Body By Science, Does It Give Results?

Hi there,


I fully trust Dave with all his advice since everything worked for me so far. Therefore, I will start Body by Science since I am simply not willing to commit so much time to training and I want to sleep as little as possible while looking good at performing at a good level. I still wonder the following though:


If Body by Science works so well, why are there literally 0 guys on youtube who post a good transformation video? There is not a single place where I did find how people look (while being natural) who follow this training for a long time. I only found 1 guy who showed his excel spreadsheet which was impressive, but that's it. 



Also I searched some on the Bulletproof forum and some people saying it is nice, but I heard nobody about clear results they got. I would like to hear/see some more concrete results also for motivation purposes.


Anyone? Or a way to find this?




  • DManDMan Master of Arts ✭✭✭

    i loved it

    May you be well, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be loved.

    How much to eat:
    advanced | How to train: bulletproof training | HRV: HRV FOR TRAINING HRV BASICS What Affects HRV | Brain  & Memory dual n back training advanced training



  • minimum effective dose = minimum effective result

    This. If you want greater athletic performance, you're going to have to sacrifice time/effort efficiency, which is what Body by Science is all about. Ask every Olympic athlete how many hours a week they train.

  • drumminangoleirodrumminangoleiro ✭✭✭
    edited June 2016

    i did it for like a year and a half or so. i will say the book was interesting and helped convince me that some weight training is worth exploring. i think the name is a little silly though because it seems like most of the science shows that more volume means more results, and higher bar speeds are usually more favorable. the idea that if you hit that magic failure button your body will just be building itself up for the next 7 days doesn't seem to be very accurate. just because one part of a movement results in failure doesn't mean you fatigued all of the muscles involved in that movement or the rest of your body for that matter.  there were times where it did seem like i was progressing a little bit but not very much. 15 minutes once a week gives you very little data to tell what's going on really. that one little snapshot on one particular day is supposed to indicate your peak progress? it just doesn't make any sense. the idea of getting away with that little amount of training time and getting a bunch of awesome results sounds great, but i think i only got the little that i did out of it because i was new to lifting. after that i switched to stronglifts 5x5 and i feel like i've been getting more out of that. 

  • WalterWalter ✭✭✭

    i loved it


    Did you noticeably build muscle with it? 

  • RekaReka ✭✭✭

    If you were completely inactive you will get results initially because it's significantly more than doing nothing. It all depends on your goals and starting point. However, nobody will get transformed to an excellent shape by doing this. It's a way to maintain muscles with minimal investment.

    It doesn't get easier... It's you who gets better.


    Is your social worker in that horse?


    Success has a price, not a secret.

  • Did you noticeably build muscle with it? 

    Thanks Walter, this is the question I have myself.


    My starting point is that I did train in the past, nutrition etc on point. Last year doing nothing, pretty skinny fat, just want to look fit. Bodyfat around 17-19% I would guess, 12% would be nice with some muscle development. Don't want anything crazy since I want to be very productive with my work.

  • DManDMan Master of Arts ✭✭✭

    Did you noticeably build muscle with it? 




    I believe it is because I rested enough and did not do a lot of activities like drummin does. After a while I even took longer breaks and alternated with with different movements each week which worked even better (as described in the book) and I do not thing it does bring only minimum results. I think minimum effective dose does not necessarily mean minimum results. like drummin I changed the routine because sitting the other 6 days in front of the pc still doesn't do good for my back...

    May you be well, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be loved.

    How much to eat:
    advanced | How to train: bulletproof training | HRV: HRV FOR TRAINING HRV BASICS What Affects HRV | Brain  & Memory dual n back training advanced training



  • Okay, I'm a workout noob, so take all of this with a grain of salt.  If you want to know how to train, talk to Jason Miller (that's who I talk to), but I have tried Body by Science and I would like to offer my perspective.


