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Weight Lifting Is a Waste of Time: Dr. John Jaquish and Henry Alkire
One of the most common reasons why people stop going to the gym and lifting weights or getting up and running every morning is that they don’t get the results they think they should have. Now, many fitness experts defend lifting weights and cardio as though they’re infallible, but where are the results? Why don’t people get the results they expect, even when they put in the time?
The truth is, the fitness industry has actually failed in many ways and you are about to see how exercise science has missed some obvious principles. In the new book, Weightlifting is a Waste of Time , Dr. John Jaquish and Henry Alkire explore the science that supports this argument–and layout a superior strength training approach that has seen remarkable results. Today, I spoke with Dr. John Jaquish who has been called the Tony Stark of the fitness industry, about why Weight Lifting is a Waste of Time . But that’s not the only surprise here.
He also explains how cardio can actually increase fat, not help you lose it. Dr. Jaquish is the inventor of the world’s most effective bone-density building medical device, as well as his new invention, which is the world’s most powerful muscle-building device. He is partnered with people like Tony Robbins and today, he shares with us a better way to train your body. Enjoy.
Miles Rote: Hey everyone, my name is Miles Rote and I’m excited to be here today with Dr. John Jaquish, author of Weight Lifting Is a Waste of Time: So Is Cardio and There’s a Better Way to Have the Body You Want. Dr. Jaquish, I’m excited you’re here. Welcome to the Author Hour podcast.
Dr. John Jaquish: Hey Miles, thanks for having me.
Miles Rote: Let’s begin by talking about what inspired you to get into all of this in the first place. It’s such an interesting title and I know a lot of people are on their edge of the seat to learn more about it.
Dr. John Jaquish: My adventure in the life sciences really started with my mother. She was diagnosed with osteoporosis when I was doing my master’s degree and I told her I would look into it. She didn’t want to take the medications because she read about side-effects. As I started looking into it, I realized that it’s really a dysfunction of disuse. A lot of what are called ‘diseases of aging’ are really just diseases of not doing what you need to be doing to stay alive.
Like exercise, moving around, keeping a decent heart rate, good blood flow, good airflow. You know, when somebody starts to hunch forward, they’re kind of collapsing their chest into their lungs, and they lose lung capacity. All these diseases of aging really don’t have much to do with aging. It just has to do with disuse. I said to my mother, “Okay, what if I found a group of people who are outliers, who were able to build bone density, higher than anyone else? Super-human bone. And I’m going to find them and I’m going to see how they did it and then maybe I can apply that to you.” Of course, she didn’t really have anything to do in this part of it. So she said, “Go ahead!”
I went and identified this audience immediately. It was gymnasts. It’s because of the rate at which they hit the ground–they hit the ground at incredible velocity. Sometimes they get 10 times their body weight loaded through their hip joints, loaded to their lower extremities. I thought, okay, what we need is an impact-type force to make this work.
What I told her was I’m going to build a device that emulates high impact and in that emulation of high impact, it’s going to induce a change in bone density. Your bone density is going to go up and it’s going to be with a very low risk of injury. I created a set of medical devices that compressed bone and now there are 130 clinics around the world that are just for this. It’s called OsteoStrong and we’re in eight different countries.
It was very successful and really does a great thing for people with low bone density. I will say, it’s not for everyone, you have to be able to apply these forces voluntarily, so the machine doesn’t rearrange your bone tissue, it’s like physical therapy, you gotta put some work into it.
But, when you do, bone density goes up faster than anything that’s ever been trialed. In the process of designing these machines, and testing these machines– most specifically, doing a trial at a London hospital–I was looking at the loading that we had elderly deconditioned people putting on their hip joint, most specifically. Because that’s the most important one when it comes to the deconditioned population, you don’t want a hip fracture. Those are associated with death.
A lot of other bones you can break, you break the clavicle, and it might be very painful, you might lose some mobility, but it’s not associated with an earlier death. The hip joint is. When I looked at hip loading and then I compared that to what is in the NA’s database–that is the biggest database of health and exercise information in the world–I realized that people are seven times stronger in the impact ready range of motion than they are in the weaker range of motion.
You are Stronger Than You Think #
When I looked at these two different data sets, I said, Weight Lifting is a Waste of Time . That’s the name of the book. Because I understood that we have so much more capacity that we do not use with weights. I said to somebody who is skeptical, “Well, I bench and usually they’re just sort of beating their chest and acting like they’re tough. Usually, they’re obese guys.” They think they’re made of muscle but they’re not.
They’re talking about what they bench and how it defines them as human beings and I’ll say, “What if I convinced you you’re actually seven times stronger than you think you are?” And they say, “What do you mean?” I explain to them, “You’ve done a pushup, right? Or you get the same feeling in a bench press, you know when your arms are almost at full extension. Even a heavy weight seems easy, but when you lower that bar down towards your chest, it becomes incredibly difficult. It’s because you have a massive difference in your output capacity, which means you need a weight that changes. And not just a little bit, not just throwing tiny bands at the end of your regular barbell movement, you need a massive change from weak to the strong range. That way, you’re fatiguing the muscle to a more complete degree and inducing more growth.”
Miles Rote: Just for context, I’m imagining a bench press right now and I’m pushing the bar off of my chest and initially, it’s very hard. And then I get to the mid-way and it’s still kind of hard but I have, I feel like more muscle that I’m able to use, and then I’m three-quarters and it’s the easiest. You’re saying the best weight training, the way that we’ve traditionally used it is focusing not on the areas that we should focus on, but it’s just focused on the whole thing as opposed to focusing on just the area where we’re going to get the most growth?
Dr. John Jaquish: We’re getting more force through all ranges of motion, but what actually matters the most is the strongest range of motion because that’s where we can create the greatest amount of force by definition. That’s where we would also naturally absorb impact. But these loads are far higher. For example, when I do a chest press, it’s 540 pounds at the top, 300 pounds in the middle, and about a hundred pounds at the bottom.
I hit that 540 pounds, maybe 25 repetitions, and then I can’t get there anymore, so then I start doing 300-pound repetitions that are only half reps. Then I can’t get there anymore either, so then my last few repetitions might only be a few centimeters with a hundred pounds, but now I’ve completely fatigued the muscle. More profoundly than you know, a whole bunch of sets with regular weights. As described in the book, you only need one set.
Which, by the way, is true of all adaptive responses. Somebody with a good tan, you don’t say, how many sets did you do to get that tan? That sounds crazy. Yet, why do we do multiple sets with weights, that is crazy as well?
Miles Rote: Why do we? How did weight lifting get all of this so wrong?
Dr. John Jaquish: It’s a very poor stimulus. People end up trying to see what grows the best as they’re doing it. They noticed that if you did more than one set, you got more results. That’s because all of the sets are lousy. It would be better to have just a better set where we ended up and worked very well.
Miles Rote: So, what’s the antidote, then, to weight lifting? I know in your book, you talk a lot about variable resistance, what is that exactly and why is it better?
Dr. John Jaquish: That resistance changes as you move. Like how I’m describing when I do a chest-press with the X-3 bar product. It’s a hundred pounds to the bottom, 300 pounds to the middle of the repetition, and then 540 pounds in the stronger range. This is all in one rep. It’s changing while you’re doing these repetitions.
That’s the way I’m always going to train. It’s a really inexpensive solution, my entire setup is like $650. I gained 60 pounds of muscle with a $600 product.
Miles Rote: You mentioned the X3 Bar , what is it exactly and what does it do?
Dr. John Jaquish: There’s banding that is so strong that if you try to use it by itself, you’d probably break your wrist or your ankle, so it’s really powerful banding. The bands by themselves are completely worthless. There is also an Olympic bar. The entire book is really designed to document the ‘why’. Why am I never going to lift weights again? Why did I put on 60 pounds of muscle when I stopped lifting weights?
