The Key To Successful Intermittent Fasting

I jumped on the intermittent fasting bandwagon a few years ago.  I have IntermittentFastingfound it to be a very effective, practical method for losing fat or just keeping myself from getting too fat (maintenance).

Here’s my most important tip for those who want to try it:

Don’t overcompensate when you break the fast. 

In other words, you have to discipline yourself not to go crazy and overeat once the fast is over.   This one thing has been the key to whether or not I’m successful with this kind of diet.

This is true for those doing a 24 your fast every few days (Eat Stop Eat style) or for those who skip breakfast and fast through the morning (Renegade Diet style).  Regardless of strategy you have to be disciplined.

Remember this: Intermittent fasting does not “hack” your metabolism or override the basic laws of thermodynamics (calories in versus calories out ). It is one of many dietary strategies that will work as long as you can keep a negative calorie balance long enough to see the desired results.  I do believe this kind of dieting has some hormonal advantages in term of fat loss, but it is just like any other diet (or lifestyle, or eating plan, or whatever you want to call it): calories matter.

Keep this in mind and don’t sabotage your diet by gorging yourself after you fast.

Probiotics and Weight Loss

EscherichiaColi_NIAID

I’m sure most of you know that our digestive system (especially the colon) is full of “friendly” bacteria.  We’re just beginning to understand their importance for overall health, especially in the immune system.

Eating yogurt is one way to facilitate a healthy balance of these microorganisms in your gut.  Probiotic supplements have also become more popular as we realize the importance of healthy bacteria.  I think these supplements are useful–especially if you are having digestive issues or have had to take antibiotics (which tend to kill both “good” and “bad” bacteria).

But I’ve also seen probiotic supplements marketed as weight loss aids.  One theory is they make the intestines less permeable and less able to absorb fat calories.

Do these kinds of supplements really help with weight loss?

Scientists recently did a meta-analysis of the current research regarding probiotic supplements and weight loss.  In case you aren’t familiar with the term, a meta-analysis means that researchers analyzed the data from several studies.  This means the findings should be more reliable than that of just one isolated study/experiment.   Here is their conclusion: “The meta-analysis of these data showed no significant effect of probiotics on body weight and BMI.”1 They did note, however, that the number and quality of the studies is limited at this point.

There’s no conclusive evidence that probiotics help with weight loss, but researchers have noted connections between gut microorganisms and metabolism.  There seems to be a link, for example, between the prevalence of certain intestinal bacteria with metabolic diseases (like diabetes). 2

Conclusion:

Right now there is not enough evidence to say probiotics help with weight loss.  Having said that, it isn’t a bad idea to use them–especially if you have recently taken antibiotics (for surgery, sickness, etc).  These supplements are inexpensive and useful for overall health.

Reference:

1. Nutr Res. 2015 May 21. pii: S0271-5317(15)00103-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.05.008. Probiotics for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
2. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2015 Jun 17. Influence of the human intestinal microbiome on obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

My 600 lb Life

A while back I started watching The Learning Channel’s My 600 lb. Life.  This my_600_lb_lifeshow documents the lives of the super obese as they reach out to Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, one of the few physicians who performs bariatric surgery on patients their size.

Watching this show is both fascinating and a horrifying–like seeing a bloody road accident and being unable to avert your eyes.

The extreme nature of these patients’ condition leaves them with very limited mobility (some of them can’t even get out of bed) or quality of life.  It’s simply hard to fathom having a body that size or an addiction that is so crippling.

Here’s a theme I’ve noticed while watching this show: there tends to be a “perfect storm” of factors that combine to create a 600 lb. person.

1.  A genetic predisposition for obesity:  Needless to say, we don’t completely understand the role genetics plays in our body weight.  But most of the people featured on this show tend to come from families where obesity is a major problem.   This becomes painfully apparent when the patient’s parents, children or siblings are interviewed.  The patient often reports being overweight as long as he/she can remember.

2.  Enablers:  Even bedridden patients are able to get an endless supply of high-calorie foods delivered within arm’s length.  This is one of the most fascinating (and baffling) things to observe on the show.  Family members (spouses in particular) will give in to the patient’s demands for certain foods.  Family members, in fact, often sabotage the medical intervention designed to save their loved one.

