My experiment with the Body by Science "Big Five"
May-September 2009

This page is a supplement to the more comprehensive account of my evfit exercises posted a year ago.

In April and May 2009 I read Body by Science by Doug McGuff and John Little and found that I have not been so impressed with a book on exercise since Pavel Tsatsouline's first book. [5] By 'impressed' I mean both favourably persuaded by the contents and convinced I should try it out. I recorded my thoughts and progress as it occurred. It's bound to be tedious reading, so I suggest you bypass the detail and skip from one session summary directly through to the next. Or, you can leap straight to my conclusions.

13 May 2009 - first BbS session
My first Big Five, using standard gym machines (none have offset cams)

Leg press
Weight 15 [1], based on being able to squeeze out 10 at weight 20 and cautious beginning
Other settings: Front setting 3 1/2 holes showing; back setting 2 1/2 holes showing
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down three times. TUL not recorded. Those legs were shaking
Comments: Psychological failure (concern about injuring myself if I progress to physical failure)

Chest press
Weight 7.5 [1],
Other settings: Seat column showing 2 1/2 holes
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down three times. TUL not recorded.
Comments: Physical failure achieved

Seated row
Weight 6 [1],
Other settings: Chest pad bar showing 1/2 hole; seat column showing 3 1/2 holes; hands on horizontal hold
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down three times. TUL not recorded.
Comments: Psychological failure only

Pull down
Weight 7.5 [1],
Other settings: None
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down four times. TUL not recorded.
Comments: Psychological failure only - need to hold isometrically for as long as possible before giving up

Overhead press
Weight 7 [1],
Other settings: Seat column showing 1/2 holes
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down about three times. TUL not recorded.
Comments: Psychological failure only - but close to physical

Summary of first session
Disappointed by my failure to achieve physical failure in all but one exercise. However, I must have done something right as I felt full-body tiredness through for the next 4 -5 hours, something I have not felt for years. On the other hand, there was no muscular soreness following this initial session – I attribute this to the comprehensiveness of my evfit routine, not to the lightness of this session. I need to be able to see an analogue clock easily to time TUL. I can understand the importance of having what Americans call a "buddy" to (a) encourage you through to failure and (b) be ready to take the weight and so avoid injury at the point of failure. On 18 May I went back to the gym and did most of the body core exercises listed here for Mondays and Fridays. I did this because I find The Big Five do little for the stabilizers or the body as a whole (balance, poise, movement, coordination). On to next summary

20 May - second BbS session
My second Big Five, using same machines in the same order as 13 May. No record kept of details, but the weights, TUL, the order I visited each machine were all similar to 13 May.

Summary of second session
Similar to first session, but no marked full-body tiredness. Still concerned about the narrowness of The Big Five and so again returned to the gym (on 25 May) and did most of the body core exercises listed here for Mondays and Fridays. On to next summary

27 May - third BbS session
My third Big Five, using standard gym machines (none have offset cams)

Leg press
Weight 15 [1]
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down three times. 2'20" TUL. Those legs were shaking more violently than previous sessions
Comments: Psychological failure, but satisfyingly close to physical. Had to pause for a second at full extension to readjust my feet, which had been slipping up the footplate with the pressure and the shaking.

Chest press
Weight 7.5 [1]
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. 1'15" TUL.
Comments: Physical failure achieved

Seated row
Weight: 6 [1]
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. 1'25" TUL.
Comments: Psychological failure, but satisfyingly close to physical.

Pull down
Weight: 7.5 [1]
Other settings: None
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down four times. TUL 1'10".
Comments: Psychological failure only

Overhead press
Weight: 7 [1]
Other settings: Seat column showing 1/2 holes
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL was either 1 or 2 minutes. No clock within view of the machine; if I go to physical failure, I don't feel like getting out of my seat promptly to check the clock for TUL.
Comments: Physical failure. Had to wait a couple of minutes for the machine to become free.

