MAX Contraction Training

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In the modern world, people are looking for more and more efficient ways to exercise.  My own life is pretty atypical, but I’m spending time at my mom’s house right now so this week I can totally relate.  I mean, with my mom’s large television in front of me I too can scarcely find time for anything.  Even sleep!  I mean, I just had to watch the Nuggets lose to the Lakers the other day, even though I hate basketball, and could care less about either team.  But I had to watch something after a busy day of watching every single golf shot of Round 2 in the Player’s tournament, another sport and tournament I care nothing about.

I wish I was joking.  Oh, wait a second.  This post will have to wait until later.  Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith are talking about Tim Tebow’s dog…

Okay I’m back.  Looks like Tebow changed the name of his dog from Bronco to Bronx.  What were we talking about?  Oh yeah exercise. And by exercise, I mean actually doing something physically.  Not just watching other people do it on youtube.  Or watching people play sports on tv.  Or reading about exercise, heh heh.

Yes I’m making fun of our sedentary society, and myself for being part of it, but the modern human, ultimately, is looking for the greatest reward with the minimum amount of effort.  For everything – exercise included.

Looking at the big picture, we shouldn’t really be looking at exercise as something to spend as little time doing as possible.  If you are, your relationship with exercise is probably very disordered as discussed in this audio clip from long ago…

My concern with exercise, and the reason I discuss efficient ways to exercise, is the toll that it takes on the human body.  While we hear the praises of it based on statistical analysis (a flawed way of assessing whether something is good or bad – nothing can be filed into such black and white categories), exercise is very hard on a sick person’s body.  It can also prevent someone’s recovery from a suboptimal metabolism – the root of many health problems and the primary focus of 180DegreeHealth.

Mike Mentzer, a pioneer when it comes to the mindset of extracting the maximum amount of benefit from exercise while inflicting the least amount of damage (and possessor of quite a butt-tickler of a stache), constantly sought after ways to minimize the damage done to the body with exercise and maximize the ability to recover from hard exercise.  He was one of the first to truly think beyond the mind-numbing mindset of “exercise is good, so the more the merrier!”

“An ideal workout should… utilize a minimum of the body’s biochemical reserves… the routine must not be carried on so long or repeated so frequently that it depletes the body’s reserves in an attempt to compensate for the merely exhaustive effects of the workout with nothing leftover…” 

~Mike Mentzer

The two primary dangers of exercise (aside from injury) are intensity and duration.  It’s fair to say that the higher the intensity, the shorter the duration must be for the exercise to be safe, productive, and sustainable.  Likewise, the longer the duration, the lower the intensity must be.

Both high-intensity and long-duration exercises done at a much lower intensity have benefits.  What I like about low-intensity exercise is that it is enjoyable, you are typically doing a variety of activities in a variety of ranges of motion and moving your body physically for a large portion of the day (avoiding spending too much time sitting).  Recreational activities like sports, hiking, swimming, gardening, and similar things fit into this category.  But these activities probably aren’t going to have much of an impact on your overall physiology.

Let’s say you are in your 50’s and you are noticing your strength really declining quickly (my 50-something brother-in-law today told me he’s noticed that time off from exercise causes his strength to decrease much more quickly than it used to when he was younger).  Walking up stairs is getting really hard.  You have trouble just standing up from a chair.  You get worn out after 4 minutes of sex and have to switch positions.  You get winded just doing little things around the house, much less doing the things you used to.  Maybe your bone mass has decreased as well.

Crap, Ninja Warrior is on now.  I may have to postpone this post another day…

If you have some of those aforementioned issues, and you really want to get some of your youth and vitality back and slow down or even reverse part of the natural physical descent that takes place with aging…

High-intensity exercise of a short duration is generally much more effective than low-intensity exercise done for a long duration.  While a combination of both should probably be performed – there’s no doubt that you get more bang for your buck doing high-intensity exercise.  If you have trouble walking up the stairs, see how much easier it gets when you double your leg strength.  That may sound like a lofty goal, but it can be done, and be done, by most people, with a total of just a half hour of leg presses (spread out over several months).

That’s efficiency.  And the toll upon the body and the metabolism, as well as the total exposure to stress hormones (more or less the universal cause of degenerative disease), is small.

