Episode 7: Muscle MasterClass


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Show Notes


Type I Slow Twitch Muscle Fibres:

  • Responsible for long-duration, low intensity activity.
  • Respond best to higher reps, shorter rest periods and higher volume.
  • Less potential for growth than fast twitch muscle fibres.
  • Take longer to fatigue, recovery quicker and require more work to maximise growth.

Type II Fast Twitch Muscle Fibres:

  • Broken down further into Type IIa (moderate-fast twitch) and Type IIb (fast-twitch)
  • Responsible for short-duration, high intensity activity
  • Respond best to low-moderate rep ranges, slightly longer rest periods and a moderate training volume.
  • Greater potential for growth and size than slow twitch muscle fibres.
  • Stronger and quicker to develop.

  1. Bench Hip Thrust
  2. Floor Hip Thrust
  3. Reverse Hyper
  4. Glute Hamstring Raise
  5. High Bench Step Up
  1. Barbell Deadlift
  2. Romanian Deadlift
  3. Glute Ham Raise
  4. Back Extension
  5. Nordic Hamstring (advanced) / sprinter lunge
  1. Barbell Back Squat
  2. Front / Sumo Squat
  3. Brozoff squat
  4. Reverse Hack Squat
  5. Incline Leg Press

Podcast Transcript

Greg:       Welcome to Body Science headquarters. We’re here at the home of Fit Happy Healthy. I’ve got my guru in the corner. You hate that word. That’s why I said it. Dr Chris McLellan.


Today, he’s talking about training for your muscle type. It’s a good one and I’m going to start this off — in the previous podcasts, you’ve gone on about keeping the main thing the main thing. What are we doing here?


Finish that protein bar. You’re on. You wanna swallow that. Yeah?


Mac:        High Protein, Low Carb Bar. Cookie Dough – One of the best you’ll buy. Not one, — the best. Anyone who’s on their time-restricted diurnal intermittent modified Keto with target fasting, I highly recommend it.


It’s not a very exciting story, but it’s all about keeping the main thing the main thing. I was often asked what my philosophy was around training, as I was coming through the ranks as young strength conditioning coach, and my philosophy was always pretty simple — turn up on time, every time, train hard, go home. Eat, go sleep, come back and do it again the next day.


That didn’t seem to appease the people who were asking me the question. I guess, maybe a decade ago, with the evolution of social media and the amount of things that you see on social media, and more so with my little segue in recent years into more the bodybuilding physique industry, I see a whole lot of people, mainly girls, who are just training in what I consider to be a pretty random fashion, to bring about the goals that they want.


So if you’re in physique, if you’re in bodybuilding — and by bodybuilding, we say this all the time, I mean bikini, figure, fitness, all of those all encompassed into physique competition or body building — it doesn’t matter what your 1RM squat is, it doesn’t matter what you can deadlift. It’s about your ability to develop muscle mass in the right proportions.


Hence my philosophy is very much about — keep the main thing the main thing. If you want to be strong, then absolutely, you have to recruit high auto motor units and you need to lift heavy weights above 85 percent of your 1RM, and we’ve known that for decades. If you want to be an endurance athlete, you need to train accordingly in an endurance manner. If you want to develop muscle mass for hypertrophy, then it doesn’t matter how strong you are. Right? And there’s a justification for lifting heavy, certainly, to recruit what we’re going to talk about in a minute, a little bit about type 1, type 2 fibres and that sort of thing. But we know we have the information around fibres type distribution, and that’s the other thing we’ll get to in this podcast, is around training specificity around fibre type distribution.


So based on the research — it’s actually pretty old, it’s from the ’70s — around… For example, in a gluteus maximus, in the gluteals, and everyone listening to this will know what that muscle is, what’s the fibre type distribution? Is it predominantly type 1, type 2? What are we working with? Well, the answer is it’s about 50/50\. It’s probably 55/45, slow twitch, fast twitch. So how you train your glutes — the glutes are the easiest muscle in the body to develop. Absolutely. No question. So how you train them is specific to that. If you want to recruit lower auto motor units, type 1 fibers, you go to high volume. That’s how you train them. If you want to recruit higher auto motor units, type 2 fibres, fast twitch fibers, go train them heavy. So you got to mix it up. But even then, 1RMs, 2RMs, you don’t need them in your kit bag. You really don’t. It doesn’t make any difference.


So that’s the evolution of the keep the main thing the main thing, and looking at you through this little thing here.


And it’s the same with crossfitters. There’s definitely a rationale for implementing variation in your training. No question. We’ve talked about this, that we want some variation, but we also need specificity and we need that specificity around our outcome. Otherwise you’re going to diminish your outcomes. You’re results won’t results will reflect that.


That’s something of a rationale for our chat today. It’s just, keep it pretty simple. If you want to be a crossfitter, go and do crossfit, but if you want to play in the NFL or the NHL or the NRL or any of those football codes, that’s not crossfit. You might do an odd crossfit session for variation. Sounds like a great idea. Why not? But if that’s what you do day in, day out, then you’re going to be under prepared.


That’s the philosophy of keeping the main thing the main thing.


Greg:       Do you want to touch more on like what are the muscle fibre types?


Mac:        Sure. The very early work around muscle fibre types — and people listening to this will be educated and they will have heard of fast twitch and slow twitch, and red and white and this sort of thing, It’s been around forever — the evolution of that has evolved to how we determine it, and there’s now some very good technology. For decades we’ve used biopsy, which is —


Greg:       Nasty.


Mac:        Yeah. We’re literally taking a small piece of muscle and analyzing it under a microscope and determining what the fiber type distribution is. There’s some evolution of measurement techniques, has gone into more noninvasive techniques using MRI and modified versions of that. That’s not available to the average person going to the gym. It’s cost prohibitive, and even access would be limited. And same with biopsies. Biopsies outside of the university sector or outside of elite sport — you can’t just go down to your local QML and say, I want to get a biopsy done. It’s not going to happen.


We have to refer to the research and the cadaver-based studies from the ’70s that have given us some information around population norms, the distribution of different fiber types. They’re going to vary considerably with individuals. However, that’s the starting point for us. Literally, with fiber types, within muscle we have small elements of those called myofilaments, or fibrils. “Myo” meaning muscle. “Filament” meaning the small — call it the “contractal” part of the muscle. So we have “contractal” proteins, we have regulatory proteins, and we have what are called structural proteins.


The “contractal” proteins, most people will have heard of. That’s actin and myosin, and they’re what are called the thick and thin filaments of the muscle. They play a role in the sliding filament theory and excitation contraction coupling. All that means is that they’re the little parts of the muscle that are pulled together and cross over one another to cause a contraction. So there’s a stimulus comes through, causes a whole range of changes within the muscle, comes down through a T tubule into what’s called the sarcoplasmic reticulum. There’s a release of calcium. Calcium changes the orientation of some regulatory proteins that sit on the “contractal” proteins. One’s called Troponin and tropomyosin. I want to get too deep in the weeds with it, but what that does is makes the little pieces that contract with one another available, and then literally, they pull each other across one another, and the muscle shortens. That’s the concentric component of a muscle. And then the reversal of that is the eccentric component. That’s nothing new to our audience and I’m sure they’re familiar with that.


