Wanting GAINS in and out of the GYM for the New Year? Fix This and You Can.

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It’s 2018 and here we go again.

New Year’s resolutions, goals, and aspirations for a better you.

It’s a little annoying since it happens every year, and all the new people crowding my gym making it hard for me to get my pump on; but, I do love the premise behind it.

I love it because it is a time where almost everyone reflects on the year they just had, so they can do better in the new one about to happen. It’s where everyone is all about self-improvement, whether they like that sort of thing or not, which makes me excited because that’s what I believe we should all be doing — progressing and improving to do life better, or MAKING GAINS.

No more is this more noticeable than in the realm of FITNESS.

(Click HERE for making better goals and HERE for what type of goals are superior).

As a personal trainer, I see many people come and go after high hopes with motivation to lose weight, pack on the muscle, and look good. They’re gun-ho in the beginning, but quickly fizzle out within 2 to 4 weeks. Usually, I can tell with high accuracy whether or not someone will really stick with their “resolution”  and change their life for the better in the first few moments of meeting them.

WHY?

Because I can read people and pick up on their level of internal commitment to the process that dictates their success.

It’s great to have external, or extrinsic, motivation to get you going, but without intrinsic motivation, drive, and commitment to something, especially your willingness to do the things necessary to drop fat and add lean muscle to your body, there’s no point. You have got to want to do it because that where your success will happen.

Where exactly?

YOUR DAILY ROUTINE.

THE DAILY ROUTINE THAT YOU HAVE, OR DON’T HAVE, WILL DICTATE ANY RESOLUTION, GOAL, OR VISION YOU HAVE FOR YOURSELF.

If you are familiar with this it is related to something called the “COMPOUND EFFECT”. It says that the daily actions you take, especially those that happen everyday without little thought, add up over-time giving you some sort of result. That could be a positive result or negative, but a result nonetheless.

For example, if you have two people with one drinking a can of Coke every night and one who does not, all things being equal, the COKE drinker will be 15 to 20 pounds heavier in a years time. That’s the power of the compound effect.

Your daily routine will allow you to unlock your success that you have always been wanting to have, especially dropping those “LBs” or anything else. For myself, I used much of 2017 to experiment with powerlifting. In this endeavour I have come to understand, even more, that, yet again, how true this COMPOUND EFFECT is in my daily routine.

My daily rituals and habits of meal prep, consistent sleeping schedules, stretching, and training days has helped me  increase my squat and deadlift by 50lbs while at the same weight in a years time*. That does not sound like much, but given it is more than I would ever thought of when I first started lifting and taking this seriously, I’d say it’s pretty good.

(*Starting squat 355. Ending squat 405. Starting deadlift 455. Ending Deadlift 500 — all RAW at 183lbs body-weight).

Now, imagine you adding an extra 50lbs to any lift you do, or dropping 50lbs to lean out and have your muscles start bursting out of your skin? I’d say you would be pretty dang happy about that, right?

Of course, you would.

The thing is is that we can’t really see any of these mundane rituals that we do (or not do) give us much return until long after we do them. Only then, do far too often of us regret and say something like, “If I only have stuck with it I might be better off.”

That’s why your New Year’s Resolution should be FIXING YOUR DAILY ROUTINE.

Your daily routine is like interest that pays you back exponentially the more time goes on. For us to see that positive return we have got to make it a priority, so we see those positive results we seek come to fruition. Thus, COMMIT to the routine and the routine will give you much of what you want.

It may sound too simple or too boring, but are results boring? No they are not. They are awesome. We all want results, and what will give you results? Consistent and purposeful action found in your daily routine.

So, what makes a good routine, fitness or not?

Below are some thoughts.

