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muscle gain

Part 1: Training Essentialism: What Every Workout Needs

Doing less but better is what every workout needs for more efficient training and faster gains. As a trainer, I have the privilege to meet and get to know many successful clients.

Most of them hold high status jobs, make great money, and live the “American dream.” Unfortunately, most are consumed and overwhelmed by all pressures around them. They’re eager for success in all walks of life, willing to take on more and more opportunities. Every opportunity is a “yes” and performed with enthusiasm. Determination and passion are enviable traits, but always saying “yes” leaves you focusing on the trivial many, rather than the vital few.

Plain and simple, saying “yes” is akin to reading every fitness blog and magazine around and getting information overload. Having too much information clouds our vision of what important.  Applying every training style to your workouts over-complicates training and leaves you confused on how to train.Tweet: You can anything, but not everything. You must selective.

In this first of three posts I’m going to dive into what your exercise program needs. By eliminating the trivial bull-shit in your workout we’ll maximize your training. Every decision is either a hell yes, or an absolute no.

Defining Training Essentialism:

Before deciding what is essential to your training you must be clear on your goal. Focus on one thing at a time to accomplish your goal.  I want to “lose 10 lbs and add 50 pounds to my deadlift,” doesn’t work, you need just one. Look for the minimum effective dose, the 20% in your 80/20, or the few variables that lead to the most success.

Drop the bicep curls, get good at pull-ups.

Drop the hamstring curls and do deadlifts.

Train the body with total body workouts three times per week instead of missing 1-2 workouts per week with a 5-day body part split.

Understand the Fear of Missing Out

Flashback ten years ago I read every fitness magazine, book, and blog I could get my scrawny little fingers on. I ate every tip up—every tip, suggestion, and exercise was something I had to add immediately to my workouts. I gained a ton of knowledge, but not results. A common misconception is that if you can fit something in, you need to. Busyness is rewarded as more valuable over productivity or less. This concept is known as the fear of missing out and is relevant across all areas of life.

“To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”- Lao Tzu

It wasn’t until I simplified training that I started seeing great results. Pointing your focus in one direction at a time yields superior results to focusing on 10 factors.

training essentialism, what every workout needs
Photocredit: picture: http://glennstovall.com/blog/2014/06/02/learning-to-say-no/

Focus on One Goal:

What is your through and true number one goal? This should be clear. In the examples below I have included the most common goals and vital components to reaching them.

Building Muscle: Progressive overload in big, multi-joint movements. Train with enough volume to build muscle and eat enough calories to support muscle growth.

Unleashing the Inner Athlete: Incorporating movement skills like acceleration, top-end speed, and agility mechanics. Build strength and power to express strength on the field. Relative strength is key.

Building Strength: Progressive overload in the major movement patterns. Minimize weak points in training to prevent injury and improve strength.

Lose Fat and Look Great Naked: Be in a caloric deficit to lose fat while training to maintain strength to preserve muscle mass.

What all Training programs need:

Every good training program has essential qualities that improve training, regardless of goal. Occlusion training, slide boards, tempo training and the hottest eastern European squat program are all great, but the human body hasn’t changed significantly over the last hundred years. The exercises, methods, and progressions that worked best years ago still work best today. Your training doesn’t need complicated methods, your training needs to create a stress above baseline for physiological adaptation. Focus on the quality ver quality in your workouts. Save for specific injury considerations all training routines should have the following:

 Progressive overload:

You must overload the systems current level of fitness to receive a training effect. Serious work must done. You should sweat, strain, and let out the occasional uncontrolled grunt.  Tweet: “ no strain, no gain.” Volume, intensity, increased range of motion, and shorter rest periods are all potential variables.

Improve your health and wellbeing:

If you’re getting hurt physically or mentally hurt from your training you’re training wrong. You need a baseline of conditioning and exercises that are pain free. Discomfort and strain is necessary with pain and injury kept minimal.

Workout Movement Patterns:

Compound basic movement patterns always have and always will be the driver of success in your workout program. The body moves as an integrated unit in sport and life; you’re training should reflect that.Instead of curls, leg extensions, and biceps curls do deadlifts, presses, sprints, and pulls.

