Category Archives: high resistance training

12 Reasons You’re Not Losing Fat | How to Build Muscle, Gain Strength & Become a Better Athlete

1) You’re Eating Too Many Carbs

carbohydrates 300x238 12 Reasons Youre Not Losing FatThis should be pretty obvious to most people by now, but there are still the old die-hards out there who swear that everyone should be consuming two grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight every day while maintaining a low fat intake. Load up on whole grains and fruit while cutting down on healthy, essential sources of fat like grass fed beef they’ll tell you.
Anyone experienced in physique transformation knows this is nonsense.Most people have a terrible tolerance for carbs, shitty insulin sensitivity and simply don’t do enough physically demanding work to warrant too many carbs. If you want to get lean cutting carbs is usually one of the first and most important steps you need to take. That doesn’t mean you can’t have any but you need to make smart choices and they need to be taken in at the right times and cycled properly.

2) You’re Eating Carbs at the Wrong Time

If you’re above 20% body-fat pretty much any time is the wrong time. In that case I would only recommend vegetables and possibly some post workout potatoes or a once per week refeed. When you get down to 15% you can increase the amount of carbs in the post workout meal or the weekly refeed. Everyone else should limit carb consumption to post workout and night time, as per The Renegade Diet rules. During the day you want to be alert and focused, which is one reason why you don’t want to load up on starchy carbs during this time. Save for them for the night time when you want to optimize serotonin production and rest, relax and repair.

3) You’re Eating Too Much Fat

Some people cut carbs and assume that they’re good to go and there’s nothing else to worry about. Unfortunately, the low/no carb diet isn’t as much fun as Dr. Atkins made it out to be. You can’t just eat pounds of bacon and mayonnaise with reckless abandon and think that you’ll magically end up ripped. Fat contains calories; nine per gram to be exact. At the end of the day total calories still matter, and if you’re eating more than you burn you’re never going to get ripped. Please don’t mistake this as my advocating a low fat diet. That’s just as bad, if not worse, than eating too much fat. A bare minimum of 20% of your calories should come from healthy fats like pastured egg yolks, wild caught salmon, grass fed beef and coconut oil to ensure optimal health. Just be careful about going overboard with it and thinking that low carbs automatically leads to single digit body-fat. You still need to keep a handle on things like total calories.

4)You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

protein food 300x203 12 Reasons Youre Not Losing FatIn my experience it’s usually only females who are guilty of this but guys can make this mistake on occasion as well. The average female who can’t lose body-fat usually eats a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast with an egg. One… single… egg.
Then she’ll have a sandwich for lunch with four ounces of lean turkey. For dinner it will be a salad with low fat dressing and four ounces of chicken or fish. Although, in all honesty they may skip the protein all together and just have a salad for either lunch or dinner. Let’s assume she weighs 135 pounds. Most experts would agree that she would need to consume at least 100 grams of protein per day, if not a gram per pound, which would equal 135 grams. Each ounce of protein is around 4.5 grams of protein. So in this example she had 36 grams combined with lunch and dinner plus the six grams from the egg. So that’s a total of 42 grams, which falls just a wee bit shy of where she needs to be.
Females often freak out when you tell them to eat more than six ounces of protein at a sitting but when you break down the numbers for them and reveal just how many calories they’re eating it should make more sense. If they had eight ounces of protein three times per day it would 108 grams of protein. That’s only 432 total calories. Add in the fat and it’s still not that much.
People who eat a sufficient amount of protein usually end up having an easier time getting ripped than those who don’t. Make sure you’re getting enough.

5) You’re Drinking Too Many Protein Shakes

There are two problems associated with drinking shakes when you’re trying to get ripped. First of all, whey protein can raise insulin levels, as I have been telling people since the mid 90’s. If you’re trying to get lean you don’t want insulin to be flowing like the Nile all day. You want a nice insulin surge post workout but the rest of the day you want it under control. That’s why The Renegade Diet limits the intake of whey protein to very small amounts during most of the day and only allows a larger amount post workout or at night.
The second problem with drinking too many shakes is that they are so easy to digest that you don’t really burn any calories when you eat them. When you chew down some salmon and broccoli your body works harder to digest that food and you burn more calories during the digestion process. When you drink something that is so easily digested, like a protein shake, your body does almost no work in the process.
So, when getting ripped is your main goal, limit your shake intake and chew as many calories as you can.

6) Your Liver is Over Stressed

This is usually the last thing people think of when embarking on a fat loss diet but it can sometimes be the most important. Everything that goes into or on your body has to be processed by the liver. That means all food, alcohol, suntan lotion, environmental pollutants, etc. If you are constantly exposing yourself to this kind of stuff and overstressing the liver fat loss will be much more difficult to come by. Cut out booze, stop eating grain-fed, chemical laden meat and incorporate some regular periods of intermittent fasting to give the liver a break and you will find your rate of fat loss is noticeably faster.

7) You’re Eating Nuts

I love nuts. I mean, who doesn’t? Give me a bag of pistachios or cashews and I won’t look up till the whole thing’s gone. The problem is nuts have a ton of calories. When you’re dieting for fat loss the rules are usually the opposite of those followed by skinny hardgainers trying to gain size. Those guys want the most calorically dense foods possible. Fat loss dieters do not. You’re better off filling up on nutritionally dense foods that don’t pack a lot of calories, like green vegetables. If you’re dieting you need to limit your nut consumption to about ten almonds per serving. No too many people can eat ten almonds. Most people eat ten handfuls. If you are strictly tracking and calculating everything all day and you want to load up on nuts at certain times I suppose you could but I wouldn’t recommend it. Nuts can be very problematic for a lot of people, especially those with digestive or auto immune issues. As Paleo Solution author Robb Wolf has noted, nuts should be used the same way you use condiments- sparingly.
I should also add, and this is strictly my opinion, meaning it has NOT been proven and posted on Pubmed… nut butters seem to be easier for most people to digest than actual whole nuts. Just something to consider.

8) You’re Eating Fruit

jolie berry 300x224 12 Reasons Youre Not Losing Fat“What?! You’re telling people not to eat fruit!? Everyone knows that it’s impossible to get fat from eating too much fruit!”
Yeah, yeah I know, that’s why physique competitors eat so much fruit and why all fat loss experts who specialize in getting people shredded recommend such high quantities of it. In our hunter gatherer days fruit was nothing like what you see in the supermarket today. Berries were small, dark and bitter; not the huge sugar sacks most people consume these days. Don’t get me wrong, fruit is healthy and can be eaten by lean individuals in limited amounts but any type of excessive fructose (a sugar found in fruit) consumption will lead to fat gain. Fructose can only be processed by the liver and once liver glycogen stores are full the excess gets converted to triglycerides and stored as body-fat. If you want to get ripped cut fruit completely for a while or limit it to one to two small servings per day. Just be sure to really up the vegetable consumption so you can keep your vital nutrient uptake where it needs to be.

9) You’re Not Training Heavy

When you want to lose body-fat the first inclination is often to crank up the reps and cut the rest periods. I actually have no problem with fairly low rest periods. But not if you’re used to resting three minutes between sets and all of the sudden cut them down to thirty seconds because you decided it was time to get shredded you’ll be in trouble. That never works. All that happens is your weights start plummeting on every exercise and you get weaker and smaller. High reps have the same effect.
When dieting, the primary role of strength training is to maintain muscle mass. That is the single most important thing. Don’t use it as your primary “fat burning” activity… UNLESS you are seriously overweight. If you need to lose more than fifty pounds or so that would probably be fine (although please don’t ever do any of the bullshit you see on those fat camp TV shows). Females can actually get something out of metcon workouts in the right situation as well. The caveat, however, is that that they need to be strong and actually have some muscle mass. If you take a weak female with no muscle and give her a silly metcon circuit she won’t usually get much out of it because she’s too weak to produce enough force. Females should get strong first before they attempt that type of training.
If you’re a guy and are trying to lose 10-20 pounds of body-fat without losing all your muscle mass in the process you should use strength training as a way to maintain size and strength; nothing more, nothing less. So the same principles that helped you get big and strong apply when dieting. Keep the reps low and the resistance high.

