Body By Science

(Sacha Beauregard) #21

Helloo! Just read through this thread and, as it happens, today is my gym day. I read BBS and started following it a few weeks ago (I might not have properly digested every detail in the book haha) and I had been aiming at achieving exhaustion more around the 60 to 90 second mark than these higher numbers like I’ve seen in this thread, like 90 to 120 seconds. Is there any particular reason to favour the longer Time Under Load? Like, is the exhaustion better if you hit it a little later than 1 minute?

I’m real happy that I came in here anyway, I was thinking that I should try some other stuff, like exercising a second time during the week, and I see @SlowBurnMary mentioning Hahn’s thoughts on that. (I also feel like I’m neglecting my cardio, 'cuz I get winded way too easy since I gave up my HIIT treadmill a while back.) Also, because I might not have the correct sense for intensity, to do a second set.

I find with the leg press that it’s maddeningly hard to get to failure. It’s real, genuine, agony and I haven’t achieved it once haha! I feel that I’ve been getting closer to it, and that I’m benefiting nicely anyway. I’ll keep at it!

Overall though, I enjoy following this protocol much more than the old method of “you’re never doing enough” 1 hour minimum 3 times a week. Kind of liberating.

(DJ) #22

I do it at the Y :slight_smile:


I’ve read Keto helps with recovery. I’ve been trying the bbs 5 protocol, and “want” to do more. For example Ted Nauman is a huge proponent of going to failure every day. I guess just trying things and seeing how they work for me.

Has anybody here had experience with quicker recovery periods on the bbs big 5 protocol? Either doing at home body weight or at gym or some combo?

Ie: if I did a couple gym workouts big 5 style with machines a week is that too much? Have you tried throwing in bodyweight replacements to failure (pushup pullup, pike pushup, horizontal row, squat)? Or do we all say just do 1x per week?

Edit: Just found this talk by McGuff himself, talking about what is necessary. Doing less vs more.


I haven’t read about going to failure every day. I thought that the improvement comes specifically during the adaptation (rest) time, so I don’t understand how that would work.

Some of the slow burn protocols have folks going to failure 2x/week but it might be that with freeweights that they have to use, it’s hard to go all the way to failure (without risking dropping a weight on your head!).

My husband and I do (mostly) bodyweight exercises to failure but we’re pretty new at it (1x/week for the last few months) so I can’t give much guidance on that. We did find that it helped to have a few props (pushup handles for a deeper push up, for example, and we use a 50lb weight vest for the squats).

(DJ) #25

I like 2x per week. I feel like on keto I could go again a little sooner but that could also be the training angst he talks about it his book.

I have however recently started doing a second drop-off set to failure in the same set with each exercise. I feel like that’s working better for me and it does relieve some of the angst over volume.

But I like 2x per week like Tuesday, Friday. It avoids weekends and is easier to be consistent. MWF might not allow enough recovery time. And trying to go more frequently like every 2 days (Tu,Fri,Mon,Th) would make for a less regular schedule on a weekly basis.


I want to do exactly that (Tues / Fri workouts) BUT… I’ve read too many articles saying twice is possibly going to cut off my recovery too soon… so I’m committing to 12 weeks of 1 BB’s big 5 / week. Definitely expect to feel gym angst but let’s put it to the test.

Tracking my lifts and will increase the next week if im able to keep time under load > 90 seconds. To keep me honest I’m posting my lifts and times here:

Chest press: 105lb, 2:19 (time to increase!)
Seated row 120lb, 1:50 (increase)
Lat pulldown 120lb, 1:30 (inc.)
Shoulder press 105lb, 1:44 (inc.)
Leg press 220lb, 1:38 (inc)

Wish me luck!


I started the McGuff protocol in October…Big 5, once a week. Each of my 5 compound lifts have improved in weight and Time Under Load in the nearly 5 months since beginning.

I’m 63, and have been obese for nearly 5 decades, but since going KETO on Dec 29th of 2016, I’ve lost 140# and been at my goal weight of 185# for over 3 months.

I’m enjoying the lifting, and want to fine tune it in the coming months.

