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TMHS 591: Get Stronger, More Functional, & Pain-Free – With Nsima Inyang
In the fitness world, there are many misconceptions about what it takes to build a strong body. Some of these myths are so pervasive, they could be holding you back or sabotaging your progress. On today’s show, we’re going to clear the air about what’s actually required to build strength and resilience.
Our guest today is Nsima Inyang. Nsima is a lifting coach, professional natural bodybuilder, elite-level powerlifter, and the co-host of Mark Bell’s Power Project. If there’s anyone who knows how to build strength, it’s Nsima – and in this interview, he’s sharing real-world strategies and empowering mindset shifts on human potential.
On this episode of The Model Health Show, Nsima is sharing practical tactics you can use to build a stronger, more resilient, and more functional body. We’re going to talk about how having strong and functional feet can impact other muscles, the importance of creating resilient knees, and the mental benefits of having a physical outlet. This episode is jam-packed with insights on human strength and performance, so listen in and enjoy the show!
In this episode you’ll discover:
- A huge misconception about gaining muscle and losing fat.
- How much protein you need to eat in order to build muscle.
- Why Nsima decided not to become a doctor.
- The importance of having a physical outlet.
- How movement can be helpful for coping with depression.
- Why walking is such an underrated tool.
- What you need to know about foot functionality.
- Why many muscle imbalances start in the foot.
- Simple habits you can implement to promote foot health.
- How to build stronger, more resilient knees.
- The life-changing mindset shift of not identifying with your injuries.
- Why healing is not linear.
- The importance of building rotational ability.
- How to build habits that support your goals.
- What a white belt mentality is.
- The benefits of walking backward.
- How identifying your weaknesses can make you stronger.
- Why the sky is not the limit.
- Three primary tenets to building a functional body.
Items mentioned in this episode include:
- Beekeepersnaturals.com/model — Save 25% on raw honey & other natural remedies!
- Onnit.com/model — Save an exclusive 10% on performance supplements & tools!
- Ready to Run by Dr. Kelly Starrett
- Correct Toes
- Graham Tuttle, @thebarefootsprinter on Instagram
- Ben Patrick, @kneesovertoesguy on Instagram
- Connect with Nsima Inyang Website / Podcast / Instagram / YouTube / TikTok
Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!
SHAWN STEVENSON: Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is fitness and nutrition expert, Shawn Stevenson, and I'm so grateful for you tuning in with me today. This episode is all about becoming a stronger human being, and we're talking about literally from the ground up, from the bottom of your feet to the very top of your head. We will be talking about the mindset required for improving our strength and our fitness, and also the functionality, when I talk about from our feet up, I'm literally talking about the health and strength of our feet as well, and it's going to blow your mind, and also just understanding some of the concepts around building muscle and strengthen, and also being able to maintain functionality along the way, this episode is jam-packed with so many powerful insights, I'm really, really excited to share it with you. Now before just about every episode of The Model Health Show, just to give me that little additional cognitive performance, I have the very best nootropic in the world based on time-tested ingredients, and also one of these things, this was published in the journal of Advanced Biomedical Research and found that the primary ingredient in my nootropic is called royal jelly, and they found that it has the potential to improve spatial learning. Attention and memory.
So spatial learning, so being able to monitor and understand our body and space and the environment, that's pretty important, obviously our attention, our ability to focus, and of course, our memory. So we're talking about something that's tapping in to the powers of our hippocampus, the memory center of our brain, in addition, it has been found to be anti-microbial, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory, and also royal jelly has been found to facilitate the differentiation of all of the types of our brain cells. And on top of this, researchers in Japan discovered that royal jelly has the power to stimulate neurogenesis in the hippocampus itself so the creation of new brain cells, so this isn't some flash in the pan nootropics, this isn't some synthetic just man made cooked up last week by Cousin Vinny. We're talking about something that has thousands of years of documented use, but also now peer-reviewed evidence is affirming just how remarkable royal jelly is for the human brain and cognitive performance. In addition to that, so we got royal jelly plus bacopa. Bacopa was found in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled human trial that after just six weeks of use bacopa significantly improved speed of visual information processing, learning rate, memory consolidation and even decreased anxiety in study participants.
This formula is coming from B. Smart from Beekeeper's Naturals. Go to beekeepersnaturals.com/model, that's beekeepersnaturals.com/model. You get 25% off. They're amazing B. Smart nootropic and also their B.Powered Superfood Honey, it's one of my things I have pretty much on a daily basis as well. Absolutely love everything they're doing because they test for 70 plus pesticide residues that are commonly found in bee products, people have no idea about this, even if it's organic, the standards with conventional bee products are grossly mis-informing the public. Beekeeper's naturals does things the right way. They're testing for things like heavy metals, for E. Coli, salmonella, yeast and molds, making sure that nefarious things are not showing up in your wonderful bee products. So again, go to beekeepersnaturals.com/model, 25% off. Now, let's get the Apple Podcast review of the week.
ITUNES REVIEW: Another five-star review titled “well researched and thought-provoking” by realdeal01. “You'd be hard-pressed to find another podcast as well researched and relatable as this one. Shawn knows his stuff, is engaging and speaks directly to his listeners, not above them, he lists his sources and tells you the facts, no bias, hypothesis or maybes. Thanks for keeping it real and spreading info everyone needs.”
SHAWN STEVENSON: That's what I'm talking about. Thank you so much for leaving that review over on Apple podcast. That hit my heart. I really do appreciate that. And if you have to do so, please pop over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review for the Model Health Show. And on that note, let's get to our special guest and topic of the day. Our guest today is Nsima Inyang, and he's a coach, Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitor, pro-natural body builder and elite level power lifter. Nsima is one of the most sought after fitness experts in the world right now, and his social media is just blowing up so many incredible nuggets of wisdom and also just very practical application of things as of course, you're going to see today as well, and he's also the co-host of The Mark Bell's Power Project podcast, and this is a show, one of my favorite experiences being on a show, doing an interview for someone else's show, we went up to... I took my son with me up to Northern California and hung out with Mark Bell and Nsima. We did an incredible workout, chopped it up about all thing’s life and health and fitness, and did remarkable podcast episode as well.
So, a really, really great experience. And one of the biggest things today is addressing some of the misconceptions about health and about fitness, and this episode is focused on that fitness component, because even in the realm of the way that I was growing up in this body building paradigm, you've got a bulk and then cut, you can't build muscle and burn fat at the same time, it's one or the other. Well, we're really going to dissect some of these concepts, some of the misconceptions about fitness, and also again, building your fitness from the ground up. Let's jump into this conversation with the incredible Nsima Inyang. Nsima, welcome to the Model Health Show. How are you doing today, man?
NSIMA INYANG: I'm doing amazing.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Awesome.
NSIMA INYANG: I feel good.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Hey man, you know it's a little trek up here, man. We're a little warmer than up north, right?
NSIMA INYANG: Huh, actually no, no, right now, Sac’s pretty hot. It's getting in the 90s every day, right here. It seems pretty cool down here.
SHAWN STEVENSON: So interesting, the last time I saw you, came up to NorCal, brought my son Jordan, got a good work out, the work out, podcast, it was his first podcast experience like being on one... And I didn't tell you this, man, I shared it with Mark, but I didn't share it with you, after that experience, he came back here and started a podcast himself...
NSIMA INYANG: Oh, snap.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah.
NSIMA INYANG: Dude, no... That's... I'm pumped to hear that because Jorden number one, he was really good on the mic. Number two, being as young as he is and doing all the things physically, he's doing, like he's going to be able to give... Especially with everything he's learning from you, the message he's going to be able to give to guys and his generation, it's going to be dope, so I'm pumped to hear that.
SHAWN STEVENSON: That's powerful man, and also, by the way, everybody doesn’t go looking for my son's show 'cause it doesn't exist. Right? He started a show with a friend and the friend went to a college somewhere else in the whole thing, so he'll come back, I'm sure. With something else, but man, but just spending time with you and spending time with Mark and seeing what's been created there is just an incredible energy. I saw stuff that I haven't seen before, I've done things I haven't done before that I've carried with me. We got a tank sled at the crib now.
NSIMA INYANG: There we go. Yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: We got a nice cul-de-sac, so we're out here pushing this... Every now, maybe once every hour, somebody might drive it on the street, but if somebody does, it's like, what is that... What are you doing? This isn't beastly, but I got a question for you to really kick things off, and it's something that a lot of people think about, especially with how important muscle is improving insulin sensitivity, improving longevity. The list goes on and on with the benefits, but also is the aesthetic part too, so I got a question, is it possible for us to build muscle and burn fat at the same time?