10) You’re Overdoing Cardio

Traditional forms of cardio are largely useless for fat loss. But useless is even okay, it’s when it starts to be counterproductive that we have a real problem. Excessive amounts of cardio lead to an overproduction of cortisol which leads to more abdominal fat and numerous health problems. If you want to do cardio that won’t actually hurt you and could do you some good, go for a long walk. No self respecting man should ever be spotted on an elliptical machine.
dog sled chan 12 Reasons Youre Not Losing Fat

Sled work builds muscle, burns fat and is irreplaceable

11) You’re Not Running Sprints or Doing Sled Work

Dieting is the most important thing for fat loss. After that you should be doing some form of strength training to maintain your muscle mass. When you have those to things dialed in you’ll want to add in some type of sprinting or sled work. There is nothing more effective for fat loss. See all wide receivers, defensive backs, sprinters, soccer players, etc. for proof. Two or three 20-40 minute sprint or sled sessions per week will be enough for most people.
Don’t have a sled? 

12) You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

When you’re short on sleep your insulin sensitivity decreases and your cortisol goes up. Both things lead to less than optimal fat loss. You also miss out on the critically important Growth Hormone boost that comes each night during deep sleep. If you want to lose more fat you have to get more sleep. Most people will ignore this and some of you are probably reading this at 2am. Unfortunately this just might be the most important thing on the whole list. More sleep improves EVERYTHING. Make it a priority.

Wikio

40 Years of Insight Part 2

40 Years of Insight, Part 2



40 Years of Insight, Part 2


I have a box in my storage room that contains all my training journals. Besides sets and reps, I toss in what’s going on in my life. Often, I find long essays about the future, lists about “what works,” and funny little tidbits about my life that I would’ve quickly forgotten had I not wrote them down.
It hit me when I picked up this box the other day that I’ve been recording workouts since 1971, five years after first picking up a weight. That’s forty years! I started to think about the lessons I’ve learned and, before I knew it, I had a list of forty lessons that I had to learn the hard way.

One thing that Laree Draper, wife of former Mr. Universe Dave Draper, finds interesting about me is that I sit in the front row at conferences. Each year I go to camps, clinic, workshops, conferences, and gatherings. I buy nearly every new book and DVD on the market. I read and comment on a lot, although as a rule I only comment after I read something and only universally after I’ve tried it.
Now, this might seem counter to Lesson 20 , but as the saying goes, an intelligent person can hold conflicting opinions in his head.
Here’s the thing: I appreciate Mike Boyle’s insights about single-leg training. Why? Because I’ve listened to him talk about it three times. I like his logic, I like his decision making process. Moreover, I also like the hour-long conversation we had discussing this topic.
I strongly believe in spending money to get exposed to the cutting edge of what’s going on in the field of strength and conditioning. I read and reread books, magazines, eBooks, and blog posts, trying to cut away the extraneous and hone the message.
It costs me money to do this. And I’m okay with that.




This is so obvious I’m embarrassed to write it. I’ve had the opportunity to sit with some fairly high level bodybuilders and train with some of the best of all time. I can promise you that the training tools of the elite bodybuilders are basically the same weapons you use in the gym.
When it comes to diet, though, you need to listen up. There’s this thing called “protein” and that seems like the only thing you need to think about when cutting fat. Carbs and even fat becomes a misty island far off in the distance that one may or may not see again for a while.
These guys are serious. My friend Lance once described his sodium loading cycle for an upcoming contest and it was like sitting in the front row of a chemistry class, except I’d missed the first few months. He lost me at “hello.” Lance was eating chicken breasts, which isn’t surprising, but also a hefty amount of fish. Now, to call this “fish” is a reach as there was no salt, no seasoning, and really no nothing.
One of my coaching principles is “success leaves tracks.” If you really want good advice about fat loss, talk to a competitive bodybuilder. Avoid the weekly magazine advice you see at the supermarket check-stand and get some real information.

This one is near and dear to my heart. I’ve an unbending training principle that’s as old as medicine. “First, do no harm.” I think any coach, program, or training system that injures people is wrong. If you’re an athlete in a sport that has an age or year ceiling (high school or college eligibility) and you lose a year to an injury, you don’t get that back.
My doctor said something interesting. If you’re 75 and have a major joint repair, its purpose is to literally to help you go to the toilet on your own. At 55, the same surgery might ensure a quality of life that will keep you young. At 15, this surgery is a tragedy for an athlete and one may never be able to compete again at the higher levels of sport.
Recovery from injury and surgery may take tremendous resources to attain. Besides the financial toll – which can be overwhelming – there’s a physical and emotional toll from injuries. I’ve been on crutches several times in my life and there’s not a single aspect of life that’s easy on crutches. From bowel movements to escalators, every action and move has to be thought through before attempting it.
Again, sure, you can get injured, but you may not have another recovery. In high school, my mom and sister could help out if I was hurt. When my daughters were little and I had wrist surgeries, I had to buy shoes without laces because when my wife wasn’t around, no one was there to tie them!
Plan your training with intelligence and foresight. Train hard, but try to avoid things that can’t be fixed without a surgical team.

40 Years of Insight, Part 2


There’s no question that running hills or doing Tabata front squats is the “best way” to heat up your system, burn fat, and make the world a safer place. However, I think we’ve lost sight of the importance of “easy,” especially in the fat loss race.
The Tabata protocol comes out to 3:50 minutes a week, as the last ten-second rest doesn’t really mean anything. And you can make progress in those four minutes. However, don’t throw out the importance of long, easy cardio like walks or heavy hands. A long walk won’t hit your fat stores like a furnace or whatever the ad copy says, but it will give your body a chance to recover and perhaps find some gentle, easy ways to lose the muffin top.
The principle here is to move away from “either/or” in strength and conditioning. My career has been built on the idea that “everything works, for a while” and while Tabatas might be fun to watch, there’s nothing sinful about a nice long walk. Moreover, like hiking, long walks tend to be more open ended, and rarely does one look at the watch worrying about “getting it all in.”
Keep those tough HIIT workouts, the hill sprints and the hard stuff, but don’t forget to keep those long lazy “workouts” as part of your palette.

Train hard, but enjoy competition. Compete hard, but enjoy your training. One key point that must be kept in mind always is to judge a workout or competition as “good” or “bad” solely on that single day.
I often tell my new throwers, “Sorry, you just aren’t good enough to be disappointed.” Judging one’s worth as an athlete over the results of a single day is just idiocy and will lead to long-term failure. Epictetus, the Roman Stoic philosopher tells us, “We must ever bear in mind – that apart from the will there is nothing good or bad, and that we must not try to anticipate or to direct events, but merely to accept them with intelligence.”
If that’s too complex, I have a favorite story.
A farmer had a horse and a son. One day, the horse died. All the neighbors said, “Oh, how bad.” The farmer said, “We’ll see.” The next day, the neighbors got together and bought the farmer a new horse. They all said, “That’s a good thing.” The farmer said, “We’ll see.” The following day, the horse threw the son while trying to break the horse. The son broke his arm. The neighbors all said, “Oh, how bad.” The farmer said, “We’ll see.” The next day, the army came into the town, drafted all the young men, save the son with a broken arm. They all died in the first battle. The neighbors said to the farmer, “Oh, how good it was for your son to have a broken arm.” The farmer said, “We’ll see.”
So, get in the gym and train. Finish your plan and shower off. Then, be sure to come back and do what Woody Allen says and “Show Up!”