The basic movements are the squat, carry, hinge, lunge, sprint, push, and pull. These movements require the body to stabilize, transfer, and product force acrossed many joints like movements in life. I include core work and conditioning work is essential in every routine. You have no reason to be out of shape or set yourself up for injury due to pathetic cores strength.

These are my favorite exercises from each movement pattern:

Squat: Front squat

Hinge: deadlift/ any Olympic lift

Lunge: Bulgarian split squat

Carry: Single arm farmers walk

Press: (vertical) push press

(horizontal) Floor Press

Pull: (vertical) narrow grip chin-up

(horizontal) Dumbbell one-arm row

Core: paloff press

Conditioning: hill sprints

In all actuality you don’t need more than 2-5 exercises to get a great workout. Cover your bases with the basic movement patterns, improve with progressive overload, and reap huge rewards.

Workout Quality Over Quantity:

A stunning what happens when technique takes precedent over weights. Injuries fade, performance increases, and confidence sky-rockets.

Overload is still important and necessary for gains, but piling weights and volume on a faulty base of movement sets you up for injury.

Stay tight on your deadlift rather than losing lumbar position and snapping in half. Learn how to land on a jump without knee valgus (diving in) before performing dumbbell jump squats. Learn how to sprint efficiently before blowing a hamstring.

“It is quality rather than quantity that matters.” – Seneca

Workouts must fit your schedule:

A workout program that doesn’t fit your schedule is a program that won’t be done consistently. This, above all other factors is necessary to see results. Check out this post on a friend of mine who made a huge transformation. If you’re slammed with work this month and your schedule doesn’t allow for five workouts get one that has three workouts. Hitting workouts 75% of workouts while missing 25% is a huge problem. All well-designed workouts play off of one another– missing a piece throws off the balance of the program.

Be Enjoyable Most of the time:

You have enough obligations in life. Working out with a routine you hate isn’t one of them. Take time to enjoy yourself while you’re getting better. Save for the occasion set of high rep squats, training should be fun. If weights aren’t your thing that’s fine—incorporate bodyweight movements, get out and go hiking, and enjoy yourself. Being in shape isn’t about your one-rep max, it’s about being able to do what you enjoy and maintaining good health.

Wrap Up:

Do less, but do it better.

This isn’t a quick tip or strategy; rather, a mind-set to apply to all facets of life. In the gym you don’t need to “isolate” every muscle group and choose one-body part for every day of the week. You don’t need a thousand different tempos, a complex eastern European squat program, and forty exercises to make progress.Worry about every minute detail approach leads to over-analyzing, and sub-par results.

Simplify.

You need progressive overload on a few exercises.

You need to train consistently.

You need to train with focus and intensity.

The rest is fine and wonderful, but when all else fails, simplify.

 

Recommended Reading:

http://jasonferruggia.com/really-essential/

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Photo credit:

McKeown, Greg. “The Essentialist.” Essentialism. New York: Crown Business, 2014. 6. Print.

 

 

Creatine: What’s the Deal?

Hey guys, i’ve got some exciting stuff today. I reached out to one of my idols in the Fitness industry Tony Gentilcore a few weeks ago to write a guest post. I anxiously waited around my email, checking constantly and drinking vodka to pass the time– okay, not really vodka– until I got a response. Tony was a very down-to earth dude and was thankful to have my contributions.
I was pretty jacked, I might have even peed a little. Okay, joking again, that’s weird.

Anyways, I’d really appreciate it if you would head over to his site and check out the post and drop me a comment.

Ready? See you there.

Creatine: What’s the Deal?

Creatine. We’ve all heard about it, but what’s the deal? I get boat-loads of questions regarding the safety and effectiveness of creatine.

Does it make me look better naked? What are these crazy ethyl-ester pills and shiny Pre-workout jugs promising a Skin Searing Pump?

With all the products and information it’s no wonder there are questions.  I’m going to dig in and tell you what creatine is, how to use it, and what to expect.

 

Creatine Monohydate
Creatine Monohydrate

What is it?

Creatine is a natural amino acid most commonly found in red meat,but also produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. In the body creatine becomes a fuel source for short duration high-intensity activities such as weight training, sprinting and jumping where phosphocreatine is converted to ATP.

