I did the following WOW last Friday with the UE team (Ed, Sherry and Joe) delivering payback after I supervised their workouts.  It went like this:

Nautilus Pullover with SS Retrofits

SuperSlow Systems Pulldown (the one with the fall-off cam)

MedX Chest Press

MedX Compound Row with SS fall-off cam

SuperSlow Systems Neck Flex/Extension

SuperSlow Systems Leg Press

I have been doing a lot of ER work lately, so I really felt this workout…during and after.  I have enjoyed the comments from everyone on the last blog post.  However, I must admit that I cringe a little bit when the topic turns towards diet.  Everyone has a fairly impassioned opinion, and things can get snarky pretty quickly.  We all come to these opinions through a thinking pathway that is more error-prone…the pathway of induction.  This is as opposed to the pathway that is a little less error prone, which is deduction.  In deduction we take general observations to make specific conclusions.  Thus if something is true for a particular class of things, it tends to be true for all members of that class.  Deduction is therefore the basis of the scientific method where we go from a general theory to specific observations.  Induction is just the opposite.  Inductive reasoning takes specific observations and makes generalized conclusions from it.  Inductive reasoning has a place in the scientific method, but only for generating hypotheses or theories.  Inductive reasoning allows for a conclusion to be false.  For example “James is a grandfather.  James is bald.  Therefore, all grandfathers are bald.”  Where we get into senseless arguments over diet is where we think we have developed our beliefs deductively, when we have in fact generated the beliefs through a process of induction; we find something that works for us personally, and then we try to generalize our experience to be valid for everyone. There are definitely elements that a facts derived through deduction, such as a calorie deficit will result in fat loss.  However, there are many inductive pathways to this deductively derived fact.

Regardless of the ways in which we tend to get things wrong, there is one way that I think every person that entered into the discussion of diet got it right, and that is everyone used Metacognition.  Ayn Rand (love her or hate her) made a very astute observation that the human animal does not have an automatic consciousness.  Humans actually have to expend mental energy to become conscious and turn on the thinking mechanism.  Once thinking is set into motion, it can exist on two levels.  The lower level is simple cognition…you have turned on your consciousness and you commence thinking.  The higher level of cognition involves keeping active the mental energy you used to turn on your thinking to continue to monitor your thought processes.  You are literally thinking about your thinking.  It is this process that is called metacognition.  It is the type of thinking that Thomas referred to in the last comment thread when he admonished “mindfulness” in our eating habits.  More than anything it is this lack of mindfulness that is responsible for our current obesity epidemic.  There are lots of theories about industrial food substances, serving sizes, sugar, fat, viral infections and what not, but I think the real issue is that metacognition has fallen out of fashion over the past 40-50 years.  To put it bluntly, America has become lazy, stupid and fat…and it’s not OK.    From my childhood I distinctly remember people in line at a local cafeteria ordering a meat patty, some cottage cheese, a salad and some cubes of Jell-O for dessert, fully aware that what they really wanted was the all-you-can-eat special.  But they were continually in a metacognitive state where they weighed the hierarchy of their values and decided that nothing tasted as good as thin felt.  This type of mindfulness was so prevalent in the 60′s and 70′s that almost every restaurant had a “diet plate” on their menu, and typically every adult in the dining party would order it.

I have had the distinct pleasure of sitting down to a meal with many of the posters on this blog.  Guys like John Tatore, Skyler Tanner, and David Landau.  I distinctly remember sitting in a hotel restaurant and watching David Landau order from the bar.  He was preparing for a contest and was already very lean.  I was amazed when he was delivered a big, loaded hamburger with a large pile of french fries.  I watched him in disbelief as he consumed…..about 1/3rd of what was on his plate.  Certainly not my dietary approach, but an amazing display of metacognition and self-restraint.  Part of my metacognition is the realization that I have a very hard time resisting that kind of food reward, and instead I select a dietary pattern that does not tease my weaker tendencies.  John Tatore and I seem to be on similar pages, as our choices seemed almost identical the last time we saw each other in Cleveland.  Skyler is more of a foodie.  He is very scientific and precise about his choices, but I mean to tell ya’…if he’s gonna put it in his mouth, he makes sure that it is going to taste damn good.  For Skyler, food is art.

You see, the bottom line is this:  I really don’t give a shit what you eat or the type of dietary approach you select.  What I do think is important (and admirable) is that you all seem to do it with metacognition.  You are thinking about your thinking.  You are asking disconcerting questions.  Where you are weak, you take measures to decrease your cognitive load to make correct choices easier (such as patterned eating, low food reward and intermittent fasting).  You make every effort to expose your errors and your weaknesses so that you can correct and avoid them in the future.  It is this kind of mindfulness that makes me proud to have an affiliation with the posters on this blog.  It works for diet.  It works exercise.  It works for life.

