05 Ken Hutchins – A Pioneer in Strength Training

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In the last episode we discussed understanding failure. Reaching muscle failure in your workout
to be more precise and by hitting muscle failure safely, you get a weeks’ worth of exercise in just
one 20-minute session. In this episode Adam Zickerman provides a very descriptive and detailed
definition of a high-intensity workout from Ken Hutchins, one of the pioneers of this slow motion,
high-intensity strength training system.

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Intro:               You’re listening to the InForm Fitness podcast, 20 minutes with New York Times, best-selling author, Adam Zickerman and friends. Brought to you by InForm Fitness, life changing personal training with several locations across the US. Reboot your metabolism and experience the revolutionary Power of 10, the high intensity, slow motion, strength training system that’s so effective, you’d get a week’s worth of exercise in just one 20-minute session, which by no coincidence is about the length of this podcast. So, get ready InForm Nation, your 20 minutes of high intensity strength training information begins in 3, 2, 1.

Tim:                Thanks for joining us for the InForm Fitness podcast, 20 minutes with Adam Zickerman and friends. I’m Tim Edwards, the founder of the Inbound Podcasting Network. Back with Adam’s friends and colleagues. Sheila Melody from the InForm Fitness Toluca Lake location and Mike Rogers from the New York City location. And across the hall from Mike is the founder of InForm Fitness and author of the New York Times, best-seller, Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution, Adam Zickerman. We are in the middle of a series of high intensity during your workout.

In the last episode we discussed understanding failure. Reaching muscle failure in your workout to be more precise and by hitting muscle failure safely, you get a weeks’ worth of exercise in just one 20-minute session. Now, coming up in this episode we’ll provide a very descriptive and detailed definition of a high intensity workout from Ken Hutchins, one of the pioneers of this protocol. We’ll also discuss how this type of workout will enhance your performance and whatever activity it is you enjoy but first, Adam, let’s dispel the stigma associated with the word intensity. I mean, we don’t want to scare anybody.

Adam:             Intensity, yeah, an intense workout, I think will scare most people if they feel like they’re out of shape or they haven’t worked out in a long time and yeah, that raises concern for sure, raises the red flag so to speak in peoples’ minds when they hear that this is not only an intense workout but a very intense workout and one of the first things that pops into a lot of peoples’ heads is, “Can I do this?” Or, “Is it safe for me?” And that’s what I meant when I said it depends who’s telling the story about intensity. I think what we do so well is explaining that intensity is not the problem but it’s the way we try to achieve intensity that’s really where the problems lie.

Sheila:             When I talk to clients and when I say high intensity and when I personally think of high intensity I think of that — the first thing that comes to my mind is that Insanity Workout. High intensity! You know, it’s like — and I always try to tell people, you know, “You’re not going to be jumping around. You’re not going to be like you know, we’re not going to kill you.” So, you have to kind of — yeah, you do have to kind of qualify it a little bit, you know, when you say, high intensity.

Mike:              Yeah. It’s interesting because a lot of the medical research and fitness research that’s been coming out over the last few years which we’ve been advocating for, you know, I don’t know. Adam, how long now? Almost 20 years. Is —

Adam:             My whole life.

Mike:              Exactly, you know, but it’s a —

Tim:                Yeah, sure. [laughs]

Mike:              Everyone’s now a big advocate and they’ve showed through a lot more of the studies that a high intensity stimulus is the more worthwhile stimulus in order to gain the adaptation and the effect over the muscle in the body. So, it’s a, as Adam said, it is the modality. It’s defining it. I mean, some of the things that have taken the headlines are the 7-minute workout in the New York Times, CrossFit boot camps. You know, all engaging, fun, highly intense and where people have gotten, like, a lot of results but often times they’re not assessing the risk when entering into those types of workouts and I think that’s where Power of 10 and InForm Fitness is really, really — that’s where we have the advantage.

Tim:                And when we’re talking intensity too and for 20 minutes, we really want to make it clear to somebody who’s considering this type of exercise that it is not 20 solid minutes of intensity. Really. I mean, based upon, you know, the five to seven or however many exercises somebody’s going thorough within that 20 minutes, the intensity really is in the last 30 seconds of the exercise. At least that’s how I feel.

Adam:             Well, Tim, you make a good point actually. Your question is right on because you’re not doing 20 minutes of high intensity exercise. If you’re doing six exercises that last a total of a minute and a half, that’s nine minutes actually of exercise.

Tim:                Mhm [affirmative].

