People: I thought resistance bands and limited apparatus was invented by famous-for-being-famous social media workouters in 2020.
In the video I said ‘85, but I think it was ‘86 (https://www.instagram.com/tv/CW0guJeDXKA/?utm_medium=copy_link). Regardless, when I tell people I’ve been thinking about health and fitness for far longer than my nearly two decades of professional strength coaching, I’m not bullshitting. Granted, I mostly wanted to be a Hulkamaniac and a Ninja Turtle; but it would be only three years after this that I started picking up adult exercise science and nutrition science text books at the library. Long before Glassman started formulating what he would far later call “Crossfit.” Long before contemporary influencers were a twinkle in their fathers’ eyes.
People wondered at how our company grew immensely during pandemic lockdowns. Part of it was that I realized nearly four decades ago that access to the "right" place or equipment or program was meaningless. Weak and incapable coaches get hung up on having the "right" space or "right" equipment. That is precisely why they fail. I have been making do with limited equipment and maximizing what's available for fitness for almost 40 years. The reality is that being plugged into SOMEthing on a regular basis absolutely destroys the "results" from fancy gym memberships and the "right" equipment. I have case studies on people who remained in virtual workouts and never came in-person for over a year whose results are ten times better than all of the people who scrambled back into facilities the moment they could. In fact, the average in-person gym-goer has significantly WORSE results than people who learn to consistently train wherever and whenever they can.
After all this time, I can confidently say that there is no superior methodology except pragmatism. Pay close attention: success in health and fitness is not about the “right” program, the “right” workout, the “right” exercises, the “right” diet. It’s about two factors alone: get/stay plugged in; PROgress your ability, if even by a sliver.
That’s it. Ignore the 30, 60, 90 day sales pitches. Ignore the attention-whores who are grossly over-sharing every little fraction of their days, trying to rope you into believing in their detox or workout outline. Do two things: figure out a way to get/stay plugged in (in some way, any way) to a fitter lifestyle; PROgress your ability predominantly through intense (relative to your tolerance/capacity) effort.
These two things can be totally separate, by the way. Some people will stay plugged in through classes, through daily jogs, through hikes. And that’s a great first step. But none of that accounts for the second one. If you cannot squat heavier next year than this year, you are weaker and less capable. It doesn’t matter if you walk 180 miles per week. You have great endurance, true. But your potential fitness could well be less.
Going on 4 decades of fitness experience, I leave it at that: plug in; get strongER.
In the human adult there is as little as 200 grams (in a tiny adult) all the way up to 500+ (in an average/larger adult) of glycogen: https://bionumbers.hms.harvard.edu/bionumber.aspx?s=n&v=1&id=110214
This is readily-accessible energy in tissue. There is a longer explanation regarding the citric acid cycle and ATPs. But let’s just be conservative and say you need to deplete these 2,000+ calories of energy BEFORE your body has any good reason to burn stored fat.
Keep in mind that, meanwhile, your liver will continue shuttling sugar into your blood stream in a nearly-never-ending supply: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4050641/. In the Cahill studies, we find that starved individuals continue making positive energy adaptations while IN STARVATION for 6 weeks: https://thehealthsciencesacademy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Fuel-Metabolism-in-Starvation_ReviewArticleTIMM2008-9Lazar-1.pdf. Never forget that since the 1970s we have had a case study of a successful 382 day fast: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/.
The average person who loses weight never even touches body fat. They just keep bobbling around in the same glucose/glycogen figure, burning off healthy tissue and getting weaker. Sure. They get lighter. But can they run faster, lift more, and improve capability? If not, “weight loss” was primarily NOT FAT.
When referencing these known biological figures, it’s unclear that anyone will touch a significant portion of body fat until they’ve dramatically altered metabolic signaling. Although it CAN be done while eating a decent amount of food, especially if the person is doing a lot of intense exercise (ie - some sort of sprints and/or heavy lifting), we can plainly see that moderate food reduction and moderate activity will likely only burn off muscle and bone tissue while still preserving body fat. It results in lighter but weaker/fatter outcomes.
Thus, sadly, we have to clear out the glycogen to a degree that we OBLIGATE fat loss. This isn’t a hoping. This isn’t trying. This is FORCING the outcome of fat loss. And once we have forced the body to burn stored fat, we have to be very careful about coaxing it back into sugar-reliance. While still wanting to lose fat, the amount of food obviously must stay low, and perhaps more importantly the TYPE of food must err on the side of not-rapidly-refilling glycogen stores; otherwise, we simply return to the initial state of never-burning-stored-fat. This is the classic yo-yo. In fact, before someone is down about 40lbs, I’m unconvinced they’ve burned one ounce of body fat. The glycogen’s accompanying fluid and inflammatory bloat can easily account for 15-30lbs in most Americans. Weight loss numbers in this range are generally not fat loss at all, but the up and down of partial glycogen removal and replacement.
