The Visual Weight Loss System - VEEP

Are you sleep lifting? (Alternative title: What they are teaching you for resistance training is total crap)

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This article is purely about getting results. If you are stuck, or not getting the results you want, read on. This is not an indictment of personal trainers, there are trainers out there who do know their stuff and do have a body worthy of envy.  The purpose of what you are reading is to help you get past the ‘in vogue’ training methodology that you see widely taught these days in many gyms that simply does not work for the vast majority of people who do it.

The gym I most often go to is a national chain. I see a lot of people being put through the paces of resistance training in assembly line fashion by trainers who simply don’t have anything close to a body I would like to have.

What I see being taught is mostly crap.  It doesn’t work. Oh, it’s kinesiologically ‘correct’ and you sure won’t get injured doing it, and said gym sure won’t get sued for teaching it, but it’s still crap.  It doesn’t get you in the kind of shape you want to get in to. What it does do is mitigate the possibility of your gym getting sued and meet the insurance bond requirements of the gyms that teach this crap.

I’m not making this up.  I see and talk to people over and over that are doing what they are told to do and getting nowhere, despite inordinate amounts of time doing it.  You see it too. Let’s all admit it.  So why is this the case?  Let me get right to the problem.

When it comes to weight loss and getting in shape, if you get one thing into your head, get this; exercise and diet are simply hormonal triggers.

At the most fundamental level, it’s the hormonal and physiological response to exercise that causes results, not the exercise. 

You can sit on a balance ball and do curls from now until next week, and if you don’t trigger a hormonal and physiological response, you are wasting your time.

First, if you are not resistance training, you need to be. Here are some of the hormonal responses* to INTENSE resistance training.

-    Increased testosterone. Women, this is a good thing. 
-    Increase in resting Insulin Like Growth Factor – IGF-1
-    Increase in HGH (stimulates body fat release among other things)
-    Increase in epinephrine and norepinephrine (stimulates body fat release)

Notice I used the word intensity. Intensity is the key driver.  Resistance with controlled intensity is the hormonal trigger that yields results. Resistance without intensity is not very effective because it does not trigger a hormonal response.

Most of what you see in the gym these days is resistance without intensity. 

The Bodybuilding dogma of the 80’s and 90’s resulted in a lot of people in the gym training their limbs and chest, with no athletic ability and doughy stomachs.

A lot of the training protocols you see today came along as a response to this and said \"hey, your bodybuilding shtick is not athletic, you have no flexibility, no range of motion, no balance, and you are wearing out your joints, we’ve got something better;\" In one respect, this was totally correct. But we threw out the baby with the bathwater.

What also got thrown out was the hormonal stimulation of INTENSE resistance training.  Exercise that does not induce hormonal responses like increased HGH, testosterone and noradrenalin, does not produce the results you want for weight loss and body shaping.
Intensity is the key to triggering that hormonal response.

The simple truth is when you look at the unmitigated masters of inducing physiologic changes, the guys who know how to do it better than any other group, drugs or not, it’s bodybuilders.  A principle from bodybuilding that is MISSING from most of the trainer driven protocols in health clubs today, one that flat out works and is scientifically backed, is intense resistance training.

What is intensity? The easiest way to explain it is to say if you can look around the gym while you are resistance training, you are getting nothing out of what you are doing. 

If it takes all of your focus to accomplish a given movement, you couldn’t look around or speak to save your life, you are in the intensity zone, you are inducing a favorable hormonal response to get the results you want.

To be more specific, the two key factors are
1.    The weight, or amount of resistance.
2.    The tempo or controlled velocity of the movement.

What you see a lot of in gyms these days is everyone doing these strict, slow, kinesiologically correct movements, with light weights, often incorporating core balancing.

There is almost no hormonal response to this kind of training. 

No hormonal response = no results. This kind of training favors lack of injury over results, and consequently, you do this stuff ad-nauseum and never get the results you really want. What you are told is ‘correct’ is another way of saying ‘so you don’t get injured, even at the expense of results’. 

What’s missing is adequate weight and tempo.

You don’t have to think hard on this to realize why. As the weight goes up, and the tempo of the movement goes up, if there is not adequate control of the range of motion, the risk of injury goes up. Big companies with deep pockets do not want to risk you controlling your range of motion unless it’s with innocuous resistance. So what do you get for your time and money?  I’m not sure, but I do know that I see tons of people doing this stuff that do not get the results they want.  For most people, there is plenty of room for more intensity without increased risk of injury. To put it plainly, the weight is too light. (Quick note on bands vs. free weights: bands strengthen a natural range of motion. Weights drive hormones. Both are vital)

How to get the results you want.
Before I get into this, realize one thing, what I’m doing here is taking the best of what really works, regardless of the discipline. We are going to pull from bodybuilding here. There are a lot of things about bodybuilding that do not work for average people over the long haul. In this case, however, the lesson of tempo and intensity produces dramatic results for average people who are short on time, with little risk of injury, if done correctly.