(Shantanu) #28

I have been keto since March 2017. I started on the BBS protocol in Sep 2017. Luckily for me I was able to find a gym very close to my house that specializes in BBS, so I now workout once in a week with a trainer. 5 months in, I now reach failure in all the big 5 exercises. While I’d read the book and thought I’d understood everything and all, I was getting a tad bummed at not being able to complete the 3 minutes or so under load. But then I reread the book and realized that I needed to focus on the in-roading more than completion and that really made a big difference. I am 48 and for the first time in my life I’m actually seeing muscle definition on my not so lean body : - ). But more than that, I feel really good. I rarely make it past 2 minutes in each exercise. My trainer is obsessive about form and not speeding up as the fatigue mounts.

Its interesting that I have a simultaneous feeling of dread and anticipation about each session. They are brutal but mercifully short and there is a definite sense of achievement every single time because the weight keeps going up. For the first 3 months I worked out twice which my trainer explained as the acclimatisation phase. Now its once a week for 12 - 15 minutes. I have worked out the conventional way in the past with a good trainer but I hurt all the time and never really saw results the way I do now. Also, I almost always work out fasted with my last meal anywhere between 14 - 18 hours ago.

I don’t have any unrealistic expectation of ‘bulking up’ but I think BBS is going to definitely help me lead an active lifestyle and protect me from injuries. Please let me know if you have any questions.


(Joe) #29

How did it go? Looking to start big 5s on Sunday.


It’s been going pretty well. Weekly workouts only, and I have either raised weight or had increased time under load on each exercise. The extra time away from gym has given me back my weeknights with the family which is great.

I would definitely recommend watching videos on proper form for each exercise so you are targeting the muscles appropriately. It will help you select a decent starting weight if you know you have correct form.

Ie my latest pulldown form sucked. I was cheating trying to lift heavier than I could. I’ve recently reduced the weight and got the form down right (YouTube was great for this) and could REALLY feel the difference last workout.

Another tip: don’t quit the lift when you can’t move the weight anymore… imagine a spotter is helping you lift and just keep contacting as hard as you can. Sometimes I have been able to finish a rep I thought was over just by contacting affair the weight and not giving up. There’s a lot of play and untapped strength you need to get at to go to full muscular failure. Good luck @JoeG3383

I’ll post my numbers in another few weeks!

(Shantanu) #31

The not quitting part is vital because that’s when you inroad deeply.

(Joshua Cagney) #32

I’m thrilled to hear of the progress everyone has made here - particularly when speaking of the relationship between HI-SM Training and keto.

I have a studio in Northern Virginia where all we do is the protocol espoused by McGuff, and we see some pretty impressive results from clients who really push through the limitations that they initially THINK exist. I’ve done this protocol for about five years now, and I’m still stunned by some of the changes that I’ve seen from 40 yo through 45 yo.

There are certainly variations on a theme when it comes to doing HI-SM training, but much of what is said here is spot-on: look for that last 10-12 second exertion for the fast twitch recruitment, rest between muscle groups is critical both for efficacy of muscle development and for safety, and perhaps most importantly there’s a direct relationship between any kind of HIT and nutrition.

(Joshua Cagney) #33

@toprate I have every respect for your desire to adhere to the big 5 - they’re critical machines. But training twice a week is possible when you split your upper and lower body routines, and incorporate some isolation work or complementary work into the routines. For example, on Tuesday you can do an upper body routine with:

Lat pulldown
Chest press
Triceps extension
Shoulder Press
Compound Row
Bicep curl

And follow up Friday with lower body

Leg curl
Leg press
Abduction (so important)
Leg extension
Adduction (again:important)
lumbar or back extension
Abdominal crunch
Rotary torso

So you get to train twice a week, benefit from the indirect effect of hormonal flushing affecting the entire musculature twice a week instead of once, and you’re never overlapping your muscle groups outside of some supportive core structure. Give it a try - we encourage our clients to work through this every once in a while, and I don’t think that I could ever go back to training once a week.


This is awesome advice, thank you sir! I think once I’m through with the 12 -16 weeks I might make the change. What’s crazy is I am definitely seeing gains in muscle with just the 1 workout per week, and I am consistently able to add to my TUL or add weight. I’ll be posting a snazzy graph soon of my TUL for each of the big 5, showing the weeks I ‘added weight’ etc. I’ve never tracked so closely my progress and it makes such a difference both in feeling like I am making progress, and pushing yourself hard in the gym.

Something of note… what is interesting is just how much the sequencing of the routine seems to impact my ability… for example this week I really felt good + crushed my chest press at the highest weight as I started with chest press (usually get to that in the middle of the routine), but felt weaker on my shoulder press and actually went down in TUL on that exercise.

