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Body by Science: A Research-Based Program for Strength Training, Body Building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,997 ratings  ·  145 reviews
Building muscle has never been faster or easier than with this revolutionary once-a-week training program

In Body By Science, bodybuilding powerhouse John Little teams up with fitness medicine expert Dr. Doug McGuff to present a scientifically proven formula for maximizing muscle development in just 12 minutes a week. Backed by rigorous research, the authors prescribe a wee
Paperback, 284 pages
Published December 11th 2008 by McGraw-Hill
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Nick No, but you could hire someone on or to read it for you.

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 ·  1,997 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Five Stars out of Five. Highest recommendation.

STOP. Read this book before you do one more exercise routine.

McGuff is an Emergency physician with an avocation for fitness and John Little is a professional fitness trainer. Body by Science is subtitled “A research-based program for strength training, body-building and complete fitness in 12 minutes a week.” The authors cite empirical studies relating workout regimens and formulate a specific routine to most efficiently build muscle while burning f
Zack Ward
Body by Science does an excellent job at explaining the science of fat metabolism. It advocates a once a week, superslow, high intensity training regimen with emphasis on getting sufficient rest for optimal muscle growth. They make the argument that the training stimulus must be powerful enough to shock your body into survival mode, citing several studies in scientific journals that showed elevated growth in response to the superslow method (or HIIT bike training).

However, they do not mention th
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Loses a star because while most of it seems to be backed up by pretty decent science (I'm basing this judgment on descriptions of studies, not on looking up the studies myself, because I'm far too lazy), it has some unsupported claims sprinkled in.

The gist (and what does seem well supported) is that our health and fitness are best served by infrequent bouts of high intensity exercise -- basically, about 12 minutes of hardcore strength training (heavy weights that lead to muscle failure in 45-90
Aaron Gertler
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? It worked for me.

This is not a book for sport-specific athletes or aspiring Olympic lifters. This is a book for people who want to build and/or maintain muscle mass without spending very much time. In other worlds, this is a book for most people, especially older people.

I'll stay specific from now on. I am 22 years old. I weigh 180, bench 225, squat 275, deadlift 350 (with some variation around these numbers). I can do 20 strict chin-ups without stopping. I work out once every fo
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: exercise
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a very interesting book about an approach to strength training. The approach is to perform a small number of high-intensity resistance exercises for a short duration, about once a week. The exercises involve slow repetitions to the point of muscular failure, and then holding the weight against resistance for about ten seconds, even after further full repetitions are impossible. The idea is (1) to break down the muscles to a significant extent and then (2) to give the body an adequate tim ...more
Chuck Claunch
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I grabbed this book after watching Doug McGuff's youtube video regarding medical proof of the paleo diet (seen here: The book explains the medical science behind various types of workouts. The authors do a great job of going into extreme medical detail of how and why various workout techniques work or don't work. I found it refreshing for someone with a fitness plan to actually explain to me how things work and why their routine works best rather than j ...more
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to start this review by adding some perspective. Mine.

A chunky 10 year old, early on I developed an interest in exercise. This interest ultimately manifested itself in a request for some weights that Santa brought me on Christmas. They weren't much, 5-10 pound sand weights. Enough to curl and press and make me feel as if I were doing something.

These weights were soon followed up with a Joanne Greggins exercise tape. We're talking about the late '70s so think thongs, leg warmers, sweat
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
The argument in this book actually seems clear and reasonable, and makes sense to me. It also tracks with my own training experience. The premise is that low intensity workouts don't benefit our muscle and cardiovascular development nearly as much as high intensity workouts because they never use some of the most significant muscles. The authors believe they have developed the maximally efficient workout regimen for the average individual in a 10-minute workout once per week. This workout does n ...more
Dave Bolton
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
I found the science in this to be credible (not having the background of the authors, I can't debate it), but I was not so taken with the implementation. While short and hard "to-failure" workouts seem fine according to the theory, I'm doubtful that I could build up the overall strength that a system like Starting Strength has given me. They also quote large improvements from new recruits (I don't have the book to hand, but it was in the order of "50% improvement over 12 weeks!", which sounded g ...more
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book makes a compelling case for working towards complete fitness with a 12-minute workout once a week.

Strong muscles prompt a strong body in every way and too much repetitive movement (running, cycling) is actually detrimental to your body over time.

This book turns everything that we have come to believe about health and fitness upside down.

Weight lifting is for everyone -- not for body building as we traditionally know it, but for building a healthier body. Seniors especially should read
Sean Goh
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Such statements of "you ought to take up swimming, because you want long, lean muscles, not big, bulky muscles." are the result of misapplied observations and of assumed cause-and-effect relationships that are actually inverted: it wasn't the activity that produced the body type; it was the body type that did well in that activity.