  • Have a consistent sleep and wake time
  • Prepare your food for the day
  • Write out when you will exercise and what you will do each day
  • Spend 5 minutes the night before or morning of prioritizing your most important tasks of the day
  • Take a minute to stretch 
  • Have a moment of silent time to pray and/or give thanks

You do those daily actions everyday…for a year…and I GUARANTEE that you will have at least some success you could not have thought you would have before in the things you want to do.

From there keep feeding off the momentum you create, and continually refine your routine and the power of belief in yourself that you can lift that weight, lose those pounds, or do whatever else you intend.

Let’s go do it.

(Photo Credit)

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“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.

NOT GOOD.

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…

FOLLOW THE DIET EXACTLY AS INTENDED.

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.

NO EXCUSES.

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?

UNDERSTANDING THAT A DIET PHILOSOPHY IS A TYPE OF PERSPECTIVE ON FOOD.

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.

THIS IS WHAT A DIET IS.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Need help? PRACTICE THESE STEPS:

  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)

A Message to My Clients (And All Who Workout)

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Dear Amazing Person,

You’re here or you’ve been here for a time. How’s it been so far? Think about it for a minute, and reflect on the journey that has lead you to this point, and what progress you have or have not had, thus far. Are you pleased with the progress, or find yourself disappointed? Maybe both?

Answer truthfully.

Based on your answer, write down what you have done good and what you can do better. It could be three things, or five. Write down some notes on what you have done, and what matters to you and where you want to go.

And, let’s stop for a minute. Let’s think about where you want to go. What is your plan? What is your purpose coming to the gym, being physically active, and the ultimate vision you see for yourself in your health, and where working out and training fits in. Basically, think about your why, and why you are doing this and going through this process.

If it’s just to have a good workout that makes you sweat then you are missing the BIGGER picture. Sure, a workout that makes you sweat a lot, and sore is a good feeling to have. You know what is also a good feeling? Sustained progress over time that leads to BIG changes.

In our microwave society, everything has a short-term mindset and attention span causing us to lose sight of the bigger picture of what our full potential may be. Your health is one of those “BIGGER PICTURE” things. Some would argue, maybe the most important. If we don’t have our health then what do we have? Problems. That is what we have. Chronic health impairments that plague our day-to-day lives.

Dramatic? Yes, to a degree, but can we really enjoy life and everything it brings if we are always tired, sick, and overweight? To a point, yes, but nowhere near to its fullest potential if we are healthy. Health brings clarity, energy, hunger, and passion that fills our life with great opportunity to enjoy what it can offer. When we neglect our health and become burdened with excess stress it makes it hard to accomplish. Thus, we must never neglect our bodies, and let it take a backseat because our lives are “busy.”

Everyone’s life is busy, and we all have problems. Using that as an excuse to not show up is, quite frankly, unacceptable. Improvements and the results you want, like weight and fat loss, muscle gain, increased functionality of your body, elevated vitality, etc., don’t come with excuses. They disappear when you use them. Thus, finding ways to PRIORITIZE your health, and develop disciplines and good habits that make health an integral part of your life and something you never forget is paramount.

It is an absolute necessity.

Next time you think about not going to the gym, or coming to a session, because work was hard, you feel tired, parts of your body are beat up, so what? Who cares? No one does besides you. That’s why you need to come anyway. If you went to the gym only when you felt good it wouldn’t be much, if at all. That is why you just have to show up. Show up because it’s a chance to improve you and your health.

The gym is one of the few places where it is encouraged to do better and become better openly. You do not have to hide it, and you should never forget that. The gym is your place to grow, and a tool to become a better you, and should not be thought of as just a place to “sweat” and “workout”. If that is your mentality you will get mediocre results. If you want extraordinary results, for you, elevate your mindset, and expand it by creating a vision for yourself and where you want to go. Going to the gym and working out is a core component of this physical fitness vision, but not a mutually exclusive activity. It serves the larger picture for you in this process.

