Tuesday, January 22, 2019

This map from the UN FAO shows the land most suited and unsuited for cereal grain production. 
Source:  Council For Agricultural Science and Technology

Gray areas are unsuitable for cereal grain production.  According to the FAO, 70% of world agricultural land is grassland not suitable for production of cereals. 

The only way to get human food from those lands is to graze ruminants that turn grass and other forages inedible by humans into ruminant meat and milk. 

The wanna-be dictators on the EAT-Lancet commission want force humanity to discard that and live only off the lands that can produce cereals, or attempt to convert the grasslands to crop lands , which would destroy those ecosystems, eliminate the food source of wild and domestic ungulates, ruin the habitat for wildlife, increase soil erosion and nutrients run off, and DECREASE soil carbon storage. 

Is the EAT commission really concerned about sustainability or are they just creating a perception that we need to replace ruminant animal products with plant based processed foods, for the benefits of their sponsors, which as reported in this document include about 200 corporations, including Barilla (pasta), Unilever (meat alternatives and vegetable oils), Kellogg's (cereals), Bayer (drugs), Google (information control) and Pepsico (sugary beverages)

 They even clearly state that their mission is to "make our member companies more successful and sustainable by focusing on the maximum positive impact for shareholders...."   and that the combined revenues of their members exceed $8.5 TRILLION USD!

This has little or nothing to do with "sustainability" unless you mean only sustainability of a corporation via increasing annual profits.  This is pure and simple a business plan. 

 🤔#yes2meat#yes2ruminants #no2dictocrats #nomeattax

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sustainable Food Trust Rebuts EAT-Lancet Recommendations

The Sustainable Food Trust responded to the EAT-Lancet recommendations with a rebuttal, pointing out that it would be impossible to have a sustainable food system in many countries including the U.K. Without basing agriculture on ruminant livestock because in many countries a high proportion of land is suitable only for growing grass. They also objected to the recommendations to increase poultry at the expense of ruminant meat and milk, pointing out that birds can't live on grass whereas ruminants convert grass and other forage that is indigestible for humans into highly digestible and nutritious meat and milk. 

They went on to point out that the plant oils recommended by the EAT commission are associated with "devastating environmental destruction " and are major causes of pollinator (bee) decline "due to the high need of these crops for insecticides." And they take the EAT dictocrats to task for ignoring the large number of studies that have challenged the belief that saturated fats are harmful and say that the EAT commission "may be driven more by ideology than a balanced assessment of the evidence." Ya think? 🤔

 #yes2meat #yes2ruminants #ruminati #no2dictocrats

Monday, January 14, 2019

Cattle prefer corn to grass

This video challenges the claim that feeding corn to cattle is unnatural.  It demonstrates that cattle do not need to be forced to eat corn.  They are surrounded by grass, yet given the opportunity they literally run to the pile of corn instead.  Obviously they enjoy eating corn.

Why not?  Corn is a grass, after all.  Corn fed cattle are grass-fed cattle. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Ketone bodies mimic putative life-extending properties of caloric restriction

Many studies indicate that caloric restriction of 30-50% may extend lifespan in many species including yeast, nematodes, fruit flies, mice and primates.  There exists no generally accepted mechanistic explanation for this effect.  Proposed mechanisms have included growth retardation, decreased body fat levels, reduced inflammation, reduced oxidative damage, reduced body temperature, reduced insulin signaling, and increased autophagy and physical activity.

In their 2017 paper "Ketone bodies mimic the life span extending properties of caloric restriction"
Veech et al propose that ketosis is at least in part responsible for the life-extending effects of caloric restriction.  Caloric restriction produces increased ketone body concentrations in widely different species ranging from C. elegans, to Drosophila to man.
Moreover, a recent study showed that adding an exogenous ketone salt – Sodium DL-3-hydroxybutyric acid (βHB) – to the diet of C. elegans produced an extension of life span, with the result that the authors labeled this "an anti-aging ketone body."

Edwards et al showed that βHB administration did not extend lifespan in C. elegans under dietary restriction, whereas it did extend lifespan without dietary restriction, which indicates that "βHB likely acts as a dietary restriction mimetic." In other words, taking exogenous ketone salts produces the anti-aging effects of caloric restriction without caloric or even carbohydrate restriction.

This research suggests that probably a ketogenic diet (that is, consuming less than 50 g net carbohydrate daily) acts as a dietary restriction mimetic and will extend lifespan in humans, and it is likely that use of exogenous  βHB salts also will have anti-aging and therapeutic effects for aging associated disorders in humans even if they do not consume ketogenic diets.

From Edwards et al.

Tracy and I have started taking therapeutic ketone supplements from Prüvit.  Tracy has experienced marked improvements in memory and cognition, despite already being on a ketogenic diet.  If you are interested in trying them, contact us through info@fullrangestrength.com.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Embracing the Cold with the Wim Hof Method

I've been practicing the Wim Hof Method of breathing and cold exposure for a couple of years now.  We don't get temperatures as cold as Poland where one of the Wim Hof training centers is located, but I use what I have.  The pool today felt colder than the air temperature which was 47º F, but I don't have a good thermometer for measuring low temperature water, so I am uncertain of its exact temperature. 