But generating intensity and truly performing productive muscular work that leads to big increases in strength requires some technique and some understanding.

We started out discussing Body By Science, a great primer on doing the most productive strength-training work with the least risk of injury or overtraining.  Each exercise is done at a slow tempo, taken to true muscular failure, and only repeated once.  1 set.  3-5 exercises. Once per week.  A 10-15 minute weekly time commitment.

We further discussed how to fatigue the muscle even more by really focusing on the negative portion of the exercise in a post on Eccentric Exercise.  The negative portion of an exercise – or where you are lowering the weight instead of raising it, tires long after you’ve reached total exhaustion on the positive phase of the exercise.  So exhausting the negative portion of the exercise is higher in intensity.

Today I thought it was worthy to bring up a couple of other major factors in achieving maximal intensity – or what you could consider maximum efficiency (most productivity in the least amount of time).

Co-author of Body By Science and close personal of friend of the late Mike Mentzer, John Little has also created MAX Contraction, yet another type of high-efficiency, high-intensity exercise.  It too, is a good form of exercise that is safe, effective, and very time efficient.  I haven’t read his book on the subject, but I assume from what I know that this type of exercise tries to capitalize on two basic fundamentals…

1)      Fatiguing your muscle in the strongest range of motion

2)      Fatiguing your static strength (holding the weight in place – neither up nor down)

With each basic movement – such as pushing let’s say, you have parts of the motion where you are stronger and parts of the movement where you are weaker.  If you are doing a pushup, it’s much harder to go from the floor to the halfway point than it is from the 2/3 point to a full plank position where your elbows are locked out.  You are stronger at the top of the movement than the bottom or middle range.  If you are doing regular repetitions, you must stop when the weakest link has become fatigued.  Yet you have lots of juice left in the stronger portions of the movement.  So you haven’t achieved full exhaustion.

The premise of MAX Contraction is holding weight in the strongest portion of any given exercise and exhausting your muscle in its strongest range – which takes it to a deeper level of exhaustion.  We will definitely discuss this deeper in future posts on the topic of exercise, as this principle can be used to develop tremendous strength and muscle density with minimal muscle growth (for those desiring that, and I suspect from a health and metabolism standpoint, creating greater muscle density and strength rather than mass is probably superior).

Likewise when you reach muscular failure pushing a weight, you still have strength to hold that weight in place for 10 seconds or longer.  This is your static strength, and it is greater.  So if you go until your static strength fails, you’ve taken your muscle to a greater level of challenge.  MAX Contraction takes advantage of these two simple principles to subject your muscle to a much greater challenge than just doing a regular repetition until you can’t perform any more.  This won’t trigger swollen muscles developed through sarcoplasmic hypertrophy like traditional weight training.  But it may have a superior impact on strength and metabolic health with less hormonal damage or taxation on your recuperative abilities than typical muscle-building training.

Anyway, the training is discussed in this really good interview and demonstration of the exercise.  If you are like me, and spend twice as much time watching exercise than actually performing it (and by twice I mean like 26 times), you should enjoy it.  (Embedding is disabled for this badboy, so you’ll have to watch it on youtube).

http://youtu.be/ViMeLXZslys

I wouldn’t do this type of exercise exclusively, but just be conscious about your static strength and how to take your muscle to a higher level of exhaustion by going to the point in your exercises where your static strength fails.  I often do a static contraction or two into my workouts, or just work it in as sort of a finishing move.  My favorite static hold of late has been doing holds with chin-ups – like what they made chicks do back in P.E.  I hold it as long as possible with my chin above the bar, and then try my best to perform a slow negative after my static strength reaches failure.  It’s tough, and an amazing exercise for the abdominals as well.  It’s much tougher than it sounds!

A quick summary of how the exercise is performed…

1)      Load up an exercise with a heavier amount than normal.

2)      Move the weight, with or without assistance, into the position where your strength is greatest.

3)      Hold it as long as you possibly can  – the more weight you use, the shorter that time frame will be, and heavier is better for strength development… Both John Little and his colleague Pete Sisco recommend using a weight that causes you to reach failure in just 5 seconds.

