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Do this When You Can’t Do That

We know them… we might even love them (bless their hearts)… the resolutioners. They stampede the gyms every new year with good intentions, only to slowly thin out like a mild case of male pattern baldness when February/March comes around. You can’t hate them. You can’t blame them… but besides the fact that they don’t understand proper gym etiquette (read ‘curling in the squat rack’), There’s just so MANY… and they’re taking up all the equipment!!!

So, in light of the new year and your frustrations, here’s a quick list of alternate lifts you can do when you don’t have time to wait for a free squat rack, barbell, or bench…

Squats
This is the most common. Although, I don’t understand it. Gyms often seem to skimp on squat racks, and everyone wants to do ALL their exercises in them… The next time someone is taking up the only squat rack in your gym. Try one of these on for size… instead.

single leg squat
Single Leg Squat
These things are BRUTAL and a great way to get your minor stabilizers active as well. Not only will you gain strength in your quads, but your balance will improve DRASTICALLY.
Regime: Start with no weight for safety. Then, use enough weight to do 3 sets of 10-12. The higher reps will allow a good leg workout without prematurely fatiguing your stabilizers with too much weight.

Dumbbell-SquatDumbbell Squat
Here’s an exercise I almost NEVER see people doing at the gym. I like to do these once a month to focus more on my squat form and less on the weight I’m pushing. This will give you a great burn, a great grip workout, and better prepare you for the big squats when those curlers are finally gone.
Regime: Hold enough weight to pull off 4 sets of 6-8 reps. This will target those big quads and glutes while still letting you focus on form.

Deadlifts
Everyone’s FAVORITE lift… right? Right?!?! Unfortunately, it requires a bar. Just like a lot of other exercises. A lot of other exercises everyone else is doing. The Deadlift is a tough exercise to replicate because of it’s inherent multitasking properties (All three levels of Back, Legs, Core and Shoulders). I’m going to show you a circuit that works well when all the barbells are used up…

I tried to keep this list focused on exercises that don’t require too much equipment. So you can knock these out in any occasion with only dumbbells.

Top Left: Bent Over Row (Dumbbell): 4 Set of 8 Reps
Bottom Left: Straight Legged Deadlift (Dumbbell): 3 Sets of 10 Reps
Right: Shrug (Dumbbell): 3 Sets of 15 Reps (Go Heavy)

Dumbbell Bent Over Row
Bend your knees slightly to allow your upper body to lean over to ~100 degrees or so. This exercise will focus on your middle back, lats, and core.

Dumbbell Straight Legged Deadlift
The main thing here is “straight legged” keeping your legs straight as possible will focus the majority of the work to your lower back. Make sure you don’t go too heavy on this one… and for god sake… go SLOW.

Dumbbell Shrug
Everyone knows this one. I like to put the dumbbells not at the side, but not quite in the front either. Get them right between the two for a good trap workout. Go heavy and high rep for a grip strength workout bonus!

Bench Press
Unfortunately, there’s not too many new and innovative alternatives for this classic. The common push-up does WONDERS for someone trying to get into shape… with that being said, lets check out some variations of the common push-up.

pushups

Push-up Circuit (weighted or unweighted)
This is a killer workout in itself. It works your core, chest and arms. Strength AND Endurance.
Regime: Do each until failure. Do not rest in between the three push-up types. Start with decline (feet elevated), do until failure. Move directly to regular push-ups, and do until failure. Finally, elevate your hands and perform incline until failure. Then take a GOOD rest (5 minutes or so), and do it again. Do 3 sets.

I’ve listed alternative movements for the Big 3. Even though they aren’t permanent replacements for the 3 classics, they will work the same muscle groups in a pinch.  This is a great arsenal to have in your back pocket for when the gym is packed full of NY resolutioners and you don’t have the time to wait.

