Pavel Tsatsouline on the Science of Strength and the Art of Physical Performance (#55)

Tim Ferriss and Pavel Tsatsouline on Strength

This episode was a real treat. It was one of the most enlightening and lucid conversations about physical training I’ve ever had.  If you want strength, power, endurance, and flexibility, it’s all covered in this one interview.

[UPDATE: Pavel also answered your 15 most popular questions in a follow-up episode, now below]

Pavel Tsatsouline is Chairman of StrongFirst, Inc. and was born in Minsk, USSR, which is now part of Belarus.

In the 1980s, he was a physical-training instructor for Spetnaz, the elite Soviet special-forces units. Pavel is now a subject matter expert to the US Marine Corps, the US Secret Service, and the US Navy SEALs. He is widely credited with introducing the now ubiquitous kettlebell to the United States.

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Ep 55: The Science of Strength and Simplicity with Pavel Tsatsouline
Ep 57: Pavel Tsatsouline Answers Your 15 Most Popular Exercise Questions

Over the last several years, Pavel has become a friend, and his input was critical to the success (and experiments) of The 4-Hour Body.  His massively popular post on 80/20 Powerlifting and How to Add 110+ Pounds to Your Lifts appears on this blog.

Whether you’ve heard of him or not, prepare to have your mind blown, and I don’t say that lightly 🙂  Enjoy!

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What’s the most valuable exercise tip you’ve ever received or learned? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


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Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • How Pavel and Tim first came in contact [1:00]
  • How others define Pavel as “world-class” [2:00]
  • Considerations for designing training for top performers [5:00]
  • The biggest misconceptions about Pavel Tsatsouline [11:25]
  • When in doubt, what’s the minimum you should train? [18:00]
  • How to train “grease to groove” [21:15]
  • Approaching training as a practice [35:45]
  • Prioritizing skills that lead to strength [39:20]
  • The most counter-productive myths about strength training [42:20]
  • Pavel’s hypothesis for the science behind hypertrophy [48:30]
  • What is preventing new powerlifting records? [1:02:00]
  • Deadlifts, kettlebells, and the most common mistakes with both [1:10:00]
  • Morning rituals [1:13:50]
  • Most frequently played music [1:16:50]
  • Pavel’s writing mechanics [1:18:05]
  • Current professional improvement endeavors [1:21:30]
  • Mobility, flexibility, and the goal of full side splits [1:22:45]
  • On the malfunction of over-sharing [1:39:00]
  • What Americans can learn from former Soviet culture [1:40:20]
  • Mitigating distractions [1:48:40]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with over 400 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

199 Replies to “Pavel Tsatsouline on the Science of Strength and the Art of Physical Performance (#55)”

  1. Loved this interview, Tim. As a guy who isn’t as young as he used to be, I’d interested to hear about any techniques to prevent joint injury while strength training.

      1. Gentlemen, I would get a rumble roller and roll on it as you would if someone was massaging any areas of the body that feel “beat up”. Roll on your back, thighs, hamstrings, lats, glutes and calves. Dedicate 10 minutes a day to this and you will feel better every day!

    1. Hi Kyle,

      While Pavel’s Super Joints and Relax into stretch are both very good for joint health and performance enhancing well being, my modality of choice for an integrated approach taking care of both strength and the joints is Gymnastic Bodies by coach Summers.

      If you recognize that the the remodeling time for ligaments are an order of magnitude longer than for muscle tissue and apply the required patience you can do very well with Pavel’s Super Joints.

      I’m not a coach or anything, just a dude trying to fix my own mistreated body.

    2. I am 50 and wish I’d learned about “exterior rotation” of the shoulders before lifting. It would have saved me from several injuries and much down-time! Check out the work of Kelly Starrett, found on Tim’s blog and on Youtube for more tips. Thanks for providing readers with such useful subject matter, Tim.

    3. Also, by God, get yourself a lacrosse ball! My new best friend. For how to use it again check out Physiotherapist Kelly Starrett here and on Youtube. Unbelievable how much it helps. “Un-gluing” the tissues has helped me feel 20 years more flexible and fluid.

    4. Personally i dropped the iron and have started Gymnastics Bodies Foundation one (Coach Sommer). Best thing I’ve done for my joints. It prepares and strengtheners the joints and i added muscle and strength. I’ve got rid of several issues that had been nagging me from weight training. I’d check out Chris Sommers interview on this website. Honestly cant recommend it enough. I’ve no affiliation BTW.

      With respect to the comment about the rumble roller, that’s treating symptoms and not necessarily addressing the cause.

      As always, Pavel blows the mind with his knowledge. Great interview.

  2. Pavel! I am so happy you posted this. Have been a massive fan for ages and he actually got me and 3 of my mates into kettlebells at uni. He also has several awesome catch phrases in his videos.

  3. The most valuable thing I’ve learned is from the great man himself: essentially, “tight abs.” And related to this, strength as a technique/skill that you practice to perfection. Cheers Comrade!!

  4. HKC Instructor Training (completed this myself years ago) and RKC techniques are solid. I do have to say, though, that WKC needs its due. Take one look at any video of Ivan Denisov and you get the feeling Pavel and his disciples should take some notes.

  5. You asked brilliant questions. It was great to reconnect with Pavel’s clarity and knowledge. If you two had short, regular show, I’d tune in.

  6. Instructor with (max) 19 years? He was born in 1969 and was instructor in 80ts…

    He is wery good in flexybility things, I can confirm from my expirience.

  7. This reminds me of what Johnny English said in the movie, “Mind must be master of the body.” This is quite amusing. Learning how much your body can do is really beneficial. Although toning the body might come with risks but if you get the proper training and proper advice, you can expect great results!

    Thanks for this lovely post! Very much informative and I enjoyed it.

