Peak Performance, by Alex Klurfeld
Peak Performance, by Alex Klurfeld
The interview continues where it left off here.
Alex Klurfeld: No, of course not. If you worked out like it's 1955 you'd be leaning into a vibrating leather belt while smoking a cigarette. They had bro-science back then too. Only worse, because the science was even murkier. Today's snake oil requires a more nuanced sales pitch than the door-to-door salesmen peddling vibrating belts and portable sauna-tubs were using back then.
Recovery Art: So, what then?
Alex Klurfeld: So you seek out the right advice. Whether you're on the road to greatness or the road to recovery, the trick isn't in finding the latest and greatest gimmick to get you to where you want to be. The trick is more in knowing what not to do than in what to do.
Recovery Art: How does the average person know what the right advice is? If there's a cesspool of fake health news out there (my words not yours, but I'm trying to paraphrase) then how are we to wade through it all to get to the truth? Most of us don't want to have go all Woodward-and-Bernstein just to figure out whether to do our pushups in the morning. I see you're laughing, but it's true. Who has time for that level of research?
Alex Klurfeld: I'm not laughing at you or the question, but because you make the point better than I ever could. I'm going to use that.
Recovery Art: Feel free.
Alex Klurfeld: You start by consulting your doctor and your licensed physical therapist. Someone who has been in practice long enough to have seen the fads come and go. They don't have to have been at it for decades either. The fads are coming and going faster every year. Then you use your own judgement. Most of what you should be doing is based on common sense. If they want you to ingest highly processed non-food and then run to the gym in time to do a light warm up before going to the heavy weights and they use fancy terms like "protein timing" and "reverse pyramid progressive overload," to justify their reasoning, it's time to take a pass.
Recovery Art: I've heard of both of those things and I've read the articles behind them. Are you saying they're wrong? That they won't work?
Alex Klurfeld: I'm saying it doesn't matter if it works or doesn't work. The jury is still out on whether it works. There are plenty of people, some bodybuilders included, who swear by this kind of training. And these are massively muscular individuals. I'm saying that there are many ways that "work." You don't have to do this to achieve the same results, but I'd advise against making that anyone's goal in the first place.
Recovery Art: What's wrong with a goal of achieving a high muscle mass, low fat physique? You seem to be calling the kettle black.
Alex Klurfeld: There is nothing wrong with it, per se. But I'm coming from a place of wanting well being, overall health and longevity for my patients. And I'm telling you that you can have all of those things while maintaining a muscular build. But the focus has to be on health first and muscles second.
Recovery Art: What's wrong with muscles?
Alex Klurfeld: Nothing at all. In fact, recent studies support the notion that carrying muscle mass into old age improves longevity, cognition and quality of life.
Recovery Art: So then . . . ?
Alex Klurfeld: So then, the problem is that most people skip the health part and go straight to the "big muscles" part. I've seen men twice my size walk over to pick up the 100 pound dumbbells to bench press with. They can bench them easily. But you can see by the way they move-- when they carry them back and forth-- that they don't have the core strength necessary to prevent injury.
Recovery Art: "Core Strength," now that has a modern-fad sound to it. I think most of us have heard of this in recent years.
Alex Klurfeld: Yes. And that's because it has proven itself out. Core strength is a whole other subject that has been over-hyped and exploited. It's fitness blogger fodder and has a lot of myths behind it too. But, to put it simply, we know that there are a network of smaller muscles that support the larger ones. If this becomes lopsided in favor of the major muscle groups, to the detriment of the poor, unsuspecting smaller support muscles (such as those found in the abdomen) your trainer's sciencey-sounding plan involving "muscle overload" will unfortunately do exactly what it sounds like it will do.
Recovery Art: That make sense. And yet I'm confused. So what are we left with here?
Alex Klurfeld: We're left with what you already know. Trust your gut. If it sounds too convoluted to be true, it probably is. Playing it safe doesn't mean you don't play to win. Run it by your doctor and your physical therapist. And you don't need to overstress the body to get results. You just don't.
Recovery Art: Good advice indeed.