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The 5/2 Diet vs IF, and the secret ingredient to the Leangains method

Some of you previous readers may know that I think very highly of IF and the Leangains method. However, in the past 6-7 months, I have been witnessing a diminish in returns in relevance to muscle mass gain. I was losing strength, energy, and it was taking more and more effort to get through my training sessions. It wasn’t until I read an article on T-Nation regarding a tweaked version of the 5/2 Method that I realized EXACTLY what was going on with my body.

Let’s rewind a bit, back to 6-7 months ago when I made a slight change to my normal Leangains method. I was 6 months post shoulder surgery, and trying to get a grip on my body fat percentage before jumping back into full strength conditioning. I was limiting my daily caloric intake to about 1900 calories for both T-Days and R-Days, eating only in a 7 hour window, and working out only about 3 times a week. It definitely got my BF% back into check, but (and I didn’t realize it at the time) it was hindering so many other aspects.

The culprit of my minimal gains… Rather, I was MISSING this…

Read this for more great info on BCAAs!
The main issue was protein intake, and the large window of fasting every day. I wasn’t taking the Branched Chain Amino Acids as the Leangains protocol suggests, so my body didn’t have the building blocks available throughout the day for muscle growth.

Enter the 5/2 Method. You eat normal, throughout the day, 5 days per week. Typically, in a larger feeding window (i.e. 12 hours) to stave off catabolism. The other two days, you drastically limit your calories (I’m shooting for about 800). The trick is, even on those two “fasting” days, you time your meals so that your body has the protein it needs for the day. Protein shake (40g) in the morning, one in the afternoon (40g), and a small meal in the evening. I like to also drink 2 cups of skim milk before bed to keep my body repairing for as long as possible.

The two “fasting” days: Must be non-consecutive. Must be Rest Days. Get your Protein in.
The five “normal” days: Eat normal. Don’t over-eat. Protein and Carbs after your workout.

That’s all there is to it. So far, this method has brought back my overall energy levels, and my lifts are already going up again. This method is very simplistic, but it seems to work VERY well. I’ll write up a follow-up in a month or so. Give it a shot if you are struggling with IF/Leangains!

Last thing. If you’re doing IF or Leangains. TAKE YOUR BCAAs!!!!!! 😉

The Ups and Downs of Proper Stretching

Stretching is definitely an important part of any workout. A lot of us (yes, including myself) are guilty of cutting this out of our daily routines in an effort to save time. It frequently, if not always, gets the lowest priority at the gym and as a result people continue to injure themselves.

That being said, improperly stretching is as bad (if not worse) than not stretching at all. Its almost every gym visit that I see someone over in the stretching area doing some form of static stretching before their workout. Whether they are on the floor holding a ridiculously long groin stretch, or they are using one of the wooden poles to over stretch their delts in all kinds of awkward positions. I wanted to break down the three main types of stretching and how to use them properly at the gym. This should aid in preventing unecessary injuries and provide you with better ROM and performance while performing your workouts.

Dynamic Stretch (DS): This is a continuous movement that replicates the exercise to be performed. In other words, its a much lower intensity replica of the exercise you are stretching for. Examples: Arm Circles, Knee Highs (running in place), Arm Swings

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Static Stretch (SS): This is the stretching everyone remembers from gym class. Stretch a muscle to its limits and hold for 30+ seconds. Examples: Toe Touch (hold), Butterfly Stretch

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Ballistic Stretch (BS): This stretch typically uses your body weight or momentum to force a muscle beyond its normal range of motion. Normally, this is performed by bouncing in and out of a stretch. Example: Typically any SS can be a ballistic stretch if performed in a bouncing beyond ROM fashion.

Now that we have those established lets talk about the goods, the bads, and the please-don’t-do-this-evers. Firstly, dynamic stretching is typically okay to do at anytime. This is because the movements are mild and do not cause any type of stress on the joints or muscles. Arm circles are a great dynamic stretch prior to shoulder press and chest press movements. Dynamic stretching can be used prior to your workout, but are also extremely effective when used intra-workout in between sets.
Studies have shown that athletes perform better after a short period of dynamic stretching (versus not stretching, and static stretching). In these studies, DS increased ROM and vertical jump (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23498355). So, really, because the purpose of DS is to properly warm-up your joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscle fibers without detriment to performance, there is no need for DS in the post workout window.

