Marty Gallagher – The Purposeful Primitive – Taking Your Health & Fitness To The Next Level – Extreme Health Radio

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Marty Gallagher – The Purposeful Primitive – Taking Your Health & Fitness To The Next Level

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Marty Gallagher who is the author of The Purposeful Primitive: Using the Primordial Laws of Fitness to Trigger Inevitable, Lasting and Dramatic Physical Change and Coan, The Man, The Myth, The Method talked about specific training methods to help increase lean muscle mass, decrease body fat and increase your energy and vitality. He’s a master at what he does and his workout principles have been utilized by hundreds of thousand of people world wide, no matter their age or fitness levels.

We love Marty and want to support his work. He’s been into strength training and lifting weights for over 50 years.

Please listen to this interview and pass it on to your friends! Please “Like” it on Facebook and do whatever you can to help spread the message of hope to people! I would be very grateful. 🙂

After you listen, comment below and tell us what you think!

We discuss the following and so much more:

  • The 4 pilars of his program, resistance, cardio, nutrition and psychology
  • Why these are only 4 exercises you should be doing
  • Why strength is different than muscle size
  • Why you should avoid workout machines
  • The importance of muscle confusion
  • Why he’s not into Crossfit

Completely change your body in 4 weeks only spending less than 3 hours per week in the gym with Marty Gallagher Click to tweet this!

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Show Date: 10/19/2012
Show Guest: Marty Gallagher
Guest Info: Athlete: In 1967 Gallagher won the teenage Olympic weightlifting title and set two national records. Gallagher has won four world powerlifting titles and seven national titles in three different federations. Most recently he won the AAU national and world master title in 2003. In 1997 he set the national record in the squat (220 pound class) with a 722 pound lift in a drug-tested competition at age 47. He still actively competes at national and world level in his age and weight division.

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Topic: Fitness, Weightlifting
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Items Mentioned: The Warrior Diet: Switch on Your Biological Powerhouse For High Energy, Explosive Strength, and a Leaner, Harder Body
Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
John Parrillo
Christopher G Hardy, MD
Dr. Stuart McGill
Robert W. Smith

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Duration/Size: 00:54:59 / 50.34 MB
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Podcast Transcript:

JUSTIN: Thank you so much everybody for joining us today on another edition of extremehealthradio. I hope you’re having a great day. Today is Friday, October 19, 2012 and thanks for tuning in and listening to us. Right now, we’re doing about three shows a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and we are broadcasting worldwide from Southern California. The last time I checked, we were in over 40 countries, which is just amazing. So, thank you for joining in.

Today’s episode is Episode #24, so you can check that out on On that show page, you’ll be able to see the transcription of today’s interview’s show notes. with reference materials and websites the guest mentions. If you have any questions, email me, as I would love to hear from you. or you could call in on our voicemail line, which is (949) 391-7363 and I will play your message to our guest on the air. So, that will be fun.

We’ve been promoting this product lately and it’s called the Vitamix Blender and this show is brought to you by that product. You will get free shipping if you buy it through us and you can check that out at

Before we introduce our guest, Marty Gallagher, who I’m really excited to have on today, I would like to talk about our upcoming show schedule. We have Magda Havas next week, talking about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation, so that should be fascinating. If you have a cell phone, you may want to listen to that one.

We’ve Dr. Mark Sircus, who is a prolific author. He’s the director of IMBA out of Brazil. He’ll be talking about cancer and heart disease.

We’ve got Dr. Jack Hipp on Friday, a week from today. We’ve got a lot of great interviews lined up, all the way through the end of the year, so make sure to tune in and check out our show schedule page for those.

I’m really excited to have today’s guest, Marty Gallagher on. He’s quite a prolific guy. He’s an athlete and in 1967 he won the teenage Olympic weight lifting title and set two national records, and then in 1997 he set the world national record in squats, 220 lb squats with a 722 lb lift. That’s just amazing at the age of 47. He’s been actively involved in training special ops for over a decade. He’s a fitness author, and Joe Weider called Marty Gallagher’s book, Ed Coan; The Man, The Myth, The Method’ simply the greatest book on power lifting ever written, which is an amazing thing coming from Joe Weider. His most recent publication, The Purposeful Primitive, you can check out on and it has been widely acclaimed.

So, that you so much for joining us Marty. We really appreciate it.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Good morning for me, and how’s everyone out there doing?

JUSTIN: We’re going great. Where are you calling in from today?

MARTY GALLAGHER: I’m right outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

JUSTIN: Great, so you started weightlifting as a teenager.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Yes, I actually started as a pre-teen. I’ve been hoisting iron at a serious level for 51 years.

JUSTIN: Wow, what got you started so early, even before you were a teenager?

MARTY GALLAGHER: I came up in a sort of the weightlifting equivalent of the Gracie jujitsu clan. I was born and raised in a hot bed of olympic weightlifting activities, and from a very early age, I was really pushing big weights in a serious way, training with grown men, competing regionally and nationally. When I was still a teen, I got into the whole philosophy of physical transformation. As a result of lifting, I expanded my horizons. I worked for a Weider organization for ten years as a writer on body building and I got to know all the top body builders of the 80’s and 90’s and became very familar with their dietary provisons. So say what you want about body builders, they are the world’s dieters when it comes to low body fat percentiles.

So between my lifting and my exposure to the body builders, I’ve always been a writer and have had over 1,000 articles published since 1978. You know, I’m all of a sudden 62 years old and a sort of senior citizen in the fitness world.

JUSTIN: The question is, did you get your workout in today?

MARTY GALLAGHER: As a matter of fact, I did. I get up every morning at dawn and run for an hour in the woods and I find that that’s the best way to start my day. Since I’m a full time professional writer, my time is my own, so I don’t have to work for the ‘man’. Short of rain, the usually how I start my day. I’ll get out, I wouldn’t call it a run, more of a jog trot type of thing, but it gets the metabolism kicking and clears the head. I think it’s a real advantage to suck in the super oxgenated outdoor air, as opposed to the stale recycled gym air. Who knows what exhalations the guy next to you on the treadmill is poluting the atmosphere with, you know.

JUSTIN: Right. Is there truth to the idea, I’ve seen a lot of the USC fighters, they mention that they run early in the morning because it helps spike their metabolism for the day. You kind of just mentioned that. Does that help with the metabolism?

MARTY GALLAGHER: Absolutely. The cardio has to be intense enough to spike the metabolism. That’s easy science. What most folks don’t realize is that the metabolism, once you engage in some sort of exercise activity that is intense enough to spike it, it will remain spiked for hours after the cessation of the session. With body builders, one tactile wrinkle that they use, that I’ve expropriated, they would, and I also, would engage in an intense cardio session first thing in the morning before eating. Coming of the sweet fast, the lysogen stores are at their lowest, and lysogen is the body’s favorite form of fuel. So, in the absence of lysogen, and when subjected to an intense exercise, the body will be forced to burn it’s second favorite source of fuel, which is body fat. So, by using this little technical wrinkle and by engaging in an intense exercise session before you eat the first meal of the day, you literally force the body to burn body fat. That’s why if you go into any big time body building gym, you will see them all lined up doing their cardio first thing in the morning.

JUSTIN: By intense do you mean that you do it for a long period of time, or just short and intense cardio.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Well, I think cardio should be alternated in the same way that we strategically alternate resistance training and also strategically alternate diets. The human body is a miraculous organism. If you subject it to any training or nutritional regimen long enough, it will neutralize the effects. It will…..7.52….homeostasis, so if you continue to do the same thing over and over, and in the same way, the body will neutraize the effects, and the reason you go into commercial gyms and you see the same guys at the same time, doing the same thing over and over, and the reason they never change is because their bodies have adapted to what they’re doing. We’ve continually got to, classical periodization, which is sort of the highest level of sports. Periodization, we generally look to switch dramatically training routines about every four weeks. After about four weeks, the body will neutralize whatever it is you’ve been doing.

JUSTIN: Yes, I’ve heard three weeks and four weeks all throughout the time that I’ve been working out too. So, how do you couple that with, I know you’re a proponent of more of the compound exercises and things like that. There’s only a handful of those, so how do you couple that with changing out your workout if there’s only a handful of the compound exercises?

MARTY GALLAGHER: That’s actually a very good question and the answer is that there is a universe of variations within each of the core four. We believe that the somatic basis of resistance training revolves around four specific movements, squats, deep knee bends, the bench press, dead lift and the overhead press.
Now, if you take a squat for example, there are at least 20 variations that you can utilize just doing free weight squatting. We’re big believers in free weights. The problem with resistance machines, they eliminate what we call the third dimension of tension. There’s no need to control side to side movement with the machine, as the machine does that for you. You’re locked into a predetermined groove. You allowed to just push or pull. The free weight will requires that you also keep the payload within a specific motor pathway and that causes muscle stabilizers to fire. Machine makers lead you to believe that the machine that mimics a particular free weight movement, is good, when factually, that’s a huge myth.

JUSTIN: Would you recommend machines for anyone, like say if they’re injured or if they’re old.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Oh yes, obviously a resistance machine is better than no resistance training. We are crazed about technique and I basically use the same strategy all the way from the obese to the elite. And that strategy is, first of all, we introduce folks to techniques of the four core list that they have never been exposed to to begin with. We are big believers in full and complete range of motion. Everyone else in resistance training is looking for ways to make resistance training easier, which, if you think about it, is an irresolvable contradiction in terms. Why would you want to make resistance easier? We want to make resistance harder. So to that end, we’ll do things like ultra deep squats, that in addition to having an extreme range of motion, we’ll also pause them at the bottom. Generally speaking, in resistance training if it’s excruciating, you’re probably doing it right.

