Saturday, December 27, 2008

Book Review

Mission Statement: all reviews will be my honest assesment on the material in queston. My opinion will never be influenced by personal bias or my opinion of the author.

The Fat Loss Troubleshoot Book Bundle

"The Fat Loss Troubleshoot answers all the common and not so common questions about fat loss, so if you have never tried to lose fat before then you hit the jackpot and just got the best first timers guide you can get.."

- Leigh Peele

This product package consist of two main books, and several other booklets. I have read them all and will do an extensive review on one of the main books (The Fat Loss Troubleshoot), and mini-reviews of the other books. The Metabolic Repair Manual, which is part of the book bundle, is reviewed here.

Who is this book for?

Everyone that wants to lose fat. It's a very user friendly guide to fat loss, from the very basics to the more advanced stuff.

What will I learn from it?

The book covers just about every topic pertaining to fat loss; you'll learn how to eat for fat loss, how to train for fat loss, how to measure your progress, how to keep yourself motivated, behavioral strategies and much more.

Strong points

* Very user friendly.

* Covers just about every aspect of dieting and provides solutions to common obstacles people are bound to encounter sooner or later. Leigh further illustrates her points with some case studies that really hammers down the message.

* Written with a good sense of humour and is enjoyable to read.

* The advice given here is solid and delivered in a manner that will appeal a lot to the average joe. Down to earth, 'real talk' kind of advice.

Weak points

* Grammar, sentencing and such. One thing, perhaps trivial, that irritates me is how Leigh likes to put big letters on some words; cortisol becomes Cortisol, triglycerides is Triglycerides and so forth. Stop doing that, goddamnit.

* No reference list is a minus in my book. Not that there's many crazy claims that I really need to double check, but it's neat to have; for example, Leigh mentions that anorexics have a lower production of ghrelin, which is one thing that I would have liked to see the reference for.

* A few unsubstantiated claims are made, such as streching being key to preventing your muscles getting bulky. This is, as far as I know, not true.


Leigh is less about glamour and fancy words, and more about real talk that connects to the reader. Although lacking some technical finesse, the information and advice given here is solid gold - especially for someone that hasn't had a lot of experience or success with dieting in the past. This is by far one of the best all-around diet books on the market right now.

Mini-reviews of the other books

Metabolic Repair Manual -A comprehensive book that covers thyroids, eating disorders, metabolic problems and how to recover from them.
I have reviewed this separately here.

Fat Loss Troubleshoot-Audio Program-Audio follow along for the book.

Mini-review: Only listened to the first chapter, but this seems really good - it's not Leigh reading the book for you, it's her talking about various issues pertaining to the topic at hand. Like the writing style in the book, it's done with a sense of humour.

OPT For Fat Loss - "Rapid Fat loss program for those looking to lose a large amount of weight"

Mini-review: "Training for fat loss should not be such a complicated process" Oh really? Then why the hell does the core program here consist of every damn foo-foo movement ever devised, to be performed on a Swiss ball to boot? Leigh must have been hitting the bong pipe really hard before she wrote this. Worst piece of the book bundle.

OPT For Fat Loss Remix - Body recomposition program.

Mini-review: A lot better than the first OPT. This time around you won't feel like a fruitcake in the gym.

The Maintenance Manual-Guide that helps you keep the fat off.

Mini-review: Pretty sound advice on how to maintain low body fat once you reach your goal.

The Water Manual-A manual that goes over contest and photo shoot prep and water manipulation.

Mini-review: This is good and the advice given for drying out is pretty solid.

Meal Plans 2.0 - Meal plan guide in grams ranging from 1200 to 2400 calories a day

Mini-review: Personally, I think that protein is on the low side for the very low (<1500)

Overall, book bundle

You're getting a lot of bang for your buck here. The two main books are clearly the highlights, but overall this is a solid package well worth the price. If you're searching for a little something to help you get in great shape for 2009, look no further than this.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Regenerate your brain

Hope everyone had an awesome Christmas, I sure did.

Just saw this piece on another site:

"..both calorie restriction and intermittent fasting along with vitamin and mineral intake, increase resistance to disease, extend lifespan, and stimulate production of neurons from stem cells.

In addition, fasting has been shown to enhance synaptic elasticity, possibly increasing the ability for successful re-wiring following brain injury. These benefits appear to result from a cellular stress response, similar in concept to the greater muscular regeneration that results from the stress of regular exercise.

Additional research suggests that increasing time intervals between meals might be a better choice than chronic calorie restriction, because the resultant decline in sex hormones may adversely affect both sexual and brain performance"

And then she made the following, false, statement

"It should go without saying that short-term cognitive and physical performance is not boosted by fasting, due to metabolic changes including decrease in body temperature, decreased heart rate and blood pressure and decreased glucose and insulin levels, so you’re better off not planning a marathon or a demanding work session during a fasting period"

Full article here

Short-term fasting (<72 hrs) does NOT lead to a decrease in body temperature/metabolic rate or heart rate in humans.

Let me post an excerpt from The Leangains Approach article

"A high meal frequency does not boost your metabolism, nor does fasting or a low frequency slow it down either. The latter has been shown quite clearly when researchers made people fast for 72 hours and found no difference in metabolic rate at the 12 hour mark, compared to the 72 hour mark. That’s three days without food, yet all subjects retained a fully intact metabolic rate. There are other studies looking at one meal a day and alternate day fasting that does not find an impact on metabolism either.

Some studies have actually found that fasting boosts metabolic rate slightly during the initial 36 hours - this is supposedly an evolutionary response, mediated by norepinephrine, as the body mobilizes extra energy when food is scarce. You can imagine it would be highly counterproductive to mister caveman if he found himself slow and lethargic when he needed to find food in order to not starve to death."

