Body by Science by Doug McGuff and John Little

Body by Science

Summary
  1. Genius often lies in simplicity. That is what we find in Body by Science by McGuff and Little. This is a powerful and easy to read book on how to get healthy and fit through very focused and specific exercises that take 10-12 minutes to perform and only have to be done about once per week
Key Takeaways
  1. Perform 5 exercises to failure within 60 – 90 seconds (what the authors call time under load or TUL) and hold for an additional 10 seconds and perform these exercises once per week. This should be sufficient time for your body to recover and bump up weights and/or TUL every session
  2. Research has found that the effects of free weights versus machines is equally effective (Nautilus and MedX offer the best machines)
  3. The Big Five Workout – Machines (click link for video tutorial)
    1. Seated Row – make sure to keep your wrists and elbows in line and pull to your lower sternum
    2. Chest Press – do not let elbows get too low – just about as far as they could go if you were doing the press on the ground
    3. Pulldown – arms in front of you, using an underhand grip, with hands a little narrower than shoulder-width and bring down to the top of your chest and hold for 3-5 seconds and “slump” into the contraction (bring shoulders down towards hips in a linear fashion). As handles are heading back overhead, imagine moving hands outward in a horizontal plain – loads lats more effectively
    4. Overhead Press – move arms overhead with hands in front of you rather than at your side and with palms facing each other. Be cautious of arching the back and putting it in a vulnerable position
    5. Leg Press – the farther the angle is from linear, the less resistance you are moving. Should start in a position so that your thighs are perpendicular to the ceiling with knees bent as close to 90 degrees as possible. When pushing out, do not completely lock your legs and do not grip handles too hard as this can drive up blood pressure necessarily high
  4. The Big Five Workout – Free Weights
    1. Bent over barbell row – shoulder width grip, overhand grip (palms facing you) and pull so that it touches your upper abdomen and pause briefly in this position
    2. Standing overhead press – shoulder width grip, palms facing away, do not fully lockout arms at the top and lower to your shoulders
    3. Dead Lift – bend legs imagining that you are sitting in a chair, arms perfectly straight with shoulder width grip, with palms facing you or and over/under grip
    4. Bench Press – do not lock out arms at the top
    5. Squat – set the safety pins of the rack so it matches with a 90 degree bend of your knees – this is your bottom position, slowly raise up and repeat for your TUL
  5. Low-intensity, steady-state (“cardio”) activity does not tap the fast-twitch muscle fibers that  possess the most glycogen. Consequently, the muscles are never emptied of meaningful levels of glucose, with the result that the circulating glucose has nowhere to be stored – except as body fat
  6. Strength training is actually the best way to train the cardiovascular system because…it actually involves and stimulates all of the components of metabolism
  7. The center of metabolic health…is not the heart and cardiovascular system; it is the muscular system…because that is where everything that results in positive adaptive change occurs
  8. Maintenance is regression!
  9. The problem is not burning too few calories; it’s putting too many calories down the throat. You cannot use physical activity to negate excessive caloric intake
  10. A natural diet and non-processed helps with thermic cost of digestion (eating lean means, fruits and veggies forces the body to consume more calories to digest this food) and keeps insulin levels lower
What I got out of it
  1. Often the best ideas are shockingly simple and straightforward and this workout protocol falls into this category. These workouts are feasible in nearly any gym and result in the desired gains in strength, health and fitness. This is a workout regiment that will work long-term for nearly anybody regardless of age, goals  or other circumstances. I’d highly recommend to at least try this out for at least a month (only 4 workout sessions) and see for yourself. Most importantly, this workout allows you to consistently build strength without compromising your body and reducing wear and tear and other stressors as much as possible.
  2. *Update – I have been following this program for the past 6 months and have seen a great increase and strength while only spending 15-20 minutes weight lifting a week. No injuries, have been able to build pretty much every week and expect to continue this program for a while.

