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Audiobook: The Calorie Myth

Lose More, Work Less Exercise Program

Introduction to Eccentric Exercise

Discover What Eccentric Exercise is and Why it is So Radically Effective


Jonathan: Hey, it’s Jonathan Bailor and welcome to this Smarter Exercise Overview. I get really excited about smarter exercise because it really changes the game when it comes to how we think of moving our bodies in general. So first, let’s make one quick distinction. That’s the distinction between activity and exercise because you’ll hear me say “exercise less” a lot and I want to be really clear about what I mean when I say that. Just like when I say “eat more”, I don’t mean eat more garbage. I mean, eat more high-quality SANE food. When I say “exercise less”, I mean do less but of a specific very high-quality form of exercise and also staying active.

Activity versus exercise: Activity is moving your body — walking, standing, playing with your kids, taking the stairs. I don’t consider that exercise. That’s just being a person. If we want the ability to walk around when we’re 80, it’s a really good idea to walk around as much as we can before we’re 80. Studies consistently show that the more active we are, the healthier we are. So let’s keep activity over here and let’s keep it up. But when we talk about exercise, how do we exercise less but smarter? And why do we want to?

Well, first of all, what is smarter exercise? Smarter exercise is just exercise that’s focused on quality rather than quantity — just like we do for food. So, conventional exercise is all about more exercise — exercise more, exercise more. And why? Well, it’s because it’s designed to burn calories and the more we exercise, the more calories we burn. But you and I know that that is a “flat earth model” of weight loss. The idea that just burning more calories will cause us to burn more fat makes sense much like if you look out the window, it makes sense to think the earth is flat because it really looks flat. But when we understand science, we know that’s not how the world works and not how our bodies work.

So our bodies don’t work like math and any time we starve our body, whether that’s from eating less or from exercising more, in one case, we’re taking fewer calories in and in another case, we’re burning calories off. It’s starvation — just two different names. Frankly, if we wanted to starve ourselves, eating less takes a lot less time than exercising more. But let’s not worry about either one of those horribly unhealthy practices. Let’s stay active and let’s exercise smarter.

When we exercise smarter, instead of focusing on the quantity of exercise that we’re doing and the quantity of calories that we’re burning, we focus on the quality of our movements — the amount of muscle fiber we’re activating and the hormonal healing response that causes. Because, remember, just like with food, it’s not about starving a broken system; it’s about healing that system itself, healing our brains, healing our guts, and healing our hormones as science has shown that those are the underlying causes of obesity and diabetes; not a lack of willpower or laziness. Simply, a dysfunction in the brain, hormones, and gut that we can heal. But how do we heal those? We heal that through high-quality SANE eating and also high-quality exercise.

High-quality exercise — smarter exercise – is physical movements that activate all of our muscle fibers. So taking a step back, you know about the different muscle groups in your body. So you have your biceps, for example, that work your arm muscles and your quadriceps that work your leg muscles. Well, just like we have different muscle groups that do different things, we have different fibers within each of those muscle groups that help those respective muscles do different things.

For example, you have your Type I muscle fibers. These muscle fibers allow your muscles to generate a little bit of force but for a very long period of time. They’re the muscle fibers that allow you to walk and talk all day — little force, long period of time. Then you have your Type IIa, Type IIx, and Type IIb muscle fibers. And I’m doing this little dance with my hands for a reason because you should think of these muscle fibers as being on a spectrum because the further you go down towards your Type IIb muscle fibers, the functioning capabilities of these muscle fibers change. Specifically, our Type IIa, x, and b muscle fibers generate progressively more force and have progressively less endurance. They’re the muscle fibers we use when we, for example, need to lift something very heavy for a very short period of time.

So again, your quadriceps move your legs, your biceps move your arms, but now your Type Ia muscle fibers within both your quadriceps and your arms and every muscle group on your body allow those muscles to do a little bit of force, long period of time, whereas your Type II — and Type IIb specifically — muscle fibers allow all of your muscle groups to do a lot of force but for a very short period of time. So when we exercise smarter, what we’re going to do is we’re going to find specific modes of exercise that allow us as safely as possible to activate all of our muscle fibers — Type I, Type IIa, Type IIx, and Type IIb.

That is amazing for two reasons — actually, three reasons. First, it’s really safe so you don’t have to worry about getting hurt. We’re going to talk about increasing the intensity of exercise and often when you hear that — and for good cause — you think, Ah, increased intensity; increased risk. Because when you think of intensity, you think about throwing tires and running up stadium steps. While those are intense activities, those aren’t smarter exercises. So we’re going to do something that’s intense but extremely safe and sustainable.

The second reason this is very cool is most people have never activated their Type IIb muscle fibers, or their strongest muscle fibers. Think about how amazing it is. You have an entire type of muscle fibers, possibly multiple types of muscle fibers — maybe your Type IIx muscle fibers as well — that have never been activated. Could you imagine if you never used your leg muscles for your entire life and then today you started exercising your leg muscles? Could you imagine the amount of impact and result and the speed of the results you’d see in your leg muscles? That can happen to your entire body when you exercise smarter and activate these, let’s say, Type IIb muscle fibers for the first time in your life.

So it’s safe. It’s activating an entirely new type of muscle fiber you may have never activated before. And finally, it elicits a hormonal response in your body that is literally impossible to elicit via lower-quality conventional forms of exercise. And it’s a healing hormonal response. It’s a hormonal response that’s been shown in lab studies to literally immunize mammals against fat gain. In some pretty amazing rodent studies, they actually genetically engineered rodents to have more of these Type IIb muscle fibers and then stuffed them full of low-quality foods and found that these rodents were literally immune to becoming obese and diabetic. It is incredibly amazing. And when you exercise smarter or with more force in a very safe fashion, you activate all of your muscle fibers and you elicit this hormonal response which, again, is not possible via any quantity of low-quality exercise.

Now, I don’t want to belabor this point but I often get questions that are, “Jonathan, can I just do more exercise but as a lower intensity to get this hormonal response?” No. You cannot. I’m trying to think of a good example that I can show you here on camera. Let’s say that you have a — here we go, nothing like unscripted. Okay, so you have a pillow here and this pillow is just sitting on my hand. So if I just take my finger here and I tap this pillow — one, two, three, four — my goal is to move the pillow. You know that it doesn’t matter what quantity of low-quality taps I do to this pillow. I can do one-two-three or I could sit here and do three hundred. It’s never going to move the pillow. It’s not an issue of quantity of stimulus that I’m applying to the pillow. But now if I do one, boom, high-quality push on the pillow, I get the result I want. Same kind of thing happens here with your muscle fibers. There is no —

Activating your Type IIb muscle fibers is not a quantity issue. There’s no quantity of walking that will ever, ever, ever activate your Type IIb muscle fibers, just like there’s no quantity of bicep curls that will ever activate your quadricep muscles. They’re different things. So what we’re going to do is activate all of them, all of them — Type I, Type IIa, Type IIx, Type IIb. We’re going to do that very safely and sustainably. You’re going to do it in the comfort of your own house, or if you’re more advanced or you become more advanced, you can go to a gym and dial it up there. Safely and sustainably activate an entirely new set of muscle fibers and trigger a healing hormonal response that will do more for your body from a healing perspective to reset your set point, to heal your hormones, than any quantity of low-quality exercise would ever do. It’s literally like you’ve been written a new prescription. You’ll get an entirely new result and I’m so excited to see how you do.

Eccentric Exercise Demos 1

Join Jonathan Bailor for Smarter Exercise demos Plus an Inspiring How-To Overview


Jonathan: As we covered in the last segment, just like eating is really about quality rather than quantity, we see that with exercise, again, it’s all about quality rather than quantity. I want to make one thing really, really clear. Hunter, you asked a really good question at the end of the last segment, which is, What if I have other activities I do and I’m training for, how does this exercise play into that? And one of our wonderful viewers asked a question online, which was, I like doing Zumba. Are you saying I can’t do Zumba anymore? I want to be very, very clear that what we’re covering here from an exercise perspective and what I’m going to show you and we’re going to do together right now is not the exercise routine you have to do; it’s an exercise routine that applies the principles we’ve learned today.

Just like with eating, what I want everyone to be able to do is to understand the principles, understand the science, understand the “why,” and do smarter marathon training, if that’s what you want to do; smarter rock climbing, if that’s what you want to do; smarter Zumba, if that’s what you want to do. We all have different goals and different objectives and all we’re trying to do throughout these two days is provide you with cutting-edge science that will enable you to achieve those goals and your objectives as easily and safely as possible. So everything we talk about here, remember, these are just examples and then see how you can apply them in your own life. But if you want to do exactly this routine, you absolutely can and it will help you quite a bit.

As I mentioned, to get started, we have two options. We have at-home exercises as well as exercises we can do at the gym. I want to start with eccentric to begin with and then we’ll go into smarter interval training. We can’t do all the gym exercises here because, frankly, we’re not in a gym. But you’ll understand the basic principles and premises and then be able to do whatever you want in the gym.

Remember, when we talk about eccentric exercise, we’re just talking about adding more resistance when you’re lowering rather than when you’re lifting, so focusing on that portion of the movement. But that is easier said than done often because, let’s say, for example, let’s take an exercise like a bench press. For folks who are familiar with exercising, we’ll have some stuff in this segment for you. We’ll also go very basic for folks that aren’t familiar with exercising. So try to do it for both audiences here.

A squat – a basic squat movement – we’ve all squatted. If you’ve ever used the restroom or sat down, you know what a squat is. It’s just this movement right here. When we talk about moving eccentrically, you might wonder, Well, Jonathan, how can I use more weight on the way down such that — okay, well, now I’m down but if it’s more weight, I won’t be able to lift myself back up, right? So how does this eccentric movement work? How can I use more resistance on the way down? How can I maximize force on the way down?

There’s two general approaches to — actually, there’s three general approaches to increasing the force required during an exercise. The first, and one of the most common, is speed so you can perform an exercise faster. Sprinting is just jogging with more force. When you jog, your legs hit the ground with a certain level of force. When you sprint, that’s just jogging with much more force. The only challenge with using speed to make your muscles generate more force is it carries with it increased risk. The faster you move, the more likely you are to get hurt. Obviously, sprinting up stadium steps is a much different scenario, for example, than doing a leg press with just more weight on it.

Adding more weight to an exercise is also a way to increase force. It’s often much safer than doing an exercise faster and it is the preferred method for increasing force when exercising smarter. To be very clear, if there are people that already do sprints, sprints are a fabulous form of exercise but not all of us can sprint and if someday you get injured and you can no longer sprint, we’re going to show you ways to increase force, not through speed but through resistance.

The third way to increase force is actually similar to the first — it’s speed but it’s actually going slower. What I mean by that, for example, is, if you were doing a squat movement and you wanted to increase the challenge of the eccentric portion, what you could do is just lower the weight — in this case, the weight is just my body — very, very slowly. Like, you’ll notice that — I mean, you could try this at home right now. Sit down quickly. Okay, that’s not too bad. Try to sit down very slowly. You’ll notice it’s much, much more challenging.

Before we get into a little bit more advanced techniques on how to train eccentrically or how to just overload your muscles on the negative or extension portion of a movement, just understand that if there’s any exercise you’re already doing, from a resistance training perspective, you can make it more eccentric simply by more slowly lowering the weight. That’s a takeaway for anyone. You can make your existing resistance training routine smarter by slowly lowering the weight. What you might find is, you’re going to get a lot more tired a lot quicker because the way most people exercise is they just ignore the eccentric portion. Now I want you to focus on it. Again, you’ll notice this isn’t a “Stop doing what you’re doing”; it’s just “Do it slightly differently, do it smarter.”

Let’s say, you don’t have an exercise routine and you need a new exercise routine and let’s say you want to do eccentric training at home and let’s say you don’t have a lot of fancy equipment. How do you do that? Well, let me show you how you do that. I need a chair. Could I get a chair? Could someone throw me a chair? I’m going to show you how to do an eccentric squat at home. I’ll actually bring up some of the lovely audience members to help demo this as well. I’m going to put a chair behind me just for safety but, depending on your experience level, we’re talking about a squat. We’re talking about a basic squat movement.