Summary of third session (27 May)
Similar to second session. Still concerned about the narrowness of The Big Five and so decided to wait through the BbS 7 days for recovery and then to revert to my usual 3-day a week routine over the next seven days (3, 5 and 8 June) and to allow myself two days rest before my next BbS workout. Not much sponteneity here, but it's a way I can track performance with some degree of rigour. On to next summary

Intervening sessions

3 June - My weights and reps were about the same as usual; BbS is doing me no harm. My dumbbell presses (35kg / 77lbs) were no better than usual, but I put this down to the fact that I always take these to failure and that I do them slowly - in other words, it already has some similarity to a BBS session.

6 June - (not 5th as planned) - the deadlift was surprisingly easy. In the few months before I began BbS I had been struggling to do three deadlifts with 175kg (386 lbs) but today lifted 3 x 175 with ease. A year earlier I had lifted 195 kg (430 lbs). I attribute this improvement to either BbS or working out early in the afternoon rather than the usual morning session (around 9:00 am). My kettlebell snatches were also easier than usual. Beginning 24 hours later and lasting over the subsequent three days, I had a tightness in my lower back - not a problem, except when I do my daily "bioassay" of putting my socks by standing unaided on one foot.

9 June - (not 8th as planned) - Pretty much my usual Friday session. Weaker grip than usual (and this session was mid-afternoon), and grip is important to get down from the gravity boot exercises as well as for the windscreen wipers. All other exercises seemed to be neither better nor worse than usual.

11 June - fourth BbS session
My fourth Big Five, using standard gym machines (none have offset cams)

Leg press
Weight 16 (up one plate) [1]
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. 2'50" TUL (up 30")
Comments: As close to physical failure as I could get without risking injury if I was forced to collapse. Those legs were shaking as last time for the last 30 seconds. Again paused for a second at near full extension to readjust my feet, which slip up the footplate with the pressure and the shaking.

Chest press
Weight 7.0 [1] (Should have been heavier, but I made a careless reference to my notes)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. 2'40" TUL (up 1'25").
Comments: Physical failure achieved

Seated row
Weight: 7 [1] (up one plate)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. 2'20" TUL (up 55").
Comments: Psychological failure, but satisfyingly close to physical. Final pull did not reach full distance.

Pull down
Weight: 8 [1] (up 0.5 plates)
Other settings: None
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down four times. TUL 1'15" (up 5").
Comments: Psychological failure only - dropped out when tension in my neck was beginning to cramp

Overhead press
Weight: 8 [1] (up one plate)
Other settings: Seat column showing 1/2 holes
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL 1'50" (no record of change from last session).
Comments: Physical failure.

Summary of fourth session (11 June)
A satisfying session in terms of exhaustion, but I felt great for the bicycle ride home and splitting firewood and for the rest of the evening, so I'm probably not trying as hard as Doug McGuff would like to see. I realize that now I have a performance benchmark I should change my focus from aiming for failure to aiming for higher weights or longer TUL; that way, failure will come. As I am knackered after each exercise, I need to prepare my proforma so that it's as easy as feasible to set the machine up correctly and to write down each TUL and comments between exercises. On to next summary

Intervening sessions

18, 20, 22 June - No noticeable changes from last intervening sessions except for 20th: I surprised myself by doing 5 x 175 kg deadlifts when I usually do only three - and those three are difficult. I'm using all these exercises as a benchmark to see if doing BbS once a fortnight is having any effect.

24 June - fifth BbS session
My fifth Big Five, using standard gym machines

Leg press
Weight 17 (up one plate - 6.25%) [1]
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. 2'54" TUL (up 4")
Comments: As close to physical failure as I could get without risking injury if I was forced to collapse. Again my legs were shaking as much as last time for the last 30 seconds. Again paused for a second at near full extension to readjust my feet, which slip up the footplate with the pressure and the shaking.

Chest press
Weight 8.0 (up one plate - 14%) [1]
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. TUL: 2'30" (down 10" - 6.25%).
Comments: Physical failure achieved

Seated row
Weight: 7.5 [1] (up half a plate - 7%)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL: 2'15" (down 5" or 3.6%).
Comments: Satisfyingly close to physical failure. Final pull reached only half full distance, but I did not let weight out as slowly as I might have before giving up. Grip sore.

Pull down
Weight: 8 [1] (no change)
Other settings: None
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down four times. TUL 1'35" (up 20" or 27%).
Comments: Physical failure achieved. Grip sore.

