The Leangains Method | Diet & Book Review

Does the world need another diet book or fitness routine? Check the news and you see obesity levels rising globally, ever more new and weird diets, and a lot of people wanting to improve their health but failing, lacking the tools, gumption, or know-how to do it.

Available at, of course, Amazon for $10. NOTE: All links to the book in this review are affiliate, which basically means I make a little more than fifty cents if you happen to buy the book based off this review. Yay. 🤷‍♂️

Think about this: we have two popular diets right now that are both, on the face, downright extreme. One is based on eating big ribeye steaks every day with no fruits or vegetables (The Carnivore Diet). Another is based on eating fat and little fruits, veggies, and a little protein to maintain a constant state of ketosis (The Keto Diet).

This isn’t diet innovation, it’s flail. And with flail comes failure. So while we may not need another “new” diet, we do need a method in the madness. A method that works.

Today, August 16, 2018, after nearly a decade of waiting, Martin Berkhan has put to words a system—a methodbacked by research, practiced successfully by thousands, and “perfected.” It’s called The Leangains Method: The Art of Getting Ripped ($10, Amazon Affiliate Link).

For the unfamiliar, Berkhan is the Polish-German Swede who originated 16:8 intermittent fasting over ten years ago. He’s deadlifted 700+ lb. (315+ kg) at over 3.5X his bodyweight and is, well, shredded. It’s ridiculous how lean and strong the guy is.

Martin transformed his physique over years, learning the most effective way to do it through trials, tribulations, research, and clients. The Leangains Method is his story—and what he learned, distilled so you can put it to work in your life.

I’ve followed Martin via Leangains.com for years and have come to know him better than most—I even get a shout in the Acknowledgements to the book. Aside from him (now) being a friend, Martin has been my coach and teacher, often in ways that I’m not sure he realizes. Martin’s greatest strength isn’t his deadlift, it’s his focus and no-bullshit attitude. Through it, he’s acquired clarity of mind on how to be strong and lean—and then shared that clarity with us.

Before and after photos may be cheesy, and, well, when they are yours, they make you squirm. A lot. But publishing them is proof: The Leangains Method works. It worked for me first when it was in it’s infancy almost a decade back—after trying and failing at low-carb, Paleo, CrossFit, and more.

The Leangains Method still works for me to this day.

If you’re interested in The Leangains Method and want to know more, well, read on.

Acheiving the HGH Flush in a Workout

http://fitnessblackbook.c…the-sweet-spot/

Rusty over at Fitness Black Book talks about how to know when you’ve reached a point where your workout intensity will have the lingering metabolism-boosting effect. The test is what he calls the “HGH Flush,” which is basically that point where you lose your breath and your skin is warm to the touch.

This is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. One, I think I’ve unwittingly been measuring my personal workout success by whether or not I reached this HGH flush state. I just hadn’t quite articulated it. Two, a part of this that Rusty mentions is not to do too much. It’s here that I think back to my CrossFit experience last summer, in which I put on muscle and lost some fat, as well. Any CrossFitter knows that the workouts typically result in an HGH Flush by design and also are completed in less then 30 minutes. In other words, they are very intense but also brief.

Comparatively, when I was making a concerted effort at additional fat loss earlier this year, I’d occassionally reach the HGH Flush, but overall, I just did more workout volume. Perhaps this is why I didn’t see noticeable results despite an ample amount of effort (in both IF, diet, and exercise).

How to Tell If Your Fat Loss Workout is the Correct Intensity?

I look for a thing called the “HGH Flush”. I forget who coined this term, but this is just an indicator of a good fat loss workout. If your skin is slightly red and hot to the touch and you are out of breath after your workout, then you have achieved the HGH flush. Remember your PE teacher in Junior High making you “run lines” or pushing you until you were out of breath and your skin felt like it was on fire? This is the HGH flush which is an indicator that your metabolism will be increased after your workout and that your body will release a bit more HGH than normal (your body’s fat burning hormone).

Positive Addiction by William Glasser

Positive Addiction by William Glasser

Finally and most important, to find happiness we need others, but an addict needs only himself. Dependent only upon himself and knowing he can pursue his addiction, he does so with a single-minded devotion that is remarkable to behold. But what if there were addictions that, instead of making you weaker, made you stronger?

Breezed through William Glasser’s Positive Addiction. At around 150 pages (the 1976 edition), it is a quick and thought-provoking overview of Glasser’s conclusion that there are activities that enable a person to achieve a transcendent, trance-like, meditative state where the mind can “spin free.” Positive addictions are activities that fairly predictably take a person to this mental state, are addictive in that missing the activity results in various symptoms of withdrawal (anxiety, depression, etc.), and are positive in that they are a creative, in-control time that endows an individual with strength in the form of both mental capacity and increased neurological horsepower. These strength gains carry over into all other aspects of life.

It sounds mystical in nature, but Glasser believes (and I have no reason to suspect otherwise) that the state of mind reached via positive addictions is natural and maybe even primal — a reversion to animalistic mental processes, perhaps.

What is the PA state? My understanding is that when you reach the PA state, your mind drifts, wandering effortlessly from random thought to observation to idea. This “spun out” or “free spinning” state is creative, relaxed, unforced, and difficult to intentionally maintain.

