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All About Eccentric Exercise and More

Jonathan: Hey, everyone! Jonathan Bailor is hiding in the corner for this podcast because I am joined by none other than the dynamic estrogen duo of Dr. Kathy Patel and Carrie Brown.

Carrie: Hey, everyone!

Kathy: Hey! Hi, it’s great to be here again.

Jonathan: We’ve got Kathy on the house which means it’s none other than time for ding-ding-ding-ding, Smarter Science of Slim Q&A from the Support Group.

Kathy: Yes, yes. Well, we’ve got a bunch of really good questions here. Let’s start with Meg768. She has a question. She can’t get sore and wonders if she’s too experienced to benefit from the eccentric exercises. She says she felt the SSOS…

Jonathan: Too many S’s. Just kidding. Go ahead. Sorry, Kathy. Go ahead.

Kathy: Leg press for last two and the last two reps on both legs. She was feeling it about eight seconds when the weight was at a certain level. However, she did this after a two-hour interval bike and a thirty-minute circuit class with ball squat throws, Murphy’s and etcetera, and she is still not sore enough. Mind you, she does train for marathons and Ironman, and she is used to training really hard about 15 hours a week in the off-season and 25 during peak. She wants to know, is she really too fit to get the benefits from these eccentric exercises?

Jonathan: Okay, so first of all, that’s a lot of exercise.

Kathy: Sure, yes.

Carrie: I haven’t done that much in a whole year.

Jonathan: If Meg768 enjoys that, we’re all about people enjoying themselves; so I’ll say… I’ll give a personal anecdote, and then we can whack scientific a little bit. Personal anecdote: I have been strength training seriously and with a lot of scientific/professional… I’m not just screwing around. I want to go to the gym. I’ve been doing that for probably 15 years now, and I enable to make myself sore; so I think there is no… just because you’ve done something for a long time, like no matter how good you are at math, there is always some formula somewhere that will challenge you. Generally speaking, when it comes to either physical skills or mental skills, you will never get to a point where there is nothing that could make you sore, either physically or even mentally.

Kathy: Right.

Jonathan: That is sort of my philosophical, personal anecdote. I still get so sore that sometimes, and I’m saying this is a good thing, my leg gets so sore that sometimes the day of my eccentric routine, I have to take some ibuprofen when I try to sleep at night, otherwise I can’t sleep.

Kathy: Wow.

Jonathan: Anyway, I’m not saying that’s good and that everyone should do that. I never thought what the science behind it but what do you guys think?

Kathy: Well, yeah. I’m kind of thinking that Meg is doing with all this exercise she’s doing, getting kind of geeky here. I think she may be depleting her muscles of glycogen.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Kathy: She’s really not able to actually exercise the Type II-B muscle fibers maximally. I’m sure she’s doing a lot of great exercise and burning a lot of calories, probably feeling good, but probably won’t strengthen the Type II-B muscle fibers if she exercises them too much.

Jonathan: Kathy, I think you’re absolutely correct. I will even take it one step further and say that especially as she — well actually, she looks like she’s possibly young, and this matters no matter your age — that level of exercise, you kind of want to watch out for the impact on your T3 levels, because that much exercise can actually not only cause you to not be able to exercise in a way that will cause maximum benefit but just like anything done in excess is not healthy and that level of physical stress placed on the body in a continuous fashion might border on someone who is trying to burn fat and takes Winstrol or some other illegal form of hormones to help with that.

The goal here is health, so let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot by taking our goal of health and actually turning it to something that is unhealthy. I don’t necessarily think she’s there yet, but it’s something we’ve always want to be sensitive to. Kathy, I think your point is spot on where literally, if you are out of energy and tired, you won’t be able to hit that level of intensity. You won’t be able to hit that level of resistance. You just won’t. Even if you don’t sleep enough, you’re not going to be able to do it.

Kathy: Yeah. I know I think for a person who’s training for a specific goal, and if you have a question in terms of an elite athletic goal, I think it’s really important to have one-to-one coaching from a really skilled trainer.

