Meet Joel Seedman, Co-Founder of Advanced Human Performance [Interview]

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  • Strength Training Established on Legitimate Research
  • Proper Technique Effecting Legitimate Results
  • Healthy Habits Ensuring Long-Term Retention

There’s a lot of noise and misinformation when it comes to dieting and exercise, isn’t there? When embarking on the journey to start your own fitness business, finding a way to filter the good information from the harmful can be a difficult proposition.

Today, we’re talking to Dr. Joel Seedman who chose to reject “conventional wisdom” and fads in the exercise industry, deciding to conduct the research himself. The findings of his in-depth study and experimentation are the foundation of his thriving and successful fitness practice.

If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, schedule a demo today.

Meet Joel Seedman, Co-Founder of Advanced Human Performance

joel-seedman-ahp

Schimri Yoyo: Welcome back. This is Schimri Yoyo with Exercise.com. And we are continuing our interview series with fitness experts. And today we are fortunate to have Dr. Joel Seedman co-founder Advanced Human Performance with us today.

Dr. Joel, thank you for joining us.

Joel Seedman: My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

Schimri Yoyo: Alright, let’s just jump into your journey. Can you describe your journey to the health and fitness industry and what that was like?

Joel Seedman: Yeah, no. It’s pretty standard at first. I think when I was about 17, 18 I realized I had a passion for training, not only myself but train my friends and family, and just helping people get their bodies to feel better, whether it was physique enhancement or performance or just general overall health. And so I realized that was what I wanted to pursue.

So I decided to pursue my Bachelor’s in Exercise Science at Indiana University, did some strength conditioning as well as personal training that I literally started when I was 18. So I pretty much started my personal training at the same time that I started my education at the collegiate setting, which was great because I could actually implement what I learned, what I do with my clients.

So then as I did that and my passion grew, I became more and more curious. So I decided to do a master’s degree, did more strength conditioning at the collegiate level. And then realized that a lot of the information that was being spread in the industry and information that I was actually using with my clients was maybe not ideal or optimal or correct.

So pretty much brought me to the realization if I wanted more answers, I was going to have to start researching it for myself, and start over, and disregard what I had learned from other practitioners in the field, and figure things out on my own.

So, then I decided to do a Ph.D. in Exercise Science. And that’s where I really started to understand things and started to come to my own conclusions and derive my own training methods rather than relying on what other people were doing. And my brother, he also did his Masters in Kinesiology with me.

And so we actually opened up Advanced Human Performance. He does a lot of the business side of things. But he still does some of the practical as well. But so we run this together. I do a lot of stuff with athletes, general populations, bodybuilders, physique athletes. So pretty much the gamut is very wide, a large variety of different populations ranges from 12, 13 years old to in their 70s. So it’s pretty cool.

Schimri Yoyo: Yeah. I feel that’s a pretty wide range of experience and research. And so you definitely put in the time to master your craft. So we appreciate that.

Joel Seedman: Oh my pleasure. Thank you, man. Thank you.

Schimri Yoyo: Along those lines, you have the Doctorate in Physical Therapy and you’ve obviously put in the time and research to help better yourself and the services you provide for your clients. What parts of your formal education do you believe you utilize the most in your practice and have been most helpful to help you serve your clients?

Joel Seedman: Yeah. Just a quick note there. Actually, even though it’s similar, I actually did my Ph.D. in Exercise Science.

Schimri Yoyo: Oh, okay.

Joel Seedman: So it is very similar to physical therapy, the physical therapy is one avenue people can go down and I decided to go down a little bit more of the research setting in a sense only because I needed to do my own research. I didn’t want to just learn more about what other people were doing, what the books were saying, “Here’s what you need to follow and here’s how you get your doctorate in physical therapy.”

I wanted to actually explore something new. So to answer your question this goes hand in hand with it, was really the Ph.D. in Exercise Science because I got to explore aspects of neuromuscular physiology that related to strength and conditioning, movement, performance, pretty much everything that had to do with weight lifting, strength training, all that.

And that’s really what gave me the greatest insight because I started looking at, “Okay. How does the nervous system function? How, how does the structural elements of the muscle function, what’s optimal biomechanically? What’s optimal neuro muscularly? Do they coincide with each other or are they congruent?”

All the different aspects of the different areas of the sciences, and then started bringing them together and that’s what really gave me the most clarity. So the undergrad and masters were awesome. They were necessary. When I truly started to find the answers I was looking for that was [inaudible 00:04:47].

Schimri Yoyo: Oh that’s good. And my apologies for that. I actually had it written down, “Exercise Science,” and then for whatever reason, I read it as “Physical Therapy.”