Do you have to do cardio…do you have to lift weights…do you have to stretch? Yes. Yes, you do. If you want to have a strong body capable of all physical movements, with no, or little, impingement, impairment, or defect then the answer is “yes.” You have to do all those things, and more, in some way, and find what works for you and what gets you excited. This will make physical fitness at the forefront of your thoughts and not an afterthought.

Motivation certainly helps in this process, but is not a requirement, at all times.

What is THE requirement is a COMMITMENT to a better you and the process of betterment through fitness to improve physical health.

It is because it is more than physical. It is mental, and, even, spiritual. You should be able to test and connect with yourself, and discover new things about you that lead to a better you, during this ever adapting and evolving training process, no matter how small the improvements or progress that happens.

Next time you think about not showing up ask yourself how is that (not showing up) helping me?

Answer is it’s not. You cannot get better and move closer toward your goals if you do not show up, and put in the work. It is impossible. There is no magic pill, or formula, and never will be. Thus, might as well accept the process and the work you’ll have to do to achieve the greater vision you have for yourself. Remember, you cannot be disappointed in something that you did not work for.

Accept responsibility and your current circumstances and it will make a huge difference at moving forward and getting into better shape. You can get the health you want it will just take a dedicated and consistent work ethic, and some time. Coming to the gym is a healthy habit of the larger picture for achieving the level of shape and health you want. Consistently not showing up goes against this and you move further away from your ideal health for yourself.

Show up, get better, and use every little improvement as momentum to keep driving you forward. This, over time, will give you the results you’re looking for (or damn close to it).

Thanks for reading.

Best Regards,

Cody

 

(Photo Credit)

Stop Making EXCUSES! JUST SHOW UP! (RANT)

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“EXCUSES EQUALS NON-PERFORMANCE.”

That is what my Mom told me when I was a kid when I didn’t do my homework.

That same principle applies to working out and eating right to be in the shape you want.

EXCUSES = NON-PERFORMANCE

Simple.

Excuses kill your progress and they will only stop your fitness goals from happening: losing weight, gaining muscle, building endurance, improving aesthetics, increasing body mobility and functionality, etc.

This is why you have to be real with yourself about things by setting clear priorities, being self-disciplined, and honest with yourself and the effort that you are putting in.

I’m not here to be Tony Robins and give you the motivational “pep talk” to get you off your ass and in the gym.

What I am saying is that EXCUSES KILL the shape and level of health you want to be in.

Period.

Saying things like…

  • I’m too tried
  • I had to work late
  • I had to do this thing for my friend
  • I’m too sore
  • I had to run errands
  • I haven’t ate today

…are all excuses that lead to no progress and no results.

And, look. I get it. Sometimes things do come up that take precedent over working out or training, and you can’t go to the gym and get your work in. I’m not talking about those things because most of those things that do take precedent, like a family emergency, a car breaking down, an injury, the storm of the century, etc., rarely come up.

What I am talking about are your EVERYDAY EXCUSES that you tell yourself to make you believe that it is “OKAY” not to go to the gym or just be physically active.

THIS IS THE PROBLEM.

This “PUTTING THINGS OFF” because of A, B, or C only leads to more and more of not doing instead of doing.

THIS LEADS TO POOR HABITS AND DISCIPLINE THAT MAKE CONSISTENCY – THE NUMBER 1 INGREDIENT FOR HEALTH AND FITNESS – ELUSIVE.

This results in no positive change and progress to achieve the health and fitness you want.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TIME MAKE TIME.

Cut the goofing off, looking at social media, watching TV, or whatever else you do that makes you procrastinate, and not workout and get the work that you need to get in done.

Structure your day better by organizing and prioritizing what matters and what doesn’t. Block out a specific time that you need to work out. If you’re really busy change your workout routine to circuits to be more efficient with your time instead of having 3 hour long workouts. Begin prepping your meals for the day, or week, to stop you from eating-out several times a week to avoid poor decisions and decision fatigue.

