Today I’ve had the pleasure to interview Mike Schaid. Mike is someone who I believe will have some pretty significant contributions to our industry. Mike’s not quite as well known as the previous quest, Eric Helms, however over the time I have known Mike I have noticed a lot of similarities between him and Eric in the way they approach research, bodybuilding, application of science and coaching. For this reason Mike is someone who I look up to and someone who I think is sick of receiving my many (MANY) emails.
Thank you very much for giving me your time today, Mike. If you wouldn’t mind could you please give the readers a bit of background about yourself? What you’re currently studying, your competition history and where you plan to go in this industry?
First off, thank you for the kind words. Relating me to Eric Helms is something I’m not sure I am even remotely deserving of. As far as my background goes, I think I follow a path similar to a lot of individuals in this sport. I grew up being active and playing sports, including high school football. I eventually got involved in extreme sports such as skateboarding and snowboarding, which inevitably resulted in me getting injured, luckily not severely. During this time, I picked up some unhealthy habits that led to me decreasing my activity and increasing my weight. I eventually became aware of the situation and this is where the weight room came into play, fast forward a hand of years and a tremendous amount of mistakes in regards to training and nutrition and here I am today.
My competition history is very short. Under the guidance of 3D muscle journey I competed in 2011 in the NANBF Badger State Natural Classic, in which I placed first in the men’s short novice and third in the men’s open short. I also competed in NANBF Northern States Natural Classic, in an amazingly tough class, and unfortunately didn’t place, but I did have the privilege to watch Brian Ahlstrom win his pro card. I’ve opted to take a few years off in an attempt to prevent that from happening again.
As far as academics go, I am currently enrolled in my last semester of my Undergraduate B.S. in which I majored in Biochemistry. I am also in the process of applying to graduate schools to pursue studies in nutritional biochemistry and physiology. I also am lucky enough to work in Dr. David Thomas’ lab at the University of MN. As far as the fitness industry goes, I have been lurking in the shadows so to speak lol. First and foremost my aspirations are to work in academics while continuing to compete in natural bodybuilding. I do some contest and offseason coaching, in which I have plenty of openings (shameless plug here). I have a love hate relationship with the fitness industry. It’s made a tremendous impact on my life, and I wouldn’t be where I am without it, but there are many aspects that turn me off from it. I figure I don’t really need to sell myself and if I do good things, the good people will come to me. Lastly, I have also been amazingly fortunate to administer the 3Dmusclejourney Facebook page along with Bryce Lewis. I can’t even begin to say enough about how amazing that team is.
What was it that drove you to want to study biochemistry and branch out into that field? Did you have any major influences which lead you into the path you have gone down?
Well I should say I originally attended school for audio engineering, which turned out to be a quickly dying field if you are actually interested in living comfortably. This led me to return to school. In between, I started personal training. During this time, I wanted to make sure I was giving clients, and myself, legitimate information. I have a natural curiosity, and I have always loved the sciences. Naturally, I turned to biochemistry and physiology when I enrolled back in school. As for purely academic influences, it’s no surprise here: Layne Norton, Eric Helms, and Alan Aragon (amongst many others), have all helped me (whether they know it or not) in regards to discovering the paths that are available. I have also always been a very self-directed individual, in which I try to follow my own path. I will say that outside of academics, Alberto Nunez, Brad Loomis and Jeff Alberts have all played a tremendous role in my bodybuilding endeavours.
You certainly have been someone many of the athletes of 3DMJ have turned their questions to, myself included. You mentioned you are a contest prep/offseason coach. Where could people find out more about you and what is the best way for potential clients to contact you?
Currently, I am in the process (slowly) of putting everything together. I mostly work with local people, referrals, and even non competitors. While I am getting things together my inbox is always open at email@example.com. Or you can always find me on face book under Mike Schaid.
Moving into the science aspect of bodybuilding, what do you believe are some recent advances in the fitness industry which may have merit, and do you believe the industry as a whole is moving in the right direction?
This is an awesome question, that might be an entire article in and of itself. I’d like to start with the industry’s movement and direction if that’s ok.
