According to Forbes, 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work. Between being overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated, it’s hard to not want to cut loose on vacation. The entire purpose of a vacation is to destress, decompress, and enjoy the good life for a while until you are forced kicking and screaming back into the real world. The problem is that many get completely wrapped up in the fantasy. They rarely lose sight of the stresses of the real world, but they lose sight of the goals they have set for themselves. To them, vacation means unrestricted eating, laying around, and too many adult beverages.
This is extremely counterproductive. More often than not, clients will come back and complain about the weight gain from their resent excursion. I’m not too concerned about this because the faster the weight goes on, the faster it comes off. What concerns me is the fact that the habits we created went out the window as soon as “vacation mode” set in. Out of sight, out of mind. This tells me that they still need an outside influence to keep them on track. I love being the source of motivation, but my end goal is to create self-motivation in all my clients. That’s why I created body weight programs they can take with them and train at their convenience. I also suggest staying active outside of the workouts. Walk around and take in the atmosphere. Play on the beach instead of laying around working on your tan. Take a moonlit walk with your significant other after dinner; the possibilities are endless.
Rabbit Hole: Often a client will come back from vacation and realize their work capacity has dropped and the workout that they would have enjoyed is now kicking their ass. They think I designed the workout as punishment when it was literally just the next workout in the program. Then while talking to them, they realize they did it to themselves. I just smile. While I do not have sympathy for self-destructive behavior, I understand what they are going through because I have been there myself. I smile because I remember the hell I put myself through to get back on track.
The second issue is diet. It’s easy to stray when there’s a change in schedule; not to mention travel often adds new restaurants and food variety. The good news is that most of these areas offer fresh indigenous foods as well. The mountains usually offer fresh steaks fresh water fish and other meats as well as local grown vegetables. The coastal areas will offer wild caught fish and other aquatic animals. It’s great to change the diet up to eat fresh local foods. The problem lies in eating the “come on, we’re on vacation” foods. I’ll let you in on a secret. Pizza Hut tastes the same everywhere. Ice cream tastes the same everywhere. Strawberry daiquiris taste the same everywhere. See a pattern? These are not vacation foods.
If you want to indulge a little on vacation, which you should, understand that what happens on vacation comes back with you. Your digestion, cardiovascular system, and metabolism do not get a vacation. It’s a twenty- four-hour, seven day a week job. The least you can do is make their job easier by giving them some down time. Want to cash in on an earned meal? (That’s right earned meal; not cheat meal. Put in the work first.) Go for it! Fast for a while after and get back on track that day. Do not say, “I’ll get back on track when I get home.” This is a lie! It’ll be, “I’m tired. Let’s just grab something quick and we’ll get back at it tomorrow, or the next day, or the following week.” It truly is a vicious cycle.
My favorite part about vacation is seven days of day drinking. That’s right! I will set on the beach with my wife and mix up some Jack and Cherry Coke Zero before lunch Sunday through Saturday, just because I can. (And no Mr. Lifeguard Dude, I don’t care if you allow glass on the beach. They don’t make plastic fifths.) How do I drink all day in the sun and stay hydrated you ask? I match one drink to one bottle of water and when I finally stumble back to the town house, I chug a couple more waters, and maybe a couple more Lemmys, before dinner. The sun and alcohol have an evil way of working together to rob the human body of hydration, so one must stay on top of the situation or risk hyperthermia or worst a day of vaca-wrecking hang over. Screw that Dos Equis guy. “Stay hydrated my friends.”
The last bit of advice is about the “car wreck.” There is no such thing as safe travel. Sitting is the new smoking and travel means you are chain smoking. The car, no matter how comfortable it may feel, will wreck the hips, back, and shoulders. The best course of action is to drive no longer than thirty minutes between stops, but that can easily turn a four-hour ride into five and a half hours. The second-best solution is to mobilize these problem areas upon arrival. (Mobility videos below) I personally deal with tight lats and pecs daily, so I look like a hunchback climbing out of the car after a long drive. If I do not mobilize my hips and shoulders afterwards I will stay tight for days after. That kinda goes along with the working out and staying active part doesn’t it………
In conclusion, stay active, watch what you eat, stay hydrated, and stay mobile. Basically, just remember that you’re on vacation from work, not life. Maintain the habits you have built into your lifestyle and you’ll be fine. What good is a one-week vacation if it sets your progress back for a month? It’s much easier to stay in shape than it is to get back in shape.
Picture of me instructing proper form on the Turkish Get Up. Full video: https://youtu.be/7sboAmiRHP0
To me, technique is the most important factor in resistance training. I cannot stand to see someone perform an exercise incorrectly. It shows that they have not put in the time to understand how or why they are doing that exercise. The how is important, but the why means so much more. It’s great to have an extensive database of exercises but understanding their individual purpose will greatly increase the way one can use them. It is easy to see the big muscles they are hitting, but what about the secondaries and stabilizers? Will it affect the cardiovascular system? Will it have a positive effect on the exercises planned last/next? Should it be high intensity to cook the athlete or low intensity to allow recovery? These questions are made in the assumption that their form is correct; what if the form is off? Their using different muscles than planned. The CNS is working overtime because the body cannot track a path for the exercise and breaking a bad habit is more time consuming than building a good one.
The other issue is the risk of injury. Resistance training should make you more resilient not more fragile. If you are getting injured in training, you are doing something wrong. I know what some people are thinking. “Well if your actually going hard, you can get injured with proper technique. Of course, you’ll never get hurt if you always go light.” Bullshit. If you are at the point in your lifting career to where you feel comfortable maxing out regularly, then you should know how to fail like a pro. You should know how to set safety bars and grab a spotter or ditch the weight if necessary. I have watched a lot of lifting competitions and shy of the Crossfit Games, I have rarely seen an injury in the Professional Brackets.
With all the connectivity we have these days, it is easy to look up exercises and make sure you have correct form. It’s not the end of the world, it just shows that no one knows everything. Never be afraid to learn something new. If you still need help, find a qualified fitness professional to talk to and have them go over your form in person. If you are a fitness professional, you have zero excuse for not increasing your knowledge on everything that could benefit your clients. Never have a client do any exercise that you haven’t done a thousand times before. You should be more than happy to breakdown every exercise piece by piece and explain why you chose those exercises in that order and how it fits their goals/limitation.
The mind is one of the greatest mysteries. It has the capability to make the entire body move in complete harmony, remember song lyrics from decades ago, network with other brains to solve complex problems, and design the most efficient hardware (the body) for its daily activities. While these are only a few of the insurmountable tasks that the brain performs, they are clear indications of its true power.
David Goggins is an extreme endurance athlete, former Navy SEAL, and previous title holder for the world record for pull ups in 24 hours. He famously said, “Most people quit at 40%.” Yeah you read that right, 40%. Why would anyone give less than a half ass effort when training for a goal? After many years of working with clients, I have to say that I agree with this statement 100%. In my experience 40% is where the suck sets in. 40% is when the body says play time is over, this feels like work and I don’t like it. 40% is where the body is losing efficiency and overload is creeping in. The muscles start to burn, the heart begins to pick up the pace, and the lungs expand more than usual. This is where the true training begins. This is where athletes find out what they are made of. This is where the grit begins to come out.
Grit is the single best training tool on the planet. No matter what goal, sport, or competition; grit can achieve it all. The problem: Grit cannot be bought or even taught. Some are born with it, some develop it, and some never find it at all. Unfortunately, the vast majority of individuals fall into the latter category; they never know that feeling of accomplishment knowing that they could not do anymore until they had to. Grit is the will to push beyond boundaries. Sounds simple right? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, just one more rep. It is that simple; until they hit the wall. That wall begins around 45%, in highly trained athletes that wall can be pushed back as far as 90%, when their body says its had enough and it wants to take a break. This is when the body checks out and the training becomes mental. This is my favorite part.
So, if you cannot teach grit, how can someone develop it? They develop it through training at an intensity that makes them completely uncomfortable. An intensity that they think they cannot physically maintain; that feeling like death is right around the corner. For newer clients, I use circuits to walk them up to the line and let them choose what weights they want to grind out. Once we have a baseline established, I choose the weights. I encourage them to go heavier, but lighter is not an option. “But what if they can’t do it?” Then they will know what it feels like to fail. Failure is a great tool for both learning and motivating. Often, success is achieved by failing forward. I cannot begin to count the reps I have failed throughout the years. From ditching a barbell off my back to jumping out from under a kettlebell, I have failed in some spectacular ways. If you have never failed a rep, then you have never pushed yourself. I guarantee that “failed” rep did more for me than the first couple reps combined.
*Example of a grit training session:
Usually halfway through the second round of a decent circuit (first round is just to warm-up and get familiar with the exercises) the body decides it doesn’t want to continue and the grunting starts. Now the training begins. End of the second round the weights hit the ground a little harder than the first round. The rest break is filled with labored breathing and light movement. The third round is a combination of grunts of colorful language mixed with forced exhalation. End of the third: the weights are dumped to the floor, grips are stretched and shaken out, negotiations are had to no avail, and silent preparation is made to survive the last round. As the last round starts, the weight feels heavier than before and that fire inside gets hotter. Halfway through the breath feels like exhaust forcing out incoherent vowels. The final rep is completed, and the euphoria sets in; its finally over. At this point, the athlete is akin to a feral animal until the heart rate slows and the sympathetic nervous system cools down and allows the human side to return. Keep in mind, this is a perfect example. Results may vary.
