Category Archives: Training

Back Building Basics to Gain Muscle and Improve Strength

If you want to improve your strength, performance, and physique then listen closely.

Today I want to show you my favorite exercises to properly train your back so you can build more muscle, gain more strength, and look the way you want to look.

And, at the end of the article, I’m going to give you 2 sample workouts you can start using today for better back gains.

Two Classifications of Exercises

When training the back, we can split up our exercise selection into vertical pulling and horizontal pulling movements. To properly train all the muscles of the back, we need to perform both vertical pulls and horizontal pulls.

Image courtesy of CorpsHumain.ca

Vertical pulling exercises such as the lat pulldown or pullup, heavily recruit the lats (the large muscle that wraps from the side of your body to your spine). These are generally thought to contribute more to the ‘width’ of ones back since they mostly train the lats.

Horizontal pulling exercises such as rowing variations, primarily involve the lats and rhomboids (middle part of the back) and the biceps as well. These are generally considered as back ‘thickness’ exercises that help give the 3D look of many lifters.

For simplicity sake, you only need to be concerned with the two main movements: vertical pulls and horizontal pulls.

Vertical Pulling Exercises

Part of your back training should be focused on performing vertical pulling movements to best target the lats. Aside from looking good, the lats also help to stabilize your back during squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. To put it clearly, the lats play a crucial role in getting stronger.

Pullups are the most well known back exercise, especially when it comes to training the lats. There are several different styles you can do. You can perform them with an overhand grip, wide grip, neutral grip, underhand grip, band assisted, and machine-assisted. I’m going to show you a few of these variations below.

Overhand Grip Pullup

Band Assisted Neutral Grip Pullup

Weighted Chin Ups

Assisted pullup variations are also a great way to build up strength, increase volume, and put on muscle. Bodyweight and weighted pullups are often too challenging, so the machine assisted variations are a great option for training the vertical pull.

Machine-Assisted Pullup

The third main type of vertical pulling exercise after pullups and machine assisted pullups are variations of pulldowns.

The most well known is the standard lat pulldown.

Lat Pulldown

When designing your own program, pullup variations, machine assisted pullups, and pulldown variations should be the bread and butter of your vertical pulling exercises.

Horizontal Pulling Exercises

Variations of rowing exercises form our category of horizontal pulling movements. These types of exercises will help build more thickness through your back and can help improve your physique. Rows give you more of a 3D look and are quite useful for improving strength overall.

As with vertical pulls, horizontal pulls are best incorporated with a variety of movements. Within this variety however, you’re getting the meat and potatoes exercises, not ‘that 1 weird exercise to take your back growth to the next level’ stuff. 

Bent Over Barbell Row

1 Arm DB Row

Seated Cable Row

DB Seal Row

Barbell Row to Chest

DB Chest-Supported Row 

If you use the right amount of weight (ie you aren’t using more weight than you should be), you should be able to ‘feel’ your back working extremely well on these exercises.

Focus on progressively loading more weight over time, with good technique, and your back is sure to become stronger and more defined.

2 Workouts for A Bigger, Stronger, More Defined Back

With the exercises above in our toolbox, we’re going to put together 2 back emphasis workouts.

One workout will be focused more on vertical pulling exercises and the other on horizontal pulling exercises.

Workout 1 (Vertical Pull Focus)

A1) Pullup or Machine Assisted Pullup 3 x 6-12

B1) Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 2 x 8-15

C1) Bent Barbell Row 2 x 8-10

D1) Cable Face Pull 3 x 10-20

E1) Barbell Curl 3 x 10-15

Workout 2 (Horizontal Pull Emphasis)

A1) 1 Arm DB Row 3 x 8-10

B1) Seated Cable Row 2 x 8-12

C1) Underhand Grip Lat Pulldown 2 x 8-15

D1) Chest Supported Rear Delt Raise 3 x 10-20

D2) Standing DB Curl 3 x 10-15

Back Training Tips

  1. Always aim to use a full range of motion
  2. Strive to ‘feel’ your back working when you’re doing pullups, pulldowns, and rowing variations.
  3. Train with a variety of rep ranges–6-8, 10-12, 15+
  4. Stick to the basic exercises for the most part. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to do a ton of variations every time you train your back.
  5. Split your total volume (number of sets per week) between 2-4 sessions. 10-20 sets of vertical and horizontal pulling per week seems to be a good number for most people.
  6. Strive to increase weight progressively week to week, with good technique.

Get More From Your Training

Hopefully, you’ll give these workouts a try. I’d like to help you make even better progress, though, so I’d like to invite you to join my VIP community where I share workouts, nutrition tips, motivation, and practical tips for building muscle, gaining strength, and losing fat.

When you join below (it’s 100% free by the way), I’ll send you my 36-page nutrition manual ‘10 Commandments of Fat Loss‘ as a thank you gift.

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12 Exercises to Develop the Best Looking Shoulders You’ve Ever Had

female strength training

Most people have lopsided shoulder development.

It stems from the belief that the only shoulder exercises you need are pressing variations. Unfortunately, all those years of pressing have made your front delts huge and your side and rear delts nonexistent.

To help you balance out your physique and give you shoulders that’ll turn heads, use the 12 exercises below to improve your training.

Training All 3 Heads Is a Must

When we’re talking about training the shoulders, we’re primarily concerned with the deltoid muscle. The anterior (front delts), lateral (side delts), and posterior (rear delts) deltoid make up the rounded structure of the shoulder.

Image courtesy of Anatomography

The front delts are trained with pressing variations and front raise variations. Overhead press variations are the primary method of training the front delts and front raises are included as well. Many people forget that they receive a ton of front delt stimulus when they do any chest work such as barbell benching, DB benching, incline pressing and similar variants.

And, since most people are training their chest muscles a lot anyway, an excess of shoulder pressing and front raises are simply not needed.

The lateral delt, or side delt, is best trained with side raises and upright row variations. This part of the deltoid is very important to train because it provides the ‘capped’ look that many people strive for.

Ever heard of boulder shoulders?

The side delt is what gives the wider upper body look that is appealing to many people.

The posterior delt, or rear delt, really doesn’t get enough stimulus, unless trained directly. The rear delts are best trained with bent raises, face pull variations and swings.

12 Exercises You Need to Be Doing

(For the Side Delts)

Lateral Raise

I love lateral raises. The main problem is *most* people use way too much weight on them. Below is how I perform them:

I find that keeping a slightly looser grip on the dumbbells helps me to ‘feel’ my shoulders doing more of the work, rather than my biceps and forearms.

Helpful tips:

-lean forward slightly, with a bit of a hip hinge

-keep arms slightly bent, but none of that elbow at 90 degrees stuff

-raise explosively and control the lowering

-raise to the side and to the front very slightly. I find this hits them a bit better.  Experiment with where you raise the dumbbell’s so you can get the best feel

DB Upright Row

It seems that upright rows are frowned upon because of the idea they will impinge your shoulder. One way to get around this is to use DB’s so you have a bit more freedom of where you raise your hands. By raising up and out slightly, you keep the shoulder in a good position and are less susceptible to any impingement on the front of the shoulder.

Helpful tips:

-Start the DB’s from a dead hang

-Raise your elbows up and out as seen in the video. This will feel more natural on your shoulder and still allow you to target the lateral deltoid

-Return slowly and always use a full range of motion

Barbell Upright Row

With a slightly wider grip than you’ve probably seen before, I think these become a very effective exercise that most people can do without pain.

Too many people stick to a super narrow grip which will force their shoulders to ‘dump’ forward as they bring the bar up.

Try them like this:

Helpful tips:

-use a slightly wider grip, probably around shoulder width or so

-like the DB upright row, imagine pulling the bar apart as you raise up

-try keeping your elbows close to in line with your shoulders when you’re at the top part of the movement. This will lessen the chance of you feeling any impingement on the front of the shoulder

Cable Upright Row

Another great variation is using the cable for upright rows. This one also gives you a bit more freedom with where your hands go so that you can do them with the most comfortable and effective technique possible.

Helpful tips:

-use a long rope if possible

-stand back away from the cable station just a bit so that you have a slight backward lean

-pull up, out and back as seen in the video

-use a full range of motion

(For the Front Delts)

Standing Overhead Barbell Press

The overhead barbell press is a staple shoulder exercise. Because the front delts receive stimulus from other pressing movements, it’s unnecessary to include 36 different variations of overhead pressing into your routine.

Here’s how to properly do the standing overhead press:

Helpful tips:

-start with your hands about shoulder width or so and the bar at the top of your chest

-use a false grip (if you’re comfortable with it) or wrap your thumbs tightly around the bar

-press up and back slightly so the barbell finishes at the top directly in line with the center of your body (so you aren’t pressing forward on the way up)

-keep your butt and stomach flexed the entire time

Seated DB Overhead Press

Another useful pressing variation is the DB overhead press from a seated position. I like them seated because it allows you to focus more on the shoulders and less on worrying about balancing as you press up. For heavier loads, I suggest using the barbell overhead press.