  8. This is a simple tip from an exercise novice. I was never able to walk/jog/bike for more than 5 minutes. This was true for any type of cardio. I wasn’t quitting from pain or exhaustion, I was just bored.

    The simple trick I use is listening to podcasts or audiobooks that are captivating. It is the only thing I have found that keeps my attention away from the cardio so I can exercise for 30-45 minutes at a time.

  9. Wow. This is one of the best! So eye opening. I cannot wait to try some of these protocols. I am so addicted to this podcast.

    Thank you for all you do

  10. Confession – when I saw this episode, my first thought was, “Someone needs to tell Mr. Four-Hour-Work-Week that a two-hour podcast is way too long.” 😉 Then I started listening and was completely enthralled. I was actually in the gym lifting weights while listening to the podcast, so I had the fun of trying out some of the strategies right away. Wow! Totally looking forward to applying the protocols he described and continuing to increase my strength and muscle. Thank you for this fascinating introduction to Pavel and his methods.

    1. Dmitriy, one way is with heavy duty grippers (Captains of Crush, The simplest approach to training is “greasing the groove”: doing half the reps you are capable of throughout the day every day with 15-30min of rest between sets.

  11. Actually, the #1 exercise tip I’ve ever gotten originated from Pavel. From his “Grease the Groove” article, to be exact.

    The tip basically says that limited and frequent training of your nervous system can make you much stronger much faster than just lifting weights to failure.

    I used it to go from 1 wobbly pistol squat to 15, and from 3 shaky partial pull-ups to 12 super-strict dead-hangs in about 1.5 months. Pavel rocks.

    1. Beyond Bodybuilding, Deadlift Dynamite and Power to the People Professional – excellent powerlifting and strength training resources (note: not Olympic weightlifting).

  12. Very seldom do I get to listen to two of the only guys in the game combining superb knowledge of the body with superb marketing knowledge.

    Pavel’s comments on the old-time lifters, decades-old world records, and sumo deadlifts tells you half of what you need to know. For the other half? Well let’s just say that after making a living telling people how to increase athleticism, 4HBody wrecked me.

    Big thanks again from all of us out here working to get our friends unscared of working out again.

  13. Tim, this was your best interview yet.

    Better than the one with Tony Robbins, and others.


    Because Pavel’s thinking is so unlike what we normally encounter.

    And the peculiarities, the traits you can admire in him, do transfer to so many other areas.

    He’s a model not just for strength training, but also clarity of thinking.

    I’m definitely going to apply his “grease the groove”-approach to my strength regimen.

    Most valuable exercise tip:

    Do as little as necessary, not as much as possible.

    Exceeding the minimal effective dose in exercise will only be counterproductive.

  14. Great interview! This guy is obviously not only a Stud but a very smart and stoic Man. You can tell he doesn’t like to waste his time or words.

  15. That was a great interview, hope we can hear more from Pavel in future episodes. I would especially like to hear more specifics on how soldiers should train to become more resilient.

  16. Just an outstanding interview.

    This is one that will be listened to many times over and if there ever was a podcast that needs a transcript, this is the one.

    Thanks Tim!

  17. What a great podcast! Thank you. Best tip from Pavel was about building strength. As a 60 something female who seriously still lifts weights, it was also great to hear Pavel’s stories about his dad and others who are kicking it and staying young by lifting. Definitely will work with his strength protocol (can’t quite do an unassisted pull up yet-but close!) to keep improving. Keep up the great podcasts. They are the best out there!

  18. Great Interview Tim. It was great to have you further cherry pick the most essential of the great works of Pavel in health and fitness.

    Great clarity and simplicity in delivering complex matters. Thank you Pavel.

    I have got a few request:

    Dr Mark Cheng

    Gray Cook

    Dan John

    Andy Bolton

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb

    Thank you for the interview!

  19. “Kettlebells every day”?

    WARNING: I do not not if the below questions is based on bro science or not. Just would like an answer =)


    In the gym world, it is common to rest muscle groups between days. To me it seems that many basic kettlebells exercises (swing, clean, jerk) utilize the same muscle groups, especially shoulders and back. Is it still OK to do kettlebells exercise everyday? If yes, why do many gym program include rest muscle groups between days?

    1. Peter, as there are many possible adaptations, there are many ways to get stronger. Some legit training systems allow days of rest for a given lift or muscle group; others don’t. The important thing is not to take some maxim from one system and apply it indiscriminately to another. E.g., after a powerlifting competition, Russians go back to the gym the next day. Americans following the 1980s template of Coan, Gallagher, and others take a few weeks off. who is right?—In the context of their systems both are. The more frequently you train, the faster you detrain and vice versa. Russians squat 4 times a week; Americans once. The former have to get back to the gym; the latter can afford to relax.

  20. I spend most of my working day at a PC keyboard (Goldtouch adjustable). To give my hands some variety I toss around a Koosh ball or a small six-pound weighted ball. After listening to this interview I ordered a Captains of Crush gripper to add to my desktop gym.

    1. Charlie, make sure to stand up and crush the gripper with total focus; do not just mindlessly pump out reps at your desk.

      A powerful technique is “overcrush”: squeeze much harder than necessary to shut it and keep squeezing for a couple of seconds.

      1. Thanks for coaching. I practice good form before increasing intensity. Luckily I bought a gripper model that I can close, but three to five reps are VERY HARD. I can develop form while still crushing. I’ll try to overcrush. Also, I warm up with easy motions and lighter weights before using the gripper. Thanks again.

  21. Awesome interview! Tim, I have a bit of constructive feedback for you here.

    Quite often when somebody’s done speaking, you’ll response will begin with “No, I…” – kind of an autopilot segue into your thoughts.

