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  • Weightless BBS

    I do not own and haven't read Body By Science, but I had an opportunity to listen to its author (McGuff) outline the underlying principles of his system (tip o' the pen to Richard Nikoley for providing the link on his blog a few posts back).

    Long and short, McGuff's system uses high intensity and adequate recovery in tandem to create a specific response in the body and then relies on increasing weight as you progress to trigger this effect over and over again.

    What I'm wondering is if there is a way to create the same continuing conditions using body weight exercises (without adding weights or vests, etc). Anyone familiar enough with BBS to offer an opinion?

    Mark Sisson's approach to fitness is actually showing good results for me, and I've always preferred body weight exercises to gym work, but the premise behind BBS was pretty intriguing and I think it would be cool if there was a way to combine the two approaches.

  • #2
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    Last edited by js290; 05-25-2011, 10:44 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by brahnamin View Post
      What I'm wondering is if there is a way to create the same continuing conditions using body weight exercises (without adding weights or vests, etc). Anyone familiar enough with BBS to offer an opinion?
      No there isn't. You won't be able to increase the load in controlled enough increments to progress linearly, and the ROM is limited in a lot of advanced bodyweight movements which would make the exercise inefficient at providing the full-body stimulus needed.

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      • #4
        No. But that doesn't mean you can't get really strong with bodyweight only stuff - it's just different strokes for different folks. As I always say - you get good at what you do. So what do you want to be good at?
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        • #5
          It is possible but more difficult to do with bodyweight. In Bodyweight versus Weight Training I wrote,

          "The biggest disadvantage to bodyweight training is resistance progression is not as straightforward or as easily quantified as with weight training.

          As you become stronger and better conditioned you must increase the resistance you work against during exercise to stimulate further improvement. Resistance – the force your muscles work against during exercise – is the product of a variety of factors, the two biggest being mass and lever.

          Resistance progression with barbells, dumbbells or machines is simple and easy to quantify, record, and compare over time. As you become stronger you increase the weights used – the mass – proportionally. The movements (levers encountered) do not vary significantly.

          With bodyweight training the mass – your body – does not increase in proportion to your strength. If you’re losing fat your body is providing progressively less resistance, and muscle mass does not increase in equal proportion to strength (e. g. you don’t gain 10 pounds of muscle mass for every additional 10 pounds you can lift on average). To increase resistance without resorting to weight belts or vests you have to increase the lever the muscles are working against. This is accomplished by performing progressively more challenging variations of an exercise or progressively more challenging exercises for each muscle group."
          Drew Baye
          High Intensity Training

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          • #6
            I haven't read the BBS book, but I have read a few articles about it and incorporated the principle of working until positive failure into my progressive PB Fitness workouts. I've had consistent progress doing a split set once a week.
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            • #7
              Why would you go to all that effort to follow a program that is mostly hype? Coach Palfrey is right, do what you want to be good at. Al Kavadlo has some great bodyweight material.

              And yes, I did read the book. Then I actually read the studies that the book referenced. I now think of it as Body BS.

              Gordo

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              • #8
                Gordo,

                The Body by Science program is certainly not BS. Doug's studio Ultimate Exercise and hundreds like it have been using the same or similar programs very successfully for decades now. I have been using similar training with my clients for nearly twenty years now (although with more frequency and more moderate repetition cadences) and have consistently produced results for clients they failed to accomplish working with trainers using more conventional methods, including several clients who have come to me from CrossFit places in the past few years.

                I am curious as to what specific studies you believe do not support Doug's recommendations (I am aware the lactate and fatigue stuff he talks about is outdated) and what specifically you believe is "BS" about the program or principles?
                Drew Baye
                High Intensity Training

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                • #9
                  NOPE! Or let's at least say it would be extremely time consuming you would eventually stall with no way to make any inroads to strength.

                  You won't get into fast twitch muscle fiber too easily as you adapt and get stronger The book is a great read. $10.00 as an E-Book. It will also de-bunk the muscle confusion crap.
                  Last edited by pyro13g; 05-26-2011, 07:03 AM.

