W.O.W. 6/8/14- IL-6, UCP and Brown Fat

I did the following WOW at UE after working a busy day shift in the ER.  It was a great workout.

MedX Overhead Press, Rear Deltoid Fly (jrep halves), EZ Bar Biceps Curl, Nautilus Triceps Extension, EZ Bar Reverse Curl, Formulator Flexion, Calf Press on MedX Leg Press.


The image above has been hanging in UE for months now.  One of my clients owns an integrative medicine practice that includes thermal imaging (used as an adjunct or replacement for mammography).  These images are of one of our female clients.  The images on the left are done the day before a workout, and the images on the right are done the day after a workout.  The colors from hottest to coldest are: red, orange, yellow, green then blue.  The hot areas represent increased thermogenesis through brown fat upregulation.  Recently there has been a lot of attention focused on cold thermogenesis as a means of increasing brown fat activity.  Tim Ferriss included it in the Four Hour Body, Jack Kruse, MD includes it as a major component of his interventions and most recently Dr. Ellington Darden has used it as part of the protocol in his new book Body Fat Breakthrough. Although I have not read Dr. Darden’s book yet, I believe he has taken this concept to the next level by exploiting the relationship between high intensity exercise and cold thermogenesis.  Check out the link to the article below.  If you can manage to slog through the technicalities what you will find is that the activation of uncoupling protein (the molecule that uncouples oxidative phosphorylation so that heat is expended in lew or energy production and storage) is improved by the presence of Interleukin-6 (IL-6).  If you will recall, IL-6 is a myokine released by skeletal muscle during intense exercise.  This study used IL-6 knockout mice (animals that are genetically modified to be unable to generate IL-6) to further delineate the action of this myokine as it relates to brown fat thermogenesis.  What the study found was that IL-6 not only amplifies the effects of cold thermogenesis, but that cold thermogenesis is heavily dependent on the presence of IL-6.  With this understanding in mind, the thermal imaging photos taken above take on a whole new meaning.  This subject did not partake of any cold therapy, only her workouts at UE. I can only imagine the synergistic effects if the two were combined.  Perhaps we can repeat this with the inclusion of cold thermogenesis and report back.


Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.

127 thoughts on “W.O.W. 6/8/14- IL-6, UCP and Brown Fat”

  1. WOW
    Pullups to failure (9)
    Walk around for a minute
    Pullups to failure (2)ai
    Seated overhead press to failure (7) reps
    Seated Row to failure
    followed by TSC
    Seated Chest Press(10 reps)
    Wait a minute
    Seated Chest Press to failure(4 reps)
    Seated Chest Fly (4 reps) to failure
    Hindu Pushups to failure (16)

    Attempted Pull down max pyramid.

  2. (Mostly) Bodyweight WoW, 16+ hours fasted:

    Trap Bar Deadlifts (not SS, 1 rep short of failure, then drop set)

    All 4/4, pausing at top of movement, squeeze technique on 3rd rep onward:
    Elevated Hip Raises
    Bodyweight Squats (10/3/10)
    Chins (contracting biceps at top)
    Pushups with handles
    Hammer Plate-loaded low rows
    Pike pushups
    Heel raise
    TSC crunch
    TSC Neck Flexion/extension

  3. X-Force WO

    Leg curl
    Bi curl
    …and as a bonus, a Natilus Low Back machine

    Feels great but Im wondering if I should do more volume then this with X-Force…you feel more then anything else…


  4. @John Tatore

    Yes John. trying to manage the positioning of back pad but in my last workout each rep dragged my hips forward as there is no seat belt, this caused tension my lower back.

    Do you have any solution to this John? if there is none I will have to reject this machine permanently.


  5. The recent interview that Kiefer did with Bret Contreras (their second insecure) had since interesting material, including a nod to the size principal of recruitment, talk of occlusion training, and contreras’ findings (through emg) that some people can get get maximum motor unit recruitment with only 80-85% 1rm.

    An interesting listen if you’re into podcasts. Kiefer’s is called bodyiofm.

    I did some sprints today. Rested fully between efforts and just practiced the skill of accelerating and moving at a high speed. Worked below max effort always, keeping my governor always on to prevent a rectus femoris/psoas tear. Fastest and last of six 100m sprints was just over 13.25″

    Again, skill training, not “working out.” any conditioning/body composition improvements will simply be bonus.

  6. Bryce,
    I like the ideas of Kiefer and experimented the last months with (my version,since I don’t have the book)carb night. Did you also listen to the science review podcasts and the opinion of him and his podcast friends?


