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The Power Primer: How an Embarrassing Story lead me to focus on Athleticism

hormones

( First, I have a story. Honestly,  it’s not a story I like to tell because it was embarrassing and a difficult time. Still, I’m sure you can relate.

At the end, I’ll tell you about my latest Workout, the Power Primer 2.0. The Power Primer is three full workout programs (36 weeks) of top-notch programming to help you build a body that performs like a top athlete…and looks good naked. But I’ll get to that later.  ) 

As a kid athleticism was never an issue.  I played a ton of sports, ran around the neighborhood making forts and playing pick-up games.

But, I was small and weak. Puny even. Especially compared to my classmates.

As a result, I was timed. I lacked confidence in how I looked, and how I performed playing sports.

This built up until at all once, it came to head.  It was high school gym class in late October. In Wisconsin, the frigid temperatures meant the ground was rock solid. Every time you hit the ground, it felt like falling on a pile of rocks.

We were playing flag Football…where the idea is to pull a flag rather than tackle each other into oblivion. Well, that’s the idea anyways.
Being a smaller, fast dude I was playing safety. My job was to run anyone down who might score.

The other team lined up and through the ball to Jason. Jason was the token overdeveloped, terminator of a dude that dominated every sport. He caught it and sprinted in my direction.
Soon, I was in the last place a puny unconfident dude wanted to be: between Jason and the end zone.

Jason had two options; race past me, or run through me.

Naturally, Jason decided I provided less resistance than a blade of grass. So he lowered his shoulder and sent my helpless corpse tumbling to the turf as he gliding to the end zone.

I looked up at the overcast sky. I heard the jeers. And then I lay there ,motionless for a moment.
Physically, I was a mess.

My wind was gone. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.

My body ached and throbbed after getting tossed like a lifeless doll across the turf.

And that was just the start.

Mentally, I felt weak, pathetic, and insignificant.

I peeled my carcass off the grass, stumbled to a knee, and caught my breath.
As I stumbled to the sidelines, chin down and arm cradled at my side, the jeers and taunts grew louder.

I walked away from everyone: friends, teachers, and classmates.

I stood there, staring blankly into nowhere. I just wanted to be alone.

The skin on my cheeks tightened and my eyes got big. I held back tears of embarrassment. But my cheeks blushed, illustrating exactly how I felt inside.

Fuck it.  

Why was I even bothering with this stuff?

Then, I snapped out of it. Instead of moping around and feeling sorry for myself, I got pissed.

Pride, passion, perseverance.

I heard the voice of an old coach saying these words. Whenever a game got tough, that was his credo.

That did it. It was a turning point.  Why let some asshole like Jason ruin me?

From there on, I dedicated myself to training.

To getting bigger, stronger, and better. To forge a body and will harder than iron.

Fast forward eight years. Sixty pounds of muscle and a ton of enhanced confidence later, I was a coach.

Sixty pounds of muscle and a ton of enhanced confidence later, I was a coach.

Helping athletes and other dudes get strong, jacked, and athletic was my passion.

And then it happened.

I was at a seminar, working with other trainers and a handful of coaches on sprint technique.

Problem was, I hadn’t done much in the way of sprinting, jumping, or sports in a few years.

Competitive and intramurals sports were over.

Now, I relegated my fitness to lifting heavy shit and the bi-monthly sprint workout.

We all stood in a line, facing the instructor, and began a skipping drill.

I tried my best to mimic the drill he covered, but to no avail. I skipped awkwardly, like a teenager who had just finished his growth spurt. Bewildered by my lack of coordination, I lost focused and stumbled over my own feet.

What in the fuck was I doing?

Rather than the athleticism I’d had my whole life, I looked like a convulsing teenager who had just seen his first FULL BOOB.

The same crushing embarrassment took hold. My skin flushed. This time, I cracked a joke.

It was my new coping mechanism. But I wasn’t really fooling anyone, least of all myself.

Despite a fake smile and a few jokes, my gut wrenched. I stood there, embarrassed and dumbfounded.

Sure, I was strong, lean, and pretty built. But where had all l my athleticism gone?

Further, I asked what’s the point in all this heavy lifting, counting macros, and dedication if we ignore the basic idea of improving athleticism?

That’s the problem I’d set out to fix. First for myself, and then for hundreds of clients who wanted to be the total package: strong, lean, and athletic.
Today, more than ever, many of us are weak. Many kids drop out of sports by age 12.

Overprotective parents don’t help. Neither do sedentary desk jobs.

Neither do sedentary desk jobs.
And despite the increasing popularity of fitness, actual sports and athleticism are quickly going down the shitter.

 

The result?

A fair number of strong and lean bodies, but piss-poor athleticism and power.

To steal from Nate Green’s masterful rant titled “For the Guys who Don’t Workout.

“But you gotta understand the gym doesn’t define me. I am not my broad shoulders. I am not my six-pack. I am not my freakin’ biceps.”

Sure, your broad shoulders, six-pack, and biceps are great. But you deserve more. You deserve a capable body and the unconquerable will that comes with building athleticism and powerful performance.

And that means changing your training to incorporate values of athleticism, namely, explosive power.

After working with hundreds of clients, I’ve found that adding in explosive power to be the best method for getting what we all want: a strong, shredded, and athletic body.

That’s exactly what these five exercises deliver: a blend of strength, athleticism, and explosive power to unleash your inner athlete.

By adding these five movements alone into your training, you’ll be light years more athletic than the average meathead.

5 Power Primer Exercises to Build Athleticism

Jump Rope

Jump ropes aren’t a stupid tool you force-fed in Elementary school. They’re a badass old-school tool that boosts athleticism and shreds bodyfat.

Let’s dive into boosting athleticism first.

Jumping rope develops speed, agility, and coordination for sports. Sprinting is great too ( and I’ll cover it later), but for dudes who haven’t run around the block in five years, jumping into full-speed sprints is asking for injuries.

You wouldn’t jump into near-maximal lifting after a long layoff, would you?

Nah. You’re smarter than that.

The same philosophy applies to sprints. You must first condition your joints and ligaments, especially the Achilles tendon, for high-speed impact.

Even better, the jump rope is a one of the safest conditioning tools for two reasons:

First, jumping rope is a self-limiting exercise, meaning that when your form breaks down the exercise ends.

To be successful skippin’ the ole’ rope, you’re forced to stay in an aligned, joint stacked position, stabilizing your core under the load of movement.

bach performance jump rope, athleticism, power primer, the power primer
This teaches your core to hold position under movement while preventing the chances of overuse.

Second, jumping rope is low-impact despite a high number of foot strikes. This keeps the joint stress low and conditions the Achilles tendon for explosive movement. Achilles tendon injuries are alarmingly common in weekend warriors.

The jump rope provides one of the best prevention tools around. It is exceptionally effective both as a low impact athleticism and conditioning tool. For most, jumping rope two or three times per week for 10-15 minutes provides a huge boost.

Squat Jump

The squat jump is one of the best exercises to improve your power and get more athletic, especially if your gym doesn’t allow Olympic lifts. Squat jumps mimic the squat and a vertical jump, bridging the gap between jumping in sport and squatting in the gym.

In the short term, these explosive exercises improve your workouts by activating high-threshold motor units to fire and recruit more muscle during training. This means you’ll be able to lift more weight and stimulate more muscle growth and strength during workouts. 

 

In the long-term, you’ll recruit more muscle fibers with less effort.

This makes it easier to call all more muscle to action and smash heavy weights, thus helping you build a strong, lean, and explosive body.

How to do it: There are three phases: loading, exploding, and landing.

Loading: Set up with feet about shoulder-width apart in an athletic stance with arms up at chest height. The loading phase uses downward arm swing with flexing at the hips and knees to load your legs.

Exploding: Swing your arms up while extending your hips and knees, taking off on the balls of your feet. Extend the arms overhead and aim to extend the body with the ankle, knee, hip, trunk, shoulder, and ear all aligned.

Landing: Bend your knees into a squat position and absorb force evenly through the foot. Keep your chest and head up, looking straight ahead.

How many: Three sets of five reps with 60-90 seconds rest. Perform on a lower-body training day, before a squat or deadlift.

Hill Sprints

Sprinters have some of the world’s best bodies. And while correlation does not equal causation, sprinting is a basic skill in sports and gets you shredded.

So what’s the key?

Sprints create a physiological response like high-intensity weight lifting.
In sprinting, your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips generate insane amounts of force while your spine stabilizes and transfers power.
This builds stronger legs and youthful athleticism while triggering a massive hormonal shift in your body.

 

Three hormones that help you look better naked are affected by sprints:

Testosterone – The major masculinizing hormone in your body. Greater testosterone levels improve your energy, improve sex drive (wee!), build stacks of lean mass, and cut body fat.

Growth Hormone (GH) – GH is released in response to large muscle contractions and is further stimulated by training without full recovery.

Triggered by metabolic stress, the stressful environment when you’re gasping for air and muscles are on fire, GH is referred to as the fountain of youth. GH slows the aging process, aid in fatty acid metabolism, and boost protein synthesis.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity – Huge muscular contractions stimulate improved insulin sensitivity, which improves markers of cardiovascular health, builds lean muscle, and carves body fat off your body.

Further, improved insulin sensitivity improves nutrient partitioning. That means your body improves at breaking down nutrients for energy and muscular recovery rather than fat storage.

What to Do: Hill or incline sprints are best as they reduce injury risk. The hill makes it mechanically impossible to over stride, decreasing the risk of the dreaded hamstring pull.

Further, running up a hill shrinks the distance your foot covers to the ground, decreasing joint stress.Sprint twice per week, as an individual workout or after a lift.
After a warm-up, sprint all out for eight – twelve rounds of sprints.

Here’s a sample six-week progression:

Weeks One and Two: Sprint 15 seconds, rest 45 seconds
Weeks Three and Four: Sprint 20 seconds, rest 40 seconds
Weeks Five and Six: Sprint 25 seconds, rest 35 seconds

High Pull

I love cleans, but for a lot of lifters, years of heavy loading and poor thoracic mobility make it impossible to catch the bar with the elbows up. Enter the high pull.

The high pull uses explosive hip extension, teaching the glutes, quads, and hamstrings to generate insane amounts of force while your core stabilizes your spine and elbows drive the bar up.

As a result, the high pull helps you develop explosive athletic power and builds a jacked and athletic body. After a few weeks of high pulls, you’ll notice thicker glutes and hamstrings to pair with thick traps and cables for forearms.

High pulls are great on both upper and lower body days. Since they’re explosive in nature, make high-pulls the first exercise you do in training to get more athletic with sets and reps like 3-4 sets of 3-6 reps.If you want to add a bit more size, add them after your main lift for 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps.

