If you are stepping into a workout facility, I hope you have the mind set to go hard. That your goal in the next hour is to get some serious work done and not to just socialize with you fellow friends and gym buddies.
The mind set to go hard and get everything out of that 1 or 2 hours of gym time is a great one to have, and few people have a mindset like this. For the people that are constantly pushing the weights, you have to know yourself. You have to know when to push your body and when to hold back. The idea of holding back can seem foreign and almost offensive to you as a determined individual.
Learning when to hold back in the long run will save your body a lot of pain down the road. It will also help optimize your gains and prevent burn out.
There are different thoughts on whether or not missing lifts is O.K. or not. I would never say it’s good to miss a lift. Some will say it is good because it shows that you are trying and always pushing yourself.
I fall on the other side. I do not think it is ever O.K. to miss a lift.
My reasoning is this. When you miss a lift it hurts your confidence, so that next time you go to lift heavy there will be a thought in the back of your head thinking, “I might not get this”. This will hinder your progression. The other reason is that if you are missing lifts you are lifting more then you can handle. Even if you get the reps in, you most likely compensated somewhere else to get those reps in.
When you notice that you start to miss more lifts, then maybe you should take notice and back off. This is not the time to think that you need to push even harder. Take a step back and reassess why you are missing.
I will always say form is king. When you lift with bad form, eventually something bad will happen.
Let’s take a simple bicep curl. What do you do when you are trying to get those last few reps. One, you will start increasing the momentum and incorporating the shoulder. Or the other common method is to just arch your back way back and lift with all you’ve got.
You will get your reps in this way, but it’s the wrong way and we all know it. By doing this you are bringing in other muscle groups, such as the back muscles. The bending of your back just gets you through the hardest part of the lift, the middle portion, by making the pull more horizontal and less vertical thereby decreasing the effects of gravity. This is not O.K. because now you are putting a lot of unnecessary stress on the lower back.
This is just one simple exercise where you can see bad form. Just imagine all the ways you can get more reps out of a deadlift if you let your form go. If you are lifting with bad form you are compensating somewhere else. This will put stress somewhere that it does not belong, eventually this will lead to an injury of some sort.
If your form starts to go, take a step back. You will be much stronger and healthier in the long run if you lift with good form.
You would think people would listen to pain, but most people will just push it aside as their body being a puss. If you feel pain, stop. I should not even have to write this. Just stop. This is not the time to push on.
Stop what you are doing and look at what is causing you pain. It could be that you are weak in a particular area or have instability or that you are over working a particular area. There could be many reasons. Listen to your body and take a step back and get healthy.
If you learn when to hold back it will save you a lot of pain in the long run. The goal of weight lifting is to feel better, not worse. Listen to these three simple rules: Don’t Miss Lifts, Form is King, and Listen to Your Pain.
Have a great week.
It seems to me that over the years eating has somehow become an over-complicated and analyzed thing. You would think that more information on a subject would be better, but it almost seems as if all this information is inhibiting what we humans were supposed to do – enjoy and eat food.
Now it does not help that most of the foods we call foods are actually highly processed food, full of things our body was not meant to handle. Such foods as the high fructose corn syrups and refined white flours for example.
On top of this there are so many different views of food and how it should be eaten and how much of what. Over just the past few years the thinking has done a full 180. It was eat lots of carbs and little fats, now it is eat lots of fats and proteins and little carbs. You also have the, eat only veggies and fruits people, the vegetarians, pescetarian, and many other tarian groups. I guess your safest bet is to just not eat, and stick to water (don’t do this you will die).
The question is what should I eat? Are fats evil? How about carbs (Legend has it that the devil created carbs. Sounds plausible), and what about proteins, why isn’t anyone talking about proteins?I guess they get a pass. How can three macronutrients get so over complicated?
Lots of questions
Here’s my attempt at simplifying what you should eat. This is my opinion, you can take it or leave it, but here it is.
Fats are good, proteins are good, and carbs, carbs are well, good. All three are good for you. You should be eating all three of them. Your body needs all three of them. None of them are inherently bad for you. All are good in the right quantities and from the right sources.
Picking the right foods is the problem for most people. So what is food? Strange question right? Food is something that is ingested for its nutritious substance, which comes from plants and animals. So food is meat, fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains. Food is not processed breads, pastas and meats.
