Browsing Tag

strength training

Relentless Podcast

Tony Federico: Reversing Rock Bottom, Appropriate Exercise Dosing, and #FatButter

It’s time for episode eleven of the Relentless: Real People, Real Results, Real World podcast!

In this episode I welcome in Tony Federico, personal trainer and fitness manager, Paleo Grilling author, Paleo Magazine Radio podcast host, Paleo Fitness Magazine editor, avid blogger and Instagramer.



  • Reminiscing about my appearance on Tony’s Paleo Magazine Radio podcast and his frequent mentions on the Relentless Roger and The Caveman Doctor podcast.
  • New York Times best sellers, successful business owners, etc. – “Nobody is really that different from you…Podcasting has demystified a lot of people and put everyone on a single platform. We’re all human beings and it’s what you choose to do that really makes a difference.”
  • Professionally helpful resource: The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.
  • Relaxation oriented resource: Jon Ronson short stories.
  • Growing up as a chubby and nonathletic kid: “I had this underlying sense of not really being in control of myself.”
  • Experiencing rock bottom: “In retrospect that was a great and necessary thing because it emptied me out…I had to face refilling myself from scratch…It was an opportunity to say ok, starting today what am I going to do that’s going to start building up the person that I want to be.”
  • Asking the important question “What else is there?”
  • Exploring Eastern literature and religions: “They planted seeds of hope and responsibility…I began to take actual responsibility for the state that my life was in.”
  • Focusing on single positive actions: eating a salad, going for a run, not smoking a cigarette, having a productive conversation, etc.
  • The unseen journey: “What people see today is the end result of a full 10+ years of really deliberate personal transformation.”
  • Referencing Deepak Chopra as a resource contributing to his turn-around for blending science and mysticism.
  • Adopting a long-term view: “Eating a salad with low-fat ranch dressing from a supermarket might not sound great, but it’s certainly better than the Hot Pocket I was eating before. A lot of people get caught up in perfectionism, and that may have been one of the things that threw me off. I really began to appreciate progressive approaches towards improving health.”
  • Boiling down Paleo to this: “Why don’t we eat better quality food?”
  • Avoiding militant approaches: “There are some people who take a real alarmist approach to nutrition, and I’m just not going to do that…The stakes aren’t that high to feel guilty if we had a slice of pizza…on the whole emphasizing good tasting, nutrient dense, fresh, whole, real foods is going to be a more enjoyable way to eat.”
  • …while also holding yourself to a standard: “I do think some discipline is helpful. For example, everything you eat doesn’t have to be a 5-star level intoxicating food experience.”
  • Maturing as a trainer and differentiating between those who are willing to change and those who are not ready.
  • Understanding the amount of exercise he needs to do to maintain his personal fitness standards.
  • Tony’s weekly workouts:
    • 3-4 30-minute (at most) strength mixes of “push, pull, squat, lunge, plyometric jump…yes, bicep curls and triceps pushdowns.”
    • 2 30-minute functional core classes per week (teaches and participates)
    • 3 runs – 30-50 second sprints with 1+ minute of rest, 1.5-2 mile tempo run, and a relaxing run
    • 10,000+ steps per day
  • Workout baseline for the listener:
    • 10,000+ steps per day
    • 1-2 days/week – intense (90% effort) conditioning performed safely (ex: rowing, running, biking, etc.)
    • 2-3 days/week – primal movement patterns (pushing, pulling, squatting, pressing, lunging, twisting) broken into circuits – 3 supersets of 8-12 repetitions per exercise
  • Being aware of your overall workout quantity: “Like medicine exercise has an appropriate dose. It’s a law of diminishing returns. Up to a certain point you have improvements in health outcomes, whether that’s longevity, disease, mortality risk. If you keep exercising, you hit a plateau. If you keep exercising, it actually goes in the opposite direction and now you have an increased risk of mortality.”
  • The risk of using exercise as a form of entertainment. “If you are deriving your daily charge of socialization and fulfillment from kicking your ass in the gym…that can be a slippery slope.”
  • Teasing our upcoming podcast and audio/workbook product for the personal training community – Powerful Personal Trainer.
  • Looking eerily similar to his Dad when they’re both fit: “Genes definitely matter. Don’t get so hung up on the specifics of programming. Bust your ass really hard one day, moderately hard a couple days, and move around a lot every day.”
  • Current vice: #fatbutter.

T-Fed and I at a PaleoFX 2014 farm dinner (photo by Basil Gravanis)


If you like what you hear on these episodes, please subscribe to, rate, and/or review the podcast on iTunes.  Thanks for your support!

Short Format

Press Takeaways: On Fasted Workouts, Strength Training and Sprints, and Not Being a Physical Yo-Yo

This Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer Health section featured an article by Justin D’Ancona entitled Fasting workout, quicker results? with a number of quotes from yours truly. It first tackled the question of fasted workouts and their usefulness before handling workout prescriptions. Here, for your benefit, are 6 expanded takeaways. #6 is my favorite, so if you’re in a rush, jump to it.

1: “Like most fitness questions, and answers, this one falls into the gray area.” – Justin D’Ancona

Smart, smart, SMART quote from D’Ancona. The article itself tackles two studies that fall on opposite sides of the fasted workout equation. One proclaims no results, while the other reports significant – up to 20% bodyfat! – improvements in its subjects.

Your takeaway here is to stop headline hunting because headlines tell you very little. Studies can be flawed and have an assortment of small sample sizes, biases in gender, age, ability, etc, and narrow thinking (displaying a positive/negative without considering a resulting positive/negative elsewhere). Studies are useful – yes! – but they require your critical thinking and personal experimentation to derive real results.

2: “The researchers discovered those in the group that exercised fasted didn’t compensate for missed meals by consuming additional calories during lunch, nor did they complain of an increased appetite for the remainder of the day.” – Justin D’Ancona

Here’s an example of a study takeaway that requires the aforementioned critical thinking and personal experimentation. It’s an intriguing idea. Can you fast through breakfast, not suffer cognitively or physically, and consume fewer calories (which would in theory be an effective weight loss strategy)?

My experience with fasted exercise is this: it works for lower stress output. If you’re typically more relaxed in the morning and walking or doing low intensity work, it’s worth considering. If, however, you’re a morning high performer and doing higher intensity work, my experience says it will break you.

3: “For the most part, my recommendation is to eat balanced… My philosophy revolves around a positive source of protein, positive source of carbohydrate, positive source of fat.” – Me

“Low” or “no” anything are short-term strategies and are maaaaybe applicable from-time-to-time for the right reasons. If you consistently and significantly deprive anything, it’ll have unintended consequences. Give yourself well-rounded and focus on quality sourcing.

4: “Get a big strength workout and a big sprint workout in a week. Where with the strength workout you’re pushing your limits on the type of weight that you’re able to push, pull, squat, and deadlift…” – Me

Strength is the foundation of your house. Quick message to the ladies: if I never again hear the “but I don’t want to get muscular” retort to my strength programming, I’ll die happy.

After your best friend of walking – yes, walking – strength is next on your priority list. It’ll sustain and build muscle mass, which is worth its weight in gold, while also preparing you for the daily stressors of life – picking up babies, landscaping, snow shoveling, and playing pickup sports.

Quick self-evaluation: If you are someone with back pain AND someone who regularly shirks strength training (with sound form, of course), re-evaluate your life. Immediately.

5: “…And then on your sprint workouts, you’re working shorter, but super high intensity. So, like, 30 [seconds] on, a minute off, eight times, but every time you’re doing that 30 on, toward the end of that 30 you’re really struggling.” – Me

Intensity. Scaling yourself up the intensity spectrum sends a direct signal to your primal physical wiring to improve… or else. If you want that next chunk of physical results, you’d best find the time to sprint.

A few words on sprinting. My definition: performing an activity as intensely as possible for the prescribed block of time. That means if it’s :10, you’re dying at the 10th second. If it’s :30, you’re spent at 30. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

6: “Wait, weight loss results from only two workouts per week? ‘I think people usually start too fast with too much. Prove to me you can do two workouts a week first.'” – Me

More is not better. It’s not.

Thought experiment: would you rather…

  1. Train like hell for 10 weeks, work yourself up to a physical peak you enjoy for 2-to-4 weeks, and plummet off a cliff without a parachute. End scene: 1-year later you wake up in a worse position than you were to begin with.
  2. Develop reasonable health habits that progress you slower up a hill (not a mountain). End scene: 1-year later you wake up in the best shape of your life with the ability to sustain it.

I get that you want results, and you want them NOW. I get it. But do you really want to vacillate between periods of killing yourself for 6 workouts a week, getting injured and/or petering out, then not doing a damn thing? Do you really aspire to be a physical yo-yo?

Start reasonably. Sink your energy into walking, strength, and sprinting (Have you listened to the Keith Norris podcast yet? We handle that exact formula.) Prove that formula to yourself. Then add the frills if you’d like.