3 Strength Training Secrets That Guarantee Progress

 

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Guest Post by Eric Weinbrenner

You’ve found the gym to be such an an interesting and worthwhile place that you spend more than a little spend time there, despite your busy schedule. But are you really making the best use of your time at the gym? Or are you stuck in a rut that is slowing progress?

Time to shake things up to ensure you get as strong as possible, as quickly as possible. And then get even stronger by making sustained progress.

This article explains how to become your strongest and best self, step-by-step, by using three training secrets that guarantee progress.

Sound good?

Let’s start with my observations over more than ten years at various gyms. I often step back and just watch people.

First: there’s the guy who seems to live in the gym. He walks around with an angry scowl on his face in hopes of intimidating others. (Confession: this used to be me.)

Second: there’s the guy who walks around tentatively. He seems unsure of what the heck he’s doing. He looks like he’d like to be anywhere else. He’s also hoping he doesn’t accidentally do something to piss off the angry guy with the scowl.

Third: there’s the guy who seems to spend more time gazing over towards the ellipticals than he does actually working out.

The one thing I see over and over again that really blows my mind…

People showing up day after day, week after week, doing the exact same thing.

They do the same exercises and use the same weight. And they look the same day after day, week after week, even year after year.

They’ve got the “show up” part of this whole fitness thing down. But they keep lifting the same weight for the same number of reps. They don’t progress because they don’t give the body a reason to change.

They’ve heard the expression “You can’t do the same thing over and over and expect different results.” They agree, but they don’t know how to change.

So they figure as long as they’re showing up, things will somehow still turn work out. But it doesn’t for most guys. (I know it sure didn’t for me.)

Which brings us to…

Progression 101 (Why You Must Force Adaptation)

Every time you step in the gym, your goal must be to either:

  1. Lift more weight
  2. Do more reps with the same weight

Weights and reps are the big wins, the two simplest and most effective ways to get better. Your ability to build muscle largely comes down to how well (and often) you progress in those two areas. So you need to find ways/strategies/methods that make lifting more weight or doing more reps possible.

Here are the best ones I’ve found.

Three Foolproof Ways To Get Strong, Stronger and Strongest

Your goal in the weight room is to work hard enough to give your muscles a reason to grow bigger and stronger, without working so hard that recovery is compromised.

Simple, right? Maybe. Yet a lot of people screw this up.

They either:

– don’t work hard enough
– or they annihilate themselves to a point where they are constantly in a fatigued state.

Both situations are bad. Both prevent progress.

The key to challenging your muscles enough without overdoing it is picking the right weight.

If your workout says to do “3 sets of 10 reps” for bench press, you need to use a weight that allows you to do 10 clean reps. And on the 10th rep, your muscles should be fatigued enough that they may be able to squeeze out one or two more reps if a spotter was there to help, but no more.

Finding the right weight can often be challenging. It’s tough to guess how much weight is going to allow you to hit this point of “enough, but not too much” for a set of 10 reps.

That’s why the best methods for increasing strength naturally assist you in determining how much weight to use to hit the prescribed amount of reps.

The three methods below have proven time and time again to make it easier to determine the right weight for your sets and are simple to track so that you can see progress over time.

Strength Method #1: Pyramid Training

With pyramid training, instead of doing 3 sets of 10 (or any similar combination), you perform an exercise for a particular rep (or rep range) and then work your way down.

So it may look like this:

Set 1: 8-10 reps

Set 2: 6-8 reps

Set 3: 4-6 reps

You’ll notice that I show rep ranges as opposed to fixed reps in the example above. I prefer rep ranges for 2 reasons:

  1. It allows some wiggle room on weight selection. Instead of having to pick the perfect weight for a fixed number or reps (10), you just have to get within a 2-3 rep range.
  2. It naturally builds in room for the second type of strength progression we’re looking for: do more reps with the same weight.

The magic Pyramid Training is that it usually goes something like this…

First set: felt pretty good. Maybe went a little too light (or a bit too heavy) with the weight selected.

Second set: Felt really good. Using feedback from weight used/reps completed in first set, you are able to select just about the perfect weight for the given rep range.

Third set: Perfect. Using feedback from previous sets, you were able to select a weight that allowed you to hit the target rep range perfectly.

