113 – The Perfect Workout for CEOs

Gary Knight specialises in getting CEOs into peak physical condition

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.

In this episode, Gary and I discuss the perfect workout for CEOs and how busy executives can use high intensity training to maximise their results in the gym in a highly efficient manner.

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Contact Gary:

In this episode, we also cover:

  • Why HIT is the perfect exercise fit for CEOs
  • How you can achieve peak physical condition in less than 1-hour of exercise per week
  • How gamifying your workouts will motivate the hell out of you
  • … and much more

Listen below:

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Would you like to hear more from Gary Knight? Listen to Part 1 below or go to the blog post here:


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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  • And get inspired, rejuvenated and focused on your strength training business?

I certainly do and that is why I am attending and interviewing all of the speakers at the event.

The resistance exercise conference will be held on the 9th and 10th of March 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at The Commons Hotel.

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I’m very excited about this and have wanted to attend for years. Sign up now at ResistanceExerciseConference.com, get 10% off with promo code corporatewarrior10 and I look forward to meeting you in person!

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Selected Links from the Episode

People Mentioned

Comments 36

  • I think Gary has set up for a perfect pitch and market here, more power to him.

    The more HIT culture I consume online, the more I realise that I’m a massive outlier. Strong type B, process oriented, centrist yet self administering HIT enthusiast. I do wonder how much potential HIT has with true “normies” though, observing the general population doesn’t fill me with confidence.

    As for “cardio” and HIIT, I find it useful to tell people that HIT is basically HIIT that provides positive muscle adaptations at the same time, my heart rate responds pretty much the same doing one set to failure of pretty much any resistance exercise as it does to a sprint etc. It’s a sprint that makes your biceps bigger, lol. That said an extra 6 mins a week doing intervals can’t hurt and is hardly taking up any extra time. If you do want to indulge in other modalities there’s also the benefits of extra myokine expression, BDNF release, skill acquisition and other neurological benefits.

    • I agree. I think Gary is very well aligned to take advantage of this market opportunity.

      I’d have to agree with your position on HIT influence on the average Joe.

      Love your HIT explanation. Stealing it!

  • HIT does a fine job at recruiting muscle fibers for a strength program. As regards cardiovascular conditioning, the human body requires a different stimulus. It is well known that resistance training can decrease cardiac compliance. There can be some debate here, but the preponderance of the evidence is compelling.

    Mr. Knight’s opinion that a “hard” muscular contraction (~39:00 in the program) is all that is needed for cardiovascular conditioning is simply erroneous. Furthermore, Mr. Neal using an analogy of “pushing a car up a hill” is showing that neither of you understand cardiovascular adaptations to exercise…..especially as regards eccentric left ventricular hypertrophy. Furthermore, using Dr. McGuff as an authority on cardiovascular conditioning is showing extreme bias…as McGuff has always bashed aerobics, without any scientific evidence or empirical evidence of note, not to mention he has no practical experience or interest in cardiovascular exercise. Of note…..Mike Mentzer used aerobics….as do most athletes. Your bias is showing….perhaps it is you who can not see the ‘forrest for the trees.”


    • The human body is an integrated unit and you’re acting as though and speaking as though the ” cardiovascular system ” is a separate entity onto itself which it isn’t . I don’t think that Mr McGuff or anyone else is bashing aerobics necessarily but aerobics a term which was coined by Kenneth Cooper a US Airforce cardiologist over 50 years ago and has been front and center stage in the field of exercise ever since . Using flawed arguments such as most athletes do this or that is not a valid argument as it doesn’t indicate the truth of a thing . Truth is not determined through consensus !

      • In particular, does something that I wrote vex you?
        Dr. McGuff has stated that “cardio does not exist.” His words….not mine.

        I consider such remarks as bashing cardiovascular conditioning. Otherwise, none of what you wrote resembles anything in my post.

        BTW, using a myriad of athletic examples is empirical data…..NOT flawed logic. If cardio does not exist, why do so many insist on using it?

        Frankly, you remarks trigger suspicions of a “hatchet man” sent to debate.

        I would be willing to debate on specific topics with facts and logic .

        Stimulation of the cardiovascular system is due to demands placed at the cellular level. To say that cardio doesn’t exist is untrue, if you define cardio as a response of the cardiovascular system to the demands of the body. All types of training that use the circulatory system have the potential to cause stimulus to the cardiovascular system.


