My “180 Degrees From the Norm”, Efficient Exercise Training Session

As I’ve alluded to in posts over the past few days, I recently had the pleasure, while on a a quick jaunt out west to my old stomping grounds and a long overdue visit with friends, family (and especially!) Meesus TTP, of working out at one of the four Austin, Texas area Efficient Exercise locations .

Efficient Exercise president Mark Alexander was gracious enough to offer up the use of one of his studios for the morning, and EE trainer Skyler Tanner stepped-up to donate his most excellent “task master” services.  What a great team these guys make.  As Doug McGuff (Body by Science) commented on a recent post:

“..there is no-one better qualified to dish out a HIT beat-down than Skyler. Efficient Exercise is a beautiful facility…a perfect mix of Scandinavian minimalism and dungeon…”

I have to agree on both points.

But enough man-gushing, huh?  Let’s get down to it.

Below, and in bold, I’ve unabashedly plagiarized Skyler’s email to me detailing the HIT/SS paces he put me through on that morning.  I’ve made a few inconsequential edits for the sake of flow, context and clarity, but the bulk of this is Skyler’s own words.  I’d asked him to do this because, quite frankly, everything just kinda melded into a single, ball-bustin’ event subsequent to the RDL hyper-rep treatment that kicked-off the workout.  This is why it is, in my opinion, so very, very important to have a skilled and knowledgeable coach/trainer in your corner during this process.  One simply cannot — or at least I can’t — maintain a laser-like focus on the doing, while at the same time effectively controlling all the input variables (tracking time, counting tempo, fine-tuning resistance, etc.), and observing for proper form, alignment, execution, and rep speed — not to mention the tracking of current performance so as to construct follow-on workouts.  Pulling-off one of these training sessions really is a team effort.  And the expert controlling of these input variables — and all the while adding valuable coaching/prompting cues — are absolutely critical to maximizing one’s time — and, subsequently, the results obtained — in the gym.

My comments — the things I remembered after the fact, notes to self for the next outing, etc. — are italicized.

Video clips of this workout are posted at the Efficient Exercise Youtube pageBelow is a compilation of the session in its entirety…

…and here’s a clip capturing Skyler’s expertise in coaching me through the leg press portion of the workout.

This level of professional coaching and guidance is priceless, allowing the trainee (me, in this instance) to focus totally on the “doing”, and thereby leaving the manipulation of the many input variables, in Skyler’s control.

A couple of notes before we dissect this workout:
(1) my last previous workout to this was on the Thursday prior to this Saturday morning.
(2) I began this workout at approximately 19 hours fasted; post-workout re-feed occurred at approximately hour 22.  And damn, was it ever good! (and appreciated!).  Artz Rib House!
(3) I hit this workout after having worked all day, traveling 5+ hours, and getting only about 5  or so hours of sleep the night prior; not whinin’, just sayin’.  My point here is not to glorify cortisol-inducing stupidity or my refined Protestant work ethic, but to further highlight the efficacy of this type of workout (HIT/SS, specifically) within the grand spectrum of training modalities.  Had this option (a short, sweet, and to the point modality) not been available , I would not have worked out at all.  Something to keep in mind, especially those chronically pressed for time.  Hey, wait…doesn’t that describe all of us?

Anyway, here we go with the breakdown of my HIT adventure:

Keith,
Here’s what we did:
1. Romanian Deadlift (hyper repetitions on CZT-V): This was done for 5 repetitions. The first 2 reps were warm ups, with you pulling 50% and 75% of perceived max, respectively. The final 3 reps I instructed you to “break the machine” and pull like the dickens.

Holy ass-kickin’, Batman; hyper reps on the CZT are the bomb!  This, without a doubt, had to be the most intense few reps that I’ve pulled (and resisted!) in I don’t know how long.  In fact, intense doesn’t even begin to define it.  Plenty of “mental jedi” tricks going on here right off the bat.  For starters (and on a positive note), I “knew” that safety wasn’t an issue.  In other words, I could mute the internal “safety marm” that chides me to watch-out for a miss, dropped weights, technique malfunction, etc.  On the negative side, it was hard as all hell to override the the internal “overload police” — that voice that screams TOO MUCH LOAD, WE’RE THROTTLING DOWN TO SAVE YOUR DUMB ASS! which, of course, gets safety marm in a thither all over again.  Forget about effectively keeping track of tempo, rep count — hell, forget about anything other than pulling (on the concentric) and resisting the drop (on the eccentric).  Zen practitioners speak of “being in the moment”; hell, I defy anyone to *not* be in the moment while engaged in a hyper-rep on the CZT.  This is where having access to a good trainer/coach is invaluable.

Notes for the next time out:
(1) I think that a more thorough warm-up would’ve primed me better — both physically and mentally — for the rigors of this beast.

(2) My grip faltered on the 4th rep, and failed on the least.  You’re only as strong as your weak link, and in this case, that was my grip.  I think I had a bit more in the ol’ PC; straps might be an option next time out.  That, and working on building up my wuss grip between now and then.  Seriously, though — when the brain senses a failure in any one component (in this case, my grip) it sends out an all-inclusive, “shut ‘er down” signal.

(3) My default neurological impulse in this movement pattern is to “rip and explode”, so a prolonged “pull and resist” was totally outside my wheelhouse.  The thing is, if I improve here, I’l have built much more umph! to pack behind that “rip and explode”.  This is the “all connectedness” of differing training modalities.

Ok, so we’re 2-minutes in (if that), and I’m already zorched.

2. Nautilus Nitro Leg Press: 440lbs, with the goal to fatigue you before a 2:00 TUL. The goal cadence was ~10/10, though I wasn’t worried about being perfect. You controlled the turn arounds and crept out of the hole. At about 1:15 I added 45 more pounds because you looked like you could go forever. You fatigued around 1:45

I think that all the biking I do contributes greatly to my strength-endurance in quad dominant movements.  I’m in serious mental, pinpoint focus, now, on just completing the next rep, the next second, and  I’m totally under Skyler’s direction, now, trying best I can to react to his cues.  There’s very little anticipation at this point — I’m purely in reaction mode.  Again, I have to fight  the default neurological urge to “grip and rip”.  And there’s a kind of feed-back mechanism here that messes with the mind.  In a free-weight, explosive movement, the feedback is that escape velocity (for lack of a better term) has been achieved, and now it’s time to transition to the catch or receive phase of the movement.  Not so here.  This is a totally different physiological stimulus.  Right about now my body is screaming *WTF is this??*

3. 1 minute chinup: You performed a chinup with a 30 second positive and 30 second negative.

