interview with james krieger on how to maximize your muscle building potential

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So in today’s podcast interviewed James Krieger.

for those of you who don’t know who James his: 

James Krieger is the founder of Weightology.  He has a Master’s degree in Nutrition from the University of Florida and a second Master’s degree in Exercise Science from Washington State University.  He is the former research director for a corporate weight management program that treated over 400 people per year, with an average weight loss of 40 pounds in 3 months.

James is a published scientist, author, and speaker in the field of exercise and nutrition.

so I wrote down the interview for those of you who like reading than hearing.



Lidor: how did you get into fitness?

James: It’s kinda interesting, I was actually started at college computer science and one of my goals was to work in Microsoft but I was really skinny at high school so I started weight training and I got fascinated by the changes that happen in my body and in an automatic interest in science I started to read stuff about building muscle and the real research about it.

It was in the early internet and I joined a group called and there were guys like Lyle McDonald and some other people and I started to network within people in this industry, I joined email lists and educated myself everyday till I started to lose interest in computer science. So I decided to stop and start learning about nutrition.


Lidor: when you were just starting out, how much weight did you gain?

James: at the beginning, it was like 10-15 pounds quickly and then the rest of it was a lot slower, probably something like 30 pounds, but I’m training for about 20 years now.


Lidor: when we are talking about building muscle, how can you maximize your full potential and really gain as much muscle as possible naturally?

James: the genetic do play a big role, take Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example. Yes, he used steroids, but a lot of people don’t realize that even when he was 13 years old he was jacked! So he was already genetically blessed.

It’s amazing when you put people on the same training program, the difference you’ll see in terms of muscle gains from one person from the next. One can gain a lot of muscle while the other won’t.

So how can we maximize muscle naturally?

First, you use research as a guide, they can’t tell you what to do but they can give you an idea. You have to experience and look if you’re seeing progress, if so, keep what you’re doing, if not then you will have to come with a better alternative.

It also depends on your training age ( the amount of time that you are training).The more time you train the harder and slower it is to gain more muscle.

Me and Brad Schoenfeld did a research which we found that on average you need to do 10 sets per muscle group or more to get the best gain and muscle size. So you use that as a starting point, so if you train 2 times a week it will be 5 sets per session.If its 3 times a week it will be 3 sets per session.

When you start to plateau, you gotta switch things up. Maybe you gotta deload, do a period of reduce volume training, maybe some intensive techniques like drop sets.

Eric Helms has a good rule of thumbs, if you are progressing, keep doing what your doing, if not then ask yourself this: ” am I feeling recovered? Am I feeling good? If not then you probably do too much so maybe you better back off and drop your training volume for a while and then get up again.


Lidor: when talking about lagging body parts such as calves, delts and etc, how can you work on them and gain more muscle at those muscles?

James: there is a couple of things you can do:

  1. You train them first in your session, when you’re fresh. This way you have more power.
  2. Increase training frequency on that body parts. For example, if you train that part 1-2 times per week, then you probably train them 3-4 times.


Lidor: if we talk in sets, how much is it for 1 muscle group?

James: it depends on what you currently doing. If you are doing 10 sets per week, try bump it up to 15-16 and even 20 sets per week so to do that you’ll have to increase your frequency.


Lidor: what’s your take on body types? Does it really matter? Do we need to eat/train differently?

James: there is no scientific evidence synonyms type is predictive of how people can look from training. So the idea of training different due to your synonyms type is that there is not much evidence to support it right now. So it’s more about personal experiment.  


Lidor: even in your nutrition?

James: I see it more as an overall calorie intake, so for a skinny guy he will just have to eat more than a mesomorph or endomorph, but as far as going lower/ higher carbs that would not be true. The ratio of carbs and fats are a measure of personal preferences.

As long as you are getting enough protein you need to eat your carbs and fats according to your exercise expenditure.


Lidor: I see many people that are overweight that are trying to lose fat and need to eat more protein that’s it’s really hard for them. They always says it’s very hard for them to eat so much protein. So what can they do?

James: it depends, you can always use protein powders cause it’s easier. One of the benefits of high protein diet for overweight people is that it makes them less hungry.


Lidor: what’s your take on supplements and fat burners?

James: most supplements are bogus, the only one that really has big evidence behind it but it’s illegal to use is ephedrine. And even this only can give you a little boost. A small increase in your TDEE and it gets you less hungry. So this is the only thing research showed that has any effect.


Lidor: what about green tea and l- carnitine for fat loss?

James: there is no evidence green tea has any significant fat burning effect. l- carnitine does not work at all.


Lidor: as a train, after helping hundreds of people, what would you say is the number one key to transform your body and sustain it?

James: the number one key to success is adherence,  there is no magical program or a diet.

The magical program is the one you can stick to for the long run.


Lidor: can you see results by doing body weight training?

James: Actually yes, especially for a person who is just starting out and can’t do enough body weight exercises. They can progress in terms of reps and sets.If, for example, somebody is doing pull ups and progresses to 2 and 3 and more they still got room to go up to 10, 15 and so on so there is a lot of room to progress. So there is a lot of stuff you can do and progress with just a body weight exercises.


Lidor: will 1-2 times of workouts per week can still show results?

James: if the body weight exercise are challenging enough, he will get some results. Will it be optimal, probably not. But if we talk about an untrained guy, he will get some volume of training.


Lidor: how can you customize a routine that you can stick to? if for example, I love doing drop sets, super sets, which according to building muscle are not optimal.

James: first, brand chainfield and some other people published a research right now that indicates that you don’t really have to train with super heavy weights to gain more muscle. Brad did a study where he had people train with something like 3-4 reps VS 10-12 reps, and as long as the volume was the same, people were gaining the same amount of muscle. Then he did another study where people did 8-12 reps vs 20-30 reps per set and again they gained the same amount of muscle. So the idea that we have to train 80%, 90% of 1 rm to get more muscle are not supported by the data anymore. So you can still gain muscle using moderate to light weights.


Lidor: can you mix it? Like for example, I would start with 3 sets of 4-6 reps of deadlift or squat and then im going into super sets, drop sets and so on.

James: you can progress but your training volume will be compromised so if you are trying to gain more muscle and you go super low volume you’ll compromise your muscle gain. So try to add more volume by doing more higher reps/sets to get to keep the muscle gain coming.

And you also want to track your progress along the way ( weights/ sets/ reps)


Lidor: how can a person who just starting out can track his macros better and really sustain it? Because many people don’t like using myfitnesspal app or using scales and measure their food.

James: I would recommend tracking for short period of time. Just to educate themselves.

So if he just starting out, tracking veggies won’t be necessary. Trying to give them an understanding of portions according to palm size. Most people tend to eat the same stuff throughout the week so if they can stick to a couple of foods they enjoy every day it will be much more easier to follow.

At the end, it’s just a tool to make people more awareness. For somebody who is getting ready for a competition it will be more important but for a general client, you have him track for a short period of time and after that you teach them ways that they can kind of track in their mind, and they won’t need to put things in myfitnesspal and stuff like that.


Lidor: my slogan is ” leave a legacy” so I always like to end an interview by asking this question: what is the legacy that you want to leave?

James: that’s a good question. I just want people to respect the value of science and evidence and how we can use those tools to help people. I guess I want people to remember me for leaving a legacy of being honest about what the data shows and being able to change your mind when you face new evidence.


You can also check James Krieger site:


and on social media:




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