The Power of Suffering & Finding Happiness in the Struggle | Jesse O'Brien | Better Man Podcast Ep. 013

Working Through Mental Roadblocks & Creating Fitness Goals | Jesse O’Brien | Better Man Podcast Ep. 013

In this episode, I speak with my weight training coach, Jesse O’Brien of Central Athlete, about working through mental roadblocks and creating fitness goals. I started working with Jesse in December of 2020 when I realized I wanted to get serious about my strength training, and I can honestly say that I would not be anywhere close to where I am right now without his expert guidance.

Most of you know this already, but yoga wasn’t my first love. I grew up as an athlete, and my main training outside of sports practices and conditioning sessions was weights. After finding yoga and realizing wasn’t nearly as strong as I thought, I took a few years off of weight training to work on my mobility and correct muscular imbalances.

But a few years after giving up weights, I started to feel like I wasn’t “myself” anymore. The body I saw in the mirror wasn’t the body I pictured in my mind, and I decided to start weight training seriously again. Now I’m pretty solid when it comes to creating yoga programming, but weight training isn’t a topic in which I would consider myself an expert.

So I reached out to the best trainer I knew in the Austin area, and started working with him 1 on 1. That’s today’s guest, Jesse O’Brien.

If you want to hear more about my training over the last 1.5 years, listen in on this podcast. We cover:

  • Clarifying your motivation, and for me personally, why I didn’t really feel like myself and how lifting would help with that
  • Common misconceptions about nutrition and training that initially held me back
  • learning how to address your own personal fitness goals, rather than following general advice

Today, Jesse’s doing for other people what he did for me. His revolutionary company, Central Athlete, supports clients to lose weight, have more energy, and get stronger. More importantly, they support them in building a fitness lifestyle aligned with their deepest values, empowering them to lead a more fulfilling life.

The Better Man Podcast is an exploration of our health and well-being outside of our physical fitness, exploring and redefining what it means to be better as a man; being the best version of ourselves we can be, while adopting a more comprehensive understanding of our total health and wellness. I hope it inspires you to be better!

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Watch a Clip From Episode 013


Key Takeaways with Jesse O’Brien

  • Before training with Jesse, I had a 4.6% body fat percentage. Learn why it’s not always healthy to have such low body fat levels.
  • Why doing yoga for years set me up for success in my weightlifting journey.
  • How much muscle can you build during your first year of lifting weights, and how much if you’ve been strength training for years?
  • How Jesse pushed me to train harder and smarter and how that helped me gain clarity of what my body and mind are capable of.
  • Why Jesse believes that resistance training is the ultimate anti-aging medicine.
  • How I packed on two pounds of muscle in three months following Jesse’s training protocol. 
  • Finding your why is one of the most important discoveries you can have. Even when you’re trying to get stronger and fitter. 
  • Learn Jesse’s habits through which he pursues his path towards physical and mental mastery. 
  • Learn the seven primal movements everyone should do daily to be stronger and lead an active and healthy lifestyle.

Jesse O’Brien Notable Quotes

  • “Easy times create hard people. Hard times create easy people.” – Jesse O’Brien
  • From a general health perspective, I think that’s a big misconception, that the leaner you are, the healthier you are.” – Jesse O’Brien
  • I do believe that knowledge is incomplete when it’s only theoretical. You have to experience knowledge and apply knowledge for it to be truly synthesized and really applicable to other people.” – Jesse O’Brien
  • When I really thought about myself and who I was, and the body that I wanted to see when I looked in the mirror, it was somebody who weight lifted regularly, who trained like an athlete, who felt strong and capable. And I just didn’t feel that way when I wasn’t lifting weights.” – Dean Pohlman
Episode 013: Working Through Mental Roadblocks & Creating Fitness Goals | Jesse O'Brien – Transcript

Dean Pohlman: Hey, guys, what’s up? It’s Dean. Welcome to the Man Flow Yoga podcast. Today, I’m joined by Jesse O’Brien, the CEO/Founder of Central Athlete, and he also happens to be my coach. Welcome to the show, Jesse.

Jesse O’Brien: Hey, Dean. Thanks for having me.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, Jesse and I have a history going back to, I want to say, 2017 or 2018. We met at a health conference here in Austin. And Jesse told me that I have an unhealthily low body fat percentage, that I probably had lower testosterone and lower sex drive. And he did this all in front of his female counterpart, doing a very good job of humiliating me at a conference and telling me I wasn’t nearly as fit as I was. So, that was cool. And then you had to run away because you want a sauna, I think.

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, it was all planned ahead of time just to put you on the spot, make me look good.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Anyways, it took three years, but I eventually got fed up with my overall fitness level wanting to be a little bit more. I’ll get into that later, but Jesse became my coach in 2021, January. That’s when we started, that’s when we hashed out a program and got into all of that. But before that, we actually did do a few videos on YouTube that were basically podcasts, but I didn’t have a podcast platform.

So, we talked about a lot of the misconceptions that I had had just regarding fitness, regarding building muscle, regarding diet. And most of those, as we’re going to discuss, were kind of rooted in me just being surrounded and kind of living in fitness world, but only taking general fitness advice, which is aimed at people trying to lose weight and not so much aimed at people who are looking to build muscle and improve performance. Can you remember some of those topics we talked about in those videos?

Jesse O’Brien: I know we delved into nutrition a fair amount, but I can’t recall some of the specifics. I think it was rather kind of foundational nutritional prescriptions or kind of changes that we were advising, just having conversations around that.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, and I like how you say nutrition because by default, I kind of say diet. And then I have to correct myself and I say eating habits instead because you’re a coach, but I’m assuming, you have to go through kind of that reframing of, no, no, no, this isn’t temporary. This isn’t a do this until you reach goal X. This is something that you’re just going to do forever and you can break it. That’s fine, but yeah, reframing that word, like I said that.

And then we also talked about resistance training and building muscle and things that I do personally, but things that I’m not an expert in. Yeah, so we started back in January 2021. Can you remember some of the conversations that we had about getting started? And I can go back and forth to you on it, too, but I just want to know if you remember what we discussed.

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. Well, I think one of the initial things that I recall, one of the first times we talked in more of a coaching realm was you wanted to get back into the shape that you felt like you were in when you’re in your lacrosse collegiate days. And I think that was a pretty poignant thing to say that helped guide me in terms of how I thought about your training and where I wanted to drive some of the adaptations with the training program.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I’ve been doing man flow yoga for eight or nine years now. And through that time, I’ve mostly been doing yoga, but really, I started my fitness as an athlete, and weight training made up a significant portion of that. And I felt like this yoga-only workout version of me was just temporary. Like when I really thought about myself and who I was, and the body that I saw when I looked in the mirror, wanted to see, it was somebody who weightlifted regularly, who trained like an athlete, who felt strong and capable. And I just didn’t feel that way when I wasn’t lifting weights. And actually, when I met you and we did that assessment, I was at like 164 pounds. And the in-body assessment gave me a reading of 4.6% body fat.

