Recomping, training frequency, calorie cycling & more [video interview]

In this video, one of Menno Henselmans’s clients and fellow digital nomad and fitness blogger, Mario Tomic (the guy in the featured image), interviews Menno about training for body recomposition.

00:36 Intro – Who is Menno Henselmans?

02:15 Body Recomposition (The so-called “holy grail” of diet and exercise) – Overview of the current state of the industry and practice. Can you gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?

08:25 Who should aim at a body recomposition?

13:36 How to estimate your real training age?

20:50 How to set up a program for gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time?

24:00 Can you lose body fat in a calorie surplus (lean bulk)?

26:12 Should you expect to be gaining strength and muscle mass on a cut?

31:00 Menno’s views on calorie cycling and how to implement calorie cycling into your diet

38:03 Interaction between Calorie Cycling and Training Volume and Frequency

42:26 High-frequency training for beginners (Pros and Cons)

48:34 Overtraining with high-frequency full body training

52:52 Menno’s stance on using de-loads and managing fatigue

1:01:58 Central fatigue vs. local fatigue – Which signals of overtraining to look out for?

1:07:00 Final words from Menno on work ethic and where you can find more of his work




  1. Steve says:

    Great interview Menno!
    One question though, you mentioned that in terms of Power lifting, practicing the big 3 lifts for speed/technique work at a 60% 1rm isn’t that efficient given the moving pattern doesn’t mimic lifting closer to your true 1rm (other coaches say the same as well), so how does an intermediate/advanced powerlifter do high frequency training while practicing the big 3 closer to there 1rm, especially the Dead lift? I’ve seen other coaches recommending the more advanced you are the less you should train your main lifts due to being closer to your genetic limit which requires more recovery? This is confusing topic lately :)


    • Glad you liked it, Steve. Overtraining can be avoided by i.a. incorporating exercise variety, not training close to failure and moderating total volume (independent from frequency). As per the interview, I’m not a fan of high frequency deadlifting though. The squat responds best to high frequency training.

      • Steve says:

        Makes sense, thanks for clearing that up for me Menno!

      • Malte says:

        Do you generally advise people to never train to failure? I couldn’t discover any clear statement on that from you yet, but it seems to me that that is the only possible way to be able to train six times per week?

        So according to your programs, training to failure is not necessary to achieve optimal (or any) muscle growth? I read other sources that suggested a muscle will not grow unless pushed to the absolute limit, because then there is no meaningful stimulus.

        And doesn’t that mean that if I train like that, I will never feel like I’m really ‘training hard’, because I’ll always leave something left in the tank?

        To me that sounds like (and now I’m exaggerating to make the point) you advise people to walk at a slow pace every day for hours instead of sprinting as fast as they can for a few minutes twice per week. And if I only walk, I spend a lot of time on it (volume), and I can do it all the time (frequency), but I’ll never feel really exhausted, just maybe slightly tired.

        Or that is how I understand your teaching about high-volume, high-frequency training. If I do a lot of sets on a lot of days, intensity must be lower… something’s gotta give. But maybe I’m misunderstanding?

  2. Marcos says:

    Is there an ideal macro distribution of meals between training? I mean, it would be better to consume a meal thats low on carbs before training or it Will be irrelevant?, same with post-workout, What about the recomendations of eat a low fat high carb meal after training?

  3. Pinpin says:

    Great interview as always.
    About the relationship between general stress and recovery capacity : being a stressful busy guy, meditation has made a significant difference for me. There is a lot of interesting research on it and its impact on cortisol, inflammation, mood.
    Without being a magical solution, I think that having a daily ritual where you are deeply relaxed can increase your weekly MRV, help you to make some serious Buddha gains and improve general well being.
    I’m interested in having your thoughts on it, given that the placebo effect is a very limitating factor for this kind of research.

    Anyway thanks a lot for sharing all this content, and keep making those hair gains !

    • Mindfulness therapy (meditation being the most common form) is legit. There’s a lot of quack research on it and of course the hippie self-hypnosis kind of hype, but the reduction in stress of mindfulness therapy has been well established.

  4. Zach says:

    Really enjoyed the podcast, Menno. You mentioned you are doing intermittent fasting. What is your typical feeding window and how many meals do you typically consume during that time frame? Is this mainly for convenience?


