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Today I went down to UE with Wendy and my Son while my daughter was away on an outing.  It was time for shoulders/arms/leg press, so I did the following WOW:

SuperSlow Systems Overhead Press

EZ Barbell Curl

Nautilus Plate Load Triceps with SS retorfits

EZ reverse Curl

Formulator

SuperSlow Systems Leg Press

Wendy’s workout:

Chin Up

MedX Chest Press

Barbell Bent Row

Overhead Press

Bent Fly

SuperSlow Systems Leg Press- then Barbell Squat

On this post I offer a Manifesto from a long-time poster on BBS who has not always been popular.  He has drawn out some heated debates and is considered an arch-enemy by many who I consider close friends.  In fact, my posting this manifesto may be very off-putting to several friends who have been very friendly to BBS and who have engaged me in paid speaking arrangements.  I offer this post because I said that I would welcome anyone who wanted to take the time to lay out their own personal manifesto a space to speak their mind (even if that person had been kicked off the site in the past).  I also want to have the opportunity to acknowledge that BBS is simply a framework for one single way to engage in this realm of exercise.  I feel that strength exercise is THE best modality in all of medicine for reversing and preventing the diseases of modern civilization, and I would not ever want to discourage anyone from strength exercise simply because it was not done as I advocate in BBS.  Skeletal muscle is infinitely adaptive and plastic.  If by posting views that are different, or in opposition to BBS, I am able to encourage a greater population to give strength exercise a try, I feel that I have done a good deed.  With no further ado, I offer up the Manifesto of Matt Spriggs (strap in….it’s a long one).