The same can be accomplished through resistance training as well, but the grit effect can only be reached with a seasoned lifter. A beginner cannot muster the will or neuromuscular connection to force the final reps. (for more on this check out True Strength Comes from Within Part 1: Real Core Power) This can be done with isolation exercises, but it works much faster in compound movements and should be performed during every set of a resistance exercise. A true set of ten reps should be performed with a weight that the athlete cannot do eleven times. Every set should push the athlete hard enough to require a rest break before starting another set. Again, sounds simple, but this is often overlooked. Out of a set of ten, the last five should be difficult and the last two should barely be completed.
When broken down it is easy to see where the quote, “weight training is (insert whatever high percentage here) mental and (insert whatever low percentage here) physical” comes from. The truth: it takes both. The mind and body must work together to accomplish anything. If the strength of a chain is measured by the weakest link, I want every link to be unbreakable. When training my athletes, I push both to the limit and make them hang out for a while. Rest and do it again I do not care if they fail or must take an extra break. I prefer either to them finishing the set without trouble. In the words of the great White Goodman (Founder of Globo Gym), “I like to break a mental sweat too.”
The act of training can be one of the most challenging endeavours in life. Whether it's weights, sports specific, or anything in between, you get out what you put in. The hardcore lifters say, “go as hard as possible. Every rep should be difficult, and the last rep should barely make it.” The functional guys mention, “Leaves a few reps in the tank. Every rep should be smooth, and you should never wear yourself out.” While the endurance guys are screaming, “KEEP MOVING! YOU HAVE TO GROW A TANK BEFORE YOUR CAN BURN IT OUT.” So, who should you believe?
The first step in any journey is setting the end goals. This is no different. If your goal is to gain muscle mass, the lifters are on par with their beliefs. Their mentality is to break down the muscle fibers, spike a hormonal response and eat until their body has no choice than to stack on the mass. If your goal is to be more functional for sports specific training or just to build a more resilient body, then the “leave a few in the tank” method will be your friend. This will enable you to train everyday and still have some steam left to focus on skill building for your sport. Endurance requires a little bit of everything. Most of the endurance training is bodyweight to light weight moved for thousands of reps such as jogging, hiking, swimming, and biking. These athletes would benefit from resistance training, but most are afraid of getting too bulky to lift heavy weights. They still perform gruelling training sessions, but it’s mainly on the body itself.
The difference between the them is recovery. Most of your training should be focused on your true reason for training. If you want to get big, then the weights are going to take you where you want to go. Train hard, recover, train hard again. If your goal is increasing performance for a sport, then most of your training will be skill building within the movements of the sport. If you kill every workout, then you will sacrifice the following skill building session due to lack of recovery. Team triathlon’s training is usually repetitive to the point of CNS bliss. The brain can go on cruise control, hence why your brain wonders off during a long run, and the recovery is solely on the muscles and joints.
What about those looking for fat loss? For these clients, I lean more towards the endurance athletes. The “keep moving” mentality will be vital for their goals. Whether we are talking about a long slow distance training session or a conditioning session, we want to take little breaks and continue the movement as much as possible. We also want to train as often as possible to force the body to adapt. We want an intensity that pushes the client, but also leaves them able to train the following day without issue. (For more on this subject check out Tiny T.i.M.: The Only Training Principle You Need to Lose Fat ) If we have a high intensity day, then we suggest they stick to walking or light jogging the next day. Either way, we want them moving and working every day. Like every training program, consistency is key; consistency is the only way to succeed.
No matter what the goal, body weight workouts are a crucial part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They are great at protecting the joints and increasing strength, speed, endurance, and synergistic movement. Most body weight workouts can be performed anywhere from a hotel room to out on the beach, so this eliminates the excuses to be lazy on vacations.
My favorite part of working without weights is the low impact on the central nervous system (CNS). This is will help to decrease recovery time and get an athlete ready for the next training session. This also means that body weight work can, and should, be performed everyday without risk of over training. This does not mean the muscles will not get sore (any type of overload, body weight or not, will cause soreness), but they will recover and build a tolerance more quickly than with weights. As always, the devil is in the dosage.
If the goal of the days training is to get in a great workout to progress towards a goal, push to the point of intensity as normal. Take a small break and do it again until the training is complete. If the goal is to recover for the next training session, then take the intensity down to 50% - 70% and increase the rest breaks. The goal is to feel energized after the workout instead of broken down.
20 Jumping Jacks
Optional: 30 - 90 second Plank
4-6 rounds with minimal breaks
As always, the reps can be changed to fit the individual need of the client. The listed rep scheme is just the baseline I give my clients to insure they are pushing themselves. Most people believe that bodyweight workouts are not valuable to experienced lifters. This is not the case; even with no weight, the rules of progressive overload stand firm.
Suggested reps: 8-16 each with planks from 30-90 secs
Basic Ass Kicker:
10 Lateral Lunges (each side)
20 Jumping Jacks
Repeat for 4-8 Rounds with as little rest as possible
Kettlebell flows are, without a doubt, my favorite way to workout. with proper programming, it hits everything! The kettlebell will fight the entire way with complete disregard for the gireviks' safety.
The best way to design a flow is to decide what muscles should be trained that day. Then choose whether to go heavy or heavier with the bell. After these decisions are made, the exercises should be sequenced in order of very difficult to difficult. Sometimes I work them from difficult to very difficult depending on the beating I think I can endure that day, but nothing should be easy.
These are a few of my favorite flows. I will be adding to the list periodically with some new flows and a any upgrades I can make to older flows.
Goblet Hold Reverse Lunges
Suggested Reps: 8-16 each
Lateral Lunge to Clean
Overhead Press to Reverse Lunge
Overhead Forward Lunge
Basic Double KB Flow:
Single Leg Deadlift
Double Clean to Press
Overhead Reverse Lunge
Suggested Reps: 6-12 each
Double Press/ Push Press
Suggested Reps: 6-12 each
Double Get-Up (Up)
Double Get-Up (Down)
Warrior 2 Flow:
Double Get-Up (Down) (Bottom Up Grip)
Alternate Bridge Press (Bottom Up Grip)
Double Get-Up (Up)
See Saw Press
Double Get-Up (Down) (Bottom Up Grip)
Bridge Press (Noob Grip)
Turkish Get Up (Up)
Single Side Swing
Single Side Clean
Offset Rack Squat
Offset Overhead Carry
Turkish Get Up (Down)
Do other side before rest
Single Bell Upper Flow:
Bent Over Row
45 Degree Press
Close Grip Push Up
The Kettlebell is a very versatile tool for all aspects of fitness. While most view the kettlebell as a mobility and conditioning tool, it can also be used for building functional (helping with everyday and sports related activities) and overall (assisting with barbell and strongman activities) strength and power. When it comes to the hip hinge, there is no better tool for strength and dynamic resistance. The same can be said for the functional squat, but the barbell cannot be beat when it comes to pure strength.
Here I cover many of the basics of the kettlebell training for both. Every one of these techniques can be used within any program from body weight to barbell. I usually mix and match modalities to build functional strength with every tool available. The benefit I have found in this is unconventional training is that my clients and I build strength and power throughout multiple planes and ranges of motion.
I will be updating this list (and others on my blog) as I add new videos to my YouTube channel every week. If you would like to view my videos before they are posted please Subscribe to my channel.
One of my favorite gym memories steams from a conversation I had with my first coach, TB. I worked with TB for my Teen Bodybuilding Competition in 2005. He was one of those old school bodybuilders that had no use for new techniques or equipment. He barely touched the machines and maintained the same training schedule for as long as I knew him. He was also a short mountain of muscle and a regular competitor in back in his heyday. We constantly talked trash and joked around while we were lifting. As usual we got on the topic of the Upper Body Gymrats that were lifting beside us. I asked, “So Coach, how many days a week can you do arms and chest?” He just laughed and said, “Apparently five or six!” He then followed up with, “International Chest day is Monday. International Leg Day is someday.” It’s only funny because it’s true.
Results of my switch to the Ketogenic diet: Pictures were taken 4 weeks apart. I maintained the same fitness routine for the full experiment. No diuretics or hormones were used to amplify results. No magical pills, powders, or stickers were used either.
The fitness industry is full of corruption and fraudulent people. I hate to even type those words because I love what I do and I love helping people, but that is also why I feel the need to write this. I have seen to many people run through every diet on the market and spend thousands of dollars on supplements, consultations, and diet plans only to see no progress. I’m sick of these individuals taking advantage of other’s health and insecurities to make money. I know I have a tendency to get long winded, but I’ll make this one short(er).