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. Extremely lean.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And I remember I put that video out on YouTube and said, “I’m 4.6 body fat,” and everyone is like, “No, you’re not.” I’m like, “Oh, okay, whatever.” I mean, it’s not a brag. I’ve managed to keep myself in a caloric deficit so much and so frequently that I’m below what any human being should be for an extended period of time. Yeah, so can you do me a favor and just rehash some of the things that would come from having a low body fat percentage? And why it’s unhealthy and unsustainable?

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. I think that’s going to be an interesting thing because public perception is that the leaner you are, the more muscles you see, the more vascularity or veins that you’re seeing, the better, the healthier you are. And my argument for a lot of things is that there’s a balance point. We don’t want to be overfat and we don’t want to be underfat. Fat is actually an incredibly helpful and important thing. Fat is responsible for optimal hormonal production. It insulates our organs. It coats the myelin sheath, which is part of the nervous system that neural pathways travel along.

So, same thing with our immune system. Do we want a hyperactive immune system? Do we want a hypoactive immune system? Or do we want a balanced immune system? That’s why I believe language needs to be very, very precise. And when people say boost your immune system, I’m like, does the person with an autoimmune condition want to boost their immune system? Probably not. It’s already hyperactive.

And so, I think that segues very nicely into you and kind of where I saw you is that you had been living a certain way that had connected with a very, very, very lean body composition. And typically, I’m looking for two things. If I just have somebody who’s lean, okay, that’s one thing. But when I start to investigate, I ask questions like what is your motivation and drive like? How is your recovery? Tell me about maybe TMI, but guy should get morning wood, more mornings than not. We should have good sexual function.

Dean Pohlman: Horny, healthy, happy.

Jesse O’Brien: Absolutely. And those are subjective signs of wellness. And so, if somebody doesn’t have a lot of those subjective signs of wellness from a hormonal perspective and they’re super lean, he kind of question mark or the exclamation point kind of comes up, and it’s like, okay, well, maybe things are slightly out of balance. Now, if you are wanting to show up in a bikini for a figure competition, like, okay, not great for your health, but you’re going to maybe win that competition.

So, in that context, is it worth it? Maybe, maybe not. But from a general health perspective, I think that’s a big misconception, is that the leaner you are, the healthy you are. And when I’m looking at blood work, comprehensive labs for individuals, when I see those really, really lean people, I see a lot of issues more than you would normally think.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And I remember actually, you did this once. You leaned out and you got super lean. And I don’t know if you did it for a photo shoot or if you were doing it just to post a photo of you showing super lean and then saying this isn’t healthy, but you want to talk a little bit about that?

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. I mean, I’m always trying to use myself as a human guinea pig. And so, I’ve done everything from running marathons to ultramarathons. I’ve done a 262-mile endurance canoe race from the San Marcos River all the way down to the coast.

Dean Pohlman: That sounds absolutely terrible. That sounds horrible.

Jesse O’Brien: It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 100 hours of paddling. No sleep, four days, sleep deprivation. My partner, who was a type 1 diabetic, had to be pulled out of the race because he started hallucinating so bad and so disoriented. He took off all of his clothes, and they had to extract him out of the race, and I had to go in by myself.

So, I’ve always thought that my body, my brain, my physiology is kind of this proving ground. So, let me see what happens when I gained 30 pounds of muscle. Let me see what happens when a 6’1, I get down to 163 pounds once and very, very lean like yourself. I want to understand what it takes, not just physically, but also mentally. And then how do I feel?

I do believe that knowledge is incomplete when it’s only theoretical. You have to experience knowledge and apply knowledge for it to be truly synthesized and really applicable to other people. And so, yeah, I mean, man, it’s like what’s harder being in a long-term caloric deficit where you don’t like that all the weight is going to your chin and your love handles, like it does with me. Or is it really, really challenging to be living in a long-term deficit where you’re just obsessed about food? It’s all you think about is food, food, food, food, food, food, food. You are maniacal about food. And so, I’ve done these things to learn and to empathize and help guide people.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I remember when I was in that and I was in that space where I was probably 4.5% or 5% body fat, I was there for a long time, like I want to say probably two years. And I remember I would have a big breakfast and then if I hadn’t eaten by about 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock, I was just like my mind was on food. Like I needed food immediately. And I described that to people and I described it out of context, like, oh yeah, if you do this then, but at 4 o’clock, you’ll just be extremely hungry and irritable and won’t want to do anything but eat. And they’re like, “What? Why?”

And now knowing what I do, now knowing what I now know, now that makes sense. But before I hired you as a coach, before I thought about, okay, why am I just doing this to myself? I had a lot of resistance to hiring a coach because I just felt like it was inauthentic or I was like, I’m a fitness expert, why am I hiring a coach? And then I spoke with you on that, and you said, tell me what you said.

Jesse O’Brien: I have a coach as well.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, The Rock has a coach.

Jesse O’Brien: And part of the reason is not that we don’t have the knowledge to self-manage. We completely do have the knowledge, but part of the issue is that we have our own internal biases. These are things that work in a program that kind of lean into our strengths or things that we’re already good with, you know? And oftentimes, we’re either consciously unaware or unconsciously unaware of the things that we truly do need to work on. So, having a third party assess you and cultivate a plan in collaboration with you, I think is a very, very important aspect of reaching any sort of goal. That could be relational goals, that can be financial goals, and in this context is helpful.

So, I very much just believe in the framework or model of coaching clients, and not that there needs to be this kind of superiority and a hierarchical structure, more as a means to say, me as your coach, hey, I understand strength and conditioning. I’ve dedicated my life to it. But Dean, you know your goal, your hobbies, your interests, how much time do you want to commit to all this? So, let’s collaborate together. Let me do all the nitty-gritty stuff and provide structure and accountability and kind of push you, maybe 2% more than you would like to push yourself.

And I think there’s a really great value proposition for individuals there. And it’s the way that I prefer to train because I would never have myself do 36 sets of total training every single day, but my coach thought that was a wonderful idea to do for several months. And you know what? I had some really great experiences. It was horrendously tiring and tough work, but there’s a lot of benefit out of doing the things that we would never have done ourselves.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, that’s one huge reason why deciding to train with you was super beneficial because you gave me workouts that I would never have done myself. You upped the weight, and I looked at the weight, like I don’t know how I’m hoping, I’m honestly hoping that I’m on the higher end of the high maintenance requirement for one of your clients just because…

Jesse O’Brien: You don’t even scratch the surface, man.

Dean Pohlman: Really? I got to up my game because I will frequently take a screenshot of what you prescribed me, and then I’ll send you a message like, “Bro, WTF, what are you doing? What is this? You gave me eight sets of this,” especially when we were getting into the higher volume. And for those of you unfamiliar with weight training, volume just means more reps, more sets. And getting into those workouts where we’re just doing a lot of reps and a lot of sets, that was really tough, but I would never have prescribed that myself.

But the other part of that is I’m not a weightlifting expert. Do I know how to weightlift? I have basic knowledge. Am I a lot better now? Yes, I’m much better than when I started. Squats are better, deadlifts are better, overhead press is better, all the things are better just because Jesse programmed it in, and I was able to practice it, but I didn’t know what to prescribe myself. I would say, “Hey, Jesse, I’m getting this shoulder clicking. Would I do too much of this?” Or “Hey, I need more warmup because my shoulders just don’t feel warm yet.”

