Archive for the ‘StrengthandConditioning’ Category

My biggest pet peeve is somebody asking me for “fitness advice”, but ignoring it and then doing the complete opposite. Seriously?!?!?!

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The most pertinent issue with regards to fat loss is adherence. Adherence is the most difficult thing for most people —including myself. We all have different goals (get stronger, lose body fat, build muscle), but no matter what your goal is, adherence is that X FactorIt’s going to keep you afloat.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll skip on the whole what to do to maximize fat loss because let’s be honest, majority of us already have a general knowledge of what to do and the foods we should minimize, if not avoid. That’s not the problem. The problem is adherence coupled with a “I don’t give a F**K mentality.”

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When it comes to fat loss we’ve all made mistakes before and evidently we still continue to make those same mistakes. I’d like to call these mistakes, the dark side. It’s like what Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Crash Dieting

As the saying goes, the best diet is the one you can stick to.  In hindsight, I should have ditched the whole notion of “strict dieting” because it’s not sustainable.  I’ve tried it and I felt miserable. I made my clients try it and they felt miserable.  Sure, there are outliers who can stick to intense diets, but improving your quality of life is suppose to be enjoyable.

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Research has shown — and I’ve seen this myself — that the vast majority of people who lose weight, almost inevitably gain it back and more. This is typically a result of strict dieting or as I’d like to put it, the all-or-nothing approach.  Unfortunately, this is the way most people diet — they go on a low calorie, carb restricted diet, coupled with exercise. Consistency is key and with extreme methods, they never pan out in the long run. Moreover, it will wreak havoc on your metabolism making it more difficult for you to lose fat.

We’re all in this for the long run, so adding in a little more flexibility as opposed to strict (crash) dieting, goes a long way.  The quality of the food you eat should never be overlooked, but they pale in comparison to being consistent with a diet.  Put it this way, if you do not see yourself maintaining your current diet, then it won’t work for you.  Sustainability is the key for long-term success.

Neglecting Your Health

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At the end of the day, we’re only human, and what I mean by that is that we all want results…FAST! Our natural inclination is to want everything right this minute. Well let me tell you, nothing deteriorates your health quicker than training to lose fat in a short amount of time.  It doesn’t matter how slow your progress will be, just as long you keep going. Consistency is key. Keep this in mind: the faster the fruit ripens, the quicker it rots.

Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare? Slowly does it every time.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if your health is out of whack then the last thing your body wants to do is lose fat. While it is necessary to set a deadline to create urgency,  it is also a detriment to your health to rush through it. Losing weight or dropping body fat isn’t the problem — it’s keeping it off. Looking at the hierarchy of importance, your health is at the top of the list, so don’t be in such a rush to lose X amount of weight or X amount of body fat because through my experience of training different people, the slower you lose it, the more likely you’re going to keep it off.

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May the force be with you.

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Question: when you walk into a gym, what exercises do you see people mostly doing?  Probably the same thing over and over again—bench press, bicep curls, deadlift, and rows… the typical “bro workout.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be remiss if I didn’t think that these exercises can’t produce great results. In fact, I’m a huge proponent of conventional barbell training.  Majority of my program design for my clients (myself included) consists of these exercises. Strength is the foundation and developing your prime movers (big muscle groups) with exercises as such will do just that.  It creates a solid base…after all, you can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.

Now, while the aforementioned exercises are great, it’s the “supplemental work” that puts everything into play and has a bigger carryover to your sport and everyday life. In other words, it puts a stamp on your workout or training session.  It doesn’t get enough attention because they’re not seen as sexy or beastly like a deadlift or a bench press.

With that being said, here are three exercises that you should be doing.

1. Pallof Press

I’ve been to many gyms and I can honestly say that I have only seen about three people performing this exercise. The pallof press is traditionally a core exercise, specifically working on anti-rotation.  Simply put, it works on firing your core and glutes to brace and resist rotation.

The main reason why everybody should incorporate this into their program is because it’s one of those exercise that teaches the individual how to brace his/her core (you’d be surprised to see at how many people don’t know how to fully brace their core). Remember, bracing your core assists in producing maximal tension throughout your body. Maximal tension = stability = STRONG

2. Bulgarian Split Squats

I’m a huge advocate of single leg training for two reasons: sports are primarily played on one leg, not two, and it reduces the sheer forces on your lower back and knees that accumulate over time from conventional squatting.  Does that mean we should negate conventional squats? Well for some, that may be the case because from a structural standpoint, we’re not all built the same way. 

For people with long femurs (long legs), I typically minimize conventional squatting and opt for bulgarian split squats because it just looks better—positioning is solid and they’re able to hit depth relative to a front squat or a back squat. I have also found that people who do not have the requisite mobility to squat properly, have much more success executing bulgarian split squats.

Moreover, you can load up as much weight as you can with limited spinal compression.  Bang for your buck exercise right there!

3. Landmine Press

Now, with regard to overhead pressing movements (military press, barbell overhead press, snatches), whether you’re limited from a structural standpoint or simply have a mobility restriction, it’s imperative to work your way around the exercise if pain occurs from either of the two. To paraphrase Tony Gentilcore, “You have to earn the right to overhead press.”

The landmine press is an under-utilized exercise, and it gets butchered a lot. Relative to traditional overhead barbell or dumbbell pressing, the landmine press allows the lifter to work overhead movements without causing shoulder impingement.  Also, much like push up variations, it allows your scapula (shoulder blades) to move freely. Constantly pinning your shoulder blades down like on a bench press can become problematic over time. This in turn, creates shoulder issues.  Landmine press for the win!

Make it a priority to implement these exercises into your program. Have fun!

Growing up I didn’t know sh** about training or lifting weights.  I just did what looked fancy and cool. Go figure! Anyhow, I guess it’s safe to say (now that I’m a fitness professional) that I did a lot of things in the gym that were a complete waste of my time.

1. Smith Machine Squats

Photo Credit: Bodybuilding.com

It’s always up for debate whether the squat or the deadlift is the king of all exercises (topic for another day). One thing is for sure though, regardless if you’re an athlete or training to burn fat, you must… SQUAT! Squats are a must for any training program out there—performing them on a smith machine, however; will not cut it.

Squats on the smith machine would be the equivalent of cooking a ribeye steak in a microwave (why would you do that?!). You’ll end up cooking the damn thing, but the taste and texture of the meat won’t be as enticing as if you were to grill it. Here’s what I’m trying to convey: any exercise or implement that facilitates your prime movers (big muscles) in absence of your stabilizers (smaller muscles), will lead to the development of muscular imbalances and ultimately, injuries. There are tons of variations that induce a better training effect while at the same time, teaching the individual how to be proficient at squatting.

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Try this:

I think I speak for every qualified trainer and coach out there—the Goblet Squat is the go-to exercise to learn how to squat properly.  Goblet squats induce a far better training effect while limiting the stress on your lower back.

Another great alternative is a landmine squat.  I picked this up from Ben Bruno when I was out in LA back in November. Now, in comparison to the goblet squat, this variation does a great job of ingraining the idea of keeping an upright torso—limiting factor for the goblet squat—because if you lean too far forward the bar will jam into your sternum.

To sum it all up, there is no rhyme or reason to which variation you should do, because you’re better off doing either of them as opposed to doing them on a smith machine.

2. Unstable surface training

I saw a dude doing dumbbell squats the other day… ON A BOSU! I cringed every time I saw him do another set. Now, if you’re looking to burn fat, build muscle, or become a better athlete, you won’t—simply because you won’t be able to use as much weight (light weight=not enough stimulus to induce muscle growth) on an unstable surface.  If it’s not for rehabilitative purposes, stop doing them! If you can’t do a squat with correct form, then don’t do them on an unstable surface.  Training on an unstable surface such as a bosu ball, airex pad, or dyna-disc does not improve your performance or strengthen your core—there is no validity. The only thing it does is make the exercise (unnecessarily) harder—it does not translate to improved proficiency in a prescribed movement.

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Photo Credit: tnation.com

So, do me and yourself a favor and stay clear of these exercises.  Stick with the basics.