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The Thermo Diet Podcast Episode 33 - Nicholas Simpson

The Thermo Diet Podcast Episode 33 - Nicholas Simpson

In this episode of The Thermo Diet Podcast Jayton Miller sits down with Nicholas Simpson and talks about a wide range of topics from training, fat loss, hormonal responses from exercise and more! Check it out and let us know what you think!

 

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Full trancript

Jayton Miller:
Welcome back to The Thermo Diet podcast. I'm your host, Jayton Miller. And I'm here with Nicholas Simpson. How are you doing, Nick?

Nicholas Simpson:
Good. Thank you. How are you doing?

Jayton Miller:
I'm doing well. So can you tell us your background story, how you got here and what you're involved in?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, so probably a bit of a meathead growing up and just lifting things, I did a bit of competitive powerlifting and weightlifting. But I did my degree in kinesiology. And in the last year of that, did some work terms with the Canadian Sport Institute, and got hired on after that and was with them for about 10 years there. And during that time, worked with the Canadian national speed skating team. And it was a bit of a unique situation, but for the good part of that time, I was working with almost every development level. So young athletes from 14 years old with their group programs, all the way up to the Olympians that we had. And then I think maybe around the last six years or so I want to say, with the university swim team as well. And then I'm still currently working with the swim team, but now more on the private end with vital strength in physiology in Calgary.

Jayton Miller:
Okay, sweet. So what are some of your principles whenever it comes to movement, some of the things that you look for when optimizing an athlete?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah. So I mean, I guess that forms part of the backstory too about how my perspective has changed over the years. But when I first started out, I had that perspective that a lot of strength coaches still have that like my job was to get athletes strong in the weight room, and build their general capacity. And then it was pretty much up to the athlete and the sport coach, and whoever else to transfer that into the actual sport. But through my time with speed skating and again, being able to work with everyone from those different development levels, I was able to see that we had young athletes that could out lift our national team athletes when we had national team athletes that weren't winning medals that were lifting more than the athletes that were winning medals. And it wasn't just isolated to the weight room either, but we had a similar thing happening in the physiology lab where athletes could perform better on the bike.

Nicholas Simpson:
But when it came to what actually mattered, I just wasn't translating. And speed skating is a pretty technical sport. And it's a little bit of a natural looking movement, but through that process I was trying to troubleshoot what was holding them back basically, and what could I do from the strength end of things that would actually matter more for this population of athletes. And so where I moved and where I start now is on the biomechanics end and looking specifically what can I see and what can the coach see, or the therapist see in their movement when they're actually doing their sport? And then what are the specific ways that we can address the deficiencies that we see? And often it's not just squatting anymore? It's something more specific than that. And so I can give a few examples of that.

Nicholas Simpson:
But what it would look like again, is often the coaches would get frustrated if they'd given the same technical cue to an athlete multiple times, and if the athlete still wasn't executing it. And then at that point they're like, "Well, I've done my job. I've told them what they're doing. They're still doing it. What else can I do?" And so that process of troubleshooting it well, aside from just the choice of them choosing to execute that technique, what are the other factors that are going to influence that choice for the athlete consciously or unconsciously? So like if you're asking a skater to sit low or if you're just telling someone to get lower into a squat, rather than just assuming it's a choice actually checking do they have the mobility to do that properly? And if they have the mobility to do that properly, what's their strength like in those positions?

Nicholas Simpson:
So maybe they could get there, but then you put a load on them or an intensity where they can't support that position with their current strength levels. So they're just adopting positions where they can support the load or intensity you've prescribed to them. And from that end of things, then it gets very specific about okay, it's not just in general quality, strength is very context specific. And if I want them to get stronger like squatting in an upright position, I really need to enforce that. I can't just tell them to do front squats because there's still a lot of room for error I guess, or technical things that aren't going to contribute to that. Did you have any more specific thoughts around that or?

Jayton Miller:
So what would be some of the most common patterns that you would see in some of these athletes? And then whenever it comes to getting them to actually make the connection to what you're telling them, and how they can perform that physically, what are some of the things that you would see that would allow them to get that cue within their body?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, so a lot of people present with very similar patterns. So many people are tight in the hip flexors, where their hips are going to tilt forward and they'll have that anteversion there. Many people have a tendency to be a little bit duck footed where their feet are turning outwards. Many people will be more rounded in the shoulders in upper backs, and that's true for anyone for general population, or athletes from a variety of different sports. And so recognizing whether those patterns are there or not, and then how that's going to influence their movement can be a big thing. And then there can be a lot of different ways you can intervene for that. I would say the most common one is that people just try to release the tight muscles. And that's not necessarily a bad approach, but it's only one side of the equation.