    To me, the “No” kind of sounds like your’e negating what they said, even though you’re often agreeing with them. Maybe change it to “yeah” or “right” or “interesting”…? Just thinking about how I’d feel if I’ve been asked a question, given a detailed answer and the first word the interviewer replies with is “No”… it feels a bit off. Like, one of those things that breaks rapport, even though you don’t mean to.

    Anyway, thanks so much for such amazing content and interviews. Just a little bit of constructive feedback, as mentioned. Please keep up the amazing work, I’m really grateful for the value you’re putting out here 🙂

  22. As a 38 year old that played college sports and has been lifting pretty intensely since age 20, i’ve been shocked to see the negative impacts of my IT corporate job.

    I went from being able to squat 350 pounds to now having such issue with hip flexibility and strength, that I’m not sure I could squat 135 without a lot of pain.

    Do you have any good suggestions for rebuilding hip and lower back strength and flexibility? I believe these are my 2 biggest issues with building my leg strength back.

    I also related to the pull up issue. As a 6’6 255 pound dude that works out quite a bit, I have never been able to rip off 10-15 strict form pullups. I’m hoping some of this knowledge will help me get there this year.

    1. Steve, the first step is to see a physician—one who is a lifter and preferably SFMA certified (through Gray Cook’s organization FMS). Once you know your limitations and restrictions, my company StrongFirst has a curriculum to help you.

      As for pullups, first bring your abs and body tightness up to speed (search “hollow position” and “hollow rock”). Then use the GTG or “grease the groove” method.

  23. I have two specific questions for Pavel.

    1) You recommend avoiding the burn and not going to failure to optimize strength. This makes sense. But in most sports, athletes claim mental toughness is as important as physical strength or skill; being able to focus and perform well even when you’re exhausted and hurting. If you never push yourself to that extreme point of exhaustion and pain, how can you build up your mental game to win tough games, matches, and races?

    2) In regards to flexibility and stretching, I’ve always heard static stretching cold muscles is bad. You talked about patience, relaxation, and breathing, and holding positions for a long period of time. Is this safe to do on cold muscles? Is it more effective at the end of a workout?

    1. HT, regarding your first question, there are plenty of methods for developing toughness. If you do it with strength training, your strength will be compromised. A lot of problems arise from the mentality of “more reps” as the answer to every question.

      Regarding your second question, do your static stretching after training or in the evening before bed.

      1. Are there any noteworthy methods the Russians use in particular? Russian wrestlers are notorious for their strength and toughness. Do you by any chance know any blogs/articles (in English) by Russian wrestlers?

      2. Hey Pavel, what is you take on routines like Starting Strength or Strong Lifts? Basically 5×5 of the Squat, Bench, and Deadlift.

        And how do you progress (add more weight) without feeling fatigue or the burn?


  24. Tim, Pavel, really great podcast thanks for sharing the knowledge. Although i was really hoping you guys where going to get back on the topic of nutrition and Pavel’s tips. I was really curious to hear his straight up approach, is this covered in any of Pavel’s books?

  25. A truly remarkable interview you done with Pavel! Having attended Pavel’s workshops/seminars, I can say his stuff works like magic. Looking forward to more interviews such as this.

  26. I can listen to Pavel talk training anytime! I truly always wanted to hear more of his “life wisdom” and I knew you would deliver, Tim, thank you. Pavel has been one of my biggest influences and educators in training, this was great. Thanks to Pavel for his time as well, that means a lot to me!

  27. Wow, wow, wow!!

    The best podcast yet!

    As a long term fan of Pavel’s work and indeed yours this was a treat.

    Fantastic interview. Pavel really has dropped so much knowledge here that can save us many years of frustration.

    I’ve filled 3 pages with notes just listening first time round!

    Great stuff!

  28. Tim, you had started to ask Pavel a question about his tips/tactics for getting enough food into his body each day to gain muscle, without the need for constant eating, but you guys didn’t circle back around to the question. I’d love to hear some of Pavel’s ideas on this topic, if he can reply here on the blog. Fantastic interview. Very instructional.

  29. Thank you Tim and Pavel. This is the type of material I really enjoy studying.

    Pavel – I compete in weightlifting as a hobby and would love to be able to apply these principles to my programming. As of yet, I have not seen a successful adaptation of this material for lifters who live in the West and have 40 hour per week jobs, etc. I won’t be able to make the seminar this year but if you end up writing a book that deconstructs the principles and puts them together in a simplified approach, I would definitely purchase it. I have not been able to put all of the pieces together. I won’t be going to the Olympics but I would still love to increase my results and train in a smarter, safer manner.

    Thanks again gentlemen,


  30. Anyway we could get Pavel’s tips on eating more? I think that point got lost in the shuffle. Overall, very informative, great interview.

  31. I work with some folks from Minsk and can attest, while they speak English well, they do not speak flawless English with an accent closer to Tim’s than a Soviet from the Spetnaz! So I think this is an example of Pavel’s focus on the details. Anyway another very interesting interview, especially the empirical rather than theoretical strategy of the Soviet weightlifting team. East meets West. On “training/practice” vs. workout, I recall, with difficulty, trying to match the pace of a 75+ year old in a 54K ski race. Skiers who have completed this race (American Birkebeiner) can be identified by a special purple jersey, earned with 20 plus races. I asked him how he trained. “I don’t train, I SKI!” he bellowed back. Awesome. Finally, a point about the high sets – I first read of this technique in Richard Roll’s book. As a competitive swimmer, he used to practice to exhaustion, till he was at the point of vomiting. I see TIm has already had a guest post, but it would be fun to have Richard (or Scott Jurek) on a future podcast, especially his thoughts on nutrition. More empirical studies!

