It’s common for the average person who hasn’t been to the gym for a while to be hesitant when walking into the free-weight area, and even the assisted weight machines. Much of this anxiety stems back to your high school years when the bigger kids bragged about how much weight they could put up. Maybe you were even one of those kids. But, after taking time off, you know that you won’t be able to put up the big weights you want—and you shouldn’t. Trying to lift more than you can is a sure way to injure yourself—and what could be more de-motivating than that? Still, there may be a way to get the same results you’re looking for with lower weights than with high weights that you’re not ready for yet. So, whether you are looking to put on mass, tone-up, or build strength this technique may not only help you feel more confident in the weight area, but also help limit injuries.
For decades, the general rule of thumb is that if you want to build muscle you will use moderate weights and 8-12 reps. If you want strength, you would use heavy weights with lower reps. Heard that before? I’m sure you have, it’s how we all grew up. But, what if there was another way to look at how you work out?
Do you want bulging biceps or massive calves? Do you want to break your personal bench best? Or, do you just want to look good? Ignore high reps, low reps, high weight and low weight and focus on fatigue. "Fatigue is the great equalizer here," Stuart Phillips, Ph.D., reports. Phillips is a kinesiology professor at McMaster and the senior author of the study, wrote about the research. "Lift to the point of exhaustion and it doesn't matter whether the weights are heavy or light."
In his study Phillip’s team asked 49 men around 23-years-old to perform a 12-week total-body resistance program. He divided the participants into two groups. One group focused on high reps (20-25), lifting 30% to 50% of their one-rep max. The second group lifted 75% to 90% of their one rep max while focusing on low reps (8-12). Both groups were asked to lift to failure for four exercises: inclined leg press, barbell bench press, machine-guided knee extension and machine-guided shoulder press.
After the 12-week program, each participant was tested for muscle mass and the results showed that both groups achieved the same gains in strength and size, with one exception. The bench press was higher among the low-rep group.
So, why the equal gains? There does appear to be a simple formula and it happens to be perfect for those hesitant to hit the weights. The total work volume (reps X weight) is a great calculation to achieve your results.
Of, course, over time your gains will grow as you add on more weight, so don’t be surprised to find yourself pushing up heavier weights and lower reps as your strength grows. But, for the average person looking to bulk up, or the aging athlete who wants to compete again, this is a great way to get back into the game and both see results while avoiding injury.
Get Inspired! Here’s how they did it..There’s nothing quite as inspiring as a truly jaw-dropping before and after picture. I’m talking about a 50+ pound weight loss where they look like an entirely new person.
It’s striking how much younger people look when the extra fat comes off. An attractive, happy, energetic person was inside of them all along.
Many popular magazines showcase transformation success stories like this at the beginning of a new year. Flip through the pages of before and after photos and it’s hard not to feel inspired to make healthy changes in your own life.
It’s also interesting to read how each person managed to lose all the weight. What was their exercise routine? What diet plan did they follow? The truth is that there are many routines and plans that bring success.
The key is to choose your plan and stick with it.
Of course, this is where things get tricky, during the stick with itperiod. This is when life tempts you to lose your focus and get lazy. This is when even the best intentions don’t help you win.
Below I have compiled a list of Best Transformation Tips that came from the mouths of those who have actually done it. Every tip below is from a fat loss champion who lost 50+ pounds and some even half of their body weight.
5-minute midday meal – Rooster’s Punch
Okay, so maybe you’re going to laugh a little at the name, but Rooster’s Punch fits this quick 5-minute recipe so well. I’ll combine the rooster (roasted chicken breast) with the punch (Sriracha) and a few other ingredients. This meal is light, flavorful and has a nice variety of protein, veggies and cheese.
This is a great midday or post-workout meal to keep you going all afternoon!
Once your pan has warmed up, add the bell pepper and onion and cook on low to medium heat until the vegetables begin to char a bit. Then add the chicken and salt and pepper to taste. If the chicken is already pre-prepared you only need to warm it for a minute. But, if the chicken is raw, you’ll want to fully cook it.
When your chicken and veggies are cooked, put them on a plate or in a bowl, add the cilantro and feta. Give it a little turn with a fork.
Now for the Punch! Add Sriracha to the mixture for a little sweetness and a nice punch.
I love this meal. It’s so quick, it’s nutritious, delicious and provides about 26 grams of protein to help rebuild your muscles after a great workout.
How to Step Up When You Want to Step Out
There’s always going to be those times when you are working out, whether its cardio or weights, when you can’t help but keep watching the clock. Two minutes seem like a half an hour. You might not have anywhere to go after you’re done at the gym, you just aren’t feeling it that day. As much as I work out and hang out around the gym in my personal and professional life, you can bet I’ve had these feelings too.
