Monday, June 23, 2008

"Be Moderate In Everything, Including Moderation" by Ross Enamit

OK fellas, I don't know about you, but we just finished going through a week long heat wave in Southern California that reminded me of being in the South, minus the humdity of course. Well, I'm glad that it's finally starting to cool down because I'm really getting into using my sandbag, pushupboard, and USA to train at the local park. I'm going to take pictures of my outdoor gym because it has a huge field that's large enough for me to do sprint intervals.

Speaking of which, I just picked up a gym boss interval timer that makes doing interval training really simple . . . well, as far as keeping you on time that is; interval training is, and should be, challenging. ;) Anyway, read up more about this interval timer at

For this week's strength coach's re-post, I've decided to use a great post from a great trainer, athlete, and all around cool guy: Ross Enamit. Ross has more free videos on YouTube than most trainers, and, as you can tell from his videos, he practices what he preaches! He also has books and videos that he has put together for everyone from combat athletes, military personnel, or the weekend warrior.

What I like most about Ross's approach is that it's so multi-faceted. You'll see him doing burpees with a weighted vest to doing one arm DB bench presses, and finish it off with ab work using ab wheels he built with lawnmower wheels!

I watch his videos on YouTube for motivation and inspiration to continue to set my fitness goals that much higher.

Alright, enjoy his post on why extremist dietary approaches are neither healthy nor sustainable, which is a topic I plan on posting about this week.

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Be Moderate In Everything, Including Moderation by Ross Enamit

Horace Porter once said to be moderate in everything, including moderation.

Moderation is the process of eliminating or lessening extremes, and is used to ensure normality.

Note the underlined words above. To live a healthy (normal) life, moderation is important. My recent blogs were not intended to promote extremism regarding diet. We only have one chance at life. If you enjoy dining out at a nice restaurant, no one should stop you. As I’ve said before, I’m only human. I too enjoy good food. Who doesn’t? I’ve never met anyone who didn’t enjoy certain foods.

Yet, there is a difference between enjoying certain foods, and craving junk food 24 hours a day. Earlier, I stated that healthy living does not mean deprived living. Trust me, there are more than enough healthy (delicious) alternatives. If you are transitioning from junk however, it’s only natural to experience an initial struggle. Yes, tasty alternatives exist, but you must still overcome the initial attraction towards junk food.

Think of a drug addict. No one said it would be easy to kick the habit, but that doesn’t mean people stop trying. Initial struggles are to be expected. Obstacles are part of life. As Frank Clark once said:

“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

Life is about more than food. Consider the amount of time that you spend eating within a single day. I’m guessing that most people spend an hour or less actually chewing their food. Yet, that single hour of eating often dictates how you feel for the remaining 23 hours. How do you honestly feel? Are you energized? Do you wake up feeling sluggish?

For every decision, there is a consequence. Ask yourself why you eat your food? Do you base your decisions entirely upon taste? Is taste all that matters? What about health? Much of my eating decisions are made with health in mind. Is it fanatical to take health seriously? I enjoy being healthy. What’s wrong with that? It’s an added benefit that the foods I eat happen to be tasty. I don’t live solely for taste however.

My health and vitality are extremely important to me. Of course I consider health when selecting foods to eat. I enjoy food, but I don’t enjoy it enough to sacrifice the rest of my day (and life).

I see people every day who complain about feeling tired, bitch about one ailment after another, and struggle to function in the world without a never ending supply of coffee. Does anyone actually strive to feel this way? Is it worth it? Is that what you want to be remembered for? Does junk food offer a hidden high that surpasses the crappy feelings (physical) that you experience the rest of the day?

I doubt it…

I’m not suggesting that you never have a treat, but apply the rule of moderation. For example, I enjoy taking my son to a local farm where the ice cream is freshly made each day. He enjoys seeing the animals on the farm. It’s a nice trip for the family. I don’t go every day however, and I don’t wake up dreaming about the next visit to the farm. It’s all about moderation. Enjoy yourself, but realize that there are more important joys available in this world of ours. Also realize that healthy food can be extremely tasty.

And if you find yourself struggling with food, it is useful to think about what you are eating. I recently watched the Fast Food Nation movie. Fortunately, I can’t remember the last time I had fast food (many years). After watching this movie, I’m certain that I’ll never have another fast food meal. The movie made me sick to my stomach. How could anyone actually want to put that kind of “food” inside the body? Forget about moderation when dealing with pure junk. I’ll proudly be extreme when it comes to avoiding absolute crap.

I enjoy waking up healthy and energized. My nutritional habits are largely responsible for this luxury and freedom. I wouldn’t give it up for the sweetest taste in the world.

Fortunately, it’s easy to feel the same way. I don’t have any secrets to share. I don’t have a top secret food source. I eat healthy foods and exercise for approximately 1 hour a day. That’s it.



Peter Kim, MD said...

Please keep up the great blogging!

Query on the Universal Strength Apparatus: this is the first time I've seen this, I've been looking for a Jungle Gym/ring type system for pulls, chins, Atomic Pushups, etc, as I'm sure you have.