A basic squat movement — and I’m not going to get into all of the kinesiology of positioning because we just don’t have enough time but, as a general rule, you want to make sure your feet are about a little bit further than shoulder width apart, you want to make sure your toes aren’t really flared out or really pointed in but at approximately neutral, and you want to do everything in your power to squat down and back. People naturally do this — I don’t mean to be crude but — when they sit on the toilet. You’ll notice that when you sit on the toilet, you naturally lead with your butt and you go down and back. That’s what I want you to do when you squat down. I don’t want you to do this. Do you see how my knees are breaking the plane of my toe? They’re going out further than my toe. Make sure you do not do that.

Try to squat down and back and the most effective way to do that is to make sure you got your shoulders back, chest out, head up, butt back, and then you squat slowly down, pushing through your heels so that your knees are approximately even with your toe. In a traditional squat, you’ll notice that — let’s just use 200 pounds. I weigh 190 but let’s use 200 pounds, and obviously I’m not lifting my legs here. Hypothetically, let’s say that I’m squatting down with 200 pounds and now I’m coming back up with 200 pounds. I’m using the same amount of force concentrically and eccentrically.

We’ve already talked about one very basic way I can make that movement more effective and smarter is to go more slowly on the way down. You can imagine trying to slowly squat down for, let’s say, 10 seconds and even trying to hold the bottom position — the bottom position of a squat for most people is going to be right around parallel, so where your legs are parallel with the ground. As you’re just getting started, your Achilles is probably not going to be flexible enough to do that so you may end up right here but your goal should be to eventually be able to develop the flexibility to squat to about parallel, if not lower. So you’re going to squat down nice and slowly, approximately for 10 seconds. Then once you get to the bottom, come back up at a natural pace. That right there is going to cause you to have a more effective squatting movement than you naturally would with wall squats.

Now, let’s say you want to dial it up even more. So you want to add more resistance. Before we get into this, there’s one way you can do that immediately. Let’s actually do it over here. As you start adding, you should generally always practice things in the safest way possible so a way to increase the safety of any sort of squat movement is to make sure you have something in front of you that you can grab onto, should you happen to lose balance, and something behind you so that if you do lose your balance, you can just sit down. Easy enough.

When you want to increase resistance on the way down — we already talked about you’re going to go slower on the way down than you are on the way up. Also, you’ll notice that when you squat, the lower you get, the more challenging it is. So if you want to challenge yourself even more, you can imagine squatting down nice and slow and then at that bottom, at that most challenging moment, just try to hold that. Just right there — hold that movement. This is called an isometric contraction and it’s a great way to increase the intensity of your exercise without increasing any risk.

One thing that’s great about everything we’re talking about here is you’ll notice this is all very slow, this is all very controlled, this is all very methodical. It’s very difficult, if you do this correctly, to injure yourself because safety is priority number one. There’s no better way to make your exercise routine completely ineffective than to hurt yourself so that you can’t do anything. So please, always put safety as priority number one and it’s a good rule in general.

If you hear about a new exercise strategy or a new exercise technique, just ask yourself, What’s the likelihood that I’m going to get hurt? Because especially as we get older, and I can tell you this from experience, when you get injured, often times, you never get completely better. If you blow your knee out like me — I’ve blown my knee out three times — it ain’t getting better. My knee is broken. So we really want to ensure that we don’t break ourselves during our effort to heal ourselves. We don’t want to experience that ironic moment.

So we squat down, we come back up, we can hold our balance by holding on to something in front of us and we’ve got a chair behind us to ensure we’re staying safe. We can increase resistance by going down slowly, pausing at the bottom, and then popping back up. But as you get stronger, that’s not even going to be enough for you. You’re going to need even more resistance. So how do you add resistance on the way down but not on the way up? Because if you do it on both ways, you’re going to get stuck down and won’t be able to come back up.

Here’s how you do this. You have two limbs — you’ve got your two legs. So what you can do is, on the way down, for example, take one leg, maybe step it a little bit forward or just consciously put less weight on one leg. I’m going to focus on working my right leg a bit more eccentrically on this movement; not so much my left leg. The way I’m going to do that is, when I squat down, I’m going to naturally push less through my left leg than I am through my right leg. So you can imagine that instead of 100 pounds sitting on this leg and 100 pounds sitting on this leg, I’m actually going to have, let’s say, 150 pounds sitting on this leg.

I’m holding on to this for balance because I’m slightly off balance because I’m putting more weight on this leg than I am on my left leg and I’m going to do everything we talked about before. Go down slowly, hold the position at the bottom. This leg was able to slowly lower 150 pounds because it is stronger eccentrically than it is concentrically. If I now tried to stand up doing that same thing, I wouldn’t be able to. But that’s okay because I don’t need to. To stand up, I’ll just use both legs equally.

So the general principle to applying more resistance eccentrically with body weight exercise is, in addition to going slower and in addition to pausing at the most difficult moment, is to use your various limbs to change the balance of weight. If you were really advanced — really advanced — you could do a complete one-legged squat. So you could say eccentrically, I’m going to squat down. Of course, you’re going to hold on to something. I’m going to squat down just with one leg, ideally for about 10 seconds, trying to hold it at the bottom. You might not be able to lift yourself up, that’s okay. Use both legs.

When you think about how cool this is, you can now take almost any exercise and with these three principles of first, going slower, holding at the most difficult moment, and then using your limbs to spot you or rearrange resistance, you can make any body weight movement smarter.

Another great and easy example are push-ups. Can I borrow that pad right there? Push-ups are a great example of being stronger eccentrically versus concentrically. It’s also a great example of how training smarter can unlock an entire category of exercises for people that they may not be able to do otherwise. Let’s consider a push-up — great way to activate your shoulders, your triceps, and your chest muscles.

How is a push-up done traditionally? The way a push-up is done traditionally is people lower themselves down so they approximately have their nose touching the ground and they push themselves up. A lot of people are actually not able to do that movement. But actually, they’re able to do half of it. A lot of people are not able to do the concentric portion of a push-up but they could actually do the eccentric portion of a push-up. So they could slowly lower themselves down for approximately 10 seconds; if at all possible, hold the most challenging position; put your knees down and push yourself up. So I’m using my full body weight on the way down, I’m moving very slowly, I’m holding at the bottom position, and then I’m using maybe half my body weight and pushing myself up gradually.

Now, of course, if that’s too challenging, that’s no problem. We can completely adapt it. You could just, say, start in a more basic position — with your knees down so you’re using less resistance, slowly lowering yourself down — my hands are too far up front — slowly lower yourself down. If you can’t push yourself up even in this case, that’s okay. That’s no problem. Just get up any way you can.

If you need to roll yourself up, that’s no problem because now you’re still able to do this movement that you’ve never been able to do before. Why? Because you’re using your muscles in the way that they are strongest. You’re you at your strongest, which is cool. And if you think about it, that is truly the opposite way most of us resistance train. We focus on lifting the weight and if we can’t lift the weight, we stop.

We talked about squats. We talked about push-ups. What about our back muscles, for example? Well, one of the most effective exercises in the world for your back is a pull-up or a chin-up. Probably pretty familiar with these — they’re very common in the military. The good news is, you don’t need a contraption like this, as nice as it is and as scary as it is. What you need is, you can go on Amazon or any sporting goods store and you can buy a door pull-up bar or if you have an I-Beam or something like that.

Now, I know a lot of the people watching are like, “You’re going to tell me to do pull-ups? I can’t. I can’t do pull-ups. That’s not going to — “ That’s okay. I’m not going to ask you to do pull-ups. You’re going to do let-downs. It’s cool because, by doing these let-downs, you’re going to be able to develop the strength that will allow you someday to do a concentric pull-up; whereas previously, you couldn’t even get started, which is exciting.

A traditional pull-up — let me make sure this doesn’t fall down. A traditional pull-up is just done like this — you pull yourself up and what you’ll frequently see is people just drop themselves down. Obviously you don’t want to do that. But if you can’t do a regular pull-up, this movement isn’t off-limits for you. Get a chair behind you, obviously have something sturdy, and then — scoot this chair forward. Just like we did with our squats, you’re going to use your legs to counter-balance some of your weight. What you can do is, just imagine you’re trying to hold this top position and then slowly take some of the weight off your legs and put them into your back so that you are trying — you’re slowly — what you’re conceptually doing is slowly lifting your feet off the chair but if you’re not — don’t just do that because you have to evaluate your strength levels.

Conceptually, you’re transferring weight from your feet to your back and arms and you’re going to do that until, despite your best efforts to hold yourself up here at the top, your muscles start to get tired and you just — you’re coming down. Despite your best efforts to hold yourself up, you’re coming down. You can’t pull yourself up. That’s fine because, just stand up. So now, a movement, again, that is so profoundly beneficial for your biceps, again, your shoulders, your back, your trapezius muscles, which a lot of us could never do before, you can now start to do when you work with your muscles in their strongest motion and you use other muscle groups in your body to essentially spot you.

You’re slowly lowering yourself down. You’re not using your entire body weight — you’re counter-balancing with your legs — and when you get to the bottom, you’re like, There’s no way I could lift myself up. That’s okay. You don’t need to. You could even step off the chair, just get back up, and do another let-down. Then, as you start to build your muscles, you will eventually, believe it or not, get to a point where, soon, you can slowly lower yourself down so your muscles will be strong enough eccentrically to handle your full body weight and then eventually your full body weight on the way up.

Squats are a great option for at-home leg exercises; pull-ups, or more appropriately, let-downs are a great way to work your back at home; push-ups for your chest; and then for your shoulders — and I know Dr. Cathy’s going to help us with a few different versions of this — shoulder press is a great general movement.

Just like anything else, if you’re familiar with the shoulder press, it’s basically like a push-up but it’s just above your head so it’s just a movement like this. The reason I’m not spending too much time on form is not at all because it’s not important but because you can go on YouTube and watch a million videos on how to do a proper push-up, how to do a proper squat, how to do a proper pull-up, how to do a proper shoulder press, or you could get a free personal training session at any local gym. They all offer one free personal training session. These exercises aren’t new; it’s how we’re doing them that’s new so make sure to perfect the form and learn the form from an expert — some qualified expert — but then just do it eccentrically.

A shoulder press traditionally would be done — in this case, I have 5 pounds in either hand — we’re going 5 pounds up, each arm; 5 pounds down, each arm. How could we increase the resistance eccentrically? We already talked about two ways. We could take it up lower and slower than we took it up. We could also do things like spotting ourselves with our arms. Let’s say, I wasn’t able to lift 5 pounds with one arm. It’s conceivable that I could lift 5 pounds with both arms and then I could spot myself on the way down where this arm, again, it couldn’t lift 5 pounds but it conceivably can lower 5 pounds — again, always using one limb to balance the other limb out.

Now, before we get some of the awesome students on stage to help demo these, let me explain why this is so exciting from a muscle activation perspective. Let’s take the squat example because the math is easy. Let’s say that when I’m doing the squat, let’s say I weigh 200 pounds and let’s say that each leg would traditionally do 100 pounds. Traditionally, if you do resistance training, when would you stop if you were just doing squats? You would do squats and then you would stop when you could no longer lift yourself. So you would stop when your leg muscles — each leg — could no longer lift 100 pounds. Right? But you and I both know that just because your leg muscles can’t lift 100 pounds, that doesn’t actually mean your muscles are completely fatigued because they could probably lower 100 pounds.

Let’s say, instead, you’re doing an assisted eccentric squat and you squat down with 150 pounds on your right leg but then when you squat up, you’re only lifting 100 pounds because you’re evenly balancing the weight between your two legs. Now, when do you stop? You stop when you can no longer lower 150 pounds. So you’re stopping at a much further point in terms of muscular hypertrophy or actually working and causing healthy damage to the muscle. You’re activating more muscle fibers, you’re requiring more force, and you will get more results than you ever have.