  32. Great show Pavel and Tim, thank you!

    One question that I was hoping the conversation would come back to was Pavel’s eating tips. As with Tim, I struggle to consume enough calories to gain signifigant weight. Pavel alluded to some tips and I’d love to hear them if you get a chance.

    Thanks again!

    1. Will, the tactic a number of top lifters who had a hard time moving up a weight class use is having some handy protein snack by the bed and consuming it in the middle of the night. Not the healthiest tactic, but one that works.

  33. Wow. One of the most eye-opening interviews I have ever heard regarding strength, training–the full gamut of physical health. Thank you for this. The only bummer was: you guys never circled back to your question regarding the burden of having to eat a lot to gain size, and his tricks for dealing with that.

  34. Excellent show! Looking back at times I have been in my best shape, I can correlate much of what Pavel teaches with what I was stumbling on accidentally. Frankly, I got in best shape when I enjoyed training and wasn’t killing myself. Pavel often mentions the destructive action of the Hydrogen ions left in the muscle tissue during a workout but sort of dismisses lactic acid as a cause of cellular destruction. Aren’t the Hydrogen ions likely present from a combination of the acid and muscle tissue? I’m not a chemist or biologist, just thought that hydrogen ions were released during reactions with acids. I remember a chemistry teacher trapping the gas from a reaction of acid and something in a balloon and lighting it once. I also thought all acids start with H2…

  35. Tim – loved the show! Any chance we could have a round up of the exercises Pavel speaks about during the podcast. There were a few (e.g. plank for a few seconds fully tense below the neck) sprinkled throughout…

    1. Also, I’ve checked amazon bookstore for Pavels books and there are quite a lot. Is one recommended as a good starting point for strength in particular – the reviews are unclear.

    2. Naked Warrior is brilliant. It brings together a lot of Pavel’s best ideas and applies them to heavy duty pistol squats and one arm one leg push ups. Brutal exercises deconstructed with the Grease the Groove method and the tension and irradiation techniques that Pavel touched on in the podcast.

  36. Love the podcast. Any chance you could address coffee vs no coffee please? It’s a pretty fundamental drug, is powerful and is used by almost everyone. Thanks.

  37. Hey Tim,

    Three quick suggestions I wanted to make for the podcast:

    As guests you could try to get more fiction writers on. One that would be illuminating is Patrick Rothfuss. I believe you mentioned loving “The Name of the Wind” a while back and he seems like somewhat of a renaissance man who’s had an interesting path to success.

    Tucker Max and Charlie Hoehn are both friends of yours, or have at least written posts on your blog, so I’m sure you’ve already asked them, but here’s another vote in their favour.

    As an additional question for the podcast you could ask what their most urgent or unexpected item on their bucket list is. Hell, I think most listeners would like to know what’s still on your bucket list.

    I’m travelling right now so forgive me if you’ve already covered some of these in more recent episodes as WiFi access has been limited.



  38. Hey Tim, love your stuff. Not a hater at all, just wanted to offer some feed back… you ask an awful lot of your guests if they remember how you and they first came into contact. It comes across to me as you’re either extremely forgetful, or a bit arrogant. Neither of which I imagine you would consider to be ideal. Can you really NOT remember? Cheers, from Adelaide, Australia

  39. Have not heard the interview yet, but took a hands-on class in physical training with Pavel about 20 years ago, long before he was a household name. He was already cutting-edge (and thoroughly unique) back then! (He just wasn’t famous…yet.) Look forward to listening.

  40. First off fantastic interview/podcast episode! Tons of (almost overwhelming) amount of information and action steps; I was writing notes like crazy

    Second, it appears some of the links in the show notes are not working properly: the links for “Easy Strength” & “HardStyle Abs” go to an amazon page that bring up the “Deadlift Dynamite” ebook. Where can I find these two books in addition to “Deadlift Dynamite”? [Moderator: link removed]

    This episode had impeccable timing for me as I have been reviewing the 4HB and other sources to layout the most effective workout routine for strength/performance over the next 60-90 days. Thanks Tim and Pavel!



  41. Awesome interview and thank you Pavel for being here. I’ve listened twice, it’s thick with good ideas.

    Lifelong competitive athlete in late-20’s here: Best training advice I’ve received is about consistency. Consistency is king. Tomorrow’s training is as important as today’s training, so find a way to be sustainable in your efforts. Maybe that means mix it up or do Simple and Sinister or whatever, but the habit of training is so valuable.

  42. Dear Pavel and Tim,

    Thanks for this great interview. As a sport scientist, I found this a real treat.

    Pavel, a question:

    I’d like to summarize the type I muscle fiber training protocol you described. Could you please tell me if this is correct?


    – Objective: constant tension for occlusion

    – You should feel “the burn”

    – Day 1: 4-9 sets

    – 30-60 sec duration per set

    – 5-10 minutes active rest between sets (training other muscle groups during rest is OK)

    – Day 2 (3-4 days later): 1-3 sets

    Sample exercices:

    – Back squat: a little below parallel, a little above parallel, slow tempo

    – Front squat

    – Diamond push-up midrange (no lockout, no bottom) (adjust elevation so your sets last 30-60 sec)

    – Rowing machine midrange

    – Curls

    Weight used:

    – 30-60% of 1 RM for lower body exercices

    – 10-40% 1 RM for upper body exercices


    – Sprinters improved their 100 m time from 10.9 s to 10.7 sec with this protocol

    – Other high level athletes increased their back squat 25% in 8 weeks

    * * *

    Well, that was a longer write-up than I expected. Pavel, if you answer this: thanks very much for your time.


      1. Thanks!

        I’ve started this training protocol today for bench and back squat. I compete in powerlifting.

