Leg Day 2.0

I had a sad, random thought today as I finished my second heavy squatting session of the week:

WHAT IF PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE IT’S OKAY TO HAVE MULTIPLE “LEG DAYS” IN ONE WEEK?

Obviously, I hope those of you that lift regularly are currently working on your lower body more than once a week. But, what I don’t think people realize is how it’s totally OKAY to perform the squat and deadlift twice a week.  If you feel like you are recovering nicely after these core lifts, you should definitely explore the idea. Your numbers will rise like they never have before.

BUT, with more work in the gym comes more work in the kitchen. Don’t neglect the fact that you will need to feed the beast! Eat more meals, more often. You shouldn’t be hungry. Always be thinking and strategizing of how you are going to get the beast’s next meal. Nutrition is far too often overlooked by people who have fitness goals. Workout as much as you want, but you aren’t getting very far without working hard in the kitchen.

Back to the legs…

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having 4 leg days throughout the week. Hell, squat AND deadlift in the same session! You will be surprised at how good you feel. If I am gone for the weekend, that is the approach I will have during the week to make sure I get my 2 squat and deadlift sessions in. I always squat first, as it is much more tasking on the central nervous system than the deadlift. The squat is obviously a more compromising movement, as well, so you don’t want to fudge around with trying to deadlift beforehand.

Through a 7-day lifting schedule, an ideal leg day spread would be:

Sunday: Squat

Tues: Deadlift

Saturday: Squat and Deadlift

In this case, your lower body days are going to be switched up each week. I, personally, don’t mind that at all. But, I know how some of you meatheads out there are OCD and you get your jocks in a bundle if your schedule if mixed up. If that’s you, you will have to figure out how to spread it evenly. You probably won’t be able to efficiently get 4 lower body days in, but that’s your problem!

One more thought:

Don’t worry so much about assistance exercises, especially with the lower body. I LOVE the glut-ham raise machine, and I spend a lot of time on it, but don’t go overkill. Assistance exercises are just that! Once a week for all of your favorites should suffice, especially if you’re squatting and deadlifting multiple times.

Lastly, switch it up every 6-8 weeks. Don’t go heavy for 6 months, or you will wreck yourself. Switch up assistance exercises, too. Keep the redundancy at a minimum!

Kill it.

Jared

Move to the beat of your own drum. 

Punishing Your Body, Part 1: Running

Ah running… the most widely practiced physical activity in the world with nearly two billion people jiggling their way to a body only a mother could love. From those staggering numbers it’s confirmed that we, as an industry, are not even close to where we need to be in terms of strength training frequency.

Let’s be honest, in 2015, it’s pretty damn hard to make CrossFit look like the less shitty alternative to an unsafe and ineffective form of training. Running wins this battle due to the punishment it delivers to your body with each successive step. Each leg pounds into the ground with the force of 4 times your body weight!

I don’t know about your country, but the American infrastructure wasn’t designed to withstand this kind of punishment. The streets deserve better.

Now, I read “Born to Run,” and still to this day it is one of my favorite books of all time. Loved it! It makes perfect sense. Our bodies were made to MOVE. Here is the problem: I don’t know one person that runs with form as good as the Tarahumara tribe, and when Americans aren’t running…they SIT. That’s the reality. That’s our working world, today.

I’ll be the first to admit I love hybrid endurance events and the challenge that they provide for myself. A sense of accomplishment engulfs me after every event. However, I’m not talking about marathons and half-marathons, here. I’m talking these new-found hybrid events such as Tough Mudders, combining strength, endurance, and pure grit. These events bring out the best in people, and it’s awesome to watch. I would never want people to stop participating in those because of injury. The problem lies within the training days leading up to the event.

It is not uncommon for me to have a new client come in and tell me that they are completely at a loss as to why their physical health is so horrible, and their body is just so weak. “Well, ‘Judy,’ what are you doing right now for activities?” — “I run almost every day, that’s why I don’t understand!” Hmmm….