Overhead press
Weight: 8.5 [1] (up half a plate – 6.25%)
Other settings: Seat column showing 1/2 holes
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL 1'35" (down 13.6%).
Comments: Physical failure to the extent that I could not push up beyond a quarter of the way in my final lift. On the other hand, I could have lowered the weight more slowly than I did. If I could use machines with offset cams, I would have been able to push through the weakest point of the lift.

Summary of fifth session (24 June)
A satisfying session in terms of exhaustion, this time the bicycle ride home was a new experience: when I paused at the traffic lights, my body was shaking slightly and I felt as if I had just escaped a serious accident - that is, the shaking was the same as shaking from a fright. [2] Splitting firewood later that afternoon was OK, but I reckon I'm closing in on the effort Doug McGuff would like to see. [6] I used a stopwatch today, but I need to have it where I can see it easily during the exercise so I can press on till I have exceeded the previous TUL. On to next summary

Intervening sessions

2 July - My usual Monday session. It's a fortnight since I did these exercises. Weights and reps were about the same as usual, but perhaps the 'full contact twists' and the 'windscreen wipers' challenged me a bit more than they did before BbS - hard to tell as it's always tough. My dumbbell presses (7 x 35kg / 77lbs) - a good benchmark because my form is identical each session and I always go to physical failure - were no better or worse than usual.

6 July - My usual Wednesday session. Like 20 June I did more than my usual 3 x 175 kg deadlifts: 5 then and 6 today. I should have gone to 185kg.

8 July 2009 - sixth BbS session
My sixth Big Five, using standard gym machines. Today I continued my experiment and think I came up with a failure. I decided to do my usual Friday gym session at about 10 o'clock in the morning on the way to work and the following BbS session on the way home. See the results and my summing up below.

Leg press
Weight 18 (up one plate – 6%) [1]
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. 2'28" TUL (down 26")
Comments: It may have been the extra plate, it may have been the other workout this morning, but the TUL fell and there was more pain around full compression in the final two reps.

Chest press
Weight 8.5 (up half a plate – 6%) [1]
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. TUL: 1'49" (down 41" or 27%).
Comments: Physical failure achieved – squirming at near failure (rotten form!) to achieve the second press. Just before failure I managed to hold the weight stationary for about 15 seconds.

Seated row
Weight: 7.75[1] (up a quarter plate – 3%)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL: 2'15" (no change).
Comments: Physical failure. Final pull again reached only half full distance. Grip sore.

Pull down
Weight: 8.25 [1] (up a quarter plate – 3%)
Other settings: None
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL 1'55" (up 20" or 21%).
Comments: Physical failure achieved.

Overhead press
Weight: 8.5 [1] (no change)
Other settings: Seat column showing 1/2 holes
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL 1'35" (no change).
Comments: Physical failure to the extent that I could not push up beyond half of the way in my final lift. Held the load stationary to match last time's TUL. On the other hand, I could have lowered the weight a little more slowly than I did.

Summary of sixth session (8 July 2009)
Total TUL 10'02". I used a stopwatch again, but I need to have it where I can see it easily during each exercise to monitor it so I can press on till I have exceeded the previous TUL – note to self: "take duct tape to gym". I usually feel mildly fresh and invigorated after my Friday body core session, and this was the case today after this morning's session. But when I returned to the gym for BbS at about 3:30 pm, I could tell, once I began exercising, I was actually tired from the morning session. Not only did this weaken me for BbS, it also weakened me psychologically so that physical failure was harder to achieve than usual BbS sessions. So I won't be doubling up again. At least it has told me that my regular sessions are more intense than my after-session sensations lead me to believe. I noticed in this morning's Friday session that my grip is weaker than it has been for a long time (getting off the squat rack after gravity boot exercises and windscreen wipers). Iron Minds gripper, here I come! I think the weakened grip is another example of BbS not giving me the all-round work I get from my regular palaeo sessions. Likewise my lats were sore within 3 hours from the plate pull-over; I haven't experienced that for years – but, then, it's years since I went without a plate pull-over for 16 days before. The soreness was slight and lasted only a day. On to next summary

Intervening sessions

15 July - As for 2 July. My dumbbell presses (7 x 35kg / 77lbs) – a good benchmark because my form is identical each session and I always go to physical failure – were no better or worse than usual. This is beginning to get my attention as I would have expected some measurable improvement on this one.