40 Years of Insight, Part 2

When I was in the ninth grade, one quarter of my training was the military press, and I made progress. Then I dropped it. My progress stalled. When I met Dick Notmeyer, literally everything was over my head and I made progress again.
As I aged, I dropped the overhead stuff and everything went to my belly. I started up with one-arm kettlebell presses and my waistline shrunk back in weeks to a reasonable girth.
If Janda was right and certain muscles weaken with age (and he is, trust me), a quick study of that group should give you an idea of why you should press.

There’s no question that one-arm overhead presses work the obliques better than all those odd side bends and twisties I see in the gym every day. Now, you might argue that the glutes don’t work, but try to press one-handed anything over 100 pounds with a sleepy butt. I’ve tried it many times and I think I may have done it once.
When in doubt, press overhead.

I hate workouts like 10 sets of 10. For one thing, I never remember what set I’m on. I know I’m supposed to use matches or cards or something, but I’m old and never remember them, either.
I like ladders. A ladder is a series of reps that usually go up. The first set is always easy as the reps and load are low. The last set seems hard, but it’s odd because you feel like you recover in an instant. The standard ladders are:
1-2-3-1-2-3. You do a single, rest, a double, rest, a triple, rest, a single, ad infinitum!
1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3-4-5-1-2…
And my favorites:
2-3-5-2-3-5…
2-3-5-10-2-3-5-10-2-3…
I love 2-3-5-10 for hypertrophy. If you do that cluster five times, that’s 100 quality reps and you’ll storm through the doubles and the triples with practically no rest. You’ll finish strong and pumped.
2-3-5-2-3-5-2-3 is my favorite variation of the standard 5 x 5 protocol. Again, how quickly you get through the reps and the ease of adding more plates is a pleasant surprise.
I know of no easier way to add volume than to do ladders.

40 Years of Insight, Part 2


These are mantras I repeat to myself and to my athletes. I’ve won National Championships in lifting and throwing on the very last lift or throw. I do it with so much regularity that Don Bailey, a good friend and fellow thrower, has told people I do it on purpose for “the theater.” It’s not true, but I do like the point.
It always works well in training. Charlie Francis, the late, great sprint coach, would end workouts when his athletes got a personal record in anything. His idea was “there you go – you peaked – now rest.” That is an extreme, but I wish I would’ve known this when I was younger. Injuries tend to show up when you want to add just a little more to your lifetime best. Learn to celebrate success and keep improving over the long haul.
This skill has to be practiced. You have to draw a line in the sand and say, “This is it. This is the last thing I do today and it’s going to be my best effort.” Now, I know most lifters don’t do this, but I also know that most don’t make any gains!
Always strive to leave practice and workouts “on top.”

This is a new idea for me. After a hard workout, come back the next day and, at a low level, move through the basic patterns of the human body in a kind of movement massage. The loads are light, the reps are unimportant, but the movement is key. With an adult, I often recommend up to three of these easy recharge workouts a week. It can be as simple as doing the basic patterning movements.

Follow with an easy walk. It doesn’t have to be much, but you’ll thank me as your mobility, flexibility, and patterning improve without much residual soreness.

Dick Notmeyer smiled and nodded as I told him about my weightlifting career. I thought I’d done it all. I had a big bench and could do pull-ups with the best of them.
Dick stopped me. “Here, you’re going to do snatches and clean and jerks.” That was basically it. For two years, I did the Olympic lifts in the summer sun and foggy blindness. It was rep after rep after rep. And I made tremendous progress.
When Pavel came out with “Power to the People” and suggested five days a week of deadlifts and side presses, a few brave souls took on the challenge and expanded their work capacity. His “Program Minimum,” of nothing but swings and get-ups, is still my “go to” recommendation for someone exploring the goals of general conditioning.
In the book, “Beyond Bodybuilding,” he sets up a hypertrophy program consisting of five days a week of deadlifts and bench presses under the direction of deLorme and Watkins, the founders of what we now call progressive resistance exercise.
I’m a fan of minimal workouts. The biggest reason is there is no wiggle room for “coulda, woulda, shoulda.” The very essence of this training idea is “do this!” It’s not the kind of training for someone who needs music, TV, Internet, and conversation during sets. Folks, it’s dull work – actually, it’s work.
Every so often, try two weeks of just two movements. Make the combination cover the bulk of the body and strive for mastery of the movements. It can change your career.

40 Years of Insight, Part 2


My friend, Josh Hillis, notes that when a woman can do three pull-ups and deadlift or squat 135 for five, almost universally they’re around 19% bodyfat, which is what he calls “Rockstar Hot.” Since he told me this, I’ve been carefully watching the physiques of women, although to be honest I’ve been doing that since early puberty.
There’s another issue. Women who can do three pull-ups and show some numbers on the barbell can also go out after a clinic and have a good time. Recently, a top female physique contestant told me at a bar that, “Oh, I can go out and party and not watch every single bite when I’m not peaking.” Unlike the “skinny fat” women who you normaly see in the weekly magazines, this woman was strong enough that when she trained her body had to gather up a lot of resources to adapt and recover.
What does this mean for you? I’ve seen it many times at workshops and clinics. The skinny, weak guys bring their own weighed chicken breasts and magic protein bars for the whole day. When we do something physical, they fade into the corn rows. The big, strong guys who’ve never seen a strongman event will jump in and flail around dangerously close to death and dismemberment, but fight the good fight with the anvil, axle, or stone. Then, they eat passionately and without apology.
In other words, as Brett Jones taught me, absolute strength is the glass. Everything else is the liquid that goes into the glass. The bigger the glass, the bigger everything else can be for you.
So get stronger and eat more without freaking out about it.

Twice at the Olympic training center, we were asked to take some time to do an “autobiography.” Really, we simply listed the best and worst of our athletic career. We were allowed to add life events, too.
I still have my lists. They’re odd to look at from a decade-plus distance, but I still smile when I see “Turkey Day Football” and “Picked to Start for Brentwood,” and “Winning hit in 1967” mixed in with performances that are worthy of national ranking. I don’t want to address the “Worst” list, but that was the point.
After a fairly long wait for everyone to finish, we were asked to look at the lifetime lows.
“Put your finger on it,” we were told. Now, look at the high side and see if there’s a match.
“Huh?”
Just do it.
Incredibly, for the bulk of us, every low, every “worst moment,” lead directly over to a best moment. We have to keep Lesson 25 in mind (don’t judge everything), but the lesson was clear. Our lows are often the steppingstone to the greatest moments of our lives.
I’ve used this little exercise for my athletes and in my classrooms. Sadly, there are some who argue that they have very few “best” moments. It should come as no surprise that these timid souls often have no “worst” moments either.

I have an extremely damaged tiny spiral notebook. It’s red and falling apart. Since 1973, I’ve been keeping quotes in here that inspire me.

Paul Anderson

Self-confidence
Positive mental outlook
Honest hard work


Dick Notmeyer

Bill Koch

Winston Churchill

Aesop
I also include training programs from people that I admire and odd snips of ideas that still are forming in my head.
Here’s one final one.

I wrote that as a senior in high school in my English class to answer something along the lines of, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”




I was lucky to have the magazine “Strength and Health” growing up. It wasn’t just bodybuilding information; this magazine really respected all areas of strength. So several times a year I could read about throwers or football players. An article on a discus thrower named Gary Ordway came at a great time in my life as I’d embarked on an attempt to be a thrower and they listed his workouts. I’ll only list his top lifts in his preseason workout:

As a kid inclining under 100 pounds, the direction was clear. I needed to get stronger. I knew the path – lift weights.
To be a strength athlete, you have to engage in a progressive program to lead you to your goals. The nice thing about lifting is the numbers are crystal clear. I’m benching 95 and you’re benching 405. I have to get stronger!
This is why I still like the Olympic lifts and the deadlift for comparing generations. The O lifts and the DL have essentially stagnated for the past twenty years. Certainly there are amazing lifts, but there’s been less than stellar improvement across the board.
My good friend, Marty Gallagher loves to point out that outside of gear (in this case, squat suits, squat briefs, bench shirts, wraps and the like), there’s been almost no progress in powerlifting. Yes, there are exceptions, but like O lifting the sport has slowed to a crawl.
Find out what the best are doing. Look at what you’re doing. Now shrink the gap.