        This is very different from my usual training (more or less “Westside”). I plan to follow this protocol 3 week, take 5 days off, and retest my 1 RM. I’ll report on my results here.



  43. Another great interview! So often I look at the subject of your podcast and think “do I really care about this?” and after I listen, without fail, I think “man, that was awesome!” You would think I’d just stop thinking and listen. Someday I’ll learn.

  44. Thank you, Tim, for this interview! I was superexcited about it because Pavel and his simple&sinister approach made me a better woman.

    For those who wanted a visual: here’s a video of the russian bench press champion Vladimir Kravtsov doing Seluyanov-style squats with a band: (there are unfortunately no English subs but you can clearly see what he’s doing and how he’s feeling about it)

    He claims this is the only leg work he does and it’s brutal (“Hellish hell”).

  45. Best interview yet. So full of good info, it’s really just…amazing. Thanks for a wealth of immediately applicable tips. I have been aware of Pavel for quite a while, but somehow never bought any of his materials. That will change immediately.

    The only complaint I have is that you guys never did get to the tips and tricks that make eating more easier. For us ectomorphs, that’s the most important thing of all! (Oh, and I do request a Part Two as soon as you both feel up to it.)

  46. As a guy who, like you, Tim, is into both languages and fitness, I have to say that it sounds an awful lot like Pavel pronounces it “SpetZnaz”, not “Spetnaz” like you say in the intro. 😉

  47. Max Plank? I think you mean Max Shank. I notice Pavel didn’t correct you. Probably because Shank didn’t migrate to StrongFirst with him.

  48. Which book or resource would you recommend for a parkour or free runner. Right now I’m doing a lot of explosive circuit training but after this podcast i’m wondering if I’m needlessly burning the tank.

  49. Does anyone know/remember the ‘expensive’ supplement drink that Tim recommended on a recent Podcast? I can’t remember it or find a reference to it on this blog. I wanted to give it a shot.

  50. Regarding difficulty of eating more, I don’t know if either man has much experience with size gain. They’ve both been relatively small their entire lives. And Pavel makes a strong implied point: who cares how big you are; just get stronger. Do you want to deadlift 500 at 150 or 400 at 250? If you’re hellbent on size, John Kiefer, who would make a great guest, is a good starting point. Eating all day is a wasted effort for ectomorphs especially.

  51. For me it was learning the 5/3/1 method since those exercises translate to running the best. Listening to this podcast really got me interested in improving my flexibility in addition to my strength.

  52. Hi Tim, I enjoyed listening to you on the Webinar with Podcasters Paradise the other day. Thanks for the great info.

    Just listened to this podcast with Pavel. Very informative. I can’t wait to read more. One of my goals this year is to get to my goal weight of 185 pounds by July 31, 2015. I’ve headed back to the gym and have been doing mostly cardio and it takes a lot of time to burn the calories I need to burn. I am working on launching my podcast – Goal Getting Podcast and need as much time as I can spare right now to get it ready for launch in February.

    Looking to learn ways to burn the calories in less time.

    Thanks, Tim. Let me know when you are in SF and have time to grab a cup of coffee, or tea in your case, these days.


  53. Thanks, Tim! One of my absolute favorite podcasts 🙂 I’m a big fan of kettlebells, Pavel inspires a lot.

    Greetings from Switzerland.

    Павелу огромное спасибо! 🙂

  54. Hi, Tim! This episode blew me away, as I have worked on strength more than actually building size in the past year. (Strength seems more functional than size, after all.) I’ve listened to this episode five times already.

    Please, interview Ido Portal, if you get the chance. You may find your interaction as lucid and enlightening as your conversation with Pavel.

  55. This episode was awesome. Pavel is totally legit, really knows his stuff and shared some awesome tips. Normally I’m all over the more businessy episodes, but this one was probably my favourite!

  56. Right before minute 51 in the podcast, Pavel mentions that he would discuss some ideas/tricks for tackling the increased eating needed for gaining mass. I believe the discussion then went into the different theories of hypertrophy, and I’m unable to find another spot in the podcast that talks about these eating tips/tricks. Did I miss it somewhere?

  57. After listening to the Podcast switched my workout to Pavel’s Kettlebell recommendation, today I measured my body fat and lost more fat than the previous weeks combined. Thanks Tim and Pavel.

  58. Dear Pavel and Tim,

    This is by far one of the best podcasts ever. Hats down to you good sirs!

    I am sorry to write you this late, even after the 2nd podcast.

    Could you please spell out correctly the name of the guy Pavel mentioned in the context of slow muscle fibers training? Siluanov?

    And is that training done in two trainings 4 days apart? What about day 3 of training? Do we cycle 4-9 and 1-3 sets every 4 days? Is there a limit how often we should do that protocol?

    Thank you in advance for your answers.

    Aleksandar Š.

      1. Thank you very much for your time Pavel sir. I appreciate a lot your answer. (I’m a really big fan of yours, and your work has been a big inspiration in my life)

  59. You have outdone yourself again Tim. Pavel is a legend in the field of strength and conditioning. His books have helped me immeasurably, and despite having a good understanding of his methods, these two interviews taught me a hell of a lot (especially in being able to crank out multiple pistol squats and pull ups).

  60. Hi Tim, Why dont you do a podcast on Parenting. How to shape up kids and bringing them up to become successful and happy individuals. I feel you could contribute to shaping up millions by interviewing experts in Parenting. I am very sure there is a science behind it.

  61. Good podcast. However I tried to perform pavel’s all body plank contractions after kettlebells this morning. I perform 3x 10 second sets, tensing everything but my head (though my face was unavoidably a little tense). Then I looked in the mirror and my eyes were blood shot, my left eye was really bloodshot like I had been rubbing it.

    It’s put me off squeezing my mid section that hard. Should I be concerned?

