Friday, December 25, 2009
Hey, just a quick shout out to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!
The New Year is approaching... time to re-focus on your goals and continue to challenge yourself to improve your fitness and performance!
All the best,
Saturday, December 19, 2009
- whey protein
- 'good' fats (ie- flax oil or fish oil)
- baby carrots
- an apple
- a handful of spinach
- grape juice
- frozen berries
Check it out, and leave me a comment with your protein "power" shake recipes.
If you checked out my post from last week, you saw Jeff Anderson's information on how to "Make Your Own Supplements". As he explains you don't need to spend alot of money on fancy, expensive supplements. I would argue that most of that extra money you would spend on "big name" supplements goes toward exaggerated advertising and marketing hype!
This makes me mad.
In most cases you can find nutritional supplements of the same quality for a much lower price, or you can purchase the ingredients yourself at a fraction of the cost! If you want more information on supplementing your diet, and how to save money by making your own supplements, check out Jeff’s site at http://tinyurl.com/makemyown, or post your questions below; you can also sign up to see a video on his site that shows you how he makes a great pre-workout energy drink.
I’ve read his ebook, and used some of his ideas myself… there is some good stuff in there.
Ok, I've been focusing on nutrition for a few posts now, and hopefully it's helped you all stay on track over the holidays! Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some great training information with you (ie- bodyweight workouts, core training, home workout ideas, etc). Stay tuned for that!
Friday, December 18, 2009
When it comes to nutrition, my focus is usually on "whole food", although often supplements are very helpful to ensure proper nutritional demands are met. I’ve mentioned Juice Plus in a previous newsletter, and the importance of a whole food fruit and vegetable concentrate (Check out www.StayFitWithJuicePlus.com), but this time I’d like to focus on protein supplementation.
I recently had a client ask me about taking whey protein (how much to take, when to take it, what type to take, what quality, etc). He was confused by all of the different protein supplements available and the overwhelming amount of advertising.
We all know that to build muscle, you need protein, right?
If you're aware of how much protein is necessary to recover properly from your workouts every day, chances are you've figured out that supplementing with protein shakes is an easy way to get in some great quality protein to build muscle.
I usually recommend consuming 1 gram of protein per lb of lean bodyweight per day. The question is WHICH protein should you be taking?
When you shop for a good protein powder, you will be bombarded with all kinds of crazy marketing for the latest Super Powered Protein supplement. In my opinion, many of these supplements are hyped up junk, and cost much more then they should.
The truth is you can make your own powerful supplements right in your own home, and save some decent money while you’re at it.
Jeff Anderson, the Muscle Nerd, talks about this in this great resource he produced at http://tinyurl.com/makemyown
This video tutorial by Jeff Anderson does a great job of explaining protein supplementation. In it he discusses:
•Which protein get's an "A+" on the Muscle Nerd Report Card of supplements.
•The exact times you should take your protein supplements to gain more muscle.
Protein Supplement Review Report Card: Beyond The Basics!
By The Muscle Nerd, Jeff Anderson
For more information on supplementing your diet, and how to save money by making your own supplements, check out Jeff’s site: Make Your Own Supplements
Next I'll be posting up a video showing you how I make my own post workout Power Shake... it's pretty crazy how much stuff I actually throw in it!
Until then, stay fit and train smart!
My interview with registered nutritionist, Trionne Moore.
She shares some tips for improving athletic performance and for reducing body fat.
Find out more about her out at www.trionne.ca
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The holidays are traditionally a time for giving, a time of good cheer, a time to celebrate with family and friends, and of course a time during which most of us indulge in copious amounts of food and drink!
This holiday season I'd like to challenge you to actually lose body fat, rather than focusing on "minimizing weight gain". The following Top Form Fitness strategies can help you realize this goal of starting the New Year in better shape:
1. Plan your "cheat" meals in advance. You still need to enjoy your favorite foods while getting in better shape, so schedule the days when you have a big meal planned in advance. For example, mark on your calendar: holiday parties, Christmas family dinners, and any other major event that involves large meals. Allow yourself one of these "reward" meals each week, but once you've made this schedule stick to it!
2. Eat "Low Carbs" the day before one of these "reward" days. When you deplete your body of it's glycogen stores by consuming fewer starchy carbs and sugars, you increase the likelihood that the additional calories you consume the following day will be stored as glycogen (for energy) as opposed to being stored as fat.
3. Schedule your fat burning workouts in advance as well. The holidays can get busy with shopping, family time, parties, etc, so you need to plan your workouts in advance to be sure you make time for them. Also plan a workout before each of your "reward" meals, to further deplete your glycogen stores and increase fat burning.
Remember you don't need to slow, long duration cardio workouts to reduce body fat. In fact, shorter, higher intensity circuit training workouts, as in the Top Form Fitness System, are far more effective. Try performing a high repetition circuit training workout using body-weight and free weight exercises, and alternating between compound exercises for your lower body, upper body and core throughout the workout.
4. Don't drink your calories. Reduce your consumption of alcohol, soft drinks, egg nog, and juices over the holidays (as well as during the rest of the year!). Beverages are typically very high in "fast-digesting" calories and will end up expanding your waistline without making you feel full or satisfied. Stick to water as your main beverage, and keep tight reins on anything else you drink over the holiday season.
5. Eat protein in most meals. Protein foods are not only filling, but they can help moderate your blood sugar levels and control your appetite. You will usually have plenty of high-protein foods to choose from over the holidays, such as turkey, chicken, and ham.
6. Make sure you have strong social support. This is a time of year when you will need to get support from your family and peers. It helps to let others know that you are working on improving your fitness and making some lifestyle changes. This increases your accountability as well as creating a support group of those around you.
I also invite you to share your "nutritional challenges" over the next few weeks on this blog, as I'm sure there are other readers who can offer words of advice and support from their own experience.