This is a criticism that gets tossed in my face sometimes. I’m a snob, a prude if you will, when it comes to track and field. I love reading how this magic program, device, or herb is the “do all and be all.” Fine. Take your profits, invest in some athletes, and prove it at a track meet.
The response is always something along the lines of, “Well, this isn’t sports specific,” or, “Track depends on perfection of biomechanics.” Okay, fine.
It’s easy to convince someone that a weight “feels lighter.” It’s not so easy to add three feet to the shot put or drop time off the 200-meter sprint.
If your idea does work for sprinters, throwers, and the rest of track and field, I’m going to sit in the front row and take notes. Even if I disagree with everything you say, if you get it right in Track and Field, and probably swimming, too, you’re right and I’ll listen to this grand scheme.

This looks like a rant, but it drives me crazy. Moms show up to practice and ask, “Are the boys hydrating?” No, first perspiration, then hydration.
The area from your hips to your shoulders is now the “core.” Today, Grandma asks me if discus throwing “builds your core.” Is shot putting “functional?” To play a one-hour game of soccer – or 20 minutes of standing and 40 minutes of picking daisies – my daughter used to get a sports drink, an orange, cookies, and a treat. This was to counteract the incredible efforts of a group of seven-year-old girls who usually forgot which goal to kick the ball towards.
I’m tired of it. Let’s bring an end to this pseudo-quasi-scientific language that’s permeating youth sports, recreation, and fitness. American children are getting fatter at a rate that no one predicted twenty years ago and yet parents flock around their kids like paparazzi around this week’s latest Lindsay Lohan scandal.
It’s called “water.” Deal with it.

I have an axiom when asked for advice. “Well, in four years, you’re going to be four years older no matter what, but if you go to college, you’ll have your degree.” Or, “In thirty years, you’re going to be thirty years older no matter what, but if you save ten percent of your income, you’ll have a comfortable retirement.”
The longer you put off something like “squat mastery” or eating clean, the more you’ll regret it later. Now, I don’t know when and what’s going to happen, but life seems so much easier when you master the basics, make yourself a slave to good habits, save ten percent of your income, and nurture quality relationships “now” versus “later.”
Get the degree, finish the thesis, buy good insurance, see your dentist twice a year, and do all the boring things of life as often as you can. Trust me, your health – financial, physical, spiritual, and emotional – will benefit from taking care of business early on.
Some of the athletes I first worked with are now sneaking up on age fifty and two are already over the half-century mark. Whenever we talk, the most common “gift” that I bestowed on them was this understanding to get Ôer done.

40 Years of Insight, Part 2


Aerobic dance continues to flourish in community centers. There’s a lot of “woos” as you walk past. What you don’t see is progress. For the record, if I took the introductory class, I would get the workout of a lifetime. Why? Because I would suck at it! Fat loss exercise, however, and it breaks my heart to say this, is about being completely inefficient.
Aerobic dance and most of the TV offers work for a few weeks. Then, you get good at it and progress stops. This is why I like the kettlelbell swing for fat loss. It’s a massive body move that eats up a ton of energy and you move nowhere. In fact, as you improve, you probably attack the movement harder, causing you to still move nowhere.
Len Schwartz’s HeavyHands was the same principle. You load up a couple of dumbbells in each hand and go for a walk. With these big pumping arm movements, you waste a ton of energy up and down and turn an easy walk in the park to an extremely wasteful use of energy. And you burn fat.
I love the combination of swings and push-ups, or goblet squats and push-ups for fat loss. The secret to fat loss is that wonderful pause after finishing the push-up when you have to get back up. It would be “better” to press as that would save you energy, but in this case, that’s “bad.”
For fat loss exercise, discover things you’re terrible at and do them. If you’ve never skated before, pad up and see how a quarter mile can ruin you for hours. As you get better technically, find something else! It’s the polar opposite of getting good at a sport or skill, but this is why consistent fat loss is so elusive for most people.




I said this at the Test-Fest in Washington, DC, and it still holds true. I’ve argued for years that taking a weekend to listen and learn is far better than doing the “same old, same old” thing in the workout.
And as I said that at Test-Fest, a guy walked in with his wife beater, his belt, and his little bag filled with gym gear. I couldn’t have planned it better. There’s a need for all of us to humble ourselves and open up to some new ideas. You probably should hang on to 80% of what you know, but be willing to throw out that other 20% and fill it with something that will get you to the next level.
This sounds similar to “put your money where your mouth is,” but there’s more to this. I think the hotel bar after the talk or the lunch between sessions or the hallway outside the conference is an opportunity to grow in ways you can only imagine.
You might get a chance to fill out a napkin (don’t lose that napkin) with a training program from one of the great names in the iron game. You might get invited to something like a dinner or a party and meet people that will change your life. You must go to these events to understand the idea behind the ideas you see presented here at TNation.

It’s a rare day I don’t think of my mom and dad, Coach Ralph Maughan, some of my heroes, and some of my friends who are no longer alive. I carry on, as best I can, but it’s becoming woefully obvious to me that my torch is burning dim and I’ll be passing it along sooner than later.
That’s why I write. That’s why I keep lists. That’s why I answer the same questions over and over and over again.
Our time on this precious earth is short. Good health and a measure of strength can help you live a better quality of life. And that’s the greatest lesson of my life.

Wikio

T NATION | 40 Years of Insight, Part 1


40 Years of Insight, Part 1

I have a box in my storage room that contains all my training journals. Besides sets and reps, I toss in what’s going on in my life. Often, I find long essays about the future, lists about “what works,” and funny little tidbits about my life that I would’ve quickly forgotten had I not wrote them down.
It hit me when I picked up this box the other day that I’ve been recording workouts since 1971, five years after first picking up a weight. That’s forty years! I started to think about the lessons I’ve learned and, before I knew it, I had a list of forty lessons that I had to learn the hard way.

It makes me smile to see my attempt at neat handwriting in my first journal entries. The bench press workout was 85 x 8/8/4. I noted, “I was supposed to do six on the second set but it was too easy.” In the summer before my freshman year, I benched 100 pounds; my sophomore year, I benched 200 pounds; and I got 300 during my junior year in track season. I would write what I benched as a senior weighing 162 pounds, but you wouldn’t believe it.
I have a few notes about my coach’s son who came to our weight room one afternoon to see if I was “really as strong as my dad said I was.” I told him I’d already lifted and he said something that questioned my lifts. So, I put a low 300-pound lift on the bar and it went up so fast that he told me to stop. “I believe you…wow, I believe you.”
The value of a journal is seeing the progress (and the regress) of your training and training philosophy. I believe a thorough review of your old journals is probably as good as a training session.
Lesson 2:
40 Years of Insight, Part 1

This article pulled together some wonderful disconnected links that had spun in my brain for a few years. Yes, low carb is good, but carbs are not evil. For the strength enthusiast, or someone who wants to just be powerful, this article gives the template. The carb-depletion workout fit perfectly with a weekly volume day. The carb-up fit perfectly with life!
Now, you can agree or disagree with the diet, but all the athletes I had use this template found that their ability to train longer and harder was enhanced naturally by this simple eating program. And, as the author notes, people fear you in the supermarket!

You may not need to ever squat heavy, and you may also discover that there are some better tools for you (for you, read that carefully) like Bulgarian split squats or pistols, but mastery of the squat is worth every second you spend on it.
In past articles, like this, I’ve given you a template to follow. However, I still feel that the message has NOT been delivered. You master this basic movement. Spend years on it if you have to, as I did, but learn to do this.