The main points to remember about dynamic stretching is that the movement must be continuous, and it must somehow correlate to the upcoming exercise. This not only stretches your ligaments and tendons safely, but it also warms up the muscles for activity.

Moving on to static stretching. Your old gym coach had you stretching your hamstrings to the limit before playing a mild and boring game of dodgeball for the 5th time in a week. Little did he know (WAY back then!) that those simple and harmless stretches were negatively effecting your class’ performance. Recently, more and more people are doing small studies to support this claim. One study even showed that sprinters are significantly SLOWER after performing static stretches (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15574098). There have also been studies that have shown that muscle strength can decrease up to 9% during the hour after static stretching.

Although it has been proven that SS has no place before or during a workout, it is VERY beneficial during the post workout window when performed safely and properly. It helps your muscles (et al.) cool down slowly and prevents muscle cramps. When performing SS, please remember to keep your movements slow, never stretch passed a comfortable position, and always release at the first signs of discomfort.

Finally, ballistic stretching. I only included BS to tell you not to do it. Ever. It pushes your ROM too far and will absolutely lead to injury. Its just a matter of time. Never bounce during stretches, and don’t ever stretch past a comfortable level of ROM.

So to sum it up, please stretch before, during, and after your workout. Look at your workout and determine some beneficial dynamic stretches that you can perform before and during your session. Afterwards, do a simple all body static stretch regime to properly cool down. I have gone a few years without stretching at all and I can tell you from experience, that it does make a huge difference in your overall joint/muscle health. It may not increase flexibility for everyone (I’m still as inflexible as ever) but it will prevent injuries that would otherwise stifle progress in the gym.

LG and IF dissected?

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*Please note that Leangains is not just the fasting/feeding method I’m describing.  It is a weight training system as well. I’m simply going to focus on the nutrition side on this blog entry. k thx bai…

I had a friend ask me about the Leangains schedule recently.  She is fairly new to the Leangains scene and her schedule is less than optimal for this type of regime.  After a long discussion about the best road to take, I agreed to make her a simplified (my attempt at simple) chart for her more visually-structured aptitude (pictured above).

After I made it, I thought two things… First, I thought that it didn’t look HALF as simple as I thought it would. Lastly, I though I should post it here.  By doing so, I think I should dedicate a lengthy page as to the “whys” of the schedule… So I’m going to try and break it down according to the colored sections on the chart. Inherently, this will pan out to be a paraphrased 101 on the Leangains system.  I only hope I don’t ruffle any feathers with the Leangains.com creator, Martin Berkhan. Pls to bear with me, kind sirs and madams…

Fasting Window
Duration: This window is important. Females need only fast for 14 hours to reap the same benefits as a male fasting for 16 hours. That being said, once women are satisfied that they can perform the 14 hour fast, they can (and should) move the fasting window up to 16 hours for better results.
 “In the beginning, when I used to recommend 16 hours of fasting across the board, some women didn’t do as great as men; this was solved by shortening the fast to 14 hrs for women.” Ref: http://www.leangains.com/2008/11/back-at-it.html
 “But for women my default approach is to actually start off with 14 hrs and see how they do on that before eventually moving them to 16 hrs. When you look at the studies on gender and fasting, you tend to see that women may have slightly more adverse reactions to fasting than men, such as some degree of irritability and increased attention to food cues.” Ref: http://www.leangains.com/2009/11/questions-answers_23.html

Preworkout Meal
This section is optional.The majority of Leangains practitioners workout in their fasted state. However, if your schedule does not allow this, using a preworkout meal works just as well if you follow the guidelines.

  •     Guideline #1: Any combined food before workout should not contain more than 35% of your total TDay carbohydrates. To put it another way, you must save 65% of your carbohydrates for AFTER your workout.  Post workout is the window that your body is crying for carbohydrates. It uses them more efficiently. More about carbohydrates in the Postworkout Nutrients section.
  •     Guideline #2: Any amount of protein is fine in your preworkout meal. Just remember that you need to keep it lean.  Tdays need to stay low-fat.