How to use Pyramid Training in your workouts: For your “main” compound movements, replace your current rep scheme with a Pyramid style set up. For your upper body, this would be lifts like bench press, overhead presses, pull-ups, rows, etc. For lower body, you’d use Pyramid training for things like deadlifts, squats, lunges, etc.

So instead of doing 3 sets of 10, you would follow the example above and do one set of 8-10, one set of 6-8, and one set of 4-6.

It’s crucially important that you keep a training log. Record how much weight you’ use and how many reps you perform.t.

Your goal each week is to do more reps (work towards the high end of the rep range), or add weight if you are able to hit the top-end of the rep range with perfect form.

Strength Method #2: Reverse Pyramid Training

Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT), is simply the opposite of Pyramid Training. Instead of starting at a higher end of reps and working down, with RPT you start at the lower end and work up.

So it looks like this:

Set 1: 4-6 reps

Set 2: 6-8 reps

Set 3: 8-10 reps

The benefits here are very similar to Pyramid training with one exception. Since you’re starting with low reps, you are able to use the heaviest weight for the day when you are freshest.

A lot of guys like this because they get to feel good about using what they consider a “heavy” weight. Other than that, I personally haven’t found any real benefit over Pyramid Training.

Rotating back and forth between Pyramid and RPT is a great way to ward off boredom and keep things fresh. It’s also a great way to break through plateaus so that you continue progressing.

How to use RPT in your workouts: Just as you did with Pyramid training, you will use RPT with your main compound lifts. And again, make sure you’re keeping a training log of weight/reps to measure progress over time.

Strength Method #3: The “Rep Max” Method

The Rep Max (RM) method is a simple way to determine the most weight you can lift for a given amount of reps that day.

For the purposes of building muscle, you would pick a target amount of reps between 3 and 10. Then, you start with a light weight and “ramp up” to a top end set, which is your “rep max” for that day.

Here’s an example using a 10 rep target:

Set 1: 45 pounds x 10 (intended to be a light, warm up set)

Set 2: 95 x 10

Set 3: 115 x 10

Set 4: 135 x 10

Set 5: 145 x 10

Set 6: 150 x 10 (10 rep max for the day)

Rest 60-75 seconds for the first few sets and 90-120 as it gets heavier and you get closer to your RM.

As you can see, start with a few light warm up sets and then work your way up, adding 5-20 pounds until you reach the most weight you can use for 10 reps on that day.

How to use Rep Max training in your workouts: Because the RM process is a bit more extensive (and time-consuming) than Pyramid or RPT training, I recommend only using this for 1-2 exercises per workout.

Typically, RM training is best suited for upper body compound lifts (vertical/horizontal pressing) and squats and deadlifts.

Application (For the Ordinary, Non-Meathead Who Wants To Look Awesome and Feel Great)

“Lift heavier weights, and you’ll build muscle.” And the three methods outlined above will help you do that most effectively and efficiently.

While lifting more weight may be the “holy grail” of muscle building, it comes with a caveat…

If you do it “wrong” it can end up screwing things up more than will help.

I’ve seen – and experienced – what happens when you become obsessed with how much weight you can lift and DEMANDING that you “add weight to the bar” every time you step into the gym:

  • You get injured because you use crappy form to trick yourself into thinking you are able to lift more weight
  • You get burnt out from constantly pushing your body past the point of recovery
  • You end up placing all of your identity in whether or not you can lift more weight than the guy on the bench press next to you
  • You become the guy with the angry scowl, walking around the gym trying to intimidate everyone else

So what we want to do is take the time-tested, fool-proof tactics for gaining strength and apply them in a way so that we get the benefits without the potential downsides.

Step 1: Push yourself, but don’t force it.

Always enter the gym with a competitive mindset. But recognize that you aren’t going to roll in and dominate each workout.

There will be days when you’re feeling off. Maybe you’re not feeling well or work is extra stressful or your kids kept you up half the night. Those things will affect your ability in the gym.

On days you’re feeling great, push yourself.

On days you’re feeling off, just put in the work, do your best, and try to make the next workout go better.