So, what do you do? Do you just call it quits for the day? Do you just take off? You can, that’s an option. But, is it the right option? I say, that unless you’ve broken something or have another injury that’s holding you back, the answer should be “No.”
That can be a hard answer, especially if you’ve been seeing great results and just feel like today is an off day. The problem that I see is that it is much easier to break your habit than to create it. You’ve been doing an awesome job sticking to your workout. You’ve been seeing gains, whether it’s weight loss, running farther, or chiseling your abs. So, what does one day hurt? The reason you are doing so well is because of the time and effort you put in. You didn’t start this journey of yours to get to the point of seeing results and then backing away. And yes, for many people, unnecessarily skipping even one workout can give permission to skip another and another, until that habit you worked so hard to create becomes a snowball running downhill. Leaving early one day may not seem like it, but that shortened or skipped workout can have consequences.
So, what happened when you start feeling like your done for the day, before your day started? How do you get re-motivated to hit the gym hard? Here are three ideas to get you re-motivated:
It’s crazy how many times I’ll get asked, “So what protein powder do you use?” I’m a big guy and I’ve worked out for years. And truth be told, anyone who’s goal is to compete at a professional physique or bodybuilding level, likely does have a favorite protein powder, including me. My favorite is Optimum Nutrition's 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein. But, whenever someone asks me that question, I have a follow-up to throw right back at them. “Why do you care about my protein powder?
I’m not trying to be rude, but I do want to be clear—natural protein is where you should be getting most of the protein in your day. What I find is that people who want to bulk up go straight for those big buckets of protein shakes. But, the fact is, with a little food prep you can get better nutrition, results and as flavor from protein-rich meals as opposed to chugging down protein shakes all day.
The fact is that your foods will provide you not only protein, but a long list of vital nutrients to go along with the protein. Don’t get me wrong. Protein powder has its place. It is fast, convenient and a heck of a lot easier to bring to the gym than a roasted chicken. But, the important thing to remember, is that it is a supplement for what you miss in your regular diet—not a replacement. In addition, gram for gram, the powder can also workout your wallet more than foods.
When it comes to food-based protein you are looking at meat and vegetable. Meat proteins such as chicken, beef, pork and rabbit provide a ton of flavor, and as a complete protein can provide all the amino acids that your body doesn’t produce. Vegetable proteins such as tofu, beans, peanut butter and lentils are incomplete and do not have all of the amino acids your body needs. However, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, essential carbs and good fats that your body needs for digestion.
So, while you may need a little prep-work to focus on eating food-based protein as opposed to protein powders it’s well worth your time, and of course time equals results.
Think of it like this:
Your prep work while you make your meal is like a warm-up before you work out. Eating is the workout. And your protein powder is dessert.
When people think “getting fit” one thing they often don’t think of is mental focus. Sure, you get that achieving your fitness goals will take a positive mental attitude and the drive to achieve your goals. But, do you think about a “clean” mind? A mind that is alert, and growing along with those biceps and shoulders? Do you think about the focus you can develop every day?
Well, the truth is that many people may make it to the gym every day, they may eat clean, but something is missing. That something might be energy and focus. Here are four suggestions to help you keep your mental alert flowing. We will address each in more detail as part of my Mental Focus Series. But, for now, here is your quick run-down:
Everyone knows that sleep is important, but how much sleep you get seems to be directly related to you. While some people need 8 to 10 hours a night, others may function well on 5 to 6 hours of sleep. There may not be a standard rule, but there are guidelines, and those guidelines often range from 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Another option, which may help those who can’t seem to find enough sleep is called polyphasic sleeping. Polyphasic sleeping is splitting up your sleeping habits in small blocks throughout the day. The belief is that these short bursts of sleep, over time, will eventually allow your body to embrace deep sleep benefits that take hours to achieve at night. In addition, you are replenishing your energy more often, which also appears to work to the body’s benefit.
However you choose to sleep, finding the number of hours that work for you is necessary. Whether you sleep eight hours at once, split up six hours over a 24-hour day, or sleep five hours at night and two hours in the afternoon there is a sleep schedule and requirement that will work for your body. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you.
The quick meditation
Did you know that even 15 minutes of meditation every day will provide benefits to your overall health? You can meditate pretty much anytime of the day and for however long works for you. Like anything it is consistency over time that builds the greatest strength. Meditation helps you by:
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say they are an excellent multi-tasker. But, the fact is, multi-tasking does not actually exist. Multi-tasking is performing several tasks at the same time. People who insist they are great at multi-tasking are starting and stopping tasks multiple times and often in a short period of time. Think of the expression “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Sure, you might be performing or going through the actions, but are you really performing all of those actions well?
