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The New Science of Exercise
April 18, 2010 8:25 PM   Subscribe

One thing is going to become clear in the coming years, Braun says: if you want to lose weight, you don’t necessarily have to go for a long run. “Just get rid of your chair.” "...Exercise does have an important role in weight loss. That role, however, is different from what many people expect and probably wish." And quite nuanced too. Turns out it's different for men and women and it matters what kind of exercise you do.

This article by Gretchen Reynolds of the NYT is one of a recent series of articles about the frontiers of exercise and fitness research. Other interesting insights:

How Exercising Keeps Your Cells Young.

Why Exercise reduces Anxiety and slashes cancer risk. Except the exercise involved requires more than just getting rid of your chair.

Why flexibility is overrated and so is the cooldown.

**But best of all: Can you get fit in six minutes a week? Yes, you can.
posted by storybored (121 comments total) 157 users marked this as a favorite

 
I never even heard anyone with an explanation of what the cooldown was supposed to do, so I never did it. Just like how I never tap the table with my glass before taking a shot.
posted by cmoj at 8:41 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Previously.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:42 PM on April 18, 2010


That "six minutes a week" link is about Tabata intervals, aka the Tabata Protocol. I tried that for a couple of weeks this winter when I had my bike on an indoor trainer, but found that it was really tough to push my heart into the target zone without choosing gears that threatened to blow my knees out. I think I'll try this again for hills training, though, and see what it does for my endurance.
posted by maudlin at 9:08 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great post! On a similar subject, I really recommend the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.

It seems exercise grows new brain cells and the brain rewires itself through movement. It's not actually a case of we get X many brain cells at birth and it's all downhill from there. Fascinating stuff.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:08 PM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh for god's sake I give up, where do i sign up to be a floating head? Seriously, sick. of. it. Take it off, I'll do that monkey brain typing thing. just get me off the merry-go-round. Towel thrown in.
posted by The Whelk at 9:13 PM on April 18, 2010 [21 favorites]


Exercise also makes you smarter. Mechanism unknown last I checked.
posted by grobstein at 9:17 PM on April 18, 2010


That "six minutes a week" link is about Tabata intervals, aka the Tabata Protocol.

Tabata Protocol! Dr. Tabata's evil plans make a monkey STRONG! Was out kettlebelling in the park yesterday with Lexica.

Those six minutes, if they’re to be effective, must hurt. “We describe it as an ‘all-out’ effort,” Gibala says. You’ll be straying “well out of your comfort zone.”

If you're heart doesn't feel like it's about to explode... you're not doing it hard enough!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:20 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I knew interval training was important, but that last link is blowing my mind. I can't believe doing just intervals three times a week resulted in the same same endurance as riding a bike for hours.

Looks like I'll be upping my interval training from occasionally to at least once a week.
posted by mathowie at 9:22 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll vouch for the interval training, but the peak has to be at a point where you nearly want to puke. If you enjoy a nice jog or bike ride I think that might actually be preferable, sort of the way a decent meal would be nicer than astronaut meal in a pill.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:36 PM on April 18, 2010


Hey, I just did a Tabata class; you really feel like you're working.

The format is 20sec on, 10sec do nothing, rinse & repeat 8 times per exercise.

Today's fun was 8x each of pushups, ab cycling, squats into upright rows, shoulder presses, lunges with dumbell flys, and high knee lift sprinting on the spot. 45 minutes all up, including warmup & stretching. Challenging without quite tipping into outright pain.

on preview: i_am_joe's_spleen - capoeira training probably works quite similarly to interval training, without consciously intending to do so.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:42 PM on April 18, 2010


"8x each" = 8 sets of 20 sec, not 8 reps
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:43 PM on April 18, 2010


You can do this at home doing combinations of burpees, jumping jacks, and pushups. Those also can be integrated into a progressive calisthenics regime.

/hates gyms and obnoxiously expensive cardio equipment
posted by Burhanistan at 10:00 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've often thought that, UbuRoivas. Same probably goes for other martial arts -- typical class involves short bursts of all-out effort in sparring with conditioning work at a lower level. Although I've got to say I personally have never experienced weight loss from exercise alone, even though these days I get my share. I've always had to tweak what I eat as well.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:06 PM on April 18, 2010


I think these kinds of articles just reinforce what people want to believe; namely that there is some magic easy way to get into awesome shape. There isn't. Intervals may do wonders for your heart but they are not strenghtening the ligaments and bones you need for high performance or giving you the slow twitch muscles or the balance and strength. If you want to lose weight via exercise you need to get a shitload of exercise. No way around it but it does work. I lost probably 10 pounds when I spent a month working 8-10 hours a day helping rebuild a barn recently and that doesn't count the muscle gained. And I wasn't overweight yo begin with.
posted by fshgrl at 10:21 PM on April 18, 2010


So, is there anything one can do with only about 6'x6' of available space (tiny flat), no exercising equipment (tiny flat) and without making too much noise (tiny flat)?
posted by Fruny at 10:25 PM on April 18, 2010


We should just make a giant compactor, like in Star Wars.

"One thing's for sure, we're all gonna be a lot thinner!"
posted by hellojed at 10:34 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, is there anything one can do with only about 6'x6' of available space (tiny flat), no exercising equipment (tiny flat) and without making too much noise (tiny flat)?

Convict Conditioning. I'm pretty confident what works in a prison cell will work in your apartment.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:43 PM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fruny: Shovelglove. Alternatively, any sort of bodyweight exercise routine. Finally -- you are allowed to leave your flat to exercise, you know ;)

Oh yeah.. finally finally, you could get a rowing erg (but if you do, get a decent one, like a Concept2). These are actually ideal for the interval training already spoken about -- you can go totally nutso hard without leaving the room. Got into fabbo shape using one of these (get one with a built-in heartrate monitor, lets you get your gadget on when exercising!).
posted by coriolisdave at 10:43 PM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Intervals aren't necessarily Tabata intervals. As mentioned, Tabata involves 20sec/10sec of effort and rest. The article dicusses intervals of 20-30 seconds of effort and 4 minutes of rest. I've seen interesting studies on 10ish minute intervals really helping with cycling time-trial performance, so there is plenty of variety under that one term.

I also love how they say "6 minutes" but kind of gloss over that it's 30 seconds of effort followed by 4 minutes for 4-6 repititions. I can guarantee that if you're doing it right the whole 30 minutes is going to feel like exercise.
posted by markr at 10:47 PM on April 18, 2010


Convict Conditioning is pretty great, actually. In the two months that I've been doing the exercises I've made some very definite strength and flexibility gains. However, it's not a weight loss regimen and the author says so in many areas. In the section on pullups, he even goes as far as to say that many people won't be able to progress to full pullups until they lose their abdominal fat, and just leaves it at that.

Still, though, if you hate gyms and want to develop strength (without going for the pumped up look--just solid strength), then it seems like a great program. The only equipment you'll need is a chinup bar (I picked up an Iron Gym on sale).

Otherwise, in a 6x6 area you can do burpees, squats, jumping jacks, pushups, etc all in a fast pace to get a cardio workout. Exhaustive cardio exercise and sensible diet is the about only way you'll lose weight aside from starvation, surgery or illness.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:06 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I never even heard anyone with an explanation of what the cooldown was supposed to do

So, warmups are to reset your muscle spindles and your nervous system for more activity to prevent muscle tears from your own Golgi-tendon reflexes acting as "brakes" on your muscles.

Cool down is usually not as crucial unless you happen to have previous injuries or loose joints that require your muscles to actively stabilize areas to prevent re-injury- in that case, you want to do cool-down to help reset those spindles.

Ankles, knees and shoulder injuries are the common ones you'll want to consider cool-down with. (less common, like spine and hip, well, yeah, definitely).
posted by yeloson at 11:24 PM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seems to me like the extreme intervals will really punish your joints and tendons, so it's only suitable for people with a base level of fitness.
posted by Harald74 at 11:45 PM on April 18, 2010


I hadn't really thought about those stretches of time when you work out 4 times a week without a ton of progress...even eating too big of portions of food that is generally good for you (ie fruits) can keep you at a stalemate. There is an awesome free app called Daily Burn (http://dailyburn.com/) you can use to track your calories and even scan UPC labels to keep track of nutritional data of what you eat throughout the day and to chart your progress.

I also tried out the paleo diet which was pretty tough to stick with but I have never seen a bigger transformation in three months, and it makes logical sense (lean meats, veggies, some fruit and nuts/seeds, no processed foods or dairy). that worked well until my three month goal was up and I treated myself to pizza and remembered the joy i was missing out on.
posted by jaybol at 1:08 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I guess the current trend is to say "lose your big fat ass by doing almost nothing"...and people eat it up like doritos.

Good job new york times...now you're as credible as guthy renker.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:40 AM on April 19, 2010


The real key to losing weight, eating right, getting fit, getting laid, getting a promotion, getting a raise, being happy, having whiter teeth and fresher breath, and many other things is to have a coach.

Some people have an excellent internal coach that makes them keep going. They will succeed using just about any sane plan (for dieting, exercise, etc.). Other people just don't have that internal coach. If someone else doesn't push them along, they will fail (or just slog along, not really failing or succeeding) even when they have all the resources for success right in front of them.

