Category Archives: Nutrition

5 Fat Loss Tips to Get You Ready for Summer

Summer is right around the corner even though it just snowed a couple days ago here in New England.

Despite the snow, the temperatures have been getting warmer, and we’re slowly transitioning out of hibernation and will soon be attending cookouts, bbq’s, pool parties, and heading to the beach.

So it only makes sense to shift our focus towards fat loss.

We gotta look good for the summer, right?

If you want to lose fat, improve your confidence, and feel really awesome, then put these tips to use when planning your summer fat loss protocol.

Fat Loss Begins with an Understanding

Getting lean and sexy for the summer is more than just eating less and working out.

If you’re new to dieting/nutrition, having a good understanding of the basics of nutrition can go a long way.

As much as I love using a kitchen scale for consistency and accuracy with portions, you simply don’t need to be worrying about measuring anything with a food scale quite yet.

For the beginner, it’s important to learn what foods contain protein. Which contain carbohydrates. Which contain fats.

Diet concept. Big red dice with options.

While the fat loss recipe does involve exercise, calorie deficits and consistency, it’s more important for someone brand new to the game to get a solid understanding of these building blocks before getting into the details.

Don’t go for a complete overhaul right off the bat.

Even if you know your diet is pretty poor.

Changing everything at once will make it incredibly difficult to stick to and will not get you super fast results.

Start with small things like drinking more water, eating protein at every meal, and including a serving of veggies at every meal.

Things like that work. And they work quite well.

Instead of eating this or avoiding that, demonizing this food group, and tip-toeing around with your nutrition, start with small changes and build from there.

Create a good foundation to work from. Learning the basics of dieting from the beginning will help you for many years to come regardless of your goals.

Simple awareness is one of the BEST tools you can use when aiming to lose weight and body fat. Being aware of what, how much, and when you’re eating are important to creating a sustainable fat loss plan that fits YOU.

Keeping a food log for the first few days of starting out will benefit you in knowing your eating tendencies. You can then make small changes based on what you’re currently doing instead of starting completely from scratch.

Get a Close Estimate of Food Intake

Once you’ve become aware of your eating habits, you should begin to take an assessment of total food intake.

You can go old-school pen and paper, or use apps like My Fitness Pal to log your food intake for several days.

myfitnesspal-options

Understand that logging your food isn’t going to cause fat loss.

But what it will do is help you get an idea of how much you’re actually eating, and the amounts of each macronutrient you’re consuming each day.

Based on the data you record, you can then see what needs to be improved.

For the majority of people, eating more protein and fewer carbs and fats is likely needed.

Carbs and fats are easier to eat, so getting those in is pretty easily done without trying. Check out your protein total at the end of a day of logging and strive to get in about 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.

Logging your food for a few days will be very beneficial. If you think you’re only eating 2,000 calories, but you total everything up and you’re at 3,200 calories, then that would be the reason for stalled weight loss.

So get an idea of your total caloric intake and make adjustments from there.

Eat Foods You Like

Seems a bit counterproductive for me to recommend eating all the foods you love, right?

Well, not so fast.

Too many people attack fat loss with the mentality of ‘gotta eat clean’ and ‘no junk food, ever.’

What happens every single time with this approach?

It doesn’t work!

Now I’m not saying you have to eat ‘junk’ food.

No, not at all actually.

What I’m suggesting is that you figure out how to incorporate foods you like to eat into your overall diet strategy.

If you hate chicken breast, then you don’t have to eat it. You can get protein from many other sources.

If the sight of oatmeal makes you sick, then don’t eat it. 

There are so many foods that can satisfy your protein, carb, fat, veggie, and fruit sources that your options are pretty much endless.

What I would recommend is to start incorporating some whole food sources into your meals if you aren’t currently doing so.

You don’t need to completely switch from those stupid terms ‘junk’ to ‘clean eating’ but be a bit more mindful of what you’re eating.

Because if you completely dread your diet, you won’t be able to stick to it.

On the contrary, if you’re also just pigging out on all of the tastiest foods all the time, you’ll likely have a hard time being in a calorie deficit.

So the trick is to find the balance of foods you need to keep calories down while also incorporating foods you like to eat.

Because at the end of the day, fat loss is going to come from consuming fewer calories than you burn.

Pay Attention to How You Cook Your Foods

Keep eating the exact same foods but change one thing.

The way you’re preparing your food.

If you currently like to cook up that lean chicken breast in 2-3 tbsp of olive oil, consider swapping the oil for a zero calorie cooking spray.

Whenever we think about the foods we’re consuming, we have to keep total calories in mind.

Unless you’re factoring in the calories from the cooking oil, you could be consuming an extra 300-400 calories without even realizing it.

I like using coconut oil spray for cooking eggs, veggies, or meats in a pan because it saves hundred of calories.

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Olive oil is a healthy fat, but also very calorically dense. Because of this, it’s really easy to add tons of calories to a seemingly low-calorie meal without even realizing it.

You can also bake, grill or broil foods to cut down on excess calories from fat.

Nothing better than firing up the grill and cooking up loads of protein for the week!

Vegetables, steak and other meat on a BBQ

Use Calorie Cycling to Aid in Fat Loss

One of the best methods for creating a calorie deficit is to cycle your calories throughout the week. In the normal scenario, you’d eat more on higher volume training days, or higher activity days, and fewer calories on lighter activity or non-training days.

In this case here, we probably won’t be going to too many mid-week pool parties and cookouts.

Which means we’ll be grubbing a bit more on the weekend. This means higher calories and likely some alcohol as well.

So what can we do to stay in our calorie deficit over the scope of the entire week?

It’s actually pretty simple and something I’ve used with my clients with good success: we’ll reserve our higher calorie day(s) for the weekend when we’re going to be out and about at social events and just hanging out.

This doesn’t mean come weekend time you should just stuff yourself silly, but you will have a bit more leeway and a greater calorie amount you’re allotted.

There are numerous ways to set up the way you cycle your calories. You can do high, medium, or low-calorie days. You can do just high and low days.

Provided that you don’t go super overboard on the weekend, you should still be able to hit the deficit needed to lose fat.

Remember, it’s not one meal, one day, or one feast, but rather a culmination of days, weeks, and months that create fat loss.

If you’re consistent over time and you make the necessary adjustments, you will lose fat.

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8 Things You Must Know About Building Muscle

Whether you’d like more muscle to help improve athletic performance, to lift more weight, or simply to look better, this article is for you.

In this post I’m going to tell you the 8 most important things you need to know about building muscle. I’m also going to give you a mass building training template so you can get started on your journey for more muscle.

So You Wanna Get Big Huh?

muscular-santa

Muscle gain isn’t just for men. Females should strive for more muscle as well.