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

Just checking in to let you all know I am around.  Posting frequency has dropped off due to lots of ER work during the busy summer months.  Despite the increased work frequency, my recovery has been somewhat above baseline.  I have therefore settled into a two-way split that I do about every 5-7 days.  In general, the split looks something like this.

Back/Chest/Legs:  Pulldown, Chest Press, Pullover, Row, Neck and Leg Press (or Calf Exercise if I need to protect recovery resources).

Shoulders/Arms/Legs:  Simple Row, Overhead Press (favoring my new SS Systems machine), Bicep movement, Tricep movement, Reverse Curl or Formulator, Leg Press

My last workout was Wednesday and was the workout listed above, including Leg Press.  I have really enjoyed the thoughtful and respectful discussions that have been going on recently.  Reading the input of everyone makes me realize what an incredible community this actually has become.  The participants all represent how variations of sensible training really does produce some incredible results…truly elite fitness, but without the torn rotator cuffs and blown out ACL’s so common in today’s culture.  While we sometimes go down a vortex of over-thinking, we all walk the walk where it counts.

Post Your WOW’s and your thoughts

I decided to interrupt the run-up to 1,000 comments by posting my most recent WOW.  Photos are posted on Instagram at ultimate_exercise_.  I am sticking with a two-way split which is similar to my 3 way split except hip and thigh is grouped with shoulders and arms and calves are grouped with chest and back.  I got a little bit of a mini-workout on Wednesday and Thursday when I prepped and cleaned the SuperSlow Systems equipment that I recently bought in preparation for transport to UE.  I was supposed to do it on Wednesday, but the Penske truck did not get delivered on time.  I had to work in the ER the next day, so Wendy took over transport duties with breakdown/lifting done by my son Eric and a couple of fantastic hired helpers.  New pieces include a SuperSlow Systems Leg Press,  SuperSlow Systems Pulldown (with cam!), MedX Row with SS fall-off cam (duplicate of my current row), SuperSlow Systems Ventral Torso, and SuperSlow Systems Overhead Press.  I also got a vintage Nautilus Leg Curl and Leg Extension in the deal.  The Nautilus Pieces will require refurbishing, but nothing too major.

WOW 6/20/15- SS Systems Pulldown (Jreps in 1/3rds), MedX Chest Press, Nautilus Pullover, MedX Row with SS cam, MedX Leg Press, Neck Flex/Ext on SS Systems Neck.

Tomorrow I will likely perform a pre-exhaust arm routine so I can play with the new equipment:  SS Systems Overhead Press, Nautilus Plate Load Biceps, SS Sytems Pulldown,  Nautilus Triceps Extension, Chest Press, MedX Row, SS Systems Leg Press.

I recently overheard a discussion on the worn-out topic of barbells vs machines as it relates to exercise being “functional”.  The conversation made me recall something Greg Anderson said to someone who innocently asked him the same question.  In classic Greg Anderson style he exclaimed “Give me a break!  A barbell is a f’ing machine!”.  Greg went on to explain how barbell movements could not be done without use of advanced metals, precision machining and perfect balance.  He made note of the perfect diameter for gripping and how it would be impossible to deadlift or row meaningful weight without precision knurling on the bar.  Too coarse of a knurling and you would rip off skin, too smooth and the bar would slide from your grip to potentially knock your kneecaps off.  He then went on to observe how cleans and snatches would snap your wrists if it were not for collars rotating on precision needle bearings.  Even my Sears cement barbell set had a rotating center sleeve to allow such movements (not to mention smoother barbell curls).  Finally, without precisely tempered metal, there would not be the perfect amount of flex and snap to make those “functional” push presses even possible.

I am not arguing against barbells or for machines in general.  Many machines are so poorly designed that a barbell is infinitely better.  However, just because a barbell is seemingly simpler than a machine does not make it more “functional”. In fact, an Eleiko barbell incorporates more advanced technology than most commercially available machines.  However, a well-designed machines that track muscle and joint function and utilize the concepts of biotensegrity in their design can produce improvements in strength and performance that qualify as exceedingly “functional” improvements.  Primitive does not equal functional.  If you have a long, overhanging acromion process then overhead snatches and overhead squats are the furthest thing from functional.  Injuries are not functional.  Stronger is functional.