That's it... a solid 6 Step Plan to help you actually lose several unwanted pounds over this holiday season, and start your New Year off ahead of the game!
I am also working on something you will definitely want to check out soon: an resource which will include my Top Form Fitness training system as well as a complete body-transforming nutrition plan by nutritionist Trionne Moore. We expect it to be available by this spring, 2010. Keep an eye out for it at www.HungryForFitness.com.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
To be honest, I find the idea of mass "immunization" very disturbing. It is even more unsettling that so many people are ready to get injected with a vaccine when most of us really have no idea what is in it. Now, I'm not presumptuous enough to tell others what to do. But I do believe in taking personal responsibility for our own health and wellness. To do this we need to ask more questions and become educated about our "health-care" interventions.
Rather than share my personal opinion on this matter, I invite you to review the following links which provide some answers to some excellent questions, such as:
- What is in the H1N1 flu vaccine? What are "adjuvants"?
- Is the flu vaccine proven to be effective?
- Is the Swine Flu really that bad?
- Are there risks or potential long-term side effects to getting vaccinated?
- Are there safer alternatives to prevent the flu?
- Is the media delivering the straight facts about this pandemic?
Medical Researcher Exposes H1N1 Cover-Up
Expert Pediatrician Exposes Vaccine Myths
Some Healthy Alternatives to Vaccination
Why Are Europeans Rejecting the Swine Flu Vaccine?
Here are my own suggestions regarding protecting yourself from the flu:
6. Learn as much as you can about what you put in your body.
I highly recommend you take some time to check out the links above and please share your thoughts on this blog in the comment section below.
Yours in Health,
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Hex Deadlifts- 4X5 reps with 440 lbs
Front Squats- 185X10
3 SuperSets with:
GluteHam Developer: 10 reps with mini band resistance
Power Wheel Rollouts
2 Supersets with:
Power Wheel Pikes
Saturday, November 7, 2009
- 650 lb Tire Flip X 10 reps
- 250 lb Atlas Stone X 2 sets of 3 lifts
- 270 lbs per hand Farmers Walk for 50 feet
- Log press (went light on this today)
I'll be posting some video footage of the workouts soon... check back here tomorrow!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
The log press exercise involves another unique implement... a log with parallel handles embedded into it. Traditionally, these were made from real wooden logs, but now steel logs are more prevalent. I will use this implement with some athletes / clients as a challenging alternative to traditional barbell training.
This exercise is a great upper body pushing movement that incorporates full body involvement (as many great compound movements do).
More training tutorials coming up soon!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Our daughter, Kaitlyn, is having her first Halloween party tomorrow and we got some vid of her "flower costume". (I'm just wearing my usual headgear, LOL!).
Just shy of a year old and she's already started to do a little walkin' on her own... I'm pretty damn proud. What more can a guy ask for in life?
It's moments like this that remind me of what's really important in life, and that becomes increasingly important as life gets busier. I remember something that stuck with me from the movie "The Secret", which is to always have an 'attitude of gratitude'. Well, I'm sure grateful.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Please take a second to respond to the above Poll. I will be posting a poll such as this every couple of months to ensure that my readers are receiving the content that is of the most interest to them.
Monday, October 19, 2009
- The human body is composed of 60% to 80% water
- Water is vital to almost every bodily function
- Dehydration can lead to headaches, digestion problems, low energy, and other health issues
- Drinking water can aid in losing body fat
- Drinking water helps increase lean muscle tissue (muscle is primarily made up of water)
- Water helps to flush toxins from our body
- Drinking more water can help keep your skin healthy and clear
This video is a little long (over an hour) but well worth watching. Set aside some time to watch it later on, or watch a few minutes of it here and there, whenever you get a chance. It's a must see.
Once you've had a chance to watch it, please take some time to comment on this blog below to let me know what you think of the movie.
If you haven't already, try out these exercises in your program and let me know if you have any questions.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
More and more research is coming out about this amazing vitamin, as you might have noticed recently.
Some of the MANY benefits of Vitamin D include:
* Increase calcium absorption and aids in increasing bone density
* Boosts your immune system
* Helps prevent cancer and several autoimmune disorders
* Aids in protecting against viruses such as the flu
* Blood pressure regulation
* Insulin sensitivity
That's just to mention a few benefits! Watch the following video which describes some of the recent research on the benefits of vitamin D...
Also check out this "controversial" video and article linked below about vitamin D and the flu!
There is more and more information coming out about this Vitamin, and some health professionals actually describe vitamin D as a hormone rather than a vitamin, because of the role it plays in our body. I strongly recommend you take this simple step to improving your health by increasing your intake of this vital nutrient, both through safe, healthy exposure to sunlight as well as supplementation.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Footage of a small strength challenge I organized for kids at a local charity event benefiting the Toronto Foundation for Student Success. Funds go towards providing healthy breakfasts for children from underprivileged homes, to help them build strong minds and bodies.
Stay fit... don't quit!
Friday, October 9, 2009
Check it out:
Be sure to check out the website, www.PullingForTheHungry.com and make a donation if you can!
Stay Fit and Never Quit,
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
More videos and articles to come soon... stay tuned, stay fit, and never quit!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Note: If you haven't read Part Two of this article yet, check it out first at this link:
-->Top 10 Ways to Pack on Muscle Mass, Part Two
Tip #7: Eat a Big Breakfast
You must be thinking that the only thing on this guy’s mind is food. Being a sports nutritionist, I usually eat 6-7 meals per day and in between I am discussing and counseling my athletes about proper meal planning. Yeah, I guess you are right. All I think about is food!
Breakfast is without a doubt one of the most important meals of the day. You should always eat a large breakfast as it is the base that will fuel you for the rest of the day. You have gone 8 hours during your sleep without food, so now is the time to fill up the tank with fuel once again before another long day of work and training.