Both males and females can benefit from carrying more muscle. Muscle is what gives the body it’s shape, contour, and definition. Two people of the same bodyweight will look much different if one of them has 10 more pounds of muscle. Muscle is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, helps you burn more calories at rest, and can also protect your body as you age.

The benefits of building muscle are literally endless. Stronger bones, more energy, and more strength.

Enough of the jibber jabber, let’s get into the fundamental principles of how to build muscle.

1. Slow and Steady Wins the Race (No, but for real)

I put this principle first because it’s something that you must understand if you want the best results over the long term. You’ve got to have patience when your primary goal is to build muscle.

Many others in the industry have stated that losing fat is easy compared to building muscle, and I think that holds true for the majority of folk. When your goal is to lose body fat, you also want to go slow. This preserves muscle mass as you diet down.

The same rule applies to adding slabs of muscle to your frame: go slow and you’ll minimize fat gain along the way to putting on more quality tissue.

For instance, take a look at the visual difference between fat vs. muscle:

     fat vs muscle

Both weigh the same, but muscle takes up much less space than fat. This is why adding muscle and losing body fat can be so visually appealing.

The body doesn’t want to change. Have you ever noticed that your weight will stay pretty much the same when you get to a certain point? It may fluctuate a few pounds here and there, but for the most part your weight will stay stable. That is unless you start eating more or less consistently.

This is just the body’s way of maintaining homeostasis. So when the goal is to build muscle, how do we know how much weight gain is too much, and how much is not enough?

On average, gaining between 0.5-1.5lbs per week is a good range for most people. Most people would do really well gaining 1lb/week. You can certainly go faster than this, but you’ll end up with more body fat than necessary. Keep in mind that this is total weight gain not pure muscle per week.

A lot of people are afraid to try to build muscle because they don’t want to “get fat.” The truth is, you will gain some fat in the process, but that’s just part of the equation to becoming more muscular. But, if you do it slow, you’ll minimize fat gain and end up with more quality weight gain.

You have to consistently eat more calories than you’re burning in order to build muscle, which leads me into principle #2.

2. Gimme Da Calories

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Calories reign supreme when it comes to building muscle. 

Eating to build muscle can be a very fun thing. It can also be rough if you happen to be a hard gainer. You now need more calories than you burn in order to gain weight/muscle.

A simple way to tell if you are potentially gaining muscle is to see if the scale is increasing steadily. Weigh yourself 2-3 times per week first thing in the morning. If your weight is increasing 0.5-1.5lbs/week then you’re on the right track with your calories. Any less than this and you need to bump your calories up. A faster rate than this and you may need to decrease your calories a bit.

It’s still a good idea to adjust your calorie intake to your activity level. You can use this BMR calculator to figure out how many calories you need to maintain your bodyweight. Then, you’ll want to take your BMR and multiply that by your activity level here.

This will give you a starting point. It’s important to remember that calorie recommendations are never absolutes. There are tons of factors that go into how many calories you actually need. So the simplest way to figure it out is to just pick your starting calories and adjust depending on what the scale tells you.

Remember, if muscle building is your goal, you’ve got to EAT!

3. Should I Use Heavier or Lighter Weights?

I bet if I sent out a survey and asked, “If I want to build muscle should I lift heavy or light weights?”, the majority of people would definitively say heavy weights.

Light weighs are for toning, duh.

Well, actually, “lighter” weights are more conducive to building heaps of muscle. I use the term light in the sense that you’re in the 60-75% range of an estimated 1 rep max. In simpler terms, you’re lifting between 6-12 reps per set.

Don’t take light to mean this though:

pink db

You see, the problem with using heavy weight to build muscle is actually quite simple. In order to create a hypertrophic response, you’ve got to accumulate enough volume to cause adaptation.

When building muscle you have to create a stimulus that causes muscle growth. With heavier weights you just can’t get enough volume necessary for muscle growth.

So, our secret weapon for building muscle is the use of hypertrophy training. Yes, this means training like a “bodybuilder”, or at least somewhat similar to one. This doesn’t mean you’ll turn into Ronnie Coleman, but this type of lifting will produce the best response for muscle growth.

Higher rep sets with increasing volumes is your golden ticket to new muscle growth.

So, how do you know if you’re gaining muscle?

Here are a few simple ways to tell:

  1. Do your progress pictures look more muscular? Meaning do you appear “bigger” or more defined? Don’t just look in the mirror everyday. Actually take photos every 3-4 weeks to see if there’s a difference.
  2. Is your weight on the scale increasing? If not, it’s not likely that you’re building a ton of muscle or any muscle at all for that matter.
  3. Are you able to add more sets, reps, and weight to the bar week after week? Over the course of 3-5 weeks are your lifts improving within the 60-75% range?
  4. Do you get hit on all the time? (Ok, not scientifically proven, but could be a good indicator of muscle growth ;))

4. Ditch the Bosu Balls and Gizmos

If you’re serious about gaining muscle, put aside the fancy gym gadgets and pick up a barbell. Once again, the basics rule supreme when it comes to spurring new muscle growth.

I would recommend you put a heavy emphasis on the use of barbells and dumbbells in your quest to gain some size. The reason being is that measuring progress is easy when you use these pieces of equipment.                                                                        Cheap_Barbell_CrossFit_large

You can load them easily and add more weight steadily over time. While machines have their own uses, most trainees would be best served utilizing the good ol’ barbell.

So now that you know which tools are best, what exercises should you be doing?

Quad focused exercises: Squats, leg presses, lunges, hack squats

Hamstring focused exercises: Deadlifts, stiff leg deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, Glute bridge variations, Goodmornings, back raises, glute ham raises

Glute focused exercises: Hip Thrusts, glute bridges, squats and deadlifts, lunges

Chest focus: Bench and all variations, DB bench, Pushups, Flyes

Shoulder focus: Overhead Presses, DB Shoulder presses, Lateral Raises, Upright Rows

Bicep focus: Barbell and dumbbell curl variations. Seated, standing, preacher curl, hammer curl.

Tricep focus: Dips, skullcrushers, overhead tricep extensions, close grip bench work

Calves: Standing or seated calf raises

Back: All row variations, pull-ups and their variations, pulldowns

These certainly aren’t the only exercises you can possibly do, but should give you an idea of what to focus on.

