The Paleo Solution – Episode 94

Performance Menu: Journal of Health & Athletic Excellence

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With John Welbourn

1. Power, Strength or Hypertrophy
2. Building Muscle
3. No Such Thing as Overtraining
4. Conjugate Method and O-lifting
5. Back Squats Have Given Me Radiation!
6. Weight Gain and Ketosis


1. Power, Strength or Hypertrophy

Gareth Says: Hi Guys, Love the podcast and I’m really enjoying the input of Greg in the new series.

I’m 75kg, reasonably lean, 80/20 paleo, fit and strong-ish.  Any progress has really stalled for me for a long time now.  My goals are to get strong and powerful.  I used to do CrossFit fulltime but I have been focused on strength and speed this past year.  I went through 5 cycles of Wendler with some gains on my already strong lifts (deads and squats) while my press and really didn’t improve much at all.  I’ve always been strong in the legs and butt but weaker up top.  I have made good progress in pullup strength but anything press related I seem to get nowhere!

I’m now cycling into more of a Westside type gig where I’m doing max loads (i.e. 1RM, 3×3, 5×3, 3×5, 5×5) and speed work.

My main question is where does hypertrophy work come in, is it important and is it vital to increasing strength and power?  While I want to look good naked (we all do) I’m not willing to work on hypertrophy if it’s not going to result in strength/power gains.  So are the assistance exercises I was doing on Wendler a good idea?  Or should I be focusing on other things?  I’m worried that I’m going to remain a 75kg, averagely strong dude forever!  I put so much work into it that I feel my efforts aren’t targeted enough.


2. Building Muscle

Ty Says: Love the Podcast I’ve listened to them all some twice.  Greg is a great addition.

I just finished a great Olympic weightlifting seminar hosted by the amazing Greg Everett.  I wanted to give him a shout out and the recognition he deserves.  I learned a ton from Greg and his staff and feel that I now have a great foundation to build upon.  After the seminar I couldn’t wait to get back to my gym and show the people that I work out with how much I had improved.  Before the seminar I could only “squat clean” a 16Lb medicine ball.  Now thanks to Greg I’m Squat cleaning the 20Lb ball with perfect form.  The people at my CrossFit gym are blown away by my SQUAT CLEANS AND SQUAT SNATCHES  so glad that now I know the difference between a snatch and a squat snatch and a clean and a squat clean!!!!!!  Thanks for the help Greg!!!  Oh yeah thanks for showing me how to low back squat too.

Great seminar.  I learned more in 2 days than I’ve learned in a year of trying to do these lifts.  Can’t wait to start throwing around a shit ton of weight.

I’ve been doing crossfit not at a bad gym (our coaches care about us) for about 1 year now and have been eating about 90-100% paleo for that time.  I’ve done 2 30 day challenges during that time and have dropped my weight from an unhealthy 220 to 190 at 5-11.  Waist size has gone from 38in to 32in.  Still no 6pack but who cares right?  I have a 4 pack and am starting to see some riblet things too.

I would like to put some weight back on and build some more muscle but I don’t want to put on a lot of fat.  I know doesn’t everybody.  Just wondering how well it would work to still eat super clean and add some milk/cheese.  I never really took the cheese out of my diet entirely and don’t have any reactions to dairy.  If I do add more dairy how much should I add? Gallon a day?  The reason for this question is I’m not seeing as many gains as I used to in my lifts and I feel like I’m getting scrawny.  I don’t need to be 70’s big or anything and I still need to be able to move fairly quickly not just for crossfit but also for my job as a Police Officer and SWAT operator.  10 LBS would be fine.  I work out 5 days a week. 3 days I’m doing a Wendler lifting cycle with a short 5-10 min metcon.  1-2 days are longer 15-20 min Metcons and usually one day of OLY Lifting.  I really want to maintain my capacity but get a little bigger.  I don’t weigh and measure just eat till I’m full.

Sorry if this is a little scattered I just got back from OLY Lifting my face off and am still in awe from watching Greg’s beasts throw around crazy weights.  Thanks for everything.


3. No Such Thing as Overtraining

Keith Says: I don’t know if either of you have heard of John Broz. He’s an Oly lifting coach out in Los Vegas that trained with Antonio Krastev. He’s got a lot of really strong athletes, including Pat Mendes, who may be the first American Olympic champion in many years.