A single set with 4-8 exercises once per week, with minimal rest in between exercises, makes for the exact kind of exercise I’m talking about – high-intensity with very short duration.  Efficient, safe, and very productive.  If you are looking at maximum reward with minimum time commitment and minimum drain on your health and vitality – in other words, the most sustainable and productive long-term exercise, the concepts in MAX Contraction, Pete Sisco’s Train Smart and similar exercise movements like Body By Science may be of great help to you.

Okay, gotta go now.  There’s cycling on tv.  So I must now spend another many hours watching something I don’t care about.  Hope it’s over before Dancing with the Stars begins.  Modern life is so time-consuming!

58 Comments

  1. First!
    for the first time :-)
    So, Matt if we are talking of losing weight, we still continue with other exercises- walking, zumba,dancing ,during the week?
    Also, do you think Iyengar yoga, where we hold the poses, is of any benefit for building muscle. I have read a few studies and it looks like iyengar yoga plays a role in mood and anxiety regulation and hormone balancing.

    Reply
    • Well I wouldn’t “try” too hard to lose weight. Only do the amount of exercise that is sustainable and enjoyable. The stronger your metabolism, the younger you are, and the better your overall health – generally the more exercise you can recover from.

      As far a Iyengar, a newbie might get some muscle growth. But in general it’s not a muscle-building activity. Static contraction isn’t all that great for muscle growth either because you don’t go through a full range of motion. But is better because of the added weight and intensity compared to something like Iyengar. For muscle growth that is.

      Reply
  2. You better be watching America’s Got Talent. It doesn’t get much better than that. :P
    Has anyone come up with weighted remote controls for the couch surfer? That would be the ultimate!

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    • I wanted to watch it. But mama likes Dancing with the Stars. Great idea with the weighted remote control man. That’s sweet.

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    • Hey Ivan :)
      I watch AGT too lol. Well I try to catch it when it’s on. Missed some of it last night cause I got a call. But thanks to the internet I can watch what I missed :)

      Anyway wanted to tell you… speaking of TALENT and the internet, we watched your videos. Found three. I was quite entertained and impressed. Loved ‘em! :)

      I definitely look forward to when you come back and YOU put your name on the Open Mic list! You were so right about that :)

      Gotta go. AGT is on!

      Reply
  3. Dr Mercola talks highly of the style of strength training mentioned in this article as well as an high intensity (sprint 8) aerobic workout by Phil Campbel. Would the the latter be considered not as good for metabloic health ?

    Also, I wonder if addition of muscle leads to lack of flexibility. I always get confused about whether I should aim for a supple flexible body with say Bikram yoga or a more musclebound frame ! Or perhaps I’ll just watch some tv and leave such philosophical thoughts for another time ..

    Reply
    • Bikram gave me lots of injuries. It didn’t give me a supple, flexible body. You can build incredible strength without becoming musclebound. And real flexibility. I have talked extensively about Sprint 8 and metabolism in Diet Recovery. But many do find reintroducing any kind of hard exercise detrimental to metabolism, with a sudden drop in body temperature and re-emergence of low metabolism related symptoms.

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      • Thanks Matt. Just bought the book.

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    • As a yoga teacher I can only say that building flexibility without strength leads to instability and building strength without flexibility leads to rigidity. No matter what you do you should be aiming for balance between the two.

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  4. Matt,
    I think Doug from Body by Science says that the amount of muscle mass someone can gain is only genetic, not based on the type of exercise. What would you say to this claim? And could you clarify how the workouts would be different for a strength focused workout compared to a muscle building workout? You say that the strength building workout would be more like the static contractions? What would the muscle building workout be like? Thanks.

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    • Genetics are a big factor, and much is genetically predetermined. But I think that’s a copout for Body By Science’s inability to put size on a lot of people too. Size usually comes from doing higher volume training and doing muscular work in an oxygen-deprived state. So, for example, doing sets in rapid succession with little rest in between generally triggers more muscle growth than waiting several minutes in between sets and allowing full recovery. The stresses on the muscle are much lower when you rest in between sets or do not take the sets to failure or at least close to it.