Adam:             Alright. So, one and a half minutes, times six is nine minutes. You know, when it comes down to it, whether it’s a two-minute set or even a three-minute set or a one-minute set, at the end you’ve reached muscle failure. At the end it’s still those last 20 seconds. Now, there are a lot of people that if you pick a weight where those last 20 seconds come in 60 seconds. Alright, so come on — that means it’s already starting hard and challenging but it’s not like grueling. Now, I understand that some people, especially beginners need to kind of work up to that burn but, you know, what I found is once you understand what the bottom line is and where you have to go, a lot of people want to get it over with. People want the weight to be heavier so they don’t have to take two minutes to get to that point.

Mike:              And as long as their form is solid it’s going to be okay. When on the first couple sessions it’s usually not about deep muscle failure. It’s just about understanding intensity anyway. So, it’s something that you know, we’re focusing more on the form and making sure people feel confident and safe while they accept and understand what it feels like to do to have an intense stimulus on their body. Usually it’s unlike anything they’ve had before. Even with very, very competitive athletes. It’s quite a challenge.

Tim:                Right and it certainly takes some getting used to but it really doesn’t take long. So, Adam, let’s shift gears a little bit here. In your book, Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Revolution, and in earlier episodes of the podcast, you’ve mentioned the name, Ken Hutchins, one of the pioneers of the super slow technique. Tell us a little bit more about Ken and share with us his definition of a high intensity exercise regime.

Adam:             We’d be doing everyone a disservice to not mention where this all came from. This was not my brain child, this idea of exercise versus recreation. I wish it was but it’s not. Regardless, I’m following it but the person who’s responsible for this is a guy named Ken Hutchins and he worked for Nautilus. He was a protégé of Arthur Jones who was the founder of Nautilus and Nautilus had their own protocol. They weren’t just an exercise company. They were a protocol, an exercise protocol. A lot of the early body builders were using it back when he came out with this thing in the mid to late 60s, the Nautilus equipment.

The protocol was high intensity — this is the beginning of high intensity exercise where finally intensity, almost above all else was the key to seeing results and it was done in a — he called it a two, four protocol which is lifting in two and lowering in four. So, that was drastically slower than what was — that used to be done and it was being done on equipment which is also very radical because free weights were king at that time, especially for body builders. So, Arthur Jones had approved that equipment. You know, it doesn’t matter what the tool is. Matter of fact, the equipment can actually do some better things for you.

Ken Hutchins realized that the protocol can even get better. So, here is Ken Hutchins’ actual definition. I’m going to read it. “Exercise is a process whereby the body performs work of a demanding nature, in accordance with muscle and joint function, in a clinically-controlled environment, within the constraints of safety, meaningfully loading the muscular structures to inroad their strength levels to stimulate a growth mechanism within minimal time.”

Tim:                What does that mean?

Adam:             Simple, right?

Tim:                [laughs]

Mike:              Who wrote that, Justice Ginsberg?

Tim:                [laughs]

Adam:             Yeah, exactly. [Inaudible 08:04].

Tim:                Wow.

Mike:              I need a law degree to understand that.

Tim:                Yeah. [laughs]

Sheila:             [laughs]

Adam:             Exactly. It’s brilliant and it is a true definition because as he points out, the definition of definition is to delimit, which means that there are no other possibilities that could exist. For example, if I said somebody, please define what a pen is and they said a pen is a writing instrument. So, therefore, I can hold up a pencil, I can hold up a quill and say, well, therefor this is a pen, right? Says, no. No, actually a pen actually has ink. Oh, so, a pen is a writing instrument that uses ink? Yes. Okay. So, this quill and ink is a pen, right? Okay, so you have to define it, you have to break it down even more. You see where I’m going with this?

Tim:                Mhm [affirmative].

Adam:             Alright. So, that’s what he just did with this definition. I mean, there is no possibility of exercise being anything other than lifting weights really slowly on retrofitted equipment in a very cool environment that is going to reach a certain level of intensity. Alright. There’s no other way of doing it according to this definition.

He wrote this definition, to narrow down exactly how you have to perform exercise which is to life weights ten seconds up, ten seconds down, according to muscle and joint function so you better have your biomechanics right and your machines retrofitted for those biomechanics. Alright and you better do it in the minimum amount of time and reach failure pretty darn quickly and not hurt yourself in the process, he says here. That’s what he just said in a very long way but, like, there is no room for error there. There’s no ambiguity with a definition like that and that’s his brilliance. He finally did it. Now gardening is not freaking exercise anymore.

Tim:                [laughs]

Adam:             Alright. Doctors can’t tell their clients, “Oh, go on a walking program. Get some exercise.” They can’t say that anymore if they go by this definition of exercise which is good because a doctor that’s telling their patients that all they have to do is get out there and be active and go on a walking program because they want to save their ass because even if they die on a walking program, they can’t get sued for that.

