Archive for the ‘Program Reviews’ Category

Okay, since we’re being honest here, it is the audiobook I’m reviewing which is unabridged anyway.

I had to restart the book a couple of times because the author lost me at one crucial point – after discussing a plethora of nutritional supplements that can be helpful, he adds in the shameless plug of his own brand.

Maybe I’m extra sensitive to this kind of marketing within a product, because I was disillusioned when starting out a fitness program for the first time. It was Bill Phillips’ Body-For-Life, a hugely motivational and successful book that came out when I was about 18. I loved it, until I realized that this book – that I bought under the assumption that it had the answers to my questions – was really just a marketing gimmick, and to add insult to injury, I had paid thirty bucks to be advertised to.

This is one of the reasons that I was initially drawn to Tom Venuto who very deliberately disassociates himself from any supplement brand.

Aubrey, here uses some slick salesmanship teaching you that “you are worth” investing in his supplements which kind of pisses me off a lot and undermined virtually everything he said leading up to that point – especially his supplement suggestions.

Just as I was getting back into it… he started marketing his own podcast and I was ready to strangle the bastard.

Enough about that, on to the rest of the book.

Here are a few of the ideas in the book…

  • Start the day with salted lemon water for hydration – probably a good idea
  • Use cold showers in conjunction with Wim Hof breathing – cold exposure is an interesting idea, although to be honest I’m not sold on the breathing
  • The joys of using plants – most of which can’t be obtained legally anyway
  • Pitches for bulletproof coffee
  • Don’t over cook meat – this was an interesting recommendation I’ll have to look into further
  • Embrace challenges – I think this is a great philosophy
  • Calories are bogus, it’s macronutrients that matter – I partly agree with him here. I think he’s right, but calories are something of a common denominator that makes portion control easier for most people; that said, his book is about taking things above “good enough”, so it is definitely good information
  • Taking 30 min naps midday
  • Brainwave states and binaural beats – again, an intriguing idea I have more to learn about
  • Use small amounts of drugs and alcohol post training to enhance their effects

Now onto the training portion… the exercise portion of the book aims to give an “unconventional” program to provide unconventional results. For the most part it is CrossFit training, with a dash of strength training. He also throws in some “animal walks” – which very well might be effective, but I can’t bring myself to trying them as they make me feel ridiculous.

Once he lays out the protocols for training he then (big surprise) tells you that if you are serious about training you should visit his site to buy his coaching services. Once again he has shamelessly plugged himself out of any respect he might have earned up to this point.

He does something interesting but somewhat perplexing at the end of the training section… he tells about how researchers found that just thinking about exercising made people stronger and fitter – interesting for sure, but a strange thing to say when you are trying to convince people to actually train. Perhaps this would be better in a different part of the book.

The next section of his book is about connecting with other people, which is a fine suggestion, but unfortunately people like myself who have social anxiety will not find any tools in here about HOW to connect with others aside from playing music in the home – which is an interesting idea, and stepping away from social media – which is also a great idea that no one will listen to.

There is further discussion of nutrition where he mentions some common foods along with obscure minerals. One excellent point he makes is to eat slower and mentions a study that demonstrated that found that people who struggle with fat loss tend to eat faster. While the science on this is probably lacking, anecdotally I can attest to the fact that the people I know who are overweight tend to be fast eaters, and the ones who are lean tend to eat slower… especially in women.

Just like in the 4-hour body, which this book has been compared to, there is a section on sex. Now I do take issue with his assessment of the current sexual culture – at least in part. He begins by stating that data suggests we are having less sex now despite the fact that it is theoretically easier to have now with things like tinder and less social stigma. He said that the reason for this is that we are just not that good at it. This makes absolutely no sense. Why? Because if it was bad across the board we would have no standard of what “good” means. The problem would rather be that since there is no sexual stigma, women now tend to have experience with more partners so as they learn what they like and what they don’t, their expectations rise.

There’s another aspect that compounds this problem, which is the fact that as our society idiotically encourages entitlement young men likely aren’t as concerned with pleasing women as they were in days gone by.

He also claims that sex Ed spends too much time focusing on STDs rather than teaching boys how to please women. Again, I think he’s somewhat off base, firstly because the tendencies of sexual education right now is leaning towards the politically correct doctrine of teaching kids that gender doesn’t matter, that gender identification doesn’t dictate sexuality and yet it is simultaneously linked to sexual education. It also seems to me a bad idea to teach curious young men how to get a woman off unless what you want is a promiscuous society.

But all that being said, the idea of becoming properly sexually educated seems to make sense from a male perspective – if you want your partner satisfied that is. The author wisely chooses not to go into depth on technique but rather talks about ways to communicate your way to a better sex life with your partner. Again, nothing novel here, in fact it feels almost like he put it in as a mandatory afterthought, but overall not bad.

