I have been a fan of Dr. William Wong’s work for sometime. His advice has always proven to be useful and I send many of my clients his way. In an industry full of scammers, it is refreshing to come across an expert that cares more about disseminating beneficial information than making a quick buck.
In case you have not heard of Dr. Wong, he is a Texas State Naturopathic Medical Association professional member, World Sports Medicine Hall of Fame member, a Classical Naturopath, a Ph.D. Exercise Physiologist, a Certified Athletic Trainer (AATA), a Certified Sports Medicine Trainer (ASMA), and a Health/Fitness Consultant. Dr. Wong has more than 25 years of professional experience in natural health, as applied to sports medicine and rehabilitation, with the last 15 devoted almost exclusively to chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
Recently, I had a chance to talk to Dr. Wong about a variety of topics including: what exercises to avoid, the dangers of doing too much cardio, why training to failure is flawed for athletes, why testosterone levels are lower than ever, the benefits of growth hormone and how to raise it naturally, how to lower blood pressure naturally, how much protein is necessary for athletes, and the benefits of systemic enzymes for a variety of conditions.
MM: Dr. Wong thanks for taking the time to do the interview.
DW: Thanks Mike and glad to do it.
MM: Lets get started with physical training. What are the most common mistakes that people make with regards to working out?
DW: By far the most common mistake for folks, especially the enthusiastic first timers is over exercising. Everyone forgets that exercise is a stimulus response mechanism. If all we do is feed a stimulus with out giving the body time to adapt in response to that stimulus, the muscles will get to the point where they will not only succumb to injury but will also fail to respond fully to the stimulus of training and this will slow development.
MM: What will happen if trainees continue to over train?
DW: Eventually macro injury, in the form of muscle and tendon tears, increased joint wear, depressed immune function with susceptibility to infection, generalized fatigue, sloppy or degrading skills performance in sport, increased estrogen and cortisol levels which can lead to an increase in body fat from the waist to the knees.
MM: A common perception is athletes and very active people have strong immune systems and rarely get sick. Does not seem to be the case in the real world.
DW: There are now professional journals in sports medicine and exercise physiology dealing immune suppression issues in marathoners, triathletes and gym rats. Also, it is an unsustainable myth that hard training increases testosterone levels. In every credible study done on training and its effects on blood whether in college athletes, Olympians, or troops in training or in battle, the stress and physical fatigue of exercise, skill performance and physical activity decreases testosterone and increases estrogen.
MM: Does not sound good and we will talk more about testosterone and IGF-1 later in the interview. What exercises should trainees avoid?
DW: Here’s the short list off the top of my head:
- Wide grip pull downs or any pulldown with a pronated (palms away from you) grip. These movements are not only bio mechanically inefficient they murder the rotator cuff killing mostly the supraspinatus and terres muscles. Most folks quit the iron game when their shoulders get trashed out somewhere after 35. On the improper biomechanics: The lats have 160 degrees of range of motion when worked in the sagittal (front to back plane), to do that your palms need to be facing you to properly position your elbows. Turn your palms away from you and all of a sudden you are working on the transverse plane where the lats have only 60 to 80 degrees of ROM. Not only that but with out the bicep in the action your weak little elbow flexors will give out before the lats are saturated with exercise so the loss is doubled. The old wives tale of the lats having to work harder to make up for the biceps not being in the work would be true if the lats were connected to the elbow but they are not, they attach at the shoulder so that often told exercise pointer is absolute biomechanical hogwash!
- Next bad exercise: straight-legged deadlifts. These shear the ligaments at the sacro iliac joints and provide a crushing shearing action on the L4/5 and L5 / S1 discs.
- Finally, the full range of motion bench presses is bad news.
MM: A lot of readers will not be happy to see the beloved bench press on this list.
DW: No doubt. Regardless, the bench press is the single greatest destroyer of the rotator cuff in lifting. I can walk up to nearly any bench press lover and strum the long head of the bicipital tendon beneath the anterior deltoid and bring tears to their eyes. Pavel and the Russians are right, the floor bench press or 1/2 ROM bench press guards against this insult while making folks just as strong as the full ROM benches. No one over 35 should do full ROM bench presses!
MM: What is your view on running?
