re: How much exercise is enough?

This past week, I gave a presentation on how to include fitness and nutrition strategies into an already busy schedule. In it, I provided examples and case studies from the personal training clients I’ve worked with over the years.

One thing common amongst my personal training clients is that they are all professionals, mostly between the ages of 40 and 60. Many of them either have kids, hold down more than one job or are business owners like myself.

For me personally, I have 2 businesses (my personal training business, and a business as a professional entertainer for corporate, associations and education)

2 businesses and I have 2 young children. My youngest turned 6 months old the other day.

And technically, because I’m a professional athlete my training has to matter. I don’t really have time to waste on unproductive training methods.

So as I was perusing the interwebs looking for ideas about what to write about, I came upon an article called “how much exercise is enough?”

It’s kind of a loaded question really. The answer, like most things health and fitness related, is “It depends.”

I’ll give an example. A couple years back I had someone tell me “I train 6 days a week, 3 hours each time. I workout 10 times as hard as everyone else and I feel like I have nothing to show for it.”

I told him “I have some theories. But you probably aren’t going to like them.”

“Well what is it?”

“I think you’re overdoing it. You’re not giving your body a chance to catch up so it’s holding onto your body fat. With me, you’ll be training 30 minutes 3 times a week and nothing else except some easy walking to help with recovery”

He lost 18lbs in a month. But that was a bit of a unique situation because his body was so used to going hard all the time, that it had developed the ability to have a speedy recovery from training. Not all situations are like that.

However, you can still get great results on short programs. I have a guy training right now about 25 minutes twice a week. Is he going to get results like the Amazing 12? Not likely, but he’ll still get great results.

The Amazing 12 is a program that’s about optimizing everything involved in a body transformation. It’s about optimal technique, optimal nutrition and optimal progression of the loads. With all those things in place it creates such amazing results in a shockingly short amount of time.

But it also requires the optimal situation. It’s approximately 5 days a week in my personal training studio, plus cardio homework. Not everyone has a schedule that will allow it.

I have a personal training client right now who would have loved to do Amazing 12. He works full time, has a part-time job and is trying to build a business. Right now, Amazing 12 isn’t right for him.

So then optimal changes because it’s context-dependent. Optimal is the best answer for whatever the situation allows. For my guy, he trains approximately 25 minutes twice a week. It may not be the optimal situation but pretty good is still pretty good. He just told me he feels good and accomplished. Like I said, pretty good is still pretty good.

As far as how much is enough? Well, training is about coaxing adaptation from your body. Your body adapts by getting stronger, leaner, fitter etc.

And in order to get an adaptive response, you need to give it a stimulus to adapt to. You might be surprised how little you actually need.

People new to training can make especially fast gains. It isn’t uncommon for some of them to actually double their strength (based on how hard they perceive something to be) within the first month. And that is done with a low volume and generous rest periods.

So how much is actually enough? Whatever it is you can safely do that challenges you. Little hinges swing big doors over time.


Eric Moss is a world-record-holding professional performing strongman, author, motivational speaker, and personal trainer. In the tradition of the strongmen during the turn of the century, he performs feats of strength such as bending steel and breaking chains as part of a show and speaks on goal achievement for corporations, nonprofits, government as well as for schools and universities. His exclusive personal training studio is located on Main Street in Boonton New Jersey, is close to Mountain Lakes, Denville, Montville and Parsippany New Jersey.

The 90+ Study

When I discovered the steel bending strongman community, one of the things that caught my attention was just how strong some of them were that had, shall we say “more life experience.”

To put in perspective, think about the average 90-year-old. Just living to that age is pretty good. Being able to stand up from a chair is great! But then compare them to the late great Mike Greenstein.

I’m both happy and proud to say I knew him when he was alive

That to me highlights the importance of strength training.

Anyway, a study came across my radar called the 90+ study. And there were 2 bullet points from the study that really caught my attention.

  • People who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained.
  • People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did.

So for the first bullet point. There is something called “cognitive bias” which basically means you seek out things that support your beliefs, or that which you wish to believe while rejecting things that challenge those beliefs.

That’s one reason that I stay away from debating politics and religion because nobody ever really wins those things.

So when I find something that tells me I can drink both coffee and wine, beer and whiskey and they will help me live longer, I pay attention. If by doing so not only can it add more years to my life…it can add more life to my years. I like hearing those things because I’m not free from cognitive bias. Nobody really is.

Now the other bullet point also challenged my cognitive bias, it was the bit about overweight people living longer. This one really didn’t sit well because I work as a personal trainer and have my studio in Boonton right across from the library. Helping people to lose weight for general health is what I do. And it was and is my belief that obesity kills.

So does this study prove me wrong? I mean, I could be wrong. I frequently am…I’m married after all. But then again, I’m never wrong. Just ask my first wife.

Claims like that 2nd bullet point have to be taken into context. You see when you think overweight you probably think of this.

Image result for overweight people

Does being like that make you live longer? I doubt it and here is why.

The term “overweight” has to be taken into context. I haven’t seen anything regarding how they define overweight but usually things like this use Body Mass Index ie BMI.