Funny thing here; these were performed on individual straps hanging from the rafters (think gymnastic rings), the height positioning of which required me to vert maybe 18″ (if that) to grab the handles.  As I stood beneath the handles, ready to jump — having just waddled from the leg press — my mind said “are you friggin’ crazy?  you’re not jumpin’ anywhere, bud!”.  It was one of the strangest feelings of neurological immobilization that I’ve ever had.  I had to have Skyler spot me as I attempted to the bridge the mighty 18″ gap.  Whoa.  Yeah, at this point I’m toast from the navel on down. Thank God my mighty vert — along with my pleading for a spot — was  edited out 🙂

The instability of the “rings” added another level of difficulty here.  Think chinups aren’t also a great core movement?  Try these on for size and let me know.

4. Nautilus Nitro Bicep (Super Rep): I over-estimated your strength, so you ended up performing what I call a “Super Rep.” This is where you perform a 1rm and attempt to hold the point of full contraction. The negative takes care of itself.

Damn right, after the chinup torture, my bi’s were like a pair of wet socks.  I think the instability of the rings forces greater bicep involvement in the chinup/pull-up movement.  Or maybe it’s just me?

5. Negative-only chinups: This was performed on the CZT-V. I used the first repetition’s strength number to assess when to end the set. When you inroaded your strength levels to 90% of the start, I cut the set. You made 4 reps.

I’m absolutely in love with this CZT machine; the same unit was used for the RDL pulls and resists.

6. 1 minute Dip: You actually performed 1 minute on the positive and 30 seconds on the negative.

I’m naturally strong in this, the triceps-dominant variation, of the movement.  Big tris, small chest; a natural “triceps pusher”.

7. Superslow triceps extension: I picked a heavy enough weight to fatigue you in under 2 minutes at roughly a 10/10 cadence. You fatigued at ~1:40

Yep, the ol’ tris were pretty hammered at this point.  “Welcome to the club o’ fatigue”, the biceps are sayin’.

8. Negative-only dips: This was performed on the CZT-V. I used the first repetition’s strength number to assess when to end the set. When you inroaded your strength levels to 90% of the start, I cut the set. You made 4 reps.

Have I said that I love this piece of equipment?  Yeah?  Well, it can’t be said enough.  One can totally lay it on the line with this machine, with no fear of “losing” the weight or otherwise making a weightroom, crash-and-burn “scene”.  And believe me, I’ve been *that* scene-maker.  Hey, if you’ve never failed, or been forced to bail-out in a totally ungraceful way, you’re just not pushing the envelope, right?  That failure defines a boundary that is now your new goal to conquer.  This is how we improve.  Anyway, the CZT not only lets the trainee push to the absolute end of his rope, but allows for a precise measurement of the “fail” point — all without weight-room calamity.  Not only that, but the desired level of inroading can be precisely dosed.  Nothing short of genius, I think.


So I love being pushed outside of my comfort zone, made to perform at tasks well outside of my wheelhouse, and this was definitely the ticket.  Would I recommend a HIT and/or Super-Slow protocol to others?  You bet.  For strength, power and speed athletes, this is a fantastic protocol to keep “in the rotation”.  For non and/or recreational athletes — or those “busy executive” types who want to stay in prime shape (and look good nekkid ) — I can’t see where you’d need any more than this.  I mean, damn — I’m not kidding when I say that this was a rugged 15 minutes!  I think that’s one of the other cool things about the Efficient Exercise system — scalability.  Someone with absolutely no training experience can come in off the street and be up and running in no time, while someone like me — with 30+ years of “skin” in the game — can be pushed to the point of buckling.  Am I sold on the system?  Damn right I am.

If you’re lucky enough to live in the Austin area, be sure to look up the Efficient Exercise team.  I can’t say enough positive things about this organization, their training philosophy, superb studios, and personal attention.  I wish that I had ready access to such a facility — if I did, I’d most definitely utilize it.  That’s a hell of a lot of fitness bang for such an inconsequential amount of time investment.

Oh, and one other thing: Austin area endurance athletes looking for strength training?  The Efficient Exercise protocol is your ticket.  I know Austin is full of endurance-minded folks (hey, Lance, you listening?) who realize the absolute necessity of strength work for longevity in the sport (not to mention injury prevention) — so how does 15 minutes devoted to strength training, every 5 to 8 days or so sound?  Hey, don’t take my word blindly, check it out for yourself — I guarantee you’ll see and feel the difference, and you’ll perform much better.

More on the advantages of HIT/SS for the endurance athlete later.

3/17/10; “Warm-up” or “Workout”?

Warm-up?  Workout?  It all depends upon the intensity…

Pushed it pretty damn hard today.  Not quite to the point (to quote Robb Wolff) of “seeing white buffalo in the sky” (heh, I love that), but certainly to the point of gasping like a fish flung on the riverbank, and attempting to function on a pair of convulsing legs.  Good stuff.  Not smart to do all the time, for sure — but in pin-pointed, acute doses, it’s just what the (Paleo) doctor ordered.

So the thought hit me this morning, “hmmm,” myself asked.  “I wonder how metabolically taxing an extended (170 yards worth) hip mobility warm-up would be if performed with a 30 lb weight vest?”

Pretty damn taxing, it turns out.  Gasping, white buffalo, the works.  Tack on some snatch-grip low pull jumps and weighted reverse-grip pull-ups and you’ve got the makings for a real suffer-fest.

Here’s what it looked like:

mixed hip mobility work: continual motion & rotation through exercises x 170 yards (duck walk, lateral lunge [each side], skip lunge [each side]) with 30 lb vest –

snatch grip low pull jumps*: 225 x 5, 5, 5, 5

reverse-grip pull-ups: 45 x 7; 80 x 5, 5, 5

*Bar to belly-button, toes off the ground each rep.  Steady & controlled to the knees, then “shot out of a cannon” explosive.

4 wicked rounds of this.  As little rest as possible between movements.  The weighted hip mobility work with added weight is a real ass-kicker.  I’ve definitely found something that I’ll keep in the “favorites” rotation.  In the lateral lunge, I minimized the off-leg push-off as much as possible — effectively turning this exercise nearly into a “lateral pistol”.