Helpful tips:

-use an upright seated position or slightly leaned back bench

-start the DB’s so they’re touching your shoulders

-press them all the way up and back down to the shoulders

-you don’t need to go super heavy on these, especially since the overhead position is pretty unstable as is

-keep the chest up and use a full range of motion

(For the Rear Delts)

Seated Cable Face Pull

These are not only great for developing better-looking rear delts, but they’re also phenomenal for shoulder health.

Helpful tips:

-set the height around chest level or slightly below

-grip the rope so your thumbs are pointing towards your face when you pull

-initiate by squeezing your shoulder blades together, and driving your elbows back (don’t pull with your biceps)

-aim to externally rotate (so finish in a goal post position at the end range)

-allow your shoulders to move forwards and backward with every rep

-keep the weight light enough that you can use perfect technique

DB Face Pull-chest supported

A slight variation on the face pull, you’ll perform these with your chest supported on a slight incline bench.

Helpful tips:

-start with the DB’s hanging straight down from your shoulders

-pull up and back as you would on the cable version

-aim to keep your chest up just a tad so your shoulder’s stay in a good position

-squeeze hard at the top and then return slowly

-use a full range of motion and allow all the motion to come from the shoulders

Bent Rear Delt Raise

These are a staple exercise for training the rear delts. Here’s how to perform them:

Helpful tips:

-DON’T go super heavy on these

-get into a bent over position with your hips back, stomach braced, and your chest up

-start with the DB’s directly underneath your shoulders

-with the arms straight or slightly bent, raise your elbows back

-give it a nice squeeze at the top and then return slowly to the start position

-limit swinging the DB’s and use a controlled motion

Chest Supported Rear Delt Raise

Similar to the above, this is a good variation if your lower back is fatigued or if you want to change the angle slightly.

Helpful tips:

-position yourself on an incline bench at about a 20-30 degree angle or so (note–the higher the angle the most involvement you’ll get from the side delts)

-raise up explosively and return slowly

-use a full range of motion

DB Swings

I first learned about these from the Mountain Dog himself, John Meadows. Used sparingly at certain times, these can be a great way to trigger new shoulder growth and to shake things up a bit. They’re best done at the end of a workout because they will absolutely fry your rear delts.

Helpful tips:

-use straps if you have them because you’ll want to use pretty heavy DB’s on these (note–you won’t be raising the DB’s up very far)

-let your shoulders kind of hang down and keep the arms straight

-‘swing’ your arms out and back, controlled, and only raising up about 1/3 of the way

-use sets of 25+ reps on these

Band Resisted Rear Delt Raise

This one is good as a finisher at the end of a workout and can be used to get a bit of extra rear delt work in.

Helpful tips:

-use a light enough band that allows you to raise your hands at least to shoulder height

-do them explosively and a bit faster than you would with other rear delt variations

-use for higher reps 20+

Want Some Killer Shoulder Workouts?

Simply opt-in below to join my exclusive community. Once you’re in, email me at ryanwoodtraining@gmail.com with the subject line ‘shoulder workouts’ and I’ll send you some workouts over right away.

You’ll be on your way to bigger, stronger and more defined shoulders.

10 Steadfast Lifting Rules to Build More Muscle and Improve Strength

In today’s article, I want to share 10 lifting tips for lifters who want to build more muscle and strength while improving performance and preventing injury.

1) Learn good movement patterns before adding tons of weight

If you’re new to the gym or have been lifting for years, you should start with the basics.

Much like riding a bike, you wouldn’t jump straight on to a 2-wheeler if you’ve never ridden before (unless you’re super daring).

You’d instead start with training wheels to get the hang of things.

That’s what it should be like when you first start out in the gym. You’ve got to learn the basics before you can start loading everything up.

goblet squat

A quick example would be this squat progression:

Assisted Bodyweight Squat>Bodyweight Squat to Bench>Bodweight Squat (free squat)>Goblet Squat to Bench> Goblet Squat (free squat)>Barbell Front Squat/Back Squat to box>Barbell Front/Back Squat (no bench)

There are obviously more squatting variations but the idea should be to begin with the easiest one and then progress through as you become more comfortable with the movement pattern.

There’s no set amount of time you should stick with one variation or another, it really comes down to your needs.

If you have to do assisted squats for a month or two, that’s completely fine. The key is to ‘master’ the movement before adding load or difficulty.

2) Build Off These 4 Core Movements

Building on the first point, beginners need lots of exposure to certain exercises/movement patterns in order to truly learn and progress. And for those people who have already been training, these 4 movements should be staples in your training programs.

I think regardless of whether the goal is to become as strong as humanly possible, or to look good on the beach, it’s important to learn and practice these 4 movements:

  • squat
  • hinge
  • push
  • pull

If you can learn these movements when you’re just starting out, you’ll have a solid foundation to build and branch out from.

We already covered a good squat progression so let’s discuss the other three now.

Hinge

A hinge is where you control most of the movement through the hips, the knees don’t bend a lot, and your torso ‘folds’ over but remains rigid and flat the entire time.

There are lots of hinge movements that I could cover, but for the sake of keeping it simple here’s a beginner’s progression:

Bodyweight/wall assisted romanian deadlift>KB/DB at chest RDL>DB RDL>Barbell RDL

Again, you should always start light or with bodyweight to practice the movement before adding an external load.

Push

The most basic, and probably most beneficial exercise for a new lifter to master is the push-up. It’s important to create the proper body tension while doing push-ups, as well as starting at an appropriate level.

A great progress for the push-up would be:

Hands elevated push-up (hands on bar or bench)>push-up from the floor> 1 leg elevated push-up>weighted/band resisted push-up

To help you nail your push-up technique from the start, use the hands elevated variation to master your technique. Below is a quick demo.

Don’t waste time with push-ups from the knees. By elevating your hands, you’ll be able to perform real push-ups but at a level that is appropriate for your strength. One thing to note–you can lower your hands to make them more difficult. Before going immediately to ground-based pushups you’ll want to continue lowering the bar closer and closer to the ground until you’re strong enough to perform them from the floor.

Pull

Rows and pull-ups are two of the best pulling exercises you can do, especially as a new lifter.

The inverted row is great because like the hands elevated push-up, you can change the difficult simply by raising or lowering the bar.

Pull-ups are also a prime pulling movement. I recommend starting with the assisted pull-up machine like in the video below:

3) Practice and Be Patient

You’ll probably have the urge to want to make progress as fast as possible which is good and bad. It’s good that you’re eager to get better, but bad because you need to be patient if you want to stay injury free as you gain strength.

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s better to practice the lifts and new exercises with lighter weights until you’ve really gotten the hang of them.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should be goblet squatting exclusively for years, but if you’re just starting out, it may be several months or more before you’ve progressed to a more difficult variation.

The strongest, fittest, and most in shape people didn’t get there over night. It will take lots of time and tons of practice. You have to be patient but at the same time consistent.

If you want to get better and stronger you should probably be willing to strength train at least 2-3 times per week. If you only practice your exercises once per week, you’ll have forgotten most of the technique the following workout.

Practice consistency and patience and you’ll be off to a great start in your lifting career.

4) Don’t Worry What Others Are Doing

As a new lifter in the gym, it’s easy to worry about what others are doing. You might see someone doing a weird cable glute kick in some awkward position and think “should I be doing that?”

ericcressey.com

ericcressey.com

When you’re a beginner you have to be a little bit selfish. Not in a rude way, but you need to focus on making your technique better, practicing the exercises you need to practice, and improving a little every time you step foot into the gym.

Don’t waste time worrying what other people are doing. There will be lots of people doing things wrong and some doing stuff right.

The best thing you can do is to focus on making each and every rep as good as you can and to work hard at the same time.

5) Technique, Technique, Technique

Besides being consistent and working hard, it’s really important that you’re paying attention to using good technique.

The cool thing as a beginner is that you can learn the proper way to lift from the get-go. Consider working with an in-person trainer or online coach to make sure your form is on point.

Lifting with good technique serves a few purposes:

  • it keeps you safe and lowers your risk of injury
  • it allows you to progress faster
  • it helps you build more muscle and strength because your technique is more efficient

If you lift like a bonehead you’re likely to get hurt. And if you get hurt, well then you won’t be able to train for your goals and you’ll be left watching re-runs of Fresh Prince.

So emphasize using good technique and a full range of motion (or as best as your mobility allows) all the time and you’ll make better gains in strength, muscle, and performance.

6) Build Strength with Volume

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

As I’ve touched on a bit already, for new lifters (important for seasoned lifters, too) it’s important not to get caught up in the weight you’re lifting. While you should be making consistent increases in weight, you can and should get stronger in the beginning stages by increasing your volume.