From a theoretical stand point, the best option for people is going to be close to a total fast for 3-10 days, guaranteeing some degree of obligatory fat burn, followed immediately by strictly greens, fats, proteins, and nearly zero starch/sugar. This means that if you want to keep the fat-burning train moving, even moderate fruit intake and natural sugars like honey are counterproductive. They will thrust you right back into sugar-reliance, giving the body NO REASON to touch stored fat.
Once you’re leanER than you want to be, have at it with the fruit and natural sugars. Even learn to integrate ACTUAL moderation of treats. But if treats keep coming in every 3-10 days or more frequently, the body just goes right back to square one for most people. Glycogen is so consistently full that there exists NO REASON why the body would lose fat. It’s not genetics. It’s not heredity. It’s not a crappy metabolism. It’s that you never clear glycogen enough to convince your body it SHOULD use fat.
There is a stress management consideration, an athletic consideration, and more. But as far as flipping the fat loss switch for most people, this is a good first landscape to ponder. Clear glycogen and keep it cleared.
This 63 year old woman who weighs 137lbs just deadlifted 264lbs in a drug tested competition. The average American woman in her 20s, 30s and 40s prays to God she could be under 138 pounds. Hell, the average American woman would commit murder to get under 180.
ONLY heavy weight lifting will get you to your goals. There are women I know who kept their prediabetes at bay when they were regularly lifting weights. Several of them gave up heavy lifting and dove headlong into full-blown diabetes. As far as I can tell, when they stopped training intensely, they immediately lost 20lbs of muscle/lean tissue and replaced it with that much fat.
But we hear these women tell us that if they start lifting weights, magic fairytale creatures will add mountains of muscle onto their already-bulky frames. So they stick to 5lb dumbbells, walks, and yard work, hoping it will whittle off the 50-150 excess pounds of adipose tissue. It doesn’t. It won’t. It can't. There's no evidence for such a fantasy. There's not even one success story of long-term improvement by avoiding weight lifting.
Meanwhile, we professional coaches watch 98lb girls throw 200lbs overhead, squat heavy, and lift HARD. We observe women who start their fitness journeys between 200 and 400lbs of body weight plummet down to the 130s when they start picking up heavy weights several days per week. We all catch a news headline about a 63 year old who’s 137lbs and deadlifts 264lbs.
Bulky? NOT LIFTING makes you bulky. NOT LIFTING is precisely what makes you bulky. NOT LIFTING is all that makes you bulky.
The abs bring the pelvis and rib cage closer together. Strong abs do this. Weak abs don’t. Unfortunately, there are a lot of famous workouters with super weak abs who have been teaching millions of people the exact wrong thing for decades. It doesn’t matter how “good” the person looks. It doesn’t matter how lean they are, how famous, how athletic they seem. If they cannot control flexion, they are weak af through the abdomen. For a closer look, watch the video and observe the photos here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWGkaDUFsbh/?utm_medium=copy_link
A visible six pack doesn’t mean the person is strong. It means they’re lean. Watch closely; and you soon see they never hit flexion. They can’t. They’re weak. Moreover, they do a lot of what we professional strength coaches call “wet noodle”. Because of the weakness and instability throughout the midsection, they wriggle and waggle a lot. Hips rock and twist. They’re a wet noodle. Their followers tweak their backs and wonder why. Because the popular example is incorrect.
Start by watching yourself from the side in a mirror; and practice flexing the trunk. Start by doing kneeling “cat backs” on the ground. Always and forever remember flexion.
The powerful exhale is essentially unknown to laypeople and even decent coaches. But it’s one of the most potent skills and athletic-performance-improving techniques which exists. The rigor of exercise, the discomfort washing through the body is an accumulation of CO2. It is not lack of O2. Put an oximeter on a person who’s gasping for breath and you find they’re still in the high 90s percentage-wise. Oxygen is mostly going to manage itself subconsciously/preconsciously. But the removal of cell waste/carbon dioxide could use a boost.
I’ve been recertifying my CPR for almost two decades. Over that time, and if I’m to understand the evolution prior, a number of recommendations have changed. On the whole, however, the trend has increasingly affirmed compressions and AEDs, NOT breaths. Why? Because the blood has 5-7 minutes of oxygen in it already, even in a non-responsive compromised person. Getting more O2 into the system is NOT as important as you think.
When we turn our attention to non-resuscitation, such as workouts, sports, exercise, we find people totally ignorant to cardio-respiratory science. They talk about the inhale. They talk about drawing in. They do not even have a clue that the exhale is the key.
People can improve performance THAT DAY when they learn that the pain is too much CO2. Blow OUT the pain. Drive OUT the discomfort. Your oximetry is already 98-100%. Nothing is going to improve with more energy lost to the inhale, especially if you aren’t removing enough volume from the lungs during expiration. Technically, what usually happens with emphasis on the inhale is that the exhale gets shallower, removing less and less CO2 while the person’s stress skyrockets, panicking, thinking they’re running out of oxygen.
In fact, anyone in youth athletics can watch this acutely time and time again. The slower athletes get slower, because the coaches don’t actually know how to train the youth to LOWER their stress. Breathing gets worse. The youth, no matter how driven, keeps trying to improve through pain tolerance, only to watch the faster athletes get significantly faster.
Likewise in adults, people will try to train “harder” through pain tolerance, which is actually an abrupt worsening of cardiorespiratory capacity. Breathing worsens. Progress halts or reverses.
Instead, people must be pushed only at a degree where they can get the CO2 out, restabilizing the system for more progress. Faster youth athletes are rewarded with more rest time, which recovers them, such that they may build more speed. The others are punished into worsening outcomes. Adults making their foray into late-in-life fitness also make this mistake. Mindlessly, they just push, gasping and choking if need be, only to get a fraction of the benefit. Getting the CO2 out isn’t even a thought, isn’t even a blip on the radar.
Getting calm and restabilizing the system is the very keystone for improvement. This hinges dearly on the capacity to get CO2 OUT. You’ll get the O2 in automatically. Weak little puffs of air on exhale won’t ever get it done. It’s the most potent breathing technique which exists; and no one is teaching it.
Mayo Clinic showed that moderate strength training had a 32 percent impact on diabetes: https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(18)30789-4/fulltext
Meanwhile, insulin can and often does worsen the disease: https://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g4335
Metformin has scant supporting evidence to show it can slow or reverse the disease: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520897/
And neither insulin nor metformin have the ability to affect the underlying cause of diabetes: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/news/2018/jul/metformin-and-insulin-ineffective-in-improving-beta-cell-function-in-kids-with-type-2-diabetes-96767104.html
The cause of type 2 diabetes is cell receptor degradation. T2 diabetes simply means receptors don’t listen to energy transfer signals. Only strength training directly and abruptly reverses this, affecting cell receptor upregulation. In clinical trials, it is repeatedly superior at improving glucose responses: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167527313009212 .
When we contract skeletal muscle intensely, we enliven glucose transporters, which is a DIRECT and IMMEDIATE counter against the fundamental cause of diabetes. Lifting weights is the biochemical opposite of diabetes. A weight which can only be lifted for 8 reps, let’s say, is more INTENSE than a weight which can be lifted 12 times. This is the exercise science definition of “intensity”. A weight which can only be lifted 12 times is more intense than one which can be lifted 20 times. An exercise which can be done for hundreds or thousands of reps (ie - walking, running, cycling, group ex, light weights), therefore, is not intense and doesn’t exert a powerful influence on cell receptors to oppose diabetes.
But even moderate/higher intensity walks (contrasted against slow walk/sedentary) improve insulin sensitivity for up to 16 hours afterward: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3680825/ . Indirectly, cell receptors also upregulate through extreme dietary restriction to cause major weight loss.
The clinical proof for diabetes reversal involves strength training, regular activity AND extreme caloric restriction: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31168922/.
Participants were free of diabetes two years later: https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/68/Supplement_1/66-OR
Other studies have shown total reversal of diabetes AND NO NEED FOR ANY MEDICATIONS still maintained after 10 years: https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1449
“Not as many reps as possible” is greater than “as many reps as possible.” Compounded fatigue makes people worse, not better: https://news.ufl.edu/.../study-shows-why-exercise...
People scratch their heads when chronic over-exercisers die of heart attacks, get strokes, get cancer, or die of Covid: “I thought they were healthy…”. Well, some progressive exercise strategies do improve health. Too much is still too much. Too much of a “good thing” becomes damaging. Years of it reduces health. Some of the fittest physiques you’ve ever marveled at are dead broken underneath the surface. Stage-ready conditioning has cost people their lives.
Working steps is good. Continued progress is good. More isn’t always more. NAMRAP > AMRAP.