Step 2: Measure Progress Over The Long Term

There may be weeks (even months) where you barely see any measurable change. But over a period of months, you should be able to look back and see some measurable progress in weight lifted and reps performed.

The key is sticking with it consistently enough to get through the weeks (or months) of monotony until you see measurable progress again.

The best way to stay motivated is by keeping a training log. That way you’re not just winging it. You can actually look back and know for certain that you’ve made progress.

Being able to look at how much weight you used or how many reps you performed last week can be incredibly motivating.

Step 3: Pick a few exercises for the main muscle groups and focus on consistent progress.

Trying to focus on adding weight on every set, of every exercise, every workout can seem like a lot. For many, that can seem straight up overwhelming. That’s why you shouldn’t obsess over strength for every exercise.

Instead, pick one or two main compound exercises for each of the movement patterns and focus on getting stronger in those over time.

So you’ll pick one or two exercises for the following movements:

  • Upper body horizontal press (bench press, incline press, etc.)
  • Upper body vertical press (shoulder press variations)
  • Upper body vertical pull (pull-up / lat pulldown variations)
  • Upper body horizontal pull (rowing variations)
  • Lower body hip dominant (deadlift variations)
  • Lower body knee dominant (squat variations)

Use the strength methods discussed in this article for these exercises and aim for progress over time. Remember to keep a log.

Takeaways:

  1. Getting stronger (using more weight or doing more reps with the same weight) is the key to long-term muscle gains. Your goal is to progress as often as possible.
  2. The three most effective methods for improving strength are Pyramid Training, Reverse Pyramid Training, and Rep Max Training.
  3. Pick one of the methods covered in this article, and use it to replace the standard “3 sets of 10” set up commonly used. After 3-4 months, switch to one of the other methods and continue to rotate these every few months to avoid plateaus and boredom.
  4. Pick one or two exercise per movement pattern and using the methods outlined above, track progress over time, aiming for more weight or more reps over the course of months and years.

Author’s Note

Eric Weinbrenner_20170202_091406Eric Weinbrenner helps ordinary guys build extraordinary bodies without killing themselves in the gym, obsessing over calories, or abandoning their families. Learn simple and effective muscle building strategies and grab your free guide 7 Keys To Fitness Mastery at Eric’s Muscle That Matters website. <<<===click here

The Two Types of Clients NOT to Train Online

Two Types Of Clients NOT To Train Online

If you’re a personal trainer who’s still not training clients online, you’re losing ground to those who are. But you have to do online training right by choosing the right clients.

The benefits of online training are obvious. You make more money. You stop trading dollars for hours and take back your freedom. And you’ll help more people achieve a better life through fitness. You get to design workouts in your undies at 8:00 am rather than guzzling coffee at 4:45 am before your 5:00 am clients.

And your clients?

Well, they can be anywhere in the world and they can work out anytime that fits their busy schedule. They’ll save money while still receiving precision guided diet, training, and lifestyle advice to look better naked and improve their life through fitness.

Yep, online training is pretty damn cool.

That said, there are certain clients you just shouldn’t train online. You risk injury to the client and damage to your own reputation.

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Online Fitness Trainer

Client Type #1: The (Very) Injured Client

A few years back, my client, Chuck fell off a ladder cleaning out his gutters. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. He shattered his hip, had multiple invasive surgeries, and had to re-learn how to walk.

Now in his late 60’s, Chuck wears a permanent lift to balance out different length legs and battles a plethora of issues from his hip, back, knee, and ankle.

Online personal trainer

On a daily basis, we needed to switch out exercises, rep schemes, and tempos to adjust to his abilities, pain, and level of function. It would be nearly impossible to do this online because of all the precise changes. You’d have to do every workout via Skype and have excellent communication skills. And you’d have to be on call virtually 24/7 to tweak the program. That’s no way to scale a business.

Here’s the surprising truth:

It’s common for people with severe injuries to seek personal trainers. And the number is likely to grow as online training goes mainstream.

Clients like Chuck shouldn’t be trained online. The risks outweigh the rewards. You are better off referring them to a Physical Therapist.

Here’s why:

Technique is always important, but optimal technique is crucial when refining movement patterns with injured clients. Subtle changes in technique can be the difference between an exercise being the perfect rehabilitation tool or a first class ticket to pain and dysfunction. And maybe a lawsuit!

Client Type #2: The Elite/High-Level Team Sport Athlete

Listen, you can train elite/high-level athletes online. It can work. But like eating a stick of butter for every meal is possible, it’s not ideal. Athletes can have a razor thin margin of error for optimizing performance.

More often than not, high-level athletes are battling through nagging injuries that require precise adjustments both in exercise selection and execution on a day to day basis for pain-free training.

Moreover, most elite team sports athletes need movement specific training (acceleration vs. top end speed training techniques, deceleration, sports specific change of direction work) to improve performance. All this has to be done in conjunction with strength training. Even most in-person trainers lack the skills to do this well. Online? Success seems even less likely.

Online personal trainer

Now, I’m not saying this to scare you off or be a grumpy ole’ bag of dicks.

But the number one goal for trainers and coaches is to not injure your clients or exacerbate pre-existing injuries. It’s a bit like the Hippocratic oath doctors swear: “First, do no harm.”

The number two goal is to provide the structure, accountability, and coaching to help your clients achieve their goals. Can you really do this online? In both cases, training elite team-sport athletes is a risky proposition that most coaches aren’t ready to handle.

The Exceptions

Now, nothing is ever set in stone. There are a few instances when training the elite or high-level team sports athlete can work. But unless they’re your ideal client (here’s how to find yours), you’re best referring out. Here are the exceptions.

You’ve worked with the client before: Client trust and “buy-in” to your training methods is essential for success. With no buy-in, you’ll lack consistency, communication, and effort. This is the same whether we’re talking about 58-year-old women looking to improve function ability and lose a few pounds or a 23-year-old pro athlete.

If you’ve worked with an athlete in-person you know their strengths, weaknesses, injury sites, and areas they need to improve most. In this case, you should be able to design programs (and have the relationship) necessary to help them improve performance.

You’re an elite coach: If you’ve worked with clients long enough and are an elite coach (I’m talkin’ Cressey, Gentilcore, Rusin, Poliquin, Somerset, Lee Taft, or Christian Thibaudeau etc…) you have the practice and communication skills to help clients to maximize their training online.

You’re working in with another coach: If you’re working with elite level athletes it’s possible to handle part of their training, such as strength training/corrective work, while a separate, in-person coach handles sports specific practice or movement training. You’ll need to build a relationship and have constant contact with that coach to synchronize programming for the best results.

The Takeaway

There are no absolutes but it may be helpful to keep this principle in mind:
1. Safety first. The number one rule of training is to do no harm.
2. Be thorough with your screening process and movement screens before taking on clients.
3. Only work with clients who you can take to the next level. There’s no harm in saying “no” or referring a client out.
4. Even if you’re training clients online, you’re still liable.

There are no absolutes. While you can take any client you’d like it doesn’t mean you should. Know your skills, put your clients first, and work with those who you can help to the best of your abilities.

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

Look, Feel, and Perform Like an Athlete

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.belongs on a fitness 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

The 10 Immutable Laws of Successful Fat Loss

10 Fat loss Secrets

 

10 Fat loss Secrets

In the classic business book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, authors Al Ries and Jack Trout discuss the best marketing practices required to build a successful business. Focus on those 22 Laws of Marketing and you’ll accelerate business, stand out in a crowded world, and of course, make cold, hard, cash.

If you ignore them?

You’ll fail and fall into misery and despair. I’m kidding. But as with all ventures, there are basic principles that drive success. Ignore them at your peril. But should you follow them, you’ll be on the road to success.

The same principles apply to fitness.

You need to ruthlessly execute the basics, particularly if you want to lose fat.

But as anyone who’s struggled with a diet can tell you, simple doesn’t mean dieting is easy.

This post provides you with the principles and tools to succeed in losing fat and looking better naked.

But principles and tools don’t tell the whole story. You’ll also need practical strategies if you want to successfully lose fat.

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


1. The Law of Caloric Restriction

You must restrict calories to trigger fat loss.

