The Women’s Book Vol 1 is Here!

The Women's Book CoverIn 2014, while working on a different book project, I realized that it was time to address a topic that I had been avoiding for quite some time, one that I had intended to examine but, due to the complexity involved, had so far avoided.

That topic was women’s physiology as it pertained to nutrition, fat loss, muscle gain and training.   And it was time to finally address it.  For almost the next 3 years I would dive into the research and physiology, realizing that the degree of complexity and the differences present between women and men were immense.  The deeper I delved, the more differences I found and what I thought would end up being a fairly short book started to turn into a tome.

The work was exhaustive and I’d end up having to pull out the training sections and divide the book into two volumes (Volume 2 will cover training and will be out, well….I don’t know when exactly).

After all of that.  After all of the research, and writing and editing (helped immensely by feedback from Eric Helms, who also contributed an appendix on peak week for physique athletes and making weight for weight class athletes), it was done.


At a staggering 438 pages, containing over 850 scientific references, the Women’s Book Vol 1 covers virtually every possible topic relevant to women’s nutrition, diet, fat loss or muscle gain in detail.   Background physiology on fuel use, fat storage and loss, stress, menstrual cycle function and more are all examined in detail.  Many of these topics are discussed within the context of how women and men differ physiologically.


Why do Leg Extensions Hurt So Much?

Ok, this is going to be one of my stupid, pointless, non-applied articles that I just need to write to get something out of my head (so unless you’re really interested in minutial trivia go read something else).  It’s also a way to actually update the site as I finish up getting ready to launch the Women’s book (no foolin’ this time, the book is done and it’s just some busywork to launch in the third week of January).

Question 1: Why do leg extensions hurt so much for high reps?  I mean locally hurt, the quads are screaming and hurt more than other similar movements done for similar reps.

Question 2: What do blood flow restriction (KAAATSUUUUUU!!!), speed skating and leg extensions have in common?

Read more to find out.

Blood Flow Restriction (BFR)

Ok, for the 3 people who don’t know what BFR is, it’s a relatively new method of training where you basically use pressure to reduce blood flow to the muscle and then use relatively light loads for training.  And research has generally found that it provides similar hypertrophy gains to muscle as heavier training and does so with lighter loads with various mechanisms being involved.  Please note that the size gains are, at best, identical but not greater.  And you don’t get the strength gains you’d get from lifting real weights since you aren’t training the neural components.

Now, BFR is nice in that it does reduce joint strain which can be fantastic if you have a joint injury or deliberately need to do such.

But it has drawbacks.  One is set up since you’re having to go to the trouble to get everything tied off.  I’m not sure the average trainee can get the pressure right since it tends to be pretty specific.  Cutting off blood flow to muscles is not a good thing.  Necrosis anybody?  And while excruciatingly minor in the big scheme, there are two case studies of rhabdomyolysis occurring with BFR.  Mind you, that’s a weekly occurrence for Crossfit.


Women’s Maximum Muscular Potential

Since the women’s book is actually nearing completion (I’m about halfway through editing the final draft), I figured it was time to post up another excerpt.    This is from Chapter 18 on Goal Setting and deals with women’s maximum muscular potential in terms of how much lean body mass (LBM)/muscle they might carry.

Now, I have addressed this in a previous article, presenting my own and other models although most had less to do with maximum potential and more with the amount of weight/muscle that might be gained during the first several years of training (added together these predict maximum potential).   The numbers were also based on men although I at least noted that women should realistically reduce the values by perhaps half

Martin Berkhan’s model was the only that really addressed maximum potential (based on height) and while he has updated it recently, he did not present data for women due to a lack of an adequate sample size.

And that is the topic that this excerpt addresses: a woman’s maximum potential LBM/muscle mass.


Gaining LBM

While the goal of gaining (or at least maintaining) LBM is an important one for all women, many readers of this book may only be interested in gaining relatively small amounts without huge consideration for the total amount that is or has been gained. The combination of proper resistance training with some basic changes in diet generally accomplishes this without difficulty or attention to many specifics. For that reason, this section will be aimed at those women who are deliberately trying to gain muscle. This could be the serious trainee simply trying to improve appearance, the physique athlete looking to optimize their physique for competition or the performance athlete attempting to gain muscle for performance reasons. In some cases, this might represent a relatively small amounts of muscle gain while in others, the goal might be to gain the maximum amount of muscle possible.


Cut the S#it Get Fit Podcast Interview

So about two weeks ago I did another epic podcast with Rafal Matuszewski of the Cut the S#it Get Fit Podcast.

We talked about an epic number of topics including but not limited to women’s health, nutrition, video games, virtual reality, plagiarism, writing books, research, weight loss, doctors, and more.  They are audio only so you don’t get to see my epic facial hair this time.

Since I am incapable of giving short answers, the total 2.5+ hours was cut into two parts.

Part 1 is below.


Revive Stronger Podcast: Refeeds Revisited

Back in 2004, I wrote a little book called A Guide to Flexible Dieting, basically arguing that being less extreme with a diet would work better.  Of course, nobody was ready to listen then although, in the last few years you can’t swing a dead cat without seeing a post or ebook about flexible dieting.  Sometimes folks even cite my work (in one case it was blatantly plagiarized but that’s a different story).  At least I’m not bitter.  I still don’t know why anybody would be swinging a dead cat around but that’s a topic I’ll have to look into at a later date.

In any case, among other concepts (and make no mistake, I did not invent these concepts for the most part, I think I was simply the first to really formalize them) I discussed what I call a refeed.  This refers to a period of deliberate high-carbohydrate intake that has several goals including refilling muscle glycogen stores to support high-intensity training, allow a psychological break from the diet (as certain usually off diet foods are allow) and, more hopefully, to reset some of the hormonal and metabolic adaptations that occur in response to dieting.

In the original book, I described refeeds lasting 5 hours, 1 day and 2 days in duration with recommendations for each being given based on such factors as initial body fat percentage, size of calorie deficit and the amount of training being done.   I also recommended them more or less across the board for all dieters.

Well it’s 13 years later and, as one would hope, some of my thoughts on the topic have changed to at least some degree.  More research is available, I’ve gotten more experience and feedback with people, at least some of my research for the women’s book (currently being edited) ties into this.  And this was the topic of the podcast with Steve Hall.

For just over an hour (this was short for me since I actually stayed on topic), we discuss any and all topics related to refeeds. How long, how often, for whom, what and how much to eat, etc.  This represents my most current thoughts on the topic.

The podcast can be heard on Itunes here.