It is a common practice to "seek a doctor's advice" regarding what type of exercise program one should follow to be healthy. This seems to most of us a logical thing t
Filip Ligmajer
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
page 10 | location 145-151 | Added on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 22:14:46 People will see a group of champion swimmers and observe a certain appearance, or they’ll see a group of professional bodybuilders and observe another appearance, and it seems logical to assume that there is something about what these athletes are doing in their training that has created the way they appear. However, this assumption is a misapplication of observational statistics. If you should ever attend a national AAU s ...more
Dio Mavroyannis
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is all the science you need to know swim through the bullshit. It's kind of insane how much misinformation there is out there on healthy research programs, but here it is, the end all be all. The book slowly tries to get rid of common popular illusions around what it is that makes us healthy. It is a book that gets technical yet, you don't need to understand the details on the first read, you only need to get the intuition, once you have the intuition you will understand why this is somethi ...more
Sonja Tyson
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was my exercise book for when I'm too tired to read much else. I've read it before, so nothing new. The book argues for working out maybe once a week, but really really hard. ...more
Colin Larcombe
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health
I tried to apply it but it requires a lot of thought whilst training
Mindaugas Grigas
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Definitely one of the best books I ever read regarding activity. Highly recommend! Searching for the pill of anti-aging? There is one. It calls slow resistance training. One more to my Golden library!
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bad title, very good book. Also not just about strength training but covers diet as well.
Alan Gou
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-finished
The most interesting parts of this book was not the actual fitness program recommended, but rather the extensive information it contains about the body's metabolic pathways and how they interact to build muscle, replenish energy stores, break down or build up fat, and all the cellular interactions and hormones that ties it all together.

I recommend it to anyone who is interested in their health and wants to make the most of their time, plus those who enjoy learning about the details of how it all
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting book. I liked the introductory passages on muscle biology - clear and well written.

Concerning the program itself:

1) it sounds it *could* work in *theory*
2) But: training to failure is very hard to do without a trainer. The program really requires failure and without a trainer it is hard to achieve consistently both due to physical and psychological factors. Measuring time under load is also a slightly larger hassle than volume+reps.
3) Special type of equipment is recommended (thou
Nick Short
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
Well written and thoroughly researched. Caused huge reversal in thinking in a domain I considered myself knowledgeable. Advocates high intensity, low frequency exercising. Not against "'cardio' exercises" as some think, rather the authors explain (very well, and repeatedly) that taking each rep to its extreme forces one to use deeper, fast twitch muscle fibers which is in turn much more productive to your cardiovascular system. Also genetics, fat, and muscle growth explained and some human biolo ...more
deleted d
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading it, and found quite some useful information. Recommended to people with open mind for weight lifting and recovery.

Body by science
- Less is more, but more intense
- Average recovery time is 7 days, can range from 6-12 days
- Slow lifting for less momentum. Use 5up/5down only as guideline use slow smooth motion
- Machine lifts is safer
- Author says streching is mostly useless
- No rest between exercises
- No gym? No excuses: chin up shoulder width, pushups, squats, static lateral rai
Mar 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
The most time-efficient and productive strength training program is one based upon the principles of high-intensity.

Productive exercise must be of a specific threshold level of intensity. In other words, any exercise level below the threshold will not stimulate positive adaptations.

Additionally, high-intensity exercise sessions will be comparatively brief and dose appropriate as opposed to conventional exercise a thought process driven largely by 'exercise angst.'

My earliest and most producti
Nov 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, fitness-health
Eye opener.Great book in the area of fitness and health.Must read for all.
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dave Asprey referred to 'Body by Science' in his 'Headstrong' book. I am glad I came across this book. I have highlighted many sections from the book for later reference, and fortunately, Dr. McGuff has also remained active with his seminars, being a guests on podcasts, and making many videos available on YouTube. This book came out in 2009. And it still feels like a long-tail book about an important topic that has not become mainstream yet.

After reading this book it is clear to me that the con
Sergiusz Golec
Jan 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
That book promotes Hyper Intensive Trainings (HIT). Train 6-9-12 minutes a week (in a gym).
The science around the subject.

For me, some parts of the book are strongly disappointing and subjective.
"There are lies, big lies and statistics". I remember that from my studies at university. Like "90% of doctors like Chinese food", where in the 10 doctors sample 9 are Chinese.

In that book, you can find statistics and DNA justifications. Here I felt that I observe many biases. Like the errors of perspec
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: edit-me, non-fiction
This guide was written by inquisitive people on the hunt for the most effective, most efficient, and safest exercise program that humans can do to maintain their health. In the process of their research, they discovered that there weren't a lot of defined operational terms in the health industry to measure anything by to even begin creating a database of this information. The book starts with their definitions of three main words:

Health: a physiological state in which there is an absence of dise
Samuel Kordik
There is more high-quality scientific knowledge about the body available today than ever before, but it lives in many different fields and is often inaccessible without rigorous scientific training. Because of these factors, this knowledge is not commonly understood in combination, and despite the advanced state of our science, Americans are unhealthier than ever before. Doug McGuff is an emergency physician motivated in large part by seeing the end consequences of our collective poor health in ...more
Alex Moskalyuk
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Starts with quite a bit of quotable reproducible science, but then quickly deteriorates into hearsay. Machine circuit is preferable to free weights because bodybuilding magazines are controlled by Big Free Weights conglomerates. Authors quickly gloss over the evidence that free weights contribute to more comprehensive muscular development and consequently require fewer exercises.

Early Nautilus machines are preferred to late Nautilus machines because they have the magic touch of Arthur Rock hims
May 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book makes quite a few claims that contradict almost every book on the same subject. It's possible that with enough qualifications it would not contradict other books and studies, but they don't tend to give those qualifications. It's also possible, the rather unlikely, that this book is correct and the other books are just wrong. I haven't looked into the studies personally yet.

Some of their claims are more obviously dubious. They recommend doing squats and deadlifts, but just setting up t
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“if one desires to have the body type of, say, a champion swimmer, the best course is to start by having the same parents as that champion swimmer—rather than his or her training methods.” 2 likes
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