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Exercise Questions Answered
By: William Wong ND, PhD, Member World Sports Medicine Hall of Fame.

In a recent interview I had with internationally famous strength coach Mike Mahler, I ranted, raved and espoused some ideas that were out of the norm of conventionally held thought back in the 70’s when I first uttered them. Through the 80’s and 90’s it seemed I was alone on my soap box raining images of doom upon those manic compulsives who over exercised, over ran, over carbed, over did and held themselves up to be the pinnacle of fitness and health, oft-times lording themselves over the rest of us in an “naa, naa you can’t do this” type of mindset.

I warned that due to their lack of understanding of physiology and biomechanics they were destined to have severely worn joints, weakened immune systems, kidney problems and difficulties in performing their Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) as they got older. The “Running Doctors” told them marathoning was good (as if MD’s remember anything about physiology or have ever studied bio mechanics! One of those “super healthy” MD’s is now dead the other has given up on endurance athletics altogether)!

Now given the last 30 years of the running and over exercising craze, my predictions were correct but proved to be very conservative. What has finally happened to these people was much worse than even I had predicted. (See the great and informative article “Marathoners and Other Sick People” at www.arthurdevany.com). And yet, those following their footsteps ignore the deaths or diseases acquired by those who came before them and cling to the psudo-physiological myths of marathoning, tri atheloning and bodybuilding. In the glitzy rag magazines that promote these “fitness activities”” I read the same dribble passing for science that were written in the 1960’s and 70’s. Some of the verbiage has changed to sound more well thought and scientifically correct but it’s the same old self-damaging garbage clothed in newer garb.

I’ve stopped trying to bang my head against the wall attempting to stop folks from hurting themselves. I’m now only preaching to the choir. Their time of dysfunction and realization will come. No one save God is an exception to the laws of nature.

The interview did present some interesting questions I thought I would share with those of you who are interested.


I just found your web site via Art De Vany (www.arthurdevany.com).  Very interesting.  I am curious as to what you think of exercise programs based upon calisthenics, ie push ups, chin ups and freehand squats.  Is it dangerous to do many reps.  Also some people are advocating DVR (Dynamic Variable Resistance Ed?) and DSR (Dynamic Static Resistance ed?), in flowing isometrics and self resistance.  Is this dangerous, ie does it spike blood pressure.



Howdy Gerald:

Great questions. Calisthenics based programs are very effective for building endurance but strength can only increase by increasing the resistance of an exercise and since this is limited in calisthenics we have to ask what specifically are we training for? For wrestling and grappling there is no doubt that calisthenics are IT as far as conditioning goes. For troops in combat, special ops guys, cops, etc. they need more in the way of strength while not sacrificing endurance. For the field events of track and field, calisthenics won't do diddley but Olympic and power lifting will. So, as we learned in school: fitness and conditioning are specific to what ever you need to be fit for!

Now as to my personal opinion, the too high rep load of calisthenics will eventually get to the joints and cause wear. Most of the great advocates of high intensity calisthenics are not yet 40, their tunes will change as they age I can assure you. While we can point to 70 year old marathoners and wrestlers those are the extremely rare exception and not the rule. 99.5% of us will fall under the bell shaped curve and have the negative effects I've talked about from over exercise.

As for the question of dynamic variable resistance vs. plain old isotonic movement and static resistance, I suppose everything old is new again. DVR was THE big thing in the 70's and 80's but in practical use it's proven itself no better than non variable (isotonic) resistance. As for the static resistance over a range of motion, the original studies done by DeLorm and Watkins (done in 1964 or so) on isometrics that the isometricians love to pull out and wave around as proof positive that isometrics against resistance along a range of motion works to build strength better than an isotonic motion; well as Dr. Bob Goldman exposed in his book Death In The Locker Room (1984) what DeLorm and Watkins did not know while they were doing these studies was that at that exact time the Olympic team members of the York Barbell Club (where the study was being done because it was the home of US Olympic lifting), had just started taking Dianabol (an anabolic steroid) the week or so before the study so of course their strength levels shot up! It wasn't the isometrics it was the D bol!

I did months of work in the late 60's on isometric power racks believing the research results. After that time I went back to regular isotonic lifting very disappointed with the results. Isometrics will not overly increase BP, intra cranial, intra ocular or intra thoracic pressure IF the breath is not held but little strong puffs are done during the hold phase of the exercise. If the breath is held then internal pressure will be higher with the danger of bursting blood vessels and such. As for working against one's own resistance applied by another limb a la Charles Atlas, that works for a while but you won't get substantially stronger doing that. So far no fancy high dollar piece of equipment or fancy theory has beaten the olympic barbell and the kettlebell as the top ways to get results in strength, sports conditioning and body shaping.

Be well and God bless,
Dr. Wong

Blue Divider

Hi Dr. Wong
I apologize in advance if this is the wrong place to address this question.

I just read the interview Dr Wong gave to Mike Mahler at


In it, Dr Wong describes his dislike for the full ROM Bench Press, Straight-Legged Dead lifts, and Wide Grip Pulldowns. What he doesn't mention, however, are the weightlifting exercises he does like. Perhaps Dr Wong could put a book together on this subject?



Hello Dave:

You're right, I failed to mention the exercises I do like. Here is a short list as you've inspired an article for my website (www.drwong.us).

My favorite strength exercises:
Power cleans,
Bent knee dead lift
Upright rows or hang cleans
Bench squats
Straddle (Jefferson) squats
Weighted Chin Ups. (The Chin Up grip is palms facing you, or supineated, hands shoulder width apart. Palms away from you, or pronated, is a Pull Up grip, don’t do those).
Most all kettlebell work except those movements involving trunk side flexion.

Favorite aerobic exercises:
50 to 100 yd. wind sprints
Harvard steps
Stadium step interval running
Doing interval work on rowing machines.

Thanks for the article idea!

Be well and God bless,
Dr. Wong

I am a professional basketball player and I train anywhere from 4-7 hours, 5 to 6 times a week. I have had episodes of over training, one of these was mono....Once again I think I have over trained a little since I am very very conditioned but I get tired quickly and I feel sluggish. I think all the training has caught up with me. My question is a week of active rest enough to get me back on track and what suggestions do you have to make me recover faster? Thanks for your advice!



Pro basketball teams and players are very frequently over trained. A week off will help but 3 is better. If you think you're causing a reoccurrence of the mono from overdoing try to take a month off and only train lightly for conditioning doing things you don't normally do such as swimming, boat rowing etc. During that month take your supplements, take a systemic enzyme to aid in recovery and fighting inflammation, take herbs to naturally increase your own testosterone production levels (i.e. Maca powder, Enkindle caplets) as in mono testosterone levels drop greatly and this is part of the fatigue and lack of recovery. Once back to training start a heavy strength training program 2 to 3 times a week with low sets (3-4), low reps (3 to 7) and heavy weight using only a few well chosen exercises such as power cleans, squats, 1/2 range of motion bench press, front pulldowns etc. This will build mitochondria in the muscle cells again to overcome the die off in mitochondria that the mono causes. When closer to preseason training then decrease the weights and increase the reps and add what ever aerobic training you need for the sport (such as sprints and running stadium steps).

Sleep as much as possible during the season, party as little as possible while still managing to have a social life, and keep taking your supplements and the systemic enzymes.

Please email or call if you have any further questions.

All the best on your career!

Be well and God bless,
Dr. Wong

We’ll add more questions and answers as we get them. Be well and God bless!

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