Workout
A lot of times, the workout window is placed strategically at the end of your fasting window.  In a perfect world, if your workout lasted 1 hour, you would start working out 1 hour before your fasting window ended. Perfect worlds are only good for baselines… they aren’t real. If you are like my friend, and you can’t workout until a few hours after your fasting window ends… then its okay to break your fast at the end of your normal 14/16 hours with a preworkout meal. All this means is that you won’t take advantage of the benefits of working out fasted (Which is ACTUALLY pretty substantial). Ref: http://rippedbody.jp/when-not-to-do-cardio/

Post Workout Nutrients
Post workout nutrients is what you put in your body immediately after working out. It consists of two things: Proteins and Carbohydrates.  As most of you know, protein comes in many forms. Most of us are familiar with whey protein. It works fast (typically metabolizes at a rate of 10g per hour), but there are many slower absorbing proteins like Egg and Casein.

  • Carbohydrates: Just like proteins, carbohydrates vary in absorption (for lack of a better term) from simple sugars to whole grains. Carbohydrates have this funny little classification called their “Glycemic index”. This measure how quickly a carbohydrate hits your blood-stream and is essentially metabolized. For your post workout carbohydrates, try to target 30-40g and make sure they are fast acting (i.e. apples, bananas, fruit juice, soda, waxy-maize, etc.) so that they hit your blood stream quickly and spike your insulin levels.

After working out, your body (not as immediate as popular belief) becomes somewhat catabolic. Especially, if you are working out in a fasted state. Your body is looking for energy and since, being fasted, you have nothing to offer it, it starts stripping your muscle (among other things) for energy.  To stop this catabolic state, you must spike your insulin by ingesting the 30-40g carbohydrates.

  • Proteins: I like to hit 50g of whey immediately after my workout. Some people stick to 25g. It all depends on you overall daily protein requirements, and what you are comfortable with. 25g will definitely do the job, but if you have a target of 200g for TDay, why not get a jump start with a 50g whey shake? Just make sure its whey so that it hits your system fast.

To sum it up, 30-40g “Fast” carbohydrates, and 25-50g “Fast” protein immediately after your workout will spike your insulin and supply your body with sufficient protein.

Finish Consuming Macros
This is simple. Eat, eat, eat. IIFIYM (If It Fits In Your Macros) holds true.  Everything you ingest gets broken down into fundamental and functional blocks of energy that your body can use. Some take longer to break down which is why “experts” say its better to eat whole grain.  ALL types of carbohydrates have a use… even HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).  If you know when to take them, you can use their absorption rates to your advantage. Stay true on your protein is the most important. Eat as many carbohydrates as you can without going over. This is crucial to the carb cycling process. Keep your intake low-fat and you had a perfect TDay of nutrition!!!

Training With a Bug

It’s that time of year again! No, not for New Year’s Resolutions… for getting sick. Getting a cold or flu can be frustrating if not for the mere fact that it keeps you from your gym routine. There has been a lot of controversy over the years regarding whether or not you should hit the gym if you are sick, and I have gone to the source(s) to get the skinny on training sick.

Personally, I hate being kept from working out.  If I CHOOSE to not go, that’s one thing.  However, if my body is telling me I CAN’T go… this is when frustration sets in and I end up doing something stupid (like working out and making myself even more sick, or worse… blacking out at the gym). Don’t be me, please.

Prior To Getting Sick
First off, how do we avoid getting sick? Well, I’m no doctor (shocker!), but it seems to vary greatly between individuals. Some people get sick often, some rarely get sick.  I’m not going to go into all the physiological variables that go into staying healthy (mainly because I have no clue about them), but I will talk about staying healthy in regards to exercise and diet.