Again, the cool thing is, let’s say, squats don’t work for you because you have a pre-existing condition or let’s say you really don’t like push-ups because you feel like you’re going to fall and break your nose or there is really no way for you to do pull-ups in your house or you don’t like shoulder press because you have a torn rotator cuff. You don’t have to do those four exercises. They’re just four examples of how you can take a body weight exercise you can do at home and do it eccentrically and get better results. Does that make sense from an at-home eccentric perspective?

Male: I think it totally does. We do have pixelfrow [sp?] who says, “I don’t know if he’s ever tried to do a pull-up in a rickety old English house but he would pull the house down around him.” Do you have any suggestions for people who might not have somewhere in their house that they can do that?

Jonathan: Absolutely. Generally — we’re going to go very, very general here — but a pull-up is just a rowing motion above your head. You can do a rowing motion in front of your body as well and an incredibly inexpensive way to add resistance to a rowing position in front of your body is these resistance bands. You can grab a set of really good resistance bands on for maybe fifty bucks and when I say “really good,” I mean, if you want 80 pounds of resistance — like, a significant amount of resistance — there are resistance bands for that.

Let me show you really quick how you would do a resistance band row eccentrically or with an eccentric emphasis at home. Again, remember, we’re not talking about new and different exercises. We’re not saying, If you love doing bicep curls, you can’t do bicep curls anymore. We’re just saying, If you want your bicep curls to work even better, to fire even more muscle fibers, just focus on the eccentric portion.

Remember, pull-up was a row above your head basically. We’re going to do a row in front of your body. All you need — if you’re in a rickety cabin, you may still pull it down doing this but maybe it’ll be a little bit less likely to pull it down. What you would do is, just get the resistance band positioned in front of you and then you would row back — look at that, I’m moving the thing. You would just row back and then come forward. This is the traditional movement you’ve been taught. That’s the concentric, that’s the eccentric; concentric, eccentric. Learning the basic movement is no different than it’s ever been and anyone who understands exercise physiology can teach you the basic movement.

How would you do this eccentrically? You could slowly lower it more. You could focus on squeezing at the most difficult position, which is right here at the top. Alternatively, you could row and then transfer all of the resistance to one arm, assist yourself, and slowly lower it down with one arm. You very well may not — and this is a great way to prove to yourself that you’re stronger eccentrically than you are concentrically. It’s kind of a fun experiment. Find a resistance that you could easily do this with but you cannot do this with and notice how, if you do this but then try to lower it with one arm, you will be able to because you are, in fact, stronger eccentrically than you are concentrically.

Eccentric Exercise Demos 2

Watch Smarter Interval Training Demos and How-To Adapt Smarter Exercise to Your Unique Needs


Female: Question is about breathing throughout while doing exercises. Could you explain a little bit more at what point we inhale and exhale when it’s the toughest part versus the easiest part, holding the position, do we hold the breath? Could you talk about breathing?

Jonathan: Absolutely. One — with eccentric exercise, especially when we’re going very slowly, breathing is very important because if you try to hold your breath for a movement that takes upwards of 12 seconds, that’s very unhealthy so don’t try to do that. Do not try to hold your breath during these movements. In fact, what research has shown is eccentrically contracting your muscles, as we talked about, is very, very hard. It’s very, very intense. I know this sounds a little bit silly but what is the most intense physical activity some people will ever experience? Childbirth. Childbirth is the most intense physical activity — men can’t experience it but — that I would imagine a woman could ever experience, at least so I’ve been told and from the videos I’ve seen, looks quite intense.

So when you think about how people breathe during very intense physical movement such as giving birth, that’s actually very similar to the way breathing during eccentric exercise can be done. It’s this sort of rapid-fire belly breaths so it’s a [heavy rapid breaths]. Because if you try to do anything else, like, if you try a traditional — like, in traditional weight training, it is fine to do, according to some people, a holding of the breath and then an exploding out. When a movement takes 3 seconds, you could do that but that’s just a non-starter if a movement takes 12-13 seconds, which is what an eccentric squat would take. So you’re really — I mean, you’re going to look a little bit goofy doing it but you’re going to look really, really good in three months, so don’t worry about it. When you’re doing an eccentric squat, for example, you would literally go — I’m going to do it for 10 seconds — and then you could just breathe regularly on the way up.

Male: Fantastic.

Female: Thank you.

Male: We have another great question that we would love to hear. From [Foiegras and Elby in Atlanta and MI Photo 02:28], lots of people want to know, What does a complete workout session look like? How many of each exercise do you do in a set? How many of these exercises would you do in one session? What does a complete workout look like?

Jonathan: Remember, if you do already have a workout routine that you do, you could stick to that; just make it smarter. However, if you wanted a — like, if you just say, I want to get eccentric. I want to do the eccentric workout routine that you, Jonathan Bailor, are recommending. The general structure of that is going to be one set to complete eccentric failure per muscle group. For example, your legs — what you would do is one set to complete eccentric failure. Generally, I would want you to use resistance that would allow you to reach complete eccentric failure, which means, you can no longer slowly lower yourself. Concentric failure is you can’t lift yourself. Eccentric failure is you can’t even lower yourself. I would want that to take you six approximately 10-second repetitions.

It’s really 60 seconds of what’s called time under tension. The reason this matters is, for example, if you say, I’m good, I’m strong, I’m just going to do a one-legged squat and lower myself down, and you’re like, Okay, I’m going to slowly lower myself down — one, two — okay, that was 2 seconds. That’s fine. I don’t want you doing thirty repetitions to get to 60 seconds. It should take you six repetitions to get to 60 seconds of eccentric time under tension. Let’s say that you are thinking, My legs aren’t that strong so I’m going to do just a regular squat and I’m going to try to just hold myself here. Like, I’m just going to try as hard as I can to not let myself sit down. I’m just going to try to resist. And then you realize it’s like 45 seconds and you’re still here, then you’re not using enough resistance. It should take 10 seconds, despite your best efforts.

Really, a great way to think about eccentric exercise is, you just want to not let the weight push you down. In a squat, for example, you’re just trying as hard as you can to not sit down but, despite your best efforts, your muscle is fatiguing and you are sitting down, despite your best efforts not to. It should take 10 seconds for that to happen and you should do it six times. Then you would do that once per major muscle group so you would do it, for example, six 10-second repetitions for eccentric assisted squats, and then you would do six 10-second eccentric repetitions for pull-downs or let-downs, or for rows, and then for push-ups, and then for a shoulder exercise.

So the general structure is 60 seconds of time under tension to complete eccentric failure per muscle group and I personally — and we get into this a lot more detail in the book — the research I’ve done shows that you’re going to get about ninety-plus percent of the global metabolic benefit from doing legs, back, chest, and shoulders. If you want to do calf-specific exercise, you can. If you want to do forearm-specific exercise, you can. If you want to do crunches, you can; but those specific muscle groups worked in isolation are not — you’re not using enough muscle fibers to cause those hormonal changes or after.

Remember, what we’re talking about here is not how to have great calves; it’s how to change your metabolic system. To do that, you just need to work the vast majority of your musculature. To that point, please don’t ignore your legs. Honestly, if your arm is broken and you can do no upper body exercises but you could do an eccentric squat or even an eccentric lunge — and, again, I’m not going to go through every possible leg exercise you could do because you’re going to find that online — working from here to here, working your gluts, your hamstring, your quadriceps is going to activate upwards of sixty to seventy percent of the total muscle on your body.

What that means is, you’re going to get sixty to seventy percent of the metabolic benefit of any form of exercise in the eccentric arena just in the leg exercises. So please don’t do, what I call, a beach body workout, which is biceps and chest. Like, you’re not getting the metabolic results you’re after. In fact, if you were to pick one muscle group to work, it’s this guy right here because that’s the biggest muscle on your body. Having a toned, firm, and let’s call confident posterior is the single best thing you could do for your metabolism.

Male: I don’t think there are many people who would dislike the looks of —

Female: I’ll take a confident —

Male: I’ll take a confident posterior any day. Just saying.

Male: So we have a couple more questions, if you don’t mind.

Jonathan: Sure, absolutely.

Male: One from Erin — I would love to hear — Do you have any suggestions for eccentric core exercises?

Jonathan: Yep. Remember, the thing that’s so exciting about this, just like with SANE eating is, you could SANEitize anything. You can make any exercise more eccentric and it’s also a fun play on words because eccentric [pronounced “ex-centric”] means kind of strange and weird, but we’re talking about eccentric. They’re spelled the same way but they’re two different words. Let’s say for your abdominals, there’s a bunch of different abdominal exercises you could do more eccentrically.

Let’s do simple first. My favorite — one of my favorite at-home abdominal exercises you could ever do — and I’m going to have to — audio gods, forgive me. I’m going to — actually, I can’t — all right, hopefully I’m not going to break the mic but if we do, it’s live TV and it makes good live television. All right, can you still hear me okay? All right, so how is a crunch traditionally done? First of all, I wouldn’t ever recommend doing traditional crunches because they’re really ineffective at actually working your abs. You’re putting a bunch of tension on your neck; I don’t want you to do that. If you want to do a completely eccentric — like, with really no concentric movement because it’s very, very difficult to do a concentric contraction in this way, what I want you to do —

This is such a great exercise. You’re going to experience soreness in your core that you’ve probably never experienced before and it’s also great at working your lower abdominals, which is traditionally an incredibly hard area to hit. I’m talking, like, right above your pelvis. On guys, sometimes they call it the penis muscle. It’s like those muscles you see right down here. What you’re going to do is you’re going to get into a bit like a crunch position — heels flat on the floor, palms up, shoulders back, chest out — and if you’re just getting started, I want you to put your hands behind your legs like this. Again, don’t roll your shoulders forward. Keep them back. Keep looking forward. Don’t hyper-extend your neck in any direction and just slowly lower yourself back.

You’ll notice that you’re going to have to kind of move your legs out to counter-balance and, oh my gosh, you’re going to feel so much activation in your core as you’re going down. And then you can just get up however you want, however you need to sit up. But what you’re trying to do is, you’re keeping all your weight on your coccyx bone down here and you’re really — like, the real way to do this — I don’t mean the real way, I’m sorry — the advanced way of doing this is, really, it’s a balanced activity where you’re then slowly lowering yourself down like this. You can actually see my core trembling because this is putting so — it’s demanding so much force of it.

You can see this is the opposite of traditional exercise. Traditional crunches are 100 frantic concentric contractions where you’re really, all you’re doing is hyper-extending your neck and hurting yourself. You’re not even activating your core. If you want to activate your core, why not put it in a position like this and then just slowly — again, if you need help, you can use it right here — and you’re slowly lowering yourself down and what you can, again, just try to do is hold. Just hold this position. You’ll notice that the closer you get to a plane, the harder it gets, and then to completion at the bottom. Roll yourself up. Eccentric abs.

Male: That’s so great. I think maybe one more general subject area is for those of us who are just getting started with this who maybe need to lose more weight and are just heavier in general. How do you modify these? I mean, you’ve given a little bit of explanation for that but where do you think people are really just getting started and are not comfortable, not confident — where do you recommend they get started?

Jonathan: Thank you so much for asking that question. Actually, if you don’t mind, Dr. Cathy, this is a great time for you to come up. First and foremost, it’s these individuals for whom starting exercising — exercising in this way — is most important and it’s these individuals who have been most under-served by the exercise community because telling someone who’s 350 pounds that they need to go for a jog is actually very unhealthy.

Dr. Cathy: Indeed. Yes, it is.

Jonathan: So, Cathy, remind us a little bit of your background in this area.

Dr. Cathy: Well, I’m a physician. I’m a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, which is all about exercise and also dealing with people who have very significant disabilities, very significant physical impairments. We spend a lot of time working on special ways to do exercise.

Jonathan: Brilliant. So let’s — I’m so happy to have you in the audience. For a leg exercise, what would be your recommended modification for someone who’s really, really struggling with their weight and just getting started with exercise?

