Fruit is GOOD FOR YOU! Don't get us wrong. The vitamins, minerals, fiber, and everything else it provides... GREAT! But it doesn't have ANY detoxification qualities to it.
Juice Cleanses... Detoxes... The science just doesn't add up. Ever.
Fruit is GOOD FOR YOU! Don't get us wrong. The vitamins, minerals, fiber, and everything else it provides... GREAT! But it doesn't have ANY detoxification qualities to it.
I'm a Trainer...
I typically train clients between 5-7 hours per day. Of course that's mostly 30-minute sessions (with a few 1-hours mixed in), and many of them back-to-back-to-back. So that's 10-12 clients per day. Lisa and I start at 5:00-5:30AM most mornings, and finish up around 7:00PM most nights. Yes, we take "4 Hour Lunches" to maintain our sanity, and not burn out as most Trainers eventually do.
We're Trainers... It's our passion.
Between clients, in free half-hours here and there, I spend a lot of time reading articles on fitness and nutrition, research "summaries", and professional blogs I follow due to their consistent quality information, which 90% of the time simply re-affirms what I'm already doing professionally, and occasionally gives me new information that makes me better. I really respect the great writers I follow, and LOVE to absorb research and cutting edge information on the science of what I do. A lot of it, I simply share and comment on on Facebook, because it's stuff I just DON'T HAVE THE TIME TO WRITE MYSELF! I get inspired to write something in an effort to educate, inform, and motivate my clients, and the thousand friends/followers I interact with every day via social media, and the dozen clients I work with every day. But often in my research for my OWN article, I find one already written, and well researched, and saying 99% what I wanted to say anyway! This is the amazing beauty of the internet, and social media, as a conduit of information shared among people of common interest. I refuse to "plagiarize and tailor" as many bloggers seem to do, just rewriting other writer's ideas, and calling them their own... so I share.
What I've learned... is even though I am a "decent" writer myself, I'm not nearly as talented with the written word as others.
What I've learned... is even though I have a great depth of experience, and analytical ability to crunch statistics and spot trends (My degree is in Mechanical Engineering... not Exercise Science), I'm NOT a talented researcher, nor do I possess the time to do research.
What I've learned... is that my passion for actually training people, the "in the trenches" personal side of the business, doesn't leave the time to host a Facebook group, or coach 50+ people over the phone. (Maybe due to the fact that I have a great home life!!! Thank you, Baby...) I enjoy being able to blog a bit, share posts I like on social media, and add my personal spin and opinion here and there... but I'll never be an "Internet Fitness and Nutrition Guru".
There are people who have a talent for producing information, and there are people who have a talent for applying that information.
There are the people who write the textbooks, and there are the people who teach from them.
There are the people who map out military strategy, and there are the people who lead from the front, "on the field of battle".
I'm occasionally (okay, frequently) at odds with the people who write, research, and plan... They typically have either retired from the teaching/training roll, and are losing touch, or they are purely academic types, who never deal with the real-flawed-human aspect of their science.
They have their role, and I thank them.
I have my role... Using their knowledge to help real people, with real dreams, real goals, and real struggles. Life isn't a sterile laboratory... I'll continue to write a little... but mostly about the application, not about the theory. I'll write about applying the theory to the real world. I'll write about the Psychology of Exercise... from a trainer who deals with "flawed" athletes as opposed to elite athletes, eager study participants, and physique competitors. I'll write about my own struggles maintaining an above-average physique with a damaged body.
I'll keep writing... what I know.
And I'm perfectly fine with that.
My last two blog posts have shown some of the upper body exercises we do in our contest prep. Today's post will be about the "B" Day in our current routines. I call this workout our "Vertical Push/Pull". Our Upper Body "A" Routine is "Horizontal Push/Pull". Our "C-Day" is our leg workout.