Broz has a youtube channel called BROZKNOWS, in case you or any listeners want to watch their videos. Be sure to watch Pat’s videos, if you do! Insane.

Anyway, I’d just like to know what the two of you think of this post on John Broz’s website:

It’d be interesting to hear your takes on this, since Greg is an Oly coach and Robb is a Biochemist.

John Broz is of the opinion that there is no such thing as overtraining, relating weightlifting to being a garbage man. If you were sore after your first day as a garbage man, you wouldn’t call in, you would still go to work and suck it up. Same with weightlifting, apparently. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that Oly lifting is primarily concentric lifting. But, then again, he has his athletes squat to max everyday, then do working sets of doubles/triples.


4. Conjugate Method and O-lifting

Tony Says: Greg (and Robb is you want to chime in),

What are your thoughts on Louie Simmons’ “Conjugate Method” and how it applies to O-lifting? I feel like I am at a plateau right now. I just started concentrating on O-lifting as my primary focus instead of CrossFit. I immediately had some major increases. At a body weight of about 175 I went from a snatch of 155 to 185 and a C&J of 215 to 250 in just a couple months. But I feel stuck at these weights now. I’ve been struggling to get 195 in the snatch for a couple weeks and to tell you the truth I don’t get 250 over my head EVERY time. I was following your “Classic Cycle” and I just switched over to your “Strength Cycle” from the Catalyst archives in hopes of shaking things up; avoiding “accommodation” if will a la Louie Simmons. I just stumbled upon this Conjugate Method stuff via the CrossFit Journal and found it interesting. I am about a third of the way through your book and plan to purchase the DVD. I’m loving it so far and have learned a lot! I have never been coached in the O-lifts and am appreciating the technical insights into the lifts. In other words, what are the best strategies to continue to make improvements in the olympic lifts without leveling off or “accommodating?”

PS – I had deer heart for dinner last night – it was fantastic!


5. Back Squats Have Given Me Radiation!

Ben Says: Hopefully the subject line got greg’s attention, here goes:

I do backsquats for 3 working sets of 5 reps each. Poundages are increasing no problems. Loving the results. Feel great, looking good, etc. I do have a problem though:

Increasingly after each working set I develop a progressively worsening pain down my left arm. It begins at about the shoulder area and radiates down to the midforearm/wrist area.

I often describe the discomfort as “hot.” Or kind of like an electrical stimulation. It is painful but its not straight pain. Hard to describe. I’ve googled it and indeed there seem to be many on Tnation forums and elsewhere who experience something similar. I do many stretches to perhaps alleviate it but it sure enough it always returns.

After the backsquats are done it slowly fades away. Within about 2 hours or so it is essentially gone. I backsquat Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. By the time I backsquat next I am always back at 100% but then of course it begins to set in with every session. Recently though the pain has lingered after my workout is fully done and even overnight while sleeping.

Anything you could recommend to alleviate this seemingly somewhat common problem? I know this isn’t directly paleo-related but with Ripp’s popularity, Crossfit, etc I figure there are a lot of listeners back squatting. Your podcast is rad.


6. Weight Gain and Ketosis

Greg Says: Whatsup Greg and Robb, Im 6’1, 180 and have been lifting for about 4 years. After years of being a skinny bitch, I decided to get serious about lifting. My first year I was doing the bodybuilding split – you can guess how that turned out. I might have gained 5 pounds. I then began doing 3 of 4 day a week splits consisting of incline bench with dumbbells, press, squat, dead.I haven’t heard anyone call me “skinny” in about 2 years now, which is great because in high school I heard comments all the time about how skinny I was (I was the qb on my football team and was pretty embarassed with how I looked in football pants and Im not talking about between the legs, my legs in general are what was embarassing)

I made some progress off the squat, press dead and bench program but am still not where I wanna be. I have been paleo for about a year and remember when Mat LaLonde said a ketogenic diet is good for mass gain. This seems to be the opposite of what I’ve always heard which is carbs will help put on weight. What are both of your thoughts on a ketogenic diet for someone trying to gain weight. I plan on eating a ton of beef, eggs, bacon, coconut products, avocados, etc. I dont wanna get too crazy with milk because the gallon of milk a day thing just seems like an obvious health risk.

Love the podcast

Thanks guys, have a bitchin summer

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Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


  1. Chris S says

    Great post! Lots of good information in there. I was wondering, with regard to the first question, how would conditioning fit into John’s suggested program? Maybe two or three short metcons or sprint sessions per week? Thanks and keep the podcasts coming!

