Podcast 146: Paul Serafini – Current Research on Training to Failure


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Paul Serafini is currently doing graduate research into hypertrophy, protein and nutrition.

He has a BS in exercise science, is a coach himself and has a very impressive physique. In today’s episode we talk about some of his up and coming research into training to failure. We also cover what the evidence currently says and Paul’s own personal experience with himself and clients.

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Time stamps:

  • 04:24 Paul talks about his study about training vs. non-failure
  • 05:36 Paul goes into talking about the study design
  • 08:02 Hypothesis on what’s about to happen
  • 09:37 Summarises his observations
  • 16:42 Paul gives insight into what he does himself with his training
  • 23:35 Paul’s experience with the consequences of training to failure
  • 27:02 How to sell people for not going to failure and transition to RIR
  • 31:40 Clients that do not train hard enough
  • 35:04 Paul speaks about future research and influences

Links Mentioned:


Steve: Hi guys, welcome to the Revive Stronger podcast. I am your host as always Steve Hall. and I am welcomed by Paul saphereenie…. or Saffini… sorry I want to make sure I’m saying it right, is that right?

Paul: Serafini

Steve: Where is that based?  

Paul: It’s Italian.

Steve: Italian, I thought it was.

Paul: I’m not Italian though.

Steve: Oh, no, disappointed now. So some of you might have heard about Paul, paulie_rocket over on Instagram, I’ve kind of spoke to Paul a little bit here or there over on Instagram and he’s doing some really interesting stuff and I wanted to share that with you guys. That’s what the podcast is all about, kind of sharing great information with everyone and Paul is doing some great work at the moment so a little bit of background about Paul; He has a BS in exercise science and is a graduate research assistant at Kennesaw State University and he’s doing that in hypertrophy, protein and nutrition so he’s doing some really exciting research and that is what we’re going to be talking about today but I said to Paul I don’t have a lot of background about him and I was  doing some research to try and find more but I.. I failed so I was going to let Paul kind of If there’s anything more you want to expand about your background for anyone listening to this, you probably can’t see how massive Paul’s delts and traps are but they are, so he’s a bit of a bodybuilder himself but without further ado, I’ll let you hit the floor, Paul.

Paul: Yeah, so I am currently getting my masters at Kennesaw State, I’ve been involved in research now god.. I got involved in research back as an undergrad and my earlier stuff working with my professors was more geared towards high-intensity functional training and then now I’ve kind of had the opportunity moving forward to do a little bit more relating to like the resistance training and bodybuilding.. kind of what revolves around my thesis, originally I actually did come on as a research assistant to do some, because you mentioned the protein metabolism, but that was an endeavour that actually fell through and didn’t get that opportunity but other than that I do quite a bit of online coaching so there is.. you know.. I have my company Empirical training and nutrition but my biggest focus lately has been Gifted Performance which is a coaching group with my coach and a couple other really smart guys and coaches so..

Steve: And you compete yourself or have you competed before?

Paul: I actually haven’t, years ago I was super, super into the whole natural bodybuilding to me I mean back when I first got into discovering like Layne Norton and the science aspect and getting into finding Alberto Nunez but I got pretty burned out early on and I kind of took a step away, and so actually beginning coaching again, and a lot of the recent endeavours of the past year I’ve sort of refound my I guess good old love for bodybuilding and the goal is upon graduation to kind of finally take that launch and do that first show.

Steve: No, I think that’s smart that you’re not, well you’ve got your priorities straight. I think it’s a bit ambitious to try and get like a master’s and compete, taking yourself to that sort of level of leanness and stuff doesn’t kind of allow for the most functioning brain.

Paul: Oh man, dude, it’s crazy because outside of my thesis obviously there’s coaching and I’ve like fold stacked list of clients but I’ve transitioned a little more away from the research recently and now I have like a teaching load at Kennesaw with the strength and conditioning practical life, so there’s a lot going on.

Steve: So in terms of this actual study which is what we’re going to talk about you kind of put it to me as you’re designing a study to push forward a bit on getting more literature on failure versus non failure training and this is something that everyone listening there is have now picked up so if you want to first introduce the study, what you’re looking to do and then we can dig in from it.