Tim:                [laughs]

Adam:             That’s his definition because that is what it has to be but this is how we interoperate it and this is how we explain it to our clients which comes down to basically what Doug McGuff did, which is another great contributor to this movement, writing the book Body by Science who hopefully will be a guest on our show one time.

Tim:                Mhm [affirmative].

Adam:             Yeah.

Tim:                In that definition nowhere did it say — in Ken Hutchins’ definition, nowhere did it say a leisurely activity.

Adam:             Right, what I’ve been doing and what Doug McGuff did in his book is kind of tweaked that definition for layperson, something that you can just kind of have as a mantra if you will. Alright. And have it be that [inaudible 10:51] that will guide you to deciding how you want to engage in exercise and his definition was much more succinct. To build fitness, to improve and enhance your fitness while at the same time not undermining your health and that is the essence of what Ken Hutchins wrote in his definition.

Tim:                And what you —

Adam:             Although —

Tim:                Built and based —

Adam:             You know —

Tim:                You’re business on.

Adam:             Yeah. Exactly. When it comes down to it you just have to work out and not hurt yourself in the process. You know, and it only — it comes down to like doing five exercises or so to work the whole body really hard and then move on with your life.

Tim:                Well, Adam, I have a question. So, as we move forward with the exercise versus recreation debate, so, say somebody comes in and I’ll use myself as an example. So, I want to enhance my game in softball.

Adam:             Right.

Tim:                So, somebody comes in with some specific goals because they want to get better at an activity that they enjoy for recreation. Do you tailor an exercise regime based upon that or is it pretty standard throughout?

Sheila:             Read Doug McGuff’s book. [laughs]

Adam:             That’s an excellent question. I get asked that question all the time. You know, “I want to get better,” you know, “I’m a softball player,” to use your example.

Tim:                Mhm [affirmative].

Adam:             And how are we going to go about that? Do we do certain exercises for throwing? Do we do certain exercises — we’re going to do plyometrics and jump side to side laterally like a shortstop would or how are we going to train for this? And the application is very general. We have to strengthen your hips. So, we’re going to do a leg press. We’re going to do some abductor exercises. We’ll do some adductor exercises to strengthen the whole complex. We’re going to do lower back exercises. We’re going to strengthen your lower back but we’re going to do it in a way that’s not mimicking what a stress stop would do. We’re going to do it the way your body was meant to move.

Mike:              What’s great about our program is we are building all of the muscles of your body which are involved in the movements that you’re going to execute when you’re performing a sport. And, you know, all the people who are playing golf and playing tennis and playing softball and skiing, they’ve been — you know, they report incredible testimonials about it.

Adam:             The bottom line is, doing leg press is not going to make you a great softball player. Doing hip abduction, lower back extensions, they’re going to make your hips and your back and all the muscles involved in playing softball very strong and hopefully those joints really safe. And then it’s up to you to practice that skill. So, it’s a two prong approach and you do both. You have to get strong, you have to do — you have to get strong without using up all your resources. The last thing you want to do is do an exercise program that’s going to make you so tired and so fatigued and put your joints in such stress that as soon as you leap for a ball in the softball field, that’s when you spasm in your back and it’s because you just worked out like a crazy man in the wrong way all week long. Alright.

So, what you want to do is get out of your own way when it comes to exercise and not make — put yourself at even worse advantages. It’s already a demanding sport. You don’t need your exercise to be just as demanding in that sense. What you want to do is get strong and not compromise your joints. Alright. So, when you go out on a softball field you’re not going to spasm. You’re not going to tear something or hopefully not and it’s still no guarantee.

Mike:              Yeah.

Adam:             But to get better at softball though like Mike was saying, you have to just keep playing softball and as the stronger you get without compromising your joints, it gives you your best chance of being the best softball player you can be.

Sheila:             Just to put it simply, it’s physical conditioning or strengthening versus skill. Right? There’s a different skill for every activity, for every recreational activity. There’s a skill that you develop and then there’s the physical conditioning. So, there’s those two and there’s a great chapter about that in Doug McGuff’s book, Body by Science.

Tim:                Oh, terrific.

Mike:              And the likelihood of actually getting hurt while you’re practicing softball is going to go down significantly if you’re stronger.

Tim:                And that was my question. It wasn’t necessarily geared towards just softball but I think everything that you just said probably applies to any activity or any recreational activity that somebody might be enjoying and my question was, do you create a specific training, physical training program for that activity or is your system there at InForm Fitness pretty universal to where just about anything that you want to do whether it’s golf, tennis, swimming, hiking, skiing, softball that kind of fits that mold to train physically for those activities.

Adam:             Alright. So, check this out. My story with this, alright. I’ve been staying very strong for a long time and I took up snowboarding as a 42-year-old.

