in: Fitness, Health & Fitness, Podcast

Podcast #826: From Novice to Advanced — The Weightlifter’s Journey

I’ve been barbell lifting for seven years. In that time I’ve hit some personal records that I’m proud of: a 615-lb deadlift, 225-lb shoulder press, and 465-lb squat. The last couple years though, I haven’t notched these kinds of big milestones for a combination of reasons, including dealing with injuries, having less time, and experiencing a shift in motivation.

A lot of lifters, as well as amateur athletes of all kinds, will follow a similar trajectory as they move from first starting out to getting deeper into their fitness journey. Here to walk us through the phases of that journey is my own strength coach, Matt Reynolds, who’s the founder of Barbell Logic Online Coaching. Matt talks about how the things his lifters focus on change as they move from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced, and why it takes longer to get stronger the longer you’ve been lifting. We then discuss how to rediscover your motivation for training once progress in your one rep maxes slows down by finding new PRs to chase and learning to enjoy the process over the outcome. We also get into how to stay consistent with your workouts when life gets busier as you get older, as well as how to deal with common injuries — both the injuries themselves and the mental game of working through them.

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Read the Transcript

Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. I’ve been barbell lifting for seven years. In that time I’ve hit some personal records that I’m really proud of. A 615 pound deadlift, a 225 pound shoulder press and a 465 pound squat. The last couple of years though, I haven’t notched these kinds of big milestones for a combination of reasons, including dealing with injuries, having less time and experiencing a shift in motivation.

A lot of the lifters as well as amateur athletes of all kinds, will follow a similar trajectory as they move from first starting out to getting deeper into their fitness journey. Here to walk us through the phases of that journey is my own strength coach, Matt Reynolds, who’s the founder of Barbell Logic Online Coaching. Matt talks about how the things his lifters focus on change as they move from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced and why it takes longer to get stronger the longer you’ve been lifting.

We then discuss how to rediscover your motivation for training once progress and your one rep maxes slows down by finding new PRs to chase and learning to enjoy the process over the outcome. We also get into how to stay consistent with your workouts when life gets busier as you get older, as well as how to deal with common injuries, both the injuries themselves and the mental game of working through them. After the show’s over, check at our show notes at

Alright. Matt Reynolds, welcome back to the show.

Matt Reynolds: Hey man, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be on it.

Brett McKay: So you are the founder and owner of Barbell Logic Online Coaching, where you help people from all walks of life get stronger through barbells. You’re also my personal barbell coach. Have been for… Coming up on seven years now. Right?

Matt Reynolds: That’s crazy. Yeah, that’s wild.

Brett McKay: Yes. Seven years, and you’re one of my good friends. So we had you on the show back in 2017 and we had you on previously in 2015 to discuss barbell truth…

Matt Reynolds: Man, it’s been a while.

Brett McKay: Yeah, it’s been a while…

Matt Reynolds: You must not like me that much.

Brett McKay: No. [laughter] Well, you did such a great job on those episodes kind of walking through…

Matt Reynolds: There we go.

Brett McKay: So I don’t know what else to say. So yeah. Since that time, things have changed. Well, one thing I love about those episodes, I love getting letters from listeners saying, “Hey, I listened to that podcast about barbell training with Matt Reynolds, and because of that, I started barbell training and I’ve gotten really strong.” And for some of these guys it’s become… They found a hobby that they really enjoy and it’s brought a lot to their lives. And some of these guys who started barbell training with Barbell Logic, they’ve gotten super strong. I was looking at this one guy, Eric Dull. I wanna give Eric a shout out. He…

Matt Reynolds: Yeah. A big shout out to Eric.

Brett McKay: So he signed up with Barbell Logic after that 2017 episode. And this guy is a beast now. I was looking. He’s squatting like 535 for reps. He’s pressing 285 and maybe he got even more than that. That was just a long time.

Matt Reynolds: I was thinking he hit a 300 press recently. So yeah, super strong presser.

Brett McKay: So this guy got strong in five years.

Matt Reynolds: Super strong. Yeah.

Brett McKay: So a shout out to Eric. Eric, I’m proud of you. So I thought… I wanted to bring you back on the show because I’ve been working with you for so long, and I’ve noticed in that time my training has changed as I’ve become an advanced lifter. And I hope we can talk about your experience working with people who’ve trained for a long time, how training changes, the challenges you face when you’ve been doing this for a long time. ‘Cause I feel like a lot of stuff out there about barbell training, it’s geared towards the beginners.

Matt Reynolds: Sure.

Brett McKay: Which makes sense. If you don’t know how…

Matt Reynolds: There’s a lot more of them.

Brett McKay: Yeah, there’s a lot more of them. And if you don’t know stuff you need to know a lot to get onboard. There’s not a lot of stuff out there for people who’ve been doing this for five, six, seven, ten years. So I wanna talk about that. But before we do, elevator pitch, why do you think everyone should be strong? This is something you love to talk about. Why do you think everyone should be strong?

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, it’s definitely one of my favorite things to talk about. By the way, I will say the Art of Manliness clients are some of our best clients over the years. Your listeners are outstanding clients. They’re consistent, they focus on technique, and so for strength for us… Strength certainly isn’t the only thing we do. It’s not the be all end all. It’s where we start. And we start that because we… If you think about all of the different physical abilities you can have, think about… So strength being one of those, cardiovascular endurance, mobility, agility, power, speed, all of those things, strength is the only one that makes all of the other ones better, certainly, if untrained and all.

So for the untrained individual, just getting strong makes everything else better. Not to the nth degree. You can’t just squat and deadlift and get strong and go run a marathon. That’s… Certainly, there’s some specificity there. But for the person who’s trying to get the biggest bang for their buck in the least amount of time, strength training, and specifically barbell strength training with the big heavy compound lifts, is gonna give you the best bang for your buck. And you think about the person who’s been sitting on the couch watching Netflix all day, and all of a sudden they start to do full range of motion squats, they not only get more strong, but they also get more mobile.

But this is not a two-way street. If we go to a yoga class… And there’s nothing against yoga class. I think that’s perfectly fine to do that. You’ll get more mobile, but you will not get more strong. And so what we’re trying to do is we’re just trying to get better at as many things as we can as quickly as possible as a beginner. There is a thing that occurs for beginners, for novices, where they get much better much faster. And this isn’t just the case in strength training. I remember when I first started playing ping-pong as a kid. I had a ping-pong table growing up. I don’t know if you had anything like that, Brett. I had a little brother. We went on summer vacation one time to my aunt and uncle’s house, and they had a ping-pong table. We didn’t have one then. And we played ping-pong. They lived up in Chicago, where there wasn’t much to do in their little suburb, but they had a ping-pong table in their basement. And we played ping-pong like six, seven, eight hours a day. And we were, as you might imagine, horrific the first… We’d never played. But by the end of that vacation, eight, nine, ten days later, we were decent at ping-pong, ’cause we played so much.

