Want to Get Bigger? Value Strength Over Aesthetics.

Image result for heavy ass weights

I hear it all the time…”I WANT TO GET BIGGER.”

I want bigger arms…I want a bigger chest…I want my shoulders to pop out of my shirt…the list goes on.

What do most people do?

They start bodybuilding.

Newbies start by doing as many curls as they can, and make the bench press their passion. It’s arm and chest day everyday of the week, and getting enough protein becomes an obsession. Results quickly come about because of “newbie” gains.

This is encouraging and soon after their interest elevates and they start to explore methods to maximize their gains. They start to understand the importance of squeezing the muscle through the “Mind Muscle Connection” in order to  focus on the contraction of their muscles. This helps them learn movement patterns more effectively and optimize the range of motion to get more gains.

Once they start putting heavier weight on the bar they’re hooked, and the obsession to “GET BIG” ensues.

Typically this is a common theme of progression for most in lifting, especially for those starting out, whether young or old.

Bodybuilding, or hypertrophy training, is how this process of lifting to get BIG starts.

The only thing is that it starts and ends at bodybuilding. They only progress within bodybuilding for far too long, and most do not pursue other training styles or modalities that will maximize their potential.

The gym to them is squarely for bodybuilding.

Is there anything wrong with that?


And does it work to get BIG?


BUUUTTT, there is a better way and long-term vision for you to ensure you get BIG, stay BIG, and also perform BIG.

What is it?

You have to value strength, over aesthetics.

Why Strength is Superior for Mass than Bodybuilding Alone

Look at anybody you see who you consider strong and aspire to in the realm of physique. Disregarding genetics, for the moment, what do they have in common?

To start, they have a hard work ethic, drive, discipline, and passion to be the best. All ingredients for success in any endeavor, especially your fitness and physique. HOWEVER, in terms of training, there is also a common ingredient. It’s their pursuit of strength that sets them apart from others in building lean, dense muscle on their bodies.

Look at someone in the NFL, like former All-Pro safety for the Philadelphia Eagles Brian Dawkins. You see him in uniform and you know he’s jacked.

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What about the NBA, NHL, an Olympic wrestler, or even a PGA golfer like Rory McIlroy?

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Rory does not need to squat heavy. He can John Daly it up and have a beer belly. But, to perform like he wants he squats heavy. Result: strong swing and not a bad looking body.


Why are athletes like these so much bigger now more than ever?

Because they value STRENGTH as their top priority.

Strength requires emphasis on PERFORMANCE. This may be lifting a certain amount of weight, or being able to have a certain level of strength endurance over the course of a game.

If you are not strong you cannot perform like you want. Training for STRENGTH allows your body to become shaped in a way that leads to massive amounts of muscle being added to your frame to deal with the stress of training and the game to be played leading to good aesthetics and/or massive size.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I am taking the extreme of athletes at the highest level. BUT, if you want to look like someone in the NFL, or an athlete in general, why wouldn’t you practice the same sort of training they do?

It makes no sense.

Why do endless bicep curls, skull crushers, and cable flyes to get big when you can try bench pressing 350lbs and do weighted push-ups with a plate on your back for 50 reps? Which pursuit would you think would give you a massive chest and upper body like you want not to mention performance boosts?

I’d say the latter.

Bodybuilding is great and it’s something a lot of people enjoy, including myself. It often introduces us to lifting and pumping iron. But you don’t get a big chest from doing endless cable flyes alone. You get BIG because you start pressing heavy and do training that prioritizes strength performance first, and aesthetics come secondary.

Even Arnold himself benched above 3 plates and squatted 4+ plates during his day for reps along with Franco Columbo. They were bodybuilders but they were also STRONG.

They knew that to get BIG you had to put some emphasis on strength and performance.

Ronnie Coleman did bent over rows with 600-700lbs on the bar. Bodybuilder, but strong as FUARK.

He said it best…

Image result for ronnie coleman heavy weights

Bodybuilders (besides Ronnie) will disagree with me, and that’s okay. I’m not here to bash bodybuilding and not say you can’t build a massive body with lighter weights.

Yes, you can do that.

What I am here to say is that prioritizing strength first will lead to more gains in lean muscle mass than hypertrophy training alone.

It’s great to be someone like Phil Health, but if you asked him to do what he did in his collegiate basketball playing days he couldn’t now because he does not train for strength. His muscles don’t know how to perform like they used to, in a sense.

Again, nothing wrong with that.

I’d just rather be able to move while being “BIG” at the same time.

That’s what focusing on strength does — it allows you to perform better.

Strength Unlocks Your Potential

Focusing on strength over aesthetics keeps your performance high in things other than the gym. And, what is muscle good for if you can’t do something with it?

Why heavy squat or deadlift?

Because it helps you run faster and jump higher.

Don’t believe me?

Then ask Ryan Flatherty. He is the Senior Performance Directory at Nike and trainer/coach for top pro and Olympic athletes.

His whole mission is to get them to run faster. He recommends many things, but at the focus is getting strong. His central piece of that is the trap, or hex, bar deadlift. This helps people sprint faster. Period.

Listen to him speak on Tim Ferriss’ podcast and you will understand.

Sprinting is needed for sport and STRENGTH is at the center piece of that.

Side-effect: massive muscle GAINS.

But, don’t squats ruin your knees and don’t deadlifts wreck your back?

They can that’s for sure, but typically only when you haven’t dedicated time to really learn the movement and understand proper technique. From there your ego gets in the way and you have a recipe for bad knees and snap city.

Trust me. I’ve been there.

If you check out my article on “Why I stopped powerlifting” you will come to understand that I injured myself. As a result, I blamed powerlifting and didn’t take an personal accountability.

To be honest, that is probably the worst article I’ve written on this website, at least in my opinion. It’s garbage because it’s not true.

For one, I wasn’t really training for powerlifting I only thought I was. I did that type of training style, but was too naive in my pursuit believing that I didn’t need any coaching or guidance.


Two, if you learn the right form for the squat and deadlift for your body type, there is no shearing or undue stresses on your knees or back that will cause significant problems.