So, yes, get out of your chair, move around, and eat no more than than you need. That's obviously right. But for many people, the urge to lie about and munch junk and watch reruns outweighs their internal coach every time. They need someone else to ride herd on their unhealthy impulses.
posted by pracowity at 1:56 AM on April 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Pracowity speaks a lot of truth, but fails to mention that internal coaches can be inconsistent; I've found my own internal coach runs seriously hot and cold. Unfortunately, the downhill slope from fitness to not-healthy is an easy one to begin down, and one which erodes the internal coach wiu every step. Work hard, and then work just as hard to maintain wherever you get to. It's a lot easier in the long run than cyclical fitness.
posted by coriolisdave at 2:19 AM on April 19, 2010


Intervals may do wonders for your heart but they are not strenghtening the ligaments and bones you need for high performance or giving you the slow twitch muscles or the balance and strength.

I'm not looking for "high performance" and my balance and strength are fine. But with some heart problems in the family, I am a little concerned about my heart. Also, there's no way I'm spending 1, let alone 8-10, hours a day exercising.
posted by DU at 2:33 AM on April 19, 2010


I thought cooldown was supposed to pump the partial metabolic product lactic acid from your muscles to prevent muscle pain. But I heard that in like junior high, so scientists have probably disproved and reproved that 3 dozen times since then.
posted by DU at 2:35 AM on April 19, 2010


"Just get rid of your chair."

Oh, so that's the "one simple old rule" the internet keeps telling me I have to OBEY. I was wondering.
posted by ZsigE at 3:15 AM on April 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm supposed to watch out for phrases like: "A growing number of scientists..."
posted by Trochanter at 3:20 AM on April 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


The real answer is that if you gain weight gradually so that it sneaks into homeostasis it will probably be almost impossible for you to lose it or reliably keep it off with any degree of effort one can reasonably expect a person to undertake. This answer is highly unsatisfying for people because:

1) Outliers who lost weight don't like being told their hard word is basically a statistical fluke with genetic and upbringing-related factors, and that if it were not for that they could have the same personality and still be fat.

2) People who don't gain easily often don't like the implication that they are not really doing anything better or smarter by comparison. They -- you -- are not better people. You're just lucky, unless the main reason you're not fat is because you lived in the developing world or had an eating disorder that left you thin.

3) There are economic and political motives at work that make it an advantage to claim that fat people could somehow stop being fat if they made a reasonable effort. If we admitted that most people can't lose weight easily, we'd have to treat it as something that requires therapeutic intervention. That isn't cheap.

4) And fat people want to believe if they were just better people and more disciplined, they could just lose weight.

The truth is probably that the physical and psychological stress involved in switching to new negative energy balance for a long period of time is probably so severe as to be impractical -- something like being asked to physically saw off some of your flesh regularly. That bad.

The alternative is to claim that being fat isn't really that bad, but nah, it's pretty rough on every physical system, from your joints to your heart. Unfortunately, there is no cosmic balance where you can either not get fat or ignore that being fat is bad. If you are fat you probably cannot stop being fat without the help of expert regular supervision or even some form of radical intervention like surgery or temporary institutionalization. If you cannot get these things you will probably get fatter, then die from a condition aggravated by being fat.

The universe doesn't owe us nice answers.

The obvious solution is to socialize intensive therapeutic regimens. That means the state would pay for temporary institutionalization a place that completely controlled patients' intake and most of their exercise, and combined it with behaviour therapy, drugs and surgery where appropriate. That's the fix, but we're too cheap, falsely hopeful and mean-spirited to do it. Sorry!
posted by mobunited at 4:03 AM on April 19, 2010 [37 favorites]


mobunited, that's the most insightful thing I've read about weight, possibly ever. It pulls together lots of viewpoints and makes lots of sense. Thanks.
posted by alasdair at 5:16 AM on April 19, 2010


[few comments removed - please act like you like this place.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:46 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The obvious solution is to socialize intensive therapeutic regimens. That means the state would pay for temporary institutionalization a place that completely controlled patients' intake and most of their exercise, and combined it with behaviour therapy, drugs and surgery where appropriate. That's the fix, but we're too cheap, falsely hopeful and mean-spirited to do it. Sorry!

No, the obvious answer is that you have to prevent people from becoming fat in the first place, which means a cultural appreciation for healthy food, cities designed to encourage walking as a primary mode of transportation, etc. So long as regular exercise and healthy eating are seen as "fixes" to a "problem" rather than just a natural way of being, the US and other countries with high obesity rates will not change.

There is something profoundly 'unhuman' about eating doritos all day and driving from one location to another, and once you're in that lifestyle for a number of years with the attendant consequences to your health, you are right mobunited, it is very difficult to lose the fat you have gained. At the risk of mixing metaphors, the maxim that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is absolutely true.
posted by modernnomad at 6:07 AM on April 19, 2010 [18 favorites]


Gosh, here I was trying my best to lose weight so I'd feel better and be healthier, but mobunited says that all my hard work is useless and I'll never lose any weight and keep it off. Guess I might as well give up!
posted by Ian A.T. at 6:24 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I look at the times in my life when I have lost weight, it's when I was exercising. When I look at the times in my life when I gained weight it was when I wasn't exercising. It's totally the opposite of what all these articles say.
posted by Melsky at 6:38 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find this discussion a little odd, as I usually do with fitness discussions, mostly for all the talk of "weight loss." It's as though we all walk around with our scale weights written on our foreheads or something. I am again reminded of this internet comment from a guy named Gary Gibson:
"Losing weight" is nonsense. It's bad thinking that leads to frustration among industrial era humanity.

"Our bodies are not normal in the absence of exercise", but we've eliminated the need for most people to have to exert themselves at all for anything. The most walking the average American is required to do is a short jaunt across a parking lot a couple times each day. Nothing heavy ever need be lifted and a sweat need never be broken. With lifestyles like that, of course people end up skinny fat. These unmuscled flabby people then think in terms of "losing weight" when what they should be thinking is "getting stronger." When getting sweaty on the elliptical fails them, they become easy targets for muddled thinking... All weight gain becomes bad because they understand all weight gain as fat gain. They don't think in terms of gaining 40 lbs of muscle. "40 lbs heavier?! Why would I want to do THAT?!?"

Industrial era people just don't think in terms of physical work or strength. They only understand getting bigger as getting fatter, not getting more muscular and stronger. Add to this the past half century of "exercise equals aerobics" and you have the current mess of confused, frustrated people afraid of calories as they sweat it out on their treadmills.
Exhaustive cardio exercise and sensible diet is the about only way you'll lose weight aside from starvation, surgery or illness.

Except that "losing weight" is a non-sensical goal. Fortunately, losing fat can be achieved through other methods than "exhaustive cardio," i.e. strength training. And lest we forget, "skinny" is not the same as "fit." I see weak unfit young people all the time who think that they don't need to do any hard physical work because they're skinny. It's unfortunate.

Seems to me like the extreme intervals will really punish your joints and tendons, so it's only suitable for people with a base level of fitness.

I'm not sure about this -- it seems to me that there would be a lot more impact on joints and connective tissues in a prolonged effort than in a short intense effort.

The real key to losing weight, eating right, getting fit, getting laid, getting a promotion, getting a raise, being happy, having whiter teeth and fresher breath, and many other things is to have a coach.

I think there's something to this for sure, but I think having a program is the most important thing. To me, a program is the difference between "exercise" and "training." A program means continued planned progression in training variables. A program means knowing exactly what you're going to do every time you train, and being able to see measurable and steady progress in speed, weight lifted, distance traveled, or whatever it is you're training. I think it's very silly to talk about time spent in the gym, like some people do. It doesn't matter if you spent 10 minutes or three hours in the gym, it matters what you did there, how hard you worked, and whether you're improving. Continually lifting the same weight, or running the same distance at the same pace, or whatever, isn't going to make you more fit.

The difficulty is that it takes some expertise to understand how to set up and follow a program, and this is not something that gets taught in school. I was thinking the other day about all of the "physical education" classes I took in public school, and how I learned absolutely nothing from them, and how much I've improved my physical education on my own since then. I think treating phys. ed. as a legitimate school subject, in which everyone learned about nutrition and exercise and how to get strong and lift heavy shit, could make a major impact on the health and fitness of society. Fat chance of that happening, though.

But maybe this "flexibility is overrated" thing will catch on so I won't have to hear about yoga so goddamn much.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:08 AM on April 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


The obvious solution is to socialize intensive therapeutic regimens. That means the state would pay for temporary institutionalization a place that completely controlled patients' intake and most of their exercise, and combined it with behaviour therapy, drugs and surgery where appropriate. That's the fix, but we're too cheap, falsely hopeful and mean-spirited to do it. Sorry!

This attitude is just terrifying.

"You're fat. The messages of mindful relationship with food and healthy lifestyle should have been taught just didn't hit home, but frankly nobody around here can bothered to address systemic issues in modern Western culture and diet. You're therefore so utterly broken that only a coordinated team of medical professionals, trainers, and coaches, combining decades of training, with you restrained to a controlled environment, can hope to fix your body, mind and soul enough to rejoin society. And, when you fall off the wagon again due to all those systemic issues we're ignoring, we, the medico-industrial complex, will be here."

"It's all for your own good."
posted by a young man in spats at 7:11 AM on April 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Except that "losing weight" is a non-sensical goal. Fortunately, losing fat can be achieved through other methods than "exhaustive cardio," i.e. strength training.

By "losing weight" I of course meant losing fat, specifically intraabdominal fat. I would disagree that you can get rid of visceral fat by strength training alone. One could do copious amounts of crunches, dips, etc to strengthen core abdominal muscles, but they would still have a deposit of fat over their new toned six pack.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:14 AM on April 19, 2010


3) There are economic and political motives at work that make it an advantage to claim that fat people could somehow stop being fat if they made a reasonable effort. If we admitted that most people can't lose weight easily, we'd have to treat it as something that requires therapeutic intervention. That isn't cheap.