NSIMA INYANG: Yes, it's absolutely possible. The thing is, it's like it's context-dependent, because when you first start strength training, and it's like the first few years of strength training, it's so fun because you're seeing your body change in so many different ways somewhat quickly. Now, when you first start strength training, whether it's you' doing some body building stuff in the gym or you just start with some barbells, you're doing power lifting, whatever it is, cross it, you're going to gain muscle pretty quickly, especially if you at least have adequate amount of protein in your diet, you're eating enough calories, but you don't need to go into bulk mode, that's one thing that happens when a lot of men, and even some woman, they're like, I want to gain muscle, so they start going way above their maintenance caloric intake.
If you make sure that you're getting in, for most people, a gram per pound of body weight of protein or lean body mass, if you're a little bit heavier, and you also make sure to do a bit of cardio if you want, you don't have to. Or you stay at maintenance or maybe at a slight caloric deficit because you're new to this stimulus and you've never done it before, you're going to put on muscle for a good amount of time, and then if your training is progressive, meaning week to week, month to month, you're putting a little bit more weight on the bar, or you're doing a few more reps or you're just noticing certain workouts are getting easier, but it's progressive and you're making progress, you're going to be gaining muscle as you're losing body fat.
Now, the only way you're going to be gaining muscle and gaining a lot of body fat is if you go into quite a caloric surplus, meaning that... So, your maintenance calories is everyone loves number 2000, so 2000 for your maintenance caloric intake... And you start eating 3000 calories, you gain some muscle. And you'll also get a bit of fat, and that'll be cool, you can cut later on if you want to, but I'm more on the party of the side of, let's take the gradual approach so that we don't need to put on excess body fat, and you don't need to worry about trying to cut all that fat later on after you've put on a good amount of muscle.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah. Perfect. Because we do have this paradigm of the bulk, the cut, I'm definitely more of a fan of just gradually adding muscle as you go along, but I think it's because we have those goals, we just want it... Just want to get swole, we just want to... We want to have it today, but even your breakdown of this, I'm sure that your thoughts have evolved over time, but I want to go back to the beginning and ask what got you into this in the first place, how did you fall in love with lifting heavy things and... Also, just through your story, did anything f*cked up happened along the way like... Let's go back to the beginning.
NSIMA INYANG: Well, I started lifting when I was 13 and I started playing soccer when I was six, I told you before we started the show that I was raised by my mom, which she's an amazing woman, I just... As I get older, I'm just like, God, I want to give back to her as much as possible, but I am extremely fortunate the way that she raised me. First thing is she put me in sports athletics when I was six, I didn't have a dad at home, so it allowed me to be around a team, played soccer, so I was around a lot of coaches, a lot of other guys, and I was able to build friendships with other guys, but when I was 13, I got something called Osgood-Schlatter. I don't know if you've ever heard of Osgood-Schlatter. It's kind of this thing that happens with your knees when you're growing a little bit too fast and certain things can't catch up, so I had massive knee pain and I couldn't play soccer anymore, and that's the first time in my life and one of the last times in my life that I actually had true love, like true depression. I went from being a kid who would play in a soccer field four or five times a week to an individual that couldn't run because of Osgood-Schlatter, and I just stopped talking to people, I just...
She'd ask me things, I'd be very... Because I didn't have an outlet. It was bad. So, she got me a gym membership at the gym really close to our house, and was just like, go. Initially, she went into some cardio and I looked around and started lifting some weights, and I saw this really jacked Black dude, and I just started doing what he was doing, I just started copying the dude, but at that time there were forms on Teenation, etcetera, so I just literally started lifting and I switched right back to the kid that I used to be, so I learned that... I wasn't thinking about it at the time, but with stress, my outlet was physicality, my outlet didn't turn to food and my outlet wasn't... You don't have many outlets as a kid, but my outlet turned to use physical activity to buffer bad feelings and bad situations, so I had Osgood-Schlatter for three years, and I was able to start playing soccer again at 16, but I kept lifting. So, by the time I was 16, I was around 215, 220. I got down to about 190 when I continued playing soccer because I gained a little bit of body fat in those years, I wasn't playing, but the lifting never left, and the sports never left.
I did get an injury when I was in college, I stopped me from playing soccer, I got surgery on my foot, I just kept lifting, that was the thing that I had and the thing that was with me, so it was a habit that I had since childhood that helped me out so much into adulthood.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Oh man... That's powerful. So going through that experience. When did it become something that you wanted to share with other people?
NSIMA INYANG: Oh, that happened right after soccer 'cause I was in school for Biomedical Sciences, so I wanted to be a doctor, but when I was playing soccer, and I got the...
SHAWN STEVENSON: And I'm sure your Nigerian mother...
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah doctor, lawyer, engineer, that's it. Every Nigerian that's listening knows doctor, lawyer, engineer. And if it's not one of those, you're a failure.
SHAWN STEVENSON: But it's not.
NSIMA INYANG: Option number four. Option number four, failure. But yeah, my whole thing, the reason I wanted to be a doctor, is 'cause I knew I wanted to help people with their health, and that was the only way I saw that I could help people by becoming a doctor, but in time I kind of realized that I volunteered at an ER in Davis, California. The UC Davis ER. And when I was there, I had a lot of really cool experiences. I saw death, which was pretty wild to me, but I was able to also talk to an interview, kind of interview a lot of the doctors there, and I wanted to get a handle of what they enjoyed about what they did, 'cause this is going to be my profession. I need to like the day-to-day, right? And there are quite a few that really loved it, and they're like, "Yeah, I'm here all the time, I love this," but they are quite a few that were like, "Really think about what you're about to set your mind to do here, you're going to be here all day, if you want a family, you're not going to be able to spend as much time as you want with that family as you'd like, this is a job that makes really good money, but there's quite a bit of sacrifice in terms of the life you'll be living.
So, if you're ready to make that sacrifice, keep on, if you're not, go home and think." When a few of them told me that I was like, "God, I'm a junior, and I'm having thoughts that I don't want to do this. I still want to figure out the health thing, but how else can I do it?" So I realized that that wasn't one I wanted to go towards, I also knew that as a personal trainer, there was only certain things I could do, but I was like, Okay, I got to leave and I got to just start doing something, so I left, started training people at the gym, slowly started working with people online, and then I started doing the podcast, which happened years later, but it allowed me to take my love for exercise and health and figure out a way to share it with as many people as I could by helping them build habits to prevent them from having to go to the hospital, because with what I was going to end up going towards, it would be, "you're here, let me give you a medication to deal with your problem," rather than "how about we get you doing all of these simple things in life that's going to keep you out of here." I want to be that guy. I'll tell you the free things that you can do free, that's going to keep you out of the hospital, and that's still going to end up helping me have my goal of helping people.
SHAWN STEVENSON: I love that so much. And the thing is, it's just like... So, number one, I don't want to miss this. You said that you have the opportunity to ask questions. Just imagine how few people actually, number one, have the opportunity number to actually just do it. Again, I feel very much the same. I went into my collegiate experience thinking, again, I should be a doctor because fill in the blank successful and they look happy on the Cosby Show, whatever you do. But the thing was, it just, it didn't resonate with me with the person that I saw myself being, but they had other plans for me, kind of redirecting my entry into health, and it's really remarkable, man, because what you're doing is... We don't put in these terms, but you're saving lives. Or you're helping other people to save their own life by giving them these foundational tools, and I want to ask you about this too, because just going back with your issues around your knees and your development, and my youngest son Braden, his friend plays basketball, shout out to his friend Evan, and he had growing pains and so we kept being sidelined. He had to where cast or brace or something like that, it's just like, what is going on? We're coming out like baby giraffes, just not being able to sort stuff out, right, but the reality is, there are so many different things that can become a part of our story that we could use because of course, he's depressed, he did...
Because his identity was tied to that. Could be, but more so, it's the outlet. So, I want to talk more about that because today, more than ever, we have the most sedentary culture in the history of human civilization, and I think a big contributing factor to our epidemics of mental health issues is not having an out. So, let's talk a little bit about that.
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah. No, having an outlet is one of the... Especially having an outlet where you can tie yourself physically. That's one of the things that I think has just allowed me to... Or convinced me that everyone needs something. Okay? I do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I lift, I will jump rope... I do things physically because I know for a fact that if I'm feeling down or if I'm not feeling that great, if I can go jump rope for 10 minutes, the cascade of hormones that starts going on and helping me feel better is going to allow me to feel better immediately. Now, not everyone realizes that off of the bat because maybe they are starting to do something when they are older, when you are an adult. When you are an adult and you start lifting, or you start going down the rabbit hole of physical activity, you are aware. Meaning that, you have all the... You are smart. You have all of these reasons to tell yourself not to do that thing. If it's the gym, well, people are going to look at me, people are going to make fun of me, people in my life are going to judge me for this or whatever. If it's anything, you will always figure out a way to talk yourself out of it. But those outlets are going to be one of the things that allow you to feel better.