Clean Grip Reverse Lunge

Most lifters have tight hips, achy knees, a weak upper back, underactive abs and tons of asymmetries between their legs. If I told you I had an exercise that takes care of all these ailments and makes you more athletic and resistance to injury, you’d say I was full of shit, right?

Well, I’m not. The clean grip reverse lunge is that exercise.

Reverse-Lunge-Side

Stronger thoracic extensors: Are you hunched over your smartphone reading this?

Tsk, Tsk!

Bad posture is an epidemic and we’re all guilty. To improve posture and shoulder health we need to train the traps, serratus, levator scapulae, rhomboids, and lats to hold position and prevent you from flexing forward. Holding the bar in the clean grip does exactly that.

 

Less Knee Stress: Holding the barbell on the front of your body limits the weight you can use. That means less joint compression on the knee and spine.
Further, stepping backward keepings your shin vertical, limiting shear stress on the knee. By reducing shear and compressive stress, you’ll keep happier, healthier knees.

Better Abs: Holding the bar on the front of your body forces your entire core to engage, keeping your vertical so you don’t fold like an accordion.

Fix asymmetries: The clean grip reverse lunge requires dynamic stabilization and single leg strength. This works the major muscles in your leg and what’s termed the lateral subsystem, a group of neglected muscles (quadratus lumborum, adductors, and glutes) to stabilize each leg and generate strength.

Medicine Ball back Toss

The medicine ball back toss is one of the best exercises to get more athletic for two reasons:
1. You get to throw stuff.
After a long day, or just for the hell of it, it’s fun to throw heavy stuff around.
2. Explosive Hip Extension.
Explosive hip extension is the driving force behind taking off in a sprint, maximizing your clean, squat, or deadlift, and jumping. Adding a medicine ball is just another way to add explosiveness to the same movement pattern while having a bit more fun.

Instead of squats or deadlifts, add medicine ball back tosses in the beginning of your workout for 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps.

The Power Primer 2.0 is here!

Most lifters fall into the trap of endlessly pursuing one goal at the expense of all other training parameters.

That’s fine for elite athletes. But for the rest of us, we’re after the total package.

There’s no better tool to bridge the gap between the body you want and the athleticism you deserve than my latest program The Power Primer, 2.0.

I’ve created eight months worth of programming to get you Strong, Shredded, and Athletic. This isn’t a program for athletes.

It’s for those of us that refuse to accept pathetic athleticism a the cost of building your best-looking body.

It’s time to bridge the gap between athleticism and aesthetics.

It’s time to unleash the Power Primer and build your leanest, strongest, and most athletic body to date.

For less than you spend on protein powder each month, you’ll have all your workouts expertly planned, organized, and guided by a custom video guide from now until 2017.

Get the Power Primer Today

Athlete Strong in 12 Weeks, Power Primer


1. Gould D, Petlichkoff L. Participation motivation and attrition in young athletes. In: Smoll FL, Magill RA, Ash MJ, eds. Children in Sport. 3rd ed. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics; 1988:161-178.

Four Training Splits to Build an Athletic Body

The Power Primer

We’ve both been there. Your bar speed is explosive on every rep, and you’re adding strength regularly.

Your skin is tighter, shirt sleeves stretching, and muscles bulging as you’re building muscle and losing fat simultaneously.

You’ve got tons of energy, feel athletic, and are crushing your training.
Then WHAM. Like getting hit by a semi, your progress comes screeching to a halt.

Suddenly, your joints ache. Without four cups of coffee, you’re unmotivated, mentally foggy, and exhausted. You get through one or two easy warm-up sets and you’ve had enough–the gym is the last place you want to be. Suffice to say, your training sucks.

Except for the occasional finisher, brutal conditioning workout, or off day you should make constant gains and enjoy training. That’s why when your training takes a sharp dive off the deep end and your progress stalls it’s time to change.

Not just your grip or your stance. Nor a change from front squats to back squats.

No, I’m talking a monumental shift. A new training split. Yes, your long-term training principles should remain constant, but you need new methods. As long as you’re adding weight to the bar, moving like an explosive athlete, eating well, and sleeping enough then a new training split is what you need to build an athletic body.

The Power Primer, athletic body

 

And despite what some coaches say, there’s no one size fit’s all approach to training splits. A bodybuilder shouldn’t train exactly like an athlete, nor should a powerlifter train exactly like a weekend pavement pounder. Your training depends on your goals, energy system requirements, schedule, and individual differences.

That said, let’s review the best splits to help you build a stronger, shredded, and athletic body.  I’ll explain the good and the bad of each, giving you the knowledge to pick your next training split so you can build the lean, athletic look you’re after.

Either way, a new program is exciting—renewed motivation will have you attacking each workout with eye-splitting intensity.

Decide your goal, stick to sound principles, and pick the training routine that best fits your goals.

Upper Lower Training Split

Upper-lower training splits are a novel progression for total-body training splits to allow more recovery and training volume. Upper body and lower body days alternate for 4 workouts in a 7-day training split.

Pros: Upper-Lower training splits are a great progression from total body training and work well with most populations looking to gain size and strength concurrently. Upper-Lower splits allow greater training frequency for quicker learning and mastery while still using significant loading, aka big ole’ weights like a boss. Upper-lower splits offer a moderate training frequency and Moderate-high volume for gains hypertrophy.

Cons: There are unbalanced training times with upper body workouts taking much longer than most lower body sessions. Upper-lower training splits offer shorter recovery time between training sessions compared to body-part splits, which may hinder recovery if you’re not getting enough sleep, working on tissue quality, nor eating enough steak. (P.S. here’s my favorite steak recipe)

Lower body training is brutal; doing it two times per week might be too much for the weak minded.

Example:

Monday: Upper Body (Push Strength Emphasis)

Tuesday: Lower Body (Squat Pattern Strength Emphasis)

Wednesday: Off/active recovery

Thursday: Upper Body (Pull Strength Emphasis)

Friday: Lower Body (Hinge pattern strength Focus)

Saturday/Sunday: Off

Total Body Training Split

Total body training splits are maximally efficient and train the body as a unit rather than it’s component parts.

Pros: Total body splits are maximally efficient for those short on time and looking for full body stimulation. High frequency of stimulation for muscles and moderate training volume suits many goals, such as fat loss, strength building, and muscular hypertrophy. Total body training is good for building an athletic body and allows movement training like sprints.

Minimized “fluff” forces workouts to focus on the essential, not 13 variations of lateral raises. Total body workouts are great for beginners, fat loss, and general health. It’s easy to integrate other training modalities around total body routines as most movements and muscles are hit during each workout.

 

Cons: Low intra-workout volume will minimize metabolic stress related hypertrophy, so it’s not the best for your sweet, sweet biceps gains.

Plus, stronger lifters tend to struggle with recoverability from training legs 3x+/week. It’s a difficult split to train more than 3-4x per week without knowledge and self-awareness for auto-regulation.

Among all programs, these are the universal “best” for most busy dudes. They cover all your bases and eliminate the fluff. 

Example:

Monday:

1.Power Clean 5×3

2.Bench Press 3×6

3.Lunge 3×8-12

4a.Farmer Walks 3×30 seconds

4b. Dips 3x 30 seconds timed set

Tuesday: OFF/conditioning

Wednesday:

1.Push Press 5×3

2.Deadlift 4×6

3.Chin Up 3×8-12

4a.Plank 3×30 seconds

4b. Biceps Curl 3x 30 seconds timed set

Thursday: OFF/conditioning

Friday:

1. Back Squat 5×3

2. Bent Over Row 4×6

3. Dumbbell Bench Press 3×8-12

4a. Kettlebell Crosswalk 3×30 seconds

4b. Hip Thrust 3×12

Saturday/Sunday: Off/Conditioning

3. Push-Pull Training Split

Push/Pull Training splits break training up by movement pattern. The movements on the posterior side of the body are predominantly responsible for pulling actions like deadlifts and chin-ups while the front/anterior side of the body is responsible for pushing actions like push-ups.

Unless you’re a glutton for punishment and want to try legs four days per week, pair legs on pull days.

Pros: Push-Pull routines are suitable for intermediate-advanced trainees. Push-pull routines are an economical way to train and allow for flexible planning. Moderate training frequency is better for skill acquisition, meaning you’ll learn movements and exercises faster.
You can combine push-pull routines combine with other training splits to create hybrid programs like an upper-lower push-pull routine.

Cons: Push-pull splits are limited with athletic populations unless you break up upper and lower body sessions. In this case, it becomes difficult to maximize training efficiency. Push-pull routines are a bit advanced for beginners looking to maximize their gains.

Example:

Day One: Pull (legs/hamstrings, back, biceps, lower back)

Day Two: Push (chest, shoulders, triceps, legs/quads, abs)

Day Three: OFF

Day Four: Pull (legs/hamstrings, back, biceps, lower back)

Day Five: Push (chest, shoulders, triceps, legs/quads, abs)

Day Six: OFF

Day Seven: OFF

4. Intensive/Extensive Training Split

Giggity.

These are my favorite.

The intensive/extensive split bases training splits on the neural demands of a workout. For example, a heavy/explosive day is often followed by a metabolic/higher volume day.

This also corresponds with conditioning.

So, a workout focused on jumps, cleans, heavy squats, and sprints is neurally demanding as it drains your nervous system. Without ample recovery between intensive training sessions, you’ll feel like garbage and injury risk will sky-rocket.

Instead of back-to-back heavy, you’d want to make your next session higher rep, less intense (in terms of loading and explosive exercises), and focused more on the pump.

Three or four days of training per week works best.

Pros: Intensive/Extensive training splits are advanced programming strategy for athletes looking to take the next step. Great for building an athletic body and training movement skills like acceleration in coordination with resistance training. Intensive/Extensive splits offer a sound progression for developing greater levels of performance.

Cons: Intensive/extensive training splits are advanced and complicated to design. IF your primary goal is to look great naked, you’ll want to eliminate *some* of the movement training and focus more on higher-rep work for better muscle building. Workouts are longer in duration on intensive days due to neural recovery demands of intense exercise.

Get Athletic an Athletic Body:

This example uses a Push-pull split (mentioned above) with movement training if you’re a competitive athlete.

Monday: Speed work (before if competitive, conditioning if non-competitive athlete), Olympic lift+ compound push exercises

Tuesday: Metabolic/ change of direction (before if competitive, conditioning if non-competitive athlete), Pull Emphasis

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Speed work, Olympic lift+ compound push exercises

Friday: Metabolic focus, pull emphasis in weight room

Saturday/Sunday: Active Recovery

 

 

Look Good Naked:

This is focused on keeping you athletic, but a bit more on body composition so you look hot.

Monday:  Olympic lift+ compound push exercises, Heavy and explosive. Light conditioning.

Tuesday: Pull Emphasis, high rep (8-15+) and hypertrophy focused. Hard conditioning.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Olympic lift+ compound pull exercises. Heavy and explosive, light conditioning.

