Note: While reading a book whenever I come across something interesting, I highlight it on my Kindle. Later I turn those highlights into a blogpost. It is not a complete summary of the book. These are my notes which I intend to go back to later. Let’s start!

  • My goal is to share what I have found to be the 2.5% that delivers 95% of the results in rapid body redesign and performance enhancement.

  • The minimum effective dose (MED) is defined simply: the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome. Jones referred to this critical point as the “minimum effective load,” as he was concerned exclusively with weight-bearing exercise, but we will look at precise “dosing” of both exercise and anything you ingest.  
  • Anything beyond the MED is wasteful.  
  • In biological systems, exceeding your MED can freeze progress for weeks, even months. In the context of body redesign, there are two fundamental MEDs to keep in mind: To remove stored fat → do the least necessary to trigger a fat-loss cascade of specific hormones. To add muscle in small or large quantities → do the least necessary to trigger local (specific muscles) and systemic (hormonal) growth mechanisms.

  • For a given muscle group like the shoulders, activating the local growth mechanism might require just 80 seconds of tension using 50 pounds once every seven days, for example. That stimulus, just like the 212°F for boiling water, is enough to trigger certain prostaglandins, transcription factors, and all manner of complicated biological reactions. What are “transcription factors”? You don’t need to know. In fact, you don’t need to understand any of the biology, just as you don’t need to understand radiation to use a microwave oven. Press a few buttons in the right order and you’re done. In our context: 80 seconds as a target is all you need to understand. That is the button.

  • More is not better. Indeed, your greatest challenge will be resisting the temptation to do more.

  • Imagine a ruler with 100 lines on it, representing 100 total units, and two sliders. This allows us to split the 100 units into three areas that total 100. These three areas represent diet, drugs, and exercise.

  • It is possible to reach your 20-pound recomp goal with any combination of the three, but some combinations are better than others. One hundred percent drugs can get you there, for example, but it will produce the most long-term side effects. One hundred percent exercise can get you there, but if injuries or circumstances interfere, the return to baseline is fast.

  • Physical recreation can be many things: baseball, swimming, yoga, rock- climbing, tipping cows … the list is endless. Exercise, on the other hand, means performing an MED of precise movements that will produce a target change. That’s it. It’s next to impossible to draw cause-and-effect relationships with recreation. There are too many variables. Effective exercise is simple and trackable.  
  • Recreation is for fun. Exercise is for producing changes. Don’t confuse the two.

  • In one 24-hour period, I took more than a dozen bodyfat measurements using the easiest-to-find, as well as the most sophisticated, equipment available. Here are some of the results, from lowest to highest: 7%—3-point with SlimGuide calipers 7.1–9.4%—Accu-measure 9.5%—BodyMetrix ultrasound 11.3%—DEXA 13.3%—BodPod 14.7–15.4%—Omron hand-held bio-impedance (second value after drinking two liters of water in five minutes) 15.46–16.51%—4-site SlimGuide calipers The range is 7% to 16.51%. So then, which of these bad boys is accurate? The truth is, none of them are accurate. Moreover, this doesn’t matter. We just need to make sure that the method we choose is consistent. After dozens of trials with multiple subjects, and taking into account both constancy and convenience (including cost), there were three clear winners:6 1. DEXA 2. BodPod 3. Ultrasound (BodyMetrix). Results from different tools cannot be compared. In my 24-hour measurement marathon, I tested 13.3% with BodPod and 11.3% with DEXA. Let’s say I had tested using only DEXA at 11.3% and then tested on BodPod for my follow-up, which resulted in 12.3%. I would wrongly conclude that I’d gained 1% bodyfat, whereas I would have seen a more accurate 1% loss had I used BodPod for both. Even with the same calipers, using different math = different results. I suggest asking the gym or trainer to use a 3-point or 7-point Jackson-Pollock algorithm, which I have found gives the most consistent results.

  • Pulling from both new and often-neglected data, including photographic research and auctions, there are four principles of failure-proofing behavior. Think of them as insurance against the weaknesses of human nature—your weaknesses, my weaknesses, our weaknesses: 1. Make it conscious. 2. Make it a game. 3. Make it competitive. 4. Make it small and temporary.

  • The fastest way to correct a behavior is to be aware of it in real time, not after-the-fact.

  • If we analyze the post-contest submissions of the winners of the Body- for- Life Challenge, the largest physique transformation contest in the last 50 years of publishing, we can isolate one common understated element: “before” photographs. The training methods and diet varied, but those who experienced the most dramatic changes credited the “before” photographs with adherence to the program. The pictures were placed in an unavoidable spot, often on the refrigerator, and served as inoculation against self-sabotage. Get an accurate picture of your baseline. It will look worse than you expect. This need not be bad news. Ignoring it won’t fix it, so capture it and use it.

  • Measurement = motivation. Seeing progress in changing numbers makes the repetitive fascinating and creates a positive feedback loop. Once again, the act of measuring is often more important than what you measure. To quote the industrial statistician George Box: “Every model is wrong, but some are useful.” It’s critical that you measure something. But that begets the question: to replace self-discipline, how often do you need to record things? That is, how many times do you need to log data to get hooked and never stop?