For the Human Physiology Junkies... Shoulder Abduction and Flexion movements, paired with Shoulder Adduction and Extension. Then to pair up with the Shoulder Extension, I work in synergistic Elbow Extension, since the long head of the triceps performs both. For the non-Exercise Science Majors... Its Military Presses, Lat Pull-Down/Chins, Front Delt Raises, and Lat Flies, paired with triceps work!
We finish this workout up with triceps work. Like biceps, triceps grow best when worked from both a lengthened position and a shortened position. The long head of the triceps, like the biceps, cross both the elbow joint, and the shoulder joint. When you do V-Bar Cable Press-downs, the elbows are tucked in at your sides, and the long head is effectively shortened. The lateral head (top/front of the "horseshoe" tends to take over. But when the elbows are raised out in front, or overhead (Skull-Crusher"), the long head is pre-stretched, and it is forced to do more work. I won't post videos to this blog post on the triceps exercises, but if you have questions, feel free to ask!
In continuation to my last blog post about training for muscle gain with serious back issues...
The traditional seated cable "high" row, pulling a lat bar high to the chest, with the elbows raised out to almost shoulder height is a great movement to build the upper back. The rhomboids, mid/upper traps, and posterior delts all get hit. The high pull is a great functional movement as well as a good accessory lift to powerlifting, and for any sport where powerful pulling and upper back strength is critical. Bodybuilders have used it as a staple for decades. The PROBLEM comes with the shear forces placed on the lower spine with heavier loads. Without getting medical-journal-complex, the mechanics of the lift put a lot of pressure on the lower back, in form of shear. The vertebra above tries to slide forward off the top of the vertebra below... OUCH. For people with healthy lower backs, this can be controlled by using a lower weight and proper form, keeping the chest high and head still, not rocking/stretching forward or back, and tightening the core. Unfortunately, if your back is already damaged (like mine), you cannot load enough weight on the stack to force growth, without overloading the spine.
One solution is the dumbbell variant in the previous blog post below... and another, using a Smith Machine like I did today. Plenty of weight to grow with... ZERO low back strain/pain.
The BEST option is a flat bench, raised on two steps or boxes to a height great enough for a full range of motion of the row. But in a gym full of people, this is a decent alternative.
I also posted a video in the last post (same clip) of me flat-benching on a smith machine (at my studio). When I'm pressing, I make a conscious effort to keep my lower back as neutral/stable/un-involved as possible. Again, this is NOT a powerlifting blog post! When you're looking to maximize the WEIGHT you're pressing, your feet should be on the floor for leg drive, and your back should be arched. I'm NOT powerlifting... I'm bodybuilding, with serious spine limitations. The BEST way to get your back neutral is to actually lift your feet off the floor, and press like this. Check your ego at the gym door... Your pressing strength WILL drop... but you'll still put huge load on your chest and shoulders... with ZERO back pain.
Two more great movements, for anybody's biceps, and especially for people training with low back issues, are seated/supported biceps curls. Training supported, again decreases the shear movement in the spine, AND vertical loading in the spine. Any time weight is held forward in front of the body (like a front dumbbell raise) the load increases. Even the SLIGHTLY forward position of a curl can load up many times the weight of the bar/dumbbell at the lumbar spine.
One important element for growth in all muscle groups is to train/load the muscle in both shortened and lengthened ranges of motion. Most exercises simply train the "middle" range of motion, but don't overly load the ends of the range. The biceps muscle is critical to train both shortened, and lengthened, as the origin of the biceps is up in the shoulder joint (crossing two joints), not on the upper arm. When the shoulder is extended (to the rear), the biceps is stretched to its longest position. When the shoulder is flexed (forward), the biceps is shortened. In my last blog post below, I showed cable curls from a lengthened (pre-stretched position) doing the "drag curl" from behind, shoulder extended to the rear. In the "vanity curl" with the elbows raised, and forward, the biceps are shortened.
