Episode 2. The best way to build lean muscle mass faster with the mind-muscle connection

Episode 2. The best way to build lean muscle mass faster with the mind-muscle connection

Episode 2. The best way to build lean muscle mass faster with the mind-muscle connection

Show Notes

This episode was all about getting MORE from your gym training sessions using the mind-muscle connection. Scott and Kevin emphasized that building lean muscle tissue takes time. There’s no way to do it “fast.” That said, it is certainly faster to do it right than to waste your time in the gym with poor technique or a poor workout plan!

Building Lean Muscle Mass with the Mind-Muscle Connection (Notes)

  • The episode began with a realistic discussion of what’s needed to actually build muscle (time and consistency). Building muscle “fast” is a myth, but it is faster to learn important principles now, and use these principles in your training, than it is to ignore them.
  • The body wants to make things easier (by using gravity, easier leverages, etc.). Your job is to resist this, and to make things harder on the muscle, to work it through a full range of motion.
  • There was a short discussion about the importance of exercise sequencing (a topic that will be its own episode).
  • How to use cables to increase tension on the muscle for certain exercises (e.g. curls), where gravity often relieves some of the tension.
  • Scott referenced Pumping Iron a number of times as an excellent example of how to train. There were no “counting” tempos, but there was cadence. Watch Arnold train, and you can see he’s working the muscles through a full range of motion, not just worried about getting the weight from A to B in the easiest way possible
  • Towards the end, both Scott and Kevin both gave their own, full bodypart by bodypart rundown of how to get a better mind-muscle connection at your next training session.

Key Terms

“Higher-Threshold Motor Units”

These are the motor units in the muscle that are harder to activate. The threshold is higher, so it takes “more” to get them recruited. Experts used to think getting past this threshold was all about load (i.e. the weight on the bar), but as it turns out, it is actually the intensity of contraction, and this is possible with lighter weights.

The Size Principle states that motor units are recruited from smallest to largest. Or, in other words, the Type IIB muscle fibers come last (and they’re the kind you need to recruit in order to build muscle), so you really need to stress the muscle properly to get them firing. This is done with intensity, which isn’t just about load on the ar.


“Maximum Voluntary Neural Activation” (often “Maximum Voluntary Contraction” in The Abel Approach)

Getting more recruitment. Most people cannot do this. The longer you’ve trained, the better you get at achieving maximum voluntary contraction. It’s an adaptive process of the nervous system to training. Since most people cannot produce a 100% maximal voluntary contraction… one set ain’t gonna be enough to to force the muscle to response.


“Functional Differentiation and Segmented Utilization of Muscles in Action.”

Basically, the Central Nervous System is responsible for recruiting muscles, based on which muscles have a “favorable” line of action, which muscles are fatigued, which muscles have high- vs. low-threshold motor units, and so on.

Podcast quote: “If you overload a specific muscle in one plane, then it would make sense to follow that in a very specific other plane, to reach the belly of the muscle.”

Links / Resources mentioned

Scott’s Innervation Primer — click here.


Episode 1. Introduction, plus what it takes to get a sculpted physique

Episode 1. Introduction, plus what it takes to get a sculpted physique

Episode 1. Introduction, plus what it takes to get a sculpted physique

Show Notes

This episode was our introduction to the show, plus it featured a discussion about what you need to focus on to achieve a sculpted physique: a bird’s eye view, or overview. (Plus a lot of ranting about what not to do!)

Introductions: Scott Abel, Kevin Weiss, and Mike Forest. You can read more about them at our “The Hosts” page of the physique website (http://smartersculptedphyique.com/hosts/), but, briefly:

Scott Abel: Spent 4 decades in bodybuilding, and has been to the top, on the cover of magazines, ghostwriting for magazines, and more. In his heyday, he was known for his ability to stay guest-posing lean year-round using the Cycle Diet. He’s coached hundreds if not thousands of clients from all walks of life—from competitive bodybuilders to regular folks. (Scott also mentioned that Andy, our cover model, is a client. You can find him on Instagram at @therealandysinclair.)

Kevin Weiss: Started this whole fitness thing way back at age 12, and his first bodybuilding competition at 15 years old, and his last one at age 40. Kevin transitioned to coach in 2003. He’s been coaching online, but also opened his own private gym 11 years ago. He now has clients now between 15 and 85! Recently, in Potchefstroom, South Africa, he became an M1 International Powerlifting Federation World Champion.

Mike Forest: Mike’s lost about 100 lbs. and kept it off for 10 years. He’s interested in the principles of training, diet, program design, and so on, but also habits, the brain, and optimising everything you do. What strategies make things easier, and allow you to get more done? He’s also a part-time PhD candidate, ABD, writing about rhetoric and semiotics in Dickens.

Getting a Sculpted Physique (Notes)

  • You have to be present, in whatever you’re doing. As an individual, you have to be aware of your mental, emotional, and physical, not compartmentalise them.
  • If you get into something like physique or bodybuilding or whatever—when you do it right, you can use that and build on it. You don’t have to let it eat up your life. That’s the opposite of what should happen, and yet it’s what’s most common.
  • The difference between mastery and obsession: do you own what you’re doing, or does it own you?
  • You don’t get a physique at any cost. This involved a discussion of the dangers of getting too involved in the bodybuilding subculture: drugs, diet obsession, that kind of thing.
  • “The bodybuilding subculture—they really hammer the ‘cult’ in ‘subculture.’”
  • Why coaching is often how you avoid dangers. Coaching is two things: accountability and support. A good coach provides both, and knows when to use both. Scott quoted a line from Vern Gambetta, how a coach transitions from being a guiding light to more of a mirror. The client learns self-sufficiency, not dependence.
  • A good coach treats every person individually.
  • You need to learn what progress really looks like. Sometimes it’s not measurable, even if it’s not visually available. Similarly, killing yourself in the gym is not “progress.” You build workload capacity and recovery capacity. You don’t just annihilate yourself. Instead: “Stimulate, don’t annihilate.”
  • Scott ranted about using phones at the gym: they get in the way of the mind-muscle and mind-body connection.In terms of what to write down or “track,” it’s not all about numbers In powerlifting, it is, to a greater extent, but in bodybuilding, less so.
  • The importance of tweakology, as it relates to diet, program design, everything.
  • How the industry complicates what is simple, but then simplifies what is complicated… because they’re not dealing with people as individuals. An example of oversimplifying things is just cutting calories and adding cardio when weight loss stalls, instead of treating people as individuals. Scott will
  • “There are no supposed-tos; there’s just the person in front of you.”
  • Both coaches share an example of finding people who’ve been given diet and training programs that they had previously given to other clients…. that were specific to those clients, so of course they didn’t work when they were just straight up given to someone with completely different goals, and a completely different body, weighing like 50 lbs. more.
  • “You coach the person, not the program.”
  • Someone can be the same height, weight, and age, but likely their lifestyles aren’t the same.

Links / Resources mentioned

Andy, a client of Scott’s, can be found on Instagram at @realandysinclair

Scott’s guest posing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgzqE19FTeY

Scott’s website: http://scottabelfitness.com/

Kevin’s website: http://bodyperformance.net/

Mike’s website: http://thehabit.space/