The Stimulus Determines Adaptation
When Dr. McGuff asked me to write a manifesto, I was hesitant to do so. Afterall, I’m no
medical professional. I’m not an author. I am not an inventor or innovator. I possess no formal
education or degrees and I’m not an expert in much of anything other than making mistakes,
many of which I’ve made in the past 20 years training myself and others. Recently, I was
reminded of a saying that David Landau shared with me: “It doesn’t matter WHO said it, but
WHAT was said.” I have often been asked why I even bother posting on Body By Science (BBS)
as it seems I am anti­High Intensity Training (HIT) because I don’t believe in single­set to failure
(SSTF) training. This is simply not true. I think that HIT/SSTF can be a very efficient method of
training ­ DEPENDING ON THE GOAL ­ because it is safe, doesn’t require much time and
delivers results. The SSTF method can and does work incredibly well for different applications
and many will be content with the results it provides and to make it very clear, I greatly PREFER
this approach for several reasons. What is HIT? More than likely, the first answer that comes to
mind is the method of training popularized by Arthur Jones and the subsequent versions such
as Heavy Duty, SuperSlow, BBS, etc. This is what comes to my mind, although I believe the
definition could be a bit broader if based on relative effort when exercising.
I find that some of the exchanges and arguments that have taken place on BBS
regarding exercise philosophy and approach have been very educational and thought
provoking. At times reinforcing my position and more often than not, causing me to reevaluate
and learn something new. There is a great deal of knowledge shared on BBS from time to time
by physicians, successful trainers, historians, exercise physiologists, and everyday folks who
simply enjoy training and post their “WOW’s” for all to see. What I take objection to is the claim
that a certain method is superior and is the be­all and end­all (such as moving 1 inch per
second on esoteric machines) and that others using different methods and tools such as higher
frequency, not to failure training, multiple sets and free weights or other types of machines just
don’t understand and are wasting their time without evidence or much other than claims that this
“anointed” approach is truly better. If only the top athletes, bodybuilders and strongmen had
access to this equipment and approach, they could have gone much further in a much shorter
period of time…please and sure! Next, it is usually said that it’s their genetics and drugs ­ which
I largely agree with, but wouldn’t they want to use the BEST approach and equipment in order to
succeed? I believe that a balance exists between the abbreviated HIT approach that I often see
posted here and the high volume approach. It’s a middle­ground of sorts and I think that it could
still be classified as HIT when compared to the more traditional, high­volume approach. Now a
little bit on my background and how I’ve arrived at this opinion.
My first exposure to a Nautilus Machine was at a YMCA as a kid in the late 1980’s. I
knew as soon as I used the Nautilus Multi­Biceps machine that something was very different.
Later, I began working at a Nautilus Fitness Center. We had two main exercise areas of the
facility ­ a Nautilus area and a free weight area which included some cardio equipment. As my
career progressed, I became a health enhancement director at a YMCA with 3 large fitness
centers and a membership base of roughly 10,000 people and continued managing the Nautilus
club, so needless to say, I was extremely busy, eventually supervising thousands of workouts. I
observed the Nautilus machines and methods such as SSTF work almost like magic for people,
including myself (someone with relatively poor genetics and lacking potential for building muscle
or a quality physique) and especially those who had little or no prior exercise experience. It was
not unheard of for me to conduct upwards of 30 orientations and/or sessions in a day. We
developed a “get them in, get them out” mentality and the members actually prefered this. At
times we would brag about how quickly we could go through a circuit ­ sometimes taking less
than 20 minutes, performing nearly as many exercises with a heart rate of close to 200 bpm. We
felt that we could provide all things to all people ­ cardio, strength, flexibility and of course, the
highly coveted increase in muscle mass. As far as I was concerned, free weights and multiple
sets were outdated and inferior and I had made up my mind that I would only use machines and
perform just one set. Anyone else training in any other manner just didn’t get it and they could
probably never truly understand the “right way” to exercise. Had there of been a “form police”
then surely, I would have made the special task force unit!
Earlier, in 1997, during the course of a phone consultation with Mike Mentzer, he
became somewhat agitated with me. Given my age at the time and my persistent questioning
and pressing nature, I’m sure that it all had a caustic effect so, it’s understandable. I had been a
client of Mike’s and understood his points and philosophy fairly well, but I couldn’t understand
what he meant when he advised only 1 set, but would then go on and on about the importance
of a proper warm­up. He did recommend the minimum necessary, but had no problem at all if 1,
2 or 3 warm­up sets were performed and he proclaimed this would improve safety as well as
workout performance. When I repeatedly asked Mike about how much I should warm­up, he
responded along the lines of ­ only you can determine how much you need to warm­up, Matt, as
you are your own individual. Imagine my confusion for a moment. My hero, Mike Mentzer, had
just explained the law of identity to me so passionately and helped me understand that “A is A”
during nearly every call that we had and yet, would claim in an assertive manner that the
warm­up sets “don’t count” and it’s still just one set. I’m sorry, but it cannot be both. If warm up
sets are being used, it’s more than one set. It’s called multiple sets.
It also seems a bit interesting to me that none of the Heavy Duty disciples consider
rest­pause training a multiple set approach, but it could very easily be described as such. Mike
recommended that I perform “1 set of 4-­5 reps, with roughly 10 seconds between reps.” So, is
this really 1 set of 4­-5 reps….or is it 4­-5 sets of 1 rep?? I’ve just given 2 examples where one of
the most influential pioneers in HIT and possibly the foremost advocate of performing only one
set, did in fact recommend the use of multiple sets and there is no way around this. Mike never
prescribed a particular cadence to me, but he did recommend a slow and controlled tempo,
roughly 4 seconds lifting, 4 seconds lowering and he reiterated the importance of not becoming
obsessed with a particular speed and he did not feel that extremely slow speeds such as 10/10
and beyond were necessary or desirable. In fact, something Mike pointed out to me which I
believe is possibly one of the most valuable insights he shared, pertained to repetition
performance. He explained the variables of weight, distance and time and said that if I wanted
to see marked improvement, I would have to INCREASE the weight and DECREASE the period
of time in which the weight was lifted. In other words, move from point A (extension) to point B
(contraction), as fast as possible ­ while maintaining control. Unless I wanted to tear something,
there wasn’t much I could do to increase the distance. I feel very fortunate to have been able to
speak with and learn from Mike Mentzer. I wish I could have learned a great deal more from
him.
Back to the YMCA and Nautilus. I began questioning things more and more when I saw
the people who never exercised on the Nautilus side, rather gravitating towards the freeweight
side of the gym. Their workouts in no way resembled anything that we taught. The repetitions
they performed were fast, multiple sets were used and free weights were considered essential
tools to their progress. With all of the people I observed on the Nautilus side, I never saw
anyone with such remarkable physical development when compared to others using free
weights almost exclusively and non­hit methods ­ even though some were incredibly strong, in
many cases requiring add on weights in addition to the full stack on the Nautilus machines. A
few had decent builds, but most were like myself. You could tell that we worked out, but none of
us had very impressive builds.
This was frustrating for me intellectually because the only real explanation I could give
was genetics and as Dr. McGuff would later write about in his excellent book: Body By Science,
it was a mere selection bias…or was it? I could make all of the arguments for SSTF over
multiple sets and the theory always seemed sound, it must have been the proclivity of the “high
responders” that placed them on the free weight side of the gym, but when the rubber met the
road, higher volume (more than one set) seemed to have the advantage for developing strength
and size ­ even with us, the mere mortals. Of course, there were examples where high volume
didn’t work well at all. I tried Arnold Schwarzenegger’s routine and that lasted about 2 weeks
and it produced nothing more than overtraining and regress for myself, which is largely why I
resorted to HIT and SSTF in the first place and it worked very well for a while, but progress
eventually ceased. I had not yet realized my potential and certainly not within a year as Mike
Mentzer claimed was possible. A friend of mine began using more sets and training 3 times
weekly after realizing he wasn’t reaching his goals. Prior to this, his best squat was 400lbs. With
a SSTF paradigm, he couldn’t use more weight in a working set than 300lbs and jumping right
into a set with 300lbs on his shoulders didn’t seem like a very good idea. He eventually squatted
over 600lbs at the age of 45. He relied heavily on the 10/8/6 system along with 5×5 (5 sets of 5
repetitions). His thighs filled out rather impressively, too. This was not an isolated incident or
limited to people using free weights. My best performance on the Nautilus Duo Squat with a
close seat position was only realized after I acquiesced and followed my friend’s
recommendation, using a light, medium and heavy set (3 sets of 10) with moderate rest periods
between sets.
One of my favorite articles written by Dr. McGuff is entitled The Dose­Response
Relationship of Exercise. During the course of the article, Dr. McGuff makes a very compelling
case for the following: standardization of intensity (you must train to failure), standardization of
repetitions (10/10, so that unloading of the musculature doesn’t occur), use of a generic routine
and not deviating from it and if a muscle becomes stronger, it will also become larger. Of course
there is much more to the article, but I’ve selected a few points. The article is cleverly written in
the way it compares exercise to a drug and I largely agree with many of the points made in the
article.
I am not a medical professional and thus, am unqualified to give an opinion on
comparing exercise to a drug as I do not understand much about important details such as
pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. With that said, I believe it makes sense to
acknowledge that not everyone responds the same way to a drug and it perhaps makes sense
to ask a few questions. Some individuals are intolerant of certain drugs and of course, different
individuals require different doses or varying intensity of therapy. Is it possible that failure is too
high or intense a dosage for some ­ much like too much volume would be? Is the same drug
appropriate for each individual? What about the frequency of the dosage?
Next, the issue of unloading the muscles. 10/10 is recommended in order to preserve the
purity of each repetition and to avoid unloading the intended musculature during exercise.
Imagine that you are laying on a bench or “lying on the bench” as I like to joke about and are
capable of bench pressing 400lbs. Do you really believe that you will be able to move so quickly
that the bar will become weightless? Do you think that you can generate enough momentum
that if you let go of the bar towards lockout that it will continue traveling upwards and hit the
ceiling? If so, I’d like to see it and if not, how have the muscles become unloaded? Of course,
my questions are a bit satirical and lighter loads are a different story, but if a person is using a
maximal load, I believe that maximum volitional effort requires just that ­ moving as fast as
possible and the speed will probably be rather slow ­ at times, but it will not be 10/10 or anything
resembling an inch per second, which people often claim is happening here if they move as fast
as possible. I am not advocating a particular tempo or speed nor do I believe it is necessary for
anyone here to train in a ballistic manner. Is using a maximal load really necessary?
As to a stronger muscle becoming a larger muscle, I believe this to be true. So, if an
