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. 

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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.

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

 

 

“What should I eat to lose weight?”

As a fitness professional, I constantly hear the question: “What should I be eating if I want to lose some weight?” 

Rather than asking this question, we should be asking: “What should I NOT be eating in order to lose FAT?”

Unless you are a wrestler or compete in some other event that requires you to be in a certain weight class, you should never be concerned with losing “weight.” Weight can be anything! Want to lose weight? Just stop eating carbohydrates and within a week you will drop 10 pounds just in water weight!

Let’s focus on losing FAT.

Losing fat is not necessarily about what you should eat, but what you shouldn’t be eating. That is the most important thing. The next most important is about nutrient timing with your consumption of macronutrients. Nutrient timing can be extremely complex and hard to nail down, so we generally stick with the basics unless you are a competitive athlete. 

Foods that will inhibit fat loss and promote fat storage:

– Soda

– Fried foods

– Alcohol

– Pasta

– Mayonnaise

– Candy

– Potato chips

Preventing high insulin spikes is also a very important key to losing body fat. Insulin spikes occur after the ingestion of sugar/carbohydrates. Carbs are a necessity in most cases, but staying away from overloading in one sitting is important for fat loss.

The basics of nutrient timing are important for making sure your body responds correctly to the foods you are putting in your body.

– Include some source of protein with every meal

– Stop carbohydrate intake in the afternoon

– Eat good fats with most meals

– Ingest appropriate, relative amounts of protein within 2-3 hours post-workout

– Also ingest an appropriate amount of carbohydrates post-workout to replenish stores and promote an insulin spike (the ONLY time you want an insulin spike)

           – An insulin spike will open up hormone receptors in cells, promoting muscle growth and fat loss 

– The only proven pre-workout supplement is caffeine (although it should never come via soda)

Keep it simple and follow the basics. Only make it more complex once you have mastered the simple steps. 

 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

 

 

 

Triglycerides: Foods that will lower lipids in your blood

For my 1 year anniversary of starting this health and fitness blog, I will try to keep this one short and sweet…

When it comes to the health of adults, blood pressure and cholesterol readings seem to get most of the lime-light. Family physicians may point to your triglyceride number and explain what it means, but rarely will you be given much advice on how to lower that number. THAT number–not your cholesterol or BP reading–is MOST important for keeping heart and artery diseases at bay. High numbers of triglycerides causes inflammation; and inflammation causes heart disease. 

“But, what exactly are triglycerides…?”

Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn–particularly “easy” calories like carbohydrates and fats–you may have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia). 

The higher end of normal to borderline would be considered 150-199 mg/dL. Generally, you want to keep your number below 200. If you are above 200, something in your diet needs to change. 

“What’s the difference between cholesterol and triglycerides?”

Triglycerides and cholesterol are separate types of lipids that circulate in your blood. Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy, and cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones. Because triglycerides and cholesterol can’t dissolve in blood, they circulate throughout your body with the help of proteins that transport the lipids (lipoproteins).

Here are 5 types of foods that will lower your triglycerides if they become a steady part of your diet:

Omega 3’s: healthy fats that can be found in most fish (salmon, tilapia…) or via supplement (see previous post on supplements).

Olive Oil

Beans

Spinach

Grapes

 

Here’s to lowering your triglycerides, having an even healthier 2014, and many more anniversaries of health and fitness blogging…

 

Happy Holidays!

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

Consume Like Your Life Depended On It

 

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Nutrition and cellular interaction is an extraordinarily complicated game.

Macronutrients, micronutrients, phytochemicals…what does it all mean? Like I said, it’s just too complicated. So, how about I just give you the facts and you trust that I’m telling you the truth? It literally takes a textbook to break it all down into the finest of terms so that we can truly understand how metabolism works. 

Different foods possess specific nutrients and other bioactive components that can actually change the message expressed by our unique genes. Yes: it really DOES matter what you eat when looking for physiological changes and long-term health goals (such as living disease free). 

Today, I’ll start with three things we should all be consuming.

Broccoli:

Broccoli contains compounds called isothiocyanates that can switch on a specific gene in the liver that detoxifies cancer-causing chemicals and other toxins. Without the broccoli, this gene remains inactive and our bodies look for other detoxifiers. With the broccoli, this gene is upregulated and participates more actively in the detoxification process.

Cooked Tomatoes:

Cooked tomatoes contain compounds called lycopenes that switch off growth-promoting genes in the prostate. With cooked tomatoes in the diet, prostate cancer risk decreases; without the tomatoes, risk increases.

Fish Oil:

Fish oil (specifically DHA–a fatty acid found in fish oil) signals genes in the brain to produce a chemical that keeps Alzheimer’s disease at bay. People who take fish oil have better cognitive function as they age, relative to those who don’t take fish oil. 

There are many more examples just like these of how nutrition can influence our gene expression to promote or degrade health. This emerging area of research is called nutrigenomics, and is changing our world as we know it. 

 

Yours in Health, 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.