September 2012: DH Kiefer (Part 2)

by on September 23, 2012

JOHN: John we left off talking about how eccentric overload can be a double edge sword, and can actually decrease glut-4 translocation if you overdo it. How about concentric loading? I don’t know that I have an opinion on this yet, so I am open to you swaying me! Here is an example of something I love doing. Grab a rope with one hand, and pull a sled simulating a low row. You can “explode” and then as the weight comes to the end of a slide, just step back and repeat. There is no eccentric element at all. I think of it in terms that I am adding to the workload, without killing CNS. I have not built this into any of my programs yet though, as I haven’t done it for a long enough period of time, to see a long term effect.

DH: This is an interesting question and one I thought a lot about just over a year ago and that’s when someone introduced me to exactly what you’re describing! I think this type of training makes a nice adjunct, but since learning about it, I’m not really sure of its place. The eccentric portion of training triggers most of your inflammatory damage (that also sparks growth), so when someone’s beaten the hell out of their muscles or getting an abnormal frequency and intensity of the DOMS, then this concentric-only training is awesome and I can see a use. And like we discussed, it does initiate non-insulin mediated GLUT translocation, so it could be used with carb-manipulating protocols like CBL and the Mountain Dog brand of contest prep dieting. I’m not sold, however, on the claims I’ve heard of allowing CNS recovery. I think it’s the intrinsic methodology and not the concentric isolation, as using a sled in this manner is normally done with higher reps and lower weight than you could handle for a really big pull. Essentially, your muscles tire from an energy systems-standpoint (buildup of proton donors) and not because you’re really working the CNS. So, the CNS recovers, but only because you’re simply using a load that burns you out before hitting the extremes of CNS activation. If you look at an activity like say pulling a semi truck with a rope, so you’re just pulling hand over hand and not moving your feet, the CNS impact would be massive even though this is also concentric only. So, I guess what I’m saying in a long-ass way is, the jury’s out, but it’s still awesome to have a method of concentric-only training.

JOHN: We’ll see where that one heads in the future. You mentioned the inflammatory process. This caught my eye, because for so many years, I think I was completely wrong about inflammation and soreness. I always wore my soreness like a badge of courage. The sorer I got, the better I thought I was doing. I did make progress, nice and steady progress. When I started really hammering pre, intra, and post workout nutrition, the soreness evaporated. At first I thought, oh man, I must not be training hard enough. As the soreness vanished, I was able to increase my frequency of training though. Gains tremendously accelerated. Now the best thing I can hear from a client is this, “John what am I doing wrong, I am not sore anymore?”. With the tremendous amount of importance you place on nutrition around training, I am guessing you are hearing the same thing?

DH: I’m saying almost exactly the same thing. The studies on DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) always intrigued me because, although the soreness can last a few days, biochemically, muscle respond just as they do when there’s no DOMS within 48 hours. The research also shows that you should also really only experience the DOMS once or twice (assuming you continue your training regimen), but I was like you, experiencing them regularly but still gaining. As I progressed and started including higher quality protein powders–gave up crap like Muscle Milk and Designer Whey–I noticed it stopped. What I later found out is that eccentric loading, in particular, triggers damage in skeletal muscle mitochondria which can cause calcium ion leakage. It’s these ions that make you sore the next day. It happens pretty much every time you train heavy. But this also triggers several protective responses like the heat shock factor cycle. Your body actually builds up proteins to protect against residual damage, but it needs adequate vitamin and protein supplies to do so effectively. The bottom line, if you’re getting the DOMS on a regular basis, your nutrition sucks.

JOHN: How did we go so wrong on this?

DH: I just think it’s the nature of the beast. People who train seriously don’t mind punishing themselves; it’s like a badge of honor, as you said. I mean, just look at CrossFit: they’ve gone so far as to actually praise injury in lieu of results. So being sore for a few days, psychologically, gives you bragging rights about how much of a badass you are, so you start to expect it. When it goes away, you think you’re not working hard enough, so you do stupid shit to make it happen again, just so you can feel like you succeeded. It’s probably the only thing in life where success is measured in consistency of pain.

