I first posted this article on my nutrition website www.superwellness.co.uk in January 2014 before becoming involved with Rev5 on the business side.
At that time, before it even became known as Rev5, I had been invited by Dr Masood to trial the workout. Our paths had crossed at a nutrition conference a while before then, due to our mutual interest in metabolic health and natural weight loss. Dr Masood told me about the research he had been doing into this amazing exercise protocol shown by numerous scientific studies, to have dramatic results not only for patients’ metabolism but also in other areas like cardiovascular health, bone health and more.
It seemed almost too good to be true!
Dr Masood had travelled to the United States to meet Dr Doug McGuff, the author of ‘Body by Science’, a comprehensively researched book compiling all the scientific evidence supporting this exercise protocol. As a result, he had set up a facility for his own patients in Windsor, where they could benefit from the unique effects of high intensity resistance training.
Now over a year on, having seen the results for ourselves, the effectiveness of this approach are beyond doubt for us. As we prepare the official launch of Rev5, I wanted to re-post the original article I wrote back then for my website. I’ll also be posting the update I wrote six months later, in June 2014… the results are interesting to say the least!
My Weekly 10 Minutes of High Intensity Training. 14/01/2014
If like me you have a packed work schedule (or you’re slightly addicted to what you do for a living!) finding time to go to the gym 3 times a week (let alone every day) is probably a challenge.
I spend my days advising people to build time into their week for exercise and reminding them how beneficial it is: helping with blood sugar balancing, lifting mood with endorphins, and most of all, building up those precious muscle cells.
There’s no magical elixir which will achieve all of these things – and more. The benefits of exercise are simply unlimited, unparalleled and priceless.
When it comes to putting it into practice, I’m like everyone else, I have to push myself. I have to keep reminding myself of why it’s such a good idea and I have to keep looking for new ways to stay motivated.
So one thing which is especially important to me is knowing that the exercise I’m doing is really effective.
High Intensity Training
When I met with Dr Tahir Masood last year, he really got my attention when he told me about the high intensity training (HIT) programme he’s introduced into his clinic in Windsor. He explained that his patients visit him for a total of about 10 minutes exercise a week (yes, you read that correctly) and this gives them an absolutely optimal level of exercise.
In fact, they get the maximum benefit they could possibly get from one session, without all the time they would normally spend on a gym session. Importantly also, without the wear and tear on joints and other connective tissue.
So I decided to give it a try and for the past 5 weeks, I’ve been visiting Dr Masood for a weekly session of High Intensity Training.
The ‘Big 5’
The exercise room is quiet, relaxing and cool. Only one person trains in here at a time, and under the close supervision of Dr Masood or his personal trainer. The routine we do is known as ‘The Big 5’. It consists of 5 different exercises, each focusing on one of the large muscle groups: pulldown, leg press, seated row, chest press, and overhead press.
Dr Masood had the machines shipped from Germany, and they are perfectly calibrated so that the load is exactly the same at every single point of the exercise. The movements themselves are very gentle and slow (excruciatingly so when you get close to the end of a set!) but the effort is constant. You can feel you’re working hard but you don’t even break a sweat. No need to change into gym clothes or shower afterwards.
In a gym setting, without this specialised equipment or supervision, we unconsciously seek ways of making the exercise easier – we might use momentum as we push up a weight, or rest for a fraction of a second when we get to the top. Not here. The average amount of time you spend on each machine is perhaps 2 minutes, but all of this is work. And it’s this level of intensity which leads to results way beyond a conventional weights session.
Rock solid science
The science behind High Intensity Training is rock solid. Years of research and studies put the benefits of HIT beyond question. The best reference, if you’re interested in the research behind this is the book by John Little and Doug McGuff: ‘Body by Science: a Research Based Program to Get the Results you Want in 12 Minutes a Week’ (sorry, did I say 10 earlier?)