Lastly, like anything, powerlifting can be taken to extremes, just like bodybuilding or any other sport and cause problems.

With bodybuilding it’s body dysmorphia. With powerlifting or strongman, it’s your joints. In the NFL, it’s your joints, concussions and CTE. With MMA, it’s everything.

I can go on and on, but I think you get my point. With anything you do to an extreme you’ll get negative side-effects.

BUT, in regards to the average gym-goer who wants to get BIG and STRONG learning how to squat and deadlift will take them far.

You look at any high school football strength and conditioning program, for instance, and they are learning how to squat, deadlift, and press heavy. On my bad high school football team, there were kids who squatted 500+ pounds when they were 18…heck 16 years old! Across the country that’s the norm. Those kids are not only STRONG but JACKED too! It’s because they lift heavy ass weight.

That’s why I don’t understand why it is such a mystery?


That’s why focus FIRST on STRENGTH and the AESTHETICS will come.

Final Thoughts

Bodybuilding is great and it has it’s place just like powerlfiting or strength training does.

Should you do any to an extreme? Not necessarily, but, prioritizing your training for performance and having that performance be STRENGTH will get you far.

In this regard, lifting heavy weights is one form of strength.

In contrast, watch any gymnast and tell me they are not strong as hell. They may not lift heavy weights, but because their strength is relative and not absolute, unlike powerlifting, they get freaking strong because they need to be strong.

The common ground between the two is STRENGTH. This is true in any other sports, especially stop-and-go, like basketball, baseball, and football.

The best is perk, is that you’ll get BIG and make the most gains you can.

Unlock your potential and make STRENGTH a focus of your training and see where it goes.

If you need some help I’ve got a beginner LEAN MUSCLE BUILDING PROGRAM for you.


As always, thanks for stopping by and reading.

Until next time, be strong and be you.

(Cover Photo Credit)

(Brian Dawkins Photo)

(Rory McIlroy Photo)

(Ronnie Coleman Quote)


Ketogenic Diet Part II: 30 Days In, Feeling Good, but Losing Gains?

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I’ve done it!

30 days of a continuous ketogenic diet.

How has it been?

It’s been great! In fact, really easy, at least for me.

The results?

Mostly good, and some areas for concern.

During PART I, you will know I gave my first few days experience on the diet. I relayed the astounding positive energy difference I felt, but the drop in gym performance, particularly feeling flat and not as strong as I normally do when I was on a carb-based diet.

This was my biggest concern continuing the diet, and curious of how exactly my strength would hold up, especially since I lost weight transitioning to the diet (about 8 pounds: 188 to ~180).

Well, I’m here to inform you that I’ve lost some gains. Yes, unfortunately, some of my strength has diminished and it’s been frustrating, since I’ve been progressing steadily as the year has progressed (mostly).

(Check out my STRENGTH GAINS series in PART I and PART II).

My number ONE PRIORITY during this past month was to MAINTAIN MY STRENGTH. This was my primary goal and I attempted to follow my programming (I was on 5/3/1 during the past month). I continued everything like normal, even though my diet had changed radically.

What happened?

Struggle! That’s what happened.

Struggle to maintain my strength, and struggle to maintain my endurance training (HIIT and circuit workouts, of course). I struggled to “turn it on” when the time came to lift the weight, and felt I had to exert so much more energy than usual to complete the lift and given set(s).

BUT, you know what?

I did complete the sets and reps I needed to at my required weights and intensities. Only thing, however, it didn’t always look pretty. My form often broke down more than usual because I felt fatigued at some points, but, as I mentioned, just couldn’t “TURN IT ON” like I used to. I’m referring to that slight controlled adrenaline rush you get when you lift that provides you that extra edge to complete the set (those who lift know what I’m talking about). This was at least what occurred for the first 2 and half weeks or so.

During the 3rd and 4th weeks I started to feel more of a “PUMP” and strong again. However, this return to optimal performance occurred in spurts, from one training session to another. One session I would feel great and have little time where I felt “weak.” Others times, though, I felt mediocre in my abilities.

What was the difference?

My best guess is time of day.

I felt better during my morning training sessions rather than my afternoon training sessions, despite fasting. From a previous article you will know I follow intermittent fasting as a pattern of eating, and have had great success over the past 4 years practicing it. You might think that I would feel worse, but NO. I felt and often feel better.


I’m not completely sure, but maybe it’s my routine and my body is better prepared for the work (my guess, at least).

I did all the same things for my afternoon workouts as my morning workouts. I took my electrolyte supplements (I use this one), my pre-workout, and my enthusiasm (or lack there of, lol).

I’m not sure what it was, but it was a noticeable difference.

(NOTE: afternoon workouts have always been my least favorite. I prefer mornings and evenings if possible).

The good news is that it has gotten better as I continue on the KETO diet.

All the positive effects…

  • Significant increase in consistent energy throughout the day (no afternoon crash)
  • Better mood day-to-day (much more positive)
  • Enhanced mental performance and function (more creative and productive)
  • Clearer skin (brighter complexion)
  • Better body composition (less fat)
  • I can handle stress better (may be due to better mood, mental performance, etc.)

is just too much for me to call it “QUITS” for the KETO DIET right now. I want to keep going and will figure out the strength part of the equation as I continue.

Where there’s a will there’s a way and I’ll get to my strength goals.


As always, thanks for reading and stopping by. Comment down below with your questions, and be sure to stay tuned as I continue my KETO series and update my strength programming.

Until next time, be strong and be you.

(Photo Credit)

“Is a Calorie a Calorie?” Part II: Making Dietary Adjustments


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Thanks for tuning in for PART II of my series on “Is a Calorie a Calorie?” If you missed PART I click HERE to read it.

Knowing PART I, you will know that a main factor preventing many people from weight-loss is abnormal insulin levels — either too high or a yo-yo effect disrupting normal function of the body’s biochemistry.

As a result, what can be done to rectify these energy system malfunctions?

Several things, most of which can be done NOW and it all starts with DIET.

Diet is the First Change for a Reason

The diet is the first thing that must be audited and changed because it is the primary reason why a perons’ biochemistry — particularly their energy systems — is not operating like it should.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about refer to PART I).