What made you choose the USA? And how does the thing attach?

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Peter, thanks for you compliment! So, you like the USA, eh? Honestly, I chose the USA because of the "hand" ladder system which allows you to make the exercise more difficult by simply using a lower rung. Also, I like the fact that I can simulate rope climbing with it.

However, do I think it's superior to the jungle gym or xtreme fitness rings? No, I don't. I prefer to do dips and static knee raise holds on the rings than the USA, but this is because of the thickness of the rings as opposed to the rungs on the USA. I haven't played around with the Jungle Gym, which I've only heard great things about, but I have with the TRX, which is another great tool.

The USA connects with two metal clips that you connect around any type of support. If you go to you can see videos of how it's used and connected. Make sure you check out the video with the guy doing muscle ups with the USA attached to a basketball goal!

Thanks for your comment and please come back and let us know which one you decided on.


Ironic Warrior said...

Holy heck!

Thats some transformation there mr!

Much kudos to you sir..

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Ironic Warrior,

Thanks for you comment,and keep up the killer workouts you're posting on your blog! I think that every guy on his weight loss journey should document it on a blog; heck, there's so many free ones to choose from that it's to easy to start one, but, hey, I'm preaching to the choir here because you've already started one. Good job and thanks for stopping by ...


Peter Kim, MD said...

I've decided to go with Lifeline's Split Jungle Gym, and just placed my order.

The Universal Strength Apparatus, Jungle Gym variations, and rings all look great and similar. But the rings lacked foot attachments for leg and leg-based core work (like the Atomic Pushups that Steve Maxwell demonstrated), and the Universal, though enabling climbing and instant resistance changes, was more cumbersome than I wanted at this time.

Frankly, I think they're all excellent products, it depends what your needs are. There's a two-handed horizontal pull/turn/press move that Scott Sonnon and Karl Gotsch have demo'd, which'd be best done on the rings, and you can't climb on anything but the Universal.

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Peter, thanks for coming back and letting us know which product you went with. Also, I couldn't agree with you more; I think all of them are great products and that's probably why I own fitness rings and the USA.

Speaking of which, I'm going to take the rings to the park tomorrow because I've been neglecting them ...

Peter Kim, MD said...

Again, keep up the great communicating work; your blog definitely has a spot in my feed reader.

Question on the topic of moderation:

Is there any advantage to shortening the rest periods of interval training to zero?

I'm enjoying some modest success, hopefully sustainable, with an exercise regimen that I'd call "moderate": 20 seconds of exercise alternating with 40 seconds of walking rest. I mix it up with all kinds of stuff -- Farmer's Walks with kettlebells up and down the house stairs, Renegade Rows at the top, Snatches, LCCJ's, Lunges and Forward Squats, Forward Pressure pushup variations -- but what keeps it interesting, fun, and moderate is moving from part to part, with some breathing room between.

As things adapt and improve, I can see shortening the rest periods, or increasing the work periods...but should the rest periods be kept, and perhaps the weight lifted/exercise difficulty go up?

If there's something special about interval training as opposed to continuous cardio (and I'm sure there is), are we doing ourselves a disservice by "advancing" our workouts towards an uninterrupted chain of moves?

What has your experience been, in terms of effectiveness, as well as sustainability, here?

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Good question Peter. From what I've read from Craig Ballantyne, Jason Feruggia, Josh Henkin, Steve Cotter, and Steve Maxwell, they usually increase the workload and won't lower the rest to no lower than 20-30 seconds. However, you have to keep in mind that the original Tababta protocol, which HIIT is based on, called for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off, which is good for cardio if you're conditioned enough to handle it. I'd venture to say that less than 15% of guys out there between 18-50 can handle this protocol--including yours truly!

When it comes to complexes/circuit training, most say do not lower your rest period below 30 seconds because it will affect the overall quality of the work you do in your circuit. If doing three circuits (the minimum one should do) is too easy, add another circuit before decreasing the rest time.

For example, I usually give myself 45 seconds rest in between my complexes. According to Craig Ballantyne, he likes to use 45 seconds because it's been a good mid-point between those who are in great condition (i.e., athletes) who can go as low as 0 - 20 seconds rest to those that are, to borrow a term from Steve Maxwell, really de-conditioned, who may rest as long as 90 seconds.

I suggest that you play around with your rest times, but don't go lower than 30 seconds and don't reduce by more than a couple of seconds (say 5) per week. At least this is what I got from Josh Henkin's KO: Sandbag Exercises . . .. I hope this helps.

Peter, on another note, have you done "ladders" before?

Peter Kim, MD said...

I have done ladders before, with KB's, from Pavel's model: 1 lift, rest enough time for a shadow to do same, 2 lifts, rest enough for shadow to have done 2, etc up to the desired number. I had forgotten about that until now.

The virtue of rest periods seems to be that you can, by catching your breath regularly, do much more overall work than if you tried to blow straight on through. Ditto for moving in a circuit, from 1 body area to another (though compound exercises are still the aim).

