111 – Gary Knight on the Pointlessness of Periodisation, Objective Ways to Maximise Gains and Extreme Fat Loss on 50-days of McDonalds

Gary Knight
Gary Knight

Gary Knight has been a HIT advocate, practitioner and coach for over a decade. His journey has brought him from the Australian outback to the busy streets of London where he focuses on transforming the bodies of CEO’s and executives using HIT principles.

Gary is the most disagreeable personal trainer around (his own words). He has a refreshing no-bullshit attitude and says it exactly like it is. This conversation was A LOT of fun and serves as an excellent primer on how to pick the right method to build muscle and lose fat effectively.

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In this episode, we also cover:

  • How to objectively measure your workouts to figure out what works
  • The problems with periodisation
  • How to self-motivate with self authoring
  • How to get ripped on a McDonalds diet
  • … and much more

Listen below:

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This episode is brought to you by the Resistance Exercise Conference – The science and application of strength training for health and human performance.

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Selected Links from the Episode

People Mentioned

Comments 20

  • Great to finally get to hear this one! I’ve just started a (roughly 80 day maximum) shred myself today, I’ve never eaten a MacDonald’s though and I don’t intend to start now, lol.

    Funny hearing about personality types, I’m definitely an outlier being a strong type B (if the concept holds true) but since embracing HIT and losing fat I’ve certainly picked up more type A behaviors more so through pragmatism than natural inclination though I feel, although the boost in confidence that I’ve gained has pushed me along that path a fair bit.

    • Glad you enjoyed it Andrew :D. You’ve never eaten a McDonalds? Never? …

      • I grew up on rural Exmoor, about 50 miles from the nearest Macdonalds, you’d have probably had to have gone to London to get a Burger King, KFC, Dominoes etc. As an adult I’ve little desire to find out what I “missed out” on.

        Oh, we did have a “Wimpy” 20 miles away lol, I had a couple of those as a kid.

  • Really enjoyed this podcast….lots of no nonsense advice. Found the McDonalds experiment to be intriguing but don’t think I will be trying it any time soon.

  • This was an excellent podcast and very enjoyable . I’ve been using hit principles for 20 plus years and i couldn’t agree more with what Mr knight was expressing . I would just like to add that i agree with what Gary was expressing insofar as gaining strength as a pathway to muscle size using a 4-2-4 cadence for example . But i’ve also realized that the load is not important but how the load is being utilized is ! Lighter loads moved properly deliver optimum muscle stimulation while simultaneously removing or at least drastically reducing joint and connective tissue stress . There’s far too many so called experts in the field of exercise caught in their own dogma or that of a guru obfuscating the truth because they’re married to their beliefs . Periodisation actually came out of the athletic world which is simply a down cycling of the training in accordance with drug taking protocols . But it like many other things in exercise became the flavor of the month and has become ingrained in people without realizing that it was devised for pro athletes to take things easy when cycling down their PED use .

    • Enlite,

      Pleased you enjoyed this one Enlite. I had no idea periodisation was used for that purpose. Yes, the lighter load do seem to have the same benefit. This is why the progressive overload argument doesn’t really convince me.

      • I think progressive overload does have some benefit for neophytes/beginners however for more advanced people that have fine tuned their ability to contract their muscles against resistance , they know how to get more out of doing less . For example i used to swing up 65-70 lbs on lateral raises but now i only use 15-20 pounds and sometimes even less using static holds , double negatives , one minute up and one minute down and the like .

        • This is interesting to learn. I do believe that as one becomes more experienced at strength training, one can contract muscles more efficiently. Another confounder to throw in the mix! 😀

      • I like how you challenge the overload principle Lawrence. I have been mentally masturbating about this topic some time now. My conclusion for now is that progressive overload does occur in any way, shape or form regardless of the protocol used, but it is just harder to measure when comparing protocols.

        For example, when efficiently reaching MMF is the goal with a light(er) weight , progression in absolute resistance(weight) will be marginal compared to less efficient ways of reaching MMF(faster cadence, not emphasizing harder parts of ROM).

        • Hey Julien, I agree.

          Skyler messaged me this on Facebook. I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing:

          “If there’s a TUL that you feel like getting to mechanical fatigue is best achieved at for you, that is you actually cannot complete another contraction versus it burning so bad that you want to tap out due to metabolic factors, then adding weight can help keep you in that zone.

          And over time it will have to increase, but you’re not chasing the increase.

          Just like chasing reps or chasing TUL isn’t the goal.

          It’s a tool to help keep you in the mechanical fatigue sweet spot, or the “wrung out” feeling spot

          But to your point, I don’t think it’s worth gobs and gobs of gains
          It’s a tool to keep you safely achieving a repeatable best input

          your body takes care of the rest

          I’ve been much stronger than I am now without being larger
          But I know using a sufficient weight keeps me more able to reach that real muscular failure.”

  • Awesome interview! Gary’s training journey and experience, training practices, advise, how he experiments, and how he generally looks at and preaches things about training and diet are so much identical with my own, that I had a feeling I listened to an interview with myself 😀
    I did not expect that, but am very happy now, that it is on.
    Cheers Gary! So glad, that you shared all this here with us!

  • Another very interesting podcast Lawrence.

  • According to an early proponent, periodization is defined as the “long-term cyclic structuring of training and practice to maximize performance to coincide with important competitions.”

    That isn’t too surprising, since the concept came out of the training of Olympic weight lifters and then spread to power lifting. Of course, many of those guys are also cycling anabolic steroids. Since both cycles would be timed according to the date of the competition, there probably is some coordination the drug cycle with the training cycle. Never the less, the same training cycles are typically used by natural weight lifters and power lifters to peak for a competition.

    Since I don’t compete in those sports, I can’t say from how much one might gain from attempting to peak for a competition, as opposed to just trying to maintain one’s strength at the highest possible level all the time. But most people who do compete seem to use some kind of strategy for peaking for an event, so it wouldn’t surprize me if it worked in that context.

    What seems much less sensiblel is trying to periodize your training without the objective of peaking for a competition. It is not so much that it doesn’t work, but that it just seems misapplied, since what are you peaking for? Also, it probably works better for limit strength than hypertrophy.

    • Thanks Harold. Appreciate the contribution, and I agree with your viewpoint. It may have application in a powerlifting context, but I’m not sure it does in the pursuit of hypertrophy 😀

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