Friday: Pull Emphasis, high rep (8-15+) and hypertrophy focused.

Saturday/Sunday: Hard conditioning 1x, active recovery

 

5. Primary Mover + Opposing Supersets

Also known as non-competing supersets or agonist, antagonist supersets these training splits work opposing muscle groups together. For example, a dumbbell bench press and a chest supported row.

Pros: Non-competing supersets are good for building muscle and achieving training balance.

You don’t want to be lopsided or injury prone, right?

Increased blood flow to antagonist muscle groups may improve performance and metabolic stress-related hypertrophy. Non-competing supersets are flexible and can allow for 3-6 days of training based on training age. Supersets are easily done to maximize training efficiency.

Cons: Difficult to integrate movement skills, but you can easily use jumping rope or sprinting as conditioning as a second workout.  A bit advanced for beginners and tough to recover from for older dudes.

Example:

Monday: Chest+ Back

Tuesday: Legs optional Shoulders, sprints

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Chest/Back, sprints

Friday: Biceps/Triceps

Saturday/Sunday: active recovery/off

 

Training Split Considerations:

Above all else your training must be specific to your goal. IF that means getting jacked and athletic, then stop wasting your time on useless body part splits.

No matter how #beastmode you go– you won’t be a stronger, leaner, and more athletic by spending half your time curling in the squat rack.

How much time will you dedicate to training? Regardless of how “busy” you are you still have 24 hours like the rest of us. I don’t say this to be a dick, but it’s true.
You have the time to prioritize training if you want your dream body. Regardless, weigh how committed you are and pick a training split you know you’ll crush. For most dudes, that means crushing a total body training split so they cover all their bases.

Remember, a so-so training split done consistently is better than the best training split done inconsistently.

Training Experience: How strong and experienced are you in the gym?

For most guys, they’re best off crushing total body or upper lower training splits to get strong, explosive and athletic. Still, make sure you’re varying training as you gain strength and experience to prevent plateaus and minimize joint stress.

Recovery: The body is an integrated system. Rather than looking at recovery based on how your muscles feel you must take into account everyday stress, the nervous system, sleep quality, and nutrition.

For example, for a the past few years I crushed training in a high-end performance facility. That meant tons of sprints, jumps, throws, coffee, and explosive demonstrations. All these short, high-intensity bouts added up quickly, and I had to dial back heavy lifting, sprints, and jumps.
Now that I train fewer clients, write more, and demo less, I’m more recovered and can train harder more often.

Stress is systemic, everything counts and should be factored into your training.

Your Training Split to Build an Athletic Body

If your current training isn’t helping your build an athletic body, then  you need to analyze your training, recovery, diet, and supplementation to fill in the gaps.

It doesn’t need to be complicated– find a program that fits your schedule, allows hard, athletic training, recover, and stick to it for the next 12 weeks. Then, reassess things once gains slow down and revisit this article to shock your body into new growth.

thePowerprimer athlete strong

>> Get The Power Primer here <<

Most lifters fall into the trap of endlessly pursuing one goal at the expense of all other training parameters.

That’s fine for elite athletes. But for the rest of us, we’re after the total package.

There’s no better tool to bridge the gap between the body you want and the athleticism you deserve than my latest program The Power Primer, 2.0.

I’ve I’ve created a Full Eight Months worth of programming to get you Strong, Shredded, and Athletic. This isn’t a program for athletes.

It’s for those of us that refuse to accept pathetic athleticism a the cost of building your best-looking body.

It’s time to bridge the gap between athleticism and aesthetics.

It’s time to unleash the Power Primer and build your leanest, strongest, and most athletic body to date.

Think about it.

For less than you spend on protein powder each month, you’ll have all your workouts expertly planned, organized, and guided by a custom video guide from now until 2017.

Get the Power Primer today.

1. Gould D, Petlichkoff L. Participation motivation and attrition in young athletes. In: Smoll FL, Magill RA, Ash MJ, eds. Children in Sport. 3rd ed. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics; 1988:161-178.

Fitness Guide to Parkinson’s Law: How to Lose Fat Faster

parkinsons-law

Flashback to 2014.

My days all started the same: Up at 4:00 a.m., a cup of black coffee, and heading to the gym.

Then, in a caffeine infused blitzkrieg, the day was on. Clients from 5 am to 6 or 7 pm, with a few one-hour breaks.

These one-hour breaks were a godsend. Besides getting off my feet, they were long enough to do meaningful work but short enough to create a sense of urgency.

Bach Performance was a baby at the time, a spot for me to explore my brain and write about fitness to help my clients, friends, and family. But, despite a lack of time, I made big moves.

Fast forward to today: Bach Performance is my full-time job. Rather than five or six days and 50 clients, I hold a limited clientele with three to four days and 25-30 sessions per week.

My schedule is self-determined, and more or less, I do what I want every day.

But that also leaves me more time than I’m used too. There are no extraneous demands on my time, so common sense would say I would get exponentially more work done, right?

Nope.

coffee

Logically that makes sense, but we live in an illogical world.

If everything worked as it seemed, we’d lose stubborn belly fat on the Twinkie diet….as long as calories were in check. By following progressive overload and adding 5 lbs on the bench press, we’d go from a Zero pound bench to 520 lb bench in two years.

That isn’t always the case.

Until six months ago, I had all the time in the world. I didn’t have as many client deadlines and let time slip through my fingers.

Instead of spending my time writing programs, I was geeking out to BroScience videos.

Or reading every Packers’ article on Bleacher report.

Or, #ing my face off on Instagram.

Then, the question hit me like a cold slap in the face: Why wasn’t I hitting my goals?

It wasn’t having too much time, it was a lack of urgency with the limited time I did have.

I’d fallen prey to Parkinsons Law. Coined by famous Brit Cyril Northcote Parkinson, Parkinson’s Law sits at the forefront of productivity hacking and is the focus on Parkinson’s book, Parkinsons Law: The Pursuit of Progress(1).

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

Parkinson’s Law: ‘Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

Parkinson’s law means that if you give yourself six weeks to tackle a project that you can handle in one week, procrastination seeps in, the task get’s complex, and you’ll freak out until it’s done.

The same meaningless, productivity-zapping stress happens with fitness.

In particular, fat loss around the New Year.

Tell me if these proclamations sound familiar:

This year, I’m going to lose 20 pounds and look awesome in my swimsuit.

Reality: You can do this in two or three months.

This year, I’m going to workout consistently.

Reality: This year is a long time. Focus on working out consistently this week, then each of the following.

By assigning the right amount of time and focus to a goal, you’ll decrease stress and the complexity of said goal, increasing your chance of success.

I’ve seen Parkinson’s law crush the fitness goals of hundreds of people, all under the pretense that there’s always tomorrow.

There’s not. We’re guaranteed nothing and time in a finite resource.

It’s time to have a sense of urgency, working smarter and faster, rather than longer and harder. Here are the action steps you need to accomplish your fitness goals in less time.

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

Set Tight Deadlines

Deadline set by teachers, clients, or bosses have an immediate sense of urgency. Still, it’s a new ballgame when deadlines are self-imposed. We struggle to attach the same focus and intensity on self-imposed deadlines.

This is what cripples most people from the start—they aren’t aggressive enough on their gameplan.

Try This: Designate time to your goal:

Three months to lose 10 lbs. of body fat.

Then cut it in half.

Six weeks to lose 10 lbs. of body fat.

“Goals are often something to aim for, rather than always achieve.” Bruce Lee

An aggressive deadline forces aggressive action, which this is precisely what you need. Channel your competitive streak and apply it to fitness.

believe, lose Fat Faster

If you’re a gamer, pretend you’re on a time sensitive mission.

If you’re an athlete, pretend it’s six weeks until the season starts, and your roster spot and workout bonus (there’s a reason for these) depend on it.

By attaching a sense of urgency and competition to your goal you’re setting the table for high-quality action and rapid progress.

Define your M.I.T.’s for the Following Day:

Pick the 1-3 Most important tasks (M.I.T.’s) you will complete towards your goal.

You have six weeks to lose 10 lbs, so we’ll start there.

Number One: Track your food and hit your macros (Mike Vacanti has an epic post here). Diet is king for fat loss, after all.

Number Two: Perform your Fat Loss workout, such as Blended Training for Fat Loss.

Number Three: Walk 10,000 steps.

Of these three steps, hitting your diet is the most important task for losing ten pounds, followed by your workout and extra activity.

Base hits lead to runs the same as homers do, and over time, many more runs. Focus on consistent wins on MIT’s and you’ll achieve your longer-term fat loss goals.

Own the A.M.: Be proactive, not REACTIVE.

Willpower is highest in the morning and the best time to take care of your M.I.T.’s.

This is the time to be proactive and take massive action towards your goals, rather than react to the demands of others.

Personally, my writing is 200% better at 5:00 A.M. than 5:00 P.M., when I’ve answered emails and had meetings. Later in the day, I’m much more concerned with what I’m going to eat for dinner and Snapping pictures of Rocky on SnapChat (bachreric, btw ;).

Yes. This is a real unicorn mask.
Yes. This is a real unicorn mask.

If I don’t own the morning, my days aren’t productive.

In Fitness, the same principles apply. My 5:00-8:00 am clients have historically been my most consistent clients by a mile, and it’s due to more than caffeine.

They’re proactively working out before the chaos of the day gives them a reason to skip.

The same applies to your diet.

If you wait until the end of the day to track your macros, you’ll skip it or way overshoot your numbers.

I can’t stress this enough, but for 90% of people getting up and nailing your workout early is a game changer.

There’s a reason Mike Vacanti trains Gary Vaynerchuck at 6:00 A.M., or that Phil Knight crushes his workouts at 5:00 A.M., and Richard Branson all workout early in the day (3).

As the day goes on more important work crisis come up and give you an easy (albeit lame) excuse to skip your training.

Eliminate the issue and start training early in the morning. These tips here will help.

Eliminate Distractions

“It’s hip to focus on getting things done, but this can only happen when we remove static and distraction. “ – Tim Ferriss

In today’s fast-paced world, having internal focus is a rarity.

It’s sad, but true.

Rather than falling prey to internal A.D.D., take action and eliminate the noise.

To get anything meaningful accomplished discipline alone won’t cut it. Instead, take action to end distractions. To get work done, use websites like Self-Control and throw your phone in another room.

When you’re working out, leave your iPhone in your bag pick up a don’t skip more than two songs and leave your phone in your gym bag.

For fitness information, pick out two websites and eliminate the rest. Program hopping and yo-yo dieting are huge reason people never see results. Don’t even risk falling in love with the next big fad diet.

Most programs from good coaches work well, follow them to their completion and eliminate distractions.