individual has exhausted their ability to become stronger, can they no longer improve and gain
muscular size? Should they give up and just hope to maintain? I don’t believe that this has to be
the case. The article by Dr. McGuff, I believe, slightly neglects an important variable when
comparing exercise to a drug. It is possible to develop drug tolerance or dosage failure. Can the
same be said about a certain, non­varied approach in training such as non­deviation from the
generic routine? I believe so. If the SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) is
to be observed, what does this say about moving at the same speed, using the same exercises
and the same frequency?
CASLER’S LAW: NO OVERLOAD = NO PROGRESS
The above was mentioned to me by John Casler in a recent phone conversation. I
consult with John from time to time, asking his advice on certain aspects of training. For those
unfamiliar, John has a HIT background (among other things) and developed a hybrid form of
HIT. I first heard of “Rogue HIT” or “Brutal Intensity” roughly 10 years ago when John was
posting on www.drdarden.com. When he mentioned “Casler’s Law”, I immediately realized
something that was glaringly obvious, but something that I have ignored largely due to my HIT
background which is this: overload can occur in more ways than one and without always adding
more weight or time to a set. This is really quite simple and yet, often overlooked or dismissed
within HIT circles and one of the limiting aspects of the SSTF method. You are pigeon­holed
into not allowing more work. So, when you are stuck or run out of rope, what do you do…take
another 2 weeks off? By adding more volume and using techniques like reducing the rest time
between additional sets, progressive overload can and does occur WITHOUT an increase in
weight. Please realize that I am NOT advocating high volume as seen in the typical
bodybuilding routines, but simply more than one set which some seem to consider
unnecessarily high volume.
An example where I’ve seen the multiple set approach prove useful is in the specific
instance of athletes I’ve worked with who needed to increase their chinning and pull up ability.
Negative training is very helpful and so are weight­assisted devices, but I’ve observed very fast
progress with the use of additional sets. For instance, if a subject can perform 3 repetitions and
is “stuck” at 3, having them perform three sets of three (3×3) with roughly 90­-120 seconds
between sets is highly effective. Nearly everyone I’ve used this with was able to increase reps
and/or decrease the time between sets, at which point it would become a series of cluster sets ­
very little time between sets and eventually increasing their ability in the chin up dramatically. I
never observed the same improvements with just a single set. I’ll point out that 3×3 is a mere
example and other approaches utilizing more volume than a single set can be effective as well,
such as a set number of say, 30 repetitions, performed in a given amount of time, broken into as
many sets as needed to reach the goal of 30 repetitions. During subsequent workouts, the goal
is to decrease the amount of time and/or sets in order to perform 30 repetitions. This is not to
say that one set didn’t work well for some people, but I don’t recall getting anyone past a
plateau as quickly or efficiently as with the additional sets. I believe this is largely due to the
SAID principle and the body adapting to the increased volume…and intensity. Again, the
stimulus determines the adaptation.
There is another example where low frequency and the SSTF approach do not always
work well and this may be germane to some reading this. I had the opportunity and privilege to
work for a stroke recovery team. During this time, in addition to stroke survivors, I trained
subjects with Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis (mainly Relapsing­remitting and
Secondary­progressive), chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack and cancer
survivors and several other debilitating conditions. In nearly all of my experience training these
people, training to failure was not only unnecessary, but at times proved extremely counter
productive. This may seem obvious, but it was not obvious to me until I encountered some of
the challenges associated with training frail subjects. The issue is not only physical, although it
took me a while to learn this. If a subject is having difficulty performing day to day tasks, having
them sit on a machine and fail over and over again is not a boon to their confidence or progress
and yes, the two are closely related. I grow slightly weary of people proclaiming that SSTF is the
best way to approach rehabilitation, enhance someone’s health and life and improve overall
function and so on, especially if they have some type of malady and debilitating health
conditions. Is it better to use only one, very intense set with these types of individuals or does it
stand to reason that higher volume (more than one set) with a reduced level of intensity and
slow, steady progression or maintenance can actually prove more effective and beneficial?
Lastly, extremely slow speeds, or any rigid cadence for that matter, rarely worked very well.
Why? Because many suffer from impaired motor control and find it nearly impossible to move at
a very slow speed, thus making it horrendously difficult to instruct someone in such a manner
and yet, another case for the performance of more than just one set ­ which is the potential for
improvement in motor skills. I know of no way to make this any more clear other than actually
working with these subjects for a period of time.
I believe that a high level of effort is required and that a routine must be challenging and
progressive in order to be productive, but I do not believe that training to failure is required and if
using only SSTF, an individual will eventually run out of options. I have never received an
answer to this dilemma from anyone promoting SSTF other than “stick with it” or “you didn’t give
it an honest try”, “you’ve gone as far as you can go”, or my favorite, “you didn’t do it long
enough”….nearly 20 years in my case. I would like add that at times, I would train very intensely
with techniques like rest­pause, hypers and other set­extenders ­ only to develop chronic colds
and not being able to recover after a full 2 weeks off, with ZERO improvement and nothing to
show for all of my hard work. The level of effort was very high, but very misdirected.
With regards to safety in exercise, extra slow speeds are often touted as being safer ­
so much so that I’ve read something along the lines that 2/4 is ballistically dangerous. This is
absurd to say the least. Since the original recommendation, 2/4 was given as a generic
guideline, which like 10/10, became gospel to many people ­ including myself. Brian Johnston
conducted experiments with force plates and he has stated in effect: avoidance of ballistic or
explosive movements, simply moving under control is as safe as very slow repetitions. Speaking
of Brian Johnston, I would like to recommend his excellent book: High Density Training. The
book and his follow­up bulletin are full of all sorts of variations and routines and are a real value.
Brian has given me a great deal of advice and motivation concerning training. I am constantly
humbled and reminded of how little I truly know whenever I have the opportunity to receive
advice from experts in the field of exercise such as David Landau, Brian Johnston, John Casler
and several others. My knowledge is finite in comparison. They all share very different ideas
and experiences. I do not believe that one approach is necessarily right or wrong, rather all
have found different and effective methods for reaching a desired outcome regarding training
and they are a valuable resource of information.
In summary, my training philosophy is continually evolving. As I pointed out earlier in
this writing, I’m a relatively poor responder to exercise in regard to muscle building potential. I’m
thoroughly convinced that no matter what I do or how I train, I’ll never have a very good build
and I won’t set any strength records like Doug Holland. I’m also certain that since employing
more variety and volume compared to what I was doing, I’ve made small, yet meaningful
improvements after years of standstill and doing the “minimum necessary” as some describe it
(15 minutes or less a week) is definitely not a viable option FOR ME and to think along those
lines, largely places a restriction on progress and realizing whatever potential I might have ­
much like using only 1 set or adhering to any given speed of movement. Why impose such
restrictions on myself? I no longer believe that performing more than one set amounts to
blasphemy or a waste of time, nor do I think that there is a single best way or right way to train,
but there are plenty of wrong ways. I train 2-­3 times weekly. Occasionally I employ higher
volume ­ up to 4 or 5 sets for a given movement, but in general, I prefer 1­-2 warm up sets and a
“working set” ­ typically not to failure, but sometimes I will train to failure. As far as repetition
performance, I prefer a faster, but controlled cadence with no specific cadence or tempo so long
as the weight isn’t jerked or thrown. The 10/8/6 system, along with 20/10/5 and 3 sets of 10 are
all working well at the moment. I will change this eventually because it now seems evident to me
that quite often the supposed “best” or most productive routine is the one that you aren’t
currently using. I still have a bit of a preference towards machines ­ even though I use free
weights and bodyweight exercises a bit more. The machines are safe and efficient and I’m sure
that there is an element of nostalgia regarding my preference of machines. I still like to circuit
train on occasion as this type of training provides a much different stimulus. A very compelling
case can be made for the use of an approach like the “Big 5” and other brief HIT routines if
general health and fitness are the primary objectives. I am opposed to explosive training and the
potential problems associated with training in such a manner. I still consider myself a HIT
trainee, although not a textbook version or definition. I believe that HIT and SSTF are very
effective and time efficient methods of training ­ DEPENDING ON THE GOAL. HIT provides
FAR more benefit than many of the alternatives.
One of the current facilities I use has a MedX Lumbar machine. The only way to use this
machine ­ at this particular facility ­ is under the direct supervision of a licensed physical
therapist. None of the therapists, not a single one, instruct patients on this machine because
they believe and have stated that it is ineffective, is unsafe and, I suspect, haven’t a clue as to
how to properly use it. Based on what I have observed them prescribe, (medicine ball throws,
wood chops, dumbbell chest press on a swiss ball, box/drop jumps, etc.) I can only conclude
that their thinking is so poisoned, they could never appreciate a valuable tool like a MedX
machine, or greater still, a proper way to utilize it. Imagine the waste, not only in monetary
terms, but the missed opportunity for people to experience safe, productive exercise for a
debilitating condition such as lower back pain.
According to a group of exercise physiologists whom I met with recently, the most
effective way to improve lumbar strength is through isolation of the lower back. This intrigued
me as I thought that perhaps they would have a MedX machine or some alternative that I was
unfamiliar with. They went on to demonstrate (with an elderly female who nearly fell during the
course of this demonstration) how standing on a BOSU is best at isolating the Quadratus
Lumborum. As if the deepest abdominal muscle can truly be isolated ­ especially with an unsafe
practice like having the elderly stand on a BOSU ball of all things. Very wrong, yet very
predictable considering the source. It is also noteworthy that none of them had ever heard of
HIT and kept confusing HIT with HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training.
Training Guidelines:
● Train in a safe manner ­ avoid injury. This doesn’t eliminate faster reps, so long
as they are controlled
● Exercise in a time­efficient manner. Even with multiple sets, routines can last as
little as 15­20 minutes ­ if time constraints are an issue
● Clearly identify the goals and desired outcome
● Realize the importance of realistic expectations
● Training should follow the Progressive Overload Model
● Use a variety of techniques ­ be eclectic and have a balanced approach
● Use different tools. Body weight, free weights and machines can all be effective
● Avoid overtraining
● Avoid undertraining
● Tailor the program to the individual ­ NOT the other way around
● If a given routine is working, by all means continue with it
● Be mindful of the SAID principle and the need for variation
● Seek out experts and listen to their advice
● Be your own experiment
● Form your own method and system of training based on how you respond
● Become your own expert
● Understand that no program exists that can be all things to all people