This was the longest very cold water exposure I have had so far.  I can't really describe how it feels to gradually gain control of some allegedly autonomic functions.   The best word I have at the moment is EXHILERATING.  As you will see in the video, after a session like this, I feel awesome and deeply grateful for Nature and my life. 

At this moment, I am able to control my response to the cold for about 10-15 minutes.  This seems to be getting longer the more I practice.  It has not happened overnight.  The period of time I can remain free of shivering has gradually increased over the period of time I have practiced.  

Following Wim's advice, I don't push myself when I feel unprepared.  Most days I take a long cold shower (as cold as I can get), but when I feel averse to it, I take a contrast shower or even a strictly hot shower.  Sometimes I feel a need to do that for several days, then I return to the cold showers.

I've also recently started incorporating cold air exposure.  I do the Wim Hof breathing method outside, and have been doing it with less clothing insulation when I feel the ability.

One note:  In this video you will see me doing some deep breathing while in the water.  This is not recommended.  I have never felt faint when doing the breathing but some people do get faint and you don't want to faint in the water as you could drown. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Does Doug Brignole Know Dip Physics?

In my last post I critically analyzed Doug Brignole's claims about squat physics.  I showed that although he bills himself as a biomechanics expert, in that article he made several basic mistakes in his analysis of squat physics that indicate that he did not have a good grasp of basic physics concepts when he wrote that article.

Brignole has also written a couple of articles on the biomechanics of dips, in which he claims that dips are not an effective exercise for either the pectorals or the triceps.  In this post I will show that he makes the same mistakes in these articles as he did in the squat article.  Moreover, I will argue that dips are a reasonably good pectoral exercise.  Further, after showing that Brignole's critique of dips as a triceps exercise is flawed,  I will explain the actual biomechanical reason that no multi-joint pressing movement is a very good triceps exercise.

Brignole's Flawed Analysis of Dips

In an article entitled "Evaluating Parallel Bar Dips as a Pectoral Exercise" Brignole wrote:

“The only way to stretch the pectoral fibers, is to cause the insertion of the pectoral muscle to move away from the origin of the fibers (located on the sternum).  This requires that we move the arm laterally - straight out to the side of the torso - away from the sternum. Conversely, the contraction of the pectoral muscles would require the insertion of the pectoral muscles (on the upper arm bone) to move maximally toward the origin of the fibers (located on the sternum).

“This is precisely what occurs when performing a Flat (prone) Dumbbell Press.  The upper arm swings out, away from the sternum - and then back toward the sternum.  Ideally - the goal is maximum range of motion.  So the wider the distance between the origin and the insertion (in the stretch position) - the better.  Likewise, the closer the distance between the origin and the insertion (in the contraction) - the better.  The Flat Dumbbell Press is - therefore - a good chest exercise for pectoral development.”
Brignole is correct that the pectoral insertion must move away from the sternum to stretch the pectoral muscle.  However, it is false that “This requires that we move the arm laterally - straight out to the side of the torso.”  Moving the arm into extension behind the body, as in dips, also moves the pectoral insertion away from the origin on the sternum, and also stretches the pectoral muscle.

Brignole continues:
“Ideally - the goal is maximum range of motion.  So the wider the distance between the origin and the insertion (in the stretch position) - the better." [bold added] 
“But that is not what happens during a Parallel Bar Dip.  Instead of having the upper arm bone move laterally - to the side of the torso - it moves more in a backward direction.  This is due to the fact that the bars are stationary.  They don’t move laterally - the way dumbbells move with us, out to the sides.  This forces are elbows to go back (posteriorly), instead of out (laterally).  So, even though we might be in the lowest (stretch) position, our pectoral insertion has not moved as much laterally (to the side) as it would have on a Dumbbell Press, a Butterfly Machine, a Cable Crossover, or even a Bench Press.  All of those exercises cause the upper arm bone to move outward - laterally (to the sides) - away from the sternum and the origin of the pectoral fibers.”
The pectoral insertion is fixed on the humerus.  Unless you detach the humerus from the joint, you can’t increase the maximum distance of the insertion from the origin, you can only change the orientation of the displacement, either to the side (abducted and externally rotated) or to the rear (adducted and internally rotated) of the body.

There is no law of physiology that requires that the arm move laterally in order to stretch or activate the pectorals.  Any action which moves the insertion of the pectoral away from the origins will stretch it.  When dipping, your arms move behind the torso.  Consequently, the insertion of the pectorals moves away from the origins, stretching the pectorals.  As the pectorals contract, the humerus is drawn from behind the body toward the sternum.

