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Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

Friday, December 13, 2013

The NEAT part about Moving More

Random Bump!



Original publish date:  4/21/12

In writing up a post on metabolic rate and weight loss, I couldn't help but come across a ton of stuff I had in my draft bin and hard drive vis a vis exercise, lean body mass and metabolic rate.  This got me thinking about the usefulness of ELMM = Eat Less Move More as a strategy to flip the CICO balance along with other things we can do.  

Two things got me thinking on all of this.  Reading the bizarre personal fundraising e-flyer known as Beyond Caloriegate, and watching a Paleo Summit preview video (still free here) of Mark Sisson with Sean Croxton.  I don't know Sean's background, but I'm guessing he was never overweight let alone obese, and we all know Mark never was.  The video starts with a discussion of Primal Blueprint, ketosis, fat burning etc. etc..  In the course of that discussion Mark reveals that he hadn't yet eaten that day, only had coffee with cream.  They then move into a kitchen where they prepare taco-less fish tacos of halibut & spices seared in a bit of oil served atop lettuce leaves for lunch.  Later they go work out doing pushups, squats and pullups on the cabana (nice!).  This is from memory so if there's anything off here, don't shoot me, but feel free to correct.  Somewhere in all this, these two active fit men discuss the whole notion of eating less and moving more.  I don't recall which one brought it up, I think it was Mark who said it's not about ELMM and Sean enthusiastically agreed that he really wanted folks to get away from that thinking and how it's not about that.

Honestly, as much as I have a little infectious smile and personality crushlette on Sean, and can appreciate Mark's appeal (though the whole look screams midlife crisis to me), none of that could prevent me from a little vomit in mouth when I heard this.  Really guys.  You are active and eating not only a healthy meal but a relatively low calorie meal and, in Mark's case, not eating 3 meals a day.  And yet have the nerve to say it's not about ELMM at all?  I know I know, Mark can't tell us enough how unhealthy he was in his youth, but does anyone not think his years as an elite endurance athlete has pretty much everything to do with the body he has now??   He can spin romantic tales of how Grok lived and talk about honoring primal genes all he wants.  Folks following the primal blueprint who lose weight end up eating less and likely moving more than they used to, and one or the other,  if not both, have* to happen for weight loss to occur.  I'm a huge fan of ELMM happening spontaneously, if you can find that trick, but more often than not it doesn't.  The obsession in the community over doing the absolute minimum exercise of only some guru-sanctioned *proper* kind annoys me greatly.  And it especially annoys me when that advice comes from those who have never been overweight, let alone obese.   * Unless of course you're living at the equator and you decide to move to Alaska w/o buying any new clothing, or you soak in ice several hours and don't eat more.

In any case, there's a distinct reactionary attitude in the community against cardio.  In my opinion this does a disservice to those they purport to help, but it's great for marketing funky exercise equipment and workouts.  Now, if one purposely walks for an hour, especially if its at a brisk pace, using a weighted vest, and/or on hilly terrain, we call it cardio exercise.  It fits in with Sisson's "move long and slow" recommendations I suppose, but don't do it too fast or too often.  However if one walked to and from work or school, carrying a briefcase or backpack, suddenly this is not exercise.

We're told that exercise burns few calories so it's pretty useless for weight management ... or is it?

I dug up an unfinished blog post addressing the following study:  Interindividual Posture Allocation: Possible Role in Human Obesity.  Now, you may be wondering how I ever managed to come across this, given the odd title and all, so it's worth mentioning that my source for this was Peter/Hyperlipid:  Energy expenditure in obese vs slim non dieters.  For someone who's always wisecracking against ELMM, it seemed an odd study for him to cite for the purpose of showing obese have higher TDEE's so they should lose weight faster when fasting.  But just how odd became clear when I went to find the full study on cue from his warning that he had altered Fig. 1 of the paper "for clarity".
ABSTRACT:
Obesity occurs when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. Humans expend energy through purposeful exercise and through changes in posture and movement that are associated with the routines of daily life [called nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)].  To examine NEAT’s role in obesity, we recruited 10 lean and 10 mildly obese sedentary volunteers and measured their body postures and movements every half-second for 10 days. Obese individuals were seated, on average, 2 hours longer per day than lean individuals. Posture allocation did not change when the obese individuals lost weight or when lean individuals gained weight, suggesting that it is biologically determined. If obese individuals adopted the NEAT-enhanced behaviors of their lean counterparts, they might expend an additional 350 calories (kcal) per day.

The study involved 20 healthy volunteers, 10 each lean (avg BMI = 23) and mildly obese (avg BMI = 33).  Each group was evenly divided by gender, 5M/5F.  The researchers recruited "self proclaimed couch potatoes".  Further, they "deliberately selected mildly obese subjects who were not incapacitated by their obesity and who had no joint problems or other medical complications of obesity."  The study lasted 10 days generating some 25 million data points on posture and movement for each subject.  NEAT was measured using a stable isotope technique.  So the full, unadulterated, Fig. 1 is shown below:


Now, I can understand getting rid of that arrow for clarity to make Peter's point in his blog post b/c it is confusing if you don't have the bottom right graphic and/or read the full text (that Peter does his best not to point his readers to).  But here's the thing, on the bottom right they break down NEAT into sitting, standing and ambulating (aka walking).   It's also normalized to body weight.  That arrow on the obese bar in the middle and the right represents the differential of what the TDEE would be if they matched the NEAT portion of expenditure of the lean.  

So, first, let's look at the total energy expenditure, TDEE.  That little orange sliver in there is TEF (Thermal Effect of Food).  It appears to be similar for lean and obese despite obese intake roughly 25% higher than lean (assuming calorie balance),  and amounts to about 250 cals/day.  Meanwhile NEAT accounts for at least 3X more of TDEE, and RMR more still.  RMR is said to account for 60-75% of TDEE in most individuals outside deliberate exercisers and is a topic for another day.  TEF, appears to be ~10% for the lean, less still for the obese.  So what this tells me is that attempting to change energy expenditure via manipulation of macronutrients is nonsensical.  It's a tiny portion of the picture, which is likely why in metabolic ward studies "a calorie is a calorie" repeatedly rules.

So that brings us to NEAT.  You see, standing and ambulating as you go about your day is part of NEAT and not just fidgeting as we are so often led to believe.   While the obese have higher RMR's, because they do have more lean mass in addition to more fat mass (though a lower percentage of lean mass), the expanded NEAT chart shows that the obese have considerably lower NEAT.  This seems counter-intuitive.  After all, moving 250 lbs will require more energy than moving 150 lbs, right?  Well, this study demonstrates that the obese don't move their weight nearly as much as their lean counterparts.  In "A" upper left, the sit vs. ambulate bars are almost flipped.  And it bears mentioning that while all participants considered themselves couch potatoes, the obese are much more so in this study.  It's interesting to me that the lean appear to burn more than twice the calories per kg body weight vs. the obese just standing.  This tells me that they stand more actively -- shifting weight, moving upper body, etc.  It was mentioned in the figure caption that there was no difference in the amount of time the two groups slept.

Forgetting cause and effect, "B" upper right is a pretty darned dramatic representation of the correlation between activity and body fat. (Note: open diamonds = women, black = men)   If that's not graphic enough for you, then if the picture at right -- hat tip Nigel Kinbrum, from this study -- doesn't get you thinking about moving more and body fat management, I don't know what will!    On the bottom is a 70 y.o. triathlete -- talk about your chronic cardio that's supposedly so damaging to your health.  And above that, looking like the sort of well-marbled steak most low carbers dream about, is a 74 y.o. sedentary man.  On top is an "old" (if you ask Jimmy) 40 y.o. triathlete.  Looks to me that the much maligned cardio is pretty effective for maintaining lean mass and avoid accumulating fat mass.

However discussing triathletes is a bit off topic for the point of this post which is that NEAT is a huge component of one's energy expenditure, and is really what the MM part of ELMM is, or should be, about.  To reverse obesity and keep it reversed, to discourage thinking about moving more is bordering on malpractice as far as I'm concerned.  Many of us humans do not have much choice about our activity during work hours if we have sedentary jobs.  Those with sedentary jobs should probably look at exercise as mandatory to compensate for lower NEAT unless they can adopt some coping strategies for sitting all day long.

Now, there's no way to know if the obese were always more couch potato-ey than their lean counterparts and this contributed to them getting that way or not.  Based on my own life experiences I see this as probably a mixed bag.  If one is forced sedentary for work and/or long commutes, or spends too much time in sedentary recreation -- TV, video games, computer-ing -- I don't see how it cannot contribute to some degree to weight gain.  Yet I also think gaining weight contributes to becoming more sedentary.  In my case as I gained weight I became less social.  The more reclusive a person is spending time in their home the lower their NEAT is bound to be.  At some point, excess weight then becomes physically limiting.  Even if these mildly obese didn't have joint "problems", extra weight does stress the joints.  The length of time I could stand on my feet before they hurt has always correlated highly with how long I stand or sit.  It also is far more laborious to ambulate up a flight of stairs when it's like you have 5-10 bags of cat litter strapped to your body.  It becomes a vicious cycle.  I have been both lean and obese during my lifetime and can relate first hand to both.

Humans are creatures of habit.  Especially in our modern world.  Many of us eat three meals a day out of habit.  We eat 2 or 3 eggs for breakfast because we always do.  Or we eat a snack at 3pm like clockwork. We don't even think about if we're hungry or not.  Our activity habits are no different really.  I lost the bulk of my weight in around 10 months or so.  While I naturally became more active as my weight dropped, one habit stuck -- sitting down.  I found myself often sitting when those around me were standing, and as I became aware of this, I started standing more.  This was deliberate and no doubt increased my NEAT.  I still find myself now four years later  having to fight the urge to sit down (this has been complicated of late by an ankle injury that's not too happy with long periods of weight bearing).  Since I've been spending a LOT of time blogging and researching, I use my standing desk (took the computer off my Gazelle and mounted a small cutting board in it's place that fits my mini.  I can use it on the Gazelle or standing behind it).  I make sure to get up and walk often, preferably out the door and around the property.  Before the ankle thing I would run up my stairs and back down on the way to the kitchen and do "Flash dance" for the time the microwave was heating something up.  I do not consider this or deliberate walks to be exercise, I consider this mandatory compensation for the requisite sitting on my butt when standing is not an option.