It’s the journey in determining what really is best for developing a high-level of musculature and a low-level of body fat. Everything we looked at made weight lifting look awful in favor of the newer approach. Also, the newer approach, coincidentally, works very well in a time of coronavirus–you don’t need a gym. It fits in a backpack or in a drawer. You can do it at your office, you can do it in your backyard.
When the product first came out and I was talking about the science of it online, I dropped one or two studies that were more specific to what the person was asking. The problem is somebody sees an academic reference and they know reading academic research is hard, so they don’t like it.
They’re not interested in reading that. But when I can show them 250 different references, which are what’s in this book, that’s a different story. Here are the references, and here’s what it means.
Falsehoods in Fitness #
Miles Rote: Right. You’ve basically distilled the information for them. That’s great. I listed some of the things you talk about in your book and I’ve seen you talk online are some falsehoods around fitness. What do those look like?
Dr. John Jaquish: That’s big with me. Falsehood. I’m going to launch a podcast pretty soon–I’ve already recorded quite a few episodes. I have a couple of other videos that were just test marketed. Do people really want to know what they’re doing wrong? Yeah, they actually do, and I can get through so many things that people do every day.
Cardio is good for weight loss? No, it’s not. When you do, say, cardio for more than 20 minutes, you’re really maximizing the amount of circulating cortisol and you’re suppressing growth hormones. Cortisol does two things. It protects your body fat as in, it keeps you fatter longer, and uses muscle-mass to drive metabolism–break down the muscle. You’re losing muscle and making sure that you’re going to keep your body fat longer. Exactly the opposite of what people think they’re doing.
You walk in any gym, we can walk in any gym that is open today. Let’s say Texas. You go to Texas and you walk into a gym, people are on the treadmills and you ask them about their fitness goals and they will all say fat loss. When I started putting that online in a three-sentence explanation, I got a lot of followers from that. It was more about, “There’s no way this guy is right, I’m going to follow him until I’m satisfied that he’s wrong.” I think that’s how people think. I think they go for that first.
Yeah, there is an element of that. There are a lot more hucksters and clowns out there. I’m just going to give you an example. Ketogenic nutrition has incredibly high efficacy, you don’t have to have a special blood type or special DNA. There are all kinds of research that says, “Well it may work for somebody, and may not work for somebody else. Everybody’s different.” Yeah, that’s total BS, that’s just an excuse somebody wants us to make because they want to keep eating pizza and call it healthier because, “Keto doesn’t work for me.”
There are a lot of distractions in that conversation, mostly by people who sell ketogenic products. The idea that you can eat as much fat as you want is criminal. People are buying these keto bars that have a ton of butter in them and all kinds of other really fatty ingredients and they’re like, “Well, it doesn’t have much sugar in. It only has one gram of sugar. I can eat as many of these as I want,” no. That’s not true.
Just today, a user group for the company’s products, Jaquish Medical, was buying medical products and somebody said, “I don’t do well on a high-fat diet.” Okay, number one, you’re not different than anyone else, so just stop telling yourself that lie. Number two is that ketogenic nutrition is not a high-fat diet. In fact, the way I eat, I eat one meal every 48 hours. I’m in the ketogenic state, no matter what I ate for my last meal, within 20 hours of my last meal. You actually need nothing to get into a ketogenic state.
Actually, you need no carbohydrates. You could eat all protein and some fats. People feel comfortable on different levels, the fats are really overblown in their recommendation because people like selling products that have a lot of fat in them. They’re totally a distraction. I may do two-thirds protein and one-third fat is my ratio because I’ll eat like fillets or sirloins or something like that, that’s it. That’s my nutrition.
Miles Rote: Yeah, what does your protocol look like? What does your exercise routine and your just nutrition look like day-to-day?
Dr. John Jaquish: The workout is about 10 minutes a day.
Miles Rote: This is using the X3 Bar ?
Dr. John Jaquish: Correct. There’s a number of principles I need to apply like constant tension, so I get a hypoxic effect and there’s a lot of details about why we do what we do. I tell people, “I encourage you to understand why we do what we do, because you might edit something, maybe even by accident, and because you don’t understand why the principles are what they are, and you could really be limiting your results.” I encourage everybody to read the book and understand why we do diminish range, why don’t we just do another set.
I tell them there’s no such thing as a ‘super-set’. There is nothing super about a superset. I have to write that down, it’s quite nice. It is doing two different sets of two different exercises with no rest in between. That second set is just garbage and because you knew subconsciously that you were going to do a second set after you finished your first one, the first set is garbage too because you can go to complete exhaustion because subconsciously you knew.
Miles Rote: That is funny. So, you are saying you still only do 10 minutes a day on the X3 Bar . You have to do it in a particular way but that workout itself is only about 10 minutes?
Dr. John Jaquish: You can’t really make it longer. There are only four sets to do per workout. They’re devastating. You will be out of breath like you’ve never experienced. I am just starting to get some cardiac data back too, which is pretty exciting. Because now we are seeing adaptations in the heart with people like chronic heart failure like their hearts are getting so strong. The high-intensity interval experience is where we see the greatest adaptations in skeletal muscle. The same is true with cardiac muscle. We put a lot of strain on the cardiac muscle and it grows a lot stronger.
Miles Rote: So, if people were to read the book, would they be walking away from the book knowing what they should do and what it can look like and how to do these exercises?
Dr. John Jaquish: Yeah, the people who read this book are going to have all the information they need to massively change their physique. I really want people to read the book first before you even jump into the product because there are so many things about what we’re doing. You are going to read and go, “Oh my god, I had no idea.” You know what I told you about cardio and how it up-regulates cortisol, it keeps you fatter and sacrifices muscle, it is basically a recipe to be skinny fat.
That research has been published for 40 years. The problem is that the people in the fitness industry don’t know how to read the research. Oh here is something that is really funny I put this in the book, if you ask a group of personal trainers, “Have you guys read any of the publications of the American College of Sports Medicine?” They look around the room and have never heard of it.
Miles Rote: What?
Dr. John Jaquish: Right, they have never heard of it and this is their career, they’re trainers. I am not talking about, guys who got hired last week and they’re getting their certification next week. On the other side, the American College of Sports Medicine have been banging their head against the wall trying to get people to read their data, and they have even come up with another journal that is supposed to be sort of halfway in between more palatable language, less talk about statistics, and really simplified methods sections so the regular person can read research every day and they can understand, which I kind of have a problem with because I’d rather that people just learn more.
Miles Rote: Right, yeah they’re desperate. They’re like, “No one is listening. We have to try something else.”
Dr. John Jaquish: I think it’s funny because I look at my own adventure and the transformation I’ve gone through. I weighed 140 pounds in college and now I am 240 pounds and my fraternity brothers look at me and they’re like, “What the hell happened?” They don’t even believe it’s me, and I think the reason I have an advantage over so many people is the information in that book. Because I have it all, it’s all in my head.
Thinking about this like, “I want to go through a transformation just like Dr. Jaquish did. I want to live that lifestyle where when I am walking down the street in a t-shirt people are wondering if I am an NFL player.” I get that all the time. They ask me for my autograph and I ask, “Who do you think I am?” and they say, “I’m not sure, but I think you’re in the NFL.” I say, “No, I am a scientist.” They don’t believe that, of course.
It is a very funny experience but then their next statement is, I don’t want to read all of that science stuff. If you can give me all the information I need in a paragraph. Then I say, “Wait a minute, you don’t have the time to read a book about your planned massive life-changing experience? That’s the dedication you have?” I tell people to read the book just to convince themselves this is what they really want to do.