We’re an ADD-ridden bunch and we’ll get lost for hours on LOLCatz if allowed. Eliminate distractions and focus on the essential.

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

Attach a Reward

All goals are reward driven.

There’s an emotional key behind every goal whether it’s more confidence, better health, finding love or being more attractive.

There are also external rewards. As psychologist B.F. Skinner puts it, positive reinforcement strengths a behavior by providing a reward for completing a task.

In school, this could have been a pizza party for turning all your homework in on time.

SCORE.

pizza, lose Fat Faster, Parkinsons law

Or, getting A and a star sticker on each assignment.

“The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.“ BF Skinner

As external rewards apply to fitness, I won’t advocate pizza for reach workout, but you can attach external rewards.

Small rewards like a compliment from a coworker or social reinforcement on Facebook are important.

Bigger rewards, like winning cash in a transformation content, buying new clothes at the end of a diet, or going to the beach for a long weekend and kickin’ back a few cocktails in your new bikini, are also important.

Whatever your goal, understand what emotionally drives your decision. Then, apply extrinsic rewards that reinforce and motivate you to take massive action. With an aggressive timeline, social support and rewards push you to achieve more in less time.

Take Action and Lose Fat Faster

Parkinson’s law is more than a productivity theory for entrepreneurs, it’s a thought process that forces you to take positive action in all areas of life.

Set a tight deadline, focus on the essential, take action, and set-up rewards to make it happen.

P.S.

Are you struggling to set goals, hit deadlines, and build your best body?

Sick of spinning your wheel and not seeing results despite your hard work?

Join Bach Performance Elite Online Training for the expert coaching, accountability, and motivation to build your best body. Only two spots left this month, apply here: Elite Online Coaching 

 

 

Links and Helpful Resources:

  1. Parkinsons Law: Read the Full book here.
  1. Bruce Lee: My daily reading is Striking Thoughts. Be like water my friends.
  2. Seriously, check out this list of Successful people who workout early.
  3. Tim Ferriss: Four Hour WorkWeek
  1. We all need a basic understanding of Human Psychology. This article and this book are good places to start

 

The Fitness Myth That Kills Progress

gains2

There is a fitness perpetuated by the fitness industry.

No one is innocent.

Not me, you, expert coaches, powerlifters, athletes, CrossFitters, or the swole bro’s at your gym.

It leads to information overload and the frustration of pulling your hair out and worrying that you’re doing it all wrong. It leads you to ditch your diet for the next cure-all diet plan, the next perfect workout, and another 6-week empty promise.

You’re constantly bombarded with information, leading to yo-yo diets, overuse injuries, and ineffective training.
You know the feeling. When you’re sitting with your coffee, digging into your reading list.

Your hands jitter, your mind races like a meth-laden hamster stuck on his wheel. More often than not, you’re …do I have it all wrong? 

Am I not doing enough?

I read squats are good, let’s do 10×10 instead of 3×8.

Sprints too, how about hill sprints after squats? We fall into a trap that if “some” workout is good, then doubling its intensity or volume is even better.

Which all leads me to the title of this post: The Biggest Fitness Myth Killing your progress.

If a little is good, then more is better.

Applied outside of fitness justifying the “for more is better” idea seems ludicrous, but logic is perpetually ignored when it comes to training.

If two beers gets you buzzed, then let’s drink six and a do Power Hour!

If you need you need to get from home to work and back, a Honda will do, but why not a Porsche? Who cares if the lease is as more than your rent #yolo.

Neither of these (well, maybe beer) sounds like a good idea.

So why do we ignore common sense when it comes to training?

Now, we have power clean timed trials and box jump competitions and ultra-complex hybrid programs like Carb-cycling complex training cross-pollinated with German volume training.

Yep, it’s really shitty.

Quality has gone out the window, overtaken by the endless chase for excess under the false premise that more is better.

Quality Over Quantity: The Key to Crushing the Biggest Fitness Myth

Training is a double-edged sword. One part is stress to produce a training stimuli, while the other half is recovery. But hard training rarely, if ever is the missing component. Quality training and recovery are.

The harder you train, the more you must recover. Conversely, when you train hard without an adequate focus on recovery, you’re taking one step forward and two steps back.

Obviously, you want to make gains as fast as possible. That’s why I’m going to cover the sexy process of training and adaptation, giving you the strategies to keep your training fun, effective, and maximize your time in the gym.

P.S. Are you building muscle this fall? Grab your Free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Accelerate Muscle Growth. Free until 10/31/16 Only. 

How to Make Progress in the Gym

Making progress requires the stimulus from training and adequate recovery to make you stronger, leaner, and hotter.

Side note: How fucking awesome is this picture?

gains2

Without recovery, there won’t be progress!

GAS: General Adaptation Syndrome

Back in the day, a smart dude named Hans Selye described what’s now known as the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). The body responds to a state of responses, such as workout. It also responds to adaptations, a collection of focused workouts. All this happens after exposure to a stressor, the training itself.

This is where it gets real. Your body goes through three stages from training and recovery:
* There isn’t enough stress to stimulate change (under training)
* The perfect amount of stress and recovery, contributing to the holy unveiling of gains (perfect)
* and the last one, too much stress with insufficient recovery. This leads to…death, (overtraining.)

Per the examples above, it’s best to shoot for the middle– optimal training and recovery. So the real secret is training and recovering enough to stimulate, but not annihilate your body.

The keys? Consistency and micro-progressions.

Consistency Over Time Gets you Massive Gains

Saying consistency is key is not as sexy as saying: “100x sit-ups/day gives you those sexy v-lines on your tummy that look really good on spring break, ” but ask yourself:

What are you goals?

What are your actions, or what are you currently doing to make big things happen?

Now, do your actions match your goals?

Match your actions to your goals.

Now, keep doing them for weeks, months, and years. Applied to your training, these simple tips will these simple tips will get you leaner, stronger, more muscular, or more athletic. Whatever your goal is, crush it consistently.

Stick with a Body Composition Goal for at Least Twelve Weeks

One of the questions I ask my coaching applicants is, “If we were to meet in twelve weeks, how would you want your body to change? ”

Ask yourself the same question right now, and write it down.

This creates the picture of where you want to go and pushes you to focus on one clear goal: losing fat, building muscle, building strength, or improving athleticism. Now, that doesn’t mean they can’t make progress in all these areas. But having a singular focus sets you up for success.

Even more, all goals take time to see what works. Your diet needs 1-2 weeks, and training 3-4 week before you can really see how your body is starting to change.

Making changes before that is a mistake. Once you’ve given your body time, then make small changes to push results.

P.S. Are you building muscle this fall? Grab your Free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Accelerate Muscle Growth. Free until 10/31/16 Only. 

For fat loss, this could be finding the right caloric deficit to trigger fat loss and get the scale moving.

For building muscle, it could be finding you need 500 more calories, not 200 more calories to make the scale budge and actually pack some meat onto those toothpicks hanging from your shoulders.

Without a singular focus, it’s impossible to make serious progress in any direction. In essence, you go one mile wide, and one inch deep.

Spend time to find what’s working, then go all out for twelve weeks in one direction.

Stick With a Program for 4-6 Weeks, Minimum

Per my last point, keep a body composition goal like losing body fat or building muscle for at least twelve weeks before switching gears. Within that time frame you have options and can change programs, but keep each for 4-6 weeks as long as they’re still focused on the primary body composition goal.

To quote Dan John, “Everything works for six weeks.”

Four to six weeks gives you the stimulus you need to train and adapt, yet a view of the end to keep you motivated and entertained with your programming.

Further, the effectiveness of many programs takes one or two weeks after its completion to become apparent. Without completing a program, you never give your body a chance to super-compensate and make progress.

On a side note, everything I mentioned here applies to a diet, whether it’s IIFYM, intermittent fasting, or six meals per day. You must give your body time to adapt and results to take hold.

Micro-Progressions

It’s best to stay consistent with your lifts and rep schemes for the duration of a program. Program hopping has kept tens of millions of people smaller, weaker, and fatter. Conversely, a few basic programs have made millions stronger, leaner, and bigger by doing less, but better.

Within a program, keep the changes small. The right amount of change prevents boredom to keep you motivated while too much blurs your goal and prevents adaptation. Here are the best micro-progressions.

Change Stance or Grip Every Few Weeks

The more advanced the lifter, the more variation they can handle and in some cases, need. But I’m not referring to completely changing exercises and technique like moving from a back squat to front squat.

Instead, make small changes within an exercise.

Move from your bench press grip in two inches.

Narrow up your squat stance.

Externally rotate your toes slightly on a conventional deadlift.

A slight change is enough to change muscle recruitment patterns to break a plateau without completely changing your program.

P.S. Are you building muscle this fall? Grab your Free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Accelerate Muscle Growth. Free until 10/31/16 Only. 

Cover Diet Basics First

Eat one “fist” size servings vegetables with every meal.

Drink half your body weight in oz of water.

Eat 1 g of protein, or 1 “fist” size serving with every meal.

Until you’re doing those three things, you don’t need supplements. On the note of supplements…

Add One New Supplement at a Time

Most of my fellow trainers will nod their heads in agreement when I say: we get more questions on supplements than all other fitness related topics combined.

Like making changes in training or a diet, the best way to tell if something is working is only change one factor at a time.

Say you read an article recommending you take Athletic Greens, Creatine, Whey protein, and fish oil as supplements to improve performance and health.

brotein

Rather than taking them all right away, do it this way:

Day 1-7: Start with a Greens Supplement

Note any changes: More energy, clearer skin, better digestion?

Day 8-14: Add in Whey Protein

Note any changes: Less muscle soreness, improved performance?

Day 15-30: Add Creatine

Note any changes: Improved strength and power, Increased bodyweight, Improved cognitive function?

Day 30-40: Add Fish Oil

Note any changes: Less joint pain, better cognitive function?

Even seven days isn’t a long time to adjust to a new supplement, especially with supplements predicated on health like Greens or Fish oil. But, If you don’t test each product individually you’ll never know how you react.

If you don’t know how you react, then you’re throwing money away, or attributing success to something that just doesn’t work for you.

Pick “One” Free Training Day Every Two Weeks

Once every two weeks on a Saturday, train completely free from your program.

This isn’t the time to go find a 1-rep max; rather, time to play around with a new technique, 6 bicep curl variations you’ve been craving, or work on exercises that are “fun.” Rake an hour and do curls, lateral raises, and calf raises if it makes you happy.

Hell, go spar and join a fight club, just enjoy yourself.

nutrition myth

The best bodies are built by those who work in the direction of their goals. And at the same time, find joy in working towards achieving your six-pack, new deadlift P.R., or adding ten pounds of sweet, sweet gains.

It’s rare to find someone consistently doing things they hate, so give yourself a break and have fun training. You’ll build a wave of momentum that keeps you working hard and consistent.

