Monday, May 27, 2013

Running out of things to say

This blog has been quiet.  I am finding that I am running out of things to say.  Rarely am I coming across a news story or piece of information that I think deserves to be shared here.

My work is busy again which is draining my time and energy, so that when I get home I am not enthusiastically trawling the interweb for titbits of information.  I am resting or relaxing in other ways.

But I am also changing in my outlook - less convinced of the alternative approaches and more open to the mainstream.  The internet is full of misinformation, crazy theories, cults and covens - not just in the worlds of politics and religion, but health and fitness.  I've watched amazingly nasty arguments arise among people intensely committed to certain diets or training protocols.  First world problems indeed!  Cherry picked studies, abstract fuelled bloggers conspiracy theorists.

As such I don't want to add to the misinformation.

I am still training, still walking in the mountains, but no longer searching for the holy grail in my training or diet.  Patience, persistence, moderation, realistic expectations.  They are not too glamorous, do not sell many ebooks, but in those qualities resides the truth.

I am still training
I am still here and will post when I find things of interest....but there is not too much that is grabbing me at the moment.  Most of it has been said and much of what I have said and posted in the past I might now want to distance myself from.  Lots of approaches work and the internet experts are not always genuine.  There is a real world out there.


Anonymous said...

'Patience, persistence, moderation, realistic expectations' - hit the nail on head. There is no 'secret way'. Keep up the good work Chris.

Stuart Gilbert said...

As anonymous says above, keep up the good work, even if it will be posted a little less frequently. I agree with you, that it is better to be true to yourself, than to be categorized as another provider of questionable resources. Quality beats quantity every time, even though I like to click on this blog hoping to read a new article, I'm prpepared to wait, if it means that I will be reading good stuff.
I loved watching your recent evolution Chris. I like the way you have really given this some thought, and been self reflective and self critical. Your honesty is to be commended. Perhaps a good post would be one that charts your recent history of thinking and practices, listing results and thoughts that came from each phase over the recent years...a kind of then and now post....commenting on why some ideas have been kept, while the rest have fallen by the wayside. I know you have already done this to some extent in some posts, but if you were to pull it all together into some form of chronological timeline, it might help others who are following a similar might even be of help to you.....

Mike Ede said...

Common sense from you as usual Chris. Don't know if you've ever stumbled across the "hackers diet"? But for me the section on noise with regards weight measurement (focus on the trend, not daily variation) and its insistence that if calories in - calories out = a negative number then weight loss is inevitable came as a real epiphany to me, which has led to me actually being in control of my weight for the first time in my life. Everything else on top of that seems to be over complicating things, which seems to chime with your "new" simpler message :)

Just want to thank you for your posts up until now, they have added some useful tools to my box.


James Marshall said...

Hi Chris,
precisely because of the misinformation and what Nassim Taleb calls Neomania is why consistent sound advice needs to be shared.
The trick is to tell a story about how that is used, the trials and tribulations and also the rewards.
Keeps me sane knowing there are some decent people out there.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Interesting you mention Nassim Taleb.
In his book Black Swan, he mentions Doug McGuff and Art De Vany, and talks about how low infrequent stressors worked well for him and kind of creates the impression "mainstream" is wrong. Yet Chris and his evolution actually now go back to scientific approach.

It is obviously only a matter of goals and will to invest. For Taleb, weight room is probably foreign area, and as a newbie, he gets great resluts and it also fits his schedule.

In both camps you'll find people who will, by using science papers, show you that their approach is superior.
While multiple sets are probably superior, for some people the execution of multi-set periodised protocol is not even a choice they would think of.
People who found HIT to be working are very convinced, because they accomplished the consistency and progression, which is great, and I belong to this group...for majority of population, this approach is safe, effective and efficient...but some of them spend years on forums and websites trying to tweak it here and there, truly believing their plateau means their genetic limit, and that the solutions lies only within HIT tribe. For those, the misinformation of "one set is the only true way" prevented them from reaching their potential. Not all of them will decide to invest 3-6 hours a week and follow complicated programmes, but they should know the choice is there and actually preferred by most who actually are scientists and experts.
Those on the other side sometimes forget what are the goals and possibilities of general population.

Patrick Cobb said...

It is normal to feel this way and it is good so you can spend more time for other things. The blog will always be here and more readers can still read your posts and learn. We are thankful for that.

Anonymous said...

"The majority is always wrong; the minority is rarely right." Henrik Ibsen. Now what would happen if we convinced the majority of that? :)

This seems to happen with a lot of good bloggers who have no interest in posting for the sake of reposting or aggregating others' content.

I hope you will keep posting, just less frequently. That's what RSS is for. If your next post is 3 months from now it will still show up in my feed reader.

Thomas said...


I don't mean to turn this thread into a HIT thread but your comment was interesting. Much of the current HIT revival is based in theories originated by Mike Mentzer, with the idea that you should do the least amount possible to stimulate growth and then get out of the gym. I have come to the conclusion that, even within the HIT paradigm, and especially for the bodybuilder types, one should attempt to do as much as they possibly can and still recover. The two ideas might leave one doing the exact same program (volume and frequency) in some instances, but quite different for others.


You're probably just tired, bored and somewhat turned off with all of this health and exercise stuff. I thinks your site is broad enough, however, to include so much more. There is plenty of interesting and useful info out there-stuff that maybe applicable to some but not all, or just good alternatives for all depending on circumstance. You may be looking for too many black and white issues. It's time to live in the grey a bit, as long as you know and let others know that you are there.

Unknown said...