There are economic (not political, AFAICT) motives that would make it an advantage to claim that fat people could somehow stop being fat if they bought this miracle cure, or enrolled in this program, or in some way or another spent money. And indeed, many such miracle cures and programs exist.

I'm no expert on this, but I get the impression that losing the weight isn't as big a problem as keeping lost weight off. Which suggests to me that a bigger problem is overcoming bad habit, a culture of convenience, etc.
posted by adamrice at 7:16 AM on April 19, 2010



"You're fat. The messages of mindful relationship with food and healthy lifestyle should have been taught just didn't hit home, but frankly nobody around here can bothered to address systemic issues in modern Western culture and diet. You're therefore so utterly broken that only a coordinated team of medical professionals, trainers, and coaches, combining decades of training, with you restrained to a controlled environment, can hope to fix your body, mind and soul enough to rejoin society. And, when you fall off the wagon again due to all those systemic issues we're ignoring, we, the medico-industrial complex, will be here."


Ya, these are the things of thoughts I'd have when in the grips of some depression-fueled eating disorder. They are not helpful thoughts.

and I remind myself why I shouldn't read these kinds of threads again
posted by The Whelk at 7:17 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


related:
Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin. (Time, 4/9/09)
(single-page print version)

Upshot: Actively engaging in vigorous exercise without any attempt to moderate eating patterns doesn't generally result in weight loss. (You exercised, you're famished, and so you eat more than you otherwise would have. And you're more tired and thus less active when you're not exercising.) Exercise is good for you in other ways, though.
posted by sentient at 7:19 AM on April 19, 2010


By "losing weight" I of course meant losing fat, specifically intraabdominal fat.

Well, I'm being a little pedantic, but the two aren't interchangeable. An individual can train in such a way that she will maintain or gain (muscular) bodyweight while losing fat, and will emerge better-looking, fitter, and healthier. But since people think only in terms of "weight loss," they tend to not understand this.

I would disagree that you can get rid of visceral fat by strength training alone. One could do copious amounts of crunches, dips, etc to strengthen core abdominal muscles, but they would still have a deposit of fat over their new toned six pack.

This is very emphatically not what I mean by strength training for fat loss. I mean busting your ass lifting heavy shit. Squatting, deadlifting, pressing for sets of 5, etc. Heavy strength training leads to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption and increased lean mass which means a faster metabolism. Of course strength training also needs to be paired with an appropriate diet.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:25 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought cooldown was supposed to pump the partial metabolic product lactic acid from your muscles to prevent muscle pain. But I heard that in like junior high, so scientists have probably disproved and reproved that 3 dozen times since then.

Indeed, it seems that lactic acid isn't a caustic waste product, it's muscle fuel.

Science marches on!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:28 AM on April 19, 2010


One of the few things I miss from living in the New York metro area was how much walking I did and the weight and general health gains I got from that lifestyle. I didn't "exercise" per se; I walked around to go places, and I lost weight because I was more active.

The fast/cheap-not-inexpensive/processed food industrial diet we eat is an issue in weight and health, but car culture is a real problem too. If more of us walked and used public transport, we wouldn't need to pursue exercise as a form of work during our leisure time. This is not pointing fingers at the people who made the decisions that framed our car society; they did what they thought was best and what people wanted. But one of the now-evident unintended consequences of that series of decisions is that people don't walk, don't get exercise, and do get unhealthy.
posted by immlass at 7:37 AM on April 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Everyone that mentions their persona exercise regimen and its effects on their weight in this thread needs to preface it with their age. Unless that doesn't make any difference.
posted by mecran01 at 8:18 AM on April 19, 2010


I thought cooldown was supposed to pump the partial metabolic product lactic acid from your muscles to prevent muscle pain.

If you want to remove soreness, soak in cold, cold water for 10-15 minutes, then warm/hot water afterwards. The cold flushes with vascular contraction, the heat brings in the blood to get muscle repair started.
posted by yeloson at 8:23 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everyone that mentions their persona exercise regimen and its effects on their weight in this thread needs to preface it with their age. Unless that doesn't make any difference.

I'm not sure that age does make a difference, other than the fact that older people have had more time to be sedentary or accumulate injuries, so they're starting from a more difficult position on average.

Here's a blog post about metabolism and age. This is the key bit:
regardless of age, the daily energy requirements (calories burned) per pound of fat-free mass was the same. So a 20 year old and a 65 year old will burn roughly the same amount of calories if they are of the same height, weight, and body fat percentage.

As adults become less physically active, their muscles shrink due to not being used. The combination of less fat free mass and less activity leads to inevitable weight gain (unless they reduce their calorie intake over time). The only reason why older people on average tend to burn less calories than younger people of the same weight…is that the older people have less lean body mass.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:31 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I work in an obesity lab. I study energy balance in a rodent model of obesity. The main focus of our lab is the concept that what you do outside of volitional exercise is more important in long-term weight maintenance than what you do in the gym. (A recent book from a collaborator at the Mayo Clinic lays this entire concept out for you if you wish to learn more. Said collaborator is the inventor of the "treadmill desk". He uses it daily and is thin as a rail.)

It's a simple equation: Energy in - energy out = energy converted to body mass. If you eat more than you burn, you gain weight. Eat less than you burn, you lose weight. You can bust your ass at the gym or running or biking or what have you, but the sad truth is that you can put energy back in faster than you can take it out.

Case in point: I went for a 30+ mile bike ride yesterday. I burned off around 1800 kCal according to my Garmin. I went out for a beer, burger and fries after the ride. The calories that I burned off over 2.5 hours were put back into my system in about 15-20 minutes.

You spend a lot more time NOT at the gym than you spend working out. Because of this, simple things you can do every day, without much effort, can cumulatively have a much greater effect on your long-term well-being than working out furiously. Standing, for example, doubles your energy expenditure vs. sitting. Chewing gum adds about a 50% increase in expenditure. Take the stairs. Walk or bike instead of driving. Stand on the train instead of sitting. That sort of thing really adds up over time.

Of course that isn't the entire story, and it isn't exactly as simple as it sounds. To be thin is not to be healthy, not automatically. There's the little matter of cardiovascular health (for which regular periods of sustained aerobic activity are a must!), bone and joint health (weight-bearing exercise!) and of course dietary concerns (even a rat genetically predisposed to be thin will get fat if you place it on a high-fat diet - not as fat as a rat predisposed to obesity, but fat nonetheless).

And remember that we're fighting millions of years of evolution here, millions of years in which food was scarce and risky to obtain, and fat and sugar even more so (and thus even more cherished when encountered), a genetic history in which being bad at converting energy into body mass or ignoring readily available high-caloric foods was a ticket to an early death. We've taken that gene pool and placed it into a society in which calorie-dense foods are the cheapest foods available, and where physical exertion is not required for the majority of the work we do. We didn't evolve with computers, escalators, electric scooters, cars, remote controls, microwaves, desk chairs, electric heat, gas stoves and big comfy couches there to help us ease our way through the day. Our society changed much, much faster than our genes can cope with. The obesity epidemic is not going to be easily solved (and it is indeed an epidemic - 34% of the US adult population is obese, and remember that does NOT include the number of people who are overweight!).

But yeah, if you want a simple one-sentence answer to "How do I get thin?" well then, "Get out of your chair" is a pretty good start.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:36 AM on April 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


Oh, so that's the "one simple old rule" the internet keeps telling me I have to OBEY. I was wondering.

No, it is "don't eat anything bigger than your head". This includes your chair, unless your chair is very small.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:38 AM on April 19, 2010


This is a pretty great thread. It's interesting to read so many different views on exercise and weight loss when, as a layman in the subject, it can seem so monolithic at times.

Let me say that I've been doing Shovelglove for about a month now, and it's worked well for me.
posted by codacorolla at 8:52 AM on April 19, 2010


(even a rat genetically predisposed to be thin will get fat if you place it on a high-fat diet - not as fat as a rat predisposed to obesity, but fat nonetheless).

You know, a lot of these studies say things like this. There's more to a high-fat diet than fat. is it also high-carbohydrate and low protein? "High-fat" means nothing without the breakdown of the other macronutrients. It's lazy writing and lazy science.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:55 AM on April 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, it is "don't eat anything bigger than your head". This includes your chair, unless your chair is very small.

tough rule for small cannibals
posted by grobstein at 9:47 AM on April 19, 2010


The Convict Conditioning program sounds appealing to me in spite of its palpable "Real Ultimate Power" vibe. I'm not sure I'll ever want to do a one-handed hand-stand push-up, but who knows, maybe someday my life will depend on it!
Anyone else had any experience with this program?
posted by bstreep at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2010


regardless of age, the daily energy requirements (calories burned) per pound of fat-free mass was the same. So a 20 year old and a 65 year old will burn roughly the same amount of calories if they are of the same height, weight, and body fat percentage.

That's really interesting. I would have thought the diminishing testosterone levels that come with advancing age would play a large role for men. I'm still in good shape at 34, but I was both leaner and thirty pounds heavier when I was 24. Part of that is not having the time to spend hours a day doing multiple swimming and lifting sessions, but I also don't have the mental drive to bust my ass as hard as I used to.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 10:10 AM on April 19, 2010


Convict Conditioning. I'm pretty confident what works in a prison cell will work in your apartment.

Burpees, jumping jacks -- aren't your downstairs neighbors going to hate this?
posted by grobstein at 10:20 AM on April 19, 2010


MetaFilter: The universe doesn't owe us nice answers.
posted by aldus_manutius at 11:15 AM on April 19, 2010


BTW, I did take this post seriously(and some of the comments are worthy, too) especially as I am one of those people fighting too many years of neglect after having actually worked hard to have reached a decent level of fitness.

