I first met Phil Campbell
earlier this year at a fitness camp in Cancun, Mexico, and he was truly
the highlight of my experience there. He's the author of the book Ready
Set Go, which details how the exercises for super-fast muscle fibers
can increase growth hormone, which we also discuss in depth during this
He's a true veteran in the field of
fitness with over 35 years experience in training professional athletes.
Over the years Phil has worked with 18,000 athletes, teaching them how
to run faster with the proper speed technique. He's also the associate
athletic director of Bethel University in Tennessee.
He taught me how to apply the revised form of exercise
we discuss and demonstrate in the video above, which has helped transform
my physique and physical health.
I have previously written about this technique, which
I termed Peak
8, but in this video you'll hear it first-hand from the person who
designed and developed it. Hopefully, Phil will inspire you to implement
this fitness strategy and transform your health as well.
There's a load of information in this interview that
cannot be covered in this summary, so please, I urge you to watch the
video in its entirety, or read through the transcript to get the full
My Path Toward Optimal Fitness
One of the first books I read on exercise, which set me on the path
toward a career in health, was Dr. Ken Cooper's book Aerobics. That
was back in 1968. Cooper was a physician and an Air Force Colonel, and
he helped develop a fitness program for the astronauts. His program
was based on cardiovascular exercise, and the book incited a revolutionary
shift in how people approached exercise and fitness.
Dr. Cooper actually created the term Aerobics and I bought
his program hook, line, and sinker, and it had a major impact on my
life. I was incredibly cardiovascularly fit. I chose distance running
as my approach, and I spent the next 40 years running.
Then, about five years ago Dr. Al Sears opened my mind
to the possibility that extensive cardiovascular aerobic-type training
might be counterproductive. His program introduced me to the concept
that high intensity, burst-type sprints could be a far healthier alternative
to long distance running. However his program is a bit more generalized.
One of the questions that stood out to me though was
when you compare the two types of physiques, which would you rather
have – the physique of a sprinter or a long distance runner?
Who looks healthier?
Clearly the sprinter, which was why after four decades
of running, I reached a plateau and quit long distance running entirely
Then, I met Phil Campbell… and I finally understood
the connection to growth hormone and how to actually integrate the program..
Phil taught the Sprint 8 program in a specific, understandable way,
and provided the physiological and scientific underpinnings of the health
impact of growth hormones in somatopause.
I was hooked, and the
results are unmistakable. I've been doing what I call Peak 8 ever
since, two or three times a week now since April of 2010.
What makes it work so well?
It works because it promotes human growth hormone (HGH),
which is a synergistic, foundational biochemical underpinning that makes
your strength training and everything else work like a charm, and effectively
burns off calories.
So far I've lost 13 pounds of fat and gained over 10
pounds of muscle.
The Key Ingredient for Speed,
Endurance, and Cardiovascular Health
Perhaps the most important aspect of fitness is fast and super-fast
muscle fiber development. While many people focus on endurance, Phil
explains that endurance comes as a by-product of super fast-twitch
fiber development, which takes about a month to build.
When you work your heart anaerobically and aerobically,
you get great endurance.
However, endurance comes and goes in as little as two
weeks. According to Phil, you can double your endurance in just two
weeks, but you can also lose it pretty quickly.
The beauty of Peak 8 exercises is that you don't have
to worry about the regular, traditional cardio exercises because you're
going to get that (and more) anyway through this program. In fact, Peak
8 type exercises can dramatically improve your cardiovascular fitness
and fat-burning capabilities in a fraction of the time.
But First, Know Your Muscle
We now know, from more recent research, that you have three muscle fiber
types with three energy systems that fit together. The three different
types of muscle fibers are:
1.Slow (red muscle, which contains more oxygen)
2.Fast (white muscle)
3.Super-fast (white muscle)
Phil further explains:
"… [T]he blood supply is going to the
red muscle. The white muscle really doesn't get a lot of blood because
it doesn't need a lot of blood. It gets its energy from the stored
up energy in your body. That's six to eight seconds worth of stored
up energy and through the oxygen you breathe for 30 seconds or less.
The white fiber essentially has two types of fiber
-- what the researchers call 2A and 2B -- but it's easier to call
it fast twitch and super-fast fiber.
The fast twitch fiber moves about five times faster
than the slow, but about 30 percent of your muscle fiber, the super-fast
fiber, move 10 times faster than the slow.
Working your super-fast fiber forces your heart
to work anaerobically. So you get a great comprehensive heart muscle
workout when you do that."
If you don't work all three muscle fiber types and energy
systems, then you're not going to work both processes of your heart
muscle. Many mistakenly believe that cardio works out your heart muscle,
but what you're really working is your slow twitch muscle fibers. You're
not working the anaerobic process of your heart.