And the next week, you would give me a new exercise, and I’d say half to 75% of the time, it was what my body needed, and I would never have known what to prescribe myself because I just don’t have that specific knowledge. And thinking of all the things that I, as an entrepreneur and just how my head works, all the different things that I’m doing at any given time, like there’s no way that I would have had the headspace to be able to program myself. So, for a lot of reasons, it was really helpful.

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. And I think that touches on just time allocation. What’s time better spent for you? Is it going to be all the pursuits along the lines of man flow yoga and being really good and owning that? Or do you want to kind of spread yourself across the board and manage your own fitness, manage your own finances, manage all these different things? And I think it’s just a very personal question. I do believe that with my personal goals, I want to just lean into being an excellent strength and conditioning coach and health practitioner.

And I gobble up so much information. I’m constantly listening to podcasts, I’m attending seminars, I’ve got mentorship calls, and I automate and outsource a lot of the other things so that I can be really, really, really good at this one thing. And one day and time, I’d like to consider myself an expert or a master. And I feel like I’m 15 years in, I’m still in my infancy. I’m really recognizing how much I still have to learn. And so, it’s just a matter of like, how much time can I funnel into this pursuit? And I think there are some parallels to your case as well.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a great mindset to have. People sometimes call me a yoga guru on YouTube. I’m like, no. Like, I’m still very much studying and learning and just learning through my own experience, learning from other people, sharing their experiences. So, I mean, I think as soon as you start calling yourself the master, that’s when you’re like are you still learning at that point? And on outsourcing, if it wasn’t the pandemic and I had more money, I would outsource everything – laundry, making food, making dinners, having housework done, grocery shopping. Everything would just be outsourced. The only thing that I would do is man flow yoga and things that I really wanted to do. So, I’m all about outsourcing.

So, I’d like to touch on some of the things that I was doing wrong when we first had our conversation. And I think, again, I said this earlier, but the reason for this was because I was listening to mainstream health advice and I wasn’t listening to the specific tips or the specific information or practices that I needed for my goals. So, what were the things that I was doing wrong? And how do we go about correcting that?

Jesse O’Brien: So, I think the first one is hypervigilance. And so, what hypervigilance is, hypervigilance is this extreme attention to the body and these little tiny things. And I would put you in this camp of kind of like a movement practitioner. So, trying to move as well as much range of motion as possible.

And when you’re a movement practitioner, a lot of times I see people in your camp really get so into these nuances of like I’ve eccentrically extended my diaphragm and I can feel my big toe externally rotating 14 degrees, this extreme, not a tense thing. And I remember this exchange where you’ve been submitting videos and you’re like, hey, man, I really need…

Dean Pohlman: I was mad, I was like, “Hey, watch me. I want some feedback. I want you to look at me and analyze stuff.” And you’re like, “Hey, let’s have a talk.” Come to Jesus moment, yeah.

Jesse O’Brien: And I think a lot of that was, we all have these things. It’s like, oh, I notice a little shoulder thing or a little hip thing, a little knee thing. And when we’re hypervigilant, it kind of accentuates all of these little tiny things. We’re so aware of all these little tiny things. And so, your goal was to get stronger. And we developed a plan to really boost your strength, which I want to say you’re naturally gifted at. You call yourself a yogi, but you have a propensity to just get strong, my friend.

And so, you’re asking for more feedback. And I was essentially like, I don’t want to give you more feedback because I’m just going to play into this hypervigilance. I want you to just keep squatting and keep deadlifting and keep pressing and to keep working on your technique, but not to take it so extremely seriously. And at least from my perspective, you really took that to heart and faster than most people. I believe you knocked out a 395-pound squat within a very short amount of time. You pulled somewhere in the 400s, I think, on a deadlift.

Dean Pohlman: Not quite. I got 385 on a deadlift. I think I attempted to pull for 400, and it just didn’t lift off.

Jesse O’Brien: If I was screaming in your ear, you would have gone for higher. That’s all I remember in my head.

Dean Pohlman: If I was at the gym, oh, yeah, it would have happened. But yeah, in the office, not as motivating.

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. So, I think that’s one of the primary things. And actually, pain is such a complex issue. If it was as simple as like, oh, you have a herniated disk, that equals pain. Well, it’s not that complex, you can have a herniated disk and you can have no pain at all. Or you can have a herniated disk and have no pain. So, there’s a lot of complexity around pain.

And there are actually these three psychological traits that increase the perception of pain, hypervigilance, which is this extreme attention to detail with the body. Second one is low self-efficacy, which I see more often than not. So, say I’ve been to seven different doctors because I’m feeling fatigued or I feel this issue in a body and each doctor’s like I don’t see anything wrong. I think it’s kind of made up. I think it’s in your head. Low self-efficacy is like, oh, I don’t feel like anybody can help me. Nobody believes me. So, we felt very disempowered. And the last one is catastrophize, and this is probably one of the strongest ones. Somebody stabs her toe and they’re like, Happens again. I’ve ruined my entire week. I can’t train for three months. This always happens to me. What the heck?

Catastrophizing, hypervigilance, and low self-efficacy. And so, it’s my goal to say, hey, are these beliefs actually true? Are they actually serving your best interests? And of course, I’m doing this in my own, like, nuance kind of artistic way, but that’s essentially what I’m trying to do, is I’m trying to get the nervous system to relax and not care as much about all that information. Let’s just keep lifting and training, and if we need to iterate the process, yeah, totally cool.

But I see so many people will do something, and then something happens and they’re like, well, looks like squatting is not for me, obviously. And I’m like, well, maybe it was a bad day. Maybe you had a stressful night of sleep. It could be a lot of things. Let’s give it another shot. Let’s decrease load a little bit or maybe let’s do this little different variation. Or I want you to think about this one specific thing when you are squatting. There’s so much stuff that can be adjusted without just throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I mean, two things there. So, first off, my wife is a physical therapist. She’s done a ton of training. She’s a PT, DPT, OCS, which means she’s just done a lot of studying and she’s done a lot of training with pain science. And it really is fascinating because it’s not just caused by physical movement or it’s not caused by the physical. A lot of it has to do with stuff that’s going on in your head.

So, she’ll work with some people and she’ll like, you know what? PT just might not be for you because this is not something that PT can help. There’s something else going on, and it’s not in my skill set to train you with that. The second thing that is coming up for me was…

Jesse O’Brien: I was talking about hypervigilance, low self-efficacy, and catastrophizing and how those psychological traits.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. The second thing that came up for me was a lot of those things, especially the catastrophizing thing kind of what resonates with me with that statement is this idea that I came across in Mark Manson’s Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. And it’s not that the concept that he covered was the first time that was covered by anybody. It’s something that’s not new. But the way that he explained it was super helpful.

And what he was talking about was this idea that we’re not special and not saying it because you’re not significant, but just saying you’re not special. What’s happening to you is not unique. Somebody in the history of forever has probably experienced this before and way more people than you would think. So, if I’m experiencing an issue, let’s say, like, oh, I have pain when I squat, I’m not going to say I’m the only person who has pain in my squat. Instead, I think, you know what? A bunch of people probably have squat pain, and a bunch of people have used a specific set of exercises to work around this pain. So, getting out of that I’m special mindset or like, oh, this won’t work for me mindset has also been really helpful for addressing some of my own self-limiting beliefs there.

