Tyler Yasuda is an elite ranked powerlifter, and natural pro bodybuilder. At only 21 years old, Tyler has established himself in the fitness and coaching communities as a wellspring of training knowledge and innovation. He coaches clients across the globe (including yours truly), not to mention the thousands of YouTube and Instagram followers that devour his content for training guidance. Aside from Tyler’s fitness accolades, he deserves recognition for co-founding Strength Vs. Cancer, a cancer research campaign that fundraises through strength based challenges and activities. Widely respected among industry insiders and outsiders alike, Tyler is skyrocketing into the ranks of the millennial generation’s best coaches.
Team Tytanium x The Campus Gym, Tyler is second from right
I got the chance to ask Tyler a few questions that I think every novice lifter should ask. Scroll down to have your mind blown.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when they are new to weight training?
The list would be way too long if I tried to think of all the common mistakes, so I’ll focus on one. Most lifters tend to allocate most of their time and effort into building strength with very little emphasis on learning and developing the skill of lifting. It makes sense – slapping more weight on the bar is a fun, tangible way to see progress. This type of progress becomes the singular goal and proper skill development takes a back seat. Over enough time, they might learn enough to recognize their technical error, but in most cases, they’ve already built a base of strength in poor positions. Their existing strength then becomes the largest obstacle to the improvement of their technique. The lifter is faced with a tough choice: either continue developing strength in what they now know to be poor positions, or accept a large regression in training numbers for the sake of gradually correcting their technique. This issue could have been circumvented entirely if they had developed good mechanics from the get go.
How should a novice weightlifter structure his or her workouts?
This depends mostly on the lifter’s goals. Training might be very different if the primary goal is strength compared to another lifter whose main goal is hypertrophy [muscle growth]. In general, a good starting point is to focus on one or two compound lifts [e.g. squat, bench, deadlift] along with a few accessory exercises to fill in the gaps for each training day. Other than that, I’d be sure to have a clear distinction between resistance training and cardio. Too many people will compromise performance in their resistance exercises for the sake of burning a few more calories by cutting rest times. Rather than accomplishing both goals at once, they ultimately hinder their progress on both fronts.
Tyler deadlifts 600lbs for 4 reps, 2 shown
How should novices set up training so that they continue to see progress over time, and do not plateau?
Rather than just going into the gym and doing whatever “feels right” that day, it makes sense to plan out your progression over time. One easy way to quantify and track performance is to calculate volume in each exercise. Multiplying your working weight by the total number of working reps done will give you a number for training volume. For example, if you do 3 sets of 10 reps with 200 pounds on your back squat, your volume calculation would be:
3sets * 10 reps/set * 200 lb = 6000 rep*lb
Your goal would be to exceed 6000 rep*lb in your future sessions. You may not increase your working volume in every single session, but as long as the general trend is upward, you know you are progressing.
Are there any exercises or movements that you discourage, or avoid?
I generally believe that exercises are safe when done properly and that most injuries and problems stem from poor technique, but there are definitely some exercises that expose trainees to unnecessary risk. The first example off the top of my head is the whole category of loaded instability exercises (bosu ball barbell back squats and the like). If you want to get stronger or build muscle, then lift some weights. If you want to improve your balance, then practice that skill. Combining the two is not only ineffective, but also fairly dangerous. How bad would it be if you fell off that ball with a barbell on your back?
Stop gluten shaming
Do novice lifters need to squat, bench press, and deadlift in order to see gains?
The only people that need the big three are those that compete in sports that require them to perform those movements. Everyone else could find other movements to replace the big lifts. Take the back squat for example. This movement involves hip flexion, hip extension, knee flexion, knee extension, hip abduction, hip adduction, and isometric stabilization through the torso. You could find other movements to train the same muscular functions to a similar effect, but the squat – and most other compound lifts – gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It might be a lot of work to learn how to do these exercises well, but if you are willing to do the work, they are valuable tools for all strength and physique athletes.
What are your tips for recovery from a big workout?
Food and time. Everyone wants to find an ancient Chinese secret, but as long as you have solid nutrition and sleep, the best you can do is be sure that you give your body enough time to recover. Sure, you can and should do your prehab/mobility/stretching, but there’s not much you can do to accelerate recovery at the rate that most people might hope.
TFW you have so much weight on the bar you need to duct-tape the plates together
What is one food item that every weightlifter should have in his or her pantry?
Frosted Mini Wheats! I’ll admit that this is just my preference, but they taste pretty good, and are easy to pack in your gym bag or just eat throughout the day. They have a decent amount of fiber and protein that will help you stay full until your next meal, and the nutrition is solid for all the people that track their numbers out there.
Are there any foods you suggest weightlifters avoid?
No foods should be totally off limits as long as they are consumed in reasonable amounts. That said, there are probably a few things to avoid before and during training. Don’t eat four pounds of chili, or drink two liters of coke, and then expect to throw on your lifting belt for an intense training session. I can tell you from personal experience that it doesn’t work.
What style of workout or selection of exercises do you recommend for people trying to lose weight?
Training should not be much different than for someone who is looking to build muscle. You’d still want to induce that hypertrophy response to ensure that you hold onto as much muscle as you can, and in order to accomplish that goal, the same principles apply. Do your resistance training to induce that response and adjust your cardio and nutrition to ensure weight loss. Let’s face it – nobody starts a diet saying “I’d like to lose 20 pounds of muscle this year”. Unless that is the case for you, you should be doing everything you can to preserve muscle as you diet down.
Are there any resources you recommend for novices? Websites, books, journals, etc?
Yes, hiring a knowledgeable coach. That was originally going to be a joke, but after thinking about it, I wish I had some guidance when I first got into lifting. I spent a good portion of my first few years discovering what didn’t work. A good coach could have steered me down the right path from the start and saved me from all the trial and error. Coaching isn’t necessary for everyone, but especially for newer trainees, it might be the fastest way to learn and start making sustainable progress. For all those do-it-yourselfers and college students who lack the budget for coaching, there are a ton of free resources out there. Rather than listing all of the books and websites that have probably already been mentioned by others, one suggestion that most people don’t think of is research databases. Most colleges and universities give their students access to their own research database, and you’re technically paying for it, so you might as well get the most of out of your tuition.
Want more? Check out Tyler’s YouTube and Instagram accounts for hours of additional tips, footage, and pictures of food.
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