Monthly Archives: August 2012

High Intensity Strength Training in Today’s Financial Times

In today’s Financial Times there’s an article about high intensity strength training that I feel is worth shouting about. More people should know, especially seniors, how beneficial and time saving this type of exercise is.

Please enjoy!

Once a week, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former chief executive of insurer AIG, leaves his Park Avenue office and travels across New York’s Central Park to a nondescript basement crowded with Rube Goldberg-esque machines in a brownstone building on the trendy Upper West Side. While Mr Greenberg is renowned for his strong views on business, this claustrophobic room is where the 87-year-old builds his remarkable physical strength.
Mr Greenberg is among a small group of busy New York executives who make a pilgrimage to a place called Serious Strength, a gym that specialises in a technique called high-intensity resistance training, to get a complete body workout in just 30 minutes a week. Unlike spending hours jogging on treadmills or pedalling exercise bikes, high-intensity weight training promises all the benefits of aerobics plus more strength in just a fraction of the time of conventional workouts.

“The amount of weight I can push or pull is multiples of my own strength,” boasts Mr Greenberg, who is now chairman and CEO of CV Star & Co, a financial services firm. “I’m exercising more strenuously than I ever have in my life. In just 30 minutes a week you can see progress in what you’re doing and how good you feel.”
While high-intensity weight training has been practised since the 1980s, when an entrepreneur named Arthur Jones began making gym equipment under the Nautilus brand, the technique has only recently garnered sufficient scientific support to back up its many claims of superiority as a workout regimen.

Books such as Body By Science, by a South Carolina-based emergency room physician named Doug McGuff, and The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution, by Fred Hahn, who owns Mr Greenberg’s gym in New York, describe the scientific basis for exercising compound groups of muscles to total exhaustion using very slow movements. In practice, that means five or six exercises done for just five to six super slow repetitions, or just 15 minutes of actual lifting. Some adherents, such as Dr McGuff, believe that just one workout a week is sufficient, while Mr Hahn and others prefer two workouts.

“High-intensity resistance improves blood pressure, increases the level of good cholesterol in your blood, lowers triglicyeride levels, maintains blood sugar, helps with insulin sensitivity and builds not only muscular strength but muscular endurance,” says Mr Hahn.
Dr McGuff, meanwhile, flags up the medical benefits of the high-intensity workout, which he says can help eliminate “diabetes, hypertension, gout, hypercholesterolaemia, and all the consequences of being sedentary and eating a diet of modern food”.

Although exercise fads come and go, high-intensity is in the unusual position of advocating that people actually practise it less. Hardcore bodybuilders have raised doubts about whether the system is really superior to their many hours spent in the gym, but proponents such as Mr Hahn say that while you can build muscle in long workouts, why bother when less time spent in the gym can produce such good results. Proponents also point out that everyone has a genetic limit to how strong they can get or how big their muscles will grow, no matter how much exercise they do.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, the high-intensity method seems to have gained more popularity in Europe than in the fitness-crazed US, where it faded from the cover of magazines after a brief surge in popularity about 10 years ago. Dr McGuff thinks this is partly explained by the fact that recent scientific support for the method comes largely from European and Canadian universities.
“I also think Europe lacks that ‘more is better’ culture that North America has,” he adds. “We have this work ethic where the answer is always do more and do it harder. I think that makes people a lot more sceptical about an exercise system that restricts volume and frequency as a way to get results.”

While it is possible to do a high-intensity workout with barbells or even body weight, most gyms that specialise in high-intensity use machines originally designed by Mr Jones such as Nautilus and Med-X. This is because it can be dangerous to lift a heavy free weight to exhaustion. These machines involve rotation around several joints, working a large group of muscles at one time, reducing the overall time in the gym.

At least initially, the workout consists of what is termed “the big five” – a seated row, chest press, pulldown, overhead press and leg press, each done for about 90 seconds. Dr McGuff says he even gets good results doing just three exercises, provided they are done extremely slowly and to complete exhaustion, followed by several days of recuperative rest.

While 15 minutes may seem like too short a time for a complete workout, this reporter noticed a distinct impact – along with considerable soreness the next day.

One company that has capitalised on the workout’s appeal to businesspeople is Kieser Training, a Zurich-based group that has set up high-intensity gyms in Europe and Asia.

“We target the professional, middle-aged executive who wants to exercise in a serious manner,” says Marcel Haasters, a German who runs the Kieser Training gym in London’s Camden Town. “There is no music, no mirrors on the wall and no juice bar. It’s not for typical gym users but people who don’t like gyms.”

Kieser appeals especially to mobile executives because for a £580 annual fee, travelling businessmen can use any gym in the Kieser Training system from Zurich to Australia. The gym uses special machines licensed from the late Arthur Jones’s estate and features rehabilitative training as well as pure exercise.

