143 – John Heart on High Carb vs High Protein, SuperSlow, And The Importance Of Time Under Load

John Heart - HIT Bodybuilder
Pro Natural High-Intensity Training Bodybuilder, John Heart

John Heart (@MrAHeart and Insta: @mraheart) is a renowned bodybuilder, trainer and teacher within the fitness industry. He has won the title of Mr. America and Natural Mr. Universe. His primary platforms used for training/teaching include in-gym, YouTube, and all forms of social media including Facebook.

John currently trains in-gym clients in Los Angeles, California and manages his online presence through MrAmericaHeart.com. He is also the official online trainer of Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty Training System.

Listen to my Part 1 with John HERE

John’s Athletic Achievements/Highlights:

  • 2013-present – Worldwide: Competed as WNBF Natural Professional Bodybuilder in 4 professional events, usually placing between 2nd – 6th
  • 2013 – Secaucus, New Jersey: Won the Light Heavy & Overall title of INBF Mr.
  • 2012 – Secaucus, New Jersey: Won the Light Heavy class of INBF Mr. America
  • 2001 – Los Angeles, California: Won Tall class of ABA Natural Mr. Universe

In this episode we dig into many of the questions you submitted regarding all of the nuances of high intensity training. We get into a lot of detail and address many of the hair splitting debates and questions within the industry.

In this episode, we cover:

  • High Carb vs High Protein Diets
  • Is SuperSlow less effective than other exercise protocols?
  • Is time under load important for muscular failure and muscle reactivation

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This episode is brought to you by VitalExercise.com, a one-of-kind personal training facility in the UK owned and run by world-class personal trainer, Ted Harrison. For over 30 years, Ted has been very successful in helping people achieve great results, and, if you’ve seen the blog posts for his episodes on this podcast, you’ve seen that he walks the walk. For 57, he looks amazing!

Operating from a HIT base, Ted uses an eclectic mix of training styles to optimise results for his clients. Ted put me through one of the best workouts of my life and is someone I go to for advice often.

To book a free consultation either at his facility in Essex in the UK or to find out more about his virtual coaching, which includes personalised training, nutritional and motivational advice, go here where you can fill in a contact form or phone Ted directly for more info.

Selected Links from the Episode

People Mentioned

Comments 13

  • Sanctimonious Jesus hater here but fellow deadlift fan. it’s great to hear that John uses pretty much exactly the same protocol on these lifts as me.

    If it’s of any interest to listeners that train HIT at home I’ve come up with a pretty good system for squats. I follow Drew’s instructions for body weight squats but load up with a sandbag. It’s much more comfortable on the back than a bar and crucially you can dump it backwards at failure without annihilating the floor/furniture/yourself. Obviously you’re not going to be using really heavy loads that way, save that for the deadlift!

    One other thing, although John’s diet has/is/seems “low protein” I think in terms of grams per day it’s probably pretty high compared to the general population. Obviously genetics play a huge role too, if I can share an anecdote, a good friend of mine is jacked without doing any formal exercise. He’s also pretty much a vegetarian, I wonder how his body maintains his muscle mass on what is essentially a bread based diet!

    • Great idea Andrew. I might try that myself!

      Appreciate the point re your friend and genetics. Some people feel that genetics are 90% and others feel like HIT advocates blame genetics when the protocol doesn’t “work”. Personally, I think the former is far more accurate, and the sooner people accept this, the sooner they can get on with their life 😀

      • The bonus is that you can get a bag of sand from the builder’s merchant/DIY shop for a few pound. I transferred it into double skin of bin bags inside an empty boxing training sandbag for durability and for handles but I imagine an old duffel bag will work just as well. It’s only 35kg but that means it’s safe to work with! (my barbell is roughly my body weight but aint no way that’s ever going higher than my hips!) Even a lighter load can add a lot of resistance if you follow Drew’s recommendations on body weight exercise. It’s also useful for adding resistance to several other exercises, get creative!

        Genetics is pretty much everything, do all the training you like and you’ll not get past a certain muscular limit (and it’d probably be unsafe to). I strongly “believe” (read hypothesise) this to be true with everything, physiologic headroom not only applies to muscle mass but to IQ, longevity etc.

  • Great conversation, guys! The comments on deadlifts and your opinion on how to incorporate them into our workouts were great. I’ve just started adding these in and appreciate the info.

    “Kind of fun to pursue mastery” – love that!

    Also, good job clarifying the meaning of the words you were using when you talked about “unloading” v. “resetting.” There are many stupid arguments people get into because they’re using the same words, but mean different things by them, and fail to make sure they understand each other.