Dr. Cathy: Okay. First thing I want to say is shoes. I want to talk about shoes because a lot of times, people who are very significantly overweight don’t treat themselves to a good pair of shoes and it’s very important. I mean, these aren’t grand but they have really good treads. They fit well and they feel well so it’s very important to be exercising in shoes that are not going to slip on a floor that is clean or on a carpet where you’re not going to have any chance of slipping.

Jonathan: Okay. So just because you’re not an elite athlete, you shouldn’t feel like you don’t deserve to have nice shoes that will make sure you don’t slip.

Dr. Cathy: Exactly. And they don’t have to be 200-dollar shoes.

Jonathan: Exactly.

Dr. Cathy: They just have to be good shoes that work well for you.

Jonathan: Okay.

Dr. Cathy: And then, with leg exercises, sometimes people — for example, if they’re very heavy, they may be afraid of breaking the thing that they’re holding onto to do their eccentric squats. So I don’t know if we can use a wall here. I think we can.

Jonathan: Can we use this wall over here? Let’s go over here.

Dr. Cathy: Okay. Sometimes it’s good — and it’s nice if you have a hallway so that you have a wall here in front of you and a wall in back of you but what you could do is take —

Jonathan: And that’s just a foam roller.

Dr. Cathy: This is a foam roller. It’s available at wherever Walmart —

Jonathan: Sure.

Dr. Cathy: — wherever you want to buy it.

Jonathan: It’s not the same thing as one of those noodles you use when you swim.

Dr. Cathy: No. And it’s a fairly firm foam and it cost about $5.95.

Jonathan: Excellent.

Dr. Cathy: But what we can do is —

Jonathan: Sorry, you’ve got this horizontally.

Dr. Cathy: I’ve got this horizontally under — behind my butt.

Jonathan: Can you turn around? Show the good audience.

Dr. Cathy: Okay, I’ve got this horizontally and when I do my squat, remember what Jonathan said. We don’t want our feet back here. We don’t want to squat with our knees going over our toes because knees, particularly if we’re significantly heavy, our knees aren’t any stronger on a 350-pound person than on 125-pound person.

Jonathan: That makes a lot of sense.

Dr. Cathy: We have to be really careful so we want to step fairly significantly out from the wall, lean back into the roller, and then we can do very easily, if we want to, we’ll have our feet a little bit apart, but do a very easy two-legged squat.

Jonathan: Nice.

Dr. Cathy: Make sure my roller is going — well, over my microphone — and then I can hold it as long as I need to and then come up. Or, then if I want to do it with one leg, I don’t pick up my foot but I can just put one leg behind a little bit so I’m using it to stabilize. I’m putting most of the weight here on my left leg.

Jonathan: Brilliant. Yep, yep.

Dr. Cathy: But I’ve got my weight behind and so I’m able to just do this very, very graceful easy squat with one — I have very little weight on this leg but I’m really working hard on my left leg here. And then when I’m done — and I’m about done now — I lift myself up with my two legs.

Jonathan: Cathy, what I love about that right there is, especially if we’re just getting started, think about how empowering it is to know — I mean, if anyone’s ever done like a squat or a push-up before and you’re not an athlete, you know how uncomfortable it can feel to be like, Oh my gosh, I’m here. Now what do I do to get back up? What do I do? But if you’re doing what we talked about with eccentric exercise and what Cathy is talking about here, which is using one limb to help the other limb, you will never be in that position because even if you get down to the bottom and you’re like, I can’t lift myself, that’s okay. You’ve got a whole other leg you can just step forward with and then bring yourself back up so you can feel safe and confident.

Dr. Cathy: Absolutely, yeah. So it turns out this is my buddy here. I love —

Jonathan: I love that. So that’s for the legs. Anything for the upper body we should think about?

Dr. Cathy: Yeah. Upper body — some really cool things. Now, these —

Jonathan: Let’s go out in front here in the light.

Dr. Cathy: These are not only good for lifting, they’re good for handles because sometimes particularly for, not only very heavy people but for older people, we have arthritis in our wrists and our hands.

Jonathan: Okay.

Dr. Cathy: So that if we’re doing a push-up or a let-down, sometimes using this to hold onto rather than putting our hand flat out can be really useful.

Jonathan: So, like, for a wall push-up, for example.

Dr. Cathy: Yeah. And again, can I turn my back on these folks?

Jonathan: Sure, I will explain. You can look at my face and Cathy’s back.

Dr. Cathy: Again, I can choose how much work I do by how far I go out and it’s nice again to do this in a hallway so that you have something behind you. This is a really good floor and I have really good shoes so I’m going to put my feet about as wide as my shoulders and then, what I can do is, put this right here like this and then I can lower myself slowly down and just stay with my nose about an inch from the wall for as long as I want and then, instead of pushing myself back up, I could just walk forward and I’ve got that going.

Jonathan: I love that. I love that. It’s like with Carrie’s SANE — it’s like we have recipes for exercises now.

Dr. Cathy: Yeah, exactly.

Jonathan: These movements that otherwise would have been impossible for people, they can now do and you can take your existing movements and make them even better.

Dr. Cathy: Yeah. And then if I want to make it a little bit more challenging, I can do — you want to give me that chair?

Jonathan: Absolutely. Look at this. Dr. Cathy is breaking it down for us. I love it.

Dr. Cathy: Yeah. So I’m going to back up that chair right to the wall so it can’t slip. Now, I’m not going to do this with these because — I’m going to put those right here.

Jonathan: Just really quick. Before you do this, I just want to show the folks and the camera why this was helpful so could we — so you can notice when you’re holding this and using this as a grip, your arm is in a much different position than if your arm was flat like this. So you can imagine someone with arthritis in their wrist, this would be uncomfortable whereas being in a more neutral position like this would not be.

Dr. Cathy: Right.

Jonathan: All right. Sorry, go ahead.

Dr. Cathy: So what I can do with my chair is — it’s got to be a sturdy chair — but again, I can go like this and I can go on to this chair and I can slowly lower myself and I can just wait until I’ve had enough and then just walk forward.

Jonathan: So, Cathy, let me just — Cathy’s going to do a little bit of a testimonial in segment 4 but, okay, so, Cathy, you said you were a size 20W. When?

Dr. Cathy: In February of 2011 — 2012.

Jonathan: So you’ve gone from a size 20W —

Dr. Cathy: In eighteen months.

Jonathan: — to what you see here. And Carrie was just sitting here. It’s not like Carrie prepped herself before — oh, you’re not — you’re Cathy. Excuse me. Cathy’s like, Oh, he’s calling me — I’m getting excited. Cathy is sitting here, she’s doing freaking eccentric push-ups. I mean, how awesome is that? Without being really warm, without getting warmed up, you’re just rocking it.

Dr. Cathy: And I’m 67, yeah.

Jonathan: And you’re 67?

Dr. Cathy: And I’m 67. But I have some shoulder trouble now and then but the push-ups, I can do them from the floor. Probably not now, but I can do those — but I like to use my little weights. I don’t use them for anything else anymore because I have big weights that I use for this but they really helped me with my wrists because I’m also a musician and I really want to protect those wrists. But then the other thing is, I don’t do pull-ups.

Jonathan: Yep.

Dr. Cathy: Two things — I have my bar. I do have a bar, a door-mounted bar. I have it right here.

Jonathan: Oh, nice.

Dr. Cathy: Right at chin level so that I don’t have to — because it’s not really necessarily safe for an older person to be climbing up on chairs.

Jonathan: Oh yeah, or if someone is 400 pounds, getting up on chairs —

Dr. Cathy: — or somebody who’s very, very heavy. So I can just sink down —

Jonathan: See, that’s so great.

Dr. Cathy: And I can lift my feet up if I want but I start right here and then I gradually sink down.

Jonathan: See, this is amazing. Like, Dr. Cathy is showing how — so Dr. Cathy understands the science and I’m sure — you’re a physician so you understand the science a lot better than many people — but it’s like you’ve done with exercise what Carrie did for recipes. You’ve taken these principles and found ways to adopt them to your unique circumstance in life and that’s so cool.

Dr. Cathy: Yeah. Can I tell you one more thing?

Jonathan: One more.

Dr. Cathy: One thing. Exercise bands — those cool exercise bands.

Jonathan: Exercise bands, I love it.

Female: Dr. Cathy, I just want to jump in and say that the Internet is rooting for you. Ewen [sp?] says, “How inspiring.” Tielo [sp?] says, “Love Dr. Cathy.” “Wow, go Cathy.” Thank you for sharing this with us because it is, it’s really inspiring. Not everybody looks like Jonathan.

Dr. Cathy: Not everybody, yeah.

Jonathan: Thankfully. Goodness, I mean —

Dr. Cathy: Not everybody looks — well, he’s younger than my youngest child.

Jonathan: And if you like Dr. Cathy, you can actually get more of her in the Smarter Science of Slim support group at She’s our community moderator, so anyway —

Dr. Cathy: Yeah. But these resistance bands are also great for those people who don’t have a place to hang — a safe place to hang a bar.

Jonathan: Yep.

Dr. Cathy: And one of the things that — the last time my shoulder went out, my physical therapist taught me, because I was using the exercise band — is, you can take like a rolled-up magazine and put it in a loop here. Put this over a door and shut the door because a lot of times people don’t have something to hang their stuff.

Jonathan: Yep. And by putting the rolled-up magazine through there, the door’s closed here so the magazine can’t come through that door crack.

Dr. Cathy: As long as your door is really solid and you don’t get bonked in the head. But this is a really cool way to get what you need from the exercise bands. Again, two hands back and one hand forward and it really works well.

Jonathan: That’s awesome. Hey, round of applause for Dr. Cathy. Look at this. What’s going on? Thank you so much, Cathy. This is brilliant. Thank you so much.

Dr. Cathy: Thank you, Jonathan. Thank you.

Male: All right, well, so if we could get one more point of clarification —

Jonathan: Sure, yeah.

Male: Just on the concept of the full workout.

Jonathan: Yep.

Male: So you do each muscle group until you can’t and then you move on to the next one. Again, from Foiegras and a few other people, point of clarification — we do, and it takes about 10 minutes of exercise, one to two times per week because it takes a few days to recover? Or how many days a week? How do you figure that out?

Jonathan: Absolutely, absolutely. So one quick thing I want to note as well. Eccentric exercise is very challenging so make sure you’re warmed up, too. You don’t want to jump right into one-legged squat — here we go — cold. You’d want to do some regular squats beforehand to get warm and then you’d ease your way into the more intensity. What you would do generally, the standard routine for someone who’s just getting started is one day a week, you do the four major exercises — legs, back, chest, shoulders — till failure. That takes about 60-90 seconds per muscle group. Of course, there’s going to be some warm-up. There’s going to be some transition between exercises but when it’s all said and done, the actual work time is about 10 minutes.

It’s amazing. You block off a half hour of your day, you get it done, and you’re done with resistance training for that week because if you’re doing it correctly, if you’re doing it with sufficient resistance, if you’re going to complete eccentric failure, your question the next day will not be, How could this work if I only do it one day per week?, but rather, How am I going to get up the stairs because I’m so sore? And it’s a good healthy sore. Then you’re going to do one other thing — so that’s one day a week — and that’s a great segue into the smarter interval training because then you would do smarter interval training a different day of the week.

So I would say start — not start the week — but whatever day, it’s Monday — do your smarter eccentric training, wait two days — two to three days, then do your smarter interval training, then two to three days, eccentric training, two to three days, interval training. When you get really advanced, what you will notice is you will actually have to cut out the interval training because you get so good at eccentrics that if you do intervals, you will not be able to do your eccentrics three days after doing intervals because your muscles didn’t have enough time to recover because you’re hitting them so adequately.