Yes, these are “books,” but the depth and insights will astound you.
Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” It still stuns me and scares me. The diet advice is unsupported by research.
T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King.” The first part is “The Sword in the Stone” and the book changed my life.
Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” The book is a science fiction legend, but the respect for education, in all its forms, makes it worth reading.
I would also tell you to read all of Harry Potter. Any book that introduces a character in the first chapter that’s so crucial to the whole story, yet won’t be seen again until the third book, and a question from the very beginning that isn’t answered until literally the end, deserves one’s time and energy.
There are others, of course, but the idea is that at times big goals and big stories also include epic tragedy and overcoming failure.

40 Years of Insight, Part 1

When I first made waves as a writer, I was usually quoted for insisting we go outside and train. It’s still great advice. I think that carrying equipment outside and working out in a communal gathering is the single best way to train. As a discus thrower, bringing my kettlebell to the field to do a few movements “now and again” was a game changer in helping me improve my throws. Grab some food and drink and a training tool and go outside and have some fun lifting.

I wrote on this a few years ago here . It’s very simple.
The Southwood Program is to be performed three days a week in the gym:

Exercise Reps
Power clean 8-6-4
Military press 8-6-4
Front squat 8-6-4
Bench press 8-6-4

Although I learned this while Nixon was President and nobody traded with China, it still holds fast as a great training program. You don’t miss a single bodypart, it’s simple to learn, and a bit rigorous to do. It also demands that you clean and military press which we’ll get back to later.

If there’s a skill that’s overlooked it’s the ability to nap when necessary. If my athletes struggle with getting or staying asleep, we’re going to have issues down the line. Training oneself to relax is the first step. I recommend squeezing a muscle tight, then breathing out and releasing it. This helps enable falling effortlessly asleep literally any time, anywhere.
Sleep is the best recovery tool I know, but the skill of sound sleeping is often overlooked. Although I recommend ZMA®, Z-12TM, and eyeshades and earplugs to just about every audience I speak to, I still say that one also needs to practice relaxing. There are many CDs, DVDs and downloads that walk you through this skill and I can’t comment on them all, but it’s worth your time to practice this underrated skill.

40 Years of Insight, Part 1

I learned this from Pavel. It’s a “truism.” My all-time best number of pull-ups was 14 when getting ready for my senior year of high school football. I know this because of my journal (see Lesson One!). As I grew larger, I let myself slide all the way down to four reps. I also noted my shoulders hurt.
Taking Pavel’s advice, I started doing one or two pull ups throughout my training workouts. When two became ridiculously easy, I moved to three and soon four. I am now back to nine pull-ups and “miraculously” my shoulder health is back to being fine.
One surprising point about pull-ups is that they’re also a wonderful abdominal exercise. I don’t know why that is, but it will be evident the day after a long pull-up workout.

I love pictures of the old time strongmen with the huge kettlebells and fixed bars. When I first started training, gyms had fixed barbells in a rack, so you could grab a 75-pound barbell or a 105 pounder, just like the dumbbell rack today.
There’s some beauty in this. Originally, all I had was a 53-pound kettlebell and a 70 pounder. So, when I trained, I had two options. The “lack of options” made me dig down harder for certain movements. A few years ago, I noted that most of us should toss out the bulk of our weightlifting plates and just use 45s and 25s. One would have thought I’d blasphemed! I got negative feedback for weeks from that.
I stand by it. Yes, it’s a jump to go from 185 to 225. It means you have to own 185 and you’d better be ready for the load at 225. It’s also how we trained in college as the small plates were all broken and the football team stole all the 35s to stick on their machines (I won’t comment).
So, my first group of recruits when I began coaching learned to lift with 95, 135, and 185 pounds in the snatch and clean. They mastered the loads quickly because, well, we had no other options!

At nearly every talk I give, I note the importance of dental floss. Flossing is really good for you and it seems like it makes a difference in heart health. It takes about a minute to do it, too. But I get emails from guys who tell me, “I’ll do anything to get to X, Y or Z.” When I ask them first to floss twice a day, I get a return email that says something like “that is a problem as…” Listen, if you don’t have the discipline to floss twice a day, good luck with the Velocity Diet.
I do all the weird stuff. I use a Neti Pot for my sinuses, and I no longer take allergy medicine, so it “works.” I use a tongue scraper every morning, and learned that some foods really do make mucus, and I always supplement with fiber. Now, I don’t go so far as to do some of the higher-end stuff like colonics, but that’s not a judgment on my part.
I think that taking a little time each day to “cleanse” is worth it to your overall health. To me, it’s like eating vegetables and fruit. It’s got to be good for you at some level. And, let’s be honest, it’s pretty easy to do.

40 Years of Insight, Part 1

When I first began throwing the discus as a 118-pound tower of terror, I won a lot of meets. No matter what, the kids at the other school would tell me, “If (insert name of fat kid) would’ve been here, he would’ve beaten you.” I used to believe that crap.
Whenever I win something, especially now in the Internet age, I always find out later that “somebody else” would’ve won it if, of course, they’d just shown up. Folks, it’s a truism that should be stuck to your bathroom mirror. “Show Up!”
I’ve fond memories of helping a friend off the floor as he was dieting down for an amateur bodybuilding contest and he was doing depleting workouts. He was in a brain fog for probably three weeks. Of course, on the dais under the lights, he looked magnificent and won “easily.”
The dude showed up. If you’re gunna gunna, you have to show up to prove it. “Gunna gunna” was a phrase my mom used for people who were “gunna do this and gunna do that.” It’s like graduating from high school or college. I swear to you, if you just show up, you’re gunna gunna do just fine.

One of my favorite books is Steve Ilg’s “Total Body Transformation.” Published in 2004, the book has amazing insights into human performance and reflects on Ilg’s courageous victory over a terrifying back injury. In the book, Ilg looks at a quote made about Mark Allen that he had become the World’s Greatest Athlete by winning a series of triathlons. Ilg came up with an interesting contest to see who actually was the world’s fittest human.
Ilg’s contest included basic gymnastic movements, weightlifting maxes, and yoga moves. My favorite section was the third day’s endurance event, a mountain bike race to an uphill finish. His genius is realizing that downhill is where the injuries happen, so why not test the athletes’ fitness as safely as possible?
I’ve had a lot of injuries that have caused me to spend a lot of time in hospital beds. One thing I’ve learned is that it is “almost” okay to get injured in competition, but it’s insane to get hurt in preparation. Stopping several reps short of failure or injury may not sound courageous on paper, but coming back to train tomorrow is more important than an additional “junk” rep.

I love the word “glib.” Usually, it means nonchalant (that has to be a French word; we need to find a way to say this glibly), but it also means “lacking depth and substance.” Now, most of my ex-girlfriends say that about me, but I digress.
I’ve always taken about six weeks a year to assess, reassess, and deal with my weaknesses. It’s always around the same few issues:

So, how does one usually address these issues? Most people usually address weaknesses while also doing literally everything else. So, what happens in a typical six-week assessment program is we continue doing everything we did before and hope the weaknesses vanish magically. Without Harry Potter, that isn’t going to happen.
In the last decade I’ve discovered that weaknesses demand full concentration. As I’ve argued before, if you want to really address fat loss, do the Velocity Diet. Oh sure, there are other fine options, but do the V-Diet once and then decide how “grueling” Atkins or Ornish or the Zone are in terms of sacrifice.
Weaknesses need to be given full attention. If you have flexibility issues holding you back, then you need some kind of challenge. In the past I’ve recommended the Bikram Yoga 30-Day Challenge (you promise to go to the 90 minute sessions every day for thirty days) and I still can’t think of a better way to address the issue.
Weaknesses need to be attacked with depth. I charge you to examine every possibility in your search for ridding yourself of this issue. I’ve had people squat five days a week to address poor squatting technique and do 1,000 full turns a month to deal with discus throwing issues. If you have a clear weakness, total focus with every tool and weapon you can muster has to be the plan.
Don’t be glib.