  7. Pete

    Look under the seat. Maybe there is a way to add a seat belt. You could get a single loop seat belt if you had to and see if that would work. Yes TSC is another option .. Maybe even with TSC hip addiction done before it while in the seat of the LC .. Swueezing a yoga block or some type of pad.

  8. Ad, I did listen to one of the research reviews, and it was interesting. I’ll keep listening.

    The thing that rekindled my long-running desire to incorporate sprinting was Contreras’ comment that if he and Keifer raced, they’d both be sure to tear something. I think most of us would probably admit that a serious 100% effort sprint would put us in the Orthopedists office. It’s my contention that if one gradually eases in to sprinting and makes it a regular part of their week (or even day), then your body would adapt and you’d be at less of a risk from an injury if you ever actually had to run flat out in an emergency. Of all the ‘functional’ things people due, running as fast as you can may be one of the few that actually is.

  9. If you are in reasonable shape, you’ll probably be able to sprint without any problems if the need arises. Yes you could tear something, but that chance goes way up if you’re overweight and generally sedentary/out of shape.

    You have a much greater chance of tearing something if you make sprints a regular activity, even if you’re in shape. Mass exposure is almost a guarantee to lead to injury eventually, especially when the movement is all out and uncontrolled, like a typical sprint.

    I don’t see any “functional” reason to practice sprinting for the average Joe.

  10. It’s always about risk vs profit. I teared twice my hamstrings during sprinting(all out on track and field parcours).When it comes to sprinting I was always at the very front during school sports or soccer training. And still I can go faster then most(they are out of shape anyway) these days.In my youth it gave me a magic feeling ,you know it was that if someone ran in front of me I could accelerate so much more using that person as a target to get.It’s somewhat related to the feeling of making that last almost impossible rep.Magic feeling.
    The injuries occures some 10 years later trying to something I was good at but being older and not technical trained for that.
    Thinking about it…..I’m almost twice the age of that when the injuries happened…..but that magic feeling stays.

  11. Thomas,
    “If you are in reasonable shape, you’ll probably be able to sprint without any problems if the need arises.”

    Speaking from my limited experience of self and others, I’m not sure I agree. For me personally, both times I have hurt myself sprinting were in cases where I hadn’t done it in at least a year. The fact that I was in otherwise great shape didn’t matter: my hip flexors and hamstrings simply weren’t adapted to the forces produced, nor to the range of motion, in simultaneous contrallateral hip flexion/extension. Conversely, when I have maintained it as a regular and appropriately dosed stimuli, I’ve never hurt myself doing it.

    We adapt to what we do all the time, and though not all adaptation is conducive to health, I find that activities we never do are the most likely to injure us when they arrive. I think the person who never learns the skill of “setting” the back in a deadlift is far more likely to throw their back out picking something heavy off the floor. When I am regularly deadlifting, I tend to push it in the gym, and this is of course foolish. But during those same periods, I find that my biomechanics OUTside the gym are far better. I set my back and load my hamstrings appropriately before picking up even moderate loads (dog food, kids) rather than ’rounding’ these loads up with my spinal erectors. I’m not advocating for the deadlift here, but I think there is something to be said for building a physiological ‘callous,’ so to speak, by exposing our body conservatively to the types of loads we wish to be able to handle during. It’s easy to go off the deep end with such ‘functional’ thinking and to start doing olympic lifting and ring muscle ups in order to tap into some magical functionality. I’m not endorsing that at all. Instead, I’m picking a very particular activity which I want to be good at, and which I think is valuable, and I’m practicing it so that if I ever have to do it, I can without injuring myself.

    I will emphasize that I’m not doing “sprint workouts” with the goal of markedly improving my speed or conditioning. Instead, I’m trying to gently adapt my hips to the loads/ROMS experienced by sprinting, such that these loads/ROMS no longer present a risk, from an acute perspective. I have no intention of going all out in any of these efforts. But I do think that accumulating a little time in the 90-95% percent top speed range would confer a robustness to injury in the event that I ever had to take the governor off and go 100%.

    It may be that I am generally a fragile person who injures easily, and that anything I don’t do regularly presents a risk. I’ll keep you posted as to how this goes.

  12. Bryce,

    Good point.

    Also, you make a case for partial transfer of skill (setting the back) from one activity to another similar, but not exact, activity. This is something that many HIT advocates tend to argue against.

    Could it be that an exercise like the power clean has merit (in skill transfer) for improving activities such as offensive/defensive line play in football?