Overcoming the Biggest Fitness Myth

If a little is good, then more must be better.

Bullshit.

Higher quality work and intelligent training and nutrition to support your goals is better.

Consistently crushing workouts that support your goals is better. Then, make micro-progressions to stay motivated, keep training fun, and build a bad-ass body.

A final note. 

Have you picked up Your Free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Accelerate Muscle Growth yet? Gain access to tips from top coaches free until 10/31/16 Only. 

 

Four Tips to Build an Athletic Body

Jump over boxes

[A variation of this article was published as a guest post on NickTumminello.com]

Building an athletic body isn’t just for competitive athletes. It’s for everyone. Or it should be.

Why not be able to  run, throw, jump, cut, and play a recreational sport at the drop of a hat? Unfortunately, this isn’t as common as it should be.

Much more common is this:
*  29-year-old Bryce pops his hamstring playing beer-league softball.
* Or 31 year-old Laurie sprains an ankle chasing her daughter.

Let’s soar up to 30,000 feet for a moment to consider the big issue:

If your training isn’t improving your quality of life, or improving your ability to play a sport you enjoy, what exactly are you accomplishing?

This article explains how to apply principles I’ve learned working with both athletes and general population clients. I’ll explain how tweaking your training can power up your performance —  and minimize your chance of injury.

We can all use a performance upgrade, whether it’s a competitive playing field, or kickin’ it with your buddies every Thursday night with beer league softball.These principles, when applied as directed, will help you build an athletic body.

Maximum Strength with the Big Three is Overrated:

What’s the top tip most coaches preach as it pertains to building an athletic body?

If you said getting stronger, you’re correct.

training to failure, athletic body

While strength is important to build a foundation for the development of speed and power, it’s overvalued if you endlessly chase strength PR’s to the determinant of improving your ability to use it, relative strength, and movement.

Before you punch your computer screen and call me an idiot, hear me out. I’m not saying Maximum Strength isn’t important to build an athletic body.

It is.

It’s vital.

But, there are more ways to build strength than the powerlifting movements. There’s no magical touch associated with a heavy loaded barbell.

Your body understands stress, and that it needs to generate force and recruit motor units to overcome an external stressor, not that there’s a loaded barbell.

What’s more important is the muscles recruited, amount of force needed to overcome the resistance, and integrating movement that matches the demands of sport. This can be through a unilateral exercise, a barbell, kettlebell, weighted sled, or your own bodyweight.

It’s not the tool that’s important. It’s that your body is working in a specific movement pattern, recruiting the correct muscles, and generating force when you need it. 

Furthermore, for non-competitive lifters, there are diminishing returns with endlessly chasing strength PR’s as it pertains to becoming more athletic.

Athletic Body, bach performance jump rope, Build an Athletic Body, eric bach jump rope, athletic body,

Example: a 200-pound man has the goal of running faster and jumping higher. Currently, he’s well trained and has a back squat max 375 lbs.

Would he be better off using a specialized program to get your squat to 405, or adding lighter, more explosive exercises to maximize his ability to rapidly generate already-present strength?

If you picked more explosive exercises, good for you!

Your body specifically adapts to the imposed demands.

Maximizing the carryover to your sport requires you train movements and patterns that are specific to the demands of your sport, such as explosive jumping and sprinting.

Instead of just lifting heavy, focus on maintaining your strength base. Improve your relative strength and power in the movements you need for performance.

Power —  the ability to generate strength rapidly —  is vector specific. Huh? That means to optimally develop power for a given activity, you must train it in the direction, with joint angles, and recruitment patterns most similar to your activity.

At the end of the day, strength is vital. Tere’s no denying that. But it’s time to move past the “ bro,  just get really strong” argument. You need to move and generate power in the directions you need. Otherwise, you’ll limit your performance.

Jump and Throw

Building an athletic body requires your muscles to work  together. That means increasing the ability of your body (muscles, joints, ligaments, and nervous system) to function as a complete unit.

Jumps and throws take major movement patterns, such as the squat or press, and change the typical demands from a pure-strength exercise to an explosive speed or speed-strength exercise.

Working with lighter loads and focusing on explosive movement more directly correlates to the demands of most sports. You’ll  improve your ability to move and generate force in the movement patterns needed for performance.

Adding jumps or throws to your training can increase neuromuscular capabilities. You’ll transfer your strength into usable athleticism and power. The result? Better performance.

Throws, Jumps, and Upper Body Plyometrics:

To maximize carryover from training to your activity of choice, include jumps and throws that most similarly match the demands of your sport or workout. These exercises are best performed after a dynamic warm-up and before lifting.

Try 3-4 sets of 3-6 reps with 90-120 seconds of rest between sets. Below, I’ve listed my top three favorite variations, with a few other suggestions listed underneath.

Overhead slam: Explosive shoulder extension while preventing spinal flexion.

Sports Action: Think volleyball spike, a swimming stroke, or swinging an ax for the lumbar jacks in the audience.

This works the explosive shoulder extension, forcing the lats, triceps, posterior delts, and pecs to rapidly generate force. It also forces your core to work double time, transferring force from overhead towards the ground while preventing your spine from flexing forward.

How to do it: Use a non-bouncy medicine ball (8-12 lbs.) and hold it overhead.

Brace the abs like you would before someone pokes you in the stomach. Now, with the weight overhead and abs braced, throw the ball to the ground while keeping eyes straightforward and minimal trunk flexion.

Your goal is to throw as hard as possible without bending through the waist or rounding in your shoulders.

Inline Plyo-Push-Up:  Emphasize horizontal pressing power

Sports Action: Pushing an opponent away from you.

Compared to a clap push-up, elevating the hands on a bench allows larger individuals to generate maximum force with less compressive stress on the joints while maintaining a neutral spine position (non-saggy push-up position).

How to do it: On a bench, assume a push-up position with the hands aligned with the shoulders, legs fully extended, abs braced, and back straight. Don’t allow the hips to dip.

Lower yourself rapidly to the bench and then explosively push your body away. The energy should make you rock back to mid-foot or heel if your relative strength is high.

As gravity carries you back to the starting position, slightly bend the elbows at impact to reduce stress and “stick” the landing with minimal movement through your torso. Re-set and repeat.

Dumbbell Squat jump: Explosive triple extension, a speed-strength variation of a vertical jump.

Sport action: Explosive triple extension, jumping in basketball, vertical propulsion.

Squat jumps mimic the squat and a vertical jump, bridging the gap between jumping in sport and squatting in the gym.

How to do it: There are three phases: loading, exploding, and landing.

Loading: Set up with feet about shoulder-width apart in an athletic stance with arms up at chest height. The loading phase utilizes a simultaneous downward arm swing with flexing at the hips and knees, thus loading up the legs.

Exploding: Rapidly swing the arms up while driving your feet into the ground and extending the hips and knees, and then taking off on the balls of the feet. Fully extend the arms overhead and aim to fully extend the body with the ankle, knee, hip, trunk, shoulder, and ear all being aligned.

Landing: Bend your knees and drop the hips into a squat position, absorbing force evenly though the foot. Keep your chest and head up, looking straight ahead. Hold a vertical shin position to minimize excessive shear stress and valgus/varus positions of the knee.

Analyze: What’s the Risk/Reward Trade-Off?

Everyone come from various backgrounds that create bias towards different training disciplines. It could be powerlifting, strongman, bodybuilding, Olympic lifting (my bias), or something else.

With so many different opinions and experts on training, how can you select the exercises that are best for you?

Instead of thinking of any exercise as the next best thing, step back and consider each exercise a tool to get the job done.

The tool that is best both matches the movement patterns needed for your sport, and minimizes the risk of injury.

For example, we can all agree that the squat is a phenomenal exercise for developing strength and power.

But how important is sub-parallel squat depth?

In the case of a competitive weight lifting, going to extreme depths, even with butt wink and (loss of lumber stability) is a demand of the sport. In this case, an ass to grass squatting is warranted, as it’s directly required in competition.

But, what about Bryce, who popped his hamstring playing softball? He’s an average dude at the gym, just wanting to look better for summer and crush a few homers.

In this case, Bryce loses lumbar stability below parallel in his squat. The risk of low-back injury (either acute or chronic) with an ass-to-grass squat outweighs the potential benefits of building athletic muscle.

This isn’t to say that squats are a bad exercise for him, but in the context of depth, he’s better off working within a stable range of motion.

Each exercise is a tool, rather than an end-all be all to performance. Pick the tools and techniques with that complete the job while minimizing risk, and maximizing rewards. 

Exercise Order Based on Neural Demands

When it comes to performance, the nervous system is the Captain.

To maximize performance and reduce injury risk, the most neurologically demanding exercises must be performed early in the workout, when the body is fresh. 

Most sports require explosive sprints, jumps, cuts, swings and throws to drive performance. If you’re performing exercises to improve, like cleans for a vertical jump, yet already ran 3×400 meter sprints and did heavy squats, your nervous system is probably too torched for super high power outputs, meaning the nervous system won’t send signals fast enough to allow sound technique and performance.

As a result, you’re setting yourself up for sub-par training and performance at best, and injury at worst.

If your exercise selection doesn’t jive with your goals and allow you to generate force, while also increasing injury risk, then you have a big problem.

Keep intense movements like sprints, jumps, and heavy lifts early in your workout. Then move onto higher rep, less neurally demanding exercises later on.

Four Ways to Build an Athletic Body

  • Put the most explosive exercises first in your training
  • Stop obsessing over max weight
  • Jump, throw, push, and run
  • Look at your training from a risk/reward perspective

Once you have a foundation of strength and basic movement, it’s time to focus specifically on your goals.

Looking To Build an Athletic Body?

I have Your Solution:

Get Stronger, Leaner, and More Athletic

Athletic Body

Six ways to Make Exercises Harder

Minimalist Training

[This article was Originally Published here on AskMen.com]

Is your current workout not cutting it? I hear you.

Maybe you’re stuck in a busted hotel with a few janky dumbbells and a treadmill.

Or, you’re just a glutton for self-punishment and want to have an intense workout. 

But most likely, you’re training has plateaued and you need a kick in the ass to build more lean mass.

Whether you’re traveling and stuck in a poorly equipped gym, or just need to supercharge your training to build more lean muscle there are small tweaks that can make a world of difference in your training.

Whatever the reason, one of these six methods will work for you.  No, I’m not talking about completely changing your program; rather, making subtle changes to how you’re performing exercises to get you stronger, leaner, and build some new muscle.

1. Timed Sets

Instead of counting reps, set a timer and work against the clock. This might sound strange, but there’s a powerful benefit. When you’re fatigued you’ll need to maintain a focus on the quality of each rep rather than aiming to finish the set in a certain number of reps.

Isolation Lifts, make exercises harder

Even better, timed sets focus on two underrated factors for muscle growth: tension and metabolic stress.