The amount of creatine consumed through the diet and produced naturally in the body are low; supplementation increases available levels.

Continue Here… Creatine: What’s the Deal?

 

 

Strong. Shredded. Athletic.

-Eric

 

 

Busy Man’s Carb Cycling: The Uber Convenient Way to Shred Fat and Build Muscle.

pizza

Carb cycling may be the best way to maximize the muscle building benefits of carbs while maximizing insulin sensitivity and minimizing fat gain.


The Problem?

A strict dietary regimen of counting calories, managing multiple menus, and analyzing every diet decision down to the gram isn’t practical for most people. Save for the elite physique or bodybuilding competitor, harping over every dietary decision is a first class ticket to frustration and overwhelm, not a better-looking body. 


It doesn’t have to be so complicated and in this article, I’m going to clear the air on how to simplify carb cycling so you can reap the same physique changing benefits without the frustration. 


And while you’re burning fat, here’s a free workout to maximize fat loss and retain lean muscle so you look, feel, and perform your best  Thanks for being here.

Hook me up with the Free Fat Loss Program, Eric!

-Eric


Building muscle while losing fat to unveil a lean, ripped body.

That’s what we’re all after, right? Recomposition, the process of losing fat while building muscle is the single biggest goal of most gym goers. The problem is, most folks tend to either build muscle easily but can’t lose stubborn belly fat. The others?
They have the metabolism of a hummingbird on meth and despite their efforts, can’t build a lick of muscle. 

Fortunately, carb cycling has been used for physique enthusiasts, athletes, and bodybuilders for decades and is one of the most effective ways to keep you lean and muscular. 

So…What is Carb Cycling? 

Carb cycling is the planned manipulation of carbohydrate consumption to maximize workout performance, build lean muscle, and minimize fat gain. It’s an advanced strategy that can do wonders for preventing fat loss plateaus and maximizing insulin sensitivity.   

But carb cycling isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. For most people, carb cycling is downright overwhelming and a first class ticket to saying “fuck it” to yet another diet. If you’re preparing all of your own meals, building separate menus of high/low carb days, and calculating nutritional requirements, carb cycling is extremely time-consuming. 

And if you have business dinners, have multiple people to cook for, and feel overwhelmed by the amount of “perfect” diets plastered all over the internet then another cumbersome diet plan then carb cycling is the last thing you need.

Fortunately, I have your back. You too can implement carb cycling to lose stubborn fat, build muscle, and transform your body without measuring and tracking calories.

I’ve refined and tweaked this process with hundreds of my clients to help them boost performance and look better naked.  It worked for them and can work for you, too. 

 Picture This: It’s early fall and Saturday around noon. College football season has arrived. You’re at your local alumni sports bar with your buddies. Everyone’s ordering, microbrews, nachos, chicken wings, and fries..food galore, a gluttonous paradise.

Carb Cycling

 

The waitress makes her way to you, what do you do?

The decision shouldn’t be whether you can crush a few nachos and beer with your friends, it should be “ did I earn my carbs today?”

Luckily, you crushed front squats and your quads are smoked. You order the double bacon bison burger, fries, a side salad, and a Hercules Double IPA. Now, this isn’t an everyday occurrence, but you’ve earned the right to splurge. That’s one of the beauties of carb cycling–the freedom to enjoy some of your delicious, higher carb, and sometimes less healthy options with less damage to your diet.

The key to this high effective strategy? Insulin.

Insulin and Carb Cycling

Insulin is an extremely anabolic hormone that can help you lose fat and build muscle if manipulated correctly. Too little and you’re doomed to flat muscles, poor recovery, and pre-shrinking your affliction t-shirts to look jacked. Too much and you’ll resemble the Michelin Man and suffer from myriad health problems.
 
Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas that plays a major role in metabolism and regulates nutrient entry into your cells. When insulin is seldom elevated (like long-term low carb diets) you won’t gain much muscle. Conversely, a higher carb intake when your body is more sensitive to insulin such as the hours after a workout triggers rapid tissue repair, protein synthesis, and muscle growth.
On the flip side when your body is not sensitive to carbs, such as non-training days and being excessively overweight, spending your afternoons at the pasta buffet will lead to carbs behind stored as body fat. As you can see insulin is a double edged sword. Through proper timing and fluctuations, carb cycling empowers you to control insulin and strip off body fat and build lean muscle faster. 