  13. “It’s easy to go off the deep end with such ‘functional’ thinking and to start doing olympic lifting and ring muscle ups in order to tap into some magical functionality. I’m not endorsing that at all. Instead, I’m picking a very particular activity which I want to be good at, and which I think is valuable, and I’m practicing it so that if I ever have to do it, I can without injuring myself.”

    This is a long form version of my criticism of HIT: all that matters is strength training…everything else is superfluous.

    If you can’t get into a position and you’re forced into in real life, you’ll be injured no matter how strong you are. This is where mobility training comes in handy.

    In the real world, misalignment is not a probability but a certainty. A little “practice” goes a long way to keep oneself from being injured.

    I have a blog post in the works about this.

  14. HRV: Green Means Go!

    -Static Neck
    -Leg Curl
    -Chest Press
    -Reverse Curl
    -Leg press

    TOW: 12’24”

    As a result of using HRV to time my workout, I just added 20 pounds of muscle…nah, but it was a great workout. I talk with my clients about the subjective and the objective measures of the workout. Many times, the TULs are solid but a client gets panicky near failure (or “subjectively hard” as I say). Sometimes the opposite, they feel like they had a GREAT workout, but the TULs were middling.

    Today, the subjective and the objective were fairly congruent except for new exercises where the work capacity hasn’t yet been developed and even then there was no crazy panic, us the usual end of set balance of effort and control.

    I look forward to seeing how this HRV pans out over the long term.

  15. Thomas,

    Thanks. I think HIT advocates may be right to an extent. Swinging a baseball bat may not improve your golf swing. However, subconsciously cuing oneself to initiate ANY swing with the hips would probably benefit your golf swing if you only golfed annually. And that cuing might be developed through a basebally swing. I’m just opining here, but do you agree?

    In the same way, deadlifting a barbell and a wooden beam are very different, and if one sought to master either skill, specialization would probably be preferable. However, if you rarely lift beams, deadlifting can reinforce safe practices, and can make certain patterns automatic and subconscious (take the slack out of your hamstrings, hips and shoulders rise together to the knee, etc). Making such cues second nature could spare you an injury when you’ve got to hoist that beam of your buddy.

    Yes, I think it is possible that power cleans have transfer in some ways to other athletic endeavors. Not sure I can explain how exactly. I’ve heard some suggest the receiving of the weight at the top trains you to absorb force, sort of like a ‘depth jump’ for the upper body. If this is true, that element could probably be trained in other, safer, though less fun, ways.

    Skyler, I’ll look forward to that post.

  16. Bryce,

    I think there is likely some skill carryover between similar activities, but I’d be surprised if it were significant. Certainly not significant enough for the average Joe to spend hours of their time doing “functional” exercise (loaded, skill intensive movement to fatigue) so that they can more effectively sit at their desk and keyboard.

  17. Bryce, Thomas, Skyler,

    I am really enjoying this line of discussion. When I started racing BMX again, I took the old HIT approach. What I found was that my HIT intent translated into my sport performance. Any meaningful exertion began to trigger deep fatigue. A hot lap gave the same result as leg press…I was totally gassed. My neuromotor system was like a horse running back to the barn.

    I actually had to spend some time on skill conditioning AND conditioning that had the intent of performance and not fatigue. I literally had to learn to focus on economy of effort rather than hardest effort leading to fatigue.

    In this vein, I find that focusing some of your conditioning on using your strength adaptations for performance ends (like sprinting) is very worthwhile and likely to prevent injury in “real world” scenarios.

    I may bring on the wrath of some, but I believe this is why some of us in the HIT/SS/RE world seem so fragile.

  18. Bryce, Thomas, Skyler,Doug

    As I get older I am becoming more aware of the limitations of doing just strength exercise once weekly, introducing other activities definitely widens the scope of moving injury free and enjoying varied play activities. A recent article about Rugby Union players who balance strength exercise, recovery, good nutrition, yoga and sprinting exercises certainly opens ones mind to the benefits.

    I would love to combine HIT with parkour, I have enjoyed in the past the varying degrees of physical capabilities combining HIT with moderate levels of Kung Fu & Qi Gong fighting applications.

    Great discussion guys. Look forward to your blog article Skyler


  19. WOW 2 Legs
    In keeping with mid week leg workout, and alternating squats with deadlifts

    165 x 20
    185 x 10
    Immediately followed by Hindu Squats 100
    Incline Leg Press to failure
    Seated Leg Extensions 120 lbs BBS style Failed in 4 reps
    Pullups (5)


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