Friday, March 30, 2007

Making Increases when dieting AND a little video of inspiration

A question from yesterday:

1) This brings me back to my original question then, how to keep progressing when one is on a calorie deficiency? Put another way, won't it be difficult, if not downright impossible to progress when trying to cut body fat?

Sorry, I missed this two days ago. Yes, it can be hard to maintain strength while dieting down. If you start losing strength right away chances are you have dropped to many calories to quickly. That said, strength is neurological. If you have a solid program set up and your diet is properly planned, you should be fine as far as strength goes. When I used to diet, I would typically not lose much strength at all. What I would lose was some reps off of the weight I was handling since I had less energy. For example, if I could bench 255 for 10, after maybe 8 weeks of dieting I would get it for 8 reps. But, looking back i think I could have planned my program even better to avoid even that strength loss. You have to learn to manage your training volume and intensity when you are dieting. Some periods of low volume/high intensity work will serve you well while dieting, when mixed in with periods of slightly higher volume, more metabolic type work. Learn to set up your program in a way that has you lifting heavy after days when you intake higher amounts of calories, so that you can take advantage of the extra energy.

What is your excuse?

I have talked about it a lot. People have tons of excuses why they can't diet, why they don't have time to train, blah blah blah......Watch this video and let me know if you still have any excuses. This guy seems to have every opportunity to throw in the towel. He seems to have a perfect excuse to not do anything physical. But he doesn't. Instead, he works his butt off and is rewarded amazingly for it. If you make excuses for your poor health, you should be ashamed of yourself after watching this young man.

Just amazing!


Thursday, March 29, 2007

More questions on yesterdays entry....

Looks like I sparkes some curiosity in the readers, so I will address a few questions from yesterday.

1) I just read your latest blog and I have a question about adding weight to the bar as a way of progessing. What about moving the same weight but with shorter rest intervals wouldn't that be a way to progress too or adding more reps with the same weight you never mentioned those things. Also, what about more advanced techniques like working with longer or shorter tempos and pauses (like pause squats).

This is a great question about progression. Yes, I did say that you should be putting more weight on the bar each time. The main thing I should have said was that you should be increasing tension. Putting weight on the bar is just the main ting that people think about when they think about improving in the weight room.

Our bodies respond and adapt to tension and stresses that we place on them. There are a few ways we can progress our training besides just adding more weight to the bar (although that is the ultimate goal. To get stronger and lift heavier). Lets look at a few variables that we can alter to increase tension and force an adaptation:

Rest interval
- I like to use decreasing rest intervals. For example, in week 1, lets say you bench press 250lbs for 3 sets x 8 reps with 90sec of rest. In week two, maybe you attempt to do the same 250lbs for 3x8 with only 75sec rest. This would increase the training density. Meaning that you are doing the same amount of work in a shorter period of time.

Rep tempo- Time under tension (TUT) is a very popular term when talking about hypertrophy specific training. I believe that isometric work and eccentric work also have their place in athletic/sports specific training as well. Lets say we take that 250lbs for 3x8 and week 1 we do a 3/2/1/1 tmepo. That is a 3 second eccentric, a 2 second isometric on our chest, one second to press and one second isometric at the top before starting the next rep. That is a 7sec repetition and a 56sec set (7sec x 8 reps). We can increase this tension increasing the amount of time it takes us to lower the weight. Say 5/2/1/1. Now we have a 9sec repetition and a 72sec repetition. There are a lot of ways to play with rep tempo.

Adding a set
- we can increase the training volume by adding a set. maybe week 1 we do 250/3x8 and week 2 we go for 250/4x8.

Adding a rep- We can add a rep to each set and increase the amount of work we are doing that way. One week we do 250/3x8 and the next week we do 250/3x9.

Try and play around with some of those examples to increase the tension without having to add more weight onto the bar (ofcourse at some point you are going to want to though).

2) When trying to loose body fat, I’m under the impression that we should cut our calorie intake slightly. So, my question is how to keep improving when we are down on calories? Unless of course by this you mean I calculate my LBM every two weeks or so and adjust my calorie intake. Eg: Week one I eat 2500 kcal per day and do my exercises, then two weeks later I eat say 2700 kcal a day to make up for my increased LBM gained in the first two weeks; all the while maintaining a calorie deficiency but at the same time gradually increasing my calorie intake to make up for my increased LBM, thus having the energy in order to have improvement like you say above.
I think I just answered my own question, LOL, but what do you think? Am I remotely right?

