Broadly, BBS calls for a very intense, ultra-slow weights workout once a week, potentially lasting no more than 12 minutes in total and is positively critical of long sessions or specifically designed to improve "aerobic fitness".
Even if this system is effective, do people think it's paleo, compared say to more 'natural,' or 'spontaneous' approaches?
asked byDavid_Moss (15613)
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on February 18, 2010
at 07:55 PM
I just finished Body By Science recently and highly recommend it.
Even if you don't follow their training plan, it's worth it for the background information. It does a great job of explaining muscle fiber composition, cellular metabolism, Krebs cycle, gene expression, the benefits of strength training, the harm of cardio, and so on. The authors give extensive citations to back everything up. It's great as a science-based primer to the underlying physiological basis for Paleo and the information is useful even if you aren't into weight training.
The training plan is actually a fairly small portion of the book. My biggest complaint about the training plan is that it's very Nautilus oriented. They did a good job of convincing me that Nautilus equipment is great but I don't have access to those machines so it's somewhat useless information to me. There is a brief section on adapting the basic workout to free weights but this section is tiny and has the feel of something that the authors tacked on just to avoid the criticism that the book is a Nautilus-only plan. It isn't clear what specific recommendations apply only to working out on Nautilus machines versus free weights so adapting takes some trial and error.
Since early January, I have been following a free weight strength training plan that is influenced by Body By Science. Obviously it's a little early to draw solid conclusions but so far I'm making gains that blow away my past experiences with conventional protocols (which I have extensive records for comparison). I'm getting better gains from working out one day a week versus 3-4 days a week in the past so I'm definitely sold. Makes me want to find a gym with Nautilus equipment so that I can try the exact Body By Science plan!
on February 19, 2010
at 07:50 PM
This is my first post here and all I have to offer is my own personal experience.
I am a 62 year old former athlete who for 6 years has been unwillingly sedentary due to a host of physical problems acquired in a lifetime of sport. College hockey player turned marathoner (@215 lbs.)/40 mile per week runner and lifelong weight lifter. As my foot arthritis, 3 knee surgeries, torn labrum, and 3 ruptured lumbar discs caught up to me I would resume training only to get reinjured. In November I began a paleo diet along the lines suggested by Dr. Harris. Encouraged by weight loss and a general sense of well-being I began Dr. McGuff's BBS. I'll spare you the numbers but this is the first time I have been free from injury recurrence in 6 years. My body shape has been transformed-the pear is gone, the V is somewhat back. More importantly, the neuropathy in legs and feet and all back pain is gone.
I have never liked nautilus machines but without them I could never have gotten started on this regime otherwise. I have substituted free weight lifts for variety-and when I have a spotter-and to assist in the stabilization you don't get with machines.
I know most of you were posting about levels of fitness and competition that I will never revisit but for me BBS has worked. One negative, it is mentally draining to have your goal of lift be failure.
on February 18, 2010
at 04:26 PM
Pure rubbish? Try telling that to Arthur Jones, creator of Nautilus, and Casey Viator:
"...during the first l4 days, Viator gained 28.93 pounds, a daily average of 2.06 pounds. During the next 3 days, he gained 3.92 pounds, a daily average of 1.3 pounds. During the following 5 days, he gained 6.09 pounds, a daily average of 1.2 pounds. And during the final 6 days, he gained 6.34 Pounds, a daily average of 1.05 pounds."
"Total "training time" (in and out of the gym) was exactly 298 minutes...4 hours and 58 minutes, an average of 24.8 minutes per workout." In about a month.
And Casey was no lightweight to begin with.
Also, Tim Ferriss:
Total workout time in 4 weeks? 4 hours...
A little longer than BBS, but pretty incredible results in very little time.
Also, if you had read the book, you would have seen pictures of people getting results with the BBS system.
And Dr. McGuff has owned his own gym, Ultimate Exercise since 1997. His co-author, John Little, has written three books on high intensity training, also owns a gym and with his wife have supervised more than 60,000 workouts...
But hey, since you are a competitive powerlifter, and have taken classes with respected coaches, you probably don't need to read the book to comment on it. You already have it nailed...
on February 19, 2010
at 02:32 AM
There is a difference between McGuff's approach and SuperSlow. It isn't quite as slow :) You still do multiple reps of each lift.
