169 – Ted Harrison – How To Motivate Yourself And Your Clients In High Intensity Strength Training For Maximum Results

Ted Harrison
Ted Harrison looks awesome in his late 50s

Ted Harrison (Facebook / Twitter) is a UK-based, High-intensity trainer and the owner of Vital Exercise, a private exercise studio specialising in strength and conditioning. Ted has spent over three decades helping people transform their health and build their best physiques using an evidence-based exercise approach.

This is Ted’s third appearance on the podcast. Check out Episode 1 and Episode 2.

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In this episode, we cover:

  • How to motivate yourself to train hard
  • How to motivate yourself to train clients during long tough days and over the long term
  • How to motivate clients to train hard and achieve best results
  • … and much, much more

I have had multiple requests for content on training motivation. This is the ultimate actionable and raw episode on motivation in a variety of high intensity training contexts. 


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Comments 17

  • Nice interview, I always enjoy listening to Ted Harrison. BTW, I clicked on “Charles Bronson” under people mentioned and got a surprise (maybe because I’m an American?). I think I’d rather look like Charles Bronson the actor vs. Charles Bronson “the most violent prisoner in Britain”.

  • Very good interview . I can relate to what Ted was saying about motivation to train as i’m very similar in that regard with not actually needing motivation to train . However my stance has somewhat changed in certain instances for example if i’m dehydrated or haven’t eaten enough or both , i have no problem taking an extra day or two off . It’s not going to hurt and i find that the training session is always better as opposed to pushing it when your not ready mentally/physically .

  • I suspect that many of the people who have stuck with training for a lifetime don’t really have a motivation problem: they do it because they enjoy the process, like the feel of moving weight (or running or whatever), find it enjoyable to push themselves physically for a bit, and like the relaxed and depleted feeling afterwards. It is people who hate to exercise that have the issue. For that reason, I think it is a mistake to turn training into some kind of bitter pill that needs to be swallowed quickly.

    Mostly a side note/observation, and with all due respect to Dr. McGuff, who puts out good information and is an entertaining speaker: I don’t quite get the gushing over his physique. He looks lean, fit and healthy, which is something we should all aspire to. But, in comparison to other people, he doesn’t really stand out as exceptionally big or muscular.

  • From the Vital Exercise web site:

    “Results are what count and it surprises people when I tell them that with correct strength and conditioning training at Vital Exercise they can lose body fat, optimize their cardio-vascular health, build strong bones and add lean calorie burning muscle to their bodies…and they can do all of that, and more, with just one workout every four to seven days, for an average of thirty minutes or less.”

    There is absolutely ZERO proof that resistance training can optimize cardio-vascular health.
    This is intellectual dishonesty!

    Further ID!

    “Frequently asked questions
    ​A: No:
     The function of the cardio-vascular system is to support mechanical work with muscle.
    Any improvements that you make to your muscular strength will automatically benefit your cardio-vascular function. Many people believe that by jogging, swimming or riding a stationary bike in a low intensity steady state fashion that they can somehow isolate the aerobic pathway of metabolism. The fact is that the body simply does not work that way. Human metabolic systems function together in concert and it is impossible
    to separate one from the other. Performing high quality strength training in the correct manner will not only improve your muscular strength but will also do everything necessary to improve your cardio-vascular function.”

    The above statement is unproven at the very least. There is some truth(s) thrown in to obfuscate the less versed ones of physiology basics. If the above were true, where is the overwhelming proof of the above statement?

    Does the person know anything of value about the SAID principle? Sad to see someone who should stick to what they know…. and … in this case leave cardio-vascular conditioning to others with such knowledge.

  • Kudos to Vital Exercise and of course Mr Harrison for understanding that Strength training does in fact improve ” cardio ” as the human body is an INTEGRATED UNIT , therefore ST will have profound benefits on the BODY .

  • Marcph’s post did raise an interesting question for me: How exactly does one define “optimal cardio vascular health” or “optimal cardio vascular condition”? Both seem somewhat elusive concepts, especially if you want to establish measurable targets to gauge the effectiveness of your exercise program.

    • I agree that optimal cardio condition/health are vague terms at best . But to say that low intensity steady state activity is somehow going to isolate & stimulate certain organs in the body ( heart & lungs ) quite frankly seems absurd . It also strikes me as very odd that certain people seem to have some weird personal investment in aerobics/cardio .

    • @ Greg,

      Optimal anything depends on the individual. That is exactly why I questioned this lunacy against cardio-vascular training. Lawrence certainly is not asking these hard questions. BTW, there are measurable targets to gauge a cardiovascular program …. resting heart rate … distance ….. time. Sadly, there are few answers here.

      • With a training program, you can improve performance metrics such as distance or time, and you can improve certain biometrics, like resting heart rate or VO2 max. But you can’t set an absolute target for any of those things, and say that the achievement of the target represents health, because of the overriding impact of genetics, and the complexity of the causes of cardio vascular disease. That is what I mean about the difficulty of setting meaningful metrics.

        For example: Is everyone with a resting heart rate of 60 healthy in a cardiovascular sense? Obviously not! They could be a runner with coronary artery plaque just ready to let go and cause a heart attack. Or they could be an ultra endurance athlete with fabulous VO2 max, excellent speed and endurance, wide open arteries, and scarring of the heart from too many races too often, which then predisposes them to atrial fibrillation and a high risk of stroke.

        As for the Dutch speed skaters: interesting from a sports perspective. But as I’m sure you know, you can’t conflate high levels of athletic achievement with good health. Often athletes sacrifice the latter for the former.

        I see HIT as a point on a continuum: it has an effect of the cardiovascular system, just as different forms of traditional cardio do. Each type of exercise has different effects on heart morphology (stroke volume, muscle wall thickness, chamber volume), mitochondrial density in the muscles, arterial stiffness, and a whole boatload of other stuff. I don’t think anyone can define exactly what combination of those things is necessary to be healthy, or what exactly you need to do in terms of exercise to optimize any of that. That is what I mean by elusive.

        If someone is completely untrained and out of shape, doing two 30 minute HIT sessions a week with limited rest between sets will improve not only their strength, but their cardiovascular system. Is that enough? I don’t know, and I suspect you don’t either.

        Having done those kind of workouts, I’d say they constitute vigorous exercise. Even Martin Gibala cites circuit training with weights as one form of interval training. Conventional health guidelines suggest getting 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise a week. If rush factor HIT qualifies, then you are 80% of the way toward meeting the recommended guideline. That would be a pretty good outcome, considering that a large swath of the public gets no meaningful exercise at all.

        On the other hand, if you do three sets of exercise once every 7 to 10 days, resting a long time between each of those exercises, and then retreat the recliner for the rest of the time… well you probably are fooling yourself about getting an adequate level of physical activity.

  • Great one, guys! I think the exercise for low back that Ted mentioned is in the Body by Science Question and Answer book.

    A few other observations about motivation:

    1. I hear a lot of people over age 70 talking about going to “1 level living” because they are having more joint pain and a harder time taking the stairs. I don’t dispute that we all get a day older every day, but what I reject is the idea that we getting old and weak is a foregone conclusion. If life happens and I need lots of help one day, so be it, but until then, I’m going to fight every set to get the failure and stay young as long as possible.

    2. You talked about time, and having obligations like children. I have two young ones. While there certainly are times that it’s hard to find time to train more than twice per week anyway, or we get short on sleep, kids are also a source of motivation. I want to be strong for them as well as for me, and I want to model good exercise so that when my kids ask, I can show them the right way to train.

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