When trying to lose body fat, we should cut our calories sligthly, you are correct. You want to start slow and (a) leave yourself somewhere to go and (b) prevent from dropping to fast and throwing yourself into a metabolic hell and losing a ton of muscle mass. I don't understand your example at all. Why would you add 200 calories to your diet? Unless you are using anabolics, you are not going to be putting on muscle mass while in a caloric defecit (unless you are a rank beginner or very very obese and have a ton of fat to lose). If you aren't taking in sufficient calories to sustain tissue repair, then you can not grow. If you start by taking your calories down to 2700, you will do that for a couple of weeks, until you start to hit a wall and then you will lower them a little lower (maybe to 2500) or perhaps look towards adding in more activity/exercise (depending on what you are doing for your training and how you have it all set up).


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Myth, Myth, Myth and a question on my cardiovascular output

Two questions from yesterday to answer.

1) So, its better to add more cardio and less weight training to my workouts then right? And also, I just have to keep using roughly the same weights and not focus on making too much progress right? Just need to maintain my current muscles. I should focus more on keeping the fats down.I'm currently about 19~20% bf. Thanks for the input.

Myth, Myth, Myth......

Myth number 1- I don't think it is better to emphasize your cardio over your weight training when trying to drop body fat. You need to strength train to help maintain muscle mass, use it or lose it, as well as to help keep your metabolism up. Cardio is a tool in the toolbox when you are trying to lose fat. I like to do interval work because I hate the long/slow stuff. Although, I have done some of it at times. I don't think it is awful as it can be beneficial sometimes as a "recovery" workout when you are totally beat (which happens at times when you are trying to train hard and are in a caloric deficit.

Myth number 2 up there is keeping the weights the same workout to workout. If you aren't putting more weight on the bar, you aren't making improvement! If you aren't making improvement you aren't giving your body any reason to adapt and grow stronger or increase work capacity or burn more calories. Always strive for progress. If you aren't progressing, then you are standing still or worse regressing and neither of those two scenarios are good or beneficial.

Myth number 3- Don't keep your fats down. Fats have many beneficial properties when it comes to dieting and even overal health. They help to delay digestion (gastric emptying) of our meal, they are needed to support cell structures, they are building blocks of hormones, etc....If you are looking to diet down, first find out your protein requirements for the day. I usually recommed somewhere between 1.2-1.5g per lb of lean body weight. After you figure out your protein requirements, figure out how many calories you need to start losing weight. From there, set up your other macronutrients (carbs and fats) and make sure that along with that protein, you make it a priority to get in quality essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acides (like fish oil).

2) You train like a athlete, using HIIT for your cardio with that being said you think you could knock out 3 miles run without training for it or would you need to focus on it for a few weeks?

My cardio is not always high intensity interval training (HIIT). Sometimes I will do longer bouts of cardio with longer duration intervals (1:2 work to rest ratio) like 20min. of 1min. fast followed by 2min. slow on the stairmill.

To answer your question, can I run 3 miles.....Yes, I am sure I can go out and run 3 miles if I wanted to. Chances are I would never want to though. I am not a big fan of distance running. But, I could do 3 miles if I had too. Could I do it in under 20min? Probably not. Could I do it in under 30min. Probably. The problem I have with distance running is that my mechanics are always going to hold me back. I waste a lot of energy. Distance running was never really my thing. I like to sprint short distances and I can keep my form a lot better. But as soon as I start to jog, the mechanics change and things go down hill fast. Also, I am terrible at pacing myself out on runs like that. I always start out way to fast and can't maintain the pace for a great amount of time. I pretty much just try and sprint everything. So, yes I can run it, but I can not run it as fast as someone who trains to run that distance consistantly. Just like they could run a 50yrd dash, but probably not as fast as I could. ;)


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A statement about yesterdays entry and a new question

From a reader:

The problem with trying to give health advice to people who don't care much for it is that we'll be seen as someone who is annoying and just can't shut up about eating healthy...

BTW, on a side note, which do you think is better:

Cutting body fat until about 10~15 then bulking up and packing muscle


Using the zig zag method and loosing a little body fat, then pack muscle then loose body fat again... repeating this until the final goal is achived.

For the first part of your question....yes, you will be thought of as annoying if you are trying to give advice to people who aren't interested in hearing it. Put the information out there. People who have a little interest will respond and then the door will be open for you to educate them.

For the second part of your question.....I get this question a lot. I say, why not just get down to a healthy BF% that you can maintain year round and then not have to worry about putting the added stress on your body of gaining weight and then losing it. The goal is optimal health. If you get to a comfortable BF% that you are happy with, then you can just play around and slowly add calories and gain some weight and the lower calories and drop some fat and "zig-zag" your way up and down. I don't like the traditional bulk and cut phases because they have to much to do with gaining huge amounts of weight and then losing huge amounts of weight, which is neither good nor healthy. hope that helps.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Friends don't let friends get unhealthy

Got some great feedback from last nights entry. I really appreciate everyone who has kind words to say about my blog.

