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Barbell Aerobics Strategy Works – Personal Success Story
Find article online here
The “old” Ripped guy in Muscle and Fitness with the crazy abs. That was my first impression of Clarence Bass. I was a teenager reading Muscle and Fitness, paying more attention to the big guys in the magazine like Arnold and Lou.
Twenty years later, in early 2000, becoming an “old” man myself, at 36, I bought my first Clarence Bass book, Challenge Yourself. The photo on the cover was astonishing; he’s still got it at 60!
During my teenage years I was able to lose the weight that troubled me as a child. As a 10-year-old, I remember having to lose 20 pounds to be eligible to play football with the 12-year-olds! But after college, then marriage and kids my weight slowly crept back up. I had been strength training and doing moderate intensity cardio for 20 years, yet my weight went as high as 233 lbs. at 5’9.” I would look at lean people and think to myself, What does it take?
So you’re telling me “one hard aerobics session is enough—if combined with frequent walks…” Clarence called that his “Barbell Aerobics Strategy” in Challenge Yourself (page 91). I couldn’t believe it. I emailed Clarence and told him that I did 5 “hard” 30-minute cardio sessions a week on the Stairmaster. His simple response was, “I don’t do that.”
Well, I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I continued the 30-minute cardio routine 3-5 times a week for 10 more years. I faithfully visited Clarence’s website, looking forward to his first-of-the-month updates. I also bought a couple more of his books and videos. I really love his material—he’s personal, well researched, and very motivating! His pictures do all the “selling.” Even though I continued my old ways, Clarence’s words “most people have the capacity to do what I have done” would run through my mind. Would the “barbell aerobics strategy” work for me? The last year and a half of those 10 years I worked at my health club [Ed: Centurion Fitness] 6 days a week, yet was only able to get down to 210 lbs. My waist was still 37 inches. I was 45 years old.
In late 2009, I finally gave in. If I wanted to look like Clarence Bass, I decided it might be a good idea to train like him! Hey, it only took me 10 years! I started the barbell aerobics strategy—one hard interval session (10 minutes more or less + warm-up & cooldown) and 5-7 days of “comfortable” walking. In addition, I significantly reduced my number of sets of strength training. I continued to be careful about what I ate. (See below)
In the beginning, the comfortable walking seemed slow. My heart rate would only be around 80 bpm, and I wouldn’t even break a sweat. Clarence talks about patience being a key to success, so I stuck with it. I imagined a lion stalking his prey. He must stalk slowly and carefully or his prey will get away. (The goal getting farther away summed up my previous attempts. My results never seemed to match my efforts.)
The once-weekly high-intensity interval sessions were significantly more intense, but actually more enjoyable than what I had been doing for all those years. For months I used the Concept 2 Rower and was able to beat my previous session every week. This confirmed that a once-a-week hard session was enough to improve. [Ed: Progressivity is a key to success; continually challenging yourself is an important part of the strategy. Infrequent training makes that possible.]
Pretty quickly I started seeing results. Within 6 months I dropped down to 177 lbs. and ultimately down to 165 lbs. at about 6% body fat. My waist is now less than 30 inches, at 48 years old! Funny thing is, my results still don’t seem to match my efforts, only now the results are better than I could have ever imagined. I made more progress in those first 6 months than I had in decades of doing it my way. [Ed: Dean lost less than a pound a week on average—a comfortable and sustainable rate. He lost faster in the beginning, and slower as he approached an ideal bodyweight.]
WOW! Look at that body—and smile. Congratulations Dean.
When I share these results with people they automatically assume I must have drastically changed my diet as well. The truth is I didn’t. I have actually been counting calories (sorry Clarence) for 30 years now. Back then I was eating 3000 calories/day. Many years ago I reduced my calories 20% to 2400/day. I have been following the “Ripped” style of eating–at least it didn’t take 10 years to get the diet part down. I start each day with a tablespoon of Udo’s Choice Oil Blend and have a tablespoon of Udo’s Choice Green Blend each afternoon. These two products along with my daily “Old Reliable” big bowl of oatmeal and eating the “Ripped” style keep me completely satisfied and craving free!
It’s hard to believe, but I never dropped my calories below 2400/day. I achieved these results mainly by following the “barbell aerobics strategy.” Another question I receive is regarding my strength while losing 45 lbs. I don’t journal my workouts like Clarence, but I don’t see any strength loss. In fact, I started doing partial deadlifts (just below the knee) during this process and I did track my lifts. For this lift I did one heavy set every other week, going lighter the week in between. I weighed about 185 when I started–with about a 350 lb. max. My max consistently went up while I was dropping bodyweight. I recently got 440 for 3 reps while weighing 165. Not doing the moderate cardio enabled me to recover quicker and improve my lifting. I no longer feel worn out from my workouts–and I’m stronger.
Thank you Clarence, if it were not for you I would not be in the shape I’m in today.