You have got to PRIORITIZE things in your life that lead to GOOD LIFESTYLE HABITS that make decisions like working out or eating healthy a “NO-BRAINER” decision because it’s built into your everyday lifestyle.

Ultimately, if our bodies do not function like they should everything in our life starts to break down. If you have a job that makes you work 12 hour days and exhausts you maybe that is not for you. Or, maybe you need to be more disciplined with your time and cut out the nonsense so you have time to workout and eat healthy. Again, prioritizing and organizing is what matters, and it starts by cutting out the excuses.

We only have one body, so why not optimize our body to the best of our abilities to be in good health and shape that we want? There is no reason not to, so you have got to MAKE HEALTH A PRIORITY.

This will help our day-to-day energy levels, maintaining a healthy weight and metabolism, and decrease our risk of developing chronic diseases when we make OUR HEALTH a priority instead of an afterthought.

Do what you need to do, and get it done.

You can make all the excuses in the world, but, at the end of the day, if you do not put in the work that you need to do no results and progress will come.

  • The weight you want to lose will not happen.
  • The muscle you want to put on will not be there.
  • The level of shape and health that you are seeking will not be there.

To perform at our best our body demands good physical health. Pulling all-nighters and sacrificing sleep does not equal optimal performance. Neither does choosing fast-food because it is convenient.

And, listen…

I’m not saying you cannot get the work that you need to get in when you are tired or if you’re surviving on a Ramen noodle diet. Based on the society we live in and lifestyles most of us have — fast-paced with a short attention span causing poor sleep, high stress, and unhealthy food — things like that become “normal”. What I am saying, however, is that being consistently tired, not eating right and not being physically active is going to catch up to you eventually, and your body will suffer for it (me included).

For example, you may notice when your health starts to break-down you begin to experience abnormal things, such as brain fog, digestive issues, poor complexion, frequent colds/runny nose, weight-gain, muscle atrophy, and a host of other minor ailments. If not addressed and action taken to resolve or mitigate these issues, it will likely lead to significant chronic diseases, such as Type II diabetes, heart disease, digestive disorders, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, etc., quicker.

HOW DO WE STOP THAT?

We stop these things from happening by doing our best to minimize things that take away from our health as much as possible, and do things that build us up as much as possible.

It all begins by leaving the excuses behind.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been there myself, and like everyone, struggle with issues that claw away at my health everyday. At one time, being severely overweight, I know it even more. I made all the excuses, and avoided anything fitness or diet related for the longest time. Mostly, because I was intimidated by the process of change, causing great resistance. But, once I started to be honest with myself and take small steps forward and accept the situation I was in things began to get better.

It did not happen overnight, but the more and more I showed up and cut the excuses the more successful I became at losing weight, gaining muscle, and improving my overall physical health.

It’s cliché, but half the battle is showing up.

You have JUST got to show-up and good things will happen. If you know you need to go to the gym and do not feel like it do it anyway. Once you get your body warmed-up and going you will start to feel good.

I can say confidently that the best workouts I have had have been times where I did not feel like working out. What I did do is show up, and once I got started I hit my flow and crushed what I needed to do. That is why you need to stop making excuses.

In my opinion, you do not need motivation, especially to get started.

What you need is ACTION and the motivation will come after, and carry you far forward thereafter, breeding motivation to go harder and do better.

JUST SHOW UP and STOP THE EXCUSES.

Done.

(Photo Credit)

Breaking Strength Plateaus: The Mental

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There’s a saying in the Navy Seals that you can do 20 times what you think you think your body can do. From the BUDs training they go through it upholds its truth.

Now, lifting heavy weights and becoming a Navy Seal are two totally completely different things (becoming a Navy Seal is by FAR much more intense and difficult to do, I understand!), BUT…the one transfer to lifting is the mindset of pushing through of what you think your body can do, as you start to progress and seek to lift heavier weight.