Spinal stenosis, constant SI joint pain, hip pain, limited ankle mobility, stress fractures of the tibia…these are just a few of the issues that are common with “lifelong runners.” The biggest problems we run into with these people are with their spine. The amount of time people spend running with their subpar form causes problems in the SI joint and lower back. Pain in the sciatic nerve will erupt with vengeance if you run for many years with bad form.

In an attempt to save our roadways and orthopedic health, let’s take a deeper look into how running has continued to do absolutely nothing to eradicate the American obesity epidemic while adding to the ever-rising orthopedic dysfunction and injury rates plaguing our questionable medical system.

Running has single-handedly made the presence of pain the norm in an American society that’s struggling to be active. Up to 80% of runners are in pain on any given run, no matter the distance, intensity, or course. If you accept this statistic as “part of the game,” you’re just as much to blame as Phil Knight and the injury rainmakers over at Nike. Time to question your own beliefs and help evolve our poorly educated society, one runner at a time.

An ideal running stride is as rare as the thousand-pound squat. Just because you can run doesn’t mean you should. Without the ability to achieve proper biomechanics, your running is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Would you squat if you couldn’t keep from drawing attention from you atrocious form? I think not.

If you’re truly passionate about running, and it’s the only thing that provides an emotional release for you, that’s your prerogative! Just like anything else, try and use moderation. And for goodness sake, STRENGTH TRAIN! It’s just as good for your cardiovascular system and actually provides a benefit for the rest of your body, instead of deteriorating it! Need to lose weight? Running isn’t the only answer. Hit the elliptical and put on some lean mass by moving weights! The elliptical won’t beat down your body like the treadmill, and resistance training will add lean mass that is essential for raising your metabolic rates and sustaining any weight loss that you achieve.

There are a few fitness “trends” that punish our body, but running takes the cake.

Stay tuned for Punishing Your Body, Part 2.

Jared

Move to the beat of your own drum. 

Body-Water Manipulation: Getting a “lean” look

This post would normally be geared towards physique and bodybuilding athletes. But, since I’m probably not reaching many of those with these posts at this point in my career…I’m going to hope it can be applied to someone who is hitting the beach sometime soon, and is feeling like our ancestors have doomed their body into packing on some body insulation for the winter months.

Let’s be honest with ourselves: If there was a way to look your absolute best while on your Christmas vacation getaway on the beaches of sunny Florida, we would all want to know the secret. Right? Well, what if there was a way?

Bodybuilders, fitness athletes, and weight classed athletes are masterful manipulators of fluid balance in the body. In the case of physique athletes, water manipulation enhances the appearance of muscularity. By reducing extracellular fluids, less water rests between skeletal muscles and the skin; the muscles appear more prominent and the body appears leaner.

Although not all of us are considered “athletes,” this doesn’t mean we can’t follow the general guidelines to get the leanest and most aesthetically pleasing look out of our bodies. Be sure to note that this is NOT a permanent look you are shooting for here. You are simply going for what bodybuilders are going for leading up to a competition. They have to impress the judges, you just want to impress…well, everyone, I guess.

The prep starts 8 days out (so, maybe some of you are 8 days away from being on a beach? I do understand this post should have been done earlier, and I apologize.).

Day 1 and Day 2: 

1. Double your water intake. If you’re drinking 32oz a day on the regular, drink 64oz today. This process of increased water intake leads to an increase in urinary fluid losses.

Continue this until Day 3.

Days 3, 4, 5, AND 6:  

1. Double your water intake AGAIN. Now, you’ll drink 4 times your normal intake. If you started at 32oz, you’ll now drink 128oz.

2. Decrease your carbohydrate intake. For most people, this means eating around 50-100 grams of carbohydrate per day. By doing this, you’ll begin to lose muscle glycogen as well as 3-4 grams of water per gram of glycogen lost.