JOHN: So where do we draw the line with training. How much inflammation do we really need to trigger growth?

DH: Damn, you’re pulling out the big guns here. I can’t tell you for sure, but the answer’s not much. Like I touched on before, inflammation is hormetic, a little bit triggers growth and too much pushes the needle the other direction into muscle breakdown. For example, that’s one reason NOS supplements “might” work, because they increase levels of intramuscular nitric oxide which is an inflammatory (and is produced every time we train anyway). But what seems to be the case is that you only need to allow the inflammation response to last through your training, after which, you should be doing what you can to curb it. That’s one reason carbs post-training can be a growth potentiator. The insulin release works as an anti-inflammatory. That would also explain (and I’m extrapolating here) the probable cause of stymied muscle growth while taking NSAIDS like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil), because they don’t allow you to get the full hormetic response during the training session.

JOHN: Yes, and the way I approach it, is to curb the inflammation to a degree while training via carbs to drive insulin. I liken this to digging a ditch. I only want to dig it a foot deep. Then as I add dirt (protein synthesis, I quickly fill up the 1 foot and add to what there was orginially if I continue to add. Now if I were to dig it 10 feet deep during the session, I have to fill that up just to get back to status quo, let along beat where I started. That whole skeletal muscle turnover rate thing is a doozy.

Also, I believe excess inflammation can actually decrease insulin sensitivity and cause other issues – can you expound on this?

DH: I wish I could be technical on this one, but they’ve seen in studies that chronic inflammatory response (which can be from stress or over-productions of the bio-active omega-6 fatty acids like (arachidonic acid) cause cellular dysfunction at the membrane level, which itself could explain everything since insulin’s only interaction with a cell is by stimulating GLUT4 and GLUT12 response through the cellular goo. This is something that I’m now going to have to put on my plate to research, because I hate not having a more detailed answer.

JOHN: Haha! Ok, we will look for a full report soon!

Ok, so here is something that I love arguing about with people. In bodybuilding, popular dogma has always been that in order to gain muscle at the absolute fastest rate, you have to get borderline fat, and basically eat everything in sight and do a “bulk up”. I am 100% against this idea. I say to stay within 10% bodyfat generally speaking (sure some can get away with more), as I believe once you get too fat, fat cells in themselves can lessen insulin sensitivity (cytokines etc)…so the more fat you accumulate, the worse this happens, and the SLOWER the rate of growth. Building muscle at the fastest rate would mean to manage insulin sensitivity to a degree, and yes not be ripped, but again, decently lean. Please tell me if I am full of crap or if there might be something to what I am saying!

DH: I’m with you 100% on this one. I used to believe that gaining required bulking up, just like everyone else, but it doesn’t. This is what my MTR concept is based on, Modulated Tissue Response. If you know what you’re doing with food and supplements, you can continuously give your muscles the signal to grow while keep your fat cells at least at bay and if you spend enough time experimenting with yourself, and depending on how fat you are to begin with, you can drop fat and gain muscle at the same time. And like you said, as you start pushing the limits of what your fat cells can store, they release more and more inflammatory agents like tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), angiopoietin-like protein 2 (Angplt2), and can trigger macrophage activity that is related to even more inflammatory factors (a subset of the interleukin family, C-reative protein and so on), all of which mess with insulin sensitivity (like I said above, I can’t explain the exact mechanism) and stymies growth of all cells, including muscle cells. Getting fatter means slowing growth. And you’re absolutely correct, manipulating nutrient timing to keep insulin sensitivity at its peak is the fastest road to growth, which means avoiding getting fat and choosing the right time to ingest carbs.

JOHN: The other thing about getting too fat, is that it is going to require some major suffering to get down and look right, in which I think you will probably burn muscle off, and man it’s hard enough to build muscle, so I sure as heck don’t want to be a cardio bunny eating tuna and lettuce for months on end due to risk of eating muscle.

