Monday, October 31, 2011

Superhero Update

4 Weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to be starting The Superhero Workout. Well, I just finished phase 1 on Friday and am ready to start Phase 2 today.

Gotcha, Sucka's.
Well, Phase 1 was pretty cool. It involved things that I had never really done before, in a style that I was unaccustomed to. I performed a lot of exercises with a very slow eccentric portion, and performed supersets of big compound exercises (snatch grip deadlift + bench press = FML). These big time supersets were also very long, going up to 10 sets each. I also performed 2 days of metabolic complexes, which is something that I have done before, but never for a whole month. I would generally perform barbell complexes on a day when I wanted to get some stuff done, but had no other plans. 

The other new thing, for me, was rotating 4 workouts between 3 days. This was pretty cool, as it gave each week a different look. It kept things from getting "boring" (not that I get bored with programs). It is a very cool idea, and I think I will try stuff like that with some of my own clients.

The aspect that I like for some clients is the same thing that I disliked as it pertains to myself. I was, frankly, a little uncomfortable with the fact that twice in this month I went a week with only 1 day of strength training. I understand the purpose; if I did a week with two days of strength training that both involved a 10x3 superset, my body would respond well to a follow-up week with only 1 day of training like that. However, it felt weird. And dirty. And not that in that good way, you know?

The Good Way.
With that being said, I noticed an interesting effect from the first month of training. I gained an inch or two or several while jumping. One of my, personal, gold standard tests for knowing where my body is at (strength, weigh, power:weight ratio) is by simply touching a basketball hoop. They are all 10 feet off the ground, and I always jump with a 3 step approach. (Yes, I understand this doesn't equal a standing vertical, thank you.) While playing volleyball the other night, I randomly took a jump at a rim, intending to grab it with one hand; which is something that has been consistently easy for me for a a long time. While on the way up, I realized how easy it felt, and instead grabbed the rim with two hands. When I landed, one of my buddies asked if I'd always been able to do that. I told him that I've been able to do it, but only off and on. He noted how easy it looked this time, and I agreed. It was pretty easy. 

I was surprised at how easy it felt, mainly because I didn't feel like I got significantly stronger over the last month. The workout that involved the snatch grip deadlift's did not really improve (the weights felt easier, but I never got some comfortable as to increase weights), but the squat workout did. I actually loved the squat workout, for the first time in my life. I felt like I made some good improvements in the weights I moved on that day. 

Finally, here are my before and after pics for month 1. 

Beginning Phase 1

Beginning Phase 2.
Didn't go full body this time. Don't think it matters. Seems like my chest and shoulders are a little fuller. Abs are considering making an appearance. I'm also suddenly noticing a pretty significant asymmetry between my right and left shoulders. In both pictures my left shoulder is hiking and my right shoulder seems relaxed. Interesting.

Have a great day! I'm off to lift some heavy you should be too!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is this the dumbest thing ever?

So, I recently read about this personal trainer who was purposefully making himself fat so that he could then lose the weight.

Is this man a genius? Or is he a complete tool? I'm not quite sure.

From an industry standpoint, he has done a great job of getting himself out there. People all over the country know who he is now. No one knows if he is a good trainer or not, but Jillian Michaels and Tracy Anderson have proved that you don't need to know shit about shit to be a famous celebrity trainer. From a purely commercial standpoint, his experiment has been a success. He will, certainly, achieve his weight loss goal. He has, apparently, already made fitness his career choice, and as such has the knowledge and intrinsic motivation to get back in shape. 

So, what does that prove? That someone who is in great shape can purposefully let themselves get fat, and then get back in shape? No shit, Sherlock.

From a marketing perspective, I'm very impressed with this guy. What a great job he has done of getting his name and face out there. But, teach us something new, bro. At least when Dave Tate was fat for a few decades, he could squat 935 pounds. He un-did a lifetime of bad eating and is now shredded. 


I'd say he experienced some pretty significant body composition changes. 

Fat personal trainer, good job with the marketing. I can't knock your hustle. But, teach us something more while you're doing it.

I'm going to go continue to keep myself from getting fat in the first place, by lifting some heavy shit.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blowing minds. That's what I do.