17 July - Deadlifts today and I did a couple consecutively at 185kg / 408 lb. They were not easy, but in the months before I began BbS, I don't think they would have been possible. I had lifted only 175 kg this year (195 last year at 59 yo).

20 July - As for the morning of 8 July. Surprisingly my grip was more than adequate for my gravity boot exercises and windscreen wipers.

23 July 2009 - seventh BbS session
My seventh Big Five, using standard gym machines. Today I re-shuffled the order of the exercises to get closer to the order McGuff recommends. I had intended to follow his order exactly, but the requisite machines were being decorated by other gym-goers. I kept the weights the same as last week. See the results and my summing up below.

Seated row
Weight: 7.75 (no change)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. TUL: 2'17" (up 2 seconds - 1.5%).
Comments: Physical failure. Final pull again reached only half full distance.

Overhead press
Weight: 8.5 (no change)
Other settings: Seat column showing 1/2 holes
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL 2'18" (up 43 seconds - 43%).
Comments: Physical failure to the extent that I could not push up beyond half of the way in my final lift. Held the load stationary to match last time's TUL. On the other hand, I could have lowered the weight a little more slowly than I did.

Pull down
Weight: 8.25 (no change)
Other settings: None
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL 1'56" (up 1 second - <1%).
Comments: Physical failure achieved.

Chest press
Weight 8.5 (no change)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. TUL: 1'34" (down 15 seconds - 14%).
Comments: Physical failure achieved – squirming at near failure (rotten form!) to achieve the second press. Just before failure I managed to hold the weight stationary for about 10 seconds.

Leg press
Weight 18 (no change)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. 2'40" TUL (up 12 seconds - 8%)
Comments: Virtually no leg shaking. Perhaps it was because of the heavier dead lift a week ago; perhaps because I did the leg press last (it had previously been the opening exercise); perhaps because I drove to the gym rather than cycling. It felt like very hard work sooner.

Summary of seventh session (23 July 2009)
Total TUL 10'45". I used a stopwatch again, and prepared it by gluing a strip of stiff leather 15mm wide to the back of it and then used duct tape to stick the stopwatch's leather strip where I could see it easily in each exercise. It certainly helped me squeeze out a few more seconds of TUL. Not so tired after this session, in fact the thought of tiredness or of having any unusual feeling after the workout just didn't enter my mind - must be getting accustomed to BbS. My aim for the next few sessions is to build my TUL up to 12 minutes, so I won't be adding more weight till I have achieved that. On to next summary

Intervening sessions

30 July - As for 2 July. My dumbbell presses (8 x 35kg / 77lbs) – a good benchmark because my form is identical each session and I always go to physical failure – were a little better than usual. I have not mentioned it previously, but for much of this year I have been using a seated crunch machine once a week. I don't think my performance on this has increased over the whole time I have been using BbS. Nor has it deteriorated. For the sake of this experiment with BbS I have kept to the same routine: 16 reps x 12 plates in first foot position; 8 x 12 in second foot position; 5 x 18 in first foot position.

3 August - Today I combined my usual Wednesday session (I think of Wednesday as my "deads" day) and Friday session (Friday I treat as a body-core day). I did three consecutive deadlifts at 185kg / 408 lb. They felt easier than the two I did last time – back on 17 July. Otherwise an unexceptional session – more grunting and gasping from me than from other gym users. I used to deliberately refrain from making noises (and also from dropping weights) out of politeness and consideration for other gym users, but I stopped that when I realized I was holding back from a new max lift for that reason. Luckily I can use the 'heavy weights room' at my gym where weight lifters also train and where a reasonable amount of unostentatious noise is tolerated. [4]

7 August 2009 - eighth BbS session
My eighth Big Five. Today I managed to take the exercises in McGuff recommended order. I kept the weights the same as last week. See the results for each exercise and my summing up below.

Seated row
Weight: 7.75 (no change)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. TUL: 2'19" (up 2 seconds - 1.5%).
Comments: Physical failure. Final pull again reached only half full distance.