For instance, someone may be consuming apple or orange fruit juice because it has vitamins, which is supposed to make it “healthy” leading to the belief that it is healthy. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Just because something has “vitamins or minerals” does not mean it is “HEALTHY.” Often times, juices have as much, or even more, calories than soda, and the calories are almost entirely SUGAR. I do not care if is packaged as “organic, non-GMO, no added-sugar, and cold pressed.” Sugar is sugar and it will do what sugar does: cause problems.

It (SUGAR disguised as juice in this scenario) causes problems because too many consume it in EXCESS. The American Heart Association, for instance, says no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) of ADDED-SUGAR for women and 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men per day. You drink one glass of juice and you’re past it.


Again, sugar causes problems because it is in almost everything you buy at the store, especially in the typical American diet of processed foods. This is why I have DIET — the foods habitually consumed daily — as the FIRST place to start in the effort to lose excess body-weight (fat) because it has the highest impact on your weight.

The way to improve the diet is to alter the diet through changing one’s perspective on food.

Please read on…

Making DIETARY Adjustments: A Diet Philosophy

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As a trainer at a commercial gym, I’ve got to experience many different walks of people. From teenagers to the senior citizens and everyone in-between.

Out of the 80+ people I’ve got to work with so far, 90% of them want to lose weight. Out of that 90%, 75% of them need to lose a significant amount of weight, which, in my opinion, I consider more than 20 pounds.

Based on these numbers, I’ve deduced that most of these wonderful people have been mislead in believing the old dogma of “eating less and exercising more equals weight-loss.”

In many instances, this is completely true! This is the story for many people, including some of the people I’ve trained, and myself making this simple adjustment.

BUT, out of that 75% I said had to lose 20 or more pounds, I’d say about 80% of those people practice “EAT LESS AND MOVE MORE” already. After 4 to 8 weeks they don’t lose a pound, OR…they lose maybe 10, even 20, and the weight-loss hits a wall. It just stops.

No matter how much they, and many others, restrict calories or workout, nothing is really getting better. For some reason the body does not want to lose weight, specifically BURN FAT, even though they have so much available. This problem must be solved and it has 100% to do with what foods they are (or not) eating.

At this point they may become discouraged, and that is when I step in and say there may be more to the story than meets the eye by introducing the underlying issues of their metabolism and energy systems not working properly.

What I suggest is that they re-haul their diet by adopting an alternative diet philosophy, such as a ketogenic, paleo, or slow-carb diet.

The reason?

Because these type of diets will aid in controlling insulin levels, which is the primary reason why fat cannot be used and lost.

Also, these diets teach people to eat cleaner, less adulterated, processed food that provide the body with increased nutrition. This means eating better quality macros (protein, fats, carbs) without an abundance of food pollution — pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, steroids, etc. — as well as getting increased fiber, probiotics, and increased vitamins and mineral quantities.

Odds are once they make the switch weight-loss will follow.

Follow Rule #1 with Your Diet

Once a diet philosophy is ADOPTED, remember RULE #1…


This means the diet philosophy picked must be followed exactly as outlined. There is no cutting corners. Remember, the diet is constructed and put together in a particular way for a reason. Making “adjustments” (a.k.a cheating) is not allowed. Sure. Have a cheat meal here and there and it won’t kill you. It’s probably going to happen at one point or another, especially early on. I’m not talking about that, and, from time to time, I encourage it. Enjoy any type of “good tasting food” once in awhile and live life fully. That said, however, what I am talking about is any adjustment that you make that occurs day after day negating the full benefits of the diet.

For example, if on a KETOGENIC diet many can get away with eating some fruit, especially berries, from time to time, particularly before a workout. The reason is because berries are lower in sugar, higher in fiber, and any sugar (carbs) you intake will be burned quickly during your workout. It won’t “stay around.” HOWEVER, if you consume some type of fruit everyday, regardless of an activity or not, it is going to be hard for your body to stay and get back into ketosis. That is the whole point of the diet — to be in ketosis to burn fat for energy. CARBS, any direct source like fruit, disrupt this. Thus, the diet must be followed EXACTLY how it is intended.


Hence, RULE #1.

Remember this for Rule #1 to be Successful

In order to satisfy RULE #1 you must have a certain attitude.

What is it?


To expand on this, it means that the “diet being followed” (keto, paleo, vegan, IIFYM, etc.) is a PERSPECTIVE on HOW TO EAT FOR A PURPOSE and not HOW LONG or necessarily WHAT TO EAT.

This is because people far too often look at the word “DIET” as a VERB.

No, no, no, no, no!!!

DIET needs to be understood as a NOUN. As a noun, diet refers to the foods you habitually (consistently) eat on a daily basis.


Understand that when a certain diet philosophy is practiced, like paleo, vegan, vegetarian, ketogenic, if it fits your macros (IIFYM), etc., that is a person’s perspective on food and what he or she thinks is best for him or her to be in their best health and/or achieve their goals (at least, at that moment).

As a result, this diet philosophy is practiced consistently over extended periods of time until the person adopts a different diet philosophy and changes their attitude and perspective on food for different goals (i.e. to lose weight or fat, or gain muscle). It’s all normal.

This is why the change to eat healthier, or losing weight, must have a long-term mindset, or VISION, because it is what will lead to positive changes to last (weight-loss, increased muscle mass, better endurance and energy, lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, etc.).

For some growing up, for example, eating sugary cereal for breakfast is normal, even considered healthy! But, maybe that person changes their perspective on food and diet and decides to have a salad for breakfast. CRAZY! (That was me!)

This is because certain things considered normal are only normal because of culture and the way of one’s upbringing surrounding food. This culture and upbringing is usually narrow-minded and only instantly satisfying (the food tastes good and it’s easy).

That is why for any change to happen a change on the perspective and attitude surrounding food must be met.


I must say that I love food, and it’s a ritual that I enjoy and look forward to daily. Whether I’m on what some call a “strict” diet or not, I love the food that I’m eating and feel even better knowing that my food is working for me and not against me (at least most times, haha).