Jonathan: Absolutely, just like you would. If you have a specific medical condition, every person is unique; and if you have a very specific goal, you want that specific coaching. Kathy, just to get back to the point you made earlier, and I’ll take it back to a personal anecdote, you are spot on that I think the issue here is the over exercise, not because she’s bad and she shouldn’t do that, but even for myself personally, we talk in the Smarter Science of Slim about how you could do one high-quality interval workout and one eccentric workout for a week but once you get your eccentrics, if you’re able to take them to the maximum level of, let’s call it ‘efficiency,’ the interval training workout will compromise your ability to train eccentrically, and that’s working out twice a week.

Speaking from experience, if I do an eccentric live press with, let’s say a 100 pounds, obviously that’s not, but let’s just say a 100 pounds, and I did that after a week of rest and then I do interval training on Wednesday of the next week and then I cannot do a 100 pounds when I do my eccentrics again, and because of that I don’t get sore. Again, circling back, here’s the challenge, I would say. What is our wonderful user’s name? Sorry.

Kathy: It’s Meg’s.

Jonathan: Megs768. Megs, if you want to really test eccentrics, you’re going to have to do an experiment, which you may not want to do because it sounds like you really enjoy a lot of exercise; and that’s all good, but what the experiment would be is stop all other forms of exercise and remember we don’t consider walking and being active or things like yoga that are restorative to be exercise. Stop all other forms of exercise as we defined exercise for one week, and then do eccentrics as intensely as we talked about, which is you’re essentially trying to do an isometric but the weight is so heavy that it forces you to do an eccentric; and then see if that makes you sore.

Kathy: Yeah, absolutely. Wow, that’s a really neat idea, Jonathan.

Jonathan: Thank you. I try.

Kathy: Yeah. Here’s another question from ForMySons. I like that name. It’s really neat, on traditional weight training versus eccentric training. He’s 58 years old and would like to remain at his present weight but lower his body fat. At present, he’s following Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Programs, but he wants to look like you, Jonathan.

Jonathan: Well, then, he should talk to my mother and father because it’s the only way to get the genetics which…

Kathy: Well, yeah. Yeah.

Jonathan: We’re all different, right. There’s no…

Kathy: He was wondering if he should switch to your exercise program of eccentric exercise. You were a weight lifter. Would you have gotten the look you have now using your eccentric exercise program? That’s really his question.

Jonathan: Got you.

Kathy: That’s his only question.

Jonathan: First, thank you for the very, very kind compliment. That’s very kind of you, and I will answer this question by actually giving a little bit of personal history of myself. There’s actually a blog post in the Smarter Science of Slim website written by my personal physician about my history here. It’s an interesting read, so check that out. Search for Scott Ripple. That’s the name of my doctor. Anyway, before I went eccentric and SANE… went SANE and got eccentric. We talked about when I was a trainer and I was doing a more traditional five to six…

Let’s call it ‘traditional’ if you’re crazy like I was, a more neurotic exercise routine which was exercising five to seven times per week and eating a more traditional high-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-protein diet, and I didn’t get bad results. I was at 200 pounds. I’m six feet tall with a 34-inch waist so for all intensive purposes, very, very good shape. Probably 12 percent body fat, I think, would be the range for someone who has got height and weight, 34-inch waist, so I went SANE, got eccentric, so again today, focused much more on the nutritional profile we describe of. Vast majority of the volume of the food I eat is non-starchy vegetables. That’s followed from volume perspective from nutrient-dense protein, predominantly fish and grass-fed meats or free range poultry.

I actually don’t eat any fruits except before and after my workout, but that’s just for me personally, and then I would follow it up with whole food fats. For me, I like to focus on, we talked about flax, but even more so than flax, coconut, cocoa, and then of course, the wonderful omega-3’s that I get from seafood. Anyway, that and I do my eccentrics once a week. That’s it. Now, I think I’m at 196, still six feet tall and I have a 30 and a half-inch waist. None of my pants fit me anymore.

I don’t mean to be gross, but there’s veins where you wouldn’t expect veins to be, like in my pelvic regions. I think…. Kathy! TMI. The reason I’m saying that though is that’s generally indicative. I personally like the visual body fat test so when you start to get down the single digit body fat percentages… I’m now being objectified by the women in the room. Thank you. I’m trying to stay focused here.

Carrie: Sow away, Jonathan. Sow away.