        • You can’t see the forest for the trees here . All the particular adaptations you’re speaking of are only arrived at one way , through the use of the muscles ! Pure and simple ! Aerobics / cardio has been the biggest sham in the field of exercise for the last 50 plus years , aerobic simply means with oxygen that’s it . The most aerobic thing that you can do is sleep . The vascular system is a highway for the blood to circulate throughout the body , it’s not an exercise modality . Cardio is just an invented and coined term that’s all it is and it’s been used as a buzzword in fitness for donkey’s years . And i agree with Dr McGuff that it doesn’t exist . You clearly just don’t understand what Doug is saying in the video you posted .

          • Believe what you want.
            Simple? The Kreb cycle is certainly not simple. The circulatory system is certainly not simple also. The respiratory system is complex. Please stick to data, facts, or logic…..or this conversation is simply unproductive, and I have nothing to gain from further communication with you. I clearly don’t care what a fringe researcher or Doctor has to say……I want the truth.

        • Doug didn’t actually say in the video you posted that cardio doesn’t exist , but i think that Mr Steele may have said that in one of his presentations and of course he’s spot on with that .

          • Prove it! That goes for Mr. Steele. Make us believers!

          • He makes a good “straw man” argument. I never heard of these assumptions of the Kreb cycle like he mentions. How convenient!

            The facts include the powerhouse of the cell as the mitochondria. Aerobic conditioning increases cellular mitochondria the best. This is because the majority of the mitochondria reside in the slow twitch muscle fibers (the reason they are called red and not white). The majority of the blood vessels reside there also. Fat deposits reside near these slow twitch muscle fibers. This is the way the body was designed to cope with endurance activity.

            As far as the Kreb’s cycle goes, and especially energy production derived from the citric acid cycle, pyruvate is indeed involved. Please note that during anaerobic energy production, pyruvate can enter the mitochondria and produce ATP, but, it can stay in the cytoplasm and be converted to lactate, also used by muscle for energy, ie. pyruvate is part of a complex system of cellular energy respiration. Pyruvate does not “stack” up to drive the Citric Acid Cycle. A complex cascade of energy production is contained in cells, especially the mitochondria, with the aerobic respiration dominating energy production and energy efficiency. Note all energy systems (alactic, lactic, and aerobic) operate all the time, with the citric acid cycle dominating energy production. The SAID principle applies as enzymes/carriers ramp up to keep up with the demands of muscular endurance. It is a Nautilus myth that just building larger muscles will some how increase endurance.


  • and to be fair to Mr. Knight
    There is evidence to his opinion!


    • Hey Marc – thanks for your comments. I read the study. It seems to support RT for cardiovascular conditioning:

      “22 weeks of HI(R)T lead to measurable, physiological changes in cardiac atrial and ventricular morphologic characteristics and function in previously untrained men.”

      But I suppose you are referring to the below?

      “Myocardial strain and strain rates did not change following resistance exercise. Left atrial volume at end systole slightly increased after HI(R)T (36.2±7.9 to 37.0±8.4 ml/m2, p = 0.411), the ratio to end-diastolic LV volume at baseline and post-training was unchanged (0.47 vs. 0.47, p = 0.79).”

      This is going way over my head and certainly welcome spirited, constructive, debate if anyone should want to engage who has an informed opinion.

  • Mr. Neal,

    As I stated, I was being fair, more so than others, on this subject. The study that I posted shows that resistance exercise can produce short-term morphological changes that could possibly be beneficial……long term…..who knows. For sure….Mr. Knight does not know,,,nor does Dr. McGuff know. There are numerous studies….that allude to undesirable morphological changes to the heart and blood vessels from resistance training. On the other hand, many desirable morphological changes have been reported from certain types of cardiovascular exercise. This is only in dispute in HIT circles. Trouble is: HIT does not want to hear the truth….that is…..resistance exercise can not….and has not….ever stood alone as a single modality of exercise.

    My “wind” always suffered doing strictly HIT exercise….especially with eccentric exercise. Add aerobics….and my “wind” suddenly reappeared. Of note…all serious athletes involved in competitive sports get a healthy dose (not a minimal effective dose either) of cardiovascular training. Some get this “dose” through the actual practice of their sport. There are physiological reasons for this phenomenon.

