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Clarence Bass by Guy Appelman


FAQ 15

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 From The Desk of Clarence Bass


Diet & Nutrition

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Fat Loss & Weight Control

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Psychology & Motivation

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Physical Activity After 65?

A: I was troubled--but not really surprised--to read in the Nutrition Action Health Letter that "nearly one in four women over age 65 are unable to walk just two or three blocks at a stretch." Lack of mobility is, of course, associated with a loss of independence. If you can't get around well, life tends to close in on you, limiting your opportunities.

A study reported in JAMA Network Open on February 23, 2021 shows that it doesn't have to be this way. Self help can keep us going strong at 65 and beyond.

Nicole L. Glass, MPH, and John Bellettiere, PhD, Human Longevity Science, University of California, San Diego, and colleagues followed 5,735 mobile women aged 63 or older who wore an accelerometer to measure their activity level.

After five years they measured their mobility again, finding that those who did roughly 5 to 10 hours of light activity a day had a 40 percent lower risk of disability than those who did 4 hours or less.

Disability meant that they couldn't walk a block or up a flight of stairs on a typical day.

They concluded that increased time spent in light-intensity activity is likely to reduce incidents of disability.

In short, staying active will keep you mobile. Get up and get moving every day, and you'll do fine.

Sit around most of the time and you're likely to find that you're having trouble getting up without a struggle. Spend time in the waiting room of doctors (any kind) and you're likely to see people who find themselves straining to get up, much less going up stairs.

Nutrition Action suggests following the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: at least 5 hours of light activity a day. Better yet, 2 and a half hours of moderate--or one and one half hours of vigorous activity. Some combination of the three options is probably best.

You can read the entire study online: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2776720

More Suggestions

If you want to be able to get up, do chair squats several times a week. (To make it harder do slow reps or wear a weight belt) If you want to keep walking, make walking part of your day. If you want to be able to climb stairs, climb stairs indoors and hills outside.

Carol is a good example. Every day she takes a long walk outdoors, and then does short walks indoors throughout the day. On weekends she hikes in the foothills with me.

She also does strength training: Hip-Belt Squats and a variety of free weight or machine exercises for the rest of her body.

In short, she stays active and has the mobility that goes with it.

This is my favorite photo of us together--with her arm up in victory.

Photo by a friendly neighbor


June 1, 2021

Should I Count Calories to Lose Weight?

A: No. I've never counted calories. It's a nuisance and not necessary. The key is to eat quality foods that fill you up, without overshooting your calorie needs.

Here's what I wrote in my first book, RIPPED: The Sensible Way to Achieve Ultimate Muscularity, published in 1980:

Self-discipline is the problem: Itís hard to discipline yourself to eat fewer calories than you burn. I found the solution to this problem. I discovered by eating only natural, unprocessed foods, you avoid almost all concentrated calorie foods, and you wonít overeat. Youíll become lean.

People marveled at my results but questioned my diet. Many said (or thought) it was too good to be true. That I was oversimplifying or just didnít understand how weight control works for most people.

* * *

Counting calories may still be the prevailing view: Why Calorie Counting Still Works Best for Weight Loss: https://www.verywellfit.com/why-calories-still-count-3496053

But some heavy hitters are coming around to my way of getting lean and staying lean.

Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and editor-in-chief of Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter, addressed your query in the February, 2021 issue:

"Counting calories is not necessary, and, I believe, not desirable when trying to lose weight. Calories of course matter, but the number of calories we ultimately eat - and burn - is influenced long-term by the types of foods we eat.

"Based on our evolutionary past when food was scarce, humans have multiple powerful, overlapping mechanisms for maintaining weight. A focus on calorie counting can work for short term weight loss, but eventually these mechanisms for weight control fight back."

"Different types of food we eat have important influences on these mechanisms. When we eat foods that are more highly processed, rich in starch or sugar, rapidly digested, and nutrient poor - even when restricting calories - our weight maintenance mechanisms are affected in negative ways that make it hard to keep the weight off.  In contrast, when we eat foods that are minimally processed, rich in fiber, phytonutrients, and healthy fats, and slowly digested, these mechanisms are affected in positive ways that help us slowly lose weight, and keep it off long term."

"For long-term success and steady gradual, weight loss, fill up on foods like fruits, nuts, beans, virgin plant oils, non-starchy veggies, minimally processed whole grains and fish, as well as yogurt with probiotics.  Minimize foods high in refined starch (most breads, cereals, rice, crackers, granola bars, muffins, etc.), sweets and sugars, sugary drinks and alcohol, and processed meats.  Other foods like cheese, poultry, eggs, and occasionally, unprocessed red meats, can be eaten in moderation."

"Aim to lose a pound a week or simply to keep weight constant (itself a victory). Focus on making healthy food choices rather than counting calories. This approach will help your health at any weight."

*  * *

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at Harvard, and perhaps the most widely quoted person in nutrition and health, also calls diet quality important for both weight control and long-term well-being.