3.  Traumatic events:  Many of the 600+ lb. patients have experienced some kind of trauma that escalated their weight gain (often it’s something that happened in childhood).  Some of the women featured on the show were molested or raped.  Others report gaining weight after losing a family member.  I don’t remember this kind of thing being a part of every story, but it was quite common.

Combine these three things and you get people crushed under the weight of their own gargantuan bodies, seemingly unable to stop consuming the thousands of calories that are slowly but surely killing them.

Bariatric surgery is not a “quick fix” for people suffering from this disease (due to the factors I’ve mentioned).  I remember one patient who made virtually no progress even after her stomach had been surgically reduced in size.  But it can be an effective tool for weight loss in those who would otherwise not have any hope of a normal life.

Watching these patients get the surgery and (hopefully) transform their lives is compelling.  I find this interesting as someone who studies both fitness and addiction.

There’s good news for those of us who watch this show:  TLC will be doing a fourth season, to be shown in 2016.

DUP Method Review: Daily Undulating Periodization Program (Jason Maxwell; Mike Samuels)

TheDUPMethodReviewThe DUP Method (Daily Undulating Periodization) Review:.  I’ve had an opportunity to check out a new program from Jason Maxwell and Mike Samuels. I’ll start this review by explaining what you get if you decide to invest in this program:

Component 1: The DUP Main Manual
This document serves as a starting point, explaining the overall training philosophy and science behind the strategies you’ll be using.  It will give you an overview of the program as well as some different options for training frequency (anything from 2-5 days).  Once you’ve read this you’ll have a basic understanding of why this method should make you stronger.

Component 2: The DUP Method Nutrition Guide
Needless to say, you can’t get big and strong without a good eating plan.  This document will show you how to set up your diet/nutrition in order to maximize the benefits of your training.  You’ll be guided in calculating your daily caloric intake as well as macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates).  Be sure to look over this carefully–many trainees fail to reach their goals because they don’t put much thought or planning into their diet.

Component 3: The Optimal DUP Workout Log
According to the author, the ideal setup for this program is to train five days per week.  That may sound like overtraining, but you have to remember that the volume (number of sets and reps) is adjusted so you’ll be able to adequately recover.  Anyway, this workout log is convenient because you can print it out or put it on your smartphone.  Either way you could bring it to the gym with you.

Component 4: 4-Day Per Week Workout Log
As the name implies, this workout is designed for those who can only train four times per week.

Component 5: The “Busy Man’s” Workout Log
This one is for those who can only train three times a week.

Component 6: DUP For Beat Up Lifters Workout Log
This is a program variation for lifters who are a little older and/or training around old injuries. Some trainees, for example, may have back issues or joint problems that require them to make some adjustments in their exercise selection, etc. This would be helpful for men (or women) in that situation who want to keep getting stronger while avoiding re-injuring themselves.

Component 7: DUP For Hypertrophy Workout Log
As the title implies, this program is set up for those who are primarily concerned with building muscle (vs. those who are only interested in strength/powerlifting).

Component 8: DUP For Fat Loss
Last but not least, these workouts are set up for those who are interested in maximizing fat loss while also benefiting from the strength aspects of the training.

Bonuses:
You’ll also get some nice bonus material if you decide to order.
BONUS #1: Bench Press Tutorial Video
BONUS #2: Squat Tutorial Video
BONUS #3: Deadlift Tutorial Video
BONUS #4: Bigger Bench Checklist
Bonus #5: Customization Guide
Bonus #6: DUP Arms Specialization

Deadlift Tutorial
Bonus Material (Deadlift Tutorial)

I think you’ll find the video tutorials especially helpful. You can watch them online or download them onto your hard drive (I’d recommend downloading them).

Additional Products (Upsells):
Here are additional program packages you can add on to the basic package. You do not have to purchase these, but you can if you are interested:

The Accelerator Package:
This includes a manual for diet, training, supplementation and complete workouts for those who want to do an all-out, 6-day per week training schedule.

