Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Interview

Here's a recent interview I did for a dutch site.

Other interviews and articles can be found here.


Martin, we can all read your bio on your blog, but what have you been up to in the last 6 months? Any news on a book for example?

I've been keeping very busy with clients, articles (for the swedish bodybuilding mag "Body") and book writing. More of the former, less of the latter, but I'm picking up the pace to get the book out fairly soon. I actually have a date set in my mind, but won't say anything more on that topic. It'll be done when it's done (and hopefully worth the wait).

Some people complain of headaches during the fast, any idea what causes this and better yet, how to solve it?

The most probable cause in this context is hypoglycemia and the headaches are likely to occur after low carb (rest) days. I rarely encounter this among my own clients, but I'd wager a bet that most people experiencing the headaches are eating very low carb/ketogenic on rest days, which is why hypoglycemia may occur early in the fast on the next day. If that is the case, I'd then suggest to up carb intake on rest days - 1 g cho/kg body weight is a good starting point. The goal is not to hit ketosis on rest days like some people seem to believe; if you do, then you're doing it wrong (and shifting in and out of ketosis isn't exactly ideal for mental performance either). Make sure protein and carbs are high enough to not go ketogenic on rest days if you're having problems with fasting headaches.

Another factor that plays into this is the caloric surplus and deficit; if you're having headaches, make sure that the gap between training days and rest days isn't too steep in terms of calorie surplus/deficit. Large swings, i.e eating +50%--50% maintenance/ on training/rest, can also cause headaches and other mood disturbances during the fast.

Other possibilities not related to hypoglycemia include dehydration and caffeine withdrawal, both easily solved by drinking more and keeping your regular caffeine habits intact.

If all of the above can be ruled out as explanations to your headaches, studies show that there is a pretty strong genetic predisposition to migraines, which can be triggered by very small fluctuations in blood glucose - if that's the case, well, fasting simply isn't for you, and you may in fact be better off with more regular meals.

Do you recommend a different training approuch especially volume wise when following the IF guidelines?

Whatever works for you will work just as well on an IF regimen. That being said, I am biased towards a certain style of training; my own training methodology is inspired by the works of Stuart McRoberts and Arthur Jones, for example, and puts a heavy focus on training core movements with proper intensity and set structure. I also consider some of the 3-5 x 5-templates out there to be solid, success-proof, routines. So sure, given that I believe 90% of trainees out there are much better following the likes of these training routines than the stuff I see people doing in the gym, these are approaches I would recommend for most people doing IF as well; but again, there is no need for a special approach due the diet. However, for fasted state training, i.e if you're working out at the end of the fast (with only a small amount of BCAA, as I recommend as a pre-wo 'meal'), I would definitely recommend starting out doing shorter weight training sessions as a general rule for everyone.

A lot of questions are asked about recomp. Lots of powerbuilders (not bodybuilders) want to get leaner, but don't want to loose a lot of bw and especially no strength! Can you give us some guidelines about recomping (eg some people say +25% kcal on training days and -50% kcal on off days)?

That's what most people want, and it's not something easily covered in a few lines here. On the topic of the diet, I'll say this: if the +25%/-50%-approach is working for you, that's great. If it isn't, consider keeping a tighter caloric interval, especially if you're already lean. And what is absolutely crucial - make sure to get a lot of protein on rest days.

Is bulking up just a matter of upping the calories or do you have some special approuch for this as well?

Another topic that I won't try to cover in depth here, rest assured that special measures have to be taken if you want your gains to be lean. First of all, training wise, I do things differently. Aside from visual cues, I rate the quality of gain by relative strength. If anything, that is something people should take away from this interview. Look at your weight gain in relation to your strength gains. If you're losing reps in chins on your bulk, odds are you're getting fat. If you've gained 10 lbs on your bench in the last month, while similarily gaining 10 lbs of body weight, you're getting fat. You get the point. I have a system for that, sort of a minimum standard of relative strength I think people should gain in relationship to their weight. This is complex and dependent on training experience, body leverages and so forth. Needless to say, there are exceptions such as training a beginner or when introducing a new movement, the system cannot be applied.

Diet wise, it's a matter of finding the sweet spot when it comes to weight gain, calorie intake and macros; dependent on training experience and insulin sensitivty, among other things.

What do you think are average natural muscle gains in a month's time?

Hard to say, since there is such a tremendous variability here. However, assuming that a) you've already tapped into your newbie gains, b) you're not completely retarded when it comes to your diet or training regimen and c) you wan't to keep the gains lean, then we're looking at 1-1.5 lbs per month for most people.

Anything else you don't want my dutch readers to miss out on?

Nothing I can think of.


Anonymous said...

good stuff, thanks

Wilmar said...

so on rest days, protein-heavy. does that mean carb-light?

UofMWolverine81 said...


I just wanted to say thank you for your always-informative blog. It's a true gem and a privilege to come here and experience a small slice of your extensive knowledge.

Martin Berkhan said...




thanks, I'm glad you like my writings.

Tan Yew Wei said...

Very Nice. Though I must say that while bulking, the relative strength gains are disproportionate. Myself experiencing great squat gains with chinning more or less consistent or becoming slightly worse. But great info anyway, hope more is covered in the book.

Martin Berkhan said...

'Though I must say that while bulking, the relative strength gains are disproportionate'

Sure, but you're always going to gain more in squats and deads compared to bench or chins.

Think of chins in terms of 1RM, i.e your max would be around 265-270 if you can crank out 10 body weight reps at 200 lbs.

Let's say you gain 10 lbs and increase your squat 1RM by 25-30 lbs (typical/common gain for an intermediate lifter on a generic non-retarded approach, certainly not great by any means).

You're still able to get 10 x bw chins and you're now doing 210 x 10 = 1RM of 280 = +10-15 lbs gained on this lift vs 25-30 lbs on squats.

Strength potential in squats is much greater, so this lift will always be ahead. Not uncommon to see a 400 lb squat, but when was the last time you saw a 400 lbs chin.

Jaap said...

Hey Martin thx again for doing the interview for my blog (!

nick said...

interesting point about gaining i never thought of it that way...

great blog btw!

Fran said...

I agree, great blog with lots of cool information I had no clue about before! Really looking forward to your book, Martin:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

Do you plan on releasing your book as an ebook or in hard copy format?

mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin Berkhan said...

Thanks, guys.

'Do you plan on releasing your book as an ebook or in hard copy format?'

Not yet decided.

Daniel said...

Hey Martin,
I was just wondering what you thought would be a good goal to shoot for wrt pull ups. What sort of bodyweight goal for 1rm in pull ups would be equivalent to a 1.5bw bench or 2.5bw deadlift?


Martin Berkhan said...

Chins/pullups = bench strength standard*, so 1.5 x bw or thereabouts.

* as pullups/chins favors long limbed individuals, and bench favor short limbed individuals, you will likely find either goal much harder/easier to attain, depending on body type.

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

Welcome to the Internet's leading resource on intermittent fasting and all things related.

FeedBurner FeedCount

Google Friend Connect

Join Me on Twitter


Follow Me on Facebook

Recommended Reading

Lame Title, Good Book

Recommended Reading

Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss

Recommended Reading

Covers All Bases

Recommended Reading

Awesome Recipes for The Paleo Diet
Recipes for the Paleo Diet - Two Cookbooks - 120 Recipes Each!>

Recommended Reading

Fat Loss Made Easy

Great Interval Timer

+1 If You Think Leangains is Awesome