In fact, if you move your arms into the extended position achieved in dipping, then rotate the arm in the shoulder to assume the position of the bottom of the dumbbell bench press, you will find that the pectoral insertion on the humerus is for practical purposes in the same distance from the origin on the sternum. 

The main difference is that in the bench press position advocated by Brignole the arm is abducted and externally rotated.  There is very little difference in the length (stretch) of the pectorals.   In the following video I demonstrate that for practical purposes the length of the pectorals or distance of the pectoral insertion on the humerus from the sternum does not change as the arms move from the bench press bottom position to the dips bottom position.  

If anything, the dips involve a very slightly greater stretch.  This is due to the fact that the shoulder's posterior extension range of motion is greater than the transverse extension range.  When you bench press with the range of motion I demonstrate in the video above, you will notice a very distinct limit in the shoulder at the bottom; you may even experience discomfort as I do.  The elbow will not go further behind the torso until you adduct the arm (bring it closer to the body).  This is due to the intrinsic limit of the shoulder joint.  Hence, performing dumbbell bench presses in this fashion may not be the safest way to treat the shoulder.

Finally, the arm action involved in dipping is fundamental to using the arms to climb over obstacles or climb up trees or out of ditches, when you must push yourself upward with your arms on surfaces that do not move.  Since these are actions that would be required when navigating our ancestral habitat, I argue that the body evolved to do the basic dipping motion.  In contrast, during evolution, our ancestors probably never put heavy objects in their hands, and, lying on their backs, moved their arms as one does in a dumbbell bench press.  Certainly such action was not required for survival!  Hence, it is unlikely that the shoulder joint is optimally adapted to such an exercise.  I believe this is revealed in the fact that bench presses are a common cause of shoulder pathologies to the extent that one such pathology is called “bench presser’s shoulder.

Brignole goes on to claim that dips do not produce a strong contraction in the pectorals either:
“In the contraction phase of the Parallel Bar Dip, it's also less-than-ideal.  The best contraction of the pectoral muscle, occurs when we maximally shorten (flex) it.  This is achieved when we bring the upper arms forward, in front of our body, and toward the center.  This causes the muscle insertions (high on the upper arms) to move maximally toward the muscle origin (on the sternum).”
Although it may appear that the dumbbell bench press (or push ups on rings) will produce a greater contraction of the pectorals than parallel bar dips, this may not be the case.  First, the resistance curve of a dumbbell bench press is such that when the weights are crossing in front of the chest toward the sternum, the resistance to pectoral contraction is at its minimum.  The direction of the resistance (perpendicular to the ground) is 90 degrees out of phase with the direction of pectoral fiber contraction (pulling the arms together on the horizontal plane).  To load the pectorals, the load would have to be pulling the arms apart, but in a dumbbell bench press the load is balanced on the ends of the arms, putting little effective load on the pectorals.  Thus, the multi-joint exercise Brignole is advocating as “better than” dips fails to satisfy the very criterion he is using to criticize dips!

Moreover, the dumbbell bench press does not train the pectoral function of shoulder depression at all.  Shoulder depression produces a strong pectoral contraction.  In fact, if you simultaneously depress and internally rotate your shoulder – the position achieved at the top of parallel bar dips – you can produce an intense pectoral contraction similar to an arm cross motion against resistance, even though the pectorals have not maximally shortened.  In fact at the top of dips the pectorals are strongly recruited to keep the arms adducted and shoulder girdle depressed under the load (body).

The photo below clearly shows that the pectorals are strongly contracted when at the top of a dip, and well stretched when in the bottom position. 
Image source: Natural Aesthetic Bodybuilding
Every exercise has limitations.  Brignole himself advocates at least two exercises for the pectorals:  dumbbell bench presses and cable arm cross overs.  In my view, these two have similar ranges of motion.  Due to the mobility of the shoulder joint and multi-functionality of the pectorals, there is no one exercise that can effectively train all of those functions.  As I noted, the bench press does not train the pectoral function of shoulder depression as well as the bar dip (if at all).  I argue that if you perform bar dips and an arm cross over exercise (ring push ups or arm cross) you are training more pectoral functions than if you follow Brignole’s prescription. 

Brignole recommends the following exercise as a replacement for dips:

About this exercise, he writes:
"This cable movement runs parallel to the pectoral fibers (...as it should), provides better pectoral stretch than Dips, and provides better pectoral contraction the [sic] dips.  Plus, you can dial in the exact weight that feels right.  You're not obligate [sic] to use your entire bodyweight."
One major problem with this exercise is that it has limited loading potential.  The pectorals are a large and potentially very strong muscle.  Obviously many, many people can do dips with their entire body weight, and a good number can use well more than body weight.  Ironically, if you use this exercise that Brignole recommends instead, once you get strong enough to use a load equal to your body weight, you will not be able to do this movement,  When the external resistance and your body weight are the same, when you push on the handles you will lift your body off the floor and  it will turn into a dipping exercise!