The Done-for-You Package: This includes spreadsheets for all five of the workouts in the basic package.  You just put your one rep max in and it calculates it for you.  A nutrition spreadsheet is also included.

The Specialization Package: This includes specialization guides for bench press, deadlift and squat. These programs would be useful for those who really want to focus on improving one of these lifts.

REVIEW:

Have you ever noticed how many guys go to the gym and lift the exact same weight for the same number of reps week in and week out?  The reason is pretty simple: they are training like newbies.

Beginner trainees will usually get a little bit stronger every week, regardless of training methodology.  But linear progression (adding a little weight to the bar each workout) will only get you so far.  You will eventually reach a “sticking point”–a lesson I learned the hard way back in the 90’s.

This is where periodization comes in–training in a way that works with your muscular and neurological system.   Daily Undulating Periodization is a unique variation of this strategy that can be very effective.

Keep this in mind: this way of training is not like the typical bodybuilding type split you see in the magazines (and gyms).  But I think you’ll find it to be a refreshing change of pace–one that is backed by science.  One study, for example, found that the DUP method was superior to linear methods (like 5×5) for building strength in those with significant training experience.1

I believe the DUP Method can teach you how to start making progress again if you find yourself stuck in a rut of no noticeable gains.

*Intermediate to advance trainees who want to break through plateaus in their overall strength.  This includes increasing your max in the bench press, squat, and deadlift.

*Athletes who want to increase their strength in order to be more competitive in sports.

*Guys (or girls) who want be strong in addition to looking strong.

*Trainees who are willing to commit to a different style of programming than what they may be used to (especially those who have done a traditional bodybuilding split).

If any of these descriptions fit you then I think the DUP Method would be a worthwhile investment as part of your training library.  Just CLICK HERE if you’d like to order this program or learn more.  Don’t delay because the price will be going up soon. 

Reference:

1. J Strength Cond Res. 2002 May;16(2):250-5. A comparison of linear and daily undulating periodized programs with equated volume and intensity for strength.

Omega Body Blueprint Review John Romaniello

omegabodybluepringreviewtransformationI’ve had an opportunity to review the Omega Body Blueprint, the latest body transformation program from John Romaniello.

Let me start by telling you a little bit about the author/creator of this program:John-Romaniello-Omega-Body-Blueprint

John Romaniello (aka “Roman”) has been in the fitness industry for over 13 years.  His work has been featured in several well-known publications and he has been interviewed on fitness-related television shows.  He is also a New York Times best-selling author.  Roman specializes in fat loss and body transformation.

Now let’s talk about what you get if you decide to order the Omega Body Blueprint program (I have listed these components in the order I downloaded them–not necessarily in order of importance or in the sequence from the program website).

Component 1: Training Manual

This book begins with an explanation of hormones and their role in fat loss.  Romaniello focuses much of this information on why it gets more difficult to lose fat and how we can overcome the body’s natural resistance to getting lean.  One important strategy, he argues, is to alternate training modalities.   This allows the trainee to get the optimal benefits of several types of training (in addition to keeping things interesting).  The illustrated manual takes you through six complete weeks of training–workouts designed to maximize fat loss and overcome plateaus.

Component 2: Workout Log Sheets

These printable workout logs will allow you to follow the previous manual and keep a record of the weights you use.

NOTE: I should say something here about Roman’s workouts.  I’ve done some of them before and they are not easy–even if you are in decent shape.  This program is for those who are willing to work hard–not for those content to sit around and talk for twenty minutes in between sets.

Component 3: Nutrition Manual

Roman begins this manual with an important observation: most trainees will meticulously plan their training but fail to put even a fraction of that time and effort into planning their diet.  This is why so many people in the gym never really see visible improvements in their physiques.  He goes on to explain some of the most nutritional strategies for this program: intermittent fasting, eating certain macro nutrient combinations, etc.  I think you’ll find his advice simple and straightforward.

Component 4:  Calorie and Macro Calculator

This file includes a link to an online calculator that will show you exactly how many calories and macro nutrients (protein/fat/carbohydrates) you should be eating every day.  This feature is nice because it will take all the guesswork out of your diet.

