Book Reviews Health & Wellness

Body By Science: A Research-Based Program For Strength Training, Bodybuilding, And Complete Fitness In 12 Minutes A Week

Body By Science: A Research-Based Program For Strength Training, Bodybuilding, And Complete Fitness In 12 Minutes A Week

Author: Doug McGuff M.D.


Body By Science is quite possibly my second favorite book on fitness that I’ve read (second to The 4-Hour Body.Not only does Doug McGuff give explanations behind all of his theories, but he also provides the scientific data to back it up. The whole book is pretty eye-opening if you’re an avid weight-lifter. There are a few ideas that are similar to the ideas Tim Ferriss talks about in The 4-Hour Body which, for me, solidifies their validity even more.

Anabolism & Catabolism

Although these are basic terms for anybody who has spent a decent chunk of time in the weight room already, McGuff does cover them at the very beginning of the book while setting the tone for the rest of it. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, here ya go:

Catabolism –  Anything resulting in the breakdown of an organism. In our case, catabolism would refer to the breakdown of muscular tissue as a result of weight-lifting.

Anabolism –  Anything resulting in the growth or rebuilding of an organism. Again, anabolism would refer to the muscle rebuilding after being broken down.

One Set To Failure

According to McGuff, that’s all it takes. He sites multiple studies and experiments here that show proof that there is realistically no difference between performing multiple sets with multiple reps or performing only one set, given the time under tension (how long the muscle is under stress) is the same or longer. After all the scientific mumbo jumbo is broken down, McGuff makes it clear that a single set taken to positive failure (the point at which you can no longer perform another rep) is more than enough to trigger the growth and strength mechanisms of the body. Something else McGuff mentions while on this topic is using the 10/10 cadence during each lift. It should take you 10 seconds to full push/pull the weight and another 10 seconds to put it back. This allows you to remove all momentum from the lift and keep your muscles as the only force moving the weight. Rest time between each exercise should be as low as possible, no more than 60 seconds.

The Big Five

These five multi-joint exercises are all that is needed in order to promote muscle growth and strength gains. As long as you follow the preceding protocol of pushing to positive failure on each workout with the 10/10 cadence, you should be able to see significant increases in both size and strength after only a few weeks.

  1. Seated Row
  2. Chest Press
  3. Lat Pull-Down
  4. Shoulder Press
  5. Leg Press

After doing this routine for a few months, McGuff gives different variations in order to continue the muscle stimulation during your workouts.

Final Thoughts

Again, I loved this book. Aside from the improvements in size and strength, McGuff also explains many health benefits that high-intensity weight training brings with it. He talks about how it helps lower your cholesterol levels, how it can improve your cardiovascular system, the different ways it can improve your metabolism, and then some. He also talks about fat maintenance, as well, and how society’s biggest problem today is not the sedentary lifestyle, but in fact, the amount of calories we consume. There is just so much valuable information in here. Whether you’re a health nut or not, you need to read this one.

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Avid book reader obsessed with self-improvement and learning. I read an average of one book a week on topics like personal finance, health, character building, and so on.

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One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this. So much gets published that isn’t based on science. It can be, at best, unhelpful and, at worst, harmful. Basing things on science is so much better.

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