Why You Need Explosive Strength, No Matter Who You Are

Mind Muscle Connection

Want to get stronger, leaner, and more athletic? You need to get more explosive.

Yes, I’m looking at you — no matter who you are and why you’re working out.

In this blog post, you will learn:

  • How training explosively helps you lose fat and build  lean muscle
  • Why explosive movement turns your stale strength into explosive, real-world athleticism
  • How to effectively get more explosive in only five minutes per workout
  • How to put these tips into action in a free Seven Days to Superhuman Course. Click here to Join the FREE Course.

Explosive Strength
Take a look around the gym. It’s rare to bump into a lifter who’s athletic, strong, explosive, and mobile.

But when you do?

Well, you know it.

These are the “so-called weight room freaks.”  

Everything they do in the gym looks easy. Heavy deadlifts? No problemo. Cossack squats? Mega dittos. Yep, they have the mobility of gymnasts. Biceps curls? I mean…Yes. Look at big, veiny, triumphant biceps.

 

Oh, and power cleans, jumps, and explosive movements? Well, they look as quick as a cat and as smooth as ex-lax (as my client Wyre would say.)  

Still, these folks are rare. But rare and “impossible” are two different animals.  We should all strive to put our best foot forward.

And while a good number of my clients come to me with the goal of “looking good naked,” the majority of ladies and gents’ I train are after the total package:

A healthy body that look performs like an athlete, looks good naked and provides them with the energy and confidence to crush any task in front of them.

But what if you’re not a competitive athlete?

Cool. Most of my clients aren’t either. But the principles of power will help you lose fat, build more muscle, have more energy, and maintain your athleticism.

Most of my clients aren’t either. But the principles of power will help you lose fat, build more muscle, have more energy, and maintain your athleticism.

But the principles of power will help you lose fat, build more muscle, have more energy, and maintain your athleticism.

Why Add Power Training To Your Workouts

Explosive StrengthGet stronger and more athletic. By learning to generate strength faster, you’ll improve your ability to perform athletic movements.  This could mean breaking a plateau on a squat, regaining your first step on the basketball court, or having the “fast twitch” make-up to catch yourself before falling on the ice.

Lose body fat. Explosive exercises help you lose fat in two ways. First, explosive movements take an all out, intense focus that helps you burn through stored glucose.

Second, you probably haven’t added done these movements for a while and with learning any new skill, your body and brain are working overtime to figure out the movement. When you’re inefficient with a movement it becomes more metabolically demanding. This is the same reason running works like a charm for the first few weeks if you haven’t done it in a while…then stops working. In other words, doing the things you suck at can be a valuable weapon in your fat loss arsenal. 

Open the door for new muscle growth. I’ve covered this topic here and here, so without diving too far down the rabbit hole, you need to know this: The more muscle fibers you activate, the more muscle fibers you can fatigue with muscle building methods to gain size. Increasing muscle fiber activation opens the door to train untapped muscle fibers for explosive growth.

Power: The Missing Piece to Building your High-Performance Body

Explosive StrengthPlenty of lifters are strong. But there’s more to life than big deadlift, bench, or squat numbers.  If you want to transfer your “beast mode” from the gym to the hardwood or playing field, strength isn’t enough. You need to generate strength fast in a manner that mimics the demands of your chosen activity, whether it’s pickup basketball or beer league softball.

Power = Strength X Speed, or the ability to generate strength fast.

 

How to Increase Muscular Power

You need to incorporate strength and speed to create power.  This stems from the work of Harvard physiology professor, Dr. Elwood Henneman, and the Size Principle research he released in 1965. Dr. Henneman looked at the function of motor neurons. Motor neurons are nerve cells located in your spinal cord which relay signals from your brain to control organs, muscles, and glands.

Dr. Henneman found the greater the nerve impulse to a motor neuron, the greater your muscle’s ability to generate strong or explosive moment.

What he found was there are two ways to increase motor unit recruitment (which helps you generate more strength and power in the gym):

(1) Lift heavier weights. You probably already do this.

(2) Lift lighter weights (or move your body) faster. You need more of this.

Above all, you need to get strong first.

This encompasses both absolute strength and relative strength.

Absolute Strength: Being able to lift big weights or big resistance. Examples: 1-Rm Squat, pushing a car.  

Relative Strength: Being strong for your size, moving your body through space. Examples:  Sprint, chin-up, jump and move on the beach.

Both absolute and relative strength are important. But, for power, you need to generate usable strength fast, both against resistance and with your body.

Train and become explosive.

This comes from moving lighter weights (or your body) with as much explosive intent as you can.

So, what’s the missing ingredient in your training? If I had to guess, it would be lighter, more explosive movement.

Like lifting heavy, lifting lighter weights with maximum explosive intent places a similar “demand” on the nervous system to recruit muscle fibers with less stress.

Benefits of Lifting Lighter Weights

Greater Muscle fiber recruitment. Greater muscle fiber recruitment increases the number of muscle fibers stimulated in a workout.This opens the door for fatiguing more muscle fibers if hypertrophy is the goal.

Less Central Nervous System (CNS) Stress. Anyone who’s knocked out a max squat can tell you you’re body feels stale and wrecked for a few days after the max. Heavy lifting coupled with our on-demand lifestyles leaves most lifters a mess. We’re overstressed, under-rested cortisol ridden messes the way it is. Improve sleep quality, meditate, ditch the LCD screen, and chill out more. Drop the frequency of maximal lifting for explosive, lighter lifting.

Less Joint Stress.  I’m a meathead at heart and love hoisting big weights. Still, overzealous near maximal lifting is a joint killer. Sore damaged joints can crush training consistency and long-term progress. Lighter, more explosive lifting can decrease this stress while helping preserve strength and CNS efficiency.

Increased Training Frequency. Training frequency is important for motor learning, building strength, and building muscle. The more often you can train with adequate recovery, the better your results. Lifting lighter with explosive intent decreases stress and allows lifters to hit the iron more often.

With these benefits in mind, here’s how you can build more power and a leaner, more athletic body.

Submaximal Weight Training

One popular variety of explosive sub-maximal explosive training was coined the dynamic effort method by Westside Barbell’s Louie Simmons.

Whether you’re a powerlifter or not, your takeaway is this: generate maximum bar speed on your lifts to increase the efficiency of your CNS to bust through frustrating strength plateaus and improve muscle fiber recruitment.

This means:

  • Instead of lifting slow and controlled on your squat, go a bit lighter and be as explosive as you can on the way “up.”
  • Apply this principle to any compound lift and you’ll notice a big difference.

Add lighter Olympic lifting movements like a clean, snatch, high pull, or push press. Don’t grind the lifts, stay light and explosive.

Don’t make it too complicated. Instead of only lifting heavy add in lighter, explosive work 1-2x per week to reap any of the same benefits while adding more athleticism and less joint stress.  
Explosive Strength
Lightly loaded or bodyweight exercises are the best way to build pain-free power.

These exercises are the most similar to movements you would perform in a sport, like a jump in basketball and a box jump in the gym.

The reason these work so well? Lighter and more explosive movements help you recruit more muscle fiber.


Improved Intramuscular and Intermuscular Coordination

<<Science nerd-speak alert>>

Feel free to skip this section. The main point is lighter, more explosive movements help you recruit more muscle fibers. Doing a movement that is biomechanically similar to a sports movement, like a squat and a jump, refines how “smooth” your movement is.

But you’re still reading, aren’t you, you beautiful nerd?

Intramuscular coordination is the secret sauce separating smooth, explosive athletes from rigid, uncoordinated ones. Intramuscular coordination is the coordinated firing of motor units within a single movement.

There are three main components when looking at when looking at improved intramuscular coordination:

Rate Coding: The capacity to increase firing rate (motor unit discharge rate) in order to express more strength.

Recruitment: Recruiting more motor units when performing a muscular action.

Synchronization: The ability of muscle units to contract together with minimal delay.

Through using multiple loads across the force-velocity curve we’re able to improve intramuscular coordination. In time, this teaches the nervous system to recruit fewer motor units for the same relative intensity.

More motor units are available for activation for higher intensity exercise. This translates into more weight on the bar (more strength), a faster sprinting speed (improved athleticism), or the ability to jump and land without blowing your knee, and run up court after the 20 something’s at your gym (improved athleticism).

 

How To Improve Your Power

Assuming you have a solid foundation of strength….

Continue training with heavy, multi-joint exercises and explosive intent on reach rep. This maintains your strength foundation and in effect, gives you a higher “ceiling” to generate power.

When warming up, accelerate every rep to the best of your ability to fire up your CNS, recruit more muscle fibers, and in time, become more efficient.