Nicholas Simpson:
And so if you think every muscle has or every joint has at least a muscle on either side, so you can think elbow joints have biceps and triceps. Your biceps are going to pull out this way, triceps are going to pull out this way. So if say your arm was stuck like this for some reason, the usual approach would be to say, "Okay, this muscle pulls it this way, that means this is too tight. So let's release that, and then get it back to a more neutral position." But when you realize it's not just about the tight muscles, but it's about the balance of strength and tension on either side, then it can be just as much about increasing tension relative on the weaker side and not just about releasing tension on the tight side. That can be important, because tension provides stability. And it's very common that the people area or the people who have tight areas have usually or sometimes sustained injuries around there.

Nicholas Simpson:
So shoulder gets sore, body senses that it's unstable. Muscles tighten up to increase the stability and protect that. Just muscle guarding basically. Same thing with low back injuries. Someone has hurt their low back and then hip flexors, hamstrings, things that can crank up the tension there so it moves less are going to get tighter. And if you are going to just release that tension, it can improve symptoms caused by that tension. But you've also added instability into the system. So you need to be thinking about how can I create the desired positions without also introducing instability? And that's a little bit about that concept of tensegrity retention and integrity. But the idea that our engineering concept originally, but that are ... they're basically floating in space, and they're suspended by our muscles and tendons and ligaments and fascia, similar to how a suspension bridge is held up.

Nicholas Simpson:
And then just with the analogy I just used, you don't necessarily want to add a lot of flack to the lines. You want to figure out how you can keep support there, but then adjust things to get the range in the positions that you want. And I'd say that the actual interventions would vary a lot, and I think this is where things can get creative and fun, but also meaningful for the athlete. So you can ... if I had a speed skater where they can't get a full arm swing because something seems restricted around here, rather than just doing a pack stretch and isolating that one component, you could do lower load cable movements, where they're in a more specific position so the tension across the rest of their body is more similar to how they're going to use it. Do something like the fly in that range, where it's getting an eccentric lengthening, and they're developing the control along with the range on all sides of the joint.

Jayton Miller:
So do you ever incorporate traditional stretches in that case, or is it more of an active movement that's going to allow for that tensegrity to take place? And then do you incorporate some of the myofascial release, because you're actually the first one that threw me down the functional patterns rabbit hole and anatomy training. So I've been diving way into that. So what are some of your thoughts in that realm?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, I don't really use traditional stretching anymore. And for that reason where it tends to be more trying to add slack to the system, it's often not very specific to where the tissue might be bound up. So you can think if you had some trigger points that are causing that tissue not to glide well or to extend well. If you just stretch it in a normal way, you'll tend to get a lot more distal tension in the muscle I think in an analogy that [inaudible 00:13:44] used was if you tied a knot in elastic band and then you're trying to stretch that, you're actually winding up that bound area even tighter. So I do, and just experience over the years with stretching was the return on investment was very low. Like often you would spend a long time stretching, get some results, but not really a lot for what you put into it. Issues would come back fairly quickly.

Nicholas Simpson:
Sometimes you'd have that issue of if someone had an injury, you stretch something tight then the stretching would flare it up. And I have had much better success using more myofascial release or when it's available, referring people to therapists who can do some soft tissue work. But yeah, and not the superficial foam rolling that many people do, but just finding those sore spots and trigger points, pinning them down. And then actually searching for that muscle relaxation or that actual feel of being able to let it go and let that lacrosse ball or whatever it is sink deeper.

Jayton Miller:
Definitely. So a lot of the movements that I see you do are very unique, and they go along with some of the slings like the oblique slings that they were talking about. Can you go into some of the specifics as to why those movements are beneficial, and how they would help an athlete?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah. In anatomy trainings, the fascial lines that was something I was aware of and I might have read portions of the books much earlier in my career, but just not really paid a lot of attention to it. And then when I started to try to problem solve these issues that athletes and myself were having in a more specific way and reread that material, it became much more relevant. And it made sense, and also realizing that if someone had aches and pains, not just looking at the area that's happening. And also my experience with the way the good physios and therapists with our team or that I'd interact with elsewhere were treating people. That though my shoulder hurts, and then they do something in your thigh and then it feels better. So those experiences built up over time, but an analogy I use for the athletes and with the swimmers, we have some young college guys in there.

Nicholas Simpson:
A lot of them still want to have an aesthetic physique with big packs. They want to do some conventional lifting to put on mass. I don't like fully saying no to people. I still like people to make their own decision, but one example that resonates a little bit is if you were throwing a baseball, some of the muscles involved in throwing that ball are your packs. And you can think or even again, for the swimmer if they're doing a swimming stroke and it's intuitive that if you made those muscles stronger, they might contribute to that movement being stronger. But if you look at those good athletes, and you'll know that having a very good range of motion for the throw, a good range of motion for your swimming stroke is really going to contribute to what you can put into that movement.