  62. This was one of my favorite podcast episodes. Pavel speaks with a straightforward simplicity that I appreciate as a fitness student and admire as a writer.

  63. Pavel has mentioned professor Siliyanov (not sure about the spelling here). I tried googling both in English and Russian but found nothing. Is there a specific book or paper that outlines his work?

  64. Anyone know the spelling the of exercise he mentions on Q&A talk at around time [6:05] — was it “gallop squat”? — anyone know where I can find video instruction? Thanks

  65. Into the 80/20 rule, I’ve been doing a 5 min circuit training every other day, 20 swings, 20 hip thrusts, 20 swings, 20flying dogs, 20 swings, 20 push-ups. Pavel said his 80/20 would be single handed swings, goblet squats, and Turkish get ups. Is he saying doing them in 5 sets each of 5 reps with a few minuets between sets? I need my work out done fast as I don’t have an hour to work out and the 5 minute this works great for me. Can I compress this into a fast workout and still get results?

  66. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. Having studied exercise physiology and resistance training, it’s awesome to get a true expert’s insight. He keeps it simple and old school, which is the way it should be. Would it be possible to do an episode with John Berardi? He is a leader in the sport nutrition world and I am a follower of his practices. He started the company, Precision Nutrition. He is full of knowledge about exercise physiology, nutrition, and the human body as a whole. I would also like to get to know his business strategies and how he got started.

    Great podcasts, I listen to one a day!

  67. Great interview

    I was wondering about when applying strength training to exel in sports like soccer wich require alot of power and acceleration and changing of direction. So what would you do when training to increase acceleration for the 0-20 meters and just becoming more explosive?

    What exersices would you focus on, sets, reps, frequency etc ?

    Means the world

    1. Karl, first you need to get strong. Acceleration, deceleration, etc. are added later. Prof. Matveev called strength the foundational quality of all physical qualities upon which the rest are built.

  68. Tim, I think you should invite Alex Guerrero, the “body coach” of Tom Brady on your forecast. After reading this piece on the nytimes (, it sounds like he has a thing or two to share on the long game and staying at peak performance in later years…

    This was a great episode with really interesting content as always. Loved how clearly and precisely Pavel expresses himself.

    Keep it up, you deserve all the success enjoy.

  69. Tim, Pavel,

    1) In Tim’s famous Geek to Freak article he used a very specific technique to gain muscle mass in a short time. Around the 50minute mark of the podcast you discuss hypertrophy. Would these methods be similarly or more effective than what Tim found?

    2) Curious in how the techniques Pavel explains compare to the 5×5 method made famous by Rego Park in the 60s (now packaged at It is a low rep, no failure, constantly increasing weight program which seems to be very successful so curious what you guys think about it.

  70. Tim was making a comment around 1:53:14 that went somerging like, “I also encourage everyone to think about how they can create their own choice mimimal lifestyle so you can preserve your creativity and unique abilities…” Pavel started to say something and the end of the sentance can quite be heard. What was the rest? Great topic for a podcast!!!

  71. Just read the recommended Psych from the second part of this interview. Bitterly disappointed – I didn’t think phrases like “[insert idea] is harder to find than a $5 hooker on Sunset Boulevard” are a very credible way to introduce sports psychology (or any topic really) to the general public – the author seemed to be unsure as to whether he was writing a text for students (who he kept insulting anyway), serious athletes, meatheads, weightlifters or teenage boys, or whether he was going stream of consciousness, and then add in the numerous editing errors (spelling, grammar, order of chapters not matching the commentary in the text etc.) and this just seems to me to be a very poor recommendation, as well as seeming about 25 years out of date in its advice. Lucky has a refund option on their e-books. Incidentally, just a comment Tim – there does seem to be a lot of “new book out now” type interviews lately which is starting to feel more like a Daily Show approach than a focus on top performance. Just saying…

    1. Elliot, I agree that the $5 line does not have the best choice of of words but stand by the book. Incidentally, the 1980s is the golden age for both powerlifting and weightlifting with many records still standing. when new research allows lifters to leave the performances in the dust, then it would be worth considering.

      1. Thanks Pavel, I appreciate you responding to the comment and I certainly take your point about the ’80s – you certainly mentioned that a few times through the interview too.

  72. The short Q&A a week of two after is such a great concept – really encourages listening “on time” and a sense of two-way communication. Tim are you (definitely) thinking of making this a regular thing?

  73. Tim and Respected Audience. I´m from Medellin, Colombia (South America). 42 Years old and 4Hour Body practitioner since Nov 2011 (Before 80 Kg 30% Body Fat, Today 69 Kg 18% Body Fat). I´m enjoying Pavel´s new book: Kettlebell Simple and Sinister. Pavel is a practical guy in both writing and in podcasts: great links and good advice. The Turkish Get-Up really work and I feel and see my new strength. I walk, ride my mountain bike and swim over 2,500 Mt over sea level and hardly get tired. Great Job Pavel and Thanks Tim for having him in the show.

  74. So glad I finally listened to this, it’s great, up there on the Mount Rushmore of Tim’s best podcasts.

    So Peter Attia didn’t eat breakfast, Pavel didn’t either. Is breakfast a bad thing now?

  75. Wow, this is one of the most informative podcasts I’ve ever listened to–when I was finally done listening, I had about 6 or 7 new tabs open of stuff that’d I’d Googled after hearing you guys talk about it. Great stuff!

  76. Those soviet weightlifting record can’t be broken because in 1988 they started drug testing out of competition. Previous to this an athlete could use drugs 11 months of the year. Now they must be much more careful.

  77. Great Podcast! New Drinking, or Training Game. Every time Pavel says “Excellent TIm!” you have to drink or make a Squat!

