Introduction to Eccentric Exercise

Discover What Eccentric Exercise is and Why it is So Radically Effective


Jonathan: Hey, it’s Jonathan Bailor and welcome to this Smarter Exercise Overview. I get really excited about smarter exercise because it really changes the game when it comes to how we think of moving our bodies in general. So first, let’s make one quick distinction. That’s the distinction between activity and exercise because you’ll hear me say “exercise less” a lot and I want to be really clear about what I mean when I say that. Just like when I say “eat more”, I don’t mean eat more garbage. I mean, eat more high-quality SANE food. When I say “exercise less”, I mean do less but of a specific very high-quality form of exercise and also staying active.

Activity versus exercise: Activity is moving your body — walking, standing, playing with your kids, taking the stairs. I don’t consider that exercise. That’s just being a person. If we want the ability to walk around when we’re 80, it’s a really good idea to walk around as much as we can before we’re 80. Studies consistently show that the more active we are, the healthier we are. So let’s keep activity over here and let’s keep it up. But when we talk about exercise, how do we exercise less but smarter? And why do we want to?

Well, first of all, what is smarter exercise? Smarter exercise is just exercise that’s focused on quality rather than quantity — just like we do for food. So, conventional exercise is all about more exercise — exercise more, exercise more. And why? Well, it’s because it’s designed to burn calories and the more we exercise, the more calories we burn. But you and I know that that is a “flat earth model” of weight loss. The idea that just burning more calories will cause us to burn more fat makes sense much like if you look out the window, it makes sense to think the earth is flat because it really looks flat. But when we understand science, we know that’s not how the world works and not how our bodies work.

So our bodies don’t work like math and any time we starve our body, whether that’s from eating less or from exercising more, in one case, we’re taking fewer calories in and in another case, we’re burning calories off. It’s starvation — just two different names. Frankly, if we wanted to starve ourselves, eating less takes a lot less time than exercising more. But let’s not worry about either one of those horribly unhealthy practices. Let’s stay active and let’s exercise smarter.

When we exercise smarter, instead of focusing on the quantity of exercise that we’re doing and the quantity of calories that we’re burning, we focus on the quality of our movements — the amount of muscle fiber we’re activating and the hormonal healing response that causes. Because, remember, just like with food, it’s not about starving a broken system; it’s about healing that system itself, healing our brains, healing our guts, and healing our hormones as science has shown that those are the underlying causes of obesity and diabetes; not a lack of willpower or laziness. Simply, a dysfunction in the brain, hormones, and gut that we can heal. But how do we heal those? We heal that through high-quality SANE eating and also high-quality exercise.

High-quality exercise — smarter exercise – is physical movements that activate all of our muscle fibers. So taking a step back, you know about the different muscle groups in your body. So you have your biceps, for example, that work your arm muscles and your quadriceps that work your leg muscles. Well, just like we have different muscle groups that do different things, we have different fibers within each of those muscle groups that help those respective muscles do different things.

For example, you have your Type I muscle fibers. These muscle fibers allow your muscles to generate a little bit of force but for a very long period of time. They’re the muscle fibers that allow you to walk and talk all day — little force, long period of time. Then you have your Type IIa, Type IIx, and Type IIb muscle fibers. And I’m doing this little dance with my hands for a reason because you should think of these muscle fibers as being on a spectrum because the further you go down towards your Type IIb muscle fibers, the functioning capabilities of these muscle fibers change. Specifically, our Type IIa, x, and b muscle fibers generate progressively more force and have progressively less endurance. They’re the muscle fibers we use when we, for example, need to lift something very heavy for a very short period of time.

So again, your quadriceps move your legs, your biceps move your arms, but now your Type Ia muscle fibers within both your quadriceps and your arms and every muscle group on your body allow those muscles to do a little bit of force, long period of time, whereas your Type II — and Type IIb specifically — muscle fibers allow all of your muscle groups to do a lot of force but for a very short period of time. So when we exercise smarter, what we’re going to do is we’re going to find specific modes of exercise that allow us as safely as possible to activate all of our muscle fibers — Type I, Type IIa, Type IIx, and Type IIb.

That is amazing for two reasons — actually, three reasons. First, it’s really safe so you don’t have to worry about getting hurt. We’re going to talk about increasing the intensity of exercise and often when you hear that — and for good cause — you think, Ah, increased intensity; increased risk. Because when you think of intensity, you think about throwing tires and running up stadium steps. While those are intense activities, those aren’t smarter exercises. So we’re going to do something that’s intense but extremely safe and sustainable.

The second reason this is very cool is most people have never activated their Type IIb muscle fibers, or their strongest muscle fibers. Think about how amazing it is. You have an entire type of muscle fibers, possibly multiple types of muscle fibers — maybe your Type IIx muscle fibers as well — that have never been activated. Could you imagine if you never used your leg muscles for your entire life and then today you started exercising your leg muscles? Could you imagine the amount of impact and result and the speed of the results you’d see in your leg muscles? That can happen to your entire body when you exercise smarter and activate these, let’s say, Type IIb muscle fibers for the first time in your life.

So it’s safe. It’s activating an entirely new type of muscle fiber you may have never activated before. And finally, it elicits a hormonal response in your body that is literally impossible to elicit via lower-quality conventional forms of exercise. And it’s a healing hormonal response. It’s a hormonal response that’s been shown in lab studies to literally immunize mammals against fat gain. In some pretty amazing rodent studies, they actually genetically engineered rodents to have more of these Type IIb muscle fibers and then stuffed them full of low-quality foods and found that these rodents were literally immune to becoming obese and diabetic. It is incredibly amazing. And when you exercise smarter or with more force in a very safe fashion, you activate all of your muscle fibers and you elicit this hormonal response which, again, is not possible via any quantity of low-quality exercise.

Now, I don’t want to belabor this point but I often get questions that are, “Jonathan, can I just do more exercise but as a lower intensity to get this hormonal response?” No. You cannot. I’m trying to think of a good example that I can show you here on camera. Let’s say that you have a — here we go, nothing like unscripted. Okay, so you have a pillow here and this pillow is just sitting on my hand. So if I just take my finger here and I tap this pillow — one, two, three, four — my goal is to move the pillow. You know that it doesn’t matter what quantity of low-quality taps I do to this pillow. I can do one-two-three or I could sit here and do three hundred. It’s never going to move the pillow. It’s not an issue of quantity of stimulus that I’m applying to the pillow. But now if I do one, boom, high-quality push on the pillow, I get the result I want. Same kind of thing happens here with your muscle fibers. There is no —

Activating your Type IIb muscle fibers is not a quantity issue. There’s no quantity of walking that will ever, ever, ever activate your Type IIb muscle fibers, just like there’s no quantity of bicep curls that will ever activate your quadricep muscles. They’re different things. So what we’re going to do is activate all of them, all of them — Type I, Type IIa, Type IIx, Type IIb. We’re going to do that very safely and sustainably. You’re going to do it in the comfort of your own house, or if you’re more advanced or you become more advanced, you can go to a gym and dial it up there. Safely and sustainably activate an entirely new set of muscle fibers and trigger a healing hormonal response that will do more for your body from a healing perspective to reset your set point, to heal your hormones, than any quantity of low-quality exercise would ever do. It’s literally like you’ve been written a new prescription. You’ll get an entirely new result and I’m so excited to see how you do.