By using lighter weights early on, you’ll establish better control of the movements and really learn how to brace, flex, squeeze and exert effort as the weights become more challenging.

You can gain strength by doing more reps and total sets, which means more overall volume. Instead of using a weight that would crush you on a squat, for example, use a weight that allows you to get 8-12 challenging but do-able reps.

The biggest key to doing more reps is making sure they are good quality reps. If you’re doing a set of 10, you want all 10 reps to look the same. Don’t let your form fall off after the first couple reps.

7) Total Body Workouts are Great

In the beginning stages of lifting, it’s a good idea to do full body workouts each time you’re in the gym. If that’s 2-3 times per week starting out, make sure you are training your entire body every session.

This allows you to practice the movements more often and helps you get in more volume (work) throughout the week, while still being able to recover in between sessions.

When you train 2-3x per week, body-part splits aren’t going to be best because you’ll get less exposure to certain muscles/movements.

Instead, you could follow something like this if you train 2 times per week:

Day 1

A1) Squat variation 3 sets 8-12 reps

A2) Row Variation 3 sets 8-15 reps

B1) Hinge variation 3 sets 8-12 reps

B2) Push-up variation 3 sets 8-15 reps

C1) 4 point-plank 3 sets of 3 (8 second holds)

Take 1-2 days in between workouts

Day 2

A1) Hinge Variation 3 sets of 8-12 reps

A2) Push variation (can be push-up or overhead press variation) 3 sets of 8-15 reps

B1) Squat variation 3 sets of 8-12 reps

B2) Pull-up variation 3 sets of 8-15 reps

C1) Reverse Crunch 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Obviously, this is just a rough template, but it should give you a good idea of how to properly structure your training based on 2 sessions per week. You’d likely add 1 more set to every exercise, while adding slightly more weight, and keeping the reps in the same range for 3-4 weeks at a time.

If you have any questions about a beginner workout structure or how to set up your own program feel free to email me at ryanwoodtraining@gmail.com and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.

8) Use Video (A lot)

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

Video review has gotten more popular over the last several years, but it really can be hugely beneficial.

With the exception of becoming too overly obsessive about your technique, using video can be handy if you want to see how you’re executing a movement or exercise.

Sometimes it’s hard to perform an exercise even if you know how it should look. That’s where videos come in handy. As a new lifter, get into the habit of recording yourself performing your main exercises so that you can go back after the session and see what you did well and to see what you could improve on.

I encourage all of my online coaching clients to send me lifting videos so we can keep improving technique.

Video review can be a great learning experience for new lifters, and really handy for seasoned gym goers as well.

9) Avoid Silly Workouts or Exercises

Unfortunately, some newer lifters get their workouts straight out of magazines or from popular Instagram models.

While these people might have great physiques, it doesn’t mean you should be doing what they’re doing.

It all comes back to being patient and trusting the process. You’ve got to crawl before you can run.

Make sure you stick with the basic exercises like we’ve talked about and you’ll do great. If though, you get caught up in following an IG model’s ‘glute’ workout with 26 cable kickback variations, you’re unlikely to make a lot of progress and worse, you could get injured.

Avoid doing silly exercises you might see popular Instagram models or bodybuilders doing and stick with progressive overload on fundamental exercises that have gotten people in great shape for decades.

10) Keep at It

Courtesy of pixabay.com

Courtesy of pixabay.com

Sometimes, new lifters get discouraged if they’re strength isn’t shooting up as fast as they would like, or their body fat isn’t melting off like the infomercials tell them.

The best piece of advice I can is to just stick with it. Whether you’re brand new to the gym or you’ve been lifting for 5, 10, or 15 years, you just have to keep going.

There will be times when progress is going very well. And, there will also be times when you might feel you can’t catch a break.

The real magic to all of this lifting stuff is to just keep at it. Don’t quit, don’t stop working hard, and don’t stop learning.

Once you realize how rewarding the gym can be, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well, you’ll learn to love the entire process that much more.

Track your workouts, take progress pictures, and look back in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years from when you first started and you’ll be amazed at how much progress you’ve actually made.

Gain Strength. Build Muscle. Lose Fat.

Grab Your Free Nutrition Guide Below to Make Better Progress

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How to Dominate Your Fat Loss Goals in 2017

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Today’s article isn’t meant to be a rah-rah motivational speech but instead a new way of looking at your New Year’s resolutions. We’ll cover why most people fail with their resolutions and what you can do to finally stick to the plan and dominate your fat loss goals in 2017.

Are you ready?

Resolutions Are So Cliche

It’s about that time of year to start making your New Year’s resolutions.

The thought of making ‘resolutions’ is a little annoying but only because so many people say they’re going to do this and that but never follow through.

I’m totally guilty as well.

But here’s the thing…

As cliche as resolutions can be, they’re not all bad. 

When you think about what resolutions you’re making for 2017 you’re really talking about your goals and what you want to accomplish.

Your resolutions can be anything you want them to be.

Earn a promotion.

Buy a house.

Dominate your fat loss goals.

Whatever you choose needs to be important to you or else you’ll never accomplish it. I know that’s pretty harsh but I’ve never been a big fan of sugar coating things.

Your resolutions will fail if they aren’t really, really important to you.

And that right there is exactly why the majority of resolutions never amount to anything. Because people just name off a bunch of things without giving them enough thought.

Decide what you want and go for it. Give it your best effort and you’ll be happy you did.

Pick Your Primary Focus

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Rather than making a list of 3435 different things you want to accomplish, how about picking 2-3 of the most important goals you have right now and crushing those?

For millions of people, and likely you as well, dropping a few of those holiday pounds will be atop the list.

Perfect. Now is as good a time as ever to start taking control of your health, body and fitness.

But….

Don’t just say ‘yeah I want to lose 15-20 pounds’ and never do anything to actually reach that goal.

Put that goal into action.

So, first things first, decide on your top 2-3 goals for 2017, write them down, and come up with a plan to achieve them.

Break Your Goal Down

Because weight loss is one of the top resolutions around the world, let’s use that as an example.

Obviously, your current fitness levels and experience with diet and exercise will be a factor, but let’s assume you have some basic experience with this fitness stuff and you’re looking to drop 30lbs.

Are you going to go full speed ahead and drop all 30lbs in one fell swoop?

Unfortunately, probably not. Not for a lack of effort but more so because your body will need  a break or two in there.

When you have goals such as weight loss, it’s ridiculously important to start out with realistic expectations. The more weight you want to lose, in general, the longer it’s going to take.

That’s fair enough, right?

Everyone’s rate of weight loss is going to be a bit different, but losing 30lbs could take 3 months or it may take 6 months. Maybe even longer.

The point is to never quit.

Keep going until you reach your goal.

You might begin the year eating healthy and losing weight. You’re making good progress and you’ve lost 8lbs already in the first month. That’s a great start, for sure.

The second month you only lose 4 pounds.

This doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong (though you could be eating too much and need further calorie restriction), but it might mean you need to take a break from dieting for a month or so and let your body get used to this new lower bodyweight.

dominate your fat loss goals

The three main pillars of fat loss

After this ‘maintenance’ period you can go back to cutting calories and losing even more weight. It’s important to remember that dieting isn’t always a linear process. Just because it’s the New Year doesn’t mean you have to reach your end goal immediately. Weight loss takes time.

Some weeks you’ll weigh more, you’ll lose more other weeks, and some weeks you’ll stay the same.

The ‘secret’ is to never stop and to continue plugging away. That’s the key if you want to dominate your fat loss goals.

Be relentless. That’s really what it comes down to. Never quitting or stopping because progress slows or things get tougher.

Ease In

Just because you’ve got some lofty goals doesn’t mean you have to radically change your current lifestyle.

If you’ve set out to lose those holiday pounds, remember, there is no finite deadline and you don’t have to cut out everything you think is ‘bad for you.’

This is one of the biggest challenges lots of people face.

Your motivation is through the roof so you do what most people would do. 

You dive right in going full speed ahead but lose steam after a month or two.

To help ‘make things stick,’ ease your way into making changes.

Enough change to make a change, but not so much that you’re forced to give up.

As for fat loss, you should be eating more calories at the beginning of your diet than you will at the end. Many people make the mistake of starting with a super restrictive diet cutting out sugar, gluten, fat, carbs, bread, who knows.

Make small adjustments and let the diet run its course. You don’t need to do a complete 360 in order to dominate your fat loss goals. Be consistent, persistent, and work hard and you will see change.

Enjoy the Process

We live in a time where we want it now. Whatever it might be, we want it right here, right now.

The thing about weight loss is that it’s a process. And, the sooner you can realize that there will be peaks and valleys along the way, the more enjoyable the journey will become.

Because here’s the thing about a weight loss…

You want to get the weight off and keep it off, right?

Exactly.

I don’t know anyone that says “yeah, I want to lose 20lbs now, but I don’t care if I gain it back as long as I lose it now.”