Here is what one reader had to say:

Sounds good, but I find it rarely helps. If people aren't willing to get themselves in gear, then there is no way another one can.

I've given alot of people info but 90% don't listen and just stay on the path they are on...doing the same thing they have for years expecting different results. Pretty sad. But people really need to get themselves motivated and educated, other people can't do that for them. However, if they have that internal will to go for it and have someone like say you or I to help then it will be alot easier. But bottom line is I have found is that those people need that internal motivation or there is no hope, even when severe health problems are on the line.

I have one friend who I had given tons of time into helping him and for the most part he ignores the helpful info and does his own thing. He uses bits and pieces of what I tell him. He has lost weight, 9 lbs in 6 months. Progress is progress but he could be leaps and bounds ahead of where he wants to be right now. This experience is just imprinting the idea deeper in his mind that losing weight is a long and meticulous process. If people would just educate themselves and give a shit about what they put into their body they could be progressing so much more and they would have a very different perspective on what dieting really is.

You are right! People have to be willing to help themselves. But sometimes, the influence of someone who cares can really make a difference. Even if that difference is small, it helps to get them on the path. For example, I have a client who is very obese (300+lbs). He has really slacked on his exercise program for the past month. Missing workouts, not showing up to do his cardio. When he does show up, an hour workout might last 20 minutes because he is that deconditioned. He missed all last week because he is so busy with his company. Today I emailed him and basically said I was concerned that his goals were slipping away from him and that I was concerned for his health. I told him he needs to take this stuff more seriously and that I know he is busy BUT his health is more important than his money and he needs to make time. He emailed me back "I will see you tues, wed and thurs. this week. thanks"

Just enough to help him along. Just enough to remind him how important this really is.

I know what you are saying about your friends and trying to give them advice. This was one of the hardest things I struggled with when I started in this industry. I felt like because it was so easy for me to make time to train and to eat healthy I figured everyone should just understand it and just do it! People would come in and talk about their diet and I would try and change everything. I would throw the book at them. The thing is, you need to be subtle with the information you give to people. They can't handle to much change all at once. They have so many bad habits that have been ingrained for years. You need to give them a little info and let them assimilate it before moving on. You might start with something as easy as.....lets try to have a salad everyday at lunch and walk around the block two times a week. After a few weeks of that, a salad gets added at dinner and you might add 3 walks a week or start a 2x a week resistance training program. Your goals are not their goals and you have to be sensitive to the fact that they have a real problem and you are trying to help them change their entire way of life. If you try and change it to fast, you will be met with resistance. If you go slow with things and show them the importance at every little step, you are going to be a hero.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Fat at the supermarket

I went into the supermarket today to purchase some food for this coming week. I am pretty much a creature of habit....I buy the same things everytime. Today, I was walking around and noticed two things:

1) The items on sale were the worst crap you could possibly purchase.


2) The fattest people in the store were purchasing the sales items....and lots of them!

I don't get how people can just let themselves go? I saw an obese couple. I mean they were really big! Their cart was full of 3 or the large size bags of potato chips (luckily they were on sale!), soda and sugary cereal. No fruits, no vegetables, no lean proteins or whole grains. What gives? Do these people not own a mirror? Do they not look at themselves and say "wow, I really let myself get out of control. I need to do something about this"????!?!?!?

I often wonder about those people. I wonder at what point in their lives they stopped caring? I mean, it isn't like you just stop caring and you become 100lbs over fat and obese. This takes years of heard work! It is like you go through a year of not doing any exercise and overeating and you put on some weight. At the end of that year, instead of saying "okay, I need to stop this NOW!"...........YOU JUST KEEP ON GOING!! Next year it is more weight and the year after that more weight and less activity. These people actually worked to get like this! The worst part is that if they ever want to get healthy, they are going to have to work twice as hard. Work twice as hard to do their exercise. Work twice as hard to change their eating and dietary habits.

If you are reading this, or know someone who in this position, then get up out of your chair and get that person on the right path. Don't start monday or next week. Start NOW! Start TODAY! The quicker you get started, the closer towards your goal you will be.

I always tell people when I start training them "it is better to start exercising now and eating healthy now, when you aren't that overweight and out of shape. the last thing you want to do is have to totally change your diet and force yourself to go to the gym because you doctor tells you it is a life or death situation and your health depends on it. that scenario is never fun. it isn't fun for you and it isn't fun for me, because you are going to be miserable."

be healthy!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Let yourself develop!

