Ben Pakulski on Building Muscle & How Stress Slows Gains

by Mike Mutzel


Show Notes:

About Ben Pakulski

Ben Pakulski is a Canadian IFBB professional bodybuilder and winner of the 2008 Mr. Canada competition. In the IFBB, he finished 2nd twice in 2008. He has increased his standing in the Arnold Classic competition, placing 2nd in 2013, after a 4th-place finish in 2012 and a 10th-place finish in 2011. In the 2012 Mr. Olympia contest, his first-ever, he finished 11th.


Show Notes:

01:07 NLP (neurolinguistic programming) helped Ben to dramatically and permanently shift his relationship with his dad.
04:26 Bodybuilding brought Ben emotional strength. It was also a way to look cool, feel awesome and get hot chicks. He fell in love with the discipline and science.
06:15 Your ultimate journey is inside. Every man chases external objectives, yet accomplishing them does not change things. It is about the journey and the lessons learned along the way.
10:22 For years Ben set the intention each day that he would do the hardest workout he has ever done.
11:45 The avoidance of pain or the pursuit of pleasure are motivators. Ben had grit and determination that was based in self-loathing. For him, bodybuilding was about avoiding pain.
14:09 The birth of Ben’s children shifted his focus to teaching, which was bigger and more impactful than becoming Mr. Olympia.
16:33 Athletes from before the 1990s learned by watching, feeling and experimentation. This developed a skillset of awareness. Social media is a detriment in the fitness community. People copy without thoughtful consideration.
19:46 The root of all transformation is muscle contraction. Get the most aggressive muscle contraction throughout every second of every rep. The more muscle fiber activated per contraction, the more the caloric demand.
22:20 Work smart before you work hard. Contraction should be the challenge, rather than completion.
24:03 Your body is designed to use as few muscles as possible. When things get challenging, people go faster to use acceleration/momentum to overcome. They use swing in an attempt to not use muscle.
25:44 Create a muscle-centric focus, rather than movement-centric.
29:47 Ben’s course Hypertrophy Mastery delves deep into muscle science and impact for all body parts and all body types. Become a master of your body.
30:25 Get good a very small number of exercises first and then diversify. Eventually, go for novelty.
31:34 Ben believes that reps, sets, volume, and load are irrelevant until you have mastered the foundation of exercise. Make sure that when you pick up a weight, the tension is going to the one desired muscle.
32:30 Do not go to failure on a set until you reach unconscious competence. At failure, you cheat. Make sure every rep is perfect.
34:15 Ben customizes meal number and timing by activity level.
36:42 Immediate post-workout food is a big mistake. Eat when the parasympathetic tone has returned. If you are trying to lose fat, you don’t need to eat post workout.
41:32 Ucan is a non-insulinogenic starch. It helps you stay in ketosis and is good for performance.
41:55 The harder you work, the more stress you create in your body. Too much stress is the kill switch for building muscle. Manipulate the density of your workout as an alternative to high-stress states and create novelty.
46:54 Sending a brief massive amount of muscular stimulus (explosive, multi-joint, dynamic) into the nervous system turns things on and prepares your nervous system for exercise.
48:19 The focus should not be on getting stronger, it should be on getting better. The two main opportunities for progressive overload is the addition of more load or improved execution.
50:42 Muscle building is an internal meditative experience. It is the only way to train if you care about results.
57:00 Things aren’t supposed to hurt. You can train hard with no joint pain.
59:26 Ben’s favorite bodybuilder of all time is Dorian Yates.
01:01:41 Much of bodybuilding does not have to negatively impact health. Detrimental effects can be from painkillers, sleep meds, sleep apnea or party drugs.
01:02:56 Steroids will not change you if the motivation is insecurity. No amount of muscle will make you feel secure.
01:03:45 Competitors should start with their doctor. Hormone products available on the internet are dangerous junk. If you have good testosterone levels, adding hormones will not help as much as you think.
01:06:03 Before hormones can be beneficial for you, address thyroid, adrenals, HPA access, GI stress, and inflammation. It all works in unison.
01:07:45 Ben’s first 30 days of coaching is more of an elimination diet. Get rid of your toxic burden and estrogens. Get rid of your stress. Walk every day.
01:09:01 Extended nasal exhalations will bring down your heart rate almost immediately.
01:10:49 Ben’s morning routine begins with an expression gratitude. He then flosses and brushes his teeth, followed by meditation.
01:20:03 Ben’s desert island nutrient is blueberries or almond butter.
01:21:19 Ben frames his diet around 6 simple foods: wild meat, lots of green vegetables, blueberries, olive oil, avocado and cacao.
01:22:30 Ben’s elevator pitch: Empower every early teen boy and girl with the knowledge and the skill to build their greatest body. Provide a blueprint to the body. You would shift the course of the world.

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