There have been several comments that alluded to one of the key elements in the concept of "fitness": what is the goal of all of this? "Fitness" may be a goal, but one has to look at it in terms of healthy habits to maintain that level or risk losing it.

Training for "high performance" is an all-together different matter: the likelihood that in my Old Faerthood I will be riding the Tour de France is close to nil, but I can still train for things like the MS 150 that requires a certain level of fitness, but is not a "high performance" situation.

So, thanks for the post!
posted by aldus_manutius at 11:20 AM on April 19, 2010


The problem I see whenever this subject comes up has to do with fitness industry. For the past forty years is that it is an industry and has been considered as such. There's always a selling point or sound bites (heh) that are easy for wide audiences to take in. "Hey! I'm selling something over here!"
It would take longer to have to parse out all of the facts that were glossed over just so they could ramrod their favorite point into someone's consciousness. Flexibility is NOT overated. Stretching at the wrong times? Yep. Over-stretching? Sure. Loosening and warming your muscles for activity? No, not by a longshot. Like any fitness activity, the problem is trying to find the best way to do it.

All training leads to EPOC, not just "lifting heavy shit for fives", and without an appropriate diet it doesn't matter.

I would have thought the diminishing testosterone levels that come with advancing age would play a large role for men.

Actually you're quite a bit closer to the idea of why aging affects our activities than just "not working out" or "accumulation of injuries".

Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin. (Time, 4/9/09)

AAAARRRRGGHH!
posted by P.o.B. at 11:32 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


There have been several comments that alluded to one of the key elements in the concept of "fitness": what is the goal of all of this? "Fitness" may be a goal, but one has to look at it in terms of healthy habits to maintain that level or risk losing it.

Exactly. That is one smart comment.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:36 AM on April 19, 2010


Case in point: I went for a 30+ mile bike ride yesterday. I burned off around 1800 kCal according to my Garmin. I went out for a beer, burger and fries after the ride. The calories that I burned off over 2.5 hours were put back into my system in about 15-20 minutes.

What I find fascinating about the article is the suggestion that non-strenuous activity such as standing, seems qualitatively different from strenuous exercise at least for women. So if a woman were to burn 1800kCal on a bike ride, she is more likely to feel hungry than if she burnt the same amount of calories just standing.

This would have huge ramifications on the weight-loss industry. If people can burn calories in this non-homeostatic way just by getting rid of their chairs, why bother spending hundreds of dollars on gym memberships? (Assuming that weight-loss and not fitness is the primary motivation).
posted by storybored at 12:12 PM on April 19, 2010


Burpees, jumping jacks -- aren't your downstairs neighbors going to hate this?

This is where getting brutally strong comes in handy... ;-)
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:56 PM on April 19, 2010


The obvious solution is to socialize intensive therapeutic regimens. That means the state would pay for temporary institutionalization a place that completely controlled patients' intake and most of their exercise, and combined it with behaviour therapy, drugs and surgery where appropriate. That's the fix, but we're too cheap, falsely hopeful and mean-spirited to do it. Sorry!

Heh, check out The Biggest Loser. That is exactly what goes on there, and in a controlled environment, everyone loses weight, tones up, all good stuff. Then they go back to their lives....fat again.

I've been overweight my entire life. I recently had some metabolic testing done and I'm burning calories at 82% efficiency. No WONDER!

I'm trying to address this issue through diet and exercise, although I've been dieting and exercising my whole life and all it gets me is the Yo-Yo experience and a really cynical relationship with food.

All you can do is your best. Buy and eat lean meat, fruits and veggies and do whatever science tells you to do this week.

For me, I just try to live fully and completely. Weight loss isn't going to fix anything in my life. I do hope that I can be healthy and mobile through a long life. Beyond that, I guess I can live with buying clothes in the Fat Ladies department.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:11 PM on April 19, 2010


This is where getting brutally strong comes in handy... ;-)

Or intimidatingly explosive, or astonishingly agile, or overwhelmingly quick, or stunningly fast, or...just smart enough to go down to the tennis/basketball courts. ;p
posted by P.o.B. at 1:35 PM on April 19, 2010


It's a simple equation: Energy in - energy out = energy converted to body mass. If you eat more than you burn, you gain weight. Eat less than you burn, you lose weight.

Well, I don't think it's clear that it is such a simple equation. I haven't done all the reading and don't have a strong opinion on this issue, but there are those (Gary Taubes being a prominent example) who argue that besides the net energy balance, the makeup of the diet has an impact on weight gain. I don't necessarily agree with Taubes, but I think anyone making a statement like this ought to address the argument.

even a rat genetically predisposed to be thin will get fat if you place it on a high-fat diet

But this statement seems to contradict the one above. You can't say that all that matters is caloric expenditure but then say high-fat diets make you fat.

I would have thought the diminishing testosterone levels that come with advancing age would play a large role for men.

Older trainees do have less recovery capacity than younger ones, and their programming has to take this into account. So an older strength trainee generally can't progress as quickly as a younger one for this reason. However, the bottom line is still the same -- more muscle mass means increased energy expenditure, and when it comes to muscle mass you have to use it or lose it. Here's a bit from Practical Programming for Strength Training by Rippetoe and Kilgore on training older populations:
Even in the 60- to 90-year-old range, training reduces the loss of muscle mass to less than 5% per decade. Several studies have shown that 80-year-olds who were inactive but began training with weights actually gained muscle mass and improved their strength, proprioception, and balance. This effect was directly related to the amount of leg work included in the program and the resulting improvements in leg strength. Leg strength was also responsible for improving the ability to walk faster in older people. In one study, twelve weeks of strength training was shown to increase walking endurance by 38%, something walking by itself fails to do.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:39 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


mobunited, that's the most insightful thing I've read about weight, possibly ever. It pulls together lots of viewpoints, however, it makes no sense.


People can, and do, lose weight, based on changes they make to their lifestyle.

1) Outliers who lost weight don't like being told their hard word is basically a statistical fluke with genetic and upbringing-related factors, and that if it were not for that they could have the same personality and still be fat.

Yes, those of us who have lost weight are outliers. But only because more people simply give up. There's nothing magic about losing weight. You just have to commit yourself to it.

2) People who don't gain easily often don't like the implication that they are not really doing anything better or smarter by comparison. They -- you -- are not better people. You're just lucky, unless the main reason you're not fat is because you lived in the developing world or had an eating disorder that left you thin.

I have neither. I just had enough sense to say, "ENOUGH!"

3) There are economic and political motives at work that make it an advantage to claim that fat people could somehow stop being fat if they made a reasonable effort. If we admitted that most people can't lose weight easily, we'd have to treat it as something that requires therapeutic intervention. That isn't cheap.

Yes, a person can, somehow, stop being fat. I made that reasonable effort. It is not some superhuman feat. It is.... reasonable.

4) And fat people want to believe if they were just better people and more disciplined, they could just lose weight.

It's got nothing to do with being better people. It's (a) not accepting being heavy if you don't want to be, and (b) using the tools that are out there in the form of diets and exercise programs. If a program doesn't work for you, try something else. Eventually somehting will work.
posted by Doohickie at 1:47 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, a person can, somehow, stop being fat. I made that reasonable effort.

I believe that it's possible to have an impact on your own weight by making a strong effort.

I also believe that what mobunited says is true about most people having an extremely hard time losing weight and the larger sociopolitical incentives to deny that fact.

I don't think the two contradict each other.

Eventually somehting will work.

Not necessarily. Not for everybody.
posted by blucevalo at 2:02 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The real problem with the rash of these NYT articles is that they gloss over the fact that effective exercise is HARD.

HIIT/Tabata training is difficult. They general rule of thumb is that if you're not on the verge of quitting/vomiting every second, then you're not doing it right.

Also, real weight training is hard. There's no chatting, or gossiping in the gym. You will be out of breath and sweaty the whole time. You will actually be scared of the next set of squats. The basic fact is that most people in modern society don't have enough muscles because we've turned ourselves into veal. If you build the muscle, everything will take care of itself. Weight loss is not the goal, lowering you body fat % is the real goal.

It's taken me about 3 years of slow steady exercise, heavy weight training, and interval training and I finally look decent with my shirt off. Now I can eat more or less what I want to because my caloric expenditure is high enough through EPOC, calories burned in the gym, just having big giant quads and hams.

The information is out there. It will take a few months to sift through before you really start to understand anything. Bodybuilders understand most of this stuff waaay before it gets printed in the NYT. They might be meatheads, but they understand how the body works.

If you're not doing high weight, low rep sets of the main exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, and pull ups, then you're not really weight training. Sorry. I'm not saying that to be macho, I'm saying that because it took me years to figure it out.

If you put in the time, you will lose the fat and look better. There's nothing magical about it, only hard work.
posted by Telf at 2:24 PM on April 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


Amen.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:33 PM on April 19, 2010


"There's more to a high-fat diet than fat. is it also high-carbohydrate and low protein? 'High-fat' means nothing without the breakdown of the other macronutrients. It's lazy writing and lazy science."

Yes, thank you Optimus Chyme for telling me, my colleagues, and everyone else in the obesity field that we are lazy researchers. It's much appreciated and is exactly why when publishing studies we always take pains to omit any and all information on what we feed our animals. We usually just say we gave them "food" and the reviewers are just fine with that. We are never required to indicate what food, or where we bought it, or who made it. Because we're lazy. The little sound-bites you see in the press? That's EXACTLY how we present the data when publishing it. And when we explain things to the press, and give them specific details, and they in turn write "high-fat" because we said the diet was 45% or 60% kcal from fat? Yep, we specifically told them to only write that part and ignore the rest.