Read Body by Science

  • Goal in writing this book was to find an exercise regiment that would work for the majority of the population – one that would have the maximum impact with the minimum wear and tear on our bodies
  • Competition is accelerated evolution
  • Beware of events and people (great athletes) which skew results as well as conclusions drawn without properly reading and understanding how the study was conducted
  • Health – a physiological state in which there is an absence of disease or pathology that maintains the necessary biologic balance between the catabolic (breakdown of organism) and anabolic (growth of organism) states
  • Fitness – the bodily state of being physiologically capable of handling challenges that exist above a resting threshold of activity
  • Exercise – a specific activity that stimulates a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance fitness and health and does not undermine the latter in the process of enhancing the former. This means that exercise and health do not necessarily move in lockstep and the ultimate goal is to figure out how much exercise we can endure to how little we precisely require to cultivate the positive fitness properties from exercise and enhancing our chances for improved health and longevity
  • Short bouts of super intense exercise has the most positive health effects and should be strived for in any exercise regiment. Aggressive recruitment and momentary weakening of muscle fibers in a defined time frame and get the most mechanical and metabolic effect for producing an adaptation
  • It is during “recovery” from high-intensity exercise that you’re actually getting an increased stimulation of the aerobic system equal to or greater than what you would get from conventional steady state “aerobic” exercise
  • 4 types of muscle fiber – slow, fast/fatigue resistant, fast/intermediate fatigability, fast, fatigable
  • An individual’s fiber type and distribution are genetically predetermined
  • The more slowly a muscle fiber fatigues, the more quickly it recovers
  • If you fatigue through the quick recovering muscle fibers so that the slow and intermediate twitch motor units do not hav etime to recover, then (and only then) you proceed to recruit the fast-twitch motor units, thereby ensuring a sequential recruitment and fatiguing of all of the available motor units. This results in the most thorough involvement (and thus stimulation) of the muscle or muscle groups that you are training…That is why it is desirable to employ a moderately heavy weight that allows you to progress through all three motor unit types quickly enough to recruit them all, but not so quickly that only the fast-twitch fibers receive the bulk of the stimulation, and not so slowly that the slow and/or intermediate twitch motor units can recover and you end up cycling through the same lower order motor units again
  • Studies have found that performing multiple sets brought absolutely no additional increase in results compared with single-set training
  • The bottom line is that a single set taken to a point of positive failure is a sufficient stimulus to trigger the growth and strength mechanism of the body into motion. Additional sets produce nothing more than time spent in the gym
  • For exercise to be optimal, as many muscle fibers as possible must be called into play and fatigued…and the fatigue rate should fall anywhere between 40 to ninety seconds for a particular exercise as the desired time frame for reaching a maximum level of fatigue
  • Allow yourself sufficient time to recover – starting with 4-7 days but if you cannot build on your last weights, give yourself more time off. If you start digging again before the hole is refilled, you don’t make the mound bigger; you instead dig a deeper and deeper hole
  • Working out this intensely just once a week might take some time to get used to but the idea is that this type of exercise can be sustained for long period of time. Students who train with this regiment never flatlined, they continued to improve for a much longer period than did the students using a twice per week method
  • The Big Five Workout – Machines
    1. Seated Row – make sure to keep your wrists and elbows in line and pull to your lower sternum
    2. Chest Press – do not let elbows get too low – just about as far as they could go if you were doing the press on the ground
    3. Pulldown – arms in front of you, using an underhand grip, with hands a little narrower than shoulder-width and bring down to the top of your chest and hold for 3-5 seconds and “slump” into the contraction (bring shoulders down towards hips in a linear fashion). As handles are heading back overhead, imagine moving hands outward in a horizontal plain – loads lats more effectively
    4. Overhead Press – move arms overhead with hands in front of you rather than at your side and with palms facing each other. Be cautious of arching the back and putting it in a vulnerable position
    5. Leg Press – the farther the angle is from linear, the less resistance you are moving. Should start in a position so that your thighs are perpendicular to the ceiling with knees bent as close to 90 degrees as possible. When pushing out, do not completely lock your legs and do not grip handles too hard as this can drive blood pressure unnecessarily high
  • The Big Five Workout – Free Weights
    1. Bent over barbell row – shoulder width grip, overhand grip (palms facing you) and pull so that it touches your upper abdomen and pause briefly in this position
    2. Standing overhead press – shoulder width grip, palms facing away, do not fully lockout arms at the top and lower to your shoulders
    3. Dead Lift – bend legs imagining that you are sitting in a chair, arms perfectly straight with shoulder width grip, with palms facing you or and over/under grip
    4. Bench Press – do not lock out arms at the top
    5. Squat – set the safety pins of the rack so it matches with a 90 degree bend of your knees – this is your bottom position, slowly raise up and repeat for your TUL
  • Slower is better for these workouts – move weight as slowly as possible without the movement degenerating into a series of starts and stops (aim for about a 10 second cadence up and a 10 second cadence down)
  • TUL is used instead of repetitions because it allows for the trainee to see smaller gradations in improvement that otherwise might be missed
  • Breathing should be continuous and natural and with an open mouth. As burning sensation increases, breathe faster
  • Weights you are working with should be between 75-80% of your max