So the amount that you get better at a short amount of time, as an absolute beginner, is tremendous. And so we wanna utilize that. We don’t wanna waste that on something that gives us a low return on investment, we wanna use that on something that gives us a high ROI, and that’s what strength training does more than anything else. So strength training is just simply creating the ability or building the ability to produce more force. More force against the barbell, more force against the floor. The athlete that can jump the highest, or has the highest vertical jump produces the most amount of force in the shortest amount of time against the floor. That’s why we do strength and it carries over. And then the other part of this is for us, our primary demographic that we train are really it’s guys like you or middle-aged people who are really trying to do this to improve their quality of life not necessarily to become world champion powerlifters. And so again, strength does such a great job of the return on investment there for just getting them strong quick. And then as time goes on and they become more… Maybe their goals change, they decide they wanna do mud runs with their wife or something, that’s totally fine. Let’s get that base of strength in first and we’ll see all those other things improve. And then if we need to veer the ship 5 degrees, 10 degrees, we can do that and we’ve laid this foundation of strength which is why we love it.

Brett McKay: Alright. So strength improves all facets of your life. Before we talk about the challenges of someone who’s been training for a long time, let’s talk about the biggest challenges that you see in beginner lifters. When someone signs up with you, what are the stuff you have to focus on with them in those first few months?

Matt Reynolds: Yeah. It’s actually really simple. It’s consistency and technique. That’s it. In the beginning, somebody’s new so it’s not a habit to them. So at some point, a lot of our strength training clients, again, somebody like an Eric Dull, strength training for him is part of his daily activity as putting on his shoes, as eating breakfast. And consistency is tough for a beginner because it’s a paradigm shift. It’s a lifestyle change. Again, we’re not doing this for 10 weeks to look good for the Mexico vacation, we’re doing this for life and so consistency is huge. And along with consistency is technique. The technique for lifters, for beginning lifters is often atrocious, they just don’t know how to do it, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why you need a coach. That’s why you need a good coach is, a good coach provides a good eye for technique and accountability for the consistency. And you know you’ve done this for seven years, let’s be honest, you don’t really need me to technique coach you anymore, but there’s something about when you… So for us to… For your listeners, we are an online coaching company and so I’ve coached you a handful of times in person, but I’ve literally coached you thousands of times online.

And to this day, every single workout that you do, you have to hit record on your cell phone and upload those videos of your heaviest squats or your lap squats or deadlifts or whatever and upload those to me every single workout of every single week four times a week and then I break those down within 24 hours. And so something happens from an accountability standpoint. When you hit record, and you’re like, “Alright, coach is gonna see this and he’s gonna give me feedback on it.” Then it sort of raises the ante a little bit. And so for the beginner, that technique refinement if you imagine you’re making these massive changes in their technique early on. Maybe they’re 50% correct or 60% correct in their squat and we can make changes really from session to session that might improve their squat by 10%, or 15%, or 20%. At the point where you’re at, I’m improving your technique by literally 1%, a half of a percent, a percentage of a percent. That’s the thing. That’s one of the major differences between beginners and advanced lifters, is that for beginners, it’s all about consistency and technique. Programming doesn’t matter. Look, we follow linear progression, we put a little weight on the bar every single time, we think that’s the best way to do it. But the reality is, is that programming piece is so far secondary or third, whatever you wanna call it, like it’s an entire strata below consistency and technique for the beginning lifter.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I think the one issue, a beginner lifter ’cause they don’t know a lot, they think programming is the most important.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah. Everybody reads the magazines and reads the articles and sees what people argue about and they argue about programming. They rarely argue… First off, nobody argues about consistency because we just know it’s true and then we like to geek out on this thing about technique, is it high bar squats or low bar squats, is it sumo deadlifts or conventional deadlifts? And so they think that’s the most important. The reality is, it’s like, Hey, we’ve gotta get the lifts generally correct. We’ve gotta get moving like you’re supposed to move, like you were really created to move or evolved to move or what? Those things that you look at the way a two-year-old moves and we wanna move in those ways that were we’re just made biologically to move. And so that’s the goal, is to kinda get back to those days of moving like we’re supposed to move. Years and years, decades and decades of sitting in in office chairs and cubicles really pulls us out of that. And so to be able to get back to those things are really important for the beginner. So yeah, technique and consistency are number one, programming is… We see high school kids all the time follow ridiculous programs and they make they’re making incredible progress, even though the program you would look at the program and be like, that’s not…

Well, the program is made for professional football players or high level division one football players. You’re like, Yeah, but we’re talking about 14-year-old mid-pubescent kids and they still make incredible progress. Why? ‘Cause they get in the gym and they all train together and there’s this team atmosphere and they’re high five-ing each other and maybe they’re… Even their technique might suck, but their consistency is good and they get better. The program just doesn’t matter that much in the beginning. I say all that to say, still almost everybody that we start at Barbell Logic starts with a basic linear progression. So that linear, if you think about a line graph, it’s just adding five pounds or so to the bar every single workout. That works great for programming.

Brett McKay: Okay. So as someone transitions from a novice lifter, they’ve honed in on their technique, they’ve made training a habit and they’re consistent. What are the challenges that you see with an intermediate lifter?

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, so you’ll start to see this transition for the intermediate lifter where technique becomes a little less important because it should be on point and consistency as well. Again, there are times we have intermediate lifters who are not super consistent. But if you’ve trained consistently, if you’ve trained, let’s say over 90% of the time you’re supposed to train and your technique is 90% correct plus, then that’s where programming starts to become more important. I think the accountability still is super important with a coach and… But the programming becomes really important. And so for several years ago, back in 2000 maybe ’17 or ’18, my original podcast partner Scott Hambrick, who’s also been on your show, we started to work through the idea of what we call minimum effective dose programming, so the idea of changing a single variable or the least number of variables for the greatest return on investment. So little small changes to continue to make progress for the long term, again, ’cause we’re not doing this for 10 weeks or six weeks or 12 weeks, we’re doing this for 10 years or 20 years, and so programming becomes really important as you become more of an intermediate, so I think you go from the programming doesn’t matter that much as a beginner to the programming matters a whole bunch as an intermediate and an advanced lifter.

Brett McKay: And the accountability so it becomes more important even than consistency. It’s not now about making sure… It’s not that coach is looking over my shoulder and making sure I’m doing my workouts. It’s what that gives you by hitting record on your phone, or if you’re seeing a coach in person, by having that coach wait for you that 11:00 AM Monday, Wednesday, Friday morning, you know that they’re gonna be there. And so that accountability matters. And so I think that’s where we started start to see the transition from technique and consistency to programming and accountability for the intermediate lifter.