Nicholas Simpson:
So if you had less strength here, but you could really stretch that arm out and get a good elastic whip for your throw, that's probably going to contribute more power than if you upped your bench by 20 pounds. But you get so tight in that process that you can barely stretch your arm back. And so it's very common for me to see with those typical postural patterns, there's many athletes and swimmers included where they can't get their arms in a good overhead position without really overextending the backs or bending their elbows to take tension off that press. So why would I try to add more tension to that system that's probably going to pull them into those patterns even further before I can give them the rings that they need? And that power that you're going to need for throw or a swing or a swimming stroke, you need to anchor that from somewhere.

Nicholas Simpson:
And so it's an analogy like you can't shoot a cannon out of the canoe. But if you have a lot of power in your upper body and you don't have the strength to match that in your core or your leg, where this arm is going to anchor from where it's pulling, then you lose those postures that are going to be good for you and then you lose that power from the throw. And again for the swimmer, maybe as soon as they start pulling, their chest lifts up, the back arches and then they lose their stream line in the water. And that's a pattern that might be encouraged if you're just doing a regular bench press and arching up to make it a little bit more of a decline, shorten the range. And then you're adding tension to these packs. So very few movements done. Today I would say really develop that chain as a whole will do everything part by part if they do get to everything.

Nicholas Simpson:
So you'll do a chest exercise and an arm exercise, and a core exercise and a leg exercise. But that's a far cry from actually developing those things in unison, and in a way that actually contributes well to the movements that you need. And I like using automotive analogies a lot. It's fairly intuitive to people, and it's really not that different if you're looking at the performance of the car or a race car. But you can think about say you had a stock Honda Civic or some other economical car. Well, first off if you could try tearing that thing down the road, when it doesn't have a lot of power it's not going to go very fast. And the chance that it really damages itself are not that great. But then if you soup up the engine, but you don't soup anything else up in that car, now the chances that you could blow something up are pretty good.

Nicholas Simpson:
And I think that's what happens a lot with regular strength training is that we build up all these engines in the body, but then the drive train, so to speak, and the wheels are not really up to par. And then people get injured. And even if they don't get injured, they're just not able to express their power very well. Along the same lines, if you wanted to test the power of a car, you could either hook the engine directly up to a dyno and get a reading that way. Or you could drive your car on some dynos or some rollers and test the power at the rear wheels. And I think it's not uncommon to lose 10% plus of the power just through the drive train. So if your engine has 500 horsepowers when you hook that dyno up directly, you might sense for 440, 450 or something at the rear wheels.

Nicholas Simpson:
And what really matters is not how much power the engine has, but how much power actually gets into the road when you're talking about making a fast car. And again, that's where I think a lot of strength coaches get lost is they're saying like, "I'm just going to keep putting bigger engines in and then in that drive train thing is up to someone else." Or it's just given a little bit of a nod and never really develops in unison well. Yeah.

Jayton Miller:
Okay. So I guess as a drive train analogy, would you view the core and the transverse abdominis as something that you would want to focus on in terms of allowing that to happen, or would it just be more of an overall body integration into that?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, I think the transverse abs can be a big part of that because, and I saw the physio rehab worlds do a 180 with this, but I think it was popular in the '90s to talk about hollowing and isolating the TVA. You're using ultrasounds to try to make sure you got the contraction there, but nowhere else. So I think that was too far on the isolated end, and see my people then get good results with that. And then there was a shift away from that fully, but I think that those inner core muscles are better suited for stabilizing the spine, and allowing proper breathing during movement. And when you just do a typical core bracing, like most people do in the weight room where you're just locking and burying everything down using your external core muscles in that, it can provide you with a strong cylinder for doing a deadlift or squat or whatever it may be.

Nicholas Simpson:
But when you bear down like that, you're locking your ribcage down, you're restricting your ability to get the big breath. You're locking your rotation down in your T-spine. So I think you'd want to use those external core muscles more elastically along with the lines of those fascial slings, so that one leg is connected through the core to the opposite arm. I want to be able to stretch that out so I can use it as a big elastic to whip something around. And that entails having good control of the TVA so you can stabilize your spine while you're doing that. And again, very common in the weight room that we've taught people how to brace and then everyone's T-spine is locked up and they can't breathe during movement. But the solution has just been to be while we're just ... we're still going to keep doing what we're doing, and then I'll try to add these low load exercises to teach you how to rotate there or I'll keep doing what I'm doing in the weight room.

Nicholas Simpson:
But now you have to go get manual therapy, and they're going to fix it for you. And very few people may have a good picture of the hole where you can develop it all together. And it's not that those engines aren't important. But it is important, I think that everything develops together. And so I would want to make sure that someone could exhibit good mechanics in the movements that matter to them. And then if you see something fall through in those mechanics, you're trying to bring the weak link up. And you're not just throwing the kitchen sink of weight room stuff at it. And then dealing with all the injuries and compensations that result from that.