Part of the solution to dominate your fat loss goals this New Years is to enjoy the process and understand that it’ll take time. Plus, when you put in the effort over a period of time, it makes that achievement a lot more rewarding.

Stop Giving Up When Things Get Tough

Courtesy of pixabay.com

Maybe the reason so many people fail to accomplish their resolutions is because as soon as the journey becomes a bit challenging they throw in the towel.

I hate to break it to ya, but achieving anything worthwhile is very unlikely to happen without overcoming challenges and obstacles. If things start getting tougher you’ll need to find a way to overcome it.

Maybe you’re mid-way through your diet and still have a good amount of weight to lose. But you’re starving and beginning to doubt why you even chose such a stupid goal in the first place.

Well, you chose it because it’s important to you. Whether it’s for health reasons or to boost your self-confidence, losing weight is a great goal. When things get tough and you start getting hungrier and hungrier try choosing foods that are more filling such as lean proteins like chicken breast and steak, and filling carbs like oats, fibrous vegetables, and fruits.

Increase your water intake. Add some diet drinks in there and give your beverages a boost with some Mio flavoring.

And, sometimes, things will just be tough. You have the choice to stick it out or throw in the towel like everyone else. That part’s up to you I suppose. If you truly want to dominate your fat loss goals in 2017 stay focused and keep at it even when things get tough.

Dominate Your Fat Loss Goals in 2017

In just under a couple weeks, I’ll be launching my new program, Fat Loss 365.

It’s a program to help you stick to your resolutions. Not for a month. Not for two. But for an entire year. The key to success is staying relentless and never giving up.

And that’s exactly what Fat Loss 365 is going to do. To help you manage, plan, and dominate your fat loss goals so that you not only achieve them, but you stick with them year-round.

Over the next week or so, I’ll have the details of the program for those who are VIP subscribers.

If you need an extra little boost and some guidance to crush your goals in 2017 then be sure to join my VIP area below. As a thank you (and a little holiday reading) I’ll send you a copy of my nutrition manual, ’10 Commandments of Fat Loss.’

Let’s make 2017 your best year yet.

Grab Your Free Quick Start Diet Guide Now!

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Fat Loss for Busy People: 3 Tips to Keep You on Track

“Busyness” is the most challenging obstacle when it comes to fat loss. Many would consider fat loss for busy people to be impossible.

Just ask the workaholic or even yourself.

Let’s face it…everyone is busy.

Some more than others but the fact is, even the busiest of people manage to workout, take care of their families, work their jobs and still have a life, too.

Today, I’d like to give you some strategies to make fat loss easier and more doable especially if you’re someone who is ‘too busy’ all the time.

Let’s stop making excuses and let’s just get it done.

Food Prep Fat Loss for Busy People

The crockpot is a useful tool for fat loss for busy people

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: prepping food ahead of time is the number one way to give yourself the best chance of success with a fat loss diet.

Is prepping your food the only method of fat loss for busy people?

Of course not.

But….

It makes things so much easier.

Think about it for a second. By skipping a once or twice weekly food prepping extravaganza, you then have to figure out what you’ll be eating for every meal, every day.

Even if you were only making dinner every night, that’s still 7 meals you have to make from scratch. And when you’re short on time, making meals from scratch just isn’t a fun option.

I always recommend my online coaching clients to prep food ahead of time. Not only will they know what they’re eating, but they’ll save way more time over the course of the week.

So here’s what to do…

Pick two days and set aside about an hour to make big batches of protein, carbs, veggies etc. I like Sundays (because they’re usually a little more low-key) and one day during the week (Wednesday or Thursday).

You’re starving. It’s been a while since you’ve eaten and you need something quick. You can either order a pizza from down the street OR you can open the fridge and heat up a meal in minutes.

As far as fat loss goes, the second one is likely to win every time.

I think people get the wrong idea about prepping food. Maybe they think it’s only stuff bodybuilders do or they think that ‘food prep’ means making 5-star meals.

Sure, you want what you make to taste good, but you don’t need to spend tons of time cooking.

That’s why crockpots and ovens were invented. For fat loss for busy people.

With the crockpot you can make chili, bbq pulled chicken, slow-cooked steak tips or pork. The options are endless.

Here’s my famous chili recipe:

2-3lbs of lean ground beef (you can also use ground chicken or turkey as well)

1 large can of tomato sauce

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 packet chili seasoning

frozen veggies (I like onions, peppers, corn, but you can throw in your preference of veggies

Brown the meat first and then toss everything into the slow cooker and let that baby go for 5-6 hours depending on the temperature. This should give you plenty of quality meals throughout the week and save you tons of time as well.

For bbq chicken, simply throw some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the crockpot (2-3lbs works well) and add 1 cup of hot sauce and 1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix. Once that cooks for 5-6 hours, simply shred with a fork and you’ve got tender protein packed chicken ready to be devoured.

These two recipes are some of my favorite fat loss strategies for busy people.

As far as carbs and vegetables go, you can make big batches of rice or potatoes which don’t take much time at all (hour tops), and you can make frozen veggies super quick. No shame in the frozen veggie game!

Keeping it Simple, Fat Loss for Busy People

Fat loss for busy people can be simple

Ok, so maybe even prepping food is too big of a step right now.

You can still lose fat and here’s how.

Without any food prep, you’ll need to establish some simple nutrition guidelines to follow to help set yourself up for fat loss success.

Fat loss for busy people is possible with these 3 nutrition guidelines

  • 3-4 meals per day
  • 1-2 palm sized portions of protein at every meal
  • fill half your plate or dish with vegetables

If you do these 3 simple things, chances are you will start to drop fat. No counting calories or food prep required.

Now, with these 3 rules in mind and no food prep, you’ll likely be buying ready-made food from the grocery store.

This is perfectly fine if that’s your only option at this point.

Here are some great choices that you can buy right from the grocery store that are already cooked or take only a minute or two in the microwave:

Protein sources:

  • Rotisserie chicken (Usually like $5-7 which should provide enough protein for multiple meals)
  • hardboiled eggs
  • greek yogurt
  • beef jerky
  • deli meat

Carb Sources:

  • bagged veggies
  • frozen veggies
  • fresh or frozen fruit
  • oatmeal
  • 1-minute rice
  • bread for sandwiches

Fats and Extras

  • natural peanut butter
  • nuts
  • olive oil
  • protein powder (whey and casein)
  • water, diet sodas, seltzers, Mio flavoring for water

Now, even just from these options above, you could come up with several meals to eat throughout the week that would help you hit your fat loss goals.

Fat loss for busy people doesn’t have to be crazy complicated. And if you’re busy as it is, following the guidelines above can be a great start. I won’t say that following something like this will work indefinitely, but it’s a great start for sure.

Another tip is to make your biggest meal of the day the one where you’re the hungriest. I know it sounds pretty simple but with all of the misinformation about not eating this and that at this time or that time it’s no wonder people’s heads aren’t spinning.

A quick example is you work all day and are so busy during the day that you almost forget to eat, yet you’re ravenously hungry at dinner time.

The simple solution would be to make your dinner the largest meal. This way, you feel satiated before going to sleep and can still accomplish your fat loss goals.

Fat Loss for Busy People Strategies for Dining Out

Fat loss for busy people is still possible while eating out

Going out to dinner can be tons of fun. But it can also be a bit stressful if you’re dieting for fat loss.

Should you order similar things as everyone else or get the ultra-low-calorie option and not really enjoy your meal?

That’s a tough question, actually, and I can’t really answer it for you. But, I do have some tips for dining out that’ll possibly make your meal a little bit better and help you stay on track with your diet.

Whether it’s a work party, dinner with friends, or just a meal out on the town, you don’t have to make yourself crazy debating whether to hold the bun, the cheese, the sauce, or the flavor and fun.

Here are some simple swaps you can make while dining out to save yourself some calories while still enjoying yourself:

  • Opt for grilled, broiled, or baked dishes if possible
  • grab the chicken sandwich instead of the burger
  • OR if you want the burger skip the fries and get a side salad instead
  • Go double or nothing on the veggies and get the entree you want
  • If you’re drinking (which you will be) keep your meal lower in fat if possible
  • Say screw it and get whatever the heck you want

Dining out doesn’t mean diet sabotage. Even if you eat whatever you want you can still drop fat.

But here’s the deal.

Eating out every now and then and getting whatever you want is ok, but doing this multiple times per week…now that may make it a bit tougher to hit your goals.

You can make these simple swaps to spare some calories or you can count it as a free meal and get right back on your diet the next meal.

That part is up to you.

Either way, you still have to be consistent over the long run in order to hit your fat loss goals.

Get More Fat Loss Tips Below!

I hope the tips in this article gave you some actionable advice that you can put into practice so that no matter how busy you are you can still achieve your fat loss goals.