      Body By Science is awesome because of its simplicity, safeness, and efficiency, but you’re unlikely to see any competitive bodybuilders using it. If this was a site about bodybuilding, we probably wouldn’t be talking about things like MAX contraction. But this is regular everyday stuff. I never could do regular strength training sustainably because I am extremely injury prone and extremely sensitive to overuse injuries. I had to quit baseball at 19 from arm trouble, cycling at 22 due to neck problems, skiing at 26 from back injuries, etc. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I actually got healthy enough to perform regular weightlifting without elbow and shoulder problems.

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  5. And thanks for posting. I enjoyed this article!

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  6. Humbug. To get any gains from ultra short single set workouts after the first few weeks requires berserk effort, which drains the adrenals far worse than multi-set workouts taken to less than failure. If you count in the resultant brain fog and loss of productivity, Arthur Jones school workouts actually take longer than conventional bodybuilding workouts.

    And with multi-set exercise taken not to failure, it’s real easy to get a great endorphin rush.

    Reply
    • I haven’t noticed that effect at all, nor has anyone else mentioned this. I get strength gains very easily doing single set exercise. Muscle gains not so much. I have to perform more sets for hypertrophy. Or at least it seems that way. Much harder on the body though.

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  7. MAX contraction training really stresses the CNS and offers very little in the way of muscle growth. Strength gains are also limited to the range of the movement the contraction is limited to. I have experimented extensively with it and also other protocols like Power Factor Training – and at day’s end, I found them to be inferior for both strength development and muscle growth.

    I agree with Carl. multi-set training to not failure is far more effective (and less taxing) and it does not need to take much time – check out HST for a good training methodology.

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    • I’m interested in doing partials and Pete Cisco’s stuff because I heard that it does indeed add strength (not size), and it does translate to the full range of motion if you do some full range of motion exercise to accompany it. I’m not making an argument that it is good for hypertrophy. For that I am more likely to turn to people like Scott Abel or HST, which is pretty solid when it comes to triggering muscle growth.

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    • .In regards to your statement about strength gains being limited to the range of motion used in the workout…this is completely incorrect. This the type of “common knowledge” that Pete Sisco tries to dispel in his books.

      If you have done the Power Factor workout then I assume you may have also read Static Contraction by Pete Sisco.As Pete explains in the book (and I think also touched on by Dr. McGuff in Body by Science), muscle fibers only respond to the amount of mass you are trying to lift. The muscle fiber does not know where in the range of motion it is. A muscle fiber either contracts or relaxes. That’s all. Where it is in the range of motion has no bearing on the response of muscle fibers to training, except that in full range of motion the fibers get stretched out and can contract less, so you get a LESS effective workout by doing the full range of motion.

      Range of motion is felt in the JOINTS for sure. The strain you feel by working out with weights in a full range of motion is partly the stretching of the muscle fibers but also the strain of you destroying your joint tissue..

      Pete gives research evidence to show that working in partial range of motion actually DOES increase strength in the full range of motion, and it does so even faster than working in full range of motion because you can use much much more weight in partial range of motion – often twice as much or more. The amount of weight you use is all the muscle cares about. Heavier weight = more muscle growth. And you can lift heavier weights in partial ranges.

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      • Hey Matt that previous comment about range of motion was directed at Matthew’s statement above your statement. I thnk it ended up in the wrong place. My apologies for confusion.

        But now I would like to comment on what you said Matt, about wanting to try Static Contraction. Can I share my experience?

        I’m 47, about to turn 48. I did high volume workouts about 3 times a week for 35 years. I tried many protocols over the years, including some similar, although not exactly the same as Scott Abel/Kevin Weiss style workouts.

        Nothing really built me up big (I’m an ectomorphic type person). For the last ten years I’ve experienced no growth and even some loss of size and strength while continuing to workout regularly with high volume full range of motion exercises about 3 times a week. I thought I was just getting too old to grow muscle. Then I read Body by Science.

        I switched to the Body by Science protocol and immediate saw both size and strength gains that I could not believe. I keep records, so it’s on paper. I’m not making this up.

        Then after three months of the Dr. McGuff workout I switched to Static Contraction (Pete Sisco) and now I’m seeing unprecedented gains in strength and SIZE even beyond what the Body by Science workout was doing for me..

