OK - I'm Really Confused About Workouts

(Central Florida Bob ) #1

I’ve been reading pretty much all of the BFR and BBS stuff here on 2KD Forums - I know I’ve commented and discussed a few times.

I’ve read BBS and recently read Dr. Ben Bo’s “15 Minutes to Fitness”. Both of these are written by MDs, and are very specific in the workouts. Slow reps until failure, and a handful of exercises for the biggest muscle groups. I want to say both recommend failure in 8-10 reps. Then I read the last updates to the BFR articles that ends with talks and references to moving fast.

I’m not really happy with my workouts at home and I don’t know what to do to make it better. Both doctors’ books talk about the same basic mechanisms and feature that there’s minimum time working out. Dr. McGuff says about once a week while Dr. Ben recommends twice a week for 15 minutes. The average person seems to talk about every other day workouts.

I know myself well enough to know I don’t want to sign up for a gym to use the machines. I work out at home with some small dumbbells and a Bowflex we got 12 years ago. I do something like BBS, but I can’t increase the resistance until I reach failure in a minute, I just move slower. So I started measuring time under load as best I can. That has gone up but plateaued at 3-1/2 minutes, but is that the right thing to do?

I’m not feeling like I’m getting stronger. My emphasis is simply that - I want to be stronger. I don’t really care if I build up visible muscles, but as retiree I need to be able to handle the house and anything that comes up. Anything that needs to be moved or lifted is my responsibility. For instance, we buy 40 pound buckets of kitty litter that need to be moved around the house.

Last night I did as many reps of my upper body exercises as I could do in 60 seconds with less load than I was using before. My arms and upper body did feel like I got a good workout, but my bodyweight squats didn’t make me feel as weak and tired as doing them slowly for 3-1/2 minutes. I’m not sure what to make of this.

I guess what I’m looking for is ideas of how to construct a good strength-building workout. I’m most likely not interested in buying equipment, and I’m a bit concerned with safety since there’s no one to help if I drop something on myself. I’m not sure I can do bodyweight exercises for two reasons: I have an umbilical hernia, so exercises to strengthen my core are probably out, and I have arthritis in my hands which results in a weak grip and the inability to flatten my hands. For example, if I try to do pushups, my hand ends up sort of cupped on the floor as it hurts like mofo. I’ve seen bars that you grip like a handlebar to help with pushups but haven’t tried them to see how badly those hurt.

(Stephen Judd) #2

If you’re trying to figure out what to do, I try to think about the principal that you need to send a signal to your muscles that they are not capable of doing what you are asking them to do, and in response, your body will build more muscle protein that will result in strength and size gains.

BBS and super slow training focus on doing a single set of an exercise very slowly and with good form to the point of momentary muscular failure (MMF). By the time you reach MMF, all of the fibers in the working muscles will have been recruited/activated. The failure is the signal to your body to increase muscle protein synthesis.

BFR uses the combination of lighter weights and blood flow restriction to achieve the same level of fiber recruitment and failure. Since BFR uses lighter loads, it can be less stressful on the tendons and ligaments and allow for faster recovery, enabling BFR to be done more often.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been doing strictly bodyweight high intensity training following a routine developed by Drew Baye (baye.com) called Project Kratos. There are various adaptations for the exercises to adjust and progress difficulty level. He also describes timed static contractions (similar to isometrics) which are very effective if some of the exercises are not possible for you. You may want to check out his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/DrewBaye/videos

(Central Florida Bob ) #3

I’ve watched a couple of his videos so I at least know who he is.

Can you comment on what the workouts are like? Are you doing it once a week, every other day or something like an arm day and a leg day?

(Stephen Judd) #4

It took me a few times through the routine to get to where I’m reaching true momentary muscular failure. I alternate the two full body workouts, every four days for now. I’ll adjust the frequency based on my ability to recover, which I can only judge in retrospect, based on how I perform. Each workout takes around thirty minutes and leaves me wiped out. I don’t experience alot of delayed muscle soreness, but am not able to do as much, with the same intensity, if I do them more frequently.

(Ken) #5

All exercises work, as long as you reach the appropriate stimulus level for repair and growth.

The basic initial stimulus is when you reach the Lactic Acid level, when you start feeling the “Burn”. Stimulus can be increased to the point to when you experience Failure when doing the exercise.

