So I recently read Body By Science by Doug McGuff and had some questions around it. It claims to be completely based on the scientific literature and lists an impressive array of studies in the notes to back up the claims. It also gives the fair warning that a lot of the content flies in the face of the conventional thinking on strength/fitness training but is not based on theory or ideas or fads but on the accumulation of sound scientific research on exercise and strength training. Yet I still feel that there is some research out there that is counter to the points they make. I say this not having actually read the research that is counter to their claims but just based on hearing/reading of it.
1. They claim the best way to get strong is through moderately heavy weight moved really slowly until failure, and around 90 seconds total work. I understood that failure was not required for significant strength gains, just heavy weights near your 1rm. 5x5, 5x3 or 1,1,1,1,1,1,1 type deals. This is clearly completely the opposite of what Body By Science says.
2. They claim Nautilis machines are the best way to get strong, yet I just read on ergo-log.com a study that showed that a 100kg backsquat is greater than a 200kg leg press. http://www.ergo-log.com/squatvslegpress.html
Plus every single person Iíve ever heard speak about strength says that you can leg press 200lbs and wonít be able to squat 200lbs but you can squat 200lbs and leg press at least 200lbs or more. To their credit they give their workout in a free weight version as well but still claim the machines are better. Again, theyíre recommendations seem counter to the other stuff Iíve read that is also supposed to be based on science.
3. They claim that getting stronger gives you bigger muscles and bigger muscles makes you stronger. I am sure I read that strength and muscle are not completely inter related and that you can be strong and not big and can be big but not strong. Bodybuilders come to mind in that they are big but not necessarily strong. I think thereís a table in Ripís book that shows the relationship between strength gains and rep range and weight. It seems to show lighter weight and more reps is hypertrophy and heavier weight and lower reps is strength, and I was under the impression it was not his table per say but borrowed from the scientific literature. This however would be science counter to the science in Body By Science.
4. They claim that the research shows that stretching doesnít increase your flexibility and doesnít help strength at all and in fact makes you weaker. I am sure I read a post on GymnasticBodies about a study that showed that a stretching program and a strength program together gives faster strength gains then a strength program alone. It also seems that my physiotherapist would be wrong when she gives me stretching exercises to increase flexibility, according to the Body By Science guys.
5. They claim that the scientific studies show that strength training more than once a week not only has no effect, training more than once per week actually slows down your progress and in some cases causes you to lose strength. The HIT/SS crowd seems to be the only people who use this once per week schedule so is their science sound and everyone else is doing too much and progressing more slowly than they could?
6. They claim that there are no exercises in a gym that transfer to real life activities, no matter how similar to something in real life; that everything is skill specific and must be trained as such, and that cross training has been scientifically debunked. So having a 100lb weighted pullup will not make you a good climber. You will get some generic strength that will transfer a bit, but you will still suck at climbing unless you climb. Or, just because you have a 150lb shoulder press doesnít mean you can put a 100lb log overhead. You would have to practice getting logs overhead, not barbells. This one I have less issue with as I remember in the games this past year the workout where the competitors had to move the sandbags down the stairs, across the court, and back up the stairs struck me as interesting. I remember a few athletes having trouble moving the wheelbarrows, throwing the bags back up the other side, and climbing the wall, which surprised me. This made me think about the skill component and how it might need to be developed to efficiently use their strength. I know Erwan at MovNat talks about skill work developing capacity at the same time. So I wanted to know youíre take on this, both from what the scientific literature actually says about skills, strength transference, etc. and from your coaching experience.
7. And in the same vein, if I have specific skill goals, like doing MovNat, would I be best served just doing MovNat and I would get the necessary strength and conditioning at the same time? Or do I still need to supplement with lifting, sprinting, CrossFit, etc.?