Component 5:  Supplement Guide

As the name implies, this is a list of recommended supplements.  I greatly appreciate the fact that Romaniello does not over-emphasize supplements (he states that you can do the program without them).  Having said that, the supplements he mentions are relatively expensive in my opinion.  I’d just recommend you stick to the basics (protein, fish oil, etc.) and use brands that you trust.

Additional Products (these items below are not included in the basic Omega Body Blueprint program–you will be given the option to purchase these as an addition if you chose):

The Hormonal Response Diet (by Chad Howse)

This document is primarily about our favorite hormone–testosterone.  Optimizing this hormone, Howse argues, will help keep you lean and healthy.  It will even influence your mental health, helping you be more focused and happy.  Howse explains some dietary and supplement strategies that will help you optimize your testosterone levels naturally (he mentions intermittent fasting, for example).  He also explains why this is an important issue for women as well as men.

Overdrive Training Manual/Log Sheets:

This is a more advanced version of the training you can follow if you finish the basic program and want to take things to another level in terms of conditioning and fat loss.   This is six additional weeks of programming, which would give you twelve weeks total (including the basic program).

VIP Coaching

This option is for those who want to join the exclusive Facebook group.  This will allow you access to additional training information that is not open to the general public.

REVIEW:

I believe Roman’s strong point is fat loss–he has developed nutritional and exercise strategies that help trainees achieve levels of leanness and aesthetic beauty that they never thought possible.  The Omega Body Blueprint combines the “best of the best”–the best of everything he has learned in over a decade of studying fat loss.

I think this program would be helpful for the following:

*People that are healthy enough to train with intensity.  As I mentioned, the workouts are difficult.

*Trainees that want to overcome plateaus in fat loss and leanness.  Roman does a good job of explaining why we reaching “sticking points” when losing fat.  The diet and training will help you get past these.  This is a good program for men and women who want to lose those last few stubborn pounds that are keeping you from having your ideal physique.

*Guys/girls who are willing to follow a nutrition plan.  The diet is laid out very well, but you have to follow it for it to be effective.  Remember that diet/nutrition is responsible for most of your fat loss results.

*Trainees that want to focus 6-12 weeks on losing fat.

If any of these descriptions match you or your goals then I think the Omega Body Blueprint would be a good investment.  It is a cost effective way to get solid diet and training information (especially when compared to hiring a personal trainer).

Just CLICK HERE if you are interested in ordering this program or learning more.

omegabodyblueprintreview

Carb Cycling Diet for Weight Loss

carbcyclingOne of the dietary strategies you may have heard about about from bodybuilders, fitness competitors, or those just wanting to lose weight is called carb cycling.   This is a term for scheduling days of high carbohydrate consumption followed by days of successively lower carbohydrate consumption.  This approach seems to be a very effective way to maximize fat loss while maintaining training intensity.  I’ll explain the basics of why this works.

Restricting carbohydrates (aka low carb or ketogenic diets) can be very effective for helping people lose weight.  Going several days with low carbohydrate intake (lets say 50 grams or less) eventually causes glycogen levels (glucose in the liver and muscles) to get so low that the body has to switch to another fuel source.  This metabolic shift is called ketosis, meaning the body is primarily using fat as its source of calories/fuel.   I discovered ketogenic/low carb dieting years ago and have used it with good success.

Some have adopted adopted a low carbohydrate lifestyle and credit it with saving their health (if not their very lives).  These individuals follow this diet year-around in order to stay at a healthy weight.  More power to you if you are able to do this.

But eating this way all the time is not very practical for athletes or those who engage in intense exercise like weight training.  Those of us who have trained while in ketosis can testify how sluggish the workouts are.  Eating carbohydrates refills the before-mentioned glycogen so muscles can perform optimally.

Thus the dilemma: low carb eating is great for fat loss, but not so great for exercise performance.

One solution to this is carb cycling, which may be able to give you the best of both worlds.  It really isn’t that complicated: you simply lower your carbohydrate over the course of a few days.  The first day, for example, you can eat 200 grams of carbs, followed by 125 on the second and only 50 on the third.  You could then repeat the cycle or just reverse it over the next two days (125 grams of carbs on day 4 and 200 again on day 5).