40 Years of Insight, Part 1

Neither is it treadmilling, or whatever machine you think of right now. Conditioning is more than that. I gave some insights in this article, but few people were interested in trying out the tumbling. This little workout is the finest “finisher” I know and you only have to do it once.

I think the intensity of conditioning trumps the duration most of the time. I have more to say on this later, but most people don’t train hard enough to get in and get out.
That said, I also think most under-appreciate hiking, biking, and long, easy treks along the beaches and meadows of this fine planet. As noted earlier, go outside and breathe real air.

Recently, I wrote a series of articles on the five basic human movements.

Now, you can certainly add vertical and horizontal and rotational and many other things to this list, but if you’re skipping one of the basic five human movements, your training isn’t optimal.
You’re probably missing loaded carries and squats. The one lesson I’ve learned over and over is most people ignore these two things. So, start doing farmer walks, waiter walks, suitcase walk, sleds, and pushing cars a few days a week and master the basics of squatting.
You won’t believe the progress you’ll make!

I still love the Atkins Diet. I keep some correspondences from 1999 from a group of women who lost 100 pounds each doing the Atkins Diet and a little weightlifting. I probably learned more from them than I ever learned from those with a bunch of initials after their names.
Here was the genius behind Atkins, in case you missed it. Dr. Atkins notes in his book that to become obese, you did something “unbalanced.” To get yourself back to sleek, lithe, firm and fantastic, you honestly can’t do a balanced approach. Finding balance at 100 pounds over-fat will keep you there. He recommended an “unbalanced” approach to get back to your target.
I’ve used this contrarian thinking process ever since I read this. In coaching the throws, I teach athletes with bad habits to throw with the “other” hand, do things backwards, try throwing with the 56-pound weight, and a variety of things that I’d consider “unbalanced.” Now, if I’m working with a raw beginner, obviously I’d pattern and model the best technique possible, but with someone with ingrained bad habits, I look for ways to completely rework the system.
If you’ve been training for four years and never really squatted, I’d recommend you squat five days a week for two years. Crazy? Yes! But that’s exactly what Dick Notmeyer had me do, and not only did I add forty pounds of lean body mass in four months, I also mastered the movement.
This “theme” seems to be a reoccurring lesson in my career.

But if you do decide to “do everything at once” for a while, there may be benefits at the other end of the wormhole.
By the time I was a senior at Utah State University, I’d lifted at least three days a week, usually five to eight, for seven and a half years. I played football, soccer, wrestled, and competed at a fairly high level as an Olympic lifter. Oh, and I was a Division One thrower gathering points as a discus thrower, hammer thrower, and shot putter.
In January of my senior year, I hit the wall. I was sick of lifting and just couldn’t keep up trying to do everything.
This “plan” worked perfectly. After all those years of training half the year as a thrower and the other half as an athlete in another sport AND keeping an enormous load in the weight room, I backed off everything.
I never went over 385 that winter and spring in the squat. I did clean and snatch, but always within reason. I didn’t play in pick up games or intramurals or, honestly, anything. I went to school, lifted a little, and threw a little. I ended up with what Coach Ralph Maughan called “the greatest season in the history of USU throwing,” which, at the time, was quite a big deal.
The lesson? Well, after doing seven years of “everything,” backing off to just one thing propelled me to a level of success that simply shocked me with the ease I attained it.
Less is more. This is a fundamental truism in the strength arts. Like Earl Nightingale used to say about the fireplace, many people walk up to the fireplace and say “give me heat.” The right way to do it is to get some paper, some kindling, some logs, and light a match. Then you get some heat.
You have to explore and learn and try many things to be able later to whittle them all down into a simple package. I can show you some short cuts and so can all the other authors here, but you need to put the time and effort into the “more” before you can master the “less.”

40 Years of Insight, Part 1

My friend, Pavel Tsatsouline, handed me this great two-day a week training program. I shared it with a young, busy guy who told me it was too easy. I knew he was lying, so I tweaked it for him. Here’s the “King of Less Training Programs”:

Day One Day Two
Bench press Bench press
Squat Deadlift

That’s it. It’s the minimalist’s minimal workout. Now, let’s look at my tweaks:

  • Only 45 and 25-pound plates!
  • No less than ten reps on every set of bench and squat until the last set.
  • No less than five reps on every deadlift.

So, the bench press workout was sets of ten, add weight, until the last set where you grind out as many as possible.
A bench example from 1993 when I did this same basic program:

For the squat, the last set should be around bodyweight, usually 185 or 225, and you go for at least 30 reps.
In the deadlift, keep grinding out those sets of five. Over time, feel free to slide this down to three reps, then two reps.
On paper, this looks so easy!

Whenever I talk with someone who has been around gyms for a long time, usually this story comes up:

The interesting thing is the experienced guy probably got more out of the exchange than the neophyte. When you try to teach someone something you know, you begin to pick up those subtle points that you may have forgotten or, perhaps more common, you may know but never knew you knew it! Teaching someone to squat might make you rethink how you move the whole system down and not just bend the knees.
Oh, sure, you can lose your mind helping someone learn the basics of weight training, but for most the time spent teaching others is like finding a vein of pure gold.

I’ve been there. I read those massive ads for Nautilus in Scholastic Coach and Athletic Journal and thought, for sure, that this was the ticket to success. Plyometrics had me leaping off tall buildings with a single bound and limping up flights of stairs. Don’t even get me started with the stupid things I’ve tried.
Most of “it” is crap. From the magic supplements, like B-15 (better than 14!) to the promises of this huckster or that guru, I’ve rarely discovered much beyond the basics that works.
I remember fasting for 14 hours before a workout and doing set after set after set of compound leg exercises and consuming a whiff of some exotic herbs to enhance my growth hormone. It enhanced someone else’s wallet.
If it sounds too good to be true, it is.


Wikio

>Train Like a Man!

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Train Like a Man!

The Fall of T

America is becoming the poster-child for low testosterone levels. Men today are becoming increasingly more feminine, fussing about their eyebrows, spray tanning, and booking mani-pedis.
There are many potential explanations for the drop in testosterone and subsequent increase in American Idol voters. Skeptics will argue that it’s simply our aging population that’s to blame for our country’s collective low T. Yet that fails to explain the feminine leanings of the younger guys. I believe their shockingly low T scores are due in large part to poor lifestyle choices.
Obesity, stress, prescription meds, staying up late, and poor food choices all affect T to varying degrees, but in a weird way, a low T lifestyle is almost glorified.
The 25 year-old guy with the muffin-top waistline due to the stressful job that keeps him up late is essentially what college prepares most “successful” people for. Follow that lifestyle too long and voila – self-induced castration, a gut you can’t seem to lose, and an iPod chocked full of Kenny G.
But here’s the kicker: castration has infiltrated and infected the one spot you might think immune to low T levels – the gym.

Castration in the Gym?