Carb Cycling Made Easy

Carb cycling is as easy as it sounds. Cycle carbohydrates on weight training days (high carb) and non-workout/cardio days (low carb). Rather than giving you a plethora of calculations and impractical menus we’ll simplify the process. 

Lifting heavy and with high training volume? It’s a high carb day. 

Due to the repeated muscle contractions during resistance training, your body will have an increased insulin sensitivity. With this increased response to carbs your body will drive nutrients into your muscle cells, aiding them in repair, growing them, and providing you with more energy. 

On lifting days you’ll be consuming fruits and starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and oats) as your carbohydrate sources. If you’re trying to build muscle like the Minimalist Muscle course or have long, grueling workouts then have starches during all meals and during your workouts.
If you gain fat easily or have shorter, less intense workouts like a 30-minute bicep blaster, use moderate starches. This would mean carbs during your workout and with your first meal post-workout.

Taking a day off or hitting a low volume workout? Keep the carbs low.

On non-lifting days keep carbohydrates low because there isn’t the same increase in insulin sensitivity. Carbs consumed when your body is less sensitive may lead to additional fat gain. Let’s minimize that, shall we? By minimizing carbs a few days per week your body becomes more receptive to insulin. This means on the days you do consume carbs, your body becomes hypersensitive and  shuttles carbs towards building muscle rather than being stored as fat.  

If you hit a light workout or interval session get your carbs from fruits or veggies throughout the day. It’s fine to keep carbs during your workout or in the meal after, but keep them lower overall. 

Lifting? Carb up and support your muscle-building workouts. More volume in the gym means more carbs. 

Intervals or taking the day off? Avoid most starchy carbs, improve insulin sensitivity, and burn more body fat.  

 

Sample Workout Schedule and Carb Intake

Monday: Lower Body Training (high volume) /High Carb

Tuesday: Upper Body Focus (low volume) /Moderate Carb

Wednesday: Off Or Sprint Work

Thursday: Upper Body Focus(high volume) /High Carb

Friday: Lower Body Focus/High Carb

Saturday: Upper Body Focus/High Carb

Sunday: Off Or Sprint Work

Low Carb Day

Breakfast: 4 egg scramble, 1/2 tomato, 1/4 avocado

Snack (Optional): Handful nuts and carrots

Lunch: Mediterranean salad w/cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, chicken, feta cheese w/balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Workout: One banana with protein shake

Dinner: Sirloin steak, broccoli, and a small salad. Optional: One sweet potato

High Carb Day

Breakfast: 3 egg scramble with spinach, 1 cup oatmeal with blueberries

Snack (Optional): Shake with 1 scoop vanilla protein, 1 cup berries, 1/2 cup cottage cheese

Lunch: Sandwich loaded with lean meat and veggies

Dinner: Sweet potato, barbecue rubbed chicken thighs and cauliflower

Snack (Optional): Shake with 1 scoop chocolate protein, 1 orange, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup cottage cheese

 

Common Issues and Questions

Do Calories Still Matter if I go Low Carb? 
Yes. The idea that dropping carbs will miraculously drop body fat is false…unless you’re burning more calories than you’re eating. Now, carb cycling can improve insulin sensitivity and over time lead to better fat loss, but if you’re eating more calories than your body burns you’ll still add fat. Sorry, butter in your coffee can still make you fat. 

How Low is Low Carb?

This depends on your size and body part percentage. With some clients, I’ll shoot for under 100 grams of carbs on low carb days for fat loss. A simple trick is to replace the grains/starches you eat with leafy, fibrous greens.

I’m not looking to build muscle, only lose fat. Is Carb Cycling still for me?

Yes! Carb cycling is great for a fat loss diet. When you’re consistently low on calories and carbohydrates you may see reductions in metabolic rate, thyroid hormones, sympathetic nervous system activity, energy levels, and sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen (Berardi and Andrews 368).

This leads to a plateau that stops your fat loss in its tracks, yikes!

When you cycle carbohydrates and calories back into your diet you raise leptin levels a powerful fat burning hormone that down-regulates when calories are low. Essentially, you trick your body into burning more fat by keeping it out of starvation mode.

