PBS’s The Truth About Exercise


“The chair is a killer.”
– Michael Mosley, PBS, The Truth About Exercise

Attention all exercise geeks and anyone fond of learning about the ins and outs of regaining or maintaining your health: You must check out the new series from PBS called The Truth About Exercise with Michael Mosley.  (Actually, it seems that each episode has it’s own title “… with Michael Mosley.”)  I watched the first episode and it’s tremendously interesting.  The second episode is titled “Eat, Fast and Live Longer.”  I just started it.

(Thanks to my mom for telling me about this show.)

Mosley uses himself as an experimental subject as he delves into some of the following topics:

  • How to reduce your insulin response with 3 minutes of (very) intense exercise per week.
  • How and why exercise can help remove fat from the blood stream.
  • The very deadly perils of sitting too much.
  • Why some people are “non-responders” to some aspects of exercise (and why exercise is still healthy for “non-responders.)

I know very little about Mosley but that he seems to be a fairly common sort of guy who’s not in particularly good shape.  He has the questions about his health that many of us have.  He talks to various exercise physiologists, nutrition scientists and coaches as he searches for answers and examines several exercise myths.  I love it because much of what he discovers is informed by the latest science.  He’s not rehashing the “common knowledge” (which is commonly stale and fairly inaccurate.)  It’s a very entertaining show that moves quickly and isn’t overly science-y.  It has a pretty decent soundtrack as well.  I highly recommend it to anyone reading this right now.  Previews of each episode are below.  Go here to watch the full episodes.

Watch The Truth About Exercise with Michael Mosley – Promotion on PBS. See more from Michael Mosley.

Watch Guts with Michael Mosley – Preview on PBS. See more from Michael Mosley.

Kettlebell & Barbell Workout

My Current Workout Scheme

Out of necessity, I greatly reduced my strength training as I was preparing for the marathon. As the stress of running went up, the stress of lifting had to go down. It was a bit tough to give up the weights, but it had to be done. Now I’m back to lifting and I’m loving it. It’s definitely refreshing to let the pendulum swing from the endurance end of the spectrum back to the strength & power end.

I’m a big fan of both kettlebells and barbells. They’re quite different implements but both are very enjoyable to use. Used correctly, both tools can make you big, strong, and powerful. My current workout comes from RKC Mike Mahler and it’s called the Kettlebell and Barbell Solution for Size and Strength Part II. (Part I can be found here. I had to choose one. I picked Part II.) It’s a 4x/week workout with two days on/one day off/two days on/two days off. I like the workout 1) because I get to lift most days of the week and 2) because I get to use kettlebells and barbells in all workouts.

Each workout has one or two of the big lifts (squat, bench press, overhead press, deadlift) as the focus with other supplemental lifts included such as pull-ups, renegade rows, bent barbell rows, kettlebell swings and snatches, and core exercises such as the Turkish get-up, hanging leg raises, and windmills. I’ve modified the workout slightly to include barbell cleans, barbell presses, a one-arm dumbbell press, and pistol squats. Ballistic exercises like the kettlebell snatch and swings come at the front of the workout. The ballistic exercises help fire up the nervous system. The big-bang exercises come next, followed by pulling exercises, core exercises, and a finishing metabolic exercises that gets the heart rate up. I plan to cycle various exercises in and out over the course of several four-week blocks.

The scheme

The volume/intensity scheme is a version of Wendler’s 5-3-1 program. In essence, it looks like this: Each workout is centered around one core lift: squat, bench press, deadlift, and standing shoulder press. Each training cycle lasts four weeks, with these set-rep goals for each major lift:

Week 1: 3 x 5

Week 2: 3 x 3

Week 3: 3 x 5, 3, 1

Week 4: deloading

Then you start the next cycle, using heavier weights on the core lifts. Again, the Mahler program is a variation of this, and I’ve modified it further. Here’s my version:


Double kettlebell swing: 5×5

Barbell deadlift: 2×5, 3×3, 6×1

Barbell overhead press: 3×5, 3×3, 5-3-1

Kettlebell Renegade Row: 3×6+ I’ll add weight once I get 10 reps on each side

Kettlebell swings: 3×15, one- and/or two-arm swings. I’ve also used the rower.


One-arm kettlebell snatch: 2-3×5-10 each side

Barbell cleans: 3×3, 5×2, 6×1

Pull-ups: 3×5. I’ll add weight once I get eight reps on the final set. (I’m bad at pull-ups. The cost of being tall….)

Bench Press: as per the 5-3-1 program

Kettlebell windmill: 3×5

Kettlebell front squat: 3×8+ I’m keeping this somewhat light.

Kettlebell swings 3×15 or farmer’s walks.

Wednesday: Off


Double kettlebell snatch: 3-5×5

Barbell hang clean: 3×3, 5×2

Back squat: as per the 5-3-1 program

One-arm dumbbell press: as per the 5-3-1 program. I clean the dumbbell from the ground and then press all my reps.

Barbell bent-over row: as per the 5-3-1 program, except I don’t do a 1-rep max in the 3rd week.

Hanging leg raise: 3×5. Mahler’s workout calls for 3×10 but I’m not up to 10 reps yet.

