Body by Science / HIIT Experiment

A Jay

FOTCM Member
I didn't read the book but recall this thread. Since December 2019 I started exercising twice a week mostly using my body weight on a yoga mat. I missed a day this past week so when I did it it had been 7 days.

Basically I felt like I could do more and it took longer to run out of breath. So I wonder if there is something to putting longer periods in between working out, like 7-10 days.

That is one of the major ideas of the book that bares out in my personal experience as well. The stronger you get the more recovery time you need and if you want positive adaptations (i.e. you want to build muscle, strength, conditioning, etc.) you must add more rest time on top of simple recovery time in order to allow for those adaptations to be made.
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First of all, many thanks to @ScioAgapeOmnis and @Scottie for bringing up BBS and HIT. It was a life saver for me.

Beyond mandatory P.E. at school I've never done any meaningful physical activity growing up. Probably due to low energy levels (poor diet) and a poor physical coordination, I've always disliked sport. Unfortunately, a heavy school backpack combined with no physical activity and a sudden growth (I'm now 188cm/6'2"), resulted in chronic back pain and a slight spine deformation. Carrying extra fat didn't help either.

In order to remedy the pain I've started to try bodyweight strength programs in order to strengthen my back's muscles. I didn't obtain much results and the last one, a crossfit-like program, nearly killed me (well not literally, but it clearly wasn't good for my health). At that time I saw the BBS thread and gave it a go. Reading the book really put strength training into perspective, especially the intensity/volume paradigm.

Since I have a poor body control I thought it wasn't a good idea to practice with free weights and no gyms were available near me at the time. Fortunately, someone posted the adapted bodyweight routine and I started with that. I was then struggling to adjust the exercises to my strength as my arms, shoulders and back were really weak. After a few weeks of struggle and doubts about doing things right, I gave up practicing.

In February last year I've transitioned to a carnivore diet and subsequently lost a bunch of fat and excess water (from water retention). I had more of a skinny-fat profile so losing the equivalent of 10kg/22lb definitely made me look like a skeleton (at least my upper torso and back). On top of that my back pain was still there even though the change of diet brought overall a far better sense of well-being. Addressing the issue became critical and at the same time everything went into lockdown so going to the gym (even far away) wasn't an option anymore.

After searching for similar HIT methods as BBS, I stumbled upon Drew Baye's Timed Static Contraction Training. It is a program of minimalist high intensity Isometrics that needs as equipment only a strong, non-elastic strap 2"/2.54cm wide and two and one-half times as long as you are tall. Forearm-style moving straps for furniture can be used for this purpose.

Contrary to dynamic exercises (as in BBS) your own strength become your load and no movement is performed during the exercises. An exercise is 1m30s long and is split into 3 sections of 30s :
  1. Contract the muscle group targeted by the exercise at around 50% of maximum strength. The goal is to feel the muscles targeted and warm them up.
  2. Contract the muscle group targeted by the exercise at around 90% of maximum strength. The goal is to contract as far as you dare without hurting yourself. Here you reach muscle fatigue and diminish the maximum strength. For comparison, the intensity is comparable as the last one or two repetitions of a dynamic exercise performed to the point of momentary muscular failure.
  3. Contract the muscle group targeted by the exercise at maximum strength. Now that the muscles are fatigued, contracting at full strength (or what's left of it) won't hurt the body. The goal is to deeply fatigue the muscles until no strength is left.
This approach has advantages and drawbacks :
  • - Performances and progress must be quantified indirectly (body composition, how clothes fits, weight, etc).
  • - With no feedback during the exercises, contracting the muscles as intensely as you should can be a challenge (especially when working out alone).
  • + Can be done virtually anywhere.
  • + Arguably easier/safer to perform than dynamic HIT exercises (especially free weight ones).
  • + Scale up/down automatically according to the person's strength.
Rest periods between sessions are determined by your sensations (i.e. do you feel ready/at full strength ?) and is therefore variable. An indicative average figure of 2-3 days is given but just like the 7 day rest in BBS, it may not be long enough.

This program really fitted the bill for me and I've practiced it for the past 8 months and half. I am definitely surdier and stronger than before. I'm starting to resemble a human being again, that's something :dance:Even 2 months in, back in August, I was moving houses and I really felt the difference when mounting/moving furnitures (especially my lower back). While I feel less back pain I'll probably have to rectify my spine if I want to be completely pain free on that front.

To sum up, a huge thank you for getting this way of working out known. It made me love physical activity for the first time in my life :-)
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