Whether or not it’s a fast twitch or a slow twitch — the word “twitch” refers to the rate at which the contraction occurs. And that speed of contraction is regulated by an enzyme that’s called ATPase, which sits on the head of the myosin, “contractal” element of the muscle itself.


Just for those that are interested in this level of understanding of the muscle, in about 1998, there were some new…


So when I went to uni, what I was always taught was pretty much just fast and slow, and you couldn’t change that. So…


Greg:       Can we change now?


Mac:        Yeah, absolutely. Definitely. Actually, the more recent research tells us that there’s a huge amount of variation that exists with exposure, and there’s been studies done on twins where one twin has become an athlete, the other twin has become a non-athlete and their fiber type distribution later in life is completely different. So it’s very much exercise and environment dependent.


Greg:       Can we put that reference…


Mac:        You’ll find it somewhere for sure.


We have some, what we call pure fiber types, is probably an easy way to put it, from slow to fast. It has to do with the myocin heavy chain. So type 1, 2A, and 2X are three pure types, from slow to fast. And then we have hybrids. So we can have a hybrid of a type, say, a 1 and a 2A, we can have a 2 and a 2X. So the take home message is that it’s not an all or nothing or a black and white type of scenario. We can have blends of these muscle fiber types within the body. And in fact a lot of more recent research is telling us that people who are sedentary, who don’t do any exercise pretty much, tend to have a higher distribution of these hybrids. They’re more generalist muscle fibres. They’re not specific for anything. And it could be up to 40 percent of their fibres are hybrid. A little bit of both. The more actively, the more highly trained you are, the more specificity you will have. Very highly trained athletes may have no hybrids; they might have a large distribution of either type 1 if they’re endurance-based or they may have a substantial amount of type 2 if they’re an explosive athlete — 100 metre sprinter, whatever. So conversion does happen.


I remember when I went to uni, we were taught that conversion didn’t really happen, but it absolutely does. We can see 2A, 2Xs convert to 2As, and it and it absolutely will, and that’ll depend on the type of training. There’s also a reversibility effect that happens. So there’s a use it or lose it situation occurring with muscle as well. So if you don’t train, you will perhaps take on more of those hybrid type characteristics, and you’ll lose the pure fast twitch or the pure slow twitch components of it.


So you think about exposure time and intensity as our two key variables with that approach. You can ask me — how do you grow them? How do you make them develop?


Greg:       I was going to ask like — how does an athlete actually tell? And why would they give a shit? But that’s probably not relevant.


Mac:        Oh, how can they tell? Well they can’t tell. I can’t tell without either a biopsy or an MRI.


Greg:       So when you’re writing a training program…


Mac:        Yeah. I will base — the way I will do it, anyway — which is probably not how most people do it, but all I know what the fibre type distributions are


Greg:       Some little secrets coming out here?


Mac:        Oh, no. It’s not rocket science. It’s just that I’ve gone out of my way to find out what it is, and it’s not something that you will pick up on in your university degree or you won’t get it in your training.


Greg:       Cert IV?


Mac:        You definitely won’t to get that in a Cert IV.


But the research exists, but you’ve got a dig fairly deeply to determine what these fiber types are.


It depends a lot on what you’re trying to achieve. So if you’re looking for hypertrophy — and we’re talking more around muscle fibre type development here, than we’re talking about endurance training for this approach for muscle fiber type specific training — so if you think about the variables that go into hypertrophy…


So hypertrophy is the development of muscle mass. The traditional way that we do that as we manipulate the variables of training. So, resistance training variables. Things like the muscle action, so concentric or eccentric. We talk about the volume or the total workload of a training session. We talk about the intensity — the intensity in resistance training refers to the amount of load on the bar, or a percentage of your maximum capabilities. We talked about 1RM, at 1 rep max. You’ll be familiar with that term. And then we talk about the selection of exercises — and that’s a bit of a bugbear of mine as well; we’ll get to it — and the order we do them.


Then we play around with the inter-set rest periods, because we can have a large amount of impact on the outcomes of a session based on things like metabolic byproducts. We know that growth hormone adaptation is released from the pituitary stimulated by


hydrogen ions fundamentally. Hydrogen ions coming from metabolic byproduct of muscle contraction circuits, really fundamentally.


So we talked about rep velocity, tempo — so all of it comes down to a specificity around — what am I trying to get here. So I muscles hypertrophy is, as a general comment, less dependent on the strain or the resistance and more dependent on the total volume, or the training workload, overall.


We play around with that, with the number of reps we do, the total volume loads — sets times, reps times, load — is one way of doing that. And all of that is geared towards increasing our cross sectional area. Because like we’ve said in lots of previous podcasts, the body needs to be encouraged to adapt.


Greg:       So, can I ask a dumb question?


Mac:        You always throw me off.


Greg:       I do.


Mac:        But yeah. Go for it.


Greg:       So the training is about getting the body to adapt. Do I just wake up tomorrow and my muscle type’s changed?


Mac:        No.


Greg:       No. So what are we talking here?


Mac:        Do you mean duration?


Greg:       Yeah. Like…


Mac:        Oh, it happens quickly.


Greg:       It does?


Mac:        Yeah. Yeah. Within weeks.


Greg:       That right? Within weeks?


Mac:        Yeah. The adaptation occurs very, very quickly. Again, that’s going to depend on whether you train once a week or four times a week, and I can’t give you the exact diagnosis there, but the answer is, yes, it happens and it happens quickly. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen quickly.


Greg:       It could be a hair commercial. Sorry. [laughs]


Mac:        It could be. And I’m not surprised that you took it there, but that’s OK.


So you got to remember muscle is what’s called post mitotic tissue, and that means it doesn’t undergo a large amount of cell replacement journey life. It’s a really dynamic balance between protein synthesis and protein degradation. And hypertrophy is mediated by — we’ve talked about these before as well — called satellite cells, and they reside within what’s called the Basal Lamina and the Sarcolemma within the tissue.


So these, what they call, myogenic stem cells — they’re normally quiescent, so they’re normally asleep, let’s just say. They’re normally non-active. And they become active when they’ve got sufficient stimuli to become active. And that comes into a conversation around — the vast majority of research now tells us… There’s been some good work. There’s a guy, Brad Schoenfeld, who did a really big med analysis a few years ago talking about hypertrophy, and we’ll attach it to this. I’m all about recognising the research and work done by these guys. And Brad’s done a great job.


One of the things we need is we need metabolic demand, and we need what’s called mechanotransduction. You need load. We also need a little bit of micro trauma, a little bit of muscle damage, as part of it. Remember I talked about the two little “contractal” components of the muscle crossing over?


Greg:       Yep.


Mac:        OK. So as they cross and as they revert back, they have to de-latch. Eccentric exercise — we often a sore from a lot of eccentric exercise. But a lot of people say, why am I stronger eccentrically than I am concentrically? That’s a question I get all the time. So just to be really clear on what I mean by that, if you’re doing a bench press for example, people will often be able to lower a bar under control that weighs, say 80 kilos, they don’t have the ability to concentrically push it back up. So they’re stronger — I can control that on the way down eccentrically, but I can’t push it back up. That means I’m stronger, effectively — really, I’m breaking it down here — but really, I’m stronger eccentrically than concentrically.


And it comes down to when those little “contractal” elements crossover one another, they have to be undone, and the de-latching process is like, they connect on, then there’s a larger amount of energy required to de-latch them. And that de-latching causes some of the micro trauma that causes post exercise, muscle soreness.


You’re sore after a workout because of micro trauma. It’s got nothing to do with lactate, or lactic acid. And if anyone’s ever still teaching that, please get up and walk out of the room.


Anyway. We have these things called myogenic stem cells. And like I said, they normally quiescent. But when they’re stimulated, they become active and they proliferate, and then they go and fuse with the existing muscle cells and they donate nuclei effectively.


Now that he’s part of the repair process that occurs post workout. It’s that exercise-induced muscle damage that stimulates some of that satellite cell proliferation that occurs post-exercise. It’s a pretty dynamic scenario in terms of what causes that muscle adaptation.


We talk about autocrine and paracrine adaptations — and we’re getting really deep in the weeds with that — but autocrine adaptation refers to stimulation of protein synthesis, which is the anabolic adaptation — so, repair — through an increase in anabolic signaling pathways.


A lot of people talk about a thing called mammalian target of rapamycin, mTOR pathway, and for the listeners that like their muscle physiology they will have heard of the mTOR pathway as the primary anabolic pathway associated with muscle mass development.


The other one is paracrine adaptation. Paracrine adaptation is an increase in satellite cell activation, with a proliferation of those mygenic stem cells and that fuse onto the cells.


You with me?


Greg:       Yeah. All the way.


Mac:        So there’s a bit going on there. And not to lose anybody… But there’s a process that occurs there. We need stimuli to bring about muscle adaptation.


So mechanical stress is a big one. You’ve got to train, right?


Greg:       Yep.


Mac:        It’s not going to matter what your diet’s like or what you put in your system. You’ve got to bring about some sort of stimuli to induce adaptation. The other one’s metabolic stress as I mentioned, and the other one’s muscle damage. There’s a few others in there as well with some reactive oxygen species and things like cellular swelling. But we don’t really need the go there for this.


So the metabolic side of it is about things like lactate. It’s about hydrogen ions. The whole process of hypoxia is something I’m really interested in. We’d probably do a podcast just on that because there’s some really cool research coming out about normobaric hypoxia.


Think of… I don’t know if you’ve ever done any blood flow restriction training? BFR?


Greg:       Not really.


Mac:        No?


So it’s called the Katsu method. It’s been around for quite some time. But it’s basically occluding, not completely occluding, limiting the blood flow to a limb, in that state of hypoxia, so low oxygen. We get a proliferation of adaptation within the muscle around all those things I mentioned — hydrogen ions, nitric oxide synthase — all these metabolic byproducts that stimulate satellite cell proliferation. And hydrogen ions also will stimulate the pituitary gland to release growth hormone.


Greg:       OK.


Mac:        Talked about growth hormone before as well.


There’s a whole lot of myth mechanisms there associated with adaptation post-exercise.


Greg:       And we’re talking about athletes here playing in that area with.


Mac:        Everybody.


Greg:       Yeah?


Mac:        Yeah everybody. Anyone who wants muscle mass adaptation.


Some of the more mainstream normobaric hypoxia training now has great implications into “aldopops” because there’s a decrease amount of overall load, wear and tear on the joints. We’ll do another podcast on that another time, and we’ll probably stick with what we’re talking about here.


The mechanotransduction side of it is literally mechanical tension, which is another key element. So there’s a metabolic component, and then there’s a mechanotransduction component. So the mechanical transduction is — within the sarcolemma, around the muscle, we have these, call them mechano-sensors — I’m overviewing a lot of pretty intense physiology here — but they convert mechanical energy into chemical signals that then mediate intracellular anabolic and catabolic pathways. So that mTOR  is a big one. And the other ones, is just myogen-activated protein kinase, which is the MAPK pathway, when you get a lot of resistance, high resistance lengthening contractions — strength training — we get an increase in phosphorolation of what’s called a P70SK kinase. Anyway, it doesn’t matter too much. But large amounts of muscle mass. We have a larger amount of this phosphorolation of this enzyme that ultimately has a shift in muscle balance, and that’s an autocrine pathway. It stimulates the fusion of those myogenic stem cells, which is pretty cool physiology in terms of muscle mass development and adaptation. But it’s also around not just getting large amounts of muscle, but it’s also about maintaining muscle. So when people are trying to lose fat, and we’ve talked about that in our podcasts all the time, you don’t want to sacrifice a lot of muscle.


Greg:       Yeah.


Mac:        So you still need to have that resistance training component to preserve the muscle mass you’ve got. That’s the perfect scenario. And the older you get, the more important that probably is for maintaining activities of daily living and independence and all the good stuff — reduced risk of falls, recovery from disease. The list of things that are health related added benefits to maintaining lean muscle mass, it’s a long list, it’s enormous. Surviving cancer and all sorts of things.


And I’m on a rant. People don’t like when I get on a rant all the time.


Greg:       I can’t tell the difference between rant and science.


Mac:        Oh, OK. Well, it’s a bit of both.


When we do high intensity resistance training, we get a lot of that high mechanical tension, that mechanotransduction. When we do more low intensity circuits, it’s more of the metabolic adaptation. Either way, they both lead to fibre recruitment, a little bit of muscle damage maybe with the higher intensity work. We get all of those stem cell adaptations. We get metabolic byproducts like nitric oxide and so forth will adapt. We get autocrine and paracrine adaptations. And ultimately if we get it all right, we lead to hypertrophy and adaptation.


Yeah, so that’s the — what was that — 10 minute overview of what we’re talking about.


But it all comes down to your key training variables, right? You’ve got progressive overload, you’ve got specificity, you’ve got variation. Individualisation is huge. That’s the one I see a lot on social media.


We’ve got a forum for people to post what they do in the gym. We see it. We’ve got a lot of monkey see monkey do going on in our world, whereby someone sees a very elite, very experienced athlete doing an exercise that is far beyond the capabilities of the average gym goer. There’s some exercises in particular, and the big one at the moment, I don’t know if you’re doing it in your garage is the Nordic hamstring. You doing Nordics?


Greg:       No.


Mac:        You know what a Nordic is?


Greg:       No.


Mac:        Most people listening to this will know. So you’re not working hammies. What’s up?