As an example of barbell technology, see the videos below:



Post your WOW’s and your thoughts

It has been over a month since I posted.  Perhaps I should starting calling this a W.O.M.!  Things have been very stressful on the medical side of my life with all of the changes brought about by the “Affordable” Care Act.  I won’t bore you with the details, except to say that my workouts have been a sanctuary during an incredibly stressful chapter of my life.  Wendy and I both did our WOW’s today and enjoyed them a lot.  This was the first Legs/Abs day that I have had at UE in some time.  The timing just never seem to coincide for legs.  As such, I was going to Fike gym where I was doing calves, leg extension, leg curl, squats and the hammer clam-shell abdominal.  Today I did only the following:

Calf Press on MedX Leg Press-Jrep halves

MedX Abdominal

MedX Leg Press

I was simply astounded at what an amazing machine the MedX Leg Press is.  With that one single set I felt more of an effect than I do from the 3 separate movements done at Fike.  Tonight I cooked grass-fed burgers for dinner.  I had to walk up the steps of our deck to get to the house, and I nearly dropped the plate of burgers because walking up the steps was like re-living the leg press!!

Wendy’s WOW was as follows:


MedX Chest Press

Lumbar Extension on the SuperSlow Systems Pulldown

MedX Overhead Press


She also threw in shrugs and TSC neck

I was recently putting together a PowerPoint lecture to give to local groups/organizations about the benefits of strength exercise.  In doing so, I found some new articles on the effects of myokines on bone density.  It seems that there is hormonal/chemical cross-talk between muscle and bone that signals for increases in bone mineral density.  It use to be believed that increases in bone mineral density where due to adaptations to mechanical stress and strain that were applied to bone.  Hence the popular notion that there was value in “load-bearing exercise”, hence one had to incur impact forces in order to provide the stress necessary for bone thickening.  The obvious paradox with this was that those with osteoporosis had to risk fractures in order to protect themselves from fractures.  It is amazing to me that Ken Hutchins’ Osteoporosis Study challenged this notion over 30 years ago.  Now molecular science is proving him correct.  It seems there are a host of myokines that mediate cross-talk between muscle and bone in a paracrine and endocrine fashion that results in bone density improvements without consideration for mechanical stress/strain.  For instance, myostatin knock-out animals are seen to have bone density improvements that mirror muscle mass improvements with NO mechanical stress.  What we now know is that it is indeed possible to improve a person’s resistance to bone fractures without having to risk giving them a fracture in the process.  While the scientific and pharmaceutical world will try to develop this notion into a pharmaceutical (what I call pushing with a rope); we all know the real answer is to get these hormones honestly…through low force/high intensity exercise.

Here is a link to one of the articles discussing this concept: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380142/

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

I apologize for the drop-off in my posting frequency and thanks for keeping the discussions so lively and interesting.  I did the following WOW this past Thursday at Fike.  Wendy came over toward the tail end of my workout and I put her through a Big 5 routine.  Ed, Sherry and Joe have been jammin’ over at UE.  It is great to have so much business, but when my days off are during the week, it is near impossible to get in for a workout!  A great problem to have.

My workout was as follows:  Barbell Overhead Press, Dumbbell rear delt fly, Barbell Curl, Triceps cable pressdown, Reverse Curls, Dumbell Shrugs.  I used high rep pre-exhaust, followed by standard set to failure on overhead press and shrugs.  I did J-reps on the curl and triceps and rear delts.  Standard SS on reverse curls.

Wendy did the following on Life Fitness/Hammer Plate Loading machines-Under grip pulldown, Chest Press, Row, Overhead Press.  The Leg Press machine was out of service, so she did goblet squats with a kettlebell.

There has been a good deal of buzz over Brian Johnston’s High Density Training protocol which involves using a 30 rep set, then a 12 rep set and then an 8 rep set with escalating weights and brief rest between sets.  Brian feels that the variation that this offers, along with a large number of contractions per unit of time are what make this potentially effective.  It certainly provides an impressive pump and a short term enhancement of appearance and fullness (in my limited experience).  There have been other such protocols that offer similar benefits.  Art Devany always liked a high, medium, low rep scheme for his movements.  There has been a lot of research showing the benefits of vascular occlusion and SS/RenEx protocol with longer time under loads produce a similar experience.  Why these protocols might produce enhanced results is not really known.  Theories are that the occlusion that occurs from the early pump creates an acidotic environment that enhances more aggressive recruitment of the higher order motor units.  It might also be that multiple cycles through lower order motor units during the high rep set may accelerate the sequential recruitment that occurs during the more traditional portion of the bout.  Or, it might simply be that the increased inflammation produces as sustained pump and edema that produces a short term sensation of enhanced size and appearance.  I think the last possibility may have a lot to do with it.  My first cycle produced profound soreness and sustained pump.  The second and third bouts, less so.  There are those that would say this is an indication of how quickly the body adapts and why continued variation is needed.  There are others who argue that the effect is illusory and short-lived and that such protocols are a meaningless detour from what really works.  I must admit that I am not really sure.  I am 40% the former and 60% the latter in my opinion.  Honestly, I really don’t give a crap as long as the readers of this blog continue to train on a consistent and life-long basis, as the real benefits go beyond our eternally springing hopes.