Paul: Yeah so it’s an acute study, essentially I’ll be looking at two different bench press protocols one will be 80 percent, five sets, every set to failure, and the other will be using a protocol where they do the same load 80% but they stop that first set where they feel they’re about three RIR, three reps shy of failure, whatever number of reps they get for that set, they continue for the next three sets and then their last set taken to failure, and then with that we have about three days of post-testing where they come back and we take blood for measures of muscle damage (creatine kinase) and we also do our performance measure, so we’ll take 80% & we’ll hook up a tendo-unit to it which is used to measure power velocity and measure 80% done with triples to look at that performance-recovery aspect.

Steve: You said it’s an acute study so is it just that one off session they’re doing and then you’re measuring after that?

Paul: Yeah, so basically like a time course to recovery so yeah, very, very short, yeah.

Steve: Cool, and the participants they’re trained or who are you looking to do it on?

Paul: Yes, so I used, kind of how I did this was there’s a minimum of three years of training experience required but I used the class three classification system of the USPA, United States Powerlifting Association which is what they need to move forward to go to Nationals. Roughly that bench press would be about 1.5 times body weight, which a pretty decent bench press. I will say though with how crazy things have been with recruitment I’m on the fence of decreasing the strength requirements to get studies in. I’m sure a lot of the listeners they’ve never really done research themselves and so, recruiting can be insane. Especially when you talk about the convenience of you know most studies are done on University campuses so you’re recruiting across the university, at the gym rec and so you have people that are mostly between the age of 18 and 23, average body weight maybe 165-170 and you’re asking them the bench 250 or something and it becomes pretty difficult but they have recruited some pretty strong individuals.

Steve: Yeah, I was gonna say one and a half times body weight bench press that’s good bench pressing. There are not that many guys in your local gym that are gonna be doing that unless you go to like a bodybuilding gym, so yeah, I can see that being difficult. How many participants are you looking to recruit?

Paul: 15, but it’s a crossover design so the N size is 30.

Steve: Okay cool, and then from this study I guess do you have any hypothesis of what you expect to happen already or do you have any inklings into what you think you’re gonna see and then from that what implications do you think that has for someone training?

Paul: Yeah, oh, I forgot to mention, one comparison we’re doing as well is volume. So, that is one of my expected findings is that I would expect that the group going shy of failure, i.e. taking only that last set to failure to be at significantly greater volume over those five sets, and I would also expect for less muscle damage or quicker I guess clearance of creatine kinase, and then the faster recovery of performance as well.

Steve: And then does that I guess lead into what we currently have I guess with the state of the evidence of saying volume for hypertrophy is quite important and then it would, this study may well support the idea of not going to failure as often?

Paul: Yeah so, I mean essentially that’s the theoretical rationale. It’s that if you can recover faster between sessions or you can fit more sessions in overtime because your recovery is better, that over time this is more volume, and that in theory, you should end with more hypertrophy.

Steve: You said you’ve kind of dug into, the reason this came up is you dug into the failure versus non-failure research and you weren’t as convinced or there’s not a whole lot of data out there, I don’t know if you can kind of summarize what you’ve seen so far, what people are looking at and what the experts are saying at the moment?