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

IMG_1638

 

My most recent WOW was done this past Saturday morning and included the following movements (see instagram ulimate_exercise_ for photos).

SuperSlow Systems Overhead Press

EZ Barbell Curl

Triceps Press Performed on the “old” SS Systems Pulldown

Reverse EZ Barbell Curl with Fat Gripz

SuperSlow Systems Leg Press

The Next manifesto comes from our board participant Joe under the moniker “Abyss”.    Joe has been a valuable contributor to BBS and has a very intellectual approach to his training.  I am really enjoying these “manifestos”…not just because of the reprieve it provides for having to come up with new content, but for how well it illustrates that BBS specifically and high intensity training in general, is not a “program” or a “protocol”.  There is nothing magic about “The Big 5″ or any specific movement speed.  The material in BBS is nothing more than a gross framework or scaffolding.  It is a starting point.  For any approach to be successful, you have to make it your own.  This is done through experimentation and paying attention to your own internal signals.  Once you have enough experience to truly make a program yours, then you can experience the most benefit from your training.

As we post more and more personal manifestos, I hope that the readers of this blog can begin to appreciate the similarities and differences of each.  Over and over you will see common threads emerge from those that have been exploring their training for years or even decades.  Where you find elements that resonate with you, pay attention as you may have found an approach that may have taken you many years to  discover.  Where you find elements that make you uneasy, also pay attention.  Statements that bring up disconcerting feelings may be exposing a cognitive dissonance within your own approach; and this, above all, may really  be your opportunity to reach new levels.  With that in mind, I now offer the Manifesto of Joe “The Abyss”.

THE JOE “ABYSS” MANIFESTO

First off I want to thank Dr. McGuff again for inviting me to contribute to this blog.  The book,Body by Science and this website have been one of the cornerstones of the development of my training philosophy since I first stumbled upon the HIT method a little more than two years ago. Dr. McGuff’s work has been so influential, in fact, that I want to take a moment to share that I feel like all of what you are about to read is little more than commentary on the works of Dr. McGuff, Drew Baye, Dr. Ellington Darden and John Little.  If anything, I may sprinkle a few of my own personal observations and theories sporadically, but anybody who pays much attention to any of the aforementioned writers will realize I have little of anything original to share on this topic.
Regardless, sometimes it’s helpful to hear the same things in a new voice or from a different perspective and so here I am. Before we get into the nuts and bolts of things, I want to clarify that this post is less a “manifesto” than a list of “Things to Consider” at least as far as these are the things which I consider most in my training and which have guided my training in a manner that I feel has been successful and meaningful.
I’ll get it out of the way that 90-percent of the time my workout is the following:
All movements done at 4/4 cadence, one set to failure, between 32-48 seconds TUL for upper-body movements, 64-80 seconds TUL for lower-body.:
Weighted Chin-up (currently w/ 65-lbs)
Weighted Dip (currently w/ 90-lbs)
Squat (currently w/ 185-lbs)
Romanian dumbbell deadlift (currently with 100-lbs each hand)
Arnold Press (currently with 60-lbs each hand)
Hammer machine row (currently with 160-lbs)
Hopefully it will become clear how the aforementioned workout follows rationally from the following considerations. So let’s begin:
1.       Validity. Validity is one of those somewhat vague terms that has a tendency to mean different things to different people. And this is ok. What I’m suggesting is to consider which methods are most valid for the goals that I have in mind.  From an extremely broad and mostly unhelpful view, for example, getting up and going for a walk several times per week is a more valid method of “exercise” than sitting on a couch and eating ice cream.  Of course, as our understanding of exercise becomes more refined, validity does as well, but one’s own personal goals should help to define what this means, more specifically.
While I believe wholeheartedly in the “Exercise/Recreation” dichotomy that has been discussed in HIT circles for some time now, I get that some people’s goals do skew more toward being better at some form of recreation than toward the benefits of true exercise.  The more interesting question for these people, I feel, is where can HIT methods reinforce or supplement these goals. As, for example, I can think of no better method of strength training for recreational long-distance runners than a weekly HIT session.  Such supplementation will only make the runner physically stronger while requiring very little in the way of time away from their running or recovery  that would interfere with their recovery. This idea, of course, has ramifications that extend to most, if not all, forms of recreation. So, in short, at the very least, HIT methods are probably going to be a valid form of supplementation for those whose primary goals are angled more toward their recreational activities.
2.       Safety. The concept of considering safety sort of speaks for itself—if you’ve been around HIT circles for any notable amount of time, at least—and many may be wondering why it isn’t the first thing to consider when developing a training regimen. The reason why this comes second is that every form of exercise or recreation carries with it inherent risks. HIT, while probably being close to the safest form of exercise/recreation (I’m combining the two simply for ease of discussion and not because I think they are one in the same)  on the planet, it too carries risks. You could drop a weight on your foot, for example. You can pinch a finger in a weight stack. A person could get into a car accident on the way to the gym. Etc. Even if we use again the example of someone going for a walk instead of sitting on the couch and eating ice cream, we can see that the person who goes for a walk could get struck by a car or, if you live in a rural area, attacked by a mountain lion. Of course, not exercising  carries with it some significant long-term risks, but, in the short term, choosing to exercise is the more dangerous choice.
Therefore, safety would seem to me to be second to validity as, if I’m going to put my personal safety at some sort of risk, I better hope I’m at least doing so for an exercise method that is valid.
In real world terms, we can consider our collective favorite workout modality (/sarcasm): Crossfit. Crossfit would seem to be a valid workout method (we can argue “how valid?” but that’s for another day). People who partake in Crossfit will get stronger and many other benefits. However, as we all know, it is a significantly unsafe way of doing so.  One could and would reap all of the benefits of Crossfit without compromising safety to such a degree, even without resorting to HIT methods.
3.       Efficiency. This is the one that drives me nuts as I peruse various HIT-related internet forums. I simply cannot fathom the irrational fetish I see of people continually trying to figure out how many sets and/or days of training they can manage without compromising performance. The only rational question is how little frequency and volume can I get away with. In my mind it is a much better idea to start off with all kinds of volume and frequency and then slowly scale it back to determine how little is needed, than to start with very little frequency/volume and gradually add more and more. It’s missing the point.
This is such a simple and straight-forward concept that I have very little patience for it. I’ve heard/read a number of people in real life and on the internet state that they simply “enjoy going to gym, bro.” But that doesn’t make sense to me, either. I enjoy going to the gym. I enjoy working out. I was a competitive wrestler all the way into college and ran track and played baseball all through my school years. I like being active. I like exercising. I like going to the gym. But I also like lots of other things, including the results I get from going to the gym. In fact, I enjoy whenever I go to the gym and realize that I need to add more weight to whatever movement I’m performing because I’m exercising so efficiently. I didn’t enjoy going to the gym several times per week and not progressing. I hated that feeling so much that I almost stopped going to the gym, period.