With that in mind, I found it fortuitous that the following article appeared recently.  Just looking over the abstract, the methods were pretty lousy and the study was so short lived in duration that no real conclusions can be drawn, but it is interesting how concurrent experimentation goes on in all fields.

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Mar 10. [Epub ahead of print]
A single set of exhaustive exercise before resistance training improves muscular performance in young men.
Aguiar AF1, Buzzachera CF, Pereira RM, Sanches VC, Januário RB, da Silva RA, Rabelo LM, de Oliveira Gil AW.
Author information

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an additional set of exhaustive exercise before traditional hypertrophic training on quadriceps muscle performance in young men.
Subjects performed maximal dynamic strength (1RM), local muscular endurance (LME), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests before and after an 8-week hypertrophic training program using a knee extensor machine. After baseline testing, the subjects were divided into 3 groups: untrained control, traditional training (TR), and prior exhaustive training (PE). Both the TR and PE groups trained using the same training protocol (2 days week-1; 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions at 75 % of 1RM); the only difference was that the PE group performed an additional set of exhaustive exercise at 20 % of 1RM before each training session.
After 8 weeks, the PE group experienced a greater (P < 0.05) increase in 1RM, cross-sectional area, and LME than the TR group. Additionally, no changes (P > 0.05) in daily dietary intake were observed between groups.
These results suggest that the inclusion of a single set of exhaustive exercise at 20 % of 1RM before traditional hypertrophic training can be a suitable strategy for inducing additional beneficial effects on quadriceps strength, hypertrophy, and endurance in young men.

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

I did the following WOW under the supervision of UE instructor Joe Byers.  He did the same workout under my supervision (except Joe did Leg Press instead of Neck as the last movement).

TSC Simple Row (as pre-exhaust for)

MedX Compound Row with SS cam

MedX Chest Press

Nautilus Pullover with SS Retrofits


SuperSlow Systems Neck Flex/Extension.

After the workout I was closing up shop and got a call from a prospective client.  The reason for the call was one of the most common issues that brings us new clients….the results of a recent DEXA scan.  People often become very alarmed when their DEXA results return with poor scores and their doctor recommends starting bisphosphonates (medications like Fosamax) to try and reverse their bone loss.  This usually triggers an internet search on treating and preventing osteoporosis, which invariably uncovers some article about SuperSlow and its genesis in the Osteoporosis Research Project at the University of Florida.  This in return creates some sort of link to Ultimate Exercise (or many other such facilities).


I have always been a pretty vocal opponent of DEXA scans because I feel that they alarm patients (a morbidity) and triggers the urge to do “something”.  That something is usually bisphosphonates, a class of drugs with some pretty gnarly side-effects. Further, the benefits of increasing bone mineral density have always been a little oversold by correlating an absolute increase in bone density with a relative percentage risk reduction of fractures.  Further, literature suggests that the real correlate for fracture risk is your starting level of bone mineral density, NOT the level you improve to.  To me this has always suggested that bone density was simply a surrogate marker for fracture risk.  I have always suspected the real marker for risk was muscle mass and the resultant strength level.

If we look at these images lifted from Skyler Tanner’s post on bending the aging curve, we must ask ourselves if the sedentary person’s real risk of a fall and subsequent fracture really dependent on the bone density of his femur?  Or…is the real problem the atrophy that has occurred in his thigh muscles and the fact that if he gets the least bit off of his center of gravity he is going down.  And when he (or she) does go down, there is not enough shock absorbing skeletal muscle to protect that frail femur from snapping in two.  If you stuck that frail bone in the middle of all the muscle in the pictures above or below, do you think it would stand a much better chance all the way around?