When you say "complexes," BTW, is that different from "circuit?" My rest periods are between each exercise, as well as between each circuit, by that I mean going thru all the exercises once.

Also, another query (and thank you for all your great answers!): why are at least 3 go-rounds recommended? Why not 2, or one really long circuit?

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Peter, please keep the questions coming. It's really good to talk to someone who has read similar books that I have. Yes, I started my KB training with Pavel's books, but gravitated more toward Mike Mahler and the two Steves (Maxwell & Cotter), who I'm considering getting KB certified with since they both have certifications.

No, circuit/complex are both the same to me. It's just that most people often associate circuit training with using a bunch of different nautilus style machines in a row. It's funny because that's the way my college's gym is still setup!

To answer your question about how many rounds or times you should go through your circuit/complex, here's a quote from Josh Henkins KO Workouts.... It's a bit long, but worth the read IMO:

In developing your Power Circuit Training program you want to consider which and how many exercises to perform. My general preference is to not exceed six movements for a particular routine. This may end up sacrificing the quality and this is something we never want to end up risking. Remember, more is not always better!

Since we have discussed the exercises, now we should talk about the repetitions and sets. My first rule with such programming is not to have set rules. Sure, there has
been a lot written about what protocols work best, but I think we would live in a pretty sterile world to never challenge these principles. For the most part though, what makes Power Circuit Training unique is that we are emphasizing lower repetition work (1-5).

This is done for several purposes.

1. Such repetition ranges allows us to train maximal strength and speed qualities that are heavy reliant upon the Central Nervous System (CNS).

2. We can train multiple movement patterns without a great deterioration of quality of work being performed on each exercise.

3. Strength-endurance can be improved even though we are training strength qualities that notoriously have been stated to be counterproductive.

Using such protocols allows us to use a variety of repetition schemes, including wave loading, pyramiding, etc. You won’t feel stuck at just performing the same workout day after day. You can even vary the scheme for each individual exercise.

Now we are down to how many sets? Again, there are no right answers, some will work better than others. For example, because lifting in not the primary sport you may have to perform fewer sets to avoid overtraining. However, if lifting is your primary form of training (which may be the case in the early off-season) then you may be able to
handle greater volume of sets.

In general I often recommend 3-5 sets. Since we are working with sets of smaller repetitions three sets is often a minimum. This is because the volume of work would be
too low to achieve the desired training stimulus. The only people I would recommend less are those that would be in-season of their competitive sport.

Can you do more? It will greatly depend on how you are feeling and what you wish to achieve. I would not normally recommend doing more than five sets as we are using full body lifts that require not only a lot of energy, but can drain the CNS very easily. You want to find chart your progress and see if more is necessary or if it is damaging your progress. This is a very individual variable.

Some ways to see if you are heading towards overtraining are:

- Lack of appetite
- Inability to sleep
- General fatigue
- Feeling cold often
- Lack of interest in training
- Body aches and pains consistently
- Not progressing in training
- High resting heart rate
- Poor waking body temperature

Finally, one of the most challenging factors is the rest intervals between exercises.
Because we are using a circuit style of training we are looking at rest intervals in between exercises. We can simply manipulate this variable to make the training program vastly different. By simply reducing the rest between exercises by 5 seconds for 4 weeks will make the training stimulus and the challenge of the routine greatly. This would mean we would drop our rest between exercises by 20 seconds! This is will make your program brand new.

Of course you will have to make the rest intervals appropriate for your goals. If strength is desired then a longer rest interval (within the range of 90 seconds) would be a
better starting point in contrast to someone who was more interested in strength-endurance (which may start with a rest interval of 30 seconds). We may be greedy though and want to improve strength and endurance. While this may be possible we would be sacrificing a little of both. I would recommend alternating phases or routines of both.

However, a good way of accomplishing such a goal would be to start at a higher rest interval and then to slowly knock down that time over each week. Usually I would recommend not dropping the rest interval by more than five seconds each week. While it may not sound drastic, you would find just dropping the rest over the course of four weeks will feel very different than your first week.

We have covered all of the important components of developing your own Power Circuit program ...

I hope this helps ...

Peter Kim, MD said...

It does, I've read the same section by Josh, too!

I guess my question is regarding the "desired training stimulus." Josh referred me to a textbook that would back-up the 3 set minimum concept, I believe by a former Soviet strength coach, based on experience, not just theory.

That said, I'm realizing that the basic framework is sufficiently flexible that most any goal is attainable with it. I currently do basically one long circuit of about 10-12 movements, and a couple of those I repeat once. It may not be optimal for strength/power building, or for strength endurance, but it fits me for now, I train in a martial art twice weekly, and as a package with sufficient rest, joint mobility, and compensatory work on other days, it's getting me to where I need to go (weight down, bp down, general "shoring up" all around).

Many thanks, again, and be seeing you around!

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

No problem Peter, and I'm glad that you got in touch with Josh; he knows his stuff.

I couldn't agree with you more; it's all about what your goals are and experimenting to see which home-made program works for you.

Please keep us posted on your progress Peter, as I'm interested in seeing how everything works for you.

All the best ...