Brignole continues:
“Interestingly, you’ll notice that - during a parallel bar dip - the upper arm bones travel along a pathway that is more parallel to the muscle fibers of the anterior deltoids.  And - sure enough - Dips hit the anterior deltoids MORE than they hit the pectorals, precisely for that reason.”
This is just plain wrong.  When dipping (concentric action), the main shoulder action is a combination of depression, flexion, transverse flexion, and internal rotation.

Shoulder flexion is a primary function of the clavicular head of the pectorals (upper pectorals) and the pathway of the humerus is aligned parallel to the upper pectoral fibers which are practically parallel to those of the anterior deltoids. 

Shoulder depression, transverse flexion, and internal rotation are all performed by the pectorals, not the anterior deltoid.

Moreover, the main functions of the anterior deltoid are shoulder abduction and flexion: raising the arm away from the side or above the shoulder from the front.  This is because the fibers of the anterior deltoid pull the humerus upward toward the clavicle where the deltoid originates.   Neither of these actions is involved in dips.

In dips, the load is pulling the shoulder end of the humerus downward.  To prevent this load from pulling the torso away from the humerus (i.e. separating the shoulder), something must counter this pull. 

The entire pectoralis major is primarily responsible for pulling the humerus forward and clavicle downward.  You can confirm this for yourself.  Put your left hand on your right pectoral.  Now, keeping your body upright, move your hand toward the floor, as if you were doing a one arm dip.  You will feel your pectoral contract strongly.  Now internally rotate your humerus (turn upper arm so that your elbow goes outward).  This is the upper position of dips and it produces a very strong pectoral contraction. 
Dipping Image Source: Brignole's Article; Force vectors and legend added.
Now do the same with your left hand on your right anterior deltoid.  You will find that the anterior deltoid does not contract.  Now raise your right arm above your head (arm vertical flexion).  You will find that your anterior deltoid strongly contracts. 

The anterior deltoid action of shoulder flexion is antagonistic to the requirements for performing a dip.  Due to the need for shoulder depression, the anterior deltoid is relatively quiet during dips.

The prime movers in dips are the pectorals and the anterior deltoid is only a weak synergist because dips do not involve the main actions of the anterior deltoid which are arm abduction and flexion.

Brignole's Flawed Analysis of Tricep Action in Dips

In his article entitled “‘Bench Dips’ for Triceps: Good or Bad ?”  Brignole also claims that dips, particularly bench dips, fail to provide any challenging load to the triceps. 

Here is his reasoning:
“In analyzing any exercise, one of the most important questions to ask ourselves is this: does the lever, which is operated by your target muscle, cross resistance?
“In this case, your target muscle is the triceps.  The triceps operates the forearm lever - meaning that it moves the forearm lever, by extending the elbow (note: the forearm lever is also operated by the biceps, but in the opposite direction).”
In this passage Brignole makes the same basic mistake he made in his article “Do You Know Squat.”  In discussing squat mechanics, he incorrectly alleged that the quadriceps can only move the lower leg, but in my critique of that article I proved that if the lower leg is held fixed, the quadriceps will move the upper leg.

Here he alleges that the triceps can only move the forearm.  If you fix the upper arm (don’t allow it to move) and contract the triceps, then, yes, the triceps will move the forearm to extend the elbow and bring it into alignment with the upper arm (humerus).  In this case the triceps’ insertion moves towards its origin (on the humerus and scapula).  This occurs in open-chain exercises such as the push-down or overhead elbow extension.

However, if the upper arm is held fixed, contraction of the triceps will move the upper arm to extend the elbow and bring the humerus in alignment with the forearm.  In this case the triceps’ origin moves toward the insertion.  This happens in closed-chain exercises such as push ups, bench presses, and dips.

Brignole continues:
“So here’s the initial question phrased a bit more specifically: does resistance (gravity, in this particular case, since there is no pulley or machine being used) cross the forearm lever?"
Here he confuses resistance with gravitational force and (perhaps accidentally) implies that gravity is not involved when using a pulley or machine.  In resistance exercise, gravity is always involved in the provision of the resistance unless the resistance is provided by hydraulics or some elastic medium like a spring or elastic band.  If body weight or external weights are involved, as in most pulleys and machines used in exercise, then gravity is involved in providing resistance.

However, gravity is not the resistance.  Gravity is a force that acts on matter to produce what we call mass or weight.  In the absence of gravitational force, no mass or weight is possible.  However, gravity itself is not mass or weight.  When you lift iron discs, are you lifting gravity or units of gravity?  No, you are lifting weights or masses which provide resistance only if in a gravitational field and not buoyed by a denser medium.

In addition, Brignole completely ignores the actual source of resistance in dips, which is the mass of the dipper’s body (plus any attached loading, whether weights, bands, etc.).  As shown in the figure below, the triceps are acting against the action of the load suspended at the proximal end of the humerus i.e. the body.  That load is acting to bend the elbow, which is the fulcrum of a third class lever, and the triceps act to straighten the elbow against this load.  Hence the triceps – actually, the two shorter heads of the triceps, see below – are in fact subjected to a load.

