Body By Science

(DJ) #1

Do you do one of the Dr. Doug McGuff Body By Science workouts? (Machines or dumbbells or barbells?) What frequency and exercises? How is it working for you?

If you haven't read Body by Science, you're missing out!
Excercise Efficiency
(debbie norman) #2

I work out with at trainer twice a week and usually once by myself and i am finding that it has helped immensely.

(Mel Soule) #3

Once per week. Four machines. Chest press, rowing machine, leg press and abduction/adduction thigh master. 30 seconds to fatigue with 2 min rest between reps. 3 reps per machine. 7 day recovery period between gym days. Working incredibly well. Max lift gains have not stopped since Aug 1, 2018, my start. Enjoying all of my new mitochondria friends. BTW they love eating my body fat.

(Charles Rounds) #4

I’ve been using the Body by Science protocol for 4 years. I have a trainer and follow the 10 seconds to complete the contraction and 8 -10 seconds to return. Exhaustion for that muscle group at around 90 -120 seconds.

Workouts are once a week and last about 15 minutes. Routine is split so that I do one group of exercises one week and a different group the following week. It’s the only exercise/workout that I’ve been willing and able to stick with.

It certainly works for me - I’m feeling stronger than I have in years.

(Charles Rounds) #5

Sorry - forgot the rest of your question!! All weights are lifted using machines. Free weights are excellent for other purposes but since the point of the protocol is to lift to ABSOLUTE (!!) exhaustion, machines are required for safety.

Back machine (I’ve never seen one like it. Seated, lean forward, ‘locked’ into machine and then push back against the weight. Works the lower back.)

LEGS - Leg Press, Leg Extension, Seated Leg Curl,
ARMS - Pullover, Butterfly, Seated Row, Chest Press, Pulldown

Pretty much the standard stuff. You will find it very difficult to do without help. Find a good trainer, one who knows the protocol. Here’s a place to start looking.

(Mark Rhodes) #6

I tried it for 12 weeks during the summer. I thought that I wasn’t getting exactly what I wanted and yet the principles and science led me to believe that he and Jon Little were on a correct path, especially in understanding recovery. Here is what I then did.

For three consecutive days I would lift. On each day it would be BIG compound movements incorporating super slow eccentric and decentric movements. Then taper down to some isolation work. 1st day low midsection & legs. Second day obliques and chest and shoulders. Third day, upper abs, back, bis, tris. The rest for 6 or 7 days from the first workout.

Starting in October I incorporated 5 day fasting and timed my HGH spike to coincide with my lifting, my feasting to start the day following my last day of lifting.

Dexascan yesterday. 14.7lb increase in LBM and lost 5 lbs of fat in 2 months time since my previous Dexa. Granted that LBM could be partially water but even a ten pound increase would be astounding.

(Keri) #7

Yep. Machines. Every 7-9 days.

Assisted pull-up (I prefer the grip position vs lat machine)
Shoulder press
Leg press
Low row
Chest press

Last 2 exercises, sometimes on a cable machine to focus on eccentric (assist the pull with two arms, slow release with one).

60-90 seconds under load to failure. That’s typically 6-8 slow reps. McGuff suggests no rest between reps, but I prefer about a minute - go to the water fountain, then to the next machine.

It works well for me when I’m consistent with it. I’ve seen increases in strength and insulin sensitivity.

It’s cool to see so many people mentioning McGuff on this forum. Do any of you see other people doing this workout at a fitness center? I feel like a lone freak. I’ve have never seen another person doing super slow or eccentric lifting at the Y.


I’ve read BBS book and watched several of McGuff’s long talks, and my husband and I are trying to do the protocol at home to the best of our ability. With bodyweight exercises we’ve found it pretty easy to get to failure within 90 seconds for the upper body, but squats are really challenging. My first time with very slow air squats was an agonizing 8 minutes, though we’ve implemented some tweaks to get it down to the 2-3 minute range for both of us. I think that our next time we’ll try spotting each other while the person squatting holds a weight. (Agree with Charles above that free weights plus failure is a challenging combination…)

@Slowburnmary does Frederick Hahn’s slow protocol (at home, I think) and has written a lot about super slow on here. Hahn clearly knows what he’s doing but I got his videos and honestly the folks in them don’t look anything like we do in our last few seconds (panting, shaking - it’s intense!). So… I’m not sure if that’s the way they chose to do it in the video so as not to scare anyone off?

My husband and I have both done a lot of different activities over the years and know how to push ourselves pretty hard, but going to failure is totally new (and tough!) but kind of satisfying.