I finished-up with a few sets of eccentric pistol box squats.  What we’re looking for here is a very slow and controlled descent to the box, 2-count pause (maintain full contraction – not an “off-load” pause), followed by a “snappy” concentric; “snappy” being relative, following all the preceding work.  4 sets of 3 each leg, using only bodyweight, box height was such that at bottom-out I was about midway between “ass-to-grass” and parallel thigh.  Attempting to keep from collapsing down upon the box is much harder than it sounds.

For all you Mike Mentzer Heavy Duty (and, by extension, Body by Science)aficionados out there, check out this Super Human Radio show, The Mentzer Files.

And on this St. Patty’s day, remember all you Irish kiddos out there, it wasn’t known as the “potato famine” for nothin’.  Be well, live primal, and eat paleo.  The “luck of the Irish” will only take you so far.

Another Take on the Body By Science Methodology

“I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through.  Listen to this music.”

Hafiz

I’ve posted previously (here, here, here and here – all complete with plenty of fantastic TTP reader input and comments), my thoughts on Dr. Doug McGuff’s Body By Science methodology.  Today I’d like to offer another take on Dr. McGuff’s methodology, this by way of TTP reader Jerry Borrero (aka, the IronDisciple), who blogs on Paleo/Primal nutrition, Girevoy Sport, and all things Physical Culture-related.  Check out Jerry’s work over at ironmonastery.wordpress.com.  What follows here, in italics, are Jerry’s thoughts, with my spotty comments set apart via normal font.   Enjoy; and thanks, Jerry, for the thoughtful input.

The premise of the whole book is counter intuitive, at least to my mind.  I’ve always thought if I ever felt frustrated with my lack of progress it was because I needed to do MORE work, not less.  And from reading material from Ross Enamait and some personal experimentation, I’ve been of the opinion that we need LESS rest than the muscle mags prescribe, not more.  I personally do SOME form of vigorous exercise almost everyday of the week, with maybe one day completely off at any one time.  The knee jerk reaction after reading the well laid out argument made in the book is to toss my current workout regimen out the window because I’m apparently overtraining myself.

After the panic subsided here are some observations:

It seems that the authors are stating that all qualities of the muscle can be adequately addressed using their HIT protocol.  Max strength, Explosive Strength, etc.  Am I understanding that correctly?  The book seems to imply that there is no need for periodization although it never comes out and states this directly.

The authors refer to building all the different types of muscle fibers sequentially, but never goes into the different forms of hypertrophy (sarcoplasmic vs. myofibrillar).  Based on the fact that the stimulus is high intensity/short duration it would seem to favor myofibrillar, and maybe that’s why the subject is never broached, but whenever I think of a program aimed primarily at hypertrophy, I automatically think of sarcoplasmic.

The authors also advocate using primarily Nautilus machines for the full “Big Five” workout, but I’ve always understood that since machines only allow for one plane of motion that the stabilizer muscles don’t get developed.  Is this not accurate?  This is never really mentioned in the book.  Also, what is your take on the abbreviated and simplified program.  Is this really enough to target the body in its entirety?

I’ve taken a look at your workouts and noticed that you haven’t entirely subscribed to the prescribed BBS workout.  You’re still performing multiple workouts during the week, and utilizing a variety of different exercises.  I’m assuming the increased frequency is due to not going to absolute failure on your sets and from experimentation into what works for you and what doesn’t.

Just a quick interjection, here.  Although I agree with Dr. McGuff on the debilitating, cumulative effect of certain exercise protocols, I go about mitigating that damage a bit differently.  I do prefer to workout more frequently (3 to 5 bouts per week – usually) – each workout, though, is auto-regulated (a little more about auto-regulation here and here), so I rarely find myself in an overtrained hole to have to scamper out of.  From previous discussions with Dr. McGuff, though, I realize that his concerns lay not only with the frequency of exercise, but with the type of exercise selected.  Olympic lifts and their derivatives, plyometics, ballistic/explosive movements and the like are discouraged under the BBS methodology.  My take is that each trainee’s goals must be evaluated vis-a-vis his abilities and current condition, and a proper fitness program must be must then be individualized for that particular trainee.  For some trainees, a BBS-like protocol would work wonderfully – for others, though (myself included, I suspect), it’s just not an adequate, year-round stimulus.  I emphasis year-round here, because there may be periods within my training cycle where a BBS-like protocol would be just what the doctor ordered.  Constant re-evaluation of one’s circumstance is key, here.  If BBS is a viable option (and for many, it will be), then by all means utilize it.  My workouts are constantly morphing, and are the direct result of 30+ years of on-going, n=1 experimentation in relation to my goals, and in consideration of my current strengths weaknesses.  This, in my mind, is as it should be.  A “workout protocol”, like the organism that protocol is directed toward, should be a thing of continual re-invention (i.e., intelligent n=1).  BBS methodologies, then,ought to be seen as another useful tool to be used toward that end.

While the idea of a scientific approach to exercise that allows all my exercise to be done in a quick 10 minute burst once a week intrigues me, part of me wants to plug my ears and scream until the idea passes.  I’ve grown to enjoy snatches, clean and jerks, sprints, planche progressions, etc. and I’d be sad to realize these are all obsolete/unnecessary. That all being said, once my upcoming Girevoy Sport competition is finished (my first!) I plan to “empty my cup” and toss out all my concerns and give the BBS approach a try.  I’ll stay on the program for as long as I benefit from it with tweaks along the way if necessary.

Thanks for taking the time to commit these thoughts to the written word, Jerry.  There’s another aspect of this debate, though, that rarely gets much air time –  what I’m alluding to here is the mental aspect (benefits, boost, what have you) of frequent, strenuous exercise.  And for more on that…

The Exercise – Anxiety Correlation

photo credit: Hljod.Huskona

This study (PubMed link, here) begins to quantify what I’ve felt intuitively for years: there’s something about proper exercise (including proper intensity and duration) that makes one impervious to stress – whether that stress is mental or physical.  And this is another reason I prefer more frequent bouts of exercise – still high in intensity, and short in duration – but more frequent than what is called for under a BBS-like methodology.

If I go more than a couple days with no strenuous physical activity, I begin to get antsy (and a bit hard to be around, or so I’m told).  I wonder if this is the brain’s way of saying, “hey, bud – get off your ass and do your part to keep our defenses tuned-up”.  It’s an interesting concept, and one that I hope will be explored in the near future, in further depth.