    • I don’t use feeding windows, as they can disrupt your biorhythm. My meal frequency generally varies from 3-4 but I go to 2 and 5 sometimes when it suits my schedule better. It varies greatly depending on where I live.

  5. Andrew says:

    You talk a lot about training frequency. What’s your thought on an intermediate/advanced lifter doing a split like,


    Allows for better frequency than like push/pull/legs but slightly more volume than an upper/lower per muscle group?

    • I’m not a fan of these typical bro splits that artificially separate the ‘back’ form the biceps and the like. Doesn’t make any sense from a functional anatomy perspective.

      • Andrew says:

        Interesting. Are upper/lower – push/pull/legs considered bro splits to you? I’m just trying to figure out how get more frequency. My goal is strength, size and aesthetics. Or do you prefer full body workouts all the time?

        • Those are the cookie-cutter models from the strength and functional training crowds. Not broscience in terms of community but little better in terms of logic from a bodybuilding point of view.

          Full-body workouts are certainly not always suitable: see my interviews on training frequency.

  6. Lowry says:

    Menno, if one is to slightly overreach, do you believe that would result in some growth during the deload phase?

    • Defining the time periods here is crucial, but yes, of course during the supercompensation phase after an overreaching phase you will grow.

      • Lowry says:

        So what about 3 weeks and then a deload? I know some at 3DMJ have said you can overreach and grow, but you cannot spend too much time in a fatigued state using less weight/ performance than typically, because eventually you will not cause adaptation, so you deload and then super compensate. I take it you believe this or something similar to be true from experience?

  7. Lowry says:

    Another question here Menno – regards age and muscular potential. At 18, assuming I have dirt and training dialed in, am I in a much better position than if I was 30 in terms of rate of gain?

  8. Jack says:

    When training full body 6x per week what RPE do you generally recommend and how does it progress from week to week? Thanks

  9. Gaspar says:

    Hi Menno, I have a question about recomp in women. You told than during the luteal phase they would be in a caloric surplus and in a déficit during de litial phase. So, how much colories of surplus and how much leas during de déficit do you recomend?

  10. Ben says:

    Hi Menno,
    Great discussion. Your evidenced-based approach is superb and uniquely meticulous. I really enjoy listening to your reasoning and justification of viewpoints.

    I was wondering if you’ve published anything on sleep, circadian rhythm and nutrient timing for us shift workers. There are certainly times when I have circadian dysrhythmia for significant periods of time, depending on my work roster. Are their strategies to ameliorate the adverse effects of this from a body composition perspective or am I doomed?

  11. Dmitry says:

    Hello, Menno.

    As a coach, did you ever have to train people, who benefited from low frequency training?

    What is your take on 1-2 working sets per exercise to failure? Question basically is if it can optimally stimulate growth, according to current research.

    • Training volume should be optimized based on several factors. There’s no 1 magic number that’s best for everyone. Same for training frequency: it depends on how advanced someone is etc. I’ve coached plenty of individuals who reacted best to low frequency/volume training, notably beginners and individuals with poor potential for muscle growth.

  12. Ravi says:

    Menno.. fantastic interview. I was looking for information on calories cycling and gain so much more info. Thanks for this. I did have a question or more wanted your opinion. I am male, 44 yrs old, 5’9, currently weigh 225 with 31% body fat. I did workout regularly when u was younger but haven’t worked out in the past 15 yrs. So I guess I would consider myself a noon or novice. At 31% BF, I have roughly 156 lbs lean mass. I am trying to lose fat. I would like to be around 180 lbs with 15% BF. That would leave me at a lean mass of about the same 156 lbs. So based on this, I technically would like to maintain my lean mass and drop fat. How would you recommend I do this? It seeks tricky cause a lot of people want to gain muscle abs lose fat. But I want to maintain muscle and lose fat. So would I just calculate my maintenance and just workout at a deficit till I reach 180 and workout to maintain my muscle? Would implementing calorie cycling help on any way to ensure fat loss does not stall and I do not lose lean mass? What would be a good workout split for me wanting to lose fat and maintain muscle? Full body workout twice a week, 1 body part a day? Splits such as chest/shoulders/tris Monday, Back/Bicep Wednesday and legs Friday for example? What would a good reputation scheme be? 12, 10, 8 or 3 sets of 8 straight? Lower reps or higher reps? Do you have any articles on a noobs or novice on maintaining lean mass and losing fat with respect to calorie consumption and workout frequency?

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