Sample Massing Template

      Week 1
 Day 1 – Volume Legs  Notes  Sets  Weight  Reps  
 High Bar Squat   2   6-12  
 High Bar Squat 10-15lbs less than main sets  3   6-12  
 Stiff-Legged Deadlift   3   6-12  
 Calves on Leg Press  Any calf variation is fine, whatever is available 3   6-12  
           
 Day 2 – Upper Push  Notes  Sets  Weight  Reps  
 Medium Grip Bench  Press   3   6-12  
 Incline Barbell  Bench Press   3   6-12  
 Skullcrushers   3   6-12  
 Flat Dumbbell Flye   3   6-12  
           
 Day 3 – Upper Pull  Notes  Sets  Weight  Reps  
 Overhand Pullup  As few sets as possible. Record reps per set  –  BW  20 total  
 Barbell Bent-Row   3   6-12  
 Barbell Bent-Row underhand grip 3   6-12  
 Wide-Grip Pulldown   3   6-12  
Barbell Curl   3   6-12  
           
 Day 4 – Heavy Legs  Notes  Sets  Weight    
 Deficit Deadlift standing on step box 2″-4″ elevation 3   6-12  
Barbell Glute Bridges   3   6-12  
DB Lunges Walking   3   6-12  
 Calves Seated  Any calf variation is fine, whatever is available 3   6-12  
           
 Day 5 – Arms/Shoulders  Notes  Sets  Weight    
Overhead Barbell Press   3   6-12  
Seated DB Overhead Press  superset  3   6-12  
 2-Arm Dumbbell Curl 3   6-12  
Overhead Barbell Tri Ext  superset  2   6-12  
Seated Preacher Curl 2   6-12  
Lateral Raises  superset  3   6-12  
Upright Row 3   6-12  

I would suggest running this template for 4-5 weeks with a 1 week deload at the end. So either 3 on 1 off, or 4 on 1 off.

You’ll want to increase volume slowly over the course of this mesocycle. You can add sets, reps, weight, or a combination of all 3. The key is to do a little bit more than you did the previous week. That’s how to grow.

If you aren’t sure if you’re doing more total work you can do a quick calculation.

Sets x reps x weight (week 2) – the same for (week 1). This number should be greater than 0.

For example:

3 x 10 reps @ 150 week 1

4 x 10 reps @ 150 week 2

You would have done 1,500 more pounds of volume the second week just on that one exercise.

This is exactly why you want to increase slowly. Otherwise you won’t be able to recover, thus you won’t be able to handle the increasing volume week to week.

5. Don’t I Need Lots of Supplements?

If you want to build the most amount of muscle possible, you’re going to need to buy up all the current stock at your local GNC, and make sure you get your free samples too.

Kidding aside, you don’t actually need any supplements whatsoever. Supplements are for pure convenience and can certainly come in handy when on-the-go.

protein clip art

If you focus on total calories and eating the right amounts of food, then you can build muscle. If you do choose to use supplements to fill in the gaps in your nutrition plan, here are my top recommendations:

  • Whey protein

Whey protein is a fast digesting protein source. Its fast absorption rates make it ideal for intra and post training times of consumption. It’s fairly cheap and is an excellent protein source. Whey is also high in leucine and other branch chain amino acids which can help provide an anabolic and anti-catabolic advantage. Whey is also very tolerable to many individuals.

  • Casein protein

Casein is the complete opposite as whey in terms of digestion and absorption rate. This type of protein can provide amino acid release for up to 7 hours. Because of this, casein is perfect for bedtime because eating whole foods while you sleep is not an option. Casein can also be used as a meal replacement for times when you’re on the go and can’t eat a whole food meal.

  • Carbohydrate formulas

Formulas like Gatorade, Powerade, and other advanced carb powders can off a small advantage for the workout window. Not only do they provide fuel, but they are easily digested, cause very little gastro intestinal distress and are absorbed quickly. Gatorade powder for example, is very cheap and is ideal for during workout and post workout training.

  • Creatine

One of the most researched supplements is creatine. It has been demonstrated to enhance ability to do reps in any one set, help recovery between sets, provide a hypertrophic stimulus independent of training, and also intramuscular water retention which make muscles looker fuller.

Creatine Monohydrate is most commonly researched and is very cheap. 5-10g per day is an appropriate does for males and females of all sizes.

  • Caffeine/stimulants

Caffeine has been shown to:

-Increase the motivation to train

-Enhance one’s ability during high volume training

-Improve pain tolerance during training

-Provide a slight fat-burning effect

-Help suppress appetite

You could also probably throw fish oil onto this list as well. Other than these though, pretty much everything else is trivial in the pursuit of gaining muscle.

6. Mass Building for Males and Females

Both males and females can benefit from added muscle. Both can use very similar exercises if not the exact same ones. The main difference in training is in the amount of volume.

Women can handle more total volume than men, so it’s a good idea for women to train at slightly higher volumes than their counterparts. This usually means more reps per set. Women don’t get fatigued as easily as men do.  This means that women can usually do more reps at a certain instensity than men.

So, if you’re a female, make sure to get that volume in for optimal growth of muscle.

7. Don’t Train the Same as the Pros

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Wait, what?

Earlier I said if you want to gain mass you have to train like a bodybuilder. And now I’m saying not to.

What gives?

Let me explain. Unless you’re already close to your genetic ceiling and are carrying almost as much muscle as your frame allows, it’s best to avoid those muscle magazine workouts that you see professional bodybuilder’s doing.

Even the pros started with the basics. And many of them still incorporate compound barbell exercises in their own training routines.

The fact is, you need to develop a solid foundation before you start chiseling, detailing, sharpening, and edging up your physique. This takes years and years of consistent training.

You might see the pro’s using lots of isolated exercises and various techniques, but that’s not what you should be doing.

The main takeaway is this: your training should be similar to what the pros did before they were pros.

Basically, put in the hard work consistently over time, and you’ll build muscle. It’s much easier to maintain muscle mass than it is to build it. That’s why so many of them use such high volumes on machines and isolation exercises.

Unless you’re a pro bodybuilder, which I’d assume you’re not, stick to the fundamental exercises. The same ones that have proven to be effective for years.

Increase your intensity, weight, sets, reps, and total volume slowly over time. This, in addition to increased calories will give you more muscle growth than those front double biceps pose curls you did the other day 😉

8. If You Don’t Recover, You Don’t Grow

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Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do in the gym that matters, it’s what you do outside of the gym that’s most important”?

Well, this is partly true. Of course training hard in the gym is a huge component. However, if you aren’t recovering properly you won’t be able to train hard to promote muscle synthesis.

When we lift weights, we cause microtears in our muscle tissue. When we sleep, we grow.

A good rule of thumb is to recover even harder than you train. Proper nutrition, rest, hydration, and stress management are crucial to building muscle mass.

Aim for consistent sleep patterns, and good sleep quality. Get the right amount of calories in and drink plenty of fluids (preferably water).

Take care of your body by stretching as needed, performing self-myofascial release, and relaxing when it’s time to relax.

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Are You Making These 7 Fat Loss Mistakes?

Have you ever wondered if you’re on the right track when it comes to eating right and training properly? Making mistakes is inevitable in life, and almost guaranteed in the case of nutrition and exercise. Sometimes you learn the hard way unfortunately.

But you see, mistakes aren’t always a bad thing. If you learn from your mistakes you could turn a potential negative into a positive.