With dumbbells, the same effect can be achieved with a seated incline bench curl (lengthened), and a prone dumbbell "spider curl", with the shoulder hanging forward (shortened). Videos of these two...
Contest Prep for my 2016 Summer Season...
Almost 4 years ago, I suffered a serious fall on wet (indoor) ceramic tile outside my old condo. The result: degenerative disk disease, and chronic facet inflammation in L3-S1 vertebra. After a LOT of research, and with the consent and encouragement of my Orthopedic Surgeon, I continued to train, though my workouts are completely modified, for life. Despite ZERO squats, dead-lifts, and other compressive/rotational lower-back movements, anyone can train for, and actually be competitive in, bodybuilding (and this year, Classic Physique). Most of my clients are over 40... Most of my clients have joint injury limitations. I train FOR THEM, as inspiration, and for PROOF that what I do with them also works for me!
My current routine is a 6-day per week (sometimes fewer, listening to my body) routine, based in a 3-day split.
This routine is one of those three days, and ONE variant of what I do. The pattern and muscle groups remain the same, but the exercise selection varies week to week, and workout to workout. The loads and rep ranges change also. Sometimes it's a dumbbell variant, and sometimes its cables or barbells, sometimes machines.
This workout is upper back (mid-traps, rhomboids) antagonist super-set with chest in a push-pull split. I pair up the chest-back split with Biceps.
The first split is SUPPORTED DB Rows, with my elbows out wide away from my body. Fully supported by the bench, there is no load on my lumbar at all. These are paired with a Smith Machine Flat Bench. The Smith is "inferior" to a free bench, but eliminates a lot of the risk in my shoulders (also beat up) and allows me to go heavier un-spotted.
This video is a bit compressed for time. Typically I'm taking 45-60 seconds between exercises, and a minute of two between super-sets.
The next super-set is unilateral cable reverse flies, and cable chest flies.
In the reverse flies, notice how I pull back the opposite shoulder and SQUEEZE the scapula together. First, this keeps the torso from twisting, recruiting the obliques and hip stabilizers (to protect my lumbar). It also forces me to recruit the rhomboid/mid-trap more as opposed to just focusing on the rear delt.
The Cable Chest Fly is pretty garden-variety... The angle is pretty close to 90 degrees to my spine. Palms are OPEN. When you squeeze the handles, the body recruits your biceps. Open palms recruits my pecs.
The biceps sets include "Vanity Curls" with the elbows raised, which work the biceps through it's shortened range of motion, while the "Drag Curls" with the shoulder in full extension work the lengthened range of motion.
I also do core work, crunches, dynamic planks, and static lower back work between and after these exercises, but I didn't include the videos. Those exercises are covered in the "Training Videos" tab on our website.
IF YOU'D LIKE TO BUILD MUSCLE (OR REBUILD LOST MUSCLE) DESPITE SIGNIFICANT JOINT INJURY, COME AND SEE US. OUR SPECIALTY IS CLIENTS OVER 40! ALL OF US HAVE AN ISSUE SOMEWHERE!! DON'T LET IT BE AN EXCUSE TO NOT TRAIN...
Life is full of bumps and bruises. We bump into desks, people, I'm famous for kitchen drawers... and we trip over things. Usually these leave a little mark, or no mark at all, and their soon forgotten. Other times, our "bumps" are bit more severe... like getting rear-ended in our car at 50 MPH!
Months ago I wrote an article/blog post named "A Tale of Two Mother-In-Laws". It was written in reference to a client of mine, in her early 80's, who had tripped over a parking-lot stopper, and bounced off the parking lot. Instead of breaking a hip, or an ankle, or a wrist, at age 80+... she got up, dusted herself off, and went on. Bruised? Yes. Scraped up? Yes. Seriously hurt? NO! At age 82!