But the situation is actually much better than that.  Because, when you improve the muscle mass the bone mineral density tracks right along (as does all other organ mass).  It used to be thought that the bone mineral density was increasing because of the forces upon the bone…strain and stress that could also risk a fracture.  But I have seen too many clients improve bone mineral density without exposure to dangerous force to believe that.  As it turns out the increase in bone density, as well as other improvements in organ mass, are related to muscle to organ cross talk mediated by myokines.  There is even evidence that myokine exposure can improve bone density in the complete absence of stress/strain loading.  So when someone tells you that slow cadence, force-controlled exercise does not sufficiently stress the bone to improve bone density, you can smile and walk away.  As it turns out, training in this way gives you all of the upside and none of the down side of the traditional notion of “load-bearing exercise”.  What the new research on myokines is demonstrating is that proper strength exercise is the most profound public health initiative that we have available too us.  The economic implications of a vibrant and productive aging populace, as opposed to a debilitated and dependent one is almost too big to imagine.

This is especially true in light of the collapse of our medical and social entitlement systems.

To get further insight into the issue of muscle-bone cross-talk via myokines, check out the interview linked below:


Post your WOW’s and your thoughts


Due to ongoing workload issues I am sticking with a 3-way split.  Despite a high level of work-related stressors, it is working quite well.  My most recent workout was the legs/abs portion:  Hammer Plate Load Calf Machine, Leg Extension, Leg Curl, Barbell Squat, Hammer Clam-shell abdominal (all done at Fike).

The other two parts of the split are as follows:

Chest/Back:  Nautilus Pullover, SS Pulldown, MedX Chest Press, MedX Compound Row with SS cam, SS Systems Neck Flex/Ext

Shoulders/Arms: Rear Delt/simple row, MedX Overhead Press, Nautilus Plate Load Biceps with SS cam, Nautilus Plate Load Triceps with SS cam, EZ reverse Curl

One thing that has really stood out about this 3-way split is that for two nights after the most recent workout, I feel growth in the groups worked in the prior workout.  For instance, my legs and abs were sore from my most recent workout, but I felt (and could see in the mirror) my response to the shoulders/arms workout that had occurred previously.  While John Little and I are both notorious for poking fun at split workouts by saying “every day is kidney day”; there really does seem to be systemic and local recovery.  It is my theory that this split works well during times of stress because it preserves the localized depth of inroad while limiting the systemic fatigue.  The other stressors of life seem to affect systemic recovery to the extent that they can prevent recovery from a full body onslaught.

I think this may tie in to myokines.  The workout itself is an acute inflammatory event that triggers an anti-inflammatory response from the working skeletal muscle, largely as a protective reflex.  The stress of the workout acutely releases inflammatory cytokines and the muscle responds by releasing anti-inflammatory myokines.  It has long been a personal theory of mine that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue were a state where the cytokine response was intact, but the myokine resoponse was attenuated or lacking.  Now recent literature is suggesting that this might be exactly the case.  Check out the link to the PubMed abstract below.  It in turn has a link to the full-text article if you really want to geek out.


If this is the case, than such split routines may be a way of rehabilitating the fibromyalgia patient.  By limiting the area of involvement, and using a strict form that limits “outroading” (bracing, use of extrinsic muscle groups, and heaving) one can limit the cytokine response to one that can be handled by an attenuated myokine response.  As myokine response improves with training (there is evidence that this occurs), then the split can become less subdivided, until a full-body routine can be accomplished.  That is, one could go from a 5-way split, to a 3-way split, to a 2-way split and finally a whole body routine.  This would be a real therapy, as opposed to the retreaded anti-depressants that are currently being offered in the medical realm.


I have been very busy with ER work and other projects, so I am back to a 3-way split to conserve recovery.  My workout today after I finish this post will be:

Nautilus Pullover with SS retrofits, MedX Chest Press, MedX Row with SS Systems cam, SS Systems Neck flex/extension.

My previous workout was  at Fike:

Calf Raise on Hammer Plate Load Calf (great machine), Leg Extension, Leg Curl, Barbell Squat