  • A mere five times (five workouts, five meals, five of whatever we want) will be our goal. When in doubt, “take five” is the rule.  
  • Knowing that potential loss is a greater motivator than potential reward, we can set you up for success by including a tangible risk of public failure. Real weight-loss numbers support this. Examining random 500-person samples from the 500,000+ users of DailyBurn, a diet and exercise tracking website, those who compete against their peers in “challenges” lose an average of 5.9 pounds more than those who do not compete. There is another phenomenon that makes groups an ideal environment for change: social comparison theory. In plain English, it means that, in a group, some people will do worse than you (“Sarah lost only one pound—good for me!”) and others will do better (“Mike’s nothing special. If he can do it, so can I.”). Seeing inferior performers makes you proud of even minor progress, and superior performers in your peer group make greater results seem achievable. Looking at DailyBurn’s data set, those who have three or more “motivators” in their peer group lose an average of 5.8 pounds more than those with fewer. Embrace peer pressure. It’s not just for kids.

  • Do I really look like that in underwear? Take digital photos of yourself from the front, back, and side. Wear either underwear or a bathing suit. Not eager to ask a neighbor for a favor? Use a camera with a timer or a computer webcam like the Mac iSight. Put the least flattering “before” photo somewhere you will see it often: the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, dog’s forehead, etc. Do I really eat that? Use a digital camera or camera phone to take photographs of everything you eat for 3–5 days, preferably including at least one weekend day. For sizing, put your hand next to each item or plate in the photographs. For maximum effect, put these photos online for others to see. Who can I get to do this with me? Find at least one person to engage in a friendly competition using either total inches (TI) or bodyfat percentage. Weight is a poor substitute but another option. Use competitive drive, guilt, and fear of humiliation to your advantage. Embrace the stick. The carrot is overrated. How do I measure up? Get a simple tape measure and measure five locations: both upper arms (mid-bicep), waist (horizontal at navel), hips (widest point between navel and legs), and both legs (mid-thigh). Total these numbers to arrive at your total inches (TI). Get off your ass and get ’er done. It takes five minutes. What is the smallest meaningful change I can make? Make it small. Small is achievable. For now, this means getting started on at least two of the above four steps before moving on. The rest and best is yet to come.

  • There are just five simple rules to follow:
    • RULE #1: AVOID “WHITE” CARBOHYDRATES. Avoid any carbohydrate that is, or can be, white. The following foods are prohibited, except for within 30 minutes of finishing a resistance-training workout like those described in the “From Geek to Freak” or “Occam’s Protocol” chapters: all bread, rice (including brown), cereal, potatoes, pasta, tortillas, and fried food with breading. If you avoid eating the aforementioned foods and anything else white, you’ll be safe. Just don’t eat white stuff unless you want to get fatter.
    • RULE #2: EAT THE SAME FEW MEALS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. The most successful dieters, regardless of whether their goal is muscle gain or fat-loss, eat the same few meals over and over again. There are 47,000 products in the average U.S. grocery store, but only a handful of them won’t make you fat. Pick three or four meals and repeat them. Almost all restaurants can give you a salad or vegetables in place of french fries, potatoes, or rice. Surprisingly, I have found Mexican food (after swapping out rice for vegetables) to be one of the cuisines most conducive to the Slow-Carb Diet. If you have to pay an extra $1–3 to substitute at a restaurant, consider it your six-pack tax, the nominal fee you pay to be lean. Most people who go on “low”-carbohydrate diets complain of low energy and quit because they consume insufficient calories. A half-cup of rice is 300 calories, whereas a half-cup of spinach is 15 calories! Vegetables are not calorically dense, so it is critical that you add legumes for caloric load. Eating more frequently than four times per day might be helpful on higher-carb diets to prevent gorging, but it’s not necessary with the ingredients we’re using. Eating more frequent meals also appears to have no enhancing effect on resting metabolic rate, despite claims to the contrary. Frequent meals can be used in some circumstances.
    • RULE #3: DON’T DRINK CALORIES. Drink massive quantities of water and as much unsweetened tea, coffee (with no more than two tablespoons of cream; I suggest using cinnamon instead), or other no-calorie/low-calorie beverages as you like. Do not drink milk (including soy milk), normal soft drinks, or fruit juice. Limit diet soft drinks to no more than 16 ounces per day if you can, as the aspartame can stimulate weight gain. 
    • RULE #4: DON’T EAT FRUIT. Humans don’t need fruit six days a week, and they certainly don’t need it year-round. If your ancestors were from Europe, for example, how much fruit did they eat in the winter 500 years ago? Think they had Florida oranges in December? Not a chance. But you’re still here, so the lineage somehow survived. The only exceptions to the no-fruit rule are tomatoes and avocadoes, and the latter should be eaten in moderation (no more than one cup or one meal per day). Otherwise, just say no to fruit and its principal sugar, fructose, which is converted to glycerol phosphate more efficiently than almost all other carbohydrates. Glycerol phosphate → triglycerides (via the liver) → fat storage. There are a few biochemical exceptions to this, but avoiding fruit six days per week is the most reliable policy. But what’s this “six days a week” business? It’s the seventh day that allows you, if you so desire, to eat peach crepes and banana bread until you go into a coma.
    • RULE #5: TAKE ONE DAY OFF PER WEEK. I recommend Saturdays as your Dieters Gone Wild (DGW) day. I am allowed to eat whatever I want on Saturdays, and I go out of my way to eat ice cream, Snickers, Take 5, and all of my other vices in excess. If I drank beer, I’d have a few pints of Paulaner Hefe-Weizen.
  • I make myself a little sick each Saturday and don’t want to look at any junk for the rest of the week. Paradoxically, dramatically spiking caloric intake in this way once per week increases fat-loss by ensuring that your metabolic rate (thyroid function and conversion of T4 to T3, etc.) doesn’t downshift from extended caloric restriction. That’s right: eating pure crap can help you lose fat. Welcome to Utopia. There are no limits or boundaries during this day of gluttonous enjoyment. There is absolutely no calorie counting on this diet, on this day or any other. Start the diet at least five days before your designated cheat day. If you choose Saturday, for example, I would suggest starting your diet on a Monday.