The bottom line, MM is probably essential for the obese at some point along the way.  I don't care about all those who boast losing massive pounds with no exercise.  Almost every obese person is going to have to move more to reverse their obesity or they're going to have to eat even less.   If you spontaneously increase NEAT, guess what?  You're moving more.  But if old habits die hard, then imagine how quickly the lean couch potatoes would become obese ones if they were forced to adopt the NEAT-related behaviors of the obese ones.  You're going to have to move more in deliberate fashion if you don't intend to have eat less and less as you age to keep the weight off.  More power to the outlier or three who don't have to.  And if you have constraints -- required or by choice -- on NEAT, then you may just have to do the dreaded:  Exercise!  Here is where all of these 2 minute a week workouts and even the HIIT will fall short for you.  They may work to maintain lean mass or improve insulin sensitivity or whatever the claims are.  They simply aren't sufficient to do much if anything about your likely NEAT-deficit.  Meanwhile purposeful moving will.  I don't get how my short bouts of movement around the house are NEAT, but if I walk out my front door into the street and combine them into one deliberate hour walk it's called exercise ... and even "chronic cardio" by some.

And I REALLY don't get men like Mark and Sean thinking that getting people NOT to think in terms of ELMM is something to aspire to.  I guess it's easier than trying to sell the truth to obese people....

Up to do a little movin' myself, catcha later in the comments!

145 comments:

Andy said...

Great post. I'm with you on those in the paleosphere trying to get away on with the bare minimum movement possible.. But one of Sisson's Primal Blueprint laws is to move around frequently at a slow pace for 2-5 hours a week. I would think this qualifies as meeting sufficient amount of NEAT . That's what makes PB such brilliant marketing, with its fasting, sprinting, lifting of heavy things, NEAT, and satiating foods, it's ELMM in disguise.


BTW, what is a Gazelle?

Beth@WeightMaven said...

I'm not sure that the paleosphere is trying to get away with bare minimum movement possible. Frankly, the whole sedentary kills thing is going thru like wildfire in that community (where you practically have less cred if you don't use a standing desk).

And like Andy, I don't think a one-hour walk, even a brisk one, counts as chronic cardio even by Mark Sisson (he includes that in his low and slow or "low level aerobic work."

And while I've got quibbles with Sisson's carb curve and food pyramid, I am quite fond of his fitness pyramid.

I have come around to believing that exercise is essential for long-term weight loss, but not because of CICO. I think it's more related to signaling the kind of body you want ... it's more like a move it or lose it. For example, check out this paper about appetite regulation and movement or this meta-analysis of activity and FTO gene expression.

Like you, I'm all about the NEAT these days. I have a 20-minute timer on my computer that I use to build movement in. And my new route to the ladies loo is not the direct 75-step route, I now walk to the other side of the building, down a floor, back to my side of the building, and up a floor. It's been great rehab for my back too ;).

But having been exercise bulemic back in the day, I'm in no big rush to go back to my days of grinding out hundreds of calories on the elliptical or stairmaster!

ProudDaddy said...

If more NEAT increases my TDEE by X amount, what guarantee do I have that my metabolic homeostasis mechanism won't adjust by the same amount? (Yes, I know that this sounds a lot like GT saying exercise makes you hungry, but what's the saying about the blind squirrel?) My contentions have been proven wrong enough times for me to add "just asking":-)

Unknown said...

My wife and I took a vacation to Asia (Malaysia and Thailand)in 2010. We were on our feet several hours a day, and walked a lot. We ate when we were hungry which seemed like a lot. I was 60 at the time, my wife 57. We are not overweight and work out routinely, cardio and some weights. After 3 weeks of this, we came home and found we were exactly the same weight as when we left, in spite of eating more food, more often.
What we did was drive less, walk more, and eat real meals when we were hungry, which included lots of white rice. Snacks were mostly fruit, (with an occasional mango shake, yum)
NEAT works, and I believe calories count, a lot. But calorie counting seems doomed to failure for most. I am becoming more convinced that our American lifestyle of car centric commuting and constant snacking while sitting is our undoing.
IOW, we live in a toxic environment. Maybe some bodies/brains cannot regulate intake in this environment with these food choices and sedentary lifestyle.

AgingHippie said...

http://www.ergo-log.com/paleodiet.html

Losing weight is easier on the paleo diet than the widely praised Mediterranean diet. Swedish researchers at the University of Lund discovered that men who were allowed to eat as much as they wanted consumed 1823 kcal per day on a Mediterranean diet – but on the paleo diet they could only manage 1388 kcal.

http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/7/1/85
A paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease

ProudDaddy said...

I have a problem with most of the short-term appetite studies I've seen. Some of us will take a brisk walk and be hungry immediately. Others will say their hunger is abated by exercise for quite some time. In my case, hunger is abated initially but increases the next day. And there is always the problem of how hunger is measured. If there is a study involving free-feeding over an extended period, I'd really be interested in it. (Yes, Evelyn, I'm changing my shtick from strength to hunger!)

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Hi Beth, I was aware of his recs but couldn't find the "definitive guide" to it on his website on a quick search. Thanks for the links. But here's the problem I'm having, from your low level aerobic work link, he titles that "A Case against cardio".

He writes: the popular wisdom of the past 40 years – that we would all be better off doing 45 minutes to an hour a day of intense aerobic activity – has created a generation of overtrained, underfit, immune-compromised exerholics.

I don't know that the popular wisdom has been INTENSE aerobic activity, rather moderate. Which is my point, because even walking for an hour 6 days a week either at a brisk pace, with weighted vest, walking poles/hand weights swinging and/or up hills is hardly overtraining. And I've yet to see how he was "unfit" doing it!! I mean there's a difference between what his training as an endurance athlete was and what qualifies for regular exercise for the rest of us. Lots of folks read that blog post and think feh ... I don't need no stinkin' cardio, or they don't even bother to read it just look at the title!

Uggh ... Sisson needs to go back to Bio 101 and fix that post big time. Fatty acid oxidation produces ATP. All energy is "ATP fueled" ... sheez!

Anyway, yeah he says walking is OK, but even moderate intensity is to be avoided it seems? Huh??

If Andy is correct that the rec is 2-5 hours peer WEEK, that won't do it for the NEAT as the obese stand/ambulate roughly 3 hrs per DAY less than their lean *couch potato* counterparts!!

I dunno ... maybe it's cuz running was never my strong suit (the mini tri I completed in 91 -- granted I totally tanked during the run -- still I "ran" three 11 minute miles LOL.) but I've never had too many issues with exercising my butt off and repetitive stress issues. I was not prone to getting sick when I had practices lasting several hours with all manner of drills and scrimmages then sometimes even walked or jogged home a couple miles. I'm with you and Mark that endless hours of cardio to burn calories is not the best, but he ultimately comes off as discouraging that which may well be the difference between maintaining and gaining.

I've got at least one more possibly two posts related to this.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

See my reply to Beth below regarding 2-5 hrs per week. Not enough if to make up for a NEAT deficiency!

Gazelle Here's Tony Little on his http://elliptical-machines-reviews.org/wp-content/uploads/aes/Elliptical-Machines-Reviews_190.jpg
I have the basic one which, when I bought it, was actually not a bad piece of equipment for the money. I was quite heavy at the time and it is really sturdy. Problem is that it's not really good for more than a short period of time as it strained my knees. However it makes a great standing desk. Between the handles is a crossbar where there are already holes to mount the computer. I took it off and got a long bolt and nut and mounted a small cutting board (I could have cut a piece of wood, but why bother - grin). I can stand on the Gazelle and mostly I just stand and sometimes isometrically pull back to hold myself in a position, or rock using my arms, etc.etc. Standing on the other side on the ground I can walk in place, etc. Now all of this is OK if I'm reading something or writing short things, but I find a standing desk difficult for composing long posts.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I just came across a great study that looked at exercise/activity and homeostasis. It improves it!

A lot of the studies are too short in duration to see this perhaps. Many I've come across see no weight loss with increased activity b/c folks compensate by eating more. However some of that compensation is intentional (I worked out today, I'm going to reward myself with Dairy Queen).

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

This study gets raised often. If one looks at the full text of the original study, they see that the paleo diet is neither very low carb, nor very high fat as many who cite it would like to imply (ahem ... Nora Gedgaudas in her book :( ).

The absolute protein intake is identical (~90g) while the paleo diet was 27.9% protein vs. 20.5%. Meanwhile fat intake is less overall (42 vs. 50g) but a slightly higher percent (26.9 v 24.7%). YIKES!!! Sounds almost low fat to me!! Now carbs were considerably less overall (132 vs. 231g) but only modestly lower as a percent (40.2 vs. 51.7)

My money's on the protein -- animal protein -- in the context of adequate fat consumption and bulk from fruits (almost twice the weight consumed) and veggies (over 1.5X the weight consumed).

Rob said...

@unknown

I've had a similar experience and I think it's pretty common when people go on vacation although I'm sure the reverse happens too. I went to Las Vegas with a buddy of mine last year and other than the 8 hours of total sleep we got in those 2 days, we were drinking the entire time. And in between drinking we scarfed down burgers and fries. We were also constantly walking from casino to casino, from our hotel to the strip, etc.

When I came home I weighed the exact same.

Unknown said...