Yes, but which HIT guru encourages that today? Not McGuff, Tanner, not any Mentzer's advocate, maybe Brzycki/Fornicola, but their workouts are pretty long for HIT. I follow only Drew Baye, he is cautious as well, but generally goes for what you just said. But with to failure training, this rarely exceeds the frequency of 3x a week, as the window of manipulation is pretty small. 2x a week probably best for most, but I never tested to do more, so what do I know?:-) Also, I find it hard to increase volume in a HIT workout, 7-10 sets are ok, but 15+ sets to failure...the intensity and focus is kind of compromised, as is the will to do it...

charlie said...

What is funny is after a year I finally got to walk in the hills again and wow am I sore.

Stuart Gilbert said...

I don't know if it would be possible Chris...or whether you would regard it as prudent...but I would really love to read a detailed post on which of these internet sources you've moved away from over the past few years, and those which you currently, or still embrace, and the reasons why, or the thought processes behind the move.

Unknown said...

I would add that your current position deserves a change in the website column. Aragon, McDonald, Schoenfeld, Contreras, JCD Fitness, Layne Norton, Weightology...there are many paleo and crossfit-like sources at the moment, this would be more effective in directing the readers towards solid information. Obviously some of the old with simple message are good as well. And some valuable are missing - Tanner, McRobert...

Chris said...

Thanks for all the comments. I'll try and get some responses up later

Personal trainer for fitness said...

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Dave Riley said...

WHAT has NOT been 'said' so much is the question of activity per se.

There has been the weight training stuff, the HIIT stuff and the 'stand up desk' stuff... but what interests me is the activity and gravity stuff for which there seems to be little synthesis available-- Bones: musculature:proprioception.

It isn't exercise of course and that's the conundrum, but after spending the last week with my 90 year old mother and her peers -- bent over walking frames and shuffling askew,may be for the best part of a decade, you have to ask "conditioning for what?"

I suspect that there is an aggregation of approaches that do fit if we can ween ourselves from body sculpting and machismo and seriously attend to sustaining and improving function.

The key thing has to be that we need to admit that the whole 'exercise' paradigm is only partially right.

I'm thinking conditioning has to be be a lot of things as much mind (cognition) as body ...and to be humble about it, we don't really know what should displace it-- but the task warrants working at.

Anonymous said...


"Yes, but which HIT guru encourages that today? Not McGuff, Tanner..."

It's statements like this that make me think you've never actually read anything I've written, presented, or linked out to be read. I suppose "get stronger for reps on the big, basic exercises on a routine that you can recover from and actually fit the life of a normal human work work/school/family/life demands" is automatically HIT.


Perhaps you've misunderstood what I often tell people..:

"Do as little work as required to achieve your desired result." this:

"Only do minimal work."

The first statement can also be read as:

"Do as much work as required for your goal, but no more than that."

Framed in that context, it should be understood that depending on a large variety of factors, people are going to need more or less work to achieve their goals. IF your goal is hypertrophy, it's going to be more. Protein synthesis maxes out on a training frequency of 2x/week to once every 5 days. Once a week just won't cut it IF maximum hypertrophy is your goal.

Most of my clients don't really care for hypertrophy, so there is more latitude for programming to accommodate all of the sub-segments of "fitness." However I've yet to see anything match getting significantly stronger & not being a sloth for improvements in health,function, and fitness. Substitute "practicing your skills" for "not being a sloth" if you have something you're training for.

Unknown said...

Skyler Tanner
Sorry for being inaccurate. I know what you do at EE is not really HIT - more HIIRT - and the programming is more complicated. I also know clients train once or twice a week, I assume you train once every 5 days. Still, in your most famous article "The Six Year Itch" you favor a 15 minute HIT SS routine once a week and say that if you workout for more than 1 hour, you are doing it wrong, that's probably why I made the mention.

Anonymous said...


All true; and in that context I see where you got the idea that I was super low volume. Perhaps bloggers should do a yearly "What I'm doing now" type of posts to keep those up to date on what they think.

In the context of "the 6 year itch," I was making the point that I had not gotten significantly larger doing all sorts of routines than when I was training somewhat infrequently, body fat being equal. This is mostly true; my point was that if I went back to how I started training (~15 minutes/week of hard work, not play) and didn't gain an ounce it would be a better return on investment than previous efforts. Certainly not optimal for hypertrophy by a country mile for most human beings. Frankly I like to train more often than that and if I find myself getting so itchy to train at such an infrequent clip, sleep or general training anxiety is often at work.

In fact, and Keith says this as well, if a person wants to be a bodybuilder or a powerlifter and they come to EE, we tell them to go somewhere else because we wouldn't maximize what they're after training once or twice per week. Most people don't come to us for that; in fact most athletes are cyclists or distance runners (it's Austin, they're everywhere) so once or twice a week is perfect for their needs.

Chris said...

@Ondrej & @Skyler

Interesting discussion - just reading it now after being away for the weekend.

Skyler - what would you recommend for hypertrophy given your current understanding?

Unknown said...

I don't think my view body recomposition field is complete, but I've probably at least heard of almost everything significant. I think this post sums the best options one has, based on time, equipment, goals, motivation...
Any input appreciated.

Diet options:
1)Count macronutrients, eat mostly real food.
2)Eat real food/Primal.
3)Eat mostly real food supplemented with junk.
1+2+3) Supplement with creatine.

Recovery: Sleep for 8 hours, avoid stress

1) Max Muscle Plan by Brad Schoenfeld.
2) HIIRT Efficient Exercise style.
3) Drew Baye's HIT.
1+2+3) Daily low intensity activity 30-60 minutes.

Gaby @ first steps fitness said...

I couldn't agree more. Depending on the internet alone for exercise information is not a very good idea. With so many contrasting ideas and people claiming to be expert, it's just so hard to find which one is reliable.

Andy said...

It would be a shame for one of the most interesting real world health and fitness blogs to disappear.
Rest and relaxation is pretty important eh. Thanks for the link with the interview with John, really enjoyed that.