1. They Have Something to Sell
This is a big one! A great diet begins and ends with real food. Supplements are made to supplement your diet; not do it for you. If you must use their supplements for the diet to be “effective,” then it’s not effective in the first place. They don’t want to help you. They want to make money off you. I see this shit all the time. These “Coaches” are really just salesmen that are shown how to manipulate their customers with brightly colored marketing and false promises. Most have no background in fitness or nutrition and honestly most of them are still in the process of getting their diets on track. They don’t have any success stories from recent or current clients, but they have the perfect package for you to reach your goal in a ridiculous time frame! They have powders, pills, and stickers that will make the weight fall off in 60 days! How do they stay in business? They use the words “weight management” that way they have some legal wiggle room. Why would anyone buy this crap? Because most of the “Coaches” rely on their relationships to push the products. You probably have at least one “Coach” on your Facebook feed about to go live to tell you about their newest product or product promotion. Don’t fall into this trap. Google is your friend. Research a healthy diet that doesn’t require you to buy anything. Chances are that you can find some great recipes and maybe even a forum or Facebook group to join for free guidance. If you want to use supplements after fixing the issues in your diet, please do. Supplements are great for breaking plateaus and assisting progress, but you must have a healthy base before they can do anything for you. And please research your supplements as well. I use supplements, but I research everything. My daily supplements include CLA and fish oil for my joints and I take Glutamine, creatine, beef amino acids, and ZMA for recovery. All are completely natural and have zero side effects. Everything else I get from my diet.
2. They Offer Quick Results
The faster it comes off the faster it comes back. Most of these “diets” are caloric restrictions and can severely damage the metabolic system. This happens by dropping the calories so low that the body goes into starvation mode. You will lose weight, but most will be muscle leaving you feeling weak and very tired. This is what we see on the extreme weight loss TV shows. “The Biggest Loser” has a slew of horror stories from past contestants. Those trainers gave their clients everything from metabolic diseases to joint damage. Most put the weight back on shortly after returning home because the trainers did nothing to change their habits. They just brought them in, kicked their ass, and forgot about them as soon as they received their ratings. If you think for a second that those trainers knew what they were doing, you should get your brain examined. No self-respecting trainer would do that to a client. I tell every one of my clients the truth. There is no shortcut. Show up and put in the work. It’s not 80% diet and 20% training. It’s 100% diet and 100% training. That gets lasting results. You can’t work off 20 years of neglect in three months of dedication. I really wish it was that simple, but it’s not.
3. They Use Trigger Words Like Detox and Cleanse
These always push my Bullshit Detector into high alert. I love to ask these guys and gals the names of the toxins that their magical concoction is going to rid me of. I have yet to hear a good answer to this question. Detoxification can only be completed on a cellular level by an individual’s immune system. While there are herbs and food that can boost the immune system (such as cordyceps mushrooms) nothing is going to do the work for it. The immune system works through thermogenesis (big word for “heat creation”). This is why our body temperature increases during a systemic attack such as a cold or flu. The immune system is trying to supercharge itself for the battle. (Not the most technical way to explain it, but I’m not a doctor so you get what you get.) We could also go into the work of heat shock proteins, but you should know how to research using Google by now. Just save yourself some money and treat these words like drugs: Just Say No. The only “detox” or “cleanse” that truly works is water and exercise.
4. The Diet Plan is Not Sustainable for You
Everyone has different tastes and lifestyles. I have tried a lot of diets throughout my life just to get a feel for them. I usually try to run a diet for six weeks to see if they are worth the hype. Most fell flat, but a couple stood out to me. Some were great, but they just weren’t for me because they restricted a large amount of the foods that I like. The main one that stands out for me is the Vegetarian diet. I’ve never tried it because I eat a ton of meat, but I know some people that have seen great results from it. I know that meat protein had nothing to do with their crappy eating habits, but if it works keep on truckin’. I’m sure I’ll rant about that later. Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. My biggest goal is to enjoy life. I keep my diet on track, but I also find ways of working in the foods and drinks that I enjoy. I have been doing the Ketogenic Diet for a couple months now and I have seen amazing benefits from it. It is easily sustainable for me because my favorite foods are Keto friendly. As a personal rule, I do not push the Keto diet on my clients. I tell them about what works for me and if they are interested I help them anyway I can. The only food advice I give them is to replace process foods and sugar with natural foods and drink more water. I’m not trying to get them to convert to my ideology; I’m trying to help them find out what works best for them. This way they can make a healthy, sustainable diet for themselves and not resort to crash diets that do more harm than good. If you feel the need to cheat on your diet, then it’s not the right diet for you.
I know I stepped on a lot of toes with this one, but I stand behind every word. I have no problem debating any of this article with anyone who wants to say their piece. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please send me a message and I will do everything I can to get you the information you need.
Core training has been so diluted and bastardized that I honestly hate using the word “core.” It sounds like I’m about to run you through a 6-minute routine that requires leg warmers, headbands, and some horrible 80’s music in the background. I’d rather a play a game of grab ass with an alligator. The muscles of the core are just like every other muscle in the body. It has to have heavy resistance to increase strength. Just feeling the burn will get you nowhere. The exercises below will not be found in your local cardio class or any “quick six-pack” YouTube Video. Why? Because they hurt. They will push you far beyond any sit-up routine ever invented and they will require just as much mental strength as physical.
The RKC Plank, or Maximum Effort Plank, is a great starting exercise for anyone with a weak core. It forces the body to maintain alignment against gravity and its own weight. A good plank should be on the hands with the arms locked out, same position as the top of a push up, with the hands directly under the shoulders. The shoulders, hips, and heels are in a straight line. This exercise is designed to add a little extra pressure. I start on my elbows and try to flex every muscle in my body. I try to pull my elbow and feet together while squeezing my back and glutes as tight as possible. If done correctly, it should only be held for fifteen to thirty seconds max. If you feel that you can hold it longer, then you are not squeezing hard enough.
The Bent Over KB Row is performed by hinging at the hips, like the bottom of a KB swing position, and row the KB into the body. The elbows should be tucked tight to the body and slide right by the ribs. The back should stay flat. This is done by presenting a proud chest during the duration of the exercise.
The Zercher Squat is an advanced modification of the front squat. The barbell is held in the crook of the elbows and the back is forced into an upright posture during the entire movement. I squat down to a comfortable distance, or until the elbows touch the knees, and return to the standing position.
The Zercher Deadlift is a very advanced movement. It is also feared by most of the fitness industry, but those guys are just lazy. This is the second progression of the Zercher Squat in which I take the barbell all the way to the ground before returning to the standing position. Only perform this once you have mastered the Zercher Squat.
Another version of this is the Romanian Deadlift with the Zercher hold. The top position is the same, but this is a hip hinge instead of a squat. In the picture below is one of my Idols, Pavel Tsatsouline, performing this variation in the lab with Professor Stuart McGill. They are testing the muscle activation of the lower back during some of Pavel's favorite exercise. Pavel is performing this movement with 315 pounds at a body weight of about 165 pounds. I'm sure I just made a few "Fitness Experts" shit themselves, but it's only dangerous if you lose control or if you do not have a good base.
There are four main lifts in resistance training: Deadlift, Bench Press, Squat, and Overhead Press. Each of these are full body lifts when using a maximal weight; yes, even the bench press. So even though these are four completely different movement patterns, they all require core strength. The core ties the body together and stabilizes the spine to protect and to maintain a straight line of movement. When I look at the average lifter today, I see two main flaws that hinder their progression. The first is weak grips. It seems like everyone has a pair of lifting straps in their bag these days. What’s the point of moving heavy weights if you can’t hold on to them? The second is a very weak core. Introducing the weight belt! No core needed because this will hold your hips and ribs together. The human body has a built-in weight belt. It just needs to be trained.
*NERD WARNING* The main muscles I am referring to are the transverse abdominis, the internal oblique, and the multifidus. The transverse abdominis is the muscular sheath underneath the rectus abdominis aka the “six- pack muscles.” These are used to stabilized the mid-section from the pelvis to the thoracic spine. Internal obliques are attached to the rib cage and extend laterally down to the hips. They are responsible for compression of the rib cage and stabilization during rotation of the shoulders and hips. The multifidus are muscles that extend the entire length of the spine from the base of the skull to the sacrum. Another function of the multifidus is to protect the disks and vertebrae from shifting and slipping.
I know it that is a lot to take in, but the good news is that they can all be target together through resistance training. These muscles also work together to create internal pressure. Internal pressure is a must have for anyone wanting to be “strong like bull.” This is what separates the beasts from the wannabes. One sure fire way to tell what someone is made of is to see how they react under pressure. One of my favorite examples of this is the bench press to failure. I will load up the bar with a weight for a solid six to eight rep set (obviously weight will differ from client to client) and basically let them fail on the last rep. This will result in one of three actions.
The first is that they will push and grind the weight out. This means they are fighting to the end, engaging their hips and giving the press everything they have until the weight touches their chest again. These are the beasts. These are the ones who truly know how to push themselves and fail like a professional. The second bunch are the funny ones. These guys will throw a tantrum. They will pant and kick their feet like a three-year-old wanting a cookie. They know how to create internal pressure, but they have no idea how to control or focus it into power. One way to break this habit is to do slow reps with overhead press or front-loaded squats. If they are standing, they cannot throw a tantrum; they must work with the force. The third group will just give up and let the weight drop. Usually they will say, “I don’t have it” or, “I can’t do it.” This means the they are not even trying. If they were giving it everything they had, they would not be able to talk because the intraabdominal and intrathoracic pressure would be too high to maintain control of the diaphragm. This is where the guttural yell comes from. I suggest heavy loaded carries and high rep Goblet squats for this group because they need to spend more time under tension and learn how to build internal pressure.
