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Let John Little help you make the most of the time you spend doing resistance training. On this episode, John and I talk about his book, The Time Saver's Workout.
Allan: 02:45 John, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
John: 02:48 Thank you Allan. Pleasure to be here.
Allan: 02:50 I'm really excited to have you here. Uh, you know, I had Dr. McGuff on to talk about some of his books, including Body By Science. When I was first doing my first interviews. I was usually kind of a little star struck when I met him the first time. And I'll have to admit just, you know, reading your books, I'm a little star struck talking to you too.
John: 03:08 Well no need for that, Doug. I can understand. Yeah, I consider Doug one of the brightest minds in exercise science.
Allan: 03:15 And I think you are too. That's you know, it's just, based on the research that you've done. I mean, I, you know, you've, this is a very well researched book. We're talking about The Time Savers Workout, which I think is actually pretty cool because most of us, if you ask people why they're not working out, they'll say most of the time they'll say, I don't have time. So giving us the workout that is, I guess biohackers like to call the minimum viable dose is really, really cool.
John: 03:43 Oh, well thanks. Well, I mean it in, from my vantage point, I just think the most valuable commodity in our lives is time. Once spent, it's irretrievable, you can't get it back and nobody on their death bed is going to say, Geez, I wish I'd spend more time in the gym because life offers way more than, you know, what a gym does is that the purpose of a workout really is to be an adjunct to your life, not the reason for it. And so, you know, doing any more than is minimally required, seems to me time that could be better spent.
Allan: 04:17 Yeah. I know when I was, I was in my twenties and you know, in college I Kinda had this time like, so I'd, I'd finished my final class, you know, around 1/1 30 and then I would go to the gym and I'd get my workout done and then I would just sort of hang out. And typically it was the owner would say, Hey Allan, you know you're going to be here for another hour I know, I'm going to get my lunch. You know, just if you're okay to hang around, that'd be cool. And I'd hang around eventually just started, give me the gym membership for free cause I would do that stuff for him. But I loved being in the gym. You know it was fun. I had a lot of friends there and it was really cool. But like you said, now I'm kind of a little bit more time restraint sometimes. And I go into the gym and it's funny because you'll walk into the gym and the folks who are working out typically just doing, you know, the, the arms, you know like I'll see someone workout and I'll go in and do a full body workout and leave. And they're still, they're still working those little bycepts.
John: 05:14 Yeah. Oh for sure. For sure. Well I think back when you and I, because we are approximately the same age had started training. It was like a cause celeb that we were behind. We wanted it to be bigger and stronger individuals, you know, in the worship of muscle was the church. And uh, anyone who was in gym was a compadre, you know, we were, we were all part of the same belief and put a value on looking like professional bodybuilders that uh, you know, and looking back was probably uh, misplaced, but that at the time it fueled our young imaginations. That's what we wanted to do. And every hour we could spend in a gym or among people that shared our belief was we might learn something or it might advance us a little closer toward our goal. And I think eventually over time and after banging your head against a brick wall in terms of and arrested development, that is not progressing despite the efforts, many of us began looking for another way.
We didn't want to give up the cause entirely, but eventually we kind of recognize that, well, maybe what we were told wasn't completely true and well that maybe, you know, you know, our diligence and the money that we throw out the window every month on supplements and protein powders in order to achieve this look, that was never going to come. Maybe we'd been duped. And consequently, I think a lot of people who were of our antiquity probably just wash their hands of the enterprise at a certain point in their lives and either, you know, in despair stopped doing anything like that or, or went into some other form of activity that was at least enjoyable and didn't promise unrealistic rewards for their time. And so certainly in my case, I was lucky too recognize that there was an alternative out there. And that was mainly through the influence of people like Mike Metzler and people that said as much, you know, that, you know, number one, you're never going to look like, you know, a champion bodybuilder. It's not the genes, but number two, there's still a lot to be gained from this enterprise. And so my interest, especially as I got older, shifted more onto the benefits that proper resistance training could impart to a person as opposed to the cosmetic component.
Allan: 07:30 Yeah. You know, I've talked to a lot of people in a, in a, and I've even in my book I kind of said, you know, when I talked to you about fitness, when I say fitness, you know, I'm not, I'm no longer talking about the kind of fitness that you want to be a professional hockey player or you that you want to be Arnold Schwarzenegger or that that's what you've kind of, you fitness to me, fitness now, once we get over 40 should be more about living the life that you want to live. And I think anyways, resistance training is an absolute imperative for us to do that.
John: 08:04 Yeah. To be able to do the things that you enjoy doing. The things that give your life, meaning. You have to be strong enough to, you know, to be able to do them. And the natural process of, of aging is entropy. You know, we're going to lose fibers, not lose them, but downsize them to the point where we can lose the ability to use them. And that suddenly restricts the circle in which we can move in terms of things we can do. So anything we can do to keep that balloon in the air in terms of full fiber health and function for as long as possible is a step in the right direction because it's coming down. You know, it's just, that's the natural, you know, entropy of human existence. You know, when you're born you're kind of, it's kind of like a bullet that shot in the air and it reaches the peak height at about age 25, but then it starts to return to earth and, um, you know, up until 25, you know, you've got bigger and stronger just as part of the natural growth process.