(Shantanu) #35

My trainer tracks everything on his iPad. I’m going to get a dump of the data and plot out some graphs. Will share.

(David) #36

I’ve just started working out this way. Feels great. How did it go for you?


Hi all,

Thought I would check in and provide you all an update.
Here is my table! I tried to keep TUL max out at 2 minutes, and minimum 1 minute. Hitting failure in that sweet spot of 90 seconds consistently before increasing weight.

First, I gotta say it’s weird spending so little time in the gym. Getting changed before + after combined takes almost as long as the workout! ~15 minutes of on-machine time, then leaving while everybody else is still doing their cardio, or a few guys are chatting on the bench press taking their sweet time doing 3 x 10 spotting each other… I wonder what they think.

I’m enjoying the protocol, and am feeling stronger + seeing some gains in the mirror. Thinking of adding in some at home calisthenics to failure 1 - 2 x per week depending on how I feel (recovery-wise).

Couple of tips for people starting imo:

  1. The sequencing definitely makes a difference, (I have not noted sequence in my table, but on paper I have it and it’s clear when I do squats it just drains the rest of my TUL for anything else, so I try to do legs last).
  2. I am happy to just max out effort as much as I can and not care as much about steady progress as long as I am providing the right stimulus (especially since sometimes by sequencing cannot be precisely the due to machine availability).
  3. in the cases I found I was not making good progress, I would reset the weight lower, and worked on my form… (you will note with both my seated row and lat pulldown I’ve had to reset, to try attaining improved form). I think the tough part with the pull exercises, you feel you can do more but that’s mostly because you can cheat and recruit the wrong muscles.
  4. At a certain point, you will have to go deeper in to TUL unless you can add smaller weights like 2 pounds at a time. ie; at beginning, big jumps largely due to practicing the muscle recruitment techniques… but now I think this might be my ‘real strength’ gaining time, and that progression requires much less in terms of overall weight addition to achieve same TUL.

This has all been done with some rudimentary machines, so being my own critic when it comes to range of motion has been a goal. Resetting the weight so you can do full range of motion to failure is ONLY GOING TO HELP you improve, don’t feel like you HAVE TO increase weight steadily. Get better form, that triggers growth.

That’s it for now, I think it’s been successful and the time commitment is the real winner here! Will continue through spring / summer and comment back if anything really changes. Take care everybody :slight_smile:

(Cywgdave) #38

I’ve been using the BBS method for a few years now, it’s the only resistance training method I’ve been able to stick with, I too found at the beginning that I would last too long on some of the exercises, I took that to mean that I wasn’t using enough weight. Sounds like you’re doing the same thing I did, doing it yourself without a trainer so you also have to figure out the weight you need by yourself as well. At the beginning I just slowly added weight until I got under 120s to failure. Took about a month or more to get the numbers dialed in. Now when I get over 120s I bump up the weight by 5-20lbs (depending on what muscle group I’m working- shoulders will get bumped up 5 lbs, leg press sometimes 20)]

Make sure you keep track of weight and time-to-failure, I didn’t and that made it longer to figure out what I needed for weight.

I’m not quite as rigorous and regular as I could be (oddball work shifts etc.) but after 4+ years I’m still seeing gains and still happy with the protocol.

Been going to the same gym most of the time so people aren’t staring at me all that much anymore. But in all that time, not one has asked what the he!! I’m doing…

(Gabe “No Dogma, Only Science Please!” ) #39

After 4 years of this, has there been a remarkable improvement in your metabolism and body shape? I’d ask the same of @toprate too.

I’m only really a month or 6 weeks into it, and I broke my toe 2 weeks ago so I’ve been unable to do leg press since then. It’s clear I’m getting stronger and I’ve made progress with weight/TUL with pretty good form. But I haven’t managed to stanch the fat gains I’ve been making, and the muscle increase in terms of weight is likely negligible. Proof: my weight is going steadily up, and my pants are tighter than before.

EDIT: By the way, I broke my toe specifically because I was doing outdoor cardio. I didn’t believe strength training alone was going to be sufficient to reverse the fat gain.

(CharleyD) #40

Read through this book on vacation recently. Looks promising!

Anyone else do everything solo? How finely do you manage the time recording of TUL?