I don’t care how many crunches you can knock out in a day; if you don’t move heavy weight, you have a weak core. This is one reason I hate doing ab work. It’s great for the beach, but it serves no real-world application and it doesn’t build strength. If you want true core strength you must stay under pressure. Powerlifters are notorious for having large midsections or “power bellies.” They don’t care about shredding down and looking good. They care about moving weight. You can also see this in the good ‘ol boys that throw hay and wrestle cattle for a living. They look chubby, but they can also sling a ninety-pound bail up into a twelve-foot barn loft all day long. This could be done with any of the four main lifts, but there are some great ways to target these muscles that can be worked into every workout.
Be sure to check out True Strength Comes from Within Part 2: Real Core Training
“Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders.” – Tom Peters
Last week we covered how motivation comes in many forms. Getting help from an experienced professional can build on that dedication and motivation. When I started going to the gym, one of my goals was to learn as much about muscle hypertrophy as possible. I had a ton of books on exercise and diet, but it’s hard to learn physical action through pictures. Luckily, I made friends at the gym quickly and after a couple weeks, I had a regular training partner nicknamed Stout. Stout was about 200 pounds and could move some serious weight. I figured if I hung around long enough I could learn from him. Turns out, he had a deep understanding of anatomy and was very open to teaching me about resistance training. He taught me the basics on isolating muscle for increased focus and thousands of exercises for every muscle group. We would hang out in the gym for hours going over techniques and talking about programs. He was with me every step of the way and kept me on track when I wanted to quit. He set the bar for me and showed me how tentative a trainer and coach should be.
I owe a lot to Stout for teaching me about fitness, but I still had some questions. The world of health and fitness is so vast that no one knows everything. It’s kind of like Jiu-Jitsu in that way; the more you learn, the more questions you have. Therefore, I continually read books, articles, and forums on various lifts and programs. I have been studying this topic for about half my life and I am nowhere near done. Even the Fitness Gurus I follow online have different views on many training strategies. I trust these guys as well, but I prefer to research the topic and form my own opinion on most topics. I also like to play with new exercises and modify them to fit my training style and programs for maximum efficiency.
I started this journey, just like many before me, with very little knowledge. I knew I needed help to accomplish my goals and I had an idea of where to find it. I ran into a couple challenges along the way to my goal, but I modified the plan and kept moving forward. (I didn’t care because I love a good challenge.) And some of my goals changed along the way. I no longer plan to be 250 pounds of muscle because I would not be able to move the same way that I can at 180 pounds. That doesn’t mean that I gave up on that goal. It means that I learned more about myself and discovered what my priorities truly are.
Self-discovery is goal that many people search for. There are countless books and workshops about finding your “True Self.” I stumbled upon it almost accidentally. I kind of knew I was looking for it, but I never really figured out that I found it until I reflected on past decisions. It’s like when you lose your phone, then you realize it has been in your hand the whole time. You never say anything, but in your head, you think, “Damn I’m a dumbass, it was right there the whole time.” Yeah… That was my road to mindfulness.
One of the main factors of goal progression is motivation. Motivation is what gets the ball rolling and keeps the snowball effect going. On the days I didn’t feel like training, I would watch or listen to clips of Arnold, while my preworkout kicked in, to get me stoked up for the hell I was about to endure. Like most lifters, he was a huge motivating force for me. It didn’t matter how bad my day was or how tired I was; when he started talking about training it made me want to give every rep one hundred percent. I would finish those workouts completely exhausted. And often, those were my best workouts. Every time I was in the gym, I was in front of a mirror because I was motivated by my small frame to keep going through the pain and fatigue. I don’t care what any self-help guru wannabe says; hatred is a great motivator. Motivation comes in many forms, it can be a quote, a video, encouraging words from a friend, or a warning from a doctor. Literally anything one uses to help push through hurdles. The only thing that outweighs motivation is discipline.
Discipline is what separates the weak from the strong. This is what makes dreams come true. I started lifting when I was 16 years old and 120 pounds. I hated being small and I hated being weak. I wanted to look like the heroes in the action movies. So, I got to work. I made myself go to the gym as often as possible. I pushed to failure on every set and increased weight every chance I could. I first saw a drastic increase in my strength. This was way before I saw an increase on the scale. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but I knew it was a step in the right direction and my gains shouldn’t be far away. This is what pushed me from motivated to determined. It pushed me to build the body I wanted. When my hard work began to pay off I developed self-confidence. I developed a drive that told me I could do anything. That’s why I became a trainer. That’s why I am working on my second fitness book. That’s why I care about my clients. That internal motivation I had to change my body was so strong that it ended up changing my life.
The new self-help flock says that motivation is useless. Discipline is the only way to get anything done. This is complete bullshit. I have been disciplined to work out five or more days a week for at least the past fourteen years. I have had the opportunity to work out any time of day for as long as I want for the past year and a half. I spend about fifteen hours a day inside the best gym I have ever seen. But sometimes, I don’t want to get off the couch. (Literally. We have a big comfy couch in the breakroom/my office.) Some days I have to shoot a scoop of Demon Juice and watch an Arnold video force myself to be productive. If all else fails I go tell Mr. Goodwin that I’m too tired to train and he calls me names until I feel the need to lift. Even a kick in the ass is forward progress.
Be sure to check out Goal Setting Part 3: Get Help
The lower back is the single most neglected muscle group on the body. Most gym-goers only like to work the muscles they can see in the mirror and do not care about performance. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look great at the pool without being an athlete. The problem with this mentality is that roughly 80% of Americans have suffered or will suffer some form of lower back pain in their life. The main reason for this is the sedentary lifestyle of Americans. Another is the increase in seated computer jobs, but it can also be linked all the way back to grade school where students are forced to sit at a desk for 7 hours a day.
There are several causative factors that greatly attribute to lower back pain. These factors include structural deficiencies, core weakness, and tightness of the posterior chain muscles. Structural deficiencies can be caused by either traumatic or passive injuries. With traumatic injuries, we think of things like a car crash or being tackled in football. With the lower back being the stopping point for the midbody hinge; it absorbs most of the impact in these situations. Generally with these types of injuries, one is aware that there may be an injury because there is often soreness and/or pain. To truly understand what is going on with your body, we need to understand that the pelvis is the entire foundation for your spine. If for some reason the pelvis was to become uneven or twisted, even the slightest bit, it would impact the spine resting upon it, because the spine then has to try and compensate for any unevenness exhibited by the pelvis.
A structural change to the pelvis can occur naturally if the muscles that attach to it on both sides are unequal in strength and tonicity. Just like you have a dominant arm that is stronger than the other arm, you also have a dominant leg that is stronger. With time or exercise the stronger muscles in your dominant leg pull harder on the bones of your pelvis than the muscles of your weaker leg can resist. Eventually these muscles can cause the pelvis to elevate or twist on one side. At this point the entire structure of your spine but most significantly in the lumbar spine has been compromised.
(On the left is a normal spine in proper alignment with an even pelvis. On the right, we have a pelvis that is slightly higher on the right side and we can see the difference that is produced in the spine’s alignment between the green and red lines.)
Other more passive factors could include compression injuries such as sitting for long periods of time. New studies are coming out every day saying, “Sitting is the new smoking.” With a huge upswing in computer related jobs, more and more people find themselves having to spend extended amounts of time sitting at a desk. One of the biggest taboos for the low back that most men are guilty of, is sitting on a wallet. Repeated sitting for extended amounts of time on your wallet on the same side will almost certainly cause your pelvis to become uneven. This can lead to structural deficiencies in your pelvis and lumbar spine.
The next issue is weakness of the midsection. The muscles of the lower back work to stabilize the spine and assist in posture support and lifting items from the floor. When picking up heavy objects, the legs should be used as the major movers by squatting down and keeping the back straight. If the midsection is weak the spine will hold the load instead of the muscles. This can cause compression and torquing injuries.
While these issues are common among people with a sedentary lifestyle, they do not need to lead to chronic conditions. I see clients from all walks of life on a daily basis. Those that maintain an active lifestyle are the ones who rarely complain of lower back pain. These individuals’ workout a couple days a week and maintain hobbies that keep them moving. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines suggest performing a cardiovascular activity for 30 minutes at least 3 days a week. This could be hiking, playing with the kids in the yard, swimming, etc. Simply taking a walk can greatly reduce lower back pain in most cases. Once the pain is lessened, the next step is to protect the body from future pain. To do this we need to loosen up the posterior muscle chain with some stretches and strengthen the lower midsection with resistance training.
The best exercises to build the lower back are hip hinges and stability exercises.
The Hip Bridge is a great low intensity exercise to build the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. This is performed by lying supine with feet flat on the floor and lifting and lowering the hips.