In health,

Keith

The Genetic Profile Meets Greg Glassman’s 10 Attributes of Fitness

“There are people who believe everything is sane and sensible that is done with a solemn face.”

Georg Lichtenberg

I can think of no better lead-in for this post than this abstract, from Human Heredity.  Its being an oldie-but-goody in no way diminishes the power in its message.  In layman’s terms, what went on here was that 5 sets of identical(monozygotic) twins were put on an identical, 10-week, isokinetic (i.e., force delivered over a consistent velocity) training protocol.  The end results?  Well, between sets of twins there was a wide range of response — however, the response within each twin pair was…you guessed it…identical.  And here’s another study which shows basically the same thing.  Now, we can obviously go way off the deep end in discussing this, with lots of resultant handwringing about “shitty genetic draws”.  Where the rubber meets the road, though, is this: one’s response to any particular training regimen is largely, though not entirely, genetically driven.  The magic, of course, is in finding that particular protocol that plays to your particular genetic hand.  The other part of the magic is more spiritual in nature, and is centered in embracing your particular genetic gifts.  Now, there’s a balance here as well, of course.  As Greg Glassman (the founder of CrossFit ) points out — and quite correctly, in my opinion — an athlete is made better by becoming more competent at those things they are not naturally inclined to excel at than they are by honing their natural gifts.  The one caveat I’d interject here, though, is that this is true in an already well conditioned athlete, who is, by the time he is well conditioned, well aware of his/her natural attributes and shortcomings.  But what if you’re still unaware of your genetic leanings?  What then?

Everyone's Favorite Twins

Everyone's Favorite Twins

First, let’s have a look at the roll genetics plays in determining one’s strengths and weaknesses within this list (credit Greg Glassman, again) of overall fitness indicators:

  • cardio-respiratory endurance
  • flexibility
  • speed
  • power
  • agility
  • balance
  • strength
  • accuracy
  • stamina (i.e., repeatability or “prime” endurance)
  • coordination

I really, really like this list, as I think Greg’s got all the physical attribute bases nicely covered.  And two things immediately jump out.  Number one, an athlete who is accomplished across the board here would be considered a pretty damn good all-around athlete (think decathlete) in anyone’s book, and (2) very very few individuals would even come close to being accomplished at all of these endeavors simultaneously.  At best, we could hope to be “really good” at one or two, do ok at a couple, and just hope to “not totally suck” at what’s left.

I’ll give a quick two examples of (1) assessing strengths and weaknesses using Greg’s list as a template, and (2) targeting workouts according to those defined strengths and weaknesses (and I’ll add to this goals, as well) using a pair of athletes I’m intimately familiar with — myself and my son.

It’s all about me

My strong suit has always been, from as far back as I can remember, “prime” endurance, followed closely by speed and power.  My strength, agility, balance and flexibility have always been pretty good — probably better than average.  Coordination, and accuracy?  Uhh, not so much (ever seen me dance?  It’s not pretty).   Cardio endurance?  Uhhh, yeah; pretty much off the scale low.

Which brings up a good point.  Before we move on, it might behoove us to define the difference between “prime” endurance (or Greg’s stamina, if I understand his definition correctly) and cardio endurance.  I think everyone has a good feel for what cardio endurance looks like; the rail-thin miler, the marathoner, the riders in the Tour de France — all examples of the cardio-fit club.  So what about “prime” endurance?  Well, let’s use an example that’s near and dear to my heart, the 40-yard sprint.  And let’s go a step further and say that we’ve identified, say, the top 10% or so from a group of randomly selected athletes; not so difficult to identify the athletes with good speed at this distance, right?  just put a stopwatch to them.  But once we begin vetting and ranking this upper echelon, things get interesting in a hurry.

The breakdown of the “speed” athletes usually (and I do say usually — there’s always the freak/outlier lurking about) looks a little something like this:

  1. the ultra-fast in a single sprint; jaw-dropping, freaks-of-nature kind of speed.  Long recovery required between sprints, though, and a large drop-off (relatively speaking) between the fastest time and “prime”, or repeat times.  These athletes also tend to be one sneeze away from flying apart at the seams; the Ferraris of the athletic world.
  2. those with good (remember, this is relative — good within a sub-group of top performers) , but not the fastest top-end speed.  This sub-group’s strength lay though, in their ability to repeat at or very near (very little drop off) this speed time and time again.  This, by definition, then, is stamina, or (a term I prefer) “prime endurance”.  This happens to be the group in which I fall (or fell, back in my competitive days).  Actually, my genetics haven’t changed, and I’d consider this ability my strong suit still.  This carries over to the weight room as well, and defines how I structure my workouts, both on a macro and micro-cycle level.
  3. those with decent top-end speed, but lacking adequate prime endurance.  The athletes from group #2 who,  after the nth sprint with little between-sprint recovery, unceremoniously hack-up a lung.

Now, you can see that stamina is an objective measurement; it’s also highly event-specific.  So a starting baseball pitcher’s definition of stamina is different from a closer’s definition is different from the stamina required of an American football defensive back.  And some sports require very little (again, relatively) in the way of stamina at all (think power lifting, or Oly lifting).

Doug McGuff touches on this notion a bit in Body by Science.  If you have a copy, check out pg. 171 and the section on Myosin light chain Kinase.  For those who don’t have a copy (you’re missing out; get one!), Doug relays a story of Arthur Jones (of Nautilus fame) testing a man who exhibited phenominal strength — for one or two reps — followed by a preciptous drop-off from that peak strength.  That is to say, although the guy possessed great strength, he exhibited very little in the way of stamina.  Arthur Jones figured the guy was just dogging it, and sent him away.  In retrospect, Jones realized that he had unwittingly dismissed potentially the strongest power lifter he’d ever seen.  The lesson here being not to confuse and/or dismiss particular atletic attributes out of hand; for every attribute there is a correct and appropriate athletic application.

Moving on.  So now we have a kid (me) genetically-inclined toward endeavors requiring speed, power and a good bit of short burst stamina, and we place that kid in the epicenter of (American) football-leaning culture.  What we have here is the athletic equivalent of an alignment of the moon and stars, the perfect mix of genetics and expressive outlet on our hands; ability feeding off of an outlet in a nice, symbiotic relationship.  Other good outlets for my particular genetic profile might have been rugby, wrestling, possibly a combat sport; maybe with proper training, a track & field throwing event (esp., discus, hammer, javelin), though these are relatively low on the stamina requirement.  But what if you’d have placed this kid in a culture where distance swimming ruled?  Long distance skiing, running or biking?