I've gotten my running mileage up to 25 per week despite being much older than OMG I'M OLD Jimmy Moore, plus several hours per week of weightlifting. This after many years of being sedentary. Getting great results from it.

The thing is that it has been HARD, really really hard. And you can't sell really, really hard, there is no market for it. I get up at 4 a.m. every day of the week to get my exercise in before work, nobody wants to do that.
If you publish a book called "The 10 Really Difficult Hours A Week Body" it will languish on the shelves, people want "The 4 Minute A Week Body."

The goal is to look like you spend a lot of time exercising, without having to spend a lot of time actually exercising.

So they tell you to avoid chronic exercise and to make sure you get enough sleep.

bentleyj74 said...

Also the med diet contains lots of quite palatable things like bread and pasta that people do tend to over eat moreso than veggies and fruits. Even if only a few extra bites at a time...calorie dense foods will add up.

bentleyj74 said...

Yep, or their blown so they move less the next few days than they ordinarily would and so on and so forth. Neat type movement seems to fly under the radar of the homeostasis nanny more easily, no? :)

ProudDaddy said...

If improving homeostasis is a mechanism involved in weight loss via exercise, then calories burned might play a secondary role in all but the more extreme-duration forms. (No one denies that you will lose weight running 20 miles a day.) So, maybe the idea that intensity can trump duration is not so far-fetched. Let's ask Adel.

bentleyj74 said...

They're [eyeroll]

Sanjeev said...

> paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a mediterranean-like

what, slathering olive oil and Feta cheese all over everything may not be the best idea?

geeez ... get real. next you'll be telling me not to add coconut oil & kerrygold GRASS FED butter (or coconut fed butter) to everything

Beth@WeightMaven said...

I'm not sure that the obese need to stand/ambulate as much as their lean counterparts ... at least initially. It's entirely possible that NEAT comes around as weight comes down.

I think 2-5 hrs/week isn't horribly off the mark in terms of intentional physical activity (walking, biking, hiking, etc). My goal is to get to 10000 steps a day of walking (and not necessarily briskly) to go with my HIIT and resistance training.

Sanjeev said...

I see a new diet bestseller ...
the "reduce your fat, reduce your muscle, increase your liver size" diet.

Sanjeev said...

> can't sell really, really hard, there is no market for it
________
there is a market, but it's
1. small
2. mostly self-served, self-limiting (they spend too much time working too hard so don't have time or energy to go look for advice)
3. not easily or quickly parted from its money

ProudDaddy said...

Methinks that macronutrient proportions are not the main characteristics we should be looking at, except for special cases like diabetes. Before the white man brought flour and sugar to the Innuit and Kitavans, there were no, none, zip, cases of obesity in their midst. (I get a kick out of the LC proponents who argue that since qualified doctors did not perform autopsies on them, we can't be sure they were healthy. I don't think you have to be a neurosurgeon, dude, to recognize morbid obesity, but I digress.) Healthy cultures can be found getting 90% of their calories from fat, while others get 65% of theirs from carbs. Put these same folks on a SAD and watch them balloon! (And attributing this to genes without any evidence seems to me somewhat racist.)
And while I'm on a macronutrient rant, I'd like to criticise the way fats are categorized for diet purposes. It seems to me that chain length might in many cases trump saturation type, but how many studies are specific to chain length?
So, there's something wrong with the SAD, and maybe we can't figure out why simply because we've categorized things wrong.

Sanjeev said...

> maybe it's cuz running was never my strong suit

One of the few damage things I buy (unlike "metabolic damage") is when friends who were certifiably addicted and were in cross country in middle & high school tell me they want to run but their grinding knee/hip/lumbar joints won't let them.

Running: one of the things I never wished I had started doing when young. I've wished I had started wrestling or judo or gymnastics before age 12 but I'm definitely glad I was too much of a sloth to run.

Rob said...

LOL

AgingHippie said...

Jimmy is at it again - the smug self-righteous know it all

http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/pictures-worth-more-than-a-thousand-words-for-april-2012/14044

Wright Mind said...

@Sanjeev: I was watching Paula Deen's homage to butter episode yesterday (April 20) on the food network and she put butter in everything, in large amounts. And it hit me: she reminded me of Jimmy Moore! You know, three tablespoons of butter for each half sweet potato.

She had a recipe for biscuits that consisted of two cups of butter, one cup of sour cream, some salt, and two cups of flour. Now if I understand my low carb dogma correctly, the biscuits would be fattening because of... the flour. Her grits and shrimp recipe was low carb except for the grits. Two sticks of butter, some shrimp, onions, garlic, spices and the fattening grits.

I swear I thought I was watching the Jimmy Deen show.

Beth@WeightMaven said...

Here's another interesting study that suggests that simply avoiding uninterrupted sitting is useful wrt postprandial glucose and insulin levels.

Karen said...

ummmm am I mistaken or is the ad to the right of the blog exactly what he is complaining about? Am I missing something? How to detox to be like the marathon guy. It is an ad isnt it?

Karen said...

just left a comment for Jimmy. Bet it doesnt get published! LOL

Woodey said...

"They then move into a kitchen where they prepare taco-less fish tacos of halibut & spices seared in a bit of oil served atop lettuce leaves for lunch. Later they go work out doing pushups, squats and pullups on the cabana (nice!). "

Sounds like a premise for a gay porno, or a serious bromance is brewing.

Woodey said...

@Aging I keep reading "Jimmy is a nice guy" and other comments along those lines. Bottom line is he is lying, self righteous, arrogant, and aiding in helping people not get healthy. What's so nice about that?

I somehow got through the pictures and captions in one piece, but I didn't bother with the butt-lick fest that followed in the comments. "Oh Jimmy it tastes just like Butter Pecan ice cream."

Woodey said...

Now I got sausage on my mind.....and not Jimmy's!

Woodey said...

"..it especially annoys me when that advice comes from those who have never been overweight, let alone obese.....in my opinion this does a disservice to those they purport to help, but it's great for marketing funky exercise equipment and workouts."

@Carb you might enjoy this episode by Penn and Teller. This is link one the rest you can get on the site.
http://www.trilulilu.ro/video-vedete/penn-and-teller-bullshit-exercise-vs-genetics-1-3

Sanjeev said...

+1 OMG

I was watching some Wade Schalles (or here) instructional videos on my computer once and my GF asked what it was & I said "gay porn"

add the commenter's handle

+999 LOL

Sanjeev said...

Fred Hahn & Mike Eades probably want to get into this too.

Craig in CT said...

I've noticed that the notion that 'too much sitting is dangerous' has suddenly gotten a lot of attention in the popular press. Not sure why? Maybe just a bandwagon effect on the part of news editors???

In any case, I do think there is something important here, something that probably does explain some of the rise in the diseases of affluence which occurs once a society industrializes. I did read a short blurb from "The Blue Zones" which suggested an association between longevity and lifestyles which involved a lot of low to moderate intensity activity - walking, food collection, farming/gardening, etc. So perhaps this kind of low level activity may be even more important than those occasional bits of intense activity (lifting, sprinting) that paleo fans advocate.

The ELMM discussion did bring back a memory for the 1970's, when I was doing a bit of backpacking in Vermont. I spent some time chatting with a couple who were hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. One of the biggest problems they were having was keeping their weight up. They carried as much food as they could, and also resupplied along the route. But inevitably, they just could not eat enough to meet their calorie needs. I believe the guy said that on a 45 day stretch of hiking, he had unintentionally dropped something like 25LBS, and ended up with his clothes just hanging off him.

In that same vein, I remember a TV show on PBS called Frontier House. They took a number of suburban families and transplanted them back to a late 19th century frontier lifestyle. One of the things that happened was that all of the participants lost weight. Some even became alarmed at how quickly the weight was falling off, and needed to be told (by a Doctor) that being that lean was actually normal and healthy.

I do wonder if this link between inactivity and adverse health effects is a general issue with all mammals, or something more species specific. I ask this because of some things I have seen written about large predators like tigers. My impression is that that if they aren't hunting, tigers are basically sleeping or resting. Aimless movement, not done for the purpose of acquiring more food, just wastes calories and increases the need to engage in hunting, an activity that is dangerous (risk of injury) even for a large predator. So are these long stretches of inactivity as dangerous to these big cats as they are to us humans?

garymar said...

Well, when the tigers are laying around, they're not eating Doritos, are they?

Tonus said...

My guess is that predators in the wild do not eat regularly. They depend on availability of food sources and on a bit of luck in catching and killing their next meal (and in the case of some, protecting that meal from other predators) to stay fed. They've probably developed highly efficient metabolisms for the sake of survival; with food so scarce and requiring considerable effort to acquire, wasted energy is literally life-threatening.

'Paleo man' may well have been lean and sinewy for the same reasons. An irregular eating schedule and infrequent but highly-stressful periods of intense exercise would have prevented weight gain in a group that hunted for all or part of its sustenance. Both examples are, IMO, very different from a society where we eat and work on a predictable daily schedule.

Beth@WeightMaven said...

And one more on inactivity on insulin action.

ProudDaddy said...

@Carbsane: My money's on the animal protein also, but I still wouldn't bet against the absence of cereal grains. (And, yes, wrt satiety only.) After all, the biggest difference in the diets was in the cereal content. I realize I might get placed on your B-list for suggesting this (if I'm not there already), but maybe Wheat Belly has got some things right.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I loved watching Big Cat Diary on Animal Planet. They follow some year to year (my favorite was Half Tail -- we named our similarly equipped chipmunk by that name). Quite often it's "it's been days since so and so had a meal". I'm not sure cats are a good comparison to how humans should behave as they sleep more than most animals.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I lost weight if anything on my recent vacation and, because it was an all inclusive, drank quite a bit more alcohol than I would normally AND ate 3 meals almost every day, which I also almost never do (especially breakfast). I didn't walk as much as usual but when I think about it, just walking back and forth to restaurants, swimming in the pool (to the swim up bar - grin) and frankly showering off 2-3X per day, etc. is more NEAT than I generally get even with my movement breaks.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

You're killing yourself y'know!! LOL.