Besides, the “I like going to the gym” excuse is like a chef who never produces a meal because he enjoys the act of cooking. Part of enjoying the act of cooking is enjoying the results of the cooking process. Going to the gym simply for the sake of going to the gym is akin to cooking without tasting the meal.
Regardless of all that, the bottom line is the old refrain that exercise is merely a stimulus and like any stimulus, it is better to impose the least amount of it needed to garner results. You don’t take more Percocets than the bare minimum needed just because you enjoy Percocets. Or, at least you’re asking for some major problems if you do. It’s like trying to add more sun-time when you’re tanning. You may enjoy being out in the sun, but you’re compromising your results and your health by doing so.

Don’t do it.

4.       Simplicity. Sort of related to efficiency, the idea of simple methods of exercise ensures that there is little room for error. In all training modalities, the tendency is for the practitioner to keep on “fine-tuning” their methods until they’ve stumbled upon the magical elixir. This is natural. I’m guilty of it myself. However, I feel like the general tendency is to do so in the wrong direction.  I don’t know if there’s much scientific evidence to support it, but I adhere to the idea that 80-percent of our results are due to 20-percent of our efforts.  And my observation is that when people are attempting to fine-tune, they do so by tinkering with the 80-percent of their efforts that have very little to do with their results. They want to implement periodization protocols, or they want to add extra sets of tricep extensions or they want to add warm-up sets or  they want to argue for ages about whether 10 second or 5 second reps are key or whatever.  The key is to focus and mild the 20-percent that is making all the difference. Focus on making each set of the Big 5 (or if you’re me, the Big 6) the very best, most quality set you can. “Milk” each movement. Milk each weight. Don’t progress until you’re capable of damn near perfect sets of each exercise.
5.       Mind-body relationship. I don’t want to get too mystical on people, but any method of exercise—true exercise—should, in my opinion, allow for the utmost concentration and focus. HIT methods, I believe, allow for this, particularly single-set-to-failure methods. If I only have one set to get it right, I can focus and give it my best effort in that one set. I don’t have to worry about future sets and how this set is going to impact my performance on those future sets. I can focus internally on the muscles and attempt to induce the highest quality contractions possible, particularly as I near failure.  I don’t know if there’s any science on this particular issues, but this is one element of training that I have come to be a big believer in as time has passed. True strength training has more to do with what the weights can do to my muscles and not what my muscles are doing to the weights. Weight is incidental. True strength training seems to have more in common with old styles of training like Qi-gong or Tai-Chi than it does with modern day athletic training.
6.       Patience. I end with patience, which I’m tempted to make the most important consideration. Patience is so important because unless I’m extremely genetically gifted or I’m on performance enhancing drugs, progress is slow, at least beyond beginner gains. Aesthetics are slow. Strength gain is slow. The stuff most of us really care about is slow. And it doesn’t matter if you’re doing one set to failure or multiple sets. It really doesn’t. I can’t emphasize this enough. Once you’ve started this journey, get comfortable because it’s going to be a long haul. Focus on the journey, not the destination and celebrate the seemingly little piece of progress, because, over time, those 2-lbs increases add up.

Along with this idea is the importance of comparing yourself only to yourself.  Even though some of us don’t like to admit it, we are all little individual snowflakes. Progress for me is going to look different as it is for you as it is for the other guy and so on.

I end with this consideration because most of the criticisms I’ve seen of HIT or SSTF methods has been due to, from my perspective, a lack of patience and/or a person’s comparing themselves to somebody else. Some people are going to respond really well to any kind of exercise and some are going to respond poorly to every kind of method. The important thing is that we are each becoming the best version of ourselves, not of anyone else.
With all that in mind I cannot emphasize the importance of experimenting with different TULs and recovery times. I would bet money that it’s not the SSTF/HIT method that is at fault for some people’s perception of a lack of results, but simply a failure to identify specific optimal timeframes.  Also, plateaus and poor workouts happen to everyone, regardless of exercise modality. And there’s no real shortcut around them that I’ve discovered. If some of you were impressed with the numbers I can push, keep in mind that I basically do the same six movements each week. I don’t “mix it up” except that sometimes I’ll implement a superslow protocol, or I’ll do a 3×3 or I’ll do negative-emphasized sets or I’ll do bodyweight only workouts. However I don’t do “periodization.” I don’t change the movements that I do.  Week after week it is simply a vertical and horizontal press, a vertical and horizontal pull, a deadlift and a squat. Remember, just keep it simple. Consistency and time is how true strength is built.