Recently, during a session with one of my favorite regulars, I was introduced to a concept that I had no previous knowledge of. It's called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Go read the link, I'll wait...

Not me. Although I was a fat little kid.
Done? Understand it? For those of you who chose to skip reading the link, or don't understand it, the Dunning-Kruger effect says that dumb people can be too dumb to know that they are dumb. Thus, they will go on believing that they are the tits and never seek help to alleviate their dumbness. (I'm paraphrasing). Pretty interesting concept. I wasn't quite sure of how it applied to my own life, but it came to me when I was walking Lexi today (I do a lot of my thinking when walking her). Prepare to have your mind blown...

...the Dunning-Kruger effect has an abnormally high predominance in commercial gym's!

Boom. Laser show. That just happened. Think of the large number of ass-clown's you see roaming your gym every time you go to get a lift in. The guy that continues doing his "bodybuilding" split routine, even though he has lost muscle mass and gained fat over the last 8 months. The woman who is only lifting 3 pound dumbbells because Tracy (vomit) Anderson said so. The guy benching while wearing sunglasses. (Yup, that happened in my gym the other day.) The hordes and hordes of people who think squats and deadlifts are bad for your back. 

The masses. The herds. The multitudes of people who know absolutely nothing about training, yet assume they know what is best for them. Do you do the work on your car by yourself, even though you don't even know where the oil pan is? Or do you bring it to a mechanic? The last time your laptop shit the bed, did you try and take it apart on your own, or did you bring it back to the Mac store and let those Genius Bar nerds take care of it? Of course you sought professional help in both those situations.


You can buy a new car or a new laptop. You only get the one body, though. Please, ask someone for some advice! When I take a look at my client roster, Dunning-Kruger seems very accurate. All of my clients are very intelligent, self-aware, successful people. People who understand when they need help with something outside their scope of abilities. 

The guys in the weight room who will never ask me for help? The same guys who think they look cool lifting in sunglasses. The same guys who don't realize they are far too skinny to be wearing an Under Armour compression shirt. The same guys who think they are looking at their abs in the mirror, when they are really seeing their large intestine. I've been questioning for a few years why these people just continue to grind away without asking for help. Dunning-Kruger explained it very well. They truly believe they know much more than they do about exercise and training. They rate their ability, and probably their physiques, as above average. 

Now, that I've identified this problem. It's time to come up with a solution. But, for now, I'm going to go beat myself up with some 10x3 squats! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Warming it up

You stroll in the gym. Swipe your membership card. The Front desk girl says "Hey!!" You give her a wink and a masculine "hey". You realize she was talking to the guy behind you with the sweet graphic tee. You get embarrassed and make a mental note to buy that t-shirt. Walk to the locker room. Take a leak. Look in the mirror and think about how great you will look when you 1) get that Affliction t-shirt 2) get some muscles to fill it out. Hair is all good for the gym bunnies? Check.

You stroll into the weight room and survey the landscape. Hey, one of the personal trainers is working out; the tall, unconventionally handsome Hapa guy with the cannonball delts. What the shit is he doing? Why is he walking back and forth kicking his legs and stretching like that? While wearing a hoodie? Squats with a broomstick over his head? Fucking weirdo. 

What am I doing today? Chest or arms? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiet, why not do both. Go big or go home, right? Gotta wait a minute for that bench. Time to swing your arms back and forth across your chest, now stretch your triceps overhead. Good? Get on the bench, do an empty bar set. Feeling great. Let's throw on 135 and start repping it out. Seriously? You've been here for 20 minutes and that trainer is just starting to work out now? Why is he loading up a barbell on the floor? How is he going to bench press like that? WHOA WHOA WHOA...why is he just picking it up like that? OH MY GOD HE IS DOING A DEADLIFT!! Time to go tell the management about this.

Does this sound like you when you go to the gym?

Well, maybe that is being a little extreme. But, if that is how you approach your time in the gym, it is really time to get your head out of your ass. You wouldn't start your car and immediately try and go 100 miles per hour, would you? Why do it with your body then?

The warm-up is as integral a part of working out as the actual lift. If I don't warm up properly before a lift, there isn't a chance in hell that I am going to be able to lift anywhere near my capabilities. Yes, my warm-up does take almost 20 minutes, and by the end of it I am usually sweating pretty profusely. How do I spend so much time warming up?