Yeah, folks don't want really really hard. They'd rather look at Dave on MDA -- who has undergone an amazing transformation -- and buy in ...

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I can't stand these posts by Jimmy. For all the "don't make fun of fat people" stuff he posts dare someone point out that most prominent low carb advocates remain overweight, he does it routinely. Andreas Eenfeldt got called a bit on his sneering at fat people he photogged on line at the frozen yogurt stand either at the airport or on the LC cruise. Is the guy blind?

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Awww c'mon ;-) I'd never put you down for suggesting that!! I don't think grains per se are the problem, it's making flour from them and making rather caloric dense palatable foods from them. Ukrainians have a dish called kutchya that's eaten on Christmas eve -- whole wheat kernels, honey, poppy seeds and walnuts. I could not overeat this, perhaps some can, but even sweetened it's just damn filling for me. I imagine eating whole wheat -- not whole wheat flour mixed with butter, egg, sugar and flavors -- is quite satiating. I find steel cut oatmeal immensely filling for me even without much added protein (I don't do milk so I make with almond milk).

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Stop! LOL

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Also, on BCD, they frequently worried over the survival of the cats and the cubs when food was scarce. Unless we're going to become true survivalists, live out in the wild and gather/hunt for food, sleep is probably somewhat overrated.

On the sitting thing -- as with everything, the media will go on a kick for a while which means it's probably somewhat less critical than the alarmism, but in this case I think there's something to all of this. Even if humans evolved millions of years ago as carnivorous predators, we've clearly adapted elsewise.

ProudDaddy said...

So I can assume that you would consider the idea that modern wheat has opioid-like qualities to be highly suspect? (And thanks for not putting me down. I just think that the rise, ne even appearence, of Diseases of Civilization was so sudden and so dramatic that something changed like a switch.)

Woodey said...

@Sanjeev that's too funny.

I think something like "Low Carb Cinemas Presents Hot Tub Excursions" would be a good title for a movie starring all four.

Woodey said...

@Evelyn My first impression of Jimmy's picture page was he's self righteous and critical of over weight people. Something I thought was a little odd given his size. Also the picture with the fast food wrappers being used to indicate bad health seems odd considering Naughton did a whole movie focusing on how you can eat fast food and be healthy.

bentleyj74 said...

I consider it suspect [after all I never sat down with a canister of poppy seeds and a spoon how about you? ;P] and worse I consider it yet another predatory distortion of a known contributor by a snake oil salesman...wheat flour is pulverized which increases it's calorie density and it's palatability. This can be applied universally from wheat flour to mashed potatoes to banana smoothies. Easier to consume in larger quantities [especially if you add fats and seasonings], easier to digest, and darn it we like them. Intact grains are a completely different story. A lot of supposed grain addicts would rather take a punch to the jaw than consume unadorned intact cooked grains.

Steph said...

I'm not generally looking for the easy way out re: exercise - my habit for a long time has been to be doing a DVD or walking the treadmill about 6 monrnings a week, for a half our workout.

But I ordered Body by Science, on Matt Stone's recommendation, and I was really intrigued by the notion that I would get much better health benefits by lifing weights "to failure" for a 12 minute workout, once a week, and having that be my only formal "exercise" (otherwise leading a reasonably active life, chasing kids, housekeeping, walks, etc.). I started this past week, and am going to give this a go for a few months.

I'd be curious to see if anyone else has looked at Doug McGuff and has an opinion on this.

Sanjeev said...

I find much of McGuff's stuff suspect. Just take the "to failure" thing as ONE example

that really doesn't achieve what you think it does ... you're NOT training what you really want to train, and you are training something that almost no one needs to train.

when you "work a muscle to failure" it's NOT the muscle that fails in any sense. Not the contractile elements, none of the energy producing elements ... NOTHING about the muscle fails. It feels like it but it just ain't so.


What fails (overused such that one must rest a long time to restore it) are the motor neuron end plates. This fact's been known for more than 60 years. The end plates fail and the muscle remains UNDER TRAINED. This is why no real strength athletes train this way. What needs training doesn't get trained, what gets trained doesn't need to be trained.

You can kind of prove it to yourself - do curls one time to failure, then a week later use the same weight but stop 2 or 3 reps short. rest 10 minutes and do it again. You can easily lift 10 times the weight (sets times reps times weight).

If you don't take out that one small weak link in the chain, you can easily get get TEN TIMES the work out of the system.

peruse some textbooks

another search to get you started on the terms to search for, if you want more.

This is why no competing strength athlete[0] (track sprinters, throwers (shot putt, javelin), powerlifters) ... trains to failure regularly. As far as I know no competing power lifters have trained to failure for decades now. There may be rare workouts that incorporate failure for some specific reason but it's not regularly pursued.

researchers work out their subjects to failure to control the level of work being done. NOT for any beneficial effect of the failure.

Just do 2 hard sets (not one to failure).

Walk away from the gym with a normal gait. IMHO working to failure, the way it gets promoted in lots of bodybuilding culture is one reason a lot of folks quit after a month of exercise. The mentality of "fail or you're wasting your time" can be very damaging.

(I'm not saying YOU should train like a strength athlete, just using what those communities have learned to show the failure thing is NOT what it's sold as)

[0] doesn't include bodybuilders

Sanjeev said...

> Just do 2 hard sets (not one to failure).

and when you get stronger, do 3, then 4 ... none to failure

Sanjeev said...

> NOTHING about the muscle fails

One other example occurred to me: for a while some bodybuilders were training to failure (not one set, by the way ... failing at the end of 10 sets is a different thing) and then zapping the muscle with electro-stim.

Muscles that could barely twitch after failure would contract so hard they felt like rock.

Why? because the muscle could still go on and on and on ... for hours. Nothing about the muscle failed, the end plates failed.

Bypass the end plates with electronic stimulation and voila ... the muscle can contract like gangbusters.

People get fooled and believe some whacked out ideas because the sensation matches the story. But unfortunately that story's fiction.

ProudDaddy said...

Steph, I also read Body by Science and incorporated some of Doug's ideas into my workouts. I wouldn't take Sanjeev's comments as gospel anymore than Doug's (or mine, for that matter). I measure each exercise I do as time under load, and I do no more than 2 sets per. At 70, twice weekly is the max I can do and get enough recovery to progress. What's really important is that you do SOMETHING. I don't think the science fully supports the idea that 12 minutes a week is enough, but I wouldn't be so quick to label this a "whacked out idea". For someone who looks to the science, gives you references, and doesn't resort to name-calling, I suggest you follow Prof Dr Andro's blog, Suppversity.com.

ProudDaddy said...

And when you consult anyone, keep in mind what your goal is. Assuming it is to be healthy and to forestall things like sarcopenia, know that you probably don't need to do the workouts of a professional body builder.

foodteacher said...

Evelyn,
I've really enjoyed these last few posts and the comments. For what it's worth, it's caused me to attempt giving up my one a day soda habit (it's used to much bigger) and I'm standing in front of my computer as I speak!
The BBC Horizon program recently did a program about high intensity workouts, genetics and NEA. a great show, I recommend seeing it. perhaps it's on youtube.

Unknown said...

ProudDaddy,
What you said. @62 I'm trying to stay fit to keep up with grand kids and dogs. I have read McGuff and Little's work. I do 3-4 sets per muscle group 2x wk, and yes, I do some cardio, because after about 40 years of exercising in various ways this gives me the most bang for the time spent. I also think the evidence for cardio exercise is very solid.
Clarence Bass has some recent studies on his site about #sets for best results.
McGuff is right that strength training has been hugely overlooked, and is critical, esp. as we age. OTOH, McGuff and Little dismiss most of conventional exercise physiology. This should raise a red flag, just like the paleo stuff.
Mutt50

Steph said...

Thanks guys for the feedback! I'm going to try the BBS program for a time and see how it goes, and study up some. I'm not following the BBS dietary guidelines, as I'm finding I do much better on high carb.

Evelyn, I will be very interested in your upcoming posts on resistance training.

Woodey said...

Thank you for the blog and posting the study.

When I was part of the low carb community I would every once in a while bring up calories and ask what would happen if we ate more energy than the body needed. I never got a straight answer, or one that made perfect sense. Also, when I would get a reference it would be to a blog site that was full of opinions and nothing to show some sort of proof.

I asked Jimmy point blank about calories in/out and he responded with some links that really offered very little of an explanation.

One recommendation was to a doctor's blog who said that he had a patient on 6000-8000 calories a day and who still lost weight. The doctor offered nothing to back up the claim. Actually none of Jimmy's referrals did. I never responded back to him and gave up trying to get a straight answer.

This is the link to the Dr Jimmy gave me:
http://drjamescarlson.com/content.aspx?idx=44

Seems the new rage (old for all I know) is the "body is not a closed system" line, Harcombe loves to yak about that.

I come here and I get straight answers.

Woodey said...

I'm starting to think there's a growing amount of people involved in the low carb community using it as a tool to maintain their critical attitude towards over weight people. As if people like myself don't get enough of it already from the media and general populace.

There's been a couple of times that I called out people on their biased attitude towards over weight people. One person on Jimmy Moore's Facebook page said that he thought over weight people were sugar addicts and how he would like to go up to them on the street and tell it to their face. Looking back I don't know how he could post something like that on Jimmy's page given how huge Jimmy is, not to mention I was surprised Jimmy didn't speak up....well its not surprising anymore.

Pretty pathetic when a community that is supposed to be a haven for the obese and people trying to get healthy have to put up with that kind of s**t.

BHI said...

I think this might be it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ePQfit3EQU&feature=channel&list=UL there are 5 of them

BHI said...

