Morgan Holland

San Francisco, CA

Body by Science

  • Doug McGuff M.D. and John Little
  • Personality & Psychotherapy by Dollar & Miller - good book on learning theory 
  • Eat-Stop-Eat
  • The training programs used by 'champions' have zero relevance to the average trainee - mostly genetics
  • Competition is accelerated evolution
  • Minimum amount of physical exercise necessary to avoid wear and tear
  • Jim Fixx - author and running guru who died
  • McMaster studies - HIIT proof
  • Six to ninety seconds of effort per exercise
    • Aggressive recruitment and momentary weakening of muscles
  • Aerobic system performs at its highest level when recovering from lactic acidosis
    • Restores insulin sensitivity
    • Taps the fast-twitch muscle fibers that possess the most glycogen
  • Textbook - Metabolism at a Glance
  • If exercise is carried out for too long, glycogen begins to deplete, and protein from muscle tissue is used to maintain glucose homeostasis
  • Muscle fibers make up motor units
    • Assume 2 units of strength per motor unit, whereas an older person has 1 unit of strength per motor unit
    • Assume it takes 200 motor units to climb stairs, or 200 units of mechanical work from the body's muscles
    • Your body only has to recruit 100 motors units, while the older person needs 200 motor units, so their cardiovascular system has to recruit twice the number of units
    • Therefore, the best cardiovascular benefit comes from strengthening
  • Running for long periods burns primarily fat, not tapping glycogen stores to a significant degree, decreasing insulin sensitivity
  • HIIT activates hormone-sensitive lipase - high insulin inhibits this
  • This state can be achieved through diet that is relatively restricted in carbohydrates - Metabolism at a Glance
  • VO2 max measurements are very exercise-specific - running won't help you improve your VO2 max while biking - this is why you need to practice your sport exactly as it will actually be in competition - i.e. don't run with ankle weights to train for a marathon - deliberate practice, lots of practice (i.e. 10,000 hour expert, as long as you're critical during your practice)

Concentration (intensity)

  • Orderly recruitment - body recruits slow-twitch muscle first (endurance muscles, powerful aerobically but don't produce much force.  Fast-twitch requires the most energy to engage
  • More slowly a muscle fatigues the more quickly it recovers - fast-twitch muscles fatigue quickly and recover slowly
  • Fast-twitch motor units activate 100x more muscle fibers when firing than slow twitch (10,000 vs. 100)
  • Sequential recruitment occurs over the course of a resistance exercise where you perform contractions over 60-90 seconds until you can't complete a rep
    • Recruit smaller units first, then larger - you'll recruit fewer fast-twitch units but they'll activate way more fibers
    • Need to fatigue through slow- and intermediate-twitch muscles quickly enough that you can hit the fast-twitch muscles without the other two having time to recover, which is tough since they recover faster
    • Recruitment rate is determined by the load you select for your exercise - if weight is too light, you'll never get to the fast-twitch fibers in time before the other two are recycled back into the process
    • As soon as fast-twitch falls out of the equation as they fatigue the quickest, you won't have enough force-producing ability left to perform the last rep
  • Recovery
    • 1. Temporary recovery of the three types
    • 2. Energy/resources expended during a workout
    • Fast twitch may not recover for weeks, but count on 4 to 10 days
    • Slow-twitch are available again after a rest of only 90 seconds
    • If you opted for running instead of resistance training for progressive increase, you'd have to progress from walking to jogging to running to sprinting in order to continue to be able to tap the fast-twitch motor units
    • Strength training allows you to recruit motor units in a systematic, orderly fashion

Dosage: One set to failure

  • One set per exercise, supported by lots of studies
  • Perform activity at a threshold level within a given time frame
  • Metabolism shifts towards anaerobic nature, allows for accumulation of lactic acid
  • Fatigue rate should fall between 40-90 seconds

Dosing Frequency

  • Once a week
  • Workout itself causes some degree of temporary damage to the muscle fibers, the majority of which results from the lower of the resistance (the negative), as opposed to the raising of it
  • Recovery can truly be five days to six weeks
  • Most subjects approach limits of this approach after two years, and plateauing occurs much later if you only work out once a week (vs. even twice a week, according to Ryan Hall, personal trainer One to One Personal Training and Clinical Exercise, LLC, New Orleans)

Big Five

  • Machines, Nautilus or MedX - correct cam profiles, appropriately matches force required throughout the muscle's range of motion - result of the muscle's physical relation to the bone, which is always changing
  • Arthur Jones, creator of Nautilus
  • Hammer Strength and Southern Xercise Inc. are also good
  • Pulldown, Leg Press, Seated Row, Chest Press, Overhead Press
  • All compound exercises
  • Big Three: Leg Press, pulldown, chest press
  1. Seated row
    1. Back exercise
    2. Don't tuck elbows or flare out, just ride neutrally
  2. Chest press
    1. Upper body pushing
    2. Start with palms just in front of the armpit, don't ever stretch shoulder capsule
    3. Don't tuck or flare arms, should be at a 45 degree angle down from shoulder, hands around nipple line
    4. Stop just short of lockout so your muscles stay loaded, don't rest bone-on-bone
    5. Keep shoulders tucked down, don't hunch to compensate, don't hold breath
    6. Don't need to do decline or incline if you're doing regular chest press
  3. Pulldown
    1. Underhand grip, slightly narrower than shoulder width - wide grip can cause rotator cuff to be compressed under the overhead bony bridge
    2. All torso muscles
    3. Loads abs too - do a small crunch at the end
    4. Pull handles down to top of chest, hold contraction 3-5 seconds
    5. Start with torso erect (straight up in seat), then once contracted do a slight 'slump' - lower shoulders towards hips in a linear fashion, contracts abs
    6. As handles go back overhead, imagine pushing your hands outward in a horizontal plane - tends to load the latissiumus dorsi muscles more effectively
  4. Overhead press
    1. Upper body pushing
    2. Hands in front of you, not out to your sides, palms facing each other - don't want to flare elbows out, can hurt rotator cuff
    3. Don't arch back - fasten seat belt, focus on pushing pelvis into the belt, as if trying to move butt off the end of the seat
  5. Leg press
    1. All lower body muscles
    2. Farther angle is from linear (straight up and down) the less resistance you have
    3. Nautilus and MedX make use of offset cams to vary the resistance properly
    4. At start, thighs should be perpendicular to the ceiling, hips flexed slightly more than 90 degrees, knees as close to 90 degrees as possible
    5. Slowly and smoothly push legs out to a point just short of lockout
    6. Let weight touch the weight stack so that it barely makes a tap before transitioning back towards the straight leg position
  • Free-weight big five
    • Bent-over barbell row, standing overhead press, dead lift, bench press, squat