  • HOW CAN I POSSIBLY FOLLOW THIS DIET?IT’S TOO STRICT! Just start with changing your breakfast. You will lose noticeable fat. Be sure to see Fleur B. in “Perfect Posterior,” who lost about 3% bodyfat in four to five weeks with this one substitution. Once you see the results, suck it up and move to 100% slow-carb for six days, after which you can indulge yourself for 24 hours. Then

  • SHOULD I TAKE ANY SUPPLEMENTS? I suggest potassium, magnesium, and calcium. This diet will cause you to lose excess water, and electrolytes can go along with it. Potassium can be consumed during meals by using a potassium- enriched salt like “Lite Salt” or, my preference, eating extra guacamole with Mexican meals. Avocadoes, the main ingredient in guacamole, contain 60% more potassium than bananas. Avocadoes also contain 75% insoluble fiber, which will help keep you regular. If you prefer pills, 99-milligram tablets with meals will do the trick. Magnesium and calcium are easiest to consume in pill form, and 500 milligrams of magnesium taken prior to bed will also improve sleep.

  • GOD, I F*ING HATE BEANS. CAN I SUBSTITUTE SOMETHING ELSE? Perhaps you just hate farting and not beans. First, let’s fix that bean issue, then I’ll talk about how and when you can omit them. Lentils seldom cause the gas problem and are my default in the legume category. For beans, purchasing organic will often fix the rumbling pants effect, and if that doesn’t work, soaking the beans in water for a few hours will help break down the offending cause: oligosaccharides. This is one of many reasons I eat canned beans and lentils, disposing of the murky juice in the can and rinsing, instead of purchasing either dry. Is it the blandness that’s the problem? That’s even easier to fix: add a little balsamic vinegar and garlic powder. If you omit legumes in a meal, you must absolutely make a concerted effort to eat larger portions than your former higher-carb self. Remember that you’re getting fewer calories per cubic inch. Eat more than you are accustomed to.  
  • HOLY FESTIVUS, I GAINED EIGHT POUNDS AFTER MY CHEAT DAY!DID I UNDO ALL OF MY PROGRESS? No, not at all. It’s common for even a 120-pound female to gain up to eight pounds of water weight after 24 hours of increased carbohydrate intake. Larger males can gain 10–20 pounds. Expect MASSIVE weight fluctuations after cheat day. Relax. It will disappear over the next 48 hours.  
  • CAN I USE SPICES, SALT, OR LIGHT SAUCES? WHAT CAN I USE FOR COOKING? Spices and herbs, but not cream-based sauces, are your friends. Take a trip to Whole Foods with $50 and get educated. That $50 spree will last you at least a few months. Montreal steak rub, thick salsa without sugar added, garlic salt, white truffle sea salt (combine this with tarragon on eggs), Thai chili paste (srichacha)—this is just about all you need to start. For salad dressing, a few drops of a nonsugar sweetener like stevia mixed with vinegar and mustard will give you a dressing to satisfy any sweet tooth. My preference, and my go-to restaurant salad dressing, is simply balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Butter is fine, as long as the only ingredients are butter and salt. For cooking, you can use olive oil for low heat and either grapeseed oil or macadamia oil for high-temperature cooking.