Recently I was at another blog where comments were being made about me.   One recurring theme is a reference to an article that I wrote a long while back, describing the workout of one of our most advanced clients and how the workout was so intense that we induced carpet time with just 3 movements.  The comment that followed was something to the effect of “yeah…bragging about putting a subject in shock…and coming from a medical doctor”.  What always seems to get lost is that I wrote that article and gave that anecdote as a means of illustrating that it is NOT necessary to train so hard that you have to lay on the carpet, vomit or go into shock ( a notion that was reinforced in the HIT books of the day).  That, indeed, to do so is counterproductive at best and potentially harmful at worst. At a time when everyone was still trumpeting that harder is always better and that you are not truly training productively unless you go to these extremes, I made the point that not only do volume and frequency need to be modulated to the minimum amount necessary, but intensity also needed to be limited to that minimal effective dose.  So for the record, I want to offer the relevant section of that article written 16 years ago.
Stasis Versus Dynamism Part III:
Roadblocks at the Advanced Level and Blasphemous Experiments

by Doug McGuff, MD, © 1999

Dateline 1984: High Intensity Bodybuilding by Ellington Darden PhD…on pages 117-120 Dr. Darden gives a dramatic description of Sergio Oliva’s thigh training in 1971. The routine was a double pre-exhaust series involving leg press/leg extension/squat with no rest between sets. At the conclusion of this routine Sergio collapsed on the floor. Dr. Darden describes what happened 20 minutes later…. “I walked over to where Sergio was lying on his back. I knelt down and tapped him on the shoulder. There was no response. His body felt cold and clammy. ‘Arthur, he looks dead to me,’ I said.”

Dateline 1984: The Nautilus Advanced Bodybuilding Book by Ellington Darden PhD…on page 11-12 Dr. Darden describes Ray Mentzer’s Arthur Jones-supervised workout of January 5, 1983. “Suddenly Ray’s face contorted in pain. A scream burst from him as he rolled from the machine and collapsed on the floor. His legs resembled two great vibrating machines twitching in unison. You could actually see blood pumping furiously to them…The men pulled Ray from the floor his face still twisted in a grimace. They measured his pulse rate at an astonishing 204 beats per minute-60 seconds after he’d finished the movement.”

Both of these examples describe the training of very advanced, genetically gifted bodybuilders, probably two of the most genetically blessed men that ever lived. Some guys who followed more traditional programs always felt “If only I trained more I too could be a champion”. Being a H.I.T. disciple I reasoned “If only I trained that hard, I too could make great progress”. As Arthur Jones Said to Ray Mentzer… “the key to reaching your potential is figuring out ways to make your training harder, but briefer”. At Ultimate Exercise we have been devoted to standardizing the workout in such a way that we can systematically make our workouts harder, briefer and less frequent. Standardization and good record keeping has caused us to re-examine the Holy Grail of H.I.T.

The Blasphemy Begins

Dateline February 1999: Our most advanced client performs the following workout: Med-X Leg Press 928lbs, SuperSlow Systems Pulldown 242.25lbs, Chest Press 414lbs. All TUL’s were around 1:20-1:30. At the conclusion of the workout he became very pale, and for the first time ever, appeared to shrink before our eyes, when usually, he would appear massively pumped. Remembering the dramatic descriptions above, I immediately went to check the subject’s pulse. Maybe it was above 200, maybe we had delivered a legendary workout a-la Arthur Jones! When I grabbed his wrist to feel his radial pulse, I could not find a pulse at all. Reassuringly I could feel his heart beating in his chest and he did have a weak carotid pulse. It takes a systolic blood pressure of at least 90mm Hg to produce a radial pulse. A systolic blood pressure of less than 90 is defined as cardiovascular shock. This brief workout of just 3 exercises had put this subject in shock! We were so proud. The next workout was the first time in 15 months that this subject failed to progress on every set of every exercise. This experience has been repeated in several subjects so far.

To Arthur Jones’ credit, he actually wrote that such severe intensity is neither desirable or necessary. He advised that one should feel capable of repeating the workout within 20 minutes. But having read such dramatic descriptions of intensity, I assumed that more intensity is always better. What we are discovering at Ultimate Exercise is that intensity is just like volume and frequency…it should be used in the minimum amount necessary. More is NOT better.

As we discussed in the first article, we believe the relative contributions of inroad, metabolic effect and weight progression change over time. As you become more advanced, you are able to bring about a degree of inroad and metabolic effect that can inhibit weight progression. Without weight progression you will not get stronger or bigger. As previously discussed I theorize that a certain degree of intensity produces GH/IGF-1 release. Weight exposure increases IGF-1 receptors. At some point, I believe, excess intensity seems to stimulate IGF-1 production but at the same time the stress hormones released down regulate IGF-1 receptors. With too few receptors to bind to, IGF-1 cannot exert is muscle-building effect. We now believe that as you progress, you don’t only need to control your volume and frequency, you also need to control your intensity.