3. Increase sodium intake by actively salting your meals and/or even adding small amounts of salt to your drinking water. By doing this, you’ll trigger your system to start actively excreting lots of both salt and water.

Continue this until Day 7.

Day 7: 

1. Drop your water intake fourfold. For example, if you’re now taking in 128oz per day, drop back to 32oz. Since the body has grown accustomed to excreting large amounts of fluid, and adjustments take a few days to catch up, this sudden drop means a negative water balance. In essence, you’ll be temporarily dehydrating the body by forcing it to lose more water than it takes in.

2. Increase your carbohydrate (CHO) intake. For most, this means eating two to four times what they have been eating for the last few days. So, if you’ve been eating 50-100 grams of CHO per day, increase your intake to 200-400 grams. By doing this, your body will supercompensate muscle glycogen stores, filling out the muscles with stored glycogen as well as drawing some water into the intracellular spaces. This means that you’ll look more muscular and leaner at the same time.

3. Finally, decrease sodium intake by avoiding all sodium. Cut all extra salt out of your diet and avoid foods higher in sodium. The body has become accustomed to excreting large amounts of sodium. It will temporarily continue this. The sodium leaving the body, will draw additional water from the body.

Day 8: AKA 24 hours until “contest”

1. Drop your water intake again by 50%. For example, if you’re now drinking 32oz per day, drop down to 16oz per day. This second drop will ensure that additional water is lost from the body as excretion rates should still be high.

2. Maintain your increased CHO intake, further filling up muscle glycogen and drawing any remaining extracellular fluid into your intracellular spaces.

3. Keep your sodium low.

4. Continue this for 24 hours or so.

Please Remember: This prep is meant for physique athletes, and immediately after final judging, these athletes will load up with any and all kinds of food, and will hydrate their body. DO NOT continue this final stage for any longer than 24 hours. You will dehydrate your body too extensively and will begin to feel week and possibly nauseous. So, please don’t be naive and think you can continue the final stage and continue to look and feel better and better. That’s not how this works. Enjoy that day or two looking your best on the beach.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Jared

Move to the beat of your own drum.

Top 4 Reasons YOUR ‘Diet’ Is Not Working

Dieting necessarily implies some form of restriction – normally starting with some sort of calorie suppression. The truth is, most dieters take the restriction a little too far – a combination of too few calories and too many foods on the forbidden list.

Ironically, the U.S. is the most diet-obsessed country in the world, yet we are also the most obese. The National Weight Control Registry reports that we spend a grand total of $20 billion a year on the diet industry (books, drugs, products, and surgeries), with approximately 108 million people on a diet in the U.S. at any given moment.

While there are a multitude of socioeconomic, technological, and environmental factors that contribute to this alarming rate, the truth is that when it comes to fat loss, we humans are fighting an uphill battle from the get-go. Our bodies were not designed to subsist on a food-deprived state. By embarking on crash diets, then, we fire up the biological and psychological mechanisms that protect against starvation and incline us, ultimately, to more weight gain.

Here are 4 big mistakes people make when dieting:

1. You don’t consume enough protein.

Of the three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fats – protein is the most important when it comes to muscle retention while on a diet. Dietary protein also has a high effect on the thermic system, meaning the body expends a lot of energy breaking it down; thus, more calories burned.

When you diet, your body is already in a stage of caloric deficit. So, what happens when you add in insufficient protein amounts? You get a loss of lean body mass. This is the last thing you want to happen. Now all you have done is taken your unhealthy body and have made it smaller in mass; yet, with no better body fat percentage–which is the ultimate goal!

A general rule of thumb is to aim for your bodyweight in grams of protein a day. So, a person 150lb in body weight should be aiming for 150 grams of protein a day.

2. You focus on the numbers too much. 

Stay off the scale! At least, don’t be on it every single morning. Stepping on the scale every single day is only going to demotivate you when you don’t see a change. Demotivation leads to tapering off your original plan and forgetting about the goal…which is to get BETTER every day, not necessarily to drop pounds every day! The chemical changes taking place in your body aren’t going to reveal themselves on the scale each and every time you step on it. KNOW you are doing the right things, and KNOW the changes will take place in due time…IF you are following the plan: eating right (see reason number 1), exercising, and moving!