Foam Rolling (about 5 minutes).
Dynamic stretching (depending on how I'm feeling that day, I'll go through anywhere from 6-10 stretches. This can take about 10 minutes.)
Mobility work (mostly thoracic spine and scapular stuff, about 5 minutes worth).

Even after that, I take a while before I get to my working weight for whatever lift I am performing. If I'm going to be working at 225x3 for the squat that day, I will do an empty bar set (or 2) of 8-10 reps, a set at 95 lbs for 6-8 reps, a set at 135 for 3-5 reps, a set at 185 for 3 reps, a set at 205/215 for 3 reps. Then I will be ready to lift. I remember reading something once where a coach said "unless you're going to be working at 405, you have no business starting at 135" (paraphrased).

The reasoning? You're just not that strong. Why do you think elite athletes spend so much time on the field/court warming up before a game? It reduces the chances of injury and prepares their body to work at it's maximum capability. You may not be an elite athlete, but if it works for them it will certainly work for you.

Your next question should be "how do I do this?" Well, let me allow someone else explain foam rolling.

This is a pretty comprehensive walk-through for foam rolling from Coaches Cressey and Gentilcore. I guess they are pretty smart. Simple, easy, effective. It's going to hurt like a bastard the first time you do it. Remember, you need to experience pain before you can grow (this seems to hold true for all aspects of life).

Now, for the dynamic warm up. I'll let a very exuberant Todd Durkin take you through an extremely comprehensive series.

In terms of mobility drills...well, that is on a person by person basis. I find I need much more work on my thoracic spine than my hips/ankles, so I focus on that much more. Most people will want to focus their attention on their scapula's, thoracic spine, hips and ankles. Now, unfortunately, I can't put up all of the drills you should be doing. But you can find videos for nearly all of them.

Scaps - Scapula Wall Slide, pushup position scap retractions, doorway slides and resistance band pull aparts and forearm wall slides.

T-spine - thoracic extensions on rolle, bench extensions, side lying windmills, quadruped extension/rotation and the yoga plex.

Hips - Spidermans with overhead reach, leg swings, doggie drills, Wall Hip Flexor Mobs and the elevated warrior stretch.

Ankles - knee break ankle wall mobs, knee break ankle mobs with toes elevated, any stretch you can use for your calves.

Look them up. Give them a shot, one at a time. Find out where you really need added mobility (read: everywhere) and start working on it. In order to get bigger, stronger and faster you need to get mobile, agile and hostile.

Try it out next time you go lift something heavy!

p.s. go buy Show and Go for 50% off. I was one of the guinea pigs for this program, and I can attest to its efficacy. You won't regret it!

Before Show and Go

After Show and Go

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Diet changes.

As I've written about before, I don't approach my eating "scientifically". I don't keep track of my grams of protein, percentages of monounsaturated fats or the timing of my carbs. For better or for worse, I don't like eating like that. I use a more holistic, natural view on diet. I eat my carbs early, I have protein at every meal, I try to eat lots of fruit and when I have veggies at dinner I eat an absurd amount.

Random things that I have read recently have lead to me making some changes in the foods I eat. One of the biggest things that I have changed is using full fat dairy products. I buy organic whole milk to use in my coffee and protein shakes and I switched back to real full-fat butter. The taste is so much richer that I use a lot less of it when compared to margarine or olive oil spread. 

The reason? Well, it tastes a lot better. Full fat dairy products aren't whats making you fat. The fat in red meat isn't what is making you fat. Egg yolks are one of the last things you should be worrying about. These are real foods that real people have been eating for a long, long time. I'm trying to make myself enjoy the way sugar tastes in my coffee so that I can switch away from the fake stuff.

Quite blaming stuff that came from a direct source. You can start to point your finger at the sausage egg and cheese breakfast sandwich you got at Dunkin' Donuts. 

"Oh, but it was on a whole grain low calorie flat bread!"

Bah! No food at DD's is "healthy". They have choices that are better than other products they serve, but please do not mistake any of it for being healthy. 

Stop worrying about real food. Cooking a steak isn't eating poorly. Making your own grilled chicken wings isn't bad for you. A potato doesn't equal an order of french fries. White rice isn't a dirty word.

