By TedX Talks on September 28, 2023

Why Weight Lifting is a Waste of Time | TEDx | Dr. John Jaquish

Why Weight Lifting is a Waste of Time | TEDx | Dr. John Jaquish

Full Transcript

I’m gonna start with a story.

About 15 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is when the bone starts to lose density. It becomes more porous and weaker and then can fracture much more easily. So higher fracture risk and a much greater mortality associated with it. So there is a greater chance of dying.

Typically, osteoporotic patients can share a similar mortality rate to breast cancer patients. So it’s very specific also to women’s health. More women are susceptible to this. It’s like three in five women versus one in five men have that weakened bone density as they get to the fifth decade of life.

So my mother was alerted to the fracture statistics which was very upsetting, but what was even more upsetting was some of the side effects of the medications. And so she explained all this to me and was very upset and I understood why. And my first thought was, it’s a mechanical problem.

Bone absorbs force, and that’s why it builds density. So, why do we have a chemical solution for a mechanical problem? There’s gotta be a mechanical solution. So I went and sort of looked all over the world to try and find a mechanical solution and what I realized was there wasn’t one. So I invented one.

A series of devices compressing human bone and triggering it to grow similar to what we do as children. So children run and jump and absorb high-impact forces. Those high-impact forces stimulate the bone to make their bones more powerful, so they’re fracture-resistant.

Now, as I developed these devices, when I say impact forces, I’m talking like five, six, seven times one’s body weight. So these are loading events that are far greater than you would ever see in a gym-type environment. Like, in fitness you might see 1.3 times body weight or 1.5 times body weight. You won’t see anything that’s two, three, four.

Even with elite athletes, you don’t see people go past fivefold their body weight. So, when the device was in its first sort of clinical trial in London, England, we had a whole research team and a bunch of physicians who worked at the hospital that suffered from low bone density, not yet osteoporosis.

What they had was called osteopenia which is like pre-osteoporosis. And they were excited about the device and they were excited about the future that it could bring to the world. So, they used it along with the test subjects. They weren’t test subjects, but they were using it in parallel as the study was being run.

And so they were seeing these high levels of force and they said to me, “How does this compare with fitness-type data?” And I said, “That’s a great question. Let me analyze that.” So I went to the NHANES database. It’s a database that’s maintained by the federal government, the United States Federal Government National Institutes of Health, and it’s probably one of the largest databases of its kind.

All types of different health and fitness metrics. And what I discovered, probably one of the more important discoveries that, at least in my experience, my lifetime, was just a moment of realization was that, imagine I’m using both hands but I still gotta hold the microphone. You’re seven times stronger here than you are here. That was incredibly profound because if you’re seven times stronger in one position versus the weaker position, where we start if we’re doing some sort of fitness-type activity, well, that means weightlifting is a waste of time. After all, a weight stays the same weight. No matter where you are in space, it’s the same.

We need something that changes. So, I also realized at that time, which is something that had bothered me, I was sort of a chubby guy back then and was frustrated about it and I kept trying to eat more. Some of the worst fitness advice you’ll ever receive is you’ve gotta eat big to get big. That’s wrong. You have to eat the right things.

But what just struck me, it was so apparent, and it had been for most of my life, is that everyone wants to exercise. Most people quit. Then, they’re usually blamed for being lazy, but they’re not. They quit because it doesn’t work. They quit because they might do a year at a fitness center and then look at themselves in the mirror and be like, “Well, I look the same.” So show of hands, who here knows a lot of people who talk about fitness, engage in fitness, and look the same all the time?

Okay, everyone. Everyone knows a lot of people like that, right? Because that’s sort of how it goes. And it always bothered me. I felt like I was wasting my time by working out but also I didn’t want to not work out because that would be even less healthy. So I just kind of kept grinding along, like, I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I know I gotta keep doing it.

So now I realized at this point that everyone’s workout sucks and doesn’t work, but now I know why. There was another piece of information that I realized when I was in high school that was equally as important as the observations made in the bone density research.

Now, I’m gonna ask a question about high school. Fortunately, we have some high school students here today. I want you to think, through your high school experience, was there one person, and depending on the size of your high school you might not have had that one, but try and think about one person who was so athletically developed so quickly.

For one year they were 15 and the next year they looked like they were 25. Show of hands, anybody?

Like, absolute super developer people. Usually, each high school has like one of those people where you look at them, they did all the same things you did in gym class, they went to the weight room just like you, they sort of became one of the X-men, and you’re the same.

I’m gonna tell you why and I’m gonna tell you how we can fix it. It’s one massive change to how we approach the human body. But once you understand it, you will never go back and you will never be out of shape if you follow what I’m talking about.

So, when we look at these genetically gifted people, they have something very specific. It’s not the amount of hormones they have ‘cause a lot of people say, “Well, that guy was probably just born with more testosterone.”

No, the number of males that have been kicked out of sports or disallowed from participating in professional sports because they had too high a level of testosterone is zero.

So that’s not a thing. They test for that. The difference is in where the tendons insert into the bone. Some people are very lucky in that they have a tremendous advantage.

So, if you look at my pectoral muscle right here, this is the origin. So, everybody’s pectoral starts on the sternum. Now, if I stick my arm out here, right here is where the tendon inserts. Right underneath the bicep. However, these genetically gifted people, it inserted somewhere else. It’s over here, at the other end of the bone. That gives them a lever inside their body that is made out of the most elastic material in the world: tendon. Tendons are incredibly elastic and in effect, they’re using what’s called in medical research and sort of physiology research as recycled energy.

