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My Summary of "Body by Science"

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  • My Summary of "Body by Science"

    My summary of Body by Science

    1. The authors do not "prescribe" slow lifts, they say that slow lifting will put maximum load on muscles. The reason is that if you lift quickly, momentum does some of the work at various points.
    2. They recommend machines because injury is less likely. As they point out, some of the compound exercises are dangerous. For example, if you lift to failure on a squat, it is hard to maintain correct form, and the final rep may result in loss of form and subsequent injury. They do have a free weight routine if you prefer that.
    3. They do not claim that their routine is optimal for building strength in every sport, they claim that research indicates that it is optimal for building strength safely in relatively little time. If you want to develop your sports skill, they recommend that you play the sport or do drills specific to that sport. They do not think that you can develop the skills needed for sports without playing the sport or doing the drills for that sport and recommend that you limit weight-training time so that you can do your sport more often.
    4. They cite numerous research studies for each of their claims. (The people who disagree with them, from what I have seen so far, cite nothing at all except what steroid freaks recommend in magazines.). They are contemptuous of muscle magazines and trainer recommendations. They think that people model routines on what may work for a genetically gifted individual or someone pumped on steroids, and that these recommendations are worthless and often counterproductive.
    5. Their routine is designed for normal people to achieve steady progress until the normal person reaches his personal genetic limit. The authors recommend that you not fantasize about being like someone who is genetically gifted and not base your routine on what supposedly works for the genetically gifted. You are not genetically gifted (they assume).
    6. They do not recommend that everyone lift every seven days. They do recommend that you start with that as a guideline and then experiment with it to see if you can lift slightly more often or if you need more rest. Maybe every ten days is better for you. The are certain that frequent workouts and repeated sets are a waste of time in comparison to working one set to failure.
    7. They do not recommend 5 sec./5 sec. (up/down) except as a guideline. They say that a slow, smooth motion is the point. Different people are able to maintain a slow, smooth motion at different speeds.
    8. They recommend Nautilus and MedX (sp?) machines because of the cam design, which they say loads muscles efficiently. They are not enthusiastic about most other machines in terms of the efficiency, although they do think that all of the machines are safer than free weights. They do not think that any research supports the superiority of free weights for building strength or muscle, but they do say that free weights load the body differently. So what you can do on a machine is not necessarily going to track exactly to what you can do with a free weight, and vice versa. They claim that the common preference for free weights is driven by advertising, not by research.
    9. They claim that if you are obese, their routine can help start burning fat, and that a lot of fat people will be unable to lose fat without doing a routine like theirs in some way.

    My conclusions: their recommendations make sense to me, but they do not cite any research that I can recall that shows their recommendations work over the long run. I would wonder if the body would acclimate itself and then need a kind of shock with a different routine to restart growth. Overall, they seem realistic and sensible. They back up every major point with research studies, but some of these studies used pretty small groups, so the statistical significance may be dubious. They do not seem to understand the significance of group size and seem to view what struck me as very small-scale studies as nearly conclusive. They also seem uninterested in within-group variance and draw conclusions on the basis of averages without apparently looking closely at the way these averages may conceal individual experiences and variant reactions. They seem naive about statistics in this way, but I did not look at the original studies myself.

    They throw out any usefulness to stretching, which seems wrong to me, but then again, I have no research to support this view of mine. I admit that I have personally not seen any great use to stretching. I also have seen a lot of flexible people who do not seem to gain anything important out of their flexibility. One personal anecdote that goes against their anti-stretching views: I had back spasms from bicycling and stretched my glutes, which seemed to instantly reduce my back pain. They claim that much stretching may actually harm the body.

    Counter-anecdote: I used to stretch a lot, as in almost every day, pretty hard, and I never seemed to derive any benefit from it when I did it regularly. I just spent a lot of time on it and then went pretty much back to where I was. From what I could see, people who were naturally flexible recommended stretching on the principle that people who were less flexible should be more like them. This was in kung fu, and truly, I never saw that the flexible people had any advantage in terms of power or anything else.