 

I recently offered for anyone who followed or commented on the blog to submit their own training philosophy for critique and discussion.  The first to step up to the offer was Richard Chartrand.  I have known Richard for some time, but was most familiar with him for a long series that he posted on Dr. Darden’s discussion forum where he detailed, in real time, his training and diet as he prepared to enter a bodybuilding competition around his 50th birthday.  It was one of the most amazing and inspiring reporting of personal achievement that I had ever witnessed.  In the end, Richard got on stage in a bodybuilding show and looked like he belonged there.  Being able to see what a protracted and gradual process his transformation was was truly educational.  Richard has learned a lot along the way, so I am happy to post his thoughts here. My own most recent WOW was as follows:  SuperSlow Systems Pulldown, MedX Chest Press, MedX Row with SS cam, Nautilus Pullover with SS cam, and SuperSlow Systems Leg Press. After my workout, I recorded a new video tour of Ultimate Exercise with my new GoPro Hero4 and started a new Youtube channel to host this and future videos. Check it out here:  http://youtu.be/wnHxNAI-dOg.  Please subscribe and leave your comments. Now, check out the Chartrand Manifesto. First off, what I believe are the priorities in order of importance. 

  1. Safety.  Choose exercises, and execution of exercises, that minimize the risk of acute or long term over use injury.  “Just lift weights… safely”.  This would include recommendations by Bill Desimone in terms of bio mechanics and slow smooth movement and avoiding ballistic movement or single max lifts.  Treat certain exercises such as barbell squats or deadlifts with extreme respect or avoid entirely.  You only  have to get them wrong once.  Avoid entirely if your body type is not conducive to them.  Exception:  Playing sports…. if you enjoy, accept the risks and minimize them by being as strong as possible.  
  2. Genetics.  Pick the right parents.
  3. Sleep.  Do everything right, and miss this one, and it could all be for naught.  I believe being in sync with   circadian rhythms is in fact extremely important.
  4. Intensity.  The workout should be demanding.  As far as failure vs close to failure, no idea really.  Not sure that even means anything.  Depending on how I choose the weight, I could fail between one rep and 30 reps; which one is better stimulus?  I’m guessing they would both provide different stimulus, and this is where the need for variety comes in.  Sequential recruitment of fibers seems to make sense.  Cycling intensity also seems to make sense to me.  (I know this is vague, but to paraphrase Doug (loosely due to bad memory):  “things I can’t prove but seem to make sense”)
  5. The real objective of exercise:  creating a stimulus rather than a given amount of reps with a certain weight.   You know when you’ve gotten a good workout, and you can do it with different loads, equipment and even calisthenics.  Don’t get caught up with rep/weight progression.   It has its place, but undue emphasis, is like a ceo focusing on quarterly results to the point of cooking the books.  Your “company” could look good on paper, but may be in trouble in reality.  
  6. Volume/Frequency/Etc.:  You can undertrain, and you can overtrain, (I think we can all agree on this much) and that can have to do with sleep, nutrition, other stresses, as much or more than your actual routine.    No one size fits all formula.  Each person needs to gauge individually, and be conscious of extremes.  Having said that, I believe we are fairly adaptable.
  7. Nutrition.  Pretty much agree with what Dr. McGuff has already talked about in various videos, books, etc.  (this one might be higher on the list). I think overeating regardless of macronutrient ratios is bad for you per se beyond the overfat situation it contributes to. I wonder if further research would discover that many ailments linked to obesity would be found to be caused by the actual over eating (and or bad food choices) and that obesity may sometimes be an effect and not a cause. 
  8. Variety:  I think different stimulus can help.  How much?  Arthur Jones, felt that 3 times a week, was plenty because, your body expected a workout that didn’t come, whereas others believe you should not repeat the same workout twice.  I don’t know how much, but I believe variety does play a part.   May be psychological, but that in itself may have an effect on results.  See #’s 4 and 5.



Current Program, and thoughts as to why. 

Saturday:  

  1. Nautilus Leg Press
  2. Nautilus Pullover
  3. Nautilus Low Back
  4. Nautilus Torso Arm
  5. Nautilus Decline Press
  6. Parralel Grip Chins
  7. Dips.


Variances: 

  1.  Each time, cycle which exercise is first, second third, so goes from 1-7 to 2-1 to 3-2 etc.   (variety and greater emphasis on fresher body parts first)
  2. First exercise of the day is progress tracker.  Warm up static in strong position for 20 seconds.  Warm up static in weaker position for 20 seconds, followed by 30 second break.  Then look for progress for 5 strict reps, not timed, just focus on smooth and strict.  Finish with jreps with approx 30% reduction in weight.  By only having a “progression” every 7 weeks, goal is to avoid skill acquisition and hopefully measurement shows actual strength increases.  
  3. Exercise 2 to 6, use about 80% of weight I would use if they were first, and I vary between jreps, super slow and stutter reps, as just current examples.    Focus is on getting good feel.  May or may not be failure.
  4. Exericse 7…. 50 rep set (just starting this)…. do a bunch of reps, take a few seconds, do some more etc. until totals 50…. may lower weight between sets if needed.


Summary, first exercise to determine progression, which is slow, as there is only an increase to one exercise, once every 7 weeks…. idea is to keep other exercises strict, and to “milk” everything out of a given weight before prematurely increasing and compromising form, which I’ve found usually happens for me.  2nd to 6th exercises is about variety and truly attaining…. (burn, inroad, pump, stimulus,  whatever)…. Last exericse 50 reps is about occasionally going for that deep “inroad” that done too frequently would lead to overtraining, but I’m thinking occasionally applied may have utility. 

Monday: 
Recreation Hockey:  recreation vs exercise, but does provide some stimulus, imho or at the very least interferes with recovery, which is why, I only do legs once a week, and keep the Wednesday workout to only upper body.  (also covers Doug’s advice in Primal Prescription to “sprint occasionally”.)

Wednesday: 
Calisthenic workout in my room (I work out of town these days)

  1. Chins
  2. Push ups
  3. Stretch bands…. curls, lateral raises, front raises, bent over lateral raises, curls, overhead press, rows, and power twister. (Google for photo of power twister)


Just really go by feel and getting a good “pump”.  I currently do 10 chins and about 16 strict pushups, at about 1.5 up, 1.5 down….. would like to get to 12 and 20+ 


Other:  Like the idea of regular low intensity activity.  Have a fitbit lately, and a stand up desk.  Try to get 7000 steps per day. 

Diet:  Currently at 1800 calories per day with about 40% fats, focusing on as much “real food” as possible.  Once I hit my 180 (currently 182) may look at using fitbit measurement to create slight caloric surplus to hopefully gain muscle without gaining fat.  Supplementation limited to:  (don’t think protein powders fall into real food and have heard Randy Roach describe as “industrial waste”)

  • Fermented Cod liver/butter oil
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D and K
  • Kelp (iodine)
  • Organ Delight (dried raw liver, etc.)

Though not named for each part…. credit for above (partial list from top of my head)  Doug McGuff, Brian Johnston, Bill Desimone, Perfect Health Diet, and all the people who have influenced them.   