What is actually happening is that some of the cells within the muscles are actually bursting, which then send out all the chemical messengers for repair and subsequent growth. First you make existing fiber stronger, after that happens you can experience Recruitment, which is the actual addition of more fibers.

(charlie3) #6

The first thing is patience. I recomend progress as long as possible, not fast as possible. 2 years ago I started with 1 set of 4 exercises 3 times a week. Currently I’m doing 1 set of 10 exercises 3 times a week. I also do low heart rate training every day. Walking is ideal if you have time for long walks. In those 2 years I got rid of 30 pounds of body fat then added back 14 lbs of muscle. Last year I walked 2 hours a day for 6 months and reduced resting heart rate 10 bpm. In the beginning you’ll make progress with almost anything you do. As time goes on you’ll make discoveries and do better. Patience.

(Central Florida Bob ) #7

I suppose my question comes down to the rate of progress and the way to get there. Like I said, I have every band on my Bowflex in use for all but one exercise (I use dumb bells for curls) so I can’t add resistance. All I can do is add time, and I wonder if it’s better to use lower resistance and move the bar faster or use more resistance and move slower. I don’t particularly like the idea of doing the same resistance for five minutes instead of one or two minutes. If I read McGuff and Dr. Ben correctly, doing more volume doesn’t make up for not being at a very high level of exertion.

Don’t know how familiar this will be but in the 1980s Greg Lemond was the first American; actually the first non-European, to win the Tour de France. Someone asked him how much training one has to do before it gets easier, and Greg’s answer was perfect: “It doesn’t get easier; you just go faster”

I’m probably wanting it to get easier. Change that to read, “It doesn’t get easier. You just lift more weight”


Which Bowflex do you have, and what’s the total weight on it? Many times the resistance on those things can be upgraded. Trying to get an idea for what I can recommend as far as workouts go. Also, don’t get hung up on all the science-y workout hacks, that’s all they are most of the time. Theirs always some truth to them and pieces you can take from them, but as a whole old school lifting techniques are proven to work. I’ve always had the best gains using periodization and microcycles.

1 week 12-15 reps
1 week 9-11 reps
1 week 6-8 reps
1 week 3-5 reps
and repeat, the weight should creep up even if just a little each time around or at least every couple.

As long as you’re hitting failure within your range you’re good. The weight will be different for everybody but that DOES work, it’s amazing how quickly our body will adapt to a workout routine. Many people are afraid to push themselves, knowing a hard limit is one thing, not pushing is another. Also, since you brought up not progressing what’s your protein intake look like and do you know what your LBM is?

I’ve seen Dr Ben’s stuff, and he LOOK’S like a guy who used to be in real good shape and now on the decline. If you watch some of his stuff over the years the people he trains many times look better than he does. Dr Doug McGuff is in good shape, but he also didn’t get where he is now from what he’s preaching. There is a LOT of this going on right now. People build it one way, then promote another.

Wanna listen to research that a guy with Dr in front of his name? Go with this guy!

I cycle around but I’ve ALWAYS put on measurable muscle with Jim Stoppani programs, EVERY time! Right now I’m doing a BAND workout of his until my home gym get’s delivered and it’s kicking the crap out of me! I’ve done every type of lifting from Bodybuilding, to Power Lifting, and for a cloudy time in my life Crossfit. He’s no joke.

(Stephen Judd) #9

How fast are you doing the reps now? Lower resistance and moving faster is almost certainly not the answer. I would target time under tension at 90-120 seconds. That may mean adding resistance or focusing on form, where you stay within the most difficult range of motion - for example, in a squat, never come up more than three quarters of the way.

(charlie3) #10

On youtube there are a lot of very good videos on bodyweight training. The people demonstrating practice what they preach and have impressive physiques. There is a learning curve with traditional weights and machines. The same goes for bodyweight exercises. Your main challenge is to avoid being too aggressive and ending up with an injury.

(Bunny) #11

I try not to work out (weights or physical exertion) too much because it can mimic calorie restriction so you have to keep readjusting how much you eat or your fat burning mechanism screech to a grinding halt.

If I don’t eat enough carbs with protein and fat I burn up muscle tissue; constantly lifting weights and that slows down my metabolism.

But that’s just how my body works.

(Central Florida Bob ) #12

The manual calls it a Bowflex Blaze, and we upgraded it by adding a resistance bar labelled 50 pounds on each side. Each side has bars that add up to 150 pounds by their labels. I was thinking about replacing the bars because the new 50 is noticeably stiffer than the old 50 on each side and they just don’t feel realistic.