And so you would have gotten bigger and stronger by taking garbage out every week. Didn't really matter what you did. But, um, once you pass a certain age, typically once we exit our twenties, our body becomes like a very stingy board of directors and they want to know why they're investing this energy into keeping these muscle fibers preserved and hanging around that you simply never use. I mean the fight or flight fibers, the fast twitch fibers, the ones coincidentally that happened to have the greatest potential for the size increase that infect that affect our health the most dramatically are the first to go typically because cost the body the most energy to keep them on the payroll. So if you autopsy a 90 year old, you're going to find slow twitch fibers that are very well preserved, but the intermediate fast twitch are going to be decomposed at an alarming rate unless you do something to convince your body to keep them.
Allan: 09:54 Yeah, I know I was, I was reading a study and they had done um, some biopsies of older runners, you know, runners that had run their whole lives. They compared those two active runners in their twenties and thirties and found that from a, you know, from the, like you said, the, the fast twitch muscles, I got that right. Slow twitch muscles. I guess they retain those and they literally their look. So from a, from a muscular perspective, they had stayed very similar and the same can actually be said for people that do resistance training. Right?
John: 10:28 Right. Yeah. I mean that if you do a type of resistance training that calls upon fast twitch fibers and intermediate twitch fibers, you will preserve them. They're still going to be a loss. There's just, you can't buck up against nature, you know, and definitely, but, you know, whatever it can be done to preserve them, we'll preserve them and the thing that can be done to preserve them as to use them to give your body a reason to keep them on the payroll and uh, you know, otherwise, the natural course of things is simply to downsize them. Um, so when you do a type of resistance training, the cool thing about resistance training is that it hits all three classes of fibers, generally speaking, it gets slow twitch, intermediate twitch and fast twitch. And so your body is given a very strong prompt to hold onto those despite the aging process. And I think that's very important, not only for our functional ability but also for our metabolic health because each of those fibers contain metabolic pathways that he rode with the muscle. If you don't do something to preserve them.
Allan: 11:24 Now, one of the things that I think a lot of people struggle with is that they go in the gym and there they get a program. And here's a program where they see all the images, you know, the before and after, before and after. Uh, and some of those that are before and after, they're, they're in their forties and 50s, and you see them, they kind of put on a good amount of muscle, but someone else will do the same program and not quite get the same results. And you kind of talk about in the book about how we kind of each have our own individual response to how things work.
John: 11:57 Right? Absolutely. And there was a study that I quoted by a physiologist named Van Etten. And what was interesting about this is they had two groups. One that was mesomorphic are quite muscular and the other thinner ectomorphic and they put them on an identical exercise program for a period of 12 weeks. And then they monitored the results. And at the end of the study it was discovered that the mesomorphic or the group that was muscular before the workout experienced significant gains in muscle mass while the ectomorphic group experience no significant improvement at all. You know, so the takeaway from that is those who are inordinately muscular to begin with who have that genetic gift will gain size and strength from the bodybuilding efforts to a much greater extent. Then those who are not, you know, who don't share that morphology.
And of course the bodybuilding industry ignores this, But it also looks, when we think back on our early training careers, and you mentioned Arnold, I mean he was the guy, right? So we went into the gym and we bought Arnold's book, the education of a body builder. And we followed his program as best we could. We never got Arnold like results. But if you look at a picture of Arnold when he was 18 or 17, I mean we would have been happy to look like that, you know, when he started. But um, you know, it just isn't in the genetic cards. So to ape, you know, a popular bodybuilders program, the very fact that you're looking to look different than you do with strongly suggest that you don't have the genes to look the way that you want.
Otherwise even a little bit of training would suggest that potential. So, you know, anytime you see a bodybuilding magazine, and I used to write for bodybuilding magazines, the articles in there really have zero application to you, zero. So, and it's like trying to copy an Olympic athletes training program. You know, good luck with that. I remember Mike Mansour, who was perhaps the most honest bodybuilder I ever encountered in my career saying, you know, someone had asked him that, Sarah had mentioned that Roy Callender, who was another famous bodybuilder who is known for his density of muscles, that he did something like a hundred sets for his chest. And Mike said, well you try doing a hundred sets for your chest and see what happens. He said, you'll end up looking like a jockey. He said, because most of these bodybuilders would look like jockeys were not for the amount of steroids and take, and that was never discussed in the magazines really back in the day.
But genetics are the big ones. They are what will determine how much muscle, if that's your interest you can put on and it determines everything else from your height to your hair color. I mean it is the, you know, the Great Oz. It's the one that makes the, you know, the declaration as to how far you can go. And for most of us, we're going to bump up against our genetic potential in terms of muscle size, which is a more discernible, easily discernible indices of potential, usually within a year, at the most two years of training. And it's interesting being older now, my sons have friends who were at the age I was when I got into bodybuilding or in the strength training and the friends are into it and you can see it, you know, a real difference in their physique over the course of one year, maybe even a year and a half.