So let’s talk about the advanced lifter, am I considered an advanced lifter at this point in my… Or am I…

Matt Reynolds: Yeah. For sure, yeah, you’re definitely advanced and by the way, advanced doesn’t necessarily mean how strong you are, although it almost always is accompanied with that, it’s often more of how long does it take between, say, PRs? In the beginning, you’re hitting PRs as a beginner, literally every workout, literally every single workout. And as an intermediate, maybe you’re hitting a PR, PR is a personal record, a personal record, a personal best some people call it, and maybe you’re hitting that as an intermediate lifter once a week, somewhere in there, maybe even up to once every couple of weeks, and as an advanced lifter you’ve deadlifted 615 pounds. How long… How many sessions does it take, how much time does it take, even if the emphasis were on the deadlift for you to hit a 620-pound deadlift at this point? That is a long time, right? Not a month, not two months, probably three to six months, maybe a year. It takes a long time. And so that’s really what identifies an advanced lifter, how long does it take to go through that stress recovery adaptation cycle, what we call the SRA cycle, to be able to accumulate enough stress, recover from that stress and adapt to that stress to be able to hit another personal record.

Brett McKay: Well, okay, so yeah, my last deadlift PR was last March. Well, no, it was 2020.

Matt Reynolds: Two Marches ago.

Brett McKay: Yeah, it was two Marches ago so 615. And to get from… My previous one was 605, to get from 605 to 615, it took a year and a little bit more. And then the reason why I haven’t had a PR in a while, we’ll talk about this, one of the challenges is injuries I’ve been having to deal with, we’ll talk about that. But why is it as you get stronger, it takes longer and longer and longer for you to hit PRs, like what’s going on physiologically?

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, again, it comes back to that stress recovery adaptation cycle. So if you’ve done nothing, you can literally again, get off the couch, stop watching Netflix and go ride your bicycle around the neighborhood once and your body will respond to that. It will adapt to that. That is a stress that you have not exposed your body to. And so I would rather you expose your body to squats and deadlifts, I think it’d be… But look, anywhere you wanna start is fine. At the point that you are doing things like three sets of five squats with 385 pounds or 400 pounds, and five sets of three or four sets of three on deadlift at 525, that’s a lot of stress, but your body is has already adapted to that stress, so now you have to take the stress even further, you have to do even more stress to your body, and so… And not just the stress of a single session, but the additive piece of multiple sessions accumulating stress over a period of time, over a period of weeks or even months to get enough stress accumulated to be able to adapt to that stress and get better, and so it’s just like it… It is anything…

Anybody who’s incredibly proficient at anything, goes through this, it takes… At some point, the stress has to constantly get become… It’s gotta be more and more and more over time. And so for you, the amount of stress it’s going to take to get to a 625 deadlift is a tremendous amount of stress, in fact, so much stress that I would argue that one of the reasons you haven’t hit a deadlift PR in the last couple of years is that you were not willing to go through that amount of stress to hit the deadlift PR because that wasn’t a priority in your life, which is fine, by the way. If you’re like, Hey, I’d rather have the stress of like, Let’s go rucking. Let’s hike. Let’s do mud-runs with my wife. Let’s hang out with the kids. Let’s go do… Those things are fine. At some point, the pursuit of strength becomes, at some point you get so advanced that the amount of stress that it takes to keep hitting PRs is a tremendous bolus or dosage of stress to be able to recover, adapt and hit a PR. And that’s why it gets harder and harder and harder because that amount of stress gets greater and greater and greater. Then the length of time needed to get that stress grows and thus takes longer, and so you can’t hit PRs every workout or every week or even every month. It becomes a once a year sort of thing for most, most really advanced lifters. That’s they kinda train for once or twice a year, PRs, that’s the goal.

Brett McKay: And I think this principle applies to not just weight lifting, you see it in running as well, really hardcore runners, they’re thinking in terms of months, sometimes six months where they’re just accumulating stress, so they can make that adaptation, but you can see this in other areas, like the world of business. If you own a business, if you have… When you first start a business, it’s pretty easy to get those gains, you are making big wins.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, for sure.

Brett McKay: But then once you reach a level of proficiency, to eke out like a 1% increase, it just takes a massive amount of work.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, I can remember when I used to compare literal days of the months. So it’s August 10th. I’m gonna compare August 10th to July 10th and see if we had the same amount of revenue On the 10th to the 10th, that’s a bad game to play, six or seven years into a business and even month to month, even if I look at revenue or net profitability or whatever in August compared to July, that’s like, we’ve been in a business too long, you have to start looking at quarter to quarter or even year over year, what did this August look like compared to last August, and I think training is the same, you just can’t have… You can’t have those blinders on or be so narrowly focused that you’re looking at… Well, what did I do Monday? Now it’s Wednesday. No, no, no, no, you’re an advanced lifter you’ve gotta start to think, you have gotta pull way way back and see the forest through the trees, and really look at those things from a 30,000 foot view and… You’re exactly right. Business is the same way, really anything that you’re pursuing consistent progress over time is gonna be exactly the same way.

Brett McKay: Right, like losing weight is another one, you can lose a lot of weight really fast. But then once you wanna… If you wanna get Brad Pitt Fight Club, shredded, that’s gonna… It gets harder and harder and harder as you get closer to that.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, that’s exactly right. So yeah, to go from, say, 30% body fat to 25% body fat is pretty easy, to go from 10% body fat, which is already really hard, to 5% body fat or 6% body fat is… I mean, you essentially have to give up your entire life to do that. I mean, you almost can’t be a husband and a father to be that level lean. You have to eat things you don’t know wanna eat. I mean, it’s chicken breast and broccoli all day. And most people don’t wanna do that. And by the way, I think most people shouldn’t do that, because again, for us, it’s about quality of life improvement. That’s not… If your ultimate goal is to be a very successful body builder and stand on stage and be 5% body fat or 4% body fat, like, “Okay, more power to you.” But the reality is, is that 99% of your audience that’s listening, they just wanna be strong, they wanna look strong, they wanna look healthy, they wanna look relatively jacked and they wanna keep up with their family and have this longevity piece, this piece of health that improves their quality of life. And that’s, for the vast majority of people, that’s the goal. And that’s the thing that doesn’t change from the beginner.

So you talk about, early in the show, we talked about, well, everybody is a beginner, I know almost everybody is a beginner, and there’s very few people who are advanced, but almost everyone who’s probably listening to this podcast really wants to do this thing to improve their quality of life. And so improving your quality of life as a beginner, via strength training and fitness is pretty easy, continuing to improve your quality of life, Brett McKay’s quality of life, as an advanced lifter, as somebody who’s super active, who goes hiking all the time, who goes up in the mountains with his family and hikes in rucks and whatnot, that becomes much more difficult to continue to improve quality of life at an advanced level, but it’s still the goal. The goal is to improve your quality of life, not… I can’t imagine you in a pink, thong bikini standing on stage oiled up with other dudes, I don’t think that’s what you’re going for. I think you’re going for quality of life improvement.

Brett McKay: Maybe. Maybe.

Matt Reynolds: So I am picturing it right now. Everyone, close your eyes.

Brett McKay: Everyone is picturing this right now.

That’s right, that’s right.