This is why auditing the diet and making proper DIETARY (and MENTAL) adjustments is the first place to start.

I encourage you to modify your diet through changing (either opening and/or expanding) your attitude and perspective on food and what a good, wholesome, and nutritious diet can do for you. A good place to start is cutting out the junk (no McDonald’s cheeseburgers, Krispy Kreme donuts, Starbuck’s frappucinos, Doritos, etc.), and replacing it with foods in their most basic form, as a single ingredient (what you find on the perimeter of a grocery store). Making this simple adjustment is something you do right now. This will help you develop and/or improve habits and rituals that surround eating food. Adopting a diet philosophy will help in this regard and that is why I highly recommend it.

From these adjustments your attitude toward food changes and you begin to think of DIET in the noun sense. This leads to real results that last, potentially, your whole life. This is why DIET is the first thing to address in losing weight, and not exercise or anything else.

This is especially true if you have tried “everything” and can’t lose the weight. It’s likely because there is more to the story like abnormal insulin levels (for whatever reason). Sticking to the old “cut calories and exercise more” mindset becomes ineffective. Good luck with following that…

So…be open and try a diet philosophy that you connect with and give it solid time. I’d say a month at the very least.


  1. Audit and review your diet (record every last thing that you eat or drink, including your eating habits).
  2. Understand where you calories come from by knowing your macro profile (what makes up your protein, fats, and carbs and what foods they come from).
  3. Make proper adjustments (cutting the sugar, increasing fiber, drinking more water, just eating more wholesome foods, etc.).
  4. Implement those adjustments immediately and combine it with a diet philosophy (a way of eating explained earlier) that you think can most help you NOW.

Do that and you’ll have success (weight-loss, better health markers, etc.) in some way.

Stay tuned for PART III as I explore other factors that affect your weight-loss and performance in and out of the gym.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading.

Until next time, be strong and be you.

(Photo Credit 1)

(Photo Credit 2)

“Is a Calorie a Calorie?” Part I: Sugar, Simple Carbs, and Insulin

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Is a calorie a calorie?

Ask any health or fitness professional and the answer is usually a resounding “YES.”

That’s because of the first Law of Thermodynamics (conservation of energy) is stated as a concrete fact as it pertains to the human body’s use of calories from food for energy, and it’s as simple as CALORIES IN EQUALS CALORIES OUT.

In case you’re unfamiliar to the Law of Conservation of Energy, it states that “energy cannot be created nor destroyed just transformed or transferred in some way, in a closed system.”

As an equation, it can be stated as: U = Q – W.

“U” is the internal energy of the system (or body-weight), “Q” is the heat supplied by the system (the calories eaten in a day) and “W” is the work done by the system (the calories burned by your body for any given action or metabolic processes in a day).

In other words, a calorie is a calorie in our system (our bodies) and will always equal the same no matter what. For instance, if your diet consisted of 1500 calories from all simple carbs and sugar sources, like bread, potato chips, cookies, candies, etc., it would EQUAL THE SAME CALORIES AND CAUSE THE SAME EFFECT from a balanced diet of meats, veggies, good fats, and slow digesting carbs.

Using the first Law of Thermodynamics this statement is true. It doesn’t matter what food you eat as long as you’re eating the right amount of calories to either gain, lose, or maintain your body weight for a given energy expenditure. In other words, the classic saying “Calories in equals calories out” remains true based on the first Law of Thermodynamics.

Weight-gain is, essentially, the result of poor behaviors and ultimately down to “personal choice.”

On the surface, this makes complete sense, but recently there has been new evidence challenging this statement.

For instance…

What if the first Law of Thermodynamics did not fit our diet completely? What if our biological chemistry firstly dictates how the calories we consume interact with our bodies based on our current physiology, resulting in different ways certain macronutrients are processed, or expressed, in our body system?

This, I think, is a question that should be further investigated because, as a population, more people are overweight now, yet we’ve heard for years that it’s as simple as cutting your calories and exercising more.

Don’t you think if it was that easy that more of us would be in shape?

Just food for thought (pun intended).

And do not get me wrong…

I understand that this calorie balance is the first step in any weight-loss endeavor. The majority of Americans sit for longer periods of time more than ever today, and have access to an abundance of food at their fingertips. Put that together and it’s no mystery that we’re so fat.


Is there nothing more going on in this story of obesity and being overweight?

I can’t say for sure that there is or not, but given the circumstances, I think there must be more to the story then just to say, “people are lazy, cheetoh hungry slobs that just don’t care.”

I believe that may be true to a degree, BUT I think the majority of people who are overweight DO CARE about  losing weight and TRY, but do not get very far because the story of calories in equals calories out is incomplete.

Many lose some weight in the beginning with more exercise and calorie reduction in their diet, but soon after that progress stops and they are left discouraged after weeks of no progress. No matter what they try they just cannot seem to lose the weight.

Working with clients myself as a trainer, I’ve come to understand that people are complicated, and saying they should stick to the current dogma is losing credibility and traction because, quite frankly, it’s not really working anymore in TODAY’S DIET. It is failing and, hence, must be investigated.

Keeping it as simple as CALORIES IN = CALORIES OUT seems to not tell the full story in my book.

Let’s dig deeper.

How are (Simple) Carbs Used by the Body

To first understand the energy equation we must first understand how energy (Calories from food) is used and processed by the body.

To make things simple, watch the video below.

I think the video above does a great job at explaining how sugar metabolism takes place in the body and what exactly is going on. Since sugar is so abundant in our food supply today, it makes it extremely difficult to limit your intake of it, allowing excess sugar consumption to be the norm. Foods you think would not have sugar, like meat, crackers, and chips, have them. That’s why I’m always an advocate of checking the food label and making sure, first-hand, there is no question about it.

But, aren’t we told that we need carbohydrates for energy? That’s what the food pyramid tells us, right?

That is true, yes, but the food pyramid is outdated and has barely changed with the times.