CNS (Central Nervous System):  You CNS is subject to all sorts of strains. Whether it be stress, exercise, or simply not enough rest. To keep it healthy, try not to over-tax it at the gym. Working out HARD is okay, but be sure to know when to break, and keep track of your deload weeks. If you constantly stress your CNS during the cold/flu season, your body is much less likely to fight off illness. Rest is another key to a healthy CNS.  Not just sleep, but relaxation as well. Make a commitment to incorporating enough of both into your busy schedule. Read More about this here: http://rippedbody.jp/2012/01/01/why-training-hard-rather-than-smart-will-keep-you-fat-this-new-year/

My doctor has recommended a regime of foods that will keep the sick bugs at bay. He is constantly around sick patients, and he says he never gets sick when he adds these foods to his diet.
Garlic: Not only helps fight off sickness, but helps cure it. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/garlic-immunity-boosting-superstar
Yogurt: Vitamin D and Probiotic http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-yogurt
Almonds: Anti-viral properties http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8098656/Eating-almonds-can-help-to-fight-off-viruses.html

He also recommends to ingest Probiotics and increase the quantity of vegetables and fruits during the winter months.

Once You Are Sick
Inevitably, you will eventually get sick. So what should you do? Can you go to the gym? Should you lift weights? Should you run hard? Was I supposed to sweat a cold, or was it a fever??

The main thing to remember here is: If you have a fever, stay home and sleep. This is for many reasons. One, you don’t want to get everyone else sick at the gym… it’s just bad etiquette. Second, your body has elevated its temperature in order to fight off infection. Exercise… also raises your core temperature. Experiencing the two at the same time is not only uncomfortable, but extremely dangerous. So please, don’t sweat your fever. Rest it, and drink your fluids.

If you don’t have a fever, there is actually a rule-of-thumb you can use to help you decide. If your symptoms are “Above the neck” (i.e. sore throat, sniffles, teary eyes) you are in okay shape to hit the gym.  If your symptoms are “Below the neck” (i.e. lower respiratory chest congestion, stomach/digestive flu, fatigue, etc.) Do not go to the gym. Read more here http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/exercising-when-sick

Working Out Under The Weather
Weights: Deload. Lift about 60% of your 1RM. A few extra reps are okay, but try not to have a lengthy gym session.
Cardio Work: Mild to moderate. If you are supposed to be doing sprints, lower the intensity. Choose a moderate jog or brisk walking session instead.
Strength Stretching: Yoga and Pilates are great for when you aren’t feeling 100%. Feel free to incorporate these into your session when you are sick.

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Aside

Leangains without the fasting… Possible?

A handful of people have asked me for this, so here it goes…

I should probably start out by saying that I am an avid practitioner of LeanGains.  A lot of people I have spoken with want to reap the rewards of Leangains without doing any of the fasting.  To them I would say that it is actually a lot EASIER to accomplish by fasting. This is because when you don’t eat ANYTHING for a period of the day, you aren’t tempted to ‘cheat’. Also, when you only have 8 hours to eat a days worth of calories, you are full and satisfied. If you stretch those calories out to a 16 hour window of eating, it doesn’t seem to be quite as much food.

That being said, I wrote up a guideline those people can follow without fasting. Yes, it will require MUCH more willpower but it is still possible and effective.

I broke this into two parts. Nutrition and Exercise.  Please don’t feel like I’m insulting your intelligence.  I’m just trying to be thorough and understandable. Also keep in mind that the nutrition portion is much much MUCH more important than the exercise portion. MUCH. Also, I’m not claiming to be a nutritionist.  This is simply the knowledge I have acquired over the years through trial and error and a few great websites.  It has worked wonders for me and it will for you too. It is laid out for you with all the BS and myth removed for you to either accept, or discard.  Remember, this is one method amongst many. You’ve tried Ketosis and you like it better? Great. I’m not debating the effectiveness of other methods. This is the one I use, and it is extremely effective. With or without the fasting aspect.

Part 1 – Nutrition

Calorie Counting – While calorie counting is important as a tool to gauge your intake, what those calories consist of is even more important.  Finding the balance that your body can slam through is the main goal.  Eat, Assess, Tweak, Repeat. This process doesn’t take nearly as long as you would think.  It took me roughly 2 months to find that sweet spot.

