Join Date: Oct 2006
Lyle McDonald's newsletter has an interview with Kelly Baggett today. As a side note, Lyle's newsletters are usually weekly, and generally contain some interesting content. A typical newsletter is:
Content (often interviews with guys like Baggett, Cressey, and, heh, me once, and occasionally material from some of Lyle's ongoing projects)
Here it is:
Feature Interview with Kelly Baggett
1: Hi Kelly, thank for joining us. Can you give us an idea of your background in the field?
Well I played most of the common team sports in school like basketball and football and from my late teens on my parents owned a small gymnastics, martial arts, and fitness facility, so I was always around sports and fitness. Even though I was a fairly decent athlete I was the typical skinny hardgainer type kid. I graduated high school at about 120 pounds. Thus, when I first got serious about training at around the age of 18 I was solely interested in bodybuilding. I've been fairly obsessed with various things related to training and diet ever since I got serious about it.
Even though I was originally just interested in looking good I also found the bigger and stronger I became the better I got at sports. Over the years I've dabbled in martial arts, powerlifting, o-lifting, track and field, and boxing. I actually boxed up until fairly recently.
Anyhow, over the years I was always in the gym either training myself or others. I'd get an interest in a particular style of training and learn as much as I could about it.
I guess in some ways I'm kind've a bit of a black sheep. Most bodybuilders tend to hate powerlifters and sports trainers. Powerlifters hate olympic lifters and vice versa. Strength and conditioning coaches make fun of all of them. But at one time or another I've been totally hardcore into about all of those respective "cliques". Anything having to do with physical performance or manipulation I'm game for.
Back before the internet I subscribed to every muscle magazine and read everything I could get my hands on by guys like Dan Duchaine and John Parrillo. I ate, lived, and slept muscle gain and fat loss. I wasn't a guy with a great physique by any means - I just thought manipulating the body and learning how to do that was awesome so I strived to learn as much as possible.
Eventually I was introduced to powerlifting and dabbled in that for several years. Then had a stint with olympic lifting. During this time I started training more and more athletes and eventually learned all the sports specific training stuff too. I kind've try to merge all of the stuff together. I've found that I've never really lost any of my interests...just kind've added to them. So instead of reading an hour or so per week like I did at 19 years old, now it takes me a boatload of time just to stay up to date on all my various interests: Alright anything new in the bodybuilding world? check. Fat loss world? check. Powerlifting world? check. Sport specific world? check.
2: Tell us about your own past athletic accomplishments or current goals.
You hear about these "gym" bodybuilders who are so great but never compete...guys like Vic Richards. Well, I was kind've that way as a speed-strength athlete. At my athletic peak at 5'9 I could pop a 9'6 tile ceiling with my head and I could run a sub 4.3 second 40 yard dash. However, I was such a late bloomer as an athlete I never had a chance to get any scholarship offers or anything like that so I was just pretty much a "street" type athlete and trainer. I am physically suited for combat sports and did do well in them but just didn't have a lot of passion for them - Didn't really like hitting people. Now I just to try and look good while maintaining a decent degree of athleticism.
3. As athletes and lifters move from beginner to intermediate to advanced, what do you think needs to change in terms of their training?
They need to get more focused with regard to creating and recovering from fatigue. A beginner will respond to anything and it doesn't take much for them to improve a given quality. Since they aren't really capable of inducing much fatigue, they also recover fairly quickly. That's why a beginner can hit a lift 3 times per week for 3 sets of 10 at 70% and gain strength workout to workout and recover just fine. However, as they progress they eventually reach a point where it takes more to stimulate a desired response. Not only does it take more to evoke a response, but now they're stronger and capable of creating more fatigue, so they need more recovery time. So now they might progress performing 5-8 sets per workout 2 days per week.
They might progress on that setup for a while but eventually they reach a point where they won't progress in strength session to session... a single workout is no longer enough to create enough fatigue to invoke an adaptive response. At this point they might train for 2-4 weeks with higher frequency and loading, say 5-8 sets at 80% 2-3 days per week. During this higher volume period a lot of fatigue will be generated and strength and power gains would likely be stagnant. Yet they then follow this up with 4 weeks of training a muscle group once every 4-6 days and they gain workout to workout. The higher volume period disrupts homeostasis, while the lower volume period allows supercompensation from that disruption.
Interestingly enough, those who make gains off of HIT are often unknowingly doing some sort've variation of what I just described. They train balls out for months or years with high volume where they never totally recover. Then they switch to HIT and allow themselves to recover from all that volume. All the sudden they make dramatic strength and size gains for about a month. Did they make the gains from HIT? Not really. They made the gains during their high volume phase. All the fatigue they were creating was just masking their true fitness state.