Speaking of how to make cardio smarter and smarter intervals, let me show you how to do that right now. My preferred way to do this is on an inexpensive stationary bike. I’m intentionally saying inexpensive because there are stationary bikes that cost two thousand dollars because they have a freaking multimedia display on them because we’ve been told we need to spend two hours on the bike and the only way a sane person can do that is by watching a movie or distracting themselves in some way because it’s like being on a human hamster wheel. It’s incredibly boring.

You don’t need that and you don’t want that. If you don’t already own a bike, you would grab — they have bikes on Amazon for about two hundred bucks that are assembleable by anyone in about an hour. I think, Carrie, you have one, I have one, Cathy has one. You can grab them — we have a SANE store on the website. It just links to Amazon so it has all of our recommended products so you can check that out. It’s linked to there.

You want, not a cheap, but a non-electronic bike because the way you add resistance is mechanically. The reason mechanical resistance is important versus digital resistance — like I set this on Level 20 — is, for most bikes, for example, Level 20 is the highest they go and you have to sit there and press the button over and over and over again, whereas a mechanical bike has no upper bound to the amount of resistance you can add because it’s just metal on metal. You can also increase and decrease resistance very rapidly — I am hopefully not going to break my mic but if I do, we’ll just make good TV.

The way you would do smarter interval training, first and foremost is, you have to pick a device or a machine that is no impact. Not low impact, no impact. So people say, “Can I run smarter?” Technically, yes. The way you would run smarter is by adding resistance. The way you would add resistance while running is by running on an incline or running at a faster rate or strapping a parachute to your back, but that’s not our recommended approach because it’s extremely high impact. I want you to have ways to increase resistance without increasing any negative stress on your body because, remember, safety is priority number one. Cycling is no impact at all.

What I mean by no impact — and this resistance is really cranked up right now — is you’ll notice that when I cycle or when I use, say, an elliptical machine or a rowing machine, there’s no banging or sharp transition. When I jog, my legs are hitting the ground and bouncing back up. This is one fluid movement. The traditional way you would do cardio on a bike is to find some level of resistance that is really not hard because you have to do it for 30-60 minutes. It’s not at all what you’re going to do here. We’re going to take the same time under tension approach and we’re going to take the same increasing resistance approach or similar that we did with resistance training. Like resistance training, you need to spend some time getting warmed up. Generally, the way you see intervals done is people would then recommend that you burst and you go really, really, really fast. And that does work; however, it does increase risk. If you take someone who’s non-athlete and you tell them to move their body very, very quickly, that can often be a recipe for disaster.

How else could we increase force while being on this bike? We could just crank the resistance up and we could crank the resistance up so high that no matter how hard we try to pedal, no matter how hard we try to pedal, we’re pushing, we’re pushing. We have to stand up and we’re pushing. We’re not moving fast. We’re trying to move fast but we can’t and we’re literally almost like doing one-legged leg presses and one-legged squats over and over again. At about 30 seconds, you’re like, Oh, and then you stop at 30 seconds — again, not because you’re lazy but because it’s physically impossible for you to continue. Now, if you want, you could just keep going on the bike and do a bit of a cool-down but you would get about 60 seconds to 2 minutes to completely catch your breath. You will be completely winded when you finish this 30-second segment. Carrie, you are nodding your head violently.

Carrie: Yes.

Jonathan: I think you even had an experience at your house where you fed some of your SANE foods to your friends and then they tried to do smarter interval training. Smarter interval training right after eating a lot of SANE food sometimes doesn’t work so well, right?

Carrie: Yeah. One of them had to go to the bathroom.

Jonathan: Yes. Make sure you don’t get SANE right before getting eccentric or smarter on the bike. But the key thing — again, it’s going to be about three to six reps where a rep is one of these 30-second intervals where it should take you 30 seconds to get to this point. Thirty seconds done. Right? Two minutes. If you want to do two minutes on the bike, you can but what I like to do, just to be really time efficient, is to use the time in between sets to stretch. Just for me because I don’t naturally stretch. I would do upper body stretches, just general stretching; after 2 minutes, hop back on the bike, repeat that — so three to six 30-second bursts with 90 seconds to 2 minutes in between so that you completely recover your breath.

The reason I want you to completely recover your breath is because it’s every single one of those 30-second bursts. I want you to be able to maximize the muscular force. If you are out of breath, you’re not going to be able to do that. And that maximizing muscular force is an important point. That’s again why this is infrequent. Because if you do this, what I just described, correctly, if you do smarter interval training correctly and at the end of 30 seconds, you literally physically cannot move your legs anymore and you try to do that again the next day, you will not be able to. It’s not because you are lazy, it’s because you’re smart. Right? It’s taking you dramatically less time to get better results. If someone’s in a classroom and they finish their test and they ace their test in a quarter of the time it takes the rest of the students, they’re not lazy; they’re smart. That’s what we’re doing. We’re just getting more done in less time because we’re being smart about it.

So to answer the question, day one — do your eccentrics, wait two to three days, smarter interval training, two to three days, repeat. Then once you get to the point where you notice that, Man, I did my smarter intervals three days ago and I’m trying to do my eccentric squats and I can’t do them as well as I did them last time, you know that you haven’t yet recovered from your interval training. Don’t ever train if you’re not fully recovered because you’re not able to generate all the force we’re dealing with. It’s like picking off that scab. We want to make sure that our muscles have healed after we healthfully break them down or we’re compromising the metabolic benefit. So that’s the full routine.

Female: We do have a couple of questions on this for you, Jonathan. We have people who have other devices, other gear that they already own. In addition to an exercise bike, could you do this on a real bike? What about a recumbent exercise bike, an elliptical? Are those things that you can apply the same practice to?

Jonathan: You can make any exercise smarter. There are some exercises which are the smartest, let’s say. The gauge to evaluate whether or not something is a good device to do intervals on is how risky it is to add resistance. What I mean by that is, if you were riding a regular bike, the only way to add resistance is on a hill or to strap a parachute to your back or to — I mean, so you can add resistance but it’s not natural, maybe, is the right word in standing with running. Like, you can add resistance. It’s just very difficult. But on an elliptical, it is very easy to add resistance. You might find that, quickly, the resistance isn’t enough and that you’ll be able to go for longer than 30 seconds because most elliptical machines are not mechanical in their resistance. They’re digital so you will upper bound. But things like rowing machines that you can manually –

Anything can be done smarter but machines that are no impact and that allow you to very safely add resistance are the best options. So if you do go to the gym, of course, I recommend investing again. It’s like two hundred bucks to get a bike like this and if you just think about the gas that you’ll save over the course of a year, you’ve paid for the bike so you don’t necessarily need a gym membership. The bad news is, if you do this correctly, eventually you will need to buy a gym membership because you will get stronger than you could ever imagine and it will quickly become impossible for you or not practical for you to add enough resistance to make these exercises as difficult as we’re talking about making them. But, remember, they’re still very safe without going to a gym.

So if you’re at a gym, the four exercises which most closely approximate the exercises we just covered would be a leg press, which, for folks who aren’t familiar with leg presses, usually a machine where you’re either seated or you’re laying down and your legs are just like this and you’re pushing out. The way you would do a leg press eccentrically — hopefully now is somewhat obvious — where you could do it slower or you could push up with two legs, take one leg, put it on top of the machine, lower with one, push up with two. Put leg on top of machine, lower with one, push up with two. Put leg on top of machine, lower with one, push up with two.

Much more advanced — and this gets more and more advanced — but sometimes people say if you wanted to do, for example, lunges. You could do an eccentric lunge in the sense where you could hold dumbbells and you could lunge down, put the dumbbells down, stand up, squat the dumbbells up, lunge down. So there’s all kinds of crazy — I mean, it’s just like SANE eating. This is really just a toolkit that we can apply in so many different ways. There’s really no way to squat with a barbell eccentrically. In fact, that’s very dangerous because there’s no way to then off-load resistance if you have 300 pounds sitting on your back and you’re in this position so be careful about things like that. Generally, I recommend using machines at gyms to train eccentrically because there’s no balance required and you can always spot yourself and, in case you get stuck, you can let the machine to catch the resistance. So you’re doing leg presses for your legs.

For your back, you would continue to just to pull-ups. You could do pull-down but I would always recommend that you do a pull-up rather than a pull-down. It’s one of the most effective back exercises you could ever do. The way you increase the resistance is by strapping weights to your waist. You would put a weight belt on, the dumbbell hangs in between, and you would, if you can, you’d get a power rack like this, there’s little devices stuck in here, you’d step up, you’d get to the top and then you would just try to hold the top position. So you might not be able to do a pull-up with 45 pounds hanging between your legs but you can do a let-down. It’s the same basic movement but you’re just adding resistance.

For chest, you would do — there’s a couple of creative ways for chest. You could use a horizontal chest pressing machine and just push up with two arms, lower with one, spotting with the other arm, and then you would do six 10-second reps for this arm. Push-up, six 10-second reps for this arm. You could also do a movement — so chest generally has two movements, a press and a fly. Flies are more difficult than presses so you could take dumbbells that you can’t fly up but you can easily press up. Press them up, fly them down, press them up, fly them down. So it’s making it more difficult on the way down. Shoulder press — get on a shoulder press machine, push up with two, down with one, push up with two, down with one. So, same basic movements but when you have these machines that you will probably never have at your own house, you can add a heck of a lot more resistance than you easily could in your home.

At-Home Leg Eccentric Exercises


Jonathan: Hey, it’s Jonathan Bailor. Excited to invite you into my living room to chat about assisted eccentric squats. So the first thing to keep in mind is that these are going to be a “getting started” exercise with this and every other form of exercise. When it comes to smarter exercise, remember that the key is activating all of our muscle fibers and the way we do that is by exerting as much force as we can as safely and sustainably as we can.

The exercise I’m going to show you here, which is your at-home assisted eccentric squat, is going to be perfect for individuals who are just getting started, individuals who are carrying a lot of excess weight. But if you’re already someone who’s fairly fit, what I’m going to show you here might not be sufficient. You may need to apply these same principles using equipment at a gym, such as a leg press.

But let’s just focus on the general approach because, as you know, eccentric exercise, or smarter exercise, isn’t a whole new form of exercise. It’s not a new exercise you need to learn; rather it’s a way to perform any sort of exercise so that it maximizes the hormonal healing that takes place in your body and allows you to permanently change that system rather than starving that system.

Assisted eccentric squats — with any eccentric movement, what we want to do is focus on the lowering portion because that’s where our muscles are the strongest. Why not take advantage of our muscle strength, right? It allows us to use the most force possible. For example, when you perform a squat, squat is just like you’re sitting down on the pot. The reason I say “on the pot” is because most of us naturally stick our butt out and sit back when we’re going to sit down on the pot and then we stand up. We don’t do things like this where our knees come forward. You really don’t want to do that any time you do a squat movement. You want to make sure that your kneecap stays behind or even with the front of your foot. So, again, nothing like this. We’re going down and back. You really want to stick your butt back, your chest out, and go down.

Now, traditional squat — and any exercise has two movements — the down and the up, or the eccentric and the concentric. So this is the eccentric portion of a squat and this is the concentric, or the muscles contracting. Now, there’s nothing wrong with concentric movements — we’re going to do them — but we want to make sure that we’re maximizing muscular force and because our muscles are stronger eccentrically than they are concentrically, we need to use more force eccentrically, or on the way down, than we do concentrically. And here’s a creative way to do that while squatting.

First, you want to make sure you’re safe. What I recommend is that you have something very sturdy to hold onto. This really isn’t sturdy enough. Ideally, you would have something like a banister or a railing — something that is not going to move — and then grab something to put behind you. So imagine, for example, an ottoman. The reason we have the ottoman is just in case we lose our balance. You don’t want to fall down. Remember, priority one — priority one — is always safety. If you get hurt, that is the quickest way to sabotage any exercise routine so it’s not smarter exercise if it’s risky.

When we do a smarter and an eccentric squat at home, we’re going to assist ourselves. Traditional squat — and this just might be how you get started if you’re very new to this — grab something just to keep your balance and then you’re going to squat through your heels. The force should really be going through your heels. You’re sticking your butt back, chest out — kind of like you’re in the military standing at attention — but really get that butt back. You’re going to go ahead and squat down and back, down and back.