Your heart actually has two totally different processes;
the aerobic process and the anaerobic process.
The anaerobic process lines up with your fast
and super-fast twitch muscle fibers that are used during Peak 8
Meanwhile, traditional strength training and cardio only
works your slow twitch muscle fibers. Your body kicks in these slow
twitch muscles first, in an effort to not recruit your fast twitch muscles
or work your heart anaerobically.
This is why you may not see results even though you spend
an hour on the treadmill a few times a week – you're basically
denying the natural physiology of your body by not working the other
half of your muscle fibers; your fast-twitch muscles.
In addition, about half of your muscle fibers are fast
twitch fibers, and if you do not exercise these fast muscles, they begin
to atrophy, which is detrimental to physical health and fitness.
Peak 8 Naturally Increases
Human Growth Hormone Production – The Key to Fitness and Longevity Phil explains:
"A new study shows, and this is really exciting,
that when you work the fast twitch fiber and work your heart muscle
anaerobically, your body releases exercise-induced growth hormones
(HGH) that actually mimic taking injections of growth hormones.
… [Y]ou get as much as a 530 percent
increase in growth hormone!
… It stays your body for two hours, going
after body fat like a heat seeking missile. It's so powerful that
if you were to do the program today and monitor your blood, it will
look like you injected growth hormone illegally. That's why there
is no HGH test for Olympic athletes today."
THIS is why Peak 8 type exercises can revolutionize your
health and fitness!
It's important to realize that your body does not produce
HGH after long, slow exercise. Only Peak 8-style exercises -- the short,
quick-burst anaerobic type of exercise, for short periods of time --
Another benefit is that the Peak 8 protocol takes just
20 minutes, three times a week, and then you're done!
The research is so clear about the superior benefits
of this type of exercise that the American Heart Association and the
American College of Sports Medicine have now totally changed their exercise
cardio guidelines, according to Phil.
Long, slow cardio simply doesn't work because it does
not work both processes of your heart; it doesn't work all three muscle
fiber types, nor your three energy systems.
Their new guidelines now state that you can do moderate
intensity cardio, five days a weeks for 30 minutes, or you can do vigorous
intensity cardio for 20 minutes, three days a week, which is exactly
what Peak 8 is.
It's really an issue of fast recovery versus growth hormone
release. Which one are you aiming for?
In order to promote HGH release, you do need to restrict
sugar intake post-exercise, while carbs can benefit those more interested
in fast recovery, such as professional athletes.
To explain and expound on this issue further, Phil provided
the following details:
"When I train young athletes in speed –
- I explain to them that the research shows 20 to 25 grams of protein
(within 30 minutes of training) with a 4 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein,
starts the recovery process quicker.
This advice is given to everyone as general advice
in most fitness magazines today and is mostly based on research led
by Dr John Ivey on young cyclists who have to perform several days
in a row, and a quick recovery during competition is extremely important.
Clearly, young athletes more concerned with fast recovery than maximizing
HGH release should use this strategy.
However, if you are middle-aged, or in a non-competitive
phase of training, and keeping HGH circulating as long as possible
is your goal, then protein intake (20 to 25 grams after training)
is a great strategy, but you need to monitor the glycemic impact of
carbs because of the variable impact of carbs on insulin, which in
turn impacts the HGH release process.
There are a couple of variables that come into
play that can change the rules for adults wanting to maximize human
growth hormone from exercise.
Research shows that a spike of insulin after training
increases somatostatin (the hormone that shuts down HGH).
So, here's where this issue gets complicated, because
it's difficult to estimate the glycemic impact of food on different
people with different muscle to body fat ratios. And what makes this
issue very complicated is that the insulin producing process is variable
for every adult to some degree.
It depends on where you are on the Metabolic Syndrome
scale. Metabolic Syndrome just became an official medical condition
in 2001, and the research shows that even a few carbs can spike insulin
for some people with insulin resistance.
If you are lean and do not need to drop a lot of
body fat, then you can probably eat some carbs without spiking insulin
-- and maybe even some refined sugar depending on the interaction
of the carbs with an intake of post-training protein, which will somewhat
negate the impact of the carbs on the insulin response – as
opposed to an intake of carbs on an empty stomach.
So, as you can see, there are many variables that
come into play.
In short, carbs with the protein can be good after
training as long as the glycemic response doesn't spike your insulin.
Research shows that the insulin response of an
individual is lessened with youth and/or lean body weight (muscle
vs. body fat), and that's another reason why it's so important to
maintain muscle throughout life.
From a performance training strategy perspective
for runners, I would suggest consider training with the strategy of
maximizing HGH release (except on really hot days or on the one-long-run-a-week
day) because this strategy should build muscle to make you faster,
and reduce body fat so you have less to carry.
For competitions, and those hot, long-training
days, I'd suggest using the quick recovery strategy of 1 to 4 ratio
of protein to carbs, because in this instance, your body does not
care what the quality of glucose is; it just needs glucose."
Special Note about Fructose
The following point is a minor one, but it's significant nonetheless.
Keep in mind that the glycemic index of carbs has become
slightly outdated due to the more recent research on fructose.
Fructose actually causes a very minor, if any, change
in insulin response, but we know it's incredible damaging. It causes
this damage through other mechanisms besides insulin.
Therefore, I now look at carbohydrates as the percentage
of fructose it contains. And higher dextrose, although it can raise
insulin, may not cause as many adverse biochemical side effects as fructose
What You Need to Know about
Somatopause, and Why Peak 8 is so Beneficial
The concept of somatopause is frequently overlooked, but it is what
makes growth hormone production so important, and why Peak 8 exercises
are so incredibly beneficial.
Somatopause is tied directly to decreased amounts of
growth hormone (HGH), which is also called "the fitness hormone."
As you reach your 30s and beyond, your levels of HGH
begin to drop off quite dramatically, which triggers somatopause. This
is part of what drives your aging process. You start putting on body
fat and losing muscle; you become more fatigued, and the "middle
age spread" sets in.
It has been my experience that nearly everyone over 30
has dramatically abnormally low levels of this important hormone because
they begin leading increasingly sedentary life styles.
Children and most animals in the wild do not run marathons
or lift weights, they move at high speeds for very short periods of
time and then rest. This is natural and what optimizes the production
of growth hormone.
The higher your levels of growth hormone, the healthier
and stronger you're going to be. And the longer you can keep your body
producing higher levels of HGH, the longer you will experience robust
health and strength.
I totally agree with Phil when he says:
"Really, if you think about it, when you're
looking at exercise-induced growth hormone it's like you're listening
to your body tell you how, as a human being, you should exercise.
Because when you do it this way, your body releases this huge amount
of growth hormone that does so many things synergistically for you
for two hours after you work out."
How to Perform Peak 8 Exercises
Here's a summary of what a typical peak fitness routine
might look like using a recumbent bike (although you can perform this
on an elliptical machine or treadmill, or with any type of exercise
1.Warm up for three minutes
2.Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should
feel like you couldn't possibly go on another few seconds
3.Recover for 90 seconds
4.Repeat the high intensity exercise and recovery 7 more times
Be mindful of your current fitness level and don't overdo it when
you first start out.
If you are not in great shape and just starting this
you may want to start with just two or three repetitions, and work your
way up to eight. You may need to start with just walking and when you
do your 30 second bursts your legs would be moving as fast as possible
without running - and your arms would be pumping hard and fast.
Ultimately you want to exercise vigorously enough so
you reach your anaerobic threshold as this is where growth hormone release
Whatever activity you choose, by the end of your 30 second
sprint period you will want to reach these markers:
•It will be relatively hard to breathe and talk
because you are in oxygen debt
•You will start to sweat profusely. Typically this occurs in
the second or third repetition unless you have a thyroid issue and
don't sweat much normally.
•Your body temperature will rise
•Lactic acid increases and you will feel a muscle "burn"
If you are using cardio equipment like an elliptical or bike, you
don't need to reach any "magical" speed. It's highly individual,
based on your current level of fitness. But you know you're doing
it right when you're exerting yourself to the point of typically gasping
for breath, after a short burst of activity.
Do this exercise two to three times a week, and you're
virtually guaranteed to drastically improve your HGH production.
Special Warning to Over-Achievers…
I want to stress this point: perform Peak 8 only two to three
times a week. I'm continuously shocked and surprised when people
say they do this program every day!
Folks, if you do that your body will shut down. You'll
be bedridden. Nearly every time someone tells me they are doing it more
than four times a week, they are not doing it properly as they are not
pushing themselves hard enough and getting their heart rate up to their
"You just can't [do that]. I've tried to experiment
with the program in as many ways as possible to learn more about it.
I can do it four days straight but it's virtually
impossible. My brain just shuts down. I'm totally lethargic the next
day. That's really too much… I've never ever been able to do
it five days in a row."
So please understand that not only do you not NEED to
do it more than three times a week, you may actually cause more harm
than good if you over-do it.
To get all the benefits from Peak 8, just focus on gradually
increasing intensity, as opposed to doing it more frequently.
Again, this interview contains countless additional
nuggets of pure gold, so please listen to it in its entirety, or read
through the transcript at your leisure. It very well could change your
life. I know it has had the most dramatic impact on my body and health
than any other fitness program I've ever tried.