Incorporate lighter, explosive movement BEFORE your main lift for the day to fire up your CNS for better performance. Ideally, you’ll work an explosive movement pattern similar to your main lift for the day. Squats and jumps are a great pair. Jumps and bench presses?

Not so much.

I recommend one of the following twice per week for three sets of five reps for 60-90 seconds rest.

 

Before you hit a shoulder press/train upper body try these exercises.

Overhead Medicine Ball Slam

Medicine Ball Push Press

Before you squat, deadlift, or train your lower body try these exercises.

Squat Jump Squat

Broad Jump

Box Jump

The Takeaway

Few people are blessed with the genetics to be strong, lean, and powerful. Even fewer know had to add explosive training to their repertoire for building a show and go high-performance body.

Focus on moving with explosive intent. You’ll generate pain-free power and boost your athleticism. You’ll build a strong, lean, and athletic body.

Do you want to build a high-powered, athletic body?

Enroll in your FREE 7 Days to the Superhuman course.

I’ll send you my top workout tricks, tips, and secrets to build your best body in record time.

 

JOIN THE ELITE 10%

90% of lifters make excuses, get overwhelmed, and never get jacked. The other 10%? They reside in the Bach Performance Community. Sign up today for the latest scientifically proven, experienced backed tips to get you jacked. I’ll show you how in our FREE course Seven Days to Superhuman.

Click here to Join the FREE Course.

Seven Keys To Success For Online Personal Trainers

When it comes to building online businesses, smart fitness trainers know that the future is already here. After all, almost everyone now shops online.

For many trainers, gone is the dream of a owning a bricks and mortar gym. Who wants to clean toilets and get up at 5 AM forever, anyway?

The new dream is all about freedom and flexibility. Trainers want to work online or combine in-person and online training in a hybrid model.

Why the switch? In two words: Time and money.

The average trainer works over 55 hours per week in split shifts and makes roughly $32,000 per year, without benefits or job security. That sucks!

But running an online business gives you the ability to:

  • Reach people anywhere in the world, rather than being limited you to your local area.
  • Work FROM  anywhere in the world. Yes, you can work from your couch in your pajamas. Or from a beach hut in your swimsuit.
  • Say goodbye to having your boss change your compensation scheme overnight (in a way that always screws you.)

You can make a great living by doing it your way. But here’s the dirty little secret no one tells you:

Building an online business is hard.

You need to be the fitness expert, head marketer, and content creator all at once. You’ll also be the tech team and the admin team.

Not the four-hour week you imagined, right?

Now, you can develop all these skills with time, dedication, and hard work.

And if you hire a business coach (or in our case, coaches), you’ll speed up the learning curve to retake your freedom and make money faster.

The goal of this post is to highlight the rules you need to master to build a successful online business.

1. Know Your Ideal Client

If you attempt to please everyone, you’ll please no one.

For example, you can’t be an expert in Zumba hip thrust classes, post-surgical shoulder rehab, and a top coach for physique athletes.  

Recently, I heard Eric Cressey say he’s turned down NFL combine training for the better part of a decade. Could he do it and do it well? Sure. But his specialization is shoulder care and helping overhead athletes. By staying in his lane and becoming the best, he’s built a top brand in the industry.

Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, niche down.

Who is (or was) your best and favorite client? Focus on helping them. Discover their biggest weaknesses, fears, and goals. Then create solutions to conquer them.

How old are they?

What sex? (“Yes, please” isn’t an option.)

What do they think when they stumble out of bed and see themselves in the mirror every morning?

At the end of the day, what is their biggest goal…to look great naked because they’ll feel confident in their own skin?

What are their obstacles to eating healthy and working out?

Find out how to reach your ideal clients here.  

Here’s the Executive Summary. Know your ideal clients well. Speak their language. And provide a solution better than anyone else.  

2. Solve Your Ideal Client’s Biggest Problem

Create content that solves your ideal clients’  biggest problems. A great resource here is Quora, an open online forum. These give you an idea of the exact questions potential clients have.

Chances are, the questions your potential clients are asking are much different from what you want to read. Remember, your business is predicated on solving your ideal clients biggest problems; not impressing your peers. 

You can have the perfect lead generation strategy or email funnel, but this won’t matter if you’re not changing lives.

Online Fitness Business

Kudos to our former Hybrid Fit Biz Mentee Mitch Calvert for sharing this.

3. Be Ferociously Persistent

These were the parting words from my undergrad mentor, Dr. Jeff Janot. In the world of online business, passion isn’t enough. Everyone has passion, but passion doesn’t build a business or pay your bills.

You need to create value by helping your ideal clients solve their biggest problem. Post a short video or text post on Facebook every day. Shoot an exercise video on a technique most people screw up.

Yes, you can use short term tactics to get someone into a fitness challenge, but short term tactics yield short-term results.

Instead, play the long game. Focus on creating massive value day in and day out. This is how you build your reputation and your position of authority. It’s also how you get clients to know, like, trust, and buy from you.

Like your clients who try to lose weight, consistency is key. You can’t have gaps. Be ferociously persistent in providing value.  You’ll be terrible and everything will be hard…at first.

Think about your clients’ first time in the gym. They didn’t know what a dumbbell was.

They thought deadlifts were something gravediggers did.

And anterior pelvic tilt? Hmmm.

But you taught them. You started small, focusing on one thing at a time. As they learned, you taught them new terms, new skills, and made them comfortable in the gym.

You’ll undergo the same process when building an online business.

When I started my online business I didn’t know what copywriting was.

I didn’t know what email marketing meant.

I thought SEO was a word, not an acronym (yeah, seriously.)

You’ll go through the same battle. Everything will be new, everything will be frustrating, and you’ll feel overwhelmed.

This is okay. It’s part of the game and how you learn.

This is one reason to seek out mentors who have done what you’d like to do: so gain a clear direction on where you need to focus, build your skills quickly, and start building now. 

4. Be Proactive First, Reactive Later

If you’re like most trainers you hustle for every session. Since you’re paid by the hour, the more clients you serve, the more money you’ll make.

The problem?

If you’re only working on your business you won’t grow. Instead, protect your time and work on your business.

When I was starting my online business and training clients 50-60 hours per week here’s what I did:

Tuesday and Thursday I migrated clients off my early morning schedule and into a small group on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This gave me one to two hours to work on writing articles, creating products, or creating coaching offers.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I woke up at 3:30 am (yes, this sucked, embrace it) to write for 60-90 minutes before my first clients at 6:00 am. With practice, I went from writing crummy blog posts only my mom read (love you, mom ) to writing for The PTDC, T-Nation, CNN, Yahoo, and  Bodybuilding.com.

Sure, you can put this off until later in the afternoon, but willpower is a muscle which fatigues as your days goes on. Get up earlier, do one proactive task each morning and move on with your day.

5. Go to Live Events

An online business gives you the tools to change lives and build close bonds without meeting in person. Still, nothing replaces the in-person interactions you’ll build by seeing people in person.

Go to events where both your colleagues and potential buyers will be. Go to dinners and hell…buy a round of drinks or the whole dinner. The internet offers great opportunities, but nothing replaces the authenticity you’ll build by meeting people in person.

6. Make One Sale

Most trainers struggle online. The biggest culprit is the endless stream of information on how to build a business hitting your inbox or social media feed.

This makes you feel overwhelmed with so many possibilities that it’s damn near impossible to get started.

Instead of looking for the grandiose, catch all plan keep it simple and do this activity:

Grab a piece of paper and write the following question at the top.

“If you had to make $100 today with your new business what would you do?”

Now, take 15 minutes and write every idea you come up with.

When you make your first sale?  Congrats, you’ve made your first dollar. If not, find out where you need to improve or move on to the next item.

Either way, focus on making your first dollar. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough by trying to reinvent the wheel. Focus on getting one sale and build from there.

7. Master Your Product or Service

The baseline of any successful business is being able to solve problems. Yes, you can become a successful online trainer without training clients in-person. Still, this is the exception, not the expectation.

Do yourself a favor and work in a gym. If not, take clients for free and hone your skills with different types of people with different goals. The better coach you are in person, the greater your foundation and the better chance you have to succeed online.

 

Online Fitness Business

 

This list is by no means everything you needed to be successful, but it will cut through the fluff and leave you with the foundational principles.

You’ll stop trading dollars for hours as a trainer. You’ll make more money in less time. With consistent effort, you’ll build a profitable online business.

Your passion and desire to help others got you into personal training. But are you really living the life you deserve?

You can’t keep working split shifts from 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM while neglecting time with family, friends, and loved ones.

It’s time to work smarter and reap the financial rewards you deserve.

You don’t want to become another burnt out, passionless trainer who’s barely making ends meet. That’s not the life that you want to live.

You’ve seen trainers become successful with online personal training. Can you afford to fall behind while the competition grows?