Can I pig out on High Carb Days? You did use examples of fries, beer, and wings….

Although carb cycling does afford my flexibility in your food choices this isn’t a pass to go eat pizza, burgers and fill the gaps in with crappy protein powder.  You can indulge occasionally but stick to mostly high-quality foods and supplements like Grass-fed whey and a greens powder (here’s mine) if you hate veggies. As tasty as it is, the combination of high fat, high carb, high alcohol containing meals is a perfect recipe for gaining weight. Sorry IIFYM folks, junk food is still junk food and will come back around to harm your body in the future. 

That’s a Wrap

Carb cycling works–that’s been shown by coaches a long time ago.  For starters, you’ll improve insulin sensitivity and strategically maximize the power of insulin around your workouts to build muscle. Psychologically, my friend and fellow coach Ben Johnson points out carb cycling helps you pay more attention to what foods you’re putting into your body, leading to better food choices. In both cases, approaching your diet with awareness and timing carbs around your workouts is a no-brainer for losing fat, building muscle, and improving performance in the gym.

It doesn’t need to be complicated, just focus on eating healthy food options and staying true to your carb cycling schedule to reap the rewards of proper nutrient timing.

P.S. Looking to drop 8-10 pounds in the next month? That’s exactly what people have been doing in our 30-Day Fat Loss Contest. Apply today, spaces are limited. 

 

Citations:

Berardi, Jon, and Ryan Andrews. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Second. Precision Nutrition Inc., 2012. 368. Print.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. “Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes.” Bethesda, MD: , 2013. Web. 

 

Is Calorie Counting Practical?

Wednesday afternoon, 2:30pm. The bag of almonds is beside you as you send a trade request to your friend for fantasy football. You take a handful, then another, and then another.

You bypass ESPN on your browser and click on your calorie counter. After all, you’ve tracked your diet for the last 3 months. You even saw great progress in the first six weeks and now you’re hooked.

Problem is, your diet has stalled.

You haplessly continue on, guessing at your portion sizes and recalling what you ate the last few days. Clicking, scanning, and entering information that has a pretty solid chance at being incorrect. You’ve been traveling for work and it’s impossible to measure out food when it’s being served to you  at a steakhouse (unless you really will bring a food scale, but I hope not).

No trans fat?

As well as things were working before, calorie counting has become a burden. It’s become impractical for your busy life and you are no longer seeing the changes you’ve diligently pursued.

All dietary changes will create some level of stress, and some tough decisions. Without a struggle there is no progress. Changing the way you eat goes much further than simply food in food out; there is a huge emotional component of eating, as well as hunger and appetite signals.

In the short term, anyone can monotonously, robotically enter calories and macronutrients into a computer system.  But how many can do it long term?

Few, very few. Just ask around, you will find tons of people who “used to” count their calories. They quit, gave up, and found it impractical.

Now, they continue to struggle with their dietary behaviors and never developed control without thinking of food in numbers.

In addition, counting calories is  just not all that accurate.

Because of incorrect labeling, laboratory errors, and differences in food quality and preparation, calorie counts recorded on food labels and websites – even those within the USDA’s nutrient databases – can be off by as much as 25%.

For example, this study observed bagels on patients food records. The textbook weight of a bagel is 65 g; however, the bagels brought in by patients weighed between 98g-128g. That’s nearly twice the size of the textbook weight and up to a 550+kcal difference (Heymsfield, Darby,Muhlheim, Gallagher, Wolper & Allison, 1995)

.

Week21, Recipe33

Bottom line

Even if you’re the world’s best calorie counter, your calculations are off. Even the best data is wildly inconsistent due to factors such as growing conditions, seed quality (if a seed), and how it is prepared.

 Changing your diet isn’t easy  and impractical, sub-par results can contribute to a ton of frustration. These constant irritations eventually lead diets to fail, fat to return, and unhealthy lifestyles to continue. There is a better way.

The Palm Method

My friends at Precision Nutrition have developed an uber-advanced, spectacular way to count calories……

By using the palm of your hand.

 “The palm of my hand?”