Ultimate goal:  Dance at my great grandson’s wedding.    I’m 57 now and my oldest grandson will be 18 on January 14, 2016, so if you do the math, I might be able to actually do this.   
Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

I went down to UE after closing for the following workout:

SuperSlow Systems Overhead Press

Nautilus Plate Load Biceps with SS retrofits

Nautilus Plate Load Triceps with SS retrofits

EZ Bar Reverse Curl

SS Systems Leg Press

Recently, while listening to a continuing medical education podcast, I became aware of another way the high intensity exercise could prove enormously beneficial when you least expect it.  Suppose you go for a day at the beach.  You are unloading the jet ski off a trailer when you slip and scrape your shin on the tongue of the trailer.  You hop up and down, cussing, but eventually you walk it off and go on to have fun in the surf and sand.  A few days later you note that the area on your shin has become red, painful and has some red drainage.  You wait it out for a day, and it gets worse…bad enough for you to go to the local urgent care where you are prescribed some antibiotics.  You fill the prescription and take them dutifully, but the area only gets worse.  The redness has spread, and the entire front of your leg is exquisitely painful.  This time, your wife brings you to the local ER where you are given a dose of IV antibiotics and you are written for an additional oral antibiotic.  The ER bandages your IV site and asks you to come back the next day for a recheck and another dose of IV antibiotics.  That night the leg becomes so painful that even air passing over it is excruciating.  About 2am you have shaking chills and you spike a fever of 104.5.  Your wife wakes to soaked bed sheets and decides you are going back to the ER NOW, but when you try to stand up, you faint and collapse in a ball on the floor.  An ambulance is called and the paramedics find you with a blood pressure of 83/38 and a heart rate of 140.  Your cellulitis has turned into necrotizing fascitis and you are in septic shock.

The bacterial toxins circulating in your bloodstream and the cytokine storm that they induced have caused all variety of organ dysfunction.  Vascular tone is lost and your blood pressure plummets as your blood volume is now circulating in a much larger container.  When your lactic acid is measured, it is astoundingly high (a level of 4.5, where normal is less than 2.0).  In current sepsis management, lactic acid is the major biomarker for the severity of sepsis.  What had always been assumed was that as blood pressure dropped, and oxygen delivery to organs and tissues decreased, these organs and tissues reverted to anaerobic metabolism, the end product of which was lactic acid. It all made perfect sense.  Except, like many things that make perfect sense, that is not what turns out to be going on.  It turns out that in sepsis oxygen levels and delivery can be supra-normal and excess lactic acid is still generated.  It turns out that this overproduction of lactic acid is due to the body’s major surge in catecholamines as it struggles to survive.  See the article below for details on how this was figured out.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1235253/

As epinephrine and norepinephrine pour out in response to the stress of infection an amplification cascade of glycogen mobilization is triggered, accelerating glycolysis.  In addition to generating ATP more rapidly through glycolysis, the end substrate of glycolysis, pyruvate is presented to the mitochondria at a rate that maximizes aerobic metabolism as well.  The catch is, as we discussed in BBS, pyruvate can be generated at a rate much faster than the mitochondria can handle.  As pyruvate stacks up, unable to enter the mitochondria, it is acted upon by lactate dehydrogenase and turned into lactic acid.  This is a necessary side effect of the need to crank up energy production in the body’s massive effort to fight off infection.  However, in the right conditions, and up to a certain point, the lactate can actually be used as fuel.  Circulating lactate can be carried back to the liver where it can undergo gluconeogenesis and serve as new substrate to keep the whole process going (A process known as the Cori Cycle).  For those of you who have read BBS, this should sound vaguely familiar.  It is the exact same process we described in the chapter on global metabolic conditioning, where catecholamines released during high intensity exercise pushed glycolysis to deliver pyruvate to the mitochondria faster than it could be utilized, simultaneously ramping aerobic metabolism to its maximal extent and driving elevated lactic acid levels, which in turn up-regulated the Cori Cycle and blood buffering systems to offset the ensuing acidosis.

Eventually, in sepsis, as in a high intensity workout, these systems eventually become overwhelmed.  In sepsis, it is septic shock.  In high intensity exercise, it is carpet time.  In sepsis when shock ensues the first step is to aggressively administer IV fluids to correct fluid losses from fever, vomiting, respiration as well as to fill the now dilated vascular tree.  When this fails, IV norepinephrine can be given.  This raises blood pressure by constricting the dilated vessels, but it also stimulates beta receptors and further drives glycolysis and pyruvate production-paradoxically raising already high lactic acid levels.  Much of the ability to survive sepsis, it seems, is the ability to “go there” in terms of accelerating glycolysis, as well as making productive use of the lactate that is generated.

This is where high intensity exercise comes in…and this is true for interval training, Crossfit and for HIT.  The degree to which we can improve our ability to absorb this “metabolic whallop” as Greg Glassman calls it, is the degree to which we might be better able to survive the sepsis process.  Now please don’t mistake me as saying that one should seek out “carpet time” as a goal, because I am not.  It is not necessary to provide a good stimulus and done regularly will lead to stagnation and overtraining.  But, I think it is important to realize that you can become capable of easily handling workloads and a pace of work that would previously would have made you quite ill.  What can make the average person vomit or pass out, can easily be handled by someone who has gone through an appropriate progression of metabolic conditioning.  This can be achieved without ever pushing beyond the brink, if you approach it intelligently.  If you do want to push up to, or even beyond, the brink it is easy to do.  If you pick the right movements and do them at an aggressive pace, you can make anyone vomit and require “carpet time”.  The relationship between glycolysis (the more ancient part of our metabolism), will always be able to outpace the mitochondria (a relative newcomer as a symbiotic proto-bacteria that ate the waste products of the cell).

Someone that has trained this metabolic systems to run at peak capacity, and has also up-regulated the pathways that make productive use of lactic acid, the way a drag car uses nitrous, is much more likely to survive a bout of sepsis.  Once again, HIT offers more than just aesthetics.

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

IMG_0934

I did my most recent WOW on Halloween.  I did Back/Chest and Leg Press.  The workout was as follows:

Lumbar Extension on the new SuperSlow Systems Pulldown.  The fall-off cam seemed to intensify the contraction at full extension, and allowed a more gradual run-up to complete fatigue.