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. And that’s all a coach is doing is that you’re doing the work, Dean. I’m just educating and empowering and inspiring. So, in these cases, all I’m trying to do is remove these kind of self-imposed roadblocks that you’ve put in front of yourself. And then you release yourself to do just naturally what you’re built to do, which when I look at you, it’s really like the perfect client. You’ve got a long background with sport where you’ve got a lot of motor complexity involved, and then that kind of segued into– I think concurrently, you’re doing, of course, some true resistance training in that time frame, then you move into mobility.

So, you take this kind of strength and athletic pace, you then push yourself into yoga and improving motor control and range of motion, and then you come back around to strength work. And when we remove those blocking mindsets that were kind of inhibiting your ability to truly express strength, when you actually use heavier loads and you’re contracting muscles harder, you’re going to get stronger by doing so. And so, you did all the work. I just helped kind of catalyze the process by releasing some of these things and understanding that they were impeding your progress. And I think you had a really nice result as a result of that.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. One thing that you touched on just now, but using heavier loads. So, when you’re doing bodyweight stuff, the irony is that we talk about yoga as a great way to improve imbalances. And it is, it’s a great way to work on imbalances, it’s a great way to do things that your body doesn’t typically do in other workouts and what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis, especially if you’re an office worker and you’re sitting a lot, living a relatively sedentary lifestyle.

But when you use really heavy loads, you are forced to use all muscles. So, if you have been doing yoga pose, let’s do yoga poses and bodyweight-only exercises, and it doesn’t require relatively that much strength or it’s just not that much weight. You can very easily use one side way more than the other, but when you stack on a lot of weight, when you get into the high twos, when you’re getting into threes or whatever is a relatively high amount of weight for you, that’s when you really think, oh my gosh, this is really challenging for this side, which I realize now has not been doing much work to this point.

So, as much as we like to talk about yoga is a great way to help with correcting imbalances, loading up and putting on some heavy weight, exerting yourself to your maximum effort, that’s really going to point out some imbalances. So, I thought that was interesting as I started strength training again. Another thing, I was just thinking about…

Jesse O’Brien: To that point, I want to kind of touch on that a little bit. So, there are specific strategies that will increase motor unit activation. So, motor units are just essentially neuronal parts of our nervous system. We’re activating these various parts. And so, if I’m using, like…

Dean Pohlman: I’d say muscle activation or mind/body, lots of ways to…

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, exactly. Muscle activation. And so, that is not binary, like muscle is activated or not activated. It’s more of a continuum. To what degree is the muscle activated? It’s not a yes or no. Is the muscle activated? It’s to what degree is that activated because right now, I am contracting my bicep. Give me 50 pounds, I’m using more of my bicep and surrounding musculature to contract that.

So, there’s something that I’m specifically trained to do. And so, there’s something called high threshold motor units. I’ll give you an analogy. So, think about you’re in a battle between two opposing forces. You have your infantrymen. These are the first people that fight. Then you have kind of the mounted people that are like the second force to fight. And then you have your sharpshooters at the end.

So, the infantrymen, those are your low threshold motor units. Those are the muscles and the motor units that are going to work no matter what. They have to engage. When those are fatigued, these very low-level ones, then you get those kind of mounted cavalrymen that have to engage. So, these are your moderate threshold motor units. And then when both the infantrymen and the mounted cavalry have been fatigued or they die, they’ve been killed in this in this battle, then you have these sharpshooters. Those are the high threshold motor units that only become activated, they’re only utilized in extreme circumstances.

Say, you’re lifting at 92% of your maximum weight that you’re able to do, those high threshold motor units have to get involved because the low and the moderate threshold ones have been fatigued and are exhausted or have died in my analogy. And so, when you’re strength training, true strength training, which is somewhere in the realm of 68% to 70% of your contractile potential or more, you start to be more apt to use those high threshold motor units, which may not have been engaged in with other tools or modalities. So, there are a lot of nuances to strength training and specific strategies that we’re using to have very specific effects.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, that just touches that. It’s something that we talk about all the time, or I get asked all the time, do you have your body from just yoga alone? It’s a very long answer to say, well, when I was six, I started playing soccer, and then I started weightlifting when I was 15. And I played– and I go through my entire history and then also say, oh, by the way, my genetics are different than yours and yada, yada, yada. But with building muscle, I’m going to leave this question to you, but yoga can help you build a certain amount of muscle, bodyweight can help you build a certain amount of muscle. But what it sounds like you were working to is that the more accustomed your body is to training and building muscle, the higher threshold you have to put it through in order to notice more gain. Is there a certain percentage that you have to get to in order to experience muscle growth?

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. So, there’s the framework that we like to use in strength and conditioning. So, say somebody, just they haven’t worked out in 20 years or a mother of two. They’ve been rather sedentary. I don’t want them to necessarily work on true strength training because they need to be more in kind of this movement camp and just learn how to move really well. So, the first stage of training is motor control. Let’s just learn how to squat and hinge and lunge with really great mechanics and do so under control, not going super fast. Let’s control the orientation of my femurs relative to the hip and the torso. Let’s work on the mechanics of the shoulder as I descend into a pushup.

Once we get good at motor control, then what we want to focus on is muscle endurance, being able to do repeated contractions over and over and over as I fatigue. The third stage would be strength endurance. So, now the loading gets a little bit more difficult. Muscle endurance is lower intensity work, so like pushups and sit-ups are forms of muscle endurance. Even walking up the Empire State Building, that’s a form of muscle endurance for my legs, but the contractile demands of that muscle are somewhat lower. Strength endurance is where I’m starting to use more challenging load. So, for you, that might be doing a back squat with 225 pounds for 20 to 30 reps. That’s a form of strength endurance.

And then you get into absolute strength. So, that’s the fourth piece, which is true challenging contractile potential. So, it comes at a place, and initially, anything will get somebody stronger, Zumba, walking your dog. If you’ve done nothing, anything gets you stronger. But after a certain point in time, there’s this thing of progressive overload. The amount of work that I did, the amount of weight that I did, my body is adapted to it. It’s gotten used to that, those demands from a muscular standpoint, from a mechanical standpoint, from a hormonal standpoint, even a skeletal standpoint. And so, we have to change those stimuli in a progressive manner and we have to do that systematically over time.

Dean Pohlman: So, if I were to just, and this might have been my approach prior to working out with you and just working out on my own and like programming little supersets with kettlebells and the weights that I had. I had a barbell and dumbbells and stuff. If I just maxed out every time, like if I just go do a workout and I maxed out every time, but it doesn’t necessarily have structure, am I going to get stronger? Am I going to build more muscle or not necessarily?

Jesse O’Brien: It depends on the context and the person. And I would say, yes, it’s going to work for probably 6 to 18 months. And then that adaptation is kind of like the shelf life is expired, and then you’re going to have plateaued at that point in time. That might work for an individual, and it depends on are they a beginner, an intermediate-advanced trainee? Were they detrained or were they highly trained coming into it? What are their genetics like? There are a lot of factors to that question, but generally, the answer is 6 to 18 months are going to stagnate with that approach, and you need to go through different kind of cycles or seasons of loading and motor control and strength endurance and muscle endurance.