  • Goal is not to finish a repetition but to greatly fatigue the muscles being worked
  • If weight is too light and your TUL is greater than 90 seconds, keep going until you hit positive failure and increase weight by 5-10% to get you back under 90 seconds TUL
  • Frequency – this workout should only be performed once every 7 days but TUL should be increasing every workout. If you are not progressing at this rate, you need to take even more time off between workouts since you are not allowing yourself enough time to recover
  • Rest time between exercises – between 30 seconds to a minute is appropriate but the less time the better
  • Record keeping – date of the workout, time of the workout, exercises performed, how much resistance was used, seat position (if applicable), TUL and elapsed time from when the first exercise commenced until failure was reached on the last exercise of the program
  • Potentially useful – keep a record of the difference between total accumulated TULs and total time of workout in order to keep rest intervals consistent (subtract total TUL from total time of workout)
  • Stay on this program for 4-12 weeks and if progress is slowing, break up the program into Big Three (pulldown, chest press, leg press) and two smaller isolation exercises (curls, abs, triceps, etc.)
  • This type of workout has many benefits – processing waste materials, oxygenating blood, controlling insulin levels, optimizing bone mineral density, increasing metabolic rate, reducing body fat, optimizing aerobic capacity, and allowing body to perform tasks with less wear and tear
  • Flexibility – want to achieve enhanced flexibility by an application of resistance at the safe extremes of a muscle’s range of motion (no need to sign up for yoga classes or stress too much about being flexible)
  • Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep is extremely helpful for enhancing your body’s recovery
  • Hydration – rule of thumb is to consume about 3 liters (3/4 of a gallon) per day. Adequate hydration helps the body burn fat, unburden the liver, helps with circulating blood, and sends a message to the body that there is no threat of famine
  • Vitamins – best way to get vitamins is through food as there are so many complex synergies and interactions that we don’t yet know about and aren’t available through isolated pills
  • One way to mix up workout – do the typical workout to failure and wait for 5 to 10 seconds and perform one last repetition
  • As you get stronger you may have to break up your workouts so that you body can fully recover between workouts
  • Reducing Big Five to Big Three (still 7 days rest between workouts)
    • Workout 1 – pulldown, chest press, leg press
    • Workout 2 – seated row, overhead press, standing calf raise
  • Split Routine (7-10 days rest between)
    • Workout 1 – chest press, lateral raise (minimal bend in elbows and slowly bring up to about 90 degrees), triceps pressdown (elbows pinned to your side, extend so arms are fully straight, pause and slowly return to starting position
    • Workout 2 – leg press, standing calf raise (one leg at a time), abdominal machine (if no machine, do crunches – heels as close to butt as possible when lying down, spread knees, hands across abs and slowly contract abs as much as possible, pause briefly and return to starting position)
    • Workout 3 – pulldown, seated row, shrug (pause briefly at full contraction) or lower back machine, biceps curl (palms away from you, knuckles on thigh, curl so hands almost touching shoulders, no need to pause)
  • Max Contraction (7-10 days rest between) – maximum weight taken into position of full contraction and held until it can no longer be sustained
    • Workout 1 – leg extension, leg curl, standing calf raise, abdominal crunch
    • Workout 2 – pullover, lower back machine, shrug, arm cross
    • Workout 3 – lateral raise, rear deltoid, biceps curl, triceps extension
  • Research has shown that the epigenetic (changes in an organism due to alteration of gene expression rather than alteration of genetic code) can be passed on for as long as four generations!
  • Intermittent fasting can help the body remove damaged cells and proteins and other cellular waste
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for fat loss due to their effects on hormone sensitivity
  • Want to aim for a ratio of about 1:1 for Omega-3’s to Omega-6’s but many people in western diets have ratios closer to 20:1 (where hormonal functions begin breaking down at 4:1!)
  • Get Omega-3’s from grass-fed meats and wild caught fish such as salmon and herring
  • Staying and sleeping in a cool environment forces your body to burn more calories to stay work
  • Sleep – 7 to 8 hours, fall asleep before midnight and keep room below 70 degrees Fahrenheit
  • For athletes:
    • Deliberate practice, more than raw hours, is what separates the good from the great. Make conditions as similar to competition as you can
    • Do not overtrain as this leads to weakening – a huge temptation in almost all athletes and should be something coaches and athletes are more aware of
    • When athletes are in season, physical training should be performed only very infrequently
    • The metabolic conditioning needs to be like any skill conditioning – extremely specific
    • The tabata workout (sprint for X seconds and rest for X seconds needs to differ for different sports – tennis may be 30 second sprints and BMX around 45, etc)
    • Football workouts:
      • Workout 1 – neck flexion/extension, lateral neck flexion, leg press, pulldown, chest press
      • Workout 2 – calf raise, dead lift, overhead press, wrist curl, reverse wrist curl
    • Hockey:
      • Workout 1 – hip and back machine, seated row, overhead press, adduction machine, rotary torso
      • Workout 2 – leg press, pulldown, chest press, wrist curl, reverse wrist curl
      • Workout 3 – lower back machine, seated row, overhead press, adduction machine, rotary torso
      • Workout 4 – neck flexion, lateral neck flexion, leg press, pulldown, chest press
    • Baseball:
      • Workout 1 – leg press, pulldown, chest press, lateral raise, rear deltoid
      • Workout 2 – calf raise, shrug, rotary torso, wrist curl, reverse wrist curl
    • Golf:
      • Workout 1 – leg press, seated row, chest press, wrist curl, reverse wrist curl
      • Workout 2 – calf raise, lower back machine, pulldown, overhead press, rotary torso
  • For seniors:
    • Seniors can perform the exact same Big Five or Big Three workout with more focus on any mobility issues and they have more to gain from these exercises than any other age group

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