Jonathan: Point is, that’s right. I think that puts you in the eight percent body fat ball park. Anyway, the long version is your exercise routine is not going to be the determinant here. It’s the sanity of your diet that is going to allow you to get to that body fat level percentage. If you don’t trust me, actually talk with someone who… there are specific trainers out there that professional physique athletes work with. It’s called the pre-contest dieting. It’s called pre-contest dieting for a reason, because their workout routine doesn’t really change, their diet does. It becomes very, very, very meticulous and very, very high quality.

Long answer to the question is, I’ve personally seen the most success doing what we describe in the Smarter Science of Slim, and I wish I would have known it earlier because I would have saved my left pec from getting torn, my right hamstring from getting torn, my right hip flexor from getting torn and other fun injuries that I can’t think of right now that I got.

Carrie: You wouldn’t have had to replace all your pants.

Jonathan: Because I would have just been at that point throughout so again, it’s not about doing more. It’s not about trying harder. It’s about working smarter, and I think that’s the way to go. Again, if you’re training eccentrically, you’re going to get the benefits from exercise, the rest of it is diet.

Kathy: Yeah. Now, as you were saying that, I was thinking, “Would all of us have figured this out tens of years ago?

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Kathy: Yeah.

Jonathan: Carrie, sorry, I just want to go back to that question real quick. Kathy, sorry, just one other thing to point out, so ForMySons, this is a helpful paradigm shift. We talked about it a little bit, but this is an illustration. This is an illustration, right? The body burns fat or builds muscle when, for lack of better terms, hormones, your brain tells it to, right? A very effective way to build muscle, for example – do not do this. I’m illustrating a point – is to take steroids. Why does steroids work? Because they tell your brain to tell your body to build muscle. You could sit down and never move and inject yourself with steroids, and your body will build muscle. Don’t do that. It’s not healthy, and it’s not legal.

The reason I make that point is our goal, if it’s to build muscle or to burn fat, is to trigger the hormonal reaction in our body that tells our body to do those things. The question is not, “Is this workout program this, this, that, the other?” The question is “How can I trigger that hormonal response?” The way you trigger that hormonal response is 90 percent plus by the way you’re eating and ten percent from the way you’re exercising, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. The deeper the muscle fiber, the larger the hormonal response it triggers, and the more muscle fibers you work, the more significant the hormonal response is.

Simple logic tells us that an exercise routine that works all four types of your muscle fibers which by definition can only happen if you’re using heavier loads and then exercise routine that allows you to use heavier loads in the safest way possible because you hurt yourself, you’re not going to be able to do anything, would be eccentric training. The question is then, “Why complicate it?” We have found in methodology that allows us to work all of our muscle fibers and the muscle fibers that are the most responsible for the hormonal response which triggers muscle gain and fat loss. Keep it simple, and do what works.

Kathy: I’m shaking my head, “Yes.” I suppose I should say that.

Jonathan: Use your words, as my mother would say.

Kathy: Yes. Yes. Well, here’s…

Jonathan: Is that helpful? I hope I didn’t bounce anyone there.

Kathy: I think it’s very helpful.

Jonathan: Okay.

Kathy: Here’s another question by LexLuther61.

Jonathan: His name is actually Lex Luther? Lex?

Kathy: Lex, yeah.

Jonathan: You’re called Lex.

Kathy: Reading through the book Body of Science and viewing a bunch of YouTube videos they show doing high-intensity exercises using a normal rep sequence two hands up solely, two hands down as opposed to two up and one down. He understands the basis of this but wants to know really whether this is going to lead to really not getting the maximum weight, because it’s really hard to judge and he’s thinking the two up and two down method just seemed more straight forward. He’s really having trouble.

Jonathan: Sure.

Kathy: Getting that two up and one down…

Jonathan: Sure. The point here is always to find a method by which you can work your muscle fibers as deeply as possible, right? We know science is very, very clear that we cannot handle as much resistance concentrically as we can eccentrically. The only reason we recommend the two up, one down is not because that in it of itself is some awesome watershed technique, but rather if you don’t have a spotter, the only way with most exercises that you can lower more weight than you raised is to raise it with two limbs and lower it with one. However, if you’re doing bench press, and you have a spotter, and the spotter is very competent and very much paying attention — again, this is a little bit riskier — there is absolutely no reason for you to lower the weight with two arms and then not have your spotter help you raise it with two arms as well.