If you want more tips like these to help you lose fat, get stronger, and dominate life, join my VIP newsletter below. As a thank you for joining the community, I’ll send you a free copy of my “10 Commandments of Fat Loss” ebook.

See you on the inside.

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best resistance band exercises for strength

The 12 Best Resistance Band Exercises for Strength

In the words of Juicy J, bandz make her dance. Resistance bands also help you get more jacked and tan, build strength and enhance fat loss. Unlike many of the other popular gym gadgets of the last several years, resistance bands can be highly beneficial if you use them right. In today’s article, you’ll learn the 12 best resistance band exercises for strength to take your training and results to the next level.

Let’s dig in.

Using The Best Resistance Band Exercises for Strength

Resistance bands are a great training tool because they are portable, easy to set up, and can add another level to the resistance curve/or make an exercise easier.

However,  resistance bands shouldn’t be applied to every single exercise in the gym. Don’t finish reading this article and then immediately start performing banded walking lunges or banded tricep kick backs. I’ll show you which exercises work really well with resistance bands so you can begin implementing them into your own programs.

Who Are They For?

Powerlifters…

Bodybuilders…

Athletes…

And, simply put, people who want to get stronger, leaner, and in better shape.

They aren’t just for one type of fitness enthusiast or gym-goer. However, the way you use them may be different depending on your goals.

I can think of three primary ways to use resistance bands in your training.

  1. For hypertrophy/pump work and or warm ups and low joint stress exercises. Using a band for things like pull aparts or face pulls is a great way to add resistance to these exercises without needing access to a machine or gym.
  2. As an overload tool–on certain exercises such as the deadlift against bands, the tension or weight would become greater the closer you get to lockout. This is one example of how you could use a band set up to increase the weight at the top of this movement.
  3. As an assistance tool–You could use resistance bands on pullups to make them a bit easier to help you build strength. You can also use bands for a reverse band squat, bench press or deadlift. With the reverse band set-up, the bands are attached at the top of the rack and help to assist during the toughest part of a certain exercise (in the hole on a heavy squat, for example).

Depending on the set-up, resistance bands can help during an exercise, or they can make an exercise more difficult. This is why they’re such a useful training tool and can be used on many of the best exercises.

The 12 Best Resistance Band Exercises for Strength

In this section, I’m gonna show you the good stuff.

Aka, the 12 best resistance band exercises for strength.

These aren’t the only exercises you can do with resistance bands but should give you a pretty good idea of how to set them up depending on the purpose (hypertrophy, assistance, overload).

Band Pull Aparts

Band Face Pulls

Bent Over Band Rear Delt Raise

Banded Hip Thrust

Band Assisted Pullup/Chin Up

Banded Pushup

DB Bench Press vs. Bands

Bench Press vs. Band

Used to increase tension further from the chest. The weight will be heaviest at the top (easiest portion of the bench) and lightest at the bottom (tougher spot for most people).

Deadlift vs. Band (for overload/more weight at the top of the lift)

Reverse Band Bench Press

You can use this set-up to allow you to handle heavier weights because the bands will assist you at the hardest part of the lift (chest or off the chest).

Reverse Band Squat (used to assist in handling heavier loads)

Reverse Band Deadlift

Used to allow you to pick up heavier weights off the floor because the tension of the band is pulling up on the bar.

Implementing the Best Resistance Band Exercises for Strength

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t want your entire training session to only use bands. You should use them in specific portions of your training program to build muscle and strength.

  • For muscle gains, you can use bands on things like DB bench presses to give you a stronger contraction at the top of the press and to force you to push through those sticking points. Try to use the 6-12 rep range mostly and around 60-80% intensity.
  • For building strength and applying band training more towards bringing up your squat, bench and deadlift, you could utilize the overload band set up (bench press vs. band) or the reverse band set up (reverse band squat).
  • If you want to work on driving through sticking points or building strength through the toughest part of the lift, then you can use the resisted band set up to do that. Anywhere from 1-6 reps can be useful here depending on the specific goal and implementation of the bands in your training program.
  • Reverse bands will allow you to handle heavier weights because you’ll be supporting the full weight at the start of the lift and essentially ‘deloading’ some of the weight at the hardest part of the exercise. This is great if you’ve got a powerlifting meet coming up and want to ‘feel’ heavier weights on your back or in your hands.

The Best Resistance Band Exercises for Strength–That’s a Wrap

You can begin implementing these exercises into your training program right away.

Like, right now.

Pick and choose the ones that’ll be most specific for your goals and enjoy the gains.

If you want to read more stuff like this then be sure to join my exclusive VIP area below. It’s free, don’t worry. As a thank you for joining I’ll send you a free copy of my nutrition manual.

See you on the inside.

Build Strength and Get Lean (Grab Your Free Copy Below)

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28 Things About Gaining Muscle, Losing Fat, and Building Strength I’ve Learned in 28 Years

I turned 28 a few days ago and I’ve got to say, I don’t feel all that old. Especially not as old as my bday twin, Tony Gentilcore (Tony I hope you read this and still like me 🙂 ).

Now that I’m wise beyond my years, I thought it would be cool to share 28 nuggets about things related to training, nutrition, and fitness that I’ve learned, practiced, used, taught, and experimented with since I got into this game.

Even though I haven’t been training for 28 years, I think you’ll find these ‘things’ beneficial to your own progress.

Enjoy!

On Gaining Muscle

pixabay.com

pixabay.com

  1. To build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you burn. If you aren’t gaining weight, you aren’t likely putting on the muscle you might think you are.
  2. You can use barbells, dumbbells, machines, cables, and kettlebells to build muscle. You can even use Bosu balls. Ok. No, you can’t. The point is muscle can be gained if you eat enough and train hard enough to present an overload to your body.
  3. I tend to lean towards the compound lifts when designing a muscle building program. Simply put, they’re fantastic for hitting all of the major muscle groups.
  4. Gaining muscle takes time and lots of it.
  5. Gaining muscle is much harder than losing fat, generally speaking.
  6. Your body is much more receptive to putting on muscle if you’re relatively lean first. So, lose some fat first, then put on the mass.
  7. You should spend more time trying to build muscle than lose fat simply because of the time comparison of building muscle vs. losing fat. (And the fact that muscle is what gives us the ‘shape’ we want)
  8. Frequency of training is very important for building muscle, as is total volume. Try to increase your volume of training over a period of 4-5 weeks before using a deload. Then, go for another phase of mass building.

On Losing Fat

IMG_1697

  1. Getting lean enough to see decent ab definition will take longer than you think/or want to believe. Once you finish this article, check THIS article out that details my 25lb weight loss earlier this year.
  2. Consume fewer calories than you need and you’ll lose weight. Simple, right? For the most part, yes, it is. But, you have to make sure you are actually eating less. Track your calories with an app or pay closer attention to your portion sizes.
  3. Keep protein steady throughout your diet while removing fats and carbs. About 1g/lb of bodyweight is perfect.
  4. To help spare muscle loss, consume protein every 4-6 hours while dieting down.
  5. You can lose fat fast or you can lose fat slow. It really depends on how much you have to lose and also if you’re doing a rapid fat loss phase more for diet ‘buy-in.’
  6. You don’t have to avoid certain foods to lose fat.
  7. You do have to eat certain foods to lose fat. Haha, see what I did there? Eat the foods you like and stick to your calorie targets and you can still lose fat.
  8. Whole foods ARE probably better than junk foods because you can eat more quantity of food for the same amount of calories. More fullness=better chance of sticking to diet
  9. You shouldn’t aim to lose fat constantly. If you have a lot to lose, break your fat loss into multiple 12-week phases. If you only have a little bit to lose, knock it out and then get back to maintaining or building muscle.
  10. Fat loss training is more about preserving muscle mass than it is about burning calories. (The bulk of your calorie deficit most likely will come from your diet)
  11. You still want to train hard to lose fat just as you would if you were building muscle. The biggest difference is going to be in your calorie amounts.
  12. You can still do fun things, enjoy social outings and drink booze while losing fat. BUT, calories still matter first and foremost so don’t expect phenomenal results if you’re drinking 4-5 nights a week and eating crap food.

On Building Strength

Sumo- PR of 510lbs

Sumo- PR of 510lbs

  1. Strength comes in many different forms. Are you looking to improve your 1 rep max for a powerlifting meet? Do you want to build more strength in your legs so you can get up and down the stairs more easily? Or, do you want to improve strength to help drive muscle growth?
  2. Building strength is generally more of a neural adaptation which basically means your body needs to get used to lifting heavier weights over time.
  3. You can build strength with the big 3 (squats, deadlifts, bench presses) or you can even build strength with ANY exercises you want. All depends on your goal(s).
  4. Good technique should always be stressed to help prevent injury and allow for maximum strength gains.
  5. To gain strength you’ll need to practice and repeat those exercises many, many times. Don’t jump around from program to program expecting a different result. Instead, stick with a program for at least a month with the same exercises so you can progressively load week to week and get stronger.
  6. You can build strength with your bodyweight, too. Pushups, pull-ups, and dips are all great exercises for the upper body and will improve your physique and strength as well.
  7. Strength gains won’t happen overnight. Keep at it and never stop trying to improve your strength. This could mean doing 1 extra rep with five more pounds or lifting 10 more pounds at the end of a training cycle.
  8. Building more muscle gives you the potential to get stronger. Hence why large muscled individuals are 9 times out of 10 stronger than others.