JUSTIN: That’s good to know. Those exercises are the same ones that I do, squats, overhead press, deadlift bench press. Something I had a question about, those are typically considered compound exercises.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Compound multi joint …11.39….movers, indeed.

JUSTIN: I’ve always wondered why the bench press is included in that, because it seems like kind of an isolation exercise, but apparently it’s not.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Again, keep in mind there are at least a dozen variations of bar bell benching and we haven’t even brought in dumb bells. Classically performed bench press will activate triceps, front deltoids, pec minor and pec major. It is the finest single upper body developer. Now, if you alter your grip, the wider the grip you have, the more pec-centric it becomes, the narrower the grip the more triceps-centric. In between, you have all these shades of grey, so when you get to a shoulder width grip it’s fairly evenly divided between chest, triceps and front deltoids. Most elite bench presses favor a wider grip, because they want to use the massive pec muscles. So, grip width has a tremendous variance in terms of technique, where the bar touches on the chest, whether or not you use a short pause, a long pause, whether or not you use a touch and go, whether or not you use dumb bells. Dumb bells are one strategy that we use for complete beginners. We’ll have them do paused dumb bell benches, where we will actually have them release their tension at the bottom an allow the dumb bells to create a pre-stretch and in doing this, it’s one of what my Navy Seals told me, it’s almost like yoga with weights. So, that’s how we engrain really, really core techniques.

We have, typically, five sequential variations within each of the four techniques, and we don’t allow someone who is studying in our system to progress until they have mastered the initial technique, and then the secondary technique will be a variation of that somatic basic, and then on and on we go, until finally we’re at what most consider classic exercise techniques.

The problem with most resistance training today is that they have people jump in on techniques that they really have no business messing with. A lot of trainers will actually have the people that they’re teaching squats to, to do, what we call, a low ball power squat, which is malpractise literally. We want to isolate, we want our squats to build ……14.23….we want our benches to build front torso or shoulder presses to build shoulders, traps, upper pecs and we want the deadlift to build backs. Between these four movements, you will hit all 600 plus muscles on the human body.

Another interesting thing about our system is it is executed with the requisite intensity. We only have each lift work once a week, so you would squat once a week, bench once a week, overhead press once a week and deadlift once a week. Now this makes for a very time compressed efficient strength system, and this is why it is of particular interest to the military, because the special operators that I work with, time is their most important commodity. They approached me and said ‘can you devise for us, a no-compromised strength system that has a minimum time investment’? They’d been having a lot of these body builder types and these football strength coach types and they were all trying to jam the spec opps operators into their own system, when in fact, they needed a really, really different approach. The approach …….15.30….is perfect for anyone who is serious about resistance training but doesn’t care to spend 6 hours a week in the gym. For a beginner to an intermediate, you can do our system with one cumulative hour a week of resistance training.

JUSTIN: Really, is that four different days of the week?

MARTY GALLAGHER: No, typically we would, on day one, squat and bench, day two, deadlift and overhead press. Again, I’m speaking of someone with average strength, Obviously, if you’re super strong, it’s going to take you longer, but a relatively normal individual is going to be able to get through each of those workouts in probably 20 minutes.

JUSTIN: It doesn’t really take much, if you really think about it. It doesn’t take a lot of time to really stretch those muscles, does it?

MARTY GALLAGHER: Correct. In fact, you’ve hit on another important point. If anyone tells me they’ve spent two hours in the gym doing resistance training, I immediately know that they are completely devoid of any intensity. They’ve substituted duration for intensity. Our whole approach is that intensity trumps everything. If you’re working with me, I want to decimate whatever muscle we’re working on and be done with it.

JUSTIN: Sometimes those are the people who really do intense workouts, but they spend the rest of the time talking and meeting people and stuff like that.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Well, that’s a contradiction in terms. Nobody talks who is working with me.

JUSTIN: That’s a good thing! We have to take a quick break.

MARTY GALLAGHER: I can guarantee that!

JUSTIN: They wouldn’t have enough breath to do that.

MARTY GALLAGHER: They will hear my big mouth.

JUSTIN: That’s great! We have to take a quick break. I want to talk to you about squats and why squats are so important for people to do. We’re with Marty Gallagher and his book called The Purposeful Primitive and we’re going to talk to him more about that as well, after the break. You can find that on We’re with Marty Gallagher and we’ll be right back.

Hey, what’s up everybody? I just wanted to talk to you a little bit the Paleo Summit and it’s put together by our man, Sean Croxton. This is a summit that took place live, over eight days, and I believe there are 23 video presentations, 23 audio files, 18 hours of cutting-edge information and 300 pages of transcript.

