German Volume Training GVT – Experience So Far

So far I can say that it is by far the most gruelling workouts that I have ever done. It starts off fairly easy because the weight isn’t anywhere close to a maximum lift (it’s closer to 75%) but after a few sets the fatigue begins to set in and it becomes tougher and tougher. By set 5 I am questioning whether or not this is the day that I’m cutting my workout short because I realize that I’m only half way through.

Others report that sets 7 and 8 are the toughest and then things begin to get easier, and I’m starting to notice this too. Mentally, set 6 is the worst and physically sets 7 to 9 are brutally hard – particularly on back day when I’m doing pull-ups.

The pump I get is decent but my body tends not to hold it for the full duration of the workout. The only exception is day 4 when I train arms for 10 sets of 10 then 2 shoulder exercises for 3 sets of 12. My biceps get so bloated that I find it really tough to curl the weight completely. I don’t normally train my arms because they have always seemed to grow enough with just the back, and the chest and shoulder workouts that I do. They’ve responded extremely well to the direct training GVT prescribes.

I have been at it for just over 3 weeks and am enjoying the changes that my body has gone through over the last 24 days. My muscles look fuller than normal and I have delayed onset muscle soreness throughout the entire length of the muscle vs. just at certain parts. While DOMS doesn’t necessarily indicate that you have had a good workout, paired with the new fullness of my muscles I’ll take them as a good sign.

Why We Over-Eat

20 Minutes to a Hard Body Get Full Without Getting Fat, And Other Tips by t-nations Chris Shugart paints an interesting picture of why human beings act the way they do when it comes to food. All in all, we are far from a perfect species that uses advanced and accurate methods for determining when we’ve eaten the right amount of food. In fact, most of us possess the biology that ensures that we over-eat at every possible opportunity.

We don’t have immediate feedback from our bodies telling us we’ve eaten enough. It takes about 20 minutes for food to be digested enough that glucose gets into the bloodstream and the hormones start working.

20 minutes is just long enough for us to eat about twice as much as we need to so it would appear that we’ve evolved to TRY to get fat. This is fine and good when there isn’t a surplus of food and we need to gorge every chance we get. But there’s no shortage of food in our modern world to this system gets in the way of eating appropriately.

Lesson – eat a small to medium sized meal and wait for 20 minutes before eating a second helping. If you are still hungry, eat a little more. If you aren’t, you made the right call stopping.

… secretaries ate more chocolates when they were easily within reach, and they ate more when they were visible instead of covered. And the kicker here is that they usually didn’t realize they were consuming more calories from closely-placed foods.

This is pretty amazing when you think about it: If a human being sees food within reach, he’ll eat it, even if he’s not hungry. If that same food is a few feet away and/or hidden from view, he’s less likely to eat it.

So seeing food makes us want the food. Great mechanism in a world where there isn’t a lot of food because we’ll eat EVERY chance we get, but this doesn’t make sense now given that we have an abundance of food.

Lesson – make sure you do not have easy access to any food that you don’t want to eat or know you shouldn’t be eating.

Think High Volume, Low Energy. By “energy” I mean calories. Some foods are calorically dense; others aren’t. The idea here is to have low-density foods with every meal so you’ll feel full without adding tons of calories. Basically, you’re taking up space in your stomach so you don’t eat so damn much.

The stomach will send stop eating signals to the brain when it gets physically full. This is a secondary and less accurate method for determining satiation but the outcome is the same, we stop eating.

Lesson – if you want to eat less overall, eat high volume, low calorie yield foods.

Bulking Phase – Decreased Cardio, BCAAs and GVT

My job at SST has exposed me to a lot of different mass and strength training methods that I have never tried before. On November 1st I picked three things to try so I can see what happens to my body.

Decreased cardio. After about 45 minutes of intense exercise the body begins to release cortisol. Cortisol has a wasting effect on muscle because it breaks down protein. When I was riding 12-15 hours a week in the summer, my body spent a lot of time in a catabolic state. I’m hoping to change that by doing one hour of cardio a week in the form of my Wednesday evening RPM class.

Taking branch chain amino acids BCAA’s. Most strength coaches recommend taking BCAA’s because of their ability to stimulate protein synthesis. Poliquin recommends taking 20-40 grams of them during a workout so I’ve bought a big bottle and started taking them before and during my workouts.

Trying German Volume Training GVT. Another Poliquin theory being tested. 10 sets of 10 reps done super-setted with two antagonistic movements. E.g. 10 reps of narrow grip pull-ups then 10 reps of decline press then 90 seconds rest. Repeat 9 times. It takes about 30 -35 minutes and it is brutal. Really hard mentally because it is hard and boring.