Tim:                Mhm [affirmative]. That’s encouraging.

Mike:              Right.

Tim:                Yeah.

Adam:             If you talk to anybody that tries snowboarding at middle age most of them give up. They’re like, “It was too hard. I was falling. I was getting hurt. I couldn’t — I didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t really stick it out.” I only was able to learn how to snowboard because I was a slow learner and it took me a good five solid days before I can kind of put a turn together on a snowboard without falling. Five solid days of being basically thrown into the ground all day long. All day long. And if it wasn’t for my basic strength, my overall basic strength, there’s no way I would have survived those five days.

Tim:                Yeah. You’d be in the hospital.

Adam:             There’s no way.

Tim:                Mhm [affirmative].

Adam:             I mean, I must have done a million pushups in five days, you know —

Sheila:             Oh my God. [laughs]

Adam:             To just to get back up off my ass. Alright, on the snowboard. I mean, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted. And that’s why a lot of people that if they’re not young trying to learn how to snowboard they just don’t — they give it up because it’s just too hard on the body to learn how to snowboard.

Tim:                It’s a great testimonial to this workout that you can pick something up as physically demanding as snowboarding at the age of 42.

Sheila:             Yeah and that’s just like I said, that’s a hugely demanding sport that Adam was trying to do. And we hear time and again, like we heard on the weekend when we were taping testimonials, can be as simple as gardening, you know, or doing things around the yard that people thought, “Oh, I just don’t have the energy to do this anymore,” and then they start doing this workout and low and behold a few months later they’re like, “Oh, this is fine again. This is easy again. I’m enjoying doing my gardening and yardwork again.”

Tim:                And not just the recreational activities but just being able to work effectively to make a living. There’s one woman that we interviewed that works for a television studio that’s in wardrobe department and has to lift and carry and drag. We interviewed a gentleman who’s in IT and has to do a lot of crawling and climbing and carrying and so this will [laughs] not only just — this exercise won’t only just benefit you so that you can be a great softball player or golfer but also help you continue to do what you not only love to do, but have to do.

Adam:             And how long does it take to have all these achievements, to reach all these successes. How long does it take to be able to do these things? Oh, just 20 minutes once a week. Are you fucking kidding me?

Tim:                [laughs] Yeah. Shorter than a television episode, right?

Sheila:             Preach it. Hallelujah.

Adam:             I mean, seriously, you know if you started telling people, what would you say if I can get you to do all these things that we just talked about like being able to snowboard at 45 and not kill yourself or to be able to actually garden a full acre of land and your property and enjoy that fantasy of actually being an organic gardener and have your self-sustaining garden while you’re in your golden years. Alright. Just imagine being able to do that because that’s a lot of hard work. Just being able to do that and not pay the price for it. What would you do for that? Well, I don’t know. What — I mean, sounds like it takes so much. It would be like — I mean, what was it? A five-day week workout and all that cardio and then doing weight training too like those crazy people on TV. I’m like No. No actually. How about just 20 minutes once a week and you can do all that?

Mike:              Yeah and realistically over time what I’ve noticed with these types of testimonials, when they record something like skiing its I mean, I’ve seen it as early as six sessions but usually within like eight or ten sessions. So, like, less than three months I think people are noticing very discernable changes in their body in regards to their sports performance or recreational activity.

Tim:                Alright. Thanks, Mike. That music means that we are close to the 20-minute mark in the podcast which also means if you began your slow motion high intensity workout at the start of this podcast, you’d be finished by now. Done for the entire week. Thanks again to the gurus from InForm Fitness, Adam Zickerman, Mike Rogers, and Sheila Melody.

And remember if you have a question for Adam, Mike or Sheila, or a comment regarding the power of ten, it’s very simple, just shoot us an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to podcast@informfitness.com. You can also leave us a voicemail by calling 888-983-5020, Ext. 3. That’s 888-983-5020, Ext. 3. All feedback is welcome. And speaking of feedback, if you enjoyed the show, the best way to support it and to ensure that we continue to produce additional episodes is to subscribe to the podcast and please rate and review the show in iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher Radio, Acast, YouTube or wherever it is you might be listening.

And to join InForm Nation for yourself and to give this work out a try, just visit informfitness.com for phone numbers and locations nearest you. You’ll be glad you did. I am. I’ve been using this workout for several months. In addition to shedding a few pounds I’m feeling great and getting stronger with a minimal investment of just 20 short minutes a week. I’m Tim Edwards, reminding you to join us in our next episode as we continue our discussion on high intensity training with the InForm Fitness podcast, 20 minutes with Adam Zickerman and friends here on the Inbound Podcasting Network.