2014 was a really weird year for me. I would put most of the blame on transition. Yeah, I believe “transition” is the word that can sum up just about everything that happened to me in 2014.
Where do I start…
Well, if I start chronologically, I would have to go with the big ol’ knee surgery I had on January 17th. Talk about starting our ’14 with a bang! A bang full of doctor bills and recovery more like it. The surgery was a microscopic surgery on my right knee. The focus of the surgery was to remove a plica and to clean up the rest of my knee.
Here’s exactly what the doc did (the “cleaning up” is not included): plica removal.
It’s a very rare injury. If I remember correctly, the culprit (the plica) to my knee pain for over 2 years only showed up in a couple slices (slides) out of the thousands of slices taken from my knee during an MRI. I suspect that it came from too much jumping during my high school years as well as piss-poor squatting and lunging techniques for who knows how long.
The surgery was no problem. Easy in, easy out, and some unneeded painkillers to boot. The recovery, on the other hand, was a real joy. It was supposed to be an easy 4-6 week recovery time that consisted of some crutches and non-weight bearing activity, plus a list of daily rehab exercises. I knew I was going to be limited for a while and I stumbled across Dean “The Man” Somerset (I have nicknamed him that, by the way).
Side note: Dean has become the most influential trainer I have had the privilege to learn from and communicate with to date. He is indeed, The Man. There is nobody I trust more for insight on post-rehab exercises and corrective exercise.
His Post-Rehab Essentials 2.0 was my main focus during recovery, especially the first week or so when I was off work and lounging around a couch all day. It is still one of the best products I’ve ever seen and it put a lot of things in perspective for me.
Remember that 4-6 week recovery time? Yeah, that quickly turned into 4 months as I was the “exception” to the recovery process as my knee did not heal according to plan.
2 more months?!?! Now what the hell do I do??
Be patient was the answer.
I already thought I was a fairly patient person. Now I knew I had to be. I had already tried squatting during a strength training day and it was awful. Poor form, lots of pain, and it was next to no weight.
Patience is a virtue, and patience is what I had to be…
I was also told by the PA that, “I couldn’t squat, lunge, or run because they are bad for your knees.”
I said, “No, squatting, lunging, or running incorrectly and with bad form is bad for knees.”
Regardless of how I felt, I listened.
Great. So what do I do now?
I was down 15 pounds and felt like a slob. I looked thing and felt flabby, like that dreaded skinny fat feeling.
I was mis-er-a-ble.
Wait, he said I couldn’t squat, lunge, or run…that means I could deadlift, pull-ups, deadlift, bench press, deadlift, and deadlift.
My new, yet limited, program was set!
Once I started this program, though limited, I felt great coming into the gym. I built up and got the go ahead from the doc that I could do all of the above exercises. I decided to go with a 5-3-1 program after about a month of training form and working through the kinks.
During that time I discovered Jordan Syatt and Kelly Starrett. My mind had become blown by Jordan’s expertise in the field of powerlifting and technique not just for the power lifts, but for any exercise in ever. I read his blogs, watched his videos, and purchased some seminars. I soaked it all in, (im)patiently waiting for my chance to add all of this to my program.
Kelly is a physical therapist and CrossFit box owner and coach. I bought his book Becoming a Supple Leopard on how to make your body the best it can be. It helps you move better. He is also the owner/found of ww.mobilitywod.com which is still one of the coolest sites I have ever seen. I soaked all of it in; I had lots of time on my hands, after all.
So what did I learn from Dean, Jordan, and Kelly?
Programming, technique, mobility exercises, corrective exercises, how the body works to how the body is supposed to work, accessory exercises, core stability training, and more and more technique.
My training catapulted. My programming changed dramatically and I felt like my knowledge soared leaps and bounds. I had made a huge transition and all of my clients were aware of it as well. The best part is that all of this learning went into my continuing education folder, so it had multiple benefits and not just for me, but to my clients as well.
It is now mid-April. The first quarter of the year had flew by as I had (im)patiently waited for my recovery time to complete and the weather was getting warmer (kind of). I was pumped to start squatting again!
I had a doctor appointment to have a final look. I noted that I was still in knee pain and that I didn’t feel like the surgery did anything, possibly even made my knee feel worse. I was scared as hell. Luckily, the PA stated that I really couldn’t do anymore damage to my knee now that we gave it so much time to heal. He said that the pain I felt was scar tissue and I was open for full activity, but to work my way back into it.
So I did, and I went with the man I trusted the most: Dean Somerset. I had committed to a 6 month program with him to help him release a huge product which should be coming out sometime soon! I was back on the grind and I found that out during the first month of his program.
I learned that you can never work on enough stability. Ever.
It was one of the hardest months of training I had ever done. I had to work on complete and overall stability doing some planks, more planks, some other stability exercises, and them some side planks to polish it off.
“Here we go,” I thought. “Bring on the next 5 months.”
And the next 5 months came with more than just a program.
I had to make a decision on whether or not I was going to go back to school. A decision I tossed around several times an hour every day for the last year. I was at my deadline and it was time to make a choice. The next 5 months also came with some other surprises like having a hip hike/rotated pelvis and possibly buying a puppy that may or may not have been spur-of-the-moment.
Wait? Spur-of-the-moment? I thought I had just learned how to be more patient…
What did I learn from the second half of ’14?
A couple years ago I wrote a status on Facebook that went a little something like this:
New Year's Resolutions are a joke. You shouldn't need a new year to bring upon a better life for yourself or a better you in general. You should be living to the best of your ability each and every day. Whether it's being kinder, healthier, or more spontaneous, you should be doing these things at every moment. Be the best person you can be. Love what you do. A new year is not a new beginning. Be thankful for who you are and what you do and strive to be better at all times.
To no surprise, my status erupted with feedback, both positive and negative.
Well, here we go again.
We are moving into the New Year with those “resolutions” in the back of our mind and some of us are patiently waiting for that calendar to turn to January 1.
Well, here we go again…again.
I am here to tell you that resolutions are still a joke. While resolutions are GREAT for business, specifically the fitness business, they are not a solution to the problems at hand. This is because people think their resolutions are quick fixes. They believe a New Year starts with a New You. They don’t understand that their resolutions are too hard to commit to and/or they don’t seek any help for them.
It should come to no surprise, then, that 92% of people do not achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.
As for my business, it starts to boom at this time of year. People wanting the quick-fix-weight-loss-solution start piling through the door, hoarding the cardio machines, and acting like they’ve been going to the gym for years. They want to lose an insane amount of weight in a short amount of time. Very rarely does this ever work out for them.