There are 7 rules that Michael Pollan goes over in his book, In Defense of Food, which should help you make good
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- Don’t eat any thing with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Stay out of the middle of the supermarkets; shop on the perimeter, and shop at farmers markets or grow your own food when possible.
- Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot
- Stop eating before you are full, leave the table a little hungry
- Eat as a family, not in front of the TV, but at the dinner table
- Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline.
If you follow these simple rules you will be healthier for it. There is no, eat this much fat or this many carbs. If you are eating real foods, as your body was designed to do, you will be doing just fine. And, have some control and don’t pig out every meal.
Stop over-complicating eating. You know what you should be eating for the most part. Eat in moderation and eat real foods. It sounds too simple to work, but it works and has worked since the dawn of time.
When it comes to developing power, whether it is for sport or for life, there are no better exercises then the Olympic lifts. With the O lifts you are incorporating a whole body movement. All O lifts will start with the legs, transfer up through the core, and finish with the arms. This is the same in sports; power starts at the legs and ends at the fingertips. O lifts do a great job at preparing the body to develop power, because they incorporate the whole body just like sports does.
With all this being said, I personally do not do a whole lot of Olympic lifting with my athletes. This is not because I do not see the value in them. It has more to do with me not being an expert in coaching the lifts. Also, they are very complex and require a lot of mobility throughout all the joints in the body as well as coordination, which most people do not possess.
This is why hang cleans and hang snatching has become big. These still allow for a hip hinge but do not require as much mobility in the ankle and hips as a power cleans does (starting from the ground). These lifts are still complex and still require that you have good thoracic spine mobility and shoulder stability.
In the case that one, a coach does not feel comfortable coaching the Olympic lifts and two, the athlete or client at hand does not have the mobility or coordination to perform such lifts, seems to leave a coach looking to train for power, out of options.
But as you can guess we have options, the title kinda gives it away. One of these options is the medicine ball. Medicine balls are not anything new; they have been around since ancient Greece. Much like the kettle bells they are just a long forgotten way of exercising that now is back in vogue.
Med balls can be used in many different ways. The one I will focus on is developing power. Unlike the Olympic lifts, med balls are easier to coach and require less mobility throughout the joints. This makes them more usable for most athletes and clients. There is also a seemingly endless amount of variations you can do with the med balls. You can throw from the side, the hip, overhead, from the chest, etc. From there, you can even make them more dynamic by adding lower body movements such as a crossover step or jump.
Putting Med Balls in Your Program
Where you place med ball work depends on what you are trying to get out of them. For the most part I will place them as one of my first few exercises if I am using them to develop power. To develop true power you need to take advantage of your muscles glycogen stores when they are at they’re fullest at the beginning of your workout.
Another place I will put them is at the end of my workout. They just seem to fit nicely there. Of course when you put them at the end you will not be developing as much power as you would be if you had put them at the beginning of your workout.
Selecting a Weight
Med balls come in many different weights, from 2 pounds to 200 pounds. Well I don’t know about 200 pounds but there is a large spectrum to choose from.
If you are going for speed and power, then for the love of all things holy, do not pick up a 14 pound med ball!
Power is work divided by time, so if this is the case, time has greater effect on power then work. If I use a 6 pound med ball and move it faster then a 14 pound med ball I am going to produce more power with the smaller weight, the 6 pound med ball.
Light is right, at least until you can move a 14 pound med ball as fast as a 6 pound med ball.
Use More Leg
A lot of times when people start out throwing med balls, they try to generate all the force from their arms.
Instead of trying to push the ball harder, think of trying to generate more power from the legs and hips. This will ultimately lead to throwing the ball harder.
I find it strange that I even have this as a point, but I feel it is necessary. As a guy I love throwing things, breaking things, seeing things explode… its fun, don’t know why but it is. So when I give an athlete a med ball that is designed to be thrown as hard as one can throw it, you would think they would do just that.
More times then not I need to explain that the goal is for you to throw that ball through the wall. Every rep should be thrown as hard as possible.
Next time you pick up a med ball, think of trying to throw it through the wall or floor.
If you do not have the training background to coach Olympic lifts, or you just don’t think that the risk to reward is worth it because of the nature of the lifts or the athlete is just not ready or capable do to movement or coordination problems, then start working in some med ball training. You will find that your athletes will still be able to gain power without the use of Olympic lifts.