This program is really an amazing program. If you’re looking to make some permanent changes in your diet, if you’re tired of struggling with fat loss or weight loss and you’re struggling with food addictions and you’re just looking for a permanent solution, this is definitely something you want to check out. You can find it at They talk about things like gluten sensitivities, how to curb food addictions and cut back on food cravings, how animal foods and things like cholesterol do not cause heart disease or degenerative diseases, as well as how to deal with things like bone loss, cancer, muscle pain, autoimmune diseases, how to burn fat and all that kind of stuff. If you’re looking to change your diet once and for all, definitely check that out. It’s at

Alright, let’s get back to this interview. We are with Marty Gallagher, author of The Purposeful Primitive and I would definitely check out that book on

Prior to the break, we were talking about squats. So Marty, a lot of people don’t realize that squats are one of the most important exercises people can do. Why are squats that critical for your workout routine?

MARTY GALLAGHER: First off, squats are maligned. They are subject to a lot of haters. There’s a lot of people out there who desperately want to believe that, we’ve heard them all, squats are bad for the knees, squats are dangerous and it goes on and on and on. The second problem that we have when we approach the squat, is that 99.9% of the time, squats are taught incorrectly. Almost every personal trainer and every muscle expert teaches squats from the top down. Our approach is that we build squats from the bottom up. We want complete, complete range of motion. Everyone for their particular structure has an appropriate stance for squatting. You need to find that stance that allows you to squat all the way down, and like a Vietnamese rice farmer, repairing the fishing net, you just kind of sit down there and you lose your thigh tension and you become very comfortable with being in that bottomed out position. Once you’re able to determine, again through a combination of your stance width and your balance, where that point it, we spend hours talking about how to properly arise from the depth of the squat.

Typically what happens is that the trainee will allow the tailbone to shoot up behind them and then they will have this sort of segmented arising, when we stress is that we want a vertical torso, vertical shins and the only thing that moves is the femurs. That makes the squat a leg exercise. What happens is that when you’re trying to come up from a heavy squat, the legs send a subconscious signal to the brain. This all happens in a manner that says ‘this payload, even if it’s just the torso, is really heavy, we need some help down here’. So, the brain will signal back to the leg and say, ‘here’s an idea, if you let your tailbone shot up behind you, what that will do is that you won’t have to lift the torso, as this will allow your thighs to assume a more advantageous telescope push position and you can raise up with greater ease’. Well, we don’t want to raise up with greater ease, we want to have the trainee rise up initially with the full weight of their payload and become very adept at that. Typically, we like to see someone be able to do 3 sets of 15 reps in the ….21.44…pause no-weight squat, before we allow them to graduate to a kettlebell squat. The kettle ball squat is actually called a goblet squat and you sort of hold the kettlebell at your chest. You do the same thing, you sink all the way down to the bottom and then you arise, keeping the torso vertical, keeping the shins vertical, nothing but femur moving, and then after you’re able to do 3 sets of 8-10 reps handling a modest kettlebell, then we’ll switch the trainee to front squats.

We love the front squat, because the bar is positioned in a rack position at the collar bone and forces the trainee to descend and ascend with again, the all important vertical torso. If you forward and front squat, the bar is going to pop off your chest and fall to the floor. Only if you’ve mastered the no-weight squat, the goblet squat and the front squat do we let you go to the barbell back squat, and then we want the high barbell back squat. Everyone else in the world, initially they jump their people in on barbell back squats, and what happens is the squat becomes an invition to lean forward. So, what they do, rather than squatting down with the barbell behind the neck, they lean forward. You see this in every picture. Just pick up any fitness magazine and look at their examples of squatting. They lean so far forward that the bar is actually in front of the knees. This becomes a hip exercise and not a leg exercise.

That gives you a little snapshot of how we do it and that would be the squat. We have equally stringent technical guidelines for the bench, for the overhead press and for the deadlift.

JUSTIN: When you’re doing free weights, it’s ultra critical to have your form correct.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Absolutely. You don’t get to use free weights until you can do the form without the free weights. How can you do proper form with free weights if you can’t do proper form without free weights, or any weight.

JUSTIN: In your book, do you talk about the correct form of all of these exercises.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Yes, there’s a big section on technique. Technique was drilled into me. My mentors were world champion lifters and, from the time I was 11 years old, I had technique, technique, technique drilled into my head. In turn, it’s my turn to give it back. Technique also keeps you safe. 90% of the resistance training injuries occur when the bar or the payload strays outside the precise technical parameters of a properly performed lift.

JUSTIN: If someone wanted to do these types of exercises, the four that you’re mentioning, is there any limitations in terms of someone’s age or if someone’s pregnant? Obviously, pregnancy is going to be different!! Are there limitations there?

MARTY GALLAGHER: I don’t know, I mean it’s hard to make a blanket generalization like that. I can tell you this. I’ve got 60 year old, out of shape, beginners who make fabulous progress. Our strategy is this for everyone. Initially, we want to make light weights heavy. Then we have an interim phase and only when we get to the advanced stage, do we make heavy weights light. Okay? So making light weights heavy, we get maximum resistance benefit from very small weights. Then again, this all leads back to extreme range of motion and technical perfection. We love pauses, like at the bottom of a squat and pauses at the bottom of a bench press. This makes it more difficult. Again, our philophesy is we’re seeking ways to make resistance training more difficult. Everyone else is seeking ways to make resistance training easier.