The most basic rule of fat loss is governed by energy balance. Energy balance is the relationship between energy in, the calories consumed via cheeseburgers (food) and coffee (drinks) and energy out. Energy out is the calories burned through daily energy requirements and exercise. Basically, if you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming, you should rapidly lose fat. This is an oversimplification because the human body is complex. At their root, all successful fat loss diets focus on caloric restriction to drive fat loss.

Examples:

The Slow Carb Diet: The slow carb diet eliminates most starchy carbs, sugars, and fruits to limit the number calories you take in per day.

The Atkins Diet: The Atkins diet severely limits carbohydrate intake to restrict eating options and drive caloric intake down.

Intermittent Fasting: Intermittent fasting limits the amount of time you can eat in a day, making it damn near impossible to eat too much.

There are many other diets and fat loss methods. At the heart of them all is eating fewer calories than your body burns.

2. The Law of “Why”

Wanting to lose fat isn’t enough. You need a “why.”

Do you want to lose fat and keep it off for good?

How about getting shredded and seeing your abs?

These are common goals, but they aren’t enough to sustain a diet. To lose fat you need to know “why” losing fat matters to you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to get ripped for the beach or lose forty pounds to be healthier and happier.

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Take a conversation I had with one of my clients. It went something like this.

Me: “You mentioned in your application you want to lose fat and see your abs for the first time. That’s great, but let’s dig deeper. Why do you want to lose fat and see your abs?”

Client: “Well, I have a vacation to the beach with friends at the end of April. I was always chubby growing up. Now I want to wow them.”

Me: “Wow, that’s great. Can I ask why you want to wow them?”

Client: “Well, I girl I used to date, Jenna, is going to be there. She didn’t find me as attractive as when we first started dating…although she never said anything. If I lean out and see my abs, I’ll be more confident and who knows, maybe Jenna and I will start talking again.”

The takeaway? Fat loss isn’t the goal. The goal is how you’ll feel once you’ve lost fat.

This “why” is what pushes you to persevere through the tough workouts and hunger pangs to stay the course.

Dig deep and find out the “why” behind your motivation. You won’t always like what you find, but it’s what you need to do to lose fat and keep it off.

3. The Law of Satiation

Eating a high protein and high fiber diet is a pillar for successful fat loss as protein boosts muscle retention (so your muscles look defined once you’re lean) while both fiber and protein keep you full.

So, what’s the secret sauce that makes protein and fiber so important?

Fiber is difficult for your stomach to digest. It takes up a lot of room in your gut and triggers receptors in your brain to tell you you’re full. Even better, fiber slows the release of insulin in your blood stream. So fiber is a slam dunk which helps you control blood sugar for faster fat loss and gains in lean muscle. As a bonus, fiber also improves cardiovascular health, controls diabetes, controls blood pressure, and of course, cleanses your GI tract and give you high-quality poops. 🙂

Consuming more fiber doesn’t have to mean consuming more grains. The best weight loss strategy is to replace grains with fiber-rich greens and fruits. At dinner, think about eating steak and asparagus, not steak and a quadruple bacon burger with fries.

So what about protein?

Eating a high protein diet is arguably the most important factor in improving your physique. For starters, proteins break down into amino acids. These are the powerhouse molecules that replace dead cells, support growth and help synthesize other important molecules in your body.

Eating a high protein diet can boost glucagon, a hormone released when blood sugar drops to stimulate the breakdown of glycogen (stored carbs) into glucose for your body to help you lose stubborn fat.

Compared to lower protein diets, high protein diets help you retain lean muscle mass during a diet while also keeping you full.

To maximize fat loss aim for protein at each meal and aim for at least 1 gram for every pound of bodyweight.

To hit your protein goals, eat lean protein like fish, poultry, lean cuts of beef, and mix in the occasional protein shake.

Eating protein and fiber rich foods keeps you full and provides your body with essential macros, vitamins, and minerals with fewer calories than most other foods. To stay full, optimize health, and avoid crushing a bag of Doritos in a diet fueled eating frenzy, crush your lean meats and veggies.

4. The Law of Longevity

Crash diets are temporary fixes, not long term solutions.

Crash diets promise massive fat loss in the shortest time possible. Look no further than the tabloids you see at finer checkout counters everywhere.

“Lose Ten pounds in Two Weeks!”