One-arm kettlebell swings, rower or farmer’s walks


Double kettlebell swings: 5×5

Barbell cleans: lighter than Thursday

Barbell floor press: as per the 5-3-1 program

Weighted pull-ups: 3×3

Kettlebell Turkish get-up: 3×3. These are really tough at this point in the workout.

Pistol squats: 3×3, 2 or 1 depending how I’m feeling.

Kettlebell swings: I’m often smoked by this point so I may only do 1×10 or I may go as high as 3×15-20

Saturday/Sunday: Off


I’m on my third week of the program. I’ve made good progress. I think that since I was away from lifting for several weeks I have a lot of room to move forward. Plus, I’m eating more and I’ve recently started taking creatine which I haven’t used in a while. All of this should contribute to some decent increases in size and strength.


the Pencil Pushup


<object id=”scPlayer”  width=”720″ height=”540″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” data=”http://content.screencast.com/users/Z-Health/folders/Newsletter%20Videos/media/888c24ee-7256-4027-88f2-7193c9fc5ad8/mp4h264player.swf” > <param name=”movie” value=”http://content.screencast.com/users/Z-Health/folders/Newsletter%20Videos/media/888c24ee-7256-4027-88f2-7193c9fc5ad8/mp4h264player.swf” /> <param name=”quality” value=”high” /> <param name=”bgcolor” value=”#FFFFFF” /> <param name=”flashVars” value=”thumb=http://content.screencast.com/users/Z-Health/folders/Newsletter%20Videos/media/888c24ee-7256-4027-88f2-7193c9fc5ad8/FirstFrame.jpg&containerwidth=720&containerheight=540&content=http://content.screencast.com/users/Z-Health/folders/Newsletter%20Videos/media/888c24ee-7256-4027-88f2-7193c9fc5ad8/Ztv%20Vision%20Pencil%20Push-up.m4v&blurover=false” /> <param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /> <param name=”scale” value=”showall” /> <param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always” /> <param name=”base” value=”http://content.screencast.com/users/Z-Health/folders/Newsletter%20Videos/media/888c24ee-7256-4027-88f2-7193c9fc5ad8/” /> <iframe type=”text/html” frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”overflow:hidden;” src=”http://www.screencast.com/users/Z-Health/folders/Newsletter%20Videos/media/888c24ee-7256-4027-88f2-7193c9fc5ad8/embed” height=”540″ width=”720″ ></iframe> </object>

What is Z-Health?


The big question that I and just about every other Z-Health practitioner must answer is “What is Z-Health?”  It takes more than one or two sentences to explain this system that I’m involved with.  Key points that I mention in my explanation are:

  1. Z-Health is a performance system designed to take someone from an injured, painful, or inhibited state to the highest level of performance he or she wants to achieve.
  2. The nervous system is in charge.  Neither the muscles nor the bones nor the joints make decisions.  The nervous system decides whether or not you’re in pain.  The nervous system decides whether or not your muscles are tight.  Your nervous system dictates how fast, strong or agile you are.
  3. The aim of Z-Health is better movement.  Period.  If you want to lose weight, you need to move better so you can exercise vigorously.  Chronic pain is often a result of poor movement patterns.  The solution?  Move better.  If you’re an athlete and you want to perform better–then you need to move better.

Threat neuromatrix


But hold on.  How can something we eat contribute to something like Achilles tendon pain or plantar fasciitis? Well, pain does not always equal an injury.  It is an action signal though, to change something. Sure, if you sprain your ankle or receive a cut or puncture wound, then the pain is fairly indicative of the injury. The pain may cause you to hobble to help preserve the damaged ankle or to treat the wound you’ve received.

In the case of chronic pain however, the root of the problem is rarely the site of the pain. Pain in a particular region may be there for any number of widely varied reasons. Pain may be present as part of a movement problem, lack of sleep, job stress, or even poor eating habits–or often a combination of these types of stress. I’ll elaborate more in a moment.

Feeling pain is also a skill. It’s like learning to taste wine, hear and play music, or acquiring the visual senses of an artist. Our brain and nervous system become efficient and skilled at doing something if we do it enough.  The longer we feel pain in an area, the better we get at feeling pain there. So going forward, if the nervous system needs to get your attention, it will choose to create pain along a smooth, well-known, efficient pathway.

We often feel pain as part of something called the threat neuromatrix. Vital to this concept is understanding any type of perceived threat may generate pain. The brain can produce a pain signal in response to any stimulus or event that threatens our survival. Whether that event is emotional, physical, or even spiritual, if our brain perceives a threat to our survival there is a possibility that we will experience pain or a noxious event of some kind. How does this relate to gluten?

60% Off Dues at the Cherry Creek Athletic Club


The Cherry Creek Athletic Club (where I work) in Denver is offering big savings to members.  If you’re a Cherry Creek Athletic Club member you can save up to 60% off your dues if you refer a new member by the end of May.  Contact the membership office at 303.339.5467.  Or contact Jennifer Kueber at jkueber@cherrcreekclub.com.

I love working there.  It’s a first-class facility with all sorts of nice amenities.  Bring your friends.  Come check us out!


Zone-based training is a key component for competitive cyclists looking to perform better.  Determining the proper zones typically requires lab tests such as lactate threshold testing.  A graduate student at the University of New Hampshire has developed an inexpensive way of determining

“Power is a very unbiased way of measuring your exercise ability, compared to speed, heart rate, or perceived exertion,”