I just think that this allegiance to technical perfection in lifting. I’ve won three world championships, six national championships and I’ve been in this game for 50 years and I’ve never had a back, leg, knee or ankle issue. I do work with Dr. Stuart McGill out of Canada, the worlds leading spine biomechanics, and he is convinced that because of my pristine lifting techniques, have actually strengthened, not only my spine but the muscles surrounding my spine. I have no knee problems and again, I’m a social security recipient.

JUSTIN: And that’s after doing a 722 lb squat at one point?

MARTY GALLAGHER: Yes, I did more than that. I handled 840 back when I was 33.

JUSTIN: Wow, 840 lbs. I’ve heard a lot of people say that the squat, because it’s such a large muscle, your body releases more hormones. Is that true?

MARTY GALLAGHER: Yes, we’re big believers in training with enough intensity, regardless of the lift, to trigger the release of endorphins. Endorphins are huge. Science is going to catch up. I’m actually doing a book with Dr.
Chris Hardy, who is with the Everett Clinic. Chris and I are both looking into the relationship between intense physical training and endorphins. Adrenaline is sort of the superficial hormone, that’s sort of a ….27.12 …. thing, but if you take all of these hormonal releases, they are the precursor of the signal that you’ve actually engaged in a productive workout. Most people go through the motions in their resistance training, but they do not train hard enough to trigger hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is not a gradual process. Hypertrophy is like flipping a switch, it either is or it isn’t. Hypertrophy is sort of the ……27.42…..equivalent of a nuclear explosion.

You can go into a gym and you can train submaximally and be very comfortable and talk to your neighbor while you’re doing your sets of bench presses and you know, it’s all very pleasant and nice, and nothing ever happens. The endorphins are sort of the signifier that you’re training hard enough to get actual results. Again, what do we look for resistance training for? To build muscle, strengthen the body and make us more injury resistant. Strong muscles, strong tendons and strong li`gaments, these are all injury reducers. We don’t look to weight training for any kind of cardio benefit, do you follow me? We do cardio for cardio benefit, we do resistance training to build muscle and if you want to lose fat, you’re going to have to factor in nutrition, combined with your cardio and you’re going to have to talk about energy balance equation and you’re going to have to get serious about micronutrient composition. These are all interrelated elements. The big problem with fitness is that everybody is segmented. Everybody wants to be an expert in one of four areas. They might be the cardio expert or they might be the lifting expert. They might be the nutritio expert, but in order to transform the human body, which really is what fitness is. When you say fitness, I think of transformatiom.

If you really want to transform the human body, you have four elements, resistance training, cardio, nutrition and psychological. In my book, I have four sections on these four interrelated critical elements.

JUSTIN: When you were talking a minute ago about hypertrophy.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Hypertrophy, muscle growth.

JUSTIN: When you were talking about that, does that mean that you’re actually, you know a lot of body builders are doing curls and really isolation exercises. When you’re really breaking down the muscle like you’re talking about, does that mean you’re actually digging deep all the way down to the bottom of the muscle and you’re tearing every single fiber of the muscle?

MARTY GALLAGHER: I wouldn’t look at it like that. I think a better way to look at it is that the human body is not going to favorably reconfigure itself in response to ease and sameness. Would you agree?

JUSTIN: Yes, exactly.

MARTY GALLAGHER: So, if we go with that kind of directive, we say yes, there’s truth in that. We’ll get to examine this. So, if that’s the case, what do we have to do in order to force the body to transfigure? Well, we have to take it to the limit or past the limit. It’s not going to reconfigure itself in response to submaximal effort. So, if we have to hit a limit, or exceed the limit, then the question becomes ‘how do we define limit’? Limit can have a lot of different definitions and that’s where we tune into our periodization and that’s where we look at, well. you know we could exceed a high rep limit. That would be exceeding a limit. We could exceed a low rep limit. If we’re doing cardio, we could run the same distance faster. We could maintain our intensity, but increase the duration. There are different ways in which we can goose limits. First we have to be aware of our limits and then we have to have different strategies to exceed the limits. Now, the problem with exceeding limits, is you do it and do it consistently, then you really get into the issue of recovery. That’s part of the reason why we only have our trainees do each lift once a week, because it allows us six full days to recover. That muscle that has been
decimated in some manner or fashion, needs to rest and recover and heal and grow. Again, it all fits together in this kind of giant crazed transformational matrix.

JUSTIN: With what you’re talking about, let’s say the chest once a week, I think the problem would be for a lot of people would be if they listen to this and didn’t go through your training methods, would be to do a chest exercise, and not necessarily get the right form, but not really take themselves to a limit to where they actually need a full six days. In other words, I would imagine that a lot of people might just do a kind of easy chest exercise and feel like they’ve got six days to recover.

MARTY GALLAGHER: They may as well go bowling or play golf!

JUSTIN: So, you really need to do it correctly in order to have the advantage of having six days off, right?

