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The Fitness Myth That Kills Progress

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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?

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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. 

 

How To Improve Training Consistency

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When it comes training, we tend to like the results a lot more than the process. Guest blogger Olivier Poirier-Leroy explains how to build a workout routine that will last. 


The January hordes have already begun to thin out at local gyms. Familiar faces are coming back into focus as many of the New Year’s resolution people fade away.

Training consistency is the key to long term success. And that’s where many people come up short. Making exercise a regular habit is a real struggle. The problem is almost universal.

Whether your goal is to master your bench press form, improve your front squat, or simply miss fewer workouts this year, here are a few ways to make the routine stick.

Make starting your workout the easiest thing you will do all day long.

Take one step at a time.  Avoid  lump-sum thinking that leaves you dreading all of the effort that will be required to do the whole thing. Instead, think about the effort required:

  •  to drive to the gym
  •  to put on your workout clothes
  •  to do a five minute warm up

training consistency

Break things down. When you make the goal the thing before the goal, things become easier and less intimidating.

Start smaller every time you have to restart.

There will be misfires on your journey to finding a routine that truly sticks. The first attempt at anything rarely works out, so why should making working out a habit be any different?

If you find yourself going all-out for a few days or weeks and then briskly falling off, start over with a cooler head and smaller expectations. Remember: the goal, above all else, is improved training consistency.

Remove obstacles.

What are your excuses for avoiding going to the gym? What are the things that pop up, over and over again?

If you are like me, you might put off your workout until the end of the day. Solution: work out in the morning.

Or you might expect too much of yourself, setting yourself up for disappointment. Solution: lower expectations.

Here’s one way to cope….

Make your goal driving to the gym.

Habit-creation is tough, especially when it comes to a behavior as complex and requiring as much willpower as working out.

How many times have you gone to the gym and done half a workout? Probably never, right? Once you get going,  you complete some sort of workout. Sure, it might not always be pretty, but generally the workout gets done.

We can’t always control how great/crappy our workout will be, but we can always complete the easy task of driving to the gym. Or pedaling down the block. Or running that first 100m.

If your goal is to wake up and run for 100m each morning, that is a much easier habit to build than, “I am going to wake up and run 10k every day.”

Make your workout routine kick off on something laughably small. When you need to be 100% fired up to make it to the gym you have a problem, because motivation is fleeting and it is fickle. Some days you have it. Others, not so much.

Design your workout routine so that you can start a workout even on the days where your motivation is at an all-time low.

Make your fitness goal walking through the doors of the gym, and that’s it. No motivation required.

Pick things you actually enjoy doing in the gym.

Seems blatantly obvious, but it’s still worth saying: your workouts don’t to be nothing but of exercises you hate doing.

If you love running, run. If you love powerlifting, do it. If you like going to the park and running around with your dog for an hour, do that.

When it comes to performing consistent exercise something is always better than nothing, and something you like is always better than something.

Mind your surroundings.

Our environment has a remarkable way of dictating our behaviors. Whether we realize it or not, the cues and triggers and even the people we surround ourselves with color our decisions and influence whether we can make that new ritual stick.

Some easy ways to “hack” your environment include:

  • Laying out your gym gear on the floor beside your bed before you pass out.
  • Carrying a water bottle with you at all times to get more water in ya.
  • Spend more time with people who have similar fitness goals as you.
  • Have pre-made (convenient!) healthy snacks for those moments when you get violent hunger pangs.

Moving beyond existing behaviors is tough. But you can make it easier. Manipulate your environment to help the change along. You’ll develop healthy new habits as you travel the road to consistency that leads to success.

IMG_9725About the Author:

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is an entrepreneur, athlete, and writer. He’s also kinda tall. He writes over at YourWorkoutBook.com.

 

 

 

 

What I Learned Attending My First Marathon

lolo marathon finish


Forgive me my barbell brethren, for I have sinned.

I’m a self-proclaimed meathead. Yet I spent this past weekend attending my first marathon.

I didn’t shake my head at the collection of nipple chafing and “confused” people training “wrong.”

My biceps didn’t atrophy.

I didn’t, by mere physical proximity, lose 12 inches off my vertical jump.

Far from it. I was intrigued, inspired, and impressed.

