Leg Day 2.0

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


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!


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.


Move to the beat of your own drum.

Sugar and It’s Role in Childhood Obesity

 There are 300,000 overweight or obese children under the age of 5 in Illinois. Never has there been such a time that calls for extreme measures to try and control what these children are destined for. 

The growth of the fast food industry and increasing portion sizes make it easy for children to overeat. A large fast food meal (double cheeseburger, fries, soft drink, desert) could contain 2200 calories, which is a large adult male’s daily caloric needs. This is what children are eating just for lunch. Let me tell you, I could eat a lot more than that during a trip to Mickey D’s! Besides the calories that fast food joints pack into their meals, it’s the sugar that is the real problem. The sugar is the locomotive behind childhood obesity, and it’s what brings us back wanting more of that fast food. 

Active children usually will no problem with their weight even when eating this way day after day. Once those children become adults and their sports days are over, though, the addiction to the fast food is still there. 

There is a direct positive correlation between the sugar intake of children and obesity trends. Another complication that arises is Type II diabetes, which is becoming a problem much earlier than it should be. When a child consistently has a high sugar intake year after year, insulin receptors are affected. In response to constant sugar overflow, the receptors will tell the body that it needs to consistently release insulin. This becomes like clockwork…think of a daily alarm that will go off no matter what. So, the affected person becomes a diabetic and has to rely on constant sugar intake and monitoring in order to counter the insulin that is lowering blood sugar. 

Sugar is a dangerous addiction. Every high calorie meal out there that children are eating is PACKED with sugar. New studies are being advanced upon every day on the role of sugar in obesity of children and adults. A great study came out this past year on the direct role of soda: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/21/science/la-sci-obesity-soda-link-20120922

Fast food is a large problem in general, but SODA is without a doubt the largest issue we have in our society. Drinking your sugar and calories is the worst way to go. Both children and adults will drink soda throughout the whole day; which is basically like having a huge bag of candy next to you all day and reaching in every couple minutes. We need to slowly eliminate children’s intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. I can’t emphasize enough how much this is affecting young generations. 

The stigma that comes with being an overweight or obese child in today’s society can be devastating. The quality of life is not where a child’s should be. Adolescents that are teased about their weight are 2-3 times more likely to have suicidal ideation and attempts compared to those who are not teased. It affects their education, as no one who is constantly teased wants to get up and go back to school; but they have no choice. They learn to hate school and all that comes with it. Low self-esteem results and that can affect a person for their entire life. 

Here are the worst sugar-packed foods to try and avoid:

1. Soda/carbonated drinks

2. White flour

3. French fries/doughnuts 

4. Energy bars

5. High-sugar cereals

6. Cookies/candy

It’s not that sugar needs to be non-existent in children’s diets, because thats not realistic. It just needs to be limited. If we are conscientious of their intake on a daily basis and have limits to how much they can have, many problems can be avoided. 


Move to the beat of your own drum.


Soy Protein: Is it bad or good?


 It’s a great controversy in the nutrition world right now. I’ve heard statements: “It causes breast cancer” and “It raises estrogen levels in men and negatively affects women’s fertility.” The internet is where false myths go to prosper, and ultimately turn from myth to “fact.” Well, unfortunately, this is what happened to soy. Soy is GOOD for you, and all of the said myths above are false. 

The soy bean contains plant estrogen. At some point, some genius decided to spread that ingesting plant estrogen meant your human estrogen will be affected. BOLOGNA. In no way can plant estrogen have any impact on human estrogen. As far as breast cancer goes, regular soy-ingesting females can carry on. Experts have conducted studies in Asia and the United States that conclude eating soy reduces the risk of breast cancer by 30%! Wow, that’s a quite of a different result than it “causing cancer.” 

Soy protein also is a great source of isoflavones, which can act as an antioxidant, trapping oxygen for good use in the body. Let’s also not forget that soy beans are plant based. They are GOOD for the heart! There are so many bad studies out there on soy, and I can tell you why. Supplement companies rely heavily on selling whey protein (animal derived protein) to body builders and those that want to increase muscle mass (this is a whole other topic for a later date). As prosperous as the supplement industry is these days, they spend their time bashing soy to make people think twice about spending their money on up-and-coming companies such as Body By Vi. I never would endorse a protein-heavy diet, whether it’s whey or soy. Too much of either protein has negative effects on the body (also, a topic for another date). In regards to soy, not ALL soy products are created equal.

Here is a best to worst list of soy products that are on the market and doing pretty well among soy users. The ones toward the bottom of the list are there because they contain excess added sugars or are usually highly processed at the factory in order to stay fresh. The products at the top spots can be found at health food stores such as Fresh Market or Naturally Yours. 

  1. Tempeh – aids in digestion; a fermented type of soy beans
  2. Tofu, Edamame – edamame is just a fancy name for boiled soy beans; great with any dinner and is actually a lot better tasting than it sounds
  3. Soy milk – make sure it’s “whole bean milk”; avoid milk with added sugars such as brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice; also, avoid expiration dates that last longer than your normal gallon of milk would
  4. Soy chips – not too different than your normal bag of fat-free Lay’s
  5. Soy burger – not as fresh as it may seem; go with the turkey burger, instead
  6. Soy protein bar – lots of extra sugars; in my opinion, avoid all protein bars

So, men and women both, continue your soy ways. If you don’t have this in your diet, you may be missing a few essential things that could be useful. All that is needed is a serving of soy beans/edamame at dinner, or even included in a salad, once or twice a week. Keep calm and soy on. 


Move to the beat of your own drum.