That motor control to muscle endurance to strength endurance to absolute strength, that continuum never ceases to exist. Once you’re in absolute strength, does it mean that you’re always there? It’s kind of a snake eating its tail. You come back around to motor control and just focus on great movement patterns, and then you focus on muscle endurance, again, and then strength endurance and absolute strength. And you’ll do that in perpetuity if it’s a really well-run strength and conditioning program.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, actually, I was going to bring up, so we started training in just January 2021. I’m doing every workout for a month or two. I had two additional workouts, so I was doing three hard workouts per week, sometimes five hard workouts per week. And I was doing every workout, wasn’t missing any. If I had to do them at like 8 o’clock at night after Declan went to sleep in the office, like right next to where he sleeps, and I was just gently setting down the weights if I were doing a deadlift, then I did it.

Jesse O’Brien: It’s called don’t wake the baby deadlifts.

Dean Pohlman: They’re really hard. They’re not fun. So, I hadn’t done an in-body assessment at all. And an in-body assessment, Jesse, do you want to just touch on what an in-body assessment is?

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. So, an in-body is a bioelectrical impedance machine, meaning that you’re going to stand on two electrodes and put your hands on two more electrodes, and it’s going to put a small electrical charge through your body. And based upon the amount of time it takes to complete that circuit, it’s going to be able to analyze how much muscle, fat, and water because there are different conduction speeds of muscle relative to fat, relative to water. So, it’s a proxy for your body composition. It’ll analyze how much muscle tissue you have, how much fat mass you have, how much water you have. And it also will be able to analyze a segmental lean analysis. So, Dean has three more pounds of muscle in his right arm compared to his left, for example.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, this thing is like the non-objective overlord determinant of how much muscle you have and how much progress you’ve made, so to speak. So, I’ve been working out for six months. I’m like, okay, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m going to go in, I’m going to see my body percentage is going to be crazy different. I know that I’ve added 15 pounds. I started this at 175, and now I’ve been weighing 194, 195. And so, I go in and do the assessment and I’ve put on zero muscle, and it’s just all fat. I put on 15 pounds of fat. I think I was probably at 10% body fat before that, and actually, at that time, I was probably higher in body fat.

But the point is I added a bunch of fat and I didn’t add any muscle compared to the last time I had done the assessment. And I bring that up, one, because I think it’s kind of funny looking back at it now, but also because the more your body has adapted to strength training, the less effective it is. And I did some research on this myself, but Jesse, do you want to speak to how much muscle somebody can build the first year they’re doing strength training versus how much muscle they can build if they’ve been doing it for 15 years?

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, that’s a good question. Actually, before I go there, maybe this is a wonderful place as you talk about how much better you got by working with me. I could shamelessly promote my business here.

Dean Pohlman: Well, hey, I will say that I was deadlifting, squatting, just everything, way more. And I looked way stronger than I had in years, probably ever, so. And that was probably because I was overeating and that was another thing that I was doing incorrectly. Once I stopped overeating, now I’m very happy with the way that I look in the mirror. The last photo shoot was very good. Wife is happy. So, yeah, I think, I hope.

Jesse O’Brien: To talk to her later. Just be like, hey, you’ll have to look at my body. But to answer that question, again, we have to training age. So, this is the amount of time that somebody has not trained but consistently trained. So, somebody is trained for six weeks. They took a week off, and for four weeks, took two weeks off. I’m still going to give that person a very, very, very low training. It’s not because of the amount of time, and maybe they’ve trained 13 years in that example, but because he’s had these clips of inconsistency.

So, what I’m trying to analyze, the rate of adaptation from a skeletal muscle mass standpoint. I’m looking at their training age along with their biological age. Those things are going to paint a picture of how fast somebody is going to adapt. So, I’ll give you an example. I started working with an intrapubescent male at 14 years old. And he’s 17 now. Working with me, he went from 135-pound back squat. That was pretty not neat and pretty gross when you look at it to squatting 405 pounds.

He went from, I believe, 167 to 230 pounds over the course of three years, and 44 pounds of that was muscle. So, you and me, those days are gone, Dean. Those days will never happen because, one, we’re older and we’re not in the same hormonal situation as his cat was. And then, two, his training age was so low so he had this novel stimulus to all of the resistance training that we were giving him, and his body was in this just amazingly pubescent stage that just he was growing like crazy.

If you’re looking at people who are natty, so people who are not fed with TRT or any sort of steroids or anything like that, you’re looking at the advanced training, it’s like if they’re able to gain three-quarters of a pound of 3 pounds on a yearly basis, they’re ecstatic. I mean, that’s kind of what we’re talking about. It’s rather minimal. And these are people who are training for decades at a time.

So, you’re just seeing the rate of adaptation slow down. And it’s hard to give any real numbers of like, oh, you can gain 5 to 20 in your first year. It’s like, well, is that a male or female? Are they 6’6? Are they 4’11? There are just so many different anthropometrics or body shapes and sizes that I think I would be generalizing too much. But if you understand the principle that you’re going to gain a lot more muscle tissue initially, and then that’s going to wane over the course of consistent training, then I think you kind of have a base understanding for how you would potentially adapt. That’s the non-drug scenarios.

Dean Pohlman: Got it. Alright. So, a lot of people who do man flow yoga are guys in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and they know that weightlifting can be good for them, but maybe they just haven’t started. So, my question is, if you’re starting weightlifting and you’re in that age bracket and your goal is to build as much muscle as possible, are you fighting a clock? Like as soon as you start lifting weights, you’ve never done it before, are you kind of fighting a clock if the goal is to build as much muscle as possible? And I’m assuming based on what you said, there is because your body will eventually adapt, will respond to the stimuli of weightlifting eventually, and you will build muscle as quickly. So, is there a time that people should aim to really push hard if they’re starting and commit to it for X amount of time?

Jesse O’Brien: I mean, it’s my belief that resistance training is the fountain of youth and that does not have to be back squats and deadlifts and presses. For somebody who is very deconditioned, that’s planks and wall sits and chin over bar holds, for example. That can be a really potent form of strength training. It just depends on the level of strength for the individual. But the earlier that we can lift, the better effects that we’re going to have. Now, if we’re just looking at from a muscle mass standpoint, we’re always fighting entropy. Entropy is the degradation of systems in the body. It’s essentially like we’re moving towards death and did declination of biological processes and so.

Dean Pohlman: We will all die.

Jesse O’Brien: We will all die one day. But that’s not to mention that there are some rather impressive neurological benefits of resistance training, and that actually is strength. So, strength is half of it is the cross-section of your muscle fibers. So, if, actually on a microscopic level, I dissected one individual strand of muscle tissue, that cross-section actually will get larger. It’s called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. It’s the enlargement of the cross-sections of the muscle fibers. That’s part of your ability to get stronger.

And then the second part is neurological, it’s rate firing, it’s synchronization of motor units, it’s neurological efficiency. These are all things that are specific adaptations that happen in labs in the street to get this unique setting that can get better. And then, lastly, through resistance training, which again doesn’t have to be weights, it can be bodyweight, focus is like yours, there’s a host of cognitive benefits as well. We’re seeing that it potentially wards off the development of Alzheimer’s with people who have specific genetic predisposition same with Parkinson’s.