I have friends who have had depression, who started doing Jiu-Jitsu or started a physical thing, and their depression magically went away over time. It's just... If I didn't have that, and if I didn't build that habit since I was a kid, I would have depression because I've had it before. There was a time I had a surgery, and that time I had the surgery on my foot when I was in college. I did go into a bout of depression for about a month because I really... At that point, my soccer career was over 'cause my plan was to play pro, and I just didn't have a plan. But after about a month, I told myself, "Okay, well, you can't sit here moping. Go and work out. Go to the gym. It's been a month since you've been to the gym." The first few days, I went to the gym, and I was like, "God, I feel so f*cking good." Like, I feel so good. And that was this thing that knocked me out of it and helped me figure out and realize, "Okay, let's shift focus. Let's figure out something to do." So as a young person, I know it can be tough, but if you can get a parent to get you a gym membership, or if you can start something, just something you're interested in, that's going to allow you to use your body and grow and develop and build.
It's something that can change so many lives and it doesn't have to be the gym. This is the one thing that I think is super important, 'cause as much as I talk about the gym, I'm like, "That was great for me." It can be going to... I don't know. It can be going to a CrossFit Box, it can be picking up a jump rope and starting some jump rope, it can be going to the park and doing some calisthenics, just something that's going to allow to get that heart rate up. Exert yourself, use your body, you will feel good afterwards. And the more you do it, the more it becomes a habit, and it is cemented into the things you do day by day. And if you can build that, the possibilities are endless.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah, yeah. And I love that you are giving people tools as well, like you said earlier, it is free. Because if you have a body, you have so much opportunity to use it in creative ways.
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah. And don't underestimate walking.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah.
NSIMA INYANG: I just want to say this. When I was younger, I used to like... I think when one of my... My ex would go walking all day and I would be like, "Why are you walking? It is such a waste of time."
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yep.
NSIMA INYANG: I look back at that and now I am like, "Nsima, you are so dumb." Walking... It feels good. Your mind starts racing, that's when I can come up with some of my best ideas. And, I mean, let's not even talk about sleep and all of those other things, but walking itself is just a way to just to get yourself moving and that will help you out too.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah. Man, and it's so crazy the similarities, because I had that revelation. When I was working with people and people tell me, "You know, I walk to this day". I literally, in my head, I would be like, "You are going to have to hurry up. You are going to have to... You're never going to get there because it's such a slow thing."
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
SHAWN STEVENSON: And eventually, it hit me, and it was... A big part of it was a conversation I had with Katy Bowman. She's a biomechanist and just the way she was explaining some things, and nutritious movement is kind of one of her things she talks about.
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: But it really hit me there that, "What is a human body designed to do?" Of all of the forms of, "exercise"? We put it under these categories too. Right? But what is the essential human movement? What is the thing that we are literally designed to do? We can do all of this stuff.
NSIMA INYANG: Yes.
SHAWN STEVENSON: We could push a sled, we could, you know, deadlift, you know, 500 pounds, whatever the case might be. Are we designed to do it? We can. And often times, these are some kind of static movements as well.
NSIMA INYANG: Yes.
SHAWN STEVENSON: But the thing we know that we're designed to do is to walk, and so once that really hit, that's when I really started to invest more time into it. But the thing is too, it's a time thing. This is something you can stack. You just mentioned the creativity that comes from it, for example.
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Researchers at Stanford actually did a study on this, and they found that when people would step away from a task and go for a walk, something called Creative Inspiration would increase by a magnitude of 60%. And a specific type of creativity, where they were thinking out... "Thinking outside of the box."
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Right? Because we tend to get this tunnel vision when we are trying to work on a problem. And they call that divergent thinking would increase by walking. So that's one benefit and also, but you can extract that from it, but also this could be a time for connection. Maybe you're walking with your significant other or with your pet. You have a dog.
NSIMA INYANG: Three.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Three.
NSIMA INYANG: Huskies.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Three huskies.
NSIMA INYANG: Three huskies.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Okay.
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: I need to know more about this. How is that situation working out?
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah, I have a beautiful girlfriend. Her name is Sam. And I just want to mention because you mentioned walking with your significant other. I have to say the best, deepest conversations where I've learned the most about her and we've been able to hash out any type of disagreements that we've ever had, have been on walks, have been on the hikes, because we are just talking and then we get to a topic, but we are outside, and we are just... It's... If you have a significant other, please start walking with them, because that will be something where you guys can number one, get off your butts and get walking, you know, not being sedentary, but you guys will be able to even hash out a lot of stuff. I'll say walking is a great therapist for the both of us. Now, three Husky, I had one at the beginning of 2021. I got my first husky, and then I got into a relationship. And then, the next year I was like, "Well, I want to get myself another dog." Because I loved having my husky. But then we went to go visit and find a dog. And the dog I wanted, I actually... He was a puppy, but I couldn't take him home. And then she saw a dog and she was like, "I want one too." I was like...
Alright? Well, then she was like... She Jedi mind tricked me. She said, "Okay, let's just foster it. Let's just take it home and take care of it until somebody... Somebody wants to... Somebody wants to adopt." We fostered, and then we adopted, and then I adopted the one I wanted, hence three Huskies.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Wow.
NSIMA INYANG: I love the life though, it's great.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah, that... It seemed to happen very quickly.
NSIMA INYANG: It did. It did. Yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Wow, man. I want to ask you about this because you mentioned your foot surgery and life is going to present you with these different setbacks and it creates... It has the opportunity to create character.
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Or it can spiral into negativity, you know, we have both as an option. But you use it as a... Eventually, it is an opportunity for learning. And today, it's even on your Instagram page, "I hate shoes".
NSIMA INYANG: I hate shoes.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Right? And so, I'm asking you about this because your level of knowledge today in taking care of your feet, because... So, number one, why are our feet so important for our overall health?
NSIMA INYANG: Man, I'm taking this quote directly from my homie, The Barefoot Sprinter, we have made a lot of content with him. But the feet have 26 bones, 30 joints and 100 ligaments, tendons and muscles, right? And the shoes that we wear, primarily, the shoes that I was wearing growing up as a soccer athlete are super narrow at the toe box. I have a big, wide foot. And I'm wearing these Nikes that bring my toes up to a point. So now my toes are going from here to here. And as I started learning more about feet and I started seeing pictures of cultures that didn't wear shoes, you notice how all of these people have this nice toe spread. Their feet don't look like ours in the US. They have this natural space in between and they are not impacted and messed up like that. And then I started realizing like, "Okay". Number one, I had to get that foot surgery primarily because of my soccer cleats, so I'm actually very glad that, that happened to me, because I have a situation that's like, "Look, this is a problem", but then, it's like I realized. I'm like, "Wow!". Number one, if I had something that I could wear, that was allowing my feet to do what they needed to do, I probably could have kept playing soccer. But number two, the amount that's missed because people are wearing the wrong footwear and not actually using their feet, there's a lot of shoes that are great, they are comfortable, they are marketed to feel like you're walking on clouds, take out that...
The super comfortable shoes. But the feet aren't getting the work they need to get. This is the first contact that you have with the ground every single morning. When you are walking, when you are running, you are sending shocks up your body, forces that your body that needs to handle. But if your foot is weak and not able to handle those forces in the way that they need to handle them, that pain will go to your knee, that pain will go to your lower back, and that pain could go all the way to your neck and your head, and then you end up with individuals with really bad gates. Gate, meaning your walking cycle. Like your feet are too pointed outwards, there's a lot of imbalances that can happen in the muscles, but a lot of that starts with the feet. Now, the problem here is that like... "Well, how do I fix that?" A simple way is to start walking barefoot. And that's good, that's going to be beneficial. But not everyone wants to walk around with Black Feet everywhere, right? Black Bottom toes.
SHAWN STEVENSON: I got those new black bottoms.
NSIMA INYANG: I got those new black bottoms. But there's tons of shoes out there, and actually, it's interesting because barefoot shoes had a really... They had a surge in like 2011, 2012, I don't know if you remember with the Vibrams and those types of shoes.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah. FiveFingers.
NSIMA INYANG: FiveFingers.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah.
NSIMA INYANG: But then, there was someone that made a book called Ready to Run. It wasn't Kelly Strade, it was somebody else, and after people started doing barefoot running, they started getting all of these sorts of injuries and everyone was like, "Okay, this is not actually good for people", it died down. The reason why it was rough for people is 'cause people didn't give themselves a gradual entry into wearing barefoot shoes or doing barefoot activity. Alright? You are now going from wearing a cushiony shoe, to wearing a shoe with no drop, meaning flat. So now your feet are taking on all of these forces that they are not used to taking, and they are not happy. Underneath your feet, it hurts, it's painful. It's like, "God, this is wild." But this is the thing, your feet are getting stronger and they're getting adapted to now the new forces you're putting through them. And then over time, they'll get better. But it's just like starting to go to the gym or building any new activity. You need to give yourself a gradual approach. You cannot go off the deep end and start running barefoot.