  2. Dan says

    During the discussion on healthy muscle gains it was mentioned that regardless of caloric intake, one has to be hormonally in sync in order to see the benefits of the added calories. A reference to waking up with “morning wood” came up, and just for safety’s sake I wanted to get your clarification as to whether or not this is a positive indicator of healthy testosterone levels? I’m assuming it is, but figured it was worth asking.

    • Chris says

      Dan: Yes it is a positive indicator. Its considered a “poor man’s testosterone test.” As Coach Poliquin said in an article one time “if you wake up and have to do a handstand to take a piss – then your test levels are good.” Its an easy way to judge but there are other factors involved like sleep cycles, age, etc.

      • Doug says

        So you’re saying that if I don’t wake up with a stiffy every morning, that my testosterone is low? I’m being serious :)

        • Chris says

          There are some other side factors like I said. If you have an always-changing sleep cycle you can throw the wood off (pun intended). Sometimes you will have the “indicator” and it will turn off 30mins before waking. I dont know what the exact conclusion of that is. I have noticed, if sleep schedule is off, I will wake up before my alarm, tent pitched, then when alarm sounds – no tent. I think erections in general can be indications of low or high test levels. Naturally men should become aroused throughout the day at different times. I believe T is at its highest around 2pm. Its funny because most women probably dont know that several times throughout the night their mate will be “up” unbeknownst to both parties.

  3. Danielle Mateyka says

    I am a relatively new listener to your podcast and website. I have a question for your podcast. I have been eating Paleo for about 5 months without knowing it was called Paleo. I love the way I feel and have already lost over 35 pounds and am looking to drop about 20 more. I am losing about 1-3 pounds a week. I am interested to know what your take is on Greens Powders. For what its worth I take a brand called VitaMineral Green. I started using green powders when I was on my raw vegan kick :( I usually take a heaping tablespoon of the powder in water before breakfast. Its packed with probiotics so this is the real reason I have continued taking it. Any thoughts.

    • Chris says

      I dont know what Robbs take is going to be but from my own experience with superfoods and products of the like they can contain a lot of really good, compact things in them but a lot of the products on the shelves cost an oodle and have other things in them that can cause problems. Certain brands will use grain-esque products and millets, rice bran etc for intestinal cleaning – some people may have problems with such ingredients. Also, and my biggest issue with them, is a lot of them contain soy. You have to really look through the ingredients – some of the herbs that are contained within the product can also cause different problems like hormonal, mood etc. Just be careful with what you buy and of course try to eat whole foods more than something that comes in a can.

      • Danielle Mateyka says

        Thanks Chris. I agree that the powders are pretty spendy. The brand I use doesn’t have any grains or soy products. I was just concerned about the carb load. If I take a step back like Robb says and evaluate how I feel and the progress I’m making, then I would say the powders are fine. Thanks for your response.

  4. Lauren says

    I’m not sure if I’m missing something…but was question 7 answered? If yall ran out of time, could it be tabled for the next podcast? I was pretty interested to hear what you guys had to say on the subject.



  5. says

    To add to Robb and John’s comments re Gareth. Confirm that you can get into the proper overhead position. Any loading scheme is dependent on proper position. It is always better to have a PT or a qualified trainer look at your position, but a quick test is to put your heels, butt, shoulders, head against a wall. Now try to put your hands over your head, in pressing position, making sure that your elbows are fully extended. If your lower back moves further away from the wall or your elbows bend or you can’t fully open your shoulders, work shoulder mobility first, before you change programs. If your totals go up, then you know you have a mobility issue, not a programming issue. If changes don’t happen in a few weeks then you probably have a programming issue. Check out for ideas on how to mobilize your shoulder and thoracic spine.

    I agree with Robb’s call re impingement on #5 (Ben). KStarr had a great post on mobilizing the shoulder when he visited the TP HQ a few weeks ago. Can’t find it now, time for classes…

    • DebiPT says

      Just a word of advice from a PT… make sure it’s not the neck also. The dermatome associated with C5-6 nerve runs down to the outer forearm. Some neck positions, especially if you are placing a bar on your neck/upper back, can cause stress or impingement on the nerve roots and/or disc. Please check with a PT or physician if you’re not getting better from having someone look at your posture/body mechanics while performing this exercise!