To explain in very simple terms, why this approach is different, you first need to understand just how important muscle tissue is. One of my nutrition lecturers always used to say: ‘Muscle is God!’ Listening to Dr Masood talk about high intensity training has really helped me understand just how true this is.
“The strength of our muscles drives our aerobic health. Basically, our heart and all of the other ‘support systems’ in the body – organs like the lungs for example – will upgrade if our muscle mass requires it,” he says. “If our muscle cells need more oxygen and nutrients, then the rest of our body will step up to that challenge, and become stronger in the process.”
So as our muscle strength improves, our organs follow suit. Isn’t that fascinating?!
The dangers of muscle loss
“This explains why many middle-aged people and senior citizens note a profound lack of both strength and endurance when they suffer from a loss of muscle, as whenever a muscle’s mass and strength are decreased, all of its metabolic systems downsize as well,” write the authors of ‘Body by Science.’
People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you will still experience some muscle loss. Barely noticeable from year to year, but imagine over 3, 4 or 5 decades, what this amounts to!
Help with blood sugars
Another unique advantage of HIT is the way it taps muscle fibres which ordinary exercise doesn’t even reach. This specific type of fibre holds most of the glycogen stores (an emergency store of glucose) and only HIT really uses up this glycogen. This leaves a gap for the muscle to pull in more glucose from the blood. The depleted glycogen stores automatically increase the muscle cells’ sensitivity to glucose. This makes this form of exercise particularly beneficial for people with insulin resistance or diabetes.
In fact, it has been shown to increase glucose uptake by 23 percent after only four months. WOW.
After 5 weeks
So what was the result after my 5 week High Intensity Training trial? (all of 60 minutes of exercise!)
My strength increased very markedly. My most impressive increase in weights is on the leg press, which Dr Masood has upped from 160Kg on day 1 to 256Kg in week 5. That’s an extra 96Kg I’m able to push with my legs (with a similar feeling of effort).
I can feel the difference outside the gym too. I never used to look forward to carrying a large basket full of wet laundry up the stairs, and now it feels truly effortless. It’s a great feeling (well, as great as carrying a basket of laundry can get!). My energy levels feel higher too, and a tightness I had in my hip before Christmas has now disappeared.
My Tanita (body composition analyser) is also confirming I’m going in the right direction: my muscle mass has increased by 0.8 Kg since I began my ‘Big 5′ regime (not bad for a grand total of 60 minutes of exercise).
If you’d like to ask me about my experience, or for me to put you in contact with Dr Masood, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 07828 293 386.
Some quotes from the book ‘Body by Science’
“The “health” territory that muscle tissue covers is phenomenal. It includes the potential for processing waste materials, oxygenating blood, controlling insulin levels, optimizing bone-mineral density, increasing metabolic rate, reducing body fat levels, optimizing aerobic capacity, enhancing flexibility, and appreciably reducing the chances of injury, while at the same time allowing you to perform day-to-day tasks with far less wear and tear and stress on your body.”
“Low-intensity, steady-state (popularly referred to as “cardio”) activity does not tap the fast-twitch muscle fibers that possess the most glycogen. Consequently, the muscles are never emptied of meaningful levels of glucose, with the result that the circulating glucose has nowhere to be stored – except as body fat.”
“The center of metabolic health is not the heart and cardiovascular system; it is the muscular system.”
“Human beings require periodic bursts of high muscular effort. In the absence of such activity, glycogen is not drained out of the muscles to any meaningful degree. When this state is coupled with routine consumption of large amounts of refined carbohydrates, a level of glucose is produced that can no longer be stored in the muscles. The muscles are already full, because an insufficient number of glycolytic fibers have been tapped. Glucose therefore begins to stack up in the bloodstream, and the body’s insulin levels rise. Because the glucose cannot get into the muscle cells, the receptors on the surface of those cells become insensitive to insulin. The body then produces even more insulin and now has large amounts of circulating glucose and large amounts of circulating insulin.”