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.

“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.

 

 

 

Strength Training for Women: The Myths

There are a myriad of myths regarding females and strength training – too many to count. Yet despite the growing number of women out there slowly converting to lovers of iron and ditching their cardio bunny ways, there are even more women who still believe that strength training is for men only, and that no proper lady would touch anything more than a pretty pink dumbbell.

What makes me happy is when I have a new female client who comes in and says: “I want to get stronger and add more muscle to my body.” YES! I love to hear this. It means that some women are truly getting it! Adding lean tissue to your frame via strength training not only helps you burn more fat faster, but also raises bone mineral density (BMD). BMD is extremely vital for middle-aged women as they age. Low BMD leads to osteoporosis, which leads to your later years being NO fun at all. Women are MUCH more at risk for osteoporosis than men, which makes strength training just as important for them–if not more! 

Myth #1: You should steer clear of heavy weights because it will make you look like a man.

This is the most ridiculous myth out there! Women commonly use the phrase “bulk up” when referring to what they want to avoid. Men have 20 times the amount of testosterone as women have flowing in their blood…TWENTY TIMES THE AMOUNT! The little testosterone that women do have plays no role in muscle building…therefore, bulking up “like a man” is physically impossible (this does not count for anyone on PEDs).

With more strength training, a spiked increase in appetite will follow. Women (along with men) must beware of this increase in appetite. Don’t go off thinking you can eat whatever you want and not put on body fat. Sure, you can get away with more in the 2-3 hour window post-workout, but don’t succumb to poor nutritional choices with your newfound hobby. 

Myth #2: Protein powder is bad for women because it will make them huge.

There is NOTHING special about protein powder. It’s not magical fairy dust that meatheads throw into a shaker bottle and it makes their veins surface to their skin and protrude. Pure whey protein powder is simply taking the best part of animal protein and putting it into a canister for quick and efficient digestion. The biggest perk (and one of the only) about protein powder is its convenience! Adding water to it enables a faster process of protein being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Protein repairs the muscle fibers that have been broken down and torn (yes, little micro-tears) during your workout, and then it also plays a large role in building the muscle fibers back up–making them stronger.

So, if you just finished your strength training session and have plans to have a big, balanced meal in the next couple hours, then there is no reason for you to slam a protein shake. Save it for another day. You will get all you need from that chicken breast, turkey burger, etc…!

NOTE: Protein in excess amounts can increase body fat. The protein consumption method is not a “the more you eat, the stronger you get” type of thing. 

Myth #3: All the fitness models and fitness competitors are on steroids; the average woman could never achieve that look.

Before I go any further, I will qualify this point by emphasizing the fact that yes, there are very few people out there who are able to maintain a lean, stage- or photoshoot-ready physique year-round. I’ll also argue, however, that that’s not because it’s impossible. Rather, many choose to switch over into the offseason, during which time they likely intentionally put on some weight in an effort to make improvements to their physiques and dial even sharper than before come next season.

But all of that aside, here’s a cool fact: we all have abs. They’re there. That six-pack? Yes, you’ve been sporting it. The only thing separating them from showing themselves off to the world is a cozy coat of fat.

If you’re looking to achieve the look of a bikini competitor or fitness model, chances are good that you have most, of it not all, of the muscle mass necessary to start off. This is great, because all that means that is you have to lose bodyfat in order to unveil that coveted physique. Easier said than done, I’m aware, but think of it as an art. Over a period of several weeks and months, you’ll chip away at your body, slowly uncovering the sculpted arms and curvy legs you’ve been after.

Myth #4: You should switch up your training routine every week to keep your muscles guessing.

I recommend a minimum of four to six weeks on any given training program before moving onto something different. By this I don’t necessarily mean utilizing the exact same exercises for the same reps and sets week after week. There are multiple ways to go about implementing progressive overload besides increasing the load on the bar: varying speed, shifting body position in relation to the load, changing stability, and so on.

With that said, sticking to the same program gives you time to become better at the prescribed exercises by providing more opportunities for repetition.

I know what you may be thinking. “But I need to confuse my muscles and keep them guessing!” Unfortunately, muscles do not get confused (sorry, Tony Horton), nor do they participate in guessing games. And if you’re afraid you might get bored, then I ask you, what is so boring about making improvements from one workout to the next? What’s dull about going to the gym and lifting 10lbs more than the week prior or to mastering perfect technique? Boom…I’M FEELING SKINNY, TONY!! — What movie??