No. But like someone who’s new to the gym, you don’t know where to start.

You need the mentorship of coaches who have walked the walk and can help you build a thriving online business.

I’ve built a thriving online and coached others on how to replicate my success. Our mentorship program provides hands-on, custom coaching consulting.

This is not an eCourse or Mastermind group.

We don’t throw out a bunch of information and leave you to fend for yourself.

That means individual calls, not group calls.

That means one-on-one coaching to help you build sales funnels, eBooks, eCourses and videos … including editing.

That means we offer concrete help, not abstract ideas so you can massive action and build your business, rather than stay paralyzed by information overload.

We’ll roll up our sleeves to help you get the work done.

We’ll customize our services to your needs.

We’ll position your business for long-term success.

Most of all, we’ll show you how to become self-sufficient, meaning you’ll have the tools to continue building your business for the long term.

Like you, we are coaches who believe in coaching.

Let’s hop on a 30 minute strategy session. Click the link below to reserve your spot. 

Reserve Your Free Strategy Session Here

 

 

Superhuman Strength Explained (And How You can Get Some)

Guest Post By Annie Jones

Have you ever performed way beyond what you thought was your physical maximum?

It seemed like the adrenaline kicked in to make you explode.

There were no boundaries, no limits.

Those moments are rare, but they can teach us something really important:

The Mind/Muscle Connection.

The connection between the muscles, neurons, and our brains might be the reason behind these extraordinary moments when we become super humans. The surge of energy and fearless approach pushes us through almost any task with few problems.

We are all striving  for bigger muscles, more strength and better health. How can we best harness the system that makes us superhuman in short extreme periods of danger?

Let’s find out.

The Neuro-Muscular Connection

The Central Nervous System (CNS) is like an energy highway, starting from the back of the head and going through the spine.

To perform the simplest movement like walking, your brain sends the information to your CNS, which hands it to the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) which sends the impulses further to the nerves that are responsible for individual muscles.

This network of channels and nerves is very complex, and performs on a cellular level, taking around a thousandth of a second to perform. The nerves that are connected to the muscles release a chemical called acetylcholine and cause the muscles to contract.

Creating movements involves a lot of muscles, which contract and relax at the same time, moving our limbs and body to achieve the desired state. The muscles themselves change the value by at least 30% to achieve full contraction.

The impulse communication between muscles and the brain goes both ways since the neurons receive information from muscle membranes and inform the brain about the muscle’s current state. That is the simplest explanation of the connection and functioning of the brain and muscles.

What happens when the adrenaline kicks in?

 

When the unexpected things and situations happen, our bodies react differently. When you or someone you care about is in peril, the fear triggers the brain. The adrenal glands release adrenaline, shifting our body into a state of high readiness, or excited state.

The heart pumps faster. The pupils dilate.  Respiration gets faster. Muscles become excited,  allowing for tight contractions.

The increased blood flow allows more energy into the muscles during this state of high awareness, bringing more glucose into muscles. In these moments, you can be capable of lifting a 3000-pound car for example.

But there is a catch behind this and other stories of inhuman strength that you may have heard about.

When these situations occur, you are guaranteed to reach a higher level of strength than you normally would. But that won’t be as miraculous as it is in the case of an experienced 245-pound lifter.

The amount of power your muscles can generate depends on your overall physical state, and the level of your fitness and overall strength. For those short moments, you go into Hulk mode.

Can we implement this into our workout regimens?

mi d-muscleWhile you’re working out to gain more strength and bigger muscles, the neuro-connectivity between your brain and muscle membranes (through CNS and PNS) strengthens as well. Working out will get you stronger, and you’ll have a better chance to be an unstoppable force when you go ballistic from fear and adrenaline surge.With basic knowledge about strength and muscle building, one would easily come to an idea to try to implement the concept of the hysterical strength into the muscle-building regimen.

On paper, the idea definitely grabs attention, especially for the individuals who plateaued or are in fierce competition. Breaking that hard-earned PR with this concept seems like a dream come true. But it’s more complicated than that.

These short moments are so short for a reason.

The state you’re in when you reach hysterical strength is not natural and can be compared with an electrical discharge.

It’s powerful, but very short-lived.

The situation where you go way beyond your physical capabilities to save someone’s life can injure you both physically and mentally. These short bursts can lower your immunity, cause muscle tears, joints dislocation, blood flow problems, bloody red eyes from burst capillaries, make you prone to stress, and more.

That’s why the idea of implementing this into your workout regime isn’t good. But, there are things that you can consider though.

How can we use the neuro-muscular connection?

 

 mind-muscleSince we now know how do the muscles get stimulated to contract and make a movement, we can utilize this connection to get stronger, faster, and better overall. Many researchers and studies have shown that activating more muscle fibers before exercise will drastically improve your performance. With more muscle fibers activated, the neuro connection with the muscle gets stronger and multiplies the information flow in the both neuro systems that process orders from the brain and communication from the muscles.

There are techniques that help you nurture and strengthen your neuro-connectivity with your muscles, alongside prolonging the overall performance boost. This type of strength is different from the traditional strength achieved through training, because it is based on the energy within, similarly like you trigger the adrenaline rush and lift the 3000+ pound car.

Here’s how to work on your neuro-muscular connection and utilize it to gain more strength:

  1. Incorporate small but tense shake-ups throughout the day

Several times during the day, contract your muscles strongly and hold for a few seconds. It can be a short routine, containing 3-5 repetitions, but it will require from you to contract as hard as you can. You can focus on particular muscle groups or the whole body.

  1. Flex your muscles after a shake-up

Short flexing sessions will ensure a better blood flow, and the muscle’s natural ability to contract. Better the contraction, the stronger you get.

  1. Never go all-out during a workout

Pavel Tsatsouline, the author of the best-selling book Power to the People, says that strength is a skill. You don’t need to work your muscles until they collapse. Perform some good reps, and stop before you get fatigued.

  1. Develop a strong grip

Your hands are the parts of your body with the most nerve endings. Developing a strong grip will, besides helping you get better at every exercise, stimulate the connection between muscles and neurons.

  1. Shake your muscles between sets

This is one of the techniques that will stimulate both blood flow and neuro connections throughout the muscles, and prepare you better for the next set. So next time you’re between sets, shake the targeted muscle group a bit. You’ll feel the surge of energy – not like hysterical strength, but good enough to stimulate you to crush the next set.

Work your neuro-muscle connections and make your muscles jump to your commands

As you can see, the neuro-muscular connection is a pretty important factor in the way our muscles are functioning. The difference it makes is not to be disregarded. When worked on correctly, it might boost you to a new level of fitness, or make you capable of superhuman feats, at least for a short burst of time.

About The Author

Annie Jones is the person behind  BoostBodyFit.com. She started off a bit on the chubby side but went through a  transformation. She looks and feels great.

7 Scientifically Proven Ways to Eat Less (And Lose Fat)

Fat loss is simple in theory. All you need to do is eat less, move more, and voila…pounds melt away faster than butter on a hot skillet.

Unfortunately, simple doesn’t mean easy. Sure, you know you need to eat more fruits and veggies, eat protein with each meal, and work out regularly.

But knowing and doing are two different animals.

But wait, there’s more (as they say in infomercials.) Your day is jam-packed, making convenience a key factor in deciding what you’ll eat.

To make matters worse, food manufacturers and restaurants are not your friends. They know they can successfully peddle fatty, sugar- filled foods. All in the name of convenience, of course.

But enough is enough. If you want to lose fat and look your best, it’s time to fight back.

A quick heads up: this article is long. If you want to save some time and download the checklist (and get a free course to lose fat and look better naked) click here.

Here are the best strategies you can use right now to lose fat and stop  asking:How come these damn pants won’t fit anymore?”

If you’re a coach, use this information to teach your clients how to set their environments up for successful fat loss.

If you’re a busy person hoping to make those jeans fit better, here are the tools to make better decisions.

1. Use Smaller Dishes and Utensils

If you have a bigger plate, you’ll fill it up with more food. If you have beer stein in front of you, you’ll drink a lot more beer than the typical 12 oz serving size.

In one experiment mentioned in Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, guests were given either a 17 oz or 34 oz bowl of ice cream. Both groups were invited to eat any of the four kinds of ice cream available. The scoops were also different sizes, either two ounces or three ounces. These weren’t your average test subjects. They were nutrition professors and Ph.D. students. So they’d make good choices, right?

Not so much.

Like the rest of us, the researchers’ portion control melted away like a cookie dough blizzard in the heat of summer. Those who had bigger bowls crushed an alarming 31% more ice cream. Bigger utensils, bowls, plates, and glasses lead us to over serve and over eat.