Because you are not going to put in the time and read the book, you probably also are not going to quit on potato chips and ice cream and twinkies and cookies and, “Oh well, it’s the fourth of July, so obviously I have to drink 24 beers.” When I come across somebody that says, “Well, there is no way I can give up my pizza,” I just walk away. I say, all right. We don’t need to talk about anything, not exercise, nothing. Okay, you’re not going to get what you want.
Taking Action #
Miles Rote: Right, even when we can simplify it and make it easy and put all of the information there if you are still not able to go and pick up the book and read it and take action then really nothing is going to change.
Dr. John Jaquish: I did a little bit of conversation about mindset. I didn’t want to make the book about mindset and a victory-based mindset, but there is a lot of headwork you need to do to be successful in strength and in the end your physique in general and being leaner. There are a lot of decisions you have to make and really committing.
You know if somebody says, “I’m going to read the book,” or I have given a couple of other advance copies to some people, they text me the next day and they say, “I stayed up all night reading the book and I have five questions,” and I could tell they’ve read the book. I know this person is going to either–depending on what their goals are–it was a male, so either the guy will look like an underwear model in six months, or he is going to look like a strength competitor, depending on how you style your nutrition. You could be a leaner, strong-looking guy, or the giant guy.
Mindset has so much to do with it. I think the book is going to help so many people because up to this point, I’ve just been talking on videos, on Facebook and YouTube. No one is going to sit there for a 10-hour lecture but they’ll read a book.
Miles Rote: Especially a book that defies things that they think they already know and understand. That’s what this book really did for me, it caught me on my heels and I thought, “Wait a minute I have been an athlete my whole life and doing things a certain way my whole life.” It helps with the mindset because a lot of people have tried things for a while and not seen success, whether that is running or going to the gym to lift three or four times a week.
Because they tried and it didn’t work, they say, “Screw this, it is not worth it to me.” So even understanding that things aren’t as they seem can help people get into the mindset of actually doing something.
Dr. John Jaquish: Well, you mentioned something very interesting and I am constantly in arguments with people who defend the way it’s always been done. I say there is actually data in the book that looks at how lean people are, how strong people are compared to the average individual. There are a couple of different comparisons that I do, and I do this for a reason because it is really less than 1% of the population–I am talking about males here. There is data for females also, but, man, males are more interested in strength, so I focused on that. The leanest pop percentile, 1% of the male population, and keep in mind 23% of males are doing strength training, most of them are doing it in their home but the leanest 1% is 10.9% body fat, basically 11% body fat.
That’s really not that impressive and that’s the top 1%. So why defend an industry that has a 1% success rate if you even want to call that success because replenished body fat is great because it considers muscularity? The more muscular you become the lower your body fat goes because you have more bodyweight that’s muscle. So, when I look at that, why is anyone interested in what’s always happened in the fitness industry? Because it’s probably the most failed industry that humanity pays any attention to.
It’s a complete disaster. Maybe the people who don’t care about working out, they’re just watching everybody go to the gym and looking the same year after year after year. And saying, “Yeah, I am going to spend two hours a day to not change, great.” Like, “I’ll be the smarter one with my bag of potato chips,” or, “I’ll be the smarter one and not eat a bag of potato chips, but I don’t see anybody changing.”
There are so many reasons for that. You only have to get two things right, assuming you don’t have a big dysfunction or something like that. But you have to get your protein right. Protein is a building block. I don’t care what vegans have to say, it is not true.
Protein, and it has to be a useful protein. So as in not vegetable protein. There is a study that shows that the quality and usability of vegetable protein–we don’t have the intestines to extract most of that protein because it is fibrous. There is a reason that gorillas have a gigantic gut, they all look pregnant and the reason is that they have far more surface area in their intestines to extract nutrients from the plants they’re eating. Also, they eat all day long, literally.
When you look at the protein that you take in when you start to take that seriously and then you look at variable resistance, and you start doing that, it becomes having that champion looking physique, having incredible strength, and having very low body fat becomes a lot less complicated. I won’t say it’s easy, it is still exercise. You still have to put in your maximum effort, but it is a maximum effort with a very low risk of injury.