Finally, Harvard professor David Ludwig, MD, PhD, is rewriting the rules of diet and weight control with his book Always Hungry? (Grand Central Life Style, 2016)

For a detailed review of Professor Ludwig's insightful book, see my Unlock Your Fat Cells, Forget Calories, Think Quality and Satisfaction: https://www.cbass.com/unlockfatcells.htm

* * *

Now, it's up to you to decide which approach suits you best. Programs that you own work best; see The Ownership Principle: https://www.cbass.com/SELECTIO.HTM

Good training - and eating.

March 1, 2021

Why Are Some People Sore a Day or Two After Training and Others Are Not?

Visitor Comments Below

A: Emeritus Professor of Psychology Richard Winett and I have been debating this for years. He avoids soreness and I welcome it.

Suggestions that delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) may suppress the immune system caused us to take another look at this issue.

After finding little or no evidence that strenuous exercise impairs immunity, we resumed our evaluation of the two forms of training. It turns out that both approaches have merit.

I've written about DOMS at length: https://www.cbass.com/musclesoreness.htm

My experience is that muscle soreness is an important factor in long term training success. Soreness signals change and progress. And progress keeps us motivated.

Richard on the other hand, enjoys putting great effort into doing the same thing over and over--and rarely gets sore. He seeks perfection in movement, while I value change and progress.

While that explanation--change brings soreness--is in my earlier article, Richard and I dug deeper and found interesting nuances in the two approaches.

Our dialogue was enlightening, and I believe our readers will find it helpful in planning their own training.

*  *  *

CB: Several questions. Do you have a bottom line on DOMS? Is it to be avoided altogether or simply kept to a minimum?

RW: I try to keep it to a minimum and no longer believe a high level of DOMS is a sign of a good workout. Part of this is that I basically tend to do the same or similar workouts repeatedly, except for perhaps changing the order of exercises or adding a new exercise and dropping one. But, otherwise, very similar. I basically like training and really do not require novelty to keep me going. Before I had to start with resistance bands, for example, I always began lower body training with high repetition barbell squats, something I began about 50 years ago. Still hard and still productive and enjoyable in the sense of the challenge to really do a great set. But, as with other exercises, less weight than before and much more focus on form and engaging muscles. Before I got hurt, now about a year ago, my form in the squat was my best ever, though as noted with less weight than even a few years prior.

Keep in mind that my overall goal is to remain functional which means maintaining strength and I also want to look as one friend used to say Ďgood for my age.í At this point it means, I look good in clothes or summer clothes such as shorts and a shirt, but not as a very lean physique.

I also want to be able to easily recover from a workout in a day, assuming decent sleep, so I can be active the next day.

CB: Like you, I am using lighter weights and higher reps, focusing on effort. Nevertheless, I almost always experience DOMS. My solution is to rest longer to allow full recovery--staying active with my Morning Motion and walking to aid recovery.

RW: I think this may just be an individual response. Much as you can do your routine and look fantastic at 83, so you are both for strength and bodybuilding a great responder to resistance training. So, there likely are different ways people respond for DOMS.

CB: I train body parts differently in my two main workouts, which may to some degree explain almost always being sore. Makes training more interesting and I enjoy doing it that way.

RW: I think if an exercise was only done once every two weeks, for example, I would get some DOMS Ė even something as simple as going from incline DB curls to standing DB curls, or even changing an angle on a leg press. So, thatís a big difference in how we train. Iím pretty much sticking to the same movements.

CB: My experience is that some DOMS is a necessary evil. Stuart Phillips in Canada seems to suggest that soreness can be avoided entirely without sacrificing results. (See article link above for my exchange with Professor Phillips. You'll note that he acknowledges that change makes him sore.)

RW: I would rely on Stuart Phillips completely. He really is a super star in his field.

CB: My tests at the Cooper Clinic show my inflammation level to be very low.

RW: Thatís really good.

CB: You seem to suggest that some soreness is to be expected when training near failure.

RW: Iím not sure itís failure at least as defined as performing the last rep in the same good form as the prior reps. Once form starts to break down, it starts to become almost a different movement. So, to go back say to incline db curls, I would not start a slight swing to the dumbbells to get another rep, or not lower dumbbells completely, or turn a set into a sort of rest pause approach.

CB: Correct or am I misunderstanding?

RW: See above.

CB: My way of training is obviously sustainable and my results very good, perhaps exceptional.

RW: Your results always have been incredible. I think a real key beyond how you can respond is doing things in training you find interesting and challenging.

CB: I know that you are reluctant to give me advice. Please put that aside and tell me how you believe I can make my training more sustainable--and productive.

RW: I think your training is very productive. I also, for example, am well aware that I could train with less frequency and the results would be about the same. So, my frequency of training may be just a preference that I can rationalize in any number of ways, but not a necessity. I also though recall that if I could sleep decently, I always seemed to be able to recover well. Keep in mind too that I found it hard to tolerate and recover from something you did very well, really hard and longer rowing sessions. That created more DOMS than anything else. Iím best in short sprint protocols such as Gibalaís 3 x 20 second protocol, or the very brief protocol noted in my piece on Sustainable Training. But, you seemed to do great with rowing.