And then boom, that's the end of the road. And they're frustrated because, you know, their first year of training, they were experiencing this transformational benefit cosmetically of doing these workouts. Muscles were big, muscles became bigger and as a result, they're metabolic rates. Increased body fats tended to come off the body a little easier and they want to keep it going. And I recognize that as, you know, an attitude that was president of myself at that age, but it doesn't, and then they started looking for other things that can help them. You know, maybe they need more protein, maybe they, they need to change their program to one more closely resembling that of a, a bigger type of bodybuilder, but they're not going to get any bigger. And you've been around long enough to know that you've probably observed the same phenomenon. It just, there is a genetic cap that's put on these things. We don't know what it is ahead of time, but we do know that the, the best gains most of us ever had were first year of training, you know, serious strategy.
Allan: 15:58 Or after that coming back, I mean if you, if you trained as a, you know, when you were in your 20s or 30s and you, maybe you got untrained because you just, you know, life got in the way. Like with me, when I came back in the gym, it was like, okay, boom. You know, things looked really, really good. And then like you said, it Kinda plateaued. So you'd go to the trainer and said, okay, you know what, let's mix this up. Let's try something different. But yeah, general sense. You could refine it a little bit, but you just really couldn't go beyond that, that line.
John: 16:28 Well, you can't transcend. Yeah. You can't transcend it. So the thing is you, you go to training for a while, your muscles be conditioned, they atrophy, you get back into training, they come back again and you notice the difference. But you know, as far as some of these older guys that appear in the magazines, I mean, it's clear that there's some chemical enhancement going on there. Uh, you know, no, 65 year old has 2% body fat and a 17 in chart, you know, and suddenly built at age 60, you know? Yeah. I mean, it just doesn't happen unless you're, and the thing is steroids are an interesting thing. It's not that dissimilar for, or from what they know, you know, euphemistically called testosterone replacement therapy. You're still getting synthetic exogenous hormones put in your body. You know, you're not producing. And the problem is that nobody knows what the long term ramifications of this is.
I mean, most of the bodybuilders that I grew up being fans of in the 70s are either dead or have had serious coronary problems. And because there's never been studies done on steroids long term because they were originally not intended to be used for cosmetic purposes cause they were used to treat burn victims, you know, to facilitate the production of tissues. But then we found out, you know, about this great muscle building component and that became the priority. But there was never longterm studies done to know what the problems are. I mean step and think after, you know, several hundred thousand years of evolution, maybe there's a reason that's 70 year old guys aren't producing the same level of testosterone they did it 17 you know, and when we know that if someone gets certain types of cancers, the first thing doctors will do is, is try and cut out any testosterone in the body at all because that causes the cancers to spread, to metastasize.
So there's tumors that can be awakened in your body, let's say from certain endocrine responses that may not be, you know, a good thing to awaken. We don't know. We're kind of, we're playing with nature a little bit with that. But like I say, there's, there's probably a reason after all these years of evolution, that our bodies tend to reduce testosterone production. So when I see a guy in a magazine who claims to be whatever, 70 years old and he's got he's got a physique that more closely resembles that of a steroids taking 20 year old, that doesn't impress me, that tells me, hey, I have a very insecure seven year old who, who thinks you know that life is all about from the neck down. You know, you don't see pictures of these guys writing novels. You don't see pictures of them painting great paintings or, or composing music.
They just sit there and in a speedo and say, look at me. And that's the extent of their, you know, their enthusiasm for life. I knew a guy in California, he used to hang on to Joe Leader's office quite a bit and uh, he always claimed to be older than he was. And because he thought he looked more impressive physically. If he told people he was 75 or whatever, he was maybe late sixties but heavy steroid user and would be open about it and say how great he looked. And uh, and then, you know, it wasn't enough that he was married. He had to try and impress younger women. And I mean, nothing the guy said appealed to me at all. I didn't find them cool. I didn't find them. Uh, oh Geez, I want to be like this guy. I mean, to me, you know, the fake 10, the capped teeth, the perfectly quaffed hair and fake muscles, basically. It's Arthur Jones old line about a little boy in a gorilla suit. And this was an old man in a gorilla suit and the gorilla suit wasn't that big to begin with.
Allan: 20:02 Yeah, I think the key of it is, and you know, and that's what I really like about the listeners of this I have on the show, is they're not looking for necessarily the vanity look, they're not going for that approach. This truly is about wellness and what can we do and how can we use resistance training to enhance our wellness? And one of the concepts that you had in the book that I think is really, really important for us to understand is this conservation of energy and how that impacts how our muscles grow or how we lose weight. Can you kind of talk through a little bit of this cconservation of energy and our bodies kind of do that?