The question is you have to find a method by which you can take an exercise and use less resistance on the way up and more resistance on the way down. There are machines that enable you to do that such as ones that use air pressure. If you have a machine that uses air pressure, for example, if you’re doing a chest press, there’s usually a little foot pedals or thumb switches where you use the… like there’s a plus or minus and if you hit the plus, it increases the resistance.

You could imagine putting zero pounds on it, getting in the top position, hitting the plus switch until it gets to a hundred pounds slowly lowering it, hitting the minus switch until it goes to fifty, raising it with both arms. If you can do that, that’s great. Again, the point with the Smarter Science of Slim all the recommendations are understand the spirit of it. The spirit of it is lower more resistance than you raise because that would enable you to work more muscle fibers than if you stopped when you could no longer raised the weight. However you can do that most effectively do it using two limbs down and one up is just one method.

Kathy: Yeah, the thing that I would add is that spotting is so important and most of the time, you are your own spot…

Jonathan: Exactly.

Kathy: … when you really don’t have someone along with you to do that so that using your other hand if you’re particularly lowering a very significant weight using your other hand, not having any weight on, but as a spotter for that hand is really a good safety issue and keeping you on track with this one.

Jonathan: Yeah, and the key thing, again, if you really want to take this deeper, the key point is we want more lowered on the weight down, less on the way up. There’s other ways to do that. For example, you could lower resistance for very, very… lower the resistance really slowly and then raise it very quickly. I’m just going to use an example here. Imagine, you were doing squats, traditional barbell squats. A way to make a traditional barbell squat “eccentric,” just focusing on the lowering without a spotter would be you have weight on the bar that you can do a normal squat with. You would normally go down for two seconds, up for two seconds or whatever, more of a traditional squat movement.

You usually squat in a squat rack. I’m sorry for folks who don’t care about this. I’m sorry. We’re going deep into it, but you traditionally squat in the squat rack, and there are pins so that if you can’t raise the weight. You can set it down, and it doesn’t crush you. You would squat down incredibly slow, so you squat down for ten seconds. You would rest the weight on the pins, and you would actually give your legs a second to recover; so you would pause for two seconds, not bearing the weight on your legs, and then you would just very safely lift the weight which you could because you had rested at that point. You would raise the weight relatively quickly which is easier than lowering it very, very slowly. So, again, there’s many, many ways to squeeze the most results out of your workout by emphasizing the eccentric components. This is just one way.

Kathy: Great. Thank you, Jonathan. Here’s a question from Sandy about blood sugar. She asked, “Is blood sugar measurement a good indicator of SANE eating? After what I think was a very SANE meal, mine was 113. I was expecting closer to 100.” Well…

Jonathan: I don’t know the answer to this question.

Carrie: Finally, yes.

Kathy: Well, I have some suggestions for Sandy.

Jonathan: The meal is SANE. It’s SANE, but…

Kathy: But normally, the blood sugar is something that goes up and down throughout the day. It goes up for about two hours after a meal, and it reaches its peak, then it slowly goes down again in the next of couple of hours. So how high it goes depends on a number of things, including when you check it, your insulin level and sensitivity, your activity level, the quantity and quality of food that you eat.

A blood sugar of 113 after a meal is definitely not at all abnormal. Unless you’re diabetic and need to make decisions about controlling insulin or oral agents, testing your blood sugar probably isn’t going to be helpful to you. If you read the Smarter Science of Slim and look at the quick start guides, I think you get an idea with the seven-day meal plans exactly what SANE eating is and what it’s going to do much more than testing your blood sugar would do for you.

Jonathan: Totally, I would agree with that. I would also say that the eating… Kathy, I’m going to be kind of make a little bit of extreme statement so feel free to reel me in if this is not backed by your practice. For example, eating fat will not spike your blood sugar.

Kathy: That’s true.

Jonathan: It can’t, so the reason I say this is… I often say, biology is not a matter of opinion. If you eat non-starchy vegetables, if you eat nutrient dense proteins, if you eat whole food fats, notice I’m excluding fruits, your blood sugar cannot get too high.

Kathy: That’s correct.

Jonathan: It’s just not possible. It’s like trying to mix oil with water. You’re not going to do it. Eating fat will never spike your blood sugar. It can’t.

Kathy: Right.

Jonathan: Like a circle can’t have corners.

Carrie: When I had my numbers done last, my blood done, my non-fasting glucose was lower than my fasting glucose should have been. There’s obviously an incredibly low amount of sugar floating around, because I hadn’t fasted and yet my number was lower than if I had fasted. I eat SANE most of the time, 98 percent of the time.