    Furthermore, any exercise is better than none…so a minimal amount of resistance exercise might be somewhat successful initially. But desirable morphological changes to the heart and blood vessels should be an objective of exercise. Rarely is this mentioned in HIT….until now.


    • What does the cardiovascular system do ? It’s a support structure for the musculoskeletal system , so high intensity / high effort being applied to your muscles is going to have a beneficial effect upon the heart , lungs , arteries , veins , the pulmonary tree as it were . Arthur Jones also conducted a study at Westpoint Naval Academy where it showed that the cadets that performed HIT had the best scores by far on cardiovascular tests that were conducted at the end of the study . You also have to consider the SAID principle ( specific adaptation to imposed demands ) when assessing things . If you want to be be proficient at a particular activity then you must practice / train said activity . It would seem logical to me ( and certain studies have confirmed this ) that HIT training would be the most effective way to train the cardiovascular system .

      • I second you Enlite on this one. But I also would like to add, that I see how improperly done, strength training can be harmful at least for the cardiovascular system. Squeezing, grimacing gripping etc. seems to me a direct cause for dangerously increased blood pressure and all potential negative effects following. Or as Drew Baye has put it in his last podcast here on CW, it seems to me that if one is striving to master and practice the “Tai Chi” and avoid the “Boxing” style, we get two very different outcomes, also with regards to the cardiovascular system benefit and respectfully harm. So it much depends what kind os strenght training we are talking about IMO, at least for some people who are at risk.
        And for Markph, I suggest that he takes the time to listen also to this interview with James Steele :
        Mr. Steele is on the edge of exercise research in general and Strength training /Cardio in particular. And he is one also engaged in aerobic type of activities much more than Dr.McGuff or anyone that according to Mark may not be a good advocate of strenght training vs. cardio training effects.
        Cheers every one!

      • “It would seem logical to me ( and certain studies have confirmed this ) that HIT training would be the most effective way to train the cardiovascular system .”

        If it is logical……then why not train a few 1500 meter runners for the Olympics with just HIT. Even true-believers of the HIT/cardio paradigm would be forced to alter their logic! Where are those studies of confirmation you mentioned?

        BTW….West Point is not a naval academy! Go Army! Beat Navy!

        • If you properly read my post i said that one must train / practice said activity in order to develop proficiency . Playing chess is not going to increase one’s ability to play checkers ! As for the studies you can look up the one i mentioned and there are others as well .

        • Hi Marc,
          Cardiovascular adaptations are specific to the exercise modality as well. Would you ride a bike to become a better runner? Of course not. VO2 Max is specific to the sport/exercise you are performing. But despite only minimally improving ones running ability, the cycling would improve mitochondrial size/#, left ventricle output, capillary density, and lower the heart rate which all lead to increased cardiac output.
          Having said that, using HIT training once a week will not push your cardiac output very far.
          Check out NorCalStrength Studio’s “experiment” with HIT’s effects on running. Far from scientific, but still interesting.
          Wishing you good health.

          • Interesting experiment…..but does not get to the truth. The trainee was much lighter in weight when improvement was noted….and he also did resistance training. BTW, I’m FOR high intensity weight training….but I feel this type of resistance needs an additional element to improve the cardiovascular system. The largest problem in many societies is obesity. A solution to obesity might include a cardio element. Cardiovascular training trumps resistance training and the combination of both seems ideal to combat obesity. I feel dietary efforts have not seen enough trials when combined with brief HIT…..just my gut feeling…..and not good enough.


            Furthermore, can HIT solve cardiac remodeling?


            I wished 1 set of 8 exercises done weekly would increase compliance and eccentric remodeling of the heart. But where is the proof? HIT needs to concentrate on answers to these problems…instead of relying on a study done over 40 years ago at West Point Military Academy.

    • Looks like this topic prompted some passionate discussion.

      My impression is that cardiac remodeling is most often seen at the extremes of athletic performance. If you compare 140 LB marathoners to 300 LB competitive powerlifters, you might expect to see differences. I wonder how much this really comes into play for the average HIT follower, doing 5 or 6 exercises for one set, once or twice a week. Likewise, if you are following the current aerobic guidelines for 75 minutes/week of vigorous exercise, or 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise, will this produce an extreme degree of cardiac remodeling?