I get this question a lot, “How much weight should I start out at for this exercise?” This is not a bad question. It is, in fact, a relatively good one. This shows you have the concern that if you do too much weight you could hurt yourself or if you lift too light you will just be lifting for the hell of it.
The thing is, I don’t have a mathematic equation that allows me to tell you an exact number. Such as: [(height + weight)/training age] x (male/female+ exercise) = suggested weight.
This would be nice, but I do not know of such an equation.
My usual suggestion is to go light and get the movement down and then go from there. This would be for a person that I have not been working with for long. For a client I have been working with, I can usually guess within 10 pounds of the right weight. So I do have some good weight guessing skills.
What I am getting at is, if an exercise is important to you and you want to know if you have increased your strength in that exercise, then you should keep track of it.
With your handy dandy notebook (damn you Blues Clues). A notebook is a great cheap way to keep track of all your lifting numbers. It also is a great place to write how you feel and your thoughts.
And, no I am not talking about you writing how the ocean waves lapping against your feet make you feel on a cool summer’s eve. (Unless you want to, and in that case it feels good)
How you feel as in, did you feel tired coming into the work out, how do you feel after the workout, what were some noticeable weaknesses? Also, were you having trouble finishing lifts or were you getting stuck at the bottom? Did you feel tight or notice a lack of mobility? These are the things you should be writing down. Along with this keep track of your numbers for the day.
I am a little weird in the sense that I keep record of every exercise I have done, and at what weight and reps I was able to lift it, in an excel spreadsheet. You don’t have to go that far, but you should keep track of the lifts that you care about improving on.
With a well kept notebook, you should have all the information you need. Such as: what weight you are lifting, areas you need to work on or weakness, and how you are feeling. This record will help you be able to make your next workout more tailored to your specific needs and weaknesses. It also serves as a good reference to look back on to see if you are actually seeing improvements.
The workout journal can be an important tool to helping you meet your goals. And if you want to, you can also doodle cool pictures of you slaying mythical creatures, just to make you look like more of a badass.
The reason why I ask this question is because if you don’t know why, then why are you doing it. If you know why you are doing something then there is value in the thing you are doing. As you can guess, since this is a blog devoted to fitness, I am going to relate all this to your fitness life, or at lest give it the old college try.
I was thinking a little while back to why I workout and why do I care about my health (other then the reason that it’s what I make my living doing). If you have been reading this blog for some time then you can guess that I love food, and I am not talking steaks and chicken, I am talking Ben & Jerry’s and Twix. The more filled with simple sugars the better, I don’t just have a sweet tooth, I got sweet teeth.
This love of sweet things has led me down a path of laziness and obesity in the past. Don’t believe me? Here are the pictures to prove it. When I was in 5th grade I weighed a nice 175 and strutted one horrid hair cut, don’t know which one was worse for my self esteem, being over weight or the hair cut. With my pre dinner snack consisting of a two pound bag of Swedish Fish and crushing bags of Saltine crackers I was able to get to 260 by my freshmen year of high school.
During my school years I was never comfortable with the way I looked. I tried different things to make myself feel less fat. I remember wearing Hawaiian shirts because they were loose fitting and made me feel less big. When Under Armor first came out I would always wear one of their dry fits under my shirts since they made me feel thinner.
I started hitting the weight room four days a week as a freshman in high school. Slowly the weight started coming off. By the time I was a senior I was down to 215. After my freshman year in college I decided to change up my diet and started eating healthier and dropped down to a solid 195 and 10% body fat with a good diet and hard work, to put this in perspective the last time I weighed 195 I was in 7th grade. With all this weight loss I gained confidence in myself and have become comfortable with who I am.
So my answer to the question “why I do what I do”: I did what I did back then to feel better about who I was and gain confidence. I do what I do now because I don’t want to go back to being the old me, each day I want to be a little better then the me of yesterday.
So why do you do what you do?
Is it to be able to play with your kid, to wake up every morning and look in the mirror and say, “who’s that sexy beast, O that’s right, its me”, or it could be you just want to be the best you, you can be.
Whatever your reasoning is for living a healthy life style, don’t forget why you do it.