I've been following the Body By Science lifting plan for almost a year now. I've probably skipped about 1/5 of the weeks. I've been sticking to what he calls the Big Five. I also do sprints once or twice a week on an elliptical machine with the resistance all the way up and hit about 650 watts. It may not be the most paleo motion but it seems to work well and wears me the hell out.
I feel that I'm making great progress using BBS. Every week I do more on most of the lifts than the previous. I continue to get more muscular in appearance. I'm about as strong as I was about 6 years ago when I had been hitting the gym 3 days a week and did multiple sets on each machine for about 2 years straight. My wife is seeing similar results using BBS.
on February 18, 2010
at 03:56 PM
There are a couple concepts to this style of training- one is high intensity training (HIT) and one is super-slow.
HIT is a proven concept that has been used by some of the most elite body builders (Casey Viator was one of the originals) and mere mortals. In HIT one does low volume (often 1 good set) focusing on performing "big" exercises (squats, deadlifts, etc) intensely. Applying HIT properly, one could make significant gains with 12 minute workouts once or twice a week. But you still first need to take 12 minutes to get to the gym, 12 minutes to warmup, and 12 minutes to cooldown, etc, so of course saying "just 12 minutes" doesn't translate to reality.
Super-slow? I haven't tried that. I doubt he would promote it if some people didn't respond well to it. If anything it could be easier to use proper form and avoid injury.
Paleo: doesn't seem like there would be much super-slow. Explosive, yes. Dragging something heavy seems different than either explosive or super-slow. But just because it doesn't re-enact paleo doesn't mean it isn't good.
on April 16, 2010
at 11:28 AM
Exercise is exercise. It's all good in varying amounts depending on age/fitness and what you want to achieve.
Be wary of anyone who says they know (or have discovered) the "best" or the "only" way you should exercise; be it short or long, fast or slow, weighted or bodyweight, frequent or infrequent, machines or no machines, aerobic or anaerobic, cardio or no cardio, walking or jogging or sprinting or swiming, or anything else... they are wrong.
In my opinion there is no "best" other than to find activities that you enjoy enough to keep doing and remembering that abit of variety is usually good.
on February 19, 2010
at 08:04 PM
My own thoughts on BBS... I've been doing it since the autumn (so I'm certainly biased) but then I've use a variety of approaches before.
BBS hasn't worked any worse than any previous workouts, but it's difficult to know whether it's any better after such a short time. I'd say it has been slightly better but then I usually improve relatively quickly after switching to a new program and tend to improve more as I go on.
I don't have any theoretical attachment to BBS or not-quite-super-slow-but-pretty-slow itself. My one assumption is that more intense is generally better. BBS makes a pretty compelling case that BBS is the optimally intense way of stressing your muscles, allied to argument that heavy muscle activation is the most efficient route to the 'global metabolic conditioning' conventionally associated with cardio. This strikes me as pretty standard HIT logic to me. I'm open to either BBS or more power-based training generally being more intense.
McGuff's case is convincing insofar that all his claims rationally follow and are heavily referenced. I have no reason myself to judge claims like '45-90secs is the optimal time to train a muscle under BBS conditions,' or that performing a second set of such exercise produces no benefits... I just have to defer on the assumption that the empirical data he cites actually says what he says. Wish I had the book on me as a consequence, but have lent it out. I've never come across any comparable empirical case for the superiority of other HIT types and certainly doubt that non-HIT but more voluminous training is better.
I do intuitively think that more than just weight-lifting would be optimal, but McGuff isn't explicitly anti this- he notes that as muscular ability improves activity levels tend to spontaneously increase- his argument against extensive exercise is because of wear and tear, not because he thinks it's worthless.
on April 27, 2011
at 08:28 PM
My brother in law and I did the body by science workout for 16 weeks. We did the big five which consisted of seated row, chest press, pull down, leg press and overhead press once a week. We would do each of these exercises to failure. When our time under load exceeded 90 seconds we would increase the amount of weight for the lift. On week one I was lifting 615 lbs ( the total the weights from all 5 lifts). On week 16 I was lifting 935 lbs . My brother in law went from 540 lbs to 905 lbs. It may be only 10 minutes but it's intense. Some weeks I would be dreading those 10 minutes. If you are thinking of trying it out I would suggest you do it with a partner so that you can encourage each other to beat your previous weeks lift. Learning to dig deep and keep working at the end of a lift is a big part of this workout. I would definitely recommend this workout for someone who doesn't want to spend a ton of time at the gym. Most of the opposition I have come across to this workout have been from people who can't stand the thought of only going to the gym once a week.