The running community has it figured out. Weekend warriors, powerlifters, CrossFitters, and bodybuilding tribes all need to catch up.

Gasp…

Headshake…

I know, it’s crazy. Right?

Let me explain:

Since January, I’ve watched my wife Lauren crush her workouts. Ten degrees or eighty, rain or shine, sore or fresh… she got it done.

No excuses.

No “I’m too busy,” or “it’s too cold.”

No “I’m traveling, and working out is too hard.”

By all means, she did exactly what all high-performance beasts do— she showed grit.

Problem is, most people I know  in the fitness industry would scoff at the idea of someone “running” being high performance. They think running an endurance event is somehow inferior to every other fitness pursuit.

Shamefully, I’ve perpetrated this myth through my bias as an athlete and coach of mostly power and anaerobic events.

“Running is catabolic, it breaks you down and zaps your strength.”

“You’ll lose muscle and get/stay skinny fat.”

“Running is easy, I could do that.” (Note: most new clients can barely skip or stay on their feet beyond bilateral exercises. So no, you probably couldn’t.)

Before you gasp and send research to @Eric_Bach  attempting to back-up any of these beliefs…arguing semantics and physiology isn’t the point of this post. Greg Nuckols already dismissed most of them here.

Instead, here’s the deal:

Being a high performance beast is about setting a goal, then finding a way to get it done.

It’s developing the warrior mindset of pride, passion, and persevering through the inevitable roadblocks that stand between you, and whatever you’re looking to achieve.

It’s the process and the mindset that makes you a bad-ass…not the event.

lolo marathon

More simply, it’s not hoisting an elite powerlifting total. It’s improving your technique and attacking your weaknesses without fail.

It’s not about running the marathon at a specific time. It’s about running rain or shine — whether you want to or not. 

It’s not hitting your fat loss goal, it’s making incremental changes to your lifestyle to make sure the weight stays off.

It’s not signing the business contract at the end of your meeting. Instead, it’s knowing the product inside out, and preparing g to the best of your ability.

Being high-performance isn’t simply about the end result—it’s the process of preparing to the best of your ability.

I have a new respect and mindset toward the running community. 

Far and away, runners created the most positive competitive environment I’ve ever seen.

Sure, I saw skinny fat bodies, technical breakdown in running mechanics, and dudes with bloody nipples.

Still, I saw plenty of jacked physiques, big biceps, and smooth athletes completely in the zone mastering their craft. At the end, zipping around Minneapolis to cheer on Lauren was an overwhelmingly positive experience.

She showed me how much of a high-performance bad-ass she really is.

lolo marathon finish
She opened my eyes to put my personal training preferences and biases aside.

She set a goal and outlined the process, then made no excuses and got it done.

Being a high-performance bad-ass isn’t your deadlift. It’s not your training style. It’s not your marathon, nor your income. It’s the process of setting your goal, seeing it through to the end, then smashing it.

As Lauren put it, the race was just the victory lap. The real competition was the process of getting there.

Will you step up to the plate and master the process?

Minimalist Training: Stop Making it so Damn Complicated

Minimalist Training

Maybe you’re an accountant during tax season, constrained by dozens of last-minute documents and sleeping under your desk. 
Maybe you’re a full-time student working two jobs, managing your classes, and trying to have a social life.

Sound familiar? Sometimes everything else in life gets so damn hectic that we can’t fathom training. The thought of blitzing another training session with advanced methods and timed rest periods is too much to handle.

I understand, I’ve been there. This is when you should adopt minimalist training. 

During different times of the year, I get slammed busy.

Coaching gets busy, and my writing and training take a back seat. That doesn’t mean I get lazy, half-ass my workouts, and stop making gains. Quite the opposite: I’m forced to hone in on what matters, what gets the best results, and rid my mind of all but the essential. I perform minimalist training sessions. It’s Pareto’s Principle, the good ole’ fashion 80:20, and eliminating all that is least efficient.

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

As a coach, I need to know the ins-and-outs of training protocols for clients and athletes.

It’s part of the job.

I need to know how to do them, how to progress/regress, and understand how the body reacts.

While it’s great to be well-versed in advanced training methods, it’s not necessary for most people.