What do squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and dips have in common? Answer: They’re all compound exercises that can be loaded to produce extreme amounts of testosterone-building tension.
Sadly, a lot of people answer: “They’re all dangerous exercises that yogagirl127 posted on Facebook can hurt you and should be outlawed!”
Dangerous? To whom exactly? And what isn’t “dangerous?”
Look, I’m not only a trainer, I’m also a physical therapist, and I respect the importance of proper biomechanics and injury prevention, but those basic exercises are not inherently dangerous.
Everything you do in the gym has some potential for injury, as do most things in life. Reading is bad for the eyes, door handles are caked with germs, and pesticides are sprayed on virtually every stitch of produce at the grocery store.
Are you going to stop reading, opening doors, and eating vegetables? Before we outlaw the overhead press, let’s crack down on texting-while-driving and we’ll really start making the world a safer place.
Safety in my training is paramount, but so is common sense – which isn’t always common in the fitness industry. Over the last 20 years, I’ve watched bizarre trends in fitness information dictate the actual training that occurs inside the gym.
After the rise of the internet, articles written by any “expert” that could type had you in a full sweat-suit to stay warm during your dynamic warm-up and pre-habbed on the foam roller before you rehabbed with your corrective exercises.
In short, as information became more plentiful, more had to be written about the minutia. Once the minutia was deeply covered, the only thing left was to write about what everyone was doing wrong and the risks involved with just about every exercise.
Fact is, most stuff I see talked about today is about what we supposedly can’t or shouldn’t do. My goal is to remind us all that life is often better when you take the “t” off your can’t.
This information overload leads us first on a quest for something safer, then moves us to something either more time consuming or boring, then moves us to skipping that new thing all together due to a lack of time or interest. Ultimately, we’re unable to go back to the old exercise that worked and kept us stimulated because we’re now convinced that it’s bad for us!
Knowledge is power? No, knowledge is only power when we put action behind it. Today, I believe knowledge is often paralyzing.
Here are a few examples of “castrating” training trends and exercises.

Kettlebells vs. Dumbbells

dumbbells

Kettlebells are a great tool, but since the explosion of the kettlebell cults, dumbbells have taken a backseat in training. Funny, but no one ever takes a picture with a dumbbell, yet I see more shots every day of people carrying a kettlebell like it was his or her first-born.
I have nothing against kettlebells and use them in my training. I just wonder if the KB explosion would’ve ever happened without the internet? Kettlebell shirts, kettlebell necklaces…
Poor dumbbells, I’ll miss them.

Bands vs. Chin-ups

Bad Chinups
Chin-ups are one of the all-time great upper-body exercises (and I include the abdominal area in that too). But they’re difficult to perform, which turns people off.
So some genius discovered that a band originally designed for stretching also works great to make chin-ups easier by removing all the testosterone-producing tension. Now you have rooms full of guys doing sissy chin-ups thinking they’re Olympic gymnasts.
Dump the bands. Do your chin-ups. And hurry up, because even though they haven’t been outlawed yet, I’m sure someone is already working on an article called “Why Chin-Ups Are Bad For You.”

Glute-Ham Raise vs. 45-Degree Back Extension

Back extensions are a great exercise, especially when you hold as many plates as you can across your chest.
Too bad some “efficiency expert” discovered that by just having a glute-ham raise bench you didn’t need a back extension or a lying leg curl machine because the GHR effectively trains both knee flexion and hip extension. So now, both the back extension and leg curl are falling into exercise obscurity.
Turns out the joke is on them. Glute-ham raises are difficult and about as comfortable as a muay thai kick to the quads, so no one does them. So now, no one does anything, except of course occasionally working the triceps while wiping the dust off the GHR.

Prowler Pushes vs. Suicides

Suicide Sprints

I love the Prowler, but this idea that you need a special piece of equipment for conditioning is bunk.
Unfortunately, we’ve learned to value exercises either by their novelty or their ability to produce soreness or fatigue. I’m not sure there are many sports or activities that you need to prepare for by either passing out or puking in training, but hey, while we’re lowering our testosterone levels, might as well find a way to crush our nervous and immune systems, too.
Want a really new exercise that no one is doing? It’s called sprinting.
The biomechanics of sprinting is essential to our basic mobility, but it’s also very much a “use it or lose it” skill. If you’re 27 and haven’t sprinted since high school, you need to get out to the field and start doing it. It’s slowly leaving you, every day – and that means you’re only racing faster toward the big dirt nap. (Maybe they should call being fat and sedentary a “suicide” instead?)
Notice I said “sprinting” not treadmill running, elliptical training, or texting your friend while you ride the recumbent bike. Each one of those pieces has castrated the thing we all need to make progress: impact. Oddly, biomechanists spend a whole lot of time trying to remove impact from our lives.

Lateral Raises vs. Shoulder Pressing

What’s more functional than pushing something heavy overhead? I’m all for the YMCA dance and whatever else we do with ten-pound dumbbells to activate our lower trap, but there’s nothing scary about a proper overhead press. It’s a fantastic way to challenge significant musculature and load the spine.
Yeah, these can bother you if you have poor mobility, strength, or movement issues, but what wouldn’t bother you in that case?

Pushdowns vs. Dips

Dips ruin the shoulders, right? That’s why I see countless athletes in my facility with fantastic physiques complaining about shoulder problems from performing dips up to one hundred times per week.
Oh wait, that’s right… I don’t. And by the way, some of these athletes are girls I call “gymnasties” that often out-chin and out-dip the guys.
Pushdowns are great, but strap a 100-pound dumbbell around your waist and see if you can replicate the tension at the cable station.

Planks vs. Spinal Flexion

In the last few years, bending forward at the waist has been under siege. The firefight is all over the internet, and although I’ve adopted many anti-rotation, anti-flexion, and anti-everything else exercises to stimulate the core, I admit I still throw in some spinal flexion. Somehow I’ve still produced pretty solid results.
I will agree that a poorly performed sit-up isn’t great for your back or neck, but you know what the absolute worst thing is for your back and neck? Sitting slumped over your desk surfing the internet for the latest plank variation.
Sit-ups aren’t the biggest problem – it’s sit-ting. Let’s figure out how to stop people from doing that before we figure out any more things we shouldn’t do.

Step-ups and Split Squats vs. Squats and Deadlifts

Step-ups and split squats are great exercises, but for building muscle they aren’t in the same league as squats and deadlifts. Tension wise, they don’t even come close. But because they’re less “scary” than the big lifts, they’re making a single-legged run at it.
Here’s the irony: because they’re unilateral, they also take twice as long to do, so people find them boring. So after a few weeks, nobody does anything. And then they sit in their chair and tell you to watch your back if you dare to deadlift?

Active Warm-Up vs. Static Stretching

Static stretching has been beaten down so hard it’s barely breathing. Dynamic flexibility during an active warm-up is a wonderful thing and something I personally use daily, but static stretching definitely has its place in training.
Just about everybody has dropped static stretching in favor of dynamic movement, but here’s the thing: dynamic flexibility during a warm-up is time consuming and sometimes complex, so many trainees simply skip it.
Now people are doing no flexibility training at all, and the result is they no longer have the mobility to squat or deadlift properly. So instead of performing some simple static stretches before performing the dynamic movements, we have immobile guys confined to doing planks on an Airex pad in the squat rack.
Stretch out, then warm-up, and then pick up something heavy!

80/20. Not 20/80.

Getting tension back into your workouts doesn’t mean you have to kill yourself or get injured. It means scaling things back so that most of the time you spend in the gym is doing stuff that’s actually productive.
The 80-20 rule never fails. If 80% of your time is spent straining under good old-fashioned barbells and dumbbells, with 20% spent doing pre-hab, rehab, and “potentiation work” then you’ll probably look more fit and have a handful of calluses.
If that split is more like 20-80, then you likely have a problem that includes veggie hotdogs, waxing, and a dream to someday fit into those damn skinny jeans.