  • Make a special effort to drink more water on your cheat day, as the carbohydrate overload will pull water to your digestive tract and muscle glycogen. If you don’t get enough water, headaches will be the result.  
  • I eat whatever I want every Saturday, and I follow specific steps to minimize fat gain during this overfeeding. In basic terms our goal is simple: to have as much of the crap ingested either go into muscle tissue or out of the body unabsorbed. I do this by focusing on three principles:
    • PRINCIPLE #1: MINIMIZE THE RELEASE OF INSULIN, A STORAGE HORMONE. Insulin release is minimized by blunting sharp jumps in blood sugar: 1. Ensure that your first meal of the day is not a binge meal. Make it high in protein (at least 30 grams) and insoluble fiber (legumes will handle this). The protein will decrease your appetite for the remainder of the binge and prevent total self-destruction. The fiber will be important later to prevent diarrhea. In total, this can be a smallish meal of 300–500 calories. 2. Consume a small quantity of fructose, fruit sugar, in grapefruit juice before the second meal, which is the first crap meal. Even small fructose dosing has an impressive near-flat-lining effect on blood glucose. I could consume this at the first meal, but I prefer to combine the naringin in grapefruit juice with coffee, as it extends the effects of caffeine. 3. Use supplements that increase insulin sensitivity: AGG (part of PAGG) and PAGG. If I’m going whole hog, I will have another PAGG dose upon waking. This reduces the amount of insulin the pancreas releases in spite of mild or severe glucose surges. Think of it as insurance. Consume citric juices, whether lime juice squeezed into water, lemon juice on food, or a beverage like the citrus kombucha I had.
    • PRINCIPLE #2: INCREASE THE SPEED OF GASTRIC EMPTYING, OR HOW QUICKLY FOOD EXITS THE STOMACH. Bingeing is a rare circumstance where I want the food (or some of it) to pass through my gastrointestinal tract so quickly that its constituent parts aren’t absorbed well. I accomplish this primarily through caffeine and yerba mate tea, which includes the additional stimulants theobromine (found in dark chocolate) and theophylline (found in green tea). I consume 100–200 milligrams of caffeine, or 16 ounces of cooled yerba mate, at the most crap-laden meals. My favorite greens supplement, “Athletic Greens” (mentioned in the schedule) doesn’t contain caffeine but will also help.
    • PRINCIPLE #3: ENGAGE IN BRIEF MUSCULAR CONTRACTION THROUGHOUT THE BINGE. For muscular contractions, my default options are air squats, wall presses (tricep extensions against a wall), and chest pulls with an elastic band, as all three are portable and can be done without causing muscle trauma that screws up training. The latter two can be performed by anyone, even those who have difficulty walking. But why the hell would you want to do 60–90 seconds of funny exercises a few minutes before you eat and, ideally, again about 90 minutes afterward? Short answer: because it brings glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT-4) to the surface of muscle cells, opening more gates for the calories to flow into. The more muscular gates we have open before insulin triggers the same GLUT-4 on the surface of fat cells, the more we can put in muscle instead of fat. The present investigation demonstrated that 8 days of HIT lasting only 280 seconds elevated both GLUT-4 content and maximal glucose transport activity in rat skeletal muscle to a level similar to that attained after LIT [“Low-Intensity Training” of six hours a session], which has been considered a tool to increase GLUT-4 content maximally. Compared to a control, GLUT-4 content in the muscle was increased 83% with 280 seconds of HIT vs. 91% with six hours of LIT. I started with 60–120 seconds total of air squats and wall tricep extensions immediately prior to eating main courses. For additional effect, I later tested doing another 60–90 seconds approximately one and a half hours after finishing the main courses, when I expected blood glucose to be highest based on experiments with glucometers.
  • Cissus quadrangularis (CQ) is an indigenous medicinal plant of India. It is a newcomer in mainstream supplementation, usually prescribed for joint repair. In July 2009, I experimented with high-dose CQ following elbow surgery due to a staph infection. Unexpectedly, used in combination with PAGG, it seemed to have synergistic anti-obesity and anabolic (muscle growth) effects. CQ preserved my abs. I saw measurable fat-loss and anabolic effects once I reached 2.4 grams (2,400 milligrams), three times per day 30 minutes prior to meals, for a total of 7.2 grams per day. Is that the magic dose? I had approximately 160 pounds (72.7 kilograms) of lean bodymass, so there might be a trigger at 45 milligrams per pound lean bodymass, or it could be an absolute effective dose regardless of bodyweight. Until long-term side-effect studies are done at these higher doses, I don’t suggest exceeding 7.2 grams per day.

  • There are a few things you can do now to cultivate healthy and fat-reducing gut flora: Get off the Splenda. A 2008 study at Duke University found that giving Splenda to rats significantly decreased the amount of helpful bacteria in the gut. Once again, the fake sugars turn out just as bad as, if not worse than, the real deal. Go fermented. Dr. Weston Price is famous for his studies of 12 traditional diets of near-disease-free indigenous communities spread around the globe. He found that the one common element was fermented foods, which were consumed daily. Cultural mainstays varied but included cheese, Japanese natto, kefir, kimchi (also spelled “kimchee”), sauerkraut, and fermented fish. Unsweetened plain yogurt and fermented kombucha tea are two additional choices. Fermented foods contain high levels of healthy bacteria and should be viewed as a mandatory piece of your dietary puzzle. I consume five forkfuls of sauerkraut each morning before breakfast and also add kimchi to almost all home-cooked meals. Consider probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are bacteria. I’ve used Sedona Labs iFlora probiotics both during training (to help accommodate overfeeding) and after antibiotics.