2. Eat Fewer Foods

Diets tend to limit the foods you can eat. Atkins keeps you away from carbs.Paleo keeps you away from food Tarzan couldn’t maul with his bare hands.

At the end of the day, you should eat the same foods consistently. Sure, make small tweaks to your preparation, but eating should be focused on fueling your body first and providing immense enjoyment second.

Now, this isn’t to say you need to live off of broccoli and boiled chicken. But, 80% of the time eat the same foods over and over again. Limiting choice leads more conscious food choices. You’ll begin to change habits, lose fat, and finally, keep it off.

3. Eat Higher Volume Foods

According to The Volumetrics Eating Plan by Dr. Barbara Rolls, it’s tough to guess calories, but easy to tell portion sizes. You “know” you’re full when you’ve eaten a full plate (or two) regardless of how many calories are in the dish. But if you’re presented with a half-full plate of skewered chicken at a Tapas restaurant, you know you’re going to crush seven of those suckers to feel full.

Using one example, Rolls found by giving people who normally eat a ½ pound burger a ¼ pound burger they WON’T feel full after eating. Makes sense; it’s half the burger.

Here’s the kicker. When you take same ¼ pound burger but stack it full of lettuce, tomatoes, and other fixin’s to make the burger the same “size” as the half pound burger eaters miraculously felt satiated by the meal.

Focus on foods that take up space and are lower in calories. You’ll feel full without crushing as many calories. Make veggies a key component to your diet. You’ll get to provide tons of health-promoting micronutrients. Other helpful strategies include drinking 12 oz of water before your meals, having a side salad or veggies first, or even adding water and ice to shakes and smoothies. Your body requires the volume to expand your stomach and feel full, not necessarily calories.

4. Stack Your Scraps, Homie

Think back to your last meal. How many carrots did you have with lunch? Or how much food did you actually eat when you went to that Brazilian steakhouse with your workout buddies? And let’s not even discuss what went down during your Memorial Day Cookout.

Let’s look at one study covered in Mindless Eating, Why We Eat More Than we Think. Testers provided 53 party-goers with unlimited chicken wings during the Super Bowl.

There were two groups. One group was told to pile their bones on the table in front of them. The other group had their tables bussed by waitresses. What happened was predictable. Those at bussed tables kept on eating. Those at the tables where the bones piled up didn’t. They ate 28% fewer wings.

In another study, testers served soup to two separate groups of eaters. One group had a normal size bowl. The other group had a feeder tube hidden underneath the table, meaning soup was continuously filled to a base level but never lower. Those with the bottomless soup bowls ate nearly 73% more soup, despite rating themselves as full as those with a “regular” soup bowl.

The takeaway? It’s important to rely on a variety of cues when eating. First, pay attention to your clothes. If you’re eating to the point where you need to loosen your belt, then it’s time to slow down. Kick back and take your time when you’re eating. It takes nearly 20 minutes for satiation (fullness) signals to kick in. Whenever possible, keep scraps within eyesight to monitor mindless eating. Take conscious control of how much you’re eating.

5. Keep Food Out Of Sight

Think back your last restaurant meal. Did you grab a mint or chocolate on the way out? Were you even still hungry?

If you don’t keep M&M’s on your desk, you probably won’t seek them out. But if they’re there, staring you in the face?Game over.  In one study secretaries who had clear candy dishes ate 71% more chocolates than those with white dishes. According to this study, that equaled out to 77 more calories per day, which could lead to an additional 5 pounds of weight gain in one year.

This is one example of how weight “creeps” onto your waistline, makes your shirts fit a little too snug, and leave us wondering, “how the hell did I gain this weight?” come from. The more food you see, the more food you’ll eat. Set your environment up for success.

First, replace sweets and calorie dense foods (even nuts) with lower calorie foods like chopped veggies.

Second, if the idea of poppin’ broccoli florets doesn’t sound appetizing, consider ditching the snack dishes altogether. Out of sight, out of mind.

6. Make it Harder to Eat

If you’re on a fat loss diet, it’s much easier to say “no” to cookies if you have to bake them from scratch than if a package of Oreos is staring into your soul every time you open the pantry. You’re also less likely to walk to an ice cream shop two miles way than one around the corner. Do you best to eliminate unhealthy foods. Set aside more time to prepare your own meals, such as a Sunday ritual. You’ll gain better awareness and control of what you eat.

7.  Eliminate Warehouse Discounts

You and I both love discounts. If you can get the same quality food for less by buying in bulk, then it’s a no-brainer, right? Costco is a big success. For a small annual fee, you become a member of the special club privileged to buy food in bulk and save on your groceries.  But here’s the deal. When you’re able to buy a package of 25 bags of Doritos for 12 bucks, all you need to do is buy three monster packs to make your money back on your membership. What a deal! But when you crush Doritos by the bag, you’ll overshoot calories and gain fat. Say no.

P.S. Since you made it this far, I have a bundle of FREE gifts for you.

  • This entire article summarized into a short checklist.   Print it out and keep it forever.
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  • A FREE Five Day Fat Loss Challenge Course.  Let me give you the step-by-step process to losing fat and keeping it off. It’s worked for thousands of my clients over the years. And it will work for you.

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Resources:
Rolls, B. J., & Barnett, R. A. (2003). Volumetrics: feel full on fewer calories. New York, NY: HarperTorch.
Wansink, B (2011). Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. London, UK. Hay House.

Five Ways To Stay in Shape At Age 40+

5 Ways To Stay In Shape At Age 40+

If you’re over 40, can you live up to the saying: “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better!”

Can you stay in shape, or is it all downhill?

Can you avoid the pain of achy joints and the disappointment of losing muscle strength?

5 Ways To Stay In Shape At Age 40+, Stay in shape

Consider the story I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago about a guy who trains at my gym. He puts in the work, but there’s a problem.

He does the same exercises and uses the same weight every time. There is no rhyme and no reason. And he looks the same…day after day, week after week, even year after year.

He’s annoyed by his lack of progress. He’s using the same workout routine he used when he was 25.  But now  his joints constantly ache. He hasn’t gotten any stronger. He doesn’t have more energy. His arms haven’t grown bigger. And most of all, he’s pissed that he can’t lose stubborn lower belly fat.

The reason?

If you don’t push your body beyond what it’s currently doing, it won’t change. What works early on in your fitness journey won’t always help you stay in shape.

When I posted the story on Facebook, controversy erupted, along with some misinterpretation. (Oh, the joys of social media.) But amidst the trolling, a great question was asked.

How does “progression” change when you get older?

Whether you have decades of experience or are walking into the gym for the first time, here are specific ways to train smart over the age of 40.

Determine Your Goal

What is progress to you? Different goals require different plans of action and levels of determination. Consider the following.

You Want to Gain Muscle or Minimize the Loss of Lean Muscle

Maintaining lean muscle mass and strength is progress in and of itself. This study suggests untrained people will start losing strength and muscle at age 30. Yikes.

If you’re in your 30’s and not exercising, now is the time to start.  You can delay the bad stuff. Those who already train, like my client Tim, can take their fitness step further stay jacked.

Here’s a picture of Tim and me training nearly six years ago. Today? Well, he still has bigger biceps than I do. Damn it.

training over 40, Stay in shape

The benefits of gaining lean muscle:

  • The more lean muscle you have, the more muscle glycogen your muscles will store. Besides keeping your muscles looking full, increasing glycogen storage in your muscles creates a “dietary buffer” that allows for more flexible food choices. Hello, steak and potatoes.
  • Lean muscle mass improves insulin sensitivity, helping you become more efficient with breaking down and using food. You’ll also decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • It helps you look pretty fucking awesome. You’ll be strong, athletic, and capable of handling yourself in the gym and out in the world.
  • Muscle is metabolically “expensive,” meaning it takes more energy to maintain lean muscle mass than fat mass. This supports a healthy metabolism and makes it easier to stay lean.
  • When you lose body fat, muscle provides the “tone” shape, and/or definition you crave. Dieting only takes you so far. You need a base of lean muscle to get the look you’re after.

What About Getting Stronger?

Getting strong is a great way to stave off muscle loss and improve everyday function and energy. Regardless of your age, the rules of progressive overload always apply. To build muscle and strength in the gym you’ll need to do more than your body is accustomed too.

But don’t limit your options to heavier weights or more reps. Maintaining your strength but improving range of motion, technique, or using a slower tempo is overload, after all.

Here’s why maintaining or even improving your strength is so important:

  • Strength makes everything else easier, meaning you’ll have more functional capacity to do everyday activities.
  • Strength increases muscle fiber recruitment. Building (or even maintaining) strength helps you maintain muscle fiber function, particularly type 2 muscle fibers. This helps you maintain athleticism. On the other side, type 2 muscle fibers, the fast twitch ones, can help prevent falls as you reach the twilight years.
  • Strength training can reduce bone loss (osteoporosis) and muscle loss, atrophy. In both cases, you’ll gain the strength and structure to perform regular activities with ease.