A lot of people either skip their breakfast or eat such a skimpy breakfast it makes you wonder how they can even think and function at their job. Having a cup of coffee and a muffin is not considered a breakfast, especially not for a strength athlete.
At breakfast time you have to supply your body with a hearty source of complex and simple carbohydrates, and a nice portion of lean protein. A good example would be a large bowl of oatmeal with an apple and an egg white omelet. This is a breakfast, not that muffin and coffee joke that so many people fall in the trap of. The quality of your breakfast will have a direct effect on how efficient your metabolic rate works for the rest of the day.
Tip #8: Make sure your meals are balanced
“What type of balance are you talking about?” This refers to your macronutrient breakdown in each meal. Just as a refresher your macronutrients are your proteins, carbohydrates and fat. Each of your meal should be balanced in its proportion for each of the “Big Three”.
Now don’t think that there is only one macronutrient ratio profile that is going to be optimal for everyone because there isn’t. This is where a customized nutritional plan comes into play. Each person’s metabolic rate, energy expenditure, insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity level are different, just to name a few variables.
These all play a major role in designing a customized nutritional plan that is right for you. I can give one athlete a specific ratio of macronutrients and he will get ripped by following it. Yet another individual that I give the exact same plan to will cause an increase in his body fat level.
With this stated, I will at least give you something to start with as a base. First off, never just eat one macronutrient and consider it a meal. This means in layman’s terms, don’t go out and eat a pasta dinner with a nice half loaf of Italian bread. As you can see you are lacking protein and healthy fats in the meal. At the same time don’t scarf down a can of tuna and call it a meal either.
A good example to follow for dinner would be a lean steak, a yam, and a serving of broccoli with olive oil. This is a balanced meal. Now, I would play with the ratios of the macronutrients to exact specifications and amounts to help you achieve your future goal according to your personal data for the different variables. See, I know how to make it look easy!
Tip # 9: Avoid Processed and Junk Foods
I know I will get a lot of flak for this one but I had to say it. When I hear most powerlifters discuss that they are going up a weight class it reminds me of children talking about how they are going to Disney Land. It’s like they have just won the lottery. Just because you are going up a weight class doesn’t mean you have a blank check to eat all the junk that you can get your hands on. I know this may sound funny, but it is a reality among a lot of powerlifters. Plain and simple, processed foods are not healthy for the body.
When you look back to our ancestors they ate mainly foods in a natural state. They didn’t eat things like potato chips, chocolate tacos, ice cream, chocolate bars, deli meats, candy, and all the other junk foods that people go crazy for. Let’s face reality for a second here, these “nutritious foods” may make you stronger in “Bizarro World”, but I am sad to tell you they won’t help your total in this one! Not only will these foods add an extra roll of fat around your waist, they will also increase your chances for a whole slew of health conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes among others.
Tip #10: Optimize Your Post Workout Nutrition
Now when I say the words post workout nutrition, what comes to your mind? Is it go home and eat what ever you like? Is it to hit the local Ice cream shop for a double scoop of chocolate fudge layered in marshmallows and sprinkles? Or is it something you have systematically and scientifically planned out to make sure that you are providing your body with the nutrients that it needs to gain benefit from that crazy workout that you just did?
Now from most of the lifters that I have talked to, they don’t have a clue what to eat after their workouts. They just go with the flow and eat whatever is lying around their house when they get home from their workouts, or whatever fast food drive thru is closest to the gym. This may sound funny but if this is you I will tell you straight. You are destroying all the hard work that you just performed by not supplying your body with what it needs at the most important time of the day. Post workout nutrition is much more complicated than just simply eating your piping hot dinner (what ever it may be) when you get home from the gym.
You have to supply your body with quality protein and carbohydrates along with a multitude of micronutrients and nutrient partitioning agents if you are looking to get the most from your training. In a future issue I will be discussing post workout nutrition and how it applies to the powerlifter. Just remember if you don’t think that your post workout nutrition plan is optimal, it most likely is giving your competition a major advantage come contest day!
Without dedication to not only your training but your nutritional and supplementation program, you will never see the results that you deserve. I hope you enjoyed this guest post and found the information useful. If you have any questions for Anthony in regards to this article you are invited to write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also view more of his articles at www.nutritionxp3.com.
Now let's starting packing on that lean muscle mass!
Stay Fit and Never Quit,
If you haven't read Part One of this series yet, check it out first by clicking the link:
-->Top 10 Ways to Pack on Muscle Mass, Part One
“I eat enough protein. I probably ate around 50 grams today.” Now if this sounds like you, we are in some serious trouble. That is unless you are a 60- pound child whose major energy expenditure for the day is playing with your Tonka Trucks. Ok, down to the serious stuff here. If you don’t eat optimal amounts of protein, you will never put on the muscle mass that you so much desire. You are also hindering your strength gains as well.
If you are going up a weight class and you aren’t eating the proper amount of protein, guess what? You will put on a nice extra layer of fat around your waist, instead of gaining lean muscle tissue. When trying to put on size, you have to make sure you constantly supply your body with essential amino acids throughout the day.
You should consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. If you just jack up your carbs and fat without supplying your body with the protein that it needs, you will end up looking like “Mr. Marshmallow” instead of a strength athlete. Amino acids are the building blocks that you will need to gain lean muscle tissue and to ensure that going up a weight class will be muscle, not fat.
Protein helps in the recovery of your muscles from the intense training you perform as a powerlifter. As you probably already know, protein is the main nutrient responsible for increasing lean muscle tissue. You can work out all day long but if you don’t eat the right amount of protein for your specific needs and activity expenditure, than you will never reach your peak in strength, that’s guaranteed!