4. What's the best piece of training advice you've heard lately?
It came from Dan John: "The coach who coaches himself has an idiot for a client." I think he's exactly right when he says that it's very difficult to coach yourself because the more you know the more you start second guessing and questioning every minor detail of your training.
5. What about the worst?
A guru told one of my female BB clients that she shouldn't do any cardio whatsoever because it would burn up all her muscle. She went out and did about 8 hours of cardio in one week, gained 5 percent on all her lifts and a pound of muscle. I guess it depends on who you are - cookie cutter prescriptions rarely cut it.
6. Who in this field has influenced you and who do you listen to?
You and I probably have a lot of the same early role models. Guys like Dan Duchaine, John Parrillo, Charlie Francis, Stuart McRobert, Verkhoshansky, Mel Siff, and Tudor Bompa. Most of what I learn now is self taught, but I still have guys that I kind've seek out for information in given fields:
In the area of nutrition, metabolic regulation and endurance training that would be yourself.
For assessments and corrective exercise I seek out info. by Bill Hartmann.
For strength training I learn a lot from Glenn Pendlay
In sports training I like Mike Boyle's approach.
For perspective I like Dan John.
There are a ton of other guys too, but if I see an article from any of those folks I will definitely read it.
7. You've written extensively about both bodybuilding and athletic training and nutrition. If there was a single piece of advice you could give each group in terms of making progress in their endeavors, what would it be?
Bodybuilders - For most people not much happens without food intake. If you're not eating enough to put on some fat, you're probably not eating enough to put on any muscle either.
Sports Training- Don't lose site of your target. If in doubt keep things simple. I have found that more of a HIT type mentality periodically applied towards sports training often produces excellent results - simply because an athlete has so many various qualities to address and some degree of over-reaching seems to be the norm rather than the exception. Dynamic warmups, static flexibility, soft tissue work, strength training, power training, plyometrics, conditioning work etc. By the time you have all that covered, not to mention the sport training itself, many people can't help but be in somewhat of an over-reached state.
So I recommend people every once in a while take a couple of weeks to a month and get rid of all the background noise - just focus on the very basic things you're trying to improve. If you're trying to get faster take a 2 week period and eliminate all the strength, power, plyo, and tempo work and just get out on the track every couple of days and go for PRs. At least 10 times in the past year I have taken that approach with an athlete and I've yet to see it not work. The volume is still important as it creates the fatigue and the stimulus for the adaptive response, but you don't show the fitness until you eliminate the fatigue. I think it takes longer than what people realize for recovery to really take place.
8. In your own training past, what would you say was your worst mistake? Put differently, if you could go back and time and train more effectively, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
I would use more concentrated loading and unloading periods and also take better care of my joints. Better warm-ups, less weight, stricter control. I don't have a build really conducive to lifting heavy weights and I'm feeling it now.
9. Recently you released a book called "The No-Bull Muscle Building Plan - Defying the Curse of the Natural Muscle Seeking athlete" which is an approach to gaining muscle mass without the (often excessive) fat gain that can occur. Tell us about the program: How long did it take you to develop? Who is it aimed at? What kind of results can people expect using it?
It actually started several years ago when I was battling some problems with undiagnosed hypothyroidism. I was training consistently yet my muscles were shrinking while I was simultaneously piling on the blubber. I tried to come up with an approach that would allow me to maintain some semblance of conditioning and I did. The cyclical training and diet plan I came up worked to maintain my physique.
However, I wanted to see what would happen if I used it on someone with a normal functional metabolism. So, I tried it out on some people and it actually worked better than expected. Not only did they end up building muscle, but they also shed quite a bit of fat simultaneously. I eventually kept modifying and tweaking it to the point where it's mainly a mass gain plan...a mass gain plan with just enough fat burning thrown in to allow a person to keep fat gains at bay while they build muscle at about the same rate they would if they went out an all out bulk fest.
I've had some guys gain an average of more then one pound per week of muscle while shedding almost that much fat, but I'd say an average person can probably expect a consistent 2 to 4 pounds of solid muscle per month while keeping fat gains at bay.
In addition to the training plan itself, I tried to put a lot of good information in there about genetics, diet, setting up a training scheme, and various other topics.
My comment: I read an early version of the book as well as the finished product and I can't too highly recommend it. Kelly has the ability to put complicated concepts into simple words, which is the mark of someone who truly understands their topic, and even if you don't use the program you'll still learn a ton from it.
10. Where can people find out more about your ideas, theories and products?
I have a website www.higher-faster-sports.com. You can read my articles there or check out the store to see my other products; I've got books for vertical jump and speed development in addition to the new book.