Just this weekend, unfortunately, a client of mine was rear-ended in his sports car, by a hit-and-run drunk driver. The airbags deployed, and the cabin held (nice car...), but he awoke in the hospital. Today, he went to work! He took today off from training, but he's planning on lifting with me tomorrow! Of course... I've told him NOT to come if he's "feeling it" tonight... but I'm guessing he'll be just fine. He's been working with me for over a year, and has added a LOT of muscle back onto his 55 year old frame.
We hear about NFL players too frequently, in their sports cars wrecking at a hundred miles an hour... and walking away.
Bodybuilders... football players... and even 80-yr old training clients. THEY ARE DURABLE!
More durable, more injury-resistant, "tougher" than those who don't put stress on their bodies on a weekly basis.
Strength training at any age causes your muscles to grow (obviously), but it also builds tendons,. ligaments, and bone density. Bone density is a HUGE factor in durability. The long-term effects of strength training on our skeletons is evident when looking at bone scans/screenings for osteopenia and osteoporosis. "Weight Bearing Exercise" is critical for bone density. Not just walking/jogging for the lower body, but weight training for the upper body. Like muscle, our bones get weaker and weaker as we age (if we don't train with weights). And just like muscle, we can stop and even reverse bone-loss with regular strength training. I have a DOZEN older female clients through the years who have seen DIRECT correlation between their bone density and their time weight training.
Durability absolutely improves with the increases in muscle, tendon and ligament strength, and bone density/strength. Yet another important reason to get into the weight room up, and more HEAVY weight... Someday... it might just save your life, or mobility freedom!
Dieting sucks... We all know it. It seems every time most people start a new diet, something, multiple things, EVERYTHING goes wrong. Maybe you can stick with it for a week, then it's out the window. Maybe you can only do a few days, and then you SPLURGE! Many people get in this vicious cycle over and over again. Some eventually give up... Most try again, and then fail again for the same reasons.
Lisa and I have been in the fitness and nutrition business for over 20 years each... Trust me, I think we've seen every diet program come and go, and we've seen people fail, and people succeed. NOBODY can guarantee success when it comes to diet. Unless you pay me 24 hours per day to follow you around and slap food out of your hands... EVERYBODY is going to cheat. The secret is to figure out WHY you cheat, HOW to avoid it, or simply how to minimize the impact of the concessional cheat. Only then... can you make it through your new nutritional "lifestyle" without blowing up, or going crazy.
What diets actually work?
Really, any diet that provides a complete spectrum of nutrients, both macro and micro-nutrients can work in the long term... IF you can stick with it. Many advertised diets are simply NOT sustainable, due to not being complete, or simply not providing ENOUGH calories to keep you alive!
1) "I feel like I'm starving when I'm on a diet, and I just can't stand it!"
In fact... most people are eating WAY too few calories when they go on a diet. Your body IS starving! Nobody can sustain a starvation diet, and a starvation diet is horrible for you. The secret to success is to cut out just a FEW calories. Enough to get the fat coming off, but also enough to keep you from damn near DYING!
The first step is figuring out what you are ACTUALLY eating on an average day, and then adjust from there. If you have no idea what you really eat day in, and day out, picking a random low calorie intake is setting yourself up for failure from day one! Fat-loss success simply REQUIRES accurate TRACKING. If you are not tracking your intake, you will NOT sustain your fat-loss. Anything you lose will be out of pure luck, and short term re-gains will happen. Talk to a nutrition pro about TRACKING, and how to do it.
2) "I can't stay on plan for 3-4 days, but then I blow a day, and give up!"
This is likely the MOST common diet "fail" we hear... and the solution is simple. Stop dieting more than 3 days in a row!
The reality is, you body doesn't gain and lose fat based on what you eat in a 24-hour period. Fat is gained and lost over the course of a week's intake. If your calories and macronutrients are on point for the WEEK, you'll be fine. If you KNOW you're going to "cheat" every few days, simply PLAN your cheats! Some trainers call these cheat-meals, or even cheat-days. I prefer the term "re-feed" days.