Chest press
Weight 8.5 (no change)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. TUL: 2'08" (up 34 seconds - 36%).
Comments: Physical failure achieved – squirming at near failure (rotten form!) to achieve the second press. Just before failure I managed to hold the weight stationary for about 10 seconds.

Pull down
Weight: 8.25 (no change)
Other settings: None
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL 2'02" (up 6 seconds - up 5%).
Comments: Physical failure achieved.

Overhead press
Weight: 8.5 (no change)
Other settings: Seat column showing 1/2 holes
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL 1'45" (down 33 seconds - 24%).
Comments: Physical failure to the extent that I could not push up beyond half of the way in my final lift. I don't like this movement; it's the least palaeo of the Big Five. It's an exercise i have never done in my life to now.

Leg press
Weight 18 (no change)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. 3'06" TUL (up 26 seconds - 15%)
Comments: Virtually no leg shaking. Very tired after exercise. I just sat and gasped for a couple of minutes, not trusting fully my ability to walk with comfort. After 3-4 minutes I was still breathing heavily, but did not feel seriously tired.

Summary of eighth session (7 August 2009)
Total TUL 11'20". I used a stopwatch again, and it certainly helped me squeeze out a few more seconds of TUL. Tiredness after this session intense for first few minutes but dispersed over subsequent 15 minutes on the bicycle ride home. I should say that I have felt unusually bouyant, healthy, confident and strong over the past four or five weeks. Is this a result of BbS? On the other hand, BbS is not fun and I don't think I have ever found it so easy to confect an excuse for skipping or postponing gym sessions as i have since I began BbS. I usually look forward to gym sessions (though not those on which I do dead lifts), but once the novelty wore off, I don't look forward to my BbS sessions.

Intervening sessions

15 August - As for 30 July. No noticeable change, but no certainly no deterioration.

17 August - as for 17 July. My deadlift went backwards - I managed only one lift at 185kg yet had been hoping for three or to do one and go up to 195kg.

20 August - as for 20 July. Stable.

22 August 2009 - ninth BbS session
My ninth Big Five. Again I did the exercises in McGuff's recommended order. I kept the weights the same as last week except for the leg press. See the results for each exercise and my summing up below.

Seated row
Weight: 7.75 (no change)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. TUL: 2'22" (up 3 seconds - 1.5%).
Comments: Physical failure. Final pull again reached only half full distance.

Chest press
Weight 8.5 (no change)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. TUL: 1'53" (down 15 seconds - 18%).
Comments: Physical failure achieved – squirming at near failure (rotten form!) to achieve the second press. Just before failure I managed to hold the weight stationary about 1/3 of the way out for about 10 seconds.

Pull down
Weight: 8.25 (no change)
Other settings: None
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL 1'56" (no change).
Comments: Physical failure achieved.

Overhead press
Weight: 8.5 (no change)
Other settings: Seat column showing 1/2 holes
Performance: 10-15 seconds up and down. TUL 1'10" (down 35 seconds - 33%).
Comments: Did not complete this exercise as the pin jumped out of the stack part-way through. I don't like this movement; it's the least palaeo of the Big Five. It's an exercise i have never done in my life to now, and there is lingering, week-long soreness in my right shoulder, almost certainly from this exercise.

Leg press
Weight 18.5 (up 3%)
Other settings: As for 13 May
Performance: 15-20 seconds up and down. 2'52" TUL (down 14 seconds - 8%)
Comments: Leg shaking back again. Great burn! Very tired after exercise. I just sat and gasped for a couple of minutes, not trusting fully my ability to walk with comfort. After 3-4 minutes I was still breathing heavily, but did not feel seriously tired.

Summary of ninth session (22 August 2009)
Total TUL 10'13". I used a stopwatch again; I reckon it's essential. Tiredness after this session intense for first few minutes but dispersed over subsequent 15 minutes on the bicycle ride home. Disappointed to drop out of the shoulder press.

Intervening sessions

29 August - As for 30 July. The Russian Full Contact Twist felt slightly harder than usual. The dumbbell press was weak; I managed only 5 lifts whereas 7 or 8 would have been usual.

2 September - as for 17 July, but managed only one deadlift at 185kg

4 September - as for 20 July

At this point I have decided to drop the Body by Science protocols and return to my more varied range of exercises.