MedX Chest Press

Nautilus Pullover with SS retrofits

Medx Row with SS cam

SuperSlow Systems NeckFlex/Ext

SuperSlow Systems Leg Press

One of the most interesting presentations at the Dresden conference was given by James Fisher, MSc. of Southampton Solent University.  James has done a series of articles investigating the effects of advanced methods of HIT that have traditionally been done to elevate the intensity to higher levels in order to produce a deeper state of fatigue, and thus a more profound stimulus, with the intent of producing a more pronounced response.  James has developed study designs to investigate pre-exhaust training, breakdown training and rest-pause training.  He has also investigated varying rest intervals as it pertains to intensity of the stimulus and the consequent results.  In addition to training his own study subjects, James collaborated with Luke Carlson of Discover Strength in Minneapolis, MN in order to have a broader range of study subjects.  The upshot of these studies is that none of the advanced techniques produced results that were any better than a very simple program of single set to failure (SSTF) training.  Here is a link to the abstract of the Pre-Exhaust study and it in turn has a link to the full-text article:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25092528

I  believe the conclusions of these studies are likely correct.  My only reservation is that the scientific method itself may be setting the testing variable up to not show a difference.  As part of the study design, the element to be tested must be isolated in order to test the null hypothesis (that the element being tested does not make a difference).  In the scientific process, other elements that may be included in tandem with the tested variable may be excluded.  The exclusion of these tandem elements may be excluding something that is permissive for the tested variable to actually work.  Also, the contribution of the tested variable over a longer time span, and as a part of an ebb and flow process of autoregulation over time can never be known.  What can be gleaned from these studies, however, is just how well basic SSTF actually works, and how all of our fiddling around the margins may be producing results that, while significant to us “geeks”, may be too small to measure in a meaningful way.

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

I did the following WOW at UE this past Friday (Shoulders/Arms/Leg Press):

SuperSlow Systems Overhead Press

EZ Bar Biceps Curls

Triceps Rope press on SuperSlow Systems Pulldown

EZ bar Reverse Curl

SuperSlow Systems Leg Press

James Steele, PhD gave a great lecture on the false dichotomy that exists in exercise physiology because researchers tend to fixate on the exercise modality as it pertains to the aerobic/strength continuum rather than concerning themselves with the relative effort used with whatever modality one might choose.  The research camps have settled out largely based on modality such that running, cycling and swimming tend to dominate in aerobic literature while weight training modalities dominate in strength and hypertrophy literature.  James used literature from both camps to demonstrate that the real issue is effort and not the chosen modality.  He cited numerous studies where strength and hypertrophy adaptations could be obtained with modalities (such as cycling) that were normally considered aerobic modalities if a high intensity of effort was used.  He then discussed literature that demonstrated that significant aerobic adaptations could be had with high effort protocols that required very little in the way of time, and that these adaptations equalled or surpassed the aerobic adaptations of lower intensity approaches that involved much longer and more frequent training sessions.  In doing so, James hoped to bridge the gap between these modality-based factions and show that both strength and metabolic conditioning (including aerobic conditioning) could be obtained in a time-efficient manner.  The time-efficiency of this approach was shown to be beneficial from a public health standpoint, since the time commitment involved in exercise is the major factor in non-compliance with exercise programs.

James said it much more eloquently in Dresden, as well as in his paper which I offer below:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4327364/

The only objection I note is the seeming equalization of exercise modalities.  While it is true that effort is the great equalizer amongst the modalities, the use of strength training modalities allows high effort with a low risk of injury.  By use of proper form, the forces involved actually become less as muscle is fatigued.  Aerobic modalities used in high effort fashion results in a requisite increase in force that does not abate as fatigue accumulates, making the risk of injury significantly greater.  The emphasis on effort and the recognition that aerobic conditioning can be obtained with high intensity, time efficient protocols is the most important aspect of this paper in my opinion.
Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

I have returned from my trip to Europe.  It was an amazing experience, made more amazing by the fact that it came at a major inflection point in my life.  After 20 years as a partner in an independent emergency medicine group, the forces of social engineering finally caught up with us as our contracted hospital was taken over by a regional healthcare system.  This takeover was not a hostile event as much as it was a savior event created by the economic landscape of the Affordable Care Act.  One of the major features of this landscape is that physicians are being transitioned into becoming hospital employed.  This is also an absolute necessity, designed by the ACA, as the regulatory burden on physician practice is now so great that it cannot be met without the backing of a major institution.  So I worked my last shift as an independent practitioner who owned my practice and then I left for Dresden, Germany to participate in the International Congress on Muscular Training sponsored by Kieser Training.

I arrived in Dresden on September 24th.  Immediately, I ran into James Steele, James Fisher and Jurgen GieBing.  We all went out that afternoon and walked the city, taking in the amazing architecture.  We had dinner and totally geeked-out on HIT and exercise science.  The following day was the start of the conference.  It was held in the Deutsches Hygienemuseum Dresden-a national museum devoted to medicine and health.  The museum contained a section on exercise that featured a display of Zander machines sitting alongside some of the most recent machines from the Kieser line.  The venue itself was the most impressive I have ever seen amongst all the conferences (medical or exercise) I have attended.  The lecture hall was massive and the audiovisual support was amazing.  The attendance was massive.  I do not know the exact numbers, but I would put it between 500 and 1000 attendees.  About half of the lectures were given in German and the other half in English.  For those in the audience who did not speak both languages, ear phones were provided with live translation being carried out by very capable translators (it was like being at the United Nations!).

Werner Kieser gave the opening address, which was inspiring and well-received.  This man definitely continues to carry the torch for Arthur Jones and does it without compromise or apology.  I was one of the earlier lecturers, and it was nice to have the pressure off early.  I spoke in very general terms about how I came to appreciate that HIT seems to ignite an “active genotype” once a certain level of muscular/metabolic condition is achieved and how I came to realize this by my spectacular failure in convincing UE clients to “take it easy” between exercise sessions.  I was the only speaker who was not a university-based research scientist, so the rest of the conference involved presentations of research related to high intensity strength training.  In subsequent posts, I will go through the basics of each and every lecture.  I came away from this conference realizing that this kind of training is even better than I had realized.  In fact, I think it may be the most powerful public health initiative available at our disposal.

The morning of the second day, myself, the James x 2 and Jurgen all snuck over to the local Kieser gym and got a workout in.  The facility was beautiful and fully equipped, including new machines that borrowed from old Nautilus designs, but incorporated MedX technology.  These pieces included the multi-exercise, the neck and shoulder (shrug), forearm (flexion/extension/pronation-supination/grip), rotator cuff, ankle pronation/supination,  and ankle dorsiflexion.  There was also a new addition of a pelvic floor machine. I wish Kieser would come to America, but alas he states the legal environment and corporate taxation in the “Land of the Free” is just too unfriendly.

There is literally too much to talk about in one post, so I will break my experience out into a series of posts discussing the different elements of this amazing conference (as well as my experiences in Dresden and then Paris).

Yesterday, I did my first WOW since returning.  Due to scheduling, I had to go to Fike where I did shoulders/arms/legs.  It was a great workout, mostly due to the lack of ER stress for 2 weeks.  Today I am pleasantly sore but not with any sense of ROBAT.  I did the following: (barbell overhead press, bent DB flies, EZ biceps curl, Triceps pushdowns, DB shrugs, DB grip exercise done MAE style, DB hammer Curl, BB squats).

Now it is time for me to head off to my first shift as a Health System-employed emergency physician!  Also, check out Instagram (ultimate_exercise_) as I will be uploading images over the next few days.  I will make incremental posts on my days off, so stay tuned.  In the meantime…

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

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.

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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

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