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                  • #10
                    I think it is interesting that Drew Baye comments and people still take the opposite pov.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Drew Baye View Post
                      Gordo,

                      The Body by Science program is certainly not BS. Doug's studio Ultimate Exercise and hundreds like it have been using the same or similar programs very successfully for decades now. I have been using similar training with my clients for nearly twenty years now (although with more frequency and more moderate repetition cadences) and have consistently produced results for clients they failed to accomplish working with trainers using more conventional methods, including several clients who have come to me from CrossFit places in the past few years.

                      I am curious as to what specific studies you believe do not support Doug's recommendations (I am aware the lactate and fatigue stuff he talks about is outdated) and what specifically you believe is "BS" about the program or principles?
                      About half a year ago I attempted to discuss this in Lyle McDonald's forum ... BBS is regarded as quackery by most regular posters there, including Lyle himself. One argument I found somewhat convincing is that by going to muscular failure and beyond you put a lot of stress on the central nervous system which takes much longer to recover from than your muscles do, which could be an artificial limitation on volume and/or frequency. What Lyle recommends in his "generic bulking routine" is 2-3 sessions per week an 3-4x6-8 repetions per exercise, aiming for 50 repetitions twice a week per bodypart.

                      I used to be a big fan of BBS last year, then I got discouraged for quite a while, and currently I'm trying again - but I'll mix it up a bit by throwing in 5x5 exercises or 3x5 deadlifts, dead hangs / chinups / dips, other bodyweight stuff, kettlebell swings. I'm not increasing volume, I simply replace some HIT workouts with workouts of other types.
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                      • #12
                        The major problem I have with BBS has nothing to do with the principles - but it has plenty to do with the Leg Press, Seated Row, Pulldown, Chest Press and Shoulder Press. Big 5? Hardly.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Drew Baye View Post
                          The Body by Science program is certainly not BS. Doug's studio Ultimate Exercise and hundreds like it have been using the same or similar programs very successfully for decades now.
                          You can certainly get results. The BS part is that the program is the optimal way to get them. It also depends on what results you actually want. For bodybuilding type results, the protocol is fine. For raw strength, there are better ways ...

                          The studies that the entire program are based upon used untrained college kids for a relatively short period of time. That's real nice, but what if you're in your 50s and very fit?

                          Yes, you can do the protocol with weights, rather than machines, but the whole focus of the book is to use machines to "reduce the chance of injury" and get the same results. But what if you want to be as strong as possible? And you want functional strength. That means real squats, not pussy leg machine garbage. Isolating muscles doesn't build functional strength. Period. It can provide some pretty beef for the beach, so as I said before, it depends on your goals ... Unfortunately the book doesn't at all make this clear. It's more hype than anything else. It's like reading an infomercial.

                          On the BS detection scale "If it worked, you wouldn't need all the hype." ranks right up there. LOL

                          Gordo

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                          • #14
                            Adequate resistance is not a problem with body weight training. There are always more challenging exercises or variations a person can progress to. The problem is the progression is hard to quantify and there can be a huge increase in difficulty between certain exercises for particular muscle groups.

                            Unless a person can perform multiple, full-range repetitions in strict form (slow and controlled, no cheating) of one armed chin ups and push ups (half-diamond, not with the hand to the side) and one legged squats they can't say body weight exercises aren't challenging enough
                            Drew Baye
                            High Intensity Training

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                            • #15
                              Gordo,

                              It is not necessary to use free weights for an exercise to be "functional" - any exercise that increases the strength of the muscles involved in an activity will improve your ability to perform or function in that activity. The additional stabilization and balance skills of a movement like squats do not transfer to other activities. The only thing a squat improves your ability to do more than a leg press and back extension is to perform that specific exercise, since there is skill transfer.

                              As long as you are working all the major muscle groups hard and progressively you can become as strong as possible using any type of equipment, free weights or machines, or none at all in the case of bodyweight. It is a myth that machines or isolation exercises are somehow not "functional".
                              Drew Baye
                              High Intensity Training

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