Jayton Miller:
So if someone was trying to focus on allowing for the external abdominals to be elastic, yet still trying to figure out how to have the intra abdominal pressure that's necessary, what are some of the cues that you would give somebody in that case?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, well I would start with low load. I wouldn't do it during a dynamic exercise basically. I would start with someone just lying on their back on the ground when they don't have to worry about gravity a lot less even to hold tension in their spine. Start with their knees bent so that they have less tension and less stretch from their hip flexors, pulling their hips into the anterior tilt which is going to make it harder to get that. And then just giving those cues of breathing into the ribcage, hollowing their core or pulling the belly button in and upwards into the ribcage doing that the vacuum posing like the old school bodybuilders used to do. But getting those mechanics down where they're comfortable breathing into their ribcage, keeping the chest high in the back neutral in that low load scenario.

Nicholas Simpson:
And then moving that to standing on the wall, and then maybe into some fairly easy, just like the standing overhead press with one dumbbell. And making sure they can work on the same mechanics, their neutral spine, hollow, big ribcage, pull the belly button up and make sure they're not tilting their hips forwards and just being really anal about technique through that process. And realizing that if they can't even get it standing or lying, then the chance that it's going to happen in a more dynamic movement is pretty much zero.

Jayton Miller:
Okay. So how do you see some of this stuff whenever you begin to incorporate it in the gym trends for over into everyday life?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, you can't separate anything. So again, if you're doing a typical lifting and using form that's typical to say you're just squatting with your toes out to allow more range in your hips when you're squatting, you're adding tension to the system in a way that starts to hold you in those positions no matter what you're doing. And so if people do a lot of lifting like that, they'll have tendencies to start to walk more duck footed and then hold their posture like that. And the same thing the other way around, where if you can get them fixing those dysfunctions in the weight room then they'll be more likely to maintain that neutrality standing tall with long spines, and keeping their feet neutral more often when they walk. And I do think that for most people, they do want to be starting from a place of neutrality.

Nicholas Simpson:
You can think that say like if you're starting from neutral, you may have three spaces that you could move from either side of that, for a given joint. So say that's your hip internal or external rotation. Now say that range or the number of steps never really changes, but now your starting point is out here with your toes out. Maybe you can make it two spaces, but then you're at the bony end range for that joint. And then now you're further away from your bony endpoint for internal rotation, let's say you make it two and then there's just too much passive stiffness to get you any further. So not being in a place of neutrality from just a standing resting place is really going to start to limit your ability to travel to either side. And for sure, there's going to be sports and activities that favor certain positions more, but you just have to be aware of that.

Nicholas Simpson:
And this is a debate that happens often like what adaptations as a result of a sport or activity are natural because of that? And if we bring someone back to neutral, is that going to be worse for their performance? And that's where I think it also matters like how you get them back there. Again, are you just releasing things or are you building strength and tension in the opposite direction? And then coming back to the basic biomechanical concepts like work in terms of energy. Every action or movement you want to do has an energy costs associated with it. And the equation for that is force times distance. And the same thing applies for you moving your own body on the ground, or ice or in the water, whatever it may be. So the more range you can move through, that gives you more space to apply force to the environment.

Nicholas Simpson:
So if your range starts to get restricted, then naturally that's going to reduce the amount of energy you can transfer into movement. And so you need to understand that yeah, if I'm always doing similar things like I'm always biasing hip extension and external rotation, and I'm not really doing much to balance that, then that's going to ... that tension I'm building on the one side of things is going to start to pull me one way. But if you start going too far that way, and again, it reduces your ability to move further that way because you're already a third of the way or you're already halfway there. Well, now I have less room to do work if I could normally move through that full range.

Jayton Miller:
Okay. Interesting. Another topic that I really wanted to touch on was your perception of muscle physiology, and how the muscle fibers are actually in a vortex shape, and how that creates a certain amount of tension in how we can work with the body to promote working with the muscle fibers that way. Can you go into that, and maybe define that a little bit better for people who don't really know?

Nicholas Simpson:
You might have to clarify what you mean by the vortex shape in the muscles. I think through the tissues as a whole, you might see some of those patterns develop. I'm not sure if you would see that in a single muscle if you isolated it. But definitely, depending on the place in the body and the role that muscles typically have, the muscle fibers will be arranged in different ways. So you might have long straight muscle fibers, where they're basically pulling in a straight line. Or you might have something like the calf muscles, where the muscle fibers are coming at oblique angles to their line of pull. And then through some muscles, that angle can actually change through contraction, and that might be a little bit of the spiraling that you're referring to there.