Use a Protein Supplement
In a time when most of us live very busy lives and are constantly are on the go, a protein supplement in the form of a meal replacement or protein shake is essential. If we take a look at one of the rules in part one of this series, it was to eat 5-6 small meals per day. Now, eating 6 solid meals of food per day for most people would be a major problem.
One way to make this much simpler is to eat your regular breakfast, lunch and dinner and have a protein shake in between each of those meals. I just made your life a lot easier didn’t I? The fact is that we need at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight as powerlifters, especially when we are trying to go up a weight class. Now if you have ever looked at a macronutrient breakdown chart of different foods you will notice that to consume all the protein that you need on a daily basis is almost unrealistic, that is unless you have an appetite like mine.
When you look at the protein content of different foods and then you calculate how much you have to eat at your bodyweight, you then ask yourself, “How the heck am I supposed to get in all that protein without feeling like I just inhaled half of the country’s livestock?” Having 2-3 protein shakes per day will help you fulfill your protein needs and will make your life in the kitchen a lot easier as well.
Tip #5: Maximize your Carbohydrate Intake
Carbohydrates…You gotta love them. Yes we all know that they are definitely the tastiest of all the macronutrients, but how do we incorporate them in putting on size. In my previous articles “The Carbohydrate Manifesto” series, I describe the different types of carbohydrates and their function. Make sure that when you are trying to gain solid weight, you consume plenty carbs. Now, there is more than one way to do this. I have had great success with my clients using diets that include both carbs on a daily basis, and plans that restrict them for a certain number of days and then super-compensate for a specific number of days. What you need to know is that there is more than one way to get the job done.
The majority of carbohydrates that you should consume when you are trying to go up a weight class should come from complex carbohydrates. These include oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, yams, brown rice, ancient grains including quinoa, amaranth, millet, and teff. I strongly suggest you look into getting more information on these ancient grains. What’s nice about these grains is that they provide variety in your diet and are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates.
Let’s not forget your fibrous carbs including your salads and vegetables. These are very important and should be consumed with at least 3 of your daily meals. Fiber is very important in the digestion process and eliminating toxins from the body. If you are not getting adequate amounts of fiber in your nutritional plan, it is now time to increase your daily intake. It’s hard to pack on size if you have a severe case of constipation. You may laugh, but this is one of the first things that happen to someone trying to gain weight. Many individuals increase their caloric and protein intake yet, they forget to do the same with their fiber and water.
Tip #6: Consume Your Healthy Fats
Fat is where it’s at, especially if you are a strength athlete. I know you get as sick and tired as I do of all those aerobicizers telling you that you should eat 10grams of fat per day. Your fat intake is definitely associated with how strong you will be. Fats should consist of 30% of your total caloric intake. This is not written in stone, as I have had my clients on programs that were higher and lower than the above. Good sources of Omega 3 fats are salmon and other cuts of fatty fish.
Now don’t get the wrong idea here. This doesn’t mean put extra Mayo on your tuna sandwich, or a quart of gravy on your turkey breast. Nor does it mean to put some extra non-dairy creamer in your coffee, or load up on fatty cuts of bacon and sausage. Yes, you want to increase you saturated fat intake slightly when trying to pack on size and gain muscle mass, but the majority should come from your polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, what is known in layman’s terms as “Healthy Fats”. These healthy fats include your Omega 3-6-9. The Omega 3 and 6 are known as polyunsaturated fats and the Omega 9 is known as monounsaturated fat. The Omega 3’s are one of the most important since they have many benefits for the powerlifter. They increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce inflammation of your joints and tendons.
Your Omega 9’s are important since they contain oleic acid which is known to keep the arteries of your heart supple, and they have a positive effect on your testosterone level. Carbohydrates and protein contain 4 calories per gram; while fat has over double that at 9 calories per gram. Not only will healthy fats help in many areas for health and strength, but they will provide an excellent source of calories. One tablespoon of flax or olive oil contains 114 calories and 14 grams of fat. Just say yes to healthy fats to keep your weight and total climbing!
Stay tuned for the third and final part of Anthony's article in my next post!
I asked him to share his expertise on how to gain lean muscle tissue while maintaining one's current body fat percentage. Well, we are in luck, because he has provided us with his article, The Top 10 Ways to Pack on Muscle Mass. For any strength athletes out there looking to go up a class, or anyone who wants to gain some serous muscle without putting on fat, this series is for you!
In fact, most of the information in his article relates to healthy nutrition guidelines for just about any active person.
Here is part one of his three part article:
Tip #1: Eat 5-6 Times per Day
Did you just say eat 6 times per day? Yes, that’s right! Don’t think that you are going to gain quality size eating 3 square meals per day. The only type of mass you will put on eating only 3 times daily will be the fat type, and this is not our objective. There is no way that you can reach your caloric or your macronutrient needs eating 3 meals per day.
If by some magical method you manage to eat enough calories in only 3 meals, than you will be so full and bloated, you won’t be able tie up your own shoes let alone pound out some heavy deadlifts. It’s scientifically impossible to optimize your performance on three meals per day.
When trying to put on size, you just can’t eat when you get hungry, otherwise it will take you a lot longer to get up to your next weight class. You have to eat by the clock, otherwise you will not meet your caloric and macronutrient needs by the time the day is over. With this in mind set a schedule that you will follow and have a meal or protein shake every 2.5- 3 hours. Not 4 or 5 hours but every 3! This is very important in your quest for size. This will make sure that you get at least 5 quality meals in per day.
I know that this sounds a little compulsive but in no time this will just become part of your lifestyle. This will mean that you will need to have all your food prepared the night before so that you will have it ready when you need it. Don’t just think that you will just cook something when the time comes as most likely you will get lazy and you will just skip the meal. You must prepare your meals ahead of time.