I also find that as I was running the experiments, people aren’t actually afraid of hard work. They are afraid of committing a lot of time to that hard work. So, when we realize they really don’t have to commit a whole lot of time, they just have to go to complete fatigue for about 10 minutes. Yeah, all right, none of that sounds so bad. Then they just need to get their nutrition right, and that requires some sacrifice and usually, they start out and they just ignore the nutrition part.
By eating the garbage that they eat, they don’t have enough room in their intestines for the proper amount of protein. When I eat a meal every 48 hours it is three pounds of meat, which to a lot of people sounds gross but it’s not. It’s glorious. It feels incredible. Then you’re going to actually see after training and then eating a meal like that you can see differences in your physique.
Miles Rote: I think you hit it on the head, people are willing to do the work if they know that they are going to get out what they are putting in.
I feel like fitness is one of those things like you said that there is a lot of BS out there. So, people are very hesitant about what to commit to but when you are able to get the mindset right and knowing that you can get results faster, it is a lot easier for people to sign on. Let’s say someone does pick up your book and read it, which I definitely recommend, it did a lot for me, what are one or two things that you would like them to take away?
Dr. John Jaquish: They really need to spend some time reading a lot about variable resistance. There’s no going back after you understand it. There are 16 different studies in there that make weight lifting without variable resistance look very inadequate. Then on top of that, a couple of studies show the greater the level of variants, the greater, the more accelerated the results. That is exactly what I did, and I went for the absolute strongest possible level of variants.
I went to experts and built banding and as I said, you have to stretch it without it hooked to the bar and you can injure yourself. That is how powerful that banding is, which is why you need the bar and why you need the second ground to stand on it. Otherwise, you could really twist an ankle. But once you get those things right, it’s game time. You are growing. So that’s really important, understanding the fasting, and the animal protein-heavy nutrition.
Understanding that you need one gram per pound of bodyweight of high-quality protein per day. That is staggering to people because once they realize how much protein they need, they also realize, “Wow, there’s really no room in my body to eat anything else,” right? Because you weren’t meant to.
Miles Rote: Yeah it makes it easier.
Dr. John Jaquish: Right, the stuff that we eat is especially marketed that has high margins is not food. I am not saying you deny yourself forever. But you need to know yourself a bit because there is nothing about pizza that is good for you, nothing. So, you have to look at it and say, “Okay that is not food,” that might be entertainment, but it is not food. Once you get your nutrition in, once you get that amount of protein in your body, you don’t want anything else. You say, “Oh, I am so satisfied.” That’s it.
I’d say the two nutritional principles, the time-restricted eating, the protein recommendations, and understanding variable resistance. I think it is so life-changing because how many books on fitness have we seen? I could call out a few of them but I don’t want to pick on any. I am friends with some of these guys, where they say ‘the scientific approach to fitness’ and you open it up and there is zero science.
This guy who lifts weights did this and this other bodybuilder did this. Where is the hypothesis that was tested? There is nothing. It’s just chronicling of some shot in the dark that somebody took. And someone else copied it and then someone else copied it and then there’s this guy who looks good in the pictures, who also copied it and it sounds nice. It’s nonsense.
Miles Rote: Your book definitely takes a different approach and doesn’t repeat a lot of things that I have ever read before. There are footnotes and there are citations all throughout the book where you are documenting studies. You really back this thing up and being a doctor and scientist yourself, it really makes all the difference when it comes to topics like this.
Dr. John Jaquish: Thanks.
Miles Rote: Dr. Jaquish, this has been such a pleasure and I am so excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called, Weight Lifting is a Waste of Time, So is Cardio and There’s a Better Way to Have the Body You Want. You can find it on Amazon. So besides checking out the book, where can people find you?
Dr. John Jaquish: On Instagram, it’s Dr. Jaquish and I am just putting up a website right now, doctorj.com.