Greg:       No.


Mac:        Not your thing? Alright.


Well, Nordic ham string is where you a kneeling down, basically. You keep your torso upright.


Greg:       There’s your first problem — on my knees.


Mac:        Right. Well, you can be on a padded thing. You need your feet secured or anchored so that you don’t tip forward —


Greg:       I’m seeing that everywhere on Instagram.


Mac:        Yeah. So you’ve got people who are doing them, yeah — they’re tilting forward.


If I want to tear your hamstring, I’d get you to go and do that now. Right?


Greg:       Yep.


Mac:        And you see some people doing it. They’ll go all the way down and then I’ll come all the way back up. Let me tell you, if you can’t do a laying leg curl with about double your body weight, you’ve got no business trying to do that. It looks cool. I’m seeing some people on Instagram and some good friends of mine, posting things with them doing that. And I love them because they’re good friends of mine. But I shake my head. Because I always say there’s no way in the world that 95 percent of the population, even athletic population, even guys I work with at an elite level in AFL, NRL — they can’t do that. But if you’re a 45 kilo whippet with huge amount of muscle mass and a background in gymnastics and you’ve been training your whole life, then maybe.


It’s not one of those exercises… It looks great and it rips into your hamstrings, but there are other exercises that we can implement that are equally as beneficial for developing hamstrings.


And my other little rant in the world of that market around females who are competing in physique contests, it’s normally about glutes and delts. That’s what you need.


Greg:       Yep.


Mac:        Well, because that’s been the case for about a decade. Everyone’s now got glutes and delts. So ladies, hamstrings are the new glutes. Let me tell you. Because the girls that are winning at an elite level now have got exceptional — we call it — glute-hamstring tie-in. They’ve got separation in the glutes from a posterior perspective and they’ve got separation from a quad-hamstring tie-in when they turn on their side. So that’s new. They’re the new glutes. They’re the girls that are going to win.


We’re going to talk about that. Because developing hamstrings and developing glutes are two very, very different challenges. There’s some biomechanical reasons why that is, and some morphological reasons. So, morphological with respect to the actual makeup of the muscle and the distribution of the fibre types.


Lost you? Or are you with me?


Greg:       No, I’m with you on that one.


Mac:        Yeah.


Greg:       I’m just letting you rant.


Mac:        Yeah, well, glute training — because again, I see a lot of girls deadlift, and there’s some interesting variations we see on deadlift technique depending on where you’ve been taught and how you’ve been taught how to do it.


So you’ve got to remember, if you’re going to train glutes, and you want to train hamstrings, you got to think from a biomechanics perspective. You’ve got the pelvis, and you’ve got the femur.


Greg:       Yep.


Mac:        Alright. So the femur’s the big muscle in your lower leg.


I know you’ve got a diploma. But I’m just going to run you through it.


So you have two different types of mechanisms here. You have pelvis on femur movement. Right? So the femur stays fixed and the pelvis moves. So think deadlift. Then you’ve got femur movement on the pelvis, so the femur moves and the pelvis stays fixed. And that’s things like reverse hypers and things like that. And then you’ve got an exercise like the Nordic hamstring, which is effectively femur on tibia. So we’re talking distal hamstring now. So we’ve got proximal hamstring with pelvis on femur, and then we got distal hamstring.


They’re very different, I guess, exercises from a mechanics perspective. And what I’m seeing is lots of people trying to implement really advanced exercises. Actually what I’m seeing right now is the opposite of that. Now the bands. Everyone’s using the bands and everything. I can tell you how many girls develop world class physics with bands. None.


If you want to develop world class physique, you can’t get away from the basics. You got to dead lift, you got to squat, that’s just tough. That’s how you do it. If you’re thinking pelvis on femur, you’re thinking things like Romanian deadlifts, stiff-leg deadlifts, good mornings, glute-hamstring raises, things like that. If you’re thinking pelvis on femur, you’re thinking things like reverse hypers, sprinter lunge, things like that. Femur on tibia is your Nordics, glute-hams raises, hip thrusts, things like that as well.


You get an element of pelvis on femur with your thrust. Thrusts have become hugely popular, of course. Everyone’s doing glute thrusts.


No? You’re doing them?


Greg:       They look good.


Mac:        Are you doing them?


Greg:       They look good on Instagram.


Mac:        Please tell me you’re not doing them.


Greg:       I’m not doing them.


Mac:        No. Good.


Greg:       I’ve had back surgery, mate. It’s the last thing I’m doing. I don’t think any bald 50 year old man should be seen doing those either.


Mac:        Got no business doing it. So I’m pleased to hear that you’re not. It leads into that conversation around fiber types.


We know some stuff, and this is down to keeping the main thing the main thing. If you want to heat glutes, glutes are roughly 50/50 fast twitch, slow twitch. We’ve already mentioned.


Greg:       Yeah. 50/50.


Mac:        Biarticular muscle, means that it crosses two joints. So if you think about your glutes, bicep femoris, being the main one, is about 65 to 70 percent slow twitch, and only about 30, 35 percent fast twitch. Whereas your quad, your rectus femoris, is going to be the opposite of that.


Greg:       OK.


Mac:        So, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and even vastus medialis, your quadricep muscles, are going to be 30, maybe 35, 40 percent slow and maybe 65, 70 percent fast twitch.


Greg:       OK.


Mac:        So how you hit glutes versus how you hit the hammies, versus how you hit quads, are very different in terms of your prioritisation of exercises, well, not just exercises but reps and sets. So literally if you want to work glutes, you’re going to mix it up — heavy stuff and high volume work. If you want to work hamstrings, you need to go high volume. They’re 60 percent slow twitch, so you need to go high volume. High volume, I mean 12s, 15s, 18 reps. And it might only be 65, 70 percent of your 1RM.


Greg:       OK.


Mac:        Whereas if you want hit quads, you’re talking, OK, well I’ve only got about 30 or 40 percent fast twitch, I’m still going to have to squat heavy, and unfortunately the best exercise for hitting quads is probably still squats. I’ve got to go heavy. I don’t need to do a ton of volume.


And then it will vary. So, adductor magnus, longus brevis, and those type of muscles — roughly 50/50, maybe a little bit more, sort of 60 percent slow twitch. Your gastrocs, so your calf, the calf, the lateral gastroc, it’s about 50/50, but interestingly, soleus is about 85 percent slow. So high volume for soleus.


How do you hit soleus versus gastroc?


Greg:       That’s a good question.


Mac:        Easy. So, because gastroc is biarticular…


If you want to take gastrocnemius out of the exercise and work as soleus, which sits underneath the gastroc, bend your knee.


Greg:       OK.


Mac:        So, seated calf rowers aren’t for your gastroc, they’re for soleus, and they’re high rep. So you don’t need to put 18 plates on a seated calf raise. You need to do 20 reps. That’s pretty much how you do it. You can mix it up pretty considerably around that.