The past two weekends I have been away at conferences. There was the Elite Training Workshop at Cressey Performance and the NSCA Maine State Conference at the University of New England. Oh, and I was also an invited speaker for the UNE research symposium.
Let me just dust my shoulders off before proceeding.
What this all means is me spending a total combined time of roughly 24 hours sitting in cheap plastic unsupportive chairs, which has done wonders for my back. Luckily it paid off with me cramming my mind full of new ideas and knowledge, and a couple of cool drawstring swag bagz, spelled with a “Z”. Score!
Since all this new knowledge has been bestowed upon me, I will also let you drink from the cup of knowledge. Sorry, I can’t give all of you cool free drawstring swag bagz as well, but if it makes you feel better I would if I could.
Assessments, They’re Important
You have probably heard the saying “if you’re not assessing your guessing”, well it rhymes so it’s right.
When you are working with a new client, how are you supposed to know their past history and how they move, if you don’t do an assessment? The assessment should consist of some kind of questionnaire that delves into the past history of activities and injuries, along with some kind of movement screen.
From this information you can pull areas of weakness and exercises that they should and should not be doing.
If you are part of a gym that does not have coaches that can perform a full assessment, I would recommend you look into the self movement screen. This will at least give you some idea of some imbalances that you may have that you are unaware of.
So don’t guess, assess.
Look at the Demands of A Sport
Every sport requires a different skill set. There may be some overlapping between sports, but there is some facet of the game that makes it unique and that is why baseball and soccer have different names.
Baseball pitchers don’t have to run a lot so why go for 5 mile runs? Same with hockey players and football players, they are all quick explosive sports. Running long distance is the antithesis of this.
Side Note: I just used a big word in my writing and did not even have to find it in a thesaurus – little win.
Looking at overall energy demands of a sport is important, but it is also important to look at the movements that are used in the sport. Look at the work to rest ratio, the explosive vs. non explosive movement, and linear and lateral movements. A program should take all this into consideration.
Train for Effect
Well this sounds like a no brainer. Everyone who works out is training for some kind of effect, whether that is strength, fat loss, or sexiness. Everyone is training for an effect. So what does this mean?
When you write your exercise program you should not just think of exercises as movements that strengthen muscle groups – anyone can do that. I could pick any meathead in the gym to write me a program to get me stronger and there is a good chance some of my weights would go up, this doesn’t mean it was a good program.
There should be a purpose for each exercise. You have depressed shoulders so you program exercises X, Y, and Z to help fix that; your core is weak so you program this exercise over that exercise. The point is you want your exercises to cause an effect, its not just sets and reps with bench, squat, and deadlifts. Writing a good exercise program is so much more than that.
Think about the effect you want to cause.
Base of Aerobic Fitness
This is an idea that I guess I have always known but never actually put much thought into it. Your base of aerobic fitness is what allows you to progress to more strenuous activities, like sprinting. Without a base the individual will have nothing to build off of.
For example if you have a client, or you yourself have not had any form of training in over a year, you can not expect them to know how to pace themselves. By developing an aerobic base first, this will lead to better endurance, allowing them to do more work. Once you, or your clients, have an idea of how to pace yourselves then you can move on to harder activities.
What I mean by pacing is that a sprint should not be the same speed as a jog and visa versa. Without an aerobic base you and your clients may not know the difference or be at a fitness level to perform at a higher level. So get that base and then build off of it.
Ice Cream, Hot Dogs, and Omega 3’s
What do all three of these things have in common? Well, nothing really, except ice cream and hot dogs are not the healthiest food choices. So what is omega 3’s doing linked with these two outlaws of food health.
With our ability to inject almost anything into any food, we now have the ability to put omega 3’s into any food we want to. This includes foods like ice cream and hot dogs. So now my junk food will have some resemblance of being good for me.
So instead of taking fish oil pills I can now just eat some ice cream to get my daily recommended value of omega 3’s. And people can now say, “It’s ok that I eat ice cream every day because it’s good for me.” Let me just say, and this is my last point, a part does not make a whole. Just because something has some healthy part to it does not make it inherently good for you.
PRI Is A Lot of Smart
After hearing about PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) I now fully understand what the phrase “drinking from a fire hose” means. What is PRI? Well it was developed by some smart PT by the name of Ron Hruska.