Dipping Image Source: Brignole's Article; Force vectors and legend added.

Brignole continues:
“Does the forearm lever interact perpendicularly, with gravity, during Bench Dips?  Answer: essentially - no.  Throughout the movement - whether you are in the ‘up’ position, or in the ‘down’ position - the forearm is almost entirely parallel to gravity.  A lever that is perfectly parallel to resistance is neutral, which means that the muscle that operates that lever is mostly unchallenged. [bold added]
“When you observe someone performing Bench Dips, you’ll notice that the upper arm lever does cross resistance.  A lever that crosses resistance is active, which means that the muscle that operates that lever is being fully loaded by the resistance.  During Bench Dips, it is the frontal deltoid that is doing most of the work, because it is the muscle mostly responsible for operating the upper arm lever in the pathway of this particular movement.”
He is correct that the forearm is parallel to gravity, and a neutral lever, when doing dips (and push ups and bench presses).  He is also correct that the active lever in dips (and push ups and bench presses) is the upper arm (humerus).

However, he is wrong that the triceps are not involved in moving the upper arm in dips, and he is also wrong that the frontal deltoid is doing most of the work.

As I stated and illustrated above, when the forearm is fixed, contraction of the triceps will move the humerus and any load attached to it.   Since the humerus (upper arm) is an active lever in dips, the triceps are in fact substantially loaded during dips.  The triceps is the only muscle that can straighten the elbow against the resistance that is bending the elbow and drawing the proximal end of the humerus (at the shoulder) toward the ground.

Hence, Brignole is confused.  By stating or suggesting that the triceps are “mostly unchallenged” because the forearm is parallel to gravity, Brignole has revealed that he most certainly does not understand the mechanics of this exercise, despite his claim to being a biomechanics expert.

Moreover, the more upright the torso is during the dipping motion, the longer the tricep moment arm and hence the more load on the triceps.  This is exactly what is accomplished in the bench dips Brignole is criticizing.

The figure below compares a parallel bar dip with torso leaning forward (sometimes called “chest dips”) and the bench dip with torso placed in front of the shoulders.  A forward lean places the line of resistance (R) between the shoulder and the elbow.  This results in the shoulder moment arm being longer than the elbow moment arm.  Consequently, the bar dip with the torso leaning forward directs the resistance toward the muscles involved in shoulder transverse flexion and depression, namely the pectorals.  On the other hand, the bench dip with the torso placed vertically below the shoulder minimizes the shoulder moment arm while maximizing the elbow moment arm, resulting in a greater load on the triceps.

The Real Reason Dips Aren’t Ideal For Training Triceps

All that said, dips, push ups and bench presses are not specific exercises for the triceps for a different reason. 

The long head of the tricep crosses both the elbow and shoulder joint.  During the concentric action of these exercises, the long head of the tricep simultaneously contracts at the elbow joint and stretches at the shoulder joint; this limits the contraction.  During the eccentric action of these exercises, the tricep must simultaneously stretch at the elbow joint and contract at the shoulder joint; this limits the stretch.  Consequently the long head of the triceps can neither stretch fully nor contract forcefully during these exercises.  This type of limitation is called active insufficiency.

The long head of the triceps has best length-tension when the shoulder is flexed and elbow is extended, as in overhead triceps extensions.  In short, dips, push ups and bench presses are not the best exercises for triceps development because they produce an unfavorable length-tension of the muscle, known as active insufficiency.

The other two heads of the triceps do contribute to elbow extension during dips and presses, especially when the torso is held more upright or in front of the shoulders as in bench dips. However, they are the smallest heads of the triceps.  Bench or upright torso dips are a poor choice for training the triceps because they address only the two smallest heads of the triceps.  You will then need to do another exercise for the long head.  This is not time efficient, and in addition since any exercise that properly trains the long head will also train the other heads, you may easily overtrain the two shorter heads of the triceps since they are typically a fatigue-sensitive muscle having a high ratio of type 2 ("fast twitch") fibers, and these heads are already doing some work in dips, push ups, overhead presses or handstand push ups, etc..

For efficient training and avoiding excessive training for the triceps one should choose a tricep isolation exercise that trains all three heads intensely at once.  The best is some variation of overhead extensions because the long head of the triceps is most efficient when the shoulder is flexed. 


Doug Brignole does have a good grasp of the mechanics of the dipping exercise as they apply to either the pectorals or the triceps.  He appears to have little or no grasp of the concept and importance of moment arm.  He asserts that dips are a poor exercise for the pectorals, claiming that the pectorals are neither fully stretched nor adequately contracted in performance of dips.  I have shown that these claims do not stand up to critical evaluation.