MARTY GALLAGHER: Of course. If you don’t equal or exceed the limit, what is there to rest from?

JUSTIN: Yes, I can see how people would run into that problem.

MARTY GALLAGHER: This is not particularly pleasant, but it’s factual. This is the true method of true champions. Do you really think that champion athletes who have successfully reconfigured their body, have done this by yawnig their way through their routines? No, you have to bleed a little bit. That’s the sad truth of fitness. Everyone wants to sell you an easy method, which will allow you to short cut, circumvent all the blood, sweat, tears and toil connected with fitness. Humans will always buy that, whether it’s a pill, whether it’s a magical method that we all fall prey to, as we don’t want to bleed all over the gym floor in order to get results. But, all that stuff is just myth. It’s ridiculous.

JUSTIN: I want to ask you a couple of questions about something you said a minute ago about nutrition. But, I want to get this break out of the way so that we will have some time to talk.

We’re with Marty Gallagher and his book The Purposeful Primitive. If this sounds interesting to you, you can check it out on or Amazon. We’ll be right back with Marty Gallagher.

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JUSTIN: Alright, thank you for joining us. We’re with Marty Gallagher from dragondoor. His book Purposeful Primitive is available on that website, or on

Marty, I wanted to ask you, you mentioned something a while back that kind of caught my ears and it’s something that I don’t hear at the gym that I go to, ever. You mentioned the word ‘phytonutrients’. When I overhear trainers talking to people, it’s always ‘macronutrients’, carbs and protein.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Yes, and again I honestly don’t want to get too hung up on that, because the crux of our nutritional strategy is based upon our work with the lead athletes. What we have found is that optimally, there is no one diet that trumps all others. Taste preference is a huge thing. I have had athletes who have made phenominal progress. How do we define nutritional progress? I would define nutritional progress as follows: Obviously, health considerations, get your blood work done and all that. But, the ultimate bottom line, for me, is reduction in body fat percentile. I have had athletes who have had successfully reduced their body fat percentiles into single digits, below 10%, basically living on carbs. I’ve had other athletetes who have reduced their body fat percentiles to single digits, basically living on fat and protein. There is no one single dietary approach that trumps all others and there’s great logic to rotating diets in the same way that we might rotate training programs.

Again, the body is always seeking that homeostasis. It’s always looking to neutralize the effects of whatever you’re subjecting it to. One thing that we do, with great success, is we might alter my friend, Ori Hofmekler’s, Warrior Diet approach, which is a meal timing strategy, with my friend John Carillo’s body building approach, which is another multiple meal, meal timing strategy, so you get your timing issues. You can approach it if your particular taste preference leans more toward carbs, then fine. You can base your diet around that. If your taste preference is more toward fat, we are not fat phobic. There’s a jihad against fat amongst the medical community. If you read the works of Gary Taubes and some of these other folks out there, you will see that the real enemy is not fat. The real enemy is refined carbs, these estrogenic producing foods that are everywhere, and these artificial beverages. Again, please have an open mind and don’t follow the mainstream propaganda ‘if you just elimiate fat everything will be fine’. It’s another myth.

JUSTIN: In your book, the four ……37.58… that you talk about, what are some of the psychological aspects that you mention in your book.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Well, we think the psychological aspect of fitness is easily the most overlooked critical aspect. And, just in a nutshell, we can start with this. Everybody thinks that fitness is some grand act of willpower. The problem with willpower, willpower is finite. Every act of will must come to an end. Willpower implies that you’re doing something that you would prefer not to do. We seek to develop enthusiasm, enthusiasm to the process, enthusiasm is self-regenerating. It’s like solar power and if you can become enthusiastic about the fitness process, then invariably you’re going to be successful, because you will have the longevity that’s necessary to see it through to success.

Now, the problem with enthusiasm is how do you generate fitness enthusiasm? In our experience, it comes down to one word, ‘results’. You get tangible, mathmatically defineable physical results. You start seeing changes in your body fat percentile. You start picking up some muscle, you start feeling better. These are real results and that’s what generates enthusiasm for the process. The more results,the greater the enthusiasm. The greater the enthusiasm the more results. Round and round it goes. So, we look to get results for people new to our system quickly. Like, within 7 days, because we want to hook them on the fact that ‘no, if you do lock down all these interrelated aspects, first off you’re going to feel a hell of a lot better within the first 7 days. Within the first 14 days, you’re going to start seeing physical changes. Within the first month, you’re going to start seeing changes to the point that you’re going to be dropping pant sizes or dress sizes. By the end of two months, friends and neighbors are going to start noticing and, at the end of three months, you’re going to be a new person. This again, assumes that you lock down your resistance training element, your cardiovascular training element and your nutrition element. All of this is powered by the psychological.

In addition to this enthusiasm, which is a long-term psychological element, you also have this, what we call, psyche. Top athletes use psyche in their workouts to improve performance. It’s a learned skill. The more that you try to apply psyche in your training, the better at it you become.