I think the industry is definitely moving in a more favourable direction. More and more individuals are becoming aware of science and application, which is obviously better than “my jacked brother’s friends said so”. There seem to be a lot of extreme separations in the bodybuilding world, and in an industry driven by ego’s I find a decent amount of humour in the “wars” that go on, especially when we all just want bigger arms you know? I love science, and I really think the application is crucial for progress and development both in terms of making gains in muscle and the industry. That being said, I think some people rely so much on science that they forget that although it’s there and gives us direction all while being the truth, thinking about if GLUT4 transporters are up regulated more efficiently after 5 or 6 sets of squats isn’t exactly practical (I’m being facetious here). It’s what got us into trouble in the first place with what the kids call “broscience” today. It’s fun to know, and if you are nerd like me you just like learning about these things, but when it’s time to squat I’m certainly not thinking about which fiber type I should be stimulating. I guess my point is, I think the recognition of science and its application in our sport is exactly what needs to happen but overcomplicating things just to sound intelligent or prove you aren’t a bro is becoming a trend I don’t like seeing and it can easily lead to a new form of pseudoscience. I do think however, that the main stream industry needs to jump on board. Popular magazines and the like need to get more educated employees on their journalism staff and start putting out quality information.
As far as recent advances go, there are a few areas that really spark my interest. The first one that comes to mind is the data on volume in comparison to total load coming out of Stu Phillips Lab at MacMaster University. His research, along with others, have been looking into volume and its correlation with hypertrophy. It’s not exactly new stuff, as bodybuilders have been training with volume for a long time, but I like that its finally being supported with evidence.
A recent publication that I think really needs more attention, merely for the fact that its actually related directly to bodybuilding, is the case study done by Rossow et al. (Natural Bodybuilding Competition Preparation and Recovery: A 12-Month Case Study) in which they monitored the hormonal profile of a competitive bodybuilder (one I highly respect to boot) while training for a competition. It’s more just a really cool publication, and can help those who worry about hormonal issues during dieting feel at least relieved, that most of these issues do resolve with time post contest.
Let’s talk a little bit about supplementation. Before we get into some specifics that I would like to bring up, what supplements do you recommend and do you believe there are any new up and comers which may have merit?
I’m sure these will come as no surprise. First and foremost, I think sleep is the best supplement available and it’s free. After that, as far as ergogens go: creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, fish oil (EPA,DHA) citrulline malate and good old caffeine. I also really like L-tyrosine. It’s an epinephrine precursor, and it’s one of those supplements you can feel, even when you take it in isolation.
Currently, I think HMB is probably the best supported “up and comers” as far as new data. Jacob Wilson’s lab is doing really cool things with testing legit overreaching protocols in the presence and absence of HMB. HMB is a leucine metabolite that has been shown to be both an ergogen as well as a recovery enhancer and stimulator of muscle protein synthesis.
I think the list of supplements you mentioned above is spot on for the vast majority of lifters. Let’s discuss 2 supplements in the list in a little more detail. Many people consume citrulline malate and beta-alanine as part of their pre workout cocktails however 9 times out of 10 they have no idea how or why these ingredients work. Would you mind giving the readers a bit of information as to how these supplements exert their effects and what exactly this means in the weight room?
Sure! Citrulline malate is actually beneficial for a couple reasons. Malate is a metabolite of the Krebs cycle and can enhance energy production. Now, that might be more beneficial for endurance athletes since weight training mostly relies on anaerobic systems, but it could be beneficial for those on the low end of their carb intake while dieting. Anything that might get you some extra ATP between sets is a good thing however. Secondly, citrulline has been shown to aid in clearance of plasma ammonia and lactate, both which accumulate during resistance training. It might also aid in the clearance of other muscle metabolites which can enhance muscular function. CM has been shown to enhance fatigue resistance as well as decrease soreness. There hasn’t been a conclusive mechanism as to why, but I’m sure it has something to do with clearing waste products. Lastly, CM can enhance nitric oxide production. Actually, CM does what most people think arginine does. The problem with arginine is that about 80% doesn’t actually make it to the blood stream. Intestinal cells use arginine (and glutamine for that matter) as a primary source of energy, so arginine isn’t readily absorbed. CM on the other hand, is easily absorbed into the blood stream and functions as a secondary NO donor, being converted to L-Arginine in the NOS dependent pathway and can thereby enhance NO production. What this means in the weight room is decreased fatigue so it can aid in high volume routines, increased blood flow for a better pump, and decreased muscle soreness.