John: 20:42 Yeah. Well, it's a funny phenomenon. I've labeled it the conservation of energy phenomenon or CEP just so I can have a moniker for it, but it's just the natural course of action of the body to conserve energy every step of the way. Energy is one of the most vital resources that we have apart from air and water for without it, we die. So very early on in our species history, our bodies discerned to means by which it would learn to control the amount of energy that it was outputting from the body for any tasks that we have to undertake. Since all of the tasks were muscular in nature, therefore impacted the muscular system. So you can, for example, the most common example I use is the first time you ever drove a standard automobile standard trans mission. It was exhausting. You know, every muscle group was fully engaged and as well as your consciousness, as you check the mirrors and your work to clutch and the shift and the brake and the gas, that by the time you finished your first session learning how to drive a standard automobile, you were exhausted.
But then fast forward, you know, about a month or two and you find yourself zip and down the highway changing gears while you're changing the radio. It's effortless. And it's, it's not that the, you know, the first time you did it, that was a real workout, but it felt like it. But later what happened was your body recognized that it over mobilized its forces. It used way more muscle fibers and thus way more energy than a required in order to to accomplish this task that you've set before that of changing gears and working the clutch. So over time it learned to pull back and just use the precise amount of fibers at the precise time that they were required rather than all together at once. And consequently, your heart and lungs and your metabolic system where no longer servicing 100% of the tissue they use, they were two months previously when you first started, maybe it was on the order now of 15% so it's not nearly as demanding.
But then I could see that application to every physical activity we did. For example, runners who let's say in the northeast when the snow comes, they have to run indoors on a treadmill cause they don't wanna run on the ice. So they, you know, tick along on their treadmills and they believe their cardiovascular systems in pretty good shape. And then the snow goes away in the spring and they say, okay, time to run on the road. Well, invariably their first road run feels like they've never run before in their lives. You know, their hearts going like a trip hammer their sweating, pouring sweat through their chest is heaving. Their muscles ache for days after the first run. But they do it again just like the guy in the standard automobile and they do it again and they do it again and they do it again. And Lo and behold, that same route run at the same speed. You know, less than a month later. It's effortless. The older pulse rates barely leaving a baseline. They're not no nearly as sore, they're not breathing nearly as heavy. And they pat themselves on the back saying, I've really improved my cardiovascular system. Well, no. What happened was the CEP stepped in again. So now, you know, rather than the first time running where your heart ones, we're servicing the working 100% of the tissue. Maybe now it's on the order of 25% maybe less. So of course your pulse rates are not going to be driven up. You know, of course the amount of fibers brought into play won't be as much. But now I see it in everything. I see it in everything we do from lifting a Coffee Cup to working out and the body's means of conserving energy.
And they did a fascinating study that I cite in the book where they tested the calorie burn or the energy of people walking and they got a value of that. And then they put them in an exoskeleton or a mechanical suit that altered their gait to the way their, their strides so that it was more demanding, was a little more challenging and to nobody's surprise, they burn more calories. But the very next time they put on the Exoskeleton, they were right back to the calories that they were burning before the body have made the adaptation. So it occurs, you know, probably quicker than we think. But you can see that that has preservation value.
We kind of have two things that are hardwired into our consciousness with regard, maybe even to our DNA as regard to energy. And one is if you come upon energy, consume it because it may not be there tomorrow. And the second one is if you don't have to output a lot of energy, don't because you may not get it back out of your environment. Now this has a lifesaving value to the species such as ours that live for eons in a environment of food scale because it'll allowed us to conserve energy until we got to an area where there may be a little more food to sustain us. But the only thing that's changed does not our biology over this time, but our, our environment, I mean we now live in an environment of food abundance. Consequently these two impulses are still at play. So if there's energy, we opt to consume it. And there's still almost a primal fear that you know, it may not be there tomorrow. And the other thing is when it comes to exercise, all of us instinctively load high energy output activity.
And it could simply be because there's a part of our biology, it says you may not get that back. You know, don't work quite so hard, especially if you don't have to. So given that most people aren't physiologists, they don't know the workings of the body when they hit their forties I think, Geez, something's changed. Like I just saw a snapshot of me on holiday and I look like a beached whale. I've got to do something. I've lost whatever. You know, I used to be strong, I used to have muscle, I want to get that back so they know they have to do something psychologically. But the biology says, and I don't like this all out, you know, effort in the gym. That's a, it would be like, you know, running hurdles on the track. It's not a pleasant activity, but it's that type of activity that is necessary to activate and engage and stimulate and thus preserve those three classes of muscle fibers.
If you can do something that our psyches like, like going for a walk, you're only gonna use slow twitch fibers and over time you send a message to your body that the other two classes of fiber are dead weight because you're not using them. So it hastens their deterioration. So it's important to do a type of activity that we might initially perceive as being unpleasant in terms of its effect. Lactic acid burns, not pleasant breathing heavily, is not, it's not pleasant, but they there, it's just basically getting comfortable with your biology. You know, the heavy breathing and the lactic acidosis is simply a byproduct. It's the exhaust system of fast twitch fibers. So the more comfortable you get with your biology and you recognize there's nothing threatening going on, you know, the healthier you will be and the easier it is to train in a manner that is necessary to preserve all of those fibers and the metabolic functions.