  6. Ryan says

    Great podcast, always love the guest interviews and training based podcasts, best of both worlds! Would be awesome to hear greg’s thoughts on some of these questions next podcast, especially in regards to broz etc.

    Also, any estimate for when your wife’s podcast on running a gym/being a personal trainer will be done?


  7. cjt says

    Hi Robb/John, thanks for a great podcast.

    In response to question two, John advocates using BCAAs – just curious what the preferred dosage and timing of it is – simply consume with meals? I’ve used BCAAs in a Leangains fashion (as I eat just twice a day) pre and post workout (5/3/1, hill running), usually just 5-10 grams. Is this appropriate or can it be optimized further?


      • cjt says

        Thanks for the response Robb. The Paleo Solution is actually due to arrive by mail soon, really looking forward to it. Thanks for all the podcasts and web material so far!

      • Renee says

        Hi Robb,

        I was wondering about the BCAA’s and Leucine that John mentions – Would one take both of these or just BCAA’s that include Leucine ? I’ve seen both at the store i.e. either BCAA’s or Leucine on it’s own ? Any benefit in taking a does of each?


  8. Trevor says

    Question #5
    The arm position in the squat mimics (not exactly but closely) the ulnar nerve tension test as described in “Clinical NeuroDynamics” by Shacklock. Tension on the ulnar nerve or adhesions in the dural sheath would for sure cause pain or sensation in the C8 dermatomal distribution (fingers 4 and 5)when put in this position. Find a chiro or pt who is well versed in nerve flossing with progression to nerve tension and they may be able to clear it up in a few visits. Best of luck!

  9. Jeremiah says

    Wow, thanks for mentioning the numbness. For the past couple days, the side of my hand, pinky, and ring finger has been numb. At first I thought it was from overuse (I sit at a computer for about 10 hours a day). I’m trying to get proper form a la SS, but not always easy to self diagnosis. Sounds like mobility work is the answer.

  10. Scott says


    Lets say someone with low testosterone uses hormone replacement to get testosterone back to physiologic levels but does not address an underlying cortisol issue. Would you expect that person to lean out if they were overweight or would you expect them to still struggle to drop the weight and put on muscle. Does cortisol trump testosterone at physiologic levels? My observations would say yes but was interested in your thoughts.


    P.S. Gave a patient the advice of removing sugar, grains and dairy from the diet and eat meat and veggies. Back for 3 month follow up with 30 lbs of weight loss and felling dizzy when standing up. I got to take him OFF two BP meds. He hadn’t been to the lab yet but I’m eager to see the results. Guess what, this stuff works!

    • Chris says

      To throw out my 0.02 Scott it sounds like someone is trying to fix 2 different problems with one solution. There is a masking of one problem by use of hormonal rebalance and or manipulation but nothing to fix the other. Whatever is causing the cortisol problem albeit, stress, sleep, over training etc would need to be addressed seperately regardless. The person may lean out because of the increase in test (with hopefully no other increase in other alternate hormones) but still may hold fat in “target” areas. Cortisol will cause you to become less insulin sensitive and so the person may still hold on to fat despite increase in T.
      Why would someone go on TRT without trying to correct the hormonal imbalance firstly? Just a question. Some people start feeling not so alpha male, go get a blood test and or see a longevity Doc, and are told they have low test and look by golly here is the cure for your low test: test. But just adding in test may not fix the problem and can further complicate an already bad situation. What is causing the low test in the 1st place? Have other avenues been walked down to possibly correct the problem?
      Hope this helps.

      • Scott says


        Sorry I couldn’t reply directly to your comment. is filter out as a dangerous blog site at the hospital I’m working in today. But, thanks for the reply.

        I was thinking about my question and realized it probably has less to do with cortisol per se. and more with insulin resistance. You had a the same thought. There are lean old guys and obese teen males. Testosterone is going to be different for sure. Maybe, cortisol is different but we know insulin resistance is present in the obese teen.

        It’s “easy” to start hormone replacement to many physicians and patients for that matter. Wear a patch, rub on some cream and you will feel better. You won’t thrive or reach your best but you will feel better. I am product of the allopathic machine that produces most of the physicians world wide. We are taught about drugs and procedures. So you use what is familiar to treat. Osteopathic medicine is really going the same way. If the problem is too little “X” then lets get more “X” in the system by drugs or procedures. Telling a patient to get more sleep, eat right (and not the crap diet you’ve been told to eat for years and Dr. Oz tells you to eat every day on TV) and lift some heavy weights would get you no where with most patients. Most patients wouldn’t come back. If your a specialist, your referrals would start dwindling. The system is broken. The people with medical problems and search out different ways are the most motivated 1-2% of all patients. There may be another 20% who would listen and try a new way. The majority just wouldn’t listen either because they wouldn’t trust the new information or it’s too hard. It’s really not their fault the system is broken. Better get off this soap box….