We’re gonna take a quick break for a word from our sponsors. And now back to the show. So you said as you become an advanced lifter, program becomes more important, ’cause you have to accumulate enough stress to make that adaptation. So just big picture, it’s gonna differ from athlete to athlete, but how do you program for an advanced lifter?

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, again, it’s just minimum, effective, dose programming changes. So there really is just this systematic approach to programming, where in the beginning, we can just add a little more weight to the bar for as long as we can, and as long as I can add five pounds to the bar every single workout, why would I do anything else? I am showing that I have no discipline if I get bored with adding five pounds to the squat every single workout. I love adding five pounds to the squat, and as long as I can do that, that sounds awesome. Imagine that right now, being able to do that for another two years, just adding five pounds to the bars in your workout. That’s great. And that’s what beginners are able to do. So intensity is how heavy. So that’s that adding five pounds or adding two and a half pounds to the bar, and then at some point that stops, or otherwise we’d all squat a 1000 pounds, and so at some point you can’t add weight to the bar anymore, you have to start manipulating other variables.

So you start thinking, “Okay, well, now potentially, in order to increase stress, I have to add a little more volume. I can’t do three sets of five anymore, so say 15 total work reps, maybe I have to do four sets of five, or even four sets of four, which is 16.” It’s one actual rep, it actually makes a pretty big difference. And so I can do that. I can add more frequency. I can go from three times a week training to four times a week training. I can go to upper lower splits, so two lower body days and two upper body days. I can start to manipulate the sets and reps. I can move… If I wanna get more volume, I can go from sets of five to sets of six up to sets of eight maybe, or even higher for someone who’s pursuing hypertrophy or I can also go the other way around. I can go instead of three sets of five on something like a bench press or press, I can flip it and go five sets of three and keep adding weight to the bar for a little bit longer. It’s just, it’s more tonnage, which is just the amount of weight you’re lifting times the reps times the sets, and so those are things that you do. And you just keep making those systematic, one change at a time, variable changes, in order to keep making progress.

If you do that right… Powerlifting for years has had this concept of what they call the Deload, which is where you accumulate so much stress, you can’t recover from the stress. So you have to take a deload week or a deload couple of weeks and that doesn’t mean typically no training, it means you back off a training a lot and allow the stress to dissipate so that you can recover. Well, I would argue that if you program correctly, you really rarely need a deload. You just continue to make sure you add a little tiny bit of stress each time, let the body keep adapting and you keep moving down that systematic line. And so we can manipulate those variables of intensity, which is how heavy, volume, which is how much, frequency, which is how often, or even density, which is how much I’m doing in a period of time. So if I only have an hour, I only have 45 minutes, can I get more work done in that amount of time? And we can even look at things like total amount of work done in the session or tonnage in the session or force production in the session, we can do all of those things.

Brett McKay: Okay, so that kinda answers my next question. So one challenge that I’ve seen as I’ve been doing this for a long time is, yeah, the PRs get further and further apart. And the thing about PRs is that, they’re really motivating. It feels good and it releases that dopamine and it makes you wanna keep training to get to that next PR. And so when your PR comes a year, maybe two years, if you have an injury, how do you help your clients stay motivated when the PRs stop coming as frequently or even they just stop?

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, yeah, it’s a great question. Actually, we just did a podcast episode on this on Body Logic. You just have to have a paradigm shift about what a PR is. A PR is not just a one-rep max. There are all sorts of PR, so there are all sorts of strength PRs. So most of us can chase PRs in different rep ranges, maybe, or maybe it’s a 225 for reps on a specific lift or a 315 for reps on a specific lift, you can chase that.

At some point, if you’ve trained long enough and you get old enough, you’ll no longer hit any of those PRS. And at that point you have to start to change the metrics or change what the PRS. So you get an over 40 PR or an over 50 years, years old PR or you know, your body weight was at 250 and now it comes down to below 225. And so you have an under 225 PR or a 200 pound body weight PR you start to look at health metric PRs. Like, can I… Consistency PRs, waste measurement PRS, body weight PRS, heart rate PRs sleep PRs. So I track my sleep every night. I use a sleep app that I love attached to my, one of my wearables, and I track it on, on our app. How much total sleep did I get? How much deep sleep did I get?

And I track that as PRS. I mean, I really do. I think those things become important. And that paradigm shift again from, you know, I was a, I was a fairly high level power lifter. I was a… I won my Pro Card and strongman. That’s not me anymore. I’m 43 years old. I’m in my mid 40s. I’m I can’t pick up 1100 pounds on my shoulders and run down the street anymore with a 1100 pound yolk or flip a thousand pound tire. That’s just not, this is not gonna happen. And so, so you have to have a little bit of a paradigm shift and you have to start to pursue fun and different metrics or PRS in, in later in life or as an advanced lifter or as, as my old podcast partner calls it post advanced lifters. People who have been advanced, but are, are maybe no longer there.

They’re not, they’re not gonna pursue this 625 pound deadlift anymore. And so, you know, we just got back from a family vacation out in Colorado. We did tons of hikes at 10,000 to 12,000 feet and just tracking the distance or, you know what my, you know, what my mile time was, which is not very good when you’re at 12,000 feet and you’re hiking, lots of elevation or what my heart rate is, or, you know, my pull socks, like those are just fun things to gamify and that works for some people and some people they don’t wanna have anything to do with that stuff. That’s okay. So sometimes then you just, you make it more about just like daily living. And so we, you know, I do think, and we’ve talked about this a lot as well on our podcast, that idea that I originally, you and I talked about years ago, you hear this idea of discipline over motivation all the time, discipline over motivation, discipline over motivation is what it’s all about.

And, and I think you wrote an article for your site. I, I just don’t think that’s sustainable long term. I think, I think that there’s times when you’re trying to change something that having discipline for a couple weeks over motivation is absolutely important. But if at some point you’re not motivated to continue that change, that is not gonna be a sustainable change. And so at some point, if, and I can remember going through this as I was, as I was transitioning from mostly competitive lifter to coach and business owner, I struggle with this for about six months to a year where I was trying to pursue other PRs. But what I really wanted to do was chase after an 800 pound deadlift. And eventually you get to the point where you have the paradigm shift and you’re like, look at 800 pound. Deadlift is not gonna improve my quality of life anymore.

I’m 40 years old, I’m married I have kids. I’ve got a business, I’ve got employees. I wanna pursue other PRs and we can do that. And because I’ve walked through the refining power of strength training, and I think that voluntary hardship piece of strength training is huge. I think for your listeners, if they haven’t done that, they should do that. They should pursue that for several years, get strong first. And then once you’re strong, you can make that decision. I remember having this conversation with you for the very first time that you did this, probably back in, I dunno, 16, 17, somewhere in there. And I said, okay, Brett, you’re strong enough for anything that life is going to throw at you. Do you want to keep getting stronger or do you wanna change the goal? And at the time you said, I think I wanna keep getting strong. I wanna keep getting stronger. Okay, perfect. And we did. And we keep, but I think if I asked the same Brett, if I asked you today, I think you would say, you know what? I just wanna be like really healthy and enjoy life and have quality life. I think I don’t wanna, is that, would that be fair or would you, okay, I really wanna 700 pound deadlift at this point. I’ll do anything to get it.