By keeping your muscles under constant tension and stress, you stimulate more muscle damage while building up by-products of muscle contractions (metabolic stress).

Focus on longer duration sets between 30-75 seconds to increase metabolic stress. This allows you to use less weight but keep better focus on each muscular contraction to build more lean muscle.

Try This: Stuck with only a dumbbell for squats? Hold a dumbbell in the goblet position and perform reps for four sets of 40 seconds, staying just shy of locking out at the top of the movement.

 

2. Increase the Range of Motion

Increasing the range of motion requires muscles and joints to contract and stabilize through a greater range of motion. A greater range of motion requires greater muscle activation to overcome the resistance while also requiring more stability to build an injury resistant body.

Increasing the range of motion makes exercises harder and very effective for building muscle,  but your technique must be perfect to reduce injury risk.

Try This: If you’re only using barbells in your training then start using dumbbell movements like a dumbbell bench press. This allows a greater range of motion for each arm while increasing stability demands.

For the lower body, try reverse lunges from a small step or elevating your front foot on a Bulgarian split squat. These methods can breed extreme soreness– proceed with 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps and plan on spending extra time on exercise recovery.

3. Lift Explosively

If you’ve been counting tempo and using slow lifting speeds, then lifting weights explosively can help you build new muscle and athleticism.

No, you won’t feel a crazy burn or pump from these methods, but that doesn’t mean they’re not effective.

Why do they work?

You’ll improve nervous system efficiency and stimulate greater muscular recruitment.

By lifting lighter weights faster or heavy weights with the intent of being explosive you can activate a greater number of muscle fibers during exercise.

In the short term, explosive exercises activate high-threshold motor units (HTMU’s) to recruit more muscle during training. More recruitment means lifting more weight and building more muscle.

Before your next lower body try 3×5 Jump Squats with 60 seconds rest:

 

Lifting Upper Body? No sweat, give this push-up variation a try for 3×5 with 60 seconds rest.

In the long-term, explosive exercises allow you to recruit more muscle fibers with less effort. This makes it easier to smash heavy weights.

You can maximize this muscular recruitment by lifting heavy, or by lifting, jumping, or throwing lighter stuff faster.

4. Pause at your Weak points

Think back to the last time you saw someone squatting or benching at the gym.

Chances are, they started lowering the weight slowly then “bounced” through their transition, right?

Adding a pause makes exercises harder, especially if you pause at your weak point. Common examples here are the bottom of a squat or near your chest on a bench press, you’re first forced to stabilize your body through its weakest point. This can improve joint stability and strength through the toughest part of lifts to prevent injury.

Further, the pause eliminates one huge factor—elastic energy stored in your ligaments. To overcome the pause, you must generate pure dead-stop strength.

This method requires you to decrease the weight you’re using, but will build tons of pure strength. Once you return back to your usual training, you’ll feel strong, stable, and powerful.

5. Decrease your base of Support:

A narrow base of support requires greater balance and control for a wide range of exercises.

Unilateral exercises like lunges are the first that come to mind, but even modifying typical bilateral exercises like narrowing your stance on squats presents a new muscle recruitment pattern and different muscular activation. That means a slightly different training stimulus to get you out of your rut.

Instead of keeping your feet apart during push-ups and planks bring your feet closer until they’re touching. This decreased base of support creates an extra challenge to stabilize your trunk and hold body position.

6. Metabolic circuits

If you’re stuck in a lousy hotel gym chances are there isn’t equipment besides a few janky dumbbells, a couple machines, and cardio equipment.

In this case, you’ll need to do more with less and focus on training density.

Training density, doing more work in less time, is an ultra-efficient fat loss training method that requires you to pair multiple exercises together with minimal rest between them.

This increases metabolic stress, helping you burn more calories and increasing metabolic stress in your muscles. According to this study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Metabolic stress is one of the primary mechanisms of hypertrophy.

When you’re short on time or equipment, create total-body metabolic circuits to make your training more difficult.

Try This: Pick a push, pull, lower body exercise, and core exercise. Let’s say push-up, pull-up, goblet squat, and plank. Perform 4 sets of 10 for each exercise and 30-60 seconds for your plank. Keep rest minimal between exercises.

Six ways to Make Exercises Harder

There is a caveat with making exercises harder– you must nail your technique at all times. After all, just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it’s effective. Luckily, these methods have withstood the test of time —giving you a new training stimulus to force new muscle growth.

Get Stronger, Leaner, and More Athletic

Copyright: bialasiewicz / 123RF Stock Photo

Lifting Rep Range Rules for Building Muscle

Rep Range Rules for Building Muscle


“Man, this pump is insane,’” said Alex. “I think my muscles are already growing from that last set.”

 
I looked at him, doing my best Dwayne Johnson people’s eyebrow impression.

“What?” Said Alex, sipping his coffee while looking puzzled by my facial expression.

I offered my two cents: “Did you hit heavier lifts early in your training, or just chase the pump all day?”

“No, why would I bother lifting heavy?” replied Alex.

I sighed. Not wanting to sounds like a condescending meathead, but not quite succeeding, I smirked and said, “You know that’s not the best way, right?”

Deflated, Alex rolled his eyes and flipped me off.

“Sorry bro, ” I replied. I explain ed that high rep ranges and chasing the pump are important, but they aren’t the only thing you should chase to build muscle.

Alex said he thought he should just do sets of 10-15, with drop sets, timed sets, and high volume because “that’s what all the muscle magazines and bodybuilders say .”

Alex was wrong. I let him down gently. And I told him the same thing I’m about to tell you.

If you’re trying to build muscle, you need a variety of rep ranges to improve strength to get stronger and improve your ability to build muscle. That means you need to get strong so you can lift heavier weights for a higher number of reps, then add volume.

High rep ranges and chasing the pump are important, but they aren’t the only thing you should chase to build muscle. That means you need to get strong so you can lift heavier weights for a higher number of reps, then add volume.

You should spent the majority of their time using big lifts like squats, for 4-6 sets of 5-8 reps per set, building both strength and muscle.

 

To start you training, low rep sets (1-5 reps) should make up 20-25% of your total training for maximum muscle building.
Sets of 1-4 are important for skinny guys looking to build muscle. By loading up a heavy barbell and executing big lifts like squats, you’ll improve the function of the central nervous system (CNS). Skinny guys aren’t sufficiently strong to really benefit from tons of high-rep, pump training.

Instead, it’s better to focus on building strength for a while. And that’s true even if you are more interested in bolding muscle than strength

via GIPHY
I can’t make it more clear: For most guys,the fastest way to get bigger is to get stronger.

If you want to build muscle, you must force your body to adapt and grow. Consistently adding weight to the bar is essential.

Over time, more strength lets you use heavier weights with more volume, which then gets your bigger.

That’s not it, either.

“Intensity builds immensity” – Kevin Levrone

 

Lift with explosive intent on every rep of your big exercises.  Meaning, once you start reversing the motion on your squat, do it with as much acceleration as position.

Pick 2-3 compound exercises per week like squats, deadlifts, presses, or rows and increase strength. Control the eccentric (negative of the lift), and explode on the concentric (the way up) portion.  Use heavier weights each week, and track your progress. 

Hammer the Moderate Rep Sets

 

Five to eight reps per set is the sweet spot for skinny dudes, and you should spend at least 50% of your training here.

Yes, the lower rep sets I mentioned before are great for building strength. But, the moderate rep sets let you to train compound exercises for strength and provide enough time under tension (TUT) to stimulate muscle growth.

In the case of moderate rep sets, you’ll more specifically target myofibrilar hypertrophy while getting stronger in big lifts.

Myofibril hypertrophy, sometimes dubbed “ functional hypertrophy,” is muscle growth that relates directly to the breakdown and re-growth of muscle fibers.

This should make up the majority of your training. Pick 2 compound exercises during each workout for 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps on multi-joint lifts. Squats, lunges, pull-ups, dips, bench presses, deadlifts, and rows are all awesome.

Mix in some High Reps 

This rep range (10-15 reps per set) should be used to finish off your training, and make up a very small part of your training.

Training with more reps per set gives you the sleeve-stretching pump that makes you feel huge after lifting, bro.
The higher reps that create metabolic stress and muscular damage that makes you feel huge is important, but it really works best after you’ve gotten pretty damn strong.
Those high rep, long duration sets, create muscular damage and metabolic stress.  The metabolic stress is basically bunch of metabolites that float around from repeated muscular contractions that tell your body to stimulate growth.

But, it’s a little different than the myofibrillar hypertrophy we talked about before.

Instead, we call it sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy deals with storing more glycogen in your muscles, making them look bigger. If you really want to get yoked, add high rep work isolation work in 10 minute blocks at the end of your training. Consider this icing on the cake for any lagging muscles.

Sparingly Use Ultra High Reps

Ultra high-rep sets build on the same principles as the high rep sets mentioned before.

Greater time under tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress to build muscle.
These come in the form of “sexy” methods like drop sets, timed sets, and finishing exercises. While the muscle damage and feeling of accomplishment is pretty high after these sets, so is soreness.

 

 Don’t we want soreness?

Not necessarily.

While some soreness is okay, too much may limit training intensity and frequency in future workouts. If you lift so hard with drop-sets at the end of a workout Monday, and can hardly move on Wednesday, you’re wasting your time. Seriously. Use ultra-high rep sets very sparingly, as to not conflict with training frequency, and building strength.

Wrap Up

Most of us know someone like the Alex mentioned at the banning of this article.

Maybe you even see him in the mirror when you get up in the morning.

Or maybe you were in his shoes 5-10 years ago.

I know I was.

Either way, it’s important to understand rep ranges and how they help you optimize your muscle building.

More often than not, you probably need to spend more time building strength, then the majority of your time lifting with 6-10 reps per set.

Do Less, Do it Better, and Achieve More.

 

Part 3 Training Essentialism: Eliminate Useless Exercises

In today’s post we”ll work together to Eliminate Useless Exercises to optimize your training. Before we dive into that lets rehash what we covered in the past two posts.

First, we covered the essential pieces what every workout needs. The 80/20 if you will, that give you the most bang for your buck. Training for one goal while ensuring progressive overload in the major movements is key to long-term results. If you haven’t read part one What Every Workout Needs please do so now.

In part two we addressed the biggest issue of all: training consistency. A plan is only as good as it’s execution. To set yourself up for success you must understand your limits and create a plan that accounts for your goals and busy lifestyle. Your training isn’t 100% perfect for your goal, but a program performed with focus and intensity consistently will beat the perfect program performed sporadically every time.

Moving on my friends. It’s time to delve into the truth about elimination. I don’t mean throwing away all your clothes, getting rid of your possessions, and moving to a shack in Guam, but eliminating unnecessary barriers in training. The biggest problem most guys have is focusing on too many damn goals at once. You have a limited attention. Remember this: You can do anything, but not everything.