It’s clear lean muscle and strength play an important role in helping you maintain a high quality of life as you age. But here’s the deal: A 55-year-old lifter probably can’t do the same stuff as the 25-year-old hot shot at the gym.

How Does Making Progress Change?

If you’re new to training. You’ll be able to build lean muscle and strength by weight training 2-3x per week. You’ll make gains right away by improving your central nervous system (CNS) function as your body learns to activate more muscle fibers and improve coordination between muscles and movements. We call this neural adaptation. Further along down the road, eating a diet to support building lean muscle will help. Don’t expect to build tons of muscle if you’re older. But remember: even a slight increase or maintenance over time is extremely beneficial.

If you’re an experienced lifter. Yes, you can still make gains. But chances are your body won’t take kindly to chasing strength records as your only means of making progress. Look for other methods to create progressive overload.

  • Slow down your tempo. This creates more time under tension, which helps you build lean muscle and do more work with less total weight.
  • Add pauses during your reps. This builds strength in common weak points and increases time under tension. Together, this can drive gains in strength and muscle.
  • Increase your range of motion. More range of motion will hit a greater number of muscle fibers. Make sure your form is tip-top.
  • Decrease rest periods to increase the cardiovascular and metabolic demand of your training. Always good to lose the spare tire, right?
  • Give timed sets a whirl. Your body doesn’t know reps or weight, it knows tension and time. Battle the clock, like performing a set of goblet squats for 45 seconds, instead of chasing rep or resistance based- records.

Putting It All Together

Lift weights two or three times per week to get stronger. Keep your focus on the bread and butter lifts of all good programs: Squats, hinges, rows, presses, lunges, and carries. Don’t be obsessed with setting a PR or stick to barbells as your only training tool. Use whatever tools allow for pain-free training, bump the reps up a little bit, and get after it. Done right, you’ll improve muscle fiber recruitment and stave off sarcopenia, the dreaded “

Done right, you’ll improve muscle fiber recruitment and stave off sarcopenia, the dreaded “age-related muscle loss” that drains your performance, physique, and strength.

Add movements like skipping, light rope-jumping, cariocas, and other athletic-based movements to improve your balance, coordination, and athleticism. Learning (or relearning) new skills is great for both mind and body. Challenging your body keeps neural pathways fresh for better physical and cognitive function. As a bonus, many of my clients have said this is a fun change of pace.

Five Tips for Training Smarter

1. There are NO absolutes.

No, you don’t need to do a barbell back squat. Or a deadlift. Or (for the love of god) bosu ball jump squats. In the gym, there are no absolutes. Don’t fall prey to the dogmatic folks who say, “you need to do this” or nothing works.

Here are a few common sense rules to keep you in the right direction.

(1) If something hurts, don’t do it.

(2) Move your body in multiple ways. Push, pull, squat, hinge, and carry stuff.

(3) Don’t fall in love with one tool. Use your bodyweight, dumbbells, kettlebells, or whatever you have around you. See what forces you to work hard without breaking you down.

2.  Warm Up Every Day

Most people spend their days hunched over computers and phones. Over time, that takes its toll. The bad posture gets hard wired into your system and becomes the new “natural.”

Take time each day to move in new ways. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but stay active.

Use the mobility drills and activation outlined here to increase your mobility, reduce pain, and improve posture.

This is the exact warm-up my clients follow day in and day out.

 

3. Reduce Axial Loading

Axial loading, known as loading from the top-down in the lifting world, is done via exercises like back squats, cleans, and military presses. In small doses, axial loaded exercises are great. They’re the big compound movements. They improve bone density, total body strength, muscle mass, and are important for building a strong, athletic body.

But you must do them sparingly. The older you become, the less tolerant you’ll be too heavy and explosive exercises. Your spine won’t tolerate heavy compressive load from heavy weights or shear stress.

These exercises aren’t bad. They’re only problematic when they’re poorly planned, don’t allow enough recovery, and irritate chronic injuries like a twinge knee or achy back.

If you’re going to do squats, presses, and deadlifts, cool. They’re great exercises. But pay close attention to how your body recovers.

4. Make Heavy Days Lighter and Less Frequent

The biggest difference between now and ten years from now will be how often you’re able to lift heavy.

While heavy one-five rep sets are great for building strength, more experienced lifters will have a much harder time recovering from heavier weights. Instead of always blitzing the 1-5 rep range, bump strength work to 4-8 reps, control the eccentric (way down) and accelerate every rep on the way up.

If my clients want to push strength numbers in these lifts, We keep “heavy” sets in the 4-8 rep range rather than 1-5 rep sets. Further, we ramp up to heavy 5-8 rep maxes every 4-6 weeks, not weekly.

Feel free to lift heavy regardless of your age, but pay close attention to how your body tolerates the stress. Consider a deloading from axial loaded exercises every 8-10 weeks to give your body a break. Once you have a significant base of strength, you’ll preserve most of your strength and might even build more muscle in this rep range, all while preserving your joints for the long haul.

5. Find the Routine You Will Do, No Matter The Circumstances

Training four or five times per week with strength work, mobility, and conditioning is great. But sometimes it’s impossible to do everything when you have work obligations, kids, school, and dozens of commitments.

Instead of skipping the gym when life gets crazy, understand what you’re capable of doing consistently and schedule training like a non-negotiable meeting. If you skip make the gym, perform this short routine every morning when you get up.

Set a timer for ten minutes and do this:

– Push Up x10
– Squat x10
– Inchworm x5
Groiner with T-Rotation x1/side
– Side lunge x5/side

This takes just ten minutes each day. That’s it.

Remember, half the battle is getting there. Sometimes it’s okay to maintain. When the chance arises, increase your focus and intensity.

In the greater scheme of fitness, an imperfect fitness routine performed consistently will win out over the “perfect” program done sporadically.

Go Forth and Live Well

Growing older is part of life. The pursuit of a healthy, strong, and energetic body is about pushing past your comfort zones and getting a little bit better over time.

But there are many ways to accomplish your goals.

Don’t fall for the trap that you “must do” any one thing. The only absolute in training is there are none.

Instead, find what you enjoy and do it consistently.

Even more important, find out what agrees with your body and keep doing it. If exercises are making you hate the gym or causing old pains to creep back in, take them out and find the cause.

The real goal of the gym is to challenge yourself and take action to conquer what was previously deemed unconquerable.

The payoff is a happier, healthier and longer life. And big biceps. 😉

Physique Training For Athletes: Look, Feel, and Perform Superhuman

Explosive Strength

Look, Feel, and Perform Like an Athlete

Physique training for athletes? WTF? Is that a joke?

Training for physique and improving athletic performance are often seen as opposite goals. Which brings us to a common cliché: “opposites attract.” And like most clichés, this one contains a large measure of truth. But does it apply to training for physique (lookin’ better naked) and improving performance?

More importantly, can you harness the power of opposites to your benefit and have it all? That would include an athletic body and that looks like it’s a few weeks of dieting away from being on a magazine cover.

Want to Look better naked and perform like an athlete? I’ll show you how in our FREE course Seven Days to Superhuman. Click here to Join the FREE Course.

The Physique-Performance Dilemma

At one end of the spectrum lies physique. That would be physique-driven training aimed at maximizing lean muscle gains while staying more shredded than a julienne salad. (Yes, that was a Tropic Thunder reference.)

At the other end of the spectrum lies performance. That’s training focused on optimizing movement efficiency, strength, and speed to improve sports performance.

Can You Improve Performance AND Look Better Naked?

In a word, yes.

But it requires specific planning.

To be the best in anything, you need to eventually specialize in it.

This is why:

  • Tom Brady doesn’t strut onto the Olympia stage in a pair of nut-huggin’ briefs.
  • Rich Froning isn’t huckin’ touchdown passes all over the field.
  • Phil Health doesn’t crush cleans and kipping pull-ups at The Crossfit games.

World class performance requires a narrow focus and specialization.

But for you, me…and 99.9% of the people meandering around the gym? We’re pretty damn good, but we’re not world class. If you’re willing to make reasonable compromises in both physique and performance you can lose fat, build muscle, and improve your athleticism at once.

Sound too good to be true?

It’s not. You can drive performance gains while simultaneously building muscle and losing fat.

But it takes time. You’ll need an expert plan, patience, and consistency. Which brings us to…

What Happened At the Coffee Shop

The other day I grabbed a coffee (well, a red-eye with an extra shot of espresso) with a prospective client, Ryan, at a basic coffee shop near the gym. Ryan is a 29-year-old former college athlete sick of watching his gut grow bigger and clothes grow tighter (in a bad way.) His athleticism is vanishing and he isn’t happy with how he looks.