Paul: Yeah, It’s actually interesting because, I think I explained to you this a little bit is that, throughout my own experience I think a lot of us come in and we just go straight to the wall, failure, beat ourselves down, someone along the way comes along and says “hey maybe there’s a better way” and you start training shy of failure and I think a lot of people tend to benefit from that especially if they’ve been banging against it for a while. Then getting involved into I guess you can say that “evidence-based” community, I mean science and bodybuilding, and powerlifting has gotten so huge a lot of people are behind the shy of failure thing right now and so for myself and coaching, I kind of just did it…I just accepted it as truth but then eventually I was like, wait, I need to have a reason for doing this. If the evidence-based crowd is saying to do this then there’s got to be a good amount evidence to support it, I need to know that, and so I dug a little deeper and I was like “Oh my god,  there is not a ton out there”, I think I even saw.. man, I don’t want to misquote him but I believe Helms did a paper like “Evidence Based guidelines” or something like that where their recommendations to say roughly most of the time 2-4 shy of failure, taking some movements to failure, going to failure occasionally or something like that. Started digging into that a little more and there wasn’t a ton there and so this study was in some ways very inspired by a previous study where they looked at, I believe that it was 75% for 5 sets of … no .. 3 sets of 10 I believe, every set to failure and then it was the 6 sets of 5, and then 3 sets of 5 and every set to failure group, they had big increases in creatine kinase so they had significant markers of muscle damage, performance was decreased but you know you have the sets of 5 at a 10RM and then the 3 sets of 5 also at a 10RM. Research like this, it’s really important because it’s done, they are looking to create this effect, a lot of people look at research and they think it may not answer the type of questions that we want answered but it serves its purpose to be built on over time. I just wanted to do something a little more similar to how people are actually training, like the previous studies just had I guess a little more to be desired and then it was really funny, once I started this, recruiting participants and getting started I think was even through maybe my first participant I found a study where it was kind of a follow-up to that study where they did different ones like sets of 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 you know and then every set to failure it was three sets and then the other ones were all half the reps so it was sets of 6 with a 12RM, 5 with a 10RM, so on and so forth, 8, 6 , 4 but with their rep maxes so 8RM, yeah. So that was really neat to see but still didn’t really reflect something a bit more practical I think, to what people are doing and especially using the RIR based strategy and so looking at, it’s been really neat to see Eric Helms and Zourdos really put a lot of that into their research lately and I think lay the groundwork for more of the failure versus non-failure research in a way that is a little easier to understand because a lot of the previous research in like failure versus non failure they don’t really use an RIR based system, it is kind of frustrating because when you sit down and there are some studies that lay it all out they give you like 12 weeks of training and they have their percentages lined up and these are percentages of 6 rep max but they don’t really talk about how far from failure they are. You have to sit down there calculating your okay 6 rep max- 85%, 80% of that- that’s a 68% of 1RM or something like that, and they are like okay they did 6 sets of 3 and then I am like “Oh man I can do that forever”. So a lot of the research, it’s really good research you know, I don’t like to bash other researchers because they put a lot of work into it, and just because it is not the answer I am necessarily looking or a lot of other people are looking for, it is still good research and can be built on so.. I feel like I got off on a tangent.

Steve: It was a good tangent.

Paul: When talking about, you know, when people bring up well what’s the research say, what’s the research say, lets talk about the previous research you know people like me and you I think we want to know what’s better, some dude goes into the gym and he takes every single set to failure, beats himself into the ground versus another guy that’s in that 4-2 or 4-1 reps in reserve or whatever and that’s the type of question that if you just look right, research only, you don’t take your anecdotal experience or coaching or anything like that you just can’t answer.

Steve: Right, I think that’s really important that you don’t take things at face level. I know that there have been lots of things i’ve just been like oh yeah somebody said this is the right thing to do so I’ll do that and that’s essentially how everyone starts you read magazines and you go and follow it and then you educate yourself so even when you see something being said as the way to do things by someone who is evidence-based I think it is important like you did to question it, to actually see ok they are supporting this, what are they supporting it with, is there actually something behind it because I think we can even get like we can let people become gurus even though we don’t want them to become a guru for us and they don’t want to be a guru but we just follow what they say and we’ve become kind of, we just kind of follow them dogmatically which is what evidence-based trainers are not meant to be doing so I think that’s really good. In terms of obviously that’s the research side you are trying to build upon that with your own clients and with yourself even you could talk about your own experience obviously said you did the whole failure thing where did you come and where are you now in terms of what you do with your training.