So, there is a host of other things as well. I know everybody wants to get more muscles and look better and whatnot, but just because I’m 65 years old and I’m not able to get any more muscle, maybe I’m just fighting to maintain what I have and to keep my body’s metabolism as high as possible. And so, I need to shed that expectation that I’m constantly going to be growing.

I personally haven’t grown in years. I haven’t necessarily tried to, but at some point in time, like biologically, my body doesn’t want to walk around with Ronnie Coleman-type muscle mass. He’s Mr. Olympia for 10, 11 years in a row in the early 2000s. It’s very unnatural. It’s also very taxing on the cardiac axis. And the muscles in our heart have to work a lot harder to profuse blood to the extremities. And biologically, it wants you to be smaller and to eat less. And so, we’re always kind of fighting what biology wants of us.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, for example, if I stopped lifting weights, I would probably drop down to 160 pounds, like 155 pounds, probably within six months or a year, I would assume just because that’s probably where my body wants me to be, but because I just like the feeling of how I feel when I’m strong, when I have muscles. This is where I am, I’m about 190 now or 185 to 190, but it’s an uphill battle. It’s not something that is easily maintained.

And just to touch on how much muscle I build, so I started six months ago when I did that test and I realized, okay, I think I’m eating way too much. So, I was eating way too many carbs because my experience in the past about I just hadn’t eaten enough carbs to build muscle, I thought that all I needed was protein, but I needed more carbs. So, then I had some good experience eating more carbs, combining it with protein, and then I was able to build muscle.

But in this past experience that I had, I was eating too many carbs, not enough protein. Talked to you. You said, “Hey, you should eat more protein.” So, I started eating more protein. And then I think I actually added 2 pounds of lean muscle in about three months, which is pretty good for me, for someone who is…

Jesse O’Brien: Very solid.

Dean Pohlman: I think that’s pretty good for someone who’s been working out as much as I have. So, anyways, point is yeah, hard to build muscle. The other thing that I want to just touch on briefly is a lot of what you’ve been talking about with bodyweight training, with motor control, with doing stuff like wall sits, planks. That’s basically what we’re doing in man flow yoga is we’re doing these isometric exercises, we’re holding to build the body awareness, build basic strength, build basic mobility. So, a lot of guys who want to go straight to the weightlifting or straight to I want to do 225, I want to squat 225, I want to squat with two plates on the bar or four plates on the bar, getting them to say, okay, cool. Well, maybe we can just do a squat hold first, and then we’ll go from there. Anyways, that’s just kind of…

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. And it gives me something, a thought that I’ve had is that I believe that we have different students kind of within my business, and you have students in your business. And I feel like a lot of our students could benefit from other people’s kind of model to a degree. We have to remember that learning how to bench press, learning how to squat, learning how to deadlift, learning how to do a pullup, those are skills before their strength exercises.

I have to learn how to coordinate my body in a manner that I’m able to do so in a technically proficient manner. And that takes thousands upon thousands of conscious reps before it becomes unconscious. And so, the understanding of motor control is paramount. So, people who move like crap and we’re trying to just load them and load them and load them, well, they’re setting themselves up for some sort of nagging issue down the road. So, what could have a lot of value from, it’s your type of work where you’re owning various positions through isometrics and slow, slow, slow movements and long pauses and stuff like that.

And so, living there for not days and weeks, but years before you move into muscle nerves, before you move into strength endurance, before you even sign up with me, and we’re really working on absolute strength, I think that would be an excellent model for a lot of people, and then same with some of your cats who are in your wheelhouse. If you’ve been doing it for five years and just living in motor control world, okay, when do you increase that challenge? Let’s increase it somehow. Of course, you can put progressively more intense and deeper stretches, but at some point in time, adding some load, even in a mobility or yoga format can be in a great form of progression intensification.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And actually, I kind of delayed getting back into weightlifting because I was kind of viewing me doing focusing on yoga and focusing on muscle activation and focusing on just strengthening, all of that strength and mobility. I kind of viewed it as just getting myself like as soon as I start weightlifting, I’m just going to take off because I’m doing all this mobility work, I’m doing all this motor control work. And I probably put it off too long, not too long, but I put it off longer than I should have. I probably didn’t need as much time as I did working on all of that.

And I will say that one thing that I did notice, the big difference between just doing yoga, doing bodyweight squats versus weighted squats, you’re able to get away with a lot when you’re only doing your bodyweight, you can really do stuff, not that you’re doing something incorrectly, but you’re not doing it as well as it could be done. One big issue for me that I’ve had to deal with is I realized I was rounding my back a lot. When I was doing deep squats, I was rounding my back a lot. And then when I try to do that with weight training, it immediately like, oh crap, I cannot do a squat with the current technique that I’m using.

And specifically, in that instance, it made me realize the importance of ankle mobility in a squat and really highlighted that. So, just saying that to say that, yes, people can benefit from doing both. That’s what I recommend. That’s what I talk about in the man flow yoga community, but you might think that you’ve got great mobility, but then you try it out with a bar and you’re like, oh, maybe something needs some work.

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, absolutely. There are all these small nuances like a barbell on your back compared to a bar in your front, compared to a bar overhead, compared to a kettlebell here. That’s going to change the way that your body wants to move. For example, if you hold a kettlebell right here, doing a goblet squat, it makes everybody’s squats look amazing because it’s kind of like a baby. People are like, well, babies have perfect squats, it’s like they have perfect mobility. It’s like, well, they’ve got great mobility. They also have a large head to counterbalance their movement. Just like a heavy kettlebell does, it allows us to get deep and full ankle dorsiflexion, hip and knee flexion as well.

And so, there are different movement challenges. Try squatting with one kettlebell over your head and try not to rotate, it’s extremely challenging to do so. There are all these different ways, we can challenge a squat without merely just adding a ton of load. We can add loads in different manners, and that can really challenge things up. I mean, I think that actually would be a cool thing for you to do with yourself is do a single-arm dumbbell overhead squat for three reps with a really slow tempo and pause in the bottom and see how heavy you’re able to do it without any gross massive rotation or anything like that. It’s a very, very challenging exercise that speaks to strength, stability, coordination, proprioception, and then also, flexibility as well. So, I’ll be expecting a follow-up video of you doing that later this week.

If you put it in the true coach, then I’ll do it. So, yeah, true coach is how Jesse shares the workouts with me. Really cool app. But anyways, and that’s one of the things I really like about the workouts is that I don’t have to think about it, if I want to look at it in advance, I can, but usually, I just look at it right before I do the workout. That way I’m not thinking about it and not worrying about it because I don’t need to worry about it. It’s there, it’s going to happen no matter what, so anyways.

So, I wanted to shift gears a little bit and talk about kind of go outside the physical and touch on kind of that we vibed and that we had similar thoughts when it comes to health and fitness as a whole. I remember I was asking you questions about if people are struggling with motivation or people are struggling with being disciplined or they’re having difficulty with– I think we were talking specifically about the context of dieting. I was kind of expecting you to give me an answer like, okay, here’s a technical thing that you can try to help with that. And what you gave me instead was, are they aligned with their purpose? So, you’re not just approaching this in terms of let’s make sure that we’re doing X, Y, and Z, but you’re looking at it in terms of, okay, how is this fitting into what’s important to you? What are your values? And then building out the goals from there.

