Welcome to the re-opening of the Body by Science blog, now located at drmcguff.com. The prior site (bodybyscience.net) eventually succumbed to Chinese hackers and malware and the host ultimately shut down the site. This was initially very upsetting as 8 years of content is still unaccounted for. Hopefully, I can retrieve this at some point and turn it into an ebook that will document the amazing journey that was BBS.
The silver lining on this otherwise dark cloud is the opportunity to reboot and take a slightly different approach. What I would like to focus on going forward is my ever-growing certainty that no matter the issue, no matter the benefit sought, no matter the disease state to be addressed, or the problem to be surmounted, strength training seems to be the answer.
Want to look better in your clothes (or out of them)? Strength training is the answer. Want to address almost any disease state (diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cognitive decline, obesity, metabolic syndrome)? Strength training is the answer.
Are you about to enter into chemotherapy? Strength Training will help prevent cachexia and even help defeat your foe. Are you suffering from depression? You guessed it… Strength training. In almost all of these situations, strength training is not just adjunctive; it is the most effective measure you can take, with other measures adding adjunctive to marginal value. It seems that we have evolved from struggle in the constant presence of gravity and our adaptation to this fact have given us a tool to solve almost any problem.
When it comes to strength training, I have some definite opinions on the best and most efficient way to perform it, but those opinions are not as strong as my belief that you should perform strength training in almost any form. Muscle has evolved over billions of years and is the most adaptive and plastic tissue there is. As such, strength training can be incredibly simple, precisely because muscle is so complex.
There are many different ways to train and skeletal muscle will adapt to them all. My only major objection as to the form of training will be towards those techniques which pose an undue risk of injury. As Arthur Jones once said “It won’t matter if you have 20 inch arms if you injure your back”. Or, as I say in my elevator pitch when people ask me about Ultimate Exercise (my personal training facility), “It’s like Crossfit… without the torn rotator cuff”.
In the past 10 years the scientific literature has exploded with studies that uncover benefits to strength training that we never imagined. Much of this linked to myokines, the hormone-like substances released by exercising muscle that signal benefits all the other tissues of the body.
Like my new focus, most of this literature focuses on the why of strength training; but as the why becomes obvious, the focus will begin to shift on the how. Once this shift happens, we may begin to find some answers to some of the most heated debates that have occurred at bodybyscience.net (as well as other sites).
Initially this blog will focus on the why as well. This is simply because I feel that strength training is the single most effective public health initiative that we could undertake.
2016 was the first year since we began tracking life expectancy where the numbers started going down. If the message spreads broadly enough, we can at worst reverse this trend, and at best, serve as a bridge to true life extension technology. But as the studies on how accumulate, we can also debate the best way to get there. I look forward to exploring these frontiers with all of you.
Doug McGuff, MD