Eat things that come from the earth, and you'll do just fine. Oh yeah, and pick up something heavy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Side effect of training.

So, as of late, I have noticed a pretty interesting side effect to my training regime. It's not something that is unique to me, and I have noticed it before, but really just put some thought into it for the first time.

The first thing I noticed was how much frigging laundry I have to do every week. Between school, work, working out and playing volleyball I go through a lot of damn clothes. 

Like, A LOT.

It has also caused me to realize how many workout clothes I own. The pile of cutoff shirts, Under Armor compression shorts, basketball shorts and black crew socks is astounding. Really, it's almost embarrassing how high a percentage of my clothes are meant to be worn in the gym. 

The other thing I notice every time I get on a good, consistent training program is what an absurd amount of food I can eat. I know, it holds true for everybody when they are working out a lot; but I can pack away some serious food. I was always an "eater" to begin with (at least that's what my Mom called me when I was a fat little kid). But, now, at 190 pounds of Alpha Male I am basically an empty pit for food. I am usually thinking about my next meal while I am finishing the current one. 

The fact that I really go out of my way to try and eat cleanly just compounds the amount of food that I eat. Do you know how much baby green salad can go into your body? Quite a bit. Eating cleanly also becomes a bit of a problem simply because of cost; it has really taught me the value of shopping smart, and poaching stuff from your parents house when I go home for the weekend. (Just kidding Dad...ha...)

After some careful thought, I think I figured out a way to kill two birds with one stone...

Do your laundry, and then go lift something heavy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Creating Change

Everybody wants to change something in their life. I'm hard pressed to think of somebody that has no need to change some aspect of their life. Whether its physical (get stronger, lose weight), emotional (get over somebody), or mental (getting past a fear). We all have something we want to change.

Well, how come so few of us are able to make those changes?

Because change sucks, that's why. Nobody likes change. It's not fun and it's hard work. It is much easier to keep doing what you're doing, to stay on the path of least resistance. To settle. People get into a rut, it's human nature. We all do it, whether we like it or not.

A rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out.

How do we go about creating change, then? For starters, you need to WANT to do it. There needs to be an intrinsic motivation that says "It's time to make something happen." There can be an external stimulus, but in the end the motivation has to come from within you. No one else can tell you it's time to change...well, they can try, but it won't have any meaning to you until you are ready. 

Change takes change, is a saying I like to use often. The first few weeks of a diet and exercise program is probably going to feel like shit if you've never done it before. You know what though? It gets easier. I swear to God. It becomes a new habit, a healthy habit. 

You're ready to change now? Good. You're going to need some strategies. For starters, get with like-minded people. If the people you normally hang out with have only seen the inside of a gym on The Biggest Loser, then hang out with some different folks. Similarly, if your social circle revolves around trying out the newest buffet and sitting at a bar crushing beers a few nights a week, you might want to find a social group with some slightly better habits. "A's get with A's", as the saying goes. If you want to be successful, you need to surround yourself with successful people. 

Make a plan. Whatever your goal is, planning will help. If its a health/fitness goal, seek some professional help. Talk to some of the trainers at your local gym and see what they can do for you. All it takes is a nudge in the right direction to get things going. Make your goals known, tell people what you have going on. If you want to deadlift 405 by Christmas, tell everyone on Facebook. Make it a public goal; you'll be much more motivated to make it happen then. 

At the end of the day, you really just need to decide to make the change. It takes a while. Like I said, it's not easy. But you will be better off once you change that bad habit.

Form a good habit right now: go to the gym and pick up something heavy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Where there's a will, there's a way.

Will power.

What does those words mean to you? 

Most people will automatically think of food. Desserts, specifically. Yummy ice cream. Sweet, frosted cupcakes. Moist delicious cakes. 

"Oh, I can't eat healthfully, I have no will power."

"My will power is so bad, I can never say no, I love food too much!"

Well, no shit. Who doesn't love food? Ask anyone who really knows me; I LOVE good food. I have always been very appreciative of a very well made meal, regardless of how healthy it was or not. Lasagna, clam chowder, apple pie, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese. These are a few of my favorite thiiiiiiiiiiiiings!!

I've come up with a new definition for will-power. (Well, it's new to me.)

