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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.


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:


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.




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


Far and away, this is one of the most popular articles on Bach Performance.
If you’re looking to maximize fat loss, Carb Cycling is an important strategy.
And while you’re burning fat, here’s a Free workout to maximize fat loss and retain lean muscle. Thanks for being here.

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


If you’re looking shred fat, build muscle, and improve your overall health, then carb cycling is your answer. Carb cycling is a fairly advanced nutritional strategy and can be extremely time-consuming. Building separate menus, calculating nutritional requirements and prepping all of your own food can be tedious work.

When time is one of your biggest barriers to healthy eating the best options aren’t always feasible.

 Fortunately, as easy as I’m about to make it, carb cycling will help you consistently eat healthy without having to measure and track your calories. Boom!

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.

*Note: I’m probably there with you.



*Note: I’m not condoning the food options above, but I’m a realist.

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 you earn your carbs?”

Depending on the day, carb cycling allows you the freedom to enjoy some of your delicious, higher carb, and sometimes less healthy options with less damage to your diet.

Carb cycling is a highly effective dietary strategy that maximizes your body’s ability to build pounds of muscle and burn slabs of fat simultaneously.

What is Carb Cycling?

Carb cycling is as easy as it sounds and is as simple as cycling carbohydrates on weight training days (high carb) and non-workout/cardio days (low carb).

High Carb: Due to the repeated muscle contractions of 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.

Low Carb: On the non-lifting days you keep carbohydrates low because there isn’t the same increase in insulin sensitivity. Without carbs flowing through the bloodstream the body is forced to burn stored fuel, or body fat. By minimizing carbs a few days per week the body becomes more receptive to insulin, so when you do indulge on the sugary goodness your anabolic response will be maximized.


To rehash, Lifting? Carb up and support your muscle-building workouts.

Intervals or taking the day off? Avoid carbs and maximize your fat burning.

Sample Workout Schedule and Carb Intake

Monday: Lower Body Focus /High Carb

Tuesday: Upper Body Focus/High Carb

Wednesday: Off Or Sprint Work

Thursday: Upper Body Focus/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

Snack (optional): Supershake, omit fruit and grains

Dinner: Sirloin steak, broccoli, and small salad

High Carb Day

Breakfast: 3 egg scramble with spinach, 1/2 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

How Low is Low Carb?

On low carb days shoot for under 100 grams of carbs. 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 it’s tracks, yikes!

When you cycle carbohydrates 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.

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 I wouldn’t advise crushing junk. As tasty as it is, the combination of high fat, high carb, high alcohol containing meals is a perfect recipe for gaining weight. Adipose weight. I wouldn’t recommend it.

I’m very sensitive to carbs. I look at bread and put on a spare tire, how can I carb cycle to add muscle, but not additional fat?

If you find your adding body fat ditch carbs until after your workout. By keeping carbs until you workout you will utilize stored fuel up until and during your workouts, increasing your fat burning. Then, carb up after the workout to take advantage of your insulin sensitivity.


That’s a Wrap

Carb cycling is the most effective way to maximize the benefits of carbohydrates in your diet.

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

Hittin’ the weights? Boom, carbs baby!
Hook me up with the Free Fat Loss Program, Eric!

Day off or intervals? Replace grains with greens, no problem.


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

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/santos/162994388/”>chotda</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/83096974@N00/1091167314/”>In Praise of Sardines</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

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


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.




“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.


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



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.


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:


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


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


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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