As someone who is passionate about lifting and nutrition, I figured I would share the biggest mistakes I’ve made, so that you can avoid them without having to learn the hard way.

My Biggest Nutrition Mistakes

1) Eating Too Much Fat

I love fat and I’m sure you do too. Not that kind of fat, but the fat found in foods like peanut butter, avocados, meats, and oils.

Early on in my journey I pretty much ate fat like it was going out of style. 5 tablespoons of peanut butter? No problem! It was fine though because the fats I ate were “healthy.”

It didn’t matter that I was consuming 2,000 calories from fat alone because they were “good” fats.

Looking back, this is actually pretty funny to think about. You see, it’s not that fat is bad really, it’s just that I was vastly over consuming such calorie dense foods and wondering why I couldn’t lose any weight.

Fats contain 9 calories per gram, more than double the amount found in protein and carbs. A good recommendation on fat intake is around 0.4-0.5 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight. This is just a starting point and can be adjusted dependent on whether you want to gain or lose weight.

Fats are the least important macro nutrient because they are not used as fuel for exercise. Therefore, there’s no reason to consume excess amounts unless of course you’re looking to put on weight.

2) Following Fad Diets

Oh boy, where do I start. I was a sucker for a long time. Almost embarrassed to admit it, I fell for a handful of the fad diets out there.

I was naive and pretty much willing to try the latest and greatest “diet” that would get me the results I wanted. The problem though was actually in the name all along: “Fad” diet.

Anything that’s a fad won’t stick, or be something worth following long term. Most notably of my blunders was a diet called Carb Back Loading.

The premise of this diet was to fast for the first part of the day, consume only proteins and fats until you’ve worked out, and then post workout you could eat anything you wanted. Literally anything. There were recommendations to eat cherry turnovers and ice cream post workout to benefit from an insulin spike.

Guess what happened to me? I got fatter. Much fatter. I love junk food just as much as the next guy, so following something like this was a recipe for disaster.

Some people had success with CBL, not from the fact they ate whatever they wanted at night but because they controlled for their calories. When I started, I paid no attention at all to how many calories I was consuming. I simply stuck to the guidelines of fasting, protein and veggies, workout, then crush junk food. Well it didn’t work so well for me because my inner fat kid got the best of me and I found myself devouring pizza, ice cream, and boxes of cereal night after night.

The problem wasn’t necessarily in the diet but more in my application of it. I could have counted my calories a bit more, chosen different foods post workout, and not been such a fat mess, but the notion that I could eat anything I wanted got the best of me.

You can eat anything you want. Just not in unlimited quantities if you expect to get results. Once my approach to nutrition changed a bit more, I was able to lose body fat, put on some muscle, and stick to my diet much better.

My online coaching client, Scott, uses the same approach as I currently do and has had great success already as a 1-on-1 client. Here he is down over 10lbs already!

IMG_0642 (3) (1)

3) Not Paying Attention to Calories

When it comes to nutrition, calories are king. Eat too many and you’ll gain weight. 

Calories are the number one priority for weight loss and a huge factor that I overlooked early on in my fitness career.

It’s really pretty simple but something that I feel like a ton of people overlook. Rather than give you generalized calorie recommendations, try tracking your food using an app like My Fitness Pal. Over several days weigh yourself first thing in the morning. Depending on your goals, you can adjust the amount of food you eat. Start with lower increments and adjust from there. Add or subtract 200 calories and see what happens over the course of several days.

Much like the section on consuming too much fat, consuming too many calories will not allow you to lose weight. On the converse, if you want to gain weight but aren’t eating enough calories weight gain simply will not happen.

The first thing you want to look at is your total calorie intake before you worry about macro nutrient breakdown.

Several fairly recent examples have demonstrated the fact that calories are most important in determining weight loss.

Take this story of a professor who ate mostly powdered treats and twinkies for a 2 month period. And lost weight!

Obviously this isn’t a diet that I recommend to my clients but it illustrates that calories are the most important determining factor for weight loss.

Another story that recently came out was about a man who ate McDonald’s and lost weight. It’s amazing that calories matter this much, but it’s true, they do!

4) Eating Too Much Protein

Wait wait?!

Did he really just say you can have too much protein?

Well, yeah, actually. Despite all the bro science out there, you don’t need to eat 8 lbs of protein a day.

Research has shown that the acceptable range for protein is around 0.6-1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. 0.6g being about as low as you’d want to go without risking muscle loss, and 1.0g being about the upper limit.

There’s no additional benefit to consuming way more than this amount.

I used to be of the mindset that “more was better,” and consuming racks on racks would help me build way more muscle, lose more fat, and become superhuman. I couldn’t have been more off though.

Once your protein needs are met, there’s no added benefit to excessive intake. You won’t pack on slabs of muscle at a faster rate if you double your required protein intake.

It’s similar to filling up your gas tank. Once you top that bad boy off, what benefit do you get if you keep squeezing the handle?

By consuming more protein than necessary, you cause a couple of problems. The first is that you will consume more calories than necessary due to the spillover effect. Second, you limit how much of the other macro nutrients you can take in without consuming extra calories. If you take out a ton of carbs to make more room for extra protein, you may not be fueled enough to workout hard, which is one of the primary goals of training.

If you cut fats way too low, you risk affecting various hormonal processes.

The bottom line is to stay within the optimal range of 0.6-1.0g/lb of bodyweight.

My Biggest Training Mistakes

1) Going After Too Many Different Goals at Once

After I stopped playing baseball, I got into powerlifting and all I wanted to do was lift heavy. I also wanted to get shredded, put on tons of muscle and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

The problem was I wanted too many things at once. Instead of focusing my efforts on one of those, in turn I tried to do a combination of all three and didn’t make much progress in doing so.

Even though I was lifting heavier and gaining strength, I wasn’t putting on as much muscle as I wanted. Why was this?

I wasn’t training for hypertrophy.

Building muscle is best served by training at 60-70% of your 1 rep max. Getting in sufficient volume is what causes hypertrophy. It your training percentage is too high, it’ll be pretty tough to accumulate the volume necessary for growth.

If you’re trying to lose body fat, don’t think you’ll be putting on tons of muscle while you’re dieting. For fat loss you need to be in a caloric deficit. In most cases, gaining muscle requires a calorie surplus. Because of this, it’s probably best to attack them in separate phases.

Early on in my training career I lacked patience. I wanted it all, and I wanted things to happen fast. I’ve since learned that being patient is just a necessary part of getting great results.

My suggestion is to figure out your plan of attack and go all in. Sometimes it’s tough to accomplish your goals if you aren’t quite sure the best way to do so. Let me take away the guesswork and design you a training and diet plan to get you where you want to go. If you’re interested shoot me an email at ryanwoodtraining@gmail.com to learn more about working with me 1-on-1.