The BMI is loaded with flaws. As an example, I just checked my BMI and though I’m considered within healthy ranges, I’m dancing on the edge of being overweight. The pic below is how I look right now….being almost “overweight”.

I took this pic while writing this, and after having drunk enough water to put me into the overweight zone…just sayin

Does that look or seem close to overweight to you? Here’s the thing about BMI. It measures your height compared to your weight. That’s it.

It doesn’t take into account things like bone structure (some people are short and stout even when strong, lean and healthy), bone density and/or muscle mass.

For the general population, this is somewhat accurate because the majority of people don’t train and hence have negligble muscle and bone density. They should train but they don’t.

And having more muscle mass and more dense bones are something that is important to maintain especially as you age. That’s one reason I love the Turkish Getup for the aging population. It gets you moving better and the time under tension signals your body that you need both the muscle mass, and having denser bones and thicker tendons.

Btw, if you are in the area, I’ll be doing a presentation on the Turkish Getup at the Boonton Holmes Library on February 28th.


Eric Moss is a world-record-holding professional performing strongman, author, motivational speaker, and personal trainer. In the tradition of the strongmen during the turn of the century, he performs feats of strength such as bending steel and breaking chains as part of a show and speaks on goal achievement for corporations, nonprofits, government as well as for schools and universities. His exclusive personal training studio is located on Main Street in Boonton New Jersey, is close to Mountain Lakes, Denville, Montville and Parsippany New Jersey.

Biggest Loser 2020 – Fat Shaming and Dangerous

Truth be told, I haven’t even watched the full episode. I could barely get through the highlight reel during the show’s introduction before rolling my eyes.

Why?

Because I work as a personal trainer and helping people to lose weight, get fit and transform their bodies and therefore their lives is what I do. I wouldn’t simply be a viewer sitting at home watching tv. I see the way they train these people and I am absolutely appalled at their approach.

So a couple of things. The main argument for the benefit of this show is it inspires people to get in shape.

I really question that. For one thing, a lot of times when people are overweight, they know it, they don’t like it, they want to do something about it but they are either confused about what to do or completely overwhelmed by the perceived amount of work it would take to get healthy.

I think that for every person it inspires, it probably scares off a whole lot more. In the opening sequence, I saw a woman throwing up into a bucket and I know from previous seasons there is a high injury rate. Not to mention that previous contestants have been unable to maintain their weight.

Yeah, totally inspiring.

Second, for every person that actually makes a decision to get up and take back their health, that person is likely looking for ideas about how to train and eat. They see a severely overweight person do box jumps and think “Hey, that’s probably what I should do!”

Box jumps, in particular, are an exercise with a high risk to reward ratio. Even for a coordinated lean and athletic person, they don’t land quite right and they can gouge their shin, injure their knee, fall backward and hit their head, etc.

There is plenty that can go wrong with that.

Now you have someone who is likely uncoordinated, unsure of themselves and have extra weight and it’s not a matter of if they get injured, it’s when.

In Russia where plyometrics (box jumps are a form of plyometrics) was pioneered and studied they determined that a person wasn’t really ready for plyometrics unless they had a double bodyweight squat. The reason being their tendons hadn’t thickened enough yet.

Should a person that is just starting their fitness journey be doing this?

via GIPHY

As with anything, start with where you are. Stay within your current capabilities and expand them. I’m not saying plyometrics are completely off the table…I’m just saying not right now.

I think a properly performed kettlebell swing can accomplish most of what box jumps can and more…and do it safely but that’s another article for another day.

Another thing is it sets up unrealistic expectations. For one thing everybody lives in a bubble set up for weight loss to occur, training 4 hours a day and taking drugs. This quite simply doesn’t fit with the lifestyle requirements of most people (having a job, a family etc.).

Here’s another article about it https://nypost.com/2015/01/18/contestant-reveals-the-brutal-secrets-of-the-biggest-loser/

Second thing is that it will show things like them losing 10lbs per week. The truth is the weekly weigh-ins are actually closer to monthly weigh-ins. Why? I don’t know, filming schedules? That’s Hollywood for ya.

And one last thing. The supposedly world-class trainers. Fat-shaming banshees with either questionable knowledge or questionable ethics, possibly both.

For a person that is looking to start their fitness journey, they might admit to themselves that they need help (a monumental step). They might even push through their apprehension of picking up the phone to reach out to a personal trainer to help them.

But then again, that apprehension may cause them to second guess whether or not they are willing to put up with being yelled at and shamed, and they put the phone back down reverting back to their old ways. That’s a person that could have benefitted from my approach, a bit more conservative but consistent and more positive.

If that person is you, you can do it. Take it step by step, build upon your current capabilities, hang in there and one day you’ll wake up look in the mirror and say “Damn! You got it going on!!!”

If you need my help, send me a text at 973 476 5328.


Eric Moss is a world-record-holding professional performing strongman, author, motivational speaker, and personal trainer. In the tradition of the strongmen during the turn of the century, he performs feats of strength such as bending steel and breaking chains as part of a show and speaks on goal achievement for corporations, nonprofits, government as well as for schools and universities. His exclusive personal training studio is located on Main Street in Boonton New Jersey, is close to Mountain Lakes, Denville, Montville and Parsippany New Jersey.