TRAINING THE WHOLE BODY

straight-deadlift-483x300.jpg

Dumbbell Straight-Leg Deadlift

Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and hold them in front of your thighs, arms hanging straight down. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent (A). Without changing the bend in your knees, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor (B). Pause, then raise your torso back to the starting position.
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Dumbbell Plank and Row

Grab a pair of hex dumbbells with an overhand grip and assume a pushup position, your arms straight (A). Keeping your core stiff, balance your weight on your left arm as you pull the dumbbell in your right hand up to the side of your chest, bending your arm as you pull it upward (B). Pause, and then quickly lower the dumbbell. Repeat with your left arm.
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Dumbbell Front Squat

Stand and hold a pair of dumbbells so that your palms are facing each other and a dumbbell head is resting on the meatiest part of each shoulder (A). Keep your body as upright as you can at all times. Brace your abs and lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees (B). Don’t allow your elbows to drop down as you squat. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position.
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Dumbbell Push Press

Stand and hold a pair of dumbbells so that your palms are facing each other and the dumbbells are parallel to the floor (A). Keep your body upright as you bend slightly at the knees, then explosively push up with your legs as you press the dumbbells over your head (B). Pause, then lower the weights to the starting position.
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Dumbbell High Pull

Hold a pair of dumbbells just below the fronts of your knees with your palms facing your legs, your hips pushed back, and your knees slightly bent (A). With your back flat and arms straight, pull both dumbbells upward as fast as you can by thrusting your hips forward and explosively standing up (B). Keep the dumbbells as close to your body as possible and bring them up to shoulder height. (At the top of the movement, your elbows should angle out like you’re doing the funky chicken.) Return to the starting position.
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Cross Body Mountain Climber

Assume a pushup position with your arms completely straight (A). Lift your right foot off the floor, then bend your right knee and bring it up under your body, toward your left elbow, without changing the arch in your lower back (B). Lower your leg back to the starting position. Then raise your left foot off the ground and bring your left knee to your right elbow. Alternate back and forth until time is up.
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Alternating Split Jump

Stand in a staggered stance with your feet 2 to 3 feet apart, your left foot in front of your right. Keeping your torso upright, bend your legs and lower your body into a lunge position (A). At the bottom of the movement, your left thigh should be parallel to the ground, and your right thigh should be perpendicular to the ground. Now jump with enough force to propel both feet off the floor (B). While you’re in the air, scissor-kick your legs so you land with your right leg forward and your left leg behind you (C). Repeat, alternating your forward leg for the duration of the set.
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T Pushup

Grab a pair of hex dumbbells with an overhand grip and assume a pushup position, your arms straight (A). Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor (B). As you push yourself back up, lift your right hand and rotate the right side of your body as you raise the dumbbell straight up over your shoulder until your body forms a T (C). Reverse the move and repeat, this time rotating your left side.
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Dumbbell Row

Grab a pair of dumbbells, bend at your hips (don’t round your lower back), and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length, palms inward (A). Without moving your torso, row the weights upward by raising your upper arms, bending your elbows, and squeezing your shoulder blades together (B). Keep the dumbbells close to the side of your body at the top of the movement. Pause, lower the dumbbells, and repeat.

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Do this circuit 3 days a week. Perform 1 set of each exercise in succession.
Each set consists of doing the exercise as many times as you can in 30 seconds. Use only perfect form—it doesn’t count if you cheat, Mr. McGwire—and when your 30 seconds are up, give yourself 15 seconds to rest before moving on to the next exercise. Rest for 2 minutes after you’ve completed the entire sequence. Then repeat the whole process two more times for a total of 3 circuits per workout.

If you get tired and can’t continue exercising for the entire 30 seconds, stop and rest for a few seconds, and then resume performing reps until the time is up. For each exercise, you should start with a weight that you can use for 10 to 12 perfect reps.


By Stephen Perrine

The Right Sets for Strength and Size

By: Scott Quill
You’ve been told to listen to your body, learn its idiosyncrasies, embrace it like a friend. Don’t buy it. You can listen and learn, sure, but forget the friendly stuff. When it comes to muscle, you need to be less good buddy and more psychotic drill sergeant.

Keep your muscles off balance. When they get used to lifting a certain amount in a certain way (sound like your workout?), they stop growing. A weight-training program that never changes also creates strength imbalances; that’s unproductive and dangerous.

This doesn’t mean you have to master the incline behind-the-back modified Slovenian triceps windmill. Just do your usual exercises, but use different combinations of sets and repetitions.

What follows is a guide to different kinds of sets and how they produce different results, from trainer Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S., owner of workoutmanuals.com. Plug this into your weight training-program and see the surprised—and supersized—reaction you get from your muscles.

Straight Sets
What they are: The usual—a number of repetitions followed by a rest period, then by one or more sets of the same exercise.

Why they’re useful: The rest periods and narrow focus of straight sets help add mass and build maximal strength. As long as you rest enough between sets (1 to 3 minutes), your muscle, or group of muscles, will work hard two, three, even five times in a workout.

How to use them: The start of your workout is the best time to do straight sets, regardless of your experience level, Ballantyne says. Your energy and focus are high at the start, so it’s the best time to execute difficult moves. Perform three straight sets of six to eight repetitions of a challenging exercise like the bench press, pullup, or squat; aim to do the same number of repetitions in each set, with either the same or increasing amounts of weight.

Supersets
What they are: A set of each of two different exercises performed back-to-back, without rest.

Why they’re useful: Supersets save time and burn fat. You can multitask your muscles—for instance, working your chest and back in one superset and legs and shoulders in another. Lifting heavy weights in a short time period increases the rate at which your body breaks down and rebuilds protein. This metabolism boost lasts for hours after you’ve finished lifting.

How to use them: Insert a superset at any time in your workout. To involve the most muscles, pair compound exercises—moves that work multiple muscles across multiple joints. For example, combine a chest press with a row, or a shoulder press with a deadlift. To save more time, pair noncompeting muscle groups, such as your deltoids and glutes. One muscle group is able to recover while the other works, so you can repeat the set without resting as long.

Trisets
What they are: Three different exercises performed one after another, without any rest in between.

Why they’re useful: Trisets save time and raise metabolism. A single triset can be a total-body workout in itself, like our 15-minute workouts.

How to use them: Trisets are a good workout for at home (or in an empty gym), because you need to monopolize equipment for three exercises. Do basic exercises that hit different body parts—like bench presses, squats, and chinups. Perform a warmup set using 50 percent of the weight you usually use in each exercise. Then repeat the triset two or three times, using weights that allow you to perform eight repetitions per set. Rest 1 to 3 minutes after each triset.

Drop Sets
What they are: Three or four sets of one exercise performed without rest, using a lighter weight for each successive set. Also called descending sets or strip sets.

Why they’re useful: Drop sets are a great quick workout, fatiguing your muscles in a short time, getting your heart going, and giving you an impressive postworkout pump as your muscles fill with blood.

How to use them: Use drop sets when you’re pressed for time. Don’t do them more than three times a week; you’ll get so tired you won’t be able to accomplish much else. Start with a warmup, using 50 percent of the weight you expect to use in your first set. Now use the heaviest weight you’d use for eight repetitions of that exercise to perform as many repetitions as you can. Drop 10 to 20 percent of the weight and go again. Continue to reduce the weight and go again, always trying to complete the same number of repetitions (even though you won’t), until your muscles fail.

Circuit Sets
What they are: A series of exercises (usually six) that you complete one after another without rest, though you can do some cardiovascular work (such as jumping rope) between exercises.

Why they’re useful: When you use weights, circuits can be a great total-body workout. But they’re most valuable without weights as a warmup of the nervous system, joints, and muscles, Ballantyne says. Because a circuit stresses the entire body, it’s more effective than a treadmill jog, which primes only your lower body.

How to use them: You’ll annoy the other guys at the gym if you do an entire workout based on circuits, because you’ll monopolize so many pieces of equipment. But one circuit is quick and effective. If you’re using it as a warmup, you need only your body weight or a barbell. Or use just a pair of dumbbells and circuit-train at home where you won’t annoy anyone.

Wikio

How can I develop muscle definition and muscle tone? by Zuzana

Muscle tone refers to residual tension in a relaxed muscle and increases with cardio and resistance training.  Generally the stronger you get the harder your muscles will be. There are two methods that can be used to produce high tension in your muscles.
1) Lifting heavy weights (using maximal or near maximal loads) at low speed
2) Lifting moderate loads at high speeds – explosive movements
If you have high percentage of body fat that is covering your body,  you won’t be able to see muscle tone until you lose fat.
I am a big fan of circuit training with combination of high resistance training and cardio, that will save you time and  give you all the benefits of both styles to optimize muscle tone and fat loss.

Wikio

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