3. You’re impatient. 

Everybody wants results NOW. I see this all the time. People automatically give up if they haven’t seen significant changes in two weeks time. Did you go from a desirable body fat percentage to overweight in just two weeks? No? I didn’t think so! So, why would you expect optimal results in that short amount of time. Life doesn’t work that way.

Most people will give a diet program maybe five days – two weeks if they’re lucky – before they jump ship onto the next cool fad. From Atkins to Zone to Paleo, they can’t seem to make up their minds.

Next time you feel like you haven’t made progress, THINK about it. Is there a reason you may have not made progress? Do you really feel that way, or is it just because you stepped on the scale again and didn’t see desirable numbers? Either way, KEEP GOING.

4. No plan of action for after the diet is done.

A “diet” is just that…a diet. If it weren’t just a diet, someone would say they are “making a lifestyle change,” not “going on a diet.” The biggest mistake people make is being satisfied with where they have gotten, so they now think they can go right back to the potato chips, soda, and pizza. That’s what got you there in the first place, remember? What makes you think you won’t go right back?! You will!

The “diet” ultimately has to lead to some version of a lifestyle change, or you will be unsuccessful in the long run. Even if its that the diet was more hardcore, and the lifestyle change is a more laid back type of thing. Either way, you can’t go back to where you were before. Think of the diet as being a kick-starter to your lifestyle change. It gets you motivated, gives you something to follow, and gets you use to the new foods and lack of junk food that you will have to primarily abide by for life.

No one is saying you can’t cheat sometimes. What’s the fun in eating the same crap every single day. I’ll be the first to admit that I purposely slip up on a Saturday night. But, guess what? I go right back to the good stuff. The key is to not let it get out of hand. Do you have that kind of self-control? If you don’t, I would recommend not cheating at all for the first month or two. This may get you going at a faster clip from the beginning, anyhow, and should get you better and faster results.

Control what you can control. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jared

Move to the beat of your own drum.

Training the Athlete: Program Design – Part 1

Strength training for athletes is an extremely complex system that involves careful design, organization, and a long look at a needs analysis. 

Despite what some people may think, strength and conditioning for high-level athletes is not just throwing a barbell on one’s back, slamming medicine balls, and loud music. Your average personal trainer is simply not trained extensively enough to be able to properly train an athlete looking to make significant gains in their respective sport. 

Now, that is not a knock on regular-Joe certified personal trainers, but a large compliment to personal trainers, strength and conditioning professionals, and other certified individuals who go above and beyond to be the best at their craft. After all, that’s what this is–an art form. 

In part one of this series, I am aiming to explain the first “period” of Periodization, why professionals use it, how it works, and what it is comprised of. 

Periodization is the gradual cycling (maybe days, weeks, or months) of specificity, intensity, and volume of training to achieve peak levels of fitness for the most important competitions. Training shifts from non-sport-specific activities of high volume and low intensity to sport-specific activities of low volume and high intensity over a period of many weeks. 

A macrocycle (usually a year’s training) is divided into two or more mesocycles that revolve around dates of major competitions. Each mesocycle is subdivided into periods of preparation, competition, and transition. Ideally, an athlete will complete a mesocycle of training prior to each major competition, with variations for lengthy competitive periods. 

Periodization for athletes should start with a prep period in which there are three main phases.

Preparatory Period

Phase 1: Hypertrophy/Endurance

The hypertrophy/endurance phase occurs during the early stages of off-season prep. It may last from 1-6 weeks, depending on the condition of the athlete. This stage starts at a low intensity with high volume. In other words, it should involve a lot of sets and reps with lower weight. The goal for this phase of training is to develop an endurance base for future, more intense training. 