Brett McKay: No, I don’t… Does not. Does not appeal to me. It’s, it’s interesting too, how that, how that changes happened. So it was last, it was actually last year when I was at the, the, the event you had, where at the block party where we, then there was like a, a lift off, it was a really fun, it was like a, it was friendly competition. And I pulled 585, which was like the heaviest I had, you know, pulled in a long time. And I remember afterwards, I thought that didn’t, I didn’t like that, [laughter], that didn’t feel good. And it reminded me that, okay, if I wanted to get a 625, I’m gonna have to feel bad. And I don’t know if I wanna do that anymore. And so.

Matt Reynolds: That’s right.

Brett McKay: It’s been, it’s been interesting to see my mind shift on this stuff. It’s been gradual. Hasn’t been like one day I woke up and decided this is how it’s gonna be. But for my training, it’s, it’s, you know, you hear this cliche about, you know, process over outcomes and I’m like, oh, whatever that’s outcomes, you need an outcome. But it, it really, when I go down to train, I, I don’t have like a goal in mind, like, I’m, this is for a 700 pound deadlift or whatever. It’s just, I enjoy going down to my garage. I put earplugs in, I don’t even listen to music anymore. I just enjoy getting under the barbell and, and just doing it. I just, I really do enjoy the process. Now. That’s not to say if, if I did hit a PR, I would, I would love that I would, I would be happy with it, but it’s not like I’m, I’m, I’m not grasped before it, like, I’m not dedicating my entire life ’cause when I was getting those like heavy deadlift and heavy squats, you, you really do have to shift your entire life around that. Like you can’t, well, I can’t do this because I won’t recover and I gotta eat this food and, and it does become tiring. It’s been nice not have to do that.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, for sure. And of course that’s not the case at all for beginners and intermediates. I mean, you, you can get your first 300 pound deadlift and your first 400 pound deadlift and really change your life. Not at all, other than introducing training into your life. And so at the point that you’re now pushing a 600 plus pound deadlift things have to change in your life. You can’t continue to pursue PRs and, and other things are going to, you know, it’s like a budget, you only have so much stress you can deal with. And so the amount of stress it takes to hit those PRS means that you have to pull stress or pull some weeds from your life in other places. And for most people when they get in their 40s and they’re again, they’re businessmen or, or you know, husbands and fathers and those things become more important. And so yes, I have always enjoyed the process of training even when I was a, a very competitive power lifter when I was a very competitive, strong man, I just didn’t enjoy the power lifting meets and the strong man competitions, as much as I did the process to get there. And I’ve always loved to train… I love to train.

Now again, we have lots of clients that they consider training a spoonful of medicine, that’s what it is, and it’s still about quality of life improvement, and then the way it makes them feel and what they get out of it, not for what they get out of it… For the PR, three months down the road, but what they get out of it literally on a day-to-day basis and they don’t enjoy it. I hate that for them. I want to try to continue to find some motivation for those clients to have them… It’s funny, often the clients that are… That consider training a spoonful of medicine, they’re often the most consistent, which is surprising, the most compliant. For me though, I just, I enjoy it, I enjoy training, I train with my wife. And she’s pretty strong, she’s certainly not nearly as strong as I am, but this is quality time for us, we go in the gym and our kids are a 17-year-old and a 12-year-old they are old enough to take care of themselves, they don’t have to… We’re not changing diapers and feeding bottles, and so we can go in there and we can get a good hour session in together as a couple, we walk around the neighborhood every single morning, I really enjoy that we hiked in Colorado every single morning together, I enjoyed that like, I love that process.

And the same thing, I’m not pursuing a PR necessarily, for me, it’s about pursuing quality of life and health, and so maybe the PR is waist measurement or of body weight I’ve spent a lot of my life as a competitive lifter, closer to 300 pounds to try to compete at that level, and now it’s the other way around. I’m trying to push closer to 200 pounds more, closer and closer, so the PRs just have to change, the paradigm shift has to occur where you go, Well, I’m just not looking for the single max effort thing that I can do, and so… And as you get lighter for somebody like me, I can probably still hit PRs on something like a pull-up, as my body weight goes from 285 or 290 to 225, I might be able to hit an all time PR, pull-up, pull-ups for because I weigh less and so… Or whatever that is. And so the key there is to change or have some sort of perception change about the types of PRs that you’re pursuing and find things that are motivating and fun, and that’s what I think we’ve done for you as well.

Brett McKay: Yeah, another thing you have done too is we stick to the main barbell lifts for my training, but you’ve also incorporated some body building stuff to keep things fresh, so I’m doing stuff with dumbbells, like high reps, getting a pump, and I enjoy that. It just mixes it up. And it keeps things fun…

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, you it just makes you feel good. I like it too. There’s nothing wrong with those things. It’s that, again, for the beginner or the beginner often does those things in lieu of the barbell, we wanna spend our time, pay our dues under the barbell first, and once we get pretty strong, we can bring those things back in. And I think there’s nothing wrong with more of those isolation movements or hypertrophy-specific movements, and so yeah, you do a lot of curls and rolling dumbbell extensions and dips and a lot of body weight stuff, chin ups. And I do that with a lot of my clients glute ham raises and different things like push-ups and things like that, it just because it’s enjoyable at the end and they’ve already accomplished some level of strength, and so the other thing that for the older lifters, you start to get older and you’re in your middle age it is, for me, it’s much easier to accumulate volume and tonnage on those movements than it is the barbell movement, so older lifters are intensity-dependent and volume sensitive, so volume just wrecks older people, and when I say older people, I am not talking about in their 60s, I’m talking about you.

You’re listening right now. You’re 41 years old. You’re old. That’s… So sorry, that is, your volume is sensitive, you can’t do five sets of five on squats anymore, dude I have no desire to ever do five sets of five on squats ever. Now listen, everybody needs to go through a period of their life where they do that five sets of five, like when they’re 21 or 25 or 18 or whatever. Now I do one set of five or two sets of three, and then I get my volume in on those other things, I’ve got a leg extension, leg curl machine, a glute ham raise or reverse hyper an echo bike, all of those sort of things, that’s where I’ll accumulate my volume and my tonnage because it doesn’t beat me up, it doesn’t beat my joints up anymore, I’ve been a competitive lifter since I was 19 years old, I, It’s 20 years of competition under my belt, I don’t wanna do five sets of five on squats, let me do the heavy squat, it still a pretty heavy squat because I’m intensity-dependent, but I’m volume sensitive and most older people are, and so I’ll get the volume in with those accessory movements, and I love them. It feels good. Heart rate gets up. I’ll do them circuit style, so you know, a heart rate would get up to 155, 160, feel good, big both a pump in the muscle and a pump in the heart, and I just like the way it makes me feel, and I have found that it does the same thing for most of my clients.

Brett McKay: So declining PRs, not declining… Well, the PRs shift you have to have a shift in process or a shift in goals and focus more on the process and just learn to enjoy it and that’s I’ve made that and I don’t think there’s anything that you could tell someone to like, This is how you make the shift, it just… I think it just happens naturally. Another challenge that I’ve noticed in my own lifting experience, and this might be unique to me, but when I started training with you… My kids were little. Gus was five, Scott was two. And when your kids are little, they don’t really do much, they just eat and exist… I mean, really. They don’t do a lot.

Matt Reynolds: Sleep and poop. That’s all they do.

Brett McKay: Sleep and poop, and then they go to school and then they come back. Well, now my kids, they’re older, so they’re doing activities, they’re playing sports, I’m a coach for a Flag football team, they’re doing church activities, I’m an adult leader for the teenagers at on our congregation, and so I feel like I just… I have less time or time just I don’t so like in my afternoons, I’ll get down like, man, today I got a this thing I gotta go to. I have got 30 minutes.

Matt Reynolds: Yep.

Brett McKay: Is that a challenge you see with, particularly, late 30s to 40-year-old trainers?

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, for sure. I think that’s life in the Western world is that we get really, really busy, and so I think the question is then if I only have 30 minutes or I only have 40 minutes or I only have 25 minutes, do I just skip the workout or do I try and get [0:37:43.9] ____…

Brett McKay:Yeah. That’s the question I always have like, should I just skip or should I try to get something in?

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, you should train.

Brett McKay: Okay.

Matt Reynolds: And you just focus on density of training, again, density, there’s nothing… Don’t let that word fly over your head, it just means, how much work can you get done in the amount of time. That’s it, right? So if you have a programmed three sets of five, but you can’t get in three sets of five, but you can go in and hit one set of what we call a M rep, as many reps as possible, so if you’re supposed to do three sets of five on squat, or let’s say 315, and you’re like, “Well, I don’t have time to do three sets of five, but I can do one set of 315 for as many as I can do,” and you hit 315 for eight, or nine, and you are like, “Bro, that was so hard.” That’s great work, in a short period of time, and the same thing on that except that accessory stuff, that’s why I circuit that accessory stuff, that’s why I don’t do all my sets of barbell curls and then all of my sets of rolling dumbbell extensions, and all of my sets of pull-ups, like you just go to a set of pull-ups, a set of rolling dumbbell extensions, a set of curls, a set of any… And you can do 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, and in nine minutes, you can do nine sets, three rounds of three exercise, that’s a bunch of work in nine minutes, and so…

I watch my time, again, because I track it on a wearable, and so I know how long my workouts take. I can remember making this transition a few years ago and training with some of my co-workers and some of my C-suite, we’d travel and do seminars together. And then we’d go in and they were still used to doing the hour-and-a-half long workout. They enjoyed the hour-and-a-half long workout, and… And I would… We’d go to some fancy Taj Mahal Globo Gym in some city, and I’d get my entire workout done in like 32 minutes, and I’m like, “I’m done. I’m gonna go sit in the sauna.” And they’re like, “What? You’re done.” I’m like, “Yeah, I’ve done 12 sets in 32 minutes. I’m done.” And so for me, it’s just about how much can I get done in a short period of time. I’m a CEO of a company, I’ve got wife and kids and same leadership at my church and I just… I don’t always have an hour, hour and a half, by the way, I don’t wanna give an hour and a half anymore. I’ve done that for 20 years. And so yeah, I would say you still get in the gym, you get done what you can. I do this all the time for my clients for vacation. One of the things I love about online coaching is that because they’re not coming to see me in person. One of my clients, they go to, I don’t know, Mexico on vacation.

I say, “Hey, as soon as you get there, walk into the gym and take a 30-second like 360 degree video of the hotel gym.” Which isn’t very good, and I’ll program for them. And I’ll say, “Hey, let’s just do like 20 minutes in the morning. You wake up half an hour for your family, 20 minutes for your family for breakfast, and you’re not wasting family time on vacation. You go down there, you get a real good workout in it, like 20 minutes, and it’s just exercise, it’s not training, it’s not heavy squats and dumbbells.” ‘Cause most of the hotel gyms don’t have barbels, but it’s something and it keeps the habit up, you feel better at the beach, you feel better when you’re eating the breakfast and the all-inclusive food. And so I think it’s perfectly fine to focus on density of training in those times of life where everything is just busy and crazy. You can get a lot done in 30 minutes, you really can, and so don’t use that as an excuse to not train.

Brett McKay: Yeah, and in my experience, I’ll just skip accessory work if it’s programmed. And I’ve done that a few times where if I have three sets of five, but I only… I’ll do a set of five, and then a set of five of the exercise and that’s it, and it’s basically, I just wanna get the consistency in, and I don’t know how much there is this idea of de-training. But I’m, I just, keeping that stress accumulated in the muscle as much as possible.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, it’s actually very real. Yeah, not doing anything, is not what we wanna do. And so, again, when we go on vacation, I don’t necessarily want my clients, especially if my clients are really older, like in their 60s. I want them to go on vacation and just not do anything. Just go enjoy it, especially if they train consistently. But for most of us in our 30s, 40s, and 50s, doing something will avoid de-training and de-training just is a word that just means going backwards. I just don’t wanna go backwards. I’m not gonna get stronger on vacation and I’m not gonna get stronger on a business trip, but I can go in and do something and I can keep the habit up and I can keep the consistency and the compliance up. Even if I don’t… If I’m not able to put a heavy barbell on my back and squat, I can still get into the hotel gym with dumbbells and kettlebells and body weight stuff and knock out a pretty good workout, and feel good, get a good sweat on, and maintain the habit, which is really what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to maintain a sustainable habit that lasts for life. And so that’s what I’m doing, it’s just, again, it takes a paradigm shift. You can’t do that when you’re competing for the World’s Strongest Man. You can’t come out and do a hotel workout and probably get anything out of it. But for most of us, we can, for sure.

Brett McKay: And I think the shift there is just don’t freak out about it too. That’s one of the hard things to do when you’re transitioning from a beginner or an immediate lifter to this more advanced lifter. You freak out and you get all down when your workout sucks. You weren’t able to get a workout in the way you wanted. At a certain point, it’s like, you know what? In the long run, it’s not gonna matter that this workout was bad. Just get it done and move on.

Matt Reynolds: That’s exactly right. Yup.

Brett McKay: Yeah.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, that type A person really pursues a lot of time they just get to check it… If I can’t check it off the list, then I get depressed about the thing. And again, this is about seeing the forest through the trees, this is about a thing that lasts 20, 30, 40, 50 years, not 20, 30, 40, 50 days. And so when you think about it that way, what’s one workout gonna matter? It’s not. It’s about the process.

Brett McKay: Alright, so let’s talk about another challenge that I faced since I’ve been lifting for so long. If you’ve been training long enough, you’re likely going to encounter injuries. It’s like any activity, you do it long enough, you’re gonna… There’s a risk involved. And what’s interesting, the injuries I’ve had are not catastrophic, they’re not acute, they’re not like, I was under the barbell and my knee gave out.