In addition, daily calorie intake isn’t nearly as important as your weekly calorie intake. If you overeat on a rest day, you can always make up for that on your next rest day, for example. You will be losing bodyfat (I hate the term losing weight) on your rest days because you will be eating in deficit (less calories than you burn). The more rest days you have per week, the faster your bodyfat will go… However, I don’t recommend having more than 4 days rest per week. Your Training Days keep your metabolism revved and help you build lean mass.

++Training Day++

Eat over your maintenance (TDEE  – Total Daily Energy Expenditure) in calories: On T-days (days you lift heavy), you need to take advantage of the post-workout window.  This window is considered any time after your workout, and before you sleep. You must eat more calories than your body burns on your training days.  This is so your body not only has enough proteins and carbohydrates to build lean muscle, but also so that it becomes more haphazard with extra calories.  When calories are readily available, and you are consistently burning them your body becomes more efficient in burning them (increased metabolism). Even if you choose not to do the fasting aspect of LeanGains/Intermittent Fasting the other key points are extremely valid. Try to eat the majority of your daily intake of carbs during your post-workout window. Try to at least eat 60% of your carbs SOMETIME after you workout.  Your body is begging for carbs and it will use them much more readily instead of storing them on your body.

Key Points to Remember:

  1. High Carb – On your training days, you must eat high carb meals. This is known as carb cycling, and it works!
  2. Standard Lean Protein – There is no “try” on this piece. You MUST eat your body-weight in grams worth of protein daily. This is both for Training and Rest days. That number should be easy enough to remember. So if you are 200lbs… you must eat 200g of Protein per day.  The more muscle you put on, the faster your body will burn bodyfat. By lean protein, I mean no fatty meats. No Salmon, No 80/20 ground beef, no pork roast. Chicken is great, and so is tuna. Fat free milk is a GOD SEND for training days… it has carbs, it has protein, and it has no fat. If your digestive system can handle it, drink lots of it on T-Days.
  3. Low to No Fat <30g – On training days, you stay away from fat.  This is because on T-Days, you eat MORE than you burn in calories.  When you do this, your body stores the extra for future use.  If you eat fat, the fat will get stored on your body. Save the fats for Rest days. Don’t forget, fats sneak in if you eat fatty meats.

Immediately after your workout, take in: 30g+ Protein, 30-40g Simple Carbs (this is equivalent to 4-6 oz of apple juice)… This will stop your body from catabolism. Catabolism is when your body breaks down your muscle for the proteins… You don’t want this to happen. Truthfully, this doesn’t happen right away.  However, I have noticed a significant increase in lean mass when I practice this.

++Rest Day++

Eat under your maintenance (TDEE) in calories: Rest days are good and bad… On one hand you get to eat the more fatty types of proteins like bacon, pork, salmon, etc… however, you cannot eat more than your maintenance calories because you don’t want your body storing any of the fat that you are eating.  So you must first make sure you are getting enough protein. That way you don’t go over your calories trying to fit in your daily protein.  Protein always takes priority.

Key Points to Remember:

  1. High Fat – High fat is probably not the right phrase I should use… You don’t want to go overboard.  Try to keep your fat intake between 0-80. If its low, even better. If its 70 or 80… no harm done. This is great because you won’t feel like you are dieting as much when you can eat fats. Just make sure whatever fatty food you are eating isn’t ALSO high in carbs. Carbs are bad on R-Days.
  2. Standard Lean or Fatty Protein – You must eat your body-weight in grams worth of protein daily. You can still eat chicken or tuna if you want, but you also have the option to eat ground beef, salmon, pork, etc if you want to. This will give you the satisfaction as well as the satiation (feeling of fullness) you sometimes don’t get when dieting.
  3. Low to No Carbs – Rest days should be low in carbs.  Typically under 100g, but when I get a handle on it, I like to stay under 50g.  The stricter you are, the faster the results will come.  Since you ate a LOT of carbs on your T-day, your body will be revved up on R-Day and not have any carbs to burn… this will result in you shedding body fat at a more rapid rate. Remember, dairy has carbs… stay away from dairy on R-Day.