People are so impatient. They want everything now. I get emails daily from people asking me to look at their program and let them know if it will make them stroger. Usually the program is something which is thrown together, with very little direction or progression and is set up to pretty much max the person out every week.

People need to be patient with their gains and let themselves develop. Don't worry about rushing into things. You have your entire life to get strong, get big, etc. Take your time and allow your body to properly adapt.

This is a problem I face when working with youth athletes as well. You get parents that want their kids to be professional athletes, and end up just running their kids into the ground. One kid I work with came in on wednesday with a sore back. He walks in and he father says "he has a bit of a sore back". I immediatly think that maybe it was something I did on monday? I wanted to look at the program and my progressions and see if I pushed him a little to much. However, his father then goes on to say "I think he hurt it pitching yesterday." I said, "Oh, you were pitching at practice?" The kid said "yea, after awhile I felt my back really tighten up." I said "okay, how much throwing did you do?" His father then says "Well, we have a game on thursday. So to get him in the game mode, we had him throw 100 pitches yesterday." I said "100 PITCHES!" his father replied "yea, that is pretty much a full game. we really wanted to get him ready for thursday though." I said "how often do you throw that many pitches? What is your stamina like." The kid says "that was my first time pitching that much." I was amazed! Oh by the way.....the kid is 14 years old. We barely did anything during the session....stretching, loosening up, and some light movement and then I iced him up real good. I had to sit down with the father and just tell him "look. he is 14. he needs to develop. he isn't even in high school and playing high school ball yet! If you have him throwing this much through the season and year round, he is never going to make it to high school ball!"

People just don't get it. They want everything now. A cool quote I read the other day was from an article about Adam Archuleta's (NFL) training to prepare him for college ball and then the NFL combine, where he pretty much brought down the house. The quote was from Archuleta about his trainer (Jay Schroeder) who had trained him since he was 16 or 17. He said:

"Jay told me right away that he's not trying to make me Superman in my senior year of high school," Archuleta said. "He said, 'This is my goal, this is my vision for you, and it's all going to really start happening when you're 23, 24 years old."

I thought that was pretty cool.

I think we can learn a lot from other countries who begin training their athletes starting at a young age and allow them the time to really develop over years and years into the champions they finally become.

Whether your goal is strength, muscle mass or athletic performance, Take your time! Plan out your training and let your body progress naturally. Don't try to rush into things.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A question from a few entries ago

Sorry I missed this one. I just noticed it. This was a question in response to the entry I made about training phases:

How would your exercises differ from each phase (endurance to hypertrophy to strength to power/peaking)?

Great question! I don't change the exercises around as much as you would think between the phases. Typically, I have a few "core" lifts that I like to center the training around, things like squatting and deadlifting in the lower body and bench pressing/overhead pressing and pullups/rowing movements in the upper body. I will stay with an exercise for awhile and mix up variables first. For example, we might do back squats for the first 2 phases and then move to front squats for the last 2 phases. I may have someone perform pullups in one phase and then chin ups in another (basically just changing the grip). I have kept exercises through the entire program before. For example I may have someone squat through a 10 or 12 week training cycle, but we would be changing variables around like number of reps/intensity, rest interval, rep tempo (ephasizing eccentrics or isometrics), etc. We may take the bar off our back once every three weeks and perform a little unload and give ourselves a break before jumping back into squats. Or we might just back off intensity and volume and unload the weight on the bar. In the power/pearking phase, we will be doing more high veloicty things like box jumps (or depth jumps) and squat less (or not at all if we are using olympic lifts like the clean and jerk) for those 2-3 weeks of training.

Hope that helps answer your question.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Got Dumbells?

First, I want to apologize to me readers for my entries being scattered over 2-3 days. I really want to blog every night, but I am so busy right now that it just isn't possible. I appreciate you guys hanging in and checking up on the blog though. Thanks!

Okay, last entry was about saving time and training at home using some basic body weight exercises. Today, we are going to talk about some things you can do with a pair of dumbells. These are what I call hybrid exercises because they incorporate a couple of different movements, and really get the entire body involved. These exercises are pretty metabolic and will get your heart rate beating. Also, they can be a real time saver as they take care of a lot of movements all at once. I like to occasionally use them with clients as either part of a warm up or at the end of a workout as part of a "finisher circuit". Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Squat and press- Hold the Dumbells (DBs) at shoulder level. Squat down and press as you come up. If you want, you can hold the DBs at your side and squat down, curl them to shoulder level on the way up, squat back down and then press on the way up (Squat curl squat press) and that is one rep.