Allan: 27:26 And that's what I really liked about this was when you kind of got into it and I was thinking, you know, most people are looking at resistance training and saying, okay, well this is going to get me stronger. This is going to improve my bone density. I may gain some muscle mass. But it goes well beyond that in that if you're training appropriately with resistance training, as you mentioned in the book with what you call the high energy output, you are tapping into your glycogen stores through all three types of muscle fiber and as a result you're actually setting yourself up to be metabolically advantage. So if you're struggling with high blood sugar like prediabetes or diabetes, if you're struggling with weight gain, that actually resistance exercise done the right way can actually go a long way towards helping you with taht.
John: 28:16 Oh absolutely. More so than any other activity really. And that is probably the only reason, apart from safety considerations, that resistance training moves to the form. It comes from the front of the line, those the preferred form of exercise, number one, it's a low force and if you run, you've got anywhere from three to five times body weight coming down on the joints with a single foot, you know when you're running. And then you also have the other issue that every time you do an activity, be at weight training, running, lifting a coffee cup. It's like a rope going over the face of a rock in terms of joints and where in terror. Now the hinge joints in your knees or the hinge joints and your elbows are not that dissimilar from the hinge joints in a door. In that they have a lifetime of normal use built into them, exceed that normal use quantity and your on a fast track to a replacement.
So when someone goes out for a bicycle ride, let's say, which was a seemingly innocuous activity, at the very least, they're going to open and close the hinge joints in their knees 10,000 times at the very least. So it's not that dissimilar to going to your door and opening and closing at 10,000 times over and above the normal use of that door. And if you do it three or four days a week, you've got a multiplier to put on it as well. So it's not a coincidence that people who are heavily involved in athletics, for example, and have, you know, two or three practices a week and maybe one or two games a week through a varsity career or high school and college, all of them end up arthritic. I can't think of anyone I knew who was on the varsity football team or hockey team that now has either had a knee or hip replacement or severe arthritis.
And it's overused and I think the earlier we're cognizant of this in our lives, the less problems we're going to have down the road. The benefit from exercise comes from a deep fatiguing of the muscles. That's the prompt cause the body to make an adaptation, whether it's in terms of endurance, which essentially is more glycogen storage and a muscle or strength in a muscle and you know, shy of that. There's not really a hell of a lot more you can get out of exercise anyway. So when people say, well, I'm going to do this for my cardiovascular system as if running for example, you know, the muscles involved in running where somehow divorced from resistance training or when you do resistance training. But the problem with that is when the CEP kicks in, you now have to change that running program in order to get the same benefit, the same stimulus, same effect, same fiber involved.
And that typically equates to running greater distances so now or cycling greater distances. So in the case of the cyclist, those 10,000 opening and closings now have to be extended to 20,000 to 30,000 to 50,000. And so that rock or sorry that rope goes over that rock face that many more times. And again, all to reach the end goal, which is to fatigue the muscles meaningfully enough that the body produces a positive adaptive response. And that's, that's what it is. If you think about, um, the best example of fiber recruitment stimulation and the effect would be cycling. Again, if you're cycling on the flat, and let's say you went out with a buddy, you could converse for as long as you want it to, an hour, hour and a half back and forth while you're riding on a flat surface because you're only using slow twitch fibers. You're not even really aware of your legs moving.
But then you come into a hill and as you start to go up the hill gravity, and I'll start to pull you back the other way. So the muscles have to work harder, uh, to keep you moving upward or up to grade. And consequently, at some point at the lower base of the hill, you begin to feel something's going on metabolically in my muscles, now I'm aware of it. Maybe we're not going to converse at quite the same rate that we were prior to this. But you continue on and as you get closer to the summit, your legs are on fire. You know, you're breathing very heavily. You all, you have to stand up now because it's very difficult to complete the revolutions of the pedals and maybe even you have to stop and get off the bike and walk it up the rest of the way.
But once you, once you do that, you notice that your breathing continues the heavy breathing for a protracted period, there's a tremendous cardiovascular stimulation far greater than what you had for writing for an hour on the flat surface, just from maybe 30 seconds to a minute of demanding muscular work, high energy output, muscular works. And so with resistance training we can manipulate certain variables. The load, the time of the muscle's underload and we can also control the forces, which is very important for our joint hill. But you know, when you finish a proper set of squats or leg presses or whatever lower body exercise you choose to do, it should feel like you just rode your bike to the summit of that hill from a cardiovascular and metabolic standpoint.
Allan: 33:01 Yeah. As I was getting into that part of the book, I was thinking, okay, well you're kind of talking about high intensity interval training, but I guess the problem with high intensity interval training is typically there's also the forces involved. But when you go to the resistance training, you're able to control the force.
John: 33:17 Well, right? I mean in high intensity interval training, there's lots of ways you can do it. Typically it's done on a a bicycle or a stationary bike. At least that's what most of the studies have been done on because it's easier to test vo two Max and things like that in a controlled environment. But, uh, you know, when you pull back big enough and take a more macro view of things, you see that in both cases it's demanding muscular work and resistance training. I mean, that could be another definition for it as demanding muscular work. And so the more demanding the muscular work you do, the brewery for your such exposure to that type of work has to be, and that's simply because you run through fibers at a quicker rate and you exhaust them just like the, you know, the faster you run, the less distance you can run.