Although he correctly understands that dips are not an optimal exercise for triceps, his explanation, based on analysis of the leverage, is incorrect.  He appears to believe that the triceps can only move the forearm, when in fact, if the forearm is fixed, the two shorter heads of the triceps will act to move the upper arm.  He makes no mention of how the biarticulate long head of the triceps is put into active insufficiency in dipping motions.  

If Brignole makes these same flawed arguments in his forthcoming book The Physics of Fitness, I am surprised that he has obtained endorsements from people who should have a better grasp of biomechanics than he has displayed in his articles on the squat and dips. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Does Doug Brignole Know Squat Physics?

Doug Brignole describes himself as a bodybuilding champion, author, personal trainer, speaker, and “expert on muscular development and biomechanics.” 

He has written a number of articles on biomechanics and apparently plans to release a book entitled The Physics of Fitness.  Apparently this book has received very positive advance reviews from such luminaries as Wayne Wescott, professor of exercise science and advocate of high intensity training, Jeffrey Mackey, professor of physics, sports psychologist Fred Hatfield, and neurobiologist Stephan Guyenet, among apparently well qualified reviewers.

I have found some value in some of Brignole's articles.  However, in an article entitled “Do You Know Squat” Brignole makes some claims about the physics (mechanics) of squatting that reveal that he probably does not understand some important aspects of the basic physics of squatting.

I will need to extensively quote this article in order to explain where he goes awry.

Brignol's Discourse on Levers

In order to explain Brignole's mistakes, I will need to refer to the background information he provides on levers.  After correctly discussing how the body is a system of levers, Brignole writes:

“A lever that is parallel with the direction of resistance is 'neutral.'  It provides zero load to its operating muscle. A lever that is perpendicular with the direction of resistance is maximally active. It provides 100% of the available resistance to its operating muscle. A lever that is in positions between parallel and perpendicular are percentages between zero and 100. 

“Let’s do a simple experiment, to illustrate this point. Put your arm on a table top, so that your upper arm is lying flat on the table (from elbow to arm pit). Then, bend your elbow so that your forearm is pointing straight up (vertical). Now put a weight in that hand.”
He provides this photo which correctly illustrates his point:

Brignole continues:
“What you’ll notice is that regardless of the weight you have in your hand, it does not require any force from your biceps, to maintain your forearm in a perfectly vertical position. This position is parallel with gravity - so it's neutral. This is the reason why light posts are vertical, as well as most support beams under bridges and in buildings.

“Now, allow your forearm to come almost all the way down, so that the dumbbell in your hand is a fraction of an inch away from touching the table. You’ll notice that this position requires considerable force, on the part of your biceps, to hold that position. This position is the 'maximally active' position. It is where the lever (your forearm, in this case) and the direction of resistance (gravity) are mostly perpendicular.”
 He used this photo to correctly illustrate this point:

Brignole continues:
“Every position in between, where your forearm is vertical and horizontal (neutral and maximally active), is percentages thereof. For example, a 45 degree angle is half way between vertical and horizontal - so it would result in 50% of the available resistance being loaded onto the biceps. This is the universal law of levers.”
So far, Brignole is correct.  From here he goes on to discuss the mechanics of squatting, where he starts making errors.

Brignole's Description of Squatting

Brignole starts discussing the mechanics of squatting thus:
“If we were to watch someone who is performing a squat, from a side view, it would be easy to see the angle of the lower leg lever, the angle of the upper leg lever AND the angle of the torso. Keep in mind, we’ve already established that a vertical lever is neutral, a perpendicular lever is maximally active, and levers between vertical and horizontal, are percentages between zero and 100%.”
Brignole uses this photo to illustrate:

Brignole continues:
“In the photo above, we see a man in the descended position of a Squat. The red line indicates 'vertical', and is where the man’s lower legs, upper legs and torso would be, in the upright position. When in the upright position, the lower legs, upper legs, and torso are all in the neutral position - parallel with gravity.

“Now that he’s in the descended position, we can see the angle to which each of these three levers (lower leg, upper leg and torso) have moved, from the neutral position.

“The lower leg is at about a 60 degree angle, the upper leg is just below the horizontal position, and the torso is at about a 58 degree angle."
Its important here to note that Brignole is describing the angles of the lower leg, upper leg, and torso relative to the ground.  This plays a role in his error. 
“It’s important to note that since none of these levers are perpendicular (in the descended position), none of them are neutral. They are all 'active' now (in this descended position), to varying degrees.

“The most 'active' is the upper leg (lever) - since it’s horizontal (perpendicular with the direction of resistance). It is being operated primarily by the Glutes.

“The lower leg (lever) is operated by the Quads, and it’s a little less than half-way between the neutral position and the fully active position. Therefore, this lever (the lower leg) is loading the Quads with a little less than half of the available resistance.”
I bolded the last sentence because this is where he reveals a misunderstanding of the physics of squatting.  He claims the lower leg is loading the quadriceps with less than half of the available resistance.