Nicholas Simpson:
But generally, the longer a muscle is so the number of sarcomeres in series for the contractile units in series, the faster it's going to be able to contract. But that comes at a bit of a trade off and force. And then when you have that arrangement at angles there, they'll be able to provide more force and fit more fibers into the same area. But because it's pulling at oblique angle, you'll lose a little bit of a power of that. But then that's where that gearing comes into play, where that angle may change slightly so that for a given contraction it may actually provide more movement. And I'll be honest, that's not really something I worry about too much from the aspect of prescribing training, but it is a consideration about what might be the most efficient muscle action for a given task.

Nicholas Simpson:
And so for something like the calf, we posted a little video recently about toe walking. But in fast runners, you want the calf muscles to be working pretty much isometrically. So they're not really changing length is what that means during the movements. So the Achilles tendon will get stretched as that foot comes in contact with the ground, but you want the calf muscles to be strong enough to hold that same shorter length. Whereas if they're not strong enough, then that muscle will start to lengthen. And you won't get the same kind of elastic recoil through the tendon as you would if the muscle was able to be more rigid. And in that example, I think very few people work on the strength of their feet or their calves in that way normally. And so if you're practicing walking on the balls of your feet and on your tiptoes, that's just low intensity opportunity to strengthen your calves in that isometric fashion there.

Jayton Miller:
Okay. So if you were going to talk to an every day person that's trying to increase power transfer and think about some of these concepts, what are some of the tips that you would give them?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, I mean it would depend on what their starting point is in terms of their knowledge, but I would try to relay some of those same concepts of wanting a full range of motion to work through. And shooting a cannon out of canoe and having that drive train all together. But so I'd say most or for a lot of people don't really understand the mechanics of the movements they're trying to do that well. So let's say, someone learned how to throw at some time when they were young and they don't really think about it too much. And then maybe they want to throw better, and they just figured getting stronger will be a way to do that. And then they just do typical strength training movements on top of that. I would say the best place to start is to get some slow motion videos of themselves throwing, and then while doing whatever activity.

Nicholas Simpson:
And then compare that to some of the best movers in the world, and try to see what's happening to start to be aware of those connections across their body. And to try to identify where the weak links are for them. The way I and normally for clients, I do more of that process and then I'll educate them along the way. And I believe that's absolutely essential if you want to get the most out of a person, or an athlete long term is they need to become experts in the movement in the sport. But you could call it doing a gap analysis and a needs analysis. And so the first thing is having a goal and knowing where you want to be. And then identifying what the gaps are currently. So what is the difference between where you are now and the technique, or whatever it is that's going to give you the power that you want. Then identifying what areas need improvement, and making a plan about how you're going to get there and actually doing it.

Nicholas Simpson:
And it seems really obvious and simple, but not a lot of people actually even go that far. It might just be simple like well, I'll just get stronger and I'll keep working hard and things will come together. But once you start to understand mechanics and most sports are way more similar. And the human body really has a limited number of ways where it can move, or how it can move and still be efficient. And so once the gates have opened for that and you understand that, then it's fairly easy to look at a video and say, "Okay, I see how for my doing a spring starts and I got popped up, or I'm doing a sled push and my core opens up, maybe I'll try to do some movements where I can hold my core position under load."

Nicholas Simpson:
And that's where I like some of the pendulum work. And then just reevaluating that video over time. But just yeah, slow motion video is the best place I would start. And then seeing some of the people out there who move well and seem to get it.

Jayton Miller:
Definitely. So if there is one principle that you could tell any kind of athlete that's just in the gym to focus on, what would that be?

Nicholas Simpson:
Any kind of athlete. Well, the principal I guess I mean I do you think the spine and posture as a central importance. So that would be a more practical thing I would relay, or something they could act on about keeping good posture in any movement. But on the more philosophy side, it would be understanding that everything they do is going to influence everything else they do. And so it's not as simple as building strength one way, and then you can just choose to use things differently. They do have to get very granular about where they want to build the tension in their body to make sure that fits the end goal.

Jayton Miller:
Okay. So what are some of the tips that you use for stress and fatigue management whenever it comes to an athlete?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, it would depend on where they're coming from, but I'm a big fan of that energetic perspective. And so nutrition is the first place I like to look. And to say that every stressor, to recognize that every stressor that you're faced with whether physical or mental is an energy demand for you. Whether that's physical and it's just the energy cost of locomotion or moving your body, or it's a problem that your brain is consuming energy to try to problem solve. And so usually, when someone starts to feel stressed, that's a sign that the energy demands on them are greater than the energy that your body is supplying at that moment. And knowing those concepts and then knowing for themselves one of the easiest ways you can reduce stress is just bump up the amount of energy that your body is making.