I had a phase about 10 years ago where I only did what I call ‘weight lowering’. Everything I did was ultra controlled, moderate to heavy weights with a focus only on the decentric, or lowering part of the movement. What I learned after a few years of focusing on this was this sort of training addressed part of the picture, but what was missing was tempo or controlled velocity. You need both. Certain types of muscle fiber respond better to quicker, more explosive movements, others, to slower more controlled movements.

If you look at the people who are best at altering their physique, namely a top bodybuilder, you will see they do both. They do a LOT of training that doesn’t fit what most people are taught is ‘correct’. There is a controlled tempo that is intense, brisk, and looks like cheating to the untrained eye.  It’s not. It’s simply what is most effective at producing physiologic changes.

How to gain intensity without injury:
The hardest thing to understand here is the idea of more resistance or more weight, under control. Even better, more weight or more resistance under control, with a tempo. There are two ways to up your intensity.

1. Increase your resistance but control the downward part of the movement.
DO: Increase your resistance to the point where in order to have control of the range of motion it takes ALL of your focus. You should be breathing hard at the end of a single set and not able to look around during the exercise. What matters is that you do not sacrifice control of the downward part of the movement in order to go heavier.

A principle from bodybuilding that has been incorporated into most gym training routines is that of isolation. This is in part why you see people using such innocuous weights and resistance.

This idea does not apply to most people.

Any bodybuilder will tell you that heavy compound movements are what beginners should do over isolation movements. The reason is the hormonal response from compound movements is greater. As bodybuilders become more advanced, the need to grow every last fiber of a particular muscle requires total isolation of that muscle.

This does not apply to the same degree with people in the real world. Yes, isolation is important, but for regular people who can\'t train 3 hours per day, what matters most is getting the maximum hormonal stimulation in the 30 or 45 minutes they have in their schedule, and you will not get that from trying to isolate every muscle as a competing bodybuilder would.

DON’T: Increase your resistance to the point where you feel stress in the joints or ligaments, or you don’t have control of the downward or decentric part of the movement. To control the descent, at a heavier resistance, is where your intensity really kicks in. Controlled momentum is your friend, uncontrolled momentum gets you hurt.  Ideally, you want to be able to control your descents, and do this at varying tempo’s. At first, stick to slower controlled movements. Over time, you will gain a sense of what your safe limits are in terms of increasing tempo.

2. Go to failure:
DO: Practice going to failure within 15 to 20 reps. Going to failure means you have to really start breathing hard to get the last 3 reps out. If you start losing control of momentum, you are using too much weight.

DON’T: Go to failure on your first 1 or 2 sets. You need to get warmed up first.

Let me give you an example of what this looks like in practice.

A few years ago, my wife was leg pressing with 25 pounds on each side. She was doing what a lot of people do, a nice correct movement that allowed her to look around the gym.  I said, ‘Honey, you are not getting anything out of this. Let me help.’ I slapped a 45-pound plate on each side. She did what most people do. She thought it was too much weight and she couldn’t do it. I assured her it wasn’t and that I would pull the weight up if it were too much.  She upped her focus, and did it no problem. Then I upped it to two 45 pound plates on each side.  She again thought it was way too much. I again assured here I would pull the weight up if it were.  She upped her intensity and focus and did 8 reps no problem.  She was so shocked at being able to do this, she asked me to put on another 45 plate on each side. Now I got concerned.  She wound up doing 5 reps at 315. I backed her down to 2 plates on each side. That was a weight that required her intensity and focus, but was well within the realm of being safe for her to handle at a tempo. She went from doing her sets with a 10 and 25 pound plate to a 45 and 2 45’s on each side.  She went from being able to look around the gym to having to give all her focus and intensity, and breathing hard at the end of it all. The point I’m making here is she was way under the level she was capable of, and well under the level of resistance needed to get the results she wanted.  The best way to say this is she took it out of first gear to 4th, but still was safely under her redline. 

That’s our goal with you.  We need to up your intensity to the point where all you can focus on is getting to the end of your set, but we don’t want to go so heavy that you don’t have control or you stress your joints.

Experiment with more resistance. You are capable of much, much more than you think if you ratchet up your intensity. Start slow, but don’t be afraid to surprise yourself. We still want to mitigate the risk of injury; we just want the results to be there for time you spend.

*Kraemer, Ratmess – Hormonal Responses and Adaptions to Resistance Exercise Training., Journal of Sports Medecine

Kraemer, Hakkin, Newton,  Effects of Heavy Resistance Training on Hormonal Response Patterns , Ball State University