        I’m going to rip through my t-shirts like the Incredible Hulk if I keep doing this workout (at least that’s what my mother tells me. She wouldn’t lie would she?).

        Truthfully, my skinny body is not looking skinny anymore. For a strength example, I have increased my static leg press by 90 lbs. per workout for three workouts in a row (about three weeks apart between leg press workouts).. As a comparison, for the last ten years before this I have done the same amount of weight in full range of motion on the leg press machine at my gym and always ended up with an injury when I tried to go heavier. In contrast I have had no injuries with static contraction training despite using much heavier weights than I have ever attempted in my life..

        So I’m not sold on the idea that Static Contraction will not build hypertrophy. While there may be some differences in workouts in terms of what builds hypertrophy vs. what build strength, I think Dr. McGuff is correct in Body by Science when he attributes hypertrophy primarily to genetics.

        The Hodge Twins also have a funny video where they address hypertropy. They ask how come dudes in the joint are so “juked up” (muscular) when they got terrible food to eat? They conclude that the hypertrophy of the dudes in the joint is owing to genetics.

        So it must be true.

        Anyway, Static Contraction is giving me the size and strength gains I’ve never gotten from high volume workouts.

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        • I just started doing Static Contraction. Absolutely f’ing incredible man! I was shopping for a power rack for my house today after only doing it for 4 weeks! Already benching – in a full range of motion, 25 pounds more than I ever have in my life. In 4 freakin’ weeks!!! We’ll see if I add mass. I don’t add that much mass the other way so even if I don’t at least I’m gaining strength which is quite a thrill.

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          • That is awesome. Ive always wanted to try it out but im very sceptical about it.

    • Matthew said “strength gains are also limited to the range of movement the contraction is limited to”.

      I say…
      Matt you are mistaken,
      The position of full contraction is the one spot in a given muscle’s range of motion where maximum contraction of the fibers are possible, so by increasing strength in the full contracted position, you also increase strength whole range of motion – it only stands to reason.
      Moreover a full range of motion limits the amount of resistance one can maximally contracted against, owing to the fact that when using a full range of motion one must move through position’s of disadvantaged leverage, thus stimulate a lesser degree of fibers.

      Reply
  8. I don’t know if there is any science behind it, but in some instructional videos (on clubbell traning, for example) you are told not hold any weight for over 5 seconds, otherwise it could start tearing connective tissue.

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  9. I did a round of Tabata squats last Wednesday. I was SO sore the next few days (quads and glutes). Going up stairs was hard and going down stairs was incredibly hard. I can actually still feel a little soreness today, 5 days later, when I extend my leg, but at least it doesn’t hurt with regular walking. I’m hoping I can build up to being able to do them regularly.

    Reply
    • Yeah I get that too if I do multiple sets with squats. It’s brutal. Takes me 3-4 days to get the soreness out.

      Reply
      • Yeah, I’m not the only one! I find that when I do multiple sets of squats (back or goblet), *not* to failure, using a weight that isn’t that difficult for me, I sometimes end up with painful soreness for days. That wasn’t always the case. I was lifting much more often and with higher weights in college, and never remember this. Then again, I was eating a lot more calories, and taking creatine, then. I’ve been making an effort to eat more calories (sugars in particular) lately. That may be helping with recovery, though it’s probably too soon for me to say so.

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  10. Offtopic: is it possible for you to move the twitter-fb-youtube sidebar to some other portion of the page maybe? It blocks the text when reading on both mobile and pad (where the devices fills the whole width with text).

    Excellent blog, though.

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    • I concur

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  11. A number of authors getting good results rely on intensity, but there are several brain-damage-inducingly stupid comments in the video you linked to that make me doubt this whole approach.

    For instance, the idea that 300 lbs of weight is better than 150 lbs of weight — IGNORES LEVERAGE! Are you f’in kidding me!? OF COURSE you can hold 2x the weight when the leverage is twice is good! I don’t need John Little to tell me that – Archimedes established that in 300 BC!

    The question is, is the muscle producing any more force? No, it is not. You’re just adding weight (which is damaging) without making the muscle work any harder than a lower weight as a worse leverage point. You know how Scott Abel gets mad results with lower weight? Right – just like that.