  • Give your good bacteria an upgrade and get your microbiome in shape. Faster fat-loss and better mental health are just two of the benefits.  
  • Policosanol: 20–25 mg Alpha-lipoic acid: 100–300 mg (I take 300 mg with each meal, but some people experience acid reflux symptoms with more than 100 mg) Green tea flavanols (decaffeinated with at least 325 mg EGCG): 325 mg Garlic extract: 200 mg Daily PAGG intake is timed before meals and bed, which produces a schedule like this: Prior to breakfast: AGG Prior to lunch: AGG Prior to dinner: AGG Prior to bed: PAGG AGG is simply PAGG minus policosanol. This dosing schedule is followed six days a week. Take one day off each week and one week off every two months. This week off is critical.  
  • If we combine the research with data from self-trackers like Ray and his 50+ informal test subjects, there are four simple options you can experiment with for fat-loss: 1. Place an ice pack on the back of the neck or upper trapezius area for 20–30 minutes, preferably in the evening, when insulin sensitivity is lowest. I place a towel on the couch while writing or watching a movie and simply lean back against the ice pack. 2. Consume, as Ray did, at least 500 milliliters of ice water on an empty stomach immediately upon waking. In at least two studies, this water consumption has been shown to increase resting metabolic rate 24–30%, peaking at 40–60 minutes post-consumption, though one study demonstrated a lower effect of 4.5%. Eat breakfast 20–30 minutes later à la the Slow-Carb Diet detailed in earlier chapters. 3. Take 5–10-minute cold showers before breakfast and/or before bed. Use hot water for 1–2 minutes over the entire body, then step out of water range and apply shampoo and soap to your hair and face. Turn the water to pure cold and rinse your head and face alone. Then turn around and back into the water, focusing the water on your lower neck and upper back. Maintain this position for 1–3 minutes as you acclimate and apply soap to all the necessary regions. Then turn around and rinse normally. Expect this to wake you up like a foghorn. 4. If you’re impatient and can tolerate more, take 20-minute baths that induce shivering. See protocol A earlier in this chapter but omit the ECA. For extra thermogenic effect, consume 200–450 milligrams of cayenne (I use 40,000 BTU or thereabout) 30 minutes beforehand with 10–20 grams of protein (a chicken breast or protein shake will do). I do not suggest consuming cayenne or capsaicin on an empty stomach. Trust me, it’s a bad idea.

  • Short-term cold exposure (30 minutes) in humans leads to fatty acid release to provide fuel for heat production through shivering. This same shivering could be sufficient to recruit GLUT-4 to the surface of muscle cells, contributing to increased lean muscle gain. Even at shorter durations, cold exposure with shivering could increase adiponectin levels and glucose uptake by muscle tissue. This effect could persist long after the cold exposure ends. In the absence of shivering, it is still possible to capitalize on “fat-burning fat” through the stimulation of BAT thermogenesis. Curiously, even without shivering, there are small but unaccounted increases in lean muscle tissue when comparing underwater (superior) vs. land-based exercise. Cold water improves immunity. Acute cold exposure has immunostimulating effects, and preheating with physical exercise or a warm shower can enhance this response. Increases in levels of circulating norepinephrine may account for this. Not germane to fat-loss, but another reason to use cold exposure: cold showers are an effective treatment for depression. One study used showers at 68°F for two to three minutes, preceded by a five-minute gradual adaptation to make the procedure less shocking.

  • Think you’ll have a quick bite for energy 20 minutes before going to the gym? It might not be available to your muscles until an hour after the gym. The solution: eat it an hour earlier. Think that protein shake is getting to your muscles in the valuable 30-minute post-workout window? In my case, if I drank the “post-workout” shake post-workout, it didn’t. I needed to have it before my workout and then sit down to a large meal almost immediately after the workout. Doing it one and a half hours after the workout, as commonly suggested, just wouldn’t get the goods to my muscles in time.

  • The more fat, and the earlier in the meal, the less the glycemic response. Eat good fat, preferably as an appetizer before the entrée. I now eat four Brazil nuts and one tablespoon of almond butter first thing upon waking.

  • There’s a great deal of evidence for vinegar lowering the glycemic index of a meal by more than 25%. It seems as reliable as any food “rule” could be. Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar were used in the literature. But acetic acid is acetic acid, so any kind of table vinegar that has at least 5% acetic acid should work if you consume at least 20 milliliters (1.5 tablespoons). In my trials, neither white vinegar nor balsamic vinegar had a lowering effect on blood sugar. I even drank 3 tbsp+ of vinegar before my meals as a last- ditch attempt. Unhappy times in stomach-ville and no discernible benefit.