Beta Alanine is the limiting factor in carnosine synthesis. Carnosine is highly concentrated in muscle tissue and acts as a pH buffer. Similarly to arginine, carnosine is not readily absorbed and doesn’t show the same benefits as beta alanine. With BA, you can take less and see the benefits of increased carnosine levels. By buffering pH, you decrease anaerobic fatigue, so you can potentially increases the reps being done in the higher rep range, when metabolic build up is usually what ends a set. So you might get a couple extra reps when working in the higher rep range.
I wasn’t aware that Stu Phillips had that going on. From personal experience I have found my larges ‘spurts’ of growth during times where I really ramped up the volume, followed by a taper and reduction, yet I know many people who advocate HIT/higher intensity styles of training as ‘king’. What do you believe is the largest reason we see such a variance between individuals when comparing training parameters and do you believe one style should be favoured more than the other when the primary goal is hypertrophy?
I think the large variance is most likely due to the fact that you can make gains on all sorts of training protocols. Hypertrophy is multifaceted and doesn’t rely on just a single stimulus alone. Volume, intensity, frequency, recovery ability, sleep, and nutrition are all important and need to be adjusted to the individual. The issue with volume is that it can be highly demanding and can create a pretty big recovery hole that takes some time to get out of. This is why people usually see strength gains after a taper; you are finally actualizing your gains (something I admittedly need to be better about). I think this is also why people see progress with HIIT training is they often think they are “overtraining” on a higher volume protocol, which in actuality are just overreaching. They hear about HIIT, make the change and HIIT actually serves as a taper. The other issue arises when you look at individual tolerances to training. Some people respond so well to weight training they make gains in spite of what they do. Training is very much like an individual’s diet. All of the variables are there and important, but the amounts can vary quite drastically.
Volume has always been shown to induce greater hypertrophy than single set HIIT style of training. I think when considering the variables, focusing on volume and periodization of volume is a great idea.
Thanks for clearing that up. I think a lot of our readers will benefit from knowing exactly how those supplements benefit them.
I’d like to briefly touch on forms of cardio. One debate that seems to pop up frequently is HIIT vs LISS, specifically during contest prep. My views on this are quite different to most in that I am not such a fan of utilizing HIIT unless it is really needed. I have noticed a trend where every man and their dog are throwing in HIIT (offseason and contest prep) without questioning its real usefulness. Would you mind giving us a brief breakdown of HIIT and LISS, as well as offer some insight into reasons to add either, if at all?
Low Intensity Steady State Cardio, or LISS, is your generic cardio. It’s nonintrusive, low impact, and can be easily tolerated. Forms of LISS include just about any piece of cardio equipment at your gym and using it to increase caloric expenditure. You know…. walking on an incline treadmill for 45 minutes and just breaking a sweat, that’s LISS. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on the other hand is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It involves an all-out effort, followed by a brief period of rest. An example would be windgates on a stationary bike where after a quick warm up you would do an all-out sprint for 15-30 seconds, followed by a 45-60 second rest, or slow cycle to recover. Generally this is done for anywhere from 5 to 15 sprints. LISS is good for increase total energy expenditure, not “burning fat”, as fat loss isn’t dictated by the substrate utilized during training. Rather fat loss is dictated by total caloric deficit, proper macronutrient breakdown of the diet, and resistance training. Most people realize that weight loss slows or plateaus during a fat loss phase. Reasons for this are due to metabolic slow down. This slow down occurs for a few reasons; hormonal responses to food intake, lower bodyweight, and decreased non-exercise energy expenditure, or NEAT. Decreased NEAT can occur for reasons that aren’t controllable. Decreased activity of postural muscles, lethargy, shallow breathing, etc. Your body will do all sorts of things to save energy. This is where LISS can come into play. LISS can try to help make up for some of the decrease in NEAT. It can also allow an individual to eat a bit more food. In order to loss fat, you need to either eat less or increase activity. Some people would rather do more activity than eat less food. One issue with LISS is that you adapt to it, pretty quickly. Usually after the addition of LISS you see a drop in weight, but plateau again. HIIT has some slightly more favourable adaptations that occur, which can aid in fat loss. For one, you are also increasing energy expenditure. You also acquire some metabolic changes, such as increased insulin sensitivity and increased mitochondria in muscle cells (meaning you rely more on fat at rest). Where people fall short, is realizing you also get similar adaptations via weight training.