At Ultimate Exercise we have always standardized 10 seconds of deep inroad technique (attempting continued movement after failure occurs). We chose 10 seconds at least somewhat arbitrarily; it is long enough to ensure bona-fide failure but not so long that it will drive off clients or encourage them to fake failure. We are now beginning an experiment that will involve changing our protocol. Beginning clients on the 5 set routine will continue the 10 second deep inroad technique. When the client becomes advanced enough to require a decrease to our 3 set routine, we will change to a 5 second deep inroad technique. When a client becomes advanced enough to do the 3 set routine every 10 days, we will stop the set at the point of failure. Very advanced clients will be handled very carefully. We will not use more than 1 large compound movement per exercise. We will instead use routines composed of one of the “big 3″ compound movements and 2 or 3 small movements. This will decrease the mechanical workload of the workout and therefore should thus limit the metabolic workload that the subject must deal with. Most importantly, we will terminate their sets just short of failure. Most likely, we will choose some TUL that is a fraction of their customary TUL to failure (such as 90%). Hopefully, this will allow continued weight progression and strength increases. Understand, we have collected no meaningful data to substantiate this theory. The logic we have proposed seems to be supported by observational experience, so we will proceed. We will update our readers in future articles.


Over time, we learned that weight progression was not a linear process and that it was not directly correlated with improvements in muscular size.  It simply took enough time and experience to run up against the limits of the equipment’s mechanics and a trainee’s ability to optimize skill and motor unit recruitment patterns. It seems that in all realms enough is enough, and more is not better.   However, These early experiences and thought experiments are always fun to revisit.  Even if it is to refute the comments of some internet doofus.

Keep an eye out for the articles section of the blog, as I will slowly migrate over the original articles from the UE website.

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

This was a busy weekend.  I had a full day seminar on Saturday that was an absolute blast.  It was great to teach the theoretical fundamentals of exercise, then the practical application of the protocol and, finally, how to offer what has been learned in a successful and meaningful business.  After spending the day teaching my clients, and putting them through their workouts, I treated myself to the following:

Lumbar Extension on the SuperSlow Systems Pulldown

Nautilus Pullover with SuperSlow retrofits

MedX Chest Press

MedX Compound Row with SuperSlow cam

MedX Leg Press

SuperSlow Systems Neck Flex/Ext

This is the time of year when New Year’s resolutions are made, and many of those resolutions focus on losing body fat.  For some, it is the promise to finally get “ripped”.  The thing is, when it comes to getting ripped, the solution is quite simple…but the application is hard as hell.  Sometimes, we may need direction from someone who has applied the solution and succeeded.  Well, as it turns out, Drew Baye sent me a copy of just that…a detailed guide of the process he used to get down to 4% body fat.  The same process he has used numerous times over his 20 year career to help his clients get lean.   I will let Drew tell it himself, directly from his site at www.baye.com.

From Getting Ripped: A short guide to training and eating to maximize fat loss while maintaining or gaining muscle,

“During the spring of 1995 I was working as a personal trainer for Gold’s Gym in Green Bay, WI, (now Titletown Fitness) and was involved in a feud in the editorial section of The Green Bay Press Gazette with fitness columnist Jane Bodilly, who I frequently criticized for her erroneous and often contradictory advice in letters to the editor. This frequently involved telling people to “forget aerobics” and focus on proper strength training and diet instead.

These arguments caught the attention of a local news network which interviewed Bodilly and me for a segment on exercise and fat loss. I explained that aerobics was not only not necessary but potentially counterproductive for fat loss and other fitness goals and that you could become as lean as possible without it, doing only brief, infrequent, high intensity strength training and reducing your calorie intake.
Talk is cheap though, so I decided to prove it by getting ripped and competing in the NGA Midwest Bodybuilding Classic being held in Wisconsin Rapids, WI in June with only very brief and infrequent high intensity strength training and calorie restriction. Fortunately I was already moderately lean at this time so I did not have far to go. I had been following a typical bodybuilding diet – lots of grilled skinless chicken breasts with sweet potatoes or other vegetables, canned tuna with rice, a lot of milk, etc. – and already had good definition.

In eight weeks between mid April and mid June under the instruction of head trainer Mike Moran I was able to reduce my body fat to between three and four percent (based on multiple measurements performed with skinfold calipers, bioelectrical impedance, and Futrex infrared). During these eight weeks my total workout time averaged less than twelve minutes per week, and I did no so-called “cardio” or any other physically demanding activity. I also did not use any drugs or so-called “fat burning” supplements.