Excellent post Evelyn! It's surprising that a standing computer desk is an idea that's never even occurred to me. I need to invest in one of those asap. Only today I was painfully aware of having and giving in to the urge to sit down when 5 family members around me remained standing in the kitchen.

Now that I really think about it, I can finally stop wondering why my husband eats plenty of crap in a bag but remains annoyingly slim. He literally paces from one end of the room to the other while listening to music, watching the box, talking on the phone, all activities I do seated.

Also our 2 year old never sits. Some days her only sitting session of the day is when she's told off for something and we make her sit in the naughty corner for half an hour!

It's strange that in spite of hearing ELMM for years, I never grasped the concept of the MM part in quite this way until you pointed it out in the post!

Harry said...

Notwithstanding ProudDaddy's charitable stance (which I generally endorse), as a person whose sole business is to achieve body composition results for people, I can assure you Sanjeev is dead right...the notion that 12 minutes per week is sufficient for strength training is a completely whacked out idea.

In addition to Sanjeev's comments regarding motor neurons as the site for performance failure (as opposed to true 'muscular' failure) there are also two other relevant factors that lead to the termination of effort on any given set; namely pain threshold and cardio-vascular fatigue.

In short, it gets pretty unpleasant to keep lifting when your muscles feel like they are burning and when you feel like you're having a coronary event. Neither of these sensations, however, have anything to do with true 'muscular' fatigue (i.e. they do not reflect fatigue on the contractile elements of the muscle).

In most debates of this sort, both sides have something useful to contribute. Not this time.

If you want to stimulate significantly positive muscular adaptations (i.e. noticeable ones), 12 minutes per week is not going to do much (but it is 12 minutes better than nothing, so it will provoke some adaptation).

While all of these things operate on a gradient, I would recommend 1 and a half hours per week of strength training, at the very least, for noticeable strength and hypertrophy adaptations.

Cheers,
Harry

KD said...

I've found the BBS type workouts to be extremely effective for my goals- gaining strength and general fitness. I can't speak to the science behind the claims, but in my case at least I'm far stronger in my late 30's than I've ever been in my life. I dont look like a bodybuilder, but I've certainly gained muscle and I definitely see a huge improvement in my general fitness. Without running a step for training I was able to quickly carry about 15 pounds of luggage up 3 flights of stairs without really straining or breathing hard- that experience a few months into the BBS training was what convinced me I was onto something. I can also crank out 8 pullups with 50 pounds tied to my waist- before I started I could barely do 1 with no weight added.

I could be that this 'works' the same way that low carb 'works' ie. by doing some challenging exercise I'm getting the same benefit that I would have gotten by doing other sorts of challenging exercise in a different way, so I'm giving credit to the wrong thing. But sort of like when I started losing weight on low carb, if I'm getting stronger, feeling good and it's taking about 20 minutes a week out of my time, I'm not going to spend too much time worrying about it. The difference here is that low carb stopped working for me pretty quickly so I had to face facts and reevaluate, BBS has been going strong for 2 years of gains. My only complaint would be that my physique doesn't look as strong as I am, but that's a pretty weak objection I think and most likely something I should take up with my parents :)

To be completely fair, I've ventured off the single set on a machine to failure model here and there after about a year of progress with it, but BSS talks more about the principals of short, intense and infrequent, than saying machines have to be part of it. For me at least the principal has held completely true, I never go more than once a week for more than about 20 minutes at absolute most in the gym- and certainly no traditional cardio. For what it's worth, I've gotten my wife and a few friends to try it to and they've all had a positive experience.

Harry said...

@ Steph

Notwithstanding ProudDaddy's charitable stance (which I generally endorse), as a person whose sole business is to achieve body composition results for people, I can assure you Sanjeev is dead right...the notion that 12 minutes per week is sufficient for strength training is a completely whacked out idea.

In addition to Sanjeev's comments regarding motor neurons as the site for performance failure (as opposed to true 'muscular' failure) there are also two other relevant factors that lead to the termination of effort on any given set; namely pain threshold and cardio-vascular fatigue.

In short, it gets pretty unpleasant to keep lifting when your muscles feel like they are burning and when you feel like you're having a coronary event. Neither of these sensations, however, have anything to do with true 'muscular' fatigue (i.e. they do not reflect fatigue on the contractile elements of the muscle).

In most debates of this sort, both sides have something useful to contribute. Not this time.

If you want to stimulate significantly positive muscular adaptations (i.e. noticeable ones), 12 minutes per week is not going to do much (but it is 12 minutes better than nothing, so it will provoke some adaptation).

While all of these things operate on a gradient, I would recommend 1 and a half hours per week of strength training, at the very least, for noticeable strength and hypertrophy adaptations.

@KD

"in my case at least I'm far stronger" and "My only complaint would be that my physique doesn't look as strong as I am, but that's a pretty weak objection I think and most likely something I should take up with my parents :)"

Strength adaptations are largely neurological, while size adaptation (hypertrophy) is at the muscular level. Neurological adaptation occurs in response to high intensity training (i.e. magnitude of the load) while significant hypertrophy requires a fairly large total volume of work (i.e. magnitude of the load multiplied by how many times you lift it over a week, month, year).

So, it's not at all surprising that your strength gains are outstripping your muscular gains...in short, your brain has gotten stronger/more efficient even with the relatively small amount of work, but your muscles are still undertrained.

Cheers,
Harry

KD said...

Thanks for the reply Harry. I'll try ramping up the workouts for awhile to see what happens. When I was younger I did much a much higher volume of weight training without much in the way of real size gains but it certainly wasn't any sort of professional program and looking back the big thing I didn't pay enough attention to was progression. I'm a little bit skeptical that my genetics allow for much more because I think my strength levels are well beyond the beginner's gains already so I feel like my size may be more genetically limited than training limited, but I sure hope you're right!

foodteacher said...

Yep, that's it. When the doctor comes on to talk about NEAT, he himself doesn't stop moving. He wears trainers with his suit, exaggerates his movements and can read how fast people are moving per hour. That really did it for me. Practice what he preaches.

Leighan said...

I don't get why everyone is so reluctant to exercise, then again that could just be me. I love exercising and it makes me feel great. I don't do it to maintain weight, I don't do it to lose it, I do it because I enjoy it!

When I'm not strength training I'm doing HIIT, and I practice freestyle soccer many times a day so I'm usually always moving. I am inspired by the Tarahumara runners who can run for so long without resting. A 57 year old Tarahumara won a 100 mile race without stopping....

Sue said...

I watched that four part BBC Horizon programme - The truth about exercise. It was quite good. Came away thinking I should do some HIIT and be more active during the day.

ProudDaddy said...

Sue, the most interesting thing in the BBC program for me was the responder/non-responder stuff. I was sold on HIIT by the written studies quite some time ago. While I often harp on how we are all different, here was some pretty good science about some quite extreme differences.

ProudDaddy said...

And you can't argue that De Vany isn't buff, although I suspect maintenance requires far less volume than hypertrophy.

Nigel Kinbrum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nigel Kinbrum said...

Leighan said...
"I don't get why everyone is so reluctant to exercise, then again that could just be me."

I don't get why everyone is so reluctant to lie on a sofa for hours surfing the interwebs, then again that could just be me. I love lying on a sofa for hours surfing the interwebs and it makes me feel great......I do it because I enjoy it!

Guess what, Leighan? Everyone is different.

P.S. Thanks for the hat-tip, Evelyn.

Sue said...

I'd like to find out if I was a responder or non-responder probably non-responder. I've known about HIIT too but did it mostly for weight loss instead of to improve insulin sensitivity.

Leighan said...

Doing 3-4 sets would be silly. That's just leading to overtraining, especially with heavy weights.

There is no need for 3-4 sets. 1 set of heavy weights is enough to stimulate growth. Any more is just going to be counterproductive.

See it this way, when you lift a heavy weight, you are digging a hole. The more sets you do, the deeper the hole. The deeper the hole, the more resources the body has to put into recovery before it can even consider adding more muscle. The more that goes into recovery, the less that goes into the growth stage afterwards.


And a muscle always has to get stronger before it gets bigger, but that can take months. Just be patient.

Leighan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leighan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leighan said...

I read your article Nigel and it was rather interesting. I agree with your comment about loosing bone tissue and so on from starving yourself. Quite dangerous!

ProudDaddy said...

Two big points:

1. Most of us aren't trying to look like professional body builders. We just want to be healthier.

And 2. When you check the references that BBS used, you'll find that multiple sets are indeed better than single sets, but only by a small amount. Unless you love the weight room, why spend thrice the time to get 10% more muscle? Even then, the difference may only be that it takes longer to get the muscle mass you desire.

ProudDaddy said...

Sue, one thing to keep in mind is that the responder stuff, as I understood it, only involved maximum oxygen uptake. Exercise's ability to improve other measurements such as insulin sensitivity, like you mention, may be more universal.

BTW, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Evelyn for improving my aging brain by decyphering the letters in order to post. I used to get my 9-year-old to do it for me, but now I can post when she's not handy!

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

This does raise a good point wrt goals. If strength and ability/function can be improved/maintained with short BBS workouts, perhaps that's sufficient for many folks. But if building/retaining lean mass -- not necessarily like a body builder -- is the goal, I don't see this as achieving that goal. And to the point of this post, this exercise is not going to do much of anything for you.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I'll have to watch that when I get a chance, thanks!

I believe in resistance training -- or at least lifting/pushing things like my firewood workouts -- for reasons related as much to bone health/maintenance than to muscle.

Leighan said...

"Unless you love the weight room, why spend thrice the time to get 10% more muscle"

That was exactly my point ProudDaddy. No point spending ages doing lots of sets when 1-2 will be enough :P

bentleyj74 said...

X2 Harry but putting my own personal rinse on of course :)

It's 99% head game. 12 minutes is about stretching your capacity for change a little bit.

