166 – Arjan Meijer – How To Fit HIT Around A Very Physical Job

Arjan Meijer back pose
Arjan is one of my trusted HIT council.

Arjan Meijer is from the Netherlands and has been training with weights since the 80s. He’s done it all, read it all, and heard it all. He’s tried high volume traditional weight training, Dorian Yates style high intensity training, Mike Mentzer consolidation routines, and much more. Arjan competed in two natural body building competitions at age 22 and 23, coming second place in the first and sixth place in the second.

Despite being a fairly strong responder to resistance training, Arjan found Dorian Yates’s approach to be too much still. This was primarily because he was, and still is, working in a very physical job in a meat factory. Not able to cope with the demands of both, in 2005, Arjan abandoned high intensity training for 3 years, losing a lot of his hard earned muscle mass. In 2008, Arjan discovered Mike Mentzer, returned to training. Now at 47, he looks fantastic.

Please support Arjan and check out his high intensity training apparel store, The HIT Shop ( US / Europe )

Arjan is creating some of the best HIT videos on YouTube. Check out his channel here.

Let Lawrence help you build your HIT Business

We didn’t talk much about nutrition, but when we did, Arjan dropped this gem:

“If you eat exactly what you need, that’s exactly what you need.”

In this episode, we cover:

  • Arjan’s personal training routines, volume, and frequency
  • Real talk about managing expectations, genetic potential, and developing a healthy respect and attitude for training
  • How to start a HIT business or business in general
  • … and much, much more


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Comments 12

  • Lawrence and Arjan,

    Fantastic interview! I’ll be re-listening to this one. I’m going to respond to this and mainly Lawrence’s recently Patreon recording stating that “all roads lead to Rome” and most training variables don’t matter over the long-term in a training career:

    I’ll start by saying I agree with the hypothesis that most factors in training (frequency, volume, rest intervals, sets, reps, exercises, periodization, machines vs. free weights, etc.) probably don’t matter if your goal is to reach 90-95% of your genetic potential and you don’t care whether that takes 3 years, 5 years or 10 years.

    Having said that, I think the way you’re presenting your hypothesis makes it almost impossible to disprove. Any study showing superior muscle growth (even if it was substantial) from one factor or another can just be dismissed with “but wouldn’t the other (inferior) group just eventually catch up to the muscle gained of the superior group”? How can anyone refute what you’re saying without a long-term (10+ year) controlled study where you controlled for every single factor (diet, sleep, recovery, rest, all the training factors mentioned above) and just changing one? You can’t and you never will.

    Therefore, why not strive to make some of these changes as long as the trade-off for your outside life isn’t massive? Why not try 3 workouts a week instead of 2 if they’re only 30 minutes? Why not try to use different rep schemes, superior machines, etc.? What’s the downside as long as it?

    The nihilistic attitude of “well I think it probably doesn’t matter long-term” isn’t serving you, except to temper your expectations (which I think is a great reason for it alone, by the way). It’s like saying I’m not sure which diet is really best long-term, so I should just eat whatever crap I want.

    Once again, I think you’re probably right Lawrence. Everyone plateaus and all roads probably do lead to Rome. I just wanted to present a counter-argument because I think you’re putting yourself in a trap that can’t be argued against.

    • Arjan also raises a super interesting point that I hadn’t heard before – the problem with “peaking too early” and how that may demotivate someone from training over a lifetime.

    • Well put Scott. I really appreciate the response. I’ll also post this on blog. Scientifically, it’s probably impossible to disprove it haha. How convenient! I agree, absolutely experiment but temper expectations. I think I did say something to that effect.

      In hindsight, I think Nihilism is WAY too strong a word to describe this all roads lead to Rome (ARLTR) attitude. To say that everything (all variables) are meaningless is not true IMO. They all have different meanings to the individual, and in the context of optimising gains they might not make much difference but that doesn’t mean they don’t have wider utility. And thus your diet metaphor further reinforces why Nihilism is the wrong word in this context. It also has a negative connotation, and one could find ARLTR incredibly positive and satisfying.

      I suppose I am setting up a trap, and does that mean that no one will ever be able to prove me wrong in a long term context scientifically? Perhaps, and if it really matters to people to experiment, then all the power to you. I’m not a total bore, I also experiment, but the experimentation ends when the variables interfere with overall quality of life. But to your point, the minor changes you suggested probably won’t do that, so it’s a bit of a lazy attitude and lazy thinking from me to be honest.

      • You’re right Lawrence – nihilism definitely isn’t the right word. What ARLTR displays is only a portion of what nihilism connotes.