A chip off the old block?

Let’s look at another athlete, and a totally different set of inherent abilities; a kid who is truly his mother’s child.  In fact, the on-going family joke is, if he didn’t resemble me so much in the face we’d all have to wonder 😉  Tall, solid and lanky (in the south, we label this particular build “raw-boned”), with hand-eye coordination (and general, body coordination), accuracy, balance, and agility that are off the charts high.  The kind of kid that you only have to demonstrate a skill to once and he’s got it down pat; after a few attempts, he’ll school you on the finer points you might not have noticed in your 30-odd years of practicing the skill.  He’s a freak that way, an outlier.  Better than average ability the short sprints.  Now, drop this kid into a culture where baseball is religion, and you’ve got that genetic/expressive outlet, moon-and-stars thing all over again.  Is there a glaring kink in the kid’s armor?  There sure is (cue Alanis Morissette’s Isn’t it Ironic) — Strength…and stamina.

First, do no harm

So, in order to more effectively build a better (already conditioned) athlete, we need to remove the kinks in that athlete’s armor while at the same time not letting the inherint attributes slide.   This, in fact, is much easier said than done.  Most have probably already experienced this phenomenon.  Improved stamina leads to reduced strength; increased strength leads to a decrease in accuracy, and so it goes.  This is where the art of training comes into play, along with the realization that each athlete is as unique as, not only his individual genetic makeup, but as his phenotype at this particular moment in time. Constant assessment, both in the 10 physical attributes (or at least those that are relavent to the athlete’s particular situation), and in the athlete’s required skills base, are a must.  For what good is it to have improved a short stop’s 60 meter sprint time only to have boogered his bat speed so as to hose his batting average in the process?

More on assessment and targeted training in an upcoming post.

And by the way, what if neither Ottow nor Ewald trained properly for their genetic makeup?  I would love to have had a 3rd, here, with the exact same genetic makeup (is that even remotely possible, naturally?), who was trained according to his identified strengths, using the 10 attributes identified above.  What would that phenotype have resembled, as compared to the other two?

In health,

Keith

A Question of Genetics

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.”

~ Horace

Ring Push-Ups at the Playground

Ring Push-Ups at the Playground

I took along an eclectic mix of reading to keep me occupied during my in-flight hours last weekend; a copy of Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis (it was actually Brittani’s copy), and my well-worn copy of Dr. Doug McGuff’s Body By Science, among other titles, magazines, newspapers, etc.  I’ve been contemplating as of late, the limitations our inherited genetics place on our realistically obtainable goals, and (maybe a less “depressing” notion), how to target training so as to best work with our genetics in order to realize our optimized phenotype.

I think we can all agree that, although we can no doubt alter our ultimate genetic expression (phenotype) for the positive, we do — all of us — face certain genetic limitations.  The frustrating proposition for most mature-minded trainees is not the fact that these limitations exist — hey, at a certain age, we’ve all had the “life ain’t fair rug pulled from beneath out feet” — but rather, the reality of not knowing the extent of, or manifestation of, these limitations.  By a certain “training age”, most intelligent trainees are well aware that not all athletes (or wannabe athletes) are created equal.  The unfortunate side-effect of this truth is that any training regimen you can name will have some positive responders, however, that same regimen will be packaged and marketed as a universal fit for every trainee.  Natural genetic variances, my friends, simply will not allow for this.  The key to fitness is not stumbling upon the “golden program”, as there is no such thing.  The key to long-term fitness success is (1) finding a handful of modalities that you respond well to, and (2) knowing how and when to cycle through those few modalities in order to maximize their impact.  Training is as simple — and as difficult — as that.

Dr. McGuff covers this territory in a well-written chapter 8 (The Genetic Factor) of Body by Science.  I encorage everyone to get a copy of Dr. McGuff’s work, even if you’re opposed to (or a non-responder) the SS/HIT methodology or premise, because the science outlined throughout the work is of universal value.  Absent in this book are the smoke and mirrors that accompany most training books; Doug (and I’d be remiss if I left out John Little) lay out the science and draw their conclusions.  You can use that science to agree, disagree or draw conclusions of your own.  In my opinion, chapter 8 of Body by Science is alone worth the price of admission.

I’ve got plenty more to say about the genetic factor, and how it relates to individualized training — much more than I care to shove in one post.  That said, I plan on revisiting this subject throughout the upcoming week.  So, if you’ve got a copy of BBS, read (or re-read) chapter 8, and let’s compare notes and ideas.

In health,

Keith

Reader Mail

“Tact in audacity consists in knowing how far we may go too far.”

Jean Cocteau

TTP and Conditioning Research reader Noel sent this erudite email recently to both Chris (of Conditioning Research) and me, in response to the ongoing and hotly debated SS/HIT vs. (among a plethora of other related issues) “functional training” discussions.  If you’re arriving late to the game, you can get a feel for what’s being said here and here.  Anyway, I wanted to pass along Noel’s comments, as they are intelligent, informed, and lend much to the overall discussion on this topic.  Also included is my short reply.

Fellas,

The recent posts about the BBS/super slow movement have irked me to
the extent that I am compelled to write this email. While on the macro
level I don’t really care what they espouse, I don’t think their
claims are getting the critical examination they deserve.

Let me crudely characterise the debate as consisting of two sides:
machine based, super slow, one set of failure based on published
research (Dr McGuff) versus free weights, 5 reps or less, multiple
sets based on coaching experience (Rip). I’m not suggesting Dr McGuff
and Rip are in direct opposition (I don’t know if they even know of
one another), but I want to use two exemplars to discuss this issue. I
hope we can all agree these guys are experts, and they hold viewpoints
that are contradictory. No one has the time to be knowledgeable in all
fields, so normally we defer to experts. When the experts disagree it
is time to examine the primary evidence more closely. The key thing
here is our standard of proof: how strong must the evidence be before
we accept it as true?

Now the BBS guys lean on the published literature. I went to PubMed,
did a search for “resistance training one set failure” and the first
relevant hit I found was:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17369792?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

METHODS: Twenty-one women were divided randomly into 2 groups: Group 1
(n=10) performed a single set of the leg press exercise once per week,
while Group 2 (n=11) performed a single set of the leg press exercise
twice per week for a period of 8 weeks. Throughout the duration of the
study, an amount of resistance was utilized that allowed for a single
set of 6 to 10 repetitions to muscular failure.