      In that regard, I find this editorial interesting:


      “Although numerous and largely cross-sectional studies support eccentric remodeling changes in endurance athletes, few have been able to replicate findings of concentric hypertrophy with normal left ventricular end-diastolic volumes in any athletic population.”

      So perhaps the alleged adverse effect of resistance training on cardiac remodeling (i.e, concentric hypertrophy) is not so well established?

      • Cardiac remodeling can be problematic for everyone, not just athletes. This issue will not go away just because HITers do not understand cardiovascular conditioning. If resistance training was not already problematic as regards cardiac remodeling, then the aging process effect on the cardiovascular system must be considered as well. Everyone gets old if they keep breathing. 12 minutes a week of HIT resistance training MAY not alter cardiac morphology very much, if at all, but would not a compliant, eccentrically developed heart muscle be desirable? I would think a reasonable person would say yes. Does HIT do so….the answer seems obvious here as well.
        Cardiovascular training is more important than resistance training. The number one cause of death…..is heart disease. The good news!…..I believe HIT can help! HIT seems ideal for weight loss also.
        As any objective person can see…..there are REAL health issues here. For anyone to state there is no such thing as cardio….would lead to suspicions of a lack of wisdom on conditioning issues by reasonable persons. There are real experts on cardiovascular conditioning….who obviously do not agree with the mainstream HIT view presented on this web site.

        • Marc,
          To be fair, almost the entire fitness industry has drifted towards resistance training and HIIT training as the be all end all without a second thought of those modalities lacking the ability to produce left ventricle eccentric hypertrophy. We must get (allow) the maximum amount of blood to enter and stretch the ventricle. To my knowledge, only steady state low intensity training can do this. If anyone knows of any evidence to the contrary, please let me know.

          • Hi Taylor,

            I have been fair, as I posted the study of resistance training helping cardiovascular conditioning. On the other hand, it is other posters that are being unfair, however to their own detriment.


            You are astute in your assessment of the benefits on low intensity CV training. I believe, just as Kenneth Jay believes, that the occlusion effects of resistance training impede cardiovascular conditioning. I believe the stroke volume is decreased along with other factors that inhibit CV conditioning also. I do believe that strengthening the heart, ie. some form of left ventricular hypertrophy, may be OK if accompanied with a proper cardiovascular conditioning program.


            Just maybe Marciano and Ali knew something of value about conditioning. I doubt if many know why the breathe heavily after a set of leg presses to failure…..do ya? FYI, pyruvate converts to lactate in the cell cytoplasm…. and during strenuous exercise. Lower intensity exercise ramps up the electron transport chain as enzymes/carriers increase along with increased lung function to provide more oxygen. Everyone know this basic science it seems, except HIT.

          • Taylor: I agree that long duration cardio has that effect on the heart. And it probably exists on a continuum, with greater effects being seen for those who exercise at sufficient intensity for higher volume. But just how much volume and intensity are needed to produce noticeable enlargement, and just how much enlargement do you need to get most of the health benefits? Consider that some well known cardio gurus (Ken Cooper) now seem to think that, when it comes to cardio, more is not always better. So is there a point beyond which you can get too much enlargement?

            I cited the excerpt above because it pointed out that people who meet the US Government guidelines of 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes a week of don’t get enough heart remodeling to be diagnosed as having eccentric hypertrophy. Yet empirical studies show that this level of exercise is associated with improved health outcomes.

            The US guidelines also say that if you do up to twice the minimum recommended amount (150 minutes vigorous exercise or 300 minutes moderate) , there are additional health benefits seen (again from empirical studies). Does this level of cardio produce enough eccentric hypertrophy to show up in tests? Or do you really need to be out beyond 5 hours a week of vigorous exercise to see this effect?

            If you promote the idea that you really want to get a noticeable enlargement of the heart muscle, and that requires 5 to 10 hours a week of sustained cardio, that it is probably out of reach for a lot of people, especially as they get older.

            Right now, if you wanted to prescribe a cardio regime for someone based on the idea that it should produce a certain level of heart remodeling, what would you prescribe, and how would you measure it’s effectiveness? What would the the basis for that prescription?