Even some of these people that pick up training expect you to give them the answers to all of their weight loss problems once they come in for the first session. You can’t learn calculus in a day. It takes a full course to get through the book and cover all the material. You can’t simply hop in the middle of a calc course and expect to ace the next exam.
It’s the same damn thing with your health. You can’t just jump right in, expect to lose 10 pounds immediately and then believe you can keep the 10 pounds off when you revert back to where you started.
Speaking of weight loss, it appears that weight loss tops the list as the #1 Resolution of 2014 (business looks good).
Here’s a look at the rest of the list:
This chart and a ton of other rather fascinating statistics can also be found on this site.
To go back to my status from a couple years ago, people shouldn’t be waiting for a certain date to make a commitment towards weight loss or any resolution for that matter. These resolutions should be a part of your everyday life. You should always be improving yourself, whether it’s professionally, through health and fitness, financially, or self-improvement.
A lot of times we get so caught up in the rat race of life that we forget that the real journey is about being the best person we can be, about standing up to challenges day-in, and day-out.
We get caught up trying to make more money because we don’t have enough, only to nail that promotion and spend the extra income on other things to inevitably become stuck in the same path of making more and spending more.
We get caught up thinking we can lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks and become so discouraged by not seeing the scale move after all the effort you put in that you stop exercising when it may have been that very next week where you started to lose weight. Oh, you don’t know about the magic 4-6 week mark? Stick to your weight loss goals for a minimum 4-6 weeks to see any measureable results. That’s a fact, Jack.
Rather than trying to save money as a resolution, it might be time to have money start working for you. You need to become financially literate and maybe even look into investing.
Instead of trying to lose all that weight in a short amount of time, maybe it’s time you seriously look into a lifestyle change and make workout out part of your lifestyle.
I work with people every single day who are in the trenches, grinding it out, striving towards their health and fitness goals (with weight loss at the forefront). They know it’s not a short-term fix, it’s a long-term commitment.
It is a choice, it is a lifestyle.
When you gain 15 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, these same people who are grinding it out might only gain 2. They might even lose 2! It’s because they know what’s at stake.
A new year is not a new beginning. It’s just a change of the calendar.
If there’s something you want to change in your life, you do NOT need a date change to make it happen.
You can push for a change at any time!
The New Year will not make things any easier for you!
As I said before, Resolutions are good for business. There’s no surprise that most Challenges and Contests for weight loss occur in January when the membership at the gyms are highest. I’m even running a Transformation Challenge for Pete’s sakes (more details on that to come very, very soon)!
If you are committing to a resolution this year, there are a few things that I can try to help you with.
- Keep your resolutions as simple as possible
- Get some help form a professional (related to your Resolution)
- Get some help from a friend
- Be realistic
- Have a plan
In my line of work, there are those trainers who sucker you in to thinking you can achieve great success in for just 6 weeks out of the year. You can see some pretty outstanding results in 6 weeks, there’s no denying that, but imagine the results you could see in 90 days. How about 6 months? How about a year? How about in a lifetime?
My main goal for everyone coming into the gym for the New Year’s Resolutions is to convert them into “lifers”. I try to get people to start having fun going to the gym and realizing that this is a part of their everyday life.
There are very few quick fixes in life. Your health is definitely not one of them. While you may be excited to make a big push in the next coming weeks (as you should now that all of the holidays are out of the way) there shouldn’t be any new resolutions that pop up.
Stay focused and stay hungry. Keep grinding it out and pushing forward. And stay away from those resolutions - always keep becoming a better YOU!
Not too long ago, a fellow trainer and coach extraordinaire, Eric Cressey posted about “How Being an Optimist Will Help You in Strength and Conditioning”. I read the blog post and definitely agreed how Cressey relating strength and conditioning and being an optimalist will create a better overall environment. A better environment means more results.
So how did this whole topic come up in a post? Because of the book that Cressey referenced, The Pursuit of Perfection by Tal Ben-Shahar.
I immediately chose the book as my next audiobook I would be listening to and studying, I just had to finish up listening to How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. And who recommended this book, you ask? Well (drumroll please), the great Eric Cressey.
We all pick up certain parts of a book when we read (or listen) to them. A lot of times we pick up new concepts when we re-read the book. The same goes with the third time we read the book, and so on and so on. I picked up on the topic Cressey wrote about, but I also had my own “ah ha” moments. So rather than write about a similar topic to Mr. Cressey’s, I decided to write about how a perfectionist and an optimalist view the path towards reaching their goal(s).
Before I show you my fancy shmancy picture, I wanted to explain the two different types of people compared in the book.
An optimalist is viewed as the positive, happy person. They view things more realistically and learn from mistakes and failure). They often take risks knowing that there will be ups and downs and setbacks along the way. They are successful, but they have often failed several times beforehand. They know that the best result is the optimal result.
A perfectionist, the opposite of an optimist, is more of a negative, very uptight, all-or-none person. They have a hard time grasping reality and they don’t take failure well. At all. A lot of times these people are very successful people, however, succeeding at something often leads to trying to succeed at the next goal so they don’t appreciate success. They often perceive the end result as something that is actually unreachable, yet they do not know that.
So let’s begin the little drill that I took from the book. While I’m not quite done with listening to Perfection, I picked up on numerous key concepts that I am now implementing into my coaching techniques. One is the path to a goal, whatever it may be.
On my Facebook earlier this week, I asked the question:
What does the path to losing 15 pounds look like?
Is it a straight line, or something else?
I then posted this picture:
The path looks different to a perfectionist and an optimalist. A perfectionist views the path as a straight line.
Notice that the path is free of ups and downs, setbacks, and any deviation besides a direct path to the finish. This is how they view obstacles and they expect a path of least resistance. Additionally, when an obstacle occurs, this type of person usually goes through a bit of a panic which could lead to several more undesirable behaviors. This is especially true if the person is keen to results, like a perfectionist is.
Here’s how the path MAY actually look:
Rest assured this is not the only path - there is an infinite amount of variations. One of those infinite variations could look like the above path, yet very rarely does the path go in a straight line. The above picture is more likely how the optimalist views the path toward a goal. He/she knows that there will be obstacles, setbacks, ups, and downs that take place along the way. Sometimes these obstacles cause a bit of a deadline change, which is a setback in itself, obviously. There are also positive (ups) that occur during your journey towards a goal. For this example, maybe you lose a few extra pounds during one your weeks in between the deadline rather than the one pound you typically lose.
Certain checkpoints on the course to your goal could lead to you not reaching your goal by the deadline, or you may even reach it sooner! You being prepared for the journey towards your goal helps tremendously. As does being optimistic about your training/program, regardless of what happens.