on March 18, 2010
at 02:55 PM
I have tried BBS. I like the idea but I personally did not see significant gains working out 1x/week, even doing super-slow sets to failure and making what seemed like deep inroads. It may work well for maintenance of existing muscle, but I'm a "hard gainer" who is trying to add lean mass and it didn't do much for me. Ironically, the program I went to instead is from an old book by Ellington Darden (that advocates a 3x/week approach), which is working well so far.
(The irony, for those not in the know, was that Darden was an early employee and huge advocate of Nautilus and Jones' theories back in the day).
on March 18, 2010
at 01:15 PM
As a former Nautilus employee back in it's prime, I too thought Jones had found the rosetta. It was ultimately a program, like most, that works for a while and isn't particularly useful for long term hypertrophy. There were never legions of bulked up success stories. The few big names associated with Nautilus later admitted juicing. As stated above, Viator and Ferris were simply recapturing gains already achieved. The go-to wisdom will always be...old school: http://www.martygallagher.com/thoughts-on-the-nautilus-revolution
on February 18, 2010
at 03:00 PM
I like the fact that they promote paleo dieting, and I agree that chronic cardio is worse than useless.
But as a competitve powerlifter who has been weight training for years, who has taken several strength and conditioning classes with respected coaches like Charles Poliquin, and with several friends who are accomplished natural bodybuilders... I think it is pure rubbish (and almost a case of fraud) to tell people they can change their body composition in 12 minutes per week!
Personally, I would hesitate to lead someone on by saying they could change their body in 12 minutes per day! But per week? Pure B.S. The superslow single rep gimmick has been around forever, and I have never seen a photo of someone who built an impressive physique that way. Notice how the authors never discuss any real-world people who have succeeded with their program? And I don't care if McGuff is a M.D. Most M.D.'s know next to nothing about effective weight training.
on July 13, 2010
at 04:43 AM
I think slow exercise to failure or near failure could easily be paleo. One thing that comes to mind is fighting. Many fights without weapons quickly go to ground in which there is grappling which is typically a matter of overpowering and outfoxing your opponent. For those not trained in martial arts, power would probably be especially important. People often fight for sport or to show prowess as well as for survival. Or you may need to pull back the arrow in a tightly strung bow and hold it there as you aim and wait for a good shot.
Another time you might need slow lifting would be climbing steep cliffs using your hands and arms as well as legs. You might need to pull yourself up slowly while feeling for footholds. THe same might occur climbing trees. Also, ever try pulling a tree branch down and trying to pluck fruit before your arm gives out? I can also imagine lifting a heavy rock to set a deadfall trap. Or just lifting or carrying heavy things in general. If your pack is heavy enough, sometimes just straightening your legs and standing up from a sitting position can be a severe challenge. (Ever find a very interesting boulder out in the middle of the desert that you think would look REALLY cool in your back yard, cuz I certainly have!)
I would also like to point out that there are different goals to weight lifting. I have seen very buffed guys lift much lighter weights than some of the skinny looking guys. Is the goal to be bulky or is it to be stronger and healthier? From a survivalist viewpoint, having a large bulk often requires considerably more calories than a trimmer bulk. Huge muscles come at a caloric price. THe trim but strong guy would probably have a big advantage when food supplies were limited. If you ever watched Survivor on TV, sometimes the big buffed guys were hit hardest when the food ran out. I don't have any personal opinions on which method of weight lifting is the best for which goals as I have not studied such things, but I do think that it bears considering that bulk may not always be the healthiest or strongest route nor the main goal for some. SOme of us are more interested in general health than just looking buffed, and if time is limited, IMO a quickie workout is better than no workout.