For example, lifting heavier weights, from my experience, has had more mental plateaus and turmoil than my body. Yes, I have had some significant injuries, which probably play a factor in that mindset to lift heavier weights, but for the most part, during my lifting career, many of the plateaus I experienced were more mental than physical.

For example, I remember when I first wanted to squat 315, and I put those three 45 pound plates on the barbell my attitude changed. First, I was confident, then when I saw the barbell loaded up I got nervous. I was anxious and had self-doubt if I could even do it, even when 275 and 295 before went up like nothing.

This has been a common experience for me in my lifting career, especially when I set a new PR goal in any lift. What happens is that there is some emotional barrier in my subconscious regarding that PR goal that makes it hard when I start to train, and especially when it is time to lift it.

I know if I do an okay job at programming, do my best to train with intensity, and do all things to be consistent when training at and away from the gym I know I can get there. The issue, for me, is believing I can, and pushing through that mental plateau of what I think I can do.

There is no doubt that you have to have your body prepared, in good shape, and technique down to lift heavy weight. But, if that mental baggage of whether you think  you can do it or not is with you, you are going to have a lot of trouble getting there, if at all. This is especially true if you’ve been a the same weights for what seems like the longest time. You have to turn that switch, and get comfortable at being uncomfortable.

For example, one of my goals is to deadlift 500 pounds, and I just recently sumo deadlifted 465 beltless. That success is great, but I really have to get after it every time now because I am going to start to train at weights I thought were really heavy, but are now not heavy like they once were.

Essentially, I, and you, have to get more comfortable at lifting heavier weights as the “NEW NORMAL”.

It is important to understand that in our progression weights will not feel so monumental anymore, and that is normal. That is a good thing. That means you and I are getting stronger, and progressing like we hope and should, given the effort and investment put in.

What I believe we have to do is attack the weight. Attack the weight and give it your all, and leave the excuses behind. If you are truly injured then wait another day. BUT, if you are good attack those damn weights, and when it’s your time to do a maximal lift, lift that shit or die trying (Elliott Hulse reference)!

Own the weight, and go for it. Whether you succeed or you fail is not the point. You have just got to attack.

In this process, you will be in a better position to break down your own mental barriers if you are on the attack. As you start to do so, you’ll gain confidence in future lifts, and be in a better position to succeed. It will take time, but if you attack the weight and visualize yourself performing it with success you will make lifting heavier a reality and break plateaus.

Let’s break ’em!

 

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

Until next time, be strong and be you.

 

(Photo Credit)

Free Strength and Muscle Building Program and an Outline to Smash Your Strength Goals

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In the past 6 months, I have really tried to be much more methodical and organized in my approach to get stronger and lift more weight.

Before then, all I really tried to do was lift heavy with no particular approach, and was haphazardly moving from one programming style, like 5×5 or 5-3-1, to the next, and hoping to hit a goal in any one of the big lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press). It had some good results for awhile, but I noticed that I was hitting plateaus like crazy, and finding it hard to get stronger, despite battling injuries for the past few years.

As a result, I figured there had to be a better way, so I really sat down and started to program things, and developed my own basic approach after trying different ways of lifting, and actually sticking with it.

Following my own program, I hit new PRs in the back squat, strict overhead press, sumo deadlift (I do sumo the majority of the time because of my back), and incline bench press totaling over 130 pounds in six months. I added 40 pounds to my back squat, 30 pounds for my strict overhead press, 40 pounds to my sumo deadlift, and 20 pounds to my incline bench press (I typically like to do incline more than flat, based on preference and passed injuries).

These are the before and after numbers:

Progress on Lean Muscle Building Programming

Lift

Start Finish

Total Increase

1.    Squat (beltless)

315

355

40

2.    Sumo Deadlift (beltless)

405

445

40

3.   Incline Bench Press (beltless)

255

275

20

4.    Strict Overhead Press (beltless)

155

185

30

Max Totals

1130

1260

130

Weight (in pounds) 182 188
Body Fat % 14.00 13.50
Time Frame: August 2016 to January 2017

In addition, I added about 6 to 8 pounds of muscle to my frame (started at ~182lbs an now I’m ~188lbs), and dropped one-half percent of body fat, from 14.0% to 13.5%.

