Body by Science Strength training

The video quality is not the best, but I’ve read the book by Dr. Doug McGuff and John Little and it’s a good workout especially if you’re coming from a sedentary background and have zero idea of how to lift weights.  It is simple and effective.   The book can be found at amazon Body by Science  (not an affiliate link or anything like that- I just value the book’s info).


To sum it up:   It’s centered on the big five workout- two exercises for the chest, two for the shoulders and back, and one for the legs.   All are done on Nautilus style machines, with slow repetitions until failure of the muscles.

Row- Pulling into your chest.
Chest Press- Pushing out from your chest.
Pull down- Pull down to your chest.
Overhead Press- up from your chest.
Leg Press- press out from a seated position; can also use squats.

All of these are compound exercises- they use multiple muscles to move the weight.

All use a machine to control the movement and for safety.

You do one set of each exercise.

All are done very very slow.  Like count to three as you lift off the stack; keep that slow rate up and down.

Avoid using momentum to bounce the weight off the stack; lifting slow takes momentum out of the equation.

All are done to failure and a little beyond.  When you can’t lift it any further, hold it for a 10 count or longer before lowering the stack.

It should take between 60-120 seconds for each exercise.  If you can exceed 2 minutes, it’s time to raise your weight.

One set per week.  If you can do it more often, raise your weights.   If you need more time to rest between sessions, a few days will not hurt.   Everyone’s recovery is different.

Notice, no where in this list is to count the number of repetitions.   That number does not matter because you are actually focusing on your Time Under Load or Time Under Tension.   Repetitions have no meaning here.   You’re aiming for slow lifts, slow descents, and under 2 minute time under load per exercise. Depending on how busy your gym is, this can take under 15 minutes to complete, once a week.

Being “too busy” to work out is literally no excuse.

“How does this work?   It sounds like a bunch of bro-science crap to me!”

All of the details are in the book which I highly recommend if you want the full science behind this plan.  This is what’s known as High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for short.   It takes your muscles to their maximum fatigue quickly so that the type 2 muscle fibers actually exhaust which is the whole point of weight training.

Dr. McGuff has a ton of videos online to see the whole workout in action so you can get an idea of arm position and motion and just a ton of good info about strength training in general- the how and why you do it.

The ONLY criticism I have of this method of strength training is that you feel like a bit of an idiot moving so slowly in the gym when others are throwing things around like a chimp rampaging in a cage.  I’ve been doing this for about 8 months off and on (consistency is my Achilles heel) and when done properly, in correct form, this can be a brutally exhausting workout.   In under 15 minutes, once a week.

Hit the comments if you have any questions!


About Scott

I am an older geek who has a deep, abiding fascination for all things shiny and new, but also a deep, abiding respect for all things shiny and old. Or just old. And not always shiny.

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