The Roman Deadlift (RDL) is also a hip hinge that can be low or high intensity depending on the load (weight) and depth used during the exercise. Begin the RDL standing up right, then lower your weight forward bending at the hips with a slight bend in the knees. Squeeze the shoulder blades together throughout the movement to resist slouching of the upper spine. This can be performed with no load until the full range of motion can be established. Always lower to a comfortable depth that can be reached with no pain
Tightness of the posterior chain muscles pull the hips into a posterior tilt. This pushes the hips forward and pulls the glutes under the body making the lumbar curvature straighten. When the lumbar curvature straightens the shoulders tend to slump forward to balance during walking and create poor posture throughout the entire body. This is a common result of repeatedly sitting for long durations. Tightest of the piriformis muscle could also cause discomfort and is one of the leading causes of pain associated with the sciatic nerve. This muscle is commonly worked and stretched with the glutes, but there are some stretches used to lengthen the piriformis specifically.
This is apparent in students and office/desk workers, but also in individuals who have long commutes and binge watch television. This is not always a quick fix, but stretching and increasing activity will help to relieve the tension. The best stretches for the hamstrings put the body into hip flexion. Always stay within a comfortable range while stretching, and remember a stretch should not cause pain.
In most cases lumbar pain can act as a double-edged sword. Inactivity will cause the pain and the pain will lead to more inactivity. The only way to break the cycle is to be active in your own recovery. With the help of a qualified team, you can get your life and mobility back. The team starts with identifying the problem with a healthcare professional, such as a chiropractic physician. Your Chiropractor will be able to check for any pelvic unevenness or any other subluxation or alignment issues. Then locating a qualified fitness professional to strengthen or loosen the area (depending on situation) is essential, and finishing with self-motivation to experience life to the fullest.
For more information on this or other fitness related topics visit my blog at
http://www.originalworkout.net/daniels-blog. Feel free to contact me via phone or email to schedule a consultation or training session.
Daniel Fredell Dr. William Davis
ACSM Certified Fitness Professional Active People Chiropractic
Danielfredell@yahoo.com 325 1st Ave SW Hickory, NC 28601
Many things in life are made to be cherished and appreciated. Some are made to be enjoyed for a short time like a nice meal with friends or an exotic vacation; some are made to last forever like a magnificent idea or a sturdy kettlebell. Some are made for the sole purpose of being destroyed. To me, this is what makes life worth living. I love food, vacations, ideas, and God knows the kettlebell has a special place in my heart, but what really makes me feel alive is setting up goals only to knock them down and replace them with new ones. The best part about pushing yourself to accomplish the unthinkable is doing it again. One goal down, one more to go. One more down, one more to go. Forever.
Goals are usually thought of as being the finish line, but often they become the new starting point. As soon as a client achieves their goal (whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, increase in athletic performance, etc.) they realize two things. The first is that it was not as hard as they thought it would be and the second is that they aren’t quite done. There’s always another goal waiting in the back of their mind that used to be on the fringe of hopes and dreams that seemed too far out of reach. Once the first goal is smashed, those fringe thoughts seem right around the corner. Now is the time to set up another target.
Therefore, we like to break goals down into the categories of long-term goals and short-term goals. The long-term goal should be the perceived “finish line” and the short-term goals are the “check points” to keep you moving in the right direction. This approach can be used for any goal. Using myself as an example, I recently decided to compete in the Strong First Tactical Strength Challenge in October. The TSC is my “Final” goal because that will be the accumulation of my training. Everything I have trained for will come to fruition by the day of the competition. My short-term goals will keep my strength and endurance growing until that day.
For specifics on the Strong First TSC check out:
I planned these out into blocks of my training schedule. These blocks are my way of staying on course, but I may change them up if I feel my progression slipping in another area. For example, let’s say that the plan for the week is to focus on my pull-ups, but I feel that I really need to add focus to my deadlift. The periodization is fluid so that I can make adjustments and remain on track for the challenge as a whole. In this example the short-term will change, but the long-term is still in sight. This could also be used to work around injuries, or days of extreme soreness. These small tweaks can be beneficial, but do not get to carried away with them. It is easy to go from minor modifications to program hopping. This can be very detrimental to training because there is no strategy in place. When in doubt, I can always go back to the original plan to make sure that the change will be a good fit. This is my way of getting back on track as soon as possible. If I am modifying to work around an injury, I’m not afraid of taking a step back as long as it gives me the opportunity to take multiple steps forward without risking time off.
Be sure to check out Goal Setting Part 2: Stay Motivated
Sport: Cyclocross; Ultra-Running;
Rank: Cat 3: Cyclocross, Road and MTB Racer
License: USA Cycling
Years Riding: 15
Years Racing: 10
Hometown: Lenoir NC
Series: NCCX, Appalachian Grinder, NC Road Racing
Team: Fiets Mann Racing
Why Race: Love riding my bike, love the competition. Cross is it!
Most Exciting Season: 2016 Lead the NC series for the season
Ended up 5th overall for the season earning a Cat 3 upgrade. Raced Nationals in Asheville finishing 41st.
Hobbies: Outdoors, fitness, Ultra Running
Interview with Jonathan hogan
Today we’re sitting down with the man, the legend, Mr. Jon Hogan. He had a great season last year in The NC Series and finished out in 5th place in Cyclocross Overall. He is an avid runner/ hiker and all-around fitness enthusiast. He is using the Ketogenic Diet to become more efficient on and off of the bike by dropping some weight and increasing muscular power and endurance.
Cyclocross is one of those sports that are kind of on the fringe as far as endurance sports go and not that well known by the casual viewer. Can you explain a little bit about what the sport in tells?
So CX or Cross as we call it is similar to motocross without the moto. Instead we ride a bike similar to a road bike with a little different geometry and a little larger off-road tire. Pre-Season generally begins in September here, but CX is really a fall/winter sport with our regular season kicking off in October and ending late January. So rain, cold and even snow are the primary expectation. My race is 45 minutes, which is basically 45 min in the red zone from the whistle. We complete multiple laps on a loop course generally 1.5-2 miles. The course setup is never the same but always insane as it tends to offer something for everyone. Most courses consist of grass, gravel, mud, sand, logs, rocks, wooded sections, steep climbs, technical sections and let's not forget the Barriers. The thing about CX is that sometimes you have to dismount your whip at speed to run up hills that aren't rideable or to hop over logs and the barriers while also being prepared to remount at speed. CX is most definitely a spectator sport as there is always food, music and beer and the open course allows you to see it all, the mud, blood and epic crashes. Heckling is encouraged!
What are some training strategies you have used in the past to gain an edge on the competition?
As I mentioned before CX requires you to run. I love running ,while many cyclist don't, I run year round spending more time on the trails hopping roots, rocks and short steep climbs. This combined with a thorough strength and power training program with my coach (Rob Goodwin) has allowed me to over power the competition numerous times.
Which resistance training program works best with your skill training? Do you schedule recovery time between the two?
We do it all, the early part of my year we focus on strength and power with heavy weight workouts. As the year progress we start to add in more plyo and conditioning. Usually around July the heavy weights are traded in for a TRX strap and the conditioning and met-con training replace my strength sessions. I usually lift 3 days a week Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays are a mix of road riding, MTB (handling skills), and running. Sunday is generally my rest day but I've learned to listen better to my body, so I will take a day if I need to.
With your sport being on foot or on bike, do you feel the need to work any mobility work into your routine?
Absolutely, most of my workouts after July are geared more towards mobility and intensity. I usually end each day after with a 15 to 20 minute stretch/yoga session and a foam roller.
You’ve been riding for a long time now; how do you avoid injuries and what are some tips you would give anyone wanting to get started in Cyclocross?
First, I owe a lot to Rob and his programming. If it weren't for the strength sessions I think I would still be just a recreational cyclist. There is nothing at all wrong with that, but if you are going to be competitive my advice would be call a trainer and get to lifting. Your knees, quads, back, core, calves and feet will thank you for it! Secondly a good nutritional diet. Although the races are short you generally race 2 to 3 races a weekend, so it takes a toll on your body. Fueling with garbage (sugars and carbs) is gonna leave you empty. Maintaining a steady diet of lean protein, healthy fat, and greens is important! Last but not least, learn how to crash gracefully because it's gonna happen more than once. If it doesn't your not tying hard enough!
What benefits have you experienced after switching to the Keto diet?
Keto has been a life saver for me. I used to follow the old cycling way of carb loading on pastas and sugars which always left me feeling slow and sick; only having short energy spikes until the inevitable bonk. I never had the gas to close the deal. Keto has allowed me to shed excess fat throughout the season but more importantly I feel strong throughout my races. My heart rate threshold has increased as well as my endurance allowing me to push harder when closing gaps or making attacks throughout the race. With multiple races each week I feel that my recovery time has decreased majorly allowing me to race harder on day 2 and never leaving me exhausted. I just feel leaner, stronger and healthier overall.
Did you notice any drawbacks such as loss in strength or power?
Actually, I feel the complete opposite my strength sessions are better each week as well as my power. I can push heavier weight as needed and the last set or round in generally my best. I'm not one for blowing smoke, but I feel the strongest I ever have. Just trying to get my cycling legs to comeback around!
Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience about either Cyclocross or your self?
If you've never been to a race I encourage you to check one out! Our team hosts a race in October in Lenoir. Come out have a beer some BBQ and enjoy the show! Other than that.......keep the rubber side down!
Sport: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; Submission Grappling
Weight: 120 lbs.
Weight Class: Feather Weight; Light Feather Weight
Gi Rank: Blue Belt
NewBreed 5/16: Gi and Nogi Champion (White Belt / Beginner)
NAGA 11/16: Gi and Nogi Champion (Blue Belt/ Advanced)
NewBreed 1/17: Gi and Nogi Champion (Blue Belt/ Advanced)
Toro Cup 7 6/17: Feather Weight Winner (via Baseball Choke)
Hobbies: Dog Training; Hiking; Outdoorsy Stuff
Goofing around at fenix jiu-jitsu
Interview with summer carpenter
We’re here with local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prodigy, Summer Carpenter. She is a Renzo Gracie Blue Belt out of Fénix Jiu-Jitsu. She is very early in her career as a grappler, but already she has a pretty impressive resume. She has competed on the local circuit, including Newbreed, NAGA, and won her first Superfight at Toro BJJ. She has finished every opponent by submission without a single loss.
How did you originally find out about Jiu-Jitsu and what attracted you to it in the beginning?
A friend of mine from high school, Alexis Bolick, introduced me to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I immediately fell in love with it. It didn’t take me long at all to be completely hooked and starting training a couple times a week. I loved how close everyone at the gym was and I knew from the start that this was going to be something that may very well save my life someday. I knew I needed it.
Were you very active in sports as a kid?
Funny enough, I was not athletic AT ALL growing up. I dabbled in gymnastics, dance and swimming as a young child but never stuck to anything for longer than a year. I kept to myself and my small group of friends in high school. I never cared for sports since I never found anything that really stuck with me. Until now!
Do you feel that Jiu-Jitsu has affected your life off the mats?
It absolutely has. Jiu Jitsu, at times, makes my life a little bit chaotic since I have a busy life outside of training. I try to train 4 times a week, at the bare minimum. Even though fitting in mat time can cause some stress to my schedule, the work I put in is always worth it. At the end of the day it has erased all of my stress and gives me the motivation to keep on pushing.
Jiu-Jitsu practitioners always talk about the comradery that comes with Jiu-Jitsu, why do you think this art creates such strong bonds?
I’ve always said that the people that stick with Jiu jitsu are a special breed of human. This sport isn’t for everyone. However, those that stick with it, do so because they find immense passion in what they do. To be able to share that passion with an entire group of people, is a very special thing. You can’t get through this sport without making the very best friends you will ever find in this life.
You have won Gold in every competition event you have entered by submitting every opponent. What goes through your mind before you step up to compete?
I have absolutely fallen in love with competing because of how much it tests not only your skill but your character as well. The weeks and days leading up to a competition are always filled with anticipation for me. But when its time to step onto the mats, it immediately disappears. I get so excited to meet new people, especially the women I compete against. Competing has helped me see my strengths clearly while also showing me the holes in my game.
Is that the same as every other training session or do you change gears while in the gym?
Competing is in a different gear than my regular training. If I am not training for a competition, I focus on the fun stuff and just enjoying the time I have with my friends. I often forget the “sport” game that you must play when competing. If I am doing my regular training at the gym, I make it all about enjoying what I do and forget about the rest!
Team Renzo has set some very high standards as being one of the top teams on the planet. How far do you plan to take your grappling career?
I will become a world champion one day. I say that because I know I am capable of anything I set my mind to. My dream is to be able to open my own academy years down the road, as I continue to pursue gold metals.
Fénix is known as an academy that allows all submission from white belts and up. As a Fénix student, is it difficult to dial back your game plan to meet restrictive Blue Belt competition rules?
I thought it would be when I began competing, especially in No Gi grappling, but I haven’t had any issues with it so far. I am big fan of leg locks (of course) and I am really excited about pursuing submission only tournaments that have an all-submission legal rule set.
I’m not going to go into the “as a woman in Jiu-Jitsu” thing because you clearly stand out no matter what, but do you think that it is advantageous to have multiple female training partners or do you tend to train with males for competition preparation?
I love the ladies at Fenix that I get to train with. They always push me to better my game while giving me amazing support. If I am training for a competition, I definitely seek out the ladies because they are the closest ones to my size range. There are several smaller, quick guys at our gym that I seek out to help really give me a challenge. I will train hard with the bigger guys to give me a “training with weights on” sort of affect. Going from them to a small opponent is always beneficial to my game.
Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience?
As always, I want to stress what an amazing martial art Brazilian Jiu Jitsu truly is. I love the sport aspect of it, it’s fun and gives me an incredible way of staying in shape. But at the end of the day, this is what is going to possibly save your life. It is perfect for literally everyone. We have every age group and size imaginable at Fenix Jiu Jitsu, it is suitable for everyone and I highly recommend it!
It is very important to monitor your client’s heart rate during fitness testing and sometimes during their workout. During a fitness test, you are pushing your client to perform at their highest possible level. In the clinical setting, this may be the first time they have ever physically pushed themselves and it is vital to their safety that their heart rate is monitored at all times before, during, and after the test. In the gym, their heart rate can tell you how conditioned they already are and assist you in knowing where their intensity is or should be while training. Knowing their resting heart rate (RHR) and maximum heart rate (MHR) is good, but knowing how to find their heart rate reserve (HHR) and target heart rate (THR) will greatly improve the quality and safety of their workout.
A person’s resting heart rate will give you a decent idea of where they are at physically. Normal resting heart rate is between 60 to 100 beats per minute. A lower resting heart rate is thought to show a higher fitness level and stronger cardiovascular system if there are no under lying medical conditions such as bradycardia. An elite athlete could have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute and be in optimal health. If the resting heart rate is over 100 beats per minute, this is considered as tachycardia, then the person is at a lower cardiovascular conditioned level. This is very important to know before testing or working out because resting heart rate will give a base line to use for monitoring and to gauge recovery time.
Maximum heart rate is defined as the highest heart rate an individual can achieve under stress (testing or working out) without causing severe harm to their cardiovascular system. Knowing this will assist fitness professionals figure out where their clients target heart rate range should be for various goals whether is to lose weight, improve aerobic conditioning, or build their anaerobic threshold. The most common way to find an individual’s max heart rate is 220 – age. I am 25, so this means that my max heart rate is around 195 (220-25=195). Keep in mind that while this is a highly-used means for determining a max heart rate, it may not always be correct due to some individuals being highly trained, or highly sedentary, but it is a very good estimate none the less.
Heart rate reserve is the difference between the resting heart rate (RHR) and the max heart rate (MHR). This is used to find an individual’s target heart rate for different modalities of training. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) moderate intensity is classified as 40% - 60% of you heart rate reserve and vigorous intensity is greater than 60% HHR. Using myself as an example again, My MHR is 195 and my current resting heart rate is 60 beats per minute. Using the equation 195 – 60 = 135 (MHR-RHR=HRR), my heart rate reserve is 135. After finding my HRR, I can now begin to find my target heart rate zones by using the percentages and add them back to my RHR. For moderate activity, I want my heart rate to be between 40% and 60%, so I will use the equation: 135 x 0.4 = 54 (HRR x 40%) and add the 54 back to my RHR of 60 to find my lower range of moderate activity of 114 beats per minute. Using the same equation, I will now find 60% of my HHR (HRR x 60%) which is 81. Adding that to my RHR gives me 141. This means that my target heart rate range for moderate activity is 114-141 beats per minute. To find my THR range for vigorous exercise will be between 60% and 100% of my HHR, which gives me a range of 141-195 beats per minute. These can be broken down even further for exercise implications. The “fat burning zone” is widely known as being 60% - 70% of HRR, 141-155 for me. 70% -80% is considered the aerobic training zone (using oxygen freely, such as running or swimming) which would be 155-168 in my case. And the range for anaerobic activity (not getting an adequate oxygen supply, such as resistance training) is 80% - 90% HRR, again in my case 168-182.
Heart rate monitors are great tools for fitness testing and every day workouts, but the tool is only good as the person wielding it. These equations are very simple to use and not only make a huge impact on any training regimen, whether in the gym or hospital setting, but also helps to keep professionals informed on how well their client is doing from a safety stand point.
Many of my clients have spoke about intimidation as the main reason for postponing their health. This could come from the environment of the gym or it could be from the idea of the long road ahead of them. The physical task of exercise, however, seemed to be pretty low on the list. This came as somewhat of a shock to me. I have never felt intimidated by the gym nor the path ahead because I started at a young age and knew that I was not where I wanted to be. I've always felt comfortable because I began training with friends who had similar goals. This was a great environment for a beginner. Unfortunately, not everyone has this opportunity.
One of the best ways to begin any journey is to find a guide. The best guide for this particular journey is a Fitness Professional. This could be a Personal Trainer or Group Instructor, depending on your training preference. Any CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) worth their weight (look for upcoming article on this topic) knows the best ways to ramp up your progress while reducing recovery and injury. They will also make your training more effective by designing a program to fast track your progress from where you are to where you want to be. Not just some cookie cutter fitness magazine’s workout of the week that makes false claims with catchy titles.
