Keith Norris on Muscle Gain, High Intensity Interval Resistance Training, Auto Regulation and Cheat Days


Keith in beast mode and working out on an ARXFit machine.

Keith Norris is a life-long athlete, and an elite strength and conditioning coach with 35 years of experience. He’s the co-founder of Paleo f(x) (the largest Paleo conference in the world), a partner in Efficient Exercise and ARXFit, and a founding member of ID Life. He also runs top fitness blog Theory To Practice.

Contact Keith via @KeithNorris or the Theory To Practice Facebook Group.

I apologise in advance for my croaky voice and intermittent coughing during this interview. I had just returned from a holiday in Mexico. I think seven cheat days combined with jet lag didn’t really help my immune system. Luckily for you, I let Keith do most of the talking.


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Would you like to listen to a deep dive discussion on exercise recovery? Listen to this. In this episode Skyler Tanner and I have an in-depth conversation on the role of recovery in muscular hypertrophy (stream below or right-click-here to download):


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Show Notes

  • Why didn’t Keith become a professional footballer following his career at Texas State University? [08:05]
  • The importance of strength training as a foundational exercise program for sport [12:25]
  • The principles and wisdom that Keith learnt from his college strength and conditioning coaches [14:25]
  • How important is it to supplement strength training with mobility work? [24:20]
  • Additional hygiene tactics to supplement strength training [31:10]
  • What is high intensity interval resistance training and are multiple sets more effective than single sets? [36:55]
  • What exercise protocol has been the most successful in causing hypertrophy in Keith’s experience? [54:35]
  • How to tweak a training protocol for optimal hypertrophy/body recomposition with 2 hours per week [1:00:30]
  • Is Keith’s physique down to his genetics or his exercise protocols? [1:07:08]
  • Is HIT built on the 80/20 rule? [1:15:15]
  • What is Auto Regulation? [1:21:00]
  • What are the benefits of a ‘cheat day’? [1:30:20]
  • Vitamin D consumed via Sunlight vs Supplements [1:34:45]
  • What are the benefits of extended time under load during exercise beyond 90 seconds? [1:37:45]
  • The benefits of the ARXFit machines [1:40:40]
  • What has Keith changed his mind about in health and fitness in the past year? [1:44:30]
  • What books does Keith most often recommend to people? [1:48:20]
  • When is Paleo f(x) coming to London? [1:51:55]

Selected Links from the Episode

People Mentioned

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  • Mal

    Another great interview Lawrence, it’s always great to here different points of view discussed, and also the same views as other people in the HIT community, but from a different angle or perspective.

    Looking forward to your next interview with Keith, and also Doug McGuff.

    Keep up the great work Lawrence, I find these interviews both thought provoking and invaluable.

    Regards Mal

    • admin

      Thank you Mal. This means a lot.


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  • Slim934

    Great episode.

    I had a question directed at Keith.

    When you do multiple sets, do you treat it like a circuit or do you go straight to the second set? That is, do you do the whole routine first and then come back and do additional sets, or do you just momentarily rest after the first set and proceed right to the second set of a given exercise?


  • Keith Norris

    As you might expect, the answer varies. And, too, we need to define “circuit”. For instance, most of my clients’ workouts are set in a push/pull combo of 2 exercises done back-to-back. For instance, a chest press of some sort followed by a row of some sort. We would perform 2 sets of this combo, back-to-back, with very little rest between exercises, to “failure” in each exercise. Then, we’d move on to another push/pull combo — maybe a lower body drive/hinge combo (leg press / RDL, for instance). Generally, we can squeeze in 3 such combos within a 30 minute time frame, hitting the full body with push/pull compound movements. This is just the basic template. Of course, client goals, recovery ability, prior training history, injury….all of this must be taken into account. Thus, my reliance upon the Five Ts ( in determining one’s (including my own) programming.

  • Brutus Maximus

    Great interview, thanks !