  • In my personal trials, three tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice just prior to eating (not store-bought with preservatives and artificial additives) appeared to lower blood sugar peaks by approximately 10%.  
  • There is ample evidence that cinnamon can be used to reduce the glycemic index of a meal up to 29%. At four grams per meal or even six grams per day, it can lower not only blood glucose but also LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Cinnamon weighs in at 2.8 grams per teaspoon, so four grams of cinnamon is about one and a half teaspoons. Cinnamon’s effect on glucose levels seems partially due to the fact that it slows the rate at which food exits the stomach (gastric emptying), which means that you also feel full faster with cinnamon. I tested three species of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum or zeylanicum, also referred to as “true cinnamon”), Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia or aromaticum), and Saigon cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureiroi, also known as Vietnamese cinnamon). Though Cassia is thought inferior to Ceylon or completely ineffective in some bodybuilding circles, it has lowered glycemic response in both published studies and in my experience. This is fortunate, since Cassia is what is most often found at coffee shops and restaurants if you ask for “cinnamon.” I found Saigon cinnamon to be most effective, with Cassia in close second place and Ceylon in much further third place. In terms of reducing glycemic response, I The easiest thing you can do to decrease glucose spikes is slow down. I had to methodically finish my plate in thirds and train myself to wait five minutes between thirds, usually with the help of iced tea and slices of lemon. It also helps to drink more water to dilute digestion (I’m fantastic at this), eat smaller portions (not so good at this), and chew more (Orca is terrible at this). All four strategies serve to decrease the amount of food that gets digested per minute, which will determine the size of your glucose arc.  
  • Eat decent quantities of fat at each larger meal. Saturated fat is fine if meat is untreated with antibiotics and hormones. • Spend at least 30 minutes eating lunch and dinner. Breakfasts can be smaller and thus consumed more quickly. • Experiment with cinnamon and lemon juice just prior to or during meals. • Use the techniques in “Damage Control” for accidental and planned binges. Keep in mind that the techniques in that chapter will help you minimize damage for about 24 hours, not much more.

  • In 2005, my interest in kettlebells reinvigorated, I returned to the United States from Argentina and purchased one 53-pound kettlebell. I did nothing more than one set of 75 swings one hour after a light, protein-rich breakfast, twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. In the beginning, I couldn’t complete 75 consecutive repetitions, so I did multiple sets with 60 seconds between until I totaled 75. Total swing time for the entire week was 10–20 minutes. I wasn’t trying to balance tequila shots on my butt cheeks. I wanted abs. In six weeks, I was at my lowest bodyfat percentage since 1999.

  • I proposed a four-week test focusing on the swing and minuscule dietary changes, which Fleur agreed to: 1. She switched her breakfast to a high-protein meal (at least 30% protein) à la the Slow-Carb Diet. Her favorite: spinach, black beans, and egg whites (one-third of a carton of Eggology liquid egg whites) with cayenne pepper flakes. 2. Three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), she performed a simple sequence of three exercises prior to breakfast, all of which are illustrated in the next few pages: One set: 20 two-legged glute activation raises from the floor One set: 15 flying dogs, one set each side One set: 50 kettlebell swings (For you: start with a weight that allows you to do 20 perfect repetitions but no more than 30. In other words, start with a weight, no less than 20 pounds, that you can “grow into.”) That’s it. Total prescribed exercise: about 5 minutes per session × 3 sessions = 15 minutes per week. One hour over the course of a month.

  • From a training standpoint, there were four basic principles that made it happen: 1. PERFORM ONE-SET-TO-FAILURE FOR EACH EXERCISE. Follow Arthur Jones’s general recommendation of one-set-to-failure (i.e., reaching the point where you can no longer move the weight) for 80–120 seconds of total time under tension per exercise. Take at least three minutes of rest between exercises. 2. USE A 5/5 REP CADENCE. Perform every repetition with a 5/5 cadence (five seconds up, five seconds down) to eliminate momentum and ensure constant load. 3. FOCUS ON 2–10 EXERCISES PER WORKOUT, NO MORE. Focus on 2–10 exercises per workout (including at least one multi-joint exercise for pressing, pulling, and leg movements). I chose to exercise my entire body each workout to elicit a heightened hormonal response (testosterone, growth hormone, IGF-1, etc.). Here is the sequence I used during this experiment (“+” = superset, which means no rest between exercises): • Pullover + Yates’s bent row • Shoulder-width leg press12 • Pec-deck + weighted dips • Leg curl • Reverse thick-bar curl (purchase cut 2″ piping from Home Depot if needed, which you can then slide plates onto) • Seated calf raises • Manual neck resistance • Machine crunches All of these exercises can be found at www.fourhourbody.com/geek-to-freak. 4. INCREASE RECOVERY TIME ALONG WITH SIZE. This is described at length in the next chapter, which describes the most reductionist and refined approach to overriding stubborn genetics: Occam’s Protocol. Occam’s Protocol is what I suggest almost all trainees start with for mass gains.

  • Giving elderly women 80% of their protein for the day at one meal over a period of two weeks led to almost 20% more synthesis and retention of protein compared to dividing it into smaller doses. So it appears that daily total protein is more important than per-meal protein.

