For virtually all of us, building muscle, burning fat, and getting bigger and stronger are all incredibly difficult, even with genetics on our side. One common mistake that people tend to make when it comes to building muscle and burning fat, is thinking that high volume is the key to success. While some may indeed advocate a high volume approach to training, there are others who are convinced that high intensity training is the secret to success, and that a ‘less is more’ approach, is the key to success.
Two individuals who are of this train of thought are Dr, Doug McGuff, and John Little. If you told some people that you could burn fat and build muscle with just twelve minutes of exercise per week, they would look at you as if you were crazy, yet this approach to training is exactly what John and Doug are advocating here. What’s more, they are backing up their claims with vast quantities of science and proven research, and as you know, it’s hard to argue with science.
With their critically acclaimed Body by Science book/program, Doug McGuff and John Little look to help revolutionize the way we work out. Here’s a more detailed look at the Body by Science program.
What is Body by Science? – Body by Science is a relatively new (2008) workout program and formula that is designed to deliver maximum results when it comes to building muscle and burning fat. Best of all is the fact that it requires just twelve minutes per week, of high intensity exercise. Yes, you did actually read that right, it does say twelve minutes per week, rather than per day.
The Body by Science training protocol is designed to fatigue and pre-exhaust the muscle fibers in order to yield the most impressive muscle hypertrophy results in the shortest amount of time. John Little is a powerhouse, both literally, and figuratively, in the bodybuilding world as he has innovated numerous highly successful training protocols over the years, plus he – along with his wife, owns Nautilus North Strength and Fitness Centre. He is also a regular columnist for Ironman magazine. Doug McGuff M.D provides lectures based upon exercise science in locations all over the globe. He also owns his own state of the art training facility – Ultimate Exercise, so as you can see, between the two of them, these guys most certainly have the credentials and know what they are talking about.
How does it work? – There are obviously going to be some of you out there who simply refuse to accept the fact that you can build muscle with just twelve minutes of training per week, but just try to keep an open mind. Remember, there were some people out there who believed that social media would never take off, and look at us now – cat videos, friend requests, likes and shares, and memes everywhere!
As mentioned, the workouts that you perform should take an average of just twelve minutes per week, so obviously you are going to have to really give it your all when you are hitting the gym. If you’re used to sitting around, chatting, and browsing your phone between sets, you’re in for a very rude awakening with BBS.
The reason why twelve is the magic number is simply down to the fact that twelve minutes will be all your body can stand, no matter how hard you may try to push yourself beyond failure. By the time your twelve minutes are up, your body will be begging and pleading with you to stop, and if you’ve done things right, you will be forced to agree.
For the rest of the week, you should do no other form of exercise at all, so how great is that? You basically get an excuse to sit around and do as little as possible, while still losing weight and building muscle.
Which exercises are performed? – To get the maximum amounts of hypertrophy, heavy compound exercises must be performed. The main exercises to be performed will include:
- Chest presses
- Compound rows (seated)
- Leg presses
- Overhead presses
Things to remember – Now that we know the basic fundamentals behind BBS, let’s now take a look at how to get started and what we need to do:
4 or 5 movements – When you get started, your workout will need to consist of just 4 or 5 compound movements, which are easy to master, yet very physically taxing.
Just 1 set per exercise – Next up, the second thing you need to know is that you must perform just one working set per exercise, so you must choose a weight that really pushes you.
Heavy weight – As mentioned, as you are performing just one set, you need to ensure that the weight you use is heavy enough to target the necessary muscle fibers and tissues to achieve maximum hypertrophy. Choose a weight which is around 75% - 85% of your total 1 rep max. This weight should ensure your muscles reach total failure once you have completed your working set.
Train to total failure – Again, this cannot be stressed enough. In order to yield maximum results, we need to ensure that we train to total failure with each working set we perform. We must lift the weights until our bodies cannot possibly move the weight anymore, even slightly. If after a few seconds, you can squeeze out an extra rep or two, you either stopped too early, or the weight was too light.
Lift slowly and steadily – To really focus on targeting the muscle fibers and tissues, you must ensure that you lift the weight slowly and steadily with each rep. Try to aim for between 6 to 10 seconds of concentric (lifting) and 6 to 10 seconds of eccentric (lowering). Basically, make it as slow as possible, without actually grinding to a halt. Think of how you would imagine a Sloth, albeit a fairly speedy sloth, to lift weights in his little sloth gym.
As little rest as possible – Obviously you are going to need to rest after one exercise before you perform the next, but you should try to get as little amount of rest between sets as possible. Aim for a maximum of 120 seconds, although ideally, you should really try to go lower still.
Train for no longer than 20 minutes – Although the BBS program does emphasize the fact that workouts take around 12 minutes to complete, some people will take longer than others for various reasons, though the thing to take home here, is that workouts must NOT exceed 20 minutes per week.
Is BBS right for you? – Only you will know the answer to this question, as there are many variables to consider. If you’re one of these people that cannot sit still for more than 10 minutes, and you find you always need to be doing something, even in your spare time, then you will probably struggle as you’ll constantly be fighting the urge to exercise. If you really enjoy training in the gym, then again, that will make it tough because whereas a typical gym session may last 40 minutes or so, with BBS, you will actually be working out for not much more than 40 minutes per month!
The workouts are also extremely taxing – at least, they will be if you are doing them correctly, so unless you are willing it give 100% to each workout, again, you should go with another program. If you’re willing to learn from the experts, and to force yourself outside of your comfort zone, then BBS is ideal.