Paul: Yeah so, you know I’ve been lifting now for 11-12 years, something like that, yeah I am 29 I’ll be 30 soon I started lifting when I was like 18 I was in the army. Especially in that environment where everything is just about working hard, just grind yourself into the dirt and like most people you get your newb gains, you grind out for a while, you learn something new, then you get a spurt of growth, you grind out, spurt of growth. Every time you learn something new something gets better and so I think there was a point around year 3 of training I can’t remember how I came to it, I think somebody told me to try train shy of failure and I was just tired of really struggling, plateauing and I just tried it and I started with something back then I had no concept of repetitions in reserve, I didn’t know how to use percentages of 1RM anything like that so I did something that was pretty easy that I could achieve more reps on each set and every week I will just add two and a half on each side until eventually it’s like really hard and I look back and I am the strongest I’ve ever been and eventually around 5-6 years of training I hired a coach, he is all about failure training and I kind of go back to just grinding against thing pretty quickly there some things that improved because he actually introduced me to periodization in some form. Then eventually I just get really tired, the process just wore me out, kind of getting prescribed training intensities that weren’t realistic and you know, just grinding against them, hitting failure every set, and so I kind of did my own programming for a while and went back to the you know, still at this point no real concept of repetitions in reserve the way we know it now, and RPE based training but just the goal of leaving one or two reps in the tank each set and noticed really great progress, and then eventually you know, all this education goes by and I get my strength and conditioning classes and learn about percentages, and I am following all these uh, you know, researchers in the field everybody is talking about programming, and have a more refined method now I guess in terms of periodization and using repetitions in reserve and RPE along with 1RM percentages and stuff like that. In my experience it worked out pretty well, especially for a lot of clients what’s really neat to see is, um you know, we can talk about beginners all day and it’s almost like they can train to failure and get good results, they can train shy of failure and get good results and you may even argue well since they can train shy of failure maybe they should, they don’t need to work as hard. Even having a lot of people that come to you that are training to failure very frequently, even the advanced individuals, and finally they get some training that’s a little more reserved and you almost see this huge explosion in strength, like a supercompensation effect over several weeks, you know, so in general I have been a big fan, I know there are a lot of, there’s a lot of back and forth there a lot of people that argue that advanced individuals need training that’s very close or to failure very frequently, um, but in my experience it’s worked out pretty well and if you think about it too, uh like, for instance, I have a guy with a 430 squat, he did an AMRAP a couple of weeks ago for like seventeen.

Steve: Gee..

Paul: That’s huge and it’s deep, like he is a narrow high bar squatter, he has like the asian hips, yeah, but um, you know, when you have people this strong their loads are so heavy like even if they are shy of failure that’s got to be an insane stimulus, you know, when you have 500 pounds on the bar and you are doing whatever, you know, I know a lot of people now are talking about what is it that’s popular now, the theory of the effective reps and sets meaning be within a certain realm of failure, man, got off on another tangent.

Steve: It’s good.

Paul: Overall RIR is something that I use very very much so with my clients but at different capacities I’d say as well, so just like kind of how beginners may need less volume, less hard sets versus somebody who is maybe an intermediate, maybe with beginners they have a lot more submaximal sets so maybe they started at something that is 5 RIR and they finish at something that is 2-3 RIR, and then over the weeks this becomes something that is 3-4 RIR that does finish closer to 1 or 2 RIR or 0 RIR, or maybe with individuals that are more advanced maybe every single set is to 3 RIR for 1 week of a program, next week every single set is to 2 RIR it just kind of depends on the individuals because for some people may be sets that are 5 RIR are just not really the best use of time and so they need more of these 3 RIR sets. I hope that made sense.

Steve: Yeah no, I guess it’s you can kind of talk about the stimulus to fatigue ratio of like what’s like you get loads of stimulus with some fatigue with like 2-3 RIR whereas like 5 RIR you get barely any fatigue but the stimulus also is, yeah it’s not so much so whereas then like you talked about with failure training obviously there’s I mean if you are gonna do anything like to gain the most amount of muscle in kind of one day, yeah, do failure training because it is really stimulative but as the fatigue as you’ve kind of experienced with yourself is incredibly high and I was going to ask you about kind of obviously you talked about failure training kind of grounded you or grinded you into like the floor basically, in terms of that, what did that mean for you, did that mean you had to deload more frequently, you saw poorer performance or kind of staleness kicking in sooner, what were the problems you were feeling?

