Body by Science – John R. Little
Body by Science – A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week.
In Body By Science, bodybuilding powerhouse John Little teams up with fitness medicine expert Dr. Doug McGuff to present a scientifically proven formula for maximizing muscle development in just 12 minutes a week. Backed by rigorous research, the authors prescribe a weekly high-intensity program for increasing strength, revving metabolism, and building muscle for a total fitness experience.
Let me say up front that I am 70 years old, and over the last fifty years, I have tried just about every “new” exercise routine to slide down the pop-fitness chute. I have endured many injuries along the way, including going under the knife and taking a two year hiatus due to a severe right shoulder injury.
Why, you might ask, am I still here at an age where very few people are able to do a high intensity whole body workout? The answer to this is that several years ago, I discovered Ken Hutchin’s work with Super Slow exercise protocols. I studied these, took them to heart, and because I did, I’m still here.
I see Body by Science as an interesting extension of Ken’s work. Here is my experience with telling my exercise story of slow, smooth reps, smooth turnarounds, and working to muscle failure. I will list these observations in no particular order because some will be more important than others depending on the audience.
1. Most gym rats who buy the argument that more is better will simply not accept the 20 minute workout once a week routine, and will find all kinds of arguments against it. (I still get questions from thirty-somethings about how I maintain my strength and physique at such an advanced age. When I tell them about what I do, they just don’t believe it is possible. This, I think, is due to bilge put out by the fitness/supplement industry, and a general lack of knowledge in the average gym dweller.)
2. These 20 minute workout sessions are extremely intense, and mind numbingly boring. Most gym goers will not stay with this long enough to realize the striking gains they will experience if they do.
3. Most do not/will not keep records, and have no idea where they stand, or how to analyze the results if they do. Accurate record keeping is essential with this protocol.
4. To me, the big plus of slow reps is the ability to use lighter weights with slower movements, all but eliminating the injuries that plague those always wanting to go higher in the bench press, dead lift, etc.. This “go higher” foolishness is how I wrecked my right shoulder. Nonetheless, most people working out in gyms buy the “more is better” mantra.
5. Students starting out on this protocol will still need a trainer. This will be true for some time well into the protocol – some will need a trainer indefinitely. “Inroading” as described in this book is extremely intense, really hard to do, and the stronger you get the harder it is.
6. Finally, most people who pay big bucks to join a trendy gym will not be satisfied using it once a week for twenty or even fewer minutes. They will be tempted by all the fancy equipment and the often absurd (box jumping for example) urban legends infecting the modern fitness movement.
The book touches only briefly on these issues. Admittedly, they are mostly psychological in nature, but they still would be the ones most likely to stop the book’s slow/inroading protocols in their tracks. These mental road blocks should, I think, be examined more in depth, as the actual exercise protocols are really quite simple compared to tackling the ingrained mind sets that feed into fitness in all its iterations.
One last thing, the book does a great job of stressing that recovery, not more and more exercise, is what builds strength. But there is another kind of recovery the authors totally miss, here it is: Muscle strength increases rapidly with the inroading technique, but muscle strength increase is always ahead of supporting tissues like tendons, fascia, ligaments, and joints. This, and yanky-jerky movements explains why most injuries associated with weight bearing exercises are not to the muscle but to supporting tissues (tendonitis is ubiquitous, sore joints are a close second).
Yanky/jerky movements are replaced by the protocol’s slowing down of reps and turnarounds, but the strength gap is still there, maybe even more pronounced due to the rapid muscle strength gains resulting from the inroading process. What to do?
I have found from my personal experience, that I have eliminated tendonitis completely, and lessened joint aches to the point they’re hardly noticeable, simply by plateauing every third month. This does not mean taking time off, but means just holding steady in my training so my muscle’s supporting tissues can catch up.
I wish the book or a newer addition of it would address this issue – I’d like to know more about it myself. Couch potatoes and the elderly especially, could easily see a doubling of muscle strength in their first three to four months after starting this protocol – you can bet that by comparison, their supporting tissues are weak. I am not a medical professional, but this plateauing works in my case, and it makes logical sense for certain classes of individuals using the protocols.
All in all, I found this book interesting in that I discovered many things I did not know. It was well worth the price.
P.S. Another request for the next edition…Where does the protocol stop? Where and how do you level off and go into a maintenance mode? Nobody can make strength gains indefinitely.
Doug McGuff, M.D., owns the state-of-the-art personal training facility Ultimate-Exercise. He lectures on exercise science all over the world.
John Little is a columnist for Ironman magazine and the innovator of three revolutionary training protocols, including Max Contraction Training. He and his wife, Teri, own Nautilus North Strength & Fitness Centre and have supervised more than 60,000 workouts.
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