This seems to back up their claims — but it is extremely weak
evidence! 21 people is tiny, and 8 weeks is very short. Consider this:
would you use a drug that had been tested on 21 people? I did a search
for drug trial sizes (and perhaps Keith can say more here) and it
seems a small trial is of the order of 300 people. Technically the
statistical power of this study — that is, its ability to show an
effect if there is one — is very low.

To see the problems this study might have, imagine you had two groups
of people, both of whom can lift 100kg on some exercise, with a
standard deviation of 5kg. Imagine one group trains with protocol A,
and the other with protocal B. After a year the group on A can lift
250kg +/- 12.5kg and the group on B can lift 200kg +/- 10kg (so group
A gained 1.5x the strength and group B gained 1x the strength). The
difference in average strength is well outside 3 standard deviations,
so this should be a very significant result.

Now what do you see after 8 weeks, assuming linear gains?

Group A: Mean = 100kg + [100kg * (8/52) * 1.5] = 123kg
Std. Dev. =  5kg + [5kg * 8/52 * 1.5] = 6.2kg
Group B: Mean = 100kg + [100kg * (8/52) * 1] = 115kg
Std. Dev. =  5.8kg

The difference in means is well within two standard deviations — not
a significant result. So see how the short duration of the study has
made a significant result seem insignificant.

(This is fairly informal. If someone wants to calculate the actual
p-values assuming, say, a population of infinite size [and therefore
the t-distribution becomes the normal] that would be informative and
more persuasive than my argument.)

Also, see this:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14971985?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=4&log$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pubmed

This quantitative review indicates that single-set programs for an
initial short training period in untrained individuals result in
similar strength gains as multiple-set programs. However, as
progression occurs and higher gains are desired, multiple-set programs
are more effective.

I’m not a researcher in the field of exercise science (or kinesology
or whatever you want to call it) but a lot of the published research I
have seen is of this type. This does not meet my standards of proof.

Now consider the evidence Rip has. It would be rejected by the BBS
guys as it doesn’t meet the criteria for publication: it doesn’t
control for variability, it isn’t statistically analysed and so on.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t evidence though. From his writing Rip
strikes me as a very methodical and very experienced guy. I must admit
I am more inclined to believe him, based on his experience training
hundreds of people over long periods, than I am to believe claims
based on what I perceive as very weak published literature.

Finally, I want to address Chris’ interview with Luke Carlson.

“Q: What do you make of Crossfit?…

A: It is entertaining to me that the three movements that all humans
allegedly engage in just happen to be historically popular Olympic and
Power lifts!”

Two things. First my understanding is that the term “functional
movement” is used by Crossfit to mean a movement that carries over to
other activities. It doesn’t mean that movement mimics other
activities.

I would think anyone could see that deadlifting and squatting are core
movements. I guess Luke has never picked anything off the floor, or
taken a dump.

“The vast majority, if not every HIT advocate that I know utilizes
twisting/rotational movements. We use the MedX Core Torso Rotation
machine – a $7,000 machine that targets the muscles involved in
rotation of the trunk. This exercise is included in the working
scripts for all of our clients.”

The Crossfit orthodoxy here is that training midline stabilisation —
the ability to resist twisting — is key. I did a little test with
myself, throwing punches. It seems that I flex my obliques to avoid
twisting so as to better transfer power from my hips to my upper body.
I’m not trained at punching, but this way felt much better than
deliberately twisting my midsection out of line with my hips.

This response is also highlights an issue that I haven’t seen anyone
address yet — these guys are not impartial. I don’t need a $7000
machine to train my obliques, but the equipment manufacturers and the
gym owners that have invested in them would like me to believe I do.
In fact this is one of the primary reasons I dislike the BBS movement
— they want to make the trainee dependent on the gym to workout. In
contrast a barbell set is dead cheap, and free weights, be they iron,
a rock, or a baby, can be used anywhere. I’d rather be self sufficient
and teach people to be the same.

Finally, let me address safety:

First, there is lack of evidence to support machines being safer than
free weights:

http://www.exrx.net/WeightTraining/Safety.html

Let’s also look at the injury rate, from the same site: 0.0035
injuries per 100 hours. Imagine I’m a real gym rat and hit the gym 5
days a week for an hour. That’s 5 hours a week, or 260 hours a year,
or 13000 hours over 50 years. With that injury rate I would expect
0.455 injuries over my lifetime of training. Worried?

Well, I’d better do some real work.

Regards,
Noel

A nice bit of thought here, to say the least.  And what follows was my emailed response to Noel:

Noel,

Thanks for your intelligent email.

My approach to all things physical culture (and to life in general) has always been to give well-conducted scientific studies serious consideration for real-world implementation, but I always defer to empirical evidence when choosing what modalities/protocols to utilize when “in the field”.  And herein lay the age-old disconnect between what “works in the lab and in theory” and what produces “results in the field”.  An athlete in the real world bears little resemblance to “case studies” (be they human or theoretical) in the lab.  And, too, within any pro-con argument, the “purists” on either side will cede little ground to the “opposing” view/theory.  Live in general, and training in specific, is rarely black or white; it’s more analogous to yin and yang.  My take is that for each specified weakness, there is a good-better-best continuum of options related to how to “fix” that weakness.  This holds true for diet as well as exercise.

Well, there you are folks; weigh-in, comment and kick this one around a bit.  I’m anticipating some good discussion out of this bit of informed criticism.  And thanks again to Noel for allowing me to use his thoughts here on TTP.

Note: I’m sure that Chris will soon have a separate discussion running relative to Noel’s comments over at Conditioning Research, and I’ll link directly to that post as soon as it’s available.  Noel’s put out a good bit of opinion here, and I’m quite sure the discussion will splinter into many directions on each site.

Late entry: Here’s the link to the Conditioning Research post.

In health,

Keith

Body By Science — the Review, Part 3: Goal Setting, and the Definition of “Fitness”

“I don’t want to get too comfortable; I’d rather stay hungry.”

~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

If you haven’t already, you can catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 of the Body By Science reviews.  Interesting comments and discussion followed each installment.

Arnold, back in the day

Arnold, back in the day

Back when I was a kid, about the time that I became completely enamored with the phenomena of physical culture, and fell in with the heady realization that I could affect — and, in fact, dramatically improve — my inherent athletic ability via weight training, my goals were twofold: (1) to look every bit like Arnold Schwarenegger, and (2) to play my (American) football position with the all skill, intensity and ferocity of my football heroes at the time — Ronnie Lott and Jack Tatum.