Training days can be full-body routines or split (upper body day and lower body day) routines. Exercises should be on the simpler side, and should not be highly tasking (i.e. no snatches, power cleans, or other movements that are highly complex in nature). 

Phase 2: Strength

In this phase, running programs progress to interval sprints of moderate distance, plyometrics activities become more complex, jumping activities can be introduced, and weight training becomes more specific to the event. Intensity level is gradually increased to loads of over 80% of the athlete’s 1RM (rep maximum), or in the 5RM to 8RM range, and only a moderate volume of training is performed. 

Phase 3: Power

As the cycle progresses, load increases to over 90% of 1RM (2Rm-4RM), and speed work intensifies to near contest pace (I prefer barefoot sprints on FLAT grass fields; but, always check your path for any unwanted surprises). Full recovery is allowed between bouts of exercise, and speed training drills, which may include sled towing, sprints against resistance, and uphill and downhill sprints, are incorporated. Prowler sprints and sled towing will forever be my favorite power exercise. There is nothing more challenging to the mind than trying to convince yourself you can do ONE MORE sprint when you are completely gassed. 

Next week—-Part 3: Competition Period, Flexibility Training, and Plyometrics.

 

“You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”  

                                                                                 –Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

Jared

 

 

Power Training = Power Athlete

Image

Most of the athletes I come across are looking to be more powerful. They want to be stronger, faster, and more explosive. 

First, let’s get down to the cellular level.

The primary adaptation to anaerobic (intense, short duration) exercise, strength and/or power training, is an increase in muscle cross-sectional area, known as muscle hypertrophy. Muscle fibers both increase in size and in quantity in response to the high intensity contractions of weight training and/or sprint training. 

Nutrition is critical to hypertrophy gains…without adequate food intake or protein intake, amino acid availability and/or surplus energy won’t be available to stimulate this process. But, that’s another topic for another day…

In addition to changes in cross-sectional area, anaerobic exercise can enhance the activity of ATP-PCr (immediate short-burst energy stores) system enzymes and the glycolytic system enzymes. These changes help to increase the rate of energy transfer within the muscle, allowing for more rapid responses to energy demands in the future. 

Training

Most athletes have some kind of pre-season, competition season, and off-season. We will assume the athlete is using proper periodization when training during each of these seasons. 

The “power athlete” can cover a broad spectrum of athletes out there: baseball, football, shot-putter, 100m sprinter, high/long jumper, etc…

The training philosophy is simple: use powerful movement in the weight room to get power results in your sport. It’s not just a mindset, it is physically training your brain to recruit your fast-twitch muscle fibers, and training each of those fibers to fire at a high rate of speed. The meat of your off-season should be spent in the power/strength phases of training. We don’t want anyone coming right out of the competition season and throwing stacks of plates on the barbell and maxing out within a week or two. That’s foolish. Spending the entire off-season in power training will lead to the athlete over-training and regressing in just about every category. Today, we are only addressing that heart of the off-season, where the athlete is spending his/her time gaining power and strength. 

The goal of the strength/power phase is to first maximize strength gains with an increase in training intensity and decreased volume. You should start focusing on moving the weight a little faster through your range of motion. Each set should be heavier than the previous. After a few weeks of that, the goal is then to maximize power output. Exercises should be performed quickly, with proper weight. There should be an increase in time between sets. The power phase is extremely taxing on the neuromuscular system and will completely drain you without proper rest periods. 

Similar exercises can be used for both the strength and power phases. The only difference is going to be a drop in weight and doing the movements quicker or adding a plyometric touch when in the power phase.

For example: Strength phase – Heavy DB box stepups —–> Power phase – DB box stepups with a hop

Strength phases will typically entail sets of 4-6, with the reps being between 3-6.

Power phases will primarily be sets of 3-5, with reps of 2-4. 

So, the volume decrease in the power phase, but the movements will be much more difficult for your body to keep up with. 