You kind of notice here, my knees aren’t coming forward. I’m just going down and back and, in an ideal world, you’d squat to right around parallel so that your quad or your thigh here is parallel with the ground. Then you’d come back up. Now, that’s just a regular squat. No change there. That’s a squat. You’re sitting down. You’re standing back up. And you’re not using your hands for support here; you’re just using them for balance so you shouldn’t be putting a bunch of attention on your arms. If your arms are flexing, you’re using your hands too much.

So if you’re just getting started, squat down really slow and then back up. And generally speaking, when you’re breathing, I want you to do something that seems a little bit like the breathing when females are giving birth, or this Lamaze-type breathing. So you’re going to do this burst-based belly breathing, which is like [heavy rapid bursts of breathing] — short, powerful breaths throughout the movement. That helps to dissipate the substance called cortisol in your muscles so you can go for longer — but that’s a little too much.

Okay, squatting. How do we use more resistance on the way down than we are on the way up? Well, pretty easily. Right now when I’m doing a squat, I’m putting fifty percent of my body weight on one leg and fifty percent on the other leg, so lifting myself fifty-fifty. What I want you to do is just try to put more weight on one leg than the other while obviously keeping balance. So if you’re just getting started, what you’re going to do mentally is say, I’m going to just try to put more weight on my right leg. So it’s almost like you’re standing on one leg but you’re not, you still have your leg here for comfort. What might be helpful is to actually take the leg that is not going to be the load-bearing leg and to put it maybe up front a little bit or just somewhere else where it’s not going to be as easy for you to use that leg to push up with.

So that’s what I’ll do here. I’m going to do this with my left leg. So I’m going to put my right leg forward a little bit just to remind myself this is not the leg that should be doing work on the way down. I’ve got my left leg here planted and what I’m going to do is, very slowly, for 10 seconds, I’m going to lower myself down, trying to put as much of my body weight on my left leg as possible. So I’ve got my hands for balance, I’ve still got my other leg for balance. I’m going nice and slow. When I get to the bottom, now if I try to lift myself with just one leg, it’s not going to happen because, remember, you’re stronger on the way down than you are on the way up. But you can certainly lift yourself with both legs so you bring your other leg back, stand up. So you do a regular squat up and then you assist yourself doing a one-leg eccentric squat down. So a really advanced person, for example, might actually just lift this leg up completely and do a one-legged squat. We’re not there yet so you’re going to just put that forward or keep it here. The point is, you’re trying to put as much resistance on one leg as possible on the way down, very slow, for 10 seconds, and then you’re going to lift yourself up with both legs.

Now, how much weight should you be putting on one leg? You should use the amount of weight that forces you to be done in 10 seconds. What I mean by that is this. If you can just hold this forever, if you’re just sitting here, “Hey, this isn’t too bad,” that means you’re not putting enough resistance on your one leg. Similarly, if you’re like, “Wow, I’m really advanced. I’m going to lift this leg up” and go, Oh, and you fall, that means that’s too much resistance. It’s kind of like Little Red Riding Hood. Not too hot, not too cold — right in the middle.

So what you want to do is you’re counting to 10, you’re breathing [heavy rapid bursts], and if you start to go down too fast, meaning it’s going to take you fewer than 10 seconds to get down, you need to use this leg more. If you’re not going down slow enough — because really what you should try to do — just try to not go down. Just try to hold yourself up. But this leg should be not helping you so gravity should be forcing you down.

Literally, you’re not thinking to yourself, “I’m going to lower myself down for 10 seconds.” What you’re thinking to yourself is, “All right, I’m going to try to hold this position. Oh, man. Yep, can’t hold it, can’t hold it. Oh, I need some more help because that’s more than 10 seconds. Can’t hold it. Whew!” 10 seconds to the bottom. Stand up.

What you’re going to do is six repetitions. So one repetition is [counts to 10 while squatting], stand up. That’s one repetition. So you’re going to do six 10-second repetitions or six 10-second eccentric lowers and you’re going to stand up however you want. And you’re going to switch your legs and do that for the other leg. So that’s 60 seconds’ time under tension for both legs.

So again, remember, just summarizing. You’re putting as much weight as you can on one leg such that if you try to stand up, gravity forces you down in 10 seconds. But make sure you’re using as much resistance as you can safely handle because if you’re just kind of going through the motions, remember, you’re not going to activate those Type IIb muscle fibers. Stand up. Repeat that six times. Switch legs. Repeat that six times. And you’re done with your assisted eccentric squats.

If you want to add even more resistance, again, you can lift your leg up or, if you can find additional forms of resistance — so this is a weight vest. You can actually wear this while you’re doing your squats. Or what some people like to do is hold it in one hand while they squat down. You could do that similarly with a dumbbell. The reason I bring that up is because, again, remember, every single week, you should be looking to add resistance, add resistance, add resistance because your muscles get stronger just like your brain gets stronger. Once you learn your multiplication tables, just rehearsing them over and over again won’t make you smarter. You have to move on to harder math problems. Same thing applies here. So every week, try to use a little bit more and more resistance, six 10-second eccentric repetitions per leg, and you’re done.

At-Home Back and Arm Eccentric Exercises


Jonathan: Hey, it’s Jonathan Bailor. Let’s talk about assisted eccentric rows — a very exciting exercise — because our back muscles conventionally are some of the least used muscles ever when it comes to exercise — ever, ever, ever. And what’s a shame about that is our back — I’m pretty sure you know what your back is but in case you’re unfamiliar, your back is that back part of your body — anyway, your back is your second largest muscle group. So your legs are your largest muscle group, therefore your most important, therefore we want to make sure we’re rocking those assisted eccentric squats as well as our smarter interval training. If you want to get great results, focus the vast majority of your efforts on your legs but, second to your legs, is your back, which is really often ignored, and one of the challenges because of that is, it’s hard to feel when you’re working your back muscles.

If you’re doing push-ups, like in our other videos, or if you’re doing shoulder presses or you’re doing abs, you’re pretty familiar with what it feels like to work your chest or your arms or your shoulders or your abs. You know what that feels like. Really working your back muscles is pretty unfamiliar for most people but, again, that’s exciting because you have this whole, this second largest muscle group on your entire body, chances are, has really not gotten exercise over the years. So just imagine, that’s like untapped earth. There’s a goldmine there which you’re just ready to expose. You’re going to see some great results very quickly. What’s key is to understand how to do these movements eccentrically so that we work the most muscle fibers in our back as possible.

Now, if you’re advanced, things like pull-ups and chin-ups are going to be your best bet here. And the way you do those eccentrically is incredibly simple. So, a conventional pull-up — you’ve probably seen it in army movies and everything like that — is, you’re hanging from a bar, you’re pulling yourself up and down. But that’s a very challenging movement so I’m actually not going to cover that here. What I’m going to cover is the basics of how you do that movement eccentrically and I’m going to show you how to do a more basic movement in the comfort of your own home called the row. But if you are able to do pull-ups and chin-ups or are close to being able to do pull-ups and chin-ups, the way you do those eccentrically is very simple — very simple. Instead of [inaudible 02:07] down and pulling yourself up and lowering yourself down, what a lot of people do is just drop themselves down, which is not what you want to do.

Start at the top position. Just get a bench or something at the gym, stand up on it, get in the top position, and then lift your legs up and just try to hold that top position. And if you watched the other videos, you know that the goal isn’t to lower yourself really for 10 seconds; the goal is to try to hold that top position. But then gravity starts pulling you down over 10 seconds so you have enough resistance where gravity forces you down over 10 seconds. So when it comes to pull-ups, very simple. You’re not really doing a pull-up. You’re starting in the top position. Maybe you’re even attaching some weight via a weight belt and then you’re trying to hold that position but gravity pulls you down slowly over 10 seconds. If you can’t go for 10 seconds, it’s too much weight. If you can go longer than 10 seconds, it’s not enough weight. But if you’re not ready to do pull-ups or chin-ups yet, start with rows.

Now, rows are very easy to do at home. So you can use dumbbells, bar bells, you can use resistance bands, which is my preferred way of adding resistance because it’s inexpensive and it’s convenient to travel with. Again, you can get great resistance bands at for thirty bucks. The way you’re going to do a row — it’s a very, very basic movement. I mean, you’ve already — if you’ve ever opened a door, that’s basically a row. But we’re just going to do that with more resistance here. A row isn’t a new exercise. What I’m going to do here is, I’m just going to show you how to do it more eccentrically. So if you were to buy resistance bands, they would tell you, “Hey, here’s how you can do a row using resistance bands.” You stand and you’re going to row the weight up.

But now, how can you lower more weight than you raise? So here, let’s say this resistance band is 40 pounds. I’m going to raise 20 pounds with either arm, lower 20 pounds with either arm. Now, you might be thinking, Well, the way I’m going to add more resistance when I raise is like I did with the other exercises. Maybe I lift with two hands but lower with one. That’s not going to work here because each of our arms are working independently and if you try to transfer the weight over to one hand, it just doesn’t work. So what you can do instead is use tempo to your advantage. So, like I say, you always want to lower for 10 seconds. But with this movement, you could imagine — just get the weight up and try to hold it here for 10 seconds.

So it’s not perfect in the sense that, in an ideal world, you would literally have more resistance. You would literally be using more resistance on the way down than on the way up but not everything in life is [inaudible 04:35] so if we can’t use more resistance on the way down than on the way up, what we can do is really focus on getting that movement — get it up and just try to hold it for 10 seconds. So we’re not actually using more resistance but because we’re doing it more slowly — take a break at the bottom, really get that up there — it’s like using more resistance on the way down.

Now, an alternate way of doing this is — we can get creative. So I have a weight vest, for example. A weight vest is weight you wear when you’re doing things like body weight exercises, such as squats, to add resistance but you could also use a weight vest for something like a row. And this just shows, again, get creative. Have some fun with this. It doesn’t have to be so, so rigid. Just find a way to have resistance in a safe way and have fun with it.

So we’re going to get in our position to do a row and, again, if you’re not familiar with how to do a row, there’s also some resources to teach you how to do that. Let’s talk about how to do it eccentrically here. With this kind of a row, with this kind of resistance here, I am lifting one source of resistance with both arms. This vest weighs, I think, 50 pounds. So when I lift it up, I’m lifting 25 pounds per arm and I’m lowering 25 pounds per arm. When I used that resistance band, I was having two separate sources of resistance. So for example, here’s an easy way to illustrate the point I’m trying to make, which is a shared source of resistance versus separate sources of resistance.

This is separate sources of resistance. Here’s an easy way to test. If you let go with one hand, [snaps] that happens. So it’s a separate source of resistance, meaning, if one hand releases, it falls; whereas if you have a shared source of resistance, if one hand releases, the other hand is still there. So this means that one source of resistance is evenly distributing its weight across both of your limbs. A squat and a push-up are other examples of this. So any time you have a shared source of resistance, where each arm isn’t working independently, you can use the technique we’ve talked about before, which is, you row the weight up with two arms and then you slowly lower it with one. Now, this, again, isn’t an optimal form of resistance because it’s hitting the ground so it’s lowering — the resistance is less when this is sitting on the ground than when it’s fully raised. But you can, again, see the point, the intention, here because that’s what’s cool. We’re using our brains.

We’re going to lift 25 pounds per arm and then I’m just going to hold all full 50 pounds and then gravity is going to lower it down. This isn’t optimal because I can’t get a full range of motion. Maybe I could stand on something so that this didn’t hit the ground but again, you can see the power here. The power — that’s cool – is, in a conventional world, you’d lift 25 pounds with both arms — 25 pounds — and then you’d stop when you couldn’t lift 25 pounds.

