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From The Desk Of Clarence Bass

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The pain of discipline weighs ounces, but the pain of neglect weighs tons.
Arno Jensen, M.D., Radiology & Preventive Medicine,
Cooper Clinic, Dallas, Texas

Cooper Clinic 4th Visit - Clarence's Health "Incredibly Good" at 60

Results In Brief

bulletTreadmill------------------------------------99th percentile
bulletBody fat-------------------------------------99th percentile
bulletBlood pressure------------------------------105/70
bulletBlood lipids---------------------------------"Excellent"
bulletCoronary arteries---------------------------"Very Large"
bulletBone Density-------------------------------"Wonderful"
bulletNutritional Evaluation-----------------------"Just Outstanding"
bulletExercise Program---------------------------"Well Balanced" "Sensible"

Aerobic Fitness

My first visit to the world-famous Cooper Clinic was at age 50. David Prokop, who went along to write an article for Muscle & Fitness, described the treadmill stress test as a "journey to nowhere." That's because the final destination isn't a place, but a state of total fatigue. The treadmill begins at 3.30 MPH on flat and rises 1% per minute to 25% grade; then the grade remains constant and the speed increases 0.2 MPH each minute. The test is over when the subject can no longer keep up. The treadmill always wins, of course. As you can imagine, in the last few minutes as exhaustion approaches, it gets quite uncomfortable. The truth is, for anyone planning to exert a maximum effort it's a little frightening. It's a test of will as well as stamina.

My first treadmill test, where I lasted 28 minutes and scored well above the 99th percentile for men 50-59, was the easiest from a mental standpoint. I had no basis for comparison. I didn't know what to expect. I just stepped on and kept going as long as I could. The next year, when I did even better (29 minutes), was a lot more anxiety producing. Knowing only too well what to expect, I tossed and turned the night before, agonizing over the last few minutes where anyone in their right mind would want to throw in the towel.

On my last visit, five years ago, I did 28:37. I put too much pressure on myself, however. I overtrained and ended up getting sick on my return home.

As the article on this site by Richard Winett explained, this time around my goal was to equal my initial time at 50. Twenty-eight minutes was a realistic target. My bodybuilding results convinced me that being 60 was not a limiting factor. But about two months out from the test, I realized to make 28 minutes I'd have to add more aerobic training. Unfortunately, that would probably cost me some muscle mass and mean less impressive physique photos to mark the end of my sixth decade. (It might also lead to overtraining and illness as it had in 1992.) The choice was between a great treadmill time or great bodybuilding condition. I chose the latter. I stuck with a very intense 30 minute aerobic session performed once a week (plus walking). It was the correct decision. My photos turned out to be perhaps my best ever. And, except for Carl Miller's snoring, I slept soundly the night before the test. (More about Carl below.)

Dr. Jensen checks my vital signs prior to the test.
(Photo by Carl Miller)

My time was 25 minutes and 15 seconds, which again put me in the 99th percentile for my age group - and in the excellent (87th percentile) category for men in their 30s.

(I'm planning to return to the Cooper Clinic next year. I'll emphasize aerobic training more and hopefully post a substantially better time. As a matter of fact, I've already done 26 minutes - at Albuquerque's mile-high altitude and at a heart rate of 181, compared to 186 in Dallas.)

Coronary Artery Size & Bone Density

Since my last visit, the Cooper Clinic has installed a new CT scan machine (high resolution, volume-mode, axial Electron Beam Tomography). In simple terms, this machine allows the doctors to x-ray a person's internal organs and bones in tiny slices and reconstruct the results in 3D on a computer monitor. It's like a tiny space ship moving around inside the body and taking picture of everything. Dr. Thomas E. Kimball used computer reconstruction to explain the results to Carl and me.

Two findings stand out.

First, my coronary arteries are very large, "huge" was the word Dr. Jensen used. Arnie, as Dr. Jensen prefers to be called, says my years of aerobic exercise produced the large arteries, which substantially lower my risk of developing obstructive coronary artery disease.

The CT scan also revealed that I have exceptionally good bone mineral content, more than two standard deviations above the norm for my age. As a matter of fact, as the graph below illustrates, my bone density is more than one standard deviation above the norm for a 20-year-old. Arnie termed my bone density "wonderful" and attributed it to my long history of weight training. (The "x" shows that my bone density is "off the chart.")

Graph photo by Carl Miller

Nutritional Evaluation

Dr. Jensen had me prepare an accurate daily food record for computer analysis by one of the clinic's registered dietitians. That was easy because I've kept a training diary for years (decades actually) which includes what I eat every day. It's basically the same as the meal plans described in my books: lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, with protein provided by ample quantities of skimmed milk and nonfat plain yogurt, plus a few ounces of chicken and extra-lean beef, and some seeds and nuts. I also supplement with a few tablespoons of our own milk and egg protein powder and a complete multi-vitamin/mineral packet. (The protein powder was included in the analysis, but the multi was not.)

I don't calculate the exact percentage of carbohydrate, protein and fat in my diet - I know generally that my diet is high carb, medium protein and low fat - so it was interesting to learn the exact breakdown: complex carbs 58%, Protein 29%, Fat 12% (Saturated 3%, Polyunsaturated 4%, monounsaturated 4%) and sugar 1%.

As explained in my books, I don't count calories either. I prefer - it's much easier - to follow a uniform eating pattern and monitor my body weight and composition.

The computer totaled my calorie intake at 2412. My dietary fiber, as expected, was high at 58 grams. All of my vitamin and mineral requirements were well satisfied (again, not counting the multi I take for insurance).

In his final report, Dr. Jensen wrote, "Your nutritional evaluation is just outstanding." ... "I am impressed with your diet - good job."

Commenting on my calorie intake , Arnie said the normal intake for a sedentary man my size would be about 1,650, but 2400 is "just about right considering your exercise." My high percentage of active lean tissue, of course, gives me a faster metabolism. My body burns more calories around the clock.

My protein intake at 29% (179 grams) is higher than the 10-20% usually recommended by dietitians. But, according to Dr. Jensen, it's not high for me. "I would recommend that you continue a high protein diet like that," he wrote.

As I reported in The Lean Advantage 3, the latest research says that hard-training athletes may actually need twice as much protein as an inactive person. "Significantly," I wrote, "if you work hard at both strength and endurance training (as I do), your protein needs may be the greatest of all athletes."

Still, as my latest evaluation shows, even a person like me eating a near-vegetarian diet can easily meet the newly discovered protein requirement for the hardest training athletes.

From the time I took up weight training as a teenager, I've taken care to include some high-quality protein (mostly nonfat dairy products in recent years) with every meal. I never lose sight of the fact, however, that excess calories from any source - carbs, fat or protein - build fat, not muscles. Most athletes, especially bodybuilders, grossly overdose on protein.

Words To Live By

Dr. Jensen, a warm and wonderful guy who practices what he preaches (see Dave Prokop's article on this site about my first visit to the Cooper Clinic) wrapped up his nine page report with these encouraging comments, encouraging not only to me but to anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle:

	Clarence, I am so impressed by you.  You certainly
	have proven that you can have outstanding strength
	fitness and aerobic fitness, outstanding percent 
	body fat, excellent lipids, and wonderful bone 
	density with a well-balanced and sensible exercise 
	and dietary program.  I think you and I have both 
	proven that consistency and reasonable discipline is
	the key.  The pain of discipline weighs ounces, but 
	the pain of neglect weighs tons.  I wish everyone 
	could be half as disciplined and half as consistent
	as you have been all of your life....If you have got
	your health and nothing else, you are certainly very
	rich.  If you have all of the material things
	you want and not your health, I feel you are very poor. 


Arnie & me at the end of the daylong evaluation
(Photo by Carl Miller)

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About Carl

I promised a few words about Carl Miller, who went along to see the Cooper Clinic and take photos.

I've made it a practice to bring a friend on each of my visits to the Cooper Clinic, someone interested in the wonderful work done there, and who also brings a special expertise or perspective of interest to Dr. Jensen and his colleagues.

David Prokop, who has the unique distinction of having been editor of both Runner's World and Muscle & Fitness, went with me in both 1988 and 1989. Richard Winett, a distinguished health psychologist who teaches at Virginia Tech and publishes the Master Trainer newsletter - he's been an avid weight trainer for almost 40 years - came to Dallas to observe my 1992 evaluation. Physical culture historian Dr. Terry Todd was also there to witness the treadmill test in 1992. Terry is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Texas, Austin; he and his wife Dr. Jan Todd co-edit Iron Game History (See "Publications about Past Iron Game Greats" on this site).

Carl Miller does snore - and loudly, I discovered - but he may also be the world's leading exponent of Olympic style lifting (the snatch, clean and jerk and other related quick lifts) for men and women of all ages and levels of fitness. A former United States Olympic Weightlifting Coach, Carl and his wife Sandra own and operate a gym in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which I believe is unique in all the world. Their program incorporates over 200 variations of Olympic style lifts and other exercises to increase not only muscle and strength, but cardiovascular fitness as well. Carl says their system "makes men look like gymnasts and women look like dancers."  You can visit their gym on the web at http://www.carlandsandras.com/.

Carl and Dr. Jensen hit it off right away. Arnie plans to visit Carl and Sandra in Santa Fe to learn more about their "Olympic-style weightlifting - Plus" system of training.

Thanks, Coach Miller (Carl and I first met as competitors at the Teenage National Weightlifting Championship, and we've been friends ever since) for keeping me company. You were a delightful traveling companion. But you really do need to do something about that snoring!

(For information on the value of the quick lifts see "Keep That Spring" on this site.)

Don't miss the never-before seen photos of Clarence at 41, 48 and 60, Go pics

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Ripped Enterprises, 528 Chama, N.E., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87108,
Phone: (505) 266-5858, e-mail: cncbass@aol.com, FAX (505) 266-9123, Office Hours 8-5, M-F, Mountain time.

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