Limited Attention:

Throughout the day you have a limited attention. Despite all the advances in technology that make information easily attainable it’s only possible to absorb so much. As an example, Tim Ferris breaks it down into attention units.

The choice-minimal lifestyle becomes an attractive tool when we consider two truths:

1) Considering options costs attention that then can’t be spent on action or present-state awareness.

2) Attention is necessary for not only productivity but appreciation.

Therefore:

Too many choices = less or no productivity

Too many choices = less or no appreciation

Too many choices = sense of overwhelm

Tim Ferriss breaks attention down to “Attention units.”

If you start the day with 10 attention units, have a complicated workout with percentages, a choice of six squat variations, fluctuating volume, and advanced methods it might demand 3/10 daily units calculate and complete. If work, family obligations, and a big side project take up 9 attention units before you get to your workout we have a problem— attention debt. Focus diminishes, effort dwindles, and your workout sucks.

It’s safe to say, after a grueling day even a Tracy Anderson workout is a strain for your mental capacity.

Side note: What in the actual hell is this exercise?

http://fourhourworkweek.com/2008/02/06/the-choice-minimal-lifestyle-6-formulas-for-more-output-and-less-overwhelm/
Photocredit: www.lookgreatnaked.com/blog/stay-away-from-the-pink-dumbbells/

Don’t Strive For Exercise Variety

Don’t strive for variation—and thus increase option consideration—when it’s not needed. Too many choices zaps your focus and negate your ability to put into energy into what matters most like building strength in major, multi-joint lifts. You should enjoy exercise, but remember exercise is a results-driven with task, not solely enjoyment driven. Your goal is to create a physiological response in the body to build muscle, shred fat, and improve athleticism. Stick with the major movement patterns, get stronger, and get a routine that works around your limited time.

Define, identify, and eliminate

Instead of giving up altogether you must first define what is essential to your goal. The next step is ruthlessly hacking away at the unessential. A plan is only as good as its execution—this is the way to set yourself up for success.

In this post I’m going to provide you with the path to stick to your goal, hack away at the unessential, and optimize your workout plans for optimal effort and consistency. I’ll use real-world examples from my clients to give you a template to hack away your workout and focus on the important parts. As a result, you’ll have a clear vision of the goal and the brainpower to do it.

Remove the Unessential:

Before hacking away chunks of your workout you must first define what is essential. These steps help you define what’s essential to your goal, and what must be eliminated.

1.) Define Your Goal and Stick to It

If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve how will you possibly make the changes to make it happen?

It won’t happen. Define your goal, and as Dan John says “ The goal is to keep the goal, the goal.” If you constantly change workout goals and never see them through you’ll never have success. Rep schemes, exercises, and programs shouldn’t always change—the body needs to strain and adapt to stress to grow. Patience, dedication, and time are required. It’s painfully difficult in today’s “everything right now” world, but all true accomplishments take time. Define your goal and stick to it until it’s complete.

Example Goals:

“ I want to look awesome naked by losing fat and gaining muscle. I want to look better than guys 20 years younger than me and be able to play sports with my kids.”

“ I want to be strong. I don’t care what else. I want to be able to lift a fricken’ house.”

“I want to gain muscle so I (begrudgingly) fill out my schmedium t-shirt and have to buy a large. This will be 2-3 inches on my chest and – or so.”  

2.) Identify Your Obstacles To Reaching The Goal

Here’s the fun part: Take an introspective look at your training and lifestyle to see what factors hinder you from reaching your goal.

Take these examples from my clients:

“I work 60 hours per week and start missing gym sessions after I start training 5 days per week.”

“ I can’t eat enough calories following an intermittent fasting diet to support training and muscle growth.”

“ My kids are in hockey season, I run my own business, and I need for time for my family. I’ll train 30 minutes 4-5 days per week, but can’t do longer workouts. The sacrifice isn’t worth neglecting my family.”

Identify in order to eliminate. Look at the big picture and your whole lifestyle.What obstacles are the biggest roadblock to my success?

Are they removable?

Do they fix more than one problem?

If the answer is “yes” to any or all of these problems then take the next step to elimination.

3.) Remove the Obstacles

Identifying and being aware of what’s holding you back is great, but you need to take action on and remove your obstacles. As the father of the light-bulb (and maybe light sabers?) Thomas Edison said, ” Knowledge without action is meaningless.”

No-one will do this step for you—it takes real willpower to remove obstacles. That’s why building an awesome body is more than physical—it’s mental growth, sacrifice, and determination.

Obstacles you remove/ changes you could make to fit the goals above could be:

– One less training day per week

– Take out isolation work

– Reduced rest periods

– Shorten up your fasting window to get more calories

– Decrease training volume during workouts to allow a greater training frequency

Changes highly dependent on you and your goals. Using an example below I illustrate the entire process of hacking away the unessential with one of my online training clients:

Tom: Hey Eric, I need to reduce my training and switch to mornings. Tom JR. has hockey every night during the week, work is insane, and I need to spend my nights with my wife instead of the gym.

I still want to be a shredded Beast (*goal*), but I need more time for my family. (*Obstacle*)

Here’s how we *Removed the Obstacles*:

We shortened all Tom’s workouts and took out anything that appeared redundant. Tom still wanted to workout for 30 minutes each morning in his basement and only wanted the essentials. Each week we made sure Tom had the following movements:

– Weighted Carries

– Upper Body Pull

– Upper Body Push

– Lower Body Squat pattern

– Lower Body Hinge pattern

– Single Leg movement

– High-Intensity Intervals,Versa Climber

So a sample workout could be:

Dynamic Warm Up (Top-secret recipe)

1a. Weighted Chin Up 5×8

1b. One Arm Push-Up 5×8

2. 5x 30 sec (30 sec rest) Versa Climber SprintO

Or

Dynamic Warm-Up

1a. Kettlebell Floor Press 4×12

1b. Goblet Squat 4×12

2a. Kettlebell Swing 3×20

2b. Farmers walk 3×50 steps

Spread out over the course of 5 days Tom gets in five efficient, challenging workouts without missing any major movements. Plus, he’s able to see his son play hockey, spend time with his wife, and relax. In the end training is about more than building an awesome body, it’s about building an awesome body and hitting your goals on your terms. Training should improve your life, rather than consume it.

Now it’s Your Turn:

Embrace essentialism into your workouts and eliminate all that is unnecessary. It’s a subtle way to produce dramatic results in the gym with less overwhelm.

-Focus on the big movements

-Ensure progressive overload

-Schedule your training when it fits your life. Make it a priority, but don’t sacrifice everything else for your gains.

-Remove unnecessary exercises

Define your goal, identify the obstacles, and ruthlessly remove them.

The biggest mistake most guys make is focusing on every finite details of their program. Keep your eye on the prize, remove anything that isn’t essential, and see the best gains of your life.

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”-Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Resources

McKeown, Greg. “Subtract.” Essentialism. New York: Crown Business, 2014. 190-191. Print.

Ferriss, Tim. “The Choice-Minimal Lifestyle: 6 Formulas for More Output and Less Overwhelm.” Fourhourworkweek.com. 6 Feb. 2008. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

Recommended Reading:

The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

80/20 Pareto’s Principle

Part 2 Training Essentialism: 4 Tips to Improve Workout Consistency

In our last post we covered a few things. First, we covered the most important parts of your workout, the 80/20 if you will, that give you the most bang for your buck. Training for one goal while ensuring progressive overload in the major movements is key to long-term results. If you haven’t read part one What Every Workout Needs please do so now. 

Moving on– here’s how to workout consistency. Knowing what to do is great, but a plan is 100% useless unless you take actionable steps to get’er done.

The biggest problem affecting your training isn’t exercise selection, sets, reps, weights, or even your motivation. Those are all important, but the problem is more simple than that.

What do you think it is?

….

…..

……

Workout consistency. I don’t mean consistency in the sense that you’re unwilling to put in the time; rather, you gnaw off a bigger chunk than you can chew. Your determination exceeds what your capable of each day. You have a job, school, family obligations,  a million projects and people vying for you attention and time. If it were possible, you’d run on 28-hour days to fit everything in.

Sound familiar?

Training four or five times per week with strength work, mobility, and conditioning is great, but sometimes it’s impossible to do everything. Instead of the perfect plan you need a plan that’s focused on your goal while accounting for the constraints of your life. Small wins accumulate big over time. That’s why the best coaches start grand goals on a small scale–the best path is taking small, progressive victories to get big results.

It’s like a drive in Football, unless you’re the Raiders: Four yards, two yards, five yards, first down. Another first down and then it hits—big play touchdown! Progress is the most effective form of human motivation—to get success need to set yourself up for success with the right play calls.

how to improve workout consistency

Improving Workout Consistency

With the following tips you’ll have everything you need to focus on your goals plus the motivation and attention to reach them. Information is only as good as how you use it. Grab a pen, piece of paper, and customize your goals to the following tips. You’ll set yourself up for huge gains in the gym and eliminate the guilt of missing workouts.

1. Know what you’re capable of Doing Consistently 

If you have kids at home, a job that requires 60 hours per-week, and long work trips planned then a five-day per week body-part split over the next two months isn’t practical. Instead, budget the time that you’ll be able to get to the gym under any circumstance. Move to a total body routine and hit the major muscles in each workout for 2-3 workouts per week. Add in 20 minutes of sprints one day and a walk a few more places. The program isn’t 100% perfect for your goal, but a program performed with focus and intensity consistently will beat the perfect program performed sporadically every time.

Know what you’re cable of doing and execute.

2. Forget about Tomorrow

Being overwhelmed with responsibilities make it difficult to get your training in. Today’s workout becomes, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” There’s always tomorrow and another day. Problem is, the “tomorrow” mindset becomes next week, and suddenly, you haven’t hit the gym in six days. Focus on the now and win the day.

3. Schedule Training like an Appointment

Treat exercise like an obligation as you would a meeting at work and stick to it. The biggest, baddest dudes in your gym make exercise a priority no-matter what. Once you add workouts to your calendar and block time off they become part of your routine. When others come up look at your schedule—are the mandatory?
If not, turn it down or move it to another time.

Your workout is time for you. Sprint, lift heavy steel, throw different implements, and have fun. Building your body is much more powerful than your one-rep max, it’s about the focus, workout consistency, and effort you put forward towards the big picture.

4. Focus During Your Workout

The less frequent your training sessions the more important intensity becomes.
Drink extra coffee.
Boost up your pre-workout.
Blast some Lil Jon and get out of your mind.

I don’t care, do whatever it takes to go balls to the wall when you hit the gym. Going through the motions is for losers—get in and get after it.

