Archive for the ‘strengthtraining’ Category


Today’s post is pretty much a follow up to my previous blog, “The ONLY Advice You Need to Build Muscle and Lose Fat.”  I felt like I needed to follow it up because funny enough, a buddy of mine asked me a similar question with regards to building muscle and concurrent fat loss.

The undeniable truth is that the vast majority of society are indeed overweight. We run through a vicious cycle of weight loss and weight gain and as result, it discourages us.  2016 is around the corner, so all those new year resolutions are coming and we all know how that goes.


 Here’s what you need to know:

  • Having the right mindset will prime you up for success.
  • Motivation is for amateurs. Commitment and discipline reign supreme.
  • If you can’t see yourself maintaining your current diet/nutrition protocols, then it’s not going to work for you.
  • Maintaining strength is key if you want to hold onto muscle while you drop weight.

1. Get your mind right


One of my former mentors once told me that successful people do what is necessary whether they feel like it or not. That’s what differentiates the successful ones and the not so successful ones.  I’d be lying to you if I told you that my energy is through the roof for every workout — it’s not. Through the course of training, the amount of stress that you’re going to accumulate will be taxing both mentally and physically.

It’s easy to train your ass off when you’re eating whatever you want, but extremely difficult when you’re dieting. When you factor in other outside stressors such as your career and family, it makes things even more challenging.

 I never worry about action, but only about inaction”– Sir Winston Churchhill


One thing you have to understand is that the bigger the change you’re suggesting, the more it will sap your self-control. Self-control is an exhaustible resource (willpower isn’t going to do you any good), which is why you have to make sure you have the right mindset. This is why when I start working with a new client, one of my top priorities is to instill commitment and discipline because that’s what creates accountability and sustainability.

2. Prioritize your diet and track your macros


The most pertinent issue with regards to fitness is adherence to a sound nutrition protocol. We’ve all heard that you can’t out-train a poor diet and it’s true.  I’ve experienced so many people who train their asses off and have subpar results. Don’t overlook the importance of quality nutrition.

Figuring out how much you need to eat is going to be determined by how active you are, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume you’re training 3 times a week. By tracking your macronutrient intake, you can key in on what’s working and what’s not. Are you taking in too much carbs? Not getting enough protein? Are you consuming a sufficient amount of calories? Things like that can help you dial in what is needed.

Put another way, it’s adds a level of precision towards achieving your goals. It’s ensures that you’re consuming the appropriate amount of calories and an ideal amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.


Getting in shape is suppose to complement your lifestyle, not take away from it.  What ever nutrition protocol you decide to do, just make sure it’s something you can adhere to and sustain.

3. Prioritize strength training


One of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re trying to get lean is not placing a premium on strength, and to my own misfortune, I was a victim of this as well. You have to understand that building muscle and losing fat are two of the most dichotomous things when dealing with the human body. When you’re attempting to shed some fat, you will lose some muscle. Conversely, when you’re trying to build muscle, you’re going to gain some body fat.

MAINTAINING AS MUCH MUSCLE as possible should be your top priority and you can only do that through strength training. Copious amounts of cardio does not give your body a reason to hold on to muscle. While the benefits of cardio are clearly evident, you don’t need to employ it that much. In fact, I’ve had clients make progress with little to no amount of cardio at all.

Remember — lift heavy, live healthy!


Here’s Ann who lost 8lbs and 4% body just in time for her trip to New York by meticulously tracking her macros and doing no cardio.

Here’s Joyce still lifting heavy while trying to lean out. #Boss

There you have it. I hope that these simple tips can help you get to your goals. Remember, extreme methods don’t pan out in the long run.  Be patient and stay the course. Don’t wait for the new year to get started. Get after it!

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

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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.


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



Here’s what you need to know:

  • The weight scale will deter you from reaching your goals.
  • Not eating a sufficient amount of quality food will dampen your progress.
  • Hours and hours of cardiovascular activity (elliptical, treadmill, zumba) will elevate the amount of cortisol in your body—excessive amounts will breakdown muscle tissue.
  • Progressive overload is key in building muscle.