Paul: I think the biggest thing is just hitting those plateaus sooner in training and then getting those decrements in performance as well because I don’t think.. Like a lot of us would agree that failure is probably an appropriate tool to use sometimes, so the whole idea essentially is just to save yourself for upcoming sessions, essentially do enough work that is productive, that it’s a good stimulus but you don’t jack up your next workout and so hitting those failure sessions from week one of a training phase your week two could be awful or your week three and then having to potentially deload more often or just to me I often would just kind of feel like I stayed in the same place like I was always trying, I would come to the gym, grind against the weight, next week come to the gym, grind against a weight, next week come again to the gym and maybe get a decrement in performance. I think a lot of people have trouble with it because they have to check their egos and start someplace lower, so they can end higher but really they just want to stay at that high level all the time and just grind against it so..

Steve: Yeah, I absolutely see that and I guess maybe, and the reason I want to ask you about your own experiences because if there’s anyone listening who’s like that’s what they are experiencing now, I wanted you to talk through it so they think “Oh, maybe this is for me” and then I guess potentially that is when people move away from the failure training because I know, like we know there people out there who are more supportive of going very close to or to failure and obviously this inherently means a lower volume amount, if they are seeing results via that, why would they, they don’t necessarily have the reason to think I need to go back and it might just be that if and when that could possibly occur different people are kind of different in terms of genetic makeup, environment, recovery capabilities so it’s interesting to see it because obviously there are many people doing many things that are working and the most important is that you are training hard and like you said your guy who’s squatting that amount of work, it doesn’t matter if he is going to failure or not, he is squatting a ton of weight, that is going to be causing some sort of disruption so it doesn’t surprise me. In terms of like with you, unless you had anything to say on that, Paul.

Paul: Yeah, the only thing I want to say is that I definitely, that’s one distinction I try to make especially when I am talking about these things on social media and stuff is that I am not saying failure doesn’t work, there are plenty of people that, that they live by failure and they get super yoked, and get super strong and I can’t tell him he is wrong. But definitely with myself, a lot of clients and I think a lot of individuals especially when the failure doesn’t work out, the shy of failure tends to be like a saving grace.

Steve: Oh yeah, and then I was just gonna say with your advanced clients who come to you, who have come from that history, like that background of always pushing it really hard, and you’ve kind of talked about ego hit with having to take loads down a little bit. How do you kind of, do you have to sell it to them, how do you get them to adhere to it, is there any common problems you see kind of people running into when they do go through it?

Paul: Yeah,um,  a lot of people, a lot of people that come to me, they come to me because they trust me, like they’ve heard something from other clients and so they likely already have kind of have their buy-in but it can be a struggle you know, some people like to overanalyze repetitions in reserve because it is, it’s a quantifiable number, it’s how many reps you are from failure but I often have to get people to think more of it as more of like a concept and more like qualitative I guess like “Hey, 3 is medium kind of hard, 2 is hard, 1 is really hard and 0 is like the hardest you’ve ever done in your life”. And so there definitely are, it’s a certain personality type that it can really frustrate people because they need like a real “How do I know I was exactly there”, and it’s like you don’t but if you felt like you worked really hard it’s probably good enough, and over the weeks I am having you work closer to failure or taking certain sets to failure and you become more familiar with it, the more times, with every amrap, with every program. I also have them log like their weights, reps and try and perceive their RIR in each set, and so over time you refer back to old programs, like “I got this for 10, that was failure, I need to do this today, I should roughly land in this neighbourhood” and then you go by feel. What was the other, I feel like that was a loaded question, what was the rest of that?

Steve: It was just asking like, if there was people who struggle with it, especially advanced people and bodybuilders who love it, they love training hard and they struggle potentially, do you ever find they struggle to even leave the reps in reserve, they just struggle not to completely take it out, and have you found a way to help them kind of transition into it?

Paul: Oh yeah, so I feel like I’ve got pretty good success with getting people on repetitions in reserve you know, once they get those first training cycle, second training cycle and they start seeing like PRs and they are not as fatigued all the time, and they actually become more in tune with how they feel when they are under fatigue because before that’s just what it was, that was life, they have their deloads and now they have their easy weeks and then now on week 4 when they are taking things to 1 RIR or 0 RIR they are like “Hey, dude, like I feel like ass, I need a break”. So after getting the ball rolling things usually..just..