The food pyramid tells us that the base — the majority of our calories — should be from carbs, including pastas, grains, and flours. If you want to become a bodybuilder or an offensive lineman then sure, that might be a good option for you. You can do that. BUT, since most of us don’t need to be 250 to 300 pounds for a job that’s probably not the best option to go with.

What we need is more balance in our diet from whole-food sources.

I’m not saying going ketogenic and cutting carbs altogether. No. But, just making simple changes by consuming more complex carbs (increasing fiber) and less simple ones (devoid of fiber) is a good start to balance blood sugar (insulin). Throw in good protein and fat sources, like quality chicken, fish, avocados, meat, and nuts, and you have a much better combination to lose weight and be healthier, with daily exercise activity added in.

If not, then the chance of flooding your body with simple carbs is high (the highly processed “American Diet”). This causes a tidal wave of INSULIN as a response, contributing to METABOLIC SYNDROME (insulin resistance) over-time, and, eventually, Type II Diabetes and other health defects.

Metabolic Syndrome and Weight

METABOLIC SYNDROME is a name given to refer to abnormal functions of your biochemistry that dictate bodily functions and processes. By definition, if you have three or more of the following criteria, you have metabolic syndrome:

  • Abdominal obesity (Waist circumference of greater than 40 inches in men, and greater than 35 inches in women)
  • Triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or greater
  • HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women
  • Systolic blood pressure (top number) of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater, or diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 85 mm Hg or greater
  • Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater

(Source: American Heart Association)

Metabolic syndrome is so BAD because it puts you at a much higher risk of developing chronic diseases, like heart disease, Type II diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, stroke, heart attack, and so forth. All of these share one things in commoninsulin resistance or abnormally high blood sugar levels. One of the main contributors to this is the abundance of SUGAR and SIMPLE CARBS in the diet. These two become such a HUGE problem because many often consume them in excess, leading to metabolic syndrome to manifest itself (weight-gain, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and high blood sugar turning into insulin resistance).

It’s because our body cannot process simple carbs and sugars in abundance, like how we eat them. It’s just doesn’t work. The body does it’s best and stores it as fat because it has nowhere else to put the remaining glucose it breaks down from the many simple carbs that are ingested.

This causes lots of visceral fat (fat around your organs) leading to dangerous health effects deteriorating our health.

If you have read doctor Robert Lustig’s book, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Chronic Disease, then you will also be familiar that obesity (what simple sugars invariably cause over-time if not kept in check) is a symptom of metabolic syndrome from a hormonal imbalance, or malfunction, in which leptin (the hormone that tells us we’re full) does not reach the hypothalamus (the command center of our appetite and how our digestive system functions) due to excess insulin being released by the body to handle the simple carbs and sugars. This causes our bodies to go in “STARVATION” mode causing much of the food we consume put towards FAT.

This explains those individuals who severely restrict their calories and exercise more do not get much anywhere because our hormones and body-chemistry will not let us use our “fat stores” for energy. If they have any success it is typically short lived, and they often gain the weight back with any change in calories and reduction in exercise once they do.

Thus, you must stop and reverse any high blood sugar (insulin) levels FIRST and then you can tackle weight-loss.

High and consistent insulin levels means you can’t burn FAT!


Making the Change to Reduce Insulin

Reducing insulin levels and making sure they remain more consistent is hard, but doable.

Yes, I understand that your habits and lifestyle play a part in that, because a diet is temporary and habits, and/or a lifestyle, are potentially life long. I’m an advocate of this, and agree 100% that you need a healthy lifestyle (like a well-balanced diet and much exercise/physical activity performed daily). That said, however, it is not the one-all be-all solution to how simple carbs, and food in general, affect us.

There are so many different moving parts to what’s going on that simplifying weight-gain to The First Law is a discredit to everyone who is over-weight. Essentially, you’re saying they want to be fat and overweight and they are just soft. Maybe to a degree, but often times they just don’t know what to do.

Believe it or not they are the majority now, or at least will be very soon, and I doubt that was their goal — TO BE FAT.


No one wants to have a higher chance of dying sooner, and developing chronic illnesses and disease that deteriorate their quality of life on a day-to-day basis where they can’t function, while straining their personal life and pocket at the same time. This causes a harsh decline in self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-efficacy, which make their life miserable

I was there myself and lost the 100 pounds and I’ve kept it off for 6 years now. I’m the extreme minority when it comes to weight-loss, so I know what the HELL I’M TALKING ABOUT.

What helped me was a curiosity to figure this weight-loss process. To feel better day-to-day and not have nagging minor ailments (acne, brain fog, lethargy, poor self confidence, to name a few), added up together, to make me miserable. And that is what I was — miserable.

I refused to be fat and that is what opened my eyes to seeking alternative solutions to the weight-loss problem. Eating better and exercising more helped me right away — absolutely. I have not said and will never say it does not. What I am saying is that to lose “all the weight you want” you have to think of diet as just “NOT A DIET.” It is a different way of thinking and living that you have to accept.

Essentially, changing your biochemistry for the better through particular environmental changes.

That is what has helped me.

This is what will help PEOPLE solve THEIR insulin equation, which will help those that seem to can’t lose any fat or weight to lose it and keep it off. Ultimately, that is what really counts — keeping the weight off.

Stay tuned for Part II where I will discuss methods, procedures, and plans to change your physical and physiological environment for the better to lose the weight.

As always, thanks for stopping by and subscribe if not already.

Please leave your comments down below because this is such an important topic.

Until next time, be strong and be you.

(Photo Credit)

I’ve Gone Ketoenic! Part I: Days 1-3

Image result for ketogenic diet

I’ve gone Ketogenic!

Yes, the high fat diet to ironically burn fat!

Or, at least, as Keto supporters claim.

Over the past few weeks I have slowly been transitioning. First, at tightening my fasting and eating windows (16 hours fasting and an 8 hour eating window), while simultaneously slowly decreasing my daily carbohydrate intake. Finally, this past Thursday (August 10, 2017), I made the switch to a full Ketogenic diet and I am now on the fourth day (August 13, 2017).