Learning to finish one project before moving onto the next will not only ease your routine, but will also allow your mind to focus on one task enabling you to perform better. Many “multi-taskers” don’t believe this is an option. The truth is, they may be afraid that it is an option.
When you are feeling a little drowsy it’s easy to reach for that cup of coffee, or that energy drink. But, that may not be the best way to stay alert. From headaches to caffeine withdrawal to inability to sleep, too much caffeine can cause all sorts of problems. Instead, try a quick 5-minute workout. Squats, pullups or a favorite air boxing routine are great ways to get the blood flowing in your body and bring alertness back to your mind. This not only improves your mental focus, but also burn a couple extra calories and you must love that.
Keeping your mental focus up is how you maintain motivation. Consider your willingness to hit the gym when you are tired compared to when you are awake. These are just a few potential steps to improve your performance at work, school, and home. The better you feel the better you do!
Eat What You Want…In Moderation.
Have you ever had a friend tell you, “Sorry, I can’t eat that piece of cake. I’m on a strict diet.” Well, first off, I’d like to say good job and congrats to your friend. It takes a lot of self-control to watch everyone else eat cake while you stand there watching. After all, who doesn’t love cake? But, I’d also like to mention that if you are taking an overly strict approach to diet, you may be setting yourself up for a harsh lesson in losing weight.
My personal belief is that you should not restrict yourself from the foods you love. Yes, that even means pizza, hot dogs, cake and cookies. Now, I’m not telling you to eat an entire box of Oreos. But, I am telling you to loosen up a bit. While I have all the appreciation in the world for people who maintain a strict clean diet, for most people – me included – that’s a near impossible feat.
There are several theories for taking a break and eating what you love:
Eating what you love doesn’t have to be a bad thing if eaten in moderation and you think you can handle it Just remember keep your portion-size in check and don’t do it so often that you put your goals at risk.
Being Momoa – How to Break Your New Year’s Slump
How many times can you honestly say, “I’ve accomplished my New Year’s resolution.” Well, chances are you can’t. But don’t worry, you are in the majority. A recent University of Scranton study shows that of the 41% of Americans who make a New Year’s resolution, only about 8% of those accomplished that goal. That’s an astounding stat.
Well, if you know me or read my blog, then I’m thinking you won’t be surprised that nearly 40% of resolutions made have something to do with improving your body and mindset:
But, you don’t have to be one of these statistics. Resolutions are, by nature, changing your habits. And the hardest habit to break are those lofty ones. A lofty habit is not, “I would like to drop 10% of my body fat by July.” That’s a habit you can probably attain and for some people, they can attain it quickly. But, that wasn’t your habit this year, was it?
I remember talking to a friend of mine recently. 6’2” and 245 lbs. His goal for the year was “I want to look like Jason Momoa.” If you don’t know him, then just Google Aquaman. Sure, my friend’s five inches shorter, but he is also 45% body fat. Probably not a good start if Momoa is your goal. Does that mean my friend will never look like a superhero? Not at all. It means that his goal was so lofty and undefined that his likelihood of giving up is a lot greater than his goal of success.
So, how do you work in your goals to achieve your New Year’s resolution?
The answer is steps instead of strides. Strides are great in a short sprint, but in a marathon, you’ll fall apart before you hit mile 13. My suggestion is to shorten those goals and as the year progresses, and more importantly, as you see progress, then you should incrementally adapt your goals.
While most of you likely hit the gym a couple times a week, so does my “Momoa” friend. He was even a high-level athlete at one time in his life. But, a lofty goal is a lofty goal despite your past and despite your mindset. So, what can he do to become Momoa?
It’s never too late to adjust your New Year’s Resolution. In fact, it’s a good idea to always evaluate, grow and incrementally adapt your goals to your current success. Those steps will get you farther than strides every time.
If you’ve been training your body for a while then you’ve probably been trying to eat clean as often as possible. This can be difficult depending on your circumstances. For instance, if you feel like you don’t have much time to cook then you might rely on unhealthy fast food or microwave meals now and then. While it’s usually fine to rely on these “fast” meals occasionally, it can quickly turn into a bad habit if you’re not careful.
As a personal trainer that’s been working in the field for many years, it surprises me that so much fake information is being passed around on the internet. You’d think that the internet is a great source of information for everything from cooking healthy clean meals to how to do your strength training exercises, but there’s just so much fake information on the internet that I need to write this article to bust a few myths.