The body builder arguments are nearly always the product of closet perfectionists who bewilder themselves into analysis paralysis without even knowing what they really want or why they want it. For them any movement out of paralysis and toward autonomy is gain. Goals aren't written in blood and preferences can change. Especially when the goals exist only in the realm of fantasy and have never been realized. How does a person who has never been involved in body building know whether they like that lifestyle or not? They only see what looks "too hard" and rule it out for themselves as though every person occupying an end space passed over the first step and the 451st step to get where they are or AT LEAST were miserable every step of the way.

12 minutes of relatively heavy lifting will build confidence because you know you can do it and you know you don't have to move a mountain to do it so you are more likely to try rather than resist. Is that optimal? Necessary? A waste of time? Depends on who you are and where you are doesn't it? 12 minutes is a waste of time for me because I've already got my head in the game. I know what I want from my work outs and I know how to get it. If I look at a 30 minute workout and feel nothing but dread it could be a decisive variable in overcoming resistance to learning new things. Neuroplasticity is as relevant to success as muscle fiber if not more so.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Thank you Leighan. Only another 195 to go, lol! ;-p

Dawn said...

Our local zoo has an interesting signboard up with daily amounts of sleep per animal. Turns out that predators sleep a lot more than prey ... and that humans are right in the middle. I guess that means we're both predators and prey, eh?

ProudDaddy said...

Nigel: a superb article! When I was researching RER, I overlooked the Geodecke study. The range of differences is enormous! And the "normalness" of the curve is almost enough to restore one's faith in statistics! Anyway, I've always respected your writings, but now I see that it would profit me greatly to read your entire archive (as have I Evelyn's and Adel's).

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Somebody recommended the book "The Lore of Running" by Tim Noakes to me (I'm not a runner, but bought it anyway). That's where I first saw that histogram. I got Julia Goedecke's permission to use the histogram in an e-book that I was writing in 2005.

It was a pain to update a Word Doc, save it as a .pdf, insert hyperlinks & then write-protect it. I abandoned it at V4 when I began blogging. There's a link to it in one of my early blog posts.

James Krieger said...

********
Doing 3-4 sets would be silly. That's just leading to overtraining, especially with heavy weights.
*********

Leighan, 3-4 sets doest NOT lead to overtraining. A paper I published shows quite clearly that 3 sets or more is associated with superior muscle gains:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20300012

I also suggest you check out some of the protein synthesis research out of Stu Phillips's lab, where he's shown 3 sets to produce a superior protein synthesis response to a single set.


********
There is no need for 3-4 sets. 1 set of heavy weights is enough to stimulate growth. Any more is just going to be counterproductive.
*********

This is classic HIT myth-talk here. There is no evidence that more than 1 set is counterproductive; in fact, the evidence points to the contrary.


*********
See it this way, when you lift a heavy weight, you are digging a hole. The more sets you do, the deeper the hole. The deeper the hole, the more resources the body has to put into recovery before it can even consider adding more muscle. The more that goes into recovery, the less that goes into the growth stage afterwards.
***********

This is more HIT myth-talk. It is not a good analogy to how the body adapts to resistance training. It is not like digging a hole; in fact, the body does not need to recover first before it adapts. This is shown quite clearly in protein synthesis research which shows that protein synthesis in muscle is dramatically elevated in muscle only hours after a weight training session (i.e., it is already adapting before you have recovered).


********
And a muscle always has to get stronger before it gets bigger,
********

This is also not true, and hypertrophy can coincide with strength gains...strength gains do not have to happen first.

James Krieger said...

************
And 2. When you check the references that BBS used, you'll find that multiple sets are indeed better than single sets, but only by a small amount. Unless you love the weight room, why spend thrice the time to get 10% more muscle?
***********

ProudDaddy, my meta analysis showed 40% greater effect sizes with multiple sets compared to a single set in terms of hypertrophy. This is not a small amount.

Sue said...

Thanks James

Muata said...

Without even dealing with the research that James's has done that debunks much of the HIT training protocol as being superior to multi-set training, all one needs to do is look at how many (if not all) of the strongest men, and women, have trained for the past 100+ years. Whether it was Sandow, Hackenshmidt, Saxon, Inch, etc., NONE of them advocated only one set of an exercise, let alone 12 minutes a week. When you look at the pre-steroid era of sports, no olympic lifter, strongman, bodybuilder, or physical culturist that I've read about followed a HIT style routine. While I appreciate all the new research that has come out on this topic, I think that historically speaking it's a moot point ...

ProudDaddy said...

James, my point was that even Doug's OWN references were not fully supportive.
James and Muata, I think we are all missing the point. Most of Evelyn's followers couldn't care less about looking like Arnold. If 1 set of strength exercises improves insulin sensitivity and RMR, then it should not be put down as worthless. Just as running 20 miles a day will probably lean you out and lifting 6 hours a week will probably grow a lot of muscle, neither is a workable solution for the vast majority of us facing the Diseases of Civilization. Let's take the subject of optimal body building to Suppversity, T-Nation, etc. I'm 70 years old, and I'm never going to look good nekkid. But it might be possible for me to find a lifestyle that lets me live long enough to hold my first grandchild.

garymar said...

The BBS protocol is especially good for people worried about wear and tear on their joints. It's been described as a protocol with the best balance between efficiency, results and safety. On the McGuff and Little blog the trainers at McGuff's own facility talk about the many 60, 70 and even 80-year-olds who use the protocol weekly to stay active and in shape -- and how the average length of attendance at their facility is 5 years or more.

James Krieger said...

ProudDaddy, I'm not knocking 1 set training. It's fine for general fitness purposes. I was simply taking issue with the claim that multiple sets only produce only 10% more gains than a single set...that is simply not true.

I would also note that one can easily use multiple set protocols within short time frames. I'm as busy as anyone and my weight training routine takes only 2-3 hours per week, yet it is a multiple set protocol.

Muata said...

That's my point too James. Right now, my teaching schedule doesn't even allow me to train my usual 45 minutes 3 times a week. So, I'm doing a bodyweight and KB routine twice a week that takes no more than 25 minutes.

Proud Daddy, it doesn't have to be an either/or proposition. I don't want to look like Arnold either and hypertrophy is not my goal, but I do want to get batter at the basic movements that I do. And, that's only going to happen through practicing them regularly (read: more than once a week).

Sanjeev said...

do they actually recommend 80 year olds with let's say less than one year's training work muscles one set to failure?

garymar said...

Of course depends on their condition, but yes. They try to get them to go to failure from the first session.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

A long and often contentious threads on Jimmy's discussion board:
http://www.livinlowcarbdiscussion.com/printthread.php?tid=2597&page=1

Ben Fury trains elderly, NOT with the short/slow method. "Serious strength" here is Fred Hahn. I'm the unregistered Low Carb Cheater on later pages.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Yes PDaddy -- I once did the calculations on the possible levels of opioids if one got like 75% of their calories from wheat and it wouldn't come close to a pharmaceutical dose. It's kind of like calling tomatoes addictive because they contain nicotine. Same goes for the fears over WGA. Studies with high doses of wheat germ fail to produce measurable levels of WGA in blood. If we're going to look to a single food I'd finger sugar for addiction, but that doesn't explain the addictive nature of potato chips and Doritos!

Lesley Scott said...

@evelyn I checked out the thread. Ignatius noted: "I like Slow Burn because I am rarely sore, but get the benefits of strength building in less time." I work out with weights 3x/week and always rely on being somewhat sore the next day to know I'm not slacking. Have I missed something - is it possible to "get the benefits of strength building" without any soreness? That doesn't make sense to me.

Tsimblist said...

@Lesley: Me too. I resistance train 3 times a week and soreness is a confirmation that it is working for me.

@Evelyn: I see that Ben Fury refers to Mark Rippetoe's book "Starting Strength". I bought the 3rd edition, based on Martin Berkhan's recommendation. I am doing the 5 barbell exercises Rippetoe explains in that book. But, I am using the StrongLifts 5x5 program and iPhone app manage my workouts and track my progress.

Glad to see James & Muata confirming my decision to go with 5 sets of 5 reps.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

That's very interesting (5:33), haven't looked at the second. I'm going to post some random thoughts on all this to include activity and the obese. Obviously this must be balanced with sheer comfort and risk of injury. This was another thing that bothered me about Jimmy's 2011 effort to blast off the pounds (or was it the 2010 effort). He went from fairly sedentary (despite claims to the contrary) to running sprints somewhere in the 275-290 lb range. It was no surprise he developed back problems .....

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I'd add that this notion of limitless adaptation of homeostasis to every conscious intervention we throw at it is certainly exaggerated. Otherwise it would take quite a bit longer to starve or gain weight on overfeeding. Certainly as intelligent social beings in control of our environment replete with relative excess nutrition and shortcuts/distractions to avoid activity, I don't worry so much about my body basically working against my best efforts.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Harry -- THANKS for this input!

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

My hubs has been lean and obese depending mostly on his occupational activity level (almost a year of unemployment was horrible for him, just returning to work at a reasonably active job with no deliberate dietary change -- though surely less snacking -- and he was back to normal weight in a few months). But he's a stander. I don't know if we can train ourselves entirely, but it doesn't hurt to try, and deliberately standing when I notice all around me are, is a good start!

ProudDaddy said...

So I just found an 2012 abstract in Diabetes that purports to show opioid activity from gluten. Of course, it was in dogs...

Sanjeev said...

> don't want to look like Arnold either

I've gotten into gymnastics and the LAST THING I want or need is bigger muscles. More weight just means more wrenching forces on the joints in some activities, and more weight to lift in tumbling type work.

I wasn't competing in judo or wrestling so I didn't need to maintain a weight class so I wasn't too about getting bigger muscles then but in the back of my mind was the possibility of competing so the desire NOT to get bigger has been in the background for some time.