For a lot of people, a ketogenic diet means different specific macronutrient splits. For me, I consider Keto the following macro splits of your total daily caloric intake:

  • Fats = 70-75%
  • Protein = 20-25%
  • Carbs = 5-10%

Sure, some claim to eat as much as 80% plus of fats with 15% protein, and <5% carbs. Regardless, Keto is high fat, and ultra low carb (30 to 50 grams a day, sometimes up to a 100, depending on the person).

Over the past weeks, I have done tons of research, including: listening to podcasts with Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Dominic D’Agostino, scouring the web with contrasting sources on what’s generally good and bad, what is allowed and what is not, how to best workout on a keto diet, and tips to avoid the “Keto Flu”. I have done this in an effort to experience a new way of dieting, lose excess body-fat — I’M STARTING THIS AT 183.5LBS AT ~13.5% BF — while serving as a guinea pig for my clients and anybody else who seeks weight and fat-loss.

So far, so good.

I’ll sum up my first 3 days below.

Keto Day 1

My first day of Keto actually felt great!

My first and last meal of the day were the same and I had the first one around 11:30 A.M. after a ~15 hour fast. Below is the breakdown:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 turkey sausage
  • A few cups of sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms, cooked in Kerrygold grass-fed butter
  • A large handful of mixed greens with some organic white cheddar cheese and no sugar balsamic vinaigrette
  • A dollop of chipotle mayonnaise.

Below is the macro summary using my FitBit app.

As you can see, quite a bit of calories.

After my meal, I did some work and then headed to the gym to get my workout in. My first workout on keto did not feel too bad. I actually felt pretty good! Luckily, it was my de-load week, which suits the diet transition, since it’ll take some time to adapt to it.

Of course, I’m sure I was going through my glycogen stores, since my type of workouts (powerlifting and HIIT). Either way, felt good, especially after.

What was striking to me was the mental clarity after my workout. It was something that I haven’t experienced in a long time. There was no mental fog that I often experience, and my mood and mental focus were greatly enhanced. I almost got high on the feeling, in fact.

This is something that has been consistent starting out — my energy levels.

At this point, I’m excited, but trying not to go overboard (as you will see).

Below are my total macros for Keto Day 1:

Day 2 of Keto

Day 2 was much different than my first day on keto.

First off, my sleep wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. I had to wake up a couple times to pee, and that decreased the quality of sleep because I had trouble falling back asleep (I rarely wake up sleeping).

I woke up (around 6:00 A.M.), had a client in the morning, and then had my training after (around 8:30 A.M.). Going into my workout I made sure to take my SODIUM, MAGNESIUM, AND POTASSIUM electrolyte supplement beforehand, and decided to have my pre-workout (0 carbs, 0 sugar) and BCAA supplement (0 carbs, 0 sugar).

Yes, I know that there are many debating thoughts regarding whether or not BCAAs can kick you out of ketosis, in addition to some artificial sweeteners (like ace-K, and sucralose). I didn’t get a full consensus that it would kick you out (the fear it might raise insulin levels), so I decided to take it anyway. What the hell, right!?

I felt okay, especially considering I didn’t get the greatest sleep, and felt confident to lift heavy that day, despite it being my de-load week. I did squats and went all the way up to 385, my current max. I didn’t get it, needed a spot, but I consider that mainly psychological since I kind of psyched myself out.

That was most of my workout, in addition to a rehab shoulder routine I did for my right shoulder complex (dealing with some AC joint trouble).

After, I had a similar meal the day before, but with turkey meat and eggs (2 of my meals).

For my final meal I had broccoli and cauliflower grilled in a pan with salt and butter.

Below are my final macros for the day:

That wraps up day 2.


Keto Day 3

Day 3 of Keto was up and down.

First, a little down (possibly some “Keto Flu” symptoms), and then better as the day went on, with more consistent energy levels.

I did not workout this day, so I did not eat as many macros as I did the past 2 days.

Below are my ending macro splits (I ate the same meals from day 1, but I added a different type of sausage and some avocado).

3 Day Summary

My first 3 days on Keto were solid, in opinion.

Nothing extraordinary yet, but I’m not feeling terrible, like I’ve read and heard many people say. Today is day four and it’s going okay. Could have been better because I did not eat right after my morning workout (fasted), but okay nonetheless.

My muscles feel “deflated”, but things are tightening at the same time, especially the waist. I like this feeling, but the most important thing for me is to keep my powerlifting and overall fitness performance high. I love HIIT and powerlifting and, as far as what I’ve studied, it’s hard to perform these activities while on a keto diet (because your body prefers glucose). This is MOST important because I want to optimize my performance and keep/add my strength. Hard I know, but I’ll be pushing it at the same time and trying to maximize my recovery potential.

We will see, but I’m just taking this day-by-day and experimenting like everyone who first starts to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading.

If you have any questions or have some advice please let me know in the comments below!!!

Stay tuned for my next post as I finish my first week.

Until next time, be strong and be you!

(Photo Credit)

Build a Big, Strong Back for a Big Chest and Everything Else.

Image result for matt wenning powercast

I just finished listening to Mark Bell’s PowerCast, with guest Matt Wenning, and he was talking about the importance of back training.

Matt (in Part I and Part II) goes on to say that training the back is by far the most important thing (I’m paraphrasing here) to do if you want to protect your shoulders, be strong as hell, and, of course, bench big and support all your other lifts.

Matt himself, is a 600 plus pound bencher and a freaking BEAST!

The reason is because he works on his back A LOT and that’s one of the primary reasons he is strong as FUARK and has good shoulder health, even benching at such a high weight. He says he does about double or more of the work on his back than he does on the front. He will fatigue himself first with rows and pulls first to warm-up the back and then tackle the bench after. If he ever feels his chest hurt, you better believe he is going to destroy his back to offset that tension in his chest.

It’s because Matt clearly understands that keeping a strong body is key for long-term success, in lifting, athletics, and general health. A key factor in that is a strong back. Without it you’re asking for trouble with your shoulders, and injuries are knocking at your door. Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of shoulder problems, and I’m dealing with one now right now!

That’s why hitting the back is essential, especially if you want a big chest.

The back is your FOUNDATION for any pressing like the bench press, and if you don’t have a solid foundation everything else suffers.