Will-power = Desire + Determination

Basically, you won't do something if you don't want to. That's the desire part. No matter how often Dr. Oz tells you that you need to eat green leafy veggies and cut out the sweets, you're not going to actually do it unless you want to. Intellectually, you know that you should be eating kale instead of tater tots. But you're going to do what you want regardless. 

Once you've made up your mind to do something, you've actually gotta be determined to see it through. You've made up your mind to eat more healthfully, but when push comes to shove are you really willing to eat the bison steak and baby spinach, or are you going to make chicken alfredo? People will say lot's of things to make themselves feel better. 

The human mind is an amazing machine, it can literally work wonders. Yet, some of the smartest people I know claim to not be strong enough to avoid ice cream and chicken parmesan. How is that possible? I think it's really just because they don't see the benefit yet, so they don't want to try. A lot of people have never seen the physical success that a clean diet and exercise program can bring. Especially younger people who have yet to gain the extra poundage that a few years behind a desk and at happy hour can add on.

Will power doesn't just refer to food, either. Everything takes determination. The determination to NOT go to a bar on a weeknight. The determination to turn off your TV and do your homework. The determination to get out of bed 15 minutes earlier so that you have time to eat a real breakfast. These are all things that you won't do unless you want to do them. 

What it comes down to, is I don't think will power is an intrinsic behavior, it's learned. Think of the people you know with "great" will power.  These people just want it more. Whatever the goal is, these people want it, and are wiling to do what they need to achieve it. I have pretty good will power, I know how to avoid things that tempt me. Why is it worth it to me to avoid these things? Because I know that in the long run, it will be better for me. I'm able to see the big picture. Now, if we could just get everybody to see that picture. 

Even if you can't see that picture yet, take my word for it. Go lift something heavy and eat some kale. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Take a moment.

I was lucky enough to spend Columbus Day Weekend on Cape Cod at my family's seasonal home. Everyone else left Monday night, and I stayed until Tuesday morning. I woke up just before 8 and made a pot of coffee while I played with the dog.

I made my cup of coffee and went onto the back deck. I stood there for about 10 minutes, steaming mug of coffee in hand, sun shining on my face, birds chirping. I was happy. I didn't quite meditate, but it was a great 10 minutes spent without thinking about anything. Turned off my mind. Nothing mattered for a minute: not school, work, my training, family, friends or girls. It was a nice moment of emptiness, as close to "zen" as I get.

I was lucky enough to have a weekend full of these moments; standing at the edge of the ocean fishing, sitting on the back deck looking at the moon. But it is something that most people seem to be missing in their lives. We are always on the go, always connected, always trying to get something finished.

If people could figure out a way to give themselves a moment or two every day, or every few days, where they just shut everything off and let their mind stay empty, I think people could create some pretty powerful changes in their lives. Things get put into perspective. That work email probably didn't need to be responded to at 11:30 at night. That girl that didn't call you back is the one missing out.

Please, take a minute to relax that doesn't involve a computer, phone or television. Get lost in a book, go look at the moon, see what things sound like when Two and a Half Men isn't on in the background.

And, of course, pick up something heavy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Body Issue 2011

Just recently, ESPN put out its annual Body Issue; an issue of their magazine dedicated to showcasing a bunch of athletes sans clothing.

Alicia Sacramone. Let's deadlift together?
I look forward to this issue every year. Why? I think it is an amazing way to show the general public (especially women) what your body is capable of looking like if you forget about aesthetics and focus on getting strong. What do all of these athletes have in common? They are all at or near the top of their respective sports. They all train their bodies to be strong, mobile and resilient. I'm willing to bet that none of these people spend their time on the Cybex Circuit when they go to the gym. They sure as hell aren't spending 45 minutes on the Arc Trainer trying to burn 350 calories.

Take a look at the women in this issue; not a single one among them are "big and bulky". Every one of them is a prime example of what a strong sexy female looks like. I applaud them.

Hope Solo
How do they train? Well, I'm not their trainer so I can't say for sure. But I'm pretty confident that they spend quite a bit of their time with a barbell or dumbbell in their hands, throwing medicine balls, sprinting and pushing or dragging weight sleds.