“Four Weeks to Fit: Muffin Top Melter”

Sure, these are catchy headlines.(I giggled at “Muffin Top Melter.”)But these not sustainable able methods for lasting fat loss.

So, crash diets are useless, right?

Not quite. Crash diets work for high-level athletes and physique competitors. It can help them get in tip-top shape. For regular folks, crash diets occasionally work in boosting motivation and building momentum for a diet.

But these are the exceptions, not the rule.

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If you want to lose fat and keep it off, then you need a long-term plan, not a hyped up band-aid approach. A better approach is recognizing and modifying the behaviors that got you fat in the first place.

I understand the attraction of following the Grapefruit Diet or whatever shit Gwyneth Paltrow shares on the internet promising 20 pounds off in three weeks. But this is the exact type of yo-yo dieting that leads you to gain and lose the same 20 pounds year after year.

I follow an approach taught by Precision Nutrition to help my clients tweak one small behavior at a time. This builds long-term, sustainable fat loss. Here’s a sample six week approach:

Weeks 1-2: Focus on drinking one glass of water before each meal
For optimal hydration and to keep you full.

Weeks 3-4: Drink a protein shake after your workout
Protein intake is strongly correlated with fat loss and dietary success.

Weeks 5-6: Eat a vegetable with each meal. Vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals to fill you up and give your body the fuel it needs.

Simple? Yes. But simplicity begets consistency, and consistency drives change and fat loss.

Ten percent of the time use an aggressive fat loss approach to move the needle and build momentum. Spend the other ninety percent of your time building better habits to lose fat and keep it off.

5. The Law of Imperfect Progress

No diet is perfect.

Intermittent fasting. Paleo. Atkins. Mediterranean. South Beach. Ketogenic. The Doughnuts, Bourbon, and Steak Diet. (Okay, I just made that one up.)

But they can all work by restricting choices you so eat fewer calories, more protein, and more vegetables. That’s it.

There is no perfect diet. Don’t fall in love with the fancy marketing methods of any particular die. Focus on core principles instead .Eat less, move more, crush vegetables, and eat a high protein diet.

6. The Law of Reverse Dieting

You can’t diet forever without running the risk of metabolic adaptation.

Metabolic adaptation is a change in your metabolism that makes fat loss damn near impossible, even if you’re in a caloric deficit. Tell me if this sounds familiar: You started a diet and those stubborn love handles disappeared fast.

You lost four pounds the first week. Then, another three in week two. But by week six?

Nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. And now you’re pissed and wondering,
“Why can’t I lose weight? UGH. ”

So, you proceed to eat less and less. After weeks, months, and sometimes years of undereating in a desperate attempt to lose fat, your metabolism and fat loss comes to a screeching halt.

This is metabolic adaptation. After long-term dieting, your body begins to burn fewer calories to produce the same amount of energy, metabolism decreases, and catabolic hormones like cortisol skyrocket while anabolic hormones can plummet.

What to do instead?

First, acknowledge you can’t diet forever. There will always be some metabolic adaption when trying to lose fat. But when fat loss comes to a screeching halt you have two options:

Second, incorporate refeed meals. By increasing the amount of food you’re eating you’ll increase leptin levels to boost your metabolism and give yourself a mental break from dieting.

Third, reverse diet back to maintenance calories. Reverse dieting is the process of increasing your calories over time to minimize fat gain and repair your metabolism following a diet. If you’re coming out of a long-term diet and looking to maintain weight loss, reverse dieting is likely your best option. Here’s a sample:

Maintenance Calories: 2550
Fat Loss Diet Calories: 1650

Reverse Diet Week One:1800 Calories
Week Two: 1950 calories
Week three: 2100 calories
Week Four: 2250 Calories
Week Five: 2400 calories
Week Six: 2550 Calories

7. The Law of Tracking Calories

At some point, you must track calories.

Calorie counting is an inexact science at best. At worst? It can lead to neurotically measuring every grain of rice, and building an unhealthy relationship with food. So you’re probably wondering why the hell would I recommend it?

Per the Law of Caloric restriction and the first law of thermodynamics, energy balance, or consuming fewer calories than you burn is still the driving force of fat loss.

There some exceptions, including metabolic adaptation, but this is the general rule.

So why count calories then?