As we chatted, he made it crystal clear what he wanted: everything.

He didn’t want to train like an athlete anymore. His shoulder aches and his back twinges. Still, he wants to stay athletic, but he’s really more concerned how he looks and regaining the “I can accomplish anything confidence” he had in his early 20’s.

Translation: He wants to be confident and get laid more without looking like a scrub when he’s playing pick-up basketball. No harm in that!

Here’s my step-by-step process to creating the ultimate plan for Ryan. If you’re looking to boost athleticism and look a bit better naked, this sample template can serve as a guideline for your next training plan.

The Warm-Up (8-12 minutes total)

The typical gym-goer spends their day crunched up in a desk, car, or keeled over their phone. They’re left with chronically agitated body positions like locked-up hips, internally rotated shoulders, stiff backs, and dormant glutes that leave them with pain and quasi-modo-esque posture. Sexy. The best remedy is a specialized warm-up to attack stubborn tight spots, activate weak and dormant muscle groups, and wake your body up for intense training.

General warm-up

This is a three to five-minute spurt of general activity followed by five to seven minutes of dynamic activation drills. I’m not too specific here–get up, move, and warm your body up with a rower, jump-rope, or bike. Alternatively, bodyweight circuits work well.

Sample Bodyweight Circuit
Push-Up
Bodyweight Squat
Inverted Row
Reverse lunge
2×8 for all movements and minimal rest.

Activation and Mobilization
Emphasize improving movement through the hips, trunk, and shoulders. Moving from simple to complex drills. Hold each position for one or two seconds at the end range of motion.

Do these drills daily, as mentioned in my Warm Up Every Day article. You’ll find thorough explanations of each exercise there.

Quadruped Fire Hydrant 1×6

 

Quadruped Hip extension 1×6


Sumo-Squat to stand 1×6

Groiner with t-rotation 1×3/side

 

Inchworm 1×6


Overhead extension+ floor slide 1×6

 

I tend to keep all prehab/rehab based movements during the warm-up. If we need to dig into the nitty-gritty of improving T-spine or hip mobility, we’ll do it here then move on.

Workout Specific Warm-Up+ Power Development:
3-10 Minutes

Moving past the general warm-up, we look directly at the training goal for the day. Is it strength or power? Hypertrophy or fat loss?

I used to jump directly into a heavy lift after the warm-up, but I’ve found people have fewer injuries and better performance with a little more work.

Spending additional time grooving movement patterns is a great way to add pain-free volume for muscle growth. It also fires up your nervous system for better strength, power, and athleticism.

Lower Body Focus, Squat Example
1a. 45 degree back extension 3×10 Rest 0-30 seconds
1b. Pick one of the following: squat jump, box jump, medicine ball back toss. 3×5, rest 60-90 seconds

Why: This fires up your glutes, lower back, and prepares your posterior chain for all the gains. Explosive exercise to improve muscle fiber recruitment and athleticism.

Lower Body Hinge Pattern
1a. ½ kneeling Pallof press 3×8 rest 30 seconds
1b. Broad jump, box jump, or medicine ball back toss 3×3, rest 60-90 seconds

Why: Provide additional activation for deep stabilizers before heavy or explosive loading. Then, groove explosive movement pattern similar to the lift.

Upper Body
1a. Band dislocations 3×8 rest 0 seconds
1b. Band pull-apart 3×8 rest 0 seconds
1c. Clap push-up or medicine ball overhead slam 3×8 rest 60-90 seconds

Why: Here, we improve shoulder mobility activate the muscles responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint, then add an explosive exercise to improve muscle fiber recruitment.

In all cases, we’re focused on movement quality and the mind-muscle connection first. Then if it fits your goals an explosive movement to boost athleticism, prime the CNS, and increase muscle fiber recruitment.

Strength (15-30+ Minutes Depending on the Day)

At this point, you’ve attacked faulty movement patterns, addressed weak-points, and fired up your CNS to move some weight. It’s time for world domination (aka lifting heavy ass weight!)

Focus on one or two strength movement per session and use primarily total body, upper-lower, or push-pull-legs style training splits.

Here are my favorite strength movements:

Lower Body: Conventional deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, back squats, front squats (here’s a wicked progression), or cleans

Upper Body: Chin-up (rings or rotating handles), dips (rings or rotating handles), floor press, close grip bench press, low incline press, single arm press, single arm clean and press, seated military press.

Reps and Maxes: Confession time. I rarely have clients shoot for a true one rep max. The risk isn’t worth the reward most times and we’re better off building strength with near maximal strength work between three and six reps. Older, seasoned, and more beat up lifters stay in the five to eight rep range.

The trade-off for a new 1-2 rep max P.R. is rarely worth the injury risk and systemic fatigue. Translation: it’s not worth feeling like dog shit for 2-3 days after all your lifts unless you’re training purely for performance.

Micro Progressions and Variations: Within each lift, we hit a ton of variety and cycle lifts frequently. Besides keeping lifts *fun* for clients, the slight tweaks prevent overuse and redundant movement patterns that can cause injuries. Make slight changes to:
Tempo (add a pause or longer eccentrics, like this neutral grip pull up)

 Mid-rep pauses (like this isodynamic biceps curl)

 

Accommodating resistance, like these band-resisted trap bar deadlifts

 

 

Every change, no matter how small, results in a different exercise with different muscle recruitment and adaptation for your body. If a movement pattern feels stale, even a slight change can bust you out of a rut without completely changing a program.

Your body doesn’t know an exact lift. It purely understands time, tension, coordination, and calling muscle fibers to generate force. Don’t fall in love with a particular lift. Once you’re strong, add in slight changes to avoid clawing your eyes out from boredom and continue riding the gains train to a better body.

Hypertrophy Portion (15-30 minutes)

Think back to when you looked your best. You weren’t just leaner; you were also younger, more active, and probably had more muscle mass.

With that is mind, training to build muscle mass is the most important factor in radically changing body composition…ergo looking better naked. Hell, more literature comes out daily that maximizing muscle retention is vital to your long-term health.

Why Muscle Mass Matters

Having more muscle mass can…
1. Improve insulin sensitivity, helping you lose weight and control blood sugar more easily. Basically, you’ll use food for what you want (exercise recovery, muscle growth), rather than adding fat.
2. Increase metabolism: Burn more fat at rest. Game blouses.
3. Lead to more activity: Given your strength also improves, everything in life gets easier from climbing stairs to chasing your nephew. More muscle begets you to be more active.
4. Make you look hotter. In clothes. Or naked.
5. Build a “dietary” buffer. Ever scowl at those jacked Fit Pro’s posting pictures of doughnuts? Me, too. But having greater muscle mass allows more flexibility in your diet. Your “cheat days” will be less harmful.

34577979 - muscular man skipping rope. portrait of muscular young man exercising with jumping rope on black background

In the hypertrophy portion of your workout, we’ll bump the reps up to 8-15+ reps per set, keeping rest periods from 15 seconds to 90 seconds. You’ll need to push the tempo, sweat, and bust your ass. But hey, nobody said it would be easy, right?

We’ll be attacking three main factors to help you build more muscle:

Mechanical Stress
Mechanical tension is achieved by using a substantial load and performing exercises through a full range of motion for a certain amount of time. The time you spend under load creates mechanical tension in the muscles to drive the anabolic process.

Metabolic Stress
Gettin’ a wicked pump isn’t just for stretching shirt-sleeves and feeling awesome, it plays an important role in hypertrophy. When you work out hard to achieve a pump, you build up lactate, hydrogen ions, creatinine, and other metabolites, but you also prevent blood from escaping. This metabolic stress plays a key role in signaling muscular growth.

Muscular Damage
Soreness is part of the training game. The inflammatory process from muscular damage actually aids in muscle growth. But too much muscle damage can keep you out of the gym, restricting your #gains. Pick two or three exercises based on your training for the day. Aim for anywhere between 25 and 50 reps with a slower tempo and 8-15 reps per set. Then add one or two more exercises focused on ultra-high reps, 15-25 reps for one or two sets. Keep the rest short, stress high, and make gains.

Finishers/Conditioning
The occasional 5-10 minute finisher or high-intensity conditioning bout can make you one tough cookie. You’ll build muscle, supercharge fat loss, and get the mental edge to dominate in and out of the gym. You can read more about finishers here.

Don’t crush yourself every time you hit the gym. Random challenges for the sake of being a training sadist and muscle “confusion” is a sure fire way to stay injured. But use periodic throwdowns and epic finishers as challenges to t0 see how tough you really are. They can help you conquer plateaus.