You may want to do your most intensive training on high carbohydrate days and try to consume most of your carbs after you work out.  This will encourage the glucose to go to your muscles and liver instead of being stored as body fat.

Most of the plans I’ve seen also incorporate a “cheat day” where you just eat what you want.  This shouldn’t hurt your fat loss in the long-term as long as you are consistent the rest of the time.

Just keep this in mind: all successful diets are based on a negative calorie balance–using more calories than you are consuming.  Carb cycling is not a “secret formula” to get around this–it is simply one dietary strategy that you may find useful.

I would encourage you to check out the 4 Cycle Solution if you’d like a step-by-step guide to this approach to fat loss.  It goes into a lot more detail than what I have written here and it is not very expensive.

The Psychology of Strength Review (Mike Gillette)

ThePsychologyofStrengthReview
Mike Gillete

I’ve had the opportunity to look over a new program called The Psychology of Strength. Let me start by telling you a little about he author, Mike Gillette.
Gillette is a former Army paratrooper, SWAT commander, Homeland Security consultant, and armed forces tactical trainer.  He is currently an executive bodyguard, performing strongman and martial arts expert (the bar you see in the picture was bent with his bare hands).  He holds the world’s record for the most steel-tipped arrows broken simultaneously with his neck.  He’s also the creator of the Savage Strength Training System, a popular program on this blog.  Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about developing both physical and mental strength.

Now let’s talk about what you get when you order the this program:

StrengthPsychologyReview Strength Psychology Instruction Manual:   This document begins with a summary of Gillette’s fascinating life story.  He was raised in a very dysfunctional environment that left him afraid and suicidal (literally) by the time he was 18.  But he made the decision to turn his life around and discover his purpose.  The author goes on to explain the mindset of mental Toughness he was able to develop and gives specific steps on how you can do the same.

The Videos:  This program also includes videos where you can hear Mike Explain the concepts in more detail.  The videos are the most important component of The Psychology of Strength program.

Video 1: Introduction–Mike begins this video by describing people who are not mentally tough–people who “just get by.”  These kinds of people, he argues, have a tendency to settle for less in life.   This can be changed if you develop mental toughness and take control of your mind, which will enable you to pursue the life you want.  He explains how this happened in his life and how he wants to help it happen for you.  This program, he explains, combines things he has learned from the various phases in his life (military, law enforcement, etc.).

Video 2: Personal Story of Strength–As I’ve mentioned, Gillette had a rough upbringing.  Hearing him share it personally is very powerful: “My story is one of weakness transformed into strength and second chances.”

Video 3: Mental Toughness (Part 1)–The primary concept in this video is the mindset of mental toughness.    Mike talks a great deal about the connection between the body and the mind.  Physical talent, for example, is not maximized until one develops the mental focus need to perform optimally.  He also discusses how negative emotions can affect everything we do.   This video includes some specific strategies to change negative emotions.

Video 4: Mental Toughness (Part 2)-This video focuses on fear–learning what it is so you can begin to overcome it.  Mike starts off by sharing a personal testimony of how fear used to control his life.  Fear management training is a concept you’ll be introduced to–not banishing fear (which is impossible and even inadvisable), but learning to face it. “What I want you to be able to do is recognize fear and do what you want to anyway,” he says.

Video 5: Mental Toughness (Part 3)–Mike talks about overcoming fear in this video.  Once again he shares a personal story (this one from his days as a police officer) illustrating our tendency to “freeze” when we are afraid.   He takes his life-or-death experience and explains how the same principles apply to almost any fear-based experience.   Mike then gives some practical steps that will help you confront and manage your fear.

Video 6: Life by Design (Part 1)–This video teaches you how to make effective plans for your life.  People often fail, Mike argues, because they don’t plan well.  Example: someone may say he wants to lose weight.  This is an admirable goal, but it just isn’t specific enough to really mean anything.  One component of proper planning is a specific, measurable goal.   This video really focuses on how to make challenging yet attainable goals and reach them.

Video 7: Life by Design (Part 2)–Mike shows you how to set long-term goals for five different areas of your life (physical, financial, etc.).