DW: There are better ways of conditioning the heart and lungs without pulverizing our joints, loosing muscle mass, destroying the immune system and giving oneself heart disease and vascular inflammation! Yes, addicted runners die of heart disease as a result of the vascular and cardiac inflammation they give themselves. Besides as Pavel says aerobics are not manly!
MM: What are the negatives of doing too much cardio and how much is too much?
DW: Addicted distance runners told us boldly from the late 70’s onward about how healthy they were (even though they looked as if they had just escaped from a concentration camp). Then in the 80’s their claims began to show some wear with running Guru Jim Fix dropping dead of a heart attack during a run. “He had a congenital heart anomaly,” the runners said. In the 90’s when a slew of healthy strong runners in their late 30’s to mid 40’s dropped dead from strokes and heart attacks medicine began to look at what else beside arterial plaque could have killed these folks. What they found was that these fellows all had great cholesterol, no arterial plaque, very strong heart muscles with no heart anomalies to speak of but they all had very high levels of vascular (blood vessel) and heart inflammation. This inflammation closed down the blood vessels leading to the heart or in the brain better and tighter than any arterial plaque ever could. We know now that arterial plaque and cholesterol is a distant third among the causes of heart attacks and strokes after inflammation and excessive fibrin in the blood (which cause clots).
MM: Thus, on of the major negatives of excessive running is the high h level of inflammation that follows.
DW: Yes, runners seldom give themselves a break. It is part of the mindset of a manic compulsive to do the same thing every day regardless of the consequences. High mileage in aerobic activities causes: excessive wear on the joints, loss of muscle mass, depression or outright collapse of the immune system, inflammation of the blood vessels and heart.
MM: What is the ideal amount of cardio work?
DW: To know how much aerobic work to do to benefit the heart and lungs while avoiding overwork and damage here are the parameters: The Scandinavian exercise physiologist Carvonin found in the 1960’s that the heart began to condition 5 min. after it got to a training heart rate. He used 60% of max as his guide. If it takes two minutes of work to get to a training heart rate and five minutes to gain a strengthening effect to the heart that makes seven minutes the minimum we need.
MM: The seven-minute cardio workout. Gotta love that. Seven minutes is the minimum required for a strengthening effect to the heart. What is the maximum?
DW: Ken Cooper (who used to advocate marathons until his running patients began to die off) has found that the heart stops conditioning at around abut 24 to 26 min. of work! Exercise beyond that point no longer strengthens the heart but contributes to the inflammatory process. He now says that anything over 3 miles 3 times a week or it’s equivalent is “done for reasons other than fitness”. So much for getting on a treadmill or stair climber for an hour! One note: with seniors we now know that they will condition at only 50% of max h.r.
MM: Great news for trainees that hate cardio and bad news for all of the cardio addicts out there. Where do you stand on the training to failure philosophy?
DW: I will admit to being duped early in my professional career thirty years ago. I was an advocate of training to failure even though all of the training I had done for the years prior to that were of the conventional power lifting / bodybuilding / Olympic lifting type. The research looked great, the immediate effects of one set to failure on a machine was wonderful but what changed my mind after four years of believing in such training was the fact that: the strength of the training to failure machines did not seem to transfer well to sports activities.
MM: Thus, the strength from training to failure was only useful in the context of the workout.
DW: Yes, I had noticed it and so did others that it was not transferring to athletics. Syracuse University did a study in the early 80’s that showed this. Then the question was what was at fault, the training principle or the gizmos used to train on? Turned out it was the training to failure principle. When athletes did regular sets and reps on the gizmos there was a better strengthening effect and a stronger transferring of the acquired strength to sports activities.
MM: Well, sounds like the training to failure concept is out for athletes.
DW: Yes and the long and the short of the debate is that training to failure was a technique invented to move people through commercial gyms faster with out taking too much time away from others by hogging a machine. It was an expedient measure made to facilitate the use and sales of exercise machines, which proved ok for the causal fitness, buff but fell short of being what serious strength athletes needed.
MM: Is training to failure useful at all or should it be disregarded all together.
DW: It is useful when you are severely pressed for time yet needing to work out occasional use of the training to failure principle is ok but I would not recommend it be done frequently.
MM: Lets talk about protein. The common advice today for athletes is at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. What do you think is the ideal amount?
DW: Studies done at two separate Olympics (’72 and ’76) showed that the hardest charging Olympian be they strength athletes or other wise did not need more than 1 gram of protein per 2.2 pounds (1 kilo) of body-weight per day. Bodybuilders were given the formula 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound by folks who wanted to sell them supplements. There isn’t a serious bodybuilder I’ve ever spoke about this to who does not have cloudy bubbly urine, a sign of protein being gotten rid of via the kidneys. Taking in too much protein causes kidney stones, the increased ammonia load from excess protein causes kidney scaring and this leads to decreased kidney function, which may lead to kidney failure in certain circumstances and death. The great killer of young strength athletes and runners is kidney failure. High protein intake or muscle loss (as muscle catobolized during distance running) = protein being excreted and an increased ammonia load. This combined with dehydration and occasional use of aspirin ibuprofen or the other NSAID’s meds has crashed many a set of kidneys and made a not a few athletes good looking corpses.
MM: Can you provide some examples?
DW: Of the 30+ kids who die playing football each year between jr. high and college most of those deaths happen during August two a day practices and are due to kidney failure and not to heat stroke or heart attacks. When told these facts most body builders don’t care. Muscle heads can’t think beyond their next contest. A bodybuilding doc I know gave a lecture to bodybuilders on the things they needed to avoid to not kill themselves. In the middle of his bit on kidney failure a voice pipes up from the back of the room “Die Big, Die Big”! When the entire rest of the audience took up the chant this doc gave up and went home. Happy renal failure and rhabdomyosis to you guys! Hope you like real pain.
MM: Does not paint a pretty picture for excessive protein intake. Lets move on and talk about your excellent systemic enzyme product. How did you come up with it?
DW: I can’t take credit for developing the enzymes or the science behind them, greater minds than mine did that but in short Dr. Max Wolf, and Austrian MD with 7 other PhD’s after his name developed a blend of enzymes to reduce inflammation, eat away at fibrosis, modulate immune function, clean the blood and act as a mild anti viral and anti bacterial agents. Drug companies in the US were not interested. He worked at Columbia Univ. for Pfizer and the company acknowledged the research and clinical work was valid but since you can’t patent nature, they saw no income coming from it. So Dr. Wolf took the blend to Germany where he established a company to make and promote the enzymes. So successful was he that the enzymes were accepted into general medicine and we see systemic enzymes being used by nearly every Olympic and pro team in Europe.
MM: How do enzymes work and what are the benefits?
DW: With out getting long winded the best explanation on how and what systemic enzymes do to greatly enhance both health and exercise recovery can be found in my article: “What Are Systemic Enzymes” found in the archives of www.drwong.us also folks can listen to my lecture on Systemic Enzymes at www.drwongradio.com
In short systemic enzymes:
a) Reduce inflammation without the toxicity of the NSAID or cortisone drugs (enzymes have no LD-50).
b) Are the only things in conventional or natural medicine that can lyse (eat) away at scar tissue and fibrosis. As to why this is important either listen to the lecture or read my article Fibrosis the Enemy of Life at www.drwong.us
Since most of what kills us is either an “itis” (an inflammation) or an “osis” (a fibrosis condition) the enzymes are a perfect healthy and non-toxic way of keeping those things at bay. To see the science behind the enzymes please read the research abstracts at: www.enzymescience.com
MM: Testosterone is a big topic these days and low testosterone seems to be more and more prevalent in men. What are some of the common factors contributing to low Testosterone levels?
DW: The low testosterone levels we see in guys these days is due to a few overlapping factors all relating back to one thing – estrogen. Many baby boys born since 1973 have had soy formula with it’s phyto estrogen mucking up their works. A boy age 6 months to 3 years has the testosterone level of an 18-year-old man! A bottle of soy formula has the equivalent by weight of 5 to 8 estrogen birth control pills in it! Multiply that by the number of bottles fed a day and the estrogen load is enormous! What happens when all the E suppresses a boys T? It is this T that tells the anterior pituitary to develops tiny part of itself and it is that part of the body that tells a boy that he’s a guy! In autopsies done on over 3000 gay men who died of HIV, I believe it was Dr. Lendon Smith the famous pediatrician who reported that homosexual men did not have this portion of the anterior pituitary! Since that part develops in early childhood from the combination of testosterone, salt and calcium and since homosexual men are high in estrogen and DHT but low in testosterone and generally as a group have low serum calcium and low serum sodium we can see where the problem arises! Trans-gender support groups have discovered where their dysfunction has arisen from and now they are in the lead in warning about the dangers of soy and environmental estrogens on the development of children. Email me for studies on the negatives of Soy.
MM: Where else are we being bombarded with estrogen?
DW: Next we have all the pesticides, fertilizers, soy in all food, flax etc. One form of estrogen atop another acting as endocrine disruptors we now have two generations of men since the 70’s with: smaller penis size both flaccid and erect than previous generations, lower testosterone levels, higher estrogen levels, dreadfully lower sperm counts, higher incidences of sexual mental dimorphism (not being sure what sex they are), and I fear reaching andropause around 35 or 40 instead of 45 to 50 all because of the estrogen in their food and environment.
On sperm count, in the 1960’s a man was considered fertile only if he had over 100,000 sperm per ml. of semen. Things have gotten so bad that now a guy is considered fertile if he can make a measly 20,000 sperm per ml! Dr. Doris Rapp MD the worlds leading environmental doc and pediatric allergist has looked at the data and predicts that by 2045 only 21% of the men on the entire planet will be fertile. In all of Africa, Europe, Japan and many other countries deaths exceed births. This will have devastating effect on world economies as pensioners will drastically out number those paying into pension plans! I call this the Zardoz effect after the old Sean Connery movie where he was the last fertile man on earth.
MM: Lets get into specifics. What can be done to increase T levels?
DW: Testosterone levels in men and women decline from 27 onward and seriously decline from 35 onward until by 40-45 most men are estrogen dominant and have more estrogen floating round their bodies than their wives do! Since all of our drive both mental, physical and sexual is derived from testosterone, since the spark that keeps us interested in life and enjoying it is derived from testosterone it behooves us not to succumb to natures planned obsolesce and let ourselves get E dominant and T deficient!.
A few things can be done to naturally raise one’s own testosterone levels are:
Libido Lift herbal capsules 4 caps 3 to 4 times daily.
Doctors Testosterone Gel (has no real testosterone but has herbs and homeopathics that stimulate out own production). Two to three applications of the gel daily. Especially before bed and early afternoon (since we make T twice daily between 2 and 4 AM and 2 and 4 PM). It can also be applied some 20 to 30 min. before training or sex.
Maca powder: This south American root is kin to a turnip but tastes like butterscotch, has plant sterols that are precursors to both testosterone and progesterone the good hormones and has Di Indole Methane (DIM) to block estrogen from tissues three to six teaspoons of the stuff a day should be minimum. The capsules of this stuff won’t work as they don’t contain enough Maca to make a difference regardless of how “extracted and concentrated” they claim to be.
These three supplements in combination work very well to elevate T levels in those whose pituitaries and testicles still function to make hormones. All of these supplements are available at www.docsprefer.com
MM: What about dietary advice for increasing testosterone levels?
DW: The only dietary advice I can think of off hand to increase T levels is: don’t let your cholesterol get below 180. The body stops making hormones then. In India where most are vegetarian Hindus, milk and eggs are a dietary staple to increase the intake of animal fats, which are some of the best sources of cholesterol from which to make hormones.
Eat a lot of MACA. This Andean butterscotch tasting turnip has the plant sterols that are immediate precursors to testosterone and progesterone and it also has Di Indole Methane to block estrogen use by the tissues. In Peru it is used to increase fertility and libido, which are both functions of testosterone. By the way men do need progesterone, it blocks the conversion of testosterone to estrogen and blocks both the T and E from becoming Di Hydro Testosterone the hair loss and swollen prostate hormone. Consume at least three to six teaspoons of maca every day. In South America maca is put into baked goods cookies breads and cakes, into stews and taken plain. I drop a teaspoon of the powder in my mouth and drink water to chase it down.
MM: How important is growth hormone for health and well-being?
DW: Funny you bring that up. Just heard today about a study that showed that an increase of 12% in IGF 1 levels is equal to adding 10 years to your life!
MM: Wow! Besides decreasing life span, what else happens when IGF-1 gets low?
DW: IGF 1 is a wonderful anti aging, muscle-sustaining hormone that gets low with high stress levels. There is some controversy to using IGF-1 or HGH (which releases IGF-1). The geriatric docs say the IGF-1 can cause cancer. The anti-aging MD’s say hogwash. The final word comes from the oncologists who use IGF-1 to fight cancer. Used to be we would expect to see lowered IGF-1 in a person 35 to 40 +. These days there are 20 some things with very low IGF-1! IGF-1 gives not only muscle and bone mass but also increased immunity, greater mental power and maintains brain and internal organ size (which shrinks and becomes fibrotic with age. Read my article Fibrosis The Enemy Of Life at www.drwong.us to find out why and how). Having IGF-1 levels go south in one’s 20’s is noting but bad and likely will take decades off the lives of the X’rs and Y generations unless changed. Already I’ve seen my boomer generation come down with things like strokes and heart attacks in our 40’s that should not have happened till our 60’s. So what will happen to the X’ers and Y’s in their 40’s if the trends for the good hormones (i.e. testosterone, progesterone, IGF 1, oxytocin) continue downward?
MM: Do you recommend GH injections?
DW: The much touted HGH injections so prized by anti aging docs are a way of causing the body to release IGF 1, but that’s a long and expensive way round the barn. $11,000 to 12,000 a year expensive to be precise. IGF- 1 is abundant in the velvet that covers deer antlers. The male deer shed their antlers every year, the velvet from these can be collected and the IGF-1 extracted. There is a deer farm in New Zealand that has the largest herd of Chinese red deer in the world and this is where all of the IGF-1 sublingual spray products are made regardless of who puts their label on it. It’s all from the same source; www.nowfoods.com sublingual sells their IGF-1 sublingual spray for about $25, a full fifty to sixty dollars less than most of the other folks who carry the product do.
MM: Blood pressure seems to be on the rise at a rapid pace. What advice do you have for lowering blood pressure?
DW: On lowering blood pressure I have a two prong approach:
a) taking systemic enzymes to lyse away the fibrin clogs that plus up the micro circulation and reduce full circulation to the extremities, (peripheral vascular resistance). PVR is equal to having high pressure at the kitchen tap when all the other water taps in the house are closed.
b) Do strength training and build miles and miles of new blood vessels. This better feed tissue as well as reduces peripheral vascular resistance further.
Between the two it’s like opening all the water taps in the house, pressure at the kitchen tap goes down. It must be said that there are 2 reasons for high blood pressure: Peripheral Vascular Resistance and Kidney Damage. When this technique does not work then we know the patient has a good bit of kidney damage and that is the cause of their higher BP.
MM: What about taking CoQ10?
DW: Co Q 10 is an essential for heart health as is Vit. E. On the Co Q 10 the dose should be equal to the persons age in decades or if there is heart pathology then 150 to 300 mg daily. On the Vit. E there has been much junk medical science made by drug companies to disprove the effectiveness of vitamins so they can sell you their expensive drugs instead. 1200 to 1600 IU of E are needed daily as well and the hearts favorite mineral Magnesium. With out you’ll not only have constipation, night cramps, muscle spasms and a build up of calcium in arterial plaque but in the extreme of mag deficiency you’ll get irregular heart beat (arrhythmia). Of mag we need 1000 to 2000 mg daily. In some folks this can cause the runs so they can use magnesium glycinate the only form of the mineral that does not cause loose stools.
MM: Recently you came out with a book on sexual health. How is your book different from other books on the market?
DW: Most books on men’s sexual performance are written by non experts, guys like “Big Joe From Brooklyn” and the text covers nothing scientific or medical but reads like porn. Other books on sexual performance are so full of fluff and needless, useless prattle, that out of 100+ pages the real advice or techniques come in the last 5 pages of the work. My men’s pro-sexual book “The Care And Feeding Of A Penis” has no porn or nude male pictures, is filled with immediately useful information in every chapter and from penis size, to sperm count from peyronies to erectile dysfunction there is something to benefit every man from 27 to 97! It is the users manual we should have come with! To make it accessible world wide with out having to pay the VAT (taxes) usually imposed on book imports we have offered the book as a downloadable E book. It’s available from www.drwongsbooks.com.
MM: Well this is certainly going to be a controversial interview to say the least. Thank you for taking the time to do the interview and keep up the great work.
DW: You are very welcome and I look forward to talking to you again. I would like to invite your readers to check out my website: www.drwong.us.