Eating every three hours has many benefits. First, it will keep your metabolism elevated. Second it will keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day and will prevent you from getting those after lunch energy lows that so many people complain of. Next it will keep you in a positive nitrogen balance and will supply a constant stream of amino acids to your muscles, thereby keeping you in an anabolic state. As you can see eating by the clock is definitely worth it!
Also remember to increase your calories gradually; don’t just jack them up like a maniac after reading this article. Each week try to increase your daily caloric intake by 250-750 calories depending on your weight, energy expenditure, metabolic rate, and level of insulin sensitivity. You have to slowly increase your calories or your digestive system will just get overloaded and will not be able to process and absorb the nutrients from the massive increase in food volume.
Tip #2: Drink Plenty of Water
Water is very important for many reasons. It has many health and performance benefits. It keeps your organs functioning properly, clears toxins, reduces excess sodium from your body, and it hydrates your muscle cells. It even liberates fat stores on your body so they are burned off as an energy source. Dehydration will cause a major decrement in performance. Even a 2% state of dehydration will cause your performance to go out the window.
Water plays a major role in cell volumization. This is where nutrients are pulled inside of the muscle cell causing a multitude of reactions that leads to muscle growth. Water is very important in many processes including digestion, transportation and the absorption of nutrients. So how much water should you drink on a daily basis? You should drink on average at least 1oz of water per kilogram of bodyweight. This is a figure that can be increased depending on many factors that affect your hydration level. This amount will start as your baseline from which you can build upon.
A 220 pound (100kg) powerlifter would need to drink 100 ounces or slightly over 3 quarts of water per day as his minimum daily water intake. There are also many benefits to drinking water. They include lowering your chances for high blood pressure and kidney stones. Both of these nice little health problems can really cause havoc on your training. Try banging out some box squats when you’re passing kidney stones the size of jawbreakers. It’s not going to happen.
Tip #3: Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is not considered a food group so why am I talking about it in my nutritional column you ask? The reason why sleep is going to be discussed here is that it is essential in gaining lean mass. Your body repairs and recovers from your workout as you sleep. During this time, your muscles grow! Remember this, if you aren’t sleeping you aren’t growing and getting stronger. Think back to a time when you couldn’t get optimal sleep either during university exam time, or another time when sleep was of the essence. Think back how your strength level was, or how you were actually losing size. So how much sleep do you need per day? You should be getting at least 8 full hours of sleep per day. If you can get a 1-2 hour nap per day on top of this it would be even better. Getting proper sleep is a must for muscle growth. Without it, you can kiss gains in strength and size goodbye!
Watch for Part Two in my next post, and please leave your comments and feedback below!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
A good friend of mine, Conor Kelly of Evolution Fitness, dropped by for a workout. Check out www.pullingforthehungry.com ... He is training for a charity event where he will pull a school bus to raise money for hungry children. He wanted a workout... I GAVE him a workout! This is a short sample of our training session... we were at it for an hour and a half.
This is in support of a good cause and I'd really appreciate you taking a minute to check out http://pullingforthehungry.com
Keep it real,
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Here is a short video with several of my friends, colleagues, team mates, and clients training for competition or just to stay in shape.
Regardless of whether I am training male or female clients, I approach their strength training program with a similar intensity. Of course there will be small variations in each individuals workout, but to get results both men and women need to participate in a serious strength training program as part of their overall exercise plan.
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to serious strength training for women. Many women mistakenly believe that resistance training will create large, unattractive muscles. Some women think they have to lose their body fat before starting to weight train, or the fat will “turn into muscle”. The truth is that the vast majority of women do not have the genetics to build large muscles. It is also impossible to turn fat into muscle, or muscle into fat, as each cell is completely different from one another.
Strength training has been proven to benefit all populations, both male and female, from young athletes to older adults. In fact, intense resistance training provides tremendous benefits to women, in particular. Traditionally, women depended on a low calorie diet and cardiovascular activity to “get in shape”. Unfortunately, low calorie diets simply depress your metabolism and, without including resistance training, make it nearly impossible to attain long term results. It has now been demonstrated that strength training is essential if you want to get leaner and reshape your body. But the benefits of strength training go far beyond physical appearance:
1) Increased Metabolic Rate – This is a very important benefit of strength training for women. A good strength training program will increase your resting metabolism by increasing the calories you burn every day! This helps you reduce body fat much more quickly! This becomes especially significant for middle age women, because strength training can help them avoid the typical metabolic ‘slump’ that often occurs at that stage in life. Therefore, the secret to staying lean as we age is not to eat less, but to do more strength training!
2) Increasing Bone Density - Strength training prevents and combats osteoporosis by maintaining or increasing bone density. This reduces risk of fractures and other health issues. Once again, this becomes even more important as we age.
3) Lean Muscle Gain - Note: You will NOT get big and bulky by strength training! Women do not produce enough testosterone to develop excessively large muscles. You would need to train with very heavy weights, eat significantly more, and dedicate yourself for years to becoming a bodybuilder in order to “bulk up”, and even then most women would not become overly muscular. Simply lifting weights as part of a regular strength training program will make you leaner, stronger, and more “shapely” or toned. Keep in mind, for every pound of lean muscle you have you will burn about 50 calories each day! This is a good reason to maintain or gain that lean tissue!
4) Injury Prevention - Strength training strengthens our muscles and tendons, as well as bones, as already mentioned. Once again, this is important as we get older. Strength training for women and men is highly recommended for injury prevention.
5) Better Balance - Stronger legs and core muscles, as well as greater neural muscular control, means an increase in overall balance and coordination.
6) Decrease Risk of Coronary Disease - Strength training can reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Heart disease is one of the highest causes of death for women each year.
7) Rehabilitation and Recovery – Building stronger muscles and more stable joints is one of the best ways to recover from an injury. By ensuring the muscles surrounding a joint are trained in a balanced manner, and strong on both sides, you speed the rehabilitation process.