If you're going to throw out dickish comments about "lazy science" make sure you are talking about the science itself and not the colloquial ways in which we discuss science with people outside of our fields. If you really want to see what we feed our rats, here. Have fun. Research Diets publishes the exact formula for everything they sell. It's an "open source" diet. You can take down the info and make it at home if you want. I'd say that the link probably saves you the effort of going to PubMed and finding the primary literature and reading through the methods to check food information, but I am sure you've already done that. Because I'm positive you wouldn't throw out a comment like "So many studies say this" unless you had personally read and/or reviewed a large portion of the literature here. Because you don't do lazy science, do you? Of course not.

ludwig_van: "You can't say that all that matters is caloric expenditure but then say high-fat diets make you fat."

Sure you can. If input > output, you end up gaining weight. The obesity-resistant rats are worse at converting food into body mass (because they have higher energy expenditure) but on a diet where nearly half of the calories are fat, even a rat predisposed to being thin will get fat if allowed to free-feed for long enough. Compared to an obesity-prone rat on the same diet, the obesity-resistant rat will be thinner, but will not be as thin as an obesity-resistant rat maintained on a low-fat diet. There are two reasons for this. First, the high-fat diets we use contain more calories per food pellet than the low-fat diets, because fat is an energetically dense food (more calories in less weight). The standard high-fat pellet has 4.7 kcal/gram, while the low fat pellets are a little over 3.8 kcal/g. That's one extra kcal per gram of food eaten - which is a lot when you consider the average rat eats around 15-20 grams of food a day. If nothing changes, a rat eating the same amount of food (by weight) would be taking in 10 to 15 kcal more than a rat on a low-fat diet (the average rat needs only about 60 kcal per day to maintain body weight). The second thing to consider is that just like humans, rats eat more when the food tastes good, and we're genetically predisposed to find fatty, calorie-laden foods tasty. Give any rat a choice between a chow pellet or an Oreo, and guess what the rat will choose? These kinds of foods are rarely encountered in nature but are plentiful in modern society. With the rats, intake increases when fatty foods are provided. Again, there are individual differences - both between individual rats and between different rat strains - but overall the general rule holds true.

So, if energy in goes up because of a diet change, energy out has to go up to counter this. Obesity-resistant rats can increase expenditure, but they can't completely compensate for the effects of diet over time. They're better at it than the obesity-prone rats, just as some humans are better able to avoid weight gain when eating poor diets, while others on the same diet quickly become obese.

storybored: "What I find fascinating about the article is the suggestion that non-strenuous activity such as standing, seems qualitatively different from strenuous exercise at least for women."

There's that evolution thing again. A lot of the differences between men and women are probably due to the differing role of each in reproduction - women must have some set amount of energy reserves to be reproductively active, and would generally have needed to protect that reserve to provide food for a growing child. It isn't surprising that the response to caloric challenge is different. What is surprising is the sheer number of studies that focus exclusively on male subjects in primary research. Scientists historically don't like including females in studies because hormone cycles affect the response to treatments, which adds a layer of complexity to the study. More and more funding sources are pushing to address this, and are less likely to support a study if females are not considered.

(My wife did the same bike ride with me. She had a burger as well...)
posted by caution live frogs at 2:43 PM on April 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Sure you can. If input > output, you end up gaining weight.

Here is the point I am trying to make -- either caloric expenditure is all that matters, and macronutriets breakdown is largely irrelevant, or macronutrient breakdown matters as well as caloric expenditure. Proponents of low-carb diets, for instance, would argue for the latter, saying that carbohydrates spike insulin levels and cause the body to store fat, and so a diet should be composed mostly of protein and fat. Some of their critics argue that if low-carb dieters lose weight it's not because they avoid carbohydrates, but because by doing so they've reduced calories. So my question is, are you saying that increased caloric intake is responsible for weight gain, or dietary fat specifically is responsible?

I don't have personal experience with low-carb diets, and I'm not much invested in them, but it's my understanding that many folks have had a lot of success with fat loss and/or lean mass gain on low-carb/high-fat/high protein diets.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:00 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're going to throw out dickish comments about "lazy science" make sure you are talking about the science itself and not the colloquial ways in which we discuss science with people outside of our fields. If you really want to see what we feed our rats, here. Have fun.

Thank you, I did have fun. Most of the foods have carbohydrate percentages in the 60s and 70s. The food with the lowest ratio of carbohydrates, by kcal%, is Product D12492, with a composition of 20p/20c/60f. That may be a low-carbohydrate diet if you compare it to typical American diets, but it's not low enough to make the conclusion that a high-fat diet, irrespective of the other nutrients, will make you fat.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:23 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, thank you Optimus Chyme for telling me, my colleagues, and everyone else in the obesity field that we are lazy researchers. It's much appreciated and is exactly why when publishing studies we always take pains to omit any and all information on what we feed our animals. We usually just say we gave them "food" and the reviewers are just fine with that.

"Methodology: We just gave them food. Hamburgers."
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:24 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


(My wife did the same bike ride with me. She had a burger as well...)

So caution live frogs was she hungrier than you were? :) ... if she is smaller than you and had the same size burger that would suggest that the findings in the article are correct...

Streaming through much of the science and advice about exercise and weight loss is a certain Puritan streak, a sense that exercise, to be effective in keeping you slim, must be of almost medicinal dosage — an hour a day, every day; plenty of brisk walking; frequent long runs on the treadmill. But the very latest science about exercise and weight loss has a gentler tone and a more achievable goal. “Emerging evidence suggests that unlike bouts of moderate-vigorous activity, low-intensity ambulation, standing, etc., may contribute to daily energy expenditure without triggering the caloric compensation effect,” Braun wrote in the American College of Sports Medicine newsletter.

Ok, so I'm curious, does anyone know how many calories you would typically expend standing rather than sitting.

I know I spend about 5 hours a day sitting, typing, surfing, watching the tube, etc. So what if i spent that time on my feet instead, what's the caloric burn?
posted by storybored at 5:00 PM on April 19, 2010


Some responses to my post pretty much reproduce the point of my post.

1) For those of who that are horrified that I dare to medicalize fatness, I submit that mounds of uncomfortable adipose tissue are not a state of mind. I bet the same people would never say this crap about drug addiction. I also don't care about American anxieties about state-run medicine. It's stupid, so get over it. Professionally run fat camps would be super cool. Shit, when you read about a celeb basically hiring the same services it's all about *their* "diet secrets," isn't it? Funny how it's only a stigma when the unwashed masses get access to similar privileges.

2) Enough about our sick Western values. When people in any part of the world get access to high calorie food, they eat it and get fat, because more calories is fucking awesome, and every mammal agrees. Even the heroes of projected Western austerity praise, the Okinawans, are busy chugging burgers. This is not solely because we are brainwashing them. It's because meat is tasty. In the West, I see fatties across the political spectrum, listening to Rush and selling Socialist Worker. Obviously, since we now have a sample size of almost everybody everywhere cheap high calorie food is available, moral condemnation is getting a bit silly, isn't it?

The values that are problematic involve stuffing food full of unnecessary crap to drive profits, but even this largely works because are bodies are tuned to love sweet stuff, calories-packed stuff -- mostly bad stuff in the quantities that are readily available.

3) If you were fat and got thin because of hard work and self-discipline, great! Most people who are fat have just as much self-discipline as you. Most of them work as hard. But they react to calorie restriction, cravings and exercise stress differently. They are not you without your willpower. They are you without your luck. Deal with it. You are probably not special in any way you can take special credit for. If that offends you, consider the implied insult you're delivering to all the fat folks when you haul out the old line about how *hard* you worked.

Yes, the truth is dismal. As a fat guy who works out all the time, fights off odd cravings and deals with related crap I would like to believe that if I just worked to my Full Potential the pounds would melt off, or if I adopted the peaceful religion of the Thininstanian people or something to remove my Western capitalist brainwashing.

Alternately, I could accept my fat and pretend that it won't lead to all kinds of diseases, but that just isn't true. This is tempting for me, because as someone with a fair degree of functional fitness, it'd be easy to justify the lies by itemizing my accomplishments, but the fat is still bad -- functional fitness doesn't make it good.

The idea that fat people are somehow satisfied with being fat is almost never true -- it's a fantasy inflicted by self-righteous thin people who make sure being fat leads to daily dissatisfaction.

There is no balance whereby the disciplined and virtuous automatically get better bodies than lazy folks or people who abuse their bodies. You do the best you can -- you should -- but without intensive intervention, many people *aren't* going to stop being fat and it's arrogant to blame them for it. Like student loans and your coming mortality, it's just not fair. Life isn't fair.
posted by mobunited at 7:07 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ok, I found the answer to my own question:

Calculate the calories you spend when standing and writing

The amazing thing is that when I plug in my weight and 5 hrs worth of standing, I burn 2031 Kcals.. That beats the 1800 Kcals cited by cautionlivefrogs for his 30 mile bike ride! Whoa, is there something wrong with this calculator....
posted by storybored at 7:52 PM on April 19, 2010


The amazing thing is that when I plug in my weight and 5 hrs worth of standing, I burn 2031 Kcals.. That beats the 1800 Kcals cited by cautionlivefrogs for his 30 mile bike ride! Whoa, is there something wrong with this calculator....

Did you enter your weight in pounds instead of in kilograms? The calculator is probably BS anyway though.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:58 PM on April 19, 2010


If you're not doing high weight, low rep sets of the main exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, and pull ups, then you're not really weight training.

Really? I guess some of the top strength coaches in the field should be talking to you then.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:15 PM on April 19, 2010


Which strength coaches are those?
posted by ludwig_van at 8:20 PM on April 19, 2010


I would engage you in conversation, as you've already dropped a few implicitly incorrect facts so far, but you've proven more than once you are not interested in a two way discussion. An informed person on the subject should be aware of their names.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:36 PM on April 19, 2010


Way to be, sport.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:41 PM on April 19, 2010


Same to ya', champ.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:45 PM on April 19, 2010


I'm humbled by your superior rhetorical skills, PoB. You must have been a real winner on the debate team. I'll be here whenever you feel ready to share the names of the top strength coaches who don't believe in performing the main lifts.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:56 PM on April 19, 2010


De trainingibus non est disputandum.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:01 PM on April 19, 2010


I was just doing calisthenics instead.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:03 PM on April 19, 2010


I'm like Carnac the Magnificent. Anybody else need some future foretold?

Hold on...*holds envelope to forehead*...'inexperienced novices, factually deficient statements, the internet'...*opens envelope*..."Mr. Bean, what are the three biggest contributors to bad training advice?"
posted by P.o.B. at 9:55 PM on April 19, 2010


Ghostbusters 2?

Sweatin' to the Oldies?

Yogic Flying?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:59 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're not doing calisthenics with focus on breath control, visualisation of the wisdom of emptiness, and yearning for your original face before your parents were born, then you're not really training for yogic flying.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:08 PM on April 19, 2010



posted by P.o.B. at 11:44 PM on April 19, 2010


WHICH ONE OF YOU FUCKERS HAS THE ALL THE BURGERS
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:34 AM on April 20, 2010


Oh, I see, you were just trolling again. Forgive me for thinking you might have had something of substance to contribute to the adults' discussion.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:01 AM on April 20, 2010


If you're not doing calisthenics with focus on breath control, visualisation of the wisdom of emptiness, and yearning for your original face before your parents were born, then you're not really training for yogic flying.

Didn't koeselitz make that point in a recent thread?
posted by grobstein at 6:55 AM on April 20, 2010


The calculator is probably BS anyway though.

Looks like it. This other calorie calculator based on ACSM appears to be better.

It shows a burn of 822 Kcal for 5 hours of standing and writing, vs 643 Kcals for five hours of sitting and typing. Assuming 160 lb person.
posted by storybored at 7:39 AM on April 20, 2010


ludwig_van: To answer your question: Both. To be fair, I was oversimplifying a bit there in an attempt to make the point as clearly as possible, so your confusion is probably my fault. On a gross level, any energy that is taken in but not used or passed out is stored as excess energy, in the form of glycogen (short-term) or fat (long-term). Even eating a healthy food can result in fat increase if you eat enough of it, because our bodies like to save for the future. You are right though that at least some of the response to what is eaten depends on the brain's response to the diet content. Some neurons in the brain are sensitive to lipid levels in the bloodstream and can change their patterns of activity as a result. There are effects outside of the brain as well. A high-fat diet for example can apparently disturb circadian rhythms in some organs. These peripheral organs can then feed back to neurons in the brain which influence ingestive behavior and energy expenditure, causing intrnal changes that can actually affect both perceived hunger and satiety, as well as energetic output. There are both short-term and long-term effects of high-fat intake resulting from a combination of these things. There is a lot of evidence that over the long term, a high-fat diet triggers a chronic state similar to inflammation, increasing levels of many factors associated with disease and contributing directly to insulin resistance.

In short, energy in > energy out = weight gain is thermodynamics, and you can't argue with thermodynamics. But add in a high-fat diet, which has the potential to both increase energy in (hedonics) and decrease energy out (internal signaling responses) and you speed up the process considerably.

I will add that from everything I have encountered, a low-carb diet is not going to be good for you unless you are an obligate carnivore like a cat or a polar bear. I don't know any serious obesity researcher who would argue that low-carb is a good thing for a human, especially not long-term. (There may be some who say this: I personally don't know any who do.) We aren't carnivores, and we really aren't built to obtain most of our calories from fat and protein. Historically, humans had a much higher percentage of carbohydrates in the diet. However, historically those were complex carbs, not simple refined ones, and of course historically we used to do a lot more physical activity. We appear to function best on a fairly balanced diet - more complex carbs, few or no simple refined carbs, a balance of protein from the source of your choice (animal or vegetable), and enough fat to get your body to think it's doing fine. Too little fat appears to trick your body into thinking it's on the verge of starvation, and it will vigorously defend its store of fat. Adding some fat to your diet can help, but you shouldn't add too much.

"That may be a low-carbohydrate diet if you compare it to typical American diets, but it's not low enough to make the conclusion that a high-fat diet, irrespective of the other nutrients, will make you fat."

Rats aren't typical Americans. They aren't humans, and they have different nutritional needs than humans do. And we don't typically put rats on low-carb diets. Standard rat chow is ~4% fat and ~75% carbohydrates, because rats are largely herbivorous. You're saying that switching that out for a 60% fat / 20% carb diet is going to prove nothing? And please inform me (because I'd really like to know) how I am supposed to alter the balance of fat intake while keeping intake levels of all other nutrients constant as a control.

Look man, I don't know what kind of science background you have, what kind of training you have, how long you've spent reading about this stuff, what have you. I'll be honest with you. I'm a circadian guy by training, and haven't been in the obesity field for more than a few years. However, I work closely with a large group of people who have been studying nutrition, obesity and energy expenditure for a long damn time, many of whom have been doing so for longer than you or I have been alive. If you can't accept that my colleagues and I might just know what we are talking about, and have the publication and grant funding record to prove it, well, I'm not going to waste any more time trying to explain it to you. I'll just nod my head sagely and admit that you know more than the director and codirector of the state obesity center, several professors in the food science and nutrition department at the university here, the people doing clinical work with obese patients at the VA hospital, and the nice folks down at the Mayo Clinic.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:45 AM on April 20, 2010


caution live frogsI don't necessarily agree with what you're saying, so I'd like you to either post some links to papers backing it up, or memail me those links. I'm at an institution as well, so I can take links to journals or pubmed. In particular, the points that I have issues with are:

A high-fat diet for example can apparently disturb circadian rhythms in some organs.

Since you're a circadian rhythm guy I assume that you do find changes in these effects from a high-fat diet, but I'd still like to see the research. For example, was the calorie intake controlled? Was there an alternative high-carb, equivalent calorie group?


There is a lot of evidence that over the long term, a high-fat diet triggers a chronic state similar to inflammation, increasing levels of many factors associated with disease and contributing directly to insulin resistance.

Honestly, I'm somewhat shocked that fat intake has anything to do with insulin resistance in the absence of carbohydrates.

a low-carb diet is not going to be good for you unless you are an obligate carnivore like a cat or a polar bear.

While I agree that not eating any carbs for the long term is not good for you, largely due to the nutrient loss from avoiding vegetables, I'm not sure why you say it's detrimental in the short term.

We appear to function best on a fairly balanced diet - more complex carbs, few or no simple refined carbs, a balance of protein from the source of your choice (animal or vegetable), and enough fat to get your body to think it's doing fine.

I agree on moderation in principle, but again I'd like to see some controlled experiments on this.


As an aside, I agree that energy in > energy out leads to weight gain. However, it's been my understanding (without having read papers - my own fault there) that without insulin, adipose cells simply cannot store extra energy as fat, so your body ends up using it in other ways - for example micromovements such as fidgeting. I'm not a molecular biologist, but that pathway does seem pretty clear.
posted by scrutiny at 8:14 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll just nod my head sagely and admit that you know more than the director and codirector of the state obesity center, several professors in the food science and nutrition department at the university here, the people doing clinical work with obese patients at the VA hospital, and the nice folks down at the Mayo Clinic.

Not to be crude, but what's with the appeal to authority? It sounds like you know what you're talking about. You shouldn't have to resort to that.
posted by scrutiny at 8:24 AM on April 20, 2010


In short, energy in > energy out = weight gain is thermodynamics, and you can't argue with thermodynamics.

The body is not a magical Mr. Fusion machine that treats all calories equally. Daily meals of sawdust and gasoline won't make people fat, even though they contain tremendous amount of energy.

Historically, humans had a much higher percentage of carbohydrates in the diet.

Cites, please.

Rats aren't typical Americans. They aren't humans, and they have different nutritional needs than humans do. And we don't typically put rats on low-carb diets.

Then don't draw conclusions about the ideal human diet based on research done on rats.

Adding some fat to your diet can help, but you shouldn't add too much.

How much is too much? How do you know?

Look man, I don't know what kind of science background you have, what kind of training you have, how long you've spent reading about this stuff, what have you.

Enough to know that the same guys who told us to stop eating eggs and steak in favor of fuckin' Cheerios all day every day might be wrong about other stuff. Also, I can read, parse, understand, and critique a scientific paper just fine, thanks, and your backtracking and goalpost-moving on rat diets isn't helping your argument from authority any.

I'll just nod my head sagely and admit that you know more than the director and codirector of the state obesity center, several professors in the food science and nutrition department at the university here, the people doing clinical work with obese patients at the VA hospital, and the nice folks down at the Mayo Clinic.

Cool, you do that, and be sure to keep telling everyone that any meal is healthier if you cram it between two slices of bread.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:43 AM on April 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not looking for "high performance" and my balance and strength are fine. But with some heart problems in the family, I am a little concerned about my heart. Also, there's no way I'm spending 1, let alone 8-10, hours a day exercising.