2) lunge curl and press- For this one, we usually do walking lunges (but they don't have to be. They can be backwards lunges, lateral lunges, or even split squats if you want some variety). You are doing to lunge out, curl in the bottom position, stand up, feet together and then press. If you want to make it more advanced, curl the DBs in the bottom and as you stand up bring the back leg all the way up into flexion (parallel with the floor) and press on one leg.

3) walking 1-leg RDL with curl and press- again, this doesn't have to be walking, but I really like it like that. Perform a 1-leg RDL, at the top, curl and press and then step forward with the opposite leg and perform another 1-leg RDL. Some variations may be to again bring that back leg up into flexion OR to perform the exercise walking backwards.

4) Push up Row combo- For this one, you are going to perform the push with your hands on the Dbs. At the top, you are going to row with one arm, perform another push up and then row with the other. if it is difficult, move your feet a little further apart to give yourself a larger base of support.

5) 1-legged RDl to DB row- again, like the walking 1-legged RDl to press, except this time, we are going to pause in the bottom position (When out chest is parallel with the floor) and we are going to do a single leg bent over row. Come back up to the top and switch legs.

If you have a couple of DBs at home, try throwing these hybrid exercises into your program for variety. Use them as a stand alone exercise or part of the circuit that we discussed yesterday. As always, be sure to play with different variables like rep tempo and rest interval to create more difficulty.

Have fun!


Saturday, March 17, 2007

"I just don't have time to make it to workout"

A common complaint among people today is that they just don't have time to make it to the gym. I understand that we live in a busy and hectic world. Honestly, I don't have time either. The only difference from me and other people is that I MAKE TIME. I just say, "that's it. this is what I have to do", and I go and get it done. I know that most people aren't as "gung-ho" as myself, so what are they to do?

Well, the first thing I am going to tell you is that you need to stop making excuses that you can't get to the gym and therefore you can't exercise. Without any equiptment at all, you can have a great workout, right in your own living room. All you need is a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, a bottle of water and a clock so that you can time your rest intervals.

All we are going to do is set up a little circuit of work followed by some rest and then repeat. For the circuit, we are going to rely on a combination of body weight exercises such as:

Lunges (or split squats)
push ups
body weight squats
step ups (onto a chair or a step)
reverse crunches
bird dogs
1-legged deadlifts (using your body weight)

And some good old calisthenics, like:

jumping jacks
squat thrusts (aka burpees)
jump rope
mountain climbers

What we are going to do is pick 3 of the body weight exercises and 1 of the calisthenic exercises and arrange them in a circuit fashion with some rest in between them, like so:

1a) body weight squat- 30 reps
rest= 45sec
1b) push up- 30 reps
1c) reverse crunches- 30 reps
rest= 45sec
1d) jumping jacks- 2min. of as many as you can do
rest= 45 set

repeat the circuit 5x's

If the exercises are to easy for you, you can alter variables, such as:

rep tempo- For example, try performing the push up with a 5 count hold in the bottom position, before pressing up

unilateral- for example, try performing the squat on one leg

rest interval- try lowering the rest interval as the weeks progress. Maybe ever try to work through the circuit with no rest until you get to the end.

The possibilities are really endless with this stuff. You can get as creative as you want.

I know that some people have dumbells lying around at home. In the next entry, I will explore some ways to put those Dumbells to use if you don't have time to make it to the gym.

No more excuses!


PS, I know that most of my readers are real serious about their training, so this entry may seem dull or elementary to you. However, if you know of anyone (family member, friend, or co-worker) who makes these excuses and would benefit from this advice (as a way to get them into a healthy lifestyle and regualr exercise), please feel free to pass it on.....Spread the word!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fruit and Veggies

I read an interesting quote while doing some research for my supermarket tour:

"1/3 of all the vegetables consumed in this country come from just three sources: potato chips, french fries, and iceberg lettuce" -Marion Nestle, "What to Eat"

I find that amazing! I was thinking about whether it was the fact that people just don't eat vegetables or the fact that people think that those actually count AS vegetables?

Look at your meals this past week. Did you eat enough fruits and vegetables? I try and eat a fruit and/or a vegetable at every meal. While some people discriminate against certain fruits, like oranges (saying they have to much sugar), I do not. I think however, that you have to know what a serving size for the fruit you are eating.