 

What you can do Going Forward

Ask what is missing from your current workout. Focus on giving your body the training it needs so you can look and perform the way you want.

This means hypertrophy routine would focus a little less on strength, power, and performance and more on volume and bodybuilding methods.

A performance focus would have a greater focus on strength and power, with less volume and fewer bodybuilding methods.

You can blend multiple levels of performance at any given time, but the attention you pay to each component should be specific to your goals at the point in time.

 

JOIN THE ELITE 10%

90% of lifters make excuses, get overwhelmed, and never get jacked. The other 10%? They reside in the Bach Performance Community. Sign up today for the latest scientifically proven, experienced backed tips to get you jacked. I’ll show you how in our FREE course Seven Days to Superhuman. Click here to Join the FREE Course.

 

McGill S. Low Back Disorders – Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Human Kinetics; 2002

15 Expert Tips: How to Improve Athleticism

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say you train to improve athleticism as a way to improve your life.

You want to be healthy, nimble, and strong so you have the ability to be thrown into any situation, whether it’s lifting, playing a sport, running up the stairs, or should the moment arise, self-defense and come out on-top.

Even more, you want to lose fat, build muscle, and look great naked. 

Unfortunately, most programs fail miserably at helping you build a body that performs as well as it looks. Living under a barbell and only chasing maximum strength isn’t the answer. This will leave you unbalanced, beat-up, and sore.

Neither is trodding along the treadmill for hours each week. 

So, what’s your solution?

Train like an athlete. 

You’ll build the physical ability to handle whatever life throws at you and build a great looking body to boot. 


P.S.

I’ve made you a FREE Checklist including actionable tips on how to put these into your workouts. Click here to download it for Free.


 1) Value Relative Strength As much as Absolute Strength

There are many factors to consider, but heavy strength training is a tool for improvement, not the end-all be-all in performance. 

Does spending all of your time training towards building more strength outweigh the benefits of higher relative strength (being strong for your size), and corresponding improvements in agility, speed, power, and coordination?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but no. Not if you’re joints are getting beat up and your training is one dimensional. bodyweight training, Expert Tips to Build Muscle, How to Improve Athleticism

This is not to belittle training heavy. It’s needed as a foundational piece for every person, but chasing personal strength records as your sole goal in the gym is a great way to beat the snot out of your joints and end up as a one trick pony.

Yes, build a base of maximum strength, everything else will improve. Then, strive for a more balanced approach and get strong for your size. Move beyond the barbell, incorporate body weight training, sprint, jump, and move like an athlete.

 

Related: Find out Seven Ways to Improve Relative Strength

2) Develop Unilateral Strength and Power

David Dellanave of Dellanave.com

If you want a more athletic, and dare I say functional, type of strength prepare to get comfortable with unilateral work. Unilateral exercises, those done with one limb rather than two, are ideal for preventing injury causing imbalances and developing athletic unilateral power. 

Let’s look at two great movements to make this happen:

The first is the skater squat or airborne lunge. This is a challenging movement that is fantastic for building single leg strength. Don’t be put off by this bodyweight exercise – most people have to progress from a Bulgarian split squat to develop single-leg strength and stability to prepare for the unsupported, skater squat.

The skater squat is like a pistol squat, but instead of the non-working leg being outstretched in front of you, the hip is flexed and you tap the knee of the non-working leg on the ground near your planted foot. Here’s one of Ben Bruno’s guys doing it:

In most cases, you’ll want a little weight to act as a counterbalance to aid in balance. To progress the skater squat slightly reduce the range of motion by tapping the knee to a yoga block rather than on the ground.

This increases the difficulty of the exercise by requiring additional eccentric control, an essential skill for preventing injuries. Gradually increase the range of motion until you’re going all the way to the ground.

This increases the difficulty of the exercise by requiring additional eccentric control, an essential skill for preventing injuries. Gradually increase the range of motion until you’re going all the way to the ground.

The second unilateral power exercise is the split stance one-armed push press, one of the most underrated exercises for athletic power development. Working with one arm negates the bilateral deficit and allows you to move a ton of weight for massive gains in strength and power. The push press requires other transfer of force from the power body until a full-body, coordinated movement.

When done from a split stance, the push press forces stability through the hip and trunk to get you strong and stable from head to toe. 

Integrate these two staples into your strength and conditioning program and you’re going to be a force to be reckoned with on the field.

3) Jump Rope to Improve Coordination

Hitting the weights hard and eating well is important, but improving athleticism requires coordination, not just brute strength. After all, you don’t want to be the guy tripping over his own feet dancing at his wedding, right?

Take heed of athletic greats like Muhammad Ali, Walter Payton, and Floyd Mayweather and make the jump rope a staple in your training. You’ll build great conditioning, shed fat and improve your athleticism while bringing up those anemic calves of yours.

Start slow and build your skill by using the jump rope for 100 skips in your warm-up. Soon, you’ll be skippin’ rope like Rocky Balboa.

 

4) Improve Functional Mobility and Reinforce with Strength and Stability

Dr. John Rusin, the Strength Doc.

“If you have goals of becoming an elite athlete, functional mobility is a pivotal aspect of high performance.”

If your first thought in achieving Gumby-like mobility is with the addition of more stretching and foam rolling to your training program, think again.

Whether stretching and rolling works is still under academic debate but one thing holds true; neither of these modalities are going to streamline translatable mobility like the pristine execution of accentuated loaded eccentrics to your training schedule.
In other words, get off the foam roller, and focus on using big barbell lifts with a slow tempo. 

johnrusin, How to Improve Athleticism

You have most likely already had a taste of the basics of accentuated loaded eccentrics in foundational barbell movements like the Romanian deadlift. With the operative word being “accentuated,” this type of training method is largely dependent on the execution of prescribed tempos and extended ranges of motion.

Increasing the time under tension during the eccentric phases of big compound movements while moving into the last 10% of available range of motion will strategically micro-tear facial layers and muscle tissue, while also retraining neural receptors to adapt to extended ranges of motion under load.

In other words, you’ll build strength, stability, and flexibility all in one.

Give it a shot, and remember this method can be used for nearly any movement pattern or muscle group. The key is in the execution– own your movement, challenge your body and reap the benefits of Olympian level mobility.

5) Incorporate Basic Movement Patterns Like Skipping

Tony Gentilcore of Tonygentilcore.com

Want a humbling experience?
Try skipping like you used to do as a kid.

It’s funny: I’ll say to someone, “we’re going to warm-up with some skipping drills,” and many will roll their eyes and chuckle as if to say “dude, really? Skipping?” Then I watch them skip and I’m the one who ends up laughing.
Unfortunately, most folks have spent YEARS in front of a computer. Now, their idea of athleticism is taking the stairs over the elevator. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you don’t move a lot or well anymore and as a result, have poor coordination and athleticism.

By integrating skipping into your warm-ups you’ll begin rebuilding sprinting mechanics and coordination without the risk of injury. Here’s a quick progression of an a-march into an a-skip.

 

Look easy?

Give it a shot.

It’s a nice way to “extend” your warm-up and introduce SOME form of athletic movement…especially if your workouts have been walking to the water cooler between sets of curls and bench presses.  


P.S.

I’ve made you a FREE Checklist including actionable tips on how to put these into your workouts.

Click here to download it for Free.


6) Do Heavy And Explosive Training First 

When setting up any training program or workout, you need to place more neurologically demanding exercises early in each session.

Why?

How well you perform your exercises is exponentially more important than “how many reps” or how much weight you move. Thus, optimizing technique is essential to improve your performance and reduce your chance of injury.

Let me explain.

Exercises that are neurologically demanding like explosive lifts, sprints, jumps and heavy compound exercises place the most demand on your nervous system. If you don’t do them when you’re fresh, your technique will fail and you’ll be more likely to get injured.

This is why despite the many good qualities of a certain type of exercise ending in “fit” so many people end up injured. Blasting exercises like power cleans and snatches after red-lining your heart rate doesn’t allow your nervous system to recover and thus, your technique goes to shit.

weight-lifting-for-women-2, How to Improve Athleticism

To get strong, jacked, and athletic, follow this basic order of exercises.
1.Explosive, high-speed exercises. Jumps, sprints, Olympic lifts.

2. Heavy strength training moves. Exercises like squats or deadlifts where you’re focused on 1-5 reps fit here.

3. Moderate rep (5-12 rep) hypertrophy exercises. 

4. Isolation and high rep muscle building exercises. 

5. Cardio/conditioning/finishers.

Follow this order and you’ll organize your workouts for optimal performance, build a bad-ass physique, and stay healthy to boot.