Nicholas Simpson:
And so sometimes that may just involve total calorie intake, or sometimes that's more managing their ability to turn calories into actual ATP or energy and more micronutrients involved with that. Like of simple E Complex goes a long way with a lot of people. And that's usually the first place I would start. And I think the ideal is that you make as much energy as possible and you do as much as possible. The easy thing to do which isn't necessarily wrong, but it's also just to say well reduce the amount of energy you're spending so we can do less training, and then your balance might be better. And you'll move forward more that way if you're in balance with less draining than if you're trying to do too much. And then you just tank yourself. But again, like if you can make more energy and do more with it, I like a financial analogy on that end too.

Nicholas Simpson:
But it's pretty important that your bank account is balanced, and that you're not losing money at the end of the month or whatever it may be. And so if you're making 1,000 and you're spending 1,100, that's a problem. And if you're making 10 million and you're spending 11 million, that's a problem too. As neither of those scenarios whether your income is high or low, it's important that the books are balanced at the end of the day, week, month, or whatever. But the balance is number one. But then that absolute number also makes a big difference. Like if you're making 1,000 and spending 900, you're in a positive balance there. But you have a lot less opportunity to do things with that money, or your money than if you were making 10 million and spending nine million. So the more energy you have running through the system is just more opportunity for you to do things with them.

Nicholas Simpson:
And so that's always goal and strategy number one for me, is let's maximize the income. And then as needed, we'll cut off some of the expenses and you can prioritize what is and what isn't important to your life and ideally cut out the less important ones for your goals before you're say cutting down training volume if you're an athlete or a person that has an athletic goal.

Jayton Miller:
Definitely. Have you experimented with different kinds of macronutrient ratios to see versus preparing for a training session versus throughout the day? Or just overall macronutrient composition that is typically more favorable?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, I mean I've played around with a lot of different things over the years, and I like to keep it fairly balanced in terms of the overall. When I'm tracking, it's probably more around like 30% protein, 20 to 25% fat and the rest carbs. I default a little bit more to the carb side, because that's where I've felt better. I do feel better if I go very low fat as well. My body loves running on carbs, but I do you find that my blood sugar is a little bit less stable if I do that. And so it's great when I can maintain it, and if I can be on top of my meals. But if I'm busy and I don't have those opportunities, then things derail more easily and it just becomes more of a net negative then.

Nicholas Simpson:
Similar lines for workouts, I don't really do anything special with that. And that's just in terms of the net balance of the energy and time I put into preparation. And I haven't really noticed much of a benefit from doing more fairly workout nutrition. So I just eat my normal meals, and I train and then I eat my normal meals. And that seems to work pretty well for me.

Jayton Miller:
Awesome. So do you think that at rest, one of the common ideas is that the muscles use the intramuscular triglycerides for energy? Do you think that someone could take advantage of that, and use their carbohydrates more around training?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, probably. I mean I think that's like I do like using that RP Diet app sometimes if I want to lean out, and I think they structured in that way into their software where it does supply more carbs around the training. But in terms of the magnitude of that effect, I think it's relatively small in comparison to just being consistent with your balance at the end of the day. So most people, I would say have so many consistency issues that they really just need to focus on that. And then not worry too much about the minutiae there, because they'll get more out of having nine out of 10 meals or just 90% consistency overall than they will be worrying about carbs around workouts. And then just a little bit of extra hassle if you're doing meal prep, try and know what's what and mix things around.

Nicholas Simpson:
But there might be a theoretical advantage to that. Again, people debate all the time about whether it's important whether you're burning fat at rest or at the workout, and adjusting your workouts for that in terms of fat loss and leanness. And in my experience, it just hasn't been as important as being on top of the overall balance. There might be an advantage. I know you have an interest in the hormonal environment around the workout. And so maybe just in terms of managing the stress a little bit more, I think if you're tapping into your energy a lot during your workout, you could probably make that workout less stressful by having more carbs around it. And then there's just less stress on your body the rest of the time so you can probably manage things better with more relaxed carbs, or more fat the rest of the time. And I would maybe come at it from that end.

Nicholas Simpson:
And I guess the importance of that too would probably matter how lean you are to begin with, and what the size of your deficit was. So an example with myself again, I've used all sorts of different ... I've played around with all sorts of different dieting strategies over the years. If I'm starting off at 16% body fat, it really doesn't matter ... nothing is very stressful to my body at that point because I have a lot of reserves like liver is probably full of glycogen, lots of fat stores, leptin is high. You're getting the signals that everything is okay. But when you're getting 10% and below, those alarm bells are going to be ringing a lot more readily. And the more those bells are sounding, the more likely it is that you're going to get thrown off your diet by cravings or wanting to binge or whatnot.

Nicholas Simpson:
And so that's probably where I'd say is that strategy becomes more helpful, and maybe timing things in that way where someone is just starting out, like don't worry about the extra hassle just be consistent. But now you're nine, 10% now we need to dial this in because the stakes are higher.