Steven Bailey, a video games analyst for Screen Digest who lives near the City of London, says he has been doing the Kieser Training for three years and that it has changed his life. “It’s great for people like me who have a sedentary lifestyle and sit at a desk all day,” Mr Bailey says. “Before Kieser I used to collapse around 3pm but now I have a lot more energy.”

A particularly impressive piece of equipment offered by Kieser Training looks like something out of the Spanish Inquisition. Once you are strapped down and screwed into the machine, your lower body and hips are immobilised, which allows it to measure accurately the strength of your lower back muscles – which are often the bane of desk-bound executives. The Kieser machine has a computer database that compares your back strength to other individuals of your age group, and is then capable of training your back to make the muscles stronger.

Alastair McLellan, who uses the gym in Camden Town, started the workout about six years ago to help with his bad back. “The fact that I can build this strength in just one short session a week and solve my back problem makes it very good use of my time,” says the 48-year-old editor of the Health Service Journal. “It’s also allowed me to do a lot more exercise – I now cycle to work most days.”

However, the workout’s proponents admit that while the method has many benefits, a high-intensity workout or any gym programme is unlikely to help executives completely lose those unsightly guts gained from years of eating expense-account lunches. For that, dietary changes are the most important ingredient.

How to Lose Fat Successfully

The Human Food Diet Plate

I am in the process of finishing this paper to help my clients understand how to lose fat successfully without having to read a novel-sized diet book (which a lot of folks just won’t do). I thought it might make a nice blog post.

It is NOT grammar checked so be kind when you comment. It also doesn’t flow quite right. Regardless, I hope the info may help you or a loved one understand how the basic processes to lose fat successfully without losing lean mass at the same time. So, please take what you can from it and enjoy!

All comments pro and con are welcomed.

The Serious Strength Real Food, Fat loss Eating Plan

“You are not what you eat. You are what your body does with what you eat.” – Dr. Jeff Volek, PhD, RD

So, you want to maximize fat loss and, at the same time, take in all of the nutrients you need to live most healthfully, right? Right. So let’s get started.

Important note: Fat loss should be an outcome of healthful eating. It should not come about by counting calories or starving yourself. Though many people use these approaches with some degree of success, these approaches always fail in the long run. They also cause micronutrient (vitamins and mineral) deficiencies and result in lean tissue (muscle, bone, organs) loss. So please, abandon these approaches to fat loss. They are an unnatural, unhealthy and impermanent approach to becoming healthier and attaining a desirable level of body fat.

Blood Sugar is the Key
Eating healthfully normalizes your blood sugar which in turn allows stored body fat to be used as your primary source of fuel. It also promotes strength building. So again, the main idea of this plan is to reset your metabolism so that your body uses stored fat as its primary source of fuel by keeping blood sugar normal.

To lose fat successfully without losing lean tissue (muscle and bone), it’s best to eat in a manner that keeps your blood sugar levels normal and supplies you with adequate amount of quality proteins. The amount of glucose (blood sugar) that our adult body considers normal is about a teaspoon or, a few grams at most. To put this in perspective, your morning multi- grain muffin can have as much as 10 times this amount. Add this to the sugar in your coffee, your glass of juice, your banana and perhaps that “healthy” bowl of cereal in the morning and you have shoveled more sugar into your blood in the morning than you should eat in a week. Most people are completely unaware of this.

When you keep your blood sugar normalized, this keeps your level of a hormone called insulin normal. This in turn allows more fat to freely exit your fat cells and makes it much more difficult to store calories as fat.

According to the current edition of Lehninger’s Principles of Biochemistry, when blood insulin levels are high, fat is more readily stored in the adipocytes (fat cells) and is less available for usage:

“High blood glucose elicits the release of insulin, which speeds the uptake of glucose by tissues and favors the storage of fuels as glycogen (sugar) and triaglycerols (fat), while inhibiting fatty acid mobilization in adipose tissue.”

What this means is this: the more foods you eat that raise your blood sugar, the higher you will raise your insulin levels. When insulin is high, you will potentially store more body fat and less body fat will be burned as fuel.

Believe it or not, you now know more than what 95% of all registered dieticians know on how lipids (fat) are stored and used for fuel. What you need to know now is which foods cause the problems and which foods don’t.

What to Eat and What Not to Eat
The foods that skyrocket blood sugar and thus raise insulin levels the most are grain-based, refined, starchy/sugary carbohydrates. If you can avoid eating these foods, you will achieve your fat loss goals much faster. If you don’t, you probably will not be able to obtain your fat loss goals. For some people, perhaps for you, these sorts of foods can be an addiction. Carb addicition is real and if you feel that you are one so afflicted, please read the book Wheat Belly by Bill Davis M.D. (referenced below).