As for the person who felt that failure of one business was an indication that a method was not good, I think you should consider that prime retail locations come with correspondingly high rental prices. Athletic programs take time to build. It may well have simply been poor business accumen that lead to the downfall of that particular business. And just because an idea does not catch on quickly with the public does not mean it is a bad idea. Otherwise, I think that means we should all be eating our multiple servings of whole grain each day just like everone else tells us!
on March 15, 2010
at 11:03 AM
Just a quick 5 cents:
I've used HIT/Slow methods for periods of time, with great results. I believe the principle of training very intensely once per week is quite sound. I keep my workouts varied, very intense and mostly short (usually less than 45 minutes). I don't really plan them to any great extent, but rather enter the gym focused on getting a good full body workout. I use a few exercises to gauge my strenght, and I usually see slow but steady gains. At worst, I manage to maintain my physique very well with just one workout per week. From experience I'm now pretty certain that the belief that you have to work out multiple times per week at the gym to get results is simply wrong and that resting muscles after workouts is underestimated. However, I can't be bothered to follow a protocol like BBS to the letter and I don't care that they have data to back up their claims. But I think they are really on to something with this concept of high intensity/plenty of rest principle.
on February 19, 2010
at 01:08 AM
I believe Art De Vany is in the Arthur Jones HIT camp. I can't argue with De Vany's results, but I don't subscribe to his pay site.
on February 18, 2010
at 01:58 PM
Well, there are some in the CrossFit community who are not keen on super long workouts either, like Robb Wolf mentioning issues with workouts longer than 45 minutes increasing cortisol levels and such.
I think a varied approach is a good thing though, because the caveman never know if he would find a bear in his cave, or have to run for an hour to catch a deer.
Here is also a recent blog post by Dr. Harris of PaNu regarding "Body By Science". http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2010/2/22/body-by-science-and-panu.html
on February 27, 2013
at 11:39 PM
One thing no one else has mentioned here is the efficiency of the work out. Let's just say hypothetically that you can achieve 80% of the results you might be able to achieve doing a more traditional workout, hitting the gym 3x a week for 45 minutes. For the majority of people trying to make positive changes in their bodies wouldn't this be a huge boon? I have been following the BBS workout for 10 weeks now and have seen continued improvement. The schedule has allowed me to have more time to focus on preparing meals at home which has allowed for further progress toward my goals. For that and that alone I say the BBS workout works as advertised. Mark www.trek2fitness.com
on March 24, 2012
at 01:37 PM
The BBS method is based partially on studies were participants who worked out more often and for longer in the gym produced no noticeable gains more than the group that worked out using HIT once a week. The rest is both Dr. McGuff and John Little's personal experience, for McGuff, as a MD and both for owning a gym were they have seen results in their clients.
In several interviews, youtube, McGuff mentions a study were the traditional method of working out only netted an average of 3% increase in gains over HIT once a week. The risk of injury was greater in the 3 day workout and average time was nearly 3 hours compared to just over 20 minutes. So you have to ask yourself does the risk and time match the reward.
I do not recall in reading the book or watching his interviews were he ever states that you are wrong or ignorant if you follow a more traditional training. I believe he regularly mentions that you should do what works for you and only suggests attempting the BBS workout for a month to see if it works out for you and if it does not go back to doing what you are doing.
Also you need to understand that this exercise system is meant to increase your strength and improve you physical appearance. Not to become awesome at some sport/event. So if you want to be a bodybuilder or a powerlifter you should workout in a method that benefits that particular sport. I just want to be fitter and not spend several hours a week in the gym, and because I have seen great improvements using this method I will stick with it for the foreseeable future.
Muscles do not understand how they are being affected upon, your leg muscles can not tell the difference between a squat and a leg press. More than likely you can use more weight on a machine, since you do not really have to worry about falling over and crushing yourself, and we know that muscle has to be broken down first and more weight is better at doing it. So from this standpoint machines are better. However free weights have their place obviously if you plan on partaking in competitions they will be using free weights and you do learn balance as well. But the key point here is that your body can not tell the difference between 200lbs on a bench press from 200lbs on a chest press machine, and so will respond to both in the same way, ideally by building more muscle in the chest and tris to allow a greater weight to be lifted.
As for the Nautilus comment, yes their machines are better but you will only find specialized gyms like the two authors have that are fully equipped with those machines. Every commercial gym will get the cheapest machines which Nautilus and MedX are not. That is not to mean you have to use those machines. My local gym has life fitness and Hammer Strength machines. I have seen gains on them maybe not as much if I had access to Nautilus machines but you have to use what you got.