 

Wrap Up

You’re busy and determined—that’s a good thing. Don’t let training fall by the wayside; rather, optimize your training with what you’re capable and willing to do.

Know what you’re cable of Doing Consistently.

Stop putting it Off Until Tomorrow.

Schedule it like an Appointment.

Get in and get after it.

With this information you have everything you need to build a leaner, stronger, and more athletic body. Quit majoring in the minors, it’s time to get to maximize your training on your terms.

Recommended Reading:

Training Essentialism: What Every Workout Needs 

 

 

Last Chance To Win some cold hard Cash While Building Muscle

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This isn’t a program just for powerlifting, bodybuilding, or for athletes — it’s a combination of these disciplines to get you the best results in the shortest time possible.

You’ll lift heavy, occasionally chase the pump, and move like an athlete.

Workouts will be brief, intense, and goal oriented, and will pack on the kind of muscle that looks and performs like a muscular athlete.

Join NOW before the group closes for good: on October 27th

photo credit: Runar Eilertsen via photopin cc

photo credit: linda sellers via photopin cc

Discover the Fat Loss Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been around forever, but it didn’t really become a popular dieting style until the last ten years. IF is undoubtedly a great eating style for those with the dedication to stick to the eating schedule.

I’m a huge fan of IF as it fits my crazy schedule. Most days I’ll go from 5am-noon on a caffeine fueled productivity spike before I even think about food. Honestly, after the first few days it’s not too difficult. Stop eating after a late dinner, then push breakfast back a few hours and stay busy in the morning. I reached out to my buddy Dave Dreas to share this post from Modestly Refined to share the science, results, and frequently asked questions about IF to discover the fat loss benefits of intermittent fasting. . It’s one of the best articles on intermittent fasting I’ve read.

Without making it overly complicated, Dave get’s down to the nitty gritty and lays down the law in Intermittent Fasting.

Enjoy!-EB

Fat Loss Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Over the past week I’ve received a number of inquiries regarding intermittent fasting. It was due to my recent blog “My Training Principals” that got a few people interested. Read that here.

I figured it was appropriate to delve more into the world of intermittent fasting and enlighten you guys on what it all entails. I wanted to go a bit deeper on this one…

michaelscott

Intermittent Fasting isn’t a diet. You aren’t counting points. You don’t cut food groups from your diet and you don’t need to reference any era (i.e. Paleolithic, or the mythical era during the reign of Morador and Gondor). In the most dumb down, simple explanation all you’re doing is eating during a specific time frame throughout the day/week and choosing not to eat during the remaining time.

There are a couple of ways to do this.

The first would be considered the Lean Gains approach (16 hour fast, 8 hour feast) which was pioneered by Martin Berkhan. Simply put, all you do is eat during a specific time period of the day . For example you start eating at noon and finish eating at 8.  That is an 8 hour feastingwindow. The remainder would be a 16 hour fasting window.

Just so we are on the same page you technically already do this, just in reverse. Here’s an example

  • 6:00 am: You wake up
  • EAT ALL DAY
  • 10:00 pm: You go to bed

You were in a feasting window for 16 hours. You fasted (slept) for 8.

(It’s also acceptable to have a 6 hour or even a 4 hour feasting window.)

The second would be the Eat Stop Eat approach by Brad Pilon. He simply suggests that you take 1-2 24 hour periods off from eating throughout the week.

The 24 hour period doesn’t mean you will miss a whole day of eating. If you finish eating at 7 pm on Monday you can eat again on 7 pm Tuesday. This method will give you the benefits of fasting without the need to stop eating for an entire day.

Brad provides you with in-depth research about metabolism and overall general health in his book. I highly recommend you read it.

 

How does Intermittent Fasting Work?

Think of it this way. When you eat food your body spends the next couple of hours processing that food. Due to the fact that it’s immediately available in your blood stream (sugar) your body uses that as energy rather than your fat stores.

If you’re fasting your body doesn’t have any “food” or energy to use so it pulls it from your fat stores rather from the glucose in your blood stream or the glycogen from your muscles and liver.

Here’s a great write up from Steve over at NERD Fitness 

Why does this work?  Our bodies react to energy consumption (eating food) with insulin production.  Essentially, the more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely you’ll be to use the food you consume efficiently, which can help lead to weight loss and muscle creation.

Along with that, your body is most sensitive to insulin following a period of fasting

Your glycogen (a starch stored in your muscles and liver that your body can burn as fuel when necessary) is depleted during sleep (fasting), and will be depleted even further during training, which can further increase insulin sensitivity. This means that a meal immediately following your workout will be stored most efficiently: mostly as glycogen for muscle stores, burned as energy immediately to help with the recovery process, with minimal amounts stored as fat. 

Compare this to a regular day (no intermittent fasting).  With insulin sensitivity at normal levels, the carbs and foods consumed will see full glycogen stores, enough glucose in the blood stream, and thus be more likely to get stored as fat.

Not only that, but growth hormone is increased during fasted states (both during sleep and after a period of fasting).  Combine this increased growth hormone secretion, the decrease in insulin production (and thus increase in insulin sensitivity), and you’re essentially priming your body for muscle growth and fat loss with intermittent fasting.

This in a nutshell is why you would IF.

 

Why were we told to eat 5-6 meals a day?

You, your parents, me, Tim Tebow, and even the guys from The Hangover were all told that you must eat 5-6 meals a day or eat every 2-3 hours.

Here are some of the main reasons why we were taught this:

  1. It will keep the body’s metabolism up, thus increasing thermogenesis (fat burning), resulting in weight loss.
  2. Eating 6 small healthy meals a day you will decrease your appetite and hunger. This may help some dieters control hunger and calorie intake.
  3. It helps balance your blood sugar.

Sooo, these all seem to be pretty valid points. Right?

Not so fast my friend

lee-corso1

Let’s Tackle These One by One

#1. Supposedly eating 5-6 meals a day will rev up your body’s metabolism thus creating a fat burning furnace allowing you to lose weight.

Sounds good in theory and I believed this for a very long time. As more time has gone by and more studies have been done it just doesn’t have much validity.

Here’s one study that states that it’s not true and here’s another study that shows no evidence that eating 6 meals a day increases metabolism, thermogenesis or weight loss.

This last study further proves the point.

Simply put, if eating 6 meals a day were to put you in a fat burning zone it would be so minuscule that it really wouldn’t make a difference.

#2.  Eating 6 small meals a day will decrease your appetite and hunger.

Once again it sounds great. From my understanding: If you frequently eat you’ll be fuller throughout the day so the next time you eat you won’t eat as much because you just ate and now you feel full? Is that right?

Here’s a study that shows no hunger suppressing affect.

Hopefully more research is done in regards to hunger and appetite as it’s pretty scarce.

#3. We have been told that it can help balance your blood sugar levels. Now this, my friend, would probably be the biggest, most important one of them all.

The theory is your blood sugar levels spike so eating quality foods frequently will keep them level throughout the day. This in turn would help keep you lean and functioning properly.

Here’s a study discussing your blood glucose during a run after a fed state and a fasted state. And another interesting study showing that blood sugar is maintained during a 48 hour fast.

This study shows that it takes roughly 84 hours of fasting before our glucose levels are adversely affected.

Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean people can’t be lean, look good and feel healthy if they eat 6 meals a day. It’s just stating what you’ve been taught or told might not really be true or there are easier ways in which you don’t have to obsess over packing your meals or spending every 2-3 hours eating.

Why Intermittent Fast?

Well, here are a couple of reasons why you should take a look a this approach

1. It’s easy. You don’t have to worry so much about always eating. You can still pack food and prepare like you normally would but you won’t have to stress about eating every 2-3 hours.

2. There is a high probability that you will lose weight and body fat. These approaches have provided phenomenal results for thousands of people looking to get rid of body fat.

3. All of these reasons from my previous blog and read this:

  • It increases growth hormone production. Studies have shown it raises growth hormone levels in both men and women.
  • It normalizes your insulin and leptin sensitivity. Insulin and Leptin are hormones that play a crucial role in energy production and fat storage. If both of these are normalized it can regulate your blood sugar levels, which can prevent type two diabetes and potential weight gain.
  • It reduces inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Inflammation is your body’s natural response to threats from germs, harmful toxins, environmental pollutants, injury, stress, and other things.
  • It helps with appetite control. Ghrelin is an enzyme produced by stomach lining cells that stimulates your appetite. By fasting ghrelin becomes more stable helping you keep your hunger in check.
  • It can possibly improve gut bacteria. A healthy gut is one of the most important things you can do to improve your immune system so you won’t get sick, or get coughs, colds and flus. You will sleep better, have more energy, have increased mental clarity and concentrate better. A healthy gut can also help you get lean.

Intermittent Fasting Guidelines

  • Do the best you can to avoid calories during a fast. Drink coffee, green tea or water and avoid calorie filled drinks i.e. gatorade, soda, juice during the fasting period
  • BCAA’s can be beneficial during your fasting periods to help with muscle growth and repair.
  • Try and keep your feeding period consistent. If you eat from 12-8 do your best to keep that regular.
  • Be active, don’t sit and think about food. You shouldn’t do this anyways but while fasted keep busy.
  • Cycle your macronutrients. For example, some days you might go higher carbs other days you might go lower carbs. Base it off of your activity during that particular day (more activity more carbs)
  • Don’t binge. When your feasting window is open this doesn’t give you the green light to shove anything and everything down your throat. Eat quality food and eat until you are full.

Where to Start?

This is the million dollar question.

Figure out which works best for you. Some people like the Lean Gain approach because it fit’s there overall lifestyle while others love the simplicity of Eat Stop Eat. Either way figure out a feasting window that will give you an opportunity to eat a few meals. Once you have the schedule set start by making small changes.

Slowly work your feasting window down to an eight hour window and see how your body feels. Everyone is different as some people have a difficult time initially. Others, jump right into it without much of a problem.

Remember this is a lifestyle and something that you can do the rest of your life. You still need to eat clean, exercise often and most importantly get plenty of sleep. If you don’t do these three things then intermittent fasting won’t be effective.

Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

About the Author:

Dave Dreas is a certified personal trainer in Phoenix, AZ. He is the creator of ModestlyRefined.com and co-owner of Arizona Training Lab. As a former All American College basketball player, he spent years in the strength and conditioning world working with collegiate and professional strength coaches. He is currently a MuscleTech Sponsored Athlete and Reebok Ambassador. For more information he can be found at modestlyrefined.com.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE

People who have issues with blood sugar regulation, suffer from hypoglycemia, or have diabetes should speak to a doctor before Intermittent Fasting. Other categories of people that should avoid Intermittent Fasting include those living with chronic stress and those with cortisol dysregulation. If you fit into these categories I highly recommend you check with your doctor or dietitian before adjusting your eating schedule.

Have done IF? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Drop by Facebook and tell us about it!

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