8) Enhanced Performance in Physical Activity – This results in a better quality of life. Regular daily activities are performed with less effort.
9) Aging Gracefully – Strength training can help you maintain stable hormone levels, prevent “sagging” bodyparts, keep a more youthful figure, and improve your posture.
10) Look and Feel Better – Strength training can improve your self image by keeping your body looking younger, healthier and leaner. Strength training will reduce body fat, increase muscle tone, regulate blood sugar levels, and help you build strength and confidence. The physical results alone are a great reason to start strength training, but the mental benefits are awesome as well.
Quite often women will avoid using heavy weights while strength training because they are afraid of “bulking up”. Unfortunately, if not enough resistance is used the muscle will not be challenged enough to become more "toned" or "shaped". Consistent hard work is necessary to become more toned and to reshape your physique! You need to lift weights that are heavy enough to cause muscle fatigue.
To achieve safe results quickly, you should follow an effective program designed by a certified fitness professional. As always, consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise routine. I hope this article has inspired you to take your strength training program seriously and I wish you the best in reaching your fitness and performance goals!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Getting sufficient quality sleep is integral to your physical and mental wellbeing, but in today's fast paced culture more and more busy people don't get enough of it. My hope is that sharing some of the benefits of sleep will convince you to make it one of your priorities.
First of all, getting at least 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night will stimulate your body to produce higher levels of Human Growth Hormone. Among its many health benefits, HGH aids in fat loss while maintaining lean muscle tissue.
Another important benefit of sleeping more is improved memory and concentration. Your physical performance will also improve noticeably, as well as your productivity at work or school.
Studies show that those who get more sleep are less likely to have accidents or suffer injuries. In addition, sleep accelerates your recovery from physical activity and speeds healing of injuries if they do occur.
Finally, sleep helps reduce the negative effects of stress on your body. This is significant because so many chronic diseases develop as a result of cumulative stress. These are just a few of the many benefits of sleeping well.
To ensure you get a good quality sleep each night, follow these tips:
•Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Develop a routine.
•Aim to get 7 to 9 hours nightly, getting to bed before midnight if possible.
•Keep the room you sleep in as dark and quiet as possible.
•Avoid any physical or mental stimulation right before going to sleep. Try not to watch TV or study at bedtime as it may make it harder for your brain to "turn off".
•Avoid using sleeping pills or drinking more than one serving of alcohol at night.
•Do not drink excessive amounts of coffee or caffeinated beverages during the day.
Wishing you a good night's sleep!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I was inspired to put this video together from watching Joe Defranco's Strong movie promo; watch it on YouTube HERE.
It's done as a bit of a spoof, (with a ridiculous number of fake up-chucks) but we're all huge fans of Defranco's work, so this is all in good fun. You definitely have to check out his movie at http://strongmovie.com ... it will jack you up! His athletes train with some crazy intensity, and now our guys are going to 'bring it' as well!
We took some real training footage, then added a couple of cans of chicken soup for a laugh (obviously all those "technicolor yawns" are NOT real!), and I edited a video montage similar to Joe's. OK, only one puking scene in our video is actually real... can you guess which one?
Also, keep an eye out for our new Barbarian Strength program, coming soon at http://barbarianstrength.com!
Enjoy... and train like a BEAST!!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Eric and Drew are strength athletes. They have been training and competing in this grueling sport for several years, showing consistent improvement. Their hard work paid off, as demonstrated by their awesome performance... check out the video.
One of these guys actually got started in strength training about 4 years agos as client of mine . He was a skinny 16 year old and literally transformed himself over a couple of years of serious training, following the Barbarian Strength System (will be online to check out soon, at www.BarbarianStrength.com).
I also used to compete seriously in strength athletics, and I although I still do enter a couple of local contests each year, watching this event made we want to get more involved in the sport.
It's important to recognize that the same qualities that lead to success in a strength sport like this, are also necessary for success in any fitness or performance goal.
These qualities include discipline, consistency, hard work, positive attitude, and direction. You need to have a clear goal, develop a solid plan to achieve it, believe you will achieve it, then passionately pursue it.
Wishing you continued success in your own fitness and performance goals!
Monday, July 27, 2009
This is also true when it comes to strength and conditioning. I'm sure you've seen people training in different ways using weights, machines, stability balls, medicine balls, etc. But how often do you see someone training using only bodyweight resistance? With the exception of push ups, chin ups, maybe dips, and ab exercises, you don’t see it very often.
Many people have this idea that if they aren’t holding a weight, or using a stability ball when training then it isn't a productive workout. Ironically, some of the most productive strength training exercises are bodyweight movements but with some form of added external resistance.
However, "internal loading" (true bodyweight training) should actually precede external loading. In other words, we MUST be able to handle our own bodyweight before adding any outside resistance. This depends on the ability of the individual to control their own body during basic movements.
Bodyweight training will develop greater muscular stability, especially at the joints. Since bodyweight training involves major muscle groups in an integrated fashion it allows you to train multiple muscles in each exercise movement, which is how the body really operates in our environment. This makes it a truly functional method of training.
In a future issue I will be sending you some more bodyweight training info as well as a video of a full bodyweight workout that you can do at home!
But for now, check out this inspirational video of some incredible athletes performing some pretty amazing bodyweight exercises. These guys train mostly on overhead bars, and call themselves the "Bar-Barians"... Enjoy!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
In an effort to introduce some unique exercises to my clients and viewers, I will be demonstrating some different training implements in upcoming sessions. In this episode I am demonstrating the Atlas Stone lift.
This is a great exercise that you may be familiar with from watching strongman competitions, but it has applications for other sports and general strength and conditioning as well.