It’s been an awful long time since you’ve stepped foot in the gym, about four months to be exact.  Within those four months you’ve developed some bad habits that inevitably took a toll on your health— you’ve put on some weight, you wake up every morning feeling like you want to go back to sleep, and you always crave sugar. Now all of sudden, you get motivated again to reclaim the figure you once had because let’s face it…we are all, to some degree a bit narcissistic—we want to look good. If you look good, you feel good!

Two weeks have passed and you’ve lost five pounds through dieting and training.  You’re so elated that you turn it up a notch—strict dieting and countless hours at the gym.  A month has passed and it’s time to step on the scale.  Your weight didn’t change at all.  You get discouraged and lose all your “motivation.”

Sound familiar?

Let me tell you that I have trained and interacted with a lot of women, and this is not uncommon.

Here are four mistakes women make with their training.

1. Fixation on the scale



When the goal is primarily fat loss, there are two factors that are ultimately going to determine how successful you are going to be—weight and body fat. Unfortunately, rather than using a more direct and accurate approach—checking body fat—women tend to gravitate towards the former.  If left unchecked, this can be a recipe for disaster because it can deter you from any progress you’re fully capable of attaining.

Now, there is a distinction between weight loss and fat loss.  Losing weight is not indicative of how well you’re doing and a gain of 1.5 lbs does not mean “work harder and eat less” (this happens a lot) —while under-exercising can contribute to becoming fat and sluggish, over-exercising can cause immune system suppression.

If you see your weight drop it doesn’t mean you’ve lost a reasonable amount of fat.  Conversely, when you see your weight go up it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve added fat.  Fluctuations are a part of the process. Keep things in perspective, don’t allow the little things to get in the way of your goal, and toss your scale!

2. Not eating enough


Don’t be entirely consumed with where your caloric intake should be, specifically regarding cutting back calories. While there is some merit to the “calories-in, calories-out” method, it’s not the be-all end-all approach for fat loss. My issue with it is that your basically starving yourself and while it may work short-term, you will inevitably gain back what you have worked so hard to lose.  Reason being is because your thyroid function will start to diminish, as a result of decreased energy (caloric intake) coupled with higher frequency (training). Simply put, this will turn down your metabolism further suppressing your body’s ability to breakdown fat. Focus on the quality of the food rather than the quantity.

3. Relying heavily on cardio


jogger.jpgNothing makes me cringe more than seeing a person ride the elliptical or run on the treadmill for hours. While there is nothing inherently wrong with cardio, there are some implications that can arise and could become problematic in the future.

Cardiovascular activity (aerobic) is a vital component for fat loss, but it’s not the most efficient.  You don’t need to beat yourself up by running everyday or going to cycling class five times a week. Long bouts of an aerobic based workout on a day-to-day basis causes the release of excess amount of cortisol, which will cause muscle breakdown and storage of fat, in addition to, prohibiting formation of additional muscle.  15 – 30 minutes of aerobic training a day will do the trick on resistance training days.  Circuit weight training has also been shown to be more beneficial with regard to fat loss as well.

4. Lightweight


You see, muscle is very expensive in the body. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’re able to burn (increased metabolism). That is why I’m still dumbfounded by the fact that there are still a lot of women out there who think that lifting weights is going to make you “bulky and muscular.” You don’t get glutes like this by participating in zumba or spin class three times a week.


You get glutes like this by progressive overload — heavier weights and an accumulation of volume. To a certain extent, how I train my female clients is no different than how I train my male clients.  I still have them perform the deadlift and squat a reasonable amount of weight that provides enough stimulus for the body to adapt and grow.  I mean come on, who doesn’t want to get stronger? The confidence that comes with increased strength is advantageous to your overall health.

Here’s one of my clients deadlifting 192lbs for a double.

Remember: your body won’t change if you don’t challenge yourself.