Last November I did my first bulking phase and of the three things I’m doing now, the only one that I am repeating is to cut back on the amount of cardio because of the amount of evidence there is that it dramatically impairs muscles development.

New Challenges – Moving In With Rachel – Month 3

November has started so Rachel and I have been living together for more than 3 months. October had a couple of significant events so I learned a lot about Rachel, our relationship and about myself. Here are a few of the things I took out of October:

  • It can end at any moment so enjoy all of it. Rachel’s flat tire on the Gardiner Expressway served as a wake-up call for us to get rid of any complacency that had developed in the relationship.
  • The English language is a robust and often entertaining way to communicate. There are subtle regional differences that make for some funny conversations. I had never heard the term “pig house” before I moved in with Rachel and when she said that she didn’t want to live in one, I laughed as loud as I could because of the mental picture it creates. She didn’t find it nearly as funny as I did when I asked her if she called a barn a cow house.
  • We both sleep better when we go to bed at the same time. Rachel was staying up later because she had midterms in the middle of October and I had to leave for work earlier, so I was going to bed a few hours before her. During these nights we never really got in sync and comfortable with each other being in the same bed.
  • Most of the time our role is not to solve problems, it is to listen to problems. Most of us know the solution, we just need to talk our way to it.

Check out part 1 and part 2 of this series.

Be Careful What You Read – Comment On An Editorial Conclusion

The skinny on fat by The Telegram is an editorial comment that is based on a study released by the American Institute for Cancer Research. The full report is available at if you want to read it. It is an average read and confirms a lot of what people have been saying about cancer and environmental influences. It contains a really nice break down on the impact of specific environmental influences on specific cancer rates. It is worth checking out.

I do not believe, however, the author of the Telegram editorial article took the time to read anything OTHER than the summary of the report. It wouldn’t normally be a big deal but they drew a conclusion that I wasn’t able to find in the report:

But whatever mysteries remain, the study stresses there’s no question that fat fuels cancer rates, to the point that the AICR believes poor diet causes as much cancer as smoking.

The study does not stress that there is no question that fat fuels cancer rates. The study doesn’t say much about fat at all. It reports a lot of findings about BEING fat, or over-weight as determined by BMI, as it relates to cancer but it doesn’t make any statements about actual fat. There is a very good reason for that – no one eats a diet of just fat.

The cited report is an epidemiological and meta analysis study that correlates dietary factors to the incident rates of various cancers. It is NOT a experiemental study that controls any dietary variables. These types of studies have a good track record in science but cannot be used to draw any causal conclusions as the author of the editorial has done.

I think this is an important point to make for a number of reasons:

  1. It is irresponsible for an author to attribute their claim to another person or group
  2. It is irresponsible to report feelings as facts
  3. Misinformation is rarely helpful because it moves one away from facts

In a more general sense, unprocessed fat is NOT harmful to an individual when consumed in the right combination with other macro-nutrients. Eating fat with high glycemic index carbohydrates will result in greater fat storage but eating it with protein will not. For example, eating a large steak with a salad will result in less fat storage potential than eating a small muffin with butter. The stake may have more fat calories than the muffin and butter combination, but since it and the salad do not contain any carbohydrates that rapidly increase blood sugar, there is a lower chance that the body will go into fat storage mode.

I don’t blame the author for drawing the conclusion that they do because fat = bad is something that has been said so often that it understood to be a fact. However, to attribute this understanding to the World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research is just wrong. They haven’t made that claim in their report and it is unlikely that they will ever make this claim. Their conclusion is that being OVERLY fat WILL increase your likelihood for developing certain types of cancers.

Has Human Evolution Stopped? Friday, November 2nd, 2007

Our Ancestral Mind in the Modern World: An Interview with Satoshi Kanazawa introduces some interesting ideas about why we do the things we do.

In fact, we’re not playing catch up; we’re stuck. For any evolutionary change to take place, the environment has to remain more or less constant for many generations, so that evolution can select the traits that are adaptive and eliminate those that are not. When the environment undergoes rapid change within the space of a generation or two, as it has been for the last couple of millennia, if not more, then evolution can’t happen because nature can’t determine which traits to select and which to eliminate. So they remain at a standstill. Our brain (and the rest of our body) are essentially frozen in time — stuck in the Stone Age.

One example of this is that when we watch a scary movie, we get scared, and when we watch porn we get turned on. We cry when someone dies in a movie. Our brain cannot tell the difference between what’s simulated and what’s real, because this distinction didn’t exist in the Stone Age.