Yes, you can make the case that these elite level athletes are genetically different than you or I are. They have certain physiological attributes that make them elite. Too, their job is to train and be in amazing shape. You might be saying "well, if those are the differences, why should I bother training like them?" Training like a bodybuilder is no different, their lives also revolve around their training and eating. And steroids. Copious amounts of steroids. Why do I see so many Joe Schmoe's at the gym doing endless sets of bicep curls and tricep kickbacks then? 

Using compound exercises and sprints gets results. You gain muscle, lose fat and change your body composition. With the proper mobility work, you'll move and feel better too. That sounds good, doesn't it?

For the guys out there saying "Oh, well those elite level female athletes aren't very big", I suggest checking out St. Louis Ram's running back Stephen Jackson and deciding if hypertrophy is possible from a steady diet of strength and power training.

Beast Mode
Yeah...that's what I thought. Get strong and good things will happen to your body.

Go do your deadlifts, please.

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Ways to get Beastly

Haven't done one of these posts in a while, so I figured it was time! Today's exercise is courtesy of Dave Tate, the owner of EliteFTS and well known strength coach...although I suspect he isn't the guy who invented it.

What it is: Floor Flopping

Why it is sick: It means you just worked your ass off. A set of Floor Flops is a surefire way to know that you just gave your training session everything you had in you. Generally, Floor Flops are preceded by a lower body compound exercise or a total body exercise (squats, deadlifts, cleans/snatches, sled pushes, sprinting, etc). We sure aren't talking about leg extensions and bicep curls here, folks. It is pretty rare, but possible I suppose, to induce Floor Flops from upper body work; maybe push presses. The best cues to remember when doing the Floor Flop? Make sure you stay away from moving parts; try to stay out of peoples way; stay down until the room stops spinning; if you end up puking, you have to clean it up yourself. 

As a precaution, don't force the Floor Flop. You don't wanna be "that guy". You'll know when it's time. 

Now, I've got a monster of a squat workout ahead of me today...chances are good I'll work some floor flops in! Go lift something heavy!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Dirty Little Secret of Personal Training

There is a little trick that a lot of personal trainers use with their clients, and I am going to let you in on it.

Its called smoke and mirrors. Trickery. Deception. Chicanery. Bullshit, so to speak.

No, they don't do it maliciously. They do it in an effort to keep their clients interested. They do it because, otherwise, their session's lack substance. A lot of personal trainers find it extremely difficult to get results with their clients; for multiple reasons. If you only train someone once or twice a week you essentially only getting them for 2 hours per week; whatever they do with the other 166 hours each week is up to them. The biggest reason for most trainers is their lack of skill. It's possible to get clients to improve with only a few hours per week, but you have to approach it correctly. You can't get someone to become stronger, leaner and bigger all at the same time in just 2 hours per week.

One of the biggest tricks I see trainers pull with their clients is using excessively complex exercises. A complex exercise is one that combines several exercises into one. Example: reverse lunge with  bicep curl to step-up with overhead press...on a Bosu ball...with a resistance band around your waist...and a live chipmunk in your pocket...while yodeling. Sounds fun, right? Use it with a client and watch them get dominated by the exercise. For an average person, the level of coordination needed will be a drain; added to the metabolic demand necessitated by an exercise that uses so many big muscle groups.

But what does it do? Nothing, really. An exercise with this many moving parts is going to be limited by the weakest exercise. In this instance, the client will probably be weakest in the bicep curl. Thus, they will be lunging, stepping and overhead pressing a super sub-maximal weight. So, you take 4 exercises and add them together to create one big exercise that is not challenging to anyone besides a beginner and is instantly limited in the amount of weight used, thus negating any potential benefits.

One of the sneaky reasons that a trainer will use these exercises is because it will make the client feel like they will be unable to do their workouts without the trainer. "Ooh, he knows so many fancy exercises I've never even heard of! I can't recreate a single thing we did together! He must be the tits!" This is how a shitty trainer gets/keeps clients. These guys have "new and exciting workouts all the time! Every session is different!" Unfortunately, these new and exciting workouts never amount to anything because they don't follow the basic principles of strength training. Sure, you burn a bunch of calories while you're doing it, but you could get the same metabolic effect by doing 15 minutes of intervals on the spin bike.

