Dr. Bryce Lee – How To Combine Physical Therapy With High Intensity Strength Training

Dr. Bryce Lee (Insta: strengthspaceva) is a former Surface Warfare Naval Officer turned Director of Therapy and Co-founder of StrengthSpace, a provider of resistance-based exercise and physical therapy services.

Bryce became a Body By Science and high intensity strength training devotee and advocate following a string of acute and overuse training injuries he incurred during his time as a CrossFit, kettlebell and powerlifting addict.

Dr. Bryce Lee at StrengthSpace
Dr. Bryce Lee at StrengthSpace

Bryce’s doctoral program focused on orthopaedics, pain neuroscience and the relationship between systemic inflammation and “mechanical” disorders like tendinopathy and osteoarthritis. Once he was promoted to Director of Therapy, Bryce was able to prioritize education of patients and this eventually afforded him the opportunity to open StrengthSpace.

This was a really fun episode and the first on the show to make a foray into the world of physical therapy and strength training.

Dr. Bryce Lee supervising a client on a seated row
Dr. Bryce Lee working his magic and supervising a client on a seated row machine.

Highlights:

  • The political climate of physical therapy science
  • The practices from physical therapy which Bryce has incorporated into his strength training service
  • How to screen and work with injured or physically impaired clients
  • A quick discussion on tactics for optimal hypertrophy
  • …. and much, much more

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Selected Links from the Episode

People Mentioned

  • Matt Ely

    Glad to hear there’s another evidence based resistance trainer in Virginia!

    Great interview – love the comments at the end about desire v. acceptance of where you are and satisfaction. I think it’s good to have a little of each. I keep coming back to the math: suppose, at age 35, that I can gain 1 lb of muscle per year indefinitely. In 50 years, that would give me 50 more lbs of muscle mass than I have now. Further, suppose I could increase my heavy, compound lifts (leg press, deadlift) by 1 lb per week indefinitely. At that pace, in ten years I’ve added 520 lbs to each, and in twenty years, 1,040 lbs to each.

    Seems there has to be a point at which the purpose of training shifts to maintaining health and fitness, which doesn’t mean that I won’t keep trying to get stronger, but that it’s okay to accept where I am today, especially if I feel great and can do all the things I want to be able to do.

    • https://corporatewarrior.co Lawrence Neal

      Hey Matt – I couldn’t help but sneak some hypertrophy talk in at the end. I think you have a great perspective on this. I recorded this with Bryce a couple of months ago, and with that my perspective evolves through more podcast conversations and personal experience. So, I’m totally on board with your perspective above and I think it’s a healthy way of looking at things. Personally, I have been eating maintenance calories for years and I’m interested to see what a calorie surplus (2,000 to 3,000) might do for me with RT twice per week. I tried 2,600 and 2,800 and practically saw no change over 4 weeks, so watch this space.

      Also, having recently read Martin’s Lean Gains book, I might experiment with his Reverse Pyramid Training protocol. Physiologically. I’m skeptical it would produce any greater gains than simply training with a SSTF, but we shall see 😀

      • Bryce Lee

        Matt, the siren’s song is hard to resist! As is the “just so” story of Milo of Sardis, who carried a calf on his shoulders every day until it became a bull. If only perpetual gains could be had like that.

        I find instead that it works a bit better to drive up a few key lifts, and then maintain them at that level with decreasing frequency to make room for other key exercises you can improve on. Training the leg press weekly, eventually you’ll plateau, but instead of looking at this as a defeat, you can probably back of to once every other week for that exercise and still maintain. Now you have the room to start progressing another exercise, such as a leg curl or adduction exercise. Now, maybe you get lucky and this boosts your mass or leg pressing strength. Maybe not, but at the very least it is likely to improve your resilience against injury. Once that lift or lifts plateaus, repeat the process and start progressing another exercise. This is a fun and liberating way to go, because you can’t always progress a lift another 5-10%, but you can usually find a novel exercise in which you have the potential to get significantly stronger. Neck, grip, lumbar extension, hamstring curl, adductor, end range hip extension (hip thrust/glute bridge, etc), trunk rotation. You’d be surprised how much you can progress these exercises even if you’re already training full body with a big 5. Keep your training fun, and consider added rest days when you first pleateau. However, e comfortable with the fact that they are inevitable, and that plateaus aren’t always failures, they can be victories. They mean you have done the work and are ready to add another movement in somewhere.

        • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

          Great advice Bryce. Thank you for sharing!

          • Bryce Lee

            My pleasure Lawrence. It was a great experience being interviewed by you!

  • Andrew May

    Great episode.

    • https://corporatewarrior.co Lawrence Neal

      That’s brief for you mate. Cheers! 😀 lol

  • ad ligtvoet

    Great interview , good ideas about possible results, location choice, ‘sharing ‘ the location with others etc. Certainly also the interpretation of pain and when to know that now a client IS a patient that need (first) to be taken care of by another Healthcare provider.
    Striving to progress while “knowing”that much muscle isn’t to gain anymore is the core of staying above flatline…..this presupposes a rational approach and control of emotions. Marketing tries to fuck this up with a result of doubt. Know and understand the proces and the method based on this is IMO needed to keep progressing in the sense that getting older and being able to move around painfree is a way of not regressing. Just think about it. The older you will get the more you will “understand”. That’s a promiss!!!

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Thanks Ad. Yes, I don’t think that high foot fall is a pre-requisite for success, clearly. There seem to be a number of HIT / fitness boutique businesses who succeed in spite of different location types, such as being hidden in the back of a building on a street or away from the city in a business park, or other.

      Indeed, I was asking about the pain issue for my own benefit as much as everyone elses!

      Thanks Ad for the reassurance regarding long term gains and mindset. Like Arthur said: “no one cares about how big their bicep is when their back hurts” 😉

  • Malcolm

    Great interview Lawrence’s! I actually found BBS and HIT through a frozen shoulder. A physiotherapist recommended slow controlled exercises, I found Dr Doug McGuff via his interview with Dr Mercola, and as they say the rest is history.
    Seven years later and still going strong!

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Thanks Malcolm. I had forgotten that is how you came across BBS so understand how this interview must really resonate with you. I LOVE that interview with McGuff and Mercola. I actually REALLY respect Mercola for the most impressive humility I have ever seen from someone so well established as an online health and fitness expert. There are a number of moments during that interview where Doug corrects Mercola, and Mercola responds with a lot of maturity. Just shows that you can “let go” of your expert status occasionally and still be widely successful. Here’s the Mercola / McGuff interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQra-ME7vIo

  • Greg P.

    That was an enjoyable listen. I don’t know Bryce personally, but I still kind of feel like I know him from reading the many posts he made on the old BBS site. Seems like a good guy, and I am glad to see him carrying his interest in fitness to the next level, if you will. I wonder if he gets many referrals from Primary Care Physicians who want to ‘prescribe’ strength training for their patients?

    Regarding locations: Crossfit has been quit successful in the US, and most of those gyms (‘boxes’) are off the beaten path, usually in cheap warehouse space within industrial parks. Since client retention is supposed to be good with HIT studios, word of mouth and referrals would seem to be the more important source of traffic.

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Hey Greg – I think he does get a fair few clients via strategic partnerships (Primary Care Physicians). I’ll see if he has time to reply.

      WOM / referrals certainly are important, and in my experience speaking with many HIT entrepreneurs here and in the membership, there has to be an obsessive focus on the customer. their experience, and always adding value, otherwise you won’t generate a referral. And this is where some HIT businesses fall short in maximising this opportunity.

    • Bryce Lee

      Greg P.

      Thanks for the kind words! My business is still young and as such, I don’t receive many referrals directly from MD’s. Marketing directly to MD’s can be a costly endeavor, as they often expect lunches and other niceties. I don’t fault them – their time is valuable and many people are competing for their attentions. But I am taking the tack I mentioned instead – carefully selecting a few MD’s and referring people to them. The hope is that they will recognize that I am referring based on their skill, and will reciprocate.