Continuing to do the bench press, cable flyes, and pec deck without ample back work is a recipe for disaster. It will ruin the shoulders and cripple posture, and, ultimately, wreak the pursuit of that BIG CHEST (especially with incorrect technique that fails to incorporate the back).

Remember, to have the body we want we need LONGEVITY in the sport of lifting and strength training, and using improper training (over-doing it with excessive pressing) will cause that.

Just think about all the chest exercises and what it causes.

It puts the body into a position that tends to be the norm nowadays: shoulders internally rotated, upper back rounded, with a forward head. Almost all take this position when we sit, eat, and work at one point, and most are doing nothing to correct or off-balance this. When a lot of horizontal pressing (bench press) and shoulder adduction (cable flyes) is practiced it exacerbates the problem and MAKES THE BACK WEAK!


This is what excessive pressing and anterior work causes, resulting in your back muscles being under-worked and overly stretched, making them weak and not capable of working like they should. Essentially, they “turn off” so to speak. This causes a host of shoulder and upper back problems, which has ripple effects to other parts of the body (think links in a chain) because compensations will be made in other movements to perform them (e.g., not being able to do a squat or deadlift with good posture with a neutral spine).

That’s why we got to hit the back…A LOT!

Back Training

Image result for dorian yates back

We’ve established that training the back is important, but how should we go about it?

There are many ways, but you have to got to get really good at rowing and pulling and being able to feel your back “turn-on” and work.

That’s what Dorian Yates (pictured above) did to help him win 6 consecutive Mr. Olympia contests. He worked on his back and made the reverse barbell row famous. He learned how to feel his back work and do it masterfully.

I’m sure if you ask Yates and others like him, they will often say that when someone may work on the back they have poor posture and lack overall strength to get into a position where their shoulders are retracted down and their chest elevates and feel their back working. You have got to be able to master this position and understand that feeling.

When you actively engage the back you retract the shoulders down, which allows the back to “turn on” so to speak. That’s why if you do a bench press THE RIGHT WAY you retract the shoulders down into the bench to anchor your upper body, while actively thinking about bending the bar as you go down to utilize the back as an active mover when you press with your lats.


That’s why you must master the UNIVERSAL POSITION — shoulders retracted down, pinched together, causing your chest to get “BIG” or elevate.

Watch any powerlifter get into position for a bench press and you’ll see this in action. They have an arch in their lower back (sometimes extreme) to get the best leverage they can by retracting the shoulders down. This is essential to actively engage the back and protect the shoulders.

This is also essential for all the main lifts. We bench on our back; we squat with the bar on our back; and the back must be strong to deadlift. It’s practically the center of everything performed, so it must be strong.

BUT, if you do too much pressing this is extremely hard to do and everything else suffers. You will not be as strong as you can be if you have a weak(er) back compared to your front (chest, front deltoids, etc.).

Guys want a good chest, like Arnold or Yates, but without the foundation — THE BACK — it is not going to happen. If it does you’ll be handicapped before you know it, meaning you won’t have full range of motion and function of your body.

Get good at rows, pulls, pull-ups/chin-ups, farmer walks/carries, and lock in your technique with the deadlift and squat and you’ll be on your path to a STRONG ASS BACK.

Even Arnold made sure to hit the back when he hit the chest. Just look at his workout below.

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Now that you know go do it!

As always, thanks for reading and stopping by. If not a subscriber please subscribe.

Until next time, be strong and be you.


Photo Credit:

(Arnolds Chest/Back Workout)

CONDITIONING for Strength and Muscle Gains


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We’re all going to get tired when we train, but mitigating that sense of tiredness or fatigue goes a long way.

It could mean doing that extra set or rep in order to hit your numbers for the day ,without full exhaustion. This leads to more quality reps and work done, which leads to gains; not to mention reducing the chance for injury.

This is where CONDITIONING comes into play.

The better condition we are in, the more quality work we can do, and the more stress and work our bodies can handle.


Think about it like this…

Image result for bottle of water

Imagine a bottle of water as your energy storage. Whenever you do work some of that water is poured out of the bottle. The less water you have in the bottle the less energy you have to do the work you need to do.

Now, imagine that the wider the water opening the faster flow of energy that takes place. In other words, the bigger the opening (lid of the bottle) the faster our energy is drained.  Based on that, what if there was  a way to manage the flow of your energy better, by changing the size of the lid where the water flows out?

Enter conditioning!

Conditioning will help us use our energy more efficiently and effectively because our energy won’t be drained as soon as things get tough. Essentially, instead of a Gatorade-like bottle (with a big opening) we will have a smaller lid (think squirt bottle) that will manage the flow of our energy better. This will cause less energy drainage, while sharpening our energy flow into something more concentrated making us have the potential to do more meaningful work.

So, what, how, when do you do conditioning?

Let’s break it down.

What is Conditioning

In my own words…

CONDITIONING is anything that gets your heart rate and blood pumping. Essentially, putting your cardio and body to work, typically with demanding bodily movements or activities.

This goes beyond just running or jogging. It’s more of getting a task or activity done.


  • Circuits/Interval training (HIIT)
  • Giant sets
  • Super sets
  • Functional movements: tire flips, farmer walks, sprints, shuttles, sled/prowlers, circuits, etc.

Basically, anything that will challenge your endurance — your ability to perform at a sustained level of strength over-time. It will also work on your aerobic and anaerobic capacity to do work, leading to greater general fitness levels.

The great thing is that conditioning, and the tools/implements you use to accomplish this, will add excitement to your training routine, beyond just going on the treadmill or elliptical for 20 to 30 minutes at “x speed” and “x % of incline”.

There’s benefit beyond just lifting that will carry over into the real-world and sport.

What Are the Benefits?

The benefits are many and you could go on and on.

What first comes to my mind is that it will aid your effort to lift more weight, handle more work load and volume, while helping you recover faster between your sets and workouts over-time.

Once you start conditioning, it may INITIALLY impact your “STRENGTH” or “STRENGTH GAINS” negatively (because it will shock your body to a degree), but LONG-TERM it will pay dividends and your strength will come back soon after.