Make sure to get your vegetables in everyday. Your body needs those nutrients.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Questions from yesterday

Care to explain the difference between the strength phase and the power/peaking phase?

generally, the strength phase is all about lifting heavy and recruiting maximum amounts of motor units. In the power/peaking phase, you are actually going to work on moving a lighter weight faster. So, for example, 60% of your 1 repetition max, lifting it as fast as you possibly can. Power= work/time. You want to move as quickly as possible and display optimal power. Things like olympic lifts or plyometrics can be very effective for this. The phases are really dependant on your goals. I think everyone should do a little bit of power work (I like medicine ball stuff). I don't push people to limit strength though in the strength phase (unless they are training for a powerlifting or olympic lifting meet). Typically, the highest intensity I will go up to with a general population client is a 5RM. With athletes we will work up to triples and occasionally a 1RM (but that is rare).

This next question is a noob question but please answer anyway, when moving from one phase to another, a typical increase in weights used would be about 5 ~ 10 pounds maybe? Am I right?

It will be a little more than that. If we took those rep zones and applied some weihgt to it using percentages, it would be a little more than 10lbs (roughly). For example:

If we have a bench press of 200lbs. My 12 rep maximum (RM) with that wieght would be
140lbs (70% of 200). My 8RM would be 160lbs (80% of 200). So that is about a 15-20lbs difference between phases. It is going to be individual for everyone though.

I'm taking a 2 week break from the gym due to that nagging pain in my shoulder, hopefully I can learn something useful in the meantime to apply at the gym.

Nagging pains suck. While you are taking a break and icing your shoulder, be sure to review your program over the past 6-8 weeks and see if you had some errors which are causing that pain. Whenever I get pains or my clients get pains, I look at the program and evaluate it and figure what I may have done (or not done) to cause that pain. Then fix the problem. Good luck.


Monday, March 12, 2007

training variables....

I was asked the other day, by someone who reads my blog, if I could talk a little bit about training variables.

In the first or second post last month, I talked a little bit about an easy way to select exercises and keep things simple with your training routine. People tend to really over complicate things.

Training variables are the same way. I see questions every day:

"Should I do westside?"

"Should I do 5x5?"

"Is 6x4 better than 4x6?"

"what about (insert trendy "guru's name here) workout? Is that any good?"

A) If you are asking the question about what you SHOULD do, you probably aren't that advanced anyway, so don't worry about it.


B) What you do is going to depend a lot on your goals and what you want to acomplish.

I think keeping things simple is the best way to go. I am a simple guy. I like simple. Most people have never had any sort of structured training program anyway. Honestly, I can get pretty good results using linear periodization with trainees. The funny part is that most of them have never even done something as basic as linear periodization, yet they want to argue with me and say things like "well, my power qualities will be lost when I am in the hypertrophy phase and vice versa." Don't worry hot shot. You don't have much power to lose anyway.

I figure we can explore some basic periodization for general people over the next few entries, maybe we will get some questions along the way, and maybe I will actually say something worthwhile that people can use. Let start with the basics, linear periodization.

For those that don't know what the term linear periodization means, all it is saying is that your intensity (the amount of weight you are lifting in relation to your one rep, the heavier the weight is getting) will increase over a certain amount of weeks, while your volume (sets x reps) will decrease. Basically, when the weight is light, we can do more reps and when the weight is heavy we can't.

Here is an example:

week 1-3 (endurance)- 3-4 sets x 12-15 repetitions
week 4-6 (hypertrophy)- 3-4 sets x 8-10 repetition
week 7-9 (strength)- 3-4 sets x 4-6 reps
week 8-9 (power/peaking)- 4-6 sets x 1-3 reps

That should not be to hard for people to follow. I gave set and rep zones to allow people room for improvement over the 3 week period. Also, typically coaches will asign percentages of one repetition maximum to programs. I don't like that for a few reasons. One, if the person comes in and is having a bad day or tired, then trying to hit a certain percentage may be totally out of the question. Second, if you are supposed to hit a certain percentage for a given set and rep scheme (lets say 80%/3 sets x 77%) and you don't. What do you do the next week when the percentage increases? Your whole program is going to be off. The set and rep zone allows the person to feel it out a little more and see what they can do that day.

As I said before, most people have never even done a basic structure like this before, so they will see great improvements simply by arranging their training in a more thought out way.

This is something to consider for those out there unsure of where to go with their program.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Review of the diet research

As promissed, here is my little review of the reseach which has been all over the news regarding the Atkins diet and how it stacked up to three other diets in testing. If you need to look at the news article, I posted it in my last blog entry which was made 2 or 3 days ago.

Gardner CD et. al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2007 Mar 7;297(9):969-77.