    Anyway, when someone says something that stupid it makes me wonder how well they actually understood the research papers they supposedly read.

    Furthermore, isolation exercises are dumb. So what if you’re maximally tiring out the tricep in isolation? In the real world you’re only as strong as the weakest link in the chain, so you have to work the whole chain. Training should reflect functional movements as closely as possible for this reason. I’m sticking with the squat and the deadlift.

    Reply
    • Squat and deadlift in a full range of motion are much better for producing muscle growth. I’m not arguing that. I also wouldn’t argue that the squat and deadlift are the two most intimidating and injury-producing of all the major bodybuilding exercises – especially for someone over 50 and/or someone who has never done any kind of weight training. Because they are. This is more about getting someone doing nothing to do something, and not have a negative outlook on resistance exercise. Getting people started, making progress, not getting hurt, and not reversing their positive metabolic improvements obtained during refeeding is more of the point of highlighting these forms of exercise. While the authors have many blindsides, the types of training they have devised do have usefulness. Especially if one is to understand the principles behind exercise in general and use various methodologies with discretion (instead of say, blindly doing MAX Contraction or BBS by the book as if it’s the new “it” way to exercise).

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  12. Matt, I thought you were going to cut the BS and focus on postings that had maximal impact on health and functional well being…something at least supporting 80-20 rule, i.e. big benefit for little investment. Here you have maybe 1.5-98.5 rule or maybe even worse. This post is splitting hairs.

    While you were sitting on Mama’s couch, somebody got Ray peat in a video interview, go to peatatarian.com or Danny Roddy website May 12th I believe. Peat looks great for any age really let alone 76 or so. It is clear he is in good shape and he repeatedly says he is very sedentary. Roddy posts a link to before and after shots of Peat after using pregnenolone (not to be confused with provolone cheese).

    I wanted to get some confirmation on Peats health because of the heavy sugar usage he advocates and all the hormonal backdrop he talks about and this video is it. Peat has stated and clearly shows he has maintained good muscle tone and mass and bone health as well as the all important lack of a chicken neck

    Slow burn, eccentric this, max contraction that, is all just playing around when hormones are the real controlling factor to how much muscle one will carry subject to personal genetics of course. I noticed this myself when on the SAD, I would have to workout like a monster and as soon as I stopped I would even more quickly than it came, lose it all. Now after going Paleo high carb, I keep my muscle, and even just looking at exercise quickly show gains.

    Peat thinks poly fats are the culprit in obesity and I agree and am starting to think they also change the lean muscle mass set point for the worse as well.

    Peat, peat, peat. If you need more blog ideas please feel free to ask.

    Reply
    • I wanted to add that a comparison of Peat to all these Paleo low carb blogger blowhards would be epic. They all look like they are on the Old and Grey diet TM – look old before your time in 10 easy steps….

      Start with the guy who was laughing at you last month, free the animal proprietor, looks like he has aged 10 years over the last couple. Peat consistently talks about stress and aging and disease as being one in the same.

      Reply
    • Maybe I should do a blog post about how they have taken fat tissue samples of lean and obese people to see if there is a compositional difference between the two in terms of fatty acid balances, only to find that there is no difference. Don’t get me wrong. It is likely a factor and one I’ve written about at greath length (too great of length). But the reward to effort ratio is very small. I don’t know many who dramatically changed their body composition or even health just by eating different fats, with no other changes.

      Speaking of reward to effort ratio, perhaps I’m talking about these forms of exercise precisely because of the hormonal differences between the responses to various forms of exercise.

      And yes, this post is about getting big benefits with little investment, and how to better achieve that. Perhaps you should read it without thinking about what Peat’s neck looks like the whole time you are reading it, and without the juvenile idea that Peat’s lack of chicken neck therefore invalidates everyone else on earth’s research, ideas, and personal experience.

      Come back to Planet Earth Perry. It’s a nice place. Stay a while.

      Reply
  13. Hi Matt! Love your site! As a stay at home mother of 2, I am very interested in the idea of results with a minimum amount of time spent training. I am not tying to be a body builder by any means, but would love to feel fit/toned and get rid of some of the “fluff” that has accumulated on my tummy. Do you think a body by science approach will be a good starting point for me? For reference I am 5’0″ and weigh 118-120. Thanks!