The optimalist looks at each setback is an opportunity to learn while the perfectionist looks as each setback as an unacceptable failure.
This is a critical difference in the behaviors between the two types of people. The perfectionist will push harder and farther, often testing the limits of their mind and body. They will look for someone or something to blame. This continues far beyond a simple fitness goal, it goes into their everyday life as well. Instead of pushing through the setback without taking the time to study the situation, the optimalist will recollect and figure out what caused the setback in the first place and then learn what they have to do correct it.
For the fitness world, we can look at so much more than a weight loss goal. We can choose our goals to be
- a performance-based goal like for a sport
- adding 10 lbs to our 1 Rep Max squat
- add 10 pounds of muscle in 10 weeks
- recover from an injury by a certain time
Here’s how my path went while recovering from knee surgery this year:
(Look at that work of art. Thank goodness for the Paint program, huh?)
Notice the path filled with lots of ups and downs and go arounds. All notice that I never reached the finish. That’s because my knee did not fully recover as expected and 4-6 weeks recovery turned into 4 months. What a blasty blast. So my “finish” turned out to be 16 weeks rather than 4-6 weeks, but I made it. Want to know what I expected my path to look like for my initial recover time?
Yep. You bet. A straight damn line. As straight as a line could get as a matter of fact.
(I should quickly note that the path doesn't always have to be measured relative to time. You can also measure it as an outcome of a presentation or project based on performance. We need it for the goal-setting examples though.)
So what am I getting at here?
There is no cookie cutter approach to each goal you set.
Each of these goals can see tremendous benefits and devastating setbacks. You may have to commit to 3 extra hours of cardio each week compared to the person who only has to work out for 5 hours in a week to see weight loss. That’s what the value of a program and/or coach can help you with. That’s what determination can help you with. That’s what being realistic can help you with.
Setting your goals are crucial. You should set these goals using the SMART Goal System. I previously wrote about setting goals, so if you missed that article you can check it out here.
Ideally, the program you start or receive from a coach/trainer should lead you towards a path with minimal resistance. There are always roadblocks that come up along the way. Do not become overwhelmed by the fact that it could/is/did happen to you. It happens!
I’m not trying to convert a perfectionist to an optimist or an optimist to a perfectionist by sharing this post. I am simply staking the thought process and behaviors we have associated with our goals and lifestyle; however, some of my tips may go a long way for someone who is more of a perfectionist-type.
You can also be blend of an optimalist and perfectionist. The example in the book is that a parent might not care that they don’t live in the best house with the best furniture, yet they want their child to have the best upbringing as possible (best clothes, toys, house, etc.). There can be certain conflicts that we go through because we do cross certain behaviors of being both an optimalist and a perfectionist.
In the gym (strength and conditioning) world though, it is better to be an optimalist and it is better to be on a solid program. Simply going to the gym every day will only work for so long. You weight training should be programmed just like your cardio training (conditioning) should be programmed. Programs allow you and the trainers to manage the path and build from potential setbacks. We can actually see what works and what doesn’t.
The rectus abdominis is quite an extraordinary muscle. They are so nice to look at!! Sooo nice! The rectus abdominis is also known as the abs. Ah…now I’ve got your attention. I’ll refer the rectus abdominis to “abs” from here on out because that’s how the muscle is typically identified.
The abs are indeed a pretty damn cool looking muscle.
That’s Joe Donnelly of http://www.joedonnellyfitness.com/. He’s one of the most ripped guys out there and his high intensity interval trainings are insane. Check them out.
So while the abs are nice to look at when sculpted, their actual function in our body is to flex our lumbar spine, also known as “crunching”. They also have some influence on posture through pelvic alignment and assist with diaphragmatic breathing.
Woofta, who knew the abdominals did so much?
A lot of us know what they do, but a lot of don’t understand how to use them even though we spend days on days on DAYS of doing crunches and other abdominal exercises. How many times at the end of a session did you decide to go spend 10, 15, or 20 minutes on abs? I know I did. I went to the studio at the end of each session so I could get my abs a burnin’.
Well, what I am about to tell you might come as a bit of a shock. You need to stop wasting so much of your time spent in the gym “doing abs”.
I could think of thousands of other things that you could spend 10, 15, or even 5 minutes on that will help create more ab strength than simply doing some crunches, leg raises, and a froggie finisher. Take doing 3-5 hill sprint intervals for example.
I’m not saying you can’t spend time doing abs at all, but there are far too many people who spend way too much of their precious time in the gym by doing crunches. And it’s not just once or twice a week, it’s literally every day. People spend hours on ab exercises because they're trying to get that 6-pack. It's also a huge marketing tool by a bunch of fitness wannabees out there which ends up making you think that you should continue doing as much as abs as possible...
How them abs looking?
They might be getting a little toned, but are you getting those nice sculpted abs that you see in your magazine and on television? Maybe, but most likely not. There’s a lot more that goes into revealing the abs than doing crunches on crunches on stability sit-ups on bosu ball sit-ups on leg raises on side crunches.
We have to remember that spot reduction is not real. If you want to focus on losing fat in a specific area, you can't train that area over and over again expecting it to go away.
Get moving some weight and get your diet in check.
There’s the quote out there, “Abs are made in the kitchen.”
I’m more about the quote, “Abs are made in the gym and revealed in the kitchen.”
By being made in the gym I mean lifting some heavy weights, working through movements using core stability by means of isolation, rotation, flexion, extension, or anti-rotation and other anti-movements. Very rarely is there an ab exercise listed in the program. Unless you’re training for an event or doing some form of high intensity interval training (HIIT), the ab exercises should be left off the program. Body builders and physique competitors are the exception.
You can’t out-train a bad diet.
You should therefore get your diet (nutrition) in order. And get moving some more weights.
There’s a lot more than the rectus abdominis that is involved with ab exercises. There are all of the other core muscles like obliques, intercostals, transverse abdominis, etc., but you never hear someway say, “That’s a ripped core, bro!”
Strengthening the core is where it’s at. You might not feel like you’re “ab training”, yet you’ll be hitting plenty of abdominal muscles through squats, deadlifts, lunges, rows, pull-ups, push-ups, planks, farmer/suitcase walks, shoulder presses, rollouts, and too many more to rattle off. So, you see, we get our ab work in every day as long as we’re training movements and hitting those complex exercises. Why do you think athletes tend to be in great shape? Because they spend a lot of their time doing abs? Not a chance.
Think about a gymnast. How many crunches do think a gymnast wastes his/her time on (all professional athletes for that matter), not many. A gymnast spends his time on bars and rings and mats, developing movements and focusing on strength training that supplements those movements. They are obviously unbelievably strong at a pound-per-pound measurement, and they possess some of the strongest lats (back muscles) out there from all of the gymnast-style training.
These super-duper strong lats actually help promote super-duper-duper ripped abs.
Gymnasts are some of the most ripped dudes in sports. Jason Maxwell wrote a really cool article about this about a year ago and even posted some training methods as to how one could mimic some gymnast-style training that he calls “Front Level Training”. Check the article out here.
Getting back to the point: these athletes don’t spend a lot of time working on specific ab exercises because they are too focused working on their movements or strength training for their movements. They also spend a lot of time on conditioning. The conditioning will help the athletes get into their sport-demanding shape. Conditioning not only helps their cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance, it also improves body composition by means of fat loss. Again, this isn’t a standard session of steady-state cardio aka 40 minutes of elliptical work at a pace that you can have a conversation with your bestie. This is a high intensity interval type of training, which is tailored to their sport/event. It’s no walk in the park.
Oh yeah, and their nutrition is sound. They’re not working out so they can go eat a pizza, the athletes are working out to better themselves in their trade and their food is their fuel and recovery.
Let food be thy medicine.
You can directly train abs a few times a week. Some say you can train the abs 5 days/week. You can get ideas on how to train them through the exercises I just wrote about. Planks are phenomenal. So are ab roll outs and other anti-extension/flexion/rotation exercises. Leg raises can also be beneficial, and so can chops. Knock it off with this crunches, sit-ups, decline sit-up, and Roman chair. These exercises are only good for so long. And if you’re going to do a crunch, try a reverse crunch or a rope/cable crunch and add them into a big exercise so you can create a nasty superset.
The next time you have about 10-15 minutes left in your workout, and you’re getting to that level where you’re looking at the clock every few minutes because you’re ready to be done, and you’re thinking, “Yup, it’s abs time,” think again. Spend those 10 to 15 minutes working on perfecting a technique or movement rather than crunching your abs (and spine) away. Spend 10 to 15 minutes going through a HIIT or some other form of high intensity training. A lot of time you only need 5 minutes to accomplish such a task so you can spend the other time recovering. Spend the extra 10 to 15 minutes on mobility, not just through static stretching, but mobility exercises that may include some static stretching. Spend that extra time putting work in and burning the fat and pumping those muscles. Don’t just spend it on abs, but if you do, put it into your “Finisher” or HIIT to end things for the day.
A few weeks ago the local newspaper, The La Crosse Tribune, shared an article about gym etiquette. The article covered several major points to keep in my while at the gym, mostly the ones you think of right away like wear gym clothes, clean up equipment after yourself, smile, and share equipment. As those stand as major “rules” to keep in mind, there are several more that I feel belong on the list. These rules don’t necessary trump any other rule as all of the rules should be treated equally.
I’ve acquired some of my points after being at the gym for +50 hours a week every week for the last 3 years. I like to think of it like golf etiquette: you know some stuff right away, but once you get around to playing more and with other people, you learn the game of golf and the etiquette that follows.
Here are my big points on gym etiquette:
- Change into your gym shoes at the door.
Too many people do this far too often.They come in from just mowing the lawn or working outdoors and track their grassy, muddy shoes throughout the gym.Since we were graced with a few beautiful inches of snow in mid-November this year, the gym now has to start dealing with people that feel like they don’t need to change their shoes after coming in from outside.The worst.And now we get an extra-long season of sloppiness this year.Yaaaaaaaaaaay!
- Do NOT do certain types of circuit training during peak hours.
By certain types, I mean don’t grab a barbell, a bench, two sets of dumbbells, a kettlebell, a medicine ball, and mat during the 5 pm after work crowd.It’s rude to take all of that equipment AND SPACE from other members at the gym.There are other ways to circuit train rather than using 27 pieces of equipment. Give me a single kettlebell, or even your body weight and we’ll get through the workout via circuit training just fine.Unfortunately, a lot of this is done by clients who learned it from a trainer.It is up to the trainer to let their clients know about this little rule ahead of time.
- “If you’re sending more texts than doing sets, then you’re doing it wrong.”
I love this quote.I see too many people sending texts between sets WHILE SITTING ON A BENCH AKA NOT SHARING EQUIPMENT (which I’ll get to later).People can only change their songs so many times…You’re at the gym to work out, the text to your bae can wait until later.
- Grunt if you need to, not because you’re supposed to.
Letting a grunt out during some heavy lifting has actually been proven to help with the exercise.For real!However, there’s a big difference when someone grunts because they’re lifting hundreds and hundreds of pounds in a single rep and grunting when you’re curling 15 pounds at an incline on a bench.Get it right, gals and guys.The only other grunting allowed is when you are working on SMR with a foam roller or la crosse ball .Speaking of grunting while doing curls…
- Curl with a bar that is NOT in the squat rack UNLESS the gym is fairly empty.
I realize not all gyms have a smorgasbord of bars/curling bars for you to get your biceps pump on, but people need to realize when to and not to curl in the squat rack, which is usually never.I feel that curls in the squat rack should only be done when the gym isn’t that busy, that way you’re not taking away a bar to complete your back-breaking 65 lb curls when someone could be working on their 315 squat.If you curl in the squat rack in front of the wrong person, stuff like this happens:
Now where ya gonna curl, bro?
Speaking of doing curls….
- DO NOT CURL OR LAT RAISE OR SHOULDER PRESS OR ROW OR SQUAT OR ANYTHING RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DUMBBELL RACK!!
You may be asking, “Well where are we supposed to do it then?”You can do all of these exercises so you can still see your muscles standing 7 feet away from the mirror just as well as you can standing 7 inches away.Trust me on this.When you curl 7 inches away from the dumbbell rack you end up blocking everyone else from getting to their weights that they want to use.This happens all the time and no matter how many times I ask people to politely step back, they seem to migrate right back to that mirror like a moth to a flame.
- Clean up after yourself.
This goes for weights, mats, towels, bands, and sweat.Clean it up.It’s not that hard.It’s like dealing with 5 year olds some days.
- Wear clean clothes (and deodorant).
I see people every day at the gym, just like they see me.They probably see me wearing my Snap polo almost every day.That doesn’t mean I should see you wearing your same gym get-up every day because I know you don’t wash it every day.Maybe you do have 5 of the same shirts and shorts, but when you walk by and I pucker up like I just ate a Warhead for the first time, you better check again.This goes the same for deodorant.Guys and gals need to do this.Ain’t nobody need that pit-stank.
- If you train with a group, be courteous of your surrounds…actually just being common-sense courteous in general.
Too many of us aren’t aware of others because we’re too focused on the task at hand or on ourselves.It’s easy to get into your zone when working out-I do it all the time.Sometimes I miss things too, yet I am always on the “look-out” to make sure I’m not interfering with someone else’s workout.If you come in a group of 2 or 3 or 4 people, you don’t need to sit around and chat about life in between sets.You should be on a rotation.The first one benches while one spots while the other might be doing a lift that is super-setted with your bench.You don’t need to hold each other’s hands while moving from one exercise to the next.Being courteous not only in the gym, but in general, will get your pretty damn far in life.Being courteous in the gym wins your friends and respect.Remember that.
I could find another 9 points to cover if I really wanted to. Another simple rule would be to wear gym clothes to the gym, not jeans or boots, or working out half naked with a swimsuit or just spandex on. Really? In shape or not, we don’t need that. Another one would be not to interrupt someone during a set. An interruption could be trying to talk to them, standing next to them, or heaven forbid you WOULD WALK IN FRONT OF THEM. You wouldn’t do that, right?
Again, gym etiquette goes a long way. Gym staff and trainers should be on top of this with each new member. They are simple fixes if people know what’s going on. Again, like the game of golf, how do I know that walking away while you’re in the middle of your back swing is part of the game? How do I know that walking in your line during a putt is rude? Some of these things need to be covered, some should be common sense. As long as you’re smart about it, a lot of these issues should take care of themselves.
We’re just a couple weeks away until we get to enjoy the company of family and friends for Thanksgiving. Even better is the fact that most of us have multiple families to go visit, which means we have multiple meals to feast on. It’s the best when everyone in the family brings their A-game to the table to make some sort of dish or desert. THE BEST!
So how do you get to enjoy these dishes guilt-free?
You have to make something healthy, of course…
Last year I whipped up some sweet potato crock pot dish with some cranberry sauce and sweet chili peppers. It turned out alright, but the show was stolen by my cousin’s veggie tray.
But seriously, it was a hit. It was enough of a hit that I did have her bring another one during Christmas as well.
It was stolen by the plethora of pies, cookies, and other deserts that my family brought. This year, I’m going that route and I’m seriously considering making a peanut butter cheesecake pie. Yup, I’m pretty sure I just decided that.
Wait, a peanut butter cheesecake pie isn’t healthy. I’m going to use all-natural peanut butter though, so I guess that makes it healthy, right?
Sheeesh! It’s like if something is gluten-free it’s the best thing for you. Check out this article from Nerd Fitness to figure out more about gluten: What the Hell is Gluten?
Before I get too sidetracked here, I better get back to the point.
First and foremost, do NOT be the “guy or gal that brings broccoli and tilapia to a wedding (holiday, in this case)”. I have loved that line since Joe Donnelly used it in one of his posts awhile back. There’s no reason to be that person unless you are in the midst of an extreme competition of somewhat. That may be the only exception.
So I’ll ask again: How do you enjoy these holiday meals guilt-free?
I already covered some basics behind the alcohol consumption that takes place over the holidays. If you missed that post, make sure to check it out here.
We can consider it like a Holiday Survival Guide of sorts.
To enjoy holiday meals guilt-free is to plan ahead.
Yep! It’s that simple. You have to plan ahead.
These are my points for planning ahead:
- Make sure you work out that day. Hard. There’s a reason why this is my first point. Hit all your muscle groups by training total body with maybe some extra emphasis on the lower body muscles. The bigger the lifts the better, but don’t overdo it. If you’re program consists of split or body building routines, make this day your heavy lower day or leg day, respectively. This workout should be done as close as possible to the meal or MEALS that you’ll be having on that day. For most people, this is usually done in the morning because there is plenty of travel and preparation going on throughout the day. I would love to say that I see a ton of people in the gym on these mornings, but that is not the case. There are usually just a couple of people in there. Too many people consider this a “free” day, like so many seem to do on the weekends.
- If you are dieting, make this day your re-feed day. I’m not going to go into much detail on what re-feed days are. Let’s say if you are dieting or going through an extreme fat loss phase in your program, you need certain days to exceed your typical caloric intake by 2-3x. These days should happen every 10 days or so. By planning ahead, you can make the holiday your re-feed day. Oh, and you have to work out this day too J.
- Have a whey protein shake about 45 minutes before the meal. Consuming a protein shake of about 25 g for females and 40 g for males before a meal will help with satiety. It will literally make you feel full. If you are full, you will eat less (about 99% of the time, anyway). You can thank the hormone “ghrelin” for this.
- Eat veggies and protein first, and eat plenty of them. Eating your veggies will also help make you feel full because of all the fiber and slow digesting carbs. As I said in 3), protein will also help with this, but now you are eating whole-food protein which will help even more. Additionally, drink more water to help boost the satiety even more.
- Have a little bit of everything. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. We want to try all the good stuff that’s on the table. So instead of having plate after plate after plate, with each trip consisting of you loading full helpings of each food, make the portion smaller and enjoy it all.
- Be happy and ENJOY the feast. I have plenty of clients who feel terrible after the holidays because of all the food and alcohol they have consumed. A lot of them act like it’s the only day out of the year that they’ve done such a thing…Without going on any further, enjoy the football, enjoy the family and friends, and enjoy the food. In other words: Enjoy the FF&FandF.
Alright. There you have it. It’s a holiday survival guide. Use these tips to help get you through the holiday feasts and to help the pursuit in accomplishing your goals!
The weather outside is…getting colder. I feel that Fall doesn’t truly hit home with me until after Daylight Saving Time ends and it just so happens that Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday, Nov. 2nd. That means we are getting ready for the holiday/winter grind, and that means more time spent with family and friends and more time spent with alcohol.
A lot of people are more active in the summer (especially in the northern part of the great U.S. of A.), however they fall trap to the over-indulged phenomenon I refer to as the “BBB’s of Summer”: Beer, Burgers, and Barbecue. Parties, weddings, baseball games, camping, you name it. It’s all part of the summer months. Gym membership might grow once our daily light is shortened, but that doesn’t mean they will be safe for the Winter.
Yes, I HAD to put this in here. It’s one of the BEST shows on television and I can’t get enough of Dean Somerset's posts with something from GOT in it. And if you don’t know what GOT is, well, then shame, shame, shame on you.
While holidays can bring one many laughs and good times, it also brings alcohol. It all starts with Halloween. I’ve already heard of several drinking games that people handing out candy will be playing come Trick-or-Treating. One game is to take a shot/drink every time you see a child dressed in an Elsa costume from the movie Frozen. Woofta, I have a feeling that could get out of control pretty quickly. A big part of Halloween for young adults is going out on the town and trying to win some prizes like a free ¼ barrel party and gift cards to other bars/restaurants. All alcohol-related. For years I’ve heard several friends talking about Halloween in Madison and how it’s the best thing ever. I’m sure it’s fine and dandy, but it’s not my thing, and no I have never partaken, but I have had my fair share of nights out for Halloween right here in La Crosse!
Like when I went as Dexter and ran into my friends Mark (another Dexter) and fiancée Samantha:
Or a 80’s hair band drummer:
So why am I ranting about alcohol? Well, we pretty much know all of the negative effects alcohol has on you, like how it hampers muscle building, metabolism, mental processes, dehydration, testosterone, performance, energy levels, digestion….ok I’ll stop. Oh and read this article too in case you need any other info.
I want to go into a couple more effects of alcohol though. I want to talk about the decisions involved while consuming alcohol, more specifically food choices (I’ll leave the one-night-stand comments out of this article). There’s also the calorie and “liquid” intake of alcohol.
It’s not just bad to drink past your limit of 2 drinks a day on a regular basis, but this decision is usually followed by an even worse decision involving food. Your conscious abilities aren’t as strong during alcohol consumption and the more your drink the worse they become. Heavy drinking is often followed by poor food consumption. All of a sudden that McDonald’s, pizza, cookies, and ice cream sound that much better. Psh, screw that! I don’t even need alcohol and that stuff sounds good! Well, except for McDonald’s. Unfortunately we all have victim to this and it happens all too often. I’ve been there plenty of times myself.
Sorry, I thought a picture of vegetables would be better than a picture of cookies and help take that craving away. Truth is, we don’t crave veggies after consuming alcohol. Try leaving a veggie tray out during a holiday party. It just doesn’t get eaten. I made my cousin Stacy bring a veggie tray last year to not only Thanksgiving, but Christmas as well. She probably still hates me for it J. We (I) enjoyed them, but once we were full, the veggies weren’t getting attacked anymore, but the pie and cookies sure were. The way alcohol is metabolized in our bodies causes a lot of our craving issues to go along with all those other “attributes”. Read this other OUTSTANDING article on alcohol to learn more about how alcohol is metabolized as well as some other info on muscle building properties related to alcohol.
So once we drink enough alcohol to lower our decision-making skills, we tend to start saying and doing things we normally wouldn’t do when we are sober. We act differently, talk differently, and eat differently when we drink too much. Now let’s top this off by adding in hundreds, if not thousands of extra calories on top of the hundreds, if not thousands of calories we already consumed through alcohol by eating pizza, cookies, and other sweets.
Worst. Combination. Ever.
You just created a diabolic fat storing machine. Nice work. Not to mention that you’re more than likely going to be a complete pile the following day or two. Let me know how that workout on Monday goes for ya.
Let me clarify once again by saying, I know how it is, because I’ve been there just as much as I’ve witnessed it first-hand. It isn’t hard to tell (or smell) when someone went out a little too hard the night before.
So, when alcohol is around, is it a treat? Or trick?
There’s no doubt that alcohol can be considered a treat. We should all try to look at it that way a little more often, rather than look at it as a solution for some other things. Treating yourself to a quality beer or cocktail every so often is not a bad thing. In fact, used in moderation, this could go a long way within your lifestyle and keep the big picture under wrap.
A big idea is to look at what alcohol is associated with. No I’m not talking about bars. Of course you’re going to have a drink if you go to a bar. Wait, did I just associate alcohol to a bar? I sure did. Who says I can’t have a glass of water or coffee at a bar?
But let’s take a look at some other associations. Think of the Green Bay Packers. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Aaron Rodgers? Cheese? Football?
I think he just scored another touchdown against the Bears. Rodgers, and the Packers, are the King of the North, after all.
What do we associate with watching the Packers? Or by going to a game? Alcohol. It’s like the same way we associate crackers in my chili or chicken noodle soup. Or how we associate burgers have to come with fries. Sour cream with baked potatoes. Or how half of the population associates ranch dressing with anything. And these are just food associations! We’re just getting started!
You have to recognize these associations at some point. They make it easier to register what is going which in turn makes it easier to make a change.
All this association talk has brought me to the point that alcohol, usually consumed in copious amounts, is associated with holidays. Not just our fall and winter holidays, but every stinkin’ holiday. I would be a hypocrite if I told you I didn’t indulge, but I also look at it in moderation and I prepare myself mentally and physically for the day, or should I say holiday.
We need to be careful of this association as it has a drastically negative effect towards our goals. This association is usually paired with food, some good, but most bad. There’s your alcohol and candy for Halloween, then we have the Thanksgiving turkey and all the cranberry sauce, pies, and deserts one could fill their stomachs on while watching the NFL, and of course our scrumdiddlyumptious Christmas meals that again are paired with alcohol. Oh, and New Year’s Eve.
If you missed that article earlier in this post, let’s just take a quick peak an how many calories are in a beer:
1-12 oz light beer = ~ 110 calories.
That means 6 beers = ~ 660 calories (that’s a good meal right there).
6 beers also = 72 oz of fluid. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO GET SOME PEOPLE TO CONSUME 72 OZ OF WATER IN A DAY?!?!? But then they have no problem doing it with a beer or drinks.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Let’s look at a weekly example:
2-12 oz light beer = ~220 calories.
Now let’s say you do this 4 nights/week (Mon-Thurs.) and you limit yourself to 2 drinks because that’s the recommended max intake of alcohol.
Well 4 x 220 = 880 calories, plus you’re still left with the weekend consumption of food/drinks. You just added 880 calories to your weekly total. This is why alcohol is so detrimental to fat loss results. Soda and juices have similar effects.
Anywho, adding food to the mix can just make the alcohol seem like it has a less of an effect, which in turn will make you eat more and probably drink more during certain situations.
So let’s go back to the question: Is alcohol a treat, or a trick?
The answer is that it should be both and it should be treated as both. There are times when you get away with a night out and have no worries, but here are more times when you should truly realize what you’re doing to your body. I absolutely take part in both accounts. If your fitness and health goals are that important to you, then this paradigm should be at the forefront of your decision-making.
Better decisions = better results. Let’s not forget what we’re still trying to accomplish here!
As part of a coaching series of posts, the next few posts will be on “How to get through the holidays down 10 pounds of fat” and “Eating for Fat Loss on Thanksgiving and Christmas”. Keep an eye out!
Happy Sunday morning! Gonna be a great Sunday and it's already started with some football. The Lions and Falcons are playing RIGHT NOW because they are over in England. It is literally a full day of football.
With it being a full day of football, there will be a lot of people that are sitting on their butts all day aka in full hip, knee, and most likely ankle flexion. Some also decide to lie down and watch football, which puts you in a nearly fully extended position. Sometimes your knees are bent a little or your back sags a little in the cushions.
Regardless of your chosen position, your back could take a brutal blow.
In order to prevent your back from becoming sore from inactivity, you need to make sure you are standing up at least once every hour. It doesn't matter if you are standing or lying, you need to stand up. Standing up (all the way) helps correct and position your spine.
You can't reset your spine once you are already sitting/lying down because you have already set your spine in a compromised position. We’ll compare it to trying to shift your body during a heavy bench press AFTER the bar is already un-racked (I know, it’s a bit of a stretch). Yeah, you might be able to get away with a change of position, but you’re already compromised. Just re-rack the bar (stand up), and then re-assume the position. Shifting your legs around, moving your butt a little bit, crossing your legs, bending your knees, etc. may feel like a relieving position, but the fact you ARE SHIFTING means that your body is trying to change position.
JUST STAND UP!
Stand up and maybe even get a little stretch in. Have you ever felt that awesome feeling from standing up after sitting for a long period of time? Exactly. Also make sure you make it a complete "standing up". Don't just it a 2 second thing. Enjoy it. Do it a little dance or something. Or maybe you work a little bit on a mobility exercise. The crucifix stretch, or any of these stretches from Bret Contreras for that matter, would be an excellent choice in this case. Going through a quick braced position, which is from Dr. Kelly Starrett’s Becoming A Supple Leopard , is another outstanding choice.
Either way, don’t sit or lie down too long. It’s not that hard to just stand up. Your body will thank you for it later, I guarantee that. The same goes for people that sit all day at work. On the other hand, someone who is on their feet most of the day should actually sit down for a brief period of time every hour or so. For more on people who stand all day, check out Eric Cressey’s article.
Now you have plenty to do today during all the games. You’ll see this article included with all the links to the other great articles and your halftime shows will be filled with knowledge. Enjoy the games, enjoy your Sunday. For those of you in the Midwest, try to make it outside to enjoy some of this awesome weather while it’s still here!
In part 1 of this two-part post, I went over everything you need to know about goals. I went over why you need goals, how to establish them, what to do with them, and how to achieve them. In this installment of my Goals and Just Plain and Simply How to Get Shit Done series, I will go over how to get all the other stuff outside of your goals DONE. I’ve seen plenty of trainers that I look up to write similar articles on getting stuff done and time management, but I wanted to offer my tips on the subject in hopes to help my readers in their daily lives.
Time management can be interpreted in a couple different ways. The first is what you do with your time. The second is how effective you are at accomplishing tasks in a certain amount of time. In a sense, I always think of this similar to an “efficiency rating” you sometimes see in sports. The higher the rating, the more efficient you are at a task or tasks. An example of this would be the often looked-over Sunday Ritual. I can cook a couple pounds of hamburger, several chicken breasts, portion fruit and veggies, and cook/prepare other food items to help me get ready for my week. I have become very effective at this, plus I get to watch all the football I want while I do this. Sometimes I’ll even turn on my Audible App on my phone or iPad so I can listen to a book I’m currently reading. That’s using some time wisely.
I guess both of those views of time management can seem like the same thing, but I view them as two separate components because I could have poor time management skills and still get a lot done in a day. I could train 8 clients in a day and then come home, prepare a meal, watch some football, and play video games for 2 hours while leaving myself with only 5 hours of sleep, for instance. I did not use my time effectively because I didn’t get the next day’s workouts done AND I left myself with 5 hours of sleep. Instead, I could have listened to the football game while writing workouts for my clients and even got an hour of video games in if I really wanted (OR I could substitute that hour of video games with 30 minutes of reading and 30 minutes of writing that I try to do every day).
If you struggle to prioritize certain tasks/components in your life, you need to make a priority-effectiveness list (a little trick I learned while spending a day with the great Alwyn Cosgrove). You need to make a list of things that you want to do that day and combine the things you need to do that day. Now rank them from highest to lowest with the higher the ranking being more of a benefit for you. Whether it’s for your well-being, job, family, or whatever – you need to make a priority list. Essentially this turns into a daily goal list. Now start accomplishing those tasks, starting from the top. This is where “30 minutes of reading and 30 minutes of writing” makes its way on my list and it is ALWAYS above “Maximum 60 minutes of video games”. This is how I can get those books read and blog posts wrote that I feel make me a better trainer, and a better person for that matter, on a 15 hour work day.
Another trick I always tell myself is, “Hey, the video game isn’t going anywhere,” or, “The movie/show will still be available to watch tomorrow.” Here’s the side story: I started viewing things like this when I was going through a tough dilemma in college when I was attending grad school as an “Independent Major” in the Fall of 2011. I was trying to build my résumé by adding in graduate-level classes in hopes to apply to physical therapy school later that semester. I also was studying for my personal trainer certification. Unfortunately, the classes really got to me and I had a horrific start to the semester. I was put into panic mode. If I decided to leave school before a certain deadline, I only had to pay a small portion of my tuition. For those that don’t know, if you are classified as an “Independent Major” you do not qualify for financial aid; therefore, all of my classes were paid for out-of-pocket. Anyway, when I was deciding whether to leave or not, I had a conversation with my bio-chem professor about the situation and he asked, “How old are you?” I replied, “23.” He said, “You’re young, you have a lot to look forward to. School may not be your answer right now, but these classes and PT school aren’t going anywhere. They’ll be there for you when you’re ready.” Boom. I still remember the conversation like it was yesterday.
I ended up finishing the semester and kicking my class’ asses. I also got my personal trainer certification. Even more, I stumbled upon an opening for a personal trainer position at Snap Fitness that I conveniently started in January 2012 and I am still there today. Things worked out pretty well and I still use that philosophy gained from my professor for getting stuff done.
Ok, ok, back to the post!
Another awesome tip is to get up early EVERY day. Yes, even the weekends. The whole reason I decided to write this two-part post is because I woke up at 6 am a couple Sundays ago. You will literally be getting shit done before most people are even out of bed. Getting up early is absolutely critical to getting shit done. Ab. So. Lutely. Critical.
How many times did get reach the end of your day saying, “Ugh, I wish I had more time.” Well, you can give yourself more time if you get up early. For those of you that already get up early, maybe this tip isn’t so much for you, but then again, maybe it is. I get up early often, usually before 5 am and there are PLENTY of days when I thought I could have used more time. Bottom line, get up a little earlier than usual.
Another great tip is to make a daily goal list. I touched base on this earlier when I mentioned creating a priority-effectiveness list. While your p-e list doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as your goal list, it can definitely blend together. I make a goal list each morning in the Notes App on my iPhone. Sometimes I’ll even create the goal list the night before so I know what my day ahead entails. I’ll put things down like get a workout in, write workouts, respond to certain emails, pay bills, call clients, etc. It’s nice to see yourself accomplishing your daily goals, even better when you get to erase them from the list and your goal list gets smaller and smaller. You don’t have to stop at daily goals, either. You can make weekly goals, monthly goals, quarterly goals, annual goals, and lifetime goals.
I’m amazed at how often people do NOT look ahead. I’ve trained with plenty of people aging from 16 years old to 82 years old, and believe me when I say adults tend to not look ahead just as much as our high-schoolers don’t. This trick alone could play an enormous role in your life. I am always looking ahead (it helps to that I have my schedule in the Calendar App in my phone). To me, I know if I’m going to be around the upcoming weekend. If I am, I know I can probably get a workout in, but if I’m not, I have to plan on getting my workouts in during the week. Speaking of which, I always know the day before when I am going to work out the next day. Always. You can put yourself into a similar situation if you simply look ahead into your schedule. You can also plan around other things by looking ahead. Trust me, this one works.
Being proactive is another huge asset to add to your lifestyle (character). It will not only make you successful, but you will also get a lot done! Successful people are usually go-getters-they are doers. There’s a reason why they are so successful. I don’t want to talk a lot on being proactive because the context of this topic could be a whole post on its own. Personally, I feel like we can all become more and more proactive every day. It should be a habit. If you want to learn more on how to be proactive, read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey.
Finally, I wanted to touch base on being organized. Organization will help you get stuff done time and time again. I’m not saying you have to nice and tidy at every moment, but the more organized you are, the more efficient you become. I see fellow trainers who are organized and I can tell you how much more effective their sessions are by means of the workout, preparation, and client-appreciation. Of course, I see the other side of the spectrum as well. Disorganized trainers are usually preparing workouts minutes before the session, forgetting things (A LOT), missing items, and dishing out poor sessions. Being organized as a trainer has helped me accomplish trainer goals, but also daily goals. You being organized will help get your day done right too!
Woofta. I know this post was long as hell, so let me summarize how to get shit done:
- Time Management
- Priority-effectiveness list
- Remember the “It will be there later” philosophy
- Wake up early EVERY day
- Make a goal list
- Daily, Weekly, Monthly, etc.
- Look ahead (plan ahead)
- Be proactive
- Make sure you are organized
I’m not perfect and my tips for helping you get shit done aren’t perfect either. There are plenty of more tips out there, but these are the ones that help me the most and I hope they help you out as well. Thanks for reading this beast of a post. Now go get stuff done!
In Part 1 of this article I touched on metabolic flexibility to be something more like our ability to stay ahead of our body’s ever-persistent battle with homeostasis. While part of that statement is true, metabolic flexibility actually focuses on our body’s ability to burn fat and build muscle at certain times. In other words, our body is flexible in the sense that it can burn fat when we’re away from the gym carrying on with our daily lives as we rest/recover from our workouts, while our body builds muscle when we are at the gym.
Metabolic flexibility is one of those new key terms that is making its way around the fitness community. More than just a term, metabolic flexibility is a concept based on science (so you KNOW it’s good!). A trainer that I really look up to and will have the pleasure to call my mentor is Alwyn Cosgrove. In his book series (New Rules of Lifting (NROL)) he mentions metabolic flexibility as your body’s ability to burn fat during and after the workout as it recovers. In NROL for Life he writes, “The easier your body can switch from burning fat to carbs and back again, the more metabolically flexible you are, and the easier it will be for you to train hard and to enjoy the results of training.”
Metabolic flexibility is our body’s ability to switch from fat and carbs as a fuel source.
As I stated earlier, you want our body to burn fat during your workouts, but more importantly, you should want your body to burn fat AFTER our workouts. Revving up your metabolism will help the body do just that and you can only rev up your metabolism by WORKOUT OUT! And sometimes you have to work out at a high intensity to accomplish such goals. As you increase your intensity during the workouts, your body will shift from fat to carbs as the primary fuel source. This is the opportune time to build some muscle. As your body adapts to your workouts, they need to become more challenging and, dare I say it, more INTENSE.
Here’s what a graph would look like for exercise intensity and fuel source:
As you increase you exercise intensity (based on % of VO2 max) you fuel sources should shift from fats to carbs. The red line represents fat contribution to total energy. You can see that as exercise intensity becomes more intense, fat contribution decreases. Around 60% of max intensity, the body shifts to carbohydrates as its primary source of fuel. This shift is represented by the intersection on the graph. Don’t be scared of intensity though. You adapt right along with your body. This means that something that might have been really intense for you at one point won’t be as intense for you if stay consistent with your program. Consistency is key, just like adaptation.
For the sake of this post, I don’t want to write about diseases (like type 2 diabetes) that play a role in how the body uses fuel, but I do want to talk about a hormone that is well known in the diabetic world: insulin. Insulin is the trigger to what your body uses as fuel. During insulin release (high insulin levels in the body), the body shifts towards a carbohydrate metabolism. This is what you want during exercise so you can increase performance. Therefore, when insulin is low in the body, the body will shift towards the fat-burning mode we all desire. Food is the result of insulin release, so insulin levels are higher after you consume food. Remember that some foods, like ones with a high glycemic-index, result in a larger insulin release. This means that you would ultimately like to consume foods with a low glycemic for all your meals that are not around your workouts. Conversely, you would want to consume foods with a higher glycemic index around your workouts, specifically after.
To see the glycemic index of foods, click here.
Metabolic flexibility doesn’t have to be complicated. Mike T. Nelson loved the concept so much that he made it the focus of his dissertation for his PhD. Then he did something even cooler and summed it up in an easy to read book called (wait for it) Metabolic Flexibility. It’s short and also comes with a membership to Eat to Perform. You get access to unlimited webinars, their private Science Lab Forum where you can ask all the questions you want, recipe books, and a bunch of other goodies. If you are more interested on this subject, it’s definitely worth your time reading.
To wrap things up, it’s important to remember how you can achieve metabolic flexibility. You have to mean business when you head to the gym by revving up your metabolism and building muscle, all while burning fat. Eating whole foods also plays an important role as you can keep insulin secretion lower than what it would be if you were to eat processed foods. Foods with a low glycemic index should be a staple in your diet, especially in meals that are NOT around your workouts. High glycemic foods should be consumed around your workouts so you can increase your performance and build muscle, especially after your workouts. If you follow these steps your metabolism will become flexible and you will achieve your goals-just give it some time (about 90 days). It may seem like a long time, yet it is worth it in the end! Make sure to establish your goals to help keep you focused on the prize. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your body!!