Though Glasser alludes to other possibly PA activities, running dominated his research which involved sending out a survey request in a running magazine. One response to Glasser’s survey helps describe the mental state:

When I am settled into my run I concentrate on running as much as possible but the mind wanders to thoughts of most anything. The state of mind is one of almost total complacency and privacy. Although you are in sight of people, cars, buses, school kids, dogs, etc., I feel a very privateness when I run. People may yell at me or a kid may bug me for a few hundred yards but due to the nature of running (it is hard and physically demanding) you are pretty much left to yourself and no one can invade your runner’s world because they physically are not able.

The above runner’s description may conjure up imagery of the well-known (Today but not when the book was written) phenomenon of a “runner’s high”. A runner’s high is the effect felt as the body releases endorphins to weaken the physical pain caused by high-impact nature of running. Though Glasser does not address this connection in Positive Addiction, given the numerous alternative means to reach the PA state, I am not convinced endorphins are fundamental — they may merely be an ancillary effect of higher-endurance activities. It seems to me based on personal experience that the meditative state achieved through repetitive, non-critical physical activity is separate from endorphin release.

Transcendental meditation is another way to achieve the PA state though Glasser concludes from his research that TM rarely becomes addictive because it tends to only induce the PA state infrequently.

Aside from regularly running, Glasser alludes to other possible methods that may achieve the PA state. His research into PA discovered subjects that appeared to be positively addicted to gardening, juggling, swinging a bat, bathing, creative but non-critical writing, and knitting. The PA state elicits in me the diminished, wandering awareness reached almost immediately prior to falling asleep; could the PA state be akin to dreaming while still awake? It also reminds me of how I (and many people I know) feel during a morning hot shower.

In Positive Addiction Glasser outlines six steps or requirements of a PA activity. If you’re looking for a potential PA, the steps as pulled from the book are:

  1. It is something noncompetitive that you choose to do and you can devote an hour (approximately) a day to it.
  2. It is possible for you to do it easily and it doesn’t take a great deal of mental effort to do it well.
  3. You can do it alone or rarely with others but it does not depend upon others to do it.
  4. You believe that it has some value (physical, mental, or spiritual) for you.
  5. You believe that if you persist at it you will improve, but this is completely subjective—you need to be the only one who measures that improvement.
  6. The activity must have the quality that you can do it without criticizing yourself. If you can’t accept yourself during this time the activity will not be addicting. This is why it is so important that the activity can be done alone.

Glasser’s default recommendation for those interested in reaching PA is to run. He cautions that getting to the point where you can run for an hour for five to six days a week could take up to six months, and even then, it may still take up to two years to get to the point where running is a positive addiction.

Self-experimentation — as I am more or less convinced of the benefits of positive addiction; however, in order to see if its something real and useful for me, I need to conduct some self-experimentation, introspection, and observation. Since I am not a runner (or jogger), I am interested in finding other means to achieve the PA state. I believe that I have reached the PA state at various times while working out. I have noticed symptoms of withdrawal when I miss workouts. Finally, I’ve noticed that working out with others tends to diminish my enjoyment severely even though weight-lifting often requires a workout partner (and I do suspect weight-lifting can be a positive addiction).

If you wish to follow my experimentation with achieving PA via alternatives to running. Right out the gate I suspect that PA can be reached through kettlebell drills such as the kettlebell swing. Additionally, as I somewhat regularly bike (both mountain and road), I will be experimenting with positive addiction there, as well, though I’m nearly positive I have noticed the PA state while biking.

Further reading — This is the second book by William Glasser that I have read. The first was Control Theory. Glasser’s style of therapy has been termed “Choice Theory” or “Reality Therapy.” I have one other book of his that I plan on reading. I have enjoyed Glasser’s writing style and particularly his inquisitive mind and search for useful, testable and easy to apply methods to improve mental health. Working to improve your mind is something healthy individuals do not do enough. This is despite the obvious conclusion that just like it is healthy to strengthen your body via lifting weights and routine physical activity, it is also healthy to take efforts to strengthen the mind. As it is, positive addiction may increase both physical and mental well-being at the same time.

Below are all William Glasser books that I have read to date:

  • Control Theory — the most comprehensive and useful of Glasser’s books that I have read, this one covers the basics of control theory (also known as choice theory and reality therapy).
  • Positive Addiction — a more niche focus on acheiving meditation and creative reorganization via pursuit of positive addictions.
  • Staying Together — focuses on applying control theory, the ideas of “pictures in your head” and quality worlds, and matching up basic needs (or accounting for differences in these needs) in relationships.

Workout Blog

Check out my new “Workout Blog” here. This is mostly just to track progress with individual workouts as well as CrossFit. We’ll see how long I can keep it up. I’ve got a sidebar widget dedicated to listing the last ten posts. Might be good for any of you who are looking for workout ideas. Otherwise, you just ignore it! :p

Day 4: Crossfit

In my recent update, I mentioned joining Crossfit Augusta. Today was day four. I’ve been sore since the first workout, and intensely sore since yesterday, but I plunge forward. Though I wonder if such intense, regular workouts are sustainable for the long-term, I have no doubt following the Crossfit protocol for a few months will do wonders for my physical fitness.

I’ve come a long way via the lifestyle switch to a more “paleo” diet (low-carb / intermittent fasting). I’m merely upping the ante as my home workouts just weren’t intense enough (Plus I felt like I was getting in a rut with them). I expect crossfit to push me past my comfort zone.