  11. Rob says

    Great podcast guys. You mention working with a strength coach, and then following an initial session with month sessions. Any recommendations on how to find a good coach? I live in the Pasadena area.


  12. Mike says

    Good afternoon Mr. Wolf,

    First time checking out the Podcast and I love it. I’ll be checking in much more. Just have a question or two about the T levels for you and anyone else that wants to jump in. I’m a chubby (5’9/215lb) 36 year old male and I do not get erections in the morning…ever. I also usually get only 6-7 hours of sleep per night. Now, I know that I have to tackle first things first. Sleep, nutrition and training. I’m on day 5 of the Whole 30 program and am finally past the headaches etc, I just started the Starting Strength program with chins for assistance work and I’m working on getting in the proper amount of sleep. So… sleeping, eating and lifting heavy things is in the works. Now for my questions.

    1. Should I give my lifestyle changes time to do their work before I get my T levels checked or should I hit the test A.S.A.P.? I definitely don’t want to to work against myself as you guys had mentioned.

    2. Which type of Doc. should I see to get the test done? Just a basic primary care Doc.? I’m curious as I’m guessing that their 1st response will be to write a prescription which I would like to avoid unless absolutely necessary.

    3. What are some other specialists that can be seen for T levels, and what are some natural ways to boost T levels aside from the fundamentals that I already mentioned?

    I’m looking forward to the responses and info. I greatly appreciate it.

    • Chris says

      Hey Mike!
      Im just going to chime in here because I have been doing heavy amounts of research on hormones for years now and I am quite familiar with these problems and issues in both males and females. sorry to hear about the low T. Do you have any other low T issues/symptoms? Just because you arent waking up “happy” doesnt mean that you have low T but could mean that your levels are not optimal at your current standing. There could be other factors outside eat, sleep, train – that are causing problems as well. To answer your questions IMO:

      1)Absolutely give it time. I know when you read things like this you go “ok I have that problem, yeah I have low T, Im not feeling like that crazy teenager I used to be 10 years ago….So if I have low T all I need to fix the problem is more T!! Brillant!” Somethings dont work out that way though and some paths you dont need to take at all. A lot of books are written about naturally correcting hormones through diet. I would exhaust this avenue before trying to walk down another one. See if you balance out by becoming a healthier human.

      2) My recommendation because I have seen both and all kinds of Docs regarding hormones is: go see your regular Doc and get a full hormonal panel done. If you dont know what this entails let me know and I will write it out for you. Once you get everything on paper, safely assume that any person with a degree wont know jack shit about what they are talking about. I have so many testimonals about this including my own. If your Doc is a female you will have better chances of figuring things by talking to the wall. (sorry ladies but just like we dont “get” child birth you wont “get” low T issues). Once you have the test results you can either post them here, ask robb, get an opinion from your doc or an opinion from someone else. More than likely your Doc will tell you you are fine and this is all natural and a part of aging. Any life span doc will tell you usually you need to be on T yesterday and youre dying (through my experience.)

      3)Certain Endo’s can be seen but you have to hunt out ones that arent just Diabetes professionals. TRT or HRT docs can be looked for as well. natural ways are not something that will correct the problem if there are other life style factors causing the problem. If you are having your T stolen by your E levels because of X….adding more T so it can be stolen by E is just going to make matters worse.

      I hope this helps. let me know if you have any other questions/confusions. Coach Wolf if im wrong on anything please tell me to shut it.

      • Mike says


        Thank you for the response and the info. I don’t think I really have any other issues other than not having a flag pole in the morning so perhaps the levels are just not optimal as you stated. I definitely don’t want to dive in and get a prescription for anything which is why I was asking about the right doc. to see. I’m not looking for a 5 minute consultation and a ‘scrip. I have a regular check up coming with a male doc. so I’ll go ahead and get the test done and just really focus on becoming a “healthier human.” Anyways brother… thanks again for the help.

        – Mike

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