109 – Q&A: If you want to build muscle, fix your health first

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Welcome back to another great Q&A where listeners get a chance to have their questions answered by Ben and Ashleigh! We start today off hearing some updates on how our hosts have been coping in isolation, and they speak about the value of keeping positive, working hard and eating right, but also knowing how to relax at the end of it all. From there, things move into the subject of good health and the foundational role it plays in achieving optimal physical performance. Ben shares a few tips for what a well-rounded workout involves and then gets deeper into all the things that should be focussed on before that. These, of course, are his six pillars, and listeners get a chance to hear a more in-depth description of what some of them entail. Ben focuses heavily on breathing and we hear about the benefits of building Co2 tolerance through low-intensity interval trainings and other techniques. Today’s show also looks at resilience from other angles, and Ben gives listeners all they need to know about how we can learn to program the parasympathetic nervous system to be able to cope with different stressors whether we are genetically inclined to do so or not. Some other questions introduce ideas around managing inflammation, keto workouts, achieving both growth and longevity, and some of what goes into Ben’s approach to coaching. We wrap things up with a nod to the show’s awesome sponsor, Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil, and remind listeners that they can get a bottle for just a dollar by heading over to getfresh35.com and using the code ‘getfresh35’.


  • The value of working extra hard but knowing how to relax during the crisis. [0:18]
  • Gratitude, delegation, supplements, and overworking to cope right now. [5:01]
  • The gradual ease of quarantine and Ben’s focus on upcoming projects in the quiet. [12:01]
  • Negligent coaches and the value of tailoring workouts to your level. [15:20]
  • Optimizing health before building muscle and the foundations of an optimal physique. [17:26]
  • The breathing side of fitness and becoming more carbon dioxide tolerant using LIITs. [19:25]
  • How aerobics, mobility and stability, and strength and skill make up good fitness. [23:57]
  • Benefits of the OURA ring and where to find good supplements in Canada. [28:01]
  • How Ben’s six pillars of optimization appear in his programs. [32:17]
  • Working with your body to build muscle using a health first approach, not steroids. [36:25]
  • Managing stress by gaining conscious control over the autonomic nervous system. [41:31]
  • Ben’s coaching focus on breathing, walking, and meditation before muscle building. [44:42]
  • Setting diet and workout parameters to achieve growth and longevity. [48:28]
  • The long list of habits and nutrients that affect inflammation. [51:47]
  • Finding the missing pieces to optimum health and the aim of this podcast. [54:02]
  • Overcoming attachments to self-limiting beliefs and getting through this hard time. [56:02]
  • Ben’s love for olive oil and the process behind Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil. [1:00:09]
  • The differences between keto and carbohydrate-heavy workouts. [1:05:04]

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Ben Pakulski

Ben Pakulski

Since first lifting weights as a teenager, Ben has been on a mission to do whatever it takes… …to become the most muscular man on the planet! On the eve of The Arnold Classic, he confronts the dark realities of bodybuilding… And his own future! Follow him on his journey…

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About the Podcast

Formerly the Muscle Expert Podcast. The world’s top authority on intelligent muscle building and fat loss gives us a simple to understand deep dive into the complex world of building a body you love, and living your greatness. Weekly interviews with leading experts in a vast number of scientific fields focusing on health optimization (nutrition, sleep, hormones, mindfulness and mind set), strength, (both physical and mental), and muscle hypertrophy. Learn proven strategies for optimum life performance, whether it be in the gym, the board room or the bedroom; this is the blueprint for becoming the upgraded modern man. Ladies, this podcast is for you too. The topics, tips, and life hacks covered are essential for every individual who wants to upgrade themselves mentally and physically.

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