The absolutely ideal thing would be to lose weight of all kinds (fat and muscle) while increasing strength.

bodybuilding type workouts are complete anathema here.

ESPECIALLY and FOREMOST working to failure. That just prevents you from doing anything (learning skills, gaining strength) the rest of the day.

Sanjeev said...

> They try to get them to go to failure from the first session

Lots of 20 year olds can't walk normally after squatting to failure.

Getting 80 year olds to work out to failure ... isn't that "special"[0] ?

And FOR WHAT BENEFIT? Stop one rep short ... you got at least 90% of the benefit, why is that NECESSARY?

[0] which here means "wow, another nadir of whack". Of course they're not going to see lack of safety in the gym. with 12 minute workouts, say 6 minutes in the gym after the failure what fraction of the time is that to observe the subject ?

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Wayne, my point is that one can find "nicotine activity" from all manner of foods like ... yikes! ... the low carbers' savior cauliflower.
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199308053290619
With wheat and omega 6's for that matter, we're up against not only a huge dose gap but whether or not these compounds are absorbed intact and/or converted to neurobiologically active compounds. I've yet to come across anything that has me saying "NOT!!".

Look at that eggplant nicotine content 100 ng/g, requiring only 10g to get 2nd hand smoke exposure. Now see how they are alarmist in a way here? Because an average ciggy contains 1-3 milligrams of nicotine. So one would need to eat a crapload of eggplant to get addicted to the nicotine. Why don't ex-smokers gravitate towards eggplant parma ? I've not heard of ex-smokers falling off the wagon after a trip to Italian restaurants. DOSE is very important. Wheat belly is full of crap on this, sorry.

Sanjeev said...

I've written this here before but IMHO much of the benefit of exercise is that it's the only proven "brain workout"; it improves executive function

Muata said...

5 x 5 is a classic routine that I love doing for the majority of my exercises. I think for older lifters it's great, as Brooks Kubik notes in his Gray Hair, Black Iron, I'd also suggest you play around with 5 x3 or even 6 x 3 too! It's all about experimentation Tsimblist, which I think you've already figured out ;)

Muata said...

I think part of the problem is that the minute someone discusses getting stronger, bodybuilders, and their way of training, is used as the norm. BB, as a sport, is relatively new to the scene when you compare it with Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics. There are many different training protocols that one can use to get stronger that have been around for ages; that's why I think it's interesting, and unfortunate, that one would use Arnold as an example.

Muata said...

I would not say that it's worthless ProudDaddy, but I would say that it is less than optimal or even ideal. And, the men I referenced in my reply above wrote books showing how one could achieve excellent health and strength even with a busy schedule. If you haven't done so, I encourage you to read Hackenshmidt's The Way to Live, which was written in 1935. It's a great read and was written for the layperson and not the athlete ...

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I swear I thought I was watching the Jimmy Deen show.

LOLOL!!! Newell, that is too funny but also sad. I can't explain why but I never equated with carb restriction = weight loss with carbs caused me to be fat. And I think this is the problem. The cause v. remedy.

Anyone care to photoshop a Jimmy Deen? That would be classic :)

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Aww Sanjeev ... sigh. I was a gymnast, tumbler supremo in my yoot. We had a long side yard and I would do several backhandsprings in a row down that yard. I held records doing that at my schools. I miss it big time. I would love to be able to do one more unassisted back handspring before I fall to pieces.

How old are you (approx) if you don't mind? Gosh .. it all floods back and depresses me just a wee bit.

Sanjeev said...

Just turned 46, it's rough going for me ... never did gymnastics when I was younger, was just not on the radar at all. And in my most overweight decade would have been just impossible.

IMHO 20 years of cycling (not exactly "most dynamic" activity) has set me up badly for the sports I've gotten into the last 4 years (wrestling, judo and starting around one year ago, gymnastics)

Sanjeev said...

> and I would do several backhandsprings in a row down

I can only DREAM of doing that in 2 or 3 years if I'm lucky ... after a year of 3 times per week work, last week I did my first "perfect" cartwheel - without bent knees, without my butt sticking out, and not wobbling all over the place or falling on my butt on landing.

Leighan said...

Thanks for the studies James! Sorry to have bugged you...

ProudDaddy said...

I had my tongue in my cheek when I mentioned the dog study. I learned long ago (couple of months) to be very sceptical of ALL studies. This particular study demonstrated that intragastric naloxone reduced the insulin response to digested gluten in dogs -- hardly proof that wheat is as addictive as heroin! We curmudgeons sometimes like to pull people's chains, and we don't always make it clear that we're doing it. I apologize and won't do it again...until the next time.

ProudDaddy said...

Muata, we really don't disagree that much. I have hypertrophy as a goal because sarcopenia can be deadly for us old ones, and my twice a week workouts average about 45 minutes and 2 sets per exercise. But studies like Heden, 2011, show that one set can increase energy expenditure for 72 hours "similar to three sets", and my "thrice for 10% more" comment was never meant to be quantitatively accurate.

My objective here is to encourage people to take some time off from their treadmills and move some weight instead, for their HEALTH! I suspect very few are going to do so if they think it means the kind of workout performed by serious bodybuilders. I'm also pretty sure that muscle hypertrophy is not at the top of the list for most of those of the superior gender.

ProudDaddy said...

Sanjeev, perhaps your definition of failure is different than we oldies'. I do all my exercises "to failure", but not with some testosterone-filled trainer screaming in my ear about what a wimp I am, and from the first untrained novice day I skipped out of the weight room pain and injury-free. For us truly chronologically challenged, "failure" is when we're pretty sure we don't want to do another one:-)

Muata said...

ProudDaddy, I don't think we disagree at all, as our goals of getting folks to do more progressive resistance training is the same. I agree that building lean mass is much more important that most folks think, and your training schedule is great IMO. I'm just not a fan of the HIT/12 minute a week protocol because it does not teach a person to get better at the skill of training, regardless of the tool one uses. I view strength as a skill, so that's why the more one practices (not exercises), the better.

Do you use machines or free weights?

ProudDaddy said...

I'm old, but not yet stupid. My only training partner is my 110 lb wife, and she can out-leg press me. We play it safe and stick to the machines. In this, and only this, I am in a league with Art De Vany!

My wife can also out-leg press 95% of 20-year-old men, weight adjusted! As you may guess, "Yes, Dear," is one of my common utterances!

Muata said...

That's pretty funny, and I just hope to not only live as long as you have, but to keep training too. I think that saying "Yes, Dear" is a pretty smart move on your part ...

Craig in CT said...

Oddly enough, the Super Slow workout that people like McGuff advocated came out of Nautilus sponsored research that focused on training older people with osteoporosis. The slow speed of movement and controlled transitions were supposed to allow people to fatigue the muscles while avoiding excessive stresses on the bones.

The guy who developed the Super Slow method of training has just begun marketing equipment for this kind of training through a new company. One of the first sales was to the Rheumatology Division at John Hopkins. They are planning to test the equipment and methodology as a way of training people with severely arthritic joints.

If you check out any strength and fitness blog, you will generally find heated discussions between advocates of High Intensity (1 set to failure) training methods, and conventional (multiple set not to failure) training methods. (In fact, this topic seems to breed the same kind of cultishness and venom that you find on many diet and nutrition blogs.) Many of the advocates of conventional training mock the HITer's as using a protocol that is "only good for the old and infirm". So if you are old and infirm, maybe that is a recommendation for HIT???

I'm also not sure why you are so freaked out about 'training to failure'. Any time you do reps with a weight, the muscle fatigues. Eventually, it fatigues to the point that you can't complete another rep. At that state, the muscle is only slightly more fatigued than if you had stopped one rep short of failure. Even with multiple sets not to failure, most people eventually push up the weights to the point where on that last set (be it the 3rd, 5th or 10th set), they can't get in all the reps. Then, depending on the training philosophy, you either reset to a lower weight and start the progression all over, or you vary the routine, or you keep the weight the same and try to progress the number of repetitions. There are an almost infinite number of variations that are possible, and almost all of them work some of the time with some people in some circumstances.

One real issue that does come up with training to failure is safety. There are certain exercises (squats, deadlifts) where training to the point of failure (inability to complete a rep) does present significant safety issues arising from loss of control of the weight and/or breakdown of form. However, most staunch advocates of HIT suggest doing the workouts on machines where there is no real safety risk from losing control of the weight.

As for single versus multiple sets: most competitive athletes in strength sports (power lifting, olympic lifting) use multiple sets, low reps, and very heavy weights, but not to failure. That probably does say something about what is most effective for building maximum strength. But I wouldn't recommend those kinds of training programs for an 80 year old either.

One thing I know for sure: Doing 3 sets of 10 exercises takes a lot more time than doing 1 set 10 exercises. And training 3 times per week takes a lot longer than training once or twice a week. As you get to very heavy weights, you may need to rest 3 to 5 minutes between sets just to recover your breath, which means that a 10 exercise routine could take 1.5 hours or more. If you do that three times per week, you are then up to 4-6 hours per week invested. For many, getting half the benefit at one tenth the time might seem like a pretty good deal.

Finally, even if you have the time and interest, I'd guess that most older people do not have the work capacity or recovery capacity to train several times a week with a high volume multiple set exercise program.

Sanjeev said...

> not sure why you are so freaked out about 'training to failure'.

associating pain to health is the wrong way to go, IMHO. especially when trying to establish it as a habit for someone new to exercise. Pain for zero or near-zero benefit. Makes no sense.

anything fun and PAIN FREE is the best chance people have of establishing a habit of moving. After the habit exists unshakably they can work their way to harder stuff, but to repeat something lots have said before, the most effective exercise in the world won't do much good if it's never done.