Another tactic is to use these overly complex and difficult exercises with someone who is brand new to working out, so that they get crushed. Then, the awful trainer will start in with the old "see what awful shape you're in? You NEED me!" These are clients that should be starting off with the basic/classic exercises: bodyweight squats, lunges pushups, etc and plenty of metabolic work.

It is much more difficult for a trainer to sell clients on a steady diet of squats, deadlifts, pressing and bodyweight exercises. Theres nothing sexy about that. People tend to think that those are things they can do on their own (p.s. they DON'T do them on their own). They also tend to think that they are "too easy" and that they have grown beyond them. Really? Grown beyond deadlifts? Some would say its impossible to outgrow an exercise: can you out-deadlift Andy Bolton? Have you plateaued? Then you haven't outgrown the lift. Just frigging do it.

I totally support going to see a fitness professional if you need some help getting in shape; but be wary of the people who are trying to lure you in with bells and whistles. If you don't mesh with someone, it's ok, try someone else. If they are a professional, they won't get butthurt about it. Stick to what works: the basics.

Go to the gym, do the basics....lift something heavy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What's stopping you?

You have goals; we all have goals. Rather, we should all have goals. So what's stopping you from achieving them? I don't mean just fitness goals, but every goal in your life is relatable. The job you want, the grades you want, the girl(guy) you want; there are common denominators (Dad, I used "common denominator" in a blog!) when it comes to achieving these goals.

In my experience, the obstacle that most often stands in someone's way of reaching their goal is themselves. People have too many damned excuses and distractions in today's world. There is always a "reason" for not doing something that you know you should be doing. When someone really focuses in on aspect of their lives, other aspects take a hit. A friend recently posted this on her Facebook page:  
The Dalai Lama was asked what surprised him the most; he said, "Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.".
How true are those words? People crush themselves and destroy their health every day in order to "get ahead" at work. I respect that, I'm never going to bash on someone for having big time work ethic. But where is the balance? People spend all their time at their desk in the office, and wonder why they haven't met anybody. They spend all their time bent over their computer and wonder why their health has gone to shit. 

People love to procrastinate, too.

"Oh, I'll go sign up for the gym tomorrow."

"I'll update my resume this weekend, the game is on now."

"I'll talk to her next time I see her at a bar."

Why not right now? What, you can't catch the recap of the game on Sports Center 19 times? Is her response going to be different next week than it would be today? People are so scared of failure today that they never ever try. Not trying is worse than failing; you never even gave yourself a chance. Wanna know a secret? 


Every-fucking-body has failed numerous times in their life. Your parents, your sister, your boss, your friends, your personal trainer. Everybody has failed to meet a goal at some point in their life. It makes us human. You are not a unique or beautiful snowflake; you're not the first person to come up short. Failing isn't the important part; it's how you come back from that failure that shows what you're really made of. Are you going to roll over and die, or bust your ass to get better?

Hell, I've failed more times than I would like to admit to. You know what? I'm gonna keep trying. I always repeat this saying to myself: "Every day, and in every way, I get better and better."

It really means a lot to me. There is always some way in which I can improve myself over the day before. Figure out a better health behavior change strategy for a client; walk Lexi more; drink more water; help and old lady cross the street while on my way to saving a baby from a burning tree.

Stop being worried about failing. Start your diet and exercise program. Apply for the job you want. What's the worst thing that happens if you talk to that girl you've been pining after? She says no? She pepper sprays you in the face? Whoop-dee-frigging-doo!

I know I've posted this video before, but it's too good to not re-visit. If this doesn't make you simultaneously feel like a huge waste of space / want to go crush your day, then nothing will. I'm going to watch this, and then go try to blow up a lung with some Barbell Complexes. Enjoy.

Be better than yesterday.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I'm human.

I'm not perfect, I'm fallible just like everyone else. I have bad habits and vices too. Everyone does. The difference is the way in which we deal with those bad habits and vices. Some people call this will-power, I call it discipline. I note a subtle difference between these two. People will often cite not having will-power a reason to eat like shit, as if they are innately drawn to bad food choices. That is a bullshit excuse, and we all know it. You are not naturally drawn to stuff like that, you're just too soft mentally to have the discipline to say "yeah, I'm going to eat grilled chicken and baby greens tonight instead of a steak bomb."

