35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
My own experience,
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This review is from: Body by Science: A Research Based Program to Get the Results You Want in 12 Minutes a Week (Paperback)
I'm the sort of person who isn't a gym rat, but would love to figure out how to go about increasing my strength and fitness in the most effective way (the less time spent at the gym the better!).
I have a mostly ectomorphic, somewhat mesomorphic build and, before buying this book, was training using a 3 day split routine. Basically 1 or 2 warm up sets, followed by 2 or 3 heavy sets per exercise - never to failure, but not far off. I was spending about 2 or 3 hours a week at the gym.
The book ticks some boxes for me by appearing to take a reasonably scientific approach - and adds a big fat cherry on top by concluding that one 12 minute session a week is all you need to maximise "health" and "fitness".
Bare in mind that "health" and "fitness" are very loosely defined words, the book makes a point of this and so the authors define them for themselves. Their definitions are hard to argue with, but not impossible. For example, the way a modern day athlete trains would not be considered "healthy" by their definition because the extreme exercise is likely to cause joint damage, or other injuries.
The main recommendation made by the book is the superslow, one-set to failure approach - otherwise known as HIT (high intensity training). On top of that, only 5 exercises are performed and each set is timed, rather than counting repetitions.
I tried the approach advocated by this book for 2 months. Here are a few of the difficulties I had with it:
1) Timing sets is not easy without someone (like a trainer) doing it for you. For exercises that require both hands (all but one of them), you find that reaching from the stopwatch to the weights and back again takes an unknown number of seconds, making the timing quite inaccurate.
2) The book suggests a 20 second rep... impossible to time without a helper or a clock in front of your face.
3) The book recommends using special machines that adjust the weight to make up for stronger and weaker points of a movement. My gym doesn't have this so I found I got stuck at weak points every time, perhaps it isn't important, but it's frustrating.
But I'd forgive all of these minor annoyances if it works, of course!
So did it work?
Well I found that I didn't manage to increase my time at all, week on week, nor the weight. Also, should you ever want to switch the order of the exercises, you'll find your timing gets all messed up due to the different level of exhaustion at the start of the exercise.
12 minutes for the big 5 exercises? Nope, more like half an hour at least, unless you happen to have a trainer doing your timing and a gym with all the machines lined up next to each other & free.
The nail in the coffin for me was that today I decided to go back to my old routine to check if I was still capable of doing it. Only just, if anything I was slightly weaker, so it seems to have just about done the job of maintenance.
My weight didn't increase, neither did any measurements that mattered. Whereas I'd been seeing regular increases in both using my old routine.
Conclusion: For me, it didn't do what it seems to claim, but is useful for maintaining if for some reason only one gym session a week is possible. It's possible that I happened to have reached a natural road block just before switching to HIT, but the book claims that a persons genetic peak is reached about 2 years after starting to train in this way - I have been training for less than 1.
If you are untrained, it may well help. But don't think that 12 minutes a week (more likely half an hour) using this approach is going to be easy. The session is extremely difficult and requires that you ignore every part of your body that is screaming to stop. If you don't have very strong will power, a trainer might be required.
For me, the search goes on.
*** UPDATE ***
I went back to my old routine after trying the methods in this book as described above. A couple of weeks in and I was gaining again faster than ever and have been since then (a month in total). I guess that means I wasn't hitting a natural road block, but just that the HIT routine wasn't working for me.
Seems to be a fantastic maintenance/rest-period workout though. =)
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Aug 2011 16:38:04 BDT
R. D. Strong says:
It does say in the book that once you have reached a plateau in the training you change the workout to a split routine. For example... a 3 day routine that focuses on different areas. This seems to me what you were already doing before starting.
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Aug 2011 10:39:29 BDT
I don't remember it saying anything about switching to a non-HIT type routine, but I could have missed something.
I do remember it suggesting that a 3 day split routine should still use HIT and be spread over 3 weeks (one session a week). I must admit, I didn't try that.
I think my main issue with the methods in the book was that I saw no gain in strength or lean size. I.e. if I did hit a plateau, then it was hit immediately.
If it's really effective, I would expect to see at least some performance improvement during the time I tried it - so I can only say it's not effective for me, in the way I would expect having read the book.
Posted on 20 Feb 2012 13:10:26 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 20 Feb 2012 13:12:55 GMT]
Posted on 9 Mar 2012 22:08:53 GMT
a reader from Portugal says:
In my experience, once a week isn't enough to grow muscles, only for maintenance and improving your insulin (extremely important). For muscle growth I do it Mondays and Fridays, 5 exercises which take me about 45 minutes each training session, including warm-up, abs and stretching.
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