Start using barefoot shoes. What happened with me is, I did start using barefoot shoes, and then I had some pain on the bottom of my feet. I also got like toe spreaders, the ones I would suggest. I don't have a code or anything, but go to correcttoes.com, I've used a lot of different toe spreaders and these ones are really good, but they will help you get the space back in between your toes that your feet should have, since most people's toes are here. But when I started, I would do jump rope, I would walk or whatever, in these types of shoes. A lot of my feet would hurt. So, I'd go back, I'd wear some of my more cushiony shoes for a little bit of time and let my feet heal and adapt, and I would go back to wearing the barefoot shoes again and doing all of these activities barefoot. You’ll notice over at Super Training, Mark, myself, a lot of us don't wear shoes when we work out, because we want our feet to be strong and it's crazy, within the past year, my foot transformation. This is why I like learning from all of these amazing guests that we are able to talk with and ask questions too is...
And this is why you love your job too, 'cause we're able to learn so much and we're able to say, selfishly, honestly, I'm able to get the benefit from this and then we share it with people. But my feet, the tendons have gotten thicker, my toe spread is back, I have less pain and discomfort in certain areas of my body, I feel springier because now, my feet and toes are like... My toes are... I have soreness when doing certain movements in the arches of my feet, because they are actually activated. When I was a teenager, the doctor told me I had flat feet, so they gave me orthotics, these special orthotics to put in my cleats to give me an arch. But that artificial arch from those orthotics weren't helping me. They were weakening the arch that I had, and they were causing me to have more foot problems, and this is the thing, it's not the doctor's fault. This is something that they did for everybody. They were like, "You need an arch? Slip something in there." Rather than let's develop those weak feet that you've been stuffing in cushioned shoes over your past decade. So, the feet are something that I think like... Dawg, like if people can fix that, over time, 'cause it's not something that happens immediately. You need to adjust and when you're having certain pain, there are certain things you could do. But if you can develop strong feet, everything up-chain becomes easier. You got to remember, it's the first contact you have with the ground.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah.
NSIMA INYANG: You want that contact to be strong.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah, those orthotics were like a drug, basically. Like he would say, "let's treat a symptom instead of addressing the root cause."
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah, I think the ones I had were called Superfeet. They are like pretty expensive orthotics. But it's exactly that, and again, it's not their fault, that's what they did with... For everyone with flat feet, and I had a flat feet. But it's just because my feet weren't doing what they're supposed to be doing. And now, it's really crazy to me, like when I'm doing lifting or even when I'm sitting around. I wear toe socks. Have you seen those toe socks that are individually on your toes?
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah.
NSIMA INYANG: Okay, I know they may look really weird and people may even…
SHAWN STEVENSON: You could even have different colored toes if you want to get, super fly.
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah. You could. Absolutely. But the cool thing that toe socks do is because they're individually wrapping your toes when they are on your individual toes, they increase your proprioceptive awareness of what your toes are doing in space. Because oddly enough, socks themselves are kind of like shoes. They cast your foot, and they cast your toes and now your toes are just sitting around. But the toe socks help... My toes have been moving this whole podcast. They are always doing things because now they're activated and I'm not thinking about it, it's just what my toes are doing because my foot is doing what it's supposed to do. So, the thing I think about is, God, if people could just... It doesn't cost money. You could get yourself any brand of barefoot shoes you want, get some toe socks, start walking around. That's all. Even if you don't want to go take a run, just jump rope. Let your feet get used to what the ground feels like. It's going to kind of hurt for a little bit, especially if you've been wearing really tight shoes or really cushioned shoes. But if you do that, over the next year or two years, the difference that's going to happen with your feet, and then the difference that's going to happen with your whole body because of that one thing you fixed, dawg, it's wild.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah. We need to start... And you're doing it, man. You are starting a foot Revolution. You know what I mean? A foot-volution.
NSIMA INYANG: A foot-volution.
SHAWN STEVENSON: And listen, because you said it... One of the most profound things that you just said was that it is your first point of contact. So, it's like this kinetic chain that goes from your foot to your brain and affecting everything in between, so a lot of knee issues are actually rooted in foot problems, right?
NSIMA INYANG: A lot of back issues are rooted to foot problems because again, you make contact with the ground the wrong way, you don't understand that you're making contact the right way, those forces are going to find somewhere to dissipate. And for a lot of people, it is the knees, for a lot of people, it is the lower back, for some people it's the neck or... It has to dissipate somewhere. And then it's just like I think about people who are running, they are running as an exercise, and they are striking the ground in a non-ideal way over and over and over again. It's problematic.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah. And often, because we are programmed to wear maximalist shoes.
NSIMA INYANG: Oh yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Not minimalist, the other end of the spectrum and creating so much foot weakness. And I remember this infomercial when I was around 21-ish, dealing with my health issues, back problems, I saw an infomercial about some inserts to help with the back pain. So, I'm getting... Again, I'm ordering, I am just trying to got to get rid of this pain. I didn't know it was my feet, and it's something where you do... I'm not going to say that you do nothing, but that's kind of what's marketed towards us, like this thing, so you don't have to change and it's going to fix it for you. There is some degree of things we can set up in our lives where good stuff is automatically happening, kind of shifting our environment, but we are taking away the personal responsibility of being a strong human and doing more human stuff. And so, this conversation is super important regarding our feet, and I know that they're going to be some women that are listening right now, "So you said I can wear? You said black bottoms? What about my red bottoms for real Shawn?" You know? And so, I'm just going to throw this piece out here because what I've been able to maneuver with this, is that I spend... If I'm not specifically putting shoes on, some cool shoes to do whatever, I'm spending my time being barefoot. So, if I am at my desk, I've got a stand-up desk. I could sit down, stand up. Got one of those. You guys have those too the...
NSIMA INYANG: Some grounding mat?
SHAWN STEVENSON: Podcast studio, I have a grounding mat too, but also just kind of the anti-fatigue mad I might stand on a little bit, but even when you're standing there, you can do exercises, you can get yourself on the lacrosse ball or whatever the case might be, there's so many creative things that you can do, just spend the moniker here is spend more time barefoot, you can still wear your cool shoes, but you're probably going to find out those are even more uncomfortable. Right?
NSIMA INYANG: Yes. You hit it. Yeah, man, you hit it. Okay, so a few things, you saw like... Over at our podcast it's standing, so Mark and I... Like I'll have a lacrosse ball underneath my foot as we're doing an interview, we'll be doing some just wild stuff with our feet while we're talking to people, just because we're standing. So that's one thing you could just... You don't have to get a standing desk 'cause it's too expensive, they have Amazon desk risers that are 100, 250 bucks, so you put on your desk, you could rise it stand, right. But the difference in a... I have Yeezys, I have Jordans, I like to wear 'em on special occasions. But these are shoes that I wear 5% to 10% of the time. The other 5% to 10% of my... Or the other 90%, I'm either barefoot, I've gotten some Vibram FiveFingers and I used to... I used to clown people who wore those shoes, those Vibrams that have the... I used to be like, What do you want to have a spouse... Like, What's going on here? But for that foot health, I'll make the sacrifice, my girlfriend has noticed that she has heels and she has all these shoes, but as she started wearing barefoot shoes, her feet have hypotrophy as a mine had my foot got bigger.
Okay, so she's gained muscle on her feet, and she's put her red bottoms on 'cause she has red bottoms and she put her old shoes on and she's like, God, this hurt now. So, this is the thing, it's like, these shoes, you're not going to be wearing 'em most of the time, at least, I hope you don't have to, but I understand that your feet will change for the better. Right? And when that happens, you're going to be more aware of what these shoes are actually doing to your foot, your brain is going to be more aware because the proprioceptive aspect, we talked about when you start wearing toe socks, you go more barefoot and you start doing different things with your toes, your brain is now more aware of what those toes are doing in space, one of the reasons why people can stick their feet in such tight shoes is because their feet are quite literally numb to the sensation of what those shoes are doing to them, but when their start activating, I'll call it... You realize, Oh God, I've been doing this for years. This is what I've been sticking my foot in, and I haven't felt it? When you feel it, you'll be like, “Oh okay, I should make a switch."
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah, man, that's profound. And this is going to be theoretical for some folks, but if I put my hand down here on my thigh, I could use my mind and lift up each finger one at a time, now, if you try to replicate you... Which theoretically, you should be able to do that with your foot as well, very, very similar structure as far as just... You got the FiveFinger, even the FiveFinger Vibram, you've got the same kind of action, but if you try to do that for most people, they can't lift up, except maybe the big toe.
NSIMA INYANG: Except maybe the big toe.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah.