Matt Reynolds: Sure.

Brett McKay: The injuries I’ve had to deal with are tendon injuries.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah.

Brett McKay: Why is it that… And I think in your experience too, working with clients, those are the most common injuries, it’s just issues with tendons, etcetera. Why is it… Why do tendons get cranky when you train?

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, well, those are what we call overuse injuries. It’s the overuse, and that’s what it is. And people… First off, everybody gets injured, non-lifters get injured all the time. So people… How many times have you heard your dad or your neighbor throw their back out and then they don’t throw their back out deadlifting, they throw their back out dropping their keys on the floor. And so that… Injuries happen to anybody. You’re exactly right, big, acute catastrophic injuries, big muscle tears or knee blowouts, torn ACLs, torn MCLs. That sort of stuff almost never happens in the weight room. As a matter of fact, there are incredible published studies on this. If you think about, everybody’s seen the kind of fail videos on Instagram, you look at how many people lift with incorrect form and they just do stupid stuff. And even in those fail videos, most of them don’t actually get injured. That’s what’s crazy. And if you’re lifting with good form, with proper form, with, you’re being coached, the chances of a catastrophic injury is very low, but the chances of an overuse injury is very high. Something like a tendinosis, which is just where… It’s just a… It used to be thought of as an inflammation of the tendon, it’s actually a degradation of the tendon, for the most part, and it’s just where the tendon is overused. There’s not a lot of blood flow to the tendon.

You think about like an old high school or college anatomy class, the muscles are red, the tendons are white. And the tendons are white ’cause there’s not a lot of blood flow. And so there’s not a lot of blood flow, there’s not a lot of nutrients being carried to the tendons therefore, when they start to become overused or injured, it’s very difficult to rehab them. And so we deal with tendinosis or what most people would call tendonitis more than probably anything else. And for younger lifters, we see a lot… And as a matter of fact, the first article I wrote for Art of Manliness was on how to deal with bicep tendonitis down at the elbow, what would be called distal tendonitis. The low end of the bicep down at the elbow. Our older lifters often have bicep tendonitis up at the shoulder. The… A lot of people might not know the bicep actually crosses the shoulder.

We see elbow tendonitis on the tricep side as well. We see adductor tendonitis. You dealt with that, in the groin. Tendonitis in the knee. So the knees do hurt. It’s not a catastrophic failure, but they just… Patellar tendonitis. The patellar. And those things are… Man, they’re just such a pain in the butt. They really are because you can train around them, but they’re not gonna get better unless you really aggressively rehab them. And so for tendinosis or tendonitis or this degradation of the tendon, we have a system that we’ve used that works pretty well. We’ve used it for you several times. What we do is really a three-part system where you do an isometric hold, in the shortened position. Now I realize I just said a bunch of words that probably a lot of people don’t understand exactly. But for example, when your groin was… You had, not a strain in your groin, but you actually had tendinosis in your groin, which is the tendon that attaches to the inside of your thigh, to your adductor muscles. We had you make two fists. We’re not even put this maybe a picture or something in the show notes, and two fists and put your fists together and put them between your knees, and you squeezed your knees together against your fist, and held it as hard as you could for about 30 seconds.

And so that is an… Isometric, I mean it’s not moving. A not moving hold, where you’re contracting, in the shortened position, so we don’t wanna stretch the tendon. I had the same problem. I would have achilles and plantar… Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis, or, and it just wraps around the bottom of your heel. And I thought, “Oh, I just need to stretch my calves more.” And I was getting… When I was… I was walking and hiking a lot. And the more I stretched my calves, the more they hurt. And then I realized, wait a minute, I need to go up and do a calf raise and hold myself in the high position of a calf raise for 30 seconds, as tight as I can, and then just come back down to the floor. I don’t need to stretch the tendon. It’s a degraded tendon. I need to actually let it get stronger in that isometric hold, and so that’ll turn some of those pain receptors off, but it will also start to strengthen the tendon in a way that doesn’t stretch it and continue to aggravate it. And then once we’ve done that for a while, we slowly increase the range of motion, and so we just start to move the range of motion a little more, not a full range of motion.

A little more… So now maybe I’m doing calf raises from the floor, but I’m not stretching my calf. So I’m just going up, calf raise, come back down on the floor, go back up, hold, come back down, go back up, come back down. And then eventually, I start to titrate up to a full range of motion, and then I start to titrate the weight up. And we did the same thing with you. We did this with your adductor, with your groin. We held the position, we did shortened range of motion squats, we made it a little better, we increased the range of motion on the squat, nice and light. Eventually, got to full range of motion squat, and then titrated the weight up and you were fine. It just takes a long time. There’s no way to fix the tendinosis problem in like 10 days. It just doesn’t work very well. So it takes… This is a four-week to six-week process a lot of times.

Brett McKay: Yeah, yeah, and then the reason why it takes so long is, again, there’s no blood flow going there. So it just takes a long… There’s very little…

That’s right, a little.

 That’s why it takes a long time for your blood to get stuff to the tendons to start strengthening it.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, that’s right. So we have seen people tear muscles. Bigtime strength athletes tear biceps and tear path towards a pec pretty bad. And when you tear the muscle itself, it bleeds a lot. You gotta get the bleeding to stop. You gotta ice it. And that’s a… Matter of fact, I’ve written an article for your site there as well about the Bill Starr routine, which is specifically for muscle tears, muscle-belly tears. We’ve seen people tear… Like, I’ve seen guys tear their bicep tendon. You know what? Strong men do this all the time doing the stones, the heavy stones. When people deadlift really heavy with an alternate grip, so they have that underhanded hand on the deadlift. That will tear their bicep tendon. It doesn’t bleed at all. But their whole bicep ends up in a ball up by their shoulder and there’s no bruising. It is so weird to see that. Well that’s because they didn’t tear the muscle fibers. They tore the tendon. And you can really see there’s just no, there’s no blood there. Whereas, I, one time, I had a partial tear of my right bicep doing chin-ups, and I actually tore a portion of the bicep muscle itself.

It bruised awful. So what you tear or what you hurt or what you injure certainly depends on how you rehab the thing. And how you rehab a torn muscle or… Which is the same thing as just a muscle strain, it’s just a minorly torn muscle, versus a tendinosis, versus a back joint issue, or a knee joint issue, something like that is completely different the way you rehab those things. But tendinosis is certainly the most common thing, so again, isometric holds first, slowly increasing the range of motion. Once you are at full range of motion and titrate the weight up a little bit at a time, just be patient, don’t get greedy, and that’s how you get rid of the tendinosis.

Brett McKay: Yeah, and we’ve used this process, I’ve had different… So I had the adductor tendinosis. I also had an impinged shoulder for a little bit there.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah.

Brett McKay: How long ago was this? That was like two years ago.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, it’s been a little while, for sure.