Joel Seedman: Oh, no worries. People confuse it all the time. It’s similar obviously. It’s all on the same continuum of helping people with their bodies.

Schimri Yoyo: So that’s good. Now, who are some of your mentors in the fitness industry if you had any?

Joel Seedman: So this is an interesting question people often ask me. I didn’t really have a particular mentor in a sense. I had a few strength and conditioning guys when I was at Indiana University who helped me and I worked with them. But I learned from a lot of different people.

But as far as one particular person who really was like, “Hey, this is my main mentor really helped me,” I don’t really have that. And I think in some ways that were a little bit of a blessing because it forced me to think for myself.

I took elements of different people that I respected and learned from. Whether it was different strength conditioning coaches I read about or whether it was some of the people that I worked with. And I took elements from everything and everyone and tried to find where I felt was optimal rather than having a true mentor.

I think a mentor is great, but sometimes it can cause people to get a little bit tunnel-visioned and narrow-minded because like, “Oh well this is what he’s doing. So I’m going to follow the same thing.” So I didn’t have that, in some ways I think it was actually a blessing.

Schimri Yoyo: I respect that. You have to carve your own path sometimes.

Joel Seedman: Exactly.

Schimri Yoyo: When you’re not training or running your business, what are some of the things you do for fun?

Joel Seedman: Not much these days, man. I got to be honest. I like good movies. Let’s see. I like good food. I like fine dining. I don’t do much right now. But ping pong, a little pool, a few video games with some of my buddies, nothing too crazy. Pretty boring life right now honestly.

Pretty much I would say it’s 95 percent focused and dedicated to this industry right now. So when I do think fun, it’s oftentimes looking into the different science and some of the newest research studies. So a little boring right now, a little one dimensional, unfortunately. But that saved my life.

Enhanced Mechanics and Improved Movement

Schimri Yoyo: Well, movies and good food aren’t a bad way to break away when you’re not training. So if you had to describe your training philosophy and methodology in one word, what would best describe it?

Joel Seedman: Technique.

Schimri Yoyo: Oh, okay.

Joel Seedman: Technique. That’s it. There are so many different books and discussions that have been written about different periodization protocols, different programming, different ways to mix up the reps, the training volume, and all those different programming parameters, which are fine.

But in the end they’re almost all, I wouldn’t say irrelevant, but pretty unimportant in comparison to optimal body mechanics. It just takes a very distant second. So technique, body mechanics, movement patterns, muscle function—basically how the muscles are firing.

Are you in the proper position? Are you demonstrating optimal biomechanics with your movement? That’s the crux of it. Because you can really be on a pretty lousy training protocol, if you’re doing the movements correctly, performing movements with optimal body mechanics, you’re going to get some decent results.

In contrast, you could be on the world’s greatest lifting routine and strength training routine, and if you’re doing it improperly you’re going to get no results. You’ll probably go backward. So it’s all about technique and body mechanics.

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Schimri Yoyo: That makes sense. Thank you for elaborating on that. Now you mentioned earlier that you’re in business with your brother, Joshua.

Joel Seedman: Yes.

Schimri Yoyo: So, what’s it like being in business with a family member? And how are you two similar, how are you two different and how do you complement each other?

Joel Seedman: I think it’s actually been really good. We have always been best pals, so that’s been easy. There’s never been—there was a little bit of a friendly rivalry—but never anything that was too strong. So we’ve always really tried to help each other out. But he also has his niche and helping me with the business and the marketing side of things. And he does some hands-on practical stuff. We’re always talking shop about training.

But I do a little, a lot more I should say, of some of the hands-on in the gym working with people. So, we complement each other pretty well, our abilities, what we do. So it’s been great. So I love working with family. I don’t really work well with too many other people other than some of my immediate family. Even close friends—I have a certain way I like to do things. So I wouldn’t say I’m the best team player. So it worked out good to have family involved.

Schimri Yoyo: Well, that’s good. At least you know you’re strengths. You’re self-aware in that way.

Joel Seedman: Yeah, exactly.

Schimri Yoyo: What would you say is the relationship between strength and conditioning, injury prevention, and rehabilitation? How do they all work together?

Joel Seedman: That’s a great question. I think we’re starting to see that answer starting to shift more because they used to be, you just named them, trying to be separate entities in the field of—whether you want to call it exercise or physical fitness or whatever.

And I think we’re starting to see that the best practitioners are merging them all together. They’re combining them. It’s not one or the other. As I consider myself, I guess a strength coach, a neuromuscular therapist, or personal trainer, whatever you want to call it.

[Editros’ note: See the video below to find out what a career in neuromuscular therapy can be like.]

But I have to know how to use elements in all those paths and elements—I can’t just be, “Oh, I’m the strength coach. I’m going to leave the physical therapy up to someone else. I’m going to leave the folks on physical therapy and let someone else do the strength.”