Their principles are: “To explore and explain the science of postural adaptations, asymmetrical patterns and influence of polyarticular chains of muscles on the human body. To develop an innovative treatment approach that addresses the primary contributions of postural kinematic movement dysfunction.”
Intriguing right? Sounds like a whole lot of smart to me, something that I will have to look into.
These are some of the big things that I learned over the past two weeks. So assess, don’t guess, look at what the sport demands, train for an effect, get that aerobic base, ice cream is awesome but still not good for you no matter how you dress it up, and PRI, that is just smart.
If you have been lifting weights for longer the 6 months, then this might be a familiar happening.
You planned out your workout perfectly. Each set and rep and exercise was strategically picked to optimize your results. The first 4 weeks or so your bench seemed to jump by 5 pounds each week with ease. The next 4 to 6 week you are still seeing some improvement, you are still going up 5 pounds every week or so. By the third month you see your lifts come to a screeching stop.
The first thought you have is to increase the work. “I am not working hard enough. I need to do more sets. The more sets the stronger I’ll get.” You try this for a few weeks but nothing happens, your weight seems to have stayed the same or even slightly decreased in some instances.
The next idea might be to change up your workout. Either you make a new one or pull one offline that seems appealing to you, or one out of the latest issues of some muscle magazine. You stick to the program, doing everything it tells you to do. Your bench goes up in the first two weeks but after that nothing. Once again you find yourself stuck.
If you have ever been stuck at a plateau you know how frustrating it can be. It is as if you are in no mans land, nothing you do seems to work.
Why You Plateau
To beat the plateau we must first understand why we plateau. If you are someone who has just started a workout routine then the first 4 to 6 weeks is going to be filled with weight increase. You can do almost anything and see increase in strength.
The reason is that you are untrained. Going from something to nothing is a huge stimulus change for your body. The first 6 weeks your strength goes up due to your nervous system and your body being able to coordinate muscular contraction and motor unit recruitment.
The next 4 to 6 weeks you have actual muscle adaption. This means the muscle grows in size and is able to recruit more motor units. This is why you still see gains but not as drastic as the first 4 to 6.
By the fourth or fifth month adaption seems to come to a halt. This is due to the body’s inability to adapt. Without adapting you can’t lift more weight. The reason for this lack of adaption is because the body does not have enough time to adapt between workouts.
Simply put, you plateau because you are not allowing enough time for your body to adapt between workouts.
Getting Over the Plateau
Now that we have an idea of what plateauing stems from. We can now address the issue. To beat the plateau you need to allow more time for adaption. So the mind set of making your workouts harder or increasing the workload is the exact opposite of what you want to do.
What you need to do is go through a week or two of less work. This is called a back off period or a deload. This works by decreasing the workload without decreasing the intensity.
Example: You were doing 5×5 at 205. For your back off period, or deload you will know do 2×5 at 205.
The weight stays at the same intensity. You want to stay within 90% of your rep max, even during the deload, this will allow your body to maintain its level of neuromuscular readiness. What is changing is the amount of total reps. This is what we want to decrease. By keeping the intensity the same we are able to maintain our strength while giving your body time to adapt.
The back off period will last for a week or two, but it could be a full month before your body is fully recovered. Once you have recovered you can go back to your normal sets and reps and progress to higher weights.
Getting stuck at the same weight week after week can be very frustrating. The natural human thing to do is just to push through it and think you need to do more. This mind set will only take you so far, you have to let your body recover and adapt to the stimulus that you are throwing at it.
Keep the weight up and decrease the sets. This will allow you to get over your plateau and help you see gains for months to come.
I was thinking back to the days when I first started lifting; how simple it was, it was upper body or lower body days. I did what I wanted. Loading up the leg press with all the weights in the gym, it was a small gym, but still as a high school kid I felt badass, doing 400 pound shoulder shrugs, the true test of how strong you are, and sets and reps, always without a doubt, had to be 3 sets of 10 reps.
I don’t think I ever went higher or lower then the 3×10 until my junior year in high school. I always thought it was the perfect number, hell it was what everyone else was doing. It turned out that 3×10 was not the best set up for my goal of becoming a stronger athlete. I would have fared much better from a 5×5 or even a 5,3,1 set up. But with youth comes ignorance and many years of ineffective lifting.