Steve:..Fall into place.

Paul: Yeah, it’s their thing, I have had some often it’s the really gifted guys that every set to failure and they are super yoked and jacked, and they hear what you say and they want to but they just can’t, you know, like I had one off the top of my head, no, two, one of those guys it just gave him his program almost everything is a failure.

Then I talk to him and I am like “Hey, man, like you are not doing what I told you to do” and you know those guys eventually, they just kind of thought they can’t, they can’t check the ego so that was one client for instance where he just went back to doing his old thing, didn’t even really give it a chance. But that is pretty rare.

Steve: Yeah, I think it can be really hard for some people psychologically to take it, it’s like taking a deload I think there are people who can’t go into the gym and do a deload, they just need to have days off.

And you see that with people and they end up having these protocols where they take days off instead of the gym which I think it’s better to, at least you know yourself, you know you need to go and do that so that’s great, and then in terms of the other side that you obviously talked about, how kind of evidence-based everyone’s kind of, kind of pushing don’t go to failure almost some people you might say are scared to go that far. Have you ever had clients who don’t train hard enough, who you’re like you have to check them, and how’d you identify that and get them to work harder?

Paul: Yeah, that’s a harder one, being remote I am trying to convince more people to send me videos of women, like I give them their AMRAPs for instance or I’ve always been supportive of hey, like feel free to send me a video of a set and I will look at it because I also have written like this giant guideline of RIR and how that should feel, potentially how fast the bar should be moving, is it slowing down, has it come to a grinder, and you know things that people would probably even think about, in terms of “Oh, man, I should probably.. “ because the weird thing about RIR is we all, before you know about it you kind of inherently do it. You’ll hit a rep and you are like “Oh my god, I don’t have a spot, I need to put this back before I die”. But then you ask somebody to kind of do that and they are like ”I don’t know I could fail on the next rep” it’s like telling somebody how to walk and then they forget how to walk. So, um… totally lost my train of thought right there but uh…what was the question?

Steve: So when someone, maybe they are sagging because they are scared to go to failure, they don’t really know, they feel like they’ve got no idea of where they are in terms of how close they are to failure and you are kind of worried they are potentially not working hard enough. You kind of talked about video form, video feedback and things.

Paul: No, absolutely, so you know video is one way, kind of, well, for instance sometimes, some people, because as long as they are working within that I guess 3 to 1 range, they are still getting good work in, so sometimes I still would want to address the issue because I want them to hit PRs their AMRAP so I want to see how they are improving, they want to see how they are improving but for instance like my girlfriend actually is one of them I can’t get her to work 3 beyond RIR, like I just can’t but she’s, she’s crazy strong, she squatted 280 high bar, ass to grass for like 8 reps at like 140. So she still trains pretty hard but she rarely ever just kind of goes there, you know? So, um, yeah, outside of the instances where you do have the video and you are like “Hey man, you need to work harder, if you need to get a spot so that you are not afraid to go to that place” but yeah. Did that answer your question?

Steve: Yeah and I think you gave a great example of even your girlfriend who is incredibly strong, that’s insane strength for a female and of that bodyweight, and showing how doesn’t even, she’s got to that point without ever having to go to the point of failure and I think like we are saying failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not a prerequisite to seeing results. It’s definitely not something we have to do and that’s not clear in the literature to say we have to go there and it’s not clear to say that you shouldn’t go there so I think that’s been a great discussion. In terms of kind of future research I don’t know if you are looking to do more or want to look at other things, have you got anything in the pipeline?

Paul: For me, well, this is my thesis to graduate so for me, I need a break from academics, PhD definitely isn’t out of the question but coaching this, especially this past year, over a year, has just been great, I’ve loved it and so my focus largely is pretty much there upon graduation along with working with my coach with Gifted Performance and stuff so that’s been a really rewarding endeavour, and then, so PhD that, that’s probably later on down the road so I haven’t thought about any, probably won’t see any research from me for a little bit. Yeah, I am burned out on it man, I mean now I am in my master’s and started research back in 2000…, what was that, it was like junior year of my undergrad so a year and a half of that and then did research on my nine months off, got my first publication as an undergrad during that period and then this past two years, so it’s been brutal.