So demanding muscular work is good and it gives us the benefit that we touched on at the beginning of freeing up more time. You don't have to be riding your bike for four hours, three or four days a week because of getting all of our, all of our adaptations are fixed. They're kept, and that includes cardiovascular adaptations. That's why not all of us can be Lance Armstrong's, we just don't have that genetic fifth year that lance had that allowed them to excel in cycling. He's perhaps not our best example because lance took a lot of other things as well to become a great cyclist. But genetically he had the [inaudible] to be an exceptional cyclist. You before he veered off into chemicals and other peoplehave that gift to be great Hockey players. The best example of that would be, I think I mentioned the book is Wayne Gretzky. He is bar none, the greatest hockey player in history because of the amount of records that he set.
And let's say you've been studying physiology and exercise science for 30 years, and the parent comes to you and says, Allan, I want you to train my son for hockey. I want you to get on as strong as possible because he's going to be playing a midget level hockey next year and you'll see you okay, I can share with them what I know. But right after he leaves, he gets a phone call from Wayne Gretzky says, Hey, I'll train your kid. Who's it going to go with? Most parents are going to go with the athlete because he knows this guy's been there. He's got the trip, the tips and secrets to make them a superstar. So interestingly enough, Wayne Gretzky was made the head coach of the Phoenix coyotes team in the NHL some years back, and he was the head coach for a period of five years.
So for five years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each of those players had the full benefit of his wisdom, his whatever tips and secrets Wayne Gretzky had to impart, and they finished dead last every one of those years and didn't produce one player of the caliber of Wayne Gretzky, which tells me at least Wayne had a gift. It was genetics. He can't tell you why he was the greatest hockey player in the world. It just worked out for him. You know, uh, just happened to be that way. He had the right genes to excel in the sport of hockey, whereas most, most people don't, which is why most people never make it to the NHL level, let alone, uh, you know, shatter all the records in the NHL. But you can see that right across the board that in athletics,
Allan: 36:19 When I was playing football, you know, you had Herschel Walker and walks out and he's just this huge specimen of a man and you're like, holy crap, what is he doing? You know? He's like, what is he doing? I want to do what he does. He's, he's just doing pushups and sit ups. Yup. And you're like, he had the gift. I could do pushups and sit ups, you know, kind of look like that. I'm not going to be that fast. I'm not going to be that strong. You know, there's just, yeah, there's just some aspect, he doesn't know what it's like to be a little guy.
John: 36:52 Well, and the reality is, I mean, whether you're Herschel Walker's coach or Wayne Gretzky's peewee coach. I mean he trained and played his players exactly all the same. And, and yet Wayne Gretzky came out of that. So if you wanted to hang up a shingle and say, you know, send your kid to me. I trained Wayne Gretzky in peewee and look where he is now. He probably would have made a lot of money, but the reality is everybody that trained in the same way that Wayne Gretzky did went nowhere on his peewee team. So it's just, it's these guys falling through the genetic cracks that excel because they have this genetic gift. Herschel Walker is a perfect example. Bo Jackson was another example. Jim Brown before him was another phenom who just had the genetics to be an exceptional football player. And these are the ones that make it to the top. And it's the very fact that they are exceptional. That is far different from the norm that has caught our attention in the first place and what distances them from ourselves. They are how we would love to be, but we won't be well, you know, we'd like to entertain that thought as long as possible because who would want to be Herschel Walker?
Allan: 37:58 But you know, I came back to kind of what we can be, you know, cause we're, we're all now well past that point.
John: 38:06 Welcome to the club.
Allan: 38:07 Yeah. Uh, even thinking that's possible. But I do want to get into this because you've, you've got some training protocols in the book and I really want to help someone understand how when we talk about this deep fatigue or you know, the high energy output. How does that relate to a workout? And then why does that then result in us spending actually less time in the gym.
John: 38:32 Will you spend less time in the gym because of the nature of how the programs are engineered. Number one, you want to use all three classes of fibers and we want to do what's called a sequential recruitment, which means you go from a slow twitch to intermediate twitch the fast twitch and for that to happen, there has to be a meaningful load imposed upon the muscles so that it doesn't, all the work isn't done by slow twitch fibers if the weight is too light. Since we have a type of fiber slow twitch, which is very slow to fatigue and very quick to recover, they're the same fibers you use on a walk, for example. It's very easy for the fibers that you initiated the exercise with to recover. By the time you've completed a certain amount of repetitions and therefore you never break out of that cycle.
It's slow twitch, slow twitch, slow twitch, slow twitch, but the load is meaningful. That's like you ride in the bike up the hill. Now you're, you're going through these fibers at a rate quicker than they can recover at and the body has no choice but to recruit the next order of fibers in line. So we move on to the intermediate twitch and have those fatigue out before the slow twitch fibers that you started with fatigue out. Then we'll move onto the final class, which is fast twitch and that's where you'll notice, you know the difference in respiration and the burn and, and all of these things. So the protocols are, because they're demanding because they cycled through fibers at a quicker rate. You're basically out of gas after about a minute and a half to two minutes of work. So it's, it's like you starting your, your bike ride up the hill halfway up the hill, you're just flipping off the hour you did on the flat, which didn't really do much except recycled slow twitch fibers.