  • Rules to Lift By 1. If you complete the minimal target number of reps for all exercises (excluding abs and kettlebell swing), increase the weight the next workout at least 10 pounds for that exercise. If the additional 10 pounds feels easy after two to three reps, stop, wait five minutes, increase the weight an additional 5 to 10 pounds, then do your single set to failure. 2. Do not just drop the weight when you hit failure. Attempt to move it, millimeter by millimeter, and then hold it at the limit for five seconds. Only after that should you slowly (take five to ten seconds) lower the weight. The biggest mistake novice trainees make is underestimating the severity of complete failure. “Failure” is not dropping the weight after your last moderately strenuous rep. It is pushing like you have a gun to your head. To quote the ever poetic Arthur Jones: “If you’ve never vomited from doing a set of barbell curls, then you’ve never experienced outright hard work.” If you feel like you could do another set of the same exercise a minute later, you didn’t reach failure as we are defining it. Remember that the last repetition, the point of failure, is the rep that matters. The rest of the repetitions are just a warm-up for that moment. 3. Do not pause at the top or bottom of any movements (except the bench press, as noted), and take three minutes of rest between all exercises. Time three minutes exactly with a wall clock or a stopwatch. Keep rest periods standardized so you don’t mistake rest changes for strength changes. 4. The weight and repetitions used will change as you progress, but all other variables need to be identical from one workout to the next: rep speed, exercise form, and rest intervals. This is a laboratory experiment. To accurately gauge progress and tweak as needed, you must ensure that you control your variables.  
  • Take 60% of your work weight for each exercise in a given workout and perform three reps at a 1/2 cadence (1 second up, 2 seconds down). This is done to spot joint problems that could cause injuries at higher weights, not to “warm up” per se. Prep sets for all exercises should be performed prior to your first real set at 5/5. In practical terms, the first few repetitions of each work set act as the warm-up. I have never had a trainee injured using this protocol.

  • If you work out with a partner, ensure that your rest intervals remain consistent. Three minutes should not bleed into three and a half because your partner is socializing or slow in changing weights. This is nonnegotiable. I have always lifted alone and use training time as near-meditative “me” time, which the counting of cadence reinforces. Many people benefit tremendously from workout partners, but I don’t appear to be one of them. The exercises are chosen to be safe when performed alone. Even if you elect to train with partners, do not let partners help you. It will lead to them lifting the weight while shouting “All you!” This makes it impossible to know how much weight you actually lifted. Feel free to lift together, but fail alone.

  • I’ve successfully used the following three-workout split, most notably in 1997: Session 1: Pushing exercises Session 2: Pulling exercises Session 3: Leg exercises If you are unconditioned or deconditioned (atrophied), take one day between workouts (e.g., pushing, one day off, pulling, one day off, legs, one day off, ad nauseam) for the first two weeks, two days between workouts for the next three weeks, then move to three days between workouts. The exercises I used, all performed at 5/5, were: Push: • Incline bench press • Dips (add weight when possible) • Shoulder-width grip shoulder press (never behind the neck) Pull • Pullover • Bent row • Close-grip supinated (palms facing you) pull-downs • Slow shrugs with dumbbells (pause for two seconds at the top) Legs • Leg press with feet shoulder width (do higher reps on this; at least 120 seconds before failure) • Adduction machine (bringing the legs together as if using the Thighmaster) • Hamstring curl • Leg extension • Seated calf raises In retrospect, I believe this volume of exercises to be excessive for most trainees. Using the first two exercises listed for each workout will produce at least 80% of the desired gains with less risk of plateauing.  
  • I now use two protocols that I believe are effective for increasing both testosterone and LH, based on repeated blood test results. Neither requires needles or prescription meds. The first is for long-term maintenance and general well-being. The second is for short-term “nitro” boosts of sex drive and testosterone. Sheer fun, in other words. The detailed rationales behind each can be found in “Sex Machine II” in the Appendices, but let’s start with the nutshell version. PROTOCOL #1: LONG-TERM AND SUSTAINED Fermented cod liver oil + vitamin-rich butter fat—2 capsules upon waking and before bed Vitamin D3—3,000–5,000 IU upon waking and before bed (6,000–10,000 IU per day), until you reach blood levels of 55 ng/mL. Short ice baths and/or cold showers—10 minutes each, upon waking and right before bed Brazil nuts—3 nuts upon waking, 3 nuts before bed (see important footnote).15 PROTOCOL #2: SHORT-TERM AND FUN “NITRO BOOST” 20–24 Hours Prior to Sex Eat at least 800 milligrams of cholesterol (example: four or more large whole eggs or egg yolks) within three hours of bedtime, the night before you want to have incredible sex. The Wolverine intro to this chapter was partially thanks to two ¾-pound rib-eye steaks the night before, but it’s easier to stomach hard-boiled eggs. Why before bed? Testosterone is derived from cholesterol, which is primarily produced at night during sleep (between midnight and 4:00–6:00 A.M.). Four Hours Prior to Sex 4 Brazil nuts 20 raw almonds 2 capsules of the above-mentioned fermented cod/butter combination  
  • Sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is the party spoiler. SHBG binds to testosterone16 and renders it inert for our purposes, and “total testosterone” in blood tests can therefore be misleading. Some vegans have been shown to have higher testosterone levels than both meat-eaters and vegetarians, for example, but higher levels of SHBG cancel out this advantage. In other studies, consumption of cholesterol has been shown to be inversely correlated with SHBG. In other words, the more cholesterol you eat, the less SHBG you have.

  • Eating two tablespoons of organic almond butter on celery sticks before bed eliminated at least 50% of the “feel like shit” (1–3) mornings. Ever wonder how you can sleep 8–10 hours and feel tired? The likely culprit: low blood sugar. Make a pre-bed snack part of your nutritional program. One to two tablespoons of flaxseed oil (120–240 calories) can be used in combination with the celery-and-almond-butter to further increase cell repair during sleep and thus decrease fatigue.