Post-activation potentiation, dynamic effort training, strength curves, timed rest periods, bioenergetics, and understanding how your body responds to insulin is all gravy, but don’t get lost in sexy terms and complicated matters.

Before you lose your mind, switch-gears, and freak out over training ask yourself the following questions:

1.) Am I getting stronger? Progressive overload is and always will be the premier way to build muscle, gain strength, and improve your fitness.

2.) Does my nutrition reflect my goals? Looking to lose weight? Burn more calories than you consume and see the scale drop. Looking to gain muscle? If you’re not gaining the weight you’re looking for the answer is simple—eat more. Eat your greens, get plenty of protein, healthy fats, and consume carbs to match your activity levels.

3.) Does it hurt? Then don’t do it. Understand the difference between strain and pain. Strain builds your body and character, pain screams “back the hell away!”

4.) Am I focused? Are workouts taking two hours? Unless you’re an advanced athlete (often it’s still a stretch) focus on the essential and drop the rest. You’re here to train, not have social hour and do 27 exercises for your “anterior pelvic tilt” or tight lats. Get in, get out, and get focused on your training.

Stop multi-tasking and over-thinking every aspect of your training. Instead, Focus on your goal, and only your goal.
Focus only on what truly helps you reach your goal, and forget the rest.

Focus on One Goal:

1.Multitasking is less efficient. Switching back and forth between goals zaps focus takes more time, and often results in you abandoning your goal.

2.Multitasking is complicated, leaving you more prone to mistakes and stress. You’ll major in the minors and never build muscle, shred fat, and take control of your life.

3.Multitasking makes you GO CRAZY. In the information age, we need to reign in terror and find a calm medium.

Simple Goal Setting:
Pick a big goal, like gaining ten pounds of muscle.Following the goal, pick out what small, behaviors you can do each day for two weeks that will help you reach your goal. Once you have mastered and tracked that goal for two weeks, add to it with another behavior.

Here’s an example:
Main Goal:I want to gain 10 pounds of muscle

Behavior 1: Lift weights 3x per week focusing on squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and chin-ups (check off every day for two weeks)

Behavior 2: Consume a post-workout shake of 30g protein and 60g carbs. (check off every day for two weeks)

Behavior 3: Get at least 6 hours of sleep per night. (check off every day for two weeks)

Get the point? I work with my clients to add one behavior at a time for 12-week blocks. Taking things step by step, focusing on one goal at a time yields real, practical change no matter the goal.

Don’t be the “10-year guy” who despite his hard work, lives the same life with the same body, same frustrations, and exact same goal. It’s that guy we all know doing 3 sets of 10 with 135 on the bench press….every day.

Stop Making it So Damn Complicated and adopt Minimalist Training

We all have jobs, school, family life, and life stressors that we’re responsible for.
Stop complicating training and adding it to the mix.
Use training as a stress-relief, not second-guessing and listening to what your friend (the former trainer, since we all know a few) recommends.

Stop asking about how you compare to others, stop critiquing your selfies, and focus on your goal and only your goal.
More isn’t better, more is more. Adopt a minimalist training perspective. You’ll stay the simple course and reap big rewards.

Should Women Train Differently than Men?

Recently, I’ve been receiving questions on how females should train. Most have the goal of looking leaner, toned, and a more curvy. In this post, I wanted to answer the most frequently asked question, “Should Women train differently than men? ”

Short Answer: No, not really.

With the questions I frequently get, I have put together 7 considerations for helping sculpt a sexy female figure.

1.) “Toning” and “shaping” are not the answer.

Weight training in popular media for women generally revolves around words such as “toning and shaping.”
Lets examine “toning” This term is used to make muscles appear firmer, and tighter without them appearing bigger. It’s a common, but extremely thawed thought. Routines based upon “toning” likely involve extremely light weights for very high rep amounts. Think pink dumbbells for 20 rep sets of triceps kickbacks. Unfortunately, these routines are not challenging enough to the muscle to force growth and change.

Without challenging you body to grow and change, how will it look any better?  With or without excess fat, a body looks healthy and fit with a little more muscle.

Shaping offers a different, yet equally confusing idea. Muscles cannot be shaped; rather, they are pre-determined by your genetics. You can’t physiologically change a muscles shape, only whether it is bigger or smaller.