But there are also done with an eye toward minimizing wear and tear or opening and closing of the joints. One protocol in the book, which is called done in one requires, but one repetition just performed incredibly slowly and can take up to two minutes to complete, you know, a full extension and contraction of a muscle. Other protocols such as the Max Pyramid will burn you out really quickly and in fact is so demanding that you might not need, need more than two exercises in a given workout to reap the full benefit because you simply won't have, you'll want to give 100% but you won't have 100% left to give for a third exercise let's say. And the protocol that I tend to start most people with is, is an old one and um, you know, went back to the 1940s. It was designed by the physiologist Forman Watkins.
And the reason I put it in there, it's because it's time tested. It's probably put more muscle on more people than any other protocol combined. And indeed I would venture to say that most other protocols since then have been footnotes to Dolores and Watkins method and it's pretty standard. It's three sets, approximately 10 reps per set is very light and as strictly a warm up that utilizes some slow twitch fibers. Second set is heavier, it uses what's left of your slow twitch and uh, some intermediate twitch. But then the third sets, the work set, it's the one that allows you to incorporate or to activate all three classes of muscle fiber. And so it's just three sets of 10. That's most basic fundamental training protocol and the history of resistance training.
Allan: 41:44 Yeah. And you, and you can pretty much do these with just some full body exercises like the, the dead lift the leg press, the squat, bench press, overhead press. And in a sense you'll get a full body compound movement workout with three to four exercises. And you know, if you're doing that and you're not taking big long rests between this and then basically you can get through a workout and you know, less than 20 minutes
John: 42:09 For sure. Oh, for sure. Yeah. Most of our clients don't, uh, worked out longer than 12 minutes and that's, that's at the high end. Some that some can be as low as six, but the idea really isn't to look at a clock to see whether or not you exhausted your muscles. You're gonna know if you've exhausted them by the effort you've put forth. And we keep progress charts and notes so that you know there is no waste of time. We know what weights you can use and we know, you know how long in the case of using a stopwatch you can sustain that contraction or how many repetitions you can perform so that when you come in the next week, we know exactly where to where to start just so you're not wasting any time and I think that again, time is such a big thing.
We don't think of it an exercise because we know we're used to seeing people get better by doing something more. You know, you got better at the piano by practicing more, you get better at stick handling in hockey by practicing more. You know, all of these things require more time to lay down certain neural pathways to perfect a skillset. But conditioning training is a completely different animal. It's not a skill set, although there's some motor learning involved. It is. It is a metabolically demanding high energy output activity. And when you're tapping fiber such as the fast twitch fibers, you know, they were not, you know, they're not on our bodies as a, as something that, uh, we needed to use on a daily basis when you, our ancestors didn't have fight or flight situations imposed upon them, you know, every day from 11 until two, you know, like people at the gym, these were sporadic occurrences maybe every seven to 10 days.
And consequently our body's never evolved. A means by which the fast twitch fibers or the fight or flight fibers required a really quick recuperation before they can be brought into service again. And so they don't, it takes time for those fibers to recover. And it takes time for those fibers to adapt and slow twitch fibers and fast twitch fibers do not share the same recovery profile. So while you can go for a walk for an hour using slow twitch fibers and upon your return home you could probably go out for a walk again because you've recovered from that very low. You know, it's not a high energy output activity, but you do a set of reasonably heavy squats to the point of muscular failure where you can complete another rep, try and do another set right away. You won't have the inclination, all of your energy and resources have been called upon at a very, very high level. And then you just have to give your body and nature, if you will, time to make the necessary adjustments. So the next time you perform such an exercise in such a fashion that's not nearly as demanding physiologically as it was the last time you did it.
Allan: 44:49 Yeah. That's one of the beginner questions I get all the time is should I just do the same workout every day? And I'm like, no. If you did it right the first day, you don't want to do it the next couple of days.
John: 45:00 And you don't want to do it again until you really have to. I mean there's two factors. One, the immediate after effect of a workout is a depletion. You get weaker. Energy was used up, glycogen was burned up, which is an energy selling them in a muscle and in some cases fibers or damage. So when that happens, you're not, you're not looking to do that again, you're, you're, you're essentially tripping the growth and repair mix. He doesn't have the body into motion by doing these workouts. And that's the same mechanism that comes into play. If you should ever cut yourself or burn yourself and the next time that should happen, just informally observe how long it takes for that little bit of skin or Dermis to bridge the wound. And that's just a little bit, it's usually seven to 10 days anyway. So the, the healing process, which is where the benefit that we're after occurs takes time.