Counting calories gives you the biggest weapon in your fat incinerating arsenal: Awareness.

Most people think they’re doing everything right, yet can’t figure out why they’re not losing fat. Until they track calories. Maybe the culprit is that extra scoop of peanut butter or the sludgy syrup you’re getting pumped into your Starbuck coffee. But you’ll never know until you start tracking.

Now, you don’t need to track calories all the time. I don’t, nor do my clients. But if you’re in an agonizing plateau wondering why you can’t lose fat, then tracking your food to find out what’s causing the issue.

And if you’re looking to get in tip-top, magazine cover shape?

Make it happen. Nearly every ripped person I know has either tracked calories and built solid eating habits for years or still tracks calories to stay in line. Tracking calories gives you the awareness to build habits and maximize fat loss.

8. The Law of Flexible Dieting

Adopt a flexible dieting approach and forgive yourself for diet slip-ups.

My definition of flexible dieting is eating right 90% of the time, then allowing yourself the occasional cheat meal before getting back on your diet. After all, a key tenant of the Bach Performance community is that fitness should improve your life, not consume it.

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Stick to your diet most of the time. When you slip up, have a short memory. Forgive yourself forgive and make the next best decision. The stricter you are with hitting your diet 100% perfect 100% of the time the more likely you’ll go insane, develop a case of the “fuck-it’s” and quit.

One meal won’t ruin a diet and one Oreo doesn’t need to be a whole carton of Oreos. A life obsessed with diet and body composition isn’t a life at all. Make the best decisions most of the time, forgive yourself for the slip-up, and get back on track.

9. The Law of Lifting

The purpose of lifting weights is to build strength and muscle.

The role of weight training in a diet is to preserve the strength and muscle you already have. You’ll maintain anabolic hormone levels like testosterone and growth hormone, both of which support higher lean muscle mass and less fat mass.

This results in faster fat loss and reveals a strong, lean, and aesthetic body…not the dreaded skinny fat look from crummy training during a diet.

Lift heavy at least once per week if you want to stay strong and muscular during a fat loss diet.

For my clients, this means picking one upper body and one lower body lift to hammer in the gym each week. Rep schemes like 4×4, 5×5, and 6×3 work best.

Upper Body: Overhead press, chin-up, bench press, dip, row
Lower Body: Clean, squat, deadlift, lunge

Start with a moderate load and increase weight by 5-10% each set, aiming to reach your heaviest set in 4-6 sets. Ramping sets work better to avoid excess fatigue in your already depleted state.

10. The Law of Singular Focus

You can get stronger, lose fat, and build muscle…but pick one at a time.

I specialize in working with folks looking to get more athletic while losing fat and building muscle. Basically, if you want to look better naked and perform like an athlete, I’m your guy. But while we can improve all these factors at the same time, it’s much more effective to go all in on one goal at a time.

This is because at any given moment your body is either anabolic (building, such as building muscle or accumulating fat mass) or catabolic (breaking down fat, muscle, or carbohydrates for energy). This means at any given moment you’re either losing fat or gaining muscle…but not both. So, this would lead you to believe you can’t build muscle and lose fat at the same time, right?

Actually, you can. While your body can only build or breakdown fuel at one time, it can switch between phases of being anabolic and catabolic throughout the day. For example, increasing testosterone can help you simultaneously increase lean muscle and decrease fat mass.

For most people chasing simultaneous fat loss and muscle building is the first-class ticket to spin your wheels for weeks and months, hopping from program to program and diet to diet.

Go all in with one goal, make it happen, then switch gears.

Execute the Basics

Most people want to lose fat, get healthy, and look better naked. Fewer educate themselves on what actually works. After that, less than 10% of people are willing to do what it takes. Which one are you?

As a gift, I want to simplify fat loss for you with two gifts:

  • This entire article into a short checklist: I want you to be able to quickly reference this guide whenever you feel overwhelmed with your diet or training. Print it out and keep it forever.
  • A FREE Fat Loss Email Course: This is a lot of information to take in at once. Let me give you the step by step process to losing fat and keeping it off like the thousands of clients we’ve helped over the years.

    All you have to do is click here to grab those two FREE Gifts. Enjoy!

 

 

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