Skyler Tanner is an exercise physiologist with more than 18 years of one on one training experience. In addition to being co-owner of Smart Strength, he lectures for World Instructor Training Schools, teaching future personal trainers the nuances of exercise science in practice. His work has been featured on Fox and on the Prevention Magazine media network.
In addition to being a high-level fitness and nutrition coach for nearly two decades, Skyler holds a Masters in Exercise Science and has lectured at the Ancestral Health Symposium 2011, The 21 Convention, and Paleo FX. Skyler’s talk Strength Training and the Biomarkers of Aging has been featured on Peak Fitness by Dr. Mercola.
In this episode, we cover:
- Motivation, growing your business, and overcoming challenges
- Improving your health, avoiding injuries, and biomechanics
- How to lose weight and maintain your gains outside of the gym
- How Skyler deviates from classic HIT paradigms and why
- Using ARX Machines, barefoot running, basketball shoes, 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!
- What motivated Skyler to start Smart Strength? [4:37]
- Lawrence and Skyler talk about motivations and “doing things for the sake of doing things” [13:19]
- Skyler talks about his business goals and the rhyme and reason behind them [19:34]
- On FMS certification, risk stratification, and identifying client risks and injuries [22:52]
- Regarding “Wellness” clinics and the Placebo Effect [25:53]
- Skyler talks about bleeding edge movement therapists and the human nervous system [27:47]
- Why people go to wellness clinics, why the placebo effect works, and what food habits are [30:14]
- How does Skyler overcome challenges in business? [35:16]
- Skyler goes off on a tangent about Texas weather [40:17]
- One change that Skyler made for his business that got good results [42:22]
- The time when Lawrence went for a pint with James Steele, James Fisher, and Luke Carlson [45:32]
- On taking from academic literature and applying it to the personal training business [48:10]
- Skyler and Lawrence touch on Blood Flow Restriction Training (Kaatsu) [53:05]
- Does Skyler use ARX machines for everything? [55:59]
- What advantages do ARX machines provide in terms of generating results? [1:00:06]
- Skyler talks about measuring bone mineral density and age and inactivity as factors [1:07:46]
- What activities outside of the gym does Skyler recommend for weight loss? [1:09:09]
- Bill DeSimone asks Skyler Tanner what Skyler Tanner thinks of Bill DeSimone (and Skyler talks about biomechanics) [1:20:07]
- On exercise frequency, knee pain, sport shoes, and more about biomechanics [1:27:09]
- Lawrence and Skyler talk about basketball and barefoot shoes [1:31:17]
- Bill DeSimone asks Skyler about his thoughts on the Body Blade [1:34:58]
- Has Skyler deviated from classic HIT? Why? [1:40:40]
- Skyler talks about his diet, nutrition, and intermittent fasting [1:48:04]
- Can overfeeding/macronutrient imbalance be harmful for people with certain body types? [1:54:55]
Selected Links from the Episode
- Paleo f(x)
- ARX Machines
- Bodyblade (Amazon US / Amazon UK)
- FMS Certification Program
- The Placebo Effect (regarding a Study by Harvard’s Ted Kaptchuk)
- The Brain’s View of Anatomy by Lee Saxby
- Seven Countries Study
- Cretan Mediterranean diet for prevention of coronary heart disease
- Body by Science by Dr. Doug McGuff and John Little (Amazon US / Amazon UK)
- The role of muscle damage in hypertrophic responses
- Kaatsu (Blood Flow Restriction Training)
- Super Slow HIT
- Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about “the pump” (NSFW)
- Skyler Tanner’s Year of Bodyweight Training
- BBC Horizon – Why Are Thin People Not Fat?