My mom has a cartoon on her fridge to motivate her to go to the gym (she's retired and just started doing this a few years ago). A guy is in the doctor's office, and the caption reads, "What suits your busy lifestyle better - exercising one hour a day, or being dead 24 hours a day?"

I do spend one hour a day on cardio and also do some situps and light weights. I didn't until just about six months ago, and I'm 40. Started out with 20 minutes of calisthenics, and now I'm doing intervals for an hour on an elliptical. I was never a jock growing up, and I used to dread the very idea of getting up an hour early just to work out. Now even missing a day is a disappointment. Of course you get addicted to the endorphins, so that helps explain it, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. My energy is much better and my metabolism runs much higher. I can see my abs for the first time in my life.

I was never overweight but was pretty badly out of shape for many years, smoked and drank a lot when I was in my 20s. It didn't matter for a while, but it caught up to me in a bad way. I quit drinking and smoking but my metabolism was slowing down as I approached 40, so didn't start feeling really healthy until I changed my diet and started exercising. It's worth it, but it's easier to start now rather than later. Bottom line is, it's better to be healthy than stubborn or busy. I can't convince anyone else, but I am not the kind of person who cares about that sort of thing, or I didn't used to be until I had to deal with it. Better to make the choice before you get to that point.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:40 AM on April 20, 2010


Enough to know that the same guys who told us to stop eating eggs and steak in favor of fuckin' Cheerios all day every day might be wrong about other stuff

Well, a few things should be said. First of all, nutrition science is still science, so you can look back and see where we made mistakes. That doesn't make the whole field invalid. It's like trying to invalidate evolutionary biology based on our previous understandings which turned out to be not entirely correct. Second, people who work with this science are more likely to have a better understanding than someone who doesn't. And third, the media does a poor job of translating scientific studies into easily digestible information, many times getting it wrong. As in the case of other fields of rigorous study and analysis, I put my trust in those who are actually authorities on the matter and try to educate myself as much as possible, so I'm not simply credulous. I think that's a better approach than to dismiss the whole because of some badly conceived notions of how the field of study works.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:53 AM on April 20, 2010


Okay, ludwig_van, fine. Let's address a simple idea you've dismissed as inactivity. Why would an active athlete, with a long life-span from early teens to late 30's (25yrs or so), have a diminished athletic ability in his or her later years? We're talking the whole field of athletic endeavor, not just lifters.

It's a simple question you should be able to give a specific answer from; knowledge of basic physiology, biology, or experience. If you can give answer without half-facts and disingenuous hand-waveyism, I'll be surprised, as I said before, it seems that's the only way you interact in these types of threads.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:09 AM on April 20, 2010


First of all, nutrition science is still science, so you can look back and see where we made mistakes.

I'm aware, krinky; my larger point is that there are multiple competing theories on nutrition and fat loss in research community; I'm clearly on one side while caution live frogs is on the other. This is not one lone flat-earth nut against the world. There are many qualified researchers and scientists who have reason to believe that the last few decades of anti-fat hysteria is simply incorrect. Someone's incorrect. I accept that it coule be me, but I want to see the data first. And frequently this data doesn't properly control for carbohydrate intake. A diet that consists of 60% fat, 20% CHO, 20% protein is wildy different, metabolically, from one that is 60f/5c/35p.

And then we have clf telling us that, well, you don't know what we feed rats. And when you bring up that none of these foods are truly low CHO, he tells us that, well, rats are different from people, so we can't draw any conclusions, although you can (somehow!) draw the conclusion that he's right and high-fat diets will kill you through some unknown, uncited mechanism. And when you question that, he tells you that you're wrong because people at the Mayo Clinic still back the lipid hypothesis.

This, I submit respectfully is not debate. It's not science. It's a baldfaced argument from authority, and it has no place here.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:10 AM on April 20, 2010


Look, Optimus, I don't recall having any negative history with you, or any real bitter back-and-forth with you personally in the past, but you really aren't leaving me with a good impression here. I wasn't the one who came into this thread to start slinging negative comments. Your first comment in this thread accused me and my colleagues of being lazy scientists and writers. That ticked me off and I responded in kind. I didn't come in here for an argument and frankly I'm a little mad at myself for allowing you to draw me into one. Continuing a petty argument with you in this thread isn't helping anyone, so I'm not going to do it.

scrutiny - control diets are pretty much a necessity. The study in particular that I was thinking of when making the comment tried to control for both type of food and duration of diet. The link is here. This isn't the first article linking circadian stuff to obesity and there has been a lot more work since.

Insulin resistance does block uptake of blood sugar in fat cells, which results in higher circulating levels of triglycerides, free fatty acids, etc. - the signals picked up by lipid-sensitive neurons in the hypothalamus. There's a review here that discusses how the hypothalamic response to high-fat diets contributes to insulin resistance. Yes, lots of sugar in the diet can also lead to insulin resistance, but it isn't the only path - different tissues develop insulin resistance for different reasons, and a lot of evidence links fat consumption to development of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome as well.

Low-carb diets might be detrimental in the short term - there's some evidence that they are not - I was speaking more specifically to long-term effects. Dietary changes over short periods can have some results that may at first appear positive, but there are also problems. This short review summarizes 6- and 12-month outcomes of high fat vs. low fat diets in humans and mentions some studies suggesting that even short-term effects of a high-fat diet might be negative. Some of the data I have seen from diet choice experiments also suggests that switching the diet can lead to unwanted effects after resuming "normal" food; a diet is not supposed to be something you eat for a short period, it is supposed to be what you habitually eat.

Finally, carefully controlled studies can really only be done in animal subjects, because the rats will eat what we give them and have no other choices - we can weigh the food, measure the caloric expenditure, etc. Humans on the other hand are notoriously unreliable in terms of diet accuracy even under very close supervision. This is the reason why any study relying on self-reporting of intake in humans must be taken with a large grain of salt, and contributes greatly to why so many people do quite well in controlled conditions (such as an inpatient weight-loss clinic) but backslide after returning home.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:15 AM on April 20, 2010


(Of course, we don't know what the rats are thinking - and there is a great deal of evidence suggesting that emotional state has an awful lot to do with the outcome of any given treatment. Rats aren't perfect, humans aren't perfect, but between the two we can usually start to figure out what's going on.)
posted by caution live frogs at 10:19 AM on April 20, 2010


Historically, humans had a much higher percentage of carbohydrates in the diet.

We aren't carnivores, and we really aren't built to obtain most of our calories from fat and protein.

At least one well-cited journal article estimates worldwide hunter-gatherer macronutrient percentages as:
19–35% for dietary protein, 22–40% for carbohydrate, and 28–58% for fat. In the United States, the third National Health and Nutrition Survey showed that among adults aged 20 y, protein contributed 15.5%, carbohydrate 49.0%, fat 34.0%, and alcohol 3.1% of total energy intake.

Consequently, the range of percentages of energy for carbohydrate and protein in the diets of most hunter-gatherer societies worldwide falls outside the average value found in Western diets and in recommended healthy diets [15% of energy from protein, 55% from carbohydrate, and 30% from fat].

Our macronutrient projections for worldwide hunter-gatherer diets indicate that these diets would be extremely high in protein (19–35% of energy) and low in carbohydrate (22–40% of energy) by normal Western standards, whereas the fat intake would be comparable or higher (28–58% of energy) than values currently consumed in modern, industrialized societies. However, the types and balance of fats in hunter-gatherer diets would likely have been considerably different from those found in typical Western diets.
Also:
Our analysis showed that whenever and wherever it was ecologically possible, hunter-gatherers consumed high amounts (45–65% of energy) of animal food
So there it appears that there is hardly consensus on some of the assumptions held by obesity researchers.
posted by AceRock at 10:22 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awesome, thanks clf. I'll check those out and get back to ya.
posted by scrutiny at 10:27 AM on April 20, 2010


Look, Optimus, I don't recall having any negative history with you, or any real bitter back-and-forth with you personally in the past, but you really aren't leaving me with a good impression here. I wasn't the one who came into this thread to start slinging negative comments. Your first comment in this thread accused me and my colleagues of being lazy scientists and writers. That ticked me off and I responded in kind. I didn't come in here for an argument and frankly I'm a little mad at myself for allowing you to draw me into one. Continuing a petty argument with you in this thread isn't helping anyone, so I'm not going to do it.

yeah plus what would a layman know about proper controls what an idiot i am to think that i could spot a flaw in a genuine Science™ document

"Three-week-old mice were placed in standard mouse cages equipped with infrared sensors to detect locomotor activity. For the first week of activity recording, mice were maintained on a 12:12 LD cycle and fed regular chow (RC; 16%kcal from fat, 27% kcal from protein, and 57% kcal from carbohydrate; 7012, Harlan Teklad) diet. Starting at 4 weeks of age, animals were maintained in constant darkness (DD) for 2 weeks and then fed either RC (n = 12) or a high-fat (HF; 45% kcal from fat, 20% kcal from protein, and 35% kcal from carbohydrate; D12451, Research Diets, Inc.; n = 10) diet for 6 weeks."

Not to mention that the paper's investigation itself is completely irrelevant to the topic of this thread.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:50 AM on April 20, 2010


Continuing a petty argument with you in this thread isn't helping anyone

Actually, I for one am following this thread because of this ongoing debate.
posted by AceRock at 10:58 AM on April 20, 2010


Let's address a simple idea you've dismissed as inactivity. Why would an active athlete, with a long life-span from early teens to late 30's (25yrs or so), have a diminished athletic ability in his or her later years? We're talking the whole field of athletic endeavor, not just lifters.