Ok, so here is another one for you. People talk about the post competition “rebound”. You just had a long diet and your muscle cells will just soak up and all food you throw at it, so pig out! Isn’t is also true that your fat cells will also soak up stuff and grow if you overdue it, and you might actually create some NEW fat cells?

DH: If you prep carefully, the rebound should only serve to tighten you up. Most of my clients (especially females for some reason), will Carb Back-Load after coming off of a competition (and do they back-load: there’s nothing like seeing a 5’2″, 120 lb girl putting down a 16 inch pizza who is then ready for dessert shortly after), and lean down! They normally drop another 2 lbs of scale weight. It’s because by prepping correctly, they don’t end up in metabolic derrangement but metabolic overdrive.

With classic prep protocols (such as hours of cardio, starvation and over-exertion), people come off of a show with a devastated metabolism, increased glucose sensitivity in pancreatic beta cells and monstrous cortisol levels. The minute they start binging, cortisol levels are up and insulin levels get extremely high and this combination can cause pre-adipocytes to mature into full-blown fat storage units even if the surrounding fat cells aren’t full yet! This, coupled with LPL (lipoprotein lipase which draws fat into cells) suppression in muscle tissue and amplified levels in fat cells means your body becomes a turbocharged fat-storing machine. Even in short time, you’ve drastically increased your potential to store fat. This is why so many woman who compete blow up and can never recover their previous stage shape because of the damage they do in as little as a few weeks. Fat cells can spring into existence at any time, but they take about 10 years to die. Can you say disaster?

JOHN: Ok. let’s wrap this one up with some fun stuff.

1) What are your 5 favorite and tastiest foods to backload with?

5) Pizza
4) Cookie dough cookie sandwiches (smash raw chocolate chip cookie dough between two sugar cookies)
3) Fresh from the fryer raised-sugar coated donuts.
2) Coconut Gelato
1) Cherry turnovers

2) Favorite movie?

This is a tough one. It’s a toss-up between Snatch, Real Genius, and Hitman.

3) Favorite book in regards to nutrition?

At least this one’s a no brainer: Carb Back-Loading, of course.

4) Favorite comic book character if you’re weird like me into that kind of stuff?

Colossus from the old-school X-men comics (not the new-aged cream-puff from the movies).

JOHN: I just added a slide to my EliteFTS training presentation with a picture of the old Colossus today! Ha!

5) What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say Eva Mendes?

That scene from the movie “The Other Guys” when Will Ferrell says, “I think to myself, ‘Who would roast a dog’s asshole and feed it to someone, You would.'” That scene, unfortunately, ruined my association of hotness with Eva Mendes and replaced it with hilarity.

JOHN: My image of her is an opening scene with Joaquin Phoenix from the movie “We Own the Night.” Watch it and the association of hotness will come right back guaranteed.

6) What is the worst trend in the fitness industry today in terms of nutrition?

Non-experienced people popping up as internet gurus because of their own personal success without any background knowledge or without having worked with people. This internet celebrity gives them the hubris to make shit up about nutrition and people think its fact. It helps no one.

JOHN: I’ll never forget the first time Dave Tate told me that many authors have never even trained one client. I thought wow, people writing books on fitness and having 0 experience. Scary.

7) Same question as above in terms of diet?

I’ll be honest; it’s the splintering and rebranding of so many concepts into kitschy names because everyone wants to be known for inventing something. It makes it hard for people to tell the difference between crap and cream and makes it easy for the old-guard to defame useful, powerful diets (like paleo or ketogenic diets) as fads. There are only a few types of basic diets as far as health and performance go and everything else is a shiny turd.

JOHN: Well once again, thank you DH for all your time and knowledge. I know our audience will absolutely love the information you have shared, and on a personal level, this has been awesome for me as well to hear your thoughts.

To all the readers out there, I have personally purchased the carb back-loading manual, and it was well worth the money, in fact, it’s a steal for the price. I encourage you to pick it up as it is jam packed full of awesome information.

DH, what is the easiest way for people to do this?

DH: They can go to to purchase the book, or if they want a preview, they can download the first five chapters by visiting Basically, the free download is a quick synopsis of what’s the book can do for you!