Jayton Miller:
Okay. So in terms of leanness and trying to achieve a certain physique, one of the recommendations that I typically tend to stick around is to not necessarily worry about getting around the 10% body fat range if someone is under the age of 25, because they still have a tremendous amount of growth potential that's there. What are some of your tips for somebody who is under that age that would still like to get lean, but without hurting the growth potential that's there?

Nicholas Simpson:
I'd say the best things would just be still take your time, don't do crash diets. Use very moderate deficits. And on that same token, if you're trying to bulk at some other time, not really going overboard with it so that you don't have a long way to come down from that if you put a lot of add on that process. So if you're ahead of things enough that are just barely reasonable with your excesses, then you'll never really have to worry about putting in too much of an excess deficit later on. The other tip would just be to still really focus on nutrient dense foods, especially I think there's probably a lot of things that people would attribute to calories that are maybe more related to the fact that certain nutrients are dropping when you're reducing your calorie intake. And you can probably mitigate some of the bad effects of a calorie deficit, just by making sure what you are eating is very high quality or using the right supplements when it's warranted.

Jayton Miller:
Definitely. So in terms of protecting the metabolic rate whenever you are on in the depth of it, one of the tips that I've seen is keeping calcium high to make sure calcium to phosphorus ratio is there. What are some of the other tips that you would give to make sure that you're protecting the metabolic rate during that time?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, I would say like the calcium is a good one. And I think it seems quackish when you say that a lot of our hormones are regulated by nutrients. A lot of people accept very readily like it's about how the regulation of calcium metabolism and vitamin D and parathyroid hormone, and the things along that axis. But then if you start suggesting other hormones are regulated by different nutrients, it just seems further out there. And there's not as much good acceptance of that, but I would say pretty much keeping every electrolyte high is going to be beneficial. So if your sodium as you suggested, like if your calcium intake drops, then parathyroid hormone and some other inflammatory things that are going to cause you to lose muscle will go up.

Nicholas Simpson:
If your sodium intake is too low, then that will have an effect on increasing aldosterone and prolactin, among other things. And that will again more inflammatory environment, less testosterone. Through the aldosterone, you'll start losing potassium and magnesium. Cells will become more excitable, and just more stressy and firing. In general, are not relaxed. And so keeping all of them high, sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium is a really underrated strategy to maintain muscle mass while dieting. I was trying to find this a while ago, but I recalled seeing a study where an electrolyte supplement prevented muscle loss in a bedrest type scenario, or a disuse atrophy type scenario. But I couldn't find it in my notes when I was looking for it later.

Nicholas Simpson:
But related to that is minerals like zinc. And that's one of the things I think is probably associated with the muscle building and anti-atrophy effects of protein in general. And that's one of the reasons why I much prefer real food to protein supplements, where there's other nutrients and minerals in meat such as zinc. But I think Chris Masterjohn has written some things about the regulation of zinc in the body, and how much it takes to build new muscle and how the probably muscle is the last thing the body would prioritize and really tries to maintain a steady zinc concentration in its cells. And so if you're moved to a lower calorie intake, and especially if the amount of zinc rich foods you're eating was low to begin with and you're not supplementing, your body is going to start to break down muscle in order to shift that zinc to the more priority areas.

Nicholas Simpson:
And that's one I think is probably conflated a little bit with overall protein intake where protein rich foods tend to have more zinc, and you could probably eat less protein and consume more zinc and more minerals and be okay. That's just my hunch. There's not really a lot of good evidence for that, but it's done all right for me and some clients.

Jayton Miller:
Definitely. Now whenever you're supplementing with zinc, do you also make sure to increase your copper intake as well to keep that ratio balanced?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, I do. And I actually think about two years ago, I was supplementing zinc regularly and just playing around with higher doses. And then I got just a viral illness, but when I had some blood work done I think my white cell count was very low which can be a common symptom of copper deficiency. Then I actually had my copper proteins, the ceruloplasmin and something else tested and they were low as well. So I think most zinc supplements are way overdosed to begin with, given that there are limits to how much we can absorb at once. So I try to stick to things that are lower dose to begin with, and just have that more often. If I think I need more, but then also to be on top of copper intake if I'm supplementing zinc.

Jayton Miller:
Okay.

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, it's unfortunate, there's not a lot of newer research on this, but there is more older research on all sorts of different nutrients interactions. And I do copper is the most well known one, but a lot of those minerals with the same charge use the same transporters. So I do wonder about things like manganese and magnesium and whatnot, if you're really just overloading one thing and not keeping tabs on the rest of those. Some people would get discouraged from trying at all and I don't think that's necessarily the answer either, because most diets certainly aren't balanced. So if you can afford it, for sure do testing. And if you can't or you don't want to do that, then you're left to trial and error.