Again, we’ll recognise the work that Brad Contreras, the glute guy, may have done a PhD on it, I think, made an industry out of training glutes. I don’t think he claims that he invented the thrust, I hope not. I think he claims to have brought it to the fitness industry, and that’s cool.


There’s a couple of different types of thrusts you can do. There’s thrusts off a bench. There’s thrusts on the floor. Yeah, you can modify that pretty significantly how you want to do it. Hip thrusting, absolutely recruits your glute max. No question. Right? And then every, mainly girl who’s done that will agree to it. And that’s probably most people’s go-to.


You got about 300 percent increase in glute max recruitment from a thrust off a bench than a squat.


Greg:       300 percent?


Mac:        Yeah, it’s pretty big. That’s based on Contreras’s research. Quad-wise, it’s probably comparable, but for glutes you’ll get a much larger recruitment. So if you do a hip thrust off the floor though, you’ll get a larger amount of hamstring versus glute, for that type of movement. So even there’s an example of just manipulating, shift up your thrust, and you can hit more glute or more hamstring. And then there, you can put your feet close together or put them a little bit wider apart, you can recruit a little bit more adductor, things like that.


Reverse hypers are a really good exercise for developing glute. So reverse hyper is where you would — there are machines, but it’s effectively where you put your torso on a bench, keep your legs straight and bring the leg up to do like a back extension, only your back doesn’t move, your legs move.


People can google what a reverse hyper is. Reverse hyper will give you a comparable glute and max glute activation and hamstrings to a thrust. So there’s a few different things you can do there.


Greg:       OK.


Mac:        Deadlift-wise, much larger amount of hamstrings versus all the other lifts. So if you want to hit your hammies, you still got to dead lift — inconvenient truth of life — and then even within deadlifting, variations with Romanian deadlifts. Romanians will give you about 300 or 400 percent more adductor than they will a thrust. If you want to bring your adductors in — and for total leg development, you need to develop your adductors. They’re the inside of your leg muscles. There’s a few different things you can do to manipulate that. Same with back extensions. They’re comparable with things like deadlifts, thrusts for hamstrings, much more so than glutes.


A lot of people asked me about specificity. Do I need to squat all the way to the floor or can I just do half squats? If you look at the research in terms of recruitment profiles based on EMG, electromyography, so we can measure the electrical activity in the muscles — and that’s how we do these — there’s not a lot of difference.


Greg:       That right?


Mac:        Yeah.


The problem is that most people say they’re doing a half squat, but they’re only doing like a quarter squat. You’ve still got to go to about 90 degrees of knee flexion. And you will recruit — it’s a little bit different — but roughly the same amount of quadricep, versus going all the way to the bottom of the floor. So you don’t really need to do it.


The other one that’s really good exercise for your glutes is a high bench step. But it’s got to be high, almost so high that you need someone to help you get up there. Because it puts you into hip flexion position, so you’ve got a large amount of gluteal stretch effectively happening, and then you step through onto the bench and you recruit your glutes. If you have priorities his glutes, then you need a bit of everything.


And a lot of people are doing that in terms of the exercise selection to isolate those. If you just want to concentrate on quads, then you still have to stay with the squats. You don’t need to do a hell of a lot of deadlifting if you just want to develop your quads, and less so on the thrust as well. And hammies, if your priority is hamstrings, and I just started this chat off by saying that it is for a lot of competitors now, then you got to deadlift, and mix them in with your Romanians, and you should get good adaptation of the back of it.


Greg:       Sweet.


OK, Dr Mac, so I see people doing these Nordics on the floor versus using the pull down seat. What’s the best way?


Mac:        Either can be effective. Though, like I said before, there’s a fair risk of injury with it. So if you’re doing them on the floor and you’re kneeling on the floor and someone’s holding your feet, what’s the worst case scenario? Well, the idea is that you’re able to literally relax and fall forward and you can catch yourself with your hands. So, safety factor, high. If you’re doing it turned around — and for the listeners who haven’t tried this, and I’m not recommending you do — so you take a pull down machine that has a seat, and a pad for your, supposed to be for your thighs, turn around on it, kneel on it, and tuck your heels underneath the pad. That’s what you’re talking about there. Then let you torso go forward. The default is that when you have to release, you to got to fall all the way to the floor, so no where near as safe — would be the comment I would make to you.


And I see a lot of people doing these, and they’re only moving maybe 10, 15 degrees. They’re sort of just swaying. You’re wasting your time. In terms of bang for your buck, and in terms of being able to recruit hamstrings, one of the keys is having a full range of movement. So a little partial active contraction and relax is not really achieving much at all in terms of muscle adaptation. And anatomically, if you think about the hamstrings, they’re predisposed to injury, perhaps more so than any other muscle in the body. They are biarticular in nature. When you run or when you are doing any sort of activity, they’re involved with hip flexion. Hip flexion, during knee extension, you get this concentric contraction with a large amount of lengthening, so you get concurrent hip flexion and knee extension.


The most common time people tear their hamstrings when they’re running, it’s during terminal swing phase. Is as your foot comes down to the ground and you’re extending at the knee, and you are extending at the hip. So you’re getting pulled proximally, the pelvis area, and distally, down to the attachment or the tibia, they’re both getting pulled in another direction. So you’re trying to slow down the knee and drive your leg down to the floor. So that’s where your hamstrings really compromise.


The other thing which is kind of interesting with the hamstring is that we have a long head of our bicep femoris, and we have a short head. So this is effectively, like your biceps in your arm, there’s a long head and a short head. So it’s the same in your biceps femoris, so the back of your leg. So we’re talking about the hamstrings.


The interesting thing with respect to injury and probably more so, rehab, with hammie injuries that the long head and the short head are innervated by two different nerve branches. Innervation means it’s the nerve supply. The long head is innervated by what’s called the tibial portion of the sciatic nerve. Most people have heard of the sciatic nerve. Whereas the short head is innervated by the common peroneal branch. So you’ve got two power supplies to one muscle. So if you get any sort of de-synchronised propagation of action potential, so if the stimulus to that muscle is compromised in any way — and there’s lots of ways that it can be compromised — then you get a de-synchronised muscle contraction and increased propensity for injury. And that’s really common with rehab. That’s why a lot of people tear their hammies within the first three weeks of return to sport. Because they have this de-synchronized innervation to the muscle. And it’s because of that dual innervation that is a big factor.


The other thing, way back at the start of this, I was talking about myofibrils and fascicles. Fascicles — the short head of the bicep femoris has relatively longer fascicles than the long head. So fascicle length is a player in this as well. When you have different types of fascicle length, we have again, potentially a predisposition for injury. The short head also has a smaller, what we call a physiological cross sectional area. Physiological cross sectional area, to break it down, refers to the number of little muscle fibers that are attached on to the tendon. When they’re on an angle, say at 45 degrees, you can pack many, many more fibers onto that tendon, versus just if they square on, you won’t get as many. So it’s anatomical, versus physiological cross sectional area, because it’s got a smaller physiological cross sectional area and longer fascicles, that’s a more troublesome scenario from a loading perspective than if it’s got larger physiological cross sectional area and shorter fascicles. But which is fairly complicated, but there’ll be people in the audience who know exactly what I’m talking about.