Before the “Atlas stone” lift, you need to fill your belly with air. This must be done intentionally. You need to to take big air, then force it into your stomach by flexing your abs outward. This will stabilize your core and protect the lower back, which is essential while performing this movement.
Enjoy the video!
The high pull and the power clean are great exercises for developing explosiveness and power, qualities which are essential in most sports. These exercises also strengthen your posterior chain.
Watch this short video demonstrating some of the key points of these movements.
Note: the power clean differs from the full clean (or "Squat Clean") in that your hips don’t come lower than parallel with this movement. This means you need to pull the bar higher & accelerate as much as you can.
There are several exercise progressions that I recommend in order to progress up to these exercises, but they are not covered in this video. You can contact me for more information on these movements.
The basic steps involved with the Power Clean:
*Jump. Catch the bar in the rack position.
*Stomp. Your body coordinates stomping with racking. The harder you stomp, the faster you’ll rack. Stomp your feet back into your footprints.
*Elbows High. Even in this video demonstration the elbows are too low during the pull. Also be sure to rack the bar by throwing your elbows as high as possible in front of you so the bar is supported on your upper chest / shoulders.
You will benefit from incorporating these exercises into your program. In future issues I will discuss program design and how to construct a solid training routine.
Monday, July 20, 2009
JOSH: Joe, can you tell us a little about yourself and Synergy Athletics?
JOE: My name is Joe Hashey, and I’m a training addict. Sounds like a self help group! Here’s the deal, I went to
I spent most of my time buried in strength training books, despite being a Political Science major, and eventually earning my Master’s in education. After college I started teaching high school and coaching football and baseball. I figured it was time to spread some of the things I learned, so I studied and earned my CSCS. Shortly after the certification, I opened a garage gym for athletes – Synergy Athletics.
I will summarize Synergy Athletics briefly. We bring it every day. If the athlete can’t bring the hard work, then I ask them to leave. Fortunately, this method has helped breed some intense and successful athletes!
Oh, and I don’t want to sound like a jerk – it doesn’t really matter how MUCH the person can lift when they first come, it matters HOW they lift. Is it with intensity? Do they listen to instructions? Do they use proper form?
JOSH: So I turned towards strongman and powerlifting. You can still achieve significant rate of force development using dynamic effort movements – throwing, jumping, DE (Dynamic Effort) primary lifts.
JOE: I would call it a strongman/powerlifting hybrid style. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Olympic lifts myself, but the time I spend with each athlete is so limited compared to the big picture – school, homework, social, training, more social, etc. Their gains would be very limited if I spent 3-4 weeks instructing oly lifts.
JOSH:If can you summarize it, how would you describe your training philosophy in general?
So I turned towards strongman and powerlifting. You can still achieve significant rate of force development using dynamic effort movements – throwing, jumping, DE (Dynamic Effort) primary lifts.
JOSH: Sounds excellent... we use a similar system of training at Team Barbarian Strength Athletics.You are known for your use of odd implements to develop ‘real world’ strength for athletes.If you had to choose, what would you say are your favorite 2 or 3 “unconventional” exercises?
JOE: I love odd objects. They add extra aspects of strength while helping people achieve a "blue collar" attitude.
- Anything with a thick rope. Grip is often overlooked in sports. A thick rope will expose that weakness in a hurry! Climbing pull ups, thick rope battling, heavy sled rows, and climbers are all great choices.
- Sandbag Hand Grenades. This is an exercise from the Bull Strength Manual. It is competitive and fun as well. The athletes stand facing sideways with a bench between them. One of them has a heavy sandbag at their feet. That athlete must pick up the bag and throw it over the bench (leg, core, rotational, grip, and back strength). The other athlete has 3 seconds to throw it back or he/she “blows up.” We go for a time limit or until there is a winner.
JOSH: Sounds like fun, as well as incredibly tough! What are the most common mistakes you see people make when they begin a strength training program?
JOE: The biggest mistake is no direction. How much volume, what’s your split, do you have a restoration plan, which exercises are you going to test? These questions need to be answered!
The second biggest mistake is being a sissy.
JOSH: Haha, I'd have to agree on that point. Thanks for your time, Joe! Is there anything else you would like to add? Also, if anyone wants to learn more about your training, where can they look?
Always a pleasure Josh. I would appreciate it if people would go check out my strength training blog over at http://www.synergy-athletics.com . Right now I am offering 4 free newsletter bonuses and about to send out the 5 Ways To Increase your Squat bonus article after the next 8 people join the list! Get on board and participate in our community!
Thanks for the read guys, and thanks for having me on Josh.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
- Sled drag (measured course)
- Sledgehammer tire slams (10 each arm)
- Single arm dumbell clean and press OR snatch (10 reps each arm)
- Hanging knee raises, FULL range
- Chinups, 10 reps OR fatigue
You can find out more about this type of training at www.hungerforstrength.com.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I'm a big believer in incorporating bodyweight exercises into a program, and I encourage the use of free weights and bodyweight movements over machines.
The butt and hamstrings are often a neglected area which must be addressed in order to protect your knees, lower back, and maximize your strength in other movements. My favorite exercise for these muscles is the Glute Hamstring Developer; however, this machine is rare to find in most gyms.
Another great basic exercise for your glutes, hams, and core (which requires minimal equipment) is the lying ball leg curl. As a progression you can try this with one leg as well.
Friday, June 19, 2009
In this issue I want to share an interview with a friend of mine, Craig Hirota. Craig is a trainer, strength athlete, and one of the authors in our Fitness and Performance Report, "How to Maximize Fat Loss" (which you can download f.r.e.e. by subscribing to my newsletter at http://tinyurl.com/stayfit).
In this interview Craig discusses how he took charge of his health and fitness and how you can too. He talks about getting started in a fitness routine and other factors that influence your success in making a lifestyle change.