One common misconception for beginners is that they had a great workout because they were tired after the session and sore the next day. This means nothing. Read that again. It's easy to wear the muscles out. But how does it match up with the preset goals? Is it going to enhance and energize the next workout? Or will it simply cause fatigue to the point of increasing sedentary behavior for the next couple of days?
Meet Bob. Bob wants to lose weight because his doctor told him he is obese. Bob decides to workout. Bob goes to the local “no judgement zone” and gets a membership. Bob sees how busy the gym is and decides to get on whatever machine is open. This leads to some cardio, calf raises, some machine with a weird push back, pull down thingy that he is not sure he is performing right, and takes some advice from a guy doing curls with a lifting belt. Bob feels accomplished. So accomplished, in fact that he grabs a slice of pizza on his way out of the door. Yes I said on his way out of the door. Some “fitness facilities” offer their clients pizza. Anyways, Bob wakes up the next day not being able to walk from lack of ankle mobility, intense leg pain, and some lumbar and hip pain from the weird thingy. Bob decides to lay around for the next week barely moving and plans to never go back to the gym. Bob did not meet his goals. Don’t be like Bob.
Avoiding these possible repercussions will be second nature to a CPT. Programming is the most important key to any successful routine. As always, nutrition plays a huge role in fitness no matter the goal. Most CPTs will also be able to suggest healthy eating habits to compliment the training program. When deciding on a trainer and a gym, ask every question you may have to ensure they are the best fitting for your goals and personality. If you prefer a certain type of trainer (i.e. male or female, older or younger, laid back or more intense) ask if they have options. It is also a great idea to check out their website to see if they have trainer profiles or blogs so that you can get a feel for their different styles and knowledge. You may also want to ask if they offer protein bars or shakes for post workout nutrition to save some time and extra trips to Vitamin Shoppe after every workout.
What should I focus on if I do not want to workout with a trainer? The first piece of advice would be to start slow. If your body is not accustomed to exercise, you will probably be sore the next day whether you feel tired after the workout or not. This is usually not a big deal, but could cause issues if you have a physically demanding job. This could also lead to overuse injuries such as tendinitis or muscle strains/pulls. I would also highly suggest researching some fitness websites and trainer blogs to get some information on beginner programs to increase success. Another issue to be aware of is caloric intake. You should not cut your calories while starting a exercise routine. This should be worked in later after your body begins to adapt to the extra work. Your body will need extra calories to recover from the exercise. Eat more to do more.
Lastly, work on active recovery. This means stretching, staying hydrated, and mobilizing joints. Exercise stresses the body and recovery is where the magic happens. For more on active recovery check out my article – Active Recovery @ http://www.originalworkout.net/daniels-blog/active-rest .
The warm-up is the most overlooked stage in fitness. Very few athletes take the time to prepare themselves for the damage they are about to inflict and then wonder why they have lingering injuries and trigger spots in their range of motion. The purpose of a warm-up is to lubricate the joints, increase body temperature, increase heart rate, loosen up the tendons and ligaments, and focus the mind. All of these benefits can easily be achieved in a five to ten minute routine (depending in the intensity of the training that day).
I am personally guilty of this as well. Sometimes I try to get in a quick workout in between clients so I used to skip the warm-up and jump straight into training. After doing this a couple times I began to feel small aches and pains throughout various joints. Through training, Jiu-Jitsu, and working out as often as possible, I have a tendency to red line my system throughout the week, so I did not allow this to become a habit. I decided to put more attention on the warm-up and less on the workout. Instead of thirty minutes of work, I put in a ten minute warm-up and twenty minutes of work. If you have ever trained with me you'll know that I love kettlebell circuits. They are the perfect little soul crushers for the busy professional. I say soul crusher because a 20kg kettlebell will make you want to curl up in the fetal position very quickly. Their small, but damn their mean. This is what I used for my experiment.
I quickly found that I was able to get in a great workout in a shorter time frame. The biggest difference was that my recovery between rounds was cut almost in half and I did not feel as sluggish. I was also pleased to find that my heart rate maintained a level pattern from one exercise to he next. This is a big plus because heart rate load and recovery is a large indicator of true fitness. This is a simplified version of the stress test used by cardiologist.
So, is there a specific warm-up routine I should use? Not really. Every body is different and every training session is different. My warm-up adds attention to my knees and shoulders because of previous injuries and I suggest tailoring warm-ups to those details. One cookie cutter routine I would suggest is the simple mobility warm-up I have posted below. I prefer to do a mobility warm-up to cover all the basics and listen to my body as I move. This can be a great way to find out what muscle are tight and what joints are feeling stiff that day. Sometimes I'll have to change my workout because I want to allow the issue to heal a little longer or I’ll add extra rest in the routine to reduce risk of injury.
Static stretching can also be used, but some aerobic work must be done after to increase body temperature and heart rate. Yes there have been a couple studies showing that static stretching has a negative effect on strength, but that was only proven when stretching for more than 60 seconds immediately before explosive movements. During a warm-up stretches should be limited to about 20 to 30 seconds and followed by some aerobic exercises as mentioned earlier.
I have always been a true fan of fitness. I enjoy every aspect of lifestyle I have chosen from traditional weight training to unconventional training to yoga. I know this goes against many people’s perspective about serving two masters, but they're all one in the same. One can see the light in any discipline. The fastest way to find the true self and discover mindfulness is to fire up the dopamine receptors and make the body and mind separate.
While Yogis talk about meditation and serenity, weight lifters talk about therapy and peace from the outside world. These are actually very similar concepts. Everyone has their happy place. That one place that they go to unwind, disappear and fix the damage done by interacting with society. It is always ideal to start off a yoga session with a brief meditation to release the negative energy and bring one's focus to the task at hand. This is usually followed by a breathing exercise known as pranayama. The sole focus is on the breath. During this time the only concept that matters in this world is breathe in, hold, breathe out. Everything else fades away. This leads the way into a smooth transitional exercise routine. Throughout each pose, or asana, the focus is on elongating and relaxing the muscles through the slow exhale. The pose duration can be timed by a set number of breathe cycles instead of staring at a clock.
On the other side of the coin we have the meatheads. These guys kick off their worldly escape with a swig of water and a hefty scoop of their favorite pre workout. While waiting for that to jump start the blood flow they scroll through the iPod and find their Destruction Mix. Once the earbuds go in and bass drops, the world fades away. The only truth they need is stamped on the plates. In the words of Henry Rollins, “........Friends may come and go, but two hundred pounds is always two pounds.” Once the training begins the focus is zeroed into the body. The lifter's concentration is on the squeeze of every muscle fiber to increase tension and promote growth. Breathing techniques are not used for purpose of duration, but play a major role in the production of force. The “Power Breath” increases internal pressure to stabilize the body and force blood into the muscles. This is performed by inhaling during the unloading phase of the lift and forcibly exhaling during the loaded phase.
Another shared aspect is the techniques that are essential to their respective disciplines. Yogis understand their asanas. Each limb of the body must be in the correct posture for the intended effect to take place. True Yogis have no problem finding this spot with ease and accuracy. They can also see the difference between the ones who know what they're doing and those who only think they do. The same rings true for the lifters. But they're not as nice about it. They might even have a quick chuckle at the noob's expense before going back to work. This is why it is a good idea to find a trainer. Everyone knows that weight training can be dangerous without proper technique and an understanding of how the movement is preformed. Yoga is relatively safe even if you do not understand the poses, but you will not get the full benefits without the in depth knowledge known only to the Yogis.
Every aspect of fitness is connected in some way, shape, or form. Although they are not for everyone, don't shy away from trying new things. Step out of your comfort zone. I was an avid lifter for years before stepping into a yoga studio and it kicked my ass. It was great! I still practice yoga occasionally and feel great after every session.
Epidemic is a harsh word to hear under any circumstance. It is used in zombie movies when referring to a virus outbreak and in the media when crime has reached “epidemic proportions.” Epidemic has also been in the news recently about the health issues plaguing the United States. With over two-thirds of the population either overweight or obese, its use is understandable.
One of the major factors contributing to the growth of metabolic disorders and heart disease is an increasingly sedentary lifestyle among most Americans. I woke up this morning and cooked some eggs, a ton of bacon, and chased them with two large cups of coffee. Did I wake up early, go outside in the cold to slaughter a hog, gather eggs from my chickens, and harvest some coffee beans? No. Unlike our 1930s counterparts I did all this in about five minutes at the grocery store the night before. Truth be told I was cussing under my breath because I had to put that much effort into it. I seriously debated driving about fifteen minutes to hit a drive-thru so I didn’t have to cook; I’m not a morning person......
The issue here is that the human body was designed for motion. Hunters and gatherers spent their entire lives chasing sustenance. They would use every available resource in the area until the food/water disappeared or if the climate forced them out. They did not sit in chairs for eight to ten hours a day, only to come home to sit on a couch until time to go to bed. They would spend every waking hour hunting wild game, gathering water, fruits, and vegetables, building shelter, and other life dependent activities. The only time they seemed to stop and sit was to socialize and bond with the rest of the tribe. Moral of the story: They spent a lot of Time in Motion (T.i.M.).