Everyone needs to understand that what is important is that you fully fatigued your muscles. The method of doing so is less important, to the point of irrelevance in some cases. If you work out using a more traditional method and you workout hard and show gains then good on you. If you use the BBS or another HIT method and show gains then good on you. You do not really gain anything to argue that one method is better than another because as soon as some one says they have made gains your argument is invalidated. All study participants have always made gains irregardless of what method they used, so the takeaway should be to use what works for you and you enjoy doing enough that you do not loathe going to the gym.
on June 01, 2013
at 10:43 PM
I am new to this forum/site. I watched Dr. McGuff's presentation at the21convention on YouTube and have to say I am intrigued. A little about me:
-58 -6'3" -No health issues -Been following paleo for several months, have gone from a 44 to a 38 inch and falling waist -I walk a lot, the MDA basic twice a week-push ups, squats, planks, not to pull ups yet
Looking to add a more structured workout. A couple of good CF options where I live in Philadelphia, but I am intrigued by BBS because of the seems-to-me very reasonable need for long recovery. I want to be fit, have a decent body, no illusions or desire to look like a muscle-head.
So net, given my age, busy life and interests, BBS seems like a good option. I just need to find the right gym
(As a newcomer to this site, I appreciate the higher level and polite nature of the discussions. Too many sites lack this.)
on May 11, 2011
at 06:03 PM
One thing that strikes me as odd about BBS is the people citing gains in these superslow machine lifts as progress. It's fairly obvious that you'll adapt to and improve at anything you do regularly... but going from say 300lbs to 400lbs on your weekly set of superslow-to-failure leg presses might not mean much in terms of strength, size or fitness.
The pertinent questions to me are:
Does someone who completes this program gain significant lean muscle mass?
Does someone who completes this program gain absolute strength, as measured by 1-rep max in conventional lifts (deadlift, bench press, squat, overhead press... etc)?
Does someone who completes this program noticably increase their anaerobic conditioning and/or VO2 max?
These are the criteria by which BBS should stand or fall. It's hard to find evidence of anyone with these results online yet. Taking your superslow-to-failure leg press from 300 to 400lbs is not proof that BBS does what McGuff claims it does.
on March 14, 2010
at 09:07 PM
I'll tell you how well slow training works...there is one right next to where I live in a prime retail spot in a good neighborhood....it just closed. If something was truly that good with that little time invested it would have not only thrived it would have expanded rapidly.
Tim Ferris was also rebuilding previous muscle he had. Also a couple of people on his forum tried to replicate his program with very minimal success.
on February 19, 2010
at 12:51 AM
I too have troubles with McGuff's approach. Doug and I traded comments on this thread here
on July 27, 2012
at 08:27 PM
Does anyone know if the science is REAL science? The last questionable book I read had a lot of science in it, but it was twisted and misused to the point of making insanely incorrect conclusions....but everything included just enough science that people unfamiliar with the topics would mistake it as truth.
on May 11, 2011
at 07:04 PM
I am so happy that I do the Olympic lifts and don't have to worry about these Powder Puff "Beautybuilder" cults. I can't imagine an Olympic lifter (or a Powerlifter, or Strongman, for that matter) doing lifts that are super slow. Obviously, Oly lifters have to be considered about technique and speed, so super-slow would be counter-productive.
Somebody mentioned Viator, but how is that connected? He was working out almost every day, wasn't he, when he gained all of that muscle?
on February 23, 2010
at 04:56 PM
I find it extremely odd that BBS advocates using machines. Machines will not strengthen stabilizing muscles, and thus undermine joint stability. A lot of machine exercises generate extreme shearing forces on ligaments.
In my view machines are not paleo, in the same sense that shoes are not paleo.
on December 18, 2010
at 07:20 PM
Body by Science doesn't strike me as very paleo. I don't see the old hunters getting into a machine and moving slowly to hunt their prey... :) The paleo route always struck me as more functional exercising, so anything close to that is more paleo (ie. Crossfit).
The thing on all these systems is that they ALL do something for you. Some work better for some people than others. Some work better at some times than others for the same person. Some work better when you're targeting a specific goal. Some work better when you're body's adjusted to another system and you've plateaued. This is probably the most irritating thing for those obsessive/compulsives among us that are looking for the holy grail of exercises...