    They recommend a more or less Paleo style of eating.

  • #2
    Originally posted by bookstorecowboy View Post
    9. They claim that if you are obese, their routine can help start burning fat, and that a lot of fat people will be unable to lose fat without doing a routine like theirs in some way.

    My conclusions: their recommendations make sense to me, but they do not cite any research that I can recall that shows their recommendations work over the long run. I would wonder if the body would acclimate itself and then need a kind of shock with a different routine to restart growth.
    I still find it amusing that the main thing people get out of BBS is the protocol and machine vs weights. There are a bunch of other HIT books out there that explain how to workout. People want the magic formula, the magic workout, the magic diet, etc. There's a whole chapter in BBS dedicated to cellular metabolism which explains why exercise is useful. When you understand why you're doing something, then you know how to do that something. And, you stop worrying about whether a protocol will become stale or if the research cited using untrained college aged students really apply to a different demographic or how many NFL running backs use a particular protocol or whether you're going to tear your hamstring doing ridiculous interval training.

    W.O.W. 6/03/11-The Brownsburg Beatdown

    You just get to the business at hand, which is depleting your muscles of glycogen safely and efficiently and letting your genetics take care of the rest. You do this because you've already decided eating real food gets you 80% of the way to health, and somewhere in that other 20% is physical strength. Strength is a functional sign of health.

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    • #3
      It's not surprising that the majority focus on the machine vs. weights debate - it's the easiest thing for the casual trainee to see and comment on.

      The problem that some educated individuals have with BBS is that they see little transfer between the protocol and natural movement. And they believe that it is not a case of "letting your genetics take care of the rest". The stimuli is important above and beyond simply depleting glycogen.
      Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports
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      • #4
        From what I recall, the authors generally agree that there is a least limited transfer from weight training to the movements required in various sports. (I don't know what "natural" movement is, but I can't see anything "natural" about a barbell or dumbell. It seems just as artificial as a Nautilus machine, although perhaps not as effective and more dangerous). They see weight training as a way to improve cardio-vascular health, help burn fat, and develop overall muscular strength and preserve functional ability for a normal range of activity and do it in relatively little time. They think it is a great way to accomplish those limited goals, and that it cannot do very much else. They believe that the rest of your time should be devoted to other things you like to do, and that includes training specific to your sport (not weight training). They think that ice skaters, soccer players, mountain climbers, ballet dancers, and handball players have specific training needs that have to be addressed by attention to the skills needed for that sport. Those skills are not "natural" movements, they are artificial movements required by the rules of the game and its constraints.

        I forgot to add that they do have some individual extra training routines for people interested in specific sports strength.

        The book, as a previous poster noted, is useful for its detailed explanations of relevant physiology. But I agree that there is not much in it that is revolutionary or new beyond "rest more." But it does do a service in saying firmly and with research support that most people need more rest, not less. I remember trying so hard to do multiple sets and work out 3x/week when I was younger, and getting totally depleted. (I have always given 100% to my training, always trained to failure, and always failed when I went beyond once every five days). I couldn't figure out why these idiots kept telling me to work out 3x/week! Eventually I learned that the gurus mostly fell into three classes: A) genetically gifted; B) love to work out and want an excuse; C) take steroids. So their recommendations were just irrelevant. There also is an entire group of experts that are sadists and love to watch other people fail. The profession of teaching attracts large numbers of such sadists regardless of the skill taught, be it math, English composition, ballet, or weight training. (Most probably do not think that they are sadists, they just think that some of their students deserve to fail.) Finally, there is a group that just wants to get rid of people who are normal. They only want gifted students, so the faster they can drive normal people into failure, the better it suits them. No wonder they love 2-3x/week as a normal schedule. After they have got rid of all the normal people, they can think about what great teachers they are because of their successes with the 5% that stuck around for their abuse.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by bookstorecowboy View Post
          From what I recall, the authors generally agree that there is a least limited transfer from weight training to the movements required in various sports.
          It is precisely strength that transfers, not skills. Being stronger in general will make you better for whatever skill interests you.