Random Musings

  1. Don’t fall for detoxes, magic diet pills or supplements that promise instant or rapid results. Truthfully, making good and solid progress with your strength, physique, and fitness will take time. Most likely forever (meaning you should make it a lifestyle not an overnight ‘quick fix.’)
  2. Don’t fall for diet fads like I did. I’m now wise enough to know that putting 900 calories of butter into my coffee isn’t doing me any fat loss favors.
  3. Always go for the goals that YOU want. I’ve learned to train and diet based on how I want my body to look and feel. If I want to get leaner, I’ll eat and train based on that. If I want to add strength then I’ll go for that. It might be selfish, but I don’t train a certain way because somebody else told me to.
  4. Reaching your goals doesn’t boil down to one single factor. Meaning just because you’re consistent you’ll achieve them. Your goals will require many factors such as hard work, effort, confidence, forgiveness, determination, level-headedness, openness and many others.
  5. Have fun with your training without sacrificing principles and results.
  6. Understand that you may have to do things at times that suck, are difficult and challenging, and test your limits. That’s ok. That helps to build character and can teach you a lot about yourself.
  7. Always strive to learn more. I know I am everyday.
  8. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be confident in yourself but never be afraid to take chances and go for what you believe in.
  9. Enjoy the journey.

I’ve certainly been fortunate to learn from THE best in the fitness industry. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of ‘things’ on my list and they’ll likely come to me as soon as I publish this.

Anyway, I hope my random thoughts have benefitted you in some way. *FYI I went over 28 ‘things’ so I hope you don’t mind ;)*

Here’s to your success and another 28 years of learning and growing.

And, because it’s still my birthday week, I’d like to give YOU a gift!

When you join my exclusive VIP area you’ll receive a free copy of my fat loss guide, ’10 Commandments of Fat Loss.’

Build Muscle. Lose Fat. Gain Strength.

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Burn Fat Over Thanksgiving with These 8 Tips

The holidays are here and Thanksgiving is tomorrow (depending on when you read this). Rather than stressing out, you can still burn fat over Thanksgiving while enjoying a nice family meal.

Forget about scouring the internet for tricks and shortcuts to speed up your results. In this article, I’m going to give you a no B.S. rundown of what not to do, and more importantly what to do to improve your fat loss results.

I’ve got 8 tips to burn fat over Thanksgiving, helping you prevent holiday weight gain so you can make progress and lose inches the smart way.

1) Limit Isolation Exercises to Burn Fat Over Thanksgiving

burn fat over Thanksgiving

The next time you go to the gym I want you to take a minute or two to observe where most of the members spend their time. I’m willing to bet that the majority of people are using machines, oftentimes seated while doing so.

This isn’t to say that machines are bad because, hey I like to hit some leg curls or extensions from time to time.

But, and it’s a big but (pun intended) you should prioritize compound movements in your training.

Why do compound movements when you could sit and relax on a machine?

  1. With compound movements (think squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, chins, rows, lunges, etc) you recruit more muscle fibers. A squat, for example, will hit more muscle groups than just doing a seated leg extension. This is why compound exercises are the perfect choice to burn fat over Thanksgiving. You can enjoy your holiday meal and still get results.
  2. Compound lifts will be better to burn fat over Thanksgiving because they’ll burn more calories.
  3. At the very least, start your workout with big, compound lifts, and finish with machine stuff if you choose.

2) Don’t Go Crazy With Warming Up

It seems like lately people are spending more time during their warmup than lifting some damn weight. And, to burn fat over Thanksgiving, spending too much time warming up is going to be a waste of your time.

If your warmup takes more than 15 minutes MAX, please rethink how you’re going about that. I wrote an article a while back on warmup drills you can do before lifting some heavy weights. You can read that here.

A lot of people have gotten realllllly carried away with stretching/mobilizing/flossing every nook and cranny of their body that they’ve lost sight of the main purpose of being in the gym.

foam rolling won't burn fat over Thanksgiving

To look better, feel better, and move better.

My online clients are busy people. They don’t have an extra 30 minutes to spend rolling around when they could be lifting. Funnily enough, many people fail to realize that lifting can actually improve your mobility and range of motion if done properly.

Unless you’re a circus performer, do you really need to be able to do the splits or toss your legs behind your head?

Probably not.

Instead, work towards a full range of motion with compound exercises to drastically enhance mobility.

Because at the end of the day, foam rolling isn’t gonna burn fat. You still need to train hard.

*Note- Don’t get me wrong and think that I’m anti-warmup or stretching or mobility stuff. Just don’t get super carried away with it that you run out of time to actually LIFT and get stronger.

3) Group Classes Aren’t Very Effective

Having worked in a commercial gym for 2 years, I know exactly how these group classes work. The instructor takes a large class through an array of exercises, makes em sweat, and they leave feeling exhausted.

The biggest problem though, is there’s no type of progression in place at most commercial gyms. Every class is just a random hodge-podge workout, often using exercises that I honestly can’t actually call exercises.

Balancing like the karate kid while doing curls is not the most effective use of time. It’s also not the most effective way to burn fat over Thanksgiving.

group classes aren't the most effective way to burn fat over Thanksgiving

However, group classes can be a fantastic addition to an existing gym routine. You want to make sure the instructor knows what they’re doing, and also that there is some sort of tracking involved.

How will you, or the instructor for that matter, know if progress is being made if there isn’t any way to track things? A group class structure where you train with the same movements for a period of time and gradually increase the sets, reps, or weight each week would be a great start.

Simply going to a jam-packed group class where you’ll do a random workout every single time isn’t the most efficient strategy to help you burn fat over Thanksgiving.

If you do want to burn fat over Thanksgiving, make sure that in a group setting you’re still doing the compound lifts, or at the very least, variants of them.

4) Follow a Logical Plan to Burn Fat Over Thanksgiving

Building a little on the last point, you’ll have a tough time making significant progress just “going to the gym.”

What I mean is this: Some people go to the gym with a plan of what they will do that particular day. Others simply go to the gym and do whatever they feel like doing.

If you want to get real results, you should be following a program of some sort. You need to be able to compare your results from one week to the next and track weights, sets, and reps to see if what you’re doing is improving.

To burn fat over Thanksgiving, I’d recommend training with higher volumes during your workouts. This means you should lift in the 6-15 rep range on average and use weights that are moderately heavy.

If you want to preserve muscle mass and burn fat over Thanksgiving at the same time, then follow these guidelines.

5) Be Consistent With Workouts

Let’s say your current training routine is set up as a 4-day split. If you miss just one of those four sessions, then you’re missing out on 25% of the work you were supposed to do.

Of course, life gets in the way. Things happen. Unexpected events occur. But many times we’ll skip a workout for no good reason. It’s really important to be consistent day-in and day-out.

I’ve talked a lot about consistency in previous articles. There’s a good reason for that. Being consistent is a huge component to your success. Without it, you’ll pretty much be spinning your wheels and wasting your time.

Forget what the internet says about “the best time to workout” or training when you’re in the “fat burning zone.”

To burn fat over Thanksgiving you simply need to be consistent. 

The best time to train depends on YOU. Do it when you can make it a priority for that hour or so. It can be morning, noon or night. Whenever you can get it done is what you should go with.

But, that doesn’t excuse you from missing workouts later in the day because you chose to do something else. To put it pretty cut and dry: if you don’t treat your workouts similar to your job, you’ll get fired pretty quickly. Imagine if you only showed up to work 75% of the time. That wouldn’t be too good.

Get your work in and reap the rewards.

6) Add Some Cardio to Burn Fat Over Thanksgiving

A lot of people are on opposite ends of the spectrum with cardio. They either think they’re the energizer bunny and do insane amounts of cardio or neglect it altogether.

The amount of cardio you do really comes down to what your goals are. If you’re a marathon runner, then you’ll probably be doing a bit more cardio than say a powerlifter.

If you’re the type of person that can just do endless amounts of cardio, keep in mind that cardio is still a stressor to the body. More is not always better. If an overabundance of cardio is hindering your ability to recover then it’s not having the benefits you’re probably thinking it does.

On the other hand, doing absolutely zero cardio is not what I would recommend for most people. My clients who are looking to lose body fat and improve their quality of life do some cardio but not a ton.