Like I mentioned in my previous entry, I had a lot of questions about this study and how it was conducted. I had these questions for 2 reasons:

a) I am incredibly anal and I want to see things with my own eyes before I make a conclusion.


b) The media usually does a piss poor job of interpreting research and informing the public.

So, with a critical eye, I read through the study.

First the facts:

The study set out to compare four different diets. The Atkins diet (a low carbohydrate diet), The Zone Diet (a diet which consists of 40% carb, 30% protein and 30% fat), the Learn Diet (short for Lifestyle, exercise, attitudes, relationships and nutrition. Basically a low fat diet which is centered around national nutrition, the food pyramid) and the Ornish diet (which is a very low fat/high carb diet).

The subjects were pre-menopausal women, aged 25-50, with body mass indexes of 27-40 (so basically they ranged from being overweight to obese). There were various factors which excluded certian women from the study (which I wont go into).

The study lasted for 12 months, with data being collected at months 2, 6 and 12. So start, half way and finish. The women were given books and classes, led by a registered dietician, one hour per week for 8 weeks on how to manage their particular diet.

The participants were to self report their food intake and physical activity. Subjects were tested in weight loss, body fat, blood pressure and blood samples looking at cholesterol and blood glucose.

The results were this:

Aktins- 4.7kg (10.34lbs)
LEARN- 2.6kg (5.72lbs)
Ornish- 2.2kg (4.84lbs)
Zone- 1.6kg (3.52lbs)

Whoop-dee-do!! The best they could do was 10lbs in one year? Would anyone be excited about that kind of weight loss? Maybe 10lbs in 10 weeks, right? Come on! Also, if anyone has done a low carbohydrate or keto-genic diet, you certaily know that it is very easy to lose 5-8lbs of weight (water) in the first 5 days. Does that make these results very significant? Not in my opinion!

Lets look at the last couple of sentences in the results section:

"The pattern of changes in body mass index, percentage of body fat, and waist-hip ratio among groups parallel the changes in weight, although the between-group differences at 12-months did not achieve statistical significance for percentage of body fat or waist to hip ratio."

hmm...The changes in body fat percentage weren't significant. I wonder what their activity levels looked like? Did these people train? Maybe if they had a set exercise program over the 12-month period the results would have been different. Would the Aktins group have lost more weight, given that they were intaking less carbohydrate and possibly not able to exercise at a higher work rate than say the Zone group? Who knows. Maybe in another study they will look at this.

Also, as with many studies relying on self-reporting things tend to go out the window. People are very bad at reporting both their caloric intake and energy expenditure and typically over-estimate what the expend and under-estimate what they take in. They study says that over the 12 month period the participants were lowering their calories (everyone was supposed to be intaking the same amount of calories), but the groups started to gain back weight?? Are we really to believe that those people were properly estimating their intake/expenditure given a statment like that? If you are continually taking in less, should you not be losing more? They just started to gain weight back? That doesn't make much sense, does it?

I don't feel that this study shows us very much. I still contend that a well-balanced diet with proper exercise prescription will leave you with the best results. The Atkins diet may be satisfying to people because of the water lossed so quickly (it gives them a sense of accomplishment), which is great! However, once the novelty wears off, can you really stick with that type of diet for an extended period of time? The whole goal is to never have to diet, rather to live healthy. Eating the atkins diet doesn't teach you much in the way of how to eat and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Also, as I stated previously, if you are going to engage in any type of vigorous exercise, the lack of carbohydrates is really going to leave you in a rut after awhile.

Just find a healthy balance!


Thursday, March 8, 2007

A study on different diets

I don't know if anybody has seen this article floating around in the news.

I am itching to read the entire study. After hearing about the study, I had to hunt it down. It is sitting on my desk just waiting to be read but I wont have time to get to it until this weekend. The one thing I really don't like about it is that it is a study over an entire year based on self reporting from the subjects. Self reporting seems to never pan out as people lie about their intake. I need to look deeper into the study though.

Once sentence from the news artcile that sticks out is that "the dieters were all starting to gain back weight that they had lost towards the end of the study." I wonder if it had anything to do with being in a caloric deficit for 12 straight months??

Also, the atkins diet showed the greatest weight loss at 10lbs over a 12 month period?!?!?! THAT SUCKS! I wonder if the people were exercising or what their activity level was? I also want to look at what percentage of carbohydrate the atkins diet was set at for the entire year. Was it low enough? How did they ensure that the subjects were getting into ketosis?

Lots of questions about this one. Can't wait to sit down and read through it. Hope everyone enjoys the news article.


My head just exploded!

Okay, missed a few days of blogging since I was away all weekend and have had a lot of catching up to do on things this week. We are back in the saddle again however.