Every once in a while, though, I give in. My goal is to not give in very often, so that when I finally do I enjoy the SHIT out of whatever it is that I am succumbing to. If you decide that you're gonna have a cheat meal, you might as well cheat like a mo'fugga, right?

So, what are my vices? Things that I know are bad for me, but I continue to partake in every once in a while? There aren't a lot, but they are significant. 

First off, I really really really really really like Coke. (The soda, you clown.) This is the one I give in to most often; two or three times per week probably. This is an enormous decrease from the amount I drank when I weighed 235 pounds. Hm...I was fat when I drank 6 cans of soda every night? Thats weird. 

After that, my vices get much easier to ignore. I love beer; it is delicious and serves many purposes. I don't usually drink beer unless there is someone around to drink it with. There are some foods that just require a good beer or a cold coke. That's just how it is. I also smoke cigars every now and again; but really pretty rarely, not even once a month. 

I like sweets, but I don't consider them a vice. I don't keep any in my house, so I don't have an issue with discipline. However, when I go home to my parents' house I have a HUGE issue. Mom keeps ice cream in the freezer and Oreo's on the counter. I become a mindless grazer; I walk by the cookie jar and grab one...then I walk by later and grab another...and another. The only reason I don't count this as a vice is because I don't spend a huge amount of time at my folk's house. 

I guess my only other vice is coffee...however, this isn't a vice so much as a necessity. I have long days. Classes start early, work ends late. I need to be alert during a session at 7 p.m., so I grab a cup of liquid pep. I'm not a guy who drinks 10 cups of coffee in a day, but I really couldn't tell you the last time that I went a full day without coffee. If coffee is what ends up killing me, then I didn't have a chance to begin with.

What are your vices? What is something that you just CAN'T say no to? Identify what they are, and develop a strategy to avoid that bad habit. Love ice cream? Don't keep it in the house. Smoke a cigarette every time you smell one? Stay away from the bars! One of the biggest strategies to avoiding a particular habit is to not cut it out 100% (unless it's a dangerous habit, like hugging badgers). If you LOVE ice cream, then have ice cream once in a while. Just make sure its really good goddamn ice cream! Switch bad habits with good ones; every time you want a cigarette, do 10 pushups. 

Be honest with yourself, then go pick up something heavy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Get rid of the pain of being a man, by becoming a Beast.

So, today marks Day 1 of The Superhero Workout that I will be doing for the next couple of months. It was written by John Romaniello and Matt McGorry; two pretty well known names in the fitness world. The main point of this program is to get you to look, move and perform like the Superheroes we have read about in comics and seen in movies for years. Personally? I'm trying to look like Wolverine!

Beast Mode
I must admit, I'm pretty excited to start this program. It involves a lot of things that I don't do on my own; tempo lifts, slow eccentrics and lots of barbell complexes. These are all great techniques that I should be utilizing when training myself and my clients.

As I always do when starting a program, I took a before picture of myself for comparisons sake, and I must say, I'm not thrilled with what I look like right now.

Not a good look.
Not the best I've ever looked. "Doughy" is a word that comes to mind. I'm not particularly heavy right now, my percent body fat is still in a range that is acceptable to me, but I'm not doing very well with my lean body mass. 

Goals? My big goal with this program is aesthetics; I hope to be able to put some size on my upper body. I've always felt my chest lagged behind the rest of my upper body; don't know if it due to poor insertions, having broad shoulders, or just because I've always concentrated on being strong rather than looking good. Being that we are entering the fall/winter season here in New England, I'm not terribly worried about having visible abs. No one is seeing me naked anytime soon, so who cares? My diet is going to be geared towards putting on lean body mass, so I won't mind carrying a few extra pounds over the winter.

EDIT: I wrote the rest of this blog prior to working out. I just went and did Day 1. Holy shitballs. That was one of the hardest workouts I've ever done, I think. The first superset was 10 sets of Bench Press / Snatch grip deadlift. Holy crap. Both the volume and the eccentrics are going to toss me into a world of shit. You know you're doing it right when you're dizzy and feel like you're going to puke for the whole workout, and afterwards you hate life.

The lyrics to this song describe how I felt about today's workout. Give me more.