    Reply
    • It’s best to just focus on better fitness, mobility, strength… and let the body composition change spontaneously without really dwelling on it or being tethered to some kind of preconcieved outcome. Doing some basic strength training like Body By Science and making sure you are progressing is probably enough to trigger some improvements.

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      • Awesome! Thanks!

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  14. Matt,
    Dumb question, but when should refeeders start to exercise, my temps have been 98.6 or above for a couple of weeks now, but my blood pressure is in the crapper (I own a cuff), I guess it was low to begin with but now its actually lower. I thought that it would go up not down, salt doesn’t seem to help much. Pulse is kinda fast though, except when its not.
    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Reply
    • No hard and fast rules about when someone should start to exercise again. Ideally people start to crave moving their bodies physically and start fantasizing about moving, dancing, lifting stuff, running, playing sports, etc. It’s really important to honor and obey these urges, just like it’s important to honor the urge to sleep, or eat, or whatever.

      BTW, I finally got my blood pressure up to normal, with higher heart rate and higher breathing rate the past 3 months! First time ever baby!

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      • (enters holding and ice cream sandwich in one hand and salt shaker in the other)

        fantasizing about playing sports… You my friend are hilarious, I fantasize about taking naps.
        Oh, well back to bed.

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  15. OT: Matt, about water. After reading all your RBTI posts I just started drinking when I felt like it. I have never been a huge water drinker but at work would keep a glass next to me to try to hydrate during the day. I still do that but drink less, just whenever I feel thirsty. BUT whenever I get my blood drawn (a lot, for thyroid stuff) my blood is thick and slow and they tell me I’m dehydrated and I need to drink more. Do you think I should try to “over drink” a little or just keep obeying what my body tells me? I don’t really feel different either way… but I worry about chronic dehydration… like wrinkles and stuff… thanks!

    Reply
    • I don’t think the water content would be what’s affecting the viscosity of your blood. The less I drink the more moist my skin becomes. It can get really oily if I get too carried away with it. If anything, I would be more worried about dried out skin with overdrinking, not underdrinking.

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  16. Very intriguing! I would certainly be interested in this method of exercise.

    Have taken some time off to recover and rest…and eat everything in sight (thanks RRARF!). I’m still recovering (I have major GI issues), but I’m getting quite restless and would love to engage in some resistance exercise a couple times a week. I don’t have any free weights but have a good pull up station and a whole body vibration machine (like a Powerplate), so I’m thinking doing some basic full body positions on these machines would be really beneficial.

    I’m hoping the added challenge from the Vibration machine will make holding simple positions, like pushups and squats, a bit more challenging so I’m not just hanging around for minutes at a time :o).

    Loving the direction this blog is going in Matt!

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  17. This form of exercise might be harmful to people with weak blood vessels, such as people with hypertension. Normal weight training movements alternate High strain contractive movement with moderate strain lengthening movement. This form of movement is high strain for relatively long periods of time. How tested is this form of exercise.

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    • Ive had my blood pressure checked directly after leg presses to failure using both full range and static holds, preforming the movement through a full range increased my blood pressure much more than the static holds.

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    • Not an expert but I think they are really similar. His gym is listed in the BBS directory.

      Reply
      • Christal, the power of ten workout in the video you posted is simply repeating the general premise in a different package to sell a product. There are slight differences that are meaningless in the grand scheme. It’s pretty much the same concept advocated by Arthur Jones inventor of nautilus gym equipment. Body by Science takes a very scientific approach to doing HIIT and goes into alot more detail in other aspects of the human body and working out. Power of ten might be easier for the layperson to read but there will not be any secrets in the power of ten book he didn’t reveal in the video as it’s a pretty simple concept.