Think about every exercise class/video fat loss fad ever created. They all have one thing in common; they get your ass off the couch. Zumba, Tae-Bo, P90X, Brazilian Butt Workout, and yes even Jazzercise followed this principle. They kept you going with horrible music and a small class sample of beautiful bodies. The funny part is that those people in the videos are there because their paid to be. Not because they really believe in the program, nor because that program got them to where they are. Another selling point for these programs are progress pics. These are the single most abused and misleading aspects of fitness ever created. These can literally be shot in the same day (google: same day before and after) and show ridiculous improvements. The other way is a trade secret so we won’t go into that.
So how does one adapt this philosophy into their training? The best ways are circuit training and variable speed training. Circuit training will usually involve more than 4 exercises performed back to back for 3 or more rounds with no rest in between exercises. Some circuits like the "300 Workout" will only be one round consisting of 300 combined reps of 7 exercises. The rest period will come after all exercises are completed for the round. Rest intervals should be modified depending on number of exercises and level of intensity needed. The exercise should be programmed to work the entire body and space out exercises for similar muscle groups.
Variable speed training is a great way to cover distance without wearing out too early. The key to this is to start out walking and jogging. Do not jog to fatigue and stop. Walking is the main focus and jogging should be added in slowly until a steady pace can be established. The next morning will be a good indicator as to whether the training was too intense. Once a comfortable balance is found, it will be easy to increase your intensity slowly. It is important to increase intensity once you feel able while still being functional the next day. This is the progressive overload principle. Your body will adapt to the current activity level and stop changing, so you have to give your body the need to continue changing until you have met you fitness goals.
This goes back to the old saying “If walking is good for our health, the mailman would live forever.” The hole in this logic is that you can be sedentary even if you work on your feet all day long. The body finds its efficiency plateau and stays there. This is a comfortable place, but it does nothing for your goals. You must continue to push yourself and stay motivated until you have reach your goals and hopefully by then you will maintain the habits that got you there.
We all know someone who put in the effort to develop the body they wanted only to drift back into old habits and lose everything they worked for. Some have even been motivation for others and expressed how they felt confident and full of energy, but they lost sight of their goals and did not maintain their routine. One great way to fast track your progress and insure that this does not happen is to start healthy habits early on. This can be choosing to go for a walk instead of watching TV or taking the family camping and hiking on the weekends instead of lounging by the pool. I recently began playing disc golf on the weekends and it too is a great way to get some extra cardio in while hanging out with friends. You can not rely on a 30 min workout 2 days a week to change your life if you do nothing else for the other 111 hours you're awake.
Nutrition is a another huge factor in every program. The main reason for failure of a proper diet plan is that people try to jump in with both feet, then quickly grow tired of it and quit. My advise to every client is to start out slow. Eat healthy snacks first, then once you start that habit eat a healthy lunch 3 days a week and continue making small changes until you crave healthier foods. Make it a smooth transition and don’t be afraid to eat something unhealthy every now and then. Everything is good in moderation. If you know that you’re going to eat something that does not fit into your meal plan, like a family get-together or company meeting, then adjust your eating before hand in preparation for the meal.
I hope I have fully explained the concept of Tiny T.i.M. If you would like additional information, or to schedule an appointment, please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.
It is hard to believe that health and fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry when only about one fifth of Americans meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic and strength training physical activity. Does this mean that exercising is expensive? No, there are entire workout programs designed using only body weight exercises. Health conscious individuals can actually save money by exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Being physically fit has numerous effects such as a higher quality of life, increased wellness, and increased confidence in one’s self.
A higher quality of life means living longer, having energy at the end of the day, and making fewer trips to the doctor’s office. As fitness levels increase, the signs of aging and fatigue begin to decrease, proving that cells regenerate at a faster pace when they are used. As individuals begin to exercise, their body adapts and becomes more efficient under physical stress. This means that his/her daily life starts to become easier and pretty soon they do not need that midday coffee break. Although a longer life is very beneficial, what would be the point if it came with the side effects listed on the label of prescriptions that doctors are so eager to give everyone that comes in their office? The good news is that exercise and a healthy diet also aid the immune system to help fight off disease and distress.
The mind needs to be exercised, as well as the body, in order to maintain balance. Mental fatigue can lead to mood swings, anger, and depression. An increase in wellness is an increase in health and awareness of both mind and body. Exercise requires the use of eustress or “good stress” on the mind and body as a whole. As the stress levels rise, the body and mind adapt and learn to handle the excessive load together. The mind will then get “stronger” and the effects of daily stress caused by work, personal relationships, and responsibilities become manageable. Having a wellness balance will also increase sex drive, improve sleep habits, and make every aspect life more enjoyable.
From giving a speech to breaking a record, confidence is a major factor in everyday life. Confidence can be a huge factor in your life from sports performance to public speaking to stressful situations like a zombie apocalypse. Professional athletes need confidence to perform under pressure. Politicians need that same confidence in themselves to lie to millions of people at a time. If zombies take over, self-confidence and mobility will become key factors in survival. In this situation, a person needs to be confident that they can make great decisions and not second guess themselves. Exercise transforms the body into an efficient weapon to tackle many different situations and also makes the mind think clearly under pressure. When a person knows their body can tackle any challenge and their mind can process information under great stress, confidence will come in great amounts.
These effects of being physically fit can change the lives of those who are willing to push themselves to get what they want. I personally do not know of any disadvantages to being physically fit and I cannot understand why people choose to be lazy and unhealthy. Imagine if there was a pill that was proven to increase longevity, strength, energy, lean muscle mass, appearance, wellness, peace of mind, quality of sleep, and mental clarity. Pharmaceutical companies would generate ridiculous profits, no matter how expensive they priced the product. Exercise will do all of these things for free. The only problem is that it requires actual effort, hard work, and dedication by the individuals that want to enjoy the benefits. Higher quality of life, increased wellness, and increased confidence are simply byproducts of being physically fit.
With the millions of programs and set/rep schemes, it’s hard to believe that everything can be broken down into one simple idea. The truth is, the fitness industry is full of fluff and exercises that look awesome, but are ultimately ineffective. It’s hard to sell your training manuals when it looks exactly the same as everyone before it. This is why most trainers try to add some flare with some crazy, and sometimes dangerous, exercises. If it looks cool for a photo op, then it must work great right? Some companies even make their events as dangerous as possible for the sake of the viewers (I’ll give you one guess as to who I am refereeing to). But I digress.
Time under tension (T.U.T.) is the basis for every quality hypertrophy program. This means that in order to build muscle, you have to spend some time with some with the weights. Most mass building programs like to go with the basic 3 sets of 8-12 reps for 5 to 6 exercises with a minute or two rest in between. Look familiar? These programs are great for beginners and anyone on a back to basics kick, but the novelty wears off pretty quick. These “cookie cutter” programs are designed to be interchangeable for quick and easy monthly updates. I found this out in high school when I bought every muscle mag I could find in hopes of packing some muscle on my wiry, fragile frame. I then decided to stop program hopping and design the program that would get me where I wanted to go. For this feat, I began to study the legends of the sport.
My next purchase was “Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder,” a notepad and a pen. I did as much research as possible and found that every pro bodybuilder had a few things in common, besides massive grocery bills. They used 5 to 6 day split training with 2-a-day schedules. This means that the designed 10 to 12 workouts and staggered their training so that most muscles would be trained 2 to 4 times a week. “But, but, but what about overtraining?” That unicorn disappeared over four decades ago. Needless to say, they spent a lot of time under tension.
Arnold was known to perform 9 to 12 sets of a single exercise if he didn’t think the muscle was getting the attention that it needed. Another growing fitness persona, Dwayne Johnson, talks about starting his arm workout with 7 sets of 8-12 on barbell curls. Expert trainer and competitive bodybuilder Rob Goodwin regularly knocked out 100 rep sets of isolation lifts in his preparation for his debut competition at Muscle Heat in Greensboro, where he took 2nd in the Open Weight Division and 3rd in Master’s Heavyweight. (For more information on Rob, check out his blog at http://www.originalworkout.net/robs-blog). Seems like a bit of a pattern.
While this is just trial and error and “Bro Science,” the actual science behind T.U.T. is sound as well. Muscles do not grow because you want them to. “Ok, Billy is doing 3 sets of 8-12 on bicep curls, so we’ll throw some extra mass on them to make him happy.” I wish it was this easy. The body evolves to make itself more efficient at daily tasks and reduce the strain involved in those tasks. If you are training like a mad man, your body will freak out and produce more growth hormone to protect itself and become more efficient (to a certain extent). Lumberjacks are notoriously large men because they lift and move heavy logs around all day. Their bodies have to adapt to their new level of “normal.”
This principle is based on building raw muscle mass and does not necessarily translate into cutting and shaping. As always, nutrition plays a huge role in any program and you have to eat big to get big. Another aspect to increasing your time under tension is increasing your quality of rest. For more on this check out my blog post “Active Recovery.”
ACSM Certified Fitness Professional