Video 8: Mind Strengthening Skills–This final video offers several mental exercises you can practice.  Mike encourages you to try all these skills/techniques so you can gain better control of your thoughts and improved awareness of your body (breathing, etc.).  Practicing these techniques can help you become physically stronger as you improve over time.

Review:

Sometimes we think mentally strong people were just born that way or grew up with every possible advantage.  This may be true in some cases, but it definitely wasn’t in Mike’s.  Mental strength is something anyone can develop if he/she will simply commit to new ways of thinking.

Most of the programs I review are about diet and training–physical aspects of self-improvement.  The Psychology of Strength is unique in that it deals almost exclusively with the mental aspect of improving your life.   I think it is worth your time/money.

I think this program would be good for the following:

*Athletes/trainees that want to overcome psychological barriers and further develop the mental aspect of their skill/game.

*People who want to overcome fear or lack of confidence.

*People who want to live more intentionally.

*Coaches and/or motivational speakers who want to add to their personal development library.

I think The Psychology of Strength would be a worthwhile investment if this describes you (or if what I’ve shared in this review/summary appeals to you).  The digital version is $49 and the “hard copy” version is $99.  This is relatively inexpensive when compared to what it would cost to go to a seminar of this length and quality.

JUST CLICK HERE IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ORDER THIS PROGRAM OR LEARN MORE.

Note: You may see a video called The End of the American Male at the bottom of the program page.  I personally do not endorse (or use) any “testosterone booster” supplements.  My review only covers the program I have described, not any other products.

Alternative Products:  As I’ve mentioned, Mike Gillette has a program called the Savage Strength Training System.  Feel free to check it out if you want to learn more about his physical approach to strength training.

4 Cycle Fat Loss Solution Review (Shaun Hadsall)

4-cycle-fat-loss-solution-review

I have had an opportunity to look over a new product called the 4 Cycle Solution diet.  I will start this review with a description of the manuals/components you get when you order this program:

Cycle 1:  7 Day Carb Depletion Diet: This phase is more of a low carbohydrate approach, designed to deplete the liver and muscles of glycogen (glucose stored within the body).  This causes a switch in your body, causing it to burn fat (ketones) instead of carbohydrates for fuel.  This will cause some fairly quick (albeit temporary) weight loss, which will hopefully motivate you to follow through with the next cycles.  More importantly, depleting your glycogen will set you up for the next phases of the diet.

Note: These first 7 days will probably be the most difficult part of the diet.  I would encourage you to stick with it because things get easier after this first week.

Cycle 2: Macro Patterning: The author begins this manual with an explanation of the pro’s and con’s of consuming carbohydrates.  He then explains how to optimize the timing of carbohydrate consumption so you keep (or build) muscle while continuing to lose fat.  The idea is to take in carbs when they are more likely to go into the muscles/liver and less likely to be stored as fat.  This keeps you from experiencing the lethargy associated with low carb diets while experiencing some of the benefits.

This phase will take you from week 2-4.

Cycle 3: Accelerated Fat Loss: This phase of the diet is similar to Cycle 2, but it is a little more intense.   You will be required to eat zero carbs on some days, but be allowed to eat a relatively high amount on others.  The idea here is to maximize your fat loss by manipulating your carbohydrates and glycogen levels in a strategic way.

This phase takes you from weeks 5-6.  It is not recommended to do this for over 14 days (the author explains this in much greater detail in the manual).

Cycle 4: The Diet Break: This phase gives you a physiological and psychological break from the strict dieting of previous weeks.  The manual explains how to increase your calories again without re-gaining the fat you lost in previous weeks.

This phase is for week 7-8 of the diet.

Success Guide and Food Journal:  This is a printable meal log so you can track what you eat on any given day.

Supplement Guide:  This is a description of the author’s recommended supplements.  The brands he recommends are a bit pricy so I would encourage you to stick to the basics (multivitamin, whey protein, fish oil, etc.) and shop around.

Bonuses:

The Fat Burning Shortcut Solution:  These are some specific exercise strategies designed to burn calories in minimal time.  You can do the diet without these, but you may want to use them as a way of making it more effective (especially if you want to add some variety to your routine).