Sit down with Lisa and I, or with another qualified nutrition professional and figure out what your real average intake is (see #1). Once you determine what your "maintenance" calories are (what you eat to stay the same weight), plan to cut 10-20% calories (typically carbs) out for 3 days in a row, and then eat your FULL maintenance on the 4th day! Many of my clients use Wednesdays and Saturdays as "re-feeds", or whatever days work best for them. This way, you only have to "diet" for 2-3 days in a row. On the high calorie days you get glorious amounts of carbs and feel like you're NOT dieting. ANYBODY can stick to a diet 2-3 days in a row!
3) "I am addicted to chocolate, and sweets!!"
So am I... I'm eating a Cookies & Cream Quest Bar between paragraphs...
As a result we keep our house stocked up with tiny dark chocolate squares, chocolate-peanut butter protein bars, chocolate protein powder, chocolate mint protein bars... Granted... they are NOT as good as a candy bar, but they are CLOSE ENOUGH!!! They are enough of a replacement to take the edge off. I eat chocolate 3-4 times per day... even IN CONTEST PREP.
4) "My spouse/significant other likes to go out to dinner 2-3 nights per week!"
This one is a tough one... But it's DEFINITELY beatable.
First... Make sure you've got plenty of food in you before you head out. Don't go out STARVING. Second... convince your partner that you WILL go out, but that you limit your choices, and HAVE a plan when you go there. Lisa an I only go to a few different restaurants. And almost everywhere we go, we have a go-to food item on the menu. Grilled fish tacos, seared tuna steaks and veggies, a salad with double grilled chicken... we have a plan. Make sure that your meal of choice is "estimate-able" for tracking purposes. Third... time your re-feed days for your nights out! Don't feel guilty for going out with your partner! Those "date-nights" are important to the health of your relationship, especially if you have young kids! Finally... Don't drink alcohol away from home! Alcohol calories add up SO FAST! Alcohol leads to BAD choices, and loss of self control. JUST DON'T DO IT!
5) "I'm too busy to cook healthy meals at home, so I end up STUCK eating fast-food or going out to eat!"
WOW... This one is the biggest diet killer known to man in our BUSY fast-moving lives. There is fast-food EVERYWHERE, and we always seem to NEVER have time, especially if we're ALSO working out 4-5 nights per week!!!
Okay... First, if at all possible, work out in the morning! Teaching your body to wake up an hour earlier only takes a week. Tough it out, and get it DONE! Next... MEAL PREP, MEAL PREP, MEAL PREP!!! Take a few hours on Sunday night to cook a BUNCH of food! Lots of healthy protein, grilled chicken pre-sliced and stored, get a rice-cooker that keeps warm rice on the counter-top. We have a 6-cup version and cook most of our "boring" carbs only twice per week. Cook up a crock-pot full of "pulled pork loin". Cut up veggies and fruit in advance. Come see us for a HUGE list of easy-prep meal ideas that match up to your diet. That way when you're stuck late at work, you KNOW you have QUICK pre-cooked chicken, rice, and veggies waiting at home that take 2 minutes to heat up and serve. NEVER get stuck with nothing but raw chicken and left-over cake in your refrigerator... Because you KNOW what you'll be eating for "dinner" that night when you come home exhausted, stressed, and HUNGRY. If you have pre-prepped food waiting... you have a CHANCE of avoiding the cake!
We hope these tips will help! Some of these need a little education, guidance, and motivation to maintain. If your trainer refuses to help with your nutrition... fire your trainer.
20+% of Americans would rather stand in line at the DMV for an hour than go work out.
65+% of Americans can't stay on a diet longer than a week...
You're NOT alone!
I think this ability... the ability to accept that something you've believed in for a long time... is WRONG... only comes with age and maturity. This is a great article from a website I've been following a lot lately. Read up... Especially those of you under 30!
Jeff Ward and Lisa Ward (Brightman)