Body By Science Summary

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When it comes to health and fitness generally, my two favorite books are Body By Science by Doug McGuff and John Little, and all of the books written by Dr. Jason Fung.

It’s interesting how much Body By Science breaks with how people traditionally thnk about working out.

One of the main tenets is that you should only be working out once a week. And this one time usually works out to being 15 minutes in total. So basically Dr. McGuff is advocating working out around 12 minutes a week… total!

Most people are use to the idea of working out for a long time and usually around 3 times a week.

When I tell people about how I’m training, most look at me like I’ve gone nuts or just trying to take a shortcut (i.e. being lazy). People who haven’t read the book will say to me that it’s not optimal and that the best training program is the standard 3x a week.

For me, I just care what the data says despite how counterintuitive it might sound.


Principle 1: Frequency

Workout once a week (maximum twice a week) to ensure proper recovery and for long term sustainable growth.

I think that if you’re just starting out, twice a week is fine but if you’re no longer making progress, then you should increase the time in between your workouts. It can even be up to 2 weeks, for example, in between your workouts depending on the condition of your body.

Principle 2: The Five Big Exercises

Focus on the five big exercises. You can see these below:

I’ve added exercises for the biceps, triceps, and abs on top but they’re optional.

Principle 3: Go Slow.

Do the positive and negative movements very slowly. Around 5-10 seconds each.

Never lock up or extend out fully so that you always maintain a consistent load without letting your muscles rest.

Principle 4: Time Under Tension

You’re no longer counting the number of reps.

Rather, the main focus is on how much time your muscles are under tension.

Ideally you’re working out at around 70% of your maximum weight and time under tension of around 45 seconds to 2 minutes or so.

Remember to maintain your weight load at all times during the time under tension.

Principle 5: Total Muscle Failure

Don’t stop when it starts to get hard. Push past that.

Imagine David Goggins.

The intensity of your strength training is going to determine whether all fiber types (especially fast twitch) are actually used in order to stimulate the biggest possible reaction.

The fast twitch fibers were generally activated in our “hunter and gatherer” history when there was some kind of emergency.

These tended to be infrequent. These fibers which if completely fatigued would take around 4 to 10 days to properly recover.

By pushing past our psychological stopping point, we’re trying to activate the same mechanisms. And really where we get our greatest benefit. Each additional effort that you apply at this point will necessitate a bigger recovery period. This is also part of the reason why the recommended recovery time is around 1 week.

Concluding Thoughts

I’ve gotten the best results so far with body by science (I’ve been on it for about 3 years now) more so than any other methods.

I’m also combining it with Intermittent Fasting where I’ll do my Body By Science workout at the end of the fast, and then break the fast with my post-workout meal.

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