**Obviously, serious athletes should always try and seek out a trainer in the off-season (or sometimes even year-round, if possible). But, for some it’s just not an option due to various factors. For those with a trainer, you may never have to worry about all this complex stuff. More power to you!

Be a beast. 

 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

 

 

 

 

LEG DAY

Building muscle hypertrophy in the lower-half is something most fitness enthusiasts take seriously–yet many struggle with. 

A lot of the struggle comes from having bad form and not targeting the right areas. One slight shift or translation of the hips/knees can completely alter an exercise into something that it wasn’t meant to be. A deadlift can become a squat very easily without a precise idea of what your whole body is supposed to be doing. This is the sole reason I love full-wall mirrors in a studio/gym. 

Some may just have no idea what exercise is supposed to target what muscle…which is completely normal for beginner and novice lifters. 

I would like to offer up some lower body exercises that I do on my leg days (yes, “DAYS,” not just “day”) that you may have not come across or thought of. 

Good Mornings

The good morning is primarily a hamstring exercise that also promotes hip mobility. Hip mobility is something that is SO, SO important, yet many fail to have the proper movement we need for the long haul. This exercise is a barbell exercise, but you could also use a body bar–which is just a shorter version of a barbell that is pre-weighted and not meant to have plates stacked on it. Another unique twist is to use a thick power band, looping it under your feet and onto your upper back. The most important points when performing this movement: 1. Have a slight bend in the knees before initiating the first movement. 2. Think of driving your butt back first, rather than bringing the chest down. 3. Keep your back flat, core contracted, and toes on the ground. The Good Morning is highly underrated because of its looks, but never judge a book by its cover–because this exercise can directly improve your deadlift numbers and technique. 

Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iycq-kJann0 

Box Skateboarders

There isn’t much to say about this exercise. Its primarily a single-leg, quadricep exercise, with the usual benefits of a squatting motion. I love unilateral exercises due to the indirect core workout you can receive while performing them. The skateboarder is no different. Its essentially a single-leg squat, while adding height and a “pedaling” motion of the opposite leg. The skateboarding motion gives you a sense of rhythm…that’s the best I could come up with. 

FFV Link: http://freefitnessvideos.com/exercise_detail.php?exerciseID=38

Elevated Single-Leg Calf Raise

I’ll be the first to admit, I love working my calves. I don’t need high heels to flaunt them, either. With shorts season on the way, jump on the “anti-chicken-leg” bandwagon. This is the best calf exercise I use (besides the seated calf-raise, which calls for an actual machine). The wooden plank in the video is a homemade calf-raise plank, but almost any elevated surface will do just fine. The only necessity is that your heel needs enough drop room to get a full stretch on the down-movement. I add a single heavy dumbbell and hold it on the same side of the working calf. Be sure to “draw” out the exercise and really hike that heel up on each rep. Full extension will get those cows mooing. 

FFV link: http://freefitnessvideos.com/exercise_detail.php?exerciseID=532

Hip Series

The Hip Series is a three-part exercise that is targeting the external rotators and glutes. Every single client I have come across has weak hips. I can’t stress this enough: If you don’t train your hips, they WILL NOT hold their own and will definitely not become stronger. All day, every day, we spend our time moving in one plane–the sagittal plane (moving forward in a straight line). Your hips have virtually no impact on moving in the sagittal plane, which is why long distance runners will tend to have the tightest illiotibial (IT) bands known to man, and extremely weak external rotators. Pay close attention to detail in this video provided by freefitnessvideos.com, because one subtle movement can take the focus off of the hips. Also: YES, the hips and butt go hand-in-hand, so focus on these to achieve that Jen Selter commode-kisser. 

FFV link: http://freefitnessvideos.com/exercise_detail.php?exerciseID=650

Obviously, my favorite lower body exercise of all time has to be the old-fashioned barbell squat. With fantastic combinations of strength and mobility, there is nothing that trumps it. So, if you are already squatting–squat on–because you’re doing it right. 

 

Moo.

 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.