(Tim) #9

I have been doing a very similar routine for just over a year with a trainer at a dedicated facility. For the first few months, I went weekly but now go every 2-3 weeks due to cost and have seen my increases slow accordingly.

That said, however, I still feel much stronger at 50 than I did in my twenties and a lot of the joint pain I’ve had for years is now gone. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough, as long as one is ready for how hard it can (and should) be.

(Keri) #10

Yay for stronger at 50!

I feel like I’m as healthy and fit as I’ve ever been. My body composition is close to what it was in my 20s and I have fewer aches and pains. Thanks to keto and the growth of an intelligent, scientific, alternative health information space online.

(Gabe “No Dogma, Only Science Please!” ) #11

Holy shit. That’s awesome.

I just started this protocol a couple of weeks ago. I’ve actually found in both sessions I’ve done that I end up doing some of the exercises for up to 3 minutes time under load. I keep increasing but either I’m getting stronger way quicker, or my concept of failure isn’t quite right, or, with some exercises, I’m scared of the higher weight because I’m afraid of injuring joints.

I do feel stronger already, by the way, and I think the strength training has broken my fat loss plateau.


I heard about this option on this forum. Thanks to @SlowBurnMary and @JamieHayes!

Gonna do my fourth workout tonight.

I work out at home: some machines, some free-weights- I just do the best I can, with what I have. Still getting the mechanics down.

Currently doing: Push-ups, Squats, Pull-downs, Overhead press, Back extensions, Rows and Leg extension and Leg raises. When I’m done, I do a few calf-raises, lateral leg raises, crunches and neck (these are just for whatever they’re worth). I’ve been doing 6-7 days, between sessions.

It’s early but I’m really liking it. I feel good throughout the week and look forward to my next workout. I also feel like it is contributing to somewhat better BS readings- even though it is so brief and infrequent.


Wow- that is awesome!


Got a new goal? :grinning:

(Mark Rhodes) #14

@V1ncentt 9.9% BF. Staying above 200 overall has been my goal for the last year. April of this year I set May 2018 as my target.

@gabe I lift in my basement often with No one else home. Although I have a Smith machine if I set it to stay safe on failure I cannot get a deep enough travel as I have long limbs. This likely explains why I didn’t have as much progress using the actual protocol but needed to use a hybrid to still exhaust all of the fibers.

(Zack F) #15

I’ve used the protocol for almost ten years off and on. I wish I would have trained consistently over the years and I’d be stronger. BBS is extremely effective given the investment as long as you go to failure and keep the muscle under tension. Don’t try to fake out more reps or weight than you can. Go to failure. Burn out your muscles by keeping the load steady. There are gurus and folks who bag BBS but I really don’t care. I’m not interested in the 45 minutes a day five or six days a week high volume stuff. Occasionally I’ll go twice a week instead of once but that’s it.


I use the Slow Burn routine by Fred Hahn, who was previously a master teacher of McGuff’s Super Slow. Both McGuff and Hahn’s books go into the fascinating science of the metabolic leveraging of intense strength training - and McGuff’s is more packed with additional science on impact on elders, and other subjects.

I believe Hahn’s book (cowritten with LCHF physicians Mary Dan Eades MD and Michael Eades MD) and technique really provides something unique, in terms of mitochondrial engagement and mind-clearing mindfulness - due to addressing smaller muscle groups. His book offers both a dumbbells/ankle weights routine for home practice, as well as a gym machine routine.

McGuff’s big 5 workout is also handy in its portability! However, being that pushups and pullups are the bane of the existence of many bookworm males and average females - the big 5 can be maddeningly slow for some beginners who must start by training just the negative movement (ie, just the downward movement of a pushup, with no actual pushup for many weeks). If one has the mental stamina and stress-management for that with both pullups and pushups - it can be amazing, otherwise, it may be too too slow and derail one’s morale.

Regardless of whether one does the Hahn Slow Burn approach or the McGuff Super Slow big 5 - it’s really amazing how investing just 20-30 minutes a week in slow weight bearing work can boost the metabolism all week long and for more weeks ahead. There is evidence that longer recovery times - such as 7-14 days - actually help the body build more muscle mass! And in the book Body By Science, McGuff goes into an anecdotal on a friend’s muscle mass results after stopping weight training for a month or more.