    When I go back and read Body by Science, it becomes clear that the book was not written for me.  I think that the target demographic is age 65+ (most of his clients cited in the book fall under this category).  When you get past a certain age within your genetic set-point, it becomes harder to recover from your workout (diet and sleep also play a huge role), so the reduction of volume is needed.  Here are the other problems that I see with the workout regardless of your age:


    1) The time under load philosophy is wrong.  McGuff takes the "your muscles do not count reps" approach and encourages his clients to lift slowly.  Instead of counting the reps, you lift for 60-90 seconds at the intensity that should cause failure.  What's the goal?  Are we trying to improve speed, strength, hypertrophy, nervous system response, VoC?  How will this technique improve any of these?  The workout is intentionally low volume, so you can rule out the last three.  It is slow, so you can rule out speed.  Strength is about neural motor recruitment.  You can program a training routine to use extremely high intensity to achieve this, but only for so long.  Eventually, you have to work on the other areas to get a return.  Which takes me to my next point:


    2) There is no peroidization at all.  This is my biggest gripe with most "cookie cutter" training programs.  A beginner will be able to train all areas of fitness simultaneously, but after you hit your genetic set-point, you will have to concentrate.  You can do this in multiple ways, like have a speed day, have a volume day, have a strength day, etc., or you can work on speed for a month, then VoC, etc.  With any training plan, you are going to stall, and Body by Science does not accommodate for this by changing the routine.


    3) There is no progression sequence.  How much weight should you lift this week?  How about next week?  What happens if you miss your set?  None of these are logically addressed.  "Lift as heavy as you can" is fun to write, but you need goals.  You also need a strategy if you hit your goal sooner that you thought, or not soon enough.


    4) Body by Science emphasis is on safety over anything else.  McGuff's philosophy is that if you are hurt, you can't train and then you make limited gains.  If you look at the statistics, weightlifting is one of the safest sports around.  You are not running around twisting your ankle, there is no contact with other weightlifters (hopefully), and there are no surprises - the weight goes down, then back up (or up then down when pulling).  Proper form is the solution to injury prevention, not volume reduction.  Volume is needed to create peroidization in your training, you simply cannot ignore it.


    5) Workout frequency should be equal to recovery time.  If you don't recover fast enough for your next workout, you are over training.  If you are waiting too long in between workouts, you will not only progress more slowly, but you can create a period of regression.  A beginner should not consider a Body by Science approach to frequency, because their rate of adaptation is the highest it will ever be.  For the first month, a beginner will simply be learning the motor patterns.  If you only lift four times per month at three reps per exercise, how much practice are you getting in?  That's only twelve reps per month!  Even if you are doing 5x3x1 (which is one of the lowest volume, highest intensity programs out there), you are doing way more than that - and that workout is for intermediate lifters!


    6) The training complexity is too low.  Again, safety is prioritized over complexity, and machines are encouraged to prevent injury.  Injury potential is already low for resistance training, and proper form will lower it even more.


    Ultimately, we are looking at the potential to reach your desired outcome.  I am all for the 80:20 principal, and I use it myself in my programming.  When I go to the gym, I am not looking to break any records (except my own).  I am not "trying out for the team."  I am just looking to function like an adult make should be able to function.  To apply the 80:20 principal, you have to calculate the whole pie.  What would 0:100 look like?  It would look like how professional athletes train.  With Body by Science are you really doing 20% of that?  Not even close!  Are you getting an 80% return (meaning that you can function at 80% of a professional athlete)?  That's what you have to evaluate.  If you are not into 80:20, you still have to ask yourself what you want to achieve, and what you need to do to get there.  For me, Body by Science isn't it.  If you are 65+ and have five years or more of weight training experience, maybe it is.

  • yeah now that you mention it, it does seem like the majority of proponents of BBS are older, or at least very sedentary. i've been following some science-y lifter guys on social media, and it's only the occasional older oddball weirdo who tries to argue with them about the benefits of super slow, low frequency training with's like the exercise equivalent of tin foil hats.  funny enough i actually saw a post this morning from Ben Greenfield where he still recommends doing BBS, but doing it twice a week (still weak, but hey, it's ben greenfield, king of clickbait mountain and emperor of pseudoscience health marketing). when i was doing BBS i would find myself debating stupid shit like "yeah i dunno if i should go for a short hike or do a yoga session or practice capoeira because i did BBS 3 days ago, i have to recover!". I know McGuff has kind of changed his tune as far as activity outside the gym, but not enough. 


    when i was doing BBS, i did it with machines. it felt almost more like a video game than developing myself to have a greater health and capacity to move in the real world. are you EVER going to lift something in your real life as slow as you possibly can? on the other hand, since i've been squatting, deadlifting, barbell rowing, bench pressing, overhead pressing...i find myself actually utilizing the skills i've honed in the gym. moving heavy objects is way more fun than it used to be, lately it's been handy for moving bags of mulch and a woodchipper. 

  • RekaReka ✭✭✭

    If you want to be in a somewhat decent shape with minimal investment you can give it a try but there is no Royal Road to great performance. To be very athletic, it takes much more work than this, and it may not be worth it for you because there are more important things you want to spend time and effort on.


    Maybe the question is: is this the best way improve fitness levels if one wants to spend just half an hour a week with training? What happens if you just pick the 3 big lifts and give each of them 10 minutes, going very intense? (may be better to keep squats and deadlifts a few days apart). Is it going to give you more transferable strength? Because nobody trains to be able to leg press or lat pulldown more.

    It doesn't get easier... It's you who gets better.


    Is your social worker in that horse?


    Success has a price, not a secret.

  • StevoStevo Upgrade in Progress

    I tried it for a few months. It certainly fits nicely into a schedule!


    As for results, I had to stop it as I started Judo and couldn't handle both at once. The noticeable effects were that my muscles were definitely well worked in such a small amount of time, taking days to recover. And my forearms were rock solid when I made a fist.


    It is worth trying out for a couple of months until you figure out a better strategy.

  • DManDMan Master of Arts ✭✭✭

    You guys he asked if it brings results and not if you become the best strength athlete with it.


    It does work.


    Dave is not looking for how to become a super athlete he is looking for longevity and brain performance.


    Also Ben Greenfields Post was about the same topic and it had two plans one was BBS plus another training session with HIIT workout. The other option was not BSS twice a week. I don't remember how exactly it was but he specifically mentioned BBS in his second recommendation.


    Many people believe that being super muscular is not optimal for longevity.


    So the right question IMHO would be "What are your goals"?

    So the actual question would be


    Last but not least maximum capacity training has been there long before BBS and a friend of mine who is a physical therapist learned about it during his education as one of the standard approaches and not some voodoo alternative medicine stuff. :P

    May you be well, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be loved.

    How much to eat:
    advanced | How to train: bulletproof training | HRV: HRV FOR TRAINING HRV BASICS What Affects HRV | Brain  & Memory dual n back training advanced training



  • Many people believe that being super muscular is not optimal for longevity.



    I suspect that hitting that point of muscularity where it starts to be a detriment isn't something that very many people just accidentally stumble upon unless they are genetic freaks and/or competing at a very high level. I suspect that most people have the opposite problem, a low lean mass and a lack of physical capacity, and that a lot of health problems could be prevented and/or fixed by addressing that issue, and that BBS probably isn't sufficient to address that. But, who knows?  

  • I will add my 2 cents.

    1) Personally tried it and BBS will give some result (especially if previously you were untrained)...and as mentioned by Jason, probably minimal.

    2) BBS will be in my opinion near-useless, if one is attempting to loose weight while maintaining muscle or trying to gain muscle. When loosing weight one will most likely loose a lot of muscle, because once (or twice) a week 15 minutes stimulation is just not nearly enough to prevent muscle catabolism. And when gaining muscle, the conventional way of which is training a lot and eating a hypercaloric diet, one will most likely be putting disproportionately tons more fat and barely no muscle, because once again BBS greatly underdoses volume. So its application is only on a isocaloric diet, which by itself is somewhat protective of muscle tissue.

  • DManDMan Master of Arts ✭✭✭
    edited June 2016

    I suspect that hitting that point of muscularity where it starts to be a detriment isn't something that very many people just accidentally stumble upon unless they are genetic freaks and/or competing at a very high level. I suspect that most people have the opposite problem, a low lean mass and a lack of physical capacity, and that a lot of health problems could be prevented and/or fixed by addressing that issue, and that BBS probably isn't sufficient to address that. But, who knows?  


    i believe the doctors and scientist did refer to,the amount of protein in diet that you need for the muscles. and they are talking athletes muscles. and it is tat they looked at really old people and what they do. most do not hit the gym every day but the are active,all day. why exactly so many people recommend lifting twice a week for longevity I dont know. So in the context of longevity we are not looking into the sick people and try to fix them but we look into the oldest people and see why they are so old and I believe that connection and relationships are even better than muscles for that.


    there was a documentary about max capacity training with an actual olympic athlete so I think it must have more value than almost no result like it sounds here in this thread.


    EDIT: I think the huge debate in why HIIT exercise and stuff and too much muscle/workout is due to much more like growth hormone and oxidative stress and a lot more I don't know yet.

    May you be well, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be loved.

    How much to eat:
    advanced | How to train: bulletproof training | HRV: HRV FOR TRAINING HRV BASICS What Affects HRV | Brain  & Memory dual n back training advanced training



  • Here is a positive review from someone who uses it and swears by it.

    I followed this protocol for several years. As Alex Fergus says, the main drawback with this protocol is it hurts. You have to be very dedicated to follow this protocol.

  • I've added the BBS protocol to my regular training system (which therefore means that it's no longer BBS as I'm not taking the rest of the time away from the gym and when I do the lifts Doug recommends I do two each per session rather than one). That said, I find that adding this type of lifting has helped out my lean muscle gains considerably. Whether it's something that would work well for me by only doing the BBS protocol and skipping squats, deadlifts and other lifts is not something I know or can comment on.

  • Muscular growth and restructuring is an adaptation to stress. BBS is like any other protocol that uses the same exercises, loading parameters, volume, repetition patterns, etc. It's a stress that your body will adapt to. As you adapt, every exposure to the stress will elicit progressively lesser adaptation. BBS will "work", but "work" less and less the longer you use it.

    You may find you develop enough muscularity, conditioning, and strength sticking to the protocol, then continue with the protocol to maintain those adaptations. If you are looking to achieve those same goals in less time, you would be better off using a more eclectic approach that uses varying stresses. If you stop noticeably adapting to the BBS protocol and want greater development, you are going to need to adopt a more eclectic approach.

  • I have been doing "body by science" (BBS) "Big 5" workouts since April 2015.

    ** It works!! I get results!**

    Do other programs give "better" results? Probably. But I haven't looked for, or tried, anything else.

    Background: I am 42 years old, male. Habitually, I had been a severely obese couch potato until my late 30's. I work a desk job. When my doctor told me I was pre-diabetic in late 2012, I took action. I didn't want to go on meds. I first started with eliminating junk food and sugars. I changed to a whole foods diet in 2013. That progressed into a ketogenic diet by late 2014. Now, I am no longer pre-diabetic (and I haven been since 2014). I was about 265 pounds in 2012. I am now about 205 pounds now. I am still imperfect :blush:

    **RESULTS: **

    Start April 2015 (in pounds) 1 set, 10 slow reps to fail:

    Row: 65
    Chest press: 40
    Pull down: 75
    Overhead/Shoulder press: 35
    Leg press: 160

    Current January 2017: 1 set, 10 slow reps to fail:

    Row: 180
    Chest press: 110
    Pull down: 185
    Overhead: 105
    Leg press: 500

    I measure my results by how much I can lift to failure in 10 slow reps (which equals about 90 seconds of time under load). It's the easiest objective measure for me. I haven't taken body transformation photos. Nor have I measured the circumference of my arms, sorry. I do the BBS work out once every 7 to 10 days. I don't do cardio. Occasionally I do a different high intensity routine, about once a month, instead of the BBS Big 5, just to keep from getting bored (for example doing leg extension & curls instead of leg press).

    I came across "body by science" in an effort to find ways to improve my posture and resolve frequent neck and upperback muscular pain. And BBS reduced that pain by 90% and my posture is much better.

  • edited February 2017

    Yes, it works. But, as observed by some, I think I prefer Body by Science (SuperSlow, Power of 10, Slow Burn) because I am getting older. Two things, a) recovery is harder from more "traditional" exercise plans (although recovering from a well applied BBS workout can be rough) and b) I just have interests else where. When I was a teen through my 30's working out several times a week for a couple of hours a session held my interest (and it was not always strength training). Not anymore. I might prefer that time to golf (or let us be honest, swear), take the Alsatian to the park, spend time with my two youngest who are heading to University of Idaho, do yard work (not all BBS users are sedentary), shovel snow....I do see change in body shape if I pay attention to what I eat, but I think, more importantly, I get much stronger.

  • I've responded to lots of the questions in this forum about BBS and related HIT/HIIT training. In my experience they just work. Other things work too (I loved doing CrossFit until I wrecked my knee - CrossFit may or may not have contributed to the damage). I don't think any single training protocol answers the needs for everyone. One has to optimize their inputs into a program (available time to workout, available frequency, functional objectives, physical limitations - temporary or permanent) then develop something that works for them.

    All of this said, I think this discussion overlooks a more important factor in the effectiveness and results of any training program.

    If one optimizes their: diet, supplements, sleep, use of cold, timing of workouts, and probably a bunch of other things I can't remember right now... one can significantly affect their free testosterone and estrogen levels. The more affectively one does this, the better any training protocol will work and the sooner you'll recover.

    Intense exercise on its own will affect testosterone levels.

    You have to train. You have to train hard. But all the other stuff, probably drives you outcome far more than training.

  • Hello,

    I am new here. I just read out the book Body by science and it made me interested. In past I trained in gym (few years ago). But I would like to ask:

    1. Comparison BBS vs 5 x 5. Is BBS truly comparable? Or 5x5 gives much better results?
    2. When I train BBS (second week only) how should I eat? I know basics of Paleo approach but the question is how much protein in training day, second day, third day etc.? I suppose that eating 1g / lb protein 6 days after workout does not give any sence becouse musles grow only something like 48 hours. True?
    3. I do also about 10 - 15000 steps daily + 1 - 3 weekly I swim. Try in moderate pace but I am probably often higher to be honest

    Thank you very much

  • Hi, training the BBS method will definitely give you strength and muscularity changes, but your exact response will depend on:

    1. Your genetics
    2. How well you adhere to the programme
    3. How disciplined you are about recovering in time to train again, or do other activities
    4. Your personal diet, stress and lifestyle factors

    I am currently 7 weeks back onto using BBS. I previously used it for a year but did not adhere to the programme exactly. I still got stronger and more muscular, but stopped to focus on martial arts practice.

    There is a lot of research to show that high intensity strength training is effective:

    and it is hard to ignore the experience of Alex Fergus.

    In my experience, people do not follow the programme exactly but do something 'like it', as I did previously. You will make some gains but may end up hitting a wall. This time round, I am following as precisely as possible, and feeling like I am getting even better results.

    Why don't we adhere to the BBS method:

    1. It seems too fiddly to be disciplined with monitoring TUL and training frequency etc. as prescribed.
    2. It is hard in a public gym to move reasonably quickly from machine to machine
    3. People, especially young people or people with other interests get bored, and want to do something else / in between
    4. You enjoy the feeling of working out and want to workout faster than your body is ready to
    5. You don't get enough sleep and manage stress / diet well enough to be ready to train again
    6. The main reason - It is hard and painful! As you get stronger, you have to be really committed to make it work.

    As you get stronger, if you are training the system properly, it will be all the exercise you can handle! You will need the week/10 days to recover again before you are ready to train. After a few days of aching and a little fatigue you will recover and feel stronger, and then not notice while your body continues to get stronger.

    One way to think about the training is that it is building strength headroom for you to go on and do other things of lower strength intensity, but if you do those other things while you don't have enough headroom, you will keep hitting your head on the wall.

    If the BBS method appeals to you:

    1. Read it
    2. Read it again, and make some notes
    3. Train this way for at least 8 weeks and see what results you get
    4. Make sure you focus on recovery and diet otherwise you will not benefit from the system.
    5. Be patient.

    Dr Mcguff has a lot of audio resources where he discusses the ins and outs in detail (at the bottom), worth listening to:

    Good luck

  • Hi, I've been doing BBS for more than 2 years. For me it works because it fits my lifestyle and schedule. I'm not a body builder and if I wanted to become a body builder, I'd have to look for something else because it's not giving me those kinds of results. What it is doing is keeping me strong with an easy to handle and execute protocol. It does not feel like minimal effort while it's being done, quite the contrary. But since it's such a small commitment of my week, it's easy to do, hard to find an excuse not to do it.

    I also swim, bike, run and play sports, but BBS is the only weight lifting I do. Were I to do more weight lifting, I'd probably have to cut back on these other activities, which I really enjoy. BBS fits perfectly in this kind of exercise regime.

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