2) Suffering From Training ADD

I’m guilty as charged. I’ve definitely jumped around from program to program, only to wind up back at square one. Luckily, I didn’t do this for too long, and once I stuck with the basics, I started making progress again.

There were times when I would just do a workout willy nilly, with no real purpose or direction. I did exercises that seemed like fun, but were kinda hard to measure progress on.

I started to realize that all the biggest, leanest, and most muscular physiques spent time performing the basics like squats, presses, deadlifts, rows, chins, etc.

Beginners can pretty much stick to these exercises for 1-2 years at least and make incredible progress. The problem is we get bored. And that’s understandable.

In order to prevent staleness, just perform variations of the core lifts but keep the basics in mind. Most people reading this will benefit more from basic compound exercises rather than a bunch of foo-foo circus tricks you may often see in magazines.

3) Neglecting Cardio

Who knows why, but I pretty much laughed at anyone that did “cardio.” Maybe it was because cardio was thought to cause muscle loss, or that performing any kind of cardio would rob me of all my gainz.

I now realize just how stupid I was.

Like really, I worried that walking up a flight of stairs was “bad” for my progress. That’s hilarious to think about now.

Well, times have changed and cardio is seemingly making a comeback. It’s now widely accepted that doing cardio is perfectly fine and actually has benefits aside from heart health.

Cardio can help improve recovery, improve resting heart rate, and allow us to work harder in the gym. By being more aerobically fit, I no longer get as winded in the weight room. I’m able to recover faster between sets, which means I can do more work. Performing more work over time is how you improve.

The amount of cardio you do greatly depends on your goals. Just make sure you don’t make the same mistake I did and shun it completely.

Want A Clear And Concise Guide to Losing Fat?

You can grab your FREE copy of my fat loss ebook, 10 Commandments of Fat Loss, below.

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Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Your TV Doctor

It’s easy nowadays to turn on the television and find someone doling out advice on fitness and nutrition.

The problem is most of it is bad advice.

And I’m fed up with it.

I’m getting tired of hearing about some magical fruit that’s going to speed up your metabolism. Or the newest root extract found in the Amazon rainforest that “experts” on TV say will melt fat and trim your waist, without even mentioning diet and exercise.

Stop wasting your money on these “magical” products.

You’re getting duped.

You’re being lied to.

And frankly, I’m pissed off about it.

I aim to put out the most up-to-date information in regards to fitness and nutrition so that you can achieve your goals.

It irritates me that people on television are spewing out bad advice, just to make tons of money off you.

I’d like to go over some of the outlandish claims made on popular TV talk shows.

That way you can save money on gimmicky products and still reach your goals.

The Big Bad Media

People all over the world, especially in America, are fixated on TV these days. Many of them, watch popular talk shows that give out medical and health advice.

These programs discuss a variety of topics, but usually fitness related ideas and products are discussed.

While these TV doctors appear to be providing the public with good quality information, this is often not the case at all.

Many times they are promoting a product or trying to sell you something.

Most of the products they try to sell you don’t actually provide any health benefits.

They’re gimmicks. Fads. Junk.

What gets me so fired up about these shows is the big disregard for principle that have worked for decades.

You know, things like diet and exercise. Good sleep, proper hydration. All of the very well researched items that you need to be successful in being your healthiest no matter what your goals are.

But instead, they push products that promise to trim the fat, or speed up your metabolism.

They hardly mention what really works.

Diet and exercise. No pills, gels, goos, or creams.

Just consistent diet and exercise with a helping of hard work on the side.

Whether it’s the newest miracle product or that one special trick that will change your physique, I’m going to give you the low down on whether or not you should believe your TV doctors.

The Dr. Oz Show

I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of Dr. Oz before. He’s a well-known cardiothoracic surgeon and professor of surgery at Columbia University.

He gained a ton of notoriety when he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, which has made his show one of the most popular medical talk shows on television.

And while he has tremendous academic accolades, he often gives out confusing and a lot of the times downright inaccurate information regarding nutrition.

He has made claims on his show about “miracle” products for weight loss, or foods you must avoid and never eat.

In 2014, Dr. Oz was in court because of claims he made about green coffee extract.

During one of his shows he stated that green coffee extract was a “magic weight loss cure for every body type.”

If you’ve read any of my articles before, you know that magic doesn’t exist in the world of fitness.

Your results are a direct reflection of the hard work that you put in.

Oz also told his TV audience that coconut oil is a “super food” that “helps you lose weight.”

The fact of the matter is no one food is going to help you lose weight.

Total calories matter the most, and considering fat contains 9 calories per gram, whereas protein and carbs contain 4 calories per gram, consuming copious amounts of coconut oil will surely not help you to lose weight. If your calories are controlled for, then sure, coconut oil can be used as part of your diet.

It’s important to remember that just because someone’s on TV wearing scrubs, doesn’t mean they’re an expert on nutrition.

The View

On a particular episode of The View, Dr. Stephen Lamm made a guest appearance. It just so happened that he was promoting a new book of his called “No Guts, No Glory.”

A professor of medicine at NYU, he promoted several probiotic supplements from a company called Enzymedica Inc. He guaranteed that “in three to five years, everyone is going to be on a probiotic, everyone is going to be on a digestive enzyme.”

During this episode he said these products were crucial to overall gut health.

The problem with his statement though, is that it lacks any evidence. Lynne McFarland, a probiotic researcher at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle told The Times, “There’s no evidence that probiotics improve your health if you take them every day.”

It really is a shame that we as a society look for the easy way out when it comes to getting in better shape. We’d like to believe that a simple pill could change our physique regardless of putting in any actual hard work.

The Talk

A daytime talk show devoted to a mostly female audience, The Talk is another example of hidden agendas and hyped up products.

On one segment featuring a “celebrity nutritionist,” Cynthia Pasquella praised apple cider vinegar as being “very alkalizing for the body,” which she says “promotes weight loss.”

Dr. Steven Woloshin, professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, sees it differently.

He notes that all vinegars are acidic, which is the opposite of alkaline.

I think it’s pretty crazy that we as consumers buy into most everything we hear on TV as if it were gospel.

Dr. Woloshin pointed out, there are no studies to suggest that vinegar helps with weight loss.

Seems like we just have another “magical” product that delivers minor benefits if any at all.

So if you’ve gotten caught up in the hype of apple cider vinegar doing magical things for your health, you might not want to believe everything you hear.

So The Answer Is…

Take TV doctors’ advice with a grain of salt.

Understand that more than likely, an underpinning sales pitch is on every episode of these popular shows.

That’s how they make money. That’s how they attract big audiences.

While this article certainly isn’t meant to bash these TV shows, I did want to enlighten you about some of the statements they make.

TV doctors, while they are real doctors, are not always going to give you the straight answers about common questions in health and fitness.

They need information that sells. Information that drives ratings through the roof.

That’s why you should be very skeptical about things your see or hear on any of the popular medical talk shows these days.