Of course if one is significantly obese it’s not advised to do any of the above until a certain amount of body recomposition has already happened. As Stephen Phinney MD points out, morbidly obese folks do resistance training just by getting up from a chair - and injury rates are much lower if one has dropped enough fat to have enough new muscle mass as well as self-esteem to endure DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness, a whole new challenge for the newer weightlifter) without getting thrown off track. But when a morbidly obese person has lost some 50-100 pounds in water & fat - the day does come when they can start training - and enjoy the mental refreshment that comes with it! :smiley:


There are several “slow burn” and “super slow” style gyms and personal trainers across the U.S. For those who can afford the investment (around $100/wk) it’s a safe way to work up towards the highest weight lifts on the machines and to have personal coaching & feedback on technique. I hope to do that myself someday, should I be able to afford it.

I view it as a form of healthcare, actually - as strong muscles protect the joints and the circulatory system & heart! In a society where hip/shoulder/knee/heart replacements is the “new normal” for elders, I’d much rather fund prevention of replacement rather than face a life-risking fall and surgery at age 75 or whatever. Here’s to body recomposition!!!


Hahahaa @Madeleine yep the folks in the Hahn videos look cool and calm, this is true. I think they are more established students in the technique for sure! Definitely an advisable marketing approach, as to not scare off newbies :smiley:

At the same time, newbies may underestimate the Slow Burn approach and use heavier weights than they should. I started on the lighter side, a 3 pound weight which was too light - then overdid it and jumped to 8 pounds which was too heavy to repeat at all for some movements. Then I sorted out that 5 pounds was ideal for most, and 8 pounds only for one or two.

I know the first month or two of my Slow Burn training were so intense I couldn’t bear to have any music playing - which is extraordinary for me, as I love incorporating beats for encouragement. Also, I was sweating a lot the first few times, and donned the 1980s bandanna headband look to catch the drips! It took me around a month just to figure out what the best weights were for various lifts, and then I embarked on slooowly increasing those weights either through technique, or, in the case of calves, slowing the movement more and doubling the reps.

I can relate about the intensity moments! Hahn’s approach on squats starts with using support, and is just about working to near-failure within 90-120 seconds. His book goes into variations one can do if something is too difficult or too easy - which helped me A LOT - and makes things much more psychologically workable.

For example - pushups, which target my weakest muscles, and which I’ve never bothered to master. Using the negative cycle approach (just working on the form and slowness of the downward motion until stuck on the floor, then relaxing and bringing the body back into starting position) for about 5-6 sessions allowed me to naturally be able to start adding a bit of upward motion until one day I DID MY FIRST FULL PUSH UP!!!

I find it enormously helpful to use a 90 second timer, and to have a portable fan - it’s no joke when Hahn recommends a fan - as beginners may have a ton of sweat and working to near failure is epic. I think another difference between McGuff and Hahn is the failure point - Hahn aims for near-failure only for the home practice - for safety reasons. People can, and do, injure themselves terribly by failing and having a dumbbell or barbell fall on them, etc. In my first month, I dropped a dumbbell at the end of my reps because I was so exhausted I didn’t want to slowly lean down to place it on the floor - and it nearly missed landing on a toe!

On the bright side of safe training - here’s to transformation!!!

(DJ) #18

Thanks for all the answers. I’ve been trying it but the gym where I work out only has dumbbells so I’ve been trying the Big 5 with that, trying to be careful with going to failure…I am going to momentary muscle failure but I guess maybe not much as I could do with the safety of a machine. Also either because I’m not really working hard enough, or because I’ve been doing keto, I find I feel recovered enough to do 2-3 times per week, if I did 1x per week I don’t feel it’d be enough.


@dj2keto the science on the benefits of longer recovery times and how it relates to greater muscle mass increase is fascinating to me - so much happens that we cannot see, in terms of mitochondrial processes and HGH impact, under the surface. :muscle:

McGuff and Hahn point out that excess training actually has zero to negative impact. It’s very interesting.

Hahn now recommends training 2x/week for around 15-20 minutes each session but no more than that, based on long term observations of himself and his clients. That’s sure different than the typical gym culture of 3-5 times a week, one hour per time.

I love the fact of maximum results with minimal effort time-wise - though the gyms don’t love it, they prefer that folks spend as much time as possible there, and buy the junk snacks and drinks and supplements they sell.


Thanks for your notes, Mary! This is helpful. We’re trying for all-out failure at home but with a series of exercise that either don’t involve free weights or use them very close to the ground so that we can just let them drop. I’m not sure how long we can do it, but it’s kind of interesting for now. But the pull-ups are maddening. I can only do one or two as it is, so I get to maybe 25 seconds on that (but we have a park nearby that has a bar low enough that when we collapse off of it we’re not that far from the ground - also our legs are fine so they catch us :slight_smile: