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I am by no means a nutritionist or fat loss expert, and it’s not exactly where my passion lies in the fitness industry.

That said however, the majority of my clients started training with me to shed some pounds. I wouldn’t be very good at my job if I didn’t know how to help them do that. It’s tough because it goes way beyond what we do for an hour in the gym.

Since summer is just about here, fat loss is on everyone’s mind. So I figured I would put a short list together of what I considered to be the most effective tips.

1. “Fat loss is an all out war. It’s not a lifestyle choice. Lose fat and then get back into moderation” -Dan John.

Alot of people get stuck in the mindset of fat loss. They are perpetually trying to lose weight and it’s always on their minds. Dieting and being in a calorie deficit should only last a short period of time (read: 4-12 weeks), and you have to ATTACK IT. Really hone in and pay attention to your diet, increase the efficiency of your workouts, and use recovery to it’s fullest.  “Begin with an end in mind.”

2. On most days, get over 100g of protein, and under 100g of carbs.

If you don’t know where to start, most people can benefit from keeping these numbers that simple. This is much easier said than done, but the best thing about this tip is that you’ll never be hungry. Protein is much more satisfying than carbs are. If you find it difficult to get that amount of protein with food alone, I highly recommend a protein supplement.

 

3. Track your diet on an app

If you have no clue what 8oz of chicken looks like, or how much protein it has, this is where an app will come in handy. I’d also recommend getting a food scale. Once you get more comfortable with portion sizes, you wont have to rely on them as much.

4. Push back breakfast 1-3 hours of your norm

This is actually a mild form of intermittent fasting. Simplifying, your hormones are in the best fat-burn mode in the morning. When you eat your first meal, it changes all those beneficial hormone profiles, so by pushing breakfast back a little bit you can optimize that period. Ready why here. 

5. When eating out, look at the menu ahead of time (when you’re not hungry) and pick the healthiest option

Don’t even look at the menu when you get there. Almost every restaurant in America has a protein + veggie dish on their menu. Cooking at home is best but I understand you have a life to live. However, no excuses play like a champion!

6. Double the veggies, no starch

Snow balling on number 5, skip the rolls, mashed potatoes, and french fries. Double the side salad or asparagus. Most places have no problem doing this.

7. Cut out alcohol. Completely.

Yes my friends, you read that right. Remember: dieting should only last 4-12 weeks; this is temporary. I understand drinking is a part of social life but if you’re serious about fat loss, you will do it. And if you can’t have fun without drinking… you need a new hobby.

8. Focus on your sleep

In the hierarchy of fat loss, I’d say sleep and recovery lands the bronze metal behind diet and training. Start with going to bed 15 minutes earlier and see what happens.

9. Prioritize strength training

Cardio has its place, but strength training will give you the most bang for your buck. It builds muscle and burns fat, making you look like a svelte curvy machine. Ladies… please stop thinking you’ll get ‘bulky’. It’s literally impossible without drugs.

10. If you already strength train, increase your intensity

This can be done 1 of 2 ways: increase your weight, or decrease your rest. If choosing the latter, start getting specific with your rest periods. Get a stop watch or an interval timer like a gymboss and try resting no more than 30 seconds between sets.

11. Option 1: For the last set, lighten the weight slightly and get as many reps as possible before failure.

Again, you’re always going to prioritize strength first, but this is a good way to increase intensity and get a good cardio effect. However, never sacrifice form for reps. Once you start to get sloppy, call it quits.

12. Option 2: For the last set, make movements compound

Turn a squat into a squat + overhead press. Turn a deadlift into a deadlift + bent over row. Etcetera, etcetera.

13. Ditch the steady state cardio and get into intervals

At the risk of sounding like an ignorant DB, I will never understand why people like doing steady state cardio. Personally, I find it torturously boring and physically unchallenging (besides the mental aspect). You can disagree with me all day, that’s fine; you’re entitled to your opinion. But this is my blog and I do what I want! Mix it up with some intervals and sprinting. This is my favorite treadmill routine:

Run 7.0 for 60 seconds
walk 1 minute
Run 8.5 for 45 seconds
walk 1 minute
Run 9.5 for 30 seconds
walk 1 minute
Run 10.5 for 15 seconds
walk 1 minute
Sprint 12.0 for 10 seconds (x3)
Repeat in reverse order.

14. If you’re not into spending half an hour on a cardio machine, do a set of tabata (it’s 4 minutes- c’mon)

It sucks but it’s over quickly. You can pick from a lot of different exercises; I recommend a rowing machine, a stepper, or goblet squats. The format is simple: 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest, repeat 8 times.

 

Conclusion

There’s no need to implement all 14 of these points at once. It’s too hard to keep track of and you have a enough on your mind. Instead, pick 3-5 things that you’re 100% sure you can do. If I were you, I’d say the most bang-for-your-buck points would be 2, 4, 6, and 9. Give it at least 4 weeks and see what happens.

Enjoy!

-L

 

There once was a time when foam rollers were as rare as unicorns and only existed in elite gyms and PT clinics.

It’s exciting to see the popularity of foam rollers rising. They’re even popping up in big box gyms that charge $10/month.

…And Marshalls!

Woo!

Any way, whether you love or hate the foam roller, you’re really not doing yourself any favors by skipping it or only spending 0.9 seconds on your quads and calling it a day. Let me remind you of the benefits of foam rolling, cause yeah, it’s that awesome.

Why Foam Roll?

  • Long story short, it essentially helps to turn muscles “off.” Upper back or hamstrings always tight? Foam rolling can help
  • Breaks down any adhesion or scar tissue in our muscles that limit our range of motion
  • Works out any knots you may have
  • Helps to release trigger points
  • Some research has shown foam rolling increases blood flow and vascular function
  • Increases flexibility and range of motion
  • Improves posture and function
  • Helps to prevent injuries from running, lifting, or overuse in general

The Standard Go-to Areas

Obviously everyone’s needs are going to be different, and people will feel the effects of rolling in some spots more than others. But the standard areas are always a good place for beginners or extraordinarily tight folks.

Quads

Hamstrings

Calves

Upper back

exercise-back.jpg

IT Bands

exercise-iliotibial-band.jpg

Foam Rolling 2.0- The new spots that need attention

The TFL – aka the ‘pocket’ muscle. This is the small muscle that runs in between your IT band and your quads. If neither of those spots are tight, try getting in the middle area (wear your pants pocket would be) and it’s a game changer.

The VMO – This is the quad muscle closest to the knee in your inner thigh. This is a very important spot to get especially if you’re varus or bow-legged.

The Psoas (or hip flexor) – So the hip flexor is a tough one to get with the foam roller; it’s best to do with a tennis or lacrosse ball. Lay on your stomach with the ball between you and the floor. Start with it right under your pelvic crest of your hip bone (the part that protrudes) and roll around slowly to find the tender spots.

Medial Gastroc (or inner calf) – Like I said earlier, the calves are a good go-to spot. However changing the angle just a little bit will make a huge difference. Manipulate the position on the roller by crossing one ankle over the other and turning your foot inward to get the inside of your calf muscle.

Conclusion

Foam rolling is all about taking it slow and finding the spots where you feel it the most. If you feel nothing on your quads but your calves cry a little every time you roll them, don’t waste too much time on your quads. It’s easy to manipulate angles and find tender areas, you just have to play around with it. On my non-workout days, I almost always spend around 30 minutes foam rolling. It’s one of the best things you can do for your body!

If don’t already have one for home, I highly recommend it. If you have limited time during the day, it’s convenient to have one at home to use for 10 minutes while you watch a show or wait for dinner to heat up.  You can get them at most sporting goods stores, and sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll find them in a Marshalls or TJ Maxx. However the cheapest place that I’ve found is http://www.optp.com.

Enjoy!

 

-LD

Happy April!

For the first time leaving my house this week, it actually felt like spring. There were birds chirping, sunlight poking it’s beautiful head, and I couldn’t see my breath.

Anyway, I get most of my blog topics when I’m training myself, or reading non-training related stuff. This week, I’ve been accumulating random thoughts that don’t necessarily warrant their own post, so I figured I’d put them together in a “random thoughts” post.

1. The word “toning”

I was reading something, somewhere, by someone about women and strength training. The word ‘toning’ or ‘muscle tone’ came up, and the author deemed it worse than saying Voldemort at Hogwarts. That seems to be a common theme these days. Like any woman who has a goal of ‘toning’ is as incompetent as Tracey Anderson.

Shutup Gwenyth.

What is the big deal? What’s wrong with women wanting to lose fat and gain some muscle? That’s what toning means, even if they don’t know it. What’s more important is the MEANS of women getting the look they want. Are they focusing on larger compound movements like squats, deadlifts, pushups and pullups? Are they focusing on sound nutrition with lots of protein and veggies? Or are they wasting their time doing tricep extensions with 3lb dumbbells followed by a well-rounded breakfast of bagels and cream cheese?

May I be so bold and suggest that the word ‘toning’ is not a swear word? Maybe we can just redefine it and educate our female clients on how to get there.

Let’s start with this: Close grip pushups will help that flab under your arms.

2. Underweight Babies

Most of you know I’m a pre/post natal exercise specialist, so anything I read concerning pregnancy peaks my interest. My latest t-ride read: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers has a whole chapter on stress and reproduction.  It had a very interesting section on underfed mothers and underweight babies:

“If you were a first trimester fetus during [a] famine, that programs you for a greater risk of heart disease, obesity, and an unhealthy cholesterol profile…But this phenomenon also applies to less dramatic situations. Within the normal range of birth weights, the lower the weight of a baby (when adjusted for body length), the greater the rise of those Metabolic syndrome problems in adulthood.”

To summarize, the metabolic system of an underfed baby becomes so efficient at storing energy (aka fat), that it’s more likely to have problems in their adult life, when food is likely to be abundant.

I know that under eating during pregnancy isn’t as common as overeating, but there is something to be said for it. If not, I just found it interesting. It is a fine balance for pregnant women. The general recommendation is to eat for 1.2 people.

ie, if you weigh 125lbs, you should eat about 1950- 2250 calories a day while pregnant.

(125lbs x 1.2 = approximately 150lbs)

(150lbs x 13-15calories/pound/day =1950- 2250 calories/day)

Yeah baby!

3. The Single Arm Dumbbell Fly

I’m not going to lie here… I saw a random member doing this and I was secretly stalking him. (A- if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I’m so creepy.)

After I tried it, what surprised me was the amount of core needed for this exercise. The more I thought about it the more it made sense; you’re lengthening a lever and moving the weight further and further from your center of gravity. Hell yeah your core’s gotta kick in! If you do this exercise with the right weight and range of motion, it’s hard as hell. I added it as a last exercise in my upper body day (after DB chest press, inverted row, DB row, and overhead press.)

I used a weight about half as heavy as my chest press (20lbs and 35lbs, respectively). It’s cool to add at the end because your chest fatigue wont be a limiting factor, and you should feel the entire side of your body tense to keep you from falling off the bench.

3. Single leg deadlift with a box

Speaking of limiting factors, many people have a hard time with single leg deadlifts because they require an enormous amount of balance. This is unfortunate because it’s such a beneficial exercise.

  • Trains the entire posterior line- mostly lats, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as the core
  • In turn, training the glutes prevents injury. Mostly for the knee and low back
  • Obviously, it trains balance and proprioception
  • Evens out leg strength discrepancies
  • Strengthens small muscles and stabilizers of the foot
  • Very knee friendly for those who can’t squat without pain
  • One of the best active hamstring stretches on this side of the Mississippi

When I program this exercise, I usually start people off using kettlebells. Reason being that when the person is in the ‘down’ portion of the movement, they can actually tap the bells to floor to borrow some stability.

However, sometimes people don’t have the flexibility or strength to start with kettlebells, so I searched for a solution to make it easier. And that is simply just add a box.

From t-nation

PS. This picture is from a great glute training article on t-nation. Read it here.

In Closing

Told you it was going to be random. To recap:

-Redefine the word ‘toning.’ It aint so bad

-If you’re preggo, it’s critically important to get the right amount of calories. Even more so important to get your calories from whole and unprocessed foods. Remember the formula:

(Your pre-pregnancy bodyweight x 1.2) = Ylbs

(Ylbs x15/calories per pound per day) =  Calories/day

-If you’re not doing single arm dumbbell flies and single leg deadlifts, you should be.