The next leg of the book talks about what she suggests to do and not to in your downtime. Ironically, he say he doesn’t like reading books that take simple ideas and stretch them out unnecessarily long. He then tells you to brush your teeth.

In the final chapter he talks about sleep… and I couldn’t believe this the first time I heard it, but he actually has the cheekiness to quote himself. If it was a silly quote I would pass it off as self-deprecating humour, but instead it comes off as a bit pretentious. This chapter is what he calls the antidote to poor sleep. Sounds promising. One of the suggestions was to sleep multiple times a day – this is similar to Tim Ferris’s suggestion of having 30 minute power naps. The suggestion of breaking up your sleep cycles sounds interesting but also sounds contradictory to his previous comments on the circadian rhythm. The suggestion is to track your sleep using an oura ring – which I suspect he has stock in. He also suggests controlling the temperature while you sleep, which is another suggestion also found in the 4-hour body. He also suggests sleeping with plants in the room, specifically English Ivy. In the end there was not a lot of practical advice but the occasional interesting tidbit.

In conclusion… I wouldn’t consider this a “must read”, but I do think that the author has knowledge in his field and something to say to those who would find it helpful. I think a lot of people could find one or two helpful suggestions, but I don’t know anyone who would benefit from the book in its entirety. Personally I found 4-hour Body to be more practice and to-the-point. Still, it is entertaining if nothing else.

(Photo: me and Ben in 2013… fear not, this will be unbiased)

For my latest fitness program review I’m going to get into Ben Pakulski’s latest project, “Hypertrophy Execution Masterclass”.

Ben has done a hell of a lot to teach the principles of hypertrophy and muscle mechanics, so his new venture is right in his wheelhouse – which is teaching about the intricacies of exercise movement, specifically when the goal is muscle growth.

For promotional reasons I was given a limited-time member to the program so my review will have to be limited to that.

The “curriculum” is broken down into several modules each with sub-modules beginning with what he has titled “the 6 essentials of exercise”. Now, these are excellent basics for those who are unfamiliar with his work, but for me they were just reiterations of things I’d heard many times. Of course I can’t really blame him for wanting to make sure anyone watching is starting at the same point.

Next they get into specifics of various muscle groups using video tutorials from Ben and another big dude whose name escapes me. The idea they propose is that you focus on implementing execution principals bit by bit as you progress – which is a great idea, the only hitch is that in order to actually get to the workout you’ll need, you have to watch another video where they outline the workout, and they provide a 4 week program which is great although I think I would prefer if it were given earlier in the course so you could work on it while getting through the material.

There is a lot of material here. Again, some of it may be repetitive but if you are a content junkie you will enjoy it. In addition to discussing physical intricacies they talk about mentally pushing through barriers as well. Personally I found it to be a bit much, whereas MI40 was more concise – which appeals more to me.

That was all of the content I was able to access, so I have to limit my review and thoughts to this module.

Specifically recommending this particular program is difficult, because I’m not quite sure who it is targeting. It seems too basic for advanced lifters, but at the same time little bit too advanced for beginning lifters. And it comes with a fairly steep price, which is expected given the sheer amount of content – I’m just not sure who exactly would get the most value out of that content.

Sponsored by:

HOW TO HITLER: the last self-unimprovement book you’ll need

When I saw this new ebook listed on Kai’s page I was intrigued, certainly enough to drop the ten bucks to find out what it was. My expectation was that it was a recomp type program or possibly shredding program, so now I will break it down for you to set your expectations in check.

The book is broken into 3 parts: Secrets of the beast, the beast’s diet and footsteps of the beast.

Before getting into specifics I should mention that this was my first experience reading one of Kai’s ebooks, and I must admit that the writing style is… unique.

The section called “secrets of the beast” can basically be summed up like this: eat nutrient-rich foods with a caloric deficit to burn fat. So calling it “secrets” is kind of odd.

The second section, diet of the beast, basically goes into a little more depth of the previous section, telling you how to determine caloric needs and suggesting calorie/macro breakdowns. It’s very brief, about two pages long.

The final section is a workout routine which is high volume, broken up into two three-week blocks.

Final verdict: save your ten bucks and buy some creatine.

Sponsored by:

HOW TO HITLER: the last self-unimprovement book you’ll need

Anyone familiar with Layne Norton may have read some of his contest prep articles, as I have – and in fact I used some of his advice when preparing for more than one photo shoot.

Recently he unleashed an ebook which is extremely long and in depth, all about the process of preparing to go on stage in a physique competition, and even though I have no interest in stepping on stage it intrigued me.