But what you’ll find — and this is a great way to prove to yourself that you’re stronger eccentrically than you are concentrically — is, let’s say, for example, you had this weight vest — come over and visit me — you got this weight vest and you try to lift it with one hand doing a row. You might not be able to. If you try to lift it with both hands, you will be able to. And then when you get to the top, you’ll see that you can lower it with one hand. How’s that possible? How is it that I can lower the weight with one hand but can’t lift it with one hand? Remember, lowering it — eccentric contractions — your muscles are up to forty percent stronger. Literally, you will be able to lower forty percent or more than you will be able to lift.

So if you’re doing a row, a pull-up, a push-up, a shoulder press, a squat, any exercise in the world, the key is, let’s find safe, sustainable, slow ways to add resistance so that we’re maximizing the eccentric movement, working the most muscle fibers possible, triggering as many healing hormones as possible, and getting the best results possible. For this and every other exercise, it’s six repetitions, each taking 10 seconds, and then you’re done for the week.

At-Home Chest and Arm Eccentric Exercises


Jonathan: Hey, it’s Jonathan Bailor. Excited to introduce you to assisted eccentric push-ups — a great exercise to work your chest muscles as well as your shoulder muscles as well as your triceps or the back of your arm, and really a great exercise to learn what eccentric movements are all about. This is a really, really simple one. It’s a great way to get a good feeling for the movement and I recommend it’s actually one that you get started with. Certainly, your squats and your smarter interval training are the exercises that are going to give you the most benefit long-term as they work the most musculature on your body or your lower body. Remember, about sixty to seventy percent of all the muscle on your body is below your waist so you want to focus at least sixty to seventy percent of your time exercising below your waist, not so much on things like curls and abs. Those aren’t going to make the big systemic metabolic difference; your legs are. But that’s not what we’re talking about. Focus, Jonathan.

We’re talking about push-ups. First, again, eccentric exercises are not a new form of exercise that you need to learn; it’s just a new way to perform existing exercises you’re likely already familiar with. So when we say “assisted eccentric push-up”, all I’m saying is, here’s a way to do a push-up that will focus on the lowering action, thereby maximizing the amount of muscle fibers you use rather than limiting the concentric action. What I mean by that — a little bit of a less exercise physiology way of phrasing it — so traditional push-up, you’re probably very familiar with. You just go down and up. But for a lot of people, that’s a tough movement, especially if we’re carrying around a little bit of extra weight, if we have a weak upper body. So the idea of just doing a push-up is not something that’s available to us, which is unfortunate because it’s a great exercise. So how can we make this exercise more useful?

First of all, remember that there’s two parts to every exercise. There’s the eccentric, or the lowering, and the concentric, or the contracting or the raising. Now, while you may not be able to do a full concentric push-up — so while you may not be able to do this, I bet you’re able to do, let’s call it, a lower down. So imagine, keeping your knees on the ground — you might want to put a pillow or something under your knees if you’re doing this on hard wood; of course, you can do it on carpet as well — so you put your knees down on the ground and then you lower yourself down nice and slow, nice and slow, nice and slow. And then, again, you might not be able to push yourself up but that’s okay. Just get up however you can because you’re just going to focus on the eccentric movement. So again, let’s do that again.

Traditional push-up is going to be full body weight down, eccentric, up, concentric. That’s the hardest way to do a push-up. If you want to make that really hard, you would do the eccentric down slowly for 10 seconds, as we talked about in other exercises, and then back up. But if you want to work your way up to that movement, you start with not your full body weight. So you start on your knees, you get in a proper push-up position — proper push-up position is where your hands are spaced out such that when you go down, your upper arms are about perpendicular with the ground and your hands are even with your chest. So obviously your hands shouldn’t be way up here, your hands shouldn’t be way back here, your upper arms should be at about a 90-degree angle with your torso and then your forearms should be at about a 90-degree angle with the ground. So this is too close, this is too far out, we’re looking at 90-degree angles everywhere. And if you go on YouTube and you type in “proper push-up form”, certainly there’s thousands, literally, of videos that go over how to do a basic push-up.

What I want to focus on here with you is how to focus on the eccentrics. Eccentric, most basic, is with knees down, 10 seconds down. [counts] That wasn’t actually 10 seconds, but imagine it was. So if you can push yourself up now, that’s fine. Do it. Push yourself up. That’s excellent. Then you’re going to go down [counts]. If you can’t push yourself up, that’s okay, get up however you can, and then you’re going to lower yourself down. Now, if you’re a little bit more advanced, what you might be able to do is actually the eccentric portion of a regular push-up. So you put your feet back, your butt up, your body is perpendicular — excuse me, about parallel with the ground, you lower yourself down for 10 seconds — this isn’t actually 10 seconds — and then I want you to push yourself up not using your full body weight because, remember, while you might be able to lower or eccentrically contract using your full body weight because you’re stronger that way, you might not be able to concentrically do it, so that’s okay.

Again, we’re focusing on the eccentric and then use the less resistance on the concentric. And then if you are really advanced, remember, just do a regular push-up except focus on the lowering portion for 10 seconds. Just master the basic push-up form and really start to get that feel for what it’s like to take as much of your body weight on as possible for 10 seconds and, again, how much of my body weight should I use? However much forces you to be done at 10 seconds. Like we covered in the squat video, it’s not that you’re trying to lower yourself for 10 seconds, it’s that, for example, if this is too easy and you could just hold this for an hour — probably not an hour — then put your feet back and maybe go to the most challenging position or the movement, so right here, and then just try to hold that for 10 seconds and then push yourself up. And then repeat that 10 seconds six times.

Now, if all of that is a little bit too challenging and you’re just getting started, what you can do are wall push-ups. Wall push-ups just take even less of your body weight and apply it to your chest and shoulder muscles. Instead of pushing off the ground, what you would do is just stand a few feet back from a wall, put your hands in the same position as a regular push-up — and remember, you can learn how to do a regular push-up from a personal trainer; not new exercise, just a new way of doing the exercise — and then you would lower yourself down to the wall, touch your nose to the wall, and push back up. Again, if that’s too challenging, if you’re recovering from an injury or if you’re carrying a lot of extra weight, you might be able to lower yourself down, then step forward, just get repositioned, and lower yourself down.

But, see, what’s so cool about this — what’s so cool about eccentric exercise, in addition to all the hormonal benefits — is that, for example, a push-up, which you may have never been able to do in your entire life, a push-up is a great exercise. It does so many wonderful things for your body. But if the choice is between “be strong enough to do a regular push-up” and “never do push-ups,” that stinks because a lot of people aren’t yet able to do regular push-ups.

Well, you certainly will be able to do regular push-ups when you work your way up to them. The way you can work your way up to them is at the most basic level, starting with eccentric wall push-ups and then moving down to knees-on-the-ground eccentric push-ups. Again, only lowering down, not worrying about raising up. Then, before you know it, you’re going to be strong enough to do the full eccentric/concentric —

Again, very slow, 10 seconds on the way down, get up however you can, 10 seconds on the way down. We’re going to do 10 seconds for this and every other exercise for six repetitions, 60 seconds’ time under tension and you’re going to see amazing results.

At-Home Shoulder and Arm Eccentric Exercises


Jonathan: Hey, it’s Jonathan Bailor. Let’s go over assisted eccentric shoulder press. Like every other exercise, shoulder press is not a new exercise. It’s not some new-fangled gadget or gizmo that you need to learn. It’s a very basic exercise. If you type in “how to do shoulder press” into your favorite search engine or ask any personal trainer, you will learn exactly how to do a conventional shoulder press, which is a great way to work your shoulders and your triceps.

What we’re going to cover here is how to do an eccentric shoulder press so that you work the most muscle fibers, trigger the biggest hormonal response possible, and heal your system. Again, it’s not learning new exercises; it’s learning a new technique you can apply to all your exercises to make them infinitely more effective.

If you’ve watched the push-up video — and if you haven’t, I would recommend that you do — shoulder press is very similar to a push-up. Push-up is this movement; shoulder press is this movement, so it’s like a push-up over your head. How do we do a shoulder press where we are lowering more resistance than we are lifting? Traditional shoulder press is done with dumbbells or a barbell, for example. So if you have a 5-pound dumbbell in either hand, you’d be lifting 5 pounds and lowering 5 pounds but then you would stop when you could no longer lift 5 pounds, which isn’t actually when your muscle fibers are fully exhausted because you could lower the 5 pounds because you’re stronger eccentrically.

How do we make sure we eccentrically fatigue our muscles? Here’s how. This is a non-optimal prop but I wanted to show you how flexible this can be. Ideally, you would have a dumbbell. You can even use resistance bands. I’ll also show you a way to do this using your body weight but if you’re just getting started, you could use a moderately heavy object such as this CD binder — remember CDs? Pretty bulky. So what you would do — and this is, again, just illustrative — so I’ve got my CD binder here.

Traditional shoulder press means pushing up, lowering down, pushing up, lowering down. Just like with any exercise, it’s a good idea to get warmed up, maybe do some standard shoulder press just to get warm. But let’s say this CD case weighs 10 pounds — which it very well may, it is surprisingly heavy. So imagine right now I’m lifting 5 pounds with my left arm and 5 pounds with my right arm because I’m doing 5 pounds on either arm, total of 10 pounds distributed evenly. So I’m pushing it up, lowering it down.

How do I use more resistance on the way down? Well, like we did with the squat, you can imagine I’m pushing up with both limbs and now I’m going to try to kind of slowly lower this with one limb. I’m spotting myself, you can notice here, so if for some reason, I kind of lost control, I could catch the weight. I don’t want to drop the weight. Also, you could just maintain grip with both hands but focus on lowering it using one arm more than the other, using the other arm to spot yourself.

Again, instead of being 5 pounds on either arm, right now you could imagine I’m doing 10 pounds on one arm, which I might not be able to lift but I could lower. I might not be able to lift 10 pounds with one arm. I could lift 5 pounds with one arm — both arms here — and then I could lower 10 pounds with one arm. When it comes to actually doing the shoulder press with proper form — this is a critical, critical — all exercise forms are critical but I really want you to focus on this one because it involves your shoulder, your rotator cuff, which is a very sensitive joint,so really make sure you’ve got the form nailed here. But the point is, just like any other exercise where you traditionally use both of your legs or both of your arms, you can use both of your arms to lift the weight and one arm, or use one arm to spot the other arm, to lower the weight to have a stronger eccentric load than a concentric load.

Now, another way you can do this using your body weight is a derivation of the push-ups since these are very similar movements. A push-up, as we talked about, is when you’re flat. Now, if you want to put more of the emphasis on your shoulder, what you can do is get your body a bit more like a V. You can see this is obviously not a push-up position; this is more of a V position. And then what you would do is you would slowly lower yourself down for 10 seconds and then push yourself back up. But again, that’s pretty challenging. That’s using your full body weight on the way down and on the way up so you might not be able to do that. What you might be able to do is slowly lower yourself down for 10 seconds — that wasn’t 10 seconds — and then just get up however you can.

Don’t worry if you can’t do both the eccentric and the concentric. I want you to just focus on getting stronger and if you focus on the eccentric long enough, you will get strong enough to do the full eccentric and concentric. So you would just get in that top position — and look up “V push-up” on the Internet or “shoulder press push-up” for a bunch of examples of this — and you would just slowly lower yourself down for 10 seconds, making sure you’re breathing [rapid heavy bursts] like we talked about in the squat video. Get all the way down. Can’t push yourself up — that’s fine. Stop.

If that’s not challenging enough — with this and any other exercise — find the most challenging position. Usually it’s right before you stop, so it would be right at the bottom, and then hold that for 10 seconds. Remember, you’re not trying to lower yourself for 10 seconds — for this or any other exercise; rather, you’re trying to hold the position. But because you’re using so much resistance, gravity will force you to go all the way down.

Those are just two ways that you can take a traditional shoulder press and use more resistance during the eccentric portion than the concentric portion, activate more muscle fibers, trigger more healing and unclogging hormones, and get dramatically better results. Like every other exercise, you’re going for six repetitions, 10 seconds each.