Myth #5: To lose fat, you need to crank up the cardio.

Actually, doing more cardio is the best way to… do more cardio. Doing it for the calorie burn will ultimately leave you disappointed, cranky, and tired.

This may be a hard pill to swallow, but steady-state cardio burns surprisingly fewer calories than you’d think. One study found that it takes an average of 86 hours’ worth of aerobic exercise to lose 1 whopping kilogram, and a meta-analysis revealed that steady-state cardio in and of itself is not an effective weight loss therapy.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of about a thousand other more useful things I could be doing with those 86 hours than peddling away on a bike. If you do it because you love it, or because you are training for the events that you love, that’s different! I totally get it! I love it, as well…but, it’s not going to give me the results I’m looking for. 

Rather than steady-state cardio, interval training is the way to go. Other names for this include metabolic conditioning, circuit training, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These short bursts of high intensity activity alternated with periods of active have been found to produce equal, if not better, results as traditional steady-state cardio with just “a fraction of the time commitment” (namely, 0.75 hours versus 13.5 hours). This is likely due to the increased excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or energy expenditure in the time following the workout. Basically, go harder for shorter bursts…and take very brief rests in between each bout. 

I hope I’ve inspired at least one woman to begin, or get back to,  their strength training. 

 

Happy New Year’s Resolutions!

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

Brief Review: Tabata Training

I have been approached about my thoughts on Tabata training a few times…and I have good news–it has definitely been proven EFFECTIVE. 

Tabata training–a protocol in which 20 seconds of high-intensity activity are followed by 10 seconds of rest, with that cycle repeating for 4 minutes–could be considered one of the earlier versions of high-intensity interval training. Researchers from Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, recently looked at Tabata training to determine its effectiveness. 

The small study was led by Michele Olson, PhD, FACSM, professor of Exercise Science at the university. It involved 15 individuals (12 women, 3 men) whose caloric expenditure was measured before, during and 30 minutes after a Tabata workout. Results showed that participants burned 13.5 calories per minute. Olson also discovered that at the 30-minute mark, each individual’s metabolic rate was double what it had been before the workout.

This style of interval training clearly has profound effects even on short-term, post-exercise metabolism. It would take 5 times the amount of typical cardio exercise, such as a 20-minute brisk walk, to shed the same number of calories that are burned in a 4-minute Tabata. 

Tips for a safe and successful Tabata workout:

– Be sure you are sufficiently warmed up (this means being near the onset of having a sweat)

– Use exercises or equipment that rely on large muscle groups (i.e. jump squats, airdyne bike)

– Use modifications if you or your client are less fit individuals at this point (i.e. body weight squats, treadmill walking at  brisk pace)

– If you or your client are new to Tabata, start with four or six rounds, working up to the full eight

This research was presented at the 60th annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the fourth annual World Conference on Exercise. An abstract was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 

 

Tabata on, 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum

Ways to BE GREAT: Installment 3

Here is #41-60…if you haven’t already, see Installment 1 and 2 so you don’t miss out on anything! 

This is a culmination of “Life Lessons” for anyone involved in health and fitness. Hell, these are great for anyone to follow. Some I’ve learned from my mentors, some I’ve discovered by trial and error. But, ALL of them hit home and ALL of them are deeply accurate, in my humble opinion. Stay tuned, many more to come…BE GREAT

41. Stop being negative, instead of “Why don’t I have something?”, say to yourself “Why am I so good at working hard for what I want and achieving my goals?”
42. Don’t worry about other people’s PR’s, set your own
43. Remember, “You are the bouncers, I am the Cooler”

 

44. Be the best part of someone’s day
45. Squats – hips back, don’t drop them straight down; shins vertical, not over toes
46. Don’t have a prowler, push a 100lb plate across the floor, see Epic line 23
47. Slow down…enjoy it, whatever it is
48. Go to the park and hit some pull-ups and hill sprints

 

49. Go out and throw some med ball around…yeah, for fun
50. Go to seminars, conferences and clinics
51. Read more fitness articles
52. Train consistently…have a plan
53. Roll on a lacrosse ball and pvc pipe, stop using the white foam roller
54. Watch Pineapple Express 3x
55. More tension equals more strength, take the slack out of the bar before you pull
56. Give when no one is looking
57. Watch Spongebob

 

58. 1-6 (power), 6-8 (strength), 8-12 (muscle), 12+ (conditioning, endurance) – generally
59. Stop thinking people owe you something
60. Be humble

Installment 4 coming next week. 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.