At that time, and with no one around to tell me otherwise (remember, this was the age of the Weider Empire’s, information “totalitarianism”), I set out to achieve my goals.  And I think if you’d ask anyone who knew me during that period of my life, they’d tell you that I was a young man who couldn’t be told “you can’t” or “it’s not possible”.

Come to think of it, though, not much has changed with me in that respect.  But I digress…

In any event, by the time I was ready to pack my bags and head off for collegiate sporting “fame and fortune”, I had figured a couple of things out via simple trial and error.  The first was that sheer size and raw strength had little to do with athletic success in disciplines that required speed and finesse, and the second was that training slow (as in rep speed) in the weight room — either in pursuit of hypertrophy or raw strength —  had the effect of making one slow(er) on the field of play.  At the time, I had neither the knowledge nor the vocabulary to express what it was that I saw lacking in this model; what I’d realized, of course, is that without the ability to express power — and more precisely, instantaneous power, coupled with a high power-to-bodyweight ratio — all is for naught, in the sporting world at least.

Well, thanks so much for the funky little trip down memory lane, you say, but just what the hell does this have to do with Dr. McGuff’s book, Body By Science?

Hmm, well, first up we’ve got the issue of goal setting.  Then, as a subset of that, we’ve got the issue of matching effective training protocols to one’s stated goals.  Now, you can re-make all of the mistakes that I made in my youthful exuberance (and complete and utter ignorance) by attempting to serve two “masters”, or you can choose to listen to the older, and I hope, somewhat wiser me.  What the older, wiser me would have told the younger, ignorant and headstrong me (not that I would have listened — but that’s another story), is that what I was attempting was, in the most simple of terms, a damned fool’s errand.  My two goals were, quite simply, physiological, polar opposites.

But before we travel any further down this road, though, and even prior to delving into the issue of goal setting, we need to first define a term that, on the outset, might not sound like it even needs defining.  “Fitness”, it seems — within the general populace, at least — is akin to the term “love” in that the two terms transcend definition; they just are.  Like art, we know it when we see it.  Well, maybe so for love; fitness, though, must be properly defined so that we can then speak using a common language.

I’d like to compare and contrast a couple of definitions for fitness from a pair of guys whose knowledge of the issue I respect.  First up is Dr. Doug McGuff, as stated in Body By Science:

Fitness: The bodily state of being physiologically capable of handling challenges above a resting threshold of activity.

Next up is Greg Glassman (of CrossFit), and his definition of the term (as paraphrased by yours truly):

Fitness: Work capacity expressed over broad times and modal domains.

Now, both of these definitions essentially cover the same ground, though I tend to use Glassman’s definition because it seems to lend itself more towards fitness in an athletic realm or expression. But that’s my personal preference. What each and every trainee really needs to do is to first define a goal within the realm of the definition of “fitness” (which ever definition you’re most comfortable with), with the realization held firmly in mind that goals — and therefore the proper path toward those goals — is a totally individual matter.  For instance, my personal, overriding goal, since the time I had my pre-collegiate “ah-hah” moment, has been to become more athletic — more powerful, and with a higher power-to-bodyweight ratio — and worry less about physical aesthetics.  As I get older, I’m quite sure I’ll modify this goal more toward aesthetics and overall health.  But for now, I’m all about chasing a higher power-to-bodyweight ratio (and to be more specific, power as expressed in the anaerobic realm), at the expense of, say, joint health.  This is not to say that I ignore joint health, but that I don’t mind pushing the envelop via the Olympic lifts, plyometrics, sprinting and such.   Of course, the downside of this is that I expose myself to an increased possibility of both acute and chronic (via repetitive trauma) injury.  This is the kind of give-and-take, the Yin-and-Yang, if you will, of settling on a goal; it’s absolutely imperative, though, that each trainee do so (along with constant re-assessment) to prevent the dreaded “spinning wheels” syndrome all too frequently witnessed in gyms throughout the world.  And don’t even get me going on goals vis-a-vis diet  🙂

In my mind, goal-setting is of the utmost importance vis-a-vis the Body By Science protocol, precisely because your stated goal will determine where, when, and how often you might employ the protocol.  And let me state here that I unequivocally agree with Dr. McGuff’s premise as revealed throughout his work in Body By Science.   Where Dr. McGuff and I may not see eye-to-eye is in the application of that protocol.  And that has everything to do with goals.  Let me explain.

Let’s, for the sake of argument, examine two trainees with very different goals.  Let’s say trainee #1 is a middle-aged office worker (male or female, doesn’t matter) who is a few pounds, or even good bit, overweight (“over fat”, I feel, is a better term), and who would like to get “in shape”.  Note that trainee #1 describes about 95% of all potential trainees.  Let’s say trainee #2 is a competitive rugby player.  The level of competition, for the purposes of this discussion, is irrelevant.  Two trainees, two totally different goals.  Now, will the Body By Science protocol work for both?  Yes, no doubt it will.  And for trainee #1, I’d dare say it’s probably all he (or she) will ever need.  Buy the book, read, heed, and apply the concepts and, coupled with an all-around Paleo lifestyle, this “95-percentile” trainee will be well on his or her way to a long, disease-free and productive life.  All of trainee #1’s goals can realistically be achieved by following this protocol (with, of course, some added “play” thrown in), and with the added bonus of having invested very little time in the acquisition of those goals.  For trainee #2, however, it’s a much different story.

Both Dr. McGuff and I agree that specific skills must be practiced at game speed and with game-weight implements.  In other words (and for instance), practicing a batting swing, or golf swing, say, with some sort of weighted resistance is not only useless, it’s detrimental.  Practicing these same movements with a lighter implement, however, (overspeed training) does have useful applications, though that protocol is not particularly germane to this discussion (though I do now have an idea for a new post).   Where Dr. McGuff and I might not see eye to eye is this: Dr. McGuff believes (from what I gather from reading BBS), that strength gains made via the BBS protocol can then be directly translated to measurable “on the field” performance increases by way of specific skills practice.  My thinking is that any strength increase realized (no matter the protocol) must first be “bridged” via appropriate strength-speed and speed-strength (power) work in order to produce a more effective (and, to a much greater degree of) “on the field” improvement.  At first glace, this might not seem such a wide gulf of opinion — and depending upon the stated goal of the trainee, it’s not.  However, the more one’s goals shift toward the “application” or “athletic” realms, the gulf widens, as I would contend that the BBS protocol(s), if used at all within an overall training scheme of this nature, would become only a marginalized addition to the overall scheme; relegated, you might say, to the outside fringes of the overall training maco-cycle.  Still a useful application, no doubt; another valuable tool in the trainee’s (and smart trainer’s) toolbox.  In keeping with this analogy, though, one must remember that the handle of a crecsent wrench makes for a poor hammer substitute.  It’s the skilled mechanic who utilizes the correct tool for the job at hand.