Jayton Miller:
Okay. So outside of nutrition, what are some of the best recovery tips that you could give whenever somebody is wanting to come back to the gym as strong and powerful as possible?

Nicholas Simpson:
There's getting a good night's sleep. And if you're not sleeping well, trying to address the things that are leading up to that. And that for me that would usually relate to light exposure and to nutritional things again. And then the other one would be just being on top of myofascial release, because recognizing in power is just describing our rate of energy transfer. And so most people are thinking about the size of the engine, but if you realize that elastic quality is going to play a big part in that, then making sure that you're not going into your next session with a lot of the wrong tension that's going to prevent you from using that. That if you do that, that will allow you to express power better. I'm a fan of some of the red light research and the photobiomodulation.

Nicholas Simpson:
But there's a lot of big question marks there too for me right now about optimal dose and amount. And I just don't have that nailed down enough yet to be confident that it would be worthwhile investment for most people outside of maybe buying some cheap chicken lamps, and keeping warm. I do think that that can be an underrated thing is checking your temperature and pulse, or HRV if you have tools for that. And starting to recognize the things outside of training that send those variables in the wrong direction, and then training when you're ready.

Jayton Miller:
Okay. I actually saw study in terms of photobiomodulation. Whenever they used LLLT, they actually were contemplating whether or not they should have it banned from professional sports because it was so powerful that it could actually be used as a performance enhancing drug.

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah, I mean I'd have to read that. I'd want to read that specific one. But I know there were some which sprinter exactly, maybe it was Tyson Gay. But there's that Thor device which is basically the tanning bed full of the red lasers, and I think they were using that prior to the Olympics. But I mean on some of the animal research like [inaudible 01:10:07] ramp up metabolism too much you can start to cause some oxidative stress. And your system might not be ready for that to the point where it might be detrimental. And I think a good place where we could probably get some more insight from that is looking at plant research. And I've done a little bit of that, but I haven't really delved too much into it. But I actually bought an LED setup that's more for growing plants. I bought it a while ago when the human devices were just way more expensive, and they provided less than the ones you could just get as a grow light.

Nicholas Simpson:
But one of the nice things too that it doesn't just have the red lights, but it's got the infrared and UV and blue. And so you can adjust that all with their remote depending on what effect you might be trying to get after. But they have some instructions in there like if you have a young seedling and you run this thing at full power, you're going to kill it. So if it's a young plant not used to the light exposure, you start at like 20% red, 10% blue. And then that will match where that organism is at and allow it to survive. And then as it gets adapted to the light exposure, you ramp it up. And I imagine there's something similar for humans. And there would be similar things for UV light exposure in terms of getting a tan, and being able to tolerate more. But we're long way there from the research right now. And I think even the same things would apply for red light, where it's just not going to be universally beneficial at every intensity and duration.

Jayton Miller:
Yeah. So for some of the listeners that want to take a deep dive into some of the principles that you talk about, what are some resources that you recommend?

Nicholas Simpson:
I would say the very first place is just the Anatomy Trains book, and understanding normal "muscle function" too, but what muscles are and what are the typical actions. But then layering that on top of a knowledge of how those chains tend to work. And then definitely, I've found a lot of value from digging into the functional pattern stuff. And it was just this year that I did their human foundation's course. But I mean I was like a lot of people were, I was exposed a few years ago when I was heavy into weightlifting and powerlifting, and just disregarded it because of the way [inaudible 01:13:18] was talking. And basically saying like, "You're stupid if you're doing this."

Nicholas Simpson:
And then I didn't understand at the time how some of the pendulum stuff was where it seemed like you're using momentum, and you're not developing the engines. I didn't understand how that was going to be beneficial. But again, as I shifted my framework and I was more ready for that information later, I can definitely see his perspective on things. And then I think David Weck and [inaudible 01:13:55] have some interesting perspectives on movement as well that are worth looking into. And those would probably be the top ones that I would suggest right now.

Jayton Miller:
Heck, yeah. Where can people find your work and see some of the stuff that you're doing?

Nicholas Simpson:
Yeah. So probably the most frequently updated right now is just my Instagram page @nicholassimpson_fit. I do have some websites that it's just a bit of a placeholder now. My personal page is more just for people to see what I'm up to. And then things on the client side or at vital strength physiology on their Instagram. And then up to fate is with pH as where I like to share research and ideas around energy metabolism. So there's an Instagram for that and a Twitter, where I just share some of the research that I'm reading or skimming.

Jayton Miller:
Heck yeah. Well, thanks for watching. If any of you all have not looked into Nick's work, it is really cool. He has a great Instagram, so go check him out. And if you're not in the Facebook group yet, make sure to get in there.

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