There is nothing unusual or particularly special about achieving this degree of leanness. Competitive bodybuilders do it all the time. What is unusual is that I did it using an approach that is nearly the opposite of what most bodybuilders do when contest dieting. The typical approach is to increase workout volume and frequency, often focusing more on simple exercises for “shaping”, and to perform “cardio” once or twice daily to burn more calories. I reduced my workout volume and frequency to extremely low levels, and did no “cardio” at all, creating a calorie deficit by restricting food intake instead. My total workout time for the entire eight weeks leading up to the contest was under two hours.

Although this was done to reduce an already low bodyfat percentage to competition levels, the same general approach is effective for people with more fat to lose. It has worked for every person I have trained over the past twenty years who was consistent with both their workouts and diet, and it will work for you, too.”

Topics covered include original workouts, pace, warming-up, abdominal, neck, and grip and forearm exercises, updated and expanded workouts, repetition methods and ranges/TUL, body part specialization, how to determine the calorie intake that will allow you to lose fat as fast as possible while still maintaining or gaining muscle, considerations and modifications for the obese, macronutrients, meal frequency and timing, meal planning, and supplements. The guide, which is available as an ebook, also comes with a printable worksheet for the formulas in the book.


To order your copy go to:  http:/baye.com/store/getting-ripped/

I did my WOW this past Friday, and my previous WOW was on the Saturday before that.  Wendy worked out Sunday 12/21 after I got off work and met her at UE.

Doug 12/13-Chin, MedX Chest Press, Nautilus Pullover with SS retrofits, MedX Row with SS cam, MedX Leg Press, Neck Flex/Ext on SS Systems Neck

Doug 12/19- Rear Delt Fly, MedX Overhead Press, EZ barbell curl, Triceps Press on SS Systems Pulldown, EZ reverse curl, Formulator Flex/Ext, MedX Leg Press.

Wend 12/21-Chin, MedX Overhead Press, MedX Row with SS cam, MedX Chest Press, MedX Leg Press, TSC Neck Flex/Ext

This week I want to provide a direct link to James Steele’s most recent publication as it makes a major assertion of BBS principles: that intense effort that maximally stimulates anaerobic pathways also maximally stimulates the aerobic pathways.  Acknowledging that the aerobic metabolic system receives its substrate from anaerobic glycolysis shows that the best way to entrain aerobic adaptations is to perform the kind of intense work that delivers substrate at a maximal level.  Once you appreciate this physiologic fact, you have destroyed the artificial dichotomy between aerobic and anaerobic conditioning that has existed in the field of exercise physiology for decades.

This doesn’t just upset the apple cart of the marathon-running physiology professor, it somewhat upsets us HIT geeks that feel we have found a holy grail in a particular protocol or type of equipment.  What our argument for high intensity training establishes is that perceived effort is the real physiologic common denominator that we have been looking for.  This is born out in studies where interval cycling done to failure produced maximal metabolic improvements as well as significant hypertrophy.  This is not to say that we should be protocol egalitarians.  Some things are definitely more efficient and safer than others.  However, we cannot pretend that a single optimized protocol will produce results superior to all other protocols.  Nor will a given piece of equipment (remember when Arthur told us the pullover would produce lats wider than our shoulders?…didn’t happen) provide results that can’t be obtained with standard technology.

What I have found in my own training is that there is a continuum of intensity/volume/frequency that entrains meaningful results. What you can see in my WOW postings over the course of months/years is that I slide up and down this continuum as a means of accounting for recovery issues brought on by other aspects of my life, as well as a way to dupe adaptation and staleness.  Very minimal changes within a protocol that obey the needs of efficiency and safety seem to be perceived as relatively drastic perturbations to the adaptive mechanism.  This is why I feel the posting of everyone’s workouts are useful.  It shows the significant variations that can exist within an approach that focuses on high quality effort that produces safe and efficient adaptations.  Seeing how someone does it with the equipment and lifestyle they have at hand may be very useful for someone trying to find their way.  When you see someone’s workout that seems to fit, you may have saved years of trial and error.  When you want to alter your program, you may find a variation you want to try.

I just finished a phone consult with someone who lives in Seattle.  Even though this person has an established gym to work out at, and he travels frequently, I still recommended he go over to Ideal Exercise and have some supervised workouts.  Even if he does not end up training there on a full-time basis, he will have the invaluable experience of getting a benchmark for what his workouts should be like.  Once you have such a benchmark, then you will develop an internal “pop-up timer” that you can use as a barometer of the appropriate level of perceived exertion that you can bring to any workout conducted in any environment.

With this in mind, I offer the link to James’ article.  Also, I want to give you a link to Bill DeSimone’s new blog.



Post your WOW’s and your thoughts

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