I want this article to serve as a word of caution against following everything your TV doctor says.

It’s ok, and actually encouraged, to be skeptical of information you gather from these shows. You should dig deeper, ask questions, and look to find out whether the statements they make are true and backed by science.

Rather than just going to the store to buy some magic supplement that will cure all your worries, do a little homework first to find the truth.

What You Should Actually Do

Rather than buying into the superfluous hype, stick to the basics instead.

Since many of these shows focus on weight loss, I’ll give you alternatives that actually work.

Make sure you read my ebook, The Ten Commandments of Fat Loss, which goes into much more detail about the principles of losing body fat.

This book will give you the tools you need to lose fat, gain strength, and improve your confidence.

Forget about gimmicks and fads, my FREE ebook is your ultimate guide to getting the body you’ve always wanted.

In order to lose weight, you’ll need a few important pieces of the puzzle.

First, you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit, which can be created through diet and exercise. This simply means that you’ll need to burn more calories than you consume, which leads to the deficit and allows you to lose fat.

Skip the expensive green coffee extract nonsense.

It’s absolutely not necessary nor does it actually work.

Second, consistentency with the things that matter will help you lose weight.

Follow the plan, work hard, and blast through obstacles along the way.

My client Scott is a great example of what hard work and consistency can lead to. After only one month of online coaching, he’s down 9 lbs and has lost a ton of bodyfat.

These before and after photos are unbelievably awesome. I’m incredibly excited to see his progress after 3 months.

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I don’t have Scott doing anything crazy to achieve these results. He’s lifting with high volume and following the diet guidelines I’ve given him. Believe it or not, he’s not performing any cardio right now. This is all strictly from lifting and eating right. In the later stages of his diet, I may have him do some low intensity cardio, but for now we’ll continue with the current plan because it’s working.

The Take Home Message

At the end of the day, you get to make your own choices about where to get your fitness and nutrition advice.

Always be skeptical of what you see and hear on TV.

You must understand that TV talk shows are mainly for entertainment purposes so they will push products that create buzz and emotional connections with their target audience.

Take your TV doctors’ advice with a grain of salt, because what they recommend might actually not be right at all.

So, drop the green coffee extract and other hyped up products that promise miracles.

Instead, watch your calorie intake, train hard, and stay consistent for the long haul.

You’ll be glad you saved your money and still got the results you wanted.

If you want sound advice on nutrition, then you need to grab your FREE copy of Ten Commandments of Fat Loss.

In it you’ll learn:

  • The exact steps necessary for losing body fat

  • How to calculate your calorie needs based on your daily activity and goals

  • The best type of training for fat loss

  • Which supplements are worth your money

  • The keys to long term fat loss

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4 Strategies To Avoid Unwanted Weight Gain over the Holidays

 To celebrate the rapidly approaching holidays and the launch of my brand new course, 30 Days of Fat Loss: A Pre-Holiday Fat Burning Challenge, I’m excited to share this article with you in which I reveal 4 strategies to prevent weight gain during the holidays.

Enjoy and, if you want to apply to join the 30 Days of Fat Loss Challenge email me at ryanwoodtraining@gmail.com.

                                                                                                                                                                                     

I absolutely love the holidays. It’s a time to get together with family and enjoy the holiday spirit. It’s also a season known for food.

Lots and lots of food.

Admittedly, one of the reasons I love Thanksgiving and Christmas so much, aside from quality time spent with my family, are all of the delicious and yummy treats floating around non stop.

For many  people, the holidays can be tough if weight gain isn’t your goal. And for most people, gaining weight is not the goal.

With a surplus of calorie dense foods everywhere you turn, the holidays tend to set a lot of people back in terms of excessive weight gain and increases in body fat.

There is a way around this however.

I used to be just like you every time the holidays came around. Rather than fully enjoying my time at home visiting with friends and family, I constantly worried about getting “fat” over the holidays. But, over time I’ve come to realize that it is possible to have the best of both worlds.

You can still enjoy your favorite foods without worrying.

Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t automatically mean you’ll gain loads of weight.

You should aim to head into the holidays already confident and in good shape, so that you don’t have to constantly stress out about family dinners and large meals.

With a couple months left before the holiday season begins, I wanted to give you some tips to make the holidays the joyous time that they are. There’s no need to be a stressed out mess and worry incessantly about every single thing you eat.

I want you to be able to enjoy holiday dinners with your family.

And I certainly don’t want you feeling guilty if you have a piece of pie, or an extra helping of creamy mashed potatoes with gravy.

Bottom line: I want you to enjoy the holidays as much as I do.

As long as you put in the work ahead of time, you’ll set yourself up for a very enjoyable holiday season free of worrying, setbacks, or weight gain.

Below are 4 strategies to help you avoid gaining weight over the holidays.

1) Diet before the Holidays

You want to enjoy the holidays right?

I know I sure do.

If you’re anything like me, you want to look good and eat your cake too.

Instead of dieting during the holidays, get it over with before the get together’s and family meals begin.

Set aside 4 weeks to drop body fat, gain strength, and feel more confident going into this holiday season.

To get you started, be sure to read my free fat loss manual, which you can get here. This guide will give you everything you need to know about dropping body fat, including how to set up your diet and how to train most effectively to blast fat.

There are several reasons why it’s best to attack fat loss prior to the holidays.

First, there’s less temptation because you won’t be going to nearly as many get togethers in October as you probably will around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This will help you stick to your plan with better consistency when you have less distractions that could potentially get in your way.

Second, by dropping body fat before the holidays, you will feel a sense of new confidence in your body. You’ll be much less likely to binge at those holiday parties because you won’t feel the need to.

You will still be able to enjoy your favorite foods and treats because you laid the ground work in the previous months.

Being able to enjoy yourself with family and friends will be very mentally refreshing and a nice reward for putting in the hard work leading up to then.

2) Prioritize resistance training

In order to lose body fat and reveal muscle you need to be lifting weights. Too many people neglect the importance of weight training when trying to lose weight.

Instead, they severely cut their calories and do lots of cardio. What happens is they end up dropping weight but a good part of it comes from muscle.

Then you end up with “skinny fat.” Ain’t nobody got time for that. We want lean and strong.

During a fat loss phase, the goal is not only to lose body fat but also to preserve lean mass, aka muscle.

Muscle is what gives the body it’s contour. Whether you prefer the terms “toned”, “ripped”, “lean”, or “defined”, they all mean pretty much the same thing.

The way to get this look is through sound nutrition and resistance training.

Training for hypertrophy is your best bet during a fat loss phase. This style of training is higher volume than general strength training, and is mostly performed in the 8-12 rep range.

High volume resistance training will provide the body with enough stimulus to preserve muscle while in a caloric deficit.

This is a good thing. A very good thing.

Why anyone would want to lose muscle is beyond me. So make sure that you’re lifting weights to spare as much muscle as possible during a fat loss phase.