2.) You should lift heavy.

Certain goals for both men and women are similar. The most common is a firm, toned, sexy look. One of the best ways to get that look, for men or women, is with heavy weight. Lifting heavy weights is the fastest, and most efficient way to build myogenic muscle tone… or the highly dense, toned muscle that you seek.

Photo Credit: List09.com
Photo Credit: List09.com

“But won’t lifting heavier weights make me bigger?” This leads to right to my next point…

3.)No, lifting weights will NOT make you bigger.

Why? Building muscle is very, very, hard. Ask any guy. There is a reason we train year in, year out, eat copious amounts of dead animal flesh, and cherish any small, muscular changes. And that’s with a plethora of hormonal benefits from testosterone helping us out! Unless you have extremely rare genetics you won’t be piling on slabs of muscle and look like Hulk Hogan.

Additionally, there are tons of factors that mitigate muscle growth: Training style (most importantly, muscle tension and training volume), diet, and hormones (as mentioned above.) Unless you are taking external testosterone, training with way too much volume, and consuming a ton of excess calories you won’t be getting bulky.

With that thought, I recommend all women do some sort of heavy training once per week. 
Try squats, deadlifts, bench presses, push presses, and rows for 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps with the heaviest weight you can safely do.

4.) There is no such thing as spot reduction

Men and women deposit fat differently. Men generally carry more body fat centralized around the abdomen whereas women carry more excess fat around the hips and thighs. For both genders, spot reduction is a popular topic. In most cases, body fat is lost evenly throughout the body. Therefore, in order to be leaner in a particular area fat loss needs to occur all over.
I find the best exercises for losing fat all over are done in a standing position, such as sprints and high intensity weighting, rather than a seated position like a stationary bike, or rowing machine.

5.) Women have a different weight distribution than men.

Because women carry more weight in their lower body they are generally relatively weaker in the upper body, but just as relatively strong in the lower body. In most cases it’s best to regress upper body exercises, such as a push up or pull up.  Rather than watching in horror as a female grinds out worm-ups, regressed the exercise by performing it with a barbell racked off the ground. Just because someone can’t do a full exercise…yet… doesn’t mean they shouldn’t perform any variation.

6.) Women have better stamina than men

Women can handle a higher training density– less rest between sets and a higher volume– than their male counterpart. This may be due to an overall decrease in relative strength. This factor allows women to train at a higher frequency with a higher density than men.

*Note: Training density (doing more in less time) is a huge variable for fat loss.   

7.) Women need more protein

I find most of my female clients drastically under-consume protein. Protein does three awesome things for your body: Protein can blunt your appetite to keep you fuller for longer, speed up your metabolism, and help you maintain your muscle (giving you that toned, dense look) while stripping off  unwanted fat. I tell my female clients to have protein with any carbohydrate source and shoot for their body weight in grams of protein. This would mean a 120 lb female consumes roughly 120 grams of protein per day.

Wrap Up

Okay, I’ve got to run, but I gathered a list of great sites and resources for you to check out. These are some of the best fitness sites for females looking to build awesome bodies. Fellas, you can take a look to and stop giving poor advice to women who ask you :).

http://www.soheefit.com

http://bretcontreras.com/strength-training-for-women/

http://www.jensinkler.com

http://www.negharfonooni.com

http://www.girlsgonestrong.com

http://www.cassandraforsythe.com

Let me know any questions you have and how you currently train!

Resources:

“Beautiful Crossfit Woman.” List 09. N.p., n. d. Web. 18 Sep. 2013. <http://www.list09.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/crossfit-girl-Laura-Plumley1.jpg>.

Romaniello, John . “Sexy Female Training.” Roman Fitness Systems. N.p., n. d. Web. 18 Sep. 2013. <http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com/blog/6-tips-for-building-a-sexy-female-body/>.

Schuler , Lou, Cassandra Forsythe, and Alwyn Cosgrove.The New Rules of Lifting For Women . New York City: Penguin Group, 2007. Print.

 

 

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. 

 

Specific Forms of Muscular Strength in Athletes- Explosive Strength

Different physical activities require different physiological capabilities. When looking from a sports performance aspect, the body will react positively to any new stimulus in the initial stages.