First of all, I must say I highly appreciate the fact that when you go to his page (which I refuse to link) it is not one of those 10-zillion page long advertisement pages, it is simply a picture of the ebook and you can choose either the men’s or women’s version — although I’m almost certain they are the exact same book… because throughout the thing it gives advice for both men and women.

So while it was a far better buying experiences than most of the online sales experiences I have to admit that my first read through of the books ok left me annoyed.

Why? Because it is being pitched as a comprehensive 260 page book, which suggests there is a ton of information packed in there. However it could have easily been shaved down by a hundred pages or so.

The first 80-some pages were filled with very basic information about calorie balance… in other words stuff that anyone who is about to enter a show already knows.

The last section is all about poses, which is probably helpful to some people but let’s do a quick reality check… anyone who is serious about getting on stage will almost certainly need a coach, not a $40 ebook to learn this stuff. Having a coach for doing a show is also vital because you tend to be so depleted that it’s almost impossible to do everything with meal planning and creating an effective training program on your own.

Buuut – the book does an excellent job of laying out much of the detailed information a coach would normally be handling so it can be good educationally if you choose to work with a coach and if you choose not to, you’ll have a better idea of why you probably should be.

I actually see the book as more of a narrative in the life of a professional bodybuilder than an actual how-to guide.

There are millions of books that will help you get from bad to good in terms of physique improvement and I believe the goal of this book was to help people go from good to great. Does it succeed in that? Yes in a sense. Layne discusses much of the same topics that can be found in his pre-contest articles but in more depth in the latter parts of the book. He also talks about what to do after a show, which may be excellent for anyone on a restricted diet of any kind.

That being said, I would simply suggest that if you get the book you set your expectations appropriately; it is not likely to be 260 pages of NEW information, but a large dose of old information, some “nice to know” information and a little bit of advice that will very likely be valuable at some point in your life if you want to get ridiculously lean.

Sponsored by:

HOW TO HITLER: the last self-unimprovement book you’ll need

Back in 2008 bodybuilding e-books were all the rage just at a time where I was first learning about the subject.

One or two were great (like Tom Venuto’s) and many were garbage (like Vince Del Monte’s).

There was one that was getting a lot of hype called Optimum Anobolics by Jeff Anderson who also called himself “the muscle nerd”. I picked up the program and what I found was a very easy-to-read manual laying out a very promising philosophy. Here it is in a nutshell: there are 8 muscle “factors” the main one being to overtrain and then super-compensate via 3 weeks of incrementally increased volume followed but three weeks of lower volume. There is a hierarchy of exercises that vary in effectiveness starting with isolation machines being the least effective to body weight being the most effective.

My results on this program were not what I had hoped for, but it was so long ago that now it’s difficult for me to truly account for what the actual problem was.

Fast forward to fall 2016 – I was in a dispute with Greg O’Ghallagher and his entourage about exercise form – my position being that exercise form is of the utmost importance, theirs being that it is of little importance. While looking for material that would support either my claim or theirs, I stumbled upon a manual written by Leo Costa and Dr Russ Horine back in 1998.

Obviously my first takeaway was that they agreed with me on the form issue, but then the further I read on, many of the concepts seemed familiar… eerily so – it was almost as if I had read this exact same manual in someone else’s words… that’s when I remembered Jeff Anderson’s program. I pulled out Jeff’s program from my old files and sure enough – the similarities are too striking to ignore…
Both of them list the same “8 factors” for muscle growth, they both have 3-weeks of increasingly high volume followed by 3 weeks of lower volume adaptation. They both even have virtually the same hierarchy of exercise movements.

I tried to get in touch with Jeff to ask about this – but he is totally off the grid. In fact I thought perhaps he was dead or something. The only thing I could find was a personal Facebook page, which, aside from a couple publicity pictures had some not-particularly flattering picture of him.  Now I’m no one to criticize someone falling from the grace of physical fitness due to Father Time, but I’ll admit that when I saw one of his pictures(below) in which he was looking a bit chunky at an internet marketing convention I began to feel that the naive, trusting me of many years ago had been scammed.

I reached out to a couple of the sites he used to contribute to and even sent him a friendly message on Facebook, but neither he, nor the websites he once wrote for wanted to respond to my questions of the similarities of these two programs.

Graciously Jeff’s programs don’t seem to be available anymore, whereas Big Beyond Belief is on amazon – albeit for a pretty steep price tag. That being said, I can’t speak to the effectiveness of it as I only did Jeff’s variation many years ago.