A lot of people think they need fancy exercises to lose body fat. They think they need to “confuse” the body to keep it guessing in order to make progress.

Well, that’s not the case at all.

All you need is hard work, consistency, good nutrition, and  some basic exercises that have worked for many years.

Below is an example of a 4 day hypertrophy program designed for fat loss.

There’s no magical exercises. No gimmicks or fads. Just the basics because they have been proven time and time again to work remarkably well for fat loss.

   Day 1/Monday/Legs

  1. Squat                                   
  2. Leg press                           
  3. Stiff leg Deadlift               
  4. Calf Raise                           

Day 2/Tuesday/Push

  1. Barbell Bench Press       
  2. Barbell Overhead Press 
  3. Dips                                        
  4. Skullcrushers                    

 Day 3/Thursday/Legs

  1. Deadlift                                  
  2. Glute Bridge                         
  3. Barbell Lunge                    
  4. Calf Raise                        

Day 4/Friday or Saturday/Pull

  1. Overhand Pullup                
  2. Barbell Bent Over Row    
  3. Lat Pulldown                     
  4. Barbell Curl                        

Start out with 3 sets of 8-12 reps on each exercise. Then, the following week you can add a set, add weight, or add some weight and an extra set. This way you are increasing your volume from week to week, and making progress.

3) Adopt a Flexible Nutritional Approach

For many, following a rigid diet plan doesn’t work. Whether it’s too complicated or just too difficult to follow, some people prefer to utilize a more flexible approach.

I use both approaches with my clients with great success.

Here is one of my female clients who has done well following a more structured plan:

Oct 2014 121 July 2015 125

 Oct 2014 121       July 2015 125

The most interesting thing here is that she actually gained weight, but got noticeably leaner. While some people aim to drop the number on the scale, I think if you lose body fat and improve overall composition then the scale number doesn’t really matter so much.

Now, here’s a male client who keeps an insane work schedule. Because of this, we choose to utilize a more flexible approach with his nutrition.Shanti progress pictures

We make sure his total caloric intake is in check, and that he’s eating enough protein.

Now, when the holidays roll around, you may prefer a more flexible approach to your nutrition.

You’ve made great progress and you don’t want to throw it all away, right?

Don’t worry.

We all will have parties, family gatherings, and big holiday dinnners to go to.

Instead of just gorging non-stop for several months, try to think a little more strategically about your nutrition.

Understand your caloric needs, and your required protein amounts. Plan ahead just a little bit if you know you will be attending a big dinner or feasting with the in laws.

Because the holidays are usually packed with ridiculous amounts of delicious foods, your goal should be to maintain as close to your starting bodyweight as possible. You’ve just dropped body fat leading up to the holiday season, and you’ve got a new bodyweight you feel great about.

Aim to stay within a couple pounds of that bodyweight throughout the holidays.

The way to do this is to be flexible and smart with your nutrition.

Maybe you eat a bit less on a day where you know you will be feasting at night. Stick to lean proteins and veggies during the day, and be sure to get your resistance training sessions in.

On special dinner days with family, make sure you resistance train that day so that the extra calories you consume will be put to good use, and help to keep you from going too far over your maintenance requirements.

My ebook that I mentioned above goes into how to figure out calorie needs, as well as protein, carb, and fat amounts.

Knowing that the holidays are filled with sweets and baked goods, you can assume that you will have no trouble hitting your carb and fat amounts.

If you can prioritize protein you will be one step closer to preventing unwanted holiday weight gain.

Be flexible with your nutrition over the holidays. This is a time when it’s especially important for families to be together.

And again, aim to maintain your bodyweight during this time. Once the holiday season is over, you can then decide if you’d like to begin another fat loss phase.

4) Consistency Is King

I’ve talked already about enjoying your holiday time.

Nobody wants to suffer through family dinners, or feel guilty about what they’re eating when spending family time together should be most important.

While it is very important not to stress too much about the holiday food situation, I know you will probably have control over most of your meals.

This means you can still stay on track during those meals. Don’t use the holiday’s as an excuse to flat out binge for two months. Be consistent over the holiday season by placing an emphasis on protein, and keeping an eye on total calories.

If you know you get roughly 2,000 calories, maybe you want to save yourself 1,500 of those calories for your family dinner.

As long as you stay relatively close to your calorie goal, your bodyweight will remain fairly consistent.

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t automatically mean you have to gain 20 pounds. You can enjoy all of your favorite foods and still stay on track. The key is not over indulging. Just because there’s unlimited amounts of food and dessert at your fingertips doesn’t mean you have to eat until you’re sick.

Make sure you stay consistent with your training, keep your calories in check, and enjoy time spent with family.

That’s what the holidays are for. Not to be stressed out about what you’re eating.

I know it can be difficult to get going, though, which is exactly why I’ve created 30 Days of Fat Loss: A Pre-Holiday Fat Burning Challenge. To help you get a jump start with your fat loss goals so that you can utilize the tips in this article to prevent unwanted weight gain.

The 30 Day Fat Loss Challenge is specifically designed for men and women who are seeking rapid fat loss, strength gain, and improved confidence. This challenge will be tough, no doubt about it. Only those people who are serious about losing body fat should apply. 

If you work hard , follow the nutritional guidelines, and put in consistent effort you will rapidly lose body fat.

This challenge is not made for athletes, strength sport folks, or those who are already at a very low body fat percentage.

Here’s what you get when you join the challenge:

  • 4 weeks of individualized fat loss training
  • Your own customized nutrition guidelines for rapid and maintainable fat loss
  • Strategies to stay consistent and motivated
  • Ongoing support to ensure you lose fat fast

Follow the course to a T and you will:

  • lose fat fast
  • gain strength
  • lose inches around your waist
  • improve your self confidence
  • feel remarkable and worry free going into the holidays

If you want to get in on the 30 Days of Fat Loss: A Pre-Holiday Fat Burning Challenge shoot me an email at ryanwoodtraining@gmail.com. Be sure to put “FAT LOSS CHALLENGE” in the subject line.

I’m offering this at a heavily discounted rate, but am limiting spots to only 20 applicants. If you’re serious about committing to 30 days of rapid fat loss send me an email to let me know you want in.

 

 

 

3 Quick and Easy Fat Loss Tips

Summertime is the season for shedding body fat.

While you can lose body fat during any months you choose, the summer is when most people decide to do so.

Why?

Well, most people wear less clothes during the summer months, attending outdoor pool parties, going to the beach, or just reallllly enjoying the weather.

I want to give you 3 tips that can contribute to your calorie deficit to help you lose body fat immediately.

Tip 1-Cut the Fat to Cut the Fat

Decreasing your fat intake is an easy way to cut calories. No, I don’t want you to cut out all of your fat intake, because fat is delicious and is also required for survival.

