Posts Tagged ‘build muscle’


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

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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.

It’s been a minute srelaxationince I’ve posted a blog up (been slacking as of late), so I have to say it feels good to get back on that horse.  A lot has happened within the past month and a half that I still can’t even fathom what just happened. You see I’m the type of person that when I attain a certain goal, I’ll quickly move on to the next.  I’m a nomad, if you will, because I can’t keep still. I’m always moving. “I‘M A DOER DAMMIT!” However, I will enjoy this moment for a brief stint —I am my own boss! I officially made the jump from working at a commercial gym as a trainer/coach to owning my own business. Okay back to work!!

painandgainWhile I am elated to see that more and more people veering towards living a healthier lifestyle—usually from a wake up call, or better yet a b**ch slap in the face from father time—it’s really disheartening to see the media continue to publish crap that makes us scratch our heads because it creates a lot of confusion. Needless to say, there’s just too much information out there and we all know if it’s on the internet, it must be true. Right?



Contrary to popular belief, wheat bread is no different than white bread.  All breads for that matter should be avoided at all cost, if not minimally consumed to a lesser degree.  The reason for this is that all of them are made from the same ingredient…wheat! When you consume refined wheat you are basically assimilating empty calories (low in nutrients), in addition, to a rapid spike in your blood sugar.  Moreover, gluten, a non-digestible protein found mostly in wheat, has also been shown to put a damper in our immune system, diminishes brain function, and leads to gut issues.  Ezekial bread is a great alternative.


2. SOY

For the better part of a decade, we have been fooled into thinking that soy is good for you. “BUT SOY IS GOOD FOR YOU!” Soy, much like wheat, is found in almost every processed food in the market.  The prolonged consumption of soy reduces thyroid function, people.  It basically turns off your metabolism.  Moreover, it inhibits the absorption of protein by reducing your body’s ability to break it down.  Whether your plan is to build quality muscle or lose fat, soy will disrupt that.


3. LOW-FAT yogurt

Research has shown that fat isn’t the culprit of obesity.  Fat is essential not only for hormone production, but also it is the preferred source of energy for the body— which lends itself to the fact that buying low-fat dairy products is actually doing more harm than good.  Low-fat dairy products are not only incredibly low in fat, but they’re low in nutrients, and also extremely high in sugar and filled with artificial sweeteners to make up for taste.  This in turn, will further suppress your immune system.  You’re better off buying them whole and preferably organic, as opposed to low-fat.

Next time you go grocery shopping, don’t just look at the nutrition content. Delve into it a little bit more by looking at the ingredients.