NSIMA INYANG: You're totally right. That's why I guess this has been such a cool experiment and transformation for myself, when we have these guests that come on, we always ask them things and we start applying immediately, so when we had guests on that... I've talked about feet. There's an exercise you can do. I got this from the... If you guys want to check him out, he's The Barefoot Sprinter on Instagram, there's a lot of stuff on feet, it's kind of weird in that way, but it's called the big toe thumbs up, so if you sit there, can you lift your big toe and keep all your other toes planted on the ground, and then can you put your big toe down while lifting up all the other toes, do you have that and then try, like you said, Try doing other things with other parts of your other toes, you're going to notice that neurologically, you don't have that connection to your toes and you need to build that, so those are little exercises, the big toe thumbs up, you can... It's called a hand foot love, you should take your hand, slide it in between your toes and start making circuit emotions, massage that around.
It's going to feel a little bit painful at first, but over time... That feels super comfortable. One thing that's been pretty cool. Me and my girl were on the sauna, and I was just doing stuff with my feet, and I was staring out my big toe, I was staring at my foot and I was looking at my second toe, and I was like, Yes. She's like, What the hell are you doing? I was like, I'm trying to pick up my second to just my second toe, and it started wiggling and twitching, and I was like, this is such a cool thing, it's like, number one, if we weren't sticking our feet in shoes since we were kids, we'd be able to do stuff like this. But as an adult, I got to say, it's pretty cool discovering new things about my body.
SHAWN STEVENSON: When you just said that I've had that moment, I felt like I was coming out of a coma. In a movie, like look at his toe. His toes are moving. That's how I felt, and I'm just like, But I'm by myself. So, I was glad to know that other people experience these things. A legacy of speed, all of the transformation of a San Jose State Track Program in the 1960s, which started out as a second tier State College. No one outside of California had ever heard of quickly became known as the home to speed city. The guidance of one coach and his unconventional techniques launched the careers of the fastest sprinters of the day, host Malcom Gladwell, a competitive runner, himself traces the journeys of those sprinters went on to ignite a boycott movement in protest in 1968 Summer Olympics, Malcolm talks to Olympic athletes, sports journalists, performance coaches and documentarians, and we hear from some of the best runners of all time, Tommy Smith, John Carlos and Lee Evans, it's a story about athletes who dared to take a stand and the mentors made them fast and brave enough to pave the way, or the sports activism we see today. Find Legacy of Speed, wherever you get your podcast.
Let's move uphill a little bit from our feet to another joint that is incredibly complex that is just getting assaulted today in our society, which is our knees, and the thing is we're really... We come here with a genetic template, if again, you look at how to gather societies, this isn't a very common thing to see these tissues breaking down outside of our "evolve modern day cultures," and so our knees are designed to take us all the way there to a century with grace, and I've seen this over the years. So many people that were coming into my clinic, we do stuff, nutrition-wise, some exercise and movement, but we are kind of limited, we were limited in what we perceived we could do from a physical movement standpoint to help to rehabilitate our knees. Today, the game has changed so much.
NSIMA INYANG: Absolutely.
SHAWN STEVENSON: And I've seen this folk being able to regenerate meniscus and accelerate the healing of tears, dramatically reducing their risk of injury for sports that tend to see more of these injuries occur by getting involved in some of this treatment and training. So, what are some of the things that we can do to strengthen our functionality with our knees and also just kind of bullet proof our knees against injury.
NSIMA INYANG: I was really... We were really fortunate to be able to talk to Ben Patrick, knees over toes guy, maybe two years ago is when he first came on to the show. Now, I had a like I said Osgood-Schlatter, you're like three years. But I also had a meniscectomy, partial meniscus removal in my right knee when I was 23, and there was always a little level of weakness in that knee, there was also a little level of weakness in my other knee because of the Osgood-Schlatter I had as a kid. And I was pretty sure that I was just destined to have issues with my knees until I was old, but I'm like, "Okay, this is something I'm just going to have to deal with, I'm going to have to modify everything to kind of work around my knees," and I kind of settled in that.
When I started seeing some of the things that Ben was doing, the first thing I just... I saw his Instagram, knees over toes guy, so I'm doing ATG split squats and all these things, I was just like, Okay, 'cause I... I was squatting, I was doing all these things, but there was a level that I wasn't taking my knees too, because I was just like, "I don't want to go that deep, or I probably shouldn't do that much," but just the concept of moving your joints through a great range of motion, and the big thing to be careful with here is using an appropriate load, the one place where a lot of people mess them up, just in general, when it comes to exercise, is using loads and weights that their body shouldn't be using yet, or that they're just not accustomed to.
You need to go to the... And use a regression that you can start with, and for some people that's using no weight, if somebody goes on Google right now and types in the ATG split squat, right? You'll see, it's a deep knee bend where the back leg is in full hip extension, and if you type it in, you'll see Ben doing a lot of those movements, it may seem like a movement that's kind of scary to do, but if you do it with a no weight, you can start working that, you're going to get a lot of blood into that area because those tissues are being challenged, maybe you might be sore for a few days, but then you'll be able to do it again, you'll be able to progress, and it's literally, the concept is kind of that simple, work the joint through as deep of a range of motion as you possibly can without pain, recover and do it again, also work the muscles that are the agonists you were mentioning before the show, like you did a lot of quad work, but you didn't do that. Hamster work and hamstrings were pulled right?
Well, work the hamstrings, 'cause not just as they're in front of the knee with your quad and all of that, there's also the back of the knee. You want to strengthen that area, you also want to just strengthen all these other weak leaks that are in the leg, that's why the tibialis that Ben always has people talking about the calves, all these areas, you want to strengthen those areas outside of just doing squats. That's why the background of lifting that I come from bodybuilding, powerlifting, there's a lot of focus on the weight that's being moved, so when people focus too much on the weight that's being moved, they don't think about the movement quality and that's fair. If you want to move the most weight possible, sometimes you're going to have to cheat it, but if you can work with a light enough load that'll allow you to get to the deepest range of motion you possibly can with the knee or even no load and progress that over time, you can build very strong resilient needs, but you have to be okay with a gradual aspect of the process, when I say the gradual aspect, it's like understand that this is going to take months of repetition of continuing to do some of the same things and slow increases of load, some of the places where people really injure themselves is when they try to increase too fast and they try to increase that load too fast, right?
That's why when we talk about these things, we're just like, "Yo, baby yourself." You know what I mean? Just let it take the time it needs to strengthen, recover and strengthen, because if you can do that over a consistent period of time, what's going to happen is what happened to me, I started at the least amount of regression for a lot of these movements, I started doing split squats with no weight. I gave myself the time I needed to recover. But now, a lot of times when people ask me which need did you have surgery on? I have to think about that for a second. I have to look at the scar on the right knee and be like, Okay, yeah, it's the right one, 'cause a lot of times I can't tell the difference in between the way my knees feel, and again, since they removed part of that meniscus, I always thought I don't have an issue, but I don't. You know what I mean? It actually is, I don't know what it looks like on the inside of that. But the strength I have in there now. It's baffling to me. It's crazy to me. But it's possible.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah, man, that's when you really know that you're healed in a sense, like you don't think about it. That's what you want. That's what life is like. A cheetah isn't like, I don't know how my... I don't know how my ankle is doing today, it's just doing what it does, just doing cheating sh*t, but here we are just... We start to, especially if we've had any problems, we tend to obsess about them, because we have this protective capacity too, our nervous system wants to keep us safe, but we get so in our heads and also, we do so much that just isn't... It isn't really viable with how we're designed, so you've lifted some serious weight, like how much is your max squat?
NSIMA INYANG: My max squat was 622.
SHAWN STEVENSON: 622. Alright. So too much.
NSIMA INYANG: Actually 640, 640 was my max squat.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Too much plus. You know what I'm saying? It's amazing. Crazy and amazing. And for you to do that, there's going to be so much static squatting that you've done over the years, and it's one position, but that doesn't really relate to real life, we've got so many professional athletes, for example, they're doing these training protocols, we now “functional exercise” has been implemented in so many different sports, which is wonderful, with the advent of the internet, this change has happened so much quicker, and what I found is that fitness changes so much faster than does health, so health care. Medicine, Nutrition, those kind of things, fitness folks, because we got the gym bro kind of mentality like, I'm just going to do this sh*t like this, I'm just going to do it, and to use my body as a training ground or an experiment ground to figure this stuff out. And so, seeing this progression take place, and understanding, if I'm living real life, it's very rare that I'm just going to do a static squat in one position multiple times. So, the concept of squatting with your knees, not pushing your hips back at this particular thing, keep your knees back, this whole thing, that's one way of looking at and developing our muscles in one static way, but so that immediately will push you away from this idea of having my knees over my toes, let alone moving to the side or my feet being in this... But that's life, you're going to be in awkward position if you're engaging with life and doing stuff, if you go for a hike on a complicated to terrain, you're feet and your body is doing so much missus stuff that you can actually train a little bit more for if you're aware of it.