Yes! The palm of your hand gives you a consistent measuring tool that is unique to your body and is always with you. When preparing your meals how often does your food touch your hands?

Granted you cook your own food, I would say quite a bit.

 Using the palm of your hand gives you a clear visual of how much food you should eat, rather than trying to estimate how much chicken equals out to 6 ounces.

 For example, Men looking to lose fat would eat this:

  • 1 – 2 palms of protein dense foods with each meal

  • 1 – 2 fists of vegetables with each meal

  • 1 – 2 thumbs of fat dense foods if including extra fats. (avoid in post-workout meal)

  • (Optional) 1 – 2 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods if post-workout or if you tolerate carbs well.

 Women would eat:

  • 1 palm of protein dense foods with each meal

  • 1 fist of vegetables with each meal

  • 1 – 2 thumbs of fat dense foods if including extra fats. (avoid in post-workout meal)

  • (Optional) 1 – 2 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods if post-workout or if you tolerate carbs well.

These obviously change due to factors such as: body type, dietary style, carbohydrate tolerance, training intensity, health concerns, and current fitness goals.

Looking to gain lean mass or optimize recovery in your workouts? Increase the carbs post-workout.

Looking to lose body fat fast? Keep starchy carbs low and post-workout.

It doesn’t have to be exact.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

It doesn’t have to be time consuming.

Wrap Up

Calorie counting is rarely a feasible, long term option. Worse, it’s wildly inaccurate. Adopt the palm method for stress-free meal tracking and keep your diet on track.

The best plans are rarely the best designed, most complex, most scientifically in depth.

 The best plans, whether it’s diet or exercise, are the plans that are practical and can be done consistently. Consistency is the key.

 

 For more information and strategies check out this free 5 day fat loss course for:

Men==> Fat Loss Course For Men

Women ⇒ Fat Loss Course For Women

Sources:

Berardi, D. J. (2013, 6 13). How to fix a broken diet:3 ways to get your eating on track. Retrieved from http://www.precisionnutrition.com/fix-a-broken-diet

 

Heymsfield , S. B., Darby, P. C., Muhlheim, L. S., Gallagher, D., Wolper, C., & Allison, D. B. (1995). The calorie: myth, measurement, and reality.American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 65, 1034-1041. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/62/5/1034S.full.pdf html

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/miyagi/1951765824/“>Mr Miyagi</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>


photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/amls/3540309399/“>amls</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>

 

For more information and strategies check out this free 5 day fat loss course for:

Men==> Fat Loss Course For Men

Women ⇒ Fat Loss Course For Women

 

 

Travel Hacker: Make it Guilt Free

Travel can make getting a good workout and staying on a routine seemingly impossible.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.

You see, most people end up with an “All or Nothing” philosophy.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/brunoboris/522420946/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/brunoboris/522420946/

 “SCREW IT. I’M ON VACATION!”

Or

“I’m Going to find a gym and Continue working Out, even if it costs me a good time”

The “screw it” mindset is triggered by an overstressed life, sudden freedom, and poor healthy options on the road.  Those who follow this philosophy generally suffer from fat gain, muscle loss, and overwhelming guilt once they return back home from lengthy trips.

The “All” philosophy isn’t any better.  In most cases, travel takes you out of your routine. gym options are expensive and difficult to find, and the other experiences suffer as a result. Like the “screw it” philosophy, people suffer from overwhelming guilt once they return back home because they neglected great experiences.

See the issue?

Luckily, there’s a happy medium to have Guilt Free Travel.

I’ve tried both extremes and failed miserably. There are better ways to go about your fitness when traveling. To avoid the fat gain, muscle loss, feelings of guilt, and disappointment of travel you must accept that fact that you aren’t in your normal routine. 

You’re traveling either for important business, leisure, or both.  Your sleep , diet, and your workouts will all be altered. That’s okay, lets workout around these things.

Workouts

Forget the gym. if you have a hotel gym that’s fine, if not, no biggie. The goal is efficiency and working around travel events.

How to start your day:

Slam two glasses of water, turn on some music, do the hotel room workout, shower and take on the day. This an abbreviated Own The AM.