Steve:And then the only other thing, well,  I don’t want to finish on this but I wanted to ask in terms of like your training, programming, what have been your like, the biggest influences for you like who influences you the most, any textbooks you’ve read that have been particularly helpful for you?

Paul: Oh man, who influences me the most…

Steve: And maybe it changed over time.

Paul: It has, it definitely has changed over time, I remember the first time I discovered 5-3-1, I was like “Oh my god, this is how you should train, this is how I’ll train forever, everybody should train this way” and I was like my first time doing any, anything percentage based, that was somewhat kind of that periodization thing going on, linear I guess. But then I moved forward and discovered some other things like I think GZCL was a big one some years ago. And then, uh, actually there’s a guy Thomas Neil who programs then you know Mike. Mike and I have never spoken but his roommate Charlie, so Thomas does, he is actually a part of our Gifted Performance group but he does Charlie’s peaking blocks for powerlifting.

Steve: Oh, really cool.

Paul: Yeah and so a lot of what I do now has been kind of inspired by him you know, things that he’s  kind of, small things he’s taught me about programming, and then I know a lot of his, he has, dude, this guy, it’s insane, he just like reads things and retains every bit of it but like knows way more than, it’s weird. But so I incorporate a lot of the RTS stuff with like percent, fatigue drops, repeats and back offsets, and I do a lot of there’s some Renaissance periodization kind of stuff in there with RIR and uh, you know, I’ve recently become really fond of the whole just kind of not really having necessarily a rep range and hitting an RIR with every set, which is something I wasn’t a fan of in the past. So yeah, it’s a mix of I guess a lot of things I’ve kind of accumulated over the years as things have evolved. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. You know, getting into the gym, reading muscle mags, one body part a week, maybe not even training legs, and then eventually as some guy tells me “Hey, you should train everything twice a week” and I am like “That’s stupid.”, I gave it a shot, I get even bigger and then you know, just how that evolves over time.

Steve: Yeah, I can remember when people would, I got the nickname “the compound guy” at my like gym, when I was at school, because everyone was like “He always lifts compounds, all the time, like how do you train squats twice a week” no one could imagine it and I am like “I am not even strong and..”. It’s crazy where it kind of comes from a point of which you follow programs, you learn yourself and then you actually start understanding the principles behind them, and then you start using tools from different people and even your own tools probably, and you create your own system which is really cool.

Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely, absolutely, it’s taking bits and pieces from a lot of people and there’s so many, I mean god, 2019 like PhDs have youtube videos and you know what I mean, like you can learn, really anything topic almost without like going to school.

Steve: Yeah, it’s insane.

Paul: Yeah, you know, picking up pieces here and there and uh, because I remember a lot of my, early on my sole training influence was like T-nation forums, you know? And then things have changed so much now there’s just so much great information and it’s so hard to even keep track of..

Steve: Yeah.

Paul: To read the current research and yeah man.

Steve: Awesome, well thank you very much for coming on, Paul. I’ve really enjoyed talking about the study, can’t wait to hear about the results like I said we might have to get you back on to talk more about it. It’s been really great talking about reps in reserve and your own experiences and if people want to learn more, obviously, you said you might be fully booked with coaching but if people potentially want to go on a list or anything, where should they reach out to you, where are you putting out information, I said your Instagram but if you just want to give people kind of a place to find you.

Paul: Yeah, I am most active on Instagram, my website trainempirical.com does have an application that shoots everything to a waiting list. I am pretty full right now, I know the other Gifted coaches. Instagram is giftedperformance, and so I’ve been referring a lot of the people I just don’t have time for to them so, but yeah, um, Instagram is a huge one for me so really I am super active there, they can DM me, whatever, yeah.

Steve: Cool, awesome I will make sure that’s linked below, I want to thank Paul again for his time, thank everyone for listening and we’ll catch you soon.

*Transcript by Simeon Tsvetkov

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Steve interviewed with Emilia Thompson – The Skill of Mindful Eating – listen here.

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