Hypertrophy is another matter entire, a matter into which I’ll delve in the next installment of this series.

In health,

Keith

Body by Science — The Review, Part 1: Initial Impressions

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

~ Thomas Jefferson

Part 1 of this review will concentrate on my overall impression(s) of Body by Science, by Dr. Doug McGuff and John Little. I’ve completed my initial “quick read” of the work, and have thus far thoroughly enjoyed the book.  By way of comparison, I’d say that BBS might be considered the “Good Calories, Bad Calories” of fitness tomes. Not that the book is exhaustive, or written “on a higher level”, but in the fact that it is so heavily backed by documented research. A full 26 pages of reference citations fill the back matter of the work; plenty of “geek food” for folks like me – those of us who like to delve deep and see if we come to the same conclusions as the author.

book01And by and large, I do come to the same conclusions as the authors here. I think where our differences ultimately lay is in the application of the science and techniques described therein; to invoke a metaphor, here (and one that I’m sure I’ve hackneyed to death by now), I think Dr. McGuff would have the techniques described in BBS be the monkey wrench in his workout toolbox – applying the methods described in BBS universally and across the board – where I see these techniques more as a highly specialized tool in a much, much larger workout “tool box”. The underlying science here is spot-on, though, and for anyone wishing to purchase a thorough, nicely-written and well-documented exercise science and/or physiology book, this is it. The book is written for the lay-person, so the underlying science is, in some cases, over-simplified. Ah, but if you’d like to dig a little deeper, you’ve got that 26 pages worth of references to glory in.

I also get the distinct feeling that much was cut from Dr. McGuff’s original manuscript, by all-too-eager editors in their zeal to mold a product with a more vast market appeal. That’s a shame, though, because I know Dr. McGuff has much more to say on the subjects covered in his book. I’d love to get my hands on the original manuscript; it really is too bad that he wasn’t given the license from his publishing house that was given Gary Taubes in his writing of GCBC.  To make my case, here, just check out this interview that Chris, of Conditioning Research, conducted with Dr. McGuff.  The good doctor has plenty more to say, and the more I hear him expound on his notions, the more I am apt to agree with his conclusions.  I also wish that the publishers would have allowed Dr. McGuff, or at least someone very knowlegeable in the proper form/execution of free-weight exercises, stage the photos for this work.  Dr. McGuff has commented to me about his displeasure over that aspect of the book.  This is an unfortunate consequence, though, of the elaborate dance between authors and editors/publishers.

In the forthcoming installments of this review, I’ll look consider the various themes of BBS from my own Paleo/Evolutionary Fitness-leaning perspective.  Expect to see some heavy discussion in the following subject areas:

  1. the efficient absorption of force.
  2. Proprioception
  3. CNS stimulation
  4. the Dose/Response/Recovery continuum.

I’ll note as well, that Dr. McGuff is fully on board with the whole of the Paleo/EF lifestyle approach.  Check out the following two short clips of Dr. McGuff discussing the science of fat loss.


As well, Dr. McGuff is an admirer, as am I, of  Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  It is with the foundation of these two perspectives (Paleo lifestyle, coupled with “randomness”) that he and John Little have put together an absolutely fabulous training book — one that I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone (novice to “old salt”) interested in underlying science of physical culture.

More to come.  If you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of BBS, by all means do so; you certainly won’t be disappointed.  Read-up, and get ready for some in-depth discussion.


In Health,

Keith


Body by Science; Let the Review Begin

“The human mind treats a new idea the same way the body treats a strange protein: It rejects it.”

~ P.B. Medawar

I received a copy of Body by Science this week from Dr. Doug McGuff, and have already begun my initial read-through of the material.  Very interesting stuff thus-far, I must say.  Now, the way I handle a thoroughly referenced book like BBS (Good Calories, Bad Calories is another example), is to first go through the material in its entirety, then go back for a second, more thorough devouring.  And I don’t use the term devouring lightly, either, as I take to the books I read (especially so of a work I intend to critique), in the manner of a wolf to fresh lamb slaughter.  If any of you have a copy of BBS, here’s an opportunity for you to read along, and maybe we can compare notes along the way.  If you don’t yet have a copy, you’ve got a little bit of time to get your hands on one, as I’ll remain in my “initial read-through” phase for a bit longer (my “paying” gig is having its way with me at the moment).  In any event, once I’ve completed the initial read-through, I’ll dive right into the second, more thorough read, reviewing the work in numerous, smaller chunks (maybe this will result in chapter reviews, maybe smaller pieces) of the whole as I progress. I’ll include a wrap-up review at the end, tying together all of the the smaller, along-the-way, write-ups.  From what I’ve seen so far, BBS is a well-written and well-researched work.  I’m looking forward to having my biases and preconceived notions challenged.  Change my mind is a mantra I live by.

For an appetite wetter, check out this blog post, courtesy of TTP reader Skyler Tanner.   Skyler has put together a video clip sampling of a few Dr. McGuff-inspired, high-intensity workouts on some cool, new-fangled machines.  He’s even got a clip of the good Dr. himself taking a dose of his own, HIT workout medicine.  The one-set-to-failure theory is intriguing — and, from what I’ve seen previously, supported by sound science — though I’ve always found it to be, for reasons that I will elaborate upon in my coming posts, impracticable (at least for athletes).  I do remain open-minded, though, and will consider all options for inclusion in my workout arsenal.  Like I always say, match the trainee to his or her stated goal, then figure out the most efficient way of getting them there — that’s the name of the game, in my book.

Also, a quick public service announcement: I’ve got a whole host of interesting reader questions I intend to get to as well.  I hope to be able to post some of these throughout the rest of the week, as time permits.  Wow, I really could use a few more hours in the day, not devoted to my paying gig 🙂

In Health,

Keith