Top lead athletes will be able to improve performance in a workout, anywhere from 5-10%, just by getting their psyche won. The opposite of psyche is casual distractedness that you see in gyms. People want to be distracted or watch TV while they’re pedaling on cardio, what’s up with that? Well, what they’re doing is so gruesome that they need distraction. This is exactly what we don’t want. This is why I go out in nature every day. I want to do my running outside. I want to have to pay attention to a degree that if I space out, I’m going to trip over a root. My cardio, done outdoors on mountain trails, actually forces me to amplify my concentration. I become one with the activity. This is the complete opposite of becoming somnolistic spaced out, sitting on a stationary bike in a commercial gym, pedaling while watching television. These are all different psychological tricks that we use to elicit progress. Everything is about progress. If you’re not making progress, get rid of the system that you’re working with.

JUSTIN: Would you recommend someone, if they wanted to implement some of these principles, to pick up your book and want to get started. Would you recommend that they join a gym or buy some free weights to use in their garage?

MARTY GALLAGHER: I guess all of the above. You know what I mean? I don’t belong to a gym and have my weights in my garage. I know what I’m doing, but there’s no blanket answer to that question. We can work with anybody’s circumstance. I do personal training at high-end level, and I work with individuals literally around the world, in every circumstance. In most cases, these are high powered business people, who can afford my expensive services, and they have all different types of circumstance. I’ve got clients in Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Austria and everywhere, and in each case, we’re able to elicit results for them, based upon what their situation is, based upon what tools they have available, based upon their available time.

Our system is very pliable, it’s very malleable, but it’s founded on a couple of principals. Number one is, in resistance training, technique and intensity, number two, cardio, working to the point that you’re triggering endorphins, number three, nutrition, finding a diet plan that works for you. Generally speaking on nutrition, you either want to be carb centric or fat centric. We love protein for both, because protein builds and maintains muscles. So, regardless if you want to be primarily a carb eater or primarily a fat eater, you need ample amounts of protein. We suggest at least 1/2 gram a day for sort of a normal person. If you’re an athlete, you certainly a gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. The trick is, don’t mix protein and fat. If you mix them, you’re going to get bad results. You will not lose that body fat.

Again, the natural carbs, obviously refined carbs, man-made stuff, chips, soda and alcohol, other than occasionally and periodically. This stuff has got to go because our insulin has gone crazy as a result of ingesting these man-made artificial foods, and we become insulin resistant because our receptor sites are continually clogged and we’re just not able to clear this stuff. The first thing we like to do is detoxify our people, get them off that stuff and I tell you, almost every case, just by eliminating the man-made refined foods, it’s miraculous. They feel better, they start losing body fat and they’re not even dieting.

I don’t mean to cover so much ground! Every time you ask me a question, I give you five answers, but one always ties to the next, to the next, to the next.

JUSTIN: A minute ago you were talking about mixing proteins and fats.

MARTY GALLAGHER: No, protein and fat are fine. Protein and carbs are fine, but fat and carbs are not fine.

JUSTIN: I see. Okay, so you want not to have a meal that contains those items in one sitting.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Yes, and again, I love Italian food and that is my favorite. But Pasta and butter, you know what I mean, and cheese is exactly what we don’t want, because there you’ve got refined man-made carbs mixed with fat and the result is disastrous if you’re looking to lose body fat, which is what everyone in fitness wants to do. They want to lose body fat.

JUSTIN: That’s a good tip. What do you make of, I hear a lot of people at gyms talking about this time under tension philosophy with working out. Can you explain what that is and whether or not it works well for people?

MARTY GALLAGHER: I don’t know what the current bumper sticker sound bite is, but time under tension is classical resistance training strategy, because is if you’re lifting a weight, you’re inducing muscle tension, right? So, then the question becomes how long is the sum total of your time under tension. I think what they’re probably trying to get at is longer duration. When you prefer short intense sessions, for example, if a man is able to squat let’s say 200 lbs for 5 reps, he would come into the gym and he would probably handle, I don’t know, maybe 95 for 8-10, just to get some blood into the area. He would take a rest maybe for a couple of minutes. He’d jump to 135 and probably do 2-3 reps. We’d probably jump him to 165 for 1 rep and then we’d have him do his top set, his work set of 200 for 5 reps. If you mixed the 200 for 5, then the next week we’ll jump him to 205 for 5 and repeat the process. Now we have all different types of cycling and periodization strategies and we’ll also use multiple sets. But that’s sort of the basic resistance training strategy.

In terms of time under tension, how do you define tension? Use a 95 lb set for 12, is that tension? Or is only the 200 lb for 5, tension? There’s tension and then there’s tension.

JUSTIN: Now, when you do those types of exercises, do you pyramid back down?