Food Timing Tricks for Rapid Fat Loss:  This manual has more tweaks and suggestions for getting the most out of the diet.  The author goes into a little more detail regarding some of the concepts/strategies mentioned in earlier manuals.

Review:

The 4 Cycle Fat Loss Solution is built on the concept of carb cycling.  This is a popular strategy among bodybuilders and fitness competitors for good reason: it work.  I’ve seen some impressive transformations from those who use these kinds of diets to get lean.  I think this program would be good for the following type of person:

*People who have tried more traditional diet strategies and have failed to see results.

*Trainees who desire to lose fat while preserving muscle mass.

*Those who are willing to plan their meals and follow a regimented plan for eight weeks.

If this describes you then I believe the 4 Cycle Solution is worth a try.  The basic package is only 20 dollars, making it an excellent value.  Please CLICK HERE if you’d like to order or learn more.

High Rep Training

I’ll start this post off with a video I first saw years ago.  Here is the legendary Tom Platz doing high repetition squats with heavy weight (well over 500 lb).  This video was filmed back in 1993.  Tom Platz and Dr. Fred Hatfield (aka “Dr Squat) were doing a “squat off” in Germany.  Hatfield won the one-rep max competition by squatting 855 lb.  Platz won the rep competition with the weight you see here:

A while back I wrote an article on the best rep range for building muscle and burning fat.  I basically argued that a 5-10 rep range is going to be ideal for both of these goals.  I still believe that–most of your gains will probably come from this range.

But more advanced and older trainees may want to consider experimenting with higher repetitions (let’s say 15 and up).  There are some good reason to do so:

Leg Traininghighreptrainingplatz2

I’ve heard several bodybuilders say they had better leg growth from training with higher repetitions.  This makes sense because the quadriceps in particular tend to have a high number of both fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers.  You’ve just seen what Platz was capable of in his prime–his legendary thighs were built with both heavy lifting and high reps.

Joint Health

High rep training has the advantage of being able to stimulate the muscles with less strain on the joints.  Older trainees in particular may find this to be very helpful.  But even younger guys can benefit from simply giving the joints a break.

Lactic Acid

Training with higher reps will produce more lactic acid, which in turn tends to produce growth hormone (a helpful hormone for burning fat).

Mental Toughness

I’ve found that training beyond my usual rep range also helps me learn to push beyond the pain barrier and force my body to keep going when my muscles are screaming to stop.

Variety in Training

Going to the gym can get kind of boring if you do the same thing week after week.  Dropping the weight and going for higher repetitions is a simple way to challenge yourself and keep things interesting.

Research

Some recent studies indicate that training with high repetitions is an effective way to build muscle.  One study, for example, took fifteen healthy young men and randomly assigned them to different workouts, measuring their bodies’ responses to different training stimuli: 1.  One set to failure with 80% of one-rep max (1RM)  2.  Three sets to failure with 80% of 1RM, and 3.  Three sets to failure with 30% of 1RM.  Needless to say the third workout tended to be much higher in repetitions (20-23).   They found that lower weights/high reps produced a similar anabolic response to lifting with heavier weight and low reps.1 This is just one of many studies you can find verifying the efficacy of this kind of training.   Bottom line: training heavy is not the only way to build muscle.

These are just reasons to consider incorporating higher reps into your workout.  Now let me give you some practical tips (in no particular order of importance):

Exercise Selection:  I think you’ll find some exercises simply aren’t good choices for high reps.  I love deadlifting, but I rarely go over 5 repetitions for that particular exercise.  My form simply starts to break down if I try to go beyond that.  The same goes for front squats.

I tend to be old-school and prefer free weight exercises, but it may be advantageous to consider machines with this kind of training–especially if you are working out without a spotter.

Time Under Tension:  Using less weight will mean you can lift more slowly and deliberately.  Take advantage of this and maximize the time your muscles are under the tension of the weight.

“Burnout” Set:  One of my favorite techniques is to finish my training with one or two sets of high reps after I’ve done some heavier sets.

I hope you find these tips helpful.  Try them and see if they don’t produce new gains.

1. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Jul;113(1):71-7. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00307.2012. Epub 2012 Apr 19. Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men.