If you want to burn fat over Thanksgiving, you can use low intensity, steady-state cardio, or include some metabolic conditioning circuits, like those found in my ‘Metabolic Fat Loss’ manual. 

Burn fat over Thanksgiving

If you want a copy for yourself, to help you burn fat over Thanksgiving, shoot me an email to ryanwoodtraining@gmail.com and I’ll give you the details.

Cardio can have a nice impact on body composition, recovery, general health and well being, and can help you burn fat, too. Some people despise it, while others would only do cardio if that could get them the body they wanted (you need weights too 😉 )

7) Burn Fat Over Thanksgiving by Focusing on Diet ‘Big Rocks’

focus on nutritional priorities to burn fat

fieldservice.com

What’s the number one most important consideration in diet success to burn fat?

If you’ve read any of my other articles then you know the answer.

To burn fat over Thanksgiving, total calories matter above everything else. Calories are more important than food quality, nutrient timing, and fancy supplements put together.

This means you should focus on total calories first before worrying about other less important details. Of course the other stuff matters, just not as much as understanding calorie balance.

In terms of gaining or losing weight, building muscle and boosting strength, the number of calories you consume will always be most important.

Obviously, health is a big concern for many people, as it is for me as well.

What you’ll often find is that when you get your calories going in the right direction, you feel better, look better, and are most likely improving health markers like cholesterol and blood pressure as well.

8) Avoid Mainstream Diet “Fads” to Burn Fat Over Thanksgiving

Gluten Free

I got trapped. Back when the whole “gluten free” craze started, I read tons of different articles and the book “Wheat Belly.” I thought avoiding wheat was the cure to burn fat and get into amazing shape.

Ha, was I wrong. I’ve been wrong a lot, but this is probably one of those things that I look back on and think, “Man, I love bread. Why the heck would I trade that in?”

*Quick note- I’m not debating the fact that some people have Celiac’s Disease. These people have a severe sensitivity to gluten and just can’t have it at all. However, from my latest findings, this is only about 3% of people.

Anyway, why do people lose weight and think they’re getting healthier by eliminating gluten? Well, mostly because a lot of foods with gluten also have tons of other added ingredients and extra calories. So, it’s not the gluten that’s the problem for most people struggling with their weight.

It’s the additional calories in many of the foods containing gluten that do them in.

It all comes back to total calories. Eat all the gluten in the world and you can still lose weight. Just as long as your calories are in line.

Paleo

Another popular word in the last 10 years or so is “Paleo.” A lot of people jumped on the paleo bandwagon. 

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing at all. I’ll tell you what, the main principles of this type of eating make a lot of sense to me. Unfortunately, following a Paleo diet does not necessarily mean you’ll burn fat more than someone who doesn’t follow Paleo. 

On the plus side, you don’t need to avoid carbs, bread, or potatoes to burn fat over Thanksgiving.

Like anything diet related, it seems like the extremes always show up more but what really works is a balance of all nutritional aspects.

With some Paleo circles, it’s a sin to have any processed food, gluten, or sugars etc. I feel like this leads to more patterns of disordered eating than focusing on getting healthier, stronger, and more fit.

While Paleo is a great base diet, it’s simply too strict in food choices to work for the majority of people. Use it as a base, but adjust it accordingly to fit your own personal goals.

Plus I’d still like a beer every now and then 😉

 Burn Fat Over Thanksgiving with My FREE Nutrition Guide Below

Free fat loss manual to burn fat and boost strength

5 Workout Hacks You Need to Try Before the New Year

Get a jump start on your New Years’s goals right now.

No more waiting. No more putting off something you’ve been wanting to do since last year. Now is the time to start.

Even during the holidays, you can and should be able to enjoy yourself while making progress.

In today’s article, I’ve got 5 workout tips to help you beat the bulge, burn fat, and have fun all while getting better fat loss results.

Include Total Body Workouts

Image credit www.snoridgecrossfit.com

Image credit www.snoridgecrossfit.com

There are many ways to design your workout plan.

One of the best ways to structure your training, especially during the busy holiday season, is to include total body workouts for some if not all of your gym sessions.

Total body sessions are a prime choice for the holidays because many people won’t be able to commit 5+ days to the gym to train various body parts or to have an ‘arm day.’

With total body workouts, you can train all the major muscle groups with enough frequency and intensity to continue making progress.

This means you’ll burn more calories and body fat with fewer exercises. Sounds good to me.

When designing your total body split, I’d recommend performing at least 2 compound exercises each session.

Compound in this scenario can include any exercise that involves multiple muscle groups. For example, a leg press isn’t technically considered a compound lift by guru’s definitions, however, it would be a perfectly acceptable exercise because it will involve a good portion of muscles in the legs.

With 3 or so lifting sessions per week on a total body routine, you want to make sure your ‘total body’ workout isn’t simply a mix of leg extensions, triceps pushdowns, DB curls and calf raises. While these are all fine exercises, with the reduced training frequency, it’s best to include lifts that incorporate more muscle activation such as squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench presses, barbell rows, rdl’s and lunges for example.

You can certainly include a little bit more of the ‘pump’ work at the end of your workouts, but you want to make sure you’ve covered the major muscle groups first with a couple of the compound exercises.

Sprinkle in Metabolic Conditioning

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You don’t want Santa to be in better shape than you, right?

I didn’t think so. Although, eating all those cookies and guzzling down milk doesn’t sound too bad to me.

Since the holidays tend to be a busy time of year, getting in quick workouts can be a real game changer. To help save you time while still making progress, losing fat, and feeling good, perform some metabolic conditioning circuits on your days off from the gym.

The best part is, you can even do them at home so you don’t spend time driving to and from the gym just to do a short workout.

Even though these circuits below are short, they’re also highly effective for burning hundreds of calories and packing a ton of intensity into a short time frame.

Here are two circuits you can do at home.

Circuit 1

A1) Bodyweight Squat x 12

A2) Pushup x 12

A3) Alternating Split Squat Jumps x 10/side

A4) Straight Leg Sit-Up x 12

Perform A1-A4 as many times as possible in 10-12 minutes. Feel free to rest as needed but stay moving.

Circuit 2

A1) Bodyweight Reverse Lunge x 10/leg

A2) Inchworms x 6

A3) Eccentric Pushup x 10 (lower 3 seconds)

A4) Reverse Crunch x 10

A5) Mountain Climbers x 10/side

A6) Constant Tension Squats x 15

Complete as many round as you can in 20 minutes.

Both of these circuits will give you quick and effective workouts that will save you time this holiday season. Consider adding them into your holiday routine to help keep the pounds off.

Add Some ‘Fun’ to Your Workouts

Let’s be clear, having fun during your workouts doesn’t mean doing things that are stupid or dangerous. I’m talking about adding a little spice to your training.

How?

By utilizing various intensity techniques like supersets, drop sets, and timed exercises.

Supersets

Supersets can add zest if you’re used to doing straight working sets with your lifting routine.

Some of my favorite supersets include horizontal presses with horizontal pulls. So something like an Incline Bench Press paired with a Barbell Row will pack a mean punch.

For the legs, a pump-inducing superset that I really like is pairing leg presses with walking lunges. Be careful, though, there will be blood filling every nook and cranny of your legs.

You may also have trouble walking once you’re done with them.

Drop Sets

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Another effective, yet simple technique to turn things up a notch in the gym is to utilize drop sets.

A drop set basically means performing a certain number of repetitions, reducing the load, performing more reps, reducing the load and performing more reps.

You can think of it as an extended set where each drop you decrease the weight to continue the set.

Some of my favorite exercises to use drop sets include leg presses, Bulgarian split squats, cable exercises and pin loaded machines etc.

Here’s a quick example of how you’d perform a drop set on the leg press.

Final working set 360lbs x10

Drop 1–270 x10

Drop 2–180 x 15-20

Give that one a shot if you’re up for a challenge.

Timed Sets

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Ever time your rest periods?

I’ve been using this technique a little more lately, especially on shoulder exercises and the results and burn have been fantastic.

I really like using timed rest periods on exercises such as lateral raises but you can really use this method on a variety of exercises.

The next time you are finishing an upper body workout, or any workout really, throw in some timed lateral raises at the end.

Start repping the dumbbells until failure. Rest 15 seconds then go again. Repeat this technique for 4-6 minutes. This will add up to a lot of volume so be sure to pick weights that are light enough to endure the ridiculous pump you’ll soon be feeling.

Try New Exercises

If you’re typically a pretty straightlaced lifter, then consider adding in some variation to your workouts.

You can still train the big lifts but you might want to think about performing a new variation to help keep yourself more engaged during the busy holiday season.

Try some of the traditional lifts with a bit of a twist.

Instead of conventional deadlifts you might do trap bar deadlifts or snatch grip deadlifts.

Or you could do sumo stance Romanian deadlifts in place of normal rdls.

As long as you’re not doing circus tricks in the gym, it’s perfectly ok to stray from the traditional lifts and throw some variety into your routine.