However, for future advances in strength and performance, adaption becomes much more specialized to the unique physiological demands of the sport. Depending upon the sport and level of mastery the need for specific forms of muscular strength becomes more apparent as the level of competition increases.

For example, as a high school football player a defensive tackle (A) has a full back squat max of 450 lbs, very respectable regardless of size.

This back squat represents maximum strength, or the athletes’ ability to exert maximal isometric muscular force without a time limit. This same athlete does a phenomenal job and is invited to an All Star game with other skilled High School athletes. When lining up and going head to head with another player, the same athlete faces an opponent (B) with a 400 maximum squat, but is much quicker at the snap of the ball. Although athlete A may display a greater maximum strength, as the level of competition increases so does the need for explosive strength, the ability to produce maximal force in a minimal time as displayed by player B.

Explosive strength is the ability to produce maximal force in minimal time. It is very important for the development of power.

Power (P) =Force (F) x Velocity (V)

Well, okay, I don’t play Football, so why do I care about explosive strength and power?

Explosive strength and power are very important to athletes who need to develop force in a short amount of time. This includes activities such as sprinting, cutting, juking, hitting, throwing, swinging, kicking, evading, hoping, and diving. Even at the end of a race a marathon runner sprints to the finish line and can greatly benefit from power training.

Explosive/power training allows for better recruitment of type II fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are built for high force activities, muscular hypertrophy, and allow better recruitment and control of muscles. Explosive training that activates type II muscle fibers is very beneficial for aging populations and the battle against sarcopenia (muscle loss).

How Can I incorporate explosive strength training/power training into my workouts?

Ideally, power training should be performed either before a strength session or as its own session completely. The biggest thing I preach to my athletes and clients is to lift everything explosively because if you are not generating the most muscular force and speed on a movement, you are not training that quality to its full extent. Warming up with the 45lb bar on your bench press? Cool, still perform each rep as if it were a max-out attempt.

Great tools to incorporate into your training after a warm up would be medicine ball throws, body weight plyometrics (jump variations, plyo push ups), Olympic lifts (find a qualified coach such as yours truly), and/or dynamic effort training days (power/strength movements w/20-60% 1RM) with maximal speed.

Training explosive strength is vitally important for athletes, but all populations can benefit. Whether you are trying to dunk a basketball, play a professional sport, or prevent muscle loss with aging, explosive strength training/power training should play a vital role in your fitness regimen.

 

Verkhoshansky, Yuri, and Mel Siff. SuperTraining. 6. Rome: Verkhoshansky, 2009. 19,107. Print.

Is your Training in a Rut?

Have your workouts as of late been lackluster? Do you lack motivation in the gym, always sore, and not making progress?

I have a big secret……. and it will keep you healthier and making gains year in, year out.

Are you ready?

Take a week off. Don’t come in and lift, don’t run and do sprints, don’t do bodyweight work, and don’t go for a 20 mile bike ride because you feel guilty.More than likely you are in some state of overtraining and need more time to recover. Before you think I have lost my mind let me explain this.

(This only applies if you have at least a year of solid training under your belt and are in pretty decent shape)

You should know your way around the gym and be able to move some decent weight and or be proficient at whatever task you are training for. I already recommend taking a week or two every two-three months and back off of your training by lowering your volume, intensity or both. unfortunately  wrists, elbows, knees, backs, and shoulders will still ache and the same nagging injuries will be hanging around. Muscles typically heal faster than the joints, tendons, and ligaments because of superior blood flow. Therefore even when a muscle feels healed from the constant beating workouts provide the joints, tendons, ligaments, and even the nervous system are not healed and need more time away.

After athletic seasons it is common for athletes to take a few weeks, even a month or so completely off from working out and training. In some comes cases, especially with wrestlers I have trained and my experiences playing football, this time leaves you mentally and physically rejuvenated. It’s not uncommon to add a few pounds of lean muscle and have more energy as a result.

Going pedal to the metal non-stop will lead to more injuries. Take period times away, cycle intense workouts with low intensity workouts, and occasionally take some time completely off.

Taking time off can be extremely difficult advice to take, but it works. Next time you are in a rut take time off, avoid the gym, and use the extra time to relax and recover.

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