At this point I have done a plethora of different set and rep schemes. Two that I have been playing around with recently is cluster sets and high-density sets (honestly I have know idea what these are called, if you know the common name feel free to tell me).
The Cluster Set
Cluster sets are a great way for you to be able to lift heavier weights for a higher number of reps. This results in an increase in strength.
Before you carry me off to be burned at the stake for my wizardry, let me explain how they work. You will soon see that there is no magic involved, just some simple sets and reps manipulation.
The cluster set is a group of mini sets within a set. This is what it looks like: (4×2)x5, this would be five cluster sets of four sets of two. You would do two reps rest 10 seconds and then do the next set and repeat this for four total sets. This equals one cluster set.
Are you following me? Just think of it as the ‘Inception’ of sets, a set within a set within a set.
If you were confused by the movie ‘Inception’ at any point then you should first watch it again and figure it out before attempting these.
For simplicity I will stick with the (4×2)x5 as my example. When selecting your weights you will not be able to use your two-rep max or your eight-rep max but something more like your five-rep max will be used.
You will end up lifting your five-rep max eight times. Isn’t set manipulation great? You can now lift your five-rep max eight times in one set. This will lead to an increase in strength, allowing you to do more work within each set. You can also use this for increasing muscular size and endurance by changing the reps and sets to fit your goals.
High Density Sets (Put Name Here)
This is very similar to cluster sets but with a little twist. This is how it works. You would have your sets and reps set up something like this: 3×5/2×8. At first glance this seems cut and dry, that is because it is.
The magic in all of this is not seen just by looking at the sets and reps. You also have to look at the numbers. This setup allows you to do more work within your workout. Let’s say your five-rep max is 225 and your seven-rep max is 200. If you were to do 5×5 at 225 you will have lifted at total of 5,625 pounds. If you did 3×5 at 225 plus 2×8 at 200 that will be a total of 6,575 pounds lifted. That is 950 more pounds lifted.
This results in more weight lifted but with using less weight due to the increased reps and decrease in weight in the last two sets. This is another great way to do more work but at the same time lifting less weight. Resulting in strength gains and muscle hypertrophy, while giving your joints a rest from the heavier weights.
Give these two sets and rep schemes a try. Not every workout has to be 3×10 or 5×5. Get a little crazy with your planning. Throw in a cluster set for your squat and bench or try using the high-density sets for your lunges and chin ups. If strength is what you’re after then try them out.
If I have not mentioned it before, I love food. Or, I should say, I love eating food. The sad thing is, it does not even have to be good food. Most people will try something and if they don’t like it, they will just stop eating it. I, on the other hand, will realize that what I am eating tastes like garbage, but instead of doing the obvious and just stop eating, I will proceed to tell everyone how bad it is while I continue to eat the thing that I just got done saying tasted like a fresh diaper. Needless to say, I really enjoy eating.
(Warning Random Thought)
As a side note, I really did not like the movie Charlotte’s Web. It had way too much singing in it for my liking, even as a child. But it had one great scene in it that sums up my love for food. Here it is.
Wow, can you find any better choreography and cinematography in a children’s film? I think not.
A common question with us red-blooded food lovers is, how many meals should we eat throughout the day? If it were up to me, it would be every minute of every day, other then when I am sleeping. But this dream is just not possible, if I want to live a healthy life.
So is the answer three meals a day; the classic breakfast, lunch, dinner combo. Or is it 6 to 8 smaller meals throughout the day. How about only two large meals? Is any one way superior to the other? Some would argue, yes. Here is my take on the whole matter of meal frequency.
Goal of Eating
Like so many things in our lives it all starts with a goal. It is no different when choosing your meal frequency.
The over-all reason for eating is to fuel and replenish your body so it can function at its fullest potential. I would like to think eating could be a hobby, the real American pastime.
Looking at eating as strictly eating to fuel our bodies and not as a social, out of boredom, or hobby, is how we should look at eating the majority of the time. This is not to say that you should never just eat to eat, or to take a person of the opposite sex out to a nice dinner every once in a while.
People get caught up in eating three times a day because it is what they have done their whole lives. They think this is the right way to eat just because they have done it that way. You also have the people that eat small frequent meals thinking it will keep their metabolism up all throughout the day. This has been shown to be untrue in resent research.