    I can’t really express how much i appreciate it when Pavel would say a thesis and end it with the sentence:”Now what does that mean?”. Because most of the time it wasn’t 100% clear to me what he meant and the second thing s that in conversations many people are afraid to ask further, which has many reasons. Wer nicht fragt bleibt dumm!

    I have two Questions:

    With the SLOW FIBERS TRAINING PROTOCOL, do i understand it right that i am supposed to do one Squat in Super Slow Motion with the Duration of 1min.

    And Pavel, you mentioned you only drink Coffee in the morning is this part of Intermittent fasting. And when is the first time you eat something on a normal Day in which you won’t be burning much calories.

    Thanks, Theo.

  78. Hi Tim,

    In trying to focus on simple effective actions that drive massive change, I was interested in trying to keep a food journal to truly give me an analytical perspective on the shit I put in my mouth. As Zig Z says, “No one accidentally ate anything”. Any good food journal apps you would recommend?

  79. Very interesting conversation! I’m curious- so slow fiber hypertrophy sounds a little bit like anaerobic endurance but it’s not, huh? If somebody periodized their training with strength, then power (power being what Pavel describes as the neurological strengthening rather than strict hypertrophy) and lastly anaerobic endurance… would the slow fiber training would still be in the strength/ hypertrophy phase?

  80. Tim, I’m a fan. I found this to be the most confusive episode published so far unfortunately. To someone trying to make sense of the right fitness regimen, this doesn’t make sense. Everyone seems to have their own regimen, completely different from the others, and it’s presented with a “Everyone’s doing it wrong!” attitude. So many of these things are in contradiction with the 4h body and many studies too (n. Of reps, time under tension, training slow/fast twitch muscle fibers, failure impact on size etc.), and hearing your (non) reaction surprised me.

    I appreciate what you’re doing in all fields. In the fitness world I wish you tried to make sense of the various misinformation, whereas I didn’t see that happening. Unfortunately quite the opposite. I hope this changes!

  81. Tim, you mentioned a name in the podcast Max Plank which is actually Max Shank a strength coach from San Diego who is now the Master instructor of RKC. I had the opportunity of having him as instructor. He is the strongest and most rounded person I have ever met. His “bang for your buck” philosophy and “carry over” methods deliver. I would recommend you watch a few of his videos on YouTube (I like the one arm ring push-up and 400# swing) and have him on the show.

  82. Tim, you said that you wanted to get back into strength training. There is something new that you would really enjoy. Master Strength,, was developed with Bill Gillespie, a world renowned powerlifter & Master Strength & Conditioning Coach. This programs is a innovative game-like program to develop strength, speed, mobility, and athleticism. The program is very advanced and quick recovery is of the utmost importance, so it can be combined with patented pre and post workout glutathione supplements to enhance results.

  83. Hi Tim,

    Your blog and books are fantastic! Thank you! Is there away to get this Pavel Tsatsouline interview in a written paper?

  84. Tim Big Fan, Pavel disagreed with lifting to failure and did not explain why. I would have thought you would of asked some questions or explain your perspective and results. I am a bit confused now, can you please clarify. Thank you.

  85. Hi Pavel & Tim,

    Thank you for an incredible/zero fluff podcast. I’ve started training with Kettle bells using the practice that Pavel outlined in Simple & Sinister. One of the key components in hard style training is breathing technique. I’m having some trouble due to a deviated septum. Is there a good workaround? The ultimate solution is to have surgery, but I’d like to continue my workouts leading up to that event. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    All the best,


  86. Fantastic episode. Using Pavel’s ‘slow technique’ has allowed me to maintain my strength while losing 15lbs last year.

  87. I took a Masters level course in Periodization when I lived in Houston – it was great to hear about it again. As a dietitian I focus on food/meal planning more but still give suggestions for workouts. I loved this interview.

    My favorite part of the interview was Pavel’s music choices – my favorite 2 stations on Sirius are Octane (hard alternative rock) and Symphony Hall (classical). Not much in between.

  88. Lighting bolt…I am 1/2 way through listening and something hit me. The things that Pavel discribes as a way to build strength happens instinctually by 2 people I know – my twin baby boys. They are 10 months old, they plank tighting all their whole body all the time. They are constantly opening/closing their hands, almost as of squeezing the air. Another position they tend to do is a “super man” style plank on their chest with their whole body tight. They also tend to hold their arms out at around 45 degrees like most babies. All of these things are done through the day, but they tend to hold the plank positions for 5-10 seconds. I would speculate that human babies need to build strength quickly in order to survive. They also are operating on a lot of instinct, not tainted by cultural “workout” spirts. I wonder of there is anything to learn from something humans already do naturally but then forget…

  89. The picture of guys with a face mask is always a turn off. Means you are a terrorist or a thug. If you would not want your identity known for an act of violence, don’t do it.

    1. Hi Pavel and Tim,

      I currently follow the “S&S” routine = 1-arm swing and turkish get-ups. Can you point us readers to a strength routine that can be applied when traveling (i.e. no access to gym/kettle bells)?

      Lastly, thank you guys for 2 incredible podcasts and the wealth of information! Simple and Sinister has been a game changer 🙂



      1. Tyler, look into bodyweight training. Most of the time all you need is floor space and a place to do Pull-ups. I have traveled with a mat and a pair of gymnastic rings. Pavel’s own Naked Warrior, Paul Wade’s Convict Conditioning series, and Al Kavadlo to name three out of a growing trend of simple strength based possibilities. For more advanced Scott Sonnon has Warrior, Commando, Primal (and others) for training in the ‘field’. And I’m currently doing Christopher Sommer’s gymnasticbodies.

        Following correct techniques gets the results.

  90. What do people think of the High Intensity Training (infrequent sessions and always to failure) covered in Body by Science? It’s totally contrary to Pavel’s high frequency, volume and never to failure approach. I am wondering which one to follow.

  91. Wow, Tim where do I begin, profound talk here and could not have come at a better time, I’m turning 40 in 2 months and and unlearning everything I know about training and starting from scratch.Its Humbling if i may say so….

    So is

    that 3 to 5 reps and 3 to 5 sets but how many times a day?? and can you use the hollow bod position for 10 seconds for the same way (3 to 5 reps for 3 to 5 sets) again how many times a day,

    AND this including pulls ups 3 times a week ??

    Thanks again this is truly mind blowing if you considering a life time of pushing your body under the instructions of coaches and creating injuries,now its about longevity and STRENGTH.

  92. Wow, Tim where do I begin, profound talk here and could not have come at a better time, I’m turning 40 in 2 months and and unlearning everything I know about training and starting from scratch.Its Humbling if i may say so….

    So is

    that 3 to 5 reps and 3 to 5 sets but how many times a day?? and can you use the hollow bod position for 10 seconds for the same way (3 to 5 reps for 3 to 5 sets) again how many times a day,

    AND this including pulls ups 3 times a week ??

    Thanks again this is truly mind blowing if you considering a life time of pushing your body under the instructions of coaches and creating injuries,now its about longevity and STRENGTH.

  93. Tim asks some strange questions sometimes. It got uncomfortable when he asked what he wants to change about himself.

    More relevant and interesting for listeners might have been the topic of nutrition 😉

  94. Agree with Pavel and all that he says, truly the voice of experience.

    On the other hand, Tims advertisements for design service at the end don’t always work out well. Just getting someone in to whip out a logo for 10 bucks or whatever isn’t a good tip when developing your brand and business. I made that mistake and it’s cost me more to patch it up later down the road!

  95. QUESTION: Where to find podcast mention of Pavel essay “Ferris Bueller’s Day at the Gym” ??? Bing/Google searches for “Ferris Bueller’s Day at the Gym” turn up nothing pertinent.

  96. Pavel, Poliquin, and Sonnon are the three coaches I’ve followed for the longest. Tim, add Scott Sommer (gymnasticbodies mentioned below) to your podcast list. I’ve listened to his Barbell Drugged interview on YouTube repeatedly.

  97. For something new in sport science point google & google scholar at: the Stanford Cooling glove, and the temperature sensitivity of pyruvate kinease. By the end of the tour you should know why muscular fatigue is connected to muscle temperature.

    1. Two additional points: the German men’s team that won the world cup used these cooling gloves at half time and out ran all of the other teams in the second half; you can build one of these things on your own for about $100 and the only tools you need is a drill, a boring bit, a wrench, and a screw driver. I’ve built one, and have tried it in my training. As found in the strength training studies, I can get out around 50% more sets if I use the cooling glove between sets than if I don’t.

  98. Tim! Awesome stuff, as usual. Just wondering if you’ve heard of Scott Sonnon. I’ve got no stake in this, but he sounds like someone you might wanna interview: grew up w/abusive father, institutionalized for learning disabilities, degenerative joint disease, world champion martial artist, national wrestling coach, and now a fitness magnate. Like I said, no personal interest except I’d love to hear you interview him.

  99. Hi Tim – new to the ‘Experiment’ but glad to have found you.

    Perplexed that Pavel is such an advocate of FMS and also bemused that you did not pull him up on the glaring and published deficiencies of the approach:

    The tacit structuralism and causal narrative (movement dysfunction > injury) of FMS seems pretty wobbly in both athletic and general populations.

    Otherwise an amusing and informative listen.

  100. Pavel refers to “Kat-Tay” ?? When speaking about breathing techniques. Anyone know what he is referring to? Tried a couple of different spellings in Google with no hits. Thanks

  101. What are your thoughts on eating in the middle of the night? I’m going to give it a shot, but wanted to know if anyone has tried it and what they thought??

  102. the most valuable exercise tip I’ve ever received or learned: recovery is just as important as stimulation to achieve adaptation.

  103. what size grippers would Pavel recommend for an average female beginner? And how exactly (frequency/duration) to use them to progress to the next level?

  104. Pavel mentions a former weightlifter that still trains and does jump squats at 200 lbs. I don’t understand his name, could someone please help me.

    Also great podcast, many insightful ideas both intelectual and with practical applications.

    Thank you

    1. Tim, in your book 4 hr body you say you must have 30g of protein within the first hour of awakening. Just hear you interviewed and you said you don have breakfast, can you please clarify. Thank you

      Terrance Brennan Brennan Group Consulting 914 714 9432


  105. Hi Tim,

    Listened to your podcast “the art and science of learning anything fast”. You talked about increasing your deadlift from 300 to 600 pounds in a short time, which is very impressive!! Pulling the weight from the floor to the knees. I want to experiment with this method and see how it works for me. So I really like to know what your training plan was? Trainingfrequency per week? Sets and reps per workout? Intensity?



  106. This is one of the best podcast I have heard from this blog (although there are others which were very good too). Thanks Tim! You book Tools of Titans rock!

  107. “soundcheck. breakfast. coffee.” Highlight of my day, thank you both!!! Great episode, I keep finding myself coming back for a repeat listen over the months.

  108. Dear Tim

    I’ve read 3 of your books but 4 Hour Chef and loved them all. Tools of Titans to date I’ve read 3 times and 4HWW twice both I use as reference as well 4 Hour body I’m on my second read through.

    I’ve gifted Tools to 3 people and 4HWW 5 to 5 people.

    I have a question why do you recommend the kettlebell swing when from what I’ve read it doesn’t work up body ?

    Love your books and how you right keeping at it.

    Dutch M

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