So when they come down in a bench press or pushup type motion, they’re almost spring-loaded to come back up. Now, recycled energy, everyone here has experienced it to a small degree.

When you sprint and step on the ground with flexion of your foot, so the top of your foot is coming close to your shin, 17% on average of the energy that propels you forward is recycled energy.

Now, these genetic outliers, have a much higher percentage and they have it all over their body, but that’s what recycled energy is. So in essence, they are training with, like, rubber bands inside their body. So how do we get to perform like them? How do we get to look like them? It’s by doing the same thing external to the body as opposed to internally.

So what I’m talking about is variable resistance. So, that’s the term you would look up if you were to look at the research on this. And there are incredibly positive studies. All of them are coming to the same conclusion. Variable resistance is much more powerful than standard weight training. And the reason is that, and this is the definition of variable resistance, the force that is placed upon the body is in accommodation to the power capability in that general position.

So for example, if I’m doing a chest press, I hold 550 pounds here, but only 300 here and 170 here. So it changes as I move to be accommodating to what my capability is in that given position. Now there are different examples of variable resistance. If anyone has ever seen a video from a powerlifting gym, you’ll see piles of chains all over the place. And so when somebody puts the chains around a bar, on the end of a bar, it’s so as they come up, they’re picking up more weight, and then as they come down, it’s less weight. So that is one approach.

Now the ratios are not optimized or anything like that, but they’ll get better results doing that than they will just picking up a static weight. Now, a lot of gyms won’t allow for this because piles of chains on the floor are often a tripping hazard and so that’s a liability thing. So you’ll have to go to like a powerlifting gym for that, and those are not unintimidating places, so you know, keep that in mind.

Now, another way is by taking bars in a gym and putting bands around them, and then hooking the bands to different fixtures on the floor, different racks. I have a caution for everyone. You want to make sure that the racks are bolted to the ground because remember, you’re seven times stronger in the extended position, therefore, you’re gonna be using a lot more weight. You could tip a rack over. It could hurt you or someone else.

Now, gyms are supposed to bolt their equipment to the floor but that doesn’t mean they always do it. The third category is the at-home product. Now, there’s a wide variety of at-home variable resistance products. You have to keep in mind, again, seven times the kind of weight you’re normally dealing with, so you want to pick a product that has many hundreds of pounds of capability.

Even a deconditioned elderly person might deal with four or 500 pounds in a deadlift-type movement, which is for the back, training the back, and the neck. If it says it’s got like a 50-pound capacity, that’s not even good for like rehab. It doesn’t do anything. It just sort of looks like exercise, so just be aware of that. And then the fourth category is one I never want you to attempt, which is just using banding by itself.

The problem is if I throw a band, a loop band around my back and I go to press, my hand twists because the band doesn’t have anything hard to conform to. The human wrist is not something that will stay in place if it has uneven force on one side of the hand versus the other, so the wrist twists. If you stand on a band to try and do sort of a back exercise, your ankles can twist inward. It only takes seven pounds of lateral force to break an ankle. Pretty much that’s like the one physical medicine statistic that every NFL player knows so well. So you gotta keep that in mind.

You need to protect the joints, so bands by themselves, are worthless. I know I’m seeing a lot of controversial stuff. Some of the stuff you may have heard, but chances are variable resistance even in research, is a pretty new category. I think the first really good study was in 1996. So from a medical research standpoint, that’s pretty new.

I mean, as long as you’re not talking about like cancer research, that’s new ‘cause it’s just relative to how much research is done in a given field. Think about all this, and I want to emphasize the fact that this is such a powerful intervention. A lot of things come and go.

You’ve been told about a lot of fads. A couple of years ago it was like everybody needs to train with kettlebells. And it was sort of like, you look at it and you’re like, “How is that not just a dumbbell?” It is so, you know, and also nobody cares and you can’t even really find kettlebells around anymore. It was just a fad and it didn’t give anybody any better results.

This is the kind of thing, and I’ll use an example, I was asked in an interview, about six months ago, when I was on a news show somebody said to me, “What are your goals for fitness?” It was a weird question nobody had ever asked me before. So I said, “Well, I plan on having a kid at some point and I’d like my kid to look at me like I’m a superhero.” And I guess it was a good answer because everybody seemed to love it.

So, I think that’s the sort of effect that I wanna leave you with an impression, like, you can change your physiology by applying this. If you apply it to the highest degree, you will be blown away by the kind of results you’ll get. Now, consider the fitness industry.

As I mentioned earlier, most people engage in fitness year after year, they see no results. Why would you trust an industry, I’m saying things that are very much against the industry, but why would you trust an industry that has a more or less 0% success rate? Would you invest with a company, an investment company that lost all of its customers’ money? Probably not. Would you trust an ambulance company that crashed every ambulance and never delivered the people to the hospital? No, you would not want that ambulance company coming to pick you up when you need them.

So you gotta realize that what you’ve been told, the majority of it is wrong or sort of a distortion of research to make it simple. An expression I use frequently is oversimplification is another word for wrong. So look into variable resistance. If you want to have that kind of success, really check it out.

As I see it, and as I have seen the users of variable resistance grow to hundreds of thousands of people, I’m connected with a million of them on social media, you have to consider that in the future, we have the opportunity where everyone who engages can be strong. Everyone who engages can be lean. Now, those two things right there are the greatest drivers seen in clinical literature, the greatest drivers of a long life.

And also coincidentally, those two things have a massive positive effect on metabolic health and immune system health, which means we’re all gonna live longer, we’re all gonna live better and live happier lives. Thank you so much for coming today.

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