I know these results sound absurd — to a degree they are — but let me provide you context about me, regarding my lifting career, and past injuries to evaluate this progress, from August 2016 to present:

  • I first lifted a barbell when my Dad bought me a bench and weight set at 14 years old.
  • I started doing all of the “Big 3” lifts (back squat, deadlift, and bench press) when I was 17 because I wanted to play football my senior year of high school (and I did — I played offensive guard, despite my shortness, lol).
  • I dislocated my right knee at 14 years old, and then subluxed (partial dislocation) the same knee at 15, dislocated it again at 17, and then one more time at 18. Finally, at age 22, I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee to take out loose bodies, and clean out damaged cartilage and tissue. (Glad I did because it feels so much better! Shout out to Great Basin Orthopaedics in Reno, NV for my surgery.).
  • I experienced a grade 2 sprain on my right shoulder labrum when I was 17, during football practice (ended my season…booo).
  • I suffered a grade 2 sprain on my left pectoralis minor when I was 18, while trying to bench press.
  • In December of 2013, at age 21, I severely strained my lower back, possibly herniating a disc in my lumbar spine, most likely between L2 down to L4 (one of those). (Click HERE to learn more about my back and my rehab process here).
  • After my back injury, I did not try heavy lifting for 4 months, then a total of 9 more months after re-aggravating the injury, and participated in mostly body-weight exercises, light weights, circuits, and running, during that time (roughly July 2014 to March 2015).
  • I begin lifting again at 23 (around late March/early April 2015), testing myself slowly and paying big attention to relearning and locking in technique.
  • After my whole experience, obsessive self study, becoming a certified personal trainer, and having clients of my own, I started my own program during August/September 2016, after planning it in late May through July 2016.

That is the basic time-line for me and my lifting career, so I really only consider myself a serious lifter for the last 6 months, despite lifting consistently for almost the last 2 years (after my back injury). In my own opinion, it may be 10 years since I started lifting, but I am only in the beginning intermediate stage at best as a lifter (I measure lifter based on strength in the lifts, and by knowledge and technique practiced).

That said, I used myself as a guinea pig for this program I put together, and wanted to offer this program to everyone starting to lift, or at the beginning stages of their intermediate stage, in their lifting career.

My program I’m sharing with you is completely free, and a guide to get you started to making more strength and muscle gains.

DOWNLOAD MY FREE STRENGTH and MUSCLE BUILDING PROGRAM BY CLICKING this link: Lean Muscle Building.

lean-muscle-building-cover-page
What’s in the Program?

In the program, you’ll find basic principles about building muscle and strength, along with how to warm-up, recover, maintain your body, and what to generally eat to get stronger. I also give you freedom in the program to incorporate varying levels of weights used, and variations to the main lifts, like front or pause squats, stiff-legged or Romanian deadlifts, and pendlay barbell rows.

I wanted my program to be flexible, as to factor in for individual concerns, levels of strength and technique, and add excitement to your training, in which you can build the most muscle and strength while using it. 

Again, my program is free because I want it to be that way, since I care about helping everyone out there avoid my mistakes, and understand basic knowledge that will help you in the early to mid early stages of your lifting career.

Extra: Strength Outline Progression

In addition to the free strength and muscle program giveaway, I want to share what I saw strongman athlete BRIAN ALSRUHE explain on YouTube in his most recent video.

(Click HERE to watch his programming method, and please subscribe to his channel because he has some of the best content out there for strength, conditioning, programming, and building strength).

In his video, Brian explains how to structure your basic programming progress for the year.