CB: I'm planning to do a piece on the good and bad of DOMS, something I haven't addressed since my 2016 piece cited above. [This is it.]

RW: I think it is what you think a high level of DOMS means. We know we can create it with a new exercise or two but is a high level really necessary? I donít think so. I would say the next day knowing - feeling - that you trained the day before, for example, but really being functional is critical.

CB: As noted earlier, I expect to give options--yours and mine--and let readers decide for themselves.

You are a very successful lifetime trainer and I'd like to present your way as another viable option. If we are both doing basically the same thing I'd like to relate that as well.

RW: I think we both have reduced the amount of weights we use, pay attention to form and train to a high degree of effort Ė in many ways at least for resistance training, our training while not the same is similar. I also like the idea of the Ďmind muscle connectioní, so my approach is more bodybuilding and not really lifting with a few exceptions noted in the my Sustainable Training piece.

CB: I am of course referring to your training before your fall led you to all resistance bands, which is obviously another viable option.

RW: I may stick with bands, just not really sure. Before my fall, I had been thinking about one lower, and one upper body workout a week with free weights and machines, and then one whole body bands workout. I did not get to try that out.

CB: Give me something new to write about.

RW: Maybe again this is about an individual response rather than a totally different way of training. I think we both changed our training so we can keep training into old age and still not get hurt and be functional. I also elected not to try to look as incredibly defined as I did when I was 46 and 47 and was about 5% bodyfat. I weigh the same as I did then but have lost about 10 lbs. of muscle mass and gained about 10 lbs. of body fat. Still for my age my body fat is quite good but obviously not in your category.

But, by means of comparison, with no or ineffective training over the last close to 30 years, the expectation is that I likely would have lost about 25 lbs of muscle mass and maybe would have tried to compensate by weighing less.


This photo provided by Richard shows him in peak condition at 46. He is now in his 76th year.


*  *  *

Hope we've given you a lot to think about. The choice is yours. Take what makes sense and appeals to you, and leave the rest.

Good training.

February 1, 2021

Selected Visitor Comments

DOMS Not Relevant

Iíve been aware of the DOMS issue for many years, but, as a practical, personal matter, it's never had any relevance for my training. 

I work out seven days a week, alternating a lifting workout with a powerwalk (in a nearby park that has decent slopes).

Energy and enthusiasm are my two gauges for recovery, and it's often just one day in three weeks that I'll skip a workout day because I become aware that these gauges are low.

Great Conversation

Great conversation regarding DOMS and training in general! Iím 72 years of age and have made many adaptations to my training due to age/injury limitations. As there are not many resources for the older trainer, you and Richard have been my guiding lights for the past 25+ years. Thank you both for all the insight and motivation that you have provided!

When Growing Stopped, Soreness Stopped

I had a major break through in my training (at about the age of 30) when I cut my workouts to 3 days a week 30 minutes max on a upper body - lower body split. I did two sets per large muscle and 1 for smaller. I gave it my all and put on the most muscle I ever have and my strength went through the roof (benching 300lbs, squatting 405 for 10 deep reps with good form and no knee wraps). This is after already working out hard for 15 years already. In the first 3 months of the 3 thirty minute workouts, my muscle soreness came back like I was a beginner again. My point of all this is, I think the soreness was related to me growing again.

Once I stopped growing, the soreness stopped.

Choose Lasting Results

Very interesting article as there are 2 opinions to compare.

In the end I choose your opinion in view of your lasting results, which does not alter the fact that there are different ways to train.

Stress and Allow Recovery

Infrequent strenuous training, with adequate rest, may modulate/impair/suppress the immune system some, for up to 24 hours, but the exercise benefits far out way any short term immune system changes. As you say Clarence, stress the body, then give it plenty of time to recover!

Genetic Difference

I find that I rarely get DOMS unless I've been sick and have laid off of training for a week or two. On the other hand, one of my younger brothers who trains regularly almost always has DOMS whenever he does a weightlifting workout, even though he does them on a regular basis. So perhaps some of the difference here is due to genetic differences rather than just differences in how we train.

Two Day Delay

Now at 78, I'm experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness about 2 days after working a certain muscle group. Due to our restricted trips out of the house, I'm finding that doing 1 or 2 different muscle groups per day over 5 or 6 consecutive days provides "cabin fever" stress relief - and that the soreness always seems noticeable in those previously exercised muscles.

Soreness Keeps Training Interesting

I agree very much with you that getting sore after a workout is the body's feedback that you've done a good workout. Therefore I welcome soreness. But I can also see Winett's point of view, of never being debilitated by soreness. So I think the major factor in the equation is psychological. Some people (like me, and also you perhaps) want to push themselves to the outer edges of the body limitations. It just plain makes us feel like we're accomplishing something. It motivates us and satisfies us. The thought of doing the exact same workout (with only minor variations) week after week, year after year, like Winett would drive me out of the gym. It would be too boring. The fact that he thrives with such a regiment shows how different we are.

March 1, 2021

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