            • “Right now, if you wanted to prescribe a cardio regime for someone based on the idea that it should produce a certain level of heart remodeling, what would you prescribe, and how would you measure it’s effectiveness? What would the the basis for that prescription?”


              10 minute sessions…….. 3x weekly…..
              with each 10 minute session having two (2), twenty (20) second all-out bursts……with a warm up and cool down.


        • You seem to be assuming that the health benefits provided by “cardio” come from cardiac remodeling that produces a larger, more compliant heart. Maybe that isn’t true.

          Consider this review:


          One of the summary statements is key:

          “Finally, careful inspection of data contained in Table 2 suggests a clear exercise dose threshold for EICR. Specifically, participants in physical activity category II (ie, those doing ≤3 hours of exercise per week) showed no statistical differences when compared with sedentary reference participants in category I. This suggests that people who exercise up to doses suggested by current US physical activity guidelines,16 recommendations with a firm epidemiological foundation geared toward optimizing health and longevity, should not be expected to demonstrate features of EICR. To what degree EICR independently impacts health outcomes among people who choose to exceed exercise dose recommendations, an increasing segment of the population that largely enjoys superb health and quality of life remains uncertain.”

          Even with traditional cardio, much is unknown. Maybe you should stop making definitive statements about EICR until more evidence is available.

          • “Maybe you should stop making definitive statements about EICR until more evidence is available.”


            Definitive statements? The vast majority of experts have been stating the benefits of cardio for a long time. If I vex you, my posts are easily recognized, thus allowing anyone an opportunity to avoid reading them. On the other hand, your post comes across as argumentative and without the necessary facts or logic to defend your remarks. As I said previously, I’m a fan of HIT….just not a fan of the illogical anti-aerobic stance that some of the HIT aficionados have.

            Furthermore, the 1st paragraph of the study you posted was so interesting, that I could not but wonder why you so conveniently didn’t include it:

            “Cardiac enlargement among trained athletes was first documented more than a century ago. Since the pioneering work of Henschen and Darling, both visionary investigators who independently and nearly simultaneously described enlarged cardiac silhouettes among Nordic skiers and rowers, respectively, much has been learned about the relationship between vigorous exercise and cardiac structure and function. Several decades of cross-sectional studies using multimodality noninvasive imaging techniques have established characteristic features of the athlete’s heart including balanced biventricular dilation, mild-to-moderate increases in left ventricular wall thickness,5 and biatrial dilation.”

            We have a large body of information dating back 100 years…more than a lifetime. How long would you like for one to wait….before commenting.

            The truth is: a compliant heart and blood vessels are desirable…..and many studies show increased stiffness in blood vessels as undesirable leading to elevated blood pressure.

  • I was fascinated by the description of the unique character of the CEO’s that he trains, and how they respond to coaching. (Of course, the people who end up training with Gary are a self selected sample. My wife works for a very large US corporation, and the CEO has got to be over 300 lbs, and can barely walk due to his obesity and bad joints. We also have the President of the US, a self proclaimed business titan, who is overweight, and thinks strenuous exercise is stupid. Exceptions can always be found.)

    With regard to how Gary markets to these people: I see the same kind of marketing message being pushed by the Starting Strength community, a group that is avid about heavy barbell work. “Squatting, benching, and dead lifting heavy weights is what hard men do. And when the weight gets scary heavy, that is when character is forged.”

    I think you can also find type A hard charger/CEO types who love iron man triathlons, tough mudder races, and CrossFit. To each his own.

    • Thanks Harold. This is a great contribution. You raise an excellent point – there are exceptions at both ends of the spectrum. I do wonder however, if the CrossFit CEO would change his/her activity if they knew better 😉

  • All – please play nice. A spirited debate is more than welcome here, but please don’t make it personal.

  • Great business lesson in taking your skills to where they’re most highly valued.

  • It’s absolutely true that debating with others about HIT training and trying to convince people that it’s the ultimate training method is a complete waste of time . i’ve wasted a lot of time and energy debating with people on Youtube and the like about HIT training and i came to realize how absurd that was . If HIT was going to take over the fitness industry and blow everything else to the wayside it would have happened already . HIT training is not for everyone and you’ve got to just accept that reality .

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