If you do not have time to watch the video (almost 25 minutes, but worth the watch), I encourage you to watch it later, but for the time being I’ve broken it down using MY PERSONAL NUMBERS, and added a few extra elements in the table below.

2017 Program Progression
Lift Current/Goal Max (in lbs.) Avg. Q max ↑ in weight Q1

(Jan-Mar)

Q2

(Apr-Jun)

Q3

(Jul-Sep)

Q4

(Oct-Dec)

1.    Squat 355/405 13 368 381 394 405
2.    Deadlift 445/500 14 459 473 487 500
3.    Bench       Press 275/315 10 285 295 305 315
4.    Overhead Press 185/225 10 195 205 215 225
Big 3 Total (current/goal): 1075/1220
Big 4 Total (current/goal): 1260/1445
Current body weight/body fat %: 188lbs/13.5%
Goal body weight/body fat %: 190-195lbs/12.0-12.5%

The table you see above is my current strength goal outline for 2017. Everything you see in there is what I’m lifting right now, and what I plan to hit throughout the year broken up by quarter (each quarter is 3 months and that is why there are 4).

With these goals, I also have other goals, like achieving a specific body weight and body fat percentage. For me, that is important, so that is why I have it there (I encourage you to do so also). I value conditioning and athletic movements, in addition to lifting heavy like a powerlifter, so that may impact my strength and goal numbers, but I think if I do it right, I will be fine.

The Lean Muscle Building program I put together has these athletic and conditioning elements integrated into the program, so it is not like it is something entirely new (although I do plan on adding some extra conditioning elements to most workouts, and I encourage you to add any extra work that you need the most help with, and what is most valuable to you).

I must also note from Brian’s video, he explains depending on the stage of your development, as in beginner to advanced lifter stages, you will have different strength goals and rates of progress. For instance, if you are a beginner you will typically have a faster rate of increase. In contrast, if you’re an intermediate to advanced lifter then you’re rate of progress will be in smaller increments and less overall, since you most likely have bigger numbers.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, I will note that all the things you do outside of training, such as getting good nutrition, rest, having proper recovery, and all that good stuff is essential to your rate of progress.

If you fail outside the gym you will fail in the gym. Period.

Ultimately, the level of consistent work and dedication you put into it will be the deciding factor on your rate of progress.

What will help you is a program to guide you, and that is why I made this program for you: to serve as a guide to get stronger and build lean muscle.

I encourage you to EMAIL me any questions at builtfromstrength@gmail.com for any questions about the Lean Muscle Building program, or any question you may have about getting stronger, adding muscle, losing weight, or anything else of that nature.

(Visit my contact page HERE and my about page HERE).

AGAIN, IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY, PLEASE CLICK HERE to DOWNLOAD THE PROGRAM.

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

Until next time, be strong and be you!

Thoughts on Progress and Making Gains: Intensity

Image result for stan efferding intensity

Listen.

If you’re in the gym what’s your goal?

PROGRESS.

It’s that simple.

Of course, we have specific goals we’re trying to attain, like losing weight or gaining muscle, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to progress in some way.

Now, I can’t say for you, but I want to make more gains.  I’m not just talking muscle wise, but increasing my strength (that’s number 1 for me), controlling my body better, and being in better condition.

Doable?

Absolutely.

Easy?

No.

So, what do we need if we want any progress and gains to happen, whether building muscle, strength, power, endurance, flexibility, aesthetics, etc?

First, we have to be committed to the process.

The moment you realize that you’ll be in a much better place. But, if you’re reading this then I’m assuming you’re already committed to getting stronger and into better shape, so what else do we need?

Intensity.

We need intensity because it’s the force that gives us the ability to change our bodies for the better.

Try doing a heavy squat or deadlift without intensity…not gonna happen.

Not only will it not happen there’s a good chance that you’ll snap yo shit up too.

Not good.

So, how do we be intense?