At-Home Eccentric Abdominal Exercises


Jonathan: Hey, it’s Jonathan Bailor. Let’s run through how to apply our smarter eccentric exercise principles to an ab exercise. Now, this ab exercise is not part of the core Smarter Exercise routine. The reason for that is that your abs is a relatively small muscle. Remember, the exercises that we’re doing here are specifically targeted at working as much muscle as possible so that we trigger the biggest hormonal response as possible.

Now, your abs, your biceps, your triceps — these muscle groups get a lot of attention but they’re tiny and it really doesn’t matter if you spend a lot of time working them until we get our body fat levels down to a certain point because if you have excessive body fat, it doesn’t matter how strong your abdominals are, you’re not going to be able to see them. That doesn’t mean that having a strong abdominal wall isn’t important; it’s extremely important. But remember that the exercises we are focused on here are specifically designed to work the most muscle possible, to trigger the largest healing hormonal response possible, to burn as much fat, and to heal our brain, gut, and hormones as much as possible. We have a very specific goal so we do very specific exercises.

That said, as you’ve heard in other videos, I get so excited about this eccentric approach because it can be applied to any exercise. Let’s say, you do want to do some abdominal work and you want to activate all of the muscle fibers in your abs. Now, if you’re going to do this, again, please make sure you do your squats, you work your legs, you do your chest press, your shoulder press, your pull-ups, your rows. You’re working your big muscle groups first but if you want to do abs, you can — with the understanding that it’s icing on the cake, not the cake itself. That’s probably a terrible analogy to use but, oh well.

How would you do crunches traditionally? The way crunches would be done traditionally, it’s a quantity over a quality model — and you know what I think about that. It’s all about quality. Quality, quality, quality. Conventional crunches that are about quantity are just about [counts], do 800, and get terrible results. Spend a lot of time, get bad results. We’re not going to do that. We want to use a lot of resistance, we want to activate a lot of muscle fibers. The best way to do that is to get in – now, this is an extremely challenging movement so I’m going to show you a couple of variations of it. I’m going to show you the most advanced variation first just so you can see what you’re working towards.

So what you would do is get on a flat surface and you would position so that you’re on your tailbone. You’re really sitting on your tailbone such that your heels are touching the ground, you’ve got your shoulders back, you’ve got your chest out, and then what you would do is you would slowly — so you can see I’m just — I’ve got my tailbone on the ground, keeping my shoulders back, chest out, slowly lowering myself down, almost parallel with the ground, holding, holding, holding. Whew! That is hard. That is extremely hard. Then you would get back up into that top position and, again, you’re slowly lowering yourself down.

Now, a couple of ways not to do this — sometimes the best way to learn how to do an exercise is to learn how not to do an exercise and then you just accidentally end up doing it. So here’s what not to do. For example, to go down like this and just to lower your leg — that’s not what we want to do. Another thing that’s not proper is to roll your shoulders forward. You want to roll your shoulders so you want to keep your back back. I tell you, you will immediately feel — this is your abdominals. You’re going to feel something in your abdominals as you’ve never felt before, especially in your lower abdominals — that really difficult area to get strong. These are really going to help with that.

If you can’t do this most advanced movement, there’s a couple of ways to simplify it. The first will be to put your arms underneath your thighs here and use this to slowly lower yourself down. Again, you’re not grinding your shoulders forward. You’re still keeping your shoulders back, chest up, and you’re sitting not forward — again, you’re sitting on your tailbone. Now, just try to lean back without falling back. You’re using your arms here to help support you but, just like every other exercise, you want to only use your arms enough so that the resistance forces you down in 10 seconds. Again, you’re not like, “This is easy. I could keep going but that’s 10 seconds so I’ll stop.” Remember, that’s not how we want to do this. It’s all about resistance.

What you would do if you were going to help yourself is, you would only use your hands enough such that you got to stop, you got to stop, and then you can crunch your way back up. If you want, you can help yourself back up. But really, what you’re going after — and I like to use abs because this really shows the contrast between conventional quantity-focused exercise, which has gotten us nowhere and actually left us worse off over the past forty years, which, again, in that model, here’s what we do [counts]. My gosh, we’re flailing. You’ll notice it’s concentric. No eccentric. We’re just flying back. We’re just flying around, flopping around, nothing’s happening. We’re just hurting ourselves and getting sweaty. Not good. What we’re doing here — the exact opposite.

You can see it’s almost like a Pilates or yoga. It’s a very powerful movement and we’re trying to hold that movement and it’s strong and it’s slow and it’s deliberate. It’s almost like you’re chiseling. You’re a sculptor. You’re sculpting your body. I love that metaphor because when you think of a sculptor, they’ve got their chisel and they’re very delicate because they’re creating something that’s artful and beautiful. They don’t have a chainsaw. No, we’re not after that. We’re going to sculpt our bodies so it’s very slow and controlled. That doesn’t mean it’s not challenging. In fact, it’s heck of challenging. The slower you move, the harder it’s going to be.

Again, just imagine, the ideal world is this — slowly lowering yourself down for 10 seconds. It’s going to be most challenging at the bottom so if you could hold this, more power to you. If you’re not there yet, you’re going to help yourself on the way down with your arms behind your legs. Focus on slow and controlled six sets of 10. Remember, quality over quantity.

At-Home Smarter Interval Exercises


Jonathan: Hey, it’s Jonathan Bailor. Let’s run through Smarter Interval Training. This is a really, really exciting option. Interval training has been studied extensively — extensively — and you’ve probably heard about it in terms of things like HITT or, excuse me, HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT training. Certainly, things like CrossFit and other examples of higher intensity exercise are becoming very, very popular. What gets me really excited about smarter interval training though is two things. One, you can do it in the comfort of your own house and, two, it’s incredibly safe.

In the past, if you’ve heard about high-intensity training, you may have been scared — and rightfully so — because you might think of sprinting up stadium steps or flipping tires, which, if you’re a highly trained athlete, might be a good idea, but if you’re not, could expose you to injury unnecessarily. But with high-intensity interval training done in a smarter way, like you and I will cover here today, you can ensure safety while activating all of your muscle fibers, getting that clog-clearing hormonal response and getting better results; healing the system in less time than you ever thought possible, not because you’re lazy but because the exercise is so effective.

The way we do that is by increasing intensity by increasing resistance rather than increasing speed. I’ll often use the example of sprinting versus walking. If you sprint, you can only sprint for, let’s say, 10 seconds because you use up your energy quickly whereas, if you walk, you could walk for a long period of time. But sprinting requires moving faster and when you move faster, you expose yourself to injury. So what if we could get the same effect and more of sprinting without increasing our risk of injury? Well, that’s exactly what smarter interval training allows us to do.

Now, really quickly, I’m going to show you how to do smarter interval training on a stationary bike — an upright stationary bike — otherwise known sometimes as a spinning bike. This is a perfect piece of equipment to do smarter interval training on because you can easily add resistance and you can add resistance quickly and you can add resistance infinitely because it’s mechanical. There’s a little mechanical dial here which physically applies pressure to the wheel which is infinite. You could just keep adding resistance and you can add it quickly.

There’s a lot of really expensive exercise equipment that doesn’t allow you to do that and you don’t need it. You just need something very simple and you need something that allows you to add resistance without adding risk. For example, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to do smarter interval training just by running because there’s no easy way to add resistance. Even if you run up a hill, there’s only so steep you can go so there’s not an infinite way to add resistance. Similarly, with jumping rope. You can jump rope faster but, again, there’s a limit there and you’re increasing intensity by increasing speed rather than increasing resistance. So really, upright stationary bikes, I found, are the optimal piece of equipment to do this on and, best of all, they’re really inexpensive.

This most basic stationary bike – and, remember, basic is better because we want it to be manual or physical rather than digital. This was about 200 dollars on Amazon. When you look at these gym memberships and pill, powders, and potions, and all this nonsense, getting a 200-dollar bike delivered to your house and being able to use that forever, not having to drive back and forth to the gym or all that nonsense is really a great deal. So anyway, I’ve got my upright stationary bike and you can actually see I didn’t attach the seat. You will see why in a moment. It is because we will not be sitting and casually riding the bike.

Smarter interval training — how do we do what is conventionally thought of as a cardiovascular exercise in a smarter fashion to activate all of our muscle fibers? As you know, it’s about using more resistance. So what we’re going to do is, you would get on the bike, like you normally get on a bike, except what you would normally do is sit down and, according to conventional wisdom, read a magazine while you pedal for an hour and a half. That’s not what we’re going to do. Or, according to conventional high-intensity interval training, you’d get on the bike and you would just pedal as fast as you possibly can. You’re flailing for 30 seconds, you’d stop and you’d rest for 2 minutes, and you’d repeat. We’re not going to do that. It’s going to be similar to that but much safer.

First thing, of course, you’re going to want to get warmed up. Let’s just imagine that you’re already warmed up. What I’m doing right now is lessening the resistance on the bike. So you’re already warmed up. You’re noticing I’m standing. I’m standing intentionally because this is the most forceful position I can be in if you’re climbing a hill, for example. So what you’re going to do for a smarter interval — a regular interval would be you’re just going to start pedaling as fast as you possibly can — but again, that’s risky. So what I want you to do instead is you’re warmed up and then you’re going to crank the resistance on the bike as high as it will go till you can barely pedal.

So you’re doing this — whew! – and, remember, you’re pushing as hard as you can. It’s like you’re climbing the steepest hill on the Tour de France. You’re pedaling, you’re pedaling, and then at 30 seconds — so you’ve got a stopwatch or you’re counting or you’re looking at a clock — 30 seconds, you’re like, Ugh, you can’t move the pedal. Then you lower the resistance and you lower the resistance and then you just pedal regularly for 2 minutes or you can even just step off the bike. You’ll notice I never have my seat on because you never sit down doing interval training. Then you would just wait for a minute to 2 minutes till you get your breath back because you want to make sure that you can go full-on during that 30 seconds. You get your breath back, you get back up on the bike, and then you go crank the resistance up, crack the resistance up —

How much resistance should you use? Well, you should use as much resistance as 29 seconds, 30 seconds — literally, if I said, “I will give you a million dollars if you can push that pedal down.” You would say, “No million dollars for me unfortunately.” So then you’d stop, you could reduce the resistance if you want, you could get off the bike and walk in place. I personally like the walking in place because it gets me off the bike, gets my mind reset, helps me to get my blood flowing, get my breath back. Then when you get your breath back, you’re back on the bike, 30 seconds.

Remember, the key distinction is standard intervals. Instead of sprint, here it’s kind of like you’re sprinting except you’re cranking the resistance up so high that you can’t move quickly. By using more resistance, you use more muscle fibers and you get better results, which is awesome. So what you’re going to do is five 30-second repetitions. Get warmed up, 30 seconds, rest for a minute or 2 minutes, 30 seconds — so each 30-second burst, for lack of a better term, is a repetition. So you’re going to do five 30-second bursts.

Now, I’m going to warn you — if you’re new to this, if you’re new to this, make sure you’re warm, make sure you’re warm and ease your way into it. This applies to all of our exercises. Ease your way into it. Ease your way into it because, honestly, at the end of 30 seconds, especially at the end of five 30-second bursts, there will be no question in your mind that, “Five 30 seconds. That doesn’t seem like a lot of exercise.” I promise you that if you do this at the proper level of intensity, you will never question if five 30-second intervals is enough or if 2.5 minutes is enough. Rather, your question will be, “How the heck do I walk back to the kitchen?” because your legs are going to be so sore.

This is also a great exercise because it allows you to really easily see how far you can push your body in a safe fashion. We’re all a lot stronger than we’re led to believe and when you do these smarter intervals, you will really be able to see that. Five 30-second intervals. Remember, at 30 seconds, you’re done. Not because you just want to be done but because you literally can’t go anymore. If you can’t make it to 30 seconds, that means you need to lower the resistance. If you can go more than 30 seconds, that means you need to increase the resistance. Ideally, every week, you’re increasing the resistance just a little bit more, just a little bit more, just a little bit more and you’ll get better and better results.