You got to see it as if you get the body healthy and the person using their muscles optimally because you’ve trained them correctly, then you can really start to overload them. And if you haven’t done that and you haven’t taught them the basic foundational elements of how to use their muscles properly, maybe things that you would have considered physical therapy in a sense, if you haven’t done some of those basic things first, then you can’t overload them.

And you won’t get the results. So I think it’s all on the same continuum, on the same spectrum of training. It’s just knowing when to focus on building foundational elements and when you can go into the overload in the high-intensity training area.

Schimri Yoyo: Now, along with that, how do you help athletes and your clients to be proactive both in their training and also in their recovery and rest from training?

Joel Seedman: Yeah. I always say the better your training is and the more locked-in your body mechanics are, the better you recover from your training and the less of an issue that recuperation in recovery is because all the movements you do are actually therapeutic on the body and it doesn’t really destroy and take its toll on the body like improper technique would.

[Editor’s note: The video below shows how proper technique increases efficiency during a workout and reduces pain and the need for recovery after a workout.]

And the better I’ve become over the years at getting clients to dial-in their body mechanics, the less of an issue recovery has been. When I used to focus more on protocols, and programming, and different periodization techniques, and volume of training and didn’t quite understand what optimal technique entailed. That’s when recovery was an issue and I really had to pay attention to it.

Now it’s not quite as, it’s still important, but it’s not something I have to focus on excessively because the clients almost if they have a good workout, even if they push themselves intensely, oftentimes 24 hours later they recover. Their bodies feel great because they lifted and performed properly and correctly. Which is how it should be.

Schimri Yoyo: That makes sense. You don’t have to emphasize it as much because if they’re using the proper technique, then they’re not putting themselves at risk for injury or overuse in that sense.

Joel Seedman: Exactly.

Balancing Business Administration and Delegating Responsibilities

Schimri Yoyo: And so how, if at all, do you address nutrition with your clients?

Joel Seedman: Great question. This is a tricky one because the nutrition industry is all over the place. And as conflicting as the research and information is in the strength conditioning industry, it’s way worse even in the nutrition and sports nutrition industry.

So, I try to take a pretty conservative approach to nutrition. I don’t like to go too extreme one way or the other. And so some of these fad diets that you’ll see, and somebody screams like, “Well, don’t eat this but eat a ton of this. And don’t eat for this period of time, but devour as much food as you can.”

I try to be a little bit more, not quite as go to the extremes, I would say. And more conservative in my approach. So really I hope, one trying to get the clients to eat as much non-processed healthy foods as possible. Focus on getting healthy proteins, healthy fats, healthy fibers. Again, foods that haven’t been overly processed or foods that are in their more natural form.

So I always ask clients, “Hey, are these foods that you ate, where are they in their somewhat natural form? Or do you think they went through a pretty heavy processing experience to get the food to isolate down to that?” And that gives us a feel for, “Here’s why you, maybe, messed up your diet a little bit.”

And it’s never that you can’t cheat. It’s just 80 to 90 percent of the food they eat needs to be in those natural foods that are in a semi-natural state and haven’t been overly processed. And then obviously taking carbs and adjusting them based on the person’s goals. If they need to gain more weight and more strength and build more muscle then we may bump the carbs up to two to three times per pound of body weight.

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So, if they’re 200 pounds and need to gain a lot size, you may go up to as much as 600 grams of carbs a day. If they need to lose a lot of body fat, they’re a little bit overweight, they’re trying to lean out, then we may drop it to one gram per pound of bodyweight or maybe even a little bit less. But I don’t like to go too extreme. Some people go to 20, 30, 40 grams of carbs per day. To me, that’s just extreme.

Schimri Yoyo: Okay. No, that makes sense. So it seems that you try to focus on forming habits that are going to be sustainable for them over time.

Joel Seedman: Exactly.

Schimri Yoyo: Rather than just go to some extreme diet or a crash course or something like that.

Joel Seedman: Yeah. If they can’t sustain it longterm then it’s not worth doing.

Schimri Yoyo: Okay. That’s a good word of advice. Now, how do you budget your time and energy between the many professional roles that you have in your business?

Joel Seedman: Not well. I think time right now, I don’t have enough of it, unfortunately. I think I need a 26-hour day and somebody needs to invent it because 24 hours right know almost isn’t enough. So, unfortunately, just the way my schedule is right now and then the way my business has evolved, I have a pretty high demand of clients that I train. And that’s 12, 13 hours a day.

And then sometimes I got online clients that I have to work with and then programming, writing things out, doing the social media stuff, writing articles, answering emails. It’s sometimes a 16 hour day. So this is why I don’t have too many extracurricular hobbies I participate in at the moment.