- BBC Horizon – The Truth About Exercise
- Bosu Balance Trainer (Amazon US / Amazon UK)
- Brunnstrom’s Clinical Kinesiology (Amazon US / Amazon UK)
- Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe (Amazon US / Amazon UK)
- Vans Classic Slip-on (Amazon US / Amazon UK)
- VIVOBAREFOOT Shoes (Amazon US / Amazon UK)
- Congruent Exercise by Bill DeSimone (Amazon US / Amazon UK)
- Found My Fitness: Peter Attia, M.D. on Macronutrient Thresholds for Longevity and Performance, Cancer and More
- Prolonged sitting negatively affects the postprandial plasma triglyceride-lowering effect of acute exercise
- Greek Orthodox fasting rituals: a hidden characteristic of the Mediterranean diet of Crete
- Going barefoot: Strong ‘foot core’ could prevent plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and other common injuries
- Bill DeSimone (check out my interviews with Bill DeSimone here: part 1, and part 2)
- Lee Saxby
- Luke Carlson (see my previous interviews with Luke here: part 1, and part 2)
- James Bear Fisher (previous interviews with James are available here: part 1, and part 2)
- James Steele (check out my other interviews James here: part 1, part 2)
- Doug McGuff (see my interviews with Doug here: part 1, part 2, and part 3)
- Stuart Phillips
- David Landau (check out my interviews with David here: part 1, and part 2)
- Amelia Boone
- Ben Greenfield (check out my interview with Ben Greenfield here)
- Mark Rippetoe
- Adam Zickerman (check out my interview with Adam here)
- Drew Baye (check out my interviews with Drew here: part 1, and part 2)
- Mark Sisson (see my interview with Mark here)
- Peter Attia
- Valter Longo
- Art De Vany
- Martin Berkhan
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Q&A with Skyler Tanner:
- What is the proper role of classic HIT in a lifetime training program? In my opinion, HIT is the essential ingredient of a training program over a lifetime. If you’ve read my work for any period of time, you may have seen me quote Ken Wilbur: “Needleman once said that Zen was essential Buddhism, and that Tibetan Buddhism was complete Buddhism. That’s sort of what it is, Zen it goes right to the heart: Satori! This is it, satori! IF you don’t have satori, you don’t have Buddhism. But Tibetan is like the whole shebang. I mean it’s got every single aspect, vehicle, gross, subtle, causal, all sorts of practices.” HIT is to exercise as Zen is to Buddhism. If you want to be a fit human being, you need resistance training, of some volume, to fatigue, through congruent exercises. And with what you gain from that, go out into the world and be a better, healthier, more helpful human being.
- Do push-ups work the chest muscles as well as a chest press machine? (in a hypertrophy context) Yes, though you might find that for your specific leverage you’ll need to tinker with hand position to really “feel” the chest. Biomechanically the act of reaching in front of you must include your pecs, and the nature of a pushup being on your toes creates a slight arching that moves you away from impingement as you extend. I’ve also found that some clients with janky shoulders from old injuries tolerate pushups (and blast strap pushups) better and I suspect that’s due to the freedom of movement that the scapula enjoys compared to being pinned to a bench or machine.
- The number and complexity of studies available makes it difficult for one to follow research and find reliable data. Do you insist that one reads the whole study, as the abstract can often be misleading? Any advice on absorbing scientific literature on health and fitness in an effective way? I suggest that for those interested, they read the study body, arrive at their own conclusion from the data, and THEN look at how the researcher framed the result. You’ll often find that how they talk about the study in the abstract versus the actual data & discussion sections are very different indeed! I’ve come to think of the abstract as the book cover of a study: often filled with fanciful claims that, while perhaps somewhat true, are likely to be lacking the nuance of interpretation and contextualization that should come from the data presented.
- (From James Steele) Have you found that, anecdotally, your ability to tolerate discomfort has improved as a result of your foray into lower load body weight training again. Basically, has it made him you being a big girly girl and are you learning to enjoy the shit sandwich more? Context: it’s becoming increasingly clear that both low and high load exercise, within a certain range (e.g. a feather for a million reps isn’t the same as an anvil) can produce similar outcomes. However, it is also clear that different individuals can tolerate different loads better or worse from a “rating of perceived exertion” perspective. So, as I quipped, it’s really which shit-sandwich are you willing to eat on a regular basis? In doing the bodyweight training to failure, I found that exercises that are going to be “long” no matter what you do (bodyweight squats) accumulate significant metabolic discomfort. They’re not fun and the mental gymnastics I must use to get to failure are very different than the gymnastics to get to failure with the upper body (which is “easy” for me, contextually). At first it’s really not fun, but once I was able to experience just how uncomfortable I would ever be, I could better prepare mentally. So while I much prefer single leg bodyweight work to failure (my favorite is this exercise without all of the extra crap at the end), in a pinch I can park myself on the wall for 2+ minutes before doing 2 leg squats to failure.
- How have you successfully motivated friends and family to engage in strength training? Be the example for long enough. I’ve also found that not making a big deal of it when people ask is important. Often people will start talking about their training or diet when they find out you’re a trainer. I typically give somewhat generic answers to this people initially because they’re making conversation. If they follow up with the line of inquiry at a later date or otherwise show REAL interest (you’ll know) then I get a little more specific and invite them for a consultation. I think also being a “fitness guy” who isn’t a “fitness bro” is motivating because my message has always been that this is for the rest of your life. It makes life better, so let’s focus on getting those benefits instead of impressing your ego or some bro.