 Hotel Workout:

Description: The Count-Up workout. Start with 1 rep of each exercise, cycle through all of the exercises as fast as you can and add a rep once through the sequence. Go all the way to 10 reps per exercise, take 2 minutes, and repeat if necessary.

A.Push Up

B.Groiners

C.Squat

D.Reverse Lunge

E. Single Leg Deadlift

Remember, do 1 rep of each exercise, move to the next exercise, and add a rep all the way to 10.

Diet

You have a few options here. On travel days eating is inconvenient and filled with bad options. I’ll pass on the shitty $9.00 Burger King meal while dragging my bags around the airport.

Here are the best options:

Eat a large, healthy meal before you go. Keep the carbs low and load up on healthy proteins, fats, and vegetables. I prefer making a killer omelet.

-4 whole eggs

– 1/2 red pepper, diced

-1/4 cup onion, diced

– left over protein source

-salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Eggs taste good with about anything. I raid my fridge for whatever leftovers remain. I’d rather not come home to a moldy fridge.

Also, supershakes tend to work great. I generally always have a protein powder, a healthy fat source like peanut butter, and a greens supplement I can blend together in under 5 minutes. In addition, you can stock up on raw nuts, jerky, and water for your travel.

Or, you can do a fast.

This is my preferred option, especially for fat loss. Not only will you get a big surge of fat burning hormones, you will save money and sanity by avoiding poor options.

If fasting wake up, chug some water, and get rolling to your travel destination. Consume coffee, tea, and lots of water while on the road. Once you arrive at your destination have a pre-planned restaurant to go to. This way, you reward yourself, unwind, and enjoy travel.

In addition, due to the inconvenience of a proper diet I always bring a Greens Supplement with me. In a crunch, these replace most multivitamins and provide you with the benefits of vegetables without stopping at the store on the road.

Do The Following On the Road:

Sleep

You’re likely jet lagged, dehydrated, and have a ton on your mind. If you’re traveling for work your mind is spinning on whatever task is at hand. If traveling for leisure it’s time to relax. Turn off your alarm (if possible) and take naps if needed.

Move Around

Walking around and exploring new surroundings is a great way to “check out” of your routine and enjoy travel. Get out of the habit of sitting in cars and taxis and walk everywhere, You might even have some fun.  You’re burning more calories and getting more out of your travel without even thinking about it.

Avoid a Diet

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mezzoblue/6209473493/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mezzoblue/6209473493/

If you try to strictly follow a diet you will be sorely disappointed. I fricken love food. In the tropics and want to enjoy some rum? Go for it. In the Deep South and you want to crush chicken and waffles? Do it….but plan a little. Instead of going on a food and booze bender plan when your big meals will be. Make sure you workout either first thing in the morning, or before your big meal. Fast throughout the day, drink tons of water, and stay busy with other activities. This way, you can enjoy the things you came for without blowing up like a marshmallow.

Avoid the “All or Nothing” philosophy and enjoy guilt free travel.

You’re not in your routine and it’s impossible to maintain it while enjoying your travel. Perform mini-workouts, plan your big meals, and stay active. Travel should be enjoyable, don’t let anything takeover the experience–even fitness.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/brunoboris/522420946/”>brunoboris</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mezzoblue/6209473493/”>mezzoblue</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Hack Your Sleep

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If your sleep quality sucks so will your workouts. And your recovery. And your sex life. And your dietary decisions. And your mood. Yea, sleep  is pretty damn important.

Let me tell you a story.

My last two years of college I lived with 6 other guys. It was a blast; however, sleep quality was piss-poor. Specifically, I remember a heat wave during my last year of college. It was July with temperatures 95-105 for about a week straight, with heat indexes hanging out around 110.  Working two jobs, one which was outside all day, and then coming home to “chill” with 6+ dudes was brutal. We didn’t have air conditioning and it stayed about 90 degrees and humid inside all night long, it was as much fun as licking the inside of a toilet bowl. Never, ever have I appreciated the benefits of quality sleep.

Sleep is essential to many of the fundamental attributes for physical health, mental performance, and overall health. Aim to get at least 6 hours, as growth hormone and testosterone peak during sleep.