          Originally posted by bookstorecowboy View Post
          The book, as a previous poster noted, is useful for its detailed explanations of relevant physiology. But I agree that there is not much in it that is revolutionary or new beyond "rest more." But it does do a service in saying firmly and with research support that most people need more rest, not less. I remember trying so hard to do multiple sets and work out 3x/week when I was younger, and getting totally depleted. (I have always given 100% to my training, always trained to failure, and always failed when I went beyond once every five days). I couldn't figure out why these idiots kept telling me to work out 3x/week! Eventually I learned that the gurus mostly fell into three classes: A) genetically gifted; B) love to work out and want an excuse; C) take steroids. So their recommendations were just irrelevant.
          Rest more is actually not new either. That's what Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer advocated. Old time bodybuilders also knew this.

          Originally posted by bookstorecowboy View Post
          There also is an entire group of experts that are sadists and love to watch other people fail. The profession of teaching attracts large numbers of such sadists regardless of the skill taught, be it math, English composition, ballet, or weight training. (Most probably do not think that they are sadists, they just think that some of their students deserve to fail.) Finally, there is a group that just wants to get rid of people who are normal. They only want gifted students, so the faster they can drive normal people into failure, the better it suits them. No wonder they love 2-3x/week as a normal schedule. After they have got rid of all the normal people, they can think about what great teachers they are because of their successes with the 5% that stuck around for their abuse.
          That's an interesting and insightful observation about the teaching profession. I've found the good instructors find the least talented students most rewarding. And, as you say, the bad instructors find ways to drive off the students they don't enjoy teaching. In other words, good instructors tend to optimize class for the students, while poor instructors tend to optimize class for themselves.
          Last edited by js290; 06-08-2011, 01:02 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Coach Palfrey View Post
            It's not surprising that the majority focus on the machine vs. weights debate - it's the easiest thing for the casual trainee to see and comment on.

            The problem that some educated individuals have with BBS is that they see little transfer between the protocol and natural movement. And they believe that it is not a case of "letting your genetics take care of the rest". The stimuli is important above and beyond simply depleting glycogen.
            BBS is not about "simply depleting glycogen" - they frequently use the term "inroad", and by that they mean primarily microtrauma. Depleting glycogen is the main cause for the metabolic adaptations, microtrauma is the main cause for muscular hypertrophy (according to BBS).
            MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia View Post
              BBS is not about "simply depleting glycogen" - they frequently use the term "inroad", and by that they mean primarily microtrauma. Depleting glycogen is the main cause for the metabolic adaptations, microtrauma is the main cause for muscular hypertrophy (according to BBS).
              Just repeating what was said.
              Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports
              Sandbag Training Guide on Kindle
              The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training
              Brute Force Sandbags
              www.facebook.com/sandbagfitness
              http://fitedia.com/ - Health and Fitness eBooks, video, audio and workshops

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              • #8
                Originally posted by bookstorecowboy View Post
                I remember trying so hard to do multiple sets and work out 3x/week when I was younger, and getting totally depleted. (I have always given 100% to my training, always trained to failure, and always failed when I went beyond once every five days). I couldn't figure out why these idiots kept telling me to work out 3x/week!
                You might have had substantial success if you simply hadn't trained that hard 3x/week. BBS is all about what is the *optimum* strategy - what Tim Ferriss calls the MED (Minimum Effective Dose). I think that many people will do fine on a less intense (read: not reaching failure) protocol 2-3 times a week with multiple sets. My current strategy is to mix it up and to do some HIT workouts infrequently, and to do sub-maximal workouts that are along more traditional lines in between (like the 3-4x6-8 approach, or 5x5, or sometimes bodyweight stuff with a lot more repetitions, like 10x10 push-ups). I have found that I'm not really happy with only going to the gym every 7-10 days - so I try to add more volume without over-doing the intensity.
                MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Coach Palfrey View Post
                  Just repeating what was said.
                  Sure. I'm wondering where people get this idea from (that BBS is first and foremost about depleting glycogen) - I've seen it in several thread, and having read the book several times as well as having watched most of Doug's presentations on YouTube, I fail to see where people get that from.
                  MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                  • #10
                    I actually agree with a lot of Doug's stuff - certainly the theoretical side.
                    Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports
                    Sandbag Training Guide on Kindle
                    The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training
                    Brute Force Sandbags
                    www.facebook.com/sandbagfitness
                    http://fitedia.com/ - Health and Fitness eBooks, video, audio and workshops