But that’s going to have to change one of these days pretty soon. Because I can’t really sustain that indefinitely and be able to grow the business. So I’m going to have to figure out a different business model. Which is great that the business is at that point. But yeah.

Schimri Yoyo: I understand. Scaling the business is always one of the toughest decisions to make.

Joel Seedman: Exactly.

Schimri Yoyo: But anything we can do to help you as far as that delegation and try to take some things off the plate we’ll definitely try to help you with that as well.

I’m going to give you a little time to brag about yourself, and your brother, and your team a little bit. What makes you and the team at Advanced Human Performance unique in your training approach?

Joel Seedman: I think what makes it unique is our emphasis on what we believe to be optimal technique like I alluded to earlier and what comprises and what really defines optimal or correct body mechanics. I think up to this point in the industry, people have been talking about muscle function, and technique, and form. And it’s like, “Okay, what does that really mean?” It’s cool to use those catchphrases. And I used them for years.

And I finally had to say, “Well, what does this actually mean?” Because I was technically using what was considered good form and good technique based on what was recommended in textbooks and the latest certifying organizations in the field, and it wasn’t working like it should [have been]. It was causing pain, it was causing inflammation.

So I think what we’ve done is thought outside the box and said, “Hey, well this hasn’t worked.” We tried all the other methods that have been pretty much promoted in the industry. And some of them worked better than others. But all of them had their flaws.

So we had to create our own protocols, our own methods that we believe took the best elements out of certain types of training and disregard the elements that were causing issues and that were causing problems with people’s training.

[Editor’s note: Check out the PREP Protocol devised by Dr. Joel and his team at Advanced Human Performance.]

We’ve isolated it down to what we feel is the optimal rate between the human body based on what we believe is how God created our body. So if you view the way that it was created, it works great and everything functions well from our internal physiology to our organs, to our overall health, performance, muscularity.

When you don’t use it right then bad things happen and everything starts breaking down from digestion to various types of sickness, to inflammation, to osteoarthritis. So it’s pretty cool to see. It’s been a process but really isolating things down and trying to narrow down what was the best form of training, which I think we’re—I wouldn’t say we have the corner on the market for that, but we got it down pretty close as far as what I can tell and what most of my clients and athletes would say.

Schimri Yoyo: Yeah. It seems like you guys have a comprehensive, integrated model that you’re emphasizing, that’s very research-based. So that’s pretty cool. Again, I want to be respectful of your time, Dr. Joel. Thank you again for jumping on with us today. Just one last question before you go.

Joel Seedman: Yes?

Schimri Yoyo: What resources would you recommend to our audience? It could be books or podcasts or magazines. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be fitness related either. But what are some resources that you would think have been a benefit to you and would be a benefit to our audience to jump in and get some more information that would be of value to them?

Joel Seedman: Yeah, I think three things. One, do as much investigation into the actual research studies that come out on a weekly, monthly basis. So using PubMed for example, that’s something I’ve been using years. Look at the research for yourself, look at the flaws in the research studies, look at what they come to.

What are their conclusions? What are some of the flaws in the studies? And then if people want to look at some of the work that I’ve done that I feel I’ve narrowed down some of the research, giving people, they have a path to follow so they don’t have to go through all the issues that I went through with my own training methods, they can look at some of my books. Movement Redefined.

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That’s the book that I spent literally eight years working on, details everything from my start in the industry to how my training’s evolved and what I believe to be the optimal ways of training using eccentric isometrics, 90-degree joint angles. And it really goes into great detail. It’s over 600 pages. So it’s pretty in-depth, pretty in-depth science, but also a lot of practical information taking the science, teaching people how to apply it.

And then my ultimate foot and ankle manual, we didn’t touch much on this. But if feet and ankles aren’t doing their job then everything else suffers because the feet and ankles affect everything up the kinetic chain. So I think those would be the three things I would ask people really look into if they want to know a little more about what I do or whatnot.

Schimri Yoyo: That’s a great foot to leave on, not to pun on that. but you’re right as far as, it’s like a house, right? If the foundation of the house is incorrect then everything else is gone from there.

Joel Seedman: You got it, man, exactly.

Schimri Yoyo: Yeah. So thank you again for your time. We definitely wish you much-continued success. And I definitely will, one reach out to you to see if we can help you with some of your opportunities for scaling to try to maybe declutter some of your time and your schedule, and to help you to free up some time for you.

Joel Seedman: Appreciate that. I’m looking forward to it. Thanks so much.

Schimri Yoyo: Not a problem man. Have a good one and thank you.

Joel Seedman: Take care.

If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, schedule a demo today.