Tip for R-Day – Eggs… Lots of Eggs…and cheese.

Part 2 – Exercise

Exercise is similar to nutrition in that there are SO many ways to do it right. There are different programs for different goals. I will simply be highlighting the method I use because it has done wonders for my frame. It has helped in lowering bodyfat and adding lean mass in a relatively short amount of time.

  • Always start your workout with a compound lift. Always. This will require the most energy of you and it needs to be performed when you have the most energy. Compound lifts should be performed for 6-8 reps (beginning lifter) or 4-6 (intermediate lifter). 6-8 reps will allow the beginner to focus on form, and learn the fluid motion.  Regardless of experience, your rest in between sets should be longer than other lifts. Compound lifts should be completed with you as fresh as possible. Even if this means resting 5 minutes in between sets.

Beginner (3-4 sets of 6-8 reps)
Intermediate (5 sets of 4-6)

  • Second, you should work on the larger muscle group of the day. For example, you should always work your back or quads before you work your calves or biceps. This is a great time to do your pull-ups or chin-ups. I recommend 6-8 reps for this group of exercises. Once you can hit 8 reps, you may want to add a little more weight.

3-4 sets of 6-8 reps

  • Third, isolation movements. These are the vast amount of exercise that only work a single muscle group (i.e. bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, calf raises, etc). They require the least amount of energy and should be saved for when you are nearing the end of your workout.
  • Lastly, Any additional work. This group includes additional ab/core work you feel the need to accomplish, as well as cardio. I always try to keep cardio to a minimum and save my energy for lifting. Warmup 10 minute cardio and post workout cardio are fine.

Drink lots of water. Throughout the day, and during your workout. Please!

If you want to read more in-depth science behind these ways, please go to

http://leangains.com Martin is the founder and is highly knowledgeable… and pretty funny too.

If you like things paraphrased but still enjoy learning the intricate parts, go to

http://rippedbody.jp Andy took Leangains and translated it for the layman. GREAT content!

Hamster Wheels…

Some people get it, and some people don’t.  I understand that, but it kills me! Especially the ones that go to the gym day in and day out. The ones that are trying so hard, but aren’t willing to change certain discrepancies in their daily routine.  Namely, their intake.

There’s this girl at my gym… She’s not terribly overweight, but she’s always on the treadmill… low speed… brisk walk… 30 minutes to an hour. She always telling me how she can never lose the weight. I tell her about strength training, about proper nutrition, but it goes in one ear and out the other.  She doesn’t want to do what it takes. She doesn’t think she should have to sacrifice certain foods.

30 minutes of walking isn’t going to get you where you want to be.  Neither is 1 hour of weightlifting, if you don’t eat properly.

I have a friend who eats HORRIBLY just because he thinks going to the gym should ALLOW him to do this. Why do certain people feel so entitled?

So yeah, they get it or they don’t.  I just don’t know what to say to them anymore… They are NEVER going to reach their goals unless they sacrifice. Unless they do what it takes. If they want to gain muscle mass, they HAVE to eat in surplus… HAVE to… and it has to be a lot of protein. At LEAST 1g per pound of bodyweight. If they want to lose fat, they have to eat in deficit. Whether it be low-fat, low-carb, keto, IF/LG, that’s an entirely different discussion… but it has to be lower in calories than their TDEE.

There are people that actually KNOW this but don’t follow it. Then they wonder why they aren’t getting to where they want to be. How crazy is this?!?! Its called work for a reason. You take it a day at a time, and you work towards your goal. If they want to eat horribly everyday, that’s fine. I just don’t understand why they are surprised when they find themselves slipping in the opposite direction. Intake is everything. Everything.

I secretly hope these people read this entry because I don’t have the heart to break it to them in this fashion, but I feel that sometimes… this is the kind of tough love they need before they realize how ridiculous their expectations are.