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                    • #11
                      ^ I think that you need to keep in mind what BBS wants to achieve: Optimizing health. There are also chapters on training for athletes or body builders, but for the most part they focus on achieving most of the benefits of strength training with the least risk of injury.

                      If you're an athletic guy who wants to be good at typical CrossFit "feats", then clearly BBS will not get you there effectively. However, it might be a valuable addition to your workouts, if done infrequently. In PB terminology it's most similar to "sprint", and serves a similar (or rather: identical) purpose.
                      MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia View Post
                        Sure. I'm wondering where people get this idea from (that BBS is first and foremost about depleting glycogen) - I've seen it in several thread, and having read the book several times as well as having watched most of Doug's presentations on YouTube, I fail to see where people get that from.
                        Glycogen depletion is one of the themes in the book but certainly not it's focus. That's like saying PB is all about glycogen depletion. Just one of the important themes. So I don't get how they would think either is foremost about depleting glycogen stores. I'm just as confused how they arrive at that conclusion.

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                        • #13
                          I am about to move to an apartment that has a workout room with many weight machines, but no free weights. I am considering trying the BBS routines, as I will for the first time have access to weight machines for the Big Five, and they are free, so I may as well try them. I have been doing kettlebells for the last three months, and dumbbell routines before that, so this will be a chance to see how this works for me. I will report back in a few months with the results, good or bad.
                          Bill

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by primal bill-e View Post
                            I have been doing kettlebells for the last three months, and dumbbell routines before that, so this will be a chance to see how this works for me. I will report back in a few months with the results, good or bad.
                            Bill
                            Please do! It will be interesting to see what differences you notice from the different routines.

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                            • #15
                              I think the other reason a lot of posters here focus on the machines vs weights issue is that from the videos I've seen on youtube the rest of the principles are pretty much in-line with what we accept regarding training: intensity, safety, adequate rest. Even the different recommendations for rest between BBS and say Starting Strength are easily explained in that training to failure the way BBS does it is inherently more taxing on the body's systems. That's why you might not see progress on BBS after 5 days of rest but you can add weight to the bar on SS 3 times a week (as long as rest and nutrition are high enough in quantity and quality). Assuming organ mass (and therefore function) track lean body mass the same whether you get it through machines of free weights, the health benefits are going to be there.

                              Whether training on free weights is better than training with machines, how do we measure that? The SAID principle (specific adaption to imposed demand) tells us that if we're going to measure gains by squatting a weight, people who squat will make better gains than people who use the leg press. If we're measuring the way most exercise studies do, with a dynamometer, machines are more similar and will show a greater improvement.

                              Again invoking the SAID principle, it implies that for sports where generally a load is not stabilized by a machine but must be done so manually, free weight training is going to have more carry-over than machine training. Skiing, for example, involves a lot of time spent in what is essentially a half-squat, and making a turn under high speed multiplies the weight of the body being borne by the legs.

                              So differing goals will indicate different ways to get there the best. If (muscle) mass gain is your primary goal then I'm sure that BBS with machines will do that efficiently (though I hear a 20-rep program is pretty effective too). If using that strength is the goal, then even if free weights don't mimic the exact movement pattern you'll be using they do a better approximation, and the coordination of using several muscle groups and joints definitely does carry over. In fact SS does have a short section on doing dead lifts with a rounded back because you won't always be able to get into a mechanically optimal position to lift something off the floor; in that case it makes sense to train it so that when it does happen you can do so safely.

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