My head exploded while reading this news artcile. Are the serious!!??!!??

This stuff really pissess me off. I hate how the soda compaines market this crap to people and try and call it healthy. Come on! Maybe it isn't even them that I am mad at? Maybe it is the governement or the FTC for allowing them to false advertise to the public?

Either way, this is ridiculous. There is nothing healthy about that soda, fortifed or not. It is bull sh*t that the are actually going to try and pitch that to people. It is sad that people will buy into this hype and start purchasing this stuff because it says "healthy". I can't wait to start getting questions from people "Is this okay? It says fortified." Ugh.

Anyway, that is my rant for the day. I have a ton of interesting research sitting on my desk that I want to sift through and review for some upcoming blog entries (probably this weekend).

Hope everyone has a healthy day.....DRINK WATER (or green tea)!


Monday, March 5, 2007

Arnold Classic Strength Summit: Day 2 and 3

Day 2 and 3 of the Arnold Strength Summit were awesome!

William Kraemer spoke to start the day. He is a great presenter. He talked about power training, strength training and nonlinear periodization. I could have sat there all day and listened to him lecture. I took lots of notes.

Brad Gillingham gave a deadlifting seminar and started it off by doing some deadlifting himself. He worked up to 890. He told the crowd that this was the heaviest weight he had ever attempted. He got up and started to pull it. He got it to his knees when the cheap little wire clip on the right side started to slide, making the weights slide down the bar. He had to set it down. He said he has a meet in Australia in a couple of weeks and he would try it again there. I think he would have gotten it if the weights didn't start to slide on him.

The Sports Nutrition seminars finished up the day on saturday and they were REALLY good! Dr. Tim Ziegenfuss spoke about supplements and supplement companies and talked about some of the research that they do in his lad (the Ohio Research Group). He did a great job of opening up everyone's eyes to how supplement companies can scam you out of money. He was a great guy and nice enough to spend some time after his seminar with me, answering all my silly questions. Dr. Jamie Landis finished up the day talking about proteins and essentail amino acid supplementation. He presented a ton of research and is a really smart guy. Both he and Dr. Ziegenfuss are good guys....they have to be because they are from the Northern OH area (I am slightly biased since I grew up outside of Cleveland).

The final day I got to see Jim Bell speak about the business aspect of training people. He was another awesome presenter. He really knew how to get the crowds attention. I loved his presentation.

Also, on saturday, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Chris Mohr, We emailed him about our ideas for the shopping tour and the healthy lifestyle seminars. All of these are things that he does at his facility (he is a registered dietician. He also writes for men's health. check out his website!). he said he would meet with us and he sat down and talked to us for a whole hour!! He was a really great guy to spend that much time giving us information about how he runs his programs. It was a great opportunity for both ivonne and myself.

Well, that is all I have for ya now. I am off to bed! Tomorrow is a new day.


Friday, March 2, 2007

Arnold Classic Strength Summit Day 1

Saw two good presenters today, Doug Lentz and Tom DeLong. Doug was especially good. He does an awesome job of speaking. Both of them had great presentations on training youth athletes. I really enjoyed myself. It wasn't any new information for me, but the presentation was great and the information was very consistent and was in agreement with the things I already believe in about training youth athletes, which is nice for a change. I love finding people who agree with me! LOL!

Tomorrow I am very exicted to see researcher William Kraemer speak. He is the go-to guy on strength and conditioning research. There are some sports nutrition presentations I want to see and a presentation on sprinting mechanics. Also, an important meeting with someone with whom I am forward to sitting down and talking. I'll go into more detail about it tomorrow if we actually get together. Hopefully he will have the time - he is a busy, busy guy in this industry!

The highlight of the day has been meeting Shane Hamman, USA's greatest Olympic weightlifter - ever. He was totally cool and totally big! He signed a picture for me and I wanted to get a photo with him, but Ivonne's camera was out of batteries (hopefully tomorrow). When she said the battery was out he said "Damn. I was so pumped that someone wanted to take a picture with me." haha. He said "I walk around here and feel small compared to these bodybuilder guys." I was like "Who cares man! At least you can do athletic things, move quick and dunk a basketball." To which he replied "Whatever! At least I can do this...." and he reached over his head and scrathed his neck......hahahaha!

Watched the hummer deadlift for the strongman contest. Zavikus (sp?) pulled 1016 pounds off the floor for a new world record! Brian Siders got up and called for 4 hummer tires on each side, a huge 1060lbs!!! He got it up to about knee level but couldnt finish it. Just the fact that he held it in his hands and moved it off the floor was amazing to me!

More tomorrow!