into lifestyle factors (cheat meals and changed activities to name a few). Make sure you are comparing weekly average weigh-in data and consider body recomposition. [41:30]
- Doesn’t body recomposition only happen for beginners? No. Most people can achieve both muscle gain and fat loss at the same time to some degree. Read this article. Andy also mentions the benefit of taking stomach measurements when gauging if this is happening. (See our article on tracking progress.) [44:30]
- What is an appropriate surplus of calories for contact-sports athletes for recovery? You want to be in the sweet-spot for muscle growth and fat gain. However, it varies greatly depending on your situation. [45:30]
- Which is better for a novice, a bro-split or three full-body workouts? Bro-splits suffice for novices. However, as you increase training experience, you recover more quickly and can benefit from more frequency. [46:30]
- What’s Menno’s current thoughts on high-frequency training? Menno recommends visiting his website for a detailed response. However, as you become more advanced, you may need to train each muscle group once every 48 hours. [48:15]
- Contact Menno Henselmans | Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
- Layne Norton
- Pruv It – Supplement company sponsoring Dr. Jacob Wilson
- Gain Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time – Article by Menno
- How to Track Progress – Article by Andy
Thank you for listening! – Andy