Rep Speed

  • Slow, keeps momentum from helping
  • Move weight as slowly as possible without degenerating into a series of starts and stops
  • Can be 5-15 seconds on the up and the same on the down, depending on the person
  • Focus on Time Under Load (TUL) - allows you to see minor variations in your performance improvement


  • As exercise becomes more difficult, deliberately hyperventilate - keeps you from holding your breath (Valsalva maneuver)
  • Goal is to fatigue your muscles, not max out weight
  • For inroads to occur, resistance you use must be meaningful, i.e. at least 75-80% of your starting level of strength
  • Don't speed up, slow down, or rest - this unloads your muscles
  • Last positive portion of an exercise may take you 15-20 seconds to complete, and the negative will be completely weight-based, i.e. you won't be able to stop the weight from slowly descending
  • At this point, attempt to contract against the weight stack to the count of 10
  • Two minutes total for an exercise
  • Try to get to a point of positive failure right from the get-go, i.e. on your first workout in the plan
  • If you misjudge resistance and are performing the exercise too long (i.e. more than 90 seconds), keep going until you hit positive failure, and increase weight by 5-10% to get you back to 90 seconds TUL
  • Measure TUL to track your performance


  • Only rest 30 seconds between exercises


  • Date, time, exercises, resistance, seat position, cadence of TUL, TUL, time elapsed from first exercise to failure on last exercise
  • Can stay on this plan for 4-12 weeks with no changes
  • If you notice a slowdown in progress, switch to a program of just one upper-body pulling, one upper-body pushing, and a leg press


  • Restrict carbs, exceedingly restricted refined carbs
  • Stretching is largely unnecessary


  • Lift for 10 seconds, lower for 10 seconds, for each rep
  • Keeps momentum from helping, and reduces amount of force to will encounter which decreases wear and tear
  • Ultimately leads to a 12 minute workout - 2 minutes per exercises, 30 seconds rest between each
  • Sleep 8-9 hours per night
  • Adequate hydration (3 liters of ice cold water per day)
  • Reduce stress - don't cultivate training angst


Tweaking the workout

  • Segmented manual assistance (forced repetitions)
    • Lift the machine's movement arm or press on your limbs to get past the sticking point
    • Performing one or two segmented manual assisted reps is sufficient
  • Partial reps
    • On either side of the speed bump
  • Timed static hold
    • At the point or location of the speed bump
    • One static hold is all that's required for 10 seconds
  • Rest-pause
    • Mike Mentzer
    • Go to positive failure, rest for 5 seconds, then go for just one more rep
  • Negative-only
    • Go to form failure - can not lower the weight in five seconds - i.e. you're not in control of the lowering
  • Try resting for 2-3 weeks
  • Reduce from Big Five to Big Three
    • Workout 1
      • Pulldown
      • Chest press
      • Leg press
    • Workout 2
      • Seated Row
      • Overhead press
      • Standing calf raise
    • Workout 3
  • Switch to isolation exercises
  • Split routine (still only one workout every 7 days)
    • Workout 1 (chest, shoulders, triceps)
      • Chest press
      • Lateral raise
      • Triceps pressdown
    • Workout 2 (legs and abs)
      • Leg press
      • Standing calf raise
      • Ab machine (truly optional)
    • Workout 3 (back and biceps)
      • Pulldown
      • Seated row
      • Shrug or lower back machine
      • Biceps curl
  • Max Contraction (hold at point of full contraction until failure - will typically be the same TUL, i.e. 60-90 seconds - don't lock out limbs fully.  Very intense, don't do more than 3-4 exercises)
    • Workout 1
      • Leg extension
      • Leg curl
      • Standing calf raise
      • Ab crunch
    • Workout 2
      • Pullover
      • Lower back machine
      • Shrug
      • Arm cross
    • Workout 3
      • Lateral raise
      • Rear deltoid
      • Biceps curl
      • Triceps extension
  • Maintenance is regression - you need to always be adding a little bit of weight every workout, even 1% - if you're tired, just take more time off between workouts, but don't keep the weight the same, you'll inevitably regress

Fat Loss

  • Ketone bodies
  • No refined carbs
  • Low insulin levels
  • Intermittent fasting
  • HIIT with plenty of rest in between workout days - amplification cascade
  • Sleep at 68 degrees or less (thermodynamics) - lots of sleep stimulates testosterone and promotes cell repair
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, not omega-6 or 9 (which come a lot from grains, so do grass fed lean beef)
  • Hydration 
  1. Eat natural, unprocessed foods
  2. Stay cool
  3. Sleep well and cool
  4. Avoid stress
  5. Employ high-intensity exercise
  • Avoid putting extra calories in your mouth in the first place, you'll notice a change in 6-12 weeks


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