With this being said, an easy way to improve body composition is to be mindful of your fat intake.

Instead of cooking with butter and excess oils, try using a cooking spray instead. I like coconut oil spray a lot. If you normally prepare each of your meals with oil, let’s say only 1 tbsp each time, you’re adding an extra 120 calories. 5 meals a day and you’re racking up roughly 600 calories just from cooking with added fat.

So, when you cook on the stove, or bake chicken in the over, try swapping out added fats for a 0 calorie cooking spray. You’ll create an immediate deficit without even changing what you’re eating.

Tip 2-Stick to Calorie Free Beverages

Another great way to save on extra calories is to make sure you aren’t consuming unnecessary calories from beverages.

This means your Mocha Venti whipped cream iced latte from Starbucks probably isn’t the greatest choice of beverage. While you certainly can enjoy such drinks on occasion, I recommend sticking to water, tea, coffee, and water (yes more water).

Make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Water helps to make us feel full, which can curb appetite and prevent us from overeating. A general guideline is to drink half your body weight in ounces. Every. Single. Day.

If you love drinking beverages with flavor, try selter water, powerade zero or another calorie free flavoring of your choice.

Save your liquid calories for those adult beverages at your cookouts and bbqs  🙂 .

Tip 3- Add Some Cardio to Increase Calorie Expenditure

An easy way to contribute to your calorie deficit is to add some cardio into your current exercise routine.

You can choose what kind of cardio you do. It can be running, biking, swimming, circuit training, walking on an incline treadmill. It can be fast or slow. The point is, adding some cardio for at least 20-30 minutes a couple extra days a week will add to your weekly deficit.

Try mixing up longer duration slower forms of cardio, and shorter, higher intensity methods. 

Would you like more information on how to safely lose body fat to get the body you’ve always dreamed of?

Then read the 10 Commandments of Fat Loss

(It’s Free)

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This brand new ebook is an all inclusive guide to fat loss.

In it you will learn:

♦The Steps to Losing Body Fat

♦How Much Do Cardio and Supplements Really Matter for Fat Loss?

♦Why You Should Perform Higher Rep Training to Maximize Your Fat Loss

If you want your free copy be sure to subscribe below!

Lessons Learned Preparing for First Powerlifting Meet: Part 2

Back on October 11th, I competed in my first ever power lifting meet. I previously wrote an article describing some lessons I learned while preparing for my first meet, HERE.  The meet was held in Everett, Massachusetts, right around the corner from Total Performance Sports.

On meet day, I arrived to the rec center around noon to listen to the rules because getting called on squat depth or jumping a bench command was the last thing I wanted to do in my first meet. I was pretty nervous when I got there, and even more so as the actual meet time approached. The morning session was set to finish a little bit early, so I slowly began preparing and lightly warming up for the 2:30 start time.

Luckily my good friend and competitive power lifter himself, Adam Pine, was there to coach me throughout the day. I really can’t thank him enough as I would have been lost on what to do aside from actually lifting. There’s a lot that goes into having a successful meet, and having someone there to guide you through sure took a lot of pressure off me. Keeping this in mind, here are some key lessons I learned from my first meet.

1) Have a handler

Basically a handler is someone who guides you during meet day. They help with the logistics of the meet and also provide bench press hand-offs.  Adam took care of getting my squat rack height set properly, sending in my attempts, telling me when to warm up and giving me cues to focus on. I was very fortunate to have his guidance because without him I would have been a nervous wreck. Instead, he took care of the details which allowed me to focus on lifting and enjoying my first meet.

2) Bring plenty of food/water/gatorade

This one is pretty self explanatory however it’s very important. Power lifting meets are very long and tiring. I showed up for rules at noon and didn’t leave the rec center until 9pm. 9 hours is a long time, but picking foods you know settle well in your stomach is key. It’s not a good idea to crush some random exotic food if you don’t usually tolerate itwell. Things like trail mix, beef jerky, protein bars and shakes, peanut butter sandwiches, water and gatorade are some good examples to keep you fueled and ready to lift. The worst thing is to be starving while you’re trying to get amped up for a pr deadlift attempt.

3) Know the layout of the meet and the flights you are in

Flights are basically what order you are lifting in. The meet is organized based on weight lifted so  someone with a bigger squat than me goes after me and possibly in a different flight. Check the order as soon as its posted so you can begin to plan when to warm up so that you don’t finish warming up 30 minutes before your first attempt. Again, I had Adam there to help me time my warmups so I was ready when my name was called. Once I was finished benching, I still had about 2 hours until deadlifts even started. Since I was in the 2nd flight for deadlifts, I knew I could add another 15-20 minutes to the start time. Adam recommended that I just relax and get a little food in me as I had plenty of time to warmup once the first flight of deadlifts began. Along the same lines as knowing the layout, it’s also important not to go nuts in warmups. Adam suggested I take jumps like I normally would in training when working up closer to my attempts. Try to do your last warmup about 4-5 minutes before you set to lift on the platform.

4) Take PR attempts even if they are small PR’s

I opened my first meet with a 315 squat. This was easy, as it should have been. Because it was my first meet, it was recommended to me to open light and show the judges that I could handle the weight. My next attempt was 350 which also felt really great. My best squat coming into the meet was 365. During my training as the meet approached, I wanted to hit a 385 squat. But things change a little on meet day, and while the 350 felt light, I jumped too much and ended up missing 385 in the hole. Adam suggested I go 375, which would have been a 10lb pr. I decided I wanted to go for 385 but it didn’t pay off. The lesson I learned from failing on my 3rd squat attempt is this. Take a PR when you have the chance. For my first meet, I should have listened to Adam. It really didn’t matter whether I squatted 375 or 385 because either weight was a PR since it was my first meet. Instead of listening to his advice, I told him 385 and ended up being frustrated after missing it. The point is to take a PR even if it’ s a small PR. Honestly 370 probably would have been more realistic but I got greedy and paid the price.

5) Build weaknesses

The only lift I failed on was my 385lb 3rd attempt on squats. As you’ll see in the video, I didn’t stay controlled enough on the descent, which caused me to lose tightness in the hole. Once I started up out of the hole, I leaned forward just slightly and was out of position to stand up with the weight. I will specifically need to work on building quad, erector and upper back strength to help me stay more upright during the squat. Here is the video of 385:

I will continue to work on taking it down with more confidence, and staying tighter throughout the entire lift.

At the end of the day I ended up going 8/9, posting a 1020 total with a 350 squat, 210 bench, and 460 deadlift. I tested my strengths and was able to see my weaknesses as well. I want to thank everyone that helped me along the way as well as my buddies who were there on meet day to cheer me on! Big thanks to Adam Pine for helping me have a successful first meet!

Here are videos of my successful lifts:

350 Squat

210 Bench-apologies for the grainy video

460 Deadlift-5lb PR