        Reply
  18. You can’t fool me. You don’t own a TV! :-)
    Thanks for this, I have sort of been doing this on my last rep of each exercise. Doing strong lifts 5/5 so I can get all pumped up like Arnold.
    later
    your weird mom xo

    Reply
  19. Hey Matt,
    Really excited to see the changes! I definitely think you’re on the right track.
    Question about exercising: I spent a month resting and eating trying to get my temps up after a year of GAPS during which I have gained back almost all of the dress sizes I had lost. Now I’m doing exercise at an enjoyable rate trying to keep in mind that I want it to be something I can do for the rest of my life. Right now that looks like a burst of about 13 seconds in dead sprint once or twice a week. It’s really fun for me and crazy exhausting. But I rested and went for a second set this last week and noticed the pressure point for my adrenals was achy for several days afterward. Too much? Also, now that I’m eating the food I feel gross all the time and my arthritis aches are back. And my temp leveled off still too low. Am I exercising too early? Not enough? Your post seems so involved and my little sprints are pretty simple. Will they do the job? I’m pretty out of shape and feel like I lost ALOT of muscle doing GAPS, and now I’ve got my extra weight back to heave around and aches and pains to go with it. Do I just press on and hope my metabolism is speeding up even though my temps aren’t rising this month? I’m so confused.

    Reply
    • I would exercise regularly and allow your body to start adjusting to it. Much of the stress may very well be from the sudden and abrupt foray into it. I would expect to feel not so hot as you start exercising again, but try to eat and rest well so that you recover, get stronger and fitter, and start to become more resilient. In a few months some of those problems should have sorted themselves out. Exercise is amazing for making pain in the joints disappear.

      Reply
  20. Ive been using max contraction and max pyramid now for 2 years now, its not only allowed me to work around old injuries (knee and shoulder), ive experienced far Superior strength AND size gains training this way. Having said this, i wouldn’t recommend it exclusively, as Mike Mentzer put it “there can be too much of a thing”, its high stress high intensity exercise for sure, and i’m not so sure training more infrequently is the answer…especially if using John’s omega set training.
    My best results came for training with a combination of both static holds and an “almost” full range of motion.

    Reply
  21. I’ve been reading the book Max Contraction Training as of recent. It seems that this protocol is primarily used with machines. Could one still train with this protocol and only use dumbbells and/or resistance bands?

    Reply
    • The best is to use barbell’s in a Power Rack and do Pete Sisco’s Train Smart protocol or something similar. Static Contraction seems to work because you can use really heavy weights – that’s why I doubt resistance bands or dumbells would work very well. I do static holds with over 400 pounds for example.

      Reply
  22. Im really interested in doing the Static Contraction Training. But im very sceptical in terms of if it will really increase my muscle and strength so i can run faster with sports.

    Also i have never seen anyone posting pictures or videos of their results using SCT. That really frustrates me aswell.

    Also Pete Sisco and Greg Karr almost never responds to questions on their site etc

    Reply
    • I was super skeptical as well, but this is one of those rare things that exceeded my expectations.

      Take the increase in the last week, just from one workout to the next….

      Bench = +10 pounds
      Deadlift = +20 pounds
      Squat = +20 pounds
      Shrug = +10 pounds
      Lat hold = 10 pounds, full range when from 160X8 to 170 X 9
      Curl = +5

      Reply
  23. Matt,
    What would you recommend is the safest exercises to introduce to tone things up after coming off of refeeding? Are push-ups and things of that nature going to mess things up?

    Reply
    • No, that won’t mess anything up.

      Reply
  24. Matt, just like with eating, I think folks need to remember to listen to their own bodies. I still do BBS but did develop a nagging, nebulous pain in the scapula area (upper back) since early forays into it a year ago, I think primarily bcs the shoulder press machine at the gym was not a good fit for me (most of machines seem to me to be built for men – I find some of them work for me and some don’t). I use free weights for that particular exercise now, and prefer not to sit for it since sitting de-activates the thoracic spine (mid-back).

    Like you, I am prone to overuse injuries and have to be careful. I try to make sure I stay on top any imbalances – even ones that come from sendentary activities like sitting and computer use can become pretty serious. I recently discovered these core training exercises to help prevent back and overuse injuries http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/6-Exercises-for-a-Balanced-Body and the logic there makes sense to me, even though the audience for that site is endurance athletes and I don’t do that stuff anymore. The exercises seem to be helping so far (knees feel better, shoulder and back aches less) and I am going to try adding them on some of my off days since it seems like I can’t do HIT more than 2x per week without taking a hit to metabolism, and often get the itch to be more active than that.

    Reply

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