Since he implies that the lower leg is loading the quadriceps, but with less than half of the available resistance,  I say he is "not even wrong" because in fact the lower leg is not providing any load to the quadriceps at all.  Let me repeat: the lower leg is transmitting no resistance whatsoever to the quadriceps, and this does not mean that the quadriceps are not subjected to a load.

First, just look at the photo.  There is no load attached to or force being applied to the lower leg anywhere.  Even if there was a load attached there, it would make no difference to the quadriceps.   When people add resistance to squats, they attach it to the shoulders or hips, not to the shins or ankles, because attaching a load at the shins or ankles will not make squatting more difficult.  The quadriceps are not resisting a load transmitted through the shin!

In writing "The lower leg (lever) is operated by the Quads..." Brignole gives the impression that he believes that the quadriceps can only operate (move) the lower leg lever. 

In fact, since the quadriceps attach to both the lower leg and the upper leg, they can operate either the lower leg or the upper leg (femur), depending on which lever (bone) is anchored and which is free to move.

In a seated leg extension (a so-called open chain movement), the femur is anchored and the lower leg is free to move.  When the quadriceps contracts, it pulls on the lower leg to open the knee joint into full extension where the tibia aligns with the relatively stationary femur. 

In contrast, in the case of squats (a so-called closed chain movement), the feet are anchored to the ground by gravitational and friction forces, limiting the lower leg to about 30º of motion, while the upper leg is free to traverse more than 100º of motion.  As a consequence, when the quadriceps contract, they will primarily move the loaded and most active lever, i.e. the upper leg (femur).  If this is not obvious to you at this point, I will prove it shortly when I discuss vertical shin squats below.

In squatting, the load to the quadriceps is provided by the torso of the squatter.  This load is delivered to the proximal end of the femur, and, due to the forward lean, is distributed over the mid-point of the upper leg.  The knee is the fulcrum (F) and the quadriceps are providing part of the effort (E) operating the femur.  This is an example of a third class lever (on the far right below):

From Johnston BD, Prescribed Exercise.

Brignole continues:
“Yes - the knees are over the toes, due to the 60 degree angle of the lower leg. But if the knees were NOT over the toes, then the lower leg would be vertical - which is the neutral position. In other words, without the knees going over the toes, the Quads would get little if any resistance!
Again, I bolded the last sentence because it is false.  In the video below, I perform vertical shin squats.  At no point do my knees go over the toes; instead they remain stationary above the ankles.  According to Brignole, since my shin is vertical and parallel to the direction of resistance, and therefore a neutral lever, my quadriceps should “get little if any resistance.”

However, if you try vertical shin squats, you will find that the quadriceps in fact bear the brunt of the resistance, that the resistance to the quadriceps contraction is far greater than with a conventional squat, and that the quadriceps (not the gluteus) will be the limiting factor in this exercise. 

Let me explain where Brignole went awry.  In the photos above, where he shows that the biceps bear no resistance when the forearm is resting perpendicular to gravitational force, the load (dumbbell) is resting on the end of the lever and its force is being borne by the lever (the forearm bone).  Hence, the biceps do not need to exert any force.

Brignole apparently erroneously interprets this as evidence that if any bone is perpendicular to the ground, no muscle attached to that bone can be under load.

In contrast to Brignole's forearm/bicep example, in squatting, the load is not balanced on top of the knee (to be supported by the shin), but is applied to the end of the femur opposite to the knee.

In squatting with fixed vertical shins, the upper body (plus any additional load) is the load which through the active lever (femur) is converted into resistance (R).  The shin is indeed parallel to the line of resistance, but the load is not balanced on top of the shin bone.  The load of the upper body is driving the proximal end of the femur toward the ground.  The knee is the fulcrum (F) for the lever (femur).  The effort (E) opposing the resistance is provided primarily by the quadriceps pulling on the femur to oppose the closing of the knee (eccentric) or to open the knee and bring the femur into alignment with the tibia (concentric).

In comparison to the regular squat, the vertical shin squat places MORE, not less, load on the quadriceps because it lengthens the lever arm (distance from fulcrum to resistance).  To understand why, you need to understand moment arm.

The moment arm is the distance between a fulcrum and the line of resistance.  The figure below contrasts the knee moment arms (Mk) and trunk (should be hip) moment arms (Mt) of back and front squats.  Typically a back squat has a longer hip moment arm and a shorter knee moment arm than a front squat, which means that in a back squat the hip extensors (glutes) do more work and in a front squat the knee extensors (quadriceps) do more work.

Source:  Diggin et al.

Here are a couple more illustrations that may make this more clear:
Images from PTDirect

With a normal squat, the body (and barbell) leans forward, which both a) lengthens the hip moment arm, which increases the load on the gluteus, and b) shortens the knee moment arm by distributing the load closer to the knee fulcrum.  With a vertical shin squat the load is kept further from the knee fulcrum, lengthening the knee moment arm and greatly reducing the hip moment arm to near zero; this results in much less resistance applied to the gluteus and much more resistance applied to the quadriceps.  The increased length of the lever arm (knee to hip, about 16-20") magnifies the load provided by the upper body (and any additional load).