Greg:       So from a ham performance perspective in elite sport, are you guys looking at this when you’re signing athletes?


Mac:        Not when you’re signing. No. Because you won’t know that. I wouldn’t have thought.


So, I’ve actually got a PhD student who — we might get him on here, he’s a sports physiotherapist and we might get him on here and talk about it — but looking at fascicle length and innervation characteristics in the bicep femoris.


People will want to debate this, but a large number of the injuries are in the proximal tendon of the long head of the bicep femoris. That’s right up underneath the gluteal fold under your butt, and that’s where most people tear their hamstrings.


To the haters out there — not every hamstring injury is there, but that’s where a lot of them are. Right? Man, I get a lot of people just want to bring the hate. But let me tell you…


Greg:       It’s a broadcast, it’s not about the hate.


Mac:        I know. It’s not a lecture. Right? Although it sounds like that sometimes.


There’s some work being done by a guy, by Dave O. Power, that was done quite a few years ago now. And again, recognising that research around alterable and un-alterable risk factors– there’s some things in life you can’t do anything about that really increase your risk of hamstring injury. One is your age. And we know that. And it starts early. Over 24 years of age, we see an increase in risk for every year of age of round about 1.3 to 1.8 times.


Greg:       Is that right?


Mac:        Yeah.


It’s pretty big. The biggest indicator of risk for injury is a previous injury. So if you’ve torn your hamstring… Let’s say you tear your hamstring in 2018, you’ve got to eleven times likelihood of injuring it again next year. It’s huge.


Greg:       Wow.


Mac:        And there’s other issues around muscle fibre distribution, so whether or not people have a propensity for type 2, type 2X, top 2As, type 1s. There’s a bit of ethnicity around that as well. It’s a bit of an unsubstantiated landscape research-wise.


There are some things we can change though, that are indicative. One is strength and balances. And we know that quadricep, hamstring, strength ratios that are not particularly great — only sort of point-five, point-six — will see an increased risk. So the closer that strength profile between your quad and your hammie, the closer that is, the less risk.


We’ve been doing force-power profiling in athletes for decades. I listen to a lot of podcasts. A lot of people talking about it like it’s new. But when you think of thing called a Reactive Strength Index, and RSI, and we can measure the ratio of your force capabilities, and your power capabilities with things like jumping and so forth. So you can profile athletes whether they are force-dominant or a power-dominant athlete, and then you train them in different ways.


So, your force-dominant athlete, they might be the person that are doing the heavy sled pushes. The power-dominant athlete is the one that’s got a lighter sled, who’s flying, doing high acceleration work.


The other one is asymmetry. So it matters. If your left one is stuffed and your right one is good, that’s a problem. That’ll play havoc with your mechanics, your gait mechanics, your running mechanics. So it doesn’t have to be great. The research tells us, as little as eight percent variation in strength characteristics between your left hamstring and your right hamstring leads to an increased risk. Fairly subtle issue.


Same with range of movement. If you’ve got one hamstring, you’ve got, for example, with more prominent perhaps with risk for calf injuries, but we look at a thing called “nedawol” or dorsiflexion range. And that’s where you bring your toes up towards your shin. So if you’ve got a remarkable variation between left and right, you’ve got a higher risk of injury. And that makes sense, right? If one you can hardly move and the other has got lots of flexibility, then like I said way that can have very first podcast, nothing happens in isolation, there’s a cause and effect. If you’ve got really poor range in your left ankle, then your knee cops it, and your knee is not built it the carry it, so then it goes to the hip, then it ends up into your lower back, into your shoulder, and next thing you know you get neck pain. So there’s lots of things going on there, and that happens with postsurgical people when they’ve been in a boot for a long time. They loose range. Getting that range back is really important. So that increases risk of injury across the board.


So there’s my little rant.


The other one, while we’re talking about exercises and rants is probably my other bugbear, which is bench press technique.


Greg:       We need to music for your bugbears. I should just drop the music as it comes on.


Mac:        It should just come in.


Bench press — this is the other thing I see a lot in social media, is different technique. And I’m not going to rave on about this one.


But when it comes to the bench press — I want to know how you bench press. Do you bench press?


Greg:       Oh, not a helluva lot, mate, I’m all functional training these days.


Mac:        Oh. Functional.


Greg:       I know you love that word. On my journey.


Mac:        Functional training.


Greg:       We don’t like that much to bench press to be honest.


Mac:        My only bugbear with functional, is people think just because you take a barbell out of it, it’s functional. Swinging a kettlebell, how many times a day you’re going to throw a rope on the floor? So you can work and do rope slams? That’s what I mean. How functional is a rope slam. I’m not sure, alright. That’s my question. I don’t know.


Greg:       That’s a good question.


Mac:        So how functional is slamming a medicine ball into the floor. Really. Versus some other exercise? I mean, does it help you get out of a chair? Any more than a squat?


Greg:       No. I think you’re right.


Mac:        People say… I say, well, everyone says, well it’s functional this and it’s functional that. And I’m like, tell me what’s functional about, yeah, like a rope slam? I don’t know what’s functional about that. Someone maybe can tell me.


Greg:       I normally think about people when I’m doing it. So it serves a different purpose.


Mac:        Well, fair enough.


I mean, if you work in a labor-intensive job and you’re swinging on the end of a shovel or an ax all day — hundred percent. But that’s probably the last thing you want to do — at the end of the day.


I was going to talk about bench press. Because there’s a couple of different types of bench we see. We see the strong man type bench press, which is the huge arch of the back — and I’m getting into some water here that we people’s ears prick because it’s a pretty contentious, that where people get their feet right up under their bum…


Greg:       You’re not a fan of that. I know you’re not a fan.


Mac:        No. Well I am if you’re a power lifter.


Greg:       Oh, for power lifting…


Mac:        This is what the whole crux of this talk is about. Keep the main thing the main thing. Right?


If you want to get strong and it’s all about load and angle resistance arm, then that’s how you bench, right? That’s why power lifters bench that way.


But if you want to recruit pec major, then that’s not how you bench. If you want to recruit pec major — and again, don’t shoot me, shoot Brad Contraras, because Brad’s the dude that’s pumping this research out; he calls it a guillotine bench press; but it’s a standard bench press with your feet on the floor, your bum on the bench, your back on the bench, your scapula on the bench, and you do your bench press, right? The traditional — what I would call a traditional bench press. Irrefutably, the EMG research that’s been done tells us if you want to recruit pec major, you do guillotine benchpress, you don’t do the big arch of the back, you know, power lifter type benchpress. That’s a very different way. And again, from a loading perspective with muscle fiber type distribution, again based on the research of the ’70s, and I know that was a long time ago, but human evolution hasn’t changed that much.


Fibre types, I’m talking about — your pec major is about 60 percent fast twitch and about 40 percent slow. There should be a tendency for heavier lifting in your bench, if you flat bench.


Deltoid, front of your shoulder, for those that aren’t up with their anatomy — so for your shoulder press, your dumbbell raises and things like that, probably 55, 60 percent slow twitch, maybe 40, 45 percent fast twitch. So it’s more of a volume based training. You hit more volume for your delts.


And for every muscle we’ve got a fair idea. Biceps is about 50/50. You go to get heavy. You know, if you’re going to pick cherries, you’re never going to get big, right? So you go to lift something heavy eventually with your biceps as well.


Triceps is much more, believe it or not, fast twitch, about 70 percent fast twitch. You go to get out of your comfort zone a little bit with triceps. Everything. Erector spinae, so, longissimus thoracis all of those, about 55 percent slow twitch. Things like — everything. Everything has a muscle fibre type distribution. Your abs are about 45 percent slow, about 55 percent fast. If you want to hit abs, just don’t do a thousand sit ups, just do it, put it under some, get some freight, get under a bar, or do something.


You know, that’s interesting, in terms of what we know about fiber typing and exercise selection, which I’ve talked about, and also the prescription or the programming of the exercises around volume loads. Like I said, if it’s slow twitch, it’s high volume, it’s 12, 15, 18, 20 reps. if it’s fast twitch, it’s maybe as low as 3 reps, 4 reps, 5 reps, 6 reps, up to 8 reps, something like that. And that’s how you train it. So, beauty of it is that you can mix it up quite nicely.


And coming back to conversation. Then it’s about, well let’s select the exercises, let’s put them in an order. And in terms of the order, there’s been a lot of research done around, well what order should I do things in? Should you come in and do your bicep curls and then do you pull the downs? Well it depends. And there is a technique called prexhaustion, which you would be familiar with, where, for example — I can’t squat, I’ve had four shoulder reconstructions, I can’t get a bar on the back. But I can do a safety bar squat, like a front squat. So I’ll often prexhaust my quads by doing leg extensions, which is an isolation exercise. But for me, I can’t squat five plates a side any more, because I can’t hold onto it any more. It’s pretty hard to front squat five plates a side.


Greg:       Yeah, it would be.


Mac:        Fairly intense.


Greg:       Did you try?


Mac:        I don’t think I’ve ever tried that. No.


So I do my leg extensions first. And it serves as a bit of a warmup. Blows out my quads, gets a heap of blood into my quads, and then all down and do my front squats or my safety squat or whatever it might be.


But traditionally, and there’s been a lot of research around this, you do, from our total workload perspective and from a recruitment perspective, the recommendations are our compound movements. So are big, so your squats, your deadlifts, things like that, you do them first, early in the work out. Two reasons. You neurally, from a neuro perspective, you are fresh, so there’s no prexhaustion taking place. So from a neural perspective, the ability to recruit higher or auto motor units. And when I say higher auto motor units, I mean your type 2 fibres, fast twitch. You want to get them going. And we’ve already said, depending on what you’re trying to do, depending on the muscle type you need to, that’s a reasonable strategy, and to train those earlier.


If you particularly want to really develop — if your biceps are really a weak point, then you want to train them early. Do them first if that’s what your weak point is.


So there’s lots of ways we can play around with it. We’ll do some other podcasts on some other topics. But in terms of how I do programming…


We could probably talk about that. We think about fibre type distribution. We think fundamentally around goal. Then we talk about, well, are there any limitations to what we can do in terms of exercises? Has the person had for shoulder recos? I’ve had two on each side, which makes it challenging. Or whatever else. You’ve had stuff happen — surgery, back and so forth. And then, let’s identify what the objective is. If it’s hypertrophy, if its strength. And then let’s dial in the repetition range and the loading according to that. Put them in an order so that I’m gonna get my best bang for my buck. I’m going to do my big stuff first. I’m going to deadlift early, and do my Romanians. Things like that. Depends what I want to do.


And so then I’ll do a few other things. And this thing I picked up about a decade ago. And I won’t get into it today. And I’ve seen Charles Poliquin do this a lot. Credit to Charles Poliquin on that around what he does with neuro transmitted profiling. And there’s some good stuff we can do. And you and I have talked about this before. And there’s a test. We can just call it Braverman. It’s been around for quite a long time. I actually got onto it through some military context, probably a decade ago.


But we can look at not only whether or not someone has a… We get a profile, whether it’s a dopamine profile or acetylcholine, or gaba, whatever, but we can identify inadequacies there as well, so we can modify our training there. So dopamine dominant — I’m a dopamine dominant sort of person. You need high intensity. I could go in and do lots of reps and I feel like I haven’t done anything. I need to get under a bar and lift something heavy. Your acetylcholine people mixed-method type thing, I find them pretty easy to work with.


So there are a whole lot of ways that we can manipulate and modify what we’re trying to do from a training perspective, which is great, because we got variation.


You want to be asking your trainer. Well, not exactly those. But you want to be asking them, OK, I want to develop my glutes. We’ve already said — the glutes are important for physique competition, particularly in females, already said the hammies are the new glutes. That presents some challenges, because is biarticulate.


Greg:       Sounds like a tee shirt.


Mac:        What’s that.


Greg:       Hammies are the new glutes.


Mac:        Hammies are the new glutes. Well, maybe. I mean, I think it is, from a competitive perspective. What are you going to do? And how you going to do it?


Greg:       That’s actually a good question. How are you going to do it?


What are your top five exercises for glutes? Let’s go. Number one.


Mac:        Oh, well, you’ve got to thrust. I will do both the different types of thrusts. So I would do the thrust from a bench.


Greg:       Number one.


Mac:        Yep. You thrust from the floor.


Greg:       Number two.


Mac:        That’s probably two,


Actually, you want exercise that is pretty good… Well, your reverse hyper has to be in there. That’s probably your third.


Glute bridges, as opposed to your thrusts, a little bit of a variation on that.


Greg:       Number four.


Mac:        Yeah, probably four.


And then there’s an exercise that I’ve never been a fan of, but the EMG data is supportive of it. I said Romanian deadlifts — is, you see people doing it on a cable pull through. I don’t really like them. I like high box step ups, probably number five, in terms of your go-tos for your glutes.


You can rip into them quite nicely. And doesn’t mean you do every one of those every workout. It means you mix it up. Anyone who’s worked with me knows that I like reverse pyramids in terms of my loading. My philosophy’s always — heavy set, first set. We come in, we do our warmup and then if I’m trying to get strong, if you want to get strong, then I want to lift. And that might take four or five sets. I’m also an advocate of warming up with whatever it is I’m about to do. That means, if I’m in a bench, I’m going to warm up on a bench. I’m not going to grab a two-kilo dumbbell and do some silly little wave my arms in the air and convince myself I’m recruiting superspinatus and infraspinatus. You know, I’m talking about?


Greg:       Oh, I’ve seen you in the gym. Yep.


Mac:        Yeah. Warmup specificity, as much as exercise specificity, and then throw some freight on the bar and get underneath it. That’s my philosophy. And you might do six or eight.


And then if you’ve done that properly, then you can drop the load a little bit, by 5 percent, 10 percent, do your next set, and you get the same reps out, and then your next set will be a 5 or 10 percent drop on that, do your next set. So you still meet your volume requirement, and you’re meeting your intensity requirements.


Or, then, ascending sets is where you do, you know, go the other way, and by the time you’re on your fifth set, you’ve already done four sets and you’re exhausted and you’re trying to lift your heaviest weight. Defeats the purpose. Right?


Greg:       Makes sense.


Mac:        Yeah. You play around with that. That’s my thing. And compound exercises ahead of isolation. It’s a given.


Greg:       So we’ve done top five glute. What’s your top five hammie?


Mac:        Top five hammie. Do you have a top five hammie?


Greg:       Me personally?


Mac:        Yeah.


Greg:       No, mate. I’m asking you. You’re the doctor.


Mac:        No. That’s OK.


Hamstrings-wise, deadlift, and deadlift variations — traditional deadlift, Romanian deadlift. So one and two, probably, dead and Romanian.


The other one would be a back extension. So you can work a bit more hamstring on your back extension type movements. It depends a lot on what you’re trying to do, but there is nothing wrong with doing your traditional hamstring curl. You’re still going to recruit hamstring. Right? So there’s no reason why you can’t do that. They’re probably the main go-tos for your hammies.


Greg:       That was only four. Wasn’t it?


Mac:        Yeah. Well, throw in whatever you like. You can do a single leg bridge. You get a fair bit of hamstring with that. So you know what a bridge is? Foot ups on the bench. Yeah. OK.


So single leg bridges work pretty well. Bent knee bridges, loaded, with a band, mix it up a little bit.


Greg:       So the band’s OK now?


Mac:        No, no. I’m talking resistance band. Not talking the band that you put around your knees. I’m talking the resistance bands that you wrap around the bar, not around your body. Two different bands.


Greg:       Yeah.


Mac:        Yeah. Good. I’m a big fan of the resistance band. Less of a fan of the other band.


Greg:       Yes.


Mac:        And people will want to shoot me. And hopefully people will still listen to his podcast after that because they’re very popular.


Greg:       If we could chuck in some freebies in from a man who’s done 14 years of study. We might as well throw quads in there as well.


Mac:        Well, you know, if you’re going to train quads, you’ve got to squat. Right?


That’s pretty much the story of life.


Greg:       You’ve said that before, yes.


Mac:        So I would do your barbell squat. You can do front squat.


Greg:       Two, squats. Yep.


Mac:        I actually advocated, for athletic populations, that they don’t go very deep. They just do their half squat. And even for some populations they just do quarters.


So if you’re really explosive — you NRL guys, they don’t have to squat to the floor. There’s no reason in the world.


They’re probably the main. There’s only three.


Greg:       There’s two.


Mac:        For quads? Yeah.


Greg:       Five. We promised five.


Mac:        They’re probably your go-tos. You can still get an element of… Although for guys, I wouldn’t get them to thrust, just on principle, but you can get some of that with some of the movements there.


Hipflexion type movements. Anything like that will work pretty well for your quads. Leg press — nothing wrong with that. Move around your feet. It depends on what equipment you’ve got available to you, but there are some really good squat machines.


I like safety squats, you know, with the safety bar. Front squats, I’m a big fan of front squats. Sumos — single leg variations on that. Good option.


Hack squats. Turn around the other way, and do your hack squat in reverse would be my recommendation. They’re probably your go-tos for that sort of thing. And get some volume in.


So if you want to develop muscle mass, I think people dramatically undertrain. You’ve got to do — and people won’t probably like this — but you’ve got to probably do 15, 16, 18 reps per body part, sorry, per body part. Not per exercise. That’s just four exercises with four sets, there’s your 16 sets. Right? Not that hard to do. And you can do that with drop sets, super sets, and all that sort of stuff. Compounds stuff. There’s probably a podcast around terminology there with regard to giant sets and supersets, and push-pull options and…


Greg:       Not a bad idea actually.


Mac:        Yeah, so there’s a few things you can do.


Greg:       So mate, can we drop a little top five concept at the bottom of this podcast for people will have a look at it?


Mac:        Yeah, for sure.


And I think you just mix it up. A lot of girls particularly are hitting legs four times a week.


Greg:       How many?


Mac:        Four.


I know lots of girls competing in physique comps hitting their legs four times a week, minimum three.


I would just be saying to them, you’ve got to mix it up. So what I would do in that scenario, if I’m going to hit legs three times a week, and I needed to develop everything, then I will give a prioritisation to whatever part. Like, if you want to want to work on glute, quad and hammie, and you’re training legs three times a week, which is what a lot of people are doing. So for me, I would go, Monday’s a glute day. I would lead off with my glute exercise, I probably did two, like, thrusts, and those sorts of movements early on. Get some load in there. And then it might be only a couple of exercises on quad, and a couple of exercises on hammie. You’re not there all day. But you’d still satisfy your volume loading. So it might be prioritisations on glutes. So let’s get our 16 sets of glutes. Then let’s do… It might only be eight sets of quads, or whatever it might be, and there might only be eight sets of hammies. Then you come in on the… You’ve had your glutes on Monday. I will do quad on Wednesday, and then I would do it the other way around. First couple of exercises is going to be quads, followed up by hammie, followed up what glute. So whatever you do first is your prioritization. Whatever you last is going to be stuffed, fatigued, cooked. And then on the Friday it’s hammie-dominant day, so I’d come in, I’ll hit my hammies early. Do the hammies first, followed by glute, followed by quad. So everything has had an opportunity to be first, second and third over your week. And then you pick your exercises, load up your volumes, and you’re in good shape. And then if you’re training the other days, you would do the rest of the — your chest and you delts, and your arms and your back on the other days. So you might do a chest and arms on a Tuesday. You might do your back and something else on the Thursday. And Saturday might be your wrap up day. You might do a full body circuit. There’s a heap of things you can do.


That’s what I would do around prioritisation, of a muscle groups. Rather than come in and hit glutes first every day. Then something else is going to lack. So it’s going to be… You might still say, well, I’m still training my quads every day, but I’m doing them last. You’re not going to get the adaptation that you would get if you put them first. And you might mix that up a little bit, where glutes are first on two of those days, depending on what you need, and that’s how we do it.


Greg:       Nice.


Mac:        Pretty simple.


Greg:       well that’s been a big podcast, mate. Thanks for that.


Mac:        Easy. Keep the main thing the main thing.


Greg:       Exactly. BodyScience.com.au/podcast to grab those notes, download those top five tips, grab those research papers we mentioned on the way through. Enjoy.


Mac:        Awesome.

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