7 September - as for 30 July, but noted that the dumbbell press was my weakest for four months - reinforcing my decision to drop Body by Science.

11 September - among other things, three deadlifts at 185kg (better than last week). Felt 4 were in my grasp but I was not set up at the time to weigh up alterrnatives thoughtfully.

Conclusions

I began this experiment with BbS back in mid-May. I soon noticed that the range and type of movement felt too limited to test my balance, poise, proprioception or the resilience I get from sprinting, landing after a jump etc. So early June I inserted alternate weeks of my previous palaeo routines; this means I went (1) BbS (2) a week of recovery (3) my Monday session (4) 48 hours recovery (5) my Wednesday session (6) 48/72 hours recovery (7) my Friday session (8) 48/72 hours recovery (9) back to (1). I do, however, accept that the metabolic benefits of BbS may well exceed those provided through my palaeo workout.

One strong motivation for trying BbS was to avoid injuring my knees and hips with deadlifts. I note that Art DeVany is ambivalent about heavy lifting. Ten years ago he held up as a model the Iroquois men who could lift three times their body weight, saying that all men should be able to deadlift twice their body weight. This I have done virtually every week for 9 years. On 8 December 2008 Art DeVany declared his intention to work his way up to a deadlift of 500lbs; on 20 December it was 400lbs. Then on 21 April 2009, Art noted someone who injured himself seriously attempting a double bodyweight squat: "Where did the thought that at his age he ought to be able to do a double body weight lift come from?" I certainly don't want his reported three months of suffering, nor rods in my spine. So I am still attracted to the BbS leg press as a way to work those major muscles with minimal risk of significant injury.

If someone is already exercising in a broadly palaeo way and experiencing health, physical well-being and above average strength, it's not clear to me that BbS has much to offer other than injury minimization. However, I attribute my recent chronic shoulder soreness to overhead presses done as part of BbS.

As a reaction (not, I hope, an over-reaction), I am tempted to intersperse my palaeo exercises with sandbag workouts. A 40 or 50 kg sandbag can provide an all-body workout without the stresses on hips and knees that I am wary about from deadlifts.

Notes

1. The weights on the machines in my gym are plates with numbers painted on them. Clearly "15" represents neither 15 pounds nor 15 kilograms. My guess is that it's 150 pounds, but I do need to confirm this for each machine. I chose my initial weights after one or two full movements to estimate my one-rep max, being conservative rather than pushing for what might be more than 75% of my one-rep max, as I can see that – around the 75% point – it's 'time under load' (TUL) that is critical, not the weight.    Back to first session

2. In Body by Science Doug McGuff tells us that high-intensity exercise stimulates the production of adrenaline (p 38).    Back to fifth session

3. Clarence Bass posted a review of Doug McGuff's ideas in May 2009 and further thoughts in July.  Back to text

4. I have even seen in another gym near here signs on the wall asking patrons not to grunt or to drop weights. Luckily it's another gym; there is room for all approaches. Back to text

5. A year later another notable book came out: Paul Wade's Convict Conditioning. It's about bodyweight exercises (such as any prisoner could do without any equipment) and provides ten steps up to six advanced exercises (60 graded exercises): pushup, squat/pistols, pull-up, leg raise, bridge, handstand pushup. I do not endorse it as a program but, like Body by Science, it has much to commend it. I'm already doing the v-raises a couple of times a week. I suspect Paul Wade, if he exists, is not the sole author; the book is padded out with John De Cane's school-boy maccho and logorrheaic writing style. I also find the degree of difficulty for the ten steps to be inconsistent and pointing to the possibility that the authors have not actually progressed through their exercises themselves. However, the selection of these six bodyweight exercises, a staged approach to each and the idea that a gym is not necessary are things we can all learn from. Back to top

6. In April 2010 Doug McGuff, writing on Art DeVany's private blog, commented that "BBS is not enjoyable and is not meant to be". This is a very significant statement (and refreshingly honest) and applies to palaeo exercise generally. I have my own views on training to failure and on gentle exercise which are consistent with Doug's bold declaration. Back to text

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Page first posted 6 June 2009    Last updated 30 April 2010