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. I mean, I think, when you think of a health or fitness practitioner, my mind goes to this guy at Lifetime Fitness or something. He’s got his Air Jordans on, he’s got a tank top on, and he just gives you some exercise. And so, if getting in shape was just as simple as exercise selection and just eating a different way, then we would all be in better shape by 2030. Interesting statistic. The United States, 50% of us are supposed to be obese, not just overweight, but obese.

So, obviously, we’re not quite figuring this thing out. And so, strength and conditioning are equal parts like biomechanics and exercise physiology that it is cognitive-behavioral psychology and just understanding human behavior and how we make long-lasting behavioral changes. And if we’re divorced from why we should be doing something and we’re not aligned with that, that purpose, we’re not going to do these things. We might be able to force ourselves for a period of time, but it’s not going to be a long-term solution.

And so, that’s one thing that I look for, is understanding people’s values and priorities, and exercise and being healthy, how does it support or not support it? Maybe not everybody does actually need to be healthier and fitter. Maybe their time is better allocated to other aspects and that’s kind of very personal, but I think it’s an imperative thing to going to ask people, but most of the time and/or at least it’s my belief that fitness and having a healthy lifestyle is the vehicle towards an empowered, fulfilling life.

If I have great energy, great cognition, and mental acuity, it’s going to allow me to do the things that I want to do with relative ease. And I can get a lot of fulfillment from doing that. And if I focus on these– we call them basic lifestyle guidelines, so drinking water, eating a whole foods diet, moving every single day, conscious breathing. These are all things that are generally free to do, but if we do these things, it optimizes our physiological expression and it allows us to kind of live optimally. It’s my belief that if we have that, there’s a lot of fulfillment that comes in the process. If we have headaches and we’re lethargic all the time and our body doesn’t feel good, are we really going to live that fulfilling of a life? Or does it just impede our ability to actually self-actualize?

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, I think that everything you said just kind of leads into kind of my understanding of fitness. And one of the big reasons why I started this podcast is because, yes, fitness is a big part of living a fulfilling lifestyle because it enables us to do what we want to do. But going beyond that, we want to talk about the emotional, the mental, like you were saying, what’s the purpose? How does it fit into what we want to do?

And I also wanted to touch on the Be the Better You Weekend which you were a part of. So, we’ve done two of these with Man Flow Yoga. I hope that we can do more of these in the future, pending any future pandemics. Looking forward to what happens next. But these are weekends when we get together about 10 guys and we go through– it’s basically a men’s retreat focused on wellness. And we talk about goals, we talk about what are the healthy practices that goes into them, we talk about how to create goals, how to make goals that are sustainable.

And one of the reasons I brought along Jesse for part of it was because I think resistance training is really important. It fits into that. But also because, again, we’re kind of aligned in how we’re approaching fitness as a whole. So, Jesse, I just want you to talk us through that experience of how you created the resistance training portion, and also, I’d like you to talk about your reaction to the guys because I think you thought everyone is going to be these really stretchy yogis and then you’re like, oh, some of these guys know how to weightlift.

Jesse O’Brien: Our thought with serving your community was, let’s teach them some fundamental movement. So, it’s a primordial movement to squat for millennia. We have been squatting down and squatting up. We’ve been picking things up off the ground and using a squat as a vehicle to do so. We’ve been hinging, so hinging at the waist while keeping a flat back. That’s a fundamental movement.

And there are actually seven primal movements that we should be doing every single day. We don’t do these movements every single day. Then over time, systems deteriorate. So, we’ve got a squat, we’ve got a hinge, we’ve got to do lunges, we’ve got to do some core exercises, upper body pushing, upper body pulling, and then locomotion. So, there are about seven of these things.

And so, you’ll get inside if you– I visit my grandma periodically and I’ll go into her community, and you’ll see a lot of people and they can’t bring their arms up over their heads anymore. Maybe they haven’t been doing any upper body pushing, where it’s been training the scapula to tilt and upwardly rotate over their heads. And it’s one of these adages that if you don’t use it, you lose it. So, we’re trying to drill them with the fundamentals of movements.

And, of course, we challenge your community with some additional weights. And I saw a whole spectrum of individuals. I thought, yeah, it would be a lot of people who are able to be in a seated pike and just like namaste the whole time. And actually, I saw people who seemed like they were probably gym rats, maybe 10, 20, 30 years before. They had had obviously some experience having done so. And then we had some people who had never done anything as well.

And so, I think it was a really, really cool week. And for some people, it’s just a reminder that, hey, this is an important thing, keep doing it. And for other people, we were actually teaching them in their 40s, 50s, and 60s how to do a barbell back squat or how to do a barbell deadlift with great mechanics for the very first time. And it was an incredibly empowering experience for, I think, your little yogis, but also for the coaches as well. We love bringing people through just barbell 101 and teaching people how to do the basics.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So, we’ll talk about this in another episode. So, just in case, you’re wondering, Jesse and I are going to be in another episode because we’ve got a lot of other stuff that we want to talk about and focus more on Jesse’s approach to fitness and less on how he trains me, which was kind of a lot of what we did today. We actually started a remote group resistance training program. So, first time we had 10, second time we had a little bit less than that, but we had these groups who are doing weightlifting programs with Jesse, with Jesse’s Central Athlete. So, we’ll talk about that again. We’ll talk about it another time. But I just wanted to mention that, hopefully, it draws some interest because it went really well. But we’ll talk about that more. But I want to ask one juicy question, and I’m also curious just for myself, what surprises did you have working out with me? I’ve been doing yoga for eight years before that collegiate athlete, weightlifting, but go ahead.

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah. Your propensity for strength. I mean, in a rather short amount of time, I want to say it was like five months that you were able to develop from a high 200 and something squat to 395. I mean, I would put you in the top 3% of people who have adaptations that quickly, and I did not at all expect that. I think definitely, a part of it is like all your yoga work set you up for success because you had a lot of movement options, meaning you weren’t forced into a very like just only one position. You had some freedom to widen your stance, go a little bit more narrow. You could find what really felt right for you.

But I think I would actually be interested if you get your 23andMe data and then you can use various websites like Athletigen, or Rhonda Patrick has some software that can help you with this. And so, you’re able to plug that data in, and it will kind of spit out essentially what your genetics are best for. And I bet you’re more of like a strength and power athlete. I think you have certain, they’re called snips, but specific genetic probably polymorphisms that set you up for success.

And so, I did not read that at all because typically, the people who are like that also have like– this is a lot of generalizations. So, just take this with a grain of salt. And people who are more apt to get stronger, they tend to be a little bit bigger, more carbohydrate-sensitive, and so that you are so lean, but you have this genetic propensity to get stronger. I found that very interesting and curious. I’ve actually never worked with somebody who had that matrix of individual characteristics. So, you’re this kind of like a unicorn in my world where it’s fun for me because I’m like, oh, it’s a little science experiment. We can make Dean into this whatever we want them to. So, that was a really, really cool thing.