        Thanks for having such a great attitude about this! Again – I agree with you, just wanted to present a counterpoint.

  • Scott,
    Sure, each one can follow studies and hope for the best. Get from it what one needs and act on it. However I dare to say there is nothing new under the sun. And can the new method be sustained after a certain period. Ok, you say the impact of a little bit more workout per week isn’t that big , I tend to disagree. It is ofcourse dependent on the person in question, how is their life regulated!!
    To get to that last percentage of “potential’ will take a lot more of work AND outside the gym dedication. Each one must decide the worth of this,
    Accepting at some point in life that more gains probably won’t show up isn’t nihillistic and it certainly doesn’t mean that the workouts aren’t performed with the motivation and intensity (also mentall) to stimulate the maximal possible growth, regardless the real outcome. And might here and there some gains show up, it realistic also could be a fact that these gains get lost again due to “life’ showing up. Later maybe again some gains again etc. So, at the point of almost maximal growth within ones potential there can be a continiously back and forth in this context.
    This reaching of potential can maybe come fast or not, many influencing factors and I personally don’t have a problem that gains stop despite hard concequent training. It motivates me that I’m able to keep my mass, keep my BF% reasonable, feel strong and can live my life. No demotivation here. If so, then I must reflect on my real values……….for me or to impress.

  • Isn’t something like the Arnold press (with less pronation) recommended by Bill DeSimone? I had a flick through my congruent exercise book but could see it.

  • Another enjoyable conversation to eavesdrop on! My $0.02:

    With my overhead presses, my cue is to keep my elbows forward, in front of me. Flaring my elbows and upper arms out wide, having the dumbbells back by my ears (or doing a behind the neck barbell press) really tears up my shoulders. I love the standing press, but it can apply too much stress to the low back, if doing a lot of volume. You’ve got to be vigilant about excessive layback.

    I’ve never been a big fan of squats to failure. If I keep the weight light enough to be safe for my low back, I can get a good burn in the thighs by going for a fairly long TUL, but I don’t think that works my posterior (hips and hamstrings) as well as a barbell squat with more weight. For training to failure, I prefer a leg press or hip belt squat. Different strokes for different folks…

    I normally train twice a week. If I have a week layoff, it will usually be a mixed bag: I will feel fresher and perhaps stronger in some exercises, and a bit off and weaker in others. No real pattern than I can see. If I miss more than a week, I will be weaker, and will have a lot more soreness (DOMS) when I do return to training. These time frames are short enough that I don’t think I can make any meaningful judgement about muscle mass or hypertrophy.

    Good comments regarding realistic expectations. Work against meaningful resistance with a high degree of effort, with a modest amount of volume, and you will get what your body allows. After a year or so, you will have a pretty good idea of what your genetics will allow. No point in beating yourself up trying to get far beyond that point, unless you just happen to enjoy that kind of thing, or if you want the extra volume just for achieving your minimum required dose of physical activity. On the other hand, you probably should keep trying to get stronger, even if it is unlikely to happen, because that insures that you will continue to work with a high degree of effort. And variety can help keep things interesting.

    A priori, I would not have predicted that people who run HIT studios would be interested in paying for a curated site to discuss of their business. But in hindsight, I can see the value of having a troll-free community of like minded people with whom to share ideas.

  • Also wanted to mention re: the shoulder press. Some seem to think it is actually a fairly poor exercise for building your shoulders in terms of hypertrophy. Perhaps Lawrence and Arjan you would be better off with lateral raises and face pulls, which target the delts more directly:

    • I agree . I haven’t done any type over overhead pressing for years and i get great shoulder workouts simply utilizing laterals for the shoulders . High intensity style utilizing negative emphasis static holds & the like that light up the delts like fire without putting them at risk .

  • Hey Arjan, very interesting interview. Thank you for sharing your experience! I have two questions if you have the time to answer:
    1. Since you are a fan of Mike Mentzer, what is your opinion of Mike Mentzer’s dietary advice and practices? Are you using them or have you used them?
    2. I saw on your YouTube channel a video where you compare slow cadence set with 3 traditional ones. Have you experimented with slow cadence, but short TULs e.g. up to 40 seconds (2-3 reps), instead of 80 seconds for example?

  • I’m just getting ready to listen to this one . I actually watch many of this gentlemen’s videos on his YT channel & comment on them as well and i agree with much of what he has to say on training . Anyone who hasn’t checked out this man’s content on his YT channel i suggest you do .

  • Excellent interview ! Arjan is a very wise man indeed .

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