  • General cardio-respiratory health.
  • Support a healthy body composition (muscle to fat ratio) and weight.
  • Help you recover better.
  • Helps boost your metabolism throughout the day.
  • Increase strength potential because you can handle more work capacity (increased sets/reps (volume), weight, or decrease resting time, etc.).
  • Make your workouts more efficient by doing your work in less time.
  • Add excitement beyond the typical training style you may be following for strength and muscle building.

For these reasons and more make conditioning a key part of your training program.

How to Incorporate and Structure Your Conditioning

Conditioning does not have to be complicated.

It could be as simple as resting a shorter time between sets, doing super or giant-sets,  performing circuits (HIIT: high intensity interval training), and the use of conditioning tools (battle ropes, sleds/prowlers, stairs, sprints, etc.), into your workout/training routine allowing your body to increase its work capacity (more sets, reps, and weight).

All these things allow for PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD leading to more gains (more lean muscle mass, increased strength, increased endurance, increased athleticism, increased general health).

In addition, I think how you incorporate conditioning is more important than what you use to condition with — at least most times. For instance, you could  use your body and run hill sprints until you drop. That said, however, when and how you incorporate that into your training routine matters more. It matters because if performed too much or at too high intensity for too long, it can negatively impact your main training goal (building strength, increasing lean muscle mass, etc.). If done correctly however, there should be no problem.

This will mater based on the stage of your training, as in hypertrophy, general strength, power, etc. If you’re in a hypertrophy stage, for instance, it might be best to do moderate conditioning every-time you workout. Yes, you’ll be doing a lot of volume, but since the intensity of the exercises is at a lower intensity, you should be able to handle some sled pushes, stairs, sprints, battle ropes, tire flips, and the like.

Furthermore, it is important to do some form of conditioning that incorporates what you trained for that day. For example, if you did legs, then some sled pushes or sprints will suffice. For upper body, battle ropes are great or some form of body weight exercises in circuits, like push-ups, to pull-ups, to dips tabata style. Takeaway, be smart but work hard.

Guidelines for Conditioning

Since we’ve went through why conditioning is important, it is time to make sure you follow some good practices to make the most of it.


  1. Determine the intensity (how hard you exert yourself) for your conditioning based on what stage of your training cycle you’re in (hypertrophy, strength, power, active recovery/de-load, etc.). Generally speaking…
    • Hypertrophy = moderate to high intensity
    • General Strength = low to moderate intensity
    • Power = moderate to high intensity
  2. Pair conditioning exercises and activities that relate closely to what you worked on for that day (upper, lower, core, full body, etc.) with an appropriate tool(s) or implement.
    • If you did upper body a good tool might be battle ropes or a body-weight circuit.
    • If you did lower body a good tool might be sled pushes or running stairs.
    • Pick something that makes sense!
  3. Spend an adequate time, but don’t go overboard and kill yourself to exhaustion.
    • There’s a fine balance, and you have to find it
    • A good rule of thumb is when you feel like you can’t do anymore do another set or round and take it from there.
  4. A good place to incorporate conditioning is toward the end (sometimes start) of your workouts for about 10 to 15 minutes
    • The less frequent you condition (1 to 2 times of your total workouts/week), the greater the intensity and/or duration.
    • Vice versa, for the opposite. Higher frequency (3 to 4 times of your total workouts/week) results in lesser intensity and duration.
    • Total conditioning days should be at least 2-3 times per week for a significant benefit over-time.
  5. Have 1 Circuit/Conditioning day be itself.
    • Allows you to put what you train into use.
    • This workout is typically shorter than your normal training days, lasting about ~30 total minutes.
    • Be creative with your circuit/conditioning day with unique tools/implements like: tires, battle ropes, prowlers, farmer walks, yoke carry, sprints, shuttles, challenge workouts, etc.
    • Can be used as an active recovery day or a sport specific activity day.

Follow these 5 guidelines and it will help you lock up your conditioning for your training, regardless if you’re training for strength, powerlifting, or bodybuilding.

Example Circuit/Conditioning Day

To give you guys an example of what a circuit/conditioning might look like I’ll give you an example of my own.

I have a full day for circuit training, and I highly encourage it because it’s a way to put everything you’ve been working on for the week in action.

From workout challenges, to creative circuits you make up on the fly with what you have available to you, it’s a great way to challenge yourself.

It will force you to adapt to unfamiliar stimulus with “functional based movements” (i.e. flipping a tire, or a prowler push), as well as stimulate fat burning and boost your metabolism.

For me, Sundays are typically my circuit days, and here is a workout that I recently made up that I really liked (I like it after it was done, not particularly during, haha).

Below is my HIIT workout:



HIIT Circuit


Rounds Weight/Resistance Reps/Dist/Time


1.       KB Swings

All rounds

52.9lbs (24 kg)


60-90 seconds

2.       KB Clean & Jerk

Rounds 1-2

52.9lbs (24 kg)


3.       Sled push

Rounds 3-8

90lbs (weight on sled)


4.       Body Squats

Rounds 6-8



5.       Push-ups

All Rounds



6.       Battle Ropes

All rounds


20 seconds

There you have it!

Nothing too complicated; just a workout that demands your focus and commitment to get it done.

And, if you notice, the whole workout is only 30 minutes.

If you’re doing a circuit-conditioning day correctly, you will be done in 20 to 30 minutes on average. Nothing more and nothing less. The reason is that you are constantly working for the whole time, and not taking minutes of rest between sets or rounds, like normal workouts call for.

(Click HERE for another circuit that will kick your ass in 20 minutes).

Regardless, make it a point to have one circuit day per week, if not every other week.


Conditioning is an integral part of your training, and is vital to perform in some way, as you progress in your strength or muscle building training. The benefits are numerous, and there is no replacement. From fat loss to significantly increasing your anaerobic and aerobic potential to help with gains, you HAVE TO DO IT in some way.


Let me know what you do in the comments, and we can bounce more ideas around.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and subscribe if not a subscriber.

Until next time, be strong and be you.


(Photo Credit)