When it comes to implementing cardio I honestly can’t believe people debate on this at all. They aren’t exactly comparable and nothing is ever black and white. I think the best approach is to treat cardio like a tool, and one you use as sparingly as possible to achieve your desired results. Just like diet, an individual’s cardio regimen needs to be tailored to the individual. If you are in contest prep or extended fat loss phase, your goal should be to use as little cardio as possible while still losing at your desired rate. If you can get shredded with only walking the dog, why wouldn’t you do that? Cardio becomes an issue when you do more cardio than you do weight training. Anyone who is after physique goals should be focusing on their weight room performance and using cardio as an accessory to diet for fat loss. I think HIIT is a good tool if it can fit into an individual’s protocol without hindering performance, at least not to a significant degree. If someone only has a single leg session per week, HIIT on a second day might actually do some good. If the incorporation of HIIT interferes with your ability to recover and interferes with your workouts, than it can be a negative thing and I wouldn’t recommend it. Sometimes an individual’s fat loss is pretty stubborn. If I notice someone is eating less than the average person and cardio is already getting relatively high (more than 3 to 4 sessions per week) than HIIT can be a good addition as well. When it comes to contest prep, sometimes sacrifices need to be made and I would rather have someone doing a few intervals than getting really good at LISS, that’s just a recipe for muscle loss. In short, both forms of cardio have their merits and should be used sparingly and according to the needs of the individual. If you can get away without cardio, then don’t do any. If HIIT completely runs you into the ground and your lifts suffer, it should be avoided. If you absolutely need more cardio than the average person, then you have to pick your battle between the two.
That is some great insight, thank you. A question I get asked quite often is in regards to meal timing, specifically around a workout. Do you yourself place much importance on meal timing and how do you typically like to set up a pre/post workout meal?
This is an answer that many not like, but it depends. Personally, I think the pre-workout meal is far more important than the post, especially when dieting. When you are depleted and especially lean, you really need that fuel to aid your gym performance. A few factors come into play with a pre-workout meal. First being how much have you eaten throughout the day and when are you training? A lot of people report an increase in performance when training fasted in the morning, but usually this is because they go from having a decent sized meal and training shortly after, to not eating at all. Almost every time I suggest having something small, say 20-30g of carbs and some protein, they report back that their performance was better than it was fasted. Digesting a large meal elicits a parasympathetic response, so it’s no wonder people feel lethargic trying to train 45 minutes after eating. Like I said however, having the nutrients and energy also aids in performance. There isn’t one prescription for a preworkout meal, and just like diet, it tends to be individual. A preworkout meal provides energy, enhances performance, prevents fatigue and provides nutrients that aid in the training response. It takes upwards of 5 hours to digest a meal entirely, so if you have eaten within a 5 hour window of your workout, you are going to have everything you need for an optimal training response. The anabolic response to training lasts upwards of 24hrs, so these factors really negate the “dying need” for a post workout meal, you know, the whole “eat 30 minutes post workout or you lose all your gains” mentality. A post workout meal usually serves as just the next meal. Now, if you have gone quite a while without eating then you may want to prioritize getting at least some form of protein in, but if you are even eating 3 protein meals a day this shouldn’t even be an issue since you will already have a good supply of amino acids already in you. The other thing to consider is when dieting and reaching low levels of body fat, a post workout meal can help you come back to life after a tough workout. I think timing is important for performance reasons. If we look at a lot of the research on nutrient timing, so much of it is done acutely and doesn’t always look at the long term. Studies that do examine long term results of post workout nutrition generally don’t show a difference in hypertrophy when total macro nutrition is consistent between groups. For most people, anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on the meal is good for a preworkout meal in terms of optimizing performance and simply eating at some point reasonably after your workout is sufficient. Shorting the window while dieting can ease any concern, but it certainly shouldn’t be stressed over as stress will cause more damage than getting your meal in 30 minutes later than planned. Lastly I’d like to add, intra workout carbs can make a great difference in terms of performance, especially when dieting.
I’m with you 100% on that one.
Mike, I would like to thank you again for the incredibly detailed answers you’ve given, and I would also like to personally thank
you for the help over the years. I hope we can get you on here again at a later date to break down a few more questions the
readers might have. In case anyone missed it, Mike’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org and can also be found on Facebook under Mike Schaid.
It’s been my pleasure. I really think you and your team are doing great things. I’d be more than happy to help in any way that I can. Thank you for the opportunity to talk a little too much.