The acceptable foods on the Serious Strength Real Food Diet are as follows:

All animal matter (e.g., all poultry, all beef, all lamb, all pork including bacon, whole eggs, venison, all fish, shellfish, organ meats, etc.)
All non-starchy plant matter (e.g., leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach, lettuces, cabbage, asparagus, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, peppers, rhubarb, etc.)
Fibrous fruits (e.g., strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, tomatoes, avocados, etc.)
Fruit Oils/animal fats (e.g., butter, coconut oil, lard, tallow, olive oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil)
All herbs and spices

The non-acceptable foods that you would do best to avoid are as follows:
All grain-based foods (e.g., rice, bagels, muffins, breads, oatmeal, pasta, etc.)
Legumes (e.g., peanuts, soy, beans of all kinds)
Starchy/sugary fruits/gourds (e.g., bananas, plantains, papaya, mango, figs, dates, grapes, squash, etc.)
Tubers (e.g., potatoes, yams, taro, cassava, yucca)
Nuts
All dairy (e.g., milk, cream, cheeses, etc.)

Fatty Protein Intake
If you don’t eat adequate fatty proteins (e.g., salmon, lamb, beef, whole eggs, etc.) on a daily basis, you won’t be able to maximize the benefits of resistance training. You also will not enjoy robust health. All human beings require adequate amounts of amino acids derived from fatty protein sources to build cells of all kinds including muscle and bone cells.
You should strive to take in at least 1 gram of quality protein per pound of lean body weight. We will help you determine what your lean body mass is with our computerized body composition device and then will give you an amount of protein to shoot for. You don’t have to count protein grams. It’s actually very simple to eat the right amount of protein.

For example, if you’re lean body weight is 100 pounds, you want to take in about 100 grams of fatty protein per day.

So you could eat:
Breakfast: 3 eggs, 2 slices bacon = ~30gms.
Lunch: Order of sashimi = ~40 gms
Dinner: 4 oz. hamburger, other cuts of beef, pork or lamb = ~27gms.
You could also drink a protein shake of your choice – preferably one that is low in carbohydrates. To provide some fat to the shake, you can add a raw egg or two (if you trust your eggs) or a tablespoon of coconut, olive, flax or MCT oil which stands for “medium chain triglycerides.” A company called NOW makes high quality MCT oil. A quick Google search and it will come up right away. But do not use vegetable oils because they are unhealthy.

So remember, eating refined carbs like bread, pasta, bagels, cakes, cookies and other starch-based carbs like rice, potatoes, oatmeal, beans, etc. increases blood sugar higher than normal which as we’ve discussed, raises insulin and this tells your body to store fat and to keep it locked in the fat cells.

Replacing these foods with high quality fatty proteins like lamb, salmon, beef, eggs, chicken, turkey, pork, etc., and leafy greens and other vegetables tells your body to release fat from your fat cells to be used as fuel and build muscle, bone and other vital tissues. Eating in this manner not only promotes speedy fat loss, but will improve your overall health to a marked degree. Your doctor will be pleased indeed.

Use this knowledge to your advantage!

Strongly suggested readings:
The Protein Power LifePlan by Drs. Michael and MaryDan Eades
The New Atkins for a New You by Drs. Volek, Phinney, Westman
Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes
Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis

Health Magazines are Full of S**t

Uh yeah, right...

Uh yeah, right...

Don’t even dream about losing fat this fast. It’s horse-hockey my friends.

When approached correctly, fat loss is a slow process. Very slow. At best you can lose about a pound, maybe two per week.

This is especially important to understand when you’re not that over fat to begin with. Patience is a virtue.

Try to purge your mind of what you believe is possible and instead, realize what is actually possible. I hear clients say all too often “Well Fred, it’s just that I thought I’d lose a lot more weight by now.” “Four pounds of fat loss in 4 weeks is excellent Susan. What did you expect to lose?” “I dunno – just more.”

But when politely and patiently pressed, the typical unrealistic client will say something like “Well, I was hoping to lose 15-20 pounds this month.”

Where, oh where, did they get this idea from?

You guessed it – the ragazines.

Photo shopped and air brushed to the max!

Photo shopped and air brushed to the max!

Not one statement on the cover of this magazine is true – save for one that I happen to agree with.

So remember – fat loss is a slow, gradual process. If you’re losing a half-pound to a pound a week on the scale, you’re doing fantastic! Relish in your efforts and discontinue your magazine subscriptions. The pages inside of these ragazines aren’t fit to pick up your dogs poop with. Slow and steady wins the fat loss race.

A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else.
– George Savile

Contact Information

NYC Location
169 West 78th Street
New York, NY 10024

212.579.9320
info@seriousstrength.com

Montclair, NJ Location
25 Watchung Plaza
Montclair, NJ 07042

973.233.1013
infomontclair@seriousstrength.com

As Seen On

NBC ABC CBS
700 Club CNN Fox News