Enjoy!

-L

I bet if you got 50 strength coaches in a room and asked which was better: the squat or the deadlift, you’d get 25 coaches saying squat and 25 coaches saying deadlift.

Mass hysteria would ensue and it would look something like this:

Point being, I bet all would agree that both are vitally important in all strength programs. They are the king of all exercises for performance, health, and even fat loss.

Yeah I’d say he’s pretty lean…

However, I work in a commercial gym, and the LACK of squatting and deadlifting is really unfortunate. In reality, 85% of gym members do not work with a trainer, and I’d venture to say 85% of that 85% perform squats and deadlifts wrong, or don’t do them at all.

I’m not just writing this to be a jerk; I want you to know how to do it, and do it right! Most of the time, if I can get you to set-up properly, the movement will happen easily. In my opinion, external tactical feedback trumps all other forms of cues. It has many fancy names… but I just call it “feeling it.” The amount of times I say “How does it feel?” of “Where do you feel it?” throughout the day is borderline ridiculous. For example, one of my favorite uses for external feedback is using a wall for a side plank:

side plank

It is literally impossible to screw up because you have the wall (aka your “external tactical feedback”) to tell your body where it needs to be.

So how does this apply for squats and deadlifts? Well, you’ll need a box, small hand weights, some val-slides, and something heavy (kettlebell, dumbbell, barbell, small child, etc)

To set up the squat:

  • Place the small hand weights at the edge of the box, slightly wider than hip-width apart
  • Stand with your heels up against the weights
  • With kettlebell or dumbbells held goblet style, sit back and down until your butt touches the box. (It’s there, I promise)
  • Pop your chest out like you own the place and stand up tall

To set up the deadlift:

  • Put your toes/midfoot on the bottom support bar of the box. That way you are automatically on your heels*
  • Place val-slides under your armpits and squeeze the crap out of them.
  • Push your hips back and grab the kettlebell
  • DO NOT LET YOUR SHINS TOUCH THE EDGE OF THE BOX
  • Grab the kettlebell and stand up tall

*For learning purposes only, should your toes be off the ground. Deadlifting can be a very unnatural feeling for beginners, and doing it this way teaches you to keep your weight on your heels. Once you get familiar with the movement and start doing heavier loads, having your feet completely on the ground is optimal for force production. 

Now go squat, ya monkey!

There are two kinds of people in this world…. Men…. and Women.

If you’re the latter of the two, chances are you wouldn’t hate to build a better backside. If you’re the former, chances are you want to be big and strong and up your BAMF factor. Guess what: squats and deadlifts are your fast track to awesome.

Enjoy!

-L

I will admit that diet and nutrition talk is not my forte. It just doesn’t give me the tingles the way talking about deadlifting or fixing knee pain does.

Did I creep you out yet?

 

 

 

 

…..How about now?

 

Aaaaannyway… I try to keep up with diet and nutrition information via books, blogs, and research. This week I just wanted to keep it simple with the basics of macronutrients: Carbs, protein, and fats.

Do Carbs Make You Fat?

Carb consumption gets a lot of attention these days since diets like Atkins and Paleo have become more and more popular. It can make people carb-phobic and do things as radical as cut out fruit from their diet! Too much of any macro-nutrient will make you fat, but all 3 have their place. This is a great explanation of choosing the right carbs and using them effectively.

The Ultimate Guide to Protein Supplements

I’m a big fan of protein shakes for a couple reasons. First, if you’re like me, you’re busy. Protein shakes take about 5.3 seconds to make and they’re portable. Second, it’s a quick and easy way to get an extra 20 or so grams of protein; and I usually aim for ~100g/day. Lastly, it’s a little extra hydration and I frikken love the taste. This article is a great explanation of which type of protein supplement might be best for you, if you’re interested in trying one.

What Are Safe Cooking Fats and Oils?

Many people think olive oil or seed oils (think canola or peanut oil) are healthy to cook with, but believe it or not there are better options. This blog explains why.

 

Happy Learning!

-L