One day I was confused about whether one side was actually 150 pounds so that if you used both sides like for a bench press the combined load was actually 300 pounds (which didn’t seem possible), or if with both sides it was 150. So I tried to measure it. I put both sides to 100 pounds and used my fishing scale to pull the bar down. It never quite made 50 pounds. I don’t see any other way to measure it, but that implies the actual resistance is 1/2 of what each side is labelled when you use both sides, and 1/4 if you just use one side. When I’m bench pressing the entire stack, it’s only 75 pounds.

I do most of the workout with one rep in 12-15 seconds, so when I do the 180-210 seconds time under load, three minutes is 12 to 14 and 3-1/2 adds another two, maybe three. I haven’t been counting reps. for several months, now.

I think I recall you saying at one time saying your goal was more to avoid injury than to gain as fast as possible. That’s my goal in bold italics. While more muscle is always good for metabolic health, my main motivation is that I pretty much have to do everything in the house that requires even a little bit of strength. While my wife is helpful, she just doesn’t add more than a few percent to what I can do.

I would never buy something like this Bowflex again, but I also see it has some good points - mostly I can’t drop a weight on myself and get stuck - or killed. Learning to live with it or improve it seems like the best option.

(Bunny) #13

Almost bought that one but after examining the different machines on the BOWFLEX sight it is all upper body resistance and not much in the way of legs which really turned me off because I’m more interested in leg workouts.

I may still get the blaze though.


According to the manual I found here https://download.nautilus.com/supportdocs/OM/Bowflex/BFX_Blaze_OM_RevB_web.pdf That thing has a pretty decent max capacity of 310lbs and 410lbs and comes stock with 210lbs.


The weight would be each side, you’d count it combined if doing a two arm exercise, just like a 225lb bench would (more or less) be 112lbs-ish on each arm. On single arm stuff you’d count it by itself.

If your rods aren’t doing their job anymore you should call Bowflex/Nautilus, they’re warrantied for life.

I seriously considered one of those as my gym replacement until the world goes back to normal, but went with a much more expensive, wife pissing off, room destroying option :sunglasses:

(Bunny) #15

Which kind did you get?

(Central Florida Bob ) #16

I haven’t used it in years, but the Blaze comes with attachments to do leg extensions and curls. The leg attachment is in the Amazon photos.

Hope that’s helpful.


I own the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE and I noticed that when doing bench press that the position of the pulleys has a big impact on the resistance. I noticed that for bench press I had to keep the pulleys at the widest position to get the most realistic resistance for that particular exercise. If they were at mid or narrow positions, I’d get far less resistance.

Hopefully that helps.

(Central Florida Bob ) #18

I started looking for replacement rods on Amazon, but not seen anything except the additional 50 pound rods we have. My manual doesn’t have the warranty in it, and I didn’t know these might be replaceable. Sounds like it’s worth contacting them.

rant mode on
The weak thing about the bowflex is that the rods are like springs. Springs follow something called Hooke’s law that means that the force to stretch (or compress) them isn’t constant but depends on how far you move them. As you do a bench press, for example, as the bar bends farther, it requires more force to push. Pushing out the last inch of your press takes more effort than the first inch, and if that bar is really 50 pounds of resistance, that’s only at the end of its bend. When you lift a barbell, that’s not the case; it weighs what it weighs.
rant mode off

Nautilus fans make a big deal of the shape of the cam determining the exactly right load for every amount of movement of a joint. I think that idea is out the window for a Bowflex.


Went with this


and this weight set


Figure I should be able to pull off most of my stuff with these, will have to move weights around a little as 300lbs isn’t much spread out but the only thing I do with more than that at once is deadlifts, but I’ll live. Too much money to buy a heavier set. Wanted to keep everything under $2k and just barely pulled it off as is. Can’t wait to rip up the carpet and put down the rubber floor HAH!


I don’t know exactly how that feels on the Bowflex, but to put a positive spin on that, putting chains and bands on barbells is done to achieve exactly that! Constantly upping the weight as you go into your strength curve. They used to have machines that mimicked that called overload machines but you don’t see them much anymore. I got my squats up years ago from chains for that reason. Plus is makes you feel like a badass doing it LOL!