    • Hey Matt – pleased you enjoyed it. Appreciate feedback. Yes I think falling in love with the process and using it as meditation is a good long term strategy, since hypertrophy is errr limited 😉

  • Man am i confused more than ever! I was basically doing a real slow cadence with tut no more than 3 min. If it went passed 3 min i would have to make the exercise harder. If tut isn’t important do you Lawrence still keep your workouts 15 minutes? I watched your youtube video of the pushups and other exercises, the cadence looks pretty slow. Are you still doing a slow cadence but not worrying about tut?

    • Hey David – firstly I just want to preface my answer to this to say that I don’t think it matters what your cadence or TUL/TUT is so long as you exercise to momentary muscular failure. So you can play around with cadence and TUT as much as you like and as long as your training to MMF, you will probably get the maximum adaptations for strength / hypertrophy that you are capable of getting.

      That being said, sorry to confuse you. That is not my intent. Why 3min? That seems quite long. Do you enjoy suffering? Lol. Personally I like 60-90 seconds on most exercises and 50-80s on some bodyweight exercises ala Drew Baye and Project Kratos. Hitting failure in ~50-60s seems to be an adequate TUL for the stimulus you’re after.

      It is not important you keep your workouts to ~15-minutes. This is an arbituary time that I use as a tagline to my website. My actual workouts have varied from 6-25minutes depending on my routine. If you have a very brief routine (2-4 exercises) and you have a clear run way of machines preset, then you could be done in less than 6min. Alternatively, if you are doing a longer routine with 6+ exercises, then your workout might take as long as 30-minutes.

      If you are training hard and to failure on every exercise, this should necessitate a workout duration that is no longer than 30-minutes IMO.

      My cadence is slow relatively speaking compared to traditional training, but compared to SuperSlow it may be a bit faster. I focus on quality of movement and I try and turnaround at either end of the exercise as smoothly as possible to optimise for quality of exercise and reduce any chance of injury. I don’t really think about how fast I’m moving through the middle, I just let this express itself organically as I try to exercise as safely and as smoothly as possible. And thus the TUT expresses itself as a by-product of that type of focus. I imagine in most cases I use a ~5/1/5

      • Awesome thanks so much! Honestly now that i think about it, i have no idea where the 3 minute cap came from???? Anyways i”m still learning about this type of exercise regimen. I am unfortunately very limited on time, thats why hit intrigued me. I bought kratos and tried following it somewhat. Although its been revised again. Just to be clear! Lets say when I do pushups, when I no longer can push back up to position is that MMF? Sometimes i feel like man should i pause on the ground and then try it again? Is this a mental thing or something people go thru when doing short workouts like HIT?

        • yes, when you can’t complete another rep you’ve hit (concentric) failure. rest pause like you describe is an advanced technique. Personally I use a “drop set” as an advanced technique, I hit failure then, without pausing change to push ups from the knees and hit failure again. This is with a 5-2-5 cadence. Don’t worry too much about all that though, it will (potentially) really affect your recovery. If you’re untrained all this will come with time, it’s a process. 2 years ago I could barely perform a single push up, I recently wondered how many “conventional” pushups I could perform (locking out arms, 1-1 cadence) and banged out 25, that’s without the neuromuscular adaptaton component assisting me (the skill of performing the exercise) too I reckon.

          • Thanks Andrew I really appreciate it! I like the drop set angle as well. I tend to over think everything anyways.

  • Interesting comments on squats and deadlifts. I enjoy both exercises. I prefer squats to the leg press because they hit more muscle, and I can use a little bit longer range of motion. But I will not do either exercise to failure, avoid grinding reps like the plague, and am not even a fan of slow tempo/constant tension reps for those exercises. The problem with the fatigue to failure approach is that the low back is a weak link in the chain (for me). Can’t afford to fatigue the spinal muscles and tweak the back. For me, it feels safer to use a traditional lifting tempo, and then do multiple sets, not to failure.

    Last work out for example, I did 6 sets of 5 reps with 220-LBS, 3 minutes rest between sets. It sure takes longer than a single set to failure on the leg press. I do this once a week. Can’t say for sure that this higher volume approach has lead to any further muscle gains (though my legs look a little more defined than before). But what I can say is that after using this sub failure, higher volume approach for several months, my legs just feel a lot more ‘springy’. Really noticed it when I do get on the elliptical for some occasional cardio. I feel more like sprinting than plodding along.

    As for slow, controlled turn-arounds and paused squats: These pauses and starts from a dead stop do make the exercises harder, you can’t move as much weight. That does make the exercise safer. But I think the reason the exercise feels harder is because you can’t take advantage of the stretch-reflex response when changing direction from the eccentric to the concentric. And what the stretch reflex response does is to allow you to do a better job of recruiting muscle fiber. That is why you can use more weight. So safety considerations aside, the argument could be made that a dynamic turnaround is actually better for purposes of recruiting and fatiguing muscle.

  • Nice read! Thanks for the information.

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