MARTY GALLAGHER: No, if anything we would do multiple top sets. For my military guys, my advanced military guys, we have a strategy. If a man is able to handle a particular poundage for 3 sets of 5 reps, regardless of the lift, it can be said that that man owns that poundage. Let’s take the 200 lb squat. If a man is able to do 3 sets of 5 reps with 200 lbs in the front squat, well he owns that 200. So then the question becomes what’s next? Let’s jump to 210. Now, how do we transition from being able to do 3 sets of 5 with 200 to handling the 210? One strategy that we’ll use is that we might start him off, and again this is work sets after he’s warmed up, with 4 sets of 3 with 210. A man who can do 3 sets of 5 with 200, certainly can do a triple with 210. So, we might have 4 sets of 3 with 210 and then the following week we might have 3 sets of 4 with 210. The week after that we might have 2 sets of 5 with 210, and then in the following weeks we’d have him do 3 sets of 5 with 210. Now he owns 210. This is periodization strategy at an elite level.

JUSTIN: I know that a lot of people, especially a lot of paleo types of people, they love the cross fit. I’ve never done cross fit, but how does cross fit differ from some of the principals you’re talking about?

MARTY GALLAGHER: I don’t know and don’t really care, as it doesn’t concern me. My friends call me a ‘fitness monk’. I am not one that is seen. I don’t pay attention to trends. I work with elite athletes and I work with elite military. I don’t care what’s going on in the wider fitness world. This …..49.34…… a philosophy, it’s not a collection.

JUSTIN: That’s so great. Do you do anything else for your fitness, things like tai chi, yoga or chi gong and stuff like that?

MARTY GALLAGHER: Years ago I did seven years of tai chi, bogwashing me under Robert Smith. Anyone who knows anything about old school martial arts, knows that Bob Smith was a top flight guy, a CIA operative in Taiwan and probably one of the foremost early proponents of the Chinese internal martial arts. I did that for seven years. You know, I played ball at different levels, but was a class-B raquetball player club champion, but these are distractions, do you follow me? Not things that I do with complete intensity.

JUSTIN: I do a little bit of yoga myself and I’ve been doing a lot of heavy weight training for a while too. I think I’m going to pick up your book.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Good, and then invite me back on after you’ve absorbed it, and then you can ask me some good type quetions. Okay, I’ve got the book, now what do we do? Do you follow me?

JUSTIN: Exactly.

MARTY GALLAGHER: I’d love to work with you on that.

JUSTIN: That would be great. People can pick up that book on and on Amazon. You mentioned a while ago, we’re just going to close up and wrap here, but you mentioned a while ago about some other things you’re working on, I think another book?

MARTY GALLAGHER: Oh yeah, I’ve got projects galore, coming out of my wise ears. I’ve got two books, I’m working on a book with Mark Rippetoe, it’s ‘Starting Strength’ that I’m very excited about, sort of old school lifters and their different strategies. I’ve got a book coming out with dragondoor that is tentatively called ‘The Soft Machine’. It’s a takeoff on William Burrows description of the human body. I do six articles a month for four different magazines. I’m a busy writer.

JUSTIN: You said you are in your early 60s. How far do you think you can take your strength training in terms of your age? Can you keep going for as long as you like?

MARTY GALLAGHER: My 45 year old wife thinks so. A former Miss Maryland and a fantastic athlete herself. I don’t pound the super heavy weights anymore, but relative to my age, that’s another good point. There’s no need for me to handle 700-800 lbs anymore. Do you follow me? I’m fine with handling 400-500 lbs and I don’t have a problem with that. Some guys my age do. They think ‘if I can’t handle 800 anymore, I quit’. And of course what happens is, they turn into fat guys, because they love the old eating habits. They don’t want to give those up, but they let the training go.

JUSTIN: Well, thank you Marty for joining us. I’m so excited about your program and I love working out myself, and this would be great for me to pick up. Thanks for spending some time with us, I appreciate it.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Sure man, have me back on again and we’ll get into it deeper.

JUSTIN: I would love that. Thanks Marty.

MARTY GALLAGHER: Bye my friend, thank you.

JUSTIN: That was a really fun interview with Marty Gallagher and I hope you enjoyed it. I did. I love working out so that was kind of fun for me. I love his principles and what he stands for, as well as all of his ideas. I think it’s just basic and simple, and I just thought that was really great.

Thanks for listening and I really appreciate that. I hope you got a lot of value from it and hope you start putting some of these training methods to use.

On this page for the show, which is, there will be a link to his Amazon book and all of that, so if buy through us, we’ll get a little commission. Also, if you found value in this interview and you really liked it, could you do me a favor and click ‘like’ on the showpage and also ‘like’ us on facebook. I would really, really appreciate that as we’re kind of relying on all of our listeners to be able to help spread the word for us. Maybe also follow us on twitter and send this link to your friends and some of those types of things. That would really help us a lot to get the word out to grow this network. We want to keep it free for everyone and don’t want to have to charge for this stuff.

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Thank you so much for joining us today. I’m so glad you listened. Send me an email, or give me a call (the phone number is on our website). I’d love to hear from you and would love to hear how your successes are going out there.

Thanks again for joining us and look forward to the next episode.

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