NSIMA INYANG: Absolutely. One thing, or the first thing I want to say before we talk about that is don't identify with your injury, and what mean is this for a very long time because I had those knee issues since I was 13 years old. Up until my 20s and I had that surgery in my knee, I was always just like, Well, I'm just going to have knee issues, like knee issues became a part of me, so I identified with it, and even though I was looking for solutions, looking for solutions, I was always like, Okay, well, I just can't do that and I can't do that, and I can't do that because I'm a guy with knee issues. Don't allow that to be your mindset when it comes to dealing with injury, if you've had something for a very long time, 'cause I understand how it easy it is, if you have lower back pain, you're like, "I just have back pain," or I just have this pain, because there are so many solutions and there are so many things that you can do, and it'll take a while, but you can truly be out of pain. But if you start relating to that injury, you're going to live with it, so that's one mindset switch, instead of relating to the injury and identifying with your injury, be the person that, okay, I have this right now, but I'm going to find a solution and in time I won't have this anymore.
'Cause you don't have to have pain, you don't have to, but if you identify with it, you're going to stay stuck in your ways. Now, as far as fitness is concerned and the way that we now, I love how fast fitness moves because like, okay, there are still people that are focusing on body building and people that are focusing on powerlifting, and that's cool. That's their sport. But you're right, for life, you're not going to have a barbell on your back, and that's the way you're going to be squatting. Sometimes you need to pick up something from the ground. You need to do something with your kid, or you just need to get into a deeper range of motion, and if you haven't built the capacity to be able to do something with your knee going over your toes on the off chance that in life, somewhere your knee goes over your toes, you don't have that capacity, you're going to be like, uh-huh. You know what I mean? Something could happen, so you can actually use the gym as a way to train that capacity, that's why with everything that I do in the gym and everything that we do in the gym, we train what the longest ranges of motion possible, and a range of motion that again, it's not like you're feeling you're going to tear something or injure yourself.
And you're also using appropriate load. I cannot stop saying that, use appropriate load, but you're strengthening yourself in disadvantageous positions, so that when life happens and you get into this disadvantageous position, your body is able to handle it, but not only that, you want to start doing things outside of that single Up and Down-plane. Work with kettle bells and do things laterally, do things with rotation, I can't stress how important it is to start adding in some rotational type movements, whether it's med ball slams to the side or there're kettlebell swings that you can do across your body, building that rotational ability is again, something that's going to be necessary for life, that's why it will notice a lot of lifters move in one way and they're very stiff because they haven't built the ability to rotate with power, and these are very simple things that you can add into your training routine that again, are free, but if you can build those movement capacities, you're just going to move like a more optimal human being, you won't be as stiff.
And also, like I mentioned, increasing the range of motion of the movements you do in the gym, if you do that, you'll also move better and body builders have the reputation of moving around like robots, if you just increase that range of motion and really allow your body to stretch within those ranges, you're going to move better, you're going to feel better, and you'll probably won't be in as much pain.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah, the reason I wanted to have you here was that you are the example today to be able to see a human who's built their body as far as the musculature, but your ability to move at the same time and have the amount of muscle mass that you have is remarkable. It's just like, it's possible to see somebody like yourself, but also to understand it's very intentional, and part of that is the exposures that you've had and picking up stuff. Man, I love people who are about their life, speed of implementation is one of my favorite qualities in a human being. And you've said this thing multiple times, I want to lean into this a little bit more for everybody, which is you have to be qualified for certain lifts, like qualify yourself to do certain things. We don't come out of the gate, like you said, it's a progression a little bit here and there, and you said Kelly Starrett's name earlier.
NSIMA INYANG: Oh yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: He said something to me that, it changed my life, it's something so simple. I was doing something trying to heal from an injury and I had a nerve compressed, I was really struggling, and I was doing some things to get better, but then it's just like I would feel like I would backslide sometimes. And he said this to me, he said, it's not a straight line. Your healing is imminent, but it's not a straight line, there's going to be some curves and some bends throughout the process. You even mentioned this with the shoes, like do the barefoot, but then let's take a step back too when you need. It's not a straight line, you don't have to just go this way, and also, it's going to be dependent on you. And so don't beat yourself up if you feel like you made a mistake or you did something wrong, or maybe you feel like you had a setback, it's not a straight line. But your healing, your success is imminent. As you said, stop identifying with a thing and get focused on the person that you are going to be and start to be that person, and that person isn't carrying around that fear about the same thing constantly.
NSIMA INYANG: Right there, what Kelly said to you it applies to everything. Literally everything. Weight loss is not linear. One of the reasons why when people are going on a transformation and the skill doesn't say what if they wanted to say for a few days they quit, they binge, because they expect it's just downward progress. Well, there are going to be periods where you go down, there are going to be periods where you're on a straight line, there are going to be periods when you go back up a little bit, but if you can keep the habits... You just mentioned this, the person that... What I think about is what does the person that for example, doesn't have knee pain, what are the things that they're doing? What are the habits they have? Or the person that's in really good shape, what are the habits they have? And if you can be an individual that just starts implementing and building those habits over time, you'll get there, you'll absolutely get there.
But if you think that it's just going to be this just straight forward progress, and it's just going to happen like clockwork all the time, that's not how it's going to happen. For me, when it came to flexibility, I really had to work on that, and I had to do a lot of things that people within power lifting or body building would think is adverse to that. I started really purposefully stretching years ago, like sitting down, doing different types of mobilizations, but also stretching, and I started making a lot of videos. Putting forward stretching routines. There are still 30 routines on my channel, it's called Smooth Panther anybody can go in and just do a routine. But after I started doing that, I started seeing a lot of people saying, well, you know, if you want to be as strong as you possibly can and move as much weight on the bar, you probably shouldn't train your flexibility, and also that's going to decrease your power output. And also, there's really no stretching as far as the research shows, it's just something that it's more so, it's a placebo effect. You don't actually lengthen your muscles, it doesn't make that big of a difference and it hampers your performance, but I kept doing it 'cause I was just like, I'm feeling a lot better in my stretching, even though it's adverse to strength, potentially, whatever.
But I felt good doing it, and my body was reaping the benefits, I was moving better. One thing I noticed is I wasn't having to warm up for 45 minutes before I actually did a workout 'cause my body wasn't feeling stiff anymore, but still people were like, "Uh, stretching, this stretching thing, it's not good for you as a strength athlete." And there are a lot of things that I've done in fitness that are adverse to what people in the strength realm would think is ideal. Like fasting. Apparently if you fast, you're going to deplete all your muscle and you're going to get small, you can go catabolic, go catabolic, I've been doing fasting for four years now. Just fine. All I had to do was make sure I was eating enough protein, and eating enough food during the day, I was good. But again, within the strength community, that, and the muscle building community, that's like, "Oh, no, that's not something you do if you want to gain muscle." So that it's just an over at the power project. Mark and I always talk about this, and it's something that I... I have a rough relationship with science because I love it. And research is so beneficial, man, I love it.
But there was a point that I focused too much on what research said personally and it would stop me from trying things. Like for the longest time, like what fasting, when people were talking about fasting, I was like, I'm going to lose muscle, this is going to happen, low carb diets or whatever. Because the research said certain things, I was like, okay, I can't really do that. So, it took me out of just trying to apply something and seeing how it worked because the research didn't say it'd be ideal. But I got out of it after a while and I was just like, okay, know what the research says and then just do some sh*t. Just, just do it. And if it doesn't work, okay, cool. But if it works for you, then you're an anecdote, but at least it works for you, and you're making some progress. So that's kind of how I approach a lot of things. I have this, we say, we have a white belt mentality. Like, there's a lot of stuff we don't know. And because of that, we have to apply a lot of things and see what sticks and get rid of what doesn't.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah, that's the only way you can truly know something is experientially. And we limit our ability to experiment when we have bought in fully to an idea of how stuff is supposed to be. You know, this way again, I admire the gym culture, the fitness culture, and I'm a part of that as well because of the speed of implementation. And just trying things, experimenting, being very creative, even in the gym. Like, I know you've experienced this, like, don't try, only do this this way. You know, like, you'll just see some slight change, some slight movement.
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: And also, you'll find that the people who are the greats in these respective things, they're often doing stuff that would be completely wrong to instructor who's teaching up incoming personal trainers, like you're supposed to do it this... And the other person is literally doing the opposite thing, they're doing that thing too, you know, the tried and true, but they're also doing it, you know, with their back bent in a certain way, or whatever the case might be. Got a quick break coming up, we'll be right back.
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One of those other things too, which for me is just a logical thing if you're thinking about the repetitive nature of certain movements, and the impact that it can have, like for our knees, for example, and then simply, let's literally reverse it, let's go backwards, right. And so that's one of the things that we were doing at the gym together is, putting on a harness and just pulling some heavy weight backwards. Let's talk about that a little bit.
NSIMA INYANG: I'm so happy you mentioned that because I almost forgot that. The backwards sled is, even if you just, if you don't have a sled, do something where you can just start walking backwards, because this is something we got from Ben, it's not an original for me. But as I started doing more backward sled, it just drove blood into that knee, and it felt really good. But it also was a great preparation for working out. And it was really, really good for the knees. So yeah, you can do, like a lot of the things that we do are on one single plane walking forward, sprinting forwards, squatting, etcetera. But how can we maybe reverse some of these? Because that's, again, it's another part of your overall human capacity. If you just stop doing that all together, they're going to be things that you're missing, they're going to be weak links in the chain. So doing something as simple as backward sled, you'll notice that you will tire out very, very quickly. Your quads are going to go, your knees are going to feel like jelly, you felt it whenever you're doing it that day. But you do that consistently, with a sled or whatever type of thing you have at your gym, just walk backwards before you work out.
And you can build up load over time, you're going to find that your knees are going to start to feel pretty damn resilient to that. And you you'll adapt pretty quickly because it's a stimulus, like we mentioned. Working out from never working out before, you'll gain muscle pretty fast. Doing the Barefoot stuff, when you haven't done it before, you're going to see some results, you're going to see some changes. The same thing when adding in the backward sled, you're going to see some changes in the way your knees feel, and your quads and your feet feel because of it. And that's something that I think if you have a routine that you've been enjoying for years, or just a way of working out that you really been enjoying for years, that's good, because you're in here and you already have the habit of exercise. And it's going to be great for your fitness. But find weaknesses, look for things that you're not good at, because a somewhat of an issue. And I wouldn't say it's one of the biggest issues because if you're working out, okay, you're winning, you're winning. But when you get really comfortable, and you're like, okay, I squat, I do these movements, and I'm out. And you've been good at that for a long time. There are places where you're weak.
So, my big suggestion would be to search for those places, for a lot of people, the feet are going to be really weak. For a lot of people, deep ranges of motion with the knees, or these joints are going to be pretty weak. For a lot of people rotational movement is going to be weak. Get good at those things. And the crazy and the cool thing is that you're going to see, it's going to also bring back a bit of motivation to free you in terms of exercise, because now you're not good at something. Now you're starting from square one. I personally find that really, really exciting. I find it exciting when I find something that I'm bad at, because I'm like, what happens if I get good at this? What happens if my feet get stronger? How am I going to feel in a year or two years or three years? When I started jiu-jitsu what happens when I actually get good at this? Because I suck right now, and women are kicking my ass. What happens when I do this for a few years? That would be the big thing I want people to focus on, find weak links, structurally weak links in the in the chain, and make those your strengths because you're going to become a stronger person, just an overall just like stronger human because of it.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah, and just even that physical challenge doing things in a different way, your nervous system, like this is why somebody that can be incredibly fit, and you do a different type of workout. And you're sweating like you usually don't sweat, it's more exhausting. It's just more of a challenge just because your brain is being forced to change and adapt everything that's happening cellularly. And, you know, I love this advice. And I was just thinking about, again, you don't need anything to do this to take advantage of some of that nutritious movement of moving backwards.
NSIMA INYANG: No.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Even if you're at a track by your school, right? And you're doing 400, right. If you're just walking three and then maybe you walk backwards on the street, right? Or same thing, you could jog three and then jog backwards on the street, whatever it is, you can do some different implements just with your body.
NSIMA INYANG: Yes.
SHAWN STEVENSON: And then if you've got a sled or something that you could pull, great. There's the harness that we use that day, but also you can hook up some straps to it. The TRX is, they're pretty affordable, you can... My guy, Mike Munsell, he just he got a TRX and he hooked it up to his car, to his truck and he just pulling that going backwards. It's just like... And then the thing is, you might see them like that's a hell of a level of strength. Yeah, it is. But also, it depends on the vehicle, and you know, putting in a neutral, that whole thing.
NSIMA INYANG: Looks impressive as hell though.
SHAWN STEVENSON: It does. It does. It's very, very cool IG grab. You know what I'm saying? But just be creative. This what I'm saying, again, about being creative with your environment and with your body. What helps with that creativity, fucking walking, right? Go for a walk, moving your body and being an environment. When I worked at this university gym for so many years, like just being there, engaging in movement, like I just start to see stuff is kind of like a matrix type thing, just like I'm seeing the code, I could do this thing and that thing. So, open your mind to that. And also, I love that. I think that the invitation into that is that we look for weaknesses, right? And here's the rub for me personally, is just like, don't do that, psychologically, that'll just happen. Do it physically. Physically look for those points of weakness because you don't want to be weak physically, right. But psychologically, yeah, focus on your strengths, do your thing, but also you got to continue to challenge yourself.
And part of that, too, is like even our conversation, when I came on to the show with you guys, was challenging our thinking and putting ourselves in someone else's shoes. Right, being able to perspective take, especially if somebody has a differing opinion, right. And we tend to get put into that box. Same thing with research, this is what I do every day. I mean, I've read thousands of studies, just in this past year. But within that, I still know that even outcomes of some studies are not going to apply across the board, right. And so, for example, we got friends who are full on doing a vegan protocol, we got friends who are full on doing a carnivore protocol. And both ends of the spectrum have seen remarkable benefits with their patients. And we cannot negate that. But at the same time that it doesn't mean that this is right for you. And it doesn't mean that it's not right, right now, and that might change. Right? So, opening up that perspective, because for my friend over in the carnivore camp, he's eaten testicles, and it's just like, it's the best thing ever for him. Other people would be like, I can't even get my kids eat broccoli, like how the hell am I expect them to eat some nuts. You know what I mean?
Not those nuts, but some other nuts, you know what I mean? And so being able to have some perspective and understand like, yes, something, an N-of-1 can mean the world, and that matters. So that anecdotal, you said the word earlier, anecdotal that gets negated so much. And we also then we can dip into that the intentions behind certain studies, who's funding the studies and the on and on and on and on. Your number one guiding force in this life is listening to your body. Actually, tuning in and listening to your own body. It's constantly giving you feedback. And so, I want to ask you about this, because you shared that there was this lesson that you got from your mom, about being careful with your words. Let's talk about that.
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah. I was... Again, I'd say, I was really fortunate with my mom, and there's things that she taught me growing up. Because if she'd ever hear me, like, say, something negative, or something, just, that wasn't something that would help me grow, like, I can't do this, or that's not possible for me, or that's too difficult for me to fit. Like, if she ever heard me say those things, she'd catch me so quick that it literally turned into, I don't say things like that. Number one, I don't really complain about things. Because it's like, why are you going to complain when you can try to find a solution? Like, I get the feeling, don't get me wrong, especially when things aren't going your way, I get the feeling of wanting to complain about it. But at the end of the day, it's like, well, what does that bring you? You know, it could bring some level of relief, but it hasn't brought a solution. But also, when you say things about yourself, that are limitations, you tend to believe those limitations. And I'm someone who really believes in the power of your belief. So, if you tell me that you can't do something, if you truly tell me, you can't do something. Number one, I don't believe it's actually true, but I know it's going to be true if you say it. I know it's going to be true if you believe it, because if you believe it, you can't.
Right. I don't know if she's going to watch this or listen to this, but I have this tattoo on my hand that she hasn't noticed for the past year and a half, I've been in front of her and I've been... I've waved my hand in front of her all the time, but she just hasn't noticed it, so if she watches this... Sorry, Mom. It's the word limit with the line through it, and it's because my mom would always say, the sky is not the limit. Right, and she'd always hear people say, the sky is a limit, and she's like, why, that doesn't make sense. The sky is not the limit. And then she drilled that into me so I have limit with the line through it, because I truly believe that as human beings, if you really want to do something, if you truly do set your mind and your intention to be able to do something, you're going to find a way to do it, whether it's transforming your body, changing your life, whatever it is, there is a way that you can achieve that, but if you... I like to call them kind of... I like to call them mind viruses, and it wasn't coined by me, there's this guy Gad Saad, who coined the term mind viruses, but the way I see mind viruses is people put these things into the ether, they say, oh, this is impossible for humans to do.