And just most people don’t have that. And of course, aside from the genetics side of things, we can’t take into consideration that all the collegiate sports and all the previous training and all the mobility stuff that you’ve been doing over the years, but I think my suspicion is that there is this genetic predisposition that it loads the gun and everything else that you’ve done kind of pulls the trigger.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, that’s interesting. I’m going to check out some of that other stuff. I know that I’ve done 23andMe, and aside from being more likely to wake up later in the day, I think my wife had this too. I think it said that we built muscle like athletes or something like that. I don’t know if everyone got that because it seems like everyone gets everything when you’re doing the 23andMe. It’s like one or the other. It’s not like you’re an elite athlete, you’re a mediocre athlete, you’re just not an athlete at all. It’s just one or the other, I don’t know. But yeah, I’ll have to check out some of that stuff because that sounds interesting.

Alright. Sweet. So, we’ve already gone like an hour, five or something like that. So, I’ve got a bunch of other questions I want to ask you. We’re going to do that another time. So, Jesse, I want to thank you for coming on today and talking about all the stuff that you’ve done with me and all the stuff that’s general for everybody else and related to that.

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, I appreciate it. I like to ask one kind of prime question before we jump off things like this. And so, for my own knowledge, but you can also give this to the rest of your community as well, if there’s one thing I or your community needs to deeply understand about Dean on a personal level, what would that one thing be?

Dean Pohlman: Oh, gosh. I have a desire to help people and to create things that can be helpful and that’s how I derive a lot of my personal fulfillment is creating something that’s helpful and beneficial and something that helps somebody out, but I am emotionally unavailable to accept gratitude for it. So, I can create something, I can do well, I can get a thank you, but it’s hard for me to feel that gratitude when someone says thank you.

Jesse O’Brien: Where’s the genesis of that feeling? Where do you first remember that coming from?

Dean Pohlman: Which one? Wanting to create something?

Jesse O’Brien: No, the difficulty accepting gratitude because I do believe that we’re wired. It’s probably one of the most fundamental human things is to be validated, and gratitude from somebody else is a form of validation. And so, I feel like that’s something that you likely were able to take in at one point in your life, but where did you lose that? So, when you started Man Flow Yoga and that you’ve got such an outpouring of people saying thank you for that that you became kind of like disillusioned with it or…

Dean Pohlman: No, I think I started when I was a kid. I think it was just my desire to downplay and to make people not feel like they were indebted. I think it’s a desire. Oh, it’s okay. No big deal, whatever. I didn’t want people to feel like they had to owe me, I think.

Jesse O’Brien: So, almost like a form of humility in a way?

Dean Pohlman: I don’t know. Maybe that’s what I was trying to do. I think that’s what the goal was. I think the goal was, I just want to make it appear like it’s nothing because I don’t want people to feel indebted or I don’t want people to– yeah, and I mean when I did create Man Flow Yoga and I started getting more comments, that it was, I don’t know. I doubted a lot of the authenticity of some of those comments. I thought that there was a different motive behind it, or I thought like, oh, they’re just saying that. So, I don’t know, but yeah, get a lot of value from creating something, but hard for me to acknowledge acknowledgment.

Jesse O’Brien: When you express gratitude to somebody, and then they do what you do to them, like they don’t really want to accept it, how does it feel to you?

Dean Pohlman: I feel like I’m back in my psychologist’s office when I was 10. It makes me feel bad, Jesse.

Jesse O’Brien: So, I’ll leave you with that.

Dean Pohlman: Thanks. Yeah, you’ve asked these questions before. You’ll ask me, like, what’s making you tired? I’d just kind of stare back, like. Alright. Yeah.

Jesse O’Brien: Here we go again.

Dean Pohlman: Here we go again. Therapy is on Fridays. Alright, cool. Well, thanks for asking that. So, Jesse, where can people find you, find your stuff, find Central Athlete stuff? What’s the best way to follow you?

Jesse O’Brien: Yeah, I think Instagram is a great tool. So, jaobrien1 is my Instagram moniker, or you can look at centralathlete. Of course, I’ve got a website for myself, a website for the business as well. We help people in Austin and in six different continents all over the world. And so, it’s our goal to be able to really support and guide people given whatever exercise history they have, different goals, different priorities in life.

And we really try to personalize the fitness experience, not just from training, but also from nutrition and habits. And really, this, what are we trying to do as a business? We’re just trying to help people live a more balanced life. And it’s my belief that the foundational piece is having a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a healthy spirit.

Once you get past the first couple of years in training, training can be a very spiritual experience. We’re doing something, we’re engaging in physical suffering that our body doesn’t want us to do. So, we have to be very aware as to why we’re doing that. And the deeper you get into that, you start to explore spirituality. And why do we even exist in this world? Why am I here? What do I want to do with my life?

You get in a canoe and you paddle for 262 miles, you’re going to ask yourself some very interesting questions. So, Dean, you probably think I’m a therapist at times, but it all started with me being a therapist to myself, or go run in the desert for 50 kilometers and you come out a different person at the end of that experience. And I believe these are physical challenges that we need to consistently do because easy times create hard people, hard times create easy people. So, engaging in some of those kind of purposeful, tough times, I think, is a salient thing to continue to do in life.

Dean Pohlman: Well, I really like that you mentioned the struggle as something to help you get clearer on yourself, get clear on your goals is ask yourself the questions. So, pushing yourself so that you can ask yourself and get clarity on that. I think that’s so much of what holds us back is just not asking the right questions yourself, not answering them honestly, not going deeper and asking why? The rule of five why’s, asking yourself why? And so, you get to the root of something, so yeah.

Jesse O’Brien: On that note, too, and it’s kind of the reason why I asked you that kind of trying question is that I’m 35 years old. I’ve had so many superficial conversations in my life. Hey, how are you? Oh, the weather is great. How about the gas prices? I don’t want to do this. Just don’t talk to me. If that’s going to be our exchange, don’t talk to me. I want to ask real questions, where I get to know somebody.

And so, sometimes that’s what I like to do, is I like to ask something that somebody hasn’t had asked to them in a long time, and you’d be interested of what comes out on the other side. And there’s a lot of vulnerability, and it’s a means to connect to human beings. I’m not connecting about gas prices and the weather. I’m sorry. It’s just not me. It’s not going to happen. But I can connect on things that you’re putting down. And that’s the type of life that I want to have. So, it’s something that I encourage people to do, like ask some questions out of left field and just go with this, see what happens. You’d be surprised at the things that you connect with somebody about when you start doing that.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, one of the reasons we started this podcast was just to get vulnerable, just to go deeper into the fitness. And yeah, Brene Brown is right. I just want to end this saying we’ve probably sensed at least 20 people your way. So, we have a great relationship with Central Athlete. I think they do a fantastic job. So, if you are looking for a remote training option, it’s awesome, so highly recommend it.

Jesse O’Brien: Thanks, Dean. Appreciate it, man.

Dean Pohlman: Five stars on Google. Alright, guys, thank you so much for joining me for the Man Flow Yoga podcast. Jesse, thanks for joining me on the show. Thanks for training me, asking me difficult questions. And I will talk to you very soon. And if you’re listening to the show, thank you so much for being here. And I’ll see you on the next episode or I’ll see you in the next video.

Jesse O’Brien: See you, Dean.



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