There are many answers, but I think you got to want it. You got to want to lift heavier, run faster, jump higher, get a bigger booty, or whatever else you’re trying to accomplish.

If you want it then odds are you’ll be more intense and work hard for it.

Why?

Because it will matter to you. You’ll start to understand that to get to “X” I have to do A, B, and C first, like doing things outside the gym to be successful in the gym (click HERE to know what I’m talking about).

This will lead to more intensity in the gym because you’re connected with the work you’re doing to achieve your goal (strength, power, aesthetics, functionality, etc.) by not wanting the effort you put in to go to waste.

So, what exactly is intensity:

Doing something with the highest force you’re capable of doing.

Simple as that.

Now, don’t get it twisted. Just because you or I have intensity doesn’t mean we’ll progress in a linear fashion. Rarely is progression strictly linear. However, if you’re lacking intensity during your workouts you’re selling yourself short of your full potential, and not working hard enough. Intensity gives us passion, and that extra effort we need to progress further, with more efficiency.

You may have the best program in the world tailored to your every need, but if you don’t show up and train with intensity, and just work really freaking hard, then you’ll leave behind gains and progress that were there waiting for you.

Sounds like a no-brainer, but rarely is intensity consistently practiced.

Do you have to be so intense that you become so serious that you become an asshole about it, and that gym douche bag who grunts and yells with every rep, and purposefully puffs his chest out with arms held wide (a.k.a. imaginary lat syndrome).

NO.

In fact, I encourage you to have fun, smile, and laugh often through your workout (check out this article about smiling more in the gym by clicking HERE).

With that said, when it’s time to step-up to the plate, or rather the barbell, bench, rack, or pull-up bar, you better give it your best intense effort.

Don’t be shy or timid about it. Just do it.

Recently, for example, I did just that — I was timid. I tried a heavy single in the squat and approached it with apprehension. I’m ashamed of it, but I won’t lie. I let the negative insurgency get the best of me by psyching myself out. I was out of my flow and lacked intensity.

But, you know what? I came back for a second time and I squatted 355 to full depth like it was nothing…easy.

The first time I squatted the barbell I was weak with no intensity, and almost failed (in my mind I did).

Second time, however, I let myself go, and brought out the intensity I needed to do it right and smashed it.

I’m on my way to 405, which is a big deal to me, so why am I holding back?

There’s no reason to, so that’s why showing up with intensity matters because that’s how we break plateaus and hit PRs.

Remember, if you fail you can always try again.

But, what fails your progress is not giving the intense effort to do whatever we’re working on in the gym with unrelenting fervor, and passion to get better in some way — stronger, faster, bigger, leaner, discovering character, or whatever it may be — no matter how small the improvement.

(Click HERE to get what I’m saying).

That’s why we need to be intense when we train. It will look different person to person, but just be intense in your own way, and you’ll be on your way to making more gains than you thought you could.

If you don’t believe just look at the dude pictured for this article. It’s none other than Stan “The White Rhino” Efferding (a.k.a. the strongest bodybuilder in the world). He’s a freak of nature with stupid strength, and one of the leading authorities and people in the fitness industry to get strong and build muscle.

He’ll tell you first hand that the programming doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. You have to want it and just train freaking hard (just listen to his rant about it HERE — worth the 15 minutes).

And, try not to be intimidated by Stan, or someone like him, either.

The point is that you can have your own remarkable results (like Stan), in some way, if you just train with some fire in you.

Whatever makes you have that remember it, and you’ll start to notice your progress accelerate, not to mention you’ll feel great at the same time. Once that happens, you’ll begin to understand that intensity matters, and start to do the little things (getting better sleep, eating better foods, etc.) that help you be more consistent.

Consistency leads to success. Throw in intensity, and you’ve got a winning combination to smash your goals.

It’s a struggle, but a struggle worth doing.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment down below to share your thoughts.

Until next time, be strong and be you!

(Photo Credit)