Menno Henselmans on How to Stay in Shape While Traveling

Recorded in my living room in Tokyo, Coach Menno Henselmans of BayesianBodybuilding.com shares tips on how he has stayed jacked and shredded while traveling for the last five years.

I also asked Menno about the somewhat controversial topic of race-based muscular potential, why he isn’t a fan of HIIT, why he quit business consulting to pursue a career in fitness, and his frank thoughts on meal timing and intermittent fasting.

3 Key Points

    1. Entrepreneurship is not a one-way journey
    2. Don’t be afraid of losing a bit of muscle
    3. Cardio is not the best tool for fat loss in most cases

Show Notes

  • Menno’s childhood. Menno is grateful for the work his parents did to raise out of financial hardship. [03:00]
  • Entrepreneurship. Menno didn’t start as an entrepreneur. He started in the corporate world seeing how things don’t work because of human factors. Menno noticed that often there is a lack of passion and a lack of drive as a limiting factor for a business. Often, Menno would see businesses ignore accurate algorithms to create a rosy, yet unrealistic, vision for the future. [3:30]
  • When did Menno realize he was intelligent? Menno took the Dutch equivalent of the SATs and received a perfect mark. Menno attended a Gymnasium (higher-level focused high school education). Only at the Master’s level did Menno feel like school was serious. [8:00]
  • What did Menno study in University? Menno’s primary focus was behavioral economics with a secondary focus on statistics. [12:30]
  • How did Menno apply his knowledge to fitness? He learned time management and detachment of work (while still being productive). When starting his own business, Menno was able to do everything himself. The greatest transference from his previous work was his passion to be an entrepreneur. [14:00]
  • How does Bayesian Bodybuilding differ from other training sites? Inspired by Tim Ferriss to create timeless content, Menno likes to find niche topics to explore in new ways. He mentions his optimal protein article, which is one of the top hits on Google. [16:00]
  • Why does Menno write? While Andy started writing for his clients, Menno started writing because of his passion for the topics. Menno feels like this naturally creates a very different type of website. [19:00]
  • How did Menno start his journey into fitness? Motivation to exercise is due to genetic drive, and Menno has always needed to fulfill this passion. [20:00]
  • Why Menno started his website? Menno reads a lot with extreme content filtering. He was certified by ISSA, even though he did not agree with everything in the course. This lead Menno to create his own Personal Training course. The transition to becoming an entrepreneur left Menno working two full-time jobs for some time. Leaving a full-time corporate job does not need to be a final decision; in fact, Menno mentions how this can add value and to your resume. [21:00]
  • How long has Menno been traveling? Menno has been traveling for about 5 years. [27:00]
  • What’s Menno’s stats? Menno is 6’1” tall and weighs around 90kgs (200lbs). Menno’s body fat is currently 12%, but he likes to stay around 10%. [27:15]
  • What strategies does Menno use to stay in shape while traveling? First, Menno always makes sure he will have access to a good gym. However, if a good gym is not an option, he works with bodyweight or what equipment is available. Menno sees a lot of people fall into the “all-or-nothing” attitude. [28:30]
  • What to do when different machines offer different resistance for the same weight? Menno suggests focusing on what muscles you want to stimulate and with what set volume instead of a specific number of reps. [32:00]
  • What about nutrition while traveling? Menno suggests meal prepping for a flight or fasting. [33:30]
  • Does Menno fear losing muscle when fasting? No, especially because he is well into his training career. Menno attributes muscle memory to this confidence. [35:00]
  • What is muscle memory? Menno uses the analogy of a city as your body and residential buildings as your muscle. As you train, you are expanding the city and its infrastructure. If you stop training, you will slowly break down the buildings, but the infrastructure will remain. In the future, it will be much easier to rebuild the residential buildings with an existing city infrastructure. [36:00]
  • Does Menno lose muscle for photo shoots? Yes. Your muscular potential is a function of how much fat you have. Sumo wrestlers are the most muscular humans on the planet. [38:45]
  • Is there differing race-based muscular potential? Asians have a reduced muscular potential compared to Caucasians. People that are observationally black have the highest muscular potential, followed by those that are observationally white, and finally those observationally Asian. That said, these are averages and there is great individual variability. [39:45]
  • What are Menno’s thoughts on calorie and carb cycling? Menno is a big fan of calorie cycling, but not carb cycling for bodybuilding. [43:30]
  • Why doesn’t Menno like High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? The research shows fat loss is primarily driven by the energy deficit. This can be done though HIIT, low-intensity cardio or eating less. Eating less is preferable, assuming you can get in key micronutrients. HIIT reduces your ability to recover and all cardio causes an interference effect (especially in the same session). [47:30]
  • What is the Interference Effect? Muscles are like a garden hose. Strength training suggests a big water hose, even if it empties the tank really quickly. Endurance training suggests a narrow water hose that slowly releases water from the tank over time. Your body cannot be both, so Menno uses cardio as a last resort in fat loss. [49:00]
  • What are Menno’s thoughts on short versus long calorie deficits? There is a surprising amount of research on alternate day fasting. Menno likes to use a protein sparing modified fast. Growth happens within the anabolic window, on average about 24 hours after a workout. Menno suggests taking out calories outside of the anabolic window. Alternate day fasting has better adherence than long-term calorie deficits. [51:00]

Show Links

Thank you for listening! – Andy

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Peter Stewart
Peter Stewart

This episode was exactly what kept my training on track during my last one month stint away from home.

In January this year (2018) I went back to South Africa for four weeks and just didn’t do any workouts whatsoever. After returning home to Taiwan I was seriously weaker and had to ease back into training and when I revisited this podcast I kicked myself in the butt.

But I learned my lesson, so in August I had to return to South Africa again for a month but this time I just picked a gym that looked like it was appropriate (stuff for the big lifts) and continued. The gym wasn’t great, but learned to be adaptable and got to try machines that aren’t available in my home gym.

Thanks again.

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