Jeff, it would seem has been replaced now by the likes of O’Gallagher, yet it makes me really nervous thinking that he is still out there lurking online using who-knows-what pseudonym selling who-knows-what – very possibly following the footsteps of such world class douches as Eben Pagan.

Update: while it seems Jeff has left the world of fitness e-book writing, a colleague found his current website in which he claims to be a master of “combat” and a “survivalist”, making no mention of his previous claims of being a master fitness guru – as much as I hate to plug the guy it is actually really funny in a cringe-worthy way:

Time for another BS-free, non-sponsored review that is just as likely to piss off as many people as it pleases.

For those who have seen Mr O’Gallagher on YouTube via his company Kinobody, you certainly know this much about him: he’s young, fit, seems to be well off financially and loves keeping training and diet simple (non-time consuming). Specifically he raves about intermittent fasting (IF).

So from that outlook he’s doing a fantastic job of marketing using the ideology “I have what you want”, which is all well and good, but does he deliver for people who fork out cash on his program(s)?

First let’s consider what you get for $40-50 (he offers a $10 discount for doing a survey)

  • A pdf e-book
  • A couple extra pdf’s
  • Video demonstrations of the exercises
  • Access to a Facebook group (for more on that particular subject:

So considering the price tag it’s not a bad return. That being said you must also keep your expectations in check.

The program is based on two key concepts:

1. Intermittent fasting

2. Strength-based training; specifically Reverse Puramid Training (doing heavy sets first)

Those familiar with Martin Berkhan’s LeanGains blog know that this is precisely what he has been preaching for ages. Of course finding his information is a little tricky as it is spaced out of several blogs, so the fact that Greg altered it slightly then put it all into one place is actually quite convenient.

There are two questions I feel we should ask then:

Question 1: does this method work?

Question 2: is this method “optimal”?

To be honest I think I have to side with Tom Venuto on this one, who said that this is definitely not THE way to get into great shape yet it is certainly A way. Does it work? Absolutely! Is there any lean mass loss? Hard to say, but personally I believe that if your training is really intense it shouldn’t be an issue.

So we’ll leave the program review as being worth the cost. It’s a solid method, and it brings many concepts into one place.

One caviat here: he discussed a bit of “spiritual” content here, basically quoting Eckhart Tolle. While I am all for spiritual and mental open-mindedness and learning, this aspect of the book did not appeal to me, not because it may not hold merit, but because it seemed irrelevant and almost forced.

Onto the next component: the bonus pdf’s. There was a “missing chapter” which was just more of the spiritual stuff I mentioned before, and there was an updated workout, which could potentially be a useful followup program to what’s in the main book.

The videos of him doing the routines are pretty much what they sound like, but unfortunately they are a little flawed. While Greg shows you the movements he does not talk about such useful information as form (one of the reasons MI40 excelled). But I’m not sure how appropriate that would’ve been anyway because the videos give the impression that correct form is not a big concern of his anyway.

The Facebook group is simply a private community for discussion. If it is personal advice from Greg you want you are unlikely to find it here, however you may get assistance from others who follow his programs.

To be honest this program is not that difficult to reverse engineer from YouTube videos etc, and the “bonus” material is probably not substantial enough to make it worth the cost. However, if you’re a complete noob to the concept of IF and want a fairly good rundown of it from someone who has utilized it firsthand this may be for you. Just know that what you’re getting is a suggestion from a young man, not a scientific document or profound/innovative work.

Hope this helped with your decision making and make sure to check out this video for more:

Sponsored by:

HOW TO HITLER: the last self-unimprovement book you’ll need


Okay in fairness, much of this is not from Greg himself but rather his minions, but since they view him as a god I give myself licence here. I used to be a member on the “Project Beach Body” facebook group (if I recall the name right), and it was usually good for a laugh, but eventually it became less entertaining and more frustrating, so I had to separate myself from the rampant stupidity that people want to believe.

Regardless, here are some of the gems they taught me…

1. Greg is God!

2. Intermittent Fasting is the only effective way to burn fat.

3. Exercise form is unimportant (unless you’re taking steroids).

4. It doesn’t matter what you eat as long as your calories meet your goals, the Twinkie is evidence of this.

5. Getting high before lifting heavy weights is not just safe and intelligent, it’s downright awesome!

6. The whole point of making progress is so that you can post selfies and lifting videos to show how awesome you are.

7. Diet soda is good for you.

8. The more education someone has the less they know (after all, grand master Greg has no qualifications and no education yet knows everything).

9. Sugar has no impact on insulin.

10. The only way to build muscle is by lifting heavy with poor form.

11. Adrenal fatigue is a myth. The more stimulants you can take the better!

Okay I gave you eleven instead of ten. Don’t you feel enriched!

And here’s the video version: