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Rebel Performance Radio Episode 31: Kassem Hanson

May 18, 2020

On the show this week we welcome Kassem Hanson from N1 Training to talk about how he got started in the science of human performance, his paradigm shifts over the last several years, acquiring knowledge and problem solving, and of course training for hypertrophy. 

We get started with talking about Kassem’s background and how he got to where he is today. Like most of us, he started off as a teenager wanting to get bigger and stronger for sports and began to love the training and preparation aspect more so than the sports he was training for. He fell into the role of a personal trainer to supplement his income when he was in college and quickly realized how rewarding it was to share his knowledge and help other people. Kassem has a philosophy of using problem solving as his guide for education and what direction he needs to go into as opposed to learning just for the sake of learning. He emphasizes the importance of finding what is useful when you learn from particular systems and applying it to your specific clientele by finding what resonates with them. With his team, Kassem is always finding ways to get more out of what they already know and avoid seeking new information just to get another 3 letter acronym next to their names.

We then talk about what led to the paradigm shifts that Kassem has experienced over the past 5-8 years. In 2012 Kassem started working with the late Charles Poliquin in an online training module, which allowed him to start tracking data on a wide range of people throughout a 6 month program. After 7 rounds of this, he was discovering that there were different adaptations to the training he was implementing, highlighting the relationship between biomechanics and physiology. Around that time he was introduced to RTS (Resistance Training Specialists) and began to start thinking about being more specific and to start qualifying what was happening within a training session. Now he was able to look at the person in front of him, decide what they needed, and then prescribe the training, nutrition, and recovery protocols that were specific to that individual for the best possible results. With this model, Kassem notes how the outcome became predictable and he could connect the dots for each person more effectively. 

Next we get into the process Kassem initially used for data collection for the clients in those 6 month programs. He started with lifestyle based questions ranging from sleep to digestion to subjective feedback on the actual training sessions, and his words, it was a lot. But he was starting to recognize trends and began to plot the data points. Now he could make decisions based on the data in front of him as opposed to just looking at what the research says. 

We then dive into how Kassem structures training sessions and how he developed his model. When looking at a singular training session, the first thing he addresses is what type of stimulus he is trying to accomplish. He then looks at the split or how he needs to organize frequency, volume, and exercise selection to target that stimulus. Kassem points out that how he structures these training variables is critical in not only managing stressors within a certain block of training, but to also potentiate future phases. To illustrate this, Kassem talks about changing the mechanical demand of an exercise in order to change the physiological demand and how these subtle differences can determine how you plan to dictate training outcomes. 

When discussing stimulus to fatigue ratios for certain exercises, Kassem is most concerned with what exactly he wants that stimulus to be. In his mind, being specific with your stimulus - from what tissues you are trying to target to the physiological adaptation - will determine exercise selection or how you manipulate certain exercises to fit in with the larger picture of a training program.  

We then go into how Kassem categorizes stimuli and qualifies exercises in order to get specific outcomes. At N1, they start with looking at anatomy and biomechanics and understanding the differences between a lengthened muscle and shortened muscle in order to make adjustments to exercises to target specific tissues. In Kassem’s model, by understanding what is happening mechanically, you can begin to understand what is happening physiologically. While he advises that coaches do continue to dig deeper into the research side of training, he believes that a greater understanding of these foundational concepts will allow you to look at that research with a more keen eye to extrapolate the information and apply it in the manner most appropriate for you. Kassem’s big take home message here is that programming is about problem solving and achieving a specific stimulus for the individual, not over relying on research or using arbitrary exercises.  

2:38 -  Kassem’s background

6:44 -  Transitioning from athlete to coach

9:43 -  How Kassem chooses what to research

18:42 - Paradigm Shifts in Coaching

26:16 - Data Collection 

31:18 - Structuring Training Sessions

42:28 - Programming around Stimulus to Fatigue Ratios

47:28 - How Kassem Categorizes Stimuli

1:01:00 - Kassem’s recommended resources

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