There is the intermittent fasting group, the carb back loading group, and the palio group. (Have you noticed if someone is on the palio diet they will somehow work it into the conversation to let you know they are on the palio diet)
None of these styles of eating is right or wrong. They can all be very effective if it’s the right fit for your style of living. Some will prefer the sit down three large meals a day, for their life is able to support it. A mother that is always on the go may do better with unplanned small snake like meals throughout the day. As long as you are getting enough to eat and not eating a bunch of junk foods throughout the day, you will be fine with whatever eating style you choose.
What meal frequency comes down to, is what works for you. This depends on your daily schedule, the amount of food you need to eat, when you workout, and how you like to eat.
Eating frequent meals throughout the day does not work for me. It makes me want to eat all the time, causing me to snack more then I should. I usually start eating after my workout. I work out around 11:30, so I eat around 1:00. Then I’ll eat one last large meal at night. I do this because I enjoy eating large amounts of food at one time and because eating at night, 2 hours or so before bed, also prevents me from snacking.
I am also not locked into any one style if I know that I am going out to eat or traveling I may not eat anything all day. I will wait till dinner to eat so I can enjoy my meal and not just eat rabbits food and when it comes to traveling I know I will end up eating like crap so I just plan accordingly. This is what works for me. This style does not fit everybody’s life style. So find what works for you and do you.
You should always eat after your workout. Other then that, you can eat as many or as few times a day as you want. Just make sure you are eating enough food. A diet should not be something you force into your life, it should fit your life. This way you will stick to a healthy eating life style.
I am going to be honest I have not been in the fitness industry that long, but without a doubt the #1 goal for all females that are not athletes, or are athletes for that matter…. O.K. let me rephrases this; the #1 goal for any female that walks in through your doors is to tone up. The conversation goes something like this.
Me: What are some of your goals that you would like to accomplish?
Female: I would like to loose some weight and fat and maybe get a little stronger, but I don’t want to bulk up, I guess I would like to just tone up a little. Oh and I’d really like some abs.
Don’t get me wrong. I think this is a great list of extremely vague goals. The goal of wanting to be toned is a fine goal, if you know what it is.
For some reason the phrase “toning up” has come to be the all-encompassing phrase to sum up, “to get in better shape”.
The word tone means to be firm or to have the appearance of being firm. I used to think this was a combination of weight loss and muscle gain. As you loose fat and gain muscle mass the skin will appear to be firm or tone. This is what toning up meant to me. It’s pretty much the same thing as just getting into better shape, which is a part of the toning process.
While reading Mark Rippetoes’ book, “Practical Programming for Strength Training,” I was able to gain a better understanding of what it truly means to be tone. Here is a quote from his book, “The term muscle tone or tonus describes an electrophysiological phenomenon, a measure of ionic flow across muscle cell membranes. It can be thought of as the muscle’s readiness to do anaerobic work. The more fit the muscle, the more electrophysiological activity it exhibits at rest.”
So what does this all mean? What it means is the more your muscles are ready to lift weights the more tone you will be. So a sedentary person is going to be less tone then a person who frequently lifts weights, and a marathon runner is going to be less tone then a power lifter.
How To Get Tone
If you look at the spectrum of what will get you toned the fastest, going from least effective to most effective, it would look something like this.
Low Toning Medium Toning High Toning
Aerobic Exercise → Low Intensity → High Intensity
Weight Training Weight Training
Huh, that’s funny, if this spectrum is correct then most of the programs that are out there to get you tone buns and thighs are not the most effective means of programming. The typical commercialized toning program usually involves loads of long duration cardio or a cross between a bodybuilding program and an endurance program. This would fall somewhere between aerobic exercise and low intensity weight training, but where you really want to be is all the way over to the right.
Just to clarify, the word intensity is not describing how hard the workout is, it’s describing how heavy the weights are you are using. Doing circuit training and bootcamps can be taxing, and described as an intense workout, but this is not what is meant when talking in terms of weight training. High intensity means to be lifting heavy weights. If you want tone then you need to lift heavy.
If your goal is to have rock solid buns that resemble week old biscuits, not the best analogy moving on though, then take off the pink head band and put down the pink doubles and pick up some heavy weights. The more your muscles are ready to do work the more tone they will be. This is accomplished by strength training, not aerobic exercise or interval training but by good old strength training. Remember its 2013 and strength is the new sexy.