This is why I can do 10 deep and paused barbell squats with an additional load (barbell) of more than 150 pounds, but can handle only my body weight for 10 repetitions of the vertical shin squat.


To reiterate, Brignole appears to believe that anytime a limb is vertical (parallel to the force of gravity), the muscle(s) that can move that limb must be more or less inactive and any load applied to the system must be borne through that vertical limb bone.  Specifically, he appears to believe that his bicep/forearm example proves that if one squats with shins vertical, the quadriceps will "get little if any resistance."  This is incorrect, and reveals that he does not understand the mechanics of squatting.

He also appears to allege that in squats, the shins are delivering some resistance to the quadriceps.  This is incorrect.  He appears not to understand that the load on the quadriceps is being transmitted via the femur, not the shin, through a third class lever action. 

He also seems to not understand that every muscle that crosses a joint can act to move either lever to which it attaches, depending on which lever is anchored.  He appears to believe that the quadriceps can only move the lower leg.  In fact, the quadriceps can move either the lower or upper leg, depending on whether the lower or upper leg is more fixed. 
  • If the upper leg is free to move but the lower leg is fixed (vertical shin squat), the quads move the femur to extend the knee.
  • If the lower leg is free to move but the upper leg is fixed (leg extension), the quads pull on the tibia to extend the knee.
In regular squats, both lower and upper legs are free to move but to different extents.  Since the lower leg is most fixed (because the feet are anchored to the ground), the quadriceps action primarily pulls the upper leg into alignment with the lower.  (The glutes pull on the femurs to bring them into alignment with the torso.)

If Brignole's forthcoming book The Physics of Fitness incorporates the same arguments he makes in this article "Do You Know Squat" then I am surprised that people who should understand physics have given it glowing reviews.

In a future post I will examine claims Brignole makes about parallel bar dips. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Borge Fagerli Reviews The Hypercarnivore Diet

In comment stream on The Hypercarnivore blog, Boerg Fagerli, author of Myo-Reps and The Zero Carb Diet, wrote the following about The Hypercarnivore Diet:

"At the end of the day, what you are recommending in the book - experimenting for yourself - is a message that should really be conveyed by more authors and experts, so I applaud you for that :) The individuality angle is hugely underrated, but if people understood it then there wouldn’t be that eternal search for the "Perfect Diet" (and no one trying to sell products or books claiming they have found it).

"It may also be my confirmation bias kicking in, as I have arrived at the exact same conclusions that you have, but after 20+ years in the business your book is easily in my top 5 of all time best reads and I will recommend it to everyone who cares to listen :)"

Makes a great gift for the Yuletide!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Conceited Authorities Recommend Taxing Processed and Red Meat Based on Pseudo-Science


 Here's the Public Library of Science (in this case, pseudoscience) article by conceited "authorities " advocating an 80% tax on processed meats and a 14% tax on red meat. 


Nowhere do they establish or even claim that either type of meat CAUSES disease. Rather, they only claim that meat "has been associated" with chronic diseases. I guess they didn't get the memo explaining that association does not establish causation. 

Nevertheless they quote the trash WHO report claiming that processed meat is a carcinogen and red meat is probably carcinogenic, which report has been torn to shreds by critics for the same mistake of deriving causation from mere association in the presence of major con founders.  

Georgia Eade, M.D. thoroughly exposed the extremely poor quality of the WHO report here

David Klurfield published a thorough critique of the WHO report in the journal Animal Frontiers.  Here's the summary:

This paper recommending a meat tax proves once again that most published research findings are false, and exemplifies the conceit and tyranny of " experts" who believe they have the right to coerce people into behaving the way they believe the people should behave. 

Observe that behind this proposed tax is an iron fist. If you refuse to pay you will be visited by heavily armed thugs who will threaten or apply violence to get your compliance, if you resist you will be assaulted and thrown in a cage or even shot. Taxation is theft, and this tax would not only involve confiscation of your hard-earned wealth but also depriving you of the health, fitness and intelligence you can enjoy by eating red meat, which is by Natural Law (of the food chain) one of the most nutrient-dense foods available to us.  

Graphic by the incredible Ted Naiman, M.D.

 You are taught to never question authority from an early age so that you will not question or resist when they want to apply more chains for their pleasure or benefit. If you question you will be called a "cholesterol denier" or "red meat denier" or "science denier" – in short, an INFIDEL; the game is to shame you for noticing the emperor has no clothes and is a thief. 

This is the way apparently mild-mannered psychopaths continue to attack your life, liberty and property.  Probably the authors of this tax paper get a dopamine high from their belief that they have the moral right to control our behavior to their liking. 

I say to them: get lost scum bags, the road to hell is paved with your allegedly good intentions!  

 #lies #noauthority #meatheals #nannystate #taxationistheft #pseudoscience #resist #walkaway