7) Build your Base of Strength to Improve Athleticism

Ben Bruno of benbruno.com

For most gym-goers, a basic strength- training program will go a long way in improving athleticism. Keep the specialized exercise programs for more advanced athletes and hammer full-range-of-motion strength training.

benbrunoTraining with good form and in a progressive manner (adding weight to the bar consistently) will give you a bigger bang for your training buck than a lot of the fancier “sport specific” drills, especially until you have a foundation of strength.

Emphasize major lifts like deadlifts, squats, bench presses, and rows with sound technique.  Get strong and develop your base of strength. This way, you’ll build the foundation to make gains and successfully use those fancy exercises down the road.

8) Move Explosively Everyday

Nick Tumminello of Nicktumminello.com

If you’re like most lifters, you stopped rapid, explosive movement years, if not decades ago.

Rather than solely lifting heavy, incorporate explosive movement and do something fast every day.Being jacked and strong is nice, but expressing strength fast and generating tons of power separates the contenders from the pretenders.

That means you should sprint, throw, punch, or jump regularly. 

Moreover, rather than spending countless hours refining technique on Olympic lifts, it’s best to use exercises with an accelerated learning curve to train the same qualities: explosive power, nervous system activation, and activation of high threshold muscle fibers.

This bridges the gap between strength and speed, prompting your nervous system to function at full speed, improve your coordination, and improve the firing rates of your muscles on big lifts. 

Add in jumps for the lower body workouts.

On upper body workouts, add in explosive throws or push-up variations.

 

A good starting place is three sets of five reps directly after your warm-up. In short time, you’ll improve neural activation, better recruit muscle fibers, and prepare your body to be stronger and more athletic in sport and in life. 

9) Incorporate Multi-planar Training

Travis Pollen, the Fitness Pollenator

As an amputee, I might be a little biased, but single-leg training with the aforementioned exercises will improve athleticism and minimize injury causing imbalances, especially if you’ve been spending all your time on conventional barbell exercises.

Train unilaterally: multi-planar split squats and lunges, single-leg stiff-legged deadlifts, single leg hurdle jumps, even single-leg hang cleans.

travispollen

Most lifts take place solely in the sagittal plane, yet sports are chaotic and take place with frontal, sagittal, and transverse plane movements. In other words, most training doesn’t match what you do on the playing field or in life.

Life takes place in by moving 360 degrees, not in a squat rack. You need to get out and move in multiple directions with different movements to maximize the real-world carry over of your training. 

While you must master basic exercise first, incorporating movements that require greater stabilization throughout the entire body will undoubtedly improve a variety of qualities that contribute to athleticism. There are the obvious ones like strength and power and then some less obvious ones, too, like mobility, stability, balance, and proprioception.

10) Build Up Multi-level Strength

Chad Landers of Push Private Fitness

 To improve athleticism get stronger, both in an absolute and relative sense. 90% of people will never have the issue of being too strong to excel in sports. As a result, improving strength and training with a variety of rep ranges sets your infrastructure for speed, stability, power, and of course, building an aesthetically pleasing physique.

It’s imperative to note that you don’t need to train at 90, 95% of your one-rep-max, save that for the powerlifters.

Instead, hammer the 3-5 rep range with 80% 1-RM in the “big lifts” like squats, deadlifts, presses, cleans, rows and pull-ups. This is a weight you can handle for 6-10 reps. This way, you’ll still build strength without getting beat up, sore, and exhausted.


P.S.

I’ve made you a FREE Checklist including actionable tips on how to put these into your workouts. Click here to download it for Free.


11) Improve Rotational Strength and Power

Kennet Waale is the coach and founder of Move Strong and www.kennetwaale.com.

 Power is vector specific, meaning if you want to build rotational power for sports like tennis, baseball, beer-league softball, or golf, then you need to train rotation directly.  The two exercises below are thoroughly explained in the videos regarding execution to help you build rotational strength and power. 

Don’t let your ego come in the way – start light; master the movements and progress the weights and tempo as you go. Soon, you’ll be swinging and punching harder with specific rotational power.

Recommended weights:

  • Males +70kg start with: 20kg Kettlebell
  • Males -70kg start with: 16kg Kettlebell
  • Females +60kg start with: 16kg Kettlebell
  • Females -60kg start with: 12kg Kettlebell
  • Stick with the above weights for the first three weeks before you decide to increase it when technique is optimal.

 

The Dragon Press Half Rotation

The Lateral Clean


 

12) Improve Thoracic Mobility for better Overhead Movement

Dean Somerset of Deansomerset.com

Modern sedentary society has left many of us keeled out our smartphones and computers. The result?
Worse posture than quasi-modo and chronic shoulder pain that robs you of gains in the gym and athleticism in everyday life.

The solution?

Improving your thoracic mobility specifically through improving your breathing patterns and glute engagement. 

Stay with me, as I know it sounds crazy, but the implications are pretty powerful. For breathing work, inhalation involves the expansion of the rib cage and extension of the thoracic spine, helping you pull in larger volumes of air during inhalation. As a result, this increases movement in thoracic mobility and stability for overhead movements like shoulder presses.

For the glutes, their glute contraction has a massive impact within a very short period of time to help increase thoracic drive. In a situation where the glutes aren’t being used, the pelvis can be held with a bit more anterior tilt, which causes a compensatory movement of the lumbar spine into more lordosis, extension, or most commonly, arching. 

To balance this out, the thoracic spine winds up getting more kyphotic or flexed so as to keep your head vertical over your feet and keep you from falling over.

To fix this, squeeze your butt during overhead exercises. This pulls your pelvis into posterior tilt, which reduces the drive on the low back into extension and thus reduces the drive into the thoracic spine into flexion. It’s a simple tip to improve performance, improve shoulder mobility, and decrease back pain. 

The combined aspect of breathing in more air, opening the lungs, and flexing the glutes, increases thoracic extension range of motion rapidly, which can help put you in a better position to overhead press while stabilizing the pelvis for less discomfort and pain in overhead movements.

13) Don’t Sacrifice Nutrition

Kedric Kwan of Kedrickwan.com

With all the training sessions and high demands on game day, athletes have an extremely high-energy output. And if you train like one?

Well, you’re burning a lot of energy as well. But don’t use an increased energy output as a “get out of jail free card” to eat whatever you want. 

If you’re a recreational athlete and scarf skittles like Marshawn Lynch, you’ll turn into a slob rather than a high-performance machine.

24990516_l

Even though most of us aren’t looking to be a stage ready bodybuilder anytime soon, improving body composition will also improve your athletic performance. 

Seriously, body fat doesn’t produce force the way muscle does and will decrease relative strength by increasing bodyweight.

The better your body composition is and the higher the ratio of muscle you have to fat, the more force you’re cable of producing. This force, under the right training conditions, will enhance your athletic potential.

By periodizing your nutrition, being aware of your food intake and using specific supplements will help improve your body composition.

Instead of eating everything in sight thinking you’ll burn it all off during training or competition, focus on your body composition with proper nutrition.

Besides, who doesn’t want to be a badass on the pitch while looking jacked on the beach?

14) Incorporate the Medicine Ball Back Toss for Explosive Power

Joey Percia 

One of the best ways you can improve your athleticism, explosively jumping ability, is the backward medicine ball toss for height. I like the throw for height opposed to distance because it decreases the likelihood of over extending the low back in an attempt to get more power, which is a common fault for beginners and those new to the movement.

Most people who haven’t jumped in years let their arms flop around like wet noodles or tuck them tight to the side like pencil diving in a pool.

Don’t be that dude.


Not only is this disadvantageous for jumping but it’s an awkward thing to see. This movement gives the client a basic understanding of using an effective arm swing, gets the CNS jacked up for stronger lifts and more explosive power. Plus, it’s fun to throw stuff. 

15) Start Sprinting to Improve Athleticism

Option One: Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance because it fires up your nervous system to improve heavy and explosive training. 

This comes with a risk versus reward trade-off as sprinting done before training must be enough to spark the nervous system, yet low enough in volume and intensity to not fatigue the body and hinder lifting ability. When fatigue is managed your strength performance, conditioning and athleticism will skyrocket.

After your dynamic warm-up (try this one), do some sub-maximal speed drills like skips and low-intensity sprints for 5-10 minutes.

Perform sprints two days per week. Start with 5 sprints of 10-20 yards with 30-60 seconds of recovery and add one sprint per week, maxing out at 10 sprints.

 

How to Improve your Athleticism: Wrap Up

Your body is an integrated system and should be trained as such. When in doubt, training to improve your athleticism gives you the ability to dominate life outside the gym while building your best looking body.

Your homework: Take a few minutes to review your training and ask, “Where can I improve my training?” With these expert tips, the ball is now in your court.

Take even one of these 15 tips, implement it, and start building your strongest, leanest, and most athletic body today.

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