This might be just what you need to spur new motivation and fat loss during the holidays.

Do Your Workouts First Thing

Getting your workouts done first thing in the day can be a huge help for many people.

The holiday season is not only packed with delicious foods and parties, but it also tends to be colder, at least here in the northeast.

Colder weather generally means we feel like moving less. Cuddling up and watch re-runs of Boy Meets World never sounded so good. That is one of my all-time favorite shows so I wouldn’t blame you for going that route.

However, if you’re someone who wants to keep things in check this holiday season finding time after a busy day to workout can be challenging, to say the least.

Get up. Have a cup of coffee (or 12) and a small protein shake or light breakfast, and then hit the gym.

Working out first will do several things.

One, it’ll ensure you don’t skip workouts, which we all know is way too easy to do at the end of a long workday. Distractions, excuses, other commitments. Don’t fall into the trap of missing workouts, just knock em’ out in the earlier part of your day.

And two, it’ll set the tone for the rest of that day. Look at it as something positive and start your day off on the right foot.

Better consistency during the holidays will have more of an impact on your results than you might realize.

Free Holiday Workouts

In addition to these tips, I also wanted to give you a free workout program that’ll be perfect this holiday season. 

To grab a copy of my ‘Advanced Glutes’ program join my exclusive VIP area by plugging in your email below.

Along with the free program, I’ll be sending you my best fat loss tips and tricks and more strategies to help you dominate the holidays from a fat loss perspective.

Build a Better Looking Butt Before New Years

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3 Quick and Easy Uses for the ‘Hated’ Smith Machine

[My new program, Metabolic Fat Loss, is on sale through the end of this week. This program is for you if you:

  • want quick and effective workouts to burn fat so you can eat more of the foods you love without gaining weight
  • want to improve work capacity so you have more energy throughout the day
  • want to boost your metabolism and burn more calories in less time
  • want convenient workouts you can do in under 20 minutes
  • want 28 different workouts to help you get more defined and lose more fat

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If you’re interested, be sure to check out the full deets at the end of this article.]


The smith machine is one of the most hated pieces of equipment in the gym.

And while it’s despised among elite coaches and trainers, the smith machine is a phenomenal tool and can certainly be used to build muscle, burn fat, and improve strength.

Like most things, the effectiveness comes down to how it’s applied. 

Below, I’m going to show you 3 exercises using the smith machine that’ll help you strengthen and define your glutes, chest, and back, while burning calories and fat along the way.

Quick confession…

When I first got into ‘serious’ lifting, I thought the smith machine was the stupidest piece of equipment ever made.

Boy was I narrow-minded and wrong.

You see, when I first started out, all I thought about was squatting, benching, and deadlifting–and only using a regular barbell for these exercises.

The thought of using the ‘coat rack’ smith machine was unheard of. Fast forward to now and my thoughts on the despised smith have changed.

For the better, too, I believe. Here’s why I’m a fan of using the smith machine:

-There are hundreds of exercises you can perform with it. From the traditional exercises like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, to things like assisted pullups, upright rows, lunge variations etc.

-It can be modified to suit the ability and experience level of the person using it. Let’s get one thing straight, the smith machine is not a wimpy piece of equipment. Sure, you could put the squat pad on the bar and do 1/4 rep squats, but if used properly the smith machine can deliver some serious results.

-You can find them everywhere–Some gyms won’t have a standard barbell so using the smith machine is a great option, especially while traveling

-It’s easy to load and adjust between exercises

-It’s great for targeting specific muscle groups–one of the biggest complaints about the smith machine is that because the bar is fixed the machine doesn’t challenge a person’s ability to stabilize and use their core effectively. This may be true, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t great for hammering away smooth reps to work specific muscles.

-It’s safe if used properly–there are safety catches on most smith machines that will prevent the bar from going all the way down if you’re performing bench presses or squats for example.

The fact is, the smith machine is one of the better ‘tools’ we have in the gym. While I’m not telling you to completely get rid of traditional barbell exercises, the smith machine can be very useful for hypertrophy work during fat loss and muscle building phases.

Below are 3 useful and effective exercises you can do with the smith machine.

Pushup

Let’s face it, the pushup is a staple in many training programs, yet it’s one of the most difficult to execute properly.

“Squeeze this, squeeze that, tuck your chin, tuck your elbows at this angle.” 

For the beginner, all of these cues can become very overwhelming and tough to think about. One of the first things I like for my clients to do is perform pushups from an elevated surface such as the smith machine.

This is a great variation because it allows the client to get good quality reps to build strength while feeling confident about the work being done. If the reps are sloppy from the ground, they can easily be cleaned up by elevating the hands.

Then, as you get stronger you can lower the height of the bar to make the exercise more difficult.

While most would see the elevated pushup as a beginner exercise, it can also be used by more advanced gym-goers. For an extra challenge, use this variation at the end of a push workout as part of a finisher. You could widen the hands out and lower yourself with a 5 count, or you do a burnout set of max rep pushups.

Here’s a video demo of the smith machine pushup:

A couple technique pointers regardless of ability level:

-set up with your hands underneath your shoulders (basically in line with your arm pit)

-keep legs straight and treat these just as normal pushups

-squeeze your abs and butt the entire time and ‘lead’ with your chest, not your hips. You don’t want to sag in the low back.

-use a full range of motion, aiming to touch your chest lightly to the bar on every rep

-allow your shoulder blades to come together as you lower, and pull back apart as you press yourself up

Inverted Row

One of my favorite variations is the inverted row. The neat thing about the inverted row is that it’s really easy to adjust the intensity of the exercise.

Too easy? Lower the bar and get your body closer to the ground.

Too hard? Raise the bar up and position yourself at a greater incline.

Rowing movements are a foundational component of any solid program. While there are tons of exercises you could do, the inverted row requires zero set-up and can be used to build strength and muscle while being easily modified.

Here’s a quick demo of proper technique:

Quick tips:

-I like to get my grip first and then walk my feet down into position instead of getting down on the ground and trying to find the right position

-set up is pretty similar to doing a reverse pushup.

-hands should be in line with shoulders and your body in a straight line (you can bend your knees if you need to make the exercise a little easier, or just want to only use your back to pull you up)

-initiate by squeezing your shoulder blades together and pulling through the elbows

-don’t necessarily worry about getting your chest all the way to the bar here, just aim to squeeze your shoulder blades together while staying neutral in your core and ribcage

 Hip Thrust

The regular barbell hip thrust is a great exercise, but not everyone has access to the equipment needed. Instead, you can get the same benefits by using the smith machine.

To be honest, I like the smith machine version better because it’s easier to set up and works wonders for the glutes.

If you want to target your hamstrings and glutes effective, definitely try your hip thrusts with the smith machine.

Be sure to use a bar pad to protect the hips while you’re doing these.

Here’s a video of me knocking out a few reps:

A few things to keep in mind while doing these:

-I found it easier to set up if the bar was close to the lockout position rather than the bottom.

-Push through your heels and flex your butt hard as you come up

-don’t use too much weight where you aren’t able to lock your hips out fully

-keep stomach tight and only use your butt and legs to lift the weight–not your lower body. You’ll know if you’re using your low back or not.

 Try them for yourself

Look, I know so and so says the smith machine is stupid, useless, and for wimps.

But in all actuality, it can be a very useful tool and can help uncover a lot of hidden progress.

Don’t fall into the narrow-minded trap of shunning the smith machine just people because some people don’t like it.

It can be a great tool for losing fat.

Try them for yourself and give the smith machine a fair shot.

[PS Read the info below about Metabolic Fat Loss]

I recently created Metabolic Fat Loss to help you lose body fat, especially before the holidays roll around. A lot of people worry and stress about holiday weight gain. And that sucks because the holidays are filled with delicious foods, family gatherings, and good times.

-To help you enjoy yourself without the extra worry and guilt, you can use the workouts in Metabolic Fat Loss to burn calories and prevent extra weight gain.

-I’ve compiled 28 of my all-time favorite circuits into a pretty little PDF that you can open anywhere you go.

-They’re perfect as standalone workouts or can be used as finishers after a lifting session to help you burn loads of calories and prevent your waist from getting bigger this holiday season.

For the rest of this week only, Metabolic Fat Loss is on sale for $14.99 (if you’re an email subscriber). If you’d like to grab it but don’t want to join my email list you can buy it for $29.99. I’d recommend subscribing at the very least to get the discount on the program and, if you don’t want my emails you’ll still save money on the program.

Plug in your info below to get the program for $14.99, plus I’ll also send you a free copy of my ’10 Commandments of Fat Loss’ nutrition guide. Even if you don’t want continuous emails from me, take advantage of the ‘subscriber’s only’ price thru Sunday at midnight. (Shoot me a quick email at ryanwoodtraining@gmail.com to let me know you want it.)

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