Aside from that the cost/benefit just doesn't add up. Do a morning workout that includes a failure component and the rest of the day you can't effectively train strength and probably shouldn't do skill work (anything needing coordination, timing, sequencing). At higher level sports these days the coaches never let skill athletes train fatigued, unless the sport demands it. A lot of amateurs still haven't got the message yet though.

Freaking out? maybe. high cost, minimal benefit. mostly I'm not freaking out ... my writing style just makes it look that way. The small freak out is my concern on how failure affects proprioception for the rest of the day. An 80 year old whose various proprioceptive sensors, let's say in the hips and knees get bonked may not have accidents in the gym while they're still warmed up, but walking outside 2 hours later ...

> ... low reps, and very heavy weights ... wouldn't recommend those kinds of training programs for an 80 year old either

Me neither. I would like to see it tested in a randomized trial though. Since the weight can't be lifted quickly, and since there's no failure component I could see this being safer than higher repetition weight work that allows ballistic motion, or allows a wandering mind.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Just to be clear, I'm not knocking BBS/Slow Burn style training for strength and some health benefits. But to the subject of this post, it's not going to help compensate for one's NEAT deficit.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Perhaps one problem with Super Slow is that there's one Fred Hahn promoting it ... a more obnoxious trollie who talks in circles it's hard to find. There are the razmataz style trolls who just shout the same thing over and over that don't suck you into debates. Fred has a way, if you're not careful, to suck you in but he keeps shifting the goal posts, etc.etc. and wastes your time as there's no changing his closed mind. I found it interesting in an interview for WWGF, Gary lamented that if he had to run a mile in an emergency he wasn't sure he could do it b/c his schedule had him only doing the occasional SS workout. I also find the Drs. Eades' example less than inspiring.

It's a bit of the "shortcut mentality" that I think is counterproductive to reversing obesity permanently w/o "resolving to diet" again in 2012.

Beth@WeightMaven said...

Wow. I normally agree with Harry, but his description of BBS (when your muscles "are burning and when you feel like you're having a coronary event") doesn't describe my experience of the protocol.

Harry said...

It's all good Beth...just a 'lost in translation' moment.

The description I gave of lactate-burn pain and cardio-vascular distress was not of BBS in particular, but was just meant to add a couple of extra factors that may lead to the termination of a set of exercise, other than true 'muscular' fatigue. Sanjeev's earlier post had covered the neurological angle, and I was just chiming in to add another angle.

The main point is that 'performance failure' (i.e. where you can't perform any more lifting, no matter how hard you try) is rarely, if ever, a case of true 'muscular' failure (as Sanjeev was pointing out). It is usually a combination of physiological, neurological, and psychological factors that actually cause the exerciser to 'call it a day' on a set.

And, because of this, the significance of 'taking the set to failure' is often overstated, and correspondingly, the importance of doing enough total mechanical muscular work (which is a more objective measure than 'failure') is understated.

There's no doubt that BBS works. Given that it imposes an abnormal load on the muscle (relative to not training) it will elicit some strength gains. But, compared to higher volumes of muscular work, it does very little for promoting muscular hypertrophy. And compared to higher numbers of sets (i.e. practice) it is inferior in eliciting the neurological adaptations that lead to strength performance (this is why all successful powerlifters and olympic lifters, bar none, employ multiple sets).

Cheers,
Harry

ProudDaddy said...

My experience/non-experience is the same as Beth's. I think it was somewhere on this blog's comments that I shared the fact that "failure" for me means being pretty sure that I probably don't want to do another rep:-) The only way my muscles "burn" is low weight, high rep, and no matter what I do, I don't feel a coronary is imminent (even when my heart rate is 20 beats over "maximum" during HIIT). (I know it sounds like bragging to have the maximum heart rate of a 40 year old, but my brother keeps me humble by noting that it is probably just fibrillation.)

As a final parting shot, I've heard that 73? year old Art De Vany, whose workouts are even less time-consuming than McGuff's, recently beat Robb Wolf in an impromptu road race.

bentleyj74 said...

"For us truly chronologically challenged, "failure" is when we're pretty sure we don't want to do another one:-)"

For sure a relevant distinction. There's a big difference between "This is no fun anymore" and "I lost control while holding a 30 pound dumbbell in each hand over my head". :)

Tsimblist said...

Thanks for the suggestions Muata. I am about half way through a 12 week "trial" of StrongLifts 5x5. The recommendation is to continue with 5x5 as long as I see improvement. Then there are intermediate programs to consider after that. One of the options is a 3x5.

Lerner said...

"...zapping the muscle with electro-stim.

Muscles that could barely twitch after failure would contract so hard they felt like rock."

But what happened with electro-stim on the multi-set subjects?

Sanjeev said...

> But what happened with electro-stim on the multi-set subjects?

your using the word "subjects" implies there was a study, but I wasn't reporting on studies. I was reporting what I saw some local bodybuilders doing around 15 years ago ... this was all multiple -set[1]

These men would (15 years ago) do standard 3 to 6 sets per bodypart, 10 reps or slightly more, "failing" the last set, then without resting they would "plate strip" ... reduce the weight being lifted by taking one set of plates off, failing at that weight, reducing the weight further (no reset) and fail again.

The electronic stimulation came after all of that stuff, at the end of several sets. The muscle could barely be voluntarily contracted through the nervous system ,,, all you could do with it voluntarily was get it to twitch with little force production.

And even after that type of failure the actual muscle itself could still contract very strongly (electronically) if you bypass the motor neuron end plates.

That is an extreme but failing after one set activates the same effect, just less strongly. Stating my point differently: you're created a bottleneck, a limiting artificial constraint by "going to failure". You've knocked out one link in the chain. Leave the chain intact and you can work at high stress levels the entire day. You can do 3 80% of max deadlifts in the morning ... (assuming you would fail at 5 or reps), another 3 set rep at noon, repeat at 3pm, 5pm, and more. AND YOU COULD DO IT AGAIN THE NEXT DAY. fail and you can f'gedaboudit.

And my language in the above posts may have mis-led: it's not that "failure" limits MUSCLE training. That's true but not the whole story. By knocking out one small part of the chain you limit the entire chain, below (toward the muscle) AND ABOVE (toward the brain). If one remains at the same weight one can still get stronger. Some of this same-weight strength comes from muscle changes, but a huge amount comes from the nervous system.

For improved strength current best practice seems to be several sets, high stress and stopping 2 to 3 reps before failing. This last piece allows the several high stress sets AND lets one train again soon.

This "bottlenecking" piece is the basis for my other concern about risks to locomotion in the elderly. If working to failure impedes correct motor function in young healthy athletes, what does it do in the elderly? I've found no studies documenting increased risk, so for now that angle is completely speculative. I'll try searching again ... maybe my google-fu is better since the last time I searched.

[1] there were no single-set workouts at that time. The current "never go to failure" advice and "grease the groove" type workouts were unheard of in local gyms at that time. That still might be the case. Few people train for plain strength. Even in my gymnastics classes, the adult, non-competing men who lift weight told me they lift for cosmetics, not necessarily to gain strength.

Lerner said...

Sanjeev, thanks for taking the trouble for posting such a detailed reply. My first thought was to wonder why nature would set things up that way. After some thinking, it seems that it inevitably has to be that way: to keep the muscle from being overly damaged in ordinary activities, while keeping a reserve to be called on when some deadly danger pops up. The muscle isn't so much tired after exercise as instead it approaches a limit to how many myofibrils are damaged and in need of repair.

Lerner said...

With all the talk of reps and sets, here is an interview that was unusually interesting, with a researcher (Cam Mitchell) from the McMasters group: SHR #963 - Research Shows Heavy Weights Do Not Equal Bigger Muscles

http://www.superhumanradio.com/components/com_podcast/media/mp3s/SHR_Show_963.mp3 (1 hour segment)

The summary is that doing 3 sets of ~30 reps with light weight gave the same hypertrophy as 3 sets of ~10 with heavy weights. Doing only 1 set lagged behind.

Sanjeev said...

> why nature would set things up that way

self limiting is a fairly common trick. I've come across several. The ones that stick out in my memory at the moment are the Golgi Tendon Organ force limiting system and the Renshaw cell stretch limiting system.

And you're correct, many of these systems cut the system's strength because the system is strong enough to seriously hurt itself at full strength.

And at the risk of being very repetitive, activating these systems can bork muscle control, fine and coarse, including balance and locomotion (balance is part of the feedback system, and therefore part of the control system) for a significant time.

Sanjeev said...

> wonder why nature would set things up that way

Thanks for prompting me to recast my concerns in a larger context.

Lerner said...

Sanjeev, wrt failure as being discussed:
1) does depletion of acetylcholine at the activating nerve's dendritic 'button' account for that?
2) does adrenalin overcome the lack of enervation? that would seem logical (as similar to how neurogenic adrenalin makes the heartbeat get faster and stroner), but I'm not familiar with how it'd be accomplished in this case.

If anybody's interested, here's a nice animation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzXVe4RS8-A 9 minutes

Sanjeev said...

I've forgotten the specific mechanisms.

I would doubt that it's plain acetylcholine depletion (or precursor depletion) because if one does not do that last 2 to 3 reps, one can do many more the rest of the day -

IOW the whole-day acetylcholine turnover can be enormous without failure and limited with failure. Perhaps those last couple of reps muck up synaptic clearance, or the acetylcholine manufacturing mechanism - or some combination of these plus other factors.

disqus_K25JuDRT99 said...

"Only 2-3 hours a week" at the gym? Maybe another couple for cardio? Most people won't do it, even if they have and can afford access to the equipment, trainers, etc.. Period. Genetics dictates outcomes, which will be modest for most people, great for a few, and nothing for a few more. Unless exercise is built into our lives, and has some tangible payback,, most won't do it.
Also, recent research seems to show that intensity/effort is the key in most forms of exercise, not volume. Although I don't believe this will fill the gyms either.

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