Jonathan: Absolutely. And the key thing here is, and Sandy, I don’t mean to… in some ways, I think you could say a super high blood sugar level, you cannot… one, there’s a question of what is a high blood sugar level; but if we could for you define a high level of blood sugar, which I don’t think you are hitting that range yet, the only way one could hit an abnormally high level of blood sugar would be to eat INSANE foods.

Kathy: Consistently.

Jonathan: Consistently.

Carrie: Consistently, yes.

Jonathan: Again, instead of testing your blood sugar, let’s just stick with sanity and you’re good to go.

Kathy: That’s correct.

Carrie: My point was, I think, to do it for every meal, you’re going to get a really skewed idea of what it’s doing, but we now have it done twice a year.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Carrie: I know it’s always going to be low.

Kathy: There are other tests that are actually more appropriate monitors of how your blood sugar is doing over time, and that’s particularly we call an A1C.

Jonathan: Yes.

Kathy: Which tells you blood sugar over a number of months and averages those things out.

Jonathan: Just kind of draw on that real quick Dr. Kathy, I think just the macro point of trends over time and over significant periods of time is such a key point, right? Looking at my weight now, my stress levels now, my anything right now in this moment, if we’re living just moment to moment like, “What do I weigh today? What do I weigh tomorrow? What’s my waist measurement now? What’s my blood sugar right now?” versus taking more of the “What is the trend? Am I trending better or worse?” Looking at it over a longer period of time. Otherwise…

Kathy: You drive yourself nuts.

Jonathan: Peaks and valleys and peaks and valleys, and it’s all about invest in the stock market over time it will go up. Don’t look at it every single day. Do the right thing. Make the right investments financially, it will go up, but maybe not in this economy. Make sure make the right investments. Make the right investments biologically, and you will do better. You can’t not. What do you think?

Kathy: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. For example, if you eat a significant amount of Costco rotisserie chicken, this will work for me. It’s delicious laden with salt and a little sugar in it too, I think. It’s got to. It’s so good. If you eat quite a bit of that, one day you’ll find that my weight might be up three pounds the next day.

Jonathan: Oh, absolutely.

Kathy: Yeah, because of the salt.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Kathy: Checking your weight is irrelevant anyway, but checking it daily is even more irrelevant.

Jonathan: Absolutely, and that’s all this data collection. If you like it and if it supports you do it but the day that it starts putting doubts in your mind, it’s doing more harm than it’s good. It’s not helping you be healthy. It’s causing neuroticism and self-doubt which is not what we want.

Kathy: Sure. Okay.

Jonathan: That was a lot of good question, Kathy. Do we have more for future episodes?

Kathy: We have many, many more.

Jonathan: We got a lot of “more” as Mr. T would say.

Kathy: Oh, I have is a story about Mr. T for the next episode.

Jonathan: Well, that gives reason. Listeners, you got to stay tuned, because Dr. Kathy is going to tell us about her story about Mr. T in the next episode.

Kathy: Mr. T and Bill Gates on an airplane.

Jonathan: That’s sounds like a joke: Mr. T and Bill Gates on an airplane.

Kathy: And me.

Jonathan: And Dr. Kathy. Stay tuned for this wonderful joke, because this is going to be a good one. Kathy, thank you so much for joining us this week. It’s always a pleasure.

Kathy: Thank you for having me.

Jonathan: Take care. I’m singling for Carrie to hear the out show.

Carrie: He is looking blindly.

[Crosstalk 27:46]

Jonathan: I was trying “Carrie, do the out show because you haven’t talked too much.” Carrie, do the out show because you haven’t talked too much.

Carrie: It’s been awesome, people. Lovely to have you here, Kathy.

Kathy: It’s so lovely.

Carrie: Hope you’ll be back again soon.

Kathy: Thank you.

Jonathan: Thanks, everyone. Remember eat smarter, exercise smarter, live better. Talk with you soon.

This week:
– What if I’m not getting sore exercising eccentrically?
– Will exercising eccentrically help beginners as much as more advanced folks?
– Do I have to do my eccentrics in the “2 up, 1 down” format outlined in SSoS?
– How important is testing and monitoring my blood sugar?
…and much much more!