Plain and Simple, you need at least 6 hours of quality sleep. Lack of sleep is associated with:

  • increased body fat

  • higher stress levels

  • increased hunger

  • smaller muscles

  • less sex and sexual dysfunction

  • irritable behavior

  • earlier death

None of this sounds good to me, so getting high quality sleep is a huge priority. Is it really necessary to check your emails again?

No, F^*% that.

I’d rather have my muscle, intelligence, sanity, abs, and life.

As many as 30% of adults sleep less than six hours per night, the minimum you should try to get per night. Any less than six hours of sleep per night and your testosterone begins to plummet, growth hormone output decreases, and cortisol spikes. Sold on sleep?

Here are 7 Tips to Maximize Your Sleep

1. Turn your room into a cave

In order to fall asleep the body produces melatonin, a hormone that aids the body in relaxing enough to sleep. However, many of todays technologies such as cell phones, alarm clocks, tablets, and emit blue light that disrupts natural circadian rhythms.

For those who aren’t familiar, the circadian rhythm refers to our internal, 24-hour cycle of biochemical, physiological, and behavioral processes. To optimize melatonin production avoid screens 1-2 hours before bed and instead, opt for a book or other relaxing activity and cover all sources of light in your room.

2. Avoid Caffeine

Coffee and caffeinated drinks are great. I drink them when I need an extra boost for workouts or increased alertness early in the morning. When used correctly, caffeine can yield very productive days. Issue is, caffeine has a 6 hour half-life.

Unfortunately, this means that cup of Joe you slurp down at 10am still has caffeine flowing through your body when you’re prepping for sleep and trying to wind down in the evening. You probably don’t even feel the affects causes issues because caffeine disrupts sleep quality through decreased REM sleep, the deep sleep that your body utilizes to recuperate physically and emotionally.

3. Turn down the thermostat

This one takes me back to college. We had a brutal heat wave in Wisconsin (yes this happens), it was 95-105 for about a week straight with a heat index 110+. This would be bearable, but I happened to live in a stuffy house without A/C filled with 6 other guys. In other words, it sucked and I woke up every morning drenched in sweat and dehydrated.

Although sleeping temperature is highly variable from person to person, most scientists agree that slightly cooler temperatures than normal promote deeper sleep patterns.

4.Protein Before Bed

“What happened to eat after 8 gain weight?”

Sorry to burst your bubble, but this is a fallacy. When looking to build an awesome body it’s important to emphasize protein. My favorite before bed is cottage cheese, as the slow digesting casein proteins will provide amino acids to the muscles for hours to come. In addition,
Tryptophan, the amino acid popularized by post-Thanksgiving naps facilitates serotonin production. Serotonin is a neuro-transmitter that assists in sleep regulation.

5. Crush Carbs At Night

First protein at night, now carbs? Eric are you crazy?

Calm down junior, there is nothing wrong with carbs at night.

In fact, placing a bigger emphasis on carbohydrates at night will greatly benefit you sleep quality. Similar to tryptophan, carbohydrates facilitate seratonin production, aiding in improved sleep quality.

6. Have a Cheat Day

Cheat days during a diet are not only beneifical for your sanity but also for hormones such as leptin to keep results coming and sleep quality on par. Keeping consistent leptin levels is paramount  because leptin sends a message to stop eating when your body has fueled up enough. When at a caloric or sleep deficit, leptin decreases, making it more likely to overeat.
In short, this sucks.

When leptin decreases so does your rate of fat loss, which is why your diet may stall. By using a cheat day you can increase your leptin to spark fat burning. In conjunction with this increase in leptin levels the increased calories in your body will increase serotonin production, aiding in sleep quality similar to a huge holiday meal.

7. Set an evening routine

Our bodies like consistency due the consistency of ciradian rhythms. Try unwinding, avoiding P.M. stimulants, stimulating lights from electronics, and practice relaxation techniques such as stretching and meditation. In essence, instead of checking email and watching Mean Girls opt for a book and a comfy chair in a quiet area.

Your body will increase melatonin and serotonin production for higher quality, more restful sleep.

Quality sleep is the most overlooked and neglected factor when it comes to health, body composition improvement, and athletic development. Sleep is your time to improve and reap the benefits of your hard work in the kitchen and gym, maximize sleep to maximize your gains.

How can you improve your sleep? Do you have any tips or tricks?

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