Body By Science Contributor, Ryan Hall – How To Train Specifically For Your Genetics And How Genetic Traits Determine Exercise Results

Ryan Hall training client
Ryan Hall training client on the MedX Torso Rotation

Ryan A. Hall, BS, MS, Exercise Physiology, Certified Master Trainer, and major partner in Exercise Science, LLC has over 25 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. Ryan’s Exercise and Genetic Variability Lecture formed the basis of Chapter 8The Genetic Factor in Body By Science by Dr Doug McGuff and John Little. He also contributed to Chapter 3: The Dose/Response Relationship of Exercise.

Ryan is a two time winner of the Vane Wilson award from the University of New Orleans, Department of Human Performance and Health Promotion for making the largest contribution to the field post graduation. Furthermore, he’s a certified level I, level II, and Master SuperSlow® Trainer, making him one of only a handful of individuals throughout the world to have ever earned the title.

Contact Ryan here:

If you want to learn all about how genetics determine your workout results, you will love this!

In this episode we go deep! You will learn:

  • How genetics determine training outcomes
  • How to figure out the most effective training protocol for you and/or your clients
  • How and why different people respond to different training protocols
  • How to train someone who is extremely oxidative
  • And much more

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This episode is brought to you by Hituni.com, providers of the best online courses in high intensity training that come highly recommended by Dr. Doug McGuff and Discover Strength CEO, Luke Carlson. Course contributors include world class exercise experts like Drew Baye, Ellington Darden and Skyler Tanner. There are courses for both trainers and trainees. So even if you’re not a trainer but someone who practices HIT, this course can help you figure out how to improve your progress and get best results. Check out Hituni.com, add the course you want to your shopping cart and enter the coupon code ‘CW10’ to get 10% off your purchase!

For my FREE eBook with 6 podcast transcripts with guests like Dr Doug McGuff, Drew Baye and Skyler Tanner – Click here  😀

Show Notes

  • Ryan’s background [4:50]
  • How does Ryan attract older and re-hab populations to his facility? [8:20]
  • The reason for so many conflicting arguments in exercise science and Ryan’s exercise learning curve [11:59]
  • How genetics determine the outcomes of different training protocols [24:00]
  • How does Ryan figure out what training protocol is going to be most effective for his clients? [37:15]
  • How to figure out what training protocol is most effective for you [51:55]
  • How to train someone who is extremely oxidative and requires less resistance and more volume [1:04:45]
  • Is there evidence of “non-responders” with all training protocols? [1:08:50]
  • A closer look at the role of specific different genes in training outcomes [1:12:40]
  • What has Ryan changed his mind about in the last year regarding exercise? [1:24:50]
  • How to contact Ryan [1:30:30]

Selected Links from the Episode

People Mentioned

  • Gustaf Bodén

    One of my favourite episodes for sure, you gotta get Ryan back soon!

    • Hey Gustaf! Thanks. I really appreciate the comment. We recorded part two. I know Lawrence is really busy at the moment. Stay tuned. 👍

    • Currently moving country but working on getting Part 2 published in ~2 weeks. Watch this space!

  • Joas Haefliger

    That’s very interesting for sure, but even more confusing when to choose the kind of training to apply, so to me is trial and error, and figure out what works and what not.

    • I appreciate it can be confusing. You could probably tell how clueless I felt sometimes during the interview! That was one of the reasons I wanted Ryan on for a second time to help me get to grips with some of this stuff. Trail and error works well too 😀

  • ad ligtvoet

    A very good interview. 2 Weeks till next podcast……..something to look foreward to.
    Guess the specifics of the excentric phase of a movement and it’s influence on growth stimulating will be part of it (in combination with ATP availability reduction)?

    • Ad, yes we spoke about this in part two.

      • ad ligtvoet

        Connecting dots, atleast that’s what I get from reading/listening. Knowing and experience are both needed. Thank you both for ‘helping’ out………

        • Thank you for your continued support Ad.

  • Ralph Hollandsworth

    Wow… third time through and still learning something… light bulb moment when Mr. Hall mentioned his experience. I couldn’t figure out why my reps and time under load were nearly the same even with 30 pounds added. Also, the metabolic response as he described is what I typically experience. My heart rate is going through the roof and when I attempted to add volume per the Ted Harrison pod cast just totally wiped me out… Now I have a better clue as to the possible reason why… please pass on my thanks to Mr. Hall for his time, and for your effort in seeking out the best of the best… No newbie to exercise, 22 years special ops type, plus too many years as a chronic cardio junkie (now paying the price).

    • Loved this comment! Thanks Ralph. It’s great that someone as experienced as you still got a lot out of this episode. 3 times?! Haha – that is amazing. Watch this space for Part 2 😀

    • Hey Ralph! I’m glad you got something out of it. It sounds like you swing more heavily to the glycolytic end of the spectrum. It sounds like lower volume, lower TUL, HIT is perfect for you. Let me know how you progress. Take care.

  • Ricky Morris

    Lawrence,

    This is great. I’ve been meaning to ask you to interview Ryan Hall for quite some time, but would always forget in my email exchanges with you! Thank you so much! When is part 2 going to be uploaded and sent out??

    • Ricky Morris

      Oops! I see now you already said part 2 will be out in 2 more weeks… I am wondering about the 80

      • Hi Ricky, what do you mean regarding the 80? What is this?

        • Ricky Morris

          I’m sorry, Lawrence! I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that really, but I think my question was maybe actually for Ryan, and I was trying to understand how to apply the 80 percent of one rep max test correctly. I am assuming it must be the one rep max at super slow speed, and that then whatever TUL is performed using 80 percent of that is about just roughly where one should stay around for best results most likely? Is my understanding here correct…?

  • Stuart Gilbert

    A great podcast. I learnt so much. Looking forward to the next one.
    I myself think that I am somewhere in the middle of the glycolitic and oxidative ends of the spectrum, but certainly leaning more towards the oxidative end. I’ve being employing higher rep sets in the last few years ( up to 25 reps ,upper and lower body, for single sets to failure, at a regularish, but smooth rep cadence ). When I go up in weight after reaching 25 reps< I can generally get 18 reps with the new weight. I also like to do about 5 short sprints, < 8 seconds on one of my training days, but I don't achieve my best sprint performance till my second or third rep, even after a 20 minute warm up.
    I've also found that from muscle group to muscle group, my position on the spectrum between the two ends seems to differ. If I perform a set to failure, then I perform another to failure after a minute's rest, then I can get closer to my first set's performance on exercises like chin ups, than I can on exercises like tricep pushdowns. Indicating at least to me, that certain muscle groups are different in their make up than others. I wonder if Ryan would concur with this? Or if not, suggest why I am mistaken.
    Also I'm no sprinter, but I'm no slouch either. Saying that I doubt I'd be the best Marathon runner or long endurance athlete, ( when I did run, years ago, I got bored beyond 10 kms ), but what I've found is that I was good at repeated hard efforts over a period of time, as in a game of soccer. This, again, after listening to Ryan, indicates to me that I am somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, as are most people. Would I be correct in this thinking? Is a good performance level in a certain sport, eg sprints, distance events, team sports like soccer, basketball, a decent indicator of where a person may lie on the spectrum?
    I'm just wondering how Ryan would explain, based on his podcast, an individual like Richard Winett. Extremely strong, especially on exercises like squats, ( but has commented that the small size of his legs belies their strength ) for his size and weight, categorizes himself as a "natural" sprinter, yet trains on an upper / lower body split 4 to 6 times a week, with 5 minute GXP, HIIT sessions added to his lower body days. He has often commented in "Master Trainer" about his excellent recovery ability. Clarence Bass seems a fairly cut and dry glycolitic type, hence why he has naturally gravitated to only one weight and HIIT session per week, feeling that he best recovers from that. also he has stated, in the latest post on his website that his favourite HIIT duration for a set is 30 seconds, and would find a 4 minutes interval set absolute torture. Myself I seem to do okay at both. But where would Ryan see someone like Richard on the spectrum?

    • Stuart,

      You have given me much to read and comment. LOL. It may take me a while to answer fully. Yes, most subjects lie between plus and minus one standard deviation from the mean. Due to inherent degree of plasticity in skeletal muscle, there is a range of adaptation. Individuals in the middle of the glycolytic-oxidative spectrum will enjoy a wider range of adaptability. Yes, some muscles are inherently more glycolytic, where others are more oxidative. Anti-gravity muscles, like the soleus, are more oxidative, whereas the tibialis anterior are more glycolytic. Natural variation exists.

    • Stuart, all good questions. There are many other genes that affect the amount of microtrauma (mechanical damage) an individual will experience after a workout, the severity of the inflammatory response (biochemical damage), remodeling of protein, collagen synthesis, and several other factors besides fiber type distribution that. I didn’t want to get too totally geeked out on Lawrence. Thus, I only chose to focus on a few genes and discuss observable fatigue responses. This would give listeners the ability to experiment with something, without needing a DNA test. If you want to dig further into the research literature for some of the other genes and how they function, you may want to Google the following: ACTN3, muscle CK-encoding gene, interleukin-1 cytokines and IL-1 receptor, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), chemokine ligand 2, chemokine receptor type 2, osteopontin, IGF-I, IGF-II, ACE, AGT, mitochondrial superoxide dismutase, and several others.

      I wouldn’t be able to begin to classify Richard Winett without some sort of DNA test like DNAfit. If he is strong, fast, yet recovers fairly quickly from training, my guess is that he has a genetic profile that allows him to have a blunted response to exercise induced microtrauma, has a blunted inflammatory response, and has a strong protein and collagen synthetic response. Some guys just have all the luck when the genetic deck of cards were dealt. Over the next several months, I plan to collect a number of DNA test, probably from DNAfit, hoping to observe whether or not a correlation exists between specifics genes and fatigue responses / recovery ability. I am also waiting on the arrival of a new tool that is yet to hit the market, which will allow me to more accurately test fatigue responses in the lumbar extensors.

      • Stuart Gilbert

        Ryan…I know that you are a busy man, and I greatly appreciate the time you took to give me these detailed answers to my questions.
        Thank you very much.

  • Stuart Gilbert

    Sorry..forgot…just to put things into context…I have had far better results with higher reps (making progress, most, if not every session on practically all my exercises) than I ever did with low to medium reps, where I reached plateaus much quicker. Also I seem to make faster results in my cardio training than in my weight training, despite being less than brilliant at either…

    • Stuart, in science, experimentation trumps all. If you are getting better results from a higher rep / increased TUL protocol, I would recommend continuing to use that protocol.

  • Stuart Gilbert

    My earlier comment seems to have disappeared (probably too long…so I’ll repeat and try to shorten it )
    I really enjoyed this podcast, and it seems to have confirmed a lot of what I’ve suspected for a while. I like the focus on the genetic aspect, as I’ve long since seen this as the main reason behind the level of success from a training program, rather than the program itself. There are many however who seem to think that it is their “effort” and programming that is the key to training success, not their genetics. Heck, how many training programs and “secrets” have been sold on that premise alone. I am of the opinion that many superior athletes are made in spite of their training programs, and not because of them. It’s just a case of finding the style of training that best suits your specific abilities, applying effort and then letting the chips fall where they may.
    Myself, I suspect that I am one of the masses who fall somewhere in the middle of the glycolitic / oxidative ends of the spectrum. I’ve tried lower / medium rep sets, but tend to plateau fairly quickly with them, plateauing sooner the lower the rep count is. But for the past few years, after reading stuff by Richard Winett, I’ve tried higher rep sets. If I do single sets I do up to 25 reps for upper body and as high as 35 for lower body ( although not always ) for smooth but fairly standard cadence reps, taking anywhere from 90 to 120+ seconds a set. I slightly lean towards the oxidative end of the spectrum I feel as when I reach 25 reps and increase the weight next time, I tend to be only able to make 18 reps or so, and then have to work back up to 25.
    Also when I do some short sprints as part of my training I tend to be able to produce my best effort only on my 2nd or 3rd effort out of five, never on my first, even after an extensive warm up. A lot of what Ryan was saying tended to answer many unanswered questions that I’d had, tying up a lot of loose strings.

  • Stuart Gilbert

    Speaking of Richard Winett, I wondered where Ryan would place him on the glycolitic / oxidative spectrum? He has had a fair bit of success with both lower and higher rep sets / TUL’s, but due to increased inflammation after training as he has got older, has given up on lower rep sets. He is not very large, but some muscle groups are larger than others, but he seems very strong for his age and weight, especially on squats, despite in his own admission, having small legs, in terms of musculature. He refers to himself as more of a natural sprinter, rather than endurance guy, but does 5 minute GXP sessions ( HIIT ) on the bike as part of his lower body training days. Yet he can train at least 4 and up to 6 days a week on an upper / lower body split, and has commented that someone described him as a “recovery genius”.
    Clarence Bass seems to be a fairly cut and dried glycolitic type. An Olympic lifter in his earlier years, he has finally gravitated to just one resistance and HIIT session a week, as he feels that he best recovers from that. In his latest post on his website, he says that he would find a 4 minute long interval torturous, his ideal interval length being 30 seconds. (funnily enough I seem to well with both 30 seconds (although I prefer short rest periods ) and 4 minutes…and anything in between.
    Richard Winett and others like him, Dr Ken Leistner springs to mind also, seem to be a slight conundrum when thinking of the glycolitic / oxidative spectrum that Ryan hs spoken about on this podcast.

    • Stuart, see my response below, One addition is that older subjects experience more microtrauma, a more exaggerated inflammatory response, and slower protein and collagen synthesis. Hence as we age, we all need to decrease frequency, volume, etc.

  • shane

    like all of them this was a really informative interview. i was wondering what cadence you typically use and if the cadence of the repetition is changed with differing fiber types or just the repetitions alone? also, about the friend you had who was unresponsive to hit, knowing what you know now, do you believe he may have responded to hit better with less reps/heavier weight?
    thank you,
    shane