It's not a, it would be the, like the workout is the stimulus, which is like when you cut your hand, well that's a stimulus to your body to produce new tissue, to close the wound. And when you work out with weights its extinguished your body to produce a little more, you know, a thickening of the muscles. But you don't hasten the process by recutting your hand every day, you know, you delay it. And the same is true with a workout. And I remember speaking with Doug McGuff about this and he said, interesting point, he said, but did you know that the skin repairs itself through the ectodermal germline, whereas muscles come from the Mesodermal germline? And I didn't know what the hell he was talking about. So I said, no, I didn't know that. And he said, well, here's what you need to know about.
He said, the active Dermal Germline, which you mentioned with the cut, which takes over seven to 10 days to heal, he goes, it is a germline that heals much, much quicker that muscle does. You said so if you scratch your cornea can be pretty well on its way to repair in 12 hours, so if you're going to be doing a very demanding workout, don't beat yourself up. If seven days ticked by and you haven't been back to the gym yet, you know you may need the extra day or two for full recovery because again, it comes from a metabolic line that is not quick and turning over proteins necessary for a rapid repair.
Allan: 47:08 Okay. John, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
John: 47:19 Hmm, that's interesting because it's an interesting definition because consists of three completely unrelated conditions that are under one umbrella term, but each is important to consider. Fitness is your ability to function, to do things that you want to do. Health is simply the absence of disease and happiness is a subjective term is what makes one person happy, might bore another person to tears. But I believe that the type of training that we've been discussing, high energy output training will look after the first condition you mentioned and to some extent it will positively impact your health as well. It won't cure a disease, but it might help prevent your health from deteriorating to the point where your body can't combat certain elements that might lead to diseases such as say, diabetes and perhaps the ability of your body to carry out the dictates of your mind in terms of doing things you really want to do and enjoy doing might lead to happiness of a sort and stave off conditions such as depression to some degree, which in fact the medical literature is indicated about resistance training. But only you can infuse your life with purpose depending upon your individual psyche and that will give you peace of mind to some degree.
Happiness is an interesting topic because as a perpetual state is foreign to human beings, and I'm not sure that it would be desirable as there is a vast spectrum of human emotions that collectively make up what we could call the human condition and some of them are the furthest thing from pure happiness, but to experience them all to live your life within each nerve fully exposed during this brief go round that we have is to experience the totality of your humanity. And according to some philosophies, at least your experience of a particular emotions opposite tends to heighten your experience of that emotion when you experience I again, as you know, you often only know things through contradistinction.
So after all, what would darkness mean if you only ever knew light, but to your point, given that the studies have shown that your health can be preserved with proper resistance training, given that the studies have shown that your functional ability can be tremendously enhanced through proper resistance training. And given the fact that studies have also shown an interrelationship between psyche and Soma. For example, if you're constantly worried and stressed, you can get a physical condition known as an ulcer. You have to think that would also work in reverse. So whatever it is that makes you happy, usually it's an activity or something that you enjoy. You need your muscles to get you to it or to perform it. And this was a means by which you will enhance and preserve your ability to do those things that you enjoy and to do it, you know, as best you can in the absence of the disease better than any other activity. And certainly fire quicker and more thoroughly than any other activity.
Allan: 50:04 Yeah, I'm inclined to agree with you because, you know, I think, you know, if you kind of go back to some of the happiest times in your life, it typically involves you spending time with someone that you care about, like a grandchild or something like that. And your ability to be engaged with them and doing the things that need to be done. So I agree with you there. And then, you know, if you're really doing this workout the way you're supposed to, it's not going to be the most pleasant day of your life. So you're going to be very unhappy for that 12 minutes.
John: 50:35 But yeah if you can get comfortable with being uncomfortable for, you know, six to 12 minutes a week in order to have all of the benefits of resistance training can give you, you know, maybe it's a deal worth taking.
Allan: 50:50 I think it is. I really do. So John, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the books that you've written and the things that you're doing, where would you like for me to send them?
John: 51:00 Well, I don't really have a dedicated website about any of that. Certainly for the books, they can go to any of the online bookstores. They're available there. Amazon carries all my books and that will at least be able to give them a means to see what I'm interested in, what I'm working on. And as I tend to publish quite a few of those and if they're on Facebook, feel free to look me up and say hello.
Allan: 51:23 Okay, well you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/388 and I'll be sure to have links to the books and also to John's Facebook.
John, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
John: 51:38 Well thank you Allan. It was a pleasure to speak to you.
I hope you enjoyed that conversation with John Little, you know, it's, um, it's always good to get the most out of our time working out so that we're getting the best benefit in the shortest amount of time. Bang for the buck, right? So go back and listen to that again. Go ahead and get his book, The Time Savers Workout. Really good book as well. I did want to let you know, again, I do have those slots for one on one training. You can email me Allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com and I'll send you an application. But if you're just on the fence with this and you're just not quite sure, why don't we schedule a 15 minute consult? You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min and we can schedule a 15 minute consult. We can talk about what your needs are. We could talk about what your goals are. I can give you a little bit on the phone there just to kind of give you a taste, a little taste of what it's like to be working with me. One on one. So go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/15min. Thank you.