Brett McKay: Yeah. And then what we did there is… It’s really, I don’t… We didn’t really do any of the isometric stuff, but what we did do is we changed the way I bench press, so instead of holding your typical bench grip, we moved to dumbbells, so I could have a neutral grip.

Matt Reynolds: Correct. So an impingement, if you think about an impingement is really just like… It’s sort of like early osteoarthritis, an impingement, like, there’s something that impinge between bony structures. And so that’s different than a tendinosis. And so the first thing you have to do, and it’s really similar to the tendinosis, is you gotta stop aggravating the thing. And so if every time you bench press or every time you press you’re continuing to kinda rub the… What was essentially the head of your humerus of the upper arm into your AC joint and you’re kinda grinding that away. That’s a problem. So we have to stop that. So we’ve gotta stop… [laughter] We’re gonna stop… Because it’s irritated and it’s inflamed and it hurts, and so we just gotta stop aggravating the thing. And so you have to make some adjustments often to the movement or to the range of motion, but we didn’t stop lifting. That’s really important too. That when you stop, you don’t get better. We continue to lift through it because a strong back is a resilient back. It’s a back that’s less vulnerable to injuries. Everybody that’s listening to this that has got a hurt back, you’ve got disc degeneration in your back or you got an old bum knee for instance, you’re like, “Well, I can’t squat.” Yes, you can.

The more you get the muscles around the knee strong the less sheer force there is on the knee itself, because the muscles are able to handle that, all that moment force, that rotational force, around the knee. I want that force on the muscles. I don’t want it on the bony joint. That’s a bad place for it to be. And so any time you have those injuries, to say like, “Man, I’m just gonna sit around and do nothing.” How did you get better? You just got weaker and you just got more vulnerable to a future injury. And so we figure out… We’ve gotta figure out a way to work around it. Motion is lotion. It makes things better. But we’ve gotta do it in a way that’s intelligent.

Brett McKay: But here’s the thing with injuries though, and maybe you can walk this through. There is a mental game that goes on with injuries, you… I had these phone calls with you where I would just be despondent. Like, “Man, I can’t squat. This sucks.” How do you manage the mental game of injuries?

Matt Reynolds: It’s a whole another podcast. It’s debilitating. The reality is, is that we know if you do nothing… And you’ve tried this. We’ve all tried this. You do nothing and… Nothing for two weeks, nothing for three weeks, nothing for a month, and you come back and do it, the injury is still there. So it doesn’t go away by doing nothing. And so the frustrating part is trying new things and having a different tool in your toolbox every few weeks. You gotta give it enough time. So you can’t do… Use the tool for three days, and if it doesn’t work… No, no, no. You gotta use it for two, three weeks. Okay, we’re not really seeing the sort of improvement that we want, so now we’re gonna change the tool. So you rehab the thing that hurts and you pursue PRs that are reachable in areas that aren’t injured. That’s what you do. And that’s how you keep it going. And people do this all the time too. They have surgery or they, whatever. They’ve got an ankle injury, and so, well, they can’t do anything… Yeah, you can bench press with an ankle injury, and do seated presses with an ankle injury, and you could do all kinds of upper body stuff with an ankle injury.

And so, yeah, it’s frustrating that you can’t hit squat and deadlift PRs with an ankle injury, but you could hit other PRs. And so you train what you can, and then you rehab the thing that’s hurt. And we are very rarely in a position where we are systemically injured. Where we’re like our whole body… Now, again, somebody’s going through radiation treatments or chemotherapy or… That’s a systemic thing. They’ve gotta work through the whole thing. By the way, we’ve had lots of stories of clients who’ve trained through cancer and gotten strong and would attribute a lot of their muscle mass and the strength that they had built over the years to their… Really, their healing process through the cancer treatments. But for most of us, those injuries are acute enough. They’re in a specific spot. And so we can try to rehab that spot and hit PRs in other spots. And that’s really how you fight the mental game, is you just keep training and training through it, and pursue the PRs that you can.

Brett McKay: Well, Matt, this has been a great conversation, where can people go to learn more about your work?

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, man. Barbell Logic. We’re Barbell Logic. As matter fact, the best place to go for Art of Manliness listeners is actually, And we have a specific landing page there specifically for Art of Manliness listeners. One, you can answer a few short questions to get matched with a coach. Online coach, is perfect for you in just a matter of seconds. Your first month is free for online coaching. There is no contract. There’s nothing to lose. You can cancel any time. And you can train just like Brett does, which is pretty cool. And then the other thing that we have on that landing page is there’s a free e-book called Lifting for the Long Haul, which will help you start thinking of strength training as the foundation for long-term health and give you a simple approach to really strength and nutrition that will make your doctor and your family happy. So is a great place to start. Again, we’ve got the podcast, we got the YouTube channel. I always tell people to consume the content first before you spend money with us. I think that’s a great way to do it, and see if you like what we put out. And man, thanks for having me on the show. It’s been a blast to coach you for the last seven years almost, and, I’m excited for future…

Brett McKay: No, yeah… Here’s to seven more.

Matt Reynolds: That’s right. I’m excited for future different PRs. I’m excited to coach Gus, in a few years. He’s almost there.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I know. I’m always asking him, “When are you gonna start training?”

Matt Reynolds: That’s right.

Brett McKay: Well, yeah, but… I think the PR I’m working on right now is, I’m at a lower weight than I’m usually at. I’m at 206.

Matt Reynolds: Yup.

Brett McKay: I usually I was at like a 215, 217, so I’m trying to get PR at this lighter weight. That’s… It’s fine.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, which is a great way to look at it, right? And you’re 40, right? You’re 40 or you’re almost 40.

Brett McKay: I’m turning 40 in December.

Matt Reynolds: Okay, so it’s coming. So then we’re gonna have the post-40 PRs.

Brett McKay: The post-40 PRs.

Matt Reynolds: And so everything that you hit in January…

Brett McKay: It’s a new PR.

Matt Reynolds: Yeah, PR. That’s right. That’s the way to look at it.

Brett McKay: It’s a new lease. Thanks Matt, I really… I appreciate it. Well, hey, Matt, now, thanks so much for your time, it’s been a pleasure.

Matt Reynolds: Thanks brother.

Brett McKay: My guest today was Matt Reynolds. He’s the founder and CEO of Barbell Logic Online Coaching. You can find more information about Barbell Logic at Also check out that free e-book. Lifting for the Long Haul. It’s available at Also check out our show notes at, where you can find links to resources and we delve deeper into this topic.

Well, that wraps up another edition of The AOM Podcast. Make sure to check out our website at where you can find our podcast archives as well as thousands of articles written over the years about pretty much anything you can think of. And if you’d like to enjoy ad-free episodes of the AOM podcast, you can do so on Stitcher Premium. Head over to, sign up and use code manliness and check out for a free month trial. Once you’re signed up, download the Stitcher app on Android or iOS, and you can start enjoying ad-free episodes of The AOM Podcast.

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