The studies referenced in this excerpt:

Zauner C, Schneeweiss B, Kranz A, Madl C, Ratheiser K, Kramer L, Roth E, Schneider B, Lenz K. Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1511-5.

Webber J, Macdonald IA. The cardiovascular, metabolic and hormonal changes accompanying acute starvation in men and women. British journal of nutrition 1994; 71:437-447.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Leangains Approach pdf

Caleb Lee asked me to write an article for his new product and I thought it was a good opportunity for me to get the message out.

Product page is here

This product is primarily aimed at the beginner and consists of two e-books, interviews (mp3 + transcript in pdf) with seven trainers and a 14 page pdf file called "The Leangains Approach".

It's basically me talking about the approach, dispelling some myths surrounding meal frequency, fasting and your metabolism, and protein absorption. Also included in the article is a sample beginner plan and a list of references pertaining to the topics discussed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reverse Pyramid Revisited

I've been using a wide variety of training strategies over the years, but the one training style I was most successful with was low volume, high intensity training employed in a reverse pyramid fashion.

A google search on "reverse pyramid training" (RPT) brings you to an article by someone called Randy Herring. You can check out the article here.

I was unaware that this training style even had a name for it, as I started to train like this intuitiveley.

The greater amount of force you'll be able to generate with your muscles will be when you are freshest in your workout, e.x., the first set of each exercise performed. If a set counts, it is the first one, which is most important.

From the article. It always made sense to me to start working sets with the heaviest weight possible and then lower weights as strength decreased.

Besides the basic gist of the system, there isn't much I agree with Randy on; some of the guidelines given in the chart in that article are flat out ridiculous. My main beef here is with the frequency, volume and rest period guidelines given for the various categories (beginner, intermediate, advanced).

Either way, let me take you through a back workout and show you how I might use RPT in practise.

Deadlift, 2 x 3-5

600 x 3 (max effort)

The first set is what I call the "top set" and the one you should strive to increase on a regular basis. This is a max effort set, which means you stop when you're sure you don't have another rep in you.

Rest at least 3 mins, lower weight by 10% for next set; in this set, do not go max effort rather stop when and if you hit the same reps as first set +1 rep.

540 x 4

That's it, 2 sets and done with deads. Now rest 3-5 mins depending on how winded you feel (your heart should be pumping hard).

Time for some chins. Recall that palms are supposed to be facing you, not the other way around (that's pullups). I recommend a medium grip, about shoulder width spacing. Not a very wide grip, as this limits the range of movement.

Chins, 3 x 4-6 (alternatively, two heavy sets in the 4-6 rep interval and one set in the 10-12 rep interval)

Body weight + 100 x 4 = 300 x 4 (max effort)

Rest 2-3 mins, 10% off (remember to count total weight, not only the weight added in the belt) and we do

Body weight + 70 x 5 = 270 x 5 (no problem)

Third set, 7.5%-10% off and we should get 6 reps.

Body weight + 50 = 265 x 6 (easy)

Alternatively on the third set, ditch the weight belt and do body weight only.

Body weight x 12-15; treat this as a finisher to get some extra volume in, don't go to failure.

Ok, done with chins and time for some Pendlay Rows; here, do not use the RPT set structure, rather take your 7 RM and do sets of 5 using the Starting Strength principles. At this point you should be fairly fatigued, so no more RPT.

250 x 5 x 3 - up weight next workout (the SS principles dictates that you up weight when you can get 3 sets of 5)

Done with back.

Another example for chest, done in higher and wider rep ranges.

Bench Press, 3 x 8-12

250 x 8
225 x 10
200 x 12

Incline Bench, 2 x 6-10

225 x 6
190 x 10

How to progress with RPT

The top set should be your main focus and the one you should continually strive to increase with 2,5% or add another rep to. Add weight when you hit the upper range of the rep interval you wan't to work in; for example, deads in the above example would call for upping weight when you hit 5 reps. If you only got 3 reps, you'd be better off trying to stay with the current weight for next workout and try to add another rep.

In the chins example, you'd wait until you got 6 reps in the first set before upping weight.

The other 1-2 sets which are done with a lower weight, should be increased independently. For example, progressing in the chins example might look like this

Week 1, chins

Body weight + 100 x 4
Body weight + 70 x 5
Body weight + 50 x 6 (the last two sets weren't that hard so let's increase them for next week)

Week 2, chins

Body weight + 100 x 4
Body weight + 75 x 5
Body weight + 55 x 6

Week 3, chins

Body weight + 100 x 5
Body weight + 75 x 6
Body weight + 60 x 6

Week 4, chins

Body weight + 100 x 5
Body weight + 80 x 5
Body weight + 65 x 5

Something like that.

Random notes

- Remember, the first set should be max effort; but try doing all sets like this and you risk a burnout.

- You can work in a tight range (i.e 3-5 reps) or a wider range (i.e 6-12 reps) and it's all a question of how much you drop the weight in between sets. If you went all out in the first set, lowering the weight by 5% will get you about the same reps as the first set, lowering the weight with 10% and you get about +1-2 reps, by 15% you get +3-4 reps and so forth. Some individual factors play into this, which calls for some experimentation.

- Rest at least 2-3 mins in between movemenst and sets; this is especially important after the top set.

- Mix it up, there is no need to do all movements RPT style. RPT can be quite draining on your nervous system, assuming you go all out on the top set.

Probably going to include something on this in the book, since I think it's a very productive training system.

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

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