Dude, I have no idea what you're asking me, how it's relevant to this conversation or the comment you're linking to, or whether this is meant as an honest question or some kind of gotcha. Feel free to clarify.

I'm also not sure how throwing a question at me from left field is supposed to make you look less like a troll. Protip: if you want to be seen as participating in a discussion in good faith, just come out and say whatever you have to say instead of being all sarcastic and vague and refusing to substantiate your comments.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:33 AM on April 20, 2010


It was a simple question that related to one of your statements, and I don't know what kind of clarification you would need, but forget it. I honestly don't think you know the simple answer, but whatever - I'm trolling right?

Do you remember when you said "strength coaches who don't believe in performing the main lifts.", when I didn't say that? And then you got all whiny l because I actually made a joke about you doing that very thing I said you would?

You do the same thing every time, it's not like your sneaky or anything. I asked you a straightforward question, you don't answer, and yet I'm the one who's vague. Are we done now or did you want to keep calling me names without any hint of self-awareness?
posted by P.o.B. at 12:21 PM on April 20, 2010


Awesome issues-oriented debate. Huge insights.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:34 PM on April 20, 2010


Do you remember when you said "strength coaches who don't believe in performing the main lifts.", when I didn't say that?

You quoted Telf saying "If you're not doing high weight, low rep sets of the main exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, and pull ups, then you're not really weight training." You replied: "Really? I guess some of the top strength coaches in the field should be talking to you then." The implication seems to be that you disagree with Telf's comment and that "some of the top strength coaches in the field" would disagree as well. But you're right that I have to do some reading into your statement to figure out what your position is, because you didn't really say what you meant. When I asked you to explain what strength coaches you were talking about, you said you didn't need to specify, and that anyone who was informed on the subject would already know. This pattern of dropping snide, provocative comments into a conversation and then refusing to substantiate them falls under the umbrella of "trolling." It's not cute, funny, or informative, it's just tiresome.

It was a simple question that related to one of your statements

Like I said, honestly can't tell what you're asking or how it's related to my comment. I made a statement about the relationship between metabolic rate and lean body mass, and quoted from somebody's blog. My point was that increased LBM correlates to increased metabolism regardless of age. I made a second comment about the effects of training on older populations with a quote from Practical Programming. You then respond to my first comment by asking me why an older athlete would have diminished athletic ability, saying that you want to "address a simple idea that I've dismissed as inactivity." Your comment reads like a non-sequitur to me. I don't know if you disagree with something I've said, what exactly you disagree with, or what your own opinion is.

You might want to consider spending a little more time trying to express yourself clearly. I mean that genuinely. You tend to seem like you're in a rush to comment so you can score points or something. For all of the arguing and disagreeing you do, I have very little idea what you actually believe in, and I know I'm not alone in that sentiment.

I'm not trying to avoid your questions, and I haven't done so in the past. I will address or explicate anything I've said that was unclear.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:13 PM on April 20, 2010


I'm going to jump in and say that I have a lot of respect for P.o.B. and his many helpful comments in previous health threads. I stand by my original statement regarding high weight, low reps and big lifts. That being said, my wording was overly broad for rhetorical purposes.

I should clarify that I meant low reps (3-8) but high sets (around 5). So we're still talking about up to around 25 reps per exercise.

I suppose P.o.B. could be arguing for more split body exercises with lower overall weights. Bulgarian split squats as opposed to back squats etc. I'm not sure, but he definitely knows his stuff.

Otherwise, I'd be very surprised if there are many respected strength coaches who don't advocate a similar plan to what I briefly outlined above. I suspect that there must be a communication problem, otherwise I would like to know which trainers/coaches P.o.B. is talking about. Not because I don't believe him, but because it runs counter to almost everything I've read; and I'm always open to new ideas.
posted by Telf at 2:36 PM on April 20, 2010


Two more thoughts regarding P.o.B.'s comments:

I'm talking about beginning weight trainers not top class power lifters. Maybe you're referring to conjugate training? That's all well and good if you're trying to break world records, but I think that a simple routine of about 5-6 core exercises will do better for 90% of the population.

May you're referring to HIT (not to be confused with HIIT)? In that case I guess it's safe to say that we do follow different schools regarding strength training.

Again, I'm just genuinely curious about who you're talking about, because I do respect your opinion on these things.
posted by Telf at 2:44 PM on April 20, 2010


Actually, I for one am following this thread because of this ongoing debate.

Well, it's a good thing that nobody has mentioned BMI yet, or we'd be having the tired old mass debate again.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:03 PM on April 20, 2010


Whatever, UbuRoivas! That's not what all the top trainers say about BMI!

Telf, nope I actually don't disagree with you. Maybe I was a bit quick on the draw, but when I see people parroting away a specific type of training for everyone it gives me the eyerolls. But you weren't doing that, and it's tough to parse what people are trying to get at sometimes. We all SHOULD know that all the top strength coaches don't agree on what is considered the best approach. I could give you a list of names but I'm sure they wouldn't surprise you. "Progressive resistance" is the name of the game, but that can be interpreted in different ways and I think some people want to be ascetics and jump behind some kind of "belief" or "exercise system" to defend. Personally I think exercise is exercise. People should do what they want to do. Everyone has different needs, wants, goals, and requirements. People need to figure those out and find something that will make themselves while filling those goals. You can try to ramrod what you think the best exercises routine is into people's heads, but it doesn't really matter if you have the most killer workout for them if they aren't motivated to do it. I think it takes time and experience to learn those things, and how to train people. It sounds like you've accrued those things.
It's funny you mention HIT, I don't care for it much, but if people like it that's cool. I did see a trainer throw a newbie into a program once, and watched him being pushed through it redfaced. He made it so the guy did not want to go back to the gym and work out anymore. Thats why I think it's more important for people to get in the gym at least moving and doing something, rather than getting burned out or overzealous with heavy weight and blowing out a tendon or two. Those things will keep people from exercising.
Anyway, I'm not trying to be preachy here, and I apologize. I didn't mean to make it seem like I was jumping down your throat.


As for you ludwig_van, your lack of self-awareness is staggering. Believe me, I'm not the only one who holds that sentiment. I'm at a loss to say anything more to you except; don't give advice if you're not willing to take any yourself.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:25 PM on April 20, 2010


Awesome. Killfile powers... activate!
posted by ludwig_van at 6:30 AM on April 21, 2010


P.o.B. - who else thinks ludwig_van's lack of self-awareness is staggering? You're not the only one who holds this sentiment? Really?

While you're at it - why don't you share with us who these top strength coaches are who don't believe people should be doing the main lifts? Surprise me.
posted by useyourmachinegunarm at 6:54 AM on April 21, 2010


You're not the only one who holds this sentiment?

Oh, yes! And no, don't ask me to skewer other forum member's names. Meta it if it bothers you.

why don't you share with us who these top strength coaches are who don't believe people should be doing the main lifts?

Okay, let's cover the subject at hand. First of all, I didn't say that. ludwig_van said I said that. One example of his handwavy "look over here, I'm right" tactics.
I disagreed with this statement:
If you're not doing high weight, low rep sets of the main exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, and pull ups, then you're not really weight training.
Telf already clarified what he meant, and I don't disagree with what he said at all, but let me clarify why I disagreed with this statement initially.
* High(heavy) weight, low rep...weight training - is a great way to workout, but it's not the only way to workout. There seems to be this insistence that it is, but you don't need to go far to see it obviously is not. Like I said progressive resistance is the name of the game, but you can induce this in all kinds of ways and not just using heavy weights or low reps.
*Squats, deadlifts, presses, and pull ups - What's to disagree with here? There's only so many ways you can use a barbell. Hold it with your hands, or put it on your shoulders. Pull it or push it away from the ground(gravity). Those by far aren't your only options though, BUT they are your best options for using the most amount of weight possible.

Look, heavy weights should be a part of everyone's program, but if that's all you're fixated on then you've completely fetishized strength out of some Charles Atlas world that doesn't have any basis in reality.
I think one of the smartest things I've seen written by a strength coach to his detractors was "Get back to me when you're 40." I'm not forty but I'm over thirty and I've come to realize at my age that a lot of the shit I said in my twenties just doesn't hold water at this point. If you're lacking in experience or age then maybe that's something you should think about.

So what about the unsubstantiated strength coaches. Let's look what you're (or more precisely ludwig_van) is saying; all strength coaches only use low reps(5 or less) and really heavy weights(*shrug*) to train athletes. Do you see the inane stupidity of that statement? And why I'm not going to dance around like a monkey proving "the sky is blue"? If you don't, you need to read a bit more and...surprise yourself maybe.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:52 PM on April 21, 2010


Maybe I'm a marginal case, but I can take issue with the claim that "If you're not doing high weight, low rep sets of the main exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, and pull ups, then you're not really weight training"

This is because - as a capoeirista - my lower body goals are for endurance, not outright strength. In any 2-hour training session, we'd do probably thousands of squat/lunge type movements, so excess bulk on the legs is detrimental, and absolute strength is not of primary importance.

One thing we do need, though, is to work our backs, because capoeira is intensive on the "pushy" muscles; the chest, shoulders & triceps, but lats & biceps are used much less. Hence, weight training is useful to avoid becoming too unbalanced towards the front of the upper body.

If people want to somehow call my weight training "not really weight training" because I have no need for particular exercises, then go for it. But as P.o.B pointed out, "Everyone has different needs, wants, goals, and requirements"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:46 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]




Awesome. New York Times, you're going into my killfile...nyaaahhh!
posted by P.o.B. at 5:06 PM on April 25, 2010


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