PS- It would be great to hear about your journey to a healthier life... feel free to comment below!
My daughter already got me a great gift (with a little help from my wife, I think): a new wrist watch that I've wanted for a while. How thoughtful of her, especially for a 7 month old!
Regardless of how busy life becomes, or how ambitious and hard working you are, it's important to make the time to spend with loved ones. It's all about balance.
Happy Father's Day
Sunday, June 14, 2009
All of us have had to overcome difficulties in life. At some point we have all needed to dig deep and find that inner strength to help us survive tough times. Can you think of an example of one of these instances? Do you remember what inspired you or motivated you to stay strong and make it through? With the current recession, perhaps you are experiencing this challenge right now.
I've found the last few months quite challenging, myself. It's difficult to balance being a new father, working on a growing business, training more clients, studying, attending seminars, and still finding time to train and compete. Spending time with my wife and daughter still needs to be a priority. Considering the time I spend working on related projects (my upcoming ebooks and DVD's), that leaves little time for sleep at present.
Being busy can be exhausting, but if I take a step back I realize how blessed I am to be "busy" with things I love: my daughter, my wife, my business, my education, training, fitness, etc. I understand that the time and energy invested now is building a strong foundation for our future.
In contrast, I can remember some truly tough experiences in my past. When I was 17 years old I was a passenger in a major car accident - as the vehicle was traveling over 100km per hour on the highway, a tire blew out and it rolled three times into the median ditch. I was catapulted through the window and thrown about 20 feet into the ditch (thankfully not into traffic!).
When I landed I felt a sharp pain in my lower back and knew instantly it wasn't good. The paramedics boarded me up and brought me to the nearest hospital for X-rays. I was told soon after that I had suffered 3 fractured lumbar vertebrae (spinal compression fractures). The doctor said it was likely because I had been lifting weights regularly that I had not suffered any serious nerve damage.
After several days on my back on morphine, and a couple weeks of bed-rest at the hospital I was permitted to walk again wearing a supportive corset around my midsection. I was told not to lift heavy weights again, especially not deadlifts. To me it did not make sense that the same training which had protected me from serious injury was now considered "bad". So I learned as much as I could about strength training and post-injury fitness, and as soon as I was able I began lifting even heavier!
Years later, in 2003, I completely tore my ACL in Judo and had reconstructive knee surgery. Post surgery recovery was MUCH more painful than the actual injury was! This took much longer to heal than I had expected and kept me away from serious training for a few months, although I still did what I could to stay in shape.
At this point I had already started my personal training business and was self employed. At the time I had quite a significant debt, and being unable to work for several weeks without any "vacation pay", was pretty stressful. However, I took advantage of the down-time to study and improve my knowledge base, and as soon as I was able I started training clients again. (FYI, today my knee and back are stronger than ever!).
During every challenge I've encountered or whenever I feel overwhelmed, I think about those people in my life who have inspired me. I find that this motivates me to meet the tough times head on and come out on top. For me, the most influential person in my life was my father.
My dad, Edward, was a giant of a man, standing 6'5" tall, with broad shoulders and sporting a full beard! He was a leader, an activist, a philosopher, and a family man. It's no exaggeration when I say he was the greatest man I ever personally knew. When he passed away from cancer at the young age of 46 it turned my world upside down. But even while he was fighting cancer, I never heard him complain. There are two things he said that I will always remember:
- "Everything happens for a reason; that doesn't mean you're going to like it."
- "The way to become immortal is to positively influence the lives of other people. Your actions will live on in the memories of others."
Another person who has been an inspiration to me is my wife. She is a beautiful, patient, caring human being, and an amazing mother. She grew up in Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union, and experienced first hand the extreme poverty and struggles that affected the entire country.
She moved to the United States in her teens, where she got her University Degree, while working full time. Within a couple of years of moving to Canada, she became the Creative Director of an internet marketing company, managing the entire web design department.
My wife taught me to be ambitious and set bigger goals for myself, rather than just "coast" through life. I owe my business success and the strength of our relationship to her motivation and strength of character.
I don't often discuss these events / memories from my past, because they carry with them a strong emotional charge. But they also helped to shape who I am today, and it's useful to realize that the inner strength that carried me through then is even stronger now. I hope reading this has been useful to you as well, to help you reflect on what inspires and motivates you to overcome obstacles you face. You can draw on that inner quality whenever you need it, and use it to drive to you success!
Check out this video, where Rocky shares a little of his philosophy of life with his son. I found this incredibly inspiring as well.
I'd love to hear your story... feel free to comment below.
Happy Father's Day!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I'm very proud to say that today our daughter was selected by a baby modelling agency from a large pool of candidates; she is now officially a model! I'm looking forward to seeing what sort of ad she'll be in... I'm assuming diapers, baby food, toys, or clothes. We'll see... if I'm lucky it will be exercise equipment for babies. (o:
I'd like to think I'm somehow responsible for contributing some good genetics, but if you saw my wife you'd know the good lucks are her donation. Regardless, it's nice to know that others think our kid is as awesome as we do.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
The Power Wheel is now my favorite accessory for developing core strength, power and balance. Designed to be used with your hands or your feet for a variety of challenging exercises, the Power Wheel is a multi-purpose training tool which forces your core muscles to adapt. This won it the prestigious title of “Best Core Trainer in the World” by the University of California Berkeley.
Check out www.strongestcore.com for more info.
There's a misconception that strength training is harmful to pre-pubescent youth. In this episode I explain why this is simply not true, and in fact resistance training is recommended for boys and girls. I also recommend you check out www.LTAD.ca, which is a site dedicated to Long Term Athlete Development. It's a great resource I'm sure you will find interesting!
-Speaking of youth, our little 6 month old daughter wouldn't let me sleep the night before I shot this footage... so please forgive the "tired" look! (o:
Start young and stay fit!