Or you can't do this. It wouldn't... In fitness, there's flexibility or stretching with trainings going to... You're going to decrease your power output or fasting is going to make you lose muscle if you do it for too long, all these things that people think are just the way things are because so many people have said it, as much as I appreciate some of the knowledge and I appreciate that. Don't get me wrong about studies, I like studies, I truly do, but I do take them with a grain of salt, if I haven't personally done it. You know, when I hear those things, I'm like, cool, it's cool for you. I'm going to give it a shot and see what happens, but I'm not just going to give it a shot. I'm going to give it a shot and really put time behind it, because one thing is people say, oh, I gave this diet a shot, did you? You spent two weeks trying that, sometimes diet protocols aren't the best, but if you truly gave that a shot, you would have given yourself more time. You know what I mean? So, when I do things, I'm like, okay, I'm going to give it an honest shot, I'm going to really go out. And if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. But if it does, boom, I found a solution for myself, and it's a solution that a lot of people said wasn't possible, and I like that. I like that.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Man, I know when I mentioned something your mom said you were like, where is this going? But man, that's a powerful... It's such a gift to have someone like that in your life to point you in that direction, and she's probably intentionally ignoring the fact that her son got this tattoo, she's probably like, don't put buffer stickers on a Ferrari. But this is something that I would think about as well. We say these terms, even things that seem to be empowering... The sky is the limit. No, it's we're limitless. The limits are only what exists in our minds, and also something else that you've pointed us to throughout this, it's just understanding truly how little we know, and as a society, part of the reason we're in this situation that we're in right now is that we're acting... Is that we're acting as if we know we've got figured out for everybody, and we're treating everybody in life itself in this kind of cookie cutter fashion and one-size fits all for everyone, and it's just a huge mistake, but never before has it been brought to the surface like this, so we can look at it and just be like, No, it's not true.
How could it be true for you and biochemically, my makeup is totally different, I have a unique metabolic fingerprint, a unique microbial fingerprint that's affecting my genetic expression, totally different from yours. We have similar physics that guide some things, but even within physics, there's this thing that also is getting kicked around still... Is that stuff just happens. It just happens. That's ignoring physics. Everything has a cause and effect, right, there's a causative agent behind everything, do we have the courage to look into that, is the question, do we have the courage to experiment? And that's one of the things that really stands out about you is you're a courageous human being.
NSIMA INYANG: Thank you.
SHAWN STEVENSON: And when we start to develop that trait, it tends to bleed over into other areas of our lives. Would you say that that's pretty accurate?
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's why I feel extremely blessed that the podcast is what I do, because I'm so interested in talking to people that are really good at whatever it is that they're doing, but the biggest thing that I really want to learn from them is like, what makes you, you? What are the things that you do each day? What are your habits? What are these little things that nobody sees you doing because those habits are the thing that has allowed them to do what they do, get to the level of performance that they've gotten to attain the level of knowledge and that specific thing? That's it. And there is a point in my early 20s when body transformations were a really easy thing for me to do. I had just specific macros, you can get them doing a certain thing. Boom, it's easy. I thought like, okay, I have this figured out. And I stagnated hardcore, not just for my performance, but people I was working with, like they were getting the results, but it's like I thought it was figured out. And it wasn't until I started literally just trying to get out of my bubble of IFYM and body building and learning more about all of these different things, seeing where my weak spots were, it wasn't until that that I was like...
Number one, as I started to learn more, I realized, "Sh, I don't know anything," I know something. But there is so many things that I'm really bad at, or I have a really big knowledge gap at. And I appreciated that. I like it when we're talking to people, and I have no idea how they learned what they learned... I have no idea where they got there, 'cause I'm like, Okay, I need to figure that out, that's really cool, 'cause if I can figure that out, then we can share that with more people. So the curiosity thing is like it's what makes the work so rewarding because we're filling all these personal gaps within ourselves, that's why it also goes back to the no weak links thing. Find out things are weak within the gym, find out things are weak within life that you're maybe interested in, and go hard at that. Mark likes to say, he has this term lean into the resistance of life. And I truly believe that, lean into the resistance. There's something you're not good at, lean into that, chances are that on the other side of that door, on the other side of that experience is going to be a really good level of growth that you're going to be very, very, very happy that you took part in.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Man, it's been awesome. And you mentioned the show a couple of times, can you let everybody know the name of the show again and again, just you blow my mind at several times in this conversation. Thank you. Because the big thing for me is your curiosity, your courage, but also man, just to see a human being who's implemented so much of their life force into certain things, and then being able to pivot and to bringing that with them, it's just so damn cool. Like you mentioned, you're not just doing Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, like, you compete, you know what I'm saying? Didn't you... You did a tournament. Well, first of all, I'm not going to let you go without this, I saw somewhere you were Mr. California.
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah. Yeah.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Mr. California?
NSIMA INYANG: Yeah, so I competed in natural body building from 2012 to 2015. I got my pro card in three different Natural federations, and I went to Worlds in 2015, I got fifth place in the world for the Heavy weights, so that was my last year of body building competition, but yeah, there was a show I won in Sacramento, which was WNBF, I forgot what show it was, but yeah, I was Mr. California for that show. Which was cool. But then after body building, I pivoted to power lifting, and that was cool too, I got an elite total, which was nice. But like I mentioned, I just wasn't moving the way I wanted to move, so then I started jiu-jitsu and that was... It's going to be seven years in December that I've been doing jiu-jitsu and I love that, and I still do all the lifting, but I've been competing in that for the past seven years, so it's been pretty good, I got... I got second at Pan Ams and second at Worlds as a blue belt, and yeah, I'm just... I'm a purple belt now, I'm probably going to get my brown belt pretty soon, but my goal at jiu-jitsu is to try to compete at the top level as a black belt. So, we got a ways to go, but I have some confidence that it's going to happen, so it's exciting.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Awesome, awesome. So, the show is...
NSIMA INYANG: Mark Bell's Power Project, it's everywhere, YouTube, all podcast stuff.
SHAWN STEVENSON: And people can follow you...
NSIMA INYANG: Nsima Inyang on Instagram and YouTube, as N-S-I-M-A, I-N-Y-A-N-G, Nsima Yin Yang on TikTok and Twitter.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Boom, you're doing some dope stuff. Your TikTok is just blowing up.
NSIMA INYANG: Thank you, I appreciate it. It's fun, it's a different platform, but it's pretty fun.
SHAWN STEVENSON: For sure, man. Well, again, thanks so much for dropping down here to hang out with us, man, it means a lot, and just thank you for being the example that you're being, appreciate you man.
NSIMA INYANG: I appreciate you inviting me out. This is awesome.
SHAWN STEVENSON: Awesome, my pleasure. Let's go. Nsima everybody, thank you so much for tuning into the show today. I hope you got a lot of value out of this. Again, this is all about becoming a stronger human being, becoming the best version of ourselves, taking steps in that direction and learning from experts, like Nsima of course, it's remarkable, but it's really about implementation and taking what we learn and applying it to our lives. The ultimate laboratory for our potential for human expression, for ourselves is going to be personal experimentation, applying things in our own life to see what it does. And so also again, we want to make sure that we're not just being a model for health right now but being a model for health into the future and creating a resilient body, a body that is functional for not just now, but for a lifetime.
And that starts with paying attention to some of the small things, the health of our feet, for example, as we talked about, that kinetic chain, it's from the ground up, literally, and so much of our lives are dependent upon what's happening down below. As above, so below. And so understanding that we have the ability to put some time and attention into these things, right now it's of the utmost importance, and it's so simple, taking five minutes a day just to work on our feet or to work on doing some backwards movement for our knee Health or whatever the case might be, just paying a little bit more attention to our physical weak spots and working to build those things up. But most importantly, of course, it's paying attention to the big movers, what are the big movers? Making sure that we're getting in plenty nutritious movement in the form of walking.
Again, this is a part of being human. Our bodies expect us to walk, we're designed to walk, so making sure that we're getting that implement and outside of that, the next one would be moving some heavy things. We're designed to carry things, and so whether that's a baby or whether that's some heavy weight being able to pick stuff up, move it from one place to another. That's what it's all about. So, implementing some carries, implementing some opportunity to pick up things and pull them or to push them. These are going to be some implements for us to engage in, and in addition to that, working on our mobility, this is something that we can do during a commercial break, if anybody even watches commercials anymore, but just as you're watching television or listening to a podcast, or just taking out... Carving out a little bit of time to work on your mobility is one of the surprising things that Nsima does that is frowned upon in the body building community or power lifting community, is even just taking some time and doing some static stretches, for example. I remember that that was all that we knew when I was competing as an athlete, static stretches was pretty much the only thing we were doing then it evolved from there, and the static stretching back, and you want to do these more mobility movements where we're going through these fluid, different motions.
Well, what about all of them having a place? So, whatever it might be, finding some opportunity to work on your mobility or flexibility, those are three primary foundational tenets. I appreciate you so much for tuning into the show today, please share this out with your friends and family, tag me and tag Nsima, and let everybody know what you thought about this episode, take a screenshot and tag us on Instagram. And also again, you can send this directly from the podcast app that you're listening on, it makes it so easy today, you could send it straight from the Apple Podcast from Spotify, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, wherever you're listening, you send it to somebody that you love. I appreciate you so much for tuning in, we've got some epic shows coming your way very soon, so make sure to stay tuned. Take care, have an amazing day and I'll talk with you soon. And for more after the show, make sure to head over to the modelhealthshow.com, that's where you can find all of the show notes, you could find transcriptions, videos for each episode, and if you got a comment, you can leave me a comment there as well, and please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome, and I appreciate that so much and take care, I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.
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