  • Consumed within three hours of getting under the sheets, meals of at least 800 milligrams of cholesterol (four or more large whole eggs) and 40 grams of protein produced dramatically faster time-to-sleep scores than meals of lower volume or lower protein and fat. Eating two rib-eye steaks, each about three-quarters of a pound, had the strongest tranquilizer-like effect.

  • The Air-O-Swiss Travel Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier is incredible. It is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket (1.3 pounds), and its water source comes from any convenience store: a plastic water bottle turned upside down. The ultrasonic technology uses high-frequency vibrations to generate a micro-fine cool mist, which is blown into the room, where it evaporates into the air. This device is my go-to combination with the goLITE, especially after seeing how well it eliminates sinus problems while traveling. It also dramatically reduces facial wrinkles, which was an unexpected but pleasant side effect.

  • According to Gray the most likely cause of injury is neither weakness nor tightness, but imbalance. Think doing crunches or isolated ab work is enough to work your core muscles? Think again. “The core, as just one example, often works fine as long as one’s hips aren’t moving. It’s when the hips are moving—a more realistic scenario—that the core starts to compensate for left-right differences.” That’s when you get injured. Gray’s fundamental tool for identifying imbalances is his brainchild: the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). The FMS is a series of seven movement tests administered by a certified professional. Each test is scored on a three-point scale. For self-assessment, his professional FMS can be abbreviated to five movements with simple pass-fail evaluation: 1. Deep squat 2. Hurdle step 3. In-line lunge 4. Active straight leg raise 5. Seated rotation This self-FMS is designed to identify two things: left-right imbalances (asymmetry) and motor control issues (wobbling and shifting). Even if you can bench-press 600 pounds, it doesn’t mean you won’t dislocate a shoulder five minutes into a game. More weight with more reps does not equal stability. “Most people can press more weight overhead for a set than they can walk with overhead for the same period of time. Strength [the former] should never exceed stability [the latter],” Gray Cook explains. “It’s a recipe for disaster. The biggest misconception is that you can strengthen stabilizers [like the rotator cuff for the shoulder] alone to prevent injury. Even 10% stronger is like pissing in the ocean.”

  • I realized that isolating the problems with the FMS was just the first step. Step two was prescribing the corrective actions for each major mistake in each of the five movements, and that would easily take 50 pages of dense material. So I e-mailed Gray to reduce the seemingly irreducible: Assuming people do the screen, what are the 2–4 corrective exercises that you’d suggest to best fix the most common imbalances/weaknesses? If you had a gun to your head and had to pick 2–4 exercises for correction across the board, what would you choose? Gray’s picks were, without hesitation, the following critical four: Chop and lift (C&L) Turkish get-up (TGU) Two-arm single-leg deadlift (2SDL) Cross-body one-arm single-leg deadlift (1SDL) I’ve put the exercises in the order that you should learn them, as greater coordination is required as you move down the list. There is no shame in sticking with just the C&L for two to four weeks if the other three prove awkward to incorporate at the beginning.

  • The Effortless Superhuman Protocol The training protocol for Allyson Felix in 2003 consisted of the following, three times per week: Dynamic stretching before each session (“over-unders,” detailed later). One of the following, five minutes rest between sets: Bench press:1 2–3 sets of 2–3 reps or Push-ups: 10–12 reps2 Conventional deadlift to knees, 2–3 sets of 2–3 reps at 85–95% of 1-repetition max (1RM). Bar does NOT go higher than the knee and is dropped from that height rather than returned to the ground by the athlete. Dropping, and therefore avoiding the eccentric lowering portion, is critical for reducing hamstring injuries when also doing sprint training. Time under tension should be less than 10 seconds per set. For deadlift sets: • Plyometrics are performed immediately after the end of each set (box jumps3 of various heights × 4–6 reps) • Take five minutes rest in between sets, with the five-minute countdown starting after plyometrics Core exercise, 3–5 sets of 3–5 reps (isometric holds) Static stretching.

  • As a general guideline, we don’t want time under tension for exercise sets to exceed 10 seconds, as we want to minimize lactic acid production.

  • Athletes often miss the point of strength training. Some confuse it with conditioning. Others confuse themselves with powerlifters. The barbell is not there to make you a better man (or woman) by testing your mettle. That is what the court, the field, or the mat is for. The barbell is there to give you a strength advantage over an opponent of equal skill. Strength training cannot interfere with the practice of your sport. This is the point—the most important point—that many strength and conditioning coaches somehow miss. The crucial principle is to lift heavy but not hard. This is where the “rule of 10 reps” can be applied: 1. Use two to three “global” compound exercises (e.g., the deadlift and the bench press). 2. Lift three times a week (e.g., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).12 Do your conditioning and supplementary work on separate days, practice your sport skills six days a week, and take one day off completely. 3. Focus on sets of two or three reps. Two reps is the most preferred rep choice of the Russian National Weight Lifting Team. 4. In all cases, complete approximately 10 reps per lift per workout (e.g., three sets of three, five sets of two, etc.). 5. Never train to failure, and always leave at least one to two reps “in the bank.” 6. Rest for five minutes between sets. 7. Finish your workout feeling stronger than when you started. The goal is to build as much strength as possible while staying as fresh as possible for your sport.

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